Day 2/Day 3: The Things We Carried

Day Two, Sunday: David and Tracey Jackson made room for us in their household, which includes a ten-year-old, a seven-year old and a dog, with no muss and no fuss. At least, that’s how Tracey made it look. A longtime friend of theirs, Heather, was visiting. Heather was not under an evacuation order, but she wasn’t sure she was going to have power when she went home to Sonoma. Heather is an adopted family member, much the way we are.

If you have to evacuate and stay somewhere that isn’t your house, you can do worse than hang out with a math professor, a scientist, a special education teacher with a degree in Japanese, two smart, curious, creative children and a dog.

Harper the Wonder Dog

The winds had died down a bit during the dawn hours, but it had picked back up, and gusts were slamming the house. To the north sat what would have looked like a fog bank, if it had been in the south… and it hadn’t been that brownish-pink color.

Mostly, we watched, the various Facebook pages, and for updates. The kids were in the other room, watching a You-Tube channel where a You-Tube personality narrated his moves as he played Minecraft. His name was Thinknoodle. I grew to hate Thinknoodle.

I checked in on both sets of neighbors, each of whom had landed safely. Much like Petaluma, Rohnert Park, where we were, was an oasis of normalcy. They had power and were under no evacuation status. Things were open, like gas stations, a fact of some importance.

Tracey and I both checked in with Linda, Tracey’s mom, to let her know what was going on.

The house has two stories. You enter a foyer with an ascending staircase to your right that leads to the living room, kitchen and three bedrooms. The descending staircase on the left leads to a large den/rec room, two more bedrooms. Each floor has a bathroom. Basically, we had a private suite.

Some time during the morning, this conversation happened:

Me: (To Spouse) I wouldn’t have made it through this if it weren’t for you.
Spouse: Well, you’re all right, I’m all right, and everything else is replaceable.

Tracey and Heather were experimenting with a new pressure cooker that Tracey had ordered. Heather, who enjoys cooking and likes to experiment, wanted to try red beans and rice, with hot dogs added, for lunch. The resulting dish was spicy, warm and a little soupy, which was how I thought red beans and rice were supposed to be. Heather called it “glop” but liked the taste okay. The kids thought it was just fine, especially the hot dogs.

Heather and Tracey also made brownies. Seriously, if you are driven out of your house at 4:00 am, go to the place where they are making brownies.

Wanting to settle in a little bit, I went downstairs and started sorting through the three bags I brought.

In the trunk of my car already I had:

  • a sweatshirt
  • a water resistant coat
  • an umbrella
  • energy bars
  • water
  • flashlight

By design I had:

  • clothes for 4 days
  • extra medication
  • spare glasses (because I remember Iceland!)
  • toiletries
  • charger cords for the phone and both PCs
  • external hard drive
  • copy of my birth certificate and passport
  • some heirloom jewelry
  • our Trust
  • tax deductions folder
  • blood pressure cuff

By serendipity, I had:

  • several pens
  • several notebooks, including ones with notes and sections of current projects

I didn’t have:

  • personal photographs
  • artwork
  • items with emotional meaning
  • books that carry emotional meaning
  • any books other than the novella.

Fortunately, the room we were using is designated as Linda’s room, and it is half-filled with books. Many titles and authors I remembered from visiting Linda’s mainland houses before she moved. I picked up an Owen Archer history mystery by Candace Robb, and it kept me while we were there.

Sometime that evening, this conversation happened:

Spouse: I’m trying to think what I’m going to do if we go home and the house is gone.
Me: Well, you’re all right, and I’m all right, and everything else is replaceable.
Spouse: (Brief pause) Not everything! What about my 8-tracks?

Heather helped with dinner, creating a 1970s-era tuna noodle casserole. In the 70s I didn’t even like tuna noodle casserole, but this was delicious. I think that Heather, unlike my mom, is not afraid of spices. Anyway, it was good.

The wind finally, had died down.

Spouse and I went to bed.

Kahlia is already a whiz at Solitaire.

Day Three, Monday:  Monday dawned clear and smoky. The smoke wasn’t moving, but that was a good thing. The “wind event” had ended, but they were anticipating another one Tuesday through Wednesday. The fire had swung around slightly and headed east. There were still no fatalities, although there had been a few burn injuries and two of those were firefighters.

The fire nearly had doubled in acreage, but crews had halted its progress toward Windsor and Highway 101.

Oliver’s, managing with a generator, organization and lots of good will.

Oliver’s in Cotati was open on generator power. Tracey and I went there to stock up on provisions. They were quite well organized. They could take cash and credit cards, but not checks, because the check verification system was on another circuit.

Two people at the door of the store said they had eggs and butter only in the dairy (ish) section. They were moving meats and deli things… and selling LOTS of ice. In a couple of sections, battery-operated holiday lights festooned the shelves, adding visibility and a festive atmosphere. They had one staff person in nearly every aisle to offer assistance.

On Monday, we discovered that Sebastopol had been downgraded from “Evacuation Order” to “Evacuation Warning,” the status we’d been at on Saturday. There was still no power, and an anticipated wind event meant that the odds were good there would be no power before Thursday. Halloween was starting to look a bit dismal.

After a bit of discussion we decided to impose on Tracey and David one more night, and head back late morning on Tuesday.

Spouse and I went for a walk and critiqued the local Halloween decorations. This was my favorite.

Best decoration.

On Monday night I taught Lia to play Solitaire on my phone. She grasped the concept right away, but the face cards confused her because they don’t have numbers. When she went to bed, I tried to watch an episode of Classic Doctor Who, The Mark of the Rani. This was my first introduction to a female Time Lord (or Time Lady), a villain in her own right. According to Wikipedia, the Rani was not successful as a recurring villain along the lines of The Master (although I have a different perspective on Missy, now), but I have to say, she’d be great to cosplay. I sort of understood what was happening, but I was nodding off and so I never saw the brilliant secondary climax after The Master and the Rani get stuck on her TARDIS in a constantly accelerating mode as a T-rex fetus (yes, I said “fetus,” and I’m quoting the show) is growing, and coming to life. It appears the little mining town and the Industrial Revolution are both saved. I went to bed.

There was no wind. Our house was still intact. We were one day closer to Life as We Knew It.

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