: Widows & Widowers

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.


Dr. Sheri

Read more

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!


Dr. Sheri

Read more

Push the Right Button or You’ll be Sitting in Your Car for a Long Time

Hello everyone:

A lovely middle-aged woman was at our local food store recently, when she realized that her car wouldn’t start.

She asked everyone in sight if they had experience with a keyless car starter. Fortunately, I had just such a car. I asked her what was wrong, and this Suddenly Single gal told me that she had just replaced her vehicle and had forgotten how to start it.

After we laughed about her senior moment, I asked her to show me what she had been doing that hadn’t worked.  She got behind the wheel of her car, and began pushing a button on the dashboard.

I calmly told her that she had been pushing her radio button. It did not respond because the car wasn’t turned on. I told her to put her foot on the brake and then to push the button that was right next to the steering column. It was marked “push button to start car.”

Things worked a lot better when she pushed the appropriate button, but it was a primary example of what sometimes happens when you are now on your own. In the past, she would have called her hubby; now, she was completely dependent on the mercy of total strangers. She left the area, happier and wiser.

One time, I was unfortunate enough to have a keyless car that wouldn’t turn on. After a trip through the car owner’s manual, I realized that sometimes the car computer needed rebooting. By holding the keys in my hand and next to the car start button for a few minutes, the car fixed itself (without a costly trip to the car dealership) and the car’s keyless starter started working again. When all else fails, look at your owner’s manual.


Dr. Sheri

Read more

How to Pack a Car More Fully Than You Ever Thought Possible

Hi folks:

I needed to move three very large bookcases full of books into a new home recently. If things were kept in even the smallest of packing boxes, I couldn’t lift them. What was I to do? Today’s blog posting will tell you how I did it, and how I got 81 containers of books into the back of a RAV4. Stay local.

The first thing I did was to weed out and give away some books I didn’t want or would enjoy giving to others. That got me down to about 2 1/2 bookcases of books. (I was an English major. We are all “about” our books!)

Then I took the remaining books and put them in plastic bags from the grocery, making sure that I didn’t overload each bag. Putting too many books in a bag would strain not only the bag but me as well, so I quickly learned that I could put five hardcover books or about eight paperbacks in a plastic bag without making the bag impossible to keep intact.

The next step was to load them in my car. Since the bags took up a lot less room than a box of books would, I was able to load them into every nook and cranny in my car.

Packing bags that contained big books on the bottom of my seat, medium books in the middle of the stack, and smaller books on the top of the stack in my car meant that the whole pile was more stable (smaller books could be loaded in double wide). [Note: You may have to seat belt the books in, if your car gives you a hard time about the weight on the seat.]

Is this the best way to move books? No, boxes would probably be better but, knowing that my helpers were delicate women and that I would unpack the car alone, it did indeed work. All of the books made it to their new home in pristine condition, I got a lot of books moved in one trip, and my mission was accomplished.

If you have any suggestions on the topic of moving, I would love to hear what your ideas are!


Dr. Sheri

Read more

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.


Dr. Sheri

Read more

Adding Windshield Wiper Fluid

Hello everyone:

It’s not difficult to add windshield wiper fluid. You can do it! Here’s how:

Pull your hood release, and open the hood of the car. The place to put your windshield washer fluid is usually on the passenger’s side of the car, under the hood.

There will be a little cap that has a windshield wiper picture on it. Turn the cap to open it (righty, tighty; lefty, loosey) and then add the washer solvent to the now-exposed tube that leads into the container that holds your washer fluid.

Fill the container completely up, waiting a few seconds before you put the cap back on. You want the fluid to settle into the container (it might need to burp, just like you do when you drink a lot of water, so give it a few moments).

Put the cap back on the car’s container, making sure that you turn it until it clicks. This cap keeps other things out of the fluid, so it is important that you get the cap back on correctly.

Do not try to use regular water in the windshield wiper fluid container; use the product that is sold for that purpose.

[Note: One gas station I visited had something weird in its bucket for cleaning windshields. I think it might have been dish soap, though I have never been certain. It was nasty stuff and got all over my car, requiring that I go wash the car. There was a car wash right next to the gas station, so you do the math here!]


Dr. Sheri

Read more

Clothing Woes: Don’t be Too Quick to Empty the Closet

Hello everyone:

Some men rush to immediately give away their deceased wife’s clothing.  Try not to be in too big a hurry here, or you may find that someone who could have really used the clothes has been overlooked. Offer them to your children first; you never know when some jacket or shirt has a special meaning to your kids.

However, do not try to force the clothing on your children; the size or style is probably wrong for them, and you should not do a guilt trip on them for not wanting the clothing.

Make the offer but let the matter drop if they say they don’t want it; it will not bring your spouse back and they are grieving, as well.

After your children have had the chance to look through the clothing or simply say “no thanks,” consider people you know who might appreciate having them. Is there a clothing bank at your church or do you know of a ministry in your community that could use the clothing?

When my aunt died, we offered her clothes to some nearby neighbors who had been nice to my relative. As it turned out, the mother-in-law of one of our neighbors was exactly my aunt’s size.

That woman’s winter coats were pretty much worn out and she had been considering buying new ones. My aunt had several coats and jackets that were in excellent shape (she took good care of her clothes) and we were able to pass them along for the other gal to enjoy. 

It felt wonderful to help someone’s mother, especially since those folks had been so nice to my aunt for many years. The rest of her clothing was a bit dated, so we took it to the local Help Center and got a tax deduction for the donation.

When my mother died, we were able to pass some of her lightweight coats to her best friend, who was a similar size. The rest of the clothes were given to a charity that resells used clothing in order to help support retired teachers. My mother had been a high school English teacher at one time, so we really felt like we were reaching back to help out her kind of folks!

The mantra here is: check things out before you dump things out. It would have been such a waste if we just thrown out her clothing, thinking no one would have any use for those things. The teachers’ group even accepted Mom’s old shoes and purses.


Dr. Sheri

Read more

Spider Legs and Burglar Alarms

Hi folks:

What do spider legs and burglar alarms have in common? Not much, unless they awaken you at 2:30 am.

This is what happened to me recently. I have installed a nifty little gadget that tells me via my cellphone if anyone is trying to visit me without an invitation. It gives a cool little smarmy tone when that is happening.

Usually I welcome the advanced notice, except when I am in a deep sleep. Then I sit bolt upright and hope that it is deer instead of danger lurking in my yard.

I am usually the recipient of nocturnal visits from Bambi and friends, but not so that night. Nope, I couldn’t tell who or what was there.

I got instant freeze-dried feet and a pounding in my chest…. And, then, I saw it. (Or, actually, them). The legs of a huge spider climbing all over the camera in my alarm. Relief was quickly followed by “oh, gross!!!”

The good news is that the offending critter was outside. The bad news was that I would be going outside later that morning. I had no desire to find the ginormous bug dropping into my hair (my mother had a chameleon drop into her hair, once when I was a child, but I digress). (Second digression: please note that my mother was inside our house at the time.)

I did get back to sleep a while later, happy that it was a spider and not a mad, bad, escaped criminal who wished me ill, but the thought still remains: Where did he (or she) go?


Dr. Sheri

Read more

Cooking Versus Eating Out

Hello everyone:

I heard a story many years ago about a young woman just starting out in the business world, after spending a few years as a new mother. She was getting ready for a big, important business meeting the next day, so she carefully laid out the outfit she would wear.

She knew she wouldn’t have time to prepare a big breakfast before she left in the morning, so she bought some jelly donuts and made a pot of coffee before she went to bed that night.

When she got up in the morning, she put on her outfit, only to have one of the kids spit up on it. She hadn’t planned on needing a backup plan, but pulled on her second-best outfit, grabbed a jelly donut, and put a mug of coffee in the microwave.

She punched some numbers on the appliance, looked hurriedly over her notes, and grabbed the steaming mug as she ran out the door (this was before the days of travel mugs).

When she got to her car, she set the coffee on her dashboard, pulled on her seat belt, and put the car in gear. Crash! She hit one of the kid’s tricycles that had been parked behind her car. Sadly, as she had backed up, she had taken a bite of the jelly donut. As she slammed into the tricycle, the hot coffee fell into her lap, and she squeezed the jelly donut in pain. 

A friend of mine went to a local donut store and had breakfast. He decided to get some donuts for the office and also decided to eat one as he left the store’s parking lot.

He took a huge bite of a filled donut, only to realize that the filling was rancid. He tossed the donut out his car window, only to suddenly notice that someone was driving by with his window open just as my friend tossed the partially-eaten donut out his window.

It landed on the passerby’s face…..not a good day for him, either. What is the morale of the two donut stories? Eat breakfast at home and stay away from donuts…..

Now, what about the other meals in your day? Eating out a lot can really play havoc with your budget. Be careful here. That $10.00 lunch times five days a week is fifty dollars times four is $200 a month, just for lunch. Ditto with dinner. Add a tip and you are spending a lot of cash.

What’s a suddenly single person to do? I suggest allowing yourself two lunches out per week and brown bagging it the rest of the week. The thirty dollars a week turns into $120 per month and that’s a nice piece of pocket change.

With dinners, I cook a pot of stew or soup and divide it into plastic freezer containers. Each pot makes 4-5 dinners. Take the frozen soup out of the freezer before you go to work, so that it is ready to heat up that evening. Add some bread and fruit and you have a healthy meal that won’t bankrupt you and that is probably healthier than whatever someone with a big appetite at a restaurant will serve you.

When I do go out to dinner, I ask for a to-go box and split the dinner in half, whenever possible. That gives me two meals for the price of one and it allows me two meals that I didn’t have to cook (cooking is not my “thing.” I eat to live; I don’t live to eat).

What tips can you offer my readers?


Dr. Sheri

Read more

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.


Dr. Sheri

Read more