Mrs Morrison's Hotel

The 100% personal official blog for Patricia Kennealy Morrison, author, Celtic priestess, retired rock critic, wife of Jim

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I was, wait, sorry, that's "David Copperfield". Anyway, I was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Long Island, went to school in upstate NY and came straight back to Manhattan to live. Never lived anywhere else. Never wanted to. Got a job as a rock journalist, in the course of which I met and married a rock star (yeah, yeah, conflict of interest, who cares). Became a priestess in a Celtic Pagan tradition, and (based on sheer longevity) one of the most senior Witches around. Began writing my Keltiad series. Wrote a memoir of my time with my beloved consort (Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison). See Favorite Books below for a big announcement...The Rennie Stride Mysteries. "There is no trick or cunning, no art or recipe, by which you can have in your writing that which you do not possess in yourself." ---Walt Whitman (Also @ and

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

Well, thank heavens, I do not, though I have in the past, but one of my MySpace friends, Princess of Chaos, did, in Illinois the other day, and (by her gracious permission) here's her report:

Just wanted to drop ya a note and tell you I was thinking of you early this morning when the earthquake rumbled here through Illinois. A 5 point something, enough to be felt here in Chicago and even up in Wisconsin too!

A couple observations I wanted to share...

My cat, Felix, who usually wakes me up to demand breakfast around 5:30, was acting up about 4:15. He was pouncing on me, jumping from my pillows to me, pillows to me, and then decided to fling his toy mouse at me while acting like a mad cat. Then he collected 3 of his favorite toys and put them next to me on the bed and continued to jump and meow and flop onto me. I kept rebuffing his attentions, pulling covers higher. Then he dove under my pillows up by my head and huddled with me and then... shake, shake, shake---the quake happened---things rattled and vibrated, etc. I sat up, looked around and said "Oh, Felix, go back to sleep. it's just an earthquake."

He stayed by me the rest of the morning...he NEVER sleeps by me in bed, he has his own little sleeping area away from "human activity". I calmly went back to sleep. Earthquakes are not a huge problem here in Chicago, so obviously a few seconds of shaking didn't rouse me to any action or alarm.

BUT...the cool thing...before I nodded off again I thought of you and "Strange Days", when you "predicted it", and wondered if you had any earthquake feelings or thoughts yesterday? Then I promptly fell back asleep for a few hours.

So two things:

1) My you think he was trying to "warn" me - his atypical behaviour being some sort of caveat to me? Or perhaps he just was scared? Or both? I remember you said in "Strange Days" the horses were skittish the day before, and I have heard stories of animals fleeing before storms, etc...

2) Last night before bed I had a weird headache and just felt weird, like something was "wrong" and I was restless and didn't want to sleep. The "E" word didn't come to me, but do you think I may have felt something was to happen but didn't know exactly what

Wow! Well, y'all have probably heard about this quake by now. It was a 5.4 or 5.2, not huge but certainly big enough to take note of, epicenter in southern Illinois, on the Wabash Extension of the New Madrid Fault.

That it was on the New Madrid line REALLY interests me, in a grim sort of way. New Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid, not ma-DRID), in Missouri, had a series of monster quakes back in 1811 and 1812. They were so huge that they were felt in Boston, and they changed the course of the Mississippi River. The biggest quakes east of the Rockies, and still hold that record.

"But, Patricia," you seismologically cognizant little devils protest, "but that area of the continent isn't REMOTELY near a plate subduction zone, like California, Alaska and the rest of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" quake areas. Why then such big quakes?"

The prevailing tectonic thinking is two-fold: first, it might be that the Farallon Plate, subducting under California (means sinking down under another plate, in this case the North American one), has by now reached the center of the continental plate, 3-6 miles down under the Midwest, and is causing the shakes.

Second, that there is a giant geological rift running through that area, like a crack in the basement of the continent, and it wants to split apart. And when it twitches, the quakes happen.

Or a combination of the two causes. But, either way, the New Madrid Fault could let go again, big time, and it could happen a thousand years from now, or it could happen tomorrow. There's no way of knowing, since there are few if any monitors and sensors set up there, unlike Hawaii or California.

The reason quakes along that fault (or along faults in the East) are felt over such a wide distance is because the rock structure in the Midwest and East is old, cold, stiff and unbroken. Whereas in California and Alaska, the rocks are newer and more pliable, so the quake energy doesn't travel as far.

As to the Princess's account, for starters, her kitty TOTALLY knew a quake was coming, and I bet she did too, hence her vague feelings of unease.

It really is a great disturbance in the Force: the electromagnetic field, at any rate. And animals, who are far more keenly attuned to the EMF than humans, sense it hours, even days, ahead.

And certainly right before it happens: before the huge quake that caused the Indonesian tsunami back in 2004, wild and working elephants alike headed up into the hills away from the beaches, hours before, and if people had been smart they would have gone along. Other critters too were reported to have behaved similarly: snakes, monkeys, dogs, cats. Follow the animals, people! They know!

Before the Sylmar quake, near LA, in 1971, the only really big quake I've ever been in (6.7 to 7.1, estimated), the horses we'd gone out to that valley to ride the day before did indeed behave in premonitory fashion, clustering together in the far field, not wanting to come to us, just acting strangely enough for me to start babbling about earthquakes. And about 15 hours later, there one was...

But sometimes humans can pick up on it too, from the unease that the Princess describes to full-fledged knowledge. I have a bit of it myself, as she mentions, and as other readers of "Strange Days" will perhaps recall: it manifests as a kind of general light nausea, like morning sickness, a vague disquiet, and a compulsive urge to talk nonstop about earthquakes, or even read books about them.

It doesn't always happen---usually only for really big quakes or for very local ones (happened in LA twice, once in Bolton, England!, couple of times here in NYC, even). (Oh yes, we have quakes here! There's active faults under the city, up the Hudson Valley---under the nuclear facility at Indian Point, even, built there by a friend's engineer brother, in fact---and all the way up the Northeast, from New Jersey to Canada).

But when it does there's ALWAYS a quake within 24 hours.

Many years ago I was following the activities of a group of fellow Mensa members, "earthquake dowsers" far more skilled and sensitive than I. These people were registered with the National Earthquake Registry or whatever it was called then, in Golden, Colorado, and when they felt something building up, they'd call in with their predictions.

Some of them were SO good they could dowse locations and Richter-scale intensity off maps, and tell you when, where and how big. And their accuracy rate was amazing.

There was also a woman, I'm not sure if she was part of that group, but she was filmed for a documentary on Mt. St. Helens, a few years after the big blow of 1980. Not only had she predicted that catastrophic eruption, but WHILE BEING FILMED, she broke off to say that she sensed another quake/eruption at the mountain happening right that moment, and when they called the observatory and time-checked her, she was absolutely right, to the second.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much point to such foreknowledge. Sure, predictions probably saved a lot of people in a big China earthquake a while back: the local authorities believed the prediction, made everybody move out of their buildings, and mere hours later, boom, along came a monster shake that could have killed hundreds of thousands but didn't, thanks to the prediction.

But this wouldn't really work for, say, L.A. or San Francisco. Where would people evacuate TO, for one thing? Eight million people out in the desert isn't gonna happen, and besides, the San Andreas, which is going to blow in Southern California pretty soon now, being almost a hundred years overdue (and the recent big quakes on nearby faults like the ones near Big Bear aren't relieving the pressure), runs right through there anyway.

So it's a conundrum. I just hope I don't pick up on any such feelings anytime soon.


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