Thursday, February 16, 2006


Okay, whoever up there has been trying to get my attention, I'M LISTENING!

On Tuesday afternoon, the subcontractors who had been hired by RestorX to decontaminate and clean my furnace (as the last part of the sewage flood cleanup before reconstruction could begin) accidentally ignited a piece of foam that was used in the cleanup process within the ductwork. When the exchange kicked in, it turned my oil furnace and the ducts into a giant blowtorch. I grabbed my daughter's guinea pig cage (with James Brown inside), let Wiley out the front and left the back open for Punky. I called 911 as the furnace guys tried their best to stop the flames. But the thick black smoke was too much, and I sat on the front lawn and stared in wonder as my house burned.

The house that Sam and I bought as a young couple with a toddler, back when I was working as a concept artist in the videogame industry. Our first home. The only home Tyler can remember. The only home Kayleigh has ever known. The home Sam died in.

The kids were at school, so they had to be told. Why, in the name of an ordered universe, must my children have to withstand yet ANOTHER horror? I don't care about being kicked around - I've been a rock all my life. But leave my kids alone, damnit.

We'd just been replacing some of the stuff we'd lost in the flood. Now we have to replace the replacements.

All the stuff we'd saved the night of the flood had been stacked upstairs. Poof.

The new TV, the new leather couches that were my attempt to create a stable home out of what chaos my life had become in the last year. We enjoyed them for 5 days. All the new studio equipment, the work computers (jury is out on salvaging hard drives - the laptop drive may be saved, thank you Dell). Photo albums, CD & DVD archives. Our film collection, our music collection, our original music master tapes and digital archives. Our business - from tax records to content. 1 of a kind artwork by friends and by me. The huge forest painting I did for Sam's 26th birthday. The Ovation guitar she gave me for my 22nd. 20 years of our life together, and family history dating back generations.

Just stuff, sure. But HISTORY. It ain't the Library of Alexandria, but it may as well be to me, to my kids.

The contractor and fire inspectors agreed - it's back to bare external studs and rebuild from scratch. At least 5 months. The house across the street is a rental and the insurance companies are trying to get us in there on a 6 month lease. It would be the ideal annex for the rebuild operation.

The wagons are again being circled, and the community is pulling together. How sick I am of having to be the object and beneficiary of that community once again. Not that I'm ungrateful - I am blessed beyond imagination to have an incredible network of friends, family and community (both local and international). I just don't want to NEED help again. I've been needy enough this past year. Still, when this stuff gets put on you, how else can you possibly stand up without the help of others? The lyric from Nada Surf's "Do it Again" say it perfectly:

Maybe this weight was a gift
Like I had to see what I could lift

Honestly, this is shock talking. I'm not as rational on the inside. The inside is crouched screaming maniacally inside an old steamer trunk. I know the folks who read this blog care for my family and for me. At this point our basic needs are being addressed, but if someone reading this wants to help in some way, they should probably communicate with my brother, since my access will be spotty until further notice.

If any of you guys have an "in" with admin, can you please find out when they expect to send the locusts?


OK... back to racking up my cell minutes sorting out my life from this moment forward. Take care - I hope to post again soon...

More pics here. Thanks Gavin. BTW, the dead gray cat is Punky. She used to be white.


Anonymous said...

That you still have a sense of humor at all is surely an indication of your status as minor (major?) deity.

Hang in there Todd,
- A friend.

go_go yubari said...

Tried calling you but know you're using your cell for more important stuff. Hang in and the kids are in my thoughts...

SWGfo2K said...

For those of you in the SF Bay Area reading this, I'll add what I did on Gavin's blog:

If you have pics, music, movies artwork etc of Todd and/or his family, drop me a line. I'm trying to serve as a focal point here for collecting stuff to help Todd reclaim some of his memories.


Tricia said...

Oh good grief - I'm speechless. I think I'd just sit there on a pile of ashes, like Job, rather than your response of diving in to fix things.

LL Cool P said...

Your guardian angel has been asleep at the fucking wheel and needs to be fired. I feel flabbergasted and furious that this has happened to you on top of everything else.

And finally... Though I usually scorn the litigiousness of our society, I think you should sue the City of Seattle for huge bucks, for pain and suffering and therapy for your kids. (This could be the fury talking, but they did screw you twice over.)

Diana said...

Dear Todd,
I believe we have emailed, I am from WN, and an artist, (dianad, on WN) I definitely recognized your name when I read a post on WN today about your fire. I just have no words. I hesitate to say 'if there is anything we can do...", but you know, I mean it. We mean it.
Just shaking my head at this, my heart aches for you and your kids. I truly don't know what else to say, I just can't imagine. Diana

Karyn Ann in San Fran said...

Hi Todd - I am a WidowNet friend, Karyn Ann in San Fran - and I am so so sorry for what you and your family has had to endure. Yesterday when I logged on to read your blog - well, I was horrified by what you said has happened - and by the pictures - especially poor Punky. I hope, in time you are able to sue someone and get money for your repairs and your pain and suffering - but, obviously it cannot possibly make up for the momentos of Samantha you lost, the Ovation - and your kitty. This is just not fair! I promise you Todd, I will NOT send locusts - but I am sending all kinds of good energy your way. The folks on the WidowNet board now know about your situation - and there is an outpouring of love heading towards you. Kiss the kids for me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Todd,

My name is Kelly, I am a widow and saw your story on YWBB. I have also suffered a serious house fire. First, after everything else you have lost in your life remember your house is just stuff. The love you have for your wife will live in your heart forever.

That being said, save everything that think now that you can from the fire. DO NOT let the Insurance company send in a salvage company to do this for you. Only you know what has great sentimental value to you. You will be surprised at how well "things" clean up. It takes a little bit longer to do it yourself but so worth it. You can always decide to toss things later. I used a storage unit to sort things out in.

The Red Cross gave me a "formula" for washing clothes. It is Tide laundry soap, the strongest bleach that the fabric can handle and a capfull of Formula 409. The 409 is a decreaser and that helps to cut the smoke. The other important factor is make sure the smoke stain is gone before you put the items in heat dryer. The heat sets the smoke smell. I was blessed with "ladies" from my church. Everyone took a bag of laundry and washed it at least three times and most hung it outside to dry. I live in Rochester New York and my fire was in March. They were real troopers. It worked well for things that are/were natural fabrics. What that means is cottons like bed sheets, bath towels, t-shirts that sort of thing came clean well. Rayons and other synethic fabrics did not do so well. Even with the ION Cleaner that the insurance company suggested. For me, it was important to have some things around me that were mine. I needed something that was familar. If you have wood furniture that you want to keep, keep it. I good restoration company can bring back to look like new. I had great success doing some smaller pieces on my own with Formby's. I did book case, small occasional tables, sewing cabinets etc... Took me about 2years but I got it done.

Dishes and china etc... comes clean with some elbow grease. I used a cleaner from a company here in the East called Pfaltzgraff. I had called them and asked how to clean my dishes and they actually sent me a bottle of the cleaner for free. Again, my church friends were a great help. The trustees set up an assembly line in our kitchen and we got them all done in an afternoon.

RECEIPTS, save them for everything. You will make many trips to the laundry to do many loads of wash. Get quarters out of the bank all at one time and save the withdrawl ticket. Meals, you cell phone (I work for Cingular, call your carrier, explain the situation, up your minutes request forgiveness for any overages)remember to contact all your utility companies, many will suspend your service as of the day of your fire.

Goodness, I hope some little part of this helps. I feel for you, it stinks. My fire was the third worst experience of my life. I've been widowed twice. You can quess what numbers one and two are.

Good Luck.


Adam said...

Its been a long time. David just gave me the link to your blog. My family and I have been talking about you and thinking about you quite a lot the past few days since we got the news, I want you to know.
This is just senselessly horrible all around!
- Adam,

Anonymous said...

Oh man, - Todd - I'm so sorry about all this. Geez. And just after Sam's birthday, too...


Cindy D.

Anonymous said...


For every one person posting, at least 20 are reading this. So sorry about the fire. I almost cried seeing that picture of Punky. There are more people rooting for you than you realise.