Sunday, December 28, 2014

Earthquakes and Christmas


Yikes! Christms Eve brought 2 earthquakes in the afternoon. The first one had a couple jolts and scared me. We got under a doorframe and our cat scampered on the hardwood to get behind the couch. Then there was another one a bit later which was shorter. Our cat spooked again and ran under the bed. I can imagine the chaos of pets getting lost after the earthquakes here, and a postgrad student in my department actually just published a book on this topic with heartbreaking stories of owners searching for lost pets. I discovered I really don't like having to move around while the earth is moving underneath me. We feel fairly secure in this house, seeing as how it withstood all of the rest of them, but the many cracks in the ceiling are a constant reminder of the stress it has taken. These were only the second quakes I've felt (first one was in California while I was asleep so by the time it shook me awake it was over). After recovering from the first one only to have another one come a little while later, I now have more empathy for the folks here who went through not only the big ones in 2010 and 2011, but many aftershocks that probably rattled them every time. It was weird timing coming on Christmas Eve.

He has recovered from his shock and taken over the chair.


Even though we are careful about acquiring too many things since we won't be able to take most of it back with us, since we are here for a while and it's hard not to, we got each other a couple presents for Christmas. D got me some wall hangings, a sweet Shakespeare puzzle, and of course a bird feeder and seed. He also got both of us Civilization: Beyond Earth which is a new science-fiction-themed version of our favorite computer game that has fun alien siege worms and other science-fiction elements. I got him some international-food-section candy and a cast-iron tortilla press and corn flour. His parents got us some travel gifts: Hobbiton movie set tickets and passes for the inter-island ferry so we can get our car over to the North Island to explore. Hobbiton sounds so cool - we will be going there soon and will definitely be posting pics! 

I think this is the first Christmas where I've ever been able to wear a tank-top. Also the first one where I went on a walk on a beach. Several people had recommended a place called Taylor's Mistake where all these old holiday homes still exist -- they call them baches (pronounced "batches") - - so we had a nice drive along the coast to get there. It was super windy, but very sunny and warm with lots of other people out enjoying the water and weather. I plan to return and have a picnic soon.

Boxing Day

Sales weren't very good. The only thing I found were some beach towels on sale at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Gearing up for that picnic! We did get some lights at K-Mart. For some reason, almost all of the holiday lights here are solar-powered or battery-powered. And they are LED so the big strands were still $27 even at 50% off. We got some smaller strands and tested them out -- they worked! I guess the upside of solar is that you don't have to pay for power. The 6 balls change color too. I can't wait to decorate next year! :)

Next we saw Big Hero 6 at the movie theater. This time the employee let us pick our assigned seats -- we told her that we don't have those in the U.S. and she was shocked and said she wouldn't like that at all. We emphasized the importance of having buffer seats, but I still don't think she was convinced.

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