so today . . . we are back home. normally i would say we are back home in sunny southern california. but today we are back home in wet and slightly rainy southern california.
i don't know what happened to the sunshine! it was here when we left a week ago--and now it is gone. i blame the oregon ducks fans. they are all on their way down here for the rose bowl--and by the profusion of car flags and decals and pompoms sticking out of their trunks, they are darn proud of it!! but you know, ducks need rain . . .
anyway, we are home. i always hate to come home after being gone. i'm not sure exactly why, but i think it has something to do with unpacking. as much as i hate to pack, unpacking is even worse . . .
but our dogs were so glad to see us! they had a somewhat harrowing experience while we were gone, which probably scarred them for life. it all began with some barking . . .
. . . on sunday i got a call from our neighbor just checking to be sure we were ok. she said the dogs had been barking quite a lot, and she was worried that maybe something was wrong. she didn't know that we were out of town, and i am guessing that she was picturing us passed out and dying on the bathroom floor. i assured her that we were fine--just out of town. then i called the person who was checking in on our pets and suggested that maybe he should close the doggie door and leave the pups inside when he wasn't there. that way, even if they barked, it wouldn't disturb the neighborhood. there. problem solved.
the next day i got another phone call from the neighbor, and her side of the conversation went something like this: "another neighbor was out walking and we got to talking about how your dogs had been barking a couple of days ago. and so we took it upon ourselves to go into your back yard to see if they were ok. and the little one came right out to us, but the bigger one wouldn't come out! so we looked in the window, and we could see her running up and down the stairs. and we were worried that something was wrong, so we tried to open the patio door. but that set off the alarm. so we called the sheriff."
wait a minute. what??
"well the bigger dog kept running up and down the stairs, and we thought maybe she was trying to tell us something." yes, i am sure she was. she was trying to say, "who are you, and why are you trying to get into my house!"
"so we thought we should go in and check it out." but how did they think they were going to get in? we were out of town, and of course all the doors were locked!
"and so then the alarm went off, so we called the sheriff." there it was again. they had called the sheriff. this was not going to be the first time that the sheriff had been to our house . . .
i'm not quite sure why, but all i could think of was that i had to get someone to go get that alarm turned off because it upsets milo and he howls. and i had to get someone to call the alarm company and tell them it was a false alarm so they wouldn't send the police. oh wait. the police were probably already on their way, because OUR NEIGHBOR HAD CALLED THEM!!
so i did the only thing i could think of to do. i called rollie.
rollie was out with diandra. he was being a good dad and had taken her to the mall, even though it was only two days after christmas. (yes, he is up for sainthood.) at the exact moment that i was getting the neighbor's story, rollie was getting phone calls from both the alarm company and the police. but he didn't know that it was just the neighbors trying to get into our house--he thought there might really be intruders! (the last pastor who lived in this house was robbed more than once.) so he called the friend who was checking on the dogs, and asked him to go over to the house and see if everything was ok. and then he got my frantic phone call telling him about the neighbors attempt to get into the house . . . and all of this was happening while he was just trying to have a few quiet moments in the men's room at the mall . . .
after talking to rollie, i called the neighbor back to tell her that he had taken care of everything, only to hear this: "well, there is a man in your house, but his name is not ernie, and you said you were going to call ernie to come take care of the alarm, so we think maybe he shouldn't be in there."
and then the sheriff drove up.
the guy in the house was the friend we had called. he had a key, which is how he got into the house. he knew the alarm code and was able to get it turned off. as i was trying to explain this to her, she was telling her story to the sheriff who was busy checking our friend's identification.
"give me the phone," the sheriff said to the neighbor. "are you the homeowner?" he asked me.
ok, technically we do not own this house. the church owns it. but most people don't understand how that works, and i didn't think this was the time to muddy the water with facts, so i just said, "yes" and hoped he would believe me.
"and did you give someone permission to come and feed your dogs while you were away?" he asked.
"and what is that person's name?" i told him, and he seemed satisfied and handed the neighbor's phone back to her. i wanted to explain a few more things, but i heard my neighbor say, "well she has hung up, but . . . " and then the phone went dead.
WAIT!! I HAVE MORE TO SAY! THERE ARE STILL A FEW THINGS THAT NEED TO BE CLEARED UP!! but i found myself talking to a dial tone. i tried to call her back, but only got her voice mail. i am guessing that she didn't think it would be prudent to ignore the sheriff and answer her cell phone--especially since there was apparently some discussion as to why she was trying to get into our house through the patio door when she knew we were out of town . . .
my only consolation during this whole ordeal was the thought that maybe, just maybe this was the same sheriff who had responded to our false alarm last summer. because this time, my house was clean!