Oct 22, 2010

Report


So, Cindy, how is your second month in DC going?

Well, haha, the row house adjacent to ours burned to the ground, our house suffered heavy smoke and soot damage, we're staying in a hotel for about a month, and our dog died of smoke inhalation. Other than that, swell!

Fire. It is late morning, we are all out, except our 2 dogs, Louie and Clementine, and cat Annie. I return to find the street blocked off and full of fire engines. I am walking in a heavy downpour with my heart leaping at my throat and down to my feet, barely sheltered by a ridiculously broken neon-green umbrella, sure that it is my house in danger. No, it is the adjacent row house to the west, we are the lucky ones. I am home just after the fire is extinguished and Clementine is dead on the back porch and Louie and Annie missing. The whole scene, made more depressing by the heavy muddy rain, was a mess. I remember slipping in the mud, in flip flops, as I made my way to Clementine's body.

House. Our house was filled with impossible black smoke something awful. The adjacent house is a dismal, total loss. She, with no insurance, is left with next to nothing. The singed shell of bricks sits boarded up. Our house is a rental and thanks to renter insurance, pros are cleaning our belongings along with the house, and while some things are lost, we'll be OK (except for perhaps the constant drift of smoke smell from next door, surely a health hazard).

Clementine. The fire fighters did all they could to get the dogs out. The smoke was real bad and both dogs were barking and fighting for their lives at the back door. The crew gave oxygen to both but Clementine died anyway. They tell me Louie was pretty bad too but he revived then ran away. When I arrived a marshal gently showed me Clemmy's body and I just cried. I felt so bad for her. The smoke was so bad even the inside of the microwave was black.

I had Clementine for about 11 years. Got her as an older puppy from the shelter. A red coonhound. God she was an awful puppy. Nearly couldn't potty train her. Tore up a new couch and the front seats of my car. I was often asked, Why are your front seats blue and your back seats tan? Always running off, terrible on a leash, baying at everybody, scaring people, although she couldn't hurt a fly. She followed her nose always. She wasn't much a better adult dog, but she was gentle and mine, and I loved her. In Kansas she and Louie ran that countryside like no dog ever did. At first we tried to contain her, but as long as we received no complaints, we let her and Louie do as they pleased to make them happy. I figured if she got shot or ran over, at least she lived a long dreamy dog's life. And she did. Rest in peace Clemmy. Get that rabbit. Will I really never hear that coonhound howl again?

Louie. Soon after Jerry came home to join me, we found Louie cowering under the shed out back. We never truly claimed Louie as our own. He showed up one day and wouldn't leave, so we let him stay on because he fell so hard for Clem. She eventually came around to him too. Physically he is fine since the fire. But that scrappy funny dog is so sad and serious now. He is clinging to us and we are clinging back. I never felt so sorry for a dog before and since the kids our pets have lost a lot of status with us. But we feel his pain and he has instantly risen in significance with us. Now I don't want to go out without him. My heart swells for this silly little sad dog.

Annie. I couldn't remember if she was in the house or not, nobody had spotted a cat. That evening we were back in the house looking for something and suddenly as if nothing happened she scampers on her little squirrel feet across the kitchen floor. Geez, cats are so resilient. I don't believe she is affected at all by the fire. Gotta love a cat.

Kids. They were in school at the time. We picked them up and told them everything and showed them the house before moving on. There were some tears and Bereket was pretty scared when we approached the house. But they are resilient too and doing amazingly well. We're commuting to and from school right now in our van, so we may be a bit messy and our homework missing or sloppy, but they're pretty happy through it all. They tell everybody in that unintelligible preschooler way they have, Our house is broken and Clementine died.

The what-ifs. Plague the imagination with horrifying drama. What if . . . the neighbors were home and didn't make it out. . . or the fire happened at night as we slept or when Jerry was in Nepal and my mom was sleeping in the basement (the worst of the smoke was in there) . . . What if I was home and got stuck downstairs trying to get the dogs out, or our house burnt down too? What if I was home and got the G-damn dogs out???

All in all, tis only a minor curse for us, obviously it could have been so much worse.

The following are happy images albeit bad smart phone quality (camera temporarily out for restorartion):

Bribery.


A moment of peace. The boys are maniacs on the metro.


Clementine (right) with pal Louie before furniture.


Most likely, a multiple time out in public and ineffective.


A little wild in the city.



Still this beautiful.

32 comments:

Julie said...

I'm so sorry about your pup. That is so sad. Glad that you guys are okay.

Lauren said...

so sorry about things. hugging. you guys need lots of hugging.

rebekah said...

Oh gosh. I am so sorry. Clementine sounds like she was wonderful.

I am also so tremendously relieved that it wasn't worse.

paige said...

Oh sugar,

I am so sorry about your sweet Clementine and the loss of your newly found home. Be relentless about asking for replacement items if any of your things smell the least bit smoky. My parents had a small fire 10 years ago,and while the fire was small and contained, the soot and smoke were spread throughout the house via the AC. Despite replacing plaster and wallpaper and carpets, a slight tinge of smoke still lingers in some of the rooms, in some of their furniture, etc. If you're in doubt after the cleaning is done, ask for a replacement.

Be well, sweet mama

konjochild said...

Oh my, Cindy! Heartbreaking! So terribly sorry.

Autumn and Dan's family said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to read this. Poor Clementine! I'm glad everyone else is ok.

FrogMom said...

So sorry about poor Clementine and your family's repeated uprooting. It must be so hard. I hope this is truly the end of the drama and upheaval for you guys for a while.

Katie said...

So sorry for your loss, and all of the uproar in your life right now! I can't imagine what it is like for you all. Big hugs sent your way!

Jennifer said...

Oh I'm so, so sorry. Grateful that it's not worse. So deeply sorry about Clementine. And sorry about the crazy transition time. Thinking of you and your brood.

Mira said...

I am so sorry to hear u had to go thru this! So sad for your dog, it is so aweful when something happens to a beloved pet! Glad to hear u all are ok:)

Mom of 2 said...

What a horrible day! I'm sorry about your dog-so sad. Fire is so scary.

Jennifer said...

Wow. Soooo sorry to hear about your dog, but I am glad all of you are ok.

Rachel said...

Oh! So sorry to hear about your puppy (as you know, we're extremely fond of all things Clementine) but I'm so glad to know that the kids were out of the house and won't have to relive what could have been a much scarier day for them. And all of this happening in the midst of what should be a really happy, exciting year for your family. Thinking of you guys.

Deirdre said...

Oh Cindy, I'm so sorry. Poor Clementine. Sending you all so much love.

jayme said...

Holy crap! What an awful, horrible, scary experience you've all had to go through! I'm so, so sorry for all of your losses. You're right, though, about resilience. It's truly a remarkable thing. We're thinking of you guys!

Kathy E. said...

Oh Cindy, I'm so sad to hear of your loss, and stressful events. I am glad you are all okay though. Hugs to you all. Kathy, Shane and fam

The Lost Planetista said...

That is so sad about your Darling Clementine. I'm thankful that you guys are all safe and sound. Hoping that things start to get easier! :)

Anonymous said...

Please know that I have suffered the same lose as your family. We were lucky, as our dog was saved. However, we lost almost everything. Be aware that smoke is almost impossible to remove from most items. We were out of our home for 7 months. When we returned, we had a house full of boxes the insurance company had cleaned. It was terrible, almost everything was ruined. It was worse than after the fire, as once again, we were without basic living supplies. Good luck and I am so glad your family was not home, mine wasn't either!

Cavatica said...

OMG, I'm sorry.

masons12 said...

Oh holy moly - I just read this! Oh dear, poor Clementine, I'm so sorry for his loss. I'm so relieved you and the rest of your beloveds are unscathed (if inconvenienced). I can't imagine a hotel for a month - is there at least a pool (of course, that could be its own crazy set of events with 3!). You guys sure live your lives out loud. I love your attitude and your great resilience. Mostly, love the triplet time out gone awry...that's a keeper!!!! Hugs!

Chatter said...

Oh Clementine, I'm so sorry you had to go... Cindy, you are such a trooper handling this all so beautifully. Thinking of you all and so thankful everyone else is okay.

Emily B. said...

OMG! I am so sorry to hear about all of this (your doggie, your neighbor w/o insurance, living in a hotel...) but I'm so relieved all of your human family is OK. sending hugs and prayers from Arizona...

Paula said...

Not sure how I didn't see the post sooner, but I am so glad that you are all okay. Very sorry about your loss of Clementine. It's tough to lose a much-loved pet.

And I just have to say, even in a probably time out situation, those boys are so cute that they brought a smile to my face.

Jennifer said...

I missed this too for some reason. I am so sorry!!! So sad about Clementine and for Louie, without her. So, so sorry. I'm glad the boys are such troopers and are still able to be wild things in the city. I hope you get back home ASAP. I had a fire at my home and was in a hotel for over a month when my boys were 4 and 5 so I personally know what a trial it is living out of suitcases and being separated from your animals. I came back, though, to new paint, new flooring, laundered and clean everything.
So glad it wasn't even worse.

Mama Papaya said...

My heart hurts for your family, Cindy. I am so very, very sorry.

The Stephensons said...

I am sorry for your loss, and really hate to hear your neighbors didn't have insurance. However, I am happy that all of the people are safe. Scary!

TylerandBrianne said...

I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you. What a hard time.

{Staci} said...

good gosh. so sorry about this mess. pretty traumatic. sorry about your sweet doggy. glad you're all safe.

ChristyCanuck said...

My family went through this some years ago. It stays with you a bit.

Somehow our eighteen-year-old dog made it out. Can't imagine how it would have felt if she had not. I'm so sorry.

Although one feels lucky for all that escaped the fire, in the aftermath the feeling of being unmoored is a powerful one.

Thinking of you and your family.

Chris

Cindy said...

Oh I am so sorry for your sweet Clementine, your neighbor and everyone :(
((hugs))

Evelyn said...

Hurts my heart to read this. So sad. I'm sorry.

Dani said...

Oh my goodness,Cindy!! I'm so sorry to here about Clementine. But glad to hear everyone else is safe. Huge hugs.