GratiTuesday: The right to vote

As circus-like as this U.S. election cycle has been – and it promises to get even crazier as we head into the general election – my right to vote isn’t something I take lightly. I remember going to the polls with my mother and having her tell me what a privilege it was to be a citizen and be able to cast her ballot. Even at that very young age, I looked forward to the time when I would be old enough to do the same.

Vote

I come from a fairly politically-active family. My mother was a member of the League of Women Voters and politics was often a topic of discussion around the dinner table. Even before I could vote, I volunteered for political campaigns. One of my favorite memories was walking a precinct with the actor Jon Voight (who, I understand has since turned more conservative) in support of George McGovern. The look on people’s faces as they answered their door was pretty funny—even those who didn’t support Senator McGovern stuck around to listen to our spiel.

I have voted in every election ever since I was old enough to cast a ballot. Although once or twice I mailed in my ballot, unless I’m out of town on Election Day I prefer to physically go to the polls. There is something about standing in line with my neighbors and performing this very American ritual that makes me feel that I’m a part of a greater whole. Although many election results don’t turn out the way I’d like them to, I take pride in knowing that I took the time and my vote was counted.

California, with its rich pool of delegates, is one of the last states to vote in the primaries. At one point, we thought that we’d actually have a voice in the selection of the presidential nominees but, once again, it appears that it is a forgone conclusion for both parties. Regardless, I have cast my ballot and will watch the results as they come in this evening. Even if my vote won’t influence the outcome of the presidential primary race, there are plenty of local and state offices and ballot measures that need to be decided.

Today, the first Tuesday of June, I am so grateful that I can freely cast my ballot and that my parents instilled in me the importance of being involved and having my voice heard. I am also grateful that tomorrow I will no longer be the recipient of political robo-calls on my phone and that my mailbox won’t be stuffed with oversized, glossy campaign advertising.

Planning for Spontaneity

My husband and I just returned from our first post-retirement road trip. Even though we mostly stuck to our planned schedule, it was very freeing to know that, because neither of us have a job to dictate our return date, we could stay away as long as we wanted… or at least until the money ran out.

We had a terrific several weeks in northern California; in Monterey at a car club “convention,” visiting my brother and sister-in-law in the Bay Area, and spending time in Santa Cruz with my husband’s family. In fact, we had such a good time we started to plan our next trip as we drove home. Yep, I think we could get used to this!

Monterey coastline
Monterey coastline
Tasting champagne in Napa
Tasting champagne in Napa

In addition to planning our next escape, we’ve been talking about what we can do to make it easier for us to just pack and go. We want to put a few things in place now so that, when the spontaneity spark hits us or a can’t-miss-it opportunity arises, we can take off at a moment’s notice.

We’ve already made the conscious decision not to have pets because of travel. Although I miss having a dog or a cat, the freedom has been a positive tradeoff.

Our landscaping is – by design – fairly low maintenance, so we don’t need to arrange for upkeep while we were gone as long as our plants don’t have to go more than a couple of weeks without water.

Seasoned travelers have told us that it’s best not to put a vacation stop on mail and newspaper delivery because it is an alert that we will be out of town. Because of this, we have a neighbor pick up our mail and paper while we are gone. Since we provide the same service to her when she’s on vacation, it doesn’t seem like an imposition. To make things simpler and to avoid overlapping vacations, we are considering cancelling the paper completely. Our mailbox is attached to the garage wall so we want to create an opening that will allow the mail to drop directly from the box into a container inside the garage.

Ideally, we’d like to have someone stay at our house for absences lasting longer than a week or so. Not much would be required beyond simple watering and generally keeping an eye on things, but having a presence in the home would make us more comfortable while away. Although we live in a pretty safe neighborhood, this is a big city and we’d be naive to think nothing could happen.

When I was younger, single, and living in a condo with my cat, I had plenty of friends who were happy to stay in my home while I was out of town. They either lived with their parents or with roommates and welcomed the opportunity to have their own space for awhile. They enjoyed the quiet and privacy and I received cat feeding, plant watering, and house watching services. Win-win.

Fast forward a few decades and circumstances have changed. Married or not, our friends tend to be happy with their living situations so are not available to house-sit.

House swapping is something we might explore in the future, especially for longer stays, but for now—and for shorter stays—we are looking for that perfect match; someone who is pet-free, trustworthy, responsible, and who would welcome the opportunity “get way” for awhile in our home.

Hopefully we can find someone before we take off again.