Saturday, August 29, 2015


When we were still in South Africa, my Facebook feed began to fill up with stories of the fires in the Pacific Northwest. We'd known that with the dry conditions this year, the fire season was likely to be bad, but nobody knew it was going to be this bad. 

August 16

My cousin posted about evacuating their farm and horses. 

Burning around the old Finkel house, where my family lived when I was a baby. A lot of lost pasture and hay. 

All over the area, news articles posted about livestock and pastures being lost. 

August 18

The area around highway 12 and Kamiah burned. 

Three firefighters were killed near Twisp. 

August 20

Fire crews from Canada and even Australia came to help. Local volunteers trained as relief crews for the exhausted firefighters who were working non-stop. 

This repurposed DC-10 flew over the school in Chelan, Washington, trying to save the buildings. 

August 21

August 23

Wind from the west brought smoke into our town, even though the actual fires were miles away. The air quality index dropped to "hazardous."

The photo of this firefighter circled the Internet. After a 32-hour shift, the photographer reported that the man sat down and fell asleep within seconds, despite the small blaze just behind him. 

August 24

Comparison photo in Lewiston, 35 miles south of us, where my parents live. 

August 26

A friend and I had planned to walk downtown, but instead we drove. Even walking between buildings caused my asthma to flare and my eyes to burn. 

School started at the University, but the students had to brave the smoke to get to class, and outdoor activities were canceled. 

August 27

A reprieve of blue sky! We took a few deep breaths and went for a walk. 

August 29 (today)

Back to staying indoors again. It feels like winter in August, when we get cabin fever from staying in so much. 

Curly and Mister made homemade masks. 

The weather forecast predicts a bit of rain. We're all hoping there is enough rain to help the firefighters, but not lightning to start new fires. 

Updated: it did rain a bit tonight!!! It smells heavenly. 

Friends Around The World

The absolute highlight of the South Africa trip was staying with friends. Not only did they act as tour guides, but they spoiled me and refreshed me emotionally and spiritually, which was so needed!

Ash and I met years ago chatting on Twitter and with a mutual love of Covert Affairs and other shows with blind characters. She introduced me to Kris, and we all bonded over commonalities like homeschooling, Christianity, knitting, movies and just being kindred spirits! 

I highly recommend visiting locals if you can! They made the trip so low-stress and easy for us. Plus, we just had plain fun, talking each other's ears off and goofing around, watching Into The Woods and singing all the songs in the car, enjoying all the animals and each other's children... just such a treat. 

Kris is a fabulous cook, and she taught me a few of her favorite dishes: roasted beef and root veggies, which I tried once I got home. 

We had one bit of drama the day before we left. Missy G fell out of a tree and hit her head hard enough to black out for a minute. She was fine afterward, except for stiffness and bruises, but she gave us a scare!

Despite the late winter, both their houses were absolutely lovely, and we so appreciated their hospitality while we were there. 


On one of the warmer late-winter days that we were in South Africa, we visited Moreletakloof, a park in Pretoria where a few animals lived near a farmhouse and some hiking trails. 

Johannesburg Zoo

The friends that Natta and I stayed with in South Africa are wildlife vets. As one interesting part of their jobs, last year they took home an orphaned lion cub to bottle feed, with the proper permits, of course. 

Now, that 15-month-old lion lives in the Jo'burg zoo, so we took an afternoon to visit him and tour around the zoo.