Carnivore Dreams Day One

Before Carnivore

 

Ok, today is officially Day One of the Carnivore Diet Experiment. This will go until the end of November when I have my physical and check all my blood markers.   Today will be statistical with a lot of pictures since it is, of course, Day One!  Other days will be less factual, more lyrical, more about my dream research and novel project.  But I’ll always include some hard data.

I will also be posting some pictures of life here at camp (“camp” never “cottage”) in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  This fall is the loveliest I can remember in some time.  The grouse are running up my road, while I can hear the bear dogs baying off in the distance.   I’ll be blogging about life off the grid, the energy challenges both grid-wise and diet-wise,  and my “dream” novel project.  And I’ll be posting pictures occasionally of my culinary efforts.

One of the biggest challenges for me going Carnivore is that I’m a foodie. Hence my woodfire cookbook memoir presently out for consideration at my publisher.  (My son, John, is in culinary school.)  I love cooking and Keto afforded opportunities to be creative.  Luckily, my son will still be eating that way, so I’ll get to cook.  And I suspect I’ll be eating Keto a lot down the road.

My background: I am an adjunct university professor, taught for years at Northern Michigan University.  I am a writer and working on a prophetic dream novel (I’ve always published literary fiction, though I have a woodfire/memoir thingy at my publisher presently).   This is a project that fascinated me.  Something more commercial that deals with the prophetic, creative nature of dreams, and Einstein’s ideas of time.   I’ll be blogging some about that.

If you missed my previous post, I am 63 years old! I’m 5’5” tall.  On Day One I weigh 125 pounds.  I’m guessing.  I’m 120 on my scales which is usually five pounds higher on a doctor’s.  I’ll weigh myself weekly.  I wish I had taken pictures before I started Keto since I’ve been on a Ketogenic diet for three months with no befores.  I’ve lost 13 pounds so far, though I suspect my natural weight is a bit lower, perhaps still carrying 4-5 pounds too much on my smallish frame. I am not really concerned with measurements at all.  My goals are primarily health oriented and to improve my skin, hair, and nails, and primarily to tone up.  I want to lose flabbiness in my neck/jaw and belly and lose cellulite in my legs.  We’ll see if this does it.   Or if I’m just getting too old!

I will be having all my numbers done the end of Nov. so this will be essentially a two-month experiment.  Presently, I have very low blood pressure (105/79 is average), low blood sugar (under 88), triglycerides about 65, .13 C-reactive protein which is very low, little belly fat.  I have very high cholesterol.  Usually 240 or more, sometimes as much as 300, but my HDL is as high as 95 at times.  My LDL particles are larger.  The last time this was done, I was eating Paleo, not Ketogenic.  So the new numbers in Nov. will be illuminating.  I’m missing some detail on LDL particle size, I think.  I couldn’t decipher those blood values.  So will supply that information in more detail at the end of the challenge.

I’m doing the Warrior Made workouts 3 x week.  They are twenty minutes long.  I am active here, hauling wood, walking (sometimes fly-fishing), some snowshoeing. Lots of stairs.

Sorry about the before pictures. I always take my picture in mirrors rather than selfies so they look like I’m used to seeing me!  No make-up, right after getting out of the bath, in this case.  I’ll do the same when I’m done in two months (as well as one with some make-up, I think, and a hairstyle)  I am technologically challenged and I have no one to take my picture and only a small full length mirror. (My dog Maggie is brilliant and plays checkers but she hasn’t yet mastered the camera on my cell phone).  My son, Josh, isn’t too good at this either since he has Down Syndrome!   Rest of my family is off working, my husband downstate, my other kids grown and in different spots.

I am also posting a “Before” of Josh, though he will be doing Keto between 20-50 grams of carbs daily rather than the Carnivore diet. He also does not need to lose much weight, just improve overall health.  He has digestive issues and skin problems, some bladder issues.  His stomach is always distended.

Josh Before Keto

Though I plan on my posts being more literary and lyrical (somewhat factual), today I will concentrate on the specifics of my baseline statistics and the tenets of this diet:

I woke up today headachy due to my sinus issues, long ongoing, exacerbated by the humidity and steady drizzle I could see out my bedroom window. Fifty-five degrees out there.  I stoked the woodstove, fed my dog Maggie, drank two glasses of filtered water, carried some wood to get it drying (we moved the wood pile out from under the lean-to because we are pouring concrete there soon in preparation for my new sauna–it will get protected again soon), then poured myself a tall black cup of joe. 

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I often have it with heavy cream or butter from grass fed cows.  But today since I planned on having cheese and heavy cream in my casserole, I skipped it.  I did some research on dreams in front of the wood fire, and then had my first meal about 1 p.m.,  then dinner about 5:30 p.m.  I try to keep my eating in six-hour windows with an occasional 24-hour fast, something that seemed natural to me before–having been influenced by Mark Sisson, Dr. Mercola, Dave Asprey, and the like.

I’m not certain what to expect but transitioning into Carnivore may not be as hard for me as some since I’ve been doing Keto three months prior. I almost seemed to be naturally transitioning into Carnivore before reading the usual folks online (Shawn Baker, and the folks from Canada).  I have the usual misgivings about my nutrient profile and an all-meat diet, but my digestion and system are so touchy, I have decided to go Carnivore without any plants or supplements of any kind for these two months so that this might serve as a baseline elimination diet.  Most of what I read about Carnivore seems to frown on supplements of any kind.  I mostly ate Carnivore the last three days, but did have a few glasses of wine with my family who were visiting for a color weekend.  We visited Tahquamenon Falls near my camp which is near Paradise and Sable Falls which is near Grand Marais– with a stop at a couple brew pubs, of course.  Lovely weekend.  I also had a bit of cocktail sauce and bbq sauce (a nice final meal), so my official start is today. 

I plan to eat more beef and oily fish like Atlantic salmon, lamb and pork– than chicken, though I will fill in with chicken wings, roasted chicken, shrimp, smoked oysters, sardines, and once a week: a liver meatloaf for extra micronutrients. (Though I love wild game and hope to glom on to some grouse, duck and venison, courtesy of my friends and son-in-law, I am not a liver fan so I’ll be looking to mask that flavor).  Will be using heavy cream.  Eggs and cheese unless cheese doesn’t seem to agree with me.  I don’t plan to eliminate coffee so my biggest sacrifice will likely be that bit of wine.  I will substitute LaCroix sparkling water for now.

Food today:

Dinner Day One Carnivore - Surf and turf

  • 1 p.m.:
  • Two glasses filtered water
  • Black coffee (I am not anticipating ever completely giving up coffee)
  • Egg breakfast casserole (I fried up half pound of ground pork in some reserved bacon fat—I keep some reserved in the fridge—in a medium cast iron skillet. Once browned, I mixed up six eggs, ¼ cup heavy cream, half a cup of sharp cheddar cheese, salt and pepper (Dave Asprey would frown on that pepper) and poured this mixture over the sausage. I added another half cup of cheese to the top and baked it for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Almost too long since the skillet was already hot. Fed the two of us nicely with a bit leftover for a snack tonight if I need it. Leftover it smacks of cold pizza.
  • 5:30 p.m.:
  • Dinner was a 6 oz. top sirloin topped with 6 oz. sautéed jumbo shrimp in butter, all seasoned with salt and pepper. I am out of my ribeyes presently—on order from Butcherbox—so substituted some lovely sautéed shrimp and butter for extra fat. Unsalted grass-fed butter. I add a good Celtic or Himalayan sea salt to my cooking.
  • One glass of sparkling water.
  • Evening, sparkling water, filtered water.
  • I tracked the day’s eating on my Stupid Simple Keto tracker and it appears I am still eating 63% fat and only 36% protein, less than 1% carbs, mostly in the eggs, I guess.  On Keto, I was more like 66% fat, 25% protein, about 10% carbs.  I am eating about 1200-1500 calories/day in the two day’s I’ve planned so far, though I don’t plan to count calories and will eat until I’m satisfied.  I was thinking I’d be a higher percentage of protein, at least 40%.  But perhaps this is where I am supposed to be.

 

So far I feel extremely satisfied and almost too full. I went to the bathroom twice today and easily, unheard of for me.  Headache never really lifted, however.  So far with this slow transition into Carnivore, I notice (already) better skin (I had the driest skin in the world), less BLOAT by far. In fact, I had a slightly enlarged liver though my numbers were always fine, and I can actually feel it getting smaller.  I have had no problems digesting fat and protein and no heartburn or stomach pain.  I had a lot of energy today and my mood was good, especially given this gloomy day and shortening days!

 I will finish this post in the morning, report in on my night’s sleep.  I’m a writer and a night owl.  I sleep 7-8 hours, but rarely go to sleep before 1 a.m., especially since I no longer teach even online.  I know I should improve those hours for my circadian rhythm,  but it just won’t work with my work schedule.  I’m creative at night.  I will be interested to see how this diet informs my dreams, the synchronistic fabric of it all.  Overnight, I’ll see if I can “direct” my dreams, participate in them actively, something called “lucid dreaming.”  I’ll leave a notebook by my bed.  When I awake, before moving, I’ll pay attention to how I feel:  any dream I remember, any imagery, any pervasive feelings any characters or settings afford me, that mis en scene.  What is it trying to tell me?  I’ll lie very still and try to extract a theme or the solution to a problem I am wrestling with, literary or otherwise.  There will be much more on this as I blog during this experiment.

(* We had rain all day and wild thunderstorms until midnight which kept me awake, but slept well and woke without a headache.  Dreams not remarkable–more later on that.)

 

Carnivore Dreams

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Ok, I’ve been called eccentric, I know, which is probably the kindest way some of my friends and relatives describe me, but to date I don’t think I’ve ever been called full on crazy.  Am sure that is about to change…

The last six months have been life altering with my father’s health challenges and mostly my son’s (testicular cancer).  So that accounts, no doubt in part, for my lack of blogging and my impending craziness.

Am hoping to remedy at least the blogging part.

I’m working on a new novel these days with a more commercial bent–a sort of prophetic dream plot (and how dreams inform creativity and innovation).  Right now, I’m in the research phase of writing which is my favorite part.  So I am considering a dream diary along with a diary about my new diet experiment:

I’ve been eating primarily ketogenic with the occasional cheat day for some time now and feeling well–better.  But now I have sort of accidentally (then purposely) transitioned into a carnivore diet–so far, I eat steak, hamburger, eggs, cheese, heavy cream, other protein sources like sardines and oysters and salmon and a bit of chicken (wings or roast chicken–an inferior protein source), and I plan to try to eat beef liver twice weekly worked into a beef meatloaf situation (I hate beef liver), in order to improve micronutrients.  (Lots written about missing nutrients — or are they really — and the carnivore diet).  My plan isn’t to convince anyone of this diet strategy, but just to take note of how it affects my personal health (I have a physical coming up in Nov. which will coincide with a month on just carnivore).  I intermittently fast, so I have about a six hour eating window and I occasionally do a 24-hour fast.

So far, I’ve eaten this way approximately three days and though it hasn’t yet helped my nagging sinus headaches much, my stomach bloat is immediately gone (and I can actually go to the bathroom again–opposite of what people tell you about fiber).  My skin is improving and nothing else aches.  This last bit of belly fat (I don’t tend toward a lot of that for my age) seems to be going and since I was already improving muscle and body composition, this seems to be improving it more.  I would say I am getting 50% macros in fat and 50% protein rather than 65% fat as I was doing on keto.  I had already increased protein some as I am in my 60’s and noticed some sarcopenia.

I am definitely stronger.

Greens.  Well, I love salads and I love most vegetables, not to mention never having a taco again (with low carb shells) is not in the cards for me.  So I know I will eat primarily keto (I think) most of the time, with some carnivore periods to reduce inflammation, etc.  I do feel much better, though.  Not eating plants is of course controversial and some will say down right nuts.  I love steaks so this is no hardship and I order grassfed meat from Butcherbox, a company I’ve been very happy with.  I’ve just fine-tuned my “big box” to mostly New York strips and ribeyes, hamburger, a few whole chickens, and a few pork chops.  Uncured bacon.  Butcherbox is not only grass-fed, it’s grass finished and I highly recommend them.

My son, Josh, has Down Syndrome, and I am trying to keep his carbs below 20, definitely below 50, working him into a more ketogenic diet.  Will also keep a diary on his progress.

My biggest challenge is coffee.  That is controversial with the carnivore folks since it’s a plant, but they do say it’s ok if you must.  They suggest weaning off it, but am not sure that is ever in the cards for me.  Perhaps cutting back, but my greatest pleasure in life is waking to that first cup of coffee in the morning, something I drink 3/4 Swiss Water Process Decaf, sometimes black, sometimes with a splash of heavy cream or grass fed butter.  I drink a good four-five cups/day.  A bit of wine is ok on keto, but off limits on carnivore, so another reason I’ll likely be mostly keto.  I now drink LaCroix sparkling water a lot.

I must say, though, that if I feel this good, I could envision possibly eating carnivore most of the time with “cheat weekends” being keto, or times I work keto back in for a while, since that diet works no hardship on me whatsoever–it’s sustainable.

In case you are reading this and wonder, I am a person who exercises (Workout Warrior) three times a week.  I’m active, live off the grid.   Carry wood, do stairs, care for a lovely dog named Maggie, who is an English shepherd and keeps me moving.   I am not overweight to start with.  I weigh about 128 having been on keto a while.  I have very low triglycerides, low blood sugar (105/68 is AVERAGE and I never go over 115/70 unless I have taken Ibuprofen), low blood pressure, no belly fat, but I have very high cholesterol.  My HDL is about 95, however, and my LDL particles, while numerous, are bigger in size.  Cholesterol is controversial and so far, I have resisted statins.  I do have to take a thyroid pill as I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis which makes my health a bit hard to manage.  It will be interesting to review all these numbers in Nov.

My mother died of a massive stroke at 64 and I will be 64 years old in March.  She weighed over 200 pounds, was on HRT (synthetic), ate margarine, drank diet pop and preservatives, never exercised, and basically did almost everything wrong (I hope).

My plan is to blog here about my “carnivore dreams.”  I am working on achieving lucid dreaming, and I imagine I’ll be dreaming about ribeyes.  (I can’t afford the ones in the picture more than twice a year, though–those pictured are amazing steaks my daughter, who lives in Green Bay, gets from great Wisconsin beef and Michigan can’t compare).  But they are hard on the pocketbook.

So I’ll record my health/diet experiences and will record some staistics, but plan for them to take a back seat to some creative musings about food, lifestyle, and most of all “dreams.”  Dreams in all senses of that word, since as one nears the end of life here they become more pertinent.  One never realizes them all, of course, because to do so would mean they are no longer “dreams.”  And who wants to live that way.

I dream about comedians–less so since my hormones changed–but still now and then.  My favorites are Tim Allen and Steve Martin, at least they are the ones who most often recur.  I dream about houses of all types, also recurring, strange since I’ve tried to simplify and live off the grid.  I rarely have nightmares.  I am hoping to become more in tune with my creative self as I work on “lucid dreaming” and I hope this blog becomes a synchronistic diary of those dreams that parallels my life and my writing.

I need that food and dream diary to document both.

We’ll see.  Right now, I’m sipping coffee.  We’ll see how that shakes out.

Pleasant dreams…

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Happy belated 4th to all and a profuse apology for my absence to this blog. I found that the adjustment to my son’s cancer diagnosis and the care for my father recovering from heart surgery used up my emotional reserves for much. I did, however, manage to finish my wood fire cookbook memoir and it’s off to my publisher for what I hope will be acceptance.  If not, the search goes on.

The holiday was spent with my daughter, son-in-law, and two year-old grandson.  I’m having trouble getting my pictures to download to my computer and then upload here, so they will follow soon.  Pictures of the garden as well. However, we had some glorious steaks as we did last year, took a trip to Gitchee Gumee up at Crisp Point lighthouse, attended the local whitefish fry in Paradise– fish fresh out of the pond that day, so fresh you could still see it jumping, and cooked some fabulous keto breakfasts of jalapeno egg poppers, and fried egg roll-ups with basil.  My garden is producing better than ever and we had fresh baby greens out of the garden one night.  It’s been dry, so a lot of watering, and that means a drain on the battery/solar, but as I write today, it is raining steadily with thunderstorms forecasted at last.

I attribute regaining some focus less to the adjustment to our lot (my son is doing well as is my father which helps), and more to the keto diet itself.  I’ve lost weight, lost brain fog, slept better, and my ass has healed better than expected (I took a nasty fall on my tail bone a month ago).  I love to cook, am naturally a carnivore, so the change has been a good one for me.

I’ve started a couple new projects.  My passion for the written word was fueled in my youth by my love for horses (I read every horse book in the Haslett Junior High library at least once) and I’ve started a series of essays that use my horses (I had five) as theme, and a more conventional novel which centers on horses as well.  It feels as if I’ve come full circle.  I plan to attend the American Royal Horse Show in Kansas City, MO this year, a show I attended in high school with my grandmother, Nanna.  I’m hoping my daughter will tag along late August.

Overall, I have to report that the links in the chain got me here and it’s been good to remember that no circumstance is inherently good or bad, but integral to the next experience, the next link, integral to forming our characters and who we become.  Not to claim there are no sad or down days, just that there are no “bad” ones.

My garden report will come soon once I solve this computer disaster.

Cheers.

 

 

 

Days

Us.jpgI can’t tell you how many days it’s been since I blogged on this website.  Or how long it’s been since I wrote a single word–my memoir woodfire cookbook abandoned.  I have spent the last few days re-acclimating myself to my work, reading another fine memoir by another Kimball–Kristen Kimball who is a writer who also runs a whole-diet CSA organic farm in upstate New York.  It’s a book about gratitude and hard work.  And food.

My book was about food–and life.  And certainly gratitude.

I’m grateful my daughter is doing well with my new grandson who turns two the 30th of March; grateful my 86-year old father’s Parkinson’s disease seems to have stabilized and he’s enjoying the winter in Florida; grateful my son Josh with Down Syndrome has nothing worse than recurrent bladder infections; grateful my youngest son John (just diagnosed with testicular cancer) so far has escaped chemotherapy.  Two years of cat scans and blood tumor testing are in front of us before we can rest easy.

My days instead of writing have been filled with research finding the best cancer centers, moving him downstate where we still have apartments in Romeo and close proximity to Karmanos; redoing an apartment for him with wood floors rather than carpeting–both can give off unhealthy gases; celebrating life with good food and dinners out for all of us I can’t really afford–but can’t not afford–dinners that kept our spirits up, our gratitude in front of our minds.  As if disregarding that gratitude for even a second would result in catastrophe.

I have given up teaching at Northern.

Our lives have changed drastically since Christmas and yet we haven’t changed at all.  It’s more we just move differently, feeling our way as one does in a pitch dark moonless room, shuffling a step at a time, hands outstretched in front of us.  Yet not without help from friends.  “Take a step to the left,” one of them might say.  We move together some of the time and yet each one of us finds our way alone.

For months I have nothing but watch old sit coms:  The Dick Vandyke show, Andy Griffith, Cheers or Frasier.  Or maybe Forensic Files–anything that might turn one’s brain to mush.

But now I’m reading again and even writing–one shuffled step forward in the dark.

Berry picking

Berries

It is raining.

But since my duties as health caretaker has thus far prevented me from foraging, we head out anyway, Josh (my son with Down Syndrome) and me and my dog Maggie.  It turns out the rain is only a minor inconvenience as there are broken down travelers (his car, not him) and fishermen on ATV’s, both crowding my space.  I feel somewhat guilty driving by the guy with tires strewn about, but my dog is not friendly and I am no help changing tires–oh, and I see a guy behind me in a truck slowing down to help.  Good–I don’t like the look of him.  Again, I feel guilty.

This time of year, there are quite a few people about.  Normally, I’d see no one on these back roads.  I thought today might be different, but it seems the rain will not deter them, either.  They are bent on fishing and breaking down ..

I have limited time today and am hoping the berry crop hangs on into early and mid-August as I need to gather and freeze several quarts for a wild blueberry cake recipe I am trying in the lodge pot over Labor Day weekend–for the wood fire cookbook, of course.  Anything extra I manage to pick and freeze will be welcome over the winter on as topping on a paleo cheesecake or berry crumble.

That rain I refer to–we’ve had plenty of it this year.  Not enough sun to benefit my vegetable garden, but the berry bushes are loaded with fruit.  It takes me a while to find the spot where they did the prescribed burn several years ago.  Rather, I’m not sure I have found it at all due to the extent of lumbering that’s gone on down CR 500.  The landscape is drastically altered even though they have mostly selectively cut what was likely soon dead anyway, having been burned by the Duck Lake Fire several years ago.  The clear cut they did in places will likely benefit the grouse population and even the blueberries, that’s one good note, and ah!  — suddenly there are small lakes everywhere I was previously unaware of.

I pick for thirty minutes before the rain starts in earnest, and as I reluctantly head back with a few berries, I see the guy’s car is still there, tires strewn about, his turn signal blinking, but he is nowhere to be seen.

I put a few berries on his dashboard and notice his car smells like cheeseburgers…

We’ll be out again soon.

 

 

Familial Trough — JM and Me — Happy 4th

“So the things we did to one another, the tragedies and failures of our lives, the successes, such as they were—revolved around the things we ate. Food kept us together, but maybe as important, the particular likes and ways in which we ate this food and drank our libations—the style each of us chose to prepare food for one another—also set us apart as individuals. It revealed us to one another sometimes in ways we regretted, revealed character in the same way someone’s character is revealed in how they play a poker hand, or the choices they make in appearance—or the music they are drawn to. “

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Happy Birthday, America

Here we are, four weeks plus gone by when I like to blog weekly.  My family, nearly every member, has had extensive health challenges which have precluded blogging and even writing, yet it seems imperative that I pause this 4th of July to reflect on the blessings this country has afforded us and to send out positive vibrations into a universe, seemingly precarious, yet still predominantly good.  I’m working on my wood fire cookbook and I mostly want to wish you good eating, good fellowship, and to share one of our favorite summer recipes.  Happy birthday,  America, imperfect grand experiment that you are.  May you continue to provide that melting pot of culture and ideas of which our forefathers dreamed.

Johnny’s Favorite Seafood Boil

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These ingredients can be changed up to whatever sounds good in your pantry, but this is a good place to start and works just as wonderfully for a plain shrimp boil whenever you are making a shrimp cocktail.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 rib celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 sprig fresh tarragon
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoons garlic powder or steak seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 4 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 lemons, squeezed (juice reserved) and the rind plus 4 wedges for garnish
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 6-8 quarts of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pounds medium (about 30) shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail segment left intact
  • 1 pound scallops
  • 2 lbs. prepared mussels
  • 3 ears of garden sweet corn cut in thirds
  • 1 lb. smoked sausage or smoked chorizo or combination of each
  • 2 lbs. redskin potatoes cut in medium sized chunks
  • Cocktail sauce
  • Drawn or melted butter

Directions

  • In large 14 or 16” lodge pot, combine all the spices, the lemon juice, white wine, water and bay leaves and bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 5 minutes.  Next add the potatoes and boil for 15 minutes, followed by the sausage for five minutes.  Add the seafood in any combination that appeals to you.  (If you buy bagged mussels you can add the plastic bags at the same time you add the seafood and open and add them at the last minute.)  Cook seafood approximately 5-10 minutes until shrimp is pink.  While seafood is cooking, melt butter in small cast iron frying pan (they make very cute tiny ones) and prepare or open cocktail sauce (I make mine ahead and bring it jarred:  chili sauce, large amounts of horseradish, lemon juice, and a dash of Worcestershire). 
  • Strain in a colander or clean fish net. Discard the cooking liquid and seasonings. Dump entire contents back into the pot.  Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.   If you like you can pour the butter over the entire mixture and serve cocktail sauce on the side or just have everyone dip into the melted butter also on the side.  Put a huge serving spoon into the pot and let everyone serve themselves.

 

 

 

 

Prescribed Burn

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“Prescribed Burn

Fire cleanses, they say.

      That’s what you tell yourself as you sit outside in your lawn chair and despite the fact the fire department had told you to evacuate twenty minutes ago. “Take what’s in your hands and on your back and go,” they’d said. You look down at the periwinkle coffee cup in one hand and the Newberry News in the other. “Fuck you,” you answer because you know nothing less will do.

They tell you they have other people to get out and you tell them, “Then you better get moving.”

“We can’t guarantee your safety,” they say and you say, “Can you guarantee it if I leave? Will you put that in writing?”

That’s something you’d like to take to the bank.

They leave you looking at the sky to the southwest, yell out their windows that you’re a fool and to get moving. You’d been watching that black sky, thinking it was quite the storm moving your way and you look again down at what’s in your hands.

 

Well, ok, so you know that isn’t exactly true, not all of it, though you are a fiction writer and when you write about the fire later, you take license and do what you wish you’d done at the time. “Fuck you” would have been a better response, but since it isn’t just you to consider, you tear into the camp and grab your cell phone, your blessed computer, your purse, round up your dog and handicapped child and hit the road for Newberry. Due to the fact that this fire will not be under control for two weeks, that it will soon be four miles wide and eighteen miles long, nothing short of a conflagration on its way north to Lake Superior, you will come to regret that action.

Almost immediately.”

Two years ago about this time, we were holed up in a hotel room wondering if everything we had was gone. My parable about circumstances:

A parable: Once there was a man who won the lottery. All his friends told him how lucky he was. A month later, an unsavory acquaintance of his shot him in his home and left him for dead because he’d heard the man had large sums of money in his house, which he didn’t. His friends told him how unlucky he was. As he was recovering in the hospital, which took several weeks due to surgery from gunshot wounds he suffered during the attack and from which they said he should never have survived, his house exploded and burned to the ground in the middle of the night due to a gas leak. His friends all told him how lucky he was he wasn’t there. The man is discharged from the hospital, rents an apartment until his house can be rebuilt, but the insurance money falls short of what he needs to rebuild, the lottery money gone on his medical bills since he hadn’t had time to obtain insurance he could now afford. The new apartment is small and dank smelling and depressing, but outside his window, on the first day he moves in, he sees a dark-haired, feisty-looking woman with strong, white, even teeth planting purple petunias, and when she smiles he feels a warm glow start in his throat and go down all the way to his toes, a loving woman with relaxed optimism about her, soon to be the love of his life…