Long ago in a faraway land called Key West, my sister Dottie and I got aboard an old schooner and sailed away. I was wearing a shirt made from a tablecloth. In those days (mid ’80’s) I had many such wardrobe oddities. It was a wild ride, but we held on tight and loved our outing. Just the two of us and the crew. Now, as then, I love boats and water. We both do.
Flash forward to 2020 the year of the Pandemic Bobcat Fire Smoky Conditions, and as of Friday night Big Earthquakes. The jolt came when I was sound asleep. It’s been at least a decade since I felt such a big earthquake. It wasn’t a roller or a gentle rumbler or a barely there shaker. Nope, it felt like a giant picked up Moss Cottage and dropped it. I was up in a second and under a door frame. Surprisingly nothing seemed to shift or fall. After a bit I was back in bed, back to sleep.
So about that smoke. It’s been smoky for the last couple of weeks since the Bobcat Fire began to burn in the Angeles National Forest. I live in Northeast LA close to Eaglerock and Pasadena. I am NOT in a foothill community, thus have not been in danger except from the suffocating smoke. I’ve stayed inside, kept the a/c on and suspended walking until the air quality moves from hazardous to unhealthy for sensitive groups.
In the last few days I have glimpsed blue skies which are even lovelier after the ashy gray conditions that persisted for so long. It seems like forests need to burn and it probably works out better if it happens more frequently than once every 30 or 60 or 80 years. Perhaps we can get back to controlled burns which native people did for centuries. I haven’t a clue what the right answer is, but with 33 million acres of forest land California is in need of some good land stewardship. Thanks to our fire crews working tirelessly around the clock some of the blazes are being contained.
There are certain houses on my walking route along the arroyo that are exceedingly lovely. This one, designed in 1917 by Louis DuPuget Millar, is an English Cotswold Revival. I am very fond of it and walk by often.
This was my vantage point during a ZOOM break one day last week. Couch collapse.
Much staring into space and porch sitting is required for virtual school. As I remarked to a fellow teacher a few weeks ago, it’s like trying to communicate with tin cans and tangled strings.
Okay kids ready?
Everyone get your tin can walkie talkies out!
Cut or tangle the strings. Your choice!
Put on your blindfolds.
Turn off the volume so you can’t hear a word I say.
Let’s all use our robot voices in the rare instances when communication is possible.
That’s just some days. Other days communication is easier. I’m rolling with it. It’s looking like we won’t get back into the classroom until after November at the earliest. Some districts in the state have already declared that the entire school year will be done virtually. Kids & teachers are learning how to do hard things, be resilient, figure things out. That’s not a bad thing.
I took cuttings of all my epiphylums this summer and had my gardener lift the heavy pots and dump them in the green waste can. Then I added fresh potting soil and stuck my cuttings in the pots. Now they’re busy growing new roots. I was getting fewer blooms each year and the leaves weren’t looking so good. It’s amazing how fast the leaf cuttings root!
In the last few days the air quality has gotten so much better as the Bobcat fire has surged north into the back country. I left the house yesterday morning before sunrise and drove to a favorite beach just over the Santa Barbara county line.
The salt spray, fresh sea air, and wet sand were like a benediction.
How good to be alive and present at this place.
Anemones and turban snails rested in the cool pools between the rocks.
Afterwards, I climbed back up the hill and sat on a bench under a tree. It was marvelous to drink in the cool air and watch the seabirds.
Were you aware of the healing properties of cold watermelon eaten outside on a porch?
Here I am in my virtual classroom waiting for the kiddies to show up. Attendence is good. Despite the curveball the pandemic has thrown all of us I’m learning how to do some really cool things online that I’ll continue once we’re back in the real classroom. Things I’d been meaning to do for years, but couldn’t find the time to figure out. Now it seems we all have plenty of time.
I’ve enjoyed these series on PBS via Amazon Prime recently:
My taste in “television” is very predictable. Some would say boring, but it suits me perfectly.
My dispatches have grown few and far between, but I’m still here. Keep me posted on your own big or small adventures.