Calamity does strike ever so often in life.  Sometimes it hurts the soul, other times the heart.  And yet other situations it brings physical pain and suffering.  Oftentimes, it is a little of all of the above affecting heart, body, and soul.


On July 11, 2014 the three car garage very close to my house started exploding and going up in flames.


The car horns were blaring to get everyone’s attention, men in bright yellow t-shirts were running around like ants whose hill had just been disturbed.

My dog was barking at the bow window alerting me to the emergency. I stepped out on my front porch, from a day at the office in my computer room, and immediately saw thirty feet of fire shooting out in my direction. I could hear a second blast. I felt heat on my face. I pivoted around went back into the house, grabbed my purse, ran across the house to the laundry room next to the garage opposite all the commotion. I slipped on a slick laundry room floor with slippery sandals, first turning my left ankle, then dropping to my right knee to catch myself and hitting the patella hard, ending up sitting on my butt. I am now sixty and it’s more difficult to get up off the floor. I willed myself to get off that floor, get the dog, her leash and harness and leave-rushing, heart pumping, adrenaline flowing!

I called the 911 number and got a busy signal–“What in the world, I thought?” I got the dog into the backseat, climbed into my car in pain and very injured. I then opened the automatic




garage door, and backed out in my car to see the EMT’s had arrived, which meant the firetrucks were soon to arrive too.

I phoned my husband, who just happened to be off work in the city to being “home” on a Friday at the car repair shop, and he said, “Pick me up now!”  Still in distress, I drove to the wrong car repair place where we had recently purchased the car I was driving; and had to go in an opposite direction to pick him up at the old car place. When I got to the car repair place that my husband was at, I hopped over from my driver’s so he could drive and I could attend to my bulbous, swollen, achy ankle. At the time I was not sure which was worse, my ankle or my opposite knee?  Later I plopped up my leg on the dashboard and this made for an unusual look as we pulled up to the police barricade closing off our neighborhood. News helicopters were overhead. I later learned that it was on the local nightly TV news, and my aunt messaged me via Facebook that she recognized our home next door and were we ok?


I called son Eric who is a physical therapist to come help as we headed to our house to assess damage, forgetting that I was in bad condition.  Our son met us at the entrance to our housing development. It was blocked off by police, and I later heard seven fire trucks showed up, that there were three more blasts, that the neighbor lady had been home, but originally would not come out, but when the fire burnt her hair from another blast she came out the front door. The Google fiber men had persisted on knocking on her door, one young and especially wiry young man.

My husband and son walked through the barricade at the entrance somewhat defying the obvious police barricade to check out damage to our house. Our house was o.k. except for the front yard tree limb had been on fire. This is amazing considering the houses are 20 feet apart, and they had a blown up three car garage, blown up upper level windows, blown up and fire damaged room next to their garage.  Then my son Eric said I must be taken care of at his home, since we could not enter our home for hours.  Eric has an pressure-ice machine he acquired through his physical therapy work that pumped cool icy water and used pressure through a cuff for my ankle and my knee. He and his wife Sarah were kind to care for me in their home for several hours on their day off.  We made it a pizza party and Sarah had her brother come over with his dog to play with our dog.  It worked wonders to get the initial swelling down, cheer my spirits, help me be more hopeful.  The next morning I would get an Xray.

Fast forward to three weeks later. My ankle was not broken but level 3 out of 4 severity ligament pull, opposite knee badly bruised and swollen, but healing. My son had put me on his pressure/ice cuff machine for both my ankle and my knee. I got X rays and the only break I had was from a previous month’s injury from my wayward Swissy dog taking off after a dog with the leash wrapped around my finger. My Grandmother used to say trouble comes in threes. I have had my threes physically and I am done.

I hope and pray for a calmer, less calamitous August!

With a post script to account of calamity,  I can say I have had pain, swelling, frustration, yet joy in persisting through the airports with a boot on my ankle and a cane in my hand while slowly traversing long corridors. This was in spite of being put under extra scrutiny, as though I was harboring some horrible weapon in my protective boot. This did not happen on the way out from Kansas City but on the way back through Dallas.  I have not had good experiences at the Dallas airport and usually avoid that airport at all costs.  We were also delayed when our flight left coming home through Dallas, which is also typical at the Dallas airport.

I experienced deep joy seeing Yosemite mountains, wildlife, water in the form of waterfalls, some much needed light rain, lakes saved by careful planning and care by first Abraham Lincoln, then John Muir, Ansel Adams, and many others who cared enough and had vision enough to save a part of nature for all posterity. This was the 150th year celebration of Yosemite National Park in California and I was part of it with my husband! This was forty years of marriage celebration in spite of calamity.

As for our neighbor’s home next door, the fire was initially caused by a faulty electric socket in the garage that started the fire and then caught their Lincoln Town car in the garage on fire, exploding the two air bags, the four tires, and the gas tank. The house burned at approximately 1,200 degrees, melting the plastic light switches throughout the house. My neighbor lady is fine, so is her husband, but they say they will not be moving back to this house. They are in their mid 70s, and seem to have moved on to a simpler life now. There are still men outside the home, everyday, pounding,  making sawing sounds.  Our neighor’s house is empty after a process of moving out recoverable furniture, then gutting the house, now the windows in the house that were blown out both upstairs and down are replaced and it is over three months later and there is still more work to be done.

I am still going to physical therapy three times a week  and it’s now late October! Ugh!  I am at least out of my boot and no longer using e a cane.

My orthopedic doctor is now at a point that he has ordered this week an MRI (to see muscle/ligament/soft tissue damage), since the physical therapy seems to have some effect, but there may be an underlying torn ligament(s) that need surgical repair. We are in the late part of October, which is my favorite season with the changing leaves, the cool air, the filtered light. Over three months after calamity, I want it to be over, but it’s not yet over. It’s my turn again to learn patience. I did visit our Nelson Atkins Art museum last week, and rode the golf cart back up the ramp after viewing the Plains Indians exhibition. That trip lifted my spirits. Earth and sky was the theme. I was reminded to be thankful for the earth below my feet and look up to the sky for inspiration. I saw inspiring art in the face of continuous oppression of our indigenous original American people. Art is hopeful. I am thankful for art.

Pre-Midterm elections, my  weakened body is reflecting my slightly broken soul and heart over sadness of seeing the same old political ads, smack talking against one’s neighbor, and the stale election ads that line the media’s pocket that has gone on for the past thirty years of my life as an adult life.  I used to be able to take a brisk walk with the dog to stave off my frustrations and kill two birds with one stone, get exercise and clear my head.  Brokenness is part of the human condition still,  but it should only be sometimes, not the norm! I have been active be the change I wish to see by registering some more voters, knowing the issues as best I can, talking to people to get out, vote, be heard, do not stand back in the shadows.  I talked to some people who think their vote does not count and that saddens me, but mostly I talked to young people who just moved here and are active voters, I registered them to vote! I have been trying to change myself to be the change I wish to see.  Sometimes life issues get in the way, other times not so much.  Calamity can be turned into community. How is your life lately?


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