Here is our #CampFire story. I was Houston, TX teaching 6 classes at the International Quilt Festival. This is the largest quilt show in the world. Joe was planning to meet me there, bringing more patterns and books and to help me sell stuff at the Saturday Samplers. I think he was afraid I would lose all the money I’d made before I got home or trade it for magic beans!
Thursday morning, after packing his suitcase, he was watering my new dahlia garden when he saw dark clouds in the sky. His cell rang, it was our son, Matt, who lives in Bakersfield (7 hours away) saying, Dad, I just got an alert for Paradise - you’re under mandatory evacuations! Joe got no warning, very few got any warning alert. Then the phone went dead. Matt thought Joe was dead when power went out and the call dropped. Joe saw large ashes falling from the sky and it got really dark really fast. He started grabbing stuff and throwing them in the back of his truck.
Now the miraculous part of this story. Two weeks before the fire we where watching TV and had a conversation about what he would do if there was a fire here and I was out of town. What would you grab? He remembered that conversation and grabbed the meds, cash, computers and hard drives, financial papers and then got my quilts and wearable arts. Some were in the studio but the award-winning valuable ones where rolled and stored in a closet in the guest room. He then grabbed the photo albums. My hero! He thought he had time for a sewing machine or 2 (I had 7) when he saw flames across the street on our side of the creek advancing toward our home. He jumped in his truck and started to turn to go out towards a main road we always used when he saw 2 good old boys in their lifted 4WD trucks (his angels) doing about 50 miles an hour coming the other way to take the back way out of our little development. He figured they knew something he didn’t so he turned and followed them out and down Pentz road to safety at the bottom of the mountain. He said that when they where filing down the hill, the car in front of him had a personal plate that read, wait for it.., “itl b ok”. He said he reached for his phone to take a picture and fat-fingered the camera into selfie mode and only got a poor quality picture of himself.
We are now feeling very blessed that Joe was so protected. Yes, I lost 7 sewing machines, all my fabrics and many other projects, paintings, and quilts but it’s only stuff and can all be replaced. Good news is, I don’t have any UFOs (that’s unfinished projects in the quilting world) so I guess I win the guild challenge! We are not sure what we will do or where we will live in the long term but, as everyone has seen,. Paradise is devastated. It will take years to rebuild. There was already a shortage of builders in Northern California from the Santa Rosa fire last fall and the fire this summer up in the Redding area.
Everything is gone but we have each other and a new sweet baby girl to focus on. We are so blessed. I’ll keep you posted on our progress and I send my love to all of you who have offered houses, sewing machines, fabrics, and even to do our laundry! Thank you! Please keep praying for us and you may want to talk to your family about what to grab if you only had 15 minutes to evacuate.