It’s 4:15 am and my room is completely silent. The noise machine off. The humidifier off. The space heater? SPACE heater? Sabotage! My first thought. Anarchists, no, wait, I’m an anarchist. COMMUNISTS, no, not communists. That’s absurd here in the far west, back of beyond. Could be a posse of REDNECKS, no wait, I’m living in so-called redneck country, and they’re all really nice. I even kind of fit in. Then it hits me…


Aliens are common here in the San Luis Valley. There’s even a tourist trap UFO Watch Tower where people can camp out all night waiting for aliens.

I hunker down in bed. Better not let them know that nothing wakes me up as quickly as ABSOLUTE SILENCE. There’s no way I’ll sleep. After living for so long in the brittle mountains of fire-prone California, nothing is more sinister or scary than the absence of electrical power. I get up again. Cold room. I look out the window. No lights. At 4 am here? NONE of these (other) old people with whom I’m surrounded are up YET? What’s going on with them? Have they been abducted???

I walk to the kitchen, barefoot. I look at the stove. Where there should be a conspicuous absence of numbers, it reads, “4:22.” The same as my cell phone. A little later it reads, “4:23.” WTF? I try a light switch. Nothing.

What does this mean???

With the dim glow of my cell phone, I look for my flashlight in the drawer where it is alleged to repose. A lot of useless stuff but no flashlight.

In the living room window are the battery operated Christmas “candles”. Since it’s not Christmas, they are switched onto their off position, and I flip their little switches. In the comfort of their bright glow, an actual thought wafts through the rational part of my brain.

What if the electricity ISN’T off? What if your neighbors are sleeping in until 5:00? What if your heating devices tripped a circuit breaker?

“Merde,” I think, not wanting to get dressed and muddle my way through the mine field of dog excrement, holes and stumps of lilac bushes between me and the electric panel for the house. “You must,” whispers the rational side of my brain. “You want coffee.”

“Why in the name of God don’t I have a gas stove?” I think.

“You’d better get a propane camping stove for emergencies like this,” says the rational part of my brain. “And never never buy whole-bean coffee again. It could be ugly some morning without electricity.” You can see who the leader is, though…

Meanwhile, Bear and Teddy have ascertained that any aliens who might have been roaming the property have been scared away (or now inhabit their bodies, who knows). I get dressed, carry the two Christmas candles in one hand, slip on my gardening Birkis, grab the snow-shovel for balance and head into the mine-field. Miraculously avoiding the hazards, I reach the breaker box, open the cover and see a feeble red light on the circuit that seems to run the whole house. I flip it off, wait a second or two, and flip it on.

I won’t know until I’m back inside if it changed anything, but… A couple of neighbors have woken up. Lights are on in their houses.

“I’m going back to bed, guys.”

11 thoughts on “Sabotage?

  1. Oh, dear — I hope you are back on line with lights and heat! And I hope your power wasn’t turned off to prevent brushfires — oh, no, everybody’s power would be off in that case!

    • No, it was just a circuit breaker. I’m so neurotic about the power being turned off, though, from living in CA. All I had to do was go out into the cold (martyr, martyr) and flip the switch.

      • I’m glad it was that easy! And I hope it doesn’t happen often! The unintended consequences of power outages are terrible — some people have no water if the power goes down, and the power often doesn’t come back for several days. I hope THAT doesn’t happen very often, too!

        • The power doesn’t go off very often here and usually if it does it’s for a short time. But I think going through a fire leaves a kind of PTSD. In 2003 we were without power for 10 days. When I finally got to go home, it still wasn’t on. I just went back with one dog, emptied the fridge, built a fire in the wood stove and took a nap with her on my living room floor. Then I went back down the hill and returned the next day with groceries. I will never ever forget that drive. All around were fire trucks from all over the West, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon heading up to the Cuyamacas to fight a fire that would burn until Christmas. One fire fighter would die and the little town like thing of Cuyamaca by the lake would burn down. As I drove up the road to my house everyone was standing in their yards holding signs that said, “Thank you Firefighters.” That fire came within 1/4 mile of my house. I’ll never get over it. And I hate Donald Trump for his callous attitude toward human and natural suffering. ❤

          • I agree about fires leaving you with a PTSD. That is a hair-raising story you tell — and the “thank you, firefighters” signs always bring tears to my eyes, especially when they are in front of destroyed homesites! I’m glad your power doesn’t go out often, and surmise that it’s probably due to winds when it does. Do take care of your self, and hope that we are near the end of the trump era!

  2. Every time something like that happens, it’s hard to see other houses on this street, so some freezing person needs to walk the long driveway to the street — and if it’s late, there may very well NOT be any lights on anyway because no one wastes electricity. Not at THESE prices. I give in and call the electric company. It’s less energy and frenzy for everyone.

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