Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ramblings of a Traumatized Quilter Who Laid Awake All One Night Crying Over Stuff That Didn't Actually Burn. then cried again later for things that did.

Oh my, where to start? Finally get my Internet back today and I don't even know what to say or how to say it. It's been quite the emotional 3 1/2 weeks around here. Life was just scooting along like normal and then kaboom! Seemingly out of nowhere, we have a fire racing down the hill behind our house and approximately a 20-30 minute window of evacuation time. I always thought I'd know exactly what would be important enough to grab and make a run with... but the reality is so very, very different. The mind kind of fogs over and logical thinking quickly gets hijacked by adrenaline--plus the very intense messages being sent out in neon colors to just ignore 'things' in favor of getting loved ones to a safe place NOW.
Finally, a moment spent on quilting. I can't seem to settle
or think properly about any of my UFO's so I try this on a whim.
Because really, things are replaceable--we all know that. And people aren't. But oh how my heart aches for people like my parents and sister who essentially lost everything overnight. My mom had a quilt room easily six times the size of mine, mountains of fabric everywhere, half finished quilt projects up the kazoo and so many beautiful quilts we'll never, ever see again. I want to shower her with fabric, but she doesn't need that right now. She needs pots and pans and a salt shaker. New throw rugs and a nice comfy recliner. I gave her a quilt made with fabrics from my grandma (her mom) and she accused me of trying to make her cry. I kind of think it doesn't take much these days, for her or anyone else similarly affected by the fire.
Vintage basket blocks (bought at Farm Chicks in Spokane).
The blocks have rust stains on them and the hand piecing
is not so wonderful--too risky to make into a proper quilt.
But they are doing very well in spite of the devastation. Most people are around here. We have such a great community with people pulling in to help from everywhere. It's simply unbelievable to see the hoards of people who have pitched in to help with everything from immediate relief supplies, showers, meals etc, to help find temporary housing and clean-up detail. This little valley out in the middle of nowhere is very quickly getting the rubble scraped up and sent on down the road. Which feels good and oh so necessary. The generosity extended in our time of need has been nothing short of incredible. Overwhelming and touching. Words are inadequate, but know that it's been an amazing thing to witness, the friends, neighbors and family rallying to give of whatever's needed. Then there are the strangers. Giving, giving, giving of their time, money, homes and possessions. Who knew?
I decide to make a table runner. Something quick and rewarding.
So good that when I cut the blocks down, it actually cuts away most of the
staining. Fray check takes care of the worst of the unskilled stitching.
Our story is not nearly as tragic as so many others, but let me tell you, we've all been affected in one way or another. My immediate family came back home to stay after nine days (even without access to power) because we simply couldn't stay away any longer. Home sweet home. I think everyone just walked around in a daze touching things and letting tears leak out of our eyes because of the enormity of our blessings. The reality of other peoples losses. I picked up my hand quilting only once in those nine days. Who would have believed it of me? I think my heart hurt too much.
I decide to hand quilt with chunky Perle Cotton thread.
Working with fabric makes me feel very emotional but the make-do
piecing feels exactly right for some reason. It all comes
together into something that looks like it belongs in my home so I'm happy.
It feels like an honor to give these beautiful old blocks new life.
After coming home, I just wanted to clean. So much dust and ash, grime throughout the house and in every corner and crevasse possible. The acrid smell of smoke in most of our clothing, all our towels and of course the linens. I felt like a woman possessed. We did what we could before the power came on and then immediately after, essentially attacked the house. My husband got a small dumpster delivered and we started purging our house. It was sort of weird, but after thinking everything had been burnt to the ground and then coming to realize we had been spared? There were things that just needed to go.
Something else I've been working on as I'm easing myself
back into the quilting mode. All the decisions were previously made
for putting this part of the quilt top together. I needed an easy peasy project.
Just me and chain piecing therapy hard at work in the quilt room!
We've had help from the insurance too. A restoration company sent a three woman crew to clean for two days, a duct cleaning crew plus a carpet/upholstery cleaning crew. We had three Hepa filters running for most of two days. Volunteer help has worked on the outside clearing the burnt hillside of scorched trees and shrubs plus a charred fence. My husband is planning to pressure wash our house next month too when things start to slow down. ha ha Don't make me laugh. I think we'll leave the one blackened piece of siding for a memory. A talisman if you will. It could have been so much worse. Oh my, could it ever have been so very much worse.

The front yard is still an eyesore, but truly, it kind of was before. The pots of flowers survived (judicious watering with water bottles until the city water came back online) which makes us all smile, sitting there in the midst of absolute chaos and debris cluttered throughout the yard. But we're starting to feel like life around might be getting back to normal, although we're all pretty sure it's a 'new' normal. In our minds there's always going to be a 'before' the fire and an 'after' the fire in the chronological telling of life events. It is a huge thing in our lives to have to experience. For example, my son didn't whistle for two whole days. (Normally he only stops when he's eating or sleeping.) And now, my daughter always comes back from her evening run with damp eyes because she's running past the charred property and homes of so many we know. 

Thank you to everyone for all the wonderful care and concern. I simply don't have the time right now to respond personally to all my emails and get caught up like I wish I could. Debra, you are an absolute sweetheart for checking up on me and I'm sorry I missed out on your blog thing. Diane, I am fine, better than fine actually. Thanks for being my friend.:) Angie, I LOVE the eagle button--will add it to my blog soon, I promise.

p.s. Oh yes, I'll still be awol for awhile longer as we're leaving soon for our planned trip to Oklahoma to see our son graduate from OSUIT. Life does just keep doing its thing, doesn't it? I feel comfortable telling you as there will be people in and out of our home even in our absence. I did a quick cruise through blogland looking at various blogs and projects--lots of great stuff to see and drool over. Hopefully I can get back to my regular quilting/posting by the end of August or first part of September and of course I'm packing an applique bag for the road trip almost as I speak.*wink





38 comments:

  1. My heart and prayers are with you sweet Audrey.

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  2. Oh Audrey, thinking of you and sending hugs. Even a lucky escape can take it's toll. Try to enjoy the break away celebrating with your son. Your bloggy friends are here waiting for you to lean on us. X

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  3. Sending good thoughts to you, your family, your community hoping things move forward quickly. Congrats to your son , getting away for such a wonderful celebration right now might be a good thing. take care of yourself
    Kathie

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  4. So glad to hear from you because I've been thinking about you a lot. Take care and enjoy that grad ceremony. Its the little things, the normal things, that will help you move forward from here.

    xxx

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  5. Oh my. You poor thing. Fires are the worst. I remember Ash Wednesday as a kid, it missed our house by about 50 mts.
    I know what you are going through. I remember watching my mum get everything back together.
    Just remember to take care of yourself as well.

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  6. So glad you and your family are safe. Sounds like major progress is being made to get things back to normal. Enjoy your trip and how wonderful to be celebrating your son's accomplishments.

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  7. Ever since I read on your blog what had happened I have been thinking of you. It is a blessing your and your loved ones are safe. And things are just things, but still there are things you do get attached to (pictures, quilts, fabrics) because of the memories not because of their financial value. So I do understand it when people miss certain things. Have a really good trip to Oklahoma and we will 'hear' from you again when you are ready.

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  8. Glad to hear you are back in your home and that you and your family are safe.

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  9. so sorry to hear about your family - I'm glad you are all safe, but what a loss.
    Take care

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  10. So glad that you are able to get back online. AND that you have this road trip and celebration coming up after so much hardship. I remember quilting one day, thinking about you all and thinking that even if you had the Net right away you'd not be able to write between clean up and then being in mourning over so much loss.

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  11. I am so sorry to hear about all your heartache. Good thoughts are sent your way!

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  12. You have the most wonderfully upbeat attitude! Welcome back!

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  13. I am so glad you all are okay.. So sorry for all that was lost. It's good to hear from you and have a safe trip to your son's graduation. Congratulations to him!

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  14. It is so good to hear from you Audrey! Congratulations on your son's graduation - the trip to OK sounds like a great getaway for your family. Sending extremely good vibes your way and take care, Pam

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  15. So good to hear from you, you have been in my thoughts. I've lived thru many hurricanes, but never a fire. Can't imagine how you must feel. All I can say is that you will find a new normal. Have a great trip.

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  16. So good to hear from you! Heartwarming to read that the people in your community are supporting each other.
    Mums always look out for everyone else, so make sure you take time out to slow down and take care of yourself. Enjoy your son's graduation.

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  17. so glad to read your words. Live goes on and will get back to normal. Sorry you all had to go through this though, lovely to give your mom a quilt made from fabric from her mother, and yes she needs the every day things first then can get her quilting room in order. Have a good trip -- been thinking of you!

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  18. Audrey, my heart goes out to you. I can't imagine the loss and heartache you have been there. I believe that stitching keeps up sane when life throws chaos at us. I hope you find peace and refuge in the stitches you make. Thoughts and prayers to your mom and sister. Enjoy the trip and congrats to your son.

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  19. I did not know you had a fire raging in your area having been on vacation and not reading blogs. I am so glad you and family are safe and sound but sad that others lost so much.

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  20. I am so very sorry for all those losses. We have frequently fires here in Greece in summer and my son told me to have my quilts packed in suitcases to save them... a life's work! We almost lost our house three times! I know the feeling when you come back home and everything around is black and smoky! Take care!

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  21. Thanks for sharing. I'm sure that wasn't an easy post to write but hope it made you feel better. Glad you've picked up a needle - I find it helps to center me. Take care.

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  22. Oh Audrey...I was so SORRY and saddened to read your post!~ My heart goes out to you and your family! Hang in there and keep smiling!! Thank goodness for stitching!! Big HUG!!
    Pxo

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  23. Audrey, I have been checking your blog every day to hear how you are doing -- so glad to hear a little from you. I have been praying for your family and neighborhood. Getting to "know" you a little from reading your blog brings your town close even though I'm on the other side of the country. Hoping for more of those "flowers" popping up in the chaos for you as the days pass. sarah@forrussia.org

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  24. Phew! I'm so glad you are all OK. I hope no one in the community was harmed. How awful to lose all those things. But they're only things. To have each other, in love, is all that matters. This is so apparent in your beautiful story. Blessings to all of you.

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  25. OMG Im so sorry I missed this happening, so glad everyone is ok.
    My first thought was of your beautiful quilts, but Im sad now to hear of your Moms loss.
    It makes one think of how much unnecessary crap we all have, when really all that we own should be loved. Take care of yourselves and I thank goodness you're all safe xxx

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  26. I'm so happy to hear that you and your family are all safe, but so sorry for the fire and all the destruction, especially to your parents' home, and the mess of cleaning after a fire. I hope life goes smoothly for you and your family in the future. Take care.

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  27. Thanks for taking the time to updating everyone. We have all been so very concerned. Your spirit is remarkable and tears are there to help wash away the sadness and bring a new beginning ”after the fire".

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  28. Hang in there Audrey. I totally understand how you think about before and after the fire. Our memories are divided at the before vs. after the flood that we went through in 2010. Isn't it amazing how many people show up to help? How God keeps providing exactly what you need? Much love to you and your family. Please speak up if you have specific needs that we can help meet.
    With prayers, Pam

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  29. Audrey, I've shed a few tears reading this post. I'm relieved that you are okay but sad that those you love have lost so much and that you all are facing so many challenges right now. The baskets are so beautiful. Just like you to sew gorgeous stitches in the midst of it all. Hugs to you and much continued courage for all of you.

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  30. So glad to hear from you again, Audrey. I'm glad you're starting to put things in order. I never thought that the house would still be so affected even if it was spared from the fire. Don't worry about a reply, I'm just glad to know you're well!

    And I really love that runner, too, btw. What inspiring basket blocks!

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  31. Hi Audrey---we were evacuated after Hurricane Sandy (and before H Irene), so I know how you are feeling. Even tho my home was spared, the weeks when I didn t know if I d ever go home were very hard. I too sewed on my quilts to ease the pain and fear. I had attached bindings on three finished qults and took them to hand finish when we left. Sending healing thoughts your way...

    PS The Baskets runner is wonderful!

    lizzy at gone to the ebach

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  32. I am so glad your family are all safe and well. Though I can't imagine the heartache your Mom and Dad are going through after losing their home! It time hopefully everyone's lives will return to some kind of normalcy. You did a beautiful job on the table runner! And how wonderful that you had one of your Grandmother's quilts to share with you Mom! Truly a blessing for her!

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  33. Blessings to you and your family Audrey.

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  34. Glad to hear you are back in your home and things are slowly calming down. So sad for your Mom and sister and all they lost. Hope your trip to Oklahoma will be relaxing and refreshing.

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  35. Oh MY! What an ordeal you & your family have had - wishing the best for life to return to 'normal'.......

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  36. New joy your time away and celebrate with your son. Appreciate the update, it takes time to find the new normal - you will get there.
    Hugs to you and your community.

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  37. I can't even imagine it.
    Hope that some stitching helps restore some sense of normal activity.

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  38. I just do not even have words. I understand a little since we had a house fire when I was young. I am so glad you and your family are physically okay.
    Enjoy your getaway. Congrats to your son.

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