Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Lucky Earthquake

    Waking up on Tuesday, I could not believe how lucky I was.  The D.C. metro area in late summer is notorious for lots of humidity and soaring temperatures in August, but the forecast called for blue skies, a high in the 80s and low humidity.  Perfect for a day in the city.

    Several of my mom's friends had flown in from Montana to be part of a sit-in at the White House to stop the creation of the Keystone XL pipeline.  A supporter of the Yellowstone River and their cause, I was excited to cheer them on. Talking with activists from around the country, I was inspired by their passion and the strength of their beliefs.  Watching people who were willing to be arrested for what they believe in, who wouldn't be??   I felt so lucky to be around such amazing men and women.

You go, MWF!

     After the sit-in broke up, I decided to walk over to the Portrait Gallery, one of my favorite museums in D.C.  and that's where I experienced the East Coast quake.  Just as I was strolling through a new exhibit by Asian-American artists (with some very quirky views!) a loud rumble could be heard from below and the building began to shake.  At first, I thought that it was the Metro (subway) but then realized that it was something more than that.  A guard started shouting at everyone to exit the museum immediately, urging us all to run, and my next thought was that there had been some sort of explosion or bomb.  After quite a bit of confusion among the guards at the front entrance and a near mutiny by tourists, we were finally allowed to leave the building. 

milling around post-quake at the Portrait Museum

    Maybe it was because the ground wasn't shaking anymore and the sky was still blue.  Maybe it was because earthquakes are virtually unheard of around here so we didn't know any better.  Or maybe it was that we were just relieved that there hadn't been a bombing or explosion.  Whatever the reason, there was a calmness in the air as workers were evacuated from nearby office buildings and filled the streets.   Then,  people were able to access bits of news and information on their phones...No casualties, no major damage.  How lucky we were with this earthquake.

     As this was my first experience in an earthquake, different thoughts raced through my mind.  I hoped that nothing had fallen on my dog or cat back at home.  I hoped that family and friends in other parts of the country weren't worried and trying to get through to me as the phone systems were down.  I hoped that my car in the underground parking garage was okay.  I hoped that traffic, normally a nightmare around here, wouldn't be worse.  Quickly, I worked through each worry, though.  The pets would be fine and as soon as phones could get through, I could call a neighbor to go check on them.  The media was probably having a heyday with the quake so anyone worried about me could just turn on the television to see that everything was okay.  I have car insurance, if by some chance something had happened to the car.  And it was such a beautiful day that I could just wait out the traffic by staying in the city a bit longer.  For the third time that day, I realized how lucky I was.

     So I walked to Zorba's Cafe,

Some of the best gyros outside of Crete!
     did some browsing at Kramer's Books in Dupont Circle,

     and enjoyed some hazelnut and crema gelato at Pitango.

truly, a photo worth a thousand words!

     Returning home, the only signs of the quake were some fallen pictures frames (glass intact) and a toppled bookshelf.  Again, I had been lucky.

the aftermath of the quake at the homestead

     Thoughts of my upcoming trip to Haiti were in the back of my mind all day.  How couldn't it be?  Everyone should be able to begin each morning and end each day feeling lucky and fortunate like I did.  For the 600,000 people in Haiti still living in tents (more than half of whom are children), however, this is impossible.  A house will not fix the multitude of problems there, but it's a start.  Unfortunately, very few people there have the resources to rebuild homes.  Before the 2010 earthquake, 70% of all Haitians lived on less than $2 a day and 55% lived on less than $1 a day.  The numbers are only more dismal today. 

     So for all of you who experienced the earthquake with me and realized that we were so lucky, and for all of you who didn't experience an earthquake on Tuesday and realize that you are lucky for that, please take a couple of minutes to watch the clip below and then donate to my HFH Haiti build if you can (link on the side).


 And if you are interested in learning more about the Keystone XL Pipeline protests, go to:   and

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