A Voting Reflection

Several years ago (actually 2011-is that a few?)  I posted a copy of an Op Ed that I had published in a local paper Voting Booth Nostalgia .

I bemoaned the switch from  “now-vintage” voting booths with levers, tabs and curtains to the digital scanning method of voting.

Local school budgets are up for voter approval today. My 19 yr old daughter is home from college for a few weeks . So I told her she was eligible to cast her ballot. My husband even tried to entice her to participate by telling her that this was her chance to use the old voting booths.

Despite what my hypothesis was in my OpEd Voting Booth Nostalgia ,

she was totally against my expectations (should I be surprised?)

Her reaction was: “Well, I’m claustrophobic. Those booths would scare me. I would be afraid I couldn’t get out. And I don’t understand how to flip the buttons.”  Who would have thought? I guess my argument was totally wrong. (Actually my argument has been disproven).

Nevertheless, I went to vote today, all excited to pull the lever, and instead was handed a paper ballot and a pen.

The mechanical era is over…

 

Snow and Politics Come to Town

Finally, it snows- on April 4th

I don’t usually discuss politics on this blog, but these are unusual circumstances. With no clear nominee for either party this late in the race, all of a sudden New York has become a high stakes battle ground. Candidates, who normally would bypass this area, are motivated to connect with upstate voters. On Monday, Hillary Clinton was the first one to visit.

Over the years, I have participated in peace demonstrations and marches for women’s rights, but never in a campaign rally. Excitedly, I contacted a friend who wanted to join me. Her 17-year old daughter also wanted to bring a friend. Both of them will be able to vote in the general election, so I thought this was a fantastic way for them to start their voting career.

The day of the rally was the only day we have received significant snow since January. By 3pm it was up to 5 inches. Thankfully they did not cancel the event, but it made driving messy and it was very challenging to find a parking spot. By the time we found one on a side street several blocks from the site, people were already walking away, shaking their heads that we would never be able to get in. Still, we were too excited to turn around. We found the end of the line that wrapped around the building into the parking lot and there we stood- in the snow and cold- hoping we would be lucky enough to get in.

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As the time passed, we chatted with fellow ralliers who said they hadn’t seen lines like this even for Black Friday. Every so often, a group would break away from the line in defeat, either out of frustration or frostbite. Occasionally a staff member would walk down the queue and every 10-20 feet make an announcement about the progress of the security check, when Hillary was expected, or promise that they were going to get everyone in.

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Even though I was bundled up in my long parka, it was freezing cold. I offered my hat to my friend, but the young women were frozen. I felt torn between wanting to see Hillary or get the kids back to the car to warm up. As we crept closer to the entrance, we saw the Secret Service drive behind the building and few moments later we could distinguish cheers from inside.

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My husband was home by the fire, following the news on tv and texting me updates on who the various speakers were- assuring me that it was not yet Hillary the crowd was cheering. We finally entered the building and, just before we walked through the metal detectors, the security official told us that Hillary was just starting so we wouldn’t miss much.

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We quickly entered the gym and, amazingly, found plenty of space to stand with a good view of the stage. We were within 50 feet and felt embraced by the energy of the crowd.

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Every time Hillary paused, a wild cheer and applause would erupt. The students in the bleachers would wave their pompoms and raise the letters that spelled her name.

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Hillary knew how to rally the crowd by continually connecting with people in every direction to show them that she cared. She seemed very warm and genuine and the crowd loved her. After it was over, I congratulated my friend’s daughter on her first rally at a much younger age than me or her mom. I hope the long wait in the cold will not discourage her from doing it again. But was it worth it? #HillYes!

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When we got back to my car, I discovered a parking ticket on my windshield. Apparently the empty spot I had found was blocking someone’s garageless, unmarked driveway, buried under the snow. Oh well, I will consider it part of my campaign contribution. Immediately after this event, all the other candidates announced stops in the area prior to the April 19th primary. It is very flattering, but I think I will pass. One is enough for this week.

Recycling brings a sigh of relief

A some of you may know, April 22 is Earth Day, and many communities  plan events for environmental awareness. In my town, today was a big recycling project. People brought electronics, scrap metal, clothing, textiles, housewares,  books and paper documents to the park where their items would then be sorted and taken to a recycling facility.

This year, in addition to several years worth of old bills and stacks of paper we no longer needed to save, I was able to finally let go of something that brought a great sigh of relief…

A week ago, my youngest made his decision on where he is going to college this fall! It seems like this process of searching colleges, visiting campuses, writing applications and the waiting…. oh the agonizing waiting for responses… has been going on forever. In actuality, it started just 6 years ago- which kind of is forever in a parent’s mind. My eldest spent hours reading about schools and sending away for brochures. She also worked hard at her preparation for college and took SATs and ACTs multiple times. There was a stack of practice test books on the shelf — more than a foot wide. Then there were the AP exam books- World History, Biology, Calculus- and the SAT II Subject practice tests- Math II and English. Again, all of these added up to at least another foot of space on the shelf.     IMG_3179

 

 

Lastly, there were the books ranking colleges, advising how to write a college essay and hundreds of pamphlets, brochures and other promotional material that both of my children had accumulated either in the mail or during campus visits. I probably should have taken a photo of the massive amount of paper these items took up, but, truthfully, I was so eager and ready to get rid of it. I never considered I would want to see it again. These collective items only symbolized the ongoing process of getting ready for college and the enormous amounts of stress that were heaped upon all members of the family.

Anyway, my husband and I loaded up our car and drove to the park this afternoon. The man who directed us to the paper recycling location was a friend. When I told him what we were bringing, he agreed that we must be very relieved to have this process -of prepping our kids for college and actually getting them both into a school of their choice- behind us.

As I carried the huge armload of practice test books to the table, a volunteer followed me with the heavy bag of brochures. I placed the pile on the table for the other students to deal with and watched as the one carrying the bag dumped its contents into the giant recycling dumpster. I breathed a sigh of relief as I walked back to my car. I looked at my husband and smiled, “Isn’t it great to have this behind us!” He smiled as we drove away. “Happy Earth Day!”

 

Family Balancing Act

As we usher in the new year, I am so happy to have my  daughter home from France, where she has spent the last semester. My son has already had multiple acceptances at colleges for next year, so this should be a no stress time, right? We had a family bonding week in Florida during the holidays that really brought us back together.

Tonight, due to my son’s insistence, we planned a Fondue dinner with some grass-fed beef we bought from a local farmer that he was dying to test. My daughter was trying to regain her figure after a semester of French cuisine – so the dining requirements were quite challenging. However, we set up a beautiful 2 pot fondue system -one with oil, the other with a broth. The oil was working well but the broth was underheated. My husband, the physicist, decide to up the ante and add a pot of alcohol to the broth heat source. Unfortunately, he spilled the alcohol and set the table on fire! I wish I had a picture to share, but obviously quick action was the priority. He grabbed the fire extinguisher-which we have not used in 20+ years and sprayed the fire which was rapidly spreading across our table. Ironically , over our vacation, we had tried to explain to our children how to use a fire extinguisher if there was ever a problem.

By the time he was done putting the flames out, our dinner was coated in white residue and there were burns on one of the placemats . The table had a permanent burn in the surface.  None of the food was considered edible.

Much to my son’s dismay, we threw everything out and decided to go to a restaurant. We chose one within 5 minutes of our house where we could each choose something to our dietary needs – and left satisfied and in a much better mood. However, we did have to come home to the remnants of our disaster.

Now that it is dealt with, I am happy to say all is good- but it is an extremely unusual way to usher in the new year.

Wishing you and yours a very happy and peaceful 2016!

 

Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite

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Last night, my husband and I went out to a local restaurant and then a live musical show with another couple. It was a Saturday night and it should be our right to enjoy these activities without fear of endangerment. The terrorists who carried out these attacks in Paris don’t deserve to be called human. They are evil and have committed heinous deeds. I find it hard to believe that there is a higher benevolent power that condones the slaughter of innocents in his/her name.

Je t’aime Paris! It is the city of love and legend. It is the place I would go for a romantic getaway- which I have done on more than one occasion; and I am sure a number of the victims were there for the same reason.

I am saddened to learn that Paris has been attacked by Islamic extremists. The city is on  lockdown and the French borders are closed. The only consolation is that my daughter is not among the casualties. She is studying abroad in another city of France- although she had contemplated travelling to Paris for the weekend to see the Eagles of Death Metal perform at the Bataclan theater.

Fortunately (in this case) she had a conflict in her school schedule which changed her decision for weekend travel plans. She has been in France since August and has found the French people to be very friendly. She has enjoyed the freedom of travelling throughout Europe- whether to Switzerland, Netherlands, Spain or within France. What a shame that this wonderful global experience is being dampened by fear and hate.

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President Obama proclaimed that France and America share the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Isn’t that what all the victims of the attack were doing Friday night- good food, entertainment, camaraderie? That is exactly what my husband and I, our friends and countless other people were doing together on Saturday night. While I enjoyed the food and the show, I could not stop thinking about how it would feel if someone came busting through the door with AK-47s or bombs.

While Paris seems far away, I definitely felt like I was attending the show in the spirit of not letting terrorists get us down. My daughter, on the other hand, reported that no one is going to the  cafes or restaurants in her area. I am sure she will have travel restrictions in the coming week.

I don’t know what can be done to  stop the spread of terror, but I hope the next round of presidential debates give us some answers. In the meantime, I am thankful my daughter is safe. And I thank her for all the photos in this post. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of France. Je suis desolee. But we shall overcome….

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So I’m 50 and Now What!!!?#$%&;@

Since my 50th birthday, 2 weeks ago, I have calmed down about the whole Milestone decade thing. My days at work breezed by without a blink. No one knew or cared. Life was the same. The only people that mattered made sure to celebrate me. I had a wonderful time with my siblings and cousins, who are so close to me that we were able to enjoy a very special girls getaway.

As part of my promise to myself,  I saw my PCP. I was very pleased to get a clean bill of health. I received my annual flu shot, my cholesterol and blood pressure report and a referral to get a colonoscopy.

Okay, I’ll admit that one was not a surprise. I knew it was coming. but that doesn’t mean I am looking forward to it. However, I do resolve to take care of myself and do all my tests this year: my mammogram, my eye exam and my dermatologist.

So , as a reward for being so proactive in my health regimen, I decided to reward myself with a facial. I booked one at my local spa. Anti-aging was my goal. I wanted to get some relief for those dark circles and age spots.

I enjoyed a very relaxing facial treatment while she explained the benefits of each product. I was almost convinced that the eye cream with Retinol A, cucumber extract and caffeine was just what I needed to improve my complexion.

When I walked up to the counter and saw the product waiting for me, with an $80 price tag for less than one ounce, I balked. I am not old enough,wrinkled enough, or dull enough to justify such an extravagant and expensive beauty cream. No Thank You! Try me again when I’m 60!

My 50th Birthday Celebration!

Today I am 50 years of age. Notice I did not say “old”.  I do not feel a day older than yesterday. I had a few minutes to reflect on the things I love about myself and what I have accomplished by age 50.

  • I love how healthy and physically fit I feel. I am in good shape and rarely have illnesses.
  • I love my new job, the people I interact with, the programs I am involved in coordinating, the hours I work and the people I work with.
  • I love that I am able to provide health insurance for my whole family.
  • I love that my daughter is quickly becoming an independent and responsible adult.
  • I love that my son has a sense of confidence and direction for his future.
  • I love that my husband is in good health and enjoying his retirement with fun activities that give him (and me) pleasure.
  • I love that we splurged on the new kitchen. Every day it gives me pleasure to cook healthy, delicious meals for family or friends.
  • I love how productive my garden has been this year. I enjoy harvesting bouquets of flowers, pints of raspberries, armloads of collard greens and bunches of fresh herbs.
  • I love the attention my dogs give me- especially on days when I return from work. Whether they want to go for a walk or just cuddle up for a snuggle, they are loyal companions.
  • I love all the outpouring of love and support from my greater family: parents, sisters, cousins, in-laws, who are always there to encourage my endeavors and cheer me up when I need it.
  • I love having the time to compose my thoughts and share my reflections with everyone who follows my blog.

In thinking about all these positive things that I love about being myself at age 50, all the negative things that I fear or hate- like grey hairs, wrinkles, age spots and reading glasses- seem so shallow and insignificant. Anyone who knows me, sees a much more positive picture. Going into my fifties, I still have the same spunk I had when I was in the single digits. This should be a really good decade.

LAURAS

Thanks to all my family who made me feel special!

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