civic sacrament

About twenty years ago I signed up to be an election judge. I had switched from a full time schedule to working just three days a week, so I regularly had Tuesdays off. It seemed like a good time to step forward and help my community make its voice heard.

You meet all kinds of people in the polling place. I think the most memorable voter I ever met was a woman who called me over to discuss her voting dilemma, I think in 2004.  She said she was having trouble deciding who to cast her presidential vote for, because she didn’t really like any of the candidates. They all fell short of the standards she felt candidates should meet. “The people I would really like to see on the ballot are Paul Wellstone, Jesus, and Princess Diana,” she explained. I gently advised her that while those were not going to be realistic possibilities, since all three of them were dead, and only one of them had even been a U.S. citizen, she was quite free to write in any name she chose.

The other memorable thing about the woman was that she had large plastic bags on both hands, secured at the wrists by rubber bands. She was ahead of her time.

I will be staying home this election day, trying to keep myself safe, after voting early. I’ll miss watching this exercise of political power by ordinary citizens. Of all the unsettling changes that COVID-19 has brought, this may be the most unsettling for me. So far.

Any disruptions, major or minor, that have arisen for you lately due to COVID-19? (Or for any other reason, for that matter?)

59 thoughts on “civic sacrament”

  1. I’ve voted twice so far.

    It amused me to fill in the little vote boxes of my mail-in ballot with the emphatic black of a Sharpie pen, giving the dyspeptic narcissist a taste of his own medicine. But all those stupid judgeship races on the back side of the ballot soaked up Sharpie ink that showed up on the front side. After a call to the elections people, that ballot was invalidated and a replacement mailed to me. I filled it out with a Flair pen that did not soak through, and I skipped the silliness of voting for all those uncontested judges.

    The president wants us to vote early and often. Well, I have. But I’m content to let it go now.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. the one judge here that is in a contest is paul theisen whovchose the most hard right wing incompetent trump boob to run against
          hope he wins


  2. My work is very disrupted by covid. Telehealth is difficult, especially doing diagnostic interviews remotely. Daughter is flying home for Christmas. She is excited to come and veg out while we cook for her. She knows we don’t go anywhere, and as she and her social/work cohort has been very careful with limiting their activities, the airplane is the major concern, but she will remain masked the entire trip.
    I will vote this Saturday. The major disruption now is the significant winter storm that is predicted to hit tomorrow night.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is hard to process all the information coming at us. The latest studies suggest flying is safe. State health officials have begun identifying small family gatherings–Thanksgiving, for example–as a serious threat.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. daughter tara will have grandson#2 a week after thanksgiving. ari will be 2 1/2.
    this week he started into a new phase of evolution in that he finds a box of stuff and throws it. all over the room. i saw the beginnings of it last week at his moms house and here where he took all the little animals in a plastic container and started throwing them in all directions. well i’m ok with that and after they are all thrown what then… he looks for something else to throw or picks up the animals and throws them again or if i pick them up and put them back in the box he delights on throwing them again. there’s a problem if they are big plastic animals and the targets are the dogs but they let him know how they feel about that and they’ll work it out
    this is a long way to get to the punchline here…
    taras mom is not ok with ari throwing stuff and after 2 1/2 hours of watching ari yesterday she called tara and had her come and get ari who was out of control. tara has to work. so she is in trouble if her mom can’t watch ari for her 2 days a week and what about when fred arrives in early december?
    my sister carolyn works at costco (got bullied out of her teaching job last year) and has been okd to join family gatherings with a mask out doors and not being allowed hugging or physical contact.
    well tara is wondering with the new revelations that touching is not as scary as once believed and if you don’t sneeze in a persons face your health should be ok should she consider allowing tara to be with ari for self serving reasons
    how about thanksgiving ? emma will be home from college at chicago and is pretty much quarantined while going to online classes but devin lives at covid central with 2 hcmc nurses and a hennipen county judge who is a trumpy and goes to the club for daily workouts and nod nod wink wink keeps social distancing as part of his judge work posture. devin has been great about staying outside with a mask and keeping distance but thanksgiving is tough to do that way. we also have a tradition of having another kosovo family over for thanksgiving but she works as a day care worker with covid doctors families and he tutors kids both online and in person so they are out…
    my mom is 90 and the old folks co op she lives in is very strict about exposure so she’s good there but we don’t want to kill her over here with exposure.
    it’s a big deal.
    i come in contact with people and wear a mask and trust they get it but some just don’t. i quit a breakfast group because they’ve spoken of trumps vision for ending this as their chosen view. i’m outta here…
    a guy came out to the warehouse last week to buy tires and after telling me the economy needs to get going and masks do nothing and this will all handle itself. i told him he and i listen to different radio stations and he got uppity. stop listening to that cnn crap. they are trying to win the election and take away our freedom. his parting shot was “ i don’t need a mask , i’ve got jesus on my side!!!”
    yeah there’s a covid disruption or two going on

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I don’t think we will have a family Thanksgiving this year. I would class that one as a major disruption, but that’s survivable.

    One minor thing I miss is being able to use a reusable coffee cup when I get coffee out.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What most disrupts our lives is very limited contact with our daughter and her family. As a kidney donor my daughter is in the high risk category. Even her Trumpite church members wear masks and stay back from her. But she has a high risk job too. But her one kidney was just tested and is working close to the work of two kidneys.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There have been a lot of disruptions because of Covid but the hardest one is not being able to go inside my sister’s house. We are very close and I usually spend a lot of time there. But my brother-in-law has several co-morbidities and is very concerned/stressed about the virus. My sister has been able to work from home and he is retired so that helps. But no one, including their daughters, goes into the house. We have been able to get together outside but the cold, snowy weather will put a halt to that. We can certainly stay in touch via technology but I desperately miss the face to face in person interaction, the hugs, and cuddling with their cats. Why oh why couldn’t we have had decent national leadership in place to impose strict regulations early on and try to mitigate the spread and severity of this nasty virus?!? I could spout much more about this but it will only raise my BP so I will stop here and go eat my breakfast. BTW, I sent my ballot in last month and it has been received, accepted, and will be counted.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Well, I’d have to say losing the job is the big one for me. I haven’t quite come to terms with what to do with all of my time yet. I had planned on a lot of volunteering when I retired and visiting and neither of those things are happening.

    YA and I have made the decision that unless there’s a miracle in the next four weeks we will not be doing Thanksgiving as we have always done it, which is with very close friends of ours in the northern suburbs. Unfortunately my friends have three daughters and three sons-in-law and between them 12 children. That’s 20 people not even including YA and myself in the house. YA is less stressed about this than I am because she thinks I’m going to re-create every single one of her favorite Thanksgiving dishes myself on the day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Daughter has a couple of requests for Christmas, but she assured me she isn’t expecting me to do Thanksgiving for her when she is home for Christmas. I have done that before. She hints, though, that a side of dressing would be appreciated, as would garlic mashed potatoes. We shall have a ribeye roast. She also wants turkey chipotle chowder one of the days she is home.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Neither of us will eat seven pounds of meat in one sitting, and obviously neither of us will have the option of white meat. Life is rough sometimes.


      1. YA Wants mashed potatoes, cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, sage dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, my vegetarian stuffing. And unfortunately the one thing that I really want, sweet potato casserole isn’t on her list. I’m not sure I can get all that done in one day.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. She can cook if she wants to…she already said she would do the green bean casserole. I pointed out to her that was the easiest of the dishes that she was asking for!!


    2. sorry vs
      is the job officially gone or is bi just waiting ?
      you are such a huge benefit i can’t imagine just shutting off the gas
      they have other needs elsewhere too

      are you retiring or waiting until this too passes

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I am still furloughed, but not holding my breath about how long this will last and whether they’ll ask me back.


        1. yes it’s hard to imagine when that industry will be up and rolling again but you are so strong i don’t see how they can pass when an opportunity arises

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi-
    Course the theater season was disrupted for me. Both working and attending. I had just bought a season membership to the Hennepin Season and all the Broadway shows. Patience is a virtue, right?
    Honestly, it’s been really nice not having any shows and I had a really good spring and summer just doing my thing and not getting distracted by shows. Kinda makes me re-evaluate.
    And in March we kept saying ‘Can you imagine if this had started in November? Well… here we are. Yeah. Maybe different / better leadership would have helped? I think it would have certainly been different, hard to say what exactly would have happen because some people wouldn’t have changed their habits.

    I’ve been thinking we probably won’t be gathering for Christmas.
    Mom’s 94. Her senior place has been pretty careful. She is able to get out now and they are allowing 1 person and a substitute in. She’s handled it all well. But she’s always been the type to roll with it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Many people who are over 90 survive COVID-19, but it is very sobering to look at the statistics on the daily report from the department of health. The bad outcomes are so disproportionate, it’s pretty frightening for seniors.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Considering how Covid has impacted so many lives in major ways, I’m almost ashamed to admit that our daily lives have needed only minor adjustments.

    I haven’t had a haircut since March 16th, and have only four times met up with a friend for a cup of coffee or a meal outdoors. By the looks of it, it’ll be a good while before we can do that again. I do visit my friend, Philip, every Sunday evening to cook him dinner, but I don’t eat with him. He is on hospice care, and is visited five days a week by a PCA and a couple of times a week by a nurse, I trust that they are all taking necessary precautions.

    I have ordered a leg quarter of a big turkey for Thanksgiving, just enough for the two of us, plus some leftovers. I’m afraid that this will be a rather sad holiday season for a lot of my friends.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. yeah but there are so many wonderful places to revisit with time
      and do many little invisible places in maine and new mexico and oregon and idaho
      maybe it’s not paris but paris isn’t colorado either

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I used to call myself the happiest guy in this building. That wasn’t much of a claim, as there are few men here and they are a dour lot, mostly. Then my computer died. Suddenly I was cut off from my friends and entertainment. I bought a new computer but needed my daughter to set it up, and she was not allowed in the building.

    I had a weird little tablet computer. With it I could read email and surf the internet, but I couldn’t write to anyone or comment here. It was like one of those movies where somebody dies and his ghost walks among his friends without any way to speak to them.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I can imagine not helping with the election would be hard, Linda. This time especially, there is something satisfying about being able to do ANYthing to help it along.

    The hardest part here was not being able to see my mom, and her not understanding what Covid was all about. I’ve written details before, but I believe she’d still be alive if not for the extreme isolation.

    And the loss of our singing groups would be right up there – with no end in sight. Husband and I keep saying we’ll do some singing on our own Mom’s elec. piano which is now here – but so far we’ve only done that once. I suppose there’s more chance of that, as outdoor gatherings with friends drop away, and we’ll have more time on our hands.

    It was hard being totally without the public library at first – took Winona’s a couple of months to create curbside pick-up, and I was REALLY happy to get some new books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Part of grieving a parent’s death is thinking about how things might have been different if something had or hadn’t happened. Eventually, though, time goes on and it becomes a part of your personal history, and the details are less important. My mother died seventeen years ago, and I worried about the circumstances for awhile. But if it hadn’t happened then, under those specific circumstances, it would likely have happened soon after, with slightly different circumstances but the same outcome. There are losses where it didn’t have to happen, and those are awful. And there are losses where it did have to happen, and those are equally awful but in a different way.

      No getting away from the sadness.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that perspective, Linda. I know my friend, Philip, won’t last much longer, but I’m so grateful that he’s not isolated in a place where his friends can’t visit him. That would not be possible if he were still in the assisted living facility where your aunt was, as that place, understandably, is locked down pretty tight.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. I did get my ballot in today. I had filled it out, and then waffled on my choice for school board, so I went down to election headquarters and asked for a new ballot. Filled it out and turned in in. I guess this will be a memorable year, voting early in the midst of a snowstorm.

    The title of today’s post comes from a quote by Theodore Hesburgh – “Voting is a civic sacrament.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really love this song. When I first got the CD, I played it over and over again. In fact on a regular traffic day from my house to my office I could play the song five full times.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, I will have a look at your site. Do you have any thoughts on ranked choice voting? I’ve long thought that the best way to increase voter participation would be to have more candidates appealing to more niches of the electorate, with the real possibility of advancing to office.


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