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Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

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Goodbye, Tiny Blue Spot

September 18th, 2020 by dk

A friend texted me at 11:39 that Monday night, asking if I was staying in my Blue River tiny house. I wasn’t, but I got more warning than my neighbors upriver received. They escaped shortly after midnight, with nothing but the clothes on their back.

For days we hoped the fire had capriciously skipped over our homes. Once we received a video showing total destruction, denial yielded to disbelief. Brains do weird things when traumatized. I began catastrophizing everything. The simplest tasks felt overwhelming. Every brake light felt like a life-threatening collision was about to happen.

I got confused about what I had lost and what I hadn’t. The confusion then morphed into a strange sort of discontinuity. It showed up mostly when I was drifting off to sleep. “Oh no,” I thought, “those DVDs I took out of the Blue River Library got burned up. I won’t be able to return them.” Never mind the library itself was completely destroyed.

The next night my mind drifted to a special film I had planned to attach to the skylight directly over the bed, creating an iridescent penumbra around the night sky. “No problem, I remember where I bought that film. I can replace it,” forgetting for the moment that the skylight is gone, along with the bed and the house. But not the stars!

I got things out of proportion, out of place, and out of order. My brain was coping as best it could.

I didn’t lose sight of my good fortune. My son had planned a trip upriver that night, but changed his mind because of the heat. I had offered it instead to friends from Chicago, but they decided to camp near Portland before flying home on Tuesday. For me at least, it could have been so much worse. The good memories have only been strengthened.

After 30 years of putting things into words, I wanted to build something indescribable. I had fallen in love with the quirky community of Blue River and I was happy to make a contribution to its spirit. My neighbor, Dale, marveled how people would slow down as they passed my Tiny Blue Spot. He was grateful for that.

Let me pass along a story from 25 years ago that captures the spirit of Blue River. Dale was new to town. He looked out his window one day and saw a large pig ambling by. He dropped what he was doing and followed the pig. A neighbor saw the pig from her porch and silently shrugged.

Just then, another neighbor came down the road. Dale pointed at the pig, which had rolled over to sun himself in the first neighbor’s driveway. “Is that your pig?” he asked the oncoming neighbor. She looked back at him, not at the pig, “Why, is he bothering you?” 

People settle in Blue River to not be bothered, and no strolling swine was going to change that. Friends ask if I will rebuild. I have the plans for the structure, but not for the community. How do you build — much less rebuild — quirk?


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at

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