LOL, Broke

Posted by bernicky - October 27th, 2017

It was April since I was actually broke. I’m not flat broke, as in nothing in the bank, but damned close. There just never seems to be enough cash to go around. Sole support for three adults will do that I suppose. I had been thinking how it might be nice to have a few weekends off. LOL.

On the upside the van has its new winter tires, they’ve been installed, and I hired a snow clearing service for the winter because I am tired of shoveling snow. The few times my kids have helped shovel snow over the years vastly outnumber the times they’ve done anything else to help around the house, but it’s not help on which I can rely. So this winter a full part time job pay went towards snow clearing. C’est la vie.

Another upside, I don’t drink. This is an upside because months ago I planned for a night out with a friend from work. The last time I went out to do anything was in December of 2015 when I saw the then new Star Wars movie – I can’t remember the title, but Han Solo died. It’s is nice to actually get out of the house to be entertained by someone else – it’s great that I paid for the concert months ago. We’re bringing sandwiches to eat at Quartier des Spectacles and watch the zombie walk then we’re going to mosey on down to the venue and see the show. All I have to worry about is parking expense.

In a weird way there’s also an upside for waking up Sunday morning – you can’t do groceries if you don’t have any money so I don’t have to do groceries on Sunday. Fortunately there are cans of stuff in the cupboards and some frozen meat in the freezer. LOL.

Things will right themselves, they usually do. Either that or they won’t and then I’ll have a story to tell. Either way they will work out into something. I worry enough to plan the best I can, but planning the best you can’t doesn’t always cover all the worries. Good thing Xmas is coming!


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Parsimony and prospects

Posted by bernicky - October 17th, 2017

Enforced parsimony is exhausting in so many ways. Concern about money drives action and inaction equally. This weekend I scheduled a Sunday off because I thought with a pay coming in on the Thursday that there’d be a little something I could use to actually enjoy a day off. Yes a day off can be enjoyed without spending money, but let’s face it spending money makes it more fun. Extravagances like driving somewhere and maybe having lunch in a diner somewhere while spending the day sketching. That doesn’t look like it will be happening. The funny thing about bills, they’re like season, they just keep coming. Nothing much you can do about that. Currently I’m trying to sort out how winter tires are going to be paid for. It has to be soon, but I think I might have to push it to the end of the month in order to swing it. There are times when a credit card is a good thing.

On the artistic front the Stewart Hall show rolled around again. This year submissions were limited to two and there is only the possibility of one piece being chosen. With that in mind I chose what I thought would be two good representatives of my work post-Depanneur series.

Under Highway 20 with Starchild Stela

Blueberries poem

I’ll know by the end of the week whether the jury thinks either piece is worth inclusion this year. I’ve been thinking of doing more of the poems on watercolour as a project, just trying to figure out the best way to approach it.

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A day ending in Y

Posted by bernicky - October 5th, 2017

A friend and I were talking recently and he asked when my next day off was. I confessed that it would be October 9th, Thanksgiving, but in reality not really much of a day off since the family comes over and as I am the only driver I have to pick up and later drop off everyone. That of course in addition to the regular prep everyone is familiar with when having guests over for a meal. As a special bonus this year our daughter will be returning from a short jaunt to visit friends and I will have to gather her at the airport sometime between when her plane lands and when lunch is served. I joked: if the day ends in a Y I’m working, thirteen days off in the last fifteen months.

My friend said something I’d heard before but never had a response for: I don’t know how you do it.

This time I had a response – it just sprang to mind: you wouldn’t ask someone in the middle of the ocean how it is they can keep on swimming.

It’s that simple. If I stop an already niggardly life would be sliced even thinner. Reductio ad absurdum in an economic sense. I’m still trying to recover from April’s day from hell. Our son still isn’t working. Our daughter is working and demands nothing which is a relief on many front but does still use the credit card for regular school related expenses like a bus pass at $85 a month. The van, which just came out of the shop leaving me $500.00 poorer than when it went in needs new winter tires this month so….if the day ends in Y I’ll be working.

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A little bit closer

Posted by bernicky - July 4th, 2017

Digging out is much harder than digging in.

Between the day from hell in April, and the expenses that have come along on our son’s health front, the fact that we’re still in the black is a testament to years of practice juggling the financially improbable. The only reason we aren’t in the red is because instead of paying the mobile phone bill as soon as it came in I’m holding off until Thursday – which will still be two weeks before it’s due but I prefer to pay as they come in.

A bit of luck at the end of June came in the form of the option to cash in seven days in lieu of taking them as vacation time. A nice bit of opportune timing and just enough to start to build back a buffer. How much of a buffer and for how long it can be built remains to be seen. Our son is planning on returning to school in the fall so there will be new expenses on that front. To be frank supporting three adults on the salaries I’m bringing in is getting a little straining after the hours cut back on the second job. I’ll find a way, I always do, but it would be nice if there was a little more breathing room. Thinking about money all the time can be exhausting.

On a more positive note the vernissage it on Thursday. Tomorrow morning I’m taking a vacation day from work and spending it at the MainLine Gallery hanging the exhibition. Then Thursday night after work it’s time to head downtown and stand around for three hours hoping to sell more art. Another piece sold ahead of the exhibition this past weekend which was nice. A third of the pieces in the Depanneur series readied for the show have been sold which means almost all my costs for the show have been covered – I might be a little in the red still but not by much. One more sale and it’s all black.


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A bad month well seen out

Posted by bernicky - April 28th, 2017

The month is almost over, just two days left. It has been a horrid month on the weather and financial front. The weather will recover, it always does. The finances…well give it a few months of niggardly spending and it may recover as well. I won’t be sad to see this month gone.

There is however a silver lining – The Soap Box, a Toronto based poetry and prose magazine has accepted three of my poems for publication in their second anthology. Yay me! The news came hard on the heels of The Antigonish Review rejecting four poems I had sent them. So there’s that.

Another silver lining – a fellow artist, Jayne Keefe, has offered to collaborate on some paintings where I paint the backgrounds and details of the buildings then turn the paintings over to her to decorate the walls with graffiti. This way I never have to worry about stepping on a graffiti artist’s toes and we create our own Montreal.

The fifth depanneur for the Celebration Canada 150 / Montreal 375 exhibit is ready – see below.

9th and Centrale, Lasalle, The Bronx

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It’s that close

Posted by bernicky - April 21st, 2017

When you’re poor it doesn’t take much to throw your financial world into a complete tailspin. The upside: the mortgage is covered. The downside: my next pay, all of it, goes to the heating oil company. Cushion left in bank: laughable.

I’m lucky though. If I hadn’t found a second job in July and been squirreling money away for a rainy day then when the storm hit it would have been so much worse. Starting back from zero is a lot better than starting back from less than zero. I’ll take that any day.

Still painting

Stay Soft

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The day from financial hell.

Posted by bernicky - April 19th, 2017

It happens from time to time. When it does it hits the stress levels far beyond what is normal into a whole other realm. Fortunately I can laugh in the face of financial ruin, most people cannot.

The oil tank hit 1/8 of a tank so I had to place an order for heating oil. Figure six hundred litres at seventy-five cents a litre for four-hundred-fifty plus tax bringing it to about five twenty. Okay. What can you do? Heating oil has to be bought. Cue the electricity bill coming in about an hour later at a bouncing five-hundred-twenty. Ouch. Yesterday was also a day off work for which I scheduled the dentist for our daughter and myself and rang up a whopping six-hundred-ninety dollar bill. It’s not over yet though. After months of not being able to read I finally caved in and saw an optometrist for a paltry, by comparison, eighty-dollars. She wouldn’t give me a prescription right away because she is worried about my right eye and wants to dilate the pupils so she can see the back of it in two weeks. (apparently seeing random flashes of light is not a good thing). When I got home from work there was a voice message from Videotron saying that the bill is past due. Our son, who is responsible for the bill, hasn’t paid it in several months (one of the problems with automatic billing to a credit card is that if there isn’t enough room it doesn’t get processed but no notice is sent to the client either). Another five-hundred out of pocket. Not finished yet – another two-hundred-thirty-eight dollars for prescription medications for our son who is also currently out of work so not covered by insurance. Ouch.

Two-thousand-five-hundred-forty-eight dollars in one day. Six weeks salary – poof. I’ll get about three hundred back from insurance for the dental. So call it two thousand two even. Good thing I didn’t spend the twenty-dollars I had planned to buy some acrylic gouache 🙂

I have to laugh even though it is going to take a few months to catch up and I’m going to have to cash in any vacation time instead of taking vacation – let’s face it I’m working during vacation anyway so there’s that. If nothing else I would like to be known for not having trouble with the curve. On the upside – the mortgage goes through on Friday 😀 😀 😀

My latest for those who follow that sort of thing.

Dorval Overpass Grafitti Piece

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New year new bills

Posted by bernicky - January 9th, 2017

Well the New Year is off to an auspicious start. The van needed to be towed to the dealership today as the ignition switch would no longer turn with the key and neither would the passenger and driver side door locks. A wonderful bill of $1500 awaits my credit card. It’s actually quite funny. Last Thursday I was telling Donna that my working seven days a week since the middle of the year and through the Xmas vacation had paid off and that I was almost back to even….almost. The universe has a keen sense of comedic timing. Fortunately I managed to pick up a few extra hours which will help. Tightening of the belt will have to be a little more rigorous for the next few months finding where to cut will be interesting.

On a more interesting note I’ve started planning the paintings for the Celebration Montreal 375-Canada 150 exhibition. The plan for the Canada portion is for 14 paintings – one of each of the flower for each provinces and territories and one final one of all the flowers in the same painting. For the Montreal portion a painting of the official flower of Montreal and a series of paintings of Montreal’s iconic staircases focusing on alleyways which are my favourite part of any photo safari we go on. I’ve been keeping up with drawing and painting as much as possible while working, but the focus will have to shift to the subject matter for the exhibition as practice material to produce the best possible results for the show. Even if nothing sells the presentation has to be as good as it can be. Below is my most recent effort, practicing transparencies and values. It’s harder than it looks.

A tiny painting of a waterfall in the Catskills

Finally – resolutions for the New Year, to continue to lose weight, to sell at least one piece of art, to keep trying to sell Donna’s Bear, to keep writing poetry and submit to poetry magazines. That’s it. Doable, at least I think it is. Time will tell.

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Forced Sale

Posted by bernicky - July 25th, 2016

Since we bought the house the valuation on it has increased almost two hundred percent to roughly three times the value of when we bought it. On the one hand that looks great on paper because how many investments have paid off at that rate over the last 18 years? Not many, especially if you’re with Investors Group.

The flip side of that is that when we bought the house we were a two income family with two children. Fast forward two decades and we are a one income family with two adult children. Our son is out of the house which means that he is wholly independent and never taps me for cash…exactly the same way I was at his age…whoops, had to replace my computer monitor – my nose grew so fast it broke the screen.

Our daughter still lives at home and goes to school but, according to all levels of government, she is full independent and self-sustaining and paying her own way in the world. What that means is that all those little benefits of being a parent have dried up, all the little tax breaks, all the little payouts that help offset costs over the year are all gone.

Single, one income (well two if you count the second part-time job), house at triple the value of when it was purchased, untenable.

This works out well for the City of Dorval. I cannot possibly afford the taxes on my house any more so they get to get rid of a long time resident and bring in someone who will likely build more value into the house and increase the valuation even more. No one at the city cares that the valuations are outstripping the ability of some home owners to pay the property tax. What the city cares about is the increase in city coffers which are fairly bursting at the seams. To put it in perspective there are about 20k people living in Dorval and the city budget is about 122 million dollars. Right next door with a population of 35k is Pointe Claire which has a city budget of 130 million dollars. Almost twice the population but only 8.5% larger budget. Hmmm.

The long and the short of it is I have to sell. The mortgage is up for renewal in February so I plan to renegotiate it at a monthly rate and put the house on the market.

In my own defense I can say I hung on as long as I could. Other than the mortgage I have no debt. After Lynn died I made certain to get rid of every last dime of debt we were carrying because I knew there would be little to no wiggle room in the future. It turns out I was wrong. There is less than no wiggle room. I thought that if I managed to keep the mortgage to 12 pays out of 26 I’d be able to manage. For a little while there I was right.

I haven’t lived in an apartment for a long time and our daughter never has. So it’s going to be an adventure of paring down what we have and living in a different environment and, like as not, a different city – Ville Emard appeals to me and so does Verdun. We’ll see. In the meantime here are my most recent efforts at escaping from reality into paint.

Musings of a non-smoking man

Musings of a non-smoking man

Night Bridge

Night Bridge

Kodak Moment

Kodak Moment

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Daddy needs a new pair of shoes

Posted by bernicky - June 9th, 2016

My income tax returns were filed the first week of March. Revenue Quebec received it, processed it and issues the refund owed me in less than a month. Revenue Canada on the other hand has been taking their time. First up was a “preassessment notice” which called into question educational expenses. That’ll teach me to go back to school at my age. They disallowed a bunch of education expenses that our daughter had because they were independent study and they were not included on some slip or another that the college has to issue. Okay, fair enough, the expenses didn’t qualify. It wasn’t a big difference but it was a difference. I’m good with that – I only want back what is mine. That was almost five weeks ago now and still no refund.

Revenue Canada has it both ways. When they owe you money they can take as long as they want to pay you back and you are not entitled to interest except from the end of the filing period regardless of how long they’ve had your money. If you owe them money it is due on the day the taxes were filed and interest starts to accrue immediately. In my limited view of finance it seems like the government gets to collect and hold on to money that is mine and gain the benefit and interest of using it for as long as they want before generously refunding it to me. The Canada Revenue Agency has a reputation for ruthlessness which has played out in the press a few times so it is only the very rich and powerful who ever take issue with the way they do things. That leaves me waiting on my own money and loath to ask what’s going on because, well, they’re the CRA and asking them questions is akin to being a nail sticking up from the floor.

I’m looking forward to receiving my refund. There are exotic plans afoot. Quite literally afoot. I need new shoes. I have a pair but they are at the end of their life cycle having spent a little over a year wearing them to work,as winter boots, hiking boots, running shoes and Sunday go to meeting best. Other exotic expenditures include paying the oil bill, paying the electric bill, buying groceries and splurging on a couple of new paint brushes. I plan to live large once I get off the curb.

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