2014 – How to lose an entire year because of a bushfire. AKA – extreme home renovation

I didn’t do many blog posts in 2014.  It turned out to be a bit of a chaotic year.

Before I talk about 2014, I should mention I had a very busy 2013.  Two family weddings, one of which was overseas, one other overseas holiday, seven books published, and, oh yes, I was on the committee for the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference, in charge of the Gala Awards night.

Do I take on too much? probably, but you know what they say.  If you want something done, give it to a busy person.

Anyway.  By the end of 2013 I was looking forward to some down time.  All my contracted books were out in the world, the RWA conference was a roaring success, the family weddings and holidays all went well.

On December 31st 2013, I raised a glass and declared my intention to relax and unwind for a couple of months, and then hit the promotion trail.  I had great plans. Update all my social media platforms, master the art of twitter, create interesting and informative blog posts and generally be an extremely organized, socially active author…

Famous last words.

On Sunday January 12th 2014, a bushfire started a mile from my house.  The temperature at the time was well over 100 degrees, the wind was gale force and the fire raced through the streets as if it contained the hounds of hell. We were instructed to evacuate, with only enough time to grab the barest of necessities.

57 houses were completely destroyed.  Mine was saved by the incredible courage and determination of the fire department and volunteer firefighters, but it was badly damaged.

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Every window broke from the intense heat, creating a surreal situation inside.  Of all our worldly possessions were in exactly the same place we left them…except they were completely with soot, smoke and dust.  Most had to be thrown away.

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The garden was a blackened shell, ash and soot were ankle deep, and retained the heat so much, it melted the bottom of my runners whilst walking on it a full week after the fire was extinguished.

The shed burnt down, the pergola melted. Even the washing line melted.

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It was four months before we could move back in.  The entire plumbing and electrics had to be replaced-they melted too- and the house had to be cleaned, cleared out, painted, renovated.  In other words, we had to start from scratch…oh, and all the beautiful trees, over 20 of them, surrounding our property had to be cut down.

This weekend it’s 12 months since the fire.  It’s taken all of that time to get back to normal.  My darling husband and I are finally putting the pieces of our lives back together.

Even my poor blackened garden is coming back to life.

Before…

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After…

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Yes, it was a challenging, stressful year.  But, you know what? We survived it. We were well insured and our house is clean and repaired and feels like home again.

I will never be able to thank the emergency services for what they did that terrible day last January.  When we were finally allowed back to our suburb, 4 days after the fire was finally extinguished. I stood in that blackened garden and saw the house still standing, and all I wanted to do was grab a firefighter, any firefighter, and hug him until he squealed for mercy.

I didn’t make any new years resolutions for 2015. But I hope its a little bit quieter and slightly less eventful than 2014.

Carolyn Wren

http://www.carolynwren.com

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