The Fire, The Yankees And A New Magic Pen

Friday started off on a terrifying note. At the 8 a.m. news conference, local officials warned that the wildfire had spread on the “eastern flank” into Montecito, the community where I live, and that my house was now in a borderline evacuation area. They also announced that the situation had worsened overnight, due to the gale force winds.

I went online and looked at photos from the Santa Barbara Independent and News Press, and had to remind myself that this was real life, not a disaster movie.

I mean, seriously. How about this ash storm?


And these structures burning?
And these incredible firefighters who kept working in spite of the heat, the danger and the exhaustion?
“What should we do?” I asked my neighbor after hearing the fire chief make dire predictions for later in the day.
“Start packing,” she said.
I couldn’t. Not right away. Instead, I remained in denial and blogged. And read other blogs. And did my weekly phone-in segment on “The Natural,” Greg Marotta’s radio show on WVNJ in New Jersey. Before I knew it, it was 4 o’clock and time for Yankees-Orioles.
“I can’t pack yet,” I told my husband Michael. “This is A-Rod’s first game. I’m not missing any of it.”
It’s a good thing I didn’t miss the beginning or I would have missed this.'s.jpg

First pitch from Guthrie. Three-run dinger. Welcome back, Al. 
Were things looking up for the Yankees? Or would CC pitch a gem, only to have the bullpen blow it?
He pitched a gem all right – a complete game 4-0 domination of the Orioles. He had everything working, including his new catcher. Who knew Cervelli could call a game, block pitches and get a hit?
Credit goes to CC and A-Rod for their performances tonight. But there was another huge factor that should be acknowledged: my new Magic Pen. Actually, it’s Michael’s pen.
new magic pen.JPG
While I was running around throwing stuff into suitcases and shopping bags, he was keeping score with a black Bic – and the Yankees won. So now the Bic must keep the streak alive. Long live the Bic!
After the game, we watched the evening press conference with fire officials, who reiterated how serious the situation in Montecito would be if the winds kicked up again.
“Be prepared to get in your car and leave,” said the Chief.
Michael and I finished packing, putting our important documents and other essentials (my signed Mickey Mantle baseball, for example) into our Ready Freddies, the knapsacks we bought when we moved to California. Everyone said we needed them in case of earthquakes. Nobody ever mentioned wildfires.
With our preparations in place, all we could do was wait. And wait.
But there was no wind. None at all. No banging. No trees falling. No power outage.
I went outside to look.
It was scary but sort of beautiful too.
As of now, we’re still here. And while we’re not totally out of the woods, I feel hopeful for the first time in days.


  1. luckylori

    What a perfect, “Jane…I’m home!!” from A-Rod for you! BTW, my husband’s name is Michael too. What else do we have in common? I would also attribute the win to a pen and NOT my husband’s score keeping!
    Hope the tides have turned up there. Keeping my fingers crossed that the winds don’t pick up. Enough is enough. Stay safe!

  2. scofid

    I am headed to Baltimore tonight so hopefully my presence won’t counter the magical effects of the pen! Stay safe! Everyone is thinking of you and your neighbors, and we all hope everyone stays safe!


  3. Elizabeth D

    You and your community will be in my prayers. I hope that you don’t have to evacuate. CC Sabathia had a nice outing, admittedly, and just… no comment about A-Rod. And although that final picture looks scary, it is beautiful at the same time too. Mother Nature…

  4. jewsonfirst and

    Hope your safe from the wildfires.

    I am disgusted by Jeremy Guthrie for allowing a homer to A*Roid on the first pitch! He would be lloking to just smash the bal so he should of thrown him off-speed stuff! Jordan and I were both reacting similar to “NO WAY!”


    Been thinking about you and hour plight out there, and keeping your in my prayers. Sometimes I wonder if the Yankees, and other sports teams, understand how much they mean to people. In times of stress and trouble, sometimes they are just about the only thing that helps get you through the day. And when they’re losing……. Glad A-Rod and CC helped raise your spirits, a bit. Maybe A-Rod’s homer took the wind out of Yankee haters’ sails and affected the western winds too. Hope today goes well for you, and that no evacuation is necessary.


    Been thinking about you and your plight out there, and keeping you in my prayers. Sometimes I wonder if the Yankees, and other sports teams, understand how much they mean to people. In times of stress and trouble, they are just about the only thing that helps get one through the day. And when they’re losing……. Glad A-Rod and CC helped raise your spirits, a bit. Maybe A-Rod’s homer took the wind out of Yankee haters’ sails and affected the western winds too. Hope today goes well for you, and that no evacuation is necessary.

  7. yankeemeg

    Still praying for your safety Jane. Glad to hear that you didn’t have to leave and hopefully the winds will die.

    What a beautiful game last night!!! I’m happy you got to catch it! I’ll be at the game tonight in Baltimore….I’m feeling the sparks 🙂 Hopefully Hughes will too! Best of luck today with the fires. Hope all stays well.

  8. letsgoyankees

    I’m glad the situation is looking better for you, Jane.
    How about that Cervelli, calls a complete game shutout, throws a guy out, and steals a base? Who knew?

  9. raysrenegade

    Who would have thought the guy who might have helped spark the Rays revolution in 2008 could also be a major league catcher.
    People down here point to that play by Elliott Johnson in Spring Training to the first positive point of the Rays season in the spring of 2008.
    I am still sorry he had to sustain an injury, but before last night he was a bit player in a Rays trivia question.
    Now he shows he can catch and call a game with the big boys.
    Great for him, hopes he makes a fun time of it and he gets an extended look.

    Rays Renegade

  10. Jane Heller

    It’s amazing what a win will do for your spirits, Jen. Thanks for your continued concern.

    Funny coincidence about our husbands, Lori. And of course the pen was responsible for the win! I entrusted it to Michael last night so I hope he knows where it is. 🙂 We woke up to a thick marine layer – yay! – but they said it will burn off and we could be in for another red flag warning night. Sheesh. Not out of the woods yet.

    Sorry about the Dodgers losing, Cat. I guess you’d better hurry back to LA and turn things around! Still hanging in here. I’m waiting for the 9 a.m. update from fire officials.

    This Yankee fan is feeling better this morning, Julia. That first-pitch homer lifted my spirits for sure.

    Scott, have a great time at Camden Yards. The Magic Pen #2 and I will be watching (barring a power outage). Go to Boog’s Barbecue before the game and have a pit turkey platter. Dee-lish.

    Mother Nature must be angry at us Santa Barbarans, Elizabeth. Three major fires in a year? Enough is enough.

    Guthrie settled down very well after that homer, Ken. All in all, I thought he had a good outing.

    Corinne, you’re so right about how sports teams provide a source of pleasure and escape for us in times of stress. Even if the Yankees had lost last night, I would rather watch them than not – especially given what’s going on around me right now.

    Thanks, Megan, and have a great time at the game. (Maybe you’ll see Scott?) I hope you bring the Yankees luck. Carry a sign and I’ll look for you on TV!

    Cervelli was a nice surprise, Letsgoyankees. I guess he’ll share playing time with Cash. Honestly, I’d rather have a better catching option though.

    That was a hilarious “Go Yankees,” Kylie. I could feel your ambivalence! I do appreciate the sentiment and it’s good to see you on the blog.

    I remember that spring training incident well, Renegade, and how it sent the message that the Rays were playing to win. Now we’ll get to see if Cervelli can step in and fill some very big shoes.

    Thanks, Jenn. Fingers and toes crossed, plus a Magic Pen, and that’s all we need!

  11. rockymountainway

    Good ol’ Cali. If it’s not fires, it’s mudslides or earthquakes or something else mother nature can crank out. Be safe and hoping the winds die down to put the fire down and out. Keep the bic handy and see what luck it can keep bringing! Stay safe. Jane aka Joan Wilder : )

  12. Jane Heller

    California has its charms, but it also has its insanity, Tom. Coming from FL, where I dodged hurricanes for seven years, I thought this would be easy. Ha ha. Joan Wilder isn’t getting much writing done! Thanks for checking in.

  13. Jane Heller

    Thanks, Jeff. Good news today. The marine layer rolled in and there’s no wind so far. Miraculous!

  14. heartruss

    Scott, I love Camden Yards. Beautiful ball park.
    Jane, I have great faith that the fire will be over. The Dodgers won without Manny and did extremely well, shutting out the Giants. Our pitcher Eric Stults had a magnificent game. For those of you who thought the Dodgers cannot win without Manny, the game was won for you.

  15. Jane Heller

    You must feel pretty good about the Dodgers, Cat. Here’s hoping they keep it up. The fire was helped by the weather today. It’s still burning, but there was progress. Just waiting to see if the winds come back tonight.

  16. Jane Heller

    A-Rod did come back with a bang, Russ. But he needs to take it slowly. I can tell he’s not running well yet. And thanks for your good thoughts. We’re doing fine now that the fire has been 55% contained.

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