Tuesday, April 14, 2020

This is Taxing on All of US

Ok, so...what is this blog about?  April 15th is upon us, so is this blog about Taxes?  

All 50 states are in a state of emergency, nearly all of us are in "lock down", going out for food and essentials for the most part, and some (like Marcia), not going out anywhere.  At least April 15th is not a Taxing day for us this year...that has been postponed to July 15th.  But I did ours and mailed it in yesterday...we owed a whole $5.  Of course, we paid way more than that in our quarterly tax payments.  Our quarterly tax payments have gone down for 2020 because one of us finally turns 65...while the other is already &@ years old (over 65).  Hey, I am not stupid enough to really post Marcia's age, but she is a little older than I am.  It use to bother me that I was the youngest in the family...until Sisters came along...now I brag about being so YOUNG!  By years end, I will be on Medicare, 16 months later I qualify for a full Social Security Benefit, and I already get most discounts for Senior Citizens.  I also paid our first quarterly tax payment too, even though it could have been delayed to July.  Had I left it in the bank, it would have earned us what, about another dollar with interest rates so low?  Figured it is best to pay now, instead of forgetting to pay it in July and having to pay an outrageous IRS penalty!

Covidvirus Spreads Out
Watching this VIRUS spread throughout the country...throughout the world is Taxing on the mind.  Just imagine "IF" we had the media resources we do today during the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920 when 500 Million were infected, and 50 Million died, 675,000 dying in the USA.  Heck, with news like that, and all the finger pointing and you should have done this, you need to do that attitudes, the news of the Spanish Flu would have killed another 675,000 due to heart attacks!

Most of us are tired of watching the news, news conferences, talking heads, Facebook news alerts, massive Tweets, numerous instant messaging from news feeds, etc., etc. etc.  It is TAXING to our brains, that is for sure.

Of course, the alternative is Taxing on your brain (and body) too.  Binge Watching episode after episode after episode will eventually catch up to you.  Last year Marcia and I found that we could watch all of Heartland via Amazon except the last (current) season.  Even that show, as gentle on the mind that it is (compared to shows that have lots of shoot-em-ups and bombs going off), it finally got to us.  Then we hit the end of the episodes that you could watch for free, which brings on addiction pains because you KNOW there is more out there, but you can't watch them without paying more $$$$ than you basic Amazon Prime price.  We never did give in to the temptation, and our addiction pains eventually vanished.

And finally, it is Taxing to the Brain to try and remember all the common sense stuff that you are suppose to do during this Coronavirus threat.  Well, for me, not so much...but for others, yes it is.  I will end this fun little Tax Day Blog with a few of the strange things I have observed over the past few weeks.
  • Lady riding a bike down the street near the condo wearing a mask.  Now mind you, there is NO ONE ELSE out on the street, but she insisted on wearing a mask...which does not bother me.  However, as she was headed toward me, I was able to observe her for perhaps a good tenth of a mile.  In that time period she touched her mask, and areas of her face, at least six times.  Mask for protection will not protect face from being touched by potential dirty hands.   Note:  Why is it that every time I put my gloves on to enter a store, that my nose or face itches but I can't touch it???
  • I was stopped at a stop light a few weeks ago and I looked in the rear view mirror.  There was a guy, about mid-30's, in his car, alone except for his dog which was in the back seat.  The guy had a mask on.  I can understand wearing masks in stores and stuff (although I choose not to), but in your own car with only your dog in the car???  You gotta wonder...   Note:  If the stores were full of people, which they are not here, I would consider wearing a mask.  Also, our county has a .02% infection rate, with 3 deaths.  When I go down an grocery aisle where someone has stopped looking for something, I will either wait for them, or stop breathing and quickly go by them before taking another breath.  Waited for this lady in the produce area just yesterday when I needed some diced garlic.  After about a minute she realizes I was there waiting for her back about 10 feet, and she apologized.  I told her, "I am in no hurry...there is no where to go but back home into isolation."  She laughed...
  • They closed the Dog Park!  Now they tell us to be sure to exercise the dogs, and then they close up the place where dogs can get exercise.  Up until a week ago, it was open, and everyone was keeping their distance.  They still have fishing beach and fishing pier open, but the playground is closed, as is the kids water park.  Poor Bubba...no more free wandering around on his own for awhile.
  • We get mail here at the Condo and also at a PO Box.  Went in to get mail, and I see this lady at the counter by the PO Boxes where many people open mail and toss out the junk.  Her safety gloves are off her hands, laying on the table, as she opens her mail, putting her hands on the counter top, on the garbage lid, and when she finished, she put her gloves back on and went out to her car.  I only hope that she washed her hands and dumped the gloves when she got home.  Note: When I get to the car while wearing gloves, I remove my left one partially exposing the inside of the glove, open the door with what was the inside of the glove, remove that glove and put in trash bag once inside, shut the door with my now bare hand, and I don't touch anything with my right hand until I take that glove off and put in trash bag.  I then take a Clorox wipe and wipe down my face, hands, arms, keys, steering wheel, and other places I touch in the car, all in that order, and put the now dirty wipe in the bag.  So the interior of the car should be as sanitized as it can be.
I could go into a bunch of stupid political things from every side of the aisle, or the stupid things politicians have said, or how the media has stuck its foot in mouth here and there..all of that is too TAXING on my brain.  As Marcia says, "Can't wipe stupid off of one's forehead."  Too many of these media and politicians are simply acting stupid, in my opinion, for whatever that is worth.

One very good thing I have noticed is just how clean everyone is keeping everything.  The stores use to have wipes to clean your own shopping cart ...now they have a cleaning person who wipes them down much more thoroughly than one can do with those little wipes.  Staff are wiping down freezer and refrigerator doors, vegetables in the produce area, grocery shelves, moping the floor, and especially keeping the check-out areas spotless, including the touch pad at the credit card machine.  They have put up sneeze/cough barriers between the staff member and those checking out.  If someone is bagging your groceries, you are asked to stay in your checkout area until they have everything in the cart.  And the lines are longer only because of the 6 foot rule they want everyone to keep...so a line with 3 people in it is 12+ feet long instead of everyone crunched up along the conveyor belt waiting for their turn to pay.  Good news, most people are shopping alone, few to no kids, and everyone is being polite and orderly...with about 50% of the people having masks on.  Gee...I wonder how long all this new found politeness will last after this epidemic is over????

Sunday, April 12, 2020

No Bunnies, No Eggs, No Guests, But HE STILL AROSE

Can you remember the days of being young at Easter time?  Typically started out with Palm Sunday, then having a week off from school (when the school district coordinated it correctly), then a church service for Good Friday, followed by decorating eggs on Saturday.

On Sunday, after church, we would be given a basket, with green fake grass inside (but not as nice as this basket...many times it was just a plain looking basket).

And in the grass we would hope to find some Jelly Beans and one or two delicious (gag) Peeps.  Yes, as a kid they tasted great...now days, not so much so...

After church, and after Easter Dinner, the HUNT would begin.  We would look for the painted hard boiled eggs, and especially for the plastic eggs.  You never knew what would be inside the plastic egg...perhaps a note, perhaps a few little candies (ie: Jelly Beans), perhaps a few coins or a even a dollar bill.  Of course, the 'older kids' (all my brothers for instance) had to be told which area of the yard was theirs, and which was for us younger kids...otherwise, us younger kids would not come up with any plastic eggs.

Can you remember your first chocolate bunny?  I can..it tasted good, but I was disappointed that it was hollow, but it didn't take away from the taste.  I nibbled on it for a number of days.

And later in life I was introduced to the Cadbury Eggs. Oh WOW, those are to die for, especially certain flavors.  They have 25 different flavors!  Not even sure which ones are my 'favorite', because after all, how can you have a 'favorite' when they all taste so good.  Here is a list of eggs from over the years: Chocolate Creme Eggs, Orange Creme Eggs, 'Berry' Creme Eggs,  Mint Creme Eggs, Dairy Milk with Creme Egg bars, Creme Egg Fondant, Creme Egg ice, Holiday Ornament Creme Egg, Mad About Chocolate Egg (Australia and New Zealand), Creme Egg Pots Of Joy , Screme Egg Pots Of Joy, Creme Egg Layers Of Joy, Peppermint Egg (New Zealand), Giant Creme Eggs, Creme Egg Splats, Screme Egg - for Halloween, Screme Egg Minis, Fudgee-O Egg, Oreo Cream Egg (Canada). Introduced in 2016. Filled with a white cream centre containing Oreo cookie crumbs, Ghost Egg , White Chocolate Creme Egg.  What you DON'T see is a COCONUT Egg...just the more reason to like Cadbury.  COCONUT and Chocolate?  Hershey burned me more than once with their Almond Joy Bars and their Mounds Bars...it took me awhile (a number of Halloweens) to realize that they BOTH had Craponut in them.  Yes, CRAPONUT, that is how much I don't like Coconut!  Don't need to worry about that with Cadbury, as you do with See's, Mrs. Cavanaugh's, Chirardelli, Godiva, etc.

Hard to talk about Easter without talking about Miss Ann.  She was the Children's Librarian at the Pine Bluff Library for decades.  A few years after I arrived in Pine Bluff, Miss Ann told me to "expect a surprise" when I got home from church the Friday before Easter.  We got home, and Miss Ann and one of her Easter Bunny Helpers had hidden Easter Eggs for my three kids.  It has been  15 years since Miss Ann passed...I miss her to this day.

As one gets older, being raised in the faith, Easter becomes less and less about Chocolate Bunnies, Cadbury Eggs, and especially a lot less about Peeps.  It is a very special day, a day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.  This year Easter, or Resurrection Day as it is known by many Christians, is a day where families were unable to gather, unable to celebrate together.  There were no community Easter Egg Hunts, and most could not attend church except through the Internet.  But it was still a memorable day for us believers.  I hope that you too have had a good day today.  As for us...our Boneless Leg of Lamb is still cooking, and we should be feasting around 5 pm.  Little did I know back then that Lamb was better than Chocolate...

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Mom Fell, Hit Head, Broke Foot

On Thursday I get the dreaded email from Sandy.  Mom fell!  Sandy got the call from the facility mom lives at around 4 am, they were loading mom up on an ambulance to take her to the hospital.  Four hours later Sandy sent out the email stating that she had a broken foot (fractured in three places), and a brain bleed, and that she was moving into ICU.  NO ONE could go to the hospital due to "THE VIRUS", so it was a waiting game at home for everyone.

Hospital Room

They did another CT Scan and found that her brain bleed did not get any bigger.  They moved her into a regular hospital room sometime that night.  About 3 pm our time I called her, and she sounded real good.  They had taken a third CT Scan, and no change, which was good.  They planned to release her soon.  WOW!  What a change from just 24 hours earlier when we wondered if she was going to make it or not.  When you or anyone you know is not there to "see for yourself", you always think the worse...
Medical Shoe
So mom has a special shoe, I am thinking probably a bit like this one above.  Not sure even which foot she broke...all we know is that she is back in the facility, in her little apartment, and is doing surprisingly well.  She got a good nights sleep.  She can get up with her walker (which she always uses anyways) and make it around the apartment wearing her special shoe.  Due to "THE VIRUS" they are bringing all meals to her, so this is a perfect time to have a broken foot, if there is such a time.  She said that she keeps the shoe on all the time because when she takes it off, it hurts...with it on, doesn't hurt at all.

It sure gives one a time to pause, and think about ALL those other people who are in a hospital right now, due or not due to "THE VIRUS".  Think of a child who fell and hit their head real hard.  Off to the hospital they go,  and no contact with family.  Think of that mother and father, wondering how their child is doing.  (Reminds me of when I was a baby...so sick when I was born that mom went home without me.  I was so sad, sitting there in that little incubator ...)    Seriously, it is a hard time right now for many...we are just so lucky that mom is doing so well.  Now, as long as doesn't come down with "THE VIRUS" in the next 14 days, I would say she came out of this pretty lucky and very blessed.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Dad Would Have Been 92

Dad would have been celebrating his 92nd Birthday Today (April 1st).  The picture above was taken two years ago at Sandy and Arny's house.  It was a Sunday, Easter Sunday.  It was the last birthday I would have with him because last year my son graduated from a Chiropractic College in Missouri and we just could not make both.  I wrote this in the blog back then pertaining to his 90th Birthday:
Easter has fallen on Dad’s birthday only four times in his lifetime, 1934, 1945, 1956, and 2018…and will do so again in 2029, but dad says he does not want to be around ‘that’ long…which is understandable. 
Well, he did not even make two years...and I KNOW he does not mind, although many of us do because we miss him so much.

Dad was musically inclined with his voice, but playing any instrument just wasn't his thing...but he did enjoy fiddling with a Ukulele now and then.  I think it got put in, and taken out, of more than one yard sale...no telling what ever happened to it.

Dad had one brother, Leroy...we affectionately called him Uncle Red, even though his red hair turned white a long time ago.  Above is a picture of Leroy (right) and mom and dad before they got married.  Dad was in his navy uniform.  My guess, it was 1947, perhaps 1946.

Both dad and Leroy were very jovial, even to the point of being jokesters.  Leroy was the king of the two, older child and all...he dished out many a good joke...and was the receiver of many too.  Dad, well, being born on April 1st, had many a joke played on him just because he was born on April Fools Day.  As a young child I remember someone at church giving him a large, nicely wrapped box for his birthday.  By the time he got down to the sixth or seventh box (open the big box, a slightly smaller box is found, open it, and another slightly smaller box is found, etc) each nicely wrapped, he got down to the last one which was the size of a ring box...just to open it and find a piece of Bazooka Bubble Gum.

I couldn't wait for him to open it just so I could read the short little Bazooka Joe Comic found on the inside of the wrapper of each piece of gum. 

On June 5, 1948 mom and dad married in San Jose by candle light at 7 pm.  Grandpa Burdick performed the ceremony, and that is him standing behind mom and dad.   Uncle Red was at the far right.  Mom's sister Aunt Mary was next to mom, and on the far left is future Aunt Mary Lee, who later married mom's brother Kenny.  I 'think' everyone else in the picture has passed now except for mom and Mary.  Others in the picture were friends of mom and dad.

My brother Bob sent me this picture the other day.  It is the wedding of our cousin Marlene, around 1950.  That is mom standing to the left of the bride (Marlene), and Bob's first mother-in-law, Anne, is standing next to mom.  The interesting thing is...the wedding dress that Marlene is wearing is mom's wedding dress...and the dress mom is wearing is one of the dresses her bride's maids wore...most likely the one Aunt Mary wore.

This is, I think, the last picture that all of us were in together.  It was taken December 2017.  Look at that smile on both mom and dad's face!  A very precious moment.  FYI: Back Row L to R - Jim, Roger, Dave (me);  Middle Row: Patti, Sandy, Bob; and Mom and Dad in front.

Four years ago, on dad's 88th birthday, Mom decided to give up drinking, and was handing her Bud Light to Arny.  It was about time, we were all getting worried about her!  (Honestly, neither mom nor dad drank or smoked...she was teasing Arny who had left his beer sitting around and she grabbed it while he was not looking...I just happened to have the camera ready to get the shot.)

I am so thankful for the many times over the past ten years that Marcia and I were able to celebrate things like Birthdays, Father's Day, Mother's Day, 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving,  Christmas and of course, Wedding Anniversary days with both Mom and Dad, let alone other times that we gathered at Sandy and Arny's for a meal or just a good get-together.  For a few years mom and dad lived right next door to Sandy and Arny, so when we were 'Backyard Camping' it was very easy to visit them.  

The irony is, had dad been alive now, there is no way we could have made his birthday this year.  CoronaVirus prevents "group gatherings", and right now mom (and dad had he survived) is in total facility lock-down.  "IF" a resident leaves the facility grounds for any reason, even a doctor's appointment, they will be under strict 14 day quarantine in their apartments to be sure that they don't spread the virus if they caught it.  So far, the entire facility is virus free...thank the Lord!  Of course, we wouldn't even attempt to drive to California right now...with our luck, we would get in the middle of west Texas and have some State Trooper make us park and sit it out.  (Actually, have not heard stories of RVers being stopped, but many state and federal parks are closed, as are some commercially owned parks.)

So today (April 1st) I will miss my annual phone call, won't be able to visit, can't celebrate a wonderful day with dad...so we will just have to celebrate it without dad.  In a way, he will be there, in the hearts of each child, each grandchild, each relative, and especially a spouse who loves him so very much.  Happy Birthday Dad...this one you get to celebrate with your mom and dad and brother and countless friends and relatives who we also miss so very much.  Have a nice Heavenly Birthday!