Monday, August 31, 2009

Station Fire - Day 55

...Or so it feels like it. I was re-reading my first post and realized ... I LOST a day! I guess when you're shut in, they all blend together.

I actually ran away today. I simply needed to be outside and breathe. And since an old high school friend was working in Orange County, I spent the day down there...after devising an evacuation plan for Mabel. I ran some errands - business stuff - and mostly drove up and down the coast highway with the windows down in the car.

The smoke was thick well into Anaheim, which was shocking. I first thought it would end over Glendale or downtown. I certainly thought Disney paid extra to keep it at the L.A. county line (just kidding) but it was pretty thick.

I checked in with the Hiking Buddy on the way home and was shocked to learn she'd spent the early evening on my porch... Mt. Luken's was burning again....worse than ever! It was a terrifying drive home. I could see the flames and the ominous orange glow south of downtown.

Town is lined with people on the hillside that's not burning looking at the one that is. Luken's looks like they dumped gasoline instead of phos-chek!

I took a few photos but my headache is back and I didn't realize how stressful all this was until I was driving home and my neck started stiffening. But I'll get them up tomorrow.

For those of you following such things...predicted containment date has jumped from September fourth, to the eighth and is now...the fifteenth! Basically, check back sometime next month and see if Sunland is still here!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Station Fire Update - Crazy from the Heat

Ash and Oleanders in the driveway.

I was a little stir crazy after so many days shut in the house. As the Hiking Buddy says: "This ain't Chicago...we live with our doors and windows open around here." And it's true. All of my dog friends keep their back doors open so the pups can come and go at will. And this week has been so hard...

So we went sightseeing. HB was a little stir crazy herself having just come from the grocery store...too many people. I promised a quick loop, Mt. Gleason to see Alpine, around to the creek and home. I had already heard the creek was burning and it looked like Alpine was on fire from my porch.

We got to Alpine and were turned away...the road was blocked. We circled back to hit the creek from the south side. We were immediately stuck in traffic and could see heli-drops hitting the mountain beyond the north side of the creek. We weren't the only ones crazy from the smoky, shut-in, one hundred degree plus days! So many people were on the dead end street where I park... I'm so used to having it all to myself... I struggled to stop and take a picture. Some of the looky Lous (with Alpine burning in the background):

And the reverse:

This next one is of the fire hitting Alpine Village area:
And this is the fancy, gated community behind the creek where I hike:
These next two were taken later in the evening from my back porch. The mountain at the creek lit up like crazy right after dark.

And this is Alpine again
At one point, I counted 12 hot spots from the porch. It's quieted down but I can still see several burning. And the wind is kicking up...

Station Fire a/k/a The Yo-Yo Fire

When I first started planning this post... back on Thursday night - which feels like a lifetime now... I thought it would be a quirky little post about L.A. air quality.

I knew there was a fire in the Angeles National Forest but it was 20 miles east. But late Thursday afternoon, I received a phone call from Kat. She had heard there was a bad fire above her home in La Canada and people were telling her she would need to evacuate. She was no where close to home and was upset about her animals. I reassured her. I had heard nothing of the fire and had bought groceries on her street less than a hour before. She returned home and while the fire was near her, she wasn't worried.

That would change on Friday. I awoke to smoke and ash everywhere. This is the ash I found on my car that morning. Still, the fire was seven miles away. I wasn't worried.

Looking down on the hood of the car

I decided to walk Mabel early, figuring the air quality would worsen as the fire wore on. It was a painful hike... eyes stinging; hard to breathe. We took it slow.

Everything had that Armageddon Orange glow. The ash was coming down like a snowstorm.

And every once in a while, some new area would catch up and a giant smoke plume would soar into the sky and obliterate the sun.

As Friday wore on, evacuations were called for within blocks of Kat. Hers is not an easy house to evacuate: three dogs, three cats, reptiles, uncountable birds and one teenaged daughter. Complicated by the fact that two of the cats bully all the other critters. I offered my home and talked her through evacuation prep on the phone: Line up the crates, pack important papers, clothing, lots of underwear, laundry detergent (clean clothes make a huge difference when you are homeless), flashlights w/ batteries, back up computers. She wrote a note to herself to open the bird cage to allow her finches the opportunity to save themselves.

And we waited... The fire receeded.

But not for long. It was back Saturday morning. There was so much soot and ash, I didn't walk Mabel but I did opt for breakfast at our favorite dog-firendly spot. I had called ahead...the smoke wasn't bad in that canyon and they had misters working to keep the ash at bay. It wasn't bad but it was damp and getting smokier. Driving home, I was amazed at the delineation of the could SEE it hanging over Sunland with the blue sky to the south!

Smoke on the right; Blue sky on the left! Taken on my cell phone while driving!

I had hoped the fire would clear up in the afternoon and I could walk the girl. Around 2, I need postage for some mail and ran out to the shop. I squealed when I hit the porch. Mt. Luken's - the tallest peak in Los Angeles - was burning! Visible flames from my back porch...way worse and way closer than last year!

As I notified my local pack, I saw some heroes on the way to do battle. (Hard to believe my godson wants to fly one of these!)

And within two hours, it was out. I took a nap, still thinking I could hike. I awoke with a start at was so dark, I was certain the fire had hit a transformer. The hiking buddy called and invited me over to watch the fire from her yard along with the dogs and a root beer float. I was shocked to see the fire raging on Mt. Lukens again and when I got to the car, I could see another fire in the area of Alpine Village...another hiking trail I love.

It took 10 minutes to exit my driveway. The fire department was staging right in middle of Foothill Boulevard and diverting traffic to my street. Cars were stopping in front of my house for the view!

We watched the fires for hours and they were still burning at bedtime; and at 2 and 4 when I got up and checked on them. All night long I could hear news choppers - fire choppers rarely fly at night - and fire trucks rushing about town.

Mt. Luken's 10 p.m. 8/29/09

This morning, it seems to have receeded again, but not the smoke and ash. That's worse than ever. Mt. Lukens is no longer visible due to smoke.

The strange thing is, there is no wind and yet this fire is covering more than 35,000 acres. I had to laugh when someone asked a fire commander where the fire is growing. His answer was a drawn out explanation but basically amounted to North, East, South and West.

Mabel an I are staying inside where it's still smoky and trying not to worry. But the winds are due to kick up this afternoon and I fear it could get really ugly then.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

If You Were Wondering...

....Yes, I'm near the fire. More later but in the meantime, here's the link to inciweb. They update personnel, size of fire and evacuations more often than the top of the page says they have...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Amusing Muse

There just isn't much going on with my job hunt other than it eats into my blogging time, so I thought I would just pop in and share a few Mabel Lou tales.

I've decided to climb the mountain north of the levee once a week...I just want to build my stamina. I made it half way up the other day before becoming winded and hot. I stopped to breathe. Mabel, a good 20 feet further up the mountain, turned to look at me.

I said to her, "Mamma can't make it any further."

And she came to me!

That makes it all the harder to admit that she chooses to ignore me on occaision!


Last Saturday, we ventured to our favorite dog-friendly weekend breakfast dive. We were sitting at that table in the back, closest to the kitchen door. (We have to sit where Mabel's tail won't drive anyone nuts! She's also been known to sit on someone else's bench...feet on the ground; butt on the seat! Can you imagine eating breakfast and suddenly realizing a strange rottweiler is sitting at your table??)

As luck would have it, Mabel's favorite waitress, Laurie was off. Although the busboy brought her cookies and the waitress did bring her one piece of bacon, poor Mabel stared holes in that door! Despite of wishing to make it so, Laurie did not magically appear.

Yesterday, I decided not to take any chances... I phoned before driving there. Laurie answered. Mabel's breakfast: pork chops, scrambled eggs, sausage, ortega omelet, biscuit w/ sausage gravy, Belgian waffle, hash browns and a hunk o butter! And cookies from the busboy. And yes, she still wanted a bite of my eggs, bacon and pancakes!

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Hiking yesterday with Kat, Mabel and the little dogs, Twinkie and Frankie - we were all missing the Dalmatian, Linguini. Linguini was on her own hike with Kat's daughter.

Kat explained the trail Linguini was on to me: "You would love it. In the spring after the rains, there is a stream to cross every 20 feet or so. Mabel would have a blast there!"

She later adds: "It's a probably a two hour hike but I'm not sure cause I got lost coming out and it took four so it's either a two or four hour hike. But with all the water and shade, you would just love it!"

And so I asked her how to get there.

"You take the 210 East. You exit somewhere and then turn North on Lincoln. You drive up and around the mountain (waving her arm in large circle for clarity), park and hike in. "

Funny thing is, I know where that is!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009

In General

Life has been a bit of a downer lately, which is why I haven't been posting.

  • Trying to switch credit card processors to cut my overhead. The sales rep made a huge blunder which rendered me unable to take credit cards for over a week.
  • My largest sales volume in over a year came in during said week. So much for my stellar reputation of turning orders around quickly.
  • Still no job. A few nibbles from a headhunter but I'm not so sure said headhunter is really on the ball.
  • My resume : interview : job ratio is really killing me. In my lean and hungry days - when I could afford to work for nothing - For every 10 resumes I sent, I got one interview. For every 1.75 interviews, I got a job. My ratio was probably better than that if you count the fact that I often begged to meet someone even if they had no job. I've been hired 10 years after the fact on some of those!
  • In eight months of sending out resumes, I've had two interviews. One was for a job. One was with a head hunter.
  • Married friends who have never had to work a day in their lives (much less understand the ins and outs of running a business) really seem to annoy the heck out me lately. After mentioning to one my great week of sales, she dared suggest that all should be well in my life. Let's do the math on that, shall we? On my largest order last week - $400, I had to pay sales commissions of $40. Raw materials cost me another $100. My credit card processor took $14.40. That puts me down to $245 and change. Let's see... I need to order new wood mounts. $85. I haven't ordered food color or pads in ages....$500. And my $1000 mortgage is due.... Yeah, honey, things are looking great!
  • I probably ruined a ten year friendship for being my usual direct self.
  • Being my usual direct self landed me the job of "firing" people from a bead group I belong to. Odd how the thing that can scare someone close to me can the very thing treasured in another situation.
  • What I find most annoying about both is that people ASSuME that because I'm direct, I have a think skin. I don't. I get hurt...a lot. I get disappointed in people a lot. And most days, it makes me want to crawl into a cave and stay there forever.
  • My nightly swims, Mabel Lou and hiking are my saving grace every day. Speaking of's about that time.