Home alone

Sports and event marketing calls; it’s that time of year. Rich has left the roost and I won’t see him until well after next weekend but I’m up early planning my Super Bowl party menu. Should I make honey barbecue or spicy chipotle wings for the big game? I’m kidding. I will probably make a pass at watching the game, especially since I’ll have a Chicago (da Bears) friend visiting, and also because they set up giant screen televisions down at Baywalk and you can drink bad margaritas and wander off to buy Merrell sandals or Chicos pants on sale during the third quarter, if you’re so inclined.
And, heaven knows, I love shopping almost as much as I love football. Here at the house, we only have one small television, in a cabinet in our bedroom, because there are better things to watch than television. Mullet jumping by the bay, for example.

In any case, home alone rarely means idle lounging about on lawn chairs for me. It never has. For some reason, I am at my most productive left to my own devices. Also, this "retirement" gig hasn’t exactly panned out the way I anticipated. I’ve managed to have a very full plate between moving our lives to Chicago, docent training at the zoo and managing the addition on this Florida house.

Since I’ve "retired", Rich has curiously forgotten how to answer phones, open mail, talk to the banker, accountant, health insurance company or find anything. (Okay, so that last isn’t new, but still, it ends up on my list.) I’m not complaining, mind you. I like organizing things. I was one of those little girls who played school, store and post office house, just so I could keep things organized.

A minor digression, but it’s worth it. The year after my parents divorced was one of those memorable years in childhood. My father moved to a different state and then my brother went too, and we moved from a ticky-tacky suburban version of Leave It To Beaver to a flat in the inner city of Detroit while my mother finished her teaching degree. At 11 years I became chief cook and bottle washer for our household of three females. My mother was gone from dawn to dusk at college and I was in charge of my 6 year old sister, getting us on city buses to two different schools and shopping at the tiny middle eastern corner store in order to make dinner. That was the year hamburger noodle goulash reigned. It consisted of two ingredients; ya, you guessed them right. Betsy and I found ourselves essentially parentless in a world where we were the only white kids in a tough town. (Mom! What were you thinking?) But here is one of my clearest and best memories from that time. One day, just before the garbage truck rumbled through the alley, Betsy and I were engaged in (strictly verboten) trash picking. We found some person’s entire lifetime of paperwork, dating back to the 1890s. Obviously, he had died and his family dumped the stuff and there were accounting books, receipt books with carbon paper between the sheets, stamps (one and two cent!), envelopes, pictures, old notebooks and papers, records of every bill he had ever paid. It was endless- there were boxes of the stuff. We had enough to play store and school for years and I remember that the best find was a whole big box of carbon paper and another one of tracing paper. Like clams at high tide, we were in heaven. After that, time passed quickly, my mother finished her degree and got a teaching job at an exclusive private girls school (the one where Gilda Radner and I went to school together and one of my mother’s colleagues would later move east and shoot her diet doctor lover. That one.) and that interlude, complete with boxes of carbon paper and 2 cent stamps, took on a dreamlike quality. Mostly a nightmare, but playing with that musty old stuff was fun…

Back to now. The main thing on my list for this coming week is getting our tax stuff to the accountant. Here’s what I got from Rich before he left: a sheet of paper listing his income and expenditures for the first half of the year when he still had his own company. Here’s what I need to organize:
-paperwork from the sale of two houses and the purchase of one.
-moving expenses, legal expenses, property taxes coming and going
-taxes paid already
-itemized deductions for everything imaginable and then some
-retirement and banking stuff
-travel related to moving-receipts for all that
-MY business income and expenses for the first half of the year
-home office expenses, including utilities- for three houses
-and then, I have to teach the Snarl how to do her own taxes and FAFSA for the  first time (and she’ll work hard to make it into one of those things where it’s  easier for me to do it myself but I AM NOT CAVING this year)
-and THEN, the other one, who lives in an artistic fugue state, will call and ask, "Am I supposed to file taxes? I don’t know how much I made playing 113 shows I can’t remember…" (The answer is zero. You were paid in bar food.)

Oh, blah,blah,blah.

You want to know what is, for me, the really exciting side of tax season this year?
You’ll recall that last year I got enmeshed in "the Bud and Jan Show After Death There Are Still Taxes" scenario? The one where I discovered that my mother had declared herself legally blind and stopped paying Uncle Sam because she was just too tired and pissed off about the war, etc. but she didn’t exactly tell Bud? Right.

Bud called a while back and said, "Ya. About these taxes? I’m not sure but I think I maybe should file a return and I’m not sure how to do that. I don’t want them coming after the cottage, ya know." (Ya, sure, you betcha. The IRS is on their way to the tip of the Keweenaw where the UPS guy has to hang your Christmas gift ham in the tree at the end of the drive because the snow is so deep he can’t get within 500 feet of the house. Where the bear eats said ham. Where you had the only part of the land that perks declared a private cemetery, rendering the whole place worthless for resale. Ya, they’re coming for it, Swedish mulching toilet and all. I guess I shouldn’t joke. They probably would and the story would be on 60 Minutes.)

I must have ENABLER flashing in neon on my forehead. These people- husband, children, parent- have IQs well over that of your average bear. The notion of paying taxes should not be such a big mystery.  Anyway, I said I would be happy to help him with his taxes but I wasn’t leaving sunny Florida and flying up to Lost Loon Lodge in 15 feet of snow to do it. He would just have to find a pair of shorts, get on a plane and bring his papers down here.

Miracle of miracles, he’s coming. This is the mountain coming to St. Petersburg. I’m so excited and happy! We get Bud for 10 whole days here in Florida. We get him for a Tigers/Rays spring training game, fishing off the pier, walks along the bay to see the manatee. We get him on the first anniversary of my mother’s death. I’m thinking that would be a good day to take a picnic over to beautiful Fort DeSoto beach and share some happy memories.   

22 responses to “Home alone

  1. Now why did you have to remind us about the taxes? I’m up to my ears in paperwork for it also,but I find myself reading blogs to escape. The IRS really IS everywhere. Hub’s sole contribution to it all is to ask if I finished assembling the paperwork yet.

    Congrats on getting your Dad down here!

  2. I was exhausted reading your post, and laughing all the way, until I got to your last paragraph. What a wonderful thing that Bud is coming! I hope you have wonderful weather while he’s here. I had friends come one year so I could take Jim to some spring training games, and one day, it was so cold we had to leave. One never knows about March in Florida.

    I think I’m glad my life is not as complicated as yours. Taxes, bah!

  3. Congrats on Bud’s visit. That sounds fantastic!

    Our big excitement about taxes is that I think Greg and I have finally grown up. Not only are we READY this year, we are actually making it to our tax appointment tomorrow — which I know our tax guy gives us so early because he knows we won’t be ready until June anyway — but we’ve got all our stuff together and Greg even called one of his clients and asked if they were planning to 1099 him. Please note that I am saying WE as if I had anything to do with it. I did, in fact, not but part of being married is getting to say WE when it is really HE. (Sort of like being queen without the crown).

    Don’t get all excited though and hopeful about your children’s futures. We are in our mid-40s and I think we MIGHT be growing up. It’s not something I really ought to be bragging about!

    But, I am anyway. 🙂

  4. There is much in today’s post that reveals the whys and hows of what makes our Vicki tick. And, just when I thought it was impossible to admire you more! Now I’m savoring the image of you and Betsy playing with your treasured papers. It makes me happy to know that Bud will soon be basking in your hospitality and all will be right with the world.

  5. Bud is coming to Florida! That is such sweet news, vicki. Makes my heart soar just to read those words, I can’t even begin to imagine how happy that makes you. The silver lining of taxes.

  6. Got my copy of TaxCut and am doing them this week. I’m glad I’m not doing yours.

    Mullet… you captured their grace wonderfully well. A wonderful fish … by the way, they jump because they are happy.

    Enjoy your Bud time.

  7. Yay! And all you have to do is figure out his taxes!

  8. Your post was long, but damn if I couldn’t stop reading! Very entertaining! I cringed at your stint in Detroit!

    I hate doing taxes, I have a very reliable tax man and I am sure the accusations of his ethics violations are grossly over stated! I’ll keep going to him, that is how much I hate doing taxes!

  9. Funny thing in this marriage of ours. I am supposed to get it all the tax papers together but he gets to fill in the boxes and act like he did EVERYTHING himself. :-/

  10. Enjoy Bud! I will be back with more comments, but now need to get Hannah down for a rest.

  11. I can see it now, Vicki. Bud visits for 10 days in the FL warmth (and yours), goes back to Loon Lodge, gets stuck in 4 feet of snow, sells Loon Lodge and moves in with you!

    I played school all the time too, for the same reasons..LOL. That was some treasure trove you found; I’d have been in hog-heaven!

  12. Vicki, I tried several times to post a comment here from work today. No luck. Here at home, I gotta tell you how I admire your skills. But no wonder, you had a life that prepared you for anything. The organizer, decorator, tax accountant, excellent photographer. You are one well-rounded lady and have style and grace. Most of all, your sense of humor is probably the most appealing trait of all. When you can whip out the humor on the most serious and mundane subjects, that’s what it all about. Keeps life as interesting as you see it. Keep snapping and gabbing.

  13. Wow. You really did grow up quickly. I’m sitting here trying to imagine myself at 11 doing all that.

    Listen, maybe you should get a paying job so you can rest a little.

    So glad Bud is coming. So glad.

  14. That’s terrific news about Bud, and about how life is going down there in NOT FREEZING Florida. (where I will be in a little over a month) But did you have to bring up tax season? That almost causes a divorce around here every year. My self-employed husband hates paperwork, and I refuse to do any of it unless he pays me some sort of wage.

  15. That Detroit story is fascinating. Who knew that you were a pre-pubescent dumpster diver? I would NEVER have guessed. And I write fiction!

  16. I’m so glad Bud is coming!! Taxes, schmaxes…grumble, grumble. You just reminded me of another chore I’ve been ignoring.

    And what’s wrong with playing Post Office? I did it as a child and I’m happy to say no one was hurt (real or reenacted) in the process.

  17. I grew up in an inner city neighborhood, too, but my parents worked from home mostly, so we had eggplant parmesean rather than hamburger helper. Anyway, this just means we have to talk.

    You sound like an archivist and record keepr at heart? Are you sure you don’t want a second career? We could go to school together.

    Back taxes. Yikes. That will be a relief to have that taken care of. That’s the last thing Bud or you need on your shoulders right now.

    And knitting is everything you say. I love the color and texture and all of it. I just need to move beyond scarves. I live in California.

    Oh, and my hubby is gone AGAIN, too. If I’m not writing about him, just assume he’s gone again. He comes home tomorrow.

  18. Um, and you’re on MY site telling me I have issues? What’s wrong with you bringing up tax season for all these good hard working people.

    See, this is why I’m gainfully unemployed–no taxes. 😀

    And yippee for Bud’s visit.

  19. Nothing to say about taxes (Thank God my wife does those), but I found your tale about finding that stuff in the trash fascinating. Isn’t it exciting to prowl through the debris of life? That’s one reason I like to read old diaries, letters, etc.

    And every once in a while I find one of my own files from years ago. I’d forgotten all about what I wrote back then and it’s like discovering a whole other person that I once was.

    PS: Best job I ever had in my life was working in a city clean dump where I got to plunder through such stuff when estates were abandoned.

  20. Good luck on getting the Snarl to do the FASFA thing. I can hear it now, “But MOOOOMMMMMMMM! I’m taking 20 hours of course work and working a gazillion hours a week and all these labs and papers and exams….. I DON’T have time to do all this and besides, it has to have your taxes on there too. PLEASEEEEE!” Yes, let me know how that works!

    Ah, and the cars…. alternator went out on the Civic… $400. The starter went out on Dad’s van and a leak in the Master Cylinder (whatever that is)…. $2100. The joys of car ownership.

  21. While you’re doing taxes…I just figured out that my employer screwed up my elections for my childcare and healthcare reimbursement plans…I have $0 dollars in those plans. So, I have to save all my receipts and claim it on next year’s taxes…which will hopefully pay off last year’s taxes…Hooey for me.

    You went to THAT school? How very neat. I saw the diet-doctor movie recently on TV. Annette Benning is very good at playing a loon isn’t she?

  22. Vicki's sister, Betsy

    Funny what a difference five years (and less responsibility!) makes. I remember the year (2nd grade for me) in Highland Park as a great adventure. I had an alley rat for a pet (we thought he was a mouse and Mom didn’t have time to notice as he got gigantic); I became the best fence-hopper and marbles player on the block; our cat had kittens under my bed, one of which stayed with the family for 20 years; and I had my hair ironed and was re-dressed by the mother of my girlfriend because I was not “fit” to attend their (very Baptist, wonderfully animated) church as was. I was at the perfect age to see friends, rather than color, an experience I remain profoundly grateful for. I remember hamburger noodle goulash fondly enough to break it out on hurried nights, and I had the excellent mahoghany box all those old record books and ancient checks with lovely script writing on them came in until I went to college. For myself, I remember that year with fondness for what the three of us shared, and I know that year was wonderful for Mom in that she accomplished her degree, and her independence, with your help.

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