My Grandpa used to live in Yarnell, AZ. It’s one of those tiny towns no one has ever heard of. Even most people from Arizona had never heard of it before today. Now that 19 firefighters have died fighting a wildfire there, I guess everyone will know where it is. Or was, probably, by the time the fire is done. I have a few friends that are firefighters, and they all seem just so shocked and saddened by the loss - to lose so many all at once is just too much to process right now. Especially knowing that the fire is not anywhere close to being out. My Facebook feed is full of shout outs to the fallen, and it’s all just so sad and scary to think about.
Grandpa loved Yarnell. He liked that it was off the beaten path. He had a big chunk of land that he filled with fruit trees and vegetable gardens. He had a couple of horses, a bunch of chickens, and some incredibly grouchy geese that used to chase us around when we were kids. It was a fun place to visit. We dragged him kicking and screaming from the house a few years ago when it got to be too much for him to take care of and he was too stubborn to admit that we were right. He passed away last summer, and I’m glad that he wasn’t around to see the place burn down. I’ve been looking at the maps all morning, and I just don’t think there’s any way that his house is still there. It looks like it would have been right in the path of the fire. I suppose we won’t know for sure until the fire is contained and the maps get more accurate. I suppose it doesn’t really matter. It wasn’t his house anymore anyway.
The news has been telling the story of a guy with three classic cars in Yarnell. He only had time to hitch one of them to a trailer before the fire was so close that they had to drive through thick smoke to safety. They could feel the heat of the fire as they drove away, knowing that everything they left behind was going up in flames. They’re lucky - a few more minutes and they likely would not have made it out.
Now I sit here in my new house that sits a few houses away from the edge of a desert preserve and think that, well, maybe this isn’t the best spot to be during fire season. We had a lot of rain this spring, so there’s a lot of vegetation out there - more than usual - and it’s just dying out as it gets hotter and hotter. (It hit 120 in the shade at my house on Friday.) So then I look around and think about what I would grab if there was a fire out there. There’s only one road out, so I’d have to act fast, or we could easily be surrounded by a blaze. The dogs of course - they’d sit in the back seat and watch while I shoved stuff into the trunk. I’d take our computers - especially now that we have so many family photos stored on the hard drives. Some important papers - passports, birth certificates, and such. But then what? My box of letters from my Grandma from when I was a kid? Clothes? The laundry basket would probably be the most efficient - assuming I hadn’t done laundry recently, it would be sure to have our favorite clothes in it. What else? What fits in a car that can’t be replaced?
What would you grab if you had only minutes to pack up your life before you had to get the heck out of dodge?
I don’t know about you, but it makes me mad when something that is so well supported by the public doesn’t happen in Congress, and I’m guessing that I’m not the only one who feels that way.
So, if you live in AZ (like I do) and you wanted that background check bill to pass, not so that guns would be illegal, but just so that people would have to be more responsible about buying and selling them, then write to Senator Jeff Flake, who voted against it, and tell him how disappointed you are. I’ll even make it easy for you. Just click this link: http://www.flake.senate.gov/contact.cfm, fill out the form and click send. That’s it! (If, on the other hand, you’re happy it failed, I suppose you could write him and thank him. More power to you.)
For the record, McCain voted for the bill. So there’s that…and for my friends in WA, MA, and CA - rest easy, your Senators voted to support it.
Not sure how your Senator voted? Check this handy dandy little list out:
Mad about how they voted? Write to them! If you don’t participate in the process, you have no right to complain about it.
If you hate DST as much as I do, go sign the petition. Who knows? Maybe it’ll work!
I’ve been going on walkabout in the desert with my dogs a lot lately…trying to take advantage of the nice weather before summer hits and I pretend that there isn’t a desert at the end of my street for a few months. I try to remember to take pictures of the cool stuff I see - even if it is just with my iPhone’s camera.
So, here are some of my favorites from the past few days. (Picture of my dog thrown in there so you get a sense of scale for how giant these Saguaros are!)
Don’t ask Joy any questions.
The past couple days in Seattle have been amazing and, at the same time, hard.
You see, I am so very lucky because I have an amazing group of friends who, even when we haven’t seen each other for over a year, it feels like no time has passed. We fall right back into the rhythm of our friendships and conversation. It’s just so easy.
This time the topics have been a bit heavier than usual - because some conversations are just too hard to have over the phone and some things are inappropriate to share via email.
So there have been some tears and sadness mixed in with the usual laughter. A friend has died, a few lost beloved pets, and oh yeah, I lost a baby. Jobs have changed and people have moved away and couples have broken up and others are engaged and someone’s four year old is apparently a truly horrible child to be around.
Oh, and there has also been really delicious food and beer. So there’s that. I have three more days here. They’ll probably go by way too fast.
The airport is packed. A sea of humanity and all that.
Oh, and a last minute gate change to the other side of the terminal. Lovely.
Researchers from the Netherlands set out to measure the effect that vacations have on overall happiness and how long it lasts. The study showed that the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation. In the study, the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks. After the vacation, happiness quickly dropped back to baseline levels for most people.
I think this means that I need to start talking about my trip to the beach house in Mexico in April as soon as I get back from Seattle on Monday… So, you know, you have that to look forward to…
Somehow I have five different training sessions scheduled this week - all in the 2 days I’m working before leaving for Seattle. I can’t decide if this is going to make my week longer or shorter…
So, for those of you who don’t know this, twice upon a time, I lived in Seattle, and I absolutely loved it there. The first time, I moved there to go to grad school. I fell in love with the city from the moment I saw it. (The fireworks going off around the Space Needle as I pulled into town for the first time on the 4th of July might have helped a bit.)
Then I left for Honolulu because, well, when you have an opportunity to move to Hawaii, you take it. A few years (and a chunk of time in Boston and Barcelona) later, I had the opportunity to move back and I jumped at the chance.
Three years later, I foolishly left again, this time for Santa Monica. Now I live in Phoenix (sigh) and I so wish that I could move back, but it’s just not in the cards at the moment (sometimes I hate being a grown up so much!)
But! Thursday morning I get to fly to Seattle for the weekend, and I am just SO very excited! I need some Manny’s Pale Ale, some delicious foods that don’t seem to exist in the desert, and some time with my Seattle peeps like whoa.
So I guess what I’m asking is… is it Thursday yet?
I’m not a religious person and I’ve never believed in heaven or hell. But there is a hell on Earth. Hell is sitting next to the person you love most and listening to her wail hysterically because her heart just broke into a million pieces. Hell is watching her entire body convulse with sobs because she’s being tortured with grief. For as long as I live and no matter how many children we have, I will never forget that sound. And I vowed to do everything in my power to make sure she’d never make it again.
Across a crowded street, two people with “God Is Pro-Life!” signs and pictures of torn-up fetuses managed to drive the blade in even deeper. Again, I was left trying to console the inconsolable, feeling even more helpless this time, because I wasn’t allowed into surgery with her.
Running on pure adrenaline, and without even a hint of a plan, I grabbed my cell phone and crossed the street. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it, I just knew I wanted to make public the cowardice of these protesters.
This. This is what I should have done. Or maybe it’s what I should do someday?
Should I ever utter the phrases ‘I think I’ll paint stripes’ and ‘on the ceiling’ in the same sentence again, you have my permission to smack me.