Gardening in the New Normal

While the unprecedented heat wave that brought triple-digit temperatures to the Pacific Northwest has passed, it has left its mark on the region’s trees and plants. Fir trees with brown patches, rhododendrons with scorched leaves and grass the color of straw dot the landscape. Since we should expect wetter winters and drier summers in the future, it’s a good time to reconsider how we garden.

In Gardening for Summer-Dry Climates, Nora Harlow provides suggestions and solutions specific to Pacific Northwest gardeners. A large portion of the book is devoted to plants that can withstand hot, dry summers; and to preventative measures, such as ways to harvest rainwater and landscaping that minimizes the risk of forest fires, making this a must-read for serious gardeners.

Olivier Filippi, known in France as the “dry gardening guru,” brings his expertise to Planting Design for Dry Gardens. Instead of water-hogging lawns that require constant maintenance, Filippi provides gardeners with alternatives such as ground covers and flowering meadows, ornamental grasses and shrubs, and gravel gardens that simultaneously highlight attractive, drought-resistant plants while keeping weeds at bay.

Xeriscaping — gardening or landscaping that reduces or eliminates the need to irrigate plants — has been widely practiced in desert and Mediterranean-type climates; as Pacific Northwest summers get drier and hotter, it’s a practice worth considering. In The Water-Saving Garden, Texas-based Pam Penick suggests drought-tolerant plants that are showstoppers along with practical solutions like grading soil and embracing pots and containers. In the section “Oasis or Mirage? Creating the illusion of water in the garden,” Penick “squeezes water from stone” with ideas for using glass and other materials to enhance your garden in surprising ways.

~posted by Frank

#BookBingoNW2021 Black Joy

A short list of good reads that can be applied to the Black Joy 2021 Book Bingo square. These are funny, romantic stories that follow Black characters whose best lives find them.

Girl Gurl Grrrl: On womanhood and belonging in the age of Black girl magic by Kenya Hunt, deputy editor of the fashion magazine Grazia UK, is an anthology of essays about her life and career, sharing the joys and trials of being a Black American in the UK. 

28-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate in Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers, having just completed her PhD in astronomy. A straight-A high achiever, she is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman she doesn’t know, until she does exactly that… Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2021 Black Joy”

Pregnancy During Pandemic

The pandemic was a very odd time to be pregnant. All the ideas I had about community and gathering and connection was very different, but also in a way I didn’t have to share this time with anyone besides just my husband and I. I had a small bubble I could reach out to, I could share what I wanted to share, and read what I wanted to read without that added pressure of what peoples idea of this time is supposed to be. If there are silver linings to this – that would be it.

Here are a few books that spoke to me:

Before

motherhood so whiteMotherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America by Nefertiti Austin

The thing about being a mother is that it’s different for everyone and hearing stories outside my world view was something I sought before I found out I was pregnant. Especially in a country that views parenthood from a white lens. Nefertiti finds her way to motherhood by adopting a Black child and faces the stereotypes of single Black motherhood, of the foster care system, and raising a child in this America. Continue reading “Pregnancy During Pandemic”

#BookBingoNW2021 Coming of Age

Looking to fill your book bingo Coming of Age square? Check out one of these titles, in which characters confront confusing situations and pursue big dreams as they enter adulthood.

White Ivy by Susie Yang
As a teenager, Chinese-American Ivy is caught between the disapproval and harsh parenting style of her parents, and the love of a grandmother who teaches her how to steal to acquire the trappings of success. As an adult, Ivy reencounters her teenage crush, golden boy Gideon Speyer, and sees a chance to realize her youthful dreams, even as past secrets threaten to derail her.

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
In 1989, the Danvers (MA) high school field hockey team dabbles in some light witchcraft in order to get to the state championships. Structured as a group story, told from a collective perspective, each character also has a chance to narrate. This is full of sly humor, 80s cultural references, and whip smart girls figuring it all out. Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2021 Coming of Age”

Of Food and Love

As a lover of food media such as the Great British Baking Show, as well as a lover of romances, I am definitely the target audience for romance novels that include a strong food-based storyline. If you are too, or want to see what that means, check out one of these recent romantic comedy novels featuring cooking competitions:

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron
Reena has fiercely maintained her independence from her caring, meddling family, pursuing a career outside the family business and firmly rejecting her parent’s efforts at matchmaking. Recently laid off, her friends convince her to pursue a reality TV cooking competition for amateurs. The catch? Contestants must enter as part of a couple. Enter Reena’s hunky new neighbor, Nadim. New to town but already a fan of Reena’s cooking, Nadim agrees to pose as her fiancé for the show. As quick banter turns to real attraction, buried secrets from Reena and Nadim’s Toronto Indian diasporic community loom.

Continue reading “Of Food and Love”