Monday, June 27, 2011

Week 26

Sunday, June 19th
Many stopped us at church to ask, "How are you? How's it going? Is there anything we can do to help? Please call us." Pastor's advice the first day was, "Be prepared to receive." Indeed we are learning to allow people to bless us, in so doing they are blessed. We find cards in our mail box. Others come by and drop things off or call us. We are now experiencing first hand the generosity this community is known for.

In the afternoon I attended a memorial service; the theme was Celebration of Life. Miriam was a  friend I met only a year ago. She introduced me to two other women in her circle. The four of us got together on a weekly basis for awhile and then less often as life circumstances changed. In her case it was the return of cancer. Even so we stayed in touch and did what we could to help one another. Her time with us ended, but the impact of her life continues.

Three remaining friends
Monday, June 20th
My to-do list for the day was Books and Blog.
Son Stephan wanted me to go through the stacks of books retrieved from the house, clean them up if possible and box the rest for him to inventory as write-offs. I spent most of the day sitting on a little stool surrounded by books, a large basket to carry the decent ones to the ozone area, paper towels and wipes. Wearing rubber gloves I dusted first then wet wiped each one. Soot is very hard to get rid of. I often feel a film on items that have been cleaned already.
Although we did get internet in the afternoon, I was unable to accomplish the second goal. In fact it took a few days just to get set up and become functional again. We have now replaced both my net-book and camera.
The first photo on the new camera is of the very thoughtful Father's Day gift the boys came up with for their dad--a restored photo of me (age 26) that Mike took and developed himself. It was badly damaged and even had two holes in it. They took it to friends who work at a camera shop, who then outsourced the job to somewhere in South America. They, in Peru I believe, cleaned up the photo of the original and sent it back. Sam made the beautiful frame. And now I look better than ever!

The idea came to them when Stephan said, "You should have that deer mount restored."
Dad said, "I'd rather restore the picture of Rita."

Tuesday - Friday
The demolition began and continued all week.


By the weekend the hard working Amish crew had filled seven dumpsters.

Meanwhile, we continue the time consuming task of inventorying, replacing the lost or damaged items, and restoring the salvageable. A lot of work!
The abundant meals friends delivered three or four times a week have been very helpful.  Here is only one example, and this is what was left over after we had already partaken once!

Mike has been doing much online research to do with the rebuilding of the house, finding updated parts, systems, controls, materials. Even if he does not do the work himself, he will be very involved in the process, working closely with the contractor.

Saturday, June 25th
We took a break from house matters to attend niece Tina and husband Kyle's celebration of their marriage--Camp Camana-Wana-Marrya. We took the three younger grandsons and had a delightful time.

Although I spent most of the time running after Zion who insisted on pushing the stroller rather than sitting in it...

 ...when he wasn't talking to cute girls...

...or driving the golf cart.

Enough for tonight and for Week 26.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

After the House Fire

After the fire...
...and after taking us to the hospital, Sam went back, camera in hand, to survey the destruction.

Of all the photos he came back with, this one made me so happy. 

You wonder why? The blue in the center on my desk caught my attention immediately. I became hopeful that this treasure had been saved. So I sent son Sam back with clear instructions to look for three specific projects I was working on. He came back with all three and more--the sets of letters and resources I am using to reconstruct life stories and the blueprints for the house!

Here they are:

1. A binder of letters I wrote to my friend Mirtha in Argentina starting at age 10. They were hand carried to the USA by my brother and SIL and are to be returned in November. 

2. Letters written to my parents on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary--from family and friends (American and Argentine), also borrowed!

For the most part they were protected in plastic sleeves.

3. A box (under blue treasure, see # 1), containing writings by and years of correspondence with a Uruguayan friend that recently resurfaced and is suffering from cancer.

 4. One very special find: the blueprints to the house and the book Mike followed to build it! We determined that very first day to rebuild. This time he will not be doing all the work himself over a period of three+ years like the first time!

All the above I laid out to dry that night in the hospital room or over the handrails in the hallway.

Then I remembered that as I was watching the blaze (that is, after I stopped running around and yelling "Our house is on fire!"), I thought: "God, you can save what is important." And He did! Now I am all the more encouraged and motivated knowing that these pursuits matter to Him also.

The difference with Daniel's three friends who survived the furnace in Bible times--they came out smelling good. The smoke smell was strong in the night. I got up at 4 a.m. and gathered all the dry papers in plastic bags to continue deodorizing later.

Saturday, June 11th
By mid morning we were finally on our way to the house to begin the rescue and clean up of whatever could be salvaged. Our friends Dane and Laurie were already there with boxes and paper for wrapping, and appropriate footwear for entering the muck. They willingly agreed to take all incoming calls and coordinate community efforts on our behalf; the church office could not handle the volume.

Laurie and Rita packing pottery
Meanwhile, the Strawberry Festival was in progress down town. We were treated to wonderful festival food for a late lunch.

Tenderloin sandwich and strawberry shortcake

We enjoyed a lovely time at the picnic table out back, away from the destruction and dirty work.

Digging in the muck
Quite a few treasures were uncovered and rescued throughout the week, more than we ever imagined. I spent most of the first week by the sink wiping, washing, scrubbing, cleaning a variety of items. (My hands will never be the same.) And we have ozone machines going in two rooms deodorizing, and drying, piles of papers, files, and stuff. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

Here are a couple Facebook comments on that day:

Stephan's comment:
That house isn't just any has been a source of pleasure, comfort, hospitality, tranquility, and artistry since our dad built it so it is extra saddening...I found myself wanting everything to be able to be parents seem to be a bit more sensible in that respect realizing that it is, after all, just stuff.

Leah's FB status:
Coolest moment of the day... Standing in the middle of my parents burnt house ,all covered in black soot, sweaty and tired realizing there we stood the original crew of family Koch and there the original crew that lived in the house from the very beginning ! It was my very favorite moment because in all the destruction and ugliness around us all I felt was amazing Love !
 Sunday, June 12th
In no time we had so many offers of places to stay, one kid begging us to put them at the top of the list.
However, a dear friend's house, empty for over a year and furnished, was the logical choice. It is in a lovely community.  I had always said I would not live in that part of town where all is so perfect. Now I am loving getting to know the wonderful neighborhood. God has a great sense of humor!
Here are a few photos of that day. Leah prepared a wonderful meal for us all and we had a precious time as a family--food, fellowship, fun, and more work.

Mother (me) and sons
Leah enjoying
Family members eating indoors

Patio bunch

Backyard Fun
  Leah's FB comments:
... its been an amazing show of strength and love, they have wonderful friends and great support. already a place to live, family full of carpenters, designers and heating and air specialist. They have excellent insurance that has been on the ball from day one. many friends and a strong family to depend on and most of all God is with us
Monday, June 13th

...another day of work and family . its amazing how much cleaning and retrieving there is to do. Proud of how hard my daughter is working. when its about love it does not even feel like work !

Seems like so long but it was but mere days ago my parents home burnt. It puts many things into a different light, what is important and what is not as important. But what has not wavered or been burned, what is not smoke and ash, is the Love and as always God Is With Us.
In the evening, as is our custom every Monday, we took a break and went to Chef-son's for dinner.
As planned, Ivan (brother) and Kim were there. Only one change of plans--Stephan and Karen gladly hosted them overnight. The house we are staying in is big, but there is only one bed at the moment.

Tuesday, June 14th
More recovery, every day we think of things to look for under the rubble. However, rebuilding plans have begun in earnest. We have a contractor friend and son Sam will build all the cabinetry and some furniture.

Considering various designs
Wednesday, June 15th 
Next to the destruction and ugliness there is life--our first garden out back is thriving despite the nearby destruction!

Variety of greens from our garden
Thursday, June 16th
What was left of my car was removed from what was left of the garage. 

'Henry' hauled away.
Friday, June 17th
A friend stopped by to share some of her fresh veggies from Victory Acres, the local CSA.
Have you ever heard of garlic scapes? Kohlrabi reminded me of our time in Europe.

 Saturday, June 18th
We are eating in style and drinking out of these lovely glasses my mother gave me just a few weeks ago. We saved our dishes and silverware and much more.

If I am weary of writing, you certainly must be tired of reading. I will save Week 26 for tomorrow.

P.S.: We found Brutus, the cat, the second day! He was scared.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Before the House Fire

First of all, thank you all for the many expressions of care and concern.

The house fire divides our year in two distinct scenarios:

Before the fire...
I had photos for each day of week 24 leading up to the event, and still do, but now they have a different meaning as I look back from this new perspective.

Sunday, June 5th

Gina and Dana

So, whose daughter is Gina holding?
And whose daughter's graduation were we celebrating? 

Believe it or not, the little redhead belongs to Dana and not Gina.
We were at Gina's daughters' open house, happy that young friend K graduated from high school.
As I look at these photos now, I can see Gina's very worried and sad expression when she came and stayed with us the day of the fire. I am also reminded of her need to do something. She went out and bought us necessary toiletries and shoes.
As I look at Dana I am reminded of how her beautiful family (nine children) came over the next day with a wonderful meal that fed all of us the family members still around after a day of work.

Monday, June 6th
Geografia del mundo (1909)
An antique book arrived from my cousin who was cleaning out her books and found one in Spanish. I thought this page was especially interesting. I'm glad I have this photo which reminds me of the many books ruined by smoke, fire or water. However, much more was saved than we could ever have thought possible, including a newspaper clipping of my parents' wedding announcement in the same mailing with the Geography textbook pictured above.

Tuesday, June 6th

I went with Kayla to Ivy Tech Community College for her last placement tests and then we stopped to see the room she will have at Stephan and Karen's. Chef (Stephan), prepared us a lovely plated lunch.

Wednesday, June 7th
Our last tandem ride for awhile.

 Pottery classes at the Red Barn continue throughout the summer two afternoons a week.

Thursday, June 8th
So do my fitness classes at the Wellness Center.

Carolyn during warm-up
The house fire may have interrupted our lives in some areas, such as TV- watching, however these two activities (ceramics and exercise) go on faithfully.

Friday, June 10th--Dia del incendio (Day of the House fire)
The emergency crew strongly encouraged Mike to go to the ER to be checked out and have his burns and cut cleaned and dressed. He didn't want to but they won.
The doctor insisted on admitting him overnight for observation in case signs of smoke inhalation damage showed up hours later. Again Mike refused, but was outnumbered.

These are the last two photos taken with my damaged camera. The firemen found our cameras in the den. Mike's seems okay, but mine has a blank screen. It still works apparently, but they are point-shoot-and-hope-for-the-best mystery pics.

I love this very last one of Zion, one of the many visitors that day.
All other photos to come, including the very first one in this post, are cell phone shots.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

About the House Fire

 The accident happened around 9 a.m., June 10.
Mike had been raku firing and was back in the house. Later when he heard crackling noises, he looked in the garage. There was a fire started which could have been put out, but the the fire extinguisher pin would not budge. In no time the fire spread.

Three or four fire departments responded and did good work. I think someone counted up to 75 firefighters.

The house is a total loss, but we've already rescued some important items, such as the blue prints. We plan to rebuild.

The news spread almost as fast as the fire. Love, prayers and provision are pouring in. We feel God's presence. THANK YOU ALL.

Mike was sent to ER for burns on hands and arm. The doctor was more concerned about possible smoke inhalation, so he was admitted overnight for observation. We hope to leave the hospital today and set to work.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Graduation Week

The whole week we were in preparation mode for the open house to celebrate granddaughter Kayla's graduation from high school. Our work increased and accelerated until culminating in the grand event today--an absolute success. Now, finally, I can put my feet up, relax, and reflect on the past seven days.

Sunday was quiet enough, except for the Indy 500 on TV. Stephan and Karen (son and DIL) came over to watch the famous race since they cannot get certain channels right now. Their dogs, our granddogs, came along. They love to run in the big open yard. I especially liked seeing them come up to the back door together and beg to come back in.

Gryffon and Gracie
 Sunday evening we said goodbye to one of our pastors who's been here twenty three years.

Bob and Jean Heilshorn's farewell

And Tuesday evening was my last time with a new friend from Mexico. I was helping her with English. She is moving on to stay with another family of relatives for a few months.

Rita and Miriam
Wednesday we enjoyed another visit from brother Ivan and SIL Kim. (Does this photo look like an Apple computer ad or what?)

Kim and Ivan

Thursday was a big work day to spruce up the place for the grand event. Kayla and Skye came over to help. After only one lesson on how to use the commercial mower...

...we now have a confident operator (and a permanent helper?)

Friday was the big day. We enjoyed the graduation ceremony and are so proud of our lovely Kayla.

We managed to get one photo of all the family related folks who endured attended the long ceremony waiting for Kayla's big moment.

Today our house was full of images of Kayla: a constantly changing display on the TV; framed photos everywhere; two huge posters covered with pictures; and a photo book covering the first ten years of her life.


The food was abundant: Mike's special grilled chicken; three amazing Pioneer Woman salads I slaved over made today: pasta salad; cole slaw; and my favorite potato salad.

Then there was the dessert table...mmmmmmmmmmmm

Best of all was the fun time had by all!