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 19, 2017 | Uncategorized
After graduating from college, establishing a career, and starting a family, I often wondered what had happened to certain acquaintances. You tend to keep in touch with close friends and relatives. But often people you truly appreciate and enjoy slip away from your life almost unnoticed. I remember wishing I had a magical book that would allow me to catch up with their lives. Then came….do I have to say its name? Facebook.
People approach social media from different perspectives based on age, gender, culture, purpose, and availability of time. With FB in particular, there is also the desire for connection with the past and future.
Some people are afraid of it. One relative told me, “Oh, I’m not going near FB, it gets you in too much trouble!” This illustrates the idea that it takes away your control of your own information, and to a certain degree I guess that’s true.
I look at FB as my living room on the internet. It’s my choice to invite people in and to treat them appropriately as guests. If someone is rude, hurtful, or hateful they are not invited back. I chose what information to put out there about myself. I don’t appreciate others supplying information about me via FB. It’s too easy to misinterpret details or get them wrong. By the same token, if you’re not ready to go public about something, don’t put it on FB. You can’t expect the receiver to understand the information is a secret. It’s just not realistic and you have no one to blame but yourself. There are plenty of avenues for the exchange of private or sensitive information, including messaging and private groups.
Here are my basic rules:
f Don’t say anything to me on Facebook you wouldn’t say to me in my own home as an invited guest.
f Don’t come behind my comments on someone else’s page with nasty remarks.
f Don’t criticize me or anyone else on my page. While I like a healthy exchange of ideas, FB is not my preferred vehicle for heated discussion.
f Don’t friend me for the sole purpose of selling me something. I understand FB is a great marketing tool—I use it to push out this blog (which is not monetized.) But when it becomes painfully evident a request has nothing to do with me as a person and everything to do with me as a potential customer, its hurtful.
f Politics and politicians are fair game. But their supporters and detractors are not. Please don’t call someone an idiot because they support a certain candidate, party, or policy. They may indeed BE an idiot. But it’s just not a nice thing to say to a guest sitting on my cyber sofa.
f Please don’t badger me about my use of social media. I may not use it to the extent that you do and that’s OK. There have been many occasions when someone in real time will demand, “Didn’t you see my post?!”
f By the same token, don’t feel the need to apologize to me for not engaging with me on social media. I understand that some people enjoy my blog and others don’t. One woman said to me, “I only scan blogs looking for recipes. I’m not interested in the writing.” And that’s OK.
All in all, FB has enhanced my life. It put me back in touch with some great people, helped me plan events, and provided some amazing information and entertainment. So bring on the babies, the vacation pics, the cat videos, the dog videos, the funny videos, the profound posters, the job updates, the health concerns, and the DIY projects!
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 10, 2017 | Ettiquette
My very first “question of the week” comes from Colorado, and you can bet she gets a lot of company.
“What is the best practice when it comes to bed linens when you’re leaving? Should house guests strip the bed or make it?”
When we lived in Seattle we had so much company, and I changed so many sheets, I felt like a Vegas motel maid with hourly rates (the motel, not the maid). So my answer is yes, strip the sheets and leave them in a heap on the bed along with the towels you used (unless the towels are wet, then drape them unfolded over a towel rack).
There are three main reasons for this:
- It’s easier for the host to collect stripped sheets for laundering;
- If the host has more than one bed in the guest room, they will know which bed was used. This is much more pleasant than a sniff test;
- If a guest makes the bed, the host might assume that guest simply makes the bed and doesn’t change sheets between occupants in their own home.
Feel free to disagree with me, it wouldn’t be the first time.
Thank you for visiting and I hope you’ll stay tuned for next week’s post,