Scattered pieces, blowing in the wind



I spent most of the weekend picking up the leaves I so loved when they provided shelter from August’s sweltering heat and adored even more when their red, yellow and oranges dazzled in the fall. Somehow, though, they seem slightly less lovable now that they’ve turned into dusky shades of yellow and brown and are slowly but surely choking out the bright green grass below. They’re downright ugly when they must be scraped out of gutters brimming over with two years of debris. Passing rain showers and an aged-back unwilling to shoulder one more sack of soggy leaves didn’t make the job any easier.

I also began reading Archibald MacLeish’s Collected Poems: 1917-1982. I enjoyed the first section of poems written in the ‘80’s and finished them quickly in one sitting. Once I reached the poems written in 1917, though, I slowed considerably and found myself unable to read longer than an hour at a time. Determined to read all of the poems carefully in order to see them in the context of MacLeish’s whole work, I spent more time than I should have trying to understand “The Pot of Earth” which begins with a quote from Frazer’s The Golden Bough and seems reminiscent of Eliot’s "The Waste Land," which is certainly not one of my favorite poems. It’s obviously going to be a few more days before I’m going to be ready to write anything meaningful about MacLeish.

To complicate matters, I’ve started taking income tax classes at H&R Block in anticipation of working during the upcoming tax season. If I’m going to continue buying computer and woodworking toys to power my hobbies, I’m probably going to have to work at least one more year, if not two. Since I’m unwilling to substitute teach or spend the Christmas season working in the local computer store, I imagine I’m going to have spend some more time doing taxes. However, I keep putting off reading the lessons until the day before class. It reminds me a little of being back in college, except that reading about tax laws is not nearly as interesting as reading a Faulkner or Hemingway novel.

Early retirement is swell and all, but half of a teacher’s salary really doesn’t go too far, particularly when the cost of medical premiums and electricity continue to skyrocket out of control. Unfortunately, I don’t see much chance of medical reform during this administration; so, I certainly need to prepare for even higher premiums in the future. Nor is it very reassuring that my TSA account has sunk below the value it had when I originally started contributing over ten years ago. That, of course, was my inflation hedge to offset higher medical premiums. Considering last year’s throat surgery cost over $40,000, though, I’m not likely to let my premiums slip by, no matter how much I have to work to pay them.

Luckily, I am reassured by the public’s confidence in the fine job Bush has been doing. At least when the Republicans get through passing all the tax breaks for those lucky enough to still have money I will have lots of work as a tax preparer. Apparently Republicans have never found a tax break for the rich they didn’t adore. Of course, having to ensure that not too much of the tax break is passed down to the poor requires laws so carefully crafted that not even tax preparers are truly sure what they mean, at least not until the tax courts have interpreted them ten years from now.

4 thoughts on “Scattered pieces, blowing in the wind

  1. Loren, you just informed the world that you know how to do taxes. Look out come April.

    It’s a crime that you can’t enjoy retirement because of medical insurance. My ex-hubby’s foster father can’t retire because of his wife’s huge pharmacy bills a month (she has emphysema). Medicare won’t cover all the costs.

    However, you, and he, can at least rest assured that your backyard will be kept clear of terrorists.

  2. I really didn’t think I would ever be able to keep it secret for 3 1/2 months, Shelley.

    I even hope I can offer some hints/advice while I’m working.

    Of course, it might be the teaching, not Bush and his cronies, that won’t allow me to retire early. I didn’t take a vow of poverty when I started, but I also knew that I would never make much money since I took a cut in pay to go from caseworker to teacher.

    I just didn’t plan on medical insurance skyrocketing like this, at least not accompanied by a stock market decline.

  3. Archibald Macleish – now there’s a name I haven’t heard in almost 30 years πŸ™‚ I read one of his volumes in I think it was a 3rd year Lit course. I think it was Songs for a Summer Day – but it’s far too long ago to remember πŸ™‚

    Sorry to hear about the medical bills etc. Every time I read about those problems I give thanks that I live noth of the 49th. Yes our medical system has problems but at least no one goes without insurance nor do they go bankrupt because they need care. Hope things improve for you Loren!

  4. I’m actually doing fine financially and the medical bills are virtually non-existent because I have good insurance.

    I knew when I took early retirement that I would have to work if I wanted “toys.” That’s why I took tax training in the first place. I’ve enjoyed working at an entirely different profession with an entirely different group of people.

    I am worried about rising medical costs, though, particularly for those who haven’t managed their money as well as I have.

    I think anyone who is concerned about others has to worry about medical costs. There are far too many families who can’t afford insurance, and it certainly doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better as long as the Republicans are in power.

What do you think?