Friday, March 11, 2011

Normal Day in Christchurch

I know in every city, everyone's normality is different. What is normal for Christchurch people now? At the moment I think we are acutely aware of how different normal is for people living in the same city.
We live on the south western, good side of the city who have power and water. This is our new normal, but again it is something that is constantly changing.
Currently we don't have the wakeup alarm on because we don't have set places to be at the moment. Of course the little guys get us up at a regular time anyway.
We go to the toilet with the floor crack the length of the room. We only flush when necessary and know even then, that it will be floating down the river past our friend's house at some time in the near future. For showers, the kids share with us and they are as fast as possible - no thinking time.
When the kettle boils we take the lid off and let it boil for three minutes to make sure any bugs are killed. We check the supply of boiled water and put on another stock pot if needed.
After breakfast, we brush our teeth using a cup of boiled water that sits in the bathroom.
We do a minimal amount of washing, to not overload the wastewater system. When will I be able to clear the backlog of less important washing? Perhaps another trip to a friend not on Christchurch's water and sewage systems.
Then it is time for homeschooling. Next week Lucy's school starts back but it is never going back to its third floor central city location. In the future they will build a new school close to the city but only one story. At the moment they are in beautiful borrowed premises down the road from us. Karl's current work is highly varied, he may need to spend several hours working via the internet or he made need to be somewhere to do things. Each day it is different and work is no longer set hours but any time. In between things, I keep our webshop ticking over, organising orders and if I have to go out somewhere, I try to leave plenty of time. The traffic is terrible with much of the central city still shut off. Getting across, even the western side of the city, can take much longer than it used to.
Conversations with other people from Christchurch are different. Now there is always the question - "Are you okay, how is your house?" Everyone is very aware of the losses others have suffered, so the answer is generally.
"We're fine, the house is okay. Well it has cracks but we can live in it." Being able to live in your house, is now something that is great. It doesn't matter about its appearance, that it maybe cracked or the floor dips and rises - it keeps off the rain and in the warmth and that is enough. Sometimes the answer is;
"It is munted, we have four bags of belongings and that is all."
How do you respond to that?
All through the day at any time there may be an aftershock. They come in all shapes. Sometimes they are more noise than shake, sometimes they are all shake and no noise. I asked this evening how you would describe the noise. Tristan reckons it was like moving your tongue over your teeth rapidly, Karl suggested thunder, Lucy said like the wind pulling at your house. I describe it as a low rumble, like a truck going past but more substantial. Sometimes they are small and sometimes they cause us all to pause and wait, to see if it will stop or not. I am not terrified of them anymore, though at night they still get the heart pumping. The land feels a lot looser than before. It seems to move more and take awhile to stop even with the smaller aftershocks.
It is tiring feeling them, waking up to them and not feeling them, sub consciously waiting for the next one. The amount we get in a day varies. We might have one or two larger ones. Yesterday I didn't feel any all day but then we had a couple of over four magnitude quakes in the evening. These meant the house creaked and rocked but nothing fell over. Even as I type this we just had one, that sent Tristan scurrying for a hug because he was scared. It was only a 3.3 but centred just a few blocks away. Nothing fell down.
I find myself always shutting the pantry and cupboard doors, to stop things falling out. I push things back from the edges of furniture. Bottles are put on the floor in the pantry or further back. Plastic containers are at the front. Some items are still sitting in a box, not yet put back up, while we wait for the aftershocks to die down.
This is our current normal.

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5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.