What in the Blazes is Going On?

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Here’s How I Am Now. How Are You?

shows amount of ash collecting
Ash gathered on a random car

These are the times that try men’s souls. —Thomas Paine

Greetings, friend! I pray for your health, safety, and wellbeing in these trying times. My last blogpost promised the next would be “Why Writers (Still) Need Editors.” I am putting off finishing and posting that article, in light of current events. It seems more important to concentrate on matters at hand. One doesn’t need to consult Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to know that we’re less likely to seek editors for our writing, and maybe less likely to write at all, if our survival or that of our loved ones is in question. Unrest and uncertainty are everywhere in the world lately, and most recently, piled on top of it all for people in the western United States, fires are blazing out of control. Homes, farms, livestock, crops, and even lives are being lost as fire departments have to ignore smaller blazes to focus on larger priority ones. This is a time when we need to connect with one another and help and encourage in any way we can. This need isn’t restricted to writers or other potential editing customers. It’s a matter of being human and caring.

I would like to hear from you about how the fires are affecting you and others you care about, and what you are doing, feeling and thinking about them. Please email me if you would like to offer advice to people who might be evacuating their homes or have other needs related to the catastrophes we are facing. And let me know if it’s okay to quote you.

I live southwest of Portland, Oregon, and I’ve been wondering whether fire will endanger my home. I thought it important to list and pack items to take with me should I be evacuated to a shelter, but my concern for loved ones has distracted me from that activity. Thank God for cell phones and Internet! I have been able to check on everyone I’ve been concerned about.

A close friend was evacuated from her assisted living residence in Oregon City the other day in a bus that inched through high traffic, taken to a different facility far away. My relatives in Lincoln County were going to drive far away as well but only managed to leave Lincoln City for another part of the county. Otis, where the fire on the Oregon coast began, is not as smokey as here in the Portland area. I suppose it’s because we are in a valley. Conditions are similar to Los Angeles at its smoggiest, but I think worse. At least—hallelujah!—the high winds have ceased. That should lessen the spread of some of the fires.

  Yesterday I rode around with my neighbor for hours in the smokey air, preparing for a future family celebration. It seemed surreal that we, or anyone, for that matter, were going about our normal business in that oppressive atmosphere. I wondered whether we would even be home to celebrate in a few weeks… or whether we would even have homes to live in. When I got back, my face mask reeked of smoke, my eyes hurt, and I found myself too worn out to converse much with friends online. I took a nap.

 This morning, the first thing I did when I got up was attempt to rinse from my eyes whatever was making them sore and a little swollen—probably ashes. I’ve seen a few flakes in the air from time to time. I see plenty on cars; it reminds me of what I’ve heard about the ash from Mt. Saint Helens.

 Except for potential health problems due to breathing the horrible air—and it doesn’t stink like it did yesterday, so it seems to be improving—I think I’m in a safe place. Nevertheless, it increases my peace of mind to complete and organize my list of items I would take if ordered to evacuate. My neighbor already has her bag packed and in her van. I started to gather a few items, but a lot of what I would take I use regularly. For instance, I can’t just leave my cell phone in my backpack all day every day.

 First, my list was handwritten in my planner, and pretty random. This afternoon, I used the wonders of modern word processing to put every item I’d scrawled, and then some, into categories that help me figure out how to gather everything. Some items I may need to purchase in more convenient sizes or shapes for packing purposes. Perhaps my list will jog your own mind about what you do and don’t need to take with you in case you have to flee. Perhaps you will think of something I forgot that I might need—or how to shorten the list without any major loss? Since I don’t have a car and the shelter closest to me requires a two mile walk from the bus stop, everything I would bring would have to fit into my neighbor’s van.

 Without further ado, here is my list. Information for you is in brackets.

Evacuation List

For use in shelter

  • Larger items:
  • Bird cage with bird! (may have to find a place to board him—BiZee Bird?)
  • Blankets to cover cage
  • Bird food in jars!
  • Chromebook
  • Backpack, including:
  • Wallet
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Schedule book
  • Keys
  • Book to read
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Stylus
  • 1 week’s meds—fix so won’t fall out
  • Small writing tablet
  • Hygiene bag (see below for contents)
  • Hygiene items:
  • In little bag:
  • Extra toothbrush
  • Toothpaste—add before leave, or buy an extra tube for bag
  • Floss
  • Small hairbrush
  • Razor
  • (mouth rinse)
  • Soap in soapbox (prepare before leave, or buy another bar)
  • Shampoo in small jar (put more in) [skin allergies require special soaps and shampoos]
  • Anti-bacterial wipes—buy smaller one?
  • Continence pads
  • Other items:
  • Computer glasses in case (prepare before leave)
  • Extra meds—fix so won’t fall out, or bring bottles and bubble packs
  • Address book
  • Pocket New Testament
  • Journal to write in
  • Checkbooks
  • 2nd wallet with extra credit cards
  • Clothes
  • Nightgown
  • Sandals
  • Tennis shoes
  • Colored pencils
  • Sketch pad with current illos to work on
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • Voting info
  • Pack to protect and keep
  • Vital records folder
  • Presents and cards for neighbors
  • Thank you card list [from my birthday]
  • Red journal to type from [for my memoir]
  • Wear to protect and keep
  • Special hat
  • Favorite jewelry (brooch set)
  • Maybe bring
  • Little wi-fi speaker
  • Small shopping cart—or new larger one, if have by then
  • Toilet paper

Please use my email form to tell how you are doing and how you feel about the fires and evacuations! If I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you yet, I’d love an introduction. In closing, I won’t promise what I will post next, but it might be more about the effects of the recent fires and what we can do to make things better for ourselves and others. That may depend largely on your response. Also feel free to tell me what you would like me to do on this website in the future.


Robin Layne

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