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  • Tamara Dinius

Backgammon, burgers, and blessings




My life has been a mess this past week. I lost all context of time and day and was running on autopilot for most of the week. I was unorganized, sleep deprived, and super emotional. My emotions kept bubbling to the surface and I found myself choking back tears. I gave up watching the news as each new image on the screen seemed surreal. The beautiful Pacific Northwest was burning and the impact was devastating. Towns were being wiped off the map and people were being evacuated under harrowing circumstances.


The smoke from the raging fires turned our skies yellow. The sun was barely visible beneath the blanket of ash and dust. My heart was heavy when I laid my head on the pillow each night. My corner of the world was under siege and there was nothing I could do.


My cell phone rang at 6:30AM and I struggled to move the blankets and reach for it. In doing so, I knocked it off the nightstand and struggled to grab it in the dark. Just as I swiped to answer the ring, it stopped. As I was looking to see who the caller was the house phone started ringing. I leapt out of bed in a panic. As I picked up the phone I heard my daughters voice. The first thing she said is ‘I’m okay”. I could hear myself start to breathe again.


My daughter (Jessy) and her husband (Vinnie) live in Stayton, Oregon and had just been notified they were under level 2 evacuation orders. They were scrambling to gather their belongings and move their food trailer, cars, and other items. “What can we do?”, I asked. “Can we store our items at the house? Is it okay if we stay with you until the smoke clears?, she said. “Yes”, and ”of course”, I said. It will always and forever be ‘yes’, and ‘of course’, whenever my daughters need me.


They made numerous trips back and forth from their house to ours. The air quality was the worst in the world at that time and hazardous to be in. The first trip they forgot to grab wedding rings and other valuables. They were tired, frazzled, and anxious.


As I write, they are safely back home and grateful for the firefighters and support staff that assisted with the fires. They have used their food trailer ‘The Runaway Kitchen’ to serve hundreds of burgers to those who have lost their homes and the local search and rescue. They started fundraising efforts to give back to the community. They turned their experience into a blessing by helping others. I am so proud of them both.


I am happy to say that I have found balance in my life again and have been spending time in my studio. I watch the news, but only sparingly, and that helps. My oldest daughter (Cassy) has been my emotional support. We have spent time in deep discussions about world issues, played dozens of games of backgammon, drank some wonderful wines, and reflected on life.


Yes, life is messy. But messy has its own beauty.


I hope you are safe and finding happiness in the mess of your own life.




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Address: 814 SE 357th Ave Washougal, WA 98671

Phone: 360-904-9574

Email: tjdinius@gmail.com

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