Last Sunday morning, August 9, began much as my Sunday mornings have since the beginning of COVID-19.   No longer able to attend church, I had just gotten back in bed with my cup of coffee, ready to do my devotions.  I was just a bit chilly, so I thought I might as well turn the air conditioner up a couple of degrees.  That I did, and had just re-settled in bed.

I heard a noise that resembled the sound my washing machine makes when it’s unbalanced.  I thought, as I was sipping my coffee, “I don’t have anything in the washer.  I hope my HVAC isn’t getting ready to act up.” 

I then could feel the headboard of my bed bouncing against the wall.  Shortly afterward, I noticed the mattress was shaking.  I wondered if I was maybe having a stroke. 

Just as suddenly as all the noise and movement began, it ended.  I knew we’d had an earthquake and thought, “How appropriate we have an earthquake on Sunday morning, just like when Jesus arose from the dead.”  You can read the account in Matthew 28:2.

(I’ve felt tremors before, most notably during a couple of trips to California – one in San Francisco in 1996 and another in San Diego in 1997.)

When I got up to investigate for any damage, I noticed three pictures that were crooked.   The picture of the little girl and the St. Bernard has hung in my laundry room for years;  I got it at a garage sale.

The counted cross stitch picture, made and given to be my good friend and University of Tennessee graduate, Dan Gearing, was also crooked, as was the picture below it, which reminds me of a mill that once stood near our family farm. 

Nancy Jane Earnest painted this landscape, and I purchased it from Cookie McKinney when Cookie owned RSVP, a much-missed gift and home accessories shop.  The picture reminds me of a creek that flows through our family farm. The landscape, as you can probably tell, was also crooked.

I think it’s interesting that neither of my dogs, who were both outside probably attending to their toilette, made a sound.  

I believe it was in August of 2011 that the earthquake damaging the Washington Monument struck.  I had moved my mother into my house at that point, so that’s part of my point of reference.  At that time, I had 5 dogs. 

I don’t remember what time of day that earthquake struck, but it was in the daytime.  I remember I had my front door open, with the storm door locked, and there was a gentle breeze blowing.  

Sheila, my Newfoundland whom I foster-failed and to whom I was “Mom” for about  six weeks shy of 5 years, prided herself on laying in the doorway.  She needed to always know who was coming in or going out, but rarely barked.  (I think I only heard her back about 7 times.)  Shelia was extremely restless for about 30 minutes and just paced back and forth, going to the door to look outside many times.  She could not settle down and was just acting very peculiar.

Vera, whom I still have, was also inside and barked up an absolute storm about 15 minutes before the earthquake and about 15 minutes after it.  She wandered all over the house, which wasn’t (and isn’t) her pattern at all.  No matter what I did, she would not settle down.  All at once, she quit barking and settled down, like nothing was going on.

When Mama and I watched the news that night – or maybe at noon, if it happened before noon – and heard the time the earthquake struck, we immediately knew that was the reason for Sheila’s acting so out of nature for her, and for Vera’s barking.

If my other 3 dogs at the time, who were outside, barked any at all,  I do not recollect it.  And two of them were very active and loud barkers at just about anything they felt might possible need my attention.  Just an interesting observation.

Cooks know that fads and popular recipes come and go.  Years ago, among my crowd, the Earthquake Cake was very popular and made frequent appearances at pot-luck dinners, Sunday School class picnics and the like.  Even though it’s not a pretty cake, I wish I had a picture to share with you. What it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in taste, because it is absolutely delicious and easy to make. It makes its own icing, so that’s a time-saver, too.

Here’s the recipe for Earthquake Cake:

Let one cup (2 sticks) of butter and 1 package (I use the 8 ounce size) of cream cheese come to room temperature. Grease and butter a 13×9 inch pan, and preheat oven to 350.

Mix and place 1 cup shredded coconut, 1 small bag chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped nuts on the bottom of the pan. (I usually use pecans, but almonds or walnuts are also good choices.  If you don’t like nuts, or are allergic to them, they can be omitted. If you do this, however, I recommend using 2 cups of coconut OR 2 small bags of chocolate chips.)

Mix until just moistened 1 box chocolate cake mix (I prefer German chocolate, but you can’t go wrong with any choice choice) with 1/3 cup cooking oil, 3 eggs, and 1 1/3 cups of water.  Pour over the coconut, chocolate chips and nuts. 

Cream the butter and cream cheese.  (I prefer unsalted butter.)  Slowly mix in one box of confectioner’s sugar. If you have time, it helps alot to sift it first.  It works best to use a mixer for this step!  Pour over the mixture of cake mix, oil, eggs and water.  You may need to use a spoon to get it spread as evenly as possible.

Bake for 30 minutes;  test with a toothpick.  If it’s not quite set, bake for another 5 minutes.  Repeat until it’s set.  I don’t think I’ve ever had to bake this more than 50 minutes, but all ovens are different.  It’s best to test early rather than to have a burned cake.

As mentioned above, this cake ices itself and will “crack” open, thus the name. 

It is absolutely delicious!  Enjoy!

#earthquake #Matthew28:2 #DanGearing #NancyJaneEarnest #CookieMcKinney #EarthquakeCake

Copyright August 15, 2020 by Rebecca Henderson

4 thoughts on “Earthquake!

  1. Great story.  I slept through the quake. Thanks for recipe. Can’t wait to try it.Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


  2. A strange quake! We never felt it. Mark was in the shower, and I was getting ready for church about the time that it happened. But two doors down from us, our neighbor said it sounded like a bear was jumping up and down on her deck. Your recipe sounds fabulous…will have to try it!!


  3. I can just about relate to the bear……..! I’m just glad that I was awake; if it had woke me up, I’m sure I would have been terribly frightened and confused, not knowing if a burglar was in the house, etc. You will LOVE the cake. What it doesn’t have in looks, it more than makes up for in taste!


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