My family members were victims in the Bastrop fire.

Good Monday morning, Reader.

I’ve had about five false starts writing this blog post, because I just don’t know what tone to strike.  Inside my head, I’m going,

Funny? No, no, not appropriate.

Grave? No, no, that’ll turn people off.”

Philosophical?  Survivor-y?  Rocky Balboa?

So instead, I’m going to stop worrying about my rhetoric, and just copy and paste an email my father sent out on Saturday to friends and family:

I am about to do something I’ve never done before: Ask for help.

My nephew’s house burned to the ground in the Bastrop, Texas fire. He and his wife, his brother in law, his mother, and his uncle lived in a humble little home on four acres of wooded paradise. The whole place was incinerated … house, little fishing boat, out buildings, clothes, food, furniture. It’s now nothing but ashes four inches deep in a gray moonscape of blackened tree stumps.

They need everything.”

I’m pausing it right there because, well, that pretty much sums up the point of this blog post.

When my cousin Neville posted this video on Facebook of he and his family running away from their home in Bastrop, my jaw dropped.  I mean, I’ve been watching the news, but it’s just a whole different level of natural disaster when your cousin is talking over a shaky camera about his burning house, his father’s pictures, and oh my God his cat Scooter.  Scooter!  My heart broke in about five different ways when I heard that part in the video.

Neville and his family were not evacuated; they simply saw the fire rolling toward their house, packed up their family and (most of) their cats, jammed everyone in the car and got out.  They drove through cow pastures and people’s back yards until they found a road that wasn’t engulfed in flames, and now they are ok.  But they really did lose everything.

They are just a few of the several thousand Bastrop residents who lost their home and all their things.  So, I’m using this blog post to give our friends and extended family a way to Sponsor Neville and Mona, and also to help other victims of the Bastrop fires.  With no place to receive donations of goods, much less a place to store them, I think charitable funds are the most practical thing there.  There are two ways to give:, the largest online platform for social philanthropy, has partnered with the Central Texas chapter of the American Red Cross to fundraise for victims of these horrific fires.  It works just like Kickstarter, and I am helping to get the word out to interested donors.  You may make a donation to that fund here.

If you are a member of my extended family, a friend, or one of the incredibly kind, generous souls on Facebook who asked if they could make a donation to Neville and Mona directly after I posted their video on my Facebook wall, you may click the button below.  These funds are being collected in a private PayPal account that I set up myself, so I can guarantee you that your privacy will be protected, as I am delivering all donations to Neville and Mona myself.  Donations will be used for things like trips to the grocery store, buying clothing and toiletries, food, and everything they might need in the interim until they can find a new home.

(To my knowledge, you have the option to make either donation method 100% anonymous if you so choose.)

Sponsor a Bastrop Family:
Neville Moseley and Mona Black.

Sorry to start this week off with something so serious.  I promise we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled program of fun and quirk soon here on Austin Eavesdropper.

Thank you so much for considering help (every little bit does count), and for sending out positive thought vibes into the air for these people.

Peace, love, and pancakes,


UPDATE #1, 9/12/2011 at 10:23AM:

Here is a picture of a kitten nuzzling a deer to make this post more palatable.
UPDATE #2, 9/12/2011 at 11:41 AM:

On the sound advice of my husband, here is a picture of my cousin Neville.  Sorry it’s so small and grainy.  Did I mention that I used to be blonde?  

Neville is nearly seven feet tall, can play the recorder (and not just Hot Cross Buns but actual songs on the recorder), and enjoyed a brief career at the Texas Renaissance Fair.  Because let’s face it: When you’re seven feet tall and play the recorder, the Ren Fair is kind of not optional. 
This is the two of us at my wedding, and as you can see, Neville is dressed to kill.  I kindly let him break the all-white rule on my wedding day, because he is just that awesome.  He and Mona are constantly hosting (were constantly hosting) friends and family at their house, and always emphatically telling Ross and I to “just come down y’all!  Don’t even call!”
When I wrote him last week about the video and the fire, he replied back with an EMOTICON, people.  A smiling one.  Talk about a buoyant spirit; I am fairly sure I would still be in a corner somewhere rocking with my knees to my chest and mumbling like a lunatic.  
So I just thought I would tell you a little bit more about who this person is, and why he’s such a badass. A badass with Jack Nicholson eyebrows.