Saturday, July 23, 2011

It really could happen again

On Thursday night I hopped in my car with Kellen in the backseat, ready to head to a friend's house thirty minutes away.  I started driving toward the interstate when off to the left side of the road I saw a plume of brown smoke.  At first I dismissed the smoke as being the by-product of the computer chip manufacturing company headquartered near us.  But it wasn't the white smoke that normally billows out of their offices.  It was brown, brown smoke I had seen before, brown smoke that indicated something far more ominous.

Despite my insane fear of fire, I drove toward the smoke.  While I am deeply afraid of fires, I am also afraid of not knowing, and if I could figure out where the fire was and where it was heading, I guess I thought I somehow would have control of this situation.  Rational thought finally overtook my brain though, and I turned around before we got anywhere near the fire, though at least I had enough information to call Dan and have him check the news.

The fire burned over 2,000 acres, but thankfully the wind blew it away from our neighborhood.  It was out that night.

In the last couple of weeks, there have been at least TEN small fires in the southwestern corner of Idaho, two being close enough to us to make me believe that a wildfire could happen to us again, especially with the lightening storms we've had this summer.

Some people try to reassure me with odds, somehow believing that because it's happened once it can't happen again.  I'd love to believe that logic, but in reality, I know that fires are independent events.  One has nothing to do with the other and having survived one makes me no less likely to lose my house than my neighbors whose home was spared the night of August 25.

I feel lucky each summer night we survive without losing our house.  Every time a storm rolls through, I stay up, way past the point of utter exhaustion, just to make sure we're all safe.  I stalk the local news' Twitter feeds for reports of fires, and I contribute way more than necessary to the local newspaper's ad revenue given the number of times I refresh the top news for reports of fires.

I wish I could have faith that it won't happen again.  But I know in my heart it's completely possible.  We could lose our house, the life we've worked so hard to rebuild, once again.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm afraid...

I'm not exactly the bravest person I know.  I once got off a roller coaster in middle school with a bunch of friends because I was convinced I was going to die.  I was never a safety officer in elementary school, but I've more than made up for it in my adult life.  I research safety records; I stay on top of recalls; I'm paranoid of food contamination in my kitchen.  Basically, I'm neurotic.

Before the fire I was afraid of some things- like flying.  I once had a panic attack flying back to Boise from Virginia Beach in mid-air, and I felt so lucky they were looking for people to give up their seats that night for the oversold flight from Chicago to Boise.  They even paid for our hotel, which seemed ridiculous since I felt like they were doing ME a favor.  But that was just one time, and overall, my fears were pretty well managed.

I try to let go of my fears, remind myself that the odds are in my favor that the day is going to end just as happily as it started.  But really, who starts off their day thinking they are going to return to their home in flames?  That was the least of my worries the morning of August 25.

I try to remember that I'm not in control, which is really hard for a person who, well, likes control (I had some examples, but I decided you would all really think I was nuts!).  But the reality is that letting go only helps so much.  I still have thoughts that seem to also be out of my control.  What if this restaurant has tainted lettuce?  What if someone comes into the mall and opens fire?  What if a fire starts tonight while my husband is gone and I can't get out of my room to get my son?  And if he sleeps with me, what happens if I die in my sleep?

I recognize the irrationality of my fears.

It doesn't stop me from having them.

Monday, July 4, 2011

30 before 30

I meant to post this yesterday for my 29th birthday, but instead, I spent a great day with family and friends.  Happy birthday to me anyway :-)  I've always wanted to be 30, so really, I'm not all that disturbed by the coming year.  This is my list of what I want to accomplish in the next year (which doesn't include blogging everyday because we all know how well that worked out).

1.Launch the Life After the Fire site (pretty sure this was on the list last year, but we should have it up this month).

2. File 501(c)(3) paperwork for Life After the Fire so that we can fundraise to assist other families in rebuilding their hearts and homes after a fire. The paperwork is crazy, just in case you were wondering!

3. Submit 3 essays to anthologies or newspapers.  Even if they aren't published, it's important to keep submitting.

4. Finish my shadow box with things left from the fire (there's not much) and hang it in my living room.

5. Finish painting Kellen's bookcase- I started it over a year ago.

6. Launch our business website.

7. Secure 15 clients by the end of the year.

8. Remember to not overdo it and to continue to rest as needed.

9. Take Vitamin D everyday; my levels are a bit low.

10. Attend 2 business related conferences... and make friends while I'm there.

11. Remember when I said I was going to try to send out cards, actual physical cards, every week?  Well, I didn't even send one.  I really want to revisit this and send more cards.  Let's set a goal of 12 this year that are "Just Because."

12. Actually get the photos for HGTV taken.  This has been a nightmare.

13. Try to be kinder about criticism while still honoring my need to be direct.

14. Spend more time in my real life and not in the virtual one.  It's hard to do when you work online, but it's important.

15. Cook more meals.

16. Create a blogging schedule for this blog and Mommy in Chief... and STICK TO IT!

17. Read more books.

18. Channel my son's smile in the midst of his tantrums (this will be the hardest to achieve by far).

19. Read and comment on more blogs.

20. Learn to cross-country ski.

21. Make a decision about completing our family.

22. Finish Kellen's second year in his scrapbook.

23. Continue cleaning out the house of things that we no longer need.

24. Celebrate how far we've come since the fire.

25. Tell my friends and family (more often) how much they mean to me.

26. Try to find the beauty in each day, even when I don't feel like it.  Especially when I don't feel like it.

27. Accept the limitations of my health... and be ok with the frustrations that come with that acceptance.

28. Go camping once with my family without stressing out about the open flame.

29. Allow myself to just be.

30. Journal more... just for myself.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Firework Safety

It's amazing to me that fireworks could be such a contentious issue, though I realize that most people have not lost their home in a traumatic wildfire.  As was mentioned this morning on a local radio station by the fire chief, our fire (the Oregon Trail Heights fire) was not started by fireworks, but a similar scenario is not hard to envision given the right conditions.  All you have to do is Google "housefire fireworks," and you'll see this isn't an overstated risk.

I do concede that many people still want to set off fireworks.  So if you are inclined to do so, please be smart.
fireworks Chicago
1. Don't set off fireworks in extremely dry conditions, or next to a field of dry brush.  We are right next to a field of sagebrush, yet we are not classified as the foothills (where it is illegal to set off any fireworks).  It is not responsible to set off fireworks anywhere near this brush.  Fires have been started before, and I hate to say this, but I am certain they will be started by fireworks again.

2. Only set off LEGAL fireworks.  There's a reason that certain fireworks are illegal, and it's not just to piss off the libertarians.  Light a sparkler.  Don't light off a mortar shell.

3. Don't let young children light the fireworks.  In 2010, there were 8,600 ER visits for children due to fireworks.  Sparklers burn at a temperature of up to 2,000 degrees.  Please supervise older children, and do not let younger ones play with them.

4. Spray off fireworks before throwing in a trash can.  There was a report locally last week of someone who lost part of their home because they put hot ashes in a trash can in their garage.  If you are throwing away firework debris (which is the responsible thing to do), douse them in water first.  And then put them in a trash can that's not in your garage (or house).

5. Watch a public display.  Our neighbors get together at the end of the street and watch the city display.  We sit around and laugh and catch up.  It's safe, and the display is better than anything we could light off anyway.

Whatever you do, please stay safe this holiday weekend.