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October 24, 2007

California burning: "If your fax machine rings, your house is still there".

The good news: the young San Diego councilman I've known since his pup stage just released a sad and bone-chilling list of homes that have burned down in my evacuated neighborhood--and my house is not on it, they tell me. Bad news: I am not even in San Diego, and despite my normal thick-skinned "it's-just-real-life-happening" take on these kinds of events, not being there makes it even worse. Somehow, I feel guilty, and for no reason. The last thing I--or anyone else who lives in Southern California--needed was this.

This time the SoCal fires are worse than the ones in late 2003, when on a trip to London, I literally had to drive between rural mountain ridges on fire along Del Dios highway the night before my plane left just so I could stay in a hotel to get to the airport on time--usually a 20 minute drive. It was a bit like being in the escaping-burning-Atlanta scene of Gone With The Wind, except much longer burning and with lower but hotter flames.

When I am not traveling, I "live", as it were, in staid Rancho Bernardo, a quiet conservative suburb of San Diego. For years I was on the Planning Board there, and now I am somehow glad I'm not. I've been away from California--very far away--for the last 10 days, since the 13th. Was supposed to go back to SD this Saturday, the 27th, just in time for a presidential candidate fund-raising barbecue in La Jolla, of all things. I am sure it's been canceled. This past Monday morning, I learned, oddly, from a BBC report that my Bernardo Heights neighborhood was evacuated, which is a strange feeling. Later Monday, I learned no one could go downtown into work.

Anyway, all living things got out of my house via help from neighbors. No one except me and a bunch of animals, including my cat J.D., live at the house (my lawyer ex-wife "evacuated" years ago from my house on East Capitol Street in DC). With no one around in RB who really knows what has been going on, and before the officials released the list, how do I know what's going on? Answer: The same thing I did in 2003 when I was in London and Kent--every two hours I call my home fax machine (001-858-613-XXXX); if it makes the high-pitched fax noise, my house is still there. I love that sound now.

More later, if needed and I can--but I am going to an airport. Trying to work here. But my friend and blogfather, Chicago trial lawyer Patrick Lamb, urged me this morning to find the time to blog about it no matter how "busy" I am, even though I am far away from California. You're right, as usual, Pat.

Posted by JD Hull at October 24, 2007 11:59 PM


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