Paperwork: Thinking about taxes, do lists, skating and this column

Lonny Cain

Musings ... or as my dad used to say, “The ramblings of poor lost souls” ... on this Monday, April 15, 2024.

APRIL 15 ... TAX DAY. I’m often amused by that early cry for our country’s freedom as tea was being dumped into the Boston Harbor. “No taxation without representation” was the battle cry. Well, we certainly have lots of representation now. Accurately we call them taxing districts. Government cannot function without taxes, fees, licenses, permits, and lots of rules. Party labels make no difference. I accept that, but when I add it all up and see what is left with what I earned, I can sympathize with that urge to throw something into the harbor. (More like a vent than a musing. Sorry.)

AS I WRITE this I take a moment to glance out my den window to see the annual splash of spring known as the dogwood tree. My red bud tree reminds me every year at this time of the annual trip I made to Battle Creek, Michigan, with John Whiteside, fellow reporter and longtime friend. We made that trip for years to visit an Air Force buddy who stuck around and the old base where they were stationed. I miss that trip and the stories that were repeated year after year. On the road John and I would talk shop. More than once he would push and nag me, saying, “Lonny, you should write a column.” He did and I eventually did. And he was right. It’s a magnificent way to connect to people. By the way, National Columnists Day was Thursday, April 18. If you happen to know one (hint), give him or her a hug.

I’M ALWAYS surrounded by to-do lists. They help but also tend to become clutter – on my desk and in my brain. I have a thought about those scraps of paper. Call it a suggestion for all you list-makers out there. Take a hard look at your list and highlight all the tasks that are things you really, really want to do. Versus the stuff that needs to get done. How many items will give you joy or a moment of fun or relaxation? I conclude this: at least once a week there should be a must-do list to look forward to. Call it the “me list.”

I WONDER sometimes if I could ice skate or roller skate again – with the spin and rock ‘n’ roll I used to have. Perhaps my bike-riding skills provide a clue. I can easily recall my bruised rib cage from the day I slowed down on the bike path to cross a small bridge. I needed to ease by a couple standing on the bridge. Balance becomes an issue when a bike is barely moving. I ended up between steel fencing and probing handle bars. But ... I didn’t hit that couple. I should have stopped and walked the bike. There was a day, you know, when I was king of the bike. I could pedal power forward while turning to look behind me. I don’t try that now. Yeah, I think my skating days are over.

OPENING GRAPH for a fantasy column I should write someday: “We all have personal problems, but help is on the way. Consider the following:” The entire column would be a list of self-help book titles for sale. I’d list as many as space would allow. Then I’d close with this final graph: “You might think I wrote this to be funny. But it’s not funny. In fact, I’m wondering why this list makes me feel so sad.” (Full disclosure: I own a variety of self-help books.)

End of ramblings. For now. Thanks for listening.

Lonny Cain, retired managing editor of The Times in Ottawa, also was a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet in the 1970s. His Paperwork email is Or mail The Times, 110 W. Jefferson St., Ottawa, IL 61350.

Have a Question about this article?