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

Friday, November 16, 2018

Paradise Lost

My Dear Friends,
   I can hardly find one syllable, much less the words to inform you about the staggering devastation in my part of the world.
   I am fine, lucky to be safe. Chico has remained intact. Yet the Chico and Paradise connection is uniquely, lovingly enmeshed. Two very different cities (different demographics, politics, size, climate, lifestyle), somehow we and our Paradise neighbors have grown closer than close. Only ten miles apart, scores of people live/d in one city, commute/d to the other for work. Birth families are/were split between the two. My friends from Paradise have spent oodles of time in Chico, and vice versa.

   A handful of you might recall that seven years ago, I moved to Chico for a job in Paradise.


February, 2011 Sign reads "May you find Paradise to be all its name implies."

   Last Thursday, November 8, within one day, an unbelievably monstrous fire tore through and ravaged Paradise - which had been home to over 27,000 people -- many, sick, elderly, and impoverished.
                                                       November 8, 2018 photo by Skip Culton


   An entire town lost its homes, schools, businesses, precious heirlooms, farms, horses, beloved pets, musical instruments and studios, . . . so much that cannot or won't ever be replaced. Bodies are still being found; numbers may reach into the hundreds.
   I'm relieved to say that my friends and clients are alive and safely housed - though they lost everything but the clothes they wore to escape. 
   As of now, the fires are only 40% contained. It seems Chico is out of harm's way, as vicious winds push the fires into Paradise's other surrounding cities. Air quality is off-the-charts hazardous, here and throughout much of northern California.
   There aren't words for this type of devastation. Well, I can articulate that I'm extremely grateful.  I am housed, safe, and loved by many. I also feel guilty. I'm fine. I haven't done enough.
  And there's too much to do. The needs of our new neighbors (survivors) are endless.
  Our love and determination to help carry them through is also infinite.
  It's going to be a very, very long recovery process.
   In the midst of it all, heroism and love. I hear story after story - a man who drove his Toyota Tundra to and from Paradise to save people. He got out of it just before it melted. He didn't care; he was thrilled to have saved lives. Upon learning about this, Toyota promised him a new truck.
   A man risked his life (as did countless unsung heroes) to keep his and his neighbors' home intact. When asked how they could repay him, he said he'd be happy with a case of beer! (I hope it's high end stuff. Is there "high end" beer?)
   Local churches, the fairgrounds, and the Chico Airport are housing evacuees.  Businesses are serving free food. People are opening up their homes to whole families, asking nothing in return.
   A soft heartedness pervades.
   As I sat in an In and Out for the luxury of chocolate milkshake therapy, a woman at the table next to me asked if I'd been affected by the fires. I told her that I was fine, but I evacuated for a few days -- to be safe. She then offered to buy me food. (So sweet. She doesn't know me, and that I consider a chocolate milkshake to be a nutritious meal. Thus, I was deeply touched.)
   One of my clients gave me flowers recently, saying she's thankful for me.

   Some of you have checked in on me, and that means the world.
   Humankindness endures.
   It survives the worst of tragedies.
   It won't be destroyed.
   It will outlive this unrelenting nightmare too.

This article by a survivor and Chico Professor, Sarah Pape, is incredibly well written. I don't know how she wrote it, despite her own pain and shattered heart. She's amazing.

  Please don't worry about me. I'll be fine.
  Stay safe, my dears.
  Take care of yourselves.
  I love you.

Monday, November 5, 2018

One Rainbow Tribe! Showtime

Dear Sillies,
   A few months ago, I decided to bring my book to the stage. I thus bribed various friends, pleaded with a local cafe to host the show, designed the set, purchased a stuffed porcupine and other props, sifted through the script many times...Showtime arrived on October 27.
   We had a large audience, one that laughed and enjoyed the show. It was amazing to see the story take on such a lively, endearing, strange, and silly life. There was semi-nudity, the striking of small balls, the toss of an orange blob (bag of Cheeto Puffs) through the air, and more. (I'm sorry I can't post the whole thing; it's too big.)
   Regrettably, I have yet to pay Poor Cubie -- the porcupine on the Trumpeter's head. He did a very good job, as you can see, and stayed in place, thanks to three shoe laces and a red plastic head band.  
   Note that I didn't instruct the Trumpeter to destroy the set before joining the rainbow tribe. It was an accidental but timely gesture on his part.
   I'm hoping you're able to view this. Please let me know, if not. It's very short (one min or so). It's the grand finale - my ultimate message. Note my Bernie socks.
   Take care of yourselves.
   Keep a smile.
   Keep a stash of chocolate.
   Know that you are loved.
                                            
Click box in bottom right corner, after pressing Play, to view full screen.
Cast: Narrator Corey Finnegan; Clan Fans Steve Ferchaud (Illustrator) and Dallas Darnell; Teen Melissa Dye; Classmates Andan and Judi Casamajor; Clown Vic Estrada; Rushing Bride Knat Annie Fischer, Knit Robyn Engel (Author); Trumpeter King Allan Nixon; prickly hairpiece, Poor Cubie the Porcupine. Filmed by Michelle.