Call it fate, coincidence, or what you like. Remember what happened last Thanks Giving? Remember? Remember?
Wednesday morning when I woke up, my husband showed me to a section in his side of the bedroom closet, and asked that I touch the wall. Afraid that he was pulling a prank, I refused, but eventually I put my hand on the wall, and discovered to my surprise that it was toasty warm. Turned out that he had discovered this while taking out his clothes for dry cleaning and noticed that the clothes was warm. On the other side of our bedroom closet wall is the fire place in the living room, and the last time we made a fire? Monday evening.
My husband had promised to give a call to the chimney sweeper sometime during the day, but he completely forgot about it until the day was almost over. While the chimney sweeper couldn't help him, he said we should call the fire department immediately. All this while I was puckering away on my fairy gardens, wondering how I should decorate a Christmas themed fairy garden. When my husband called me, I put down my gloves to answer the phone. He told me about the whole ordeal and that the fire department will stop by shortly to check out what was going on with the wall. We talked about what to have for dinner that night, thinking it would be a short 30 min check, we decided that Indian food would be the choice dinner. While we were still on the phone, I could hear sirens fast approaching our neighborhood, and in the back of my mind I thought, no way, no way this was coming to my house.
The 5 seconds I had to put my dogs away in the bedroom, already an enormous fire truck had parked in front of my house with three firemen knocking heavily on the door, startling myself and probably all the neighbors. I answered the door and first thing went out of my mouth was," oh no no, I think you are mistaken, this is NOT an emergency."
Apparently, having fire smoldering in the wall is a serious problem. Within a minute my house had turned from a zen haven to a completely chaotic war zone. First went my wall, an axe was brought in and knocked off a huge patch of plaster above the fire mantle exposing the brick walls. Firemen checked every possible place to see if they could have better access to the fire or any other place they could've missed, the chimney top, the attic, the basement, the side yard... our house was covered with firemen from roof to side yard, to living room, to basement. Of course, being completely shocked by the turn of events, I protested mindlessly when the axe went down on the wall and said, "wait, you can't just break the wall, this is a historical house!!" And one of the officer told me,"but if you don't, then this is going to be a historically BURNT house!"
Looking back I have to say I was very impressed and appreciative of the service of the Orange County fire department. All these firemen in heavy suits and gears removed my delicate china carefully and quickly from the mantle without breaking anything. They were constantly sweeping the floors where the wall plaster and dust accumulated, and kept me up dated immediately whenever there was news on the progress. In order to minimize the damage, they called in a arson investigator to help figuring out the best way to go about it, the urban search and rescue team was brought in because they needed the special equipment, and treated our house as if it was their own house.
(There were maybe 15 firemen in my living room)
Finally the decision was made after talking to a chimney expert that we just had to break through the bricks above the fireplace. My entire fire mantle was removed as well as several pieces of old tiles. I had to gobble down some wine when they did this. Lucky for us, one of the firemen used to be a brick layer, so he was able to remove the bricks piece by piece without breaking them in case I wanted to salvage my 100 year old bricks.
( After the bricks were finally removed, the temperature inside was about 900˚ F. )
So here it is, the aftermath. I sat on top of my piano stared at the fire mantle and cried a little. Needless to say, we did not have Indian food that night. The next morning was a beautiful day, the world went on as if nothing had happened. My husband and I tried to clean up the bricks and tiles left outside. Piecing two of them together, Jeff read out a name on one of the bricks. It says," SIMONS." That same afternoon we went out for our Thanks Giving meal at a restaurant in Laguna Beach that Jeff had reserved a day ago, when we walked to the front gate, there it was, a spread of several vintage tiles cemented into the ground as a entrance decoration, and one of them read, "SIMONS." It was as if everything was just meant to be, and we've no better place to be than to be exactly where we are now.