Wednesday, January 10, 2018


*****hard read***death****babies***tragic situations*****

that is not a river, that is the freeway 

The fire, which is still not 100% contained, has left nothing on our surrounding mountains, valleys, canyons and roads. There is no habitat and the animals that are found are badly burned or sick.
and if that is not heartbreaking enough...
Monday night we got our first rain, and in one nearby town they got 8 inches of rain in 15 minutes!

It created a large debris flow (topsoil, dead plants and trees, boulders) and mudslide that has destroyed the quiet community and so far resulted in 16 deaths and over two dozen people still missing, hundreds trapped via inaccessible roads on their roofs and many more injured. 
Airlift evacuations and evacuations via military vehicles and personnel are currently taking place. There are search dogs and search and rescue personnel currently looking for survivors and those who have perished.
Some of these people did not heed the mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders, still ruffled from finally being home after being displaced by the fire only a couple of weeks ago; but the majority of them were in a warning area...which is "a be prepared to leave but we are on watch and wait" kind of order. So they were totally taken off guard. The mud slid at 3:30am- I got an emergency flash flood warning on my phone at 3:40am (even though I am not in the area, it went out like an Amber Alert)

There is one main highway that connects my community to this community and that is covered in mud and debris and it stretches for about 30 miles.

The sound of helicopters once again fills the skies and the photographs are too much to bear.
The video footage is constant and it is a race against time to find the missing.
Although we are all spread out, it is a small community where people know people or have visited their shops or restaurants.
The photos of the missing are heartbreaking and when you recognize someone your heart sinks and regardless of your spiritual belief you start hoping for the best.
None of these people deserved this, no one should have to go through this, regardless of choices made; good or bad.

There was a couple interviewed by news agencies yesterday, both in shock, rescued from the roof of their home, transported by military personnel to a safe spot. They were getting onto their roof when the man heard a baby, he found a baby under four feet of mud, cleared the mud from its mouth and it was helicoptered away (it is expected to survive)...he said he didn't know where it came from.
If he had not been evacuating, he could not have saved it.
I was torn into a million pieces seeing this yesterday, as you can imagine.

I am taking care of myself, unable to go to work or yoga class 
I am in the studio making or trying to make art.
Hoping for more survivors and good stories
all to the background hum of helicopters

hug your loved ones
hug your friends
offer a kind word to a stranger
be kind to yourself

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Day 24-The End

91% containment

Nothing will make you feel like more of an adult than dealing with an insurance adjuster. 
The saga has ended more fire helicopters or sirens.
This transition has left me feeling like
I tripped and landed hard into this new reality, suddenly it is all over.

It felt similar when we realized that parenthood was not in our future or lives.
It was a bumpy transition and left me grumpy and relieved and confused.

We have a home, for that I am deeply grateful...and confused still as to how or why our home was spared...but it is time to remove the plastic from all the doors and windows.
The air purifiers are still running, I think now as a security blanket for us.

I finally put the items away that we had taken after coming back on the day after evacuation.
The forgotten precious things:
My wedding ring, a family painting from the 1800's...a photo of our wedding.
This whole process has been scary, humbling and enlightening.  

the hillside across the street as we were evacuating, left and right side obscured by trees
(taken while driving away from our home)
across the street-two days ago

Not only have we been dealing with constant fire and evacuation dreams (I figure this is happening because I was woken from slumber when we got the call to leave immediately)
but The Barren has gotten chest illnesses.
The Barren has been to the walk-in clinic two weekends in a row after since the fire started.
The first visit confirmed walking pneumonia and the second confirmed a secondary bronchial irritation from the smoke and particulates.
We had both been coughing and got stuffy noses after we left...and have been wearing particle masks by day three, but that was not enough to protect us from the constant rain of ash, dust and smoke...
so much smoke.

Now we are to adjust to this new reality.
700 homes lost in our town
so many people have been touched by this fire.
Everyone has a story of the night they had to leave.

I am most touched by the stories that keep coming to light, the good in this town...
the stuff that makes you cry from being so deeply touched in the heart:

* A call went out from a family who lost their home, that they wanted to bring their dog home from the animal evacuation shelter but the fence in the home they were staying in was a little wonky and they didn't have a hammer to fix it. There was someone at their door within ten minutes.

* The fact that donations and volunteers were asked to be halted as there was too much! They had all they could use and then some.

* The firefighters asking to stop giving them food and donations, they had too much

* The local man who didn't know what to do, so he made sifters for people who lost their help them find precious items that survived

My favorite quote from a local evacuation site for livestock: 
" Don't let that emu out, he is a real asshole and super hard to catch "

Everyone has been gentle with everyone...I see more hugging and listening.

I am finally able to get back to my practice too.
I found that not only had the stress taken a toll on me mentally, but physically.
I was not able to practice as the air quality was horrible for breathing 
and unsafe for teachers to get to the studio.
I was also unable to travel to the town to practice because of the fire activity.
I missed my quiet community of toe touchers.
Home practice is not the same, at least for me...

So here I am trying to adjust, working on readjusting...feeling quiet still
and watching The Barren like a hawk.
I think I will peel a window open today....I am feeling hopeful.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Day 13

my grandmother always said if you feel blue, put on a bright color
She never had to accessorize with a smoke filtering mask
I am currently stress eating popcorn, and sipping CBD tea to stay calm.

We are out of the fires path, and our home is still sealed from outside smoke as the  air purifiers run 24 hours a day.
The air quality will continue to be an issue until we get rain...
which there is no sign of through the month.

This morning the phones started to explode again, this time it is north front; 
where my parents and The Barrens mother lives.
40+ miles from our home.

The police and fire have closed the one freeway that is open to all traffic that is not evacuating.
We have no way to get to my parents or brother and family. 
The Barren has no way to get to his mother.

We are trapped again in a different way.

The Barrens mother would be evacuated first and my parents after that...
this fire has continued to grow to the east and west of us.
Active fire on both sides.
The community to the north of us just had their orders lifted the other day.

A family member from another part of the country asked:
" What does it feel like there? I imagine people are pulling together to help each other, but it must be exhausting"
My response was:
Our town feels sad, the the community has totally come together with pop up relief centers for food water and clothing. The same for the nearby communities.
The community up the coast is ground zero today. The streets are quiet with most people evacuating or packing to prepare to leave at a moments notice. There is also active fire to the East, which is mostly farms and agriculture, so a lot of activity there to get food off the vine and save farms."

I spoke with the few farmers at the outdoor market this morning, and was told again that the field workers were not offered masks to protect themselves from the smoke and ash as they work outside. A friend of of a friend was trying to distribute masks the other day and was kicked out. 
This continues to break my heart and I have been carrying extra masks with me to offer to people I encounter...the homeless community has also been effected deeply in these communites.
We have to look out for those who are overlooked.

Please be extra kind to someone today...

Saturday, December 09, 2017


In day 6 of the fires...
We have returned to our home, while our area is still under mandatory evacuation orders. The threat of fire is no longer an issue. The air was cleaner at the time of that decision, from where we had evacuated to. Now every direction has bad air and on some days it has been listed as worse than Beijing.

So...We are home against evacuation orders, but have no cleaner place to go. We have three air purifiers running full blast, have taped up all the windows and some vents and lights, to decrease smoke leaking into the home. The cats are with us and keeping them safe and comfortable is paramount on the list. We feel like cowpokes..
We have electricity, the boil order on our water has been lifted and we are together and working as a united front. 
But boy, I have to admit, I am exhausted. 
I don't sleep all the way through the night, I have dreams about fire overtaking me and my home.
I am worrying about The Barren and his well being, I am worrying about the cats...I wonder how I will be able to get to work next week as the fire is moving in that direction.
I am toasted, stick a fork in me.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Day Three

Midnight Monday we were awoken by reverse 911 calls telling us to flee immediately- do not delay, so we fled with the cats and the clothes on our backs and laptops.

We are the green dot
the yellow is the burn area
the red and orange lines are the evacuation areas.
Sadly as I write this...those lines are being filled in with burn areas
and as of right now, our home is still standing.
but the fire captain just said 
" we are looking at winds where there will be no ability to fight fires"
So tonight we are sleeping together in a room in my MIL home while she is out of town
We will see if our home still stands in the morning, 
after a third wave of blazing out of control wildfires and winds of 70+miles per hour.

We have recovered from the initial shock, we are simply numb and keep saying
it is going to be what it is.
We have zero control of this and that is fine.
We have to be

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Happy Birthday Lefty!

5 years ago I took a test that saved my ovary!
I celebrate that day as a new birthday for my ovary ever since.

Today is my left ovaries birthday.
I have had several new cycles with her and she has not decided to grow anything new!
I am thankful for that 

Here is to lefty
formally Quasimodo

I am looking to celebrate many more healthy birthdays with you ⭐

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Recap of a moment in time

I made it past so many milestones these last few weeks...
I am amazed at myself.
I am still standing...and I really believe that I can say I am firmly planted.

my view of the crowd and cameras and newspaper people

I survived the speaking engagement, turns out it was me and two museum directors!
No other artists on the panel, so I indeed offered a unique perspective.
It was an extra credit kind of thing, so the people who were not looking at their phones the whole time were kind of listening. I had super prepared and was quoted in the school paper complete with some unflattering photos:

The Barreness, a photographer and printmaker shared her experience with rejection, but she describes having her work accepted as magical and validating “Rejection is a massive part of the career, “Be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods.”She advises to learn how to do everything— to understand what’s being made in the community, to go to art galleries and read books."
So that happened and is past me. The Barren surprised me and came to the event, and sat across the hall opposite of me, so he could give me ques about speaking up and cheer me on. I was beyond touched and felt so very loved and supported and surprised. 
Next was my miscarriage anniversary, and I was quiet most of the day, but I felt stronger than years past, although it might not of appeared that way from the outside. A few people mentioned just how exhausted I looked. The Barren checked in with me a couple of times, and made a suggestion that to better live with the day, maybe I should consider treating it differently; think of it differently. Instead of mourning the loss, think of it more like a journey, or the start of one. Our little star child was released to be whomever they were meant to be with us and it created the magic that allows them to whisper in our ears when our heart is heavy or come to us in our dreams when I need to imagine what they might have looked like... As a reassurance of them always being with us. 
I am working on that....but I can see the long-term benefit of it. 
A healthier heart and lighter soul, for us all.
Then there was Halloween and a chance to dress up as a longtime hero:
                   Considering I am allergic to latex this was an act of bravery and admiration!                                                   I loved slipping into this persona and feeling strong and smarter than normal and ready to take on the world!
We made dinner and turned off the porch lights and binged watched Stranger Things season was the perfect Halloween, there was even rowdy teenagers outside looking for trouble and candy and tummy-aches.
Then our wedding anniversary! 
Whew...25years together and 15 married...crazy crazy and ooooh so thankful and grateful and wonderful. My heart is beyond full when I think of the The Barren. He is truly a match made in heaven for me. He got me a crystal ball, so I could see our long and happy lives 💖 I mean REALLY!!
Now I am left to wonder what the rest of the year holds...I am beyond most of the timelines and really in a free-fall again to make any kind of art I want. I am also scrambling to make some cash, I have made crafty things, placed affordable art in some gallery spaces...hoping hard that someone wants to shop and become an art collector.  I can say that although things are dry it is not from lack of trying.  I am firmly planted now...Just fine tuning and growing.