Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Going solar!!

We're doing it! Friday, we found out that we were one of 50 households who won a zero-interest loan through the city of Pendleton, OR!!! There were 93 households who applied, so we feel incredibly lucky! We'll have 4 years to pay back the loan, and will have to agree to a lien on our house, but much of that loan will be paid back with tax rebates that we should be getting in the next 3 years. We also met with the actual contractor who measured our roof, looked at the inside and outside of it, and inspected the electric system. Once again, he said we have a "near perfect" place for solar on our roof. We'll be getting the actual bid in the mail soon, signing the paperwork, and hopefully the company will start installing in June, or July. They have about 200 households who've signed up who are in various stages of commitment for the mass city project, so that should cut costs even more.

The drawing for the loan awards was done at Friday's Growers' Market here in Pendleton. While we missed the actual drawing, a white board was left up with all the names in place of who won the awards and who didn't. They wrote each name down in the order they drew them, and if any of the 50 households for some reason can't go through with a solar array installation, then next in line will be eligible. Looking at the list kind of reminded me of high school try-outs for sports or plays. While we're thrilled to be on the "in list", this being the small town that it is, we knew some of the people who didn't get one of the loans.... co-workers, neighbors, friends... So it's a bit bitter sweet, since we wish all 93 families could get a similar loan. We've also been learning just who in town will also be going solar and have found out a few of our neighbors will also be on this adventure with us, which really makes us happy, since we'll have someone else to compare notes with. But until I have more notes to share ourselves, shine on, shine on....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Solar site assessment

Spring is a busy time for our family, as it is with many others. Before it gets any later though, I thought I'd try to give an update of our solar electric journey.

A few weeks ago, we had the Energy Trust of Oregon come out and do a home evaluation, both for its current energy efficiency, and its solar electric site "value". Their folks climbed up in our attic crawl space, and under our house, looked at our heat and air conditioner, water heater, and gas and electric bills. They made a few minor recommendations, but our house is relatively new (12 years old), so it's in pretty good shape. Next, the solar evaluation was also an easy one. There was a neat tool the evaluator used to determine our exposure and shade. It had a graph of sun exposure, and a reflective dome fit over it that would show the percent of shade a site had. It was a low-tech tool for a high tech adventure!!

We suspected what the Energy Trust person confirmed, that we have 100% solar exposure... Our roof in the front faces due South, and we have no shade blocking it. We also have room on our electric circuit breaker to expand. We have space on our roof for a 3-4 kilowatt solar array. We also expressed interest in solar hot water heat, but right now the best incentives are for solar power.

If anyone else is interested in renewable energy or efficiency, I found this website for a list of state by state renewable/ energy efficiency money incentives. It depends on where you live, but most states have more than a few programs out there.

Since our initial evaluation, we have applied for the city's loan program, and were supposed to have the actual solar/roof contractor our today to give us a bid on exactly how much it's going to cost, but right now it's raining pretty good, and that appointment was canceled and will be rescheduled for later this week. I'll let you know what happens!!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pendleton Quilt Show

OK! I'm now officially "hooked" on quilt shows! I not only attended my 2nd quilt show this week-end, but since it was here in town, and since I've become a fixture at the local quilt shop, I volunteered to help out. I'm kicking myself for forgetting my camera during set-up though. I wish I could show you just how much work goes into these events!! I spent a good chunk of Friday helping set up all the frames that the quilts hang from, and carrying many, many quilts from car to auditorium, to quilt frame. It was quite a treat to pull each quilt out of its protective bag and see them. Kind of like unwrapping Christmas presents! And the care and attention that goes into handling these treasures is something I enjoyed begin part of. I also got to meet and became acquainted with some wonderful quilters here in Pendleton.

There were about 200 quilts in the show, including 2 sets of "challenge quilts". One set all had to use the same fabric in part of the quilt, the other set was the "Round-Up Quilts", making a quilt that celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Pendleton Rodeo, coming up in September. This time I wasn't quite as overwhelmed, got to go without kids, and really took the time to read the story that was attached to each quilt. Some were the result of classes taken, "block swaps" or "block of the month" clubs. Some were art quilts, the inspiration coming from countless places. Some were fun patterns, some were done during rehabilitation from illnesses. Many of the quilts were made as gifts, for birthdays, graduations, weddings, birth of babies, or for other special events. It reminded me of just how special these quilts are. I really can't think of any other item that is as useful and as beautiful as a quilt. It fulfills such a basic need: warmth. And to be wrapped up in a work of art that was made by a loved one is such a wonderful thing! Of course the recipient often doesn't know that it's just as much fun to make these quilts as it is to use them. When I make a quilt as a gift, it's such an incredible opportunity to reflect and meditate on that person as each stitch falls into place.

Because of this I was so incredibly moved by this quilt's story:

It was started as a 16th birthday present for this mother's son. The "boy" in a boy/girl twin pair. I have a twin brother, so immediately I felt a connection. Unfortunately her son died in a freak skate boarding accident before he reached his 16th birthday. He was wearing a helmet, but the impact injured his brain stem, and he died shortly after. It took this woman many years to be able to pick up this quilt again and finish it this year, what would have been his 21st. I was so incredibly touched by this story. I walked around with tears in my eyes for a good bit of the show, and still am in awe at how this mother was able to find the strength to finish such a quilt and how she was able to put it in a public show. I can only begin to imagine the tears that went into finishing this quilt, and hope that she was able to find some comfort, healing and peace as she completed it. I am so grateful for her sharing it at the show. It's a beautiful quilt, but its story made it my favorite.