my first earthquake!

epicenter: New Bedford, Massachusetts

I felt my first earthquake at 9:10 am this morning! It was only magnitude 4.2 and the depth was 12 miles but it was enough to get my attention. We live in the western protrusion of the second blue ring on the map. Tim slept through it. An exciting start to the day for me.

Edit: The magnitude has been recalculated to 3.6.

faerie goddess of green-growing things

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
Mihashirano’s Tea House created by Anita Walsh
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Mihashirano, the faerie goddess of green-growing things, works hard alongside her mom, Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, to help things grow along the river. The plants work hard purifying the air and water as well as supplying food and shelter for many creatures. Their work also benefits the artists in many of the same ways, including natural beauty that inspires their paintings. The location for Mihashirano’s tea house was chosen by a bird.
~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making

10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut
10.12.12 ~ Old Lyme, Connecticut

Janet, all bundled up to brave the elements, located the mystical bird and Mihashirano’s sailboat at the tea house out on the water by using binoculars provided by the fairies on the shore. It was a very wet, raw and windy day especially down by the river.

We didn’t feel anything here in southern Connecticut, but last night at 7:12 pm there was an earthquake centered in Maine, 4.6 on the Richter scale, which was strong enough to shake homes as far south as northern Connecticut. Auntie is supposed to come home from the hospital today – I wonder if they felt the tremor up north there last night… And today would have been my mother’s 81st birthday – Happy Birthday, Mom!

earthquake musings

Hairy Fairy Cup by Noah Siegel, at Devil’s Hopyard State Park

About 38 miles (61 kilometers) northwest from here is a town called Moodus. The Native Americans called the area “morehemoodus,” or “place of noises.” The noises come from the earth, fault lines running under the community. Modern citizens refer to them as Moodus Noises. With the disaster in Japan on my mind I took more note than usual when news reports came in on Thursday that Moodus had experienced a little 1.3 magnitude earthquake Wednesday night at 8:42 p.m. The epicenter was close to Devil’s Hopyard State Park.

We didn’t notice it here, and it caused no damage, but in Moodus they heard a loud bang and felt some movement, causing residents to call the police department and the police to drive around looking for what they feared might be an explosion. At 11:00 p.m. the U.S. Geological Survey called to tell them of the quake and the search was called off.

I’ve never felt an earthquake before and started to wonder about the local geological history of Connecticut. It turns out that on May 16, 1791 Connecticut experienced what they believe was about a 7.0 quake in the same area. “The stone walls were thrown down, chimneys were untopped, doors which were latched were thrown open, and a fissure in the ground of several rods in extent was afterwards discovered,” an observer said. It caused damage across southern Connecticut and it could be felt as far as Boston and New York. There were more than a hundred aftershocks overnight. It was the largest known earthquake in Connecticut’s history.

Apparently there was a 5.0 earthquake in southern Connecticut on November 3, 1968, but being an eleven year old in northern Connecticut at that time, I missed that one, too. Not that I necessarily want to experience an earthquake! When we lived in Greece in the early 1970s I felt there was a good chance of having one while we were there. And there was a little one my parents felt in Athens, but Beverly and I were away on a school field trip.

And happily imbibing, as I recall! As far as I know, children of all ages were allowed alcoholic beverages in Greece at that time. My parents actually told us not to drink the water as there was a meningitis outbreak in the area. We were instructed to drink only the wine. There were a few overly tipsy evenings on that field trip, this being a wild treat for the American students in our school… The European students were not sure what all our excitement was about. 🙂

This was one of those experiences that had an effect on my opinions about having an age of majority for alcohol. If you grow up drinking wine with your family it loses its fascination and thrill and all sense of novelty.

Two glasses of the Greek wine retsina, photo by Yorick R.

But I digress…

So, anyway… I started wondering, again, just how far above sea level are we, in case we have an earthquake here big enough to cause a tsunami. (After all, there was a 3.9 earthquake off Long Island on November 30, 2010, just a few months ago.) Beverly pointed me to an online topographical map of Connecticut: UConn Map & Geographic Information Center (MAGIC). Looks like we’re about 20 feet above sea level. The entrance gate of the campus where Tim works is about 90 feet above sea level, so we’ve decided that’s where we’ll meet. Happy for me, if driving there isn’t possible I can walk uphill to get there, or run rather, IF we ever feel the earth rumbling here. Somehow it feels better to be prepared, to have a plan.

a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam

My next post was supposed to be about furniture arrangements and home decorating, but I’ve stalled big time. I’m hoping this week will be more productive as many things are sliding here on the home-front. Had a very annoyingly busy week and then when the time finally came to get back to finish moving the furniture I became glued to the TV, trying to comprehend all that was and still is happening in Japan. Sometimes the mundane things in life start to feel pointless. But then I guess that’s the horror of it, so many people with their lives interrupted or cut short – it’s overwhelming to try to take in… I don’t know anyone there, but I know that each life lost was the most important person in the world to somebody, and for them my heart breaks.

“Japan’s recent massive earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded, appears to have moved the island by about eight feet (2.4 meters), the US Geological Survey said.”

“The quake probably shifted the position of Earth’s axis about 6.5 inches, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge.”

These numbers boggle my mind. In one sense we’re safely spinning through space on our relatively little blue spaceship, but when the planet starts readjusting itself it abruptly reminds us of how precious this life is, and how precarious in the grand scheme of things, whatever that scheme ultimately proves to be.

I feel something like a Who on the speck of dust in Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who! “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” We feel so very small in the face of this. Such a pale little blue dot, our earth. But such a cataclysmic upheaval of our big beautiful and often frightening planet.

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
~ Carl Sagan
(Pale Blue Dot)

As I’m writing this some of the lyrics of Pig, one of Dave Matthews’ older songs, one of my favorites, come back to me with added poignancy:

Isn’t it strange
How we move our lives for another day
Like skipping a beat
What if a great wave should
Wash us all away
Just thinking out loud
Don’t mean to dwell on this dying thing
But looking at blood
It’s alive right now
Deep and sweet within
Pouring through our veins
Intoxicate moving wine to tears
Drinking it deep
Then an evening spent dancing
It’s you and me
This love will open our world
From the dark side we can see a glow of something bright
There’s much more than we see here
Don’t burn the day away
~ Dave Matthews
♫ (Pig) ♫

All we have is this moment.  Let us not burn our days away…


Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson

So asked Emily Dickinson…

My original plans for this day were canceled due to very high humidity. So I decided to use the day to play with the appearance of this blog. Once I got started it turned into something of a major renovation. First I tried the new theme, Koi, with my background, but it just didn’t feel right. Finally decided to use Structure, again, the same theme I used for my family history and quote collection sites. I might as well…

I like Structure’s fonts and the ability to add a custom background. And the wide-screen! (Pure white computer screens are hard on my eyes, and if I’m not careful the glare can trigger a migraine.) It was wonderful spending hours on end creating a new home for my blog!

Treated myself to some freshly brewed iced tea, and put it in one of the thick blue hand blown glass goblets we bought in Provincetown several years ago. (Hadn’t used them in a long while…)

At quarter to two I didn’t notice anything different, nor did anyone else down here on the Connecticut coastline. But an hour inland they felt an earthquake that was 5.0 magnitude on the border of Ontario and Quebec.

Everything is not quite done – still working on the “about me” page. That’s the toughest one. Am I somebody? But dear Emily’s words make me smile and keep on going…

Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #260)