: Terminally Ill Spouses

Staying Sane in a COVID19 World

Hello everyone:

The practicality of keeping your mind intact during the COVID19 pandemic might be a no-brainer (well, actually it would be the opposite, technically speaking) but how does someone who lives alone keep his or her mind? Good question.

You see television commercials that assume you have a boatload of folks living with you, when your reality is that there is no one. The PSA Powers that Be hint very loudly and often that the ONLY safe place is in your home. Going outside, even to the grocery, could be fatal.

Well, there is that possibility. If you are over 65 and chronically ill, then, yes, there is a much better chance that you will get sick. If you are in good shape, you could also get sick. The deal here is that there is a 98% chance you would recover, even if you did get ill. Those aren’t my stats; they came from Dr. Ben Carson, a man I greatly admire, two weeks ago.

So how do you keep from going wahoo while waiting for the all-clear? (The point here is that you want to be around other people, without actually being anywhere near them. Your house can only be SO clean….

Text. Call people on the phone. Keep some kind of noise going on during your waking hours, trying to avoid anything that will stress you out. HGTV is a good start, except for those annoying Lowe’s commercials where they tell you every five minutes to stay home with your family. Suddenly Single folks live alone, Lowe’s geniuses. Don’t rub it in.

Crud. I can hear that annoying commercial where they tell me what my rooms have been changed into…This is the fifteenth time they’ve played it since I started writing this blog posting. Aughh!!!!! I have just made the decision to stick with Home Depot, who only asks that I paint my entire house or Ace, where they offer curbside or home delivery. No more Lowe’s for me, who apparently have a very low budget for musical interludes and play that same blasted melody with its handful of notes over and over and over…..No, wait, I may be going nuts. But I digress.

Order books and read them. Pretend you are in the story; they have people in them. They are your new best friends. (Keep in mind they have to be a bit on the nutty side or there would be no story). Write a book. Who are the weirdest people you know? Change all identifying names and places and have at it.

Take long walks, and greet everyone who passes by, even if they are on the opposite side of the road where they should be. We have a pandemic going on, after all. Make appointments to talk to your neighbors; one of you can stand in the road while the other of you stands in your garage.

Stay sane. Put on your big girl pants and don’t let the pandemic get you down. We are one day closer to our freedom than we were yesterday.

Hugs,

Dr. Sheri

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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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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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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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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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