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Crises already

Today's crisis: the Humanity Gifts Registry refused Donald's body. "Too much downtime" was the way they put it—a euphemism for something that doesn't bear thinking about. Now I have to find a cheap way to get it cremated. But it seems there is no cheap way—prices range from $700 to $1,000. Insane! I shouldn't care, since it isn't coming out of my pocket, but it pisses me off to give ridiculous amounts of money to undertakers. I've never forgotten what I read about the funeral industry in Jessica Mitford's book "The American Way of Death".

Well, I sent an email inquiry to one organization that supposedly offers inexpensive cremations, and while waiting for a reply, another crisis came up: my friends Judie & Gary's two southern Arizona homes are threatened by the Monument wildfire that recently started in the Coronado National Forest. They may have to evacuate at any minute, and could lose BOTH their houses—the old Deer Creek Lane one they're still living in, and the new Shallowbrook Drive one they've just begun to move into after extensive renovations. I think it would just about kill Gary to lose the Shallowbrook house—he absolutely loves the place. They're prepared to evacuate in both The LEM (their Sportsmobile class B motorhome) and Dorrie Anne (their Lazy Daze class C motorhome) if necessary. At least they wouldn't be homeless... but it'd still be a huge blow.

I spent most of the afternoon frantic with worry and frustration, because there isn't a damn thing I can do to help. I'm 600 miles away, and I MUST go to Pittsburgh. The latest word tonight is that the fire has turned away, but who knows? The conditions there were 94° F., 11% humidity and winds gusting to 40 mph, grounding the firefighting helicopters for a good part of the day. It could hardly have been any worse. Judie sent this photo taken from their back porch. At this point the fire was only eight miles away.


I remember almost exactly a year ago when I watched gigantic firefighting helicopters fly back and forth to Storrie Lake, sucking up thousands of gallons of water at a time and then flying off to dump it on a wildfire near Santa Fe.

It was windy as hell here at Storrie Lake today, but fortunately, there aren't enough trees here to pose a danger of fire—I think. Mostly it's just a mat of browned grass. I moved to a campsite with water and electric hookups around noon, as the temperature climbed to a high of 87° F. The site is broadside to the sun, and it's in the cheek-by-jowl section near the boat ramp, where things tend to get noisy on weekends... but I have power for air conditioning, and right now that's what counts. Good thing I got here when I did: this section was almost empty when I arrived, but the spaces started filling up this afternoon.

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