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.
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.
We live in a log home and the acoustics are amazing! I don’t mean that in a good way. There’s no insulation, so if you’re in one of the bedrooms you can literally hear everything going on in the other bedrooms. We discovered this shortly after we moved into the cabin and our nephew came for a visit. He went out to see some of his other (inferior) relatives and when he came back we were already in bed. My husband woke up in the middle of the night, turned to me and said, “I wonder if Daniel’s back yet.” In a strictly conversational tone my nephew said, “Yeah. I’m here,” from the guest bedroom below. Needless to say we are glad this happened sooner rather than later after moving into our new home.
As you can imagine, this could lead to some embarrassing situations…what with bodily functions, arguments, making nasty comments about your guests, and such. We try to mitigate these potential situations in a number of ways. First, we let all overnight guests know we can hear EVERYTHING! Then we let them know again. Believe me, I have no interest in hearing anything a guest doesn’t want me to hear. Bathroom fans are also great noise blockers. A couple of our recurring guests bring sound machines. Gee, that would make a nice hostess gift (hint!)
But what happens if these tactics don’t work and you hear something you’d rather not? I think we’ve all been there. Like most things, it depends on the situation. If it’s early in whatever proceedings are proceeding, I make an innocuous noise to make the presence of my ears known. Like a coughing spasm or a show tune. This lets the noise maker know the sound barrier is nil and to adjust accordingly. It also leaves some doubt as to what might have been heard, preventing embarrassment on both sides.
If the throat clearing or second verse of “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria,” doesn’t do the trick, I remove myself from earshot. Again, I don’t want to hear anything someone doesn’t want me to hear. When I get a chance, I reiterate the problem acoustics to the guest.
If none of this is possible, and it’s getting really awkward—like a nasty argument—I might actually knock on the door with an excuse such as , “Need more towels? How ‘bout a referee?”
There will be situations where none of these approaches work and you just have to stick it out. If you know the person well, I would say something when you get the chance to avoid a repeat performance. But if nothing is to be gained from notification, I just keep it to myself. There’s no point in both of you being embarrassed.
Thank you for visiting and as always, I’d love to hear from you.
“Sorry Dude. Not a good time for a visit.”
I got more comments regarding my Easter post on Wednesday than any other post so far. Thank you! However, I didn’t get any questions for my Friday Question of the Week. According to the book Blogging for Dummies, it’s important to be really honest with your readers. So rather than cheat and make up a question, I will expand on my first “Best Practice” of hosting. By the way, Blogging for Dummies by Amy Lupold Bair, is a really good place to start if you’re interested in blogging. I am not being paid to promote this book.
Best Practice #1 (See my first post for all of my Best Practices for both hosts and house guests)
Your ultimate responsibility is for the safety and well being of the family and household you have created. This doesn’t mean you can’t be gracious.
Who, what, when, and how you allow guests into your home is totally in your control. If you are not feeling it for any reason, it’s OK to say “no.” For those of you who have a hard time with this word it is pronounced “NO”. In some cases, as in potentially dangerous situations, it’s your responsibility to say no. And you don’t need to give a long explanation that can be challenged. A simple “I’m sorry but that’s not going to work for me.” Is all the explanation needed.
“But Kiki,” you might say, “If I say no to a visitor it will hurt their feelings and may damage a friendship or a family relationship.” Yes, I suppose that’s true. But consider this, what’s going to damage your relationship most in the long run, gritting your teeth and being on edge during a visit…or saying no and skipping the resentment?
This also might be a good time to set some limits with friends and family. My mother-in-law had a bad habit of inviting people to stay at our home without asking us first. Probably the worst offense was when she called and announced she had purchased four tickets to fly to Colorado with three of her young grand children and stay with us for a week! My husband was out of town for most of their visit, and I had two small children of my own. I distinctly remember waking up with my head in a laundry basket because I was so worn out by the end of their trip.
That’s not to say I did not welcome these kids, I really did. I am blessed with amazing nieces and nephews most of whom have stayed at my home for scheduled visits. But my mother-in-law should have asked first so we could set a better time. Had I said “I’m sorry but that’s not going to work for me. In the future please check with us first,” things might have been quite different going forward. The blame here was mine and my husband’s for not putting our family first.
I guess the bottom line is, don’t be a martyr to hosting. If you know anything about official martyrs, they’re generally not a barrel of fun. If you say “yes” to guests when you’d rather say “no”, your resentment will show and put a damper on the visit.
Thank you for visiting,
I was fortunate to learn a valuable lesson about the opportunities presented by awkward moments during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. A hot guy moved into the neighborhood and, by some miracle, I found myself walking home from a baseball game with him. This was my chance to showcase my sparkling personality before the cheerleaders had the chance to wow him with their pom poms.
I had just heard some hilarious Helen Keller jokes at the baseball field and was regaling Hot Guy with my rapier wit. Before you judge me, this was back in the day when PC stood for popcorn. Hot Guy laughed appreciatively…then told me both his parents are deaf. Being the mature 14-year-old I was, I replied “Holy crap! You’re kidding me, right?” No, Hot Guy was not kidding me.
Over the next few years I had the privilege of becoming close friends with Hot Guy, who also turned out to be Great Football Player Guy, Very Smart Guy, and Very Nice Guy. We necked a few times but never became an item. For younger followers who aren’t following my cool lingo, just Google “neck,” “to neck,” and “necking as a gateway to heavy petting”.
In his wonderfully patient and charming way, Hot Guy taught many of his classmates to look beyond our prejudices and preconceived ideas about people who are different than we are. We attended a brand new high school where the student body was surprisingly free of racial prejudice, which was not necessarily true of all the parents. I wonder now if Hot Guy played a part in our attitude of acceptance.
So, you may ask, “Kiki, what does this have to do with hosts and house guests?” Well, if you’ll just be patient, I’ll tell you. Geez!
I have experienced many similarly awkward situations, where insensitive comments had the potential to offend. These situations were most often addressed with anger toward, or shaming of, the offender. Hot Guy taught me, by example, that overly negative responses to insensitive comments are a lost opportunity to change attitudes with grace and information. As hosts, hostesses, and guests we’re in a unique position to facilitate positive exchanges by realizing that offensive comments are often fueled by ignorance and habit, not hate. Houseguesting provides an opportunity to respectfully challenge others to appreciate the struggles of those who are different than we are.
I was a guest in Hot Guy’s home the day Elvis Presley died and we watched the coverage together on TV with his family. With tears streaming down her face, his mom signed something. Hot Guy looked at me and said, “She wishes she could have heard Elvis’ voice.” Lesson learned.
Thank you for visiting,