Monday, April 5, 2010


Coyote Base was rocking and rolling on Easter afternoon! It's all daughter Marja's fault. She had said she hoped to experience an earthquake while she was living in Southern California. In the category of "be careful what you wish for" she was pretty freaked out by the actual event. She's now covering her proverbials by saying she only wished for a little one, not THE big one. Thank heavens, while this was a 7.2 magnitude quake, it was not THE big one.

Earthquakes are scary, dangerous, and destructive. I spent my girlhood in the San Gabriel valley, living in a two-story house. I slept in a four poster bed. When the "Tehachapi Earthquake" hit on July 21, 1952 at 4:30 in the morning, I vividly remember riding my bed from wall to wall, and hanging on for dear life, while my mother ran up and down the hall praying in a very loud voice. (I was 13) We teased her about it for years, but she never thought it was as funny as my brother, Rob, and I did. My Dad slept through the whole thing. She said her worry was the two brick chimney stacks on each end of the house. She was afraid they would tumble down and kill my brother in his room and my Dad snoring away on the other side of the house.

Yesterday's Easter afternoon quake hit about three-thirty. I first noticed my chair was moving back and forth. Ron announced that we were having an earthquake. Marja came flying out of her office to join us. We went into the back yard. (You are supposed to stand in a door-way to avoid any falling debris.) The dogs began barking as the pool water sloshed back and forth. Some of it splashed right out onto the deck. That was the most amazing part of the whole thing, watching a back yard tsunami happen right before your eyes.

Kodai, our boy dog, was the second most freaked out event participant. He insisted on sitting solidly in the middle of the back yard for a long time afterward. It was as if he didn't want to stand up and experience the scary sensation of involuntary movement again. His sister, Lulubelle, just wanted to play ball. That's her first choice of ways to spend her every waking moment. She runs like the wind, so maybe if you are moving fast enough, you don't really feel earthquakes like the rest of us.

Coyote Base is about 3 years old, so it would have been built in strict compliance with all the necessary codes for this part of earthquake country. That's a good thing. It is amazing to realize that our Easter earthquake was bigger than the one in Haiti. This one shook 20 million people in three states and Mexico, but it happened in an area where few people live. That was the huge difference.

I volunteered in the Museum Store at the President Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace on Easter Monday. Just about everyone wanted to talk about the earthquake, and everyone said they were so relieved when the shaking stopped. Californians hear so much about the "Big One" that experts say is inevitable. When it is only a 7.2, gratitude reigns. One geologist called it a "near miss." Hope Marja is now satisfied and will stop the wishing.

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