: Widows & Widowers

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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The Odds are not in our Favor, Ladies

Hello everyone:

When going over some statistics on mortality lately, I learned that women living in the United States who are over 65 years of age have an excellent chance of finishing life’s journey alone. The numbers stated that she has a 40% chance she will be a widow, a 40% chance that she will be divorced, and only a 20% chance that she will be married.

To those of you who are over 65 and still living in marital bliss, I congratulate you. So far, you have beaten the odds. However, unless you and your husband, God forbid, are in a car accident that kills you both, the chances are excellent that you will spend at least part of your life as a single. You will be a single in a couples’ world.

Here are some more statistics, since we are on a roll here. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 800,000 people will lose their spouse this year to death. Another 813,000 will lose their spouse to divorce. This means that some 1.6 million folks in the USA who were living with their spouse on January 1, 2020, will be living without that person by New Year’s Eve.

The good news is that you can be better prepared for the inevitable. Read some of the 320+ blog postings I have here; they explain the next steps to take. If there is a topic that I haven’t covered, pick a topic and comment on it, asking the question that you have in mind. I will do research on it, and will use that information for a future blog posting.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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If They Say “No tools necessary” Why Do the Directions inside Show the Dude Using a Sledgehammer?

Hello everyone:

The saga of new home ownership continues. Okay, so I bought two new metal bookcases, to put inside my office closet. They weren’t the plastic ones that used to be available at my new home-away-from-home, The Home Depot (now I understand why folks go there….it’s entertaining and fun! But perhaps I have become more easily amused these days….But I digress….).

Back to the story at hand. Okay, so these metal thingamabobs looked pretty easy to put together. I looked at the instructions for two days before attempting this feat of construction. (Have I mentioned that they aren’t the plastic snap-together ones I had before at the old house and really, really liked, but gave away when I moved?)

Three shelves couldn’t be that hard to figure out, right? Be still my soul. First, you screw the bottom metal rod into the top metal rod and repeat three more times for the other legs of the shelves. Easy peazy, Roger that. We are launched. Oops, I’m single now. I am launched.

Now you put the black plastic things around the rods, marking where you want the bottom shelf to be. (They neglected to include the fact that, if you put them too low on the rods, they pop back off and then you are on a fruitless search for the blasted popped off black thingy which, by the way, seems to be without a logical name. This must happen a lot because they included two extra black thingies in the package. Either that or my construction of these shelves is in serious trouble.)

Place the bottom shelf on the rods and …oh no! A sledgehammer is needed? Where did that come from? I don’t have a sledgehammer and the nearest Home Depot is 20 minutes away….And I might not be able to lift a sledgehammer anyway and….and… and. Perhaps brute force, albeit a feminine version of said brute force, will work. Okay, so that wasn’t ideal but I digress.

Repeat with the next shelf and the top shelf. Well, the shelving unit looks okay. I mean, it’s slightly askew but aren’t we all? Maybe if I jam it in the back of the closet and lean it against two walls…. There. I only planned on putting office supplies on it anyway. How much could pens and file folders and copy machine paper and stuff like that weigh, anyway?

Hurry up and put the second one together while I have this shelf construction memorized. The instructions can take a hike. The second one was much easier, now that I know how…wait a minute- what are these little black round things? Where are those blasted directions? Nope, they are nameless just like their predecessors and these treasures aren’t even pictured. Where in the world do they belong???? Oh, the trash, of course. Circular file…..

Oh, my. What was that noise? It seems to be coming from my closet. Nope false alarm. I shut the closet doors quickly and headed downstairs. Any reconstruction will simply have to wait for another day. Or never, which ever one comes first.

Best,

Dr. Sheri, Handywoman Extraordinaire

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Your New Normal

Hi folks:

Welcome to your new life. Whether you are divorced or widowed, you have a new “normal” and a new life. It’s up to you to embrace it and literally “find out what you want to be when you grow up.”

Perhaps you chose this new beginning or maybe it was forced on you through the death of someone you loved very much. Perchance your spouse told you verbally that he or she did not want to be married to you anymore or perhaps it was much more subtle. Here’s the news: You can make it. You can survive and even thrive in this new season of life.

As you visit my website, take a look at a few of the topics I cover, everything from whether or not to move, how to pack, and how to select your new location to (if you are male) how to put together a new wardrobe (assuming that your mother dressed you and then your wife took over the role when you married).

You might be one of my readers whose wife always took care of maintaining the household or you might be a gal whose hubby always handled the bill paying. There’s help for you both here, as well.

If you would like me to address a specific topic, just comment on any of my blog postings and I would be happy to oblige. If I don’t know the answer, I will go to an expert and get back to you.

The bottom line here is: You can make it. You can get through these difficulties, and who knows what the future will bring? I’ve known people who were “alone” for years who found love in their mid-70s. I’ve also known people who were widowed in their 40s and still have a very good life without a spouse. Hang in there, friends.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Where’s a Good Handyman (or Woman) When You Need Him (or Her)?

Hello everyone:

So, I hurt my ankle almost three weeks ago and I’m not exactly jumping all around yet.

In the meantime, some lights blew out at my house and I need to change the light bulbs. The thing is, the recalcitrant bulbs, AKA the light bulbs in question, are ensconced firmly on a very high light fixture that is directly above my dining room table.

Getting to these charming bulbs will require a step ladder and hanging perilously over my quite-wide dining room table. My ankle, at the very thought of this maneuver, is screaming “don’t do it!”

So, to remedy the dilemma, I went to two different hardware stores, thinking that they would know someone who does handyman work (or handyperson work, if you prefer).

No such luck. Although the workers at both stores were very sympathetic, all of the folks they knew who might do that type of work don’t do it anymore. Apparently, they are either retired or the cost of insurance has driven them from the field. What a pity.

So what is a person who is currently injured to do? Sit at home in the dark? Straddle the dining room table in the hopes that the lights will be changed before things come crashing down or the ankle gives way?

Humm……I wonder if there are any handypeople at church? Food for thought. I’ll check into it tomorrow and let you know. Stay posted.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Finding Your New Normal

Hello everyone:

When I talk to divorcees and widows, one of the first things we talk about is finding out what we all want to be when we grow up. That would be, by the way, a very good thing to do right now.

Your life has changed. No matter how you wish you could hit the “rewind button” (remember the days of video tapes and Blockbuster Video stores?), it’snot going to happen. Maybe you are glad that there isn’t a rewind button on life. Sometimes, things can get so hectic you might think you are stuck on fast-forward. Okay, I’m dating myself here, to admit I remember these two speeds but they did occur on cassette tapes and VHS tapes. Blockbuster used to have big signs that they were going to charge you through the nose if you didn’t rewind before you returned one of their products. But I digress.

So, where are you now? I was just thinking about that today. Where we are now can be really, really exciting. I hope you see things that way. It’s rather like finding the glass is half full, not half empty.

Think about where you live now. It’s not the place you used to be, but I was reminded of the Code of Ethics I used to recite for many years as a Home Interiors and Gifts displayer. It said, in part, the following:

We believe the home should be a haven, a place of peace, a place of harmony, and a place of beauty.

What a lovely thought! No matter where you are in life, don’t you want your home to be a reflection of those very things: a haven, peaceful, harmonious, and beautiful. It can be. Just look and see who’s there. You. God. It doesn’t get better than that, for now.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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There are Times When Everything Turns Out Just Fine, Even When You Don’t Think They Will

Hello everyone:

I was just thinking this morning about a love story. I hope my friends don’t mind my sharing theirs, though I will stick to first names only.

George and Ellen were friends in college. They knew each other for some time but didn’t date, which was fine with her. One day, George decided it would be fun to take Ellen on a bike ride; it was to be their first date. What the heck? She decided to go.

Ellen had prayed from the time that she was in middle school that the Lord would show her the man she was supposed to marry by having him suggest a Bible study on their first date. When they had been riding for some time, George suggested that they take a little break. As they pulled their bikes over, he pulled out a Bible and suggested they have a Bible study.

Ellen told me that she looked heavenward and asked, “Really, God? Him????” They dated for a while when she realized that, yes, she was to marry George, and so she did.

Four children and thirteen grandchildren added to their love story. Every picture I have seen of them together shows them beaming at one another. Forty-seven years of marriage brightened their smile and deepened their love. The best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother, and their children had that gift, full and overflowing.

One night after Christmas, when the kids and grands had headed home after a week of activities, Ellen admitted that she was very tired. She lay down on the couch and then realized she couldn’t breath. George called 911. Tests at the hospital revealed stage four ovarian cancer.

Although Ellen fought a very hard fight, the cancer took her life six months later. It seemed like George’s love story was at an end, but it wasn’t. Ellen had encouraged him to remarry.

A few months later, he reconnected with his college sweetheart over Facebook. Based on the look on his face over the next few months, it was love at first re-sight. Fifty-four years and marriages for both of them (they were both widowed now) had divided George and Margie, but they were finally back together.

It was hard, at first, for their family and friends to accept this new woman in George’s life, especially because Ellen was so universally loved. But then I, like others perhaps, came to realize that Ellen’s love was continued through Margie and that Ellen’s legacy was continued by George’s desire for remarriage. What a tribute it was to Ellen that George would want to remarry so quickly. What a tribute to Margie that she was able to love and accept his family and friends, taking them to her heart as her own.

Perhaps remarriage is in your future. Or not. In either case, I hope you will embrace where you are in life right now. Enjoy it. Cherish it. Live it.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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What If Life Gives You Lemons and You Don’t Like Lemonade?

Hello everyone:

Now, I am the first person to order diet lemonade at Chic-Fil-A. But what if you don’t like it and life’s lemons turn out poorly? What’s a person to do?

Well, folks, that sometimes happens. My first question is: What are you doing with lemons if you don’t like lemonade? You know, sometimes things don’t turn out like you and I plan and maybe you really hate lemonade, but there are plenty more things you can do with lemons that have let you down.

There are lemon bars with confectioner’s sugar, lemon meringue pie, lemon cake, or as a substitute for onions and garlic. Just ask Martha Stewart, who offers 20 different lemon recipes online.

Now, my well-ordered world was shaken pretty substantially during the end of 2018 and most of 2019, but I have come through it and you can, too. This is a new year with new beginnings and new goals (if you set them). How can you be a blessing to others? How can you reach out to someone who is having a difficult time?

When I first moved to Virginia, I only knew a few people. Those folks made the transition, which was difficult, so much smoother. There were things I would have preferred to skip but they have led to a new life that is very rewarding. Be encouraged as the new year begins. If I did it, you can too.

Who knows? You may find that the plans you had for those lemons are better stirred into a different recipe.

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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