Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sometimes there simply are no words....


I am living in hell right now, and it's a damn scary place. I have no knowledge or wisdom to impart at this moment...I'm just too scared. This picture (taken by Con Marshall) is of a location 3 blocks south of my home last night; the tall building outlined is a student dormitory at Chadron State College. Thankfully, the fire was contained on this front before it breached the college buildings and could move into town. It is still raging out of control to the east and south of town and another fire is raging out of control to the south and west of town, as are two other large fires in the northwestern Panhandle region of Nebraska (USA) where I live. Pray for rain, little ones, lots and lots of rain....

Update 7/30/06: The town is safe, but the fire is raging out of control south of town, and all the homes and the state park in that area have been evacuated; three homes have been lost and four damaged so far. There is no end in sight - the fire incident commander says it could be 2 to 3 weeks before they have things under control, and that's assuming more fires don't start. The weather is not our friend right now. You can follow the news of these fires on our local radio station's web site at http://www.chadrad.com.

Should you feel so inclined, a fund has been set up to help those affected by all the fires in Dawes and Sioux Counties here in Nebraska:

In a press release delivered to KCSR radio Sunday morning (7/30/06) it was announced that a fund is being set up for both victims and the volunteers impacted by the recent wildfires in Dawes and Sioux Counties.

The release says the wildfires in Dawes and Sioux Counties have severely impacted many people, both the victims and volunteers. The communities recognize the financial burden and have established a relief fund. The purpose of the fund is to provide emergency financial relief and support to victims and volunteers impacted by the fires in Dawes and Sioux counties.

Financial donations may be sent or delivered to any financial institution in Dawes or Sioux counties. The donations may be also be mailed to Dawes-Sioux Fire Fund, P.O. Box 1125, Chadron, NE 69337, USA.

Please keep praying for rain, little ones....

Update 7/31/06: Things are not a whole lot better today, I fear. Containment of the Spotted Tail fire (south east of Chadron) is happening, but the Roberts fire (south west of Chadron) is out of control and moving south and west and more people have been evacuated. But it's the town of Harrison (50 miles west of Chadron) that is directly in harm's way today. The Thayer fire (north east of Harrison) is growing in all directions and heading for Harrison; the entire town has been told to be ready to evacuate, and evacuation plans are in place. The Rudloff fire (further south east of Harrison) is out of control as well. The weather has changed, temperatures have dropped, humidity is up, but so are the winds. Thunderstorms are in the forecast, and while that does mean rain, it also means lightning....please, please, please keep praying for rain, little ones.

This photo is of "C Hill" on the south end of the CSC campus (taken by CSC staff), which was burned in the fire Friday night. I drove a short way south of town today and the entire landscape is black....it is a devastating site to see the forest we here in Chadron all love and live in destroyed.

Update 7/31/06, 10pm: Your prayers are working, little ones! The weather has turned cool, the winds have died down, and rain is forecast for tonight and tomorrow. All the areas that had been evacuated have been reopened. All the folks in the know say the worst of it *might* be over! A HUGE sigh of relief can be heard throughout the northern Nebraska panhandle. But just to be on the safe side, please keep those prayers coming, little ones....

Update 8/1/06, 9am: Things are looking SO good this morning! All of the major fires in the nothern Nebraska panhandle are under some level of containment. The mop up for the fires will likely take weeks, but the immediate danger is gone. The weather is cool and rainy across the area this morning, and this has allowed the firefighters to really get things under control. In fact, several of the firefighting teams are headed home today. Last night we drove around part of the burned area (just south of the college campus, where 3 homes were lost, and east of town); the devastation of the area is heartbreaking. The fire burned so hot and so fast that in some areas it burned the pine forest quite literally to ashes; however, in other areas the trees are still standing, though the likelihood that they will die off over time is high. The wildlife that was forced out of the fire areas is all over the place near, and in, town. I think we'll all be dealing with deer, turkeys, little critters, and lots more birds in town until next spring when the grasses at least grow back. I will eventually get some picture up of what it looks like around here now.

The local radio station's web site crashed yesterday because it was getting 400,000 hits per hour, so they had to remove the picture galleries for now. You can find pictures and information of the fire on campus on the CSC web site at http://www2.csc.edu/news/list.pl?article=1517, and information and pictures of the Dawes County fires at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/368/.

Thank you all for your prayers, little ones; now, send out a huge shout of thanks to all the firefighters and volunteers who have worked so hard for us here in the northern Nebraska panhandle. I am quite convinced they are all angels!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

BFF


"BFF" (Best Friend[s] Forever) is a phrase (or abbreviation) tossed about in the current entertainment media so much that it is almost a throw-away term with no meaning any more. How very sad, because real, honest-and-true BFFs are pure gold. I have many BFFs in my life and I know what a joyous gift they are.

What brought me to this subject was a phone call I made just yesterday to one of my oldest and dearest friends on this earth. She and I met when we were five or six years old, and we have been true and fast friends ever since. We went to school together, roomed together part of the time we were in college, and have maintained a solid gold friendship in the intervening decades. We are the kind of friends that can not talk for months and months, then pick up right where we left off when we do finally connect again. We have lived far apart for decades, but the gods have seen fit to toss us back into the same region now where we are only a short day's drive apart. I have no doubt there any many new adventures for us on the horizon, and the times we do connect will start to increase.

I know from wonderful experience that a true BFF IS forever, and with your BFF you will always feel ageless, empowered, and loved. So develop and nourish those friendships, little ones - make all the BFFs you can - for they really are golden!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Random Photo of Breathtaking Beauty #6


This was taken on the Buffalo Bill Dam, Southfork side, west of Cody, Wyoming, in March 2006. I call it "Solitude: A Boy and His Dog."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Words To Live By #4: You Get What You Give


Karma...it'll shower you with love or bite you in the @ss - it all depends on YOU. Another of my many life mantras is "you get what you give." If you toss anger, negativity, and pessimism out to the cosmos, it will fly right back at ya and whop you upside the head. But if you toss love, positive energy, good deeds, and optimism to the cosmos, you will be rewarded with waves of good energy, good fortune, and love.

I've lived long enough to know how true this is, little ones. So make wise, well-thought-out, positive choices in your life; be a glass-half-full person; look for the silver lining, or better yet, MAKE the silver lining happen.

You get with you give, little ones, so give only the best!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Obsessions...


We all have 'em ... some lurk in the shadows, others shine in the daylight ... but wherever they may dwell, they are inextricably a part of each of us.

My obsessions cover a myriad of things ... mountains (that's probably one of the strongest), food (which explains why there's about 2x more of me today than there was 25 years ago), authors and their words (LOVE Annie Proulx, Mark Spragg, Janet Evanovich, Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs...), musicians and their tunes (Prince, k.d. lang, Frank Zappa, Norah Jones, Chris Issak, Elton John, Dixie Chicks...), actors (Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams, Johnny Depp, Sean Connery, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts...), movies (Brokeback Mountain, Reds, Purple Rain, The Godfather, Sleepless in Seattle...). Obsessions are fun to feed, but the coolest thing about obsessions is the way they make you learn. You become obsessed with something/ someone/ whatever, and you begin searching out everything you can on that obsession (god bless the Internet for providing such a wealth of pertinent information, as well as ungodly amounts of likely inaccurate information, but interesting crap nonetheless).

Obsessions are, I think, a necessary part of life. Just keep your obsessions at a healthy level of curiosity (stay far, far away from letting your obsessions take control of your life, please), and you'll be amazed at what you might learn along the way.

So go on, little ones, obsess away (in moderation, of course)!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Difference Between Guys and Gals


A few incidents occurred this past week that really illustrated the difference between the male and the female psyches. The first story involves a car and a cat: A girl accidentally hits a cat that runs out in the street in front of her car; she is so upset by the incident that she forgets what the purpose of her trip in the car was and drive homes, very upset. A guy accidentally hits a cat that runs out the int street in front of his car, and he backs up and runs over it again to be sure it's dead. Ewwww... that visual was not pleasant, but I understand the philosophy. (Do not bother to post comments about the thoughtlessness, brutality, etc., of the guy point of view, cuz I'll just delete 'em - cuz I can... there's a little bit of "guy philosophy" in me, too.)

The second incident happened at 11:39 pm Friday night: Our son comes home, says "A bunch of us guys are going camping out by Bordeaux Creek - we'll be back in the morning." He grabs a sleeping bag, they toss a futon mattress in the bed of a truck, and off they go. I was amazed at this spur-of-the-moment adventure, and it got me to thinking about camping adventures I had when I was his age. We would plan for weeks, writing menus, shopping for food, packing all the right clothes (warm clothes in case it got cold, shorts and swimsuits in case it was hot, at least 3 pairs of shoes, coats, boots), getting a big tent from one of our fathers, sleeping bags, cots (we never slept on the ground - heaven forbid!), lanterns... it was a bloody danged expedition! We could have never gone off on the spur of the moment - there was too much to do, too much to take.... I think we might have been missing the point, don't you?! And as bad as my friends and I were, my sister and her buddies were worse - they'd do all the same planning, then pitch a tent in our backyard, run an extension cord (or 2 or 3) through the bathroom window, and take out a TV and a lamp - then they'd spend a few nights "roughing it" in the backyard.

The third incident involved the simple question of a male to a female of "How are you feeling?" She told him how she was feeling, and he was rather dumbfounded by that... he said when you ask a guy that question, the only answer you ever get is "Fine," or "Crappy" ...no explanation, no dialogue, just a one-word answer.

Oh yes, little ones, there ARE major differences between guys and gals ...and we're not talkin' physical differences - those can be counted and itemized - we are talkin' psychological differences, and they are infinite. Be afraid, little ones, be very afraid....