Oak Forest Saved

Thousand Oaks is named for the pinnacle species of the sage. The crown of the Coastal Oak are waxy bowls with points. Fallen leaves turn downwards in layers that trap rainwater. The trees, which are drought tolerant and fire resistant, stabilize the landscape. Recognizing this, city law protects all specimens.

Westlake Village takes its name from the artificial lake that drains through the property on which Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood was staged. The property was converted to a park with mobile homes nestled among the oaks. The ambitions of the developer led them to place roads and foundations too close to the oaks, reducing the size of the leaf litter fields and so starving the roots of moisture.

My parents moved into the park thirty years ago, and my father spent twenty years educating the residents on the importance of the oaks for fire safety. When the oak rooted in the middle of the street outside their unit fell, four acorns sprouted in their yard. Fifteen years later, the crowns shield the roof.

At 10 AM Friday morning, the Santa Ana wins shifted from seaward to blow down the 101 freeway. Half an hour later, my son Kevin sent me a link to live helicopter footage. Fire crews were deployed on the ridge above the park, flames licking at the expensive decks. The valley below was hidden by smoke blown from the blaze that had closed the 101 at Reyes Adobe.

The consensus among family members was that my brother and mother had lost everything to the flames.

The pictures below were taken this morning. The winds had subsided overnight, and as I drove into the park the fire team that had secured the hillsides was gathered to leave. As I inspected the park, it was clear that at least one heroic fire team had been working under the smoke the prior day.

Though homes were lost, the battle was won at the downstream end of the park. The last unit caught up in flames had holes punched through windows and sides. A cul-de-sac separated it from its neighbor, and the descending shield of an oak crown whose leaves had been singed but resisted burning.

On the other side of the road, the defense had been mounted at a gully that drained into the stream. The power of the fire was evident in the ruins, but also the resilience of the neighboring oaks that had burned only on one side.

With the progress of the fire blunted, apparently it followed its updraft along the hillsides on either side. A photo from the street running up to the ridge shows the effectiveness of the oaks in protecting the combustible mobile homes from embers.OakForestSurvives

Finally, the joy of anticipation that another holiday season will be spent in my mother’s home.RobinHood51

And gratitude to the oaks for protecting the homes of those that protected and nurtured them.

Salt Burns

Isn’t that how it feels when you have a wound?

I made it to class at HMI last night. It was a near thing: due to the Hill Fire, the 101 was closed at the usual on ramp, and it took me ninety minutes to wend my way five miles through the evacuation from Camarillo Springs to get to Pacific Coast Highway. Traffic up Las Virgenes was throttled until we made it past the hairpins, but flowed freely up to the 101. I thought with the freeway closed traffic would be light through the San Fernando Valley, but the smoke from the Woolsey Fire was driving people out of the Conejo Valley. It was a slow crawl up to Tarzana.

Class began with a review of our “consciousness exercise.” The first three students avoided the point – which was for one day to record our unspoken judgments – instead rambling on about how they learned not to be judgmental. Feeling judgmental, I offered my example: coming in to work yesterday morning to learn of the Borderline Restaurant massacre. Talking with a colleague about the impact on the community where my sons grew up. One of our neo-con, gun-toting conservative colleagues came up behind me and I instinctually turned my shoulder to him. When he walked away, I thought “Well, good, I didn’t need to hear whatever he had to say anyways.”

As we gathered at the elevator at the end of the evening, one of my friends stopped to ask how I was doing. “I’m fine. I just need to stay focused on the situation I described. My weekend is going to be spent trying to find opportunities to project healing energy into the community.” He looked at me, shook his head, and offered, “Well, if anyone can do that, I guess that it would be you.”

I dragged myself to the car and headed back up the 101 to Westlake Village. Traffic warning signs announced that the freeway was still closed at the 23. The smoke was heavy as I exited at Lindero Canyon Boulevard, but let up suddenly when I pulled into the Oak Forest mobile home park. My mother was on the phone with my sister-in-law up in Templeton. We spent a few minutes chatting about the fire and the memorials for the Borderline victims held that evening, and went to bed.

The phone rang at 1:30 AM. I assumed it was another family member calling to check on us. Then my mother, looking pale, shook me to alertness. “Mandatory evacuation.” It was a conservative measure, I understood, but given the impossibility of defending the heavily wooded trailer park, I didn’t resist her urge to prepare an overnight bag. The flames were impressive from the freeway, but hadn’t yet penetrated the housing tracts or jumped to the ocean side. By 2:30 I was helping to set up cots in the Red Cross evacuation center at Pierce College, just two miles from HMI.

Mom wouldn’t lie down on the cot she had claimed, saying that they “were uncomfortable.” I started musing about our camping trips, asking what we had slept on when we were children? Just sleeping bags and heavy mats. She then laid down on the cot and allowed me to drape a blanket over her. My back was becoming tight, so I laid down on the floor and closed my eyes. Unable to sleep, I eventually headed out at 4:15.

Noticing additional closures on the 101 where the fire had jumped the freeway, I took De Soto Boulevard to the 118. The back side of the fire was burning slowly down the hillsides into Simi Valley. Exiting at Los Angeles, I drove the back roads, arriving in Port Hueneme at 5:30 AM.

I’m writing this from work. I tried to fall asleep when I got home after breakfast, but could only dose. We do donuts on Friday morning, and maybe the sugar crash will lay me out on the floor. But it doesn’t feel that way. I did a huge circle around the Conejo Valley where the Borderline Restaurant is the bull’s eye. I’m wondering whether it’s only ego that’s pulling me into the eye of that storm.

I’ll find out at Sunday morning mass.

Home At Last

Last Saturday on the way to HMI traffic was slowed around Topanga due to tree cutting crews. I assumed the same this morning as I drove on the 101 through unusually slow traffic past the blocked Moorpark Road off ramp.

I drove out to Las Vegas and flew out to Parkland. Both were disasters cultivated by ready availability of weapons to people susceptible to violent rhetoric.

What happened last night at the Borderline Restaurant bears the same imprint.

So I will be active over the next few weeks trying to heal the damage at colleges and communities traumatized by the end of so many precious young lives. The psychic scars I salve are the tissue from which the barrier to heaven is woven against those that cultivate a culture of fear.

Think of it that way, my fellow light-workers. We can forgive, but forgiveness does not entail acceptance. Not everyone can be saved.

Basta es basta.

Ready, Set…Hypnotherapy!

Some of you know that I’ve been less active here due to my investment in a career change. Since January, I’ve been studying hypnotherapy at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute. I attained the credential of Master Hypnotist in July, and began immediately to prepare to work full time to bringing to others the gifts I’ve received from the Father.

That preparation is largely complete. If you go out to my business site, you’ll find pictures of the environment that was created for me.

Sometime in December or January I’ll attain certification as a hypnotherapist and seek thereafter to spend every day working directly with others (rather than serving them through the intermediation of a computer screen). That will be a blessing to me!

And I’ll begin blogging again – though mostly out at Hypnosis RISING on the benefits of the skills I’m beginning to master.

Phase Change

I’ve spent my life ignoring the fear that predators generate, offering love as a win-win alternative. But – being in the mode of fear – predators are good at simulation of it, and have taken up the strategy of marshaling social hostility by pretending to fear.

Predators operate in the brain stem. Yesterday, I decided to push them out. I have turned all the psychological discipline that allows me to create beauty in the face of anger, and isolated them in the lower part of my personality.

I now confidently traverse the places they have tried to ward against me, and upon encountering them in person offer a cheery “Good morning!” My mind is clear of the thoughts that they cultivated to justify their enmity.

Woken early this morning, I turned my focus on them – primitive personalities trapped in the amber of my will – and extended its boundaries, out to the criminal enterprise that has occupied the White House and the Kremlin, cauterizing the fear.

We’ll see where this goes now.

Blessed Rebirth

When I was about ten, my mother took me aside at a party and led me to a young man sitting on our couch. When we were introduced, his eyes turned inward, and I asked, “Is anything wrong?”

“No, I’m fine.” And then with a wistful, one-sided smile:  “I was hearing the music of the spheres.”

All those years intervening – the angers, frustrations, desires and sorrows. What would they have generated had I been aware?

I stand amid a field of intention three billion years deep, and a solar system wide.

I cannot exert myself. I can only surrender to love.

It must be my nature. But – I was given the choice.

Sympathetic?

“You have to understand women, Brian,” she said. “They are a little afraid of what you’re asking them to do.”

“And I’m not?”

For hasn’t it been, as I look back down the tunnel of time, that whenever I am destroyed in painful and humiliating circumstances, it’s because a woman has lost faith in the process?