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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires - by not starting them, terrorist people

So Sunday there were fires. They were in an arc around the city of San Diego. Only one channel had a lot of coverage on it. The channel that was playing the football game. What is that? NBC?

Anyway, Monday morning I woke up and it was dark and cloudy. I drove to work and the traffic was a little lighter than a usual Monday. I listened to the news, and it sounded bad. There were some fires up north too. Way worse than the night before. The fires were bigger, a few more had started. Areas were being evacuated throughout the day. So a lot of the restaurants in our shopping center didn't open. Of course the franchises,Quizno's and Rubio's were open. We ended up closing after 2pm. There was a light dusting of ash on the pavement and our cars. Qualcomm stadium was being set up as an evacuation center. It's outdoors! But I guess there were booths set up and a band playing. They were trying to make it seem like a street festival or something. How pleasant...except for the smoke and the sleeping on those chairs or in tents. And wondering if your house is burning or if your horses are okay.

I went home, and the FP had been plastered in front of the tv all day. It wasn't as smokey at home. So we went and made groceries at Pancho Villa's to get him out of the house. He made like a beef mole rojo and spanish rice. I don't know exactly what he put in the mole, but I saw garlic, onions, maybe new mexico dried chilis, tortilla chips and crushed tomatoes. He fried that shit,then pureed it, then stewed the beef in it. I made nopal salad with red onion, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and rice vinegar (wonder where we got the idea for that) and some weird cauliflour. I wanted an almost curried cauliflour. I sauteed onion and garlic, then I added cumin, coriander, salt, red pepper flake, cardamom, clove, cinnamon - but I wanted something else. I think I wanted mustard seed, so I put spicy brown mustard in it. Just a spoonful, but it was way too much. It tasted okay when you drowned it in the mole actually. The mole was a little sweet, so the cauliflour was the perfect counterpoint. We watched the news all night long, watching the fires get bigger, watching reporters standing too close and being told to move. Watching the ones that looked stupid with the goggles and surgical masks. Some people called the FP to ask if we were okay. Eventually, all the schools were shut down for Tuesday.

Tuesday morning, there was no traffic. It was very smokey. I woke up with a sore throat and a tightly stuffed up nose. When I blew my nose, there was ash and blood. Still lots of news about the fires on the radio. 94.9 is broadcasting KPBS' programming because their transmitter burned down or something. People started coming in. Some were families that evacuated. They looked tired and hungry. They got omelettes, crepes with fruit, ice cream whipped cream. Hearty comfort food. The Princess made a comment how some people smelled. I told her they probably evacuated and hadn't showered in a few days. She laughed and said, "oh yeah, I'm so insensitive." Then we were dead for a few hours. Later on, almost 1 pm, we got hit. I think all the neighborhood people came out. They were probably a little stir crazy watching all that news. On the drive home, every time I drove through a canyon (I'm not a geographist, but you know what I mean, right) there was a thick haze of smoke. Everyone was advised to stay home, keep the roads clear, not to breathe in the outside air.

I talked to Long Island, a coworker who lives in Chula Vista. She had been confined to the apartment. She works at King's in Chula Vista which was closed. She said it was very close to the fire, and the evacuation zone was maybe a mile away from her apartment. Her husband went out to walk the dog, and he put a coffee filter on the dog's muzzle as a makeshift facemask. It was so smoky and ashy, and they were just waiting for the word. But they never had to evacuate, luckily.

So on the way home I was listening to one of the radio stations. This jackass DJ, I wish I knew who,started comparing Qualcomm Stadium and the situation to... the Superdome and Katrina. I swear. No joke. He said how it was all organized andp pleasant. San Diegans stepping up and helping out other San Diegans. I am not joking. Really. Because it's an identical situation. Oh yeah. Let's see. They both have wind - fires and hurricanes. Okay. I'll give him that. Let's see some more. Hurricanes have...water. Wildfires have...what's the opposite of water? Oh yeah, FIRE. These fires, while buring down like 200,000 acres, did not sweep through the whole area. With Katrina, the Superdome was surrounded by water. Everyone in the city was in need of aid. With these fires, some people are walking around in hell, wondering if their place is okay, stressing about the present and future. Other people are fine. They go to work, go home, watch tv. Maybe they didn't go to work, but they could have. Some of these people feel bad for the others and offer up help. They could drive their car to the Walmart, buy water, then drive to Qualcomm and drop it off. The evacuations are called as needed for different areas. People can stream into Qualcomm as needed. Entry to the Superdome pretty much had a deadline. After Katrina, I suppose one could have driven to Walmart and gotten water... but. Do I need to go on? I shouldn't have ranted this long.......

Tuesday afternoon, when I got home, I told the FP about the smoke. He had been cooped up for so long (or it felt like that to him since his class that night was cancelled), that he wanted to go for a drive and see it. So we took a long drive up north. We saw a plume of black smoke and some areas of the interstate were hazier than others. It was very bizarre. My chest felt very mucusy and heavy like when I used to smoke a pack a day.

When we got back to our neighborhood, the air seemed so much clearer in comparison. We knew we were supposed to sit at home and be good, so we went out to Saigon to eat. The FP had pho, we had spring rolls and I had the chinese broccoli with chicken. It was so damn good. We hadn't been there forever, and it was nice to get out of the house. I talked to my mom. She said that she thought the fires were mostly in Malibu. Fucking Malibu. Okay, movie stars live there with multimillion dolllar homes. That is more newsworthy than horse farms and livestock farms and $2 million dollar mansions I guess. Although other stations that my mom probably didn't see because she is one of the last people in the US to not have cable, were broadcasting headlines that said "SAN DIEGO BURNING" "SAN DIEGO IN FLAMES"

Wednesday. There were definitely more people on the road. Although all the schools were closed for the whole week. There was way less coverage of the fires on the radio,even though they didn't seem to be contained. A few more people called or texted or sent myspace messages or bulletins. I mean does 1% contained sound like progress? Anyway, all the restaurants were back open, but everyone was pretty slow. Slower than usual anyway. The FP didn't work again. We ate leftovers.

The FP is finally working tonight. I had heard barely anything new about the fires, but it seems like there are still places being evacuated. The one day of work this week for him. I'm not sure what's for dinner tonight. Maybe hamburger helper? Actually, I love american chop suey. That's a thought. Thursday is usually marinara sauce night....Maybe something like they used to have at Boylston Deli in Boston. I wonder if that place is still open.

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