Living in California comes with certain risks, much like anywhere else I suppose. Lately fires have been plentiful. The dry weather and lots of fuel, in combination with some very sick people who like to play with fire, make for a volatile situation. We have been very fortunate in that the fires have not gotten close enough to us to cause damage. Oh, we have seen them, make no mistake about that. In October of 2003, a huge fire swept through the hills above our house. We have moved since then but have already seen fires in the mountains above our current home. These pictures show the '03 fire and the satellite pictures of the smoke plume. The fires, of course, are bad enough, but the days of thick smoke-filled air afterward are just awful. Believe it or not, but I've actually seen folks out jogging in air so bad that it makes your lungs hurt just sitting still.
After the fires, come the rains and the flooding that takes place where the fires have burned. We are currently in that mode, having had three storms in three weeks.
But while these seasons are predictable, and run their course and finally end, earthquakes are a possibility in any season, weather or time of day. I was reminded of this at about 4 AM today when we got hit with a nice little shaker. I was already awake, pondering whether I wanted to go work outside in the pouring rain, when the rumbling started. The bed shook for a bit and then BANG, a short hard shake, followed by some more rumbling slowly tapering off. First good quake for this house since it was built. Seems to have survived okay. I was most worried about the concrete tile roof. While this roof provides excellent fire protection, it is very heavy. I need to go outside and slog around in the rain and see if any dislodged. Maybe later.
My kids (no longer little ones at 18 and 19) take the quakes in stride. I remember my daughter being wide eyed at her first one, then smiling and saying, "Make the earth shake again, Daddy." From that day on she referred to them as "earth shakes". It was almost as if it was a ride at Disneyland. On the other hand, during a visit to the northeast (where I grew up), she was quite terrified of the frequent electrical storms.
I have a strange, fatalistic feeling about earthquakes. I mean, with a fire, maybe you could stop it by hosing down your roof, or at the very least loading up your valuables in your car and hightailing it out of there. With an earthquake there just isn't much you can do. It's usually over before you can even get moving to protect yourself. So you just sit there and ride it out and hope for the best.