10 May 2009

The Fire is Almost Out!

It's Mother's Day and I started the day with a call to my dearest mum. With the fire under control and everyone back in their homes I woke up feeling great. Then chatting with Mum I felt even happier. She was treated to home made roast lamb and salads by her daughter in law, Risha. Pam and I sent her flowers so she's having a pretty good day.
Here in Santa Barbara, the weather has cooled down a whole lot and we are all so, so delighted about it. We spent the morning sweeping out ash and unpacking boxes. Sadly, homes were destroyed by this fire, but not as many as feared - I think a little over 30. The last fire - the Tea Fire - in November took down close to 200 homes. So even though the Jesusita Fire (named after a trail where the fire started - and is not meant to be Jesus it's a fire!) was so much more of a battle it wasn't as destructive as the previous fire.
It was such a good feeling today to think about normal things - like international news and summer vacation and read Maureen Dowd's column and view a clip of Obama's funny speech at the WH press dinner last night, etc.
Only 3 serious weeks of school left. I can't believe it. Am I ready for summer?
Have a great week, folks!

08 May 2009

Trying to survive another fire!

Things are pretty bleak out here in Santa Barbara. A thick cloud of smoke hangs over our city and its been raining ash all morning. Outside the air is smoky and hot and dry. We have to stay indoors with windows and doors closed. Those of us lucky enough to still have a home, that is. I'm among the lucky group that hasn't lost a home, or has had to evacuate. But we are in the warning zone, so the order to evacuate could come at any moment. It's a miserable feeling. We've got our important stuff packed and some change of clothes. Beyond that - I find it really hard to decide what to try to save. It's quite a weird feeling to contemplate the real possibility that everything you own could be turned to ash.

This fire that rages through Santa Barbara is called the Jesusita Fire. It started on Tuesday - May 2 - just as I was dismissing my students. One of them pointed to the cloud of smoke on the slope in front of us. "Look, Ms. Moodley, looks like a fire." And yes, it was - a monster of a fire tearing through our hills and heading into the neighborhoods. The extreme heat and dryness and evening sundowners conspired together and the fire has spread and grown and now its destructions stretches from Montecito to Goleta. All schools are closed, roads have been blocked off, events have been cancelled - it's awful.

Last night, as the winds picked up the fire turned fierce and raced in our direction. We had to pack up and be prepared to evacuate. Of course, we couldn't sleep because there was so much uncertaintly about the fire. There was a very real possibility we would have to evacuate in the middle of the night. Thankfully, we didn't need to.
Today, I'm wrecked from lack of sleep and worry. When is this nightmare going to end? The one positive thing is that our lives aren't in any danger. We will definitely have enough time to get to a safe place if the fire gets too close.

06 May 2009

Smoldering Santa Barbara

Another fire devours our mountain slopes. The fourth major one in less than two years. This is getting old. My school is closed today because of the fire. Our second "fire" day this year. Many of my students had to be evacuated from their homes last night. Fortunately, we aren't in any danger where we live so no need to prepare for evacuations. It seems that things are under control now - twenty hours after is all started.

So, on another topic, Daryl and I are proud to say that we have been working hard to help the economy. We have just bought a huge flat screen TV, an iPod Touch, and a Blu-ray player, to name just a few of our purchases. We feel smug about this - the act of purchasing, that is. In fact, we might even be accused of, ahem, dare I say it, patriotism! I have to say, this consumerist behavior is all rather discombobulating, though. We agonize over how to offset our carbon footprints each time we watch a DVD on the monster screen. The guilt - oh the guilt .... Someday, perhaps when these gadgets are passe, we'll be able to enjoy them.

Is it really the last month of school? I'm not counting the days. It's May, ffs. My absolute favorite month of the year. Here, in Santa Barbara, there's beauty all over. Our mountain slopes are still green and flowers are in bloom everywhere. The purple jacaranda flowers are gorgeous. And what a pleasure to shop at farmer's market. Fava beans, asparagus, basil, peas - yum, yum. Goodbye lentils and dried beans and soups. Our friends, Brangwyn and Stephan taught me how to make this delicious fava bean spread flavored with mint and lemon juice and served with warm pita. It's a winner!

At school, I'm having the best time ever with my 3rd graders. I adore them all. They love learning and are so eager to please. Sometimes, I feel guilty about working them too hard. I tend to raise the bar a tad high and I know I ought to relax a bit regarding my expectations. At the moment we are working on a play/musical. This is an established third grade event at my school and whoever came up with the idea - I salute you. What a great way to maintain enthusiasm as the school year winds down. Out play is called TIDEPOOL CONDOS. It's the story of how Poseidon persuades a realtor not to build condominiums on the beach. Cute, funny, with songs the kids love singing. So we're having fun.

Now, if only my writing life would flourish! I need to place my historical fiction with some nice publisher and finish my current project asap!!