Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I've always wanted to head to Mexico, or other southern countries to see the decorated graves and join in the festivities.

This reminds me of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico--a whole room of collections--some garish, some primitive, some from Mexico and other South American countries, other collections from around the world. Of course, there's no picture taking allowed, but the memory of the organized chaos of the juxtaposed creatures and creations is still vivid.
Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What a week we've had!

Here's the sandstorm that buried cars and was in a town about 20 miles from us: San Jacinto. It was taken by Rodrigo Pena of the AP wireservices and ran in our local paper. I also found that that the name of the winds "Santa Ana" used to be called "Santanas," or Devil Winds. I like that one much better.

This was the view out my study window as I graded papers--the heavy glaze of smoke colored the sun, giving an orange cast to the shadows on the floor (below).

Sun sets--orangey-red.
Moon rises: blood orange color.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Although this morning was campfire-scented, by noon, when I left for my haircut, the air was free of smoke smell. The winds, shown above (a rendition of the area from this morning), have died down. I watered my new flowers and came inside and opened the windows.

Now, this evening, my chest is tight and the inhaler doesn't seem to help much. I go around closing windows, the heat in the house higher than what should it be in October, if you ask me.

But no wind is good for getting a handle on these blazes, the numbers finally moving off their "0% containment" status on the news charts. I've become a news junkie, hearing about Marie Osmond's fall (blamed partly on the air quality, partly on her divorce from her husband of 20 years), Eric Clapton's autobiography, and Halle Berry's car seat for her new baby. I'm impatient with this trivia--I want fire news!

So, here in SoCal, we offer up prayers for tired firefighters. I work in the building that trains these people. They were gone on Tuesday, "doing ventilation over at Norton Air Force Base" said Sue, the fire department secretary. Tomorrow's a day when I should normally see them, these neat-as-a-pin cadets that hold open building doors and say "Mam, yes Mam!" but school's canceled until Monday. We're hoping not to have to reprise the ceremony of last year, the black-booted cadets marching in cadence out to the flagpole, drawing it down to half mast as Sue placed five pots of mums around the base, one for each fallen firefighter in the Esperanza blaze, the sound of these young men's boots like a dirge as they silently retreated.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Southern California Fires

This map, from the LATimes website does show the fires, but what it can't show is the air that smells like a smoky campfire--that's in my garage, by my college, everywhere. We usually open our windows at night, but now they're closed.

Where I am, I'm slightly protected from the downwind surge of smoke from the Lake Arrowhead fires. But as I turned onto I-215 this morning, heading north to my turn-off on I-10 and school, my eyes started to sting, even thought I had the AC in the car turned on to recirculate.

I see three ladies walk in the morning, one has a tracheotomy. She turned back today because even at 6:15 a.m. the smoke permeated the air.

I dusted on Saturday. That was a waste, as the dust and dirt from the Santa Ana winds have coated everything with a fine misting of grit--the bathroom counters, the top of the phones, the letter I left in the hallway to mail--all feel like they have a coating of very fine-grade sandpaper. I'm luckier than the people about 20 miles from here. Some lost their cars to drifts of sand, and it filtered into their homes, seeping into carpets, leaving piles on windowsills, smothering flowerbeds.

The ash snowed down as I carefully drove next to Santiago Canyon on Sunday night, the ash combining with blowing pebbles and dirt. Winds gusting to 80 mph can push a car, or an RV, into the next lane. All the drivers staggered their positions as we slowly drove through the winds, the sky next to me gray, then dusty brown, then magenta and lastly orange, the flames licking over the edge of the mountain ridges to my right. A motorcyclist was far to the right shoulder, nearly hugging the outcrop of earth and chaparral.

They say the flames are at the mercy of the winds, the winds at the mercy of high pressure system over the great basin which should start to break up tomorrow. I'll be inside grading papers out of the smoke. Two of my students wrote to say they'd been evacuated--the classes had more absentees than normal. I even got a parking place near the building--a rare event. As I drove out tonight from Yucaipa, I could see huge clouds reaching high into the sky--I assume the smoke from the southern Witch Creek/McCoy fires. I wanted to linger and watch, but I hurried home instead, drawing my house around me.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Wednesday had been a day to recognize changes were needed in the layout of my life. The advice being given fit like a glove.

I was out that night for a church meeting (Enrichment) and noticed on the way home that the "C" on our mountain, for UCR, was all lit up. I've lived here nearly 18 years and hadn't ever seen that. I took several shots from the neighborhood below.

C? Cool? Crunch? Collapse? Confusion? I was trying on lots of alliterative combinations but none seemed to indicate what I was feeling, until while walking this morning, that old cliche flashed into my mind.

Nothing is Constant, but Change.

Of course.
Pumpkin Patch Visit, October 2007

The stems this year are strong dark stokes in a field of orange.

The Jarrahdale is my favorite--a bluey gray. One came home with me, along with a small Lumina (white), a Cinderella (my favorite), and a sugar (pie) pumpkin, very small.

Love the names--and the descriptions.

Gourds--they look like stones, but are as light as air.

I like this "patch" because there's no stooping over. They pick them all, wash them and put them on tables. One family plunked their dressed-up little girls in the middle of one of these tables for photos.

Intriguing skin on this one, although I don't know its name.

When I told Sue, the fire secretary, about my visit (I went in between my classes), she said they'd sold out to Target. She said: "One more year and they're. . . " Then she made the slashing gesture across her throat. She's full-blooded Indian with bright red hair and takes no prisoners. She's a favorite of mine.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I went for an eye exam today, sat down at the machines and was tortured until my eyeballs said enough. My doctor has a new measuring device. They attach an exotic white plastic outer frame to the frames you've chosen in order to get a measurement of your gaze, or something.

I felt like Dame Edna. It takes a picture of you all dolled up in these exotic frames. With enough of these photos, the doctor could retire on blackmail money alone, if he desired.
August 2007 Trip (Backtrack, part III)
After hanging out with the Eastmonds, we slid up Heber Valley and had a reunion with the Sessions. As always, I regret not taking enough photographs. Here is a random (and all too brief) assortment of shots.

My grandson Alex enjoys the corn from the area.

My sister and her family.

Go Utes! (my son and his wife and boys: Chad, Kristen, Andrew and Alex)

My brother Andrew gives his nephew Hyrum, some batting tips.

Andrew and Jade make a great mess.

John and Rebecca Lippincott--the second newly-est weds. Alice and Jared were the most newly-est weds.

We watched the hot air balloons go up, then land, as the earlier storm (and it was spectacular) made the air unstable.

My sister and her family (and some of their family).

Future Big Leaguer.

"But I wanted to get that one, Dad!"

Andrew's sad because his mother's up at bat.

A tradition: all the cousins lined up together. These are with their spouses and kids.

Candid shot: while waiting for the family to jell for the group photo.

Melinda with her daughter Grace, and cousin Hyrum.

Refs at the table.

This weekend was balloon weekend. Saturday morning they got them up and going.

Time to go home.