Thursday, November 16, 2017

IT'S NOT MY TIME ANY MORE

I know that I have mentioned that getting organized and my work - job work, house, and club treasurer work - done was much easier when my husband went out to work.  Monday to Friday was basically my own time.  I could do all my work in a couple of days if I wanted and relax the other days (never worked out that way though) or work a bit every day (more like most of every day) and so on. 

I was/am self-employed so I have no boss to answer to.  As long as I get my job work done by its due dates and accommodate my clients with times that are convenient for them, I could decide when to work at my job.  This still applies, but I have to deal with husband and what he wants to do and work around that.

We share a home office - sit at desks across from each other - so I miss sitting there and making telephone calls for any of the various types of work I do with no one watching me, listening to me and often telling me what I am doing wrong, as well needing to make him at least mute the TV (I taught him to have the TV on while doing things, so this is my fault I guess) so that I can hear who I am talking to on the phone and they don’t hear Capt Picard loudly talking in the background (he keeps the TV on rather loud, to say it politely).  I end up making telephone calls from bed instead, balancing paperwork and/or alternate PDAs on my lap so I can talk on my cell phone and still easily consult a calendar or bring everything down to the kitchen to use the table and still have to juggle what I am using.  Even worse, there are calls I have to make that I don’t want him to hear and he doesn’t want to hear (mostly the doctor to make appointment for us as he does not like to know in advance) and to correct problem related to same.  He commented to me that I had to make a couple of phone calls, in reference to picking new medical insurance for me for next years, and I pointed at a stack of papers - spread out in smaller stacks - and told him - “yes, as soon as I make all these other calls that are ahead of them”.  A discussion followed on the problems I have making telephone calls - the above and also the fact that we spend too long outside every day running “errands”.  I went a bit too far and had to apologize as I made him feel really bad - and I didn’t want to do that. 

We wake up late (and stay up late) which is a problem and I am worse than him at this as I am used to waking up slowly and alone.  We go out for lunch - despite my telling him before he quit his job that life is not a continuous vacation and we can’t eat out all the time - because he likes it and our lunches at Wendys cost no more than lunch at home - maybe even less.  Now, if we went and ate and left that would be okay, but we sit there and watch CNN on the TV, well he does, I sort of hear it above me while I watch a European sports channel on the TV at the other end of the room.  Then if it was up to me, we would go home, unless it was the day to food shop or some other needed errand.  He does not want to go home and therefore we spend time in stores “Where can we go today” walking senselessly around the stores.  We spent 2 hours yesterday buying food items to make dinner because I had mentioned a dish he used to cook and he decided to make it (I was trying to talk him into cooking).  He could not find the kind of cheese he needed...

Now this week I had a bunch of problems hit me at once.  A client I have had a problem with her credit card processor (I am sure I have mentioned this).  I had called and dealt with it while she and I were both away.  This week she is home and I need to go to her for the regular monthly accounting stuff.  I had been told that the amount which was credit to her account was about $500 less than the sale that was being credited.  So I telephoned on Monday (after the discussion above about telephones) to find out the breakdown of charges taken out - I was going to reimburse her for any fees resulting for my error and was told the amount I was told before was wrong and only the monthly fee that had also bounced back had been charged.  I let out my breath - I didn’t have $500 to give her and was glad I did not have to.  But, I was told, it looks like a sale she made is being held.  Huh?  It is a much larger sale than she normally makes and they need information to pay it.  I got a list of the info and planned to get the info when I went in to her this week.   I telephoned her Tuesday about it - she had telephoned me while I was out about it also.  She had a telephone call that there was a problem with the sale - she was positive that she would never get the money for it from the processing company and there is a problem with IRS about it - because I had filled in a form wrong when she signed up with this company.  Huh?  She gave me the name and phone number of the man who called and I must talk only to him according to her - his number was a switchboard and she had no extension number or department name.  I left a message with customer service at the number to call me.  Today I called the department I spoke with about the sale on Monday, hoping it was the same department although a different phone number and the woman I had spoken with, very nicely tracked down how to contact him.  I spoke with him and he needs a simple form.  I know I did not fill in the original form and will deal with her about it.  Tomorrow I will take care of all this, hopefully, when I go there.

I missed this month’s meeting of my embroidery group as we were away. Next month’s meeting is being led by a member and kits or part of kits and own material are needed for the meeting.  It was mentioned at the meeting I missed to the members and a list was made for her to order for members.  It occurred to me that not everyone was there who might want to do the project next month, and I contacted her about my sending out an email.  I then did so with her info.  The person who ran last month’s meeting, then sent me additional info about the supplies and I sent out another email to everyone - this one, for some reason, bounced back from one member because of what it said(?).

Our reenacting unit is doing an event midweek next week for a school.  Suddenly the school needs paperwork - some I have to get from 3rd parties - including an invoice.  We are not sure if the event will be on one day or the next (in case of rain the first day) and we are having trouble getting members who can come midweek.  So I had to call the unit’s insurance company for part of the paperwork , do a form from IRS, and write 2 invoices (one for each day, just in case) and get them out. 

Oh yes, the medical insurance I need to pick and sign up for?  Well, after my call to the doctor on Monday I decided which one to take and we started to sign me up for it on the computer.  Despite the fact that the signup period started November 1, the computer sign up was not yet working on November 11 and would start on the 15th (today), so we still have to go back and sign me up. 

If my time was own as it used to be all this would be so much easier.  Of course in addition to all this, I have had to reconcile bank accounts for us, our business, and both clubs, pay bills, juggle money in the bank so bills could be paid, plus all of the housework I could do.  Due to weather and the fact that on Halloween when we went away, the recycling had not been taken, I put out 5 weeks of recycling this week.  Similarly we had not been able to put out garbage last week - and the office garbage does not go out every week, only if the pail is full, I put out 5 bags of garbage for one pickup, instead of the usual 1.

Tomorrow I will drive for at least an hour, ride a subway for 15 minutes, then ride subway back 15 minutes and drive home for two - three hours (in is off peak, home is rush hour - sort of, 3 pm is rush hour these days) after working for 3 hours at client and it will not be fun this visit as I have to resolve the problems and make her understand what is going on with everything.  Well, at least I get away from husband for the day and get to drive.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK -

One has to work with the time one has.  Limits put on one’s times by someone else are just one more thing which has to be dealt with.  Problems are not something which can be foreseen and planned for.  We can only do what we can do. 

Oh, and husband just came down and told me he made a sale on his online business and now, at 1:25 am, we have to get it ready to go out - and I do the paperwork.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

I HATE THE AFTERMATH OF TRIPS

Just in case anyone was wondering - after a week my head barely hurts if I touch where I hit it last week.  ( I mean if I touch my head where it was hurt, not the board I hit it on.)     My dad, a man of great wisdom, would say - “If your head hurts when you touch it, then don’t touch it.

The worst part of a trip, to me, is when I come home I have to do everything I didn’t do while away (and, of course, things I didn’t do before we went away).  Husband never understands this idea.

We are pretty good at emptying out the RV when we return home - I have a system.  There are two plans for emptying it, the regular plan and the “its raining and we can’t bring it all in plan”. In the normal plan, I start packing stuff and husband becomes a beast of burden running it all into the house.  I am basically working in sections in a circle around where I am standing in the RV. First is the refrigerator, followed by food in plastic boxes in the cabinet. Husband will unpack the refrigerator items into the one in the house.  I shut off the refrigerator in the RV and put a thick towel under the freezer section just in case any ice buildup melts and drips.  (It does not have a separate freezer section, but a “cold” box as refrigerators did in “the olden days” - like the 1950s.  Ice cream purchased in the evening will be soft ice cream when eaten at 2 am - cold soup beyond that. I take the batteries of the refrigerator thermometer and its remote read device.

The towels are added to the laundry bag of clothes and when the bag goes into the house it is tossed down the stairs to the basement.  I pack the clean clothes (we always over pack - doesn’t everyone) and bring an extra day or two of clothes in case something happens to something we are wearing while away and we need to change clothes unexpectedly, they go into the other laundry bag and go by the stairs in the house so they go up the same night.   Jackets, sweatshirts and such are taken in loose.  Shoes are put into supermarket/Walmart shopping bags to be taken in. 

Husband will take various laptops and other devices into the house in a couple of trips. Similarly he will take in my embroidery holder. The “last minute bag” is pulled out from under the bed and the items removed from it go back into it. This trip we also pulled toothpaste and such as we don’t want to leave them in all winter - we did that the first year and they did not survive well.
                                   
Any items we purchased while away and stored inside the main part of the TV are brought into the house and left on the table to be sorted and stored. (Hey, I just noticed that sorted and stored are anagrams - the same letters rearranged - is why they go together so well?)

On the “third seat” (seat behind the front passenger seat) we have a pocket with a folder in it which holds papers we pick up during the trip - tourist handouts, maps, local tourist magazines, and such, as well as magazines we brought from home to read - they go in similar bag to the shoes. 

Assorted spare eyeglasses (reading, sun, etc.) that are needed and/or kept elsewhere are removed from the glove compartment as are the snacks I keep in the front door map pocket in case of a glucose low for either of us while in transit. In there is also the coupon holder from our car (if I need, for example, tissues while away, why shouldn’t I have the coupon with me to use) and the travel related coupons we brought with us. My old Palm and Blackberry cell phones which come along for the trip for other features of the phones have to be removed also.  The EZ Pass (to pay tolls electronically) is removed from the windshield and stored away. 

The various curtains in the RV are closed. The lights are shut off and the RV battery is shut off.

Between trips with items I had for him, husband has removing items we purchased and stored in he back of the RV (technically under the head of the bed) and adding them to what is on the kitchen table in the house.

I stop and get the mail from our mailbox on the way in.  If it is a short trip and we did not stop the newspaper (yes, I still get and read a newspaper) I will bring them in also.

If it is raining - the food and stuff in the last minute bag go in and not much else unless it is needed.

Now I enter the house kitchen .  I have to sort what has come in - food which does not need to be in the refrigerator goes on the counter.  Food that goes in the refrigerator should already have been put there by Robert.  Clean clothes, laptops & similar, mail, shoes, and such are put on the stairs or adjacent to them to be taken upstairs.  Jackets and such are put in the front closet - or at least over the post at the foot of the stairs in the front hall.  And the pile of stuff on the table.

The stuff on the table has to be sorted - stuff to go upstairs, stuff to stay in the kitchen/dinning room, stuff for the basement, stuff for our studio - or the garage workshop.  I sort them into shopping bags and try to at least get them into the room they belong in - or hang them on the door knob to outside if the item goes outside. 

But of course this is just the first step.  The next day I will have to go through the mail- shred the junk mail, pull out and check bills, collect bank statements (if any) to reconcile, magazines to where they will be read, and so on.  We will also go to the Post Office and pick up the mail which has accumulated in our box there, which also has to be sorted.

Food in boxes will have to be stored - I tend to do it slowly and use what is in the boxes.  They are basically snacks so I use the cereal which was not used on the trip instead of storing it away, use the tea bag from the ones I brought with us, etc. 

Since this was our last trip of the year that we will make with running water in the RV, I said to husband that I presume we will winterize the RV this week - he said we could wait.  For those who might not understand this, in areas like this where it can get close to freezing and below it, the water pipes and valves might freeze and break.  So we have to run a non-toxic anti freeze, made for this purpose for RVs and boats, through the water system.  This keeps it all from freezing, but also means that we cannot use the system as that would be adding water which could freeze back in the system.  Well, the not so cold weather we were having and were to have is to change by this weekend.  So the winterizing must be done this week. 

In addition, we needed a small closet type shed to keep our snowblower in by our side door.  (It is currently in the garage workshop and not only does it take up room, but if it snow we have to shovel our way to the garage and clear a path in front of the garage door so a shed near the door would be very good to have.)  Last year we waited too long to buy one - they have to be assembled above a certain temperature so that plastic gives and bends and does not break in the assembling.  Husband kept forgetting to order one from a well known home store and finally decided this was it.  We wanted to order one to pick up at the store.  The program would not let us as it said the store already had “one”.  So we went to the store.  It took about an hour and a half for them to find the shed, get someone to take it down from the top shelf (maybe 20 feet or more up), us to take it to the register and pay for it (well, husband did while I got the van), have no one come to help us load it, realize the box inside the sealed plastic was soaked, find the assistant manager again, get the other one (yes, per the computer they had one, but actually they had two), and get someone to help us load it.  It then sat in our van on the driveway until we could assemble it. 

Monday was too cold, Tuesday it rained.  (And of course we went and voted Tuesday.)So today we assembled it - mostly.  We had to get the huge box out of our van - we managed to push it so it was in the rear of the van (behind the back seat) and on a work stand and unloaded.  Today was already getting colder so we took all the pieces into the garage and turned on the hanging space heaters to keep the plastic pieces warm and pliable.  We moved our car to the curved part of our driveway, then backed the RV to the spot the car normally is so we would have room to work.  Somehow we were able to assemble most of the shed.  Husband then got ill from bending over, as he does, and had to go in and go to sleep for awhile.  I finished getting the roof ready to go on - screwing parts onto the inside of the room, putting things into the body of the shed to hold the roof in place, putting the handles on the doors.  (The doors were about the worse part of the assembly except...) When it was all done, I went and woke husband who after about a half hour more, was able to come out and we put the roof on - yay!  The last thing which had to be done and is a problem is two metal bars have to be slid into the roof and across into the sides to hold the front end of the roof on - we got one in, then gave up and will try again tomorrow as it was getting colder and dark. 

Remember he said that we don’t have to winterize this week when I said I assumed we were going to?  Tomorrow we will be winterizing the RV.

Luckily when he said that we would be doing these “little chores” today and tomorrow, I managed to write checks for all bills due out on Friday and figure out how much we have to transfer into checking to cover them - it is all finished and sitting in my “out” box for Friday.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - When going on a trip - even a short, relatively local one as we take - try to be as caught up as possible before the trip.  Try to plan when you will catch up on bills, other paperwork, unpacking, laundry (I am doing a week and a half’s laundry tonight and tomorrow night), and such, when you return.     
           
For those who are Veterans or who are still on active service, Friday is Veteran’s Day here in the U.S. and is a holiday for many of those who live in the World War II allies countries (Armistice Day, Remembrance Day...) as Saturday is November 11, I thank you all for your service to your country  - whether the U.S. or other.  For those of you still on active service, I wish you a safe tour and return home. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

TRIP WENT AWRY - AGAIN

We have not been on a trip really this year as each time we planned one, something happened.  We traditionally go away for my birthday and planned to be away for 5 days for it.  We were to leave on Monday and return home overnight Friday to Saturday.  Once again our plans went awry.  A huge nor’easter (for those not from the U.S. this is a MAJOR wind and rain storm and is considered a winter storm, even though it does not involve snow) was to hit us Sunday through Monday.  Luckily we had not made reservations at the RV park in advance - this time of year the parks are usually not anywhere near full here in the northeast U.S. and since we go midweek - we avoid the possibility of the park filling with weekend guests - as well as avoiding the crowds that come to the Pennsylvania Dutch country. 

When we going on Monday we planned to start packing the RV on Sunday night with plenty of time on Monday to finish doing so as we would not be in a rush.  I made up the bed in the RV last week to have it done in advance - I pull the blanket and sheets over the pillows to keep them free of dust.

I have a checkoff sheet that I keep in the computer and print out each trip to make sure we don’t forget anything. The check off sheet includes a section on things to be done in advance - making the bed, filling the water tanks, checking supplies such as toilet paper, tissues, paper goods, soaps & paper towels, and so on.  Then there is a section on personal items - clothes, shoes, jackets, my embroidery - I don’t list the clothing items individually as we know what we need in clothes.  I have a food section as we bring items for snack - soda, cracker, water, cereal - and on longer trips I will bring soup, peanut butter and bread - just in case.  We have never used the latter, although one lunch time in a bad rain storm we came close.  There is a section of electronics to come - laptops and such.  There is a section of paper items to bring - coupon holders, directions, reservations (I actually keep an envelope for each of our regular trips for reservations, coupons and other papers I want to bring).  There is also a section of what to do before we leave - unplug the washer, turn off the dryer and stove breakers, take out the garbage when we leave.  And, lastly, there is a section of what needs to be done when we return - what not to forget in the RV when it is unpacked, turn off the refrigerator, lights and RV battery, and related matters.  Very organized -right? 

We were planning to go to a farmers’ market on Tuesday so we had to be out and on the way early (for us).  I packed the RV Monday night except for our “last minute bag” which has things we need the night before so they cannot be prepacked and my laptop computer.   Our plan was for me to call and make a reservation Tuesday morning just after 9 am as the RV park office opens at same.  I called.  I got a message telling me the office opens at 9 am - at 9:10 am.  I left a message to call me back and we kept going.  Husband was upset about what would happen if there was no RV space available.  I pointed out that he keeps telling me the RV need to be driven; he was looking forward to going to the farmers’market, and I wanted to be away for my birthday (if you have not calculated - this is Halloween - there is much less of same where we were going than at home).  I told him that at worst we would have had a day trip and accomplished all 3 things and would come home that night.  We left.  When we leave I direct him to back out of our driveway using walkie talkies.  We also use these for me to direct him into the space at the RV park.  Since it was Halloween we wanted to make sure that the house did not look too different as if we were away, so when he was out of the driveway, I drove one of our other cars into where the RV usually sits - and then ran and got into the RV and we were off.

Along the way - around 11 am - I finally was able to make reservations, although not for any of the spaces we prefer - and so far this trip 2 of the 3 spaces we prefer have remained empty and the 3rd was empty tonight.  The trip down was actually better than most  - much less traffic.  When we got to the farmers’ market it was freezing - or at least it felt so to me.  I had on 2 sweatshirts and wished I had brought gloves.  I had thought of treating myself to ice cream
for lunch for my birthday - there is a stand at the market (actually they are at both markets we go to) that always has a crowd and the ice cream looks yummy, so I thought I would go off my diet and have it for lunch - I planned this last year and the stand was closed.  This year it was open, but I was so cold, I could not imagine doing so.  We went around at the market and then had dinner (mine was free as it was my birthday) took a walk around Walmart (as we normally do) and went to the RV park. 

Being level is very important in an RV  - or doors will not open or will fall open and one is uncomfortable.  One problem, while driving today on the trip here, I realized that we only had one walkie talkie - the other one I had left in the car at home when I moved it!  I waited until we were in Walmart to mention it to husband and quickly suggested alternatives - including buying a  pair of walkie talkies in Walmart (which is why I told him then).  We decided we would deal with it by using our cell phones.  The only level spot we could find in this space was on an odd angle - which we would have to duplicate the next two nights when we came back at the end of the day.  We then settled in for the night. 

I checked email on my (this laptop) and unpacked the last minute bag.  Then we went to get ready for bed.  The bed in the RV consists of two bench seats which face each other and two pieces of wood which slide between them and then the bench seat cushions are rearranged into the bed.  I was kneeling down to store the laptop and some other items under the bed (the center which would be the aisle between the bench seats is used for storage) and as I bent down towards the bed - WHACK!!!  I slammed my head into one of the insert wood pieces.  I figured out that I had not pushed it all the way into position between the beds, so where I thought was an open space or wood covered with cushion - was the wood.  Owwwww! We checked and there is no bump or bruise.  I checked for signs of concussions - none - I made sure to stay awake for several hours to make sure.  Tonight, 24 hours later my forehead still hurts if I move the muscles in my face a certain way or if I (or husband who of course does so often to make sure I am okay) touch it. 

It was so cold that we had turn on the propane to run the propane furnace in the RV.  We had to be very careful and many things could not go where they normally go at night and that nothing flammable was near the furnace.  We made it through and should not need the furnace tonight (there is alternate heat down to 40F from a heat sink in the air conditioner).

I then took our medications to take and to replace in our pocket pill boxes to take today.  I forgot the over the counter vitamins and such that the doctor has I take - they are either sitting on our kitchen table or my dresser at home.  Oh well, at least we have the prescription medications.

Unfortunately all of this mess is becoming more and more common when we take trips.  No matter how organized and prepared we think we are - we are not.  Well, somehow we always deal with what needs to be dealt with.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

Mistakes happen.  There is nothing to do but go ahead as well as possible.  No matter how much I try to figure out in advance what can happen and what to do - something else will happen and will need to be dealt with all one can do is one’s best.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

A QUICK TRIP AND I CAUGHT UP ON MY PILE OF STUFF TO DO

Well, I had a bit of a chance to catch up this past week.  The pile on top of my desk which has to be done before I get to the folder of things to do, is down to scanning in articles from various issues of a magazine related to reenacting that I convinced my husband that we don’t need to keep in full.  Much of these magazines are ads for items related to “the hobby”.  There seems to be 3-5 articles of varying length that he wants to keep.  He has gone through the magazines and circled in the table of contents those articles he wants.  I am scanning in the articles here and there as I get a chance - luckily they are not in color so they scan a lot faster. 

We did go away for the day last Saturday to the state sheep and wool festival.  We have never been there before.  It went as our trips go.  The ride there was suppose to be 2 hours.  Husband printed the directions from Googlemaps.  He also turned on the GPS app in his cell phone.  They did not always agree.  The road both sent us on for most of the trip is a picturesque limited access road that curves around and through mountains.  It was so curvy that husband was getting motion sickness, even though he was driving.  We were pretty sure we could not go home the same way as he could not deal with the curves again - especially in the dark with no street lights.  When we were towards the end of the trip there the two sets of directions varied from each other.  The Googlemaps version had us get off the main road sooner than the GPS.  We decided to go with the GPS and stayed on the road.  All of a sudden the GPS froze.  (We eventually figured out that there was no cell service there!)  Now we had a problem.  As we kept driving and tried to remember where the GPS said to get off the road, I saw a sign to the fairgrounds we had to go to and we exited the road.  10 miles to the fairgrounds and no further signs appeared.  I had out the Googlemaps directions and kept looking for roads that were listed on it.  We were approaching one and I had to calculate quickly - turn right or left?  Luckily I guessed correctly and we turned right and not much further on came to the road the fairgrounds were on.  Fair was okay - not a worth a trip back in the future.  (Very limited weaving related items - other than wool, of course, which we could not afford - and weaving items were why husband wanted to go.)  Talk about disorganized - I noticed that people had a small booklet with map and vendors in it.  I walked back to the gate and asked for one - I was told that they hard run out “3 hours ago”.  This means that 3 hours into the first of two days of the event (which ran 9 hours the first day) they were out of their handouts - not good planning to me.  After we drove to a, yes, another Golden Corral about an hour from the fairgrounds and vaguely on the way home.  Dinner was another bust and I will not bother you with the details unless someone writes and asks.  Now we had to get home.  I looked at the (paper) map and found that an Interstate road near the restaurant headed in the general direction of home, that connected to another major road and that just left figuring out how to get to one of 3 bridges after those two roads to get us home.  I have a mapping/GPS program in my other laptop (the good one) which I had brought with me (I generally take it on trips for something just like this) and I am able to find a place by looking at and moving the map and then adding a start, end, or via point there.  I did that with several points so that the route would stay where I wanted it and it had no problem getting us home.  It was much a quicker trip home than the one getting to the area and straight road - no curve after curve.

Just for fun - and my luck, I did get a mailing from Equifax that I am, of course, included in their latest security breach.  I tried to find out how to do all the things I need to do with them as a result, by mail as I will not put my information online and don’t trust doing it by phone.  I sort of got an answer from their recorded info phone line and have sent in to them about this.  Now I will also send in a request for husband as our credit info is mostly joint.  Then I will be calling Trans Union and Experian to do the same with them.  And I have such a unique name that I have been sure that I am the only one with it in the world - now there may be many of me if my identity is being used by others.  What will happen to my 843-850 (it varies some months) credit rating now?

I wrote the newsletter for my embroidery chapter in only one afternoon - first time since we changed to this new format I was able to do so, it was common before.  One member’s email is suddenly bouncing back and she did not return my phone message, so I mailed her a printed copy and asked for her new email.

I am packed, my laptop is charging, and I am going to a client tomorrow.  I have written checks for bills to go out in the mail on Friday.  I have calculated how much I need to transfer from savings to checking to pay the bills and have cash for a trip next week (we hope).  The needed papers are in my “Friday errands” envelope.  I have a deposit slip with these papers as I am due to get a check from my client tomorrow and will deposit it Friday also.         

Laundry is in washer.  First load about to go to the dryer when my cell phone alarm rings that it is time to go down again.

I did so well that rather than take a shower tonight in a rush at the last minute and go to bed with wet hair, I was able to take a leisurely shower before dinner.  Ahhhh.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

Work at what is piled up little by little, try to keep more from being added and there will be less left in your “pile” of todos. 

I know my stack of todos will be piled up again soon - especially if we take a short trip next week - but sooner or later it is gone again.

Don’t eat all the Halloween candy - and check what your children eat before they do.  Have a safe Halloween.

                   

Thursday, October 19, 2017

TRIP OUT OF STATE FOR DINNER

Last Thursday we finally took a trip to Golden Corral in Freehold, New Jersey.  Now, if you have never heard of same, Golden Corral is a chain of family oriented reasonably priced (depending on the location around $14-$15 for adults).  It is not a destination restaurant.  But, there are none near us and the two restaurants here from a similar chain closed over a year ago - and this is one of the two closest ones to us.  This is not a cheap trip - in addition to gas it is over $20 in tolls round trip.

I am not sure if I posted about this when it happened, but we tried this trip in July and ended up spending 5 and half hours going and coming with no dinner.  We had gotten stuck in traffic and the anticipated hour and forty minute trip (per the GPS with traffic considered) ran a bit more - we had been driving for 4 hours and for the last two hours had steadily been half an hour from the end of our trip sitting in traffic.  What finally turned us around and sent us home was the fact that by the time we got to the restaurant it might be too late for dinner and there were warnings that the occasional showers due late night, were now dangerous thunderstorms, hitting within the hour with two tornadoes so far and we were sitting in traffic in the open.  So we had worked our way off the road and turned around and spent an hour and a half driving home.

What does this have to do with organizing?  Well, in addition to having to organize everything for the week around this day and have to organize for the trip (we even over pack for a day trip), it is a loss of an afternoon and evening when other things could have been done. 

I normally do our banking on Fridays - and we were short on money to pay bills and had to make a withdrawal from husband’s IRA accounts (hopefully the last of the year as it is the last of the planned money from same for the year).  But, in anticipation of going away - and in need of some pocket cash for the trip, we went to the banks on Wednesday.  I paid the bills on Wednesday night so they could go out on Friday (this was all the bills that were due by Sunday of the following week as I pay all bills a week before they are due).    I did whatever else was sitting around waiting to be done.

I plugged in my other (smaller and a tiny bit newer) laptop to charge in the kitchen before going to bed on Wednesday night.  I had our “travel zipper bag” downstairs with the laptop - this has a spare wallet with spare cash and a credit card (and some affinity cards for restaurants etc when we travel - other cards are in the car and the RV) and I add our checkbook just before a trip.  Our logic in having extra cash and a credit card that neither of us is carrying is that if we were robbed or other similar problem, we would have cash and a credit card to use.  I packed my old Palm Centro in its case - spare info of what is in my cell phone and easy to reach in the car to keep track of tolls paid, etc.  We put out rain jackets and sweatshirts - weather was iffy.  This way when we woke up Thursday all we needed to take was together in the kitchen on our way out. 

Last time we had left after lunch at 3 pm and thinking that was the problem as we were traveling during evening rush hour, we planned - well I planned and he agreed - to eat lunch along the way.  I was pretty sure that there were a couple of Wendys in NJ and I knew about one in Staten Island.  So we set off.

In New Jersey I did see a Wendys on the road - just as we passed it.  We kept going.  We had a couple of basically time wasting stops along the way as we would (hopefully) otherwise be at the restaurant for dinner about 2 or 3 hours too early.  Before I knew it we were at the first place to stop - there was a Costco with a gas station there and a Hobby Lobby craft store (we just got got our first Hobby Lobby here so that is still a place to stop for us).  Since we had not eaten we went to Costco and had lunch and took a quick walk through - looking for some items they no longer have at the ones near us and didn’t have here either.  We then gassed up the car (in New Jersey no self-serve allowed) and drove to the Hobby Lobby. 

Now, the Costco is on the north bound side of the road we were headed south on.  It is north of an intersection and the Hobby Lobby is on the same side, but south of the same intersection.  How the roads in New Jersey are designed, one can generally not make a left turn on a main road.  One gets off the right on an angle or something known locally as a “dog leg” and then turns left on the cross road to do so.  So, to get back to Hobby Lobby we had to go out on the southbound main road, turn right at the next corner, then attempt to turn left onto the cross road  - a four lane road with no additional traffic light to help, which we were able to do only by the kindness of a stranger who let us in.  Then we had to turn left from that road onto the main road.  We then had to turn right off the main road at the same place we did before and turn left - but into the right lanes - of the cross road we had turned left onto, to get to Costco.  We gave up on trying to turn left onto the crossroad and turned right, then went up about a block, turned left into a parking lot, drove around in the parking lot, drove back out and turned right onto the same crossroad.  We drove across the main road and about a block up turned right into the shopping center that Hobby Lobby is in.  This trip from Costco to what is more or less the next shopping center took us 15-20 minutes. 

We walked around awhile in Hobby Lobby - I went through their large Christmas department looking.  No buying done though.  And then we left.  Now, to get back on the road we had to head back to the exit that led back to that same cross road and turn left onto the cross road - luckily there was a traffic light to help - and then turn left from same onto the main road headed south again.

So basically we drove in 3 circles to go to these two stores.

Our next planned stop was a Walmart we knew about.  (We come to this Golden Corral for dinner about twice a year when we go to the woodworking show and the quilt show we go to in late February and early March so we know what is around it and on the road to it. These two attempts were our only ones to go there just for dinner - I guess I cook that badly that he wanted to go.)     The jeans that husband wears has been discontinued at our local Walmarts and we hoped that other ones might still have them, plus some other items we had not found in our local ones, as well as it is a larger one than the ones near us.  It is off to the west of the road we were on.  I knew how to get there by turning right just before we got to the restaurant, but found a shortcut to it by following the signs and, I admit, the GPS.  Nothing there we were looking for, but husband did find a DVD to buy.  By the time we were done it was getting late to go to dinner so we hurried off after buying the DVD.

Yes, we made it the Golden Corral.  He was so happy.  I don’t particularly like the chain, but he does.  Dinner and then we drove home. Of course to head back north we had to drive south, turn right onto a cross road, then turn left on the cross road and then turn left onto the main road north.

Now all the time we are driving and going places, my mind was thinking “I could be cleaning the bathrooms.”  “I could be scanning the magazine articles.”  “I could be doing laundry.” and so on.  But his happiness at having the meal was worth the trip.  Then again, when we got home he told me - “Next time I say I want to go to dinner there, tell me I want to go to dinner at the Casino in Connecticut instead.”

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

Sometimes time wasted is worth it if it gives happiness to someone else or to you.



Thursday, October 12, 2017

DEALING WITH COUNTY BUREAUCRACY

Last Thursday we went to an event to help us with applying for two exemptions of our real estate tax.  Real estate tax here is high - we pay around $8,000 a year for our real estate taxes and we pay rather low real estate taxes.  People easily pay $15,000 to over $20,000 for a subdevelopment house - more of course for fancy houses.  To help “older” people stay in their houses and in recognition that they probably don’t have children in the schools, there are two kinds of exemptions that one can receive if one is over 65, has income below certain levels and the property is one’s primary residence.  Since husband turned 65, we are now entitled to these exemptions.

I should also explain that our real estate taxes has two different components (well actually a lot more than two, but two sets of billing for them).  One type is the “general levy”.  This is billed annually in January and is paid in January and July.  It consists of the county assessments, the township assessments, the fire department assessments, the police department assessments (police is one, the police stations is another...), the garbage district assessments, assessments for water pipes (we also pay for water usage monthly), sewer assessments (pipes ar one, sewage plant is another) and so on.  The other type is the school taxes which also includes the library district assessment and is billed in October (yes, we got the new one today) and is payable in October and April.  (So we pay each tax twice a year, but pay real estate taxes quarterly as they alternate quarters.)   

Being an accountant I downloaded the forms and filled them in.  I am pretty good with forms - and it seems to me that I have helped clients with them in the past.  I have been unable to reach anyone with some questions I had.  I thought that I posted about this, but can not find it - when I call the County Assessors office I get a message that there is no one there to take my call (not that they are busy, there is no one there) and I should call back.  No matter what day of the week or time I called I received this message continually.  After some days of trying there was an additional part to the message - it gave their address and told one that parking is “extremely” limited, which to be honest, is true as it is the County office building - but basically they are saying “No one is here to talk to you by phone and don’t come here either”.  So we went to one of their help sessions for this paperwork.  It was much emptier than a thought and one was able to meet individually with employees about one’s forms. 

Looking over the employees I noticed the attitude of one, compared to the others and knew that I did not want her.  So, of course, we got her.  She looks at our general levy exemption paperwork.   and says to us “Your income on this one item is too high - you are not eligible!”  I point out to her that we have medical expenses which can be subtracted from the income by their rules, which bring us down under the income amount.  “It has to be out of pocket expenses!”  (Each of these comments was said as a challenge.)  Just our medical insurance premiums alone almost bring us down enough - add the prescription costs and I did not even bother get print outs from our doctors.  Understand, canceled checks or other receipts is not proof of the medical expenses, one must get a print out for the year from who the money went to.   “Oh! Okay”.  Now I had filled in the form on their website.  “This is the wrong form!  It is the form from the website!  We don’t use that form!” Huh?  I did not ask her why then the form is on the website and one is told to download it and use it, then again, there is a link to the state to submit income information to it for the other exemption and not only does it not work, when I telephoned the state, I was told that they don’t do that - all income goes to the county - if I complained, who knows how bad this would get.  She then takes the copy of our state tax return I brought with us for the other exemption, which is suppose to require it.  “IT’S HANDWRITTEN!!!! We can’t accept this!”  Huh?  I do our own return.  She then goes to someone else and comes back with our return and a page of information.  I have to contact IRS and get copies of all our 1099, W2, etc forms.  The page has the local number to call to get this.  “You will have to take this home and wait until you get the papers from them and then send it in to us altogether with the correct form!”  Okay. 

Now she goes to other exemption’s paperwork.  In our state we have a general exemption from part of the school taxes if one owns their home and it is their primary residence.  This is called a STAR exemption. (It means school something or other I am sure.)  The money for this one comes from the State, not the County.  Some years it was subtracted from what one pays, other years it has come as a check back to us after we pay the taxes, basically so we “see” that the our “wonderful” state senators and representatives are “giving” us a break on our school taxes.  If one qualifies for same, is over 65 (or one spouse is), has no children in school, and has income under a much higher limit than the first tax has one has their school taxes lowered much more.  I prepared for another set of arguments.  “Why are there three forms?”  I had the County form and the State form, and another form from the State which will automatically renew this exemption.   She throws the State form back at me.  “You don’t need this!”  I tell her the State office told me to fill it in.  “No, it is unneeded!”  She then looks at the form to renew it automatically.  “What this!!!”  She reads it, turns it over, then reads it again.  “Oh you want it to renew automatically?”  Well, hmmm, do I want to go through this every year for both exemptions, or would I rather get it one of them automatically.  I reply, “yes”.  Again, she does not ask for any of the paperwork - birth certificates, deeds, etc,that the paperwork’s instructions said to bring.  She looks it over and stamps the form.  Makes a copy (yes, they had copy machines and every thing - and I had brought a copy and even a stapler, just in case) and stamps the copy and hands it to me.  Hopefully we really did not need the other form.

So we went home.  I called the IRS number.  It actually has a choice to get the printout requested.  I put in my info.  “There is no available information for this person.”  Huh?  I try husband’s info and I am able to pick which one of two printouts I want - his income tax info or adjustments made.  I pick the former figuring that will give us - or at least him - the 1099, etc. copies printed out.  I try again for me - again I am not available.  I then see that there is also a form to request the info.  I go to the IRS website and download the form and fill in a copy for me and one for husband.  On this form I see a choice for the 1099 forms to be sent.  Hmmm, does that mean we are not getting them from the telephone call as that item is listed separately?  I don’t know, but the forms went to IRS the next day.  Hopefully one way or the other we will get the information.

We have until December 31 to fill these papers.  (This is an early date - most places in the state have until next March.)  I am so glad that I did not wait for the last minute.  If the information from IRS arrives in time there are additional sessions around the county until October 19 and we can go in again, if not we will have to either mail it in or husband will drive there and circle while I go in and deal with it. 

This process is so much worse than dealing with IRS or our State about any type of taxes.  Then again, perhaps despite their holding sessions to help people deal with the paperwork, they don’t want people to get the exemptions as, lets face it, it cuts down on the amount of taxes they will collect and they have to come up with the money elsewhere - including maybe raising the taxes.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK - When dealing with the government one has to have everything they want - even if they won’t want it - plus anything else one can think with.  Even then something will be missing or go wrong.  Never yell at the government employee or things will not come out well for you.  (Sorry if any readers are government employees - but at least I am telling people not to yell at you.)



Thursday, October 5, 2017

STARTING MY THIRD YEAR

Well this is the first post of the third year of my blog.  (Imagine balloons rising, confetti falling, and triumphant music.)  Understand this is probably my 4th or 5th attempt at a blog.  None of the earlier ones had a second post. For a procrastinator, this is pretty good.  Other than the recent post which was scheduled to post and did not (I am sure it was my fault in how I set up the scheduling) and the post that followed it and was posted a day later, I have managed to post them on time - even better for a procrastinator.    I want to thank you all for reading my blog, especially those who follow me.  Knowing you are out there reading the blog helps me keep writing it. (Imagine applause for you.)

So, how has being a blogger been for me?  Well, I appreciate those of you who follow me, but I had expected a larger number of followers.  I am not sure if the low numbers are related to lack of interest in my blog or people not finding my blog.  For my personal happiness, I presume it is the latter.  (Tell your friends - have them tell their friends.)  But I am aware it might be the former.  My original idea of telling how and where I store things (and why) seemed terribly dry to me when I read the early posts back after posting them, so I switched to more of a week by week story of what I did right, what I did wrong, and my attempts to keep everything up to date and taken care of.  It reads better to me and I hope to you.  I am also interested in what YOU think - please feel free to reply to the blog itself as well as any posts - do you wonder how I deal with something or other?   

September is over and with it I hope I will have a chance to breathe. 

I managed to get the needed information to my client from last week.  Her fax has never worked and therefore I faxed the needed form to a friend of hers.  His fax did not work right in accepting faxes.  I tried faxing a number of times - with my husband standing there making noises about how much each attempt was costing us - our home telephone is rarely used for making calls as I have unlimited cell phone minutes, so each call was a “toll call” to NYC, plus the page that was printed each time to tell me the fax did not go through.  Since doing something over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of stupidity, I called the client and told her that I would mail her the form.  Friday she would not be at work as that evening would be a Jewish holiday and she is closed on the weekend.  I telephoned her on Monday and she had received the form and faxed it with needed attachment to the number I had given her - hopefully it was in time for them to process before her monthly fee for minimum use was due to be debited from the account.

I also finished a tax return for another client - it was on extension so it is not late.  That was promptly mailed out.  I do have one client whose return I have not done - she and her husband owe me information from 3 years ago to do their returns and I keep pushing her as she will lose a sizeable refund if she does not file her 2014 return by April 15 of 2018.  (If you have unfiled income tax returns - don’t let that happen to you - if you have not filed a return within 3 years of its due date you will lose any refund due you.  Out to the client 2 weeks before it is due. 

Last Sunday we had a reenctment event.  It was the first time the unit was doing this event - it was at our headquarters, but the building itself was the focus of the event rather than the unit outside with muskets and crafts.  The unit commander could not come after he set it up, so husband, who is assistant commander had to deal with everything - which of course means much work for me.  I woke a half hour before the alarm was set to go off on Sunday morning - with a terribly ill stomach.  Husband started to panic- what would we do? He had to go as he was in charge and he needed me.  I told him that he would go to the event in our car - members get to most events 2 hours before it is to start to have everything set up - and I would come later in our van, unless my stomach did not recover.  He was not happy at driving there alone, being there alone and, more important, me not being well.  I went over where the turns are to get there as he is always asking me when driving there - “Is this where I turn?” at the wrong place.  (“Remember, you will pass the diner your sister goes to on the right, then you turn left at the light after the Stop and Shop supermarket is on the left.  Then you turn left again after the long stretch of nurseries....”)  I managed to get there on time for the actual event.  We had a quiet day (depending on who you ask we had 20-35 visitors from the public over the day) as there was no publicity for the event.  Nice event, good idea, people need to know about it.

I spent yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) getting ready for my embroidery chapter meeting today.  We are starting our projects for the year and I needed to print some things for the projects.  I also packed up some items to donate - 3 dresses, 2 ladies suits, a rain coat, a Christmas Santa bowl (not even sure who gave it to us), some souvenir gifts from a friend’s travels, and 2 spare coin counting tube sets - anything gone out of the house is good.  I also did my “offsite” data backups for today.

Today I had busy day - the meeting, a trip to the bank to exchange my offsite backups, a trip to Goodwill for the donation, check Post Office box, lunch alone...  Then when I came home I went through and finished filling in forms and making copies of papers so we can go tomorrow to a workshop/meeting and make sure our paperwork is done and complete to get a senior discount on our real estate taxes.  For once I am not procrastinating as they are due before January 1 - plenty of time to fix any problems or missing items. And now I am writing my post. 

Not as bad as some weeks in the past month - at least we do not have to wake early day after day and I see an end in sight.  Next week is even a bit looser - dentist tomorrow though.


THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

If you think that you can not do something which is a large job - then do one small bit of it - a first step, then a bit more.  It will go quicker than if you just sit and think that the job is too big.  I never thought that I would be able to post this regularly for 6 months, let alone 2 years, but a week’s post at a time I have and I plan to keep doing it for at least another year.