Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lessons Learned from the Boykin Road Fire

I originally wrote this to post on June 23rd on Band Back Together, but after thinking about it I wanted to share it here too.  

 Monday, June 20th, 2011 at 5:30 pm a fire sparked on the road behind my house.  One downed power line caused over 6000 acres to burn, two homes to be lost and 24 of the most terrifying hours of my life.  The area is very hilly and covered by dead grass, mesquite and cedar trees and around 300 homes sprinkled in and out and around.  My house sits on a hill with a valley behind and another hill on the other side.
This is what I learned from this experience:

1) Life can change in an instant.  When my husband left the house to pick me up from work there was nothing wrong.  10 minutes later the fire had started and was well on it's way to out of control.

2) I have an idea of what hell looks like.  In pitch black night with nothing to see for hundreds of acres but flames I got a pretty good idea.  At the time my thought was somewhere along the lines of "please God make it stop".  I think.

3) The #1 benefit of twitter is to be able to tell somebody how horrified you are at 3:00 in the morning when everyone around you is just as horrified as you are.  My husband knew how terrified I was.  Telling him wasn't going to help anything.

4) My wheelchair bound, disabled husband sat up all night and watched the fire so I could try to sleep a little.  My wheelchair bound, disabled husband protected me.  I've known perfectly healthy men on two legs who would not have made a stand like that.

5) Thank God my husband has never been a "darling, honey, sweetie, baby" kind of guy.  When he woke me up to get me out of the house because the fire was right outside our house and all I could think about was getting shoes on "Baby, we have to go" got my attention more than anything else could have.

6)  I will never look at a camp fire the same again.

7) When packing to leave, I gave no thought for my new tv or refrigerator.  All I wanted was enough clothes to get us through a few days and my family.  EVERYTHING else can be replaced.

8 ) When you think something is over, it isn't necessarily over.  The fire had gone miles away from us and then the wind changed and turned back around and came right for us.  I was sleeping soundly several hours later thinking it was over when we had to evacuate....again.
9) Never underestimate the power of a hot shower and the ability to brush your teeth.

10) It's not very often that you get Utah Forest Service guys in your front yard in Texas.  I wish they didn't have to be there.  I love every one of them, though.

11) I appreciate the state trooper who told us if we left to go get ice (after the fire was 100% contained and they were working on hot spots) we may not be able to get back in.  I love the sheriff's deputy who later told us he knew who we were and we'd have no problem getting back in as long as the hot spots were down.  I especially loved him when we returned and he asked why we didn't bring him back a beer.

12) Apparently it takes a few days to recover physically and emotionally from that kind of thing.  We've been out of danger for over 48 hours and I feel like crap still.  Of course, I might have breathed in a little more smoke than I should have and I've only had 3 migraines since then.  Maybe I should cut myself some slack.

13) I will never, ever, ever question my granddaughter when she doesn't see her mom and gets scared.  Three times the other night I went outside and saw darkness and flames and couldn't see my husband.  I was screaming for him and didn't really care that I sounded like a frightened child.  At age 40....I was one.
and last but not least

14) You never know who is watching.  I am now on a news channel commercial....in my pajamas....and I never saw a camera.

So our fire is over.  All the hot spots are probably out by now.  We now have a beautiful new fire break as  landscape.  Life should be getting back to normal.  But I have a feeling I will never be the same again.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Where Have I Been?

Short answer...everywhere!

I haven't blogged in a month. It's been a crazy month full of exciting events: softball/blast ball, dancing, graduation and babies, baby!

A lot of those events involved my local granddaughters. The older one is in the beginning softball stages where they get 5 attempts to hit the ball and the coach does the pitching. Once we figured out she really isn't a lefty she started getting some hits. I predict a lot of time at softball fields in my future. The younger one played blast ball where you hit from a tee, run to first base and step on a base that has a blast from a horn....hence the name. It was her very first season so we'll see if theres a future in it...either way lots of softball hair in the future.

The dancing involved the same two girls. A recital for both and yesterday a talent show for the oldest. See prediction about softball....

Graduation....ahhh graduation. What can I say. I have a love/hate relationship with graduation. This was my second year to be "she who is in charge of graduation" at my school. Much easier than the first for two reasons, experience is the best teacher and I have the best boss in the world. He got out of my way and just let me do my thing. The only major hitch was nothing I could have foreseen/prevented. When it was finished I went home and slept the sleep of the just or the sleep of someone who had only gotten three hours of sleep of the previous 24. Either way...I slept. But I love it and hate it because while it's the celebration of hard work and the achievements of our graduates it means saying goodbye to some pretty awesome young people, but I have to remember next fall means the introduction of a new batch of awesome young people.

My other graduation was older granddaughter kindergarten graduation. I watched her sit on stage with her legs crossed like a young lady and my heart just broke at the thought that she's not a baby anymore. But she's an incredible little girl and I can't wait to see what the future holds for her. Next year 1st grade and pre-k for her little sister. (Memo to me...find out principal's favorite cookies....)

Now the babies, a new niece and a new nephew. New niece is a first baby for her parents and first grandchild my parents have in the same town...I predict spoiled, but in a totally adorable way. And the new nephew is the last baby for his parents, I predict same. I would say they saved the best for last but he's got some pretty freaking awesome older brothers and sisters. His oldest sister posted junior prom pics last week-end. Go back and re-read part of granddaughters graduation and apply here... Also, new nephews mommy gave us quite a scare, but Jesus is the Great Healer and it's all good now.

And to update last blog post...job still up in the air but it's more which campus will I work on instead of will I have a job. So not as stressed there. And we still haven't had a bad fire nearby but we haven't had more than .05" of rain either. However, I don't obsess about it like I was.

Next up...summer hours. Four 10 hour days and three days off. Also, a wedding, a birthday and an anniversary.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Boiling Frogs

One thing I've learned over the years is that life is never all good and it's never all bad.  Some times are better than others and some are worse than others, but neither lasts forever.  Also, if you pay attention, no matter how bad things are you can always find something good somewhere.  Conversely, if you're the type, no matter how good things are you can always find something bad somewhere.  In my experience, the really good times are easy.  (Thank you, Captain Obvious)  I also have an easier time dealing with life when it's bad, bad, bad.  Not to say it isn't hard, but thanks to the Bible, AA and Al-Anon, I've got tools.  And when life is bad, I get out those tools.  And I use them.  I'm in church, I'm in meetings, I'm in the Bible, I'm in prayer, I'm in my Big Book, I'm working the steps, the 3rd, 7th and 11th step prayers are on my mind constantly.  I'm praying for guidance, I'm looking for the lesson, I'm asking for help.  I work my butt off to get to the other side.

Then there's the some good, some bad times.  Where I've got some good things going on and I've got some bad things going on, but not one more than the other.  Because what usually seems to happen is I find out that someone's been boiling frogs and I'm the frog.

Explanation - if you're going to boil a live frog and you throw him in boiling water, he's just going to jump out.  But if you put him in a pot of cool water and slowly turn up the heat, he'll adjust with the water until he's boiled to death.  (I seriously don't want to know how this was first discovered.  Just work with me people.)

Well, I'm the frog again.

I have some super amazing things going on in my life.  I have not one, but two new babies coming into the family in a matter of weeks.  I just turned 40 which was a miracle and was seriously spoiled by friends and family.  I just got to spend the week-end with family I haven't seen in decades.  I just got to spend Spring Break with two of my granddaughters.  And my husband and I are in a really good place in our marriage right now.

However, it has occurred to me that there's some bad stuff going on too.  I've spent a lot of time lately waiting for the other shoe to drop in two major areas.  Areas that I've had some experience in the past and so they're producing a lot of fear. 

#1 - last year we got a lot of rain.  One of the wettest years in a long time.  It was wonderful.  The grass grew tall and pretty.  This year.  No rain.  In months.  Driest March on record.  That tall pretty grass is now called fuel.  Grass fires are everywhere.  No rain in the forecast.  High temps, low humidity and high winds - the triad of grass fires - are in the forecast.  So far there have been no grass fires in our area.  That will change.  If we don't get rain, that will change.  Three years ago, we had one close to our house.  One of the scariest experiences of my life.  And another one in town affecting a lot of people I know.  So I have been rather obsessively watching the weather reports, news of fires, watching the skies for smoke.  If someone is barbecuing, I panic.  I start freaking out and looking around for smoke plumes.  The husband does the same thing.  We talk about it A LOT.  I didn't realize just how much it consumes my time until the other day.

#2 - There have been some major budget cuts at work.  There will be more.  How bad will depend on the state legislature.  There will be layoffs.  I don't know if I will be one of them.  The husband and I work at the same place.  I don't know if he will be one of them.  People I know and care about may be getting laid off.  Best case scenario is we keep our jobs, but the work has to be done so it gets doubled/tripled and still has to be done in 40 hours.  I don't even want to think about worst case scenario.  I've been there.  It's not fun.  We live in a small town.  I have no idea what we'll do.  The thing is, we won't know anything really and truly definite until around July.  We keep getting updates.  It's all we talk about around here.  My boss is stressed out and I've been his sounding board (not complaining, just a fact).  The husband and I talk about it ad nauseum.  Who will it be?  What can they cut?  What are they going to do?  What are we going to do?

Not much I can do about either one except realize that the water has been getting turned up without me really paying attention to it and all those tools I listed are still available to me as long as I pick them up and use them.  I don't have the power to turn the water back down but I do have the power to keep from getting boiled alive. 

Acts 17:27-28 (NIV) God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us.  For in Him we live and move and have our being.

Philippians 4:6 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I love spring. It's one of my two favorite seasons. Fall being the other. But it is a crazy time of year for me. So crazy that I have 150 bazillion ideas for blog posts, but no time to actually do them and they're all heavy ideas. And I just don't wanna go there right now.

So instead I'm borrowing from Twitter's 100 facts about me thing and I'm gonna share 20 facts about me. Cause let's face it. Are there really 100 facts about me? Really? Or if I do 100 maybe I'll split them up in 5 weekly posts or something. So...

1) my favorite color is purple, but I'm not one of those 'my whole world has to be purple' people. I own a LOT of pink and brown.

2) I look like little miss innocent, so I've shocked people all my life with different facts about me and I enjoy the heck out of that.  I love the look on people's faces when I tell them something and they're all "Really?  You?" 

3) On my iPod is everything from Metallica to The Eagles to Nelly to Lady Gaga to Brooks and Dunn.

4) I watched professional wrestling from junior high up until a few years ago. Yes I KNOW it's fake. Not what I watch it for....

5) I was 39 years old before I realized I hate sloppy joes.

6) I once got an A- on a paper in high school when I should have gotten an F because the paper was so good she couldn't fail me just for a fragmented sentence. She chalked it up to artistic license.

7) This is the longest I've gone in years without completely chopping my hair off. I let it grow and grow and then get sick of it and want to chop it off. So far I'm good with it being long.

8) I don't like video games where I have to interact with people. Just leave me alone with my spider solitaire and it'll all be ok.

9) The proverb that means the most to me is 'Trust in God, but lock your car.'  That may be it's own blog post at some point...

10) I have a tattoo.  I have at least one more planned that has a lot of meaning to me.  I figured I would be a "one and done" person, but no.  I get the addiction.

11) I absolutely love NASCAR.  I follow it just a little obsessively.  There are more drivers I like than I don't like and Twitter has made me a complete Jimmie Johnson convert. 

12) I can only buy one box of Peeps at a time because I could (and would) eat my weight in them.

13) I hate washing dishes, doing laundry and ironing, but I absolutely love the result.

14) I worked as a car hop in high school and no I did not wear rollerskates.

15) Professional football, basketball and baseball annoy/bore the heck out of me.  I love college football, basketball and softball, but I haven't really been able to get into college baseball.  Baseball only really interests me if I have a player in the game. (I love me some t-ball.  That age is so stinkin' cute!)

16) I have rules about college sports.  If it's not in the Big 12 I'm not going to pay a lot of attention unless they're playing a Big 12 team.  #1 Team - Oklahoma State.  Always cheer over an Oklahoma team above any other.  No OK team, always cheer for the Texas team.  Texas teams playing each other, it's Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor and A & M in that order.  (Except for this year because the Aggie qb is from my town.)

17) Give me a cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper and I'll forgive anything.

18) I'm all about the acronym shows.  NCIS, NCIS - LA, CSI whatever, and then Criminal Minds because they're too cool for an acronym.  Especially NCIS and CM.  Seriously.  Syndication just feeds my addiction.  And then throw in Sons of Anarchy and Justified for good measure.  (I've gotta have some bad boys in the mix.)

19) I blame Fonzie and Vinnie Barbarino for my "bad boys in motorcycle jackets" thing.

20) I....love....lists.

I may have to do 100.  Just not now.  Maybe an every couple of weeks thing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Karma and my Lucky Day

I'm a firm believer in karma.  What you give out you get back.  How you treat others is how you're going to be treated.  However you want to word it, I am a firm believer in it.  Most of the time I think about it in negative connotations.  As in, the person that got me will eventually get got.  The most obvious example I have of this is a woman I know who at one time sued someone for something that she knowingly participated in.  But the other person did break some ethical and moral rules so she had grounds....but she really didn't.  She was mad and wanted the other person to pay.  She won a good sum of money.  Several months later another person stole the money from her.  I'm not sure what happened to him, but in my book it was a clear case of karma.

What I don't think about often is the good that comes back to people.  If you put out negative and you get negative then it reasonably follows that if you put out positive, you get it right back.  It may not be today and it may not be tomorrow, but eventually, you'll get it. 

A few weeks ago we had a basketball tournament at my school.  I willingly volunteered my time that week-end to help out and I had to buy a $45 ticket to pay for the privilege to do that.  I did it with little complaining (and by a little complaining I mean less than everybody else - I did gripe about it a little bit.)  But I was there.  Two of the booths set up there had raffles.  One group was raffling off chocolate.  (Never underestimate the power of free chocolate.  Seriously) The other group was raffling off an iPad.  The chocolate was a free raffle, so it was no big deal.  I wrote my name and number down and went off to support the team I was hosting.  A little while later my husband calls me.  I won the chocolate.  Sweet!  The funny thing is..he put his name in 4 or 5 times.  And I won it with my one little ticket.  Yay me!!  But then hubby tries to steal it from me. 

High off my win of the chocolate (and the sugar, obviously) I decided that with that kind of luck I was going to buy $5 worth of raffle tickets for the iPad.  What the heck, right?  I was so sure I wasn't going to win it that I left my tickets at the house when we stopped by there before the awards banquet.  We live close by so I ran back to get them, but I almost didn't.  The time comes to draw the raffle.  My numbers were 429-434.  So if I didn't see 43 then I was probably out.  They call out 4-2 and then start back at 4 because this was a deaf basketball tournament and someone was writing it on a white board.  So they start again.  4-2-9.  Wait, what?  No way!  I won the iPad.  I became an insta-celebrity.  I give my hubby the chocolates.  One woman bought $140 worth of raffle tickets.  Seriously? 

Several people told me I should have gone straight from there to buy a lottery ticket, but I wasn't feeling it anymore.

Here's where the karma comes in.  I work my rear-end off at extra-curricular things.  Often paying for the privilege to do so.  Now, if it's something like the Christmas party or end of year softball game or something - minor stuff.  The odds of me showing up are slim.  Usually I've got a dr's appointment or a migraine or something. But the major stuff.  I'm there.  Other people, not so much.  They're there as long as they're required to be and that's it.  I don't get a lot of atta-girls from the bosses.  But last year I won 80 something dollars at our big 5 year celebration.  This year I win an iPad.  And chocolate.  Good karma. 

But now that I recognize it, I will never win anything at a school function again.  Oh well.  That's alright. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I looked at the calendar this morning and had two thoughts.

1) Where the heck did the first two months of the year go?


2) Spring break in two weeks.  Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But the passing of time has actually been on my mind a lot lately.  I'll be 40 in 36 days.  Wow.  Just...wow.  4 decades.  I was born during the Vietnam War.  I was a child during the bell bottom era.  (I had a pink pantsuit that I loved because it was just like Marie Osmond.  I know, right?)  I was a teenager in the 80's.  I seriously wanted Cyndi Lauper's hair.  Sorry Dad.  I was a young adult during the 90's.  Bill Clinton taught us how to use semantics in sticky situations.  Then in my 30's we got Bin Laden, 9/11 and Iraq and Afghanistan.  It'll be interesting to see what my 40's and the Teens will bring. 

Then I look at my own personal numbers.  20 years since my last open-heart surgery.  22 years since my first Al-Anon meeting.  15 1/2 years sober.  My oldest nephew is 17.  My oldest niece will be 17 on Monday.  My husband and I have been together for 10 years this coming May.  Married for 6 years this coming June.  Mom has been gone for 8 years this coming April.  My oldest granddaughter will be 6 in July. 

So what's the story with all this?  I have had the greatest joys and the deepest of sorrows. I've climbed mountains and I've dug myself out of valleys.  I've had times of comforting faith and other times of serious doubts. 

And the rest of the story is...I will have more greatest joys and deepest sorrows.  I'll climb more mountains and there will be more valleys.  I will have more times of comforting faith and more times of serious doubts.  And it will all be okay.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 - There is an appointed time for everything .  And there is a time for every event under heaven--

Monday, February 21, 2011


That's what I'm hearing in my brain.  Crickets chirping. 

No, not really.  Actually I think there's soooo much going through my teeny tiny brain that I've been having a hard time focusing on one thing to blog on. 

Here's the highlights:

Expectations are premeditated resentments and Valentine's Day is one big resentment plot for me.  I've been with my husband for almost 10 years now.  I know the man pretty darn well and one fact about the love of my life is that you could fit his romantic side in a teaspoon.  Except every once in awhile he pulls something out of the hat that is so from so far out in left field he is automatically forgiven for every missed birthday/anniversary/Valentine's day.  This was one of those years.  I got a computer generated card.  In and of itself not that exciting.  Except for the words.  A lot of the time my husband is full of the blarney.  For example...his most recent wheelchair.  He told me in all seriousness that he had ordered a canary yellow pearl wheelchair.  I was horrified.  I mean, yeah, dude's gotta ride around in it, but I have to look at it and I was more than a little nervous at the idea of having to look at a canary yellow pearl wheelchair for the next three years because OBVIOUSLY!!  But when we go to pick it up....it's like a midnight blue pearl.  It's actually very cool looking.  It's manly but with sparkles.  Win/win.  But when it comes to matters of the heart, if he doesn't mean it, he doesn't say it.  So when I read his computer generated card...I cried. 

Spring has sprung.  West Texas does two weeks of winter a year and two weeks ago we had it.  Sub freezing temps for two weeks straight almost.  Frozen pipes, burst pipes, couldn't get warm, winter.  It's over.  It's been in the 60's, 70's and 80's for the last two weeks and it's predicted 70's for the next week.  I...love...it.  I've already started watching the mesquites for signs of them putting out leaves.  It's probably too early. We probably have one more freeze left.  But mesquites...I'm watching you.

If you haven't heard this yet...my 40th birthday is in April.  Read that part about expectations and resentments again. Guess where my brain is headed for my 40th birthday.  Some kind of big deal had better be made somewhere you know what I'm saying???  And I've been trying to get ready for this 5K and all that.  Well, guess what.  The baby shower for my last nephew ever (maybe) is the Sunday after my birthday.  My cousin who I haven't seen in 10-12 years and who also has the same birthday as me (day not year she's way far away from 40) is coming to the shower.  So I get to spend my 40th birthday with my "twin" cousin and her family, possibly her parents, possibly my parents, my brother and his family and if the husband isn't being too much of a pain...my hubby.  I don't know about anybody else, but I'm making a HUGE deal out of this. 

I finally have my spare bedroom rearranged to suit me.  That is all.

The Daytona 500 was yesterday.  I watched most of the truck race, most of the Nationwide race and all of the Daytona 500 and all I've gotta say is Trevor Bayne is too cute and very deserving, Tony Stewart made it to Victory Lane which always makes me happy, and Michael Waltrip made me cry on Friday.  Dale Earnhardt is still missed, but he's the reason why my favorite drivers can drive the way they do and wreck the way they do and walk away.  Bring on the 2011 season!!!

And, last but not least, my newest sister-in-law is now on Facebook.  I'm so excited. 

So there's a lot going on in there, but it's all good.