Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Here's what's been goin' on around here since I last wrote:

We've had RAIN, RAIN, and MORE rain. I only bought two rain buckets (as you might recall), and they haven't been nearly enough. Two days ago I mentioned how we should get two more rain buckets. Em agreed, but said, "Ya know once this rain stops, it STOPS!". We haven't gotten them yet and it's rained several times since then. The rain, though, has helped cool the temperatures. Normally June is much too hot to remain comfortable without AC, but we've had a lot of luck keeping the windows open.

I've gotten NOWHERE near where I wanted to be with lessening our electricity use (thus expense). I had high hopes of using 400 kwh/month after No. 1 moved out. HA! It just never happened no matter what I did. We used 617 kwh for the period 5/10-6/11. That's $98.55 to TXU because our summer rate for ONE kwh is a little bit more than 15.65 cents and then there's sales tax. I'd really hoped for better than this with all the work I've done, so to say I'm disappointed would be an understatement.

Speaking of disappointments, I had my annual dental checkup on Monday of this week. BLEH! Here AGAIN, I thought I was doing everything right! 5 (FIVE) new cavities! Richard said, "I don't know what to say! What's your diet like?" That question leads me to yet ANOTHER area in which I thought I was doing everything right! We're eating fish and lots of fruits and vegetables...like the infamous THEY tells us to do!

So, don't do anything *I* do or listen to anything *I* say, because

In the good news department, we finally got the storm/screen door installed yesterday. Sweetest young man installed it. Reminded me a lot of Las Vegas Davey. It took him a full hour to install that thing. Em tossed me the "Installation Manual" after the boy left and I got a good laugh from it. There is NO WAY that Em and I could have installed that door using those instructions. When you're missin' the "handy" gene, you're REALLY missing it, it seems.

Speaking of missing the handy gene, we're gonna call someone today for an estimate on cleaning/resealing our refrigerator. Without the AC on, that thing just runs and runs and runs. It doesn't pass the dollar bill test, either. You've heard about that test, right? You close the door on a dollar bill and you shouldn't be able to easily pull the bill out of the door. There's ALSO a bit of black speckle (mold, I suspect) on the seal between the frig and freezer on top. That's another indicator that the seals aren't working as they should. SO, we thought about buying a new refrigerator that was Energy Star and everything, but this little 18.5 cu ft frig of ours is JUST RIGHT for the two of us and has an icemaker that Em LOVES. It's 9 years old, which is close to average lifespan, but we're thinking we could get another 10 years out of it if we treated it better and had a few things (cleaned/resealed) fixed. Em'll call an appliance repair person today to see how much it might cost for the clean/retrofit job. We would never get our money back buying a new Energy Star and this little thing could end up who knows where?

I'm still doing a lot of environmental experiments with unexpected results. For instance, remember THIS GUY? Mr. Electricity wrote that electric ovens use 5000 watts while microwave ovens use 1500 watts... so I've been using the microwave oven to bake things. Seriously...and they're coming out FINE! I haven't concentrated on BREAD items YET, but I've done wonderful frittatas, meatloaf, sloppy joes, roasted vegetables, fish, rice, omelets, sausages, soups, yadda yadda. I'm gonna try bread stuffs this week, and I'm gonna try pork chops in the bag. Em loves chops baked in the McCormick seasoning "in the bag", so I'm gonna brown the chops on the stovetop and then bake them "in the bag" in the microwave. That little old microwave of Lucky's is getting abused, I think. We don't have but two settings on that thing, but for baking, I've set the dial to between Cook and Defrost wherever it'll not slip.

It might be thought (on occasion) that the stovetop would work more efficiently for things like omelets, but there's NO comparison when it comes to cleanup. A little oil in a glass pan microwaved comes out almost totally clean while a little oil in a metal pan on the stovetop comes out needing lots of water to wash. Six of these...

There are some things I would have liked to see change that won't change and that's okay. I started reading Envirowoman and immediately thought about making lemonade and storing it in glass containers that we could wash and the world would smile on me for doing such a thing. But, Em likes his plastic litre bottles of Minute Maid Lemonade, they're cheap enough at $1.00 (wouldn't save any money buying lemons or frozen concentrate), and the bottles are recycled each week. That's something that few people consider when discussing changes in living. SOME of us live in cities that already recycle our plastic, paper, glass, metals. I'll put it on my calendar to visit our dump before summer's end, but we're in a position to have some options that don't necessarily increase our footprints I think. I think the same thing holds true on paper towel usage versus water usage. We live in the US Southwest and routinely have water shortages. It makes no sense for me to use cloth instead of paper when the little bit of paper we use can be composted in the garden while the water used to clean the cloth routinely would cost the environment here a whole lot more. I'm more conscious of this when I need to wipe grease.

So, we need to think everything through and decide what we want to do for OUR lives and OUR situations. It's another of those "everyone's different" things of which life seems to abound. I'm enjoying the experimentation phase, but looking forward to the "This is where we drew the line in the sand on these concerns after trying various things and eliminating what didn't work for us" phase. Check out Greenpa for someone who's been there, done that.

This brings me to my last topic for today: Eating locally. We could be eating a whole lot more locally this year had Em not told me he was going to redo the whole backyard this summer thus putting off my gardening because it would interfere with HIS project (which he never did!). P%#&*$&#! So, I'm late to the party, had to BUY a few tomato plants, feel like the whole first half of the year has been a waste except for onions, but look forward to a fall garden and even consuming much more of the backyard than Em ever thought he'd concede. I'm a little jaded on the subject, but a few bloggers have Eating Locally things going on and I'm gonna support them. First one is starting the challenge on June 24 and looking for folks to send in recipes for meals made for dinner with only locally produced foods. That would be Liz and she's closed the door on folks who haven't yet signed. Damnit! Okay...I'll open the door here for recipes made from locally produced foods and let Liz know that I'm taking up the slack if I can remember to do that. Second is Crunchy again. Difference between the two ( I THINK) is that Liz has the challenge beginning on June 24 and going for 10? weeks while Crunchy has the challenge beginning on July 1 and going for the month of July. So, I'm willing to accept the recipes (just because I want to steal them) for folks who didn't make it in time to sign up for the Liz challenge and I'm also supporting Crunchy's July challenge. The reality of this is another one of those "six of these", "half dozen of those" things, though. Do I need certification that Kroger signed a contract with a local grower to provide excess zucchini to sell at the store within walking distance? Do I really need to drive the 20 minutes to our town's Farmer's Market where three farmers sell limited vegetables at 10 times the price of Kroger? I do it because I want to support our local farmers, but I also feel like I'm being targeted as stupid enough to take advantage. There's that dilemna again. Damnit.

12 comments:

Leigh said...

My electric use has gone way down now that I bumped the AC up to 80 and don't keep the computer on all the time. Go me :)

What's a climate party by the way? I couldn't figure it out from the website you linked me to.

Oldnovice said...

What's a climate party?

Here's information on what's goin' on that day, Leigh. It's something that came about from Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth documentary, and it's something that'll be a part of what we might have going on that day (if anybody actually signs up to come).

The Move On people (have you heard of them?)are providing those of us willing to have house parties with a CD to play in which presidential candidates answer questions relating to climate change. So, (in theory) there's food, companionship, music, and a little information about how 2008 candidates feel about climate change.
If anyone's actually interested in coming, I'll BBQ some pulled pork, bake homemade buns for sandwiches and make a big batch of iced tea. That's ALL I'll provide, aside from the wide-screen TV/CD player with surround sound and chairs to watch the event. Side-dishes (main dish if you're vegetarian or vegan), plates, glasses, etc. need to be provided by folks coming in addition to drinks aside from iced tea. If alcoholic drinks are brought, I'm insisting on an accompanying non-imbibing designated driver just so I won't be sued by volunteering to have this thing in our home. We haven't had anyone sign up to come so far, so I thought I'd ask you and you could ask any/all friends you had who might be interested simply because you're the only person I know locally who has any interest/concern in climate change.
Since it's more efficient to run a dishwasher with a full load than do dishes by hand, I'd run the dishwasher before end of evening so folks could take home their clean plates/glasses. And, that's it.

Oldnovice said...

Em called the appliance repair person, but it seems as though they're not in business anymore. He then called GE and ordered the seal (for $80!). The rest we'll have to do ourselves.

I've READ that swapping out the seal is easy, but it's always handy folks who say that. Might be that we can borrow tools and expertise from Em's brother, but these two haven't been able to get together since Em's been working weekends. They're meeting up to catch a ballgame tonight, though...so maybe Em can ask if complete "handy" dolts can tackle this refrigerator task or not.

Diane said...

We've been getting the same repeated drenching over the past few weeks. Since we don't have/run an AC, we're thrilled to death with the cloudy days because we get to really baking on some of the hotter, sunnier days. I can't wait for the metal temp wall to be gone and the rest of the house to be completed so the house quits acting like an oven.

So, don't do anything *I* do or listen to anything *I* say, because

Because why?

On the plastic recycling thing, don't you also have to take into consideration the energy/waste/water/whatever else used during the recycling (transporting to, cleaning, breaking down, making into new whatever, transporting to new places, all of the warehouse everythings, etc) to weigh against you just washing your glass glasses for reuse at home? I'm not well-read in the envirwhacko department so these are honest (& completely ignorant) questions I've always had.

But, yeah, it all comes down to each of us only being able to do so much, based on our individual circumstances. I wish everyone would remember that, especially the preachier types (not referring to you because you definitely don't come off as preachy, imo).

Off to check out your links...0

Oldnovice said...

Because why?

I just mentioned at least three areas where I'm miserably failing and you ask why you shouldn't listen to me? d'oh! :-)

On the plastic recycling thing, don't you also have to take into consideration the

Probably right, but I'm not the one who buys the lemonade or the one who drinks the lemonade, so my concentration should be/is on what *I* can do. Em has enough to deal with without taking away his favorite lemonade. :-) <--That'll be on my list of things to do NEXT year! lol.

Diane said...

I just mentioned at least three areas where I'm miserably failing and you ask why you shouldn't listen to me?

Yes! I'm thick-headed that way. I've learned quite a bit from you over the past few years, ya know. You now have an obligation to continue my education. At least until I'm a grown-up (or start acting like one).

The recycled plastic question was just a general, all-purpose one that I've always wondered. Other than not needing (as many) new materials, does it take less energy, make a smaller footprint, kill less Bambis, etc, to make a bottle out of recycled stuff than from new? That, rather than when you'd be beating Em into submission, was my question.

Google is my friend. I think I'll go explore the recycling world on the internet...

Oldnovice said...

Other than not needing (as many) new materials, does it take less energy, make a smaller footprint, kill less Bambis, etc, to make a bottle out of recycled stuff than from new?

No. 1 and I discussed this a little last night during our weekly Boggle (which we all know is just an excuse for us to get together, drink too much wine, and talk for hours on end about anything and everything). Someone told her that it actually uses more energy to recycle the bottles than it does to make a new one.

I can't remember who the "someone" was; I mentioned too much wine, right? lol.

I found some pretty neat glass bottles online for sale with metal lids, but then my cheapskating self got to thinking that I could just buy half a gallon of wine in a glass bottle with a metal lid, drink the wine and save the bottle. That's when Em said, "But I LIKE my Minute Maid Lemonade!"

Speaking of glass containers, I also spent almost $70 at the Thrift Store this past Monday and one of the things I bought was a box of canning jars. I have NEVER canned, so these go in the garage filed under "Retirement Activities". I was actually thinking they'd be handy for saving leftovers, foodstuffs included in No. 1's care packages, etc.

More stuff I got: 3 baskets, several containers with tight lids for No. 1 to keep bread, etc. They have a major tree roach problem at Dave's house. Summer shorts & shirts for me because I'm now down to a size 8, a small shelf for No. 1's CDs, some cooking articles for No. 1, a no-stick frying pan for me and I can't remember what else. I learned that the Monday old people discount is only on clothes. Who Knew? I'd only BOUGHT clothes there previously. I wanted a pair of cufflinks and a necklace, but forgot to get them from the clerk when I checked out. We'll check back there next Monday and see if they're still there.

Oldnovice said...

I've learned quite a bit from you over the past few years, ya know. You now have an obligation to continue my education.

HAH! *I* would have said that *I*'d learned quite a bit from YOU over the past few years. So, I guess this means we have a symbiotic relationship going on.

Heather said...

So just my two sense for this but about your cavity problem I think there may be two reason: the first is that they have proved that genetics plays into the health of your teeth. No matter what I do, or how I take car I always end up with at least three cavities when I go to the dentist. I actually consider it good if I only have three.

The second point is that you say you eat healthy fruits and veggies, well some of those fruits have more sugar than candy. Something my dentist told me a couple years ago.

So you can't be at fault for your teeth.

Heather said...

By the way I had to change my account I couldn't remember my password so it would let me comment. :)

Oldnovice said...

Good to see you, Silly-O!

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