Finally (an update)

ivoryhut fire and construction

 
 
It’s been a while since I last posted an update about the fire and I thought today would be a good day for that. First, I want to let you know that the generous contributions from everyone helped us buy a used car that Tom and I now share. We lost three cars in the fire and only received compensation for two of them (the third was a historic car that had no fire coverage). Since our other two cars were just about 10 years old, we didn’t receive much from our auto insurance company. Thanks to everyone’s donations, we were able to buy a used Honda sedan. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of my old Honda, but I cherish it so much more because every time I look at it, I know I’m looking at a precious gift from all of you.

Lessons Learned

 
It’s been seven weeks since the fire and while progress has been made, some things are stuck in a standstill. We finally got the go-signal to begin demolition and cleanup, after weeks of failed attempts to figure out the cause of the fire. It will be a relief to drive up to the property without having to see the pile of rubble. The recent severe weather here, however, has pushed back our demolition plans. I am both eager to get it done and dreading it. But I continue to remind myself that every day is one day closer to being back home again.

The fire has taught us many things. Valuable things, both practical and life-changing. We have learned volumes about the depth of love that exists in friendship, the kindness of strangers, and how easy it is to make that leap from stranger to friend. Many people have told us how strong we are, how resilient. But we can’t take credit for that. What we are inside, we owe to our faith, and where we fall short, the people around us—both far and near—bolster us up, lifting us higher than we can stand on our own.

Thankful

ivoryhut monterey 2002

 
It’s been less than two weeks since the fire, but it feels much longer. Our days are spent trying to take care of the most important tasks, like replacing our identification documents, purchasing the essentials, and coordinating with our insurance agent and the State Farm adjuster so that we can continue moving forward. They gave us a few addresses to check out, places we could move into for the 10-12 months it might take to rebuild our house.

 
We’ve also started looking for one or two good used cars to replace the three that we lost. That part is a teeny bit easier because I’m a Honda girl, which really helps narrow down the search.

 
To say that the process has been trying—and tiring—is an understatement. When you lose all your documents, it’s easy to get stuck in an endless loop of non-identity. You can’t get a replacement license without 6 points of ID. But you can’t get the important points without a government-issued ID. Your car insurance company won’t release payment until they get the titles to the cars. Which you can’t get without your license. And even though you have car rental coverage on your cars, no rental agency will let you have a car without a license.

Family

ivoryhut fire

 
This is a post about loss and riches. About tears despite immense gratitude. And about the kind of love for neighbor that binds us all together.

 
But first, let me tell you a story of how four little girls made a grown woman cry. It was two days after the fire, and Tom and I were on the way to the house—or what’s left of our house—to pick up our mail. On our way there, we passed our neighbor’s house, and his daughters had a cute little lemonade stand in front of their house.

In an instant

Last night, my head was preoccupied with last-minute work on a special project and putting the finishing touches on a post. My husband Tom and I had also been discussing the logistics of possibly attending BlogHer Food 2010 in San Francisco. These were the things that weighed on my mind.

 
A mere hour or so later—an instant, really—we were outside, in our shirts and shorts, watching our house crumble as it was engulfed in flames. I’ll never forget that hissing and crackling noise as my husband’s home of almost 30 years practically disintegrated before our eyes.

 
But we were safe. All of us. Our son Tim, without hesitation, ran back inside when he realized his grandmother was sleeping upstairs. By the time he got to her, it was too late to try and exit the house the same way he came in. Fortunately, Tom had devised a fire escape plan years ago, and Tim was able to bodily carry his feeble 82-year-old grandmother out the window, onto the roof, and eventually down on the deck. The sight of this brave son of mine carrying his grandmother as he ran down the lawn and away from the house is one I will never forget.

about me

I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

If you want to learn more about me, here are 43 things I'd like to do. Here's a little something about my name, in case you were wondering. Here are some other places you'll find me:

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LOST AND FOUND

One summer night in 2010, our house burned to the ground and we lost everything we had. This is the story of what happened and how life and hope can always rise from ashes.



I'm proud to belong to an amazing community of Filipino food lovers. Together, we celebrate this often-neglected Asian cuisine, sharing our family's treasured recipes and discovering new ones along the way. This is our club.
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