“and turn from their wicked ways…”

I did this!!

Yesterday I spent the better part of the day volunteering as a poll watcher. It was a revelation. I have been a poll WORKER. That is a different animal. I was a precinct co-chair for the 2016 election cycle. We had lots and lots of training. So I do understand the process. This was different. As a poll WATCHER, I was required to be at least 6 feet away from the registration table, and I was not allowed to talk to ANYONE. I was chastised by the local city clerk for being friendly to a poll WORKER. She said we can only be talking if we previously knew each other and were friends. I told her we were NOW friends and she told me it was not allowed. So I moved back to my spot and actually started praying, using my prayer book. It truly helped calm me down. And when the clerk brought lunch for everyone, and they all gathered on the opposite side of the city gymnasium we were inside, I felt the slight. But I bucked up and realized my job was NOT to make friends. I was there to ensure safe and legal voting took place. Other precincts checked in and apparently there were some shenanigans going on at the other voting location. (This town is so small, there are only 2 voting sites). Lucky for me, all I had to contend with was being slighted in a not-very-nice way.

The poll watchers are supposed to verify names, but we cannot look at the roll book itself, but we can log names. Well, the only way we can do that is to listen closely. First of all, I was in a large basketball gym (sound is not good in there) and secondly, I had to remain 6 feet away. So mostly all I could do was count heads. Voters were very nice and friendly, not realizing I was not part of the worker crowd, and they often greeted me. But when they checked in, they would pull out ID but no one repeated names that I could hear. I actually could only log 1 person the entire time I was there. But I was able to watch each voter insert their own ballot, one at a time. The person running the machine stood at least 6 feet away as he explained to each voter how to insert their ballots. I was comfortable with how that was managed. I watched the precinct chair process ballots that were out of the normal and insert them into a separate envelope. I was also comfortable with that. Lots of voters came through who ended up at the wrong precinct or, even better, were not eligible to participate in the election because they lived outside the city area. (This special election was a city council recall election for three council members. The good news? It passed and they are recalled. Illegal is illegal and Americans are getting tired of it. Message sent people!!).

Poll Watcher

The biggest take-away I have is that all voters are NOT represented in our elections. When I was trained as a precinct co-chair (and was supposed to be chair for 2020 but when I was told I had to wear a mask AND a face shield, I told them I was not interested any longer) I learned the electronics of it. I learned the rules to ensure integrity of “one person-one vote” and that some election machines are, indeed, connected to the internet via wifi. I was confident of the system until I learned all about the errors inherent in using wifi and unsecured ballots when we mail them in. That was a big lesson. Yesterday’s lesson for me was that more of us who lean to the right need to be imbedded in this electoral process. Because they do follow the rules, but it is convenient how the rules are set up that allow for underhandedness to be the norm.

Voter Proudly Displays Evidence that He Voted on Election Day in the United States.

We need to ensure that every vote counts. I much prefer paper and pencil. Here in Alaska, we check ID and each voter signs in that they were present and voted. You get a tear-off receipt (in most areas) and a lovely sticker telling everyone you voted. The battle, I believe, lays in the mailing of ballots. Since there is no connection to the voter who signs (now they don’t even have to do that) their envelope and the ballot that is counted, that is a problem. According to those who are involved in the process, the voter rolls themselves are a mess. So many people who no longer live in this state, and even those who have passed away, are still listed as active voters. We have lots of military bases and people who have been transferred out of state are still collecting the annual PFD (Permanent Fund Dividend) and are on our voter rolls. It is totally illegal, but there is no staff assigned by any agency to correct all of this. You know something is up when over 100% of registered voters all voted in an election. Statistically speaking, it is possible, but highly improbable, that 100% of any population votes in any election. The statistical average, being very generous, is 25% – let that sink in a little bit. That means that 1/4 of the population is dictating what happens to 3/4 of the country. That should outrage you – hopefully enough to register and to actually vote on election day.

VOTE!!!!

When you start to add things up, it becomes apparent how valuable each vote truly is. Think what would happen if Joe had those 82 million votes recounted – and moved to Trump? How valuable is each of those votes? Well, it just so happens to be 25% of 330,000,000, which is the population of the United States. And that is a statistical anomaly. The number of people who normally vote – all of them – would not vote for the exact same person. Not ever. There’s always, statistically, a hold out. The larger one is that in 2021, there were about 168,000,000 registered voters. And unrealistically enough, apparently around 159,000,000 people voted in the 2020 election. Which is roughly 74% of registered voters. Not here in Alaska, but nationwide, that is an incredible turnout. Trump got more than 55% of Alaskan votes, and yet Biden got 52% – if you add that up, that is a little odd, don’t you think? Yes, that 107% of registered voters. Something is very fishy and yet our Lt. Governor certified those results. *Sigh*

*SIGH*

It is beyond frustrating that this has been allowed to go un-protested in every, single voter’s minds. At least per the results! Because it means that neither side truly won. It also means our votes were taken from us. That this was accepted as normal and okay, especially in our media is beyond the pale. There is ongoing research that shows how messed up our electoral system is, in more than just Alaska. Local voters also skewed votes on ranked-choice voting and mail-in ballots here in Alaska, and we are now facing our upcoming special election for Don Young’s seat, open now due to his death. And ranked choice will be used. And it frightens me. Truly. Because not only does it not allow my rights as a voter to be protected, no one’s voting rights are protected. How do we combat all of this???

Constitutional Convention

The writers of our constitution created a document that has stood the test of time. We have lasted about as long as most formal nations last. At least in the same form. England has undergone vast changes from its inception – it went through the overthrow of its monarchy and is now a constitutional monarchy and we all know the Royals are just figureheads, with not much power. They are richer than the average Brit, but mostly just have photoshoots and fancy balls and hunting trips. American government has not changed in over 200 years. I staunchly defend our Constitution. With the advent of technology, I do believe we need more protections in place. Protections in all sorts of realms of how we do this American life. I’m not sure what we need to do, but I do think something needs to be done. Culturally, we are sinking further and further away from a free country. If our votes do not count, well, our power has been stripped. Our country’s founding fathers were so young and so unbelievably intelligent. The constitution is not a living document. It is what it is…written down and it says what it says. And they did not intend for legislators to be professional politicians. They intended that normal citizens would serve locally and nationally, and then go back to normal life, allowing someone else in the community to serve our country. An example is Nancy Pelosi from California. She has been in politics her entire life. She has been in power in the democratic party since the 70s and was first elected to office in the 80s. But she has been a DC sycophant since her father was a rep for Maryland in the 60s. There are photos of her at JFKs inauguration! It has been far too long and she needs to be voted out of office! Patrick Leahy (D/VT) and Chuck Grassley (R/IA) have been in office for 47 years. This is just not acceptable to me.

RINO

I had an interesting chat with someone far more expert than myself about political platforms. And he taught me a lot. The RNC has a pretty amazing platform, as does the ARP (Alaskan Republican Party). We both agreed on that. The issue is this party does NOT operate according to the platforms they say they operate from, locally or nationally. I guess that would be the definition of a RINO – Republican in Name Only! If we would govern according to the Constitution, and if our parties would operate according to their platforms, this whole thing would work. But hardly anyone does that….

Again, how do we fix this? We get back to our roots. We uphold the law. We clean our voter rolls (good grief, America!!). We tighten the rules for voting. We GET INVOLVED. We need Americans to take custody of their future. We need to win this country back!

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2Chronicles 7:14

“…my soul has hoped in the Lord…”

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday has always been so special to me. I loved the act of washing the feet – Christ was truly a servant to all of us. Our priest used to choose different parishioners and often a deacon or two. And the reading of the Gospels about the inception of Holy Communion, well, it has always moved me. The part I don’t like to dwell on involves Judas. Betrayal like that is so very difficult to comprehend. The Vespers of St. Basil on Thursday concentrate on this betrayal and some of the words resonate deeply with me, and yet, I somehow am able to understand it, too, in light of this world. The lesson for me here, is to forgive and to allow people to treat me as they see fit, when they are acting as a betrayal to me, and the person I am. There are so many factions in our world today. Tempers are high. And things are tense. But, I allow that action of others to walk with me, while I accompany Christ on this Holy Week journey. I do not try to correct them – it is done. Just as Judas was thrown his silver. And I walk with Christ, towards forgiveness of others. “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”

30 Pieces of Silver

In today’s world, we sort of have religious-light. We don’t want to look at the ugly side of our faith. The things that happened to the faithful, and what they had to overcome, is almost beyond our comprehension. We are pretty wimpy these days. The hardships in both Old- and New Testament times are outside our common experiences. Very few people live in dirt-floored houses where they have to wash their feet when entering and leaving. And that aspect alone separates us from the reasoning behind why Christ washes the feet of His Disciples. Plus, we are a throw-away culture and we are, in many ways, a simple culture – we get up to our alarms, we cram some breakfast down before that drive to work, we then work and commute home, we eat our dinners, watch the tube, go to bed, and start all over again tomorrow. In addition, we readily believe pretty much anything we hear from government officials, pastors in pulpits, the news programs blaring on and on…we accept so much at face value. Very rarely do any of us dig deeper than the headlines for pretty much any topic. And to be honest, the preachers up front in most our Churches know our attention spans are short and we prefer to not have our feathers ruffled, as they say. Well, Holy Thursday is one of the first moments when Great Lent starts to lead us towards the ultimate sacrifice – Christ, Who offered Himself on the Cross for each of us. Holy Thursday introduces us to service – Christ, our God, washes the feet of His disciples. Then He institutes Holy Communion, and promptly following that, Judas betrays Him. And this day is all about betrayal. Judas breaks bread with the Lord and “so, too, this Godless man, while still bearing in his mouth the heavenly bread, contrived the betrayal of the Savior.”

Judas’ Kiss

Weirdly enough, we have all experienced some of this same trauma in our lives, perhaps even a very deep betrayal. We also know people who are walking miracles, and yet we aren’t even aware of it. Some of us carry scars no one can see. The “walking wounded” are all around us. This Holy Week, we are given an opportunity to identify our pain and our wounds with that of Christ. He came to bring peace, and love, and hope. And He was betrayed, scourged, and hung on a cross – all because He loves us that much. Oddly enough, I find Good Friday one of the most peaceful Liturgies to be a part of. It follows on the heels of betrayal and it is a sobering Liturgy. The prayers are deep, the Church is dark, the lonely sounds of the nails being hammered into that wood. I cry every time. Holy Week should be a week that stops us in our tracks and leaves us feeling so lonely – the only time Christ is not with us is between His Death and Resurrection. The Church is truly empty. And we leave Good Friday feeling bereft and alone. We are suffering in the loss of our Savior. And we can identify deeply with Him. We should also be able to feel our own pain intertwined with Christ. But the ultimate joy of Holy Week is that the sun does rise on our sorrow, and Our Lord is again with us. There is joy in the Son Rise.

Blessed Holy Week

A time for every purpose under heaven…

Today’s forecast…

Of course, I do live in Alaska. And c’mon, we can’t expect flowers and sunshine when snow is still haunting the shadows and the temps are chilly. There is another meme I have about Spring in Alaska. And it sums up most of our attitudes…

Spring? Nope!

And that’s kinda the mood I am in today – hunkered down in sweats and slippers. I have spent the past 3 days – literally entire days – going through our memory stuff. Totes upon totes worth of the past 37 years of married life with kids – and then some. As I went through – seriously – every, single photo we own and wrote on the back of it, or tossed it, my hand began to ache. I went from 6 totes of loose photos down to three. I am proud of myself.

Organizing old photos…

As I made my way through these boxes and albums, I came to realize that I am the sole storage for most of my family’s histories. And I inherited my grandparents on both sides’ photos – why? Weirdly enough, both of my parents are only children. And I have just 1 brother – who does not like old things. So I got the collective memories from 4 families. And it was daunting. My heart swelled in thanks when something was written on the back. But I have this one album, complete with black pages, and lots of fading photos from one end to the other, with not a single name. I recognized familial traits, so I could narrow it down to my mother’s mother’s maiden name side. Sigh. But that is all. No one person stood out to me. And these photos are from the late 1880s. I did recognize a house my grandmother lived in as a child, so I know for sure it is her side of the family. because I have a mounted photo with names on it, and she is one of the people named. But they are all in New Zealand, no less. There is no one alive I can consult about them, who I know about in the greater familial ties, or even know where to look for them, or a last name to try! And that made me sad. I could not get rid of it. I love history too much. I even saved a couple of photos of people I have no way to identify, but the photos are so awesome. All in sepia and mounted on cardboard with lovely borders. I just could not bring myself to toss them out.

Old photos…

One of the reasons I am doing this is because I am in purge mode. We have too much stuff in our garage. We have hauled the same boxes, unopened, through three states. One of the things we did was go through all our saved, recorded, VHS tapes. We inherited my grandma’s old VHS player and it works! So we plopped in tapes with no labels, understood why no one wrote on them, and tossed them out. LOL! One is from an old family friend, with her narrating, old black and white videos from her family. Not a single video of my family. Not sure why we had it but it is no longer in my video tote! We only kept about 6 VHS tapes. And we watched our wedding video. We both shed a tear at the same song. Isn’t that cool!! We are going to ask my brother-in-law to put these on CDs for us. Isn’t it funny how things become so outdated, you don’t have the machine to play them or view them on??

VHS…oh, the memories!

Another revelation is that our photo records pretty much stopped, or certainly slowed to a trickle, when our oldest son hit high school. And I realized it was because we all went digital. And in a weird way, it made me sort of sad. It is like when I reluctantly transitioned from books you hold and touch and smell to an e-reader. I went kicking and screaming and now my kindle is with me all the time. I marveled at how the first time I traveled with it, I was carrying 600 books in my purse (yeah, I love books). And as this purge went, we also downsized by a lot. We took 6 totes the the local thrift store, full of books. Most of them were great reads, but I had to admit to myself I probably would not read them again, and if I chose to do so, would use my kindle to do it. I gave up my original Twilight series, the Divergent series, a series I bought in college about the Civil War (all 8 volumes of it), some very large books I dove into with relish like Ruska and Peter the Great… but I know I won’t read them again. I did save books my kids read and they are boxed up and ready for them to get in the mail.

Flat Rate!

When people die, they leave behind relished trinkets and photos, slips of cloth, programs from events, ticket stubs, even toys and saved bits of clothing. Some people collect their whole lives and leave stacks and stacks and stacks of stuff. And someone has to go through all that and dispose of it. Sorting through things after someone passes away is a rough task. When my mother-in-law passed away, it was a monumental task. Lots of feelings come out when you go through another person’s things. Especially if they were a collector. When my grandmother passed away, she had been staying with me about 6 months. But I still had to get back to her place and dispose of everything. I did it alone, with the help of my 2 younger boys, schlepping things to the dumpster, the car, and to the local thrift shop in her senior complex. That thrift shop was a sad place, because every single thing in there was only there because someone died. Other seniors would come and go through the things and take what they needed, at no charge to them. It felt good to help others like that, but it also grieved me even more. Grandma had been parsed down to a few boxes. And she was almost 100 years old. It was hard enough caring for her as she died, let alone clearing out all her things. These past few days, I mourned the passing of my family all over again. And I mourned the passing of my life – it has gone by in the wink of an eye.

Time flew past so quickly…

And today I am just tired. So much went through my brain this weekend. So many people I no longer see or even know where they are. Lots of friends and family who are no longer with us. I was watching a VHS tape and started to cry because I realized everyone in the movie, except for my immediate family, are all dead. It happened so quickly. Now I see my children, and their families, fully engaged in their own lives. And so very busy. Pretty soon they will be where I am now – standing outside and watching their own children move along this racing timeline. It caused me to stop and think. And I realized, too, I am one of those old folks that sit on the sidelines, watching the young people. So so weird.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up what has been planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away; a time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
A time for everything…