Sunday, September 14, 2014

Holding tight

It’s been more than three weeks since Napa’s earthquake but I’m still discombobulated. Like most of us, I’m convinced every creak or crack in the house is the next you-know-what. I wake up at night and blame it on imagined — or real — aftershocks.
The books are back on the shelves next to the bed but I still eye them when I go to bed and imagine them toppling during the next quake — and we all know there will be a “next” quake.
We also now know that we happen to live on a newly discovered fault that pretty much runs right through our neighborhood in west Napa. Congratulations, neighbors. We hit the seismic jackpot (three tumbling rocks in a row?) and have the broken dishes to prove it.
Earthquake insurance is looking better and better, isn’t it? From what I know, earthquake insurance usually pays off only when your house pretty much falls into a million pieces. But it might be better than nothing. We’d be covered. For total destruction.
Then again, if there’s total destruction in Napa, I have a feeling that earthquake insurance is going to be the least of our worries.
I’ll cling to anything that gives me a sense of control at this point. California Earthquake Authority — give me a call. We’re all yours.
Last weekend, my husband ordered all sorts of nifty earthquake safety gadgets like TV screen holders, LED flashlights and furniture straps. Why not tether down every piece of furniture we have? Someone should invent people-sized Lego furniture and flooring. Have you ever tried prying apart two tiny Lego pieces? Pretty much impossible. On Aug. 24, throughout Napa, entire kitchens and collections of knickknacks were smashed to smithereens but those Lego Harry Potter castles and Star Wars models? Solid as a rock.
My parents’ kitchen in Napa came with those earthquake-proof cabinet latches that we always fumble to pry open. Pre-quake, I always thought of them as so inconvenient. Today? Genius.
Thanks to those dorky catches, my parents didn’t lose any dishes on Aug. 24. At our kitchen, with cabinets that swing wide open, we lost most of ours.
After seeing the remnants of our kitchen, the day after the quake my mom brought over an extra set of dishes for us to borrow. I looked at them glumly and left them on the dining room table. Why put dishes into cupboards that are obviously so not earthquake-safe?
Then, last week, my in-laws sent us a set of new dishes, an early 25-year wedding anniversary gift.
I almost don’t want to put them away, said my husband. I’m afraid we’d be asking for it.
A few days later, he installed magnetic latches on our kitchen cupboards. Now every time I go to open the cabinet, I feel like I’m in a tug of war with a piece of laminated plywood.
Now let’s unpack the new dishes, my husband said.
We opened the boxes. We put the new plates away.
I’m hoping they’ll last at least 25 years.

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