London Series

Riding the wave of the current interest in London due to the shooting incident, I’m posting links to a series of columns I wrote several years ago when I was fortunate enough to visit.

The London Series

This is a short series of columns written about my London trip.  I  hope you will enjoy it!   London pictures are also posted.


Traveling Light

My sister and I are planning a trip together to London. I’ve never done anything like this before, so it will be an adventure.

“I’ve traveled so much that I’m an expert at traveling light,” my sister told me.


London on the Budget Plan

It seemed like a great idea when my sister suggested a vacation tour to London.  I haven’t been anywhere like that before, so I was looking forward to it.  We found cheap tickets on the Internet for an evening flight.


Hop On – Hop Off

My sister is organized and has things like itineraries, maps, and guidebooks to make the most of a travel vacation like the one we took to London.  She wanted to see museums, universities, and palaces.

“What do you want to see?” she asked me.

“Er… I hear they have great pubs and fish ‘n’ chips.”


Oh! My Aching Feet!

We woke up to rain in morning.  It rains a lot in London — something about being an island surrounded by the sea, I think. What would we do since it is raining, I wondered.

“Go anyhow, of course,” said my sister.


The English Countryside

After checking out most of the museums in London, we were ready for something different.  We got up early to go to a flea market that my sister had heard of called Portobello Market. Well, actually, she had seen it in a movie.


London’s Last Fling

The entire time that I was in London, I was never able to figure out British money.  I don’t know why they don’t just use Euro’s like the rest of civilized Europe — not that I could figure that out either.

Pictures 

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Dog Gone

dogI have a dog living under the bed. His name is Gizmo, but you can call him Giz. He is a miniature Sheltie. Giz is as weird as his name, very shy, timid and afraid. He spends most of his time hiding. I should mention that he actually is my daughter’s dog. When he is not under her bed hiding from imaginary doggy danger, he is looking out the window waiting for her to come home and protect him.

The other evening I was getting ready to go for my evening walk. Giz was not under the bed for once and was dancing on his toenails to go along. He goes on walks rather infrequently because he is either having paranoid delusions or is under the bed on the verge of another nervous breakdown.

Well, why not take the silly dog walking? He needs exercise too and perhaps a change of environment will help him to overcome some of his unreasonable fears, I thought.

I put him on a leash and Giz trotted along beside me, acting as if he had just eaten a whole box of Prozac flavored dog treats, seldom stopping even to leave his autograph on mailboxes or trees. He was almost acting like a normal dog until we reached the end of the cul-de-sac where some neighborhood children were playing. When the children spotted Giz, they came rushing over yelling, “Can we pet him?” People tend to like Shelties because they all look like Lassie.

Surrounded by strange children, instinct took over. Giz panicked and tried to pull away from me. The children did not understand why Giz was trying to escape from being petted. Frankly, neither did I. He ran first one direction and then another but couldn’t go far on a leash. I was trying to calm him when he somehow managed to pull his head through the loop of his collar, breaking free and streaking back down the street as if chased by imaginary demons.

Dogs, children, and dust swirled around me as Giz bolted down the middle of the street toward the lights of an oncoming car. With my heart in my throat, I saw him veer out of the path of the car and into someone’s yard just in the nick of time, probably setting a new world record for the canine sprint. The children chased after him squealing.

By now we were creating quite a commotion on the normally quiet street. We called and called, but he didn’t come. I stopped to ask some neighbors if they had seen a dog. “Oh, the Sheltie? Yes, he was running down the street!” Well, that didn’t help much.

It was growing dark and the dog was nowhere to be found. There seemed to be nothing to do but return home at this point and hope that the stupid dog would calm down and find his way home later. Walking back with an empty leash, I peered into bushes and shadows, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. How would I explain to my daughter that her little dog was lost, I wondered?

Well, when I arrived back home, the mutt was waiting for me on the back steps anxious to get inside. He made a beeline to his favorite spot under the bed, not even slowing down to check out his food dish. I haven’t seen him since.

I might as well face it; I have a permanent dog kennel under the bed – but at least I know where the dog is.

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss
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Irish for a Day

irishToday is St. Patrick’s Day and everyone will be wearing green. I don’t want to be different. Everyone wants to be Irish. They go to extraordinary lengths to find Irish relatives and trace their geology back to Ireland.

I turn on the radio and hear strains of “Danny Boy” on an Irish flute as it plays for the first of the many times I will hear it today. I have my morning coffee and flavor the black brew with a white stream of Irish cream, just because it seems like the right thing to do.

I wonder whether to go to the grocery and buy some of red, corned beef with spices and one of the green cabbages from the huge display mound in the grocery store, or whether just to opt for a Rueben sandwich from the deli. Deli will do just fine, I decide. While I’m there, I can pick up a loaf of green bread or a Key Lime Pie from the bakery. Of course, Key Lime Pie has nothing to do with Ireland, other than the mere coincidence of being green.

Today is a day when every one appreciates a mane of auburn hair and is even just a bit envious. They will ask a dozen times if I’m Irish and, of course, I will probably lie and say that I am, when in fact I don’t have the slightest idea whether I am or not. I really don’t know what my lineage is or why my mother gave me an Irish name.

The Scotch-Irish settled in the area where my ancestors came from, as attested by the names of the name of the town, Erin. But hard as I try, the only thing I can find for sure that is Irish in my house is potatoes and even their lineage is a bit suspect.

Some people really become enthusiastic over St. Patrick’s Day, mostly because it is an opportunity to drink beer and party. By the time the evening is over they will be seeing leprechauns and the slurred speech may not be because of an Irish brogue.

I’m surprised that St. Patrick’s day has not yet been declared a national holiday since a large percentage of the population claimed Irish heritage on the last census, at least according to what I’ve heard.

The wanna be Irish carry cards with a picture of St. Patrick on one side and an Irish blessing on the other. They are all named Patty O’ Something and are offended if someone suggests that they are not Irish. They have bumper stickers that say, “Kiss me – I’m Irish,” and drink Irish whiskey to show how patriotic they are.

Personally, I’m not sure what a limerick is exactly, or how to dance an Irish jig, or what the difference is between shamrock and clover, if any. I’m not sure either why claiming heritage from a country where people kill each other over religious and political differences and where hate is carried on through generations of violence is a desirable thing.

But eons of Irish poets and great literary figures have woven a romantic and legendary tradition of the Celtic people that has grown to enormous proportion.

And so, we celebrate the Irish and their contributions to our country, which was largely built through the sweat of the Irish immigrants. We embrace the shamrock trilogy and the symbolic green of the Emerald Isle. We cannot help but admire the hardy people who have faced great diversity and hardship good-naturedly.

On this most Irish of all days, we wear our green and try to be Irish, when, in fact, the most Irish thing about us is probably the fact that we have “kissed the ol’ blarney stone” and deceive ourselves that we are Irish-for-a-day.

Copyright 2000 Sheila Moss
Edited from original
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Going Buggy

house“Where did all these gnats come from?” I asked, noticing some small bugs on the living room carpet. Closer inspection revealed they were not gnats at all, but tiny black ants with wings. Ants? With wings? Why would I have winged ants in my living room?

It can’t be TERMITES, can it? PANIC! I’d better call the bug man to check it out.

The call to the exterminator was not encouraging. “It sounds like termites. They are swarming everywhere. I have so many calls I can’t keep up with all of them. I’m going to do a job on your street today, so I’ll come by and look.”

I had that feeling of dread. I’ve heard termites make mud tunnels on the foundation. I went outside and looked. No tunnels, but the windowsill was full of the critters, and thousands of tiny pairs of wings were left behind.

The termite inspector came and confirmed my worse fears. “What we have here are subterranean termites.” He went on, “It’s a pretty big problem. They live in the ground, and we use a chemical method to inject a poison barrier in the ground around the house.”

Subterranean? I can’t even spell it and I’ve got it, I thought miserably. I was in no mood to argue, about bugs with the munchies. I wondered when the roof would come crashing in.

“Get rid of them! HURRY!”

“We have to drill into the ground and that means through the concrete patio and the garage floor.”

“Oh, super!”

He then proceeded to enlighten me about termites. “You are lucky! When they swarm they are getting ready to mate and create new colonies. It is a warning. Those are the kings and queens. They don’t do the damage. When they swarm, there are millions of them. People always panic.”

“The worker termites are white. They are the ones that do the damage. You never see them because they stay in the ground. They build mud tunnels up the foundation to get into the wood. Problem is, they don’t always build on the outside of the foundation; they can also build inside, even in the holes of concrete blocks.”

From the looks of my living room, those royals must have had one heck of a honeymoon.

I later found out that there are different ways to treat for subterranean termites. The exterminators can inject a barricade into the ground that the termites detect and, theoretically, won’t go through, or inject a poison barricade that termites can’t detect, or even set traps to attract them and let them take the lethal poison home to the colony since termites are social insects.

“We inject a barricade that they can’t detect. They dig right through it. When it gets on them, it gives them a fungus that they then take back to the colony.” This was far more information than I really wanted to know.

It’s mass murder, I thought. I would be responsible for killing thousands of bugs with biological weapons. I tired not to think of tiny termite screams, as I momentarily felt a pang of remorse.

Wait a minute – they are eating me out of house and home! I can’t feel sorry for termites! They do more destruction that any natural disaster and my house is their choice for a buffet banquet.

So, I hired a hit man to do the dastardly deed. The bug professionals came with coveralls, tanks, and drills. They drilled for what seemed like hours. All the stuff in my garage had to be moved away from the wall to make room. What a mess! The poison was injected, the holes refilled and the worse was over, except for paying the bill.

“They were in the wood,” confirmed the termite man. “They have started on the main supporting beam under your house. Fortunately, no damage yet, lucky thing you found them this year instead of three years from now.”

Funny, I don’t feel very lucky – on the other hand, I suppose the termites are having a worse day than I am.

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss

Posted in Humor | 2 Comments

Spring Forward – Fall Back

timeThe time is changing again. I have an extra hour of daylight in the evening starting this week. But that creates a problem – what to do with my extra hour?  Just about the time I get adjusted to standard time, it springs forward to daylight saving time. I really hate all this dallying around with the clocks.

It should be great to get an extra hour of daylight. When I set the clocks forward and saw what time it was, it was terrible to realize that it wasn’t really the time I thought, but an hour later instead. My body didn’t seem to understand. Please, body, do not go back to the old time now. We have lost an hour of life. Force yourself.

Of course, losing an hour of sleep made me really tired. And because of being really tired, I woke up that next morning an hour late. Well, it wasn’t really an hour late, but the clock said it was an hour later. It made the daylight last longer, so long it seemed as if the day would never end.

The clock-changing bit happens on the weekend to give everyone a chance to remember before the workday. I actually had an hour less to get ready for the day since I woke up at the same old time. This made me run late and I ended up not being on time.

I wish I could use up that extra hour somehow. It’s starting to bug me. I know I will lose it next fall when I give back my extra hour to change to standard time, but it’s been gone so long by then that I won’t even appreciate it. I can’t seem to adjust. I can’t use it by going to bed early to get up sooner, and I can’t use it by getting up later as I then don’t have enough time.

I could use the hour of daylight to do something I really want to do, I suppose. Trouble is I’m so tired and out of whack from trying to adjust to the time change that I don’t really want to do much of anything. I don’t really want that hour.

Maybe I could give it to charity. They always seem to need our time. Maybe we could all collect up our extra hours and pool them. If 24 people would donate, we would have an entire extra day. Is that how it would work, or would the hour we give be the same hour for everyone and so we would still have only an hour?

This is getting very confusing. The only way NOT to end up with extra time on my hands seems to be NOT to give up the hour to begin with. It’s an uphill battle.

I guess I’ll just save my hours. Surely something will come up sooner or later to use them for. I wouldn’t want to waste time now, would I? But whether I use time or lose time, I always need more time as there is never enough time.

I’d talk about this more, but my time is up. I’ve been killing time. See how this works? At least, now I won’t have to worry about what to do with that extra hour for a while.

Copyright 2002 – 2017 Sheila Moss
Revised
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The Chef Strikes Again

potato saladOkay, we are going to have another cooking lesson. After last year’s experience, I’m not trying to do deviled eggs. This year the eggs will go straight to the potato salad – no detours.

We will need four boiled eggs for the potato salad. Put these five eggs in a pan and cover them with water. Yes, I said FIVE! In case something unforeseen happens, we will have an extra – in fact, let’s boil six. Our track record with food preparation is not too good.

We will bring them to a boil, then turn down the heat and let them simmer for about fifteen minutes. Easy, huh? It’s is a cinch. If you can boil water, you can make boiled eggs.

Next, we need potatoes, obviously. We can fix them in two different ways, so we need to make a decision here. We can boil them whole with the peelings on, or we can peel and dice them, then cook. No, I don’t like peeling spuds either, so let’s cook them whole. It takes longer, but they will have more vitamins.

We need to fix five cups of potatoes. I don’t know how to measure whole potatoes either. Just guess. Put them in a big pot and cover them with water. Bring them to a boil and let them simmer for about 30 minutes. Yes, the same way you cook eggs, except longer. Put the lid on the pot and they will cook faster

Now we will chop up one cup of onions. I have a nice purple onion which will look pretty. You don’t like onions? Well, it isn’t potato salad without onions. Get over it.

Onions are easy to peel.. Use a sharp knife and cut them crosswise then slice them to make small pieces. Sniff, this onion sure is strong. Just keep chopping! Sob! This is the strongest onion I’ve ever seen. Boohoo! Hand me a paper towel. Sob! Sniff! Did I mention that chopping onions might make your eyes burn?

Are you watching the potatoes? They are boiling over. Get them off the heat! What a mess! Didn’t I mention that potatoes boil over easily? Okay, put them back and leave the lid cracked for the steam to come out. Good grief. Can’t you even boil water?

Now, the recipe calls for celery seed, but I like real celery. It’s that green tasteless stuff that people eat on a diet. Chop the celery to make about a cupful. Be careful. OUCH! The knife slipped! I better get a bandage before I bleed in the food.

Are the potatoes tender when you test them with a fork? Take them off the heat and pour out the water. Watch the steam, you can get burned. YOWEE! See what I mean? Now let’s peel the potatoes. After cooking we can peel and dice them easily. OUCH! My hand, I CUT my hand! Not again!

What was that noise? The EGGS! You let the eggs boil dry? Look at that. It blew up! I didn’t know eggs would do that. Well, they are done enough. Put them in cold water to cool. Now we need to peel them. Start at the big end and they will peel easier. Don’t worry about the part that sticks to the shell. Help me out here. I’m injured.

Okay, all we have left to do is mix it. Put the potatoes, onions, and celery in a big bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 of vinegar. I know one is sweet and one is sour. No, it won’t explode. Don’t question the recipes.

Stir in 1 ½ cups of mayonnaise. We forgot the stupid eggs. Chop them and crumble up the yokes. Potato salad expands when you mix it. Get a bigger bowl.

Well, it turned out okay for a change. You can sprinkle it with a dash of ground cayenne pepper to make it look pretty. The lid came off? How? Oh no! All the pepper fell in, huh? Well, maybe we can just call it Cajun potato salad.

I’m going to the emergency room to get my hand sewn up. Clean up these pots and pans. This kitchen is a disaster. It looks like we had a food fight. What ever you do, don’t try to cook anything while I’m gone.

Next time we will make coleslaw, something with no cooking involved.

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss

I suppose you readers have a better recipe? Okay, let’s have it! Hopefully, it does not include onions.

Posted in Education, Food, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Deep Sea Fishing 101

fishing-boatThe first and most important part of deep-sea fishing is that you must be at the sea. If you live within driving distance, that is not a problem. We inlanders must limit our deep-sea experiences to vacations. While most ladies will be content to simply lounge on the beach and pretend they went fishing, the men and a few purists will insist on actually fishing. It does add a bit of excitement to a vacation.

Special note: If you become seasick easily, stop here.

Presuming you have made a commitment to do the deed, the best thing for the uninitiated is to go on a charter tourist boat. Beach resort areas usually have a great many of them and you merely have to select the one that looks most seaworthy and least leaky. An experienced captain is a great plus.

Excursions leave early in the morning, so you must arrive at the crack of dawn or you will miss the boat – literally. If you are not sure whether you get seasick, take motion sickness medicine before you go as a preventative measure. The small fishing boats rock and roll, go up and down, and side to side. Some of the biggest and toughest looking men will be seasick by the end of the day, I promise you.

The good news is that these excursions furnish poles, tackle and bait. You furnish sunscreen, a sun hat, and your own lunch if you think you will be able to keep one down. Rubber sole shoes are a good idea as the deck will get wet and slick and you don’t want to end up going overboard. Remember the sun will be intensively hot. Yes, you can go below deck, but you cannot catch fish below deck.

Trophy fishing is for the experience fisherman. Beginners usually bottom fish. The bait will be yucky stuff like squid. Except for that, deep-sea fishing is similar to other kinds of fishing. You bait the hook, throw it in and wait for a fish to bite. The captain will know all the best fish beds and will take you from one to another. Do not become alarmed if you don’t catch anything at the first few spots. He will invariably save his best hole for last.

Most of us will catch only baby fish not worth keeping. Yes, it hurts to throw one back when you’ve worked so hard to catch it, but it’s really best to set them free. On the other hand, you may have beginner’s luck and actually catch a couple of big ones. It is traditional to reel in your own fish without assistance. This is the fun part of the event and the reason people go fishing. Ocean fish will usually put up a terrific fight and actually landing one a great thrill!

If you think that you have hooked a whale, most likely you have snagged the line of a fellow passenger fishing from the other side of the boat. They will also put up a terrific fight; however, it is also best to set them free.

If you grow tired of fishing, stand on the bow of the boat, watch the waves, and feel the wind and sea spray in your face. Do not stand close to anyone with their head over the side of the boat. If it is you with your head over the side of the boat, skip the part about watching the waves.

When you return to shore, they have people that will clean your fish and pack them in ice if you desire. Life is good, isn’t it? If you are traveling, you can easily give freshly caught fish away. However, after going to the trouble to catch them, you will probably want to cook and eat them, whether you like fish or not.

The best part is that when the fishing is over with and you have done your duty, you can brag about “the one that got away” then sit on the beach under an umbrella and enjoy the rest of your vacation.

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss
Posted in Crafts/Hobbies, Humor, Sports, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Shop Till You Drop

shoppingSpring is here and my wardrobe is sadly lacking, in fact, almost non-existent due to the extra pounds put on during the winter while wearing bulky sweaters. I am so tired of pinning skirts shut because the buttons don’t quite reach and spending the day trying not to breathe because a button or seam might pop. So, I go shopping.

The older I become the more of a hassle shopping seems to be. My stamina just isn’t what it once was, and the malls suddenly seem so much larger than they used to be. Anyhow, I accidentally find a store that is being remodeled and jump right into the deed at hand. Everything is 33% to 40% off to make up for the inconvenience of the remodeling dust. Who cares if there is tile on the floor or a few sheets of plastic hanging around when there are bargains to be found?

Shopping fever comes quickly, and in no time at all I am digging though those racks looking for outfits like a wild woman. The thing that amazes me most about women’s clothing is all the large flowers and horizontal stripes on clothing intended for the “mature” woman. Don’t designers know that we already are big enough; we don’t want to look like an upholstered sofa!

Looking for the right outfit in the right color that fits perfectly and doesn’t make one look fat is so exciting! I had forgotten how much fun it is. What a thrill it is to find the perfect outfit, especially when it is marked down. In fact, it is such a thrill that I can’t seem to stop. I keep finding more and more perfect outfits. It isn’t easy, mind you. I am looking for separates. When I find pants in the right size, there is never a coordinated top to fit, and vise versa. Bargain shopping is really a challenge.

Five hours later when my adrenaline buzz wears off and I return to sanity, I realize that I have prowled through everything in the store several times, tried on most of it, and found twice as many perfect outfits as I can afford. My feet are suddenly killing me and I am starving to death. Shopping where there is no carpeting may be great for the pocketbook, but standing on hard concrete for hours sure is tough on the feet.

My problem now is to decide on which outfits to keep and which will have to go back to the rack. It is a painful decision. The only thing worse for a woman than going shopping and NOT finding ANYTHING is going shopping and having EVERYTHING look great! Oh, the pure torment of leaving a gorgeous outfit there in the store to be scooped up by someone else who, vanity assures me, will certainly not look half as nice in it as I would.

My feet are killing me by the time I limp out of there. I will soon recover. Nothing makes a woman feel quite as secretly pleased as successful day of shopping. I can hardly wait to go to work on Monday. I will be a fashion parade in the office this week — so cute and fashionable in my new Capri pants and two piece matching coordinates. They won’t know that my new outfits are off the bargain rack, and even if they do, who cares? That will only make them more envious than ever.

The trouble with shopping is that you always want to shop more. One day is just enough to whet the appetite. I’ve always heard that the best way to save money is stay out of stores. You can’t want it if you never see it. Too late for that, I’m afraid. I’ve seen it, and I want it ALL. I’ve gone from rag woman to fashion icon in a matter of hours. I’ve got to stop myself! One day at the mall and I’m a compulsive shopper. How many new outfits can I wear anyhow?

Let’s see, I’ll just try on this blue outfit one more time and see how it looks. Some matching shoes really would be nice, though.

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss
Posted in Fashion, Humor, Shopping | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Day at the Park

park.jpgOh, look, squirrels! Aren’t they cute? City dwellers don’t see a lot of wildlife, so even the sight of so mundane a creature as a gray squirrel in a city park is reason for a mild excitement of sorts. They scamper about chattering and scavenging for food – charming little critters. Touched by their plight, we throw them a few cold French-fries from the last scraps of our fast-food picnic dinner

Apparently this wildlife is not quite as wild as we thought, though. The more French fries we throw, the closer they come. What do they want, ketchup? “Scat! Go away!” We climb up on the picnic table as the squirrels surround us, finally scampering up a tree and peppering us with leaves and bark as we run for our lives. Probably never had to beg for a peanut in their spoiled, rodent existence.

I love the duck pond in the park, always occupied by both wild and tame ducks, and even migrating Canadian geese at some times of the year. See that little baby ducky! Isn’t he adorable? Look at the green, iridescent head on the Mallard. Let’s throw him a few crumbs. Look at him come swimming. Look at all the others that are coming too. Where did all these ducks come from? Can’t they quit all that quacking? Shut up ducks! We don’t have any more bread. Dumb ducks! Feed one duck and a hundred friends come to the party – bunch of moochers. You can’t even enjoy the duck pond for the ducks.

Well, we can always just go for a nice peaceful walk and get away from these critters. The weather is beautiful late in the early spring season – blue sky, a breeze blowing. Aren’t the flowering shrubs beautiful? Pink, white, yellow, all colors are starting to bloom and stirring in the breeze. Speaking of the breeze, that wind is really beginning to blow. I feel a bit chilled. And where did the sun go? It isn’t going to rain, is it? Tell me it isn’t going to rain. Why does the wind have to blow so hard? Suddenly, I’m not one bit interested in a bunch of flowering trees. It’s a blasted hurricane out here! I just want to finish this hike from hell and get back to the car. How far is it? My feet are killing me, and I’m freezing to death. Maybe I’m not the outdoor type after all.

What are all those people doing out here in the park while it is still winter anyhow? Don’t they have jobs? Why aren’t they working? Must be nice, nothing to do but hang around in the park all day. That one guy must be a starving artist. I figured that out when I saw the canvas and easel he was carrying. I think he is going to paint a picture of that big oak tree. Personally, I like the weeping willow better. But he is the artist, isn’t he? Guess he will paint what he chooses. People are stopping to watch him paint. Bring out a canvas and easel and the whole world is populated by art critics. They can’t draw or paint a lick but always have an observation to make about what someone else is doing. Guess they think he should be painting the weeping willow too.

Maybe we can just sit here on this wooden bench in the sun and warm our bones for a moment. The sun has come back now and feels really good. But, what is that funny looking bee doing? I think he has taken a liking to us. He keeps buzzing around as if he is looking for something. Probably hopes we have a pencil sharpener for his stinger. Hope that bee hasn’t fixated on my perfume or hairspray. Honestly, bee, you cannot make honey from hairspray.

I know you can only be nice to a bee for so long, but don’t swat at him. We don’t want to upset him. He probably has friends waiting in the bushes. Just back away slowly, and hope he isn’t after your wallet. Okay, bee, take the park bench. I was only kidding about how warm it is in the sun anyhow.

Well, guess it is about time to go home. Nothing like a nice day at the park to make one appreciate nature. Nothing like a day of nature to make one appreciate home either.

Copyright 2001 Sheila Moss
Edited
Posted in Creatures, Environment, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Taxing Experience

pigbankPerhaps you have heard the old saying that nothing can be certain except death and taxes? A few years ago I received a notice that I owed taxes to the State of Tennessee. It was not even the end of January and tax collectors were coming around already?

You see, the great State of Tennessee has no income taxes. The “honkers” take care of that. Every time anyone dares suggest an state income tax for individuals, the tax opponents turn out in force to circle the State Capitol building and honk car horns to express their displeasure. Legislators yield to the pressure of a vocal minority and no new state income tax law is passed.

As a result, the state never has enough money and must think of creative ways to collect revenue. Due to the lack of an income tax, Tennessee has one of the highest sales tax rates in the nation. Unfortunately, imposing sales tax did not work too well either as people simply went online and bought from places like Amazon that did not collect sales taxes.

Therefore, imagine my surprise when I received the email from Amazon regarding my taxes. In short, it went something like this:

Amazon.com is not required to collect sales or use taxes in Tennessee. However, you may owe use tax on purchases you made from Amazon during the previous calendar year. The total sales price of purchases you had was $12.64. This is the amount that you may include on your Tennessee use tax return.

I was not even sure what a “use tax” was. I hoped this didn’t mean that I needed to pack my toothbrush and plan on going to jail for tax evasion. Or, maybe I needed to circle the capitol and honk my car horn. The Tennessee Department of Revenue must stay up nights thinking of ways to collect taxes without having it seem like they are collecting taxes.

The tax rate was 2.50%. Let me see, 2.50% of $12.64 is how much — about 32 cents? They wanted me to file a tax return for 32 cents? Last year my CPA charged over $300 to do my Federal Income Tax return. I couldn’t afford to file another tax return for a 32 cent debt.

The state made it easy for people like me, though. We could pay online. I wondered if they charged themselves a use tax for conducting e-commerce. No, of course not. The state is exempt from taxes. After all, what’s the point of paying yourself? In my case, it would cost more to process the tax than the amount collected.

I tried to follow the online instructions: “Enter a description of the purchase, price of purchase, and the date of purchase. Enter payment debit or credit card.” Could I charge 32 cents on a credit card? If I paid by credit card, they would charge a fee of 2.49%. Using a credit card could double the amount I paid. Maybe I should have given them a break, paid an entire dollar, and told them to, “Keep the change.” Of course, they didn’t give me a break, did they?  I sure hoped my 32 cents would balance the budget.

Why did I have a feeling most people were going to ignore this email and pretend it never came? Apparently, that is exactly what happened. Not to be deprived of their due, however, Tennessee passed a law that Amazon.com had to collect taxes at the time of sale.

So, I unpacked my toothbrush and became an honest citizen instead of a tax evader.

Copyright 2002-2017 Sheila Moss
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