On My Own

It was nearly ten in the evening when the house alarm went off with a screeching and deafening siren and a strange omnipresent male voice booming over and over, “Intruder, Intruder! Burglary! Burglary! Leave immediately! Leave immediately!”  It was the first time I had ever heard the alarm go off and I realized in an instant it was intended to scare an intruder out of his or her mind.  It worked on me.  Moments earlier, I had opened the front door to see if the dog wanted one more chance to relieve himself, forgetting that thirty minutes earlier I had succumb to my home-alone fears and turned on the alarm system that, until tonight, lay dormant.  I was at the panel in seconds, focused and determined, punching in the four digits that would shut the noise down. I then raced to my office laptop, googled Hartford Police, dialed, and slammed my words into the phone, “I’m not being robbed! 2514 Jericho Road is okay. It was my own fault!” 

Ma’am,” came a calmer voice then mine, “what is the code?” 

Code? I gave him the digits that I had punched into the panel. 

“No. Ma’am. The code.”  What? What code? I repeated the same four digits.

And he replied, “but, what is the code.”  Suddenly a secret society of some sort was forming in my mind, a society that had rules they kept to themselves, rules to make women, home alone, who accidentally set off house alarms, feel clueless and totally lost.

“I only have those four numbers, Sir. But it’s okay. I’m fine. It was my mistake,” I pleaded.  And then he said, “okay, good bye.”

I set the wireless phone down by the back door and for the first time, saw the dog.  He was at my feet, his entire body trembling violently.  I got down on the floor, stroked his back and whispered that it would be okay.  Not for him.  I know this rescue puppy has a very short “life is good” fuse.  I knelt on the floor, wrapped one arm over his back, the other between his front legs, under his chest, and pulled him tight against me, and never stopped whispering that everything was fine.  He trembled some more, than it came and went, and finally he was still. And that’s when the red flashing lights hit the back hall walls.  I’ve forgotten the officer’s name, but with introductions behind us, he explained that without the (god damn) code, they had to send a cruiser by.  In that moment it made total sense.  Without this second code to offer the dispatcher, to them I was either a heroin addict who’d broken in, beaten up the owner to get the original four digits to shut down the noise, or I was the hapless home-alone and clueless owner who had triggered the whole mess. Who’s to know?  I’m sure as he drove away he added me to his pile of countless nitwits who didn’t know their own household hardware.

My home alone adventure hasn’t been all alarm bell in nature.  With Todd off the property for six nights, I’ve shouldered sheep chores and snow management tasks.  The first day after he left, we were hit with a small snow storm accompanied by wicked 25 mph winds.  The drifting left the barn yard inaccessible.  I remain totally terrified of moving 500 pound round bales with the tractor, but I had a complete blast learning and playing with the tractor’s bucket and removed a deep and steep wall of snow all by myself. Once I’d broken through the wall I yelled to the dog, “Take a look at what I just nailed!”  I whooped it up some more and then looked around for what else I could do with the tractor.

I’ve done the chores normally handled by Todd, I’m talking to the dog more, going about my volunteer commitments, but as I write this in the middle of a second, much more severe snow storm, on day six of Todd’s ski trip out west with my brothers, I wonder, would I stay here on this hill with its magnificent views, but sometimes challenging conditions, and care for a flock of sheep all by myself? I don’t know, but I do know this Vermont sheep adventure has rocked me to the core. And, despite last night’s house alarm screw up, I personally, deeply remain, all in.  And hoping his flight doesn’t get canceled.



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