9/14/20

Welcome Home

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.


The only damage we found at home was that our dappled willow had fallen over.


Some critter, most likely a deer, had rubbed its antlers against the trunk and pushed it over. (Shakes fist at any critters watching.)


You might remember this happened to our Golden Chain tree while we were gone last winter. Here's the damage to the Golden Chain tree:


The Golden Chain tree was staked up, and it seems as if it will be fine. Mike staked up the Dappled Willow yesterday, gave it a good drink of water, and we're hopeful it will survive too. 

In other tree news, our maple tree is beginning to change. It seems the vegetation in our area has no worry or idea how close it came to being incinerated. It just goes on about its life cycle without a care in the world.


Here's a closer-up view of the leaves.


The air is still smoky, but it doesn't bother Sadie. While Smitty was inside the house napping on his kitty pole, she grabbed the catbird seat in the catio for her napping pleasure.


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.

30 comments:

djquilting said...

I agree Barbara. We have been slowly going through things to disperse or give away. This comes from going through this process several times with family and friends. I don't want to put this on my kids.

Pattie said...

Are you still looking for the history of these embroidery patterns? They are by Ruby Short McKim and are a collection called Rhymeland Quilt. I have these patterns in my collection and hope to make them someday. Here's the link: http://www.mckimstudios.com/04treasures/quiltspecial/quiltspecial.shtml

justmakeitfit@gmail.com said...

Barbara, I am so grateful you are ok and your home was spared. You've made some valuable points, ones which I've been thinking about myself these last couple of years. I've already started the work of downsizing. I just don't want all the stuff. It seems to add weight. There are very few things in my house that I'd keep in the event of a similar situation. This is Robin from Maryland.

Linda M @ Pieceful Kingdom said...

I'm glad you are home safe. I totally understand what you are going through with all the "stuff". I was thinking about what I would grab if we had to evacuate and it would be us and the cat, the file boxes/checkbook that I have current life stuff in, the fire safe box with our policies and some important papers in, and the external backup drive (probably hubby's lap top too). Beyond that I couldn't think of another thing I would be upset to lose. After my MIL died last year and we cleared out her house, I donated so much of her stuff. None of the grandkids wanted it, and like you, my daughter and nieces/nephew are grown, not married, and not planning on kids. After all the stuff I saw my MIL leave behind I said screw it and started donating all of the family stuff I had that my daughter didn't want. It was a great relief to have all of that extra stuff out of the house. It was nice to look back at some of the items, but I was happy to pass them along where someone else could use it.

Cathy Smith said...

Many years ago my sister lost her house to a wildfire. She was devastated. My house suffered major damage from the '94 earthquake in southern California. The earthquake was my eye opener. Luckily, I had done my weekly grocery shopping just two days prior. All of the grocery stores were cleaned out as soon as marshal law was lifted.

A few days after the earthquake I was out on the street talking with my 75 year old neighbor Ollie. She commented how you miss the simple things. She was out of cream for her coffee! I told her to wait a minute and dashed into the house and grabbed a half gallon of non-fat milk. I apologized that it wasn't cream :-) You should have seen the expression of joy on her face!

Right then and there I realized people are more important than possessions. While "family heirlooms" may be lost you always have the memories in your heart. You can't replace people.

Quilting Babcia said...

I think you've lightened your load considerably just going through this thought process and coming to the conclusions that you have. We've never had to face a total loss, and I pray we never do, but I have given thought to what I would grab very quickly if a fire or other catastrophic event occurred. And you're so right about the next generation, with few exceptions they don't want our "stuff." Other than the few quilts I have here, having already given away more than 90 percent of them, there's not much in the way of material items to cherish for my 74 years of endeavor. Your portrait quilt of your brother is certainly worthy of displaying somewhere that it can be reached at a moment's notice. So many others are too, but we all know the old saying(song?) "you can't take it with you." So glad you're home again, hopefully to not need to evacuate again.

eva said...

Hi Barbara...I enjoy reading your posts and today's really hit a chord in me...I'm at that point in my life as well...have been decluttering throughout this covid-19 period in time. Have one daughter who states that she doesn't want any of the stuff either. A friend's children have told her that when she goes, they are hiring a dumpster and it's all going in there. Stay safe!

Lyndsey said...

What would I grab in an emergency evacuation, my handbag, the small box with the passports and other important paperwork, all family members in the house plus Scamp and Picasso. Job done. I love having things around me that are important to me at that point in time but every so often I re-look at things and move those that I no longer love, want or need on. It's a continual process. I have found I need to check with my children before I throw or donate anything as they often want items I wouldn't expect them to want. My parents followed this system and so do my children. As we travel through life our views change and so we need to keep our belongings up to date to fit our lifestyle.

Cathy said...

First, it’s a relief to us, your online friends, that you are home safely and everything and everyone is fine. I hope your rains come sooner rather than later to cleanse the air and give Mother Nature a well-deserved drink.

Your thoughts about possessions echo mine - and apparently the thoughts of many of us at this stage of life. I wonder if there have been other generations of “plenty” whose heirs don’t want the family “stuff”. I can remember being 7-ish and starting a white box (marked in red crayon) “Things I will save for my children”. The first contributions were a plastic Christmas ornament and a shell. I still have that box. (Why?) I’ve always had curiosity and interest in the family past, and it’s surprised me that subsequent generations (by and large) do not. Or at least their interest doesn’t extend to possessions.

I also have sets of China and crystal, linens and doilies, handkerchiefs, ad nauseam, that need to be unloaded. Our kids want very little, if any, of it, but in truth they have taken some (China cup sets, monogrammed silverware). I hardly know where to begin unloading it, but it’s something I must do. I feel it’s more important to be turning my attention to digitizing the old pictures and genealogy Stuff. I will say, however, that most of the kids and grands just LOVE the quilts!

Katie said...

I'm so glad you and your hubby and the kitties are safe. And glad, too, that your home was spared. Your thoughts about "stuff" resemble mine, though my process getting there was different. Don't get me wrong, there are still things I enjoy having around, even if they are only pleasing to look at. But I watched my parents move houses maybe 10 years ago, from a house I grew up in and they lived in maybe 30 years. I think a lot got donated or thrown out, but I was still overwhelmed by the amount of "stuff" they had. And it made me start to consider purchases more carefully and allow me to be less clingy to things when filling a donation box. My mom is one to go shopping and buy a knick-knack because it is cute or suits the season. I have learned to think about where it would go, if I am likely to be diligent about displaying it in a timely manner, and whether I really need it. More often than not, my thoughts lead me to setting it down and walking away. I dread the inevitable cleaning of their home (hopefully many years from now!), as I know how meaningful some of these "things" are to them, my mom in particular. But I respect that everyone has their own process. (My mother-in-law is so much the opposite, she has called us asking for details of weddings because she threw out the invitation before the event!) And if I had to evacuate, kitties go first. Then the hubby! :) Everything else? I'm fortunate enough to have the savings to replace all but heirlooms, and even those are less important than life. Keep us posted on the fire situation, though I hope you get to remain home safely and the air quality improves soon.

Janarama said...

Seeing that Welcome Home sign would have made me cry too. So glad to hear you're home and hopefully safe from any more fire threats. You must have some special angels watching over you and your property for it to have been stopped at your property line. You are so right about what to take in an emergency. Stuff is just that ... stuff. Stuff can be replaced, but lives cannot. When decluttering, it's just so hard to get rid of some "stuff", but over time it gets easier to let go of something you kept from the last declutter session. Welcome Home Stanbro Family.

Shirley said...

So glad you are home and all is safe. I chuckled reading your comments about stuff. Several years ago, I sold my house and moved closer to my daughter and her family. Went from 1,850 square feet to an apartment of 1,250 square feet. I was going to purchase a condo but haven't found anything that I like as well as my apartment. I gave away so much stuff and do not miss one single thing.

Lynette said...

I am so glad to hear that your house is OK!! Those signs would make me sob, too. Your poor willow tree, though! I hope it can still be staked up and recover?

gpc said...

You raise good questions and thoughts that I also need to grapple with. I adore my grandchildren beyond all reason, but you are right, they totally change the relationship with your own child, in good ways and in ways that are a loss. But, in any case, we have long established that my grandchildren (and children) have no interest in the treasures I have made and collected. My DIL, whom I love as if she were my birth child, has told me flatly that if I were to die and leave my belongings to them, they would go into a dumpster because they don't have time to sort through. And since I've already offered them everything I own, they know there is nothing there that they want. It is, as you suggest, freeing in a sort of self-pitying way (I am laughing here). And so I felt guilty when I 'claimed' one of your discards, but as my husband points out, I will think of you whenever I see it, so it will have its value.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Hugely relieved to know that you're back home and that the situation is improving. I agree with you that we put too much emphasis on material 'things' when really the most important thing is our family (people AND pets). As long as we have those we can survive pretty much anything. For me having family photos is important but I have them backed up with digital copies so there's no fear of them being lost. Many of the things we've been holding onto thinking that future generations would like them are really just glorified clutter. Our kids simply do not want any of it. I have told our boys that should anything happen to me/us that they should open my sewing room up to my friends and let them take what they want. The rest will no doubt be heading to the garbage and that's okay with me. I'm trying my best to use up what I have so there isn't as much for them to have to deal with.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I am so glad you are safely home and things are improving - although sorry the rain is delayed. I am not a keeper of 'things' and have passed a lot of what my kids wanted on to them = why wait. I have only my antique family heirloom quilts seperately insured, the rest are covered under homeowners - and I plan on passing those heirlooms to my daughter in the next year or so. Things are things - lives are precious.

Anonymous said...

So glad you are back home and no damage occurred to your home or property....hopefully your tree will revive...
Back when all the COVID19 stay at home orders were given, we spent a lot of time going through all of our closets and drawers, cleaning out and purging... when we first started, it was hard to let things go...then, at some point, a realization occurred that it was “just stuff”...once that happened the whole process became easier and was so freeing...we have been at this house for 35 years so there was a lot of accumulation during that time...I am so glad we had a chance to go through this exercise!!
While we don’t have wildfires here in Virginia, we do have experience with dealing with hurricanes, and even more exposure at our beach house on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. When we bought the beach house back in 1992, a friend asked how we could deal with the possibility that a hurricane could take it away. My answer then still stands today...we have nothing in that house that carries any sentimental value to us. If we should lose that house to a storm, would I be upset? Absolutely....would I be devastated? Probably not, because at the end of the day, it’s just a building that can be rebuilt.
After our purging process, we have reduced the amount of things that are really important to us, and could easily be packed up on short notice...it is a great relief to have that feeling.
Positive thoughts and prayers that the worst is over and you can get back to normalcy, or as nearly normal as is possible with coronavirus still with us.... Take care!
Sandra B
scb304@juno.com

Anonymous said...

So glad you still have a home to go to, and are safe at present. Have to agree 100% regarding possessions. As I've got older my memory is helping me to get rid of the overload - I look at stuff and wonder why I'm still keeping it......what did I want this for, and who one earth needs this? -- you get the idea. Scriptures tell us to store up our treasures in heaven - better to help our fellow man than have many things, so that's something that makes more sense to me as I get older. I'm making things because I enjoy doing so, then I can give them away instead of hanging onto them when I have no need. Your blog is one I enjoy very much, todays was no exception, lots to think about, thank you Barbara. Stay safe. Regards, Elaine (England)

Chase Klop said...

So glad that you were able to come home and have a home to come home to! Years ago we moved for my husband’s job. We left a large home with a full basement to a smaller home with no basement. We had to part with a lot of things. While not too many had sentimental attachments, I’ve learned through the years that I have never missed any of the things that we got rid of! On another note, my MIL sent us a box of old family pictures. I asked her who the people were and she didn’t know. She just didn’t want them any longer. My husband and I went through them and we didn’t keep many. Since we didn’t know who they were, we knew our son wouldn’t want them either. I’d say start small and get rid of a few things. See how that goes. It may just become easier for you to part with things. I’d say it’s a bit of a journey!

piecefulwendy said...

I can imagine the emotions you are feeling, driving home and seeing the welcome home sign would've made me cry too. What an incredible task those workers had before them, to work against the spread of those fires. I, too, have the handed down things and need to go through them with my kids to see if they want any. If not, then I need to start getting rid of some of it. It's just too much. Hope you are home to stay, without any threat of more fires. So glad all is well for you and your neighbors on the hill.

MissPat said...

The Welcome Home signs from the fire service are so touching. I'm glad you are safely home and the only damage was the willow and that not caused by the fire. I've lost so many small trees and shrubs to the deer that I've stopped planting any more. There are 4 trees that suffered deer antler damage that have survived, several looking wonky because of the damage and all are encased in wire cages.
Like so many others have replied, your reflections on "stuff" and what to do with it hit home. I am not burdened with family heirlooms or even family "stuff", but have a houseful of my own stuff. I know the grown children don't want any of it. Only one lives locally, the other three are in FL and TX. Finding places to donate the stuff has become more difficult with Covid closing down many locations and the churches not running rummage sales. I do hate throwing things in the landfill, but what do you do with broken small appliances and worn out clothing.
So here's my pledge, I will begin to get rid of the easy stuff like old magazines, dirty nursery pots, clothing not worn in years and whatever else I come across. It's a start.
OH, and we are having milky skies that they say are from the smoke from the West.
Pat

Charlotte M. said...

All very true Barbara. When we moved from our NC home of 25 years to California 3 1/2 years ago, we got rid of lots of stuff. Whatever the kids didn't want or need, we donated to our local thrift store. It was not only freeing, the more you get rid of, the easier it is to do. And my children thanked me for not leaving all that crap for them to deal with when I'm gone. We got rid of about half of our household clutter. We are trying not to accumulate more, except for sewing stuff of course.

neesa said...

I’m so glad you and your home came through. I know about the stuff. We married ten years ago and had to “release” lots of stuff. Then moved to a retirement community 3 years ago. I have lots of my Grandmothers furniture and doilies, aprons and such. No one wants it. I finally just recently decided I could/should cut it up and create something new with it. If no one wants that when I’m gone then so be it. I will have had the pleasure of doing it. (Think a grandmothers apron quilt, lace on crazy quilts, etc. ). Going to enjoy the dishes and corner cupboard till I’m gone. My son can figure that out.

QuiltShopGal said...

Clearly, there is no place like home. I'm truly happy to know you are home, safe and all is well (minus the knocked down the tree). Stay safe. Level 1 will come soon, then no warnings at all.

Sandra W said...

I enjoyed your thoughts on possessions. If I had to do it over again I don't think I'd keep photos or collected art. My mother died last year and she was keen for me to keep a lot of her stuff. I kept some photos and a small bit of china. The rest went to Goodwill. Trying to sell anything is a pain. It's worth practically nothing and if you do it from home you are inviting a lot of strangers into your home, which may not always be safe. Fabric is an issue for me. I have enough for two more lifetimes. I've given a lot away but keep adding to the collection. Fabric does bring me joy--the other stuff not so much. It's a dilemma. I give a few quilts to my kids but mostly I keep them.

works4me said...

I'm so glad you are safe. And, of course, prepared to evacuate if needed.
Kitties and laptop would be what we would take.
We moved from a large house to a relatively large condo a year ago and I had to make a lot of decisions about sentimental items. It's amazing how much you can part with when you have to. I even got rid of a LOT of fabric.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Maybe the Pawtrits of the kitties would be keepers. I can't imagine what I'd grab and what I'd leave if I was in your position.

Rosyquilter said...

Interesting reading the comments that have been made. I echo all of them! I think it was the way you worded your message about possession that had meaning to us but not to our kids that got my attention. In the last two years, my sister and I have had to go through our parents possession after their death and it is hard to let go of things that meant a lot of them but not so much to us and for sure, not our kids or any other relatives.
When we moved 10 years ago, we managed to get rid of a lot of our valued possessions but certainly, not all. But in the few years, we don't do the big family/friends dinners anymore and the good china doesn't get taken out. We are in AZ for the winter and none of the Christmas decor gets unpacked. And, even cleaning supplies are abundant that never get used.
So, you raised a good thinking point and while we don't need to rush around and purge our homes, I do think that going through our organizing and cleaning routines with a bit more energy and determination to get rid of things never used would be a good thing. I was thinking of dating some of my cleaning supplies and also being a little more ruthless when I go through the summer clothes to put them away. If I haven't worn it in the last 5 years, will I ever?
Thanks for the mental push! So easy to ignore items and remember how much we used to use them... they need to move to a new home!

Stephanie said...

I've just had the chance to catch up with your writings and am relieved to hear all is well. This particular post is great in that Covid has made many of us evaluate "stuff" and it's "worth", myself included. I wanted to touch on the Grandchild aspect. I've never, ever had the inclination to bear children and when I met my Husband and he asked me very early on my thoughts on children. I felt horrible to say that I did not want them, with relief, neither did he. Soon after we were married the pressure from others to have children was always there. I always felt horrible to try and have to explain to others that simply we did not want any. My Mom even says now, even though she always wanted for Grandchildren, she too feels the relief of not having that responsibility. I don't know if my words help or not, but sometimes people just know they aren't meant to be parents (no disrespect to anyone suffering with infertility). Phew that was cathartic for me so, thanks!

Kate said...

I'm massively behind on blog reading, so it's good to hear that your community missed the worst of the fires. Having to evacuate one's home does make you think. We were southeast of Houston when Rita hit. When we left, the forecast was for a direct hit in the Houston area. I can remember leaving the house and thinking it might not be there when we got back. What you take does make you think about what's important to you (we had a 5 year old at the time, so her take on important was definitely different). I had to evaluate without My Guy. He was part of the shut down crew, so couldn't leave until the refinery was shuttered. He spent 12 hours on beltway 8 in Houston and ran out of gas before he got to safety. Longest night I've ever spent in my life. So yes it's the people that matter the most. We lucked out in that Rita came ashore much farther east, but that evacuation is not something we've ever forgotten.