Great-Grandma’s Door

When B’s grandmother died 10 years ago we went into the barn where we discovered a beautiful old wooden screen door. It used to belong on the farmhouse of B’s great grandmother who had died well into her 90’s. We picked up that old door and took it with us and it has accompanied us move after move where it has always been taken out to the shed.

Now I am not one of those artsy-fartsy kind of gals. I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. (Well, actually I NEVER chew gum because it is one thing that is completely non-biodegradable) So most things around my house are usually made by someone else, usually in a far off land by a person who probably works for slave wages. Yes, I feel guilty. So to absolve me from some of it; I decided to create something and that is where the door came into play.

Several years ago our dog decided that the we didn’t need a gate between the house and side yard so he destroyed it in about 2.2 seconds. Today, I created a new gate out of great-grandma’s door.  I think she would be pleased.

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On a totally different topic, today I took a picture of our cabin off of Google Earth. It is not a great picture but is shows the old cooks cabin up front and a little bit of our two story addition. The fire is edging closer everyday but there has been enough time that the firefighters have been able to create many bulldozer paths in an effort to stop the blaze should it get closer than the 3 miles away that it is.

Sadly, in this morning’s fire report I noticed that six cabins were lost nearby. I grieve for those folks.

Our Cabin from Google Earth

Yesterday, in a last ditch effort,  I decided to call the sheriffs office. I knew that the road up to the cabin had been closed but I wondered if residents were allowed up. While I would be disappointed to lose the cabin, its the things that reside within it are much more important to me. There is a huge old tool box that I use as a coffee table. My great great grandfather brought it with him on the ship from Germany in 1854. There is the drop-leaf dining table on which my 80 yo father had his tonsils removed by the doctor who made house calls. There is the bookcase that B made in high school and the old chest that was in his grandmother’s attic.  And there is the old wooden ironing board that I use as a long table below the window that looks out onto the cedar trees. Those are the things that are meaningful to me. They are family things that are precious and are irreplaceable…like family itself.

And so I will keep my fingers crossed for the cabin, for family treasures, and for the firefighters who are battling tough conditions, unbearable heat and exhaustion. For in the end, a cabin is just a building, but to the families of these 1,000 firefighters who are  trying to save these mountains and villages, they are waiting for something far more important. They are waiting to know that their loved ones are finally headed home safe and sound once more and that is what is truly important.

Fire On The Mountains

This morning I went out for a walk and it looked like Christmas with the snowflakes flying silently by. But I knew things weren’t as they appeared because it is summertime and everyone is sweltering in the 100+ temperatures. So I looked up in the sky and this is what I saw:

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and ash as thick as snow flurries were turning my hair the color it would be if I just stopped buying those boxes of dye.

As someone who lives in California, all too often, we find our state on slow burn and because of this I know the website for Cal-Fire by heart. A quick glance showed me that this fire is a little too close for comfort for it is near to  our little cabin in the woods. With this information in hand, I did what any good Californian does…I raced to my insurance agent’s office to pay the annual bill that was due in 5 days.

As I explained to the insurance agent we bought this place 10 years ago and we have never owned a house for this length of time before this one. It is special to us in that way. It is a 100 year-old cooks cabin that once served meals for lumberjacks  who were falling the huge Redwood Trees that were as big around as small houses.It’s a place we added onto…a cabin which offers solitude and warm memories. It is a structure made of ancient Redwood trees whose knots fall out onto the floor from time to time and where one lone plastic grocery bag stuffs a now knotless and gapping hole. It’s a place of mystery. A place where we find bones and where an massive ancient oak stands next to the house where it slowly losing its branches. It needs to go but we don’t want to spend the $1000 to take it down quite yet…so we wait, and will wait, until we just cannot wait any longer.

When we added on to the original cabin six years ago, we ripped out the wall between the old and the new structure and when we did thousands of acorns fell on our head, placed there by the woodpeckers over many years. And in this small community residents refer to the local bears as “BIG RATS” This is a home where you will find webs designed by crafty and talented arichnoids and where deer hide in the middle of town during hunting season. Here you will find a mouse who emptied the mouse bait from the box in the kitchen and who placed each tiny pellet between the box springs and the mattress of our bed.I swear it looked as if he had crafted the poisoned pellets into a shape that looked just like a big *FU.*

I love it up at the cabin where there is no phone, no cable TV, and no internet. It is plain and simple like the era in which it was built during a time when folks danced jigs in old barns and people mended clothes instead of just throwing them away.

And now there is a swift moving fire that has charred over 12,000 acres in less than a day close by. A powerful fire that is only 5% contained. One that is moving closer by the minute. It is still probably 10-15 miles from our cabin but it is a fast moving fire whose voracious appetite is not easily satisfied. (Actually,  I just found out it is now just 5 miles away)

This evening I saw these amazing photos taken by Trey Spooner Photography which really captures what is going on as a thousand firefighters battle a blaze which is too close to my heart for comfort. And as the ash rains down upon me I just hope that the tears don’t soon follow.

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Trey Spooner Photography

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*A special thanks to Trey Spooner Photography whose amazing photographs help people understand what our brave firefighters are facing and who imposes a sense of beauty and majesty on such a devastating scene . I am sure that a few prayers for the firefighters and their families would be appreciated.*

JUST AFTER I POSTED THIS I WENT BACK TO THE CAL FIRE SITE AND SAW THAT THE  TINY TOWN MY CABIN IS IN IS UNDER MANDATORY EVACUATION. PLEASE SEND A FEW GOOD THOUGHTS OUR WAY. IT WOULD BE APPRECIATED.

 

 

 

Tinder Box

This weekend we traveled up to the cabin in the woods. The valley was searing hot and the 10 degrees cooler that you find in the mountains seems like more when you are melting on the valley floor. So up we went into the foothills, into the big hills, and finally into the bosom of the mountains with all her craggy passageways and lush miles-long scenic views.

Our family loves it up here where the snow caps the peaks in winter and the abundance of Redwood trees captures our imaginations. But this year the landscape looks moon-like in some places. Cabins that were once hidden by trees stand naked and exposed. Instead of cypress and pine trees the only thing left are the oaks. After years of drought mother nature is suffering. The once majestic trees have been weakened and have become susceptible to disease and the insects that wish to take them down. And so they do…the leaf miner and the bark beetle cutting their way through huge swarths of forrest reducing the trees to nothing but huge stands of kindling. It really is a natural disaster of epic proportions that few are aware of.

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And so, as we traveled up the windy mountain passes, we watched as the air became noticeably streaked with brown from the huge forest fire that is down the road a spell. Its a fire that in  a few short minutes killed two people. Its a fire that has taken out hundreds of homes leaving people with nothing but memories. It’s a fire that has crews risking their lives in the hot blazing sun trying to put out a fire that has grown to over 50,000 charred acres. And from a distance I see the smoke that sends an ominous signal warning of worse to come.

So this weekend while in the smokey air we worked to clear the grass and debris 100 ft away from the building. We worked in the heat to try to ward off the threat of a fire destroying this 100 year old cooks cabin that the lumberjacks once relied on for their meals after a hard days work deep in the old growth Sequoia Forest. Yet, while motivated to save the natural beauty beside us, we are also realists, and we know that should fire hit this part of the world, that in just a few minutes, everything would most likely go up in flames no matter what measures we might put into place.

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So tonight, as you head off to dreamland, I ask a favor. I ask that you pray or send positive thoughts for those who have lost everything in this fire as well as the firefighters who do their best to save the property, wildlife, and the people of our neck of the woods. And please remember the families of the firefighters who worry about them out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but minimal equipment and their wits about them.  For firefighting is a dangerous and dirty job.It’s a job in which 19 firefights lost their lives on one black day back in 2013. It is a job in which flames dance above heads and threaten the firefighters life with just one turn of the fickle wind.May our firefighters stay safe this fire season so that they may return home to tuck their children into bed at night knowing that once again they can be proud of a job that demands so much and pays so little.

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