When my family and I first moved into our new home in the Oakland Hills in 2003, we began our landscaping like any other family, but then I started finding items in the dirt that seemed to belong to the previous occupants of the land. We had bought the lot from people who had bought the lot from survivors of the 1991 Oakland Fire. Whenever I found something I would show my girls and then place them in a special place in the garden. Over time the collection grew until I decided to create a special shrine in memory of the victims of the fire using my favorite pieces. It sits on my kitchen counter to this day. The large pieces of melted asphalt from the hillside are now buried in the dirt which we dug out to create large, flat spaces for our yard. Also hidden there is an entire pickup truck bed frame and wheel assembly. It makes a hell of a structural support system! In any case, some may call me sentimental, but I like to think my shrine is meant as a reminder of our past. I always told my girls, if you don’t remember your past, then you’re bound to repeat it. A devastating fire is one event I am certain we all want to avoid.