September 14th, 2020

Venus

In Climate-Change Jail...

Ughhhh. It's been oppressively hot and/or smoky here for 4 1/2 weeks now. On the few days where the highs have been < 93o, there's usually been too much smoke to exercise outside. I've only been able to ride outside 5 times over these many weeks. FIVE. :O

I've lost a lot of strength and stamina, because riding on the trackstand bike only does so much. Though I am SO glad I moved that thing indoors and set it up in the laundry room 3 1/2 weeks ago. It's in the way of everything, but at least the air inside the house is viable. HalfshellHusband also fetched the 'grabber' from the hip kit we're storing in the garage, so we can still get clothes out of the dryer pretty easily, as well as things in the cupboards on the far side of the bike. \o?

I never thought I'd be monitoring the air quality (and its forecast) so obsessively, but this is the longest stretch of smoke pollution we've ever had. None of these fires are actually IN the Sacramento area, but they're burning to the West, the South, and the North of us, and the mountains to the East form a barrier that tends to keep the smoke stuck here. :(

There aren't as many fires in the Northern hills and mountains as we sometimes get, though some are re-burning areas that are very close to where the devastating Camp Fire destroyed entire towns two years ago. The ones to the West and South are an unwelcome surprise. All of this stems from a series of thunderstorms over Northern Californa a month ago that included more than 10,000 lightning strikes and started about 30 fires. Firefighting resources are stretched really thin, and the fires are always hard to contain in the summer. The grass and forests are really dry, and it's a rainless time of year.

Normally, we would escape all of this by going up to Oregon to visit my family, but COVID makes that unfeasible (hence the feeling of being in jail). Even worse, Oregon is also battling several thunderstorm-triggered fires (and at least one caused by arson) that started over Labor Day weekend. One of my sisters is on the edge of an evacuation zone near Portland (she is packed and ready, though), and my mother is in Eugene near another large fire that has destroyed several towns along the beautiful McKenzie River Highway (126). I spent a LOT of time checking fire and evacuation maps for Oregon over these last 5 days. The winds near Portland have dropped down and are shifting back toward the East again (back toward what has already burned), which is good, and there's some hope of rain tomorrow. But how sad for the little towns along 126 and Highway 22 (both gorgeous areas) that have been devastated, and I see that one of the fires has crossed over the edge of the Warm Springs Reservation too. Horrible. As with California, having a bunch of fires all start at the same time makes it nearly impossible to contain any of them. And there are three large ones up North that are in danger of merging together across the Mt. Hood National Forest. :(

Meanwhile, in non-depressing news... this is happening at our house right now:



It's one of those 'grown your own' creatures that I got The Boy as a gag gift, probably from Dollar Tree. I was all set to donate it to Goodwill, and then I thought, No--I want to see how big and creepy this thing'll get. It started off at a diameter of about four inches. Now it's on its second bowl, and it's bigger than a salad plate. It grows verrrry slowly, but eventually its eyes poke up from the water and you have to add more to submerge them again. That's the biggest bowl we have, and I don't know that I'm willing to sacrifice the bathtub if it reaches that size... but I might be. I mean, the package says it can potentially grow up to 6 times larger, so who wouldn't want to try THAT out? \o?