You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘home’ tag.

It’s been more than three weeks. This was probably the right time to get COVID, as it has kept me in bed feeling awful for nine days. I still don’t feel good but I’ve broken quarantine a day early, as the Texas Baptist Men are coming to the house to talk about sifting, and perhaps to sift. I’m not sure which.

I think taking to my bed like some delicate Victorian has allowed me to sit with my grief. It’s fitting that my body has felt as bad as my soul. Perhaps now they’ll both start feeling some better together.

Driving in, I am aware again of the 991. Of being, once again, a member of a club I’d never want to join. And of how almost everyone I see is going about their daily lives as if the fire had never happened. Because it didn’t happen to them. I am reminded of the King Soopers shooting in Boulder that happened just over a mile from where I’m driving, and how for most of us, it was terrible, sad, and tragic. We mourned and we said “Boulder Strong” and were kind and went on with things. But for the families of the 10 who died, and likely for the many people who were present, life didn’t go on as usual. Everything changed in those few minutes. And that’s how it is for us now, the 991.

I am about ready to go back to the Retreat. Since the fire, I’ve been afraid to be alone, which is a never-before-experienced feeling for me, so I’ve stayed at MKL’s house, that he continues to fix up for sale. That feeling is ebbing now, and I want to pass through my valley into the woods and up the mountain to my fortress of solitude. To try to find my new normal. To get strong again.

Tiny painful losses continue to come to mind. My orange Bronco wristbands that were in the top drawer of the dresser and my white mesh John Elway jersey that was under the bed. My black Boston Ballet Company T-shirt. In remembering one thing, my mind starts grasping for others. What else was in that top drawer? What had I left in that jewelry box that ex-Pat gave me decades ago? Why didn’t I retrieve that muff from the antique store in Luray before this happened? Why didn’t I try harder to find that letter from Jeff that arrived after he had died, that voice from beyond the grave?

As expected, in my dreams I am continually trying to get home, trying to see my parents. Curiously, parking has been the biggest impediment. Dreams are funny things, especially mine.

I sit in the coffee shop, working, writing, checking in with A, checking in with K, trying not to cry but only half-succeeding when I speak of the house, of my feelings, of what today may hold. Still just taking it one day at a time. That’s better than one breath at a time, one minute at a time, which was how I was taking it three weeks ago. A little voice inside me says I am stronger than I think. I am starting to believe that again.

This painting at the coffee shop feels like the fire.

I am a visual person, which means I need to see something in order to have it make sense, in order to integrate it into my being. When ex-Pat used to describe something he was planning to build, he’d get frustrated with me because I’d need him to draw it for me. This is causing me not inconsiderable anxiety as I struggle to understand the fire.

I’ve seen pictures of the smoke. I’ve seen pictures of the flaming shed on the Twelve Tribes property. I’ve seen videos of people driving through ash. I’ve seen images of the fires after dark. And I’ve seen what’s left. But I need to know what happened to MY house.

I’ve heard things. A 100 foot wall of flame. Sustained winds as strong as a Category 3 hurricane. So much speed and power that the fire developed its own weather system inside it.

But how did it approach? Did the smoke envelop the house before the fire? How quickly did it roar through my property? What did all those trees surrounding the house look like on fire? Giant candelabras? What burned first? Did the walls collapse? The roof? Did Roscoe and Dusty just have one smoke-filled breath and pass out? What made it stop so that the house across the street is untouched? What did it look like as it was happening?

Unless some heretofore unseen video pops up, I doubt I will ever have these answers. I wonder if it is actually a blessing that I didn’t see it, that I can’t know. It might be just too much to bear. The limit of what I can stand or bear or survive has been stretched mighty thin these days. Hugs and closeness and lots of blankets and what I’m calling my emotional support wine bottle have helped.

The only thing that I know is that had I been there, I most likely would not be here. I have a long, complex relationship with fire, something to be explored on another day. I am also stubborn to a fault, and would have fought to save my cat, my dog, and my house, regardless of logic and circumstance, until the bitter end. As I’ve been wont to say of late, I’ve had a good run. So even though I may not feel very enthusiastic about being here right now, I’m still here. For the folks who love me.

Silence.

It can mean quiet joy or unbearable trauma. For me, right now, it’s the latter.

My little 100+ year old house by the creek, beneath the cottonwoods, concealed by ancient fragrant lilacs in the best of spring, when purple iris clustered around the chimney, is gone. Reduced to ashes, along with my elderly dog and cat, by a capricious and cruel wildfire. A wildfire that was impossible to imagine in our little suburb that used to be a mining town, along with hundreds of other houses. All in the span of a few hours.

My ex-Pat lived there, in the first house we bought together, which we still amicably owned together. I remember when I committed to buy it. We’d been married about three months and I couldn’t reach him by phone. Then I asked several co-workers, “Would you be mad if your wife bought a house without asking you?” He wasn’t, of course. It was the first house we looked at. Across the road, unpaved those 30 years ago, from a cow pasture. We lugged our first Christmas tree there home in a snowstorm from a lot where they later built the town hall.

When I left my marriage, I tried to leave the house as intact with my things as possible, trying to create the least amount of disruption for our daughter. So much of my treasured past, along with her entire childhood, vanished in the flames. My great grandmother’s china. My grandmother’s barrister bookcases housing my all-time favorite books. My Mother’s champagne glasses. Decades of my journals. Most of my photographs. My wedding dress. My daughter’s childhood artwork. Her stuffed animals. Her red dragon that was a bubble blower. Her Legos and Yu-Gi-Oh cards. The little books my Mother used to read to her, that were mine when I was a child. My grandmother’s letters to a mysterious beau during World War I that I had been saving to read. A shirt from a beau of my own that he gave me to remember him by, a beau whose heart I sadly broke many years later.

All gone.

We keep thinking of the random things we’ve lost, as we try not to think about the two furry loves that we lost. I want to die myself, and struggle to believe that they didn’t suffer, that the smoke got to them, and not the flames. I am agonizingly desperate for that reassurance. And unspeakably guilty that I could not save them. The worst kind of ‘what if’ and magical thinking.

This is not the first time my heart has been shattered. It likely, poignantly, will not be the last. But the pain is paralyzing. I don’t want to be here anymore. I go into my niece’s powder room and look for something I can cut myself with, just to try to let out the pain, to ease it into something I can bandage. I don’t, of course, and almost hate myself for not doing it, but I don’t. For my daughter. For my husband. For my ex. For my niece and her husband and her almost three-year old son, who have opened their home to her uncle. I don’t want to make them hurt more through my own selfish act.

So I plod on. Days interrupted by wracking sobs and small episodes of abject despair. Dreamless nights with a few snatched hours of sleep. Waking moments when I realize it’s real and the evil pain rushes back in to consume my soul. Nausea that has kept me from eating for two days so far. Dimly reminding myself that it will get better and just not caring. The someday when it will feel better is too far away for me to see or give a damn about.

I know I have not lost everything. But I have lost enough.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/kilbride-family-rebuilding-after-boulder-fire?member=16367209&sharetype=teams&utm_campaign=p_na+share-sheet&utm_medium=sms&utm_source=customer

That chimney is all that is left of my house.

They stayed for quite a while. They’ll be first in line when I figure out where (and how) to set up the salt lick.

Daily gratitudes:
Thunder
Mornings that were made for snuggling under blankets
Outsmarting the smoke detectors
Long baths
Fending off the blues with practical activities

Frankenstein was a fairy tale, really, just without the fairies. But that was the word that kept going through my mind as MKL and I ventured out with our realtor for the first time to look for our house together.

We’ve been married over a year and still have not been able to consolidate our two houses into one slice of domestic bliss. I understand the whys and the psychology of it. We both fought hard to rebuild our lives after they fell apart, and buying a house was a huge milestone for each of us, so we are each attached to our respective house. We’re don’t really like each other’s houses or neighborhoods. Neither of us feels like there is room for the other in one or another’s house. I’m told by psychologist friends that this is all not uncommon for “older” people when they marry – that they lives are already more settled and so it is harder to uproot to live together.

But we want to. So we’ve created multiple scenarios (so practical!) that we are working through about what combination of renting or selling our houses will work best. And as part of that, we have begun looking for OUR house. It would be nice to start fresh, with no ghosts (literal or figurative) in a place that we can make our home. We are ready to be away from the Los Angeles-like traffic of the metro area, and the bright lights of the big city.

Our search has started in the foothills, close enough that we can commute in as needed, but on-the-grid enough that we can work from home when possible. We looked at four houses. We loved the location of the first one, overlooking a sweeping valley, with nothing but the sound of the wind in the pines and a random rooster. But not the house, and not the road to the house.

view

MKL was in love with the garage of the second house. It was two stories tall, could house at least four cars comfortably, and had water. But the house was full of small rooms and angles, and would never accommodate our vintage pool table, or our aircraft carrier-sized bed.

img_9972

The third house was a huge no. You could not enter the house and have the oven door open at the same time. Not that I do that often, but I’d like the option.

And the fourth house was like a fairytale cottage. Open and bright, sunny yellow walls, 1910 latches, marble countertops in a brand new kitchen, rooms full of windows. But no garage. And not priced so that we could afford to build one. I refer to it now as the Enchanted Cottage, so when we talk about it MKL knows which house I’m referring too. It even had some mule deer grazing in the side yard. Sigh. I am still enamored.

img_9980

So our ideal place is a Frankenstein creation of one view, one garage, and one Enchanted Cottage.  I’m just going to keep believing until I make it real.

Quote of the day: “For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person. And we are finally home.” — Stephanie Perkins

Daily gratitudes:
A beautiful day
MKL fixing things when they go wrong
My Skype last night with one of my girls
My catering family
Housecleaning

Save

Or it will be soon. Looking forward to going home.

IMG_5753
Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty.” — James Kavanaugh

Daily gratitudes:
Dragonflies
Katie Ledecky
Friendly chalkboards by front doors
Hot air balloons this morning
Perfectly dried roses

For those of you who haven’t met him, this is Mr. Man. He is my constant companion in what we call the “North House” aka, the Bungalow, and keeps me feeling well-loved and snuggled when MKL is in the “South House”. Some people say he has a big nose, but I think it’s beautiful. As a Maine Coon, which people say is “the dog of cats”, he is a vocal fellow. If he loves you, he will give you headbutts – after smelling your forehead to be sure no imposter is disguising herself as his Mom. Mr. Man, also known as Mr. Boo, has only had one other owner besides me in his whole life. I adopted him when he was 13 as a birthday present to myself three years ago. Yes, he’s 16 now, and has had a few problems with pancreatitis, from which he almost died two years ago. That experience – my helping him get better – was a turning point in our relationship. He finally came to trust me, eight months after I’d adopted him. Now, I don’t think we can imagine our lives without each other, though having had cats before (my first one lived to 20), I know that one day, I will have to do so.  But I hope that’s a long time off.

20160402_102113
Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” — Terry Pratchett

Daily gratitudes:
A successful chainsaw massacre with no loss of limb
An old favorite movie
MKL
Strong arms
True love

 

In case you haven’t heard, it snowed in Colorado today, a snow I haven’t seen the likes of since 2003, when I got stuck thigh deep in my own backyard (funny, yet awkward, and there was that moment I thought no one would find my body for weeks.)

My little town received 20 inches at my last measure, and with blizzarding winds, drift up to four feet on the back fence. We all knew it was coming, but none of us really expected its ferocity. So after talking to MKL for this morning’s wake up call, I was dozing, when I heard a loud noise. It sounded like Mr. Man had jumped and knocked a pile of paperwork onto the floor. I went to check that everything was okay, as a good pet owner does. And I realized the problem was not inside — it was outside.

Snow 4

Yes, this was the scene in my front yard. at 6:45 this morning. This patch of yard used to contain a lovely little apple tree and a lilac bush. And now it contains the remnants of this:

Snow 3

Half of a fifty foot Chinese Elm. I knew it needed to come down. It had died a year or so ago. But I wasn’t expecting this. Can you see where it split off from the main trunk?

Snow 2

The miracle was where it fell. It missed by bedroom roof and my porch by inches, literally, and is only slightly on top of my fence. The shot above is the view from my little porch. My porch sticks out about four feet from the house, and my bedroom is sort of indented on the west side of the house. A slightly stronger gust of wind would have put it through the roof onto my sleeping self. I would have heard much more than the curious whooshing sound I heard when it fell as is it did. I doubt I’d be typing this now, in fact.

Snow 1

The current view from my bedroom window.

I now have the unfortunate task of shoveling. First to the back gate, because it opens inward. Then a walk around the  block to shovel the sidewalk, because the front gate opens outward. And then a shovel run to the front door, maneuvering around the fallen tree which is blocking the path to the house. MKL and I will have to find chainsaws to get it out of the yard and assess the damage. The apple tree is nothing but broken spears, looking like jousting lances standing straight in the air. I will miss that tree. I’m glad, though, that I’m here to miss it. The roof is creaking, and clumps of snow (and possibly more trees and branches are falling with muffled thumps in that eerie, peaceful silence that only comes with snow. But I am here, and I thank my guardian angels for guiding the trajectory of the fallen tree.

A long, long time ago, a boy named Jeff stood on a balcony of an old plantation with me in Durham one July day. It was 99 degrees and 100 percent humidity. He said, “One day when you are watching the snow piling up around your house in Colorado, I want you to remember standing here on the balcony at Monkey Top, on a summer day so hot you can barely breathe.” Today, I remember.

Quote of the day: “You’re lucky, spontaneous, and your guardian angel is overworked and way underpaid.” — Mary Calmes

Daily gratitudes:
Miracles, great and small
Keeping my power all day
Guadeloupe
That my loved ones are all safe
Yesterday’s 73 degrees

And by the way, while I don’t think it changes anything for my lovely readers, my web address has changed to http://www.seasweetie.com. I’m my own blog URL now! So please check your Reader, so we can keep up with each other.

 

The New Year is now a distant memory for most of us. I know that MKL and I played pool, drank martinis, ate something yummy, watched tropical visions on Hawaii 5-0 on Netflix, and fell asleep before midnight. But many of you in the blogosphere may have noticed the “One Word Challenge.” I was late to that party, but the idea is that you pick one word to which you dedicate your actions and goals for the year. It’s simpler than your standard New Year’s resolutions, which are generally abandoned by the time you get the Christmas Tree off to the recycle center.

I’m not generally a big fan of this sort of thing (or of large parties), but this struck some chord within me. MKL and I do have a goal of combining households and actually living like a married couple in 2016, which led me to think that my word was “home.” But that is a very, very complex word for me (although MKL has made it simpler, as I feel as if my home is where he is). So I don’t think “home” is quite my word. I think my word is for 2016 is “bravery.”

BRAVERY.

The things that feed my soul that I fear pursuing because of rejection or failure need to be brought out to the show windows this year, reactions be damned. Maybe not quite like bravery in terms of Braveheart where Mel Gibson gets his intestines pulled out on a roller, but bravery in terms of going after what I want (no one else can do it for me) and taking risks around changes in my life, seeing new places, challenging myself. I haven’t done anything particularly brave in five years, when I was forced to reshape my roadkill of a life. So it’s time. Wish me luck. No, wish me courage.

IMG_6494

Eastern Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.” — Emma Donoghue

Daily gratitudes:
My MRI technician
Shamanic journeys
Meeting deadlines
Melting snow
Love

 

 

Always watching over us. Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.

IMG_8450

Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  — Marcel Proust

Daily gratitudes:
That my house is under the Canadian Geese flight path
Owls hooting in the darkness
Cozy Mr. Man
Having Kelsea home for a few days
Embarrassing moments that make for good stories

 

 

January 2022
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Archives

Make your life a little sweeter every day! Sign up for an email subscription to Seasweetie.

Join 2,459 other followers

wordpress stats
plugin
%d bloggers like this: