Monday, March 30, 2015

Looking for spring and another story

The park calls this "Brier Rose Farm,"
another euphemism for property they did not need to purchase,
have no use for
and have no money to maintain. 

However, the postman is quite happy it is a trail head with facility.

Looking out over the hills.
Today was beautiful, but cold.

Tree trunks.
I like them.

Kendall Lake, in the park.

Several years ago it had to be drained.
It became too silted in and shallow for the volume of water it handles,
And would be dredged.

When it was empty, Oh, the stench!

It was properly cordoned off, warning signs posted. 
The drive to the parking area is locked every night.
In short, if you could read and think, all would be well.

Two young women were visiting. 
One said "Oh, I lost my ring in this lake years ago,"
and went out to look for it.
Into the stinking muck.
It held her fast.
It rose to her armpits before the level stabilized.

Her friend called for help, 
and our EMT's showed up.

They laid all the plywood available at the local lumber yard on the mud's surface,
and crawled out to her as if it were an ice rescue.
She was so stuck they could not lift her.
In the end they secured a harness under her armpits, which were below the surface,
as were her arms.

They used a crane, on hand from the dredging operation,
to begin lifting her.
The entire rescue took about eight hours.

Paid for entirely, as I've mentioned from time to time,
by the fewer than seven hundred citizens of the township, 
many of whom are children.
Allowances are not taxable.

Friday, March 27, 2015

It's not spring until the last snowflake falls

As I traveled down into the valley to work this morning,
snow was falling.

Falling on top of the valley, too,
when I came home.
Caroline and Laura.

We were given assurances of safety equipment
when packing up to visit happened.

Laura has roller blades, of course.
Caroline has an articulated two wheel thing.
Remember I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate?
That's the locomotion for Caroline's board.

Snow on the pig.
Snow on the toad.
It's not spring, yet.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Clean windows and metaphores

When I came home Tuesday from work it sparkled in the house, and all from clean windows. I hoped Emily and Laura could follow up this morning having a go at all the oak leaves embedded in the pampas grass, out in the big flower garden. 

I found Emily at the front window this morning, wondering if they should make a start on the little triangle garden, too. "But it's raining," I protested. "I know," she said. I can only think they trained her well at the ski run. I gave them the morning off.

We headed off to Aunt Beth's for lunch, to swap Emily for Caroline. Emily can help Aunt Beth at the restaurant, and Caroline and Laura can do whatever two little girls do on school holiday.

Emily, Caroline, Laura and Francis.
Laura is two weeks older than France,
who is taller than I am.
I don't ask any more; he's tired of hearing it.
He's probably in the 5'7 or 8" range.

Just for fun, 2004.
Rebekah and Hamilton,
Emily, Kaitlin (my great niece),
Caroline being restrained, and Laura.

Hamilton, Rebekah, Emily
Laura, Francis, Caroline

Just to get one more, I said "Be as silly as you want."
Francis left. He is 13, you know.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Winter of discontent

With apologies to Steinbeck and Shakespeare and Richard III…

The road super asked for more pictures on the township website.  I checked to see the last time I posted there and it was that sunrise early in January, when I first began taking Emily to work at the ski run. Home from work today, I took the camera and went out for at minimum a crocus. It is cold, there is no sunshine, and their little faces are wrapped up tight. A metaphor for this winter.

Emily and Laura are on spring break this week. They have no special activities planned until the last half of the week, so I laid out the chores. Housecleaning has been very light this winter, with Emily gone every weekend, so a “deep clean” seemed in order. I came home and immediately saw everything that has irritated me all winter. Dusty baseboards and registers. A door not opened to clean the floor under and on the other side.  Channeling my grandmother who cleaned the cut work on the back of her dining room chairs with a cloth wrapped around a butter knife, I took two young women on a walk through and point out. None of us felt any better for it.

Beautiful weather is forecast for tomorrow; I will take my camera to work to take advantage of the sun before that new storm comes in on Wednesday. If nothing else, the road super’s smiling face may show up on the web page. Or my granddaughters vacuuming the entire basement! 

January 10, 2015

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Note to self and ski report

Laura and I spent the morning removing piles of bird seed hulls,
oak leaves, and last year's detritus.

 There was something very hard, like a rock, under one pile of hulls.
It was a big block of ice.
The succulent pot looks good, and all the mosses are filling in.

But next year we will take the leaf blower to the leaves in the fall!

It was Winter Festival at the ski jump.
The pink bunny made it so.

This is the slosh pit.
All those celebrants are waiting their turn
To ski through that large pool of water.

 Last day--tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

If I pay taxes, everyone pays taxes!

My township has two JEDD’s, Joint Economic Development Districts. “Joint” means shared, “Economic” means producing income, “Development” means growing said income and “District” means the place it all happens.

The first JEDD went into effect about the same time I became the township clerk, and the “Joint” partner and I got the district up and running. That was 2006, light years ago. I know a couple of things about getting a JEDD off the ground.

One business owner of rental storage units let me make a sweep of the units to see who might be using them in business. I showed him some local advertising that make me suspicious. “Go right ahead,” he said. “If I pay taxes, everyone pays taxes!”

January first of last year our second JEDD went into place. This district essentially covers the rest of the township not in the first district. There are nine businesses in this district. One is the county yard, one is the ski run, one is the park and the last six are 501c3’s associated with the park. When I pulled their 940’s and saw the amount of payroll, I was stunned.

My township is financially strangled by the national park. We aren't the only township in the country with this problem, but I am charged with helping keep this township financially able to pay for snow plowing, police, emergency services, so I take the matter personally. Because of the national park and some local parks, 92% of the township’s taxable real estate is off the tax rolls.

This means that township residents pay to repair roads that millions of park visitors drive on annually. We pay to rescue people lost and hurt in the park. We pay to plow the roads park employees drive on to go to work. We even pay to send their children to school. The park does not pay. There are fewer than seven hundred of us left in the township, and, as I like to say, a lot of us are children.

When I realized from the 940’s, which are filed by tax exempt organizations, how many six figure salaries it takes to run these operations, I suggested to the township trustees we should figure out how to structure a new JEDD to collect income taxes to partially offset the cost of having them around. We got the job done and that JEDD went into effect on January 1st of last year.

I talked to the Human Resources people at each of the nine employers, explaining the JEDD requirements. It was an easy start up. The employees already pay residence taxes; the new tax washes as reciprocity. Eight made the change with no problem. Who has obfuscated the past year away? The national park, of course.

Federal law permits federal employees who work in areas under, I think, 20,000 population, to elect not to have local taxes withheld from their pay. This sounds wonderful, until the awful realization: taxes  must be paid. In fact, all local taxes must be paid to our taxing authority by January 10th, if there is no payroll withholding.

The park’s solution was to remind employees that taxes are their personal responsibility. Eventually I got the park to distribute withholding authorizations. Less than 20% of these were processed, although more seem to have turned them in.

Now, of course, it’s time to pay the piper the taxes. Park officials tell me it will be better next year, they are signing up new employees for withholding. After I hung up and quit banging my head on the desk I filed a Freedom of Information request for the names, addresses and W2 pay of all park employees in that JEDD in 2014, for submission to the tax collector.

Then I wrote two short articles for our local newspaper. One explains to park employees how to bypass the park and go directly to the payroll service to have local taxes withheld. The other explains how to file and pay local taxes.

It saddens me that some people may pay interest and penalties because their employer is a horse’s ass. Perhaps, as one trustee suggests, employees should have been more responsible. But, if I pay taxes, everyone pays taxes.

 Sent from the phone of my BFF,
somewhere overlooking the Caribbean.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

For St. Patrick's Day, my dad and his siblings

I did not know I was Irish until I was in college and someone identified my last name. My father was proud of neither his family nor his heritage. Abandoned by their father; neither his mother or her family able to support five more children, he and his siblings had a hardscrabble existence. 

Aunt Laura, the oldest girl, remembered the Akron Children's Home as a nice place, with all the books she could read and her only taste of birthday cake. My dad and my Uncle Bill, the oldest, didn't do well in the Children's Home. My dad turned 17 on August 28th, and by the next weekend was in the army.

Uncle Bill was sent to Orient State School, a mental institution, where he remained until my parents sprung him and took him in in the sixties. He was presumed mentally retarded, a good catch-all for institutionalization. Over his many years at Orient he taught himself to read, and read "to all the boys." When he died his collection of books was enormous. He had every Zane Grey ever published.

The two youngest, Aunt Ruth and Aunt Helen Rita, were eventually taken in by relatives. Aunt Ruth by an aunt, Aunt Helen Rita by her grandmother.  Aunt Ruth was trained to and became a nun, Aunt Laura was trained be a secretary. She met her husband in the course of her job and married. Aunt Helen Rita just eloped one day. All the marriages were long and happy.

Here are pictures  of them I've put together from several sources.

Dad and his little brother, Uncle Bill.
About 1911.

Dad at his wedding, 1942.

Dad and his beret, in the sixties.

Dad in the mid seventies.

Uncle Bill in the fifties. So few pictures of him.

Aunt Laura, aged 16.
The oldest of the three girls.

Aunt Laura in her fifties.

Aunt Laura at 72. 
She was the snappy, fun loving aunt.

My Aunt Ruth, in the sixties.
When her order adopted the less formal habit Aunt Ruth went for it.
She even dyed her hair so her students would not know it was pure white under there.

Aunt Helen Rita, the youngest sister.
She was quiet, demure, meek.

Aunt Helen Rita in her seventies.

The three sisters in the twenties.
Aunt Ruth, left, Aunt Helen Rita center, Aunt Laura right.

Three of the siblings at my sister's wedding, late eighties.
Standing, me (the bridesmaid)
My cousin Pat, who actually is my dad's cousin and another abandoned child of his Irish clan.
Next Aunt Helen Rita, by her daughter Elaine.
Next, Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bill.
Seated, my cousin Marge, Aunt Helen Rita's other daughter,
and her husband Tom.  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Snow bet on skiing next weekend

I was so intent on taking a picture of skiing in mud
I missed Emily going to the car!

The snow is going, going.
There is one large mud patch on the north slope,
for "advanced" skiers. 

And back at home,
Here is the bed of daffs and tulips.

The wooly thyme seems pleased to be out from under snow,
and that fat bulb probably is a colchium. 

No more garden until we clean it up.
This week I'll tell you about going toe to toe with the Park.
I don't know who will blink first.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The usual this morning, the 7 a.m. alarm to take the intrepid ski lift monitor to work by eight.
But we checked the ski slope web page and
they are closed today due to rain.
Open tomorrow, though.
We'll see.
View down my road.

 Fog in my yard.
Look at the seed hulls we'll be cleaning out soon.
Not today, it's raining.

Probably a downy woodpecker.
Hard to distinguish between downy and hairy, but this one seems small enough to be a downy.
Not too small to contribute to the big mess under the feeder!

Laura's garden art, collecting fog drops.

But one bulb is up, in front of the pinks, which look pretty good, too.

So much to clean up.
When the rain stops.

The view last August.
Stay tuned.

Monday, March 9, 2015

How do I know it's spring?

I've been busy at the loom. 
I took off twelve or so yards of sapphire woven on the sapphire warp.
Here it is, ready to go down to the washer and dryer.
And here is my cat, Toby, who considers himself essential.
And there behind him is Helen, my essential and unassuming model.
Suddenly I heard her say "I wish I had a pair of basic jeans. Like the ones the pretty girls in the Land's End catalog wear."
How can I deny her?

I stopped at Village Thrift, in Cuyahoga Falls.
A very large second hand clothing store.
I was blinded by the racks of spring pastels.
I felt like I had entered a cattle chute.
Where were the basic jeans?
Perhaps somewhere in the store,
but I was already sneezing from the fumes of the dry cleaning solution.
I stumbled to a rack of summer shorts and picked a pair for Helen.
She wears them well, even as a mono-ped.

We all are enjoying the saga of the ski run managed by millenials, I know, 
so here is another mini chapter.
Emily threw herself into the car Sunday, slammed the door,
snatched at the seat belt and said
"I hope ALL their snow melts!"

Millenials as they are, these youngsters have pretty much sorted themselves over the season.
Sunday someone from "upper management" showed up, and began assigning them to lifts.
"But we pick our own!"
Didn't fly on Sunday.
Emily was assigned to the north slope lift, the one limited to experienced skiers.
"They aren't nice!" (The skiers)
"When I say 'Good Morning' they grunt or snarl.
"When I ask them to fill the seat, to keep the line moving, they say they're going alone!"
I guess the cheerful little earfull is much happier with young families.

There probably is a two foot base on the runs.
In spite of fifty degree weather,
There will be skiing next weekend.
Hopefully "upper management" won't show up.

Pig and toad, surveying our 18" base.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Chutzpah and sleep ahead

It’s been a long day with a camera with no pictures. My itinerary was to take Emily to work, return home for breakfast (for although I say I get up to eat breakfast, seven a.m. is not breakfast time!), back to the village to mail parcels, up the hill to the turnpike to go visit Linda, return for Emily and make a stop at the Peninsula Art Institute—all before supper.

I had a picture in mind from yesterday. Perhaps there was sunshine yesterday.  A line of deer prints across the ice on the little lake are turning into large circles as the temperatures rise. They were like large crystal pearls yesterday. This morning, at 7:45, they were less remarkable.

As we drove to work I reminded Emily this is spring ahead weekend. “I know,” she responded. “I’ll be so happy for an extra hour of sleep.” “It’s spring ahead, not sleep ahead!” After a pause she said she’d probably call me from college in two years for another explanation.

I had lunch at Linda’s, greens and beans—nothing finer—and came home in time to take a container of pearl cotton to the Art Institute to see if I could trade the director for some 8/2 cotton, as Linda and I won’t be going to Sheldon’s for a month.

Weekend Peninsula is a pure pain in the patoot. I circled twice looking for a reasonable parking place, and the phone rang. “Gramma, I’m off.” Two-thirty. Be still my heart. I went up the hill and back down to the ski slopes, to get the lift attendant I had delivered at 7:30.

“Light day?” I asked, although the slopes were packed. In fact, no. She had not been relieved for her lunch break until 2:30. As she came in from the slopes she passed Austin, and told him she would be eating her lunch at home.

On the way back we discussed management by college students. She is not impressed. I have the feeling she will plow snow for the garden center next year before she will work the slopes. She does agree it was a “real job” and worth the experience, and after I pick her up on March 21st the ski pants can go right into the goodwill bag.

Back to the Art Institute and a parking place right in front of the door. Carol, the director, had nothing I could trade for, so I left several pounds of pearl cotton as a donation. Her weaving students were on that table of goodies like the well known duck on a June bug as Emily and I headed for home. All in all a satisfactory day, although there will be no more lime green thread until we go to Hendersonville in April.