Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fire! Fire on the Mountain!

We're hunkered down and watching as the largest fire in L.A. County since 1897 rages just a few miles from our house in Altadena. Since last Wednesday (8/26) the fire has been spreading and is now estimated at 140,150 acres (219 sq. mi.) - almost all inside the Angeles National Forest. So far no evacuation orders for our block, but a previous evacuation order was issued for an area just a few streets west of us. Fire fighters are stationed at the north end of the streets that abut the forest, watching the hills and ready to give us the order. There's been little wind and the smoke has been heading away from our home, but there have been a couple days of intense smokiness inside the house.

On Saturday we packed up our 2 cats and headed south for the day. We came back home that night after the smoke cleared out, but have kept our bags packed. Yet another surreal situation this year that I thought I would only see in movies and Internet chain questionnaires: "If you had just a few minutes to gather up your most valuable possessions, what would you take?" It turns out I don't care about photos, jewelry, old letters, etc. What I seem to care about now is all my medical paperwork. Très romantique, right? Since I can't bring filing cabinets, four paper grocery bags stuffed with files are lined up by the front door, ready to go.

One of our neighbors maintains a great community blog, which has been the best source of information about the fire (way better than any "news" outfit):
Although the blog host posts regular updates, the best information is in the comments section, as people write the latest information they've received directly from fire personnel and report which way the fire is moving. The blog is building community and connections here that I think will last beyond this crisis.

Did you know that the lungs are the source of chi in the body? I did not know that. I was informed of this fact by my acupuncturist when I tried to cancel my appointment this week and was told it was imperative that I come in! I'm not coughing or feeling anything in my lungs, but there is ash in the air (and on the lawn and on the car), so I'm staying inside with windows closed (and I went to my appointment).

My health has been good - still some discomfort around the ribs from my surgery in June, but otherwise I'm okay. I'll be going in for blood tests/treatment next week, so we'll see if the tumor markers are still low. And in a couple weeks I'll have a PET scan and that will show any new changes.

A producer from the program "NOW on PBS" contacted me and said they were interested in my story for an upcoming healthcare reform episode. Not sure if anything will come of this, but she said they might come out at the beginning of Sept. for filming. She found my story on the Obama Healthcare Stories website.

Here's a link to the subject song by the Grateful Dead: