Sunday, January 29, 2012

Close Encounters of the Gravel Kind

Okay, this post isn't really about the fire. Or the house. But it does include pain and a journey, so I thought you might enjoy it. Because really, we all enjoy laughing at other people's pain, right?

I journeyed to Omaha Friday night to attend the Pampered Chef's Spring Launch and I succeeded in launching myself right off a sidewalk. Spring Launch is where all the new spring products are revealed to the cheers of a thousand happy consultants. We planned to stay in a hotel in Omaha Friday night so we could head to the conference all fresh and rested Saturday morning. We stopped at a little steakhouse in Rock Port for dinner and that is where the mishap occurred.

I paid my bill and left the restaurant. I was walking down the sidewalk toward the vehicle, still folding my money back into my wallet, when I noticed that nobody was in the vehicle. I started to turn around when my friend, Mandy waved to me from the tinted back window. I smiled at Mandy and stepped happily down the sidewalk.

That was when I became acutely aware that my right foot was not coming with me. I was falling. No big deal. I looked at Mandy and smiled as if to say "no problem. I got this." Mandy says she thought I was bending over to pick something up. It began that gracefully. But then something went insanely wrong.

I instantly made the decision that falling on my knee would not be a good thing and I put my hands out to brace the fall and take some of the impact. I would fall, stand back up, giggle, get in the vehicle. Right? No. I fell. I rolled. I who-the-hell-knows-what. All I know is I was walking East. And then I was flat on my back, sprawl-legged, looking at sky, half-way under the Highlander, head pointed South, butt aimed North, shoes flung here and there, wallet open on the gravel, and money scattered everywhere.

Two thoughts went through my head simultaneously:
Get UP before someone sees you! & What the hell just happened?

Mandy peered  down from the window. She opened the door just a crack and I said very seriously: You. Saw. NOTHING. She said "are you alright?" "I don't know yet" I mumbled. I reached for the door handle on the Highlander to pull myself up but of course, the door OPENED which is what happens when you pull on the handle and I sprawled back on my butt. Then our friend Jim was there and he was all "are you alright? What happened?" And at that point I was all "I don't really know."

This was the most embarrassing moment, to date, of my adult life. I wanted desperately to laugh it off and enjoy the rest of the drive into Omaha, but I was in PAIN. I took the skin off my right knee. I took the skin off my right arm. By the time we reached Omaha, I had a big, swollen bruise on that arm. When I eased myself into bed I realized I had hit my right butt cheek on something and could not lay on it. I couldn't really lay on the left hip either. Mandy and I laughed and giggled while reliving the whole scenario and finally I settled in to sleep in an uncomfortable, awkward position.

The next day my back began to hurt and by evening I felt like I had been run over by the Highlander I had landed under. I really do not know how I could have hit, poked, skinned, or pummeled so many parts of my body on such a short journey from curb to parking lot. Damn gravel. I spent Saturday night in a bath tub full of Epsom salt.

At any rate, the new spring products are fabulous. I had a great time, considering. And now it is back to work and another week of house recovery. This week we will meet with the kitchen designer. The final three bedrooms are being demolished. The basement clean-out continues. Life marches on.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Shh...Houses Have Secrets

You know the saying, 'if these walls could talk'? Well, our walls are a talkin'. Turns out, our house has a lot of dirty little secrets. It seems that the more walls they tear down, the more secrets the house reveals. And they all mean one thing: more $$.

We had a room on the back of the house. It was an office. And a craft room. And a pantry. Oh, and we sometimes hid the unfolded laundry back there too. Oh, okay! It was a junk room. A catchall. Don't judge me! You have one too! It was built on by the previous owner and I'm using 'built' very loosely here. We knew that when we bought the house. But we LOVED the house and when you really love something, you have to love it unconditionally, faults included. So, I accepted my little bonus room, faults and all. I even Duct taped the seams with purple tape to keep the winter chill down and avoid frostbite on our fingers when we used the computer back there. We knew there were issues, but...

Then the wall came down. And really, who knew?? That room was hiding so much more. No wonder it was so cold! One wall was completely rotten. Ka-ching! We'll have to fix that and insurance doesn't cover that repair. Ouch. No surprise though, really.
Secret #1: Rot under the window on the 'built-on room'
  Then came secret number two. And this was a biggie. This one reeked of betrayal.
Secret #2: Botched repair job under living room windows
When we purchased the house six years ago, the owner said that he had found a small termite mound on the property. No big deal. No damage. He hired an exterminator that guaranteed they wouldn't return for two years and they never did. He failed to disclose this dirty little secret. The termites ate the wall around the window on the front of the house.

But gets better. Presumably, when the siding was being replaced on the house, he filled the hole created by the termites, with concrete. Quite resourceful, eh? Almost as resourceful as the foam cup stuck in the plumbing line on my last post. Only this quick fix didn't work. You can see daylight through the wide gaps in the wall and several years worth of snows and spring rains have entered that wall and done their damage. Ka-ching! Insurance doesn't cover that little issue either. Filth and foul.

Then there was this little secret. At least it won't cost any money.
Secret #3: Unknown tool 
This tool was inside a wall. Not like, fell down inside the wall when someone was repairing something. No, more like, placed ever so carefully and then encased inside the wall. Weird.

Personally, I think there are two possibilities for this.

Either, the Clue Scenario:
It was __________ in the _________ with the __________. Quick! Hide the weapon.

Or, Revenge of the Builder Scenario:
Dry Waller 1: Hey Bob! You seen my tool?
Dry Waller 2: Tool? What tool? You're the only tool around here.
Dry Waller 1: He's always hiding my tools. I'll fix his wagon.

Clearly, the house with all of it's hidden secrets, is making me crazy. er.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Show Me the Way to Go Home

♫Show me the way to home♪
♪I'm tired and I want to go to bed♫

The last few days I've been extremely overcome with a feeling of homesickness. It is a stop-this-ride-I-want-to-get-off kind of feeling. I don't want to play anymore. It's been real, folks. Now let me go home and sleep in my own bed.

Oh how I would love to wake up in my own bed. Just to spend a night snuggled into my warm waterbed and wake up under a real comforter, and not this rented blanket. Yes, true...I could go buy a comforter. But I don't want to. Because I can't put it on my bed. In my house. And I'm stubborn that way.

So, I went to visit my house today. What did I find? Well...

This is our stairway with heavy soot and the window busted out.
  Has become this:
Stairway post demolition.
There is actually quite a lot going on. The house is getting a thorough cleaning in preparation for sealant to be sprayed on the woodwork. There are bids coming in from plumbers and electricians. Roofers are poking around in the shingles to assess the damage there. We are even starting to talk kitchen cabinets.

But, the more I look at the empty house, the more I miss home. It has also occurred to me with harsh reality that I am never going back 'home'. Home, as it was, is gone. The soft, worn, denim furniture...gone. The kitchen cabinets we painstakingly painted to match the red floor...gone. Rough Stuff's purple room...gone. Bubba's green room...gone. My lamps, my curtains, my dishes...gone, gone, gone. And it is really that, the familiarity, that I long for.

Enough of that already.

What else greeted me today?

 This is not how we use the respirator masks, guys. I'm pretty sure the insulation and dust are supposed to be on the OUTSIDE of the mask. Good geez.

And then there was this:

Let me interpret that for you. It is the opening the toilet should sit on. With a cup stuck in it. To keep the sewer gasses from entering the house. That is resourcefulness at it's best right there. My mistake was in asking why there was a cup stuck in that hole in the first place. I should know better.

♫I had a little drink about an hour ago and it went right to my head ♪
♪boom, boom, boom♫

I didn't have a drink. They must have had a drink. The contractors, that is. Why else would you cram a foam cup in a toilet hole? Why, folks?


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sharing the Journey

I write my blog from my perspective. I'm selfish that way, ya know? It's MINE after all. My blog. Mine. Mine. Mine. My views. My ups. My downs. My journey.

Oh, how I wish this journey were all mine. But it's not. The whole herd of us are on the journey together. And we are each affected differently. I would love to be able to take the pain and the trauma from my be able to turn back the clock and erase the memories of the erase the fear they felt that night as the pets were trapped inside the house, as their possessions were consumed in smoke and flame, as their home became a strange and surreal memory.

I can't take it away though, and I know the journey will shape them...what doesn't kill us makes us stronger and all that jazz. They are amazing kids. I'm so proud of them. I am so impressed with how Bubba and Tuna called 9-1-1 and corralled their younger siblings into the truck and then to a neighbors house to safety. I am impressed with how resilient they have all been.

I want to dedicate this post to my son. His life journey includes Asperger's Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder. One of the characteristics of folks with Asperger's is that they don't like change. At all. Ever. Bubba has, like the rest of us, had to endure change in the most extreme sense. He is also the only member of the herd that lost a pet in the fire. I am so impressed with his insight and I want to share it with you. He wrote this just a few days after the fire.
 A trail out of sorrow
A limb on the trail
A disruption in the creek
A mountain, a valley, a fire burning without control
All disruptions from the path of destiny
Or am I wrong
And these disruptions are necessary for true life to exist
Hills are in abundance
They are one type of life’s many road blocks
In Arkansas, the forest in which I dream of living
It is there I wish to settle my life
Arkansas has these mountains and valleys
These mountains must be crossed
And there may be a toll
The real struggle however
The biggest mountains are what are on the road to home for me
My dream passes through my mind many times each day
Right now however I am crossing through smoke
Around me burning a thousand lost dreams
As I go through the smoke
I begin to choke
Depression sets in occasionally as I go through
I must leave the past behind
Each day the dreams fade away
Dying is all around
Lives, dreams lost forever
It’s a sad thought, a very rainy day indeed
However it is worse when you have lost everything
One shall learn though as they come from the smoke
You can never lose everything
There’s always something to love
Disruptions make you stronger
And ultimately will make life longer
And so the key to a true life is hardship and struggle
You can never get rid of the mountains
They’re here forever     

{May you rest in reptile peace, Mr. Merlin} 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sticks and Stones

Today was truly craptastic. It was an everything-that-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong kind of day. The dishwasher is out at the rental house. The preacher's wife who owns the rental house is acting all sorts of unholy with the leasing company. The shower is leaking into the garage. Blast!

But, Operation Tear-Out continues. As I write this post, I feel as if my soul has been laid bare, just like my home. I'm just tired and empty. Don't worry, friends. I won't stay this way. I just have my moments. And by golly, place I'm free to have a moment is on my own blog!

Anyhoo. The house is down to sticks and stones. Check out these stones:

Stone-look vinyl flooring under the red vinyl floor- who knew? Oh the secrets a house can reveal. And for the sticks:


There you go, folks. Family room, living room, dining room, and kitchen. Sticks and stones, laid bare. What a mess. When I saw this pic, it took me several seconds to even figure out which rooms I was looking at. I didn't recognize my own home. Ouch. 

My first steps back into my home following the fire were completely surreal. Nothing can prepare you for that moment. I followed a firefighter with a flashlight and a special cousin close on my heels. She is special because just a few months before, she had taken those same disorienting steps into her own fire-ravaged home- and there she was to take the walk with me. 

As I stepped into the doorway, my feet seemed to slide in opposite directions throwing me off balance. The reality slapped me hard- I was walking in water. My house was full of water. Of course- a whole pumper truck of water, plus one garden hose sprayed with serious desperation. I grabbed at the walls to steady myself, but my hands landed in slick, greasy soot. There was no electricity and as I followed the dim glow of the flashlight the fireman carried ahead of me I struggled to make sense of what I was seeing. Something was hanging from the ceiling. It was...the ceiling fan. The fan blades had melted into contorted drooping shapes. And as I swallowed down the lump in my throat and choked back sobs, my eyes fell on this:

Be still and know that I am God. Soot covered the wall and ceiling near the sign, but the sign itself seemed to almost glow. Today, when the walls came down, the hubby discovered this:

This one particular stud was charred. The studs on either side were not. This stud was directly behind that sign. The sheetrock you see behind those studs is black from smoke. Yet somehow, that sign escaped the heat and the smoke. 

The only thing that stopped the flames from going through our roof was two sheets of plywood we had thrown down in the attic so we could store the Christmas tree without falling through the kitchen ceiling.

That's all I've got tonight. Nothing funny. Nothing cute. Just deep, soul-baring reflection. A great big heaping dose of real. Momma said there'd be days like this. And they suck.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Spy

The demolition continues.

I Spy anyone? I spy something that will cut your toe off.

Ash and rubble in the kitchen floor.

You know all those bowls that never have matching lids? Or is it those lids that don't have matching bowls? Oh hell, it doesn't matter anyway. Just throw the whole damn mess in the dumpster.


And let's talk about wallpaper. Just don't, folks. Don't. Unless you intend to live in your house FOREVER, skip the wallpaper. No pink and white pillow ticking stripes. No puke-pink floral bouquet. No...I don't even know what this is. Just no. Don't do it. Ever. I can not think of a situation, an era, a theme, when it would ever be okay to use this wallpaper.

What was behind the dishwasher.

I must give kudos to our demolition crew. They are working hard, busting down walls, slinging stuff in the dumpster, throwing the trees? What the...

Ahem. Anyhoo. They are working really hard and most of the house now looks like this:

Check out the main bathroom there. With no wallpaper. And no baby-blue tile. Yep. That's the good stuff there. That bathroom is going to be the most beautiful shade of amaretto. I can see it now.

I also want to give kudos to my dear hubby who is in that mess everyday while I work from home in my jammies. He took all of the photos for today's post. Yep, feet, legs, crew, and all. Thank you, Sweet. That's the good stuff.  

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream

A window into a conversation with my hubby: bought a what?
An ice cream truck?
For how much?

Actually, his side of the conversation went like this:

I bought a storage container.
I got it real cheap.
It came with a free truck.


So now we own this:

So, yeah.

Obviously, his idea of a storage container and my idea of a storage container are not the same thing. It must be that whole Mars and Venus thing.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Resolution

I don't make New Year's Resolutions. I don't like them. For me, they fall into the realm of diets. They don't work. They sound great on January 1st, but a few weeks in they are all but forgotten leaving just the tinge of guilt you feel for not completing them.

I think if you want to make a significant change you should just get off your arse and do it. Why wait for the start of a new year? Why not start on Easter? Or April Fool's Day? Or September 21st? But, I digress.

2012 is a time for new beginnings. The last few years have brought plenty of wonderful things, but also a heap of major events. 2009 brought the end to a job I loved. 2010 brought a serious hip injury for Tuna. 2011 brought more ER visits, physical therapy appointments, broken toes, broken ankles, torn tendons, and nosebleeds. Oh good geez, the nosebleeds! 2012 is a new year for our family...a clean slate.

So, as promised, I shall share with you my 2012 New Year's Resolution. This year, I'm making a commitment. I'm taking the leap. I'm diving in head first. I'm going to do it up right. You'll see. I'll show you. No backing down. No guilt trips down the road. I'm giving this one all I've got.

Are you ready?

You're going to love it...

My 2012 New Year's Resolution is...

I'm Going To Declutter My Entire House!

It's 3:45 on January 1st, and my 2012 New Year's Resolution is DONE. *yawn* *stretch* That was rough, but how wonderful to start the new year all new and organized.

Note: The sponsor of this blog does not endorse or encourage fire as a means of decluttering a home. All actions that lead to decluttering referred to in this blog were performed by a professional slow cooker aka 'stupid Crock Pot'. Please do not try this at home.