The smiles are becoming more forced, tempers and stress that have been kept in check for so many months, are starting to flare.
It's cold, it's been grey and then of course we had the big shakes of June 13th and the rumbly unexpected night of June 21st. This round there was no time afterwards to recover - life just went on as before. Lucy was off for a couple of days following June 13th while the school was checked but everything else continued as normal. So we keep trying to live normal lives while coping on less sleep and the ups and downs of the adrenaline rushes from those larger aftershocks.
This past week I have just been so tired and that makes everything seem much worse. At least the week before with the kids we were able to do baking for the volunteer liquefaction movers and you felt you were helping and that felt good. Last Monday I slept badly and didn't even know it was because of some middle sized aftershocks through the night. They were enough to disturb my sleep but not enough for me to wake their shaking. But we all keep struggling on. Little aftershocks are now completely ignored - in a hope they will go away, if not even acknowledged.
At school the other day, a little girl was talking about the volcano ash and got confused whether the volcano was in Christchurch or Chile. All the adults present - chuckled but not because a volcano Christchurch was a crazy thought but because we all turned to each other and said, "I hope not!" The earth's ability to do anything is now a possibility we consider.
In the weekend we found some bricks that you can push backwards and forwards against the house. The mortar has cracked right through across one level. Luckily a bit of wood panelling above the door is keeping them in their place. Sometimes with all the little broken bits in our house. I want to give up and issue an ultimatum to the earth. "If you do a big shake again, that's it! We are leaving!"
But the earth doesn't care and I know it is not true.
If another large aftershock comes we will do what we did in June. Text each other and check we are okay. Gather the kids, if they are not with us. Go home. Check what amenities we have this time and be extremely thankful if by good fortune we retain power and water. Then get on with life as best we can.
And when it gets too much, you can't help but stop and think how lucky we are. We are in the green residential zone. We don't have liquefaction issues. We are in New Zealand, where the government is prepared to help. We still have much compared to many even in New Zealand and definitely compared to many across the world.
A good few nights of decent sleep helps too. We haven't had any major aftershocks for awhile now. We are going days without feeling anything. The aftershocks diminished to a low level much quicker after February than September and after June, they became small even faster.
In my head there are two thoughts that keep going around. One says - it is too quiet now, the earth is building up pressure, another larger one is coming. The other is - June was the finale and that is it - no more big shaking. It could be either so we plod on, not planning too far into the future, getting through the days and waiting to see what the earth will do.