Vote Early and Often

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Yesterday, I voted, and it gave me a kind of high. I did it. I got it done. No more indecision, although there was none for me, where the presidency is concerned. But now I can skip any newspaper articles suggesting to me which way I should vote. I no longer have to sit through televised arguments. I don’t care what they are saying about any of the candidates. It’s a done deal, so leave me alone.

I wrote a similar story about independent voting on this blog called “Voting Independently,” which explains how a blind person can use a machine that is set up with an audio program that reads aloud all the candidates and issues. Differently shaped buttons help you navigate through the ballot. You wear a headset, and the screen goes dark when the headsets are plugged in. It’s the greatest breakthrough for blind voters.

When we arrived at a former department store which has been the venue for early voting for several years, the parking lot was full, and we were afraid we would have to stand in a long line anyway. The place was packed, but the workers were so efficient that there was no wait at all. Of course I had the usual moments of irritation when they wanted to speak with my friend instead of me, but a quiet reminder to them that if they were talking about me, they should talk to me seemed to do the job. And there was some confusion on how to set the machine for audio use, but it only took 2 workers and a couple of minutes, and I was in business. After several minutes at the machine, one of the workers asked my friend if she thought I was having problems, but she explained to them that it takes me longer than the typical voter, because every word is read aloud, and you have to sit through it all before you can vote. Then it makes you review all the choices of candidates and issues, whether you want to or not. But I’ve learned that I can speed through that process by just pushing the down arrow quickly through the ones I had no opinion on. I don’t vote for people I have never heard of.

It was a happy feeling to push that “vote” button at the top and here the little beep. I did it, and I was done with this year’s election. Now I just have to plan my victory party when the results are confirmed.

Actually, the real reason I wrote this post was that I wanted you to see the darling picture of Dora, waiting patiently for me while I voted. Isn’t she adorable?

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Out of the Mouths of Babes

How many times have you heard me say, “She’s a working dog, so please don’t pet her. You’d be amazed at how many people have never heard it from anyone else. But there’s one little person who has, and she is not shy about telling you.

Several years ago, I gave a big plush golden retriever dog to one of my granddaughters. Because I had a Seeing Eye Dog ® named Sherry at the time, the child named her Sherry. As it happens with families with more than one shild, the good toys get passed along. Now Sherry belongs to 2—1/2 year old Bethany, but the dog’s name is now Dora. Bethany has met the real Dora several times in her young life, and while we encourage her to pet her “nicely,” I don’t recall saying in public in her presence, “Please don’t pet the dog.” But little kids are listening even when you think they aren’t, and she made note in that cute little head of hers.

Now she carries the plush version of Dora around and says to her sisters and her sisters’ friends, “This is Dora, but you can’t pet her, because she is a working dog.”

Bethany, you make me proud. You are my best little advocate.

Hen Hike 2016

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You know how when you get back from a vacation you say you’re so tired that you need a vacation? I’ve been back for a week, and I’m just now coming up for air. It wasn’t the rigorous exercise of hiking up through woods to the top of a ski mountain. It wasn’t the five –7 or so miles we walked each day. It wasn’t the stress of traveling to Canada with having to deal with getting to the airport 2 hours early and fiddling with customs. It wasn’t the yackity yack of 12 women all talking at once all day long, but a combination of all this, plus the sheer joy in doing it.

I have written about our famous Hen Hikes before. Search for Hen Hike 1 in this blog to catch up. I have even created a 22-minute speech about this unique group of women, most of whom are seniors, and half of whom are blind, and I’ve presented it at various retirement meetings and blindness conventions. My Toastmasters training has taught me to love it. (Shameless plug. Call me if you need a speaker for your club.) But let me tell you about some highlights of this year’s hike. First, we hiked near Collingwood in Ontario Canada, a first venture outside the country. My dream is to hike in England, maybe for our 20th anniversary, but this was only our 18th. Imagine. I was only 53 when I started this group with a Ski for Light friend, Julie. We’ve hiked in New England, Minnesota, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and New York. When we get too old to negotiate the rocks and roots on the muddy trails, we might hike through the shops in New York City or on a cruise ship.

On our first day, we had our picnic lunch by Lake Huron, enjoying the sound of the waves as they greeted the shore. Our sighted guides spotted a large creature in the water, and there was much discussion about whether it was some kind of odd fish or turtle or some other native animal. A local man walking by informed us that it was a rock. Boy, did we feel like foolish tourists. On the second day, we hiked up hills to thrilling views of the lake and the valleys below. On the third day, we hiked up a trail to the top of a ski run, and then we took the gondola down the mountain side. Even for those of us who couldn’t enjoy the vistas as we sailed over the tree tops, it was a delightful ride. The man operating the gondola was so taken by our charm that he offered to let us ride up and back again for free. We had walked up, but since the ride down was free, and trying to walk back down that steep and rocky slope was not appealing, we hopped on. If you ride up, it costs$16 apiece, unless you’re a group of women who act like they’re having the time of their lives. On the next day, we discovered a memorial garden in the woods. Only The markers were tall stemmed flowers made of concrete with names engraved on the petals. It was a peaceful place to stop and rest, as we had done 7 miles that day. Each day had its unique experience and joy. Each night, my legs, hips, and back were killing me, but a soak in the hot tub was a huge help. For the next several days after my return, I had to drag myself through the day. Funny how that works. If I had had 11 other women with me, and we were hiking, I don’t think I’d be tired at all.