Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Importance of New Threads By Yvonne

We all can get a little lazy when it comes to emails, such as using the same subject line that has nothing to do with the most recent email.  Beware of long threads. Some are necessary when related to a project; they are solid proof of agreements, disagreements and next steps. But some can be problematic.

A few years ago I was making dinner plans with two friends. The emails went on and on with last minute schedule changes, cancellations and even illness.  As I scrolled through the week old thread, I came upon one email between my other two friends but I was copied all the same.  One mentioned to the other that he was over me regarding a personal experience I was going through.  He had washed his hands of me (his words). The other friend didn’t respond, if he did, he was smart enough to reply directly without dragging me into it.

If it’s not business, there’s no need to continue to send the same “used” email.  There is no cost for beginning a new one. I held onto that email for a while. I never confronted him, in the end I pressed delete and washed my hands.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Next week, B. and Dan will be doing a talk and signing about their book, Before I Forget, on Tuesday, January 19th at Barnes and Noble, Broadway and 82nd Street at 7pm. I’m looking forward to seeing them, getting the book and listening to the talk. But, I wondered what would I or should I say if B. doesn’t remember me. Do I introduce myself? Do I make her remember that I’m one of the twins?

I shared my thoughts with Dan and asked if I could do a Q&A. I sent some questions and he gave me some answers, as only Dan can in his wise, funny and poignant way.

“Everything I say next is meant to help you understand the importance of making a person with Alzheimer’s feel comfortable. You have to find humor in tough situations or they become unbearable. So with that in mind, here are some of my tips.”

What is the major “don’t” when seeing B.?
Don’t say, “Do you remember me?” or jump into a reminiscence of past times together; she might not be able to follow you there. People with Alzheimer’s have enough don’ts and deficits. Their brains are already dissing them; they don’t need you to do so, too. It’s not about you; it’s about her. Be there in that moment. Be present. Just relax--she doesn’t need your tension, she needs your attention.

What is the major “do” when seeing B. and you?
Come bearing jokes…and if you don’t have any good ones to tell, at least consider bringing me some scotch. In all seriousness, any light you can bring to anyone wandering around in this disease’s darkness is a blessing.

How comfortable is she with handshakes, hugs, can this cause anxiety?
B. is a natural hugger; thank G-d that Alzheimer’s hasn’t erased that in her. It’s tricky, as everyone has a different personality and therefore a different response. But generally speaking, what you may see as hugging an old friend she more than likely will experience as a stranger approaching and encroaching on her space. You wouldn’t want some stranger coming up to you and pawing you, would you? Put yourself in her shoes and you’ll walk straight.

As an old friend, if she doesn’t recognize me – do I introduce myself as if we’ve never met? Do I simply state my name?
No one will ever take offense, especially those of us of a certain graying population, at someone saying hello by introducing or re-introducing themselves by name.  How many people do you see in your daily life whose face is familiar, but you just can’t quite grasp their name?  Give her the chance to say, “I remember you.”  It’s not something she gets to say as often as either of us would like.

As a caregiver, what should others do in public situations such as a book signing?
Bathe. No, seriously, it’s going to be crowded and loud and a little overwhelming for both of us, so a simple hello, a smile, and a quick thank you for ‘sharing our story’ or some other pleasantry (or joke) would be much appreciated.

For more information and how you can join the fight, click here.

And lastly, as B. used to say at the end of every one of their shows, “Thank you, Dan.”

Saturday, December 12, 2015

P’s and Q’s and Peas By Yvonne

It’s always good to have a little something to munch on when you’re drinking.  We will see many a nut dish during the holidays, and most of us will dig in. Not so fast. 

Call me a germophobe, but I really would rather not dig in with my hands and spread or share holiday cheer germs. Also, the optics don’t look good. Nothing lacks elegance more than a hand grabbing a bunch of Goldfish, assorted nuts, Wasabi peas, and other grabbables. A spoon should always be provided.

Here's what not to do.
The Peas

The Approach (germ infested table)

The Dig

Saturday, November 21, 2015


And we're off and running. The holiday season kicks off next week with Thanksgiving. Some of us will spend the most time we've ever spent all year round in our kitchens basting, chopping, stirring and hoping that it all turns out well. We thought we'd whip up some dos and don'ts for both hosts and guests.

For hosts...
  • Do be honest, if a guest asks what should they bring, tell them. Nothing worse than seeing your supply of wine and champagne dwindle, sparkling cider just isn't the same.
  • Be ready to receive guests, they shouldn't see you sweating over the bird. Don't make them feel compelled to help out with the dinner - they came to eat, not prepare.
  • Try not to give a blow by blow of the dinner's preparation. e.g. "I made the stuffing at midnight! I got up at the crack of dawn to boil the sweet potatoes." There is an excellent book, Timing Is Everything by Jack Piccolo.
  • Speaking of timing, if you've asked guests to come at five o'clock don't make them wait until seven o'clock to eat.
  • Do plan a balanced, well rounded menu. You want your guests to have enough food, but ten different things to eat could turn into a mishmosh of mismatched flavors and actually begin to look like mush on a plate.
  • Let guests eat in peace. No need to keep asking them if they need anything.
  • Be gracious when your cooking is complimented. No one will know you left out the thyme unless you tell them.
  • If you discover that someone is a vegan, don't make a big deal out of it. They'll know to skip the macaroni and cheese.
  • When it's time to clear the table, try not to enlist the help of every guest at the table. And don't disappear into the kitchen to wash the dishes. This looks like you're trying to get a leg up on things. That's rude. (If you have a small kitchen, loading the dishwasher is okay but don't run it.)
  • Toast your guests, thank them for being part of the day.
  • Try not to yawn in front of your company. This may look like you're bored or sleepy.
For guests...
  • Don't be late. There is no excuse.
  • Even if your hosts said they don't need anything, take a bottle of something or a small gift.
  • If you've offered to bring a dessert, bring dessert not a platter of deviled eggs as a surprise.
  • We like flowers but if you're being hosted by someone who's doing all the work, consider an arrangement so that they won't have to stop and tend to the flowers.
  • Offer to help but don't barge into the kitchen and start doing things.
  • Don't just grab a seat at the table, your host may have a seating plan.
  • Before the meal, wash your hands without making a general announcement.
  • Turn off your cellphone.
  • Don't talk about how much you love dressing with oysters when there is no oyster dressing on the table.
  • Let your host know in advance if you have dietary restrictions. Don't talk about your diet and how you're being a bad girl as you butter your second roll.
  • Dress appropriately, not every day is a jeans day.
  • If you have a lonely friend with no place to go, don't invite them along hoping that your host will understand. Your friend will only feel lonelier when there's no seat for him/her at the table.
  • Give thanks and toast your hosts.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


People you like, do it. People you don’t like, definitely do it.  I don’t. But maybe you do it, too.  You ball up your cocktail napkin and leave it on the nearest surface. It could be a granite top, fine teak, oak or mahogany – it doesn’t matter. Litterbugs don’t care.  It’s not their party, but they'll do what they want to.

How would you like to be the one who has to pick up that ball of mess?  Were you just too busy to tear yourself away from cocktail chatter to find a receptacle for it?  Apparently, that was the case the other night at a wonderful book party in a beautiful apartment.

Never hand your used cocktail napkin to a staff member without wrapping it in a clean napkin.  If there’s no one to hand it to, find a place to put it in, trash cans are usually found in the kitchen or bathroom.  A host shouldn’t have to tell his/her guests what to do with a cocktail napkin. A good guest should know better. Cheers!

Saturday, October 10, 2015


There's a whole lot of hair flying around these days and it's not mine.

I never had much hair to flip and when I tried, I almost suffered whiplash. There is nothing more annoying than someone’s hair flying around in a public space, like on a bus. The woman in front of you is totally oblivious of her dander (okay, dandruff, but she got my dander up) going all over the place along with a strand or two. Recently, I sat near someone who did a scratch and flip. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “I’m getting some of your hair in my face.” She apologized and stopped. 
That was easy.

Grooming so that you can be presentable in public, shouldn’t be performed in public.

What do you think?

Sunday, September 27, 2015


From what I gathered, someone was about to get their feelings hurt. My fellow elevator passenger, a neighbor (we don’t know each other) was advising that they keep the ring until they’re sure.  Something about me must’ve seemed trustworthy as she proceeded to put someone’s business out on the street in an elevator. Beware, you never know who’s on the elevator with you, she could be an etiquette blogger!

I couldn’t figure out who was on the other end or how upset they were.  That’s the problem with halfersations; you’ll never get the whole story, she went on and on with her half.  She didn’t even bother to whisper an apology.  If you have to take a call, keep it brief and let the caller know you’re on an elevator. To continue a conversation while others are on an elevator is a downright diss to them - they don't matter.

Chatty Cathy remained on the elevator and continued to advise the ring bearer. I'll never know the outcome and I don't care.  All I do know, she is one rude neighbor.