To look at the front of the house, you really wouldn't know anything was wrong. Except for the smoke-enhanced cobwebs and the growing pile of trash, it looks like a complete house. Inside, it's a different story.
There are boxes holding things we might be able to save and other boxes marked "total loss." The smoke engulfed the house, so even things which were not scorched may be lost forever. The master bedroom and its bath are totally charred and empty. What was in them was thrown out into the back and side yards and we've been digging through the piles ever since, trying to assess the loss.
Art throughout the rest of the house is also damaged to a greater or lesser extent: we pulled some boxes out of Michael's room and discovered that the container sides which were against the wall of our bedroom were scorched. The were all covered with soot and eveything smells of smoke. Paper just soaks up that smell.
While framed work generally fared better than unframed work, my signed and numbered print (#2, actually) of the Michael Whelan painting The Eagles Are Coming from a 1980s Tolkien calendar melted in its frame. Fortunately, the pencil sketch on tracing paper of Sam and Frodo done for the full-sized painting, survived although it will have to be reframed. A painted color study of Yoda which Michael did for the cover of My Jedi Journal has smoke damage but should be o.k. Ditto two Frank Frazetta drawings. Most of the framed movie posters that were in the hall, including all three of the X-men films, the two new Batman films, and the two Swamp Thing films are pretty much ruined. My poster of the first of the new Zorro films, autographed by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, may be o.k. once it is reframed. The lobby cards for Swamp Thing are pretty much ruined. There was a 16 x 20 pencil drawing of Captain America that Jack Kirby did for Len as a get well card more than 40 years ago, which is in pretty bad shape.
In my office, the framed celebrity photographs I took when I used to freelance for the Washington Post are not visible because the soot is that bad. I hope they can be cleaned or reframed, because I don't have those negatives. The half-dozen framed prints from the science fiction portrait project, which were in "floater" frames are probably not salvageable, but I do own those negatives. My Epson 2400 printer has been declared a total loss, like all of the electronics in the house, wherever they were.
The few items hanging in the living room, like the diptych Michael Whelan did of the cover of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Bloody Sun, may need reframing, but will be o.k. I'll learn to live with any smoke smell from that, thank you. The statuary and awards that were on the mantle may be too damaged to salvage.
Len's office, which had an entire wall covered with awards and sketches, is in very bad shape. His Shazam Awards, which had been sealed on wood mounts are charred, melted, and not replaceable. He had a number of portraits of himself done by people like Sergio Aragones and Frank Kelly Freas which may be ruined beyond repair. Sergio's still alive, but Kelly died a number of years ago. I'm not sure how many of Len's original scripts, which a university recently requested for their collection, will survive. We haven't had a chance to get that far into things.
On Saturday, we did a repacking of our garage in case that all has to be moved out as well. Among the papers were found were a hand-written note from Alan Moore to Len which accompanied the delivery of the first issue of Watchmen. And that's why I keep referring to things as our archeological dig.
I will eventually post a few pictures, but I've got to replace some of my computer equipment before I start downloading images.
Lunch with the Barefoot Contessa
5 months ago