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Oh my goodness, I've left the blog so dusty and old..my apologies! The pandemic hit, and I have been in my bubble for a long, long, long time. The virus, the California wildfires, and our near-evacuation in early August...well, truthfully, I've been struggling to stay focused and upbeat. Through the summer, before the fires, I was settling into a nice routine with one of my daughters home early due to the pandemic..so we made good use of the pool! It was a nice few weeks of just getting through the stress of the news, the virus, the uncertainty...and then out of the blue, an odd dry lightning storm raced through California.
I heard the thunder early that morning, but was so tired I didn't get up for the lightning. I woke up to the news of the fires up north. There were too many spot fires to count and watch. Then I heard the news of multiple lightning strike fires up in the Santa Cruz mountains. My sister-in-law and her firefighter fiancé lived up in the Bonny Doon community, high up above the bustle of the Silicon Valley, with gorgeous views below. They were creating their dream home together..redoing the property, pouring cement, redoing decks, planting veggies in their brand new custom built raised planter boxes, adopting a pup, and enjoying getting their place "just right".
That evening, scrolling through Twitter, I noticed that the lighting strike fires were combining in their area. I texted her late at night..11:30pm. Was it too late to connect? Husband said, don't bother her...but I was worried and sure enough, she was packed and on her way to my in-laws, with their tennants, five dogs, a kitten, and as much as they had pre-packed. Her fiancé was already at work, manning the firestation with his team.
Every hour that passed, we wondered if the firefighters would be successful with their efforts of containment, but there were too many. In a flash, their home was gone. Their neighborhood completely devastated. 42 of 51homes were destroyed.
Meanwhile, here at our home, where I thought that we were safe from fires (just south from San Jose, CA) a giant mass of fire strikes combined to become the SCU Lightning Complex fire. It covered five counties. Days passed, and we watched as the evacuation warning yellow zone came closer, closer, closer. We hoped for rain, we hoped for calm or no winds..we hoped and hoped...with closed windows from the smoke, and with incredible heat that was so unbearable that your mind went a bit crazy from the pandemic bubble, to now a smoke-filled orange-gray skied heat bubble. Thankfully the evacuation line came just up to the corner at the top of our street and stopped. But we prepared anyway.
Have you ever done this? As a native Californian, who has rock & rolled through all the major earthquakes for the past few decades, I didn't think that the work of preparing for an evacuation would rattle me..but it did, in a very strange, quiet, sweaty, hot, and sad way. We quietly went from room to room. I called our eldest to see what she wanted packed from her room since she was already at her apartment to start her 4th year in college.
Trying to figure out what to leave, and what to keep was a bit unnerving. If you pause too long, it could debilitate you. I knew I had to "not think too much" and just keep moving and putting things into the plastic bins, and bags. I still have not unpacked. My walls are still blank, there are no photos in frames, and there are only the remnants of the illustrations or mementos that I had deemed "leaveable".
I know that this is probably fire trauma. Fire had never been something we worried about in earthquake country, but a few years ago, my heart raced during weeks of worry, as my eldest was in her 1st year at UCSB, during the Thomas Fire. The fire grew so close to campus that she shared photos of her walking the main walk under orange skies, with ash falling and flying from bikes that trekked by. The night that her dorm-mates woke to an alert to evacuate is something I'll never forget. It was panic, and through Twitter, I was thankfully able to find that it had been a false alert. I was able to connect with a lot of the kids in their dorms to calm them down and let them know that they were ok. The phone lines and internet at the school were wonky and sporadic. Their electricity flickered. It was truly a mess. I phoned the school's hotline to talk to someone to try to get them to get word to the students..all of it was maddening. Thankfully the Thomas Fire (the third largest in CA history that year) ended, but the memory of it stuck.
So, I'm writing to just get this all out. The anxiety of the fires is too much to hold in. Our world has changed so much since before February. It feels as though we are all in our bubbles now with so much sadness from the fires, the news, the politics, the injustices from race, inequalities, RBG, the virus, masks/no masks and more.
One early Sept. morning, thinking about my sis-in-law and fiancé and how they were persevering through all of this I woke to the gray/orange skies again and decided to stop the downward cycle. I decided to find a way help them, and so many who have lost so much from the wildfires. (Thankfully, they are safe, and well, and managing the rebuilding of their lives as they plan their future up in the mountains again. It will be a long road ahead, but they safe, together, inspiring and strong. xo)
I decided to start AWEtober (which is LIVE right now on Instagram). It's my ART & WELLNESS AUCTION from 10/1 through 10/31, though the auctions fully end on the 27th. All 53 auctions are LIVE RIGHT NOW, and on the 16th, I'll begin the WELLNESS aspect of the month, so be sure to visit to enjoy 14 days of how the artists are finding ways to move through this truly turbulent and unique time.
There are 53 artists who've generously donated their art, their time, their $, and their hearts to the event to help raise funds for the victims of the California wildfires. I am so grateful for them and for all of the bidders and those who have shared and supported the efforts. It's been truly wonderful, and has kept me so busy, and tired, which is good. :)
SO, if you'd like a chance to bid on a wonderful piece of art - there are originals, prints, a collector/designer toy, and a handmade chipmunk purse by my daughter (!) :), that are up for grabs!
The first four expire tonight at midnight PST though, so my sincere apologies for the delayed post!!
HOW TO CHECK OUT @AWEtober!:
If you are on INSTAGRAM, you can place a bid on any of the auctions at @AWEtober
If you don't have Instagram, you can view the items but not place a bid though, at: http://instagram.com/awetober
It's easy to download the app (if you have a smartphone)..and apologies if you don't have that and can't access the auctions! Once you've got the app, follow the account and enjoy.
Each auction is up for 2 weeks total..please check the listings for all the details!
And, for all of the information about the event, please visit AWEtober.com - you'll find a list of all of the contributing artists, and the ENTITIES/ORGANIZATIONS that this event will help! You can even donate directly through clicking on each entity's link.
I hope you're all safe and well and hanging in there. May you all have a good rest of the year. I will be working on some fun projects and making sure to keep up my daily walks, pet both our little black cats, Miso & Luna, eat well, and just rest. I think we all deserve to give ourselves the space to be at peace, so I'm hoping you are all finding ways to do that!
All my best everyone!! Shirley
PS, here is my piece, titled "Old Friends" - my ode to the forest after the fires have gone. I hope that it brings a little peace to all of you.