Archive for July, 2013

Fire Pictures


The day of the fire, I bought a new camera. First I took a picture of Lois and Paul out front of the Barn, then some pics of Danny Boy’s Pee-Wee baseball game. That’s when I got the call from my daughter Harley that the building was on fire. See you tonight and/or Friday? Loveyoubye.

Cook Dollar Barn

The last week  MONTH has been a combination of a bad dream and a funeral. Every time I turn around, Lois is looking at the building and crying. It’s not just us that are grieving, either. Everyone seems to have had a connection to that building or the people in it. Who didn’t take dance lessons there, have a tooth filled there, live there after a divorce, or play Ms. Pac-Man in Suzy Q’s?  A thousand times a day we think, “I can get Harley a new toothbrush at The Barn”, or nail clippers for Randy, or a bag of Jalepeno chips that I meant to get for Doc S. (my other Boss at the Tooth Fairy gig).

There is a Facebook page for all the updates, thanks to Comet Carol Carlson and Mary Conger (who is updating it from THAILAND..wow!) called Brown Building Fire Relief Efforts. There…

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Cook Dollar Barn Update


Cook Dollar Barn

Dear Friends,

We can’t believe it’s been a month since we lost the Barn. It feels more like a reeeally long week. There are some questions that we can answer for you now and some we can’t… here goes.

First, THANK YOU!! For all the kind thoughts, prayers, hotdishes, hugs, cards, money, volunteerism, and general awesomeness.

When will cleanup start? Sorry to say, it will be weeks or even months. Until all insurance companies sign off, the scene is to remain “unspoiled”. Please stay back, and keep your kids off the rubble as well.  There is a 4,000 square foot basement filled with water and debris. If you see anyone messing around there, please let one of us know. Or call 911. Believe me, we are anxious to clean up what’s left of River Street Rentals, Cook Dollar Barn, Gilley’s Naturals, and the homes of 8 friends. We know it…

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Mad Bird


I can’t believe this shit. Yesterday, as Lois and Steve were leaving to visit his family for the Fourth, Mad Bird started having a seizure. One hour later, he was gone. Unfortunately, these are probably the only pictures of him, as all Lois’ personal photos were in the basement of the Dollar Barn where they would be safe.

Cockatiel, Funny Farm Cockatiel, Funny Farm July2013 067

We did the math, and she has had that crazy bird since 1986 when she graduated high school. That’s 27 years. He has been with her through 5 cars, 3 houses, and two husbands. He helped her with her homework when she put herself through college, and kept her asparagus fern and spider plant nicely trimmed. He made it impossible to sneak into the house or sleep late. His favorite song was Unskinny Bop, so she played him that and other 80’s hits as he passed. He has been in the background of our lives practically forever, and The Farm is going to be a little quieter now.

Harley googled the life span of cockatiels, and 15-20 is average in captivity, so 27 years was a good run. It’s just the timing that seems to SUCK. Thanksgiving was when we lost Stinky, the building burned right before their wedding anniversary, and now Mad Bird dies on the Fourth of July. Frankly, we are all done with holidays.

Losing The Barn


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On June 17, 2013, Cook Dollar Barn, Gilley’s Naturals, and 8 apartments went up in smoke. Everyone got out ok, including Middle Spawn and another tenant who were the only people in the building at the time. All the tenants are clothed and relocated, and the fire has been ruled an accident, though the actual cause may never be known.

It’s hard to write this. I have been trying for two weeks to put into words all the gratitude, love, loss, devastation, hope, and countless acts of kindness. But grieving is a lot of work.  I can’t focus very long on any one thing, and my emotions are all over the map. So today I decided that instead of waiting for my brain to catch up to my heart, I would just take it a day at a time and blog about it all.

For the first week or so, we were in denial. I know I was, anyway. That’s ok though, because denial is a useful coping mechanism. It let my brain kind of run on auto-pilot while necessary arrangements and calls were made. If I’d tried to deal with all the emotional stuff, I’d have lost it. Honey Badger helped. We all became a little more like Honey Badger on YouTube.

Until yesterday, I was in the anger phase of grief. Not just testy. Boiling, seething, almost ready to hide bodies angry. Which is exhausting and scary. Plus I think it was Shark Week. Did I mention I quit smoking two weeks before the fire?

Then I visited a friend in hospice and depression kicked me in the face. Another loss…. A total stranger held me in the hallway and told me how sorry she was that my friend was so sick, while I cried so hard and from such a deep place that I almost couldn’t breathe. It’s the first time I have really cried since the building burned. (I’m the emotionally stunted one; Lois somehow manages to cry a lot and STILL get stuff done.)

And wow, is there a lot of stuff to do.

Insurance. There’s the insurance for the building, insurance for the store, lack of insurance for the 8 tenants, and insurance for the three businesses that could have easily burned with the Barn, but were nonetheless damaged by smoke and water. And our chimney and walls falling on it didn’t help.

And we aren’t the only ones grieving. For the first week, Lois pretty much showed up every day and sat and cried and visited with customers and friends whose hugs truly held her together so far. Every day, every trip to town is like another visitation or funeral. Not that that’s bad! I know it helps ME to hear people’s memories of The Barn, or the tons of other businesses that the former Brown Building housed. Seems like almost everyone has lived there at one time or another, too…

BarnFire 079

There is a Facebook page set up for the fundraisers the community is planning,  under Brown Building Fire Relief Effort. 

It looks to be one heck of a party for all ages. Live music, kids’ games, cotton candy, pig roast…wow!

Maybe tomorrow I will tackle some of the FAQ’s, like when cleanup can start and if rebuilding is an option. For now, thank you everyone who has helped during this super-sucky time.

Loveyabye,

Laura aka Employee of the Month.

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