Mistress of the Mix: Up In Flames

I'm one of the lucky ones, and oh, how I know it.

In fact I think most of us - the lucky ones - are suffering from a little bit of survivor's guilt. We're the ones whose homes didn't burn down last week. The ones who weren't ordered to evacuate. The ones who didn't suffer from a loss of income as businesses shuttered when the fire drove out 40,000 people from the west side, emptying downtown Redding, which was already struggling to keep its head above water.

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Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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21 Responses

  1. Beverly Stafford says:

    I add you to the other excellent writers on ANC who have told tales so eloquently, Mistress. A song that comes to mind is “Smoky Joe’s Cafe.”

  2. john says:

    “Fire” by Arthur Brown

  3. Richard Christoph says:


    Your compelling account of Parvin Carter’s harrowing escape made the reality of last Thursday night all too real. We too live downtown and a full week later remain packed, just in case. Brother Bob who lives off Deadwood Road in Lewiston has been with us since Saturday night, after traveling the smoky and circuitous route via Highways 3 and 36. We remain intensely focused on the advance of the fire toward the west and his home even as we grieve for the losses that so many friends and fellow community members have already endured.

    “This fire’s gonna leave an indelible mark on all of us.” Yes it will.

  4. “They’re selling postcards of the hanging
    They’re painting the passports brown
    The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
    The circus is in town…”
    Dylan 1965

  5. darcie says:

    This is an excellent way to remember what to pack: “pack the P’s: Pets, Passports, Photos, Papers and Panties” I would add prescriptions to that list.

    • Mistress of the Mix Mistress of the Mix says:

      Oh yes Darcie, that’s good! I didn’t think of that only because I don’t have any…but I totally left my CPap machine at home, completely forgot it.

  6. Matthew Grigsby says:

    This is a remarkable account and gives me chills. You’re right, every single person we know in town has a story of what happened. Everything went down so fast, and I’m glad I listened to that little voice that said “Go. Now.” My house is safe, but lots of other people thought theirs were too and the fact that there wasn’t greater loss of life is nothing short of a miracle.

    I’m glad you’re safe.

  7. Judith Salter says:

    Parvin is my friend and a fabulous woman. She offers free dental days annually here in town and goes around to to cities to do the same. She has helped so many people. My heart hurts for her now

    • Mistress of the Mix Mistress of the Mix says:

      She is such an angel. I hope she and her husband are starting to heal from the trauma, and that you’ve had an opportunity to put your arms around her to offer comfort and love. I’m also thinking a lot about the people they passed while on their way out of the inferno. I didn’t include them in telling this story only because I was concerned that I would get it wrong, and since I didn’t speak to Parvin personally before trying to share her story, I tried to stick to exactly the facts as she told them originally. I know she was concerned about them and had no idea if they made it out. A week has passed, so perhaps she’s found that out by now.

  8. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I’ve been meaning to go to Red Rock and feed the online jukebox with my own fire medley. Here’s a few:

    “Fire” — Patterson Hood

    “Pray for Rain” — Mofro

    “Sky Blue Sky” — Wilco (“I survived…….it’s good enough for now.”)

  9. Vicki Robertson says:

    I’m so glad ya’ll are safe! Auditing the fire from the safety of our home in Texas, we were very concerned for you & the whole Redding community. The devastation is tragic – ya’ll are strong. Be encouraged & be strengthened!

  10. Claudia Hastings says:

    Loved your humor in the song choices. Music and humor are both good healers.

  11. AJ AJ says:

    I read Parvin’s story the day she posted it. . . then never could find it again and couldn’t remember what the name was . . . . it moved me to tears the first time I read it and you captured the gist of it to the point that I cried again. I cannot even imagine the terror of that experience.

    So much loss, so much destruction . . .. and still the monster rages on to the west. There are those that are just now living what we lived last week. Absolutely terrifying.

    • Mistress of the Mix Mistress of the Mix says:

      I really feel for my friends in French Gulch. That poor, terrorized community.

  12. AJ AJ says:

    Oh, I forgot . . .
    Fire on the Mountain – Grateful Dead
    Fire on the Mountain – Bill Monroe
    I See Fire – Ed Sheeran

  13. 0.0001 says:

    We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes In The Morning-Emmy Lou Harris
    Ashes By Now-Rodney Crowell
    Gomorrah-Jerry Garcia
    The Jones Fire was 19 years ago, I was under insured. Still have not gotten over it. Don’t know that I ever will.

  14. Doug Mudford says:

    You wrote of something we were so fortunate not to experience…the gridlock blocking paths of evacuation. We had friends caught in one of the worst…life-changing fear.

  15. Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    Extraordinary article Val. Thank you for retelling Parvin’s story. Here’s a light story. I’ve been the librarian for Temple Beth Israel for several years. I drove to town on Wednesday to a board meeting and resigned my volunteer job because I’m evacuated too far away and don’t know where I’ll be next month. I was resigning this job, and I suddenly groaned. The woman next to me said….”You just remembered something you lost..”. I said “Yes, I just remembered that there was a stack of library check-out cards sitting on my kitchen table.” We all started laughing and one board member said “I guess those folks get to keep their books out for a WHOLE lot longer!”

  16. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    It’s interesting, if you think of your evacuation route at all . . . and most of us don’t, you perceive it as the traffic might be under normal circumstances. What very few of us take into account is that everyone else in our neighborhood has the same perception. I can only imagine (and I’d rather not) the terror of being stuck in traffic with the blazing monster nipping at your heels.

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