Wednesday, April 8 2020

good weather, walks, and mail-in ballots

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Hope you're doing well today. It's Wednesday today - the half way point in the week. Having the end of the work week in sight, does it make you want to work harder, or does it make you want to coast your way to Friday? I'm sure it depends on the week.

I had an exciting day yesterday. After finishing up my journal entry in the morning and attending a Zoom call with my team, Marissa rushed into bedroom holding a pair of envelopes. "The mail is here already - DANG IT - why are they early?!" she said frantically unfurling a stack of papers onto my desk.

"OK these are our mail-in ballots," she continued. "Today is the last day for them to go out. Fill it out, then we have to sign each other's as a witness," she said pointing at a signature field. I scanned the long list of names. "It's weird how they still have all the candidates listed that dropped out of the race," I said. Moments later, Marissa was taping the envelopes shut. She rushed out of the bedroom, flying down the stairs.

"DANG IT," I heard from around the corner. "She left. The mail is gone. AH shoot. Why did it have to come so early today? It's barely 10!"

The sporadic mail on our street baffles me. Most days the mail arrives in the very early afternoon, but some days it arrives in the evening. It arrives on Sunday. Sometimes it comes twice. On most days, I find the mail amusing, but being the final day to mail in our Wisconsin ballots, our bizarre mail schedule was an anathema.

Yesterday, our state drew quite a lot of national attention. Our beloved Governor Tony Evers filed to postpone our election. The state was not able to get enough mail-in ballots out to voters, and forcing people to queue up in person at the polls posed a health hazard. But his appeal was blocked by the very right-leaning Wisconsin Supreme court. I read that Robin Bos defended their decision, saying it "was incredibly safe to go out [and vote]." And of course, as he was saying these words to a journalist, he was wearing a hospital gown and face mask. What a jackass, right?

Many people voted anyway. I saw a video of a polling place in Madison with a line wrapped around the building, into the parking lot, and around the block - people in masks and plastic standing six feet from each other.

And from what I read, we were lucky to get the mail-in ballots. Credit to Marissa for thinking about this early enough, and consequently sinking another two votes for the Bern.

"That's OK," I consoled Marissa. "I can take a drive later this afternoon to a mailbox and drop them off. As long as they're picked up today, they count."

I worked a bit longer, then wandered downstairs for a coffee break. I found Marissa sitting on the porch table working on the computer. Rodney was playing in the backyard. I was surprised to see so much sunlight.

Which reminds me, I'd like to formerly apologize for complaining about the weather yesterday. It occurred to me that before commenting on how dark and gloomy it looked outside, I should have probably opened a window and checked. The temperature shot up to the low seventies. Our backyard was bathed in cool wind and warm sunlight for most of the day. My bad.

Seeing me poke my head out of the back porch, Rodney got excited, and immediately flocked to me, asking me to play four different games with him at once. "DADA DADA - blow bubbles with me? Play sandbox with me? Look, Dada. Dada, soccer time?" After throwing a ball around and popping off a few bubbles, I joined Marissa at the table. She was staring at her laptop with a furrowed brow in front of the coffe pot, deep in the trenches of navigating the neglected UPS website for information on international shipping.

"I can't find anything on this website," she muttered. She pushed her laptop aside to pour another cup of coffee. I leaned back in my chair to admire the way our trees looked in the sun. I love the time of year that the weather takes a turn for Spring before the trees get a chance to sprout leaves.

I worked for another hour, then returned to heat up some lunch. Together, Rodney, Marissa, and I enjoyed leftovers on the back porch. Marissa claimed the leftover fajitas, and I stuck to the four remaining pieces of Friday's sfincione. I dabbed each piece generously with habanero hot sauce.

I returned to my desk for a quick meeting, then the family and I went for a walk. We made it eight houses up our street before we were stopped by an old man.

"I'm not gonna get close," he assured us, hobbling over. "I just wanted to say hi to your puppies." He stopped six feet from our pack and leaned forward. "Well aren't you puppies just beautiful! You remind me of my dog, January. I adopted her in January!"

Rodney proudly held Ollie's leash, relishing in the conversation with a stranger. It feels like as long as the pandemic is going on, there's always time to talk to people, and there's never a sense of urgency to find a break in the conversation and carry on with your day.

"MY NAME RODNEY," Rodney blurted out to the man. He smiled and turned toward Rodney. "You have some nice dogs, Rodney. And another little friend on the way!" he said gesturing to Marissa. She politely smiled, trying to hide how much the short waddle up the block had already drained her. After bidding our friend farewell, we turned around and walked back to our house.

"Do you guys want to go for a drive? We still have to drop the ballots off," I said. We jumped in the car, and Marissa made her way down East Washington. "I don't even know where a mailbox is," she griped.

"Yeah, the only one I can picture in my head is downtown, where I wait for a bus. I would just head that way, and I'll keep my eyes peeled just in case."

The road was empty, but there were enough people walking around outside in small groups that the city didn't feel so desolate and creepy anymore. I had a warm feeling in my heart, seeing just a little bit of the regular old Madison rear its head for the first nice day of the year. We stopped at a light beside a truck. I nodded to the driver, a heavy set guy wearing small plastic gloves and a mask. His tiny brown dog had his head out the window, tongue extended, having his fill of fresh spring air.

As we kept driving, my eyes met a lady standing on the side of the road. She warmly smiled at me, then I noticed she was holding a "TRUMP + PENCE" sign and standing beneath a "TRUMP + PENCE" flag. I grimaced.

"I'd really like to give her the finger right about now," I complained. Marissa joined me in silently glaring as we whizzed by.

"You know that's that same lady that lives in the house with the big Trump sign? I'm sure she had a lot of problems there," replied Marissa.

"Yeah, and it's probably what she's looking for anyway. She knows, and she's probably looking for that kind of reaction," I muttered.

We reached the capitol building, and Marissa pulled the car over. I hopped out, glancing at the pick up times on the front of the mail box. I dropped the envelopes in and climbed back in the car. Marissa was waiting with a bottle of hand sanitizer ready to squeeze it into my hands.

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday.