Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I don't know how this got started, but I am an election judge. That title sounds important, but all I do is help people voting at the polls. There are various stations at a polling place, where we check people in ("Are you Registered?"), hand out ballots, answer questions, explain the ballot, and made sure they put the ballots into the recording box properly. I don't mind it, except it's an extremely long day. Polls open at seven and it takes about an hour to get set up, which means we have to be there at six; and they close at eight, and it takes another hour to take everything down and run the count, which means we stay at least until nine. It all must be done according to a lengthy, important list and we're all amateurs, which is why the setting up and closing down takes a long time.
Am I complaining? I suppose I am, but I'm also glad to get this glimpse of behind-the-scenes, how-it-works in elections. It's an honor and an important part of living in a democracy to be able to do it -- but it is a very long day. Just two hundred and twelve voters turned out in this off-year election, out of a possible thirteen hundred registered in the precinct. Last year brought out a huge number and we registered over two hundred new voters.
One thing that means is I am writing this on the fly again, so again I apologize for the disorganization, if any, of my post. Boy, two weeks in a row of disorganization!
Last Wednesday and Thursday I was in Des Moines at their Events Center, attending a big quilt show. Linne Lindquist's booth, The Craftsman's Touch, hosted me. My hat was a success -- I'll try to post a picture of it. It's a pilgrim's hat with feathers, meant to suggest a witch's hat. One seemingly minor thing that happened lingers in my memory. A young woman came to the booth and bought a number of books with quilt patterns in them. She was having a good time, she really liked the books, she and Linne talked and laughed while she way paying for them -- not that unusual. But our booth was at the end of an aisle and the wall across from it had a row of folding chairs so people whose feet were giving out could rest for a little while before continuing the search for the perfect gadget or fat quarter or pattern. On one of the chairs was a young man whose whole attention was fixed on the young woman. The sweet fondness of his expression, his obvious delight in her pleasure was like a lit candle in a dim room. This wasn't a noisy, newly-wed delight, there was depth and understanding in it. They weren't having fun together; she was wholly invested in the show, he was pleased to see her enjoying herself. He joined her after she finished her purchases, she took his arm, and they continued up the aisle, and I smiled after them for several minutes. What a joy it was just to be in their company for that brief while!
Monday night I gave a talk at a suburban public library -- Westonka Library in Mound -- and the turnout was surprisingly great for a weekday night. Lots of the attendees had actually heard of me and wanted to know more about my books and the characters in them. The woman who runs the library did a great job of letting people know about my appearance. I am ashamed to say I forgot my hat. They asked me to bring books to sell, and I was so busy filling a case with them and getting it down to my car I forgot to wear my great new hat. What's interesting, is that several of the attendees know about my hats were were disappointed. If any of you are reading this blog, now at least you know what I should have had on my head.