Going Retro on 2015 by Janine Donoho

Happy New YearAs a singular flow in the space-time continuum, 2015 crested, then mired in unpredictable ways. The year began by launching Intrepid Guy to Japan for another stint just as I published yet another novel, Soundings, Water Elemental—this time through Booktrope. That vast ocean of social media became a marathon swim. Still I virtually encountered booklovers along the way who I’d have gladly met for a delightful cuppa and conversation.Soundings Cover Upgraded 1-23-2015

Then in March, I packed and brushed off my language skills for a month in Japan that ended when I picked Intrepid Guy up at the Penticton airport before driving him to a hospital in Wenatchee. This time his immune system attacked vital organs, requiring six-months of heavy immunosuppression followed by another half year of lighter drug therapy.

Pup & Man Dome

Pup & Man Dome

As a bubble boy, what bothered Intrepid Guy most was the loss of his rafting season, especially one that included another run down the Grand Canyon. To compensate him for his loss, we adopted—wait for it—yes, a whippet puppy, Bodhilicious. Bodhi’s puppy shots coincided with Intrepid Guy’s first drug regime. And yes, we went there and shaved his head. He turns out to have a very nicely shaped dome, but you be the judge.

Home on wheels

Home on wheels

Both burst back into the world during a shakedown voyage for our 16’ Lance travel trailer as we made the rounds from home to Spokane to Wenatchee and back again. The trailer balanced beautifully with our Ram 1500 Eco diesel, so Intrepid Guy did a happy dance. We also began socializing Bodhi and the AKC show in Chelan helped. We met very cool dog people plus gorgeous Bodhi took both Best in Class and Best in Show for puppies. Since this was a beauty contest, it’ll be his last. His big brain really needs a job and with his propensity for running through culverts—gasp!—agility training might do the trick.

Bodhi Wins Big at AKC 2015

Bodhi Wins Big at AKC 2015

Our year of wildfires proved utterly predictable. Canadian fire plumes began in April and our rugged landscapes can be problematic for firefighters. We bugged out during Level 3 evacuations as the 9 Mile Wildfire roared into being. Friends and neighbors lost outbuildings and homes to the inferno even as staunch firefighters stopped the blaze ¼ mile from our home. Air quality remained hazardous throughout summer and into fall. Recovery continues while winter snow and melt cycles cause slides along burn areas.

Valiant firefighters

Valiant firefighters

Soundings at Beach Books

Soundings at Beach Books

Yes, I’m furious with Volkswagen’s intentional lies about our Golf TDI’s environmental impact. Yes, the polluting machinery sits in our garage as we lean into a buyout. Nothing less should be allowed. Still I drove the beast to Oregon this October for our Seaside writers’ retreat and book signing at the hospitable and brilliantly arranged Beach Books. As always, joy prevailed as I embraced the chance to hang with writers and make new friends.

Anj & I at Seaside signing

Anj & I at Seaside signing

Please allow me to wish you all the most joyous of new years. May health and happiness infuse your lives. With our home-on-wheels, who knows? We may find ourselves in your neck of the woods during this coming year.

Happy pack

Travel rig

Hot wheels

Moving toward Grace by Janine Donoho

Bodilicious new pack member.

Bodilicious new pack member.

I suspect we all struggle toward thankfulness when stress and exhaustion overwhelm our intent. During a brief stay on the coast a few weeks ago, a wise friend redirected my tendency—okay, total embrace of the whine—toward appreciation. After restarting my meditation practice a few mornings ago, today I’m advancing toward gratitude.

Shakedown cruise

Shakedown cruise

Last week we combined the shakedown cruise of our new sixteen foot home-on-wheels with expanding our pack by one puppy. Intrepid Guy’s latest labs show great improvement and full remission’s within view. During last night’s microburst of gale force winds, then lightning strikes, we emerged unscathed. Now Department of Natural Resource (DNR) crews are attacking the three wildfires started by strikes.

Lightning flash

Lightning flash

Mind you, this is just the big thanks stuff. My gratefulness goes much deeper and has an infinite horizon. Now I close thinking of my geographically distant friend who embodies grace. She’s also a mentor, albeit a continent away—too far for a cuppa. Oddly enough, or perhaps not, her name’s ‘Grace.’ Here’s to you, my friend.

Viceroy butterfly meets geranium

Viceroy butterfly meets geranium

Atrophy & Recovery – Part I by Janine M. Donoho

As physical therapy continues as a mainstay in my life, on a daily basis I confront the vagaries of atrophy. You might have guessed that this isn’t a funhouse by Pink’s or anyone else’s standards. Awakening withered muscles hurts. Rebuilding muscle hurts. For the first time in my adult life, I cannot distinguish between muscle pain and joint pain, which when you’re recovering from multiple screws in the rotator cuff, can really mess with your composure.

Nonetheless, once a week I’m driven like Miss Daisy to a physical therapist who first calms both sane and absurd fears, then manipulates the joint beyond what I’m capable of doing myself. The therapist also assigns new exercises. I tell myself these remedial tricks are more than deceptive smoke-and-mirror pranks. Despite the first six month marathon of supposed ‘recovery’, this one’s imminent, isn’t it? I’m simply in the fireweed stage of renewal after a devastating forest fire, right? Yet without drama, I make weekly, even daily, gains. Nonetheless, there’s often been half a painkiller at about 3 a.m. along with 1-2 icepacks each night.


So what are the corollaries to this if you’ve allowed your writing muscle to deteriorate? For I find myself in that odd space, too. As a lifelong writer, this feels unexpectedly distressing. Also, kind of geekishly interesting. The last time I dealt with this loss of gravity came after years as a primarily technical writer in test engineering. At that time, I faced the blank sheet of fiction with trepidation much like the wasted shoulder.

Now for the fascinating part of this process. You see, at that time, mentors and nonfiction helped me through the there-be-dragons phase. Ultimately, this route turned a ‘what-to-do-with-a-blank-page’ quandary into a vast shift from one career to another. The specifics on how this happened? Well, you’ll learn more in part deux. For your edification and mine, enjoy these views of my summer garden and new puppy. I mean, who doesn’t love a puppy? Now, it’s time for another ice pack.Manny Kartouche' & Nina Sophia, puppy

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
The big day is here.

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