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In order to tell you the tale of how things went to h-e-double-hockey-sticks in a handbasket, and thus prove my theorem, (that theorem being:”If a husband goes out of town, then all h-e-double-hockey-sticks WILL break loose at home.”) I first have to do a little show and tell about this:
This is Pilgrim P. Dog, my sweet potato pie, and neurotic protectress. And yes, just in case you were wondering, the “P.” stands for Pee. Not easily potty trained was she, and prone to submissive widdling in her early puppy days. So anyway, The Pee Dog is one half of ranch security around here in the Boonies, sharing her position with Deacon D. Dawg. Deacon is the elder statesman of the two, and really should be Top Dog, since he is older and was here first, but Pillie will have none of that.
|Retaliatory Peeing, aka “Anywhere You Can Pee, I Can Pee Better”|
Here they are engaged in one of their favorite activities, retaliatory peeing. This is all the more amusing to me when you consider that Pillie is a female, and females generally squat to relieve themselves. As does our Pill, except when she and Deacon are playing a little game known to them as “Anywhere You Can Pee, I Can Pee Better”. And if Pillie’s got to lift a leg to hit a spot Deakie Boy hit, Pillie will lift that leg. We have a lot of land for Ranch Security to patrol and mark, but they are up to the task.
So anyway, just after last Thanksgiving last year, Pillie had a health crisis, and was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease, which is a disease of the adrenal glands. (People get this disease, too: Jane Austen had it. President Kennedy had it.) Your adrenals make steroids that help you recover from any illness you might have. If your adrenals are diseased, it takes you longer to recover. Pillie almost died last year, and now takes drugs twice a day that keep her happy and healthy, but since she was only 6 at the time of her crisis, we just couldn’t bear the thought of losing her so young. I can honestly say that since that week where we almost lost her, I have been grateful for every day I have had with her. She makes me so happy.
Now, I told you all that to tell you this: Because Pillie has Addison’s disease, she can potentially again go into another Addisonian crisis, like she did last November. And stress is what would bring on one of these events. It could be a physical stress of her body, like getting overly tired, or too much happy emotional stress, like when we have a lot of company. I keep an eye on her more than I used to, but I’m kinda used to keeping an eye out: that’s standard equipment that comes with the “Mommy” package, wired into most females. Unfortunately for her health, Pillie is a neurotic German shepherd. And Neurotic German Shepherds have a NEED to be on patrol 24/7 – they really think it’s up to them to save the world. And so along with being hyper-vigilant, she is also easily freaked out. And beeps freak her out. That is, electronic chirps of a particular frequency scare my dog. We think it’s that they remind her of her electronic invisible fence collar. But whatever the reason, there is a certain frequency that causes her to become afraid.
Flash Forward in time from last year’s Thanksgiving Addison’s disease crisis to this year’s great husband takes a week away to go elk hunting in Colorado trip. You will recall, I was lying on my couch, watching my swollen ankle turn a spectacular array of colors, while my dear, dearer, dearest honey headed out the door. And was feeling well and truly sorry for myself. But wishing him tons of fun: honestly, he HAD to go. This trip had been planned for months, money had been spent on tags and tickets and gear and I couldn’t bear the thought of spoiling it for him. He went with my complete blessing.
What can I say? Life is complicated. Events don’t always take the course you expect them to. And then there’s that pesky theorem in regard to husband’s going out of town, which you will recall goes like this:
If a husband goes out of town, then all h-e-double-hockey-sticks WILL break loose at home.
So, my first night without him goes fine, without event. My son and my daughter were sweet as could be, waiting on me, showing respect and concern. So far, so good. On Thursday night we were all in the living room watching something on TV, and suddenly, Pillie jumped up, ears sharply at attention, head scanning the room for trouble.
“What is it Pill?”
She settles back down – only to jump up AGAIN. This time licking her lips, anxiously.
“Did you hear a chirp?” I ask my kids.
Son: “Yeah, maybe.”
Daughter: “I think it was a bird up the chimney.”
Me: “At night?”
This continues till we go upstairs to bed. Every so often we notice a chirping noise. Pillie doesn’t seem to want to sleep in her usual place: unusual, but OK. In fact, she bulls her way past me and through my door and hides in my closet, which is what she does during thunderstorms. Crud. What is wrong? I haven’t heard any thunder.
So, Pillie and I settle our heads in my room for a long autumn’s nap, which goes OK till about 3:00 in the morning. I wake up with a cold German Shepherd nose in my face. Pillie is pacing and pacing, and licking her lips, extremely anxious over what she’s hearing (that I am not – darn those German Shepherd pointy ears). I go out in the hallway, and I can hear it again. It sounds exactly like the noise that those smoke detectors make when they need their batteries changed, I am sure of it. But the funny part is: it really doesn’t sound like it’s coming from ours in the downstairs hallway. Hmmm…
I take Pillie and me into my dear husband’s workspace, where I can close off the noise, very effectively, and lie down to try and catch a few more winks in there. She settles down, curls up, and we catch a couple of hours of shut eye. But in the morning, I realize that this noise has still not stopped, and we have GOT to get to the bottom of it and stop it, or Pillie is likely to go into another Addisonian event. And I have a badly sprained ankle. Haven’t even tried to drive yet = wasn’t cleared by the doc to drive till Friday morning, which was that day. And the thought of lifting my 65lb terrified of riding in the car dog – because she gets nauseous and throws up – and getting her down the hill to the vet on my own? Stumpy is thinking she might be getting ready to have a little Addisonian crisis of her own.
So in the morning, I tell the kids: no school. We have GOT to figure out what this noise is. I am not going to my Fabulous Friday Friend’s ladies group – probably don’t need to walk that much yet anyway. But we have got to figure this out! So, we walk from room to room listening for the beep, which by this time is coming about every 20 seconds or so. It’s like chasing a ghost. Our hardwood floors cause the noise to echo up to the ceilings and bounce around. My son gets our little step ladder, and puts it in the hallway, right under the smoke alarm detector. He stands up on it, puts his hand on it, we all hear a little chirp, but it is clear to him, because he has his hand on it, that it did not come from that box. OK. But I have a couple of new 9 volt batteries, so, we change the battery anyway. He was having trouble managing things, and so, did Stumpy climb up on that ladder? Yes, she did. (Stupid!) We go upstairs, and change the smoke alarm in the hallway up there. Nope, that’s not it. Next: there’s this other round thing up there on the wall. What is that thing? The carbon monoxide detector? I’m not sure. I take the lid off. It’s sort of like the smoke alarm, but it looks different, too. Where’s the battery go in this? Not sure….Let me just pull ….THIS.
WOOOOOOO WOOOOOOOO WOOOOOOO WOOOOOOO WOOOOOOOO WOOOOOOOOOO WOOOOOOOO WOOOOOOOOO……
Apparently, I have set off the burglar alarm. Great.
Let me just try to staunch this bleeding from my eardrums….
The last time this happened, I have a vague recollection of my dear husband actually physically cutting the wires to make it stop.
Now, if you think little electronic chirps make a German Shepherd nervous, what do you think the air raid warning sirens of the London Blitz do?
I yell at my daughter to get the dogs outside. Even Mr. Mellow Deakie Boy is anxious, by this point, running for the door with his ears pinned back, and Pillie has no doubt unzipped her fur coat (being scared out of it) to streak off into the woods to get as far away from us as she can get.
We haven’t used the alarm in a while, and for all the world, my sleep deprived brain can NOT remember the code. The only thing that will come back to me is the code at my old house, and I know that’s not right. Must try SOMETHING! I hobble down the ladder WOOOOO WOOOOOO WOOOOOO and stump across the floor WOOOOO WOOOOOO WOOOOOOO. I tell my dear son to call our neighbors: maybe we have given THEM the code, and he picks up the phone and says to our neighbor’s answering machine: “Hello….Mr. B…..WOOOOO WOOOO WOOOO…this is WOOOOO WOOOOO WOOOOOO, your neighbor? We’re having WOOOOOO WOOOOOO WOOOO a little problem over here WOOOOOO WOOOOOOO WOOOOOOO. Could you give us a call WOOOOO WOOOOOO WOOOOOOOOO when you get back? WOOOOO WOOOO WOOOO
Me: “For gosh sakes, hang up the phone!” WOOOOOOOOOO WOOOOOOOO WOOOOOOO
And at that moment, I am overcome by a flash of brilliance: the CODE!!!!
I punch it in, and we are saved.
Silence falls, enveloping us like a mammoth cotton ball. And it is good.
Except for this one annoying little phantom, “Chirp!“
About this time, the phone rings. My husband, who is deep in the wilderness of Colorado, up around 10,000 feet, has found cell phone service on top of a mountain.
Him: “Hey, Baby! How’s it going?”
You really don’t want to know how the conversation ensued from that point on. But you can imagine. I tried to be gracious. Honestly, I really did.
He ran through the list of things he would do, and I had already done every one of those, on my bad ankle that I was supposed to be keeping elevated. Finally, after about 5 minutes more of conversation he said, “You might want to check the crawl space. There could be a smoke detector down there”.
The minute he said it, I KNEW that was it. It made all the puzzle pieces click into place. The chirp that we could never find, that seemed to be coming first from one room, then another, then from the hallway: that sound was traveling through the walls. That’s why we could find no other electronic device in the house that was chirping because it was out of batteries. Our crawl space I have been into one time, when we were thinking about buying the house. And crawl space is clearly a misnomer. Because our house is built on a hill, the crawl space slopes, and honestly, you could play basketball down there, with the height of the ceiling from the floor at the downhill side of the house. It is really tall.
To get to it, I would have to go outside of the house, and hike down a fairly significant hill and around to the other side of the house. Stumpy did not need to take her ankle down there. So I bid my husband goodbye, and sent the kids down there with flashlights to suss out the situation. They informed me that yes, indeed, there WAS a smoke detector down there, and it was the culprit, but it was on a beam overhead that our ladder wouldn’t reach. So, I called my lovely neighbors. (I have the best neighbors ever!) All three sets of them were gone, but I left messages, and Cathy was able to come take a look for me, and she agreed with the kids, but didn’t have a ladder tall enough herself. Finally, another neighbor, Mr. B, the one my son had called and left a message for, called and came over, and presto/chango no more chirp!!!! Blessed relief!!!
The good news? Pillie survived, and did not go into a crisis.
But, anyway, there’s my proof.
I never was much good at Geometry.