Wednesday, January 27, 2016


     Life is getting in the way, so I'm putting this project on hold for awhile. If you follow me on facebook, you'll know that we had a kitchen fire at our house Christmas eve. No one was hurt, and the worst of the damage is isolated to the kitchen. At first we were relieved, grabbed some clothes for the kids and thought we would be home soon. Then we started talking to the restoration company. That estimate of  weeks turned into months. They've been great helping us with all this. They took clothes, and shoes for everyone Christmas eve, and brought them back clean on Christmas day.We took the kids by the house a couple days later. Sometimes your imagination of how bad it is can be worse than reality. I think it was hard for the kids to understand at first that even though their rooms look fine, their toys, their books, the Christmas presents they had just received from us the night before, were all covered in a fine layer of soot. The smell of the smoke permeates everything, even if it looks fine. That smell doesn't easily go away. some things can be cleaned, some things can't, and some things are cheaper to replace than to clean. They will get most of their things back, just not right away.

The kitchen will be gutted down to the studs. The rest of house will need the carpets pulled up, the walls sealed and repainted, and the popcorn ceilings scrapped off. Before that, everything else needs to be sorted and removed. I've spent the last couple of weeks deciding, what to clean, what is nonsalvageable, and what just isn't worth the cost of cleaning. We've lived here 15 years, and had 4 kids in that time so it's a lot to go through. I'm also the most sentimental person in our house. All my photographs on the computer and back up disks are fine. It's easier to let go of things when you have the picture to hold on to the memory.

     I also took pictures before they started packing and sorting. It was a week before I felt okay posting pictures on facebook. Now that we are packing and making lists of things to replace, they've been a big help. I have a collection of vintage dishes on the shelf above the cabinets. Some are okay, others were broken,and others are blackened. The cookie jar I inherited from my grandmother has plastic melted over it from a framed poster that was behind it.  It's hard to remember exactly how many pieces and which brands. The auditor suggested looking in the background of old pictures to jog my memory. I think when we move back in and replace things, I'll take pictures to have just in case. Those big framed posters of impressionist art are easily replaced. That drawing of sunflowers my daughter did, is worth the effort it will take to clean.
 I've learned a few things. Plastic tubs may not protect your art supplies from fire, but they can protect them from smoke.The scrapbooks that were in plastic cases, in rooms away from the fire, are fine. The outside of the boxes will be cleaned, and the books themselves will go into an ozone room to remove any lingering smell. The art paper in packets on shelves or in cabinets would be cheaper to replace than to clean. An afgan is worth cleaning by hand, but those 10 balls of yarn aren't.

It's a long process, but in the end we'll be home again. It may be even better than before. I'm grateful to be in good health and able to tackle this. I had a chest ct in early December and the tumor that had been treated 18 months ago remains stable. Thoughts of cancer have been pushed to the back burner for now as well. I have another scan scheduled in 6 months.Before we had kids, I worked as an architectural draftsman. So  I'm back to that drawing up floorplans, and working on ideas for the new kitchen. It's easier to look at an empty house and see the possibilities. The other day I realized that now that it has been stripped, the kitchen is just a room, doesn't really need to stay in the same part of the house anymore. It made my husband and kids a little nervous when I started talking about moving rooms around not just appliances.

 We expect it to be 2-3 months before we can start moving back home. For now, without art supplies, I can't do much on the ATC project. I've decided to put it aside, and come back to it after we are settled back at home. I bought a paint-by-number kit to have something to do, and I don't usually paint but this has been relaxing. Besides the house, that's the biggest project I can tackle right now.

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