Friday, February 04, 2011

Happy Birthday Karyn!

It all Started here...2/4/60 at 3:54 in the morning!

Wow! A 13-inch head? Awesome.

                                                                                      ---she liked it NOT!


Baby Karyn at San Francisco Beach

And then a small montage of the trip to Europe a couple years ago to pick up a car. First stop Germany, then Lausanne, Switzerland and a couple days at the beautiful Beau Rivage Palace (see the view from our window...chess anyone?), then Rome, then Florence, then Venice....last year on her birthday, Karyn was in the hospital getting ready to have her appendix removed, so this year, a small reminder of one of her favorite memories...the Trip of a Lifetime.

She said a simple Happy Birthday would do...but this is more fun!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

...And a Very Happy New Year

How perfect! After days of biblical proportion storms, we saw this double rainbow outside our back door and decided to consider it a very good omen for 2011.

We weren't at all good about sending cards this season, so we're sending this beautiful rainbow to all our friends and family. Wish we could be with each and every one of you this Holiday, but if what's in our hearts counts, we're SO there!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year From T & K
and Teddy and Dolly

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fishin' and Bloggin'

(This blackmail photo reluctantly approved)

The weather has been increasingly hot (and even humid) this past few days, so I was not surprised to discover I had overslept yesterday. I woke up about 9:30, and as I had to leave for work an hour later, I hurried to the kitchen for the first cuppa Joe, and wondered idly why Karyn hadn't sent the hounds in to awaken me. As I entered the kitchen, some movement in the family room caught my eye. I stopped dead in my tracks at the exact same minute I saw a man sitting in one of the leather club chairs and Karyn shouting out "Good Morning, it's Uncle Nick---are you dressed?"

Well, I believe I was some kind of dressed but the instinct to cover myself up manifested itself in a hasty raising of the arms, a mild shriek (trust me, I'm NOT a shrieker, usually) and me scurrying back to the bedroom to get "really" dressed. I stood in the closet, and tried to think what to wear. I settled on shorts and a t-shirt, and re-joined the coffee klatch in the family room.

After hugs and kisses and lots of laughing I said to Uncle Nick,
"I'm not gonna lie---I was somewhat surprised (uh...totally thunderstruck!) to find a man in my living room."

I didn't say it then, but later I confessed to Karyn that I thought the refrigerator had broken down, again, and the man was from GE. The badge on his belt and the weapon on his hip would have clued me in, but without coffee, I'm pretty clueless. Besides, my eyes weren't focused. And really? She didn't look awake enough to call GE...but I couldn't figure all that out in the nano-second of surprise.

So after a great visit and some photos, which Karyn says I must stipulate are "blackmail" photos, so OK, they are blackmail photos (she had only been up ten minutes longer than me), I decided I better get ready for work. I was in my closet, again, when I heard some ruckus in the bedroom. When I came out of the closet, no pun intended, I saw the gun case for the 20-gauge shotgun had been opened and the gun was missing. Now we've had this weapon for three years, under the bed, but we didn't know how to load it. So....yep, you guessed it, Uncle Nick!

Unfortunately he said the bullets were 8-shot and would just piss an intruder off; so, he recommended we pump it several times in a row and aim for the heart. Oh yeah, dayam! That would piss me off if I were the recipient! Oh my. I think Karyn will be doing that shooting!

Uncle Nick said he reads the blog all the time. I sheepishly said, well, I take some poetic license with the facts....there's some exaggeration in there.

Not a problem for Uncle Nick. He looked at me sternly, raised his hand, and said:
"There's no sin in lyin' when it comes to fishin', bloggin'."

Go, Nick! Damn, we love that guy! Having said that, I suppose I ought to tell my 9 readers (yes! I've gained two in the past couple months!) just who Uncle Nick really is.

Well, "the man in my living room" is from Lake County, in Northern California, and he is indeed Karyn's Uncle Nick, and Karyn's mom Kay's brother. And Teresa's husband. And Nicole's papa. And Staff Photographer Kimberly's uncle, too. He continually tells me I'm not only a part of the family, but a welcome part. So he's also my Uncle Nick, the way I see it.

Nick Bennett, a law enforcement legend in Lake County, CA, and currently an Investigator, Senior Officer for that County, had been on a top-secret mission in San Bernardino County CA. If you know anything about The Inland Empire, as it's somewhat facetiously called, then you know it's best to keep things secret. I can't say what actual city he was in, but it involved a rather high-level and ultra Confidential background check. I didn't smell cordite, so I don't believe Uncle Nick had used his weapon, but, of course, he'd neither confirm nor deny the details of his mission. ::sigh:: Cops! But I decided then and there he could stay for breakfast if he wanted. And lunch. And dinner. Actually, he'd be welcome to live here.

Now...about that fishing and blogging...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fire Update 4:30 pm PST 7/30/10

Update 5:35pm: We were NOT evacuated, and it looks like the DC-10 that was brought in to drop massive amounts of fire retardant really did its job. We were in the middle of what was meant to be a nap, after last night's exhausting fire vigil, when the amount of fire-fighting air power overhead woke us up, making that nap a 20-minute descent into what sounded like Viet Nam. The California Aqueduct is just on the other side of the hill behind us, and those pilots were zooming in and out of there like race car drivers with wings.

So, we're fine, but now we know that until they get this fire fully under control, the vicissitudes of the famous Antelope Valley wind is a game changer that no one can predict.

Joshua: Enduring Symbol of High Desert

The iconic Joshua Tree against the backdrop of a water-dropping helicopter and smoke covered Sun, during yesterday's Antelope Valley fire, captures the drama of the event.

Photograph By Brian van de Brug of The Los Angeles Times.

We're OK, But Lazy T Ranch Is Not!

The morning after (right) Mop-up crews begin to arrive in front of our house. You can still see the smoke in the background from the smoldering embers.

All Fire Photos: AP Photos/Dave Mills

Oh, Noes! Not the Lazy T Ranch! Most of it is actually still standing, but I thought this would be a great name for a new blog....The Lazy T! (No, not planning another blog right now! Besides, I'm not lazy; I'm a professional napper. There's a difference.)

Dave Mills, AP photographer, took some dramatic shots of the fire that covered many of the western ridges surrounding Leona Valley and Rancho Vista areas of Palmdale. This morning the mop-up crews are cleaning up some of the hot spots, while the fixed wing tankers and water-dropping helicopters put the remaining flames down.

So...we're exhausted, but safe and sound, and the home is intact. The pugs are disoriented, and the hill behind us is still smoking. But another fire truck just pulled up in front of the house, so the mop ups begin. They begin in the house, too, as the ash fell for 18 hours yesterday, and we managed to drag 10 hours of it inside. There's a path from the garage, through the house to the back yard patio where we wore a trail throughout the night as we ran back and forth for different vantage points. The bottom of the pool is covered in black ash, the surface home to a billion floating pieces of charred...everything.

2 A.M. Update: All Safe From Fire

The first photo is the hill right to the west of our house, the second shows one of many Joshua tree groves that dot the hillside back lit by flames, and the third shot is one of four LA Fire Department engine trucks parked at the end of our driveway. Sorry about the quality of my pictures, but the real cameras were already packed in the getaway vehicle and the iPhone is not so good at night.

All safe so far, the firemen will spend the night in front of the house, we're hoping the winds lay down, and our nerves are shot from more adrenalin rush than I knew was possible! Thanks to all the family and friends who called, or tried to, and the offers of places to stay. We love you all but hope we won't be visiting any time in the next few hours!!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Video of Fire Near Us

Fire within a half mile...see it at link below. We're fine. Two huge fire engines parked outside our house (we have a fire hydrant across the street). They started to evacuate us, then said wait, and now we're concerned because the winds are picking up. We'll report more if able. Sorry the quality of this video isn't very good---it's my first! ttt

SoCal Fire Report: Raining Smoke

It's not close to us---at least 10 miles---but you can see our sky is saturated with smoke and sun, and then it just began looking like smoke rain. That's our screened-in sun room, and that's our 'smokey' pink Oleander. We could use a good would be perfect!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

New Staff Photographer: Meet Kimberly

The newly designed Opinionhead features a headliner photo taken at The Huntington Library, a couple weeks ago, by the ever popular sister, sister-in-law and recent house guest to the Opinionhead household. I refer here to the Grand Partaker, Mrs. Kimberly M. Cecchini of San Francisco. An accomplished interior designer, and amazing photographer, Kimberly has exquisite taste, and we can only hope that she concurs with our choice of color palette to showcase her gorgeous photography. Watch for more soon!

Summer Redecorating

I'm fairly certain that Architectural Digest will not mind that I'm celebrating the new look of Opinonhead by pinching their cover, but, just in case, go here for a subscription. And heaven knows Cher probably doesn't need any more publicity--I mean if you were Cher would you rather be on the cover of AD or the cover of Opinionhead? Thought so. But Cher is a fave, so she stays (unless the attorneys say, uh, no). But here's a link to Cher, anyway.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Google Docs and Some Help From My Friends

My Mac is Back!

On 12/7/09, I finished the first draft of my novel. Since that time, I have been busy editing it. Only three copies of the first draft existed in the world, the night I went to work on my copy of the first draft (which, technically, would be a fourth copy of the first draft, except that I had done a massive amount of editing on my copy). Two copies went to friends, who live on opposite sides of the globe, and the reactions to the draft were almost as far apart in terms of response.

One friend basically liked it. The other read 16 pages and said something along the lines of "When the hell does the story begin, these first few pages are valuable real estate and oh by the way that was a cheap trick on page 6. A real person wouldn't do that! I won't allow it." I'm paraphrasing, but it was along those lines. (Thank G-d she didn't read the cheap trick on page 29!) I mention the latter because while I was glad that the first friend liked the book, I didn't hear copious amounts of love, and the comments from the second friend I found terribly helpful in that terrible massacre sort of way that makes one feel like wrist slitting is an option but only in front of a couple friends who can save one's life.

Both of the people who read whatever part each read are brilliant writers and multi-published authors. They are very different in their styles and content, and I like to read both of them. So anyway, when Mrs Clinton, I mean, Ms. Congeniality, expressed her dismay at the first 16 pages, I immediately knew her comments were exactly correct. No really, I was glad to be saved from myself, and though another person might have put it...ah, differently, I've always counted on this friend for the unvarnished, jesus-that-wood-is-peeling truth. I was assured I could do better. So I asked the first friend to stop reading until I could send her a hugely revised version. She agreed.

I began to revise. I revised on my my copy of the first draft. I did not back those revisions up. One night I tried to open Safari and the Grey Screen of Death showed up. Ten minutes later, the grey screen had a large question mark in the middle of it. The question mark symbol was probably Apple's sense of humor, as in 'what are you going to do now that you're really f***ed?'

My iMac hard drive had gone to heaven, and I was in hell. However...

Free Dinner!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

High Desert Snow: Day and Night

So far in Southern California, it's been 40 hours of pounding, monsoon-like rain, tornadoes, mudslides, debris flow, over-flowing catch basins, power outages, jack-knifed trucks, spun-out cars, flooded streets, flooded freeways, rock slides, waterspouts, high surf, sleet, snow and gale force winds---still, the BIG storm is expected this evening and tomorrow, with more snow on Saturday!

We got the snow, the rain, the sleet, the rock slides and the gale force winds. Fortunately, our resident landscape designer, had just last week put down the cedar chips winter mulch, so, hopefully, no one outside will freeze.

Ah, Paradise!

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Book She is Complete!

Well...first draft. (See sidebar).

Why yes, yes it was hard! And I loved writing it!

More news when my other readers get a copy.

I'd tell you the title, but then I'd'll just have to wait.

Thank you to everyone who urged me to the finish line.

Editing begins next week.

Friday, October 09, 2009

A Different Bird in Paradise?

The photo above is supposed to be Impatiens psittacina, also called the Parrot Flower, at least on the Internet. It is, allegedly, a rare, endangered species, native to northern Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), and northern India. Apparently it is a Federal crime in those countries to attempt to export either the flower or the seeds. Wondering if anyone has actually seen one of these beauties in person?

According to numerous sources, which are apparently quoting from an unnamed original source, "The Impatiens are part of a morphologically diverse family, called Balsaminaceae, which has about a thousand representatives that are mainly distributed in the tropics and subtropics. The family Balsaminaceae consists of only two Genera: Hydrocera and Impatiens."

Impatiens is by far the largest and inhabits all continents except South America and Australia. Hydrocera has only one species confined to tropical Asia. One of the features that separates Impatiens from the rest of the plant kingdom is the explosive nature of the seeds. Through a process knows as 'explosive dehiscence,' the ripe seed pods explode under extreme pressure when disturbed, scattering the seeds far and wide, sometimes more than twenty feet from the parent plant.

The flower shapes of impatiens come in many different forms, and all have the ability to change sex. When an impatiens flower first opens it is male and after a few days this pollen cap is shed to reveal the female organs underneath. This evolutionary safety net is to keep the plant from self-pollination but it doesn't always work. Some species naturally set seed without even opening their flowers; this is called being cleistogamous. Some of the species have even gone one step further in that it is self-sterile and needs another of the same species in order to set seed.

Self-pollination, it seems, can weaken the species. After a combination of checking with this handy site and the ever helpful Google, I found one poster who found this:

"Evolutionary biologists and population ecologists view this mixed breeding system as a highly successful strategy for producing genetically diverse new plants from chasmogamous flowers and other new plants very similar to the parental genotypes from cleistogamous flowers. The mixed breeding system is found in many distantly related plant families and has recently been proposed as a vehicle for containment of transgenic modifications in plant groups where it could be induced. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this fascinating system have never been investigated."

Wow---and I thought I had just found a pretty picture! Nature is amazing---a flower that can change its sex, shoot its seeds out into the world like a canon shot and trys to protect itself from self-pollination with trickery that sometimes backfires. Sounds a lot like humans!

But is the flower above real? Does it actually exist in the world...or just in a clever person's photo manipulation? This person sure does go to a great deal of trouble to convince his readers that the flower, as seen above, is real. In 1901, Botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker wrote an entry for Kew Gardens about Impatiens psittacina, and it was accompanied by a drawing shown at the bottom of the linked page. If you look at the drawing and then the closeup of one section of the drawing...hmmmm.

Are you convinced? I'm skeptical, but I have a friend who has a friend who knows a botanist from Down Under....Help!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Birthday to Ann

A Very Happy Birthday to my friend, Ann Somerville, astoundingly wonderful author and all-around special person. Of course, she's in Australia, so, technically, I guess her special day was yesterday, but, I'm not, so I say it's today! Happy Birthday to you...see you in the City by the Bay in November!

Friday, September 11, 2009

September Sunset 9/11/09

Photos by Karyn, Canon Powershot S80

Update on (Clunker) Jimmy (Jack)

Well, Jimmy is recuperating, and he has a new home with our vet tech, Cathy. Despite beginning to fall in love with Jimmy over the 55 hours he spent with us, we weren’t really prepared to have another animal at the time Jimmy appeared, but we knew we’d keep him long enough to make sure he would live.

He is happily ensconced at the home of our vet tech, Cathy, who Jimmy met Tuesday morning when he was taken to our regular vet for a thorough examination. Whenever we picked him up, his skin would crackle, and he seemed to tire very easily. Still, for the three days we had him, he ate regularly, tried to befriend the not very resilient Pugs, and was generally a love and a good boy---very polite, very, very sweet.

The doctor thinks that Jimmy might have a small hole in one of his lungs, and he could require a great deal of special medical care, medication and possibly surgery to get back to normal. Certainly he will have more tests. As we already have one special needs child in the person of The Dolly Lambi, two seemed more than we could take on at this time. (Dolly was paralyzed in her hind quarters at age four by hyper extending her body on her back legs trying to get some food off the kitchen counter {so very pug-like}, and although her paralysis was not permanent, the damage from it was, and she wobbles on her back legs, is very unsteady, and is in need of being watched at all times).

But, the the main consideration was where would Jimmy get the very best treatment and care available. The vet tech would be able to provide that to Jimmy at a fraction of the cost (possibly free, except for meds), and best of all, she and her husband have been placing strays in loving homes for years. In fact, just the week prior, she placed a dog that looks very much like Jimmy with a lady in her church.

However, to make sure Jimmy wasn’t some nice person’s little love, the Doctor scanned his chip. It turns out that his given name was Jack, but the phone was disconnected. Further investigation revealed the street he lived on is in a very bad area, and we suspect that given the distance from us, he was most likely dumped in a good area, but, after checking all the usual places over the past five days, we can say with certainty that no one is looking for Jimmy. Which, in this case, means no more heartbreak for Jimmy.

Jack is now officially Jimmy, and Cathy reports that he’s off the pain meds, responding very well to the antibiotics, and, best of all, he has been drinking water, which is something he did not do for the first three days. The way we got water into him was intravenously at the ER hospital we first took him to, and by adding water to his meals at home, which he ate and slurped with great gusto.

When we got him, or should I say, when he got us, he was so matted and dirty that we had to cut the burrs and sticks and brambles out of him with a scissors. We gave him a sponge bath, but knew he was too fragile for a full grooming. Yesterday, Cathy the vet tech, decided to give Jimmy a make-over, so he could have a fresh new start, again, so she shaved him, took a picture of him and told him his official name is, in fact, Jimmy. Each day she dresses all his sores and wounds, and by the time we got him to our own vet, he had gained one pound. He was barely six pounds when he found us. Oddly, we called him Jack a few times when trying to guess his name, and he didn’t respond at all. We’re pretty certain that being Jack wasn’t fun, wasn’t a good life. The medical team at the vets felt that given his injuries, Jimmy was abused, possibly by a second owner.

Karyn cried all day after she left Jimmy with the vet tech, but we both knew it was the best decision for everyone, especially Jimmy. Today, we realized something else. It was the story of Jimmy, how he sat outside our gate, ran into her arms, was the best houseguest anyone could hope for and never complained about anything, even being that sick---it’s that story that pulled at our heartstrings so much. We’ve known Cathy for six years, and she is probably the only person in this town to whom we would have entrusted Jimmy. And we know that she is very careful when placing adoptees---she interviews them, checks out the home, really does her due diligence when it comes to placing the four-legged children.

So…Jack became Clunker became Jimmy, and although Cathy has sent us daily reports, we already know that this is going to be a HEA ending. If Jimmy can get his health back, and he is, after all, a survivor, then someone is going to have a wonderful companion, and a lot of love. Already, several people who have met Jimmy want him!

After his make-over, Cathy put Jimmy on top of her car to keep him still while she snapped this photo because her two German Shepherds love him and all they wanted to do was play, and Jimmy is way overdue for some serious play time!

Thanks to everyone who posted and wrote to us about the lovely boy Jimmy. We’ll be sure to post an “After” picture when his hair grows out.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Look Who Showed Up at the Front Gate this Morning


THE DOLLY LAMBI "Tell me this is not another boy."
Teddy Valentine: "No, nothing's wrong. Why?"

Completely matted, with stickers and burrs and dirt everywhere, this little boy with pure white curls stood at our gate and ignored Teddy's ferocious barking and just waited for a kind human being to invite him in. He ran into her arms. He was completely sweet, docile and in some kind of pain. We decided to take him to the Emergency Vet because we knew he wasn't a young puppy, and yet he wasn't fixed. He seemed exhausted, frightened and very hungry. We came to a quick decision. This little personable dog had not been well treated or he was a runaway who had run into some big trouble. He screamed when we touched his back. And we know for a fact that people abandon dogs in the desert area all the time. We've rescued seven lost dogs in the past few years, and they were all happily reunited with their owners. They were all in pretty good shape when they came to our gate....but there was just something about Jimmy....

I went to work and Clunker's new Mommy took him to the vet. The minute I saw him, I knew he was going to cost some serious cash. Cash for Clunker? Uh, no, Mommy said, way no.

Hours later I got a phone call. The vet said he had suffered some kind of blunt force trauma, but she couldn't find anything broken. He walks just fine. He was dehydrated so they gave him fluids intravenously, gave him antibiotics because we had no history, took a blood panel to make sure his kidneys were working, and gave him some effective pain meds. He is chipped, but the chip is not from anywhere around here.

Our scenario, which may or may not be true, is that he has been mistreated because he cowers when one first pets him; then he crawls right up into one's arms and falls asleep. We drove around looking for signs, but saw none. I've checked the lost and found in the newspaper. We'll call the SPCA on Tuesday and see if anyone has reported him missing. He had no collar. We don't think anyone is looking for him. Or maybe we just hope no one is. But if he's someone's sweetheart, we want to find out who and kick the shit out of 'em. No, I mean, we would, of course, try to unite any loved ones.

I think he's ours, now, and his name is Jimmy. He cost $299 to put him back in running order, and if he stays, he'll get tutored. The black and now mostly grey Dolly Lambi, our eldest pug, age fourteen and half, is not happy. Teddy Valentine, our two-year old pug, is not happy. But both pugs seems to be behaving a bit better than their usual spoiled selves. Jimmy, very quite, and very polite, thinks we said thugs, not Pugs. But he's too sweet to say so to their faces.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Making Progress...and Helping Out

Martine Colette, Wildlife Waystation

(California wildfires light the hillsides of the Tujunga area of Los Angeles on Monday, Aug. 31, 2009 . (AP Photo/John Lazar))

This photo of fire is the scene I saw on the drive home from work night before last that I made reference to in a post the day before yesterday. The new front of the fire is the Big and Little Tujunga canyon areas of Los Angeles. This front is at the opposite end of the fire from us, at a distance of about 40 miles.

Yesterday brought the on-shore breezes and higher humidity being attributed to Hurricane Jimena, approaching Cabo San Lucas, but the temperature was high 90s, low 100s, and although the fires still burn, the reports put containment of the Station Fire (nearest us) at 22%. We are fine and not in any danger at all. Thanks for the concern and good wishes. It really made us realize how connected we all really are.

As the city was completely enveloped in a cloud cover and a smoke shroud yeserday, I only saw a couple huge flareups on the distant mountains above Acton. Although Action is only about 16 miles from us, the amount of smoke coming our way this past couple days made it seems as though the fire were just over the next ridge; it's actually farther than 16 miles because it's up and down the mountain ridges that surround Action, although it did progress down the mountain sufficiently to warrant evacuation of much of the rural Acton community.

The big news today was the trouble The Wildlife Waystation was having finding enough cages to take out the bigger animals, as flames tore down Tujunga Canyon. As an alternative, firefighters set risky backfires to push the flames away from the WW, and it worked. As of this morning (9/2), all the animals left at the sanctuary are safe.

Wildlife Waystation (WW) houses about 400 animals, many of them disabled, and is a place I was introduced to over 15 years ago by singer Dusty Springfield, a friend. The WW was one of her favorite causes and chosen non-profit charities, but she didn't give only money. Often, she would visit and pitch in and help around the grounds whenever she could. There's always work to be done in place like WW.

The woman who started the WW is Martine Colette, a real scrapper of a Frenchwoman who has devoted her entire life to saving a variety of large animals (mostly), many of whom started out as pets by people too stupid to realize these animals get big and need a lifetime of care and protection once they are in any kind of captivity.

Today, two chimps got loose on their way to their evacuation headquarters at the LA Zoo. One headed for the small primate and bird sanctuary of the zoo (Whohoo, look at me!), and was tranquillized by dart gun within 20 minutes. The other chimp was on the lam for nearly an hour, but was eventually found and finally coaxed into her cage by her trainer. Griffith Park had to be closed while authorities hunted for the runaway. Truth is, the evacuations have completely traumatized the animals, and these kids aren't easy to move under any circumstances.

But in a cruel twist of irony, the day before the fires started, the Wildlife Waystation put out a press release about a different kind of emergency. It's out of money, due largely to having to close the facility to the public over a year ago as it was unable to meet certain LA County requirements. Evidently it takes about $5000 per day to feed all the animals and provide them with veterinary oversight. Anyway, like so many of the animal rescue and/or sanctuary operations that begin as someone's labor of love, the daily coin of the realm is always so much more than expected. Anyway, you might want to take a look at their website, and pass this story on to anyone else who might be able to lend a hand to the Wildlife Waystation.

In every fire and natural disaster, it's the faces of the vulnerable and helpless, people and animals, that strike a chord within us.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Still Here!

Good Morning Everyone,

Hey the prayers and good wishes must have been heard---we're still here, and actually I'm going to work today as the Freeway appears to be open. There's still plenty of smoke in the sky, but I'm sure the Super Scoopers were flying early this morning. If the winds cooperate, things could turn the corner. I'll try to get some pictures as I drive through Acton, on my way to work. The real test of how much the fire is contained will be this evening after the Sundowner winds come up. I'll be driving home at 8:30 p.m. my time, getting home around 10 p.m. Will update then and whenever I can during the day. Thanks you guys!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fire Update: 10:00 p.m., 30 August 2009

Sadly, two firefighters died today when their vehicle overturned fighting the monstrous Angeles National Forest fire. They lost their lives defending the LaCanada/Flintridge area. The fire area closest to us, in Acton, is now being called The Station Fire. As awful as the fires are, it's pretty demoralizing to realize that some of them were arson. The authorities do not think the original source of the fire was arson, but at one point today, suspicious spot fires were popping up all over the various routes located alongside freeways leading to areas of the Angeles National Forest. Some of this area has not burned for 60 years, so it's pretty much a tinderbox.

Also, Shambala Preserve, the large cat sanctuary, started by actress Tippi Hedren was threatened a couple hours ago, but heroic efforts by the kind of helicopters you see above saved the Preserve. The entire staff is sleeping there and are ready to evacuate if necessary, an evacuation that would be difficult under good circumstances, never mind a raging fire.

Above you see the last of today's pictures, including the delicious cafe au lait personally made for this roving reporter by her Editor-in-Chief, Karyn, with assistance from freelance photographer, Kimberly.

Here's a recap of where we're at at this hour: The fire has burned 100,000 acres, covering nearly 66 square miles; three people were injured, in addition to the loss of life mentioned above; 18 residence have been destroyed, mostly cabins in the Angeles Forest, but 12,000 homes are currently threatened at various fronts along the 130-mile fireline; the cost of fighting the fire, thus far, is $7.7 Million, and rising; the fire is only 5% contained, but the two Super Scoopers have arrived at Van Nuys Airport in the San Fernando Valeey, and are scheduled to attack the Station Fire (Acton area) at first light.

The skies above us are red/orange, even in the dark, but I think we're good for the night, so over and out and thanks for all your letters and posts.

Fire Update: 5:49 p.m., 30 August 2009

OK, we're fine, but this thing is whipping up something fierce. If you look at the map above, we're located directly across from the Rancho Vista golf course in the nearby foothills--we are to the right of Warwick Park, by about 3 miles. The yellow area is the area within which they are trying to contain the fire. The red area, which is a couple hours old, is where the fire was---it has progressed into a third of the yellow area.

The Mt Wilson area has some bad news: Atop Mt. Wilson is the entire Los Angeles communication center---towers for every television and radio station and much of the telephone transmission centers, as well as the "repeater" transmission towers for the emergency notification system. The fire fighting arsenal has been pulled off the Mt. Wilson lines due to extreme safety hazards to crews. Unless the direction, heat and intensity change, fire officials expect Mt. Wilson to be extensively damaged.

The backyard pictures are from our house, the horse and trailer photo from the Acton foothills (Courtesy KNX).

As dusk is about two hours from now, the Night Shift of the fire fighting efforts is moving into place. That means the pictures we show of the air arsenal are the last of the day shift flights. The larger airplanes cannot fly at night, and the time between now and dusk is largely the purview of water-dropping helicopters and strategically positioned strike teams on the ground. With the speed, heat and wind fueling the bone-dry terrain into small infernos dotting the hillsides and ridges of the nearby mountains, the fire fighting equipment and personnel is definitely inadequate to keep this fire from moving closer to us. We need a major wind shift. Or as they say in Hollywood, some "good" Force Majeure!