August 15, 2018

Blue Sky

Air quality is 78 this morning. The sky is blue, BLUE!

There are a couple of clouds and they are white, WHITE!

If you don't look to the west you would think it's a normal summer day.

Carr Fire containment is somewhere is 67 percent!

Fresh air is a good thing!

But even better than fresh air?

Firefighters, First Responders, Police Department, Utility Employees! Still kicking ash all over the west.


August 14, 2018

Album of 45's

My folks always had a huge collection of LP's. Nat King Cole, Johnny Coltrane, Louis Prima, Keely Smith, Frankie Lane, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis.  The list goes on and on. We listened to lots of music in the last couple of months with Dad.

When we moved him to Redding we discovered an album of old 45's! Elvis, Ritchie Valens, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, The Four Seasons, The High Seas.

My parents were Cool!

No breathing today...again!

Air quality was 336 this morning even though last night at midnight it actually dropped to 78. Drop was probably due to high winds; good for air, not so good for fires.

A contractor is going in to the folks house on the river. We're having the interior painted, the old carpet pulled and new flooring installed.

I'm still working on painting kitchen cabinets; then on to bathroom cabinets.

Sunday, The Guy and I went in and packed and packed more 'stuff' to clear the garage so that we can move the little bit of furniture left in the house into garage. Then we pulled down all the drapes, drapery rods, nails in walls and the last shelf in the house. Funny how bright and open a house is without heavy window coverings! Mom and Dad had all the drapes custom made for maximum warmth and privacy. Man, they were heavy!

Did well, with only three or four complete melt downs. Weird how grief just jumps up and slaps you!

Working on a couple of press releases for a radio interview show that I do research for. Two really interesting guest coming up. One is teacher of the year who just happens to be a music director and the conductor/director of our local symphony; both incredibly interesting men. Meeting with the show host and music director on Thursday. Really looking forward to it though, to be honest, I'd rather stay in bed and read a good book or maybe just pretend to read a good book!

Weird how much alone time a grieving introvert needs to recharge the batteries. Where is that frickin' little energizer bunny when he's needed?


August 10, 2018

Breathing

Breathing has become an extreme sport in Redding.

This is a middle of the day photo, though the sun is a big red ball in the sky.

August 10

My middle child is 47 today!

He is a really good man. Qualities that come to mind when I think of him are integrity, courage, gentleness, loving, intelligent, successful, happy and tall (he is 6' 5.5").

But he is 47!

My oldest is 49 and youngest is 45.

Time to tell strangers that they are children from The Guy's first marriage! Not the truth but what the hell! I'm way too young to have 'old' kids!

August 09, 2018

On The Lighter Side

The evening of our evacuation, many vehicles needed gas to leave the area. People were cutting each other off, intimidating little cars with larger vehicles. It was totally insane.

My great-granddaughter is a powerhouse of self-confidence.

She was sitting in the back seat of her daddy's truck while they waited patiently for their turn at the pumps knowing they had to empty truck and get back to my house and help us. Just as they were ready to pull in a smaller car squeaked in to their space.

Four year old Miss B leans towards the jerk and yells out the window, "Don't make me get out of this truck!"


Hmm

Sold Dad's new house today, well, at least, accepted an offer on it.

A married couple, 85 and 90, lost their home in the Carr fire. Beautiful home in the foothills near Old Shasta. They've had to stay in two area hotels since evacuation. Lost everything.

Escrows are not closing in the area until the Carr fire is 100% contained because insurance companies are refusing to grant policies. Our granddaughter has a stack of escrows on her desk that were ready to close the second day of our evacuation but insurance companies pulled the coverage on them all. Thank goodness she works for escrow company and not a real estate agent. She'll still get paid but lots of real estate agents tightening their belts this month (and maybe more).

Full asking price, cash offer, and asked to include all furnishing. They'll be renting it until escrow closes. They move in tomorrow!

Tomorrow!!!

Weird saying good-bye to the house as I signed the offer and handed over the keys. Dad was only in it for two months but it was a powerful two months. Incredibly emotional memories in almost every square inch.

Incredible isn't it, that there is so much 'business of death'? Bankers, notaries, more bankers, brokerage firms, real estate, mortuary, cemetery, Veterans Administration, Social Security, etc.

Eek!

Being made Trustee is not necessarily a good thing! Unless, maybe, one can make an appointment with the universe for occasional hours to just grieve!

Fire Update: 47% Contained. Air quality still unhealthy. Lots of people wearing masks, not enough children wearing masks. Red eyes, coughs and sneezes are everywhere. Many of the evacuations are being lifted and re-population going on. Hotels still full from Sacramento to Yreka. Lots and lots of pets being found and rescued. Community coming together and feeding the firefighters, helping each other out. Looters not being tolerated so everyone watching out for each other's homes. (Lots of CCW's in area, we are a Red County in a Blue State, so many potential looters pissing in their pants!).


#Redding Strong





August 06, 2018

One Of The Lucky Ones

Thursday, July 27, the Carr fire headed for town, nearly burning French Gulch, having destroyed a marina (and boats) and campground at Whiskeytown Lake, decimated hundreds of homes in the towns of Old Shasta and Keswick.  The smoke and ash were other-worldy, turning the outside to sepia. Ash and embers were falling all over our house. Large ash that would explode into 20 or 30 small ashes when they landed.

We received a reverse-911 mandatory evacuation call about an hour before a 143 mph fire tornado hit our neighborhood. We were prepared, had things stacked by front door, just in case (but we really never imagined the flames would jump the river). I left to be with granddaughters, their parents were out of town for an Ironman Triathlon in Ohio. The Guy and our grandson finished loading and left just as tornado hit. As they drove away from the house, the entire hill across from our house erupted in giant flames.

Our house is standing. Most in neighborhood are not. It looks and smells like a war zone. The houses that weren't burned to the ground had huge trees uprooted, roofs torn off, windows shattered. 

It was a crazy time. Air quality was and is often 220+, evening reaching as high as 335. Our grandson and his little family were evacuated from 4 different locations. We, my sister, and granddaughters only had to evacuate from different locations 3 times (once not because of fire but lack of electricity in 113 degree weather).

We (granddaughters (14 and 17), grandson, his wife and 4 year old daughter, my sister, the Guy and I and six dogs, ended up camping out in my folks house in Red Bluff on the bank of the Sacramento River 35 miles south of our home. Air quality still fluctuating between unhealthy to hazardous.

Evacuations were lifted for all but The Guy and me. The neighborhood was deemed unsafe but luckily our homes were being guarded by Redding Police and National Guard.

After a week, The Guy and I bailed. We headed for San Francisco to be with his sister. Fresh Air! Nice!

Better still, we attended the Electric Light Orchestra concert in Oakland. OMG, incredible. One of The Guys all-time favorite bands. If ELO is touring near you, see them. You won't regret it.

We spent two more days walking and driving through San Francisco. Fell in love with the Mission District all over again (p.s. don't bother with the Haight district. It is so gentrified that it is actually boring!).

The day before we came home, we received notice there was a 'soft lift' on mandatory evacuation. We could return to our house with ID. Our grandson had our address on his license so he Facetimed a walk through with us. House was totally fine, even the houseplants survived the 100+ degree heat without the relief of air conditioning.

We returned home Saturday night, looking forward to being home but not to cleaning out the rotting food. Surprise! Our grandson had cleaned out and dumped all the waste.

We were unsure of bringing stuff back in the first night; the fire had taken a turn on Saturday and was reported heading back towards town but the firefighters held the line. We finally brought computer and photos back in last night.

We have seen firefighters and equipment from almost every state in the union, even as far away as New Jersey and New York. There are 7 deaths and over a thousand homes destroyed, another half of that with heavy damage. Immense outpouring of gratitude to all the firefighters and first responders.

There is a huge banner over I-5 for the crews at work:

 "Thank you for Kicking Ash"


July 26, 2018

Never, Ever

Never, ever make this statement:

"What Next?"

or

"It can't get any worse!"

The universe will take it as a challenge!

Carr Fire headed our way! Air Quality warnings: Dangerous!

Over 2200 families evacuated so far. The fire has actually created a couple of 'fire tornadoes' which drop down and start the fire. One dropped on Oakbottom Marina and destroyed at least 40 sailboats and ski boats.

Ash and embers raining down on us. The air has a sepia tone to it, weird to look outside.

Also, the firefighters are wearing their heavy protective gear, working in steep areas in 108+ degree temps.

Please, send healing energy to Keswick, Old Shasta, surrounding areas and our firefighters.


Packing up photos and a couple of items of Mom's and Dad's just in case the fire jumps the river.

Also swearing a lot! Some praying, too, but really, lots of swearing!


July 23, 2018

Thank You, Friends

Riesling-free post this morning!

Thank you all for your support and caring. I've tried to respond to each individually but fingers get locked up with emotions. Then I decide I should take another nap.

I promise I will be back soon and try to catch up on everyone's posts. In the meantime, I thought I would share a post about Dad from 2008, simply entitled My Dad.

"My dad, Tom, is one of the funniest men I know, not counting my sons, John and Adam.

Dad's sayings started off pretty low key when I was really young.  I am the oldest of three, but whenever he was asked how many kids he had, Dad would always answer, "4! There's Toni, Michael, Sherree and Nahme!"

He shared with every one what a scamp his fourth child was. "Every time I ask the kids who was responsible for mischief around the house the answer is always,"Nah ME!" When I see that child, he is going to be in a heap of trouble!"

There were all the usual sayings, "Because I'm the Dad, that's why!" and "If Bobby jumped off a bridge would you jump to?" "Don't make me come in there!" but he had some pretty original stuff too. You've heard the expressions, "You can take a horse to water but you can't make him drink" and "Buy them books and buy them books and all they do is read the covers"?  Well, Dad has his own twist to them.

He can often be heard exclaiming, "You can take a horse to water but all he does is chew the covers."  or "Buy them books and buy them books but all they do is drink the water!"  or "You can lead a horse to water but all he does is read the books." And variations there of!

When I was 14, Dad and Mom purchased a brand new station wagon, beautiful light blue, dark blue two-tone. When our shiny blue car was about 6 weeks old, we decided to pack it up for an excursion to Mexico.  My mom, sister and I took a quick trip to the mall to pick up a couple of last-minute items.

While driving through the parking lot, a woman  in a big car ran a stop sign when she turned to her back seat to tell her two little boys to stop fighting. We were right in front of her when she turned forward. Slamming on her brakes she punched the accelerator instead and slammed into our front passenger door, where I was sitting, then in slow motion her car and our car started a slide sideways. She turned around to see if her boys were okay, turned back around and saw that she was going to hit us again! She tried to hit her brakes and (again) hit the accelerator.  Her car slammed into our rear passenger door where my sister was sitting.  Our brand new station wagon had a crushed in front door and a crushed in back door.

After the whole ordeal, we made it back home before my dad got home from work. Mom had parked the car in the garage, she hadn't called my dad about the accident. She felt overwhelmingly guilty about wrecking the car, even though it wasn't her fault.

So, that evening, my dad is dropped off by his buddy (carpool) and lifts the garage door and comes in right past the car. (He usually comes in the front door so we were all freaked!) He walks in the family room door, takes off his boots, sits at the dining room table to read the paper and talk with Mom as she cooks dinner.

After about 3 or 4 minutes he pauses from reading, puts the newspaper down and walks back into the garage; he just realized what he had seen in his peripheral vision. He walks over to the car and stares at it, remember, he had seen all of us so he knew we were all okay.

He walks back into the house, sits at the table, picks the newspaper back up and tells Mom, "Gee, Irene, if you had wanted an accordian you should have asked for an accordian!"

We had a pool when I was growing up, right next to it was a Mamosa tree. Pretty tree if its in someone else's yard, just a junk tree if it's growing adjacent to your pool. It was definitely not a friend of our pool filter. Mamosas are also famous for their incredibly fast growth. Mom loved the tree;  Dad hated it.

Every two or three years, my dad and my brother would be sitting in the family room watching  college football or shooting pool. Mom would be checking fridge and pantry while putting together a grocery list. With list in hand she would head out to the car. The moment she backed out of the garage, Mike and Dad would leap out the back door, grab the saws stashed in the bushes and start sawing down the Mamosa. In the one to two hours that Mom was gone, they would chop the tree down and cut all the branches into small enough pieces to go into the wood pile. By the time Mom came home there would be little evidence that a Mamosa tree was ever there, sometimes it was weeks before Mom noticed it was gone. In 2 or 3 years it would happen all over again.

Our house sat on a little rise on a dead-end road, backed by Bing Cherry and Plum orchards. (Oh, yeah, remind to tell you about the time I got shot in the tush with rock salt by the farmer for sitting up in his trees and eating cherries while I read my books). The kids in the neighborhood would congregate in the dead-end and we would play kick-the-can, (full-contact hide and seek if you haven't heard of it). Every now and then we kids would hear a full out Tarzan yell.  We'd look up and there was my dad, charging out the patio door, jumping over the hedge around our patio, he would disappear for a moment then reappear as he vaulted over the back fence. He would run into the street, kick the can and vault back over the fence.

He played the piano really well. Only problem was that he could only play 3 songs, Chopin's Polonaise, the Boogie Woogie (Tommy Dorsey style) and the Hamm's beer song, you know the one with the big bear, that goes, "in the land of sky blue waters....!"

Whenever there is a floor fan blowing he gets behind it and does his Gepetto-searching-for-Pinochio impersonation, into the fan he calls, "Pinocchio"! It does sound like he's underwater.

Speaking of water; when my oldest son was about 2 years old, he would help my dad with his yard work. They would set the sprinkler out on the lawn and Dad would ask Little John to remind him in 20 minutes to change the water. One time they let the water sit in the same place a couple of hours and my son jumped up and yelled, "Good God the Water!" They both ran out the door to change the position of the sprinkler. After that every time my mom would get annoyed with my dad and start to pick on him or nag him, he would jump up and yell, "Good God the water" and run out the back door!

Every time we kids had to stay home with a baby sitter while Mom and Dad went to some grown-up-event we would ask Dad how the event was when they returned home. Dad would answer as if it had been the most annoying experience ever! "It was okay except there was a midget who had his nose in everyone's business and a big tall guy who had his business in everyone's nose!"

Dad came up with a question every night at dinner. What do I think about affirmative action?
Where do I stand on abortion? He insisted that I take a side and he always, ALWAYS, took the opposite side. He made me support my thoughts with facts, he taught me critical thinking.

He also taught me to never support a football team south of the Mason-Dixon line, how to cook killer beef stroganoff and lasagna, how to shoot, how to play the boogie-woogie on the piano and that I was completely capable of accomplishing anything I wanted.


Yup, that's my dad!"







July 14, 2018

Bottle of Wine, fruit of the vine....

Today is would be my mom's 90th birthday. She missed it by 62 days.

I think she would have preferred it that way. Mom never told anyone how old she was, and she wouldn't have been able to handle anyone, absolutely anyone, wishing her "Happy 90th Birthday"!

Spent the day at Mom's and Dad's old house. Alone on the river felt good. Cleaned out her bathroom and all her personal items; 70+ bobby pins, several of her lipsticks, and shampoo and all that stuff. Two bags in front of me; one for tossing stuff out and one to save...tough call, TOUGH CALL.

Moved on to the table next to her chair. Discovered some of her stories, more cards saved that we kids sent her for Mother's Day, birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day. My sister was really good about sending cards, so was my daughter, Nicole.

My brother called me while I was there to see if I was okay, knowing it was Mom's birthday. We both kind of felt we were doing okay, just okay.

Our family never really seemed to have time to grieve Mom's passing because Dad seemed to take a downward spiral, keeping our hands and days full.

Dad shared so many stories in the two months since Mom's death. He suffered survivor's guilt in a major way but also recognized that he was hanging on to life prior to Mom passing because he had made a promise to take care of her for the rest of her life. Dad did not make promises he couldn't keep.

He discussed with me several things he wanted to do prior to passing. First was to go to Lake Tahoe...we didn't make it. Next he wanted my oldest grandson and youngest granddaughter to be given a check that would help them 'get established'. I promised him I would make sure it happened, in fact we wrote out the checks and put them in the Trust to make sure. Then he said he wanted his 4-wheel drive vehicle to go to my oldest granddaughter who is moving to Colorado. Moving from LA to Colorado, she would need a 4-wheel drive and he wanted his 'pride and joy' to join her in the snow.

He was so proud of all his grand-kids and great grand-kids and great-great grand-daughters. His last two months, he fell in love with his great-grandchildren all over again. Their dedication to music, to education, to knowledge, their work ethic, their spirit of adventure and wanderlust, their creativity and honestly, their resistance to be squeezed into a box and be 'one of the crowd'!

He respected and honored their dedication to be authentic to who they were, just like him.

Lots of sharing here. Can you tell I finished off a bottle of Riesling all by myself. Good stuff, and guilt free high! I asked my guardian angel if I should and she said, "Hell yeah!"  Seemed to go fast, I really hope she wasn't sneaking sips. I know The Guy wasn't, the only time he drinks is when he asks me for a sip when I try a new wine...can't even make the man take an aspirin!

So, hard day. Tomorrow will be a new day. The Guy lost his dad 50 years ago and says it will hurt forever. I agree. Both parents gone with two months of each other changes all our lives, children, grandchildren and siblings.

Okay...got to let this go. Seems to be stream of consciousness or stream of Riesling or just stream.

Tomorrow will be another day. Let's see what that brings.

Mom. Dad. I miss you.  I love you.

p.s What were you doing with all this shit?
p.p.s. Mom, love your stories, say hi to Grandma and tell her I miss her, though I am sure she knows.


July 07, 2018

What can I say?


My daughter cried as she told me, "The world lost a super hero today and they don't even know it!"

Dad passed early on July 4. After 68 years of marriage, I guess he couldn't live without Mom.

Hearts are broken and there is a huge void in the world. Can you feel it?