Time Travel – not all it’s cracked up to be

Happy kids on a toboggan in the snowI experienced time travel today.

When we woke this morning the CowChows lay under a seven inch thick blanket of new snow. It was early; my neighbors had not yet ventured out and so the snow blanket lay pure and undisturbed. All was quiet; save the distant rush of the river and occasional birdsong it was as if the entire world still slept. As I stood at the window sipping fresh hot coffee, tendrils of smoke climbed from neighboring chimneys and curled skyward. And I thought, “What the hell am I doing up this early?” And, I went back to bed.

Some time later I was awakened by the sound of an angry hornet. I peered out through the frosted window pane and saw my neighbor whizzing down the road on his four-wheeler. Behind the noisy contraption and attached by a length of rope was a plastic toboggan with two happily screaming kids onboard. My first thought was, “Wow, a spill at that speed could hurt those kids pretty bad.”

My next thought was, “Man, that looks like fun.”

I was only going down to watch, I swear. But when I got down there and saw their beaming smiles and wind stung cheeks, when I heard their joyful screams and laughter, and as I stood there on the hillside with the other kids waiting their turn I couldn’t help but feel a thrill. Of course, I would have been perfectly happy to share in their fun vicariously, but when the little blond haired girl from next door turned to me and sweetly asked, “Would you like a ride,” well, what could I say?

Three small children took each arm and assisted me in lowering myself onto the toboggan. With animated chatter they instructed me to keep my feet inside, hang on tight, don’t fall off, and one taunting little voice said, “Don’t pee your pants like Jeffrey did.”

Finally I was ready. I squared myself on the toboggan, gripped the sides, and just as I was giving the nod to go I heard a voice from up the hill and behind me, “TIMOTHY LYNN COUCH!!”

I turned; my neighbor gunned the engine; the toboggan jumped out from under me, and I went sprawling in the snow. Suddenly, I was ten years old again; I’d just been caught in red-handed mischief, and all the other kids were laughing at me. As I lumbered up the hill rubbing my butt a sing-song voice whispered, “Timmy got in trouble.”

Time travel, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Frigidly yours,

Tim Couch

Taxed Enough Already!

T.E.A. Taxed Enough Already!

  • Building Permit Tax
  • CDL License Tax
  • Cigarette Tax
  • Corporate Income Tax
  • Dog License Tax
  • Federal Income Tax (Fed)
  • Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
  • Fishing License Tax
  • Food License Tax
  • Fuel Permit Tax
  • Gasoline Tax
  • Hunting License Tax
  • Inheritance Tax
  • Inventory Tax
  • IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
  • IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
  • Liquor Tax
  • Luxury Tax
  • Marriage License Tax
  • Medicare Tax
  • Property Tax
  • Real Estate Tax
  • Service charge taxes
  • Social Security Tax
  • Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
  • Sales Taxes
  • Recreational Vehicle Tax
  • School Tax
  • State Income Tax
  • State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
  • Telephone Federal Excise Tax
  • Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
  • Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
  • Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
  • Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
  • Telephone State and Local Tax
  • Telephone Usage Charge Tax
  • Utility Tax
  • Vehicle License Registration Tax
  • Vehicle Sales Tax
  • Watercraft Registration Tax
  • Well Permit Tax
  • Workers Compensation Tax

(And this is still only a partial list of all the taxes you are subject to.)

WANT MORE?

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago…
And our nation was the most prosperous in the world.

We had no national debt.
We had the largest middle class in the world.
And one income was enough to support the whole family.

What happened?
People of the Government, by the Government, and for the Government.

The world is upside down. It’s time to turn it right again. Learn about the Fair Tax plan today by visiting FairTax.org!

IN GOD WE TRUST; ALL OTHERS SUBJECT TO WITHHOLDING.

Boys being boys

Boys are smart alecksI was out back of the CowChows a little while ago poking around in my collection of undetermined purposes. I’m working on a new project. I got the idea from the Lazy-Susan in the kitchen, but in my design my La-Z-Boy sits on a giant turntable in the center of a donut shaped desk. On top of the donut will be two laptop computers, a television, a compact refrigerator, a toaster oven, a coffee maker, and of course the universal remote control. I call it the Youniverse. It’s going to be revolutionary.

While I was poking around in the pile looking for parts a couple of kids were playing shoot-em-up next door. They were running around chasing each other, making “p-keww” and “kapow” sounds, and arguing about who got who. I wasn’t too concerned about the outcome of the game so long as someone got shot, but then I suddenly realized they had gone silent. I first thought they had simply gone inside but a stealthy giggle told me that was not the case.

I turned to discover two young boys peering over the retaining wall that divides the properties. One I recognized as my neighbor, Mason. He’s the little brother of the little blond haired girl who regularly torments me. The other boy I didn’t recognize; possibly because I didn’t know him but more likely because both boys were making their best horror face. With their nose pushed up and their eyes pulled down and tongues sticking out and heads waggling from side to side they did look barely human.

I watched them for a moment wondering if I had a face in my own arsenal that could send them screaming for Mommy, but decided instead to take the tack of an adult. “You should be careful,” I said, “Your face could freeze like that and then you’d look that way forever.”

“Hunh unhh,” they replied in unison.

“It’s true,” I said. “Every time you make a face at someone you run the risk of your face freezing like that, and then you’ll have to wear that face for the rest of your life.”

“How do you know?” asked the little stranger boy.

“Well, that’s what my Mommy told me,” I said, “and Mommies don’t lie.”

Mason’s eyes grew wide, and then he shrugged his little shoulders and said, “Well, can’t say she didn’t warn ya.” And they ran off laughing and shooting at each other.

I think it’s going to be a long year.

Regards,

Tim Couch

A Moment of Clarity

snow capped birds nest among tree branchesOccasionally in life we are blessed with a moment of clarity, an instant of insight when suddenly we know something with unquestioning certainty. These moments have the potential to change us forever, to change the way we see the world, and to change our role in it. I had such a moment today.

I was out back taking care of the morning CowChows chores, and as I was trudging along the snow packed path I looked up and noticed a bird’s nest in a tree. It was nearly perfectly camouflaged even now in the dead of winter. Nestled in the bough of a young elm tree its twigs and leaves blended so perfectly that had it not been for the cap of snow on top I might have missed it. Certainly, it had been there all along and I had missed it until now. The tree which held it was itself entangled in the climbing vines of a multiflora rose and I could not imagine how the nest could have been better protected.

As I stood there contemplating this nest and considering the birds who built it I wondered at the process that brought them to make this specific location home. Were they born with an innate instinct, or were they faced with myriad decisions which eventually brought them to this place? As I studied the scene before me and imagined the two birds poring over maps and blueprints I became aware of ice flakes falling about me.

Overnight, a heavy frost had left the CowChows looking as if an expert hand had lightly sprinkled the world with a fine layer of confectioner’s sugar. Now, as the sun shone through for the first time in days and touched upon the upper branches of slumbering trees, these tiny crystals turned loose and wafted gently to the ground. Looking up, I watched them float towards me against a background of clear blue sky and I wondered at how not unlike they are to each of us. Each is unique unto itself and through all of time there will never be any two exactly alike, and yet all share similar characteristics and frailties.

It was while these delicate crystals of ice fell gently upon my face and birdsong carried lightly on the breeze that I experienced that moment of clarity. It came to me not as a thought, but as a fully bloomed flower of knowledge and in that instant I knew without doubt and with unquestioning certainty that, “Damn, it’s still cold out here.”

And I went in the house.

Be a Hero

Obama, Pelosi and Reid tie a damsel in distress to railroad track
Won't someone save me?!

I am a child of the sixties. I learned at an early age that there was no danger, no threat, no villain that could not be defeated or foiled in thirty minutes or less. No matter how many and how ruthless the rustlers the Lone Ranger would always find a way to outsmart or out-shoot them just in the nick of time. No matter how powerful or ingenious the villain Superman, somehow, always foiled their evil scheme with no time to spare. And, regardless how huge the mess or dire the circumstances Samantha Stevens could fix it all with a magical twitch of her cute little nose. Ah yes, I learned at a very tender age that there was nothing to fear. Good would always triumph over evil. But, more importantly I learned that there would always be a hero or heroine who would swoop in at the very last second and set everything right again. Unfortunately, it is not so.

For fifty some-odd years, going on four generations now, we have been raised in a haze. Through television and movies, the fodder most of us grew up on, we have been slowly impregnated with a sense that somehow some way everything will work out. Some benevolent  hero or as yet unknown force for good will ride over the hill and save us from all the lowlife outlaws. All we have to do is hang on until our savior arrives.

Many of us thought November 4, 2008 was that day. We voted for hope; we voted for change; we voted with our emotions and ignored our own common sense. We bought in to political rhetoric and campaign slogans and abstract goals. We believed because we needed so desperately something to believe in. Many of us believed that the Obama Administration was our hero riding in to save the day. Few voters on that fateful day recognized or comprehended the power that a Whitehouse and Congress controlled by the same party would have, and now…..

Our government is out of control. We all, as well as several future generations, are laying on the railroad tracks and the train is coming fast around the curve. we hear the whistle; we see the steam and we can feel the vibration of the churning wheels on the track. We look imploringly about for surely our only chance is that our hero will race to our side, release us from our bonds and whisk us away to safety. But wait! Our hero is the deaf and blind train engineer madly shoveling coal into the firebox. What ever will we do?

For starters, we can recognize that we are not actually tied down. We only imagine that we are. All we have to do is rise up and stop the runaway train of government from crushing us under its iron wheels. This is a time for heroism. But, this sense of waiting to be rescued is not only childish it’s foolish. We must become our own heroes. We must contribute to our own future and the future of our country. And, not by looking to someone else to lead us but by looking within and choosing the direction we wish to go. A hero is someone who chooses to do the right thing when there is an easier choice to be had.

We all know right from wrong. we may disagree in the methods and means, but we know what’s right and what’s not right.

It is not right to saddle future generations with our debts.
It is not right to regulate freedom.
It is right to protect ourselves by whatever means possible.

Just over a year ago we asked for change. Now, it’s time to demand it. Our government will continue to take control of our lives as long as we continue to allow it. Never before have we had so many methods from which to choose to make our voices heard: make phone calls, write letters, write blog posts, post video online, attend meet-ups and meetings. You can make a difference. You can make your voice heard. You can be a hero.

The choice is yours. Stand up, shake loose the imaginary bonds before they become real, and take responsibility as a citizen of these United States. Or, lay there on the railroad tracks and wait to be rescued.

The time to choose is now. Which will you be, the hero or the damsel in distress?

Regards,

Tim Couch

With Aches Comes Wisdom

Man on sled in cloud of powdery snow
Yeah, that's gonna leave a mark

When we awoke this morning the CowChows lay under a four inch thick blanket of snow. Snow brings a peace and quiet to the world that is both soothing to the nerves and invigorating to the spirit. I found myself at once wanting to be outside frolicking in the snow and inside curled beneath my own blanket near a crackling fire. Throughout the morning I chose the latter. If only I’d been smart enough to stay there.

We were just finishing up lunch when I heard the tinkling laughter of children outside. The CowChows is nestled onto the side of a fairly steep hill, and through the window I watched as a couple of neighbor kids took turns on a sled. Their laughter, falling snow, the aroma of wood fire created a moment of nostalgia and a tiny voice inside my head asked, “How long’s it been since you slid on a sled in the snow?”

“They won’t want to play with me,” I argued. “To them I’m an old man.” But, the next thing I knew I was bundled up in my coveralls, boots, gloves, cap and shuffling out into the snow. I stood off to the side and watched, feeling every bit like the kid who wants to play with the other kids’ toys but is afraid to ask. We exchanged “Hellos” and they continued to play, and all the while the little voice kept urging, “Go ahead; ask them.”

So, I did. I asked if I could ride their sled. Their stunned silence lasted only a few seconds and then they explained it was actually a “Snow Boogie” and yes, I was more than welcome to ride it. I wanted to start from higher up the hill and as we climbed to the perfect place to take-off from the little dark haired girl explained the finer points of snow-boogieing including steering and balance and safety, and I pretended to listen.

At last I said, “This is it,” primarily because I was already winded. We turned and with the excitement of a child I took two running steps and dove onto the boogie sleddy thing. As I picked up speed the years fell away and I was flooded with childlike sensations and childhood memories. The cold pinched my cheeks, my eyes filled with tears, and I could not stop smiling. I was flying down that hill and going faster by the second. At some point, though, fast became too fast.

About halfway down I was sure I’d passed the speed of sound because I could no longer hear myself screaming. I wished I’d paid more attention to the little dark haired girl when I realized I was not going to miss my neighbor’s mailbox. Luckily, my shoulder absorbed most of the blow and it hardly slowed me down at all. I caromed off the mailbox, across the snow covered road and into the ditch where we had placed several large rocks last Spring to prevent washout. Somehow my Snow Boogie stayed under me and not only skipped across the rocks but picked up speed in the process. When my eyeballs finally stopped bouncing I realized I was headed straight toward a neighbor’s truck. Rather than be decapitated, I bailed.

The world became a blur of snow covered ground and snow filled sky as I rolled over and over and over. Thankfully, a hedgerow of thorny bushes stopped my tumble. I rolled onto my back and lay there panting, and as if drifting down with the snow I heard again the laughter of children. Funny how much different it sounds when you know they’re laughing at you.

Perhaps age will eventually bring wisdom, but aches will definitely do the trick.

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch