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Posts Tagged ‘smoke’

I am uncharacteristically grumpy today. Usually I try to at least begin my days in a sunny and upbeat mood. This morning was no exception. I sat quietly next to the cat enjoying a steaming hot cup of coffee, watched enough news to want to turn it off, and read a couple of affirmations to help jump start my positive energy. When my smile was adjusted perfectly on the lower half of my face, I set off to have a productive day. Over the course of the morning, one call came in after another. It seemed each person on the other end of the line was either upset by what’s going on in our world, or upset by something going on in theirs. Before long, the barometer on my end seemed to adjust to the mood shift, and my smile began to droop slightly along the edges. There is no denying the outside world is a bit rough to deal with lately. The persistent virus continues spreading like wildfire, and in our area, the wildfires are spreading like, well, viruses. People are feeling unsettled and irritable. I caught the mood from someone somewhere along the way, and now seem to be a carrier.

Adding to the macabre feeling of gloom and doom, the outside air is heavy with smoke and the sun is surrounded by an eerie crimson ring. Reminds me of one summer up at the lake, where Rick and I bought our first house. It was our third summer in that house, and it was a long, and tedious season, we referred to as the “red summer”. Fires raged on all sides of us during most of the hotter months. An ever present reddish cloud hung ominously over our heads. Even when the blinds were shut, the reddish glow managed to seep in through the cracks. My asthma was as bad as it has ever been. Worried about my health, Rick planned an escape in an effort to find some fresher air. “ROAD TRIP“. Immediately, I jumped at the idea. Had it simply been a matter of us hopping in the car and heading for the open highway, we would have been gone that day. However, there was also Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, to consider. Boo, is not a good traveler. In a normal situation, our regular pet sitter would have been the obvious solution. Boo could have remained at home with all her creature comforts. But, with fires nipping at the fringes of our county, it didn’t seem prudent to leave her behind. So, it was either take my feisty feline along for the ride, or stay home and wait for fall to arrive. As miserable as the conditions were, the decision to take her with us was was not one we made easily. We’d traveled with the cat before. It was not an experience fraught with heady, happy memories. Only once before, actually, and on a relatively short trip to my mother’s house in the Bay Area.

The trip going down to my mother’s passed uneventfully. Boo howled annoyingly part of the way, but we tried to tune her out. On the way home, we decided to allow her to roam free in the back seat in an effort to keep the complaining (both on her part and ours) to a minimum. We were just pulling out of my mother’s 55 and up housing community, when I caught sight of Boo out of the corner of my eye. The cat was standing on her hind legs looking out the window in the back seat. While I watched, she placed one paw on the control button for the window and down the window went. Sensing an avenue of escape, Boo plunged out the window into the oncoming traffic. At that point, I lost my composure, and began yelling for Rick to stop. By the time he pulled to the side of the road and I got out, Boo somehow made it safely to the meridian, and was hunkered down under some plants and shrubs with only her tail visible. Praying she would not make a run towards me, I waited for the remaining cars to pass, and ran to where the cat was hiding. Finally, after coaxing, pleading, and perhaps some ardent begging, she climbed into my arms and I got her back in the car. Releasing her to the back seat, one of her claws got stuck in the skin over my left thumb. Panicking and still terrified, she sprang out of my arms taking half the skin off the top of my thumb with her. In seconds, a gusher rose up out of the gash. I was staring at my mangled hand while Rick, unaware anything was amiss, was looking out the window trying to merge into on coming traffic. Seeing my hand when he turned back, his mouth hung open. Again we pulled over, this time to try to stop the blood flow. The only paper in the car was a map, so Rick grabbed his tee shirt and wrapped it around the side of my hand. First, he asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I’m not fond of ER’s. We would have been there for hours, and again, we had the cat. If no medical attention was forthcoming, it was obvious I would at least need some kind of first aid items so we pulled into a drug store parking lot. Leaving him in the car, I went inside looking like the victim of a shark attack. I asked the lady behind the counter where I might find bandaids. Horrified, she suggested a local Doc in the Box instead, but I declined. I bought first aid cream, disinfectant and bandages. By the time we got home my thumb looked like an over inflated water balloon. Amazingly, I didn’t get an infection, and my thumb remained attached where it was intended to be next to the four fingers associated with it. But, when it came to traveling with the cat once again, you can understand how I might be hesitant to give it another go. To add to my trepidation, this trip was to take us much farther afield. First, to a friend’s house on the outskirts of Boise, Idaho, then west to Oregon to visit another friend of mine living in Ashland. Three weeks was to be the total time away from home.

Even though we would not be in the vehicle the entire time, the thought of those moments shared with Boo in between destinations was a bit daunting. One thing we had learned from our first debacle was to ensure the “child lock” was on when the cat was in the car so her window trick couldn’t be repeated. The SUV was a good sized vehicle, but with Boo loose inside, a tour bus didn’t seem like it would provide us with enough wiggle room. The reason she has to be loose is because if confined to her much detested crate, caterwauling ensues until you give in out of total desperation and let her out. After about two hours of the endless yowling, your mind begins to unravel. Images of the cat sitting by the side of the road with a sign around her neck reading “Free Kitty” begin to pervade your brain.

Another bump in the road, aside from the above, was locating pet friendly accommodations along the route we were to be following. Hotels or motels allowing furry friends were few and far between crossing Northern Nevada at the time, particularly along Highway 50, touted as the loneliest road in the United States.

After some research, a motel was found and booked. We went through the usual song and dance associated with getting the cat in the crate to transport her to the car. Sophisticated secret agent avoidance tactics must be employed to stealthily maneuver the cat into crate without her knowing this is the desired end result. If Boo sees the crate, game over. Get a beer out of the fridge and relax on the couch for a few hours until she resurfaces. I swear she’s a shape shifter. When she wants not to be seen, you can look under every bed, in the back of every closet, and behind all the furniture and no furry face will be looking back at you. I believe Boo morphs into a potted plant on the window seat. I could swear I saw a blinking eye in the middle of the wandering Jew. Successfully completing our mission, Boo was loaded in the car with the rest of our gear. Relaxing a bit, we gassed up and headed out of town.

Leaving the red sky behind as we made our way east, felt like dropping a heavy burden you’d been carrying onto the ground. My lungs, though already impacted by the incessant onslaught of tiny particles, were even feeling somewhat less restricted. Boo began her siren song about five miles down the road, but after a while even tired of the game herself, and found a place to settle down on top of some duffel bags for a nice long nap. Quiet returned to our world.

Entering Nevada, we began our trek across the high desert. Looking out the window there wasn’t much to see beyond cactus and tumbleweeds, but possibly more cactus and tumbleweeds. Occasionally, a road sign would pop up or an abandoned building could be seen hinting at some sort of life form existing out there. Pretty much, though, it was mile after mile of the similar nondescript scenery. Deserts are not my favorite part of the world. I do have to admit they offer up a certain sort of stark beauty. Coming from an area replete with green forests and deep blue seas, I think for me I find them a bit one note. All the muted and subdued colors blending together in a melange feels desolate and bleak, like a property abandoned by it’s owner, all overgrown and scruffy.

My step daughter is always trying to sell me on desert living. She lives in Phoenix, has for many years, and loves it. I am not a person who enjoys extremely hot weather. Perhaps it’s because I hail from a colder climate, or it could be as simple as I don’t like hot weather. For me temps in the eighties are perfect. I can live with 90’s, but when the thermometer starts pushing up over 100 I’m all about air conditioning and swimming pools. In Phoenix during the heat of the summer the average temperature ranges around 106. Not for me. Nope. Also, when it starts to really amp up and climbs into the hundreds and teens, even the swimming pool isn’t an option because it will cook you like a crab in a pot. I can remember going on a trip to Arizona when my kids were toddlers. Their dad thought he wanted to go to college in Phoenix, so the visit was sort of a scouting expedition, to see if I would consider it. While checking out the campus, we walked out on the tennis courts to give the kids a chance to run off a little excess energy. The expedition was a short one. It was so incredibly hot, I had to abandon my tennis shoe on one of the courts because the sole melted onto the asphalt. For all I know, that blue Van slip on is still a permanent part of the back court.

In the end, all my worry about the trip to Idaho was for naught. Boo behaved herself most of the way. She rode along like the queen bee that she is, allowing her minions (that would have been us) to transport her in and out at our various stops and destinations, empty her litter box, and fill her feed bowl, without giving us much push back. The only real issue we had was coming back into California stopping at the California/Nevada border inspection. Boo, it appears, is considered to be an alien of sorts, in need of papers. Who knew? A certificate from the veterinarian is required stating that your animals have their pertinent vaccinations and are in good health before they are allowed to cross the state line. Oh-oh. Here I thought he would be more interested in the bag of peaches I had tucked away in my overnight bag. Darn. For a moment, I thought my dear sweet feline was going to have to be relinquished to kitty jail while we drove back to retrieve the necessary documents. We got lucky. The border patrol guard was either a really nice man, or in a good mood that day, because he allowed us to go through. Whew. As annoying as that old cat can be, she and I have been through a lot over the years and I have big love for her.

Driving over the hill and back into our town it was like driving back into the bowels of hell. Everything was still touched with a hint of red from the midday sky to the leaves on the trees.

Thankfully, here today the wind will come up and blow the smoke out of the valley so we will have a respite for a while. The problem is when it leaves here, people down wind have to deal with it. Also, more wind doesn’t bode well for the fires already burning.

What a strange couple of years it has been. We sit here dry as a bone hovering one spark away from disaster, while residents on the east coast are floating around in their backyards in kayaks. I heard Tennessee got 17 inches of rain in a two hour period. When all the bad vibes pile up on me, I try to remember to be thankful for all the gifts in my life and concentrate on that. So easy to allow a glass half empty mood to overcome you, if you let life take you down. Make it a good one. Hope your smile is perfectly placed for a Tuesday.

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