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Tuesday, June 15, 2004


Dear Amy,

"The worst of the 5.2 magnitude earthquake was to tilt Renoir and knock a few things off of the mantel!"

I just experienced my first California earthquake!! It happened 8 minutes ago at 3:30pm PST. It felt and sounded like a car or truck hit the building. First, a single loud crash, followed in rapid succession by several more loud bangs. Several pictures were abruptly tilted on the walls, and several more were toppled from their shelves. The building shook.

I looked out the bay window to the west to see if any vehicles were embedded in the lower condos. As I looked out of the window, I noticed that the birdcage was swinging, as was the chandelier, and the water I was drinking was slopping around in its glass. So was the water in my bucket of Spic and Span.

There was a "..whole lotta shakin' goin' on!!"

I realized that it was an earthquake and decided to leave for the street. All of my observations above took place in a second or less!!

A clamor of Spanish words carried through the air on excited voices from places which have been unseen by me before today, and are still unknown to me now. People were out on the sidewalk, chattering in increasingly frantic staccato bursts of Espanol.

Being inherently COOL, having done my time in a British boarding school in Australia, I did not want to appear unduly impressed by my first CA earth-surfing event. I grabbed a bundle of old newspapers and tried to appear casual as I made my way out of the building and into the street.

Upon reflection, it really did sound as if the building had cracked like a stick. The initial sound of the first shock was loud and sharp. I was surprised that it was so violent-sounding, and that there had been nothing to precede it.

Remembering the word "aftershocks" from news reports I had read when I lived in Illinois, I decided to walk around a the block rather than loiter in the street like a frightened sheep. Besides, the only language being spoken in the street at the time was frenzied Spanish, and the fever pitch of the conversation had grown to include wild gestures and much making of the sign of the cross. Not being a cross-signer either, I departed the frightened Mardi Gras in the street and went around the block.

I've straightened the pictures and photos and replaced the ones which fell over. It's quiet in La Jolla now, and the people in the street are laughing and smiling warm, toothy smiles, no doubt denying that they were frightened. I'm going back to cleaning the kitchen floor!

It turned out to be a magnitude 5.2 earthquake, centered about 40 miles Southwest of San Diego, in the Pacific Ocean.

I've now been "baptized" by earthquake, so I am now an official Californian.


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