Monday, February 23, 2009

Invasion of the cookie snatchers!

It was strange having two of the grandkids here together after several months of taking them one at a time. The younger sister and brother who used to be inseperable are growing apart it seems and much less understanding/forgiving/accepting of each other!

I've been very glad we saved the SuperNES and the original Nintendo machines, as when sharing the games they usually play together becomes impossible, one of them can usually be tempted by playing a game that Daddy had when he was their age, lol!

If only to say "wow, that's awful"! (The "Intellivision" actually gets that more often than the SuperNES.)

It got warm enough they played outside some yesterday afternoon and helped Grandma cleaning up the yard while I puttered at other things. After some fresh air they seemed to get along a bit better, plus by then it was dinner time and time for her to go home as she had school today.

The youngest is still here, as his Dad was off again today and they had one last day together to celebrate their 10th anniversary. So far it's a been a day of "Boomer" and drawing and playing with stencils...very quiet by comparison.

Time to fix him a glass of Quik for dessert!

May the week be kind to each of you!


Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday falling...

rapidly towards dusk.

I've spent the last two days doing some early "spring cleaning". When Bill and Laura's cats moved in with us the took over one bedroom, as one of them can't be trusted to stay out of the trash or any other food he can find; the other has a penchant for hiding and we fear if he gets in the basement we won't see him for a week.

The things that were stacked up in one corner of that room awaiting shelves and sorting hastily moved into the 2nd bedroom and in the throes of whatever has been dragging me down of late, I hadn't felt like dealing with it.

This weekend is John and Noel's 10th anniversary, my sister is taking Dillon and we have Talia and Caleb, so I needed to finally "caffeine up" and "get to it". I'm done now except for the final vacuuming and waiting for my sinuses to settle a bit before I start.

No good news concerning my last post; I don't really expect any and am assuming I'm just going to be "out of pocket" and grateful I'm not there going through the misery those I left behind are. If I don't hear from the apps I put in this last week by Wednesday I'll start putting in some others.

I read a piece about "surivivor's guilt" associated with lay-offs and such a few months ago. I never thought I'd understand it, but I do! As the young still there lose their jobs and the older ones do more work on the same jobs for less, knowing I got out and (so far) am collecting my pension and retaining some semblence of health care gives me great cause for gratitude and guilt.

I don't know where this will all end up; perhaps with a collapse worth of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged", perhaps with those smart enough forming their own collectives or co-ops to survive. An underground economy of barter, perhaps?

I do know I'm not going to "go" quietly! I'm not going to just "lie down" and give up...

So for what it's worth, may you each have a lovely weekend and may life somehow be kind to each of you!


Monday, February 16, 2009

Death and taxes...

(other considered titles: "The Sword of Damacles", "Gnawing my leg off...")

Friday, Dottie's day off as she worked the weekend, we had our annual appointment with one of H&R Block's associates. The wife of a former coworker, downsized out of her job when a national chain bought the local bank she had worked in for 20 years, she is very good at what she does and has helped steer us in a "better direction" several times through the years.

It wasn't a good day to begin with, as it would have been Dad's 82nd birthday and it's still very hard going into this 26th year without him not to be a bit resentful thinking of all that might have been.

Nonetheless, since we finally had the last of the paperwork Dottie really wanted to get this done. We expected about $1500 back from the Federal and were hoping to use it to pay what we knew we were going to owe the State...

We knew we were going to owe them because when I took the "buyout" from GM last year they took out the Federal taxes they were supposed to, but conveniently and despite my having asked them to, forgot to withhold the State taxes. I caught the error and figured out the proper amount, opening our first savings account in 30 years with it.

What I didn't know until Friday was that since the "buyout" was paid out of our Union retirement fund, the Fed treats it like an IRA and since I'm not 55 I was liable for a 10% penalty for "early withdrawal"! So not only was I not getting back the $1500, but owed another $3000 besides! To go along with that, the lines that transfer to the State return meant that instead of owing the $2400 I had figured, I owed them an extra $700 as well. My former co-worker's wife is now very worried about what they may have in store for him because he along with many others are considering taking the current buyout!

When my son moved last fall he had two households going at the same time and there was a "limbo" period between his last check from his old job and his first on a twice monthly pay period at his new one, plus moving and start-up expenses, etc.. I lent him most of what was in the savings account on condition that I needed it back by April 15th. We had hoped to pay the State with what we got back from the Federal and what was left in the savings account and take the pressure off him...

I had used that buyout money to pay off 4 credit accounts, one of which we kept for the unexpected. The unexpected plumbing bill last fall...most of the big "hit" for this Federal tax penalty as there was a discounted "transaction" fee for paying it through Block, or so they thought...right up until you click "send"!

I always knew I was going back to work, in fact I had tried to pick up a job late last summer though for some reason it "fell through". Dottie kept telling me to wait until after the holidays, etc., because so many other things pop up and each day something unexpected still seems to arise.

Now it seems it's time to begin a job search in earnest, in fact I filed an app on Saturday I haven't told her about yet for fear it will fall through like that last one did. After I start some laundry I'm going to read up on a couple more and perhaps file them. I'm trying to avoid her days off so we don't lose our time together, which may be overidden by the necessity to start bringing in "some green" sooner rather than later.

Things are still "tight" for my son and his wife, especially now that she has moved back to D.C. with him and enrolled in graduate school. They are hoping she picks up a job soon and things will ease for them. If it doesn't, that card will be maxed again soon.

The lady at Block sent me home to make phone calls before she filed that, hoping that between the people that handle our benefits, our Union and GM someone would have decided they needed to do something about this. Fidelity said they told GM there was a problem before it was ever done; the Union said that there were rumors that GM was going to do something about it and gave me a GM number to call; GM says they will issue information in March or April...

I'm not holding my breath!

We had already agreed, knowing that we needed to "tighten our belts" anyway, that we weren't doing anything for each other for Valentine's Day. Friday we splurged and bought a "cheap" tray of steaks ($10 for four) at Sam's and a small tray of mushrooms when we bought milk for the week. While she was at work on Saturday I dug out a heart-shaped baking pan I had bought years ago and made a tray of brownies for her.

We will get through this, somehow, though it never seems like it in the beginning.

Don't know why George and Paul are echoing in the back of my mind now...

"Let me tell you
How it will be.
There's one for you,
Nineteen for me,

'Cause I'm the taxman.
Yeah, I'm the taxman.

Should five percent
Appear too small,
Be thankful I don't
Take it all..."

May the week be kind to each of you!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"La Bete Noire"

Many years ago I read of a "Locomobile" racer called that ("La Bete Noire") in "Autoweek". Having a daughter-in-law who likes to name vehicles and knowing I had to beat her to the punch or she would name my truck for me, I chose that moniker and spent hours on-line looking for the original that I had seen so many years ago. Today I tried once again and happened to luck into not only her history but some photos of her. (It's nice to know I didn't dream the whole thing up!)

There are 20 more photos of her and a bit more of her story at to whom I am very grateful for saving this beautiful machine's history and these photos!

I'm looking forward to browsing through the rest of both of these sites, most likely sooner than later!

Reading that she had gone up for auction and not met reserve 2 years ago, I hope she is somewhere warm and dry. Apparently she has an older sister in the Henry Ford Museum and the sister has a running replica that was built for the '66 World's Fair!

The photo of my truck is from Saturday morning while we were waiting for Noel to be ready to go "antiquing" as I finished waxing it much too late on Friday for there to be light for a photo. Yesterday it was warm again, so I kept Dottie's Malibu at home and handwashed it and spent several hours removing "road oil" from it along with some yellow paint where "someone" apparently was too close to a line-striping truck on a windy day. Then I managed to get a coat of wax on it as well, finishing just as it got too dark to see.

Last night we got the upper end of the storm that dropped the tornadoes in Oklahoma and dropped from the 70's to just above freezing. Though the radar showed freezing rain and snow moving through this morning when I got up, the snow never actually hit the ground here and now the sun is out and things are dry enough that the roads shouldn't freeze tonight.

It's supposed to be warmer again tomorrow and my sawhorses (the ones I couldn't find last week) turned up at my son's under a door in his basement and found their way home, so perhaps I'll finally get that riser cut for this desk and be able to rearrange it. I saw one I really liked at Nebraska Furniture Mart the other week, but I've driven vehicles most of my life that weren't worth as much as it was...

I hope all of you are warm and dry if you're Stateside, or cool and dry if you're below the Equator given the terror that has rolled through Australia of late. May the rest of the week be very kind to each of you...


Friday, February 06, 2009

Too lovely...

The respite in our weather has been amazing these last two days! I spent most of yesterday in the garage sorting and putting away things that hadn't found their way "home" when winter set in. As I have to rebuild the "stovepipe" out there before I have heat, I hadn't bothered until it was warm! I started out planning to build a riser for my computer desk, as I need a way to slip the keyboard under the monitor to have room to use the new graphics pad I picked up a few weeks back, but in trying to get to the things I needed to cut and build it, I got sidetracked!

Today it's even warmer, so my plan is to wash my truck and perhaps get a coat of wax on it.

Dillon is spending the weekend and tomorrow Dottie plans on taking his Mom antiquing as she never spent all of her "birthday money" the last time. If he feels like going then I will tag along, if not I'll stay here with him.

I "let my fingers" do the walking yesterday just for some fun, thinking I had seen photos of Harry Truman in the Oval Office working in shirt sleeves. When I "Googled" I came up with some of F.D.R. but since they said they were "rights managed" I didn't dare to post them, sorry! If you Google "Roosevelt Oval Office" and click on images all 3 come up on the first two pages...of course if I'm lucky I just set a link to the first one!

Needless to say, I have own thoughts about the "sour grapes" being thrown on Captol Hill right now and by those sent packing last it someone trying to play a trump "Card" in their complaint about "the dignity of the office" being compromised by someone actually working for the people there, or the ones being tossed by the war criminal formerly known as VP!

I've heard Senators this week claim that creating jobs in the National Parks doesn't help our economy...excuse me, but if someone is getting a paycheck that wasn't getting one before, they are spending money they didn't have you really think we are so stupid?

Basically, I think those who are decrying the spending are actually decrying the drop in their campaign coffers they foresee if their friends on Wall Street and in that top 1% of the income bracket have to pay their fair share of anything...

Sorry...I know many of you are "politicked out" at this point, or just plain "ticked". Forgive the rant...

May the weekend be kind to each of you!


Postscript: 6:44pm...truck is handwashed and thanks to my son and grandson has a fresh coat of Meguiar's Paste Tech Wax on it, along with tire dressing, Rain-X and that new State Park sticker we picked up last week! C'mon spring!!!


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Glory Days!

Appropriate title given the evening's halftime entertainment...

Yet for me, the memories that surface today are of a different time...memories of childhood...

At the point of ancience I'm approaching, I remember the celebration of our new found fame as a football town when Lamar Hunt brought the Dallas Texans to Kansas City and renamed them the Chiefs. I remember weekends when everything led up to the game on Sunday and that was the most important place on Earth to be, in front of the TV. I remember Dad putting the largest TV aerial I'd ever seen in our attic with a rotater so he could pull the Topeka stations to watch the games if they were "blacked-out".

I remember watching #16 and his team give their all every week, win or lose in a struggle that seemed impossible at times!

Len Dawson...

From the Pro-Football Hall of Fame's website:

"Although Len Dawson ranks among the elite forward passers of all time with an 82.56 rating compiled over 19 seasons of pro play, he is perhaps best remembered for his courageous performance in leading the Chiefs to a 23-7 upset of the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. Dawson connected on 12 of 17 passes for 142 yards in the now-historic game, and his 46-yard pass completion to Otis Taylor wrapped up the surprise victory that evened the AFL-NFL portion of the Super Bowl series at two wins each. Dawson was named the game's Most Valuable Player."

I've heard Len speak on more than one occasion of that being the era where you played the game because you loved it, not because you could make a living at it. Bobby Bell, Hall of Fame defensive player in his own right, was a line foreman in the General Motors plant I hired into in the "off season". Len signed on as a sportscaster with the local ABC affiliate to make ends meet. I remember watching the sports report on the evening news while he broadcast with his hair still wet from the locker room shower.

He is still there! All through the years, this gentleman (and I mean that sincerely) has been there, a link from my chidhood to my present. Always involved in the community, in causes, I remember him starting a celebrity Pro-Am golf tournament as a fund raiser for a local children's hospital. Though it's since been taken over by a pro-golfer who can bring in the "big names" when Len brought Alan Hale, Jr. to town (you might know him as "The Skipper" from "Gilligan's Island") that was a huge deal...

This week they've been doing a series of interviews with him concerning the Chiefs and their "glory days" in the lead up to the game that starts in a few hours.

I'm putting two links here, one to a piece with him going through an NFL history of "the big game" (another Lamar Hunt dream, along with the AFL in the beginning, major league soccer and so many other things he had his hands in. It was Lamar that named it "The Superbowl".) and the second to him speaking of his fellow players.

1st video...

2nd video...

(Sorry about the Brinks commercials...especially since my younger son works for ADT!)

There are some other videos from these interviews on their website if any of you are interested. The one I was hoping to find was the one they showed with footage of Len playing, clear back to his Purdue days...All-American 3 years out of 4. It's not there. I don't know whether they couldn't get the rights to share it, or someone just forgot to post it.

Somehow, as I watch tonight, I'll be remembering all of these guys and the days when it was "more than just a game".

May the rest of the weekend be kind and may Monday be even more so!