We spent the night at the house last night. Power and water are back, and nothing is amiss. We can't even see any fire damage from our home. Even though we can't see it, we are now aware of just how close it burned to our property. There are homes adjacent to our south property line where the fire burned up to the line on the far side (from us) of their property. No homes were lost on our hill, which is something of a miracle and a testament to the hard work put in by the heroic firefighters from Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue and the Oregon Department of Forestry. ODF workers are still at the top of the hill watching for hot spots, but TVFR equipment seems all to be gone. All roads to our house are open, but we remain at a Level 2 evacuation order, indicating there is a significant risk to our area and that we should be ready to leave at a moment's notice. The fifth wheel is still packed and hitched up, although just looking at it, the risk seems low at this point.
These signs greeted us along our route home yesterday. Honestly, they made me cry.
So we can't really unpack until we're removed from Level 2 status. I'd dearly love to get out and pull some weeds, but the air is too smoky. We're advised to stay inside until air quality improves. The rain we hoped would come tomorrow is now forecast to arrive later in the week. I guess there isn't a lot for me to do other than to stay inside and sew. (Sad face, while smiling on the inside.) I will need to relocate things that were all moved to a single refrigerator and a single freezer, and so I'll do that today. Also, I might as well unpack the food since we can buy anything we need if we have to evacuate again. That seems highly unlikely at this point, however. Also, I can probably bring in the dirty clothes and the stitchery I'm working on. It's a little weird being in this evacuation limbo, but I'm not complaining.
Bear with me while I say something that is on my mind, please. Or don't. I don't want to be telling you what to do, so stay or go...your choice. Here's the thing: many people urged me to take this thing or that thing...quilts and sewing machines were high on the list. We long ago digitized most of our photos, and those are backed up daily. Mike, being an engineer, has our computer backed-up safely on a separate external drive. That was one thing we grabbed on our way out the door while we were still at Level 3. All our important documents are stored in a safe deposit box at the bank, but we did grab our passports. It took me 8 months to renew mine recently, and so it seemed worthwhile saving it. As I went over in my mind what things in the house would be devastating to lose, honestly, I couldn't think of a single thing. We love our home, but the things in it have little value when life and death is at stake...when others in southern Oregon were losing entire communities to fire. Plain and simply, I couldn't muster up any particular attachment to any of our possessions, and so we took only the things we needed to get through day-to-day life. Our family and our pets were safe. Nothing else really mattered.
So that brings me to the puzzling thoughts I've had about this. If none of this stuff matters, then why do we have it? Certainly our stuff lends convenience. It is all covered by insurance, although I'm not naive to the hassle of filing an insurance claim when one's home is a total loss. While I'd be thrilled to death at the news that a grandchild is expected, there is something freeing about having none. So much of what is in our home was saved for us from those who came before. For us, our kids are the end of the line, and they don't want my grandmother's doilies or Mike's grandmother's watercolors. Neither do they care about her silverware nor her good china. And so there's a certain level of ingratitude at all this "stuff" that troubles me. I'm still deciding what it means and what I'm going to do about it. Some of it seems too valuable to simply give away, but is it really? Now I'm not so sure. There's a big part of me that wants to look for donation sites to get rid of all of it...and soon. I'm still thinking about it, but haven't made any decisions.
With all of that said, I went over in my mind's eye the quilts I have at home, and which I'd be sad to lose. One was this quilt of my brother:
The other was this quilt I call "Two Grandmothers." It was named when I still had some hope grandchildren would be coming. And as I say that, I want to be clear, I'm not sad about the grandchildren. My relationship with my adult children would be a different one with little ones in the mix. At this point there's nothing I would change about that, even if I could. You can read the history of the Two Grandmothers quilt right here.
As for the rest of the quilts...for me, the joy is in the making and the giving. So as for the rest of it...I'm still mulling it over. There's no rush to make any decision about anything, but decisions will be made. And hopefully, someone somewhere will benefit from whatever we decide to do. As for me, I'm looking forward to lightening the load some.