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we’re taking a break from blogging for a bit — hey, think of it as our gift to you: now you have a little less to read, which gives you a little more time to get outside and enjoy the spring!

[not buying it, huh? okay … we’ll be back.]

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merry merry

peace-2007aa

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get out the snow!

i know that what with the snow and ice and salt out there y’all have some “winter is finally here” photos to share. send your fave to us by this saturday, and if we pick yours for the new header, we’ll send you a care package of jeni’s ice cream. if you’re really good, we’ll even let you choose your flavors.

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and i’m not just talking about the 90 degree-mark and regular afternoon thunderstorms.

it’s time to get outside, and this weekend there are ways to do it with all kinds of people.

summer festivals are getting into full swing, and this weekend it’s time for the 35th annual greek festival at holy trinity – st. nicholas greek orthodox church. it promises to be an immersion into greek culture and food, where you can “experience a taste of greece through authentic, hand-made food delicacies, while enjoying the live greek music and dances.  Immerse yourself into the spirit of the greek taverns, get to know the culture that influence the world and expose yourself to the depth of religious ethos, which shapes our identity as greek orthodox christians.”

friday and saturday, you can head down to coney island for paddlefest — a two-day celebration of canoeing, kayaking, and the river that makes this area a great place for paddlers of all ages and stripes. it’s “the largest canoe and kayak festival in the Midwest,” and there’ll be races, music, kids’ activities, and a party at the finish line (serpentine wall)! we’re also pleased to see that (like so many other gatherings and celebrations), paddlefest is making efforts to go green.

for those who like their races off the water (like me), there’s the hyde park blast — a full saturday of outdoors fun on hyde park square. the day will kick off with the run/walk events, wrap up with bike races around the square, and be anchored all day long by the block party and kids’ events. and look, they’re going green, too! plus, a portion of registration fees and money spent at the blast go toward a number of charities, so your fun can be guilt-free. someone will be making her competitive debut in the kids’ fun run (although she doesn’t really know it yet), and if you look real hard and get there before too many laps, i’ll be trying to hang on in one of the hors d’oeuvre races. if you go for the bike races, be sure to stick around for the main course: the big boys under the lights at 8:30 — they know what they’re doing, and they’re fast at it.

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phriday photo

from the wednesday ault park bike races

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…right? Right?

Recently I received (via certified mail, no less) an assessment for back taxes, interest, and penalties for OH state taxes for 2006. As regular readers of this blog know, I wasn’t in Ohio in 2006 — I was in Minnesota, and had been for five years.

Needless to say, I was a little put out by this shameless attempt to scrounge for money by blindly billing people who showed up for the first time on the 2007 tax rolls for the previous year. Imagine my anger rising a bit more when I call the OH Dept. of Taxation and learn that I must prove to them that their assessment was in error.

Steeped in righteous anger, I drafted the cover letter for my packet of “proof” that I was nowhere near being an Ohio resident in 2006. Alas, I don’t really want the Department of Taxation auditing me every year for the next twenty years simply because I let my anger get the better of me. So I revised the letter to a more toned-down version, one that has a few digs but lacks insult.

And then I thought: Gee, I’ll post my original letter on our blog! That way, it’ll feel like I sent it, even though I didn’t. So, here you go: the letter I wish I had the chutzpah to send to the Ohio Department of Taxation in response to their unjustfied assessment for back taxes, interest, and penalties for the year 2006. (And if you happen to work for the Ohio Deptartment of Taxation, please remember that I did NOT send this letter to you.):

Dear Ohio Department of Taxation, Compliance Division: 

Recently I received an assessment from your office for taxes owed by me for the calendar year 2006. According to this assessment, I owe $X,XXX.61 in taxes, $XXX.28 in pre-assessment interest, and $X,XXX.26 in penalties, for a total of $X,XXX.15. 

May your office chair squeak incessantly and drive you slowly insane, and may all your appeals for service from the maintenance department be met with stony silence. 

Fortunately for me, I didn’t live in Ohio during the calendar year 2006, and so I could not have incurred Ohio state taxes during that time. All I can assume is that, in a clumsy ploy for additional state funds, your office went fishing for back taxes from people who may have moved to Ohio during 2007. A fine welcome! 

May your office mate, after a night of drinking cheap draft beer, order the 2-for-1 deep-fried chalupas for lunch from Taco Bell. May your office mate then close the door. 

Unfortunately for me, the burden of proving your office’s incompetence falls on my shoulders. 

May your superior suspect you of pirating software from the office computer, software pirated before you even began your job. May it be your burden to prove your innocence of this ridiculous accusation. 

Accordingly, you will find below this cover letter a copy of my 2006 Minnesota State tax return. 

May you have a nice day, and while you’re at it, may you clear my tax record to reflect that I do not owe back taxes, pre-assessment interest, and penalties in the amount of $XXXX.15 for 2006.

 Most Sincerely, etc.

 

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sometimes getting around and about entails getting in a car and leaving the city limits. and that’s exactly what i did over the weekend, as i headed northwest to do some big-box shopping.

and some not-so-big-box shopping, as i discovered that my primary destination — costco — does not open until 9:30 on saturday mornings. (whatever happened to running errands early in the morning?) unwilling to sit in the parking lot for a very long 30 minutes listening to npr’s fund drive, i decided to head east to sharonsville in search of the elusive gabriel brothers’ discount store. long a fan of tj maxx and marshall’s — although an ever-decreasingly satisfied shopper at said stores — i was interested when my neighbor told me about gabe’s.

and here i have to pause and wax rhapsodic about our neighbors. we were very sad when, the week after we moved into our new home, our young neighbors with a baby on the way put their house on the market. apparently they felt that 5 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths were insufficient for raising their new child; they were moving to the ‘burbs. (good riddance, we thought — i mean, ideally your neighbors will want to be your neighbors, will like their neighborhood. if not, well, then, yeah, they should probably move.) so imagine our joy when another young couple, with their young child, moved out of their condo in the gaslight district into the house next door to ours. they’re cool! they’re hip! they have a kiddo! and they are turning out to be fab neighbors — very sociable, very friendly, and very willing to dig up my much-hated boxwoods and transplant them to their own back yard. hooray, neighbors.

so when said neighbor told me about a great place to save money on quality items, i was all ears. “gabe’s,” she said, “is a lot like tj maxx. only ghetto.” and she’s right. it’s a gritty shop, with hand-written signs and not-the-cleanest-floors you’ve even seen (which meant i was right at home). but oh, the bargains! melissa & doug wooden toys for $3. kenneth cole bags for $3. (in case you’re not doing the math, that’s a discount of over 90% on just the cutest little pink bag you ever did see.) a great selection of women’s clothing from urban outfitter, anthropologie, and ann taylor, all at dirt-cheap prices. (a friend’s friend recently reported buying a TON of AT clothes for $5 a pop.) and these are not last year’s cast-offs, nor are they straight-to-discount-shop quality. so i’ll be back — and now that i know there’s a shop on beechmont, i may be back sooner rather than later.

because a girl can only travel to costco so many times in a year, you know?

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