Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Anyway, I've missed The Great Pumpkin for the last few years. I even taped it one year and never watched it. Sascha doesn't understand/appreciate my tradition so he has no motivation to sit us down in front of the TV (however, he will nag me until I come down and watch "House" with him). So I was bound and determined to watch it with my son this year, while Sascha did the dishes. We made it 20 minutes into the show before Ari climbed into my lap, rubbing his eyes suggestively and burying his face in my shirt with a whimper.
Okay. Time for bed. Now.
Once again, I missed having the entire Charlie Brown experience. Oh well. There's always next year. Maybe we'll even be able to have popcorn.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Hmm, where to begin? It was really (and I mean really) windy Sunday; our virgin introduction to the famed Santa Ana winds . Around noon, I smelled someone's chimney smoke and wondered why on earth someone would be having a cozy fire when it's almost 90 degrees. I went out to the patio to shelter some herbs from the heat and wind and realized that the chimney smoke was obscuring the townhouse across the street. Why is it so smoky? Is there a fire? So we turned on the TV. And discovered that the worst fire season in a long time had begun.
Monday morning we woke to a lot of smoke and ash...and found our neighbors loading up their cars. Uh-oh. Again, turning to the TV for our fire fix, we found that our area was under mandatory evacuation. Ah, so that's why everyone's packing.
We sit almost exactly on the corner of the evac area so were unsure as to whether we should actually pack up and go (again, fire season newbies...and idiots, as our family members would say). So, we decided to think about it, went to IHOP down the street for breakfast (since I hadn't the foresight to grocery shop over the weekend) and found it full of evacuees from the north/northwest. Rancho Bernardo and Poway, communities 10-15 miles northwest, were on fire (we had looked at homes in this area, it's basically in the city). I was amazed, but most everyone was friendly and open with each other... if stressed and tired. Sadly, we did see one poor family get some bad news while we were there.
The news was informing all that air quality was "moderate to unhealthy" with all the ash and smoke so, still deciding to wait on evacuating, we spent the day inside until it became absolutely necessary to get out (i.e. Ari had cabin fever). So we drove to Pfizer in La Jolla that evening so Sascha could finish up some work. I believe, although my memory is fuzzy now, that the fire was approaching Rancho Santa Fe by then, a luxe community 5-10 miles north/northeast. We had read online that if it reached Rancho Santa Fe, which it was predicted to do, things would be bad...it's heavily wooded. The wind had died down, so we though things should be okay and headed down to very smoky La Jolla (no evac orders there).
On our trip home that night, we decided to pack up the car, check the news every couple hours through the night and be ready to leave within minutes if we had to. We had a couple options of places to go - a friend to the north and Qualcomm Stadium downtown. That night, the fire reached Rancho Santa Fe. And I became increasingly nervous...although Sascha was fine. Huh. But since he was the one getting up through the night, letting me sleep and dream about firefighters rushing us out of the house, I figured I'd go with his interpretation for now. And he was right, it was slowing down, as was the wind, and didn't seem threatening...although evac orders were issued for communities all the way to the ocean.
Tuesday morning dawned with almost clear skies, with persnickety thanks to an ocean wind pushing the smoke back...and possibly circling the fire back around. While Sascha rested, I checked the internet and TV and map (our Lethal 3 combo that had gotten us through our decision to not evacuate) and found that the fire was south of Rancho Santa Fe, had jumped a river (it's very dry here) and was working it's way toward the road separating Rancho Santa Fe/Fairbanks Ranch from Solana Beach/Del Mar Heights/Carmel Valley (that's us).
So once again, we became ready to leave...and received a couple more evacuation invites from friends south of us. It was a tense couple of hours (for me - again, Sascha was fine - whatever) but the winds changed and pushed the Witch fire back to the north/northeast, away from us. Permanently, it seems.
The fires are still raging but getting under control somewhat...they are at least partially contained. And areas are still evacuated. Our area has been lifted and people are coming home. Between the largest two fires that hit the county, almost 300,000 acres have been destroyed; approximately 1500 structures (homes, outbuildings, businesses) are gone; 6 people have died (one directly from the fire); 300,000 people have been evacuated along with at least 2500 horses (there's a lot of horses here). Please know that these are not spot-on, I'm not a reporter. These are just the last figures I read. To give you an idea of what's happened out here. It could have been a lot worse. These firefighters have done a bang up job and they're exhausted. But not finished.
It's funny (not haha funny). I came here a couple months ago with the worst attitude toward San Diego. Hell, I still hated it last week...and I'm sure I will in the future at times. However, this city has very much impressed me with how it has greeted this tragedy. People here reached out to each other. The city was organized and knew what it was doing. People worked together and cooperated. There was no blame-game or finger pointing. It was as if they had been through it before (which they have), have learned from it and know that "you just get through it the best you can"...I think I heard a resident say that on the news. And he's right. When push comes to shove, this city isn't what I thought it was. It's a lot more. And I'm actually proud to be a resident. I'm sorry it took this for me to realize that.
So I've learned a couple things about myself - that and what is important to me. Numero Uno: those two goofy Freiwald boys and two silly cats. When it comes to material things...not much made it into our car. Clothes and baby supplies for two days. Sleeping bags and emergency items. Important documents. Our wedding album and four other small albums. Ari's and my baby books. Sentimental (if not valuable) jewelry. A supply of cat food and litter. My laptop. And the quilts my mom and grandma made. That's it. It didn't even fill up the cargo area. I guess when it comes right down to it, life isn't about the stuff. I knew that. However, it was sort of an object lesson over the past couple days.
Okay, signing out. Sascha's unloading our keepsakes and I should probably help.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
As you can probably tell, and as most of you are familiar with, Ari takes a bit to warm up to people...especially family members...however, put him on an airplane full of complete strangers and he'll grin at and flirt with every single one of them (from the safety of our seat). The little stinker. It's kind of painful for our families since we don't see them that often anymore and, when we do, it's only for a few golden days. Sigh. Maybe someday that will be different.
On the health front: we are both officially healthy again, in spite of Ari's runny nose (i.e. the snot-nosed kid). It is so fabulous to have the energy and desire to make it through a day upright. Sascha, God bless him, has managed to avoid decrepit health altogether and "dodged-ducked-dived-and dodged" (trivia question: identify that movie) his way through our flu experience with flying colors.
On the What's-Ari-Up-To-Now front: The bugger is a walking crazy man. He's even attempted running after watching a 3 year old do it in a parking lot one evening...the running attempt isn't quite as successful when Mom's not holding his hand. We've been going to Gymboree http://www.gymboreeclasses.com/b2c/customer/programIndex.jsp for a few weeks now and, though I was skeptical at first, Ari has SO enjoyed his time there. His coordination and self-confidence has increased by leaps and bounds from the climbing, exploring, playing and being around other kids. He's getting used to coming and going there and doesn't throw a fit every time we leave now. He's started saying "this, that, there, mumma, daddy, yum yum"...of course, it's all in that baby-way (i.e. "dis-n-dis-n-dat-n-dis" while "reading" me a book or showing me a toy). I'm pretty sure he said "daddy" the other day...it just came out "tchatchy" while reaching for Sascha. "Mommy" is mumumum and we always say "nyum-nyum-nyum" while we eat. Speaking of eating...wow, what a different kid. While in Iowa, he absolutely inhaled food. Pretty much anything as long as it came off of my plate and did NOT come out of a baby food jar. Spoons and forks are making it into his mouth with amazing accuracy and less and less food winds up on the floor (thank God). He does like to "wash" the table when he's pretty much finished eating...that's when the leftover food ends up on the floor. Oh well. Other things - he brushes his teeth and hair, puts things away, kisses his books and toys and daddy's tummy (it's a funny thing). I'll sum it up there as I think only the grandparents are still reading at this point...everyone else, I totally understand if you've decided to jump ship.
On the relocation front: Since I have more energy now, I feel a little better about being here. I'm meeting a fellow Ann Arbor transplant spouse for coffee next week and I met a nice mom at our library's story hour last week...her son practically crawled into my lap so I guess she had to be nice to me after that :). She hooked me up with a couple groups she's involved with - Hip Mamas of San Diego and Del Mar Toddlers. Both have play groups and I think Mom's Night Out/In. We'll see how that goes but I'm feeling more optimistic than I have in past weeks. Sascha still points out other moms when we're at the park...for example, "she's cute, do you think you'd like her?" ....or, after Ari and I have been at Gymboree, "did anyone try to pick you up? any nice moms?" (you notice, he doesn't mention the dads). It's sweet how he wants me to get some mom action but sometimes I always feel as if I need to look pretty or work on my pick-up lines. It'll take time. And that's okay. It's easier to not know anyone when Ari's balanced and happy (as he is this week, we'll see how things go next week). I'm still looking at this San Diego thing as a two-year commitment. A little sabbatical in paradise before heading back to the Midwest. Who knows? Maybe it'll someday feel like home. Time will tell. And I'm cool with that.
*FYI - the walking video is now in the post below*
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I'll sum this post up by apologizing for the lack of material lately. It's taken me a while to recover from the flu, still coughing like crazy and losing my voice, and both I and the Little Man have had some rough days...him with whining and me with homesickness. I pledged, since my last rant, to not write here unless I was in a somewhat good mood...hence, several days can go by :). I'd better cut this short, bed calls. Oh, and for those of you who watch the news...no, we did not get caught in the La Jolla landslide...we can't afford to live near La Jolla...but thank you for caring about us. It is a little ironic, though...hmm, not sure "ironic" is the correct word. That same hillside slid down the mountain (along with several homes) around 50 years ago. The city encouraged the residents not to rebuild as that mountain is prone to this condition. Yet, there it is...million dollar homes on a foundation of sand.