So, we were at church tonight, happily enjoying the choir's Christmas cantata, and whispering to each other about how much we were looking forward to being back in the choir ourselves after Christmas, while Bella watched the dancing angels* in wonder. About 15 minutes in, Alex's cell-phone vibrated, and it was my sister. She knew where we were, so we knew she wouldn't be calling unless she had a reason. Turns out, our home-security company had called her (why didn't they call US, by the way?) and reported an alarm at our house. Alex left at that point, opining that it was probably a false alarm, while I sat and wondered whether it was a fire or a break-in, and he got back home on the heels of Chip, Andrea, and the County Sheriff's Deputy.
Security logs show this as the likliest scenario: Someone entered the back door (no finger-pointing here regarding who left that unlocked; hint, hint) of our home--the alarm gives you 30 seconds to enter the disarm code--and then moved far enough toward the hearthroom to trigger the motion-sensors. This set the alarms wailing, which in turn sent Nefarious Intruder hastily on his way, as well as summoning police.
The good news is that the the deputy got here quickly, even before my sister and her husband, who only live 6 miles or so away. Oh, and that we are all (so far) safe and sound, and in possession of all our worldly goods (HAHAHAHA, our "expensive possessions", don'tcha know...whew!) and poodles. Nothing stolen, nothing burnt to cinders...although, Delta, the standard poodle in residence--all the others are of the miniature variety--did nearly get shot by the deputy. We usually leave her in the bathroom while we're gone, and that's where she was when the alarm went off, and where she was, um, discovered by the deputy as he was doing a gun-drawn, room-to-room check of the house. The way he put it, I believe, was, "I was a Navy S.E.A.L., but that scared the crap outta me." A big black blur of fur and teeth, bursting from behind a closed door in a potentially-intruder-occupied home in the woods will have that effect, you know. Fortunately, both Delta and the deputy exercised good split-second judgment and reflexes, and no one was injured. But guess who's going in a crate from now on? Smaller poodles were all safely secured in theirs, and going bug-nuts-bananas at all the commotion. If I were a burglar? That would be nerve-wracking, the poodle hubbub, and I would have to leave. Of course, the notion of me burgling anything is pretty hilarious in itself, as I'd have such an attack of nerves in the first minute that I'd probably manage not only to set off all alarms, but also to lock myself inside while knocking myself unconscious.
Alex had left Bella and I at church, so once the po-po was gone, he had to come back and get us. We visited for a half-hour or so with people at church (with me entertaining vivid and colorful mental vignettes featuring Nefarious Intruder hiding in our storage building or elsewhere on the property, watching the house and waiting until we left for church to break in, and/or also not fleeing the property upon the alarm sounding, but rather, hiding in wait to see how quick the response time was) after the performance, and would you like to guess what happened next? That's right, another alarm. This time, it was just the motion-sensors. Since Alex had deadbolted all the doors before coming back into town, this meant that no one had entered the house this time. I felt a momentary sense of relief as we hurried back home to silence the second alarm, thinking, "Oh, good, it was all just a problem with the alarm."
Except. The first incident included a DOOR alarm being tripped, not just the interior motion sensors. Dangit. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that, and come to a conclusion that allows me to sleep. Which, ha ha, not likely. But, the way my mind works, I didn't even consider THAT troubling fact until well after running up against the possibility that Nefarious Intruder, rather than being "frightened away" by our alarm that first time, had instead HIDDEN IN OUR HOUSE, and was waiting to messily disembowel us all upon our return. Yep, that's how I roll, inside my head. Also, I just NOW realized that an intruder could have (but obviously didn't) entered the house through a broken window, which would also account for bypassing the doors but triggering the motion-sensors.
When the security company phoned us about the second alarm, they told us they were calling the police, like they had done the first time, so we fully expected the same deputy to be waiting on us. Only he wasn't. Instead, there was...no one. At first, as we wound down the driveway toward the house, I thought his car might be parked out of sight on the other side of my truck, but it wasn't. Well, that was probably good, because this was surely a false alarm. Unless. Unless Nefarious Intruder had ambushed and dispatched the deputy, then put him in his own car and driven it out of sight, coming back to wait for us. Except Nefarious Intruder couldn't have done that, because he was still hiding in my house, with all the doors locked. Right?
DO YOU SEE the joy of being me in a crisis? Isn't there some kind of job, like a sort of actuary, in which you project potential negative scenarios for a given situation? For crisis preparedness, or some such? I should HAVE that job. I would amaze everyone.
So now, while my daughter and husband both blissfully snore, I am sitting up in bed, a rigid, tense, panic-stricken bundle of nerves, straining my ears at every noise and frantically scouring the internet for causes of false alarms. So far, the only even halfway-likely thing I've found has to do with PIR sensors and Automatic Temperature Compensation. We did build a small fire in the fireplace today, to toast marshmallows with Bella, and thought we'd doused it, but it had come back to life in our absence. Theoretically, a gust of wind could have blown down the chimney, momentarily displacing some heat from the fireplace into the cool room and creating a heat-signature "movement" that triggered the alarm. This theory would be more convincing if it were less than 70 degrees outside.
It would also help if there hadn't been that pesky DOOR alarm first and foremost. I mean, what are the odds of a "false alarm" with the motion sensor coming just an hour after a door alarm? I'm furiously searching for ANYTHING that could explain a false door-alarm, but am coming up empty-browsered. The muscles of my back, from tailbone to neck, are aching from being constantly tensed for the last three hours. When I walk, I have a stabbing pain, which Alex insists is anxiety-based, in my lower abdomen, with every step of my right foot. I've got the motion sensors set and the door to our bedroom locked--that second part is not for security, but to remind me, should I wander in the night, to disarm the sensors before stepping out the door. Every time one of the six dogs currently enjoying bedroom priveleges stirs, I jump out of my skin. There is a taser at my elbow, with which I will most likely painfully stun myself at some point during the night.
And as I'm writing, I've just thought of a small, heretofore overlooked security weakness here. Which I'm not telling, on the off-chance that Nefarious Intruder in reading this. (And, if you are, just do me a favor and leave a list of demands taped to the mailbox. Anything we own that you could possibly want, just tell me and I'll leave it by the street for you, if only you'll quit messing with my head. Also? WE ARE UPGRADING, so end your thoughts of exploiting any current "gap" in our security. This place is going TANK. Also also--just wondering--did you enter our property from the back and totally MISS the multiple large blue "Protected by BlahBlah Security Systems" signs, or did you just not believe them?)
ALLAY MY FEARS, Internets! Also, can I live with you? Insert nervous, gibbering laughter here! I am halfway to nervous breakdown over this. The adrenalin will not stop, no matter how many times Alex laughingly assures me that Gary Busey is not, in fact, holing up in our attic. I'm ready to move. Subdivisions are just not looking so bad, right now. Let's have some neighbors. NOSY neighbors! That watch your house all the time! I'm also considering adding more large poodles. Or, you know, a pair of komodo dragons. In other words, if you're coming over, CALL AHEAD.
Let me take this opportunity to thank my thoughtful mother for the gift of a security system, my priceless-beyond-words sister and her wonderful husband for dropping everything and rushing to our house even though we were only a few minutes farther away at the time, and the sharp ex-Navy S.E.A.L. (Did I mention the "Expert Marksman" medal above his badge?) sheriff's deputy who secured my house while NOT shooting my dog. I totally appreciate the tense quality of that situation, and I've had quite enough pet loss this year already.
*And now, the short post I was actually planning for tonight: Notes on a Christmas Cantata.
- It was really good. Thank you, choir!
- Seriously, there were dancing angels and shepherds. I've done a lot of public singing, and have performed in a few light opera stage productions and musicals since the age of 6. But I'm telling you, there will not come a day when I feel comfortable performing interpretive dance in front of my CHURCH. You guys who did that? PROPS TO YOU.
- Baby Jesus was played by two different actual BABIES. No one cried or even fussed. One of them slept all the way through a gorgeous, moving solo, sung by the young lady playing Mary, who was holding the baby for the whole thing.
- I wish I had a photo of the computerized sound-and-video control area, behind which I sat tonight in the balcony. Wow. Again, you people who made all that stuff work? Wow.
- Kudos to the directors for opting to use the children's choir WITHOUT the aid of taped, canned voices "assisting" them. Our kids might not have been as polished as the "pro" choir on the recording, but the raw, natural quality of those little voices more than made up, emotionally, for any small mistakes in timing or pitch.
- Again, on the dancing: Those of you who appeared on that ledge atop the baptistry? Mad respect, because had that been me, you'd have heard something like, "Glory to God in the highest, and peace--" SPLASH. Unless the baptistry was empty at the time, in which case it would have been a solid, reverberating, THUD.
- Sneaking that Easter theme into a Christmas program? Made. Me. Cry. Twice. Little warning next time before you go manipulating my emotions like that. And good job.
- I tried to leave Bella in the nursery with the other little kids for the performance, but she would not have it. "I want to hear Grandmommy sing!" And to her credit, I did not have to ferociously whisper, "Do I have to take you out of here?" until the very last song. Good job, Littlun.
- Thanks to Mr. Dan for calling to check up on the status of our break-in. When Alex hung up the phone, I said, "I LOVE HIM." And I do.
- As a matter of fact, I love my church family. A person's spirituality, and personal relationship with God, is absolutely individual, unique, and intimate. But if you manage to find a comfortable, edifying, enriching and fulfilling church home, it can only nurture that personal relationship. It's your treasure on earth, and I have a renewed appreciation tonight for my treasure. Thank you all.