As April 15 nears, it seems a propitious time to think about my annual report, to review my ways and means in the waning fiscal year.
In an effort to bring order to chaos, I have separated receipts and canceled checks into little piles on the dining room table. There are the usual categories, such as Fines and Penalties, Personal Improvement, Dogs and Cats. In addition, I have devised two others: Hedonistic Indulgences and Sweet Mysteries of Life.
Hedonistic Indulgences could have been designated Transportation, since it includes such items as a boat, a Raleigh bicycle, ice-skating lessons and a Persian carpet. It could have been called Escape. In review, it would have to be said that Escape got top priority in the Year of the Rat.
My boat, the "E. B. White," is about as small, at eight feet, as a boat can be. Size notwithstanding, it proved an old theory: Its cost, $50, was exceeded by its upkeep. Paint, line, oars and oarlocks came to $49.47, plus $1.05 for the letters to spell its name. Not included is a bottle of Scotch for the fricnd who brought it home from Maine, attending a wedding along the way, with the boat tied to the top of his car. Looding back, the "E. B. White" has given me the greatest pleasure.
I still have not decided where to put my new typewriter. It looks good under Personal Improvement. I think it belongs under Escape.
Acme Camera Shop took more of my money last year. This I attribute to more Points of Interest, more Scenic Overlooks visited in 1978: the rockbound coast, schooners in the fog, a seal as seen from the mail boat, the Public Garden as seen from the Ritz, Jackie in front of the Avalon, Kay in front of the Avalon.
Checds to the Division of Motor Vehicles indicate that I had to replace my driver's permit on two different occasions. This should go under Fines and Penalties, but when I look at the photograph on the latest license, I know I will categorize it Personal Improvement. My face has a look of softness to it, a quality the Division of Motor Vehicles is not generally noted for. Actually, I accomplished this by moving slightly when told to sit still.
Concerning Sweet Mysteries, I suppose a Public Notice is the only way to solve them. There are checks written to Betty Fisk, Delmas Clark, Jack Umphlett, R. B. Coach, Elmer's Sanitation, Ronald Shirk and Thelma Hill. I think either Betty or Thelma sold me something at a tlea market. Elmer's must've carried something away. Ronald Shirk could have done a lot of things, and none of them good. The rest must have had to do with firevood or car trouble.
As to car trouble, check No. 196 to Carmel Church Exxon evokes memories going back many years. The Carmel Church-Ladysmith area of Interstate 95 is Virginia's Scylla and Charybdis as far as I'm concerned. My car can hardly get by there without breaking down. The last time it happened, I had a vision, sitting in the warm October srn with a nimbus of gnots around my head watching a draining radiator. It was a vision of a luxurious resort hotel right next door with peacocks in the gardens, bridle paths, hot tubs and saunas. There was a revolving bar on the top, where you could stare wistfully across the scrub-pine landscape in the direction of your destination.
A check to Ed Lewis Termite Control went under Dogs and Cats. "Killer Ed" rid my house of an invasion of fleas. The dogs did not get new collars for Christmas, an oversight. I haven't owned a cat since the last one ran away at the age of 20. However, some expense was involved in boarding up the base of my cottage after an undomesticated feline appeared from a hole under the bathtub.
In the Year of the Rat I bought more books, went to fewer plays, lost more glasses. I also stepped outside the circle, got my feet wet, and went an extra mile. None of it was cheap.