Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Camel Named Clyde at Global Wildlife!

Clyde, a smiling two-humped camel!
Thanks Ken for putting A Camel Named Clyde in the Global Wildlife gift shop!

William with the girls that run the show!
Bonnie sneaks food from the bucket when no one is looking!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Here Comes the Deadline...

April 15 loomed around the corner. Carl turned to me and said, “Get our cancelled checks together. We have to square away with the Internal Revenue. How many deductible kids we got?—”
          “We’re missing one?”
          “Gary. He got married last summer, so he’s not technically ours anymore.”
          “Four.” He calculated. “Wish we had ten.”
          “Heaven forbid.”
          He went down to the next line. “Medical bills?—”
          “Covered by insurance—” I suggested Dr. Austin.
          “He doesn’t count,” Carl replied. “He’s the vet.”
          “Why not?—we spent more on the pets than we did on the kids.”
          Next on the form—donations: “Did we give 10% to the church?” he asked.
          “Now you wish.”
          “How much?—”
          “Not nearly enough to pay for all our blessings. Maybe we could add a little zero at the end?”
          “Can’t—the revenuers will frown on that. Anybody blind?—”
          “No, but I think you could use a hearing aid,” I said.
          “Let’s not get personal. Could we claim your mother? She’s over 65 and widowed.”
          “Let’s go for doubles and claim your dad, too. He’s 80.”
          “Amazing thing,” Carl mused, “neither one is blind, but they're both deaf. Why is there no tax exemption for deafness? Hmmm…let’s see. What can we come up in the category of “other”?”
          “Work clothes?” I asked.
          “Only if they’re a requirement of the job—”
          “My job requires it,” I said. “My customers would faint if I appeared naked.”
          “It must be a uniform, like a nurse or police outfit.”
“Scratch clothes—how about your safety boots?” I pulled straws.
          “We tried that last year. They disallowed it if the boots were also used for hunting.”
          “Safety helmets?—”
          “Good thinking. I lost a dozen last year $50 each.”
          “Gold plated? Were they monogrammed?”
          He frowned, deep in concentration. “Be quiet. Don’t disrupt my thinking.”
“Food?—” I suggested.
          “Not deductible. Hey, I’ve got it!  Sales tax! We bought a car. There’s a lot of tax on a new car. Can you find the bill of sale?”
          “Sure—it’s behind the refrigerator.”
          “How’d it get there?”
          “I filed it where I could put my hands on it when we needed it and the only major appliance in this house that no one can move is the refrigerator. Come help me.”
          Moving the fridge wasn’t easy, but we managed. After a few hours of mathematical juggling, I ventured to ask, “How does it look?”
          Moans and groans from the principal bread winner in the family. “Terrible! I hate to pay Uncle Sam. Ridiculous the way the government throws away our money. All those politicians eating at the public trough, living high off the hog…”
          “Write the check.”
          The writing on the check is smeared and squiggly. It’s hard to watch a grown man cry.                                                                                                                                  
   (Nowadays my bank mails no monthly statement, sends no cancelled checks.

My tax accountant files my return electronically. The only thing that hasn’t changed in all these years is that I still must pay.)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Best Dog He Ever Had

My late husband, Carl, had a minor investment in a registered bird dog he’d bought from a breeder and trainer near Belzoni, Mississippi. It turned out “Tammy” didn’t come up to sniff. She flushed birds. As previously agreed, Carl returned Tammy to Mr. Hill, who promised to resell the pointer and refund the money.

After six weeks or so, we drove to Mr. Hill’s old farmhouse to check on the progress of the sale. A thin, wiry, elderly gentleman came down the rickety steps. “Howdy,” he said, right away recognizing an unsatisfied customer. “If you come to see about Tammy, she’s all right. I ain’t sold her yet, but by durn I sure hate to part with that dog, she’s the best dog I ever seen. There ain’t too many people wanna buy an expensive dog like that, but I’m telling you I’m a-trying, even if it breaks my heart to part with Tammy again. I took her out yesterday. I never hunt any dog but her, you know I raised her from a pup, best dog I ever had, I hated to part with her. If you hadn’t come around here when my pocket was empty I can assure you, you’d never gotten that good dog off of me. I took her out for a run, and sure enough, I lost her, just like you said you did, and I thought, well, maybe she’s hunting a mite too wide, and I looked for that durn dog an hour, then I came out on the road over yonder, and saw a car easing along, and I thought, by golly, them people done picked up Tammy and stole the best dog I ever had. So I walked on down to the store, and sure enough, that black car done stopped there previous.

People bought  five dollars worth of gas and two Moon pies, but the boy said they ain’t had my Tammy with ’em. So I stopped over by that trailer,” he pointed in the direction of the gravel road running away from the house, “and asked them folks had they seen Tammy and they said no and this worried me some more.

“I come on back to the house and had the old lady fix me lunch, took me a little nap, then got up and took them two setters there out for a run, see if maybe they’d scare up a scent or something. I’m trying my durnest to train them setters for a man, but they just ain’t got it, they like to flush birds and play around, they ain’t at all like my Tammy, best dog I ever did see.

“Well, me and them setters went across the field, past the creek bottom and into those woods over yonder.”  Mr. Hill spat tobacco juice and pointed to the horizon where the sun streaked gold through the pine thicket. “And directly a bird flies past me, but by the time I get my bearings and my gun up—“ he lifted an imaginary gun to his shoulder, cocked it, and squinted a sharp eye down the imaginary barrel— “the doggone bird is plumb outta my range. I can hear them setters barking and raisin’ Cain, so I hurries across and into the woods and good lord almighty, there is Tammy. That dog been holding that point twenty-four hours.” Mr. Hill looked down at the ground. His scruffy cowboy boot raked dirt into a little dusty hill. “You sure you won’t reconsider keeping her?”

Monday, November 23, 2015

Heaven is Rocking Now!

Invited for high tea at Windsor Court when the tea room re-opened after Katrina, a pianist entertained the visitors. A tall fellow wearing a gray suit came in and tapped the pianist on the shoulder. She moved over and he sat down next to her and they played four-handed, three-handed and two-handed for almost an hour. The music filled the room. The performers chuckled and hit the keys, rhythm and blues, jazz, ballads, having a grand old time. They brought joy and hope and an assurance that in New Orleans, no matter what, you couldn't kill the music. It was a magic moment. I asked our server who they were.  I can’t remember the woman’s name. The man was staying at the hotel until his house was livable again. Who was he? Allen Toussaint! God bless his soul.

Do you have a magic moment?  Click comment and share your moment!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Cooking For NONE!

I have eliminated my culinary disasters by moving my kitchen two blocks away from my house, inconvenient if it’s raining or storming, but quite adequate most times. The garden club ladies have breakfast there, as does my friend Syd, and the retired gents who used to run city hall, the school board, the civic organizations and now just talk about it. The waitresses are friendly and quick. They slap down coffee on the table before you sit. Chef Russell serves a mean Blue Plate Special and its okay with him for old folks to order a child’s plate. His lasagna and Chef’s salad are legendary. I wish he’d make stuffed peppers more often, but I take what I can get since the big plus is I don’t have to wash dishes and there’s no danger that I’ll catch the place on fire, as I've done in my kitchen more times than I dare to recall.  In my next life, I am going to be a superb cook. Believe me, deep down, I know without doubt: if you cook it, they will come!  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Amend WHAT?!

I reckon by now everybody knows whom they'll vote for. We are sick of the ads on TV where each candidate is knifing the other, and if we believe any of it, nobody is fit for public office. Be that as it may, we have to pick a winner. Eeenie, meenie, minie, moe. Good Luck.

I consider myself a person of average intelligence, and I must confess, the amendments always throw me for a loop. They can't be written in plain English that everyone can understand. They're such gobbly-gook that the majority will vote "no" simply because we have no idea what a "yes" vote will bring. For instance:

AMENDMENT #1. Creates a new transportation projects fund. What's the matter with the old fund? The yellow barrels between Hammond and Baton Rouge remain in place year after year. The potholes in New Orleans streets can swallow a small car. Instead of new transportation projects fund, why don't we finish up the old transportation projects? Will the new projects suffer the unfinished state of the old projects? 

This amendment also "restructures" the Rainy Day Fund, a reserve fund crucial in credit-rating agencies’ view of the state's financial health.  I'm leery of "restructuring," sounds a lot like robbing Peter to float Paul. As I understand, after reading through PARS 17-PAGE guide to FOUR amendments, the Budget Stabilization Fund will be split in two: the Rainy Day Fund and the new Transportation Fund.  

AMENDMENT 2: Allows the state treasurer the option of creating a new infrastructure bank. I didn’t have time to delve into the difference between an infrastructure bank and a regular bank, but have y'all counted how many banks we have in Hammond already? Why exactly does the state need another one? Can't they deposit the money in an existing facility? Beats me.  

AMENDMENT 3: Allows the legislature to deal with taxes in all sessions, not just the “fiscal sessions.” Why can’t they just tell us that? Unless a person sits down and researches all this stuff before hand (and it takes a Philadelphia lawyer to decipher what the deuce they’re talking about) the average dude is going to vote “no,” thinking we have enough trouble when the legislators mess with the taxes once a year. Seems like the once-a-year restraint has those fellows chomping at the bit.

AMENDMENT 4:  Requires state and local governments outside of Louisiana to pay taxes on property they own in Louisiana. That seems to be the most sensible of all the amendments, although after you read the 5-page explanation you are as confused as ever. It delves into Tennessee storing natural gas in Louisiana, etc. etc. If the Chinese government owns an oil well in Louisiana waters shouldn’t they pay the taxes? You bet they should. I’m all for that.

These are my opinions and nobody else’s. I already voted absentee, but for those who’ll be standing in line Saturday, GOOD LUCK.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Download In Progress...

I was telling my young friend Megan about Saturday’s wonderful Book Festival at the Hammond Library. There were hundreds of people milling about, talking to authors, stopping at booths, and eating free hamburgers,
“Really?” Megan replied. “Nobody goes to the library anymore.”
“That’s not so. There were lots of folks there.”
“Most everybody gets their books on Kindle or downloads them from someplace.”
“Now you can download books from the library,” I said. That’s one of the new innovations put in by Barry Bradford, Director, who has done an amazing job, bringing the library into the 21st century. “Do you ever read the classics?”
“Oh, sure. Harry Potter.”
“Captain Ahab?”
“Who is he?”
            I recall my father telling my sister and me on more than one occasion: “If you have the company of a good book, you will never be lonely.”
“So, if you don’t read, how do young people entertain themselves?” I asked.
“We have our tablets and our phones. We can read books, play games, send messages, talk to friends.”
I have to have a book. I like turning the pages, feeling the texture of the paper, dog-earing one corner, underlining a particularly beautiful passage. I like placing favorites in my bookshelves where I can take them down and read them again and again. When I moved from the big country house to the little house in town, I made a conscious decision that since my new space was limited every fifth book had to go, so I donated them. Two days later I was back, retrieving a few that I was crazy to let go.  
At a recent book club, a white-haired member looked through her eye glasses, turned up her hearing aid and asked me where she could get a copy of my latest book, Pohainake Parish.
“It’s at bookstores and libraries,” I replied.
“Oh, honey, I’d have to get in the car and drive to those places. Can I download it from Kindle or Nook?”
“Absolutely,” I replied, thinking libraries have to cope with this new development and the competition is stiff, and even the old people are getting into it.
But for me, who still lives in the dark ages, there’s no substitute. I love the library.

For information on events at the library click here.