Friday, November 22, 2013

Don't be alarmed, it is only the alarm

     As many of you know, I live high on the side of a very steep
mountain.  If I am paying attention, I can hear a vehicle from the time they leave the county road and cross the stream onto my mountain access, all the way until the reach their destination somewhere either above or below me, but then, who pays attention.  Shortly after moving in here, twice I was startled to find an unexpected visitor standing at my front door.  I realized that living this deep in the woods and visually isolated from other houses (my nearest neighbor is two hundred feet above me), I needed some sort of advance warning system to alert me if someone was approaching.  To give you a little perspective, when you get to my gate, you cannot see my house, nor can I see you.  The driveway is approximately 100 yards long, has two 90 degree turns, and rises over 110 feet in height (10 stories) from the gate to the garage.
     After some careful research, I found an affordable, wireless, infrared sensor system with enough range to let me mount it on the gate post and still receive the signal up in the house. 
     It has been great.  When a repairman or the UPS driver is arriving, I know exactly when to go out to meet them.  The few times that unexpected people showed up, I knew they were on the driveway long before I could see them or they could see me.  And when my dog’s best friend, Angel, comes to visit and play, she sets off the alarm and my Sebastian jumps to window, barking his happy greetings.
     If there is a downside to the alarm at all, it is during a brief period in the afternoon when the sun shines directly on that part of the driveway.  The infrared sensor detects the warm sunlight and the slightest movement of a leaf will trip the alarm.  Over the past year, I have grown very used to that, but unfortunately Sebastian still thinks it must be Angel coming up the drive.  To calm him and get him to stop baking, I simply turn off the receiver until the Earth rotates a little further and the sunlight is no longer a problem.
     Well, I should say that was the only downside.  For the past three nights, some nocturnal animal or maybe family of animals has been playing in my driveway.  I haven’t seen them, but I have been awakened by their detected presence each night.  Whatever it or they are, the alarm does not only go off once, it trips again and again and again until I either go turn on the porch lights (which sometimes scares whatever it is away) or I turn off the alarm and lie awake worried that now I am left unprotected and you know that will be the exact time some crazed escaped murderer will walk up the mountain, bypassing all the other houses along the way, and break in my front door to get me.  No, I need the alarm active and the stupid animals gone.
     It has just occurred to me that this might be the first and only practical use for my night-vision monocular.  Yes, I really do have night-vision; it was a big boy toy that I treated myself to a few years back to watch the coyotes on the mountain behind another house I lived in.  I may have to play Navy Seals tonight and see if I can identify these varmint trespassers.
     We don’t have many of the large animals on this part of the mountain; the dogs that run free (Angel) keep the deer, catamount, and bear away.  I am sure that there are unseen raccoons and opossums frolicking with the ever-present populous of squirrels and chipmunks.  I have witnessed more than a couple of cottontail rabbits, heard turkeys, and the other day when Angel came to visit, she proved beyond all reasonable doubt, that somewhere around here there are skunks.  I didn’t let her in.   Which of these species it is that is robbing me of sleep, I have no idea, but I intend to find out.
     So here is my carefully thought out plan that I devised in the last five minutes.  I’ll stay up all night tonight, wear my fall colored camouflage pajamas (Note to self: go buy camo pj’s), paint my cheeks with black shoe polish (not the beard), about 1 a.m. sneak down to the second bend in the driveway, settle down on the concrete, remember I forgot the damn night-vision monocular, go back to the house and pour a cup of coffee to break the chill of walking around outside in my stocking feet, put on some warmer socks and my sneakers, take the coffee with me out the side door to the driveway, turn around curse my stupidity and go get the monocular, and eventually sit on the freezing concrete to spy on my little animal pests.
     Of course, once I have identified the culprits, I will have only one choice.  I gave up hunting thirty-five years ago, and I am not in favor of ever wasting a life (Well, there are a few people I wouldn’t mind… Oh, never mind), but this alarm is driving me crazy (It just now went off again!).  My only choice is to go into the closet, get a step stool, reach all the way to the top shelf in the back, and get my spare pillow to cover head while I try to sleep and hope Sebastian wakes me up when that sociopath kicks down the door.

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