Web Design and Graphics
Engela Edwards ©1999-2012
Written and Originally Directed by
Ted Swindley - based on a true story
"Musical clearances secured and used
Directed by Chester Eitze
Popular Musical Command Engagement
Fri. and Sat. Sept. 6,
7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.
8 and Sept. 22, 2013 at 2:30 p.m.
(Note the matinees are expected to
sell out first.)
Terry Lyne Moore (Patsy Cline) and Engela
Edwards (Louise Seger) recreate their starring roles,
with the live band The Bodacious Bobcats.
$15 All seats are reserved seating.
“Always…Patsy Cline” has enjoyed great
success all over the United States, including a successful run off-Broadway.
It has been one of the most produced musicals in America according to American
“Always…Patsy Cline” is more than a tribute
to the legendary country singer. The show is based on a true story
about Cline’s friendship with a fan from Houston named Louise Seger, who
befriended the star in a Texas honky-tonk.
The musical play, complete with down home
country humor, true emotion and even some audience participation, includes
many of Patsy's unforgettable hits such as "Crazy," "I Fall to Pieces,"
"Sweet Dreams." and "Waking After Midnight"…27 songs in all. The
show's title was inspired by Cline's letters to Seger, which were consistently
signed "Love ALWAYS... Patsy Cline.”
Produced by special arrangement with Ted
to ticket page.
Announcing the Winners of the Texas Nonprofit Theatre's Blooming
Briefs: Fruit of the Plume Ten Minute Play Contest!
The winning plays were presented at the Texas Nonprofit Theatre's
at the Texas Civic Theatre Center in Tyler on Saturday, March 17,
About the winners here: http://www.texastheatres.org/conferences/BBWinners2012.shtml
In Texas It's a Yellow Rose
Photo by Mark Oristano
Joan Anderson and Dorothy Sanders
Horsing Around Cowtown
Crossing the Bridge
"A new year is like a script with
We hope you write your best year
Note from Engela: We've lost our
home in the Bastrop Wildfire. Many of my actors and students homes
burned and they are living in temporary housing, with friends and relatives,
or have had to move away entirely. No one was unaffected by the fire.
Those with homes are volunteering throughout the community. I've
suspended most EASY Theatre activity (except for fulfilling prior commitments)
so that the community can focus on the problems at hand. This will
be for an undeterminably amount of time. Currently my family
recent posts at the bottom.
On Sunday, September
4, 2011 a fire started burning in Bastrop, Texas and as of October 4, it
was still burning. It has consumed my home and the homes of 1653
of our friends and neighbors.
The following is excerpts from
emails to people I've written.
For those wishing to send
me something: I could use love, strength, patience and wisdom.
It is here to give you
a glimpse of the fire and into our lives here.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
To my homeschool support group.
I can't sleep, so I thought I'd
write. I'm practicing saying these things on paper, as a first step to
saying them aloud. Forgive the disjointed nature of my writing.
It was confirmed that our home was one of
the many here in Bastrop that was consumed by the fire. Many of my friends’
homes are gone also. The fires are still burning, and homes are still at
risk. There are some areas that the police can get into, and they are getting
word out about what structures still stand. The process is slow, and there
are many places where it still isn't safe to go. Even if getting
word that your house still stands the joy is tainted with realism and doubt,
because as our friend David a volunteer firefighter says, “We think we
have saved a house only to find three hours later that it is gone.”
There are only a handful of paid firefighters
in all of Bastrop county the rest are amazing dedicated volunteers, sometimes
fighting fires on the line for 12 hours then returning home to prepare
their own homes for evacuation.
As many of you know the high winds and the
exceptional drought fueled a fire that is already considered the worst
single fires in Texas history as far as land and property, and it is still
We don't know the numbers of lives lost.
The last I heard the number was two, but those numbers are expected to
rise as we can get into the damaged areas. But considering the size and
ferocity of the fire the number of injuries and deaths seem surprising
low, and we hope it stays that way.
Many people have asked what we need in Bastrop.
To be honest most people don't know what they need. They don't know if
they will be going home to a house or to nothing. Even the families like
mine who have received confirmation that there is nothing are still dealing
with the shock of this.
There are hundreds in shelters. There are
thousands who are staying with friends, relatives, strangers, and in hotels.
Many, like us, got out with a change of clothes
and our pets, some not even that. Some had more time.
The highs and lows have been immense. We've
all heard and said many times over the last couple of days, it is people
not things that are important. But those who have lost the most, rejoice
the most when our friends get word that the line is holding and the may
still have a home. Then we cry when the winds pickup and homes we thought
might be spared are in danger again. We've learned to notice the difference
in the colors of the smoke, and read it signals. We say a prayer for an
unknown family when we see the smoke turn black which means another house
We rejoiced when on the Tuesday, the third
day of the fire, we saw four blackhawk helicopters flying in formation
in the distance, dumping water into clouds of smoke and flames; and we
hoped that the extra man power and machines that arrived that day would
slow the growth of the monstrous fire.
We stay busy to keep from crying, but our
minds never stop. For example: I know I should be making a list of replaceable
things we had in the house for the insurance company, but instead my mind
keeps making a list of irreplaceable things that are lost. Usually tokens
that would never go on a claims adjusters list, but have memories tied
to them of people we have lost. Grandmother's bible with the family history.
Daddy's war medals that he kept in a Band-Aid tin alongside his father's
pocket watch. A letter about me written by my mother to her parents. My
grandparents had saved it for 50 years. My aunt found it and sent it to
me. I'd read it only once. Recipes handwritten by my grandmother on 5×7
index cards for me when I first got married. There are things from people
who are still here, that I'd planned to share with my children. A box of
stuff from my childhood, that included the first poems I'd ever written,
and the first drawings and letters my husband gave me when he was courting
me when we were 17. Pictures my daughter drew. Stories my son wrote. Yellow
booties both my children wore home from the hospital. A tiny hospital bracelet
which I'd joyously removed from my daughter's arm when she was two years
old after almost dying with meningitis. A possible loss that makes this
one seem tiny. A list too long to write that comes to me one item at a
time while I'm trying to do other things, and one that I'm sure I'll be
compiling for years.
We all have similar lists. We don't allow
our minds to dwell on our losses long.
We try to chase away dark thoughts with humor.
The confirmation that the house is gone,
lets us start the grieving process, allowing us to start making plans for
the future. Right now we are staying in Austin with our son Eric and daughter-in-law
Chrystina, who just this April were married in our backyard - a beautiful
5 acres that is now a bittersweet memory. They offered their bedroom, but
we insisted on a blowup mattress on their living room floor. We've had
relatives and friends offer us more comfortable accommodations; and while
we are grateful there is great comfort in being within arms reach of our
children and animals, so we stay here for now.
There have been many acts of heroism, unselfishness,
and sharing. And there will be many more. Many will simply go unnoticed
in the hugeness of this, but they tie our community tightly together, showing
us again, it is people not things that are important.
We're heading off to help with the transfer
of the pets and people from the middle school to a new location, so the
schools can start back soon.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.
Note this is a group I set up so survivors
could exchange information.
If you have been displaced by the
fire, or if you want to help, you might want to join -
Bastrop Fire Survivors Network:
subscribe or go to
“join this group.”
Saturday, September 10, 2011
(I'd put together an exhibit from the
Esquire Ballroom for the Bastrop Opera House. And this is a letter
to one of the owners of the photos and mementos. I still had in my
possession an original table and two chairs from the Esquire Ballroom,
and original photographs taken at the Esquire Ballroom from the exhibit.)
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Just got to my mail account - no spell checker
though. I am at my son's in Austin. We got out with our dogs
and guinea pig and family. We saw the smoke; there was no news on
the TV about the fire, but we heard a police siren, so we headed to the
front of our neighborhood to find out where the fire was. We weren't
allowed back in to get our stuff. But we were lucky there were people
at the entrance of the subdivision who had animals in their homes, and
they weren't allowed to go get them.
If we'd known we were evacuating the house,
we could have grab stuff. We lost everything. My mother had
a stroke and was in the hospital for 10 days, she died the Tuesday before
the fire. We came home from Florida, so that we could be there when
her ashes arrived. I actually grabbed her ashes as I walked out the
I have felt horrible, since along with my
memories I also lost yours too! Bill had scanned the exhibit photos,
so we can do reprints. I was so looking forward to showing off the
displays I'd made with your photos, and getting pictures of people with
them at the Esquire Reunion later this month, and now...I just feel horrible.
We haven't been allowed back in, but there
is only ash.
Thank you for writing. I lost all my
emails and phone numbers. So I'm glad you emailed me. We're
heading to Bastrop now, because they are letting some more people come
back into the area to look, and we hope we are in that group.
(To our homeschool support group and
to a group who offered assistance.)
We need rain and no winds.
September 14, 2011.
Until we see the lot where our home used
to stand, we won't know if we want to rebuild. We do know that there is
nothing left of the house.
Obviously we love the people here, and a
photo we received looked like there were still some trees alive on our
land, unlike some of the burn areas where there is nothing but blackness.
Looking up these things on line has proved
fruitless, so what I'd like is information. If someone has built
recently, or are you a builder who wouldn't mind telling me about how much
it would cost to rebuild? Or recommend a builder? I'd appreciate
I'll also need someone who can tell me if
the pool is salvageable. Any recommendations?
The plan now is to reopen the area where
we live on Thursday if the current winds don't make the area too dangerous.
The fire is now 70 percent contained, that means that they think they have
stopped the growth on 70 percent of the exterior of the fire. In a fire
this large that means that there are miles of the exterior that aren't
considered contained. And that the interior is still burning.
I can now get my mail at Engela@easytheatre.com
Thank you in advance,
(10 days after we left our home for the
Another note to share.
Thursday, September 14, 2011
We didn't get in to see the lot again today.
To prepare myself, I've been calling it "the lot" and not the house for
a week now. We came home early, because Bill wanted to work on the
list of EVERYTHING we had in our home for the insurance company, which
is emotionally very difficult me. Instead I was answering emails
from people who sent condolences and offers of help. I am finding
those offers of help were, in their own way, just as difficult.
It was then I realized that I've lived a
life that has allowed me to be a giver and a sharer, and I have been lucky
enough not to have to be on the receiving end. I'm finding it impossible
to accept anything except emotional support and information - two things
I prize highly. It is difficult, because I know there are people
who have greater needs than we have. Then I thought, this is EXACTLY
like my grandmother and my father who were very creative and intelligent
people who lived lives of service to their family and their community.
So while I don't have the quilt that Grandma made for my wedding, or the
afghans she knitted for my children; and I don't have the yearbook dedicated
to my father from his students when he was dying from lung cancer while
he was still teaching everyday, or the beautiful china he bought while
he was serving in Korea intended for a yet unknown future wife; I do have
this thing that reminds me of them both, this need to be of service.
I hope I pass it down to my children, because it is very valuable indeed.
We will see the remains of our home
today. I laid in bed awake for hours unable to sleep, and so I decided
to write. I've been thinking that the loss of a home, can in a very
small way be compared to a death in the family. I've avoided saying
it that way, for fear that people would think I was trivializing the loss
of a loved one, which is not my intent.
September 24, 2011
When this started, we were in a state of
denial. "There can't be a fire coming toward our house. We've
seen smoke many times before. There isn't any news on TV."
Once we'd left our home, we hoped that our home would survive, but we believed
that there was little chance. We hoped for the best, and tried to
prepare ourselves for the worst. But really we were in limbo.
When we heard that there were at least two homes on our three-block-long
street that had survived, we had a glimmer of hope that maybe they had
just missed seeing ours since it was on the end of the street. Bill
said, "It is like the house is missing in action." Not until we got
the word that it was gone could we begin the morning process. Seeing
photos made it seem real. Today is the private viewing for our family.
Then later today the insurance adjuster comes to officially declare the
home dead. Some friends have offered to come help us sift through
the remains. I'm having trouble accepting things, but I think the
job of going through the remains will be too tough to handle alone, so
accepting labor sounded good and it was a good excuse for a wake for our
So I started to figure out what would be
needed to sift through the ashes. There wasn't much on line about
how to do it. So I started a list of things I thought we'd need.
It was then I realized that survivors need old clothes and shoes that they
could wear and destroy. I'd never thought about that. (And
you know those rolling ice chests, they could be used for luggage and storage
now as most of us are in transition, and be used to keep water cold when
we go to sift through the remains of our homes.) We'd heard that
Home Depot was making survivor buckets for those sorting through the remains
of homes, so we thought we'd go there to purchase our supplies. While
we were there buying shovels, I asked an employee where the dust masks
were. She told me where they were and then asked why I needed them.
I told her that we'd lost our home to the fire. She said to drive
to the side of the building where they were giving out things to help go
through the remains, like screens. I said that we were aware of that,
but we thought we'd purchase what we needed. She said, "Please let
us help you." I told Bill that we should drive over and see what
they were giving out, so we would have an idea of what to purchase. We
realized that making a screen would have been easy before the fire, but
now we didn't have any tools to do it. Sitting in the truck in the
line of vehicles, knowing that each one represented a lost house was surreal.
There was a compassionate volunteer there to tell us to just give them
a minute, and ask how we were doing - a question that still makes me cry.
We could see other volunteers building wood-framed screens, some filling
buckets, some carrying supplies. We pulled into the space and people
quickly loaded the bed of our truck with a shovel, a flat of water, and
a bucket filled with some snacks we could eat, a pair of gloves, a dust
mask, trash bags. They were very efficient an we didn't have time
to say no.
We pulled around to the front of the store,
looked at what they had given us, and then went inside and purchased $250
dollars worth of other things that we thought we would need. The
people working there were particularly helpful, that day. We were
often approached to see if we were finding everything we needed.
When we asked where something was, they would usually say things like,
"In my store it is at 'x' place and then they would help us find it.
They had brought in employees and merchandise from other stores to meet
our needs. We met employees from Dripping Springs, and one from Marble
Falls (approximately 70 miles away) who said that his store only had seen
one family who'd lost their home in another fire near them on Labor Day
weekend. But he personally had lost a home to fire years before.
Everyone was patient, kind, and sharing.
Here is the list I made while waiting to
find out when we might get into see the lot.
Things One Might Need to Start Sifting when
the house is totally destroyed.
Including little things you probably don't
After I wrote the list above information started
coming in that said: That the ash could be toxic and not to have
children around it. There goes my wake idea.
Hair rubber bands to pull your hair back.
Something to cover your hair to keep the soot
out, like a scarf, a hat, or a bandanna.
Old clothes: recommended are long sleeve
shirts, and pants, and hard-soled shoes or work boots because of nails.
Wood framed screen.
Particle dust mask. Those with the exhaust
valve are cooler to wear.
Here it is expected to reach 100 degrees again
today, so lots of ice and something to put it in.
There aren't any rest rooms, so hopefully in
your neighborhood there might be some houses standing and the neighbors
would open their rest room to you. I'm hopping there will be temporary
toilets set up in our neighborhood, because we'll be dirty and would hate
spread the soot into a neighbors home.
I bought baby wipes to help clean up afterwards
since there is no water.
Plastic to protect your car when you leave,
because you'll be covered with soot. Large trash bags work well.
Maybe a wheelbarrow, you'll know more after
you see your home.
When it gets to real cleaning, you may need
a chain saw for branches, but Logging is the second most dangerous profession
in America, so we won't be taking down any 80-foot-tall trees.
Others wrote a reminder to purchase
a dual filter breathing mask. And reminded us that 9/11 rescuers
and victims have a higher cancer rate. You know the pesticides that
were in your garage or shed are now mixed in the ashes. Mercury and asbestos,
lead paints, etc. are all possibilities, especially if your house is older...
These are mixed in the ashes. Also, all of these things from your
neighbor's house can be in your ashes.
Someone sent a reminder to stay clear of remaining
rock or brick walls that were previously held up by being attached to the
house. They can fall in the wind.
Rachel Ross Youngbood sent this info which
she found on the Bastrop County website, SOMEWHERE. They are suggesting
that you NOT take children into areas with ash or debris until cleanup
WHO SHOULD NOT WEAR RESPIRATORS?
• People with heart or lung disease should
consult with their doctor before using a respirator.
• N-95 masks are not designed for children,
who are in a critical period of development when toxic exposures can have
a profound effects. Children should not be in the area with ash and damaged
structures until cleanup is completed.
• People with facial hair in the area
where there respirator touches the face (unless they shave those areas).
USING THE RESPIRATOR (FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS
PROVIDED WITH THE MASK)
Choose a size that will fit over your nose
and under your chin. It should seal tightly to your face.
Place the respirator over your nose and under
your chin, with one strap below the ears and one strap above. If you are
wearing a hat, it should go over the straps.
Pinch the metal nose clip tightly over the
top of your nose.
Discard the respirator when: (1) it becomes
more difficult to breathe through it or (2) if the inside becomes dirty.
Use a fresh respirator each day.
COMPLICATIONS AND HAZARDS
It takes more effort to breathe through a
respirator. It can also increase the risk of heat stress. If you are working
outside while wearing a respirator, take frequent breaks, especially if
you are working in the heat or doing heavy work.
If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseated,
tell someone, go to a less smoky area, remove your respirator, and get
Respirators may help reduce exposure to airborne
contaminants, but they do not eliminate the risk of exposure, symptoms
Anyone with asbestos, lead, or mold in their
house and might be exposed to these toxic substance and/or other hazardous
materials should consult a professional.
N-95 respirators or other particulate respirators
are not designed or certified for use against hazardous levels of gases
and vapors, such as carbon monoxide, or for areas with low oxygen levels.
Masks have been obtained from different manufacturers.
Please follow instructions provided with mask.
I saw Susan's post about needing
volunteers to help sift through the fire damage today.
Oct. 4, 2011 Tuesday
After many days of sifting through the rubble
that was once my home before our cleanup could begin, I'd like to add some
things to the list of what volunteers or home owners might need.
After doing it, I have very different ideas than while we were just anticipating
Absolutely the most helpful items were:
99 cent Fiskars three-pronged hand-held
gardening cultivator. It was plastic and lightweight, strong enough
to get through the debris but didn't break the little things we found.
Very thick leather gloves. The cheapest
ones had the thickest leather. About $2.
Something to sit on. We tried those
little pocket chairs "as seen on TV" they didn't work because it was too
hard to balance on them and dig, but an upside down bucket worked, would
have been more comfortable with padding.
Little boxes to put the things you find
into. (Wish I'd brought newspaper to wrap them.)
Baby wipes to clean yourself a little.
Ice chest with ice & water.
Hats, sunscreen, thick blue jeans.
We wore tennis shoes, because that is what
If you can bring a lawn chair for your breaks
you'll appreciate it.
A pocket-sized digital camera.
And a plastic garbage bag to sit upon on
the way home to protect the seats in your car.
We never used the sifter that volunteers
had built for us. I assume that if there had been water poured on
a typical house fire or if there had been rain, the water might dry and
encase items in ash and then you might use a sifter and water to help find
and release those items. But I can only assume this, because there
wasn't any water or rain on our fire.
Tip: Don't walk in debris, because
you could crush the little items you'll find under the crumbled drywall
that was once on the ceiling and walls. Start on the edges and work
your way into the middle.
It is best if the homeowner can point to
the most important places to search first. Remember that if you're
looking for something that was on a shelf, you should look not just below
where the shelf stood, but behind and in front and beside where the shelf
once stood. The reason is that it may have toppled before it burned.
And by "behind" I mean in the next room area, too. We found things
that were on top of the shelf in the dining room in the garage. Things
that were on the second floor, if they survived will be in the same general
area on the first floor, but they may have rolled or tumbled as they fell.
The things that survived were mostly small
ceramic pieces. Out of a 2400 square feet of house and 500 square
feet of a packed garage, I'd say we retrieved about 4 cubic feet of items.
We only had that much because I had some ceramic ornaments and jewelry
stored in the garage from the 1980s when I was a ceramic artist.
And there was only that much, because it was easier to just put things
in a box than to sit on the site and make decisions of whether I should
keep something or not.
We took photos of some things to help us
remember to put them on the contents list for our insurance.
From the yard there was some outdoor pottery
pots that survived, and some of the rocks we'd collected. Which meant
we needed a storage place to keep them. Strange to need storage.
There were some surprising finds in the house.
In the center of my walk-in closet just feet
from where the glass of the shower door and the huge bathroom mirrors had
melted, in the middle of a layer of rubble, I found a tiny handblown-glass
reindeer in perfect condition. It had once been wrapped in tissue
paper and set inside partitions of a handmade curio cabinet that my husband
made for me when we were dating. It had been on the top shelf of
my closet. I actually missed the glass ornament while digging with
my little plastic handheld gardening cultivator, and had moved it to the
pile of debris beside me before I noticed it.
For those of you who read my earlier post.
I had no idea the location of the cardboard box I'd taken from my parents
home that held my grandfather's pocket watch and a Band-Aid box with my
father's medals and ribbons, but I stepped over the debris and went directly
to the spot where it lay, and dug them up. I guess my subconscious
mind knew, or I was divinely inspired. It was a small miracle either
way. The tin was black, and I only briefly looked inside. The
ribbons are ash, but the Marine pin was still recognizable. I only
opened the pocket watch box long enough to confirm the contents and film
them. It was only a semblance of what was once there, but it existed
unlike so many other things. Right below was the head of a China
doll that had belonged to my great grandmother, that my grandmother had
given to my mother. My mother had made a body for it and clothes
and given it to me for my children. I'd forgotten that it had been
in the box.
There were some disappointment too.
We never found Bill's wedding ring. There were three sets of family
silver. I had envisioned a pool of silver where the boxes had been, but
found only ruminants of a few pieces. There wasn't a single usable
or displayable piece of my father's china, but I chose the best of a couple
of cups and saucers for my children in case they want them. Considering
the dishes had been in a very heavy wooden china hutch, that had totally
disappeared along with the roof and asphalt shingles all held together
with metal nails, it was nice to find something.
Still at my son's and daughterinlaw,
still cleaning, and still don't know what we'll do. I haven't written
for awhile, because there is so much to do, that writing is a luxury and
indulgence. I've kept some notes and thought I'd write out a couple, so
that I could get rid of them today.
We couldn't grieve or make any decisions
in that time while our house was MIA, missing in action, (maybe it stood
- maybe it didn't). So everyday we'd drive the 33 miles from our
son's house in Austin where we were staying to Bastrop. We'd do volunteer
work; we'd go searching for any information; and sometimes we'd just stand
and watch the smoke and talk with others who were experiencing the same
things. We were thankful when a friend got us info about whether
our home was standing so that we could begin the process of morning.
The day the area to the west of us was reopened, we drove through it, and
it made us feel good to see that there was still a neighborhood there,
even if the people who lived there were still without power and water and
they were experiencing having to deal with smoke damage and refrigerators
and freezers that had been without power for days, it would appear to others
to be a normal neighborhood very soon.
One of the days, I was reminded in a minor
way of another event in our families life. Just days before our daughter
Rachel turned two, she was admitted to the children's hospital in Austin,
where she spent 18 days close to death with spinal meningitis. Our
family spent the next year in recovery. It was during this time that
I noted that the first time your child can lift her head, turn over, crawl,
walk, talk, or any of the other expected developmental milestones, it is
a joyous occasion; you laugh, you note it, and you share the news with
friends, family, and even strangers. The second time your child is
able to lift her head, turn over, crawl, walk, or talk you cry and say
a prayer of thanks, because it is an unexpected miracle.
While we recover from this damaging fire,
we find small things that bring us joy:
Bill said that he was looking forward to seeing
more first as the life came back to the land. One the third day after
we'd been allowed back, after a particularly long hot day of work, after
we'd rescued very little from the ash, we sat in the van before driving
away, after taking one last look for the day, I said, "It still feels like
home," and Bill agreed as he proceeded to take the house key and truck
key from his key chain. I could not remove the house key from my
ring and used the excuse that the key is actually a little flashlight that
I might need, but I know that I'm just not ready yet. When we first
arrived at the home site, in addition to the burned trees that still stood
and the holes where trees once stood, there were still tall trees around
that were green. But as we worked everyday, we watched the trees turn brown,
and the black burned ground slowly turn a reddish brown as the needles
dropped from the tall pines. Those first aerial photos that showed
the sadly burned home site, had also showed a hope-filling green covering
over a lot of our five acres. But that hope was slowly receding as
we watched the needles fall. I thought how stupid of me to think
that a green pine tree was a living pine tree, after all it takes a long
time for Christmas trees to die and turn brown after being cut.
A tiny blade of grass already emerging from
a chard area in the front yard on the first day we saw our home.
The first roadrunner.
The day some birds returned.
The day the birds started singing again.
Even the squirrels who once teased our dog and
had started a love/hate relationship with us when they tore through the
cushions on all our outdoor furniture to steal the stuffing to line their
nests, they brought us joy the first time we saw one return to our yard.
There had been a spiny lizard who was in the
flower bed by our front door the day we moved into our home four-and-a-half
years ago. Through the years we've enjoyed her presence, we felt
privileged to see her clutch of tiny eggs before she buried them, and we
were often started by her as she noisily left her sunning spot on the rocks
when we walked past. We were pleasantly surprised to see she'd survived.
Leaves have started to sprout at the bases of
the young fig trees that surrounded the mother fig tree who had fed the
squirrels and bird, and shared her fruit with us. .
Leaves have also started sprouting at the base
of one of the crepe myrtles.
After days of sifting, sorting through, then
shoveling the rubble (which I'll write about later), there were moments
of entertainment as each of us pushed down the partial rock walls, before
we could spend still more days of separating the limestone rocks from the
brittle mortar that had once secured it. We could envision the new
garden walls that these rocks might someday make.
One day as we arrived at the lot, we passed
a crew of men and women digging out the underground remains of a tree that
still smoldered. Using axes, shovels, a water truck, and a lot of
effort, they wet the coals that had been burning for weeks, before
those embers could ignite the now falling pine needles and spread the fire
once again. I felt the need to take pictures, so I could get close
enough to the firefighters to say thank you. Then I left them to
their work before I started to cry, so they wouldn't see. They put
out the fire and quickly moved on to the next place somewhere within the
very large perimeter of the fire.
A few days ago, a helicopter carrying a bucket
of water, flying so low that we could see the water leaking from it, added
its noise to constant sound of chain saws that have been removing trees
both green and brown from the area for weeks. Unlike the joy of seeing
the arrival of the helicopters on the third day of the fire, this helicopter
brought a little fear and sadness at the thought that even though it had
been almost a month there were still fires to fight and they were so close.
There is simply too much to comprehend and
do. For us the first thing to do is to get the house site safe.
Today I'm looking for ideas and suggestions.
We haven't decided if we'll rebuild.
We want to see if any trees survive, and I still worry about how toxic
the area will be. Even with insurance we've taken a huge financial
loss on the house, land, and contents. If we do rebuild and
ever need to sell the house, we believe it would be difficult to sell,
and that we could recoup the cost of the new house. Our neighbors
are facing these same problems. The ones we've been able to talk
with have said they aren't rebuilding. Simply the cost of taking
down the dead trees is more than the cost of buying a new lot that wasn't
damaged by fire.
One of our favorite things about our home
was the pool and hot tub. Today's goal is to get the pool and hot
tub closed down, so it will be safe for wandering animals and people, and
still be able to be used one day if we decide to rebuild. The are
no fences around the pool because they burned. There is no electricity
and no water. In fact no electric meter loop and no water lines to
the pool. Once the water lines to the pool pump were melted by the
fire, the water level lowered to the level of the pump, and over the last
month with many days over 100 degrees, there has been the normal evaporation.
Some of the jets melted and so has the skimmer. Eight edge tiles
feel off. The rocks that were around one side of the pool were damaged,
and chard limbs from burned trees feel into the pool, but it looks like
the shell of the pool is still intact. Right now we're just throwing
in chlorine and mosquito dunks.
Some people have said to just fence it and
cover it. Some people have said to just fence it and have people
come by periodically and add chlorine to keep the mosquitoes from breading.
Bill thinks either of those ideas would be dangerous to deer and children
if they were to return to the area. It may be more than a year before
we know what trees survived, and even longer before we could rebuild.
He thinks it would be safer to rent a generator and pump, then pump out
the water, remove the organic debris that has fallen into the pool, somehow
cover the drains, jets, and skimmer, and then fill the pool with sand.
Because of the terrain, there isn't away to get trucks back to the pool,
so we'll have to have someone dump the sand in the front, then we'd shovel
it into wheelbarrows, and take it back to the pool. It is a whole
lot of sand. Where would we get it? Do I have friends or contacts
with sand or pool knowledge? Does sand and water weigh more than
water alone, and if so would filling it with sand possibly damage the shell
I've spent more time writing than I intended,
and need to now go for the second time to get my birth certificate replaced.
They couldn't find me the first time. Which is kind of funny in a
Well we've looked at houses and
spaces in person and on line until we are weary of looking. In the
beginning our search was mostly confined to Bastrop, then Central Texas,
then Texas, then New Mexico, then Colorado, then California and Nevada,
and currently we are in Hawaii.