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Red is the right color for February

Turning over the February calendar page shows red hearts, lacy flowers and tender poems.

But - at our house, at least - the only “real red” in my mind’s eye is an ominous, glowing, cherry-colored-circle looming around another date: April 15.

I can’t even pretend to enjoy this “love month” - although it includes not only Valentine’s Day itself, but also four family birthdays: mine and those of three grandchildren, plus Lawrence’s and my wedding anniversary.

Causing this blight on happiness is the official, income tax reminder stuff that began hitting our mailbox even before all the 2014 Christmas cards made it through the slot.

I started stuffing the merciless material into a 9-by-12-inch envelope and drew a skull and crossbones on its front.

But after viewing that constant, leering symbol for the whole month of January, I grumbled to Lawrence, “Well, the job’s not going away!” So now the messy contents are all dumped on my desk.

Topping the pile is Form 1040, its blanks demanding fill-in info. The only two answers I know right off are my Social Security number, which I have memorized, and marking an X in the “married’ box in another.

The remaining lines require proof of every transaction I’ve made - or should have made - in 2014.

Example? “Receipts for “Charitable donations.” Had I kept them? If so, where?

One has to have proof. The danger of cheating on such figures reminded me of my long-ago Sunday school teacher who quoted one of the 10 Commandments: Exodus 20:16: “Do not testify falsely.” He added what most people already know: “People cheat.” Then asked, “Do any of you know why?”

One member immediately answered, “Because of income tax forms.”

True. But back to business…

A couple of days ago, I was still scratching through folders and receipts and snips of paper, trying to make sense out of the bewildering mess when the day’s mail arrived.

In it, a now-rare, hand-addressed, stamped envelope.

“A reprieve!” I thought, and took a coffee break.

The letter was from a reader I’ve never met and, although few do, this writer took the time to add a bit about herself:

“This past December was such a busy time, I decided to get an early start on the holidays coming up at the end of the year.

"So, even before we put away our holiday decorations, I sewed six Christmas tree skirts - one for each daughter. That way, each will be already for the next season.”

She continued: “I’m a record-keeper. Every evening I jot my day’s activities on the calendar, then total them at the end of the month.”

“Good for her! I said to myself. But that thought turned into awe when the writer continued:

“During 2014, I used 125 pounds of flour to bake 64 pies and make cookies 112 times. I received 362 letters, but I wrote 782 myself which gives me a total of 8,248 I’ve written in the past 12 years since I started keeping track back in 2002.

“Oh, yes - almost forgot to tell you - I knitted 38 caps for the homeless, rode my exercise bike 1,142 miles. And I saved $1,495.44 in coupons and refunds.”

And to think that I, Isabel, have trouble filling in a little old 1040 form!

©Copyright 2015 by Isabel Torrey, a King City resident and long-time columnist.

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