: Caretakers

Don’t Worry If You’re Talking to Yourself, Only Worry If You’re Answering Back: Oh, No!

Hello everyone:

There used to be a saying “don’t worry if you’re talking to yourself, only worry if you’re answering back.” Thanks to the COVID 19 virus, I passed that a long time ago!

One month is bad enough, but two months of self-isolation are even worse. At some point in time, I caught myself having conversations with myself. Full conversations. What’s a single gal to do? Here are some suggestions to help lift the fog and dissipate those clouds of conversational uncertainty.

First, talk to Siri on your phone. I changed my Siri voice to that of a British male, finding that more delightful than a woman’s tones. Ask questions, and listen, truly listen to the answer. Okay, I know that’s a bit lame. But if you’re desperate…. These are troubling times, you know.

Call an old friend and talk for hours. I mean, what is she doing? She’s almost as stuck as you are, except that you’re the one who’s single.

Go for walk. Greet everyone pleasantly. Admire dogs, children, and cats. (Yes, I actually saw a woman walking her cat the other day. Poor gal must have been despairing of human contact. It certainly was a conversation starter. Sadly, the cat wanted nothing to do with the idea and took off, her owner in tow, but I digress.)

Go to The Home Depot and talk to the workers there. (Please keep your conversation department related, or it will be brief. That is, if you are in the paint department, don’t try to talk carpeting, or you will get handed off very quickly.) (Second note: They are restricted to a certain number of customers in the store at a time, so please be sensitive to the people waiting in line outside, trying to get in, especially if it is 35 degrees out, like it was here this morning.)

Go to the grocery store and bemoan to anyone else in the paper goods aisle the fact that there still isn’t any toilet tissue available. After all this time, what in the world could everyone be doing with it? (Side note: I have seen two different Cottonnelle TP ads recently, teasing me about their product to the point where they showed a Walmart worker loading the shelves with their product and smiling to beat the band.

I awoke early this morning and rushed to Walmart, only to find not even the worst Brand X product on their shelves. But I digress, again.) You can actually get into some very interesting conversations with folks regarding the benefits of one bathroom wipe over another. Been there, done that, but that smacks of desperation once again.

Put on a YouTube video of your favorite music and sing along, pretending you are in the band. Dance, and you will get a real workout. If a neighbor sees you, you might get hauled away by the men in the little white suits…. They will graciously bring you a white jacket to wear, as well. It will be a bit…confining…..Oops, gotta run. There’s someone at the door. Or there will be soon, if I trip that walker on her way past my house….though it would be nice to talk to someone I’ve known longer than five minutes.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Recalcitrant Washing Machines and Other Irritations

Hello everyone:

I have a two-month old washer that has been incredibly persnickety. Sometimes it will spin the clothes and sometimes it simply rinses them five or six times and then declares itself finished. (It has also claimed to be spinning when I can clearly hear it filling and refilling with water.)

It seems there is a computer in the workings of the machine (computers are everywhere these days…I remember my grandmother’s old washer that required you to put clothing literally through the wringer….but I digress). Said computer has many likes and dislikes and apparently one of those peculiarities is that it is not overly fond of a hose that is too long.

You know that hose that goes from your washer to the drain line in your wall? Well, apparently, the washer doesn’t like a six foot hose; it prefers a six-inch one. When my washer was originally delivered, it came with a three-inch hose that you couldn’t do anything with, especially not drain any pressurized water, without risking the possibility that your laundry room would soon be swathed in dirty rinse water.

So, on the advice of the washer deliverers, I made a trek to my local Home Depot and bought a longer one. A much longer one. Six feet longer, to be more precise. Nobody told me that it would need to be trimmed and my friend who kindly installed the new, longer hose didn’t know to trim it, either.

So, the technician met me at my house today, and it took him all of ten minutes to realize the challenge that was confronting my washer. You see, when the hose is too long, it is longer than the washer, the water backs up as it is draining, and the computer inside the machine says there isn’t any water in the washer and it keeps refilling the machine. Hence, the five or six rinse cycles, sans the spin cycle.

So, before you get ready to deep six your washer or hang around the house waiting for the washer technician, take a look at that hose. The length might be the problem. Make sure you keep enough length so that it doesn’t come out of the wall when it’s under pressure (which would lead to an impromptu bubble bath or a spur of the moment baptismal service) but not so long that it doesn’t confuse your washer. Where’s a wringer washer when you need it?

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Flying out of the Airport Closest to Your Home Might Not be the Way to Fly

Hello everyone:

It seems like a no-brainer: You live near an airport, so you automatically book your flights from there.

Not so fast, dear friends! Let me tell you about my experience. I moved to a relatively rural area. The nearest major airport is Richmond. The nearest small airport is right next to my employer. Neither makes financial sense for me to utilize. Here’s why:

I looked into booking a flight from Richmond to Nashville, needing to go there on business. Because there were no direct flights, it would take me 6-8 hours to get there and it would cost about $400, one way. It would also take me at least two hours to drive to Richmond. Total cost: $800+ and about ten hours.

If I drove from my home to Nashville, I could get exactly where I wanted to be, without renting a car, and could get there in eight hours. I don’t want to drive but I need to go, so I looked further.

If I flew out of Baltimore-Washington International, the flight would cost less than $400 round trip and would take two hours. Yes, I have to drive to Maryland, but I can do other things while I am there. I am also used to making that drive, so I would be traveling over very familiar roads, instead of driving who knows where for who knows exactly how long. Total cost: $368.96, 1 1/2 tank of gas for the complete trip, a two hour flight, and a five hour drive.


(Yes, they let us get off the airplane to get food and stretch our legs.)

Even though the weather cleared up pretty quickly, the planes that had landed earlier than we did got to take off first, so we sat on the tarmac, waiting for our turn. It came and we ended up in Orlando, four hours late.

A friend was telling me today that his wife had a flight last spring where she had a layover. Her connecting flight from the tiny airport was canceled. The next flight was 24 hours later. Her hubby drove down and picked her up, in the middle of the night.

I think this is a case of bigger being better, since larger airports have more planes to choose from, if yours develops a problem. The take-away here is this: It might work out better to fly out of an airport that requires a bit of a drive. You will save money and you might save time, as well. Would you rather be sitting in an airport in the middle of nowhere or driving through a beautiful countryside? It’s your call. And your money.

What do you think? Have you had an experience like this?

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Chicken Stew Just For You

Hi everyone:

I am not known for my gourmet cooking abilities. But, and this is huge, I have a chicken stew recipe to share with you today.

Yes, this is not normally the place for recipes, but I just cooked for only the third time since I moved here nine months ago, so it seems worth the time needed to give you my tried-and-true-Sheri-Parmelee-original recipe. My kids loved it, so here it is:

Take one one-pound package of boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins. Cook them in a pot, chopping them into bite-sized pieces when they are cooked halfway through.

Finish cooking them while you chop up one Idaho potato. Once the chicken is completely cooked, pour two Heinz Homestyle Gravy jars (the 12 oz size) into the pot. Run a little water into the bottom of the jars (about a half inches per jar) and pour that into the pot, as well. Add two teaspoons of sage and two teaspoons of thyme. Stir it in thoroughly. Add the raw potato. Add in a half package of your favorite frozen vegetables. Cook until the potato and veggies are soft. This makes four servings. I freeze three of them.

This recipe can be easily expanded, based on how many people you have. I hope you enjoy this! Everyone I have ever served this to absolutely loves it and comes back for seconds.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Pool Maintenance: Don’t Lose Your Pool over it

Hello everyone:

Let me tell you a story about a pool mistake that was costly. P

Part of lawn maintenance is the care of your pool, if you have one.

Pump filters need to be changed once a week in order to keep the pump running well. Chemicals need to be added to keep your pool water from becoming really nasty.

Bugs and birds are not potty-trained and can make a real mess of your pool. Be sure to follow the instructions that your manufacturer has for the pool you own.

I used to work many years ago for a motel in Cocoa Beach, Florida; the Cape Colony Inn was lovely, for a circa 1960s motel. Although it was old when I went to work there, the pool was quite nice, nestled as it was in the middle of the circle of rooms.

Shortly after I left, they got a new manager, someone from the north who did now know about Florida’s high water tables and proximity to sea level. He insisted that the pool people drain the pool and scrub it out.

When they did, the concrete liner popped out of the ground as it was pushed upward by the water level in the ground, permanently ruining the pool. Because of changes in the building codes, the motel was not allowed to build a new pool.

They turned it into a rock garden. Since it was now a motel in Cocoa Beach that did not have a pool, the Cape Colony Inn quickly went out of business. The northern-transplanted manager was long gone by the time the motel closed. The take-away from this is: follow directions carefully.

What pool tips do you have? My readers would love to read your stories of woe or experience, as well.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Getting Your House Ready to Sell: To Stage or Not to Stage, That is the Question

Hello everyone:

When I spoke to a new realtor several years ago about staging a home, he indicated his disdain for the whole idea. When I talked to my experienced real estate friend recently, he told me that he always stages homes.

Sometimes is it simply a matter of adding a few flowers to the home; other properties require more effort. Homes on the lower price range spectrum would not get a total makeover; they would just get a little sprucing up and it would be confined to the living room, kitchen/dining room, and master bedroom.

The cost for that amount of work would be between $500 and $1,000. If a home is vacant and in a somewhat higher price range, the staging would be more elaborate. A home in the $400,000 price category might require a staging cost of $1,000-$2,000. A multi-million dollar home would have a cost of $3,000-$5,000 to stage.

Why would you want to use a stager to sell your home? The agent I spoke with told me that a staged home will sell faster and at a higher price than homes that have not received this service. There are a wide variety of services available with stagers; staging pays for itself through the higher price you get for selling a staged home.

If you are a do-it-yourself type, you might be able to do the work on your own. Folks, this is not for the faint of heart. You will have to have the guts to unclutter your home AND have a gift for decorating.

Look at current decorating magazines and HGTV shows to get some ideas. See how they have pretty tablescapes in the dining room? They have the table set up for a fancy dinner party. Get out some nice plates and other dinnerware and set it up as if you expect some company. If you are really fancy, you can buy some chargers (the plates that go underneath the biggest plates) at your local craft store for about $2.00 each. Add a nice silk flower arrangement and your table looks ready to go. (Note: If there are cobwebs in the corners or kiddie toys scattered in the room, get rid of them all, pronto.)

Go into your bedrooms. Make sure the beds are neatly made, clutter is gone, there are no family pictures anywhere, and drape an extra quilt that is color-coordinated with your bedspread diagonally across your bed. Again, look at the decorating shows. Make sure you remove any extra furniture. You want buyers to come in and exclaim how big your bedroom is. If it is overrun with anything, they will find it cramped, not cozy.

What about the living or family rooms? Don’t pile all of your furniture in one room, spread it out. Again, be brutal. Anything that gives the rooms a cluttered, too-small look has got to go. Any worn furniture is better in a storage unit than in a house you are trying to sell.

Make sure that your home shines. Swiffer everything frequently. If you have hardwood floors, I recommend Swiffering and then following that up with the use of Bona, a hardwood floor cleaner that also polishes. It is reasonably priced and works like a champ! I understand that they also sell Bona for tile floors but I have not used that yet and won’t recommend it until I do. If it works as well as the hardwood cleaner, you will be very satisfied. You can buy these products in the grocery store. No one has paid me anything for this endorsement and I do not have stock in the company. I am simply a very satisfied customer.

If you have an open house, realtors suggest baking cookies, but I must confess that, as a buyer, it makes me wonder what they are trying to cover up if the seller does that. Doggie doodle? Cat litter box? Dirty diapers? Your call entirely.

Clean up the outside of your house, as well. Make sure that the siding is clean, not moldy. Keep the grass and bushes well cared for. Paint the shutters, if need be. Drive up to your house and ask yourself if you would want to live there. If the answer is “no, then work on the place until you can say “sure thing.”

I hope this helps! I would love to get some ideas from you, so please feel free to share!

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Don’t Put Your Groceries on the Back Seat if You Live in the City of Seven Hills

Hello everyone:

You know how you like to put your groceries on the back seat of your car, so that they’re easier to retrieve when you get home? Don’t do it if you live in a place known for its hills. You won’t like the results.

I moved recently from a reasonably flat area, having grown up in the very flat central Florida area.

In Florida, we always put our groceries on the back seat of our car so that, when we got home, it was not necessary to bend over and pick things off of the floor as we took things in the house.

We just did things that way. It worked very well. It also worked great in Maryland. Not so much in the beautiful city set on seven hills.

“Why?” my friends in other states might ask. Be still my soul.

Let’s say you put some eggs on the seat. Let’s say that your grape juice and sports drink bottles are also on the seat. Let’s say that you prepare to leave the parking lot, and that you note that the exit ramp is on a hill. Going down hill. No worries, right?

Just for a change of pace, no other driver has done something stupid, requiring you to slam on your brakes and send everything flying, but that you do, indeed, press down on the brake a little harder than usual.

Heavier items start to fly off the seat first, knocking the lightweight items to the floor.

You know those cute little Styrofoam egg cartons? They don’t like five pound bottles of drinks on top of them, no matter what anyone says. (Okay, so they aren’t really five pounds, but their weight combined with gravity makes them a force to be reckoned with.)

So, here’s the deal. Put your groceries on the floor unless you prefer scrambled eggs (complete with egg shells) for lunch and watch your step when applying your brakes.

Oh, I also seat belts heavier items into place (like luggage) whenever I travel. Seems silly but I don’t want a 25-pound suitcase shifting its weight around in mid-drive.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Closet Clean Out Time

Hello everyone:

As you take the things that had been in the laundry room back to the closet where they belong, you may want to take some time to re-organize your closet.

Are there any clothes that you have not worn in a year? Unless you are talking about a tux or a ball gown that is only used periodically, you might want to consider giving your unused clothing to someone who would enjoy having it.

If something hasn’t fit in many years, you may want to give this now-out-of-date, ill-fitting garment to someone else less fortunate than you. If your cuffs on your shirts or the hems on your pants are showing signs of wear, this is a good time to pass the clothing along to a disaster-relief group.

One caveat: If I have a scruffy-looking hem on an otherwise-nice pair of pants, I send them to my dry cleaners and have them made into shorts.

If you have something in your closet that you argue with yourself about every time you go to put it on, give it away. Be brutal.

If you haven’t worn an outfit in a year or more, chances are slim that you will wear it now.  As the saying goes, “You have to get rid of what you don’t want in your life to make room for what you do want.”

Do you really want to keep those ugly, dated shoes with the worn-down heels? It would probably cost more to have them re-heeled than they are worth.

As you work through your closet, have three piles: give away, throw away, and keep. As the closet empties out, dust for cobwebs and clean off the shelves and floor.

As you put away your “keep” pile, your closet will be cleaned, as well as cleaned out.  Please note that this works well on dressers, as well.

Do you really want to hold onto a nightgown that itches, a belt that pinches, or underwear that cinches? Nope.

Give them away or throw them away. Undergarments that don’t fit will not lead to a nice-looking appearance. The battle of the bulge will throw off your whole look, so toss or give away these items, pronto.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Trash Talk: Does Trash Really Talk?

Hello everyone:

Today’s Missive is all about Taking out the Trash

Do you know what day the trash is collected in your area? How about knowing when the recycle folks show up? What time do you need to have the trashcans out at the curb? Where should you place them? How much time do you have to bring them back to the house? (This could be an issue with your homeowners’ association.) Are there any special restrictions on what you can place at the curb?

If you haven’t been paying attention to these details, talk to your neighbors or observe what they are doing. Your local county is also a good source of information on trash. Visit their website or give them a call to find out what is or is not acceptable.

Garbage cans can be extremely heavy when they are full, so either do not fill them completely, use more than one garbage can so that the weight is more evenly distributed, or get a dolly to roll the can to the curb. I do not recommend putting the garbage can in the back of your car; even if you could lift it (this sounds like a hernia operation waiting to happen).

If the trash spills out, you could end up with a very smelly trunk. Make every effort to get rid of your trash on a weekly basis. The longer it hangs around, the more likely you will attract bugs, rodents, or other small animals. Trash does not get better with time. It also does not go away on its own. (Think Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie, here!)

You can also purchase garbage cans that have wheels. They come in very handy if you need to pull your garbage can to the curb for pickup. You may wish to put your house number on the side of the can so that you can identify it from those of your neighbors; a magic marker usually works well on providing the cans with permanent identification. Again, be sure to follow the homeowners’ association rules for when you’re your garbage can be placed at the curb and the deadline by which it must be removed.

In my present neighborhood, I am required to turn my trash can a certain way, so that the wheels are facing the street. The city has a special truck that picks up the cans and dumps them into the back of the vehicle but they will only pick up the trash can if the wheels are properly aligned.

I also have to have a city sticker on the top of the can, or they won’t stop. The sticker costs $40-80 per year, depending on the size of the can. It has an expiration date that is easily read. I must pay the bill to get a new sticker or the city won’t pick up the trash!

Interestingly enough, my new city does not recycle. If I want to recycle anything, I have to take my empty bottles and cans to a recycle center and pay to have them take the empty containers off my hands.

I hope my trash talk has helps smooth your transition to the single life. Do you have any tales to tell?

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Clogged Drains in the Bathtub can become Slimy: This Should Not be Your Goal

Hello everyone:

A clogged drain is not a particularly difficult challenge. All you need for a simple clog is a wire clothes hanger, opened up to its full length. Keep the hook crocked, so that you have something to hang on to. Put a smaller hook in the opposite end of the hanger. Thread the end with the smaller hook down the recalcitrant drain, twist it in circles several times, and pull the entire glob of gunk out of the drain.

You might have a buildup of hair and other items in the drain. You might actually be surprised by what you find down there, clogging up the works. You can also buy a Drain Devil, which is a piece of plastic that has serrated edges that allow it to pick up the gunk in your drain as you snake it down the pipes. You do basically the same thing as you would with the hanger, but you don’t have to destroy a hanger to do it.

(Keep a paper towel handy, to wrap the mess in. You won’t want to touch it any more than necessary.) You will want to throw this gunk in the garbage immediately; make sure you seal it in a Ziploc bag when you dispose of it or it will stink up the house.

Keep whatever you used to unclog your drain; don’t throw it away because this will happen again.

Do not EVER use muriatic acid on your pipes. When it is poured down a drain, it smokes, it smells, it gives off dangerous gas, and it doesn’t always work. It can kill you and yours. Do not take a chance on it.

What is the other option? If you don’t unclog your drain, the water in the bathtub will back up and it will be soapy. It will get on the floor of your shower or bathmat and it will become slimy. (Note that, if it is already slimy, time will not improve its condition. You will need to clean the mat or shower floor after you unclog the pipes, or you could have a slipping hazard.)

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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