Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Great Escape

I have recently begun having enough time to read again. I found a book that I can't put down and since it is the first in a series, and I am nearly done with it, I ran to Barnes and Noble before coming home tonight so as to have the next in the series. Imagine my embarassment when I realized it is in the new releases for TEENS section! AAAKKKKK I just turned 40.... I am not sure what that says about me and what need in me this book series has touched.... but I am thoroughly enjoying it!

Mostly what I am very aware of is the fact that this book (and the "Dexter" series I just whizzed through on CD) is that the story that is told is an absolute escape for me. I become a voyeur into another life and can go for the ride and enjoy the thrill and all the emotions a good story teller can invoke.

I find that too with music. I am currently in love with Alanis Morissette's new album. I have an affinity for singer/songwriters because somehow I think the music that they sing is more real and they put more feeling into the song because it is a part of them and that makes the music better.

I gotta run.... only about 100 pages left and I need to know how Bella survives!!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

A funny thing happened the other day

I bought a sprinkler last week. I was looking it over thoroughly to see how much area it would cover when I saw this warning:

"For outdoor use only."

Really? That ruined ALL my plans for watering my indoor plants!

This means that someone actually used the sprinkler inside their house. And probably complained to the company about it.

And the same day, I saw something else that caused me to laugh hysterically!

A building is being put up and I saw 4 people working on it. Well, actually I saw 1 person working. He was standing on a scaffold crane swinging, rather lazily by the way, a hammer onto a nail in the plywood. There was a man on the scaffold with him, leaning, seemingly comfortably, on the railing. I would have guessed he was there for safety, except he wasn't watching the hammer swinger... he was chatting with his coworkers down below. The operator of the scaffold crane was sitting in his seat sideways, immersed in conversation with yet a fourth person, whose purpose I couldn't determine, who was standing to the side of the crane, casually standing, enjoying the nice weather we were having. Leading me to this conclusion....

How many construction workers does it take to nail one nail into plywood?
Four. 1 to hammer the nail, and 3 to act uninterested in the job.


Summer has only begun


Picture from the local news paper... that isn't the moon... it is the sun!
I awoke this morning and discovered our house was socked in with fog. Except it wasn't fog... It was smoke, thick enough to taste it. I have worked fires and been exposed to less smoke!
I am beginning to redefine the meaning of 'trial by fire' in my life. I just got home from evacuations for fires for the 2nd time in 2 days, with more expected as the week goes on. Not my evacuations mind you, but other peoples. My area, for now, thankfully, is safe. So here I sit 2 weeks after a fire that started on a Tues and caused me to give out evacuation advisories to others, only to find myself being told to evacuate days later. Now, with the new fires, I have found myself traveling to ends of the county waiting to be told the next road that needs to be notified. This time it seems a little scarier. No my house isn't in jeopardy. But the whole north state is on fire, so resources are thin. The smoke is thick so there aren't any aircraft on the fires. In fact, a lot of the fires are just burning with out any firefighters or equipment on them. Since they aren't -currently- threatening any homes, they are a low priority and they just get to burn. But even the fires that are threatening residences don't have a ton of resources protecting them because it just isn't available.

Saw a funny thing today... 6 firefighters enroute to a fire. In a minivan. Yep..... a dark blue mini van filled with fire fighters... it was a rental. No transportation to get the personnel to the fire, so they rented vehicles.

With difficult terrain, fuels dry, humidity high, and winds unpredictable, it is going to be a long, smokey, hot, scary week.

And the summer has just begun.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weddings

California began allowing gay marriage as of yesterday at 5:01pm. Four years ago San Francisco had begun allowing gay marriage and we made an appointment to get married there. But it was taken away before we could go there to get married. But Portland Ore began the marriage thing and so we dashed up there and got married. It was legal in Oregon for less than a month and then we got our money back with apologies.

Now we have a shot at it again. Even though we refer to each other as 'wife', we aren't married. We are.... in so many ways we are... but we aren't.

Today we went to the clerk recorders office and paid our money. Once again we are on the road to married-dom. Someone asked me 'Just how many times are you to gonna get married?'.. I replied; "till it sticks!". This time it just might.

The Federal government still won't recognize it, however. We will not be able to file taxes jointly, although we still have to figure them jointly for CA purposes. If she or I die, our social security benefits get to go right back into the governments pockets and cannot be passed along to the surviving partner. If we leave California to simply travel elsewhere in the US, our marriage will probably not be recognized and we could be denied the right to make important medical decisions for each other should the need arise. Thus we still have to have the back up paperwork in hand. Or just don't travel, I guess.

I will NEVER get how my marrying my partner hurts another soul or takes a single thing away from anyone else in this nation. WHY does it matter to anyone else who I marry? I don't know how anyone can say that I shouldn't be able to make a HUGE decision for my partners well being should something horrible happen to her, or vice versa. Why should I have to have separate documents that say she can make medical or financial decisions for me? Or worry that without the legal documents in place should something happen to her I can lose our home? Preventing us from marrying doesn't benefit anyone else... it only hurts us! How rude is that?

All my soap box rantings aside, on July 10th, our 8th anniversary, we will be saying "I do" (again).

Here's to change!

Post Fire life

It has been one week since that nasty fire began to make its dent on my life. The evacuation notice was lifted Sunday afternoon and within minutes our power went out as the last remaining powerpole that brought power into our community gave up and fell over. Such was the day.

Six hours later power was back and it was time for bed. My dreams tell me just how vulnerable and scared I really was. I know I maintained an outward appearance of calm concern and perhaps a bit of frustration as I looked for the next thing I could do to ensure our safety. Inside I was a nervous wreck. But since my wife was outwardly worried enough for the both of us, I decided it was better to not let my nervousness make its way out. My dreams are now releasing that tension, with dreams of hearing radio traffic from the firefighters, but not being able to tell what they're saying, as well as the intense need to leave where I am, but with no ability to get out. Even now though, the dreams are less and less and I am allowing them to work out the emotional build up that needs release.

The animals were worried too, but they were all troupers, sticking close and helping where they could... as clothes were being removed from the dryer to be packed, I dropped a sock. Never fear Kaeden is here!! And he brought it along, very helpfully... Love that dog.... Hazer maintained a vigilant watch on all the goings on. I am sure he listened to the bird news wire to know what was going on and I looked to him to see if he felt the need to get away suddenly. I never got that from him so I think his newswire was probably more accurate than my TV newswire.

So it is all done now. And once again poof, another week is here and even nearly half over! Nothing happens that the next thing takes its place. Because, as always, time moves on.

On to the next subject too!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

fire update... relief

Just wanted to throw out an update... we are breathing easier (no pun intended, but actually, there is no smoke up here...)

Today they are attacking the living daylights out of the fire with a bunch of aircraft. I can hear them working fervently as they pass over head and watch them work in the canyon below us. They are cautiously optimistic that they've got a solid handle on this now.

I am SO glad I was able to listen to the fire's progress with a handheld radio all yesterday. Without it, we would have had to leave because we couldn't be sure what was going on with the fire. Once I figured out that I was listening to the fire crew in Butte Creek canyon below us... I was GOLDEN and we felt comfortable staying. When the fire got past/around them yesterday we couldn't have stayed without hearing what was going on and knowing that air support was redoubling efforts and that they were fully aware of what was happening. All I could see was that the quality of the smoke had changed and instead of just generally hanging out it was beginning to column and climb and of course was more furious and black, indicating new fuel. I was on the phone with a friend of mine in Portland, Or as that was happening and I could feel myself get nauseous and ready to throw up with the fear of what was going to happen next.

I hated, for a while, being one of those that 'won't leave' even when told it is a good idea. Over the years I have told many people it would be a good idea to leave now. Some of them totally refused to leave, even with fire in their back yard, and I have walked (sometimes ran!) away thinking how stupid. But we made a conscious decision and knew we were READY TO RUN the moment we absolutely HAD to. We got buckets upon buckets out and filled them up with water, and all the hoses we have unfurled and charged in anticipation of embers flitting our direction. And none came. Of course, the fire is still a good two miles away (line of sight) from us so we had some time if it really took a run. And we had the ability to monitor it if it was going to take a run.... that was the most important part. As much as the media was keeping us 'informed' they weren't up to date with all that was happening, especially where our area was concerned. And they were the media... they hyped it like crazy and if they were my only source of information I would have left a month ago because the fire danger was so horrific.... In fact as I listened to the media, I could feel my anxiety go thru the roof... then I muted the TV and turned up the radio and listed to how hard the firefighters were working and how much progress they were making and I felt better.

They still have us on a precautionary evacuation notice, but this morning looks promising as far as progress made on the fire on our side of the canyon. The winds are supposed to 'cooperate' today and be light, although it will still be warm. I will continue to monitor the fire crew below us closely today. If we evacuate, we can have two options of places to go. (of course, my wife works tonight so I hope she gets to sleep..)

The rest of the SAR team worked furiously over the last several days (I was only able to help one day) doing evacuation notices and doing actual evacuations of elderly or infirm. One of our SAR members lost his new home during the big run Thursday evening that took out the majority of the structures reported lost. Hopefully today there will be NO evacuations and the SAR team can relax on a Saturday!

Keep up your good thoughts!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Waiting

We have spent the day anxiously waiting.... waiting to see if we needed flee... waiting to see if the wind would pick up and whip the fire into a frenzy. At one point, in the mid afternoon, the fire flared up and we could see black smoke billowing up from the canyon. The fire had found new fuel and was eating it like crazy. But along came the aircraft... planes and helicopters and I could listen to the radio traffic and hear the bulldozers working frenetically to get the fire surrounded and trapped.... and soon, the smoke thinned and calmed down.... whew....

And now we're okay. The fire has 'officially' turned (for now...) away from us.

We'll see what tomorrow brings....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fire

We haven't been in our house a month yet, and our first real crisis is occurring. A fire started in a town below us and, due to the extremely dry conditions and horrific winds, it has come dangerously close to us. I spent yesterday evening helping with evacuations because my home wasn't threatened, but today was a different story. While at work I watched all day as the fire moved.... and moved.... and advisory evacuations were issued. Then mandatory as the fire jumped a major road. I left work and rushed home as fast as I could, which wasn't terribly easy. The news of the area was scary as time crept on. Homes were being lost. The only evacuation route was packed with people and traffic wasn't moving anywhere.

Now we sit and wait. We watch the internet, the tv and listen to the radio... waiting for the next piece of news of the fire to break. All of the important things are packed away in the truck, ready to go. They just need to say the word....