Today I was very political– rather than sitting here bitching about everything that’s wrong in the USA, and how I could fix it if only I were dictator for one year– ONE YEAR, that’s all I ask!!– I roused myself on my day off and went and voted early.

I had to go to the Seminole County Library up in Casselberry, not too far away, really, and since it was only eleven in the morning I figured it would be peaceful. WRONG! There were dozens and dozens of people lined up, all of us intent on performing our civic duties, many of us clutching the sample ballots we’d received in the mail.

I tell you, all races, sexes, and genders were represented in that line. It was good to see a little bit of them and a little bit of us and a little bit of everybody else, all smiling and chatting and passing the time of day as we wended our way past the carts filled with books for sale. Nobody talked about politics, which was a good thing, considering the tinderbox conditions of the current political climate. I and an older lady in front of me poked through some boxes of old LPs, oohing and ahhing over Paul Anka. I wondered aloud if any Connie Francis albums might be unearthed but then there was a sudden surge forward and we all had to move along.

A man kept appearing and telling us where the restrooms were, and I realized why– the average age of the people in line was probably sixty-five. At fifty-two, I felt positively flush with youth!

In the actual voting room, things went smoothly, though some confusion reigned. As early voters, we had to fill out a green slip of paper before we got on line, which enabled the poll workers to easily look up our names on a database. Some of the shorter and more stooped among us must have been overlooked, because I noticed a few people arriving at the tables without paperwork. I heard cries of dismay:  “But I put it right here in my pockabook!”  “I musta gone back and put it in my car!”  “Can I still vote? Is there trouble?”  I didn’t see anyone escorted to the dreaded back room due to voter fraud, so I assume everything went well, though that’s one paddy wagon I would love to be a fly on the wall of!

The altruistic side of me is privileged to have been able to take part in such a democratic exercise, yet the practical side is relieved that I don’t have to stand on line come November 4th. Still, it’s exciting being a voter in Florida because you don’t know what will happen– there’s no guarantee that the democratic process will be honored by the men and women in power, as witnessed by that mischievous little gnat over in Sarasota. And in four years we get to do it all again!

Planting Cotton in the Yard, Part 3

So I started this cotton patch four months ago, and the plants are only about 8-9 inches tall at the most, and I see only one possible boll– its pink flower bloomed a few weeks ago, and that’s the most exciting activity I can report after all this time. The entire patch seems to have gone dormant, though most of the plants look healthy, and I can see tiny buds if I crouch down in the dirt with my close up glasses and peer intently into the deepest recesses of the plants. (This probably embarrasses them. How would you like it if somebody put on close up glasses and stared at your private parts? Maybe you would like that.)  So it doesn’t look like I’ll be pulling in a crop this year as I’d hoped, which makes me eligible to apply for government subsidies. It’s very easy, I hear. This is the entire application:

Name: Jim

Failed Crop: Cotton

And then they ask you where they can send the check. Pretty neat, right? With my money, I will buy cotton clothes already made, and not have to worry about weaving my own cloth– that was going to be my Winter Project, so now I’ll have to think of another Winter Project. Maybe I’ll learn Romanian. Speaking of cotton, in 1984 my sister and I traveled to Europe, where we spent a lot of time in France, Norway, and Italy. After drinking a lot of tall pilsners at lunch, we found a shop in Oslo called Poco Loco which featured beautiful, all-cotton clothes. I bought a bright orange shirt which I wore disco dancing with our cousins in Italy– it showed the sweat REALLY well– and also a pink jumpsuit plastered all over with the Poco Loco insignia. The pants were too tight– I looked like Charo when I put them on– but the top was voluminous and excited a lot of comments wherever we traveled, and a lot of tsk-tsking and head shaking. (I was 28 years old and still at that point where I didn’t care what anyone thought, especially after a day of drinking pilsners.)

Actually, after revisiting the photograph above, taken in 1984 in Oslo, I’ve decided that my Winter Project may yet involve weaving a pair of matching pants that actually fit. And try as I might, I can’t recall what I did with the original pair– for all I know, they may still be in a drawer at the Forbundshotell in downtown Oslo.