Earthquakes

We had a small earthquake this morning. I slept through it.

Coincidentally enough, I’m releasing a new book that deals with a major earthquake. I felt, momentarily, as if Mother Nature was either giving me a little free publicity, or giving me a little shake, saying ‘don’t do it!’.

THIS DEEP PANIC ebook

I did it anyway. E-book now available for Kindle; print coming soon.

But events like this always bring to mind preparedness and balancing the need to be prepared with being paranoid.

We choose to be prepared but are far from paranoid. We have bug-out bags in our cars. We have jugs of water in our freezer. Think about it – a jug of ice can be put in your fridge to help keep things cold when the power goes out. And when it thaws you have drinking water. We also have little bags hanging by our doors that have the basics inside so you can grab them as you run out the door and at least have a flashlight.

Mt Baring

The granite here doesn’t roll like ‘down below’. It slams around instead.

Of course a couple weeks ago we realized every single flashlight in our house and our vehicles had dead batteries. Having flashlights is being prepared. Having dead batteries is us not being paranoid.

I like a stocked up pantry, a full freezer, and shelves filled with home-canned goods. That’s being prepared.

We’ll be able to live on home-canned raspberry jam for years. That’s being not paranoid.

DSCF1888

Old photo of the cabin, but we still have, and use, the lamps. Didn’t keep the cobwebs though.

Earthquakes are like any other natural disaster in that it’s always a gamble. Do you roll the dice believing it will never happen in your lifetime? Do you roll the dice hoping you’ll be prepared but when the quake hits it won’t be that bad? Or do you believe it’s just a matter of time, it’s going to be horrible, and you’re going to need to live without aid for a long time?

I used to create disaster recovery plans for local government. I can tell you most definitely that all that publicity about having food and water for three days is not true. Three days is nothing.

bridal veil falls

Natural water sources; the advantage of not living in cities.

A few years ago a bridge on Interstate 5 was damaged and the freeway was closed down. Fixing it, even with emergency assistance, took THREE WEEKS. So if you think help is coming within three days when you live any distance at all from major traffic corridors, you’re going to lose that roll of the dice.

I don’t want to be paranoid, to think about these things, or lay awake at night because of fear. But when these little tremors rattle you a bit, it’s time to pause and ask if you still believe that a natural disaster won’t happen in your lifetime.

After the tremor this morning I also have a new worry. My son asked if we felt it and said his apartment building was rolling. Which reminded me he lives over an hour away in cheaply built apartment buildings, and we wouldn’t be able to get to him in a hurry.

And I’m willing to roll the dice that he has dead batteries in the bug-out bag we gave him for Christmas a few years ago. He’s prepared like his parents.

But not paranoid.

Arthur Lookout Pt 4

 

Pride and Parents

Several years ago when I was an emergency medical technician (EMT), we were toned out on a call about men in a fight at the local general store. When we arrived, the two men who had instigated the fight were gone. The two young men who were the victims were still there.

lookout point 006

There’s still a general store down there.

One was bruised but okay. My patient, however, had been kicked repeatedly, in ribs and in the head. He was talking to me with full cognitive abilities, but because of the mechanism of his injuries, we wanted to transport him to the hospital anyway.

I was in the back of the aid car working on him, asking him questions, getting a history, blood pressure, and so on. As a precaution, I’d put him on oxygen. I asked a question, and got no answer. When I turned to him, he was out. Completely unconscious. Within seconds. I yelled for the driver who called out the paramedics to meet us.

It was a lesson to me in three ways.

I was fairly newly certified at that time, and it was a lesson in how dangerous head injuries are, and how fast they can change for the worse. Even in someone who had presented no symptoms only moments before. It was scary, and a lesson I never forgot. He survived, and actually, a few years later, came back to town to thank me for being with him. He remembered my holding his hand, not being afraid to touch him. Of all the things that happened during his treatment, and that touch was what stood out for him.

engagement photo

We look so young. This was our engagement photo.

Why you might ask? That’s the second lesson I learned.

The two young men had come to our area of the woods because there was a large and well-known private campground, that actually was across the street from our cabin. And it was a gay campground. This was back in the 1980s.

The two young men had been sitting outside the general store, waiting for an order. The other two men pulled up in a truck and asked them if they knew where the campground was. When they gave directions, those two men got out of the truck and attacked them.

Those men knew about the campground and had come to the mountains specifically looking for those who camped there. Looking for gay men to attack and beat up. I was shocked by the cruelty and bigotry. (They were eventually arrested.)

That campground was busy on weekends. It was in the woods and our place was the only neighbor. The road was narrow with trees to the edges and not much shoulder, so on weekends the road was crowded with cars on both sides.

the property 022

Which meant that in the mornings, those cars would have slashed tires, broken windshields, and nasty graffiti painted on them.

My father, from a generation when being gay wasn’t as well known, was angered by this. He took to patrolling the road in the evenings, an old man in bib overalls and black-framed glasses, with his thinning flat-top haircut, and an old Savage short-barrel shotgun over his shoulder.

Dad

He’d decided all those going to the campground were ‘his boys’ and he took on the job of watching out for them.

It quickly became known in the campground what my dad was doing. It didn’t take long before campers, men and women, were crossing the street to visit. They would sit in that tiny cabin and have coffee and cookies with my mom. They would potter around with my dad. They helped stack firewood. My parents became their surrogate parents, an old couple accepting them, not judging them, and loving them. Several long-term friendships were created.

property 009

The cabin before a face-lift. That’s an old metal door nailed to the wall to cover where a window used to be. My dad was innovative…

I remember one man, Jeff, who became a good friend of mine, and who ended up moving permanently to the neighborhood. When I first started going out walking with the man who would become my husband, Jeff took him aside and had a talk with him. Told him if he ever hurt me, he would have to answer to Jeff.

Another friend from the campground, Kevin, had a huge crush on my husband. And my husband, being the strong and wonderful man he is, was flattered rather than horrified or embarrassed, or threatened.

winter 08-09 005

He’s not short; that’s deep snow.

Which leads me to lesson three. For as much bigotry and hatred that still exists today, and seems to be growing, there are still those who care. As Pride Month draws to a close, I hope those who love continue to outnumber those who hate.

4th of July 10 001

Revisions

I’m in the middle of working with my editor on the current work in progress. I’ve posted here before about what that revision process is like, but here’s a quick synopsis before I get the meat of this post. The process goes something like this:

‘This is the best thing I’ve ever written!”

“This is the worst thing I’ve ever written!”

And so on. You get the idea. But today, I was focused in particular on four chapters that were so bad they even had the editor confused. She had to resort to a spread sheet to figure out what was going on. All four chapters lacked a reaction to previous action, a goal, and a new scene. The problem was the linear way I wrote individual stories and stitched them together, and was actually fixed (I hope) by the end of the day.

But here’s something I noticed, that all writers will recognize.

I was so deeply immersed in the story today, that it became more real to me than what was going on around me.

My husband would come in for something, like starting to cook dinner, and apologize for distracting me. Of course it was no distraction, but each time something like that happened there was this weird disconnect where, for a moment, I wasn’t sure what was going on.

Have you ever been deeply asleep and in the middle of a dream, when the alarm goes off or the phone rings, or something jolts you awake? There’s that moment of feeling like the world just tilted, where you don’t know where you are, or which is the true reality.

That’s the way it’s been today. My focus has been so zeroed in on the characters, that I could hear them talking, that I was right there with them, and that my husband became, for a brief moment in time, the imaginary character in a story. I may have to go pinch him to make sure he’s real.

There’s always a similar sensation when writing, of course, when the words are flowing perfectly and the outside world disappears. But today there was a different intensity to that and I think it was because the focus was on editing rather than creating.

I’ve spent three years with these characters, shaping the story around them. So it’s not like they’re strangers. But today it was like they were lost and I had to work hard to walk the trail with them.

Even now, while taking a break, my mind is only partway paying attention here. I’m still back there in the story. More than likely, knowing me, I’ll dream about it tonight.

It’s getting late. But I think I can spend one more hour in their world. On to the next chapter.