I'm no Martha Stewart.
I started out the New Year with a pot of burned red beans.
What I should have done is put on a pot of black-eyed peas.
But I didn't.
I put the dried beans on to cook, then sat down on the couch and started reading Fannie Flagg's novel "Welcome to the World, Baby Girl."
Fannie is the author of "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe," which I'm sure you know about.
Anyway, while reading I dozed off for a bit, then settled down on the couch to rest my eyes. Next thing I know I wake up to the smell of something unpleasant.......scorched beans. I jumped and ran for the kitchen.
My Guardian Service pot was blackened from top to bottom, inside and out.
I tried getting the smell out of the house, but it wasn't until the next day that my house smelled like its old self.
That's how the New Year started.
That was the bad news.
There was good news, too.
Remember a few months ago, I told you that the Internal Revenue Service wrote saying I owed them $81 in back taxes for 2009?
I sent the $81 to the IRS plus penalties.
Then I got a letter saying there was a miscalculation. I didn't owe $81. Instead I owed $135 plus penalties. The IRS had made changes to my return that corrected this error, they said. As a result, I now owed $214.77. The IRS had added a failure-to-file penalty of $135, plus a failure-to-pay penalty of $10.75, plus $14.02 interest charges.
And they wanted the amount immediately to avoid additional penalty and interest charges.
So, reluctantly, I sent it.
Now you're probably thinking, this doesn't sound like good news.
I haven't gotten to that part yet.
I talked to my local tax man and told him I thought the penalties were out of line.
I was going to have to pay the same amount for penalties as I was for the tax owed.
That didn't seem fair, I ranted.
"Write the IRS a letter," he suggested.
He said I should explain that I am a law abiding taxpayer on a fixed income.
Well, I guess like most women, all I really wanted to do was vent. I hadn't considered writing the IRS.
But, then, I reconsidered.
I wrote and asked that they remove the penalties, that I wasn't trying to fraud the government, that I paid my taxes.
And that I thought the penalties were excessive.
That was last August.
Now for the good news.
A few weeks later, I received a letter from the IRS saying they would consider my request.
Then, before Christmas, I received the good news.
The IRS was pleased to inform that "your request to remove the penalties has been granted." The letter said also that I would receive an adjustment in a few weeks.
Then just days before the New Year began, I received a government check for $154.13.
Just in time to pay off my Christmas expenses.
At least I'm starting the New Year on a good note.
I hope you are, too.
Hope you enjoyed your black-eyed peas, cornbread, and hog jowl.
Happy New Year, everyone.
May all your news be good this year.