Sunday, March 22, 2015

Frozen Warnings

In the face of the obscene, explicit malice of the jungle, which lacks only dinosaurs as punctuation, I feel like a half-finished, poorly expressed sentence in a cheap novel.”
― Werner Herzog

Ruminations On Ruins and Preserving The Past
My story begins with the decision to downsize our lifestyle and as a result of this planned transition, I had gathered, among many household items, my large collection of books into our garage in order to cull through them as to decide which ones to keep and which to donate to our local library.
In going through the many books during this process, I came across a biography of Richard Nickles, a Chicago preservationist who lost his life trying to save pieces of the Chicago Stock Exchange,when the building collapsed on top of him, burying him the rubble. 
I pulled the book out and brought it into the house and began to reread it, and consequently decided to use one of his photographs as a theme on my Facebook page. Here is the photograph. A few days later, this would prove to be an interesting choice in relation to what was about to occur. Inset into "theme" photograph, I placed a photograph of myself taken in our kitchen with the roof and skylights of our house illuminating this portrait. It remains as I write this on my page. My motive for doing so was based on the subject of loss, specifically the loss of the record of a physical history that accompanies memory.

A Failure Alert
The following day, I set about completing various tasks I had set myself to accomplish several days earlier. One of them was the replacement of a battery in a smoke detector outside of my daughters room that had been chirping to alert us to the need to change it. I also went into my daughters room located above our garage to check that detector just as a safety precaution. These smoke detectors, as some of you know chirp about every minute or so in this alert process. I spent several minutes there and hearing nothing, I moved on to other tasks. This room was to vanish completely in what was to follow.

An Overwhelming Task
Later in the day, our neighbor stopped my wife, to tell her that a smoke detector was "chirping" in my daughter's room which faced their house. I thought to myself, how odd that was just having done the earlier routine of checking them. I rechecked her room above the garage and the detector seemed just fine.I put rechecking it on my list of things to do the following day.
That afternoon my wife and this neighbor had a long conversation regarding downsizing and my wife proceeded to explain how overwhelming this process was and she had the same conversation later that evening with my sister, which also included repairs beyond simply getting rid of things. These tasks seemed nearly impossible to accomplish when taking in their sum total.

A Reappearance and A Loss
I fell asleep that night and found myself in a room whose outlines were blurry and across from me was my son who had passed away some five or so years ago. I was overjoyed to see him again and expressed this to him in a ongoing set of soliloquies. There was no doubt it was Matt. He said nothing but looked into my eyes with a sort of focused stare. I suppose I did not let him get a word in edgewise. I awoke saddened and after wrestling with my thoughts and some tossing and turning, I fell back asleep only to find myself in a room whose outlines were vague and this dream began in midstream as if I had dropped into it while it had begun ..some time ago. I more or less jumped into myself while I was reacting to the recognition one of our pets had been killed, and the experience in this dream as well as immediately afterward, was extremely emotional and upsetting.

Fire and Erasure
It was around five in the afternoon and I was reading the Nickle book in the great room adjoining the kitchen when the power instantly went off. Everything went dead. I assumed something had happened at some distance with the power companies facilities. Five to eight minutes later all the smoke alarms went off. My neighbor was knocking furiously on my front door..these two events were simultaneous. Smoke began to drift through the house coming from the garage below my daughters room. I tried to enter but the flames and smoke were overwhelming. The house was burning down at a furious rate.

If you’re purely after facts, please buy yourself the phone directory of Manhattan. It has four million times correct facts. But it doesn’t illuminate.”
― Werner Herzog

We lost Kiwi one of our cats and from time to time out of nowhere I would "lose it" thinking about her. All of our physical history was lost. All we have our memories. The ribs of the roof ( what remained of it ) resembled Nickle's photograph. Mathew's ashes were saved by some very brave firemen and that's was the focus of my daughter and myself as expressed to the firemen. The Facebook page of myself in my house within ruins as I mentioned earlier remains posted. Matthew's reappearance alongside my mourning in advance of Kiwi's death are indelibly lodged in my mind. A burden of dreams The overwhelming task that was so heavily discussed in regard to downsizing vanished in the fire in a matter of minutes. A dark mirror was placed before me. My daughters interview with the media encapsulates a shared feeling in the face of a nameless cruelty.

UNION COUNTY, N.C. -- A Union County family is looking for a new place to stay after their homes went up in flames Monday night. All their possessions are gone, but they weren't hurt and they saved the one possession that could never be replaced.
"I heard this really loud pop and then clank, clank, clank," said Kara Duensing.
Kara was inside her family home on Lowergate Lane, where only charred remains are left, and didn't know her house was on fire.
"Our neighbor across the street came and banged on our door and said your garage is on fire," said Duensing.
Kara and her parents quickly got their four dogs out, and one cat. They're still searching for two missing cats.. It wasn't until they got outside they realized their most irreplaceable possession was inside: her brother's urn.
"They asked if we had anything and at that time. I couldn't think but then we said, 'Oh my God, Matthew is in there,' and they brought him out," said Duensing.
Matthew passed away from an enlarged heart in 2009, at the age of 21. He was his sister's best friend.


  1. I'm so sorry. How inadequate that sounds.

  2. Strange story, BD, and I'm sorry to find your post ended so traumatically.

    It's too bad that we rarely ever quite "get" our premonitions about the events in our lives, until generally it's too late. But then we've never been taught how to interpret the various ways the "knucklebones" fall... those strange urges, meditations, visions, dreams, insights, etc. that metaphorically drift thru our consciousness on a daily basis. That we can only "read" the ways in which they land (regrettably) after the fact, is one of the tragedies of the human condition.

    I'm just writing this off the top of my head. In actuality, the reality of your present situation is appalling, and I'm just hoping that something comes along soon and saves the day.

    The irony lies in your previous wish to down-size. Well, yeah, mission accomplished! But, I'm hoping you'll manage to "up-size" and find/save more things from the ruins.

    RIP, Kiwi...

    And, although this, too, seems inadequate, I'm wishing you and your family several well-deserved miracles.

  3. I'm at a loss for anything to say other than so sorry for your loss and happy that no one was injured.

  4. I'm very sorry to hear that Bruce. I hope you & your family are doing as well as can be possible under such circumstances.

  5. Whenever I contemplate the drama of trauma I always say to myself that since this happened and that happened there's no way anything really that bad can happen to me or my family again as we've lived through enough. But that must just be my ego malware talking as life is never quite through with you until you're through with life.

    I hope you've started cataloging this as yet one more epic pitstop along your Faulknerian, or would it be Dylan Thomaslike, journey of cycles of creation and destruction that befall you?

    Because the last thing you want to be doing us standing around holding a chicken, or was it a turkey at the end of a Herzog movie as the carnivalesque ride of life as you going around in circles like it's some merry go round.