March 29, 2009

Earth Hour: Power Down 2009!

About 5 days ago I heard about Earth Hour. A world wide effort to show respect for the Earth we are FRYING and cut/not use any electricity for 1 hours: 8:30-9:30 local time.
I got to thinking what a good experience to cut back on the electricity bill if just an hour and see how much of it we really use.
This was all to go down Yesterday March 28th, 2009.
I woke up rather excited to do this thing. I made a last minute decision to see if i could use as little electricity as possible all day. And then I told my sister about Earth hour and she was down for it. I think it was her who said... "we should have a party." I concurred! Always down for a unique gathering, especially one with a cause. We contacted friends and explained what Earth hour is.
Told them our doors opened at 7. Bring flashlights, candles, games,snacks and anything you want to throw on the grill. All electricity goes out a 8:25 pm!

It was interesting how conscious I became of electricity and how wasteful we've become. I got up and instead of turning on lights I opened the blinds. The Sunlight was actually brighter than the electric lights AND adjustable according to how much I opened the blinds. And the sunlight also brightened the mood. It's a fact that sunlight plays a great role in mood disorders such as depression and even on lonliness.
I began to do the normal Saturday chores: Cleaning the bathroom, my bedroom dusting, mopping laundry and so on. I actually decided to hold off on the Laundry because it take electricity to run the washer and dryer. And it could wait, I have plenty of clothes to wear so I didn't have to do laundry on Earth hour day. I actually got all my work done faster than usual. Partially because I wanted to get ready for the party, but Mostly because I wanted to use the sunlight while there was sunlight to use.
Thoughts of "Little House on the Prairie" Came to mind. They worked from sunup to sundown because there was not much they could do after the sunset. That also explains why they got much done, they couldn't procrastinate or put it off until later because there was very little could be done by candle/lantern light. AND putting it off would add the the pile of next days responsibilities.

It all makes sense, their hard work, their work ethic. I liked this new realization.
I didn't turn on the TV and or radio all day. I wanted to see what I could hear when not distracted by the typical things. I liked hearing the birds chirping and the kids at the park. One of my neigbors was outside laughing about something. I'm not sure what but it made me smile.
In my sweeping and scrubbing I created a little musical rhythem to one of my favorite songs, so that was kind of cool. I used that rhythem all day while cleaning.

When the cleaning was done my sister and I went into the basement and started to did out our candles and candle holders. We ended up lighting about 72 candles using the tealights she and I bought for my wedding reception last year that didn't happen (they smelled of vanilla and pears)and several other candles we had accumulate. It was fun to see the assortment of candle holders we had. We also used several battery operated Asian lanterns I had purchased for reception. They added an exotic element to the house and yard.

We placed the candles and lanterns around the house and yard. The deal was to use no electricity and very little battery operated things as possible. Make it a night using as much of God's natural resources and human interaction as possible. We used battery operated lighting for the stairs in the house for safety reasons. We have an obnoxious about of steps in the oddest places.

I got excited as the sun went down. Not sure why but I think there is a fulfillment when you are doing something you know can help a cause. And it was a world wide effort. Knowing places like Vegas, Singapor, Paris, LA, Ottawa, Russia etc were taking part and choosing to be part of it made the world a smaller more congenial place.
Folks started to arrive about 7:15 and help with the setting up of candles and food prep and games before the last of the sunlight dipped low into the sky and disappeared. About 8:15 we lit the outside lanterns that lined the sidewalk to the door and began to light all the candles in the house.

8:28 the electricty in my home(except for the refridgerator & freezer) was turned off. The first thing we noticed was that we got quieter. Something about the darkness makes one think they have to whisper and speak more silently. We got over that rather quickly when there was a knock on the door. My neigbors had read my online invitation and came on over to join us. Their teenagers didn't come over at first but she told them they no matter what they were doing they were not to use any electricity from 8:30pm -9:30 pm. Very nice. I went towards the back of the house and looked at the bording neigborhoods. It looked like maybe only 1 or 2 other homes could have been participating, but for the most part it was business as usual for everyone else. I was a little disappointed. But more than that, I was excited about my company and already thrilled about the conversations at hand.

We talked about books, relationships and how to better them, shared cooking and marinating tips. I was loving the interaction.
We grilled pepperoni and cheese stuffed chicken breast, london broil, cheese burgers, sausages and because the grill has a little side burner we made taco meat.

We put a couple of logs inthe fire pit but it was rather windy so we basically let them smolder and thought they wouldn't catch fire. Eventually a flame or two grew and the logs caught.
The biggest festivity of the evening was the playing of charades by candle light.
We had everyone write out things/object on peices of paper. 1 person drew a paper from the bowl and that started the game. What followed was 2 hours of rolling on the floor in laughter as each person tried to act out words such as "furball, hot pants, bacon, pantomime, flashlight..." and so on.

The night was awesome. It was relaxing, peaceful, cozy. There is something peaceful and exotic about candlelight. A few year ago I used candle lanterns instead of night lights and it made a romantic reverence about the house. I do belive we'll be reinstating that element into the household.
Also there was a huge realization at how much electricity is wasted. I've got computers, stereos, and other things plugged in and in the on position for things I haven't used in months. I rarely use my Radio alarm clock anymore. I'm looking into just getting an old school battery operated alarm clock. I no longer listen to music all the time when I go to bed. Sometimes I might pop on a DVD in my portable player. But it also has a battery. with a life of 4 or 6 hours I forget. But this means it will shut itself off and not run on electricy all day because I never really pay attention to it until the evening comes around.

I think we'll be grilling a lot more. And spending more time outside. Our patio furnature has solar lighting on it. I do recall sitting on the patio under the umbrella reading at night last summer. I remember how much more content and relaxing it was.

What i really recognized most was the level of stress and peace, for some reason was non existant.
I don't think we realize how added noise puts and keeps us on alert. There was no confusion trying to hear or understand someone over the TV or radio. We were very attentive and aware of certain needs someone may have had because there were no other focus or other things pulling our attention in different directions.
I guess I was able to be in the moments and enjoy them.

When the lights did finally come back, on about 30 minutes after midnight it was like some vile invader yanking us back in to some unpeaceful premature existance.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy the comforts electricity brings into my life. The entertainment and ease it gives the world.
But I think what yesterday taught me was this. God created all things. He brought forth many ideas to be invented for certain purposes. And from that man created many things to which we all should be thankful for. But the core of our thanks, appreciation and utilization should still be those God Made gifts.
My mother often said the Lord has a way of destroying and taking away those things we love more than him, or those things we don't use.
Is it any wonder our earth is rotting/frying/dying away? We have poisoned our water sources and our land. We have we given back any of the things we've taken? Plants? Minerals? Animals? Have we tried to nourish the earth so she can replenish her gifts and bounty?

In depending too much on things of comfort we, too are wasting away. Our minds are less sharp. Our bodies are succumbing more to disease & falling apart and not functioning as well as in the passed. We're getting lazier, fatter, sicker and dying at younger and younger ages.
We rely on processed foods with hormones and other additive and excipients. We've gotten too lazy to provide for ourselves and EXPECTANT on others to help feed us, clothe us, pay our bills, clean up after ourselves and fullfill our lives.
I don't think this was how the Good Lord intended things to be. We are not to expect others to do more for us and our families than we are willing to do for ourselves.

I woke up this morning and the first things I did was open my blinds to let the sunlight in. Then I opened all the blinds in the house. The only things I've turn on today was this laptop. Im enjoying the sound of the birds. They're probably cussing to one another because it's sprinkling snow outside. There's smoke rising from the fire pit as the flakes touch down and dance on the glowing embers from the logs.
Today I'm hearing what Mama Nature and Mama Earth are saying.
It sounded like they said "Thank you for last night!"