Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Neighborhood Cleanup/Throw Your Junk In The Street Day

Once a year, we are given a "Neighborhood Clean Up Day". A free day to get rid of the big stuff. BIG stuff. Old refrigerators. Furniture, all sorts. Broken toys. You name it, it goes out there. Unless it's something like slightly decayed plutonium or something. There is a list of do's and don'ts. We are limited on the number of tires we can dispose of, for example. And we must stack them separately. I have yet to see tires. I have to wonder how many middle class homes have random TIRES hanging around. If I have an old tire, it was left at the tire store when I got a new one, ya know?

We are not to put things like computers and TV's out on the pile. These are "hazardous electronic waste". There will be directions on disposing of those things at a later date.

Furthermore, there shall be NO SCAVAGING.

So people put out their old TV's and computers and the scavengers take them away. Drive around the night before and behold that junk. The two sofas, in front of two different houses, that HAD to be the height of home furnishing fashion. In 1983. Wonder why they didn't just put "it" in the regular trash as "it" would surely fit without a problem. Realize that those little kids just aren't little anymore and the swing set has seen better days.

Be alert. Be VERY alert in the predawn hours. Scavengers are pawing through the piles. The Little Tykes Tool Bench is gone. The double mattress and box spring? Gone. So is the TV. Get out of the way, here comes one that is eyeing that turtle sandbox/wading pool.

In some ways, I feel rather sad. I see people obviously downtrodden and with less means going through the piles. But then I see someone in a $45,000 pick up truck that boasts of 7 miles per gallon and think.... y'all need to reprioritize. If you're getting your kids toys out of other people's trash.... get a cheaper car that costs less to drive and just BUY your kid a sandbox.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Humor through the eyes of a teen...

We rented "Young Frankenstein" tonight. We insisted both the girls watch it as part of their ongoing Cultural Education. They have had to watch old musicals like "Paint Your Wagon" and "Music Man" as part of this training as well.

"Young Frankenstein" is full of double entendres. Miss Emma doesn't give any sort of outward indication of it being funny at all.

But Miss Kate? A chortle. A nervous giggle. A snort.

Her father and I find THIS funnier than the original joke.

Sadly, they no longer think I am the originator of the "walk this way" command....

Friday, February 17, 2006

Gather your daughters 'round....

And lose an hour of your life.


Don't judge a book by its cover.... 'cause the cover lies....

Go to "Portfolio".

Agree not to do anything dastardly with the images.

Go to "before/after".

Thursday, February 16, 2006

God Moments

Last weekend I went on our church's annual Women's Retreat. Last year I didn't go. I went to Texas. And that was the same thing....with less crying and more laughing. Probably same number of tears shed tho'.....

Anyway. This year's theme was "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord". Perhaps you know the song....

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.
Open the eyes of my heart.
I want to see you.
I want to see you.

We sing it in worship every now and again and we sang it during the retreat. Our facilitator, Karen Oliveto, helped us to be more aware of and become more aware of the "God Moments". Those moments, things, people... in which God is present. Be less busy...and "open the eyes of your heart" and see God....

Today (as you have already read) I was at work. After the Big Return there was a lull in client traffic. During these times sometimes I visit with my co-workers. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I knit. Today as I was sitting there doing NONE of those things... just looking out the window watching the car traffic go by.... I had a sudden thought.

So I took my cell phone and sent a text message. It was a sentiment my friends and I often say to each other because one of us has said something that needed to be said and 'that' one said it... But today.... it just came to me. And I said it to her.

As I was finishing my take out Chinese food, she called me. She wondered what it was that she had said and to whom had she said it. She had spent several hours trying to remember.... Nope. Just had the thought.....

It seems she was having a particularly trying day today.

And in my moment of unbusyness, God spoke to my heart.

Stop. Listen. Open the eyes of your heart.

I just need to remember that.....

Why I Do What I Do

Because I'm good at it. And because there are way too many people out there taking people's monety to prepare their tax returns who don't know their ass from a 1040.

Today was the day that makes up for the liars and tax cheats that I encounter far too often.

They have been loyal clients of our major competitor. Their usual preparer had moved since last year and so were assigned to another preparer. This year, the taxes were more challenging. They had, this year, some unusual items to go on the return. Nothing particularly difficult... just had to pay attention and put everything in the right places. In many ways, rather straightforward. But not something we get every day.

The competitor started their return and got to the 'out of the ordinary' things and said... no can do. Oh...and by the way.... you'll probably owe the IRS over $14,000. They knew they would owe. Everyone told them so. And this tax preparer assured them it was true....they would.

She fretted about paying that bill. She asked if she can make payments. She wondered if a Home Equity Loan would be a better option. Would the interest on an Equity Loan be more or less than the IRS would charge?

So she called us. Asked if we would even be able to DO the return....you know...cause she had this extra stuff.... No problem she was told on the phone.

I admit. It gave me pause when she said the competitor couldn't do it. See... there ARE things we can't do. It is just beyond our scope of expertise. So I asked questions. I let her tell her story. I asked some more questions. I told her sure... I could do it. And yea... go get a soda... no need to watch me input numbers.....

She left her cell phone number in case I had a questions. I did. I knew it was coming but I wasn't sure of the EXACT wording (see the aforementioned 'unusual' aspect of this thing). I called. I asked my question. She gave me her answer.... and I felt a lot better.

We got through the rest of her federal return and I asked her if she was ready for the number. She took a deep breath and said, yes... yes she was....

$12,000 (and some odd in 'change').

Ok.... ok.... she said... it was a couple grand less than the competitor had estimated...ok....

In refund.

She looked at me. REFUND? I showed her the figures there on my screen. In a choked voice she asked if we had a restroom.....

When she returned with red eyes and a stuffy nose I explained. That very VERY important question.... It made all the difference. It made a $26,000 difference. This, of course, caused her a moment of panic.... why was it SO different?

I explained again. The very simple question the competitor did not ask.... it was all in that one question. And she started crying again.

And I told her.... you're probably going to owe the state...... And they do. A few hundred... not much at all really.

Then she said she didn't even care how much I was going to charge her. Good I thought.... cause it was gonna be spendy. We charge by the form, and this one required a LOT of forms....

When I told her how much they owed me...she laughed. Seems the competitor was going to charge them more too.....

As she stood to leave she shook my hand and said "I don't know whether to hug you, kiss you or just jump up and down!" I told her to just sleep well tonight. (yea.... I get enough germs thankyouverymuch...no offense...but shaking hands gives me the willies ENOUGH...no hugging...no kissing...)

She said "Yea... I haven't been sleeping very well worrying about how we were going to pay the IRS...."

It isn't often you get to give someone the gift of peaceful sleep.

I got to do that today.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


We are always in a state of drought or semi-drought in California. 'Tis the nature of our geography.....

This year we've had quite a bit of rain. The good thing is that we need the water. The bad thing is rain makes vegetation grow. Everywhere.

Another quirk of our geography is the hot, VERY dry winds that come from the East...known as The Santa Ana Winds or The Santana Winds. The former for the hills that it comes sweeping over, the latter for what they really are.... Devil Winds.

Usually at this time of year, if we have them blow, they just make everyone cranky. Yep. These winds affect mood. It's like everyone is PMS-ing. But the abundance of vegetation and no rain for a few weeks and the drying effects of the winds....


Mandatory Evacuations are in place. My friend from church... her family has been evacuated. They don't live too far from my own parents. I haven't spoken to them, but I am very very sure my mom would call if they were evacuated. My dad was probably out trying to keep ash out of the swimming pool when I called....

The fire is, from what I can gather from various news agencies, just on the other side of the hill from my parents. The toll road that is either loved or hated (depending on if you have access, I suppose) may end up being the savior... it is, at this point, the major fire break. But the canyon just a few miles from my parents is under voluntary evacuation.

The last time the fire was this close, I was in high school. It got smokier and smokier the closer we got to home after a parade. Horses were corralled on the tennis courts of school. Some bandos weren't allowed to go home as the area had been evacuated. Some of my classmates spent that weekend literally fighting fire in their backyards.

If that fire comes sweeping over the hill.... well, those are houses with shake roofs and mature trees and bushes....

And there is no rain on the horizon.....

Monday, February 06, 2006


Sometimes I feel like my body just does. not. like. me. I don't know why. I take reasonably good care of it. Most of the problems it has, it has brought upon itself..... *I* didn't inflict it with the various maladies. I take it to the doctor. I fix whatever is wrong with it as soon as possible.

So WHY??? Why would it just literally stab me in the back for the mere crime of STANDING UP?

Today has been a waste. It was supposed to be a watch movies and bake cookies day with Emma. We watched movies....no cookies.

We also went to the chiropractor. Who was able to crack my back into a point where I can stand upright. For which I am grateful. But tomorrow I must go to work. Sitting work. Which is ok. I will take my heating pad. I also go back for another crack tomorrow. Hopefully I will be able to function.....

None of my pain killer pills are helping. So I've resorted to a simple regimine of aspirin to help with inflammation. Why take the narcotics when they don't do anything more than aspirin. (see....I'm being considerate of both my liver and my digestive tract... a little consideration here....some quid pro quo???)

And I'm going away on Friday. Not far, but it will involve a suitcase.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Daring Randomness

Yesterday I asked a man at work out on a date.

He's kinda cute. I share a desk with him. He takes over my desk when I leave. So I don't spend much time with him.... just the few minutes that it takes to make the desk handoff. Sometimes I spend a few extra minutes bringing him up to speed on a client that SWEARS they will be back "tonight" (loosely defined as "sometimes before April 15") just in case they actually DO return during his shift. I always leave detailed notes...but it gives me an excuse to stand next to him.

Sometimes my arm touches his, even!

I didn't actually ask him out on a date, face to face. I texted the question. But he answered back in the affirmative. So we are going out. TONIGHT!

The kids will have to forage through the leftovers for dinner tonight. Cause Mom and Dad are OUTTA HERE.

....unless we are too wiped out from work and just decide that 12 hours of sleep is the better option.....

Thursday, February 02, 2006


First noticeable improvement around here: The Boy has caused regular, un-nagged (!!) attention to personal hygiene. I haven't met The Boy yet. But I love him.

Second noticeable improvement: Chores are being done. Phone call to me today: "Hi mom, it's me. Can I play with Kaelin? Cause I did all my chores...." I granted permission and came home to find that yes, indeed, she had done all assigned chores.

Sometime over the weekend someone spiked my kids hot chocolate with Maturity and Responsibility. (as evidenced by the LACK of hot chocolate mugs strewn about in the family room and instead set in the sink. Not quite in the dishwasher but a BIG improvement.)

Thank you. Whoever you are.

(I hope it holds....)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

To Blog or Not To Blog...etc...

Periodically I am chastised for not updating my blog. I don't not blog to irritate anyone. And I understand that irritation because I feel it too when *I* go to the same thing for a week at a time at someone else's blog.

I have not endeavored to blog every day. I know someone who does. But he comes up with these obscure, but nonetheless facinating little web tidbits to fill in for the days that he doesn't have a personal story to relate. And I usually follow them. And an hour later I still have nothing to blog about.

So if you arrive here in a week and this is still the latest entry, forgive me. But I simply have nothing worthwhile to say. Or nothing I should say in public..... And I guess that's my point. I have a lot of 'stuff' in my everyday life. But really.... you wouldn't want me discussing your taxes on my blog, so I won't discuss other people's here either!

But I am SURE that by April there will be a Tax Preparer's Lament of some sort. But for now... we're just tired. It's been surprisingly busy at our office.....