Erin's Journal

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Just a thought... Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature. [Gerard de Nerval]

Tax Deadline Eve. This is a time of year that brings a familiar sense of dread - no matter whether we now have someone else doing it or have wised up to the software that makes taxes so much easier - and we never quite shake it.
 
We talked about taxes with one of our tour guides in Amsterdam. He says there, in The Netherlands, the government has all of the citizens' numbers; people just sign in online, sign off on the numbers and send in whatever the government is owed (if they haven't already paid it). Makes great sense (to me) although, in our case, it would never work with freelance, etcetera.
 
The fellow we spoke to said that the exact same ability exists here in Canada and in the US (where he went to university) but, of course, everybody would be all up in their Constitution-decreed arms about the gub'mint having their numbers. Whatever. I'm all for keeping it tidy, above board and as simple as humanly possible.
 
Poor Rob's been up to his eyeballs the past few weeks trying to keep several stacks straight, both on the table and in his head. My shift from being an employee for so many years to strictly gun-for-hire has had its challenges, but he manages. He uses software and even helped our octagenarian neighbour to switch to StudioTax, a free program, after he went to visit and saw her with paper, pencil, great big eraser and that familiar stressed-out look. It makes you wonder how many other seniors just haven't taken that step yet.
 
On the other end of the age spectrum, I still hear of many younger folks who just haven't done taxes in years. It seems they miss one year and that rolls into another and another, until the fear of reprisal (and financial penalties) becomes this great scary monster that no one wants to face. If only that first step towards finding the receipts and just paying what the government is owed could be taken! The relief from stress alone is worth the price.
 
It hurts to see people feeling so far behind and so very hopeless. What can we do to change this, as a country, do you think? How do we go about offering, if not amnesty, then certainly leniency to help young people to get back on track with their contribution to our country's operation?
 
I can't end today's journal on that note, though. I have to talk a bit more about flowers, as they tie in with this time of year so very perfectly. When we were living in Leaside, Rob would take the odd break and sit at the table and look out at a magnolia tree that stood alone in the backyard.
 
Every spring he knew that tax time was approaching by the size of the buds as they prepared to burst into blossom. Just a little gift to take the edge off of the pain of writing a cheque we would undoubtedly be sending out when his careful toiling was done. I think to this day he still has a bit of a stress flashback when he sees magnolias getting ready to bloom. Luckily for us, they've come and gone already where we live.
 
Now at this time of year, I look for lilacs. A house around the corner from us in North Saanich has a tree that is bearing their blooms already and every time I walk Molly, I take a few timid steps into the driveway, check for bees and then cup a handful of blossoms and bring their sweet fragrance to my nose. I inhale deeply.
 
That is a smell I will always associate with Ottawa. You see, between May 11 and 19 four years ago, we were there making arrangements for Lauren's first (of two) memorial events. We wanted to make sure, you see, that her and her husband's friends and co-workers, as well as fellow recent radio grads, could come and remember her with us.
 
But when the reality of making plans for something we should never have had to hold to begin with became just too much, Rob and I would step outside of the Hulse, Playfair and McGarry Funeral Home and go across the street. There, we could take solace and hide our tears as we walked with our heads, not bowed in sorrow, but raised in gratitude for the sweet scent of lilacs everywhere.
 

North Saanich, BC

 
For that reason alone, those flowering trees will always mean so much to me. Rob chooses not to take in their powerful perfume, but it's my time to be in Ottawa again, as I will be in just over a month. The lilacs will likely be gone by then, as will May's riotous tulips, but I won't be going for the flowers. Not when a grandson awaits....
 
Have a lovely Monday and I'll be back with you here tomorrow as we wrap up April with a story of a gentleman - who obviously wasn't!
 
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