These wildland firefighters are the most endearing, upstanding young men — and women — but by far mostly men, ever. They are so polite, intelligent, capable, and hard working. I think Nick is really enjoying himself, socially this season. Nick is so handsome and muscular, he has at least a passing familiarity with uncomfortable phenomenon of men being threatened by his masculinity, but these guys aren’t whatsoever. And what that translates into is them being really complimentary of him and interested in him (or “interesting about him”, as we tend to say in my family — my Libyan friend would always mess that up but in the most endearing way, and somehow it just stuck). Nick connects with other people and other men easily, all things considered, but he’s had some real bro-downs since we’ve been out here. He talked with this really fun, positive Hispanic wildland paramedic for so long, the other week, I was gonna tell them to get a room.
There’s a water tender that I’ve run into off and on for four years now, named Cameron, who has always been the sourest of sour pusses with me, which is fine, but even he just blossomed, talking with Nick. Cameron is one of those super blue collar guys who’s very committed to his wife and shows it by being extra “fuck you” to attractive women, but his normal level of “fuck you” towards everyone is pretty high. But pretty soon he was asking Nick for surfing advice and saying he went once and, as an experienced bull rider, thought it would be no big deal but it was a big deal, and now next thing you know Cameron and his family are gonna come out and visit us once we get settled in Hawaii.
I was single for so long, I still have these really compartmentalizing and insular tendencies — this was a nice conversation! And now it’s over, and it will not extend into any other area of my life! I’ve never had any trouble with actual wildland firefighters, but there have been some pretty invasive, obnoxious contractors over the years. But Nick’s energy about that is (for obvious reasons) totally different. If we have even half the people come visit us in Hawaii that he’s invited to come visit us in Hawaii, then that’s…half of a lot of people.
I find myself inclined very positively to this idea. Normally house guests, the idea of house guests, is just…ugh, it’s a lot, unless you’re on very good terms with them. Like, gestated in the same womb, good terms. But it’s amazing how the idea of house guests in Hawaii feels totally differently, because it’s guaranteed so nice outside, and there’s guaranteed so many things to do, that not only is there no reason to be cooped up together underfoot, but it’s highly unlikely. Now I’m starting to catch the spirit, and randomly inviting people to stay in touch and visit us in Hawaii. And I mean it! I haven’t been very good at forming or keeping any kind of community, the last…how old am I?…forty four years. With Nick, it feels so much easier to navigate — gah, just infinitely easier and more straightforward. There’s no room for anyone to misinterpret anything and that’s just the biggest relief. I can always feel the festering of some kind of misinterpretation or mismatch of expectations, but I often don’t know what to do about it, so this is better.
One of the Grandpa’s that the little dogs picked up this summer, a couple fires ago, Cliff, retired Idaho Highway Patrol and our very wonderful gray water driver on that fire, was on our minds recently. We definitely think he and his wife should visit — she just retired, while he was at that fire, and he missed it. He was such a wonderful human being to begin with, but then the caterer at that fire had odd-sized gray water fittings and Cliff didn’t have an adapter and the kitchen boss guy got really furious with him. Cliff had the entire contingent of fittings proscribed for him by the United States government, so he was in compliance, and that made it incumbent upon this kitchen boss to secure and provide a fitting for his weird equipment, but instead he pitched such a fit that Cliff went in to town and found one that would work, and didn’t even know for sure that his company would reimburse him. He was working for some outfit that didn’t pay him for his season until five months later, for chrissakes; we get paid every week, by contrast.
Anyway, we had kind of forgotten about Cliff in all the time and events and other fires, but when we got here to this one, the potable water driver hadn’t shown up yet so they asked us to haul water for the kitchen until potable got here. We have a bunch of stuff to get set up, when we arrive, to become operational, but the kitchen has to set up exponentially more stuff — their outfits are always like three tractor trailers, two chase trucks and trailers, and some random other stuff, almost like a traveling circus — AND have a hot meal ready to serve to 300, 500, 800 firefighters, within hours. I think I’ve said this before, but I’d never in a million years work for an incident caterer, because that’s just a lot — they’re always up round the clock — but anyway, when we got here the kitchen was stressing we stopped what we were doing, which was some important stuff, to go haul water for them.
So we don’t have the fittings for their tank, which is not our fault because we’re only required to have fittings for our stuff, since hauling water for ourselves is something we’re equipped for as an extra service, and then if other vendors want some of that water, sure, but everyone’s got different size hoses and attachments. I mean, there’s just no point us carrying all that shit around, we couldn’t possibly be prepared for every situation when that’s not even our primary job.
So we top fill the kitchen’s tank, which we’re totally not supposed to do with potable water but we were careful and that was the only way, and were just about to head out when we encounter the kitchen boss. Now, I have no idea this is the same boss Cliff dealt with, because I’m not even thinking that way, but we go on to have this enormously negative experience with him. He wants us to fill something else, that has an even more randomly sized attachment (3/4”), and he actually describes to me that they put this small, weird size on it on purpose, because “lazy truckdrivers” will get distracted and over-fill it by accident, with larger attachments.
I’m like, “yeah ok, I don’t have that, also didn’t have 2” for your other tank, happy to give you all the water you need, Ace already closed, so this is what we got.”
The kitchen boss did that thing that really fussy, high strung people do, where he rubbed his forehead and visibly tried to calm himself down so that he didn’t lose his shit on me. He said, “I’m looking for a nice way to say this.”
I said, “Say it however you want.”
He said, “You people always act like it’s my job to have the fitting, but it’s not. It’s your job.”
I said, “It’s actually not. Our job is to run the shower, we’re just doing you a favor because the food unit leader asked us to. All our gray water is 2”, all our potable is 1.5”, and that’s what we’ve got.”
He got animated and restrained at the same time, kind of like Wendy Byrd when she’s about to unload on Marty Byrd in that show Ozark, with a lot of urgent hand gestures, and enunciated very clearly, like I was stupid, “You’re getting paid to haul water, correct?”
“Um…not personally, no. The company does charge —“
“You people always do this. You always do it. And you know what? Fine. Fine. Here’s what we’ll do. You give me one hundred dollars and I’ll give you the fitting. At the end of the fire, you give me the fitting back, I give you the hundred dollars back.”
I was still wrinkling up my forehead and trying to figure this out when Nick came tearing down off the tank, where he’d been stowing away the pump, and said, “NO. Look dude — it’s not our job to haul your water, we’re just doing Steve a favor until potable gets here. We’re not fucking paying you to do extra work that’s not our fucking job. Come on Hannah, we’re done.”
As presumptive as that might sound, I appreciated it, because it was starting to feel like taking crazy pills. So we drove away, and had to still do all our shit that is our job because hauling that dude’s water set us back. Anyway, we realized, probably the next day, that that’s the same guy Grandpa Cliff had been dealing with, and all of the sudden we just felt this pang of wishing we were already in Hawaii and Cliff and his wife were already visiting us. He loves the dogs so much, there was never a second where one of them wasn’t in his lap, that whole fire, except when he was working.
The kitchen guy came and apologized to me the next morning, by the way, saying he’d been under the impression that it was our job to do any of that, and have fittings. I wonder if he got scared he’d be demobed. I reported the interaction to both the food unit leader and facilities unit leader, and they were both like, “This guy is on his last fuckin’ leg,” apparently having already frustrated them. So far the food is reasonably good and we’re off to a great start on what might be a nice long fire.
We’re in Colorado, and had to drive through the road closure on 70 to get here, with the canyon on fire and in active rock fall status, and we had an oopsie short term breakdown right at a point where a boulder had taken out the guardrail — perfect — and then we had to turn north on a two lane road that snaked up up up into the mountains, and then we had to turn more north on a 1.5 lane dirt road that really got its snake on, so I was pretty nervous with the tractor trailer. It’s all fine until you can’t go forward and you can’t turn around — that’s the scenario I hope I never get into again, as I’ve been in it before. Anyway, we got here fine, and then dealt with the kitchen boss and our own work, and things are ticking along okay. The little dogs are enjoying their lives as usual, getting petted quite a bit, and it’s all just great.
I missed the barbell workout yesterday because I was napping, but I really needed it. My brother is currently in Hawaii, finally off of his 14 day quarantine, and looking around at houses and areas. We’re thinking we might all benefit from renting for six months or a year, just because we don’t know enough about different islands and regions of islands to have strong preferences. This is my brother, my dad, Nick and I, by the way, and of course the animal family members. It’s going to be a lot of work, after the season, to get everything ready to go, possibly putting the Flagstaff house on the market, getting all the documentation ready in the right timeframe for the animals, etc.
The only thing I could see being a real issue is the nation plunging into full and total actual chaos, as we near the election. That would be tough, logistically. I mean already, shit is tough logistically. We can’t even get food to eat on the road, half the time, because dining rooms are closed for the fake pandemic and we both pull trailers, so no way can we fit in the drive through. Every day something stupider happens than the day before. I think that’s a fair assessment.
The other day on Facebook some lesbians were screeching about Trump and we might as well be herding people into concentration camps or whatever tangent they were on, and two of my fabulous friends with Gays For Trump jumped on and gave a super comprehensive run down of the Big Dawg’s advocacy and advancement of gay rights and gay people in his cabinet, etc, and the lesbians just lost their shit and said Gay For Trump aren’t real gays or else they’d hate Trump too. I mean, I don’t even know why I pick out that example because it’s one of dozens. It’s not all about Trump, you’d think the riots and injuries and deaths and murders would be an item too, but since people make it have to be all about Trump, then fine, here’s pushback on that, and then the derangement syndrome kicks in, and it’s just such a shit show. People are like “omg he’s so divisive” and I’m like, “you also have the option of keeping your shit together and doing some independent research, just fyi”. I get that organized civil disobedience is an option which I would certainly reserve for myself under some set of circumstances, no doubt, but I’d have to have a better source of intel on that than the MSM, personally.
I’m still enjoying all the emergent footage of people not having these impromptu BLM roadblocks etc. A bunch of cars were just impotently honking at a daisy chain of white girls holding hands across a major intersection with a big banner — god, what did it say? Something silly — and a guy in scrubs who was trying to get to work just lost his mind, ripped their banner out of their hands, chucked it over a fence, came back, snatched a cell phone videoing girl’s phone out her hands, chucked that into traffic, and broke up the blockade for everyone. The altercation was filmed from a bunch of different angles, randomly. I can definitely see myself feeling that way and doing those things. Luckily our progress through the country, this fire season, has not been impeded thus far, and fingers crossed it won’t be.
California’s trying to pass an extra tax on the wealthy, to include assets and pensions, and not even those who currently reside in California but everyone who’s lived there any time in the last ten years. I guess 40% of the state’s annual income tax collections come from people who earn over one million.
I saw a funny video of a guy interviewing students on a campus in Florida on their thoughts and feelings about socialism and distribution and equality, and they were all into it. Then he asked them if they’d be willing to redistribute their very good GPA’s to students with poor GPA’s, and they all balked pretty hard. “But…I’ve worked really hard for my GPA, and they didn’t, so why should they get some of my GPA?” Them versus Us sounds real good until you’re a Them. One student had the presence of mind to say he believed in equality of opportunity, but that equality of outcome is not only a bad idea but unrealistic in application, and I was like, “a-ha, someone’s been listening to Jordan Peterson” :).
I posted on Facebook that the DOT saw my MAGA hat at a routine commercial vehicle stop and said we could go on through, and opened up his uniform shirt to show a little of his bullet-proof vest underneath, which had a velcro Trump 2020 patch. I took a picture of him and his beatific smile. Facebook raged — I’m getting my friends sorted out, or they’re sorting themselves out — but saying he should be fired and criminally tried, and I was like “wow”.
Teal Swan did a great article on Cancel Culture.
Governor Cuomo is publishing a book on COVID pandemic leadership, which as been compared to General Custer publishing a book about Battle of Little Bighorn leadership. “Wait… I’m not sure Cuomo realizes, but HIGH NUMBER is NOT good. This is similar to golf, where low number wins.”
Sigh. Anyway, definitely hoping for a smooth transition to Hawaii for us, at least — we’ve got a lot of people relying on our success so that they can come visit and learn to surf, you know! I still feel the way Nick and I felt when we were in Hawaii for 2.5 weeks back in March: if we’re gonna get stranded somewhere, let’s get stranded here.
I’m at the point in the season where I feel ready for an autumn makeover. I always do something nice for myself, aesthetically, in the fall after fire season, if not several nice things, and I hope this fall is no different, fake pandemic and race riots notwithstanding. I’m at that age where white women (because we’re the complexion canaries in the coal mine) are in full blown skin protection mode, usually using a whole host of products and interventions and strategies, and I’m just like getting baked and windblown as an occupational reality, day after day and week after week and year after year. Dating a much younger man, I’m like “I should probably get ahead of this,” you know, but Nick is so funny — he’s like, “we’re both gonna look like leather purses at the end of this season.”
So much sun. So much wind. The insides of our noses feel like they’re packed full of potato chips, 24/7. Oh well — I have the rest of my life to get into a moister climate, use a serum or some shit, do like literally anything for myself, aesthetically. When we get done cleaning and turn off the generator for the night and climb into the tractor bunk beds, I just don’t care. There is a time for personal fussing and this is not that time. I don’t see myself in a mirror too often but when I do, I’m always surprised I don’t look worse, really.
Conversely, just to play devil’s advocate, I’ve got at least a bunch of stuff dialed in that *I* think matters — a barbell lifting routine for consistently good body composition and at least a reasonably clean face most of the time and I permed my hair right before the season, so it’s a fucking mess but at least it’s a fluffy mess and not a flat mess. I mean, I’m wearing bright blue Walmart sweats, tops and bottoms right now, sitting next to a propane heater that’s drying me the rest of the way out, and I wish I could get it closer because it’s cold and I have to keep the trailer door open to watch over the shower operations. The skin on the backs of my hands is not delicate whatsoever. I’m never going to be a hand model. I think I’m doing okay.
My like-minded conspiracy aesthetician girlfriend quoted me on some enzyme thing for my face, post-season; I love her. All we do is message back and forth about the cabal and what to do for my face. I’ve kind of scraped by, being Nick’s much older girlfriend, by really not looking my age, but age happens to everyone, and if I begin to look my age or close to it, at some point, he’ll just have to decide how he feels about that. I think he cares not one shred, on that level, but I look around at younger women and I don’t feel jealous, but more admiring: like goddamn, how are you so pretty. I don’t think I was ever that pretty. There was a girl from the kitchen here yesterday, checking out the showers and playing with the dogs. This is the first fire of her life, and she accidentally chose the hardest fire job in the world — I mean, even firefighters get to sleep regularly — and she was just kind of wan and amazed at the realities of her existence. She was just so peachy and glowing and lovely, a totally natural beauty. Yeah — I don’t think I was ever that glowy in my life. I really liked her — this is not an anecdote about female competitiveness, just things you notice when you’re older. I feel sort of possessive even, like “put on a hat immediately!”
I’m sure my conspiracy aesthetician girlfriend feels the same way about me, and then I go on year after year just not doing anything, even basic, for myself. I don’t even wear sunblock. I mean, what’s in that shit anyway.
Well, the sun has come out and it’s probably time to wrap it up and move on to whatever’s next. Breakfast with the little dogs :)
Buffy has a reason to eat now, with Milo around. She’s very odd and ritualistic and self-denying about food, and mostly buries it if she’ll even put it in her mouth, which usually she won’t. She won’t even look at things she doesn’t want, so you offer her food or water and she instantly just turns around and looks away. If she does want it, she sits eighteen inches away and hangs her head down like she’s praying, but for like 20, 30 minutes, without moving. She likes things to be torn into chunks and hand-fed to her, but she sniffs and investigates each chunk as if it’s just as likely to be poisoned as the last chunk. It’s so much, it’s just so much, and almost none of it involves her actually eating. So Milo is just this well oriented little boy, who likes to play and chase his ball and tuck into a good meal, and that serves to evoke Buffy’s one main emotion, which is jealousy. She’s like a swooning Victorian heroine until something makes her jealous, and then she’s a dragon lady. So Milo will happily and healthily scarf down his food, while Buffy engages in her ritualistic perambulations around hers, and then the second Milo goes for her food, she guards it very possessively, but often still not eating it. So…yeah, that’s what breakfast with the little dogs looks like. Alright, on that note — have a good day, everyone!