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.


Lhoyt said...

Praising the Lord with you for the things that were salvaged. I'm especially thankful for Mirta's letters and the letters written to Dad and Mother--both irreplaceable. So glad also for God's provision for housing!


AS I read your post tears streamed down my face...until the part about standing in the ashes and being the original past of the family. When as house burns...yes, it is just stuff....but it is also history. This was a beautiful post and I am so glad you are all ok. I can't wait for week 26. God bless you all! My prayers are with you

skoots1mom said...

out of the ashes...
congratulations on finding so many things...the Lord did care for ya'll

your poor car...
neat to see Ivan and Kim enjoying time with ya'll, too!
continued prayers as you work your way back into your NEW home ;)

Elizabeth said...

So happy to hear of all the things that were saved from the fire. Just amazing!

Oldfangled said...

Lynn Rosetto Caspar was just talking about garlic scapes on The Splendid Table this weekend.

The book inventory is growing slowly but surely (and sootily.) The computer at the shop will need a good cleaning once it's all done! The keyboard and mouse are turning black. I think we still have two or three boxes left to go through.