EDITORíS DESK: Hard to make jokes this time

       Usually, no matter what the subject matter for the Westside, no matter how serious it might seem on the surface, there always seems to be some way of yukking it up, finding a joke hidden in there somewhere. Well, someone's going to have to help me out on this one, because I have never encountered anything so staggering to an entire community as this Waldo Canyon Fire. Of course, at the top of the list is the Mountain Shadows and Flying W Ranch disaster June 26. Second-guessers may argue for years if that was mishandled. Right now, it doesn't matter. Hundreds who lived there have lost their homes. Meanwhile, all around us, others are evacuating or preparing to do so; plus several major attractions have been closed, parks cut off, roads blocked and all kinds of fun stuff cancelled or shut down (big example: the Pikes Peak Hill Climb). And that smoke just won't go away.
       The fire has even stolen the excitement that was building for the No Man's Land (aka "Avenue") study, with the initial meeting postponed. And let's not forget basic commerce. In the present conditions, with a fire raging in the hills, local small businesses - which need summer trade like plants need water - are struggling... except maybe those renting emergency lodging or storage units. That's bad news for the city too. Our burg was starting to make a comeback this year, with sales taxes holding their own compared with predictions. But it's a good bet that chart is going to take a downward spike, at least for a while.
       So what to make of all this? First let me note that our little corner on the world has not yet gotten that jarring evacuation call. All I've got to go by (for now) is vicarious. So then, what am I complaining about? We've still got our family, our home, our newspaper, the people we care about. I supppose a shrink would say that's the upside, that a crisis like this enhances appreciation of the things we have. I'm not sure. I still feel diminished by what we as a community have lost.

- K.J.