Home > Archive: February, 2021

Archive for February, 2021

Five Years Later, a Chance for a Poignant Do-Over

February 24th, 2021 at 12:31 am

Following my mother's death 5 years ago, I was faced with the challenge of gifting and/or selling a good portion of the vast art collection I'd inherited.  I donated a ton of art to a local not-for-profit group that ran a public health clinic for people with no health insurance. I thought it was a good choice, since many people would be passing through their doors, and my mother was a compassionate person.

Last year, I began to feel anxious about all the art I'd gifted this organization after seeing accounts in the local paper saying that the group had changed its focus, moved its offices outside of town and would no longer be running a health clinic. I wondered what would happen to the art and even considered contacting them, but decided against it because the gift was made, no strings attached (although I had made it clear my chief aim in gifting them the art was to ensure that others could continue to enjoy and appreciate the work).

Imagine my surprise today to find a letter in my mailbox from this group, saying they could no longer display my mother's work and asking my what my wishes might be for it. I will call them first thing tomorrow and schedule a time to retrieve it all.

God knows I have nowhere to put it, except a small spare bedroom that is already pretty full of art. But although I still need to dispose of art, even before the prospect of retrieving this particular trove came along, I am feeling a sense of elation and relief. For, truth be told, I had regretted gifting them as much as I had, and wishing I had held onto certain beautiful tapestries and woven paintings. At the time, I was completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of art I had. It was clear I just couldn't hold onto it all, yet it is a slow and difficult process to sell it.  Currently, I only have some of her other work in a single gallery, and even that one, I'm sure, has been closed or barely operating for much of 2020.  To do a better job of marketing it, I would need to devote a great deal more of my time to researching, and then approaching, appropriate galleries that specialize in this particular kind of art. And after a time, I just needed a break from doing that, so I moved onto other things.

Who would have thought, 5 years later, that I would get a chance for a "do-over," a chance to reclaim some cherished possessions I didn't think I'd ever see again? Hopefully, this time I will be able to have a more level-headed approach in figuring out what to do with each piece. If I could just set myself a goal of finding ONE new gallery to exhibit at in 2021, I would feel I'd made some progress.

In other news, I attended yet another webinar last night, this one sponsored by our library and featuring a woman who had just published a book about 19th century female serial killers in New England. How's that for a niche? At the end of her talk, she said she wanted to gift one copy of the book to one of us, and I won the book! She even signed it for me. I hope to receive it in a few days and I expect that after I read it, I will gift it to someone in my Buy Nothing group.

I'm bringing my dad for his 2nd vaccine this Thursday; our governor has decided to depart from CDC guidelines and starting Monday, they will be offering the vaccine to those in my age group, and will go strictly by age groups (oldest, then younger) moving forward. (This, after most first responders and those age 75+ have received their vaccines.) YAY.

Our state continues to have a very low COVID rate below 3%, so I went ahead and scheduled 3 doctors' appointments that are long overdue. Surprisingly, though, when I asked each scheduler if the doc and all their staff had been vaccinated, one said "most" had, but the other 2 said no, not necessarily. I'd assumed that people working in the health care field would be better informed about vaccine safety, but I guess my assumptions were incorrect.

A Taxing Thursday

February 18th, 2021 at 11:10 pm

The good news is, I filed both my federal and state tax returns today.

The bad news is, I won't be getting that $2200 federal refund as I thought, simply because there was a single figure I failed to carry down to another line (regular taxes owed), so I mistakenly initially calculated only my self-employment taxes! Unfortunately, not carrying over that one figure meant I had to redo much of my return as it related to my self-employment, so it took a good part of today to fix. I did also notice at the last minute that I'd forgotten to claim my Foreign Taxes Paid, so I was able to do that.

The bottom line is, my federal refund will be just $337, while I owe the state $486.

Filing my federal taxes is always kind of wonky. Although I qualify to use free tax software, I prefer to do it myself, using only the free fillable forms provided on the IRS website. 

As I've learned in past years, if you have a zero on a line that should have just been left blank , they'll reject your return without providing a clear explantion, leaving you to figure it out. This time, it was rejected because I put  0 on a line for alimony received; this year they have an "error tool" that's supposed to make figuring out the error easy, but naturally, it was not working. Luckily their error code contained the words "alimony" and "divorce," and since I am neither, I remembered those lines on p 2 of the 1040 form, took away the 0, refiled and hoped for the best. It worked, and the return was accepted.

I really need to now revisit both returns and try to calculate, in very rough terms, what my quarterly estimated payments should be, and this should be easy since I now earn a fixed weekly amount that does not vary. Trying to navigate the federal form is just ridiculously complicated, at least for me. I'd rather ballpark it, even if it means overpaying a bit. I really wasn't off by much for 2020, although I only had one quarter of self-employment. State-wise, I didn't make any estimated payments, and though I owe no interest penalty on my underpayment, that likely wont be the case after a full year of self-employment in 2021

It's been snowing all day, and by the time it ends tomorrow, we'll wind up with a mangeable 6-8 inches.

The month's challenges

February 12th, 2021 at 11:29 pm

Today was a day spent working toward eliminating various frustrations that have been confounding me in recent weeks.

I brought Luther to the vet yesterday and got a prescription for an inhaler medication for his feline asthma. The vet told me it would be cheaper to buy from a Canadian pharmacy, but wasn't much help in steering me toward one or another.  (Prior to this I tried putting Luther on a grain-free diet as I'd heard this could be causing his allergic reaction, but after 6 weeks, I saw no improvement, and he's been fighting me daily as to what food he'll eat. Food he ate the day before may be a food he turns his nose up to today. Vet said food allergies are not nearly as common as marketers make you think, but then he also said best to avoid feeding him beef, chicken, dairy and wheat, so that doesn't leave me much.)

I finally placed an order with one Canadian pharmacy, for about $40, which included shipping, for a med that cost over $200 here in the states. It's the same medication, Flovent, that's used with people.

After placing the order, I began feeling uneasy about the transaction, which I did over the phone, because I gave them my bank account number. They don't take credit card numbers, and while the other option was mailing a check, it's going to take between 3-5 weeks to get the med as it is and I didn't want further delays.

I called my bank later and they basicaly said the transaction is as secure as my trust in this particular company (whom I don't know from Adam). If I didn't want to close this account and open a new one (I will need to refill the prescription on an ongoing basis), they suggested opening a second checking account or a money market account in which I would keep the bulk of my money, and then only transfer to the checking as need. So basically I could limit the amount of my day to day money that would be exposed to this kind of risk. I Should have asked the question, but I guess, unlike a credit card transaction, the bank does not bear the loss in case of fraud.

This is what I'll do. I do already  have an online money market elsewhere, and I am pretty sure their rates are better than my local community bank, but I would rather keep this money local to me, so I'll do the paperwork online and have an appointment set up for Tuesday to sign some stuff.

Another headache: I started my taxes. Usually I more or less "copy" how I did the previous year's taxes since things don't really change much from one year to the next, but in the 4th quarter of last year, I became self-employed (still working for the same company) and now have new tax forms to deal with. Guess I'll have to dig thru old tax returns in the attic tomorrow to see how I filled them out. Yuck.

Headache #3: For over a month now, my keyboard has had lots of problems, like, intermittently,  it won't type various characters, or it types a letter 6 times in rapid sucession when I only typed it once,or it won't type at all. I bought the computer just a year ago and extended my tech support subscription just to make sure this problem was fixed. I was on the phone with them no less than 6 times for excruciatingly lengthy calls. Finally, the last time we spoke, they agreed to send me a new keyboard/mouse, which I got today. So far, it seems like it solved the problem. Why did we have to drag it out this long before I got the replacement keyboard? Ugh.

Other accomplishments today: Along with the cat inhaler med, I also ordered, from a different company, a special mask that fits over the cat's head and lets you administer the drug easily. I hope he doesn't hate it too much. I did some laundry. Right now, a pot of homemade vegetable stock is simmering on the stove, and when it's done, I'll be using it to make some potato and garilc soup. It's the 3rd recipe I'll be trying from a big soup book I got via my Buy Nothing group. I hope the soup is not too bland; all it has in it is 2 HEADS of garlic, potatoes and stock. Maybe I'll add tomato to it. EArlier today, I made a 2nd batch of some really good pumpkin-barley pudding so as not to waste an opened can of pumpkin puree.

In other news, I was able to get my father to an area clinic to get his first vaccine. I went very smoothly. I didn't know what to expect, so I gassed up the tank, but it turned out to be indoors and no real wait at all.

Oh, that's wierd. I see most of my entries for 2019 are missing. WTF?