I slept for three hours. Then an aftershock woke me (just 3.4 but as it's only a few km away and about 5km deep it rocks the house) and I couldn't get back to sleep. After two hours I crept out past keieeeye
in search of my iPod and found the other sister reading the internets. I indulged in a brief weepy moment -- only brief because my eyelids are dry enough right now and don't need the extra irritation....
We chatted for a while about earthquakes and suchlike. I mentioned the supreme unlikelihood of me writing my post-apocalyptic story about the sky falling any time in the next few months/years. She agreed: "Yeah, the sky's already fallen and we didn't enjoy it that much." So, sorry to those who liked the idea -- and I may even get back to it one day -- but you'll have to make do with the live-blog version instead.
Then we got to talking about all the sand and how it was like the beach and so we should make sandcastles. So then, since neither of us was getting any sleep anyway, we went out and made sandcastles in a nearby street. Photos will follow in due course.
We did 3 by about 6am, at which point I left her to it and went with Mum to her workplace - she had catchup work to do and I wanted to do some shopping. While there I dozed briefly, spent an hour washing scuzzy old bottles to fill with 21 litres of the clean water they had there, and indulged in tooth-brushing, toilet flushing, and using plenty of water to wash my hands.
Shopping was catfood and groceries, because currently the nearest open food outlet I know of to my place is an ad hoc food bank; and an extra bucket and dust masks (the liquified sand that erupted and turned our roads into mud has slowly been drying) and an awesome windup torch which has a connection cable to recharge your cellphone. It would be technologically possible to be cooler, but I think not at that price. Also I went to 4seasons in the hopes of finding an electric jug (mine broke on Tuesday) - in fact they tend more towards barbecues and spas but a lovely woman there said, "I'll give you ours from the back, we never use it." I teared up rather a bit.
Came home where the sister had continued making sandcastles, and she reported that people in that street had been delighted with them, giving her hot chocolate and cake and calling her "the Sandcastle Girl". :-)
Then Mum dropped me off home (traffic being better than Tuesday and the bridge having had some stopgap repairs on Wednesday or Thursday. I could have walked - startlingly, despite four hours' walking yesterday I'm not that stiff today; either the warm-down stretches helped or I was right that I've got much better endurance for walking than cycling - but couldn't have carried the shopping as well as my go-bags) and we saw a train on the way - first train through, I think: it looked like it was carrying crushed rock for road repairs or similar.
At home I basically crashed. That is, I wandered around doing a few things very vaguely, including making sandwiches for lunch, but the best bit was lying down for a nap. Woke up very fuzzy moments before Dad arrived to have a look at my cracks and reassure me the place isn't going to fall down. Not all of it, anyway; obviously the old chimney will but that's equally obviously going to fall down into the driveway not into my bedroom. It would still be advantageous to control its fall so I'll call a builder at some point when I'm up to it. The old chimney in the living room also needs something done but not so urgently. And all the ominous cracks in ceilings and above doors are just surface plaster (as opposed to surface paint last time). We also confirmed that my (heavy old CRT) TV is dead, though the DVD/hard drive machine and the Freeview decoder both seemed okay - even a front panel broken off one just clipped back on.
Then, while Dad was still there, a policeman came to the door! One of the Aussie blokes on loan to us, and as advertised he had no gun. They're doing the rounds of all the neighbourhoods checking everyone's okay, which is a tremendous morale boost a) to know it's happening and b) to receive in person. Also plus and too, he asked if I had water, and I said I hadn't actually checked today, and he said the neighbours over the road said they had it, and I turned on a tap and water came out! Still needs boiling, of course. And since I've had a bit of liquefaction, recommendations are that I don't shower; and flushing of toilets is to be done sparingly and with a nose out in case problems pop up where they oughtn't. But water, here! In my very own property! There was no timeframe on this and I'd been expecting months so was starting to consider the (to me most unhappy) possibility of cutting my hair short so I could keep it clean; now I'll... probably have to wash it in a bucket in the garden to spare the drains, but still!
--Which is part of why I didn't post this earlier. The fact that I have power and water makes it sound like the situation's getting all better, and it does make my
situation incredibly better, don't think I'm not grateful and astounded at (and a little guilty about) my luck. But it almost highlights and brings home the fact that the
situation is still pretty damn sucky. Overhead power lines are being put up at a great pace, but almost a fifth of the city still has no power and some won't get it for weeks. About a third have no running water. About a half have no sewerage. True official quote: "Residents can now place toilet waste in their rubbish bins as long as it's wrapped in paper or plastic." And 100,000 tonnes of silt to be removed, and the munted roads and bridges, and damaged properties, and the CBD and the morgue and...
And my workplace isn't opening for at least two weeks and even when it does I don't know how I'll get there. (There are no bus services. At all. Yesterday I saw a guy waiting at a bus stop and ended up asking if he was waiting for a friend - it was in fact for a bus, but a special one leaving town. All the buses I've seen evidence of, since that first terrible news of the two crushed, have been ferrying rescue workers or student volunteers or people leaving town.) And I have to organise a builder and a gas person and catch up with my painter and put a new TV on my list for someday when I care(*) and I haven't even put in my insurance/EQC claim yet or even taken all the photos I need to. (*)But actually this may be semi-high priority: from experience, blobbing with videos is just what I need, and much of my DVD collection is the wrong region for my laptop.
And... when I had no water I had my head wrapped around all the steps I needed to take to survive without water. Suddenly finding I have water after all is actually ridiculously disconcerting. Not that I'm complaining. Just. I don't have the energy to adjust my life even to good news.
Highly incoherent. <thinks hard>
Here, here's the thing: If someone comments that it's wonderful that I've got all this, I'll immediately want to wail that no, it's not wonderful, because everything's still an utter shambles. But if someone comments that it's terrible that everything's a shambles, I'll immediately want to insist that no, things are going pretty damn wonderfully considering the circumstances.
I always have these two reactions opposed, but right now in particular I'm rather highly emotional about them both. So I was avoiding the risk of getting either kind of comment by just not posting.
However! I now have some news which is unequivocally wonderful! See, part of the reason I came back was that I've hardly been here in four days and have only once seen indirect evidence of Boots; and why would she risk coming into the scary house if even I've fled it? So I called her name and rattled her food at various points throughout the day; and I sat outside in the sun watching Criminal Minds on my laptop at the end of a long extension cord; but the thing I think worked in the end was turning on my bedroom light this evening. Because very soon after, I heard the catflap flapping and Boots meeping and I went and hugged her and she came and brushed herself against me, the most excited I've ever seen her ever. So so so happy.
(Now just to try this sleep thing again...)