This afternoon as I was pulling out of work on my way to the bank, I saw a friend carrying a box from the home that had been attached to the building that burned yesterday.
I stopped and rolled down my window to ask her what she was doing.
"The family who lived in the home has nothing left, and we are doing everything possible to help salvage what we can."
(The family is new to the neighborhood and my friend is in their church congregation.)
I asked if I could help and she told me that they were going to try and wash what clothes they could get out of the home.
The inside of the home was black, but the clothes were mostly damaged by all of the water that was sprayed on the home.
I loaded three boxes of clothes into my car and was assaulted with the smell of smoke for the rest of the day.
I called my dad tonight and told him that all I've been able to think about all day was the ruin we found the morning after our cabin burned down.
The images that went through my mind over and over again were of the shovels full of burned debris we loaded again and again into trucks and trailers.
My dad and I both threw our backs out cleaning up that mess, and as I looked at the devastation today my heart ached for our neighbors.
On one of the last days we were cleaning up the remains of our cabin fire, the owner of the neighboring cabin drove down the road on his back hoe tractor and spent the remainder of the afternoon helping us.
I loaded the boxes of clothes into my car this afternoon because it was the least I could do.
Jason suggested we take the clothes to the laundromat and so while Emily snuggled in her daddy's arms Becca and I took our rolls of quarters and headed out.
The clothes were equal parts frozen (due to the fact that we might as well live in an igloo and the clothes were wet) and covered in soot and insulation that had fallen out of the ceiling.
All of them had once been white but were now black, and were dry clean only.
By the time we had three industrial sized washers filled with clothes, the floor was covered in soot and dirt.
I searched the laundromat for a broom but couldn't find one.
Becca reminded me that someone would sweep the floor at some point and it was okay.
She then brought up what she felt was a more pertinent worry.
"What are we going to put the clothes in?"
I hadn't thought that far ahead.
I had already thrown away the wet black boxes and hangers the clothes had come in on, and had purchased hangers when I had run to the grocery store, but we didn't have laundry baskets.
(PS. I threw the boxes and clothes into a dumpster outside of the laundromat that had a big sign that said 'No dumping. Fine of $500 if caught.')
After we had started the wash for the second time (the clothes still had an odor after the first wash, and heck, what else are we going to do with our $20 worth of quarters) we ran across the street to Walmart.
We bought laundry baskets, treats for Jason, a toy and two cute dresses for Emily, and a broom and dustpan.
I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep if I left a mess on the floor of the laundromat.
As we walked out of Walmart I said to Becca, "This has become a rather expensive service project."
(PS. A pet peeve of mine is when people don't put their grocery carts where they belong, and instead leave them in the middle of the parking lot. But tonight I couldn't find a home for the shopping cart anywhere near where we had parked. Instead I put it in the parking spot reserved for the Orem City police department.)
((Another pet peeve of mine is when the sign at the laundromat advertises laundry bags that do not exist.))
"I've already broken the law for dumping trash in the dumpster; I might as well go all out," I said to Becca as we got in the car.
Thankfully no one had stolen the clothes when we got back to the laundromat, so while Becca loaded the still wet clothes into the laundry baskets I swept the floor.
"Maybe if they see me cleaning up my mess (there were security cameras) they will go easy on me for the dumpster episode," is what I said.
Oh..and we were out of quarters...which is why we were taking the clothes home to dry them.
Because as it turns out, the last time either Becca or I were in a laundromat was about 16 years ago, and what do you know, prices have gone up.
$3.00 per washer seems like highway robbery, but you know, whatever.
We pulled in the garage, wrote our love letters to Jason, taped them onto the treats we bought (with tape we also bought) and took them into the house.
The first note tells Jason how thankful I am he had the brilliant idea to send me to the laundromat in the first place as it saved my carpet, and you can read the second note.
(Coincidentally, the notes were also written on cards purchased during our Walmart run.)
After all was said and done Becca and I realized that we had washed one outfit that we shouldn't have: a dress that was 100% silk and dry clean only.
What are people doing with silk dresses anyway?
Becca suggested that perhaps the woman the dress belongs to will forgive me.
I checked every other dang tag in the clothes, just not this one.
As I loaded a load of wet laundry into the dryer tonight I could still smell a faint whiff of smoke.
PPS. I donated the broom and dust pan to the laundromat.