That’s Mrs. Quixote to you

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Et tu, Farm and Dairy? Recently, this very newspaper ran an article about the ability to have your very own windmill to create electricity for personal use.

They did this to excite, inform and because they wish to ruin my life.

Rough

I am not a pioneer. I have been heard to say (often and loudly) that it would pay Mr. Wonderful to remember that he did not marry Ma Walton.

I was raised a city kid. I turned a spigot and water came out. I flipped a switch and lights came on. I turned a thermostat to 80 and my mother had a coronary. This is how I roll.

Water

Then we moved to the country. Overnight I went from a wholly reliant on public utilities type of person to someone with the equivalent of her own water treatment plant in the basement.

This is to treat our well water which is hard as iron and will cut you if left untamed. We run it through our own little answer to a municipal treatment plant just to beat it into potable submission.

Heat

We also heat with wood in order to stay abreast of heating bills running slightly less than the national debt.

While a money saver, the wood stove and all the resultant stacking and chopping (and swearing) does have a distinct air of the pioneer about it. I even relented and accepted a clothesline this year.

Yes, while my friends were caving to central air (we don’t have it), I finally adapted to laundry technology of the 1300s.

Wind

Now, with energy bills skyrocketing, Mr. Wonderful is blowing some serious hot air about catching the wind. Windmills to be exact.

Our electric bills run upward of $200 per month. This would seem reasonable until you factor in that we have no air conditioning, no electric heat, and are apparently paying that rate to power a microwave and a clock radio.

Every six months or so I get all worked up about it and call the local power company to question if, perhaps, we have electricity leaking out somewhere?

They always patiently explain to me all about kilowatt pricing and transmission fees and charge-backs, and I hang up wholly satisfied that I am never going to understand what the heck they are talking about. Then I worry about that electric leak some more.

Grid

Now, my own little answer to Don Quixote is gearing up to take us off the grid. He sees gold — or kilowatts — in them there wind gusts!

It should come as no shock this scares me. I am not what you would consider a “living off the grid” type of gal.

I’m a firmly “on the grid” type. I love the grid. I embrace the grid. I was the kid who left every light on in every room I ever entered just to show my appreciation for the grid.

I’m not anti-windmill exactly. It would be nice to imagine that the wind that routinely peels the shingles off this old house could be made to “give back” somehow.

To imagine that every time a butterfly flaps its wings I can get a credit from the electric company for my troubles. It’s the money, and the mess, that cause me pause.

Any happily married woman knows this is how all major projects start. First it’s just a kernel of an idea. A flicker of the tiniest flame. At that point you can still stamp it out.

“Windmills honey? Really? And me without my tulips and little wooden shoes!”
I poked fun at his windy aspirations every chance I got. I subscribe to the “no I’m laughing at you — not with you” school of thought.

This kept the whole windmill thing at bay — for a time.

Support

Then supporting documentation arrived in the pages of a reliable newspaper confirming what he had long suspected but could not prove. He is not alone. There are other windmillers out there.

Dreaming big dreams of pulling the plug on the electric company.

As I type a brisk breeze is blowing across the yard. Trees are swaying, swings are swinging as if pushed by an unseen hand, and I have just opened the latest installment of the college-fund-turned-electric-bill that now runs my life.

All I can wonder, as I listen to the soft “shush” of the wind in the woods, is if this is the sound the last bit of my resistance — and my sanity — makes as it blows merrily away?

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt will flap her arms in a cyclical fashion for money. She welcomes comments c/o lifeoutloud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460; and online at http://kymberly.typepad.com/life.)

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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