Friday, October 26, 2007

Evacuation Day 6.

Well, as of yesterday evening, we are allowed to go home. We are allowed to go home because we Ramonans are a feisty people. There is no electricity and no water. The earliest we will have these services is Sunday. But, that doesn't stop a Ramonan.

There's a reason we live out there in the country. Many have wells and generators. They'll be fine. The rest of us are adaptable; we just want to check on animals and plants left behind. Many of us have livestock and crops or large gardens. Not everyone had time to take care of all living things before the fire swept through.

And, the sooner we start clean up, the better.

There's nothing like your own bed.

So, we will depart our OC cage, hit Sam's Club and Costco locally as to conserve San Diego county resources - we're shopping for the neighbors as well as ourselves - and then we will make the trek back through burned hills and homes to our home. Our lucky, still-standing home.

And I will use some of our precious bottled water to water my garden and herbs. And I will turn the kitty loose and let him run around and play and get all dirty. Yes, he will track ash in the house, but he's been cooped up in a hotel room for six days; he's entitled. And, we will join in an effort with our neighbors to clean up and restore our neighborhood and yards with tractors and shovels and plenty of sweat. There is rice, canned soup, and sandwiches in our futures. There is beer and sitting around the bonfire at night sharing stories, too.

And I still wouldn't live anywhere else.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Evacuation Update.

Here we are, day 5 of evacuation. We're still keeping touch with the neighbors and coworkers, but we are still not allowed to return to our house in Ramona.

The kitty is getting restless. He's torn up the toilet paper roll and laundry bag and he's knocking things off of tables. Poor guy is used to having the whole neighborhood to roam and now he's confined to about 300 sq ft.

We spend our day searching for San Diego news in Orange County. Luckily, we are able to get the San Diego AM news station. We also continue to network with friends and neighbors. We're also making plans on what to do before we're allowed to return to our home - like buy a generator, water, and groceries for the neighbors who stayed. And, we're planning the clean up effort. All of the neighbors are going to chip in and we will get everyone's yards cleaned out and plants trimmed or taken out as necessary. Then, there's the house. Will the carpet ever be the same? Have to worry about that later.

Keep the good energy coming.
We are ok. We've been evacuated ... twice ... but all is well with us, our kitty, and remarkably, our house.

Around 1 PM on Sunday I got a squawk on the ham radio that there was a fire about 10 miles east of us. The winds were blowing furiously ... from the east, which was of concern. I called Martin, who was working down in Rancho Berardo, and asked him to consider coming home early.

The fire seemed like no biggie, but I assembled various things in the remote case of evacuation and helped the club monitor the scanners and pass along informaiton. I started working with Jim, our crack scanner guru, and relayed information to the Ramona CERT team who was manning the evac point at the high school.

By 2 PM it was clear that this was not going to be a small incident, but it seemed manageable. We busied ourselves for the next few hours assembling things to evacuate, if necessary, and networking with the neighbors.

My radio died around 6:30 so I lost contact with the club, but that soon came less of a concern. Around 7 PM our neighbor Brett called and told us to look at the hill in front of our house. It was glowing red. We started loading the truck. Good thing, because we got the reverse 9-1-1 call to stand by for evacuation.

No official call was necessary; about 15 minutes later, when I was putting something in the truck, I saw flames coming over that hill. You'd be surprised how fast you can move and how much energy you have when adrenaline kicks in. Just as we got everything packed and the kitty loaded, our neighbor Jesse from next door called us from his cell phone. His dad was still at the house and so was his dog, and neither could get out. so, we bee-lined over there and threw them both in the truck on top of our stuff and headed out. The poor guy barely speaks English and had no idea what was going on.

Luckily, we got him to his son Jesse and they managed to hole up there in Ramona in their mobile home. We headed down the hill with many others and went to the first evacuation point in Poway. We realized that there were people who needed those facilities more than we did, so we decided to get a hotel room near work in Rancho Bernardo.

Step 1. Sneak in the kitty. Step 2. Sneak in the litter box. Step 3. Acquire sustainance.

As we watched the news, we realized that, soon after we left the house the fire swept through our neighborhood. It was already well into the town of Ramona less than an hour after we had left. We watched the news until about 12:30 AM.

Step 4. Pass out asleep from exhaustion.

Around 4 AM I awoke. Busy brain kicked in and made me wake up. For once, I was grateful for my insomnia, because when I turned on the news, I saw that the fire had crept over the mountain range and was now just a few miles from the hotel. Martin woke up, too, and we decided to not risk staying and packed up once again.

The freeway next to us was closed; the fire had jumped the freeway just a few miles north of us, so we had to head south, which we did until we got to Ted Williams Pkwy where we cut over to the west and then headed north on the 5.

Our luck was really with us, for not half an hour after we left, they evacuated that area and many of the houses surrounding the hotel burned to the ground. We left just in the nic of time.

So, northbound we headed, keeping in touch with friends and neighbors the entire time, networking, and sharing news. Many of us live in burn areas.

By some stroke of luck, I was chosen to go to the Women's Conference in Long Beach this week so I had booked a hotel in Irvine for Monday and Tuesday night. We called the hotel, explained the situation, and asked if we could check in early. Kudos to the Crowne Plaza; it was no trouble at all. We arrived just after 7 AM on three hours of sleep.

Step 1. Sneak in the kitty. Step 2. Sneak in the litter box. Step 3. Acquire supplies for the duration.

Around 8:30 AM we were heading out for supplies when we got a call from Jesse, the brave neighbor who stayed in Ramona. Some miraculous how, our neighborhood was skipped by the raging fire. Less than quarter of a mile to the north, east, and south of us was burned. Having previously steeled myself for anything, I wept at the news. We got our supplies and headed back to the hotel.

Step 4. Pass out asleep from exhaustion and relief.

We awoke around 2:30 PM and started networking again. Friends, neighbors, coworkers. We're all in contact and sharing infomation. Kudos to the cell phone companies for keeping the networks up and running! It's been a blessing.

So, here we are, temporarily, in Orange County. I'm going to go to my women's gig tomorrow (Martin calls it Hen Fest ... hee hee) and we're going to just hole up here and pray for those less fortunate and be thankful for our good fortune. The kitty is a good traveller, uses his litterbox (earlier disguised as a file-carrier) and entertains us with his fascination of the inane. Who knew curtains could be such a great form of entertainment?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

This is just terrible. My cat is cheating on me.

As if I didn't have enough self-esteem issues.

The other night M and I were laying in bed. He rolls over and tells me that he really likes the perfume I'm wearing. I told him I'm not wearing any. He's a faithful guy, but I still had to tease him that the perfume was coming from his collar and where had he been and all. We laughed.

It took us a minute to figure out where the flowery aroma was coming from. Turns out Scar, our roving male cat, who is usually shy and skittish around people, had just jumped up in the window above our bed. The perfume we smelled was wafting off his fur and into the bedroom on the cool breeze. He, apparently, has been spending his evenings with another woman.

Males. Sheesh!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ok. I'm losing perspective, so it's time to journal.

I'm sitting in this cube, and I've been here for eight hours already, nine if you don't count lunch, and I just can't get my brain wrapped around this mundane boring crap I have to do. Hanging above me is all of the other crap I have to do, which may be more exciting but it's lower on the priority list. And I'm tired. I'm freaking tired. I'm trying to get used to this new schedule. I work 9 hours a day and then I take class two night a week for two hours, which puts me home around 9:30 PM. I have about 2 hours between the end of work and class, so I'm trying to plan some physical things to do between then. Don't know how that's going to work out, though. After class on Monday I had so much homework that I had to finish it at the library before class on Wednesday.

I need somebody to delegate some tasks to, but my team is swamped as it is, and I have no budget for an additional person. I don't know what to do, because I can't work tons of overtime.

Nope, I'm not done whining, yet.

My kitty Diego is still missing. It's been over a week, now, and no sign of him. I have all of the neighbors on alert, but nobody has seen him. I'm so heartbroken. I've been to the animal shelter several times. I always cry when I go there. one, because my kitty isn't there and two, i want to take every animal home.

My sweetie is in Arizona with family because his sister just had surgery and his aunt is in the hospital. He won't be back until Sunday, which means I have to suck it up and keep things together.

And, my mom is still grieving and dwelling over my brother's death and the fact that she wasn't able to get there in time for the funeral. OMG, there are so many factors here that are royally jacked up, and she's got things way out of perspective. Normally, I would run out to see her and try to bring her back around to reality, but I really need some downtime this weekend. I mean *really*.

I'm feeling overwhelmed, but not hopeless. That's bad and good. Overwhelmed is ok, but I have a handle on it and I know it won't last forever. I still hate to ask for help, but I know that I can't do it all alone, so I suck it up and ask. I just wish I had better people skills so that the things I say come out as I mean them to be and not how they sound.

And on that note, I need to pull it together for one more hour. And then, home. And my kitty Scar. And homework. And maybe some dinner.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Flying Hampered
I'm on day 7 of working on the borrowed department laptop at work. My computer is Tango-Uniform at the moment. Some printer driver that IT told me to install starting causing all of my Microsoft programs to crash. Yeah, that was a lot of fun. So, they came and took my desktop away and left me with ol Wheezy here. We are doing the best we can.

It was tolerable for a while. This old Toshiba T30 and I have been pounding things out for six days ... but today things are getting kinda sucky. With this thing you have to be careful where your hands are at all times because the touchpad is hella sensitive. Several times today I've pasted things into the wrong cell just because my thumb decided to rest - on the touchpad. No mouse, either. My productivity has decresed by at least a third. I got spoiled with my two-monitor setup. sheesh.

Did I mention that I have about 50 things to do before the end of the month, and a product build to do as well?

This is one more occasion to be proud of myself. Instead of getting all wiggy about this, I've chosen the Zen approach, and I'm just doing the best with what I have. I've not gone off on anyone, I've not torn off anyone's head. In fact, I've been sweet at apple pie to the IT guy, who really is doing his best. I've bitten my tongue about his terrible troubleshooting skills. I've even not mentioned the fact that two people with identical problems had their computers fixed in 3 days. No, I've been very, very tolerant.

Before recovery, I would be nasty to the IT guy, yell, cuss, and bitch ... and things would not have been done any faster.

So, yay for me. But, I'm really getting tired of this laptop.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Musings of Lionflower
Sunday Scribbling for 20070715 - Hair

Strands of a midlife crisis,
A teen's palette,
A woman's shining glory, said Betty Smith.
Plaits, bobs, pompadours,
or falling like tears after radiation therapy.
Part of human identity.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I'm very proud of myself. I have handled the visit from my customer without getting too stressed out. I even helped coordinate a huge event that occurred right in the middle of my two-week customer meeting, and I managed to get through it all without outbursts of anger or frustration. This week is, by far, more challenging than last week, but I don't feel like I'm in it alone, and I don't feel overwhelmed. This shows me that I've grown a lot over the last year.

During last years week-long customer meeting I was a complete basket case at home and at work my frustration certainly showed through. That meeting wasn't as tough as this one.

Other things are going on, too. I have to take a guy to small claims court because he rear ended me on the freeway and the damage is less than my deductible, so my insurance won't pay it. I also have to deal with an issue concerning my son. Minor, but it adds to the pile.

Previously, all of these things would have overwhelmed me.

So, today, June 26th, 2007, I celebrate my personal growth.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

All in a day's ... play?
I put in 9 hours at work yesterday. That's standard for a week day for me... except Fridays. We normally work only half a day on Friday.

I find myself with a little more free time these days since school is over for the summer and my product has been delivered to the customer.

Even though there's nothing to rush about anymore, my momentum does not seem to have slowed. For example, last night I made a delicious, low-fat dinner with homemade rolls (the dough was made beforehand I just let the dough raise while I ...), participated in a disaster preparedness drill with my Ham radio club, and cooked up and canned a batch of white peach preserves.

This is not typical, but I find that at least a couple of days a week I enjoy being super-busy.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

My 3/4 Cup Rant

Probably the most popular things for Americans to bake are chocolate chip cookies. What kid doesn't remember standing on the stool in the kitchen, helping Mom or Dad measure out ingredients for the cookies?

Every chocolate chip cookie recipe is pretty much the same: 1 cup softened butter, 2 tsp vanilla, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, etc.

I distinctly remember scooping in that 3/4 cup measure in to the brown sugar bag and then pressing down with my little fist just as hard as I could. It was satisfying to watch that big molded lump of sugar plop out of the measuring cup and into the bowl. It was a little like making a sweet, sweet sand castle in a moat of creamy butter.

Since becoming an adult and settling down, I've had to stock my kitchen with all of the essentials for cookie making. For the last ten years, I've been looking for a 3/4 cup measure. I've looked in specialty kitchen stores, I've looked in K-mart. I've even looked at import stores. The packets of measuring cups for sale all have 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1 cup. Nobody makes a 3/4 cup measure anymore - probably the most commonly used measure in America! So, now instead of making one big, sweet, brown sugar sand castle, I have to make 3 puny little towers that wouldn't defend a single chocolate chip from anyone!

It's just not right!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dear Oil Companies,

Just for the record, the early time change has no impact on oil refining capability. I'm sorry you think the American people are stupid enough to swallow that.

I heard a spokeswoman for the oil companies on NPR yesterday morning. She said that one of the reason oil prices are rising is that the time change caused spring to come 3 week early this year, and this caused the refineries to have to go to summer blend earlier than expected.

Helloooo! The time change has nothing to do with the weather or the first day of spring. This was the LAMEST excuse I ever heard! Ok, in fairness, it was one of three reasons she gave, but just having it listed as a reason was stupid. Stupid Stupid Stupid.

My next car will be an electric car and I will charge it using the solar panels mounted on the roof of my house!!! So mote it be!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Civilian Reserve Corps (volunteer)

I'm sure mine were not the only ears that perked up during the 2007 State of the Union address by President Bush when he mentioned the volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. <http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/01/20070123-2.html>

Many are curious about this newly-funded corps, especially those in the military service or who have served. But, the media is not covering the Civilian Reserve Corps, yet, and I'm not able to find much on government Web sites about it. I've searched both the House and the Senate Web sites for information about the CRC, but only regurgitations of President Bush's statement in the State of the Union Address are there. (http://www.house.gov/, http://www.senate.gov/)

Here's my twisted take on it.

Fact: Many things the military does for itself, or hires contractors to do, can be done inexpensively with a civilian force, i.e., cook meals, wash laundry, transport fuel and supplies.

Fact: Our military is spread way too thin, and it's going to get thinner. We are likely to engage in additional military ventures in the next few years since we have poked a hole in the Middle Eastern dam.

Fact: We're going to need many, many more people to support the War on Terror effort, and the young are not stupid enough to enlist. For every soldier in the field, there are several who have to support him: the people who manage his paycheck, the people who feed him, the people who arm him, and the people who clothe him. The number increases exponentially with the number of new combatants. As a result of this huge increase in effort, the government is going to have to reinstate the draft.

Yes, they're going to have to reinstate the draft, and they're going to have to include women. It's that whole equality thing, remember? I think the Civilian Reserve Corps is going to lose the "volunteer" descriptor and it will be an option of service for people who are drafted. I have a feeling that the jobs this corps does will be in a support capacity.

As Mr. Bush said in the State of the Union, "Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time."

I foresee this Civilian Reserve Corps being used for draftees who either cannot pass the physical tests for military service or who object to the war (whichever one we happen to be in at the time). I don't think America is ready, yet, to draft women into the military, and I think that this CRC is going to be the way the government gets around it. They've been working on this Civilian Reserve Corps since at least June 2006, and are investing $75 million to start it up. Here's a link to the STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY from the Executive Office of the President: <http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/legislative/sap/109-2/hr5522sap-h.pdf>

Personally, I think we should be headed in the other direction. In a peaceful direction. Where have all the hippies gone?

Monday, January 08, 2007

College.

I'm terribly uninformed when it comes to the whole college thing. I'm on a track, now, that I know I can finish, and I'm about half way through my core business requirements - and maintaining a B average while working full time +, which I think is pretty good. Still, I was worried that when it came time to transfer to the big university that I would have to find a way to fit college into my life around work. I was worried that there would only be day classes and I would have to take a break in the middle of the work day to attend them. This has been my experience in the past with other degrees I've wanted.

Thankfully, colleges are a lot smarter these days. I just checked out the schedule for some of the classes I'll be taking when I transfer to the U, and all of them have classes that start after 5 PM. I am *so* happy about this! I won't have to sacrifice my good standing at work for the degree I want so badly. Life is good. One less obstacle.

Trying to keep the faith.
San