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When Your House Guest Has Four Feet

When Your House Guest Has Four Feet

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 Last to Arrive

The Last to Arrive

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
cohort’s experience.

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,


A Hostess Who Doesn’t Like to Hug?!

A Hostess Who Doesn’t Like to Hug?!

I am apparently the only human being left in the United States of America who doesn’t like to press her body against complete strangers. You can add semi-strangers, most co-workers, and people I don’t like
to that list. This can make hosting and being hosted awkward at times.

Here’s the scenario. You’re introduced to someone in a social situation and offer your hand. Before you can say, “Get the hell away from me!” the person has pulled you into a bear hug with the oft heard phrase “I’M A HUGGER!” Well guess what? I’m NOT A HUGGER SO DON’T DO IT! I find someone I don’t know taking that kind of intimate physical liberty with me extremely off putting. But what’s a person to do? It all happens so fast. I suppose I could jump back and say, “Sorry, having a nasty flare up,” but not say what I’ve got. Then offer them a lovely snack I’ve made.

And what message does all this stranger hugging send to our kids? We spend every teachable moment telling them people they don’t know are horrible beasts who would kidnap them at the drop of a hat. Then parents demand their children hug and/or kiss perfect strangers on first reference. Words like “Aunt Beatrice” or “Uncle Chuck” don’t mean squat to a toddler. Just once I’d like to hear a little fellow say, “If you like that creepy old lady so much, YOU hug her!”

I have instituted a new tradition with my little friends. When the inevitable instruction to “Give Aunt Kiki a hug” comes, I explain to the parents that I’m against forced hugging. After I’ve gotten to know the little person—and if they’re not covered in some bodily fluid or God awful rash—I give them the choice of a handshake or a hug. I was extremely gratified last Thanksgiving when one of my favorite 5-year- old guests said he’d like both.

Now before you start calling me “cold” or “stand offish” (like my relatives do), I want you to know that I enjoy hugging as much as the next guy. But I consider it a physically intimate gesture best saved for loved ones. Is that really so bad?

Any way. I would seriously like to hear what my readers think and some suggestions from you experienced hosts and hostesses.

Thank you for visiting.


Beach Hack or Fun with Condoms

Beach Hack or Fun with Condoms

On the very first day of a much-anticipated beach weekend, I got a nasty puncture wound on my forearm. This was last Thursday night. I cleaned it out with hydrogen peroxide, covered it with antibiotic ointment, and checked with my doctor first thing in the morning to make sure my tetanus shot was up to date.

But what about wound care? More importantly, what about wound care at the beach and in the ocean? Despite popular assumptions that salt water is good for healing wounds, OCEAN water is not!

“When you decide to swim with your open wound in the ocean, you give a contact between your wound and this possibly-contaminated water. Besides, ocean water might contain harmful bacteria that can lead your wound to infection.”
“When you have an open wound, especially the big and deep one, its healing process might cause changes to your immunity. You can easily be infected with various kinds of viral and bacterial diseases. This is why swimming in the ocean with an open wound is not the best decision.”

I LOVE to swim in the ocean. I should probably say I love to jump through waves and hang out in the water rather than technical swimming. It’s one of my favorite things to do. This is not to say I don’t have respect for rough water, rip tides, and jelly fish. I’m not stupid.

The surf at Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina this past weekend was perfect. It just doesn’t get any better for someone like me with a longing to frolic in the ocean but the upper body strength of a kitten.

What to do about my wound?

Here’s where the condoms come in. I first got this idea when I was taking care of my mom during chemo and she had a pic line (surgically inserted port) in her upper arm. One of the few things she still enjoyed was baths. So, I got some super-sized condoms, cut the reservoir end off, rolled it up over her arm, and it worked perfectly! A friend of mine got the same advice from the nurse at an infusion center.

I thought to myself, why can’t I do the same thing at the beach?! I did and it worked equally well.

As always, I have some caveats.

I’m not medically trained. Duh. My advice is anecdotal and should be taken with a grain of salt, but not salt from the ocean on an open wound.

I discovered it’s not a good idea to ask your host or hostess if they have a condom you can borrow.

If you have an allergy to latex or embarrassment, this is probably not for you.

You will need to take the following things with you to the beach:
 Condoms
 Scissors
 Fresh, dry bandages
 A friend (especially if your wound is on your dominant side)
 A sense of humor

Remove the condom by carefully cutting it off as soon as you’re done swimming so you don’t cut off your circulation.

Keep a dry bandage over the wound while you’re on the beach cause who knows what’s in the sand! Probably used condoms.

I prefer unlubricated condoms but apparently they’re hard to find these days. I found this out after having to ask the young, male, pharmacy aid for help. Talk about embarrassing! I can just see his thought bubble, “Yeah, right, it’s for your arm…cougar!”

Anyway, the condoms worked great and I had two days of amazing swimming. And—so far—my arm is still attached to my body.

Thank you for visiting.


Being a Guest on Fourth of July

Being a Guest on Fourth of July

I was fortunate to spend my Fourth of July weekend as the guest of a couple who live in a lovely home on Chesapeake Bay. I arrived on Saturday afternoon, about two hours before my hosts’ annual Fourth of July celebration began. I had been asked to arrive early, get settled, and help with a few chores.

Our hosts provide crabs and corn while everyone else brings a side and their beverage of choice. This leads me to a hosting issue which I hear frequently. When hosting such an event is it better to assign sides or let the chips (and dips) fall where they may? If it’s a large event such as this, I like the free-form event. Folks get to make their specialties and if someone doesn’t show up, there isn’t a hole at the table that the hostess may feel obligated to fill at the last minute. But I know it bothers some folks to have too much of one thing and not enough of another. In this case we had a lot of pasta salad and one guest was heard to remark, “With a little planning this wouldn’t have happened.” I guess my thought is, who cares? Thoughts?

Several couples spent the night and I was in charge of breakfast Sunday morning. As usual we had an assortment of diets including vegetarian, pescitarian, and pregnant. With the help of another guest I made a huge load of bacon, pancakes, homemade blackberry syrup, fruit salad, and watermelon salad. For future reference, that combination seemed to work really well. Two of the couples peeled off to go home and the remaining six people spent a relaxing day puddling around in the water and eating leftovers.

On Monday we gave our hosts a break and went to Calvert Cliffs along with the other remaining guest couple. I almost hate to promote it, but this is an amazing 4 mile hike along a shaded path through forest and bordering several different ecosystems. You end up at a small swimming beach on the Bay with an amazing view of the cliffs. It’s also dog friendly, and our Boston Terrier swam for the first time. We headed about seven miles down Route 2 to Soloman’s Island for lunch. Again, found a dog friendly restaurant with shade and really good sandwiches. That night we took our hosts out to dinner. Really nice day.

On Tuesday, one couple went to check out Chesapeake Beach, two of us went to a small-town parade, and two of “us” stayed on the couch all day watching Robocop movies. I love a parade, there’s something about gathering with other people on Main Street America and complaining about their children that I enjoy. That night the other couple treated us all to pizza.

We could see fireworks from different localities from our hosts’ backyard every night. I also love fireworks.

This trip reinforced several of my best practices.
1) When you have a group staying at your house for several days, it’s helpful if people can entertain themselves, at least during the day.
2) It’s OK for people to do different things. Guests shouldn’t be pressured to participate in activities that don’t interest them. When someone on vacation is forced to do something they don’t want….it shows and takes away from the enjoyment of others.
3) Don’t complain or make negative comments about anything. If there is a serious safety or comfort problem, don’t whine about it, suggest a solution. “I know we need some room in the fridge. Mind if I toss this mayonnaise-based salad that was out on the sun for 10 hours?” “I know it’s just me, but do you mind if I turn the AC down just a couple of degrees?” You know stuff like that.
4) If you bring a pet, take responsibility for it! The first night, my bad cat woke everyone up at 5:00 am yowling in the hallway. Once again, my apologies.

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend.

Thank you for visiting.

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