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Letter 5 - Crane School Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

To Crane School
Without family in town to support us, or a church community, yet an abundance of friends, our children’s school rallied to help us


Dear Crane Community,


How can we even begin to thank you for your love and support?  We are deeply touched by your kindness and generosity.  So far, William and Peter are handling the unbelievable and unexpected changes and losses with courage, strength and grace.  We are all exhausted trying to rebuild our lives, but we are also incredibly hopeful for a fresh start - a chance to rebuild from the ground up with roots firmly planted ready to sprout new life.

For more than 14 years, I have lived in fear of the perfect fire storm, zephyr like winds combined with heat and arid conditions.  Our house backs up to the canyon where I have experienced other small brush fires.  A few weeks before the Tea Fire after three months of exceedingly high water bills and a weekend of rain, I had turned off the water to save money. 

William and I had gone on a short run that afternoon and we commented on the fire sign at the top of Coyote Road that read high fire danger.  The winds were blowing like crazy – all the time a fire was brewing. Fortunately, William and I finished about 5:30 and received a phone call from Ann Fristoe (8th grade parent) to warn us of the fire.  I quickly called Andrew to pick up Peter at soccer practice. We agreed to implement our evacuation policy and regroup in front of the Biltmore. William and I raced around the house in our running shoes and sweaty outfits.

Again, because of this fear of fires, we were somewhat prepared with photos and albums in the front hall closet and a check list in my head of some of our prized possessions.  William and I were a team; we worked calmly and methodically.  I ran from room to room and dropped an assortment of items in the front entry while William loaded the  car.  After the fire someone suggested using pillowcases to gather things. We were able to pack for 45 minutes. Some of the things that made it out were photo boxes, albums, two violins and a saxophone, two hard drives (in my neighbor’s mother’s car), three lap tops, about 15-20 pieces of art (about a         year ago I had a professional photographer document every piece of art in the house), a few armfuls of clothes from each of our closets, soccer and baseball trophies, Peter’s first AYSO uniform, some ceramics from a trip to Peru about five years ago, our Jack Russell terrier, Aro and his best buddy, our cat, Einstein.  We left behind three fish in our saltwater aquarium and a house chock full of memories and Midnight, our all black cat. 

The day after the fire, we were bombarded with decisions; we needed clothes; we need temporary and permanent housing; we wanted to know if anything had survived.  We were missing one of our two cats at the time. We focused on temporary housing and a shopping spree at Nordstrom’s to outfit the boys.

Again, as luck would have it, our neighbor’s house was spared and she kindly put out food and a litter box for Midnight.  Four days after the fire, the boys and I spray painted canvases that we had purchased the day of the fire with paint we were borrowed from Gretel.  The boys blasted the canvas, a pine tree, the lawn and created two new pieces of art.  As we were finishing up late that afternoon, Midnight appeared.  We were all reunited.

More than a week has passed and we have made huge leaps to begin the process of starting over and healing.  We were pleasantly housed while we looked for more permanent homes.  The day after the fire we toured a fully furnished house in Summerland that was for sale. It was perfect in every way. I loved the ocean views, the decks, the style of furniture, but the owners wanted a lease option.  A few days later, my realtor and friend, Pippa Davis, convinced the owners from Chicago who had bought a second house in Summerland to lease it for six months.  We move in on Wednesday, November 26th.

On Saturday the 23rd, we had workers helping us to uncover whatever might have survived the crashing tile roof. Ironically, the day after I signed the lease, we found complete ceramic pieces in William’s room.  We found a handmade and hand-painted Presidio from 3rd grade, a ceramic running shoe, a big fat piggy bank that was one of his baby presents AND a ceramic hippo bank that had been on my father’s bureau when I was growing up.  The owners of the house on Whiney Road collect hippos!

By the time you read this, the boys and I will be settled in Summerland.  I can’t wait to offer you a cup of coffee or a glass of wine on the deck.  From the angry fire that night on Coyote Road to Whitney Avenue, I am hoping the ocean views will help to extinguish the anger and bring more peace, calmness, joy, and love into our lives. My head is filled with visions of the fire that night and the mass destruction of our house and the hundreds of other homes.  The roads where I have run for years are completely destroyed. The smell and the sights are overbearing.

As a family, we are so thankful that so many people were able to get out.  I met a woman over the weekend whose house was the first to go.  She had ten minutes to leave.  We are thankful for the homes that were sparred.  Most importantly, we are thankful for the feeling of community; the coming together of caring people to help one another financially and emotionally.

The Crane Music Hour provided a compliment to the healing process with the closing song, Dream a Little Dream!  For years, I have followed the yellow brick road, running along the yellow stripped lines.  I believe dreams really do come true with a pot of gold waiting at the bottom of a rainbow and a pot of gold not necessarily filled with real gold, but with all of the things that make up a rainbow. For me
all the colors of the rainbow equal love, joy, happiness, courage, peace, trust, intuition, and compassion.  May 2009 bring all of us new life, new dreams, and new happiness.  Thank you again for the deepest center of our hearts. The healing has started and our spirits can soar.

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