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!