The Art of Living. In Harmony With Our Environment: Etiquette et·i·quette ˈedəkət,ˈedəˌket/

manners 2fine diningfine dining 2Etiquette:  In Harmony With Our Environment

ˈ”edəkət,ˈedəˌket/noun The customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.” 
I’d like to know. How much do manners matter and how important is their role in relationships to you? Manners matters to me, but it doesn’t keep me from seeing beyond and reaching the heart of others, regardless of their manners.

Every day of our lives everyone follows some form of etiquette.

Find out what the most common, best, and worst manners are, and make a cross reference to your own list of best and worst manners. Write your list in the comments space on this page and check back to see when your twin soul shows up. Comment on their post, if you would, please.  Thank you.

The following list of most common bad manners of the day reported by may surprise you.
1. How much do you make, how much did you pay for that ________________.
2. Cell phone conversations in public.
3. Excessive virtual socializing.
4. Crowding the person at the cash register.
5. Dressing inappropriately.
6. Being unkind to disabled people.
7. Casting off the elderly.
8. Letting children misbehave.
9. Exhibiting terrible manners at the table.
10. Not taking the time to show gratitude.
11. Ignoring the RSVP.
12. Letting foul language fly in public.

How many of the above match your list?

Let’s look at dining out manners.
That tops my list.
I don’t know about you, but I think that burping loudly is always a bad manner, whether you’re home alone or not. I am my own companion, and I like to be polite to myself. So I always try to burp as quietly as possible or none at all.

When dining out, it is customary to wait to be seated, but if we have a say, shouldn’t we choose our seat, especially in a restaurant? Avoiding high traffic areas, not too close to the door or the kitchen and not too far in the back to be forgotten, may enhance your dining experience. After all, you’re not there for the food alone, the ambiance and you determine the mood. Dining is part of the art of living.

Do put your napkin on your lap. Start from the outside in with your cutlery. Hold your fork with your left hand and your knife with the right. Cut your food in small pieces. Chew thoroughly. Take your time. Converse.

Do these archaic rules still reign over our table manners?
Don’t chew with your mouth open.
Don’t talk with your mouth full.
Don’t drink while there is still food in your mouth.
Don’t over extend to reach something on the table, but ask for it to be moved to a spot on the table closer to your reach, but not to your hand.
Don’t rest your elbows on the table.
Don’t use your cell phone while dining. Put it away.
Don’t push your plate when you’re done.
Don’t sop.
Don’t wave utensils about.
Don’t take a half bite.
Don’t blow on your food.
Don’t pick your teeth.
Don’t slouch.
Don’t groom at the table.
Don’t slurp.
Don’t stuff your mouth.
Don’t blow your nose at the table.

Fine Dining
Having a cocktail with your dinner may not be such a bad idea, after all.
Ideally, cocktails are served first, you may drink one or two while conversing and ordering your meal. Then, with your meal, you may drink wine or water. After dessert, or if you skip dessert, you may drink coffee and a poussé café (my favorite) followed by cognac and cigars. That really hikes the price of your meal. But fine dining has a downside.

After dining.
Once you’re finished, what do you do? Get in the car and go home to watch TV? Why not take a short walk around the neighborhood, the park, the beach, wherever the restaurant or home is. Perhaps a short visit to the balcony or the front yard will enhance circulation for a better digestion.

Utensils use.
Besides working from the outside in, we also need to know how to set our fork and knife down while we rest and when we’re done. Utensils should be placed parallel to each other on top of the plate with the prongs up, in America, with the tines down, in England, when you’re finished. When you’re resting make a V with your utensils on the plate, but never cross them.

In the, now considered, American zig-zag method of fork switching, you change hands after every bite. That’s how I was taught by Mrs. Belton in my Home Ec class in high school. The European style, however, is becoming ever more prevalent in the U.S. where a hybrid style has developed. It always bothered me to see people take the food to their mouth with the left hand. But I find out that’s actually Western world etiquette, nowadays. Guess I was a little bit behind the times.

The art of living manners.
What tops your list?
Mine starts with spitting. I found a blogger, John Burnette,, who said, “But (for) those guys who didn’t grow up and can’t afford a sports car to prove their manliness, there’s spitting.”

Please, don’t spit in front of a ‘lady,’ that’s a sign of disrespect, it just says “I don’t give a f***.” I consider all women ladies, by the way. Just like I’d like to see a gentleman in you.

Certainly, I have a fair amount of etiquette flaws, especially when it comes to conversing.
I sometimes interrupt people because I am eager to get my point across, I may finish people’s sentence, or answer their question before they’ve finished it, assuming I know what they’re about to say or ask. Sometimes, I may forget to say thank you, I’m sorry, excuse, or you’re welcome if I’m in a hurry or thinking about something else that’s important to me at that moment. And I always kick my self for the little shows of insensitivity. My aunt, a long time resident of NY, NY (the rudest place I’ve come across, perhaps worse than Paris), Nena, once shared with me an English lesson that guaranteed one would get by in America. She said, “Just know when to say thank you, I’m sorry, you’re welcome, and excuse me.” When I’m out and about I make it a point to be aware of my manners, especially my driving manners (Miami drivers top the worst list), which don’t just matter, but can make the difference in avoiding an accident.

Back to conversing manners, you know those people who use what you have just said about your purse or other, as a trampoline to jump into a long haul of their latest project, or a personal experience, without realizing your story is not finished and they haven’t listened? I’ve caught myself doing that. At least I’m honest and aware. Are you?

The art of living starts with good etiquette leading to the development of long lasting synergetic relationships with friends and clients. There’s etiquette for living in harmony with yourself and others.

Please, don’t forget to list your manners’ pet peeves in the comments space here.

Thank you, and, please, excuse me if I have offended you in any way. It certainly wasn’t my intention.

Angela Terga
Women in Film

fine dining 2

Meat & Caguayos

Meat & Caguayos, short story excerpt, “Mario Jorge and the Muchachitas,” memoirs by T.A. Terga.

The purity of the first nine years of my life in bucolic Julia, Oriente, in the Caribbean island that looks like an alligator reveals itself by neither judging nor questioning, just observing, and in so doing peace rests.

Creo que cuando hay miles de cosas que decir de un lugar nos vamos siempre a las mismas imágenes plantadas en nuestras memorias.  “Recuerdo un dia soleado de mayo…”


Corre….corre……correeee…….Teresa corre  y corre, dando vueltas la cabeza para ver quien viene cerca atrás.


I believe that although there could be hundreds of memories to choose from about a place and time, we always fall back to the same images and events implanted in our memory. “I remember a sunny and hot day in May….”


Run…ruuunnnn…………Teresa  runs and runs turning her head from  time to time to see who’s coming up behind her.

“I better cut the corner and jump over the ditch,” she thinks fast.

“There, I’m at least half a block ahead, they’ll never catch up with me now!!”

Teresa opens the iron gate stepping inside the safe confines of her home in the bucolic Julia.  Still holding the gate door by the top, she latches it shut, and waits to face the mob of kids chasing her home after school unaware of the gate’s marauders.

“Ha! Ha! HA!!!! I  Beat you, I won. I am queen!!!!! Look at you, the whole bunch, you are sissies, you stink like rats, you……………………………..AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Ay, ay, ay, ay, ahhhhhhhhh!”

Teresa shakes all over in horror; she stomps her feet and screams at the top of her lungs.

Two lizards who had been furiously entangled on the gate rail, already their light green heads turned black from mere exertion,  wrestleling in a fight to death, the reptiles somersaulted onto her chest when she swung the gate close.

“Ha! Ha! Ha! Look at her, look at her, Look at that!!! You sorry, gusana, gusana, gusana. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!” They jeered.

Teresa feels her face ablaze.

The lizards fall off to the ground and she runs inside, curtains of tears dampening her cheeks.

But she remembered not to let the front screen door slam behind her so she pulls a hand back and catches the door in time, just in case her father was home.

Inside the parlor, it was dark and cool.  She tipped toed in, checked out who was at the kitchen door.

Seeing no one there, she opens the fridge door, sees the pot of rice inside, moves the lid aside and sticks her 9-year-old fist inside, scooping out a load of cold, white rice she puts into her mouth at once.

It would be a long time before dinnertime and her stomach grumbled.  She moves into the dining room and looks behind the china cabinet where the big banana hands were hung.  Too bad, they were all still green.

Resigned, she lies face up on the cool tiles.

“I’ll visit Mercedes and her sister after my bath,” she thought.

Teresa calls out to her mom.

“Mami, can I still wear white shoes?”


“It’s still in season, you can wear white for one more month, at least, don’t worry about it.”

After her shower. Teresa pulls on a new dress.

“Mami, why are all my batas yellow?”

“There’s no other fabric color found, when we go to America, you will have dresses of any color you choose.”

“When does the telegram arrive?”

“Any day.”

Sighs of the mother and the daughter run deep through the house.
Angelina catches the last phrase on her way in from the backyard dump and sucks her teeth. “Ch.”

That night, well after midnight, Teresa wakes with a start and sits up under the mosquito net.  The pounding at the front door was followed by the fast shuffling feet from the entrance to the back door through the kitchen. The mid July tempest slammed shut the wooden sheet making Teresa jolt.  Silence. Teresa gets it. She knows where they’ve gone and why. Then door to the back yard opens and she hears the wind swoosh, the door latch and shuffling feet followed by unintelligible whispers.  Once more, the shuffle of feet from the kitchen to back door and the swooshing wind followed by silence.  Teresa sleeps again.

Not for long, though, for there was another even louder pounding on the front door. Teresa hears the shuffle of footsteps across the living room coming from her her father’s room to the entrance. The front door bursts open and two armed guards in olive green enter the house. Teresa’s mother comes in and sits on the bed with her. Teresa hears voices, the guards enter her room.  They look for something under the bed and in the armoire, and then leave.

The next day, father burned the leaves behind the house.