Monday, March 29, 2010

Changes in fire code

Boise is considering changing the fire code in areas like the one we live where open space butts up against a neighborhood.

Story here

My thoughts:

1) I got to see my house burn down on TV again yesterday. I hate these stories because of it. It is just so jarring to be watching TV and all of a sudden look up to see your neighborhood ablaze.

2) Our house was separated from the fire by a ROAD and a LOT of green space around the house. I think improving the code is a noble goal, but in reality, 30 feet of defensible space may not be enough.

3) At least one of the homes that caught fire did not have a cedar shake roof.

4) Maintenance of the land beneath our homes is, in my opinion, the biggest and best way to prevent a fire like that from happening again. There should be non-flammable landscaping around the power poles (like rocks?). Sagebrush (highly flammable) should not litter the field, unmaintained. A large fire break should be maintained between the field and the hillside to hopefully stop a fire before it gains momentum up the hill.

I moved back here because I didn't want the fire to be my last memory of my house. And it's not. I have a lot of good memories here now. But I can't say that I don't often worry about another fire, that I don't stare out my window to watch the fire engines when they come racing down Amity. I hope that *something* is done to make that less likely to happen, and I hope that what is done actually makes sense in preventing a large-scale fire like the one that we endured. Because I don't think I can go through this twice.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The tulips are making their arrival.

I think that's my favorite part of spring, the anticipation of the first tulip in bloom. And last fall I made sure to plant a lot of them. We have one batch of tulips that survived the fire over in a far corner of the hillside. But as far as flowers are concerned, last spring was a bare one. But this year won't be (as long as the puppies don't destroy all of the flowers).

Kellen's play house is set up. He and the neighbor boy had fun ringing the doorbell and making pretend food on the grill.

Dan built a fence for our new garden. Last year's didn't work out so well, and we need a sunnier place that we can build up because the soil up here isn't exactly conducive to vegetable growing. I just started some of my seeds indoors to transfer once all the snow on the mountains is gone.

I look at the vinca on the hillside and have high hopes that it will grow well this year. I am anxious to see it cover the ground as opposed to covering patches. I am going to move some of the plants we put in to allow my honeysuckle to climb the fence, and I'm going to plant colorful flowers that remind me of joy.

The backyard is one of the good things to come out of the fire. We have room to play. And room to entertain. And room to sit and watch the flowers grow. Room even to grow our own food. I don't look outside and cringe at the rotting railroad ties anymore. Instead I slide down the fescue with Kellen (our hill makes a great slide!). We even have trees and eventually will have shade.

Spring is here. And with it, a heart that is a little lighter.

Monday, March 22, 2010

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

And in preparation... here is some information about Lyme Disease:

What are Neurological Complications Of Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial organism that is transmitted to humans via the bite of an infected tick. Most people bitten by an infected tick develop a characteristic skin rash around the area of the bite. The rash may feel hot to the touch, and vary in size, shape, and color, but it will often have a "bull's eye" appearance (a red ring with a clear center). However, there are those who will not develop the rash, which makes Lyme disease hard to diagnose because its symptoms and signs mimic those of many other diseases.

Seven to 10 days following an infected tick's bite, the first stage of Lyme disease begins with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain.

Neurological complications most often occur in the second stage of Lyme disease, with numbness, pain, weakness, Bell's palsy (paralysis of the facial muscles), visual disturbances, and meningitis symptoms such as fever, stiff neck, and severe headache. Other problems, which may not appear until weeks, months, or years after a tick bite, include decreased concentration, irritability, memory and sleep disorders, and nerve damage in the arms and legs.

Is there any treatment?

Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics under the supervision of a physician.

What is the prognosis?

Most individuals with Lyme disease respond well to antibiotics and have full recovery. In a few patients symptoms of persisting infection may continue or recur, requiring additional antibiotic treatment. Varying degrees of permanent joint or nervous system damage may develop in patients with late chronic Lyme disease. In rare cases, some individuals may die from Lyme disease and its complications.

What research is being done?

The NINDS supports research on Lyme disease. Current areas of interest include improving diagnostic tests and developing more effective treatments. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and the National Center for Research Resources also support research on Lyme disease.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm still here :-)

I have started a lot of posts recently but not gotten anywhere. I read a story about a landlord who hired someone to start a fire in his property to collect the insurance money and killed a family. It was so depressing, but I couldn't fully articulate my thoughts. And I started a post about digital files because I think it's an interesting concept that makes me question ownership.

But mostly I've been hanging around the house sick. I was on an antibiotic that worked, that brought back my energy, that took away a lot of the neurological symptoms. I had to stop it because it gave me heartburn that radiated to the base of my skull. The antibiotic we replaced it with has not worked, and I am back to being fully symptomatic. I flew to Seattle Friday to check in with my doctor, and I'm back on the old med with a lot of intestinal support to see if we can avoid an IV.

I've also been writing my first chapter as I have time. I spoke with an agent who is interested in my story, but it may be that this book is better as a memoir and that the guide"book" component with the stories of others who have lost their homes will be incorporated into a fully functional website with a forum and articles loaded with advice. Because of the Lyme I have limited energy, so if anyone is interested in helping develop the website (for free or cheaply), let me know.

I wanted to hold our first fundraiser for the to-be-formed Life After the Fire organization this summer on the second anniversary of the fire. But with my energy level I'm not sure it's going to happen. I'm trying not to be hard on myself, but it's hard for me to reconcile this new reality.

Dan has been having his best semester since the fire. He had finally gotten into an academic groove during the summer semester before the fire. And the fire just got in the way of everything. He tried going to school last spring, but he was finishing the house, and I was an anxious mess, so he withdrew. And in the fall he stayed home with me to take care of Kellen while I tried to get healthy (and with the fall we had it was a good thing!). It's good to see him getting back on track.

Every day we get a little further from the fire and a little closer to our normal. It may not be the same path we were on before, but it's at least in the neighborhood of that other path.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Attachment to new stuff

We got a puppy.

Tabby, our fire kitty, never came home, and I wanted another pet. We learned a while ago that I am actually allergic to cats, which was never an issue when I lived in a humid climate, but in the desert, it was bad! So no cats. We named him Sonny (to go with Shade).

Sonny is twelve weeks old, which is just lab enough to eat everything in sight. Shoes, toys, toys, bedding, he is non-discriminatory. Having a dog try to destroy all our new stuff has made me wonder if I have less attachment to this stuff... or more.

For the most part, I find myself less attached to most of what we own. It has no memories, no real sentimental value. I have been de-cluttering and getting rid of stuff we bought and didn't need or don't use. This is a big change for me, because usually it took a large move to part with anything. I sold the cat stuff on craigslist without worrying that getting rid of it would negate the memories I had of Tabby or her heroic survival through the fire. I carry that with me, without the stuff.

But there is some stuff that I am really attached to. I have one pair of platform clog-type shoes that I absolutely love. I bought them right after the fire, and they so embody my sense of style (which is more "comfortable" than anything). But I have worn them out. Prior to getting the puppy I was lamenting the need for a new pair of shoes. "But isn't it great that you need a new pair of shoes," a friend asked. In some ways, yes. We are finding ourselves further and further from the fire and life is certainly more normal than it has been in many many months. But another part of me isn't ready to let that go yet. The fire was obviously a pivotal point in our lives, and those shoes, as silly as it sounds, connect me to the fire and to what I had before the fire in a way the new things don't. I have been so ready for stuff to have value beyond the fire, memories, stories. But I know that I have need for the stuff that I needed immediately after the fire, things like shoes that made me feel grounded, like there would be normal again after the fire.

I am also quite attached to my house and don't want the dog to chew the siding the way that Shade had the other house. The fire solved our dilemma of how to deal with the chewed siding when we sold the house, though I would have gladly dealt with that issue.

In all seriousness, having the puppy has been a blessing. Shade has a buddy, which was a large part of getting the dog. He has someone to run around with and expend energy. He is also bringing a joy that had been lacking for some time. When Kellen was born, the joy of him was robbed from me in many ways because we were so busy trying to rebuild. I didn't get to spend the time I wanted watching and being amazed and entertained. In some ways the puppy is filling that loss. He is funny, and we are all entertained. Just as long as he doesn't eat my stuff!