THE DEADLY FIRE CONTINUES

First of all, my regrets to the beautiful town of Paradise which lost so many in the fire. Same with Concow. There are now over 6,400 homes that were destroyed and there are over 50,000 displaced persons. Also, for the history lovers the Honey Run Covered Bridge was destroyed. It was a much loved landmark in the area where everyone went to have the senior high school pictures taken and many weddings were held. Built over 100 years ago it was the only three-span bridge remaining in the USA.

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So far we have evacuated once. Not because it was mandatory but because the winds were suppose to be 50 miles per hour at night and I didn’t want to drive in the middle of the night along with 50,000 other people who were trying to leave. I watched the videos of those who were driving through fire on both sides of them, embers flying around and no visability. That is not the way I want to die so we went and stayed with my cousin for the night and returned the next afternoon. The car is still packed and ready to go if need be.

We have offered a large room in our home but thus far no takers. Sometimes it seems so difficult to be  able give and get disaster relief to those horribly and truly impacted people. I wish it was easier to connect because I know people are looking for shelter and I cannot imagine cots are too comfortable.

Today it was announced that they have found 42 deceased persons in the area and over 200 are still missing. This makes the Camp Fire the deadliest in California history. Don’t even get me started on what our bone-headed leader said about the situation. Too bad he didn’t just get wet while in France and melt like the Wicked Witch of the West. I suspect that is the real reason he would not attend the ceremony in the rain!

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We are watching the fire creep slowly towards us but the winds are dying down so I am not expecting that this monster fire will reach us. Thank you for all those positive vibes. That said, the smoke is thick and ash floats down like snowflakes. My outdoor furniture has a layer of soot coating it and my head hurts from all the smoke in the air.

Paul was burdened after visiting the evacuation center and became concerned that we would lose everything too. We explained that nothing else mattered but the love we had for each other and for our family in general. Everything can be replaced… but people… and while somethings are dear to our hearts, if lost, we can find other things to replace them. Nothings Real But Love!

It was an eerie day hearing the helicopters down at the lake scooping up water to pour on the fire. Yet, with such thick smoke blanketing the area I could not see them. I heard them coming and going all day without one visual verification that they were truly there.. It makes me wonder how those pilots keep safe and I have to give them a big salute for all they are doing to try and keep us safe.

Since we just moved here we really don’t know many people but when I go to the store I hear the stories of personal loss and it just breaks my heart. Someone’s grandma gone. Another person’s uncle still missing. Pets left behind because they were so scared they ran off and their owners had to leave without them.

B and Paul went to the evacuation center in town to help out on Saturday. They said it was the saddest thing they had ever seen… so many traumatized people who fled with only the clothes on their backs which make what I am about to say so ridiculous. While they were there they were instructed to hand out clothing to all these people who had no clothes but what they were wearing when they left two days before. As these needy people were getting free clothing, the state health department came and shut the hand-out down, stating that the clothes had to be taken and sanitized first. What a bunch of crap! I wrote the Governor and other officials stating at times like this common sense needs to prevail and rules need to be bent when at all possible.

Today, I made the kids come out and remove leaves from the backyard and the decorative bark away from the house. They complained so much that I think that they need summer jobs detasseling corn or picking fruit. Good old hard, sweaty labor might just cure the “Princess” nonsense that is going on in this castle.

Here are some pics from the fire. Please keep California in your prayers.

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Saturday-One of the evacuation centers that B and Paul worked at

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Saturday-Smoke starting to fill the area

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Why we left

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A street 5 blocks from us

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Born On The Fourth Of July

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Meet George. He was born in Romania and came to the United States due to an unfortunate set of circumstances that ripped apart the land of his birth.  He fled his country with a determination to make a new life for himself and his family… and he did. He is satisfied with what he has accomplished. It is glaringly obvious that George is the type of person who makes the best of what he has been given. He makes sure that whatever he plants blooms where it grows…people, optimism, and opportunity… just to name a few of the things that have flourished under his tutelage.

Today is a day of national celebration and George is driving the shuttle bus that is taking me to the airport after the BIG BIRTHDAY BASH. His enthusiasm is contagious as he talks about what he loves about this Fourth Of July holiday.

“I celebrate this land today too and with great joy,” he says in English broken by his native dialect. “It has given me my independence. Its a place where I can be happy and work doing what I want to do. I get to choose. That was not possible in Romania.”

He continues:

“Here in America, you have chances. You can be rich or you can be poor but you always have hope. And even if you are poor you still have opportunities and chances waiting outside your door every day. You still can live decently no matter what you have or don’t have. I hear so many complain that ‘”I do not have this or that'” but they will never starve here. The citizens of the United States will never know the true hopelessness of there being nothing out there for them…no jobs, no homes, no heat, no food. Here, don’t have to live under the threat of knowing that there is a chance you might be taken from your home never to be seen or heard from again. In the United States, you don’t know what true oppression is and the fear that dominates your life because of it. People here think they have it so bad, but the truth is, they don’t know how good they really have it. They forget to be thankful for every morning that they wake up in a country that honors its citizens and gives them the freedom to be who they want to be.”

“So what is your favorite thing about the Fourth of July?” I ask him.

“Of course it is the fireworks,” George exclaims with the enthusiasm of a young boy “I went down to the river the first year I was here to watch. Never had I seen such a thing. So loud and so big.  To me they were colors of hope and promise and I knew if I reached high enough in the night sky that I too would find my place in this country. And I did. It’s not the perfect place but its my place. That is what I was looking for when I came…a place for me to be me. I like to think that I was born a citizen that day, that I was born on the Fourth of July.”

“Are you going to celebrate tonight?” he asks.

“Yes. I will spend time watching the fireworks with my family and setting off a few ourselves,” I say.

“When you do, I want you to look at all the different colors in the sky, and remember that they look like all the different kinds of people living here. It is a beautiful sight, is it not? says this immigrant turned citizen.

And tonight, as I watch my own family of immigrants celebrate alongside the people of this diverse neighborhood, I think of George, and I have to agree with him… it is a glorious and beautiful sight indeed!

Past Tense

I have trouble living in the present. I ruminate about the past and have difficulty letting it go. I also worry about the future endlessly. It does me no good and I know it but I continue to do these things to my own detriment.

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Recently I read something that resonated with me. It said something to the effect that if I hold on to the past with one hand and try to grasp the future with the other, I have nothing to grab onto with today.That got me thinking.

While I would often like to have missed many moments of this past “maybe divorce” year, the fact is that they have been important. They have taught me things about myself and my relationships. They have forced me to examine things that made me uncomfortable and given me the courage to change those things that were under my own control. I have had to learn to try and see things through a different lens and to operate through one too. There have been challenges I have overcome and heartbreak that I have never felt the likes of before but managed to survive and sometimes even thrive. And all of these experiences or “ah-ha” moments have happened when I have lived in the present, let go of the past, and stopped fearing the future.

I’ll be honest, living in the present has not been easy. It still is not and it doesn’t come naturally to me. Yet, I hope that by remembering all I have learned from being in the present, I can continue to rejoice and celebrate the wonders that happen to me everyday when I just let them happen. So now I am practicing giving myself permission to just be in the moment with my hand and head securely wrapped around the notion that to be present is to live fully. I think its something worth striving for.

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Surprise! We Are Going To…

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I’m not big into surprises. I like to plan my life in advance. If I had my way I probably would have every day of my life planned out in pencil for the few necessary erasures that would be required here and there. So imagine my surprise when B announced “I think that instead of taking this business trip to China alone I would love for you to come with me…oh and by the way, we will also go to Tibet… and Nicole is coming to babysit. So what do you say?”

Tibet. Place of my dreams. A place of full of “good” karma. A place so breathtakingly beautiful that I hear that you often just forget to breathe as you stand in front of the Himalayan Mountains in awe. It’s the place where dreamers, doers, climbers and athletic persons who are all in supreme shape go to test themselves both mentally and physically. And it’s where the base camp for Mt Everest is located which we will be visiting in the dead of winter. Frankly, I’m a little worried. Why?  I cannot do one pushup unless I plank against the wall. My idea of cold is 75 degrees and I have knee replacement surgery penciled in on my calendar for March 27, 2019. Oh and one more thing…I hate to fly. Seriously hate it and take out extra life insurance as a cushion. So why am I going?

I love my husband, that’s why. After a year of the “almost divorce” consisting of six months of fights, disappointments, therapy, sadness and worry; the fact that he wants us together at all is a huge testament of how hard we have worked to try and find each other again. It brings me joy to know that out of all the people he would want to spend his time with… it is me. Still. Again. Now. And even better, I want to spend time with him too as our friendship grows into something deeper and more meaningful to us at this stage in our lives.

I am also going so that I can challenge myself. No, I won’t be going for the summit but I will be standing there looking at a mountain that has spurred people to accomplish great things and brought them closer to “God” in whatever form you believe she/he takes. And I hope some of those feelings… the exhilaration, excitement, and the oneness with “another” will touch me in ways I have yet to experience in this lifetime.

Finally, I am going because I truly believe that travel is one of the keys to genuine peace with one another and within the world. Whether it is 2,000 miles or 200 ft; leaving your comfort zone is necessary for growth because it frees you from the tethers that keep you trapped within the confines of our own mind. Being away forces you to look outside yourself and sometimes dig deep within yourself to find answers to the obstacles you have put in your own way.

So, YES, I’m going to Tibet. YES, I will scamper on Everest! And YES, I will be going with the person I care about the most in the world! And if I die at least they can write on my tombstone “She summited in life just not on Everest.”