The Morning After We Buried Mom

Breathing in Ghosts

Breathing in Ghosts

Sunday 19 November 2006

The morning after we buried my Mother
Dawn opened up the day with mist and gray
I stood on the porch of my sister’s new house
Cold upon the lake
Remembering the chill of touching
Momma’s lifeless hands and face
As a wall of fog gray as corpses
Shields trees and water from view
Birdcalls sparkle in the void
Bordered by clay red and torn
Edged with grass brown and wet
Fog glued together heaven and earth,
Sky and lake, and turned bone-white
And as the sun rose above skeletal trees
The fog began to move and churn
Across waters stilled before the sun’s return
Unstaked wild life’s hunger for warm bright light
November brings paleness to shortened days
And time ebbs and flows
The moment recedes into the past
Memories become as fog
And all things die
As it’s just another day
As it’s just another day
And it’s just another day
Just
Another
Day
Before darkness returns to take us Home.

 

A Prose Poem

William Dudley Bass
19 November 2006
16 January 2007
Revised 29 February 2012
Rice, Virginia &
Seattle, Washington

Two Comments from the Original Posting from the older website:

True North said…Ahhh William, thank you…I have just come home from working downtown today, hung up my suit, brewed a coffee and opened your blog…my heart shrugs off the dense energy of cement and iron, unmanacles and expands into the depth and vision of your words…ahh, now I will read on…Cindy

A Flower For All Seasons said…So wonderful to hear your poet’s voice William. To touch the timeless through your eyes and breath. And a lovely feeling of anticipation as I choose to read only one entry on any given day, knowing that each time I visit here your voice will awaken something in me that will take me who knows where… Wendy

NOTE: This was originally published in my oldest blog, Cultivate and Harvest, on Tuesday 16 January 2007, at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2007/01/morning-after-we-buried-mom.html, and reprinted here this January 2012 with my permission as the Author. I also copied comments from two of my colleagues from the Robert Augustus Masters’ Psycho-Spiritual Counseling Practicum we were in at the time. Thank you.

Copyright © 2006, 2007, 2012, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

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Mom Passes On: Ruminations

Mom Passes On...

Mom Passes On…

Death is chaotic. So are funerals.

It was indeed a dark and stormy night when the phone buzzed with news from over 3,000 miles away. It was Wednesday the 15th of November 2006, my brother’s birthday. That wasn’t what the news was about, though. Waves of cold chills dashed across my body. I steeled myself to see my Mother’s ghost.

There wasn’t, however, anything remotely ghostly amid the crashing storm. And yet I was certain, grimly certain…there was something, faint and fluttery like a quick-darting butterfly, that was there, right there, and gone, nothing more, as if there never was any such beating of ghostly wings. In the darkness of pounding rain and gusty gales I wasn’t quite prepared to be scared out of my wits. After all, I wasn’t even properly dressed to greet Momma’s Ghost unless you considered a 47-year old birthday suit appropriate for such a passage.

Mom had been battling cancer since 2003. “Battling cancer” doesn’t even begin to describe the war itself. It is far more than the appearance of cancer cells and invasive tumors that seek to hijack and consume the body. The immune system degrades. Diet and nutrition suffers. Repeat secondary infections by bacteria, fungi, and viruses do tremendous damage and like squads of vicious hit men end up doing the killing. There’s the emotional, neurological, and psychological toll. There’s an enormous social toll and the rippling impact on family, friends, neighbors, and businesses, essentially all of one’s relations.

Cancer itself is an umbrella term for a messy web of mysterious diseases with multiple causes that mutate into one monster after another. And though a lot of folks are not always comfortable with the curious topic of money, cancer extorts a staggering financial cost. Is it any wonder we apply military terms to “dis-ease?” And perhaps, as humanity comes through millennia of slaughter to finally confront the useless futility of war, it is time we too consider embracing cancer and its runaway cells with something other than mortal combat. But war is the approach my feisty old mother chose.

Continue reading “Mom Passes On: Ruminations” »

During My Mother’s Dying

Little Dottie Wottie Totsie, age 2 or 3, Virginia, 1933.

Little Dottie Wottie Totsie, age 2 or 3, Virginia, 1933.

Dot Ussery, age 16 or 17, Blacksburg, VA. 1948.

Dot Ussery, age 16 or 17, Blacksburg, Virginia, 1948.

The Marriage of Dot & Bill, Blacksburg, VA. 22 August 1953.

The Marriage of Dot & Bill, Blacksburg, VA. 22 August 1953.

Golfing away the Summer of 1958...L2R: Ussery cousin & 3 Ussery sisters Dot, Marianna, & Nancy, Blacksburg, Virginia.

Golfing away the Summer of 1958…L2R: Ussery cousin & 3 Ussery sisters Dot, Marianna, & Nancy, Blacksburg, Virginia.

Proud Momma Dot & her children. L2R: William Dudley (me), Joe David, & Beth Bass, Rice, Virginia. 1970. Foto by my Dad (William M. Bass).

Proud Momma Dot & her children. L2R: William Dudley (me), Joe David, & Beth Bass, Rice, Virginia. 1970. Foto by my Dad (William M. Bass). I have a vague memory of not being exactly thrilled as I was told to do something and didn’t hear it or understand or didn’t want to in reaction. Joe’s mind is churning with observations, and my sister’s happy smile looks amazingly similar to that of my oldest daughter at times. Momma had her hands, full, too. So did Daddy.

Mom at 53 in Happier Days, Riverview Farm, Rice, VA. She's leaning over the bed of our old red Ford pickup truck with the unoccupied original Bass Family Farmhouse still standing behind her. October 1984. Foto by William D. Bass.

Mom at 53 in Happier Days, Riverview Farm, Rice, VA. She’s leaning over the bed of our old red Ford pickup truck with the unoccupied original Bass Family Farmhouse still standing behind her. October 1984. Foto by William D. Bass.

Blurry with Drink! Dot at the Pub, Bristol, England, UK. Summer of 1997.

Blurry with Drink! Dot at the Pub, Bristol, England, UK. Summer of 1997.

Near the End. Mom with Daughter Beth Bass Hinde and Granddaughter Allison. Late Summer 2006.

Near the End. Mom with Daughter Beth Bass Hinde and Granddaughter Allison. Late Summer 2006.

During My Mother’s Dying

Early July 2006. My Mother lays ill in the last cycle of her life after battling metastatic ovarian cancer for three years. Her name is Dorothy Elizabeth Ussery Bass. Most folks call her “Dot.” Although my home has been Seattle, Washington for quite some time, I am again in Virginia, the land where she gave birth to me, and feel compelled to write down the following impressions and chronicles:

Last night I slept ten and a half hours, awaking from a heavy dream combining aspects of Mt. Rainier, the Appalachian Trail, and my friends David and Tina from Richmond. The night before I slept only 3-4 hours. I got out of bed early and went for a walk, rambling around the farm and across the land. Did push-ups on the concrete apron of the old cow lane, my hands pushed down where cow shit used to pile up in boot-sucking quantities. Now the concrete runway’s been washed clean by the rains and bleached by the sun.

The most beautiful songs burst forth from songbirds perched up in treetops and on the barn roof cupolas. We don’t have songbirds much out West, they tend to thrive East of the Great Plains – they need deciduous forests. Astounding arrays of bird songs fill the morning air. The Virginia country air feels so cool in the morning, so cool but only because warm air is cooler than hot air. The temperature later shot up to a sweltering, humid 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Damn. People slow down. Dayum. Day-yumm. You walk with deliberation and a sense of conservation. People say it is unusual for such temperatures so soon. That’s August weather. Global Warning (sic, yes). Amid the dying of a matriarch I hear the songbird singing trail off into the blazing, hot Void.

Continue reading “During My Mother’s Dying” »

My Mom & Death

Mom between Dyings; Her Last Christmas, Virginia 2005.

Mom between Dyings; Her Last Christmas, Virginia 2005.

A Letter to the Living…

Brothers,

Recently read Robert Masters’ book Darkness Shining Wild. One of his themes is bringing Death out of the closet. Into our everyday lives. Being present to Death. As some of you “older veterans” may recall I was with my Dad during his dying from cancer. That was a cathartic event that catapulted me into the workshop I jokingly refer to as “Nightmare in the City.”

Now my Mom is going down. After 3 years of battling cancer, almost dying the same year my Dad died, after going into remission and getting better, the tumors have returned and spread with a vengeance. She’s terminal, tho aren’t we all. Supposedly she has less than 5-6 months left. Who knows?

She is in so much pain now. The fury of the pain blinds her at times and robs her of her dignity. We think we’re going to die a certain way, looking good as we go, but often we don’t. My dad’s death taught me we leave this world as messy as we enter it. Covered in blood and shit. I will be at the Men’s Group this Monday, and then fly out to Virginia for a while, and then again this fall.

My Mother’s looming death feels like some kind of initiatory bookend. At times this woman was a horror and yet she gave me everything. Life. Love. I don’t quite know what to do except to go into it. And unlike some terminally ill folks she does not want to die. She wants to hang on to every breath she takes.

From an Email to Passion Warriors WarriorSage Seattle Men’s Group, Wednesday 21 June 2006.

P.S. I am no longer affiliated with this men’s group or with WarriorSage. Both served their purpose during a crucial time in my life. I have since moved on.

 

William Dudley Bass
21 June 2006
13 November 2008
Revised 26 February 2012
Seattle, Washington

NOTE: This was originally published in my earliest blog, Cultivate and Harvest, on Thursday 13 November 2008, at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2008/11/my-mom-death.html, and revised and re-published here this February of 2012. Thank you.

 

Copyright © 2006, 2008, 2012, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

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Death with Father

 

William M. "Bill" Bass, U.S. Navy, 1949-1952; Norfolk, VA. (Photo damaged in 2010 house fire.)

William M. “Bill” Bass, U.S. Navy, 1949-1952; Norfolk, VA. (Photo damaged in 2010 house fire.)

Dot & Bill, Playful Lovers, Blacksburg, Virginia. Summer of 1953.

Dot & Bill, Playful Lovers, Blacksburg, Virginia. Summer of 1953.

Dashing thru the Rice: Dot & Bill Bass leaving their Wedding for their Honeymoon, Saturday, August 22, 1953. Blacksburg, Virginia.

Dashing thru the Rice: Dot & Bill Bass leaving their Wedding for their Honeymoon, Saturday, August 22, 1953. Blacksburg, Virginia.

My Dad & I home on Riverview Dairy Farm, Rice, Virginia, March 1960. He's 30 years young, & I'm 11 months old. We had 44 more years together.

My Dad & I home on Riverview Dairy Farm, Rice, Virginia, March 1960. He’s 30 years young, & I’m 11 months old. We had 44 more years together.

Bill & Dot Bass, Rice, VA. Early 1980s.

Bill & Dot Bass at home in Rice, VA. Early 1980s.

Brothers Dudley & Joe Bass, Rice, VA. Joe's 18th Birthday Party, 15 November 1982. Photo damaged in March 2010 House Fire in Edmonds, WA.

Brothers Dudley & Joe Bass, Rice, VA. Joe’s 18th Birthday Party, 15 November 1982. Photo damaged in March 2010 House Fire in Edmonds, WA.

Brothers Joe & William Bass, Rice, VA. Christmas 2005, about a year after Dad's death, and our last together with Mom.

Brothers Joe & William Bass, Rice, VA. Christmas 2005, about a year after Dad’s death, and our last together with Mom.

Intro from July 2006: As a Prelude of sorts I first include sections from an email I wrote a few days after my father died early in the morning on Wednesday on the 1st of December 2004. At the time my life had fallen apart about a year earlier and I was bankrupt, divorced, unemployed, and half-mad. I was struggling in my relationship with Kristina and desperately trying to get my feet back on the ground. It was one of the worse times in my life, and a cauldron for eventual success. I was also deep in the Warrior Sage work and had not yet been disenchanted with the philosophies and practices of David Deida and his followers on the West Coast. July 2006.

Death with Father, November – December 2004

I am a rich man. I am blessed with an abundance of pain and growth and waking up and amazing things happening, a wealth of life experiences. It’s been rough. I sail my ship thru one storm after another, and it’s been rough. My stomach heaves as each swell rolls underfoot and each rogue wave washes the decks clean for each new beginning every moment.

Dad died early Wednesday morning in the ER. It was bitter cold and the third anniversary of my partnership with my fiancé Kristina Katayama. My brother Joe and I were up all fucking night. Death was messy and brutal. As Gary, the founder of the men’s group I was in then told me afterwards, “We come into the world messy, and we leave messy.” At least it was quick. So quick I wasn’t even aware he was dead at first, just sleeping.

About three days ago I got my father alone and said, “Dad, listen up. I want you to know I love you.”

“I love you, too,” he said.

“I flew here because this might be the last time we see each other alive.”

“I know it.”

Continue reading “Death with Father” »

Birth at the End of the World

Click on any photo to birth it BIG

Birth at the End of the World

Birth at the End of the World

She was my Lover;
Only last week we rode each other hard like wolves.
Now we hide then run,
And stumble pass corpses roasted
Still holding guns.
She pushed apart thorns
As I battle briars;
We bend between old, rusty, barbed wire
Into a forest clearing edged with boxwoods
Overgrown, shabby, and still magnificent.

To our surprise tombstones totter among moss and ivy
With names and dates worn down from the 1850s:
Shelley Marie Gilead, Beloved of Samuel Ross Gilead,
b. April 13, 1835, d. February 15, 1857 of Childbirth Fever.”
Carved across a grayish-green short stone was levered
A broken name lost to time and the dates, “February 14 – 18, 1857.”

Suns flash in the nearby distance,
Heat and flames pulse over us and roll the dead
Into the waters of a beaver pond swamp
Edged by drowned forest, lifeless birds, and waters rising
With dead, blistered fish.
Inside me I question Divine Love, Divine Mercy, Divine Compassion…
Where on Earth are they?
Or are we already in Hell?

3x.Birth at the End of the World

Genesis Extinguished beneath Saturn's Return

Genesis Extinguished beneath Saturn’s Return

"Saturno devorando a su hijo/Saturn devours His Son," Francisco de Goya (1819-1823)

“Saturno devorando a su hijo/Saturn devours His Son,” Francisco de Goya (1819-1823)

“Saturno devorando a su hijo/Saturn devours His Son”

5x.Birth at the End of the World

Apocalypse in February on the Edge of Swamps

Genesis plays out over and over again
As Earth reforms every few millennia or so.
From PreAncient Antarctica to Atlantis to Noah and Gilgamesh,
From Gobekli Tepe to Catal Hoyuk to Harrapa and Uruk…
Long Time marches forward,
Clocked against the sky and
Measured in Long Counts by the Mayans
Beneath the long gaze of the Annunaki,
We destroy ourselves in the childbirth of civilizations
Long before any Prehistoric Gods return to eat us.

But not fast enough to learn We are the Ones
Who must first master the Power of loving and forgiving Ourselves
And share compassion and wise stewardship of Home.
We stagger to water’s edge where trees crumble and rot
As boils rise from our flesh amid a rain of blood.
The Sun burns away Sol
And Darkness reigns beyond Night.
Thirsty, we stoop to drink.

Sun burns away Sol

Sun burns away Sol

Saturn returns with famished Hunger
Amid the Chaos of Titans and Annunaki
Between Terra and Caelus.
We lift up our arms
And before they fall off
We shout a final cry toward Wormwood skies,
“MOMMA!”

2x.DSC_0053

 

Momma Pregnant at the End of the World becomes The Ark.

 

A Photo-Poem
by
William Dudley Bass
February 1982? 1983? 1984?
6 January 2007
20 February 2012
Seattle, Washington

NOTE: The image of the painting is from one of The Black Paintings by the Old Master Francisco de Goya y Luceintes of Spain between 1819 -1823. It is now Public Domain. All of the other pictures are photographs by me and as such remain Copyrighted by me as the Author. The first three are versions from a dayhike into the beaver pond swamps of Sandy River, Virginia in the early 1980s. The latter two are from around Seattle, Washington in early 2012.

“Birth at the End of the World” was originally published as a photo essay of sorts on 6 January 2007 in my older blog Cultivate and Harvest, at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2007/01/birth-at-end-of-world.html. Then it was edited, expanded into a photo-poem, and re-published here. Thank you.

 

Copyright © 2007, 2012, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

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Swimming in Avalanches

Click on any photo to ENLARGE it.

Lightning Storms are common in the Mountains. Photo from a free wallpaper/stock photo set.

Lightning Storms are common in the Mountains. Foto of multiple plasma strikes in the Rockies from a free wallpaper/stock photo set.

Lightning struck the mountain as the heavens cracked with thunder. Snow and ice burst loose like boiling water, and I was swept down the couloir, a steep gulley plunging down the flank of the mountain. Runaway snow felt like galloping wet sand and hissed like snakes. It was a hell of a way to spend a summer vacation.

It was mid-July 1986, and I was in the Wyoming Wind River Range toward the end of a 30-day Wind River Mountaineering Course with NOLS, the world-famous National Outdoor Leadership School. Headquartered on the edge of the range in the cowboy town of Lander, Wyoming, NOLS was the premier outdoor adventure school of my time. Once I was on purpose to become a NOLS Instructor. At least I was until love, romance, and a broken down car got in the way. Nevertheless this 30-day NOLS mountaineering course proved to be one of the most pivotal points in my life.

Back then I planned a career in outdoor adventure and sought concentrated training in hard skills such as alpine rock climbing and glacier travel and in soft skills such as teamwork and leadership under pressure. Along with those skills NOLS also taught natural history, science in the field, environmental responsibility, wilderness navigation, and backcountry first aid, all knowledge I desired. I had one semester left in grad school, too, back east in Richmond, Virginia. And, to be sure, what I most wanted as an ol’ farmboy from Virginia was an immersion adventure in the Wild American West. And I got it.

Continue reading “Swimming in Avalanches” »

Derailed (The Fire, Part 3)

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Blended Family Wedding: The Marriage of William & Kristina, Seattle, WA, Saturday 11 July 2009. Photo by Carol Ernst. Soon to be "derailed."

Blended Family Wedding: The Marriage of William & Kristina, Seattle, WA, Saturday 11 July 2009. Photo by Carol Ernst. Soon to be “derailed.”

My Camera Post-Fire (the memory card with ~ 800 pics survived) at the Burn House. Photo by William Bass.

My Camera Post-Fire (the memory card with ~ 800 pics survived) at the Burn House. Photo by William Bass.

Searching for Evidence in Kate's Room (below the Kitchen) at the Edmonds Burn House. Photo by John Westfall, March 2010.

Searching for Evidence in Kate’s Room (below the Kitchen) at the Edmonds Burn House. Photo by John Westfall, March 2010.

 at the Edmonds Burn House. Photo by John Westfall, March 2010.

Morgan’s Room…& Insurance Investigator outside. Photo by John Westfall, March 2010.

Sweet 16: Morgan's Harry Potter Birthday Party night before the Fire. Morgan is far left & front. Kristina's family Butsudan Shrine in the background. Edmonds, WA, Friday 19 March 2010.

Sweet 16: Morgan’s Harry Potter Birthday Party night before the Fire. Morgan is far left & front. Kristina’s family Butsudan Shrine in the background. Edmonds, WA, Friday 19 March 2010.

Morgan's Birthday Party w/ Peter Lik's "Tranquility" on wall behind the kids, Edmonds, WA, Friday 19 March 2010.

Morgan’s Birthday Party w/ Peter Lik’s “Tranquility” on wall behind the kids, Edmonds, WA, Friday 19 March 2010.

The Last Chess Game, Morgan's 16th Birthday Party, Edmonds, WA.

The Last Chess Game, Morgan’s 16th Birthday Party, Edmonds, WA.

 

Derailed

Fire changes things. Destroys. Creates. Transforms.

Think of metamorphic rocks, rocks such as gneiss, slate, quartzite, and marble. Think of transmutation of elements. Transmutation as illustrated by the old alchemical striving to turn lead, the base metal of Satan the Devil, into gold, the metal of Gods and kings, or modern nuclear reactions, explosions, and radioactive decay. One forgets among the unleashing of atomic demons the alchemists were more esoteric than literal as they sought to transform their very souls.

Sometimes those who spend lifetimes in search of such divine gifts never obtain their goals.

Sometimes those who don’t seek these Gifts of Fire end up in flames anyway.

Sometimes life spins out of control.

It feels that way at times. Certainly within our minds. Even if Life goes on until Dead.

Jeff Shushan, a brilliant and insightful psychotherapist Kristina and I worked with off and on through the latter part of 2010 into 2011, used the term “derailed.” An unexpected and traumatic event occurs. It is a life-changing event. Circumstances feel overwhelming and throw people off course. Yes, you can be alert, awake, aware, present, mindful, and choose to respond rather than react. Still, to full heal one must take time to grieve, to reassess, to determine what steps to take next and in what direction, with whom, and how.

My house burned down on the morning of Saturday, March 20, 2010. We lost almost everything, “we” being a post-double divorce blended family with my wife Kristina and our three daughters from prior marriages. Fortunately no one was burned or injured in anyway. Thankfully no one was killed in what the fire fighters called “a killer fire.”

Continue reading “Derailed (The Fire, Part 3)” »

After the Fire (Part 2 of 3)

This essay follows, “The Fire, Part 1 of 3.”

Click on any photo to ENLARGE it.

Keeping the Fire Down. Edmonds, Washington. Saturday 20 March 2010. Photo by William Bass.

Keeping the Fire Down. Edmonds, Washington. Saturday 20 March 2010. Photo by William Bass.

Thru the Front Door to the Sea. Photo by William Bass.

Thru the Front Door to the Sea. Photo by William Bass.

Entering ... Nothing. Photo by William Bass.

Entering … Nothing. Photo by William Bass.

Doorway to ... ? Photo by William Bass.

Doorway to … ? Photo by William Bass.

Kitchen floor collapsed into double bunk beds in Kate's Room on other side of wall from Morgan's Room & the Family Room/Library. Photo by William Bass.

Kitchen floor collapsed into double bunk beds in Kate’s Room on other side of wall from Morgan’s Room & the Family Room/Library. Photo by William Bass.

The remains of Morgan's Room. Photo by William Bass.

The remains of Morgan’s Room. Photo by William Bass.

Kristina & Kristen contemplating the Loss & the Miracle. Photo by William Bass.

Kristina & Kristen contemplating the Loss & the Miracle. Photo by William Bass.

William & Kate goofin' around 7 days after the Fire; Woodinville, WA. Photo by Morgan Bass.

William & Kate goofin’ around 7 days after the Fire; Woodinville, WA. Photo by Morgan Bass.

Morgan Bass below Whitehorse Mountain, near Darrington, WA. 12 June 2010. Photo by William Bass.

Morgan Bass below Whitehorse Mountain, near Darrington, WA. 12 June 2010. Photo by William Bass.

Talia cleaning Lindsay's Bathroom in Woodinville, WA. April 4, 2010. Photo by William Bass.

Talia cleaning Lindsay’s Bathroom in Woodinville, WA. Sunday 4 April 2010. Photo by William Bass.

William & Kristina Bass, New Year's Eve, Seattle, WA. December 31, 2010. Photo by Jean Katayama.

William & Kristina Bass, New Year’s Eve, Seattle, WA. Friday 31 December 2010. Photo by Jean Katayama.

Kate, Talia, & Morgan Bass (L to R) Celebrating DaDa William's Big Climb race to the top of the Columbia Tower, Seattle, on Sunday 20 March 2011 - Exactly 1 year after the Fire. Photo by Stranger for William Bass.

Kate, Talia, & Morgan Bass (L to R) Celebrating DaDa William’s Big Climb race to the top of the Columbia Tower, Seattle, on Sunday 20 March 2011 – Exactly 1 year after the Fire. Photo by a stranger for William Bass.

After the Fire

“Sometimes I can’t even feel the ground under my feet anymore,” my wife Kristina cries. “I can’t feel ANYTHING!!!”

Days and weeks wheel by in a blur after our house burned down in the Fire. Frenzied action is broken by spells of dazed inaction. There is too much to do so soon. We move through it all anyway. Sometimes we even laugh. Sometimes the Fire seems years ago, or feels it never happened at all, or worse, just yesterday. Saturday 20 March 2010, however, was only 30 days ago as I first write this blogpost for the bassfamilysupport.ning.com website friends set up to organize help.

Continue reading “After the Fire (Part 2 of 3)” »

The Fire (Part 1 of 3)

 Click on any photo to blow it up big.

Fire! Our house in flames, Edmonds, WA. Saturday 20 March 2010. Photo by Unknown.

Fire! Our house in flames, Edmonds, Washington State. Saturday 20 March 2010. Foto by Unknown.

Inferno of 1,200 Degree Flames & Toxic Smoke.

Inferno of 1,200 Degree Flames & Toxic Smoke.

Lingering Fire amid the Ruins, Edmonds, 3-20-2010. Foto by Youngman.

Lingering Fire amid the Ruins, Edmonds, 20 March 2010. Foto by Youngman.

Back of our Home, 20 March 2010. Foto by Westfall.

Back of our Home, 20 March 2010. Foto by Westfall.

View thru the Front Door out the back across the Salish Sea to the Olympic Mountains. 20 March 2010. Photo by Youngman.

View thru the Front Door out the back across the Salish Sea to the Olympic Mountains. 20 March 2010. Foto by Youngman.

Kristina Bass (left, in black) with friend Kristen S. a day or two after the Edmonds Fire. Foto by William Bass.

Kristina Bass (left, in black) with friend Kristen S. a day or two after the Edmonds Fire. Foto by William Bass.

The Fire: Part 1 of 3
Saturday 20 March 2010

One week ago our house burned down. It was traumatic. Thank goodness everyone is alive. No one got hurt. Not even the firefighters. But we lost just about everything else. And the response of our communities of family and friends from all around the world was and is deeply generous, much appreciated, and unexpectedly overwhelming.

We got uplifting responses not only from all over the Northwest but from folks from Japan to Norway, Virginia to California, New York to South Carolina, Alaska to Vermont, Mexico to Canada, Jordan, Turkey, Spain, Germany, Italy, China, Kentucky, Florida, Connecticut, North Carolina. Texas. Tennessee. Illinois. The list goes on. From Christians to Muslims to Atheists to Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and Pagans. Amazing. We were reminded not only how lucky to be alive but we’re all part of one giant family of humanity sharing one small, beautiful planet. And, yes, the Internet was the primary tool facilitating such communications, especially Facebook.

Saturday 20 March 2010. It was 11:00 in the morning in Edmonds, Washington, a waterfront city north of Seattle noted for its small-town feel with lots of trees. It was an unusually warm and sunny day. Morgan, my oldest daughter, had recently turned 16, and we were hosting a post-birthday slumber party for about 12 of her friends. The celebrations began Friday evening after school and work. Her younger sisters, Kate, 11, and Talia, 7, were at their own sleepovers back in North Seattle. I left to drive down into Seattle to pick up Kate and Talia and bring them home while Kristina left to take our dog Jo to the vet. There were 8 teenage girls left in our home by then.

They’re great kids, these girls. We’re delighted Morgan had a great circle of fun, funny, artistic, and responsible friends. They were hanging out upstairs playing chess and preparing to cook breakfast. First they noticed a thin smoky haze and remarked how pretty the sunshine was. Then they realized it was smoke. Were pancakes burning on the stove? No, no fire from the stove. No one was even cooking. There were no candles, no incense, no smoking, none of that. Thick, toxic smoke rolled out of the heating vents and roiled up the stairs from the basement, our first floor. The smoke was so thick they couldn’t even get out the door.

A few kids wanted to run down and rescue items: shoes/boots/clothes/cell phones/iPods/sleeping bags/coats/birthday presents. It easily ran to about $1,000 a teenager, mindboggling for even us parents when we tallied it all up, and among our guests were twin sisters, so, yes, many wanted to race downstairs, just once, running just really, really fast, y’know…and Morgan took a stand.

“No!” she shouted. “We need to get out of here NOW! This way!”

Continue reading “The Fire (Part 1 of 3)” »