Okay, so I got the cats dropped off. Keno and I headed off to where he was going to stay. I am grateful that the temperature dropped pretty significantly by then, because it was now about 65 degrees. The fog had started coming in.

I leave the dog in the car (rolled down windows, in a completely shady spot) and head in with Keno to hang out with the family there.

I decide at this point to check my voicemail. I knew when I had gone back up the hill that there were 8 messages, but I chose not to listen to them at that point as I had more pressing things to do!

Now, there are 11 messages. The first two are the evacuation messages. “If you’ve received this message, please evacuate immediately.” basically. I don’t remember verbatim what it said, but that as the pertinent bit.

Now, I had thought that we were simply evacuating because the rest of the family was upset and worried. I didn’t realize at the time that it was mandatory.

So, after the evacuation messages was a flood of messages from people offering up their homes for us to stay in. We counted the offers up the following day and realized that 16 different families had offered to house us.

I can’t begin to tell you how loved I felt at that moment. The generous outpouring of concern and help was inspiring to me. Thank you to all of you who offered help in the myriad ways you offered it. We do appreciate it.

So, Panda is at rehearsal, and her boyfriend’s family volunteers to take her (properly chaperoned, yes I asked!), so I don’t need to worry about her. Who I do need to worry about at this point is my dog. She can’t come in the house where Keno is staying because they just refinished their hardwood floors. She’s a big dog and I don’t ever trim her nails. . .

The last message is from the woman who has always “kenneled” Cinders when we’re in Ashland, Oregon each summer seeing the Shakespeare Festival. She offers up her home to the whole family. Now, I’ve gotten offers from a lot of different people and I’m torn as to how to decide.

But this is my dog. She’s been wiggy for the past few months because of all the construction and remodeling that’s been going on. She’s not wiggy now, but I think it’s because she’s with me.

So, I call Cindy and ask if Mark and I can stay with her as well as the dog.

“Of course!”

Her dogs are ecstatic to see Cinders. She’s ecstatic to see me.

The rest was basically just waiting. Watching the news, trying to go about life as if it were normal to be living at Cindy’s house and to not be able to say goodnight in person to my children.

I could sort of pretend that the kids were simply on extended sleep-overs, and I imagine this is how it felt to them, with fear mixed in.

We were lucky in that we could call our neighbors, who were home, and find out if the house was still standing. We had many friends who had no idea whether they even still had a house. I can’t begin to imagine what that must have felt like.

I am glad that we didn’t stay, even though about a 1/4 of the people on our street did stay. When I saw one of them two days into the Fire, she looked shell shocked. I can imagine. I know I didn’t sleep well, but I can’t imagine sleeping here and keeping an ear out and a nose out for any indication that the wind had shifted and now our house was in danger.

It didn’t shift, but that doesn’t mean those people slept well.

Plus, the helicopters and airplanes directly overheard are bad enough now when I know that we’re safe and that they’re putting out the smoldering fire now that it’s 95% contained.

We’re home; we’re safe; fire crews are still working. It’s all very surreal.

It’s particularly surreal because driving up to my house there is no evidence of the fire, until you get to our street. Then it’s the dozens of firetrucks and tankers, the helicopters and all the other evidence of a fire being fought. So, it looks bucolic and beautiful until you get close. I haven’t driven over by where the fire did the most damage. They’re still working over there and I have no intention of getting in the way just to curb my curiosity. There will be plenty of time to survey the damage after the fire is completely out.

In the meantime, I’m trying to breathe deeply and slowly, to keep my heart rate from racing every time a helicopter takes off.