March 16, 2011

Frustrations and changes...looking for silver linings

The overwhelming catastrophe of Japan is everywhere, as it should be. Libya fills the news...  more fear and destruction.  On top of the events here of the past weeks, it is all very depressing.  I have been functioning in a sort of limbo; sometimes taking it all in, other times needing to shut it all out.
The city we knew is being destroyed. About 1500 buildings are "red stickered" and face destruction. The rubble wil be removed and another place will be built. Life will go on...I remind myself that "On The Beach" was a myth.... the equatorial winds will protect us?

Australian USAR team members made a parting gift to Christchurch in the days leading up to their departure. The team has used a beam and other wood from Christchurch Cathedral to build a park bench which has been installed at Latimer Square, home to the international and New Zealand urban search and rescue teams. The gift to Christchurch was accepted at a ceremony in Latimer Square this morning by Anglican Dean Peter Beck and Mayor Bob Parker. Senior Australian and New Zealand fire staff and USAR team members were present for the ceremony.

The place I work is still closed as it is in the red cordon and we are trying to set up at our other local campus...  we might be there for the rest of term, maybe longer. No one really knows yet. We have some space being cleared for our programmes... progress, but we are having trouble accessing our teaching materials and everything takes a lot of time, patience and controlled breathing.  The central businesses of town face it all too so I am trying to see it as an adventure! Like the movie, 127 Hours....

Driving is a frustration - although amazed at the progress made in three weeks, we are all driving slowly along congested ring roads through the potholes.  Journeys require thought to see what will be accessible, open, safe, and not gridlocked while the main central thoroughfares are closed. I remind myself Auckland puts up with this all the time, minus the silt, dust and potholes of course.

The ideal car for our roads...

Today we lost the hosting rights for the World Cup Games. I am sad and yet relieved.... one less hassle to cope with.  Tough for many and also for Dunedin if they don't get pool games.  But would like to see the efforts put back into the people here, not the rugby.

We have portaloos everywhere on this side... sewage seeping into rivers.  If there are no portaloos seen, then there are the large green tanks discretely labelled "human waste", just waiting for the daily delivery from the chemical toilets.
Need a waste tank? -

There are still fresh water tanks around. We still boil all our water, or add bleach; I am impressed how clean my nails are after a nightly deluge of very hot soapy water and bleach doing the dishes! Today, for the first time in three weeks, I put my dishwasher on, using the rarely run non-eco cycle... hoping the steam drying will kill all the greeblies and we won't get the "Christchurch runs". I feel guilty at using power... just needed a break.

Power... yes - the eastern side is held together in a fragile grid of cables and generators... we can expect power cuts. We are all conserving power, and water.   Sigh - no more dishwasher?  The night temps are dropping as we enter Autumn but we are not heating anything. Woollies and rugs are fine. We could use the gas.. but oh that's right - the chimney has gone and we have no flue now and so, no gas heater. Hmmm.... not that it would work in a power cut anyway.  The little portable gas heater off Trade Me waits in the garage as a last desperate measure.  The itty-bitty two stroke generator will give us light, radio, phone, laptops.... no heat though. Somehow I don't think we wil get a heat pump or a log burner installed this year under the local replacement scheme... must get the flue put back though, and soon.

Today the nice men from EQC arrived in their vibrant flouro yellow vests.. we locked the dogs in the bedroom and they checked the house.

I dug out the paperwork from the September claim and they took the details. They looked at the ceiling damage in teenagers room (OMG how does he live in there!!!) and the chaos of books and music in the spare room that my partner has still refused to, or been unable to face tidying up.. I wished I had vacuumed before work. Sigh. The good news - minimal damage to the house and claim forms for the smashed items and tv. I took out my embarrassment in a veritable orgy of dusting and tidying and vacuuming, while the spare room was finally tidied.  Sure they have seen worse!  Too tired to tackle the garden, or the weedy patch that used to be a garden, and now it is raining...

It could be a challenging winter... my son is now unemployed and looks like my partner will be soon too.  His industry will be decimated by the loss of the city, and the world cup. Anxiety flares frequently, but overall, it could be worse.  Belt tightening all round.. I really don't want to go anywhere right now. I feel safest here in Christchurch, my home, familiar territory, with my family.  I might venture up to Wellington for meetings ( already rebooked the upcoming one into a single storey building). I will avoid lifts after hearing a tale of packed people stuck in the dark through the aftershocks for 10 hours. I might shun stairs too after so many collapsed independently in the local high rise towers.  Today someone expressed concern at being on the ground floor of a high rise... our love affair with height is over.

New method of access to buildings?
On Friday I am going to Kaikoura with the students for the night and the annual swim with the dolphins which will be a great time, and I have a short conference in Hamilton in June, but otherwise I am here and staying.  I can handle the adrenaline rush of the aftershocks. I can handle the destruction and loss of all we held dear. I will look for what could be...

Today I saw this and felt a wee stir of excitement! Bring it on...


  1. Oh Fi, you sound really down. I'm so sorry you all have to suffer still. I don't think things will ever return to normality, but I bloody hope things improve SOON. Thinking of you, always. xxx

  2. Without ever having been in that kind of situation, I would still dare say it sounds like a "normal" reaction after major trauma and loss... Whatever the reason that we have to start over and face that recovery is going to take a very long time or life might never be quite the same... It is bound to be a roller coaster ride between hope and grief, realizing and shutting things out, balancing dreams and harsh reality.


    I am not alone... She said it better than I did

  4. Fi. She said it differently. I'm not sure that she said it better!

  5. Oh, so much can happen in 7 days. I think to myself, last Friday I was happily surfing on my computer and then...

    I have been drawn to seeking out all the information I could about Japan and still keeping you and NZ in my thoughts.

    Your Wednesday post full of news, and making time for the annual trip made me smile and be happy for you in the little ways to make one's life go on.

    The park bench, what a special memorial; the good news about your house; the bad news about job losses; the good news about swimming with dolphins.

    A friend had this poem on her blog today;

    A Prayer for Comfort
    by Rabindranath Tagore

    That You come to save me--
    this is not my prayer;
    I ask for strength to overcome.
    You need not comfort me by lightening my load;
    I ask for strength to carry my burden.


Comments welcome....always love to hear what you think!


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