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"Doing our taxes!"

Once upon a time, O Best-Beloved, I lived in a little cabin in the great big woods of Alaska with my mother and father and sister and a whole lot of stuffed animals. The cabin was small, and had a loft and a downstairs and a wood stove and a table in the kitchen and a couch and some other furniture, but was mostly just one little cozy room. And every year, Mama and Dad would have to do taxes!

This procedure involved a great many pieces of paper, all spread out over every available surface, or so it seemed. The calculator, a fascinating device that plugged in and had glowing red numbers and a great many buttons of uncertain function, was brought out and made to do interesting and arcane tricks. There was muttering and occasional cursing, and invocation of My Full Name (for, given that this was Alaska, I was in receipt of oil dividends, and therefore had to pay taxes at the tender age of four).

Mostly I stayed out of the way and played with my stuffed animals. I got out my Tinkertoys and stacked the green and yellow windmill fins in piles on top of a box, one atop the other, shuffling them and disorganizing them and occasionally noisily pushing them all to the floor! Old Cat, my favorite stuffed toy, sat next to me, stoically watching the whole process.

"What on earth are you doing?" Mama asked.

"We're doing our taxes!" Old Cat and I explained.

Mama did her taxes a bit quieter after that.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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