Archive for September, 2011


I saw this in a message from another fire survivor.

My house burned down.
Now I have a clearer view
of the rising moon.


Just What We Need, Not!

As if things weren’t crazy enough we have these.


Liz was driving her route and saw seven mangy, starving puppies on the roadside. She finished the route, drove the scooter home, got Ian and the car and went back to get the pups. She then drove to our normal vet but they were closed because of a family emergency. Off to another vet. Shots, baths, food but fortunately a vet tech adopted two puppies. They also gave her a bunch of food.

So if you are interested in a puppy you can have one now. You will need to bathe it (them) twice a week and they need a dose of medication a week for five more weeks.

Sifting the Rubble

We’ve done some sifting. As I mentioned before we found some rings that were important to Liz. They were just in a little jewelry box laying in the ashes. Liz also found a Madonna that had been her mother’s, again, just laying there. We did find one of the fire proof boxes. Unfortunately they are not crush proof and once crushed the stuff inside burns anyway.

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Clearly brass/bronze and ceramics can survive. Almost all of the damaged to the ceramics came from things falling on them. Other interesting things were puddles of aluminum that I finally figured out were the window frames. The recognizable 35mm camera is a Minolta from the mid-80’s. On it’s right is the image screen from an early 2000’s Nikon 35mm SLR, all that survived from the primarily plastic camera. We also had lots of metal rings from late model lenses where the plastic bits are gone. The big glob of green glass is from the fish tank. Poor rufus our 15 year old spotted raphael catfish. He moved from Texas to Nebraska and back. He was in my office at work for several years too.

I am back in Dallas for work and this weekend is a party weekend for Liz and I. Although we are going to different parties. Liz will be at the Austin Scooter Club Riff Raff rally but she won’t have her shirt from the first rally. I’ll be at the Sherwood Forest Celtic Festival .

We are beginning to look for builders and hoping that our neighbors will rebuild as well. We got the number from a sign that said “We build homes that don’t burn.”

First View

We got to see what is left of our house today. Not much as you can see. The before picture is a little dated in that the shrubs and grass were gone from in front of the house and we had a garden there. You can tell from the trees and the front porch pillar that the angle is roughly the same.


A little dated. Shrubs and grass had been converted to a garden.


Pretty much the same angle as the original.

None of our sheds remain standing, it was a neighbors chicken coop that the other neighbor had seen.

Some pottery survived. Of the 10 pieces I had glazed Sunday morning three remained unbroken and will one day be kiln fired instead of house fired. We found a jewelry box with Liz’ mother’s wedding band and grandmother’s engagement ring.

I’m not entirely sure what I want to say, my mind is a little numb right now.

Front View


Well Fired

Shepard's Hook

Slightly melted but still useable


We saw birds using it


The remains of a garden hose


Our winged pig and door knocker.

Ceramic Mushrooms

Ceramic mushrooms from the garden

Not Dead Yet

The sticker means search and rescue has been here and no bodies.


These clearly opened after the fire went past. One of the survival mechanisms for the Loblolly Pine.

More Hope

Going to need a new mower soon.

Tomorrow we go back with a sifter and shovel to see if we can find a few more things but I am pretty sure the “fireproof” boxes burned.

Except for the first two all of these pictures were taken by Liz McKee.


Not official government confirmation but good enough for me. The son-in-law of a neighbor works for the water company and was able to get in to our area and saw the destruction. All of us who were there Sunday night watching the fire have lost our homes although one garage is standing. The house at the end of the street sits down in a hollow and was spared.

Friday we will start looking for other accommodations. Then we need to figure out what happens next. I think we will build, the question is where. Certainly somewhere in the area but maybe not on the same lot. We want to build “green” and fire resistant.

I suppose if you have to lose your house it is best to have it happen in a record setting event making national news.


Today we found a Facebook page with pictures from our area. The firefighter is being “nice” and only showing standing homes. However when you see several homes from near yours and don’t see yours it isn’t comforting, only confusing. I’m not on the main street so maybe he didn’t go down ours. On the other hand two house on our corner weren’t pictured either. Places across the main drag were shown though so maybe? Very frustrating.

Talked to the insurance again. Next we have a very emotional exercise to go through. Start listing what was lost. Furniture and pots and pans are no big deal but then you think about the antique tea cups that can’t be replaced and really can’t be priced. Or the three boxes of pictures I thought about yesterday and other mementos that even if you could find the exact same thing it wouldn’t be since it wasn’t the one you inherited from someone.

Just looking for some closure here. Need to know if the house is gone or standing so we can start moving on.

Still Burning

Things are still burning around here and specifically where we lived. It looks like our daughter’s in-laws will be OK but it is still really close to them.

We have personally been fortunate in that we got our pets and photos out and have a place to live. We also have adequate insurance coverage and are simply waiting for confirmation that the house is gone to move forward on that front. We did try to get an apartment today and are on a waiting list but I’m sure we will work something out. It was heart rending going to one of the shelters today to get some information and seeing the people who have to stay there.

The generosity of people I have known over the years has been overwhelming. We’ve had offers of everything from money to loaner SCUBA gear and places to stay from complete strangers. We appreciate every offer and I am so ashamed to not have realized what good friends I have. Because we are doing OK ourselves we urge people to donate to their local volunteer fire departments. These are the life blood of fire and emergency services in rural areas and the vast majority of fire fighters in Texas are volunteers. Not to mention the last legislative session cut state funding by 70% in the middle of a record breaking drought.

On the plus side the Bastrop Complex Fire is now 30% contained and a fire line set in our largest subdivision appears to be holding. The wind has died for now although I have heard that it is supposed to pick up again before the weekend. The down side of the wind dropping is that smoke is drifting everywhere now and that is worsened by a temperature inversion that is holding the hot air close to the ground.

Sadly two bodies have been found. They are not emergency services personnel is all we have been told so far. The county is starting to identify homes that have been damaged or totally lost so some people will be able to start moving forward.

Texas will recover and we personally will probably rebuild in the same place. We are however looking in to greener and more fire resistant construction.

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