Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Burning Down the House

Here are the pictures we got from the city fire chief, taken by one of the first firefighters to arrive on the scene. Pretty cool, huh?

These first eight pictures, above, were taken within a span of nine minutes. The fire spread rapidly because of the high winds coming up the hill from the behind the house. These last two pictures, below, were taken about 15 minutes later.


As David wrote in the previous post, this process has been very long and emotionally and physically draining. Every day we have been able to see God's hand in this - thank you for your prayers.
We are thankful for:
* Safety - David's parents are fine, David's sister Katie arrived from Chicago safely, and our trip went smoothly.
* Graham - He makes Paul and Peggy smile when nobody else can.
* Family - We've been leaving Graham with my parents for large portions of the day while we meet with various insurance people, city people, demolition people, etc. My brothers went down to Finks to help haul out large tools that could be saved, and they went back in with grubby clothes to see what else was salvagable. Magnusons have provided meals for us, and Grandma Shaw has provided support, information, and a place for Paul, Peggy and Katie to stay.
* Insurance - USAA has been amazing.
* Neighbors - The Finks' neighbors are fantastic. We've used thier bathrooms and they've brought us water, brownies, sandwiches, cake, rags for our hands, a warm place to talk....the list goes on.

Thank you all for your prayers. There are many major decisions to be made in the next few weeks. Please pray that Paul and Peggy are able to make wise decisions without feeling rushed. We'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Great Fire of '07

Well, it's been a long few days, as you might imagine. Here are some photos of the house immediately after the fire. (We're told that one of the first policemen to reach the scene got some pictures of the house in flames, but we haven't seen these yet. We'll post them if we get them.) My folks are holding up well, all things considered. They spent most of the day yesterday with the insurance adjuster making a detailed inventory of the contents of each room in the house, and they're going to get replacement cost for most of their stuff. Sarah took notes on the meeting and helped them get organized. I spent the morning running errands for essentials--things like prescriptions, insulin, and organizational materials. My brother-in-law, Adam, and I spent the afternoon sorting through the rubble of the house for any recoverables. Amazingly, we found most of the Christmas and Easter decorations wholly intact in plastic containers under the staircase. We found piles of pictures, mostly burned/soaked, in the remains of my mom's room. Some will be saved, but most were ruined. We also got the contents of two filing cabinets, filled with important documents like birth certificates, military records, and owner's manuals (these are important for establishing ownership for insurance purposes). Today will involve more of the same--my folks working on stuff with the insurance company, and the rest of use getting things out of the house and helping them get organized. For now, my parents are staying at my mother's mom's house in Mahtomedi. The insurance company will pay for them to rent an apartment or hotel room for up to a year, however, while they rebuild or look for a new place, so they should be able to move into their own digs soon.
Here is a frontal view of the house, the least damaged side. No roof, however.

Here is one of the firemen putting out a hot spot.

Here's my dad (khaki pants, grey shirt) taking it all in.

The fire most likely started in the back. Not much left back here.

This was the living room.

This was my mom's bedroom.

This was the kitchen.

This was . . . well . . . I'm not sure.

Thanks again to everyone for your help, thoughts, and prayers. We'll keep you posted with updates as we get them.

Monday, April 23, 2007


My parents' house burned down Saturday afternoon. We were packed and on the road within 90 minutes of getting the call, and after a marathon road trip Saturday night and all day Sunday, we arrived in Minnesota at about 2am last night. Here is a report on the fire from the local newspaper. We'll post pictures as we get them.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

GPoD 4.19.2007

With Daddy out of town this week, Graham has taken over the tool department.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Blustery Sort of Day

We lost power this morning at 10:30 due to the high winds. It didn't come on again until 8:30 tonight. Although today was a fairly nice day, it was a bit chilly and a house without heat makes a somewhat chilly day seem far more chilly. To make matters worse, David went to Atlanta this morning for a week-long conference. So, what do you do with a cold house, a toddler, cold water, no lights, and the prospect of a very cold night? Go to the museum (to kill time and wear the toddler out), and then go to Jipps (to make a plan with good friends who were also powerless - in the electrical sense). In the end, the museum was fun but Josh and Amber Jipp brought far greater comfort. Amber went to a stranger's house to buy dry wood while I went to the store to get batteries and more matches. Josh and Amber planned to stay the night next to our toasty fire when the lights suddenly came back on. Today I have been most thankful for friends and electricity. In that order.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Weekend work

Our weekend work can be summed up in three words: Caterpillars, gardens, and paint.

Friday, April 13, 2007

G.PoD 4.12.2007

Graham and I went caterpillar hunting yesterday. He found an ant on a tree, dirt for his shovel, his bubble wand, dead worms in a puddle, and lots of mud. Then he took a bath.
Graham bonked his head on the edge of the bed on Wednesday, which is why he has a battle wound on his forehead.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I had my oral defense of my preliminary exams today. I passed.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007