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Julian , California
March 24, 2010     The Julian News
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March 24, 2010

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March 24, 2010 Books of Note "Looks Easy Enough" A Joyful Memoir Of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, And Disaster The following is and excerpt from the newly released book LOOKS EASY ENOUGH, A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster, by Julian's own, Scott Stevenson. The book recounts a four year period in the author's life where at the age of forty-six he marries for the first time, retires, and moves with his bride to a small mountain town (Julian) to live the simple life. Instead, he finds himself supporting his wife through cancer, helping his sister through a grueling four year divorce from an abusive husband, painfully witnessing their retirement money circle the drain in the biggest stock market crash since the Great Depression, and watching as a thousand foot wall of dense smoke and raging flames (the Cedar Fire) approaches their home - they spent the last three years building themselves. With the flames less than a hundred yards from their back door they realize, they could lose everything. Yet through it all, the author ultimately sees the events for what they really are.., and comes out smiling. "SO FAR, SO GOOD," I say to Susan (my wife), switching to four-wheel drive as the pavement ends and the gravel road begins. Two days after the Cedar Fire chased us from our home in Cuyamaca Woods (Julian, California), Susan and I are headed back up the mountain. We're antsy to find out what happened to our community and to our home. We tried calling information hot lines, we listened to news reports, and we spoke to evacuated neighbors ... all to no avail. The entire community is in the dark and anxious to know whether our homes are still standing. Susan and l have decided to find out for ourselves. We knew Highway 79, the main access road, would be closed, but I know a back way into Cuyamaca Woods on a dirt road through the Viejas Indian Reservation. I explored the area as a teenager, and Susan and I hiked parts of it during her training for the 3-Day Cancer Walk. We doubted there would be any roadblocks on these back roads. We left the basement of Beth's house (my sister and our temporary place of refuge) at six this morning before the morning rush hour and, on the way, stopped at a feed-and- grain to pick up a few supplies. We'd like to fill up the pond and spread some food around for the animals. We figured the wildlife, if any have survived, would be thirsty and hungry. We're presently driving through a lush green area of gorgeous Black oaks and thick, flowing emerald grasses. Reports were that the Cedar Fire burned south into the Viejas Indian Reservation, but, as of yet, we see no signs of it. Cresting a small rise in the gravel road, I make a sharp turn to the left ... and, there... not twenty feet ahead . . . I see it. Hurriedly stomping on the brake pedal, ! bring our vehicle to a skidding halt. Susan and I can't believe what we're looking at. Our mouths hang open, and our eyes open wide as we stare out at the nothingness of one naked, burned-out rolling hill after another naked, burned- out rolling hill fading off into the distance as far as the eye can see. The hills are completely denuded of all plant life and are covered in a thick, dark gray ash. It reminds me of a picture I saw in grade school of what the earth would look like after a nuclear attack. The power and the enormity of what we're looking at is staggering. "Whooooaa, Babe-O," I mumble (my pet name for Susan). "Whooooaa, Bub," Susan mumbles back (her pet name for me). Neither of us knows what to say. We don't have the words to describe the devastation we're looking at. We're stunned by the abrupt change in the landscape and awed by the force it took to create such a change. One moment we're in a beautiful, green, landscaped paradise and the next, total destruction. It's as if someone drew a line on the ground and declared, "This side will burn, this side will not." "Whooooaa, Babe-O," I repeat. We still have a forty-five- minute drive on gravel roads before reaching Cuyamaca Woods. Continuing on through the ash-covered hills, we pass blackened masonry chimneys -- headstones marking the spot of deceased houses. We see thick steel guardrails that once lined the roads now charred, twisted, and bent like pretzels. The wooden guardrail posts have completely disappeared. 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Office is open daily from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM Owner operated by the Cioffi family for over 30 years, we offer short term respite stays, day care program, assisted living, dementia and hospice care in an open and airy country setting. Furnished Semi-Private rates from $2,850.00 per month. Private rooms from $3,550.00 973 Arnold Way, Alpine, Ca. 91901 Phone 619-445-5291 Fax 619-445-5844 Visit us at www.alpineviewlodge.com State license number 374-600-694 the ash. Steel road signs are bent, corroded, and melted into unrecognizable forms. Driveways lead to empty lots, in some cases not even a chimney standing, the houses completely disintegrated. It's utterly silent, no bird noises, no leaves rustling in the wind, no neighbors making neighborly noises, no sounds other than the soft crunching of our tires on the gravel road. It feels unnatural being the only ones in this huge area of silent devastation. Fifteen minutes later, we come across a pocket of green vegetation; oaks, Manzanita brush, grasses, and a small shed, totally untouched by the fire. It's a green oasis in the middle of a blackened moonscape. How this oasis survived, I have no idea. A few miles further, we come across a beat-up old Ford pickup parked by the side of the road. A rancher and his wife are sitting in the cab. Rolling down her window, Susan says, "Everything okay?" "Seeing if any of our cattle survived," says the old rancher. "We had eighty head. Didn't have time to move them before the fires hit. That wind was fierce." "Any luck?" asked Susan. "Not yet. If you see any along the road, honk your horn and we'll come and get 'em." "We'll keep our eyes peeled," Susan replies. Susan and I hope the rancher and his wife find their cattle, but I can't see how anything could have survived this fire. The further we drive into this ash-covered land, the more the emptiness of the hillsides begins to grow on me. I've recovered from the initial shock, and I'm starting to see a beauty in the gray starkness of it all. In a small valley that used to be a grove of Black oaks, now stand only acre upon acre of blackened oak skeletons, not a green leaf in sight. The oaks resemble dancers frozen in space, with the morning sun casting long gray skeletal shadows onto the gray ash covering the ground. A clear blue sky contrasts above. It's beautiful. "qf any house has made it through the fire, I hope it's Jimmy's and Marge's (our neighbors)," says Susan. "They've lived here longer than anyone, and they're older. It would be much tougher for them to start over." I haven't been thinking of our house since entering the burned area. I've been distracted by the power of the Cedar Fire and by the beauty and devastation of the terrain. Susan's comment has reminded me of why we've come. "1 love you, Babe-O for thinking of our neighbors," I say, squeezing Susan's thigh. We're approaching Cuyamaca Woods from the downhill side of the valley, and I know as soon as we round the next bend we should be able to look up to a hillside a mile or so to our right to see if our house is still standing. I'm confident our house will be there, even after driving through this gray moonscape. My gut tells me it's there. We've also passed a few more oases of greenery; a few houses have survived. Rounding the next turn, we roll to a stop. It takes a moment for me to get my bearings and to realize that this unrecognizable valley is really our Cuyamaca Woods. The hills, the valleys, the ravines that two days ago were covered in thick stands of oaks and pines, are now completely barren, stripped to the bone and reduced to dark ash. Everything looks much closer and more exposed than I remember. In the hope of recognizing which of these distant gray hills is ours, I place my arms on the steering wheel, lean forward, and peer through the windshield. I don't recognize anything ... and then I see it. Three-quarters of the way up a charred hillside sits... For additional information on LOOKS EASY ENOUGH check out www. Iookseasyenough. com or call the author direct at 760-765-1539. The book may be purchased at www. Iookseasyenough. com , or from local establishments (The Julian Book House, The Julian Coffee House, The store at Lake Cuyamaca), or from www. amazon, com The Julian News 7 Groceries Fresh Produce Sundries Beer. Wine. Liquor Dry Cleaning Lotto Scratchers Full Service "Best in the County" Meat Department U.S.D.A. Choice Bee[ Buffalo Meat Special and Holiday Orders, Cut to your Specifications .................. *" ............................ Bill" Pay *NOW OPEN* VETERANS AFFIARS EL CENTRO OUT PATIENT CLINIC NOW SERVING ELIGIBLE VETERANS Medical Director: Dr. Shahram Mirashami Family Practice Nurse Practitioner: Irma Garcia NP 1600 SOUTH IMPERIAL AVENUE EL CENTRO, CA 92243 Hours of operation: Monday - Friday Office Hours 8:00am - 4:30pm CALL FOR ENROMENT INFORMATION 1-858-642-6284 FOR APPOINTMENTS CALL: 1-760-352-1506 Julian Youth Baseball Holds Umpires Clinic Representatives of Little League District 31 came to Julian on Saturday to hold an Umpires Clinic for prospective arbiters, 12 local volunteers took part in the training session. Registering With Selective Service Is A Must (NAPSA)--As they grow older, young people find that in exchange for more freedom they are expected to take on greater social responsibilities, such as vot- ing and paying taxes. In the case of young men, once they turn 18, the law requires them to register with the Selective Service System. To be in full compliance with the law, men are required to regis- ter during the period of time beginning 30 days before their 18th birthday until 30 days after their birthday--a 60-day window. This law applies regardless of where they live. Also, the law doesn't just apply to citizens. Male immigrants residing in the U.S. must register as well, no matter what their immigration status is. It is also possible for a man to submit registration information early, as long as he is at least 17 years and 3 months old. How To Register In general, young men can reg- ister online, at a post office, by mail, when applying for student aid or at high school. To register online, go to w~av.sss.gov and click on the reg- istration icon. It only takes a minute to complete the registra- tion and you will receive a regis- tration number instantly. Selective Service "mailback" reg- istration forms are available at any U.S. Postal Service facility. Men liv- ing overseas may register at any U.S. embassy or consular office. A young man may also register by filling out a Reminder Mail- back Card. Selective Sera, ice sends this card to many young men around the time they turn 18. Mailback cards are also available at some post offices. Once they turn 18, young men are required, by law, to register with the Selective Service Sys- tem, Male immigrants residing in the U.S. must register as well. Another way a young man can register is to check a box on the application form for Free Applica- tion for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA form). In addition, most of the high schools in the nation have a staff member or teacher appointed as a Selective Service Registrar. These individuals help register young men. The Benefits Of Registration Men who have registered re- main eligible for federal student aid, most t~deral jobs and federal job training. Male noncitizens liv- ing in the U.S. who are 18 through 25 must register to remain eligible for citizenship. Many states and territories require reg :stratio for a d ver's license. Penalties For Not Complying Those who don't comply face fines of up to $250,000, a prison sentence of up to five years or both. Plus, they are ineligible for student financial aid and job training programs. To learn more about registra- tion, visit www.sss, gov Jl !