About Me

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Bookkeeper, tax preparer, cat lady, blogger, organizer, mystery writer.

Welcome!

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.

RIP Aggie

RIP Aggie
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...

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 - 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!

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!

Buzz about...

Monday, March 28, 2011

ME Monday...

While I have nothing ME to share today, I ran across these photos of a Mary Engelbreit Style home and I was completely enthralled.  I like to think that I have a smidgen of ME style in my surroundings, but these two rooms are totally ME!
I know my home will never make it into a magazine, but I like it and I guess that's all that really matters.  I'm sure Mary feels the same way about her home!  For more ME fun, check out Cherry Chick!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Decisions, decisions...

DAWN:  Aggie, could you please move?  Mom needs to vacuum the floor.
AGGIE:  Zzzzzzzzz.  Snort...   Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
DAWN: Aggie.  Move your butt.
AGGIE:  ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz.
PETER:  Shall I wake her, Mom?  Oh please, oh please!!!
DAWN:  At your own risk, buddy.

Peter and I are both still undecided.
He thinks that the old adage to let sleeping dogs lie 
might be the best course of action.
I, on the other hand, will live to vacuum another day.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Such thoughtful clients...

I have!  I know that I wrote about Jill, the cardmaker extraordinaire, the other day - but I forgot to post the photograph of the card she made for me.  Isn't it pretty?  She not only makes amazing cards and scrapbook pages, but she's also a stamp designer for Sparkle & Sprinkle.  Such talent!
Then yesterday, one of my longtime clients came to drop off a big envelope of tax stuff - and his lovely wife, Chrissie, sent me this scented soy candle.  The fragrance is Creme Brulee and it smells just wonderful.  I can't wait to light it!  Thank you, Chrissie (and Nick)!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The tax season jinx...

struck once again this year.  Last year it was my internet connection gone crazy - I had to disconnect my wireless network and connect directly to the router to be able to transmit tax returns.  Not a big deal - and I have come to appreciate the added security of a direct connection rather than a hackable wireless connection - but it was trying at the time, since I am not computer hardware savvy in the least.  This year: my all-in-one printer/scanner/fax.  I am not a big fan of those all-in-one contraptions, but this laser printer from Dell held up very well during nearly four years of continuous use, so I can't complain.  The fuser was going and the noise that emanated from the thing was horrific - and it would cost almost as much to replace the fuser as it would to buy a new printer, so I'm sure you can see where I am going with this.  And there's Aggie protecting Mom from the big, bad printer box.
Here's where I confess my lifelong love of HP printers - their durability, ease of use and long-lasting toner cartridges.  This is not a paid advertisement - if you've ever owned one, you know what I mean.  So, for a little more than the price of a new fuser for the dying Dell, I got a color laser printer/scanner/fax from Staples.  Ordered it one day; it was delivered the next.  The price was the same at all the big stores - but Staples had one in stock.  Al came to my rescue by taking time out of his busy day to come unpack it and set it up for me; Jonathan cheerfully hauled the old printer and the box away.  I love my friends!  We printed a test page and voila!  Beautiful quality - and no grinding noise!
An hour or so later, one of my clients sent me a fax - that worked.  Good to know.  And then I decided to scan the day's work.  Or tried.  And tried.  Again.  Apparently, you can't just hook an all-in-one machine up and be good to go.  Well, if you just want to print and fax, sure - but not if you plan to scan.  After a half dozen false starts, I finally consulted the installation instructions and found that it is recommended that one install the scanner software prior to connecting the unit via its USB cable.  Once I worked through that little obstacle, everything worked just fine.  The scanner is much faster, more efficient and way more user-friendly than the Dell ever was - so the little installation glitch has fast faded from my memory.  Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard have greatly simplified my daily work-scanning ritual - it doesn't take much to make me happy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

So yesterday...

there's this big boom and suddenly I have no power, save the UPS running my computer.  And UPS - or uninterruptible power source - is a laugh; it runs just long enough for me to shut the computer down.  That was about 1:15 - right after my friend Jill left.  We were going to have lunch out (s signature summer salad from Crispers was calling my name!) but then I decided I hadn't ought to leave in case someone called for an appointment or came by.  Hmmph.  Shoulda gone to lunch - we were without power until about seven.  Since I have a VOIP phone - no phone, no computer, no nothing!  We must have had a squirrel with a death wish in the neighborhood because they had to replace the transformer just behind us.  Aggie had a good time watching the guys from FPL and I started re-reading Tess of the d'Urbervilles.  Okay, okay - we also had a nap.   I mean, who wouldn't?  I did fix dinner and do some meaningful work after we were electrified again, so it wasn't a totally unproductive day.  No technology is a good thing once in a while, don't you think?


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Still alive and...

Well, I'm trying to catch up.  I'm not complaining - after the past couple of years, too much work is a blessing and I am very, very thankful.  Two of my favorite people were here today - and just spending time chatting with them about life, family, their work and yes - taxes - made me realize how much I've missed being creative on a daily basis.  It's been months since I made a card - and even longer since I sat down at my sewing machine.  Denise is an amazing and creative seamstress - and she always inspires me to take up my needle and thread.  Jill is a seriously great card designer and I am always so thrilled when she makes a card just for me.  One of my biggest creative outlets over the past couple of years has been blogging - and the very act of writing something positive every day has helped me resist the urge to over-edit my work and just write.  And I have missed the daily exercise of writing so much this past month - despite the fact that I've taken a minute or two to jot down an idea every day.  So please bear with me - if anyone out there is still reading! - while I catch up a few days at a time.  I started blogging just for me - and I am truly amazed that anyone finds what I write even remotely interesting enough to choose to follow along.  Life is good - and I have some really funny stuff on my list to write about, so stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Remember this...

lovely card that my talented blogger friend Linda sent me a while back?  Well, I finally got a frame for it - didn't it turn out great?  I'd been looking for a suitable frame for a while and I ventured into WalMart today and they actually had a pretty decent selection of reasonably priced do-it-yourself frames.  Normally, I'd just call my friend Susan who has framed most of my artwork for the past, oh, twenty years or so - but in keeping with my resolution to be even more frugal this year, I decided to see if I could find something that looked like Susan had done the work.  Ariela thinks it's odd that I gravitate toward plain (mostly black) frames, but I like to see the thing in the frame - not have my eye drawn to the frame itself.  That's definitely what I accomplished here - and on the perfect day, too.  I had decided to take the day - or at least the morning off - and do errands, have lunch, go for a ride - something outside the house.  I was feeling a little down this morning; it's my official bad day every year.  Everyone has one, for one reason or another.  My dad passed away twenty-six years ago today - and not a day goes by that I don't think of him - and usually it's something funny that he said or did.  He was smart and funny and kind and generous - and the biggest coffee-holic I have every known.  He would have appreciated Linda's coffee artwork, believe me.  This man could drink an entire pot of coffee by himself in the morning before anyone else was even awake.  Then he'd put another pot on to brew while he showered and dressed.  He and the dog would have peanut butter on toast for breakfast with another cup of coffee.  Then he'd fill his thermos with the remainder of the pot and down the road he'd go.  He was a computer geek before the Geek Squad even existed.  Before Bill Gates invented Windows.  When computer programs got loaded into systems on magnetic strips.  Am I aging him or me?  Anyhow, I have no idea how many times Daddy refilled his thermos throughout the day, but the first thing he did when he came home was make a fresh pot of coffee.  He could drink the stuff all evening and still sleep like a baby.  Maybe the man was impervious to the effects of caffeine - who knows?  If he were a superhero, he'd have been CoffeeMan.  See, he still makes me laugh - even from the Great Beyond.

Monday, March 21, 2011

ME Monday...

Okay, I'll admit it.  One of the reasons I chose Aggie that fateful day in 1998 when my husband took me puppy shopping was that she looked exactly like the ME scotty dog in all of her illustrations.  The other was that I'd always wanted a little dog that looked like the Monopoly dog - like this little guy.  And while I can't get Aggie to wear a straw hat festooned with flowers and ribbon, she is exactly the canine companion I always dreamed of.  While my dream is to meet Mary Engelbreit in person, Aggie's is to meet Mary's dog.  For more ME, check out all the interesting stuff over at Cherry Chick!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Silence for Japan...


Monday, March 14, 2011

ME Monday...

and the top o' the morning' to ye!  A couple of days early...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Grown-ups...

Say what you will about Adam Sandler – but I love his movies.  For the most part, they’re about friendship, family and taking care of one another.  The only one I ever saw that I didn’t like was Zohan – and while I was mildly shocked by some of the content and language, even worse was that I lent it to my friend, Long,  before I had watched it and he promptly went back and put it on the DVD player in his salon for the old ladies to watch while they were having their nails done.   When he told me about how risque it was, I was mortified and I am sure that my embarrassment influenced my opinion of the movie after I watched the thing.  But I am happy to report that Grown-Ups is a much better, family-friendly movie and I really liked it.  Sure, it had lots of bodily function / guy humor, and yes, that obnoxious idiot David Spade is in it, but all in all, it’s a very funny film.  How can you go wrong with Adam Sandler and Kevin James in the same movie?  Most of the usual suspects made an appearance as well.  If you haven't seen it, and you need a good wholesome laugh, you can find it streaming on NetFlix.  Aggie & I give it three and a half bags of popcorn.  No hankies required.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy birthday, Daddy...

Happy birthday, Daddy!  My dad would be 83 today.  I can’t imagine it, but I sure wish he were still around.  He would love the technology.  Daddy was a computer geek back in the old days – PCs were just becoming affordable when he passed away in 1985.  And the internet – he would have been a serious driver on the information superhighway.  This is the man who loved to read these six things – and in this order of importance:  1) Reader’s Digest; 2) the encyclopaedia; 3) the Bible; 4) the dictionary; 5) Chariots of the Gods; and 6) Project Blue Book.  He was once persuaded to read a biography of Johnny Cash but later said that he could have gotten the same information from the Funk & Wagnalls.  He would have been out of his mind with glee at the sheer amount of information available at his fingertips.  I can see it now: he’d be scouring the news for UFO sightings, emailing jokes to all of his cronies, having Our Daily Bread delivered to his inbox and contributing regularly to keep Wikipedia in business.  He’d probably even have a blog wherein he would debate whether or not Ezekiel’s wheel of fire in the sky was actually a UFO of biblical proportions.  And I’d be his number one follower.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Richard, the Rainmaker...

Richard could have a new career as a Rainmaker.  As it is, he is the busiest retired person I know.  He stopped by today with lunch and we had a nice visit, filling each other in on the books we’ve recently read, the good free ones to download for Kindle and the latest movies and television shows we’ve discovered.  As he was leaving, I persuaded him to go pick up my mail from my box – it’s too far to walk and I hate just getting in the car to go pick up the mail.  Well – he should pick up my mail every day!  There were lots of checks – and I am happy to have a hefty bank deposit for tomorrow – something I can be persuaded to leave the house for.  Too bad it’s all pretty much earmarked for paying bills, but still…

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Paninis!

It is the year of the Panini!  I am now the proud owner of a Cuisinart Griddler Jr. Panini grill.  I have had it on my Amazon wish list forever and I decided last week to move it to the cart and start grilling sandwiches – I mean, Panini.  Sounds so much better than a sandwich, doesn’t it?  Aggie is almost as thrilled as I am – she is a big bread crust eater.  Our first gourmet treat was a grilled provolone on rye.  Excellent!  A grilled Cuban! After a trip to the grocery, we had a grilled tomato, gouda and bacon on sourdough.  The possibilities are seemingly endless – I am looking forward to a homemade reuben – or a Rachel – I haven’t decided which just yet.  The upside is using up the entire loaf of bread, instead of throwing part of it away when I think it’s too stale to eat.  So you see, you have to spend money to save money.  Right?

Monday, March 07, 2011

ME Monday...

You know I love Mary Engelbreit and I love a book - what could be better than two for one?  Artful Words - Mary Engelbreit and the Illustrated Quote is my latest Mary acquisition.  Isn't the book jacket amazing?  When I first started doing calligraphy (thirty years ago!) I spent a lot of time writing quotes with illuminated lettering, as my teacher called it.  This book - especially the cover - reminds me of all those pieces I did: cards, matted quotes - even the envelopes I mailed the cards in - fancy capitals with ivy and swirls and gold ink for good measure.  ME is the undisputed queen of the illustrated quote - and I am still in awe of her work.  I haven't done any actual pen & ink calligraphy in years - having lots of cats who always wanted to help put an end to that - but one of these days...  For more ME fun, head on over to Cherry Chick.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Bones...

Ever been too tired to read?  I mean, to concentrate on what you’re reading?  Well, that’s me the past few days.  As much as I’d love to put my feet up and peruse all the free books I’ve downloaded to my Kindle, I am just too tired to even think at the end of the day lately.  So I’ve started watching Bones.  It’s another one of those shows that was recommended to me by someone whose opinion I do not hold in high positive regard, so I’ve never bothered to watch it.  But Richard has told me for some time now that it is a show well worth a few minutes of my time, so I decided to watch the first episode.  I’m now halfway through Season One and I actually like it.  Not Bones herself – she’s incredibly irritating.  No one with her education and responsible position at the museum can possibly be that socially awkward and completely ignorant of other people’s feelings.  On the other hand, Booth more than makes up for her complete lack of likeability.  I love the boss and Dr. Hodgins is a trip.  Zack is a little out there, but he grows on you.  I haven’t made my mind up about Angela yet – but I am definitely looking forward to the next episode.  And it’s easier to concentrate on a forty-five minute mystery than it is to read for forty-five minutes without drifting off to sleep!


Saturday, March 05, 2011

The land of hold...

Hold.  What a concept – I mean, there’s hold with silence, hold with an info-mercial, hold with elevator muzak, hold with computer generated techno-pop, hold with that annoying your call may be monitored for quality assurance message, and then there’s the IRS.  Thank God they switched from the Sleeping Beauty Waltz to this new tune – but it’s the same few bars that repeat over and over again.  I’d like to propose a federal law mandating that all individuals on hold for a particular corporation or government entity may talk to one another for entertainment and mutual sharing of information while they are waiting.  Just think of how many Microsoft tech support problems could be solved by people who know the answer that other people are calling for, leaving the company’s tech experts free to answer the really technical questions – or not.  The same could be said for tax support questions.  And think of all the fun people you might meet.  Instead of matches made in heaven, or match.com – we’d have matches made on hold.  Then women could actually hold out for a hero.  Just saying.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Aunt Thelma...

My Aunt Thelma would be 113 years old today.  She was a hoot.  Barely four feet ten inches tall, she was a dynamo in stylish stilettos and a mink.  She lived in New York City and when she came up to the farm, it was like a holiday.  She’d arrive on the train in her city finery leaving a trail of Chanel No. 5 in her wake.  Aunt Thelma had been married to a very wealthy older man who had left her a widow with three children at a relatively young age.  She was a whiz at cutting fabric and her friends on Seventh Avenue kept her supplied with all of the latest styles.  She could make absolutely anything without a pattern.  She was so tiny she wore size four shoes – just the size all the latest shoe samples came in back then.  She was a sight to behold and a wonderful lady.  We looked forward to her visits because not only was she an absolute delight, she always came bearing gifts.  One of my favorites was a stuffed Pomeranian toy dog she gave me when I was six or seven; I carried that thing everywhere.  She always took us shopping in town, such as it was, and gave us all a little “mad money” as she called that we could spend any way we liked.  She always wore a dress or a skirt and while she was visiting she always whipped up a new dress for my grandmother out of some fabulous fabric she’d brought along.  After we’d moved to Florida, and my grandmother had passed away, Aunt Thelma came to visit and we had a day trip to Venice where we collected sharks teeth at the beach and treated her to her first-ever milkshake.  Can you imagine?  She was at least seventy at the time – I guess she’d gotten used to egg creams in the city.  By then she had married a much younger Merchant Marine who had no clue as to as to her real age or financial status and she aimed to keep it that way.  During her visit, I shared my room with her since there were two twin beds.  My sister was about six at the time and she ran into my room while Aunt Thelma was getting dressed.  The next thing we knew she was barreling into the kitchen to announce to everyone at the breakfast table that Aunt Thelma was wearing a “bra with legs.”  My sister had never seen an all-in-one bra and girdle get up.  Do they even still make those things?  We all had a good laugh, including Aunt Thelma, who wasn’t the least bit embarrassed that my father now knew the status of her undergarments as described by a six-year-old.  She and her much younger husband finally retired some years later to a condo in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to be closer to her children – but “not too close,” as she said.  She was ninety-eight when she died and she had a nice, long life.  She never said an unkind word about anyone but her eldest daughter’s first husband – but he had it coming.   And I never heard anyone say an unkind word about her.  I think of her often, especially when I think some outrageous thing I would never say out loud.  Her best advice to me was this: “It’s okay to think whatever you want; a lady just never says it out loud.”  Happy birthday, Aunt Thelma!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Still calculating...

And yes, I am still calculating…  Automobile expenses, tortilla receipts, cell phone bills, cleaning supplies, toll receipts – you name it, I’m adding it up.  Some of my business clients are scrambling to get their corporate tax returns filed before the March 15 deadline.  Invariably, someone will bring me their bag of crap on the 14th, thinking that I can work a miracle and get their return done in time to e-file on the 15th.  As much as I hate to file them, that’s what extensions are for.  An extension is just license to procrastinate for another six months – I don’t recommend it.  Consequently, I very rarely suggest it.  And if a client brings the idea up, I give them twelve reasons why it’s never a good idea.  Most look scared by the time I’m on reason number seven and agree to get their butts in gear and get their tax paperwork together.  The IRS is nothing to be afraid of, but they are a force to be reckoned with.  All they want is for taxpayers to file their returns and pay their fair share; if you over pay, they will send your money back to you, plus interest.  If you owe them, you’d better pay up or set up a payment plan because they are not going away and ignoring them is not a viable option.  Neither is changing your name – which is the ill-advised route someone suggested to one of my clients, who actually did it.  Guess what – he still owes the IRS a pile of money.  Better to just suck it up and pay your taxes in a little at a time throughout the year than owe a bigger sum, plus penalties and interest, at tax time.  It’s amazing the number of relatively intelligent people who ignore that simple advice.  But then again, if everyone knew how to do their own taxes, I’d be out of a job.
At least it’s entertaining – even the endless calculations…

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

NCIS...

I love Leroy Jethro Gibbs.  It’s too bad he’s not a real person.  He’s kind, caring, smart, patriotic, steadfast and strong – not to mention seriously good-looking, even with that jarhead haircut.  And he’s been known to shoot bad guys in the ass.  What more could anyone want in a man?


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Losing my momentum...

I don’t know if I just had a bad night’s sleep or if I am coming down with a cold – but it seems that I have lost my momentum.  I was on such a roll for the past week – busy with clients, catching up on the pile of paperwork and now – splat!  I have fallen flat on my face today.  I have no energy and no desire to work on anything – it’s going to be a long day.  I always have such high hopes for the first day of a new month; I check my calendar, revise my to-do list, look in my tickler file.  A new month is a fresh start, a new opportunity for success – and when you have no momentum, a new month is just another page on the calendar.  I usually make notes of things I plan to accomplish during the new month – almost like mini-resolutions: blog every day, keep up with the laundry, order less take-out – stuff like that.  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t, but I try.  Today I don’t really care if I move forward or not.  I just want to sit right here in this chair and vegetate.  Aggie is sitting here looking at me; she knows how I feel.  She would just as soon vegetate, too.  Peter has already crawled under the bed for his morning snooze.
If I thought I wouldn’t get stuck under there, I’d join him.