Duck and Cover



I haven’t done the earthquake jitterbug since 1983 when I was on the second floor of the old Emmett High School. The instructions drilled in my head back then (for air raids as well as earthquakes) were duck and cover, but I didn’t have anywhere to duck and school desks weren’t much good for cover, so I stood in the doorjamb, hoping the building didn’t collapse above or below me. I am here today because it didn’t.


Flash forward to this week. Because I’m still under house arrest, I was home and had just frosted a chocolate cake for my neighbor’s 80th birthday when the earth started to dance, but the words “duck and cover” screamed back at me the second I felt the ground move in Idaho’s surprising 6.5 quake. I hightailed it to the nearest doorway, which was in my bedroom, and held on for dear life. After all, the doorjamb worked then, why wouldn’t it work now?


The problem: I have a very large metal star attached to the wall leading to my bedroom. And, by large, I mean an eight-point star that is 8 x10 feet and weighs over 100 pounds. It took three people and three ladders to hang it. But it’s shiny and pretty and fills up the wall of my vaulted ceiling in my living room.


For those brief seconds, that seemed like hours, the walls, the windows, and the floor waved at me, but then I heard a clanging noise above me. I rolled my eyes upward and saw the star pounding against the wall, trying to escape the fasteners that held it in place. It had its eye focused on me, ready to impale. Then the shaking stopped as quickly as it started. Recalling the “duck and cover” rules, I stepped forward ignoring the possibly pending impalement, wondering where I could go, when the star plummeted to the floor, impaling my neighbor’s cake. Thank heaven it didn’t skewer me!


I knew there would be aftershocks, so in the 30-second reprieve, I ducked and covered correctly. I ducked into the bathroom, dove behind the toilet, and covered myself with my Costco stash of toilet paper. Luckily, I wasn’t harmed, but now, I have to bake another chocolate cake and find three people and three ladders to reattach the star.