College-bound girl wants to tell mom about plans to co-habitate
ear Annie: I’m 17 years old and, in a few months, will be graduating and going away to college. I’m very excited about it.
My only concern is my boyfriend. I love him and we’ve been together a long time. “Nick” is a year older, has a job (I have a job, as well.) and goes to the local community college. He wants to live with me next year. I am not opposed to this. Nick doesn’t have a happy home life and I don’t believe either of us will be attracted to someone else.
We have already had months of planning and will be able to support ourselves, and I would rather move in with him than live in a dorm. Nick can transfer and work at the same company as a full-time employee until we save enough for him to take night classes.
I haven’t told my mother. She will be paying for my tuition and dorm, and I plan to pay for everything else. She thinks highly of Nick and knows he would never do anything to hurt me. I don’t want to disappoint her, nor do I want her to think less of me. What should I tell her? — Worried
Dear Worried: The truth and your reasoning behind it. But first consider what your decision means. How will you feel if Nick decides to keep working and never finishes his education? What happens if one of you finds the new environment has many “attractions” you hadn’t considered? Also, dorm living is a good way to acclimate to college, meet new people and be part of campus life. Will you regret missing out on that? If your mother refuses to pay your rent, can you still afford it? Think about these issues, and then ask your mother to set aside a few quiet moments to have an honest discussion on the subject.
Dear Annie: What is the etiquette concerning a hostess who frequently uses her laptop or texts others while entertaining company?
My husband and I have been invited to a friend’s home a couple of times in the past few weeks. After dinner and cleanup, this hostess plops down on the couch and proceeds to use her laptop or send text messages to other friends. I find this rude.
DShould we leave right after dinner so as not to interrupt her activities? I am afraid she would be insulted. What would you do? — Ignored Friends
Dear Ignored: Your friend may be occupying herself in the hope that you will get the hint and leave. So accommodate her. Politely. Say, “ We can see that you are busy, so we’ll be going. It’s been a lovely evening. Thank you.” Frankly, staying through cleanup is usually sufficient visiting time. If your friend seriously protests your departure, it means she has no clue that she is being rude. Either way, there is no reason to stay if she continues to be unavailable.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Sad in Ohio,” whose abrasive mother picks fights and has no friends left. You said Mom may be depressed or have an underlying mental illness. Your advice is right on.
We lost our difficult mother last year. She didn’t want us to visit unless it was at her request. Although we called, she did not answer her phone unless she wanted to talk, and because of this, we had no idea she had passed away a few days before Thanksgiving. When she died, it took two days for the police to contact us because Mother did not have our phone numbers anywhere nearby.
My mother was not diagnosed with any mental illness, but my siblings and I knew that something was wrong. We simply could not get close enough to do anything about it. We are glad she is now at peace. — Pennsylvania
Dear Pennsylvania: How sad that some people are unable or unwilling to reach out to family or friends when they need them most. We are sorry for your loss. TORONTO — Kitchen feng shui can make you a better cook. Paul Ng guarantees it.
“It works like magic,” says Ng, a feng shui master who lives in Richmond Hill, Ont., north of Toronto, “but it is extremely mathematical and scientific. There’s nothing superstitious or psychic about it.”
Feng shui is an ancient Chinese practice that involves creating balance and harmony in one’s environment. Proper building and interior design, decor and layout promote the positive flow of energy known as qi (pronounced chee). Good luck is said to follow.
With the arrival of Chinese New Year on Sunday it’s a prime time to try to improve our kitchens and our cooking skills, Ng says. “This is quite a good year for food. People are going back to nature now. People are getting fed up with artificial food and packaged goods.”
He says the kitchen is the second most important centre in your home. (The entrance is the most important. The master bedroom is third.) The kitchen is the heart of the home. Ng says it links health and wealth: a well-nourished person is healthier and more effective, and so more likely to be prosperous.
“Where your kitchen is located and how you arrange your kitchen can play a critical role in your happiness and livelihood,” says Ng.
Born in Hong Kong and now 64, Ng trained as an electrical engineer, computer scientist and business administrator before quitting in 1993 to become an expert in feng shui, Chinese astrology, acupuncture and tai chi. Feng shui kitchen guidelines: The kitchen should be one-fifth the size of the house. Is yours too big? Carve out a breakfast nook or install an island. Too small? Remove a wall to create an open concept. Even a mirror helps, Ng says.
When entering the house, one should not see the kitchen. An inexpensive remedy: hang a door with glazed glass to block the view but still let in light.
The stove, representing the preparation of food and prosperity, is the most important appliance. It should face south, east or southeast.
The stove burners should be used equally. Ng says this represents money from multiple sources.
It’s best to keep the sink and stove at right angles. If they are along the same side, keep them three feet apart and put a green plant between them. They should never be adjacent — symbolic of a conflict between water and fire. The worst scenario, however, is having them directly opposite each other. Ng says this promotes frequent arguments between spouses.
Keep countertops free of clutter and don’t cram cupboards full. This disrupts the qi in the kitchen.
A fruit bowl symbolizes health and abundance as long as the fruit is not overripe or spoiled. Ng also keeps a bowl of nuts on the counter, particularly walnuts because they are shaped like little brains.
Peach (a fire/earth tone) and pale green (a wood tone) are the best colours for a kitchen. Dark hues are the worst. Black, dark blue and grey are water colours that “put out” fire (symbolizing cooking), Ng says. Taupe and red also create bad vibes.