Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Fire

Many of you already know that our house burned down January 29, 2008. It was caused by a neighbor burning trash during a no burn period. Our county has been dry and windy for months now, so no one is supposed to be burning anything. He burned his trash the day before and left the next day for work. The forty to sixty mph wind stirred it up and blew an ember into the field causing a massage grass fire. It almost burned many houses, but only burned ours. By the time the first little volunteer fire truck arrived, our house was in flames, and my brother was struggling to save his. The firefighter had to make a tough decision. Whether to try and save something of ours, or save my brother’s. She only had a small truck. Thankfully she made the right decision. With the high winds she probably couldn’t have saved any of ours. She did help my brother save his. Unfortunately we lost everything. Including parts of books we were writing. Short stories we hadn’t sold, books we hadn’t sold . . . The list goes on endlessly.

We have decided to rebuild on the land. We are staying with my elderly parents right now. The first thing we did was arrange to have a mobile home moved onto the property. We were able to accomplish this fairly quickly. We found the cheapest single wide we could find and begged them to get it out asap. Electricity has been a major problem. We had to finally change electricity companies because the one we had was going to take too long to hook up. First we were told we had to have the mobile home moved out to hook up to. That was India we were talking to. Well, after we said it’s out there come hook us up, they said no they couldn't do that. We had to hire an electrician to put up a pole and then they’d hook it up. We found that another company had poles on the other side of our property and we could talk to them in our town in English. We changed companies. We’re still not hooked up, but we hope to be by later this week.

My cousin, Ricky Wright, has been putting in our new sewer. The craziest thing. After the fire burned our house down, one of the fire trucks backed into our sewer tank and busted it to pieces so they could water down the ashes of our house. Bad luck all around. My cousin has been working like crazy all week to get the new system up and running. He’s also dug the lines for the electricity. Isn’t family wonderful?

Mine is. My brother has been helping us with both the electricity and our well. Other members of the family have sent money to help us get started. They’ve helped us with love and support. My aunt Nina came over with supplies and a warm meal. Meals are one of the things we've neglected. We've skipped many the past few weeks. It's just too much trouble to deal with and most of the time we haven't felt like eating.

Work has been slow for both of us. There’s little quiet time. We were able to save two dogs, our little inside dog and our big outside dog. Actually the big dog saved himself. My parents don’t have a fence, so now they’re both inside dogs. The little inside dog was recovering from surgery at the time of the fire, so we’d been carrying him around all the time. He’s gotten really crabby now, so we have to watch him all the time to make sure he doesn’t bite anyone. The big dog wants back outside. We can’t leave them anywhere, so we have to take them everywhere we both go. Neither have traveled much before the fire. It’s been interesting. Mom has dementia and will open the door any time she hears anything. We have to jump and grab the dogs constantly. We keep them attached with halters and leashes at all times. Could be another reason the little dog is so cranky.

My new F150 burned up with the house. I'd had it a little over a month. It was the first new vehicle we'd owned. We can’t afford another new truck until we see how the insurance is going to cover rebuilding. I bought a little ’91 Nissan this week. It needed a little work, but should be ready Monday. It’s not my F150, but it’ll haul furniture and wood.

I borrowed my dad’s old truck to buy some boards to make a front step for the mobile home. I also had to buy some tools. I do love tools. I’d finally gotten a nice collection. My husband knows to get me tools for gifts and after over 30 years of marriage, I’d acquired quite a collection. This birthday came and went last week with no celebration. We needed too much to even think about it. We only buy what we absolutely need.

Clothes have been another matter. When you lose everything, you have to start over. It takes years to find the perfect clothing and shoes. I liked my collection. Now most things don’t fit well and are Wal-Mart markdowns. A very nice lady saw me looking at coats at a store in Lake Worth and she gave me a coat and many nice clothes. It’s people like my family and this lady that make this bearable. I hate that my daughters lost everything. I ache for them. All their photos, books, trophies, clothes, videos, childhood stuffed animals. The quilts James' mom made for them. And now she's gone too. My dad has been a bit crabby about all the stuff we have brought into his house. Everytime we'd bring in a bag, he's say, "More stuff?" When you have nothing, you need a lot of stuff. We've been living out of the cars as much as possible. The girl's trunks are full. I'm thankful they were both student teaching when the fire hit and have their vehicles. The teachers at their schools have been wonderful, too. Teachers have the biggest hearts.

I’m trying to work on a list for the insurance. We have to list everything we had. An impossible feat. How do you remember how many socks you had, how old they were, and how much they cost? Crazy. I know we had much more than the max they’ll allow, but they don’t. Now if I can just remember . . . everything.

We lost three cats and one little goat. Two of the cats we’d had since my youngest was in kindergarten. They were fifteen years old and major parts of the family. The third cat we’d only had for thirteen years. He was dropped on us when he was a kitten. He was a shy kitten that grew up to be a shy cat. He’d only recently started becoming attached to my oldest daughter. He’d haul his eighteen pounds onto her lap and purr like crazy. As I write this my parent’s cats are meowing, reminding us of what we lost. The goat was a dwarf goat that we got eighteen years ago. He was the last surviving from a small herd. We fed him with a bottle when he was a babe. And last was the parakeet. We got my daughter birds years ago, this was one of the first set, his partner was killed by our cat. Cat never was the same after that. I truly don’t think she meant to kill the bird. She just stuck her paw in and he was gone. Before that she was a great mouser, afterward she never caught another mouse. We bought another bird. That bird just dropped dead, we bought another and that bird died. I finally said no more. Cotton Candy was a pretty little bird and he loved to listen to Weezer. I’ll miss them all.

We also have to get many papers replaced. I kept wanting to get a fireproof safe. My back had been bad for a while now and I kept putting it off because I didn’t want to carry that much weight. Wish I’d done it. Now all our records and photos are gone.

Oh well, enough. We’re rebuilding. We haven’t decided what kind of house we’ll build to replace our home. When things settle down a little, we’ll talk to builders and look around. Now we just need to get into our temp house and get started cleaning up. We had a dumpster delivered Friday. My dad showed me how his little Kabota tractor works. I spread gravel all day Valentine's day and learned a lot about the tractor. I think I can get the mess cleaned up. I would like to save some of the rock around the house. It came from family trips, my grandparents old farms, and have value in my heart.


  1. Livia:

    We are all so sorry for the loss. Every time I read your story I tear up. Know that we're all thinking of you.


  2. I just read all of your posting since and before the fire. I cannot explain how sorry I feel that you lost so much. Your courage and tenacity is an exemple to us all. Keep your spirit up!
    Orianne from Canada (Sudokuland)