Being Prepared

Dear Readers,

I was going to feature another wedding gown this week but everything has stopped with the fires raging out of control in our valley. Yesterday in 12 hours the fires destroyed over 650 homes and businesses and with violent winds moved through and expanded into over 25,000 aces. Farms as well have been burned to the ground and the air is thick with smoke and tanker planes dropping red fire retardant liquid.

We were on stage 2 alert to pack and get ready to flee and deciding what to put in a small suitcase eally made us think. I chose underpants, towels, a toilet roll and family photos that have no digital backup. Most important was the wedding photo of my Basque grandparents from Pamplona, Spain back in 1920 when they immigrated to California to work on ranches and herd sheep.

I never knew them as my grandmother died at the age of 32 (when my father was 11) and my grandfather at 60 before I was born but the connection is strong as this is the only photo of them that we have. Those of you who know me can see the family resemblance.

Now some photos of our area:

The fire ran the length of the main interstate North/South freeway for the first 17 miles.

The after and the before photos:












This weekend is filled with all the homeless residents gathering at the local fairgrounds for support handing out food and supplies and housing all the animals in cages until they can find shelter. Just seeing the photos makes one so grateful to have been spared this tragedy and wishing there was more we could do for our neighbors.

As the fires move north to destroy more property, orchards, vinyards and farms we have to re-think about the climate and that things are changing for the worse every year. Our precious resources, like water are being used up to fight these fires and the firefighters risking their lives to do battle in town and in the forests.

The night before the alert call to flee (level 3) I was working on 3 wedding gowns to finish and bag up, place in the car to escape to a safer place. Yes, brides still are going ahead with their wedding plans in spite of this. You have to give them credit for delaying their Spring and early Summer plans with the Covid virus and now this…but as one bride told me, “if you can get through all this and still get married, it will last”….I sure hope so!!!

Wishing all my West Coast sewing sisters can stay safe as we watch everything go up in flames.

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51 Responses to Being Prepared

  1. Tia Dia says:

    First, I am so very glad that you are safe. What horrifying pictures and news! It was interesting to read a comment in the NYT today about if all the West coast fires were occurring on the East coast, there would be a lot more willingness to put policy in place that would impact climate positively.

    I did not realize (or had forgotten) that your grandparents were Basque. I just finished the most interesting little book on the history of cod, and the Basques had the global monopoly on northern Atlantic cod well before any Vikings figured out there was land where Canada lies. I am fascinated by the Basque language and history, perhaps due to it being so closely guarded and unchanged over the millennia.

    It’s funny how life goes on in the middle of disasters… like weddings! I admire the couples who are determined to not let the weirdness of 2020 derail their plans.

    Stay safe.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Tia…yes, we are still considered the wild west and on our own when it comes to disasters. That same author has done books on specifically Basques as well. They are a different breed and have their own language despite Franco banning the speaking of it during his reign. Even my cousins who were born during that time were forbidden to name their children Basque names and had to have Spanish ones only. We still have our suitcases packed as the fire season is not over and hot spots occur and break oiut all the time.

  2. Mary says:

    Stay safe Mrs. Mole. Stay safe

  3. Those pictures! How awful…I just can’t imagine. So grateful you and Mr. Mole were spared. Stay safe and well! Hope you get a drenching rain soon!

    • mrsmole says:

      It’s been over 135 days since we had rain and usually we get some retuning in Nov when we really really need it. I feel sorry for all the wineries that have been burnt to the ground and the farmers and ranchers too. They wait all season to harvest about now, pears and grapes and hemp and all is gone.

  4. tcdooning says:

    Thinking of you and all who are at risk from these fires. Be well!

  5. Michelle Tothill says:

    I heard about the fires in Oregon on the news here in B.C. it is devastating to see homes, businesses, farms and entire communities destroyed.

    Stay safe.

    • mrsmole says:

      It is weird to see your town featured on the national news with photos today too.When I lived in Vancouver, BC back in 1971, I never thought about fires with so much rain and greenery around…just snowfall.

  6. Faye Ryan says:

    Stay safe, sending you positive thoughts and prayers from the southern hemisphere.

  7. Kathleen Niskanen says:

    The picture of your grandparents made my day. Wouldn’t we love to have tea with her and hear her story. She was so optimistic with her dapper new husband.

    • mrsmole says:

      It was a hard life for her, having 4 children in a row and losing the last 3 to TB and then dying herself from that. They are all buried in one cemetery and when my father died 3 years ago, his ashes were placed beside all of them too. She worked the ranches as well beside her husband cooking and cleaning for ranch hands. I have been to her little village near Pamplona and walked in her footsteps which is now a deserted ghost town but the stone church remains and the river that runs beside it. I told Mr. Mole that if I die before him I want my ashes scattered back there to complete the circle of life.

  8. upsew says:

    those fires look so frightening – and your photos really show the devestation. I am glad to hear you are safe. the photo of your grandparents is lovely, older photos such as these really give me pause for thought, as they were made of sterner stuff. Sorry to hear your grandmother died so young, especially with you dad not a teen. They are a very elegant couple. wishing you well

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Sweetie, folks back then arrived in a country with no money and no family but worked their butts off to make it happen with no handouts or government help. Herding sheep and cutting wheat by hand was their plight. I have stories told to me abouit when they had to slaughter sheep and pigs for food and how every last bit of the animal was used. The women made blood sausages while the men cut and preserved the main parts.

  9. susansnow007 says:

    My heart breaks for you and the other poor people.

    • mrsmole says:

      One of my best friends who is also a seamstress aged around 78 lost everything in the fire. She still has her shop filled with clothes of clients but she had nothing but the clothes on her back and has to start over. I can’t imagine how hard that would be for a single woman.

      • Mary in Thailand says:

        I’ll be praying for her, that people take her in, and they are each what the other needs. (even if they didn’t know it)

  10. Helen Marshall says:

    I hope you stay safe. We in Australia have some similar experiences.

    • mrsmole says:

      We watch the news when fires sweep through your country too and feel so helpless. These days we are all in this together with climate change hoping the people in power would get off their butts and do something…we all pay for this inertia.

  11. Praying for your safety and God’s protection.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Alethia, sorry I have not been posting more on your fabulous FB page and all the good you have been doing to promote sewing and designers.You truly inspire me! God bless you too!

  12. ceci says:

    I was wondering how the fires were treating you – its a relief to hear you did not have to evacuate even as my heart breaks for all the others who have had so much loss and suffering.

    Many years ago I was in an intensive Spanish class with a teacher whose home language was Basque – he had the most wonderful stories and insights and even though I’m not sure it helped my Spanish I remember him so fondly.

    Stay safe.


    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Ceci, you must have heard some good ones. All Basques have the best stories and they love life and love wine…both going hand in hand! All my 88 relatives couldn’t stop hugging me the first time I visited them in 1999 as it had been their first contact with my side of the family since 1920. To me it was the first time I had ever been able to look into their faces and see someone who resembled me all with the same last name.
      More and more stories and help is coming out as the days come for fire victims with whole familes displaced and having nothing. Our local Credit Union is taking donations and matching funds to help out but we have limited resources here in the way of housing during a disaster. Makes you realize how unprepared a community is. Our govenor has appealed for help from DC but no one is optimistic that any will come.

  13. JustGail says:

    I’m glad you are safe and keeping you and all the west coast in my thoughts…

    • mrsmole says:

      2020 has certainly turned into a real nightmare…I asked my neighbor “what’s next?” Locusts and plagues? she is a nurse and is battling covid in the hospital every day. We have folks refusing to wear masks and even driving through our town in their pickup trucks with confederate flags and guns shouting that they want their freedom to not wear them. It is a world gone crazy when we need leadership more than ever.

  14. Ellen Miller says:

    Sending HUGS from the East Coast….

    • mrsmole says:

      Hi Ellen, can you send some rain too???? That way when Harry and David harvest what is left of the pear orchards for sending in Christmas baskets, they will be clean and ready for eating.

  15. Susan Hart says:

    Hi Mrs. Mole,
    I’ve been thinking about you with all this fire everywhere. I remember in 2018 and you having to worry and maybe evac from the Klondike fire too! Hoping you have a safe place to go.
    My husband’s cousin had to evac from Beaver Creek in Estacada 2 days ago. They went to their son’s house in Albany. We’ve been keeping an eye on the Chehalem/Bald Peak fire north of Newberg because it’s only 15 miles away from Aloha. So far they have it under control, but you never know.
    That is a GREAT colorized picture of your gparents. Have you done any genealogical research?
    Hoping Mr. Mole was able to get a harvest too before the ash fell.
    Stay safe, Susan

  16. mrsmole says:

    Thinking of escaping from our area but EVERY area from here to the Canadian border is affected…at least the folks in the coast have cleaner air for now and cooler temps. I am in contact with all my relatives and sadly 2 of my Basque aunts died during the Covid shutdown this year in March and the funerals were delayed by the government for months. It is a sad year no matter where we live. One of my cousins did a huge family tree search in 1999 when I visited and was living in the UK. I was fortunate to meet 88 family members with my last name and some only spoke French and the rest spoke Spanish as Basque had been banned for years. My Spanish was so basic but we laughed and drank wine to celebrate my “homecoming” to the birthplace.
    Hope things settle diown in your area too…I think the main factor this week has been the drastic winds that took the flames and embers so fast so far in 12 hours that even with tanker planes…it was impossible to save anything.

  17. Monique says:

    Been thinking of you for the last days and glad to see you’re reasonably okay, when I checked in here. Wishing you the rain you need and all the support necessary for those afflicted, along with the good leadership you need to come through this!

    • mrsmole says:

      We are wishing for all of that too, Monique. Today we can see a tiny bit of sky through all the dense smoke. Everything outside is covered in ash, plants, cars, patio furniture and veggies.

  18. mem says:

    Oh Mrs Mole as a Victoria Australia resident I commiserate . I still cry when I think of our fires . I am horrified by what is happening in California . Stay safe and know that many people are thinking of you .

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Mem…for all those climate deniers…HEY this is real and it is not getting any better as the earth warms up. We share the border with California and we share all our smoke and theirs…hoping for rain and some westery winds blowing east to clear everything.The forest animals and birds are suffering too just like your animals and it is heartbreaking to see baby deer and owls scorched along with housecats in cages after being rescued.

  19. Sam says:

    As another resident of Victoria, Australia, I too commiserate with you all. Hopefully the weather changes and some rain falls to slow/stop the fires. Memories of the smoke filled environment, wild winds and watching communities being evacuated, from beaches, by navy ships over here causes me to pause and think about what we may be experiencing soon ourselves! (I must go and repack my ‘flee bag’ for this fire season.) Feeling so helpless to ‘do’ anything for you except to say we are thinking and caring about what is happening. Try to stay safe. Sam the Aussie

  20. Susan Sullivan says:

    Mrs. Mole, glad to hear you are safe. Some of you may know Diane Ericsson – textile artist, pattern designer, teacher, etc.. She lives in Ashland. Last week, she got out with the clothes on her back, laptop, Bernina, and some photos. Diane has lost her entire life’s work. In addition, her husband just passed away from cancer. There is a Go-Fund-Me page set up in her name. Please contribute, if you can. Thank you.

    • mrsmole says:

      I did hear about her this week. It is good that Diane has so many friends in the valley who can help her.
      I found out 2 other friends who are lifelong professional seamstresses aged 78 lost everything. I have been donating to: to help farm workers and their families who lost everything.
      Also our local credit union is matching funds for whoever donates. Two great places to help those who have been the worst affected.

  21. jay says:

    I hope you get some rain soon. It is devastating.

    • mrsmole says:

      This week the police have arrested looters who have been digging through rubble to sell items for drugs….it seems as though they are the vultures picking the bones.But the good news is the whole valley has been doing such good work trying to find places to live and clothing for the homeless familes.

  22. celestial says:

    Dear Mrs. Mole, Your photos are a devastating reminder of the chaos that is happening to regular folk all down the West coast. You have my prayers and I am so glad you did not have to relocate.

    My husband spent a year in Spain in 1976 and was often thought a Basque because of his coloring, build and beret. Franco had just died and there were armed policeman at every intersection; he remembers the time vividly, as well as the wonderful Basque people he did meet and learned of their culture and struggle. He later returned in 2015 and completed the El Camino. He was fascinated by the fact that Basque is one of the few languages unrelated to any other; it is completely unique. You have a wonderful history and I thank you for sharing it.

    • mrsmole says:

      Being Basque is an honor and priviledge. One of my sewing friends walked the Camino last year and posted all her photos on FB. It was like being there with her. With my bad knees, I could never be able to do that but I have seen many BBC documentaries on it and Martin Sheen did a short movie on it too. Thank you for caring and praying!

  23. Elin says:

    These Fries are scary on so many levels! After reading your post I made a small donation to a reforestation organisation, One Tree Planted. I hope you and your loves ones stay safe through all of this.

    • Elin says:

      Sorry, ”fires”, not ”fries”.

      • mrsmole says:

        Thank you for donating to a charity to help save the planet. It is hard to see the future with so much destruction here and in places like the Amazon rainforest where greedy corporations burn trees to clear areas to raise cattle. It is heartbreaking no matter where we live.

  24. Elle C says:

    Oh Mrs Mole! I am so glad you and your husband are okay. I have been watching the news from here in the Okanagan Valley in BC. We are so close to the fires in Washington State and it would take very little for the same thing to happen here. Like so many of us in the west we are watching and waiting and hoping for rain soon. Take care. And be ready to leave if necessary.

    • mrsmole says:

      I remember driving through your area when I lived in Vancouver, BC in the 70’s…so green so lush and beautiful. It would be horrible if a fire ever got out of hand and created chaos where you live, Elle. Your vinyards and peach orchards would really suffer!

  25. Peggy D says:

    Seeing what’s happening on the west coast brings back terrifying memories of the fires earlier this year on Australia’s east coast, in NSW as well as Victoria. We ourselves narrowly missed a total burnout thanks to a last minute wind change. In my go bag I included: cash (as ATMS don’t work when electricity poles are down), wet wipes, soap, face cloths, a couple of flashlights and camping lights of various sizes, spare batteries, some basic food (eg muesli bars), lots of water, as well as a few changes of undies and the sort of clothes one has to wear here in fire weather — long sleeved heavy shirts, but jeans, work boots, and, finally, documents: copies of passports, drivers licences, and whatever else you need to establish your identity. Politicians and big corporates who deny climate change and make it difficult for us to forestall what most of us know is a huge global challenge should be voted out of office. The misery experienced by millions of people and animals during these awful fires, not just there on the west coast but here as well as in Europe and other places, is a huge cost, as is the destruction of decades and centuries of old growth.

  26. mrsmole says:

    All we can do is wait and hope that come Nov 3 we can vote out those politicians and vote in people who care about Mother Earth before money. Forests can be managed to lower fire risk, counties can be supplied with proper fire fighting equipment and local government can be better at evaculation people in time to get valuables and pets out of danger. It seems that those in high places never learn the lessons the rest of us deal with.

  27. Rena says:

    Just now catching up on your blog! So glad you are safe.

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