Monday, January 16, 2012

Lego man vs the weeble wobble - Christchurch aftershock headlines vs real life

We went away for a week in early January. I was checking the Stuff website most days first thing in the morning, to see if Christchurch was okay. I just wanted to know it was still there.
While we were away there were headlines about Christchurch suffering more shakes. There were about three 4.8s, a couple of 5s, a 5.1 and a 5.5 as well as all the usual littlies that you don't really feel. The 5.5, surely would mean the earthquake art had rearranged itself - we had set it up again after the larger shocks on 23rd December. I wondered what else had fallen over.
We got home and very few things had fallen. Even the little canvas picture that usually falls off in anything over a five was still sitting merrily on its little shelf.
This was the earthquake art.
Before we went on holiday
After all the shakes while we
were away

Yes, that was all, one little lego guy took a tumble across the desk. The weeble wobble was still sitting merrily on its rickety tower.
That is the weird thing with news articles, of course they have to tell the worst but it doesn't really tell you what it is like, which you think it should.
These current aftershocks were now out further east. We were the furtherest we had ever been from all the shaking. So at our place, it would appear things were pretty good. I didn't realise until this whole sequence started back in Sept 2010, how unique is everyone's perspective, even when a natural disaster hits an area. The shakes feel different everywhere. I have heard quite afew people be reassured once they have felt a shake in a new location - it gives a reference point to know how that building behaves. It helps you know how to react.
So the short articles of widely felt aftershocks told me very little about my house and if you ask someone who is there, the reply is standard and it is one, I say all the time too. "It's fine. They are no big deal." But I guess if you are the lego man - it does feel quite a big deal.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year

Like so many in Christchurch my thoughts at this New Year are different from the start of 2011. My friend sums it up so well on her blog here.
Last year we were very glad to see the end of 2010. With its September quake and for us other stresses and strains, we couldn't imagine a tougher year. We were so keen for 2011 to start.
2011 made 2010 seem like the appetiser, (I can only hope that means 2012 is the dessert).
Everyone is at different spots in their quake experience. Some of my friends have moved house and moved on. They have already started new lives, post quakes. The start of our 2012 looks like it is going to be messy with floor coverings all being lifted to check the extent of our damage and moving out a few months later to fix everything once a complete picture of the damage has been worked out.
All this makes me feel a little tired before we have even started.
And the quakes seem to be continuing. I think they are now saying we are having the pleasure of a 1 in 10,000 year event. Lucky us!
But despite that, we went camping after Christmas and it was stunning. We had the area mostly to ourselves. We went to sleep and woke up to bird calls. We spent a morning on a beach with only a seal for company and the odd kayaker and boatie. I felt lucky to live on these shaky islands because regardless of natural disasters, they are hard to beat.
Our malls and our airport may have shut temporarily on the 23 December but it was temporary and it was proactive. The buildings weren't falling down, they were shut for them to be checked carefully by engineers and then reopened if safe. The majority of the houses keep standing through all the thousands of shakes.
There are some things that are harder to control - like the body. I am still reacting to rumbling noises, even if not in Canterbury, before my brain can catch up and tell my body it is okay and there is no need to be on edge. This past year has definitely given me a better understanding of my body and other people.
The story in this radiolab podcast at 9 minutes 20, by Steven Johnson explains why my body reacts as it does to sounds that might be quakes. I understood this podcast because I feel this all the time at the moment.
There was another story in a podcast from the Moth in which Elif Shafak describes the response of her neighbours after they had a big quake in Turkey. I was listening to this and I knew the ending before she gave it. I knew how humans acted after such events.
It may have been a really crappy year but I learnt a lot. I don't know what will happen in 2012 but I think we are ready to roll with whatever is thrown at us and support each other.
It seems strange to have found some sort of inner peace in the most disturbing of years.

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.