Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rebuilding Heart and Home, One Step At A Time

Hello everyone! How are all of you? Are you surprised to hear from me after such a long break? I thought I'd share a quick recap of what I've been up to these past six months. Many of you are aware that we lost our home during a storm this past March. I am so grateful to those of you who have been checking in with me during all this time, and I appreciate your kind, thoughtful messages of support. I can't lie and say this has been easy, but it is getting better every day.

If you hadn't seen it yet,  go here to see the aftermath of the storm. This was our home, cut in half:

After that monster tree was removed from the inside of our house we had one week to empty the contents, and put everything that wasn't destroyed in boxes and into storage. Most of our furniture, rugs, books, art, bedding, drapes and many smaller, personal or decorative items were taken to the dump in a huge dumpster. That part was hard, let me tell you.

After nearly one month in a hotel, we finally moved to a rental house with rented furniture, rented dishes, rented pots and pans, rented towels, rented sheets and pillows. That part was weird and unsettling, and took some getting used to. 

The past few months have been a whirlwind, and I have experienced confusing and conflicting emotions. While I was grieving for our lost home I was also filled with extreme gratitude for everything I still have, for the love and support of our friends and family, for our warm and comfortable new temporary home.

Actually, most days I was torn between feeling  immense relief and gratitude, and enormous grief and guilt.  I realized that, even after taking into consideration everything that had been destroyed, we still have so much more than so many other people in the world. And, I am alive and strong and healthy - that tree didn't get me, it just missed me by a few feet! There must be a reason I am still here, I hope to figure it out someday.

 For now, I am plugging along, working on the rebuilding process. I have spent countless hours preparing loss reports for our insurance company. That part continues to be frustrating and tedious.

Inside, most of the walls were damaged or completely destroyed by the tree, the roof was torn in half the length of the house and the interior was flooded by rain for almost one week before we could secure it with a tarp.  All the walls in these pictures, the ones with the blue tape on them, were eventually removed due to water damage. My favorite stone floors throughout the upstairs were ripped out in order to allow the subflooring to dry.

It was sad to see the house in this state, but after slow and steady progress, and I can finally glimpse the light at the end of a long and arduous project!

 These are temporary posts and rafters in the living/dining/entry holding up a gigantic tarp to protect from further rain damage, before the floors and walls were removed. You can see the hole where the tree ripped into our house, along the ridge of the roof. Luckily, part of the tree came to rest on a berm at the edge of our property, or it would have continued to fall through the floor and to the bottom level of the house.

The carpet on the stairs was soaked through and molding. Not a pretty sight. Downstairs in our bedrooms and closets it was worse.  Everything was smelly and squishy with water.

During the summer, we figured we didn't have a lot keeping us here. We couldn't start  rebuilding until our engineering drawings were done, and then we had to wait for county permits.

So, we decided to head out of town for awhile. We went here:


And here:


And here:

And here:


And here:


We explored parts of Europe, ate delicious food, 
saw the most wonderful sights, ate delicious pastries,
wandered through museums, ate delicious chocolate,
 and I even had a chance
to spend time with my long-lost relatives in Germany. 
Our trip was a dream come true for me.
I cherished every moment, and will remember it always.

(In future posts, if you're interested, I will put together a travelog for you!
I only took about 1,200 pictures,
 plus all the ones my girls and husband took.
I think I have a few to share with you! 
 If you'd like to see some of them let me know.)

Anyway, when we returned from our time "overseas" the work began
 to restore our house, to make it better than before.

We interviewed and chose a contractor.
We applied for permits.
We had engineering drawings made for a new roof and deck.
We have spent countless hours
pouring over brochures and websites seeking information about
 windows, skylights, flooring, electrical work, plumbing, 
heaters, water systems, bathroom fixtures, tile and stone.
We've changed a few things about the layout that bothered us before,
and I know this house is going to be better than ever when we're done.

 I still have so many more decisions to make!
But, the project is coming along,
and we will be back in our home before too long.

 New interior framing, awaiting skylights:

 Part of the new roof:

We are still awaiting electrical work, then insulation and sheetrock.
At that point, I think the house will feel whole again.
 Right now, it is all wood and studs, and tarps and plywood.
But, I do see progress, and I can glimpse the results, just barely!

In the meantime,
when I need a break I take long walks along the ocean.
Lucky me!
 I do my yoga and pilates, and try to stay CALM.

 Thank you for dropping by today, I appreciate your loyalty and support.
I am blessed by your continued friendship and kindess.

Stay tuned for further progress reports.
I will check back in with you again, very soon!
Until next time,

I'm joining everyone at Metamorphosis Monday. Thanks!

Monday, May 16, 2011

You Won't Believe This, at Heart and Home

Hello everyone, I realize it's been a long time...
I will admit,
since my Dad passed away in September
working on Heart and Home had become
difficult for me.
I felt like I had run out of things to write about,
and lost interest in  DIY projects.
I was down in the dumps,
depressed and uninspired. 

After my trip to Austria and Hungary things started looking up.
I was feeling a little better,
ready to start working on projects again,
ready to begin fresh with new ideas.
I was getting excited to plunge in, and pull out the spray paint!

I'm still processing what happened to us near the end of March.
Daily, I remind myself
to stop and count my lucky stars.
Because, it really could have been much worse.
This has been really difficult.
We are all shook up.
And sometimes, we are still in disbelief.

During a particularly nasty rain storm,
while I was in the kitchen
 preparing my first cup of tea
(you know how I love my tea!)
determined to do nothing on that stormy day but
nurse my very sore back
and read
and relax,
and take it very easy all day,
suddenly out of nowhere
I heard a very loud crash of thunder.
Which was weird,
because we don't get thunder around here.

So, I was a bit puzzled.
Turns out, the sound I heard was the sound of
one of the trees on our property,
a 100' tall,
 5' diameter, giant Douglas fir, 
as it came crashing down into our house,
just missing me by a few teeny, tiny feet.

This is what happened to our home:

The entire thing was split in two.
Right down the middle,
all the way from end to end.

 Our outdoor patio,
which we used for entertaining and dining,
and reading and relaxing,
no longer exists.
It was smashed to smithereens.
Almost everything on it was smashed flat.

The living room, dining room, entry, hall,
guest bath, family room, office, stairs
 and the entire downstairs
where our bedrooms, sewing room and bathrooms are located
(including my "favorite spot")
were either structurally destroyed,
 or severely water damaged.

 This is a view from the side door,
looking back through the hall into the entry.

The wood planks used to be part of our cathedral ceiling.
That is the roof on the floor of my dining room.

Almost every piece of furniture,
and a great number of our books,
and the pretty decorative items,
 and many of my favorite things
were destroyed.

Projects I had worked hard on over the years,
many that I shared with you here,
(including my favorite bookcase, and the slipcovered chair)
are gone now,
thrown away in a big dumpster.

Within minutes after the tree fell,
Local firefighters and officers from the sheriff's department 
were on the scene.
They are amazing heroes,
and quickly rescued a very frightened Maggie,
who had been hiding beneath some furniture.
There was a very joyful reunion between the two of us.

The firefighters rescued all my photo albums,
and many of our cherished framed photographs,
 and the important files.
All without me uttering a word to them,
or even knowing what they were doing.
They found my purse, and my keys,
and they knew just the right things to say to me.
 Brave, calm, and kind,
they worked in the dark, in the pouring rain
to save what they could.
I will be forever grateful to them.

Immediately, three media vans descended onto our property.
Reporters and photographers
prowled the grounds,
looking for the best angle,
peering in the windows,
and interviewing the neighbors,
while I sat at the house next door,
shaking and in shocked disbelief.
The destruction of our home was big news that night, and the next day.
Photographs were in the newspaper again, just last week.

When this happened, my husband was out of town, on a business trip.
He Googled "downed tree house storm"
 and, not even ten minutes after I called him,
he saw the pictures of our mangled house on his I-pad,
on his way to the airport in Budapest.

After a few days, the weather changed dramatically,
and we began the long process of accessing the damage,
determining the losses,
and getting ready to rebuild.

Things are moving very slowly.
The tree is gone, and so are two others that scared us.
A giant tarp on a temporary frame
protects the interior from further water damage.
There is a lot of paper work to complete.
It's a lot to take in, and at times hard to comprehend.

We are thinking this through carefully,
and, after living almost a month in a hotel
we are getting settled temporarily,
into a rented house that is not our home.
But it will become one to us in time.

The Cecil Brunner roses on the front arbor
 were just starting to bloom when this happened.
They will bloom again next year around this time,
when we move back into our rebuilt house.

In the meantime,
I'm thankful to still be here,
to have celebrated another birthday with my family,
to have been given the chance to live my life the best that I can,
and to be able to see the beauty amidst the destruction,
in what was once our home,
 and will be again.

Thank you for stopping by today,
I appreciate your visit!!
I will keep you updated on any new developments.
I hope you will check back in with me now and then.
Until next time,

linked to Susan's A Southern Daydreamer, for Outdoor Wednesday,
and at the Wednesday party at A Beach Cottage. Thanks!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hello from Heart and Home

Hello my friends!

I realize I am long overdue for a post.

But, I have very good reasons for my disappearance from blogging.

You will not believe it when I tell you.

I can hardly believe it myself.

But for now, please be patient with me!

I will be back soon, with a story and pictures that will explain everything.

In the meantime, I miss you all!

I think of you often.

I hope you are well.

I hope you are happy
I hope you are enjoying a beautiful spring.

I will be back again soon.

Until then,

PS. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by Heart and Home while I've been away.
Thank you for the emails and the comments. I appreciate you and your continued support during my absence!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Visit to Hungary, at Heart and Home

Hello everyone!
How's it going?
I'm glad you're here,
I truly appreciate your visit.

I've been taking it slow
 in case you haven't noticed.

BUT, anyway...
I'm back and
here it is:  part two of my travelogue:



We left Austria and headed east,
over the border into Hungary.

After jam-packed days spent
exploring the bustling city of Vienna, (see it here)
the peaceful Hungarian countryside was quite a change!

Expansive, green, and serene,
we drove through it for a few hours until we arrived
 in the natural hot-springs area of Sarvar. 

Everywhere I looked was something historic and
interesting to see!
I think it is beautiful, and a bit like stepping back in time.

Churches and ancient structures dot the landscape.
There are even former forts with former moats.
So much has changed here in the last 20 years.
Some of the roads we traveled on were very new,
and there was no record of them
on a map, or the GPS.

But, my husband's keen sense of direction got us to
where we needed to be.
I love being married to an Eagle Scout!

The road less traveled seems to be
in Hungary, on the way to Sarvar.

This was what most of the highways looked like.
No traffic, for miles on end.
The green fields stretched to the horizon in every direction.

We passed through many picturesque and charming small towns,
each with it's own beautiful church tower.

The architecture was very traditional, yet colorful.

 This was just over the border, in the town of Sopron.
It's the home of Soproni beer,
and bakeries with my favorite poppy seed cake.

 It was definitely worth the travel, the jet lag,
the driving and the cold weather,
to have a big piece of this apfel/mohnkuchen.

I was a very happy girl.
While my husband worked long hours
an hour away at the factory,
I worked long hours getting massages, pedicures, facials,
and relaxing in the hot springs pools
at the Spirit Hotel in Sarvar.
Don't I look refreshed and revitalized?

Next time, I hope to see Budapest, on the other side of Sarvar.
But, in my opinion, this was the perfect first visit to Hungary!

Thanks for dropping by today.
I hope you enjoyed the sights of the Hungarian countryside!
Leave me a comment and let me know you were here!

Until next time,

I'm linking to Outdoor Wednesday, at A Southern Daydreamer
and Good Life Wednesday, at A Beach Cottage.
Thanks Susan and Sarah!

Wednesday Gratitude is on an indefinite hiatus.
Thanks for being patient!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vienna, at Heart and Home

Hello my blogging friends!
Thank you for your patience while I've been away,
I'm here to say a quick hello.

I hope you all are well, and that you had the happiest of holidays,
and that the new year has started out for you in the best way possible!

For me, 2011 has been momentous so far!
My husband and I recently returned
from a quick trip to Austria and Hungary.
He travels there regularly for business.
This time I tagged along, for not exactly a 2nd honeymoon,
but instead a much needed escape from reality!

We left San Francisco early for the 14 hour flight.

Three plane changes later...

...we arrived ready for adventure,
first in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

Day and night, we explored the sights.

The snow from the storms a week earlier
 was melted by the time we arrived.
We bundled up and walked for miles and miles in the cold winter air.

For me, it was love at first sight!

There is no shortage of excitement in this glorious place!

Urban, refined, sophisticated, and very romantic,
exploring Vienna was exhilarating

And any city that puts such a high value on a daily sweet treat
 is my kind of place!

The "cafe'" break is a Viennese tradition!
There is a pastry shop on almost every corner.
There is always time in the afternoon
 to have a * nice pastry, with lots of whipped cream,
and a hot cup of strong Viennese coffee.
...or a beer.

Afterwards, -  time for more sightseeing:

St. Stephan's Cathedral in Stephansplatz, is undergoing renovations.

The front of the building is beneath photo-screen covered scaffolding.

Walking around Stephansplatz,
everywhere I looked
I found more and more things to love
about Vienna:

Beautiful sculptures:

Ancient Roman Ruins beneath the street:

*chocolate truffles, oh my:

Street corner flower stands:

   *Wienerschnitzel und kartoffelsalat:
(YUM!, and no, I didn't eat all that by myself  - we shared!!)

gilded altars, art, and statuary in huge cathedrals:

palaces open for exploring:

arboretum and gardens to wander through at Schonbrunn, the summer palace:

the folly at Schonbrunn:

churches and river boats on the Danube:

If you love art (abundant statues and fountains
 can be seen throughout the city)
museums (too many to visit in a few short days),
 history (Vienna is historically significant and a former Roman stronghold),
music (home of Mozart, Liszt and Strauss)
dancing (400+ balls are held annually in the city),
walking and exploring,(the center of the city is nearly car-free,
 and the underground subway is fast, cheap and easy to use),
eating and drinking (see * above, Austrian food is delicious!)
you will love Vienna!

Vienna has a vitality and energy that is stimulating.
Everyone was friendly and helpful.

It brought me so much joy to stroll the streets,
watch the people,
 and to simply be, there in the midst of everything.
I had a lovely visit,
and I'd happily return, anytime!

Up next:  Hungary

Until next time,

(linking to Outdoor Wednesday, at A Southern Daydreamer.
Thanks, Susan!)