Thursday, November 24, 2011


If you aren't knee-deep in potato skins, plates and pie tins right now, then you will be a welcomed guest in a few hours at the holiday table of family or friends. On behalf of the legions of hostesses the world over, I'm carving up some important reminders EVERY dinner guest SHOULD keep in mind today when saddling up to the Thanksgiving table. Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner A lot':

* Greet one another with warmth and sincerity, and count your blessings - many today will be out in the cold or at home alone.

* Leave ALL gadgets at home or in the car. Ipods and cellphones aren't utensils and will not get the turkey and gravy from the platter to your plate with ease.

*Say grace - no matter your beliefs, and count your blessing that you live in a country where freedom of speech and expression is a right.

*Engage in conversation with each other - you may not have seen each other for a long time, and may never see them again.

*Don't play with your food - count your blessings again, as many today will go hungry.

*Thank your hostess for the blessing of good food, companionship and good times.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I have always loved the day-before Thanksgiving. I remember the drives to Grandmother's house up Highway 99 in the fog, my sisters and I in the backseat that had become a makeshift futon. Amazing how resourceful our father was with plywood back then. Years later as a television news reporter, I coveted the night-before-Thanksgiving requisite live shot from the Palm Street overpass. Beneath me, a bumper-to-bumper carpet of headlights and tailights. The travel, or coverage of it, always signaled the beauty of Thanksgiving and eagerness to be with the ones we love. Unfortunately, not everyone's trip to the table Thursday will be wrapped in warm experiences. An estimated 23 million people are expected to take to the sky within the next ten days, still making it the busiest travel day of the year. It will also be among the most uncivil. If that includes you, make sure to pack plenty of patience. Longtime friend and former Bakersfield resident Kathy Eddy, who now lives in Fairhope, Alabama with her husband, former KC District Attorney's office investigator Howard Eddy and their two boys, shared some useful advice recently which she had gleaned from interviews with airline officials, travel agents and seasoned parents when she worked at Meadows Field about flying with children. "One mom said Benedryl is a 'must.' Taking something to make your child sleep is proactive and a relief to other passengers. If you do not take something to make your child sleep, do not schedule a flight during the child's normal nap time because they will not sleep on a plane. Ok, maybe they will, but not without a lot of fussing first," Kathy wrote.
She added that toys, snacks, a favorite blanket, bottles and pacifiers are all appropriate as well. The sucking works the way chewing gum does for adults.
"One mom told me that during her business career (pre-kids) she hated flying with children who screamed. She went prepared for her first flight with her daughter. She visited the pediatrician and got sleeping drops. At her stop-over, she bought herself a glass of wine and gave the baby the sleeping drops. When she arrived at her mother's house on the other side of the country, she pulled out the sleeping drops and said, 'We'd never have made it without these'. Only then did she notice she had accidentally packed the baby's vitamins rather than the sleeping drops. Morale of the story - sometimes it is the uptight parent who projects frustration onto the child."

I've chimmed in on air travel before, tomorrow and in the coming weeks it is especially important to remember that it still is a mode of PUBLIC transportation where we all have to share and respect each other's space. EVERYONE is in a rush. Extend a little courtesy - like surrendering the arm rest or the extra space in the overhead compartment, or grabbing the overweight bag from the luggage belt for the elderly traveler. Let the words 'thank you' roll off your tongue frequently like bags coming down the chute. Be thankful for the blessings of health, family and the ability to travel, and in turn, be thoughtful and courteous with your fellow passengers. Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Unfortunately, the way some trash our community has come to define us. Read Jill Cowan's article in today's The Bakersfield Californian about the litter problem here and nationwide, and ongoing efforts to heighten a city's awareness to this ugly habit. Litter: It REALLY is beneath us, and really DOES 'Manner A lot'.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Exactly when we began to lower the standards of what to wear out in public is unclear, perhaps sometime between the 1980's when Madonna popularized undergarment outerwear, and the gangsta oversized trousers of the new millenium. This month's issue of Town & Country magazine features a fabulous spread devoted to the current fad of donning pajamas for everyday wear. Eccentric Howard Hughes and John Lennon and Yoko Ono glamourized the look years ago, and today silky haute couture versions by Louis Vuitton and Salvatore Ferragamo are coveted by the fashion elite. While you won't find a flannel set on either page of the T&C feature, these days one can't grab a quart of milk, gas up the car, or drop kids off at school without encountering someone in flannel pajama bottoms, often accessorized with dirty and worn fuzzy bedroom slippers. Seriously, pjs have become the new track suit! I missed the memo on this. When did we sink so low as to think wearing nightclothes out in public was acceptable? If it is the 'just rolled out of bed' look people are after, they are missing their mark. The pajama party look wreaks of plain laziness and screams 'I don't care'.
It is a sad commentary on our society that it has reached the point in some parts of the country where, as in Louisiana, there is a movement to enact an anti-pajama ordinance. Shreveport Caddo Parish commissioner Michael Williams has suggested enforcing such a code after encountering a group of young men at a Wal-Mart wearing pjs. According to Williams, one of the men's private parts were exposed as the result of the lounge wear. Shreveport's on a roll. The city already has a no-saggy pants law. Williams told the Wall Street Journal "the moral fiber in America is dwindling away. What is it going to be tomorrow? Walking around in your underwear?" (Memo to Williams: Madonna already took care of that). Several years ago, the principal of St. Matthew's Primary School in Belfast, Ireland, scolded parents in a scathing letter for picking up their children in sleepwear and slippers, calling it "slovenly and rude". It came on the heels of a decision by a supermarket in Wales to prevent customers from shopping in their nightwear. According to London's the Daily Mail, the reasoning behind the ban as noted on signs posted at the store's entrance was "to avoid causing embarrassment to others."
If only those signs had been posted at the Shreveport Wal-Mart. Recently, joined the pajama party discussion, and according to the site's Farhad Manjoo, apparently pajama-lovers have suffered persecution for some time. According to a 1929 article in the New York Times under the headline "Court Sanctions Pajamas in Street", a New Jersey barber named Samuel Nelson had made a bet that he could walk from Newark to Irvington in pajamas without being arrested. Of course, he was wrong. He was arrested and jailed, before a judge freed Nelson, saying the arrest was "both asinine and stupid.” He admonished the arresting officer, "Neither you nor I are censors of modern fashion here.” We are a long way from New Jersey and the colorful, roaring 20's. Whether fashion censorship is around the corner remains to be seen. I, for one, will be keeping a keen eye on commissioner Williams' idea. Making a U-turn on the Freedom of Expression highway to drive down the road of censorship of any kind is a bad move. But I say it's time to turn the lights out on this ridiculous pajama party that has young and old parading around in public in their sleepwear. Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner Alot'!

Friday, November 4, 2011


For Kim Kardashian, surely the end of this week couldn't come fast enough. Seems she is so 'distraught' over the attention she has received after filing for divorce from her husband of one trimester, Kris Humphreys, that she 'can't function'. I say, wipe those tears - all 72 of them, and make a date with the mailman to return all the pricey wedding gifts. Her decision to donate the value of the presents to charity is certainly a generous one, of which she will also reap tax deduction benefits. But the right thing to do is return to sender. Social graces have eroded over time, and this week even the house of Post (Emily's) has been divided on the subject of returning wedding gifts, but it has always been customary to give back any unused wedding present if the union dissolves under one year. Ten weeks shouldn't even be up for debate. Give the unused gifts back - all of them, including the $1695 perfume bottle and the $7,850 vase. Besides, why would anyone want to be surrounded by material reminders of a bad decision? No explanation is necessary. In this case, the gift givers have already read about it in the paper. Kim Kardashian has built an empire of fame and fortune on being a 'good' example and role model for young women. Here's hoping she does the right thing and gives back everything from the the fondue set to the frying pans before the ink is dry on her next endorsement deal. Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Halloween was just a mere 60 hours ago, but it's as faded a memory as the winner of last season's 'Dancing With the Stars'. As promised though, here's a brief post-mortem on the social graces on display Fright Night, and a couple of great ideas sure to be exhumed next year. If the infestation of Locusts arrived on buses in our neighborhood as it reportedly did in Old Stockdale, I never saw them. But the streets on our side of town were crawling with monsters young and old. So were our newly-seeded front lawns. Tuesday morning's gutters were littered with candy wrappers! But much to my delight, the majority of trick-or-treaters were in costume, and uttered those magic words: thank you. Halleluliajh! Maybe my work here is done. Then again, maybe not. I found it difficult to follow my own advice on the 'no costume, no candy' rule. Easier said than done. A mob of strangers at your doorstep can be intimidating, and I was certainly outnumbered. Thanks to Jennifer Etcheverry of My Husband's Nuts, and Old Stockdale survivor Lisa Andrew for their suggestions on getting around the grown adults with pillow cases, and newborns in strollers. Next year, we'll have three separate bowls: candy in one, fruit in the other, and baby food biscuits in the third. Afterall, striving to be more 'consumer friendly and demographic specific' on Halloween might just 'Manner A lot'.