Almost Done – 2021 Tax Return

January 20th, 2022

The current tax season will soon be over for us since we are completely done with everything except for one consolidated 1099 form from our brokerage; this investment account is always last for some reason, but it has previously been in our (electronic) possession before January is over. We’re expecting it to be available next week. We get a handful of 1099s from several sources including IRA RMD, SSA, pensions and financial institutions. Everything is already input to this year’s tax program except for the one mentioned above.

When the IRS changed the standard deduction under President Trump to be greater than our usual itemized deductions, it made our return so much easier to manage, given our financial particulars. We almost used to be like the dude in the photo on the left, but now we’re relieved of all that tedium under the revised standard deduction. We were happy to see that the current administration left things intact (albeit futzing around with other IRS functions). After we receive that last 1099 form, we will then be just a few clicks away from filing. This year, we are happy to say, that we analyzed our tax situation early and managed our withholding such that we will be receiving a small refund (<1K) from the Feds and, because of our charitable support for Arizona Private Education, we will be paying no state income tax at all.

Winter Lemon Crop

January 2nd, 2022

Knowing that there was to be freezing temperatures overnight, Damsel and I decided to start picking the ripe lemons from our “orchard” yesterday – yes, we did it on New Year’s Day. We picked about an estimated three hundred of them before we knocked off for the rest of the day.

We stored the lemons in the wheelbarrow (image above – click to enlarge) in the garage overnight due to the probable freezing temperatures, but, as it turned out, the low was just about exactly the freezing point which wouldn’t have damaged the lemons. The forecast was for a “hard” freeze but the only effects were to freeze the top layer of water in the birdbaths and in the rain bucket. Dogs water dish under cover in the patio and in their wading pool did not freeze.

Despite having picked a couple gross of lemons from the tree, there are dozens more to pick (image below). I checked on the unpicked lemons this morning and none appeared to be damaged, which is a good thing. We plan on using many of the lemons for our annual batch of Limoncello and give the rest away to neighbors and the local food bank.

Since there are a lot of lemons still to be picked, we will probably not get to that until later this week. I have a couple of appointments, one for lab work and another with the dermatologist for my usual skin problems, but we will likely be able to work around those and get the pickin’ into our routine.

Visitors to our humble abode are likely to be presented with a complimentary bottle of our custom Limoncello.

2022 – Happy New Year!

December 31st, 2021

Wishing you a very happy and prosperous New Year in 2022! We don’t have a lot of news to report for the past year and, at our ages, that’s a good thing, I expect. In the coming year, we are hoping to resume some travel in the big RV which has been sitting for way too long. Meanwhile, we’re biding our time until the traveling weather gets here, hopefully sooner than later.

Christmas 2021

December 24th, 2021

Image credit Wallpapers Access.

Christmas is here and we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. —Luke 2:4-5

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. —Luke 2:6-7

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” —Luke 2:10-12

May the Joy of Christmas be in your hearts in this Holy Time.

Sixty Years Ago Today

December 16th, 2021

The (clickable) image above is the beginning page of my first Pilot Log Book. The page entries include my first flight lesson on December 16, 1961 and my first SOLO flight on January 9, 1962. I was just 18 years old then and managed to get my Private Pilot Certificate the following April, well before my 19th birthday in July.

When I first started flying lessons back then at the Santa Monica (CA) Municipal Airport (SMO), the cost of renting a Cessna 150 (high-wing, two-seat, tricycle gear, 100 HP) was $12/hour (including AvGas!). The Instructors fee was $5/hour for a total of $17/hour. In contrast, today the average cost per hour seems to be about ten times that, with Instructors fees upwards of $50 and airplane rental nearly $120 per hour, depending on local rates and circumstances.

In my early flying days, I checked out in a Cessna 172 (high wing, four-seat, tricycle gear, 150 HP) and puttered around locally with friends and family until it was time for me to go on active duty in the US Navy (I joined the Naval Reserve when still in high school). While at Avionics school in Millington, TN, I checked out in a Piper Tri-Pacer (high-wing) and a Piper Cherokee (low-wing) and did some local puttering around the Memphis area along the Mississippi River. After School, I reported to the US Naval Air Station, Point Mugu, CA, which was only 45 miles from the airport where I learned to fly, so I resumed flying out of SMO for the rest of the time I was on active duty.

After I mustered out of the Navy, I continued flying now and then for leisure and travel. Shortly after I began working at my aerospace job, I found out that I was eligible for advanced flight training through the Veterans Affairs G.I. Bill. Their program financed most of my advanced training for Commercial Pilot Certificate, Instrument Rating, Multi-Engine Rating, Instructor Pilot Certificate and Instrument Instructor Pilot Certificate. Yet, there was More! Rotorcraft Helicopter Rating and Rotorcraft Instructor Pilot Certificate. I was busy with these upgrades for a few years afterwards and finally was able to earn my Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, hence the Cap’n designation at the top of the page.

I stayed in Aerospace as my primary occupation, but flew quite a bit as an instructor and charter pilot as a sideline. I have over five thousand hours of instruction given in all types of aircraft and ratings for which I am certified.

Ultimately, in the year 2000 or so, I became ineligible for an Airman Medical Certificate because of a prescription medication I take, which supposedly causes dizziness, a symptom which I have never experienced. Rather than fighting through the bureaucracy of the FAA’s AirMed Branch in Oklahoma City to get a waiver, I decided to hang up the flying for good because my life priorities had changed now that Damsel and I were married.

A few of my more memorable experiences:

  • I ferried a brand-new Cherokee Arrow from the Piper Factory in Vero Beach, FL to Santa Monica, CA.
  • I ferried two brand-new Beechcraft Sierras from Liberal, KS to SMO
  • I earned a “Gold Seal” Instructors Certificate while instructing at SMO, based on the number of recommendations and passing ratio of my student pilots.
  • I taught a famous movie star’s son to fly at SMO. (You know who – he played the penultimate movie “Moses.”)
  • I ferried a Piper Super Cub from SMO to Opryland in Nashville, TN to a crew member working there. I met up with a lot of Country Stars plus got to watch the show live before catching an airliner back home.
  • I ferried that same Super Cub to Crescent City where my friend was filming the Star Wars “Forest Moon of Endor” sequences. I met a lot of Storm Troopers and Ewoks, but not Luke, Leah or Han.
  • I co-piloted a Cessna 410 twin engine from SMO to Jacksonville, FL and drove a rented car from there to Charleston, SC to visit with my Naval Officer Brother who was stationed there at the time. I flew back home on Delta.
  • I ferried a Hughes 300C helicopter from Long Beach, CA to New Orleans, LA. It took me three days to get across Texas from EL Paso to Beaumont-Port Arthur.
  • I qualified for Class A, B and C Helicopter External Load Certification while instructing in Sacramento, CA
  • Et Cetera – there are just too many wonderful experiences to list them all here.

I am proud of my aviation career but I am at a point in my lifetime that I don’t miss the flying. Besides, I have a lot of “Hangar Flying” memories and experiences that I can pass along to anyone who wants to listen.

Classic 1928 Ford Model A

December 11th, 2021

I took my pickup truck in for service last Wednesday and decided to wait for it to be completed. When I got into the waiting area, I discovered the dealer had this very nice and new-looking 1928 Ford Model A on display in there. This classic was parked where we previously saw another classic Ford Stake Bed Truck parked in the same area.

The Model A looked as if it was fresh off the showroom floor, having been beautifully restored including the interior, the convertible top, rumble seat upholstery and all. The trunk (an actual trunk) looked new as well.

The truck I mentioned in the link in the first paragraph was also in pristine condition. My guess is that Mr. Jones, the local (Ford, Jeep, whatever) dealer, has quite the collection of vintage cars and trucks since we saw another old classic at their other location a few years back. I’m quite sure that Damsel took a photo of that one, but I couldn’t find it among the thousands of photos that we have in the archives.

Started the Annual IRS Ritual Today

December 1st, 2021

I usually make it a point to acquire the Tax Software when Black Friday rolls around. This year was no exception and, since it is already the first of December, I roughed out the first cut of the 2021 return for the Fed (the Arizona package has yet to be released). I do this advanced cut each year to check if we have any unexpected issues that need to be fixed. At first glance, it appears that we do not have that need.

For the past several years, I have modeled our income and withholding on a spreadsheet to determine how much we must withhold for the Fed. So far, it has worked out to get us into a position where we only contribute minimally to the Fed and get a small (usually less than $1k) refund. We hate loaning the .gov interest free money.

I have updated the spreadsheet for 2022 already, since we now know the amount of SSA income for both of us. They allowed a 5.9% cost-of-living increase, but at the same time upped the Medicare Part B premium by 14.5%. The forecast for next year will put us in roughly the same bracket for 2021. Some items are guesses, but the major income sources (pension, SSA, IRA RMD) are well known.

We don’t pay any State Income Tax because we participate in a program to contribute to our local private Christian school which offsets us dollar-for-dollar on what would have been our State Tax obligation. We get the same kickback when we donate to the local high school’s Rifle Team! A bonus is that we still can claim each donation as a 501(c)(3) deduction on the Fed Tax.

We should again be able to file with the IRS in late January, as we did for last year’s return. The last and slowest of the 1099 forms from our investments are usually in our possession by then.