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 | Oct 10, 2017 | Events, Food, Hostess, Reunions, Travel
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,
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 | 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 | Aug 16, 2017 | Ettiquette, Host, Hostess
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.