The Experiment

For years, several friends of mine have been trying to get me laid. They failed miserably.

The biggest problem is that we have radically different priorities when it comes to men, sex, relationships, you name it. I come from an extremely intellectual family, I work as a web-geek professionally, and they, gods love them, are as blue-collar as can be. I’m not saying that I could never be attracted to a guy who rides a Harley. I just need to find a guy who rides a Harley who can also keep up his end of a conversation with me. Easier said than done, I’m afraid.   Continue reading “The Experiment”

Survival Is Not Enough

Reprinted from the Angeles Rising website.

August 29, 2009. A residence on Stonyvale Road succumbs to flames. Photo credit: Duncan Baird

It has been a year since the Station Fire roared through my neighborhood, destroying over three-quarters of the homes here at Vogel Flats, not to mention the homes and businesses lost elsewhere in the Angeles Forest. For those of us who call the forest our home, it has been a hard year, full of challenges and frustrations, emotional roller coasters and far, far too many long, dark nights of the soul.
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Happy Independence Day!

July is always thought provoking for me. Something to do with the fact that it’s my birth-month, the 4th of July, random stuff like that…

July is always a thought provoking month for me. All the hoopla about Independence Day, then my birthday in a couple weeks… it gets the brain cells churning, asking questions and pondering the validity of the common, trite answers most folks give to basic questions about this time of year. It’s like they’re on autopilot, and they’ve never really asked themselves whether the answers they rattle off are based on actual fact.

Take Independence Day, for example. As Americans we celebrate the birth of our nation on July 4th, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We celebrate with parades and fireworks and bar-b-ques, decorating anything and everything in Red, White and Blue. But the Continental Congress voted for Independence on July 2nd, 1776. The Declaration was sent to the states for ratification two days later, with the first signature landing on that oh-so-famous parchment a month later, on August 2nd.   Continue reading “Happy Independence Day!”

Simple Words

Reposted from

A former neighbor posted something on a blog today that made my heart stop and my vision blur. They were simple words, yet reflecting a worst nightmare that many of us have been loathe to share, even though it haunts all our dreams.

The Ranch is gone. It wont [sic] be coming back.

And on Facebook…

rebuild will cost twice as much just to build 1 house. who has 1.7 million dollars that i can borrow?

I knew this day would come. I feared and dreaded it like I’ve dreaded few other things in my life. I feared that as time passed more friends and neighbors would realize the enormity of what it will take to rebuild, and that more and more would choose not to take up that burden. I don’t blame them. I know that I would not be equal to the task, myself.

Continue reading “Simple Words”

Going Home

As I write this it has been nearly six months that I have been displaced from my home, a refugee of sorts, unable to live peaceably in the forest that I love and unwilling to face the chaos of episodic evacuations each time a new rain cloud appeared overhead. My months in the wilds of Winnetka have been challenging in ways I never would have or could have anticipated. Too soon the novelty of pizza delivery, true broadband Internet and convenient shopping venues paled, leaving behind the reality of the street noise, sirens, domestic arguments, low-flying aircraft, artificial lights and loud parties that run way past midnight. The simple truth is that I am no longer a city girl. My soul cries out for the wilderness, for the quiet of my mountains and the quirky foothill communities that are my true home. I miss them more than words can say, and this weekend I realized how much I look forward to going home once again.  Continue reading “Going Home”

Saying Goodbye to 2009

As 2009 comes to an end, I look back at all the changes it brought to so many forest dwellers. The Station Fire began modestly enough, but, like all things that cause great change, it caught everyone by surprise. I know I will never forget the snow of ash, the red air swirling around me, or the fear and amazement I felt as I fled for my life, one eye on the road ahead and the other glued to the vision of the roaring inferno behind me as it destroyed nearly everything in its path.   Continue reading “Saying Goodbye to 2009”

December 2009 News and Updates

I know it’s been a while since I’ve sent out an update. I’ve been gradually settling into my new life, trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. Overall, things are progressing. It just seems very slow and difficult at times, more so than I ever expected.

Struan Measuring the Front DoorThe cabin in Big Tujunga Canyon is boarded up and sandbagged. Now all I can do is wait and pray. The BAER team’s plan to protect my cabin and others that survived the Station Fire was shot down by Forest Service bureaucracy. The recommendation had been to put k-rails, large concrete beams often used on freeways, in place to deflect the coming debris flows. Unfortunately, the local Forest Supervisor, who has a long history of anti-resident activities, ordered a re-evaluation of that part of the BAER plan. That re-evaluation shot down the BAER Team’s recommendation and made no alternative recommendations. Continue reading “December 2009 News and Updates”

Leaving Big Tujunga Canyon

USGS-OF09-1227_Page_01I don’t know how closely you follow the news, but earlier this week the USGS released their assessment of the debris flow dangers created by the Station Fire. The unfortunate reality is that my house, Nana’s cabin, is right, smack in the middle of one of the most dangerous parts of the burned areas. The problem with staying in the canyon isn’t the rain, per se. It’s the fact that ALL of the vegetation on the hills was VAPORIZED by the fire. Because there are no plants left – trees, chaparral, grasses –  there is nothing to hold the soil in place when the rains come. Even if we have light rains this winter, as little a 1/4″ of rain can trigger debris flows large enough to bury my home.

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Station Fire, One Month After

The following is a repost of my first official Editorial on the Angeles Rising website. While I have been very careful to only post news and updates to that site, I felt the need to express an opinion given the onset of investigations into actions taken leading up to the Tujunga Inferno. Take what you like and leave the rest…

Stonyvale Residence Engulfed in FlamesIt’s hard to believe that the Station Fire roared through Big Tujunga Canyon a month ago. In some ways it seems like five minutes ago. In other ways it seems like a lifetime.

In the month since the fire I have gotten to know my neighbors better than I had in thirty years of coming to the canyon, or in ten years of being a resident, myself. This month has taught me about the warmth of strangers, and frustration with  bureaucracies to a greater degree than I realized was possible. So many lessons, so many insights.

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