June 13, 2012
The Colorado High
Park Fire and Us
June 29, 2012
High Park Fire
Pics & Update
July 1, 2012
Our First Trip
Back to "Paradise"
July 12, 2012
Ash Day
Reality Check
August 6, 2012
Progress Report &
Pics on the Fire
August 16, 2012
Before & After
Fire Pics
September 12, 2012
After Fire
Progress Update
September 27, 2012
Work Parties and
Donkey Story
November 29, 2012
OK - The Black
Truth Blog
January 2, 2013
Looking Forward,
Looking Back
June 18, 2013
One Year Later -
The High Park Fire
September 20, 2013
We Weathered
the Storm


The following letter was sent on August 6, 2012:

Progress Report & Pics on the Fire -
  Colorado High Park Fire Update

(contains photos - please be patient as they load)

Progress Report

People are so great. Today we had our first cleanup work party, organized by a church group in Cheyenne, and supplemented with friends from Parker. Don’t feel left out – it came together quickly and we will certainly be scheduling more for the near future and will let all of you know! In the meantime – please pencil in the afternoon of Sunday, August 26. Mike is planning a surprise… an email will come soon with details.

The youngest volunteer for our erosion-control work party didn't mind getting dirty at all!

Hard to believe it was exactly eight weeks ago yesterday that we lost our house to the fire. So much has happened so fast, and every day goes by and I can’t account for it. I know each day is filled with taking care of necessary things, but unexpectedly I’ll find I can’t even remember the end of a sentence. It's a frustrating and funny side effect of all of this stress.
This week I made great strides in getting my new office set up, and I’m feeling more peace already. I’m looking forward to making headway on the massive project of catching up on two months’ worth of mail, phone calls, emails, and business.
So many of you have sent us gift cards and donations, and we are so grateful. The insurance company has been great, but your generous help has allowed us in the meantime to put gas in the car, groceries in the pantry, buy household items, and given us the ability to focus on taking care of the mess. I honestly don’t know how people with full time jobs can do everything that needs to be done in this kind of situation. It takes so much time to contact all the banks and insurance people, make lists, get necessary items, make arrangements for sifters and debris removers and tree cutters and still keep the business details from falling through the cracks…it can feel overwhelming.
I’ve been trying to write for weeks, but we had to spend 10 days tending our booth at Cheyenne Frontier Days, and each night I came home exhausted. Please accept my apologies for the delay.

Our booth at Cheyenne Frontier Days. I'll admit it was hard to focus on work right now.


So – I took inventory, and I have a comfortable little set of almost-matched dinner plates, bowls, salad plates, and a few extra saucers. We have plenty of glasses, and a friend loaned us silverware and plastic storage containers. It’s really rather humorous – a few nights ago, Mike and I decided to make spaghetti. We located two pots for sauce and pasta, found an appropriate frying pan to brown the meat, and then were almost stumped when we remembered our colander no longer existed. What to do? Ah ha! I remembered I used to have a little sturdy plastic one I had been using the past year to wash brass casings to make my bullet reloads. I fetched it, washed it, and voila! Spaghetti was served!

Wildlife and Greenery

I asked my sister, Stacy Moore, a professional photographer who lives in Boulder, to please come to the land before the sifters arrived, so she could document what had happened and help me start our inventory list. We walked the mountain, and were surprised and thrilled to see so much greenery already sprouting on the lower slopes. Rich green grass was spreading where the ash flows had provided nutrition, and little aspen trees were popping up everywhere. At this rate, I’m guessing the mountain will have green underbrush all over it by next spring. That will be very nice to see.

I spotted a mother elk and her little brown baby calf coming out of a surviving aspen grove across our meadow a few weeks ago, and a few days ago I saw a mother deer and two darling spotted twin fawns scampering across the road as we drove home after dark. Yesterday we saw four mule deer bucks in velvet. A little red fox was out hunting, and birds and ground squirrels are plentiful.



On July 17, the cavalry arrived in the form of 20 wonderful people from Franklin Graham’s ministry, Samaritan’s Purse, in white plastic protective suits. They removed all the warped roofing, what was left of the appliances (the refrigerator burned so badly it came out in two pieces), and piled all the metal into a huge stack. Then they began sifting the rubble from any area where we thought they might find valuables. Mike found a couple of trophy belt buckles and other melted nostalgia items, and I found my hematite necklace collection fused together, as were my seed beads. They found a fair bit of stuff, but unfortunately, the majority was not salvageable. It has been estimated the fire hit our house at about 2700 degrees, and that extreme temperature melted glass and ruined everything. Of all the broken dishes and warped items they fished out of there, I was able to salvage – (drumroll, please) one saucer. Ah well. At least we could list things for insurance, and say goodbye.

Of all the things they found, only one solitary saucer was salvageable in the end.

Mike hams it up with the remains of a pair of his goggles.

One of the cutest things found in the ruins were two nests of baby bunnies – 15 in all! The mothers used to nest under the deck of our house and behind the woodshed, and must have come in after the ashes cooled and made their little families. We collected them and took them to the Humane Society, since I feared they would be easy prey and we were having a debris removal team come soon. I was contacted by phone a few days ago, and the Humane Society wanted to let me know they plan to use the bunnies for a promotional piece. Such fun!


Debris Removal

They came and took away our house this past week. It’s odd and disturbing inside to see your home carted away, bucket load by trailer load. The professional debris removal team did a wonderful job. They were polite, hard workers, thorough, and respectful. In only four days they were able to do what would have taken me and Mike so much longer, caused more pain, given more grief, and worn us out even more than we already are.

It was a strange mix of sadness at seeing the ruins hauled away, and a feeling of peace as the land was restored to bare earth. We have up to two years to decide if/how we wish to rebuild, so we will probably let the land rest through the winter, and take our time making such a large, important decision.

Mike and I are still emotionally, mentally, and physically whupped. We’re getting things accomplished, but only one at a time, and it takes everything we’ve got to stay focused. In a way, it feels like we’re recuperating from a long illness – we have to pace ourselves, we have little reserves, and are easily tired.
But something happened a couple of weeks ago – I started to have momentary flashes of feeling normal. For just a few minutes at a time, I forget the constant focus of the fire and its results, and my mind strays to an inspiration for a new show, or wants to design a new historic outfit. Granted, it’s like someone with a broken leg getting a fleeting notion to run across the room, but it’s still a nice change, and definitely a move in the right direction.

Things you don’t think of…

We came home about a week ago, to be greeted in the door by the strong smell of…skunk! Nuts! Just when we had the house cleaned head to toe by the smoke removal team, some vagabond skunk, possibly a fire refugee, had passed by and we suspect spent the day under our house. Critter-proofing our studio from skunks was yet one more thing we hadn’t expected to have to do, but the fire has pushed our hand on the matter.
We’ve never owned a dryer up here, and I always hang our laundry to dry in the sun. I have to time it carefully these days, since we are prone to God-blessed afternoon showers. I have to make sure I bring it in before the rain hits the mountain and the smell of burnt campfire infuses my sheets. And now… the smell of skunk, too!  Ha ha.
As many of you know, we have had a pine beetle infestation in this part of the country for years, and thousands of acres of forest have already been killed off across the mountains of Colorado. The trees around our house were relatively unscathed, but since the fire, the beetles have been attacking our charcoaled trees mercilessly, since they are attracted to stressed trees. At night, you can actually hear the beetles grinding their way into the trunks. It’s eerie.

One of the thousands of "ash pits" across the landscape - weird alien footprints where entire trees used to be, now burned completely away to their very root structure.

Now that the debris team has carted away the ruins, we are left with a large empty dirt space where there used to be our home and five outbuildings. We’re having trouble wrapping our brains around it. It’s so odd to see nothing there. We can still see every detail of our home in our minds, and now, it’s just vanished. It’s so weird.

Upcoming projects

Mike and I are formulating ideas of how all of you can help (since so many of you are asking), and I hope my next email to you will list some specifics. We are already starting to schedule a number of “work party” days. We need to clear underbrush, plant grass, rake up remaining debris and burnt areas, build a storage shed, remodel/improve and fire mitigate our studio, and hopefully have a fundraiser for the local volunteer fire department, all just for starters. Thank you for your continuing offers to help. I promise you we’ll gratefully accept. And remember... hold August 26!

In closing…for now…

Good news – Squiggy (the neighbor’s lost cat who miraculously survived the fire and was finally reunited with his owners a month after the disaster) is OK! He’s turned the corner, his poor burnt feet are healing, he’s putting on weight, and his owner says he’s turning back into his finicky, loveably cantankerous self.

Squiggy at his owner's apartment, getting healthy and lovingly ornery.

Well, once again I’ve gone on longer than I intended. Thank you, thank you all again a hundred times for your love, prayers, and support during all of this. I wish to stress for you again the fact that while we’re not “alright” yet, we’re getting closer, bit by bit. We’ve already begun sketching plans for a sweet new storage building on the site of the old utility shed, and we have kind and highly skilled friends giving us advice and ideas on how we can rebuild and/or remodel. It will be a long time until things are “normal,” but it feels so good to have flashes of inspiration now and again. We are finally sleeping better and longer, I'm using my "eye-pad" far less often, our cat loves us, God is good, and so are all of you!
We will keep in touch. Please call or write anytime. We will continue to try to catch up with everyone as we can.

Most sincerely and with great appreciation,
Sharon & Mike Guli
PO Box 127
Bellvue, CO 80512
(Yes, our land line is operational!)