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Living and languishing by the air quality index

Lately I see spots before my eyes — colored spots from canvasing air-quality websites.

I have the spectrum down — green, yellow, orange, red, purple and purpler. Huh? Since I spend most of the day on a computer, it’s too easy to flip over and check hourly updates. One thing I’ve discovered is that wind and smoke play games like dodge ball and hide and seek, first ganging up on Shady Cove then scuttling across town to purple things up in Ashland. It has encouraged me to be more spontaneous and drive faster.

I don’t need no stinking index. I’ve got one of my own. When I wake up and smell smoke, I know it’s smoky. If my eyes burn but my head doesn’t ache, it’s likely in the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range. If I can’t see my neighbor smoking on his porch, I remain indoors.

Plus there’s the shade and hue test for a back-up. That’s when I get out my Benjamin Moore paint chips and measure them against the depth of orange reflecting on my curtains and floor. Oxford Gold means I can probably do a short no-mask walk. If Orange Burst is a match, one combined trip for paper and mail is allowed. When Flame lines up, it’s time to reach for the cat carrier.

I’m sick of the word “particulates” too, but dwelling on the bleak air picture narrows my focus. Good things are happening. The coast is clear. Netflix is still in operation, and my popcorn bowl is full. My Visa balance has thinned down for lack of indulgences. A two-hour drive north or west and we escape to blue skies, enjoy a few deep breaths and reset the scope as in “this too will pass.”

Entertainment venues valiantly plan events for us in the teeth of cancellations. I’ve committed to a couple of charity events, smoke be hanged. On Monday, Sept. 10, from 5 to 8 p.m., Dancin’ Vineyards hosts the 5th annual silent auction for C.A.T.S., Committed Alliance to Strays. I’ve attended the past two years and have had a great time. No cost to attend, but RSVP to 541-779-2916. If smoke shows up, I’ll paint whiskers on my mask and wear crazy cat leggings to be seen through the dearth.

Oregon Wine Experience oenophiles gather at Bigham Knoll in J’ville Aug. 20-26 to raise money for Asante Children’s Miracle Network and sample award-winning wines and tasty bites. Events vary in price, with all proceeds going to the charity, so visit www.theoregonwineexperience.com. This is THE wine event of the year.

Saturday, Aug. 25, Ben and Carrie Beekman cordially extend an invitation to step outside the smoky present and into the year 1932 to tour their home at 470 E. California St. Jacksonville. Reception times are 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Cost is $10 and goes toward Jacksonville historical preservation and education.

I’m chagrined to admit I’ve penned about 300 articles for Southern Oregon Journal and not one includes Hanley Farm. To rectify the oversight, I hope to find myself kicking up slacker heels for the Hanley Farm Roots Music Festival benefiting the Southern Oregon Historical Society. The Bluegrass Promenade features Rainy & the Rattlesnakes, Waking Hazel, and Siskiyou Summit all picking and grinning for a good cause. The doins’ are set for Saturday, Sept. 8, 3-8:30 p.m., with an old-fashioned hoe-down from 7-8:30. Visit www.sohs.org for particulars. I might break out my red Durangos for this one, unless I’m in the running for Cranberry Princess at the festival in Bandon that weekend.

So, fire and smoke aren’t the only acts in town. And even if it sticks around for a while, the intensity varies and lessens with time. Then rain will come. Meanwhile, I’m ever so thankful for firefighters, and I say a little prayer for them.

Reach freelance writer Peggy Dover at pcdover@hotmail.com and on her Facebook page.