Shaken, Not Stirred

All right already, so it takes an earthquake to get me out of bed. After 10 days nursing the flu, I wake up to my house rolling one way, then rocking the other. The earth is jolting and roaring. My bedroom is upstairs where there is extra sway. The door to my upper deck has blown open and I see transformers are exploding in the neighborhood, filling my room with an eerie blue light. Pictures, candelabras, and vases are falling off mantels and shelves, crashing onto furniture and the brick hearth, pottery breaking and glass shattering. I think: aren’t you supposed to get out of bed and lie right next to it on the floor during an earthquake, and then I think: screw that, I have an angel framed mirror that weighs a ton right next to me that could take me out or an eight foot armoire that could tumble and kill me. If I’m going to die, it’s going to be in my bed hiding under my down comforter between soft white sheets. I want to be comfortable when my time comes.

It lasts nearly a minute, which is an eternity, especially with everything in slow motion, but it gives me time to be grateful that I don’t live in the Middle East, that it’s not a bomb, and that I’m on the upper floor if my house has a mind to collapse. Then it stops, and it’s now eerily quiet. This may be the most rattled I’ve ever been. I didn’t think I was going to die, but I also thought my house could very well come tumbling down. Feeling my way in the dark, naked and barefoot, I close the door to my deck, just missing the glass shards all over the floor. I find my cell phone to see what time it is: 3:23 a.m. I crawl back into bed and text my kids and friends to see if they’re okay. I can’t email on my phone—well I probably could if I could figure out how to set it up—but it dawns on me I can get Facebook. It was comforting. I didn’t feel like I was by myself; everyone on there was all right and checking in with each other. I also could get the news: it was a 6.0 between Napa and American Canyon, power outages, roads closed, the strongest earthquake in this area in 25 years. Facebook is pretty amazing in an emergency.

By morning my phone battery was low. My power was still out so I tried charging it in my car without the engine on. Supposedly that works in some cases. Not in mine. I thought about turning on the engine but I couldn’t open the automatic garage door. There’s this red cord I could pull, but then I was afraid I couldn’t close it. And if I ran the engine in the closed garage, people might have thought I’d killed myself on purpose because my older son went ahead and had my birthday party without me two days ago, and my younger son who forgot my birthday altogether, also didn’t return my text or phone call when I checked to see if he and his wife were okay. When I tried him again about 10:00, Jon was driving around trying to find coffee and something for breakfast. I asked out of curiosity if it had occurred to him to check to see if I was alright. He said no, actually, it hadn’t. I didn’t bother to tell him I’d also noticed he hadn’t called to see how I was or if I needed anything while I was sick. I suppose because we live less than a mile away from one another that would be superfluous. I knew Matt and his family were alright because Brooke texted me back. I should have had girls.

Were these boys raised by wolves? Were they carried by crack-head mothers and then switched on me at birth in the hospital? Or are they simply brain dead? That must be it. Which means it’s my fault. I should have never dropped acid in the 60s. It genetically damaged both of them.

I drove to my office to see how it fared. A little tumbled, but fine. Most of us in Sonoma were lucky, some had more damage than others, but apparently nothing major. I’m grateful that we are all safe and no one was hurt; compared to so many of the major earthquakes occurring all over the world, this one was no great shakes. Besides, we need a good shaking once in a while to remind us how precious our time on this earth is. This one caught my attention.

I posted the above on FACEBOOK the day of the earthquake, August 24, 2014, and here are the responses:

Matt Sevenau (my son) Was there an earthquake last night? Nice to know you’re feeling better. Must be that $80 chocolate birthday cake that fixed you all up. We will find a nice home for you when the time comes as Alzheimer’s seems to be setting in rapidly for you.
August 24 at 4:48pm

Karen Love this Cathy, and Matthew behave yourself and go over to your Mothers and give her a piece of her birthday cake. The least you could do!!!!!
August 24 at 4:48pm

Catherine Sevenau He did bring me cake. He didn’t bring me any dinner, but he did bring me cake… on a drive by fruiting. I mean, I’ve been sick in bed for over a week, why would he think I’d be hungry. Maybe he thinks I live on air and light alone. Maybe he thinks fish and loaves miraculously appear in my refrigerator. Maybe he’s an idiot.
August 24 at 4:50pm

Matt Sevenau Already hand delivered Karen, on Friday night. She ate the whole thing and now the caffeine is taking over.
August 24 at 4:50pm

Shawnda Son #1 (27yo): He texted at 10:15: “did you guys feel that?” I call him back – I’m 10 seconds into describing the horror and he says “um, can I call you back – I’m busy right now.” Son #2 (26yo): I texted early this morning to say: “if you hear about an earthquake up here, just want you to know we’re ok.” He called at 1:39pm. Son #3 (15yo): slept through the whole thing. So, I think you need to have another son. After all, 3 is the magic number.
August 24 at 4:50pm

Catherine Sevenau Three boys??? I’d have to hang myself.
August 24 at 4:53pm

Matt Sevenau Better than 5 moms!!!
August 24 at 4:53pm

Catherine Sevenau That’s your father’s doing, not mine.
August 24 at 4:54pm

Matt Sevenau Glad all is well with your home mom. We could use a little help around here cleaning up if you’re not too busy.10429395_732585860146324_1855922289441659151_n
Matt  posts a photo of a house completely collapsed (not his).
August 24 at 5:10pm

Catherine Sevenau Yikes, is this in Sonoma?
August 24 at 5:10pm

Matt Sevenau My house. Thanks for checking in…
August 24 at 5:11pm

Catherine Sevenau Oh quit trying to make my friends feel sorry for you, it is pathetic. You really should have brought me dinner on my birthday you know.
August 24 at 5:13pm

Matt Sevenau They were my friends first!
August 24 at 5:14pm

Catherine Sevenau Not any more…
August 24 at 5:16pm

Matt Sevenau Just a couple more bricks to go and I think I’ll get the kids out okay. Don’t fret we will be fine.10473641_732588170146093_3113080905362501424_n
Matt posts a second photo of a whole block (in another town) completely demolished.
August 24 at 5:16pm

Catherine Sevenau OMG, you ARE pathetic.
August 24 at 5:17pm

Jerry This is too funny !!
August 24 at 5:30pm

Sheila Very funny!
August 24 at 5:51pm

Catherine Clemens Sevenau There’s a lot more I could write, but they’d come after me.
August 24 at 5:55pm

Matt Sevenau They won’t come after you. Sonoma Developmental Center is not adding new patients.
August 24 at 5:57pm

Catherine Sevenau Jon always said he’d put me in a GOOD home. And I wasn’t referring to the royal “they.” I was referring to my family, of which you were once a part.
August 24 at 5:58pm

Tina I love you Catherine Sevenau!!! Happy belated, glad ur alright and glad ur recovering from ur flu. I always enjoy reading ur writing. See u this week. Xoxo
August 24 at 6:03pm

Lynn My oldest daughter keeps telling me I can go live with my youngest daughter in New York… high end Long Island – btw – in her basement with the door locked. Don’t you love how our kids are so concerned and caring?
August 24 at 6:30pm

Catherine Sevenau brats, I say, goddam little brats
August 24 at 6:31pm

Lynn What worries me most is that we raised them….wtf???
August 24 at 6:32pm

Melissa Matt Sevenau, too funny. Jon Sevenau, staying silent… there is wisdom in that. Love you all. Happy belated birthday, glad you are feeling better.
August 24 at 7:04pm

Matt Sevenau Update: my children just got pulled out of rubble and both will most likely live. Son Satchel just came out of coma and asked how his Oma fared. I let him know that I think she will be okay once she gets the art work on walls straightened out.
August 24 at 7:12pm

Elaine Too funny!
August 24 at 7:17pm

Catherine Sevenau Don’t encourage him. At least my grandson asked about me.
August 24 at 7:17pm

Paul Ah, life in the Napa Valley.
August 24 at 7:17pm

Catherine Sevenau We live in Sonoma Valley you ding dong.
August 24 at 7:18pm

Leslie Funny and so true about the texting Moms. My sympathy and it’s shared, now I know I’m not alone. Thank you Catherine for the wonderful story!
August 24 at 7:18pm

Matt Sevenau Six injured in Napa and only one injured in Sonoma. I do believe Catherine is now in stable condition and all is well for today.
August 24 at 7:26pm

Catherine Sevenau Actually, I just cut the crap out of my finger dumping glass. My grandchildren will love the war wound. My children won’t care.
August 24 at 7:28pm

Matt Sevenau Proof!
Matt posts a screen shot of my earthquake “are you okay” text
August 24 at 7:33pm

Catherine Sevenau Proof schmoof. I don’t see your name anywhere on this text, other than me addressing you at the very top. Brooke is who responded to my, “You okay?” I like her way better than you. She is also the one that took care of arranging my birthday party (you know, the one you had without me) and ordering the cake. However, yes, you did hand it to me out the window of your car as you drove by on your way to the game. I’ve had it for dinner, breakfast and lunch. I need to eat something else before I go into a diabetic coma.
August 24 at 7:42pm

Matt Sevenau That was me texting you on her phone since she was on mine calling 911. Once we knew you were safe we could then dig for children.
August 24 at 7:45pm

Catherine Sevenau You’re going to hell you know.
August 24 at 7:46pm

Laura Shame on you Matt Sevenau and Jon Sevenau – you need to check on your mother!!! Glad you’re ok Cath!
August 24 at 7:48pm

Marsha LOL!!! Catherine, you have an interesting, and I’m sure challenging, family! I thought mine was odd… you win!
August 24 at 7:54pm

Catherine Sevenau You have no idea, no idea…
August 24 at 7:54pm

Matt Sevenau Late morning phone call follow up after early morning text. Just ordered lifetime supply of ginko biloba for next years birthday present.
Matt Posts a screen shot of his phone proving he called me.
August 24 at 7:55pm

Catherine Sevenau I never said you didn’t call me, I said your brother didn’t call me. Besides, you didn’t call to see how I was, you called because you had a question about real estate. Now leave me alone. I notice he hasn’t chimed in on either this thread or my party thread. Smart boy.
August 24 at 7:57pm

Judy HAHAHAHAH. PEED AGAIN!! you guys killin me. Cath, once I was at the farmers market with heat stroke. I called my son John and said YOU HAVE TO COME DOWN HERE AND HELP ME. IM GOING TO PASS OUT. He says, “who is this?” HAHAHAH. I give up!! Gotta love em! Who else would!!
August 24 at 7:57pm

Catherine Sevenau Their wives.
August 24 at 7:57pm

Judy Blame it on their dad, works every time. Haha
August 24 at 8:02pm

Catherine Sevenau Oh, you mean the one with the five wives? That would be too easy.
August 24 at 8:02pm

Patricia That’s the way boys are… your story was a great read.
August 24 at 8:17pm

Irene Yep… sounds like you should have had girls!! Happy you are all safe. Do you remember the earthquake in 1968-69. Scary… but you make it through.
August 24 at 8:36pm

Catherine Sevenau Yes, It was in early October of 1969. I was six months pregnant with Matt, living on St. Helena Ave. in Santa Rosa. It threw me from the bathroom into the living room. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with him. Bob worked for Safeway in Sonoma at the time.
August 24 at 8:38pm

Matt Sevenau Ahhh, the summer of love…
August 24 at 8:59pm

Julie I’m still laughing… at least you raised him to be funny.
August 24 at 9:35pm

Susan The exploding transformers were the highlight of the show, let’s not do that again for another 20 years!
August 24 at 10:22pm

Becca I’ll be first in line for the Sevenau Comedy Hour on KSVY! You guys are good–sharp, funny, quick. And Catherine Clemens Sevenau, we mothers are with you, still waiting for that text . . .
August 25 at 8:18am

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