I usually try to stay positive here, but lately that has resulted in a lack of writing. Not that things are bad, just that I’m cranky about the heat and totally over my wife working at the opposite end of the state.
Anyway, today, one of the hottest days of the summer so far, I received one solitary piece of mail. It was my friendly neighborhood electric company’s “Energy Savings Report.”* Let me quote some of the delightful phrases contained therein:
You used more electricity and did not reach the target. … This is a summary of your energy use (actual) and what you could have saved (target) if you had followed our recommendations.
We estimated that you would have saved up to $38. Unfortunately, you used $5 more compared to your use over the same time a year ago.
Let me state, first off, that the average American household uses 958 kilowatt-hours per month. Our usage, during the months of February, March, and April combined was 999 kWh last year and 1041 kWh during the same three months this year. That’s right, we use just over 1/3 of the average American household. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. Plus, we increased our energy usage compared to last year by a gluttonous 4.2%.
I understand if you must turn away in horror, ashamed to even read a blog written by someone with obviously so little regard for the environment.
Let’s get down to details. What exactly were these magical recommendations that we so thoughtlessly refused to heed?
1. Raise your A/C thermostat three degrees this summer.
First of all, no one with a brain would describe the months of February, March, and April in Western Massachusetts as “summer.” Our average last frost date is May 15th. Our last fire in the wood stove this season was on June 4th. So the A/C thermostat was not an issue for the time period in question. Plus? WE DON’T HAVE AN AIR CONDITIONER. That’s right. We do without. To save energy.**
2. Clean your window air conditioner’s filter.
See objections to #1.**
3. Replace traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs).
Leaving aside all the controversy about whether household use of CFLs actually saves energy or makes them last longer, leaving aside the serious concerns about disposal and toxins, there’s another problem here. We replaced our light bulbs several years ago. And once you do that, you can no longer save money by doing it again. It’s a one time gain.
So, coming home on this extremely hot day (for this area, anyway), knowing that the only way to cool down will be to drive around in my air-conditioned truck or go sit in the basement, we get to receive a snotty (but glossy and attractively designed!) letter in the mail scolding us for irresponsible squandering of electricity. Rather than a thank you note for being one of the thrifty households who clearly already is doing their part for energy conservation. This tipped my cranky mood straight in to full-on bitchy.
Here’s a suggestion, WMECO. Save the energy you used to create and send out this offensive letter. I’m going to keep this civil (more or less, anyway — Hi Mom!) and not suggest where you can put this particular Energy Savings Report. Use your imagination.**
I feel much better now.
* Yes, I know I’m overreacting. Just go with it.
**Name calling has been removed as a public service.
Exactly ten years ago, I was sitting on the porch of the main house at Ferry Beach, watching as my companions for the week checked in for our week-long youth advisor training. I watched a woman pull up in her car, get out, and grab a guitar out of the trunk. “Wow,” I thought. “She looks like she might be someone like me.”*
*This is a heavily paraphrased way of saying that my gay-dar starting clanging the instant I saw her.
I noticed her that day, but I really noticed her for the first time the next morning, when she pulled out her guitar and starting playing. She sang her song “Brand New Day,” which continues to be one of my favorites.
Throughout the week, I just kept noticing her. (If you haven’t already caught on, this is The Story of How I Met Weez.) I noticed that she left her flashlight in the common room. I noticed her when four of us went out dancing at a gay bar in Ogonquit. I very much noticed her when we played pool that same night (she used to win trophies at a local club, I learned later.) I noticed that we kept ending up talking together like old friends. I noticed when she didn’t show up for meals, and I noticed where she sat when she did.
Most spectacularly, I noticed her the night a bunch of us went out on the beach because we heard fireworks going off in the distance. We watched for a while, then people started straggling back inside, away from the bugs. After a few minutes, Weez and I were the only ones left on the boardwalk that led over the dunes. While we were standing there, watching the sky together, the biggest shooting star I have ever seen arced across the entire sky.
Throughout all this noticing, it was never (well, almost never) consciously a romantic notice. Our age difference blinded me to what was happening. By the end of the week, though, we were friends. You know how it is at these things, on the last day you exchange emails and say you’ll keep in touch, knowing that you really won’t. I didn’t want to say goodbye to this particular new friend, though. We went for a very long walk on the beach, further than I had walked that week. When we got back, we exchanged emails and said goodbye. And I hugged her like she was my best friend. When I got in my car and drove away, I wanted to cry. “What’s going on?” I asked myself. “You’ve only known this woman a week, why this grief at leaving a friend?”
We met on July 6th, 2002. I was out here in what is now our house for the first time on July 27th, the day we mark as the start of our relationship. And by September 1st, we were engaged. I spent that summer with heart-shaped pupils in my eyes, my feet never touching the ground.
Ten years later, I still feel the same way. I love you, my best friend, my beloved, my soul-mate, my Weez. Thank you for showing up that day.
My wife says it all.
The air conditioner in my car died several years ago but I never got it fixed. I had a lot of excuses… it was going to be expensive and I didn’t really need it because I could always open the windows like we did when I was a kid. Plus, I felt kind of righteous cause it saves gas not using a/c.
It’s been an odd spring weather wise. Sort of like that box of chocolates Forrest Gump talks about in the movie… you never know what you’re gonna get. Rain, no rain for a month or so, heat wave in the 80’s and 90’s and chilly enough for a coat and then rain again. My Tilly rain hat has gotten a lot of wear lately. (I don’t care how goofy it looks… it keeps the rain off my neck!)
But as has been mentioned in earlier posts, the traffic…
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Today is the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. A time for rededication and rejoicing. I got up to watch the sunrise and gather a few herbs, still wet with dew–rose, yarrow, lavender, elderflower, sage, lemon balm–whatever felt right to me.
Tonight I will light a small bonfire in the yard, a way of being grateful for this longest day by trying to extend it just a bit. This Saturday in Finland, everyone will be lighting the Juhannus kokko, a bonfire.
As in much of Europe the pagan solstice celebration was combined into the Christian Feast of Saint John the Baptist. In Sweden and in some parts of Finland there will be dancing around midsummer poles (we Americans think of them as Maypoles, but in Scandinavia, May is still too early in the year for the abundance of flowers and greenery.)
I wish you a joyous day, in whatever way you wish to celebrate this longest span of sun and light. Blessed be.
Traveling wife, chickens, sewing, archery, dogs, work, plumbing issues, disenchantment. That’s why I’ve been away. Hope to be back soon.