LOCAL VIEW —March Gladness—

Tax Time 1 IMG_1880I escaped from the madness of my taxes to the gladness of my garden, muttering to myself about how the farmers who made our nation great likely had next to no paperwork or financial records to deal with. They wanted all Americans to learn to read and write, but it was not to torture them. Americans were suppose to read and write inspiring and uplifting things, not to create bureaucratic busybodies.

Just about the only redeeming thing about sorting through the complete mess my wife and I make of our financial records is that I find all sorts of poems I scribbled on the backs of envelopes. The envelope may contain a threatening letter stating the electricity will be turned off, but rather than frightened I think up a rhyme, scribble it down, and toss the envelope in the to-do-later pile. Twice last year we only paid the electricity bill to the guy who came to shut it off, (which involves a $15.00 “collection fee”, but it is well worth it. My time is worth far more than $15.00 an hour, and I had better things to do than open envelopes.)

It is not like we are lazy. It is just that at our Farm-childcare we have 17 children, 7 goats, 2 pigs, chickens, ducks, a rooster, a garden, leaky roofs, snow-storms, mowing, shoveling, and disgruntaled customers to deal with. Who has time for paperwork? Then the State Childcare Inspector drops by and is horrified that our record-keeping is messy. A parent forgot to sign in while dropping off a child, so we get “written up” by the State Inspector. And then the insurance adjuster comes by with nothing better to do than dream up dangers all over the place. So we get “written up” by him as well.  And we also have a family and a church and a blog to attend to. Lazy? That isn’t us.

But it is embarrassing when tax-time comes around and I have to start figuring out our business expenses, starting out with the electricity. This involves locating 12 envelopes, only three of which were ever opened, for the farm house, and 12 more for the barn area, and 12 more for our home. They are in six heaps of paper, in various places about the house. Then I add them all up, trying not to be distracted by the poems on the backs of the envelopes. (When my wife hears me chuckling she knows I’m not working.) Yesterday it took me four hours to simply get that far.  Embarrassing?  Yes, especially because every year we say we are never are going to do this again, and will be tidy and pay our bills when they come…but we never do. However I just figure it goes along with being an artist and an airhead. Poets are suppose to suffer, and that is why God created bureaucrats.

This suffering does make me feel poetic, so I look over my shoulder at the pile of papers and head outside.Tax Time 2 IMG_1881Daffodils IMG_1878Will you look at that! One day of warm temperatures has brought the daffodils shooting up! You have to admit that is a lot more interesting than old electricity bills. And something so wonderful simply should not be ignored. That would be ungrateful.

Again green spears of daffodils thrust up.
Again the lifeless landscape comes alive.
The fisted hand relents, and fingers cup
Clear waters to my thirst, as my hopes thrive
And wonder at the beauty made so plain;
The healing spread like balming over pain;
The sanity consoling the insane;
The dawn informing dark it can’t remain.

God knows every star and each one’s name.
Creation shows His art is infinite.
How did He fit together, craft and tame
My world so I can walk around in it?

As He knows all, He needs no further knowledge.
We’re made by One who never went to college.

(This post should explain to you why, when taxes are not due until April 15, I start them in early March.)

 

LOCAL VIEW –A Beltway Basher–(Updated and Concluded Sunday Morning)

A little low that gave us a couple inches of fluff blew up into a huge gale as it moved off to Labrador, and all day we’ve been shuddering in the howling north winds to its rear.

20160119 satsfc

The really cold air is further west, and is somewhat modified by passing over the Great Lakes, which are starting to freeze but are more open than they were last year. We are getting a shot from Hudson Bay, which is frozen over. Our only hope of moderated air is for the gale over Labrador to swing some Atlantic air around and down from the north, but such air is so greatly modified you can’t really call it warm. As it is the blasts of air we’re getting are bone dry. Dew points are at 0°F (-17°C)as temperatures struggle to reach 20°F (-7°C). It is the sort of day where the cat’s fur crackles with static, and it doesn’t want to be patted. I have a raging case of cabin fever, and don’t much want to be patted either.North America Jan 19 cmc_t2m_noram_3My fellow weather geeks are all excited by a storm that doesn’t exist, except in the imagination of computer models. The weak low over Texas in the above map is the forerunner of an impulse that could explode over the east coast. The American, Canadian and European models are all showing it. It is the sort of situation that once would fill me with excitement, as it would be a formidable foe to be fought, but now it only makes me crabby, as I am under doctor’s orders to avoid any sort of lifting that tenses my stomach muscles, after my operation. It a little like being presented with a beautiful woman or delicious meal when you are young and healthy, and yet told you aren’t allowed to touch or taste. A whirling blizzard of snow could be on its way, but I’m just suppose to sit idly by.

I am allowed to lift paper, which means I’m stuck with producing the slips that show all our customers how much they spent at our Farm-childcare last year. They need it for their taxes, for childcare is a tax-deduction. I don’t see why they can’t just do the job themselves. They should be well aware of what they spent. However the stupid government doesn’t trust them. They want lots and lots of slips of paper. As if this is something I need added to my life. I have to waste my time producing formal forms, handing them to my customers, who then have to waste their time shuffling the forms with other forms into a heap sent to the IRS, who then has to waste their time hunting for errors.  Someday all of us will stand before God, who will ask us how we spent our time on Earth, and we’ll answer, “Shuffling forms.”

I wouldn’t mind it so much if the government was so careful, and was meticulous about accounting for each penny they spent, but the irresponsible buffoons simply print money whenever they need it. It is complete hypocrisy for them to demand that tax-payers do what they don’t.

Obviously I’m very grumpy. I glance out the window as the wind shudders by, and see the swirling powder snow glittering in the sunshine, and don’t see a lick of beauty. I just feel the drafty house breathing cold air, and want to go out and shovel, to get my blood stirring, but can’t. I am allowed to go out and walk, but there is only so much doddering-about I can do outside before I just feel like a shuffling old man, out on his “constitutional”. I want action that has purpose.

I suppose finding beauty in a grim day is a worthwhile purpose, and I must begrudge that walking about in a howling, shuddering wind does nudge me with a sense that there is grandeur about, but it doesn’t last. As soon as I step back into the house I feel like I’m back in prison. The paperwork rankles. Even when I try to write a sonnet, the cabin fever sits on my head like a helmet of lead. Then the phone rings. It is yet another pollster, wanting to pick my brains about the upcoming New Hampshire Primary.

The pines have been roaring up in the hills
As the furnace is roaring, increasing my bills
And I am now pacing, cursing the shills
That constantly call up to poll “won’ts” and “wills”.

I feel I could rip out the damn telephone
If only those pollsters would leave me alone;
Pretenders, cajolers, they’re fake to the bone,
Part of a problem they pretend to disown.

The winter wind roars and the drifting snow hisses
Yet no one’s aware of what everyone misses.
There’s no warmth in the air, yet all say that this is
How it should be: All make-up and kisses.

It’s amazing the millions that madmen have spent
Creating a winter of my discontent.
The only time I really get out is to go to the hospital to get the bayonet wound in my gut looked at. Then I get a lot of odd flattery, odd because I’m told what great shape I’m in for my age, which is strange because they just took out a cancerous kidney. What kind of “great shape” is that? But apparently the surgeon appreciated not having to cut through any flab, and the nurse practitioner mentioned most guys my age have long lost their six-packs. She was a little concerned about a bump on my scar, which might be scar tissue but might be a tiny hernia, but she said the only reason she can see it at all is because I don’t have a spare tire around my middle. I muttered that I soon will have a spare tire, if I have to sit around not even allowed to to put wood in the fire, and she said I could put a log in, if it was under ten pounds. I suppose that is some progress.

The real thing I like about visiting the hospital is that it gives me a chance to grouse about paperwork. It is something people there are very willing commiserate about, seeing as how they now spend roughly half their time dealing with paper, at the expense of patients.

Considering how Washington seems to want everyone buried under a blizzard of paperwork, it would seem a sort of justice if they themselves got buried under a blizzard of white. Driving home I noticed the possible storm had made the mainstream media, but all the world seemed gray, not white. It was so cold there was no water, only ice and dust and litter  whipping in the wind. Even the low gas prices made me crabby.

I’m under no illusions that the low prices are occurring due to any kindness felt towards the common man.   They are part of a cruel war, and much suffering is resulting among oil workers. The aim is to bankrupt North American oil companies, so the dangers of competition, and of freedom from dependence on Arab oil, can be removed.  Or so I thought, until I heard the car radio mention that my idiot government is helping the non-Arab nation of Iran, which is not at good terms at all with Saudi Arabia, to flood the market with even more oil. This made absolutely no sense, if we care at all about protecting our own oil producers and developing any sort of energy-independence, however it has been so long since my government has made much sense that I can’t say it surprised me.

What did surprise me was the view my middle son held, when he came stamping into the house later. Without me even bringing the subject up, he said the flood of Iranian oil was a plot to absolutely ruin “Big Oil.”  He said so insanely does the government loathe all and any sorts of “fossil fuel” that they will do anything they can to destroy the competition to solar power and wind turbines, and, because solar power and wind turbines can’t possibly compete unless oil prices quadruple, they are resorting to the temporary step of having very low oil prices, as a way to quadruple those prices.

I thought he sounded radical and a bit paranoid. In other words, more like me than himself. Usually I’m the grouch, and he’s the fount of hope. Perhaps the howling wind and drifting snow and crackling static electricity even gets to the young. Or perhaps Washington has even worn down the  eternal optimism of youth. In which case they deserve a blizzard more than ever.

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE

We are still in the northerly flow, but the winds have died down. The initial impulse is nudging through the south, but there is still no sign of the following impulse, which will grow the imaginary monster storm. Perhaps it can be seen in the low pressure sinking south through the Rockies, and the bulge in the sub-tropical jet coming ashore on the Pacific coast of Mexico, but largely it is still all in the realm of imagination.20160120 satsfc

The models are still seeing the big storm, but are nudging it south and out to sea, which is fine with me, for now the Beltway gets blasted, as I only get dusted, at the northern edge of the storm.

I start my day (before hitting the paperwork) with a visit to Weatherbell and a quick glance at Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps of the models, .

First look at the American GFS model maps for Saturday and Sunday.Belter 1 gfs_ptype_slp_noram_13 Belter 2 gfs_ptype_slp_noram_17Next is the European map of the storm slipping out to sea after clouting the mid-Atlantic, on Sunday.Belter 3 ecmwf_slp_precip_conus2_17Lastly, below are two maps showing the Canadian JEM models solutions, for Saturday and Sunday. Again the beltway gets blasted, as I broom the dust from my steps.

Belter 4 cmc_pr6_slp_t850_conus_13 Belter 5 cmc_pr6_slp_t850_conus_17

There is room for lots and lots of hype, the next few days. Interestingly, Joe Bastardi focused, in his video today, not on this imaginary storm, but on an even worse imaginary storm possible a week from tomorrow.

I wish Washington was imaginary, but that grousing will have to wait until future updates.

THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE   -Hoopla! Hoopla! Hoopla!-

The funniest headline about the blizzard I’ve seen so far was from the New York Post, and stated, “This weekend will be WHITER THAN THE OSCARS”.  (Actually there is a chance most of the snow will stay south of NYC.)

In the Beltway, where the worst is suppose to hit, they were so focused on the snow expected to start on Friday that they got blindsided by only an inch of snow that snuck in on Wednesday evening. There were two to three hours before the salt trucks moved out, and the pavements were so cold that the small amount of snow turned the roads to grease, and traffic moved at a crawl with many fender-benders and spin-outs. (Perhaps they were reluctant to use up their salt before the “Big One”.)

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Crippling-Historic-Snowstorm-Expected-Blizzard-Watch-Issued-18-24-Inches-Possible-365957091.html

Meanwhile, the Big One still doesn’t exist. It is a figment of our imagination. All that the map shows is a weak low over Texas and a bulge on the tropical jet moving up through the Gulf of Mexico.20160121 satsfcThe GFS Model imagines the low over Texas will move to Memphis, Tennessee,  as a secondary bombs out just off the coast of Georgia and takes over, becoming the primary storm on Saturday, off Cape Hatteras. (Last winter these storms formed roughly 500 miles further north, pounding New England and sparing Washington, before kicking out to sea.) Below is the GFS models “solution” to how the storm will redevelop. (I chose five of the 41 maps Dr. Ryan Maue offers at the Weatherbell side, for this one run of the GFS model alone, involving the “surface pressure and precipitation type” features alone.) (The maps go out to 240 hours; I could spend all day looking at maps; but limited myself to the maps from 24, 36, 42, 48 and 54 hours from now.)

Bash 1 gfs_ptype_slp_conus_5Bash 2 gfs_ptype_slp_conus_7Bash 3 gfs_ptype_slp_conus_8Bash 4 gfs_ptype_slp_conus_9Bash 5 gfs_ptype_slp_conus_10The European and Canadian models also see the storm bombing out on the coast Saturday morning.Bash 6 ecmwf_slp_precip_conus2_11Bash 7 cmc_pr6_slp_t850_conus_11Currently all the models see Washington buried under nearly 2 feet of snow.Bash 8 gfs_6hr_snow_acc_east2_16(1)

The thing to remember is that, at this point, all the above maps are showing is imaginary snow, imaginary drifts, and imaginary gales. Washington is very good when it comes to dealing with things that are purely imaginary (like Global Warming). It is likely to be incapable, when dealing with something that actually happens, (as we saw last night, as they dealt with a single inch of snow.)

FRIDAY NOONTIME UPDATE

It is still sunny and calm up here in New Hampshire, as the storm brews up over Washington, D.C..20160122 satsfc 20160122B satsfc20160122B rad_ec_640x480

The NAM computer model is making people up this far north a little nervous, as it shows the snow coming further north than other models.Nam Snow 21050122 hires_snow_ne_61

Nearly all models show Washington getting absolutely clobbered.

FRIDAY EVENING UPDATE

It was odd to watch the press conference down in Washington DC from their “Homeland Security” center, and see they were basically asking the public to go indoors and stay indoors for the next two days, so the roads would be clear for the various people allowed to be outside, (clearing the roads, or attempting to drive ambulances, fire trucks and utility crews to emergencies). It made me wonder a bit if people would obey. After all, it might be one of the biggest storms in a hundred years. Are you not allowed to go outside and experience it?

Up here in New Hampshire there are lots of people who like to go out for a drive during a bad storm. It used to drive me nuts, because I’d try to impress my teenagers with how bad a storm was, but they’d sneak out. I myself preferred walking in the roaring wind, and found it somewhat annoying to cross the road to be on the safe side, as cars came zooming by, lighting up the night with brilliant headlights. However I supposed it was warmer in a car, and modern types are not as tough as us old timers.

What was really annoying to me, in past storms,  was the people who would go too fast, trusting in their all-wheel or four-wheel drive, and then go plowing off the road, winding up out in a pasture. You’d see them there, engines still running, heaters still humming, headlights still brilliant and wipers still slapping, talking on their cell-phones, getting someone to come and rescue them. That’s not a real outdoors man, in my book. However I think New Hampshire people most would still laugh, if asked to stay home in a blizzard.

However perhaps it is different in cities, or perhaps Americans are becoming more like sheep. I thought it was amazing that the public so meekly complied, after the “Marathon Bombing”, when the government commanded that everyone stay in their homes. That wasn’t the rebllious spirit of New England I thought I knew.

In any case, radar shows the heavy stuff has started, down around Washington. 20160122C rad_ec_640x480Even though the storm hasn’t yet redeveloped on the coast. (Those of you used to European maps should note the “storm” currently has a minimum pressure of 1002 mb, which likely would be a sunny day in Norway.  That lack of deep low pressure is largely a matter of latitude. Pressures simply don’t get as low, so far south.)20160122C satsfcMeanwhile up here in New Hampshire we’ve only seen our blue skies gradually fade to gray, as the sun sunk down into a blear.Grtaying sky IMG_1644

SATURDAY EVENING UPDATE  –Our turn to be smug?–

It was a gray day up here in New Hampshire, without a single snowflake to be seen, sixty miles northwest of Boston, (though apparently Boston is now being dusted just a bit). The wind didn’t even pick up much, though one or two lone gusts came through, hinting at the hubbub to the south.

I myself steered clear of most of the news, avoiding the hubbub, and simply watched the weather maps show the progress of the storm, and the radar maps show the northern edge of the snow flirt with New Hampshire, and even snow aloft above me, but with the falling flakes sublimating to nothing as they fell, and never reaching the ground.

20160123 satsfc20160123C satsfc20160123D satsfc20160123 rad_ec_640x48020160123B rad_ec_640x48020160123C rad_ec_640x48020160123D rad_ec_640x480

I wondered at myself, and the way I was so disinterested in the hoop-la from further down south. My indifference didn’t seem very Christian or caring of me, and I wondered if maybe I wasn’t harboring some sort of residual resentment over the fact folk down south couldn’t see what all the fuss and bother was about up north, last year, when we got clobbered and they didn’t. In fact the the first big storm last winter was described as a “bust” even in New York City, as they had all the hubbub of blizzard warnings, and then barely an inch of snow. What they failed to recognize is that even thirty miles away, out on Long Island, people got buried.Last Year 20150125_20150128_2_62Where I live, in the above map, you’ll note there is a so-called “lollypop” of snow, indicating we got more than thirty inches of snow. In fact we got three feet, on the east-facing side of the hill where I live. But there were no breathless reporters producing live reports of how we fared. Could it be I was a bit hurt by the lack of attention? And now I’m thinking turn-about is fair play?

Forty years ago I had a wonderful and faithful dog I had to leave behind at my mother’s, without my personal attention, for two months, as I went on an adventure. When I returned I could see the dog from afar as I drove towards my mother’s house.  As I crested a distant rise the dog recognized (somehow) the sound of my little car, and I could see it jump up and turn on the lawn, and then start to wildly wave its tail. However when I got out of my car the dog suddenly remembered it was really, really pissed off at me, and abruptly stopped waving its tail, and began walking away with a grouchy expression, looking over its a shoulder in a way that said, beyond doubt, “Screw you.” (I ran across the lawn and begged forgiveness, and the cur did forgive me.)

It is funny how these two storms are nearly exactly a year apart, and the people who got the deep snow are so neatly divided. (The lone exception seems to be Long Island, which seemingly has the dubious privilege of getting clouted by both blizzards). It seems a sort of proof that Karma is equal, or at least it is proof that things average out, in the end.

I got to thinking, as I lived through the gray day, of how we should not let simple things like storms divide us.  If we allow snowflakes to divide us, how can we remain united when faced with more substantial things? We should be unswayed by trivial things like snowflakes. However, when I thought about it further, it seemed that was exactly what my fellow writers in the media are asked to do: To be trivial, to focus on short-term differences, in the name of sensationalism. Hmm. Could there be a sonnet in what I was glimpsing?

It was a dreary day under dreary skies,
And I stayed indoors and with bleary eyes
Watched some humdrum news where some dear-me guys
Tried to enthuse all, hiding weary eyes.

Somewhere far away snow is drifting deep.
Somewhere sons are late. Somewhere mothers weep.
Somewhere cars collide. Some are losing sleep
As the newsmen prance, promises to keep.

I thought I glimpsed, in their hyped-up eyes,
How darn tired they were of their tripe and lies
And the way they never get to write of skies
And instead must wear a King’s Fool’s disguise.

Well, that is what you get, when you’re not like me,
And put your paper’s paycheck before poetry.

In any case, I decided I should drop my silly grudge about how, last year, some folk down south said we folk up north were “fussing too much”. After all, if my dog could forgive me all those years ago, I could at least be a little interested in the doings of folk down south.

Almost immediately a picture was sent to my computer from the son of a friend of mine who has moved to Virginia. Because he was so far south the young father had neglected to buy, for his toddler son, a toy that is deemed essential in New England: A small sled. Yet now he was confronted with two feet of snow in Virginia. What could he do?

He got a large box that once had held a bulk-price amount of disposable diapers, did some swift cutting with a paring knife, punched two holes, inserted a rope, and created a sled to pull his little boy through the snow in. His wife took a picture, and I got to see how resourceful people are, when faced with the “storm of the century”…… (and also how they  do not fail to see such storms can be an excuse for joy, sheer joy.)

SUNDAY UPDATE  —All Over—

No snow at all is showing on radar this morning, as the gale slips out to sea. We didn’t even get a dusting here, as NYC got over two feet. There was sledding on Capital Hill. (some say it is the first time it has been allowed in 100 years.) (I notice the capital dome is being worked on. They need to work on the domes of the fellows inside, as well.) Baltimore also got over two feet.Sledding Capital 650x366_01232127_screen-shot-2016-01-23-at-4.26.32-pmI’m glad I’m not facing the clean-up they are facing in New Jersey.New Jersy Drifts 650x366_01240108_carssnowHere’s a final map, and then we can call this storm (and post) over. (However I should mention that the computer models did an amazing job of seeing the storm from five days away, and Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo did an even better job of seeing it from seven days away (and warning of such storms happening January (and February) back when computer models were saying we’d have a Mild El Nino January like 1998’s, back in December.)20160124 satsfc

 

 

 

LOCAL VIEW –Peas and Patriots–

Edible podded peas bbc7de

(photo credit: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/fp.php?pid=6688362#b )

Yesterday, with the help of my eldest daughter, we got 75 feet of edible podded peas planted. (I don’t bother with the ordinary peas any more; too long a run for too short a slide.) With God’s grace we should be getting crunchy pea pods to munch around June 15. They are incredibly popular with the kids at the Childcare, often to the amazement of parents who can’t get the same children to eat vegetables at home.

Actually it is a double row, (and therefore 150 feet,) with the two rows around a foot apart and a four-foot-high fence running between them, for them to climb on. Last year they grew two feet above the top of the fence, and formed a pretty hedge with snowy white blooms, and then began producing more pea pods than we knew what to do with. I became a pea pod philanthropist, and resorted to freezing them in a way I read about on the web where you don’t bother with blanching, (not bad, but the texture was a bit fuzzy when they were thawed and boiled up in February,) and still I had too many. It turns out that picking them just stimulates them to make more. So finally I just set the kids loose to graze on them, despite the fact they tended to rip up some plants by the roots, when picking pods.

There was something about grazing that made munching vegetables much more attractive to even the most fussy child. Some, who absolutely insisted they hated all peas, would start out merely hanging out with the others, and then I’d see them sneak a nibble, when they thought I wasn’t looking. I tried not to rub it in when they joined in with the others, and grazed and munched their way down the row. Others were not officially grazing. They were officially “helping me pick”, but more went into their stomachs than the baskets they carried.

You’d think they’d get sick of eating the same thing. (Actually, come to think of it, one little girl did get sick one afternoon, but it partly was due to failing to chew, and she went right back to munching a couple of days later.) There may have been a few days when interest slacked off, and they were more involved with building forts in the woods, but right to the end of the season, when the heat of July makes the lush plants wither and dry, the children would bring up “pea-picking” as a thing they desired to do.

Not that it will happen again. If children have taught me anything, it is that what works one year may not work the next. However I figured it was worth a try. So, today, my muscles all ache in the way they do, when you put in a garden. When I was younger I would tell myself the ache meant I was getting stronger, and meant I would look more attractive to women at the beach. At age 62 I tell myself it is likely either killing me, or keeping me alive. In any case it is an old, familiar ache that walks hand in hand with Spring.

Less familiar is a sort of post-taxes ache in my brain. I find myself trying to keep books concerning the profit and loss of my pea patch,  and imagine facing a highly suspicious government auditor, who assumes any private business is selfish and greedy, and that only the government has the best interests of children in mind. (The funny thing is that government officials make more, and spend more on themselves, as I make less, and spend more on children.)

I think an ache in your brain is far worse than any ache in the body. It is easier, for me at least, to tune out physical pain. The government is involved in a sort of psychological torture, and it is harder to tune out mental pain, for the tuner itself is involved.

In any case, I find myself muttering to myself, involved in needless justifications of being the being I am, and doing the doings I do. I mean, why should the government care a hoot about a pea patch on a remote farm? Haven’t people got better ways to spend their time than to make me nervous, when I write down “pea patch” as a business expense?

I actually feel the pea patch was a profit, over all, last year, but my measure-of-profit is beyond the ken of needle-nosed bureaucrats who measure with money. When my books show that I spent $5.00 on seed, and didn’t sell any produce, they wonder what happened to the peas I planted. Lord knows what disaster could befall me if they found out I ate some myself. I’d wind up like Al Capone, who could not be arrested for what he did, so they had to get him for “tax evasion”. But what is my crime?

That is the psychological torture, and the cruel and unusual punishment, our government is guilty of. It makes people feel guilty for breathing and being alive.

Or that is what I was muttering to myself today, as I walked about achy. There is so much the government inflicts upon its people that is needless. For example, why shouldn’t I simply pay my employees with cash? Why does my government make me responsible for collecting nine of its ridiculous taxes, and doing all the paperwork? I simply don’t have time for such nonsense, and actually pay a firm called “Paychex” to do all that paperwork for me. It costs me $70.00/week, week after week, and after a year that adds up to $3650.00/year I have to pay, when I could just as well be handing my employees cash, and paying nothing.

The government makes you pay in other ways as well. It adds up, and it isn’t merely taxes. It is tantamount to a sort of endless haranguing that makes a nagging wife seem gentle. It is a psychological torture that either so weakens people that the government sees its people collapse, and has killed the goose that laid the golden egg, or else its people rise up and revolt, being driven mad by the government’s psychological torture, and its people are driven to bizarre behavior, such as dressing up as Indians and throwing tea into a harbor.

Here in New England we celebrate our forefathers going nuts, and throwing perfectly good tea into a harbor, and forcing the authorities to respond, with a holiday we call “Patriot’s Day”. We also have a saying, “Plant your peas by Patriot’s Day”.

Well, I have planted my peas. I also enacted a minor rebellion by burning more weeds in my garden without obtaining the proper burn permit.

There was no wind, and you can only burn weeds when it is dry, but if I had tried to get a burn permit yesterday I know darn well I would have been told I had to wait until it was raining, in which case you cannot burn weeds. The government is idiotic. Farmers have burned weeds in gardens ever since the land was first gardened by Indians, (and likely the woods were burned before that, by the pre-agricultural Indians, to keep the glades open and clear for deer), so I just did what needed to be done without a permit.

The fact of the matter is that the government has created so many laws that the average American commits between two and five felonies each day. (Not misdemeanors; felonies.)The laws are seven stacks of paper, each seven feet tall. No normal person has read them all,  and many laws contradict, (so you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t), and they have reached a sort of tipping point where the Law, which is something we should honor and respect, resembles the raving brays of a jackass.

In the face of the government’s psychological torture, it seems civil disobedience is only natural, however I loathe the violent kind. Blowing up spectators during the Boston Marathon is not my idea of a proper celebration of Patriot’s Day. Rather I prefer the peaceful disobedience of Henry Thoreau, Martin Luther King, and Gandhi. Therefore I burn weeds and plant peas, and have business expenses that put love ahead of profit.

A bit of rain came through this morning and dampened the dust, but by afternoon the sun was back out and the dryness was returning. The radar shows a front passing through, but the government could not bother to put a front on the maps.

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LOCAL VIEW —Taxing Taxes Done—

Man Oh Man, has it been a haul, but I came to an end to the drifts of receipts, and added up the numbers in various categories, and felt sick. It seemed I had not “withheld” enough, and owed the government $4000.00 more than I thought I’d owe. I would be hard pressed to come up with the money, and it was with a sense of doom that I approached the lady I pay to spend a half hour going through my numbers, and, with fingers moving like a blur, to punch all the numbers into forms on a computer screen, and finish the job.

This woman worked for the IRS for 35 years, and knows the ropes, concerning tax forms. She knows the legal ways of getting the most from “expenses.” I do not have a clue how some of the forms work. When I read something like, “If line sixteen is more than line eight, write down line five on line seventeen, but if line sixteen is less than line five divide line sixteen by line fifteen, and write down the result on line seventeen”, my reaction is to scream or laugh insanely. This lady simply pauses to look at the ceiling for a second, and then her fingers go back to being a blur.

When she was done I had “withheld” too much, and actually would be getting $700.00 back.

This involved an odd thing called “credits”, which has never made a lick of sense to me, because “credits” do not involve money the government took from you and is giving back, because they took too much. Instead it involves money they government never collected, but is able to hand out, because they have a press that can print money.

I suppose I should be happy, but it troubles me to get money I didn’t earn, even if it has a name like, “earned income credit”. It strikes me as madness, but the lady knows the ins and outs of the forms, and her computer automatically brings up credits I never even knew existed, when she types in my expenses.

Now it is over and done with.  I lift my weary eyes, and see a world that has been transformed.  The snow is gone.

I went out and rototillered part of the garden.  Man oh man was I out of shape. However I have hope of getting back into shape, and getting this blog back on track, over the next few days.

We have actually been in a sort of a drought, which allowed the four feet of snow to slowly fade away without the floods I half expected. The final snow-delay of a long winter was Monday, April 6, with around an inch of sleet and freezing rain, and it was followed by some gloomy weather (which was good for doing taxes in), with temperatures a little above freezing and a small amount of rain.

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Then high pressure built southeast of us, we got into a dry southwest flow, the sun burst out and we had a few glory days, with temperatures getting up near 70° (21° Celsius). You can see the warm fronts, which had been completely unable to penetrate north, pushed past and far up into Quebec. The rains with the next system stayed far to our west and south.

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Everything seemed to dry out coming east.

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A second high pressure has pressed south after the first, and given us cool but bone dry conditions.

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It is so dry that there were “Red Flag Warnings” yesterday. Perhaps due to a reaction setting in after doing my taxes, I felt really annoyed that the government was telling me I couldn’t burn the dead weeds in my own garden. There used to be a rule that stated farmers had brains, and didn’t need to get burn permits to burn weeds on their own farms, and I decided to pretend I didn’t know about the new rules, if some officious volunteer from the fire department showed up as I burned a small triangle of weeds in my rhubarb and asparagus patch, (bounded on two sides by lawn, and on the third side by rototilled soil).

Just as an experiment, I thought I’d see if I could control the fire and only burn a corner of the triangle. I couldn’t. A gust of wind hit, and the fire spread in a wonderfully exciting manner, with me rushing about the edges of the triangle, preventing attempts the fire made to spread outside its bounds. It put out an amazing amount of heat, and a hose hidden under the weeds melted, and a plastic flower pot at the edge caught on fire,  It was a bit disconcerting when the fire began to creep out over the lawn, burning the brown grass between the first sprigs of green, but a bit of dancing over the turf stomped those creepers out. In the end I proved an old farmer could burn weeds without setting the town ablaze, but it did stir the tax-addled molasses of my blood, just a bit.

It was a reminder to me how swiftly fires can spread this time of year. The duff (leaf litter) is not shaded, and the sun is as high and bright as it is in late August, and the top inch or so of the forest floor can become much drier than at any other time. When humidity gets low (it was down around 20% yesterday afternoon) and the wind is gusty, you can get fires that go roaring through the woods, along the ground.

But that didn’t happen on my farm, and the rhubarb patch is now free of dead weeds, with the ashes a nice fertilizer for the plants, which will come bulging up any day now. The daffodils have shot up, and are budding, in a place that was under snow ten days ago.

I’ve survived both winter and taxes.

 

 

 

LOCAL VIEW —APRIL SLEET—

There is nothing like being stuck indoors, doing your taxes, to make absolutely everything else seem preferable. Even the rotten weather has a romantic allure, as if I can faintly sniff distant seaweed on the raw east winds. Of course, that is humbug, but it is a good humbug.

The warm air is stuck to our south. It hasn’t made much progress since this morning. (Click maps, or open to new tabs, to clarify and enlarge.)

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The cold high pressure up over Quebec does not want to budge, and low pressure is shunted out to sea south of us, without a warm sector coming up our way. In fact we get east winds off the cold Atlantic, or even northeast winds from up in Labrador, where the coldest air lurks, below zero even in April. (Below -17.8° Celsius).  We sure don’t want that  stuff coming south.

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This morning you could watch the rain try to come north, but change to snow as it neared us.

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During the day the high sun had such power that even through the overcast it kept the swirling snow and sleet from sticking, however now night has fallen, and the sleet has a power it lacked before.

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It’s hard to focus on taxes when the sleet is tapping at my window, evoking memories of other Aprils, when the yearning for spring wrestled with the final fits of winter. In some ways it is a season unto itself, a sort of false spring, but a false winter as well. It is something you expect, this far north.

In 1990, just before I met my wife, we had temperatures at the start of April up over 90° (32.2° Celsius), and my customers were consumed by a sort of panic about being “behind”, in terms of spring gardening. I remember telling one very sweet old lady it likely would be sleeting in a week, and she shouldn’t plant her tomatoes, but she insisted, and the customer is always correct. Then, around a week later, I was out working in her garden in a bone-chilling rain, which turned to sleet. She called me in, and served me a lovely bowl of hot soup at a table in a glassed-in porch, and as she plunked the bowl in front of me her old, blue eyes looked out over the forlorn scene, and she spoke the three simple words, “You were right.”

In 1973 my teenager-years had just ended, and my gardener’s job was to trudge out into sleet and rain to trim back a rose garden that had gone amazingly out of control, in a widow’s back yard. Her husband had loved roses, but after he died the garden had turned into a savage wilderness of wicked thorns so towering and thick you half expected to find a castle holding Sleeping Beauty in the midst. It took me a week to cut it all back to a semblance of control. When I remarked to the widow I had never seen roses so vigorous, she simply smiled and said, “My husband loved those roses so much he asked that his ashes be spread among their roots. I guess he is part of the plants by now.”

That is a northern April. It is a splicing of two incongruous ropes, Death and Rebirth.

 I hear you tapping at my window,
Silver April Sleet, laughing as wind’s blow
A shudder down the street, and things don’t grow,
As you pepper buds with patters, for you know
What matters, and what shatters the blunt-willed
Farmer slogging in big boots, and makes song birds
Slouch silent on wet twigs, so disgruntled
They won’t peep. I hear you tap, but what’s heard’s
A song sweeter than waxed ears hear. You cast pearls
Of silver-grey over a drab landscape,
Singing songs so unlike snow’s that, though wind hurls
Needles in my face, I find escape.
When you cast your pearls, it is not to swine,
For April has ears that can hear the Divine.

LOCAL VIEW —The giant sponge—

It was a sodden Saturday, so cold that I suppose I can call it a “winter event”, because temperatures were at freezing in the odd manner that allows rain to freeze and make silver one patch of trees, while fifty yards away the twigs are merely wet and brown. The location of the silver patches is mysterious to me, for the colder air can pool on odd places, halfway up a hill, when my logic would assume the cold air would sink and only be in low places.

I had to do a lot of dull stuff and couldn’t work on my novel like I wanted to. Banking and taxes seem a sort of exact opposite of creativity. In fact I know the IRS frowns on any sort of creativity whatsoever. If ever you wonder why America lacks poetry, blame the IRS.

Beams of light came through the front door despite the dreary day, first as my middle son came in with his girl friend from Maine, and later as my youngest son came in after a tour of the west coast, radiant despite the fact he hadn’t slept in 36 hours. It was good to watch the brothers being brothers again, and provided me with an excuse to procrastinate from doing the dreary stuff, though I did have to leave and get feed for my goats, and miss an hour of their banter.

As I went out I expected to see, and especially hear, signs of the spring freshet. You can visibly see how the deep powder snow has settled over two feet. Amazingly, beyond a trickle here or there off eves, or on a flat road, there is no sign or sound of rising brooks. A drain at the foot of my driveway, which always looks down at a little, rushing brook in the spring, only looked down at wet sand.

The snow is still acting like a giant sponge.  It sucks up all the melting. Though it has shrunk from four feet deep to two feet deep, it actually holds more water. I suppose this means the threat of flood is growing, but I have enough to worry about, with the IRS, and can’t be bothered worrying about flooding when there is no sign of it.

Question: How is the government like four feet of powder snow?

Answer: Both behave like giant sponges.

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