Archive for Retirement

‘Tis the Season to be . . . Tax Prepared?

tax-time-1040.jpgWell, maybe we’re not really hard over on getting the tax return for 2018 in the works just yet. We did, however, get our 2018 copy of the tax program we use and installed it on the laptop.

One thing we do want to evaluate is how well we did with our estimation of how much to withhold this year. We used IRS Notice 1036 to get a head start on the withholding and posted about it in February. With the new Tax Cuts, we hope to be fairly close on the figures. During the tax year we also tweaked the withholding a time or two.

Another item I am interested in seeing what effect it might have and that is having ordered my Ham Radio Call Plates also resulted in prematurely (in 2018 rather than 2019) paying the Vehicle License Fee on the RV which will increase the deduction for taxes paid. It’s not a trivial amount, so it will be interesting to see. We may wind up getting a refund again and you may know how I hate to lend the .gov interest-free $$$.

So, the program is installed and I will begin dribbling information into it over the next couple of weeks in order to gain an inkling as to how well our estimated withholding worked. I’ll post on that when I know something more.

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Ham Radio Vanity Callsign Bonanza Day Results

New QSL Card

The Vanity Quest for a new 7th area Ham Radio Callsign is now over. We managed to get picked and won the callsign seen above. It was my third choice on the list I submitted in my application to the FCC on the 5th of November. I achieved my goal of having the new call before the end of 2018.

I started the Vanity Quest last January for a 7th district call when I “harvested” a silent key’s (deceased ham’s) amateur radio callsign by providing a letter requesting the call be released for reissue and a copy of the obituary to the FCC. I was disappointed when I didn’t get that call because the suffix was my first and last name initials. I was doubly disappointed when a guy from Illinois (out of the 7th district) got the call.

Before today’s result, I applied for 21 callsigns on 19 applications, all of which were dismissed. This morning when I read my email, the FCC notice was in my inbox. Now, I am pleased with the fact I got an old-timer W7 call and am happy with the Quest being at an end.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Lifestyle Change - Diet in Particular

Chicken over Cauliflower Rice

Ever since Damsel retired about 20 years ago, we have enjoyed preparing delicious meals on the weekends. She runs the kitchen while I run the smoker and grill. Occasionally, I help in the kitchen (sous chef role) with meat cutting and grinding or with shredding cheese and other kitchen helper labors of love. Thus far, we have been able to prepare just about anything we see in a recipe or on the TV cooking and food channels or on internet social media.

A few weeks ago, Damsel went for her regular annual session with the family doctor. He checked her over and pronounced all the vitals to be within limits - however, he wanted her to get some routine blood work done. Her initial report was that triglycerides were a bit too high and the doctor prescribed another more specific blood test. The results from that test indicated a marginally high blood glucose level, also known as pre-diabetes.

The doctor’s advice was to change her diet to cut down on carbohydrate intake. Well, damn! just about all of our favorite foods are laden with carbs. We did some research on low-carb diets and actually found some literature on understanding the pre-diabetic condition and preparing meals with low carbohydrate counts. We also found other sites with recipes and information, one of which had the photo above of a “Garlic Butter Chicken with Parmesan Cauliflower Rice” recipe. It looks pretty good, no?

So, we’re both going on a low-carb diet. No more potatoes (and most other starchy root veggies), pasta ( :( ), bread, pastries. fruit and a host of other goodies with high carbohydrate content. The only good news is that un-prepared meats of all kinds have zero carbs. Her diet will be to reduce blood sugar and mine will be to lose the 15-20 lbs that the doc has suggested.

Between a couple of low-carb cookbooks and websites like the one linked above, we should be able to prepare delicious food for our diets. In any event, we will not be denied wholesome, tasty meals just because of reduced carbs.

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Cactus and its Pups Transplanted

Removed from Plastic Pot You probably remember our “Cherry RedTrichocereus Grandiflorus cactus, the one with the bright red or hot pink flowers. Well, today it was time to separate the overcrowded parent from the pups in the original pot.

Bob took his circular saw to the plastic pot in order to cleanly remove the cactus and its roots. The result is seen at the right - the cactus sans pot on a camo tarp. The tarp was there to retain the soil that we brushed away from the roots. The residual soil went into the transplant pots along with some local sandy soil.

The yield was the original main cactus and a bunch of pups ranging from mature to very small. All were transplanted into pots except for the very small pup which went into the ground in my xeriscape garden outside the courtyard main gate.

Before attempting to separate the cactus and pups, we consulted with several on-line sources describing methods for separating cacti of this type. We think that some of the pups that broke off of a main stem without the roots will develop them in their new pots (or in the ground) over time. The main cactus and larger pups had partial root systems that made it into the new pots.

We’re hoping that eventually we will have bright red flowers happening all over the courtyard and xeriscape instead of all in one place. You can see from the photos below that we are spread out a bit now. Click on any image to enlarge.

Parent Cactus Large Pup Cactus

Three Small Pups Very Small Pup in the Xeriscape

Medium Pup Medium Large Pup

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Retirement Milestone Nine

nine.pngIt’s hard to believe that another year of retirement has passed, for which we’re very grateful. We had a good year with some travel to visit family and see the sights of the great American Southwest. We have had a good health year, only suffering some of the usual senior aches and pains, but nothing too serious.

We still love living here in the Sonoran High Desert of Arizona. We currently are experiencing some light rainfall with a promise of heavier showers overnight. That should break the drought in this area good and proper.

During the coming year, we are planning a vacation in the springtime to visit the grave of my great grandmother Emma in Montrose, Colorado. She was buried there in 1960 and until just a few weeks ago had no marker on her grave. Damsel and I changed that and ordered a slant from a monument company in nearby Delta. We would like to visit the cemetery again to view the marker in person and decorate it with a wreath. My great great grandmother Adeline is also in that cemetery so we will place wreaths on her marker which she shares with her son, my great uncle Ulysis.

We don’t have a lot of other plans for the coming year and are playing it by ear, so to speak. We have plans to do some home improvement; painting the house exterior and walls plus new furniture for the inside. It should be a good year until the tenth retirement anniversary next fall.

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Palo Verde Tree Rescue

Small Palo Verde Startup In its new spot

During an afternoon walk, I noticed a small palo verde tree growing on the shoulder of the road out front. I made a mental note to remove the tree from that location due to proximity to road traffic. In a couple of years it would likely have grown out into the roadway.

In discussions with Damsel, we decided to relocate the tiny tree to our rock and cactus garden on the west side away from the RV drive. If the little tree survives the transplant, we will be able to prune it into a nice addition to the garden. It can be made to look like an attractive tree, like so many in Arizona xeriscapes managed by homeowners and landscapers.

I took my spade and carefully loosened the dirt around the little tree, trying to preserve most of the roots. I dug a hole in the west garden and lowered the tree into it. I brushed the soil from the hole over the roots and the lower part of the trunk. We doused it with a gallon of water, hoping that would ease the shock to the transplanted tree.

The two images above are the before and after. Click on either image to enlarge.

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Caught on Google’s Aerial Image

walking-the-dogs-on-google-maps-2.jpg

I was casually looking at the Google™ satellite map of our neighborhood (actually an aerial photo mosaic, not taken from a satellite) when I noticed a couple of objects on our neighbor’s driveway. I zoomed in to have a closer look and the conclusion I came to was that the objects in question are us walking our dogs!

Our morning routine after breakfast: we feed and then walk the dogs. We generally walk them up the road to the west toward our neighbor’s house up the hill from us. In the image, the dark colored part of the road running to the left side is where we are. You can see our light colored cowboy hats, our shadows and the dogs and their shadows. Damsel is further up the road than I am by about 30 yards. The image below will clarify where we are in the top image.

walking-the-dogs-on-google-maps.jpg

I think it’s a funny coincidence that we happened to be out where we were when the aerial photo plane flew over. I estimate the time frame for the image is last summer. My clues are that the RV is not in the usual place as it was being serviced down in Avondale last year and the shadows are shorter on the north side indicating summertime.

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