Shake and Shimmy~East Bay / Oakland 6.1 Quake.

This morning’s 6.1 quake was the strongest I’ve felt in my 12 years living in Oakland. More than the usual light shakers and tremblers, this lasted longer: 7-8 seconds of movement, and was more intense. The house moved sideways and back, over and over, as if someone was trying to push it in one direction, only to have it roll back; like trying to push a house onto a trailer. The dogs went crazy, startled awake in the dark, seeing nothing they ran to doors, jumped up on beds to gain vantage, to protect us. But they were scared. The first response: comforting them, all the while wondering if a bigger one would follow this set of small waves.

This kind of movement is consistent with my last post about Earthquake readiness.  For some quakes along the East Bay faults, like our Hayward Fault, seismic energy runs horizontally, due to the bedrock substrates- so say geologists. Many places along the SF San Andreas Fault have a type of bedrock that transports shock waves vertically, so you would fall trying to walk during a tremor. For many quakes in the East Bay, you would sway from the side to side movement.

The media  is telling us this maybe the first wave, the ‘sleeper hit’ that preludes the ‘big one’ predicted to occur within a week. Ha! Hard to say if this is meaningful geologic logic, or media sensationalism. Unfortunately, it is true that many of the East Bay faults, like the Hayward Fault, are overdue for a large release;  it’s been over 130 years since the last one on this fault line. So I welcome these little shimmies, shakes, and shudders, and I hope that we have enough small tremors and quakes to add up to a significant release of energy- with a minimum of harm to people and property, of course.

This kind of activity always makes us think of the emergency plans we are supposed to all have in place in CA. We do the usual now; check emergency kits: flashlights, batteries, candles, fresh water, radios, blankets, propane tanks, emergency shut off gas valves and wrenches. We remind ourselves of the first contacts on the family/friends call list, posted inside the pantry, and the first call or text we hope to get the opportunity to make, before cell tower circuits overload and shut down.

The first call/text you make in a disaster of any kind- is an important topic. Judging from past catastrophes, time is always a factor.  With only cell phones and no land lines in most homes these days- options are further limited and timed. If you can only make one call, to whom should it be? Mos def someone who will help get the word out to everyone in your clan, yes? We decided that it should be someone fairly savvy with texting. And if local cell towers are damaged, each one of us in our house needs one person outside the area whom we can mutually reach, in case we cannot reach each other. They say that calls outside the area can be easier to make than call across the Bay- if local cell towers are down.

For the first time, today, we talked about what we should say: if you only have a few seconds; tell your condition and location. Something like “We’re on the 880 between San Jose and Oakland, caught in traffic, but fine,” works. Since Boy beast works in SF and I work in Oakland, the status of a bridge can mean everything, as we all know.

Speaking of bridges, with our new retrofitted Bay Bridge, I am counting on a better outcome with this bridge, than with the last one during the big ’89 Bay quake the Loma Prieta. So, how does one go about ‘retrofitting’ a bridge with shears, baffles, and shock absorbers to make it ready for action for “the big one”? Here is a glimpse of the engineering and construction that took place over the last 11 years, to earthquake retrofit the new Bay Bridge linking SF and Oakland. I think it’s kinda cool. Just click on the map to enlarge. Source: BA News Group & CalTrans.

Bay Bridge-New contruction graphic- BANG 9-1MED

Pardon My Spring: Beauty with a Cost

Yes, I do feel a tinge of guilt, seeing my friends in the Midwest and East Coast regions experiencing this….

I started to call this post “Pardon my Spring: or Don’t Hate Me ‘Cause I’m Warm and Beautiful”; but that seemed a bit obnoxious.  Yes, I do feel a tinge of guilt, seeing my friends in the Midwest and East Coast regions  experiencing this:


chi-ugc-North Ave. Beach-chicago-below-zero-2014-01-29Chicago

Marinas ChicagoSource


chi-ugc-photo-icy-flying into Nashville-2014-02-05 Source for 1st & 3rd, 4th photos.

…when we on the Pacific side, Oakland, SF Bay CA are experiencing this:



~ 60 deg. F, and a Spring that started in January.

But all this beauty has come at an ugly price: for the first time in my lifetime, we’ve experienced a Winter with no rain. Our two small drizzles brought us this early Spring, yes, but they have also left us 90% below normal rainfall. Our ground water reserves are unreplenished, reservoirs are at 30%, and everyone is bracing for a busy fire season.  River levels for our salmon are at all time lows, and Central Valley fields lie fallow. Gov. Brown has declared all of the state a drought zone, and Obama brought emergency funds for farmers- on Valentines Day.  As a former fisheries biologist, I worry about the fish: no one has come to their aid. So our salmon runs will likely be badly reduced for the next 4 years.

But we’ll take this embarrassing blush of beauty while it lasts. 

flowers0922Tulip Trees

If you are in the cold dead zone of Winter, come out and spend some sunny warm days on the West Coast. Oakland was voted top 10 US cities to come visit. 😉

Either way, Warm thoughts to our frigid friends to the East; hang in there- your Spring will come soon!

The Tree of Life and Death- Day of the Dead Exhibit, Oakland Art Museum

What makes Oakland’s Day of the Dead exhibit special this year, is the depth of its symbolic presentation; overlapping the Day of the Dead traditions we now know, with the early, Meso-American symbolism and rituals of the first cultures- highlighting the Tree of Life and Death.


Last weekend’s festivities- Food, music, masks, and special exhibits at Oakland’s Museum of CA.

Dod-3612Much of it still going on.  This is my favorite mask from Etsy artisan MasqueFaire.

What makes this year’s exhibit special, is the symbolic presentation; overlapping the Day of the Dead traditions we know now, with the early, pre-hispanic symbolism and rituals of the first cultures- highlighting the Tree of Life and Death.

The first MesoAmerican Day of the Dead rituals, held in August and September, coincided with seasons, harvest rites, and the return of La Monarcha who carried souls back to loved ones.  Before the Europeans changed the date to coincide with their calendar, Dia de Los Muertos celebrated the natural cycles linking man with nature.

Tree of Life and Death, complete, sacred, essential-

trunk standing firm on land, limbs skyward, branches

touching heaven, roots fearlessly growing into darkness, detritus, death~

connecting man with both realms~ underworld and divinity alike.

man today with his ancestors past…


Day of the Dead was an agricultural celebration, and one recognizing the center of the life: “Axis Mundi; life-giving force at the center of the universe…”   The tree held not only the power of the life force for man within its column, but also the cause of cycles (time), and what was born of them: the movement of stars, moon, sun.


DodAztec3705And to show the natural cycles of life and death together in partnership, this Dia de los Muertos exhibit is nested in the natural history wing of the museo- alongside stuffed bears and unearthed dinosaurs.  It is very comforting actually, to find myself standing firm, tierra firma, beside trees, or grinding masa for tortillas outside, or dancing to musica in the corridors… This is a great show, with lots of activities for kids; going on through Dec. 8th.  There is more-the first accounts of Aztec festivities, tree rituals in four quadrants, as documented by the Spanish… Go see!


Inspired in Oakland ~ Dancers by the Lake

On our bikes headed home, we happen upon this fun dance and drum troupe at Lake Merritt. The crowd gathers…

On our bikes headed home, we happen upon this fun dance and drum troupe at Lake Merritt. The crowd gathers…



Not sure the cultural bent of these wonderful dances and music; the lyrics sounded Spanish, rhythms; African-Caribbean- mambo plus. This in itself is Oakland; a multi-cultured blend. The singers sang and called out, the dancer- moved in response, large flowing skirts and fluid moves- beautiful.


Lost and Found in Oakland

New pit mix puppy!!


Meet Chula.   My new exercise buddy and heart-throb.

She’s about 6 mos old.   A week before I got her, she was found wandering the heart of pit fighting territory in Oakland, sad, skittish, and searching the gutter for food.  The girl driving by – stopped, watched her and decided she was a good one to grab.  The rest is just uncanny synchronicity, universe-working-to-hook-us-up kinda’ magic.   She called me! “I hear you’re looking for a dog?”

I didn’t want a pit. Or a female. Or a puppy.  But this creatura, with her kisses & obviously giant heart, won me over.

She’s very nervous around pretty much everything.  I don’t think her Karma was so good before.  But Chula’s got luck and love in her corner now, so I hope she will relax and chill and start acting like she owns the place.   Despite her puppyness,  yes G, she is living up to her name.  😉


In the Key of W


in the key of Wind.   

The orchestra serenades

bringing the girl 

from Ipanema all the way

across the salty

lake and through 



c. Tara Linda

Small Stones-  observations in the moment

On some days the Oakland Symphony rehearses on the gazebo of Lake Merritt, a few miles away.  I remember this only when happening upon them when walking.  Today, it’s very windy. Their music fills the house.