Archive for November, 2008

Concerning the tags

With our vast array of vehicles, it is frequently the case that one or more of them needs to be re-registered with the Great State if Missouri.  We do this at the license bureau in Branson, and that would generally be the royal we.  It is not financially feasible for Scott, who is paid by the hour, to take off time to go wait at the license bureau, so he usually sends me to do that little taskette.  (Time is money, but his time is more money than mine!)

Scott told me that the van – a 1998 Dodge Grand Caravan – needed new tags before the end of the month, so on Monday, November 24, I took the parcel of paperwork he provided and headed to one of my favorite places – not.  It was important that I get the tags that day, because we would be out of town Wednesday the 26th through Friday the 28th, and the end of the month would fall on Sunday.  I was unwilling to try to get the tags on Tuesday, because I have learned, both from having two daughters take driving tests and from observation over the years that Tuesdays and Thursdays are driving test days; therefore no one in his right mind should EVER enter the license bureau on either of those two days for any reason other than taking a driving test.  So I HAD to get the job done on Monday.

It seems that Monday was the first day for a new company to take over the license bureau.  The state contracts with a company to run the joint, which means the folks there aren’t actually employees of the state.  That fact gave me pause, but the line was short and the lady I got was very nice.

I have not yet fully comprehended the logic of the various papers that must be presented to renew one’s vehicle.  I do have a college degree, but I confess that I just trust Scott to hand me the right sheaf of documents and hope that everything is correct.  The lady riffled through my collection, which included, but may not have been limited to:

– the renewal notice

– the current (or expired?) registration

– a safety inspection less than 60 days old

– proof of insurance (I dug through the glove box in an attempt to find this and located three different proofs of insurance.  One of them expires in June of 2009, so I figured that was the correct one.)

– paid personal property tax receipts for 2006 and 2007

All seemed to be in order until she got to the tax receipts.  “Wait a minute.  It looks like you bought this van in October of ’05.”  Yes, we had done so.  “So that means you would have owned it on January 1 of ’06.”  Yes, that made sense.  “And it’s listed on your 2007 tax receipt, but not on your 2006 tax receipt, so I can’t renew your registration because this receipt doesn’t show that you paid taxes on it in 2006.”  Lovely.  I looked more closely at the 2006 receipt.  It listed our 1995 Ford Aerostar (check), our 1999 Honda Accord (check), our 1997 Ford Windstar (check), our 1986 Toyota Camry (check), our pop-up trailer (check), and our canoe trailer (check). WAIT A MINUTE!  “Hey, this 2006 receipt – the one that doesn’t list our 1998 Dodge Grand Caravan – lists our 1997 Ford Windstar, which was a lemon, and we haven’t owned that vehicle for several years!”  She looked too.  “Hmmm… it looks like Taney County really messed this up.”

She continued.  “How did you get the renewal done last year?  They would have looked at your 2005 and 2006 receipts, and they couldn’t renew it last year if it wasn’t on the 2006 receipt.”  I replied that I didn’t know the answer to that question and by the way, what would she suggest, given that this was my only opportunity to renew the vehicle before the end of the month.

She told me I would have to call Taney County and talk to them.  She kindly looked up their phone number for me and gave me the license bureau fax number.  If they could fax her proof of taxes paid on the van, she could proceed.

I stepped out of line and and thanked God for cell phones.  I called the number I’d been given, which ended up being the county collector’s office, and explained my situation.  The county collector lady heard me out them said I would need to talk to the assessor’s office and she’s connect me.  I explained to the assessor lady my situation and asked her advice.  She pulled up our account, and (unlike health-related entities) was glad to talk with me about it, even though I am technically not Scott (in whose name all this tax stuff is listed) but am only married to him.

Yes, she could make those changes, and she wondered aloud how I had gotten my renewal last year.  I told her I had no idea.  She replied that the license bureau had clearly messed things up.  = )  I told her which vehicles we did and didn’t own – or at least which ones I thought we had or had not owned as of January 1, 2006.  She then told me that there was a problem.  Since the Caravan was valued higher than the Windstar, and significantly so, we would owe more tax.  Lovely.

Would I need to drive to Forsyth (read 15 miles one way) to pay the tax or could I do it over the phone?  Yes, I could pay over the phone, BUT there would be a charge to use a credit card.  And how much, pray tell, would that be?  Well, I would need to wait ten minutes (becuase she had to enter my updated information) and then call back to the county collector’s office.  They would take my money.

I waited 12 minutes for good measure and then called back to the county collector’s office.  I got someone different from the first collector lady, so I explained my situation again.  She looked up our account, saw the changes that had been made and said we would have to paid more tax.  It was about $25.  I told her I was fine with that and that I understood from the assessor lady that I could pay over the phone. Yes, I could, but there would be an extra charge to use a credit card.  Okay, how much is that fee?  It would be an additional 4.125%.  I heard her punching her calculator.  The credit card fee came to a whopping $1.84, but I was pretty sure we could spring for that.  I gave her the necessary information, while everyone in the license bureau listened in.  = )

Now that everyone agreed on which vehicles we had owned on a certain date nearly two years ago, and now that we had paid Taney County appropriately for that privilege, all that remained was for the collector lady to fax the license bureau lady proof of it all.  Which she agreed to do immediately.  I waited another five minutes for teh fax to come through then returned to the license bureau lady to pay my ~$58 to renew the van for two years.  As I told her, even though it’s pushing 200,000 miles and we are looking toward replacing it, I really would have preferred to renew it for ten years, just to avoid the hassle, but at least I won’t be back at the license bureau for that particular vehicle until late 2010.

The curious thing is that in the Great State of Missouri, SOME cars can be renewed SOME years by mail.  This year, the van HAD to be renewed in person, and it could be renewed for one or two years.  Other times, I have gone in and been told that I can only renew the vehicle in question for one year.  I am sure there is some logic to this, and I think I’ve been told that it has something to do with odd and even numbers, but I cannot remember those details.

I think a better way to do it would be this:  ALL the vehicles one owns should all be due for renewal in your birthday month every two years.  If you were born in an even year, they renew every even year, and likewise for odds.  You get them all inspected within 60 days of the final day of your birthday month.  You mail in the inspection, proof of insurance, and a check for $40 per vehicle.  They mail you back the new two-year tags for each vehicle and you don’t think about renewing ANY vehicles for two more years!

By doing a flat $20/year= $40/vehicle fee, there are no goofy assessments or calculations to be figured.  You never have to go to the license bureau except to get a driver’s license, so lots of staff positions can be cut.  The state saves taxpayer money, and everyone is less stressed.  Less stress means less Prozac prescribed, so health care costs and insurance rates go down.  With lower health care costs, people have more expendable income, which they can save, spend, or invest.  This would stimulate the economy, jobs would be created, and there would be no conceivable reason to bail out banks, auto manufacturers, Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, or Best Buy.

This is my vehicle registration plan, and I approve this message.

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Biskits anyone?

Our family just returned home from a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving celebration with my folks in North Little Rock.  We gave much thanks, ate much food, and laughed heartily, especially at Scott’s biskits.  We were playing a word game, Keesdrow, and shortly after Katie increased our vocabulary with “poppets,” (dainty little girls), Scott playted “biskits.”  I know he was trying to use the fivepoint “K,” but I think he may have actually thought that was the correct spelling.  Mom, Katie, and I laughed our heads off, and funny biskit comments came up a lot after that.

We also got to spend time with my brother, David, and his daughter, Haley.  We don’t get to see them much at all, so it was fun to see them and get to talk with them.  To top it all off, David had recently purchased a new phone, and when he saw and heard about my archaic Nokia, he GAVE me his very nice Razr!  It is silver, sleek, and very nice, and I am eager to read the manual and learn about all its bells and whistles.

Now we are in the process of unloading and unpacking, and I am guessing my folks area picking Legos out of the carpet and recovering from all the noise and commotion we carry with us.

Proud of our piano players

This afternoon Andrew, Jessica, and I played in BAMTA’s Fall Recital at the Old Stone Church.  I suspect I am biased, but I must say that both Andrew’s and Jessica’s playing was (were?) noticeably more musical that the other students’.  They didn’t just play notes; they made; lovely music.  I was so proud of them both.

I also played well, though not perfectly.  I was MUCH less nervous by using the music, and as far as I am concerned, that will be my plan in the future.

Musical events

I’m not sure why I haven’t made time to blog in a week.  I need to stay in the habit, or else so much of life goes by that I can’t seem to make myself go back and write about it.

This week was Hymn Festival for Jessica, Andrew, and me.  I was fairly satisfied with my playing, although Mrs. Walker says I need to play with more expression.  Sheesh.  I will be playing one of the same pieces, an arrangement of “Holy, Holy, Holy,” for a BAMTA recital tomorrow, and I will do my best to be more expressive and vary my dynamics more.

We also bought a new (used) piano this week.  Actually, we picked it out at the piano tuner’s shop last week, and it was delivered today.  It is quite different from our Ancient of Days monga piano.  This one is much shorter and lighter wood.  It has plastic keys instead of ivory, and it is quite short to the ground.  We had to have Mr. Dugan saw off the bench legs about three inches, so Jessica could get her knees under it!  We may still have to raise the piano some, and we’ll surely have to raise it more as Andrew grows.  It sounds different from the old one, it’s louder, and all the keys play.

In many ways it is a great blessing – especially that Scott would be willing to spend the money for a new one.  He knows that piano is important to all three of us, and we appreciate that.  However, it was tough emotionally to have the old one leave.  It was big and clunky and had many idiosyncrasies – much like our house. I think it was patricularly hard on Jessica, because we made the decision to replace the piano while she was away on the AIM East Coast mission trip.  We were all frustrated by aspects of the old piano, but I don’t think she ever thought we would replace it.  However, she told me she would forgive us, and I am trusting that over time, we will all get used to and greatly enjoy playing this 1929 Gulbransen.

Crossing Hercules Glade with two backpacks

Scott got this wild idea – which ended up being a God idea – to take Andrew on an overnight backpacking trip across the Hercules Glade wilderness in eastern Taney County.  It was the weekend before election day, and we had already planned to be out of town for a gymnastics meet.  Our gym ended up not participating in that meet, so that left Andrew free, and Scott is never one to let opportunity pass by unused.

Never mind that Andrew’s only experience with camping is what happens when we pull the pop-up and set up a small city in a state or national park campground.  Never mind that Andrew typically whines about hiking, and that for only a mile when he isn’t carrying a single thing.  Never mind that they would have to somehow carry a tent, two sleeping bags and mats, and all the food and water they’d need for over 24 hours.  Never mind all that.  Scott was “all systems go.”  In a big way.

The packing was monumental, but I think they actually remembered all the essentials.  When all was said and done, Andrew could barely stand with his pack on, much less walk!  Here’s part of a letter I sent a friend about this event just a few days after the hikers returned.

“The weekend before the election, Scott decided to take Andrew on a backpacking trip through the Hercules Glade wilderness in eastern Taney County. I’ll tell you that getting those two ready to go was something else!  Of course, the only camping Andrew has done has been with the whole family, when we take the pop-up to a campground, so he was totally unprepared for the idea of carrying all your food, water, clothes, tent, and sleeping gear.  We do have two real “backpacking” backpacks, and they were fully loaded.  It was only for one night, and the total hike was only about 6.5 miles, but Andrew’s pack weighed 29 pounds!  He only weighs 75 pounds himself!  Scott was 44, and I won’t say how much he weighs.  = )  They drove over to the west end of the trail and left the Honda there, and I followed in the van, picked them up, and took them over to the east end.  The east end has a higher elevation, and Scott thought it would be better to go slightly downhill with Andrew.  The terrain is quite rugged, with the trail marked as “moderately to very strenuous,” so I know they had a full workout.

“Wherever they camped for the night, I guess they were up pretty high, because they had cell service, and Andrew called me – very happy and chatty, telling me all about everything.  Scott said they didn’t sleep much because of all the night noises.  It’s black bear country, you know – tie your food up in a tree and all that – and I know that when you are several miles from the nearest human in any direction, every little twig crackle can be spooky.  But they endured, cooked hot dogs and Ramen soup and drank their last drop of water as they got to the car.  Andrew told me that they had to dig a hole to poop and that he’s thankful now for toilets that flush.  They took some good pictures and all in all had a great father-son time.”

Andrew told me afterward that this trip was “the second most fun I’ve ever had in my life!”  (He said the first was going to St. Louis.)  I think Scott succeeded magnificently in his two main goals – building relationship and making a memory.  What a super dad he is!

Getting away, part 7 (conclusion)

If there was cell service, maybe we could call my friend, Dianne, and ask her to explain how to play cribbage!  Now that was a wild thought.  Here we were, deep in the woods, miles from nowhere and nobody (except the three floaters camped down on the gravel bar in order to show me their topo map), and we called Dianne.  Isn’t technology wonderful?  I actually let her explain it all to Scott, because he is better with logic and strategy than I am.  However, he asked her so many questions (“So now, if I play this and she plays that. . . ?” etc.) that she finally offered to have her son, Tim, call us back, because he knew ALL the detailed rules.

As we drove back up the rutted road, a few minutes later, Tim called, and he was glad to explain all the ins and outs of cribbage to Scott.  In addition, he was interested to learn more about our ministry, so that was really encouraging, too.  Back at the cabin, we were able to play cribbage according to the real rules, and it works much better that way!

All in all, our getaway was superb – the best ever, I am sure.  God really blessed us beyond measure, and we were refreshed, renewed, and reconnected.  We will always remember fondly our special time in suburban Snowball.

Getting away, part 6

The afternoon drive ended up being almost as exciting as the morning hike.  Two miles up the dirt road, we turned right at the T and followed it till it Y-ed.  I thought the right Y was the way to go, but Scott selected the left, and as usual, he ended up being right (pun intended).

However, the condition of the road deteriorated significantly.  We lumbered in and around potholes, and the trees closed in on both sides till it looked more like a trail than a road.  We did catch a glimpse of the river afar off, though, so we knew we were headed the right way.  Again, I wished fervently for a local topo map.  It would have solved many mysteries.

Bam!  The front end landed in yet another low place in the road, and Scott stopped the car.  There was a substantial rut up ahead that appeared to be about two feet lower than the center of the road.  Being high centered this far out into the sticks, where cell service was spotty at best, would not be smart.  Scott got out and hiked ahead a ways to see if we could safely proceed, or if we’d need to leave the car and go forward on foot.  Not getting to the river was never an option.

Scott returned and announced that we would need to back the car up to a bend in the road and then continue on foot.  Which we did.  And sure enough, after only walking 10 minutes or so, we arrived on the heap of gravel bordering the river.  We were quite amazed to see how high the water had been during this year’s various floods.  There was debris at least 15 feet up in the trees, and that was at a point where the road bed was some 15 feet above the current water level!

We meandered over to the water and sat on the bank for a long time, just watching the water, talking, and relaxing.  We may have been there an hour, when suddenly we heard voices.  Bear in mind that this was fall, a time when the river is typically low; not a time when people canoe the Buffalo.  Also, we were several miles (as the crow flies) from any human habitation in any direction.  Voices?!?!

And just then, around a bend in the river, here came three people – one in a kayak and two in a canoe!  They beached their crafts a bit upstream from us and one of the women walked over to us.  She asked if we were camping there, if we knew if there would be a lot of people from the area down on the river that night (it was about 4:00 PM on a Saturday), if they would be imposing on us if they camped there, etc.  We told her that we had just walked down, that we were staying at a cabin several miles away, that we were about to walk back to our car, that they were welcome to camp there, and that we didn’t expect there’d be any partying locals around.

We followed the lady back to their beached canoe, from which she pulled out a damp map.  I asked her if I could look at it, because we weren’t sure exactly where on the river we were.  She gladly handed it to me, and I was SHOCKED to see that it was a topo map of the very section in which we stood.  In fact, our cabin, the other cabin, and the farmhouse across the road were marked on her map!  Wow!  We located the area behind our cabin and could clearly see that the direction we had headed on the morning hike would never have led us to the road.  We would just have hiked on and on and on deeper into the Ozarks.  It had been a very good thing that Scott had had us turn around.

As we parted company with the floaters and began the trek back to our car, I couldn’t stop saying, “Can you believe it?  I wanted to see a topo map, and God sent me one!  He had to send three people down a desolate stretch of the river at a time when no one in his right mind floats it, and he did that just to bring me a topo map.  She even said that they had been scraping a lot.  They didn’t know that the main reason they went floating today was to show me that map.  And not just a general Buffalo River map – a topo map!!!”

It was a big deal to me.  = )

On the way back to the car, Scott noticed that we had cell service.

To be continued. . .


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