Saturday, August 16, 2014

There's a Whole Lot of Back-scratching Going on in DC



Lest you think that government entities don't "talk" to one another out of some misguided desire to maintain citizens' privacy, allow me to share this little tidbit and disabuse you of that Utopian notion.

Pepper and I are doing a re-fi on Moogie's Manor. Our lender set it up to qualify to run through Fannie Mae (and Fannie Mae is not even a real federal government entity, you understand) for secondary market purposes. To make her happy and feed her enormous ego, one must submit some thirty-odd pages of Application to Miss Mae, including one's most recent tax return.

Here's where it starts getting a little complicated.

Due to some investments and partnerships, we always get an extension to file our 1040s until October. This means the last Returns we have on hand at present are for 2012. Not 2013. Fannie Mae was not happy about this. Even though she has nothing to do with collecting taxes, she wanted to talk to her buddies over at the IRS to be sure we had filed an actual Extension and weren't just slacking and failing to file. She scratches her IRS-Bud's back and they scratch something of hers. I mean, the revenue we pump into the IRS is shared by the whole government, right?

Anyway, there's some silly federal rule designed to protect the privacy of we insignificant citizens, and Fannie Mae isn't permitted to talk to Internal Revenue without the citizen's permission. So, she has a handy-dandy form that the citizen "may" sign that says, in essence, "Sure! You gubmint guys chat about me and share anything about me with one another that your nosy little bureaucratic hearts desire! Live it up!"

Let's stop here briefly to reflect upon the fact that Fannie Mae has nothing to do with collecting or disbursing or determining the amount of taxes that anyone pays. Let's further reflect upon the fact that whether you file your tax returns has nothing to do with whether you can re-pay a loan.

Then let's think about the fact that your loan application will be peremptorily rejected if you refuse to authorize Miss Mae to snoop into your IRS records to satisfy her overactive curiosity and/or to give her ammunition to rat your slacking butt out to the IRS. Even though she has zero to do with taxes!

Did we sign it? Well, duh. (But only after a colorful rant about crony government and Big Brother by my roommate.) Just don't let yourself be fooled into believing that there's a functional firewall among government entities that protects we, the people.

And do not get Pepper started on Fannie Mae. He's been mumbling something about a class action lawsuit.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We Have Grandpuppies! LOTS of Grandpuppies.

Nine, to be precise! Five boys and 4 girls, healthy, squirmy, and exercising stronger voices by the day! They were born Friday night, after we had gone to Elder Daughter's to watch the Saints game, of course. By the time we got home, at about 9:00, she had already whelped three of them -- on the couch in our bedroom. (I took the couch cushion to the cleaners this morning -- we shall see. We can always turn the cushion over, but I do hope they can get any odor out of it.) The couch, pre-birthing suite (you don't really want to see the post- view):


I gathered up the pups and got them to the pool, where Mysti quickly joined them. Pepper worked on the couch and carpet for awhile. And my purse, which had a little puppy residue in it, too. I know -- gross. Daughters and DiLshowed up after eight had arrived and we thought that was all of them. Pretty cool -- 8 puppies born on 8/8! Daughters headed home, but DiL stayed for a bit. After 30 minutes or so, she said, "Is that another one?" I thought, surely not -- it's been so long since the last. But, sure enough here came another -- the largest one yet! We did have to help break the sac, though.

Younger Daughter was pretty concerned about the runt, who had a little trouble latching onto Mama. She did internet research, gave us an eyedropper from Grand #5's diaper bag to try a Karo Syrup coating on one of the teats, and just fussed in general. Fortunately, the little guy got the hang of it eventually and is growing like Topsy.

I took this shot the first time Mysti voluntarily left the puppy "bed" (that's spelled "pink, plastic wading pool!").


I promise I didn't place the pups in this shot -- they just kinda wound up like this.


Bouie has been feeling a trifle marginalized the last few days -- a tad on the needy side. He has wound up in bed with us for the last several nights. Not a good thing -- he's a bed hog.


Yesterday, Pepper distracted Mysti and Bouie so I could take the pups to the Vet to have their dew claws removed. (The useless little claws are removed so they don't get caught and ripped off in brush and stuff, thus risking infection.) Here they are, going on their first field trip. Can you believe I got them all in a laundry basket? They really seemed to enjoy the car rides!


Several of them like to sing with their supper. Pretty funny.

We have homes for several of them, but we'll keep one. Bouie's and Mysti's bloodlines are just too good not to be preserved, but I doubt we'll be having puppies around here anymore. We're too darned old to have 9 infants in the house! Especially after bedtime! But the cuteness factor is pretty cool, and Mysti is such a good little Mama! I'm really proud of her (and grateful! Can you imagine bottle-feeding nine puppies?!?!)

I need a nap.






Friday, August 8, 2014

When in Worry Mode, Think About Food

We think Mysti girl might be in the early stages of labor! I don't know who's more nervous -- Mysti or me! So, I'm going to beg off having to think and punt to . . .

FOOD PORN!!!


  Shrimp and Garlic Cheese Grits! I have one of the best recipes around, if I do say so myself.


Lemon Blueberry Trifle, to be enjoyed this evening while watching the Saints trounce the Rams.


Caprese Salad with basil from the garden. Tomatoes are another story.


This is my total tomato harvest. One sad, lonely little cherry tomato. The marauding chipmunks got the rest before I could pick them to take them inside so they could finish ripening. I ate it with today's lunch.


A few more harvest pics. Who knew what a Quince is? I do now, having asked about it on Facebook. If I could find my canning pot, I'd make jelly. We also have crabapples!


I've had the most luck with (some of) the herbs and the jalapenos. Here are basil, lemon thyme, and chives. Several other herbs, plus the zucchini and bell peppers, drowned in all the rain we've had. Who knew that plants can drown in Arkansas? Louisiana, maybe, but in Arkansas?!?! I have one sad green bell pepper plant left in a container on the deck that set flowers this week. Maybe I'll get a few more peppers yet.

Anyway, it's been fun learning about the yard and having fresh herbs again.

Please keep my little puppy girl in your thoughts -- her life is about to be turned upside down!

As is ours.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Drought is Coming to an End!



It's pre-season, but it's FOOTBALL!!!

We watched the second half of the Hall of Fame game on Sunday, just because we could. I'll probably skip the Dallas game tonight since they're kicking off so late, but tomorrow we're doing a 3/4 family get-together at Elder Daughter's house to watch the SAINTS roll over the hapless Rams. I'm stretching out my Who Dat!

(It's 3/4 of the family because, for some reason unbeknownst to me, The Son is a 49ers fan and has managed to raise his children in those wicked ways.)

Geaux Saints!!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What Happens When They're Out on Their Own?

I must say that our kids are not "helicopter parents." They have had their overly-protective moments, of course, but they definitely don't hover. Heck, The Son even put 6 year-old #3 on a transatlantic flight to Switzerland with a mild concussion in June. (In his defense, however, his wife's Aunt, a medical physician, gave the ok, and flew with them).

But I have seen many, many young parents hover to beat the band, and the various federal and local governments only reinforce and enable that kind of behavior with their overreaching legislation and regulations. So, this cartoon which appeared in our Sunday newspaper tickled my funny bone:


Sad for the kid. I didn't just pat my kids on the head when they got hurt, but I did usually treat any and every injury with a baggie of ice cubes, and maybe a little peroxide. Unless it looked like stitches might be required. Usually. Ice is the Miracle Remedy, after all!

I've often said that you can't legislate good parenting or manners. Perhaps I was mistaken.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Not So Welcome Visitors

Pepper went into the laundry room last month to fill the dogs' bowls -- we keep their food in bins in there -- and found dog food scattered all over the floor. Hmmmmm, we thought, but didn't pursue any further investigation. Oddly enough, we also found the bird feeder on its side, empty, on the deck. Damn squirrels, we thought.

Several days later, the bird feeder was down again, and one of the bins in the laundry room was overturned. These things do not just happen on their own, and we've had little to no indicia that Moogie's Manor has ghosts. Hmmm.

The next evening, it was after dark but Bouie wanted to go out on the deck anyway. Our valiant sentry, he often patrols the perimeter to make certain that all is secure so we thought little of it and let him out. Then he went nuts -- barking furiously and jumping up on the rail beneath the bird feeder. We leapt to our feet and dashed out to see what the commotion was all about. We were greeted with this:



Just think -- I have been sleeping across the hall from scavenging, marauding racoons! Pretty darn confident racoons! Inside the house! And our "valiant sentries" slept through the whole thing.

These days, we bring the bird feeder in at night and put the cover on the doggie door in the laundry room.

Moogie appears to have moved to a wildlife refuge.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Pity the Children


No, not those children, these children:


I would sooooo hate to be a child in this day and age. Not only do they have to be on the constant lookout for perverted strangers and go to school forever and ever, now they are also forbidden tasty treats within the ivy-covered walls of public schools. The USDA has promulgated school breakfast, lunch, and snack regulations under the watchful eye of the First Witch Lady.

The preface on the USDA School Meals webpage tells us:

Through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by the First Lady and signed by President Obama, USDA made the first major changes in school meals in 15 years, which will help us raise a healthier generation of children.

The new standards align school meals with the latest nutrition science and the real world circumstances of America’s schools. These responsible reforms do what’s right for children’s health in a way that’s achievable in schools across the Nation.
The Act became effective July 1 of this year, leaving schools and Boards of Education scrambling to get around its enabling regulations.

Schools are forbidden to offer "competitive snacks" and "competitive beverages" (food and drink that "compete" with the Agriculture Department's school meal program) that are sugary or fatty, or, apparently, desirable. These competitive foodstuffs are often sold as a means of fundraising for the school through vending machines, school stores, and bake sales.

Wait. BAKE SALES?!?!

Yes. Bake sales.

Even though the regs were modified last spring a bit in response to a tidal wave of complaints, homebaked goodies and fun food are still a no-no in most places. Illinois is tightening its rules about food-centric fundraisers, but many other states are establishing safe havens for them, guaranteeing up to 30 per year per campus. Thank God for common sense.

["Cottage Food Laws" have been promulgated in a majority of the states that allow the sale of certain food items that were prepared in a non-commercial, unlicensed kitchen. Bake sale donations arguably fall within their purview, even if the laws were originally designed primarily for farmers' market vendors. (Arkansas' Cottage Law is in that category, but I'll bet one could argue that it applies to bake sales, too).]

"Doing what's right for children's health." Egad. We may be getting ready to witness a mass exercise in civil disobedience the likes of which have never been seen.

Do you suppose the kids still get to read Thoreau?

They can have my brownie when they pry it out of my cold, dead hands.