The year is shifting.  The last couple of months I’ve been focusing much of my time on woodworking projects and have been largely ignoring my writing.  Heather and I have also been doing a little extra traveling.  It’s great to get away, but does take time from other projects.

This weekend I had hoped to be finishing up a bookcase for my desk, but the smoke from the fire in Paradise has kept us mostly indoors.  The bad air has really been affecting me more than I expected  – sore throat, irritated eyes, headache.  Forecasters are saying we’ll get relief around Tuesday, with some rain on Wednesday.

Rain would be welcomed to help clean the air and wet the forests here.  It would end the fire in Paradise.

But it also brings problems for the survivors.    Rain will turn the ash to mud and complicate or end the search for the dead and missing. Rain will delay the lifting of evacuation orders. Many survivors are still in shelters or in tents.  None has been allowed back into the fire area and it could be weeks before FEMA can get them trailers or any kind of temporary housing.

Housings is a big problem here in California.  In the Paradise area there was little vacant housings as the nearby construction project on the spillways at the Oroville Dam had brought in hundreds (a thousand at its peak) of workers who were renting every kind a housing or hotel room in the area.  The is no extra housing for the victims after the loss of nearly 12,000 structures.

Many people have friends and family they can go to, but there are many, many who don’t and are camped in the Walmart parking lot in a tent given to them by a kind stranger.  Paradise is forecast to get five inches of rain and the Walmart campers have been told they need to move on.

We’ve sent our donation for relief and say our prayers as the seasons shift.  From the warm summer to the cold winter.  We’re being driven indoors and what we do changes.

I’ve spent time in front of this computer writing.  There are a lot of writing projects on my desk and this weekend I am focusing on writing about our river trip last summer.  I’ve also worked a bit on a poem and a short story.

I look at the weather maps and wait for relief from the smoke and wonder what price the evacuees in Paradise will pay for my clear air.

How do you write about that?



About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I work in the high tech world doing software release engineering Then I got prostate cancer Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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38 Responses to Shifting

  1. George says:

    Sometimes there are no words. Be safe, Andrew,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Debra says:

    My son and daughter-in-law brought their 1-year old son and stayed with us for a week, getting out of the Bay Area where they were beginning to suffer terrible headaches. Even staying indoors as much as possible they arrived with such congestion that it really concerned me. I still cannot fathom how so many people are going to be forced to establish entirely new lives quite literally from the ground up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did think about leaving town. The filter masks were working for me mostly, but I was starting to suffer the last couple of days. I’ll bet that only about half the people will rebuild. Only ones with good insurance or ability to get the FEMA grants/loans. Many of the elderly in the area are likely to be forced to leave town or even the state to live with relatives. I doubt Paradise will ever fully recover.


  3. So rough. Still, I’m glad the fires are over. The sooner they end, the sooner the next problem can begin, but then the sooner it will eventually end too. Lord, have mercy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 100% Containment was officially announced today. Any rebuilding won’t start for months – at least until the winter snows are gone. I did see where they are going to consolidate the shelters and have opened a second FEMA/state run recovery center so folks can get the FEMA grants and insurance money.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. inesephoto says:

    Difficult to write, difficult to think. It is so surreal that a whole town is gone from the map. My heart hurts when I imagine the horror. Grieving with California.
    Hope the air clears up soon and you will feel better. This summer was tough for those who live close to the fires.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Today will be the third day of rain. Cleaned the air, and is helping to put out the last of the fires. Sadly, it also means the start of winter and a lot now homeless folks have to deal with rain, snow and mud.

      Liked by 1 person

      • inesephoto says:

        Such a tragedy. I hope they get help before the weather turns wintry.

        Liked by 1 person

        • There are shelters setup and many have moved in with family or friends. The homes that have been lost will take years to rebuild, if they’re ever rebuilt. A large number of people will end up moving out of state.

          Liked by 1 person

        • inesephoto says:

          Yes, at least to get a shelter to stay for a couple of weeks until they decide what they want to do, and sort out the legal stuff. Shelter, some sustenance and counselling until something is clear about their future. People are in shock, some of them are still looking for their family members.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. CJ Hartwell says:

    We were talking about the fires at work yesterday, both the devastation of losing a home and all the people dealing with bad air conditions. Not sure how much it helps to hear, but there are many prayers being offered.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There are certain things words cannot express. I can’t begin to understand the horrors the people of Paradise must be enduring, but I wish them the relief they deserve

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Baydreamer says:

    Good question, but I think you did a fine job. Saying prayers and sending in donations is what we’ve done also and really all we can do. Watching the news is like watching a movie, so unreal, and yet, very real. It’s all so heartbreaking and mind-boggling as to what they have gone through and what happens next. Fleeing the flames while driving on a road with minimal visibility, while also feeling the heat from the fire looks like hell on earth. I pray the list of missing people continues to drop as they are accounted for. And the need for rain is like a double-edged sword…to put out the fire, but where do all those people go who are now living in tents? I don’t even know what else to say anymore. I just keep praying for their comfort and healing.
    It is scary to think how our climate has changed, wondering if this is the new normal. I echo some of Allan’s thoughts. Luckily, the smoke hasn’t bothered me, but my husband and son have felt a little affected, not too bad though. Hope you feel better soon. The rain should come tomorrow…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I feel as though I’m living in the trailer for a movie that I don’t want to see. Most Californians—especially Northern Californians—are well aware of the effects of climate change. The latest UN statement that we have 10 years or so to make significant changes or we’re out of luck has been in my thoughts everyday for the last 2 weeks. If this is a glimpse of the future, what will we do when rain doesn’t come, or not in an amount that will clear the air? Last Friday I had the bright idea to go to Pt. Reyes and soak up some clean ocean air. I checked the air quality and it was as bad as where we live. It was over 200.

    If prayer is all we’ve got, then prayer it is. Prayer for the people who lost their homes and families. Prayer for our fellow citizens who still cling to the desire to embrace to fossil fuels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought about heading to the ocean too, but like you said. Climate change is turning California into a desert all the way to Oregon, but while everyone admits that – what are we doing? As these fires continue the air will get worse and at some point, nothing will be left but dirt, ash and dry rivers. I think there are things we can do other than just pray – I still looking at getting solar for my home (something I should have done years ago).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Solar with a battery storage option might be in our collective future given PG&E’s recent policy of enforced blackouts during high winds/storms. The results are no power lines causing sparks that lead to fires, but no electricity for consumers either. We may move towards a hybrid energy solution sooner, rather than later.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. “How do you write about that?” – An excellent question. I often feel paradoxically guilty about being immensely thankful that I’m not in someone else’s situation. You can’t stop the rain any more than you could have stopped the fire, and you’ve already offered prayers and donations. That’s all you can do, so enjoy the clean air guilt-free (ish).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. lorieb says:

    well said, it is hard to imagine (yet alone write about) what those poor people are going through from our intact, warm, dry, smoke-free (relatively in your case) homes, especially as our part of the world moves into the winter months

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t know, Andrew. There is so much to say. Maybe woodworking is the best answer.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I can’t push the ‘like’ button on this post because the situation in your state is so devastating. How can I ‘like’ that? I pray for relief from the caustic air for all, I pray for help for those displaced, I pray for comfort for those who have lost loved ones and those still missing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. dorannrule says:

    What a horrible thing those fires! And I am so sorry you are having reactions to the smoke Andrew. Having had asthma as a child I can only imagine what inhaling smokey air would do even now.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Well said, Andrew.

    Liked by 1 person

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