Monday, May 12, 2014

Memory Lane

I have spent the evening reviewing a couple thousand photos I have on my hard drive. I started with the idea of sorting all of Alex's photos but ended up reminiscing about all the trips, weekends, experiences I've had in the last few years. I am always torn between returning to my favorite places or going somewhere new.  I usually choose somewhere new, but I have a few places I return time and time again.
I don't have a bucket list.  I've never felt the need to compete with death.  As I've seen all too recently, in the end it doesn't matter. Enjoying each day, without regrets, keeps me happy. I don't feel deprived and if somehow I leave this "life" tomorrow...
On the internet, today I happened upon a blog written by a young family whose 5 yr old will be leaving this earth in the next few hours or days.  He hasn't been to Greece either. He has a mom, dad and sister who love him very much and that is what is comforting to him now. My heart breaks for them.  I spent my first mother's day without my mom and without one son.  I was mostly just grateful both of them were in my life for as long as they were. Life is slippery, grab a hand to help you get through.

Monday, April 14, 2014

When you run out of the usual tax deductions

     Being a homeowner, spouse, mother, etc., etc. has provided me with so many wonderful things, not the least of which is tax deductions.  However, as life moves forward, the marriage ends, the mortgage gets more paid off, the children move on, these tax deductions all but disappear.  I find myself in a place where I am finally making a comfortable living, but end up giving a lot to the government because I am lacking any real tax deductions.  Searching the tax laws and my "life" I have come across a very easy, yet beneficial tax deductions.  I accurately and consistently log everything I give to charity, including every pair of socks, belt, sweater or black and white tv.  By doing this on a monthly basis I end up at tax time with real deductions along with the documentation to prove it.  When Google started it's Google Documents with cloud storage I was playing around and discovered how easy it would be for me to create some simple tools to help me track my donations.
     First off, the tracking sheet.  I created a simple form with spaces for the month, day and year and a table to record the type of item and the quantity.  These I print out and use when I am bagging up the out of date, not my size, things I don't where anymore and those household items I need to get rid of.  The item type is pre-printed and to right is a cell to use hash marks for each sweater, pant or picture frame I add to the donation bag.  When I make my donation, I staple this form to the receipt I get from the charity.
The second document is a spreadsheet.  This is where the fun begins.  My first colum is the item type, then the quantity followed by the actual resale cost of the item in a second hand store.  Based on the formula I have behind the cells, the quantiy is multiplied by the single unit price and the fourth column is the total monetary value of that row.  Sweaters, quantity 3, unit price $8.00 equals $24.00 deduction.  I also have a formula at the bottom of the fourth column, totally all of the subtotals.  This total is transferred to the last worksheet where I have monthly totals for all of my donations and the actual total for the year.  This is my deduction for material goods I have donated to charity.
     I save all of the documents in the cloud in case I am audited and the receipts and tracking form are with my other paper documentation for that tax year.  Depending on what's going on and how much time I have to purge my belongings, I can get some pretty substantial deductions.
Every penny counts.

Pretty new decks!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Winter Storms

Pacific Northwest weather.  So unpredictable, sometimes the meteorologist even laugh after they give their broadcast.  This time they were right on, almost to the minute the snowstorm started.  I left work at 1215, took an hour and 45 minutes to get home (usually 30-30 depending on traffic) and snuggled in for a four day snowstorm that kept Morgan and me confined to the house until Tuesday morning.  It's funny how being forced too stay home frees you up for doing those little chores that you usually don't have time for.  Cleaning closets, pantries, etc.  I decided to clean Alex's basement bedroom and turn it into my sewing room.  This is the bedroom that he used as a teenager, just before he moved out.  When he got sick and moved back, he went back to his old room from childhood, upstairs.  I know he needed that sense of safety and security your childhood bedroom brings.  I still love going back to mine, even though it looks very little like it did when I lived at my folks house, oh 30 some years ago...
I knew I needed to move my quilting supplies to one of the 3 spare bedrooms I have here, but really wanted Morgan's.  I tried to get him to move into Alex's old bedroom upstairs, but he's just not ready to disassemble that room, so I began the project in the basement bedroom.  I think I will really like it when it's finished, but right now I am still trying to find homes for all the odds and ends that got thrown in there over the years.  Not sure why, but I do have sentimental attachments to "things".  My mission in 2014 is to get rid of stuff I don't need.  I know it will be difficult since I've got to get rid of all of Alex's possessions he acquired over the 6 years he lived on his own, plus my dad is trying to give me a lot of my mom's things.  I would also like to get rid of the 20lbs I've acquired since October.
Here's a photo of about half of the fabric I folded and sorted to move to my new sewing room.

Looking forward to creating a space that is organized and uncluttered.  The whole house, not just the public spaces.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Time does not stand still

Well, I will be returning to work this coming Monday.  Most likely a modified schedule, but we'll see.  I have certainly made the most of my 4 month bereavement leave, but had very little time to just hang out.  The work involved in saying good bye to loved ones and taking care of all the red tape, followed by holidays and then both my son and mom had birthdays in January (as did I) did not leave much time for personal issues.  Being back on a schedule hopefully will get me more organized and I can get back into the rhythm of life.  Have been having some really wonderful times with my dad and my sister.  I've re-connected with so many long time friends. Life goes on and it's my intention to continue to enjoy it, despite the storms that come and go.