2014 Tax Returns - First Cut

tax timeWe now have taken a first cut at our 2014 tax situation. We always like to get a head start on these, but this time, since we sold the house in California, there will likely be some significant differences that we would like to know about. Our first clue that there would be complications, was when we received IRS form 1099-S (sale of residence) which was included in the escrow paperwork.

The most tedious part of preparing the return is charitable donations. 501(c)(3) cash write offs are straightforward, but listing the hundreds of non-cash items we donated (furniture, appliances, clothing) from clearing out the old house and our normal re-usable discards was daunting this time. TurboTax has a utility that assists in valuation of items, but it is somewhat limited in the types of donated items it can evaluate. However, we managed to get most of the items entered into the tax program file.

We have our sneak peek at the 2014 tax situation and it appears that our goal of adjusting the withholding so we would owe a small amount to both state and federal is pretty close. When the year end paperwork (and not just estimates) starts to show up next month, we will have a better idea of whether or not we met our target.

Toyz Car Show

On December 7th, 2014, Cops Who Care and others held a classic car rally at the Wickenburg Community Center. The Better Half and I took these pictures (and more) but I haven’t posted them until now. The image above is a slideshow - click to advance.

The event attracted over three hundred classic, exotic and miscellaneous entrants. The cost to enter your car? One unwrapped toy to eventually be wrapped and distributed to needy kids in this part of Arizona. Other than the toy for each classic, there was not an admission charge for the show.

We didn’t have unwrapped toys to donate, but we did make a monetary contribution to Cops Who Care a couple of weeks ago. The 20 images in the slideshow represented a small percentage of the eclectic cars on display. We had great weather on a seventy something degree day and enjoyed the classics a lot.

Trimming the Palo Verde Tree

Paloverde Trim

I spent a couple of hours today trimming dead wood and suckers off of the palo verde tree out front by the road. The tree has been neglected for almost three and a half years and was in pretty gnarly shape. I filled our trash bin completely up with cuttings and our neighbor brought his trash bin over for us to use this week. I filled that one as well with help from The Better Half.

When we were done trimming the tree, it was time to trim the tree, i.e. in the Christmas sense. TBH has some red ornaments that she hangs on the green tree for the Christmas season. Red ornaments, green tree, red house, green cacti all make for a festive desert Christmas. Clickable image.

Negligent Discharge

Negligent Discharge

This is a post that has remained private on our old ReynosaWatch Neighborhood Watch weblog for over five years. I recently decommissioned the old site since we no longer own the old place and all the Neighborhood WatchDogs have either moved, or passed, away. I’m putting the details about my one and only negligent discharge here for posterity, just in case someone else can learn from my past mistake.

On certain nights when I am prone to snoring, I sleep on the loft in a makeshift bed of blankets, sheets and a pad directly on the floor. As is my custom, I sleep with a gun under my pillow.

During the night, I accidentally discharged my Smith & Wesson model 686. I believe that I unintentionally squeezed the trigger in my sleep while dreaming. The gun is a .357 magnum revolver loaded with Speer 158 grain JHP cartridges. The composite photo above shows the resulting damage to the carpet where the gun was laying on its side when the discharge took place.

Marks visible in the photos are (looking in the direction of the gunshot):

  • side discharge between cylinder and rear of barrel
  • muzzle blast
  • bullet entry point in carpet
  • gas trail in discharge direction

Interestingly, there was no damage beyond the carpet. I could not find the slug and there was no apparent impact point on the wall beyond.

To mitigate future possible discharge, I acquired a holster in which to keep the revolver’s trigger covered while I sleep. Henceforth, I would have to consciously unsnap the keeper and withdraw the revolver to use it. We visited the gun shop the day after the incident and purchased a holster.

Bottom line, cover the trigger and trigger guard at all times on your pillow gun.

After the flood in the old house, the restoration crew removed all of the carpet in the area where I had been sleeping on the night of the discharge. I inspected the exposed wooden floor during a recent visit to do some cleanup. Remarkably, I could find no evidence of the gunshot. The plywood flooring appeared to be completely undamaged. I guess it’s possible that the carpet and liner absorbed the impact given the shallow angle of the shot. With the carpet gone to some landfill somewhere, we will never know.

Finished Product - Limoncello


The Better Half finished her first batch of Limoncello this week. She carefully bottled some of the famous digestive liqueur in bottles to be used as gifts to family and others. Since we have a limited number of bottles available, most of the product went into Mason jars.

For the gift bottles, we ordered some custom labels from one of the on-line printing concessions; the labels simply indicate what the product is and where it came from.

There are many, many lemons still left in the orchard. Some of those will go into the next production of limoncello and the rest will be donated to one of the senior centers here in town. After that, the orchard gets covered for the inevitable sub-freezing nights to come when winter weather finally sets into Wickenburg.

Badly Needed Target Practice

The Better Half and I took advantage of some time away from the two dogs, Scratch ‘n’ Sniff, who were at the vet for the day getting their teeth cleaned. We loaded up our target stand, some targets, some guns, some ammo and headed to the Wickenburg Sportsmen’s Club.

Combined, we shot 50 rounds of .38 special wadcutters through our two S&W 686+ revolvers, shot 33 rounds of nine millimeter through the Glock 26 with the extended (33 round) magazine installed and twenty rounds of .45 ACP through the Glock 30. Although we need more practice, we both started to show improvement even after those few rounds.

Click on the image above to alternate between photos of us at the range.

What’s For Thanksgiving Dinner?

Thanksgiving Dinner

Roasted Breast of Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Stuffing, Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry Jelly and Collard Greens. That’s what.

The Better Half prepared most of today’s feast from scratch. The stuffing was of particular interest, since she made the croutons beforehand with a loaf of focassia bread, she incorporated andouille sausage, cranberries, spinach, celery, onions, sage and the usual array of stuff you get in the packaged variety except this was all fresh.

We had to postpone dessert (pumpkin cheesecake) since we were too full after this sumptuous meal. Yes, I ate everything shown in the clickable image and more.

TBH and I are thankful for this day, thankful for friends and family, thankful for having overcome adversity over the past two years and are thankful for the blessings that the Lord will surely bring to us in our desert home in the future.

Spam Funnies - More Gibberish

NoSpamSpammers are sometimes so funny and weird at the same time. We haven’t posted one of these for over a year, but rest assured, spam attacks keep coming and are relentless in their nonsensical gibberish and insanity. They are absolutely an entertainment medium unto themselves.

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I am truly thankful for our spam filter which dispels over 99.9 percent of the cyber garbage, yet manages to allow us to yuck it up at some of the attempts they make to sound rational (FAIL!). Witness this gem of nonsensical gibberish recovered from the spam filter:

I’ll right away clutch your RSS feed as I can’t in finding your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me realize so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

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