Friday, February 3, 2012

Fire, Sorrow, Death

There's no photos for this post.  It's taken me this past week to get to the point where I thought I'd be able to write this.  We had a fire in our carriage house Thursday night last week.  My husband had restored the building with the intent of using the downstairs as his pottery studio and the upstairs as his gallery.  Since we are still working on the interior of our home, we've used the carriage house as a storage area for lots of our belongings and a work area for carpentry, etc.  My two cats - Petey and Ulysses, also lived there.  We had so many workmen (and women) coming and going in the house that I didn't want to subject the kitty boys to more stress.  They loved their large "cat house".  We don't know how the fire started.  We do know there were a series of explosions, two small and one large, and that the building was engulfed in flames within minutes.  It was a fierce fire - damaging nearby buildings.  Everything in the carriage house was destroyed.  Electric lines came down, communication lines came down, and many people were in harms way containing the blaze.  My three dogs and I spent a sleepless night (well, the dogs slept) at my good friends' home.  My agony was my two wonderful cats - I was sure there was no way they could have escaped.

In the morning I wandered over to look at the charred ruins... shock does funny things to you.  To my absolute amazement and wonderment I heard meows that could only be produced by Ulysses coming out of the summer kitchen (yes, there really is one), which is next to where the carriage house was.  He sort of staggered out - singed fur, melted plastic-like material all over his fur and paws, burned ears and nose, fur burned off around his eyes, burned off whiskers...  We rushed him to a superb vet clinic in La Crescent, Mn and then to an emergency 24 hr vet clinic in Rochester, Mn.  He is going to be all right.  The damage to his lungs, from smoke inhalation, and burns to the eye corneas were a huge concern, but it appears that his eyes have healed and his lungs are ok.  As my husband said, Ulysses is the only bright spot in this.  He is a bright orange star in the darkness of the situation.  He will now become the most spoiled cat in the universe.  I found Petey's body in the ashes last Saturday (I wish someone else had found him) as Amy and I tried to salvage some family photos.  I had to walk away.  Today we are driving out to our land to bury Petey where he was born and lived most of his life.

We lost:
Most importantly, Petey the cat.
My grandmother's silver
Navajo rugs I inherited from my great aunt
Our potter's wheel
My loom and everything connected with weaving
Spinning wheel
My beloved Viking sewing machine
Embellisher machine (new and in the box)
My high speed straight stitch machine (new and in the box)
The Presencia embroidery thread store display with all the threads, from the quilt shop
All my wool and cotton embroidery threads
All my Sue Spargo kits and BOM kits & embellishments
Hand dyed wool, silk and cotton fabrics and silk ribbons
Wool dyes and dye tools; my Procion dyes & auxiliaries
PFD cotton and silk, and wool for dying
Velvet, silk, batik, oriental, & reproduction fabrics - literally hundreds & hundreds of yards
The quilt I designed for Quilt Sampler Magazine in 2007 (for Yellow Bird Art)
At least 7 full size quilts and at least 10 smaller lap or wall quilts
A minimum of 50 Japanese kimonos
Kitchen supplies
Antique cabinets and other antiques
Tools of all kinds
Our family photos including the kids growing up and my wedding....

That's not all of it ~ just all my mind can handle right now.  I'm profoundly grateful the fire didn't destroy the summer kitchen (the front of the building is a bit charred) or spread to our house, and of course I'm so relieved that no human was injured or killed.  It was a very dangerous fire.  

We've had a couple of people say that we were lucky that "only" a cat died or that "only" a cat was injured.  I'm not angry ~ they just don't understand.  Love is Love, whether a friend, spouse, child, family or pet. And grief and loss is grief and loss.  There is a huge difference between losing a spouse and a pet, but you still go through the grieving process.

Somehow, a television news crew heard about Ulysses when we went to the vet.  Here's the link if you're interested... Cat Survives Fire

I'll be back next week (probably later in the week) with the rest of the tutorial.  Can you believe it?  What a way to get your blog going - eh??  I'll be spending time getting lists together for the insurance company and all the paperwork that comes with this sort of incident.  I will very happy to get back to doing "normal" things, and talking with all of you!



  1. I'm so very sorry for your loss. As a fellow cat lover, I know how much our furry friends become a part of our family. I was so sad as I read your post and then relieved when I read that Ulysses somehow beat the odds and survived. What a true miracle and blessing. My thoughts and prayers are with you. K—

  2. Sweetie, I can't even begin to know what you must be going through but even though I just started following your blog we are connected...we're all connected since we all come from the same source. I will be praying for your peace and healing and for Ulysses too. I wish I could be there to help you go through all the wreckage...that must be so hard to do. If you need anything else that I could do for you long distance please let me know.
    Blessings, hugs and healing to you and yours.

  3. I am so sorry this terrible tragedy happened... what a miracle Ulysses survived. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes... wish there was something I could do...

  4. I had not heard most of this (husband does not share much because he is sometimes unsure what is confidential and what is not). Extra sorry about dear Petey. You bet it's a tragedy to lose a pet. Plus all the rest.

    Ugh. So sorry!

  5. My heart goes out to you, Angela ... wish I could give you a great big hug. I love my furry and feathery friends and know that the grief over losing a pet is immense.

  6. I wish I knew the right words to soothe your heart but I can't imagine what they are. We have a rescue cat named Petey and he is the love of our life so when I read that your Petey had gone over the Rainbow Bridge I just lost it, especially all the personal things and then material things you lost that took years to collect. I so wish there was something I could do to help you. I will be praying for you and your family, and loving pets to Ulysess.

  7. This is me again, just wondering how you and your family are doing. I still can't imagine what you are going through, but know my family and I are praying that the Lord will sustain you as you face all the emotional changes, the work, the decisions, all that you are going through. Loving hugs. Jeanne

  8. Hi Angela
    i was shocked to read your blog. You are both in my thought and prayers. I know how special some of those items were to you and especially Petey. Hope you are doing better.
    much love Sue

  9. Angela, I just found your blog through Sue Spargo's blog. I will keep your family in my prayers for continued strength and that you do not lose hope. I was so happy when I found your Yellow Bird Art shop a few years back and then so sad when you decided to close. There are certainly nice shops here in Iowa, but yours...I was taken with. It was well worth the two hour drive! Hope to read soon that you are healing.