December Snippets Part II

A freshly cut tree and just the right fit for the space and for the few ornaments we have left that haven’t gotten lost or broken during our many moves.

A new fern in a dark spot in the room.

The mantle is simple and green this year.  I may add some clementines and boxwood closer to Christmas.  Most of my fresh greens are waiting outside.  I will bring them in this week so they last through Christmas.

I potted narcissus bulbs in pots all over the house.  Here are two on a sunny windowsill.   I started them late this year but a bit of color in January will be most appreciated.

More greens and bulbs in a back hallway.  A white poinsettia will soon replace the dried hydrangeas.

December Snippets

A few pictures from our December life.

Garland is up!

First snow of the season.

Greenery is starting to go up indoors, too.

Nandina berries are beautiful this time of year.  Squirrels not so much.  This one devoured every last one of my Osage oranges in these planters.

Our town does Christmas well!  I will take everyone on a photographic tour with my better camera.  This is one of my favorites.


And, a kitchen inspiration picture.  We received the first set of design drawings this past week.

Stair runner was installed last week.  I love the quiet it brings and the color and pattern.  Will be even happier when the hallway paint color is changed.  Waiting to paint until we decide whether or not to open up the left wall.

Last Thursday

A house away from ours is a nursing home called Barclay Friends.  It’s where my children sled in the winter, and it’s where I occasionally redirect a lost visitor who rolls down his or her window for directions. It’s a quiet place and sometimes easy to forget there are 145+ neighbors in there.

Last Thursday evening there was a fire.  A terrifying, fast-moving fire on a very windy night.  I was sitting in my family room when I saw a pink sky.  It was 10:45 and it looked like dawn – something wasn’t right.  Soon thereafter I saw the flames, the smoke was already blowing in our direction and the burning embers raining down as the building burned and so quickly.

I took this picture at 11:15 p.m, the fire started at 10:45 p.m.

My neighbors ran into the building as it burned and helped a very vulnerable population – so many who couldn’t walk for themselves and/or with dementia.  Neighbors from all along the street below, my block and the blocks surrounding the nursing home helped carry residents out and provide them with warm blankets and cell phones to call loved ones.  You learn to run away from a burning building, but these neighbors knew the firefighters needed help and so many ran into the building as it burned and helped arouse sleeping residents.  They pushed them in beds, carried them down stairs in wheelchairs and up the street to safety.  It was a 40-degree night, and so many were just in pajamas and bare feet.  Sadly, we learned a couple of days ago that four people did not make it out alive.

My husband wasn’t home when the fire broke out, so I quickly took the children and headed to a hotel for the evening – away from the smoke as our youngest has a rare lung disease.  When my husband pulled into our neighborhood after his late flight, this is what he found.  Neighbors, West Chester University students, firefighters, EMTs, ambulances, school busses all helping to transport the residents out of the cold and to safety.

This is the scene from our yard that evening.  This picture was oddly comforting as we were so relieved to see the scores of residents getting loaded onto busses and not ambulances.  There were over 20 people taken to the hospital for smoke-related injuries but so many were okay.

This is my neighbor making sure a woman’s bare feet weren’t hitting the ground.

Photo courtesy of Associated Press

Firetrucks just kept coming and eventually we learn this was a 5-alarm fire.  This is the front of our house, and eventually I had my husband move his truck closer to the garage so emergency vehicles could fill our driveway.

These pictures are from the day after.  The bottom of our yard where people were moved onto busses the night before.

And the firefighters continuing to douse the hot spots.

For days the news helicopters circled above and the news vans and reporters were lined up on all sides of our street.  They coned off our street to prevent the traffic and it continues to be closed as the ATF works along side the local and state investigators.

A board member walked to each neighbor’s door this morning and hung a thank you note from the Barclay friends.  It reads:  We are immeasurably grateful for the care and courage of our neighbors.

This sentiment is shared by so many of us who heard stories, spoke to neighbors and even listened to our neighbors interviewed on the news.  Their courage really was remarkable.