This week, another scam came into my life. This time, it was from a Tunnel Toll collection company. According to the posted they have on their website from 19 other people who have never crossed their bridge, I am not alone. I pass this along to you, dear readers, in the hope that you will not get scammed by them or someone like them. Here is my letter:
Dear Sirs or Madame:
I wish to report a miracle. It appears, based on the enclosed bill I received from you, that I was in the Norfolk area on Saturday, January 11, 2019 at 5:40 am while I was on my treadmill in Lynchburg at the same moment. Since the locations are 189.7 miles apart, I believe that this qualifies me for sainthood in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church.
Please also note that my temporary tags were about to expire, so on Friday, January 10th, I had the Virginia tags replaced with my Maryland tags while I waited the arrival of my updated sticker for my new vehicle. The tags which you say were crossing the Elizabeth River Tunnel were actually in my home in Lynchburg, as well. I am unaware if sainthood can be bestowed on cardboard, but perhaps you can check into it.
This is to say that I have no intention of paying your bill for $5.76. The photo you sent me is totally dark so unless someone in your organization has X-Ray vision, I would argue that the car in question is not mine. I do not have a self-driving car and I am reasonably certain that my car was in my driveway at the time of this event, since I used it to go somewhere local at 8 am. The car, unless it sprouted wings and flew, could not have possibly have made it back to my house in time to take me to breakfast with some friends. They can vouch for the fact that I was in Lynchburg, should that become necessary.
Please reply via snail mail that you are removing the charge of $5.76 from my account, especially since I have never crossed your bridge. (Nor do I plan to, anytime in the near future. However, should it become necessary, I will make sure I get a receipt for the toll.)
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D.
I hope this saves some of you from paying bills that you did not generate.
My shower drain got clogged up recently. No big deal, right? I let it stay that way for a while, enjoying the warm water that surrounded my feet in the shower.
Then, yesterday morning, I realized that my shower mat was getting slimy. The water was hanging around too long and the shower mat, which I bought to keep myself from falling, was slippery in a very bad way. (Is there a good way?)
What to do? I had never unclogged a drain, personally. I had seen it done but didn’t own any tools except for a hammer and a couple different screwdrivers. They didn’t appear to be the kind of tools that would help in this situation. They weren’t.
Ladies: Here’s what to do: Go to the store and get a Drain Devil. (I got mine in the hardware section of the grocery store. It cost $3. It comes rolled up inside a small package, so you might not see it immediately but keep looking. It’s a lot cheaper than a plumber.) It’s an ugly orange plastic snake-like thing with spines. You are going to straighten it out by rolling it up in the opposite direction from how it is in the package and stick it down your drain. When it won’t go any further, pull it towards yourself slowly and it will dredge up all the gunk in your drain.
Note: This is a messy job. You will probably be able to get better traction on getting out the gunk if you straddle the side of the shower and place one of your feet on the floor and the other in the shower. Do not wear nice jewelry or fine clothing when you do this. You also won’t fall into the gunk on the floor of the shower as you work if you are partly into the shower. Don’t ask.
You will need to stick it in the drain several times. The gunk didn’t get down there all at once and it isn’t going to come up that way. Baby steps. The stuff that comes up (hair, in my case) is going to be soapy and gross. Don’t hang onto it. You are not going to do performance art here- this is yucky junk. Roll it up in a paper towel and put it in the trash can. Do not put it in the toilet and flush it, or you could end up with a whole new problem.
I hope this helps you ungunk a gunky shower drain. Next time, you might want to get a drain strainer that keeps your junk from getting in the drain in the first place! (I need to listen to my own advice here. It’s going on my next shopping list, for sure!)
I recently got a new car. It’s under warranty from the auto maker, but I got a very panicked-sounding letter from the “Vehicle Services Division,” telling me that my warranty was in danger if I did not respond immediately, if not sooner.
It’s a crock of baloney. Let me tell you what they told me in their letter.
First, they told me twice, no less, that my “immediate response to this notice requested.” [Please note: They left out the verb “is”- perhaps they thought that would scare me more.]
Next, they accused me of not contacting their company to “have the vehicle service contract for your ___________ uploaded.” Sorry, folks, this is the first time I have ever heard of you. Why would I go looking for you, pray tell?
Then they told me that they had created my very own website. Why? I didn’t ask them to do that. I refer back to the thought that I have never heard of them, so why would I expect them to create my own personal website?
Additionally, they told me that “by neglecting to replace your coverage you will be at risk of being financially liable for any and all repairs after your factory warranty expires.” Yes, I assume that I would be, but my car has less than three thousand miles on it, so why would I sweat over this right now? [Note: They left off the commas with their parenthetic expression that begins “you will be at risk” and ends with “all repairs.”]
Then they told me that I have less than a month to sign up. They said “your file on this vehicle will be deleted [Oh, no, please do not delete me!] and you may not longer be eligible for this offer regarding service coverage after 3/13/2019.” [Good. The extremely fine print says you are not associated with my car manufacturer anyway.][The finer print says that all repairs would have to be pre-approved, even if I did get their coverage.]
I am reminded one final time that I must “call no later than 3/13/2019” or really bad things will happen. Their small print (that I had to put my glasses on to see) informed me that “This is an advertisement to obtain coverage.” This information is buried so completely in other legal gobbledygook I would have missed it, if my panic had set in to the degree that they had hoped. [I did not panic; I got ticked off. Poor punctuation and bad writing have a tendency to do that to me.]
Watch out folks! The bad guys are out to get you, but let me wave you off. Don’t panic when you get a piece of garbage like this. The only good thing about receiving this urgent offer was that I could share it with you. Please forward this blog posting to everyone you know, to warn them about these folks, as well. Thanks!
A friend of mine needed to wash his orange bedspread. He had never washed it before, but jammed the spread into a large-capacity washer and turned it on.
Although he took care to wash it separately from his other clothes when he went to the laundromat, he was not so careful when it came time to dry the clothes.
He felt that he could save money by dumping his whites in with the bedspread. Well, he did save money but he left the establishment with pale orange underwear and T-shirts.
He admits that the tiny bit of savings did not make up for the months he spent wearing colored undergarments. After a few months, the color faded to pale peach, which he steadfastly refused to wear and he replaced the garments.
The idea that “Yes, you must separate the colors from the dark clothes” is actually no longer etched in stone, if you purchase something called Shout’s “Color Catchers.” If you goof and mix your colors (or if you steadfastly refuse to separate the clothes), you can throw one of these sheets into your washer and re-wash the clothes.
The Color Catcher will pull the dark dye in the clothes away from your lighter colors. As it does this, the Color Catcher will turn a dark color, which beats having your clothes that color! Do not dry the clothes together, or you will have defeated the purpose of the Color Catcher catching your misplaced color. You have to dry the darks and lights separately or the problem will reassert itself.
Do not try to re-use the Color Catcher sheet. Follow the directions on the box and discard the sheet after you use it. Keep in mind that these things cost money, they do not replace your need for laundry detergent, and they do not function as fabric softeners. Their sole task is to keep your light things from turning dingy because you washed white or light clothing with dark.
Think of this as the “morning-after pill” for washing machines. Do not dry the clothes before you re-wash them, or the dinginess will be set in the clothing. If you are careful with money, it would be better to just separate your clothes and avoid the need for this product. Let me repeat: you will still need to use laundry detergent with this product and it is not a fabric softener sheet, although it looks like one. These products are not interchangeable!
Let’s say that you have decided to become the next celebrity chef….or not, but you have made the decision to begin cooking your own meals. This is great! Here are some tips to make your cleanup easier. As you begin cooking, get into the cabinets and refrigerator and take out all of the things you will need to prepare whatever it is that you are making. As you use an ingredient, don’t put it down, put it away!
By putting things back where they belong as you cook, you will make sure that you include everything in the recipe that is called for, while also cleaning the work area at the same time. When the food item is in the oven, clean the dishes and wipe down the counter top. You will find that you have a sparkling kitchen as well as a delicious meal waiting for you.
Note: There is a difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon and it really does matter which measuring spoon and measuring cup you use. The measurements are usually etched into the measuring spoons and cups, but you may need your reading glasses to see them. Don’t be lazy here, go get your glasses!
Also, be careful not to mix up sugar and salt. There is a difference between the two. One tastes good in pies and the other will gag you. (Don’t ask!) Also, there is a difference between ketchup and tomato sauce. One is great on hamburgers and the other….not so much. Do not refill your ketchup bottle with tomato sauce – or, worse yet, tomato paste! You and your guests will notice. I promise.
Cleaning the cooking pot or pan can be done while you eat; take the amount of food you want to eat, put the rest in refrigerator containers, and fill the pot or pan with dish soap and hot water while you eat. You will consume the meal and find the pot or pan much easier to clean since you have left it soaking for a few minutes. Do not leave the pot or pan soaking for any longer or you may end up leaving it for a week.
When my maternal aunt died (very young, only 53) of stomach cancer, her youngest child was only 16 years old. The young girl was the only child still at home with her father; neither of them knew anything about housekeeping. They “let dishes soak” for a week at a time, since neither of them knew how to operate their new dishwasher. Do you really want to reach into a sink of water, soap, and decaying food? I didn’t think so; clean the pots, pans, and dishes right after a meal, not days (or weeks) later.
A dishwasher is a wonderful thing. However, make sure that you are using the right product for the right appliance. Using liquid dish washing soap in a dishwasher will lead to the opportunity of having a bubble bath in your kitchen…..all over the floor. Since a foaming bath should be reserved for your bathroom, you will want to make sure that you use dishwasher soap in the dishwasher.
If there are multiple people in your household, it is very important that everyone is aware when the dishwasher contains clean dishes that are drying. I put a little note that says “dishes drying, do not open” on my counter top; this gives me a couple hours to unload the now-clean and dry dishes and prevents someone from adding a dirty dish to my clean ones. It is very hard, sometimes, to figure out which dirty dish was added to the clean ones, so the sign helps (at my house, we wash the dishes off before putting them into the dishwasher; the appliance is used more for sanitizing than actually cleaning the dishes).
There is also a product that reduces water spots left on glasses; if you have hard water, you may want to consider using it. You can get the type that is used with every wash, with every few washes, or one that is included in the dish washing compound.
If you use the dishwasher to actually clean the dishes, look them over carefully before you put them away. If there is any gunk left on the dishes, wash them off by hand and return them to the dishwasher to be sanitized. If the fork has a piece of dried, hardened spaghetti on it, putting it away dirty will lead to unhappiness when you take a fork out of the drawer next time. Do you really want to eat tonight’s dinner with a spaghetti-encrusted fork from last week? I didn’t think so.
My maiden aunt was blessed by many friends who liked to give her meals, but she didn’t eat much. She would have one meal out of a big dish and then put the rest of the food in the refrigerator where she would forget she had it (she was 93 ½ so this was forgivable). This applied to whole turkeys, casseroles, and pies.
The remains of the food she was given were in the refrigerator when we inherited the property three months after she had been put in the rehab center where she died. She was very well-liked by many considerate people who thought she had a much larger appetite than she did.
Bugs flew out of the refrigerator the first time we opened it, along with the most horrid stench you can imagine. [Decaying food had been there at least three months and was accompanied by bugs, mold, whatever….you do the math!]
Here’s more advice: if you have an elderly family member of friend who is hospitalized, offer to check on his or her house and check out the refrigerator. Immediately. Get everything out of it that has the potential of decaying or turning a peculiar color and dump it out.
Throw away all expired food. It does not get better with age; once it’s gone a few years past the sell-by date, you need to toss it or take the chance of getting food poisoning from it. [The record for expired food that I have found is eleven years past the expiration date. Please don’t try this at home!]
When the person is ready to come home from the hospital, replace what you threw away, if that’s possible. That way, you don’t have the guilt of starving the person to death and you will have done something very nice for someone who might have needed the food in his or her refrigerator.
You might also try offering to buy all new food at the store, since the fact that the food was in there for a very long time might mean the person tried it but didn’t like it. [Another side note: If the sliced bread has been in the house long enough to become one solid, petrified block, it is time to get rid of it, rather than risking a broken tooth on it.]
I hope you find these tips helpful!
Sometimes you may find yourself in the position of not having enough income to cover your mortgage. It is better to admit this sooner, rather than later.
A real estate friend of mine told me about a young couple that he knew for several years. They had purchased their first home through him, a lovely place that they really enjoyed and could easily afford.
One day, the husband lost his job. Although they had a considerable amount of equity in the house, instead of listing immediately and getting into a cheaper home, they waited until the house was being foreclosed.
After paying late fees, attorney fees, and bank charges, they found that their equity was almost totally gone. If they had gone ahead and sold their house before they got behind, they would have had a nice nest egg to carry them into their next home.
They should have been completely honest with their real estate agent. While they had called him when the hubby first became unemployed, they chose to “wait things out a bit” and by the time they called the agent back, their equity was depleted.
They should have understood that a legitimate agent is there to help them, not hurt them, and they should have been more forthcoming with their agent. The agent can only help you if he or she knows the full story of what is going on.
What stories have you heard about foreclosure woes? If you can share a story, please do not include names or locations.
I hope you had a nice day-after-my-grandmother’s-birthday. I realize that is kinda wordy, so we can call it what it was: Valentine’s Day.
Yesterday, and in the days leading up to yesterday, you couldn’t walk into a grocery store without being bombarded with beautiful flowers, aisles full of chocolate candy in heart-shaped boxes, and rows of red greeting cards. Some gas stations even got in on the deal, offering single red roses to those individuals unfortunate enough to have somehow forgotten the day. Radio stations urged listeners to buy Sherry’s Berries or something sexy in the lingerie department. All were offered gift-wrapped for free.
But what if you weren’t celebrating this formerly wonderful day, whatever the reason? Maybe your significant other passed away since last Valentine’s Day (800,000 people did). Perhaps your significant other passed on to greener fields (813,000 did, according to the U.S. Census Bureau).
Here are my suggestions for getting through whatever celebration you are no longer involved in: When entering a grocery store, keep your eyes focused on the fruit and vegetables that are just past all those lovely blossoms. Walk rapidly and do not stop, unless you are in danger of running over someone. Apply this advice to all departments of the store where celebratory items are displayed. You can do this, people. Stay out of the mall, if possible, where vendors have set up kiosks guaranteed to block your way.
A word of warning: Do not try to replicate the dinners you used to eat. I loved going to our local Italian restaurant in years past and always got Mom’s Lasagna. This year, I bought a frozen dinner and microwaved it. It was horrid! Stay out of restaurants or go very early. Otherwise, you will be surrounded by couples while you are a single.
One of my suddenly single friends told me she was celebrating the day by calling all of her single friends and telling them she loved them. Talk about getting the focus off yourself! What a great idea!
Do you have any suggestions for how to cope with the day? I would love to have you share!
Welcome to your new home! The first thing you will notice is that this is not your old home. Please note: This will be a shock. Make sure you have nightlights, at least at first, or you may zig instead of zagging on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. That could end taking you somewhere that you don’t want to be. Like down a staircase instead of into the bathroom – my grandmother broke a leg on that mistake.
I suggest unpacking a few decorative items as soon as possible, so that your new place seems more like the home you just left. Some pictures, a few knickknacks, and a floral arrangement or two can really make the place seem more homey, right from the start. When I moved recently, my friends were amazed at the speed with which I worked to make the house feel like I really lived there.
When you do this, the depression you might feel from the change in your life’s circumstances can be mitigated somewhat. You look around the room- there’s your son’s first birthday picture, or your daughter’s recital photo, or the picture your friend that overlooks the water. It seems like home, even when “home” has become a very fluid idea.
If the weather permits and the neighborhood is nice, go for a walk. Introduce yourself to the neighbors. Don’t wait for them to come to you. In this day and age, it might not happen. (I read somewhere that you should take cookies to the neighbors but that might be overkill in more ways than one, especially if your specialty is peanut butter cookies and they have a nut allergy!)
Remember how you wrapped your dishes in towels? Time to get them unpacked, so you can take a shower with a familiar towel. Getting your kitchen set up and your cooking utensils is a great way to hunker down in your new place, particularly if you are a cook.
(Confession time: I cooked for the first time last week when I made my famous chili. I had been in my new home almost a month, living on diet dinners, fruit, and cheese. It just didn’t make sense to cook for one, until I bought some new freezer containers and cooked up a batch of chili, one entree for that night and froze the rest in individual containers for later. I had enough left over for three more dinners. Success!)
So, welcome to your new digs. Enjoy your time there! I hope you will find joy in your new surroundings, even though some of the items you have with you are from a different life.
Okay, so you are getting ready to move into your new home. Congratulations on making it this far! You have made significant progress. What’s next?
Making sure you have electricity, water, trash removal, and Internet service at your new location is your next step. Folks, this is not for the faint of heart. It’s going to take some time and a whole lot of patience.
You will need to call and/or email the company in question. It will take longer than you expect because nothing will be straightforward, even though it should be. They will ask a boatload of questions, some of which seem to be completely unrelated to your need for service. (What is the name of the mortgage company of your mother’s first home, even if it was a rental. Okay, so it’s not that bad, but almost.)
Just as you think (mistakenly, as it happens) that you have finally arranged for the service you sought, they will ask you to hold on and then put on some annoying person who wants to up-sell whatever service you have arranged. The full-court press will be placed on you, so that you don’t just have Internet service, you have the quadruple, life-long, mortgage your firstborn son, super duper service that they highly recommend, instead of the low-life cheapskate service you just signed up for. (You don’t want your closest friends to think you can’t afford the better service, do you???)
When my electric company tried to up-sell their service, I hung up. It didn’t work. Someone called me back, certain that we had been disconnected by mistake. (Please note: If you hang up, the new person will try to sell you a much more expensive service. Your transaction was not complete until you hear the new person’s spiel, so stay local. It’s cheaper in the long run.)
Should you decide not to answer your phone when they call back, you will be subjected to emails. Endless emails. “Delete” has become my favorite companion on my email.
I hope you find this blog posting helpful as you complete you move. Please do chime in on your own experiences. There’s company in misery.