Monday Muddlings

  1. It’s day six since the Almeda Fire started. We last left the house on errands (other than stepping out to look at the sky and yard) last Thursday.
  2. One cat was sitting on the floor. Another one came around the corner, encountering the first. Both released a startled, “Meow!” We thought that was so funny. I think maybe we’ve been locked up in the house too long.
  3. Looking back to March. COVID-19 struck. Stay in the house, we’re warned. Then, wear a mask. Businesses shut down. Eventually, we made progress about what should and shouldn’t be done. Businesses opened and set up to accommodate new guidelines to help flatten the curve. Summer arrives. We’re warned to curtail outdoor activities due to extreme temperatures. Wildfires spread up and down along the west coast. We’re warned to stay inside because of unhealthy air. The Almeda Fire starts in our town and rips north and west, destroying hundreds of homes and businesses within twelve hours. We’re warned to stay inside because of hazardous air.
  4. Meanwhile, we monitor hurricanes and cyclones, melting ice caps, rain and flooding in other places.
  5. It’s been a tense and stressful six months.
  6. With all that’s happened in the world, and the things we’ve survived, we’re still among the more fortunate.
  7. Took the trash out last night. The smoke’s smell seemed less offensive and irritating. Am I developing a tolerance to the stench, or is it finally starting to leave our valley? Naturally I check purpleair.com. Eureka! One monitor reports we’re down to two hundred in one part of town and below four hundred. If we can lop off two hundred more, the air will be just ‘unhealthy’.
  8. My broken arm and hand’s swelling has finally significantly decreased. I can make a fist with little pain and tightness. Hurrah for progress!
  9. Writing isn’t going well. I’m an info junkie, hunting a fix, and vetting what I learn. I keep letting myself off the hook. Where the hell is my discipline? Going to go get some coffee, and you know…try to write like crazy, at least one more time.

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.

Witless Wednesday

  1. So the classic editor is moved, not gone, the WP blog tells me. What a compromise mess. They sent me an email telling me it was done after the fact. Fairly, they may have sent an earlier heads up that I missed. Once again, I’m not a WP happy camper.
  2. Though it’s witless Wednesday, I’m not going to address POTUS 45 and the GOP, save this item. They’re just too SMFH witless.
  3. For some reason, my wife drifted into the living room and turned on the telly. This was about five PM. We usually turn on the local news at six PM for weather and wildfire updates. COVID-19 updates have been added to the menu although the net updates are way superior to the TV updates. My spouse was laughing through an old show, “Sliders”. I entered to check what was going on. (Television watching and laughing in the afternoon? This is highly suspicious.) Commercials began. She said, “This is the lawsuit channel.” We then saw four ads for suing, for Catholic Church abuse, the Boy Scouts of America, mesothelioma, and asbestos damage. What a world what a world.
  4. I desperately ‘need’ a new office chair. Got rid of the old thing in Feb, then, COVID. Been doing time with dining and folding chair. This spoiled writer’s butt has mentioned its dissatisfaction several times. In June, I began shopping them online, then…broken arm in July. As I’d be the one carrying, lifting, and putting the chair together, I felt holding off was prudent. Been this long, right? Probably order one after I shift casts. I’ll likely buy through Costco. A, cashback. B, a forgiving return policy and easy process.

Got my coffee, you know? Time to 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 Frittering

It’s me, so I’m going to whine first

  1. Arm continues improving. Strength, mobility, and flexibility in my fingers is returning. Improvement has been accelerating. Hoorah. Return to the doc in ten days.
  2. Fiction writing is sloooowww. Did nine thousand words in fifteen days. That should’ve been done in less than five days, easy. Such a whiner, right? Yes, it’s my nature. I let it out, and then affirm, but, hey, you’re writing. It’s something. Be an optimist, not a pessimist.
  3. By nature, I’m a pessimist and an optimist. I complain and release it, then address it to overcome it. Mostly. It’s all a sliding spectrum with moving targets every day. The thing I’ve recognized in myself is that while I go dark, I also return to the light.
  4. I enjoy eavesdropping on my wife’s exercise class. An in-person Family Y class in origins, it went to Zoom after social distancing went live in Ashland, Oregon. Mary is the instructor. She began the class in 1975. Held Mon-Wed-Fri mornings, it’s very popular. Going online has allowed people who moved away to come back and re-fire friendships. Attendees from D.C., Portland, Idaho, Florida, and California are now regulars…again. Such a positive thing, a testament to community and friendship.
  5. A beautiful night favored the area last night, wonderful for meteor spotting, except…cat. Two of the felines often accompany me as I go into the yard and check the sky. The house panther, though, kept winding around my legs and talking. Made it hard to move and focus, especially while craning my head back. I love my cats but sometimes, they’re a little much.
  6. The ginger boy (Papi, aka Meep) apparently had a misadventure yesterday evening. Gone for hours, he returned subdued and disheveled. I checked for wounds and found none. He, a young cat who usually prowls the night, stayed in last night. All night.
  7. Love this political ad. “Enough is Enough is Enough!” Vote Proud.

So, got my coffee, baby. Time to write like crazy at least one…more…time.

Having Fun

I’m having fun with my writing these days. I usually have fun but some days become more challenging and wearying.

Not so now. Still typing with one hand so I hunt and peck across the keyboard and through the story. Six hundred words a day is usually the sum of two hours of effort. My biggest typing issue is that my finger often finds the ‘y’ when I’m seeking the ‘t’.

The characters’ voices are strong and clear. I’m infatuated with the concept. Variations on it delight me as they spool out. Abetted by slow typing, I’m taking my time developing the story and building the plot.

It’s clear to me that I’m riding toward the peak of my up and down cycles. Dreams have been empowering, inspiring, energizing, and enabling, exhorting me to be positive and to not despair. It’s a pleasure when your subconscious becomes a supporter instead of a saboteur.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Thursday’s Tiny Tidbits

Is it redundant to say tiny tidbits? Are not tidbits tiny by definition?

There’s a bit of whinging in this week’s short stuff, because I, an American white male, am a champion first-world complainer, often suffering first world blues much like “The Princess and the Pea”. I play the princess (call me Princess M, please) and the pea is anything from entertainment offerings, food prices, and net speeds to ‘things I can’t do well with my broken arm’.

I think I’ll start there.

  1. Typing. Buttons. Holding things with my left hand. Showering. Washing my hair. Putting on deodorant. Opening cat food tins. Opening ziplock type bags. Tearing toilet paper. These have all been challenges with my left arm in a splint and sling. Went back and read the ER report from that night. I’d overlooked the damages noted to my elbow, wrist, and fingers. I thought it was just the broken radius and broken and displaced ulna, but there was more. That more explains the struggles. All getting better, though. Give it time, right? It’ll be a month tomorrow.
  2. One-handed typing slows my novel writing. I depend on muscle memory and typing proficiency to expedite learning the tale and telling the story. Using one hand requires more thought, which disrupts the writing flow. Progress is tedious. I shoot for a thousand words a day (yeah word count as a metric, carrot, and stick) but I’m usually lucky to achieve five hundred.
  3. Other things: one, food prices. They’re rising fast now. Experts are making dire predictions about shortages, food insecurity, and distribution chain issues next year. Like, brace yourself.
  4. Example of food prices rising. Went on a groc shop today. Twelve items. One bag, mostly fresh produce: $42. Passed on a pint of mission figs for $12.99, and a half pint of blackberries for $4.99.
  5. The stock market isn’t moored in reality. It certainly isn’t ‘the economy’. One, most stocks are international businesses, reflecting global activity. Two, the wealthiest individuals own most of the stock. As an example, I own stocks, and also have some in IRAs and a 401k. Because of that, I’m worth a chunk more on paper.
  6. Running short of entertainment offerings. Basically have been rationing season two of “The Umbrella Academy” while working through “The Last Dance” and other documentaries and filling up on Brit faves “Would I Lie to You” and “QI” (with that rand Scandi Sandi and Alan Davis), and “The Kominsky Method“. Have just discovered the “Russo Bros. Pizza Film School“, which I’ll start watching tonight. Last week brought an unexpected “Red Dwarf” treat in a new episode.
  7. “Red Dwarf” remains unabashedly silly and illogical after all these years. Love it.
  8. Excitement on the streaming front. “Hitmen” with Sue and Mel on Peacock is coming. (If you asked, “Sue and Mel?”, it’s probably not your cuppa.) New Frost and Pegg series on Amazon Prime, “Truth Seekers”, is coming…someday. The second year of “The Boys” is finally arriving Sept. 4, so I’ll start watching season one again.
  9. Saying the long good-bye to a friend. Brain tumor. He’s trying to hang on to vote for Biden and have one final Thanksgiving with his family. Eighty-eight and an accomplished physicist, he’ll be the one to tell you he’s had a good life, but he had a lot more to do. He’s the third friend lost to brain cancer/tumor in the last few years.

Tell me about your world – books, streaming, writing in progress. What’re you watching? Eat anything interesting lately? “Red Dwarf”: for or against?

Got my coffee. Time to do me best to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Saturday’s Snippings

  1. John Muir and Margaret Sanger. These two are the latest to be addressed for their racism. In Sanger’s case, it’s more nuanced, regards eugenics, and is too much for my sprawled one-handed pecking for much detail here. I do recommend research. Muir, though, was an outright racist. We learn that people can be visionary and flawed. His damage to our society is deep. It’s sad and disheartening to learn these things. But they must be learned, and we need to be cognizant of the damage inflicted, and, yeah, make changes.
  2. Making changes like acknowledging past racism and its impact and then trying to fix it is just like the stages of grief, isn’t it? It’ll take a while to work through it. I can hear replies, how much longer must it take?
  3. Lovely to feel my arm healing. Strength is returning, range of movement is expanding, and the circle of pain is shrinking. Go back next week. The plan (if all is well) is to replace the splint with a short cast.
  4. Realizing that next week is August. July passed through with a sonic boom.
  5. I love the John Cheever quote I found this morning (posted elsewhere on the blog). It speaks strongly to my own writing drive. I always think, there’s more to our lives and reality than what we know. I’m agnostic about gods, and indeed enjoy tucking them into my tales, but I pursue the impression that we’ve only skimmed the surface of being. Writing helps me explore that essence.
  6. Drank a fantastic cup of coffee this morning. Right temp, flavor, and richness. A wow cup. Which made me immediately want to experience it again. Comparing it to drinking wine and beer, and eating food, and achieving things, I appreciated again the blend needed to brew something memorable that’s greater than its parts. Once, I’ve had it, I want more of the same. Not an epiphany, but a lesson learned one more time.
  7. Speaking of one more time, got a refresher cuppa coffee (yeah, it’s not the same, but it’ll do). Time to write like crazy…at least one. More. Time.

Thursday Trifles

  1. Yes, I’m watching what’s happening 280 miles up the road in Portland and the Feds in there under Trump’s orders. Yes, I’m angry. Yes, I’m proud of Portland’s citizens and Oregonians pushing back. Bottom line for Trump: I believe it’s another ego play for him, but I also think he’s trying to energize his campaign and drive headlines away from the mounting COVID-19 deaths. I also think it’s a poor strategy for him. We’ll know in November.
  2. Went shopping at Trader Joe’s and Costco today during elderly hours. All were masked and polite but the stores were pretty lean with customers on this warm summer Thursday. Yeah, I’m not complaining. Our bills startled me: $142 and $195, all food and staples. Then again, that’s most of the groc shop for the month. We’re saving half our monthly income because we don’t go anywhere. Small blessings, right? I’ll take them.
  3. We’ve reached our summer temps. A gentle rhythm has begun. Temps stat in the low nineties and slowly rise to 100, then drop to the low nineties again; repeat. This goes on for five to seven days. It cools to high fifties to seventy at night. We throw the windows and doors open, chill the house overnight, then seal the house the next morning. The office is the warmest room, so we run a small fan in there. We’ve yet to run the air con, knock wood.
  4. Our house floofs are loving the weather. Sleep all day in a comfy place, come in for dinner, then patrol the darkness, kibbling through the night.
  5. Unfortunately, with the summer weather come lightning strikes in the mountains and wildfires. We get smoky air and worries. Ten fires were covered in the news. We  have organizations and well-trained people to deal with it, for which I’m grateful. We stay concerned about them and their health and safety. Talk about some brave, essential people. I put them on that list.
  6. Got my coffee. You know what that means. One-handed typing is slow going, but I think my muses are flourishing with the slowdown. I’m enjoying the slow train, too, and how my pace lets more unfold. Okay, onward: I’m going to go write like crazy, at least one more time, but slowly.

Had a rona moment, calling today Tuesday when it’s Saturday. I mean, Thunesday. Whatever.

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