Sunday, January 25, 2015

Houston Chronicle: Shoeless dad wants slippers inside his daughters' homes

Houston Chronicle: Shoeless dad wants slippers inside his daughters' homes

Dear Abby:

We have a couple of daughters who have told us we must take off our shoes if we visit them (and our grandchildren). Although I'm not sure of their reasons for this, I do know for sure that we have never tracked any kind of dirt into their house when we visited.

I have very sensitive feet. I cannot even walk outside barefoot. On top of that, my feet get cold if they aren't covered. I have always worn house slippers at home if I didn't have shoes on.

In a discussion with my wife, I suggested that their request was both inconsiderate and disrespectful. I also said they should provide alternatives to shoes for visitors if they expect guests to remove their shoes. What is the proper etiquette?

Cold Feet in Iowa

Dear Cold Feet:

A person does not have to track "dirt" into a house to carry germs on the soles of one's shoes. If guests have walked on a sidewalk or driveway where someone has walked a dog or spat, then I can see why a parent might want shoes removed if children play on the floor.

Good manners in a case like this would be to cheerfully cooperate with your hosts and, if slippers are not provided, to bring a pair over that you can leave for the next time you visit.

Wandering Educators: The quiet custom of removing your shoes

Wandering Educators: The quiet custom of removing your shoes

'As a white American with Eastern European heritage, I come from a culture where you do not remove your shoes as soon as you enter someone else's house. You wear your shoes in the house, removing them when sitting or climbing on things such as a bed or sofa. Growing up, I had one friend whose family removed their shoes when they entered their house. I found this extremely strange as a child. I always had questions, such as do they leave all their shoes by the door? I had about eight pairs of shoes as a child, and I wondered if I lived there, would all eight pairs stay by the door all the time? How could you see how your outfit looked without seeing the whole complete outfit, including shoes? Does their dad get to keep less of his shoes by the door since they take up more room? What if you forgot something in the house and had to run back in at last minute? I had so many questions about this culturally strange custom.

Fast forward to 2011. I meet my now husband at a beach bonfire party in Bermuda where we both live and work. The first time I entered his house to "casually hang out," I saw him remove his shoes and place them by the front door. I followed suit, awkwardly removing my shoes as well, curling my toes under, as I felt slightly strange and exposed. Shoes, like clothes, can be worn like armor; imagine a pair of knee-high leather black books or even sexy high heels, all armor. A first "hang-out" with a guy you think is extremely attractive requires armor. I, however choose to wear flip-flops - it is Bermuda.

Many cultures participate in the custom of removing of shoes upon entering a home or religious place. Mainly Asian cultures, most notably Japanese and Indian, partake of this etiquette.'

Friday, January 23, 2015

Treehugger: 6 reasons to remove your shoes inside

Treehugger: 6 reasons to remove your shoes inside

Shoes are great. We’ve been wearing them for 40,000 years and needless to say, they’ve served us well. The first forms of protective footwear evolved from simple efforts to keep our trotters insulated from snow and cold – and given that we don’t live on a planet lined with smooth, silky grass and other assorted soothing surfaces, shoes are a basic comfort for many of us.

But do we need to wear them inside? Many cultures think not, yet in the United States and other countries, oftentimes the shoes come inside attached to the feet of their wearer. Some households have a no-shoes policy, which can be met with scorn from the unshod-shy. But there are plenty of reasons why it might be a good idea to leave the loafers off when you come indoors.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Vacuum Cleaner

I have been using the same vacuum cleaner for the past six years and it has become very worn out and ineffective. I got really fed up of it on Thursday evening and resolved to buy a new vacuum cleaner.

The new cleaner is like the old one, a bagless cylinder. I got it for £50 at Tescos. I was amazed at how powerful it is. It works like a dream and sucks up dirt like a black hole. I was in carpet heaven after I started using it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Calgary Herald: Ask Rita: Plenty of reasons to remove your shoes

Calgary Herald: Ask Rita: Plenty of reasons to remove your shoes

Q: I’m having a party and hate asking people to remove their shoes. Is there something I could offer at the front door to clean people’s shoes off with?

A: A professional shoe shiner? Now that would be a memorable party. Seriously? I guess a bottle of Lysol and some paper towels would do the trick. Or, you could buy those polypropylene shoe covers that furniture delivery people sometimes wear — Home Depot sells a package of 3 for $4.47 — but you may as well just make people take off their shoes and give them slippers or socks. Better, you could purchase multiple pairs of Slipper Genies — has them for $6.97 a pair — and have your guests dust and polish your floors while they sip their cocktails!

I used to be one of those people who scoffed at having to remove one’s shoes at the door; in a column a few years back I railed against the shoes-off Nazis who clearly didn’t understand how the right footwear can make or break one’s outfit. I have since had a complete change of heart — yes, it’s been known to happen — and now believe it is always good manners to remove one’s shoes when indoors. There’s actually a guy in the U.K. named Celestial Fundy — I suspect it’s a pseudonym — who has a blog entirely devoted to the subject called, what else, Shoes Off At The Door Please.

On it, he lists 37 reasons why one should, among them: #11 Shoes pick up traces of animal excrement; and #23 An Asian, Scandinavian, or East European visitor will feel more at home. Indeed, this past summer a friend came by with a visitor from Japan and her two children, and I could tell it made the visitors very uncomfortable when I told them to leave their shoes on. I hadn’t washed and floor and didn’t want their socks to get dirty! This take your shoes off thing means you have to keep a clean house. Which is far easier when people aren’t tracking dirt in on their shoes! It also means that when invited to someone’s home, guests need to plan their outfits accordingly, practise good foot hygiene — a pedicure helps — and not have any holes in the socks. Or bring slippers. Fancy slippers to wear at house parties could become all the rage.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

"It's a house, not a museum"

It's a house, not a museum

Ever heard that before? On internet discussions about shoes-off rules, somebody on the shoes-on side usually makes this comment.

Logically one would think that this entails that removing shoes in a museum is normal, while removing shoes in an house is not. Have the people making this comment ever been required to remove their shoes in a museum? I have. It was in a museum devoted to Sumo Wrestling in Japan. In a country where removing shoes in public buildings is common, like Japan, one will find museums with a shoes-off rule. You might perhaps find them in a country with harsh winters, like Canada or Norway. However, you would have to search hard to find such a museum in the UK or the USA.

There are some very significant differences between museums and houses. A museum is likely to get a constant stream of foot traffic from visitors. Hence, contrary to the statement above, one would actually expect a carpet in a museum to be a lot dirtier than a carpet in an house.

You are not very likely to sit down on the floor of a museum. Nor are your children likely to spend much time playing on the floor of a museum, or at least you would prefer they did not. You won't be eating in a museum. You won't be walking barefoot on the floor of a museum, unless it is one of those rare museums we mentioned with a no-shoes rule.

A museum is also likely to have a dedicated team of cleaners working there every day. You might be fortunate enough to be able to afford one cleaner to visit your house once a week. but this is too expensive for many families.

Having a shoes-off rule in a museum might not be a bad idea, but you have a lot more reasons for wanting shoes-off in your house.