October 29, 2007

A moving On

San Diego Bay with the Virgo Leader, a car carrier, and the Oosterdam, 2007.

"Crews contain two major fires,” says the headline. The President has been here, the Governor is here and has been here. Perhaps his presence is most important and shows someone outside cares. No one cares about the President. The world is still orange in the morning and at night. The air is breathable or not breathable depending on where you are when the wind blows, and the city really cares.

Today the schools, roads, and most businesses are back open again after yesterday’s football game. Friday the stadium was emptied, Saturday the trash was picked up and the cement was waterblasted, and Sunday the Charger’s played the Texans.

We were told to expect anything. Some folks might come to drink their sorrows away, other’s might arrive and leave quietly….no one knew. The Governor was expected to make a pre-game speech…escorted by the flash and bling of the top CHP, State, and local cops. All the local top cops were there escorted by their top cops in top polish too. Spit shine was the word of the day amid the ash of the fires.

While I was standing in my tunnel checking credentials, with a previous and wonderful employee who has now been hired by us and I won’t get again, sixty thousand plus fans were cheering the Governor. The Governor was thanking the cops, firefighters, National Guard, Border Patrol, and everyone else….for these workers have been the backbone of our salvation. Outside in the burned areas, one man found his wedding ring in the ashes of his burned out mobile home. As I was admiring the shine on two CHP officers boots, another family found a picture deep in a charred home. At all the gates, Salvation Army volunteers held large orange buckets hoping for donations. Just opposite them in my ramp, I was encouraging food service workers to have two or three people on each heavily loaded cart going down my ramp.

The air grew thick, and I couldn’t see the valley walls. My chest once more felt as if it had a lead brick on it, and I had to use an inhaler. Once, mid afternoon, the ash in the air obscured even F gate only a few yards away from where I stood, and I blinked my eyes thinking they were clogged by something. They weren’t. Slowly over the afternoon, the winds altered. By four, we could see brush on the hillsides surrounding the stadium. By four we could breathe comfortably again.

By this morning, parts of the city returned to normal. Most of the over 640,000 evacuees have returned to their homes, but many here feel guilt that they couldn’t do more, couldn’t have helped more in some way. Sea World reopened Friday, the Wild Animal park opens today getting all the animals back into their routine.

Talking to people yesterday, one of our green-shirts, the retired cops who work with us, lost his home. Another was joking that his wife saved the important papers but not the Harley. In the end, his home wasn’t burned. The young man I was working with lost his home in the 2003 Cedar fire, but his new house wasn’t lost. One boss had to evacuate; the other didn’t. During the game, the crowds were unusually quiet. Few rowdy drunks at all. The stadium was crowded with fire first-responders who were given free seats. When the Chargers won 38 to 10, an almost silent crowd filed out to their vehicles.

Amid the sadnesses, life moves on.

Me: Worked yesterday. Will not be working the next SDSU game because it is Joan’s Memorial. Have to cancel working the next Charger game as we will be on a train to Portland the next morning and it is a night game.

G: Was an absolute doll. He was domestic all day. Laundry done. Slow cooker chicken stew filling the house with smells when I got home. Dishes washed. Made the bed. All this after a two hours walk twice around the swapmeet. He measured the suitcases: They need to be: 28x22x14, and they are 22x10x14 1/2. 23x9x14 ½, and 21x8x13. Now where did that ½ come from, I wonder. He’s my hero anyway.

Bee bought new suitcases standard airline size for the overhead bins, and these too have that ½. We don’t know what that means.

Duck: We didn’t visit. We are going to be doing this a tiny bit more often and letting him know we won’t be there, letting the staff know, and letting his roommate know. We do have a call in to the Derm doc again.

Fires: The front page of our local Paper, the Union/Tribune, says it all. Air Quality is moderate.


  1. I've managed to follow somewhat the fires in your area but caretaking takes most of my time. I take it from your writing that your home was not in danger this year.
    We were volunteers for the Red Cross after the Cedar Fire we parked our motorhome at a casino and went to the Alpine service center every day. We were so impressed with the people who lost their homes and how resilient they seemed to be. We really regret that we could not be there this time to assist with disaster relief.

    I look forward to reading about your train trip to Portland. I'm thinking I would like to travel that way also from here to Portland or Seattle. My Mom lives in Portland and son is across Lake Washington from Seattle.

  2. Mage,

    Your descriptions of the fires and their aftermath have informed me much better than any newscast.

    I have a lot of admiration for the people of your State of California.

    They are courageous and tenacious and deserve all the praise we can bestow upon them. Some have lost a lifetime of memories and possessions and still they persevere and carry on to the best of their ability.

    Thanks again for keeping us abreast of the situation. I really appreciate your reports.

  3. What a moving post. It is hard to imagine how the people, economy, the environment, can possibly "return to normal". Wouldn't it marvelous if it really only took some spit and shine? I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunity to help others in the months ahead.


What a delight to get a note from you. Thanks for leaving one.


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