Today is Freeday, August 5, 2022. Today you have the right to declare yourself symbolically free. Sounds like a waste but when you do so, using whatever styles desired short of hurting and killing other beings, it’s invigorating, liberating, stimulating, and intoxicating.
Weather is a very comfortable hazy and cool 72 F after an overnight low of 14 C. Highs of 94 F are expected. Freeday opened with a smooth and deliberate sunrise at 6:08 AM. Daylight hours will continue until the sun ‘drop’ at 8:25 this evening. All times are Pacific.
AQI is good. More fires have started, some have been partially contained, others have been extinguished.
Watched my cat, the ginger prince, study a large raccoon using the top of the back fence as a freeway about six thirty this morning. Meanwhile, as that went on, I tracked a skunk going around the yard. The skunk stayed to the perimeter, going through the leaves and making a lot of noise about it. Papi paid no mind to it. Once the Raccoon departed, Papi hopped up onto his patio condo – guess that’d be a pando – and went to sleep. What did fascinate me about the skunk was that a jay flew from tree to tree, spying on the skunk, never making a sound.
The Neurons had several Beach Boys and Beatles song skirmishing in the morning mental music stream. I called up Kings of Leon with “Sex on Fire” from 2008. The Neurons asked, “Why that song?” Tables turned, I replied, “Why not,” and laughed. It’s because I like the sonic influences, though, innit?
The coffee has commenced issuing its wake-up fragrance. I’m in the mood to have a cup. Stay positive test negative, etc. Here’s the music. Cheers
Just after sunrise at 6:02 AM, the sun began clearing the mountains and threw unmistakable blood-orange light through the windows. Smoke hazes and clots the air. Wildfires are burning somewhere. We can smell it. Our AQI has jumped to 90 around our part of town, 117 downtown, two miles away. Either the fire is nearby, or the winds and terrains are lifting and channeling it in our direction.
Good morning! Today is Saturday, July 30, 2022. One more day and then July is history. On to August.
Yesterday reached 112 F at our house. That was my home weather station’s reading. The net claimed 109. Alexa agreed. At 8:30 AM, it’s 81 F. The humidity has gone up. It’s only 39% but it feels heavier. Today’s high is expected to reach 106 F before sunset @ 8:32 this evening. The overnight low was 75 F last night.
That overnight low staying so high hurt. We kept waiting for the air to cool down outside so we could open doors and windows. It finally dropped below 90 at 11 PM. Yes, some relief. Then a skunk struck. Maybe two. The house was re-sealed for an hour while the winds scrubbed the odor away.
The heat affected our big black and white cat, Tucker. He’s older, and older cats struggle to deal with extreme heat. I brought him in, dampened a washcloth with cold water, and rubbed him down a few times. He really enjoyed it and is quite energetic this morning, with a strong appetite. Now, he’s resting by my right hand, providing editorial guidance. Papi, of course, is all, “It’s cool. I’m good.” I keep an eye on him. He appears to be telling the truth.
The Neurons are playing “Lovesong” by The Cure in the morning mental music stream. They’d started with “Friday I’m In Love” and then segued into “Just Like Heaven” before launching “Lovesong”. I asked them, “What’s with the medley? What do you know that I don’t?” They, sipping their espressos, snickered and replied, “Ho, ho, a lot.”
“Lovesong” came out in 1989. I was still in the military, in Germany, then, and found I really enjoyed the song’s moodiness. Hope you enjoy it on this July Saturday, 2022.
Stay positive, test negative, and take care of yourself, yeah? Sure. Back to reading. Back to writing. Back to a cup of coffee. Then, things to do. It’s Saturday, you know. Cheers
Congratulations. Another Friday has arrived. Might mean something to you. The weekend is starting. A television show is coming on that you wanted to see. Friends arriving. And the date, July 23, 2021, might also mean something. An anniversary or birthday. For me, it’s but another day and date, another in the string.
Temperatures continue to be on the cool side of summer. Maybe those shorter days are getting reflected in the temp. Sunrise wasn’t until 5:55 AM today. Sunset will be at 8:39 PM. Could be that the wildfires are affecting our weather and cooling us. The Bootleg still roars away to the east. Winds have been favorable for us, keeping our skies clear. Hooray for us, sucks for others. Sigh.
My brain is entertaining me with a 1971 song. Mouth and MacNeal came out with “How Do You Do”, a Dutch duo, saw their simple song become an international hit. It’s easy to remember and sing. So feel free to do it.
Meanwhile, try to stay positive. Test negative. Wear a mask as needed. Get the vax. Please, if you haven’t. Cheers
Remembering and reflecting upon dreams whilst I shaved, my brain sang, “Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma” by Melanie Safka (1970). Interesting way to start the morning.
Thursday, July 15, 1970, has arrived. Day rise began at 5:48 AM. Night fall will begin with sunset at 8:46 PM. Cooler temperatures are carrying the weather today. Just gonna be 86 degrees F tonight. Feels more like an early autumn day than summer. Air smells fresh although wildfire smoke rims the valley along the peaks and ridges. The Bootleg Fire still rages a hundred miles away, adding to its total of 330 square miles of destruction. Authorities report it’s 7% contained. Full containment isn’t expected until October.
COVID-19 numbers are rising everywhere in the U.S.. Independence Day gatherings coupled with vaccination hesitancy, complacency, people not wearing masks, and the D variant’s growing presence is bringing the virus back in a significant way. Mitigating the virus’s impact remains a stout hurdle for the world.
Musically, I shifted from Melanie to 10cc and “I’m Not In Love” (1975). This wasn’t about love for me, but the thinking, as I washed and thought about plans, “This is a phase I’m going through.” That kicked up the song’s line, “It’s just a silly phase I’m going through. And just because, I call you up, don’t get me wrong, don’t think you got it made.” That led to a chuckle and a worry about my own complacency, although this was about writing complacency. When it’s going well, I can be complacent, which then turns into a setback. Gotta keep pressing.
Stay pos, test neg, wear a mask as needed, and get the vax. Here’s the music. Cheers
Happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends and the nation north of the U.S. I send them wishes for a joyous celebration and greater success and prosperity.
Today is July 1, 2021. A Thursday. Pale gold burnished the upper reaches of hills, trees, and mountains at 5:38 AM. It’ll fade away into night at 8:51 PM. Sunshine will deliver us to some mild heat — the low nineties — today. Smoke comes and goes to the valley from the Lava Fire by Weed, California. If you want to see the fire, head to Mount Ashland, just outside town, which offers a panoramic view of the smoke. Flames are visible at night.
The deepening drought delivered another depressing blow. Water limitations and drought meant the blueberries didn’t come in at our favorite u-pick-em site. We’d been doing this for over a decade. It’s one of our Ashland traditions. The blueberry owners are trying to keep the place alive and hope to see us all next year.
Also canceled for the second year is the July 4th Parade. COVID concerns, yes. Planning needed to start months ago and where we’d be now was too uncertain to plan. The fireworks are canceled. I’ve become ambivalent about fireworks. Loved ’em as a child. Now I understand what they do to the land and animals. Sadly, this year, the drought is too intense to risk fireworks. Locals are still reeling from Ashland’s near miss last September. Yeah, near miss, not quite. Two thousand homes were destroyed on the north edge of town. Talent and Phoenix were reduced to smoky piles of rock and wood in many areas, gutting the towns physically and emotionally. With those emotional scars still vivid, many are relieved that the fireworks won’t take place.
Without too much surprise, I bet, I introduce a song about summer, called “Summer”. By War, it was released in 1976. Some may claim that 1976 was a simpler time. It may’ve been for many. For others, it was a time like the rest, working to feed yourself, working to beat the heat, playing to relieve the stress, doing what you can as you face an uncertain future. Who sang, “The future’s uncertain and the end is always near”? That’s right, Jim and the lads, back in another century. I used to sing, “The future’s uncertain and the end is always clear.” Made me sense to me
Anyway, here’s “Summer”, a mellow reflection on the hot season. Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask as needed, and get the vax. Cheers
Sol’s rosy forays into the valley began at 5:38 AM on this fine Wednesday, June 30, 2021. This is June’s last day for for this year, it should be noted, unless we’re groundhog dayying it. Maybe we have been involved in a groundhog day scheme for a while but we don’t know. Only one character in the movie knew that everyone was going through the same day again and again and again…
Our cooling trend continues. Yesterday reached 99 degrees F. Today will be 96 F, a twenty degrees drop from a few days ago, and very welcome. The plants wouldn’t mind cooler times. They’re going brown and dry. I walk around, bracing myself for the tasks of culling, pruning, and pulling. Sunfall on this parched area will come about 8:51 PM. Then the real cooling plays.
The Lava Fire smoke from down Weed way in California is gone from the AM sky. Seventeen thousand acres, nineteen percent contained was the latest report that I read. The winds have died here so I hope they’ve died there. Complicating the firefighting efforts around Weed is large swaths of illegal cannabis growths.
I’m thinking “Spiderwebs” by No Doubt (1995) for my theme music today. We’re not spider killers. Spiders are beneficial. We appreciate that. They get busy with their webs, though, hurrying around 24/7, installing new webs, leaving old ones behind. I was going about knocking some of the stuff down this morning when the song came on in my brain. The song, though, has little to do with my situation, except walking into the spiderwebs. It’s amazing when the cats do it. Especially Meep, aka Papi. Meep will soundlessly jerk back and walk around the webs. Boo makes a noise and bulls through at a faster tempo. Big Tucker gives them a swat, washes himself, and presses on. I think there’s another metaphor there, somewhere.
Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask as necessary (yeah, stories are circulating about the D variant), and get the vax. Here’s the music. Cheers
Well, the stories circulating the net about me are true: I changed my underwear. Like many, I started as a tighty whitey in the sixties. Bikini briefs burst on the scene and I went over to those in my early twenties. Eventually, I found my way to boxers in my late twenties, and rested on that preference for several decades. In fact, I’d not bought underwear since the end of the last century. My boxer collection fit. They worked. They were wearing thin, become more like see through lingerie. I reacted, whatever. Mom used to warn me about having clean underwear without holes in them when I was a youth, in the event of an accident. We’ve all heard about that trope, haven’t we? I was rebelling agin’ it. If people could wear jeans with holes cut in them as a fashion statement, I could wear underwear with holes in them.
The new undies are boxer briefs. They have a little sack for my sack. It’s a sack sack. They’re also made of stretchy cotton. They cradle my butt and hold it up. Sexy, yes? Well, we’ll see about that, but they are comfy. Now I must go out with the old.
Thinking with out with the old, I looked up something on the net yesterday. Algorithms behind searches and advertising thought that I should be reminded that Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones starred in The Fugtitive in 1993. That’s a good marker for change. I was in the military at what became my final duty assignment at Onizuka in California. A few families decided to go to the ‘Drive-in Movies’ because the last one in the San Jose-Mountain View-Santa Clara-etc. area was closing in a few weeks. We bought pizzas and watched The Fugitive. It was my final drive-in movie experience.
I loved going to the drive-in movies with my family as a child. Mom did it right. Made fudge. A big roaster of salted, buttered popcorn. Iced lemonade to drink. We took pillows and blankets. Arriving early for a good spot was a must. That meant getting there before dusks. The movies began at dusk. To kill the time until then, we spent time on a playground up in the front by the big screen. Then darkness fell. The speaker was attached to the window. Commercials played. Cartoons followed. Then the movies.
Although, one year, at the drive-in, I was on the see-saw (or teeter totter) as a young one (five?). Dad was supervising us. He was holding me up while helping my sister off on the other end. I decided to get off. Just as the see-saw came down. Landed on my ankles. Didn’t break them but did serious damage. I was restricted to bed rest for weeks.
Painting yesterday required me to empty the home entertainment center. To move it and paint the wall behind it. Although infrequently used, I’m loaded with CD. Hundreds. The CD player has space for 200. Bought that thing waaayyy back in Germany in 1990. Amazing it still works as designed. My wife wondered if I could part with some CDs. I declined. I’m saving them for the apocalypse. I’ll crank up a generator and my music. Meanwhile, I was listening to classic rock through Alexa as I painted, because the stereo was dismantled to move the entertainment center.
The bee tree is humming today! Don’t know what kind of tree it is but it’s tall and fragrant. Bees love it. Early last week, I walked past it. Hearing silence, seeing no bees brought on a touch of weary depression. Then, two days later, I noticed bees had arrived and were singing as they worked. Today they had a huge chorus going. I can sit in the office and watch them flying to and from the tree and around the branches. Go, bees!
We’ve been trying (again) to simplify. (I know, I should start with the CDs (or old underwear), but I’m not.) We usually buy used books and then sell them to book stores. If we can’t do that, we give them to Goodwill and/or swap them at tiny libraries. But circumstances (COVID-19) has prevented us from selling or donating books. We have boxes and books full of hardbacks, trade backs, paperbacks. Seeking a new way, we looked at selling them back to book stores online. We’re fans of Powell’s City of Books, so we started with them. Twenty books were selected that met their condition guidelines. I put the ISBNs in; eleven books were selected. We printed out the UPS label. Packed up the box. Took it to UPS. Powell’s received it the next day. That was over two weeks ago. Silence since then. We’re disappointed. We’re talking about trying other places.
It’s wildfire season again here in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Heat is rising, the drought is spreading and deepening. Vegetation is going brown. Ashand Firewise Program urges homeowners, land owners, and businesses to clean up their area. It’s an ‘or-else’ situation. They will fine you. Cut your weeds and grass to less than four inches because otherwise, it’s fire fuel. Clean up your dead leaves, or it’s fire fuel. Ditto, fallen branches. Yet, walking home along a main road in Ashland, the city’s property is covered with leaves and the debris that they urge us to clean up, or-else. Another case as do as I say, not as I do.
I’ve made a resolution for 2022: don’t go to the emergency room. Been to the ER three years running. 2019 was for an enlarged prostate/blocked urethra. 2020 saw me break two bones in my left arm. 2021 had me in being treated for a kidney stone. That’s enough, okay?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.