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Howdy Folks,

Well, I am sure that Shirl has already told you of purchasing the original Max Ginsburg oil painting used on the cover of GOLDEN LADY, her first novel. Max does good work. I have to admit that it is a beautiful picture, and it is the second painting of his we own and have hanging in our dining room. The other is the original painting of her third novel, CAPTURE THE SUN. One more of Max's painting and we'll have to take out a second mortgage to hire a full-time security guard and fly Max in from New York twice a year to conduct guided tours and give art lectures.

Still, the GOLDEN LADY painting is special to the Redhead and fortunately can be written off as a business expense since it was used to make digital reproductions for the ebook version of the novel. Not so practical, nor expensive, as another purchase the woman made. She consulted me about the painting, but she didn't bother about this one. First inkling I got of that one was when the two truckloads of guys showed in front of the house and began digging trenches in the front lawn.

Of course, I went outside and asked them courteously, "What the hell do you clowns think you're doing?" The one guy, who had a snout like a mole, said, "Installing a lawn sprinkler network for a Mrs. Shirl Henke." When I charged into the house, there was Shirl sitting calmly in her office. "Well, yes honey, I hired them to install a sprinkler system. And I had them checked out first, too." I told her, "For god's sake, woman, you don't need an expensive in-ground system. Unfortunately, I am still above the ground, but I can and do move the sprinkling hose around. Feeble though I be, I still manage that."

Shirl said, "But, honey, there are brown places in the grass." I have to admit that by this time I was shouting and "mole snout" was peeking in through one of the office windows to see if murder was being done...or maybe he was looking for grubs to eat. I bellowed, "Jeez, Shirl, we just had the worse drought ever recorded in the St. Louis region and the records go back over a hundred and fifty years. Certainly, there are brown spots on the lawn." But Shirl replied with her usual impeccable logic. "Well yes, honey, but with a sprinkler system there will be fewer brown spots. And stop and think. We can write the new oil painting off entirely as a business expense. And we can write off a portion of air conditioner and furnace repairs and updates as part of our office-in-the-home expense. We can even write off a portion of roof repairs as business expense. Soooo...we just write off a portion of the sprinkler system as a business expense!"

By this time, I was not shouting any more. I was beginning to weep and I noticed "mole snout" had called over a couple of buddies to watch the show through an office window.. I tried to explain. "Shirl, reproductions taken from the painting will be used as cover art for your ebook version of Golden Lady. As for the HVAC repairs and roof work, the IRS is kind, tender, and loving and they do not want you to work in the heat or cold or rain. So they allow you to reasonably maintain your business space."

"But the lawn leads right up to window of my 'business space'," she pointed out, all reason.

I think I began to weep more copiously. "But you don't write, edit, or format your ebooks on the lawn, Shirl. Even the IRS is not kind, tender, loving or stupid enough to buy that one! Also, I doubt you can use a photo of a sprinkler system as a book cover."

Shirl doesn't give up easily. She was thinking, which is always dangerous. "You know," she murmured, "the sprinkler control is actually on the wall just outside the office. We could extend...."

I was sobbing and I had to sit on my hands to keep them from wrapping themselves around that redheaded heifer's throat. I looked over to the other office window. Now our mailman Mike had joined the audience. Somebody must have been selling tickets out there. "Shirl you can't extend the sprinkler system into your office. There is so much electronic stuff in here you could electrocute...." I had to stop, mortified at my own shamefully horrid thoughts. Good grief, how could I have contemplated that for even a moment? I could never allow the possibility that one of the cats could wander into the office and be electrocuted!

So Spring is upon us. And soon the team of NASA-trained technicians will be here to start up and program the sprinkler system that cost more than both of those original Ginsburg paintings combined (and Max's work ain't cheap). Soon the grass will be as high as an elephant's eye, the earth worms will grow to the size of small anacondas, the mole's will become the size of large beavers, and maybe the buffalo will migrate from the Yellowstone to graze. And who will manage all of this? You guessed it...JUNGLE JIM!

Why didn't I marry a blonde?


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