This post originaly appeard on Polyvore at It is Edited to present here on my blog at tumblr.

We have a photo of our dog Sophie in a respirator and gloves. Sophie went with us to sift through the ashes. She kept sneezing. We wore respirators and I thought, “hey, she is tolerant, maybe I can get one on her.” She was not amused but did leave it on for a while. My sister, who was behind her, said it was smashing her nose. We were being silly and I put the gloves on top of her paws and took the photo. It was a huge laugh for us. Sophie just rolled her eyes.

Going through the remains of the ash looking for things is called sifting, at least here it is. We are though sifting which is good. It is hot, dirty work and a respiratory hazard. We wore long sleeves, long pants, socks, boots, hats, gloves, respirators and it was 90 degrees.

We are through the major parts of the initial tasks to recover from the fire. I had no idea how much trouble it was to have your house burn down!

We have meet with all the appropriate insurance people who have all been amazingly kind and fast to act to help us. It has been both heartening and disheartening to us to have them all say stuff like, “there is not much to see here.” We are all actually relieved that things are not ambiguous. I cannot imagine what it would feel like to have your things almost but not completely destroyed.

My husband had taken his wedding band off because his hand was swollen so it was lost in the fire. I spent two hours yesterday sifting through the ash and I FOUND IT! I was so happy. Of course, it was a little melted pile of gold but I recognized it right off.

One of the things I was most sad about was that I had inherited multiple generations of dishes from both my family and my in-law’s family. I do not have them to pass on now. What I was able to find was a chipped piece of almost each pattern. My intention is to try to locate the same pattern of antique dishes, purchase them and the give our next generation along with the small piece that I found with the hallmark on it. They are not the same dishes but they are like them and they are still our family story. I was truly happy when I thought of the idea, and when I was able to find the hallmarks.

Last week all the scrap metal was taken, today the final clean up starts. Next week we have land restoration people coming.

Our current task is to find a new place to live. People have been so kind bringing us things we will have plenty to start a new household and a new phase of our lives.

This is the “for better or for worse” part of the marriage vows. Both mean more to me now than they did. We are struggling with the “worse” but the way we are able to make decisions and understand things is the “better” part. I am surprised and pleased that we are able to work so well together under such difficult circumstances. I would never have chosen the fire, and I am not happy that it happened, but I do see that we can survive the fire and still be “us.”