I did it.  I read the report.  And, now I feel sick.  I smell my own sweat in my stress reaction. I will share some of what I read.  And, some of what I heard at the Town Hall meeting last night. 
But first, I must say that there are those who are already saying we mountain residents should buck up.  We chose to live in a fire zone so what are we whining about.  I have actually seen comments such as these.  To that I say, when it’s an act of God, a fire is still devastating – and yes, we live here knowing this is a possibility.  We, like many of our neighbors had a “defensible space” around our home.  And, ironically, we received a grant from the Forest Service to preform this work.  They approved the thinning and marked trees that needed to go.  We also had a metal roof, fire resistant decking and metal siding on 1/3 of our house.  This fire was not an act of God.  It was an act of human error - and bureaucracy at it’s finest.   So yes, we are a little mad. 
I must remember, it’s always the ignorant that spout off at the mouth and are critical of a victim’s response.  We are all familiar with the “blame the rape victim” reaction.  “Well, she shouldn’t have been wearing such a short skirt and walking the streets by herself…”  These morons are to be expected.  When they turn up in our government, it is a little more disturbing. 
Yes, it was a good idea to take a walk with my husband and dogs this morning, however I missed my morning writing.  It is the best way to start the day for me.  By the time this many hours in the day have passed, I have moved through many spaces.  I like the purity of the morning.  I write what’s there to write.  I write what jumps out from the day before.  I write what I need to say – and what I need to have heard.  I am most fresh in the morning.  Now at 3:55pm, I am far from fresh.  I have had laughter, many tears, and some screaming today.
The talented Amy Johnson photographed me at the site today.  I wanted grittier pictures for my professional persona.  Pictures that capture the emerging me – whoever that will be.  Some of the pictures we took today may not make ‘sense’ like me hysterically laughing at my friend Lainie’s jokes while resting my arm on torched and scared wood.  The juxtaposition of the blue Colorado sky, snow on the mountains in the distance, green pines covering hilltops (not mine hilltops, however), blackened concrete, twisted metal and me in a purple dress.  I snarled at the camera quite a lot – even shot it a double fisted bird which felt quite good.  (None directed at Amy, and she knew that).  For many reasons, Lainie was the perfect assistant. 
What would we do without our dogs?  Seriously.  My dogs keep me sane – along with all of you who read my blog J.  Ever since the fire, my back has been wrecked.  I have had massages, chiropractic treatments, begun walking again, stretch daily, hot tub regularly… Yesterday morning, after yoga and stretching, I bent slightly and it tweaked.  I fell to the floor sobbing.  Seriously.  The emotional pain is heavy enough – do we really need to add physical pain too?  Today I am seeing DJ at Evergreen Center for Therapeutic Massage, a practitioner who helped Steve Wilson get back to normal after his back injury.  Hoping, hoping, hoping.  It’s my sacrum – and whatever it is down there, it is holding on for dear life!  Shit howdy.  It gives me even more compassion for chronic pain sufferers like my dear husband and my father who have dealt with back pain for years. Back pain gives a sense of instability.  I can’t count on my core to hold me.  I can’t stand up straight.  The pain is sharp and stabbing.  I feel older than my years as I hobble around… Hmmm.  So glad there are no metaphorical or metaphysical connections there!
Slept in!  Until 6:35am, that is.  And, woke up twice in the night.  At 4am, I thought I wasn’t going to go back to sleep.  I did – and dreamt that parts of the house were still standing.  I was attending a concert and decided to check my office for my tickets – lo and behold the wall with my bulletin board was still there and I found my concert tickets.  As the dream went on, more and more of my house was standing.  For some unknown reason, we lit a fire in the woodstove.  Then little fires started popping up places, one at the neighbors, one in another stove that we hadn’t lit and we had to run.  I didn’t want to leave it, again.
Tomorrow we will do our second clean up at the site with another crew of angels.  We will sift through the rest of the rubble of the house (still looking for David’s ring and perhaps a few more treasures) then we will move to David’s workshop – an 18x20 building with a loft, full of his tools, reloading equipment, old barn wood and antique furniture.  It is a disaster. 
I wonder when I will stop saying, “I can’t believe it”.  When will the new “normal” seem like normal? There will always be a line of demarcation: life before the fire and life after the fire.  I realize that the disbelief is a protective mechanism – probably somewhere between bargaining and denial.  Last night, I engaged in the “I can’t believe it” a little further than I have as of yet.  I allowed myself to really not believe it.  I imagined my house still standing, my life still on the track that it was, my oasis patiently waiting for my return.  Just for a moment I indulged.  Just for a moment, I wanted to forget, or return to normal.  I wanted to go back. 
The craving of “home” is strong and makes me weep right now.  That deep bone level craving, I have been keeping at bay.  Home.  My want for home, my need for home, my longing for home.  Today, David is driving to New Mexico with the amazing Chris Meehan to pick up our “new” 1967 Airstream trailer.  Home is on the way! 
Have I talked about the irony of the weather on my birthday?  On April 2nd, it drizzled then turned to snow, when a mere week earlier that would have prevented the fire.  Today it is overcast again.  We are socked in, in a cloud.  We mountain folk need the moisture  – and our parched, scorched land needs it desperately.  We also are hoping for rain to clean the sooty stains that mar the earth, rocks and turn the barren landscape into a filthy mess.  Uninhabitable is what it looks like right now.  So, yes, even though the moisture came 1 week too late, yes please to the rain gods.
Items spun through my mind again this morning and late last night.  I remember a metal raven sculpture with cute fat feet, a handmade jewelry box full of my silver bracelets – a collection I didn’t wear but had for eons.  In that box, were a few other treasures including a voice recording of my first mentor, Susan Hansen who died way too early for many of us.  Now, I will only hear her voice in my head. 
My new morning routine seems to be getting up before the sun (even though I REALLY want to sleep more), making my coffee (finally bought a new French press – and it’s red), sipping it in the one favorite mug I carried out with me, and writing my experience.  I wonder if I will run out of words to describe the various twists and turns in this uninvited adventure.  And, I beg your forgiveness in advance if I repeat myself.  Not only am I sleep deprived, but my memory capability is seriously diminished.  “CRS” they say (Can’t Remember Shit J).  And, I know, it’s to be expected.
Besides missing the big thing (my house), I miss the little things.  My little creature comforts or even just basic essentials.  Thank God I have a cuticle trimmer as I am seeming to bite my cuticles more than ever…  But where is my clear nail polish, my sunscreen, my small strainer to drain the coffee grinds, the silver spoons that fit just the right amount of agave for my coffee? Where is my favorite chapstick, my paddle brush, my supply of gold hair elastics?  Where are my delicate laundry bags to wash my bras, my favorite pair of socks, my other slipper?  Where is my purple hat my dad gave me, my wooly scarf I wore even in the summer?  Where is my purple down throw I snuggled with in my living room?  Where is my body shop lotion that they stopped making, my leopard flower vase, my angel cards?  Where is the soap stone box that David gave me, the puppy picture of Jaxson, my hiking boots?  Where is my Blendtec blender with which I kept up with my necessary vegetable consumption, my new green protein powder from Whole Foods, my huge supply of almond butter, my mint tea?  Where are my sweatpants, my leopard gloves (hear a theme?), my Bose sound dock?   
It’s hard to believe that it has been 2 weeks since the fire.  At this time 2 weeks ago, I was just beginning to stir and thinking about my full day ahead.  Since I haven’t shared past Day 2 with you yet, I am going to do that now.
I realize I don’t want to think about those days.  It’s easier at this point to share where I am now, but there is a chunk of the story missing. 
David returned with a raging migraine on the morning of 28thon an early flight.  (He is blogging too at www.northforkashes.com.)  I wasn’t sure how our reunion would be.   Would I weep in his arms, would I fall down, would we argue?  We greeted each other calmly and further cemented the team we have become over our 17 years of marriage.  Stress (as I am sure you know) can do bad things to a couple.  Grief can rip a marriage apart.  As my client Sandra Champlain reminds me, we all experience grief differently; we are in different places at different times; and we can easily make each other wrong and have misunderstandings.  David and I promise to be gentle with each other and to be aware of our differences in processing.  We promise to be a team. 
I miss my morning routine where David and I brewed our French press coffee (for which we were famous among our friends), and sipped the brew in our hearty mugs as I sat in my leopard chaise by the window, and David sat on (our brand new!) couch with Bill purring on his lap. We watched the world come alive from our vista and did our morning “meditation” (which for us was reading Gangaji).
Recently I have been waking up before the sun, which is not my usual M.O. A friend asked if I was meditating, I said “Yeah right!” (actually I said something like “F-off” because she is the type of friend to whom I can say anything...isn't that right, Kristina Hall) Right now, I do not want to be with the quiet. My brain, which throughout my life has not always been my friend, wakes me and tells me there are things to do, things to figure out, and things to think about. There certainly are lists of things we need to write. Much of the key to how our insurance experience goes depends upon lists of excruciating detail. We must remember every little and large (and everything in between) thing we had. We must document all of it with a description, price and date of purchase. We are talking about things collected over a lifetime – some priceless due to the sentimental value, some difficult to price due to the eclecticism, some we will probably forget and remember in the middle of the night or some other inopportune moment months or years after our claim has been filed. The pressure of “getting it right” wakes me up early, yet the list is the one thing I resist the most.
The story of day 3 is coming soon but since we are now 12 days into this new chapter of our lives, I need to write about where I am right now.
It’s been rough to say the least. This particular post will not be about seeing the gift or the phoenix rising from the ashes or the love that surrounds this or how lucky I am to be alive.... I know all of those things. I have seen gifts, experienced the love, have had extreme moments of beauty. We are blessed by our community and have experienced and outpouring support.
Right now, what I need to write about is the fear and despair that grips me. Later, I will talk about the light. I will write it as raw as I feel.
I am in an altered state. Life no longer looks the same. It has similar elements, yet the foundation has changed. We drive past the turn to our road home on the way to where we are staying, and each time I long to make the turn and imagine for a moment that our home is still standing. Really, I don’t miss much of my crap. I had some beautiful things – treasures from years of collecting; original art; valuable antiques; gifts from my long-deceased grandparents; wedding presents; scrapbooks from childhood; keepsakes and memories.