Monday, July 23, 2012

Last Friday..........

When I went to bed Thursday night I had no idea of the drama unfolding in Aurora, CO.  We had been caught off guard by an early appearance in a string of thunderstorms predicted to arrive early the following morning.

While thunderstorms are not uncommon here in early spring or late fall, the way we have experienced them this last week is unlike anything I have seen in my lifetime.  A low pressure system bounced between northern Oregon and southern British Columbia leaving us at the mercy of unstable air that fostered weather extremes all week long.

A week ago Friday night,  when this series of storms began,  a particularly fierce storm came through with the most unstable mass of air directly overhead. The sky exploded with light and sound as the extremes collided. The house shook to its foundation. Our ears rang with lasting tremors from being in direct proximity  of the electrical happening. Poor Sugar yelped and her serenity explode in that instant.

The storm hovered over our heads for over an hour before beginning to move on. Sugar's heart pounded out of her chest as strike after strike pummeled the area.  Her panting as worrisome as her thundering chest, I tried everything I could  to soothe her but nothing worked.

Delilah didn't look as traumatized but she had her own way of coping. She pooped in my room. I discovered that in the middle of the night. Both animals have been forever changed by Mother Nature's temper tantrum.

During the week long pattern of storms I discovered that Sugar's reaction was not a one time thing.  Even the sound of rain on the roof was triggering an episode.

I decided I would get something from the vet to help the dog should we have more storms directly overhead. However, a bad forecast left me thinking I had a day to get that done. By the time I realized a storm was coming our way the vet's office was long since closed.

As the rains poured Sugar's heart rate escalated so I ended up searching the web for something that might help even though I knew I should not be on the computer. I don't really like self medicating so I was very cautious but did find something useful. A post by a vet suggested putting the dog in a remote room(where outside light couldn't get in) and turning the radio up loud enough to drown out the storm. This vet also said it was safe to give melatonine to dogs and provided a dosage appropriate for Sugar. In addition to that I put a cold cloth on her since she appeared to be over heating from all the panting.

By the time I finally got to bed, Sugar was much calmer and actually resting. The storm had moved through but another one was not far behind. I figured I needed to sleep while I could.

Between hot flashes, lightning strikes, thunder and a leak in my roof I did not get much slumber. When the worst of the next storm hit I got up to check on Sugar only to find our power was out.

Dave had to work and I worried about his safety even getting there with the thunder cell right over us. Sugar got more melatonine and we turned the radio on to find out what the situation was with the storm and our power.

Flipping through the stations, I couldn't find anything about our weather. The bits and pieces of conversation  I was hearing slowly began to sink in. Any news I was getting seemed to be special coverage. Something unusual must have happened.

Trying to put together the details as I strained to hear the radio over the conversation in the room was slow in coming. My brain just did not want to compute how a midnight Batman screening could relate to the serious tone I was reading in professional voices on my radio.

Finally I asked those talking around me to cease, signaling with my hands I needed to hear. Something bad had happened. A feeling of helplessness washed over me and the blood drained from my face as reality sank in. How could that community be suffering another such senseless act of violence?

Stuck with only the meager details and mindless chatter of talk radio for information, I tried to glean what details I could. Such an aberration of evil is impossible to comprehend with nothing but the disjointed conversation of stunned commentators. How was I to make sense of Batman, Columbine and our own, Cafe Racer which had happened just weeks ago with nothing but radio chatter for validation?

The events of the last year have left me with a sense of powerlessness that I can not explain. Added to it the insane acts of violence perpetuated in my own community in recent months have left their own impression on my psyche.

 Josh Powell's blowing up himself with his two innocent sons happened a few miles north of here. The deranged killing of a park ranger occurred at Paradise just a few miles south. Next came the senseless murder in my county of Trooper Tony Radalusko. Followed by the massacre at Cafe Racer that left six dead in a day long killing spree that washed Seattle in blood from stem to stern just seven weeks ago.

 All this violence in one community seems impossible, yet it is here. It shakes me to the core and threatens my serenity. I want to hide out in the barn and never come out.

I find myself wondering if evil has somehow taken over my community. Then this new tragedy seems to say the world has gone completely nuts. How does one make sense of all of this?

Our power was out for most of the day and the thunderstorms didn't let up until late in the afternoon. With the help of the melatonine Sugar did better but I sat glued to the radio trying to glean what I could, struggling with those feelings of powerlessness.

I was relieved when the power came back because I could see for myself what others were talking about.   The ironies that this tragic event happened just a few miles down the road from Columbine where the first mass killing rocked our world in the early 90s and on the very day that Cafe Racer reopened after the mass murder there seven weeks ago did not escape me. Life can be so unfair but these ironies seemed more than anyone should have to endure. Victims re-victimized purely because of timing and proximity. My heart breaks.

As I began to understand the story unfolding before me the shock and horror began to set in. I found myself glued to the TV trying to understand the progression of things like somehow that would make the insanity make sense. I watched faceless victims become real, human faces reeling in the aftermath of the collision of their lives with a madman.

I am a person driven to action by misfortune. The way I cope with powerlessness is to take get to work. I do not know how to sit and wait but that's what I was forced to do. The only thing at my disposal, prayer........for the victims, their families, the community.....and the rest of us who find ourselves struggling with the reality there ate those among us who strive to perpetuate their evil upon the innocents around them. For now, it is better than nothing but I can't help feeling there must be something more I can do.

What do you do to cope with such tragedy?


  1. honestly I am often defeated by what seems to be pure evil in the world. I do not watch the news, I keep up with current events on the radio or on the net as the news seems prone to playing out the most horrific images ovver and over. I cannot fix what has happened , I can only pray for the fallen. and I can continue to do my best in my world to be kind, and considerate, take a little time, as often as I can to help a stranger or a friend , not much but If I can help one person,and they in turn help another, that breeds goodwill. Will it stop violence and the horrible things people do to one another? Maybe not , but if we gently flood the world with good in cannot hurt

    1. Sounds to me like you have a pretty good plan. I try to live by those values as well. The thing that strikes me about situations like this is the heroes that come forward from the most unexpected places and there have been lots of those stories I have learned since I first wrote this post. Seeing those aspects of disaster help me keep my faith in humanity. Someone on one of the shows this last few days said they were actually teaching their kids to look for the heroes. I thought that was pretty amazing in itself.

  2. Honestly, between the news of what people are doing and what the ever-crazier weather is doing I get very, very worried sometimes.

  3. the next time you go to the drug store, get a bottle of melatonin (over the counter sleep regulator for people) for the dogs. Dosage is 1.5 mg per dose for dogs under 30 pounds, and 3 mg per dose for dogs over 30 pounds. If possible, administer prior to the beginning of the storm. I would not use it for more than 2 or 3 days in a row.

  4. I dont know what is wrong with the world these days. It sure is scary whats been going on and I just cant figure out what drives people to even think of doing something like that. I had not heard of all that stuff going on in your area too, sometimes I am glad there is no one too close to me and I can hideout for days (weeks if I can get away with it) if I want.

    Also about Sugar, have you tried one of those thunder shirts? I have heard good things and not good things about them, but might be worth checking out.

  5. Not having the local channels on TV makes it easy to skip the latest garbage about all of the crime going on in our area. Not that it makes it go away, but I don't need to hear about it all the damn time and never anything good. I still see it, hear it and know about it on the radio and internet though.

    I just do what I can, when I can and am honest in my dealings with others. I think for the most part- people are good. Sometimes well intentioned and made a mistake, but for the most part good.

    Sure there are some people out there that are seriously messed up in the head. Be it from how they were raised, traumatic events in life, chemical imbalances or whatever- they are just messed up. I just wish when they snap- they would quietly take themselves out of the picture instead of going out in a 'blaze of glory' taking as many with them as they can.

    Our 'government system' is not without it's faults either. Many times those around the person at the root of things- know something is 'off', try to get help and they are shunned, ignored or given the answer 'my hands are tied on this one' and nothing happens to prevent this kind of thing until after the fact when it is too late. This guys Mom, when contacted about it, before she knew it Was her son, figured as much and said, "Yeah, it's probably him. They must have the right guy." Her seemingly noncholant statement makes me sick. It also sounds like she may have done what she could before getting frustrated enough to give up and wait. How sad.

  6. It is important to maintain your sense of perspective. While these things are very tragic, tragedy has always existed alongside humanity. I could quote lots of examples of senseless acts like these dating back hundreds of years. To be sure, they are still terrible things, but they are nothing new.

    At the same time, realize that people are going on with their lives in the face of this evil, and that is really one of the best things you can do to counter it. Don't let the actions of some seriously disturbed individuals impact your life, and don't let them steal the things that give you joy. It's ok to condemn evil and mourn the victims, but above all things, keep your sense of perspective.

  7. The Aurora shooting (about 10 miles from me) was horrific. As stories unfold, it becomes even more surreal. You have to wonder what caused the guy to snap... to carefully plan out this entire thing and to go shoot people, in cold blood. Like FernValley, I prefer not to listen to the news. The first day that was just about all we could find on TV. The reporters, now a days, don't 'report'. They over sensationalize everything and I think their reactions cause more hype and create more problems.
    Your storm sounds like it was awful. I have heard that dogs react to storms because they feel the electrical charges in the air - that's why 'thunder shirts' are supposed to help (but I've heard people say they don't work). I've heard that tile bathrooms help because the tile offsets the electrical charges or minimizes them. We used to have dogs who were thunder-phobic. One of the dogs taught the other dog to be afraid! Storms were terrifying for me... because of their reactions. I hated to see them pacing, panting and peeing (as they quivered on or under the bed!)