Posts Tagged With: fire


Driving home from Oregon yesterday took seven and a-half hours. As I rolled into the county, local radio announced a burn of 450 acres near Mountain Ranch, the area that took the brunt of the Butte Fire. The Butte Fire is considered the worst for home losses in the state from a single fire.

The day before I left, I managed a quick trip to the local Arts Council Gallery for a look at their exhibit entitled History From The Ashes. DSC08424 (Copy)

There is no joy in picking up cherished or simply common objects from your burned out property. Mostly sadness, tears and awe that anything recognizable survived the conflagration.

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We know art is healing. And there is something about picking through the ashes that must be common to all of us. I watched on television as folks did just that after Katrina. The flood, destroyed as completely as fire.

DSC08436 (Copy)When my house burned to the ground in Michigan, I remember finding  my melted marbles and my mother’s  jar full of precious coins. The wafts of smoke coming from the ashes, the strong smell, the bent bed springs and melted cook stove didn’t make me give up hope that I might find a heart shaped plastic locket my grandmother gave me that contained a tiny rosary. Of course, it couldn’t possibly survive, but my 8 year self believed in miracles.

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Items found, were given an artful setting of remembrance.

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Or put together to form a sculpture or a mobile.

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One survivor made a fabric wall hanging, with burned out spars of trees surrounded by wild flowers. A reality, wild flowers, rain fed, follow a burn.

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Dead bushes and trees amid new grass on this canvas.

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You can see my face reflected in the glass covering a spectacular photo by John Slot of the borate bomber releasing its chemical fire retardant.

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And this photo by Katie Clark of a partially burned home with a surviving flag.

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The most spectacular piece in the show is this shawl, positioned like an effigy with burned offerings at its feet. The shawl was made from the ties that bound hay bales distributed to land owners. Hay spread on bare ground, an effort to help prevent erosion. This artist washed and dyed the pieces. She softened them enough for weaving and wove this shawl.

It is a good feeling that something pretty, or remembered or useful rises from the ashes of despair and we can all see through to their recovery and healing, as art surpasses the ashes.










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It has been long between blogs. I find when I’m busy, I’m really an activist at heart and am inspired to rant about the current incomprehensible political situation, which Jim dislikes.  I have not been traveling!  So I rant. Jim reminded me this morning it has been a year to the day (yesterday) since I left the motorhome and took up the business of building a new house and all that transpires both expected and unexpected.

I got news of the awful Butte Fire from that distance, chagrined that my friend Deborah Mullen,  a co-worker at the Calaveras Enterprise, was burned out. A devastating experience.

Today, after clearing through pounds of mail, I gathered clothing, shoes, tables, chairs, jackets, and stuff you think people will need in the aftermath of a complete loss of everything of a normal household. Deborah posted a picture on FB  of herself and Husband Steve; “We have each other,” she said. Always one to look on the bright side.

After connecting with several recovery, resource sights, it became very clear that the stuff I gathered was not what is needed right now. It is more on the order, of paper plates, paper towels, face soap, q-tips, wash cloths,  canned foods, powdered milk, peanut butter, fresh vegetables, flashlights, lanterns, batteries, ice chests, water carriers and so on. So, tomorrow, I’ll assemble a different set of household goods,and make my way to Mountain Ranch, then Valley Springs where daughter-in-law Laurie is holding much of my important paperwork taken at my request from my house during the voluntary evacuation order. I’ll start carrying my camera again, if I can find it.

My last day in Oregon, I went to a bridge repair meeting and met some neighbors from the private road we share, many of whom,  I’d never met previously.

I also invited 12 people to a wine and nibble about 4 p.m. Saturday,  before my expected leave on Sunday morning. I thought some of the neighbors might be curious about what my place looked like after watching the slow progress from the outside over eight months of building it. Four people showed up, three from one family. All but  four answered with some enthusiasm, suggesting they’d be glad to come.

I thoroughly enjoyed those that came.  I’m not a novice at entertaining guests, but I’ve never been so royally stood up in my life, and it makes me chuckle that I’ve had that experience at this time in my life. If I were a young bride, I’d have been hurt. Not one person bothered to tell me they could not or would not come. I thought it was strange but those that came,  more than made up for those that did not.

It has been fun furnishing a new house, with nearly all second-hand items and attempting to keep it neat and not over clutter it with stuff as I am wont to do.  I’ll eventually get pictures hung and curtains up and take photos; my goal to hopefully find this page a bit more often.






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Yesterday, with the pall of the Peshtigo fire in my brain, I forgot to post we had found  my maternal grandmother’s house in Marinette. A frustrating search.  Again, one we made easily in 2006 and failed to record. (That was before I was a blogger and had a digital camera.) The house front had changed. I spoke to several neighbors but these old houses are now mostly cheap rentals for young people with kids. My grandmother, who had 12  children, moved here after my grandfather died. She bought the house with money she won from suing the company over his death. My mother was born in Marinette but never lived in this house. As the oldest, she and three sisters were married and gone by that time. I particularly cherish one family wedding at this house  when I was about 10 years old. My uncles pushed the couch and lamps against the wall and taught me how to polka and waltz on the smooth hardwood floor so I could dance at the wedding. My grandma carried her money in a pouch around her neck and when we were little, she would send us to the grocer for something and allow us to spend a penny of the change.

img314Rose Dionne and daughter Marietta Rhinehardt

All those children.  It still boggles my mind. My grandmother was only 4 feet 9 and a half inches tall  with a tiny waist my dad would demonstrate by encircling her waist  with his  hands. My grandmother on the left with her daughter, my aunt Marietta on the right about 1950.

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Our journey took us through farmland,  from Marinette & Menominee to Bark River, to visit a childhood friend. Marinette & Menominee are twin cities perched on opposite banks of the  Menominee River from each other. During the war, we had to color our margarine because the state of Wisconsin, a strong dairy state, refused to allow “colored” margarine to look like butter.  U.S. highway 41 is dotted with small towns  the names of which brought back more memories. Auggie Schultz’s bar in Shaefer where I tasted pop and potato chips for the first time. Stephenson, where an aunt and Uncle once lived. Powers, Wells, Ingolls, Wallace where once stood Lime Kilns my great grandfather buiilt.  Dagget, Carney, Spalding, all remind me of someone my dad bought piglets from or hunted with or peeled pulp with.  Nadeau where my paternal great-grandparents settled in the “Belgiantown” after coming here from Leige, Belgium  through Ellis Island.

img444-Inspecting the lime kilns near Shafer, Mi.

My brothers Bill, Dan, Norman and myself in front of one of the lime kilns my great-grandfather built. He came as a specialist in this type of kiln. My great-grandmother, who was pregnant made the trip alone after the baby was born.(It died.)  She traveled with trunks of household goods with four children, one of them blind. She spoke not a word of English, but she carried a sign that said Nadeau, Wisconsin on it. I would have been terrified to make such a journey.

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We arrived at my friend Bernice Patrick’s farm in late afternoon. Bernice was widowed 7 years ago and her son runs the farm. She works at a local casino and we got there before she got off work.

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This interesting old house, a log house with chinking, was lathed over at one time. It stands on her property. Double click it for a better view.

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The weather wimp checks the thermometer. One of the hottest days of the year, it turned out. And, the humidity made it pretty miserable. We sat outside playing with the cat and eating apples from her orchard and watching the bulls in one pasture.

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When Bernice got home from her job at the Island Indian Casino, about seven miles up the road, she likes to take off her shoes and relax. We took off our shoes and cooled off in the house and looked at pictures before dinner.

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Bernice’s graduation photo.

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Her sister, Marie, who was my sister’s age. The Cousineau family were our neighbors and school chums when we burned out in 1948 or 1949. The bus dropped us off from school and this is what was left of or house:

img553Rubble of Hardwood house fire.


img552Hardwood fire rubble. Everything burned, 1949 Spring thaw, March or April


img551Ruins of the fire from earlier in the year, during spring thaw, 1949. (Copy)

It was because of this fire that Bernice, Marie  and I met again at my home in Murphys, over 60 years later. More on that tomorrow.

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Natchez, Mississippi – Day 10

Note: Mary flew from Baton Rouge Airport, Louisiana on March 12 to her home in California. I’m hoping to get her back with me by mid-April. My current plans are to drift SLOWLY north along the Mississippi River to Memphis, Tennessee where I’ll then turn northeast heading for New England for the Summer. Can’t go north too fast because it’s still cold up there! The Mississippi River is rich in history…I expect it to be an interesting passage.


The motorhome is still parked at the Loyal Order of Moose Lodge #1662 in Natchez, Mississippi.

Natchez remained mostly undamaged from the Civil War. Hence this old city with its narrow and many one-way streets remains a beautiful city. To read about Natchez, click this link…,_Mississippi

Today’s Blog is about dead people…

Yesterday I drove the Bronco the about five miles to my first stop of the day…the Natchez City Cemetery. It’s a rather pretty place set among rolling hills and beautiful old oak trees. Many notable people are buried here.

On the first weekend in November the cemetery conducts a tour where local citizens come dressed in period costumes. you can read about that event by clicking this link…

Here are some of the photos that I took…

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view…








One of the more interesting sites is the Turning Angel. You can read that story by clicking this link…



I also found a section of Confederate dead…





Visiting local cemeteries gives me a better understanding of the region I am visiting.

Less than one mile further along the road is the Natchez National Cemetery which you can read about by clicking these two links…

I find comfort and peace in my soul walking among my fellow veterans…








I took a different road back to town and passed this gaily decorated house…


Nearby I came to the highest overlook of the Mississippi River in the area…



Next stop was at Veterans Park in downtown Natchez where stands a 31 foot high memorial to Confederate Soldiers which you can read about by clicking this link…





Final stop of the day was at the site of the Rhythm Nightclub fire back in 1940 where 209 people perished. The museum there is privately owned and adamant about its no photography rule…so I did not go inside. You can read about this tragic event by clicking these three links…





I’ll explore more of Natchez today.

Enjoying historic places is another joy in the life of a full-time RVer!

The red dot on the below map shows my approximate location in the State of Mississippi. You may double left-click the map to make it larger…


Enjoying 65-75 degree temperatures most of the year is a primary joy in the RVing lifestyle!

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”…Albert Einstein


On October 27, 2012, I created a two-minute video titled America The Beautiful. The music America The Beautiful is by Christopher W. French. The photos, which I randomly selected, are from the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia (not shown in that order)…are mine. Yup, That’s me standing in front of the Post Office in Luckenbach, Texas…Y’all!

Click this link to start the video. Make sure you have your speakers turned on and go to full screen asap.

If you have not checked out my Ramblin Man’s Photos Blog, you can do so by clicking this link…

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2013
For more information about my three books, click this link:

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Some mornings you wake up and you are brain-dead. I tried to write my Christmas letter and all I could focus on was the accident and the aftermath. A close friend lost her husband Thursday. And, another friend’s grandson was murdered by his own daughter’s murderer, the husband/father. A serial killer on our road? Hard to believe.

Suddenly, I felt like I had no good cheer to offer this morning.  Gotta get a grip! Plus, it vexes me that I don’t have access to pictures I took and stored with my Motor Home computer, and stuff on this computer is not available from the Motor Home unless I carry a heavy computer back and forth. They were uploaded to Picasa, but I can’t figure out how to get them burned to a disk from Picasa.

I pressed a friend to teach me how to put pictures in a Christmas letter, so maybe I’ll hear from him today.  Yesterday, I put up some of the Christmas lights and have a living room full of boxes to decorate for Christmas. Not a card sent. Maybe today will be more productive and spirited. Put on the carols, have some mulled wine…hey, it is time to get into the spirit of Christmas.

Today, I’ll just post a couple of old pictures I like.

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I love this one of my brother warming his pizza on an iron. He was demonstrating how he did things in his younger bachelor days.

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This painting from the Florence Griswold School intrigues me because it has that I’m taking a picture of you while you are aiming at me, effect.

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And, this pen and ink drawing of a woman who seems just a bit suspicious of the viewers  motives.

Art heals, but I let the wood stove fire go out to remove the ashes and now I’m chilled. Gotta get a cup of coffee.



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When I return home I never have any doubt that I live in one of the nicest places in California. Murphys Creek runs two miles from my house, right through town, in fact.  My daughter and her two boys came to stay for a couple of days and we drove to the creek to cool off.  The kids like to walk upstream and tube back down while we visit on the bank.

The water is low everywhere this year, and it is kind of fun to float under the bridge.

Or do some fishing from the bridge.  A tented playground is part of the park, visible in the background.

Or you can lounge around an eat cherries and corn chips, which is what we did. Relax. And, for nostalgia’s sake, we walked about two blocks to the Peppermint Stick, an ice cream parlor and enjoyed ice cream sundaes with whipped cream and a cherry on top.  Virginia worked there when she was in high school, and she regaled the kids with stories of working an ice cream parlor and candy counter where kids could order two gum drops, one licorice stick and a sucker and hand over their sticky pennies. Ice cream cones had to be consumed outside.

My daughter, who had just recently done a field trip with students and went rafting down a huge river finally jumped in to get wet and cool off. I’ve enjoyed this creek since we moved here, only more now that I have grand-kids to come and play. It’s a pleasant way to spend a hot afternoon.

While waiting for the garden soup to finish cooking for a light supper, we heard a close flying plane.

The spotter plane is  barely visible in the smoke that we hadn’t noticed until we heard the plane.

Soon the whole sky was a mass of smoke and haze and looked to be very close, which it was, approximately a mile away.

The helicopters began dropping buckets of water and the spotter continually circled to direct them.

A second copter joined the first one and a flurry of cars went up and down the road. We saw folks hauling their horses out of the canyon.

Eventually there were four helicopters and two spotters. The boys wondered why no fire engine came out. We explained to them the fire is in such a steep place, fire fighters can barely get to it. There were fire fighters from the highway side of the fire, we learned later. And my daughter took one camera and I another and we took pictures of every room in the house, every out building and the whole yard…just in case.

The copters were dipping into Utica Reservoir on the highway, and hauling back their buckets. The buckets don’t look like they carry enough water to fight a major blaze, but they do.

After a couple hours of the bucket brigade,  they brought in a long line bucket as the reservoir water got lower.  The helicopters were dumping with their lights on until it got  dark and the ground crews had to hold the lines. Fire tamps down at night and they caught this one right away.

The wind had shifted away from us before it got dark and we were able to go to bed with a feeling of safety, but fire is always a danger in the Motherlode. Other communities suffer hurricanes, tornadoes and twisters, or volcanoes, so we all have our dangers and our charms. This turned out to be a 180 acre blaze with no evacuations. We can sigh with relief and go on about our business. For me, it has been a busy month and I’ve missed blogging more than I ever have before. I have been nursing an injured muscle and have three weeks of therapy coming up as well.

And, then this morning, besides hearing the spotters work the sparks, Karen was towed home with an incapacitated vehicle.  It needs a new fuel pump. Not dangerous and not charming. Dang.

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