The Great Fires of 2017

The Great Fires Of 2017The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.

—William Wordsworth

The month of October and natural disasters are synonymous, at least in the Bay Area. Historically, many have occurred during this month, from the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 to the East Bay fires of 1991, and now, the worst wildfire in recorded history. At the time of this writing, at least 42 people are dead; 330 square miles have been burned as a result of 17 fires; and 11,000 firefighters are still battling. Tubbs, Adobe, Atlas: fire names and locations that I will long remember. Before last week, terms such as controlled lines, defensible space, and containment were heard only in the movies. Now, seeing hazy red sunsets and smelling smoke in the air seems almost normal.

  • Put a Fork in It

    Dinner parties are nervous-making events for many people—so many questions, so many rules! Here’s a short Q&A to help make your next dinner party fun for both you and your guests.

    Should dinner guests be assigned seats?
    When I’m the hostess, I always assign seats, for one very important reason: it’s human nature for us to gravitate to our comfort level, which means sitting next to people we already know, such as our spouse or good friends. A dinner party is an opportunity to mix things up a bit and make the evening more interesting.

    What is the biggest faux pas people make when planning a dinner party?

  • Judging a Book by Its Cover: Party Don’t-Forgets

    ‘Tis the season. September marked the opening of the San Francisco social season. First came the opera and then the symphony. Both were glamorous black-tie, see-and-be-seen events. Unfortunately, evening gowns and tuxedos don’t always equal good behavior. Great Britain’s authoritative bible on social etiquette, Debrett’s Correct Form, clearly spells out the right behavior for social…

  • As a Manner of Fact: Party Tips

    Don’t laugh at the subtitle “Party Tips.” If I had a dollar for every mistake I’ve made throwing a party, I’d be rich. There really are ways to make your next party memorable in a good way. Here are some questions and answers that sum up what I’ve learned about entertaining others: • What is…

  • How to Be a Popular Hostess

    Dorothy Draper, an American interior decorator, wrote a book entitled Entertaining Is Fun: How to Be a Popular Hostess. It can be fun to entertain, although many people find giving a party daunting. To do it right, you need just one basic component: lists, lists, and more lists. Even if you’re lucky enough to have…

  • Bar and Bat Mitzvahs

    The Bar Mitzvah is to the Jews as Confirmation is to several Christian denominations. It occurs when a Jewish boy turns thirteen, and it takes place on the first Saturday after that birthday. The Bar Mitzvah, meaning “son of the commandment,” is used to denote both the ceremony itself as well as the celebrant. The…

  • High School Graduation Etiquette Q & A

    What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do. — John Ruskin Ruskin may have said it best. We all have a story with a beginning and an end. What’s most important is what we do along the way….

  • Opera Glove Etiquette

    It’s opera season, and the gloves are on, at least for opening night at the opera, the symphony, and other formal events. Here is what you need to know when wearing opera gloves (also known as evening gloves) for any occasion. • Gloves should be kept on when shaking hands (as in a reception line),…

  • Summer Party Etiquette for Hosts and Guests

    School has long been out, the heat is on, and it’s time for parties. From hosting a family barbecue to attending a summer celebration, mind your manners for optimum summer fun. For hosts: • How should I handle an unannounced guest or guests who didn’t RSVP? Graciously! If you’re throwing a cocktail party, you’re in…