Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Adventures Off the Grid

It turns out that the high winds on Sunday were actually a level one hurricane - without the water. They certainly did a lot of damage to the area. We were very lucky. Several roof tiles went flying and we wound up with a lot of debris in our yard, but the major impact was the loss of electric from about 1:30 on Sunday afternoon until 8:30 this morning (Tuesday). I would like to be able to report that it was no problem for me to be without electric for a couple days - other than the loss of the food that went bad. The truth is though that it was the simple things that I missed. Being able to turn on the lights to read - or to simply find my way around the house - after the sun goes down. That was probably the biggest one. 

The first evening we sat at the dining room table, Patricia working on her 108 mala project and me trying to re-string my green adventurine malas. I think she got seven finished in the time it took me to thread my beads, reconnecting all the pieces into a single whole. Then we went to bed and read, Patricia with her little miner's lamp headband lamp and me with my book light, the cats quietly competing for the "best spot" on the bed.

Monday morning, I had to open Patricia's garage door manually, and it wouldn't close after that. I wasn't worried. We had left the garage doors open before with no trouble. We've come to trust and appreciate our neighbors, and it didn't feel like a risk. Tai Chi class was cancelled - no power at the yoga studio where I teach - so I got home early, around 5:30. I thought I would use up what I could of the food in the fridge and make a large dinner with enough to share with Patricia when she got home later. The pasta was just about done when I looked out the window and thought I was someone pushing a shopping cart into our garage. I checked the time - three minutes before I had to pull the macaroni out of the water - and headed out the back door. 

Standing in the middle of the garage floor was a Kroger's shopping cart, being loaded up by a fat, middle-aged, white male in shorts and a white t-shirt. I asked him what he thought he was doing in our garage and got no answer. I asked him for his ID and he claimed not to have any. When I asked where he lived, he claimed to live on down the street on Graselli. He said his name was Jim and his breath smelled like cheap alcohol. I asked if he had already made other trips with the cart and he said no. It hit me that I had pasta ready to pull off the stove so I told him to go home and I would be calling the cops. I just wanted him off our property. I headed back to the house, turning to watch him push his, now empty, cart on down the street. 

I had just finished putting dinner together when I noticed blue & white flashing lights out back and watched two police cars pull to the curb. I went out to see if I could report the fellow with the cart. When I got to the car, it turned out that they had been called by our neighbors in the apartment house across the street when they saw me confront the fellow in our garage. Then another one of the neighbors said he knew who the guy was and where he lived. He offered to show the officers and they left together. 

A little while later, I was sitting on the front porch, eating my half of the dinner I had made directly from the casserole dish while waiting for the cops to return. They came back with the guy in the back seat and asked me to identify him - which I did - and then showed me the weed trimmer and hedge trimmer in the trunk and asked if they were mine. I said they were and they asked if there was anything else missing. I had already told them that Patricia is the detail oriented one, but I went into the garage and looked around with a flashlight, before coming back just in time for Patty to drive up. Together we drove to the guy's apartment and collected a number of other items he had made off with, including an old TV that had been there when we bought the house and one of my grippo boxes full of old collectible (I hope) comic books. 

There were more details, but I think that's enough for now. It's good to have the lights back on. Good to be able to catch up on email - and blog entries. And it's good to know my neighbors keep an eye on things.