Monday, February 29, 2016

Returned Happy

Four different people triumphantly found a 90th birthday card, and all four found the same one.  I've joined such a select percentage of the population that only American Greetings feels it worthwhile to publish a card -- and they offer only one at that.
 My pride in the achievement, of course, is not justified.  All that's required is to breathe in and out approximately 756,864,000 times, according to my old-fashioned on-the-desk calculator.  I forgot to add in for 22.5 leap days, but then again, I didn't subtract for the two minutes or so when I can't breathe during  laryngal spasms.    
     There was a time back in  college days when I wrote greeting card verses for 50 cent a line -- not that bad
when minimum wage was 43 cents an hour.  This card says  "Ninety years of memories must hold so much for you."  I don't know what someone got for writing it, but clearly it's someone who doesn't know much about being 90.  I don't remember a damn thing any more.  The Birthday Scrapbook everyone helped Anna assemble is full of delightful memories (no one sends anything to a Birthday Scrapbook but delightful memories) and they're a great gift because they're mostly things I've forgotten.
  Many Happy Returns
        to all of you!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Letter to the Newspaper Column

  This polite query came in today at from a reader of the weekly newspaper column. Nothing has been changed but their names -- I did leave the mis-spelling of my own name.

        Dear Ms. Link,
It has to do with the tax implications of a Condo currently titled in my mother’s name and Debby’s name in equal share.
My mother is currently paying the mortgage on this rental unit and the loan is in her name only. The property income, expenses and mortgage have been included in my mother’s tax return. She is 94 years old.
She no longer needs the tax deduction for income tax purposes.
The purchase price of the Condo was about $145,000. It has a current market value of about $115,000 and the outstanding loan is about $120,000.
The net income for the property is about zero.
Debby and I could use some losses for income taxes purposes if they would occur with the transfer.
1. Should my mother transfer her portion of the ownership to Debby and transfer the loan to us also?
2. How would this be treated for our tax purposes?
3. How would it affect Muriel’s taxes?
4. Or should we just leave things as they are until Muriel passes?
5. We live in the state of
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Debby Smith

It's signed Debby but I dunno. (see "Debby and I" line 11)
And who is Muriel? (first appearance, question #3)
And if Muriel is the husband's mother, how come he isn't  the co-owner? (see question #1)

Well, I just had to share this with someone, so you're it.  Sorry I can't seem to think of an appropriate illustration.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Okay, bite the bullet, call the repairmen – or should one say repairpersons?
The garage door openers don’t work right.  They’ll open the door but the remote won’t lower it.  I have to drive off leaving that gaping invitation to passing squirrels, raccoons and who knows what else, to come in from the cold,  go up in the eaves and settle down in the crawl space.
Then again – and this one is really serious – the bedroom tv remotes don’t work either. Same problem with both of them, so I know it's not the batteries.
So I resign myself to spending a couple of hundred dollars.   I don’t search the Internet – my generation pulls out the yellow pages directory (which is smaller than it used to be) and I call the garage door people with the biggest ad.
I’m sure they’ll try to sell me a new door, so I start right out saying firmly:
“My garage door dates from 1954 and I don't want to replace it. But the remote doesn’t work right.  It’ll raise the door but it won’t lower it.  You have to…”
        “ the button inside the garage, and hold it all the way?”
        “Yes, that’s it!!”

        “Well, our charge is $68 plus parts, $88 plus parts on the weekend.  But all I’m going to do when I get there is straighten out your sensors.”
 “Those little metal things that stand up at the bottom of your door, to keep it from crushing whatever's in the way?  Just go out and see if the red light’s on and if one of them got knocked sideways.  Then if that doesn’t work, call me back.”
It works.  
So there’s $88 saved, right there.  $68 weekdays.
            Time Warner cable is something else again, though.  I owe them an such an unconscionable amount every month that I’ve set up autopay just to avoid seeing the bills.  And the problem is, I suspect, not with cable anyhow, but just with those remotes.  But as I don’t know who else to call, I bite the bullet again and phone TWC.
            “You’ll have to send someone over.  The screen says I’ve changed to a different channel, but the picture remains the same.  I’m going to be out tomorrow; can we make an appointment for the next day?”
            “I’ll be happy to, but first, why don’t you try unplugging the set and letting it re-boot?  Then if that doesn’t work, you can call me back.”
            It works.
            I could hardly believe it – free advice!  Twice in one day!   Never mind free advice that worked!

     It’s enough to restore one’s faith in one’s fellow persons.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Day in the Life

       Several days ago the remote for the kitchen TV disappeared.  I looked all over, searched through the trash can, but I’ve been pretty much getting along without it  – about all I watch in the kitchen is CNN, and these days it’s all Donald Trump anyhow.
      To set the background – I take hot baths every morning and night, with a book on the bath tray.  Right now it’s The Vicar of Wakefield, and I’m about to email a friend who’s an English prof, because I can’t figure out -- is that novel for real or was it intended as what Jane Austen called a “burlesque”?  But I digress.
       So this morning I happened to take a good look at the portable phone I keep next to the tub, thinking maybe it was time to re-charge it back on the stand – and whaddye know – it was the remote for the kitchen TV.
       I've been making jokes about Old-Timers-Disease whenever I have trouble remembering a word (usually it’s nouns, incidentally) but this morning for the first time I got genuinely scared.  That was just too close to the classic car-keys-in-the-freezer for comfort. 
      OTOH, I had remembered to send my kids the “I’m still here, it’s okay” morning email.  And I did remember to take the antibiotics before I headed out for the dentist – said driving not quite as simple as it sounds.  When old friends meet now, just about the first question is “So are you still driving?”  That’s the big dividing line, the next question being “but what about at night?”  Sorry, digressing again…
      It occurred to me that the electric Smart, which is in the garage, might not be the best bet, for the dentist’s office is in Bushnell’s Basin, an old Erie Canal village out by the Thruway.  The Smart doesn’t have all that much range, and the Thruway doesn’t come very close to Rochester.  That was a getting-even by Governor Thomas E. Dewey, after the Rochester publisher Frank Gannett went after the Republican nomination and showed up at the Convention with a live elephant.  I remember as a child seeing pictures of said elephant on some front page.
      So with just a cane I tottered out to the Chevy on the driveway, only to find I’d brought the wrong car keys.  Back to the house, during which trip it was clear I'd forgotten to take the morning painkillers.  And the garage-door opener doesn’t work right, and I keep forgetting to call the repairman.  But anyhow –
      Let’s skip right to the dentist’s office, where I manage three steps, wobble in, hang up my jacket(painful right arm will no longer stretch up to those hooks, as usual installed by six-foot workmen) only to be told by a smiling receptionist that my appointment is for tomorrow.  Today is Monday.
She phoned the pharmacist so I could pick up more meds for tomorrow.  And so back to Rochester, where I circled Wegman’s parking lot til I spotted one of those Helpers and got him to leave a shopping cart right by handicap parking.  And where, when the prescription still wasn’t quite ready, I went over and bought – it still feels pretty weird – a single baking potato.  Weight .68 lb.  Cost 69 cents. 
Bought two bags of groceries in all.  And the pills still not ready, I tried the do-it-yourself blood-pressure machine.  126 over 61. Maybe this would be a good day to buy a lottery ticket after all.
      But I didn’t.  Drove home, realized I usually unload groceries right into the rolling cart from the garage. Eventually figured out how to get those two grocery bags up the driveway anyhow.
     And it’s not yet noon, so I guess this is just a Half-Day in the Life.