Like a phoenix...

Roy Diffrient

FYI – Many of you will remember Richard Berry – he is the author of several astronomy and telescope making books, many magazine articles, inventor of the “Cookbook Cameras” for astrophotography, and former editor of Astronomy magazine.  He and his wife Eleanor live in Lyons, Oregon, or rather they did – they recently lost their home to the wildfires there.  That’s horrible of course, but he seems to be trying to make the best of it.  This is his account, forwarded from the SiTech Servo mailing list.


Begin forwarded message:

From: Richard Berry <rberry@...>
Date: September 23, 2020 at 1:18:09 PM EDT
Subject: [Sitechservo] Like a phoenix...

Hi all--

Our house, shop, and barn burned to the ground. Total loss. We ate
lunch today at the Gingerbread House, taking a break from combing
through the ash for anything, but there's really nothing left. The
fire was very hot: it melted aluminum wire, telescope mount castings,
and even caused Pyrex telescope mirrors to flow.
We got a Level 3 alert at 2:30 am and were out of the house by 4:15,
driving through unbreathable air and smoke. The fire did not go past
Hwy 226, apparently because the wind stopped blowing at 40-50 mph
around dawn, otherwise the fire might have run all the way to Stayton.
We got to the State Fair grounds and waited there until about 9 am
when they suggested we might go to breakfast. On the way to Denny's,
one of Eleanor's poetry friends called to offer the use of her
"mother-in-law" apartment with a separate driveway and entrance. We
accepted. Our neighbors sneaked past the police the next day and
reported that our house was gone.
I did the AAVSO webinar because, well, life goes on. We're in contact 
with the insurance agent. I tossed my computer (no peripherals) into 
the car along with external HDDs and my 35 mm film negatives dating
back to 1962, and all of my  digital materials came out with us on the
drives. My observatory, in the middle of our pasture, also survived,
as did our three alpacas, now safely living on a small ranch run by
I don't know whether we'll rebuild at the old location. Hwy 22 has
become so noisy and heavily trafficked that it's not pleasant living
beside it, and taking care of an 8-acre place had become a bit too
much for the two of us. We had been wondering how we could downsize
our art, books, telescopes, and did not know what to do with the stuff
we had accumulated. We are now fully downsized, though not quite as we
had envisioned. We feel a sense of freedom from the burden of stuff.
We can take this opportunity to re-invent ourselves again. 


PS: In the shop building where I keep my telescopes, I found the burned
husk of my SiTech controller alongside the partially melted Mathis M500
mount and remains of the 14-inch EdgeHD that I was going to place in a
second small observatory. The 20-inch Dob was gone, the mirror split into
five pieces and partially melted. My lens of my 6-inch f/15 refractor broke
into a hundred little jewels. There's a certain beauty found amid the loss.
PPS: My direct email is rberry@....

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