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We Want Power

It was delightful to have a friend stay with us during the marriage conference. It did get a little rough around the edges when the power line in our yard went down under the force of the blizzard, three days before the conference began. Instead of running on eight cylinders, crunching numbers, printing name tags and creating childcare lists, life suddenly went into slow motion while my mind tried to focus on keeping children warm, collecting kindling and finding food.

The darkness began early and stayed late, I found, making my mental functions somewhat dimmed as well. The chill of the house dipped to 44 degrees, even with an extension cord running from our neighbor's house to keep a third of the furnace going at a time. A water bed is a welcome haven in winter, when the heater has juice, but when the heat goes off it becomes an ominous bag of water trying to suck the warmth out of your body. We tried to protect ourselves from the heat sucking by layering ten quilts under us as well as the ten over us. I had a sense of what a caterpillar feels like as the cocoon is sealed shut.... One kind friend brought us dinner on a sled, two others made us breakfast by candlelight. Several neighbors invited our children over to play in a warm livingroom, so they could finally take their coats off. I tried to spin it in my mind as a semi vacation, after all I was not doing laundry, dishes or vacuuming. It reminded me of camping, in a half hearted sort of way. The phone could not ring, the computer could not boot up.

I am still amazed that a policeman found our cell phone number to call on Saturday and ask if we did indeed have a live wire in our yard and three young children. We did. Somehow that yanked us to the top of the priority list for the overworked and exhausted repairmen who had thousands of houses to restore. The lights were on within the hour.

We laughed to realize that our unflappable house guest (who has stayed in remote villages in Costa Rica that I daresay did not have amenities either) is actually a world expert on alternative energy. He did not however think to bring his 5 meter windpower blades, nor the solar panels he knows so much about. You can, by the way, find his name on the cover of the book "Windpower for Dummies." ( "Ian," I asked, "what is the bottom line in your book?" "Windpower is not for dummies.")

It all seemed like a Divine Metaphor, aimed to nail home my conviction that working on your marriage is not a when-it-is-convenient-and-you-have-nothing-else-pressing activity. It is about showing up when it is hard...when the kids are naughty, the bank account is caving in, and your posture resembles a vulture. Paying quality attention to your relationship when you feel healthy, wealthy and wise is no more admirable than an airplane pilot who takes credit for a smooth ride when the air conditions are ideal. What you WANT is a pilot who can think straight and act quickly with wind sheer, faulty equipment and a landing attendant who got a flat tire.

I loved and was startled by what Ian texted me as he was on his way to the airport headed home on Tuesday. "Your living room is full of quilts, but it is drafty and cold. I could help you change that."
Change it? Is it in the realm of possibility to have a warm house that yawns with high ceilings, has leaky windows on the north facing side and four stories? Apparently, there are solutions that could keep some of our loose change in the bank between November and February, and out of the envelope on its way to PECO Power. (much as I love them given recent events)
He sent me a bunch of links about window quilts, caulking, foam inserts for the fireplace and energy audits. I am excited. Maybe we can do this.
We are in the business of helping people make marriage energy audits. People who have kept their emotional coats on for years, having long ago given up that they could feel toasty in their own relationships, can change too. If the people who came to our workshop on Having Fun in Your Marriage are any barometer, Global Warming could be happening right in your own home.