Last night while going over details for Saturday’s backyard wedding with a cold front worrying my clients, my niece, Leigh Ann called regarding a possible evacuation at Point Mugu due to wildfires. She had just finished dressing her daughter for trick or treating and wanted to ask “is evacuation really necessary?” Yes, it is. For the many folks who try to stay during an evacuation, it should be noted that there’s a reason for an evacuation and the reason is your safety.
While Leigh Ann and Maddy were excitedly looking guessed to a night of fun, wildfires were getting so close to Mugu and Port Hueneme that military personnel were considering a mass evacuation. People never plan for natural or unexpected disasters.
Cindy and I had sent several princess dresses to California for little Maddy to choose her favorite. Less than an hour into their trick or treating adventures, Leigh Ann’s husband, Alex received a text regarding a “possible evacuation due to wildfires within ten miles of the base.”
Trick or treating for the first time with both of her parents in three years, Maddy’s night was cut short due to the smoke and possibility of an evacuation from the base housing. My twin sister and I are originally from California and have gone back and forth to our home state for over thirty years. We call Texas and California home. But, we are well aware of the fire dangers in California just as we are the tornado threats in Texas. My son told me a few months ago “those warnings are just warnings mom. We don’t have tornados in Fort Worth do we?” I explained that when he was very young we in fact did have a very destructive tornado that he was too young to remember. I will never forget it.
Natural disasters are memorable. Even as an adult, I was unaware of the effects an earthquake has pertaining to the ocean. I would learn though. Staying at the Las Brisas in Acapulco, an undertow was created by the earthquake I had slept through the night before that nearly drown me.
I’ve been swimming in the ocean my entire life but after going down 5 times, I didn’t have the strength to get back up. A Navy Seal saw me struggling and literally saved my life. Frankly, I was so exhausted from trying to pull myself up that I had accepted I would drown. True story. My husband would have drown trying to save me so I lied and told him “I’m okay.” He couldn’t swim out to save me and had he tried, both of us would surely have drown on our honeymoon no less. The Navy officer saw my husband screaming for me to try and get back to the rocks and stepped in. What a honeymoon that was ya all.
My husband didn’t even want to go outside the United States. Talking him into it, I explained that Cindy and I have been going to the Las Brisas for years. My husband hates to travel. Cindy and I regularly travel together while our husbands stay behind. Now and then based on Cindy’s twin granddaughters school schedules, we take them with us on our travels.
While in Hawaii with my son who thought a thirteen foot swell was perfect for boogie boarding, begged me to stop and let him out. Did I know those huge waves were dangerous? No. I’d seen surfers on high waves most of my life and because we were close to shore, expected the ocean to spit my son and I back to the shore. A patrol officer stopped us both and gave me a stern talking to regarding ocean safety and red flags warning posted to keep people out of the water. I didn’t see the red flag signaling the dangerous sea swells. I now look for red flags and warning signs.
My teenage son saw opportunity for fun and as a parent, I should have seen the opportunity for danger but didn’t. I learned.
Leigh Ann isn’t terrified of earthquakes. She can’t recall the earthquake that damaged my home in Temecula. She was too young. We were vacationing in San Francisco and the destruction from after shocks caused massive damage. Cindy and I wound up being stranded in the Bay Area with both of her young daughters for three days. We were all too aware of earthquakes but had never seen the type of destruction that San Francisco did that year. For us at the time, we assumed that an an earthquake only meant books falling or rattling around. We were so accustomed to quakes from a lifetime of them that we never saw real danger from an earthquake but, similar to assuming the ocean would throw my son and I back to shore, an earthquake can be deadly. Earthquakes cause undertows.
As a toddler at my home in San Clemente, Leigh Ann laughed when quakes knocked books on the floor and dishes rattled. I warily waited the stronger quakes out while picking up broken glass from fallen pictures. Leigh Ann remembers none of this. She laughed when I asked about her earthquake preparedness kit. I was being serious. She has a toddler depending on her to plan ahead. Cindy and I worry all of the time. Young Maddy had 2 MiMi’s at her beck and call in Texas and twin cousins to pitch in.
Maddy now has her mom and dad at home together. New parents that FaceTime Wendy and Cindy day and night for advice. “Maddy has a red spot should we go to the hospital?” Or last weeks “Maddy fell on the stairs. Does this bump look normal?” Calming my niece down from Texas isn’t easy. She left Cindy’s house with constant activity and now is alone during the day with Maddy and waiting for Alex to come home. I worry about it but clients will occupy her off time. We will be there in December too. I had planned to go in October but my schedule was simply too heavy.
Leigh Ann needs to prepare an earthquake. After a lengthy conversation about what to pack and have ready to go with Leigh Ann she now understands that being prepared to evacuate takes planning. Wildfires in California are a real threat that should be treated with planning and preparation. Going over a list with her, I brought up her medication first. Leigh Ann didn’t consider that replacing her heart medicine after fleeing the base (if warranted) would be critical to her health. Maddy uses a nebulizer for her breathing that is also a must have. No one plans to run in the middle of the night but if you need to, medication can take days to replace and often require a doctor visit.
I have many friends that volunteer at fire departments, work as police officers and as EMT’s as well as military connections and can assure you that if you are being warned about an evacuation, it is a probability.
Leigh Ann is learning. Alex is learning to be a new dad. Meanwhile… Wendy and Cindy are pushing swimming lessons and fielding FaceTime calls in Texas. The ocean can be a dangerous place. It only takes a moment for a toddler to go under. Wendy and Cindy worry from Texas. We have also signed Maddy up for swim class and her parents up for CPR classes. Helicopter parenting? Perhaps but better safe than sorry. My son and his wife are expecting in March. Unbeknownst to me, they’ve been trying to conceive for years now. First time parents need a support system. My son and his wife frequently travel for work. Cindy and I are really looking forward to March. We love babies!
I’ve learned to be prepared. Nothing prepares you for a roof collapsing. You remember the things you survived. You can’t forget that by the grace of God that you or your dog or your grandnieces weren’t in your office when the roof caved in due to torrential rain last year. You are thankful for just moments earlier walking out of the room before the sound of the attic falling into the house alerts you to danger. No one expects their roof to cave in. It took months to repair the damage to WorthamWorld last year. But no one was hurt thank God.
Cindy, Leigh Ann and I are Approved Prison wedding Officiants. Finding a dry area for photo shoots with our clients isn’t easy. In fact, I’ve been known to borrow hotel lobbies on rainy days to ensure my clients have bridal photos. I want to give a special shout out to my bride, Trishelle, married two years ago at Michael Unit who sent me a text that her husband is being released Monday. God Bless them both and their journey far beyond Lock Up. We were blessed with great weather for her photo shoot in Tennessee Colony. Explaining to our traditional clients that are planning backyard events I can’t control the weather is a difficult conversation. From rain to even sleet or ice, there have been hiccups of unplanned weather.
A few years ago, an unexpected ice storm gave my bride winter wonderland photos. My bride gave a ride after Greyhound closed the terminal. I don’t drive on ice and had taken the bus to Wichita Falls to take a cab to to TDCJ Allred Unit. The Terminal closing posed a problem getting back to Fort Worth BUT my amazing bride, her mother and mother in law not only gave me a lift home but also a fun filled day of photo shoots, lunch and fun!
Weather is hit and miss. We have been lucky over and over again wth outdoor events and we have been unlucky.
Santa Ana winds took down the tents in Lompoc. Dust flying everywhere with dropping temperatures at the rehearsal made everyone uncomfortable. The following day at the wedding though, the sun broke through, the wind died down and the party went on. At a Pawning Planners Event, the weather had been perfect all week. Less than 24 hours from the event though, our “perfect park location” in Granbury was out of the question. Ducks were swimming in the park. On short notice, I borrowed a building from Rudy Smedley. The building? A karate studio. Not ideal but it worked. In three hours, my staff and I transformed a karate studio into a wedding venue.
Rudy’s band was volunteering and we had a film crew documenting the event for a television pilot, Pawning Planners. The band couldn’t risk getting their equipment wet and the film crew couldn’t risk getting their equipment wet either. The karate studio solved all of the problems by offering shelter to the wedding party, guests, film crew and the band. Dream Events are life events. The location and the weather are subject to change. Leigh Ann is scheduled for a wedding in Malibu this weekend. Her camera bag is already packed into an “evacuation ready suv.”
Backyard events “sound less expensive” but this isn’t always the case. Why? Chair and table rentals, linens, tents and other factors “up the cost.” Moving items around and out of camera angles isn’t always easy but we try to clear areas. Sloped yards and fences also affect where we can place tables, chairs and even arbors or tents.
What Cindy and I are looking at with backyard events on top of the weather are access and space. We are also concerned about weather to such an extent that Cindy’s twin granddaughters call us “weatherbugs.” We are “plugged in” to weather alerts for solid reasons. We want your event as special as you are and within budget but the weather continues to be something even we can’t control. Hopefully, tomorrow’s wedding warms up for our wonderful couple. Their backyard event includes an suv full of loaned centerpieces, bouquets, bouteniers, garland for the back fence, a decorated ladder to block entrances for the clients home and limit access as well as drinks, finger foods and more. It will be a 3 suv caravan to move Texas Twins Treasures Inventory from one location to the event location.
I’m always asked about our loaned inventory. Creating a massive array of items to loan to our clients was and is a hefty investment. Cindy and I add new items year round. Why? Because making our clients event affordable to them required “thinking outside the box.”