As The World Turns

IT’S A FASCINATING time for world politics, and the political process has never been more interesting — at home and abroad. One hills woman has seen, firsthand, how precious and fragile the democratic process can be.

Mills College emeritus professor Edna Mitchell has been living in Afghanistan and working as a volunteer specialist for the Ministry of Higher Education in Kabul. With a team of five, she helped monitor the recent elections for fraud and found just getting into Kabul was more like a Keystone Cops than an Indiana Jones adventure. The red tape and the lack of consistency in traveling on Afghanistan’s Airiana Airlines made the trip a challenge, to say the least; at one point her flight was canceled because a government official reportedly needed to use the plane). Over the next few weeks, Mitchell will tell us some of her stories from this historic election.

In the meantime, the dust is still settling from our own surprising elections in the U.S. Montclarion reader Judy Janse saw election day as a kind of religious experience. “We are performing a communion with one another and the God we want so much to believe in, our god of democracy, of free will and individual rights,” she writes. “With this act there is only one sin we can be sure we are not guilty of. That of not voting at all.”

Heavenly craft

When is a necklace more than just jewelry? When it’s used to pray, according to Alameda senior Eleanor Wiley. Her jewelry is getting national attention as she resurrects the ancient practice of prayer beading.

And how effective are prayer beads for helping folks cope with everyday stress? Wiley says she’s helping more people now than she ever did as a speech pathologist. Her bead stringing workshops are a forum for people to share their stories — and their blessings.

Hawaiian connection

The phrase “it’s a small world” can apply to many situations. There were at least two Oakland hills connections on my recent trip to the big island of Hawaii. Looking in the West Hawaii newspaper, I saw a piece by Oakland Realtor Dian Hymer (whose column is also carried by Hills Newspapers). She related the story of some Oakland homeowners who had problems with their title, under the heading “what you don’t know may surprise you.”

The second Oakland connection came when I signed up for a snorkel trip on the big island with Sue Breisatori of Ocean Adventures. It turned out she was a Bay Area gal and a humane officer during the ’91 Berkeley-Oakland Hills Firestorm. She went house to house in the hills, rescuing stranded cats and dogs.

She said she’d never forget the little gray cat that was cowering in the corner of a doghouse, with burned whiskers and a hot ember threatening to burn the fur on its back. When she finally re-united the cat with its owner, there were tears of joy all around, and a grateful meow from the kitty.

Speaking of animals

Next time you pick up a pack of breath mints for yourself, get some for Fluffy and Fido, too. Pet Food Express in Montclair has fish-shaped mints for cats and bone-shaped breath fresheners for dogs. Don’t ask me how you get your pet to eat a breath mint — but if you’re concerned enough to buy them, you’ll find a way.


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