Wednesday, September 30, 2009

LTTE - "The Girl Who Would Be Queen" Article, October Issue

Dear Ms. Wintour,
Hallelujah! Rather than reading about some empty life of some untalented, yet famous celebrity, we were treated to a glimpse into a fascinating life of a real woman, who happened to be regal and rather talented.
William Shawcross's excerpt from his book: The Queen Mother, let us peak into the life of a Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon.
From her kindnesses towards the soldiers in WWI as a young fourteen year old girl through her work with the Prime Minister during WWII, Mr. Shawcross revealed The Queen Mother as a woman with a strong work ethic, love of country, family, and duty.
Learning and reading about an historic, interesting, strong, significant woman of substance every month would make a lovely column. Thank you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

LTTE Elle Magazine - A Young Generation of Bad Manners In America

The American media spotlight has moved from older generations of polite, self-sacrificing, respectful people to younger generations of pampered, self-aggrandizing, repugnant people.
Having taught etiquette and manners to young people for the past decade, my students have gone from needing a bit of fine tuning, to needing to learn how to hold a fork, and on up the manners ladder from that basic skill.
Kanye West, sadly, is merely one symptom of the bigger problem facing young Americans today.

The number one rule of etiquette is: "Always make the other person feel special."

Throwing away our manners in order to be heard, seen, understood or to be the center of attention seems to be the new "American Way" for some. Why? Blame fame, Reality TV, stress, The Red Carpet, The Internet, the Bloggers, 24 hour Cable TV, 30 years of prosperity, wealth and opportunity for all. Blame American society in general. How about blaming ourselves?

And to think, some men on the Titanic gave up their seats on the rescue boats sacrificing their own lives to save the lives of others. Then there was World War II. The "Greatest Generation."

Yes, as the Editor stated in the October Issue, Kanye West is in the "freaky" category, but not "genius." More like a rich and rude, arrogant, mean, and now, a famous bully.

I am glad Kanye West was not standing next to me on the Titanic or in a "fox hole." He would have thrown me out and overboard!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ele Magazine "What I Wore" Contest Essay

   At 22 years old, I was the gawkiest, tallest, skinniest, girl in quite a while to have graduated from Sweet Briar College and move to New York City with three suitcases.
   My first job was as a receptionist/order taker/dress model for the designer, Mr. Adolfo, at his couture salon on 57th Street. When Mr. Adolfo had me fitted for my first little black dress, I had no idea what this dress would do for my confidence and come to mean to me in my life and the many years ahead.
   This knee length formal dress had a beautiful black velvet torso with a black tulle ballerina skirt, matching tulle straps and sash, all the tulle demurely dotted with rhinestones like little bright stars in an ethereal night sky.
   Three months later, I was whisked away in a limousine in my new dress to work my first company gala event at Saks Fifth Avenue complete with photographers and a Red Carpet. Oh my! I walked this carpet, but did not really know what it was at the time. It was, after all, 1984. No one clicked my picture and I had never heard of a "Page 6". But no matter. I had on my favorite first formal couture dress.
Christmastime arrived with an invitation to the company Christmas dinner dance at Doubles. I had to scrape up a date, but not a dress! Adolfo chose me for the honor of the first dance. My Mother was so proud.
   At 23, it was time to meet my first boyfriend's entire family. We played touch football just like a Pepsi commercial, although in catching the football, I was bumped into a tree and got a black eye from the football which ended up next to my face. A Black-tie event followed that evening at the Country Club in Tuxedo Park. Nervous and with a black eye, but dressed in my Adolfo dress, I at least, had the confidence I was always appropriately dressed.
   June arrived with the Belmont Ball.  Arranged by Mr. Adolfo, my hostess, C Z. Guest, accompanied my date and me into the Jockey Club for the dance the night before the Belmont Stakes. No worries. Again, always appropriately attired.
  Many charity and social events followed over the years: The Junior League Ball at The Plaza with Peter Duchin, easy. The Intrepid Ball, no problem. The Circle Line "booze cruise," always appropriate. The Colony Club, The University Club, The Williams, Harvard and Yale Clubs. No worries. The Limelight opening and Andy Warhol. Not a care in the world with my best Adolfo dress. Stumbling into the Tumble Inn at 2 a.m, Tunnel, Elaine's, and The 21 Club, always right. Swells, The Surf Club, and Mick Jager showed up! Never an issue.
 Soon followed many weddings of good friends. A Dallas wedding, a South Carolina wedding. A wedding at the New York Saint Ignatius Church and Reception at the St. Regis. The Graycliff in the Bahamas for my 30th birthday, still wearing and able to fit into my beloved dress. This dress was my passport to many years and all types of social soirees without ever feeling out of place.
   At age 26, my Haute Couture dress accompanied me home to Richmond to take care of my ailing father. For the next nine years, it served me well as a "singleton." If the dress became too tight, I quit eating dessert and bread for a while. My bellwether dress.
   As a 35 year old workaholic, I phoned a friend and asked to sit with her and her husband at The Deep Run Hunt Club Hunt Ball. The "horsey set." They sat me next to a man I had seen once before at a club event.
   Traditionally, at any Hunt Ball, a black and white dress is required for women who did hunt that day, and a black dress is required for women who did not hunt that day, so the ladies do not clash with the gentlemen who wear those red "Evening Scarlett" coats. Being that I did not hunt that day, my black Adolfo dress was the perfect Black Tie attire, once again.
   Seven years later, I married the man I was seated next to on that magical, horsey, Haute Couture evening. 
   Soon afterwards, I gave this still wonderful and favorite dress away to a young friend I worked with, hoping it would bring her the confidence, comfort, and happiness it brought me for many, many years.

International Gift Giving Etiquette

Anyone watch the UN speeches given by various foreign leaders this week? Ever think about Corporate gift giving to foreigners? The following is a bit of foreign corporate gift giving tips:

Appropriate Gifts in Arab Countries:

  • Books

  • Gifts for Children

  • "Made in the USA" gifts

  • Gifts for the Office

Inappropriate Gifts in Arab Countries:

  • Liquor

  • Logo items

  • Blue and White gifts

  • Gifts for Spouse

  • Animal products or food as a gift for the first meeting

Appropriate Gifts in Japan

  • US Brand Named items

  • Scotch and Brandy

  • Books

  • Company products

In any Asian country, or from an Asian person, always accept a business card or a gift with both hands. Using both hands shows respect. Regarding a business card: take time to look at the business card. Do not ever stuff it in your back pocket.

Inappropriate Gifts in Japan:

  • Any "Made in Japan" item

  • Anything with the numbers 4 or 9

  • Surprises of any type

  • Humorous or Joke gifts

  • Ribbons and/or Bows

  • Fox, Badger or Wolf

Appropriate Gifts in the USA:

  • Books

  • Pen and Pencil sets

  • Key Chains

  • Umbrellas

  • Paperweights

Inappropriate Gifts in the USA:

  • Expensive items

  • Red Roses to a woman

  • Personal items

  • Liquor to a non-drinker

  • Cash

Always enclose a gift receipt with your gift and have the gift "gift wrapped" if possible.

I do not care what Peggy Post says: NEVER re-gift any gift to anyone for any reason. It is a small world, it is NOT honest and the gift never seems to be quite gift receipt and wrapped by hand usually in a gift bag. No thought and no time put into the gift always comes back on the giver. The recipient always knows. In any re-gifting situation, one is taking many chances. I have a host of re-gifting horror stories to my Halloween blog post, soon!

If one has no money to spend on a personal gift for a good friend, instead of re-gifting, an appropriate, thoughtful card will always do with a kind, well thought out, beautifully written message, or for a wedding, pull a nice sterling cake knife or pretty china plate out of your sideboard in your Dining Room, wrap it up and tell the Bride it is a "family treasure" you want her to have because she is like family to you. I will also address this topic for the holiday season, soon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Household Tips - Separating Eggs, Cleaning Brass, Headache Cure

Helpful Household Tips

  • A Wet Oven Cloth will save many burnt fingers and hands

  • To Remove Spots of Milk or Tea on a Brass Tray: apply a bit of lemon juice and rinse.

  • For Easy Egg Separating: try breaking the egg into a funnel. The white will go down the funnel and the yoke will stay behind.

  • To Cure a Headache: try 2 cloves in a cup of freshly brewed tea.

  • Natural Tooth Cleaner - salt hardens the gums and makes the teeth white.

  • To Clean Suede Shoes - Black, Brown or Grey suede shoes may be cleaned lightly with fine sand-paper. Rub with firm, even pressure. This will remove dirt, mud and grease.

  • Never Polish Pewter - Never polish pewter, you will ruin its finish. Let pewter remain dull. When it is dirty, wash it with a very soft brush, a tiny amount of gentle soap and warm water. Dry the pewter with a soft cloth.

Be Thrifty, Have Fun and Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An Addendum: Manners Matter To Those In The Know

A poem from my Forget-Me-Not, Forget Me Never book:
If pleasures path you wish to see,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak, of whom you speak,
And when, and how, and where.
Florence Gaynor
June 21, 1906

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Manners Still Matter to Those in the Know

   Yesterday, a reporter at The Richmond Times Dispatch called and asked my opinion about the recent outbursts of Serena Williams, Kanye West and US Representative Joe Wilson. To my surprise, the article was published on the front page of the paper today and is entitled: "Outbursts of the famous: Why so rude?"
   So far this morning, this article has received 43 comments. Many more comments than any of the other articles in the paper combined. Etiquette and manners are always a hot topic, so why do good manners receive no comments and seem to be disappearing in our American society?
   My exact words to this reporter were: "Manners matter to those in the know. Good manners will take one farther than any Ivy League eduction. The knowledge of etiquette and impeccable manners will take one anywhere and everywhere in life."
   I attributed declining civility in American society to a few concurring factors. Twenty-four hour Cable TV, producers wanting 'shock value' and confrontation within their programming to boost ratings, talking heads on all Cable TV shows talking over each other all the time, instant international information on the Internet and in our hand held cell phones, the 40 year disintegration of the American family, religion, education, and discipline in general. Casual lifestyles leading to casual fashion and dress codes, spilling over to casual manners, or no manners at all.
   The behavior of Serena Williams and Kanye West were both wrong and rude. Society will punish them as society sees fit. These days, thanks to the media, they will probably get more press, more TV screen time, and as a result, more fame and probably make more money.
   Regarding US Representative Joe Wilson's behavior: In 1801, Jefferson wrote "Jefferson's Manual of Parliamentary Practice" as a reference on parliamentary protocol. The Senate traditionally has not considered this body of work as its direct authority on parliamentary procedure, as they began amending it in 1828 and did not finish their version until 1977. However, in Congress, according to this manual, one may call the President a "half-baked nit-wit," but may not refer to the President as a "liar" or "hypocrite." Freedom of semantics and hyperbole. Joe Wilson was wrong in using the word "liar" but not wrong in speaking his mind. He should have just used a different word. Interestingly enough, in Great Britain, Parliament openly tolerates constant, brisk verbal outbursts. I mentioned to the reporter, Joe Wilson's outburst was the first (to be televised anyway), but will not be the last.
     America is currently experimenting with many different social and political paths Europeans have been practicing and tolerating for decades. For the past 400 years, America has been its own island of Anglo-Christian Puritan behavior, fighting for what we perceive to be right. Now, we are a multi-cultural society, multi-tasking with multiple perceptions. Hopefully, Americans will grow more tolerant and inclusive in general and less tolerant of bad behaviors as we catch up with all the technology we have invented.
   Instant condemnation and gratification. Instant communication and opinion. Instant fame and fortune. But, instant forgiveness? Instant civility and manners?
   Do not fret dear readers, Americans will tolerate only so much rudeness. The Press is a powerful vehicle of information, but the societal pendulum will eventually swing back. For now, thank goodness, manners still matter to those in the know.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Humble Experience with British Healthcare

In the Summer of 1981, I was a student with The Virginia Program at Oxford. The Renaissance, Shakespeare, Spenser and such. From Sweet Briar College to St. Anne's College at Oxford University, England. Princess Diana was married that summer and I got the education of a lifetime. A structurally different educational system, travel, foreign culture and a peak at what a Government run, National Health Care System looks like. As most of my readers can imagine, any government run anything is neither proficient, nor professional and never even mind half way perfect. I have two stories to share regarding my observations that summer.

First Story:
As 'of age' students, we tended to be the first patrons for a few 'half-pints' a few nights a week across the street at the local pub. We got to know the young couple that had just bought the pub and lived upstairs. The husband bar tended and tended the building maintenance including the flowered window boxes and small garden out front. The wife was the waitress, cooked the buffet meal offered to patrons for dinner and had two small children. They were open 7 days a week.
The wife once told us she once went to the local public Clinic to be seen for a bad flu. This young couple could not afford a private doctor like other business owners and the rich in England. The receptionist told her it wold be a 2 week wait to see the doctor. No doctor, no prescription for medicine. She replied to the receptionist: "In 2 weeks, with the flu, I will either be well or dead." So, she left the public clinic with no help, not even an aspirin and suffered through the flu, working the entire time at the Pub and taking care of the kids. Eventually, she was well. She commented that as soon as she and her husband could afford it, they were going to subscribe to a private GP.

Second Story:
One of my classmates broke her arm and a few of us went with her to the local hospital down the street. I remember the 1/2 day wait in the ER, the over crowded waiting area looked like a third world airport. Everyone sitting on the floor, patients on stretchers in the hallways. The patients also had the old red rubber IV tubing, instead of the modern clear plastic tubing. I noticed the antique radiators with the old lead paint peeling off of them. Then noticed the old thin lead pipes near the ceilings also peeling, probably from The Great War (WWI). No renovations for the last 70 years in this Oxford hospital. Never even mind any modern equipment or conveniences.

One of our rich friends here in the US pays $4,000.00 per year for the privilege of having a private doctor come to his house, 24/7. If America is going to decide to enter into a 2 tiered health care system, you are going to get the health care you can afford. Private doctors for the rich and public clinics for everyone else. Does America really want to enter into this new age of health care?