This is not the post I planned for this month…but sometimes our plans are changed in a flash.

California has been through a wrenching time with our fires and floods.  I want to share a story of one couples experience and how my artist friend Margaret Matson is helping.

Margaret is part of a group of 10 artists that are making Valentines for an exchange.  I’m going to show you her Valentine in this blog post, and tell you what she is doing with it, but first I want to share her friends, Nancy Soo Hoo and John Mooy’s experience.


Dear friends and family….It has taken me quite awhile to be able to sit down and to write my experiences of what happened to us, mostly since it re-stimulates the fear in me…but I will try to make it quick (tho it is long).  As some of you saw, John had done his best to prepare by building up a wall of sandbags along the border of the creek when he heard that this storm would be troublesome.  Something I had NEVER done in the 25 years I have lived near this creek, since the creek would run straight by my house..  I could watch the levels rise from my kitchen window, and usually it was after 4-5 continuous days of rain.

I had just finished putting the last box of photos away (out of 15) after having to evacuate due to the Thomas Fire just one month before.  The fire was traumatic enough, and I was ready to tuck back into my home, process all those feeling and get focused on life again…

After 3 days of filling sandbags and helping MANY others to fill their sandbags (like hundreds of bags), John stayed up all night in the truck to watch the weather and the creek to make sure our little cottage was okay… I was exhausted and went to bed early, but woke up as the rain approached.  We had walkie talkies to make sure our communication would not be interrupted.  The rain came down harder…and he could see on the radar that there was a finger of rain that just SAT on top of us…he said he could see the transformers blowing since they created a green blue flash of light in the night sky and to expect blackout.  Suddenly there was a blazing bright orange glow that completely lit up the sky.  He told me to look out the window.  It was as if the sun was rising in the hills above Montecito.  The orange glow was not a flash, it persisted.  I then hear, “I am going to drive to the end of our driveway to look at what is causing that orange glow, and I am not leaving…I promise you!!!…I suddenly hear what sounded like a stampede of buffalo or a freight train coming my way.  I could feel it shaking the ground. I ran to the kitchen window with my little flashlight, and looked to the creek.  The little light was swallowed up by the darkness,  but apparently John heard me yell to him ” The water is coming!!!” ( I don’t remember that at all…).. I hear his voice yelling to me from the radio: “GO TO THE BEDROOM WINDOW AND GET OUT NOW NANCY!! JUMP OUT…NOOOOOWWW!!!!” Luckily , a jacket happened to be hanging right there on the cabinet, I put it on, and pushed out the screen and climbed out of the bedroom window into the pouring rain.  When my feet hit the ground I was knee high in cold mud.  BAREFOOT and in my pajamas.  I climbed up the ivy fence and he pulled me over and put me in the truck.  As we backed out of the driveway, in the headlight we could see the mud and water coming towards us.  We got out onto the road and our neighbor came running out and all I could do was yell” GOOOOO! LEAVE!!!” People were everywhere in their cars.  The sky was still orange.  The rain was still coming down and created what looked like an orange mist…  You could feel the panic in the air.  It looked like the end of the world.  Little did we know it was sadly the end of the world for many people in our community.

Our Angel neighbors, Valerie Aroyan and Brandon Aroyan from down the street invited us to come to their house where it was warm and dry.  They took us muddied messes in, and we filled their tub with our wet muddy clothes.  They gave us warm clothes and shelter and shoulders for me to cry on.  We sat and waited for the sun to rise.  We ended up spending 4 days in the “Black Zone” with them.  We are so lucky to have them on our SURVIVOR TEAM…so extremely GRATEFUL.

The next day was a blur.  But what I do remember are the numerous rainbows that LIT the sky in front of the hills that just hours before were bathed in that eerie orange glow.  That day was one of the most beautiful days I have ever see….Rainbows, one right after the other…anywhere between 15-20 of them.  As if they were ushering those souls who had passed in the night…like a brilliant glistening pathway to beyond the veil… it was SURREAL…  The whole thing is surreal…and so unbearably sad.

We are thankful to be alive.  Had John not driven to the end of our driveway to look at those lights, he might’ve been swept away in the darkness by the creek since it broke the banks within minutes.

He told me it was effortless to lift me over the fence.  As if there were two helpers pulling me up by the “belt loops” of my pjs!  He said I practically flew over that fence.  The amazing thing is that I was barefoot and didn’t suffer a scratch.

We are weary and traumatized, too.  We feel like crazy people, being happy and sad, grateful and fearful…I am crying at everything, as I know the whole town is…we are processing this experience as best we can, and know it will take some time to heal…

On a brighter side, the amount of LOVE and SUPPORT is just so BEAUTIFUL!!!

Nancy Soo Hoo










Margaret spent many hours on her Valentines and decided they might be used to raise some money for Nancy and John, two simple artists  that have lost everything.  She emailed 60 of her friends and sold the 10 exquisite cards in little more than an hour.  She received $800.00 for the original cards, and many more requests.  She has since had the card laser printed and embellished in an 8″ x 10″ size.  They can be purchased for $15.00 or more, as a donation for John and Nancy to help them start over.

This is the 8″ x 10″ card you will receive.

May be ordered by contacting Margaret

 (rush to receive before Valentines Day)








One thought on “AN UNUSUAL POST

  1. A very unusual post indeed! So glad to hear your friends are safe, and delighted to see the art community – and Maggie’s gorgeous work – supporting John and Nancy. All best to everyone.


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