Sunday, October 28, 2018

Dear Kids,
         John has nicknamed his cats “the fire kittens,” (after Pickles, the fire cat in the book) and he’s been telling people the story of how I rescued them from the cabin.  In the meantime, I got a black eye by sliding off our bed (one night when I was seeing double) and hitting my eye on the corner of the windowsill.  My face is also bruised, because it hit the wall going down.  So I look terrible.  John told the story of the kittens to Cora, the cook at the Wasatch senior center, and she came in to the music room on Thursday to talk to me about it.  When she saw my bruised face, she gasped, because she thought I got that in the fire.  So I realized I could really be embellishing the story, maybe telling how a burning beam fell down and hit me on the head as I was running out with the kittens.  Heck, I could really be making a great story out of it!
         But our cabin fire was already dramatic enough.  Now, this week, we’re starting to deal with inspectors and assessors and the insurance company.  The inspector came first, probably to make sure it wasn’t arson.  The pieces of triple wall pipe from the chimney were on the ground, and she noticed that on one piece, there was creosote between the inner pipe and the next layer out.  She said that meant that the pipe had probably failed, and was letting heat and smoke up the second ring of pipe.  So there wasn’t enough protection  between the heat and the outer wooden chimney.  It had probably failed a long time ago, so it wasn’t “if,” but “when.”  I’m glad it didn’t happen at night, while people were in the cabin.  It could have been really bad.  We were lucky.  Another thing that saved our cabin was that it has three layers of siding, put on by different people who lived there.  It was taking longer than usual to burn through all of them, and gave the fire department time to get there. The inspector said the last two cabin fires in our area left nothing but piles of rubble, so there again, we were lucky.
          People have been asking when the cabin will be rebuilt, and we don’t know. The restoration company, Disaster Master (or Service Master is probably their real name) will start cleaning out the damage later this week.  Then an engineer will evaluate the rafters and see if any of them need to be rebuilt.  Then the rest of the work can start.  But it might all take a really long time. Maybe spring?  But eventually, the cabin will be its old self again.  We’ll have many more fun times there!
         Thanksgiving is coming up!  If you want to come to our house, you’re welcome!  I’ll call each of you when it gets closer.
         And tonight will be our last Sunday night otter pops and gummi bears party for a while, because Messiah practices start next week.  The Messiah itself will be December 8 and 9, at Tom’s church.  I’ll have more details later.
         So much going on, like always!  Love, Mom

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Of course the big news this week was the fire at the cabin.  Thursday afternoon John’s family arrived there for their fall break, and John started a fire in the wood-burning stove, so the cabin could start heating up.  (And boy, did it!)  Then they left for their adventures in Salt Lake.  A while later Donna’s pest control friend arrived to check his mouse traps, and texted Donna a picture of the cabin on fire.   She forwarded the picture to us (the one you’ve all seen, where the chimney area is burning.) Luckily a neighbor had already called the fire department, because by the time Dad and I got there, we could hear the sirens coming.  But a lot of the east end was burning by then.  I called John to let him know the cabin was on fire, and Heather answered.  She told me their three new kittens were in the greenhouse.  The firefighters were all busy by then, so like PeeWee Herman in the movie, I ran in to rescue the kittens.  There was a lot of smoke in the greenhouse, but it wasn’t burning.  I found the kittens under the stack of tables that leans against the wall.  And like Pee Wee Herman, I ran out holding them up high.  Of course the firefighters didn’t care–they were busy putting out the fire.  I tossed the kittens into our car, and then Terry Galmore found me a box for them.
         Meanwhile, the firemen were putting out the fire.  Boy, they use lots of water! When it was finally safe to go inside, the fire chief walked us in.  Most of the damage is in the moose bedroom, but luckily, none of the furniture burned.  The balcony is gone, and we could see blue sky through the eves.  John came up about then, and shook hands with the chief.  It looked like they knew each other already.  John said, “You know I’m the scoutmaster.  I know how to start fires.”
         There will be an investigation, probably to make sure it wasn’t arson, and then we’ll walk through with the insurance assessor, to discuss how it will be rebuilt.  In the meantime, it’s been boarded up on the east side by a disaster crew.  I don’t know how long the rebuilding will take, or even when it will start.
         I said I ran in to get the kittens, and I really did!  It’s funny what adrenaline can do to you.  Here I can barely walk, because of my numb left leg, and when I’m outside, I need to lean on someone.  But all alone, I ran into the greenhouse.  The adrenaline effect lasted all day, and I haven’t felt that good in weeks.  Now, of course I’m back to the same old pain.  I saw Dr. Newbold on Monday, and he tweaked my medications, which helped a little.  I asked him to tell me honestly how long this stage lasts, and he said 3-6 months.  For most people.  Sometimes it stretches into years, but I couldn’t be that unlucky.  I really appreciate all your prayers.  I definitely still need them.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Dear Kids,
         If I really really really hated somebody, I might arrange for them to get shingles.  The rash at first isn’t so bad, but after that, you can get  “post-herpatic neuralgia,” which is almost-constant pain from the effects of frayed nerve endings.  I’m taking a drug (gabapentin) that’s supposed to help with it, but there doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight. In fact, it seems to get a little worse every day.  Night time is the worst of all, when I have abdominal cramps that are like being in labor.  During the day, it’s sometimes almost OK.  The pain is always there, but I can distract myself by doing interesting things, like playing the piano or sewing.  I finally made myself find out more about “PHN,” and the news isn’t good.  It can last for months, or even years.  Can people really suffer that long?   I don’t see how.  I really appreciate all your prayers for me.  And your children’s prayers.  Please keep them up!  I may need them for a long time!  And please, please, if you’re 40 or older, get the vaccines!  (2 of them, 2 months apart.)  If my warning can cause even one of you to avoid this, it will have been worth it.  I keep thinking about Jesus, and how he suffered indescribable pain for all of us.  It’s very real to me now. 
         Our new kitties are providing me a little distraction.  They fight and bite and race and chase.   The oreo kitten, the girl, is named Sonia.  The boy, the gray one, is Scout.  I moved them to the garage the second or third day they were here, and they’re having fun exploring their new domain.  But they try to get in whenever they can.
         John’s family has kittens now too–three of them!  (One for each child at home.)  They’re tiny little things, much younger than ours.
         Conference was great, wasn’t it?  I’m still rejoicing over the prospect of a 2-hour block.  Of course it doesn’t start until January, but it will be great to put in two hours and then go home, not feeling guilty.
         In spite of my pain, I hope you will all keep visiting us, when you can.  We’ll always have plenty of oreos and gummi bears and otter pops.  And now you can play with our kittens!
         Life is good. Love, Mom

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Having shingles is wretched. My symptoms change every day.  Friday night it was terrible abdominal cramps, but when I went to the ER, they couldn’t find anything wrong.  Now my left leg is numb, and I stumble when I walk.  The drugs I’m taking make me groggy, and I can’t think.  Worst of all, it doesn’t get gradually better.  I’m worse off now than a week ago.  But enough of that. There’s lots good going on.
         We have kittens!  Nora brought them last night, when they came for our conference party.  They don’t have names yet, but we’re working on that.  One is grey, and I think it’s a male.  The other is a little Oreo cat, probably a female, but their behinds are so furry it’s hard to tell.  Tina is furious, of course.  But in time she’ll have fun playing with them.
          Vanessa’s family came by last Sunday with their new golden doodle.  They bought him in Heber, and he’s a total family dog.  He made himself right at home in our house and outside. He barked at the neighbor’s dog.  He’s used to playing with kids, so he came to the right family.  His name is Chevy.  Or is he a her?  Come to think of it, I can’t exactly remember.  It’s the drugs I’m on.
         Dad worked all week to install a new garage door opener at the cabin.  The code is still 6403, and then you hit “enter” to get in.  To close it, just hit “enter.”  There’s a new gate code, too, 0612.  But it doesn’t work yet. For now, just use the old code, 7281.  It’s probably best for now to try both of them.
         How about the conference announcement, the new 2-hour block?  It was on the top of my list, for rumors to be true.  And maybe they’ll have more changes to announce today. We’re certainly going to be watching and listening!
          It’s all good!  Lots of love, Mom