Monday, April 25, 2011

New Stuff

I heard a talk recently about problems associated with going through an event like the earthquake. It seems there are numerous personal issues that can arise in people's lives after such event. The speaker named a few, and there was not much that came up that shocked me, that information is everywhere available for us here in Christchurch. And many of my friends and I have talked about how theses issues have popped up in our selves and our families.

I'm very aware, as we go into distance days from the earthquake, the problems rebound on us. I see that refected in my little four year old, who is suddenly afraid of everything again. All part of that normail process, make progress, fall back alittle, hopefully to turn it around to going forward again.

Okay, I'll admit it, I know that one that bounces back on me occasionally. Easy to guess! High irritability. Small things can just get to me more than usual. Especially small people (and I'm not talking about toddlers!)

The one that did surprise me in this recent talk was envy. I guess people are struggling with others getting insurance payouts that mean new houses, new cars and new stuff. I haven't had much in the way of insurance pay-outs yet. I still don't know if they are going to let me build my house back at the old property. The promised date of information by the end of May is now looming, but I fear it will be a date that passes by with broken promises. So I don't have a new house for anyone to envy at the moment. But I do have a lot of new stuff.

There are some advantages to having lost possessions and replacing them. I quite like having some shiny new kitchen mixing bowls, crock-pot and toaster. Ric and I always wanted a king-size bed and we got it, and I love those new soft sheets! But the new pots and pans are already getting those dark marks at at the bottom, and the plastic handled cutlery we are using until we get a proper insurance payment should cause no one a moment of envy! I'd give up any of those things to have back some things I lost. (Well, could I please keep the bed and the sheets?)

If envy really is a problem, it's one I don't quiet get, not yet at least. Maybe one day in the distant future, IF I'm in a some wonderful new house, and still able to be in a spot as special as by the Avon River (if not there, after all), then maybe someone could have twinge of envy. But I'll show them of the two houses that I was in that were destroyed around me, and maybe they'll just get over it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Resurrection Day and Earthquakes.

Today is Easter, Resurrection Sunday. We've had two aftershock earthquakes (3.6 and 4.2) both close and shallow enough to give us a fine shake.

What do earthquakes and Resurrection have in common? Both occurred on that first Rescurrection day. When the women went to the tomb an earthquake occurred and the stone was rolled away. (Matthew 28) They found an empty tomb. Jesus was risen (He is risen indeed!) Death has been conquered and New Life has became an option for mankind.

Our earthquakes reveal no such wonder today. But they do give us a chance to trust the one who has the power of the resurrection! I may not be able to trust the ground under may feet, but I trust the Christ who conquered death.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


It was one of those strange days that happen now and then. Memories of the earthquake returned. This happens randomly, out of the blue. There is usually a tigger, and it doesn't even have to be an aftershock.

Today the kids and I were going to the mall. The teenagers each had a couple of things they wanted to buy and both needed haircuts. They helped me get all sorts of housey jobs done and we took off just after lunch, everyone in good moods, until we hit the road. Traffic. What a nightmare! I know that many places regularly have congested roads, but I hate to say it, as tough as we've been getting past the earthquake, most of us poor Christchurch residence just can't cope with this traffic thing. Not that there aren't some very polite people out there driving, but the others, stressed out and angry, are just so noticable.

Both the teenagers and I asked the same question in different ways as we drove. Is this the 'new normal' and if it is, is it going to last forever? How can we live like this?

We didn't make it to the mall. We put it in the too hard box and turned around. We wound up on the street where we lived in the Old, New House (the first renter). Driving down that road brought back alot of memories. And we all re-lived that day as we went over the cracks and bumps on the road. I retold them the story of Ric and I driving down that road as it flooded, and finding that it had lifted in places and we had to go up over the foot path to get on. They told me a few stories I hadn't heard.

They had driven from school with their eldest sister and brother-in-law while we tried to help a young mum and her son get home. I knew (and we laughed about it again) that their sister had been in a panic about the towering apartment buildings possibly coming down on them as they drove. I didn't know that they saw the side of a house cave in. Scary.

Memories aren't bad and returning to them can actually be good. In this case I found out something important about my children's experience. But even on my own, the remembering the earthquake can be good.

I remember the horror, but I also remember seeing Maddee in Ric's arms (he jumped the fence, I had to go around it!)when I arrived at her preschool. I remember the relief of Rosee's calls from down south as she made contact with the family because we couldn't get our phones to call out. I remember the feeling of standing with all my kids and my son-in-law and finally knowing that everyone was safe. I remember feeling that God was with us, and hoping and praying that He would give that comfort to those who had loved-ones still missing.

Life is complicated. It can be sunny, then cloud up and rain. It can be horrifing (going through an earthquake), then wonderful (hugging your children after an earthquake). I guess that's why remembering an earthquake with your kids while driving through the traffic can be such a marvelous time.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Taking The Earthquake With Me

I'm in Auckland. I was looking forward to getting away and always find Auckland a great place to visit. We have such good friends here, and it is big, different and usually warmer than Christchurch. This visit also means getting away from the stress of the earthquake. At least that's what I thought.

But I'm from Christchurch, and let's just face facts, we aren't getting away from the earthquake for years.

It started on the plane. The lady beside me was a tourist from Germany. She'd been in Canterbury during the quake and asked me if all was alright with my house. I'm a storyteller, she got the story, poor thing. I think she was very pleased to meet someone with my experiences, now she can take that story home with her.

In the car from the airport to where we were staying, it was part of the conversation, but even a bigger part of my thoughts. I drove through the city assessing the damage that would occur in Auckland if an earthquake happened. Silly me. But with all these houses on cliffsides....

Then we walked into a grocery store. There were two men in high viz vests. I was just about to say, "Poor guys, must have just come from the city. Oh wait, we aren't in Christchurch." And then I remember, every person who wears a high viz hasn't necessarily been through an earthquake.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Two Steps forward, then....

The water restrictions have been lifted, we no longer have to boil our water. A small step towards normality. 'The New Normal' is an expression I have come to hate. I like the old fashion normal, like turning on a tap to brush my teeth or fill my kettle.

I love these movements towards life becoming what it once was. A big one for me today was a return to doing my step exercises. Richard bought me a new step a couple of weeks ago and it has been sitting in the closet of this new house. Not only was I having trouble getting the energy but couldn't seem to get the time.

This morning Richard set the step up, and put it in the living room as he left for work. I knew what that meant, no more excuses, I needed to get back to it. The earthquake is done. Routines must be re-established. We are moving on. I turned on my music and started stepping up. It was brutal. I thought it would kill me. In fifteen minutes I was stumbling more than stepping, but at least I'm back at it, and other than the pain (which is still with me tonight), it's good to have started again.

We've gone past six weeks from the earthquake. This has come up in conversations a number of times this week. Six weeks just another little marker. For some it means we are getting past the initial difficulties and moving into a clearer recovery stage. Others say it is when the grief really settles in, someone else told me it was when the people who coped, stopped coping, and had their meltdown. I guess these people are all talking about their experience. Measuring progress, or digression, as the case may be.

What surprises me most right now is that as I measure my progress, I'm astounded by how easy it is for me to fall back. I was told today that there is another earthquake coming. This person feels he has inside knowledge from academics. I realised after he had gone on his way, that I had hadn't thought about having another earthquake in quite awhile. Not thinking or worrying about earthquakes was marker of normality that I hadn't noticed, until it was gone. It was a marker that was dashed away in a momentary conversation standing in mall.

As I walked away, I'm sure I stumbled. It was like falling off my step.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Good News Helps

I was really pleased with the news this evening. The target dates for establishing a temporary business and shopping area by the end October made me very happy. Our mayor seems to understand the people of this city love their CBD and by October 29, he hopes that we will be able to enjoy shopping and eating in the central city.

I'm so excited. This gives us something to look forward to as winter is setting in, and our sewage system remains of the brink of overload,our sink holes fill with rain and so many of our houses have cracks to let the cold in. We have spring to look forward to, the Cup Day and a chance to wander about our city again. Okay, so it will be in temporary buildings, and the ambiance of our heritage city will be changed. But I'm betting that we will replace all that with a new excitement of what the future will hold.

Most of our news has been rather dark of late. Worries about insurance companies not being able to meet their obligations, interviews with business people who are upset, closing down, or going elsewhere, have left me (and others I think) with a sense of despair. I know the news loves a good misery story, they sell more papers with them.

One of my favorite books, Angela's Ashes, starts out talking about Frank's miserable childhood. It had to be a miserable childhood, he writes, otherwise it wouldn't be worth writing about. I think that is true. I've lived such an interesting life and I thought I should be able to write a story about my childhood. I couldn't. It was just too happy. (I blame my parents for that!)

I guess that is the take the news reporters so often go with, unless it makes the reader miserable, its not worth the ink. But I want the news people to understand something, in Christchurch right now, we want good news. It sells.

And by the way, lift your glass of coke to the Coca Cola Bottling Company. They have just announced that they will be building a new bottling company here. Now there's some more good news. So I plan on having a coke or two in the city in October. Want to join me there?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Blondes and Earthquakes and Mushy Brains.

There might be one good thing about an earthquake. I can blame a whole slew of my mistakes on it. Okay, so I'm not sure if what is going on in my head is the earthquake or just being blonde, or maybe it is being fifty. I can't remember anything, people's names, telephone numbers, where I just put my keys, everything disappears. My mind has gone to mush. I drive, arrive at my destination and don't remember how I got there.

Of course, I have to acknowledge, I'm still blonde. So did you hear about the blonde farmer who tried to start a new business after the earthquake? He thought his cows were now going to produce 'milkshakes'!

I'm not alone in experiencing this fuzzy, mushy brain. A friend came over and she is having the same problem. And no, she is not blonde, her hair is dark. I didn't even see much grey in it, but that could be because she's just had it done. Not having blonde hair isn't helping her, she feels in a muddle most of the time right now too. But we agreed, it is all the fault of the earthquake.

I'm trying to get my thinking back, but lack of sleep and nagging worries get a real hold on me. As a Christian, it is a relief when I finally let it go. I don't need to worry about the future, I only need to trust that God is in control. I don't need to be upset when life is difficult, the only expectation God has, is that I walk faithfully, serving others as I go. And when I make those mistakes, I just have to remember, God created me a blonde, so it must be okay!

But there must be something good about being blonde during an earthquake event. I know what is its.... So did you hear the one about the women who were all to be executed? Several dozen brunette, redhead, and blonde women were facing execution via firing squad. The firing squad took the brunettes first, and the leader said "Ready, aim... " at which point one brunette yelled "Earthquake!!!".

The firing squad looked around anxiously and while they were trying to figure out whether there was an earthquake or not, the brunette women all took off and escaped.

Undaunted, the firing squad took the redheads next, and the leader again said "Ready, aim... " at which point one of the redheads yelled "Tornado!!!".

The firing squad looked around anxiously and while they were trying to figure out which direction the tornado was coming from, the redhead women all took off and escaped.

The firing squad took the blonde women last, and by now the blondes had it all figured out; when the right time came all they needed to do was yell out the name of some natural disaster. So when the firing squad leader said "Ready, aim... ", the blonde girls all yelled "Fire!!!".

Friday, April 1, 2011

Living In Christchurch.

There is an email being past around here these days entitled "You Know You Live in Christchurch When...". I love it, it really made me laugh. I am going to copy my favourites from it and add a few of my own. Here we go.

Christchurch Living means.....

1. You are in a nice eating establishment and excuse yourself to go to the powder room, only to find yourself in a portaloo.

2. All your pictures and decorations are on the floor.

3. You prefer to sit under the dining table instead of around it.

4. Dressing up to go to the city means wearing a hi-viz vest, hard hat and boots.

5. You greet friends and acquaintances with the words, "Do you need a place to have a shower?"

6. You've read and understand the terms and conditions of your House and Contents Insurance.

7. When your kids ask, 'Where's my...?" You can easily answer-- 'It's on the floor."

8. The words 'geotech' and 'liquefaction' are part of your everyday conversation.

9. Your toddler makes guesses at the size of aftershocks.

10. You think it is normal to see soldiers standing at the corner of the streets.

11. You roll your eyes and think 'big deal'when breaking news says there was a 4.9 earthquake in Wellington.

12. You drive by corners and can't remember what used to be there.

13. You jump every time a truck goes by and and windows of the house rattle.

14. You walk through the park, looking up at the trees, not to see the birds, but to make sure there is nothing around that can fall on you.

15. The old saying 'built like a brick house'has completely changed its meaning!