Oh, Canada by Janine Donoho

Wine country

Wine country

Graceful carved art

Graceful carved art

Because I really can see British Columbia, Canada, from my uplands home in Washington state, sometimes I yield to the lure and drive along the glorious Okanagan River valley that takes me to Penticton. It’s noteworthy to mention that the Okanogan River, a tributary of the Columbia River, shifts to ‘Okanagan‘ in neighboring Canada, although the river’s not nearly as polite as its humans. Also, the national anthem alluded to in this blog’s title is actually ‘O, Canada‘.

Dogs of Penticton

Dogs of Penticton

My last trip to Penticton, British Columbia, can be shared via photo gallery. So if you crave a trip to a more civil society than our current political season serves up, here’s a virtual journey. Please enjoy!

Penticton view

Penticton view

Torii leading to garden room

Torii leading to garden room

Japanese garden pond

Japanese garden pond

Perfect lunch

Perfect lunch of wild salmon & salad

Dark chocolate ginger - yum!

Dark chocolate ginger – yum!

Ikeda Japanese Garden

Ikeda Japanese Garden

Paddle-wheeler as museum

Paddle-wheeler as museum

Cherry Blossoms Deconstructed by Janine Donoho

The illusive Sakura no Kisetsu

The illusive Sakura no Kisetsu

What 1 month's travel looks likeThroughout March’s billowy gusts and slushy melts, I learned one hundred Japanese words and phrases promised to express 1,000 ideas. Two hour hikes with Nina Sophia filled with practice sessions until she recognized “O-tearai wa loko desu ka?” as an important question, although probably not as “Where’s the bathroom?” By the Ides of March, I knew the names of the snow monkeys inhabiting Jigokudani Park. My 21-inch ultralight suitcase was packed and ready to go for a month of Sakura no Kisetsu—cherry blossom season—in Japan. Except that’s not what happened.Packing light

Instead I picked Intrepid Guy up from the Penticton, B.C. on his way to a hospital stay followed by six to eighteen months of trudging toward remission. Trust me, we’d have preferred Sakura no Kisetsu. I unpacked my luggage in half an hour, and then stashed it on a high shelf where I wouldn’t be confronted daily with wretchedness. Except that’s not what happens.

The packing processAs my sweet guy tackles this autoimmune nightmare with a medieval regime of drugs that fail to address the issue while killing what was once an entirely beneficial immune system, I’ve put my head down to get through it—again. Frankly, this “leaning in” attitude has gone on a decade too long. Instead of cherry blossoms, we’ve changed course. Yes, I serve as Intrepid Guy’s support system, and he keeps his eyes on the prize of reclaimed health. Even so, I’m discovering petite aventures that keep me close enough for the daily toil, yet allow me to plump up my dehydrated spirits. A

Mt. St. Helen's knee

Mt. St. Helen’s knee

trip north to Penticton, British Columbia, went well until a bad cartoon fall left me with a Mt. St. Helen’s hematoma on one knee, a broken nose, and a jaw that’s not quite right. After six weeks, an ergonomic cane suffices for those times when the healing knee buckles. Still I’m back to condensed jaunts elsewhere, which alleviate a graceless tendency to gnaw my own paws. Today I muse over how others deal with setbacks—or worse.

What kinds of setbacks have you experienced? How did you deal?Thinking light

The Quality Writer by Janine Donoho

Lindt TrufflesAfter I penned Rise of the robot writers?, Intrepid Guy conveyed the Love Hound and me to a Posh Canadian Resort for my birthday: Lindt truffles, whirlpool workout space, and plush quiet. Visualize doggie treat bags on the door knob—twice. This was most likely due to the Hound, Goodwill Ambassador personified. We even enjoyed a celebratory dinner while a pup sitter, Ms. Doubtfire without the gender confusion, rubbed the Hound’s belly.

IG with a frozen soul patchShortly after this holiday, we stayed at Hyperbola 7 for a work related event. This stopover offered none of the opulence at a third of the rate. Please don’t take this as an indictment of our lodgings—they match our resources. Still the contrast made me wonder: what distinguishes a great novel from, well, schlock? As a keen reader, I know the differences fall beyond production costs.

Come with me while I revisit a once favored writers’ conference outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. One particular year ended my attachment to this particular gathering. As with many such offerings, the information and networking opportunities shrank disproportionate to my outlay.

That year I attended a seminar offered by a prolific writer who claimed he never, ever edited. Ever. His addendum seemed to be that writers who did were chumps, and he had the money to prove it—kaching, kaching. Since I’d never read any of his novels, I remedied that once I returned home.

My library system supplied a work for hire piece based on a television series. It quickly became obvious that he never edited. Ever. I suspect he’s one of the hirelings that a robot soon will supplant.Work for hire

Yet deny a wordsmith the chance to make a living? Not me. Plus I enjoy the works for hire of other writers. The difference? Could it be respect for process?

Many write well, even lyrically. They surprise me with reversals and apply craft to the finished product. Despite integrating segments into an ongoing storyline, grace and heart suffuse their works. I deduce that they even—gasp!—edit.

These principled writers take me elsewhere and deliver on story. Begging the question: what separates hack from storyteller? Perhaps more importantly, who among us will be replaced by robots? Let’s start a conversation.Stacked books

Grit by Janine Donoho

Where the world drops away.

Where the world drops away.

Grit—those pebbles that irritate tender folds of skin during extreme hikes. Wildly enough, grit’s also the resolve to persevere through setbacks. In other words, LIFE, or as I call it, “Putting on the big girl panties.”

Walking buddiesI’ve a confession to make. After a spin cycle of agitated road trips, firefly visits with friends, and the blue funk that rolls in after launching Intrepid Guy on another cross-global deployment, I’m less than excited about spelunking into my writing today. There’s the primal thrill over my coming launch of Soundings, Water Elemental, but I’m still a bit—well—flat.

Sparkling wine days are over for the time being. Ceaseless snow amasses across the highlands. Intrepid Guy sits in a lovely pink hotel room in Penticton until the airport connecting him to Vancouver, British Columbia, clears for flights, and I need to shovel the entryways and figure out why our faithful soapstone stove refuses to burn—yes, low oxygen, but why? Later, after I do my daily work…Writers make the best friends

In that vein, I brew coffee, a gift from a best friend and writer, before facing the blank screen. Pavlovian conditioning comes through and words begin to flow. Yes, I’m that writing hound. For what is this chosen pursuit other than goals set and pursued? Relentlessly.

Today’s mantra? Be brave. Gain stamina and persistence through practice. Show grit. It’s the real deal.Grit

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
The big day is here.

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