(The accompanying photo is gratuitous cuteness of my grandson and his buddy in Munchkin Costumes and has nothing to do with the blog.)
Tonight my husband and I will join another couple in Ashland, Virginia where they close the roads next to the Railroad Tracks for Trick or Treaters. On either side of the tracks are lovely old homes with lots of scary stories attached to them. Like the signal man who was killed on the job and now sits (all bloody and gross) on a porch waving his lamp. I think that one is true.
I suspect there are some millennials in Colorado who still tell the tale of the haunted limousine. It all started when our neighbors down the street started a limo company. Well one of those limos had a sun roof. My husband and the other guy decided it would be hilarious to park the limo in a dark driveway, get all ghouly, and then pop out of the top when kids came up the driveway. The Limo Massacre got the desired results and then some. One kid did a backward somersault down the driveway, Skittles and mini Snickers flying every which-a-way. Another wet her costume. This was all going on while me and the wife of the other guy took our kids around the neighborhood. As the evening progressed we started to hear, “Hey man, don’t go near the limo!”
Our 5-little trick or treaters ranged in age from 2 to 7. The older three ran ahead of us and stopped at houses with an amazing degree of efficiency coupled with the mandatory manners so as not to get yanked home.
The two-year old, my son, was quite tall for his age and speech delayed because of ear troubles. The three-year-old was abnormally small for her age and very precocious. She was dressed as Elmo, he was dressed as a two-year-old on a cold Colorado night. The two young ones would walk up to the houses together. The little girl would say, just as cute as you please, “Happy Halloween! Trick or Treat, I’m Elmo!” My son would say, “Gah!” The other mom almost wet her costume after a couple of houses with those two. I happen to know she needed a good laugh after eating an entire bag of Smarties in an unusual loss of self control.
Besides the Halloween when I was 12 and Mike Uzzo cracked an egg over my head, this is the Halloween that will remain etched on my memory.
For the record, the guys only performed the Limo Massacre once. But folks in Longmont, Colorado say those ghouls still appear every year on Halloween and no one knows who they are. Hey man, don’t go near the Limo!
Thank you for visiting.
My husband and I enthusiastically offered to keep my sister-in- law’s dog at our house while she and her
husband attended a wedding further North.
Mollie is a Shetland Sheepdog. I think technically she’s considered a Blue Merle, but she’s white with
markings on her head and cute as hell. She looks like a cotton ball on very tiny legs. She’s also very
ladylike which is a sharp contrast to our 18-month- old Boston Terrier, Beans. They’re the Beauty and the
Beast of the K9 world with a large dose of hyperactivity thrown in. We found ourselves yelling at Beans
more than usual simply because of the contrast in styles.
This translated into pretty much every doglike behavior. When Mollie drinks, her little pink tongue juts
out quickly and quietly with not a drop left on the floor to show her efforts. Beans sticks his whole face
into the bowl, slurps loudly, and trails water all over the house. Sometimes he wipes his face on the cat’s
head, which is hilarious! Oddly enough the “Cat From Hell” doesn’t seem to care.
When we let the dogs outside to do their business, Beans took off like a bat outta hell and popped a
squat almost immediately. Mollie delicately worked her way down the stairs and was immediately
assaulted by Beans who apparently wanted to help. We started taking them out separately in deference
to Mollie’s feminine sensibilities. We also fed them separately. This was not because the dogs have poor
mat manners but because the CFH always horns in.
Beans wanted to play non-stop. He loves to share a tug toy with anything that moves and was constantly
offering Molly the other end of a rubber ring, which she declined. Beans has amazingly strong jaws and
can tug with a great deal of force, in fact I don’t even play tug with him. Mollie preferred sitting on our
laps and looking pretty, understandably so. But there was an incredibly sweet moment near the end of
the visit when Mollie went into her crate, came out with a fuzzy toy, and offered one end to Beans.
Beans gently took the other end and played “tug” on Mollie’s terms. Beans may be obnoxious but
apparently, he’s not stupid. Maybe that’s why my husband and I are so goofy in love with this dog.
With guest pets, much like children, there is always the issue of different homes, different rules. Mollie
is fed treats; which Beans is not. Mollie barks a lot more than Beans. During Mollie’s visit, Beans’ default
was, “when in doubt bark with the other dog because there must be something going on that I don’t
know about.” This created the effect of Beans hoping around, barking his fool head off, with a confused
look on his face.
Mollie’s people came back for her on Sunday night and I’m sure she was glad to see them. She’ll be back
for Thanksgiving and I’d like to think Beans and the CFH will be glad to see her. I’m not so sure about
Mollie, but I hope she enjoys the change of pace if nothing else.
Thank you for visiting.
The reunion of my best girlfriends from high school can now be called an “annual event.” That’s because
technically you can’t call something an annual event until it’s happened twice. Last year I hosted the
inaugural, and while I enjoyed the company, it’s more fun to be a guest.
This year’s hostess invited us to her vacation home in Bethany Beach, Delaware and specified we were
welcome any time after 4:00 PM. Apparently, we were all raised right because no one was early. I left
after work and was the last to arrive at about 10:00 PM.
Every hellish minute in I-95 traffic was worth it when I was greeted by six screaming ladies on the front
porch, brandishing wine glasses. Each of them embraced me in turn and continued to scream their
greetings in my ear. If you’re ever feeling low, be the last one to arrive at a reunion of half-tanked high
school friends. It’s an amazing ego boost. At that point in the festivities the air conditioner repairman
might have gotten the same reaction, but I’ll take the love just the same.
I was offered food and beverages immediately by my amazing hostess. This was the girl in high school
who most guys wanted to date but got too tongue tied in her presence to form the words. Strangely enough, all that adoration never went to her head. To this day that amazes me. After all the screaming had stopped she took me by the hand, looked very seriously into my eyes and said, “Would you like some chocolate lava cake?”
I turned down the chocolate lava cake but managed to drink waaaay too much Prosecco. So much so
that I fell out of my bunk and had to be tended to by the group’s remaining cogent person. Thank you
Dr. P. I owe you one. She informed me the next morning that I speak fluent Wookie. Who knew?
The rest of the weekend was wonderful. Time on the beach, good food, nonstop talking. I’m still
touched by the memories we all own of each other. It’s like the various puzzle pieces form a complete
We talked a lot about parenting; the way we were parented, the way we parent our kids, and the way
our kids are raising their own kids. I’m more convinced than ever that having a safe and stable home life
is the most important gift you can give a child. It doesn’t have to fit traditional models, but simple
stability is crucial. I’m in awe of the women who could create stable and loving homes when that was
not their experience growing up.
I’m hoping to raise a glass of Presecco among these precious friends for many years to come. We should
probably take turns being the last one to arrive.
Thank you for visiting,
Many years ago during a television interview with the actress Bonnie Hunt, she said her family used the “Door Bell” method of housekeeping. You don’t bother to clean until the doorbell rings. While I don’t personally subscribe to this method, I do appreciate it.
I feel strongly about guests showing up early. I am strongly against it. Unless you’re having a medical emergency—in which case you should probably go to the hospital first—please don’t come to my house or event one second ahead of the stated time.
I was reminded of this concept several times in the last couple of weeks. I went to a baby shower in Jersey where half the guests showed up early. What is that all about? Is it a Jersey thing? The baby Grandma was rushing around trying to put the finishing touches on a lovely venue and was forced to entertain at least two dozen people ahead of schedule. Another friend of mine was hosting house guests who gleefully texted they’d hit the road sooner than expected and would be hours early. What! For God sakes, take the scenic route! Yet another acquaintance works weddings. She told me about an event just last weekend when many of the guests arrived at the reception venue half an hour early and actually banged on the doors. When she did let them in several people demanded mixed drinks even before the bar was set up.
For those of you who don’t get it, here’s the deal. Most of us mortals don’t keep a spotless house and must prepare for visitors. I take pride in presenting a clean home or well prepared venue. My mother used to say it should look like a stage set when folks walk in and then everything can go to hell. This prep takes a certain amount of time and scheduling because I have other stuff going on. Some of us also have pets so it doesn’t make sense to start cleaning a moment too soon because all will be re-fuzzed within minutes. When I’m done cleaning and prepping food, I like to enjoy a glass of wine while I prep myself. If you show up early, I miss the one part of party prep I enjoy.
Many people will say, “I thought you might need help so I came early”. If I need help, believe me I’ll ask for it in advance. I’ve never been accused of martyrdom. If you volunteer and I politely decline, I’m not being polite, I really don’t want you early. No one is that helpful. Some people will assume their bond with the hosts is strong enough that it doesn’t matter if they show up early and just hang out. Unless you’re still in the womb, there is no bond strong enough for an early arrival.
I realize I’m a little crazy about time. I worked in the television news business for many years where every second was accounted for. Time really WAS money! The only exception was 16 years ago when the clock stopped and we threw revenue to the wind in order to supply a platform for our community to grieve.
My family tells me this television-time perspective has left me with an unhealthy attitude toward punctuality on both ends of the punctal spectrum. OK, I can live with that.
Do you mind people showing up early? Don’t you cherish those last few moments when you can look around your house and admire your work while sipping Prosecco and applying mascara? In my husband’s case, it’s drinking beer and watching whatever sport is on TV (sorry son, I know you hate stereotypes but it’s true.)
Thank you for visiting, and not a moment too soon.
There have been many occasions when, instead of hosting a dinner party at home, my husband and I have taken people out to eat. There are some obvious incentives, not the least of which is less prep on my part.
We usually pick somewhere we’ve been before. We are fortunate that Richmond is in a restaurant renaissance. That may sound pretentious…until you go to one of the amazing eateries popping up like yummy mushrooms and try the chef’s take on soft- shell crab, fried green tomatoes, or tres leche cake. Then you’ll say, “That’s not pretentious, that’s delicious!”
When hosting we make it clear it’s our treat. If the guest offers to pick up a round of drinks or the tip, I think it’s OK to accept graciously. If they don’t, that’s OK too. Guests should not feel obligated. The only thing I absolutely cannot abide is a tussle over the bill. My husband’s family has mastered this sport. One relative literally ripped a bill in half trying to wrestle it from my husband. Frankly, I would have given it to her gladly! And I’m not talking about the bill. But I digress.
I think hosts should offer to drive and be mindful of their alcohol intake. If a guest has a compelling reason to drive, I think that’s all right too and the offer should be gratefully accepted. It’s a funny thing, when people hear I’m supposed to drive they become very keen on providing the transportation themselves. I’ve been known to back into things.
If possible, we make reservations to prevent a wait. Needless to say, everyone should do their best to be on time. There is nothing more stressful than chasing a reservation at a popular place because your guest wasn’t ready. If there is no emergency, there is only one reason for keeping people waiting. And that is because you’re a jerk.
I often see complaints in etiquette columns from hosts whose guests have ordered expensive entrees. I don’t quite get this. I assume that if my hosts have invited me to a restaurant, they can afford to feed me. I don’t think it would be polite to order a take home meal for the babysitter, but if it’s on the menu it’s fair game. No pun intended. Same for drinks and various courses.
Unfortunately we have hosted guests at restaurants where the service is bad. Although the host has no control over this variable, I always feel awkward about bad service, as if I were the one holding things up. What does one do? You don’t want to bring attention, but it gets to that awkward point when everyone is hungry. It’s like an elephant in the room that you wish were on your plate. On one occasion when the drinks hadn’t shown up after 45 minutes, we got up and left. I think the arrival of drinks is a pretty good gauge. Besides, after a round of drinks you don’t care as much. Another telling sign is if very few diners have food in front of them.
If the actual food is not up to a guest’s standards, I think they should just grin, chew, and bear it. After all, you can’t beat the price. I feel it’s rude to criticize a free meal. That’s happened to me several times and I’m always taken aback by it. To me it’s the same as criticizing a gift. It’s all right to politely send something back that’s the wrong order or woefully undercooked. But to compare food unfavorably to other restaurants, or even home-cooked meals, is insulting to the hosts. What’s the point? Keep it to yourself, or better yet find something you can complement, like the company.
What finishes off the meal best is a heartfelt thank you; from the guests for the meal, and from the hosts, for the fellowship. Even if everything sucked, at least you didn’t have to shop, cook, or clean. That is something to be thankful for.
Thank you for visiting.
I spent this past weekend as a guest in the home of a Super Cook. This is someone who was trained by
his grandma, has been cooking most of his life, AND is enthusiastic about trying new recipes and cooking
styles. This means he does comfort food, hoity toity gastro, and combinations of both with delicious
This weekend he introduced me to the Monte Cristo Sandwich. Have you heard of this? It sounded
vaguely familiar to me, but I had not had the pleasure of eating one until Sunday. It looks like a Dagwood
sandwich had a baby with a grilled cheese sandwich and then it rolled in jelly. I don’t know why it’s
named after a character in a French novel, because it was created in the US (according to Google).
Maybe it’s an American way of saying “Hey Chief Pepe! You think you frenchies can cook? Check out this
orgasmic sandwich.” Just a guess.
Here’s the basic recipe as I understand it:
Cooked sliced ham (lots)
Cooked sliced turkey (lots)
Sliced cheese (even more)
Milk (Use whole milk. At this point, what difference does it make.)
Various spices (Whatever and wherever you see fit; cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla in the egg/milk mixture,
fancy mayonnaise, etc.)
Jam or jelly
You make a sandwich with the bread, mayo, mustard, cheese, and meats, then dunk the whole thing
in egg/milk mixture, then fry it with lots of butter and serve it with a splop of your favorite jam or jelly.
My host served his Monte Cristo sandwiches with bacon, home-fried potatoes, and fruit on the side.
Good Lord, I was food drunk for several hours. I decided not to even attempt figuring the calories
because my calculator doesn’t go that high. But, yeah, it was worth it.
Thank you for visiting.
Photo Attribution: https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://shewearsmanyhats.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/monte-cristo-sandwich-7new.jpg&imgrefurl=https://shewearsmanyhats.com/monte-cristo/&h=854&w=600&tbnid=VvVjrf22CQvA5M:&tbnh=186&tbnw=130&usg=__a-N9nJ6yndHwwLOwoez7QoYhtCU=&vet=10ahUKEwi84_2wo5bVAhXMQD4KHdiFBp8Q_B0InwEwDQ..i&docid=7Qrh-g3GJ5wnqM&itg=1&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwi84_2wo5bVAhXMQD4KHdiFBp8Q_B0InwEwDQ&ei=SM1vWbyfHsyB-QHYi5r4CQ