And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom
– anais nin
First of all, welcome to Day 1 of NaBloPoMo the bloggers challenge to post at least once a day in the month of November. Yeah, not sure why I am trying this, but what the heck. As a result there may be some new readers which is a tad nerve wracking, but it will also be fun to find other sites myself. Like a few of my friends did last year. I also promise to comment on those I stumble upon to say a quick hello. IOW, I am committing to giving up sleep this month!! So driving in to work this morning I was listening to one of my many alanis morissette cd’s and I got this idea to use her lyrics as a source for my opening quotes this month. Really, I could easily find 30 from her songs! So I go to her homepage to skim through her lyrics and right out front was the quote above. Perfect! For the new readers, that about says it all for me. I will be talking about anything and everything, uncensored. Unless I need to get something out which touches on a few personal stories which I will then protect, but generally those will be stories about other people who would not want things ‘out there’. Stuff about me? Oh, it will be OUT there!! Here’s one for you now.
Today, I found a positive side to the firestorm of ’07. A personal one. Ladies, you will particularly understand how perfectly this all came together. Today was my annual doctor’s visit. Yeah, that one. The one you mark on your calendar with a shudder and then, when it is over you think “Oh, thank gawd there are 364 days until I have to do *that* again!” Now, I have had the same ob-gyn for about 7 years now. He is great – fast an efficient. However, the small talk during the exam each year has been the same. “Where do you work?” “What do you do there?” “How long have you been there?” “How are your kids?” I swear it was like a recording. Of course, you answer as you stare up at the lovely paneled ceiling and florescent lights and try to make your answers interesting to keep yourself distracted. But today, we were able to branch out! Today, the exam went even faster it seemed since we could all (he, the nurse and I) talk about the fires. Shoot, I even caught myself looking at the nurse instead of at the ceiling! Without a doubt that was one of the least awkward exams I ever experienced. Whew. And yes, thank gawd there are 364 more days until the next one!!!
“There’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive – closer I am to fine” – Indigo girls
You see, Wednesday felt like Sunday. SP came by that night and mentioned that and he was right. It was a very odd week of course and being at home for 3 days of what should have been school and work and NOT for a good reason was very unsettling. Going back to work Thursday, of course it felt like Monday! But today really IS Sunday. And a very re-assuring football Sunday at that. Clean up is about done. No more visible ash inside at least. Laundry is going. Yes, it’s really Sunday.
One more fire wrap up thought. The evacuation process was really educational. Everyone should practice it really. I know that the experts tell you all sorts of things, but here are some things I discovered while actually doing it:
- Make sure all your photos that you would want to save are in one place. For me, all photo albums are on one shelf in my bookcase. Easy to grab that way. All loose photos are in one plastic storage container with a lid that is under my bed. Grab and go.
- Keep important documents in one place. I have a zipper notebook that holds my trust documents. Into that I have slipped my other important identification and insurance documents. Actually, what I will do is put of copy of each in the safe deposit box that I bought to hold my trust docs. A copy of my ss card, birth certificates, passports will all go there as that is really the safest place for those. Still, all of my copies will now be in that one notebook so that all I have to do is grab that.
- Tax files – again, all in one drawer. I have two empty plastic containers which this week ended up holding my tax files and the baseball club’s files. Took me 2 minutes to fill them up.
- Don’t forget basic toiletries and clothes! I thought everything I needed was in the car – then I remembered that a change of clothes and toothbrush might be nice! Think of it as packing for a weekend away just in case it does take a couple of nights to get back – or, to get access to help or stores in case of an actual loss.
I was able to put all of that together and in my car within 30 minutes on Monday – and I had not ever thought about how to do this! With some fine tuning, I can get packed and out the door in 15 and that is how I will arrange things now. And then hopefully I will never have to do it again!!
I have fallen prey to some peer pressure and signed up this year for NaBloPoMo. It is a writing challenge to post on your blog every day during the month of November. Eek! Be prepared for weirdness. I am sure I will be dredging the bottom of the barrel many days.
Back to work today – yay! No more sitting in front of the tv obsessing over where the fire line is and which homes are burning (or not). Interesting article in the paper today about developments that are considered “Shelters in place.” Seems to have worked with these exclusive communities. Now, to move these ideas into lower scale developments in fire danger areas – which we learned this week is *everywhere* in So Cal during a Santa Ana. Got word yesterday from football and baseball families that they all made it through with houses intact. Given that several do live in Rancho Santa Fe, that was a relief to hear. Sportsboy came to work with me today and has actually done some work too! It’s just been great to get out of the house. Tonight he can finally go to his dad’s. It was really his week to be there, not with me, though it was awesome that he was here since I felt better knowing where he was and because he was a huge help with the cats. Back to work – thanks for all the calls and comments. It’s been a week eh? Yeesh!
Many times now I have heard people and the media compare the wild fires here to Katrina. IMHO, it is really not a fair comparison at all. With the hurricane, there was some warning, but it impacted a much larger population and area all at once. With the fires, it has come in stages. These zip codes, then these these, and then allowing some of the first ones to return home. IOW, there were always safe places to be. That makes it easier for officials to take care of those who had to flee. Utilities have not been lost county-wide. The entire time I have been able to listen to radio coverage, watch the tv and follow over the internet as things unfolded. Emergency numbers and a list of ever growing evacuation centers were available at all times. There is running water and electricity for the evacuees no matter where they go. Hotels did fill up by Monday night, but tons of schools and churches and stadium areas are open. So there are people who can help – and they are. It reached a point when the officials at Qualcomm stadium asked people to STOP bringing food!! Isn’t that awesome? Considering the amazing amount of structural devastation, the people/animal losses have been minimal. There has been plenty of places opened for animals of all sizes. Fiesta Island – often a bit of a blight on the face of Mission Bay – has been opened to horses which was a perfect use for that space. Owners could actually let their horses RUN which I am sure has kept them much calmer than they would be if they were in an enclosure the whole time. Petco has been running an entire area of the stadium parking lot just for pets. They are being totally pampered
We’ve had plenty of military support. Marines, Navy and National Guard have been either fighting the fires or manning the evacuation centers or providing security in the evacuated areas since Monday night. Again, we are blessed with large bases for both of those branches of the military in our area and until yesterday when a fire has erupted now in Camp Pendelton, they were all available to us. Still, the county sheriff also announced this morning that there have only been TWO arrests for looting – and those were two teenagers looking for booze!! So, yes, the sense of community has actually overcome even the lowest criminal element instincts. Plus, there is not the desperation of Katrina since there are places to go and supplies and food provided.
Everything here has been run very well. Clearly things were learned after the 2003 fires. The reverse 911 system has been very effective in clearing people out.
I have mixed emotions about big name politicians touring the area. Part of me sees that it makes people feel better – I guess! Frankly though all I needed to see were our mayor and county supervisors and *maybe* the governor being here and talking about the resources being used. Federal politicians – to me – are only adding a burden of security to a very over-taxed system. Guess I am cynical and think this is just a grand photo op for those folks. I *know* they did their jobs this time, because we DID have the national military at our assistance right away. I don’t need to see the leaders – I just need to see things working. Swing by later when we can accommodate you and thank you. Yeah, no one will listen and they will all parade down here over the next couple of days. Ah well.
That is my long winded summary of how things have been going in my county. I am very very proud of the people of San Diego.
Midnight last night the police came around blaring their sirens and horns and ordering us to evacuate on their loudspeaker. So, even though I was 100% certain there was no danger in remaining, I finally relented and packed all living creatures and left. 10 mins from wake up to drive out. Sweet. Sportsboy was a huge help. We landed at my parents since their area had been declared safe and I figured the cats needed to be somewhere where they could explore the house. We spent the night sleeping fitfully, the cats prowled the house (Amber had HOWLED the entire way there) and finally settled under my parent’s bed after we all woke up. They neither ate nor drank, but did use the litter box. The news from this morning showed that while the fire has proceeded west, it veered more north and is still in the Rancho Santa Fe area and has never entered my zip code. My neighbor who left when I did texted me at 10:00am to say he was home and all was fine. Utilities all on. So we stayed through lunch and then I packed us back up and came home where all is, indeed fine. Throughout my drives (with the howling cat both ways) I never saw a single flame. The winds have shifted and there is even some on shore flow pushing the fire back. This is good for me, but bad for others including my parents who are now back on alert! Of course I told them to come here ;-> So that is that and I need a nap badly. Good night.
Yep, I am still at home. Yes, we are still under mandatory evacuation. Yes, we are still in the furthest corner of those orders. Ok, that is the bad news I suppose since we are being bad and ignoring the orders. However, the good news is that all I have to do is put the cats in carriers and throw this laptop in it’s case and we are out the garage in 5 mins. Everything else is packed – everything. My wagon is piled to the roof! I have easy easy access to the beach and my office without going on a packed highway. Music Man is with his friends in a hotel room downtown. One of the moms took care of that. He has all the stuff he needs as well as his car. The president of the baseball league I volunteer for lives on my block and he is staying put with his family too. He took a drive well east and north of us just now and literally saw *nothing*. Winds died down 3 hours ago and did not pick up during sunset as it did last night. In fact, my palm trees are totally still right now. Given that there is no open area near me with this city so built up now, it would need to burn through literally hundreds of structures. Residential, commercial, retail and at least 4 schools are between us and the what we think is the most south western part of the fire around Del Dio Highway. I really think it is totally fine to be here and I know I can leave in a flash. The cats are calm and fine. Sportsboy has moments of “should we leave?” “are we leaving?” and then I give him the facts and he is fine. Right now we are both awake and are watching Funniest Home Videos for a laugh as I monitor the internet. I think we might sleep downstairs just for fun and to be close to the car ;->
I am not sure if you can tell from the first photo, but I was trying to capture the wind gusts. The garage floor shows off the debris and ashes blown in as I loaded the car. The car is not completely loaded, but is 2/3 complete. I can leave in 10mins. Lots of outlets to drive away so I am staying as long as I can. The fire itself is still far enough away that I am not concerned. Right now they are actually showing parts of a neighborhood in Rancho Bernardo where Ex#2′s fiance lives. And his best friend lives across the street. They were there last night and had emergency crews pound on their door to get out. Sure enough, the streets they are showing right now are about 3 blocks away from there. Man oh man.
As Malibu mom pointed out though, they issue orders to areas much larger than is truly in danger in order to cover things completely which does make sense. But again, since I am in THE furthest corner and also have easy access out, I am not leaving unless totally necessary.
My company headquarters has been opened as a site for employees to use. Chef is there keeping the kitchen open minimally. The Chancellor is there with his wife and dog since he lives between me and the fire and was also evacuated. I would probably sill go to Ex#2′s house since he can take in the cats and of course, SportsBoy more easily. My parents appear to be out of danger, but I still not confirmed that yet with them. SP and all his family are in San Jose for his grandmothers funeral and thankfully their houses are all out of the way of the fires.
It was on a Sunday 4 years ago that the San Diego County area was devastated by the Cedar fire. That one came within 10 miles of where I live. The smoke covered the area for a week and schools were closed the entire time. It was one of those Santa Ana wind mornings where I woke up and looked out SportsBoy’s window to the east and just *knew* it would be a fire day. Today dawned the same. I knew there were already fires in Malibu and Malibu mom had already checked in to let us know where it was and that she was OK, but I also just knew something would burn closer. SportsBoy’s baseball game was about 5 miles due east of here at a high school and we arrived at 11:30 to gusty winds and dust swirling around from the fields. The game started at 12:30. Around 1:00, I smelled smoke. By 1:15, we could see off to the northeast that the sky was taking on the familiar smoky hue and it was bearing down on us fast. By 1:45 we noticed ash falling. We started calling people we knew who lived in that direction and confirmed there was a fire in that direction and that it was quite far away from us – 40 to 50 miles away. The 35-50 mph wind gusts though, had taken the smoke to us in less than an hour. Turns out the fire was first reported around 12:40. 3000 acres have burned in the Santa Isabel/Ramona area as of this writing and the wind is blowing all the smoke directly over here. I took these photos outside the house 30 mins ago. It is just like the Cedar fire although this one today is actually quite a bit further away. It’s just that the wind is stronger this time. Sunday in October + Santa Ana winds = trouble for San Diego. Again.