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    Thursday, June 28, 2012

    Waldo Canyon Fire

    Unless you live in the Land of Oz, you’ve probably heard about the Waldo Canyon Fire near and in Colorado Springs. We live on the northeast side of town and are safe, but we have friends who are still under evacuation and some who’ve lost their homes to the blaze. I think our whole town is in shock, nevertheless it’s amazing to see the community and all the organizations pulling together to fight this fire.

    This photo was taken from our house on Saturday shortly after the fire broke out.

    Over the next few days, the fire grew, edging closer to Colorado Springs and threatening smaller towns along Highway 24, which runs west from the Springs up to Woodland Park. Then on Tuesday, the situation exploded. The fire grew to three times its size, burning homes on the west side, and creating what authorities referred to as a perfect firestorm.

    This is the view out of my car window as the kids and I drove home from the movies on Tuesday afternoon. This was the beginning of that horrific firestorm.

    Soon after we got home, the smoke was thick and choking around our house. We watched as the news showed footage of people evacuating, gridlocked in traffic as they tried to flee the fire. Then, as the night continued, the news cameras focused on burning homes. Those are sights I’ll never forget. Out our bedroom window we could see flames on the night-darkened hillside. In fact, the view on most nights since the fire started has looked something like this.

    This is an extended exposure photo of Blodget Peak taken by Dave Soldano.

    Today we’ve heard good news and bad. 346 homes were burned Tuesday night. Tonight there was a meeting for families on 35 different streets in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood. They were informed if their home was one to go up in flames. Continued prayer is appreciated for those families and all those affected by the fire. But we did have a better day as far as the fire-fighting efforts go. They are at 10% containment at this time and have lifted a few of the mandatory evacuations.

    As I said before, I’m just astounded at the cooperation of those fighting this fire. Here’s a pic taken by Rick Colombo of a few of the firefighters.

    Talk about heroes!

    There are more than 2,000 people fighting this fire. Now, my friends and family know that I don’t care for personal contact, which doesn’t stop my boys from playing a game called “Hug Mommy till She Cries.” I have a big personal space bubble. But I would hug each and every one of those 2,000 firefighters if I could. Of course, it would probably take me around 5 years to recover from that much human contact. My husband might get lonely in that time, so it’s a good thing I can’t hug all those folks.

    But there is something I can do. Organizations like the Red Cross and Care and Share are releasing lists of needed items for the evacuees and the fire-fighters. This morning they mentioned the firefighters needed socks. When I was at Costco today, I saw cart after cart with multiple packages of socks, obviously intended for the firefighters. It sort of made me want to cry.

    I know it sounds trite, but it really is humbling to be able to provide items that will go directly to the evacuees and the firefighters. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. To buy a package of protein bars and know that a couple exhausted guys will cram them down before heading out to battle flames—Wow!

    Now if I only I could STOP eating like a firefighter. My body hasn’t gotten the message that watching the news while draped over a swamp cooler does not qualify as a crisis. I’m all about the comfort food and the ice cream right now.

    And my favorite exercise, walking the dog, is out of the question due to the smoke in the air and my asthma. When this is all over I’ll be a few pounds heavier, but so very grateful for what God had blessed me with.

    If you’d like to help with efforts in Colorado, here are a few links where you can donate.

    Red Cross

    Salvation Army

    Help Colorado Now

    And here’s a link to a photo essay from DenverPost.com. It’s indescribable.

    Monday, June 18, 2012

    The Summer I Lived with a Mime and a Grizzly Bear

    Raise your hand if you’ve cleaned slushy out of your car seats in the past two weeks.

    Yeah. It’s definitely summer now.

    My house is a wreck. I’m out of band-aids. My pantry is empty. I find myself near tears at least once every day.

    And, yes, my blog has been neglected.

    So here’s what we’ve been up to in the past few weeks.

    We had a garage sale and got new-to-us couches. Somehow these two events have resulted in the complete rearrangement of my house. There are toys all over my normally off-limits front room and couches and nightstands in my garage. We plan to move Monkey into his own room this summer so the upstairs of our house is in flux. I’ve decided as long as my bed is where it belongs when I finally fall into it, the rest can just take care of itself.

    Chunky, who was wearing all black and obsessed with vampires two weeks ago, has now moved on to mimes. Yes, mimes. He is always demanding that I watch him “stuck in a box” or “walking down stairs.” Unfortunately, he seems inspired to perform while we’re in the car, so every red light has me twisted around in my seat applauding “running while stuck in a booster seat.”

    Mimes? Really? Is this better or worse than vampires? You tell me.

    Monkey has spent the last few weeks being ten-going-on-thirteen. He is really, really cranky. He sleeps till 10:00 AM then spends the rest of the day trying to meet a caloric quota that would have me wearing a tent by the end of the week. I think he’s also grown an inch since school got out. I tiptoe around the office where he's holed-up and frantically wave food offerings whenever he pokes his head out. It’s a lot like living with a grizzly bear.

    So there you have it. If I wrote a book about this summer it would be called The Summer I Lived with a Mime and a Grizzly Bear. I just hope the final chapter doesn’t involve the grizzly bear eating the mime. Maybe the mime will turn out to be a vampire mime and thus an even match for the grizzly bear.

    Speaking of writing books, I finally finished this round of edits on The Immortal Heathcliff. I would feel good about this if I wasn’t nauseated by the mere mention of The Book that Tried to Kill Me. I’m excited to get back to work on my dystopian/steampunk novel, provided I’m not devoured by a grizzly bear.

    For the writers out there, what does your writing life look like in the summer time?

    For the older moms out there, are there any foods that keep a growing boy full longer than five minutes?

    For the psychologists out there: 8-year-old vampire mime. Should I be concerned?

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    Vampires on Bicycles

    Ah, summer.

    The other day my 8-year-old rode down the middle of the street on his bicycle wearing all black and spouting his own version of vampire lore. Did you know wearing black is lucky for a vampire?

    It’s a good thing I’m past caring what the neighbors think.

    Our first week of summer has been stressful. I have great plans for getting my kids on a schedule and improving some bad eating habits that have slipped in. Relax, none of those habits have anything to do with blood! But first I need to finish a rewrite. I’d hoped to have it done before school got out, but with one thing or another…

    So this blog will be short and sweet. Well, sweet if you think vampire-obsessed 8-year-old’s are sweet. Since I'm also considered a moving violation when I’m plotting and walking at the same time, I find Chunky’s world-building charming. I’m sure some parents would be concerned, but having lived through his leprechaun stage and countless “I’m a puppy dog” scenarios, I know to let the “story” play out.

    Speaking of stories, just today I saw that there’s a graphic novel version of Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow. I loved reading it in college so I think I might have to pick it up.

    I just started Divergent and it promises to be good. On my summer reading list with the boys are The Invention of Hugo Cabret and The Lightning Thief.

    I’d love to hear what you’re reading this summer. What’s on your TBR pile? If you have kids, what are they reading?

    Oh, and in case you need something to look forward to, check out the trailer for Les Miserables. It gave me goosebumps!