Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One Year After the Fire

If you've been following me and Poppy on Twitter, you know we've had a rough year. One year ago on February 15th in Utica New York, we were having a Post Valentine and Chinese New year dinner by the fire. Poppy threw in the paper plates (dumb move) and they went up the chimney and caught it on fire. The fire department was able to put it out, but not without major damage to the fireplace, which was our main source of heat because our boiler fell apart, literally.

So the fire department condemned our home and we had to find a new place to live. We took the last of the money we had, rented a truck, and moved back to Cleveland. We couldn't fit everything in the truck, but we owned the house and we knew we could come back and at least sell off what was left behind. It was a lot.

We couldn't get back for about 2 months and this is what we found. Windows and doors broken out and boarded up. Holes in walls, most furniture and any valuables stolen or vandalized.  Even the new ovens were broken. I would have rather they had stolen them. And the police who knew we had been evicted and said they would watch the house? They were looking to prosecute for abandonment of property.

So we left almost everything behind except for a few things that we could fit in the car and went back to our tiny cottage near Cleveland.

Things were OK for a while and then Etsy decided that Poppy needed to be punished and closed all of her shops. They refused to negotiate and finally to communicate. Poppy was the main bread winner in the family, so it was quite painful. Especially after all the work she put into her shops and all the support she had given to Etsy over the years.

It was right after Halloween, fortunately, because that is her busiest season of the year. They shut down my shop also that had a link to hers. We had started it together, but it had long since been only mine. The girl can only do so much. The reason they gave for shutting her shops? She had been flagged too many times for copyright violations. She sells legal reconstructions under the First Sale Doctrine, while others on Etsy sell actual violating copies and go untouched. They wouldn't listen.

I was able to pick up a lot of Holiday sales. So I was able to cover expenses for the next few months. Right before Christmas I got a call from my son saying his doctor told him he needed heart surgery immediately or he would die in a few months. He had a corrected congenital heart defect, and valve replacement only lasts 15 to 20 years. I spent every last penny I had getting him to the Cleveland Clinic for evaluation. With the extra mouth in the house, I even had to go to the local food pantry, which I HATE to do.

My son's Doctor in North Dakota was a little over cautious. My son definitely needs surgery, but it isn't an emergency yet. The Cleveland Clinic put him on some medication and his condition will hold until he can get on disability. He was told that he will have to have several more operations over the course of his lifetime. He did have 2 valves replaced when he was 19. He's back in North Dakota waiting for word from the Govt.

And then last Friday, Etsy deactivated my shops. I didn't make as much as Poppy, but it was pretty much all I made. They claim they tried to contact me, but they were never quite able to reach me until the day they deactivated my account. I got an email from them that day. Still trying to work with them, but I hold little hope, after all the stories I have heard.

This has been quite a year for us. I am certainly hoping that the smoke will clear and we will be able to see sunshine after the Fire soon.


Ginny Huber said...

Oh, wow, Cinders! Thanks for posting this update-sad and traumatic as it is-here. I knew about the fire but not all the aftermath! here's to better times happening soon. it's a good thing you and Poppy are so strong and creative!xo

Pili said...

I'm sure you will kick arse and will recover!

I just hope Etsy will reopen your shops, and in the meantime that Artfire catches up on sales for you two!

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