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Ten Things of Thankful: Never Too Late Edition

I missed writing a Ten Things of Thankful post last week, not due to lack of gratitude, but rather because I was spending time with my grandchildren and didn't pack my computer. This post will span the last two weeks, and I'm going to skip the numbering system this time. I promise there are at least 10 things! :-)

• I'm thankful that the snowy conditions only lasted for a small portion of the drive to California. The day before I left was a beautiful, sunny, warm day. The morning I headed out, however, was a different story. The flowers outside my front door wore a blanket of snow. The roads initially were clear, then started to accumulate snow. Fortunately, the storm was short-lived.

Photo: One lone red tulip amid a bed of yellow tulips pokes its head out from under a blanket of snow.

Photo: (Taken by my daughter from the passenger side of the car) Snow falls from a white sky to a snow-covered ground, as cars drive slowly on the freeway.
• I'm thankful that the brakes didn't start squeaking until we arrived safely in California. I'm thankful that a repair shop opened bright and early on Saturday morning (so the repair could be made in time to take the grandkids to Knott's Berry Farm as previously promised.) I'm also thankful that the rotors were still good (we forgot we had replaced them last time, and thought they were due for replacement), and the price quoted for the fix was very reasonable.

•I'm thankful for time spent with family. We played at Knott's Berry Farm on Saturday, attended church together on Sunday morning, and then spent the rest of the afternoon together visiting. 

(The video is of three of my grandchildren riding a kiddie ride where the kids are all seated next to each other in a row, and the ride takes them up in the air then drops them down partway, then back up again, then down, etc.)

During the church service, my oldest granddaughter drew a picture of John and me on our wedding day. Of course, our wedding day occurred decades before she was born, but I think she captured the moment very well!

Photo: A child-drawn ballpoint pen picture of a woman in a wedding dress (complete with train), tiara, and veil, and a man in a top hat. Each figure is smiling and raising a hand up in the air. The groom's legs appear bent, as if dancing or running.
•I'm thankful I was able to introduce my grandchildren to the music of Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies (formerly known as Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, when they were performing at Disneyland.) When their Disney contract expired, Knott's offered them a position. I definitely miss them at Disneyland, but think that Knott's is a great fit for their show.  We enjoyed the music and comedy--a perfect mix of the familiar and new. After the performance, we got a chance to talk with Kirk for a minute and snatch a photo. 

Photo: My daughter and I stand on either side of Kirk Wall, while my granddaughters stand in front of us and my grandsons sit in the double stroller. Behind us, Anders Swanson (bass player) speaks to another fan.
• I'm thankful I was able to go with youngest daughter to Disneyland on Monday. We spent some of the day with our friends (and serendipitously ran into another friend later in the day). The Happiest Place on Earth is only happier with friends!

Photo: Our good friends pose with youngest daughter and me in front of the Walt and Mickey statue at Disneyland
 • I'm thankful for the Waze app, which directed me out of the heavy, heavy Orange County traffic on Tuesday morning. There were 3 SigAlerts in Orange County, one of which was on my preferred freeway, and one which was on an alternate. Thanks to Waze, I was able to be re-routed to avoid the problem areas.

• I'm thankful for an otherwise uneventful drive home. Yes, it started spitting snow again once we were close to home, but it was hardly noticeable. (Today is a beautiful, sunny, warm day--it's hard to believe it wasn't long ago that snow was covering my tulips!)

• I'm thankful for an upcoming move. Youngest daughter is moving out this coming week, and we are all very happy for her. I need to figure out another title for myself, as the misnomer, "Stay-at-home mom" doesn't really fit anymore, but I am absolutely convinced I will have no problem filling my time. (Who knows? Maybe I will finally turn more attention to this blog and call myself a blogger!)

• I'm thankful that John and I continue to make preparations for our move. Little by little, we are packing, moving, and unpacking boxes. We met another neighbor yesterday, who was very friendly, welcoming, and informative. She told us about many of the animals we might expect to see in our yard. Apparently our house holds the dubious distinction of being the site of the largest rattlesnake sighting in the neighborhood (as in the largest snake was spotted in one of our window wells a few years ago, not that there was a large number of snakes.) I'm thankful for the heads-up, and thankful to have been raised by a dad who enjoyed herpetology. I'm not terrified of snakes, but I'm not exactly putting out the welcome mat in my window wells, either. 

• I'm thankful for surprises. I found a little folded-up piece of paper in my mailbox earlier this week. When I unfolded it, I found someone had drawn flowers with a bright blue marker. I suspect one of the children who lives next door. It was a sweet surprise. 

Photo: Three bright blue flowers, presumably drawn by a child with marker, on a little scrap of plain white paper
• I'm thankful that another piece of mail, though worrisome, made me laugh and the issue was quickly resolved. If I were a stand-up comedian, I would definitely develop this story into a routine. Someday I might write a funnier, fleshed-out version of the incident, but for now I'll just present the rough story:

I received an envelope from the California Tax Franchise Board--not something I was expecting, and of course, I started wondering why they would be communicating with me. We filed our taxes in plenty of time, and paid what we owed. When I read the enclosed letter, I could only laugh.

Photo: The letter from the tax board states:
"We recently made an adjustment to your 2017 tax return during processing, primarily to revise the estimate payment or withholding amounts you reported on it. Although a Notice of Tax Return Change (NTRC) should have been issued to inform you of this adjustment, we determined that the NTRC was either never generated, or it was generated with insufficient information which did not explain the adjustment correctly.
" We want to make sure you are aware of the adjustment we made to your 2017 tax return which may have resulted in one of the following: a decreased or increased refund, a decreased or increased balance due, a refund instead of a balance due, a balance due instead of a refund

"If you have any questions about your 2017 tax return, please contact us.
"We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."

It seemed to me that the tax board sent the letter to inform me that they failed to send a letter that should have informed me of changes made to my return. They presumably wanted me to be informed of the changes, but failed to tell me in this letter what the changes were. If I had questions, though, I could call them. (Sorry for the inconvenience!)

I did have questions. Their answer was basically that they hadn't received payment from the escrow company that handled the sale of a property we sold. A call was made to the escrow company, and we were told that the payment had been sent. At this point, I was mad, but not sure where to direct my anger. Fortunately, on the return call to the tax board, the agent was able to find the payment and apply it correctly to our account. I'm still not sure how the payment was lost in the system, but I'm relieved that it was quickly found. 

• I'm thankful for John. He held down the fort while I took a road-trip (again!) and was always just a phone call away when I needed to consult with him about car problems, etc. Now that I'm back home, we can tackle things together. Whether the challenge is the California Tax Franchise Board, the possibility of enormous rattlesnakes, or an empty nest, together John and I will face it! 

If you've made it through this lengthy post, kudos to you! What have you been thankful for these past couple of weeks? Are you enjoying spring weather yet, or is it still snowy where you are? Have you ever had a rattlesnake in your yard or window well?

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  1. No, Spring hasn't arrived yet & it's still snowing on and off. Yes, I've had a rattlesnake in my front yard and managed the courage to kill it.

    1. Last year it apparently snowed here on May 17. I'm hoping that spring is here for good this year, but I don't know if that is a realistic hope.

      I'm hoping if I have a rattler in my yard, it will just shoo away--though I'm not sure how easily one could escape from a window well.

  2. That "tulips in the snow" photo is iconic. I'm glad you had a blast with your grandchildren and got to enjoy a trip to Disneyland as well. That "kiddie" ride looks daunting to me - I don't like leaving my center of gravity above or below me. The wedding photo of you and John is adorable. I think he's on his knee presenting you with the ring. Kids' pictures have so much heart. Glad you are making progress on the move. That tax issue would have greatly upset me. And rattlesnakes - any snakes -- no thank you.

    1. I agree with you on the up and down rides--they are not my cup of tea. You might be right about the wedding photo!

  3. yow, I'm exhausted just reading about your week. (lol)

    Good to maintain your ...preferred state of mind while dealing with the Tax Board. The disconnect one senses in the people on the other end of the call can be a source of increased aggravation or a means to decrease it. Remembering that they are all too often a limited cog in a gigantic machine helps me not to get into a negative energy loop.

    Snakes, huh? Was talking to a neighbor today about the increased presence of fisher cats in our woods and the surrounding area. Vigilance seems to be the best, most reasonable response. Snakes are more adept at sneaking up on a person, though. Not too comforting a thought.
    You must be excited about the upcoming move to the new house.

    1. I agree with your advice to remember that often the person on the end of the line isn't actually responsible for the problem.

      As for snakes, I did encounter some when we lived in CA, though I never saw a rattler in my yard. I will hope that rattlesnake sightings are rare here, too.

  4. It seems the weather has been all over the place everywhere this year! Difficult to believe it's almost May and the temps are barely in the 60's here. But no complaints from me! You had snow! I must say, beautiful photo of the tulips. I hope all of your flowers survived the winter blast.
    It's great isn't it to be only a car drive away from family? A longer car drive than typical but doable :D The grandkids no doubt had a blast at Disneyland. How can you not! Was only there once when I was 8. Very memorable. I'll never forget It's a Small World and the Matterhorn!

    "We met another neighbor yesterday, who was very friendly, welcoming, and informative." Nice lead in. Oh my goodness. Rattlesnakes! I suppose it's good to have the heads up. Me? I'd be all paranoid lol. Not a fan of snakes.
    Crazy insane, isn't it, letters from tax agencies. Who writes that stuff!

    1. I am glad that I can make the drive in one day, though I sometimes will take it in two for a more relaxing trip.

      I've encountered rattlesnakes before while hiking in CA, but as long as I can maintain a reasonable distance from them, I'm not too scared. One time, I hiked right by a pair of mating Mojave green rattlesnakes before my son pointed out where they were. That was too close for comfort! When I reported my sighting to the ranger at the visitor's station, I was informed that I had witnessed a very rare sight. When I told my dad about my experience, he asked if I got photos! Taking a photo hadn't even crossed my mind; I was too busy going through all the "what-if" scenarios.

      I have no idea who wrote that letter, but it was absolutely ridiculous! (I was secretly hoping for that refund-instead-of-balance-due, but figured that was out of the question.)

  5. I know what you mean about making it in a day. The VA to FL trip was always a killer and seemed to get longer every year but we much preferred making it a day, albeit long day, trip. I imagine one day,that will change :)

    I'm with you - the farther away the better for sure. Wow. Definitely too close. That makes me laugh about your dad but you did say he was into herpetology. Pictures would be the last thing I'd think of too :D

    What do you think? Was the author of such inanity able to keep a straight face?? I wonder!

    1. Good question! I think of the line from the movie, Men in Black: " We at the FBI do not have a sense of humor we're aware of." Maybe the same could be said of letter-writers of the CA Franchise Tax Board.

  6. Beautiful photo of the tulips in the snow.
    Maybe John was kneeling asking you to be his bride. :-)
    So, no, no, no. No rattlesnakes in your window wells, please.
    What a great app to have during your trip.
    We received a couple of pieces of unexpected mail on Friday, and too late to follow-up. That's on my to do list for tomorrow. Nothing that can't be cleared up, but was just unexpected and required some searching through some papers.

    1. Hope your unexpected mail doesn't cause you too much hassle. My to-do list today includes buying a microwave--the door latch on the one here broke and I can't open the door. I'm just glad that I didn't have food inside at the time!

  7. Glad you got to enjoy your grandkids. The flowers look pretty with the snow.


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