I left the building. Wasn't sure about coming back. But here I am. Not much has changed and yet, everything has changed.
Firstly, we have endured more than 7,000 aftershocks since 4 September 2010. You become so used to them in a way, you don't always take the time to be good to yourself - to acknowledge the enormous impact it has had on our lives, that it continues to have on our lives.
On Monday 13 June we experienced a M5.7 aftershock around 1pm. I rang the girls' school. All fine. More breakages, but everyone safe. One hour later, a terrifying 6.3 hit - just like February 22.
Master S was asleep in his cot. I could not run the short distance from the kitchen to his room without bouncing off the walls of the hallway and dodging flying objects.
You see the thing about all these damn quakes is, because we are on a bed of volcanic rock interspersed with marshland, when the ground breaks and rorts, it explodes with tremendous force. So a relatively medium quake on the Richter scale (a 5 to a 6) is experienced as something much larger. Ground acceleration is the key. When the quakes come, the ground is moving at 2 x gravity both vertically and horizontally at the same time. Depending on the expert quoted, this is globally unprecedented in terms of recorded data. All I know is it makes for one hell of a ride.
And this one tapped into everyone's primal fear - that they get bigger.
Miss E, our little five-year old, who is struggling with the aftershocks, was so scared by the 6.3, she wet herself at school, while assembled with the other children like sardines on the astro-turf evacuation point after the first jolt. She was completely beside herself with fear and humiliation by the time Mr T arrived to sweep them up and home.
Although it has to be said, the school (all schools) are doing a magnificent job of caring for our children. And of course many teachers have school-aged children of their own. That they continue to put your child first in moments of absolute chaos is nothing short of amazing. Gratitude seems entirely inadequate.
Unbelievably, our 100-year old house takes the strain, although the tell-tale signs are everywhere; like ladder-runs in a stocking, the ceiling and wall cracks have gone viral. In some places, the house has shaken so violently, exterior paint has simply fallen off.
On the small side-board in the dining room is a collection of all the ornaments and photos etc. we have left.
This cupboard was (rather stupidly, as it happens) in the dining-room filled with stem-ware: champagne flutes, red and white wine glasses, shot glasses, sherry and port glasses - even amazing martini glasses gifted to my parents on their wedding day. It fell over in February, smashing into the dining table. Every single piece broke. It has since been moved to the hallway and filled with the children's games and puzzles.
In some sort of desperate attempt to put things right, I have been working on the garden; re-landscaping an area off the front veranda to accommodate the bricks from our dismantled chimneys, and to create a new courtyard space for the family to enjoy.
Here's an indication of the new planting. (The bricklaying is not finished, so I've concentrated on the new garden bed that went in Thursday.) The buxus cones are surrounded by buxus hedging plants to make squares, and on the veranda side of the tucreum too. The roses and lavendar in front of the bay window have just been pruned for winter.
I cannot recommend Debbie Rimmer Landscape Design and Linda and Matt of Sprout Garden Services highly enough. They understand the need to tend what you can, while the glaringly obvious waits for another day, when the shocks have abated.
There was other, more devastating news on Monday 13. But that's for another post. Tonight I'm off to my second cousin's 21st party.