Thursday, January 23, 2020

CLEARING OUT THE SPICE CABINET AND MOM'S HOUSE IS NOW CLEARED OUT

Well, mom's house is cleared out according to my sister.  The furniture people did not take much of the furniture as the pieces were “too large”.  Okay, I understand the living room sofa was custom made for the room and is a bit large – it is two or three pieces and goes along two walls, and turns in the corner.  (Let's see, my parents gave me y 6th grade graduation gift -a small portable typewriter – while we were getting the sofa so it is over 50 years old.)  I am not sure, but I would have removed the boards from the dining room table and set them either on it or next to it as with the boards it holds at least a dozen people comfortably and may have looked intimidatingly large with them in – and the boards were in to display stuff for the tag sales.   My dresser was a long one, but the other dresser that was my sister's and her desk were small.  The first fellow took the 3 night stands in the house and the chairs to the kitchen table, but the kitchen table was left and seats 4-5 people so it was not huge.  The dresser in the other small bedroom was smaller than mine, but larger than the small one that my other sister had and my mom's desk in her bedroom was a regular student desk so not large.  Gee, I wonder if they realized (my sister might not have known) that the long server in the dining in front of the window is 3 pieces – two cabinets and the center is a matching section that is empty with fabric on the doors – the radiator was there and this way the heat came through the fabric or the doors could be opened to let more heat into the room – someone might have liked either or both of the actual cabinets- 2 drawers and 2 shelves below – then again they would need to either take half of the large counter top or get new tops for them.  My dad had a lovely old, large desk – also rejected as too large – okay, if it hadn't been I would have taken it, but all I have room for is my old child's desk from when I was in second grade.  (Yes, I am that short – able to use my desk from second grade – still hit my knee on the same spot on the leg of the desk.) 

It bothers me that it does not bother me to have the house emptied and sold.  Will the actual sale make me breakdown wailing?  Has anyone else been through this and not gotten at least a bit upset?

We took my mom to the doctor with the office from h*ll last Friday so he could tell us what we knew from reading the report that was faxed to us instead of to her other doctor.  So all is well with that.  The doctor is very nice – no problem with him, just his office which is not run by him, but by the hospital group he is associate with.  While talking with him I mentioned a little about the problems (4 pm appointment, take in at 5:30,saw doctor at 6 pm) we have had.  Mostly asked if there is way to speak to him by phone as the phone number on the card goes to an office in a different state for making appointments.  He gave us a different number  - but only for questions, not emergencies as only answered during their open hours.  I also managed to, politely, mention that when we came in for the scan the office was closed, lights out, and no one in the building knew about the scan tech being there – he was surprised and said that someone should have been at the reception desk for his office and he would check on this. 

When first married we lived in an apartment.  Husband saw in one of my “ladies magazines”  a project to make a spice cabinet.  He took it and changed it and we made it.  It stands on the floor is about the depth of a cabinet across (used to sit next to the end of the cabinet in the apartment, now next to a small wall about the same depth next to our cabinet (behind the wall is the heat duct for the bathroom above the kitchen).  The original had shelves in the door with holes for test tubes to put spices in.  The one he made us has one shelf on each door with same – and knife blocks below them for our cooking knifes.  We actually put smaller of same in the holes instead of test tubes.  Against the back of the cabinet are thin shelves (cabinet is about 6 inches deep and the shelves are 3 inches deep.  The shelves hold spice bottles and such very well.  The cabinet is just short of 3 feet tall. 

I have the spices arranged so that the ones I use often are in a grabable spot.  But since husband has been cooking for the past 2-3 weeks as I was “covered in germs” - yes, he is that afraid of catching a cold – I had to look into the cabinet to tell him where spices he needed were located.  When I did so my eye fell on a bottle of something called Mrs. Dash.  I have no memory of buying it (well, I don't actually remember buying much of what is in the cabinet) or what the heck we used it for and made a mental note to clear out the cabinet as much as possible  and in my dreams of how much space I would have, dreamed of lining up cans of soup on the shelves where they could easily be seen.

Last weekend (we had reached the point where I was told that I would be “allowed” to start cooking again) and I decided to go through the cabinet.  Mrs. Dash, dill from when I made sour pickles, popcorn flavored saltt, spices that I don't remember using, and a variety of other items – OUT!  I checked a few spices to see what they were used for  - OUT!  Old Bay Seasoning (used on seafood, especially shrimp in the Baltimore, MD area and husband used to use it – not out, he thought maybe we might have shrimp and he would put it on same again or maybe even chicken  - I know it will be too spicy for him, I barely could eat it back then, but I kept it. 

Kept the basics – salt, pepper, lo salt salt.  Ground cinnamon (which I think I have used for some holiday dish I made) and sugar cinnamon (well, it tastes nice on pancakes or French toast) I kept – cinnamon sticks – out.  Nutmeg - used at Thanksgiving – kept.  Cream of tartar – useful for stuff – kept.  Minced onion, minced  garlic and basil -used for tomato “gravy' (sauce).  Bay leaves – used in a beef stew I used to make and plan to make again.  Allspice, ginger, thyme, tarragon, rosemary, marjoram, parsley, oregano – all kept, despite not knowing what we will use them for.  Kept a small jar of sesame seeds – not sure why, just seemed like something to keep.

Also we store in this cabinet wooden toothpicks – used mostly for crafts, but also for food related purposes. 

When I was done I had a half a kitchen garbage bag of bottles – but somehow I hardly picked up room in the cabinet – certainly not enough for the lines of soup cans I had thought I would I store there.  So, what to use the space for?  Well, we take at doctor's “suggestion” a number of OTC vitamins.  The small bottles of them (refilled from larger bottles kept in the kitchen pantry closet) sat on top of the cabinet – along with a candle lamp (looks nice and used in black outs), table salt and pepper shakers, napkin holder with paper napkins, a shop tape measure (meaning not a sewing one), 3 day of the week pill boxes (two his, one mine) and some “dropped there because it is convenient “ paper clips and other similar sized items.  It was actually rather crowded and some things would fall off the top when one walked past.  I put the OTC vitamins in the cabinet on the top shelf.  Now our day of the week boxes on top are no longer sitting between the napkin holder and front of the cabinet – subject to getting knocked off.

So in the end the work did not result in a lot of usable space, but it is better than before and the doors to it do close better than they have in awhile.  As I go along I will think about some of what I kept and if it can go also.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

Doing a small task might be what it is needed to get one started  - or started again – on working on clearing out things no longer needed.  If you find something small and think “well, dealing with that won't do much” if you do it, it might get you started on doing more – since the spice cabinet, I cleared off most of the stuff piled on my dresser.   It was primarily reenacting stuff left after our December event- small items put away where they belong and the clothes I wore (that reek of smoke) are in the basement laundry sorter – to be washed and stored away.  We have 3 plastic boxes in which we keep things such as OTC meds, sickness thermometer and such.  These items are kept in these boxes as the boxes fit in the bag we take when we travel in our RV with all of this – and our prescription meds fit in one of the boxes also.  By keeping the OTC and such in these boxes we don't need one set for home and one set for travel.  In the summer the boxes end up on my dresser (the bag they go in goes under our bedroom TV) and in the cold weather, when we are less apt to travel I put them in the upper shelf of plastic storage piece next to my dresser (in hot weather the spare blanket goes in this space).  So now they are where they belong for the winter and the bag is where it belongs.  I found more socks that were on top of the dresser for darning and now they have joined their need to be darned friends. 

So try one small task that you need to do and see where it leads.  (Now sorting through and storing what I brought from the family house – that is another story – what does one do with the proofs of the yearbook of which one was editor?)






Thursday, January 16, 2020

MY COLD CONTINUES AND HUSBAND KEEPS COOKING DINNER, CLEARING OUT STUFF FROM MOM'S HOUSE

Been a busy week between doing nothing.  I still have the tail end of the cold I had last week – mostly coughing fits, which upset my husband.  He still does not want me touching things – like food and dishes as he is afraid of catching the cold. 

Eating dinner has continued to be an adventure. He used to be a such a good cook and enjoy it so much – no longer.  We ate out our usual 3 nights for the weekend, which helped a bit, but then we were back to cooking at home.  While out on Monday we stopped in at the Walmart Neighborhood Market (supermarket only) to buy stuff for dinner.  We came up with the idea of making a soup we like, for dinner.  It was too late to make it so we were going to buy what we needed and make it yesterday (Tues), but unlike Walmarts normally this one has a terrible produce deprtment and we could not find good potatoes or onions.  

So today we bought same and are making the soup for tomorrow.  Husband made it so I would not touch it. Now remember, he was always the better cook.  First thing to do is cut up the onions.  I would use a paring knife; he takes out the largest knife we own.  I didn't want to criticize, so I said nothing and hoped he would not hurt himself.  He did not.  Then onto the potatoes – he had major trouble as  he could not cut through them – they were not our usual red potatoes as same looked terrible, but similar edible skin potatoes.  As he finally started swearing I simply said “I usually use a small knife for that.”  He then went and took the smallest knife we have – the one I only use to open sealed food packages as it is too small to cut with – and proceed to cut the potatoes with it.  Then the meat had to be cut up.  The rest of the vegetables added were frozen ones – including some I had split into bags in the freezer when I made normal amount of soup in December at the holidays.  We have added more meat to make it a dinner entree this time.  I watched it as it cooked – stirring it now and then.  I just shut it off and took the pot off the stove to cool off.  It should cook 2 hours, I let it cook an hour and a half as it will cook again tomorrow before we eat it.  This also allows about 2 hours before we go to bed so we can put in the fridge without needing to put the pot in ice water to cool it off.

At the same time I have our clothes in the washing machine – deal with my cold is I put in washer, I move to dryer, he takes the clothes out of the dryer (because the heat of same will kill all the “germs”) and then he will hang up his shirts, but I can fold the rest.  I did not do other than clothes last week and probably won't this week either – what fun next week – plus our reenacting clothing still needs to washed and stored until the next event, probably in the spring.

Monday I had telephone call from my sister.  She had someone who could come and would take stuff from our family home for his non-profit thrift shop and we would get a receipt for the donation.  She also had someone coming today to take furniture, so could husband and I go on Tuesday so she did not have take off 2 days from work?  So we went.  While we waited for the fellow to come we walked around the house looking for certain items.  I should mention that there have already been 2 tag sales – one by a professional and one by my sister.  The fellow was amazing – he packed the stuff so quickly – and I was surprised that breakables were not wrapped – most of what was around the in the house in smaller things are now gone including several closets of clothing (including the gown I wore to his sister's wedding as a bridesmaid), all the bed linens & towels, drinking glasses (at least 2 sets of same), candle holders (lots of same), toys and anything else you can imagine – plus other stuff.  In our walk around the house before and while I wandered around while they were there (husband went out to the car as he was tired – we had to get there earlier than we normally wake up) some items were found that, yes, we took.  My mom had embroidered a lovely (large) wreath of flowers on blue velvet back in the 1970s/80s and my sister had asked if I wanted it and I had said no.  In the interim I thought about it and decided I wanted it, but when we were there just before the first tag sale, I did not see it and presumed that it had been taken by one of my sisters or mom had asked for it.  But it was in the dining room.  I looked at it and the frame was damaged and huge.  I told husband that I wanted it, but if we could get it out of the frame – that was great.  A quick trip to the car – we have all sorts of useful things in the car – and a large Swiss army knife was found (no staple removers in dad's office) and he pulled the staples out so I could keep the needlework. I plan to refinish it in the same manner I finish embroidery pieces that I make, but don't plan to hang up – as an unquilted small quilt piece. 

Our first stop was my dad's office.  We are still hoping to find the book about our family and husband wanted to see what show business books were there.  My sister had mentioned in the list of things that the fellow could take and what he could not take that there were office supplies in the office closet – so I had to look.  I am about to run out of what is called columnar paper – that is the accounting paper with number columns on it – and have not really wanted to spend the money to buy a new book of it – husband tried downloading from online, but it was not that usable – and I found a number of books of it in the closet – now here.  Husband found a book he wanted – we took that too.  Just before the fellow the arrived husband found 2 ceramic mugs from the Williamsburg Pottery – perfect to use for reenacting and not cheap – so we were putting them in the car when the fellow arrived.  He was very nice and I said, very efficient.

At first husband stayed with me in the house as we did not know the fellow and we followed him as he looked at what was in the house – as we walked around in my parents' bedroom I noticed a stack of tablecloths – there the long missing and looked for, tablecloth that I had embroidered in high school was there!  So now the only thing I have not found that I was looking for is that book! 

As I waited in the house as they went through everything my eye fell on 2 pewter, 18th century looking candle holders.  (Not antiques, just looking like.).  I picked them up and walked out to husband in the car and showed them to him – he agreed we needed to take them for reenacting – perfect for extra candle holders at the candlelight nights event. 

As the fellow was finishing he asked about several large black garbage bags in the kitchen.  I texted my sister – yes, they were garbage not stuff she was keeping.  He went through the bags and most of what was in them – kitchen items not actual food or paper garbage – he took also – another 2 cartons worth!

I have not yet spoken to my sister about the furniture man today and how much he took. 

It is amazing how much stuff a family of 5 accumulates over 60 years – and I know that mom was always donating stuff to different organizations.  One thing I can say – We do have less stuff than my family did – well, there are the teddy bears - larger and smaller - and their friends…

So think about it – when one day your house has to be cleared out – how much will there be?  Enough for children to take what they want, plus 2 tag sales, plus a thrift shop truck load, plus…? 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK -

Try looking through one room – perhaps your kitchen or your living room – anything there you no longer like?  Did you buy new set of dishes and still have the old set?  Every one item that you get rid of is one less for the thrift shop man to come and take later.




Thursday, January 9, 2020

HOW WAS YOUR FIRST WEEK OF THE NEW YEAR - I CAUGHT A COLD

So here we are, a week into a new year.  Hard to believe.

First, something I heard on TV, that is very true.  Many of us date things in this format – 01/01/20 for January 1, 2020.  Do not use the 20 on it's own for the year.  Why, when you have always done this?    Well, if you write 01/01/20, the year part of the date can be changed in the future to any year in this year in this decade – such as 01/01/2021  or 01/01/2029 – see what I mean – in theory the date would not run out for 10 years on say a blank check or memo note, etc.  So instead date things as 01/01/2020 to avoid problems.

So how has your organizing, cleaning, etc. been going this year?  Mine not so much.  I managed to come down with a cold last week – not anything major, just enough to make me miserable.  Husband is  a hypochondriac.  So when I get sick he does not want me to touch anything – I even get my 2 liter soda bottle with an X on it so he does not touch it.  Biggest problem is cooking and dishes. 

We normally eat lunch out so that is easy.  But he does not want me to cook dinner with my germ covered hands.  When we were younger, had more money and there were more places at which we could afford to eat dinner, we would go out for dinner or bring stuff in.  Not really a choice any more other than the weekly dinner at Ikea, at Wendys and at the Asian buffet.  One night in a week we can deal with deli turkey (even though we ate same 5 times in 2 weeks while doing the event with our reenactment unit in the last 2 weeks).  But night after night?   We brought in Chinese food one night  - husband looked around for the paper goods – something new for us, we never used to have paper plates, bowls, cups, etc. as we considered it wasteful – last year he bought all of these for use in our RV and we had used them last time I had a “bug”, but when I finally was able to clear out the dining room – it all went out to the RV.  He found plastic plates in the basement – intended for craft use – and there is plastic tablewear in the secretary in the living room.  But as he unpacked the Chinese soup he was upset about not having a paper bowl for the soup – my suggestion - “there” is a stack of previous soup containers brought in – all washed and ready for use – he was not happy, but it did the trick.  He keeps saying that we need to replace the (non-working) dishwasher if just for when I am sick.  (I had figured out that it took me the same time to wash the dishes, etc as it did to load the machine and then rewash what did not wash – plus reading about the new machines they seemed too much work with the need to clean filters and other things.  (Our original dishwasher came with the house or we never would have had one – though we did replace that one once.)  My solution is to put on disposable plastic gloves when I wash the dishes.

We were not sure if we were to have snow today (report changed constantly and TV news did not agree channel to channel) so we made sure that we had lunch for today and dinner when we shopped yesterday.  (I used to be organized – read the store circulars, had a shopping list, bought stuff on sale and used the saved coupons – but now with him along – we food shop just about day by day and due to changes in the coupons available and what we can eat and use – coupons that match what we buy are rare.  I still have a shopping list, instead of being a paper on the fridge (if we need more – add it or we won't have it) it is in my cell phone – the other day I tried to remove an item as bought it – and the entire list erased itself and since it can only synced automatically – the computer version was pffft also.  Luckily husband managed to bring up a list from the day before for me.  Some things really are better on paper.

It did not snow enough to matter, went out for lunch and tonight we were having turkey sausages with macaroni (pasta – he is Italian by background all types of pasta are called macaroni).  He is cooking as I am sick.  Despite my hinting “am I cooking tonight or you?” about an hour before dinner, we did not get downstairs to cook until about 20 minutes before we would normally eat dinner.  I was out of tomato “gravy” (sauce to you and me).  I had mentioned this when we picked this dinner and he said “no problem”.  So we are very late starting to make dinner and he has to make “the gravy” - something he actually taught me how to do from his mom's recipe (which for some reason is simpler and quicker by about 5 and a half hours than the recipe his sister makes which she says is how their mom made it.)  He should know what he is doing since he taught me – right?

“What do I start first, the gravy or the water for the macaroni?” he asked.  “Heating the pan for the sausages” - my reply.  I tell him which (cast iron) pan to take out - “you need the one without the ridges.”  He starts to take the one with the ridges – the one that last time I used it, filled our kitchen with smoke and the smoke detector would not go off for hours and I have still had not had a chance to clean it http://wheredidileavethat.blogspot.com/2018/07/not-in-pennsylvania.html  He took out the correct pan and put it on the stove – turned on the burner for it to heat.  Then I had him start the water to boil – I have to tell him which pot for which food.  Then we started making the gravy.  I make 2 large cans of tomatoes with 2 small cans of tomato sauce.  Lately I have been using one large can of petite diced tomatoes and one of puree – gives him the pieces of tomatoes and also a thicker liquid than if I just used the tomatoes.  “What do I add to it?” - Sheesh – he taught me – and I point him to the spice cabinet (built by him to fit our apartment kitchen, but fit perfectly here also – noticed that I need to clear it out as there is a lot of stuff that we have not used in decades and will not use again, such as “Mrs. Dash” - I mostly just stick my hand in and pull out what I need – showing him where, made me notice this – new job to do.  Macaroni added to the boiling (no salt no oil) water.  “What now” -he said exasperated.  I told him to take some water on his finger and drop in the pan - “If it dances it is ready”.  It did and he added the sausages.  Now, it took him longer to add the items to the gravy than it would take me to cook the gravy, so we are even further behind.  Next though, was to heat the leftover half can of soup for him to have soup before dinner. 

So eventually we had dinner.  I got sick – I won't say it was his cooking… Then to wash the dished I put on disposable gloves and washed them – they are air drying now. 

My embroidery group met today.  I did not go.  I thought and thought about where I could sit in the relatively small room we meet in and not infect all of the other members, then realized that the proper thing to do was not to go.  So last night I telephoned the group president and told her and that I would email the treasurer's report to her and to the secretary.  I wrote it and emailed it.  This afternoon I checked my email – I had sent them both the January 2019 minutes instead of the treasurer's report – so now I will email to the chapter members. I have to stop messing up and needing to do things over and over. 

I had planned on running errands today that are easier to run without husband, but since I did not go to the meeting – we were together – he actually did not complain about the errands, some of which annoy him.   We went to our reenactment unit's bank and I redeposited some cash as I had needed to take out some cash and we needed less than we thought.  I also got a copy of the cash check as we have a grant and the cash was for part of the costs of same and we need to submit all copies of all checks, deposits and a lot of other paperwork – with a check sending back the excess of the grant money to the non- profit which gave us the grant and when I got home later I emailed copies of everything I had to the member who got us the grant and is handling the paperwork. Hopefully something done on the first try.   

We went to our bank vault – I keep my “offsite data backup” in it.  I used to make a data backup once a month and send to work with husband and he would bring home the one I sent with him the month before.  When he quit his job, I needed an alternative – our bank vault became the alternate.  (I use 2 USB flash drives – one is at the bank, other is here to update the next month.)  We got one of the “platform” employees that is good and I figured, okay husband won't be getting upset. But when we went to go into the vault area with the employee – we had to wait as other employees were in there on bank business – that annoyed him. 

Not doing laundry tonight (I start on Wednesday nights and continue into Thursday – Friday if needed) due to my cold – I figure to give it another day of recovery before I start.  Since the washer and dryer were not being used, husband washed a scarf he finished weaving  ( just a minute – I have to double check that he shut off the water to the washer – afraid if the hose breaks it will make a mess in basement, so we keep the water to the hose shut off when not in use. …… He did shut the water off, but did not push in control of the washer to make sure it was off. 

So how was your first week of the new year?

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -
Treat the new year as a new opportunity for a clean slate – but don't go crazy trying to change everything at once – change one small thing and keep at it – then when that is going well – change another and continue and so on.



Thursday, January 2, 2020

HAPPY NEW YEAR - I STILL DO NOT MAKE RESOLUTIONS

Well, another year gone by – they really do seem to go by faster and faster. 

As those of you who have been reading my posts for over a year (and I thank you for doing so) I don't believe in making resolutions.  I never kept them and felt guilty for not doing so.  Instead I just decide that what is past is past and the future is a clean slate.

We still are running behind on getting things in life done. 

The Saturday before Christmas I realized that there was no way that our extensive (okay, overly and ridiculously extensive) inside Christmas decorations would be put up before or during Christmas.  We were doing three nights with our reenactment unit at an 18th century house in a local restoration village.  The event is annual, with the days for it changing every year.  It is a candlelight night event – each house is lit as it would have been in the period it is displayed and the Christmas decorations also match the period.  The other houses in the village are set in the 1800s; the one we interpret is set in the late 1700s – we say to the guests coming in that it is 1775, the year that our unit generally “is in”.  While it is an evening event husband and I have to start dressing by 3 pm to drive there and have the set up on time and by the time we shut the house down (a lot of candles to blow out and we have to make sure that no one in our unit left anything behind) , lock it up, drive home and change back to modern clothing it is around 11 pm and we are making dinner and sitting down to eat it.  So basically the days we do this event – we do almost nothing else.  So I would not getting to work on decorating the house on Saturday or Sunday night.   I had to take 2 more (online) exams for my professional education to work next year and I would have left – Monday before Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve, Thursday after Christmas, and Monday before New Year's Eve to take the classes.  Not being completely crazy I knew that I had to take them Sunday after the event and Monday nights, so that on the extremely, extremely rare chance I did not pass both exams and had to take one (or the other) class again, I had a chance to do so.  Hence, there would no time to put up the decorations, especially since our living room was not cleared up from husband's weaving due to a recent sales event we went to, the dining room still had stuff for the RV in it (I tried to take same out the week before – but it was COLD and husband did not want me to open the RV door as it would make it cold inside(?).)  Plus reenacting stuff that stores in the box/benches that we bring to event and they are kept along the dining room walls – and they needed “straightening up”.  So as all this hit while at the reenactment event, I fought back a couple of tears and decided that even if 80 or 90% of our Christmas is the decorations, it just would not be this year.  Since we were married the only year we have not decorated for Christmas in the house was the year we had the bed bugs – oh, well, 2 years of 40 is not a bed record. 

I thought about what to do as an alternative.  I was concerned about telling husband about the no decorations – he looks forward to them.  I came up with I would set up the small tree that we normally set up in our studio covered with ornaments we have made, in the living room on a table and put a limited number of favored ornaments on it.  I approached husband about this and said to him “We are not going to have decorations this year.” His reaction was that he had already realized this and had been afraid to say anything to me about it as he did not want me to take it as a challenge. I told him of my plan about the small tree and he thought it a great idea. 

I set the tree up on Christmas Eve afternoon.  I also wrapped the gifts for his nieces and for him that afternoon.   We have most of the decorations in 6 large plastic boxes.  I store the boxes in a corner of our basement.  To make life easy when I put the house decorations on top of the pile, so I just took those boxes off the stack and put them aside (on matching boxes that hold the bear village Christmas stuff in a separate pile as the stack would be too tall otherwise for the room).  I store the ornaments in 4 boxes which are numbered so the nicest ones are in box 1 to be featured and get prime choice of locations, down to box 4 which has the fill in at the end decorations.  So I opened box 1 on the top of the pile and looked in – I made the angel we use on the tree and she has two friends that husband I also stitched – they came out.  Then I was looking at what else was there and convenient.  I took out more ornaments that we have made and went upstairs to set up the tree. 

I had planned to put the tree on an outdoor type of table with slats that husband uses for setting up his loom – but the feet of the stand did not match the slat positions.  I stood and tried to think where I could I find something to put on the tabletop – thought of a small table that we take to reenactment events and  the top of it was in the dining room.  It fit the table perfectly and even though there is hardware under it to attach the legs, it did not rock.  I was concerned the three might scratch it and that might upset husband so I went looking for something fabric to put on it.  I found two old, worn hand towels in green.  I covered the table, set up the tree, and then folded the towels over the stand to make a tree skirt – perfect.   

I put the ornaments I had brought upstairs on the tree.  Much too bare.  Back to box 1 in the basement.  Hmmm, ornaments dated with the year we got married – good, ornaments of Geo Washington and Thomas Jefferson and their houses, good.  What else?  Luckily I label the small (old gift) boxes that hold the ornaments as several are packed in each one and the only way to get them back in the boxes is to know what goes in each, so I was able to scan the outside of the boxes and find some ornaments from a Folk craft festival we have gone to since we started dating.  I left it at that – with actual blank space on the tree.  As I went through wrapping the gifts and such I found a new ornament we bought (crafts store going out of business $1 teddy bear ornament for 50c – had to buy same) and the membership one we received from Colonial Williamsburg for 2019 – both of them were added.  I did not have the on/off switched extension cord,which is stored with the large tree, so found a regular one and we plug and unplug the tree by hand. Oh, and there was a large light up teddy bear on the box stack, so I brought him upstairs and sat him on the bench husband uses when weaving.  Finished, such as it was to be.

We went out for Christmas Eve dinner to the Asian buffet we go to a weekend night.  When there we discussed the decorations.  Husband said to me “How hard would be it to get out the Christmas stockings also?” So they went out also when we got home.

As the week went alone we decided that we missed the Christmas and Chanukah teddy bears (and some stuffed friends of theirs.  New Year's Eve I managed to pull most if not all of them from their storage box and put them out.  I also decorated the tree in the Teddy Village the same night.  Right now it is New Year's Day night – I had planned to finish setting up the village with the bears “that come to the parade” today or tonight, but husband had plans to go out for dinner (Wendys) and then a movie so I did not have a chance – just got home from the movies and I am writing to all of you (will get them) out tomorrow.

So, we did what we felt was the minimum decorating  for the holidays that we felt comfortable with.  The walls of Jericho did not shake and fall.  Most people might even think it plenty of decorating.  I plan next year to make sure it all goes up on time.  Today when we shut off the RV from charging its batteries (plugged it in yesterday) I finally moved the rest of the stuff for it back into the RV for the winter and got my spare pair of warm socks out of it to wash and use during the winter.

Normally on Wednesdays I start laundry for the week - not this week, as we went to the movies.  The laundry will get done tomorrow and Friday, maybe even Saturday.  I write and send out the newsletter for my embroidery chapter the last Wednesday of the month as we meet the first Wednesday – since this month we are meeting the second Wednesday (a meeting on New Year's Day would not work), I started it before we went out for dinner – it will be a day late – hey, sometimes that happens, it will still be in plenty of time before the meeting. 

There is only so much time that I have use and I have to deal with that idea.  What can be done is done, what cannot, has to ignored and/ore delayed.  I hope over the next year in general to be better caught up on everything which has been slipping our fingers this past year plus and get life back to a normal level of unfinished things. 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK -

You can only do what you can do with the time you have – try to let the small things go.  If you did make resolutions last year and did not keep them, see what is important and try to do better at one or two of them and don't make a long list of resolutions as then you will not keep any of them.  Just try to deal with one or two problem and see where you go from there.

A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

MERRY AND HAPPY

Just a quick post to say -

Merry Christmas.

Happy Chanukah.

Happy Winter Solstice.

Happy Kwanzza.

And for any teddy bears out there - Happy Feast of the Hibernation.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

CHRISTMAS AND OTHER HOLIDAYS - AND GETTING READY

Another week gone already?

Are you ready for Christmas or Chanukah or Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa or whatever holiday)s) you celebrate?

Me, I have not packed away Thanksgiving yet.  Well, the dishes, pots, silverware etc were put away, but my decorations are still out.  I don't put out as many for Thanksgiving as I do for Christmas (maybe 1/20th as much as for Christmas or less), but I have the decorations from when we used to have the families here for Thanksgiving dinner and I still put them out – I need to. 

I have to get them packed away and get the indoor Christmas decorations put out – at least most of them.  I generally don't get to my bear village until Christmas Eve or even Christmas night so they “know” they will be put out late.

We still have a lot of stuff in the house that has to go back into our RV from when we cleared it out in October to take it in for the extended service time.  The larger pieces – the bed assembly and such – are back in it.  I have several fabric shopping bags with stuff from it, including the plastic containers that we use for food (snacks) storage when we travel.  It has been bad weather most days around here the last week or so since I realized I had to get all that out to the RV.  Oh, and the vacuum cleaner – we keep a hand held – plug in vacuum in the RV in case we make a mess and need to clean it up.  (Lots of vents in the RV for air to move in and out so animals can smell food in it – hence the plastic containers and concern requiring a vacuum cleaner.)  It is on my dining room table – not a good place for it to be.

We  (and by we, I meant I) also have to store reenacting stuff in the box benches in the dining room that we store it in.  We had the last event of the year that we needed our stuff for last Saturday – more on that later, if I remember – the only remaining events are the 6 days – this coming weekend and next – that we will be doing the candlelight night event at the local restoration village and we need little for that other than our period clothing. 

Husband has to move his weaving stuff to our studio – won't be able to get to my side of same after he does, but the “loom room” will again be the living room when he does. 

After all that I can start putting up the decorations and the trees. 

We have been busy the last week since I spoke to all of you.  I went to Manhattan to a client on Thursday, which took most of the day especially the travel back and forth.  When I got home husband was waiting to pack our van for the reenactment event that was coming up on (now last) Saturday. 

It was at a historic home that one of our members works at and was a colonial crafts event that we were allowed (encouraged) to sell our work at.  The local community had their tree lighting and other events that day so crowds were expected in the community.  Husband had been weaving scarves to sell.  It was to rain on Friday – and maybe Saturday – so when I arrived home on Thursday husband suggested that we pack the van while it was not raining, though dark.  He was concerned about the tables and racks getting wet on Saturday if it was still raining, so we put everything in very large plastic bags – some items needed two bags – one on each end, overlapping, to cover them.  He had put two tables in the back of the van before I came home.  We needed to put most of what we were bringing in the main section of the van (where we have a back seat and the middle seat is out & permanently in our storage shed to make an open space).  It was a cold night and damp in advance of the rain.  He went to slide the side door open and it did not budge.  He tried again – and again.  He then went in the front door and climbed through to the main section and went to open the door – which is pushing instead of pulling it open from outside as we thought that somehow it had frozen closed and needed to be forced open. 

Ha ha!  He get the door open and the overhead rubber gasket that keeps water from going into the van fell down – on me.  It would not fit back into place.  I called our mechanic – if I have not mentioned it is a local shop and 4 blocks from our house – it was almost 5:30 and I thought they closed at same.  His newest mechanic answered (there are 3 including the owner) and he knows us by name from all of our crazy car problems.  I explained and he told me we should bring it over – if we left it sitting it would flood in the coming rain, at the very least they would have it indoors and fix it the next day.  We drove over hoping the side door would not roll open – it did not.  He got the gasket back in place and we were set again.  We went home and loaded the van.  Friday we ran normal errands and picked up deli turkey to make sandwiches for the next day. 

Saturday it was misty more than raining and we were able to get everything inside to set up dry.  We had a nice room in the museum – the exhibition was on 19th century needlework so it went well with his weaving and my embroidery demonstration.  We fit in the room perfectly.  The event had people there most of the day – estimate is 75-100 people and since it was raining on and off and nasty the rest of the day, that was pretty good. 

Still no chance to pack away Thanksgiving decorations and start on Christmas though.  Each day has had new things to waste the day.  I did manage to fit in taking most of the smaller exams I need to take to prepare income taxes next year for pay.  They are online classes from an approved company and I use them every year.  Two more small classes and tests and then the large 3 hour timed test – 6 hours of class time to do.  That last one is always the one that scares me.  I know that someway I will fit them in  before the end of the month as I always do.

I hope to get the stuff out to the RV and pack away the Thanksgiving – at least the downstairs stuff, if not the Teddy Village Thanksgiving stuff tomorrow and hopefully start with the dining room decorations.  I need to push a large linen style looking chest from the living room to the dining room before I start the dining room.  It holds a small sized tree in the dining room and the large tree in the living room goes where the chest is the rest of the year.  (It looks like a linen or hope chest, but instead of the top lifting the front drops down and there are drawers in it for DVDs – husband made it.)

The front hall and the living have decorations also and then the 3 downstairs trees – big one in the living room, small ones in the dining room and studio and beaded one that I made in the living room also – on the coffee table.  I was going to change the bear figurines (separate from the teddy village) that are in a corner shelf unit in the living room – but his big loom is in front of the corner unit. 

I did put up the wire hanging piece we bought a few years ago to hold Christmas/holiday cards.  It is a long piece with little wire spots to clip papers – in this the cards – to and I hang it from our mug rack near the ceiling in the kitchen with red ribbons.  I had figured a better way to hang it last year when I took it down and clipped a note into one of the wire spots to remind me – good idea it worked perfectly and I clipped the note back in for next year.

We did finish our shopping – we bought books for his two nieces – the only gifts we buy.  I send my adult niblings (that is actually a work – I made it up and then found it already existed – it means nieces and nephews combined) checks for gifts.  He has bought some DVDs and such – which he would have bought anyway – and given it to me to wrap for Christmas – I actually stick them in recycled Christmas gift bags – why waste paper.  At some point we have to figure out what we are going to do for Christmas Eve dinner – maybe the Asian buffet we go to will be open?  We are also figuring we will go there for dinner tomorrow as we won't be able to eat out this or next weekend due to the reenactment, so it will break the meals at home up a bit. 

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

Whatever holiday you celebrate – take time to enjoy it.  In the future it will generally be the good times that are remembered – if the problems and misadventures are remembered they will become humorous in retrospect - “Hey remember the year that Susan and Carl got into the box of chocolates when they were little and took a bite out of each and then put them back?”   “Remember the year we forgot to bring Ellen's gift and we all had to get together again the next week for her to get it?”  Trust me, these things are terrible in the moment, but hilarious in the future.

It is the memories of the time together - even if you are just two like us  - that matter in the end.  If the decorations are not finished – they will be by new year's.  If you will be alone try to find someplace where there are other people, I know that there are community holiday dinners even around here  - where no one would think that they exist.

Oh, and as I learned at home growing up – there is always a room to throw all the stuff I you can't figure out what to do with in so the house will look nice for any family or friends who come by.  :-)






Thursday, December 12, 2019

REAL ESTATE TAX EXEMPTION PAPERWORK AND TEETH FOR HUSBAND

In our state, which has high taxes, being over 65, we are entitled to a senior exemption from part of our real estate taxes (which is a BIG amount) and since our school taxes are a separate real estate tax, we are also entitled to a partial exemption from same from our state.  In speaking with friends in other counties this is handled by the local township, village, or city and is a simple process.  In our county it is handled by the county and they seem to make it hard in an attempt to make it harder to obtain the exemption.

I understand that they have to make sure that those obtaining these credits are entitled to them but if I was not an accountant I would have a problem with the paperwork in past years and even more so this year. 

First year we were entitled to the exemption I put together the info we seemed to need and we went to one of the meetings that the county holds in libraries around the county about the exemption.  We need to fill in a form that is actually pretty straight forward.  We also need to supply copies of W2s, 1099s etc. to prove our income – okay not too bad from the prior year .  If our income was under the maximum amount allowed that would be all we need to do.  My mom cannot understand why I scream about this process as she has a 1099 for interest, one for some small dividends and one from Social Security and that is all she needs to make copies of and send with her application form.  Have I mentioned that the paperwork needs to be filed annually?

Since our income is higher than the maximum amount allowed, we need to provide our medical costs paid by us to bring our income under the maximum.  Sounds easy, right, make copies of the checks or charge slips that paid our medical insurance, doctors, pharmacies, eyeglasses, etc.?  No, they will not accept canceled checks or credit card slips as proof.  We have to get a printout for the year from each of the medical insurance companies, doctors, etc. that we paid money to during the year.  Pharmacy – no problem, the understood what we needed.  (Maybe because they are in our state?)  Dentist – no problem, he printed our our payments file.  Medical Insurance companies – ha, ha, ha.  I have now dealt with 3 of them trying to get printouts – and now have done so over multiple years.  The first year I only had to get same from the one (ACA) insurance company we had both shared the year before.  After several calls I finally had what I needed and I made a note of what they called it to help the following year.  Second year I had to get same for us, and husband had switched to Medicare during the prior year – so I had to get printouts from his supplemental policy and his medications (Part D) policy as well.  (Actual Medicare paid is shown on the Social Security form and they accept that.)  Since this is all done towards the end of the year using information from a year before, when I got the info last year my Medical insurance co had also sent the payments for last year as I had already switched to Medicare and I held onto same for the filing this year.  This year I managed to get the printout for our two medication policies on the first try.  It took 4 tries – the last by mail with a copy of the printout that they sent last year  - to get a copy of same from our supplemental policy company.

As, I mentioned the first year we were applying we went in and met with a person from the assessor''s office about this.  https://wheredidileavethat.blogspot.com/2017/10/dealing-with-county-bureaucracy.html  In addition to all the paperwork that was listed and we had with us, they wanted other paperwork.  The employee said that our income was too high.  I pointed out that we have medical expenses that bring the income down and well into range.  “But these have to be medical expenses that YOU pay, not someone else!”  Who the heck else is paying our medical costs but us?   She took the info we had and I get to get a form from IRS showing the W2s etc that they had on record for us also.  (This is a very valuable form that I did not know about before this.  A client of mine between moving and losing her husband had not filed her /their income taxes.  She filed later ones, but not that one.  I pushed her to her file it as she normally has a sizable refund due, but then she could not find the information forms she had been mailed – this form allowed us to get copies of them so her return could be prepared.  In addition husband is having a fight with an online payment processor which wants proof of his corporation's “Social Security number” - it does not have one.  They need a notice or bill sent within the past 6 months (umm, we pay on time, only if one has not paid would one get either – do they really want to do business with people who don't pay their bills?) showing the Social Security number.  I sent away for this form as it shows the Business ID number of the business and will dated within 6 months – I hope that will resolve the matter.)

Last year since I knew what had to be done I collected the papers, made copies and we mailed them – certified mail – to the county over a month and a half in advance of the due date and relaxed waiting for the notice to be sent of the exemption we were entitled to.  We received a robocall from the County Executive that we had filed for the program before, but had not filed for “this” (last) year yet.  I had to take mom to the doctor and this office cannot be reached by telephone.  I tried calling anyway, but got the usual - “We do not have time to speak to anyone.  There is extremely limited parking here, so don't bother to come here.” message. (I am not exaggerating – that is how their phone is answered and there is a currently a movement by higher county officials to make them take calls.- the parking part is correct, it is almost impossible to park to go to them.)  I tried again later in the day while mom was in with her doctor and there was a message that the call had been in error.  Turns out that instead of calling 3000 something seniors, every one of 400,000 plus land owners had been called.  Per the information on TV that night if one had a receipt from the assessor's office one was okay.  There had been a line 2 hours plus long of people running in with the problem.  The next day we made an additional copy of the application and all the attachments and drove there – husband dropped me off and drove about 5 blocks away to a store's parking lot to wait for me.  They did have our application.  They could not give me a receipt as it had been received by mail, but they did have it.  And we did get our partial exemption.  We decided that in the future I would walk the application in to them, while husband waited in car. 

Knowing I would need all of this I started collecting and requesting the information earlier in the year this time and had it all ready for when we received the application in August.  After we did all the rest of the problems that I have posted about with mom happened.  I worked a bit on the exemption when I could.  I thought that it would easy this third time, but they added to what they need.  If one has business income (and we each have a very small professional business – both with losses in 2018 the year we are giving them for the 2020-2021 real estate tax year) one has to provide proof of all income and expenses.  This actually turned out to be harder and more time consuming than any IRS or state (of 5 states I have done income taxes for) audit!!

Husband's was fairly straight forward – he gets paid through an online company and the printouts from same show the income and the fee taken from same.  (His income was not high enough for a 1099 form last year.)  8 photocopies (he did not get paid every month) took care of the proof of income and of the fees paid to get paid.  He had maybe 3 other expenses plus car expense and Internet expenses.  I had a 1099 from one client and deposit slips plus copies of checks received from my other clients.  I cannot reveal names of same so I blacked out all identifying income of clients.  I have a variety of expenses – office supplies, exams I have to take, computer, subway etc plus my share of car expenses and Internet expenses.  I had to copy every gas receipt, every repair receipt, car insurance, etc. for the car and also all of our Internet service bills.  I then used the copy of the breakdown of the car expenses that I used for our tax return to show same and had to do a breakdown of our Internet service expenses for them.  I scanned each page of the entire form and attachments into the computer as I added them to the stack of papers.  I also wrote a summary of what was enclosed – that was 6 pages long – and put a title page on each of the sections of  papers, plus a cover letter.  I know I passed 180 pages! 

Then I went to attach the papers to each other – I did not own a clip large enough and even my  special “large stack of papers” stapler would not work.  I ended up putting the application and main papers in one clipped package and the business income and expense proof in a second one. 

I finished this over last weekend and we planned to take it this past Monday to the assessor's office as we wanted their receipt for it (plus it would cost a fortune to mail).  So, last Friday husband's front tooth fell out.  Our dentist retired and while we had 4 possibilities, we did not know who to go to.  We are doing a colonial craft show this coming Saturday and he really needed this tooth replaced.  We decided to go with a local office that we pass which has good reviews which has a lab in it and takes walkins.  Husband had me call on Friday and the phone kept ringing.  I finally called their office in the county west of us and was told that the office near us was closed until Monday.  My already panicked husband was in that state all weekend.  Remember – we planned to bring the application for the exemption to the county on Monday.  Monday morning I started calling the dentist's office at 9:40 and it just rang.  I called the other office again and was told that someone would be there by 10 am.  I started calling at 10:10 and either the line was busy or it did not connect.  I should mention that it was heavily raining.  At 10:30 I called the other office again, apologized and explained.  She said that she would have them call us.  They did – they were having troubles with their lines. Big problem – dentist was away until the following Saturday (still 3 days away as I write this).  I explained why we needed to come in.  At last a break!!!  The technician was in – Monday his only day – and he might be able to add the teeth (there was another one out and ignored while waiting for this front tooth to go) for us – but we would have to come right away.  We did.  Very nice receptionist and technician.  After the inevitable paperwork the tech took a mold and we were told it would be ready by 2 pm – same day!!  I went to the desk to pay for the work (much less than we thought it would cost), but due to the telephone lines problem, the credit card would not process.  I was trying to figure out if we had enough in checking to cover the cost, when she decided to call the other office – she read the info to the lady there who had been of so much help and the receipt would be waiting for us to sign when returned. 

It was just around noon.  Husband decided that we should go to the assessors' office and deliver the paperwork.  Of course when I was taking same with us as we left for the dentist, he told me to leave it home and we had to go home and get it.  I had figured that the assessor's office would be jammed and we decided if I was not done by 1:30 I would leave so we get his teeth.  (He has an older set that he was wearing.)  I also figured that since it was lunch time it would be even worse as people would come during same and less employees would be working.  I went in and there were less than 20 people ahead of me.  (Texted husband same.) 

At first I was amazed how fast it was going.  One of the 3 employees working at this spent the entire time I was there with one woman who apparently had a real mess.  One of them was seeing people, collecting paperwork that was right and seeing person after person.  The third seemed to be a supervisor.  I happened to be seated near him and could hear what was going on.  There was a man there delivering papers for some other matter of the assessor's office and he was wasting time – he could not understand to give the employee the needed papers and had to go and make photocopies (they had a free machine in the room) – the employee then took a couple of people dropping off their exemption papers.  Then the fellow came back – he kept asking if all the papers were right and the employee kept telling him that it was not his decision.  The fellow went to make more copies.  I turned to the employee and said “You have great patience.”  He smiled back at and nodded.  He then took someone again.  He was about to take someone else, when the fellow came back.  This threw the numbers off.  He had been about to see #79 and it had disappeared off the list of numbers to call.  He told the other employees to call that number, but they forgot and called #80 – who nicely let 79 go ahead of her.  Then when they called 81- 80 went.  There was then a discussion between the two regular employees – you take 81, I'll take 82 – me.  But someone with something from before came back.  I stayed near where they working to make sure that I was next. 

The employee asked for the papers and I handed them to her and explained it was too large to put together  - not for her – a rubber band around the two and a huge clip on top and it was done.  She handed me a computer issued receipt and it was done! 

As I was about to text to husband to come back to the building and pick me up – he texted asking if I was going to see someone soon.  I texted back.  He picked me up and we went back to the dentist.

The teeth were perfect!  I signed the copy of the credit card slip, took our copy and we left.  Two major problems resolved at the same time!  And we now know of a dentist to go to.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

When there is a huge problem – do it step by step.  Expect that things will go wrong or be different than last you time you did the same thing.  Take advantage of down time (in this case I had worked on finishing the exemption form in short bursts over the weekend between shopping for his younger niece's gift, meals out and movie night -plus the run to the assessor's office while waiting for his teeth).  Somehow the work always seems to get done.  The paperwork was due by January 2, but we wanted it in before the holidays.