Like A Birch Tree

John Clark sharing recent contemplations in this strangest of years. Like most of those blogging on MCW, I’ve had to look at events and circumstances on almost a daily basis in order to stay safe and sane. Unexpected changes have resulted from some of my realizations and not all have been comfortable. Activities that occupied good portions of my time became unsafe or unrealistic, necessitating my coming up with things to replace them that were safe and low stress. Here are some of the adjustments I’ve made.

Daily aquatic exercises in a heated pool with a good bunch of people stopped early in the pandemic. It was truly the only exercise I could do on a regular basis and my body soon let me know it wasn’t happy. Fortunately, that activity resumed two weeks ago, but under fairly stringent conditions. Instead of the 12-18 we had back in February, there are four or less most mornings, oddly enough mostly men.

AA meetings also ceased around the same time. I’ll be the first to admit my trepidation about not being able to attend after 39 ½ years, but was able to maintain an even keel. Sadly, most of the meetings that have started back up are crowded and very few wear masks, so I’ve made a decision to remain away until masks are prevalent or here’s an effective vaccine available. Frankly, I’m shocked and saddened that so many people who worked their butts off to get and stay sober, don’t feel masks are necessary.

Two months ago, I realized that social media, particularly Facebook, wasn’t good for my mental health. When I started arguing with people I liked and cared about over trivial stuff, I realized it was time to back away. I miss many of the people I’m friends with online, but it wasn’t worth the emotional churning that accompanied it. I may think about going back after the election.

Some of the time and mental energy freed up by the above factors has gone into local political activity. I’m an active member (via Zoom) of the Waterville Democrats, playing the role of the opposition mayoral candidate in a mock debate to get our candidate ready. In addition I helped edit and polish his platform and campaign literature as well as brainstorm what should be on the Waterville Democrats website.

My latest endeavor has been volunteering at Waterville City Hall to assist in processing absentee ballot requests, in-person absentee voters and help file much of the accompanying paperwork. I can emphatically state that the entire process is professional, triple checked and completely above board. It’s very satisfying to see how many people, particularly college students are coming in and registering.

While I’m on the subject of absentee balloting, I can’t emphasize how easy and hassle free the process of in person absentee balloting is. Until a few weeks ago, I was completely unaware of the concept, but I’m here to tell you that if you want to avoid the crowd on November 3rd, in-person absentee voting is the way to go. If you’re already registered, simply check where to go and what the hours are in your town or city. Most people are in and out in less than five minutes. All ballots are sealed in an envelope, placed in a safe and will be counted (at least in Waterville) the Saturday and Sunday before the election.

Vote here 8-4 Mon-Fri in Waterville

In addition to reading lots of books and teaching my granddaughter to bug stomp(that’s a story for another column), I’ve been selling stuff on Ebay in addition to my selling books on Amazon. A friend of Beth’s wanted to get rid of a lot of books, so I drobe up to her place and picked them up Some went on Amazon, others on Ebay. Last weekend, I went (with a mask on) to an estate sale in Waterville. The very nice older couple were obviously moving to an apartment or assisted living. I bought a couple boxes of music books and sheet music, another box of books and yet another full of music videos and CDs (all gospel stuff). I spent $32.00 and made it back in three days, with sales still happening on Ebay.

The absentee ballot box at Waterville City Hall, opened by one person only on a frequent basis.

Like the birches during the 1997 ice storm, I may have to bend, but thus far I’ve managed to spring back whenever necessary. I’d love to hear how you’re dealing with the extended and the unexpected.

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9 Responses to Like A Birch Tree

  1. Janet E Anderson-Murch says:

    I appreciated your comments today John, especially about realizing how the impact of Facebook was having on you. I, too, found my mood changing the more I went online. I started working from home in March and learned being home 99 percent of the time drove me a bit nuts. So we did what so many others have done. We adopted a rescue puppy, a chihuahua mix. Her name is Elsa. I had a smaller dog a few years back who was an amazing little dog, and we have two older, larger dogs currently. How difficult could it be to add another? She was under two pounds when we got her at 12 weeks. Exercise, as you described, is so important to maintain my sanity. I dreamed of casual walks in our fields and woods with our three canines, lingering to smell the pine. You see where I’m going with this? I walk our dogs three times a day. I spend much of that time saying “no” to the smallest dog (she likes to roll and eat whatever disturbs me the most). Elsa is now six pounds and runs circles around everyone here. Without walks, she wouldn’t rest, which means I couldn’t. Nor could the other dogs. So if anyone out there is having a hard time getting motivated to exercise. Here’s my advice. Go for a walk with me on any given day. Then choose to go swimming with John. 🙂

  2. maggierobinsonwriter says:

    You definitely sound like you’re keeping busy! For those screaming about voting by mail, I think they simply do not understand the process (or pretend they don’t). Every absentee ballot is coded. When it’s returned, it’s checked against the voter rolls. Millions of “fraudulent” ballots simply do not exist and wouldn’t be counted if they did.

    • I have voted already. It was simple, cost only a stamp and I was called upon to personally interact with no one. Now I can mute all political commercials (actually ALL commercials) and ignore the hubbub, feeling righteous and relieved that my part in this process is done. It’s amazingly liberating. I highly recommend it. Be kind and stay safe.

    • Julianne Spreng says:

      This is my fourth election as a poll worker in rural Ohio. My advise to anyone having doubts about the legitimacy of our elections is to assist in the process. Stop blathering about that which you know nothing. A rigged or fraudulent election would require complicity of the entire Board of Elections staff who number in the hundreds. Each ballot is accounted for. No ballot is ever thrown away. Even when a voter makes a mistake and has to be issued a second or third ballot, those returned ballots are cataloged and saved. EVERY ballot has a number and EVERY number must be accounted for.

      It is insulting to those of us who work to make the election safe and secure to hear day after day how easy it is to manipulate our elections. It is not easy to pull off the election and no individual is going to be able to manipulate votes.

  3. crys101497 says:

    Mostly just going to work and back. Have also been doing a lot of reading and also, crafting. Miss going to AA myself but they haven’t started back up here yet.

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