: Family Members

More News on COVID-19’s Effect on Marriages

Hello everyone:

You’ve seen the pictures of folks smiling happily into the camera for pictures to be posted at once on Facebook. It makes me very pleased to see how some marriages have been strengthened by the virus and the forced togetherness. If this is a time of great joy for some couples, that’s superb.

But I had a chat recently with a pastor friend of mine and he was telling me that, in the midst of all this togetherness, there is a darker side. He informed me that incidents of martial violence have skyrocketed. I mentioned in an earlier blog posting that divorce lawyers have found their business increased by 50% but that doesn’t account for the marriages that are coming apart at the seams due to violence.

Some other friends told me that they have watched their parents’ marriages fall apart in front of their eyes, again as a result of too much time together and stress over losing jobs and financial pressure. Young people have lost their jobs by the thousands, but some older people have also become unemployed and businesses are failing.

So what can you and I do? Actually, there are several things that would be helpful. First, pray for these families. It is, indeed, families that are being affected by this fallout, not just the couples themselves. They need to know that they aren’t forgotten, so send a note of encouragement and support. Don’t take sides. That won’t help.

A note doesn’t interfere with crazy schedules that may include home schooling, cleaning, cooking three meals a day, juggling what is left of work, and then trying to deal with the disintegration of what might have been a long-term marriage.

What do you write? Hello. I’m thinking of you. This, too, shall pass. Praying for better days. I’m here for you. You aren’t alone in this. I’m your friend….

You know your friend or family member better than I do. The important thing is that you have written a personal, handwritten note to uplift and encourage, not a text. That can make a huge difference.

Next, wait a few days and follow up with a phone call. Again, be there for the person. Listen. Devote your entire attention to the person. Pray for him or her. Make sure that you are contacting a person of the same sex. This is not the time to get involved with someone other than your own spouse (who my Suddenly Single folks no longer have)! You are not a home wrecker; you are there to be an encouragement to your friend.

Pray without ceasing. Encourage without judging. Be there without fail.

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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All Moving Companies are Not Created Equal (or Equally, if You Prefer)

Hello everyone:

Okay, so I’ve moved a few times. Twenty-seven to be exact. You think I would be pretty good at it, and you are right, more or less.

I have worked with two professional moving companies in the past year and would like to share some insight into the topic at hand: the difference between the good guys and the bad guys (please understand that the good guys have women working for them, and very capably, I might add).

The good guys, who I will call JK Movers in Maryland, protected both my hardwood floors and my carpets and they wore booties to further guard against soiling or hurting my flooring. They brought the correct tools for the job, and had a staff that was peopled (I can’t say “manned” because two of the folks were women) with enough trained individuals to handle the job efficiently. My furniture was protected every step along the way. Those folks worked their backsides off and did not even stop for lunch. By the way, they showed up on time, on both ends of the trip. They also cost a small bundle….but let me tell you, compared to the bad guys, they were worth it.

Then there were the bad guys, who shall now and forever be known as Brand X. They really were all guys. Three of them showed up at 10:51, after being scheduled to show up about 9:30-10:00 am. They had to drop off a truck to someone else, they said. Yes, they were very pleasant. Yes, they cost less. They got paid by the hour, so there was time for a vaping break (the dude said he was smoking CBD stuff. That was exciting news. ) You get what you pay for, as the old saying goes.

My floors were not protected in any way. Indeed, the furniture was scrapped across the wood floors, both coming and going. They had to borrow tools from three neighbors (both coming and going), so they could take some of my furniture apart. They had only a sledge hammer and a flat head screwdriver. (I was worried when I saw the sledgehammer.)

I only hope they put my treadmill back together correctly. It does tend to list to the side now. Two pieces of my furniture now have dings and my brand new paint job at the new house has traces of black filing cabinet on it. Oh, one dude tracked mud onto my brand new carpet; that was also exciting.

So, here is the bottom line: If one mover is cheaper than another, there is probably a very good reason for it. Unless you want furniture dinged and floors disrespected, then do not hire the cheapest guys in town. If I had to do it over, I would pay the extra money and pay for the good guys. No question about it. JK Movers, you folks rock.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Buyer Beware or Buyer Be Aware

Hello everyone:

After a month off for moving houses and buying a new one, I have a fount of new information to share with you, my beloved readers. And it deals with the purchase of your home-on-your-own. Even if you have purchased a house or condo as a single before, things have probably changed since the last time you made such a huge purchase. Here are some tips for navigating the new waters of home alone.

When I purchased my new house, little did I know that my seller would take it upon himself to spackle over all of the nail holes in all of the walls. The dear fellow also sanded over his handiwork. And then he left it. Every wall in my new house has huge blotches of white spackling compound on top of the dark brown paint he apparently found attractive, since he used it throughout the house, except where he painted the walls a medium gray.

Well, he was correct in assuming I would repaint. He was incorrect in thinking I planned on doing it before even moving in. But, with the mess he made, it became necessary for my personal sanity to, in the very least, repaint the walls that I would see every day.

Fortunately, I have a new dear friend whose family thrives on remodeling. She and her kinfolk repainted (beautifully, I might add) my entire first floor the most gorgeous shade of light blue with white trim, while I was in Florida visiting my family over the Christmas break. Bless their hearts.

Another interesting tidbit is that I have textured walls. In Florida, they call it “orange peel.” In Virginia, it is simply “textured.” Do you know what happens when you sand textured walls, like my seller did? It removes the texture. This means that your entire wall is textured, except where you sanded it. This makes it necessary to re-texture the wall where it was sanded, unless you are fond of glaring smooth spots on an otherwise textured wall. Not fun, folks.

Did you know that, if you have light fixtures that look like something from Dungeon and Dragons, they shed a yellow light on everything? The really good news is that they are pretty easy to replace with more palatable light fixtures (palatable from a decorating standpoint, that is) AND some consignment shops will sell your old fixtures for you! Don’t throw them away, offer them in the re-sale market. Someone whose taste is more reflective of their design might fall in love with them.

Finally, as a former settlement clerk, I found it fascinating that buyers and sellers do not attend settlement together (at least in Virginia), nor do they see one another’s HUD- 1 settlement sheet. Privacy laws have apparently hit the world of house buying and selling, so don’t expect that you will meet your counterpart, unless you happen to run into one another. The HUD-1 is now a two-part document with only the information appropriate to you in front of you.

If you live in a state where they will meet, you should become concerned if they don’t show up. In Maryland, where our marital home was sold, my real estate agent and I sat for two hours and fifteen minutes before the buyer’s agent called to say the settlement was not going to happen that night. Yeah, fella, we did kinda get the idea that something was wrong when the buyers hadn’t done their walk through yet, after we had already been there for an hour. Make sure that your agent keeps on top of things and that he or she makes phone calls and sends emails and texts, if things look dicey.

Happily, the settlement did happen the next morning but, because of the way things were conducted, we won’t get the proceeds of the house until…whenever. A too-similar event happened with the sale of another property we owned. The buyers had been in the property for a month and a half before the settlement check showed up. Have any divorce papers handy, showing who gets what money. Do not assume that they will automatically split things in half. They have to see certified court documents before the title company can disperse the funds.

Again, stay on top of things as best you can but do not plan that you will have your exit money right away. Plan for the worst while hoping for the best. I hope you found this info helpful!

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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So, You’d Better Watch Out…for Pick Pockets

Hello everyone:

Well, my visit to Orlando International Airport did not go as expected yesterday. I went through the TSA checkpoint, got patted down and my britches opened, and then got my university ID card stolen by someone who brushed by me.

I didn’t realize it immediately but, a little while later, I noticed that my university ID card was no longer hanging from my purse. It took a little longer to realize that the person who banged into me, right under the eyes of the TSA, had clipped it off and walked away with it.

I hope the individual enjoys getting into the communication faculty office area because that’s really the only place I am authorized to go. After he or she arrives, the offices in the inner sanctum are locked and the card will only take the person that far. Knock yourself out, thief.

I guess you thought the card was for some big company that had a lot of stuff on computers. Well, in some ways you were right but I don’t have access to that kind of information. Too bad for you.

This did make one thing clear: the importance of being aware of your possessions while traveling. What if that had been my passport? My credit cards? It was quite a bit of time before I realized what had happened and the thief was long gone by then.

I was traveling alone and it really could have been a whole lot worse than my needing to walk across campus tomorrow, to cancel that card and get a new one, after paying $25.00 for the card.

Folks, please be vigilant this holiday season, and all year round. The bad guys (or gals) are out there and they know how to grab and run (or walk). So, you’d better watch out.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Breaking Up is Hard to Do, even if it’s with Your House

Hello everyone:

Have you ever been in mourning? For a house? That’s what I have faced recently, as a home that has been in our family since 1948 is being sold and the house where I raised my two sons is also on the market. Breaking up is hard to do, even when you’re talking about brick and mortar.

There’s the tree where your kids played cops and robbers or the porch where you swung on swings while chatting with your aunts and drinking iced tea with so much sugar that the spoon to stir it almost stood bolt upright. The front yard of your family home is there, neatly trimmed and running over with deer each evening. The tiny yard where you caught your first fireflies in mason jars is carefully pruned to show the house to its best advantage.

And there you stand on the outskirts, knowing that the properties have to sell but almost praying they won’t. But they must. So there you have it.

It doesn’t even have to be a house that you’ve owned for a long time for you to regret having to sell. I spoke to a couple this morning in such a situation. He kept telling me how much he loves his house. Present tense. He is going to sell it, to move near the grandchildren, but he worked so hard on the house that he has bonded with it. His wife stood nearby with tears in her eyes, but knowing that their path has been set in a different direction. They are moving hundreds of miles away.

Someone told me recently that, if someone is too busy looking back, he or she can’t see what God has for them in the future. The Bible talks about the man who puts his shoulder to the plow and how the fellow will mess up his plowing if he looks behind himself.

Simply put, we can’t see the blessings ahead if we look backwards all the time. They say that you shouldn’t cry over something that can’t cry back. While a house can’t tell you what it’s feeling, it is okay to grieve. But afterwards, you need to move on.

What are your thoughts on moving?

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Watch out for Real Estate Agents Who Don’t Have Your Best Interests at Heart

Hello everyone:

The majority of the real estate agents I know are superb folks who work very hard. They focus on getting sellers top dollar for their homes and help buyers get into the house of their dreams in a financially responsible way.

And then there are those you need to watch out for. The latter are the folks I will be writing about today. (Let’s face it, this story is much more interesting!)

One of my suddenly single friends placed her out-of-state house on the market with a local real estate agent who appeared to be the top in his field. He wasn’t. Almost one month after listing her house, the agent had not done anything to market the home, including not having put the home into the Multiple Listing Service, not placing it on his website, not taking any pictures of the home’s interior, and not showing the house to anyone except his son, who was a flipper.

It gets worse. The son made a low-ball offer on a house that had been valued by the real estate agent. They then insisted on a quick close. And the house still hadn’t been listed on the MLS. When the home owner and her hubby called the real estate agent out on the issues, the realtor’s son withdrew his offer, the house was immediately placed onto MLS, and an offer was made by someone else. Someone who insisted on an immediate decision.

What do you think my homeowner friend should do? I would love to hear what you think, and then I will tell you “the rest of the story” in a future blog posting.

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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Flat Tires are a Real Drag

Hello everyone:

Flat tires are a bother, an inconvenience, and especially troublesome on major holidays. I know. I had one this afternoon.

There I was, on my way to one of my favorite stomping grounds- Bed, Bath, and Beyond- for a little mid-afternoon entertainment (I am easily amused, I suppose), when I noticed my car tire inflation light was on and my car seemed to be running a bit more lumpty bumpty than usual.

Okay, the roads around this area have trouble with smoothness but this seemed out of the ordinary. It was.

Fortunately, my go-to IT guy had just left my house (He’s the son of a dear friend) and so I called and asked if he would take a look at my tire, which seemed only a bit mushy.

Folks, mushy is not a good thing and a little mushy turns into greatly mushy amazingly fast. Give the tire a few minutes and you have a tire that is mostly rim sitting on the ground. Trust me, I know.

My IT friend arrived at the scene of the newly-flat tire just in time to confirm that, yes, indeed, I had a flat tire. I couldn’t find my AAA card.

Happily, my friend was also a member and gave me the phone number. The man at AAA said it would be 65 minutes. Sixty-five minutes in the hot summer sun sounded very unappealing, but the Tire-Changer Man showed up in less than 30 minutes, was very pleasant, exchanged the recalcitrant tire with my brand new spare with great efficiency, and everyone was on his or her way in a matter of minutes.

It was a great experience in the middle of despair. So what do I recommend? Having a good friend is great, so that is the first advice. My final advice on this experience is this: If you don’t like changing tires, get AAA! They do not pay me to say this. I am offering this recommendation without any expectation of reimbursement for my endorsement.

Having someone show up to change my tire for me was worth the price of the yearly fee they charge to be a member. AAA is most definitely worth its weight in gold tires. Because flat tires, as you know, are a real drag.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

P.s. Yes, I gave the Tire-Changer Man a tip. It was a very hot day today.

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