Today, I got this letter from the Santa Clara Department Of Tax And Collections. It’s a nice letter, but I think they sent it to the wrong guy. Even if he has my name.

I thought that it might be a good idea for me to give them a call and let them know that I am not who they want me to be. 

So I did.

Unfortunately, they are not taking calls right now, but you can leave them a message.

So I did.

During their message to me telling me to leave a message for them, they suggested that I go to their web site with any inquiries.

So I did.

On their web site, they suggest sending them an email with any further inquiries.

So I did…

Greetings! 

My name is William Kammerer. I just received a tax lien notification # 2########6, apparently on an unsecured piece of property somewhere in Santa Clara County. 
It was originally addressed to a William Kammerer at 
                                                     William Kammerer Co Inc
                                                     1229 XXXXXX. Ste 210
                                                      XXXXXXX, CA   9XXXX
The year and assessment number are   91-XXXXXX-1  and the amount is $536.67
I’m guessing that’s the year 1991. Is this something you just noticed?
I’m writing to let you know that I am not the William Kammerer you are looking for. I have never lived, worked, or owned property in Santa Clara County, although I have driven through there a couple of times. I think I may have stopped at a fast food place there once, but I couldn’t swear to it.  
It appears that the document was originally sent in July 2019, but was forwarded to my address last week (4/27/2020). 
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I would like to say, though, that it might be fun to know how you came up with me as the recipient of this notice. And my wife wants to know a couple of things: “Is it a nice property?” And “If we pay the $536.67 can we have it?” 
My cell number is ###.###.####. Our home number is XXX.XXX.XXXX. I would give you my wife’s cell number, but I really don’t need another piece of property. 
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Regards,
The Wrong William Kammerer

Victory Is Mine!

April 18, 2020

“Today.

Today is a day that will live forever in my mind, heart, and soul. For, today, I achieved a victory, not to be taken lightly. A victory so momentous, so stupendous, so unimaginably grandiose, that one would have to go back centuries – perhaps millennia – to find it’s superior or even its equal.” – The Very William H. Kammerer, Jr., Esq. (Not) April 18, 2020

Yes, it happened. And it was really pretty much a shock – completely unexpected.

It happened like this…

(Begin fade-in-dream-sequence music)

As we are accustomed to doing on any given Saturday afternoon, Judy and I exited our home to make our weekly trip to the grocery store. We had a shortlist of needs and planned to be out of the market within about 15 minutes to give us time to retrieve the take-out order of Spaghetti (for Judy) and Calzone (for me) from one of our favorite Italian restaurants. They, of course, are not open for sit-down business during this time of social distancing, but they are taking orders over the phone. 

In order to speed up our shopping process, Judy and I split the list. I went one direction and she another, agreeing to meet in the ice cream aisle when we had acquired our assigned items.

I was headed for the milk/cashew milk/coffee-mate section of the store when it occurred to me that I hadn’t yet had my weekly disappointment in the most popular aisle in any store since the current pandemic began…

Yes, the paper goods aisle.

As I approached that section of the store, I noticed the usual bare shelving units, completely devoid of even dust at this late time of the week. 

Except for waaayyy down at the other end of the aisle. Down where the paper towels are located. Except across the aisle from the paper towels. 

Where the baby diapers reside.

For some reason, I decided to take a detour and head that way on my way to where I needed to go next. 

As I approached the baby diapers, I looked more closely at the blue and white packagers (about a dozen, or so) and realized that they weren’t diapers, but appeared to be paper towels.

I stopped.

I looked a bit more closely because I didn’t recognize the brand of paper towels. 

I, literally, put my face to within about six inches of the package, trying to discern, purely out of curiosity, how many towels there were inside the package. We are accustomed to getting them in packages of eight rolls, and these seem a bit like a two roll package. I began calculating the price difference between the four packages of two rolls of this brand and one package of eight rolls of our usual brand (Bounty) and figured that the larger package was the better buy.

But something didn’t seem right. Something was off…

I picked up the package I was inspecting and looked at it more closely. I noticed that, If I held the package at just the right angle, in just the right light, and with just the right side facing me, there were more than two rolls of paper towels contained within. There were, in fact, six rolls of paper towels! But they were each only about one third the width of normal towels. 

My first thought at this realization was, “Boy, these are totally useless,” so I started searching for a description of what sort of function they could possibly serve.

I found things like, “Ultra Clean Care,” “Strong Cleaning Ripples,” “Texture Resistante,” “Papier Hygienique,” “Une Proprete Rafraichissante,” and “Debarbouillettes Jetables=.”

I was thinking, “What in the name of all that is Holy is this stuff?” None of this made any sense to me.

And then, just as I was about to place the package back on the shelf, one of my eyes – I’m really not sure which one, but one of them, for sure – caught some fine print that both of them had previously missed. 

I stood there, staring. Something wasn’t quite computing, but I knew that I had to be patient, if for no other reason than I had already wasted more of my fifteen minutes than was safe to admit to Judy, so I kept glaring at the letters assembled before my uncomprehending eyes, waiting for the correct translation of whatever language they were attempting to communicate in. 

And then, as if struck by lightning, it hit me! The letters were speaking English – and they were saying:

TOILET PAPER!!! 

I actually bobbled the package and almost dropped it to the floor!

How could this possibly be? Wasn’t toilet paper illegal any more? I mean, when was the last time you saw toilet paper in any store or online or in your bathroom?

Once I recovered from the initial shock of my discovery, I immediately ran to the ice cream aisle, where I found Judy. You should have seen the look on her face when I waved the TP in her face and placed it into the basket!! I could tell that she was excited, too, because she immediately asked me, “Where’s the milk?”

Victory Is Mine.jpg

 

 

Almost…

April 16, 2020

I almost shaved yesterday. I know I’m going to sometime. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon. And for the rest of my life…

A few years ago, Judy and I were driving home on Hwy. 41 when I noticed a tarantula on the upper corner passenger side of the window of the car. Judy rolled the window down to try to get rid of it and it got sucked into the car.

I continued driving and she was trying to see where it went, but couldn’t find it, so we thought it had blown off, outside the car.

A few minutes later, I felt something crawling up my leg under my jeans, and looked down – there was a lump moving up the inside of my pants leg…

Yep – it was the tarantula inside my pants. I quickly pulled over at the first opportunity, got out, ran to the other side of the car and jumped up and down while un-doing my pants until the thing (the tarantula, I mean) fell out onto the ground.

It really freaked Judy out and I wasn’t too happy about it, either. But it was super hilarious after it was over.

She doesn’t open the window to shake bugs off the car anymore…

Photo by Jean Papillon

Hearing Aids…

July 7, 2018

For years, the first word out of my mouth when addressed by my wife was, “Huh?”. This was usually followed by a repeat, on her part, of whatever it was that I didn’t hear the first time, and completed by the words, “will you PLEASE check into getting hearing aids??!!

This went on, as I said, for many years. More than a decade, actually. 

Then one day a little over two years ago, I decided that, maybe, I should have my hearing checked and I contacted the VA medical system to set up an appointment.

It was all pretty painless and after two visits – one to get tested and measured and one to pick them up – I walked out with a brand new pair of electronic ears. I commenced to wearing them over the next several days to get used to how they work. 

These particular devices are built so that they fit into your ear in a fashion that makes them almost invisible to the naked eye. AND you can control them with a device that hangs around your neck and connects to the aids via Bluetooth technology. 

AND that’s not all! you can also connect to your cell phone the same way! 

But, after a few days of wearing out the novelty, I stopped wearing them on a regular basis. Oh, I didn’t just let them rot for six months at a time, I would throw them on every so often when I could see Judy becoming frustrated with the word “Huh?”, but I kinda let them rest for weeks or a few months between required usages. 

As time went on and the TV volume grew in inverse proportion to my hearing ability degradation, Judy began to start moving further from the living room when I was observing whatever show I was enthralled with at the time.

I believe the camel’s back finally ruptured when I discovered The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. The show seems to fit in well with my level of sophistication but it is not a good match for Judy’s tastes. 

And there is the fact that, by now, the volume is up to about 79. 

Well, being the perceptive and loving husband that I am, I decided, yesterday, to give the old hearing aids another shot… 

I am happy to report that the situation has improved a lot since the day before yesterday! 

And today I figured out how to connect to both my computer and the TV! I watched a whole episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Judy couldn’t hear a thing!

Grawesome!!

With these little buds in my ear canals, I have the hearing of Superman! I can hear EVERYTHING!

And I mean everything. I can hear so much that, depending on what’s going on around us, I am now having a bit of a challenge hearing Judy when she talks to me…

So, what can I hear? I’ll tell you…

In addition to Judy’s voice and friends talking to me, here are some of the things I can hear with my hearing aids:

  • Dog talking to me
  • Flowers in the garden talking to me
  • Ants crawling on the sidewalk
  • Every breath I take
  • My heartbeat
  • Blood circulating through my veins
  • Me in my “outside” voice
  • Me breathing
  • My hair growing
  • My finger and toenails growing
  • Me scratching my head
  • Toothbrush – sounds like a train
  • Eyes blinking – mine and everybody else’s
  • Teeth grinding
  • Joints cracking
  • Everybody’s thoughts
  • Dog’s breathing
  • Dog’s tags jingling
  • Bird wings flapping
  • Electrons running through wires connected to outlets
  • Vehicles driving along three miles away
  • Cookies, chips, watermelon, crunching so loud when I chew that NOTHING else comes through
  • Ice cream melting in my mouth
  • People staring at me
  • Sunlight
  • Paint fading

The only time I can’t hear any of this stuff is when I’m actively connected to the phone, computer or TV. (And when I say “any of this stuff,” I also mean the human voice…)

Unfortunately, all of this racket is going to drive me nuts so I may have to use the aids somewhat sparingly. Or figure out how to filter some of this stuff out. 

But at least I can turn the TV volume down to zero…

And after taking the garbage out today, I’m really glad that there’s no such thing as smelling aids…

Living At Home…

August 29, 2017

Here I am, sixty-six years old, and I’m still living in my kids’ parents’ house…

Continued from part 5…

Or click here to go back to the beginning…

And then…

We emerged to this…

The last four hundred feet of the hike up Half Dome is pretty much vertical. You pull yourself up using cables. Unfortunately, those cables are not visible in this shot because, at that time, the rock was situated inside a cloud. 

2011-07-15_07-38-56_930

View from the bottom of the cables. This is what it looked like at 7:38 AM, July 15, 2011 when we arrived at this point…

 

If you look closely you can see the cables as a dark smudge looking thing running up the center of the rock.

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Here we are getting ready to go up the cables. Donna has a better camera than I do…

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Preparing to make the ascent up the cables…

Once we were all gathered at the base, we were ready to go up. (By the way, the reason I did this hike the first time is that I hate heights. I don’t like high places. I figure if God wanted me to like high places, He would have made me an eagle or a mountain goat. But He made me another kind of animal. He made me a chicken. I did it to conquer my fear of heights. I still hate high places, but I did get over the cables on Half Dome.)  

The trek up was uneventful. I didn’t faint, fall or throw up. Once we got to the top, we could relax. Here are some photos…

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Shawn letting everybody else know that he made it to the top.

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Somebody else let everybody else know that they made it to the top.

me halfdome 1

Man of Action letting everybody else know that he made it to the top.

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Every body letting everybody else know that we made it to the top. L to R: Nicole, Shawn, Man of Action, Megan, Brian, Lauren.

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Everybody else letting everybody else know that they are either very brave or very stupid.

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Shawn convinces Man of Action that he should let everybody else know that he is either very brave or very stupid.

At one point, the cloud began to dissipate and some pretty spectacular scenery began to poke through. Unfortunately, the camera couldn’t begin to capture the power of the moment, but here it is anyway…

2011-07-15_09-11-27_9

View of peaks across the way through the cloud.

Then the cloud dissipated rather quickly…

2011-07-15_10-02-47_742 2

It was right about here that the first indication that something was wrong with me made its appearance in the form of three major charley horses in my legs… 

2011-07-15_08-52-36_700

Breakfast time!

I managed to get the pain to settle down and go away. Walked it off. 

And then it was time to start back… 

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Headed back down the cables. This is the relatively flat part at the top.

The trip down the cables was also pretty uneventful, other than two people who had started up when we were almost down at the bottom who turned around and decided that the climb was not for them…

We reached the bottom and headed back down the way we came, passing a couple of rangers who were asking for ID and checking us off the list of permitted hikers. (In order to do the hike, the National Park Service has instituted the requirement that you register several months ahead of time and reserve the date(s). They want to limit the impact of too many hikers – not a bad thing, I think, and they want to know who’s body they are looking for if you fall.)

We all stayed together until we came to a stream. Shawn had a filter system, and we all filled our water bags. This is a good thing.

Then we all took off back to camp. After a few miles, I, as is typical for me, fell a bit behind. Fortunately Shawn stayed with me. I say fortunately because I would still be up there somewhere if he hadn’t.

Seriously. 

And that’s where we’ll pick up next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to start out by admitting something that has been rolling around in my head for a week or two.

For a long time, I didn’t think I was getting any older, and the thought that I was not getting any younger never made it’s way into my head. However, that has changed, and I am ready to go on record as believing that I am, in fact, not getting any younger. 

At first, I was disappointed that I was not aging in reverse, but after some consideration, I have decided that that’s not a bad thing, and here’s why…

When I thought about it, I realized that time only moves forward, never backward, and the only way one can expect to be around tomorrow is to move forward with it and get older. When you stop moving forward with time and, therefore, stop getting older, you die (not necessarily in that order). The only way that anybody who is younger than me can catch up with me in years is if I stop aging (die). I figure it’s pretty much the same for all of us – you included. 

Once I figured that out, I realized that failure to get younger is not a bad price to pay for waking up tomorrow. And once I realized that, I was able to embrace getting older with a modicum of grace.

Moving forward in age is actually pretty cool. It presents us with a whole new set of things to think about when making plans for down the road.

One of those considerations is retirement…

Some day, in the next several years, I hope to retire (it’s either that or work until I die, and I much prefer the retirement route for as many years as possible before I finally bite the big one – but that’s not up to me, and I’m working on being ready when the big one gets bit), and when retirement day arrives, I’m gonna need something to do with whatever time I have left on this Earth. 

Up till now I haven’t actually given much thought to how I’m going to spend that time. Oh, I have considered volunteering and hiking a lot. Take up photography. Find some other frustrated musicians and start a 60s rock band (60’s meaning our ages, not necessarily the brand of music we would play). The usual stuff, I guess. 

But as far as serious activity plans, just about nothing has come to mind. 

Until today…

Yes, today. And, as is the case with most of my best ideas, it came to me in the grocery store. This time I never even got to the checkout stand before it hit me. This time it happened in… 

… The magazine isle. Yes, the magazine isle…

Judy was looking at some magazines in the magazine isle, and I was biding my time (being the patient husband) while she perused through publication after publication. Waiting… Waiting… Waiting. 

After approximately two weeks of wait time, I decided that if she could peruse then so could I.

And so I did…

Peruse… Peruse… Peruse until –

 – Whoa! I had perused myself through all sorts of works having to do with how to have the greatest marriage in the history of marriage, how to have muscles in places that do not currently exist on your (or anyone else’s) body and how to acquire millions in the house flipping industry –  when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a nine dollar rag with my future right there!

Yes, my quest (you know – the quest upon which I had not yet embarked) had been successful, and all I had to do was to go to the grocery store! 

Oh yeah – and wait patiently. Good things come to those who wait patiently. 

I was astounded at how easily I had patiently waited my way to revelation! Seriously, folks, forebearance really works. We should all try it sometime…

Anyway, back to my story…

At the exact moment that my eyes landed upon this magazine cover I knew that my life’s plan had been revealed to me. One look at the guy on the cover and I was thinking, “Holy cow!! That’s me! That guy in the picture is my doppelgänger! This is what I am supposed to do!” All I had to do now was to convince Judy that allowing me to make the nine dollar investment required to obtain the document that I would use to map out my future retirement activity program and I would be all set…

It took some doing, but after agreeing to never again go shopping with her after we are both retired she permitted me to spend the money. 

And so I did.

By now you may be wondering how I am going to spend my golden years. Well, here it is…

 

 

What to do on my permanent vacation

 

Yes, that’s right! I am going to become a modern day pioneer! I have already started reading up on skinning and selling furs and searching Craig’s list for classic guns and powder horns and leather leggings and jackets with fringes hanging down everywhere and other great backwoods companions! (I already have a couple of cowboy hats so I figure I’m off to a great start!)

I think I’ll probably start small on the “furs” thing. We have a couple of squirrels living in the back yard, and I can practice on them when I get my musket, slug making gear and Bowie Knife. 

Man, I’m totally stoked that I have finally found my true calling in life! I only wish it had come to me three or four decades sooner! I could already be living the good life climbing every mountain, fording every stream and following every rainbow until I find my dream… (Hmmm.. I wonder if there’s a song in there somewhere… Nah – it would never catch on…)

Anyway, I have bids in on ebay for some bear traps, whiskey and a fur hat for Winter trapping trips, and I want to make sure they don’t get away so I am going to sign off. 

But just one word of advice before I go. 

Guys, If you’re not the patient type when you are shopping with your wife, you may be missing out on opportunities that might not come your way again. Make the occasion a time of searching for that one thing you are missing in your life.

You will probably find it in the magazine isle…

 

 

I’m down a few things with six strings..  Bummer.. At least nobody got hurt, so I’m good…

After the fire... One guitar left, but all family members are still here, including Max...

…The Flag Was Still There…

The one thing in my office that didn't burn - there were three of them and they all survived.. A firefighter stuck this one in the wall during mop up...