I've finally decided that I am a writer - all the other things I do just pay the bills. Someone eloquent once said that if you do what you love, the money will follow. Well, let's just see about that.
Aggie was my fifteen-year-old cairn terrier - or maybe I should say I was her 55-year-old person! She was my faithful companion, spoiled rotten and I am still trying to figure out what to do without her.
Peter the Cat...
This is Peter the gingersnap tabby! He's seven years old and has just been promoted to Peter the Very, Very Good. He is working his way up to Peter the Great...
Bee - the Cat Who Came From Somewhere Else...
Bee is Peter's buddy. He's eight years old and has made himself right at home. I guess cats really do come in pairs or sets of three!
And Jasper makes three!
Jasper is our new guy - the Cat From Another Place. He's four years old and we think he likes it here - so far, so good!
I have been so busy today and I am so thankful for all of the work. And new clients - and for the old clients who bring them to see me. When I thought I had lost almost everything last year, including my mind, God was so good to me. He continues to provide every day. I am grateful beyond words for the blessings of today, this week, this month... It looks like 2010 is going to be a lot better than 2009 was!
Well, most of them anyway. And no, I'm not writing about food or cooking or eating today. No, today I am writing about my clients - the reason I really like doing what I do. I know get exasperated sometimes, but I have come to realize that the majority of my clients are just like a big extended family. I don't see most of them very often, but when they do come in, we are glad to see each other and spend time catching up - not just doing taxes. JW, who sold his furniture repair business to my new friends Tom and Allen, came in with his tax stuff and to tell me about his new antique business that he started since retiring. We had a nice talk about the joys of being frugal. Mary was here yesterday with her taxes (and her daughter's stuff) and we chatted for a while, had a good laugh or two and vowed to get together soon. We met about five years ago when I was working in Sarasota and just clicked. I had given her a little bag of my Busy Bee cards and she stopped by today and brought me lunch - pasta with clam sauce - because we had talked about being pasta-holics yesterday. That was so thoughtful of her - and the pasta is delicious. This morning, Roberto was here to do his 2009 taxes and practice his English. I heard all about his crazy Cuban landlord's wife and his own equally crazy ex-wife. Mary says I should re-think not renewing my lease here because so many people stop by and she thinks they'd miss me. It's like one-stop taxes and therapy...
I actually printed out my 2010 Goal forms - so I'm trying to look ahead, be self-sufficient and goal-oriented. It's only January 27, so I haven't screwed up my New Year's resolution yet. Ha! This morning on the way to work, I was doing my daily worry thing, mental hand-wringing and the like, and I prayed, "Lord, I need your help. Let me be busy today." And I was! I had ten customers - two of them new clients! My friend Dorene keeps reminding me that God will meet our immediate needs - I need to learn to trust in that.
I finally watched the movie. And I felt the same way I did about the book: leave out the annoying parts about the self-absorbed, not-very-nice Julie Powell and give us a biopic about the wonderful, delightful and ever-interesting Julia Child. Meryl Streep was fantastic and I absolutely adore Stanley Tucci. They have a great chemistry (remember The Devil Wears Prada?) and I could watch both of them for hours. Of course, it didn't make me want to bone a duck, but I am thinking about making a batch of potato leek soup...
I have the most wonderful cranberry-mandarin candle burning in the office right now. I also put one in my large candle warmer and now the whole office smells great! They were an amazing deal at WalMart; I went to buy paper towels and batteries for my camera and I couldn't pass up the candle bargain. I used to love Yankee Candle jar candles - but I have learned not to love the price! At WalMart, I got two large jar candles and three small votive candles in glass holders for $10. They also had hazelnut vanilla, warm apple pie and one other scent I can't remember the name of. My splurge for the month...
Well, I've had a pretty productive day. Not many clients, but I did get a lot done. I have all but one of my bookkeeping clients' 2009 stuff all ready to do their annual corporate tax returns. I am pretty pleased with myself on that account, if I do say so myself. Last year I was struggling to get everything done by March 15th for corporate returns! I tried to delegate and it didn't go well, so I am back to doing everything myself. At my old job, some of the ladies used to get mad at me when I ignored their complaints about their workload and told them, "It's easier to keep up than catch up." But truer words were never spoken; the thing that got me was that four or five ladies in the records department sent their data entry work to one person, who had no trouble keeping up with that workload at all. So I've gone back to taking my own advice - I'm keeping up instead of struggling to catch up!
Remember the saying: The customer is always right? Wrong. Maybe I'm just in a perverse mood today, or it could have something to do with the fact that I do not suffer fools gladly, but I have just made a unilateral executive decision and instituted a new company policy: I am right until satisfactorily proven wrong by any pain-in-the-ass customer. Contrary to current popular belief, there is only one correct answer to a simple, one W2 tax return for a single person with no itemized deductions. It does not matter where you go or who prepares your tax return, the tax tables, standard deductions, personal exemptions and new Making Work Pay credit are all the same. If my software says you're getting back a paltry $600 (as if $600 isn't a windfall these days!), then so will the software at any other reputable tax preparation firm. If the software didn't all calculate the same results given the same variables, then it wouldn't be certified by the IRS. It's as simple as that - yet people who are looking for free money want to argue and refund shop. I almost lost it today with a particularly annoying fellow, who incidentally was born six years after I graduated from college, who wanted to know how long I'd been doing this and if I was sure about his refund. He said he was going to go somewhere else and see if he could get more money. I wished him luck. And don't let the door smack you in the butt on the way out. I swear, if he comes back I am telling him to get out and shove his $40 up his bum, buck by buck. I have a feeling my new client price is going to be short-lived - or will only apply at my discretion for normal people who really need some help. That's why it doesn't suck being the boss.
I woke up this morning with the worst headache! I thought it would go away by the time I ate lunch, but no such luck. Every time I move my head, my neck goes snap, snap, snap... A massage would be nice - or a quick trip to the chiropractor, but alas, I have no relief to keep the office open in my absence, so I'll just listen to the snap, crackle and pop. It's almost six and I don't expect any clients before seven, so I may just get home in time to watch DVD 1 of Return to Lonesome Dove before I zonk out for the night. I have to get back into the routine of working longer hours - the luxury of summer and fall is over for now. Like I should actually complain! Nine returns so far in two days, so that's a good thing, as Martha would say.
Petey ventured out to see what Mom was doing at the office so late. I'm surprised because my last client had four kids and he is not enamored of people in general, but young people in particular. I guess he decided we were really alone and thought he'd have his dinner.
I've just finished downloading my 2009 tax software and I'm read to be busy as a bee! I have three clients scheduled for late this afternoon and early evening, so I am finally on my way. This day sure has been a long time in coming and I will be happy for the work. I feel like I've been in a big, dark hole and I'm finally digging my way out. I'm putting a sign in my window:
My friend Long told me where I can get a big banner made for about $95 that he will hang on the side of his van for me. He parks out by the road with his sign on the other side. That should drum up some business!
You'd think I was going out of business! Or moving.
We moved the sofa to make the room look like it was still full - but I think the sofa is lonely for the loveseat, chair and ottoman. Oh well, it'll just have to get over it. Moving on Saturday was an adventure - I had the best help! Heather, Richard, Long, Tom and Allen worked their butts off! Tom and Allen moved furniture stuff from the office in their truck - three trips - because vandals shot the radiator out of Long's big van. That poor guy has no luck these days! The rest of us (mainly them - I loaded boxes and bins with stuff) moved stuff from the old place to the new one. I hadn't even been in the new apartment yet, since I picked up the keys on Friday afternoon and so I went in the first time when we brought the first load of stuff from the office. It looked HUGE! But then, most anything would look huge next to the old place. Then I went to pack up stuff while the guys moved stuff in for me. By the time I went back over to the new apartment with Aggie, the frenzied, barking cairn terrier, it didn't look so huge anymore. But it's so much bigger and more open than where I was. And quiet! I can't hear anyone else, thank you, Lord! We put Aggie in a crate while we were packing and moving and she was not too bad when I was with her, but as soon as I went over the new place to direct traffic and start putting stuff away, you could actually hear her barking her head off. Heather loaded the crate into the lawn cart and wheeled her over to be with Mom. Smart move - she quieted right down. We started about 10:30 and we were finished by 1:30! Amazing - I am so blessed to have friends that are willing to help me out. I can't lift much and I am worthless at carrying anything that requires two hands, so they were all a godsend. I think I'm going to make a big turkey dinner in a week or so and have a party. I think turkey is something they can all agree on. And maybe I can get Long's lovely wife Thao to make egg rolls. Hmmm... An international thank-you dinner party.
I spent until about midnight Saturday putting the kitchen stuff away. Decisions, decisions... So much more cupboard space and counter top room! I even have my prized set of Mary Engelbreit dishes from storage all washed and in their own cupboard. My shoulder is killing me from reaching and dragging and trying to arrange the top cupboards and pantry, but it's worth it actually having adequate space again. I should have gotten the bigger apartment when I first moved, but I foolishly believed it was just a stop-over on the way to our new home in Pennsylvania. Oh well - live and learn, I guess. A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, which I know I have said before. Yesterday, I worked all day on getting the pile of stuff out of the dining room and getting that room in order. It's coming along - but I need to do some re-arranging in the living room. Alas, not every gay guy is a decorating guru like the gang on Queer Eye. I was sitting in the living room last night looking at the straight row of brown furniture along one wall. Definite man- arrangement, which surprised me because Richard and Long had nothing to do with that - Tom and Allen moved the furniture. See, I shouldn't stereotype people. My final frontier is the bedroom, which I am going to finish as soon as I get home. Heather cleaned the old apartment this morning - by 8:00 am! - so I just have to return the keys by this afternoon. Then she and her crew came and cleaned the office - which is why it looks to spotless in the photographs above. Spotless and empty...
Okay, so I'm sitting there last night, minding my own business and reading TheEnemy by Lee Child - a great book, by the way - when I hear this noise. At first I thought Aggie was snoring, as she is sometimes wont to do. I patted her on the head and she looked up at me with her little pink tongue poking out of her mouth, as if to say, "What'd you wake me up for, Mom?" Not Aggie - sorry about that, baby girl. I still heard the noise. I listened for a little bit longer to determine where the noise was coming from and I realized that it was coming from the other side of the wall behind my sofa - where the back building stairs are. It was a female voice and it got louder and well, more pornographic. I looked at the clock on the stove; it was 10:45 pm. Was I hearing things or could Miss PD and her paramour - he of just how many knocks I am not sure - really be, youknow, on the back stairs? It wasn't my upstairs neighbors on their porch - the sound was coming from the stairs on the other side of my living room wall. When I went to my door, the sound got louder; this trollop was definitely on the back stairs with Mr. KnockKnock Whomever. I mean, honestly - have some people no shame? Or dignity? Then a hilarious thought hit me: suppose she gets knocked up by Mr. KnockKnock? Yes, I am definitely glad I am moving on Saturday.
This is Spike. He was three in October. Okay, his real name is Uriel but I have called him Spike since he was a baby because of his hair. His mom calls it Mexican hair. Ariela and Spike brought me warm homemade bread for lunch today! I should have taken a picture of it before we cut it... And a picture of Ariela - we were too excited about the bread, I guess. We got some broccoli corn chowder from Cari's and had a picnic at my desk. Spike had his lunch bag from day care with him; this kid won't eat a sandwich because he doesn't like mushy bread. He wants to eat crisp things. Which is funny, because he would eat his weight, all 42 pounds of it, in beans and fresh corn tortillas. Ariela says that's his Mexican genes. She's from Nicaragua and she says the food there is completely different from Mexican food. Her husband sometimes goes to his mother's house for a Mexican grease fix - she loves to cook and bake and it's not always what Marco thinks they should have for dinner. Men! Her latest culinary project has been baking bread and I gave her my dad's recipe for Cottage Bread and that's what she brought me today. A blast from the past! I promised to find my dad's yeast roll recipe for her. She's going to be taking a course next month in pastry and cake making at the local technical school. As soon as she gets her citizenship, she wants to get a job at Publix in the bakery doing cake decorating. I think she'd be good at it.
The seven-knock guy was back again last night, knocking on Miss Pink Dog's door, although he limited his knocking to five cycles of seven this time. The girl of his dreams must have been out with the six-knock guy or the eight-knock guy because this time he gave up - after only 35 knocks - and then he stood on the sidewalk outside my lanai to loudly share his misery with someone much more patient and understanding than me via cell phone. But he's just so incredibly articulate (ha!) that I had to share how the side of the conversation I heard went:
I've left out all the F-words...
"I can't believe this. She's not home again." Silence.
"Yes, I've talked to her. We've been texting like crazy and then she won't return my calls." Pause.
"You know what makes me mad? I mean, you know what makes me really mad? What makes me mad is this - wait, wait, wait - you know what really makes me mad..." Foot tapping and pacing back and forth.
"There's only a three year age difference - I'm 27. You'd expect this from a teenager." Pause.
"Well, she friended me on MySpace and then deleted me. Then she calls me and tells me she deleted me by accident. You have to confirm when you delete - she did it on purpose." Another silence. He continues to hold forth about the MySpace incident for some time - I got bored and went to the bathroom.
When I came back, he was relating a recent conversation he'd apparently had with Miss PD:
"So I told her, like, blah blah blah, you know." Pause.
"Then she goes on like blah blah blah blah and I was like whatever." Long silence.
He actually said blah blah blah - those precise words - maybe the person on the other end of his cell phone has a blah translator or something - or blah blah blah is new slang for something. I only know yadda yadda yadda, so I was at a loss as to what their conversation was really about.
He finally just walked up the sidewalk, still talking on his phone. Maybe he was hoping Miss PD would sneak downstairs to see if the coast was clear. When I move, I don't know if I'm going to miss finding out how this ends or not. Stay tuned.
She finally sat still long enough for me to take her picture after her trip to the groomer's last week. Her dad gave her $50 for Christmas so she could get her raggedy self trimmed. She had ripped out so much of her hair and scratched herself silly that she is almost shaved! At least she's given up on the itching... For now, anyway.
I never thought I'd be happy to see Monday come around. I stayed home with Aggie all weekend, reading and trying to stay warm. I finally finished GWTW and then we watched LonesomeDove. I've never read the book - I really ought to as I've heard it's quite good. I just don't want to get hooked on another author! I watched ComancheMoon when it was on last year and I had a really hard time with the younger versions (weird casting) of the Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones characters. I've watched LD so many times I've lost track. It kills me to see Robert Urich be a bad guy, although Jake Spoon really just fell in with the wrong crowd, I mean, Dee Boot's brother and all... I always wondered if July Johnson got together with Claire Allen and if Newt grew up to marry Claire's daughter, Sally. And I never could understand why Larry McMurtry killed Joshua Deets off. As you can see, I've gotten pretty attached to these characters over the years! I tried to watch Dead Man's Walk but James Garner as the old version of Woodrow Call was terrible and Sissy Spacek as Lorena was completely wrong. Sam Shepard wasn't a bad Pea Eye Parker, but I was sort of fond of the original guy. Apparently I missed Return to Lonesome Dove somewhere along the line, so I'm going to put it on my Netflix queue. So anyway, after we watched LD, I finished reading my stack of Alex Matthews mysteries so I could pass them on to Richard. I discovered her a few years ago on DorothyL, the mystery writers list, and I won her first five or six books by guessing how many peanut butter cups in a jar - one of the few times I've ever won anything! They're pretty good - and of course, there's a cat, so what's not to like? I have one more to read and I'm caught up - trying to clear out my book drawer getting ready to move on Friday. I'm looking forward to it.
I don't know what it is with me: I start out every new year reading long books and watching long movies. Foolish consistency, I suppose, is the hobgoblin of my little mind. Part of the ritual is getting myself inspired to write. GWTW always spurs me on toward greatness, which I somehow always fail to reach, but I am spurred on nonetheless. The Stand reminds me that a) long books are actually published, 2) long books get made into movies (or a TV mini-series as it were) and d) to quote TS Eliot, "this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper." Oh Lord, I am waxing philosophical and quoting The Hollow Men. I need to do something to get out of this blue funk!
When I have nothing to do, I cook. I put a big pot of pea soup (two big bags of dried split peas!) in the crock pot with chicken bouillon, onions and diced ham. Then I baked two batches of chewy walnut brownies. I've been handing brownies out to anyone who comes into the office. The mailman went off with a baggie full - have to keep the regulars happy!
I've discovered that you can get Spenser: For Hire made-for-TV movies on DVD from Netflix. I've exhausted their supply of Tom Selleck movies and now I've moved on to Robert Urich, whom I have always suspected was my dad's illegitimate son. Well, probably not, but they sure looked alike. I remember the first time I saw him on S.W.A.T. when I was a teenager. I said, "Daddy, is there something you haven't told us?" He got a kick out of it and promptly became a Robert Urich fan. The show always had such great, snappy dialogue and Hawk was a hilarious character. I think I've read every Robert Parker Spenser novel there is - and the show never failed to measure up to the characters on the page. I wonder if Parker wrote the scripts? I've seen two of the movies and I have two more coming. Any suggestions for next week?
I got a newsletter e-mail from HomeMade Simple today and they had a blurb on Goals for 2010. Check out the cute Goal Planner here. My favorite thing about the planner was a spot for the reward. Does that make me goal-oriented or reward-oriented? Not that I've made a list of goals yet - I just liked the organizational aspect of the idea. I guess I'm organization-oriented.
Well, it's January and I am about halfway finished reading my first novel of the year. Yes, it's always GoneWiththeWind - the first grown-up book I ever read. Okay, my first adult book might have been Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt, but I'm fairly sure it was GWTW. I wish I could say why I love it so much, or why it inspires me to write, but I can't. It's just a great book. I actually hate that scheming, ruthless bitch Scarlett, but I adore Mammy and Rhett and Melanie. I have absolutely no idea whatsoever Scarlett (or Melanie) ever saw in that wimpy Ashley Wilkes and it irks me that the movie left out characters and messed with the timeline, but I still love to visit the world Margaret Mitchell created.