One Rainbow Tribe in an Orange World (but only for now).

Monday, December 10, 2018

Paradise Lost, Heroism Gained

Dear Sillies,
It's time to say what we say every year: "I can't believe the holidays are here already!" Note: I'm not adding the traditional profanity - this is a family establishment.
I am, however, adding a very sweet dose of inspiration.
   Meet Joe and Jenny. Ssh, they don't know I'm posting this. Neither does my friend, Keith, who took the photo.  But it's worth it. They're a remarkable hearty dose of wit, smarts, love, and pure inspiration. He's 94, and she's 90. (I've teased him about robbing the cradle.) Joe and Jenny hailed from Paradise. He drove them to countless gatherings in Chico, and I had the good fortune of meeting them years ago.
   I was relieved to learn that they'd made it out of the fires in relative ease, and were staying with another extremely kindhearted couple in Chico. So I paid a visit with a small selection of cozies (blanket, socks...)
   Jenny greeted me at the door. "Oh, you didn't have to," she said, donning her typical shy and warm smile.
   Joe approached with the most firm and earnest hug I've ever received - actually, equal in strength to all the other hugs he'd given me.
   "Well, where's your guitar?" he joked. (I don't play guitar, but nearly all of our mutual musical friends do.)

   As you can see from the photo, Joe loves to read. I'd brought him some books that I had, but that are way beyond my level of comprehension. He said he lost 80 books to the Fire.
   Joe had supported my book launch for Woman on the Verge of Paradise, bought, and speedily read the book. He's since attempted to elicit dirt on my (non) sex life every time I'd see him.
   "So, you getting any action these days, Robyn?"
   "Probably a lot less than you, my friend. I can't find a man, Joe. Much less keep one."
   "Lemme tell you the secret to keeping a marriage going. There are two things you gotta do. One, don't get divorced. Two, don't die. I'm doing pretty good at both so far."
   "You're doing amazingly well at both!"

   It's impossible to have known this couple and to NOT believe in "true love." They are just that.
   Regarding the Camp Fire, Joe says they'd been through it before. Paradise has had a number of evacuations in the past -- never, of course, anything like the terrors of 11/8. "If I'd have waited 15 minutes longer, we wouldn't have made it. We're much luckier than most."

   I only wanted to tell them how important, and how inspiring, they've been to the entire community. What came out was "I love you, Joe. I love you both."
   "Oh, all the women tell me that."

   Joe and Jenny are missed, but for good reason. They've relocated outside of the area to live with family. I'm hopeful they have a sense of what they've meant to Chico and Paradise. They've forever changed us in the most beautiful of ways. True heroes, this couple. May they be safe and loved for years to come.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Happy Chanukah! May the Miracles Commence!

My Dear Sillies,
   I haven't been in the holiday spirit, but after Al Penwasser (Psst, he's back!) wished me a Happy Hanukah, I dug up my Hanukah miscellany. Tonight's the first night. 
   Fire feels incredibly ugly, though, being as it murdered Paradise. The thought of creating it did not sit well. 
   As I went through the motions, though, I was calmed by the flame's beauty (on a small, non-inferno scale, of course). 
   This holiday marks a celebration of miracles, of good conquering evil, of lights, of all that shines with resilience and optimism. There's no shortage of miracles surrounding me/us. So yeah, it was important and even healing to light the candles tonight.
   Let the miracles commence!    
   Happy Hanukah! Spell it any which way; you can't go wrong unless you double up on vowels. 
   May you savor at least one precious miracle in the week ahead.
Love and light to you and yours. 

PS Have you had potato latkes? Mmmm, so good!


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Paradise Lost, Beginning to Say "Goodbye"

How can we start to say "goodbye"
It's too godawful to believe
One merciless inferno
ceded far too much to grieve

When can we start to say "goodbye"
Each day's haze, too thick to clear
Death threats invade the nightly sleep
We're paralyzed by fear

Where do we start to say "goodbye"
Sans your crisp, brisk pine air 
One more slice of Black Bear pie
A final ounce of your down-home care

To whom do we start to say "goodbye"
Endearing senior pairings 
married fifty years or more
like the ones that owned and nurtured my favorite antique store (Treasures of Paradise)
Or the banjo picking cow folk, 
the flag-flailing Trumpeteers,
                                   The man who saved his neighbors' homes
                                   asking only for some beers

To the men resembling Santa
if Santa dropped one hundred pounds
The teens labeled "disabled"
who beat me in every Skip-Bo round
But if we start with children 
How can we best explain
Their rooms and schools, all burnt to ash
Not one swing-set remains
It lasted from 11/8 to 11/25/18.
It incinerated an area the size of Chicago.
153,335 acres burned
13,972 single-family homes
18,793 structures  
85 identified deaths
296+ unaccounted for; may likely never be identified
52,000 people displaced 
over 90% of Paradise is no longer
Honey Run Covered Bridge - before and after 11/8/18. Built in 1886 on the original road that connected Chico and Paradise, it was the last bridge of its kinds in the US. Plans are underway to recreate it, as a memorial to those who perished.

first photo: me in front of Coco Amatrice, 2011

This one "goodbye"
spans miles beyond
the passing of a friend

                          How can we start to say "goodbye"
                             when "goodbye" has no end?