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, January 23, 2012

Have you ever just needed to turn your brain off...

for a few minutes?  Well, it's not that I think that knitters are a mindless bunch - on the contrary, I think knitters are very creative.  Although I am not a knitter by any means, I do, however, very much enjoy the mindless calm of knitting.  I haven't done any knitting in years - but the other day I bought a couple of skeins of yarn and decided to just do some simple knitting throughout the day, especially when I am in need of a short break.  I've never made anything complicated, as you can see by the simple whatever-it-is I'm working on, but I was amazed how quickly the rhythm of the needles and yarn came back to me.  As you might imagine, I don't expect to make anything particularly grand - but it's very soothing to just stop thinking for a few minutes and knit a couple of rows.  Especially when I've just spent an hour or so trying to explain the correlation between the amount of income earned and the amount of income tax due on that income - to people who have absolutely no clue what I am trying to tell them.
And it beats poking one of them in the eye with a knitting needle...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fresh, hot...

homemade cinnamon rolls...
Not bad for a Sunday project.  I'm just saying...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The paper avalanche...

has begun!  My gang of disorganized, self-employed male clients has begun to drop off their annual bags of crap.  I have fervently hoped, in vain it would appear, that their organizational skills would improve over time, especially when I return their bags of crap all neatly organized into labeled envelopes and file folders.  But alas, that has not happened.  And, if it did, what would they need me for?  So I plan to spend my weekend, sorting through said bags and trying to make sense of their scribbled notes, wadded up receipts and piles of invoices.  At least they're arriving earlier this year...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Caramel nips...

are just about my favorite kind of hard candy, I think.  I don't buy them very often - but I decided to make them the tax season client treat this year.  I used to tie thank-you tags onto Hershey bars with raffia, but I found out that a lot of my clients are diabetic and it got sort of expensive anyway.  Then I switched to chewy granola bars, which were a hit, but pretty messy if kids elected to eat them while still at the office.  Last year I did LifeSavers, and I still have those in the jar, but this cute little basket was begging to stay out on the desk, so I filled it with Caramel Nips and they have been well-received so far.  I am planning to make some cupcakes in time for Valentine's Day - but when they're gone, they're gone.
Unless I get the urge to bake around St. Patrick's Day...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I know I've said this before, but...

where in the world does dust come from and why can't we get rid of it permanently?  I know I can't be the only person on the planet who is tired of dusting.  I always put one of those super-efficient (allegedly) filters on my air conditioner, I have a space-age vacuum with a HEPA filter - but the house continues to be dusty every single day.  I realize that I'd have less dust if I had wood floors instead of carpet, but still...  Aggie doesn't shed and Peter doesn't shed much for a cat, so I know they're not the cause of all the dust on the flat surfaces.  I am pretty sure if I could figure out where it comes from and how to stop it, I could make a bazillion bucks.  I wonder if I could get a federal grant to study dust, its origin, its composition and its effect on the average American household...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sometimes you find the coolest stuff...

in the most unlikely places.  While Anthropologie is all the rage, I just can't see paying their prices for things.  I mean, $128 for a shirt?  Are they nuts?  I'm sorry, regular people just don't pay that much for one item of clothing.  An entire outfit, maybe.  But then it would have to be something I was planning to wear to, oh, I don't know, the Inaugural Ball or something.  Or when George Clooney asks me to be his date for the Oscars.  I might even spend more than that for George.  But I digress...  I clicked the Kitchen button - you can really tell where my heart lies, can't you?  And there, along with those adorable ceramic egg crates I am using to organize my jewelry, I found these completely charming ceramic farmer's market baskets.  Well, I could not resist, because in addition to their abject sweetness, they were very reasonably priced.  The white one came to live with me first - and it's perfect for a pretty bunch of fake cherries.  I love it!
And well, the blue one was so pretty and his shade went so perfectly with the basket liners on my desk - I gave in asked him to come and live here too.  I didn't want him to be lonely on his trip, so his little coral friend came along for the ride.  Mr. Blue is staying on the desk to hold treats for my clients, but I haven't found a spot for Miss Coral yet.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just one sheet...

of paper, every day for a year is almost a ream of paper.  I had never really thought about how much paper that really is until I decided last year to fully embrace Outlook and all of its features.  I've been using it forever - but still keeping information in the old, tried and true format as well.  Now I use it for my email, my calendar, my task list, my contacts - everything I would have traditionally written down somewhere else.  I also started using OneNote for the first time last year and I love it!  This nifty little program has taken the place of my old write-everything-down composition book - a system I've been using for eons.  The switch took a little getting used to, but the electronic notebook format of OneNote is infinitely better - I can still have my page-a-day to do list, but I can also keep my other lists in their own sections of the notebook.  And color code it!  I'm in nerd heaven!  So instead of printing about four sheets of paper a day just dedicated to my various lists, I've retrained myself to use virtual paper instead.  I'm down to printing my one reminder list a day - and by the end of the day I have scribbled notes on it, marked off items, and written down numbers and other important information to be entered in Outlook at the end of the day.  Hopefully in a couple of weeks, I'll even be able to let this wasteful quirk go, too.  Maybe.  You know the Chinese proverb: the palest ink is better than the sharpest memory...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sorry, but...

I was only trying to eke one more day of peace and quiet out of that last week just before tax season begins.  It didn't work anyway; I had eight people in and out of here today.  Poor Aggie is exhausted from all the guard-dogging and guest-greeting she was required to do on a Monday - a federal canine holiday, no less.  Peter has been in hiding since early this morning.  I did finally get out to do my errands about five o'clock and went to the bank, dropped some mail in the box, took away the trash and yes, I'll admit it, trudge into WalMart for a few necessities.  Fortunately, it wasn't too busy and I got home before it was completely dark outside.  I am not a good nighttime driver - and neither are ninety percent of the snowbirds who appear to have arrived in droves during the past few days.  It would appear that I have actually gotten everything done that I had planned to do around the house before my busy time.  I managed to de-junk the hall closet a bit early this morning and Jonathan took a box of stuff away to Goodwill for me this morning - what a guy!  The only thing I have left to do is vacuum under my desk - but I am about done with work or thinking about another thing for today.  The next installment of life in Piney Point will just have to wait, too.  I am looking forward to a great tomorrow!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A three hour nap...

is not really a good idea - especially at 6:30 pm.  And I was doing so well today: got the laundry done, tidied up my desk area, took away the trash, dropped off my toner cartridge at the UPS box to send to recycling, went to the bank - tying up all my loose ends before I am really busy this week.  Aggie & I had dinner, I set the dryer to run for forty minutes with the last load of laundry that wasn't quite dry and I thought: well, I'll just sit down for a few minutes.  I think my mistake was taking that nice fluffy blanket to the sofa with me.  It was a little chilly in here - if you can call 70 degrees chilly - and I told myself I was only going to sit there and commune with the dog and the cat until the dryer stopped.  Who was I kidding?  Three hours later, I woke up about smothered to death between the blanket and the animals.  My head is stuffy and my neck is stiff and I just know that there is no way I will ever go back to sleep tonight.  The worst part is this pile of stuff sitting on the corner of my desk, begging to be put away in the hall closet and I just don't give a crap.  See all the damage a nap can do?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

An unexpected gift...

from one of my clients made my day today.  I went to see my tortilleria client early this morning to help him prepare some background information he needs for an appointment with an attorney on Monday morning.  It's a long, long story about attempting to buy an enormous quantity of corn flour.  I admire his determination to make his business succeed - and I hope he prevails in this matter.  Which is pretty silly, if you ask me - the man just wants to buy flour at a decent price so he can keep the cost of his consumer product reasonable.  The big, bad flour company only wants to sell him the amount they think can actually use.  What do they care what he does with it, as long as he pays them for their product?  Anyhow, it's a big mess and he wanted to get his information in order and create a sort of timeline for the attorney.  That's where I come in - putting stuff in order.  Anyhow, I had also finished another large project for him and I had a whole pile of things for him to sign.  Looking at the stack of paper I brought with me, he said, "I want to buy you a new printer cartridge.  I'll send one of the ladies to Office Depot to get one.  Let's call and make sure they have the one you need."  I was gobsmacked - it was like something (or Someone) told him I really needed a toner cartridge.  Honestly, I was nursing the old one along, shaking it to get all the toner I could out of it, hoping it would hold out until I'd done the first few tax returns and could afford to order a new one.  Of course, I said he didn't need to do that.  But he insisted.  A little voice in my head said, Just be thankful and when you see that can help someone out, go ahead and do it.  We finished up the timeline, he signed the paperwork and I showed him how to do his weekly Sam's Club order online so he could just pick it up at the store instead of having to waste time shopping.  And then, bless his heart, he paid me a hundred dollars besides.  I am humbled by his kindness and generosity and I see several loaves of banana and pumpkin bread in his future.  I don't know what I have done to deserve such great clients, but I am truly thankful for them and they work they give me to do.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's a miracle!

Last night, while I was writing Chapter 11 of Dead & Dug Up (yes, I got behind a day already), Peter said, "Mom, you don't have to vacuum the floor tonight.  Do it in the morning just before the carpet cleaners come."  I'm an adult, I know it's not a good idea to listen to the housekeeping advice of a cat - and a lazy one, at that - but I gave in to my all too human nature and procrastinated.  And so this morning, as I was frantically vacuuming the area around my desk, the carpet cleaners called and said they were on their way.  Yikes!  I decided to forgo moving the chair pad so they could clean under the desk - after all, I put it down right after the carpet was cleaned last year and it hasn't moved since.
I mean, it's just a big plastic dirt barrier, isn't it?
And will wonders never cease - the carpet came clean!  My dining room chairs are on the screen porch temporarily until the carpet dries.  Even the hallway, victim to the majority of Aggie's little accidents is clean and tidy once again.  Peter hasn't come out from under the bed since this morning - that is, if he didn't get taken up in the steam cleaner by accident.
Of course, Aggie was on high alert and had to supervise the morning's activity and now she is understandably exhausted.  It's hard work being a vigilant cairn terrier.  I forget that sometimes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Have you ever been held hostage...

by a stupid, inconsequential object?  I'm not being deep here -  I mean this ridiculous pink plastic paper clip.  Yes, the one right there.  I've been hanging on to this thing for probably twenty years.  I once discovered this quirky little gift shop that sold oddball office supplies, of which I admit that I am a big fan.  I bought three or four of the pink clips, a few purple ones, some funky pink scissors and a really cute tiny pink stapler.  One by one, over the years, the clips broke and the stapler went the way of earth.  I still use the scissors every day, but  I am down to one last pink plastic paper clip.  For a long time, I used it to mark the current day in my desk calendar - and then I embraced Outlook.  PPC (for lack of a better name) was relegated to marking my place in reading material, clipping bills together, holding my to-do list to the outside of my to-do folder; you name it, PPC is nothing if not versatile.  And then today, while I continued my annual pre-tax season get-the-house-in-order-to-get-the-carpet-cleaned frenzy, I found myself looking at PPC, lying there on the desk - all alone, no longer having any real purpose in the big scheme of things.  I am aiming for a relatively clutter-free work space - like that will really happen, but everyone needs a goal to strive for.  I don't need PPC anymore; he has outlived his place in my life.  I momentarily contemplated encouraging him to end it all by clipping a stack of papers beyond his ability.  No, I didn't want to be an accessory to what would surely amount to a crime against hard-working plastic paper clips everywhere.  I decided to just let PPC go; I took his photo, said thanks for the all of his faithful service and tossed him into the wastebasket.  Who knows where he'll end up - but I hope he's happy in his retirement.


  And no, I'm not insane - I just have really bizarre thoughts sometimes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A little organizing project...

is finally almost finished - my jewelry drawer!  I used to keep all this stuff in clear plastic storage boxes, you know the kind - with a dozen little compartments?  I had crammed them all into the drawer of the old bedside table.  When I got rid of the table with the drawers, I had no convenient place to keep the boxes.  It's not like anything is valuable - more sentimental value than anything else, but I do like to wear my funky earrings from time to time.  After trying a variety of places throughout the house that just didn't work, I realized I had a really big, flat drawer in the antique desk I'm using for the sewing table in the bedroom.  And then I found these adorable ceramic egg crates and well, an idea was hatched.
I couldn't resist that one - sorry!
I did some purging of stuff I never wear and organized the earrings by season and it's much easier to find what I'm looking for now.  Sometimes it makes me happy just to look at the stuff - is that weird? 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My friend, Erin...

who is in the middle of a get organized project at her house, thinks I have no mess at my house.  Think again, honey!  Here's proof: the disaster area on my craft/card-making desk.
And the other side of my creative space...
And on the floor next to the desk - and there's more in the knee hole that the picture didn't get!
Wait - come with me into the sewing corner of the bedroom.  See those unfinished projects?
And more fabric piled up in the corner on rolling carts two deep - the carts I repurposed from the ruthless rubber stamp purge of 2011.  And there, right on the top, is the fabric for the bedroom valance - which all the good intentions in the world have failed to stitch up!  I will admit that I have spent most of this week getting everything in order for the carpet cleaners to come on Friday - but I still don't have everything put away in my office area.  I mean, I do still have until early Friday morning to vacuum the carpet...

Monday, January 09, 2012

Things are looking up...

or at least getting my messy house in order before tax season is coming along.  My blogging friend, Linda, painted me this coffee picture a long time ago - and I framed it a couple of months later - and I finally found the perfect spot for it.  Isn't it cute?  I think of her every time I turn on the teapot.
Today my friends, Tom & Al, came by and put up my little shelf in the kitchen and re-arranged the advertising signs to accommodate the new addition.  I wanted a space to store some spices I use all the time as well as my jar of bread machine yeast.
So after I tidied up the kitchen counter and washed the jars and generally cleaned up my mess from all the Christmas baking and other disasters, I made a nice loaf of bread.
Aggie and I sampled the crust.  Looks like we're having grilled muenster cheese for dinner...
Not a great photo - I'll probably have to take one with the flash after dark - but the guys also put up the curtain rod for my new office valance.  It's sort of a sage green and beige stripe; the rod is aluminum that looks like bronze and the finials sort of go with the finials on the lamps.
And they made all this home improvement work look so easy!
 Much better!
And I was so excited about the window valance and the shelf, I forgot to feed them cake!
It's Aggie's fault - she didn't remind me.



Sunday, January 08, 2012

Angels unaware...

I just read a blog post that broke my heart - and really pissed me off, all at once.  I had stop following this particular blogger a while back because I just couldn't take the self-absorbed whining any more.  When I first started blogging and ran across her blog, I liked her voice and admired the things she wrote about her family and faith, as well as their commitment to mission work.  Then somewhere along the way, I realized that sharing her thoughts was all a self-promotion thing and well, frankly, it turned me off.  I stopped following a couple other look-at-me blogs around the same time - but every once in a while I get curious and check them out to see what I've missed.  And today I read the post that hurt me to the depths of my soul.  She actually wrote about her personal struggle with including a motherless, hungry child begging for attention with her own kids at playtime - and even worse, at meal time.  Honestly, what person who professes to love God would have to think twice about inviting this lost soul in?  And are we not supposed to give our gifts in private, so the Lord, who sees everything will reward us?  I know, I'm judging - none of us is perfect, but don't shout to the rooftops (or the world wide web) what a good Christian you are if you are too blind to entertain an angel when God puts one right in front of you.
Lord forgive me, I'm getting off the soapbox now.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Laughter really is the best...

medicine!  I nearly laughed myself unconscious today while I was writing.  I know, that sounds weird, but I wrote some stuff that just struck me as so funny, I couldn't stop laughing.  I'm sure my upstairs neighbor thought I'd gone round the bend, but I don't really care.  The more I wrote and then the more I re-read and edited the couple of paragraphs that had sent me into hysterics, the more I laughed.  I seriously could not stop - and at the point when I started to feel light-headed, I had to get up and go in the other room.  Aggie and Peter are used to brief periods of hilarity at our house, so they didn't pay much attention to me.  I suppose if I dropped over dead on the floor, they'd think nothing of it and just eat my cheeks.  I think e.e. cummings would agree that my day today wasn't wasted at all.

Friday, January 06, 2012

The stack of books...

for one reason or another, did not dwindle much during my stay-cation the week after Christmas.  As much as I love my Kindle, its portability, compact storage capacity (3,500 books!) and all the great freebies associated with it, there are still some authors' books that I like to hold in my hands.  I savor every page and then lovingly put them with their friends on my bookshelves.  When I moved from my house, I let go of literally hundreds of books by authors I've enjoyed over the years: Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, Anne Rice, John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark, Ken Follett, Maeve Binchy - I knew I really didn't have room for them and I was never going to read them again.  I boxed up the pile I hadn't read yet and spend the year of the first, small apartment with no cable reading myself to sleep every night.  I passed the books along to my friend Richard who enjoyed them and then passed them along to our mutual friend Neil.  Yes, I know, it seems like all my friends are men - I'm not sure why that is.  But I digress...  One of the authors who made the I-have-to-keep-the-books cut is Alexander McCall Smith.  I loved the detective agency series and I adore the Isabel Dalhousie series.  I am reading his latest installment of the Corduroy Mansions series - still not finished!- and I have his 44 Scotland Street series waiting in my book basket.  I also have Allen Bradley's latest Flavia deLuce mystery to read - I love that kid.  So precocious - but in a good way.  Bradley's books are definitely keepers.  Not long ago, I read a newspaper article about a local author I had to check out.  His name is Ransom Riggs and he's written a book with a most interesting title: Miss Peregine's Home for Peculiar Children.  I can't wait to read it - as well as his Sherlock Holmes Handbook.  I'm also looking forward to reading three books by Jenny Cote.  They are young adult fiction featuring a scotty dog and a cat: The Ark, the Reed and the Fire Cloud; The Dreamer, the Schemer and the Robe; and The Prophet, the Shepherd and the Star.  I'm sure you can guess what the books are about based on their titles.  I may not have gotten much reading done during my alleged week off, but at least I have something to read while I wind down at night during tax season.  Stayed tuned for some book reviews...