Saturday, April 23, 2005

March and April 2005

Things began to settle down a bit, but we still had tons of fire-related work to do. We had to move everything out of the addition, since the whole place was condemned.

Doug moved his new lathe out to the other shop where we were living and was actually able to resume making mouthpieces fairly soon after that. He was supposed to get everything else ready to move out of the basement of the addition, but he didn’t get it all ready in time.

Meanwhile, I tackled the main level of the addition which was mostly my stuff – I thought. I had no idea how much of Doug’s stuff was also there – boxes and boxes of memorabilia from his parents’ house that they had lovingly saved for him over the years. They went to all of his concerts and I found between five and twenty copies of the same program for every concert he ever played. Often there were five programs for the same concert in three different boxes. I don’t know how many museums they thought would one day be erected in his honor around the world, but they were ready.

It was really fun seeing a program for a concert that we had both participated in about seven years before we actually met for real. We were in college at different schools in the area. The madrigals, which I sang in, did a joint concert with the trombone choir, which had additional players from Doug’s school, including Doug. It was two separate halves of the program so we didn’t actually perform together, and we didn’t meet yet. But both of our names were there on the same program. When we finally did meet years later at the wedding of mutual friends, we also figured out that we had probably both participated at the same swim meet when we were 7 and 8 because our teams had swum against each other for several years in a row. His team always beat my team, but we had cooler swimsuits. It also turned out that Doug’s sister in law went to my high school, graduated a year ahead of me, and we both majored in piano in college. So many coincidences!

So I got all of his memorabilia organized and down to one program copy per event. He still saves his programs. It must be genetic in addition to being chronic. Then I organized all of my stuff. I decided that I didn’t want to put a bunch of junk into storage and then have to bring it all back when we moved back in, so I got rid of most of my unnecessary stuff. I’ll probably wish that I had tossed even more of it, but it is hard to get rid of stuff when you’ve so recently lost so many things. It makes you want to hang on to what you do have left, even if it is junk. Anyway I put everything in cardboard file boxes, labeled each box with its general contents, and gave it a number. Then I listed all of the boxes, their numbers and their contents on my computer so it will be really easy to unpack everything (or not) when we get it all out of storage.

Next I started working on the personal property inventory. This was an unbelievably tedious process. In my current mental state of needing to make up for what happened, I became completely and obsessively accurate. This huge project of listing of all of our destroyed belongings and their monetary value absolutely took over my life. I really wanted it to be perfect in every way possible. I was probably overcompensating for my sense of guilt about the fire, but how do you decide how sloppy you’re going to be on something like this once you’ve decided to not do your best? I needed to do my best because we really needed the money. The settlement for personal property is based on the value of the item and if you replace it you get fully reimbursed. If you don’t replace it you get 25-75% of its value, based on its age. Most of our things were in the 25% category, but there was enough stuff that it would still add up.

First I went around the house room by room and spoke into a recorder listing all the items in each section of the room. In the kitchen, the food and spices were heat damaged and unsafe to eat, and all of the dishes were blackened by smoke. Doug had them soaking for days and the soot still would not fully come off. The adjustor said that the kitchen was a total loss even though everything was completely recognizable. So it was easy to list everything in that room because it was all still there. There were tons of items – food, spices, vitamins, dishes, Tupperware, appliances, etc. It took a couple of hours just to name everything for the tape recorder.

When I got back to the rental house I transcribed the lists and put them into a table on my computer. Everything was listed by location. When I finished with the list I gave it to my mother who had offered to help. She went to the store or online and got prices for all of the items in the kitchen and the bathroom and for many of the dishes and furniture items as well. That was a huge help and I am so grateful that I did not have to do that for all of those many small items. Whenever we replaced an item I numbered the receipt and the item and then entered the receipt and item numbers on the table next to the item we had replaced. The whole process was very thorough and incredibly tedious. Everything we bought was to replace something so it all got put on the chart. We had so many clothes before. I decided to wait and make the clothing lists while I was on my ship gig where I would have time to sit and think and visualize the shelves and cabinets and closets.