Gail's Blog

Live Ready

Here in Southern California we are experiencing our umpteenth forest fire.  One of the benefits of living in Hell And Back Road Signthe city is the lack of forest around us so I am personally far away from the flames.  We get the smoke and the ash and the eery sunsets and orange brown sky.  However, many west of us have been evacuated and are, as of today, being allowed back in their homes or streets.  There are still freeway off ramps closed out by the canyons and mountain passes.  There are still hot spots and I heard this morning new fires starting in Simi Valley.  We had a small one in Griffith Park here in the city but that was quickly extinguished.

Those in Paradise, not a wealthy community, lost everything, even the town.  This location was close to the foothills of the mountains outside of Sacramento.  As of this morning about 50 people lost their lives.  What can one say with such swift devastation.  It is beyond the pale.  For those who have experienced sudden episodes of nature’s command, it is a humbling, dangerous and sometimes life-taking experience.  The brave firemen and personal saviors and their stories really help us remember the love and kindness of humans.  This is who we really are.

In Malibu, a wealthy community of only 13,000 people, half the homes are considered second homes.  Today’s newspaper showed an enormous yacht anchored off Malibu while small boats and surf boarders  ferry water and supplies off the yacht.  The pictures of surf boarders loaded up with cartons of water and drinks, including beer was a sight to behold.  This is Southern California where we need all the help we can get to ferry water into Malibu, Point Dume, Paradise Cove and other beach communities when no one can get down the canyon roads etc.  A wealthy Malibu Winery owner, Howard Leight, owner of the 143 foot yacht, arranged to have his yacht turned into a floating relief effort.  Mr. Leight spent two days fending off blazes to the winery but lost the entire vinyard.  Those who stayed behind to fight and save their homes had no access to food or water.  Voila Mr. Leight and the “Leight Star”.  The yacht was stocked with about 3,000 bottles of water, 100 gallons of fuel, shovels, snacks, dog food and a bunch of beer.  It was a true bucket brigade.  Supplies were moved from the yacht to surf boards and kayaks.  They braved choppy waters to deliver the precious cargo.

Another touching story comes out of the ashes.  Jerardo Bautista and his 5-person landscaping crew has been doing the landscaping in Malibu since 1985.  Bautista’s crew spent last Friday going from house to house cutting back brush and putting out fires.   Did you know that a large portion of the fire crews on the line are prisoners who sign up for this assignment.  They have had, over the years, very few deserters.  Some have died in the fires.

I could go on and on as everyone living here knows someone affected by the fires.  I attended an astrology group on Sunday and one of our members had lost her house in Malibu.  She was now homeless here so she thought she would go to Hawaii as the cost of rebuilding her home was much more than insurance was paying.  Another friend was told to evacuate immediately in Calabasas.  He panicked and didn’t know what to take.  Most importantly, he left his CPAC machine for sleep apnea.  He has spent the last few nights sleeping upright in a chair.  On and on the stories go.

So, I guess the question could be, if you were called at 3 am to get out of your home and you might never see it again or the things inside it, could and would you be ready to let it go?  Yet, we live life as if we control things here.  We depend on the material so much we have forgotten how to start over from ground zero.  What would you do?  If you were given a diagnosis for an incurable disease, would you be ready?  If you were held up at gunpoint, would you be ready?  If you are killed in an auto accident, would you be ready?

We should consider living ready.  Ready to die, ready to lose it all, ready to start over and ready to surrender.  No matter the news’ breaks, this election’s changes, the tweets of Trump, the insanity of behavior, no matter the fear it raises, these days are about privilege.  You have the privilege of opportunities.  Others who used to be with us or are too ill to participate no longer have opportunities.  You do.  Look at them and run with the opportunity.  Stop letting the clock run out on you.  We all run with death and uncertainty running with us.  These days are not about fear, they are about opportunity.  What can you change?  What can you reverse?  What healthy options can you take?  Alfred North Whitehead, a philosopher, said “it is the business of the future to be dangerous.”  We all live dangerously just by being here on earth.    Decide to use your opportunities in spite of the dangers.  LIVE READY



3 responses to “Live Ready”



    I have been burnt out of my home here in Dallas at 4AM in 1995.
    We had moved here from Hermosa Beach, CA only 6 months earlier, after losing all of our money into a bad business.

    Our 2 children, husband and I all sat across the street and watched the home go down as the sun came up.

    Losing everything and not having adequate insurance to rebuild our lives is oddly a blessing devastating for us all. I had to hold our lives and wits together because everyone else fell apart.

    Now it is 23 years latter, I am still keeper of stability in my family. AND so grateful to have food, an ice maker in my freezer. I have a drivers’ license, credit cards; all the little things we take for granted; down to having a needle and thread.

    Anyway, I don’t want ever to be in those shoes again. So YES!!!!
    Count everyday as a great day and part of a cycle of life.

    Kathy Friedman

  2. Thank you Gail, We know that there are over 8000 fire personnel on the job. We sometimes forget that they need to be fed, housed, re-equipped with clean clothes and supplies. Volunteer organizations, vets, vet techs are handling the thousands of animals brought to shelters. Churches, schools, community centers have been set up by Red Cross and Salvation Army and others to receive the thousands of refuges evacuated from their homes. Healthcare personnel are on sites. Today in just one delivery the World Central Kitchen volunteers sent out over 1000 meals. California Chefs are doing the same. Someone has to deliver food , supplies and even fuel for the fire trucks, dozers, water tenders, to the people in animal and people shelters. Someone is cleaning the showers, maintaining the sleeping sites–tho some firefighters were on the job over 24 hours or have been sleeping on the streets.. Who can sleep with that amount of adrenaline cursing thru ones veins? Woolsey is a city fire. It could be in any of our neighborhoods. Most of us in California know to keep brush cut away, however 6 years of drought have dried the vegetation to flash point. I can’t imagine the heart wrenching job of going door to door, car to car looking for remains of the residents of Paradise. Most of the time I am speechless at the enormity of it all. Next week, we are to get rains. Pray that they are gentle. Mud flows are as deadly as fires. If your readers are compelled to help, donations to Red Cross, Salvation Army, sheltering organizations, CA Chefs, World Central Kitchens, animal shelters would be most appreciated. If local go to a location a serve for a few hours.
    And Yes what would we take in the event of a natural disaster? Best to get a Go Bag together.

  3. Heather Holmberg says:

    Lovely blog, Gail. I listened to the story of the woman going through the burning canyon who called her husband to tell him she was probably going to die. He replied, “Well, die trying to live.” In a split second how dramatic those words are! How complacent we become when we are comfortable. I recall being in a relationship that wasn’t right for me. Leaving everything was so easy!

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