Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dogs with Dreads, Stargates, Scary Suns and More!

Poor Mr. Chee getting shaved

We recently shaved Chee Chee, during which we realized that his fluff hid doggy dreads. We often tease that since we have feisty little Teyla, Comanche must be Ronon: He's big, can be somewhat intimidating but is really a sweetheart, and is constantly harassed, picked on, and abused by Teyla. It seems fitting. Well, now with his doggy dreads, I think he fits the bill a bit more. Just don't tell Ronon that Cheechers is neutered, has a "girly" bark, and hides under the deck if he thinks you have any intention of brushing him. Actually, maybe that last part works for Ronon, too...

Chee Chee is very nervous

I headed back over to my university last week to meet with my screenplay professor one last time. He gave me coverage from some reader with 4 MA degrees, and the reader was very distraught that my script, a work of fiction, did not follow the "official version" of the myth of Andromache. I had to laugh. It's a myth. It's fiction. There is no official version. And to add insult to injury, he cited the Aeneid as the "official" version. The Aeneid? As in the epic written by Virgil long after the founding of Rome, hundreds of years after the death of Homer, written as an entertaining fiction about how Rome was founded? Other than the fact that there are numerous conflicting versions of the myth (and for the record, mine is "inspired by" Homer's Iliad and Euripides' Trojan Women) Virgil was just playing with the cast of characters like I am. The only difference is he lived a few thousand years ago and is dead. We always give dead people a lot more respect than living people.

This reader warned that if my script were ever made, the critics might have a field day pointing out the discrepancies between my story and the "official" Aeneid version. To address this, my professor pointed at three dudes in the room who are making a movie.

"You, you ever read the Aeneid? You ever heard of it? Any idea who wrote it?"
One guy half-heartedly responded, "....I'm guessing Homer?"
My teacher looked at me with a slight smile. "You don't have a problem."

Hey -- to be honest, I hadn't ever even heard of the Aeneid until I read it as a college freshman in an honors course. "Virgil was just playing with the characters like I did. It would be as if I wrote the mythical story for the founding of California."

My professor's eyes lit up. "You should say that -- if anyone asks you, just be totally cocky and be like, 'yeah, I made up my own founding myth.'" Didn't I say this guy was inspirational? And I think I'm a big enough jerk to pull it off.

As I mentioned in my last post, smoke from a massive blaze down south has choked the air for days. Because of the wind, it was worse on the other side of the mountain range where my university is. I went up to the eighth floor of the library (so cool!) and took some pictures. You might not notice much if you're not familiar with the landscape, but the area isn't really flat. There is a range of mountains on the horizon... a range almost invisible in the smoke.

While up there I noticed a new something on the lawn.

Upon further investigation, I realized that it was a stargate with a pyramid-shaped DHD. I wonder if this is a new style the Ancients are trying out?

For fun, I filmed going down the 8 stories... and since I'm elevator challenged, yes, I did press the button for lobby instead of ground floor, and was mildly panicked when I was suddenly underground...

That same day I came home to find out that the poor Toot had torn a ligament in her back leg while wrestling with Comanche. I guess his inner Ronon finally came out. Plus the vet told us Teyla needed to loose 5lbs so maybe her fat was her undoing. Either way, it's very sad to see her hobbling about on three legs, but thankfully her leg will heal without surgery. She just has to rest for 3 weeks. And rest she has...

The Toot and her yoga sleeping positions

The smoke here has been dense throughout the week. This is what the view looks like today, which has been a pretty good day as far as smoke goes, though it's usually much clearer:

And this is what it looked like earlier in the week:

Last night my older brother and younger sister and I all had dizzy spells and felt light-headed. We assumed it was from the smoke... and also wondered if a peyote crop was burning or something.

Though last evening was the scariest. "You guys should come look at the sun," my older brother said. I headed out, wrapped in a blanket, expecting to see the same neon-orange sunset that has been common lately (as in the pictures in this post) and here:

...but was instead stopped in my tracks. I've never seen anything like it before. The sun was a vibrantly glowing red orb. Talk about disturbing. A blood red sun?! We tried to photograph it, but to make matters even scarier, it was impossible. As you'll see in this picture, the sun didn't even show up, even though it was in the shot!

Imagine that shade of red light times at least 10

The closest I got was this one where there is no color to the sun. You can see hints of red... but like a vampire, the red sun's image couldn't be recorded.


That coupled with the dizziness was enough to make the idea of aliens poisoning us all seem probable.

Well, this will be my last post for a while since we're heading off to go camping soon. Yes... heading into an area where the smoke is even worse than here. Not the brightest idea...

"Help us, George Bush!" my dad shouted at a low-flying chopper that passed by beneath the red sun last evening. Governor Schwarzenegger asked President Bush to declare California's wildfires as a federal emergency, and he has. It's about damn time. Hopefully this will bode well for resources to help combat the blazes. The air quality in many places is 10 times the federal standard for clean air.

So if you don't see a post by me for two weeks or so... don't assume I'm dead! ;)

To end things on a lighter note, here is an old clip (from 2006, I think) of what daily life is usually like (and no, there is no further explanation other than what you see here). Enjoy!

I get a visit from a "doctor":

Mackenzie's Momma - That's so cool! I'm so proud of you. You'll have to share any updates. ;) And 4-6 inches? Whoa!

Mo - ...2 1/2 FEET? You have balls, girl! Wow. And you're lucky that you like the cold! I'm such a wuss. I went to Ireland and froze. It's supposedly not good for me, but I love the sun. :)

Until next time, I hope you are all well, safe, and enjoying life! Much love, laughter, light, and inspiration!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hair Cut!


"When I look at your hair, I see why Muslims have their women cover it up. It's so... alluring. If you ever cut it I swear, I will come back from my grave and haunt you." My Latin professor said that to me as I was sitting in her office, getting help with my Latin translations about two years ago. As far as I know, she's still alive and well so I don't have much to worry about.

But today was the big day! My appointment to get my hair cut... for the first time in my life! I've trimmed it often but have never actually cut it.

It was fun!

Choking the drain in the sink


Cousin It

I guess I was unsure

Though the lovely hairdresser, Heidi, left it a bit longer than I asked, just in case cutting it shorter would traumatize me. I'll probably go back and get a few more inches off soon, and more layers!

The end

Still very long!

Perhaps cutting my hair would've traumatized me more if so much else wasn't going on. northern California is a really scary place right now. 849 fires are burning (most from the lightning strikes) and 200 are unattended since they pose no immediate danger. To make matters worse, the fog is due to leave and another dry thunderstorm is on the way. Since these come in from the Pacific, they hit us first and there's no telling how big they'll be. I'm praying everything will be alright!

There was another fire yesterday along the main highway... and a man was seen at the site, taking pictures when it first started. He fit the description of the same man they suspect of starting the fire down south. Everyone's now on the lookout for this little prick.

The smoke was a haze all throughout the valley today. All of California must be shrouded in it. Up north a bit it was brown and so thick that it was difficult to see houses across the street. I hope this will end soon, but they're still calling this the "early fire season."

mackenzie's momma - That explanation makes a lot more sense. It's still insanely intense, though! Wow...

melissa - You are so lucky. If you've read the rest of this post you'll know the terrible consequences of too much warm, dry weather. :s

Monday, June 23, 2008

Shash and Alex Day... Sort Of

A strawberry crepe made by me because I'm cool

Sunday was Shash and Alex Day!

...And I think we should've done more advertising. The first half of the day was spent at the doctor, but luckily that visit mostly alleviated fear over a major health scare. Then we sat around forever with our new toys, waiting for our brothers to join us in the pool, while the new elephant sprinkler stared us down, horrifyingly. We nicknamed it the alien erection for obvious reasons.

Alex is getting sprayed and I was looking into the sun. We both look five again!

Though my dad did jump in and flew onto the whale, claiming he was Emeril Lagasse, and barrelled headfirst into the wall of the pool. That was pretty cool.

But we still had to clean up the kitchen and do all the rest of our chores. No one gave us any presents. But I made banana-chocolate crepes (and forced my big brother to eat one) and we ate Ben & Jerry's at the end of the day and topped it all off with a sleepover in which we came to some deep conclusions about life: Where did we come from? Aliens put us here, as if the earth were a giant petri dish, and they come back every once in a while to check on us and take notes. They try to dress up as bears to blend in but fail miserably. Sometimes we even catch glimpses of them. We call them Bigfoot sightings.

mackenzie's momma - How in the name of Newton did it set snow on fire? That's insane! And I'm not sure it was very brave. It was more joy over being able to finally do something with my nervous energy and defeat something that frightens me. It's made me seriously consider joining our volunteer firefighting force!

ladybozi - I'm getting kinda sick of the insanity! It's taking it's toll... but hey, if I could use it all for an autobiography then what the heck?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lightning is Mean

You guys probably all think I'm a liar because I always have some crazy story to post. I guess you have no way of knowing if I'm telling the truth or not other than trusting me. And you're just gonna have to trust me about this one.

Remember how when my house almost burned down and we were running from the flames I said that it felt like War of the Worlds? Well, it did again today. Except for a different reason.

I couldn't sleep last night till after 5am. Because all the sudden around 3 am a chopper went bombing by then started flying loops. I wondered if they'd found the turd who set those fires (which are set to be contained by today) and if they were trying to catch him. Because a short while later there was this thumping sound and in the moonlight I studied the shadow of the birch tree outside my window. The shadow suddenly disappeared. I blinked a few times, wondering if my sleepy eyes had tricked me. The thumping grew louder and another chopper flew over, scanning the ground with a searchlight (which had shifted the shadows).

I turned on the scanner and listened for a long while yet still couldn't tell what was going on. People were being arrested and a CDF man was unconscious. Yikes.

I woke up a few hours later because my sister and mom wanted to go shopping. You see, there's such a thing as Mother's Day and Father's Day, but there's no Shash and Alex Day, so Alex and I declared that Shash and Alex Day is tomorrow. We were gonna go to Toys R Us to buy a fun pool toy to use in celebration of the day.

I was slow in getting up since I had little sleep and was complaining on the drive there since we all had short tempers for some reason. There was an uncharacteristically dark, tropical storm cloud brewing and I was hopeful for some rain. As I studied the grass fields on the side of the road I wondered aloud how grass burns (like, does it burn hot then exhaust its fuel and die out?).

Everything happens for a reason. We left late for a reason. We were in a bickering mood and focusing on the view out the windows than each other for a reason. I was thinking about grass fires for a reason.

A dark SUV headed towards us in the opposite lane. Suddenly the frame lit up with white light. The ground then jolted as thunder clapped. A few seconds later we noticed a man pull over. On the opposite side of the road was a broken power line, part of which was dangling above an oak, on fire.

We grabbed a cell to call 9-1-1 then my mom cried out in alarm. A few feet away the ground was on fire, licking a house fence. "We can try to help," my mom immediately stated as she pulled over. I grabbed my water bottle and Alex grabbed her Juice Squeeze and we ran over to the fire in our sandals and tank tops and shorts, getting as close to the burning heat as we could (I should add that it was 104 or more out). I felt like an idiot waving the water from my water bottle onto the flames, but there wasn't much else I could do.

A young man in the truck behind us pulled over and leapt out, beating the flames with his jacket while my mom and another man got a hose from the house's yard and started spraying the flames. I ran across the street where I could see a hose a few feet away on the other side of a wrought iron fence, but couldn't get to it because we were in a rich neighborhood and all the rich people fence and gate in their houses. I ran down the street crying "Is anyone home?!"

I heard a shout from the flames (Alex is reading over my shoulder as I type this and she says it was her) that they had a hose so I ran back. I almost laughed when I saw the man holding the hose. I kid you not, but he looked very much like none other than Lucius Luvin! He even talked like him.

The young man then saw that we had things under control, took his singed jacket, proclaimed that he hoped he still had cable at home, then took off since his truck was jamming up traffic. Poor Lucius was freaking out, saying "Oh my god, oh my god... my house is nearby... I better get home and hose down my weeds! Here, take this!" He handed me the hose and sped off, never to be seen again. Poor Lucius. :(

My mom said that there was a little boy in the house, watching from the window, looking scared. We had the fire pretty much under control so I asked someone to go tell him it was okay. One of the men who were helping said that he'd tried to tell his grandma what was happening when he'd run to get the hose but that she didn't speak English.

A woman showed up from two doors down and had been able to make it through to 9-1-1. "All circuits are busy," was the response everyone kept getting when we called. She said they were on their way. She'd watched the lightning bolt strike several times, hitting the ground.

The engine showed up and the three guys who piled out looked impressed and said "Looks like we've got some new volunteers!" They had me direct the hose in other areas and dug up some of the hillside to make a firebreak, just in case. The chief studied the telephone pole at the site and said that it looked like it'd been hit, the lightning conducted along the lines then found ground, setting the grass and berries and poison oak ablaze.

"We'd give you a sticker if we had one!" they joked as they told us we could go. They thanked us several times and said, "See, this is what we need. A community effort." I was just so grateful to have finally been able to kick some flaming ass. I'm sick of being a scared potential-victim of fire. It was awesome to kick the shit out of it. Or water the shit out of it. Whatever.

I asked one of the guys about the choppers last night and he said some crazy stuff's been happening lately with the fires and shootings. Yikes. It really does feel like War of the Worlds -- insane weather, people going nuts.

Ha. My sister just commented on the "a community effort part." We're not from that town (which is rather wealthy so our town considers them all snobs. Our high schools hate each other) and we were the ones who helped, yet the one Lucius from the area took off!

We continued on to Toys R Us and saw that another fire had been started near the road at the base of a telephone pole. We bought our pool toys then headed straight home. Lightning was flickering in the clouds.

The dark belly of the clouds was over our house for a while and we could hear the thunder (at one point we thought it was headed for our enemy town and Alex chanted "Ha ha Lucius!"). I nervously sat outside, watching it move, attempting to mentally speed the cloud on, while the scanner reported lightning strike after lightning strike. So far most of the fires are south of us. Yikes though. I can't live like this all summer! The Sierra Nevadas have weather like this, but not here!

Again, Al Gore -- you and your Global Warming are jerks! >:-[

Here are some pictures of the crazy cloudage in 100+ degrees.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Heat and Inconsiderate Splashing

Just for the record -- I hate Global Warming. I don't care if it's caused by too many emissions or by the regular heating and cooling pattern observed every 10,000 years or so since the start of the Holocene Era (our era), I still don't like it. It was 108 F today and we weren't the only ones in the state sweltering.

And... you guessed it! Another fire. Thankfully (for me) this one isn't close enough to be directly visible. But there's an aspect to it that is even more unsettling. It's not one fire, but rather four. Some punkassedshitheaddickwad set them. I also recently found evidence of a campfire on the top of the mountain behind our house. The worst part is, the people who "go out into the woods" and have a "campfire" usually aren't even from the area. But a warning to anyone who thinks they can risk it -- we mountain people are crazy. We will hunt you down. That's right -- myself included. I've helped the police track before and I was even better at it than their sniffer dog. Doesn't that scare you (for many reasons!)?

To make matters worse, we're taking care of our friends' chickens who have been left in their garage. Tonight when my sister and I went over to shut the garage up for the night we couldn't figure out how to get the door to shut. So Alex punched in the opening code into the keypad and right as she hit "enter," sirens started wailing in the valley. Her jaw dropped and her eyes grew wild as she half-ran a few feet from the scene of the crime. "They think we're robbers and they're coming to arrest us!"

She even got me to believe it as it sounded like the sirens were getting closer, and I was panicking, knowing that if we fled we'd look guilty and they'd lift our prints from the keypad, but we didn't exactly look like robbers since we were in our swimsuits. I mean, where would put anything?

On a lighter note, yesterday it was only 102 (I can't believe I just quantified that with "only") and Alex and I were bored and filling up the baby pool for the dogs so we had some fun with the camera, as well. The result is our new short, Teal'c and Ronon. Watch to find out what happens to Ronon when he makes the mistake of splashing Teal'c...

Teal'c and Ronon

Hope you're all well and coolish!

ajla - LOL! I should go run past his house every day screaming like a retard to try to get him to come out.

Melissa - Get crackin' on that paper, girl! Stop reading my blog and procrastinating! ;)

Mackenzie's Momma - It would be interesting to see what results you got in a library of all places. ;)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Ways to Meet Guys

Today I discovered a new way to meet attractive young men. My sister and I were helping our mom clean out the beach house we rent out and I was complaining the whole time because I didn't like cleaning up our previous renter's mess (okay, so it wasn't a lot. And he left his Bob Marley poster/photo thing so I stole it. Bob Marley is mad love. I worship him. Renter dude -- sorry, but I don't wanna give it back). I wanted ice cream from the local shop so, while mom was upstairs, I started slurring "I wan' ice cream!" like a retard while I vacuumed. (OMFG a giant beetle just attacked my window as I write this -- aaaargh! It's trying to get at me through the screen, buzzing it's wings... beetles inexplicable hate me. Same as crabs.)

Alex was laughing then her eyes suddenly grew wide. "Shash... Shash!" she whisper-hissed. "There's PEOPLE!" That only encouraged me. The door was open. I could put on a show. I didn't even stop when I noticed that the first of the people to walk buy was a hot ripped shirtless beach bod (with no head since the doorframe blocked the view). I let out a retard wail and all the sudden, the three hot guys who'd spilled out of the house next door heard the call and started retard-wailing in response.

One even jogged back and excitedly asked, "Are you guys moving in?!" I couldn't stop laughing. He must've thought I was insane. "...Or... just cleaning?"

"We're just cleaning. We rent it out," I managed. Dare I say he looked slightly let down as he nodded a "Cool" then jogged back to catch up with his friends. He probably thought I was a mentally disabled maid.

But wouldn't that have made a great story?

"Daddy, how did you meet mommy?"

"I stumbled upon her yowling like a retard while she wrestled with a vacuum cleaner."


How much do I love Bob Marley? Check out this self-obsessed self-portrait I made while I was bored (in other words, while I should've been working on my novel for my thesis...) And trust me. These semi-decent shots are as good as it gets for a retarded maid.

mackenzie's momma - :) Weren't they neat?

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Sky is Orange!

Uncomplimentary but cool

The damp, cold fog rolling in this eve was a relief for it meant that much-needed moisture was creeping into the valley and mountains. Last night the fire was 25% contained. And it put our town that's technically too small to be a town in the news! I clicked on the link on the front page of the MSNBC news site about Northern California Wildfires, and stared in shock when I saw our town listed as the location! Shame it was for a scary event. I bookmarked the article, intending to print it out, but unfortunately some jerk updated it and my town is apparently no longer the source/location. I don't know how I'll recover.

Just now I checked the CDF site and the fire is 65% contained! The 50% humidity has really been helping. Though all the dirty air (there were all kinds of warnings about the vast amounts of burning poison oak that makes dangerous, sometimes deadly smoke) made the world turn orange at sunset. It skewed all the colors, highlighting any orange and turning grays a bluish hue. I thought it was cool. Look at the orange world!

Orange light on an orange deck

Orange and brown sky

Don't look at that too long!

The toot caught being naughty in some orange light!

Cora the goat is orange

The blue-gray on that tree is actually shadows!

Orange sunlight in my room... yes, you get to spy on my computer and the Angelina Jolie interview I was reading in Entertainment Weekly

The brown... er... line...

Orange light brings out the Communist's orange highlights!

Brown stuff and... if you look... you can see the orange line of fire retardant from a few weeks ago.

This hasn't been manipulated. It's just plain weird. No wonder Alex called after she got out of a movie and asked "what's happening to the world?!"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Fire Diet

I'm just saying, days of figuratively walking on nails, waiting to find out what's going to happen with a raging inferno painfully close can take it's toll on your digestive system. Along with hiking the nearby ridge to check on the fire progress yourself because the internet is stupid and has no updates and the radio is full of idiots calling in, thinking their story is special, and saying crap like "At first I looked out and thought, 'oh, there's a fog bank,' then I noticed that the bottom was tinged brown... what do you mean 700 acres are burning uncontrollably a few miles away?"

Okay, so that's only partially true. The fire was 5% contained last night and a whopping 6% by today. Yesterday I was assured that it wasn't going to reach us, but then a rumor spread that the flames had jumped the road and that the fire was now possibly headed for town and that there was talk of evacuation. Thank the gods, it turned out to be untrue. But seriously, what dickhead would go around spreading information like that?

The tankers and choppers flying over our house woke me up at 6 after a whole two hours or so of sleep. Maybe I'm an insomniac or something, but I stayed up working away on a silly music video, focusing my nervous energy. But it's scary when, in the middle of the night, you hear this!

It sounded like an air raid siren and I have to admit, the first thing I did was search the skies, wondering if the Chinese were bombing us or something. Then I wondered if it meant "everyone who can hear this, get the hell out!" Apparently it's used to call in all volunteer fire fighters. It went off again this afternoon and poor Alex also thought it was about to be Pearl Harbor #2.

I hiked up the South Ridge again today and was shocked that, even though we could smell the smoke for the first time, there was no sign of the column. The air all over is hazy and the smoke has fringed the horizon with brown, but the fire appears to be heading away from us.

Where the "volcano" was yesterday

The smoke heading for the coast

The haze makes the mountains kinda pretty!

The last update that I heard was that it hadn't managed to grow much today (which is good since they were estimating 1,700 acres burning before containment) and they're hoping they can battle it on the flats and keep it from spreading to the canyons. One CDF spokesperson said that the outlook was good for containment since we're finally getting the wind in our favor, blowing cool, moist air in off the Pacific. That and the fact that the 700 + fire fighters are working their butts off!

Thank you, firefighters!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Not Again!

It was deja vu. My sister and her boyfriend and I were sitting around, planning a movie to make, when there's a call from my brother that he saw a plume of smoke and CDF trucks racing up the road. We turned on the scanner. There was a blaze about 5 miles away. Within minutes we could see the smoke peeking out from behind the South Ridge Mountain behind our house.

View from the barn

We went swimming to distract ourselves since all you can do in a situation like this is wait. I'd already packed up several old home movies and pictures, just in case. The fear and the drill was all too familiar since it's been less than three weeks since the fire that we almost had to evacuate from and the big fire that charred much of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Yet the smoke kept growing. Evacuations were being ordered for thousands near the vicinity. Unfortunately, the fire is in a hard to access area -- an ecological preserve bordered by houses. The local high school is being used as a shelter for evacuees. That should make for an interesting last day of school tomorrow!

I grabbed my camera and decided to hike the mountain behind our house to get a better view. As I reached the top it was a scary sight.

I was selfishly comforted, however, when I was greeted with the view of a ridge separating the fire from our valley. Intellectually I knew the distance of the fire, but it was comforting to actually see it.

Well, comforting and horrifying. My family and I were hopefully not have to evacuate from this fire, and the winds seem to be blowing it more towards the coast, yet horrifying that it looks like a volcano erupting just a ridge away, and that there are thousands of people up there. My heart cries out for you. The fear is torturous.

A chopper to the rescue

The chopper's smallness gives you an idea of the scale of the smoke

Like a volcano

A tanker plane is on it's way towards smoke that looks like an angry old man

Smoke stretching towards the coast

We had an unusually dry spring which has left the land parched. Perfect fuel for a blaze.

Firefighters are calling this an ominous start to the summer. We've already had the biggest fire in the mountains in a century, and now here's another. Yesterday there were two small ones. I don't know how much more of this I can take! The earth seems determined to burn.

A tanker plane on it's way to help

Though I did notice a change in my priorities this go around. I saw the leftover chocolate frosting from the cake I made yesterday and actually considered trying to take it with me. ;) I wound up eating it after dinner as a celebration of not being burned up yet!

hammy - Thank you for your comment! That's great to hear that you enjoy our films -- it always makes it worth it to hear a comment like that. Yes please, send some rain from the Isles our way and I'll send some dry heat yours! And I'm glad you enjoy the tales of my "adventures." :) There are always moments where I go "why am I writing this out for strangers?" so it's always nice to hear that they're somewhat interesting. ;)

mo - If only you'd been there when I made the cake. ;) At least it will still taste fine! Jaysus -- an entire district was on fire? Oh my gosh...