More Stormy Dreams

A series of powerful, uplifting dreams rolled through me last night.

Each one presented an unusual or alarming situation, and all had to do with weather phenomena. I often dream about weather. It’s like a standard element in my dreams. I suspect that’s true for many people.

In the first dream, I was striving to go up a sparsely vegetated steep mountainside. I felt it imperative that I reach the top. Strong winds were slamming me back. Not only did it seem like the winds were slowing me down, but seeing a precipice not far away, I thought, “I’m going to blow off this mountain.” Trying to hang onto something, anything, damn it, everything kept falling away. First a walking stick snapped in half. Shoved back past trees, I lunged for branches. I missed at first, then caught some, which promptly broke. Though I windmilled my arms to grab another branch, the wind took me from the trees.

Dropping to the ground — whether I fell or did this deliberately wasn’t clear — I saw a handle in the earth. Seizing it, I thought, why is there a handle here, and then gathered, its a tree root.

All this is in sharp relief because, bang, I awoke to the sound of the wind beating our bedroom blinds. Which, I thought, with a chortle, closing the window, was probably what prompted that dream. It’s also somewhat of a recurring dream, this against the wind on a mountainside motif.

Back asleep in seconds (so it felt), I found myself alone in a pouring rain. Was it day or night? So deep and thick was the rain, I couldn’t tell. The crashing precipitation veiled the world in heavy gray wool but also battered my face as I tried to see, forcing me to protect it with my hands. Yet, I also needed my hands to hold on.

With that realization, I saw that I was ankle deep in cold water. I needed to get somewhere higher, but looked for escape and couldn’t see any. I thought I saw something yellow but it came and went too fast for me to confirm it. Deciding there must’ve been something, I forced myself that way.

The water was over my knees and its current was increasing. Fighting the current was sapping my strength. I couldn’t see and needed my hands to hold onto something that I’d found — couldn’t tell what, and it was wet and slippery — but then let go to try to wipe rain off my face.

I fell backwards into the water. The current immediately victimized me. My head went under. I gulped water and struggled for air while fighting to stop myself and get the fuck up as the water carried me along like a leaf.

My back came up against something hard in the flood waters. I didn’t know or care what it was but used it to leverage myself up. Right then, I turned my head to get my face out of the rain, and saw a yellow light. Rectangular, it was a door or window, and very clear and yellow against the gloom. I headed for it…

And was again awakened. I don’t know what woke me — cat, wind, my mending arm in pain from being in a contorted position, or general discomfort. The dream haunted me while my mind chased connections between the first dream and the second. Similarities were easily seen. I meditated on them as a cat found me, purring in the dark as I drifted off again.

I wasn’t alone in this dream, but with friends and family. Clear and balmy, the weather didn’t seem to be a factor. I’m not sure if we were on a picnic or at a celebration or what the deal was. Everyone was chatting and laughing, and a gay mood generally prevailed. Food on platters and in bowls crowded tables.

Yet, I found myself growing wary, and while that happened, I distanced myself from the rest in search of what was disturbing me. I hunted clues for it like one of those games presented in a ‘spot the difference’ diversion in a newspaper or magazine. I felt suspicious, like I was leery of something sneaking up on me, which seemed unreasonable. The weather seemed clear and everyone seemed happy. Why shouldn’t I be relaxed and happy?

I awoke and guessed the time: yep, seven twenty-five. My cats have trained my bladder to awaken and pee then. They (the cats, not the bladder) clamored for food and attention but I wasn’t yielding to their demands. I didn’t feel rested; I wanted more sleep. Yet, oddly, reflecting on these three dreams as I lay in bed, I felt fortified, like I’d endured something and came out stronger. And my mood, when I finally acquiesced to the inevitable and got out of bed twenty minutes later, seemed upbeat.

All these dreams are part of my regular dreamscape, presenting some variation of theme. This time, I thought they were like a weather storm system, moving through and clearing my subconscious as fronts will do in a region. It feels like that, because the day seems hopeful with promise.

Or just maybe, that’s the coffee.

Varmints Underfoot

Thudding and thumping announced something had broken into our home’s foundations the other night. I’ve now learned a mama skunk and her kits have taken up residence.

So, first, damn.

Second, well, hell, there’s not much we can do.

Lot of people will chorus, “Get rid of them!” Sorry, not our style. Just as I don’t kill spiders, I tolerate things like a skunk family under the house.

It’s a temporary reprieve for them, sure. We discussed, why would skunks suddenly take up under the house? These are mobile kits, not newborns. Well, given conditions — heat, winds, drought, then fires, smoke, and unhealthy air — they’re acting just like humans, finding a place to hide and weather the days. We don’t have the right to chase them back out into that crap when we don’t want to go out there ourselves.

So, I grit my teeth (and sometimes vigorously stamp my feet), imagine the damage being done, and wait until the weather clears and the kits are older. And, perhaps stupidly, we put out water for them.

Yeah, I’m a terrible homeowner, but I’m trying to be a decent human. I know, it’s a bit of a humbrag post, isn’t it? But it’s something I needed to discuss with myself.

Just bear me, okay?

Saturday’s Theme Music

Oh, the cats.

Well, first, oh, the smoke.

Yesterday’s sun was a pale red imitation of its usual glory, keeping temperatures down, but, man, that smoke. Health experts are saying that Oregon’s smoke has gone off the chart and is the worse in the world in some places.

Because of all this, we were keeping the cats in. Tucker was good about it. After showing interest in leaving, he shrugged, swished his tail, washed his chest, curled up, and went to sleep. Boo was erratic, insisting on trying to leave before finally settling by my feet.

But young Papi…oh, boy. The ginger wonder insisted every few hours through the night, “I must leeeaaavvveee.” I finally gave in to him at eight thirty this morning. Then I had to mask up, go out and call him back.*

Which brings me to today’s music. It came to me as I walked around calling the boy. Here’s The Proclaimers with “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” from 1983.

*(And now, the ginger glory is sitting here, staring at me and mewing, “I must leeeaaavvveee…”)

A Fire Update

Just a general update on things for friends and family. My neighborhood and family are safe. Ashland, where the Almeda fire began, is safe. The wind has abated but red flag alerts remain.

Gas stations and stores are busy with exhausted, worried out of towners. The Almeda fire started as a grass fire by a BMX park in Ashland but then spread west and north. The initiating source remains under investigation. Pushed by 40MPH plus gusts, the burned through Talent, then lit up and destroyed Phoenix. South Medford was next. The last word that we had, last night, was that the fire was contained. We’re looking for better info.

Meanwhile, spot fires had been going on, threatening other areas of Medford, Central Point, and Eagle Point, to our north and west. Those seem to have been extinguished. Interstate 5 is open in both directions.

Note: a rumor is going around in certain political circles that Black Lives Matter went along Interstate 5 starting fires. They offer no evidence. Police are working to dispel the stories circulating on social media. To me, these rumors increase the evidence of who this people are; at a time when everyone needs help and should come together, they use lies to plant seeds of distrust. There’s the wildfire that needs to be put out.

We’re under a request to limit water due to the water used to fight fires. We remain at Level 1, ready to go. There are other fires burning in Jackson County. Temperatures have dropped today. Locally, we’re expecting highs in the mid-eighties. But the temperatures will then return to the nineties and perhaps over one hundred. While the immediate worst threat has subsided, staying alert and ready is required.

Our air is smoky. I jump to the conclusion that it’s probably from smoldering areas of our fires. The smoke might be from California to the south, or other fires in Oregon up north.

I’m relieved that we survived here, but the losses suffered by others can’t be overstated. The impact on Talent and Phoenix, our neighboring towns, is like what happened to Paradise, California, and we all remember that. Buildings, homes, and possessions are gone. Our resources through government and charity are stretched. Assessments are still being conducted, and the fire monitored for hotspots. Only when the authorities are assured everything is out will the people be allowed to return to their places, make private assessments, and begin rebuilding.

Shocking Day

The consequences of the Almeda Fire (yeah, not ‘Alameda’), as it’s been declared, are rippling out. It’s named after the little street where the grass fire was first reported. The air is surprisingly clear, declared green by AQI, with a rating of 46, but a smoky odor teases you like a strong memory.

My little town, Ashland, Oregon, was where it started. We suffered some losses of homes. The area to the northwest suffered much more.

A trailer park is gone. Fast food restaurants and homes are gone. A winery.

Continuing into Talent…much of the northern side burned. The Camelot Theater is gone.

On into Phoenix…

Most news services are declaring that the small town of Phoenix, population of forty-five hundred, is gone. The primary road into town is blocked off, so confirmation is yet to come, but Youtube videos taken during the night attest that Phoenix suffered. Information is spotty, as the news services cope with elections, COVID-19, wildfires across the western US, and the snow in Colorado. We’re hampered locally as reporters had to evacuate their homes and the fire burned through a cable affecting at least one service provider. Some early reports said it was a local ISP called jeffnet, but others say it was Spectrum. Maybe it was both.

Those who bundle everything — television, phone, Internet — to one provider suddenly found they weren’t receiving the local emergency alerts, a new consideration offered for you the next time that you’re debating you options.

The fire continued into south Medford, about fifteen miles up the Interstate. That section of city was evacuated, along with the

Damage reports continue seeping in. So many fires are burning that the area lacks the resources to combat them. While towns and cities this part of Jackson County are fighting this fire, a larger fire is consuming another part of the county to our northeast. The county to the west is battling its own blazes, as are towns further north in Oregon. Little help is available.

The wind has abated. This is good news. Cooler temperatures are prevailing, the low nineties, but it’s going to increase again tomorrow and continue to get hotter the rest of the week.

Fickle Winds

I wrote about our local wildfire this morning. The fire was put out, so huzzah! Some homes destroyed…

I went on with my normal life for about an hour. I then turned back to netborhoods for fire updates and experienced heavy shock.

The fire had spread north. Going from less than a hundred acres, it was now over a thousand acres. While the wind had dissipated in our area, it stayed strong elsewhere. Pushed by the wind, the fire was spreading along the Interstate 5 corridor on the southern side.

Highways were being closed. Smoke filled the air…north of us. Neighborhoods, businesses, hemp farms, and wineries were evacuated. School classes were canceled.

Tuning in to other news revealed that numerous other fires were burning fast in southern Oregon, forcing evacuations, closing roads, destroying buildings, chasing wildlife. Central Point, Eagle Point, to the west, areas to the northeast two hours away.

Sifting through the news, I realized how fortunate we’d been. The fire started about three and a half miles away. A fortunate wind saved us, to the detriment of others.

The wind is still out there, though. All of Jackson County is at level one: be ready to go.

I packed some things in the car, just in case. Fickle winds can’t be trusted.

Disrupted

Nothing to see here. Just some first world venting blended with some humbrag complaining.

My writing concentration today has come like a reluctant child who’s itching to leave as soon as possible. I blame events, beginning with yesterday.

Yesterday was another hot one. Not a scorcher, it reached 99. It’s a scorcher when it goes over one hundred. Night temps had gone down to the mid-sixties the night before, enabling us to open windows and cool the house at night in the morning before buttoning up and enduring the day.

The temp was slow in dropping, though, still at 86 at 9:30 PM and 84 in the house. The office, where we read, surf the net, and watch our telly, was the hottest room, at 87. We, being staunch supporters of the church of miserly spending, eschewed the air con and just turned on a fan. Finally, though, I did a skin test. Walking outside and then returning in to feel the difference, I decreed it felt cooler outside, so I opened up windows for a welcome breeze.

Thirty minutes later, a strong wood smoke scent russhed in. “Winds must have shifted,” I said, mostly to myself. My wife was doing a puzzle and didn’t acknowledge my comment. The cats heard me, but I’d not mentioned food, so they were already on to staring at one another again, in case one of them tried something. I hoped that shifting winds was the source, even as I worried. We have several smaller fires burning within twenty-five miles. Sometimes, though, California wildfire smoke follows I5 up through the pass and down into our valley.

This smoke was worryingly strong. I closed the windows, muttering curses as I did. Going outside, the smell hit me like a broom to the face. Going back in, I said, “Wow, that smoke is really strong. You should check it out.” Worrying about new fires and evacuation, I hunkered down on the net.

Yes, the AQI had skyrocketed from around a pleasant and green twenty-five to a red, unhealthy one fifty-seven.

WTH?

Nothing from the city nor the fire department, but others on our local nets were wondering and worrying, too. In the fire department’s opinion, the smoke was coming from the 350 acre Grizzly Creek fire that firefighters have been battling.

Yet, they had noticed the smoke — and now there was falling ash. “There aren’t any reports of new fires,” the fire department said. “But if you see some flames, call us.”

Well, sure as shit, we will.

Responding to my comments, my wife went outside. Returning with wide eyes, she said, “It’s terrible out there. The smoke is really thick at the bottom of the hill.”

I went out to check again. The smoke was worse than before.

Nothing to do about it but grit our teeth and stay vigilant, my wife and I told each other and the cats, retiring to our evening routines. It was midnight. She went to bed to read while I stayed up watching telly and checking the net for new local fire news. The cats asked to go out. “No, dummies, it’s too smoky. You’ll ruin your lungs.”

Later, in bed, the wind was suddenly howling like a lonely beagle outside our window, beating up the trees, and punishing anything loose in the yard, knocking things around like a hyper cat expending energy. My wife whispered about her anxieties. I listened, wondering, is that the fence? The trash can was on the street because it was trash day. I worried about the can getting blown over, letting our contents flee on the wind.

6:30ish, I looked outside. The gray ashy sky made me gasp. Shit, to the ‘puter.

The net was down.

Terrific.

Verifying the trash can was upright and in place (and the fence was standing, and nothing was damaged), I reset the system. Walking around outside, the wind was still strong (forty mile an hour gusts was what I later read), shaking the trees and bushes. The cats were with me on the inspection round, but each time a sharp gust struck, the three headed back into the house floof haste

The net returned. Hallelujah. Eagerly I hunted news. It was there: a grass fire had sprung up in the city on the other end of town. With the winds, everyone was told to go to Level 1 and be prepared to leave. Those in the immediate area of the fire were issued immediate leave orders. I5, just a few hundred yards behind the fire, was shut down in both directions. The traffic cameras showed empty lanes southbound and double lines of idling traffic northbound.

Looking out the office toward the northwest part of town, I confirmed, yep, I see smoke.

Damn it. I reviewed checklists, supplies, and go bags. Which way to go. Well, north, of course, because south led to California, which was on fire. Except north required us to use I5. I5 was closed, and all of the town would be leaving on highway 99, a road that varies between two and four lanes and has multiple traffic lights. However, Highway 99 was also closed, just outside of town. Thus, we can’t go north.

A situation update arrived. People were returning to their homes. The city was issuing reassurances that nobody needed to evacuate the city. It looked like the interstate was being re-opened for travel. The wind faded away like…a dying wind. The sky is blue and smells fresh again, though the horizons are smudged.

Fire damages from the area are trickling in. We fared better than Malden, Washington, Colorado, California, and other places. No one was hurt. Yet, there are reports that another neighboring small town, Talent, had parts evacuated. The story continues.

I have my coffee. (It’s my second cup, if I’m honest, but why start now?) Time to settle down and write like crazy, at least one more time.

Monday Meringue

  1. Busy dream night. Left me feeling energized. I was flying in one dream. An incredible, vivid dream, I woke up confused at finding myself in a bed, in a room, and on the ground. Other than flying, feeling and hearing the wind while looking down on the world, there wasn’t much else to it. But I did think while looking down at mountains, forests, and seas, the world is a fine place. Such a different impression I experience while reading the news each day.
  2. I have noted a trend. Lots of dreams translates to high writing energy. It doesn’t work out as well as it might sound. I can’t keep up with my brain’s layered intensity to the story being followed. The ability to do that might separate critically and commercially successful writers from the rest of us pluggers. I’m working on it. Just like other acquired forms (athletics, music, art, math, reading, etc.), discipline and repetition can improve the process and outcome.
  3. Other than a foray to 104 degrees F Friday, we’ve been spared the triple-digit forecast. Sat. was supposed to be 105, Sunday, 108, but we hit ‘just’ 99 and 98. Today will only be 98. Lots of cloud cover so no need for the AC. The clouds block that sun, good for keeping cool, not so much for the solar panels. I’m happy with the trade.
  4. I can always tell when we’re not producing much solar energy. The inverter is in the garage. When the panels are cranking, it sounds like a large hive of angry murder bees. As of now, it’s putting out 900 watts and is quiet as a sleeping cat.
  5. Did a little typing with my left hand today. Progress. Return to doc a week from today. Fingers crossed…on my right hand.
  6. Yeah, got the coffee. Actually already drank it. Already wrote for two hours this morning. It was write, read, post, play a game, write, repeat. So time to continue writing like crazy one…more…time.

Friday Fry-up

  1. Don’t recall any dreams from last night. Odd. Frees up about an hour of time spent thinking about my dreams. Has my dream reservoir gone dry?
  2. Went out on a shopping expedition yesterday, Albertsons and Bi-Mart. Our prey was cat food and fresh fruits and veggies. All saved one was masked up, although several wore their masks with their noses exposed. Do you not get it, man? Yes, I know, there’s psychology, perceptions, fears, and lies at work there. Just ask Herman Caine. Sorry, cheap shot. Ask Rep. Gohmert (Crazy-TX) instead. He’s the latest flag-bearer for the nonsense brigade.
  3. Florida friends tell us that people there don’t act like there’s a pandemic going on except to put on masks to enter stores, because the stores require them. Then I read an article about a study that said, yes, as expected, young adults and teens are working and clubbing, then going home and infecting more vulnerable people. It’s trending up everywhere.
  4. Going to have social-distancing brunch outside at friends’ house this AM. Just the two couples will be present. I’m ambivalent about it. Like them, but do we need the risk? I am resentful, too, as my wife (with perceived mocking tone) said to friend on phone, “Oh, he’s not doing anything.” Hello? Writing? WTF. She then said, “Oh, don’t tell me I’m interfering with your schedule.” I’m sounding bitter, so I’ll stop.
  5. Okay, I am bitter.
  6. Our fire warnings were raised to extreme today. Humidity has dropped to 15% and we’ve had several days of triple digit highs. We’re in a mild trough today, with an overnight low of 58 and a forecast high of 94 for today. Worrisome as dozens of wildfires are already burning.
  7. Stay safe, everyone. Wear masks and distance.
  8. Gonna get some coffee now and try to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Friday’s Theme Music

Weather – hot. Summer: hot. City: hot.

Three entertaining songs about the heat, city, and summer. It’s like a tradition for me to ply ’em in my head as the city heat addresses my body.

Billy Idol, “Hot in the City“, 1982.

Hot Child in the City“, Nick Gilder, 1978.

And “Summer in the City” ,1966, The Lovin’ Spoonful.

Enjoy the heat. That is all.

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