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The Return to Paradise

On Saturday, December 15 [2018], all evacuation orders were lifted for residents to re-enter Paradise.

Leave in the smoke, return in the fog.

73 Years? Stuff. Just Stuff.

My home

My “totem.” With me for decades. This I will salvage.

My desk.

The garage.

My front door.

Where my neighbor’s children played. She said, “It’s a good thing the fire didn’t happen in the night.”

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  • Leslie December 16, 2018, 7:58 AM


  • John Venlet December 16, 2018, 8:23 AM

    Burnt. To a crisp. Dang. Question for you. What are type of vehicles are those which were in the garage?

  • mickey December 16, 2018, 9:43 AM


  • Phil in Englewood December 16, 2018, 9:50 AM

    All too real, yet unreal at the same time.

  • Frank December 16, 2018, 9:51 AM

    “What is life? It is but a vapor that appears for a while, and then vanishes away.” Or in this case, burns to a crisp.

  • AbigailAdams December 16, 2018, 10:35 AM

    The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

    The important things: your health, your life, Olive, your family and friends — remain. We’re very sorry for the loss of your “stuff”. ~ J&G 🙂

  • John Venlet December 16, 2018, 10:52 AM

    Gerard, I stumbled upon this Anne Bradstreet poem via Ace of Spades. It’s titled Verses upon the Burning of our House. It was penned it 1666. I think it apropos to this post, and Paradise, as it now stands.

    I silent night when rest I took,
    For sorrow near I did not look,
    I wakened was with thundering noise
    And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice.
    That fearful sound of “Fire” and “Fire,”
    Let no man know, is my desire.
    I, starting up, the light did spy,
    And to my God my heart did cry
    To strengthen me in my distress,
    And not to leave me succorless.
    Then coming out, behold a space
    The flame consume my dwelling place.
    And when I could no longer look,
    I blest His name that gave and took,
    That laid my goods now in the dust;
    Yea, so it was, and so ’twas just.
    It was His own; it was not mine.
    Far be it that I should repine.
    He might of all justly bereft,
    But yet sufficient for us left.
    When by the ruins oft I passed
    My sorrowing eyes aside did cast
    And here and there the places spy
    Where oft I sat and long did lie.
    Here stood that trunk, and there that chest;
    There lay that store I counted best,
    My pleasant things in ashes lie,
    And them behold no more shall I.
    Under thy roof no guest shall sit,
    Nor at thy table eat a bit;
    No pleasant tale shall e’er be told,
    Nor things recounted done of old;
    No candle e’er shall shine in thee,
    Nor bridegroom’s voice e’er heard shall be.
    In silence ever shall thou lie.
    Adieu, Adieu, all’s vanity.
    Then straight I ‘gin my heart to chide:
    And did thy wealth on earth abide?
    Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust?
    The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
    Raise up thy thoughts above the sky
    That dunghill mists away may fly.
    Thou hast a house on high erect;
    Framed by that mighty Architect,
    With glory richly furnished
    Stands permanent though this be fled.
    It’s purchased, and paid for, too,
    By him who hath enough to do-
    A price so vast as is unknown,
    Yet, by His gift, is made thine own.
    There’s wealth enough; I need no more.
    Farewell, my pelf; farewell, my store;
    The world no longer let me love.
    My hope and treasure lie above.

  • John Venlet December 16, 2018, 10:54 AM

    The first word of the poem should be “In,” not “n.” Poor proof reading on my part.

  • AbigailAdams December 16, 2018, 12:09 PM

    Very nice poem, John Venlet. Thanks, I’m saving it. ~AA

  • ghostsniper December 16, 2018, 12:15 PM

    The left car appears to be a late 60’s early 70’s GM product.
    The right car is a late 40’s version, notice the slight curve in the windshield, and if the grill is any indication I would say it is a Plymouth or Ford. The 2 engines are 60’s or 70’s era, both V8’s and the one looks like it has an automatic transmission flywheel. The engine on the right appears to have 2 camshafts.

  • Mary*Ann December 16, 2018, 1:23 PM

    Hard to wrap one’s mind around this.
    How is your Mama doing?

  • Tom Sherry December 16, 2018, 1:58 PM

    1948-ish Ford sedan; 1970-ish Lincoln Continental. My guesses.

  • Nunnya Bidnez, jr December 16, 2018, 5:42 PM

    looks like’72 T-Bird…
    Did I win? Did I??

  • Snakepit Kansas December 16, 2018, 6:22 PM

    V8 with double overhead cams??? Ford 427DOHC? If so, I would think that could be worth some $$$ for Gerard???

  • ghostsniper December 16, 2018, 6:47 PM

    The dual cam engine is laying on it’s right side and it is minus heads, so it can’t be overhead cams.
    But you may be right about the Ford part, notice the mount for the oil filter on the passenger side.
    Fords usually have the distributor in the front but the intake manifold is gone so that’s a moot point.
    Regardless, all the interior stuff was exposed to the elements and most likely rusty already before the fire.

    One of my “dreams” since my teen years is to build a brand new Chevy V8 engine old skool style from scratch just to see if I can. Everything exactly perfect, painted nicely, on an engine stand on casters. Start it up and run it once, tune it, then shut it down and prep it for long term indoor storage-display. Sit it over there in the corner of my office and just look at it. Edelbrock, Holley, Mallory, Hooker, etc.

  • Jeff Brokaw December 16, 2018, 7:25 PM

    I’ve always divided possessions into two categories in my mind: things you would save if your house was on fire – pictures, heirlooms, etc – and everything else.

    As these photos and countless others show, there isn’t always time to do that.

    One day at a time …

  • John the River December 16, 2018, 7:46 PM

    Running out of time till Christmas. I hope the fund being run by the Paradise Rotary is legit, I think that’s where we’re sending our donations.

  • DavidB December 16, 2018, 7:47 PM

    Did you find the box, the ring?

  • El Polacko December 17, 2018, 7:07 AM

    Rent or own?

  • theduchessofkitty December 17, 2018, 8:10 AM

    Oh. Dear. God!

    But you and your feline princess are OK. That’s all that matters.

  • DAN December 17, 2018, 8:48 AM

    looks to be a logistical nightmare cleaning up the whole town. i’m sure the powers that be have a plan where all that rubble will go, not likely to neal rd. altho they could always start filling the canyon further north. sister & i were horrified to find our playground of yore was turned into a DUMP, very old “indian caves ” totally buried in garbage, guess nobody bothered to checkout the land beforehand. probably scared of rattlesnakes. oh well life goes on.

  • bgarrett December 17, 2018, 9:31 AM

    I didnt know you had a 47 Ford. I have a 47 Mercury that I bought in 1967

  • Pat December 17, 2018, 12:59 PM

    I think the engine on the right is a Ford or Mercury flathead V8. The twin water pumps (one each side) is a dead giveway, at least to me. It might have had aftermarket aluminum heads, which are now in a puddle in the corner. The other engine? I can’t tell from this angle.

  • Hangtown Bob and Peg December 17, 2018, 4:40 PM

    We took the route thru Paradise that you suggested today. The destruction left us speechless. Total incineration for blocks and then, a house or two not even touched with green grass and flowers in the yard. Lots of activity with PG & E (probably 50+trucks in Base Camp and more scattered throughout). On Clark Road along the big canyon, a large crew was dealing with land slumps onto the road and another was hydro-seeding the bare slopes.

  • lendie December 17, 2018, 9:18 PM

    Looking at the photos, imagining myself looking out at the landscape, I was reminded
    of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami whose waters devastated the land and people of
    that part of coastal Japan much as fire did Paradise. People were left with nothing. Many loved ones died swept out to sea never to be seen again. So much loss and grief.

    A fellow named Itaru Sasaki lost his cousin in 2010. To help himself deal with his grief he built a glass-paneled phone booth in his hilltop garden with a disconnected rotary phone inside for communicating with his lost relative. It became known as the “telephone of the wind” (kaze no denwa). After the earthquake and tsunami, Sasaki opened his “wind phone” to the people of his community, his hometown Otsuchi, where 10% of the town perished in the flood.

    Sasaki created a sacred space from what I can only call “divine inspiration”. People make pilgrimages to the “wind phone” where they dial the phone number of their loved ones. A one sided communication, yet an act of faith, that somewhere somehow their voices will be heard. Some come once, some come weekly. They check in with their dead.

    The “phone of the wind” is not seen as something silly or shameful but rather a means of soul to soul conversation. Communication from the deepest soul to the invisible one.

    I can’t find the right words to convey how I felt when I heard about the “phone of the wind”. It was something beyond awe, wondrous. It suffused my heart with tears and hope. This “phone of the wind” in it’s glass booth, a confessional, a place of prayer, a container of love, grief, despair and maybe even a place for hope and changed lives to take root.

    Watch the NKK documentary and feel for yourself.


  • Anon December 20, 2018, 2:33 AM

    Alas, poor Yorick?

  • Terry December 16, 2019, 1:56 PM

    Terrible tragedy. Sickening actually. So close to where I grew up.

    On observing the garage, I see what appears to be about a ’47 Ford with the engine, sans heads, on the floor in front. I had a ’47 Ford Coupe that I installed a ’49 Olds 88 engine in. Drove to high school in the rig and loved the envy it created! Burned rubber, made a lot of noise and went fast. Girls loved to ride in it, and more. No AC, no auto trans, no auto anything whatsoever. Just damn cool. It did have the original vacuum tube AM radio which worked well enough to undress girls. That was accomplished up on Yankee Hill Road of course. Circa 1961 when I hit 16 years of youth.

    I never did grow up. And I hope I never do.