Yesterday I spent the whole morning at the OUR center and pretty much trashed my hands. I spent the afternoon doing my Bible reading, I'm taking the Disciples class, which is a nine month, once a week class that's overtly structured to have reading and prayer every day. I usually do all the week's reading in about an hour and a half on Wednesdays after my time in the garden because, as with today, my hands are so trashed from digging carrots or kohlrabi out of the rock hard ground, wrestling with the raspberry canes for their fruit, or from fighting weeds or hacking back the mint.
I was scared of the class, honestly. I didn't really want to know even more about a Bible that has been used to hurt so many people in so many ways. Plus I have a lot of baggage with Scripture given what folks have tried to force into my head about what it all *really* means. A few folks from my old Usenet days remember when I used verse and chapter to slug it out with others... but I didn't want to regard the Word as weapon anymore, and in that vein I was taking it as literally as they were in order to fight that fight. Limited by the plane of combat, I guess. I wanted to step aside from that.
I wanted to see what was in there for me.
The leader of the group gave us a quote from Karen Armstrong's In the Beginning. It said that the stories should be *experienced* as stories, that to take them literally was to shut out the power of what one can get from them by just taking the reading of them as an experience as reading any story that has a particular Truth to them. That, along with a lot of stuff written by Borg has opened my eyes to an angle that I can take to Scripture that I never had before. The Old Testament in particular has always been a favorite of mine in terms of stories of very flawed and sometimes evil in action people that still obeyed (sometimes protesting and struggling and complaining like mad) their God and found strength and solace in their obedience.
It jived with what Madeline L'Engel gave me a while ago, that the root of sin is when we take what we know of ourselves as ALL there is to ourselves. That there is more than we can know to what and who we really are.
Yeah. I was scared of the class. I was especially scared that there would be people I'd have to fight, but one of my best friends said she was going to be there, so I went anyway. Being scared has never really stopped me on a frequent basis, I guess.
That also goes with the whole photovoltaic solar panel venture, too. As one of the recommended prerequisites for the solar panel decision, the solar guys pointed us at a company that does energy audits. They come, ask you questions about your habits, and then they send an engineer to do some testing around the home. It's a little scary, for me at least, to ask people to come and tell me what I'm doing wrong. There are others that concur. John doesn't find it scary in the least... and it has been quite good, actually. The lady that first came had some really great suggestions and a lot of praise for the things we have been doing.
Our natural gas usage is about 25% below the average for a home of our size, which made it all the more surprising that our electricity use is significantly more than the average. Last week, we stopped by Home Depot to look at some stuff and found out that they had a big sale on household florescent bulbs. The light quality was pretty good, and with the Longmont Electricity company rebates, the house hold bulbs were pretty much the same price as the incandescents. So we changed out nearly all the lights in the house, and we've been really pleased with the light quality. While they do take a minute or two to warm up, on the most part the output either met or exceeded what we had already had there. Plus they've managed to make full spectrum bulbs as well as warmed-up bulbs that simulate the same kind of light as the incandescent ones.
Then, today, the engineer came and did an air test that involved sucking all the air out of the house that would come out through the front door. Then we all went through the house checking for drafts from outside. The house is pretty good and tight. Then the engineer did metering tests to see what all our refrigerators and freezers were doing compared to the baseline of the house on its own, and we discovered that our free fridge (which we had, literally, gotten by just being able to give it a ride home) was taking more electricity as our kitchen fridge *and* our chest freezer combined. Yeesh. There were pretty landscape lights that were sucking 400 watts for five hours every night... It was good to be able to quickly and easily chop off a significant part of our usage without affecting the things we actually feel that we use.
It was even better to realize that we'd actually cut our usage, significantly, in just the last two weeks, from the rate we had been going. Given what we'd done with the lights, what we'd done with some power strips on some loads that we didn't want to have on all the time, having the air conditioning completely off with the cooler weather, and a few other things after the interview, we'd already cut things down significantly.
Enough of it to actually help with the decision we have to make on what kind of array we want to put up.
There are other things that the guy wrote down that we can do. We'll get a good report in a week or so and I can figure that out. Best yet he gave us a pretty good methodology for us to do some metering ourselves about what appliance use what kind of wattage. Now I'll actually figure out if the toaster oven is any more or much less efficient than the standard oven in the house...
Plus, I now have some pretty cool work lights in places I really needed 'em and I have no guilt about using them. Hee.
So it has turned out to be very good that we actually looked.