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Letter 8 - Phoenix Rising Print E-mail
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Phoenix Rising
Three months after the Tea Fire and the day before Valentine’s Day. It’s a day to stop and reflect.


The Santa Barbara Tea Fire
Three Month Anniversary
February 13, 2009


Should at that moment the full moon
Step forth upon the hill,
And memories hard to bear at noon,
By moonlight harder still,
Form in the shadows of the trees,---
Things that you could not spare
And live, or so you thought, yet these
All gone, and you still there,
A man no longer what he was,
Not yet the thing he planned...
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 - 1950)

Today seems particularly significant – four days after the lunar eclipse, three months after the Tea Fire and the day before Valentines’ Day.  It’s a day to stop and reflect.  The Tea Fire consumed my house, the only house that I have owned in Santa Barbara and the only house my two sons knew.  More than 220 homes were destroyed on November 13, 2008 and many of the homes also housed renters some with insurance and others without.  Fortunately, I was home that early evening as the moon was rising right above the Tea Gardens.  Periodically I would check on the fire above the hills about a mile from my house as a crow might fly. My 13 year old son and I raced to pack my car.  We saved as much as we could during nearly an hour of packing.  I pulled while he loaded that night.  We saved art, photographs, soccer trophies, some jewelry and clothes, musical instruments and computer equipment. 

I am thankful for what I have and am shocked to uncover additional memories in the remains including a heart cookie cutter and two fully intact piggy banks. In a storage container I had filled during the past year, partly in fear of fire and as a way to clean out my garage to treat myself to a new washing machine and dryer, I found a letter that my grandfather wrote to my father on the day I was born.  A daughter of a friend whose family evacuated the night of the fire and took us into their home for nearly two weeks after the fire made some unusually beautiful and meaningful sculptures from the burned, melted and mangled remnants from my life. I love them.  They inspired an idea, an idea to help other artists who lost so much more than I did that night.

A few weeks ago, I reached a point where I could no longer focus on the daily insurance e-mails and claims, the calls from the contractor on decisions to be made and shopping sprees to replenish basic living items.  It felt like the process would never end. The healing needed to begin.  Heart shaped stones from the Summerland Beach provided more inspiration!

My boys and I seemed to have enough and maybe even more than enough in such a short time.  I finally had a chance to register for FEMA (which I didn’t qualify) and then with the Red Cross and realized that most people evacuated with nothing only to find that their insurance didn’t cover their needs or the insurance delayed their payments.  What could I do?  As a board member of Art from Scrap with a mission to support art, education and the environment and with the vision of the new art pieces that were coming into my life, I offered to host an art show with the help of Art from Scrap called Phoenix Rising.  It is in the planning stages and the goal is to have a show during the six month anniversary of the Tea Fire.  We are seeking donations of art made by artists affected by the Tea Fire.  Art from Scrap will host a silent auction to benefit artists and musicians who lost materials, supplies and instruments in the Tea Fire.  For further information, please e-mail Art From Scrap at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for supporting the hundreds of people affected by the Tea Fire, three
months ago today.

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