1. wen October 12, 2017 @ 6:42 pm

    So grateful to hear that you and Roy are safe <3 My fingers, ankles, knees — ok, eyes too — are all crossed for continued good news. Your writer's voice, the wisdom you bring to it, provide a calmly sturdy anchor. Thank you for always sharing your experiences and insights, fearlessly, fiercely, and generously. Holding you and Roy close to my heart, as always xoxo

  2. wen October 12, 2017 @ 6:47 pm

    postscript: Bravo for the nonhysterical news and useful links <3

  3. Risa Aratyr October 13, 2017 @ 1:13 am

    Thanks for the kind words and for keeping us close in your heart, Wen. Being safe, being together, and seeing the house still intact today certainly helps with that calm you mention. Far more impressive are the folks who have already lost everything and are responding by working the front lines as volunteers at the shelters, doing supply runs, keeping the support networks going. Crises like this bring out the worst in a few, and the very best in the many.

  4. Roy Jimenez October 12, 2017 @ 8:16 pm

    I love you

  5. Risa Aratyr October 13, 2017 @ 1:14 am

    I love you, too – heart of my heart.

  6. Janet Guastavino October 12, 2017 @ 8:29 pm

    Dearest Risa, it is so comforting to “hear” your voice—through your writing—at a time like this. Your updates are helping to keep your many loving fans from being sick with worry. I know it sounds selfish to say you are comforting US, when it should be the other way around, so a huge thank you to you. I am going to focus all my energy on animating those Shisa lion-dogs to do their job!

  7. Risa Aratyr October 13, 2017 @ 1:49 am

    Thanks so much, Jan. No, it does not sound selfish. It’s exactly the reaction I’d hoped for. The scale of this disaster overwhelms me, but on a small scale — one-on-one, on social media, with phone calls, emails, texts — my past experience has me well-prepared to help distraught neighbors and worried friends handle the anxiety and keep heart. Not on a par with beating back the flames, but we all do what we can, yeah?

  8. Declan Kenny October 13, 2017 @ 1:35 am

    I was just thinking of you this morning as I read the news; good to read your post, even if the updates are rather ominous. Stay safe. Losing two homes to fire would be, to use that classic Irish colloquialism, a right pain in the bollix, but nothing to losing lives.

  9. Risa Aratyr October 13, 2017 @ 2:25 am

    Oh, right you are, Dec. That’s my main message, my mantra-response to each new home-loss tragedy: “So very sorry the fire has taken everything from you; so very glad you are still here.”

  10. Christopher Jones October 13, 2017 @ 10:59 am

    Thanks for letting us know that you are safe, Risa. I only know about your situation through reading your blog every once in a great while; you and I haven’t seen each other in more than forty years. All the same, my first thought when I heard about the fires in Sonoma County was “What about Risa and her husband?”

    We went through a very similar experience: we owned a home in the Oakland hills at the time of the 1991 fire. Our home was spared, but it was only a block or two from the edge of the destruction. So you have my empathy as well as my sympathy.

    And you have the prayers of an old friend.


  11. Risa Aratyr October 13, 2017 @ 3:48 pm

    I saw your comment a couple hours ago, but instead of responding, I’ve been basking in the delight of hearing from you. Yes, more than 40 years — and I can’t tell you how it warms my heart that you still think of me sometimes (and read my blog!), as I often think of you. I’ve been thinking on the Oakland Fire as well this past week. We know several folks who lost their homes in that horrific blaze, but yours is the first tale of a narrow escape to come our way. I’m taking that as a good omen. Many thanks for reaching across the decades with your prayers and friendship, Chris. A gift of kindness . . . it means the world to me.

  12. Gigi Harris October 13, 2017 @ 7:33 pm

    Sending love, good spirits, wisdom & wishes for long lives. Much Love, Gigi (Becky Walton’s daughter)

  13. Risa Aratyr October 14, 2017 @ 3:16 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful wishes, the love, and the support, Gigi – from the bottom of my heart.

  14. Janet Guastavino October 13, 2017 @ 10:37 pm

    Christopher Jones, as I live and breathe! I have often wondered how life has been treating you, and it blows my mind to find you here.
    I know it’s shameless to use Risa’s blog to communicate with you, but I just couldn’t let the opportunity pass. Best wishes to you and yours!

Sitting Here in Limbo

Write-Minded Comments (14)

sonoma_county_fire_from_rohnert_park_by_al_francis; via Petaluma Patch

I know we’ll be ok, my husband and I.  I appreciate our friends’ frantic messages – get out now! stay safe! don’t hesitate to evacuate! – but really, no worries, sweethearts.  Roy has some practice in fleeing property-threatening fires, and we are both skilled in the art of letting go of our home and all our precious possessions.

In fact, this time ‘round we’ve had ample time to save some stuff.  We’ve got the back of the car loaded with a suitcase each (clothes, toiletries, chargers, important papers), our laptops and cords, our temp-housemate’s computer, a plastic tub (a few charred keepsakes saved from the last fire, some items from Bryn & Daymon’s wedding that didn’t make the trip back to Houston, a few pairs of my fave earrings), my stage manager’s kit (terrific emergency accessory), and even a precious personal item – a Caucasian rug I simply adore (it made it through the last 150+ years intact; no way is it dying on my watch).

We believe the house will be ok, too, though we have no practical rationale to offer.  It’s possible our brains have simply defaulted to denial:  no way could we lose two homes to fire in just five years, right?  It could be blind optimism; not usually a problem for me, but there is so much panic in the smoky Sonoma air these days, I could be swinging to the opposite pole just to maintain a sense of balance.

I think my faith is born of my trust in the California fire-fighters and the legions of dedicated people supporting their unceasing efforts.  What they did just last night on the Sonoma containment perimeter . . . words cannot describe my gratitude and admiration.

Cal Fire Crew via County of Napa

I’m putting my faith in the Gods, as well.  This place has protections the last place did not.  Directionally-appropriate items of power were added to the corners as the foundation was being poured.  Runes were scratched into the framed walls.  Shisa lion-dogs were embedded in the house-posts specifically to guard our new home against fire.

My faith is also bolstered by the outpouring of kindness, concern, and action from the community.  I am in favor of keeping the few roads that are still open as clear as possible for official emergency vehicles, but evacuees driving back up to the area to deliver donated masks, water, supplies for the shelters . . . no fault there.  Just good folks doing what they can.

Not all FB posts are helpful, not all information going out is accurate.  For the real deal, sign up with NIXLE for alerts from our 1st Responders and visit the CAL FIRE website; their incident page is particularly useful.

At the moment, our home is in an advised evac area.  Not a caution to look for evac notices, not a mandate to leave.  Our theory is Cal Fire wants our neighborhood to empty out now, to avoid fatally gridlocked lanes in our maze-like corner of town, should the aptly-named Diablo winds wreak fresh havoc and send the fires whipping in our direction.

Click HERE for a regularly updated map of the Sonoma County fire hotspots.  Below is a map of the current evacuation zones.  We are at the house today, but sleeping at my sister’s in a more southerly part of Sonoma; just as smoky, but not under evacuation.

As I sit typing this, a squirrel runs down the long-boled oak, the tree’s smoke-stressed leaves stir in the breeze, the late afternoon sun shines through the haze more golden than it has in many a day, and occasional flakes of ash drift by my window.  Fingers crossed, people.  Fingers crossed.

Risa Aratyr @ October 12, 2017

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