Of course my father forever being Devil's Advocate said, "I want to see what you're going to do during Earth Hour when your clothes aren't finished washing." I had that covered. The washer and dryer would temporarily be turned off. I made sure to hook up my laptop so they could check their e-mail before Earth Hour. I ate. I helped my father with the backyard lawn and walked their dog. (The last two were purely for pleasure--one reason I've been sworn to secrecy about, ha, ha, ha, [I've got your back, Dad], and the other because I'm obsessed with their dog. I wish my real estate company would rethink the idea of having large dogs in apartments. I'd kidnap Faith in a heartbeat.)
My mother conveniently waited until around 7 p.m. to run "shopping errands" and didn't get back until around 9:15 p.m. Booooo! My father, on the other hand, was entertaining to say the least about Earth Hour 2011. He waited until 8:20 p.m. to suddenly need to iron a shirt, like there was no possible way that he could iron it after Earth Hour. What he didn't know was I'd already walked around unplugging everything about an hour before so most of the stuff was already off. I left him in the kitchen with the light on and his iron and snatched out the rest of the plugs, lit candles (my mother yelled at me for lighting her "good" candles when she came home to darkness), loaded up a couple of flashlights and got comfy on the couch to read the newspaper.
Nine minutes after Earth Hour 2011 started, my father came up front sighing all over the place, but he flopped down. And guess what? We had a good time. We talked about everything from the pros and cons of Jody Weis not being the superintendent to both of our jobs to my apartment to childhood memories. It was the type of time I remember having as a Girl Scout when we sat around campfire. Technology can get in the way sometimes. Too many things to distract people makes them less likely to talk directly to each other. (The next time you get on an el, notice how many people are sitting next to people they know but are on the phone with someone else. You better believe when the person physically not sitting next to them is gone, they'll probably call each other up to talk.)
My mother finished complaining about her candles and sat in the dining room reading "Breaking Dawn" while my father and I kept on talking. She grumbled about bumping into the ironing board, but I just laughed at her. Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. They even let me extend Earth Hour nine minutes since it took my father nine minutes to get started. Afterward, my mother admitted that she really meant to be back on time in the middle of complaining about me not plugging everything back. My father pointed out what I needed to plug in, too. I don't even think they use half the stuff they made me plug back in, but a deal is a deal. I had a great time with them. And guess what? I really did finish my laundry almost right on time. Before Earth Hour 2011 started, I only had one load (out of seven total, including their stuff) that needed to go in the dryer. I stopped the dryer at 8:30 p.m., and started it again at 9:40 p.m. I finished right before 11 p.m., and was out the door.
My father even gave me a big kiss on the forehead and a hug for helping him in the backyard, bringing my computer, and my mother was too excited to get her turkey tacos and not have to buy antivirus software. My advice to the folks who want to get more people involved--make it worth it for them, too, even when they don't know it is. I got what I wanted (family time during Earth Hour) and they got what they didn't even know they wanted (clean laundry, free antivirus software, free dinner and several albums of music on my mother's mp3 player that she'd been saying she was going to put on there for several months).
Good times. Until next year...
P.S. For the folks who think Earth Hour is pointless, click this link:
Read this quote: "Last year during Earth Hour … we were able to save enough energy to remove more than 124,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That's the equivalent of planting 15 acres of trees," a Chicago utilities spokeswoman said.
According to EarthHour.org, there are almost five million supporters and a global network in over 100 countries.
P.P.S. Look at the Tribune during Earth Hour 2011 in this In the Chi-Loop blog.