by Kiki Nelson | Oct 24, 2017 | Animals, Ettiquette, Food, Host, Hostess, Travel, Uncategorized
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.
by Kiki Nelson | Sep 5, 2017 | Events, History, Travel
Several times a year my family and I drive past an historical marker on Route 301 in Maryland indicating the turnoff to “The Dr. Samuel Mudd House.” Each time I suggest we stop and each time I am met with a tortured chorus of “NOOOOO!” Last Saturday I was driving the route by myself with no spouse, child, dog, or cat and decided this was my chance.
For those of you asking “Dr. Who?” I begin with a short history lesson. Samuel Mudd was a country doctor in Maryland in April of 1865 when two men stopped at his house in the middle of the night asking treatment for one of the men who had broken his leg. No one disputes the story this far.
The house is five miles off of Route 301 and sits by itself on pristine farm land. A pretty young woman in period dress greeted me. This woman was not just dressed in the fashion of 1865; she looked like she belonged to 1865. At any moment I expected to see her face in one of the sepia-tinted Civil War era portraits hanging on the walls….cue the spooky music.
The house is very much the same as it was on that fateful morning when John Wilkes Booth arrived seeking medical attention. That’s because the house, and its substantial acreage, remained in the Mudd family until a nonprofit organization was formed to take control of it in 1980. While there have been some updates—such as indoor plumbing, central air, and heat—much is original to the house as it was built in 1857.
The tour started with a recounting of how Dr. Samuel Mudd, who lived with his wife and four small children, was awakened before dawn by someone pounding on the front door. On his front porch was a man asking help for his traveling companion who had broken his leg. Dr. Mudd allowed them in and did a cursory physical exam on the living room sofa. That sofa is still there in the same spot.
The two men carried Booth upstairs to a room and laid him on a bed. Dr. Mudd cut the boot off the swollen leg and proceeded to set the bone. Once that was done Dr. Mudd left the patient to rest and heal. When daylight came, Dr. Mudd and Booth’s companion headed into town. Not sure why. When Booth’s companion saw union troops nosing around town, he turned around and went BACK to the farmhouse. Dr. Mudd proceeded into town and discovered that Abraham Lincoln had been shot and John Wilkes Booth was almost definitely the culprit. Here’s the weird part. Instead of alerting the solders to the killer in his guest room, or hot footing it back to his house and family, Dr. Mudd hung out in town for almost 12 hours!
Eventually the dragnet for Booth spread to the Mudd House. Booth was long gone, but his discarded boot was found. They knew it was his boot because his name was written inside it. Despite his protestations of innocence and claiming he was merely helping an unknown traveler, Dr. Mudd was arrested and his wife and children put under house arrest. Dr. Mudd was tried with the rest of the conspirators and sentenced to life in prison on a penal island off Florida.
For more than a hundred years the Mudd family tried to clear his name. But guess what? While Dr. Mudd was not in on the assassination attempt, he did know Booth and was privy to an earlier Lincoln kidnapping plot. That’s the reason he let those guys into his house in the middle of the night. As the docent put it, “John Wilkes Booth was the matinee idol of his time. It would be like George Clooney stopping at your house. You’d probably recognize him.” My apologies to George Clooney. Dr. Mudd spent the next few years in prison making beautiful handicrafts (many of which are in the house) until he volunteered to help with a Yellow Fever epidemic and was pardoned for his efforts.
In the meantime, Mrs. Mudd ran the farm and apparently did a damn fine job of it. When Dr. Mudd was pardoned he came back to the house, fathered five more children, and spent the remainder of his life the way he started his career in the first place, as a country doctor.
There were a lot of fascinating details about domestic life during the Civil War. I learned the origins of sayings like: “Sleep tight,” “Don’t let the bed bugs bite,” and “Hitting the hay.” I also learned the finer points about the use of chamber pots. It’s a little different than you might think.
But in the midst of all the recent confederate statue debate, here’s what I really appreciated about this experience. It was based on the facts, there was no sugar-coating what happened, and it was interesting as hell! The docents didn’t defend Mudd or try to explain his thought process. They simply told a compelling and true story based on solid research that has an important place in our Nation’s history. I asked if they’d gotten any negative feedback since the Charlottesville Riot. The Made-for-a-Stephen-King-Novel-tour-guide said there had been none. She suspects they are under the radar. That may be part of it….how many of you asked, “Who is Dr. Mudd?” I would like to think they’re not getting any negative feedback because they respect history and the telling of it as honestly as possible.
On my way home Monday, I passed another sign that read, “The End of the Road for an Assassin.” This of course is where John Wilkes Booth was finally trapped and died. I didn’t stop here because, like most historical figures, I think Booth’s journey was much more interesting than his end.
Thank you for visiting.
by Kiki Nelson | Jun 21, 2017 | Animals, Events, Holidays, Host, Hostess, Travel
I am ashamed to say that before I visited Kuwait, I had some preconceived notions that seem incredibly ignorant to me now. Much of this naiveté stems from my previous notion that the “Middle East” was a fairly homogeneous place. I thought Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait were all pretty alike in terms of customs and culture. Turns out, much like the different countries of Europe and even regions of the United States, there are marked differences among the individual nations.
With this in mind, here are some of differences and similarities between Kuwait and the U.S. that struck me.
Kuwait City is overrun with fast food joints. McDonalds, KFC, and Wendy’s are ubiquitous. One of my grandson’s first words was “Starbucks.” There are also some obvious knock offs like “Slim Chickens,” the name of which I found hilarious! Can you imagine giving a fast food restaurant in the U.S. a name that implies anything other than humongous portions?
Shopping malls are extremely popular in Kuwait and look just like those in the U.S. with many of the same stores which include Ikea and Sears. Because of the intense heat, indoor malls remain extremely popular and my hosts ran into several acquaintances even on short excursions.
Private vehicles are the main mode of transportation.
Kuwait is a dry country. Alcohol is illegal much like street drugs are illegal in the U.S. This lowered our restaurant tabs and heightened my attention to the food. Kuwaitis are proud of their traditional cuisine and rightly so, it is delicious. Some clever entrepreneur should start a “Kuwaiti Fried KaBob” franchise in the U.S. I’d be first in line. In compliance with the dietary laws of Islam, pork is not served in Kuwait. While I like bacon and ham as much as the next guy, I didn’t miss it.
The malls, and other indoor areas I visited, are spotless. When you leave a table it is cleaned immediately. There is no trash on the floors and the rest rooms are immaculate.
All the bathrooms I used had toilet paper along with a squirter thingy attached to the wall next to the toilet. It looks and operates like the sprayer on a kitchen faucet. I trust that I do not have to explain its use. However, I will share that it’s hard not to flood your hosts’ bathroom floor while learning to use the apparatus. Luckily things dry quickly in Kuwait.
There are five calls to prayer every day with additional religious obligations during the observance of Ramadan. These calls are chanted by a single male voice over some sort of PA system that can be heard by everyone inside or outside. Much like living near a train track, after a while I got used to it as normal background noise.
Car seats for children are not regularly used in Kuwait. In fact, many consider holding an infant in your arms the only safe way to transport a baby. They view strapping a child into a seat beyond your reach and line of vision as tantamount to neglectful parenting. Kuwaitis often tut tut westerners who practice what they view as a counterintuitive and ill-advised safety precaution. It was hard not to gawk at the older kids running amok in cars; climbing over seats, wrestling with siblings, sitting on their parents’ laps, or wedged between a seat and a window.
Kuwait City has feral cats much like many American cities have squirrels, and they are treated in much the same way. Some people consider it a kindness to feed and water them, while others view them as a filthy nuisance. I’m told that nonprofit efforts to address the feral cat population with shelters or catch- and-release programs have been unsuccessful.
Now for the elephant in the electronic room…covering. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m not an expert on Islam so I will not attempt to explain the religious, political, or historical ramifications of covering. But here’s what I learned as a visitor. Many people assume that all women are required to cover themselves to some extent anywhere in the Middle East. While I cannot speak to other countries, this is NOT true in Kuwait. I am told that to some extent, covering by female Muslims is a choice that depends on a number of factors including family traditions. It is not expected of visitors or women who are not Muslim. Those who cover do so in all public places and at private events where men who are not first-degree family will be in attendance.
There are degrees of covering which traditionally begins with puberty but can be adopted at any time. Many women cover their hair only. There are also a large number of women who cover their hair and street clothing. These garments are as varied in style as any genre of clothing. There are women who cover everything but their eyes. Then there are women who cover completely, from head to toe, mainly in black fabric, with varying degrees of ornamentation. This includes their faces, hands, and shoes. I saw complete covering only a handful of times during my visit.
I attended an all-female party in Kuwait, what we would call a baby shower except the baby had already arrived. When a male member of the hostess’s family arrived unexpectedly at the front door, he was shoed to another entrance so as not to embarrass those ladies who cover. It was at that point I realized I would not recognize many of the women at this party if I encountered them in public.
In general, all adult females, regardless of religion, dress more modestly in Kuwait than they do in the States. While you see women in yoga pants and tight jeans, you don’t see bare legs and tummies, tight tops, or cleavage.
Thank you for visiting.
by Kiki Nelson | May 31, 2017 | Ettiquette, Host, Hostess
We moved to Colorado in the 90’s before Denver International Airport (DIA) had opened and the main airport (Stapleton) was still within the city limits. Before we set off from Longmont, Colorado to pick up some friends, we asked one of our new neighbors for directions…which we promptly forgot. The old, “I thought YOU were listening.” “I was busy with the kids, I thought YOU were listening!” But the neighbor had assured us there was really good signage to enhance his directions. This was pre-GPS.
The problem was, there was a lot of construction in Denver (the infamous Mousetrap) and most of the signs had been taken down. So we decided to do what any well-educated, intelligent couple would do, we decided to follow the planes to the airport. After all they were flying right above us, how hard could this be?
This method was easier than it sounds and did indeed take us right to the airport…to the very end of a runway where small groups of weirdo plane groupies lay on their trucks watching enormous aircraft fly directly over them and land. It was obviously pre-9/11. Without having to ask any of the weirdo plane groupies, it became painfully obvious we were nowhere near the terminal where the normal people hang out. So we stalked a letter carrier we saw in a nearby neighborhood and he explained how to get to the airport.
This brings me to today’s topic, house guests and airport transportation.
For the guest:
Please, for the love of all that is holy, RENT A CAR at the airport! Factor it into your expenses. It will be better for everyone. I promise. This is especially important if your hosts work full time, have young children at home, or are senior citizens who are no longer all that comfortable with driving.
Warning! Warning! If you do rent a car….especially at DIA…ask about tolls at the rental counter! I know you can’t wait to get going to your destination, but this can save you hundreds of dollars. I won’t bother with a long explanation, but forgoing the toll package allows the rental companies to charge you for their post-trip “toll mitigation services”. It’s become a legal scam that fleeces travelers out of a great deal of money. I’m not sure how they get away with it, but they do.
If your host’s home is less than 15 miles away, consider taking a taxi, Uber, or similar service. Keep in mind that Uber rules differ from airport to airport. Look it up before you leave.
If renting a car is simply not an option, here are a couple of tips that will make everyone’s trip more pleasant. If you are flying into a major airport, book arrival and departure times that do NOT coincide with rush hour. There’s nothing worse than starting a much-anticipated trip by getting off a plane and into a traffic jam. Makes folks grumpy. Offer to pay for parking, tolls, and gas. These expenses mount up when you have frequent guests.
For the host:
I think it’s perfectly acceptable for hosts to suggest car rental. This can be done graciously, “Our guests have found it so much more convenient not to be limited by our hectic schedule.”
But if that doesn’t work, track the flight’s arrival time on your phone and use the cell phone lot to wait. Tell your guests to call you once they have their luggage in hand. I love my cell phone lots which are free and usually less than a mile from passenger pickup. Saves time, money, and hassle. I don’t know why more people don’t use them.
Although, for some reason the cell phone lots do remind me, just a little bit, of the weirdo plane groupies.
Thank you for visiting.
photo attribution https://www.google.com/#q=Airport+Images
by Kiki Nelson | Mar 24, 2017 | Ettiquette, Host, Hostess, Question of the Week
An update: I researched this question for “expert” advice. While I found a lot of information, there was very little about challenges presented by people who come to visit the Hospice patient. That’s interesting because guests have been an issue (good and bad) in almost every Hospice situation I’m familiar with.
Here’s my number one piece of advice: Don’t be a swooper! A swooper is someone who comes in and, with the best of intentions, starts giving advice and even changing things up. This is not helpful and is often a terrible burden for the caregiver who must undo what the swooper has done. It can also upset the patient who starts to question their care. JUST DON’T DO IT!
I also found some solid advice at http://www.hospicenet.org/ An example is below.
Here are six steps you can take to be an effective caregiver:
- Work and communicate effectively with the patient.
- Support the patient’s spiritual concerns.
- Help to resolve the patient’s unfinished business.
- Work with health professionals.
- Work with family and friends.
- Take care of your own needs and feelings.
Original Post from Friday: This week’s question for my visitors to respond to comes from Dee in Virginia, and is one I can relate to after having my mother as a Hospice patient in our home. As my family was going through this difficult time, hearing the wisdom of others would have been such a gift. I am grateful to Dee for giving me the chance to offer that solace to others. I look forward to your comments.
“I would love to hear your thoughts on guests that come to visit a family member who is in hospice at your home and stay to ‘help’ and wish to spend precious time with the patient. Godsend or nightmare? Advice on walking that fine line on being accommodating to relatives and taking care of yourself. Thanks”