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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

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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

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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

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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.


Dr. Sheri

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Unspousing Your House: does the New Show have Merit?

Hello everyone:

The love of your life is no longer with you, after being a huge part of your life for many years. Where do you go from here? The temptation is to keep everything exactly like he or she had it, and that may work for a while. At some point in time, you will need new shoes that he or she hasn’t seen, new clothing that your beloved spouse hasn’t helped you pick out, and new furnishings for your home. Holding onto everything you had before might be comforting, but it will not bring that dear spouse back.

You are not being disloyal if you replace worn out shoes or buy clothing in your new size (you may gain or lose weight, depending on your personal style of grieving). Start small, but realize that eventually you will need to replace the worn bedspread on your former marital bed. This is simply practical, since a bedspread that is falling apart may not seem important but a new cover will actually lift your spirits (okay, I am a former decorator and old habits are hard to break- I would find a new bedspread incredibly encouraging).

Let’s try a different approach here: a disintegrating bedspread is bad for your lungs. When my dad finally replaced his marital bedspread, he found it remarkably uplifting. Dad kept the old bedspread on the chair next to my mom’s side of the bed because he was not yet ready to dispose of it. Keeping the spread for three years made the new spread easier to accept and enjoy. When the time finally came, his caregiver threw it away when he wasn’t looking. He’s forgotten he ever had it, now that he has dementia.  

When you are ready, go ahead and get rid of extra furniture that clutters the house but is not used. In their later years, my parents had a hobby of going to estate sales and buying new things that they thought would be fun to have. As a result of many years of doing this, they had a television in every room (but only watched two of them).  Only two of their sets actually worked when digital televisions came into being. My mom was gone for a full year before we convinced Dad to get rid of the excessive sets.

He also took the step of throwing out an unused chair that had rotting upholstery (they had gotten the chair for free but never sat on it and never replaced the fabric covering it). It was a huge step later when he sold an old kitchen table and chair set and got a new one.

The changes have been small but, after several years, he finally got to the place where he could comfortably give away things he never used. If he did it, you can too!

One word of warning: if you ever decide to remarry, your new spouse will not appreciate your telling him or her “but Annie liked things this way” when your spouse tries to redecorate. If you cannot accept the remodeling of your house by your new spouse, move! (This is actually a good idea, if it is in your budget. That way, the new home is “ours” rather than “yours” or “mine.”)

There’s a new show on HGTV (my go-to network) that’s called Unspouse Your House. I’ve watched it a few times out of curiosity and see how it might be a good idea, especially for someone who is continuing to reside in the marital home. I know a guy who un-decorated his house, even to removing the shower curtains. This may seem a bit extreme but, if it made him feel better, more power to him. If redecorating makes you feel better and you feel ready to do it, then go for it and enjoy your new old home.


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?


Dr. Sheri

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Clogged Drains in the Bathtub can become Slimy: This Should Not be Your Goal

Hello everyone:

A clogged drain is not a particularly difficult challenge. All you need for a simple clog is a wire clothes hanger, opened up to its full length. Keep the hook crocked, so that you have something to hang on to. Put a smaller hook in the opposite end of the hanger. Thread the end with the smaller hook down the recalcitrant drain, twist it in circles several times, and pull the entire glob of gunk out of the drain.

You might have a buildup of hair and other items in the drain. You might actually be surprised by what you find down there, clogging up the works. You can also buy a Drain Devil, which is a piece of plastic that has serrated edges that allow it to pick up the gunk in your drain as you snake it down the pipes. You do basically the same thing as you would with the hanger, but you don’t have to destroy a hanger to do it.

(Keep a paper towel handy, to wrap the mess in. You won’t want to touch it any more than necessary.) You will want to throw this gunk in the garbage immediately; make sure you seal it in a Ziploc bag when you dispose of it or it will stink up the house.

Keep whatever you used to unclog your drain; don’t throw it away because this will happen again.

Do not EVER use muriatic acid on your pipes. When it is poured down a drain, it smokes, it smells, it gives off dangerous gas, and it doesn’t always work. It can kill you and yours. Do not take a chance on it.

What is the other option? If you don’t unclog your drain, the water in the bathtub will back up and it will be soapy. It will get on the floor of your shower or bathmat and it will become slimy. (Note that, if it is already slimy, time will not improve its condition. You will need to clean the mat or shower floor after you unclog the pipes, or you could have a slipping hazard.)


Dr. Sheri

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Repaint to Resell

Hello everyone:

Yes, you truly love the color you painted the living room eons ago, but it is time to repaint, if you want to sell the family homestead.

One of our family friends died recently and his children decided to put his condo up for sale. Their emotional attachment to the property was immense, so much so that they decided to put it on the market for $40,000 above the price of comparable units. They did nothing to it, mind you.

The condo had not been painted since the parents moved in and its age was obvious. The flooring was old and worn out, the carpeting was threadbare in places and stained in others.  The kitchen had the original builder-grade quality cabinets and linoleum; the condo was on the ground floor of a property that had been flooded by several big storms.

The property did not meet the upgraded standards of other units in the same complex. They were selling it as “for sale by owner” to save the real estate commission. After several unsuccessful months on the market, they reduced the price and then they reduced it again.

The last reduction was accompanied by placing the property with a real estate agent, but they are still overpriced for the area and have had no takers for this well-worn condo. I saw the property recently and it still needed new carpets and a fresh coat of paint throughout.

Also, although you may absolutely love the mermaid you personally (and without any artistic training) hand painted on your kids’ bathroom wall, prospective buyers may find it horrid. You absolutely need to paint over it in a neutral tone.

The bright yellow hair and crooked smile may be charming to you, but it could gag the people walking into your bathroom for the first time. (I actually saw this on a make-over show. The woman was almost in tears as she removed the huge mermaid, while her husband stood by to comfort her.)

If you decide to repaint, keep in mind that any pictures you take down may need to be rehung when you are finished.  Get someone at your local hardware store or a friend who has experience in hanging pictures to teach you how to find a stud in the wall, how to use the proper screws and anchors, and how to get things perfectly level so that you can do the job right. If you do the work incorrectly, the area behind your pictures may look like the shoot-out at the OK Corral when you are finished. You want things to stay in place, be secure, and look great, so ask for help if you need it.


Dr. Sheri

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A Love Story for the Ages

Hello everyone:

Please visit a love story with me for a few moments. He was a catch- 6’2″ tall, black hair, and bright blue eyes. She was on the Homecoming court at Akron U. Gorgeous, with light brown hair and root beer eyes!

They met on a blind date, after her sister and her boyfriend set them up when the gal’s boyfriend broke up with her so that he wouldn’t have to take her out to dinner and buy her a gift. I’m glad the former boyfriend was a cheapskate for reasons that will become obvious very soon.

So they were introduced. They talked all evening. She found out later that, when he got home, he called all the girls he was dating and told them he couldn’t see them anymore. He had one girl he liked to take dancing because she was a good dancer, another he liked to take bowling because she always had a great game, and another the liked to take to movies because she was fun to hold hands with in the dark.

He told them all the same thing: “I can’t see you any more because I’ve just met the woman I’m going to marry.” Three days later, he brought over an engagement ring and his proposal was accepted. They got married seven months later.

Four children, six grandchildren, six great grandchildren, and sixty-seven years later, they were still wildly in love. After a brief illness, she died. He was devastated. I know this special love story well because it is the story of my parents.

Do my widows or widowers have any special tales they would like to tell? I would love to hear from you.


Dr. Sheri

P.S. This picture is not of my parents; it is a sock picture from unsplash, but aren’t they a cute couple?

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Hidden Treasures: Money, Money, Money

Hi folks:

One of my friends had an elderly grandfather who grew up during the depression and he didn’t trust banks. As a result, he kept a great deal of money at his house.

One day when she was vacuuming, he told her to be careful around the drapes. When she asked why, he told her that he had money pinned to the bottom of the inside of the curtains. He also had additional money hidden throughout the house but he refused to say exactly where it was.

When he died, he still hadn’t told anyone. His wife and family never did locate the hidden stash. It is still hidden. He was a good hider! If you are hiding money, make sure that someone in your family knows where it is or the money could be lost to your family forever.

When cleaning out my aunt’s house, we discovered money hidden in magazines. She had tucked over $1,000 away for a rainy day, but none of it was in the same place. There was a $20 bill here, another there, all over her house.  

She also grew up during the depression and realized it was important to have money in case the banks were not open. We also found family members’ death certificates in old magazines, so be very careful when going through an older person’s belongings.

Also, some of the elderly person’s furniture might be valuable.  If you are not good at valuing antiques, find someone who is. Don’t just throw things out.

Do you have tales of woe regarding hidden treasures? I would love to share your experiences with my readers!


Dr. Sheri

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