I have been out of commission for several months......here's why.
We bought the house almost 35 years ago. The canyon setting was lovely, away from the bustle and stress of TV news, but the house wasn't my type, so we decided we'd sell it in a couple of years. The next year there was a terrible fire in our canyon. We were evacuated and many houses fell. When the flames came to our fence the firemen used our pool water to extinguish it. I have often thought it was the best use ever made of our pool. Of course the pool man might argue.
The next year or so I learned a lesson about living in canyons, which I once thought were such bucolic, natural settings. When the hills are denuded of foliage by fire, a flood naturally occurs. El Nino came along, and with the deluge came the mud. The waters were so high that a Volkswagen was buried in the street in front of our house. It made the cover of a national news magazine. And my two-year-old son, so cute in his little hat, made the ten o'clock news as he stood on the "embankment" (once the curb) pointing at the scene. And this was paradise?
A few months later I was pregnant with what would be our last child. We decided the house was too small, but the market no longer supported selling it, so we embarked on an upstairs addition so my older stepchildren could have their own rooms. The contractor was not very conscientious and neglected to put up plastic barricades. The debris, combined with bad Santa Ana winds, and I suppose some exhaustion, put me into the hospital with what they called "pregnancy-induced asthma." I was guest of UCLA Med Center for three months, much of it in the ICU battling for the breath of life.
My in-utero daughter, always one to react quickly to a situation, got out fast. Six weeks fast. She was actually discharged from the hospital at five (healthy) pounds before I was well enough to go home. So after many more months we had a new addition, a new baby and over several years and eight surgeries I had new hips courtesy of all the steroid medication I'd been on for the asthma.
Present day: Last year, on the day I was leaving for Vietnam, a gnarly old oak tree fell on our house. Luckily, no person was injured, just the roof. The insurance company came out, removed the tree and covered the roof. I came home from Vietnam. It rained. The tarps didn't hold, and it poured into the house. That was May, 2011. All through the summer we kept calling the insurance rep asking when they would fix the roof and ceilings. No reply. Nada.
Come October, a new storm hit. This time the damage to the house was major. We had to tear out the entire kitchen and several other rooms, including ceilings and floors. The dampness smelled terrible and there had to be major mold demolition. Huge plastic sheeting barriers were constructed to protect the rest of our home. It looked like tent city.
We had to pack up much of the house and move out. the insurance company is paying for accommodations while they've been arguing about the scope of the roof repair. For the months they spent debating, they could have paid for the whole project and saved a lot of our living expenses. Such stupidity. Finally, the building inspector told them they had to repair the entire roof up to code.
We have been waiting for the check. Meanwhile, we have been living in limbo, with some stuff with us in the apartment, and some still at home. When we have to visit what was once our refuge, our castle, , it looks like a war zone.
And the whole time I have been unable to write a word.
The check finally came last weekend, exactly one year after the tree fell.
Hopefully, the roof construction will start. We might be able to move back in one day. But we still have to tackle the inside and a kitchen I was not prepared to build. Maybe, if we're ever done, I'll finally like the house...thirty some years later.
So Eden has been replaced by fires, floods, illness, more floods...and we even have snakes in our backyard. Luckily there were no animals that had to be brought in or out two- by -two. But the other day when I was there surveying my garden I thought the apple trees looked pretty sad, and then I spied.... a grasshopper. Can locusts be far behind? I said a prayer and got out fast.