It’s been three weeks since my last Seven for Saturday post but it feels more like 3 months. What a good feeling it is to be back to blogging and feel some normalcy.
Thank you for all the wonderful comments on my last post. I tried to keep up with replies but other things got in the way. I still intend to respond to each one in time. Your comments and words of concern and kindness brought me great comfort and it is such a treat to hear from you.
This week’s Seven for Saturday is related to the recent fires here in Northern California, which probably won’t be too much of a surprise. It’s the only thing on my mind these days.
1 – Home Sweet Home
Tori and I and our four furry kids were able to return home three days ago. My friend Michelle, who had been caring for Sandy the Chicken at her home in Sonoma for eight days, brought Sandy home to us.
My eldest stepdaughter, who is a paramedic, lost the home she rented with her boyfriend in the fires. Thankfully, they have found a new home to rent in Santa Rosa and move in next month.
Bill is back to his regular schedule at work which means he comes home in time for a late dinner, then leaves very early the next morning. What a gift it is to have us all back together again.
Outside and inside our home smelled very smoky and a layer of ash coated everything outside. Thanks to a decent rainfall Thursday, that ash and smoke mostly went away. Our home even smells clean again.
We unpacked our things, threw away lots of spoiled and contaminated food, started loads of laundry, cleaned up the yard and tried our best to get back to normal, whatever that is.
We cannot believe our street – a dead end street with about 30 homes – is mostly undamaged. As far as I know, the only fire losses on our street are a couple burned sheds and a camping trailer. The damage from the wind storm was worse, peppering our street and yards with limbs and branches, toppling fences and smashing a roof or two.
The fire came very, very close to our street. In fact, the containment line is just a few yards from our home. I am overwhelmingly relieved and thankful to have a home and neighborhood to return to. Sadly, so many fellow wine country residents do not. A neighborhood close to ours was completely devastated. Many friends and fellow Kenwoodians lost their homes. It’s shocking and heart-breaking to see it in person, to say the least.
2 – Dishwashing as Therapy
Our dishwasher was on the blink before the fires. When we returned, it was inoperable. We could hardly care given the circumstances but the dishes did need to be washed.
The last thing I wanted to do was hand wash a dishwasher full of moldy, stinky dishes when I had so many other things to do. But it had to be done so my stepdaughter and I decided to tackle it together. In silence, she washed and I dried. It was the most calming thing I had done in 11 days.
I find tasks that don’t require much thought are best. As much as I would love to put some energy into cleaning out our pantry or editing my wardrobe, I just don’t think I have it in me yet. Maybe I’ll dust off the old iron and ironing board this weekend.
3 – Neighborly Neighborhood
One wonderful result of the fires is our neighborhood is much tighter. We have lived here for close to 18 years and, while we are friendly with our neighbors and know nearly all of them, we don’t spend much time chatting with them. Lately, it seems there is always someone walking or driving by or cleaning up their yard. Instead of waving and carrying on, we all stop and check in with each other.
One neighbor who owns a vacation home on our street stopped by with a bouquet of flowers to thank us for sending her updates on our neighborhood whenever we had them throughout the ordeal. I hope this closeness with our neighbors continues.
4 – Beauty Remains
Parts of Sugarloaf State Park near our home, which includes the mountains that cradle our picturesque valley, have been burned in certain areas. To me, they remain beautiful and majestic and the scorched areas aren’t as dramatic and noticeable as I imagined they would be. I plan to return to Sugarloaf to hike and explore as soon as it reopens.
I am very much looking forward to springtime when the park will be blanketed with green grass and lots and lots of wild flowers. I will be giving my camera quite the workout!
5 – New 50th Birthday Plans
I turn 50 in 4 days. Finally! Though I won’t be celebrating in Paris like I had planned, I will be taking a mini-vacation to acknowledge this milestone birthday and welcome a new personal era.
Bill and I are taking a few days to enjoy wine country. Yes, we want to spend our tourism dollars right here! I’ll be posting about my birthday getaway on Instagram starting Tuesday. I am so excited to finally experience the luxury hotel we booked. It’s been on my hotel bucket list for years!
6 – Thank you to First Responders!
As a wife, aunt, sister-in-law, stepmother and friend to several first responders, it gives me such joy to see all the thanks and admiration first responders have received and continue to receive since the fires broke out. Many of them put their lives on the line to save others. Our local grocery store chain is giving away these signs to customers. We put ours up on our fence a couple days ago with pride. If you’re local, get yours at Oliver’s Market!
7- How You Can Help
Our region has suffered a huge blow. Lives were lost. Homes and businesses were destroyed.
Many residents and businesses – including those not directly impacted by the fires – will be picking up the pieces and are sure to suffer for a long time to come due to economic hardship. That is the bad news.
The good news is many businesses are open, ready to serve you and you can help them thrive!
~ If you have plans to visit Sonoma, Napa and/or Mendocino counties, please don’t cancel your plans. Many, many businesses including most wineries, hotels and restaurants, were unharmed and they would love to welcome you with open arms to wine country.
~ If you live in the Bay Area, plan a vacation, overnight getaway or just a day trip to wine country. Businesses are ready to wine, dine and pamper you. The smoke has cleared, the roads have re-opened and fabulous food, shopping, wine and friendly hospitality awaits.
~ If you can’t visit in person anytime soon, support us by buying, drinking and gifting Napa and Sonoma wines!
If you are interested in helping by donating to a charity, I recommend the following organizations:
How I Wear My is still on for November! The theme for next month is Blazer.
To participate, send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 6, 2017 and be sure to include a description of your outfit, which we will use directly in our posts. The post will go live November 8th.
I want to thank you again for your kindness these last two weeks.