Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Evacuation orders & warnings for Arnold & Murphys California have been eased. Northern California is on fire in every direction around us, and this morning we woke up to smoke so thick we cannot see the sun. We know it is shinning up above the smoke because where it comes in our windows, it is orange.

The patches of orange inside and outside are disturbing. They make me think I am seeing reflections from fire. I have to remind myself that I am seeing reflections from the particles floating in the air.

Even the forest animals are sheltering in place. It’s been a week since we watched deer (or rabbits, turkeys, foxes, etc.) grazing in the forest. Our dog has become skittish and anxious. She dashes around the house, then stops in her tracks and stares at us, as if to ask, “Why are we still here?”

Out of the corner of your eye you notice something floating down from the sky. You wish it were snow, however, it is ash. It blankets the ground and everything on it. It gets into the house even when the windows are shut. It covers my car that is parked in the garage. I try not to dwell on the fact that we are breathing this crud. I am back on my asthma medication and I need a refill. My voice is getting deep and raspy. Not in a sensual way, mind you, but more likely to frighten little kids.

I count my blessings every day that my house will be a pain to clean and my car is filthy. My house remains intact and I still have a car to run errands (like going to the pharmacy.) Those two things are major up here and many have lost them. We have power today, so I can communicate by phone, text, this blog.

I have so many things on my indoor to-do list that I can work on, a couple quilts in the works and a crochet project to learn. My office, kitchen & cupboards need organizing badly. My fault for tossing things willy-nilly into places they should go in a haphazard way, to “get to later”. Later is now. I am a homebody at heart, so I feel right in my element. My problem is what to do first?

It’s Giggles and Bits Time

You probably know that I live in the Stanislaus National Forest. If you don’t already know this, now you do. My point is, occasionally you see silly things that you would not see in the city.

I feel like it’s my mission to share these things with my non-mountain readers. That, and it’s Thursday…

I call this collection, “Forest Ninjas”

To Catch the Squirrel, Be the Squirrel
Jean Claude Van Raccoon
May I Join You For Lunch?

I Call This Collection “Just Plain Crazy”

Elk Hunting
Plain Rabbit
Are You Looking At Me?

Hope you enjoyed these giggles!


Chapter Three Begins…

Journey to the Other Side

Our saga continues-

Chapter Three

The next couple days melted into one another, separated by dozing and sleeping. Mollie was only out of bed when carried to the outhouse. After breakfast, he removed her bandages, applied medicine and carried her back to bed. She only wore bandages at bedtime now, so she learned to ignore her leg. It was too hideous and upsetting to look at even though the swelling was subsiding.

Travis did not own any books, or a computer. Apparently he didn’t believe in electricity so that ruled out radio and TV as well. The lack of available water was barbaric. No telephone was cruel and unusual punishment.

Mollie came to the conclusion that Travis was one of those survivalist nuts.  She envisioned the barn to be stocked with lockboxes of rifles, ammo, dried and canned foods, gallon jugs of water. Camo colored fatigues and jackets, gas masks, binoculars, rain hats & slickers.  This mental survivalist inventory list kept her amused for a while, but then she would move on to thinking about how many men might be in the ‘militia’ with Travis. Were there women too? Probably. Men did not have exclusivity when it came to fears and paranoia. How often did the militia meet? Where did they hold their meetings? Since she didn’t see anyone visit Travis, either they met elsewhere, or did not meet often.

Mollie allowed her imagination to attended some clandestine militia meetings. She sat in the back, hoping to hear something interesting.  Most of the meeting was rednecks venting over how this country was “going to have a rebellion soon”.

Travis left the house once she was propped up and tucked in and did not return until lunchtime. After feeding her and escorting her to the outhouse, he left and did not return until almost dark.

In case she needed him, Travis put his cowbell on her night stand. Mollie often got tempted to ring it, just to have him come in and be with her. If only she could think of a valid excuse to ring it.

At least he slept inside the house now. The first few nights she was there, Travis slept in the barn and she got no sleep at all. Every noise and every creak frightened her. At breakfast, she pleaded with him to sleep in his own bed, where they both could be warm and comfortable. He sat looking at her in disbelief.

“Wait. You want us to sleep, in the same bed, together?”

“People do it all the time.”

“Married people!“

Mollie laughed, “I won’t make you marry me.”

“Really? What if I roll over in my sleep and brush against you?” he asked. “I’d rather not be bashed in the head with a cane.”

Mollie giggled. “I promise I won’t bash you either.”

“It’s not a -”

Pleeeease!” She interrupted. She didn’t want to hear his reasons why it wasn’t a good idea. She just wanted him inside the house with her. “It’s your house, it’s your bed – you should be sleeping in it.”

Travis opened his mouth to say something, changed his mind and sighed instead. Mollie smiled to herself. He was almost convinced, now she just had to wait for him to make the final decision.

Why did she feel so comfortable and trusting with this man? She had no clue. The weird thing was, she didn’t really care what the reason was. Normally she was Miss Analyze Everything to Death. Maybe she knew him in a past life. Maybe it was the laudanum.

All she knew was that she didn’t feel like a scared little girl when he was close by.

When she woke up the morning after Travis slept next to her, she lay there comfortable and cozy; in fact for the first time since she found herself in these woods, she felt completely safe.

She woke up alone. Feeling the sheet on his side of the bed and finding it warm, she knew it had not been very long since Travis left. The smell of coffee was enticing. She hated drinking it black, but the man had no sugar or coffee creamer in the pantry.  Determined to do something herself, Mollie reached under the bed and grabbed her cane. She wished she had slippers to wear. Her already chilled foot protested the ice-cold floorboards.

She made her way to the wood stove and poured herself half a cup. Then she held the cup with both hands close to her face, to enjoy the aroma and to warm her hands. When she heard Travis stomping his boots on the porch to knock off dirt or whatever before entering the house, she smiled. He was right on time for her much-needed outhouse run.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ *** ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today, after breakfast and Travis left the cabin, Mollie snuck out of bed. She was getting pretty good at using the cane since she went “exploring” twice a day. That, and she could tuck and prop her leg up nearly as good as he did, to keep him from knowing she had gotten out of bed. She kept her mouth shut about these new skills because she loved him tucking her in and carrying her everywhere. She caught herself thinking about it often.

She had already explored – OK, snooped – around the kitchen and the loft. Today’s mission was to check out a picture on the front wall, above the table. She just noticed it last night while they were eating supper. Now that she was only taking the laudanum before bed, her mind was a lot clearer and more observant.

In the bright of day, she saw that it was a framed photograph that hung in the corner. It was black and white with an old-fashioned setting, and it was Travis in the picture. He was so HOT, she could hardly stand it.

And that’s when it came to her. She had seen him before – it was in a photo that was nearly identical to this one. The closer she looked, she remembered in the other photo he was wearing the very same flannel shirt. He had the top two buttons undone and chest hair was peeking out. She nearly drooled when she looked at it.

Except, in the other photo, the black and white image was faded, and the border had cracked and turned yellowish brown, as old photos are known to do. He still looked very hot in that photo, which was why she remembered it, and where she’d seen it before, so vividly.

No. Way!”  

She denied even thinking about it, it was so absurd! It was only her imagination and the result of watching too many movies. Way too many sci-fi movies to be specific.

And yet, it would explain everything going on, except for the why and how. She had seen the evidence, pasted into her great-grandmother’s family album, with her own eyes. This very same photo of him. Under it, written in great-grandma’s neat and precise handwriting, read “My Cousin, Travis Richardson- at the County Fair. 1894.”

“Holy Shit!” she said.

“I beg your pardon?”  A voice that was not Travis’s spoke behind her. “I assure you that shit is not, nor ever will be, holy.”

After a short pause, giggles burst out from this person.  Why didn’t I stay in bed next to the cowbell? Mollie got up from the table and turned to face the comedian. He was not much taller than she was, and he could not have been older than 20. What she noticed next about him was his halo.


To be continued…