Now I’m really choking

Smoke in Walnut Creek on the worst day from my drone

After the first rain…



That smoke finally nailed me!!  Been down for days with chills and no voice.  It didn’t help that we haven’t changed our heater filter downstairs forever, I forgot we had a heater down there until our son moved back in.  They’ve been running it non-stop, it’s like I have legionaires or something??  Maybe it’s just a flu, it sure seems like the smoke.

I was out WAY too much in it without a mask.  The first day I was walking a reservoir a few miles when I saw the smoke as I came around.  It looked like the fire was in Walnut Creek or Concord there was that much smoke.  When I got home to google, I couldn’t find anything local.  It was from that Paradise fire about 150 miles away.

The next day we had a sail out on my boat.  Most of the people who show up for it are seniors, the smoke was really bad once I went through the tunnel and saw the San Francisco Bay.  We all met at my dock, I gave them the option to call it for health reasons but everyone wanted to still go for it.  There was no wind, we ended up motoring the whole way without any physical exertion.  Still, we got to Sam’s in Tiberon to be told we had to sit inside for the health of the staff.  That was about 5 hours in the smoke for me, all because I couldn’t call it.

We took one more walk around the reservoir before it got really bad.  By then, everyone was wearing masks.  That was the last day I was out until it rained to clear out some of the smoke.

On Saturday night there was a party I had RSVP’d to, but I felt like crap.  We made it for the dinner part, then left early because of a knot in my chest and my heart actually hurt. I finally called Kaiser on Sunday, they had me come in.  It’s the first time I’ve ever gone in for a flu type symptom, usually I figure if I want to get sick I go into a hospital.  I don’t know anything about smoke inhalation or not changing a filter.  The kind of a bitch of a nurse assured me it wasn’t the smoke?  That was like the manager at the restaurant I got food poisoning from lettuce telling me it wasn’t their lettuce that got me sick.  Whatever.

They gave me an inhaler, that untightened the knot in my chest.  A little surprised the Dr. didn’t use a stethoscope to check for… I don’t know?? Pneumonia??  The inhaler did help though.

Now I’m just weak and my  husband is down for the count.  I’m a few days ahead of him, just feel weak now with no voice.  Selfishly, I wanted to just lay in bed for this to be over with – I’m never sick.  I also never watch daytime TV, it totally caters to people laying in bed.  There’s a plethora of illnesses we might  not even know we have unless we go to the Dr. and ask for that specific drug.  With all the internet searches and the TV, it’s all an ad for drugs.  I’m guilty of jumping to the google, legionnaire conclusion.

It’s one thing to be in a warm house (with a new filter).  I can’t imagine what they’re doing in Paradise now that the town is leveled.  I totally disagree with that nurse, the illnesses from that smoke is about to kick in.  There’s the long term affects of us all smoking a cartoon a day of cigs in smoke, the first wave is going to be the illnesses it caused right away.  Who would have thought this would ever happen?

If this isn’t coherent, it’s because I’m not coherent yet.

Didn’t mean a fire storm!!

My last post was titled “Calm before the Storm,” meaning the holidays.  This week NorCal has been socked in with fires and smoke.  That Paradise fire affected almost all of NorCal, even hundreds of miles away.  It’s the worst fire in California history, the death toll keeps rising.

We’ve just been nailed with fires all year, then come the mudslides.  Last year my in-laws house in Ojai was in jeopardy, firefighters were able to save Ojai Valley before it jumped father down.

All summer I drove through a ton of smoke on I-5, driving through a controlled fire right on the freeway guided by CHP.  When we filmed this clip, we didn’t know it was controlled yet & understandably freaked out.

Now this Paradise fire, which is truly devastating in so many ways.  My friend made a trip up with supplies yesterday in a campaign on FB.  The request was for mainly gift cards, blankets, hygiene supplies.  It was interesting, I shared her post and asked if anyone wanted to drop off with me I would get the items to her in Modesto – I didn’t get one response?  The day before I asked if there was a donation station in Walnut Creek and got maybe 2 responses.  At first I thought everyone blocks me on FB and was a little pissed.  Now I think that FB blocks “non-sponsored” fundraisers, a Go Fund Me would have made my feed.

Regardless, we went out and got a bunch of GC’s in $25 to $50 increments from Walmart and Target for her to deliver.  I had some warm blankets, bought a bunch of trial size hand sanitizer .  Looking for useful camping supplies in the garage I found a propane heater I used to use for golfing on cold mornings, so I threw that in with some propane bottles.  Other than that, I didn’t want to out-guess what supplies would be more useful than just GC’s.

I first noticed the air quality last Friday when I took a group out on the boat, mostly seniors.  We stood at the dock wondering if it should be a no-go, everyone voted to go for it.  Besides some short outings, I’ve been indoors ever since with a sore throat and teary eyes.  OK, that’s nothing compared to being homeless in Paradise, it’s just to say how bad the air quality is here.  A few days of a sore throat is nothing.

This picture & the cover are from the start of the bad air quality last Friday, then some drone footage of Walnut Creek from yesterday.


If I’m right about FB blocking me on the newsfeed, that’s a whole other blog.  I could very well be persona non-grata in Walnut Creek, or everyone is just “over” FB.  If that’s the case, my prediction of FB is it’s going to go out as fast as it came in.

The best way to donate is through the American Red Cross disaster.  This is linked to their txt donation instructions. 



Drone Shots

Forgot how much I like flying the drone when it comes back and mission accomplished.  They asked me to take some pictures of a regatta that was a few miles out, I haven’t practiced launching (or landing) from a boat so I had to do it on land.  There are a ton of FAA restrictions that limit me from great footage, one is line of sight.  I’ve never put my drone out that far, there’s just no way you can see it.  The other thing was wind, there was a warning the entire time to bring it back that I ignored since it wasn’t losing altitude.

After 20 years of volunteering, I usually don’t volunteer work stuff.  Suzie Ormon has a quote I love, “Free work leads to more free work.”  It’s led me to pay people right away for services, it’s their time and equipment.  If I lose a drone, it’s $1k right away.  For work, there’s a rental fee included just for that purpose.  I’ve lost 2 drones to trees, one was a freebie job in Costa Rica and suddenly everyone was a drone expert without ever flying one.

When I found out how far out the regatta was and the winds, I figured I might have to kiss the drone goodbye.  The first battery my timing was way off on the downwind turn for  the spinnakers to go up, I just wasn’t out there in time.  I had a 20mph headwind making it slow going (maybe 10 minutes) to get out there about a mile then get oriented to where the boats were.  The good news was that it had that 20mph tailwind when the battery warning came on or I would have been screwed.  It landed right where I launched it.


The second race I was able to time a little better to get the drone out about 1.5 miles out for there downwind with spinnakers.  My Mavic pro has about 20 min of battery using 10 min in that headwind just to get out there, 5 min of shots, then the remaining battery getting back.  If I would have known how far out it was I might have declined doing it at all.  Usually, the races are closer to the marina which would have made for some great shots and given me a lot more time shooting them.  The worst that could have happened is the drone would drop in the water, no injuries, just the loss of my drone 😦

It all went well and I actually learned a lot without the huge expense of losing it.  I have to decide how much volunteer work I want to do with the drone though while other people are getting paid.  I don’t mind doing my own shots for fun and practice, the liability of volunteering for drone shots thinking it’s going to lead to paid work is too great.  So far, none of my volunteer work has lead to $$.

One of the women last night who found out I droned it said that I should put the pictures on their art wall.  They put art exhibits up from time to time for purchase.  I have to admit, was totally flattered by that.  This morning, as I do the math, it’s going to cost me about $500 to get some prints together for something like that.

My huge project this week has been actually quilting waves on a quilt I’ve been working on all month.  I couldn’t get it finished before the housekeepers came, I told her to just leave it on the dining room table since I have it all lined up.  Instead of saying how beautiful it was, she mentioned that I have free time.  That bummed me out on a few levels, you mean I’m not an artist??  I just have free time I don’t know what to do with and delusions of grandeur??  (OK – that’s not what she meant, I’m just adding that for dramatic purposes).  It definitely smacked me with reality, people look at me as a housewife with free time whose time and talents are not valuable.

That’s one of the reasons I always support my friends artistic endeavors (and pay them for it).  I know how long things take to make and the expense involved.

One of my first photography jobs right out of college was still shots for a commercial starring Tommy Lasorda.  I drove to the park in O.C. and got some great shots using a film camera.  I had a little pouch on my keychain where I put my lunch money, probably $10 max (mid-80’s).  I left it on a picnic table with my camera bag and someone stole the money…all day, no lunch.  I gave the rolls to the productions company before I left for them to develop, they turned out great!!  When I sent them an invoice, they said there must have been a miss-understanding?  This was a trial or an intern shoot, not a paid shoot, that somehow included them keeping all the work and negatives.  I couldn’t even put the shots in my portfolio.  After that job, I had to get a “real” one and couldn’t afford to “work” anymore.

Just some things consider if you’re an artist or someone about to ask a favor of a friend.