Wild and Wacky Ramblin’s

Well, here I am again, ready to share some wit and possibly wisdom with you. Who am I kidding? It will probably be mostly humor as my wisdom left me a long time ago.

In wracking my brain as to what wonderful funny stuff I wanted to share with y’all this week, I got to thinking about the wild and wacky wallpaper (well, in reality it was what they call scene setter covering), that covered my office wall in the last house we lived in. As a matter of information, once the user (me in this case) is over his or her desire to see something other than white walls, blue walls, or whatever adorned the walls of the place you are living at, you just tear this stuff off the wall (held up by thumbtacks) and “Walla” – life is back to normal again – by the way – remind me again what normal is? But I digress!

Let me explain. The last house we owned, we decided early on to “theme” the rooms and my office became a scene out of an old western cowboy movie complete with six-guns on the wall, wallpaper (scene setter covering) that looked like shelves holding bottles of booze with some really wild and crazy names, and even a saloon door complete with bullet holes appearing in it. I would go into my office to write and would lose myself in the labels of the many booze bottles adorning the shelves.

It is amazing how one’s mind wanders over such silly things. One of the things that crossed my mind while sitting there looking at the weird bottle labels – and I mean they were some crazy names, was – “Hmmm – how drunk would one have to be to drink the contents of any of these bottles had their label titles been “for real?”

Do I have your interest peaked now as to just what were the names of these concoctions? Read on. You be the judge. There was Old Fashioned Rot Gut and for all those red-blooded American Indians out there that helped make western movies seem so real – “Fire Water!”

And there was one bottled labeled “Curly Wolf!” Anyone care to venture a guess as to what liquid concoction lie in that bottle? There was also one that was not for the faint-hearted – yup- you guessed it – good old “Gunpowder Cocktail!” Lest we not forget the fairer sex, there was also “Shotgun Nancy’s Whiskey.” sounds to me like it was a drink Annie Oakley might have been fond of.

By now, I am sure I know what many of you are thinking – based on some of Irwin’s earlier rants and raves – you know the times I am talking about – during the time that I had to stare at this scene setter type wall covering – he probably finished off one or two of them thar bottles just prior to sitting down to write. But hey, ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies! Some might just say that I did go off the deep end for a short time while this wallpaper (easier to say than scene setter whatchamacallit) was adorning my walls. How so? Read on and join me as I ventured into a little story of my own pertaining to the wild and crazy ideas such scene setter wallpaper instilled into this little brain of mine.

While staying with the western pace the wallpaper put me in, I got to thinking – Gee, what type of post can I write using some of the writings that also adorned my office walls? Banking came to mind because of a sign hanging in my office. So I pretended to be back in the old west and thought – why should I choose one of those “high-falootin” banks? Banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and the like. No, not for this old cowpoke. Instead, this old cowpoke decided to bank at the bank Wyatt Earp and his brothers probably used – none other than the good old “Boot Hill Bank.” While we are on the subject of banking – I am sure most of you will recall, bankers in those days were not the type to give our loans easily. As a matter-of-fact, most bankers were known as flannel-mouthed bankers meaning one who is overly smooth or a fancy talker.

Well, when I walked into that bank, all I wanted to do was withdraw some funds to pick up s more whiskey and grub/vittles. Didn’t have time to dicker with the banker because I knew I’d have to dicker with the gent at Trader Jake’s General Store for them thar grub/vittles and whiskey I’d need to make it thru until my next pay day.

Speaking of paydays – one such varmit I had hoped to steer clear of was my landlord. Not only did I need vittles and whiskey – it was time to pay my rent and that landlord was a mean old rip (reprobate). I had hoped to avoid paying my rent for another week even though I knew by doing so – all I was doing was beating the devil around the stump (evading responsibility or a difficult task).

Besides that thar fella (landlord) is so mean – were I not to pay my rent on time, he’d be affixin to shoot me with that double-barreled shotgun of his and next time I’d be writing posts would be – what am I saying – I wouldn’t be writing anything – I’d be six feet under in the Boot Hill Cemetery. And jest between me and you – I ain’t affixin’ to go jest yet!

Well folks, that’s the “whole kit and caboodle” of what happens to wannabe writers when they sit and look at such crazy wallpaper or whatever it was called for too long. Before you know it, you are in a world all by yourself. But, being truthful, it is a lot of fun, and believe me, we all need to have fun today. As I said many times before, I never know what I will come up with when I finally set myself down here at this computer. Hope you enjoyed my little foray into the olden days of the wild and wooly west. Who knows, I may have created a monster cuz now I have to dream up what I will rant and rave about or should I say ponder about next time. Guess I will have to sit here awhile and look around the room and see what turns me on – other than my wife of 57 plus years that is.

Until next week, stay safe and stay well!

Mission Impossible

Forms, forms, and more forms!

Here we are folks, three weeks and three days into the new year and if you are anything like me, you may be getting ready to spaz out because it will be soon time to work on our dreaded “Income Tax returns.”

Makes me want to be or act like one of those inflatable stick men with their spastic arms just flapping in the breeze. Why, you ask. Think about it, at the end of the day, they get to be put away allowing them to rest and not think of what lies ahead. The following day, they are taken out of the box, inflated and once again begin flapping their spastic arms in the wind knowing that come the end of the day, they will get to rest. We humans on the other hand do not have such luxury. Least ways when it comes to filing our income tax returns. Nope, we start preparing our income tax returns the moment the first piece of mail arrives with the notice: “IMPORTANT TAX RETURN DOCUMENT ENCLOSED”.

Depending on how well a person has kept their paperwork records over the course of the previous year usually is a good indication of how long the process will be. For some it only takes a few days – once that is that all the documents have been received. For others, this process could take days, weeks, or even months before we are done. Can you see those inanimate objects (inflatable stick men) filling out the tax forms each year?

I must admit though, filling out our tax forms does appear to be getting easier every year, especially if one uses some of the free services available today for assisting us gather and prepare our tax return.   I can remember the times that I would spend weeks gathering all our data followed by the nerve-wracking hours spent trying to decipher the forms we are required to complete to send to Uncle Sam.

Although I should not complain because at least now, being a resident of Florida, there is no State Income Tax. I used to live in New Jersey and work in PA. Talk about a confusing tax process. Both states had a state income tax. If you were a New Jersey resident but worked in PA, your employer withheld Pennsylvania income tax from your wages, and you had to file a Pennsylvania return to get a refund.  And vice-versa if you lived in PA but worked in New Jersey.

So, how do we avoid pulling our hair out by its roots, while crying in our beer and saying those famous words “woe is me, woe is me?” And, by the way, I am referring to those of us that still have some hair worth pulling. Well, there is one way to do it and that is by making completion of the form or forms silly. What do I mean, you ask? Keep reading.

Okay, I am sure many of you reading this blog are familiar with the simple 1040 form. You know – the one most of us have to complete when working on our taxes. And by the way, as you will soon find out – what follows is in jest. Do not take it seriously. Remember what I said when I indicated I was returning to writing and my agenda of writing once a week. My posts are designed to elicit a laugh or two and take one’s mind off whatever may be troubling you at the moment. Hopefully this week’s blog will do just that.

What follows are just a few things you can do to procrastinate or make light of the entire process. One thing that comes to mind is: While having dinner one evening, get out your income tax paperwork and peruse it while eating that huge bowl of stew.   What happens next is for you to accidentally spill some of the stew broth on it – specifically on a few of the lines you prefer not to respond to. Problem solved! How you ask? Well, either you don’t have to complete the form or you can only fill in those questions that haven’t been smeared with stew broth. In doing so, make sure the incomplete data causes you to get a refund rather than reflecting that you owe Uncle Sam a small fortune.

Here is yet another thought. If there are specific forms that must be completed prior to completing your IRS tax forms – don’t fill them out. Remember, I said prior. Seeing that you were supposed to complete specific forms prior to completing your actual IRS paperwork, by not filling those forms out – it stands to reason that you do not have to fill out the actual IRS forms, either.

Oh, and here is a favorite of mine. I am specifically thinking about the section that asks: Are you a “Resident alien?”  Are you ready for my philosophy regarding this section? Here goes: Fill the space in by claiming to be a Jupiterian or a Plutonian – oops that won’t work because Pluto is not classified a planet anymore. Oh well, being a Jupiterian should get you an exception. What am I thinking? This is the Internal Revenue Service we are dealing with. What exceptions? There are no exceptions allowed when filing our taxes. But more on that later!

But wait – it gets better! There is also a section that covers Nonresident aliens and dual-status aliens. If memory serves me correctly, a married couple cannot file a joint return if either spouse is a nonresident alien at any time during the year. But, you know me, there always has to be a “but!” But the  guidelines say that if you were a nonresident alien or a dual-status alien and were married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien at the end of 2020, you can elect to be treated as a resident alien and file a joint return. I guess it all boils down on how much you care about your Jupiterian or human partner.

As we all know, when you fill out the form you are required to list yourself and your spouse, unless of course you are filing separately. Let’s go on the assumption that you are filing jointly (otherwise I would have to rewrite this section of the blog post and looking at what I have put together so far, I don’t think I have the strength to write it differently at this point). So, it becomes interesting when you get to the section asking you to list your dependents.  Seeing that we all hope to get some money back – look no further than the section regarding Dependents. For all those males out there working on your 2020 taxes, guess you are going to have to fess up to all those children running around the world looking like you. Didn’t know you had so many dependents, now did you?

Being the responsible parent you are, having a large family brings with it specific responsibilities. What type father or mother would we be to our children if we didn’t want them to get a good education. Go for it – insert that humongous amount that represents “Student Loan interest deduction.” I can hear the sound of the cash register now – “Ka Ching!”

Seeing that we (my wife and I) are no longer young whippersnappers anymore, let’s dive into credit for the elderly next. I am by-passing disabled because fortunately neither of us are disabled. How old are most of us now?  Well, if you must know, both my wife and I are now octogenarians. As you know, octogenarians mean we are now in our eighth decade of life. Sounds to me like we should be getting credit due to being elderly.  

Now comes the moment of truth – remember when I said you should speak up about all those children you sired when you were sowing your wild oats – well now is the time to reap the benefits that come along with having so many children. Be sure to fill that box that allows you “child tax credit.”

And for you drivers out there – think about the few times we are out on the road driving our cars. True there are hazards out there we must be aware of – pouring rain, snowstorms, dust storms, and the like – but then there are also the crazies – you know who I am talking about. Those individuals that give us the finger and honk their horns when we may be driving a bit too slow. The individuals that blame you because they left their house too late and feel it is your fault because they might have to pass up stopping for their Coffee Mocha Macchiato. Believe it or not, there is a way to get credit for that too. Even though most of our time on the road is to go to the doctor, dentist, optometrist, and to get some groceries, seeing how much crap we put up with when attending to these necessities – we should be able to claim what is listed as the “Nontaxable combat pay election.” What other than combat pay would you call it?

Well, time to bring this to a close. I think I have provided everyone with enough information that should prove interesting when you begin preparing your taxes this year. but before I end this little post, due to the content of same, allow me to take a line or two from the old Mission Impossible television show and end this blog post by saying:

“As always, should anyone reading and acting upon the material contained in this weekly blog, the writer will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Furthermore, this blog post will self-destruct within five/ten seconds after you file your income tax returns.”

Until next time!

“Insanity”

It’s me!

During these long and sometimes weary days of isolation, one might get the impression they are about to go insane. But here is a thought – who has ever heard of the voice of insanity raising its ugly head and shouting out loud – “Let me out of here!” Keep that thought – I’ll come back to it later.

What does one do during these long periods of self-isolation? Well, one can do various things to occupy one’s mind, some of which may or may not include physical labor. Having moved quite recently, we – in our self-isolation – have become rather chummy with cardboard boxes. Boxes of all sizes. And the contents of same add to our enjoyment. Read on to see what I mean.

The fun part is opening the box to see what weird combination of “stuff” the packers put into these boxes. Now one might think that being considered a “professional packer” these intelligent individuals would realize that if packing frying pans or saucepans, upon arrival at the new destination, the individuals emptying the boxes would expect to have the lids to these pans. You know where I am going with this already – don’t you? Yup, we are in our new digs a month now and there are still some pans (frying or sauce) that are waiting patiently to be matched up with the lids. Just one of the many wonderous things that keep us entertained during this period of self-isolation. While we have emptied many of the boxes deposited in our house, my educated guess is that the lids may be hid deep down inside one of the many boxes that made their way to our storage locker.

And then there is the realization that several of the rooms that seemed so bright and cheerful when we first looked at the home, do not have sufficient lighting. Some may say that as we age, our hearing goes first, but that is not true for all octogenarians. For some of us, our eyes tend to go first.

Oh, we can still see quite well, it is just that we prefer going into a room without having to carry a torch (you know, one of the most early and most primitive ways of illumination). For those of you not familiar with your history, a torch is a rod-like piece of wood with the rag wrapped around one end, which is dipped in a flammable substance that you set fire to before entering the darkness.  Okay, so I exaggerate, the rooms aren’t that dark but don’t people know that there are 75 and 100 watt bulbs or even 60 Watt LED lights.  

What else can I ramble on about here – oh, I know, the numerous “Honey-dos” that tend to crop up after moving into new digs. Now I personally do not have anything bad to say about “Honey-Dos”. But let’s face it, you know us guys – if we see a rack of some sort holding utensils, we think cool – one less job I have to concern myself with. But our wives see it differently. You know where I am going with this, don’t you guys?  She looks at it and immediately says – but it (the rack) is on the wrong side of the room or it should be under that cabinet over there as it would be more accessible.

So, being the faithful companion I am, (no – I am not talking about The Lone Ranger and Tonto here), I set out to find my trusty electric drill, screwdriver, and after going through three small jars of thumbtacks, pushpins, screws, hooks, twisters, etc. find just the right size screws needed and set about to change positions of the infamous rack.  Easy peasy – right?

 Noooo! Here comes the fun part. Why is it that at our age, the task we set out to do, not only takes us three or four times the amount of time a younger fella might take to do – but it also requires us to become a contortionist in order to position ourselves just right so that we can  screw in two screws. And why is it that usually the spot we are placing this rack requires a left-handed person versus a right-handed person. This, so-called simple job, by the way causes us to position ourselves in such a weird position that once the rack is attached and we free ourselves from the entanglement we placed ourselves in, we will require months of chiropractic therapy. Assuming that is, that our knees will allow us to stand up once the rack has been hung because this rack had to be fastened under the sink.  Oh, if only I were a drinking man, what I wouldn’t do for a shot of Jack Daniels. Question is – do I get it before attempting to stand up, or while still bent up like a pretzel.

Okay, I’ve rambled on quite a bit with respect this post. Let me end by saying this: Remember earlier I made mention regarding the voice of insanity raising its ugly head and shouting out loud – “Let me out of here!” Well, during these times of self-isolation, and what I see as a long road to the time we will be able to associate with others, thus creating more wonderful “honey-do” type jobs, I would like to think that instead of that voice saying “Let me out of here!”, in its own way, that quiet voice of insanity, (the one that rests in the back of our minds waiting for the end of our slow boring day) after seeing what I just went through to hang a simple utensil rack, may just be dying to whisper softly to me: “There may be room in here for one more loony tune! Care to join me?”

Until next time – stay safe!

Questions about Pennsylvania!

Let’s see, what shall I share with my fellow Word Press bloggers now that I have decided to get back to writing and let the pandemic and other worldly issues stay in the background. Other than keeping with staying safe by practicing social distancing, wearing our mask and only going out in public if it is truly necessary – what else can we do.

Seeing that we have a lot of stuff that should be gone through and gotten rid of, cannot think of a better time to do it. So, purge away we go.

But you didn’t stop by to hear what I am going to do with my days so being from Pennsylvania allow me to share with you questions that many people around the country (outside of Pennsylvania) have asked Pennsylvanians.

What questions am I referring to? Well, the first one that comes to mind is: Just what is Shoofly pie and why such a weird name? Both my wife and I enjoy Shoofly pie and as a matter of fact, one of my sisters worked for a well-known Shoofly bakery in Reading, PA called Wixon’s Bakery.  Unfortunately they are no longer in business as they closed a few years ago after being in business 100+ years.  The pie is made with molasses and as such attracted flies when it was cooked in outdoor ovens. Another story was that when the bakers of this concoction placed the pies on the windowsills to cool, flies wanted to land on them to get a taste and the bakers would shout: “Shoo flies! You get the picture. In any case, the pies are delicious and if ever in PA, especially in the Berks County area, seek out this tasty dessert. You will wish they made it wherever you live.

And then if you like Diner eating, when travelling through PA, stop by a diner for breakfast. You will see scrapple listed on the menu. Here is my suggestion, order it, eat it and if you like it, let it be. If you don’t like it, you may want to ask what it is made of. Chances are, when told, you will tell yourself, “Now I know why I don’t like it. Scrapple’s ingredients include the organs of pigs, including the heart, head, and liver. Personally, I like it but would I have a steady diet of it – NOPE – once or twice a year while in PA visiting satisfies my taste buds until the following year.

Okay, one more interesting fact about Pennsylvania. Many people over the years (while we were living in PA) used to ask the question – “Don’t you ever just want to leave PA for good?” Let’s see, how shall I answer this question – the misconception is that many Pennsylvanians are just stuck living in PA. Not true. They are not – they live there because they want to live there. Some, like me, leave for a while or for good BUT we always return.  No, we don’t go back for good. We go back to visit and to enjoy being back home. I know this is true about some people just wanting to live there and never leave because I am but one of eight children and am the only black sheep, so to speak, of the family. I left PA in 1969 and have now been in FL longer than I ever was a resident of PA. But all my siblings are still in PA and I doubt seriously that any of them will be leaving PA anytime soon.

Hope you enjoyed this little piece of PA history. Something different to rant on about. Now what will I come up with next week.

Until then though, stay safe.

One Bite at a Time!

For the past several years, my morning routine has been to wake early, do about 15 minutes of stretching exercises, go to the computer and prepare either what I like to refer to as a “Facebook Quip” which is merely my way of saying something bright and funny so that those who followed my crazy mixed up ways might get a smile or chuckle out of reading it and assist them in preparing for their day.

But for the past several months, such has not been my routine. Why? Because I allowed all the negativity that occurred during 2020 to bring me down. What do I mean?

Enter 2020, namely February and/or March and “Whammo” along comes the dreaded Covid – 19 Virus and subsequent pandemic. Add to this, it was an election year and I am not going to go into all that happened and is still happening surrounding that, but suffice it to say, it has been an election campaign that many of us have never seen before and I do not mind saying, I hope never see again.

Now, I am not one to receive the local newspaper, but unfortunately wanting to keep up with all that was happening, I decided to stay current by accessing Social Media. Wrong thing to do! I am sure that most of you will agree that no matter what network one turns on today, you cannot turn on the news without being blasted with negativity. And if any of you are like me, even after you have had your fill of the, and I will try to be polite here – “CRAP” – seen, there is usually one story or another that tends to linger on even after you either turn the set off or go to another show.

So, what to do, what to do? I have never been a “take charge” type of guy thinking I could change all this. Nor have I ever wanted to be part of the solution. I am a mere mortal, living in this wonderful country of ours just trying my best to make it through another day like most of the rest of the world does – day in and day out. One of my favorite sayings has always been “One day at a Time, One day at a Time!”

For many years now, I have ended many an email and other writings I have written with the following quote:

“Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” —Yoda

For years I have been a fan of reading, writing, and making comments about various quotes I have come across and one of the ones that has always stuck with me is the one Desmond Tutu once said: “There is only one way to eat an elephant, a bite at a time.” In times like these, when everything in life seems daunting, overwhelming, and even impossible, stop for a moment and think. It has been said that even the impossible can be accomplished gradually by taking on just a little at a time.

Another thing I have learned due to all that has happened over these past 9 + months is that we should all stop a moment and count our blessings if we are still able to get up every morning, take nourishment, and go about our day. Why, because looking at life that way will make us realize more that every day should be looked upon as a gift. We are still here. It is like when we first wake and see the sun shining. Yay, a brand-new day!

And when you run into an old friend unexpectedly while out getting your groceries (social distancing of course), think of that too as a gift. They too, woke up this morning and hopefully are experiencing a similar experience.

Is it all going to be sunshine and flowers? NO, it is not! Believe me when I say, we (my wife and I) as well as many others in this world today have endured sorrows throughout these past few months. Such events wrench one’s heart every day but instead of bringing us down, should give us more of a bittersweet appreciation of life.

Both of us are now in our eighth decade of life and even with all that is happening around us, do our best to keep each other upbeat, happy and we face each day with a smile and a “Get Up and Go Attitude” because, well, as has always been said – It beats the alternative!

Didn’t mean for this to drag on like it did, but just wanted to say that even with all that is going on around us and within our own family, I am back and am looking forward to posting weekly here at Lakeland Musings.  Stay safe and

Happy New Year everyone!