I know my friends in New York will be highly unimpressed, but we had a snow storm a few weeks ago. Maybe we got two inches. But it was fun and it didn't last too long. Rain had it washed away within a few hours and it got sunny again. These photos were taken at around 7:30 AM.
The New York State Department of Taxes broadsided me a few weeks ago. Why? New York State put a lien on my credit report, saying I owed them more than $1500 in tax. They are liars. I paid a lot of tax on the sale of my New York apartment, and when I filed my 2009 taxes, I wrote them a check for more than $21,000. Two months later, they notified me that I was more than $1,500 short of the tax due. After conferring with my accountant, we found the error and I paid both the state of New York and the Federal government more than $3,000 in additional tax. In other words, I paid the tax New York State asked me to. I didn't contest. I didn't argue. I figure, you owe the tax--pay the tax. I have the cancelled checks to prove I paid the tax--last June.
Fast forward to February, 2010--approximately six months later--my banker calls me and says there is a tax lien for the entire $1,500 + on my credit report. I checked my records and found the cancelled check. I called New York State Department of Tax where I was rudely accused of ignoring their notices, which I truly never received. The lady on the phone indignantly insisted I was wrong. "How much more do I owe?" Her reply stunned me: $20.48! "If that is all I owe, why was the entire $1,500 listed on the credit report lien." "We always list the original amount," was her obnoxious reply. So I lost nearly $12,000 in loans from my bank due to the lying incompetence and mean-spirited attitude of the New York State tax department. It cost me another $40 more to settle the $20.45 owed plus the cost of a money order and overnight delivery so I could get a quick letter of satisfaction that I had paid this in full for the underwriters of the bank.
Once I calmed down and really looked at the situation I called the NY State Tax thugs back. "You never sent me any notice for the additional $20.48 and I think you owe me a better explanation for attacking my credit report," I accused. The pinhead told me it was my fault for being late on the tax in the first place. Nearly 40 years as a resident in New York and these bullies are treating me like a tax-dodger. It is infuriating. I demanded to speak to his boss. She was as unwilling and as unmoving as her predecessor. I frustration, I accused her of killing me and said, I'm going to kill myself. She actually took me seriously! "Mr. Mowery, please tell me you're not thinking of killing yourself over this!" "What would you suggest? I've entered Kafkaland, and you're not making one bit of sense," I replied adding a bit more drama than the situation warranted. Somehow these theatrics turned her back into a sympathetic human being. We went over the file again and she finally admitted, "I see there was a sincere attempt to pay the tax, so I'm going to try to see if I can get this dismissed from your credit report, but it will take about 30 to 60 days." My banker told me I would have to start a long letter campaign to get this off my credit report and it could take years.
The irony here is this incident got me worried about my Federal Tax return. At the same time I received the notice from NY state, I called the IRS and explained the situation to them. Two minutes later he said, there was no further monies due the IRS from 2009. But he also stated, if there were late charges, or any other question of your owing the IRS, we would notify you many, many times before attaching a lien to your credit report.
I'll give the state of New York 60 days and revisit the situation. I've already drafted a letter with copies to the head of NY state's tax department, the governor, the attorney general, the Congressman of my old district, and both state senators as well as the Albany bureau chief of The New York Times. If I have to embarrass the state of New York, I'm prepared to do so. The bums.
The red rose bush, trimmed and ready for it's first blooms (sometime in June).
Tarragon, which is just coming up now. While the basil, parsley, mint and oregano didn't survive the winter, the tarragon, chives, thyme, rosemary and sage did.
Daffodils just blooming.
The pear tree with a few blooms and the euphorbia with their sci-fi light green flowered tops.
The white camellia, which is just starting to bloom. All my neighbor's camellias are either red or pink or
variegated between red and white. But I think the pure white camellia makes for a spectacular showing.
I hope my friend Dyanne will be able to give me ideas on what shape to trim it back when she visits this
summer. This shrub is really out of control.
Hydrangea, trimmed of its old dead blooms.
Weeping Snow Fountain Cherry just blooming.
We've had some fierce rains these past couple of weeks, and finally, though rain has been forecast, it's been sunny and breezy here Portland. The bulbs I planted last year are finally sprouting and I have a few daffodils. My Weeping Snow Fountain Cherry tree is just blooming now, as is the grafted pear tree that I bought last summer. If all goes well, it will produce five different types of pears. I'm still trying to decide if it will go into the front yard this summer when I restore the front yard into a garden (it is now an alternative driveway). The white camellia is just blooming and they are gorgeous (though my mother is always telling me how much of a mess they make as they shed their blooms. Camellia blossoms disappear awfully fast when they drop to the ground). The tulips and iris I planted last fall (and one iris that is still in the pot) are all sending up news leaves. The lilac is leafing and so is the mystery shrub next to it. The lilies and grape hyacinths are also shooting up. All three hydrangeas have lots of new green leaves, which prompted me to prune the old dead blooms off of them. I'm about to begin looking for hearty hanging plants to hang outside my dining room. I'm getting sick of seeing last year's dead plants staring at me. I miss the spectacular yellow variegated coleus from last year, which I brought in. While the other coleus plants have survived, that one, alas, is down to two cuttings which I saved for rooting which they are now doing in my kitchen window. I'd hate to lose that beautiful plant.
I finally bought a Kindle, and I'm waiting for it to arrive. I have a few books I'd love to begin reading and can't wait to start downloading them.
The news from Japan and Libya is very scary right now and I'm hoping the U.S. won't get sucked into a long and involving military action there, though it seems that lots of people, including Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, are wanting for the U.S. to become involved. I think Europe has far more at stake there and the United States shouldn't be leading the charge in every conflict. Besides, at a time when Congress is slashing budgets does it make sense to increase the one budget that desperately needs to be pruned: defense. Some bonehead on CNN said a recent poll suggest that 46% of Americans would be in favor of us engaging in a military intervention in Libya. Some Americans have no sense of how seriously bad our economy is, and engaging in another armed conflict is only going to make it worse.
I'm not sure Japan has asked for the world's help in getting their nuclear reactors under control. But they should. I'm very concerned their government hasn't been more forthcoming about how serious the danger a nuclear meltdown is in those four reactors in NW Japan.
Time to get back to preparing my tax returns. Ugh.
I found this green glass head, which I'm using to hold my old fur hat, which my friend Jon gave me for Christmas years ago. I'll never wear it out here, because even in the cold of New York City winters, it makes my head boil with heat. But it's lots of fun to have this glass head to hold and and prevent it from permanently creasing the fur.