Another Weird Year Inches Toward a Finale…

I guess I could write that about pretty much every year of my life. 😀

As you probably know, wildfires burned houses in a part of Colorado yesterday, so far 500+ houses. These fires were/are a 5 – 6 hour drive from me, across a couple of passes and on the other side of Denver.

Last night the power company shut down power in the most populated counties in the San Luis Valley. After the fact they let us know what was going on. OK. The idea was to reduce natural gas consumption. Their explanation was probably reasonable and made sense to them. It was only out 3 – 4 hours but it’s scary when suddenly your whole town goes black at 7 pm. For me it’s PTSD time because that was the first thing that happened before I was evacuated ahead of a wildfire in San Diego County in 2003. I was grateful to have my new phone and 5G. Otherwise I wouldn’t have known what was going on.

Once I knew what was happening, I ate my almost-fully-cooked dinner by candlelight. Electronics are good. I was able to watch a movie via my old DVD player and run my white noise machine all night via the USB on my old laptop. I also took the “opportunity” to stick a couple of battery operated motion sensor lights to my kitchen and laundry room walls. Who knew I’d end up with a safer house? The finale to the power outage arrived 3 hours later. I could understand the “method in their madness.” People were going to bed. Power consumption would go down anyway. I expect the same to happen tonight so I’m making sure everything is charged.

My little neighborhood checked in with everyone to be sure we were all fine.

The area that burned was — back when I lived up there which was nearly 50 years ago — open country. It’s always been dry, but now it’s even drier after 3 years of drought. Last night, reading the descriptions of what burned, was like reading about a foreign country. Louisville — one of the towns that took the most damage — was once a town along the lines of Monte Vista, a one street town with a few streets branching off. It was famous for the Italian restaurants the leftovers of the Italians who had come to mine coal in the area back in the day. I can’t even remember Superior — the other town in harm’s way — it was so minuscule. It’s now on the list of “Best places to live in Colorado.”

Grass fires are very dangerous and scary. They move fast and spark like crazy. The wind carries the sparks all over the place — lighting (in this case) literal dumpster fires. Worst of all, raking them doesn’t help (ha ha).

I’m resisting my urge to launch into a sermon about the way we live now, but seriously. A culture based on consumption, that uses marketing to turn everything into commodities, can’t survive. Anyway, that said, I realize I’m going to have to acquire the tools I had in California to get through these things, so it looks like I’m about to buy stuff. 😦

In other news — I took down my show at the museum yesterday and learned that Louise has resigned her position as museum director which is too bad, but totally understandable. So who knows if there will be another holiday show where I can sell stuff (ha ha) to people who want to consume it? I get the paradox there (paradox is a kind way to say hypocrisy). As I drove home (in the wind) I thought about what a lovely holiday season I had. I’d say it was topped off last night in my dark town when I went out to my front yard to look at the magnificent sky, shimmering diamonds in the darkness, the Milky Way, Orion dazzling bright, the Pleiades — all seemed within reach. Next time that happens, I’ll put on a coat before I head out the front door!

Finally, as 2021 comes to an end, in words of Philip K. Dick via Bladerunner — I hope in 2022 everyone will…

“Have a better one!”

Calvin and Hobbes

37 thoughts on “Another Weird Year Inches Toward a Finale…

  1. Just heard about the fires on our BBC radio news. They said it doesn’t look like anyone has died, but tens of thousands of people were affected. Now the wind has dropped and its started to snow so they are hoping that will help damp down the fires?
    On a happier note sending love and best wishes for a happy new year to you, Teddy and Bear x

  2. I learned of the fires this mid-morning-heartbreaking and scary how fast the wind spreads it. I can imagine the PTSD of a sudden outage. I’m so glad you had your time with the stars, a movie, candles, and Bear and Teddy to keep you warm. And a safer home with those motion sensor lights! Please tell Bear and Teddy to keep you warm. Finn and I are sending warm hugs and love! Happy New Year! 🧡❤💚🤍🐶 ummm.,….do you have a propane grill or campstove for coffee?

    • I have a sterno stove for coffee. Since the outages have been (so far) rare, I figured the sterno fuel would last longer stored. It gets hot. BUT if push comes to shove, the water from my faucet would work in a pinch and I have Starbucks instant coffee. I could probably just eat that with a spoon… 😉 Bear, Teddy and I wish you and Finn a happy new year! ❤

      • Oh, that’s awesome! What I wouldn’t do for coffee….lol. I used to have a JetBoil system for packing and I gave it away a couple of years ago. It’s 70 degrees here and by tomorrow afternoon we will be around 10 degrees. I try to think ahead….key word, “try”. I made sure my flashlight was in my utensil drawer after reading your post! 💚😁🤗

        • Yeah, that’s a good place for a flashlight. My kitchen only has 3 drawers so it’s pretty easy to figure out where things are… Coffee is IT. I don’t even want to adapt to not having it. It’s my guarantee that even the crappiest day isn’t going to be totally crappy. 🙂

          • YES! Tee hee! Coffee makes crap better! My first poem I wrote when I was trying to spend each day writing a few years ago basically stated that I only go to bed so I can get up and drink coffee. 😬☕☕

            • Ha ha ha ha. I can’t go that far. I like sleeping, but I love the moment in the morning when the dogs are fed, my smoothie has been made and the coffee is sitting here with me while I write my blog post. Sweet half hour of life, especially the last couple of years. Anyway, today I’m going to make tomorrow’s smoothie before I go to bed just so I don’t have to worry about breakfast if the power goes out again. 🙂

  3. Do you have a gas stove? Don’t want to leave it running all night but running it every so often will take the edge off in an emergency. No different that cooking a turkey.

    • No, unfortunately. I thought about that last night. If I had a gas range, I wouldn’t be worried about coffee in the morning and I could have baked my scalloped potatoes in the oven instead of in my little electric oven. In Descanso I had a wood stove, a gas range and then the usual electricity. I became a believer in energy source diversification, especially in the wood stove. I could cook on that thing if I needed to.

    • Unless your gas stove, like your furnace, requires electricity. Many newer stoves won’t open their gas valve without power to the glow plug (for oven) or sparker (for surface burners). Without electricity, I no longer have heat, water heating, stove, or landline – all things that used to work without electricity.

      • I discovered with. my gas stove in Descanso that I could light it with a match 🙂 Right now I’m a little sick of “progress.” I’d install a wood stove if It wouldn’t cost me so much to do it. I was thinking for a while moving back to the California woods but that’s really 1) impossible financially and 2) much more fire prone.

      • Sounds like an excuse to get a generator. I have solar but no battery. Given how much a battery costs I can get a generator that will run for a lot longer than a battery would last and it costs a lot less.

  4. Crazy to have such devastating fires in December!! Glad you had time to adapt to the black out. Ophelia and I are wishing you, Teddy and Bear a Calvin and Hobbes New Year!!

  5. So sad to hear about the wildfires Martha and glad you are OK. Great idea about the battery-operated motion-sensor lights, I will get some too. During our last 12-hour power outage we lit our candle lanterns while I walked around and prepared food guided by my head-torch! Here’s hoping the New Year will bring you, Bear and Teddy happy times and plenty of blessings 💞💜💞 xxx

    • I searched high and low for my headlamp but couldn’t find it. That’s the BEST tool in a power outage. Bear, Teddy and I wish you Pearl and Eivor many beautiful walks ❤

  6. I’ve often thought there’s not much between you and all that grass Martha. I try to keep these thoughts to myself but since you brought it up. I think it would be good to have a plan and an evacuation kit. Fortunately you don’t have an electric garage door. Remember fuel pumps don’t work when there is no power.
    I wonder whether Steph lives in that area? So many folks losing their homes to wildfire in winter is really horrifying.

    • I’m pretty sure Monte Vista isn’t likely to end up burning, but you never know. That community in Boulder County is in what has been open country for a long long long (like eons) time. AND we’ve had a drought for 3 years AND this winter has been nothing but wind. It’s always blown up there, but 100 mph is extreme. In our new climate that might not be extreme or strange or anything. It might be — as happened in CA — the new status quo. People are slow to wake up to change. Steph does live up there, but she’s OK. Her house is OK. They are staying with friends because there’s no power there yet and won’t be until the fire marshal makes sure there’s no danger. Power lines are down around the towns and that’s thought to be the cause of the fire — again a hard lesson California has learned but god forbid we learn from California.

      Here’s Monte Vista from the air. You can see the river to the north (above) the town and the fields around are all tilled and irrigated or grazed meaning they’re not tall grass. Fire is less likely here but I’m never going to say a fire won’t happen. My house is just to the east of the Big R store 2 blocks.,+CO+81144/@37.5784663,-106.183612,9621m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x8715de2d6c7c99df:0xc25b1b33d6a66a54!8m2!3d37.5791696!4d-106.1480842

          • You know how one thing leads to another, well we found a research paper that indicated there was a higher mortality rate for calves in that region as they were more prone to pulmonary issues due to the high elevation. No relevance to how fire prone Monte Vista may or may become due to clumate change but could be handy to know if by some chance you were preparing a trivia quiz on your region. It is no wonder, we never get anything done here. 🤣

            • P.S. I went through a fire in California. I was evacuated from home for 2 weeks. I’m prepared. I figure it’s about food, money, gas in the car, dog food, sleeping bag and my tiny bag of treasures — it’s a sandwich bag. When I had to evacuate in 2003, I understood that all that mattered really was my life and my animals. People all around were loading up their cars with family heirlooms. That made no sense to me. My four dogs and I were ready to camp out if we had to. We didn’t, thankfully. A friend in San Diego opened her house to us and the freeway opened so I could get down from the mountains into the city. ❤

    • No. Here in Colorado they are usually done in October. But when I was a sprite (30) there were never wildfires like that here. A lightning strike fire maybe in the mountains, but soon put out by summer rain. This is a really desperate situation and people don’t seem to understand NOW what people understood in earlier times. I’m very sad and feel pretty hopeless about it.

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