While I was in Oregon working on the house, Doug would ask me, “Mom, are you having any fun yet? Taking a day off?” The answer was always “NO”. In Calaveras County, our community is so lopsided and still in shock with 547 families burned out. Displaced people with their lives on hold, their future uncertain. My friend, Nancy Stehura told me about a benefit dinner for fire victims at Prospector Brewing Co. on Main St. Murphys. Nancy told me on the phone, “I know so many people who would love to have YOUR problems.” Touche’
So Jan and I decided to stop and smell the roses, put any personal issues aside and go have dinner.
We left her place and the sky above was a painting of puffy orange clouds.
At the Prospector Brewing Company, we told the bartender we had come for the benefit dinner. He said, “We don’t serve dinner here. We aren’t having a benefit dinner.” The big question mark was on my forehead, how could this have happened two nights in a row? He pointed to a bin on the bar asking for lightly used clothing for fire victims. He handed us a beer and wine menu with a list of appetizers we could order. So, we ordered a drink and a bucket of unshelled peanuts.
The band set up and got going. If the sign on the wall is correct, they are the Samba Breeze and there was a donation box set up to benefit Jules and Sean Koopman. Hmm.
Not long after, Nancy arrived with about seven families who had burned out in the same neighborhood. The young girl and her mother, and the woman in blue, who I met later, Sue Koopman, burned out. Sue got up and made a speech from the band stand to support fire victims with donations. I couldn’t hear. In fact, sitting next to each other, Jan and I shouted our conversation over the music. But we got the gist of things and put money in the box and many other patrons did the same.
My friend Nancy with her son. He is so tall, she fits under his arm. He burned out in Mountain Ranch and is bunking in with his mother in San Andreas, temporarily, part time. Someone, I think it was Nancy, told me the ground was heated with the fire, the rains came and bulbs that normally bloom in the spring, are now poking shoots up through the ashes.
Jan having a conversation with Sue, about the level of devastation, and the difficulty of finding places to rent, especially if people have pets. Jan offered her acreage to place a trailer on and the offer was accepted. Sue knows someone who does massage and Jan has a table in her house. I’m cogitating how I can do the same thing. The trouble for most of the victims, is their jobs and connections are on the far side of the county, or like Sue, in Amador County. Too far to drive everyday.
Sue and her partner, Danny, whose last name I didn’t catch, have decided they are going to accept a Fema trailer and stay on the property and rebuild. Danny has a place in Hawaii, where they could move, but, they want to rebuild. It’s the hard way, but we are so grateful that families are staying. There is another benefit coming up for 5 firemen who lost their houses while they were fighting to save their neighbors.
Yes, it really is time to stop and smell the roses, be thankful, and find the green shoots coming up in our lives.