Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What Would You Take?

I wrote this post about 6 weeks ago and then sort of forgot about it.  Or maybe I was too superstitious to post this until my brother got a good rain at his house.  Either way, the rain came and  I decided today was the day, so although it may not be as timely as it once was, the topic is still relevant to me, so here goes...

Hello friends.  Most of you probably know that I live in Colorado, but unless you've been a reader for a while, you may not know that I am originally from the state of Texas.  Yep, that's me, born and bred, educated and wed -the first time anyway :-)  So, most of my family is still there and I've got to tell you, this crazy drought, severe heat, and now the wildfires are really disturbing.  Last week, my home county was being ravaged by wildfires and then I got an email from one of my brothers on Monday night that his subdivision in Bastrop Country was being evacuated.  His practically new retirement/dream home one shift of the wind away from ashes!  He and my SIL got both cars packed up with their irreplaceables and headed back to their old house in Houston (luckily, they were still working on getting it ready to sell, so could land there).  The latest update this evening was that they are pretty sure the danger has passed, at least for now, so I am ever so thankful.   BUT this got me thinking (you might want to go to the kitchen and get something to drink now or perhaps just close this window because when I get to thinking, I tend to go for a while)...WHAT WOULD YOU TAKE?

If you have been around this blog a while, you know that I am a collector.  I love antiques and I have MANY collections.  I have to periodically purge my own treasures for fear of the show "Hoarders" coming knocking at my door.  It's a bit of a problem, I admit.  I am emotionally connected to my STUFF.  That being said however, it was an interesting exercise for me to engage in thinking that if I had a few hours or even a couple of days to grab all that was dear to me...anything that I just couldn't bear to be without...and put it in our cars and drive to a safer place, what would I take?

Hmmmmm, says I.  Can I rent a semi?  Can friends help with their vehicles or is it just us?  Can I make two trips?  Then it came to me with exquisite clarity:  once I had established the safety of my husband, my kids, and our silly little pets, anything else we had the luxury of taking with us would be gravy.  Obviously, the important papers would get tossed in the car, the family photos, and the computers and CD backups.  Can't replace my photographic evidence of my children in all their diaper butted glory, my parents in their 20's, or my 2007 tax return (with accompanying documentation).

Clothing seems fairly obvious.  Favorite jeans, a flattering dress, THE shoes, and, yes, my Magnolia Pearl pieces would have to find their place, but most everything else could be replaced.  I'm a thrift store shopper (yes, I have Magnolia Pearl in my closet, but the rest of it is thrifty and nifty) and clothes are necessary, but obviously are replaceable.  Clothes for the wee ones would be thrown in along with their favorite toys.

Then I started thinking about "THE STUFF".  All of these antiques and wonderful items collected over 25 years.  Where to start?  Oddly, I look around and although I really LIKE my stuff (good thing I guess), I realize that most of it could be left to chance.  It is other people's dead relatives' belongings and there's always more out there.  If I had the luxury of picking what I wouldn't want to be without, it would be things like the dresser set my husband bought me for our first anniversary.  It was the best surprise anyone ever gave me.  I cried at the time and always say that if the house is burning, that would be the one thing I would grab if I could.

My parent's sterling.  It isn't used much I know, but it is one of those tangible things that was passed down to me that I hope to pass down to my children someday.

My mother's paintings.  Mom learned to paint while my dad was overseas in WWII.  She wasn't terribly prolific, but she did a few and I am lucky enough to have 2 small florals plus one that she did of my dad, I think from a picture.  She never in a million years considered herself an artist, but she was in so many ways.  Painting was one of the first demonstrations of that.  Those small paintings I possess are precious to me and I would protect them if I could.

I have 2 of my great aunt's paintings and a few of her china painting pieces.  Aunt Da was a very independent little sprite of a thing and when her husband died at an early age, she made her living doing a variety of things, one of them china painting.  She had her kilns in her home and her studio always had that faint smell of turpentine.  I love that smell to this day.  I'd definitely make room for her artwork.  Luckily, the pieces are small.

My collection of 1920's ribbonwork....that is my favorite collection.  I am completely drawn to it and have spent more than any sane person would on examples of it.  One book box would house every piece I own though.  SO, I'd probably just toss it all in and call it good.

Strange thing is, that's where my mental list stopped.  I'm sure if I were positive the whole place was going to burn to the ground, I'd find a few more things to toss in the vehicles, but for the most part, I'd be willing to chance it.  I wasn't expecting that.  I guess it all boils down to the fact that if you have your family intact, you really do have everything.  Nothing is more precious than that and nothing other than them and perhaps your memorabilia of them (pictures) cannot be replaced.  Of course, we all hope that we are never faced with the tragedy of losing everything, but it is an interesting thing to ponder or at least, I think so.  I hope this newly discovered introspection will make it easier for me to part with some of my toppling tower of too much that I am faced with (Thanks Lana for that visual).

So, blogging friends of mine, I ask you:  what would you take?  Talk to me. I'm listening.

Until next time,

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  1. Too horrifying to even think about. I'd need a semi also. But most of all, besides the cat, it would be my grandparents things. We don't have to worry about forest or grass fires or flooding here but we get the wonderful tornadoes and straight line winds....leaves a person with maybe a couple of seconds to grab anything. I can't wait to move out of here! Glad your brother's house was safe.

  2. I have had this conversation with friends and family many times. It is usually agreed that old photos would be the first thing to grab. (irreplaceable) I have begun to scan all of my old family photos and store them online and on CDs, but I'd still grab the old ones. Perhaps other things would be my mother's lace christening cap, my daughter's christening gown, heirloom jewelry, and maybe my wedding gown. I'm curious to see what others will choose.

  3. I hate to even think about it Judy. I know I do have to get things in order enough that I would remember to take some of the things I would like to pass down to my children that I made and painted over the years, but other than that, I know I could leave the rest behind if need me. It saddens me though that so many people have to make this choice more often than I would like to think about. The baby clothes I've kept over the years (about two outfits per child, and I have six) would have to come with me, because whenever I see them it takes me right back to being a young mommy holding my teeny little baby in my arms.
    I am so happy to hear that everything was okay with your brother's home. The fires were awful in Texas and I was so worried for the people near them.
    hugs from here...

  4. After family members, I'd try to grab my wedding album everything else can easily be replaced...Keep saying I need to scan and save old photos on an online place like Snapfish - just in case - Glad your brother and family are ok.

  5. Judy, I have been in the situation of packing my car and not knowing if our home would be still be standing when we returned. A Cat 5 hurricane was headed straight for the small island we lived on so I packed my childrens baby books, our wedding and family pictures, silver, jewelry, clothes and two aubusson pillows. We did get a direct hit from Hurricane Ivan but our house was still standing even though much damaged. I am so glad your brother and SIL are safe and had no damage.

  6. Difficult question that I've given some thought to, but like you it comes down to keeping family safe. I had friends who had to evacuate because of the Bastrop fires. Fortunately their property was not lost and have now returned home. It's been a sad summer here for many. Thanks for this thought provoking post. Glad your brother and his wife could return to their home.

  7. This is a hard question Judy, but I say I would grab my son first, then all my important paperwork which is put all together in one place just in case. We had a fire in July up in the mountain and very close to our house and I was very scared, fortunately it didn't grow too much and no body had to evacuate. My son was thinking about his legos, he has tons of them and was wondering how he was going to get all of them out of the house, he was funny. My books is something that I would love to take with me, but there are so many, I don't think I could grab them all.
    XXX Ido

  8. Judy, I have thought about this because of having lived in So California, and not the earthquake possibility, but the wildfires, many more occurring since I have moved back to the Midwest.

    I would just be so relieved to have family safe and am so glad that yours is!

    Oh I have a Designer Pillows Giveaway if you would like to join! ( a great resource as well)

    Art by Karena

  9. Yikes! That is a difficult thing to imagine. But, I think I would probably just run straight out the door with my kids and husband. I have way too much "stuff" to even try to pick out the most favorite things. Your post is a good one. Really made me think about what is truly important in my life.

  10. Hi Judy~

    We were in this position a decade ago with the Laguna fires; after my dogs, paintings, silver and family photos, and a library of flash drives, I couldn't even think what else! I too love my stuff and it's hard to even prioritize it. So glad your Brother is safe...

    I am glad too you that stopped by Rachel's giveaway and I thank you for being a follower. I am sorry I am sorta lame and really busy and don't make time to keep up with everyone! Wishing you a wonderful rest of the weekend~

  11. Hmmm... Great idea for a post. I wouldn't take much at all. Mostly photos of family and the animals, if they could be corraled. I do this exercise with my students too, have them journal about ten things they would take in a back pack, and two large items they could carry in each hand. You never know when the govt will tap on your door in the middle of the night to evacute for a nuclear distaster, or whatever else could happen. You would be shocked at how many kids would pack a DS before taking one memory from their home. andrea@townandprairie


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