Monday, October 22, 2012

We're In This Thing Together

We went to the cabin this weekend for relaxing and doing NOTHING after a long week last week. Unfortunately, when we arrived we found out that someone had broken in and stolen a bunch of stuff. They broke one of the huge picture windows in front of the house, and our hearts sank wondering how we would be able to replace it. When we went in the house, everything was torn apart because the burglars went through all of our drawers, boxes and storage. They pulled everything out. They drank two huge bottles of liquor and even finished the tiny bottle of kirsch that I use for fondue. We're not sure how they could even walk after drinking that much. Over the weekend, we slowly realized more and more stuff that is missing, but the big items are the chain saw, my mountain bike and our inverter. We've hypothesized that they broke the big window to get the bike out because they were apparently too drunk to be able to open either of the doors, which were both locked when we arrived.

The whole thing is very upsetting to us, obviously. I feel so violated and disappointed. Our cabin is in a fairly remote and isolated area where there are no building codes, no insurance, no streets, no rules. We're off the grid. We have no utilities or water other than what we catch from our roof. We're only 35 minutes from the pavement, but the mesa is a world of its own that governs itself. We are really out there. I've always felt safe there. People keep to themselves. It's the kind of place people go who want to be left alone. People are friendly enough but the rule of thumb is "arms length." People don't have much - there are folks living out there in harsh conditions in tents and abandoned cars; houses made out of old mattress frames stuffed with mud; shacks that look like they are uninhabitable. Life is hard and challenging. Even so though I've felt safe and secure because people are generally respectful. Because life is so hard out there and people are scraping by, others usually aren't willing to take from someone else to make their life better. We took that feeling for granted. We shouldn't have left the chainsaw in the utility room - it is locked, but easy to get into - and we shouldn't have left the bike up there because now that it is gone, I know it is something we really didn't want to lose.

After we arrived, I kind of freaked out. I wanted to sit down and cry. Andrew went into crisis mode cleaning up glass, taking apart the window frame and being a real "doer." We really are opposites!

We no longer had any tools up there so we headed down the hill to talk to our neighbor who lives out there full time. She's been on the mesa for at least 30 years, and she's great. She, of course, was so disappointed, but then we distracted ourselves seeing her new addition and talking about life on the mesa. Our neighbor told us about some other places that have been robbed, and how people were able to recycle materials and find what they needed to fix the damages. She told us about the old inverter her friend had given her after she lived without one for years when hers was stolen.

She was very concerned for us and offered some glass that she has had sitting out behind her shed for years. Our front window is 76" x 34", and it was custom made by the previous owner. We figured that there was no chance that she'd happen to have a piece of glass that fit the opening, but Andrew measured it anyway and it fit! We went from a feeling of dread for the cost and time of the repair to feeling so relieved. We carried the glass up the hill, and luckily we found some caulking left over from a previous project. Andrew rebuilt the window frame and replaced the glass, and we were back in business in a couple of hours.

We cleaned up the mess and put our stuff away, and we spent the rest of the weekend feeling thankful for the sense that people on the mesa are in this thing together. Even though folks keep to themselves, there is a sense of community spirit and people take care of each other and pull together to make sure everyone gets by. It's a nice feeling.

Although the weekend was much harder than expected, we did have some fun cleaning out a pack rat's nest in our utility room. (Yes, for those of you who know me in real life, I really did just write that.) It really was the highlight of the weekend. Sometimes when you're so upset about something it is such a great feeling to just laugh and laugh at something that seems so random, but it was a good distraction. With the new hole in the side of the house where our inverter had been, a pack rat had a hey day scouring our house for treasures. He built a massive nest, and he filled it with all of the wooden handmade chess pieces that Andrew bought in his travels in South America. We had figured that the burglars took them, but they must have just taken the top off the box, and that pack ratty had lots of fun moving all the pieces out. We also found wooden spoons from the house, measuring cups, tops and lids from bottles and jars, rolls of electrical tape, champagne corks, backgammon pieces, and lots and lots of glass from the broken window. The most dramatic moment was when Andrew moved a roll of tar paper, and he fell out of the end of the tube. There was lots of screaming (me) and very concerned dog girls and lots of laughing at the look on all of our faces when he came shooting out of that tube.


  1. Aw shit. I'm so sorry to hear that your cabin was vandalized. I totally sympathize. During the whole last year, as I wanted to scream and yell and fight back HARD when things in town got rough, Forrest kept reminding me that we had a cabin that was totally unprotected just a few miles from here. It really sank in when after a fresh fight, someone took down our gate. I went from feeling light and happy at the cabin to feeling like it was a weight holding us here.

    So happy to hear that good things came of the weekend anyway!

  2. Meghan! I feel terrible about this. What an awful thing to happen to good people. I'm sorry about the bike, and the inverter (I don't know what that is, but it sounds important), and the stuff. But I'm glad you're safe and were able to find glass for the window and chess pieces in the nest. And cleaning out a pack rat's nest? Lady, you've come a long way from the girl who needed to have a least two clean towels at all times when traveling! Way to go!

  3. Oh Meghan. What horrible news. What a-holes to help themselves to your retreat. My car was broken into years ago but I still remember the infuriating feeling of someone else feeling entitled to MY stuff. I'm glad you were able to find some community help and to start to rebuild.

  4. What a horrible experience. It sounds like you're coping pretty well, nice neighbours definitely make things easier.

    Also, I didn't realise that pack rats were a real thing, I thought it was just a term (we don't have them in New Zealand if that's any excuse!) I can't believe all the stuff it hoarded!

  5. Oh dear. How awful and scary and just awful that is.

  6. Oh my gosh Bayer, I am so sorry this happened! I hope you are feeling better this week.

    Will you do a post about what on earth an INVERTER is?

  7. Thanks for all of the supportive comments. Now that it has been a couple of weeks it seems much more manageable, but man, it sure sucks.

    The inverter converts the electricity coming out of the batteries from DC to AC so that we can charge our computers and phones. Without it we can only run on DC. We've now learned that inverters are apparently hot items to steal.


Hey, thank you!

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