Fire Update #3

It’s been nearly a month since the fire took our home and my studio. The demolition still has not happened, so we are still in a kind of limbo. With no way (aside from the increasingly emotionally draining compilation of our property loss spreadsheet for the insurance company) to recapture the past, we are starting to look toward the future.

Our Quaker community has been of immense help; we thought we’d stay in the Friends Center guest room for a couple of nights while we sorted out our next moves — but they offered us a small unused private apartment for a couple of months. While staying here, they extended a further offer of a larger apartment, once it was vacated by its current tenant, for the span of 9-14 months (depending on a number of things). We’re glad to be nearby our old neighborhood, and staying in a place that already feels like home (considering how much time I spent here pre-Covid). The neighborhood is peaceful, green, and quiet.

We decided, once we had the lease in hand and approval from our landlords, to make an addition to our family. Meet Longfellow, our seal-point Siberian kitten. He’s about 3 months old, and (while he’s not eating, pooping, or rocketing around the apartment) is a complete snugglebug. At the encouragement of several people, we made him an Instagram account to chronicle his adorableness as long as he lets us stick cameras in his face. We hope that, once social isolation is over, we can introduce him to some of our local friends.

Now, to business (literally). Fallingblox Designs has 3 main divisions: Sales, Education, and R&D.

  1. Sales: The books I had in the apartment were destroyed, but I keep most of my books off-site. I picked up a box of each, plus some shipping envelopes. I ordered some new copies of Victorian Raffia and Bipolar. I’ve got a scale, printer, label printer, labels — technically everything I need to begin shipping. The issue is that I simply don’t have the space to set it all up. I’m going to need to wait until we’re in the new space in a few weeks. In the meantime, Wall of Yarn continues to drop-ship for me, so feel free to order stuff on my store as usual. As always, you can follow my pattern links to Ravelry as well.
  2. Education: I had to pay 150% of list, but I did re-acquire my high-end webcam for teaching virtual workshops. The laptop I had ordered for workshop streaming arrived a few days after the fire. Now the only bottleneck is that the Meeting House only has 50mbps internet. We are in the process of upgrading that to full gigabit service. When that happens, I’ll run some tests and then open the workshop books again.
  3. R&D: Unfortunately, patterns that were in development are on hold until I can acquire new yarn for them. Projects in progress were in cloth drawstring bags in a crate in my living room. The chance that any of them have survived is nil. Just to keep my hands busy, I am working on a new pattern unrelated to the ones I’ve been posting about thus far. As soon as I’m able to restart work on previous patterns, you’ll hear about it here.

Please help Roselene

You have heard about our troubles over the past couple of weeks. Thank you for your outpouring of support and well-wishes. Despite the tragic loss of our home and most of our possessions, we are well insured and supported. This is not the case for everyone in our building, however. Our next-door neighbor (in the other basement unit) was a renter without insurance, a first-generation Haitian immigrant with a teenage son, and a genuinely sweet, if shy, person. She has lost everything and has no easy path to the next steps her life will need to take. She is staying with family, while her son is staying several towns over with other family. They will be reunited soon, but she needs immediate help.

We may yet be able to retrieve some of our stuff, my samples, our memorabilia, etc — and what we can’t, we have insurance and good friends offering to help replace things. But we won’t ask for help until while our neighbor still suffers. To that end, we have set up a GoFundMe for Roselene, in the hopes that we can direct some of the goodwill coming our way toward someone who needs it more than we do right now.

Later on, when the demolition has happened and we have some closure, we may reach out for other help. But right now, please help Roselene if you are able. Thank you.

Update: The GoFundMe raised its target amount within 12 hours and nearly doubled its target in less than a week. Thank you to the nearly 200 generous souls who donated to a stranger in need. We have turned off the donation button just shy of the 200-donor limit (to keep Roselene from having to deal with a 1099-K come next tax season).

In other news

I have taken my website out of hiatus mode. Fallingblox Designs is not fully recovered but certain things are at least starting to move again. Please visit the Fire Updates page for the latest on how Fallingblox Designs is rebuilding.

Thank you for all the messages of support via this blog, email, Facebook, etc; I will be responding to those that require responses soon.

An update on our home

Dear friends,

This is an update on our situation, a little over a week later. For those who hadn’t heard, our home burned down at 2:30 AM on Sunday, May 31. The building was an 8-unit condo with about 20 residents; all made it out OK. The 3-alarm fire devastated the interior of the building; however, our unit is one of two on the “garden level” (i.e. the basement) where the damage is much more water and smoke and toxic debris than actual fire. However, the city deemed the building structurally unsound and we have not been allowed into the unit to see if anything can be retrieved. We still do not have a final report on how the fire started.

The demolition was supposed to happen relatively quickly, but delays from Eversource have kept the city from issuing the permit we need to proceed with that. Because of that, our unit has continued to languish in the summer heat and the moisture remaining from 5+ hours of high-pressure water, which means we are likely going to have a severe mold problem in addition to everything else.

We still hold out hope that some of our most important and irreplaceable items can be retrieved and possibly restored, but we won’t know until the demolition can begin. Eversource’s delay may yet cost us another couple of weeks without the closure we so sorely need.

To everyone who has already offered help, thank you so much. We feel lucky to have you in our lives. Your generosity adds light and hope to our lives every day, even when we don’t always respond immediately. Our Quaker community has been incredibly generous in helping us with temporary housing as we regroup. We have also had many offers of help from family, friends, and coworkers. Local people have offered furniture, clothes, food and sundries; knitters and yarn companies have offered to help replace yarn and reknit some of my samples; others have offered financial support and encouraged us to open a GoFundMe.

We have been reluctant to ask for any of those things because, as I mentioned, we don’t yet know what can be salvaged. We cannot accommodate a lot of material donations in our small apartment, and we have a very good insurance plan which should cover a large amount of the lost property — and will help us with rent until our condo is rebuilt. We’re doing (financially) OK — but we have one neighbor who is not. She’s a Haitian immigrant with a teenage son, who also lost everything and has no insurance. She’s living with family but her son has to live in a different town. Before we ask for any help for ourselves, we want to make sure she is OK and has the resources to rebuild her life with her son. To that end, we will likely be setting up a small fund to help her get back on her feet. Stay tuned for that.

To our local friends, thank you for the help offered so far. When the demolition happens, we will likely need hands and vehicles to cart stuff to a storage unit nearby. Aside from that, stay tuned.

To my knitting friends, students and followers, I am still optimistic that some of my stash and samples may survive this. Most of it (aside from WIPs) were in ziploc bags inside watertight bins, as a moth deterrent — the water should also have been deterred. If it turns out that this is not the case, I will begin a list of yarns and projects I will need replaced. If you are up to the challenge of sample knitting for me, you can join my test and sample knitters mailing list. If you just want to support my creative pursuits in double-knitting, please feel free to buy a pattern on Ravelry. For those who have found backdoor links to my online store (which I have tried to keep hidden until I am able to fulfill orders again), I have a limited supply of books and patterns at Wall of Yarn in IL; they are drop-shipping them for me during this time. Due to this limitation, I cannot currently sign books for you. As soon as the way opens, I will try to start running my virtual workshops again.

To our Quaker community, please hold us in the Light. We greatly appreciate the material and spiritual support you have offered and given, and I hope to be able to continue supporting the Meeting in all the ways I have thus far, and more.

To everyone who has made it this far, thank you for your care and support. We will make it through this. The world is burning, and we are but a small part of it. Our problems, large as they seem to us right now, pale in comparison to the systemic racism and violence our country visits on its most vulnerable citizens and residents, and the continuing ravages of the pandemic here and worldwide. Please know that we are marching beside you in spirit, even as our bodies and minds are exhausted from this ordeal. We hope to join you soon. We love you all.

Alasdair & Marcus