Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fires Overshadow Blog First Year Anniversary Celebration

Southern California fires overshadow "Along The Way" blog's first year anniversary celebration. I may share my reflective observations on this first year of blogging sometime in the future.

But my thoughts are continuing to be pre-occupied with the devastating Southern California fires. I am so familiar with many of these areas that are being ravaged. Irvine was subjected to loss, though not the Amphitheatre where I enjoyed summer concerts about which I wrote here in earlier posts. The news mention of almost every Southern California community affected by fire arouses recent or past memories of just driving through there, sometimes of time spent there, often when my husband was still living, or my children younger.

Only a few weeks ago I travelled on Interstate 15 to a class at the Escondido hospital in San Diego County, near where my long favorite Bates Brothers Nut Farm is located. Some years ago our children walked through the pumpkin patch, each finally choosing and picking their own Halloween pumpkin. Another favorite site of ours there is the nearby San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park. Hills all around Escondido are covered with avocado trees. I've heard no news reports to the contrary so trust those locations are spared. The first days of the fires this week, the traffic had come to a complete halt on that same I15 freeway and I could well imagine the discomfort of those stuck out there.

That morning going out my front door looking north toward the mountains the sky was a brightly colored blue. Then, as I drove southward in my car, I noticed the sky had an ever so slight tannish color, much like the sky I remembered when we lived in Arizona and a dust storm was headed our way. Here in California the next morning when I left the house the northern sky remained blue as before, but the southern sky was a darker brown. The following morning, the northern sky was blue as usual, but the southern sky a darker dirty-looking brown. My voice became raspy walking a short distance from a parking lot to inside my building destination. In the afternoon, as I walked north toward my car I saw only a brownish glaze over the once blue sky as far as my eye could see in any direction. I wonder what this next day's sky will be?

Another less recent memory was four years ago when we had driven to San Diego and were grateful to have had reservations to spend the night there, when news revealed fires had arisen in the area. The flames were moving rapidly, until at one point the TV announcement was made that all routes in and out of the City were closed due to fires. We ventured to dinner at the motel's restaurant, but after returning to our room, stayed inside as cautioned, due to the the smoke-filled unhealthy air, especially debilitating for those with respiratory problems as my husband experienced. Shortly, we were startled to hear named on TV our home city in the northeast corner of Los Angeles County, accompanied by horrifying pictures of destructive fires, houses burning. Our home was not endangered, though I phoned a local friend just for reassurance. We were subjected to restricted exit routes driving home from San Diego the next day, passing burned-out blackened areas along both roadsides. We encountered a driveway full of ashes, spread about like snow, when we arrived home.

As I write this, news media focuses audio and video on mountains east of us where fires are raging in the San Bernardino County area which is -- was ? -- the location of a mountain cabin owned by a relative of dear family friends. This cabin was available to individual family group relatives to provide an opportunity for their togetherness. I felt honored to be allowed to stay there. The cabin was spared during a severe fire in the Running Springs area a few years ago, but family members think it is highly unlikely a similar survival has occurred this time. How grateful we can all be that no family members were present there, so no lives were at risk. Another nearby mountain community, called Lake Arrowhead, has experienced the loss of several hundred homes, many likely the residences of elders, but at least their lives were spared.

Then, there's a popular resort area called Big Bear that's battling fires and is the residence of a friend's sister. I haven't heard about the nearby Idyllwild community with homes scattered through a wooded area that's home to more hummingbirds than I've every seen in one location other than the San Diego Zoo bird sanctuary. I wonder what has happened to those delicate little birds up in those mountain areas? Perhaps they had gone south. Last year, I sold my husband's station wagon to a gentleman who told me they had a second home there and he planned to take it up there to be housed in a garage, especially through the winters. I think he and his wife are safe, but I find it strange that I wonder about the welfare of that vehicle, but I do.

Rehabilitation facilities such as where I provide services are receiving inquiries as to how many beds they have available. Whether or not they will actually need to be utilized is presently unknown. How that may impact the amount of time I will need to make available remains to be seen. I'm just glad my earlier medical issues which side-lined me those weeks beginning around the end of August are resolved and I'm back at work.

Almost everyone I've encountered, old and new acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers, friends, has had reason for concern about these fires. For some the issue was whether or not they could drive home after work. For others, their anxiety has been about their friends and family, or they have related stories that someone they knew had probably lost their home. At least, so far, no one I have encountered has had to experience anything beyond material loss, but that is heart-breaking, too. I feel sadness for them. My heart goes out to all who have experienced loss, including those professional workers, but especially to those injured or who have lost loved ones. The fires are not yet contained, so we don't know what may lie ahead with the capricious winds. You can be updated on the most current reports through your local media and a multitude of computer news sites.


  1. It is so distressing to read about the fires (or mudslides or quakes), and we wonder when it will end. Our drought makes us prime candidates for fires like yours, although the rain we have had in the last 2 days has alleviated the fire danger at least a little bit. Congratulations on your anniversary - even if it is overshadowed. We all hope that the fires will be out soon.

  2. Hugs for your first year of blogging!

    Tears for your neighbors and fellow Californians battling those scary scary fires.

  3. I am glad that you are OK.

    Seeing these terrible fires on TV is shocking and hearing about the 900,000 who have evacuated is incredible.

    My husband and I suffered through a house fire back in 1991 when our home was struck by lightening. We rebuilt in about 6 months. That was an ordeal I cannot imagine what these many Californians are going through.

    Congrats on your anniversary.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. (My deleted comment above is re-posted below as I corrected a spelling error -- hardly my first error and will not be my last -- so probably not worth the effort.):-)

    Thanks to all for sending your good wishes on the first anniversary of my blog.

    Kenju: Hope you avoid any fires where you are. Glad you rec'd some rain and maybe you'll get more. Surely wish we could see some out here.

    Pattie: Especially appreciate your blog wishes, as you know only too well the throes through which I went in the beginning. Thanks!

    Chancy: Clearly you know first hand the heartache those faced with sudden disaster face. Can only wish you and anyone else should never have that experience.

    10/24/2007 9:51 PM

  6. Joarad, I am familiar with some of the places you mentiuoned, but not others...These fires make one feel it is the end of the world, in a way...But then, much of what is happening now makes me feel that....The smoke was here, too, especially from the Malibu fire...I have not stirred out of the house except to take the garbage out....The air is acrid and that tan haze...
    I hope that all those you mentiomed and their abodes, will be safe and come out of all this unharmed....
    Congratulations on your One Year Anniversary...It is indeed, a BIG Milestone! Many Many more to come. my dear.

  7. I've been keeping track of the fires in CA....a frightening reality. My daughter's in-laws are right in the path of it all. They haven't evacuated yet...not sure they will have to, but they've e-mailed us with updates on what's happening. It's hard to watch the newscasts to see so many losing their homes....and life as they knew it. As I've e-mailed to these family members...nothing is more important than their safety; but try telling that to so many who are watching their lives go up in flames. My heart aches for them.

    Still, in the midst of all this chaos....I want to acknowledge this important milestone for you Joared...Congratulations on your One Year Blogiversary....and may there be many more beautiful posts from you to come.

  8. Joared,

    As part of the CNN coverage today they featured a young woman who had an idea about how you could find out if maybe,just maybe, your house had been spared in the fires.

    She was telling all those evacuees who were not being permitted to go back into their neighborhoods to check on the damage to their homes to call their home phone and if their answering machine worked as usual, it was possible that their house was undamaged.

    It wasn't much consolation, but she said it was better than not knowing anything.

    It must be dreadful so please know you are in our thoughts and prayers.

  9. Thanks, for the "blogiversary" congrats. There were times when I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue blogging, then recalled reading long time bloggers have written about having that same questioning. I remember offering them encouragement to continue, but I wasn't able to offer the same to myself at times.

    Less there be any doubt, my home and our community are quite safe from the fires and haven't been threatened by flames.

    oldoldladyofthehills: I understand what you're saying about the sense of "end of the world," some of which seems to have been deliberately and unnecessarily orchestrated, but...
    As for the fires, we continue to experience the "acrid air...and that tan haze." You, stay inside!

    joy: I do hope your daughters have not had to evacuate, or, if they have, find their homes untouched by flame and smoke.

    nancy: Calling the home phone and answering machine sounds like a good idea to see if all is well for evacuated homes in the fire area. If no response, could mean that phone and power lines are down, so would need to know that, too.

  10. Congratulations on your one year blog-versary.

    The fires are big news. The smoke isn't blowing east, or we'd be having trouble breathing.

    Now that we live in the West, not NYC, the fires are a big issue...

  11. How come Joy des Jardins blog is empty? Just curious...

  12. motherpie: Welcome to the West, and, yes, fires are "a big issue." Hope you're spared the issue and the airborne fallout in N.M.

    Thanks for the anniversary congrats.

    As for Joy's blog: "Joy of Six," saw her Halloween post when I went there just now. (See link on right side bar.)

  13. Congratulations on your first year of blogging and thanks for your kind comments on my blog.