zeborah: I believe in safe, sane, and consensual Christianity. (credo)
because when I arrived for the Christmas Eve service there was a sign saying "Welcome: please use alternate entrance" and the alternate entrance led to the back lawn where several rows of chairs were set up. Apparently the cracks in the (brick) church have widened enough that they want to get an assessment before risking having the congregation in there, especially as the cracks are in the side where the emergency exits are located. They'd managed to get the sound system in position just inside the ranch sliders of the lounge, with the piano and lectern and Advent candles, but the sun was far too bright to allow for a projector even if that system was mobile.

We had to add another row chairs as people kept arriving. (Some brought picnic blankets but we didn't have to resort to that.) It did cool a little as the evening progressed and clouds drifted across the sky, but not badly.

Sound didn't carry very well -- we kept singing either faster or slower than the piano, which at one point got so bad our minister was cracking up -- but it was surprising effective being outside with the rustle of the wind in the trees: it fit with the shepherds and the straw in the manger much better than a brick building does. It reminded me of the New Zealand carol Te Harinui, "The people gathered round upon the grassy ground to hear the preacher say 'I bring to you today Te Harinui, glad tidings of great joy.'"
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Another day, another earthquake swarm. I was trying on a tshirt in a small shop so was half naked as I grasped the hook on the wall just in case. Fortunately I didn't need to actually put any weight on it because I don't think it was designed as a safety rail. Anyway, so I bought the tshirt (phones were down but EFTPOS stayed up) and went back to my motel to sit with Twitter while Boots huddled under the couch.

Then I wandered down the road to see what traffic was like -- no gridlocks evident in my area, at least as much as I could see before we got a jolt so big I did a 180 and went back to sit with Twitter. A socially decent period of time after I heard the phones were working again, I texted my contractors to see if I should plan to stay at the motel another night. They phoned back and said they'd stayed after the quake long enough to make the place basically habitable for me. Then, having families, they scarpered; but I'm pretty impressed they hung around at all, they've been pretty fantastic. So they'll have to come back after Christmas to finish up and fix some of the damage they caused in the rush to leave, but they were going to have to come back anyway due to supply bottlenecks and other events putting them a week behind schedule. My house is therefore rather a mess, but all the utilities work (apparently we don't even need to boil water this time) and it's habitable.

Mum brought me and Boots home, and Boots promptly disappeared under the house. I located the router and hooked the wireless back up and have since been unpacking. First thing to go into its rightful place was the go-bag, by the door.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
While my house is nominally being fixed (they were meant to start on the 28th; they actually started late on the 30th and did a bit more on the 1st and nothing on the 2nd; I can tell these things with my super powers of reading the sign-in sheet) Boots and I have moved into a motel.

I think Boots is actually more or less settled, though it took some time. She spent the first 30 hours hiding under furniture - no food, no water, no litterbox. Then she spent an evening hugging my ankle, and then she spent all frickin' night scritching things and jumping on things and jumping off things (onto my nose) and banging things and trying to open things and generally preventing me from getting more than an hour's sleep at a time. (The asthma attack at 4am didn't help. I ended up going outside and sitting in a deck chair which turned out to have rain in it, and then I slept on the couch for the last hour of the night, and then I went to work and blinked blearily at everyone.)

For a few more days after that she spent the day (while I was out) under the bed and then crept out to hug my ankle when I got back, and then spent the night under the bed again. Nibbling a very little food here and there. But now she's eating fairly reasonably for an outdoors cat being kept indoors and is playing a bit more normally and sleeping on the bed next to my ankles as per usual.

It's weird living out of a motel in my own city, but it's all fine: I've got everything I need (including wifi and the run of the laundry) and it's comfortably lived in (so not intimidating the way I find hotels). I'll still of course be glad to go home. The date set for that is the 22nd December, and I'm determined to believe them despite all evidence to the contrary. They sound like they're determined to give excellent customer service, and I've heard from other people who've had repairs start slow but finish on time, so it's not impossible.

The other day, a friend asked where I was and when I told them they said, "Oh, that's good, there's lots of shops there." It's more that there were lots of shops there, I pointed out. Since the quakes, the fruit-and-vege shop, the two bakeries, and the supermarket (among others) are all deaded, which as far as the necessities of life go leaves the butcher, the petrol station, and a 2nd hand bookshop. I can shop at a mall on the way home instead, but.... But as I stay longer I notice there's more than I thought, because one of the bakeries is operating out of a shipping container, and the fruit-and-vege place is operating out of a tent.

Walking down the road from the motel towards my busstop in the morning, I can see straight down to a demolition crane in the CBD. I have feelings about this but they're fairly vague and unformed. They're oddly different from the feelings I feel on my normal bus route where I see the crane pulling apart the Catholic Cathedral and the crane taking the top off the Hotel Grand Chancellor and various bulldozers painting the town pink with brickdust. I think it's because it takes time for the bus to get me that far, but here I leave my motel at 7:15 in the morning and there it is.

I seem to have started writing my When the Sky Fell story again. May or may not get much further this time around, though today I reached the Ode to the Radio scene which I've never got to before. It aches to write, and there came a point this evening doing research where I had to stop reading mid-sentence. Someone was talking about the "glassy, shell-shocked look" people had after February and. I remember that, when I was walking along Bealey Ave on the 25th February; I mentioned it in a blogpost at the time, but. Words just don't. It's like looking into a black hole where a person should be.

--However, the other thing that happened on the 25th February was my friends' son was born, and yesterday when I went to visit (as I do most weeks) he crawled! Towards me! Seeing him once a week is fantastic, I get to skip the nappies and most of the teething and "I'm hungry but won't eat, tired but won't sleep" screaming fits, while still getting all the fun of playing with him and the excitement of watching him grow up. I heartily recommend being an honorary auntie.
zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
Behold, I have avoided housework by creating this housework icon! (For LJ people: )

I'm meant to be emptying all my water containers and refilling with five drops of bleach per litre of water. My intention is for this to be an annual thing every Show Day (which was last Friday, and is an easily memorable date on which I theoretically have time for an annual chore).

I'm also meant to be packing all my books and sundry other goods so that earthquake repairs can be done on my house starting November 28th. Repairs consist of:
  • replacing a window;
  • straightening and bracing a header tank;
  • a bit of repiling;
  • taking down the living room chimney and rebuilding it to the same look;
  • putting weatherboards up in place of the current plywood-and-polyfiller where an external chimney used to be;
  • fixing cracks in the foundation (non-structural);
  • rejibbing and plastering a bunch of ceilings;
  • repapering and painting a bunch of walls;
  • and making sure all the doors and cupboards open smoothly again and the wardrobe has straight rather than curved walls.
  • Oh, and rebuilding the garage wall so you can't push parts of it.
I did make a start on boxing up books on Sunday morning, so that's something. I need more boxes, but may be able to borrow some from work. (We've been moving a bazillion books around and have lots of boxes, so as long as they're not needed again before New Year it should be fine.)

I'll also have to pack suitcases full of stuff to live off for a few weeks while repairs occur. This'll be more of a nuisance, but the really hard part will be Boots. The three choices are:

a) leave her behind (returning every day to feed her) - which would waste time, make her lonely, and anyway the noise and excess people doing the repairs would stress her out;

b) take her to a cattery, which I'm pretty sure she'd hate and also my insurance wouldn't cover; or

c) take her with me to whatever short-term rental or motel I get(1), which will require keeping her indoors to be sure she doesn't flee and get lost, which she'll detest. She understands the concept of litterboxes, but neither of us really likes them. But this is still the best solution so we'll have to cope.

(1) I've got a lead on a possible short-term rental, otherwise I've got a couple of other ideas too.

In any case, I got packing anxiety dreams just packing for a few days at conference, so I expect much REM fun over the next couple of weeks/months.

---

In other news, have spent the last couple of weeks doing strategic planning for my brain, since I had a day where I got too much good news at once and it made my head go all flaily. (To be fair to my head, much of the good news requires me to do a bunch of work in tight deadlines which are getting ever closer; plus stress lingers from various other things.) My brain now feels much more strategically organised, although the operational plan may take a bit more work. What'd be handy would be if I could task some clones to set up action groups and report back once their projects have been completed.
zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
When I was in the Netherlands... wow, over five, six years ago now? I got a gorgeous red skirt, which has ever since been my favourite, but has unfortunately suffered fading and much fraying of the hem and embroidery. During the snowdays this year, when I was snowed in with my friend on the other side of town, I passed the time taking the hem up (it's still ankle-length; it's a wonderfully long skirt, and it took time because it's a wonderfully full skirt), but it's been sitting around for the last couple of months waiting for me to get the dye. I finally got that on Wednesday on the way to meeting undisclosed people for coffee (about something that... may come to something, I'm not certain) and have just followed all the instructions for dying the skirt red again.

Now just to wait for it to dry. I'm not sure if it's a bit more cherry red than when I bought it or if it had just faded that much but I'm pretty certain it's going to look fantastic either way.

Must be time for an earthquake update:
  • at work they're knocking down the buildings on either side of the building I worked in. We should be able to move back in early next year. Current plan is to then in another year's time cram us into the main library and randomly give the space away to other departments, which makes me furious, but I'm resigned to being made furious by decisions there. (They're hurting financially due to earthquake costs and lost revenue from students going elsewhere; but I'm convinced many of the proposed decisions are false economies.) Plus a key person has recently resigned so who knows?
  • the cordons around town have shrunk a bit more and there's a new bus exchange. (Since February, there've been two bus exchanges which each consisted of a bus parked on the side of the road for shelter and some portaloos. They were great, but y'know?) It consists of driveways, electronic signage, outdoor seating, and some prefabs with toilets and indoor seating, and it looks fantastic. It abuts demolition sites and cordons. At night everything beyond it is pitch black. In the day, you can see machines pouring asphalt on a space that used to be something, and beyond that the hole in the wall of an upper floor of the pre-February bus exchange building; and the bus coming in goes past the demolition of the Salvation Army outlet store that yesterday was merely abandoned and unhappy, and the the bus going out comes past the vertical blinds fluttering in the broken windows of the City Council building.
  • reservoirs and other components of the water system are still so damaged we're already being given summer water restrictions (which many years we never need, but if we did it'd be at least January before they started) - no unattended outdoor watering, and handheld watering only on three days a week (Tues/Thurs/Sat for even-numbered houses, Wed/Fri/Sun for odd-numbered, Monday entirely banned).
  • apparently City Mall is opening soon (this weekend? or Show Weekend, which is in two weeks?) in box containers. (There are already box container shops operating in scattered locations, eg a dairy aka corner store which has recently sprouted a "Coffee coming soon" sign.) The newspaper claims that some place in the UK is threatening to sue for us stealing their idea, which outraged me until I remembered that the business of newspapers is to recount the truth in such a way as to mislead people into being outraged enough to buy the newspaper, and I'm not sufficiently interested to investigate what's actually going on in this case (quite possibly all they said was "Please don't use our brand name"). They're getting pwned on their Facebook page in either case.
  • the public libraries that had been still closed - eg space taken over for council work and such - have been slowly reopening; and there's a new small one on the edge of town; and my local relocated one is opening for another hour in the day which'll make it possible for me to get there during the week. Also the local mall continues to open new shops.
  • CEISMIC has launched - a portal for earthquake stories and other information about the events.
  • my choir's singing a tribute song which is gorgeous music but truly appallingly sappy-wappy words, I cannot express.
  • state of the Zeborah: I don't like sirens from emergency response vehicles. I especially don't like sirens from more than one emergency response vehicle at a time. I'm mostly okay with helicopters, though sometimes they're disconcerting (this one for instance; must be the fourth time it's passed). I'm also mostly okay with aftershocks, as much as one can be of course, but unidentified rumbles hold my attention until I've identified exactly what they are even if I know that whatever it was it wasn't an earthquake. In an unfamiliar place I'll often (but not always) do a quick "If there was a big earthquake right now I would..." spotcheck; sometimes I'll then get a wee "There could be a big earthquake right now" gutkick, but a breath or two fixes that, whereas sirens require more breathing and often blinking too. I empathise more closely, tear up more easily, with stories of disaster or personal loss or communities coming together. In other words, all perfectly normal and of no concern.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Apparently aftershocks may continue for decades (though obviously decreasing in average size and average frequency). I distinctly remember, nearly a year ago, scientists saying they'd probably stop after some weeks. Clearly they were/are talking about different magnitudes. Possibly they wanted to break it to us slowly.

I gather there are people planning to commemorate the year tonight/tomorrow morning with a bottle of cheer at 4:35am. I'm hoping I'll be allowed to commemorate by sleeping at 4:35am, but we'll see.

The other commemoration I plan is being part of the large combined choir singing Fauré's Requiem (and a few lesser things: national anthem, Hallelujah chorus, and Jerusalem[*]) at Christchurch Sings tomorrow night. It's going to be pretty fantastic, primarily because Fauré's Requiem is one of the most astounding pieces of music in the history of music. (I met it last year and fell in love.)

The conductor working with us is awesomely enthusiastic - you can tell he works with high schools normally - and gives us fantastic metaphors. Ducks on water, squeezing toothpaste, bow and arrow, that kind of thing. Have learnt a heap in the last four days.

(Am also learning a heap from our new conductor in my regular choir. He's teaching us the solfa method, and after just a few weeks I'm feeling I'm getting a better hang of intervals. This Tuesday he explained modes to us so for the first time ever I know what they are, and spent the next full day earwormed with the Dorian mode - until Wednesday's rehearsal of Fauré, since when I've been earwormed primarily with Libera Me.)

I may end up lipsyncing In Paradisum, though. Is it just me or is that a particularly hard movement? I can't figure out if it's because by the time I get there I'm tired, or because it requires monumental control or something, but my voice keeps failing on the most mundane notes. The notes in and of themselves don't seem harder than any other movement, so it's a bit of a puzzle.

[*] Jerusalem narrowly missed being saddled with some words written for the occasion of the anniversary. Or, at least, the person who showed me the words thought it missed out by a narrow margin of 'not enough time'. Possibly the decision maker took one look at the words and, having the same reaction I did, scrambled for a plausible excuse. It's not that I adore Jerusalem's lyrics above all else - they've got their issues - but it is a classic, and if you're going to filk a classic for an anniversary then you need to be a genius on one of your better days.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
It's been a while since we had much aftershock activity -- the unprecedented pair of snowstorms we had three weeks apart seems to have insulated against them or something, which was one good thing about the snow. (I also enjoyed playing in it and having time off work; otoh I didn't like being cut off from being able to feed my cat, twice; and it made life harder for people who didn't need life being made harder in the slightest.)

But we did get a 4.2mag. aftershock at 5am-ish today, which seems to have ruined a lot of people's mornings. My own reaction was a groggy, "Bah, I'm not letting a piddly - hmm, feels like a low 4 - stop me sleeping in." And went back to sleep. From evidence, the cat's reaction was similar, which is gratifying progress.

In other recent EQ news, I got my letter from EQC listing all the damage the inspectors noticed while they were around here. It takes a page and a half, each line being one wall or ceiling or window or other feature, notated with a super-brief "Collapsed chimney" / "Structural damage" / "Floor has moved less than 100mm" / "Impact damage" etc. I also get a "Broken glass" and "Broken power fittings" and "Cracks to ring foundation", but the vast majority is "Cosmetic damage".

There's also a new Red Cross grant which was called the Alternatives to Sewerage Systems grant until someone noticed the acronym and changed it to something I can't remember because it's nowhere near as fun. Anyway it's NZ$500 for anyone who went without city sewerage for more than 90 days, and after a few days of being vaguely aware of the grant, it suddenly occurred to me that that included me again.

This perfectly solves my voucher-from-work dilemma: I can pass said voucher on to Women's Refuge and never have to think about it again, and use the grant money to buy myself something nice without any unpleasant aftertaste about where it came from (plus not limited to shopping at the single mall).

On the subject of Red Cross grants, there are three broad philosophies:

1) the Red Cross is making it too easy for people to get money;
2) the Red Cross is making it too hard for people to get money;
3) the Red Cross is doing pretty well actually, as evidenced by the fact that the Letters to the Editor display a perfect balance between philosophy #1 and philosophy #2.

My uncle, it turned out at my Mum's sixtieth birthday dinner, holds philosophy #1, believing that the Red Cross should investigate more exactly which people need exactly how much money. My sisters pointed out that investigating would cost money and delay people getting anything, and corrected him on some points of fact, all the while referring to the Red Cross as "we" (with admirably faint emphasis) until it clicked for him and there was this brief pause and he said, slightly horrified, "You mean you both work for the Red Cross?"

This is how my family celebrates our sixtieth birthdays, people! --Actually it was all good, and we stuffed ourselves full of mains and dessert and cake and then went to Scared Scriptless (a theatre sports show which is a Christchurch institutions -- their normal venue has been red-zoned so they've been bouncing around, at the moment performing in an intermediate school's auditorium) which was brilliant as usual. (I mean there was the game that's funny because foreign people have silly accents, and the game that's funny because date rape's hilarious, and the games that are funny because homophobia and transphobia; but y'know, it was my Mum's birthday so I'm just going to give in to the kyriarchy this once.) The brilliantest thing was that one of my family managed to get a note slipped to their coordinator about Mum's birthday, and so he asked her some questions and then got the guys in the team (yes, they're all guys, this may have something to do with the kyriarchy both cause and effect; see also the demographics of QI and the predictable "Women just must not be as funny as men" that you get when you point this out to fans on their fan-forum, but that's a story for another day) -- anyway, he got them to improvise a song for her which really was utterly fantastic.

Oh oh! And apparently my bus, my normal bus, my dear #23, is now running out my way again! I saw it! This means I could catch it straight from here straight to the door of my work again! --If that building is ever my workplace again, anyway, which to our rage and dismay is sounding increasingly unlikely, but that's a rant for another day. In the meantime the #21 gets me almost-straight from here straight to my current workplace, just takes a bit longer.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
1) doesn't capture what I wanted to capture, but that's probably in the nature of what I wanted to capture, so oh well.
I met God at the busstop today.
He was on a smoko between his bus rounds
and I was waiting for another bus
so we fell to chatting.
He told me the Gayhurst Road bridge is down to foot traffic only
and we're still getting earthquakes.
"We live in trying times," he said.
He said, "We've all got to stick together."
Then my bus came so we said goodbye.
"Be safe," he said,
which is the new Cantabrian for,
"Have a nice day,"
and I did.


2) This one would actually be a children's picture book. I envisage a gold medallion thing on the front cover saying, "From the city that brought you 'Quaky Cat'!" (which incidentally is an awesome book and I might have cried a little when it was read to us the kids at church. Much more morally uplifting than the following.)
There's a fly in the web in the chink in the plaster of my neighbour's house.

There's a bird on the tarp on the hole in the roof of my neighbour's house.

There's a rat in the pool at the pipe to the sewers from my neighbour's house.

There's a cat on the sill with the shards of the window of my neighbour's house.

There's a dog in the flowerbed by the boarded-up chimney of my neighbour's house.

There's a sheep on the wall that fell onto the fence by my neighbour's house.

There's a cow on the hill between bedroom and lounge in my neighbour's house.

There's a bulldozer on the rubble of my neighbour's house.
If I could easily get hold of the appropriate animals, I'd be tempted to grab a camera and illustrate this myself. I don't have a bulldozer to command either, but I'm presuming one will be along in the fullness of time.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
I dithered, with my icecream post last night, whether to tag it 'earthquake' because as time goes by and we return to daily life, daily life remains tinged with earthquake. But this one is definitely all about the earthquake.

After September, every building in the city got red, orange, and green placards depending on its damage. After February we got them again. At work, photocopiers and other electronic equipment got red, orange and green stickers. There was a lot of triage going on.

After February, initially there was only one red zone, which was basically the CBD. It got subdivided into zones that allowed various levels of entry to business owners and the public, but it was The Red Zone.

Then there was the sewerage map. There's a huge red zone (most of the eastern city) which didn't so much mean that there'd never been problems elsewhere, jut if there were problems elsewhere they had to use portaloos rather than chemical toilets. Up to June, the red area was slowly getting encroached on with green, meaning you could stop using the chemical toilets and go back to porcelain. My house got into a green area, but there were some red area houses just across the street (plus once I'm in a habit it's easier to continue even when it's an annoying habit) so I held off. There was quite a lot of green, actually, but then the June 13 quakes happened and someone took a vast red paintbrush to it; now there's just a few green patches.

(Incidental note: red vs green really is not ideal for colorblind people, even if it is tradition. They should add texture.)

The new set of zones that everyone's talking about now, though, is zones for land. My land is zoned green, though I've got a number of colleagues in red (not worth rebuilding on, owners will get government compensation), orange (needs more assessment), or white (hasn't been assessed yet).

On government compensation for people who had the unmitigated gall not to be able to afford insurance like all decent citizens:

You've got a choice: you can give this person a lump sum now so they can get back on their feet immediately and be a productive member of society. Or you can give them installments later when they're on the welfare system. I'm pretty sure everyone knows that paying for something upfront is always cheaper than paying for it in installments, right? Same thing. Really you owe it to yourself and your taxes to just give them the money now, because it'll cost you less in the longterm.

(For some reason, lots of twitter folk could not understand this.)
zeborah: zebra-striped biscuits (cooking)
There are days when you come home from work thinking that you really need either alcohol or icecream and alcohol's just not going to cut it.

Today was not one of those days but I like to be prepared with a 2 litre tub of icecream in the freezer just in case. And sometime over the last four months I ran out of icecream and didn't get more because it would have required transporting a 2 litre tub of icecream on the bus for an hour or more. Which a) would be heavy, and my shopping trips were already heavy affairs, and b) would be melty.

But today I went to my local supermarket for the first time in four months. Just all casual, like, on the way home from the bus stop. (It's actually been open on-and-off for a couple of weeks, but... I was set in my routines and it felt weird to change them and aftershocks happened on the 13th and I didn't realise it was open again until I got a flier, and anyway I just didn't go.)

And, once I figured out where the entrance was, it's really quite lovely in there. (Pak 'n' Save is horrid despite being cheaper. It makes me feel all claustrophobic. Partly the warehouse feel, partly the really high shelves, partly the crowds.) It's well lit and really spacious - heaps of space as you walk in through the grocery section, and the aisles are wide and the shelves are low. The only thing I'd change if I could is the aisles are very long; it'd be nice to have a cross aisle as some of their other stores do. But really, even though they'd changed the layout a lot, it felt very safe and familiar. Also the new entrance opens directly to the carpark - I don't know if that was necessity due to the rest of the mall being closed or a clever safety idea, but I like it.

Anyway I did my necessary shopping: baking powder (gluten-free - I didn't realise ordinary baking powder wasn't, whoops, but I think I didn't use it anyway when I made stuff for work) and new cooking oil; and yeast to make bread with (because 4 months have set me in my bread-making routine and I've even figured out how to make it almost-reliably rise in the bread machine); and mandarins and shaved ham for lunches, and fish for dinner, and chips for special occasions, and then I thought, "I can walk home in 5 minutes! I can buy icecream!"

So I did. Lime-flavour (though it's more an aroma than a flavour really, it's so gentle). And then I got home and, even though it wasn't one of those days, I had a bowl anyway, to celebrate.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
The One of many problems with earthquakes is they're over before you get a chance to pay attention to what's happening. The bigger they are the longer they last, but the more time you're spending trying to get into the safest possible place. Of course after several thousand of the blighters I no longer bother moving at all for anything less than a 5(*), which gives me a bit more time to look around (not that I bother looking up for anything less than a 4).

(*) "Yeah, whatever" is not a recommended safety measure, just for some of us an inevitability. For recommended safety measures, follow my cat's example: in anything above a 4 she darts under the nearest couch until the shaking's stopped, then calmly evacuates the building and doesn't return until safety inspectors have given the okay dinner time.


But so anyway I remain curious, and so whenever I can I watch videos like this:


What I particularly like about this video is that it brilliantly demonstrates the aftershock experience in that long buildup of surface tranquillity with stressy music: you know what's coming, but you don't know when, so you just have to wait, and wait, and wait.

--Though actually that's more my September experience than my current experience (vide supra re "Yeah, whatever").

But anyway and also, tomorrow we get to go back to work, though our Available Library count -- which was 5 pre-February, dropped to 0 straight after, had slowly climbed to 2.5, and was closing in on 3.5 or even 4 -- is now back to 1. We'll be able to start tidying up and providing some virtual services again though. I've done a bit from home in the meantime, mostly due to Bored Now -- have also done a lot of Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreading for the same reason -- but getting back on a proper 9-5 basis will be much better. Ooh, and I can borrow a barcode reader (as I'd meant to on Monday) to let me inventory my books properly.

Mental note to leave early tomorrow morning, as they've moved the bus-stop again.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Yadda yadda earthquake, yadda yadda evacuation, yadda yadda liquefaction, yadda yadda.

We evacuated immediately after the 5.5 and were sent straight home. I got a lift, stopping in a couple of places on the way, and was very close to my parents' when the 6.0 hit. At first I thought my friend was slowing due to existing pot-holes, then I wondered if her tyre had blown or something, and then I noticed the electricity wires playing jumprope.

Checked in with family then walked to my place. It was nice and sunny, and there were people out on porches and lawns and at letterboxes watching the traffic go by. As I picked my way through liquefaction, someone warned me about a pothole hidden under the surface. I passed the dairy where the owner was carrying on business with money in a plastic container outside and fetching items from the messy interior for his customers. When I got home I chatted for a bit with some neighbours I've never really seen before.

Got in the door (sticks a bit more, again) and opened the cupboard to get the cat's food out and thus lure her back. As I should have predicted, things fell out. I put her food out but she didn't return for several hours anyway (and then a few minutes later we got another aftershock and she followed recommended safety procedures admirably: straight under the sofa, then once the shaking stopped promptly evacuated the house. I meanwhile just sat there a little bored).

Other shifting of items, such as it was:
In the weekend, I'd finally put all my fiction books back up on their shelves, using some non-slip surface stuff. They're still all there (though so are the ones I'd put up previously without said stuff). The CDs and the pantry were fairly easy to tidy up. All the kitchen drawers had rocketed out to the extent they could, but the china and glass cupboards were still tied shut. (Not having figured out yet what else to do with them, I've had string tied around their handles since February. So glad I didn't get bored of doing this.) The cracks in the chimney are growing. The freestanding wardrobe fell over, but due to cunning re-placement didn't break any windows this time; the wardrobe bolted to the wall is still attempting to shake itself to bits. The fridge, to my disgust, shifted several inches out from the wall in a clear hint that I need to vacuum behind it.

Yadda yadda, wobble wobble, yadda yadda.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
I believe I forgot to mention that, when my next door neighbours were moving out for the second time (I think they weren't very happy with the fixes their landlord put in place, or maybe just the big aftershock we had shortly after they moved back in was the last straw; by the way the house next door to me is now available for lease if anyone's keen) they had a container on the street for all their furniture and so forth. And the container was TARDIS-blue. And when you turned the corner from the main road, you saw it end-on and with part of it blocked by lampposts and it looked just like the Doctor had parked there for a refuel.

But that's not the cool thing. You see, inspired by this, and portaloos -- especially one I saw in that same TARDIS-blue -- I came up with:
The TARDIS lands in Christchurch. A local bursts through the door, then looks around in bewilderment. "It's bigger on the inside," the Doctor starts to explain. "I can see that," says the local, "but where's the loo?"

This is also not the cool thing. Because while I was failing to get it to a tweetable length, @entomocephalous tweeted the far superior:
Just saw a Porta-Loo painted up to look like the TARDIS. It's smellier on the inside. #thisisawesome #eqnz

I promptly said a politer version of "Pix or it didn't happen", but alas, none were forthcoming. A couple of days later, I saw it myself while on a bus; and a few days after that I took my own camera with me on the same route. Alas, the bus went by too fast and I decided fate was determined to leave us without proof.

But -- and this right here is the cool thing -- today my Mum got the photo! <happy-dance>
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
I did admittedly have couple of hours of my ordinary tasks first thing in the morning -- part of which involved communicating with some Internal Relationships (to use position description jargon) about whether or not they could attend the seminar. Then my manager instant messaged me to ask if I could a) make posters and b) do the physical set-up for it, so I made the posters and checked about extension cords and such.

Usually it's quarter of an hour to walk between campuses, but I had to go via another branch to pick up the dataprojector, so it turned out half an hour. Half an hour to set up. One hour for the seminar. Half an hour for lunch (which I spent with the speaker) and then a 40 minute meeting with her and an Internal Relationship who hadn't been able to make the seminar.

Then back to the other branch to return the dataprojector and discovered that the office it resides in was occupied. Now, this colleague -- just as, if you go between campuses you have to spend quarter of an hour walking, so if you meet this colleague you have to spend an hour and a half talking. Law of nature. I don't understand everything he says or how on earth he segues so smoothly between so many disparate subjects, but it's always fascinating.

Then I walked back to my current home-branch. I'd planned to check my email for emergencies before I left, but (partly due to a blister -- I may eventually give up on these boots :-( ) I only got there in time to pack up, phone the pharmacy, and grab the bus.

Attempted to return an interloan to the (temporary) public library except, even leaving earlier than I would on days when I have a 1-hour lunch plus proper tea breaks, it was closed by the time my bus got me there. On the way though I got attacked by a sudden fit of melancholy at seeing a glimpse of its proper (but inaccessible) location and walking over a hump in the sidewalk(*), and haven't figured out what I'll spend the evening doing to combat this yet.

(*) Have I mentioned humps in the sidewalk? And in the road, of course, but many/most of those are more or less levelled by now. I must have. But they're so fascinating. The asphalt has actually stretched over the sand volcano that's erupted beneath it. Stretchy concrete! So cool!


Oh, also I'll recommend the charity anthology Tales for Canterbury. 34 stories, extremely competitively priced DRM-free ebook (print version coming soon), proceeds to Red Cross. I reviewed it on Goodreads.
zeborah: I found this humerus (humorous)
Conversations on a bus:
Three teenagers (two girls and one boy). One of the girls was rehearsing her defense for the school board of trustees about drunkenness at school. It wasn't that she got drunk at school, see, she got drunk before school and just happened to still be intoxicated when she got there. Also when she gave some drink to another student it was because said student wanted it, not because she'd peer pressured her or anything.

The conversation turned, as conversations do. In due course the boy was telling how once, when a friend had been pressuring him with "Bros before hos", the boy retorted, "Mate, chicks before dicks."

--

The Press cheerfully mentions that over 50% of the buildings in the CBD may have survived. This is a stunningly glass-half-full mode of reporting for the Press these days. Also, I shouldn't read the newspaper while waiting at the supermarket checkout: going shopping is enough of a punch to my emotional immune system as it is, and today is pouring with rain and I spent all morning looking after part of the church fair's white elephant sale so resilience has been going steadily down all day anyway.

(On the plus side, at said fair I got two skirts for a dollar, and some violets, and some feijoas in red wine which I'm planning to take to friends for a dessert with the plan that she and I can eat the feijoas and he can drink the wine. I restrained myself from going near the book stall, it seemed for the best.)

--

Boots has returned to her ordinary self, ie restive with outbreaks of annoying, and the vet's battery of tests all read back in the normal range.

--

There are all sorts of things I keep meaning to say, but I've forgotten them all. Oh! One of them was that I worked out what's been splitting my skin open when I empty my chemloo tank; I then put one bandaid on my finger and one bandaid on the jaggedy part of the tank.

--

At work I'm still bouncing between three locations, though one predominates. Unfortunately it's the one I hate the most. It's deathly quiet; we share with people we don't know that well and they complained about the beeps of our virtual reference application, so now we need to wear headsets if we want to notice our customers calling us. The only redeeming feature of this place is that it has my computer in it -- my actual computer from my actual office, with my lolcat version of the 5 laws of library science taped on and my rights to modify the software on it which IT accidentally-on-purpose left me because they trust me not to modify it too much. And on Monday we get a new manager and he's going to be sitting at that space.

Sigh. Oh well. At least I worked out how to get my desktop picture (of The Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library) onto the other computers I have to use. Why I mentioned work was really to keep on with the alcohol theme, because in one of the other locations the tiny little tearoom has, next to the coffee and tea and milo, two bottles of wine. They must have come from some function or other. No-one would ever actually open them on worktime, but I feel it's comforting just to know they're there.
zeborah: Zebra and lion hugging (cat)
Day 1: Boots gobbles the green pill on the assumption that it's the same as one of her normal pale brown palatable pills. (I'm a big fan of palatable pills.)

Day 2: Boots remembers that the green pill is not in fact palatable so I'm forced to do the ordinary pilling thing. (She gobbles the pale brown pill quite happily.)

Day 3: Boots remembers that being pilled is unpleasant so I hide the pill in some of her super nommy goop.

Day 4: Boots remembers that a pill surrounded by super nommy goop is still a pill so I'm forced to do the ordinary pilling thing and now it's sticky so sticks to my finger so this takes multiple tries.

Day 5: I resort to Google, find some videos of remarkably placid cats and the old how to pill a cat joke which I think is more documentary than humour but anyway. I attempt the margarine thing but it sticks to my finger and when I hopefully attempt to let her just nom it she just licks the margarine off it. I get the pill into her half a dozen times and she spits it out half a dozen times (once after holding it cunningly in her mouth for over half a minute until I unlock her catflap, upon which <spit, flee>) and it dissolves into a crumbly mess twice. --I speak by now of the platonic pill. By the time I succeed it's the third pill of the day. Will have to get another repeat from the vet at some point when I know how many to ask for....

Day 6: I plan to mash the pill into her super-nommy glop. But goodness knows what I'll do on days 7-14.


In random earthquake news:
I turned up at choir last night and discovered our normal practice room has been taped off. Hung around for a while half-chatting with the AA greeting folk and half-trying not to get in their way, but no-one else turned up; I seem to have missed a message at some point. On the bus on the way home I listened to another passenger chatting with the bus driver about portaloos and chemical toilets. Post-earthquake smalltalk is from another world.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
(And a bit. I neglected to commemorate due to intervention of cat.)

"This #eqnz is like tennis. Greendale, Lyttelton, Greendale, Lyttelton, point. Fault, Double Fault." (johnstewartnz)

Also a Wordle made from tweets with the #eqnz hashtag (click to see full-size):
Wordle: Christchurch Earthquake

The weird thing (?) is that I've never dreamed about earthquakes or aftershocks. A few times about the aftermath, but very vaguely. The first time was the night of the 22nd when as I finally dropped off to sleep I dreamed I was stepping into the mud on Aldwins Road and slipped and the jerk woke me up. I think one dream some weeks later included the image of safety fences but I don't recall anything else. And last night I dreamed I was correcting someone, saying that my walls were fine, it was just the wallpaper that's been ripped, and feeling as if I'd been (albeit accidentally) misleading them until then.

Our aftershocks don't really frighten me anymore; not in my head. My body still reacts. Anything will make me alert; a 4 or so will startle my adrenaline up; a 5 and I'll be moving for cover. The idea of another 6, 7, or God forbid an 8, does frighten me, but more because of the damage it'd cause than from a fear of the shaking itself. --Though I expect that if a 7 or 8 did strike I would be afraid during it too.

Also, paradox time: At my most exhausted, the most irrational part of my mind occasionally wished that there would be a really big one to end it all. The rational part of my mind always looked side-eye at it and said "You what now? You know that a big one would end people and buildings, not end the aftermath and set us back to normal, right?" But irrational brain is irrational.

I'm a lot more rested now (despite intervention of cat) so not only is irrational brain either satisfied or submerged, but I suspect I'll be able to go back to work tomorrow without feeling weepy all day. Not that I wouldn't like a third week of holiday -- my to-do list is long and I've been bribing myself with chocolate this morning to make phone calls about the most vital items on it -- but I think I've reached a point where I'll be able to cope with the necessary task of figuring out the new shape of my job. Plus, starting with a 3-day work week will be a help.

One more phone call, then chocolate, then shops.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
  • Tents in people's front/back-yards. I think that most of these are less because of the house being unsafe and more because it's more peaceful to sleep on the ground than inside a house during aftershocks. Not sure about the caravans
  • Mental health posters up everywhere encouraging people to keep active, connect with friends&co, etc. Reminds me of wartime propaganda except, y'know, friendlier
  • Fruitcake for morning tea at church provided by a church in Wellington.
Also things I didn't forget to mention, they just happened:
  • My gas fire is certified safe. Yay not freezing my toes off! (It's turned antarctic out there.)
  • Do want: Christchurch company creates quake warning system. This should be publicly funded and installed on every computer everywhere. Don't care about liability (though I like to think they have the sense to build in a bunch of redundancy), I'll sign a waiver; something's better than nothing. Also I'm already thinking about software features, like you could opt in to random earthquake drills.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
There's a moth here determined to prove the adage.

Three unpleasant blips that make it sound like life sucks more than it does:

1) Thursday I went shopping to Barrington. My book-of-the-bus-trip was an Amnesty International collection of stories about human rights; in particular, I reached one about residents walking to get water after Hurricane Katrina and being blocked on the way. This... proved to be mildly triggering. Especially because the 'moral' at the end of the story was that people have the right to go where they want in their own country - nothing about the right to have clean drinking water. This right was only resolved fairly recently and New Zealand first opposed it then abstained from the vote.

You know what, I have strong opinions about the right of people to have clean drinking water. I really like clean drinking water and am willing, when necessary, to take half an hour out of my day to go and collect it.

So there was that, and then I had to buy as many groceries as I could feasibly carry back to the bus, which proved really heavy and so I was feeling quite worn down even before the busdriver (I think the busdrivers are being pushed too hard; a lot of them are... not themselves) took off before we'd all managed to get seats, and proceeded to drive as fast as one can drive on bumpy roads and several times failed to hear people ding the bell for their stops so had to be shouted at. Which doesn't make anyone happier.

2) Yesterday I visited New Brighton to go to the library. The roads that way were bumpy, and there were more shops fenced off or shored up with timber, and by the time I reached the library I was feeling distinctly glum. I read a C. L. Moore story (the only one by a woman in the Mammoth Collection of Golden Age SF or whatever it was called) while looking out over the pier and grey-green waves and seagulls. That library has one of the best locations ever. Then I went to wait at the busstop. Or anyway, at the lamppost which is the de facto busstop since the previous bus shelter got buried under a pile of bricks.

(When I got home, I candied the petals of two roses while watching two and a half episodes of season 2 Buffy. Practice might speed things up I guess? Also there needs to be a way not to leave brown bruise marks from holding the petal with tweezers.)

3) Today I met some new quake-friends for a writing meeting at the Borders cafe. Riccarton Mall was busier than Christmas Eve and Boxing Day combined. It reminded me of being in a Seoul mall soon after its opening when it was The trendy place to be and so crowded I felt mildly claustrophobic.

Also then this evening we got a lovely 5.3 aftershock. This was possibly my fault: earlier today I reshelved a pile of my books. (They were blocking access to the gasfire which someone's coming to look at on Monday, hopefully to say that it's safe despite the rather visible shifting of the chimney. If not, I guess I'll have to try and get the chimney removed before winter.) On the plus side none of them fell down, though they did wobble distinctly towards the edge. Also the light swayed and piano wobbled as I made my dash to the safest-looking place in the room; but nothing fell at all.

Some water did splash out of the toilet cistern.

I have power still but was told my parents were cooking over gas anyway so came as normal to our Saturday evening dinner.


Anyway, really life's pretty good when one's on leave from work. I could definitely get used to being on leave.


Will post this when they get power back or I get back home, whichever is first... --Ooh, power's back! Unfortunately the ISP isn't. Fortunately we have access to another network. You know, snuffing out a candle looks a lot suaver in the movies.

There's a moth lying on the table, slightly singed.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Everyone talks about the "new normal". Some complain that it's talked about too much, that it's a cliché that shouldn't be used anymore. Sometimes it probably is a cliché; but if so, it is because it's true.

A few times I've tried to pretend for stress-relief purposes that everything's just like the normal-that-was. This is how that works out for me:

So I'm just walking along, doot di doo, wearing my dust mask-- Wait. That's not normal.

Okay, well, I can tune out the dust mask. So I'm just walking along, doot di doo, listening to my iPod, smelling the thick citrus scent of a portaloo--

No, look, I can do this. Walking along, listening to my music, enjoying the beautiful hills and beautiful sky (no more search and rescue helicopters, which I'm not thinking about), stepping carefully over some torn-up asphalt--

And there's a traffic cone on a pothole, and an abandoned house, and the stain of brick-dust on the footpath, and a concrete block fence fallen down, and construction work at the mall, and malfunctioning real-time ETAs at the bus-stop, and safety railing around a demolition site, and another portaloo, and another fallen fence (brick), and several houses in a row with plywood in the walls and patches on the roofs where chimneys used to be, and safety tape around an unsafe property, and more rough footpaths, and some silt that didn't get cleared up, and my favourite grocery store, for lease, and and and... a roughly-repaired bridge, a sign excluding all traffic but residents, a container in the road in front of someone's house, stopbank works along the river, blue above-ground waterpipes.

(This was a 40-minute walk.)

Earlier this week I tried to pretend things were normal while walking in a part of town I'd never have been in if it weren't for the quake messing up my normal routes. Nevertheless I managed to work it, until I reached the gates of Selwyn House School where the kids have pasted up hundreds of hearts bearing messages like "Kia kaha, Christchurch."

It's just not possible to pretend things are as normal. I can't think of anywhere I can go to pretend that. Not home, not work, not on the bus, not at the shops. (Another ChChian has just posted photos of an average commute to work.)

Maybe at church, except the projector's still shining off-centre and they've still got the wooden statue off its pedestal, and as soon as we move from the set stuff to the more social stuff there's bound to be quake-talk. Maybe at choir, if I ignore the new route I take to get there and back and ignore the social talk... except one of the events we were practising for has been cancelled due to catastrophic lack of venue. Maybe at my friends' place in the northwest where I stay the night sometimes -- until the morning when I log on via the internet to start my day working-from-home because I haven't seen my desk in six and a half weeks.

Having a shower or washing dishes isn't normal (conserving water). Watching TV isn't normal (new TV, sitting on the floor surrounded by books by the gasfire that'll stay cold until checked by someone qualified). Going to bed isn't normal as I put my laptop under secure shelter and hang my bag on the nightstand. Going to the toilet sure isn't normal (whoops, forgot to add chemicals when I reassembled it this afternoon).

Lying in bed in the morning before I open my eyes and see the cracks in my ceiling -- that's still normal. But that's... really that's pretty much it.

Some of these things we'll get back, but they won't all be the same. We won't want them to all be the same. There'll be new shops and new technologies. We'll have made new friends and new habits -- many of us already have. We're not the us-that-was anymore either.

Optical illusion: young woman vs old womanI think that part of the hard thing about the six-week mark is that it's becoming untenable to pretend that this is just an aberration. I can't pretend that things are the normal-that-was. They're not, and never will be again.

The only thing I can do is accept the normal-that-is, with all its cracks and portaloos and temporary repairs and little inconveniences. Because when the normal-that-is becomes so normal that I don't see it anymore, that's when I can walk down the road, doot di doo, and see someone's roses, blooming riotously in red and white and sunrise.

Retraining your brain to see what you want it to is hard work.

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