Disasters! You may be thinking I’m out of my mind, especially with all the media covering the events of the last few years. Well, that’s exactly why I am writing about disasters.
You see, the local library district released their book “Disasters of the Pikes Peak Region”, based on the history symposium that took place in June of 2012, just before the Waldo Canyon fire devastated a portion of the northwest section of Colorado Springs. This was followed by the Black Forest Fire of 2013, and the flooding in Manitou Springs.
The book’s publication was delayed to include the above incidents. My chapter discussed an 35 million year disaster, which was the volcano that created the Cripple Creek/Victor gold. That event created so much good or bad, depending on what you want to focus on.
Let’s take a look at that phrase, “what you focus on”. I am not saying that disasters are not devastating, but they usually are not all-consuming. When both Waldo, and Black Forest occurred, many people asked if I was okay. Yes, I was. Both were a good 10-25 miles away from where I lived. The possibility of it coming to where I lived was remote at best.
When I and my neighbors lost our basements due to flooding, was the rest of the areaimpacted. No, just select areas. You see that is the thing about media and disasters, they tell the story of the worst part of the event, as they should, but we as listeners should remember, it’s what they focus on.
Writers, when telling their stories, it’s the events they want to tell about, it’s the disasters, challenges, that they focus on. Is it wrong? No. But remember, it’s what we chose to focus on that keeps us in that space. So, chose your focus wisely and remember, there is a large world out there in which disasters are a part, but not the whole picture.
Doris Gardner-McCraw writing as Angela Raines Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in Colorado and Women’s History
This may be a short post. Why? Well, it’s been a challenging year. Bad in many ways and wonderful in others. Sounds like regular life, doesn’t it? Most know I had in excess of $40,000 dollars worth of damage to my home in June. So far, thanks to gofundme I have had $1,700 to work with, along with the generosity of friends who added physical labor to get a least half of the damage personal property out of the basement. We won’t go into the lack of accountability of others like insurance, utilities, government. That is just what is. We’ve all experienced such events in our lives.
Now, I’ve had some pretty stressful days, but I also know, things do have a way of working out, or what goes around comes around. Here’s where the title comes in. As Halloween comes around, talk of spirits and angels takes center stage. This will continue through the new year. When life gets pretty yucky, it is the knowledge that things will work out that keeps you from doing injury to yourself or others. Doesn’t mean you don’t want to, but…
The other side of the coin is the wonderful things that happen. This Halloween, in fact today, my second novella is being released. Called Angel of Salvation Valley, it deals with the stuff life throws at us and the choices we make as we make life’s journey. I’m pretty happy, no proud of this story. It has angels, devils and a few other fun characters. I’m going to give away a copy of the novella to one commenter on October 21.
In the meantime, have a great week, month and year. Enjoy what life gives you and love and honor those who are making the journey with you. Follow your passions, for they seem to be the key to the joy we share with others.
Woke up about 3:00 am several days ago and wondered why our “guard cat” AJ was standing at the top of the stairs and growling into the darkness below. Woke up at 4:30 and wondered why my husband had decided to take a shower in what constitutes the middle of the night to my way of thinking. Woke up at 5:00 to the sound of his feet pounding up the stairs as he yelled: “We’ve got a flood!”
We didn’t need an ark, though for a while that seemed a possibility. Mike went into the crawl space to turn off the water and survey the damage. We found that the hose had come off of the back of the fridge that went to the icemaker. Everything was wet but the damage didn’t seem that extensive. I called my insurance dude and a company he recommended to come out and clean the mess up. Easy peasy.
Did I mention we have hardwoods covering almost the entire main floor of the house?
The experts came, studied the situation, and ripped up most of the hardwood. The subflooring is damaged in some places, so weak that one wrong move and you’ll find yourself in the crawlspace without stepping outside.
For days we had many, many giant industrial fans and dehumidifiers rumbling through the house and crawl space and we felt as if we lived in a wind tunnel. The kitchen cabinets my husband installed less than two weeks earlier were pulled out, along with the new sink and every other built-in cabinet and appliance in the kitchen that rested on the floor.
We had started to paint our living room a year-ago August and in the manner of all home improvement projects in our life, we didn’t finish it until this September. Granted there was much rewiring to do and changing of layout but still, the project should never have taken that long. Now, because of the flood, the floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcase, newly painted and beautiful, was removed from its moorings and sits forlornly off to the side. I can barely stand to look at it.
I’ve had a claim rep here and someone to give me a bid to put everything back together but for now I wait.
In the meantime, the main floor of the house of an obstacle course in weak subflooring, raised nails, and abandoned cabinetry. It is unlivable and unusable except for the laundry room and fridge (minus the ice maker).
For all intents and purposes we are living in the master bedroom suite – Three humans, three cats and two guinea pigs. While my daughter’s room is down the hall, the television and computer are in Mike’s and my room, along with the animals, so here is where she does her homework, plays, and generally hangs out. Our bedroom has become the kitchen, living room, dining room, and office: an ark of sorts.
And so I wait, sending out my dove in the form of calls to the insurance company, hoping to see it carrying back new hardwood flooring in its little beak and praying I won’t have to wait 40 more days.
I know I will survive this and try to focus on the positives. We had just started a kitchen remodel and will now have new floors to go with the repainted walls, cabinets, etc. The closest under the stairs needed to be emptied and reorganized and the water damage crew did the emptying for me. Scuffs and stains on the few bits of remaining hardwood will be sanded and refinished with the new, so it will all look nice.
This is good, right? That’s what everyone tells me but if I had a choice, this isn’t the one I would have made.
In the midst of this drama I am reminded of an essay Dave Barry wrote about moving. In the end, he decided, the most practical thing was to burn all of your stuff in a huge bonfire and start over at your new house. I’m beginning to think this sage advice might apply here as well.
I know I will survive. The only question is how sane will I be by the time everything is back to normal? I’ll keep you posted.
Insatiable curiosity. That is my blessing and my curse. I want to know everything. My ex-husband, who is still a good friend, once told me I was trying to read everything ever written and I was about ten thousand years behind. Of course that didn’t stop either one of us from trying.
That same curiosity has led me to a lifetime of self-education beyond my college degree. Most Sundays will find me at the local library in the special collections and historic newspaper section. That lead to the first of my non-fiction pieces. I wrote a chapter on Karol W. Smith, Colorado’s first state film commissioner, for the Pikes Peak Library Districts book “Film and Photography on the Front Range”. Additionally I spoke at the 2011 symposium on that same subject. The book is available, for those interested at: http://www.amazon.com/Photography-Regional-History-Series-ebook/dp/B008FPYBRK. The portion of the symposium I spoke at is available at: http://vimeo.com/37828345. I follow immediately after Steve.
This year I spoke at the ‘Disasters in the Pikes Peak Region’ history symposium on the Cripple Creek Volcano and its subsequent aftermath. The book for that series has yet to be released. Here is the link to the teaser I did for the symposium: http://vimeo.com/album/1940331/video/42009928.
Although I love fiction and do a fair amount of writing in the area, I find that non-fiction holds a fascination that I just don’t want to let go of. An1879 murder trial in Colorado Springs caught my attention and my first and only novel is based on that event. (No it has not been released) Subsequent research has led to a desire to tell the true story of the people involved and their lives after the trial. So many stories, so little time. If anyone has an in to winning a few million or even a few thousand dollars I would maybe quite working and write and research full time.
That insatiable curiosity I mentioned at the beginning still leads me a merry chase. Not only do I love writing but I adore researching.
So on Sunday afternoons when I am not working you know where you can find me. I will be working to whittle that ten thousand year pile down to a workable size.