Archive for the ‘Retirement’ Category

Mise Èireannach

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

The title is Gaelic for “I Am Irish.” While that assertion is partially correct, both the wife and I are descendants of Scots, Irish, Welsh and English for the most part with traces of Native American and other (mostly) European ancestors. With all that disclosure out of the way, we will identify as Irish this week when we celebrate the cross-quarter feast of Beltane, about halfway between spring equinox and summer solstice.

Modern cultures that recognize Beltane typically celebrate on May Day (01 May), but the actual cross-quarter doesn’t occur until the fifth of May which is coincident with “Cinco de Mayo,” but since we have no Hispanic ancestry that we could find, we’re going with the Celtic celebration. However, due to our busy and crowded schedule as retirees, we have to postpone the festivities until the weekend (of May 07/08). Weekends are when we usually celebrate midweek holidays.

So, we will celebrate Beltane by having a traditional Irish dinner entrée of Shepherd’s Pie. Damsel found a simple recipe for “upside-down” shepherd’s pie, so we will be preparing it that way. We may also indulge in an Irish Cocktail at that time.

Sunday the 8th is, of course, Mother’s Day. Most of us retirees will wish our heavenly Mom’s a happy day in Heaven. Our Sunday meal will be Grilled Tri-Tip roast with braised cabbage and asparagus.

Cheers and Happy Cinco de Beltane to all the Mothers and Others out there.

Happy Easter 2022

Sunday, April 17th, 2022

Damsel and I wish everyone a blessed and happy Easter Sunday. We will be commemorating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ at home with a small feast and our regular Sunday Holy Communion.

Since there are just the two of us, we will be enjoying Ham Steaks with sides of Brussels Sprouts and Mock ‘n’ Cheese.* Dessert will be Ice Cream over Apple Muffins.*

Image: Patriotic Easter Eggs by “KTC” courtesy of The Patriot Post.

* Our diet consists of low-carbohydrate items such as substituting cauliflower for pasta and baking with almond flour. Damsel has to watch the carbs and I have to watch the sodium although we compromise some of the time. We just had our annual lab work at the clinic and the results were normal for us with the Doctor’s recommendation to continue with our maintenance prescriptions.

A New Route 66 Neon Sign

Saturday, March 19th, 2022

Damsel and I hung up this classic “Historic Route 66” neon sign in the garage today. This is the second one of these to hang in the garage. When the previous sign exhibited a “failure to function,” we recycled it and ordered a new one since the garage is quite dark and a “night light” of sorts is a good thing to have in there. Before we had the first Route 66 sign, we had a little Route 66 clock with a neon tube around it. I forget what happened to that one.

Speaking of classics, Damsel snapped the (clickable) photo below of a very nicely restored 1951 Chevrolet Panel Sedan. We were on our way home from delivering some dog food to the Humane Society, when we saw this nice ride coming toward us on Wickenburg Way.

Almost Done! – 2021 Tax Return

Thursday, January 20th, 2022

UPDATE: Filed 01/26/2022

I used strikeout tags above on the “Almost” in the title because we’re now filed and waiting for the refund.

UPDATE 2: Refund deposited 02/03/2022

This is the fastest we have ever seen a refund deposited. It took the IRS only eight out of the advertised 21 days to deposit our refund. Last year, we similarly filed our return in late January and it took the IRS 23 days before the refund showed up.


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

Sunday, 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.

Started the Annual IRS Ritual Today

Wednesday, 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.

WordPress and PHP Upgrade Complete

Monday, November 8th, 2021

Arizona CardinalToday, we upgraded both WordPress on the blogsite and the Version of PHP on the server side. It turned out to be a several-step process with two intermediate WP upgrades in addition to the final WP update. We should be good for a while now that everything is copasetic with the Server configuration.

Image – An Arizona Cardinal is easily spotted hiding among the thinning leaves of our backyard mesquite tree. Click on the image to enlarge.

As you can see, the WP stock default theme is being used in lieu of our custom theme from before the change. This will be the theme until I can find a replacement theme that I can customize to resemble the previous theme. This may take some time since most of the WP themes I have been looking at are unsuitable for our familiar two column arrangement.

Thanks for your patience while we go about getting things customized. I still have our Food Blog site to upgrade, so I better get to that.