Friday, March 22, 2013

2012 Taxes - finally finished

     I have to admit that I am very proud and happy that I finally finished our income taxes.  And it wasn't easy.  First of all, I had to call the IRS, several months ago, to ask for the printed instructions and forms.  I asked for the forms that I thought I needed and, after a delay because they weren't ready early, the forms and booklets arrived.  I put off, as long as I could, even looking at those horrors but decided to tackle them on Tuesday.  However, before I started, I thought I would start the car - it had been cold and the car had been idle for a while.  Intuition is a wonderful thing.  The car went "click."  And then click again.  So, I called AAA, got a hot shot, drove the car to the agency, got the state inspection, oil change, and a new battery.  All within 2 hours.  Tuesday was shot as far as the taxes go.

     So, I started again on Wednesday.  This time, I could not think of anything to interrupt my work.  I began with the first page, the first line, and had no problems until I had to fill out the social security worksheet which always drives me nuts.  Maybe I got it right, maybe not.  I'll know once I hear from the IRS.  Then, I went on to the profit and loss from short and long term capital gains.  Not that we had much to report - a balance of zero, but, in order to report that zero, first I had to fill out a form that the IRS had not sent and move the information from this missing form to the one that the IRS did send.  Up to the third floor, to try to print out the missing form.  It was mostly acceptable and I added a few ruler-drawn lines to complete it.

     By this time, I had gone through half a dozen Tums and yelled at as many inanimate objects as I could.  Edgar is used to that and knew that I was not yelling at him.

     Now, I had to send a small check.  But, I also needed another form to enclose with the check which the IRS had omitted sending so - back again to the third floor for another go round with the printed and the ruler.

     Then to the estimated taxes for 2013.  Every time I use the EFTS system, I forget what I am supposed to do and I usually keep the Tums bottle handy.  This time, however, after only the third call, I was helped by a very, very patient and friendly woman.  When I asked her please to stay with me and walk me through every step, she said that she would not leave me until I was satisfied and finished.  She was wonderful.  She helped me fill in every blank that needed filling in and I thanked her and then took time to tell her supervisor how helpful, patient, and wonderful she was.

     I didn't think that I had accomplished anything terrific until I spoke to two different PhD's who told me that they could not figure out the taxes (both had courses in accounting as undergraduates) and that they hired accountants for their taxes.  Furthermore, the accountants complained to them that the rules were so complicated that, sometimes, even they did not know what to do.

     Hooray for me.  I went to Staples, made copies, and then to the post office to mail off the return and the check, and now I have to hope that the mail gets through and the IRS can read my writing.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

the post office and another example of rudeness

Today, our letter carrier (I used to call him a mailman, but since some are women, I guess I could call him a mail person), parked on the street, right in back of a sign that said "NO PARKING HERE TO CORNER" in spite of the fact that the rest of the street was empty.  I saw him, stopped him, and asked him if he could please not park there in the future.  You would not believe his attitude.  He became defensive and said that he had to park there because he had to take care of the whole street.  He said that he would park wherever he wanted because he had a job to do.  He did not say that it was an "important" job, just a job.

I don't know why he was in such a hurry.  I remember the "good old days" when mail was delivered by walkers, not riders.  Occasionally, the letter carriers had 3-wheeled carts that held the mailbag and they pushed the carts.  They never ever rode.  And they never, ever drove these great big trucks - should I call them gas guzzlers?

I reported the incident to the postmaster general of the United States.  I hope that the letter carriers, especially the ones who drive, will get mandatory lessons in courtesy and some lessons in reading and understanding the English language - that "NO PARKING" means just that - no parking.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Philadelphia Flower Show - UGH!

      I do not understand the enthusiasm and love affair with the Philadelphia Flower Show.  In fact, I have never read a bad review of that event.  We attended last year's flower show, the one that themed Hawaii, and I was very disappointed.  I don't know what I expected but, I was not thrilled with the commercialism of the show.  This was a great venue for flower sellers, for cheese sellers, even for the Pennsylvania Liquor Stores, but, aside from the exotic flowers that one can find at any flower shop and garden shop, there was nothing remotely Hawaiian about the show.  Even Produce Junction has orchids, anthuriums, and torch ginger.
     The aisles were narrow, the venue was dark, and the crowds were caught up in the commercialism and not the Aloha spirit that is supposed to pervade Hawaii.  
     This year's show, which we did not and will not attend, is supposed to be "English."  Hooray for the art directors who were able to build a fake Big Ben and a fake London Tower.  Hooray for the architects who were able to design trellises that did not fall.  And hooray for the flower designers who decided that the white gardens were the way to go.  Big deal.  Just look in our back yard.  I have a white garden.  My snowdrops have proliferated and white is the prevailing color in the back yard, against the green of the shrubs and grass.
     Every year, we hear and read that the show is bigger and better than ever and yet, all the photos that we see, and the articles that we read, do not convey the truth of the hype.  It has become a commercial money maker for the city of Philadelphia (that's not a bad thing), for the restaurants and parking lots around the convention center (also not a bad thing), and probably for the florists who provide the flowers.  However, to put oneself in the throng of pushy people who can't wait to take photos, and be the first to buy the hyacinths, seems ridiculous.  Unless something changes, the flower show will lose its attraction and fade into a memory.
     I just came inside from the beautiful sunny afternoon.  The scent of spring is in the air, and the real flower show, put on by nature, will start soon.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Young Edgar's Horseback Riding Adventures

     Edgar was reminded of his Junior High School Adventure after seeing photos of our granddaughter, astride a horse in Italy, during her exchange student adventure.
     He joined the horseback riding club in Wagner Junior High School, mainly because he liked the idea of jodphurs.  Mr. George Lieberman supervised and sponsored the club which met after classes.  The 7 or 8 adventurers arrived in Fairmount Park at the stables.  It must have been in 1940 or 1941.  
     Previous to this, Mr. Lieberman held a class, explaining the use of the different kinds of riding gear - stirrups, saddles, bits, etc.
     Edgar was helped onto an old horse by one of the stable hands and led into the corral.  No sooner had the stable hand let go, then, the horse turned around and trotted back into the stable.  (A pause here for a good chuckle is advised.)  Undaunted, Edgar tried again, this time, successfully.  He and his classmates sauntered around the perimeter of the corral with some minor setbacks.  For instance:  a classmate, Franklin Goren's saddle slipped and he wound up on the ground, with the saddle under the horse's belly.  He did not get hurt.  Malka Hofman's horse knew that he was in control, and not Malka, and decided to graze.  And somehow, this irritated another horse, who bit Malka's horse on the rump.  That caused Malka's horse to rear up.  Malka let go with a scream that they must have heard back at Wagner, but, again, no one got hurt.
     In spite of all these minor mishaps, Edgar and his classmates all learned, after a fashion, to control our old and docile animals.
     Then the big day came and Mr. Lieberman led us into the park for an uneventful walk.  And, as the saying goes, all's well that ends well. 
     Years later, Edgar, minus jodphers, and a friend went on a double date - horseback riding.  (This was many years before I met Edgar.)  The friend thought he was a big shot and could handle anything that came his way.  Bad idea.  His horse decided to graze, and the friend went flying over the horse's head and landed on the ground with a separated shoulder.  The dates were not impressed.  And that was Edgar's last ride on a live horse.
     Since then, in our 50 years of marriage, Edgar and I rode on a carousel horse in Sandwich, Massachusetts.