Wednesday, October 31, 2007

One of Those Days

Two days in a row now, I have had 'one of those days'. Yesterday, my daughter was almost late to school because I sat in the parking lot waiting for cars to move so I could actually park my car and walk her back. Right after that I went to the grocery store. Grabbed a cart, picked out some produce. After that I left the cart for no more than two minutes while I went looking for some things in the aisle (I do not like to take the cart down the aisles - because invariably someone parks their cart cross ways and blocks the aisle). About the time that I left the cart, there was a store manager asking if I needed help finding anything, and I said I did not. He asked me if I was sure about that...(what the heck???).

So I go on about my business, find the stuff I wanted, and came back to find that my cart was gone. I went to the front of the store and that same manager had taken my cart (he saw me with it in the first place) because he assumed it was abandoned. Good grief, wait 15 minutes, if it is still there, it is abandoned, but three minutes tops? I was so angry. I have had my shopping cart taken from me in stores more times than I can count. Usually the cart taken is empty, so it is not such a pain. But I had hand picked some apples and bananas, so I was royally upset.

Today, I feel blah. I lack hope today. Don't quite know why, but I do. I have been dealing with some chronic issues, which I do not care to divulge online. Suffice to say that I am lacking the emotional strength and fortitude to deal capably with the situation. I am depressed and the situation is not resolving at all. I feel really defeated. I wish I could be optimistic about this but I cannot.

Depression is an awful thing. I hate the hopelessness and the defeat. Perhaps tomorrow I will feel better, but today I just do not. I am just tired, tired, tired. And I cannot get any traction in this and other areas of my life.

I know, once the air quality gets better, that I will probably get better and more hopeful, emotionally, but dang, I am tired of waiting.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Trunk or Treating

We got invited to a "Trunk or Treating" event that was held today at the local Mormon church. Basically, the deal is, instead of going door to door, the kids go from car trunk to car trunk in a parking lot. The church served hot dogs and punch, and the kids got to be outside in their costumes and collect loot.

What was really cool, was that it was not limited to the members of the church. In fact, my friend that told me about it happens to be Jewish. She said that her family has been going to this thing for years.

So my daughter put on her costume, I grabbed a bag of Halloween candy, and we headed for the church. We handed out candy, and my daughter collected candy. Seems pretty win-win to me.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Phantom got My Daughter

This morning, on our front door, was taped a note that said, "Boo, We Got You!" with a ghost picture on it. Along with the note was a treat bag filled with candy and other Halloween goodies (bat erasers and bat straws anyone?).

In the bag was another note, basically instructing us to fill up three treat bags, and take them to three of my daughter's friends' houses to keep the thing going.

Normally I hate this sort of thing, but, hey, there were treats involved, and it was so fun getting the treat bags together, and dropping them off. (We may have gotten caught at one house - eek). I do like the "anonymous giving" aspect of it. And my daughter had a blast. Especially knowing we may have gotten caught.

In a HUGE way, the whole thing made me feel good. I was happy that someone thought of my daughter in this way. That counts for a lot, especially since, sometimes I feel like we do not fit in here.

The air quality today is better. The sky is not that sickly orange tinged color it has been all week. (I thought the green skies before the tornado were sickly looking, they are, but the orangey sky seems to hang on longer term).

I hope the air quality improves enough to go trick or treating on Wednesday. I know the kid has been looking forward to it all month.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rain, Blessed Rain

It is drizzling a bit this morning. I have never been so happy to see rain in my entire life. And I am always happy to see rain here in California because it happens so very rarely.

This rain certainly will not be enough to eliminate our drought deficit. But I do know that even if no rain falls on the fire, the humidity will help the firefighters get control of it. The fire has now burned 38,000 acres, is in the Cleveland National Forest, and is heading to Corona. I know a few people in Corona, and am hoping they stay safe.

Last night we got Thai food, because I am so congested. The chiles and spices seemed to help break it all up a little. Our daughter seems to be weathering this bad air better than I am. Thank goodness for that.

Since there was no school yesterday, another mom and myself met up at one of the indoor malls (many malls are completely outdoors here - except for the actual stores). Our kids got to walk around, play in the play area at Pottery Barn, and jump around on the little floor projection area. They got to get some of that excess pent up energy out that they have not been able to channel for almost a week.

Today is a good day. Thank you Higher Power, for the rain.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Our Freeways

Our freeway system here is massive. Most freeways here have at least 5 lanes going each way and often there is still gridlock with that. There are two speeds for most of the freeways here, parking lot, or 85 mph. I cannot believe how fast people drive here when the freeways are moving. Back in the midwest, I would be considered a lead foot. Out here I need to stay to the right because everyone here is passing me. And it appears as if the CHP does not pull anyone over for speeds less than 100 mph.

Our Air Quality is Getting Worse

The winds have pretty much died down for now, but somehow the air is worse today. Yesterday afternoon was about the best the air has been since the fire started on Sunday afternoon. But now it is clearly worse. It looks like fog, only it is smoke, soot, and ash. And the char smell is leaching into the house again. I have towels at all the door jambs to stop it, but it clearly is not enough.

My daughter's school was cancelled for today. We will probably head to an indoor mall later, because the air quality is likely to be better there.

Have I said today how much I want this to be over?

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I picked up my 23 year chip at my meeting today. Something the 12 step programs have taught me is that I can only do what is in front of me. That fact has been brought back in spades this week. I am powerless over the Santiago Canyon Fire. I am powerless over the Santa Ana Winds. However, faced with these things, I am NOT powerless over my choices with regard to the externals.

I am choosing to do everything in my power to make sure my family and I are safe. I am choosing to have a better day today than I did yesterday. Yesterday my emotional state hit critical mass. It really was not pretty. I had very little patience with everything yesterday. Today I am better.

My asthma symptoms are getting a little worse, but I know what to do to take care of myself around it. I hate sucking on my inhaler with the passion of a million suns. I hate how it makes me feel all jittery. But I know that without it, I could end up in the hospital on oxygen, and, quite frankly, I am useless there.

The air is starting to look a little better here. I am thinking my asthma worsening is just the cumulative effect of breathing in this noxious mix for days on end. My mind has come up with fantasies of torturing the waste of human skin that deliberately set this fire. I mean really, what did the person think? "Oh gee, today is a good day to set this fire, it will get maximum effect because of the weather forecast!"

I just got a phone call from my daughter's teacher. The school district has decided to cancel school for tomorrow. Ay yi yi. In retrospect, they probably could have cancelled school all week. I am glad she called me, though. So I can come up with a plan for what to do tomorrow. Perhaps we will go to one of the play land type places in one of the local indoor shopping malls.

In happier news, I have been starting to teach my daughter how to play piano (wanted to see if she would take to it before I paid the big bucks for lessons). She has been practicing every day, and seems to be enjoying it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My new heroes

I know the photo is pixellated, but I wanted to express my appreciation and gratitude for Orange County's and all of California's Bravest.

I am in awe of what you all do, and mere words fail to express my thankfulness.

Stay safe out there. Thank you for keeping us safe here.

Looks like we may get a reprieve from this long nightmare

The fire by us has a name now (probably as of yesterday or the day before). It is being called the Santiago Canyon Fire. At this point, the authorities are saying it is about 50% contained. The worst of it seems to have settled over the Foothill Ranch, Modjeska Canyon, and Trabuco Canyon. It is no longer aiming at Irvine.

Soot and ash covers everything outside. The sky here is gray-brown. My lungs are tight and feel like they have lost elasticity. I am staying indoors for the most part.

I had to go to Trader Joe's today because we were running out of milk. It was like a ghost town in there. No one is going out, except for going to work or school. I have never seen the shopping areas so deserted.

The school district has stopped all outdoor activities for the school children, until the air quality improves. All of the kids have ants in their pants, because they have no outlet for their natural energy. Meanwhile, it seems as if all of the parents are about to run out of their energy reserves, due to the stress of this whole thing.

All of our eyes are bloodshot, I am on "firestorm overload". I can only watch about 2 minutes of the coverage now without wanting to throw bricks at the television. Thankfully the local affiliates of the major networks have stopped the 24/7 coverage of it.

I have a low grade headache, I am sure it is from reduced oxygen in the air.

Yesterday it got up to 99 degrees outside, today it is 95. I cannot imagine how hot the inside of all that firefighting gear gets when the ambient temperature is this hot outside.

Many of us are sleep deprived. I know I am. I do not so much sleep, as I just collapse at the end of the day and spend a few hours unconscious, only to wake up, not feeling rested at all, to get up and do it all over again.

One tiny sliver of a good thing in all this...I have not had to bend over to pick up all the flyers and business cards at my front door this week. Apparently the flyer runners do not work during wildfires.

I know there are hundreds of thousands of people who have it a whole lot worse than I do in this situation. I feel deep empathy for them. I also feel extremely grateful that we were spared the nightmare of losing everything.

Monday, October 22, 2007

We are safe, for now

Right now, it appears as if the fire is blowing away from us. We are going to find someplace away from the smoke this evening, so we can breathe. We have not had to evacuate.

I have never seen smoke so thick.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

We Watered the Roof

Well, the ash is falling from the sky, and it is very thick around here. We went out and watered the roof. I even got the ladder out and *gasp* climbed it to water the taller part. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am terribly afraid of heights.

My husband is still too heavy to climb the ladder (he has lost 50 pounds in the past few months, but he is still over 250 pounds and that just is not safe on the old aluminum ladder we have). So up the ladder I went. *shudder*

We should probably water the back fence too, since it is wood, and in dire need of a Thompson's seal job.

If you are inclined to pray, please pray for us, I am very frightened.

The ash in the air here is thick!

The fire is crossing into the settlements. We just watered the roof.

God, I hate this.

My House Smells Like a Campfire

Well, just 3 miles ESE of us, a brushfire has started. It has put up a plume of smoke that brought darkness to the late afternoon sky. I believe we are not in any danger of burning up, however, our air quality is going to be really bad for the duration of this fire.

Curse you, Santa Ana Winds.

I am not sure how much of the fire is contained. I sure hope it is contained soon.

My eyes are burning, my lungs are burning, and yet the winds still blow.

Santa Ana Winds

This is my second Santa Ana Wind season here in southern California. Today we are having sustained winds of 25-35 mph with gusts up to 80 mph (74 mph is considered category 1 hurricane force). I do not think I will ever get used to this. Back in Minnesota, when there are strong wind storms (yes they come with thunderstorms), people are told to go to their basements until the storm passes. There are no basements here. Besides that, today is Sunday, this "storm" is supposed to last until Tuesday night. Can't hole up in the basement for 3 days...

There is a wildfire in Malibu today. The winds are making it almost impossible to get any control of the fire, Several buildings have been totally lost already, and this fire has only been burning for a few hours. The Malibu Presbyterian Church is gone, Malibu Castle (Hodge Castle) is gone, the students and faculty at Pepperdine University have all been evacuated to the cafeteria. Even a few houses on the beach front are burning.

Something I learned last year during the Santa Ana Wind season is that a lot of the wild fires (at least around here) appear to be arson fires. Things like that make me question humanity, seriously.

We live a few miles from the foothills, and the foothills are where the fire danger is the highest. We are far enough away that our house would not be affected by any fires up there. This past spring there was a fair sized wildfire in Anaheim Hills (about 8-10 miles away as the crow flies). Our air quality, which is questionable anyway, became very poor. I am thankful, though, that we are not likely to need to evacuate.

I guess it is time to start the steroid inhalers for both my daughter and I. I sure do not want to have the smoke from the fires to trigger any serious asthma attacks.

In other news, today is my 23 year sobriety anniversary. What a long strange trip it's been.

Friday, October 19, 2007


My daughter, who is afraid of all things creepy and crawly (insects, spiders, etc.), informed me today that at school, in her classroom, they have a tarantula, and the teacher told the kids that they could take it home with them for a few days if they have permission from their parents. She has decided that she wants to take the tarantula home. Okay, my head is exploding. And in addition to that, she told me that she would like to go get our own tarantula to have as a pet.

I said to her, "But you are the one that gets all freaked out when there is a daddy-long-legs in the bathroom, and won't go to the bathroom until Daddy or I get the spider out of the bathroom."

"But I LIKE the tarantula, Mama," she replied.

You can't make this stuff up. Seriously. Now, we have been thinking about getting kittens next spring. So I told her that I was not sure if tarantulas and cats could coexist. Her response?

"Mama, I want a tarantula."

Funny thing - I am not at all squeamish about having a tarantula in the house. In fact, the idea of it amuses me in a rather perverse way.

I want to run amok

Right now, for reasons that I do not wish to divulge online, I just want to get in my car and drive to wherever it takes me. I won't do it, I have responsibilities here, but, damn, the thought of being able to do that is just so delicious right now.

I think I need a mom's night out. I was talking to some of the other mom's this morning, at school, after the kids had gone in, and a few of them were feeling the same way. I am going to try and arrange something in the next week or so, to get out and just be adults for awhile.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I have the attention span of a gnat

I am a strange person sometimes. I spend my life bouncing from partially finished project to partially finished project. I have four sewing projects in varying stages (two skirts, a blouse, and the ongoing patches that need to be sewn to my daughter's Brownie uniform - yes I know they are iron on, but when I followed directions for ironing stuff on, my iron melted the garment, so now I sew them on), one knitting project, and of course the ongoing household and laundry that needs doing.

Case in point, I was on the computer, when *ding* my brain went off and remembered that I need to sew the "pumpkin patch" badge on LittleTallDrink's uniform. But first I had to remember where the patch was. Which led to cleaning out my car. Once I got my car cleaned out, I realized that the patch was probably in my backpack, so I cleaned out my backpack. I could not find it, so I searched through my purse. It was not in my purse.

Then I went into my sewing room and laid out pattern pieces for the two skirts I am making. Got those laid out and decided to dig, once more, into my backpack, and voila - there it was. Now I have to go find where LittleTallDrink put her Brownie vest, so I can get it all pinned on. Thus, here I am, back at the computer.

If I could manage to focus for more than 30 seconds on something, I could rule the world.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Life has a way of changing one's choices.

About a year and a half ago, my aunt's long time boyfriend (they have been together for about 20 years) contracted meningitis and things were very dicey for about 2 months in the hospital. It was a really trying time for my aunt because she was not his wife, he has grown children from a previous marriage (the children deferred to her judgment in this situation), and a former wife, who did not wish to defer to my aunt's judgment as far as his care went.

Flash back to my wedding day, over 7 years ago, and it was my aunt that actually caught the bouquet. Both her and her boyfriend were adamant that they were never going to ruin what they have by getting married. We all gave them a good ribbing for a long time afterward about the bouquet and that it was destiny.

Well, yesterday, in the mail, was an invitation to their upcoming nuptials. To say I was shocked is certainly understating it. They were so sure that they were not going to get married. After talking to my mom today, one of the reasons for the change of heart was the fact that, legally, they would not be allowed to make any of the kinds of decisions one has to make in hospitals without the marriage certificate.

Congratulations go to my aunt and her soon to be husband. I am sure you will live a long and happy life together.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

This graphic cracks me up.

When speaking of freeways here in southern California, people refer to them using the definite article, as in The 5, The 57, The 22, etc. A friend of mine sent me this graphic. And it makes me laugh every time I see it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Becoming Accustomed

I am still trying to get used to this climate. I have been living in California for just a bit over a year and I am still not used to how warm it is most of the time. Today, the high temperature was ~80*. This time of year in Minnesota, the high temperature is usually in the upper 50s or low 60s. It seems strange to me to wear shorts and short sleeved tops this late into the year.

The other thing that is strange here is the fact that there is virtually no afterglow when the sun sets. The sky goes from bright to dark in a manner of minutes here. Back east, the darkness comes on more gradually. I am not entirely sure why that is, perhaps it is a function of how close we are to sea level here, compared to the Midwest. Who knows? All I know is that the sun just set, a minute ago, and in 5 minutes it will be pitch black.

I spent the afternoon with a few of my new friends here, at the park with our kids. It is difficult sometimes, having only been here for a year, knowing that my 20-30 year friendships are all back there, and making new friends as an adult can be really hard. But I am making friends, and it is fun when we can all get together and talk, while our kids are playing in the park. I have actually learned a lot about myself this past year, moving away from the old and incorporating the new. It has not always been fun.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Rant about our healthcare system

About a month ago, I had a trip to the local ER, because I thought I was having a heart attack. I was not, thank goodness.

I just got the "explanation of benefits" from our health care plan in the mail. The total original bill was for just over $4,600. The disallowed charges were around $4,200, leaving a balance paid by my plan (minus my copay) of around $400.

Now, had I not had health care coverage, the hospital would have billed me for the whole $4,600. But my insurance company only has to pay less than 1/10 of the final bill? How the hell does that work?

In my next life, I am coming back as the CEO of an HMO.

In Box

I am seriously considering putting up an "In Box" or "Hot File Pocket" right next to my front door. At least 3 times a week people come through the neighborhood with flyers and business cards hawking services ranging from new windows (look at the house bub, we have brand new windows, fool), carpet cleaning, painting, maid services, to a service that comes out to CLEAN YOUR GARBAGE CANS(!). I guess that form of marketing must work because they kill an awful lot of trees doing it.

Personally, if I am in need of services, I would ask a neighbor if they have anyone they would suggest, rather than these people who litter up my front stoop with their nonsense. I know it is minor, but it is an annoyance of mine.

I figure if I put up the box and somehow get these people to start using it, I may not have to bend over to pick up the papers that invariably fall on the ground when I open my front door. As it is, I have a "recycle bin" next to my front door, where I put all those flyers, brochures, and business cards.

Please, people, advertise in the phone book like everyone else.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Primaries are coming, The Primaries are coming.

Did I mention that I live in Orange County, California? Some days I think I am the only Democrat here. And I am having a difficult time making a decision as to who to support in the Presidential Primary in 120 days. Can I have parts of all the Democrats running?

I wanted to support Wesley Clark, but it is clear that he is not in the race. BAAAAAH. In the absence of Clark, I am leaning very strongly toward John Edwards. Most of what I am reading about him and hearing him say resonates with me. I am not ready to believe the nomination is going to be handed to Hillary Clinton.

Anyhow, the political message boards are starting to get very hot, because of the upcoming primaries. Amazing how politics gets peoples knickers in a twist.

Only thing I know for sure, I am so ready to be done with W.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


I am so bummed that the Cubs got swept. And so did the Angels. At least the Indians look like they are going to beat the Yankees. My husband is a die hard Angels fan and lets just say darkness has descended upon our home tonight.

D-Backs and Rockies? In the NLCS? Who'da thunk it? At this point I want to see a Rockies versus Indians World Series with the Rockies winning it all. I am fickle like that, I want the Cubs to break their curse, but I do not want the Indians to break theirs...I have a serious resentment against Casey Blake. He reached new levels of suckitude when he played for the Twins, but since he has been with the Indians, it is as if he is almost All Star quality. GRRR.

Beautiful Sunday Morning

I know, I am up early this morning, but it could not be more beautiful today. The sun is out, the weather is mild (in the 60s right now) and there is a nice breeze. I know around my area there are red flag warnings due to the drought but right here, right now, it is almost perfect.

Daughter and I are going to a birthday party for one of her friends today. The party is being held at a movie theatre. I am thinking that they are showing "Ratatouille" (the movie theatre is one of those bargain theatres). I love movies.

I love the crisp air of fall. It is a rarity here in SoCal. Just like rainstorms are a rarity. I love to get outside and dance in the rain here. People here think I am crazy. I am not sure they are entirely wrong about that. Weather things I miss from Minnesota: thunderstorms and snow. Yes, I know, I can drive up into the mountains if I want to see snow in the winter, but it is just not the same as being able to build a snowman in my front yard.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Welcome everyone.

I suppose I should introduce myself. I am a midwesterner living in California. I live in a "planned community" thus the moniker "Master Planistan". My midwestern sensibilities are assaulted here on almost a daily basis. For example, just when I think I have seen it all, someone decides to go shopping at Albertson's with his damned PARROT on his shoulder... now, I have nothing against birds, but I don't want them in my grocery store when I am shopping for produce.

I am married, and a stay at home mom. I have a daughter in elementary school and a son in high school. My son is finishing high school in the midwest and is seriously considering attending college out here. I am also an independent consultant for a family game company. Play a game with me?

I am an absolute baseball nut. My favorite major league team is the Minnesota Twins. I don't know about anyone else, but since I am sure Carl Pohlad is not going to pony up for Torii Hunter, I am going to miss him a lot. I am disappointed that the Twins did not get into the playoffs this year, but there is always next year. Since they did not make the playoffs, I am rooting for the Chicago Cubs (they have to break the curse sometime...). I live about 10 miles from Angel Stadium of Anaheim, of Orange County, of California, of the United States of America, of North America, of the Northern Hemisphere, of Earth. So I am kind of rooting for the Angels too.

Meh, enough about me for now.