Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. 

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

What will this day hold?  More letters to the Governor?  Sifting through emotional ashes?  Meetings with attorneys?  Writing insurance inventory?  Maybe a walk with the dogs?  Then falling into bed at the end of the day exhausted yet waking up before the sun far from rested?  I wonder.
Except for a few precious things, my life is unrecognizable from before.  Fortunately, I do have the same friends – and even more than before, I must say.  My friends carry me when I want to stop.  Two of my dearest have shared their letters they wrote to the Governor they both voted for yet now are dismayed to watch him shrug his shoulders and shirk his responsibility.  I am beyond touched by their words.   
I wrote and sent my first letter to Governor Hick yesterday.  I got even more “fired up” after reading the transcript to his recent Colorado Public Radio interview and wrote him immediately.  I promised him even more letters.  I have become and activist.

“If you talk to most fire experts, they believe that the prescribed burns are essential to our long term, keeping these homes that are at the interface between urban and forest, to keeping these homes safe.  You know the questions then come back to, was this a prescribed burn, did it follow the protocols. And the Bill Bass report said it followed all the protocols.”


I am not sure what report the Governor read… the report he ordered detailed the failure of the Forest Service to monitor the fire for the required 3 days after.   And, right now, we won’t even go in to the brutal irony of a prescribed burns purpose in keeping homes safe… not this one.
I shared the Margaret Mead quote with my neighbors this morning.  As a group, we have strength.  Alone, this task would be monumental – and frankly too much.  Who has time to advocate for rights when in the midst of a major shock to the system?  The time clocks are ticking with our insurance companies, some neighbors reporting their carriers have given them only 90 days (which is actually standard) to recreate their entire collection of worldly possessions in the form of an inventory list which will then be run through the calculators and slashed in value.  The dreaded inventory list is a painful process.  It requires thinking of every lost item at a time when we are not ready to think of those things.  It is forced recall when all we want to do is forget for a moment.
Our group would also like to see changes to this protocol – and as a warning to the rest of you – please take heed.  In the case of total loss, we propose not having to do this painstaking inventory, instead the agreed upon amount would be simply paid.  How about this plan?  At the time of applying for your policy, you are required to complete an inventory list.  You are given a checklist to go through your house and you take stock of all your possessions.  You photo-document anything that is beyond the normal scope – rare books, art collections, one of a kind objects, designer clothes and shoes, precious metals.  Everything is accounted for in the beginning.  You put your lists and pictures in a safe deposit box as well as keeping a copy with your insurance company.  You then agree to an insured amount – and – you update it every year.  Then, in the case of loss, you are paid for that!  What a concept, huh?
The alternative is the way we are ALL insured.  You think you know everything you own, but consider that it has all vanished, never to be seen again and now you are faced with remembering everything.  You have only a few pictures, no lists, no receipts and a very foggy memory in an overtaxed brain.  You must put a price on everything you ever owned from pencils to diamonds and you knowyou will forget things.  And you also know you will never ever receive the value of your possessions.  That’s just how insurance works.  It’s a gamble, a roll of the dice.  We have it, yet we hope to never need it.  The insurance companies bargain on this too and truthfully want you underinsured so they have to pay less when the shit hits the fan.
This isn’t even taking into consideration the value of our homes.  Most people are underinsured there as well.  And, there is the issue of increasing construction costs that your policy will NOT cover.
Many people’s initial response to, “my house burned down” is to say, “Well, you had insurance, didn’t you?”   On the receiving end, this is a jarring question.  Please remove it from your repertoire.  I too might have thought the same at one point.  Not any more.  The Governor of Colorado posed this question too.  Yuck.  He continues to demonstrate how much he really doesn’t get it.
Consider that it’s like asking someone who was just diagnosed with a terminal disease: “well you have insurance, dontya?”  Well, yes, I have insurance, but I am dying.  Of course having it is better than not having it.  I think you catch my drift now, right?
Yes, we have insurance – and now I am making spreadsheets instead of expanding my business.  I am inventorying my life instead of writing my book.  I am running numbers instead of creating a future.  There is only so much bandwidth during crisis.  My memory is shot.  My moods are erratic.  My sleep is disturbed.  My energy is low.  My world has gotten much much smaller.  I do what is right in front of me but the lists keep growing.  If it’s not written down, it does not exist.  I thought I had a full life before.  I believed I experienced stress before.  Ha!  I knew nothing of the kind.  The stuff I let get to me before is silly.  I am not saying I no longer let the day to day stressors get to me – just now we are dealing with one of the major stressors that a life can throw and I see that everything else really is minor.  And because of the level of stress we are experiencing, the day-to-day stressors seem to be the ones that throw us over the edge.
Will I remember this lesson in perspective?  Probably not completely because as humans as we start to heal, we forget.  We get caught up again in the racket and BS that we think is so important.
The lack of desire to accumulate stuff right now is probably due to this knowledge.  I watch it in my neighbors as well.  I announced free stuff from our caring community at our last meeting and people’s eyes glazed over.  We don’t want stuff.  We don’t have the physical space for it, but even more, we don’t have the emotional space for it.  But we are accumulating paperwork!  Oh boy!
Paperwork is king right now and the irony is reams and reams of paperwork that we amassed and saved over the years is all gone.  These were organized papers in file cabinets all seemingly necessary for that one daywhen we might need them.  That “one day” is here and now our life is about re-creating that mass of paperwork from memory.
Do I sound tired?  I am sure I do.  I am tired.  More tired than I ever remember being.  My mood is dark this morning and I am daunted by these tasks.  As I read this blog to David, he is wrestling with Tigger.  I think he isn’t listening, but really he is.  This morning, he sees some light.  Do I stay in my darkness or join him in his light?  My darkness is beckoning.  His light is inviting.I will stop writing and go wrestle with Tigger too.

  • nancy
    Posted at 15:26h, 02 May

    Big sigh… life is so f* stressful, I know, but our animal companions are a great blessing to us and help us through… I am always grateful for them all, my dog, my cat and my horses, even my chickens!

    • Kristen Moeller
      Posted at 17:18h, 03 May

      Can’t imagine life without them. Fer SHURE!

  • Hollye Dexter
    Posted at 15:51h, 02 May

    My friend Cheryl Mosely shared this post with me.
    I truly feel your pain, as I have been through this. In 1994, our house burned to the ground – an electrical fire in the middle of the night. We had to jump out second story windows with our four-year old son. We were not able to save our five animals. We were not insured ( renters, at the time).
    People say unbelievably insensitive things, because they just don’t get it. My least favorite comment was, “At least you’re alive, the rest is just stuff.”

    I am just completing a memoir about this four year period of my life- the fire was only the beginning.There is an entire page in my book about the “it’s just stuff” comment.

    I remember wishing I had someone I could talk to- someone who “got it”. I guess you have your community ( we were isolated). If you ever want to talk- I’m someone who has come out the other side of it, and lived to tell the tale.

    And you will, too. And maybe you will even write a book about it one day.

    Our hearts are with you.

    • Kristen Moeller
      Posted at 17:19h, 03 May

      Oh my. I am so sorry about your animals. That is beyond horrific. You are right, most people don’t get it. I didn’t get it until now either.

      I would love to read your memoir! When is it out?

    • Laurel
      Posted at 15:36h, 04 May

      Hollye, I too, am so sorry about your pets – and your ‘stuff’. I’m there too, with you and Kristen and all the others that survived a fire (High Meadow fire in 2000) –
      The comments that we have to put up with from people that ‘don’t get it’, I’m beginning to believe, are made not for our purpose, but for theirs – they can’t deal with the pain we went through(are going through) and they pacify themselves by saying things like ‘at least _______’ – It puts closure on THEIR pain, not realizing how bad it makes you (us) feel.

    • Kristen Moeller
      Posted at 16:56h, 05 May

      Our society does not like being with pain, for sure. Grief is an essential human experience. No one should tell us how long it needs to go on. Love to you both!