Worry, Worry Everywhere by Lori L. Lake

My first Women and Words post comes to you while I’m hunkered down in my house, attempting to keep out record-high levels of hazardous smoke generated from wildfires all over the West Coast. I’ve been unable to go outside for four days because the smoke is so thick, I can’t breathe. Even an N-95 type of mask won’t cut it. The Portland area is very nearly surrounded by fire, and we’re getting smoke from California and Washington, too, so the amount of smog that generates is quite simply unbelievable.

You would think that would cause a writer to use the time to write, but instead, I worry.

I worry because a million acres of Oregon have burned and two whole towns, so far, are destroyed. I worry because ten percent of our state is in evacuation zones, and 40,000 have already been displaced. I worry because at the same time that we have a virus pandemic sweeping our country, people all across the nation are homeless, under-employed, experiencing food insecurity, and grieving the loss of a couple hundred thousand Americans to the coronavirus.

Closer to home, I worry about my family. My father and all six of my sisters and brothers and their kids are suffering from this hazardous air. My neighbors, young and old, are coughing and wheezing and headachy just as I am. I also have friends in a world of trouble. Catherine Wilson, author of the fantastic When Women Were Warriors series, has lost her entire house, burnt to a crisp in the California wildfires.

Fire burning dry grass causes immense smoke

In my six decades of life, I have never lived through such a difficult time: a pandemic, wildfires, widespread pollution, police brutality toward Black men, people of color, and protesters in general, tornadoes in the south, hurricanes on the East Coast, economic recession, political acrimony, the muzzling of the press, and more. We are in a Crisis of Crises with no effective national leadership. On the West Coast, we are lucky to have three talented governors, but state governments can only do so much.

So I worry. Nationally and globally, I feel helpless. Locally, however, I feel more hopeful. I see food contributions and distribution has stepped up. Neighbors are helping one another. The Internet allows us to video-conference with people we’re not able to see in person. Catherine Wilson’s Gofundme page received the funds she needed to help her move to a safe place. People are grieving together.

While I am worrying, I’m also incredibly grateful for the fantastic books written by so many caring lesbian authors. The days go by much more pleasantly with something good to read.

I very much wish that I could have made my inaugural post a happy and cheery missive filled with humor and free gifts, but I can’t do it today. Maybe next time.


  1. Thank you so much for putting this into words. The fear and anxiety is so real. I don’t know if this is appropriate, but if y’all share the link to Catherine’s GoFundMe, I’d love to donate. Send you a lot of love, Lori.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Even though everyone is worried, Beth, so many people stepped up to help Catherine that her Gofundme page met its goal and closed out. Pretty amazing! So one thing I’m not worrying about is the love and generosity writers and readers have for one another. Sending love right back atcha!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Lori,
    Words cannot begin to convey the well wishes and otherwise positive vibes I’m sending your way from my little neck of the woods, here on the East Coast, near Baltimore. You are so right that we are very fortunate to have so many talented and creative women writers who transport us with their fantastic stories.
    You and yours are in my thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I am so thankful to have Lori as my neighbor and one of my besties. We are all suffering from this heavy smoke but we are able to be safe within our homes and know we are within reach of each other. She shares her books so I don’t go screaming down the street. And of course, she is my favorite writer ❤. Claudia Kuzmanich

    Liked by 3 people

    • So glad to have you next door making sure that I don’t go stark raving mad, Claudia. (And I won’t tell anyone that Nevada Barr is your favorite writer, too. LOL).


  4. How exciting to find you here! I look forward to your woman words over the years. Thanks to Jove and Andi for making that possible. Three hours from you, the AQI is 461, COVID is untamed, and BLM protesters in our county have been demonstrating weekly all these months. Conditions are disheartening and words of cheer too hard to cough up. Yet you connect, we all connect, and that is cheer enough, today, for me.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Lee, our AQI has dropped waaaay down to 409! That means that instead of the outdoors being yellow-gray smog, it’s yellow-silver smog. Still hazardous. Who knew that your Oregon Coast air could be so wretchedly awful? That’s one place that I always used to enjoy going to (especially when it involved meeting up with you and Elaine) because the air is usually crisp and clean. Now I’ve been disabused of that notion! I hope the hazardous smog passes quickly–I know how much you need and appreciate your daily walk around town. Stay safe!


  5. I saw a post where God said to St. Michael, “You think that was bad? Here. Hold my beer.” It made me laugh, because with each ridiculous, terrifying event that’s introduced into 2020, it’s all I can do. Keep safe, my friend. Someday we’ll be able to venture forth from our Oregonian homes without having to fear we will breathe in hazardous air. (Although I’ll admit I’m still leery of getting too close to anyone until the pandemic is under control.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Since you live so close, Jazzy, you know exactly how bad this air is. I hope your old house is keeping out the particulates and that God doesn’t hand you a beer any time soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Life is definitely different for we small town girls from 45 years ago when we were concerned about who was going to win the basketball game and laughing our asses off while painting.
    I am waiting for the nightmare to be over but I truly believe the outpouring of kindness, support and awareness is what will win out. Hang in there. The smoke at the coast is clearing so you should be seeing the change soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m in the Bay Area. We’ve had 30 days of bad, unhealthy air, plus the orange sky that the whole world knows about. But today, the air quality is in the yellow zone (moderate pollution on the AQI) for the first time in weeks. I’m taking that as a hopeful sign. This is a terrible time, economically, socially, politically, weather-wise, health-wise, and California has just entered our fire season, but the air may clear for a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen, we just FINALLY got some rain today. We’ve had bad air for going on two weeks, but you have had it even worse. I hope it keeps improving in the Bay Area!


  8. My mother lives on Vancouver Island so she’s also housebound because of the smoke. She’s 90 but she’s missing her daily walks that help her to keep fit. Hope everyone over on that side of North America can start breathing easier soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jen! I hope your mum is experiencing some much-needed rain. We’ve had some intermittent drizzle for which I am grateful. The AQI has dropped, though it’s still in an unhealthy range for sensitive groups. Perhaps Vancouver Island will get similar weather to ours so walking will no longer be hazardous! I hope so anyway.


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