In the last two and a half days I’ve had a chance to really examine my own mortality. It’s a strange sensation really – to think about the world without you in it. To think about your friends, family, pets, possessions, home no longer being there when they were just there a moment ago.

This morning when I awoke, there was a thick grey cloud of smoke just over the hill. I knew it came from the three fires blazing and threatening to merge, just a 20 minute drive from me. There are quite a few miles between me and β€˜it’ but with gale force winds, an ember can fly a pretty long way. Our house is butted up against the “Wash” which is a dry riverbed that comes off the Angeles Crest National Forest. Lots of dry brush more than happy to make itself fuel for any fires that might want to visit. Indeed, I have seen fires just up the side of the mountain which is at the end of my block. I’ve heard the helicopters and seen the planes that drop the water many, many times. Believe me, folks, it’s unnerving.

Though wherever you live you come to accept whatever the natural disaster of that region is and tend to live your life – go about your business. I’ve lived here a long time and seen a lot of fires, a lot of mud slides and quite a few earthquakes. But, I’ve never seen 12-15 fires raging at once, never seen our spectacular firefighters stretched so thin and so far. So maybe that is why I decided to stay home from work today. My gut told me to stay. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I would feel if I came home to burned down home or dead pets, from smoke inhalation. Melted and fused possessions (precious few, I admit, but still mine).

My boss was none too happy that I decided to stay home. She essentially told me I was nuts to worry about it. She kept saying it wasn’t going to come and nothing was going to burn down. But I wouldn’t relent and I’m glad I didn’t. The winds have died down, which is good news. And it sounds as though a few of the fires have gotten a bit under control. Even the big cloud of smoke has dissipated. They say that the on shore winds should start tomorrow, which will throw moisture into the air and somehow help the firefighters fight the monstrous flames.

And I’m safe in my home with my pets and my things. Unlike 500,000 of my fellow Californians, many of whom who have lost everything except whatever they were able to take with them.

In view of all of this, the job doesn’t matter a damn. Nor does what my boss wants or whether or not she thinks I’m nuts to think or feel what I think and feel. Jobs can be replaced, so can bosses for that matter. In fact, I wouldn’t trade my job or job security for even one of my pets or my computer for that matter.

It’s times like these that you have to just stop and figure out what matters to you and then do your best to protect it. And so I am.

Thanks for all the well wishes. I am fine. I’m worried and frankly a bit scared, but okay, nonetheless. Keep praying for everyone else out there. There are millions of us and many of them need your prayers.


Anyone interested in helping here are a few links:

17 thoughts on “Mortality

  1. my prayers are with everyone there. it’s a terrible tragedy and i hope they can get it under control before anyone else loses anything. how horrible. stay safe sweetie

    Hey Reggie,
    I think we’re hanging in. I’ve heard some good news on the radio, several of the fires are starting to come under control and the winds aren’t as bad. If no new fires crop up and things keep going in their current direction, it should just end up being an enormous amount of damage – but stuff can get fixed, right?


  2. I hate fire season. I hate it hate it hate it. The smoke here as been horrific and we haven’t been able to reach an aunt that lives in the Escondido area and some of my family and friends have been evacuated out of my hometown (Rancho Cucamonga).

    Whoever said living in California is a constant dream never lived through fire season…

    Hey MS,
    I didn’t know you were out this way. I’ll send some prayers your family’s way. I hope they are okay and they can go on with life after this mess is over. Fire season does bite the big one. No doubt about it. Over here, the sunshine turned orange – at first I thought it was getting cloudy but it’s actually just smoke filling the air in great brown bunches. Weird.


  3. I’ve just been watching the fire on TV. Terrible. I once helped to fight a much smaller one in the UK, so I know how you feel.
    Yes, possessions and things you love are more important than jobs, but remember, you’re more important than the possessions.

    Hey Tony,
    Thanks, hon. No worries, I won’t give up my life for a computer.


  4. Hey girl,
    I am so glad you posted this. I just came home and checked my e-mail. Then I saw the half a million people evacuated and my first thought was you, then Smith who is visiting and then I thought that I just never really bothered enough to figure out where most other bloggers I know are from and whether they and their families are safe too.
    Bush has declared a federal emergency for certain counties but your boss cannot understand why you would be worried.

    I guess the only other questionable thing is that we often need ‘a burning platform’ to get our priorities straight.

    Be safe Annie.

    Hey Spaz,
    I don’t know where everybody lives either – don’t worry about it. We’re holding our own here and really other areas in are in real danger. So far, things have been okay. And no, the boss doesn’t understand my concerns, or she doesn’t care about them. But I do, so I guess that’s the determining factor, eh?

    Love ya


  5. Isn’t it truly amazing that when faced with adversity, one truly comes to terms with what it really important. Wealth, fame, “stuff” just don’t really matter. What we need is the love and friendships we develop as we walk through life and come in contact with beings just like us.

    Have you ever asked yourself what would happen if you lost everything? Do you have friends who would open their homes and hearts to you? Have we offered ourselves to those who might need us in such times?

    What are our priorities? A million dollar home on top of some arroyo in SoCal. Or the love, trust and friendship of human beings trying to get through life together?

    Hey Ham,
    You said it. Priorities do rise to the top when you really have to take a hard look at things and maybe even make those choices. And nah, stuff, jobs none of that matters – like you said, it’s the people, the kindred souls you are connected to who mean everything. I had to laugh though about the SoCal million dollar home comment, since these days a million dollar home is a 3 bedroom bungalow. Go figure. πŸ˜‰


  6. Fire season is the worst! With the Old Fire, we had to get our things together, important papers and photo albums and while i was searching around for what else to take i realized that that was all i needed. And really, i didn’t need those things as long as i had R. and the girls.

    Thankfully, we didn’t have to evac but i knew many people who lost their homes. i worked for the county at the time and the way folks came into the office- employees and clients- it was just sad. Because even though they are safe and realize what truly matters, they had just seen all their hard work go up in flames.

    wow, that must have been tough to deal with. It does kick your butt when this sort of thing happens – and I really feel for anybody who is going through hell right now.


  7. Everytime I see news of the fires in CA I think of you and pray you’re safe. You know that.
    The cats and stuff that’s intrinsically you must be preserved.
    Call me if the need arises.
    Not sure what I can do but I’ll be there for you.
    Prayers your way . . .

    Hey Mikey,
    We’re good so far. And the winds have died down and hopefully the temp goes down tomorrow. The firefighters have been awesome and a handle on many of the 16 fires – in fact, I think there may even be a couple that are now out. Phew!

    Prayers are good and yes, of course I know yours are with us. Thanks, hon.


  8. There truly is nothing like a crisis to get our priorities straight and our heads and hearts realigned. I’m glad to see, unlike your boss, that you have everything in the right place. Keep holding your own and know that we all stand behind you and are sending our love your way.

    My prayers are with all those unfortunate enough to have lost their homes and belongings. I truly hope they are being well taken care of.


    Hey Jennifer,
    People have been amazing, from all over the country help has been pouring in – and our displaced citizens have been well taken care of, as far as I can tell – although I heard they need toothbrushes, towels and toiletries in the San Diego area.

    We’re hanging in and I think the worst is over now. Thanks, hon.


  9. These types of situations do get you to think about things and contemplate life in new ways. I’m glad you pets have you as their owner. Some people don’t deserve to have pets. You, happily, are not one of those. πŸ™‚

    Oh my God, Teeni,
    I don’t know what I’d do without my two little pets. I know it sounds silly to some people but I really do treasure them. When I drove cross country to and from Florida, they were my only buds – and that horrid six months in Florida, my dog was the only one who could make me laugh. I’m so lucky to have them both, honestly.


  10. I thought about you the other day when I was watching the news. We had a similar situation on this side of the world this past summer. And I felt the same way…I was extremely nervous. One morning the smoke was so bad outside I had to put blankets over my doors and windows because we couldn’t breathe in our own home; it was seeping in. It was absolutely awful. And I for the first time, began to think about suffocation (I know really morbid) but when you can’t breathe anything but smoke…you think about things like that. The fires here weren’t nearly as devastating as the ones CA is experiencing right now. I, for one, am glad you stayed home Annie. I think you did the right thing and you’re right every job is replaceable. Living things are not. I will keep you in my prayers. Hugs, kim

    Hey Kim,
    Wow, I had no idea you guys had bad fires out that way last year. I can’t imagine having to stuff blankets around the doors to keep the smoke out – must have been horrid. The smoke still hangs in the air out here, but at least it’s lighter in color today and not as stinky. A few more days and hopefully it will be over.



  11. I took work in a place where calling in absent is seen as a huge sign of lack of fortitude. However, I do it for bad snowstorms and ice storms – company business be damned. I’m with you – my pets are more important than this job. Glad to hear that things are a bit better today, but sad for the people who’ve lost everything.

    You betcha! Screw the business, protect the pets! Things are better. Keep the prayers going though – it’s going to be a long, tough haul for some of my fellow Californians, even after it is over.



  12. Hi observantbystander,

    I used to work at a place like that. Back in the early 90s the Memphis area was hit by an ice storm that knocked out power to most of a 6 county area. Trees were down everywhere. There were several hundred car wrecks that morning. Of course, as our power was out, meaning my alarm clock didn’t go off, I didn’t find this out until the snapping tree branches woke me up around 9 and I got the battery powered radio on.

    Being an inquisitive type, I decided to check out the neighborhood on foot. All three of the roads leading to our home at that time were covered with 2-3 inches of solid ice, and, within half a mile of our house, all were blocked by very large fallen trees. The power and phone lines were down at several places.

    With thee phone out and being a conscientious employee, I hiked over a mile on the ice to find a working phone and called the office to tell them I wouldn’t be coming in that day. The middle manager who was manning the phones said, “I’m not telling you you don’t have to come in!” To which I described the local situation and said, “I CAN’T come in. I’m trapped!” This got me a stern lecture by my immediate superior once the roads were cleared and I could return to work.

    Of course, these days I could slice up one of the trees with my chainsaw and push the pieces out of the way with my tractor. Not that I would need to since I work at or near home. Still, I’d probably do it anyway so some cubical slave could make points with the boss πŸ™‚

    Hi WC,

    I was worrying about you this morning so I wrote a funny about the situation over there in case you need a chuckle. On the up side, if you do have to evacuate, which I hope you don’t, from what I’ve seen on the news there are several places that will keep you and your pets, and it sounds like the accommodations are exceptionally nice as such facilities go. One of them is teaching yoga classes and offering free massages, while another one has street performers and live bands. I’ve also heard that the food is plentiful and quite good. Now that I think about it, even if you don’t HAVE to evacuate, you might want to take a day or two off and do so anyway πŸ˜‰ Much good luck.

    the Grit

    Aw Grit,
    Ain’t you sweet? And you know, I went on over and read it and giggled and thought it was very entertaining – but when i went to comment your blog just wouldn’t let me. I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. 😦


  13. Hey woman . . good to see you doing well. I had worried about you, and the other bloggers from SoCal. Just glad to see you’re doing okay!!

    Hey Woman!
    Yeppers, doing much better – hope that’s true for all my other california buddies too.


  14. Please stay safe WC. My thoughts are with you and your friends.

    Hey Muse,
    Things are getting better and probably we’ll all be over the shell shock shortly. We’re doing okay.

    I’m probably going to take a couple days off and will be back by the weekend.

    Thanks everybody for all the prayers and well wishes.



  15. Hi WC,

    Glad you liked the post. Sorry about the comment problem. We, by which I mean I, just upgraded to WP 2.2.2 and it takes a little while for everything to get in step again. If it happens again drop me an email.

    the Grit

    Hey Grit,
    I’ll be by this weekend – if I have any troubles I’ll let you know – it could just be my karma of late. Long story. πŸ˜‰


  16. Glad to hear you stayed home, stayed safe and did some thinking. Our furry family are our family. I wouldn’t have left either. Wishing you all peace and love today.
    ~ RS ~

    Hey Roobs,
    Yeah, you have to just stand on what is important and let the other stuff lay in the dust.


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