Sunday, April 25, 2010


Oliver was a cat we weren't supposed to have.  His mother was a stray who just appeared one day and made herself at home on our rather remote place in the country.  Between her frequent roamings and our procrastination, she delivered a litter of kittens before we could get her to our local vet.  Most were quickly given away one summer's day while we held a garage sale.  The little white one was spoken for, but the family was on the way to town and asked if we could hold him until they returned.  Mysteriously, they never came back, and so we ended up with two new cats, Oliver and his slightly demented sister, Tizzie.
Oliver displayed a remarkable propensity for getting into trouble, always being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Neighbors would tell us of him showing up in their live traps on occasion.  He also seemed to delight in taunting our dogs, since they were frequently shut up in their pen, while he got to wander freely about Naruna.  One day he got carried away in his desire to rub the dogs' noses in his relative freedom, and ran into their pen when the gate was opened!  Needless to say, the dogs exacted their revenge upon the annoying pussycat.  After a quick trip to a kitty orthopedic specialist in Temple and a week long stay in the feline rehab center, a much subdued Oliver returned to Naruna.  He regained his physical abilities with few limitations, but he was a changed cat.  His sister, Tizzie, would have nothing to do with him since he apparently didn't smell like her little brother anymore. 
After this traumatic experience, Oliver became more of a Momma's boy, seeming to spend more and more time with Susan.  Even after recovering fully, he spent much of his time curled up in her lap or on the sofa next to her.  Over time, he gradually began to roam farther afield and act more like his old self.  He would prowl the neighboring pastures and frequently bring "presents" home to Susan.  As the years passed, Susan and Oliver were a fixture, snoozing on their end of the couch in a patch of afternoon sun.
When we returned home late one night from a trip about a month ago, Tizzie was waiting, demanding attention and food.  Oliver didn't make an appearance immediately which wasn't unusual, but the next morning, he still was not home.  Calls to neighbors were fruitless, and no one at the church across the road had seen him.  With time passing, hope ebbed, and now after being absent for more than a month, we are forced to face the reality that Oliver is gone.  This is definitely harder than losing previous pets, where we knew what happened to them and frequently sat with them in their last hours. 
Not knowing.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Over Stimulation!

Personally, I favor a more leisurely approach to life, but our goverment has put in place deadlines for us to submit our calculations of what we think we should pay for the privilege of living in this great land.  Whether we are in agreement with how those taxes are spent is completely immaterial...our responsibility is to pay.  Then we pray that the people who were so convincing before the last election remember what they promised when they asked for our support and our votes.  Sometimes, those elected representatives actually remember and try to follow through on those promises...but we still pay.

This past year saw more versions of the truth than had been floated in many a day.  It seemed that everyone in Washington knew exactly what we needed, as opposed to what we thought we wanted.  One particularly ambitious scheme was a plan to disperse free money to ordinary citizens to stimulate the economy.  The particulars of this operation were a little fuzzy, few knew how it would be implemented, and fewer understood how giving small pots of money to individual citizens was supposed to jump-start our national economy.  Numerous mailings(paid for by us taxpayers) from different agencies announced that - much like Ed McMahon's sweepstakes - we were already winners and should soon receive our fair share of the bounty.

After a few months with no knock on the door and no check in the mail, I decided that I must have been one of the unlucky few who didn't qualify because of too much income, voting in the wrong primary, or some such detail.  The year passed and a new year dawned with a new set of tax deadlines.  Like many these days, I went to my local electronics emporium, and purchased software which takes most of the thinking out of tax preparation.  As information arrived from employers, banks and mortgage companies, I dutifully entered the data and watched the everchanging tally of how much more I owed big brother.  Finally, the flow of information  slowed and then stopped, and I saw that I did indeed owe our benevolent federal government another $110.  I have heard rumors that some people actually expect to get money back from the Infernal Revenue Syndicate each year, but I was excited to only owe that small additional amount.

The computer clicked and whirred as it checked all the data and recalculated the calculations, and proudly announced that all was well and it was time to send my return off into the ether of the Internet.  Only the push of a button was needed to send it on its way.  I sat in front of the screen, happy and satisified that this annual duty was completed and with no great additional financial trauma.  Suddenly, the computer bleeped and blooped and a message flashed on the screen that my return was REJECTED by the IRS!  Instantly, my stomach dropped and my brow became beaded with sweat as I frantically clicked on this message of doom.  Fortunately, the tax software knew just what to do and I quickly discovered the Feds had indeed sent me an Economic Stimulus Payment.  It was slipped into disability payments I received from the VA and had been spread out so it wasn't really noticeable.  No standard form proclaiming this payment was received, and it was only the IRS who seemed to know that I had gotten $250 more than I thought. 

Of course, the ultimate indication of how great the economic impact of this so-called Stimulus money was when I added it to my return.  Increasing the total income by $250 caused an increase of additional tax owed of exactly $250!  The government giveth and the government taketh away!  I'm not sure I can stand to be stimulated any more!