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October 29, 2003
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 years ago

A Fire Day

It's a fire Wednesday. The fire started at 6 am, up north of Jamestown. They're calling it the Overland fire, and it's dominated the day just as the sky covering haze of smoke has dominated the entire area. The smoke looks like some earth-bound thunderhead, growing out of the mountain. The gusts and winds have blown it huge so that it's a hazy curtain covering the entire north end of the sky. The smoke stretches from the West of the mountains all the way out to the horizon of the Eastern plains. It's been frighteningly fast given 50-70 mph gusts of wind.

It's also eaten my brain. Between the constant news reports, the fact that a good percentage of our firefighters are in Southern California, now helping them out with the fires there, and all the news and rumor bouncing around at work it's been pretty crazy.

We spent the morning at work, but even when we went to get lattes on the way in, we saw the smoke coming off the mountain. It wasn't that big when we went into the shop, but when we came out we could see it rolling down the mountain in a wave. It was pretty amazing.

It's still much smaller than anything in Southern Cal, but the winds are pretty amazingly like the Santa Ana winds that whipped the San Diego, but instead of all coming from one area, the winds have whipped in all directions. All the local fire managers are sending people in, as they can. People committed elsewhere, already, stay there. That's a given.

I had a number of things I had to take care of at work, and I felt really overwhelmed with everything. I still feel kind of that way, but oddly less so given that people out there are actually losing their houses. Seeing the exact boundaries and the pictures of the flames that are going particular places and seeing the plans the fire fighters come up with has been really helpful. The reporting around here has been really good about showing not only the areas that are covered in fire, but where the fights are that mean something. They seem to have a pretty good idea how to organize the information this time around. Given the dozens of fires during the summer of 2002, I guess they got enough practice at covering them in ways that are meaningful to their audience. That's a good thing.

Jet had an afternoon of potty training, and did pretty well. We progress with practice. It's definitely a means of learning for both of us and for him.

He had a Halloween party at pre-school and did very well. The weather changed suddenly today to mid-80 degree weather. The winds were a precursor to the temperature change. Things are changing just as abruptly again in the next 24 hours, as they're predicting cold and snow tomorrow evening. It's crazy, but the snow and cold will probably help the firefighters out more than anything other than calming the winds. Problem is that the changing weather problem means more crazy winds again and bad air again.

It's interesting, though, that this last fire season hasn't been at all bad. Still, it rained a lot this last spring and summer, and just this fall the precipitation fell off and stopped completely for the last eight weeks. They're saying it's the precursor of another drought, already. But the dryness finally had consequences. It turns out that it was probably just a downed power line that started things.

A pretty quiet evening. We had hamburgers, watched the news, played with Jet, and are probably going to a meeting plan a party at the church. Michael, the pastor that I like so much, is going to be going onto long-term disability leave. His lungs are making life very hard for him, and while he copes with the chemotherapy and thinks about when he wants to get a replacement lung, he would rather be at home with his wife and the rest of his life instead of spending it all at the church.

I don't blame him.

So we're organizing a party to celebrate his service with us.

Jet went with us, and he entertained everyone for the meeting, though he was also mildly distracting as well. No one complained about him, but I was bothered by how much noise he was making, especially after he turned on the electronic choo-choo he found and the noise making coal box. But everyone was glad when he came back with the toys, so I didn't bother him after that one time of moving him away. Don even played with him for a while in the back room. They got to watch TV together, see some video together, and stuff, but when Don got boring, Jet came back with his train and contentedly parked himself in the middle of the livingroom.

Okay, not exactly parked, he really liked straddling the rails of his train, and following it around and around and around. Everyone liked watching him do that, too. That was pretty fun.

We even got all the planning done, anyway, at least what we could get done. So that was good. Jet was actually really quiet during the whole meeting, and he didn't demand anyone's attention. In fact, I gave him Wendy's present for him at the beginning of the meeting, and he went around giving roasted pumpkinseeds to everyone to eat. That was pretty fun. He gave Bonnie a huge hug, and went around giving kisses and hugs to anyone that asked for one. He liked that.

One funny thing was that he wore his knit hat for the whole thing. He wouldn't take it off. I think he really likes that one hat, which is the one that I knit for a charity a long time ago and forgot to turn it in. Jet found it one day when I was going through old knitting stuff, and he kept it for his very own. So it's his, now, and he wears it every day and prefers it even on sunny days like today. I am pretty amazed by that.

So after the meeting, we went to the Cold Stone Creamery, and Jet got peppermint ice cream (PINK!) with sprinkles. He hung out by the sprinkles, telling everyone what it was that he wanted. There was a pretty large bunch of people going through, and they were very amused by Jet. He loved that. He was also very content once he actually saw the guy get the big scoop of sprinkles and work them into his ice cream. Then he could find a table.

I just got amaretto ice cream with Nestle's Crunch bars mashed into it. I got a very pleasant surprise. Since the rice works as an insulator, the bar never gets all that cold. So my highly temperature sensitive teeth weren't bothered in the least bit! I was very glad of that. It was really nice.

So we sat at the table that Jet decided he wanted, and the store closed. Just like that. We were just under the wire, and the manager of the shop said, "We gotta lot still to do, so feel free to sit there and eat. If the lights dim... you'll know then... or..."

John replied, "... or we could just stay here the night and see you in the morning!"

The guy laughed. "Yeah! That's it..."

I want to be able to say things like that when I'm grown up. Some day.

It was weird, though, driving to and from the meeting to see the mountain on fire. The line of the fire was clearly visible from home. As we got more into the smoke it got harder to see, but it still glowed up on the mountain. I guess it says something about me that it looked more to me like a volcano cracking open along the side than anything else I'd ever seen. Something about seeing more footage of volcanoes on TV than realistic pictures of forest fires.

We made it home, no problem, and John went to sleep as soon as he could. Jet took some persuading, but I finally got him to brush his teeth and nurse and then he went to sleep. I should have taken with me the habit of the last few weeks and just gone to bed, but I stayed up and played with my PrintMaster 15 Silver edition. Ten bucks, and with ten more you could do some of the fancier cards and things that are supposed to be on the Gold edition, which is another ten bucks, and then the collections of projects on the web are 15 to 25 dollars a pop and then there's the super edition of the software that has a Whole Lot More!!

It was pretty amazing how quickly the ten dollars led to a lot more money, especially since I'm not all that interested in just printing out greeting cards like those that I can find in Safeway. I'd rather something more personalized. So it is. I had fun wandering around, though the next thing I knew, when I looked up, it was nearly midnight.

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