Astronomy Picture of the Day

Monday, November 29, 2010

Numbers

Numbers are funny things
having meaning to humans alone.
No animal or plant counting out
One, Two, Three.
See you at Four, Five, Six.
Give me Seven, Eight, Nine.
I need more,
Less,
Count me back the change.

We attach different meanings to numbers.
Like saying it took a whole one year,
Three Hundred and sixty five days,
Twenty Four Hours,
I ate One whole pie.

Can you see
Twenty Four Hours
as One Revolution of the Earth,
and One Year as one trip around the Sun?

We go quite far each day
While feeling like we are standing still.
The numbers help guide us
We follow them,
Follow them we will.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Potatoes really are different

Potatoes really are different.
Even among potatoes, there are many varieties.
We buy our seed stock from Fedco in Maine, US. They have the best descriptors of
the finer points to really choose that potato experience.
fedcoseeds.com  (look for moose tubers)
Dad wondered why not just plant the one we like the best.
That is a problem.
Because we like so many of them, differently.
This year we got some rust but it was not under the skin. Otherwise pretty good yields.
Our shopping list for seed potatoes:
All time favorite white keeper: Kennebec.
All around red keeper: Red Pontiac (don't keep as long as Kennebec)
Nice red skinned potato: Romanze-yellow flesh
Most unbelievable red flesh and taste: Adirondack Red.
Must cook a deceptively long time: All Blue-very good taste, pretty blue color.

We found an Internet recipe for crock pot potatoes. Mostly cube them, put butter in the pan,
some whole garlic cloves, some chopped onions, some water. Cook all day and then add some milk and mash at the end. We had an assortment of potatoes and the flavors blended nicely.

And like most produce, the potatoes you grow, truly are different as well.
Well worth the effort and research to find the right varieties for you.

Final Chapter

The final chapter decided to be, well, the final one.
I promise not to go on and on about it any more.
There could have been many more chapters. There could have been emails and I could have posted the response from the town fathers. In fact I promised that.
But I find myself spinning stranger than fiction living yarns
and the more that is said, the more disbelief by the reader.
That is no way to tell a story, a believable story.

There will be nothing more said except when I twitter a one liner to show the universe my fight is still alive. My story,
a book to be put on a shelf labelled, Monkton Scandal.

The future holds the answers as to how the tax farmers of 2050 will rake the victims. The future knows how many might have owned land, but for extraordinary circumstances, they suffer the
cold and callous hand of the tax ferrets of 2100.

My battle lost and surrender complete.
This subject must stop.
Let the universe correct any wrongs.
The girl is tired of fighting.
Potato review next....

Friday, November 26, 2010

Chapter Three

Something kept me from posting Chapter Three. I tried a couple of times and it didn't work so I stopped.
It was a sign, perhaps.
I knew I did not want to post all bazillion emails I sent to the town, the town's lawyer, the newspapers, secretary of state, politicians, governor, and myself. I wanted to post the 2 responses I got, one promising to send me proof I was contacted (never received) and an apology from the lawyer who had a conflict of interest but still made $1,000 while we did not have Christmas that year. But I cannot.
Suffice it to say these things happened. And if you do not believe me, seeing the letters won't convince you anyway.
The data I wanted to post were all mysteriously hijacked by adobe and un-paste-able in these posts.
No, it is not like the dog ate my homework.
It is indeed more of the mystery of the stranger than fiction reality of property tax lien sales.
Hard to define, explain, track down.
Impossible, it seems, to reform, call attention to and correct.
The German ancestors crying in their sleep about the dollars wasted here being mined or milked by taxmen, lawyers and carpetbaggers.
Can someone wake and see the tide of incivility where a quaint little town like this sleepy camelot might threaten a girl's property and not see fit to talk to her, know who she is, what she is fighting?
It all sounds so unreal that I know I risk losing more readers to games, shopping, or baking cookies.
So Chapter Three will be short and sweet. A promise of more data as I can collate it,
and other experiences to demonstrate my demands for reform every day that I live on this travelogue of life.
mary gerdt, monkton, vermont

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Paths

I took paths,
Right and Left,
Up and down,
Through, around,
Into, out of,
This Way and
That Way and
Not that way or this way,
And somehow,
I ended up here,
and wondered,
Why?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chapter Two

So I sat down to proceed. My mind has been searching for the right words. Like veins of thoughts. They go this way and that, meandering along and merging sometimes or dividing from other thoughts.
I reviewed all the emails in the folder I labelled
Monkton Scandal. I suppose to label it what is was. After I got over being stunned (see posts on sprachlos), and angry,
I started just thinking.
Science was always my favorite route.
Establish the known.
Identify what is not known.
Search for truth, a formula, an explanation, justification.
Then look for validation, replication with experimentation.
I thought for sure the paper would send me a copy of the ad. It had my name in it. I thought they might think, wow, 9 months late is a little soon to be selling the girl's place? They gave me a run around or something. I gave that one up early on.
Back to truth searching.
I got the town reports and began a spreadsheet of all the property liens sold by the town of Monkton since  the new policy in 2004. It was strange. Only 2 sales had been recorded. Many were up to 5 years late and were not even making payments.

I tried to put the spreadsheet here but will work on that one later. Suffice it to say for now, in about 5 years 2 sales occured:
one for $1455 and one for $163.

And this year I compiled these snippets of the minutes I could access:

Snips of Monkton,VT Selectboard Town Meetings.



March 9, 2009,

First meeting of new 5 member town select board.





“T. Cunningham asked about tax sales of properties, as mentioned at the Town Meeting on 3/3/09 by Delinquent Tax Collector Roderick Burritt. T. Cunningham suggested a lien be placed on any subject property immediately. J. Phillips mentioned that a lien may spur action by the homeowner. The Board discussed this issue in some detail. P. Norris mentioned title searches being made by lawyers. T. Cunningham asked if properties in duress have mortgages on them. No action taken “



March 23, 2009





“g- Delinquent taxes: there is a supra lien on all delinquent taxes by the Town of Monkton. Therefore, it is not necessary to file a lien the land records. The Delinquent Tax policy should be reviewed and updated. Peter Norris will review and make proposed changes to present to the board for the next meeting. “





April 13, 2009



“Delinquent Taxes are still about $88,000. Rod Burritt has indicated that he would like to come to the Select Board to see about starting Tax Sale proceedings. “



June 8, 2009



“Informal Report on ANAC Status. Stephen Pilcher attended a meeting of the Agricultural and Natural Areas Committee and gave an informal report of their progress. The ANAC committee has two ongoing projects, one which has completed the application process and one which is waiting the results of the state budgeting process. Both projects are being coordinated by the Vermont Land Trust and seem very beneficial to the Town of Monkton. “



Mary’s notes.[I believe I saw the minutes where Stephen Pilcher attended ANAC committee and was talking about tax sales. Those minutes are no longer posted and Stephen Pilcher’s name does not appear in the ANA C meeting minutes.]





June 22, 2009



“Delinquent Taxes. The Town of Monkton continues to have a large amount of delinquent taxes due. The Town is currently owed $76,000 in delinquent taxes. Rod Burritt, the Delinquent Tax Collector, will start the process of putting delinquent properties up for tax sale starting July 1st. “





September 14, 2009





• Tax Sale - This will take place on October 13, 2009.



October 12, 2009





• Agent to Deed Real Estate Appointment - Motion to nominate L. Stephen Pilcher as Agent to Deed Real Estate was made by Peter Norris and seconded by Anne Layn. This motion was unanimously approved “



October 26, 2009





Review of Tax Sale

The Town of Monkton conducted a tax sale on October 13. Four parcels were sold and each was sold for more than the amount of delinquent taxes, interest, fee and cost. The Town of Monkton will hold the excess amounts in four separate accounts for the benefit of the property owner. “





November 9, 2009



“Review Minutes of October 12th and October 26th Select Board Meetings. Review of minutes postponed until next Select Board meeting. “



November 26, 2009



“Review Minutes of October 12th , October 26th , and November 9th Select Board Meetings.

Minutes of previous Select Board meetings are always available in Town Hall. They are posted

at the Select Board desk and also filed by the Town Clerk. Motion to approve October 12th

minutes moved by Stephen Pilcher, seconded by Peter Norris. Motion approved unanimously.

Motion to approve October 26th minutes moved by Terry Cunningham, seconded by Stephen

Pilcher. Motion passed unanimously. Some discussion of the curb cut process mentioned in the

minutes. Stephen Pilcher to write an email to Mike Bayer about the issue. Motion to approve

November 9th minutes moved by Stephen Pilcher, seconded by Terry Cunningham. Motion

passed unanimously.”



January 11, 2010



“Review of Delinquent Tax Sale

Several properties were not in the tax sale due to a conflict of interest with the Town Attorney. The Town Attorney also only included lots where more than $2000 in delinquent taxes had accrued. The Town of Monkton Policy for Payment of Property Taxes and for Collection and Payment of Delinquent Taxes which states that “typically property will not be included in a tax sale, until at least $250.00 in total delinquencies have accrued”. The Delinquent Tax Collector is requested to find an attorney that does not have a conflict of interest with the remaining parcels including those parcels that were not included in the original tax sale because they fell below the attorney’s $2000 threshold and to hold another tax sale. “



January 18, 2010



“The next topic was Delinquent Taxes. The Town is currently owed

$132,000 in delinquent taxes as of December 31st 2009. All of these monies are budgeted to be

received by the Town since all parcels which are not paid will be sold at tax sale.”



March 8, 2010



(note: No minutes posted in February 2010 at all.)



“Review Minutes of February 22nd Select Board Meeting. … Minutes of the February 22nd Select Board were approved with amendments without objection.”





Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Faith

Have you got enough faith?
It is a question we ask ourselves.
It is the name of a song on Guy Forsyth's unreal and awesome 2 CD live New Year's eve show at Antone's.

It is a question dying people ask as I know from tending people in the ICU and other scary hospital places.
Some people never get the chance to question faith.
Is that enough?

Mom said she felt like her Mom was looking for faith too late, while anticipating dying from a heart attack, while on the way to the ER. That is why Mom went to the church she said.
I thought it was to pay back the milk and utility bills the church paid after I was born.
I believe I told her that as well. I felt a give and take expectation with some church concepts.
My faith evolved from looking at all religions as freedom of self exploration, tradition,
cohesiveness, bonds.

Sunday mornings still I remember a glimpse of getting up and getting dressed to go the the church on the block. The singing, prayer, sermons and food and social opportunities made it a pleasant experience.
My faith now rests in myself and my hope the people in the world can just start letting each other live without expectation we should change.
My faith still is that many are capable of extraordinary kindness.
My faith has always been, that Mom had so much faith more than I did. Her ability to navigate her tough life raising 7 kids and then health issues and now gives me faith we can gain strength in adversity.
Have you got enough faith?
Mary


(Guy and CW have new Christmas CD...Link below to Guy's site to order.)

guyforsyth.com

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chapter One

“The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly”

Abraham Lincoln

This is the beginning. After I run through posting my one solar year of correspondence, I will let you know how the town ruled.

Apparently my first letter was an email to the local paper.
Here it is, Chapter One.

11/19/2009
Hello,


My name is Mary Gerdt. I read your paper regularly online.

I did however hear a rumor your newspaper printed one or several legal notices in the Pay newspaper to sell some or all of my Monkton property at a tax sale. I am eager to see what this looked like and what they were selling. Also how many times and dates of publication.

I was never noticed about this in any way. My husband, wishing to protect me, paid the bill but the damage to my reputation remains, without my knowing.

I wonder how any of you would feel if this happened. I do not want this in the newspaper until I better understand what happened. Could you send me an image of the legal notice you posted? Are you aware that a town may sell your property without so much as a courtesy call?

And publicly humiliate you by publishing "tax sale" after being 9 months arrears when others seem to have 5 years of back bills.



I am searching for truth and wish no more public posting of my name without my knowledge.

Sincerely,


Mary Gerdt


[note added today, 11/20/2010: We have never seen the ad and the paper never sent us the ad.mg]

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Which 251

There are 251 Towns in Vermont. It has become very clear to me today that it depends on the town you live in, how sensitive the Town Fathers are. My research came from my year long quest for truth about tax lien sales, due process, 5th and 14th amendments & Vermont's mysterious statewide locally administered property tax
My quest has culminated in complete and total surrender.
In doing so I am freeing myself to release publicly correspondence I have had with the mostly male Town fathers.
But first I want to prime you. If you find this all too tedious, go back to bedazzled.
I found this paper online by a wonderful historian and he explains the property taxation
during the Romans times up to present day. This is a link and I found it helped me understand what they did to us.
http://www.law.indiana.edu/ilj/volumes/v75/no3/alexander.pdf
Fair warning to Vermont property owners:
You may be living in a town, where in as little as 6 months late paying your property taxes, the town can sell the tax lien, and your bank could pay the tax lien and foreclose. You will be subjected to paying the town's lawyer fees to take your property, and advertising, fees, penalties and up to 8%  of the tax goes to the tax collector.
The town does not use income sensitivity and can pick and choose what to sell.
The article above does talk about due process and the fact that people can challenge
local towns when due process and fairness are not followed.
But the reality, girl, is that the town does not have to tell you. Your name is second on the deed, right?
The town does not have to give you due process.
So I decided to avoid paying the limitless costs of court battle.
It would be the only way to challenge the final decision by the town fathers.
There is no board or centralized State office who hears appeals about town fathers.
The citizen must file suit. With an attorney, that costs 10k and up. Without an attorney,
doom. Either way a potential to aggravate my MS.
Town wins. Girl loses.
Now I will post over the next span of time, an argument that did not work in this town.
In fact it is weird that the town felt such hardship in 2009, that they would have to sell our fourth generation farm after being 9 months late. This action forced us to suffer irreversibly, completely.
A violation of our trust that people can be kinder than necessary when they see someone suffering.
The article above points to "Tax Farmers" of Roman times. I can envision them raking someone for money.
Also he describes the "Tax Ferrets" of the nineteenth century and the tax collection policies of the 1930 depression.
So if you opt to read the documents I will publish, you may formulate your own opinions.

This is the letter we sent to the town. I edited out some of it but kept the core.
The following is our argument outline of why we believe we should be granted tax abatement.


This explains what we want abated. It states the core of our argument. After the outline will appear comments we believe have merit.
1. Request for Abatement of all Property taxes we paid to the town of Monkton in the year 2009 and also any Fees, Penalties, Interest, town lawyer’s costs and costs we incurred related to Monkton tax including but not limited to:
a. Delinquent 2008 VT & Local Property Taxes, interest, fees, etc: $8,473.68 which was paid after town threatened sale.

b. VT & Local Property Taxes 2009: $4121.83

c. Total of $ 12,595.51.


our property taxes owed in 2009 was 28 percent of our household income.

We understand there is income sensitivity with VT property taxes.



We have faced extraordinary circumstances that make it difficult for us to meet our tax obligations.

Mary was never notified by the tax collector of her being delinquent, nor of her being threatened by a tax sale. Mary wrote the town lawyer and the Monkton select board to get information about what would have been sold and ask how the town attempted to inform her about the tax sale, copy of the ad that Fred and Mary paid for but never saw.

She has not received any of this information.

We have a history of paying our taxes on time and regularly since

becoming owners in 1993.

The farm has been in this family paying taxes in Monkton for over a hundred years.

We have suffered losses, extraordinary challenges, costs, health issues and stress.

Please consider our requests.



Additional comments which we believe are necessary to express:

We feel that we were subjected to a tax sale in a discriminatory way.

We were singled out and treated differently from almost every other tax payer who has been in our position of delinquency of less than 1 year.

One selectman said the town attorney decided which properties would be sold based on value. This is contrary to the policy which states any property owing $250 or greater. There are concerning notations in the select board minutes leading up to the sale like one asking how many delinquent properties have mortgages? Why is that relevant?

The timeline for the Monkton town officials participating and conducting the tax sale, and events leading up to the tax sale are suspicious. Per the minutes, The Conservation committee discussed tax sales in July with a selectman.

John Phillips did send Mary the list of delinquent properties and the policy.

It was impossible to figure out why there was 58 properties late and only 4 were to be sold. It is unclear in the minutes if any property was sold. It is unclear when tax sales have been held since the new tax sale policy in 2004. There have been many properties listed for multiple years late. How can that be if we were 9 months late and threatened with a tax sale?

What was offered in the way of making payments? Offer of abatement per Vermont law? Ultimately, What was the Town of Monkton going to sell?

Comments from Mary alone: I am a landowner and successful taxpayer on this farm since 1993 or so. I have paid my dues so to speak. I have been verbally attacked in the town office by a town official. I do not feel comfortable there. Some will say it was Fred’s responsibility to tell me the Town was selling my property so the bank would foreclose and then they could be rid of me. I thought that too for a minute. That is all.

I deserved to be notified myself, Me, Mary Gerdt, by the Town of Monkton tax collector who decided along with a select board and a lawyer to take my property. The responsibility to notify a landowner must rest with the town.

This relates to the law of real property.

I know the law of land ownership quite well and I know a signature is required from me to take my property and sell it. Even if I am a woman, a wife. No town official approached me or had a sheriff serve me or nail a note on my door. The conservation committee knew about the sale and yet Mary did not know about the sale. This coincided with land deals on abutting property that we both were not notified about. Mary read the minutes but could not tell that her property was up for sale.

It did not make sense. Mary did a spreadsheet of all the properties sold. It does not make sense. Mary has emails to and from the select board and town attorney. Mary still has not seen an accounting of what the tax collector did to notify her/them.

So we both write to the Monkton Board of Civil Authority with pleading for tax abatement and hopefully leaving you with questions to ponder.

We believe the tax sale policy should be revisited to include income sensitivity, consideration of hardships and applied consistently, ethically and fairly.

............more later.mary gerdt

Monday, November 15, 2010

Late Beets


 Fred is still pulling beets for willing recipients.
Cylindrica, our new favorite variety, is getting even better as the fall
winds down. The colors of beets are richer (? is that the word?) when freshly pulled in November as opposed to earlier. We were happy we planted late and skipped one weed and bug cycle.
Fred washed them in our rack outside and they sparkled. That is real food,
fresh from the ground. I have canned my fill this year and we still have been simply
(just a spray of oil) & roasting them in foil in the oven or on the grill.
The carrots are getting bugs  but sweet still.
Too wet to get to the brussel sprouts but will as soon as possible pick those.
We keep thinking we will be done some week but it keeps going.
Can't kick late beets.

Still sprachlos re:
How people can be like cattle?
They can stand there, chewing their cud, or gum or the side of their mouthes,
Once in while lick their lips, maybe belch, pass gas.
Do they know it looks like they are participating in the moment?
Watching me, is it a message? What do they see?
How do they see me?
Would they have voted for me?
Would even a beef vote for me?
If they all 12 vote exactly 100 % not with me, does that make their positon right?
If I had a sack of grain, would all these beef vote for me?
more spater....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Karma Chameleon

Karma
seems to change Colors,
sometimes,
Right before your eyes.

Sometimes it is invisible,
A silent sort of revenge,
But never doubt that Karma can,
And does,
Get back again.

I sat upon a blanket blue,
Karma sat down beside me,
I said, can you see me now?
Karma said I am blinded.

I sat on a red carpet of hate,
Karma acted like he didn't notice,
Next thing I knew, I slipped and fell,
Karma gave a poultice.

I sat and marvelled at the mountains green,
Waiting for Karma to make a scene,
The dust it settled,
Leaves were fallen,
Nowhere was Karma seen,

Then I saw him move, invisible,
The color of what he sat on,
Karma came to pay me back,
He was Karma, Karma, Chameleon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Music for Thursday

A friend shared this video that she got from Janis Joplin's FB page.
Really worth watching.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Time is funny

Time is funny,
You know what I mean?

So much to do
So much to be seen.

Not enough time or killing time too,
And Trying to take time out for you.

I don't mean funny in a ha ha way,
I mean a strange perception,
That Changes by the day.

Some days drag into oblivion and then,
Some days seem to pass before they even end.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Music Appreciation 201


Meg Peterson wrote, "Music is food for the soul, communication at its highest level. And participating actively in its pursuit is what lifts life out of the mundane into the magical. This is what I wish for you."
So this is Sunday, a traditional day of rest and reflection. Across came this video of Levon and their fantastic entourage. For more, try them out in person. They may be in a town near yours.............

Friday, November 5, 2010

Stick Season

When I moved to VT, it was about right now or so celestially speaking.
It was the beginning of Stick Season when
The Green Mountains are brown with some spotty evergreen trees.
This picture shows a very mild March day.
Still the sticks look like today, November, all dead looking.
Hard to imagine it all lush and green again but so goes the cycle.
Also that first year,1981, it was really hard for me to comprehend what the Green Mountains really looked like in summer. I was anxious to see, between stick season and snow on the ground until May, just what Katie had told me, what a beautiful place.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Face in Space?

Sprachlos again about Property taxes-obscene I tell you. More when I can gather my tattered thoughts.

Face in Space?
Hoping for a Green Light tomorrow.
STS-133
Come on along...
I signed up in June and all the sudden looked up at the paper that confirmed my facial image is going up with the second to last shuttle.
It's that old take the bad with the good kind of day.

http://faceinspace.nasa.gov/

Regrets to Brian and Paul's campaigns...a well fought battle

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tomorrow the work begins Again

The Politicians have offered their pitches and promises,
Tomorrow the work begins.

But, instead there will be a party,
a celebration or consolation.

At the end, pumped up supporters will fall exhausted,
down to the ground.


Win or lose,
The Politicians, sleepless euphorics, still buzz with the vibration
of all their monetary adoration,
a compensation, a self affirming confirmation.

They kissed the babies and bad breathed housewives,
They courted supporters, promised away their lives,
Cut the tax, Raised awareness,
Fights for apple pie, Mom and fairness.

At the end of that long election day,
The politician breaks down, on his knees to pray,
Prays his promises will not be broken,
That his constituents mind be aptly spoken.

So do not forget your promise, politician though you are,
Tomorrow begins the work,
Again,
the end
so far,
so far.