Sunday, July 24, 2011

I've gone West, y'all

....on the crazy-ass bike ride across the state of Iowa known as RAGBRAI. Please note that I will be without a computer, so if you hear of someone spontaneously combusting somewhere near Altoona, IA, well, that would be me.

Courage. I will report back when able.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My beloved country roads

Here, why my country roads are the best place ever:

  1. The beauty of nature – Sometimes it’s no wonder it takes me so damn long to get anywhere on my bike. Because I look over and see two blue herons in a cornfield, and stop to observe how graceful they are. Then I hear the piercing cry of a hawk - yep, stop there too. I also go in little circles so that I can get closer to hawks as they fly around. The baby cows all look up at me in unison as I go past them. It’s all so serene, peaceful, gorgeous……I’m not a particularly religious person, but sometimes I swear God is in them there cornfields. Plus there are the occasional oddities, like….

  1. Camels. I’m biking along on yet another hot morning, and see a tractor coming towards me, slowly, with horse clopping along behind it. The girl driving it and I wave to each other as they pass, and I look over at the horses…..wait, not horses. Camels?? Yes, camels. And no, I haven’t been drinking while riding.

  1. Crystal Lake Ski & Bike. I recommend to all of you that you get the clips on your shoes changed before they get to the point where they’re little nubbins and to clip in at all requires contortions of epic proportions. Because then one day in desperation you’ll try to put new clips on yourself, and will wind up cursing and screaming at said shoes when the screws won’t come out, and so you jury-rig the shoe in such a way that you hope it holds. Which it doesn’t, as the clip comes off and remains wedged in your pedal as you’re grinding up a hill, and the jury-rigged screw you used is digging into your foot. All while you’re out in the boondocks. Oops. So I head into CLS&B with my sad little shoes, plunk them down on the counter, and with the most pathetic face I can muster, say “help me!” The people at this fine store spring into action! Whereupon they discover that the one screw is stripped, so we all duck as they’re trying to pry that one out, and the other ones need special screws, but somehow in a joint effort they manage to get the old clips off and the new ones on (that I came in with) and victory is declared! I’m so happy that I pronounce them all my favorite people in the entire world – and this is even before they tell me they’re not charging me for any of this, which took quite a while. I love this place.

  1. Apple. As with the bike shoes, I go into the Apple store, iPod in hand, and when they ask what’s wrong, I inform them that “we have a national tragedy on our hands.” Please note how I used the term “we,” to make sure they feel as invested in this as I am and to ensure that they work with me to come up with a resolution. Yes, it seems my trusty iPod, which has been with me everywhere for years, is no longer holding a charge. They go to check it out, and I set about my usual task, that of calling up my blog on all the computers. Hey, they wouldn’t have computers sitting out if they didn’t want me to do this, right? Anyway, it turns out my iPod’s battery is kaput, so we mourn together, and then I buy an iPod Nano, notably in a different color from the one I got my mom. Because hers now has 95% Ukrainian music and 5% Celtic Woman on it, and should our iPods get switched, I’m not sure whose head would explode first.

  1. The kindness of strangers. Did I mention that I decided to start Ramping Up during a week of record heat and humidity? I think I did. Which is why I kept finding myself in the countryside with no water, because it was just that damn hot. One day I stopped at a garden center, where the nice woman gave me a diet Pepsi for free, as that was all they had. Another day I stopped at a farmhouse, where the nice man apologized profusely for water that’s “not very good, it’s well water” etc. – to which I told him it was the best water I’d ever had. Because it was.

Then there was the day I was riding past a farm and looking intently at the berry bushes in front, trying to figure out what they were. At the same time I see the sign about the organic raspberry farm, I also see a man waving his arms frantically, much as someone who’s shipwrecked on an island would do. Could Timmy be in the well and the barn on fire? I pull into the driveway and stop.

Him: Are you okay? Do you need some water? It’s hot!

Turns out his name is Mike, and he and his wife Ann own this adorable farm, Grace Farm, which not only has pick your own raspberries, but quilting classes, gorgeous quilting materials for sale, and all sorts of other neat things. After piling raspberries and water on me, Mike sends me off, telling me if it gets too hot and I get stuck, to call him and he’ll come get me. Salt of the earth, these people.

  1. The gas station in Harvard, IL. On my rides at least I get to the point of no return – where I’ve gone far enough such that I need water to get back, even though it’s really too hot to ride further, but if I turn around now I’ll expire in a cornfield. So that was me, knowing that the town of Harvard was somewhere up ahead, many turns later, but not sure exactly how many miles later. When I finally got here, 28 miles in and my turnaround point on a 98 degree day, it was like arriving at Mecca.

  1. The drivers. Yes, there’s the occasional Garbage Truck From Hell, but overall? I’d say 95% of the cars, trucks, etc. give me a very wide berth, plenty of space. And while I confess that I get a wee bit annoyed by signs telling drivers to “start seeing motorcycles,” because when I’m driving the vast majority of motorcyclists are weaving in and out of traffic, speeding at 100+mph, and how the hell am I supposed to see a speeding weaving fool? This is not true though for the guys on Harleys. I see a lot of them while riding, and to a one, they are always riding responsibly, at the speed limit, being good driving citizens. They totally rock.

  1. My awesome friends. I love how no matter what kind of bullshit I come up with – true though it always is – they have an amazing ability to humor me. For example, after I had gone on a long ride on an insanely hot day, I found myself driving past the Sun City golf course, where people were actually golfing! WTH? My first thought – “What kind of idiots would be golfing on a day like today? It’s insanely hot!” I post this on Facebook, and my Alert Friends respond appropriately:

Jennifer: You would be pot or kettle?

Shannon, after I tell her that the golfers are more crazy than the cyclists, right?: "Oh...Of COURSE not as nutty as the golfers *mumbling-who walk at a snail's pace or ride around in a golf cart*."

And when I seethe with rage about the ZUCCHINI THIEVES who are plundering my garden, and issue a call to arms, the support is immediate:

Bridget: Here's what we need: about 75 feet of concertina wire, stakes, two or three claymores, maybe a bouncing Betty or two, noisemakers, fishing line, and a large burlap sack. Or just the sack and we can capture the thief alive to teach others.

Cori: Are you riding across Iowa to find somewhere to bury the body of the zucchini thief?

Kim: Definitely capture alive, punishment should be flogging through the streets of Skokie then and cut off his hand and put that on a stake in the garden to show others what their destiny would be if they too are a thief. Let the perpetrator live so that he can tell others to avoid the patty pan lot.

You can see why I have the friends I do.

  1. My mom. My poor mom. She’s not too happy that Kona and I basically camp out at her place so I can go riding – as we leave her place a shambles, I putter around in the kitchen making my coffee at 5AM, Kona goes to wake her up also at 5AM in the belief that if he’s up, everyone should be up, etc. She likes her peace and quiet, and the orderliness of her house. The Kone and I, we ain’t all that orderly. Yet she puts up with us, worrying, picking me up when I have a bike malfunction that I can’t fix because I was a dumbass that one day and didn’t bring my tire changing stuff. So, thanks mom. And it was very cute how today she pressed some money upon me, telling me “here’s some spending money for your trip!” Love it.

All in all, I’d definitely say the positives outweigh the negatives – I can only hope the same will be true for this RAGBRAI madness, though I’m sure it will. And rest assured, I will be sure to adhere to my guiding principle, of “doing the stupid things, so you don’t have to.”

Country roads, fraught with peril

Being the finely honed athlete that I am, I knew that RAGBRAI (aka the crazy-ass bike ride across the state of Iowa) wouldn’t be much of a challenge, and so I determined to step things up a bit. This means that I sat on my lazy ass for months, didn’t go near my bike, and pretty much ate bonbons all day.

Until about 2 weeks ago. When my finely-tuned Ramping Up process began, as The Kone and I moved into my mom’s abode in Huntley and began riding every day. Well, at least I did. HRH basked in air-conditioned splendor, as is befitting his station.

Now, I had no idea that I’d be Ramping Up during the biggest heat/humidity wave to hit the Midwest in 99 years. Nope, that part was a surprise. A pleasant one, to be sure! What doesn’t kill you makes you more surly and bitter, I always say.

The image of riding on country roads conjures up some bucolic scenes, cornfields, cows, one with nature, etc. And yet. I’ve discovered just how dangerous this pastoral scene can be, and here I’ve compiled a list of the inherent dangers so that you too can be alert as well, should you decide to go riding in the country and thus take your life into your own hands.

  1. Garbage trucks – There I was toodling along when suddenly a garbage truck went zooming by so closely he almost took out an elbow. This is especially irksome when riding in the country on a straightaway when it’s clear there are NO OTHER CARS coming from the opposite direction. But as a friend noted – at least it wasn’t a bus.
  2. Crazed birds. Again, toodling along, when I hear the Skittering Cry of Death somewhere above me. Of course, I do what any other normal person would do: I slow down, almost stopping, and start looking up. Lo, there’s a red-winged blackbird! Why, I’ve heard of them attacking cyclists but have never witnessed it – how exciting! I feel like Margaret Mead, studying the subculture of a species that….ow! Hey! No dive-bombing! I zip on ahead.
  3. Dogs. Okay, so, knock on wood, I’ve never been attacked by a dog – generally they just want to run alongside my bike and have some fun. I either sprint to make it a race, look at them incredulously (in the case of a stubby little corgi), chastise them (in the case of a Dobe: “hey, I rescue you guys!” – as he slunk off), or hold out a leg for them to chew on if I’m really REALLY tired. So I don’t mind the chase. What I DO mind is when people have their dogs loose and they live on a relatively BUSY ROAD, and said dogs go running across that road to chase me. In this case I managed to shoo them on home without incident, but I’d be REALLY pissed if a dog got hit because he wanted to have some fun chasing me on my bike. So cut that shit out, people.
  4. Being cropdusted. So I'm looking at a little plane flying overhead, and thinking wow, that's getting lower....and closer.....and lower......*cough* *cough*. Well, I've gotten enough doses of radiation to choke a horse - what harm can some toxic chemicals do anyway?
  5. Quaint country cafes that are closed on weekends. To this I can only say: WTF? Is this even legal?? Town of Garden Prairie, I may have to rethink putting you on the list of Towns that Do Not Suck.
  6. Dehydration. Okay, okay, so going for long rides when it’s 98 degrees and 95% humidity might not be the best laid of plans. And yes, it’s kind of hard to take enough water with you when your closest potential spot for water is about 28 miles away. Still, if more cafes were open…..! I slump over my bike when I stop, and think fondly of France, where there are water fountains/troughs often enough such that you’ll never get thirsty. And if you do, why, there’s water trickling down from a mountain stream! Rough life they have over there. Sigh.

With all this, one might wonder, why ride in the country at all? It’s basically like Armageddon out there, no? In some ways, but there are also benefits as well.

(to be continued)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cori's Rack Conquers Canada

In a shameless bit of pandering to my vast Canadian readership (hello Alert Readers George and D!), I present to you our very own CancerChick Cori, taking Canada by storm, one Timbit at a time:

The close-up truly shows how the lone Timbit is quaking in the face of the Globes of Glory, as we call them, realizing that it's perhaps not quite worthy, in spite of being a bit of donutty goodness.

That loud wailing sound you all hear right now is all of Canada gnashing its collective teeth (the few that are left - everyone does play hockey, you know), because Cori's Rack has left the building. Sorry Canada - this national treasure is all ours.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

This means war

Normally, I’m a mild-mannered, some would say meek, person. This is what I’m known for. But there are certain things in my life that people do NOT mess with, at risk of sudden and painful death. Theirs, not mine. These things are patently obvious. The Kone. My bike. And, of course, the garden.

Ah, what can I say about the garden that I haven’t said before? How about this – that it is a huge honking pain in the ass. Really. Gardening is tough, brutal, back-breaking work. It’s expensive. I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on my garden. And even though I have vague hopes of selling some heirloom tomatoes to restaurants, say, in August, this is definitely not a money-making venture.

But I love gardening. With a passion. It makes me happy, puttering around, digging, even weeding. There’s something very tranquil and soothing about the whole thing, being one with nature and all that crap. But I could certainly never be a farmer, because it’s all just too anxiety-inducing, with too many things to worry about. The weather! Hail! Locusts! I read recently that farmers are having a bumper year, and while normally I seethe with jealousy at other peoples’ good fortune, here I think, you go farmers!

Plus in addition to the natural elements, one has to worry about the scourges of society known as garden thieves. Yes, thieves. Much to my dismay, when I was out at the garden last week, I noticed that someone had stolen a zucchini. A zucchini of all things! Need I remind people that these are the erstwhile Rodney Dangerfields of the garden?? So I was puzzled, and yet, figured that perhaps this was a crime of opportunity, if not passion, by someone with an unnatural fondness for large, tasteless vegetables. I passed it off as a fluke.

Until. I went back to the garden Sunday, to weed and water in 98 degree heat and humidity (yes, there are those hours of back-breaking work again), and discovered – MORE zucchini gone! This time, many! J’accuse!

This, I thought, will not stand.

Because if someone is craven and baseless and degenerate enough to steal zucchini, then what’s going to happen when the heirloom tomato crop starts coming in? Or, dare I say it, the pattypan squash? Will this cretin be able to resist those bright yellow harbingers of hope and change? Hell no. Do I really begrudge someone a few squash? Damn right I do.

I don’t know where anyone might have gotten the idea that I’m some kind of Lady Bountiful, planting everything for the good of mankind or random garden marauders. This is so not the case – I am a mean, bitter, selfish person, and don’t you all forget it. Okay, so I might tell my fellow tomato aficionados at the garden to go ahead and try some of the different varieties, and sure I give tomatoes to friends, and yes, I do plant cherry tomatoes along the perimeter of the garden as a snack for my fellow gardeners – but those are the only concessions I make to pretending that I am not in fact the mean and selfish person that I naturally am.

So yes, that means that the zucchini may be large tasteless vegetables, but they’re MY large tasteless vegetables, dammit. That I’ve nurtured from seed and grown for months, fretting over them and coddling them and……okay, that’s a lie. Zucchini are pretty easy to grow – but that’s all the more reason for people to grow their own. Even an idiot could grow them, unlike, say, the pattypans, that require the skill of an artisan such as myself.

But I digress. Clearly, to nip this trend in the bud, I need a foolproof plan. Oh sure, all the usual things immediately came to

mind: land mines, insisting the Skokie police put a 24-hour guard on duty (hey, it’s the suburbs – what else do they have to do?), motion-activated klieg lights with sirens, etc. Sniper fire. Alert Friend and Reader Bridget has offered to take up this particular gauntlet, and this woman has the military cred, so I’m confident she’d do a good job. Barbed wire. Steel traps.

Then I realized: all of the above.

My mission is clear now. Society must be made safe for the hard-working gardeners of the world, who deserve to pick the fruits of their own labor. This one Thieving Zucchini Bastard can serve as a lesson to the other wanna-be garden thieves out there.

I will report back.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The long national nightmare is over

Last night

I’m done. I concede defeat. I’ve managed to put together all my documents from 2009, the ones I can find, but for 2006? Forget it. Oh, I’m sure they’re somewhere, amidst stacks of papers, but I don’t even know where to start. And IRSLady Yvette is coming by at 10AM to collect what I have, so, I don’t think I’ll find the motherlode of documents before then. I’m just going to let the chips fall where they may.

This morning

You know you’ve been hanging out with the IRS too much when they know your lingo. My pal Yvette shows up this morning at the appointed time, and of course, as soon as she walks in, Kona wants to say hi.

Me: Kona, no jumpies!

Yvette: No jumpies! Good boy, no jumpies!

So we sit down, and I break the news to Yvette, that I have a bunch of stuff for 2009, but gave up on 2006, since it’s just too damn long ago. Amazingly enough, she’s sympathetic.

Yvette: Yeah, it can be hard to keep track of stuff from so long ago.

Me: Exactly – I mean, I’m sure it’s all somewhere, but I just can’t spend that much time looking.

She looks over what I give her for 2009, and then, lo and behold, pulls out her own documents – turns out she’s basically extrapolated from what I’ve already given her for 2008 to 2006/2009, and has come up with what I owe. We start looking at her doc, and she explains it all, but I of course just beeline to the bottom line, the total for all 3 years. Which I tot up in my head, and when I do, the voice of George Bailey sounds in my head.

“You wouldn’t happen to have 7 thousand bucks on you, would ya?”

Yep, somehow even though I make no money and am po,’ with penalties and interest I owe the IRS $7K. Shit. Yvette is still talking.

Yvette: So you can either sign this that you agree, or you can refute it and come up with other documents and receipts to substantiate your claims and oh, oh! No no, doggy!

Yes, as usual Kona has decided he loves Yvette, or at least is beseeching her to not put too much of a dent in his pig ear funds, and has placed his head on her lap. At least he’s not plunking his marrow bone there too, like he did last time. Thank god for small favors!

Basically, what’s becoming clear is that if the IRS chooses you for an audit, you have to substantiate everything to a ridiculous degree. Receipts alone (which I have) aren’t enough – you need stuff like emails to prove that a business dinner was a business dinner, for example. While they weren’t silly enough to contest any of the medical stuff, they’re disallowing a bunch of other things because, apparently, they just don’t believe me. Hmm. So even though I still have negative income even after these changes, I have less negative income, so I owe self-employment taxes on my lower negative income.

My head then spins off its moorings and goes flying across the room, as I dash up to get it, and Kona goes back to putting his head in Yvette’s lap.

$7K. I run through the cost-benefit analysis in my head. Sure, I could spend shitloads more time coming up with more receipts and proof, though Yvette would probably only accept part of it, so the savings would be minimal. I think of Cori, who has literally had the IRS agent show up at her door at random times, to collect papers. I think of the fact that if I contest this, it could be opening up a can of worms, that then they might decide to look at other years, which I know are on the up-and-up, but damned if I know where all the receipts and such are. I think of what a huge headache all this has been, how many sleepless nights, how much anxiety.

I think of the fact that I’m Schleprock, she of the perpetual black stormcloud.

I think all of this within the span of about 5 seconds, and come to a decision.

Me: Okay, so where do I sign?

We chit-chat for a while longer, me and Yvette. On the need to keep good records for everything, on my

cancer status, on her former career as an EMT. We’ve bonded. It’s a beautiful thing. She leaves, and I immediately head to Facebook to inform everyone of the verdict, as I’m sure they’re waiting anxiously. And once I do, my friends come back with helpful suggestions regarding my request for a high-paying job. To wit:

  • Sign up with an escort service. This could work, though I’m still waiting to hear if there’s a company that specializes in fat surly women with a very bitterly sarcastic sense of humor. Jennifer suggested finding a niche for escorts with inflatable boobages. Maybe?
  • Set up a TomatoCam or PattypanSquashCam. Pay per click? Surely I’d be rich in no time.
  • Merwyn suggested a survey or sweepstakes site. As he notes, “The last two have earned me a whopping 5 or 6 bucks over the past few months, and Tammy even won $30 off of Publishers Clearinghouse.”
  • Mark B.’s suggestion, which I kind of like: “You could always go John Galt and found a town in Colorado the IRS can't see with their satellites and spy planes.”
  • Motya had a brilliant idea, and then yanked it away: “dog dietician and fitness trainer? (see my status re: beulah on a diet) um, no.. you'd suck at that. i see how you indulge that konie. ;-)”
  • And finally, Amy W. had what I thought was the most promising idea: “I think you need to get hooked up as the spokesperson for the pattypan squash industry.” Though as of this writing she was researching this, and had gotten to page 6 on Google with nothing yet about a pattypan squash industry, just recipes and Farmville growing tips. Clearly, the pattypans need my help.

Later I call my mom as I’m headed out to her place, and of course, she too wants to know the scoop.

Me: $7K

Mom: Gasp!

Me: No no, it’s a good thing! It’s fine!

I run through my whole cost-benefit analysis, and conclude “….so you see, with my bad luck, this isn’t that bad of an outcome.

“But you must be so stressed and worried – let’s go out to dinner tonight!”

“Oh, I’m so not stressed,” I note. “Heck, it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – I couldn’t be happier. Whee! Drinks tonight to celebrate!”

Yes folks, it’s true. In TashaWorld, this is a good outcome. And not that I ever get all Pollyanish about anything, but in this case, rather than being pissed off about the fact that I shouldn’t owe them anything, and thinking dark thoughts about all the corporations that pay absolutely nothing in taxes while they’re soaking the little people…….I’ve decided to not focus on all that, and instead just think……it could have been worse. Yes. So be it.

I call Cori too, immediately, and she also celebrates with me, recognizing the joy inherent in not having an IRS cloud hanging over your head.

So what have we learned from all this? Basically, two things:

  1. Don’t be the kind of dumbass who keeps bad records, or at least bad for the IRS’s purposes. Document everything, to the point of being annoying. Keep records forever; never throw anything away. Ever. Even if the Hoarders people show up at your door – throw yourself over your stacks of papers and make them drag you out to the dumpster along with the documents. Trust me on this.
  2. Have a blog that’s sweeping the nation, so that you too have an excellent friend like my own Alert Reader George from Canada. Who, way back when, sent that indignant email to my congressmen, one of whom actually followed up with the IRS. They then sent a letter detailing why they were (ahem) harassing me, so I could self-righteously rail about the fact that yes indeed, the high medical expenses and such were a big part of what triggered this! Plus, the IRS letter ended with a point about how they’d work with me to figure this out, cognizant of the whole cancer thing, etc. and so on. So yeah, I think that helped. Sure, I wound up owing them money, but at least they’re were nice about it. Thanks George!

And that’s about all I’ve got. Oh, and it helps to have perpetual bad luck, so that you view things like this, a sudden bill of $7K, as a good thing. Just as I was happy over the flat tire – whee! – because I got the flat close to a highway exit, so too am I simply delighted here that I’m not having a lien put on my house. AND, I’m done with the IRS (knock on wood). That right there, my friends, is more than worth its weight in gold. Err, not that I have any of that around, no sirree……

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Panic at the Wisco(nsin)

I knew it would happen some day – that HRH The Kone would attempt to toss off the shackles that have been penning him in to a life of misery, and break free of his existence centered around oppression and cruelty. After all, if nothing else, I’m known for the tight ship I run here at Chez Tasha, so who can blame the poor little man? Certainly not me.

So there we were, the Kone and I, up in WI last weekend to deal with Idiot Brother. Which is a long story in and of itself, so let me interject here with this important rule of thumb: should you notice that a major body part, say a leg, is suddenly very red and very swollen, and you’re feeling feverish/chilled, you in all likelihood have a raging infection and should hie thee to a doctor ASAP. Just sayin.’ Rather than, for example, making your mother haul herself up to WI the night before she’s supposed to go out of town, to take you to the ER, even as you’re protesting the whole way, because of course, “nothing’s wrong.” Right.

We get up there, and after making sure The Kone is being kept in the style to which he’s accustomed (bread and water, cement floor), I head off to the hospital to see Idiot Brother. Before doing so, I open a side sliding door a little for some fresh air, leaving the screen door closed. Why this sudden need for fresh air? Well, here’s another important note: if you notice that there are pantry pest moths in the house, do not, I repeat do NOT simply ignore them. Because they will multiply, and you’ll be walking around through swarms of them, which is pretty damn annoying and gross for most people. Most people who aren’t my brother, that is.

So of course I had sprayed the shit out of the place with flying bug spray, and I didn’t want Kona to expire from the fumes. Hence, leaving the side door open.

I get home a bit later, after a frustrating visit with Idiot Brother who wasn’t quite able to grasp the whole “rule of thumb concerning infections and limbs that might need sawing off,” and as I step onto the deck, I stop in horror, as my heart goes leaping out of my chest and sauntering off jauntily. Because the screen door has been pushed out, and The Kone – as I discover after I go running through the house – is gone.

Oh. My. God.

Of course, I do what any normal person would do under such circumstances: I go running through the neighborhood, yelling my fool head off: “Kone! Kone!” I stop kids who are going fishing: “Have you seen a BIG RED DOG?” I contemplate calling Melinda or Kim, because of course the smart thing to do is always to call friends who live in Ohio and Oregon, respectively. I think I hear Kona barking, so I wonder – is he tied to a pickup truck? Being held hostage in a garage? Stuck in a well while the barn is on fire??

I run back to the house, thinking I’ll call 911 and get the police and National Guard on the case, but first I decide to take one more run through the house. And so I get to the last bedroom and open the door – and there he is! The Kone!! Much happiness ensues!

I’m guessing he did go outside to chase the damn squirrels which were taunting him on the deck, tired himself out, then decided to go into the bedroom for a well-deserved nappie and the door closed behind him. My poor baby!

We then head out for a walk, and while uber-relieved and happy, I’m also not in the mood for moronic Wisconsinites and their crazed dogs, which is all we’ve met so far on our walkies. So when yet another idiot comes walking along by the channel with a snarling fat mangy Chihuahua who’s lunging at Kona, and then this fool has the nerve to tell me “You keep that dog over there and away from us!” as Kona is just walking along sniffing a flower…….well. I may or may not have snarled something along the lines of “why don’t you keep your asshole POS dog away from us, m’kay?”

In other news: I have taken up drinking. Heavily.

A pattypan placeholder

Yes yes, I know, it's been months since I've put up a new post - but I have them all written in my head. It's just a matter of getting them down on paper. Which I will, after my Long National Nightmare with the IRS is finally over.

This day could very well be tomorrow.

Well, sort of. IRSLady Yvette is stopping by in the morning to pick up whatever papers I've managed to dig up for 2009 and 2006, and at this point, I'm basically ready to tell them to just tell me how much I owe them, so I can be done with it all. I don't have time for this, people! Things to do! A garden to take care of! A Kone to cater to! The PATTYPANS!

Oh, and then I have to start my whole Ramping Up process for RAGBRAI, which is in, umm, 2 weeks. And so far I've ridden, umm, not so much.

So yes, my mom is delighted that I'll be moving back in with her as of tomorrow night, so that I can ride my little heart out in hopes of not dying while riding across Iowa. Or at least being able to make it from porkchop to porkchop.

So! Soon there will be a flood of important posts, trust me, ranging from the Kona Chronicles as he discarded his oppressive shackles and ran to freedom in the wilds of Wisconsin, to Miss Tasha actually having nice things to say about various institutions. And the ultimate question: now knowing that Lance himself will be riding part of RAGBRAI, will Miss Tasha be able to get her "Cancer Sucks, Dopers Suck Harder" jersey made in time? Questions, questions......

But in the meantime, I am using the time-tested tactic of posting distracting pictures, of Kona, the garden, and of course.....the pattypans. Enjoy.