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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?


Dr. Sheri

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Falling Back or Springing Ahead

Hello everyone: C

In the fall, we “fall back” and in the spring time, we “spring ahead.”

You will need to know how to change the clocks in your house, unless you are fond of being either habitually early or always late, depending on the time of year.

If you have challenges figuring out how to change the time on your current clocks, you might want to purchase some clocks that automatically adjust for Daylight Saving Time.

You also need to change the time in your car; look at your owner’s manual for tips on how to do that; it’s easy, do not fear. If all else fails, go to your place of worship and ask one of the tech-savvy teens to change it for you.

If you cannot adjust your watch, go to a jewelry store in the mall and ask the folks there to give you a hand. Another option, and one I confess to using, is to have two watches. Keep one set on Eastern Standard Time and the other on Daylight Saving Time. Problem solved.


Dr. Sheri

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Money, Money, Money

Hi Everyone:

I was talking with a gal not so very long ago- a widow who had an attorney who wanted her to sign all of her money over to him. Fortunately, she took her time getting back to the attorney and talked the idea over with a trusted male friend, first.

“NO!!!” he shouted. “Do not EVER sign over your money to someone else’s care.” It turned out that several widows in that area had done that, with this very same attorney, and he left them bereft.

She demurred and still has her money today. Folks, and especially ladies, you may have been taught as a young woman to always submit to male power figures in your life, so that they could “take care of you.”

It’s time to put your big girl pants on. Yes, you may have had your financial interests “taken care of” by your significant other, but now you are on your own, sweetheart. Nobody cares for your money like you should.

Yes, I know that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Copy that, friends. Gotcha. I am not suggesting hoarding money or becoming a penny pincher. Nope.

What I am telling you is that you no longer have the protection of a male, most likely. You have to become financially savvy and you have to do it pronto. (Gentlemen, perhaps your wife always took care of the finances, so I don’t mean to exclude you, but my years of business experience and interactions with many wives at home decorating parties showed me that some of these women could not spend $5 without asking for their husband’s permission (which was never, ever granted), so bear with me here.

Double-check figures from all sources. Balance your checkbook. Keep track of expenses. When you get any legal documents, double-check those figures and do not be afraid to ask questions, even if you have to ask more than once.

You could be talking about a substantial chunk of change here, so you absolutely must be vigilant about the whole thing. Be nice, be firm, and get your questions answered. Keep asking until you understand what’s happening.

Nobody else will care as much as you do. Nobody else is going to be responsible for paying your bills. You are going to have to pay your way, and you may have to do so for the rest of your life. Ask, ask, ask, and be like the squeaky wheel until you get the answers you need. You’ve got this!

Do you have any suggestions to offer my readers on how you have handled this? I would love for you to share some tips that have worked for you. That way, we can learn from one another. Thanks in advance.


Dr. Sheri

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Lawn Mowers versus You

Hello everyone:

Lawn mowers are necessary evils, if you have a lawn. I once talked to a suddenly single gal who had no problem with lawn mowers, but she considered the weed wacker to be a frightening instrument of torture. She asked her brother or father to come over and use it for her, she was so frightened of it.

But what about lawn mowers? I have never used one, always having had a father, brother, husband, or son whose job it was to keep our lawn looking nice. For this blog, I turned to my nephew, who owns a landscaping business.

If you have your own lawn mower, make sure you know where the repair shop is before you need it! Your mower takes regular gas, unless otherwise noted. You also need to make sure that the mower has engine oil. The type of oil you will need depends on the type of mower that you have; google your kind of mower, if you cannot find the owner’s manual. The mower itself should have a sticker that tells you what kind of oil it takes, if the mower is clean enough for you to read it.

If your mower needed service, how would you get it to the shop? You need to figure this out before the lawn mower gives you problems. Would you use a small trailer, or would you seek out a repair shop that makes house calls? The former might be excessively bothersome and the latter might be unavailable in your area. I suggest googling this, to see what type of service is in your location.

Make sure that whoever services your lawn mower is reputable. We once had a friend do the service, trying to help him get started in his own business. After spending a couple hundred dollars with the man, my hubby took the mower home, used it to mow one line of grass in our yard, and the mower stopped. Permanently. Since a friend had fixed it, he was too embarrassed to say anything, so he took the mower to the dump and bought a new one. Friends are wonderful but sometimes they are not the best choice for getting something fixed.

One way to forestall any challenges is for your mower to have regular checkups. Your regular service for the mower includes changing the oil, changing the sparkplugs, sharpening the blades, getting the mower winterized if it will be sitting unused for more than one month, and draining the gas when the mower is not going to be used for a while. 

You need to have a trusted friend or neighbor that you can ask about the mower and its needs. Find him or her now, pre-need. Then get a professional to take care of your mower.


Dr. Sheri

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Tools are Great Tools: Focusing on Wrenches and Screwdrivers

Hello everyone:

Wrenches: These are not Renaissance Festival Gals

Wrenches, according to Wikipedia, are used to “provide grip and mechanical advantage in applying torque to turn objects- usually rotary fasteners such as nuts and bolts- or to keep them from turning.”  While they may sound similar to those barely-dressed women at Renaissance Festivals (aka wenches), they are not. You need to have one or two on hand (the tools, not the scantily-clad women), in case of mechanical difficulties.

Wrenches would be helpful to have in your tool box, if you need to put something together, such as furniture or a bike, and if you need to be able to hold onto something with one hand and turn something else with the other hand.

Wrenches give you enough strength (aka torque) to tighten the bolts well enough so that the baby seat that you put on the back of your bicycle doesn’t leave the baby dumped out on the street when the whole thing falls apart because you didn’t use a wrench to put it together correctly.

(Yes, I did put one together many moons ago, but I used a wrench, did it correctly, and my son never got unceremoniously chucked into the street. For that, he was extremely grateful and I was greatly relieved.)

Screwdrivers: Don’t Use Them As Chisels

Screwdrivers are good for screwing and unscrewing screws. They should not be used as chisels or crowbars because that will damage the tip of the screwdriver.

This means that, when you go to use the screwdriver as a screwdriver, it won’t work because it will no longer fit into the place where it needs to go.

If you need a chisel for something, buy a chisel. If you need a crowbar to get into something, buy a crowbar. Don’t use your beloved screwdriver.

Use the screwdriver to tighten and loosen screws. If you use a screwdriver in place of a crowbar, you can damage the shaft, making it useless.

Two of the most common types of screwdrivers are the Phillips head screwdriver which looks like a star on the tip and the flat head screwdriver looks, well, flat. Look at whatever it is you wish to screw to see what type of screwdriver it will need.

Please note that screwdrivers come in different sizes; the screwdriver you use to fix your eye glasses is not the same size that you would use to fasten the screws on the picnic table you are putting together, for example.

Use caution when using a screwdriver because it can slip off whatever you are using it to screw on (or off) and end up puncturing your skin. (Voice of experience.) Take your time and don’t rush things.


Dr. Sheri

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Dressers are Just Hunks of Wood

Hello everyone:

How are you going to divide your personal property among your children? A woman I know lost her mother after a brief illness. The elderly woman had not told her daughters who she wanted to have her chest of drawers; it apparently had not occurred to her that all three of her girls wanted it.

One of the daughters removed the dresser from her mother’s home; the others have spent years trying to get it away from her. They refuse to speak to one another; they do not invite each other to family gatherings and they no longer talk on the phone.

The sisters are missing the rest of each other’s lives because none of them is willing to back down. It may have been important at one time, but it really is just a piece of wood, when it comes right down to it.

Would a compromise be possible, such as “you have the dresser one year and I will take it the next year”? Whoever survives the longest gets to keep the dresser. This is kind of like musical chairs, with the prize being the dresser.  

Speaking of wood, I once had a decorating customer who was upset about some wooden sconces. The finish wasn’t quite right, so she thought she would call me…on Christmas Day! Folks, again, this is just wood. Yes, I took care of her but, really, calling a independent consultant on Christmas???

Again, this is just some wood. The really important things in life aren’t things. They are people. I told one of my dear friends the other day that the most important people in my life are my family: my sons, their wives, my grandsons, and my siblings and their spouses and children. Of course, my father is still a very important part of my life, as well. Without our family and friends, we might as well pack it in, as they say.

You may have lost your spouse to death, disease, or divorce, and my heart goes out to you. But what (or, more vitally, who) is still in your life? Embrace them and love them. Be grateful for those who love and care for you. Thank God every day that they are a part of your life.

You know, we are going through transitions, you and I. Things can get pretty scary and lonely but we are going to make it!


Dr. Sheri

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Coming Home with the Right Number of Balloons

Hello everyone:

I heard a great story Sunday morning. Our worship ministry assistant was telling us about how her hubby was supposed to bring home five balloons for their son’s 6-month birthday, but he only managed to make it home with one. Here’s how the story went:

The hubby was tasked with one thing for his son’s birthday party: go to the dollar store and get five helium-filled balloons. So he went off, confident in his ability to do the job.

When he got the balloons from the dollar store worker, however, the balloons were not tethered together and one immediately headed for the ceiling. The worker said something to the effect of “tough break, dude.” And the man walked away.

Hubby went on his way, minus one of the balloons, but with a good excuse. He walked outside, where the wind was blowing very hard and, you guessed it, he lost two more balloons.

He made his way to the car, struggling to keep his remaining balloons and then get them into the car. Wind vortexes being what they are, two more balloons evaded hubby’s grasp.

A few minutes later, he went into the house, with only one balloon in hand. His wife was quite annoyed with him, and really let him have it. It wasn’t until later that she realized that he might have had a very rough 20 minutes and asked him about it. He told the story as you have read it.

Here’s the point: You never know what someone else is going through. You don’t know what happened to their four other balloons, so don’t pre-judge someone. Listen to their story and then decide.

It happens with divorced folks all the time. People pre-judge without listening to their side of the story. There are always two sides but,. sometimes, the person who stays behind gets all the attention while the person who left is ignored and not listened to. Food for thought.


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.


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.


Dr. Sheri

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

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All Things Work Together

Hello everyone:

I was thinking this morning that “all things work together for good,” but my treadmill was not participating in that, the last time I visited Florida (which was just this past weekend!).

It seems that the little fellow felt overworked a couple of months ago and he gave up the ghost at 9.5 miles out of what I had hoped would be a ten-mile run. Since the model was sold to my brother in 2002, it’s a good bet that it can’t be repaired.

Before I had the knowledge of its advanced age, though, I did try a few things. First, I checked the circuit breaker, to see if it had been tripped. The machine just stopped dead in my tracks, without any warning. Nope, the circuit breaker was fine.

Then I flipped the drop strip that I have my computer plugged in to. Nope, it was fine. I checked the wall outlet. Again, everything was hunky dory, peachy keen, no problemo.

Those are the steps I would take to try and figure out why something stopped, and I would do (and did do) before calling a repair person. When you have an appliance break down, these are steps you can take, but keep in mind that you need to make sure that you have rubber-soled shoes on your feet and that you aren’t standing in water as you try these quick-fix remedies.

Time for a true confession: One time, rather long ago, I decided to vacuum a wet carpet. Not my best move, as you might imagine. I was also barefoot. Again, not the wisest thing I have ever done. I felt this tingly feeling but still did not put two and two together in any meaningful way. And then it hit me. You might say, it hit me like a lightening bolt (or a shock from the outlet): the tingly feeling was my being shocked. Never a good thing and no, you will not stay young longer if you are electrocuted. You won’t stay around, period. The good news is that I wised up really, really fast.


Dr. Sheri

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