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Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Be a Houseguest Rockstar With These 10 Tips

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It wasn’t a new year’s resolution, but 2019 has turned out to be the “Year of the Friend” visits around the country. The only reason it happened is this: I invited myself. Ugh. I can hardly write about these impositions. Mom is, no doubt, rolling her eyes out loud at me, because people with manners just don’t do this. I’m a little sorry, but not a lot sorry, because I got to mix some biz with pleasure and spend time with really great friends.

My destinations included humans – and a few hounds – ages 4 weeks old to 94. The overall theme of these travels was, “If not now, when?” I’ve learned that with major miles and busy lifestyles among us, most people won’t outright invite others. I really don’t either, really. We all just assume, “They should know they’re welcome.”  They haven’t met my mother, “Not until you’re invited, Young Lady!”

When imposing on others, I tried hard to abide by these ten tips. (My hosts may be rolling their own eyes after reading my intentions below…!)

  1. Offer a few dates you could visit. Fortunately, I have honest friends who tell me when it’s inconvenient to visit.
  2. Limit your stay to two days. I thought it was Mom’s rule, but just learned it’s not.   “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”   Benjamin Franklin
  3. Be a good guest. This includes bed made and room(s) tidied daily, particularly the bathroom. ESPECIALLY the bathroom.
  4. Be gracious. Come bearing gift(s) or follow up promptly. If there’s a young child in the home, take a book or tiny toy. (Side bar: just found out that I mailed my thank you note to Christine and Family to Debbie’s house.  Oh, Bobbe…)
  5. Be cooperative. If there is a 6:45 p.m. dinner reservation, do whatever it takes to be ready…FIRST.  Thou shall not wait on you!
  6. Be agreeable. They want to go bowling and eat pizza. You’d hoped for TopGolf and Tacos. Toughen up Taco Head. Go with it.
  7. House rules rule! I noted in 75% of the homes where I stayed. (Okay, 3 of 4) shoes were left by the door. Once inside, it’s best to ask before you tromp through their house.
  8. Assess your pajamas. For some of you that may even mean, “GET SOME PAJAMAS!” Perhaps you sleep in bikini briefs, boxers or bare bottom. This doesn’t mean everyone does. Cover up buttercup. Oh, and while dressing, SHUT. THE. DOOR. You never know who might pop in. Awkward!
  9. Spring for a meal. They’ll say, “No!” You say, “Yes!” Personally, I hate food funding fights, so I’ve gotten quite sly about handing off my credit card to the waiter unnoticed. I figure it’s the least I can do in exchange for lodging. #needtips?
  10. Be self-sufficient, on both arrival and departure.  This may include Lyft, Uber or car rental. Your hosts and hostesses appreciate not having to fetch you, although some will insist. On the other end, I’ve found that my friends are more than happy to return me to the airport. Hmmmm, what’s that fishy smell? Oh, ha-ha, It’s me! Bye, bye!
  11. BONUS TIP: Board Bob the Beagle. Don’t even think of showing up with extra people or pets, unless encouraged. That is just rude. Ruff ruff!

My friend, Christine, said something which made me feel much better about inviting myself, “How can you invite yourself if the door is always open?” I like that philosophy. A lot. Hear that one, Mom? Is this new age hospitality?

Thank you, thank you, from Denver to Dallas to Charlotte. There was a common denomination among you all: loads of laughter. My emotional tank is now full to the brim. Thanks for the fill-ups, Friends! You all were grand hosts, I can only hope I was as grand of a guest. Bw

 

HERE SHE GOES AGAIN

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Bobbe White, Head Corker

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“Here she goes again” are the words in a bubble (caption) that Jeff is playing on a continuous loop in his head lately. Most evenings and weekends, you’ll find me in a chair surrounded by oodles of wine corks. Wait…it’s not what you think. I am not obliterated, wasted or three sheets to the wind. What does “three sheets to the wind” mean anyway?

 

What started as a thank you gift has morphed into a garage full of serving trays, each lined with corks and plated with glass. Open the car hatch and its cargo consists of more trays. In a week, all cargo will be transported to the Quincy Service League Holiday Gift Show & Sale. For now, Trays-R-Us.

 

What this post is not: it is not a cheap shot to advertise my wares. However, do visit the show and support Quincy Service League, a local organization, which is doing good work to raise funds for the community. There’s also a boatload of merchandise from socks to craft furniture if shopping’s your bag. Last I heard, Christmas IS coming fast.

 

What this post is: It is my explanation as to why I took a deep dive into my free time to do this project. Jeff claims it’s a diversion. In the past, I have found diversions when I should have been doing something else more important, but less enjoyable, such as when I should’ve been cleaning out my parents home. Instead, I ventured into a multi-level-marketing deal. It lasted briefly and soon, I changed my priority and got to work.

 

What I figured out:  The careful patterning of corks gives me respite, therapy, progress and completion. Hours pass while gluing down corks. I find it calming and have listened to 387 podcasts this fall. Today I watched Casablanca and The Holiday. It’s all about the right cork in the right spot. I never cut the little devils to fit. I think in my next life, I will be a dentist, specializing in tooth implants, because I can position the corks perfectly into the tray. I’m relentless on fit.

 

“Therapy,” you say? Indeed. Corking is a mindless activity, which allows me to think, ponder, wander and listen. When battling depression, Jeff said, “You need a hobby.” I thought he was flippin’ crazy. You know what? He was probably right. (He usually is.) It would’ve gotten me out of my head and redirected my focus.

 

Most importantly: Whether your hobby is baking, hunting, sewing, woodworking or scrapbooking, it affords us something we can do to completion. Not every activity has this quality. I go to my bank job daily, yet, completion is a relative term. Or how about your housecleaning. Talk about never finished. There will always be carryover work and projects. I go to the gym, but it’s only good for the day. Laundry is rarely finished. You’re probably wearing socks and underwear right now (aren’t you?) which will go into the laundry basket. And so it continues.

 

For now, if you need to know the girth and length of Duckhorn, Asti Spumante or Robert Mondavi corks, give me a call. I can nail it. Down the road, if your pearly whites need some attention, look for my dental office inside the pearly gates one day. What about you? Do you have a project to start and finish? Even a jig-saw puzzle can work. It’s good for what ails you. bw

WHEN GIRLS GET UGLY (good happens!)

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Bobbe White

Were you a customer in our bank October 31? If so, please come back.  You saw us at our worst. We wore hideous housecoats, slippers, pajamas, curlers and facial masks. We looked awful. Photo shopping couldn’t help this bunch. You be the judge.

It didn’t start out fun for me. While waiting on our breakfast pizza order, it made sense to hit Wal-Mart. I entered in cheetah slippers with red pompons and anticipation. Maybe dressed as “Come as you are” could give a clerk, customer or cashier a giggle. I mean, at 8:00 a.m., the clientele represents a lot of PLU (people like us). You know, normalcy. At 10:00 p.m.? Not so much.

It seemed obvious that I was in costume. Didn’t it? Can I tell you I did not get one glance or second look? Not even one. In the hair aisle, a regular lady shopped near me. She looked at my curlers as I snagged hairnets. I smiled playfully, as if to say, “Can you believe people really buy these?” She smiled sympathetically, thinking, “Can you believe people go out in public like her?” I don’t think it occurred to her that I was in costume. Next, I went for trick-or-treaters’ candy. Two clerks furiously stacked shelves, tossed bags and boxes around and over me, never stopping to admire my costume. It was disappointing like the last aisle. I decided my costume would continue to underwhelm the cashier and customers, so I avoided them and self-checked my purchases.

In the car, I put on the hairnet and drove to Casey’s. There was an immediate reaction upon entering. YES! Then again, one of the clerks knew me. NUTS. Things improved at work, seeing as about 95% of the staff was costumed, department-by-department. Staff and customers alike were amazed and amused at how we could get so ugly, so easily. (I think we surprised ourselves as well.) We didn’t win best costume, but did get one vote. On the other hand, we were champions of comfort. Now I know why schools have pajama day. It is the BEST.

It’s difficult to express the joy of seeing co-workers walk into work, looking more hideous than the previous person. In banking, where we’re typically well groomed and dressed appropriately, we broke every rule. Some days the rules are meant to be broken. Post-Halloween, it’s business as usual, but the leftover fun, laughter and morale boost carried over. We’re now hearing how much better we look, from those who’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly.

Fortunately, with flexible workplace management, kids don’t have the corner on costuming. I don’t know how we’ll top this costume next year, but I’m sure we’ll give it a go. All I know is when you’ve been incredibly ugly, any little improvement is noticeable. Everyone should get ugly occasionally, because you feel so attractive the following day. Hope your Halloween was overwhelming! bw.  (Thought you’d like one more look at us…)

A Check….Seriously?

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Bobbe White

It’s Thursday, September 14, 2017 and in today’s news, the Hurricane cleanup begins in Florida and continues in Houston. Kim Jong Un is still running loose with bad hair and fires in the west are clearing their own path of destruction. How do you stomach all of these disasters, when you look around your own sky and it’s blue and clear and perfect? Oh, nothing’s perfect, we know that, you silly goose. That would be like knocking on Mother Fate’s door.

I speak too soon as we Midwesterners don’t have it exactly perfect, even though our weather has been, in comparison to the south and the west. We, too, are being held captive by our computers to freeze our credit. Equifax, have you had a rough week? What I’d like to know is, who hasn’t been affected by this breach? Not many, I’d bet. If it’s not this, it’ll be another Target deal, WalMarket or God forbid, Hobby Lobby. If you shop with credit or debit, you’re in the game and sadly, this is our new normal.

The alternative? We return to cash or checks, but can you fathom the long lines at the grocery store? STORE RAGE! It’s bad enough that yesterday I forgot my wallet and had to painfully take time to write a check out for milk, cereal, dog food and chicken drummies – not all for the same meal, of course. I heard everyone in line rolling their eyes out loud at me. One dude said, loud enough for me to hear, “A check? Seriously?” I went fifty shades of red, because I’ve been that person in line, waiting behind a sweet, little, old lady as she digs her checkbook out, asks for a pen, writes most of the check and then asks the cashier, “How much was it again?” Then she screws up the amount, voids it and starts over. That was Yours Truly yesterday. No pen, just a check. I could feel the cart nudge me from behind, as if to say, “Geez you old bag, hurry up!” The icing on the impatient customers’ cake was when I asked for a cart to roll out my bags, since I’d overachieved with a hand basket. (I’ll probably go to hell in a hand basket if I ever do this maneuver again.) When our daughter worked at the grocery, she said they hated it when people like me shoved three weeks of food into a little red plastic basket.

After this, I’ll try to have patience with check writers in front of me. You don’t know what they’re going through in their life. They may have lost their debit card or had it stolen or breached.  Maybe they were on the Equifax list. You don’t know. (Remember when breach was only used in terms of our levees on the river system, or when a baby couldn’t be delivered that way?)  Let’s all cool our jets. If you’re in that big of a hurry, just send your grocery list in on-line, have it delivered and avoid the store all together. But don’t whine when you get pickles instead of shampoo. Your grocery list may have just been hacked! bw

Alphabetiquette: more couth after youth

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Alphabetiquette (n.) al-fuh-BET-i-ket) simple manners for couth after youth.

By surprisingly popular request, this is a continued list from my 1.27.17 post, where A -D were introduced. These are common sense manners we see broken every day, everywhere. I post these, not because I am Ms. Manners, but because certain actions bug people. Our culture has become more relaxed, which can be refreshing in some cases, but not all. Manners are increasingly not being taught in the home, so is it left to the rest of us? As always, email me the stuff that bugs you and our Alphabetiquette team will work it into the list. Since 1.27.17, one more “D” word was added. Here you go…

Digitaliquette (dij-i-tul-i-ket) The art of knowing when a food item is to be eaten with your fingers or a fork.

Earbudiquette(eer-bud-i-ket) (1) Checking yourself from singing with your iTunes, when wearing earbuds. Buds do not instantly morph you into Celine or Justin. (2) To remove at least one of the two earbuds, when someone obviously wants your attention. (3)The reverse of this, is having the restraint from wanting to chat up a person wearing earbuds, especially when they’re hoisting an 800lb. bench press.

Entertetiquette(en-tur-et-i-ket) (1)Holding doors open for others when entering a building or room, instead of letting it slam in front of them. (2) Exhibiting patience when merging onto a freeway.

Exitetiquette(egg-zit-et-i-ket) (1)Holding a door open for someone, instead of letting it slam behind you when leaving a building or room. (2)   To thank the host(ess) before leaving a party (3)Having the wherewithal, when leaving the freeway, or turning a corner, to turn on your car winker.

Expressiquette(egg-spres-i-ket) (1) To get an honest, actual count, up to 10 items in your shopping cart, to determine if you belong in the Express Lane. (2) To use discretion while nursing your baby in public.

Electiquette(e-lek-ti-ket) Stifling the need to talk about politics or politicians, unless you have something nice to say, which very few do.

Eyeballology(I-bol-ol-o-jee) (1)The study of focusing on the person with whom you’re conversing, rather than reading your phone, printed materials, TV, or Netflix. (2) Understanding that when you are engaged in conversation with person “A”, it’s rude to scan the room for persons “B” through “Z”. This can be particularly difficult for persons who are taller than I am, which is about everyone.

Flanelletiquette(flan-el-et-i-ket) Having the ability to avoid wearing p.j.s in public. (Also see slipperetiquette).

Follicletiquette(fol-li-kul-let-i-ket) (1) To wash and groom your hair on a regular basis.(2) To refrain from examining and extricating your split ends or chin hairs in public. (3)To wash away eloped hair in the sink, tub or shower.

Funeraliquette (fyu-ni-rol-i-ket)  This post isn’t long enough for this topic. We recommend Googling “do’s and don’ts at funerals” articles. A few basics are addressed here: (1) snacks and candy at the wake, visitation or service are usually for the family. Keep your mitts off, unless invited to partake. (2) Do not snap your chewing gum. It’s annoying. (3) If you are an “Ex”, ask the family permission to attend. The last thing needed are family feuds, resembling Congress trying to get along. (4) Silence phones, stop texting, reading or posting to Facebook – or any SMS while in attendance. (5) Absolutely no selfies, even if you run into an old acquaintance at the service. (6) No butting in line.  (7) Don’t come late; don’t leave early. (8) Dress respectfully. (see flanneletiquette). (9) Use your inside voice or softer. (10) Contain your giggles, which will turn into chortles and snortles, because you know you shouldn’t. Avoid sitting by these people who ignite this type of behavior in you. You know who they are. Is it you? Confession right here: when nervous, something happens to my brain and just about anything can tickle me. (11) Pull your vehicle over to the side in respect of a passing procession. (12) No honking or waving. This is a funeral procession, not a parade. (13) Under any condition or fleeting temptation, do not, I repeat, DO NOT practice pick-up lines on pretty girls or dudes, whom you find rather hottish. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

That’s it for now. “M.O.M” (mind our manners), because when we don’t, our mothers are perched by our ears saying, “Don’t you do that!”  Send me your own.

 

SPRING MUSINGS

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peeps                                                                                                                      by Bobbe White

Spring in the Midwest is a season of surprises and contradictions. Here are a few:

WEATHER                                                                                                                                              Like any season in the Midwest – we have about seventeen of them- everybody talks about the weather. My favorite comment, “I wish the weather would just make up its mind!” This is the Midwest. That’s what our weather does best: spring into summer, then spring back to winter. BoInG! BoInG! BoInG!

YARD                                                                                                                                                        I like mowing, because of the exercise. Plus, it’s great to see instant results from your efforts. However, thick, spring grass provides resistance. I pretend I’m a football player trying to push a sled and the coach is standing on it, for more resistance. Drive by our house every other day. I’ll be mowing after work; Jeff follows behind me to fertilize the yard. Okay, let me get this straight: I mow frequently. He fertilizes to make it grow more, so I’ll mow more frequently.  How does this make sense? But I don’t complain, because I like to mow.

MUSHROOMS: a Midwest phenomenon. Many people spend hours hunting for them. The environment must line up perfectly: moisture, temperature and timber. Add ticks, snakes and spiders. It’s the best. Preparation involves frying. We seldom fry food, but with mushrooms, we eat them faster than we can fry them. Those who don’t find them, buy them from other people who found them. How do you find a seller? Just listen to conversations on Monday mornings and the finders brag, “I found 13 pounds this weekend.” However, they’ll never reveal where they found them. I have “Mushrooms” in my phone contacts. I’ve paid up to$20.00/lb. I know. It’s crazy. But they’re crazy good! Sometimes, when we have them for dinner, we even add a main course.

EASTER MEMORIES                                                                                                                             As I write this post on Maundy Thursday, I remember when our daughter, Korey was the only Jewish student in St. Peter’s kindergarten. Mrs. Kuhl washed feet, while Mrs. Wavering distributed grape juice and crackers. Korey said, “THIS SURE LOOKS A LOT LIKE PASSOVER.”  Mrs. Wavering agreed, because, actually, The Last Supper was Passover. Some years, like 2017, Passover and Easter overlap, which I think makes total sense. Other years the holidays can be a month apart. Why? It’s complicated, due to different calendars.

Because we’re an ecumenical family, we also had Easter baskets for the kids. On Saturday night, I lined up Peeps from the kids’ bedrooms, down the hall, like little soldiers, to their baskets. Those little devils were hard as rocks by morning. We figured it was a better use for them than actually eating them. One year, after Nick had rifled through his basket, he seemed a wee bit disappointed. Apparently, the bunny had forgotten to include a new tooth brush. Bad bunny!

Never discount how deeply engrained our seasonal habits or traditions are. Whether it’s mowing, mushroom or egg hunts. Now, go continue –or make- your memories. No Peeps, please!

ONE ROSE, COMING UP!

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Bobbe White

The red crush of Valentine’s Day is over.We all somehow survived. It’s always interesting around an office, even if you’re not a fan of the holiday. ESPECIALLY if you’re not a fan. Why? Because we performed complicated algorithms on how many floral orders were delivered in direct correlation to total number of possible recipients. For those who can’t remember basic mathematics (who can?), an algorithm is a set of detailed instructions, which results in a predictable end-state from a known beginning. In other words, I have no clue what that means. In other words, the total number of bouquet deliveries I observed was 2.75. Odd number? I think not. Two bouquets were legitimate, obligatory Valentine’s bouquets: one newlywed and one newly engaged. Those are obvious.

The third recipient’s bouquet celebrated not only Valentine’s Day, but also their wedding anniversary, which happens to be Valentine’s Day. She gets a ½ point, since Hubby was double-dipping: ½ Valentine, ½ Anniversary. Still, I’d give him a high five for picking this date.  He’ll never, ever, ever forget.  That leaves ¼ of a bouquet. There, on one desk, was one lovely red, variegated rose. The card read, “And you thought I forgot!” That was my desk, my $4.00 rose and my handwriting. Yes, I bought my own. I did last year and will again next year. Big deal. My husband doesn’t do flowers. So what? I just wanted flowers on my desk. Ladies, if you are feeling glum, because you were flowerless in the public arena, take control, stand tall next year at the floral desk and shout, “ONE ROSE, PLEASE. IT’S FOR ME!” Sometimes we need to complete our own darn selves. Besides that, the algorithm proved that we are in the 90th percentile. So there’s that. The bottom line?

“Teach your children well”.  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

They’ll thank you one day.