Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rock Steady


There are a few things that bring together the many disparate communities of greater Los Angeles: the day of the Academy Awards, a KCRW pledge drive, when the Lakers win,

and earthquakes.

The undeniable rumble begins and it doesn’t matter if you’ve created your own version of life on the Mediterranean (in Santa Monica,) in an urban art commune (Downtown LA's Brewery,) or in a real life adaptation of Grovers Corners (right here in South Pas.) Earthquakes remind us that we’re all together in one sprawling neighborhood. And that neighborhood is built on shaky ground.

We had what local newscasters like to call a temblor, yesterday. My 3 year old daughter and I were at Toys R Us in nearby Alhambra when the concrete floor started rocking and all the metal lamps began banging together. My daughter said, “Mommy, why are the toys moving?” I explained that it was an earthquake, when the ground rolls over and everything wiggles. She said, “The ground needs to lie back down and go to sleep.”

That pretty much sums up the response everyone has when an earthquake strikes.

Today’s quake was a respectable 5.4: not strong enough to do serious harm but big enough to remind us that we all need to take the time to ready ourselves for the inevitable day when that seismic number is higher. Our friends at Cal Tech advise us to be preparedby having a plan, plenty of batteries, knowledge of our home’s gas shut off valve and a supply of canned food and water. I’ll admit, I had gotten a little blasé about earthquakes after several years of low activity. In fact, I raided our earthquake kit a while ago to replace the batteries in my daughter’s toy ipod.

But if I’ve become nonchalant about earthquakes, South Pasadena seems un-phased by it. I find it comforting that there are so many historic buildings here and throughout the region. Our 108 year old wood-framed house rode out today’s shaking the way it has ridden out all the prior shakes. There were a few creaks, a few glasses overturned in the cabinets, but nothing major. Go with the flow … wasn’t that term coined in Southern California?

The rest of the world loves to claim that Los Angeles is ephemeral, that everything changes and nothing sticks around for very long. If we eventually crack off and fall into the ocean, then I guess the world will be right. But I like knowing that this big city has learned how to endure on the top of a surface that occasionally jolts and quivers. Who would have thought that flaky Los Angeles, the land of extremes, could teach the rest of the world a little something about balance?

17 comments:

Steve Buser said...

Laurie, perhaps you will need to put the old Jerry Lee Lewis song on your blog -- "Whole Lotta Shaking Going On."

Ben Wideman said...

I love your review and thoughtful words. Bravo!

The Mt. Baldy Eagle said...

Historically every 15,000 years or so there is a pole shift. They say we are due for one soon. I wonder what a pole shift preparedness bag has in it?

Cafe Observer said...

Laurie, so you took your daughter to the toy store with you. I'm sure she much rather have been at one of her bookstores!

brian said...

my old wood frame house is only about 60 years old, but it gives me comfort in bad storms to know my house has weathered many more than I have!

Fabrizio - ikol22 said...

I personally love so much what your daughter suggested on what ground should have to do ;-)

Petrea said...

Wonderful commentary, Laurie. Just what I would have said, if I'd thought of it, but you said it better.

My house is 84 years old. I tell myself it has lasted. I don't know if that means it will continue to last, though. I still want to bolt it to the foundation.

Aloha said...

This isn't really about your post. I must say I was reading your about me (you) page. You have great taste in films. Several of my favorites. Boy, that was a double handed compliment. I love films with great dialog. Anyway I better read your post now.

Aloha said...

Earthquakes

I grew up in Southern California and I also lived up north (San Francisco). Earthquakes are like the sunshine, the beach boys and smog in California. We always had an earthquake kit and extra water in the house. When my boyfriend move from NYC to SoCal what fascinated him was the freeway chases on TV. Go figure?

Honolulu Daily Photo said...

Aloha said,

I grew up in Northern California. Not Southern California. Weird slip...

PJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PJ said...

Talk about being prepared. We moved from Arcadia to the east coast about 15 years ago, and even though I don't have a trash can filled with batteries and water in the garage, I still can't bring myself to hang pictures over a bed. I enjoy your addition to the greater Pasadena area daily blogs. You all bring back dear memories. In fact, I didn't miss California for the past 15 years until I started visiting your 3 blogs.

Virginia said...

Glad you and your family are ok. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Please visit again, I will do the same.

Laurie said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

Steve, it's funny you should mention the old Jerry Lee Lewis song. It's been stuck in my head since yesterday!

Thanks for the kind words, Ben.

Dave, I'm still laughing about the pole shift preparedness kit contents. (How about a wing and a prayer?)

Mike, our little one does love bookstores. She can't help it -- it's the dominant gene of both her parents.

Brian and Petrea, it does make us feel more comfortable in homes that have weathered more of these than we have, doesn't it? And Petrea, thanks for the compliment. I've enjoyed your commentary for so many months -- glad to reciprocate!

Aloha, welcome! Don't get me started talking about movies or this will become my daily film fangirl squeal... :-)

Thanks for stopping by pj! I feel the same way about pictures over the bed. I was in a hotel a few years ago in Atlanta with a picture over the bed. I kept waking up worrying about it.

Laurie said...

Oh, and Virginia -- thanks for visiting my blog. I hope to see you back soon! I really enjoyed your swingset picture this week.

Laurie said...

Fabrizio, thank you for visiting my blog, too. I love what my little one said, as well. Out of the mouths of babes...

Dixie Jane Chapman said...

Yes, dear granddaughter, the ground should lie down and go to sleep. This grandmother would sleep better in far away Texas just knowing it is so.There are many things we have no control over; death, taxes and yes, earthquakes. So remember the old scout motto: Be prepared! Thanks for a well written take on the subject, Laurie.