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I’m used to the smoke obscuring the sky and turning the sun into a ruby. I’m used to it being so thick that I can’t see the sides of my valley. But these last couple of days the smoke has been so thick that it’s hazy at the bottom of my yard. It hovers over the river like a morning mist.

Over the last few weeks we’ve had a nice cool spell and a little rain. It calmed the fires, which are all around us, gave some relief to the gasping vegetation and washed the smoke out of the air. It was a nice respite, but it didn’t last. The drought is still on, the temperature has gone back up and the smoke has again filled the air.

I have fond memories of opening the windows overnight to flush the house with a cool breeze. Now we’re reluctant to let in the smoke-laden air.

I’m looking forward to autumn.

rjb

EDIT: The drought level has been raised to 4 in my area. That’s on a scale of 5, where 5 is the worst. This means strict water restrictions, but without severe, punitive regulatory action.

rjb

Enchanted Light | New Mexico by Jim Crotty is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND


The drought continues this year. We had a snowpack that was pretty close to average for the valley, but then we had one of the driest springs on record. Right at the end of June, which is supposed to be the month when we get most of our spring rainfall, we got a heat wave. We saw temperatures that have never been recorded here before. For a while each day was breaking the record set the day before. What was already dry became crisp.

Our lawn knew what was happening. Normally we can count on the vigorous growth tailing off at the end of June, the weekly mowing along with it. This year the grass never really got going. So far I’ve mowed it twice, and the second time it didn’t really need it. It appears to have gone dormant. The predominant color in most yards is brown rather than green. I’m not bothering to try to keep our lawn green, I’m just trying to keep it alive. Even that is difficult in the face of watering restrictions brought on by the drought.

The forecast calls for continued hot, dry weather. There is no respite in sight, not even the occasional drenching thunderstorm we usually get in the summer. Worst of all, we’re being told to expect more of the same in the future.

On the plus side, there has been no comment from Droughtman. In the past he has said we’re not having a drought because we have a big lake full of water. He’s being quiet this year.


As for the wildfires, we were warned that conditions were right for a bad season. They were right. Fires are starting every day and spreading quickly. There are boiling clouds of smoke and steam rising up in flammagenitus, creating pyrocumulonimbus that are as big as any thunder clouds I’ve ever seen.

Eric Neitzel – CC-BY-SA

The people fighting those fires are having to concentrate on protecting human structures, because stopping them is out of the question. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes and the province has declared a state of emergency.

My back yard. That’s smoke, not cloud.


People are saying we should get used to it and try to adapt to a future of drought and wildfires. I’d rather not have to.

rjb

Credit Torley – CC-BY-SA


We’re at the three-quarter intermission in the writing of The Road for a Coward, and I’m beginning to think that the working title won’t be the final title this time. With all the previous books I ended up using the working title when I published them. This time, though, the book isn’t turning out to be enough like the title to justify keeping it. That’s what a working title is for, though, right? Just something to get you through the writing of the book, then you’re supposed to pick something that reflects the actual story.

I’m still enjoying writing it. There have been some bits of life intervening and causing delays and slow-downs, but when I can get to it, I’m liking it. My characters are really beginning to show their true natures, and the relationships between them are developing. The elements that I’ve introduced so far are showing me how they’re going to affect the story as we approach the end. I always wonder before starting a new book whether I will be able to find enough words to get us through it. But, they are always there. I’m glad because I really enjoy seeing how the story comes out.

So there’s the three-quarter report on my novel, The Road for a Coward (for the time being.) I estimate another two months of writing, then it’s on to all the mechanical stuff. Proofing, editing, formatting and recording. I’d better get at it.

rjb

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages.

Article 20.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

We have the right to associate with whomever we want.
We have the freedom to assemble for peaceful purposes.
We have the right to refuse to join an association.

The state can’t tell you which associations you can’t join, provided they’re peaceful, and it can’t tell you which associations you must join either. For instance, there must be no state mandated theological institutions.

rjb