i just felt my first earthquake

I was sitting in my office on the 5th floor of 23 Lambton Quay and I suddenly felt the building begin to sway… At first I thought it was me feeling faint or dizzy but then I realised the plants in the window sill were also swaying, and the bookshelves made a creaking noise.  Then, after about 5 seconds, it stopped, as if nothing had even happened.

I ran next door to ask my neighbour if she had felt it, or if I was hallucinating.  According to her, a native-Wellingtonian, it was “a very tiny earthquake”, nothing to worry about it.

However, it was definitely unsettling and my heart is still racing a bit.

Wellington earthquake

Just when you thought it was safe to put a teapot on the top of your kitchen cupboards…

a 4.5 magnitude earthquake shakes your kitchen!

Ok, not exactly.  Yes, there was an earthquake in Wellington on Monday night.  Yes it was 4.5 magnitude.  Yes, a lot of people felt it.

No, I did not feel it, and no, it did not shake my teapots.

In fact, I probably would never have even known there had been an earthquake if Ticker hadn’t called me from work, where he informed me that the entire kitchen at Maria Pia’s (the establishment where he is employed) was shaking.  Thanks to that call, I barely slept a wink all night.

Now… should I take the wine bottles and teapots down off the top of the cupboard?

Oh, in unrelated news, I also wanted to mention that I recently participated in Wellington’s “Round the Bays” 7-km fun-run, my first time ever participating in an organized sporting event.  At a pretty slow jogging pace I completed the 7 km run in just under 52 minutes.  I am certainly proud of myself.  Will I go for a 10 km or half marathon next?  Pretty unlikely.  Running more than an hour is pretty boring.  I’d rather stay at home and knit while watching Louis Theroux documentaries.

Speaking of knitting, I have been on a rampage lately!  I finished a tea cozy last week, and am about 75% done with my first ever pair of mittens!  I shall post pictures time permitting.  I have also been doing quite a bit of sewing and baking, much to the detriment of my progress on my research.  My most recent interest has been in savoury muffins.  A sample recipe follows – spice it up with your own personalized additions!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (colby or cheddar are nice)
  • 1/4 cup toasted seeds (sunflower or pumpkin are nice)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and sage)
  • a pinch of salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tbs sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp crushed dried hot chili flakes

mix and match your favorite savoury ingredients, including stuff like:

  • spring onions
  • walnuts
  • blue cheese bits
  • bacon
  • ham
  • olives
  • sauteed mushrooms
  • corn
  • fresh tomatoes
  • chopped spinach
  • goat cheese
  • a handful of chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1/2 an onion, finely sliced and carmelized

Whatever you throw in, don’t over do it, remember “less is more” when it comes to flavours, and just be careful not to overmix your batter, or the muffins will come out tough and rubbery.  Mix everything together with a few swift strokes of a spoon or knife, until just combined,  Spoon into greased muffin tins, sprinkle a bit more cheese on top, and bake at 375 F/180 C for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown.

They’re great on their own, or served with a nice bowl of soup.

Hrm… now I’m hungry.

Safe and sound in Wellington

For those of you who may be concerned, all is safe and sound here in Wellington.

There are a number of factors about Wellington which will hopefully prevent a similar “dreadful event” (as described by Queen Elizabeth) that occurred in Christchurch.  According to my colleagues, Christchurch was always considered the one city in New Zealand safe from earthquakes.  Hence, many building’s were not structurally reinforced to prevent collapse in an earthquake.  In addition, many buildings were constructed out of stone or brick, building materials which cause a lot of damage in an earthquake.

This is not the case in Wellington.  Due to the region’s history of earthquakes, buildings here are almost always built out of wood (such as my home, the old government buildings, etc.).  Those that aren’t built out of wood are required to be reinforced and “earthquake proofed” (such as my office, Te Papa, etc.).  Though this was often seen as an overly expensive and unnecessary cost to many individuals, we can all appreciate the stringency of Wellington’s building regulators in hindsight.

However, the very sad events in Christchurch should also serve as a reminder that one must be prepared for unforeseen emergencies, as evidenced by yesterday’s unexpected earthquake.  I myself am realising that it’s extremely unwise for me to procrastinate any longer on getting together an “emergency kit” to have in my home, and another for my office.

After a discussion with my sweetheart, and consultation of New Zealand’s Ministry of Emergency Management “Get Thru” website, we have compiled the following list of essential “emergency kit” components which we think is suitable for the two of us:

  • Torch with spare batteries
  • Radio with spare batteries
  • Wind and waterproof clothing, sun hats, and strong outdoor shoes.
  • First aid kit and essential medicines
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Toilet paper and large rubbish bags for your emergency toilet
  • Face and dust masks
  • Duct tape
  • Food and water for at least three days
  • Non-perishable food (canned or dried food)
  • Water for drinking. At least 3 litres per person, per day
  • Water for washing and cooking
  • A can opener

I get paid tomorrow… and will start stocking up on these items! Though hopefully, we will never need them.