Feathering the Nest is the continuing story of the loss of our home in the San Diego Witch Fire 2007. To read earlier posts in this series, click on the links at the end of this post.
The next day, Thursday, November 1st, is the first “normal” day I’ve had: get up, get ready to go to work, go to work, come home, have dinner with family and spend the evening with Charlie and Coco. I have Fridays off, so we are moving to the condo tomorrow. It should be a relatively easy move, since we have practically nothing.
Later in the day, I get a call from our Human Resources Department. A group of employees in one of our out-of-state offices has taken up a collection to help us and the check is in the mail to us. I am touched and start to cry again.
Friday, November 2nd; it’s moving day! This is the 3rd time we have moved in less than 2 weeks. The first time, we moved from our home (before it was destroyed) to a hotel; the second time, from the hotel to our in-laws house and now, this third time, we are moving from our in-laws house to a rented condo in downtown San Diego, 35 miles from our old home. This condo is 3 blocks from my office and I’m looking forward to walking to work and not having an hour plus commute each way.
My car is empty (because I had given our artwork to a co-worker for storage) and Charlie’s car is packed with all our belongings, including Coco. We said good-bye to our wonderful, caring in-laws the night before and since it is Friday morning, they have already left for work. We are hopeful that settling Coco into a less stressful environment will be the answer to our prayers, making Coco feel like a “normal” kitty again and ending his caterwauling and biting.
Forty-five minutes later, we arrive at our new home and are greeted by our new neighbors. The man, Jon, is the son of our landlady and he and his girlfriend, Ali, live in the condo right next door. In fact, I have known Jon for more than 20 years, because he is the cousin of my former boss. In addition, they were the previous occupants of our new condo and had left the furnishings behind because they bought the larger condo next door and splurged on some new furniture. Of course, I knew all this ahead of time, just didn’t reveal it to readers in “Not Me! Why Me? Who Me? It’s Me.” Although I’ve known Jon, informally, since he was a very young man, Charlie has never met him. He and his girlfriend have two cats and he immediately makes a beeline for Coco, making friends with him instantly. They offer to help us “move in” and I explain we have very little and it will only take a few minutes. But, they help anyway and we are done in one trip.
They realize that we don’t have sheets and towels. But, we have a blanket; a handmade quilt made by one of our company executives and given to me by her on my first day back to work. So, Ali goes next door and brings back spare sheets and towels for us to use. She helps me make the bed and I realize that I have made a lifelong friend. They show us how to operate the TV and we call the cable company to get the hookup installed and the service changed to our name. There is a landline phone in the unit, so we call the phone company from our cell phone and get service installed to our new home phone. We call the gas and electric company and get the service changed to our name. Although we now have a fully supplied and operational kitchen, we have no groceries, no pots and pans, no kitchen utensils, no kitchen linens, no coffee make, no dishes, no glassware, no eating implements. I realize I’m going to have to make an effort to supply our new home quickly and take a minute, silently thanking our insurance company for the generous check we had received.
Jon and Ali invite us to dinner at their favorite local restaurant, a few blocks from our new home. Our new neighborhood is quite hilly, and Charlie with his handicap, can’t walk; even though it’s only a few blocks away. We leave Coco behind for the first time and head out in Charlie’s car. This little café soon becomes our favorite, too. We then return home and settle in for the night.
The next day, Saturday, November 3rd, I decide to go shopping and try to round-up the various necessities needed. We have no idea how long this rented condo will be our home, so we’d better get started in making it useful and feeling like our home. We decide that Charlie should stay home with Coco and help him acclimate to his new environment.
My first stop is Bed, Bath & Beyond and I spend probably two hours there buying sheets, pillows, pillow covers, mattress pad, comforter, blankets, towels, kitchen towels, hot pads, soup dishes, shower curtains and hanging implements, a shower safety seat for Charlie, etc. By the time I’m done, my car is full and I have to take these new purchases home and unpack the care before I can go to my next destination.
In the previous chapter, I mentioned I was sick. I have asthma and had gotten a pretty severe upper respiratory infection from all the smoke hovering around from the burning fires. While all the fires are now contained, the air quality is not good. So, I’m feeling pretty darn lousy, but we need stuff and Charlie can’t physically manage these tasks.
So, with one trip down, I head out next to Costco. There, I stock up on some food (not much, because our condo’s kitchen is small as is the refrigerator), dish soap, hand soap, laundry soap and anything that I think will work in our small space, such as silverware, glassware, pots and pans, baking dishes and baking sheets, food storage containers, etc. All these items are in large boxes and again my car is full. I go back to the condo and unload all this new stuff. Fortunately, our condo has grocery baskets in the parking garage to use to unload cars. It takes multiple trips before the car is again empty.
The next trip is to Target. There I buy a set of dishes, miscellaneous and necessary cooking implements and utensils, cleaning supplies, vacuum cleaner, broom, mop, dust pan, trash cans, trash bags, storage bags, aluminum foil, ironing board, iron, toaster, coffee maker, knives, mixing bowls, hand mixer, etc. Again, I filled my car. Again, it took several trips back-and-forth from the car to our condo to unload.
Then, I proceed to a lighting store. Our rented condo has overhead lights in the kitchen, dining nook and bathrooms. But, all other rooms (2 bedrooms and living room) have no overhead lighting! So, I needed lamps and light bulbs. Mission accomplished and the car is full once more. Back home to unload and unpack.
Once home from this last trip, Charlie and I unpack all the boxes and put everything away. Then, we break down the boxes and make several trips to the dumpster in our parking garage, disposing of all the broken down boxes and packing materials. By the time we are through, I’m dog tired (and sick) and not up to cooking. We drive to our new favorite restaurant for dinner. We come home and I collapse in bed.
The next morning, Sunday, November 4th, I’m really sick. But, I manage to get myself together and we head out to our new favorite restaurant for a late breakfast and then find a neighborhood grocery store. There we stock up on the essential groceries plus enough food so that, hopefully, we can start cooking at home instead of eating out all the time. Again, we are grateful for the nest egg we have because of the insurance company’s prompt payment to us, but we don’t want our money to fritter away in restaurant meals and unnecessary expenditures. We fully intend to rebuild our home and want as much money as possible available to do so.
The downtown neighborhood grocery store is a treat. Very similar to the grocery store that we normally frequent (same grocery store chain), but many more ready-made items with an impressive bakery and an unbelievable deli! Even though we vow to start cooking more meals at our new home, this deli with its vast array of pre-made choices is a wonder to behold!
We go home, unload and unpack and make our first homemade dinner. I crash and burn – tomorrow I go back to work.
Ali and Jon – our new wonderful neighbors, who are now lifelong friends.
Our downtown condo is in the flight plan of the San Diego Airport – Lindberg Field. Although these pictures were taken from outside the condo, one of the windows faced north and you could watch airplanes approaching throughout the day. Surprisingly, the sound from the approaching planes was minimal. It was the sirens from the ambulances going by every 30 minutes to an hour that would drive Charlie crazy! One day, in an 8 hour time period, he counted 23 ambulances! I should mention that the reason for the ambulance activity is because the condo faced a street that was the major corridor to the local hospital, which was probably only a mile or two away. Anyway, the airplanes were NOTHING compared to the ambulances!
The skyline of beautiful San Diego, taken from a local park. Our new downtown home! Bottom picture shows another skyline view of San Diego with a cruise ship in the harbor.
A navy ship coming to port. Pictures of the airplanes on display on the U.S.S. Midway. The Midway is a floating museum. Jon and Ali are volunteers on the Midway and love working there.
And a final shot, from our balcony, of the twilight sky.
The series continues tomorrow with Chapter Eleven – “The Blind Leading the Blind.”
Until Next Time,
(the preceding chapters in this series)
Prologue – Any Way the Wind Blows
Chapter One – The Valley That Time Forgot
Chapter Two – Eye of the Storm
Chapter Three – In the Blink of an Eye
Chapter Three.One – Too Far From Home (Tiffany’s story)
Chapter Four – Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Chapter Five – In a Blue Funk
Chapter Six – Back to Square One
Chapter Seven – One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Chapter Eight – Not Me, Why Me, Who Me, It’s Me
Chapter Nine – The Whole Kit and Caboodle