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The backwash

I usually write about various things associated with being an indie artist, working outside of Hollywood and trying to find a new path.

The last couple days have seen some major setbacks, not just in terms of losing work, but in fighting to keep our home against raging forces of nature. I know that sounds like a cliche, but to illustrate what I mean I’ll describe a little of my last hours at my house.

I slept last night with my cell phone close by, and at 2am, I saw a text from emergency services warning again of flash flooding. I arrived in the morning to my neighborhood to see sure signs that the entire area was covered in a swath of high water. Fences were down, water marks of debris littered the street and yards on “high ground”.

There at my house the water was still surging, far more violently than the night before. Fast racing waters circled the house, like a fist. Areas of sandy silt peeked out, letting me know the water had been higher. All debris was gone, thankfully because I had removed so much fencing that had sealed in my yard like a pool built by beavers.

I got to work in the backyard, filling whatever bags I could find with silt, and packing them against the back glass doors looking into the yard, once filled with greenery now a frothy sea that was unrecognizable. The pool now gone, the garden with the bench I built for my wife, gone.

There beyond the stable, that I’ve been struggling to turn into workshops, was the monstrous creek. Working on the deck filling bags, was unnerving. I felt as if I were swimming with a monstrous great white shark, or a dragon that undulated up and down.

This is a story without an ending yet. I have no idea how the house will fare again tonight. Trying to save the house from the surge was my priority. My artwork was in hard to reach places in the garage, ground level. I pulled what I could, and the rest I left while hurriedly trying to build walls, take down fences, etc. I have no idea how they fared. My computer is with me but disassembled and parts are missing. All of it was clipped together carefully and not meant for a hasty evac.

So we are in limbo tonight. My sons want to know when we can go home. My youngest son, who knows what I do on computers wanted to know if the movies I was showing him were fake, did I animate them he wanted to know? No, this isn’t CG I told him, that’s really our yard, that’s why we can’t go home yet.

Beneath some of what happened is my frustration with Boulder county. without getting too deeply into that story I will say that I proposed a three foot high stone perimeter wall to my barn/workshop which was rejected out of hand in favor of flood vents. Having seen first hand what major floods do, twice now (remember the nor-easter in NJ?) I know that anyone who has been through such knows it isn’t just water, it is silt and debris. In this current flood, the debris in my yard was a hundred feet long and three feet deep, then there is the silt, soft piles two feet thick cover the property.

Flood vents would be easily stuffed up, and needlessly expose my structure to moisture year round. They are in short: a joke in the face of nature and yet I have bent over backwards to accommodate Boulder county, and had to put my plans to finish a wall and flood gates on hold while waiting for them to approve my drawings. This is something btw, I spend almost all my spare time working on. I create designs and documents for presentation to two separate Boulder county offices, and not just once, no, there is a pre-permit process too which I cannot fathom. Essentially I hand mountains of paperwork three times and always I am asked for more. It is a process that seems designed to stop home owners from doing any home improvements, including simply changing a window or door, this is not a joke. It’s law and means employing inspectors to approve the door or window, and other inspectors, and flood inspectors etc. I guess it is a joke.

I’m frustrated with this, because in the slow approval process for my workshop, I have had to stop construction and wait. I could have built my wall, and better protected my workshop and home, if not for the laws of Boulder which are in fact meant to protect my home, or are they?

So I am in the backwash. All the hours of construction I did are likely destroyed. All the work I put on paper was just that, work on paper, as if to interminably slow down my progress. The many hours I have put into countless drawings for the county (for work I’ve already done mind you) have stopped me from doing artwork of my own. It has consumed my studio time. So yes I feel more than a little frustrated with this and Boulder County, whose logic defies reason. Their answer when I ask them questions, is “that is the way it is, it’s the law.”: Like a robot reciting something on voicemail instead of a person talking to a home-owner.

On top of this all my personal work is not accountable for anymore. I have no idea what will become of it after this, or the home I have tried to save this week.

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