Elections – How to Get Good Precinct Turn Out

I Voted button
We have a big country and often our everyday encounters are impersonal. We can be fooled into thinking our vote does not count. I do not believe this.Those of us who have personal contact with voters on election day can do much to dispel this belief and foster the turnout by doing little things that make people look forward to election day rather than seeing it as a duty they would like to avoid.Election clerks ready to open the pollsI have been an Precinct Inspector for a number of years, although I have not always been assigned the same precinct. But most of the time I have worked the precinct at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Saratoga, CA. This small quaint church, located on a quiet neighborhood street, is both a challenging and an ideal place for voting. The people in the neighborhood are well educated and care–often passionately–about issues. Over the years I have come to know many of the long-time residents of the precinct and have become acquainted with many of the newcomers who are often from other countries. I am committed to making the voting experience important, exciting, and pleasurable to all of them. How do you do this? Here is a list of some things I think are important.

  • Talk to people as they come in. Be friendly and…
  • Listen and have an answer to any problems they have about voting. This means paying attention during the training (excellent in Santa Clara County, CA) so you know the answers or know how to find them.
  • Follow the rules, but politely, by explaining any of them that may not be apparent to the voter. (For example, no political conversation or advertising on T-shirts or buttons.)
  • Do not allow private conversations between election officers to go on while voters are present. All attention should be on voters, making sure their needs are fulfilled and treating them like welcome friends.
  • Thanking voters (who also often thank you for being there).

And I have a couple of other aces-in-the-hole that might not be for everyone.

Red, white and blue flower arrangementI take a small red, white, and blue flower arrangement to put on the table with the literature. In the past I have had garden flowers, but because of our drought this year I didn’t have any. So I had a local florist, Floral Fantasia, make one for me. I have a great red vase and this talented local sole proprietor made a wonderful. arrangement for me. Her shop is less than a half a mile from the polling place and I was happy to help promote her business.

Bowl of trail mix



I always provide trail mix as a “reward” for our voters. And this year we had some early voters come back in to donate their leftover Halloween candy to us to give to other voters.



Every election we are busy with many familiar faces streaming in to cast their ballots or to drop off their mail-in ballots. This year, predicted to be a slow one, was no exception. Our Field Inspector who was overseeing five other nearby polling places reported to us that we had more than double the number of voters of any of the other precincts. We were busy all day. It was great to see and talk to so many familiar faces. It is my goal as a Precinct Inspector to make our precinct the best in Santa Clara County and to have our voters eager to return  for the next election.


deer_at_pondFox at the pond

The evening started with a beautiful moon. And then the mountain woke up. The camera ready to roll, we had our usual lengthy visit from a fox at the pond at 11:03. No deer this night. All was quiet until 1:33.

Then it happened. A puma, or mountain lion as they are known in these parts, arrived. No mistaking it. Only twice in the past forty-two years have I had the pleasure of seeing one in the distance on the mountain. But the camera captured one right outside our back door. Exciting!

The World According to Bob

The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise CatThe World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise Cat by James Bowen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This feel-good book makes for great bedtime reading as it chronicles the episodic journey of Bob, an alley cat, who discovered and became a best bud of the author, a recovering addict. These unlikely British mates knew the streets and rose from selling magazines at the Angel tube station or busking in Covent Garden to being book writing celebs. Nice to have the occasional read that doesn’t make you think too much and has a happy ending.

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Inkle Bookmarks

14_Aug_GH_GuildWe are a diverse lot. The Glenna Harris Weavers Guild meets once a month to exchange ideas, find inspiration, and just plain gab. Some of us weave a lot, some very little. Some of us have large complex floor looms, some of us do not. So when it comes to having a program at each meeting, there are challenges.


This spring one of our members challenged everyone to weave something for Christmas or the holidays. To this end we are starting simply. For the last two months the challenge has been to weave something on an inkle loom. Many of us have these simple looms that weave versatile narrow bands that can be used as hat bands, belts, bookmarks (who can have too many?), guitar or bag straps, plus much else. Here are my bookmarks. Maybe I can add the work of others to this slide show in the future.


Next month we take on card (tablet) weaving, an ancient technique that dates back to at least the Vikings.


They swirled around in a noisy, buzzing cloud right outside the window where I am writing this. A queen and her court were swarming, looking for a new home to settle down in. I was sure our neighbor could help. She is a beekeeper–a real estate agent for bees who gets paid in honey . I have never known exactly how she gets the bees to live in boxes, but now I do.

Bees from CApoppy on Vimeo.

Moonstruck! No Mistake

Walkin’ on the Moon from CApoppy on Vimeo with music by Mark Humphreys

Where were you? A news broadcast reminded me that tomorrow is the 45th anniversary of man first landing on the moon. I know exactly where I was. Knitting a baby blanket in my apartment on Will Rogers Drive in San Jose, I sat rapt in the moment. It occurred to me that I could not let this event go without sharing it with my friend’s unborn child who, by way of the blanket, could also be wrapped in it. So I made my first on-purpose “mistake”. I knit two “wrong” stitches in a conspicuous spot.

This was the first of several on-purpose mistakes I have made since. It has to be a big deal in order for me to think of doing this. And my “mistakes” are not only in knitting. I have put them in my weaving and even on the exterior of my newly build studio in the garden in 2000 when I was painting it. The board and batten siding was the perfect place to celebrate the life of a friend who had died unexpectedly and another who had married exuberantly. I had a little of the paint tinted ever so slightly. A batten on the back where few see it, and which points skyward, was for my departed friend. A broad batten prominently placed where anyone walking to the studio can see it celebrates a marriage that was meant to be. Now when I sit in the studio I feel surrounded by friends.

I am not the first person to connect my physical world to my spiritual world. Navajo weavers added a “spirit trail” or” weaver’s pathway”–a line running off the edge of the piece that allowed the spirit of the weaver to escape so that she could go on to another. Many cultures and individuals have hooks to events far beyond our everyday lives.

For me right now, I am happy to once again be connected to the moon—and a death, and a marriage. This new way of walkin’ on the moon has helped illuminate my life.

Arroz con Fideos (Rice with Pasta, Scallions, and Garlic

finished dish of rice and pastaHere is something a little different (for me) to serve as a side dish. I ran across it while looking through an old Gourmet magazine from June 2001. It apparently is quite common in several Latin American countries and I even found some videos in Spanish on how to make it. Good practice in my endless quest to learn more Spanish. We had it with shrimp last night. Easy and good.

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Kindred Beings: What Seventy-Three Chimpanzees Taught Me About Life, Love, and Connection

Kindred Beings: What Seventy-Three Chimpanzees Taught Me About Life, Love, and ConnectionKindred Beings: What Seventy-Three Chimpanzees Taught Me About Life, Love, and Connection by Sheri Speede

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book. The author’s life and the lives of the chimpanzees are bittersweet. She withholds none of this from us and shows us how to follow our hearts. I savored this book one chapter a night and always looked forward to what would come next. As a bonus I learned a little about Cameroon, a part of the world about which I knew very little. I hope there will be a sequel–a Speede return.

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Traditional weaving of the Li people of China

This remarkable video of endangered traditional weaving came to me thanks to a post from Bonnie Tarses on Facebook. A must see for all my weaving friends. The ikat technique is very similar to the jaspé technique I witnessed in Guatemala.

Coyotes and Banana Slugs

Banana slug eating coyote scatWe have coyotes. We have banana slugs. But until this morning I never knew their paths crossed.

From the desk where I am writing this I often see coyotes coming out of the chaparral in the morning and going down the driveway  and coming up the driveway in the evening to disappear into the chaparral. Sometimes they leave their calling card, a pile of scat in the drive or on the patio.

In the morning when I take a thermos of water down the driveway to leave for the mountain bikers, I often see banana slugs foraging in the area around the pond.They eat the litter around the pond that has dropped from the trees and bushes.

But this morning was different. A large slug had venture out of its “safe” zone around the pond. It was feasting on the scat a coyote had left on the patio.

By evening the scat was not gone, but greatly diminished. How little we humans know about how the world works!