weekend free-for-all – July 1-2, 2017

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: The Humans, by Matt Haig. An alien comes to earth with a mission, sure that he knows what humans are like. He is wrong.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,117 comments… read them below }

  1. Pepper*

    I just wanted to share, since I feel like I can’t tell anyone IRL, that as of yesterday I finally have six months worth of take home pay stored in a savings account. I know that’s not much, since a lot of articles I was reading say you’re supposed to have up to 2 years worth, but it’s taken me about 10 years to save that much and i’s an amount that makes me feel more comfortable about potential job loss or other emergencies in the future.

    1. Anon for this*

      Where do you hear that you need two years’ worth? I’ve mainly heard six months to a year, and that’s from the very strictest advisors (Dave Ramsey).

      Anyhow, congrats!! Saving is HARD and you should be proud of your accomplishment.

      1. Not Karen*

        Yeah, I’ve never heard more than a year. Also it’s not “X months worth of take home pay” it’s “X months worth of expenses” and not current expenses, bare bones expenses. So you have more than you think.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        The same. It’s normally 6 months take home, or a year’s worth of expenses, which are not the same. We know that our must-pays are less than half of our normal budget.

    2. Myrin*

      Yay, congratulations! It’s such a good feeling, isn’t it, that you won’t immediately be in dire straits should your income suddenly fall through for whatever reason.

    3. Canadian Natasha*

      That is awesome! Congratulations! (I’m just re-filling my emergency fund since for various reasons it’s shrunk quite a bit and mine is not even close to 6 mo worth yet)

    4. Bea W*

      Really 2 years of pay? I’ve never heard anything remotely close to that not even from my financial advisor. 6 months of living expenses (which are hopefully lower than your pay) is what I’ve always used as a minimum, although I can understand if recommendations have changed given the last economic crash is still fresh in people’s minds.

      I can’t imagine many people can easily save 2 years of pay very easily. I put a minimum of $500 month into savings. That’s $6000 per year not including interest. Using that example, if you made $60k a year you’re looking at upwards of 10 years (slightly less due to compounded interest but rates are so bad it won’t make a huge dent) to accumulate a year of pay.

      My living expenses are what I’m worried about if I’m out of work so that’s the measure by which I gauge my savings cushion, how many months of living expenses calculated using my current lifestyle so that I have wiggle room to cut a bunch of discretionary stuff in order to stretch it.

      At the moment I have about a year’s pay worth of liquid assets outside of retirement account. That took 17 years of career to build!

    5. Former Employee*

      That’s fabulous! Suze Orman usually recommends saving 6 mos+ of basic expenses – food, rent/mortgage, etc. So, you’re probably ahead of the game. I hope your savings account pays a good interest rate. These days you can get 1% or a bit more on savings accounts if you have an online account.

      Best of luck going forward.

      1. D.W.*

        That is awesome! I have gone through Financial Peace University, and now teach the course, and the recommendation is just 3-6months of expenses. So if you have 6 months of take-home pay you have done a tremendous thing! That is not a small feat. You should definitely be proud!!

    6. K.*

      Congratulations! A favorite professor of mine called it a “F-off fund.” If any situation becomes untenable, you’ll want to be able to tell it to f off and extract yourself from it.

      1. Freezer Beer*

        We call it “F-You Money” same results, you can tell your boss F-You if you need too!

        1. K.*

          Boss, roommate/SO/parents if you’re living with them and that becomes untenable, spouse if you realize you need to part ways …

          I’m building mine back up after I needed it post-layoff, and I legit take pleasure in sacrificing so I can add to it. Not forgoing luxury completely (I did that when I was unemployed), but I really like sucking away money. I’ve always been a saver, not a spender.

    7. Sherry*

      Congrats, Pepper!

      I met that emergency fund goal for myself last year, and I was SO PROUD. It wasn’t easy, but so worth it. I shopped around, and found the highest-interest savings account that didn’t “lock in” the funds. I know some people say that you should just rely on credit in an emergency, and that my money should be earning higher interest in a mutual fund, or something. But I think my emergency fund gives me HUGE peace-of-mind, and it also proves to me that saving money really works.

      1. Seren*

        What high interest savings account do you recommend? I’ve had $1000 in an emergency fund for a year and the interest I’ve made is 40 cents… I want to change that but still want my savings account to be pretty liquid.

        1. Jen*

          Ally, Discover, Capital One 360, and American Express all offer online high yield savings accounts. Just remember that if an emergency situation arises, you can only make 6 withdrawals per month from a savings account in the US.

        2. swingbattabatta*

          We use Ally, and get about 1% interest a month. You should also look into credit unions – they typically have decent interest rates.

    8. Quickbeam*

      I once lost a job very suddenly and unexpectedly. The 6 month savings I had held us afloat for a full year while I got a new (better) job. It saved us from losing our home. Nothing feels better than a cushion to land on. Good for you!

    9. Anxa*

      I’m not there, but we just hit a 1 month expenses savings, which at least gives us time to break a lease, make arrangements to move back in with our respective families.

      It’s something.

      We live on a tutor’s and post-doc’s salary with a ton of student loan debt and some credit card debt, so this was a big accomplishment. We probably would be saving more, too, but I cannot stand paying 20+% interest so a lot of our savings goes to debt reduction.

      Congrats on hitting that benchmark!

    10. Artemesia*

      Kudos. I am crazy conservative about money and there is nothing that gives you peace of mind like knowing you have that cushion. My husband and I have always lived below our means and that meant when he was unemployed for a year and when I lost my job in a merger, while it was miserable, we didn’t have to worry about the money.

      Keep building it. We are retired and quite comfortable and can travel and live in a big city and do what we want because although we had a moderate income, we squirreled away retirement funds consistently over the decades.

      1. Anxa*

        I’m not all that conservative about money and am prone to massive splurges, but overall run pretty frugal. My SO doesn’t always like it when I balk at going to events or eating out, but I remind him that so far we have managed to reach our 30s without working soul crushing jobs for much of our working lives. And let’s keep building a safety net so that we never have to. Whenever my back aches from our saggy mattress or I struggle to keep my too-big-for-my-face Rx sunglasses from slipping or have to finesse our dying vacuum, I keep focused on the big picture.

        And FWIW, when we do get some more cushion, the first thing I want to splurge on are those things that make life a little less miserable. In fact, I’m just starting to look at some sunglasses now that we hit our 1 month cushion mark.

    11. The Expendable Redshirt*

      Congratulations! This is a huge amount! Treat yourself to some ice cream and feel proud.

      I spend a lot of my days trying to convince people to save one month of take home pay. To have three months saved is a respectable amount. It’s a goal that would serve most households. To have six months worth of pay set aside is like bringing a machine gun to a zombie apocalypse. You are going to take care of a heck of a lot of problems with that level of resources.

      Two years of take home pay?!? I’ve never seen a financial article promote that number yet. Hot dang, two years would be a daunting amount to aim for.

      1. The Expendable Redshirt*

        My terminology was a bit off. It’s recommended by many smart folk to have money to cover emergency savings taken care of. So, things like rent, food, prescriptions, transportation and such count as NEED to have expenses. Anything that keeps you housed, alive, and helps you find a job again is emergency fund money. The take home pay that keeps you in your current comfortable life style is different. Gail vas Oxalade would be a Canadian financial smart person recommending this philosophy. If you’ve managed to save six months of your take home pay, that’s even more impressive.

  2. Cactus*

    I’ll be 30 years old this September. I have a great job, make great money, have a place of my own and do not financially depend on my family for anything. I live an hour from my childhood home and once or twice a month I’ll drive home to visit and spend the night with my partner. My mom expects us to do chores while we’re there such as clean all bathrooms, vacuum, do laundry, do dishes (that we didn’t soil) because she says we all benefit from my parents’ hard work. If the house is a “mess” (she has unreachable standards) she shuts down and angrily starts cleaning up, slamming doors, throwing things around. I am very close with my dad so I enjoy spending time with him. My partner has started making excuses when I say that I’d like to visit, such as wanting “time alone”, and that I should go by myself because I he can’t handle the toxicity anymore.

    Is this normal family behavior? My family thinks it is but I have doubts.

    1. Meredith*

      She asks you to clean when you visit and throws a fit if not to her standards? I wouldn’t want to visit any more, either. I help my parents out with chores sometimes when visiting, but cleaning the whole house sounds like a miserable time. I can do that at my own house.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      No this is not normal behavior. At the least it’s passive aggressive, if not downright toxic. Especially slamming and throwing things.

      If your mother is having a hard time keeping up with the house, she should see about hiring a cleaning service to come in 1-2 times a month.

      Otherwise, I think you should invite your dad to come visit YOU.

    3. BeautifulVoid*

      Yeah, no. The rule we go by is “whoever makes the mess cleans it up”. Washing dishes that you didn’t use and are presumably from a meal you didn’t even share is ridiculous. (Though if you all had dinner or whatever together, I guess it might be nice to offer?) If you’re spending the night there, I think basic house guest etiquette suggests you clean up the linens/towels and maybe quickly wipe down the bathroom surfaces, but I wouldn’t expect anything more than that.

      If you’re looking for advice beyond reassurance, I don’t know what to tell you, unfortunately. An hour isn’t that far of a drive, so I’d probably start by eliminating the overnight visits. Maybe don’t even go to the house and meet someplace like a restaurant instead? It sucks that you might have to give up some time with your father due to the unrealistic demands of your mother. If you do continue going there and she starts in with one of her fits, I’d just ignore her as best I could. Since she has “unreachable standards”, as you put it, it probably doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do, so if she wants to stomp around like a toddler, that’s all on her.

    4. OperaArt*

      No, it’s really not normal, at least in a family with healthy relationships. As people often advise here, go to Captain Awkward’s blog and start reading.

    5. Athena X*

      It is not normal to expect an adult child who lives independently to clean their parents’ house while visiting.

      1. Temperance*

        Or to expect biweekly or monthly visits. That’s something my husband’s grandparents/mother expected, and something we had to negotiate. You can’t be an adult and live your own life while also kowtowing to their influence and demands.*

        *There are obviously special circumstances, like helping a terminally ill parent or something, but generally, no, you’re not a child, live your own life.

        1. Fdesigner*

          Thats not what they asked about. This is for your family and it does not mean it is not applicable to others peoples families.

          1. Curiosity Killed The Cat*

            It is not an uncommon thing to reference something in your own life while giving advice so this is a very odd thing to say. Someone says they have a problem and you say ‘Oh, I’ve had this similar thing happen to me and here is how I handled it in my own situation’.

    6. Ann*

      No, that is not normal. As the others said, don’t expect your partner to go, invite your parents to visit you, plan a day trip, and plan activities your dad will want to do. If you are feeling very nice, pay for a spring clean or a few visits from cleaners each year, bit if she is like my mom, she won’t lime that. And if it makes your mom happy and you want to, plan a day trip just to clean.

      But no, that is not normal.

    7. Anon4this*

      No this is not normal but I grew up in a similar environment. Growing up, I would try to help my mom with chores, only for her to constantly yell at me that I wasn’t doing anything correctly, that I was useless, and that she just had to do everything herself – literally anything from washing dishes to laundry to picking up toys in my room. She also didn’t believe in everyone washing their own dishes – she advocated people rotating dishwashing duties entirely. This would have worked out fine, except no one else hand washed the dishes adequately except her, so she “had no choice but to do them herself EVERY TIME”. The end result of all of this was – she did end up doing most of the household chores and would complain to extended family members that I was lazy and useless and never lifted a finger to help her with anything.

      The funny thing is until like, 4 years ago, I grew up thinking she was the sane one – at least until I moved out of the house (I’m now in my mid-twenties.) My mom isn’t even that neat of a person – just crazy. (She is generally a nice person, but has some personality issues that don’t make for good parenting…)

    8. Bryce*

      Helping out around the house? Sure. When I visit home I love helping with yardwork and such because I’m in an apartment here and miss having opportunities to just get out and shovel sometimes. I’m three hours from the parents so I usually visit for a long weekend every couple of months. And it’s just family being family; I visit often enough that we don’t feel the need to do special trips or anything, so there’s plenty of relaxing downtime to just do those chores or read a book or whatever. I’m a country boy living in the “big city” (by my standards) now, so it’s a decompression visit with all the casualness that entails.

      The sense of obligation though, and the tantrums? That’s not normal. My mother reacts that way to stress sometimes (and to be fair I do to though I find stress in different places) but we realize it’s not “okay” to do so. The only sense of “need to do X chore while Bryce is here” is for things that need an extra pair of hands or that Dad shouldn’t do because of his bad back and Mom’s too short and such. Not dishes.

      1. Bryce*

        One thing I’ll mention, if things seem fine otherwise but shift when you visit home, is that the context in which you interact with people can make a large difference. I’m 35 and love visiting the parents, but we tend to regress to parent/child roles with me (willingly) taking a more passive interest in activities. When Mom comes up here for a conference or something and we meet for coffee, or when I meet Dad at the airport while he waits the hour for a shuttle-bus? It results in a noticeably different dynamic and we interact with each other like adults.

        1. Cap Hiller*

          Yes! And I think there’s a sense that my parents don’t have to treat me like a guest–but I haven’t lived at home since I went to college (I’m 34 now). So we end up regressing into old roles in lots of ways.

          OP–maybe consider staying at a hotel? Could change the dynamic up, and frankly, with your partner starting to hesitate, something needs to change

          1. Lindsay J*

            Seconding this.

            My parents don’t demand that I clean when I’m home, but they do otherwise treat me like a child. Like they insist on driving me (while acting like it’s an inconvenience) or sending my younger brother with me to go around the corner to the store, or getting huffy when I am not asleep when they feel I should be (I will be in the guest room with the door closed quietly reading, so not like I am disturbing them), or talking down to me or otherwise treating me like I’m not a capable adult.

            Staying in a hotel and having a rental car when I visit them has been a game-changer. I can enjoy my visit. They have close to no control over my comings and goings or my sleep patterns, and if they start being condescending or otherwise annoying I have a place I can retreat to. I am also not asking them for favors (a ride or a car to use or a place to sleep) which levels the playing field as well.

        2. Artemesia*

          We had a couple of vacation s where we invited my parents to share our beach cabin rental — it was totally neutral turf and although we were the hosts, the dynamic was completely different. We organized pairs to cook dinner so we had time to spend one on one with each parents and each other but the dynamic that occurs in the family house didn’t occur there. I really recommend neutral turf occasionally.

      2. blackcat*

        Yeah, my grandmother keeps a list of “grandchild” chores for when one of her teen or adult grandkids comes by. She is 90 and lives alone (by choice, and with watchful neighbors and a once a week housekeeper paid for by her kids). Seems only fair, and there are enough local grand kids that the “shit grandma needs lifted” list (my 17 year old cousin’s name for it!) gets distributed around. 99% of the tasks are stuff she shouldn’t be doing anyways that require some sort of physical strength. In the last 5-10 years or so, she’s started refusing similar help from her own children, claiming they’re also too old for heavy lifting.

        There are never any tantrums, though, and mosts tasks she gives us are pretty short (eg, she has weeded the garden except for 2-3 big plants that need to be dug up at the roots). She is always appreciative, too, and tends to send us away with home baked goodies. She absolutely has an attitude that she is entitled to help from her offspring, but all in all, she’s pretty reasonable about what that help is. I’d say that that’s normal.

        I’d be super cranky if my mom or dad demanded I do usual chores that did as a kid when I visited (eg, all the family ironing). I absolutely clean up after myself/my husband, and both my husband and I contribute to things like dishes from family meals. But the day to day stuff? They can do it themselves. (Sometimes my husband and I do get tasked with heavy-lifting stuff, but both of my parents have bad backs, so I don’t mind. I do give my brother, who still lives at home, serious side-eye for not helping with those things, though).

    9. Rookie Manager*

      This sounds unreasonable to me.

      My mum has incredibly high cleaning standards that she imposes on herself. (She once broke her arm falling off the back of the sofa having used it as a ladder to clean a high shelf before we visited- I’m too short to even see the high shelf!) And I know my siblings and I all do mad panic cleans before my mum visits although we have also put boundaries in place over the last few years to reduce this a bit.

      When we visit each other (wider family too) everyone ‘mucks in’. If I see my sisters washing mashine is finished, I’ll hang out the clothes, my Dad is usually the first up wherever he stays so knows how to work all our coffee machines, its normal for us to help each other cook meals and clean up after. My partner thinks this is all a bit invasive so no one else will touch our dishwasher and he only does what is asked of him. And we all ask each other, last time by BiL was here he immediately started cooking dinner for everyone cos I was sick – I’ve hoovered their lounge more than my own! HOWEVER, we are certainly not made to do these things, there is normally an offer and a gracious yes please, thank you. Occasionally there is an ask or instructions (Everyone is arriving is 30 min! Fred, please hoover! Freda, please hide all the mess! Wakeen change the babiea nappy!) but it is recipricated and we want to help each other.

      I would agree with other suggestions to visit less, don’t stay over night and invite parents to you. Model the boundaries you see as reasonable and want. So what will make you and your partner happy.

    10. Sam Foster*

      Not normal. Some would consider it emotional abuse. Had a similar family dynamic and the only sane, healthy thing for me was to break away and dramatically reduce communication. I hope you find a solution that works for you.

    11. Temperance*

      I wouldn’t visit. That is not normal family behavior. You’re spending an entire weekend cleaning up after your parents, dealing with an unstable person (your mother), and missing time you could be spending at your home. Do you demand that your parents scrub YOUR home to your specifications? I have a funny feeling that they don’t even bother to see you.

      I’m on your partner’s side here, to be quite honest. Your family is toxic. That’s just not normal. You’re an adult, not their maid.

    12. AcademiaNut*

      I think it’s normal to pitch in for things like dishes, and to tidy up after yourself, and maybe wash the bed linens – things you might not do when staying with non family. And it is normal to help elderly parents with things they can’t physically do themselves, so visits with older parents can be hard physical work. But if you’re 30, and this is a long standing pattern, then it sounds like this isn’t the case.

      But yeah, if I were your partner, I’d develop need time alone on the weekends you went to visit, because a weekend of heavy labour and being temper-tantrumed at is something I’d do about once a year as a favour for my partner, not a couple times a month.

      How does your father view this? With his cooperation, you could drive up, meet him for a few hours over coffee, and drive home. If he backs your mother, it will be harder.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      My FIL said, “The reason you have children is to get them to do your work for you.”
      I said, “And how is that working out for you?”
      His kids avoided him like the plague. Even the simplest tasks were left for adult children.

      Society shifted and he did not get the memo. Maybe at one point it was up to the children to do everything for their parents but now that is just not even thinkable. No one has the time.
      The attitude is key. With FIL he felt entitled and it showed. Your mom, oth, is over the top.
      You are putting yourself through this 12 to 24 times a year? no. just no.

      Here is something to consider. We have a responsibility to our SOs. And one aspect of that responsibility is to protect them from toxic family members. I am not sure how that would look in your life, but for the health/happiness and longevity of your relationship please consider rethinking what you are doing here. Just because you go alone does not mean you have fully protected your other half. There are things to consider such as your other half would like to be with you and do stuff with you. And there are hidden costs such as if you come home tired and/or cranky because of dealing with this. Personally, I would get tense and cranky before the visit. There were times where I just was not my usual self. These things can hurt a relationship and partners can get tired of dealing with the side effects. Just something to think about.

      1. Temperance*

        My parents used to say the same thing, and were really angry when I declined to live with them after college, and even angrier when my sister moved out, too. I remember my mother complaining that she had to wash dishes, and I was like, okay, but Sister and I split that duty every day for something like 10 years, so quit whining.

        You are also totally correct re: SOs. My husband dealt with me acting like a total tool before any visit to my family or his because the dynamic wasn’t great.

    14. Sydney*

      No it’s not. I can see picking up after yourself, doing the dishes after dinner, changing the bed before leaving but not deep cleaning the whole house. She’s only throwing a fit because you’ll cave and do what she wants. You can always leave when she does this and come back when she’s willing to act reasonably.

    15. Senses*

      It’s not normal.

      Also, you didn’t ask about this, but the way you described your partner’s objections to visiting your family is a bit alarming. Wanting time alone, especially from toxic family members, is not an “excuse”; it’s a perfectly reasonable need. Heck, my in-laws are incredibly pleasant people and I still wouldn’t want to spend one or two weekends per month at their place. Your partner made a reasonable request; you shouldn’t dismiss that.

    16. Temperance*

      Uh, also, how are you “benefiting” from your parents’ hard work when you live independently? Hmm.

    17. Zinnia*

      Jumping on the bandwagon.

      Expected to help out bringing things down from the attic because Mom and Dad can’t manage the stairs, or help move that piece of furniture because Mom threw her back out – sure!

      Help clean up after eating the dinner Dad cooked – absolutely!

      Every day household tasks that have to be done whether you are there or not? Nope!

    18. Artemesia*

      This is ridiculous. If you stay with your folks then of course you clean up after yourself and should strip the bed for laundry and clean the bathroom you use and of course help with meals and cleanup BUT to do a bunch of chores, especially if the folks are not disabled is ridiculous and demeaning.

      If I were you, I would stop coming home this often. Make it every 3 mos. And your partner has the right idea. I had lots of time off in my career but my husband’s vacation time was more limited. My parents lived thousands of miles away and it was expensive to visit. I tried to get there for a week or two every year with the kids and if I had business on that coast I would take the kids to stay with their grandparents, but after a few years my husband often ‘had to work’ and couldn’t come — so we could preserve our vacation time as a family to actually vacation somewhere together. And my folks were lovely people (athough not a treat 24/7)

      You are an adult. Next month come once and leave your partner at home, because ‘he had to work this weekend). You had to ‘work the other weekends.’ Then in two months visit again but make plans to get together with an old friend for part of the time in your home city. Once you ACT without a lot of explanation, they will get used to it. And as for the chores. How about you just don’t do them? Clean the bathroom you use, but don’t get around to the others. Don’t argue about it, just don’t do it. And get those visits down to every 3 months and with your partner every 6 months. You will be surprised at how well you can set boundaries if you just assume you can.

      And if it makes you feel guilty then start making concrete plans for your weekends; hike with your partner, do volunteer work, organize a potluck sat night with friends i.e. have a busy life where you ‘don’t have time’ to run home and play Mommy’s little girl every week or two. When you are doing something it is easier to say ‘that won’t be possible.’

      Good luck. Your family is driving you away and deserves to see little of the adult you.

    19. Em*

      Agree with everyone that this is not normal, although as parents age, you do tend to have to help them with some things that they can’t manage on their own anymore.

      One other alternative — since you are only an hour from them, why not eliminate the overnight visits? Visit for the day or the morning/afternoon, help out a little where they really need you, and go home. You are close enough that I don’t see it as odd that you are going to visit once or twice a month, but I do find it odd that those are overnight trips.

    20. Hippie Chick*

      I highly recommend “Toxic Parents” by Susan Forward. I have adult children who live in the same metro area. The most I have asked of them is to help move some furniture from one floor to another. I don’t expect them to clean my house, they don’t live here and I want their visits to be fun, relaxing, catching up with each other. Granted my standards are pretty relaxed, my house is clean enough to keep the health department away and dirty enough to be relaxing and real. IMHO, your mom is not treating you like an independent adult. The book has great recommendations for how to break the patterns.

  3. Merci Dee*

    We have officially finished with the first half of 2017. Didn’t we just finish up with the New Year holidays a few weeks ago . . . .? Oh, well. I guess what they say is true. Time flies when you’re getting old. :)

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      I absolutely agree, Merci Dee, the days do seem to disappear quickly. My family’s standard question was “Doesn’t time fly when you’re havin’ fun … or sedated … ?”

      1. Merci Dee*

        Heh heh heh . . . my dad received a plaque for his last birthday, and it says, “Remember, as far as everyone knows we’re a nice, normal family.” So that’s pretty much become my family’s motto. :)

      1. Merci Dee*

        Hmmmm . . . I vaguely remember some rumors of a year that was called 2016 . . . .

      1. Merci Dee*

        I turned 40 back in March, and that was something of a revelation. I was a single parent heading into middle age. It took me just a minute or two to realize that I was okay with that. My daughter will be 13 in September (the teen years will be . . . interesting), I have a good job with a bunch of people I really enjoy, and I have family that likes to spend time together. And right around my birthday I also realized that, yes, I was finally in decent shape to buy a house. In all the ways that count, things have gone exceedingly well for me over the past decade. Believe me when I tell you that I thank God for this on a daily basis.

        I hope that your 30s bring you all sorts of wonderful growth, exciting adventure, absolute amazement, and every other good thing you could wish for!

        1. Freezer Beer*

          I bought my first – and only – house when I was almost 40. No kids, but I’m still living here and loving it! Go for it and get you a good yard-mowing/landscaping company and the name of a handy-man if you’re not handy. Best of luck!

          1. Merci Dee*

            I’ve been in my new place for just about 6 weeks now, and I adore it! Cherry on the cake – my kid and my cat love it, too! Best decision I’ve made in years.

    2. SaraV*

      I have a monthly task of purging year old documentation, and replacing it with the past month of documentation. The past three or four months I’ve been saying to myself “Didn’t I JUST do this?” Time certainly does fly…

      1. Merci Dee*

        I do several reports at the-place-that-cannot-be-named during the first week of the month, and it seems I’ve barely finished my reports before it’s the last week of the month, and I’m starting it all over again. I think reports are sucking my soul, actually.

      1. Merci Dee*

        I’ve been a fan of your comments for quite some time (not to mention your gorgeous hair in your profile pic!!), and it’s been disheartening to see what you’re going through lately. I’ve made a point of saying a little prayer for you every time I see a comment you’ve made for the day. So, basically, a random chick on the internet that you couldn’t pick out of a lineup is wishing good things for you! Hope that doesn’t creep you out too, too much! :)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Aww, no it doesn’t. It is much appreciated!

          I often stop reading to threaten the universe on other people’s behalf, LOL, even if I don’t comment on their posts. It’s nice to know somebody is doing the same for me. <3

          1. Merci Dee*

            It might not be as effective as kicking someone with your skates, but I do what I can to try to improve things for others. :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My neighbor was just saying, “Yesterday I was 50 and I thought that 80 would be centuries away. Next year I turn 80. Where did that time go?”
      I have known her for 25 of those 30 years. And I, too, think that she was 50 yesterday. Time feels like it is standing still but it is not.

      1. Merci Dee*

        My former landlady is a dear, sweet woman – truly a saint to have put up with my daughter and me for years and years. She’s 87, and frequently talks about how quickly the years have gone. But she feels fortunate to have had as many of them as she has, and I wish her many more. She’s been like a grandmother to me, and she kept my daughter for daycare before kiddo started school. She’s been completely entwined in my life for over a decade, and no one will ever be able to fill the hole she will leave when she finally passes on.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          hmmm. I am feeling a card coming on for my neighbors just something like “thanks for being the best neighbors anyone could wish for…”. I think I will.

      2. Artemesia*

        And it really does get faster the older you get. The theory is is that it is because each year is a tinier fraction of our life. I remember how endless the summers were when I was 4 and 5 and my memories of those are clear — whole decades go by now and I am glad to have pictures.

        1. Merci Dee*

          I heard an interesting theory about this effect, as well. Basically, when you’re younger, so many more experiences are new because you’ve never done them before. They create something similar to recovery points in your memory. But the older you get, the fewer truly “new” experiences you have, so there are fewer markers for your memory to grab onto.

          Dunno if it’s true, but I can see it making sense.

  4. Shayland*

    My older dog (7) started showing symptoms of an incredibly bad UTI with possible kidney or bladder stones just a few hours after I got home from her annual wellness appointment. The past few days have been full of me running back to the clinic to pick up new drugs, waiting to here back test results, and managing her pain. I’m exhausted, and coupled with a couple other things (including the internet meanie I mentioned last week) I just totally fell off the productivity band wagon. I think that’s understandable, but I could use some help getting back on board.

    I spent this morning alternating between cleaning and lazing around playing video games. I’m just generally in a funk.

    Also, the dog’s ultra sound came back clear for stones and cancer, the vet said her bladder was “very very very very inflamed” and the grit she was eliminating could be seen. Her cultures also came back with no bacterial growth. So we have no idea why this is happening. (Poor baby.)

    1. Landshark*

      Poor baby! I hope the dog feels better soon. I know having a sick furbaby is never a fun experience.

    2. Former Employee*

      I hope your dog gets better soon. I used to get UTI’s because I wasn’t drinking enough water. Is she drinking water on a regular basis?

      1. Shayland*

        She constantly has access to fresh water, although she drinks far less than my other dog. I think I’ll ask my vet about how to introduce more liquids into her diet.

        1. Meredith*

          With out cat who wasn’t drinking enough, we mixed water into wet food to help him get more fluids. Talk to your vet, for sure!

          1. Joie De Vivre*

            Ditto what Meredith said – my cats weren’t drinking enough either. Giving them wet food with water worked for them. However, one of my cats won’t eat the food if you mix the food and water. But she will eat the food & drink all of the water if the I put the food in a bowl & pour the water around it. She has me trained well.

            Good luck with your fur baby.

          2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            When my roommate’s cat had the same problem, including inducing urinary problems because of it, we found that he wouldn’t drink extra water if it was plain water, but things like clam juice or the liquid that canned tuna and chicken were packed in got him going, and one way or another it was fluids going into his dumb little body. We diluted a quarter cup of clam juice in 3/4 cup water and he would suck a bowl dry in minutes.

            1. Shayland*

              This is super helpful advice. The only issue will be making sure my other dog stays away from the meat juice bowl. He gets enough water already, lol.

          3. Landshark*

            My parents make sure to mix some warm water into their dogs’ kibble and give them a few spoonfuls of wet food on top because they don’t always stay hydrated on their own. It seems to work wonders, and the dogs actually grew to prefer moist kibbles over dry food. If your dog isn’t too picky about food to be okay with eating that, this might be a good solution.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I can sympathize – my very elderly cat had a bad UTI in May and between all of the vet appointments, cleaning up after her, and just worrying, I wa a mess. Be kind to yourself and take a little down time. Sometimes giving yourself a break for a few days can help you get back into productive mode.

    4. Freezer Beer*

      I have no advice to offer, just a Poor Baby for your baby and you. Hope it straightens up soon!

    5. Djuna*

      Sympathetic internet hugs from me. I’ve been dealing with a 9 year-old cat who has just been diagnosed with kidney disease, it’s not at all fun (for either of us) and I’ve spent much of this weekend in similar funk to you. The vet kept my guy in overnight and flushed his kidneys, which seems to have put some pep back in his step.

      I don’t think anyone would judge you for being distracted – but keep telling yourself that you are doing the best you can for her, because you are. My boss told me that whether it is family or a pet, you do what you need to do, and don’t worry about work. That’s made it easier for me not to be hard on myself for being wooly-brained at work last week.

      +1 to what everyone said about getting her to drink water, plus feeding her wet food more than dry. I hope this was just one of those random things, and she’s feeling better soon.

  5. Vicky Austin*

    I think this has come up before, but I would love some suggestions on the best photo cloud storage as well as the costs associated with it. I know I am way behind the times on this.

    1. Amadeo*

      What about Google Photos? I haven’t used it much and don’t know what the storage cap is, but a 100gig Google Drive subscription is just a couple bucks a month.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Google Photos is free and unlimited, as long as your photos aren’t more than 16 megapixels each (and even then, you can still store backups—they’ll just be high quality instead of original quality).

    2. Kraziekat*

      If you get certain chrome books, you get 100 gig drive space included. You’re probably not looking to get one, but I thought I’d share, and there is photo shop apps you can put on them. (Look for Epik from walmart. We got one for 117 after taxes and it’s great!

    3. Kraziekat*

      Hey, it’s me again, I looked into google drive, and for 100 gigs, it’s 1.99 a month, or pay for a year at 19.99, or 1 Terrabyte for 19.99 a month, or 99.99 a month. I like google drive mainly because I have experience accessing it through loads of different platforms, Windows/andriod/chrome/iOS, with very rare problems.

    4. hermit crab*

      If you have Amazon Prime, you can get unlimited free photo storage. Of course, it only makes sense if you have Prime and plan to keep it, but it’s a good deal if you’d be paying for Prime anyway.

      1. Meredith*

        I was going to say, Prime. Very good deal even if you use only some membership benefits, in my opinion.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Flickr gives you 1TB of storage for free, and gives you the best organizing tools (tags, albums, sets), and allows you to set privacy options at any level, including per photo. That said, I have both Google Drive and Dropbox, because both have their strengths, and I got in on Google Drive when storage was incredibly cheap. IMO the Dropbox app has the best approach to auto-uploading photos, allowing you to pause when your battery goes below a set percentage, and choose between just photos or photos and video, and has a wifi-only option, too.

    6. CAA*

      If you use MS Office applications, then look into an Office 365 subscription. It includes 1 TB of cloud storage and the OneDrive app that automatically backs up photos from your phones. It’s $100/yr for 5 users or $70/yr for 1 user, so the best deal is to split the cost with 4 others and get it for $20.

    7. Lizabeth*

      If you have an external backup drive already for your computer, consider editing down your photos to the ones you ready want to keep and store them there as well as burning back-up discs. External drives are pretty cheap these days.

      BUT the biggest question is how often do you go back through the photos? And from what device most often? Answers to those questions will help determine what you need for storage.

      1. Artemesia*

        In 20 years the digital pictures will probably be gone. Think about how fast technology has gone — from various forms of disks to now CDs and my most recent two computers don’t even have disk drives. So my plan is to make books of important events. I am working on an album of my kids’ childhood right now. I know that hard copy lasts ‘forever’ while digital is ephemeral; NASA can’t even read the data tapes of some of their early space flights. I have prints of my grandparents that are over 100 years old; I hope the great grandchildren will be able to look at the books I will be making. It is easy to make really lovely books on various platforms like Shutterfy and fun to do. I did both of my kids’ wedding albums and they are a lot nicer than the commercial one done for me back in the day.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Actually, I’ve got digital files that are almost 30 years old. I’ve had to open some of them and save them in a new format, but digital does not degrade, and can be preserved indefinitely. A physical photo can and will fade eventually, and that can’t be reverted, it can only be digitally restored. While digital image files haven’t been in common use for as long as physical photographs, I think digital files are more durable.

          1. Vicky Austin*

            Thanks everyone! I actually have a computer, back up, and prints. But, I have a fear of some natural disaster destroying everything….hense the need for “cloud” backup.

  6. AMD*

    Anyone with experience with hyperemesis gravidarum? I am on week 34, so the end is in sight, but after being told that morning sickness will end after week 12/16/20/ second trimester/”sometime soon, surely!”, and church folks and family asking “So you’re feeling better now, right?” on a weekly basis, I am kind of just depressed and want someone to tell the truth about when this ends.

    1. Kristie*

      Wow, I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with this. Hope it gets better for you soon or at least that the time goes by quickly and you’ll soon have your baby!

    2. fposte*

      I’ve had two friends with it. It was really horrible. I think one ended up on a Zofran pump; at least it was considered. For both it ended with the birth with no problems, so hopefully you’ll be done with it soon!

    3. Caligirl*

      I was on both Zofran and Phenergan for the entire length of my pregnancy and I felt fantastic a few hours after my daughter was born. It was really like a switch had been flipped. Congratulations and I hope the next few weeks pass quickly!

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        My friend who had it said she felt the same way – like a switch had been flipped! It was like the baby came out and within an hour or two she felt fantastic.

        I’m so sorry you are dealing with this, AMD.

      2. Amadeo*

        Have not been pregnant, so this is perhaps an unfair tangent, but I’ve had both of those meds. How on earth did you ever stay away after taking a Phenergen dose? The Zofran is wonderful and I horded what I got after a little episode and it’s gone now, but should I ever need an anti-nausea/anti-emetic again, I will totally pay for the Zofran instead of allowing a script for the Phenergen – it didn’t work for me and just made me drowsy.

          1. Caligirl*

            I guess I was lucky and it didn’t start making me drowsy till the last month or so. I was also dealing with some other things like fainting every time I tried to stand, so I spent my days laying down. I much preferred Zofran though!

            1. AMD*

              There has been some recent controversy with Zofran – enough evidence that it may increase risk of birth defect that it isn’t prescribed regularly anymore, though some doctors are skeptical about the strength of the evidence.

              It is so, so good to hear that it should go away when the baby is born! I have hoped, but I kind of can’t remember what it’s like to not worry about throwing up anymore so I was a little resigned too. ^_^

    4. Former Employee*

      I can’t locate the book now, but Dr. Atul Gawande has a chapter on this in his book “Complications”. No one seems to know why it happens. The woman profiled in the book was fine after she gave birth.

    5. Gen*

      I finally stopped being sick when my son stopped growing (35 weeks) but was very nauseous for 3 weeks after he was born (which would have put the nausea stopping at 40 weeks if he hadn’t been early). I’m sorry to say my mom was still vomitting 6 weeks after I was born. It really is different for everyone.

      1. AMD*

        Oh noooo. Good to know going in that it’s a possibility though… thanks for the heads-up.

    6. Clever Name*

      My friend who had it with all 4 of her pregnancies said it ended when her babies were born. It really sucks and nobody should have to go through what you’re going through.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      You and the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton). Apparently she had it with both kids.
      No experience with it, but I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. :(

    8. Jules the First*

      No babies here (yet), but I had “morning sickness” for the first day of my period every.single.month for ten years before my mother caved and let me go on the pill. It’s the number two reason I’m not pregnant yet (number one being a shortage of funds)

      1. hermit crab*

        Huh, that’s really interesting. I’ve also never been pregnant but had “morning sickness” for a week or two every time I switched pills or went back on the pill after stopping for a while (now I have an IUD, so no more of that nonsense!). I also had a nausea disorder in my early-mid 20s that may have been hormone-linked (google “cyclical vomiting,” if you dare). It cleared up on its own about five years ago, but fear of HG is still #2 on my list reasons of why I haven’t gotten pregnant (though the first one is “we’re not sure we want kids” so that will probably win out in the end, haha).

        AMD, I hope you feel better soon!

    9. blackcat*

      If you are still sick to week 34, you will be sick until the baby comes, at least. One friend who had HG only had it clear up about 4-6 weeks after the baby was born. She couldn’t breast feed because she had basically starved the entire pregnancy. I think that is basically the worst case scenario. Baby is a happy and healthy 4 year old and it is all a distant memory now (though the 4 year old is/will be an only child. My friend isn’t going to risk a similar pregnancy again). My friend is healthy, too. About 5 months after the birth, she was back up at her pre-pregnancy weight (she was ~30lbs lighter when she gave birth, bottomed out about ~45lbs lighter at 2-3 weeks pp).

      Seems more common that HG resolves soon after birth. Hoping that’s the case for you!

    10. Hippie Chick*

      My daughter had the same DX during her pregnancy. Baby was due the first week of January. Daughter took the last pill on Christmas eve, and knew she would have to grit her teeth to the birth because they didn’t want to buy a whole prescription for a week. She went into labor several hours later and the baby was born Christmas day. Baby and mother did fine, baby is growing totally normally.

    11. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      6 weeks postpartum for me. Now, it wasn’t as severe those last six weeks, but it was definitely there and impacting me still.

      But I’ll be honest – I had very mild nausea the first trimester. In fact, it was around week 13 that the HG started for me. By week 14 when my husband hauled me to my OB, I had lost 10 lbs and needed IV hydration. God bless Zofran, what I called my “happy pill”. As long as I maintained the zofran every 8 hours, I could function. If I was delayed a bit, it would typically take 24-48 hours for me to get things back under control.

      I also delivered at 36 weeks. And really, I don’t think I’ve completely recovered 7 years later. It’s probably much more mental than physiological, but I’m ultra sensitive to smells and easily nauseated now.

  7. Landshark*

    My husband and I closed on a house yesterday! So, on one hand, yay moving expenses and debt… on the other hand, we have a house now and it’s a way better commute for both of us! I’m really excited, so I thought it was worth sharing.

      1. Landshark*

        This is our first house together, though we’ve been living together in our apartment since 2014!

  8. bassclefchick*

    I am SO EXCITED!!! I’m going to Summerfest tomorrow in Milwaukee, WI! Haven’t been there in years. I have tickets to see P!nk!!! She is one of my favorites and I am so glad I’m going to get to see her live.

    What music festivals/artists are you excited to see this summer?

    1. Kristie*

      I’m going to see Nickelback at the Mohegan Sun casino in a few weeks. Super excited! We saw them back in 2006 when we were dating and it will be neat to see them again now that we’re married.

    2. the gold digger*

      Primo got a free lawn pass to see Paul Simon last night. He was happy. :)

      I am looking forward to seeing The Spinners on closing night. I have already blocked my calendar for Monday morning – I want no 8:00 a.m. meetings after a 9:30 concert.

      1. fposte*

        OMG the Spinners were huge in my childhood soundtrack. That sounds like a wonderful concert–have fun!

        1. the gold digger*

          They were at Summerfest a couple of years ago and were fabulous! They can still put on a show.

          Kool and the Gang were here last year. I kept waiting for them to play, “Get Down Tonight.” Then I realized that all bands that start with “K” are not KC and the Sunshine Band. Which was still fine, because Kool and the Gang are also great.

    3. Mimmy*

      I’ve never considered myself a P!nk fan, but I would love to see her live.

      In August, we’re going to Atlantic City to see The Revolution, Prince’s former band from the Purple Rain days. They’ve been back together and touring for the last year or so. Really excited!!

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      I love P!nk! She’s my absolute favorite!

      No Summerfest for us this year, and I wish y’all would stop backing up traffic. LOL

      And don’t forget your rain poncho! 86 and stormy tomorrow.

    5. Nervous Accountant*

      I’m seeing Hanson in September, a 20 year childhood dream come true!!!! *SQUEEEEEE*

      1. Mimmy*

        I didn’t know they were still touring! I remember seeing them on some summer TV show a couple years ago; they did MMMBop, and it was surprisingly good!

      2. Audiophile*

        I look back fondly on my Hanson phase, though I’m pretty sure everyone else who was in my life at that time does not. I was pretty obsessed.
        Have fun at the concert!

    6. Temperance*

      I saw Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me on Thursday and I’ve seeing John Mullaney at the end of the month.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Not going anywhere, but if I could pick anyone, I’d want to see James Vincent McMorrow. He has a new album out called True Care and it’s brill.

    8. SL #2*

      I am going to a new festival out here in September called High and Low Fest; it’s sponsored by KROQ, so I feel safe with trusting them to handle logistics and booking in a responsible, safe way.

      It also helps that two of my favorite bands are on the bill and I never imagined they would be because of how different the genres are.

    9. Jen RO*

      I doubt anyone here ever heard of Ayreon, but it’s prog metal, basically one guy who puts out albums with 10-15 guests (and they change for every album). The logistics make touring impossible, but in September they have 3 specials concerts scheduled in Netherlands and guess who has tickets! Floor Jansen, Anneke van Giersbergen and Marco Hietala on the same stage, aaah!

    10. Fenchurch*

      Enjoy! I’ve been to Summerfest twice already this year (love the promotional get-in-free days!). Planning on going this Friday to see Walk The Moon!

      Some day I will make it to Eaux Claires. Some day.

  9. Myrin*

    I just finished making apricot and raspberry jam (not mixed; I did a few glasses with apricots and a few with raspberries) – first time with the paritcular recipes and I’m excited to see how they’ll turn out. So far, my taste-tester (my mum) approves, but they’re not even really set yet so the final judgment is still pending.

    Are any of you guys jam-makers? Canners? If so, is there something you do regularly? What are some of your favourites?

    1. Lady Jay*

      I do refrigerator jam, basically boiling fruit down with sugar until it reaches a jam like consistency. I add balsamic vinegar (very good with strawberries) and it keeps for ages. Yummy!

      1. the gold digger*

        We have a pear tree, so I make a lot of pear jam. And this guy at work keeps giving me rhubarb, so I have made rhubarb marmalade.

        I am very careful to tell people when it is refrigerator jam vs processed and I assumed everyone did that. Then I learned that some friends had been giving me un-processed jam that they had not refrigerated. When I found out, I told them you know, people can die from that and I got the, “But that’s how my grandmother did it!” argument.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I honestly don’t really eat jam from friends unless I’ve actually seen them can it. I’d rather do my own because I know my safety standards.

          I’m jealous of your rhubarb – I’ve had a hard time getting it to grow here.

          1. Workaholic*

            We used to get 3 or 4 harvests of rhubarb a year. But it was planted right outside the dryer vent area with southern exposure and as such was the first thing growing every year

        2. Lady Jay*

          Oh, lord. No, refrigerator jam is absolutely kept in the refrigerator. Hence the name. :)

          I’m told it’s not *that* hard to can, but the potential for things to go disastrously wrong makes me nervous, so I stick to the stuff in the refrigerator. Tastes delicious.

    2. Marzipan*

      I quite often make jars of hedgerow jelly – with blackberries, cherry plums, damsons, apples, rowan, rosehips, whatever I can find, really.

    3. The RO-Cat*

      Here we’re big on canning all sorts of fruit and veggies for winter. In my family there’s no winter without jams made of: plum, apricot, strawberry, mirabelle, cherries (bitter cherries, sour cherries), green tomatoes, squash (also pickled, it’s madness), quince (also as jelly – rare treat), wild strawberries, apples (preserved ready-to-fill for apfelstrudels). Also, compotes (fruits in sweet syrup).

      On the savoury side: lots of a vegetal spread called “zacusca” (essentially eggplants and bell peppers, fried on open flame, then boiled with oil and spices); pickles (cucumbers, eggplants, green tomatoes, cabbage, our own kimchi recipe, plums, grapes, watermelons, squash or zucchini etc). All the feverish autumn activity explainable by our communist heritage – either you did it yourself or you starved.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      I love canning, but I found I wasn’t consuming or giving enough jam away to continue making it.

      Although I LOVE to can sour cherries in bourbon syrup. Everyone loves to get it as gifts – so good on ice cream and spoons. I also do refrigerator pickles – I have a few quarts of pickled carrots. And I make some unique stuff – last year I canned a bunch of Ketchup Aux Verts – a quebecois green relish made from green tomatoes at the end of the season. It’s really good on meatloaf.

    5. Liane*

      Haven’t done any sort of canning in so many years. My dad & I used to can when I was a teen. All kinds of stuff, mostly jellies and high acid vegetables like pickles and his “Clone” of Del Monte’s Italian style zucchini.

      Dad liked the DM version so he made his own based off the ingredients list on their can–cubed zucchini, diced onions, lots of diced tomatoes to make the sauce, and possibly some diced green pepper. I can’t come up with quantities, because Dad’s idea of a recipe was “Whatever and however much I think it needs.”
      If we get to move up to family property next year and he actually does a big garden/greenhouse, I may get back into canning. First I am going to insist he get us a proper pressure canner, so I can do low-acid veggies that can’t be safely done open-kettle.

    6. Anonyby*

      Lemon stuff is my most common canned item (lots of lemon jelly!), mostly because I have a dwarf lemon tree, and it’s hard to go through all the fruit. And access to other lemon trees that are even more prolific. I basically have no excuse to not use fresh lemon. :)

      I will use whatever fruit I can get in bulk for cheap. One year it was a friend’s plums. My first year, my mother’s coworker had gone blueberry picking with her mother and gave me a whole flat of blueberries. That made a lot of jam!

    7. Natalie*

      I garden a pretty big plot, so inevitably I end up with some stuff to can every year. I pickled peppers and carrots last year; I will probably end up putting up some tomatoes this year.

      The only thing I do annually thus far is apple butter, but once my class is over I’d like to expand my jam/fruit butter options.

      1. PLORP*

        One of our local farmers does seconds peaches by the box and we always get one 4th of July weekend to make peach jam and peach salsa. Some years we also make corn salsa (this is one of those years). We were going to make enchilada sauce and ordered the tomatoes and then realized that we loaned our pressure canner to my aunt, so we are scrambling to find some new recipes to use up the tomatoes.

        Other times of the year we make various jellies: roselle(hibiscus) Jelly, mint jelly, and champagne jelly for Christmas presents. Cranberry pepper jelly is another winter one. And green apple butter. We make blueberry jelly in the summer if we get to the blueberry bushes by my aunt’s house. We’ve made other random jellies/jams/marmalades over the years when people have give us things to use. I can’t eat marmalade, so we don’t do that u less someone hands us a bag of citrus.

    8. Workaholic*

      Apple butter. I leave the sugar out though because Apple’s are plenty sweet enough

    9. Artemesia*

      I am an utter jam failure. Years ago I diligently followed a recipe for making plum jam with natural pectin in the fruit — I ended up with a gallon of plum syrup which we used on french toast and it was lovely. Then I recently tried freezer strawberry jam which my mother used to make and it was great — but mine didn’t jell. Now I just make rhubarb sauce and go a little light on the water and end up with something I enjoy on bread.

  10. Myrin*

    That is a delightful picture of Eve!

    Which reminds me – Alison, is she still the shiest scaredy-cat among your lot or has that completely vanished? I recently remembered about the time when you got her and how you later said she continuously came out of her shell but I’m interested to know if part of her early behaviour might be her personality as well or if it was just the particular situation she was in.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it was just the situation. She was basically feral when we got her and clearly thought we were predators and it took her a long time to trust us. But now, as long as it’s just us, she’s completely relaxed, adores affection, wants nothing more than to be petted all the time, and is possibly the happiest cat I’ve ever known. She recently learned she likes to speak, and she’s been expanding her repertoire of happy sounds. But when strangers are around, she reverts to her feral roots and hides. After the mobile vet was here, she hid in the bathtub for hours. Aside from strangers, though, she’s very chill. I’m curious to see how she’s going to react to the new house.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Our super-shy cat is actually okay with moves. We always leave his cat carrier out and open for him, and the cat tree is like the first piece of furniture put in place, always. So as long as he has his usual places to hide- under his same couch that still smells like him, even if it’s in a new place- he’s been okay. A little skittish, but he is still a cat and will come out to cautiously explore if he thinks no one is looking. The only time he really freaked out was when we moved cross country into a temporary apartment until we closed on our house, so all we had was clothes and inflatable mattresses and the few essentials we would cram into the car. He and the other at- and they were NOT friends- ended up hiding together in a single carrier for a couple days, and I kept open an empty lower cabinet for them in the kitchen. But then he discovered the room his litter box was in had nice wide window sills that looked down onto a street with people and things- but up high where they couldn’t get him- as we’d never lived downtown in a city before, and all was well.

    1. Allypopx*

      It’s hard to see clearly when you’re that close to something. Good luck, I’m glad you have a plan.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You’re sounding really good here, clear thinking and eyes wide open. And for that part, I am very happy for you.

      Some stuff is like house mold. We notice that something is not quite right, then think nothing further of it. Then one day we notice the entire wall is covered with mold. And how did it get this far so fast? Or was it there all a long? hmm. Sometimes our eyes suddenly fly wide open, we get insight we did not have before. Expect these insights/new clarity to occur more often. And these insights may be in UNrelated aspects of your life. The common thread you will be able to find is that these insights benefit you in some way. I think that is because once we decide to look at things with fresh eyes, we start seeing more things we missed before.
      Keep going, you’re getting stronger and stronger.

      1. Commenter previously known as something lazy*

        Also we have a bad mould problem in the house and I keep being horrified by how bad it is so your analogy made me laugh (and remember I have to sort it out!).

      2. nep*

        Well said and so spot on – ‘he could turn violent if I leave’ can only mean get the hell out.
        All the best to you. Peace.

      3. (Not So) Codependent*

        This is a great analogy and exactly what happened in my own marriage. To further it…creeping mold often makes you low-level sick in ways you don’t really realize until you clear it out and remember (or learn!) what it feels like to be fully healthy.

        Best of luck to you, Previously Known As.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      “How did I not see?!”

      I think most of us who have dealt with that could say the same. It’s especially true of emotional abuse — it’s so damn insidious! And you’ve taken that hard first step — admitting that this situation is untenable. That can be so hard.

      I’m the child of divorced parents, and my biological father is a nightmare in human form — so from the kid’s perspective, yes, get out!

    4. Artemesia*

      I hope you have done a medical power attorney to a relative (best if possible) or a good friend. I remember when my brother was divorcing that I encouraged him to do that asap and he had already done that — imagine having your very angry ex but not yet divorced wife in charge of you if you had a stroke or something?

      I assume you have also got your financial ducks in a row particularly documenting all assets, taxes, insurance etc and have that paperwork documentation outside the home.

  11. Sugar of lead*

    So here’s a fun game to play with someone from a different part of the country/world:

    1. What do you call the footwear worn for sports and PE class?
    2. What do you call the multi-lane road used for traveling long distances at high speeds?
    3. What do you call the fizzy drink that comes in cans or bottles?
    4. What do you call the basket on wheels that you put things in at the store?
    5. What’s your second person plural pronoun (you-plural)?
    6. How do you pronounce the following: aunt, pecan, caramel, apricot, en route, data, crayon, and envelope?

    Post your answers and where you’re from, and let’s see how diverse we are around here.

    1. Bigglesworth*

      I’m from the center of the US. Here are my answers –

      1. Tennis shoes
      2. Highway
      3. Soda
      4. A Cart
      5. You all or y’all or all y’all (this one usually gives me away;) )
      6. I’m not quite sure how to write down my answers to this one….

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        North England:
        1. What do you call the footwear worn for sports and PE class?
        Trainers. However we also have pumps or plimsolls, and a lot of people round here call plimsolls sand shoes. I had no idea what school meant by sand shoes on the uniform list!

        2. What do you call the multi-lane road used for traveling long distances at high speeds?

        3. What do you call the fizzy drink that comes in cans or bottles?
        Pop. Or fizzy pop.

        4. What do you call the basket on wheels that you put things in at the store?

        5. What’s your second person plural pronoun (you-plural)?

        6. How do you pronounce the following: aunt, pecan, caramel, apricot, en route, data, crayon, and envelope?
        On root

        1. Annie Mouse*

          I’m the same sort of area as Purple snowdrop but not a local and the only difference is I say aunt as ‘aren’t’. And where I’m from we don’t use pop, we call it by the brand/type but I’ve learnt to use pop since I’ve been up here!!

        2. Kat*

          Oh, sandshoes is a Scottish thing, that’s what we called them when I was at school (although not sure why it extended to North England!). Even though they were never used with any sand. (?)

      2. Freezer Beer*

        I’m from north Texas
        1. tennie shoes
        2. highway
        3. coke
        4. buggy
        5. y’all or all y’all
        6. ant when talking about them, aint when saying their name “Aint Florence”, “Aint Martha”, etc.

        1. Freezer Beer*

          On #3, it’s all coke. So you’ll get the question “what kind of coke do you want?” and you can answer “Dr. Pepper”.

          1. apparently not the only fashion designer here*


            The correct answer to “what kind of coke?” is Dr Pepper, always. (which is actually spelled without the period, by the way!)

        2. apparently not the only fashion designer here*

          Also from north Texas, and the only things I say differently are:

          4. cart
          6. ant – always

    2. Caledonia*

      1) plimsols
      2) dual carriage way or motorway
      3) pop (or fizzy juice)
      4) trolley
      5) you (!!?) You guys? Everyone?
      6) exactly how they are spelt, except data which I say dayta and ape-ricot.

    3. Lady Jay*

      1. Sneakers
      2. Interstate/highway
      3. Soda
      4. Shopping cart
      5. Y’all
      6. Aunt = pronounced like ant
      Pecan = pe-kahn
      Apricot = with an “a” as an “apple”
      En route = aen root
      Data = long a, as in “anger”
      Drayon = CRAE-on; envelope = ONvelope

      (Sorry, can’t figure out how to do all the phonetic spellings!)

      I was born & raised in the Midwest/Great Plains, but my mom is from the Northeast, and that affects my word choice/pronunciation, I think.

      1. Bethlam*

        I love maps, and I love linguistics, language, etc., so that link was a real treat on a Monday morning!

    4. Canadian Natasha*

      Obviously I’m from Canada. (English-speaking Western Canada to be more specific)

      1. Runners
      2. Highway
      3. Pop
      4. Shopping cart
      5. You (or “you guys”)
      6. Ant- like the bug (some people say ont but that sounds snobby to me), pē-CAN (rhymes with van), cāre-ah-mell, ĀY-prick-ot, on rōōt, dah-tu (or dāy-tu), CRĀY-on, ON-vell-ōpe

      I’m curiousto see how many variations we get! :)

      1. Canadian Natasha*

        I used vowels with a line like ā to indicate hard vowels (ay, ee, iy, owe, and you sounds) and vowels without to indicate soft sounds (ah, eh, ih, oh, uh). Syllable emphasis is capitalized.

    5. Amadeo*

      From the Midwest, southernmost IL:

      1. Tennis Shoes
      2. Highway/Interstate
      3. Soda
      4. Cart
      5. Y’all/all y’all
      6. ant, peck-an, car-mel, ape-rih-cot, ahn root, day-ta, cray-on, ahn-vel-ope.

    6. Claire (Scotland)*

      1. Trainers
      2. Motorway
      3. Fizzy juice or soft drink.
      4. Trolley
      5. You
      6. Ant, pee-khan, kha-ra-mel, aa-prih-cot, on root, day-ta, kray-on, en-veh-lope (as close as I can get them to phonetic)

      I’m from Edinburgh, Scotland.

    7. Marzipan*

      From the UK (southerner):

      1- Trainers. Maybe plimsolls for the really PE class-specific ones.
      2- Motorway
      3- Fizzy pop, or maybe just ‘a fizzy drink’
      4- Trolley
      5- You
      6- aren’t, pee-can, karra-mel, apricot with the ‘a’ as in ‘hay’, on root, day-ta, kray-on, onvelope.

    8. Zona the Great*

      Southwestern US
      Tennis shoes
      You guys
      Ant, peecan, carmul, apricot with an a like ant, in route (and on suite for some reason), dayta, invelope.

    9. Cruciatus*

      1. Sneakers
      2. Highway
      3. Pop/Soda (but never soda pop).
      4. Cart/Shopping cart
      5. Ya’ll or “Hey everyone”
      6. Ant. Pee-can/Puh-cahn/pee-can, care-a-mel, app-ruh-cot, on route, datuh, kran, onvelope.
      Honestly, most of these vary with how I’m using the word. And once I start thinking about it, I no longer remember how I actually say it. I live in an area that had people traveling through once upon a time, so multiple pronunciations aren’t weird here, but some are definitely more popular than others. I just asked my sister the same questions and she said everything I did, almost verbatim, including it depends on how a word is being used.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I went back and accidentally added pee-can twice, so there isn’t a third pronunciation I have for that word, I just missed I had already written it. Oops! I’m in Northwest PA.

        1. anon24*

          Interesting that I read your list and knew you were from PA and our answers match, but my pronunciations are different and I’m originally from southeast PA.

          1. Cruciatus*

            Truly, ask me on another day and I will have a different pronunciation for you. I need someone to “catch me” say these things when I’m not self conscious about it! The only ones that I know I don’t change are “ant” for aunt, “app-ruh-cot” for apricot, “on root” for en route, and “kran” for crayon. I just realized now that the en route part was likely whether one says root or rout.

    10. StrikingFalcon*

      I’m from the northeast of the US

      1. Sneakers
      2. Highway (and the road that runs alongside it is an access road)
      3. Soda
      4. Shopping cart
      5. You guys
      6. Ant or Awnt (but as a title, like Aunt Meagan, always ant); pee-can (but it’s pee-cawn pie); caer-mel or car-mel; a-pri-cot (short a as in cat), ehn root (but route by itself is rowt), daeta, crae-yawn, ehn-vel-ope

      1. Ex-Michigander*

        Hmm, never heard access road. I always called it a service drive.

        Where I am now they usually call it a frontage road.

        1. TL -*

          Feeder road, if you really want to locate yourself (Houston but it’s made its way down to south Texas as well.)

    11. Undine*

      1. Running shoes or training shoes (but when I was a kid, they were sneakers. The other things didn’t exist.)
      2. Freeway (can’t believe I’m the first on that)
      3. Coke (or other brand/type name — don’t really use the generic)
      4. shopping cart
      5. You or you guys
      6. ant, pecahn, care-a-mel, app-ruh-cot, on root, day-ta, cray-on, onvelope

      1. nonprofit manager*

        I am also from California (Southern) and for #2, I call it a freeway if it’s in an urban/suburban area. If not, I call it a highway.

      2. Dead Quote Olympics*

        Yup, grew up in California and those are mostly true for me except when I autocorrect to highway or pop (living in the Midwest now).

        The big difference is I say “ahhhh-nt” like a New Englander because that’s how my dad and my New England cousins referred to all our aunts and for some reason that stuck when I was a kid.

        I grew up in the Central Valley of California and as far as I know we are the only people on earth who say “ah-mond” — like the a in “at” or “Atlantic” — for almond.

    12. Jen*

      American, moved around a lot but mostly midwest and Southwest:

      1. Sneakers (but will say tennis shoes)
      2. Highway
      3. Soda
      4. Shopping Cart
      5. You guys, occasionally Y’all
      6. Ant, Pee-cahn, Care-a-mel, Ah(like ant)-pri-coht, on root, dayta, cray-on, on-vell-ope.

      1. Jen*

        I’ll add that I occasionally will pronounce “soda” with a hardcore midwestern o, like Minnesoooota.

    13. Don't turn this name into a hyperlink*

      Grew up Hawai’i with aMom from California and a Dad from Ney, so here goes:

      1. Covered shoes
      2. Don’t remember what it’s called
      3. Soda
      4. Shopping card
      5. You
      6. Ant for me, ahnt or ahntie for everyeone else
      on root

      1. Don't turn this name into a hyperlink*

        Actually, 2 alternates between highway and freeway.

    14. nep*

      What a fun game.
      Midwest US
      Tennis shoes (sometimes sneakers)
      You guys (though I and some family members often say ‘yunz’ as we’ve got relatives and have spent time in Pittsburgh)

    15. TL -*

      Texas is where I grew up
      1) tennies is what I call them but tennis shoes is acceptable too.
      2) highway and freeway but I tend towards highway
      3) coke or soda water
      4) shopping cart
      5) y’all or all y’all
      6) crayon like crown except they sound distinctly different and I can’t pin down why.

    16. Pet sitter*

      1. Sneakers or tennis shoes
      2. It’s probably a highway but there are other words for variations on “highway”
      3. Soda
      4. Cart
      5. You all, y’all
      – Aunt: both ways
      – Pecan: both ways
      – Caramel: the first syllable like “care,” not like “car,” though I use that sound in “caramelize”
      – Apricot: the first syllable like “app,” not “ape”
      – En root: “en root”
      – Data: the first syllable like “day”
      – Crayon: “crayin” if I’m not paying attention
      – Envelope: “on-velope”

      From the Southern U.S.

      1. Pet sitter*

        I meant to change my username, but w/e. Enjoy a random pet sitter’s regionalisms.

    17. anon24*

      1. Sneakers (or cleats depending what sport!)
      2. Highway
      3. Soda
      4. Shopping cart
      5. Guys (guys is 100% gender neutral around here)
      6. Ant, pi-con (not pie) or pee-con, either care-mel or care-a-mel, ape-ri-cot, en rowt, date-a, not sure how to write crayon but it’s got a l at the end before the n!, en-va-lope

      I’m in central Pennsylvania but I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and still talk like that. People around here tend to stare when I talk and I only moved 100 miles from home!

    18. Anonyby*

      Born & raised California.

      1. Sneakers (sometimes tennis shoes)
      2. Highway / Freeway
      3. Soda soda soda! lol
      4. (Shopping) Cart
      5. You
      6. Ant, pee-KAHN, CAYR-mel, AY-prih-cot, en rauwt (dipthongs are hard to do this way!), DAY-ta, CRAY-yon, EN-vel-ohp

    19. Ex-Michigander*

      I’m from Michigan, but influenced by New Yorker parents. Living in the Mountain West now.

      1. Sneakers
      2. Highway or freeway, I feel like there’s a distinction but I can’t remember it? Highways let on to local roads and freeways have more controlled entrances/exits?
      3. SODA.
      4. Cart
      5. Guys? You all?
      6. aUnt, pee-can, care-a-mel, apri-cot, en root, dah-tah, cray-yon, envel-lope?

      1. Native Michigander*

        1. I grew up saying “tenner shoes,” have never seen this in print and know it was supposed to be “tennis shoes” but would have felt horribly pretentious saying tennis anything. Now I go with “sneakers” or more accurately with my shoes, walking shoes.
        2. Expressway or highway
        3. Pop… but now I never call it anything because I don’t know anyone who drinks it. Coke, generically, or DPC for Diet Pepsi Cola back when I was an addict.
        4. Cart
        5. You guys or just you, y’all if I’m feeling Ypsituckian
        6. Ant (aUnt was how black folks said it in my region, or perceived as snobby white folks), pee-can, car-mel, apricot (is there more than one way to say this?), Day-tah (like the guy), cran (rhymes with can), en- or on-velope.
        But how do you guys say “milk” and “wash?” And I wonder if ex-Michigander is from different parts than I am? (Was too far south to have a Yooper accent.)

        1. Another Michigan Native*

          Also from Michigan, and mine are pretty much like yours, except:
          1. tennishoes (all one word-never felt pretentious.)
          2. or freeway if in the city.
          3. Pop. For this one, I feel pretentious if I say soda.
          5. you guys, never y’all. And sometimes I say yous but I don’t know anyone else who says that.
          6. If ice cream, it’s butter pecahn. App ricot as opposed to Ape ricot. And dayta or datta depending on how it’s used.
          Milk is sort of melk, and wash is waush–even thought my mom said warsh:)

      2. CorruptedbyCoffee*

        I’m from Michigan and I’ve never heard someone say soda! Around my area it was always pop. Also, tennis shoes, and freeway. A weird one I had trouble with after moving to the west: balsamic. There’s a definite pronunciation difference and servers kept correcting me.

    20. Liane*

      1. What do you call the footwear worn for sports and PE class? Sneakers, tennis shoes, or running shoes
      2. What do you call the multi-lane road used for traveling long distances at high speeds? Highway or interstate
      3. What do you call the fizzy drink that comes in cans or bottles? soda
      4. What do you call the basket on wheels that you put things in at the store? cart or buggy
      5. What’s your second person plural pronoun (you-plural)? You all
      6. How do you pronounce the following: aunt, pecan, caramel, apricot, en route, data, crayon, and envelope?
      En-vah-lope (rhymes with “rope”)

      I was born & raised in Florida.

      Notes: Dad lived all over the Deep South & Florida, but my Mom was from Pennsylvania–so my accent has always been mixed up and has probably gotten odder in the 10 years I’ve lived in Arkansas. I always ask people who comment on it where they thought I was from, and common guesses are Wisconsin, New England, and New York state (but my NY native friend says I don’t have any sort of NY accent)

      1. acmx*

        I’m born/from Florida and spent most of my childhood in Florida (north)
        1. Tennis shoes, sneakers and later in life running shoes
        2. Highway or freeway
        3. Soda
        4. Cart
        5. Y’all and all y’all
        6. Ant. Now I’d probably say Aunt.
        Pee-can early on, pee-con
        Kar-mul (unless I’m reading it and then care-uh-mel

        I’d say I don’t have much of an accent. I also talk fast.

    21. CAA*

      California native
      1. Tennis shoes
      2. Freeway
      3. Soda
      4. Cart
      5. You (or you guys)
      6. ahnt, pe-CAHN, care-ah-mell, AP-ri-cot, en root, DAY-tah, CRAY-on, EN-ve-LOPE

    22. NJ Anon*

      You? Isnt it both? Or you all?
      Ant, pee can, cara mel, apri cot, en root, cray on, en ve lope

      1. Gitty*

        Hey finally a perfect match to what I say- and funnily enough I’m in NJ too guess regional words are a real thing even in a boring place like nj

    23. Turkletina*

      1. Sneakers
      2. Highway
      3. Soda
      4. Carriage
      5. y’all
      6. [ant], [‘pikæn], [‘kaɹml], [æpɹɪkɔt], [ɔn ɹut], [deɪɾə], [‘kɹeɪjɔn], [anvəlowp]

      I’m from (Eastern) New England, and I’m also a linguist.

      1. Loopy*

        I was going to start crying if no one else said carriage. I’ve been mocked everywhere I moved for using that term! I was beginning to think it was ONLY me!!!

        (I’m from New England too :) )

    24. AlaskaKT*

      1. Tennis shoes
      2. Two lanes is highway, 4 or more is freeway
      3. Soda
      4. Grocery cart
      5. Y’all or all y’all
      6. Ant, pea-CON, car-Amel, a-pri-cot, in root, dayta, cra-yon, and en-vi-lope

    25. Miso*

      1. Sportschuhe
      2. Autobahn
      3. Softdrinks or Limonade
      4. Einkaufswagen
      5. ihr
      6. Probably wrong

      Did I do this right? ;P

      1. Arkansas*

        Miso has my favorite answers. ;-)

        I’m from Arkansas – ARK an saw.
        1. Tennis/running shoes
        2. Highway/interstate
        3. Soda. Or coke (small “c,” not the brand)
        4. Cart. Has changed from “buggy” over past 25-30 years.
        5. Y’all in central/southern part of state. Natives of the northwest Arkansas mountains say you-uns.
        6. Ant, piCON, CAR-a-mel, APE-ri-cot, on root, DAY-ta, CRAY-on, IN/ON-vuh-lope.

    26. extra anon*

      I grew up on the east coast of Canada.

      1. Sneakers
      2. Highway
      3. Pop
      4. Cart
      5. You or Guys or Everyone I guess, depending on the situation. Occasionally I’ll use they or them as well.
      6. Ant/Pee-can/Care-ah-mel/Ah-pri-cot/On root/Day-ta/Cray-on/En-veh-loap

    27. WellRed*

      Depends, but usually highway.
      Grocery cart
      Ohnt,peecan,care amel,n root,dayd
      Northeast new England

    28. Merci Dee*

      I’m from the southeastern portion of the US
      1. tennis shoes
      2. interstate (as long as there’s a grassy median between the lanes of traffic going either way — if there’s no grassy median between the opposing lanes, then it’s a highway)
      3. coke (conversations down here typically go, “Hey, I’m thirsty, let’s get a coke.” “Okay, that sounds great. What kind do you want?” “Ummm . . . I think I want a Dr. Pepper.”
      4. cart
      5. y’all. Y’all can also function as the singular for “you”, as well. It’s also acceptable to talk to more than one person and say “all y’all”.
      6. aunt = ant; pecan = peh-KAHN; caramel = CARE-eh-mel; apricot = APP-ri-cot; en route = ehn rout; data = DAH-ta; crayon = CRAY-ahn; envelope = EHN-ve-lope

    29. Becky*

      1. Tennis shoes
      2. Highway
      3. soda
      4. cart
      5. y’all
      6. awnt (hard to transcribe without using IPA…)
      in root

    30. Sled Dog Mama*

      I’m from on the NC/SC border, towards the coast.
      1. Sneakers
      2. Interstate
      3. Soda
      4. Cart or sometimes buggy.
      5. Y’all (never heard all y’all till I was an adult)
      6. Ant
      The nut is a PEE-can the pie that the nuts go in is p-khan and I’m totally ok with that, especially since I grew up with five of the trees in the back yard and every meal was eaten at a table made from the sixth (which my grandfather “cut down” when it fell over)
      The candy is car-mall, a cake would be ca-ra-mel.
      On root.

      1. Durham, NC*

        Born and raised in Triangle. Parents are foreigners/ ESL. No discernible southern accent.

        1. Sneakers
        2. Highway
        3. Soda
        4. Grocery cart
        5. You guys, you all later in life as I try to be gender neutral. Y’all has never ever been in my lexicon.

    31. Dub*

      I’d love to hear any regionalisms for hair ties, there seems to be a lot of diversity in that. For instance, I say “bobbin/hair bobbin” (Dublin) and my friend says “gogo” (Louth).
      Dual carriageway
      Fizzy/Soft drink (‘Mineral’ is more of a country thing, but I think it’s less used now)
      Shopping trolley
      Yis or ye

      1. AlaskaKT*

        Hair ties are pony tail holders or ponies for short. *unless* they are thick, then they are scrunchies.

        Anything else is a clip or Bobby pin.

      2. Anne (with an "e")*

        In GA, US– I used to say (I don’t wear these any more, but I used to…) bobby pin or hair pin. Then there were barrettes. For a pony tail I would use a pony tail holder, an elastic, or a scrunchie. I also used to wear headbands. Aren’t those known as Alice bands in the U.K.?

      3. TL -*

        A hair tie was a chongo at school and a ponytail holder at home. (but I just call them chongos because it’s shorter.) Super regional in the USA, I think.

    32. K.*

      Urban northeast born, raised, residing:
      1. Sneakers
      2. Highway
      3. Soda
      4. Cart
      5. Either “guys,” “you guys,” or “y’all;” ‘y’all” more comes from African-American vernacular English for me.
      6. ONT, pih-CAHN, CAR-uh-mel, AH-prih-cot, en ROOT, DAY-ta, CRAY-on, EN-vuh-lope. En-VEH-lop for the verb (“I enveloped him in my arms”).

    33. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Grew up mostly US Mountain West but spent summers in Wisconsin (Central Southeast). Both parents from there.

      1) Tennis shoes
      2) Interstate
      3) Soda
      4) Cart
      5) you all (but NOT y’all)
      6) ant, PE-can, charmul, ahpricaht, en root, dayhtah, crayhon, envelope

      I took a lot of crap at work this week because I pronounce vague like bag with a hard a so it comes out like: vayg and bayg with the g partially swallowed. Never noticed it before!

    34. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      1. Sneakers
      2. Highway
      3. Soda, or tonic if it isn’t made with syrup
      4. I use cart and basket interchangeably for the one on wheels
      5. Y’all
      6. Ah-nt, peh-CAHN, care-a-mehl, apricot with the a in ‘quack’, ahn rowt, small-d data with the first a like in at, big D-Data like day-tah, crae-ohn, and ahn-velope.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Also, grew up in Rhode Island but spent about 10 years in young adulthood living in Virginia

    35. The RO-Cat*

      1. Depending on style, here they’re “tenişi” [‘tenish(i)] (tennis shoes, the (i) denotes a sort of a half-i, marking the plural) or “bascheţi” [baskets(i)] (basketball shoes, higher than tennis shoes) or “adidaşi” [a’didash(i)], sneakers, a genericized version of the brand itself
      2. Autostrada
      3. “Cola” – genericized for brown-colored fizzy soft dinks, or simply “suc” (juice) for everything else
      4. “Coş” [kosh] (basket) or “Coş de cumpărături” [kosh de kump(er)r(er)turi – where (er) is the sound you make when thinking: errr…] (literally “basket for stuff you buy”)
      5. “Voi” – we have different forms for singular vs plural “you”
      6. Probably wrong or twisted (in high school I’ve been told that, while I had the most british pronounciation for “can’t”, all the rest was american-sounding, so I won’t even guess).

    36. CanadianUniversityStudent*

      Canada – Central Ontario:
      1. running shoes
      2. highway/freeway
      3. pop
      4. shopping cart
      5. You
      6. ant, pee-can, care-a-mel, ape-ri-cot, an-route, da-ta, cray-on, en-velope

      1. CanadianUniversityStudent*

        Clarification an-route, I couldn’t figure out how to write the sound exactly. I say it with a french accent on the en.

        1. Polar Bear Don't Care*

          Outside Toronto, Ontario, and I agree except I don’t say freeway.

    37. GermanGirl*

      I’m from Germany and English is only my third language, so here is how I’d say these in English and German
      1. sports shoes, gym shoes | Sportschuhe, Turnschuhe
      2. highway (US), motorway (UK) – I actually use both depending on which country I’m talking about/to | Autobahn
      3. coke, soda, softdrink – is that even a word in English or is it a false friend from German? | Cola, Softdrink, Brause, Limonade
      4. shopping cart | Einkaufswagen
      5. you | ihr
      6. I hope I got these right, you can clearly see that my pronunciation is influenced by German in some examples.
      aunt – [ant] | Tante – [ˈtan.tə]
      pecan – [ˈpeː.kaːn] | Pekannuss – [ˈpeː.kaːˌnʊs]
      caramel – [‘kæɹ.ə.mɛl] | Karamell – [ka.ʀaˈmɛl]
      apricot – [‘ap.ʀi.kɒt] | Aprikose – [ˌap.ʀiˈkoː.zə]
      en route – [ɑ̃ ɹu(ː)t] | Unterwegs – [ʊn.tɐˈveːks]
      data – [ˈdeɪtə] | Daten – [ˈdaːtn̩]
      crayon – [ˈkɹeɪ.ən] | Wachsmalstift [ˈvaks.maːl.ʃtɪft]
      envelope – [ˈɒn.və.ləʊp] | Briefumschlag – [ˈbʀiːfʔ.ʊmˌʃlaːk] or just Umschlag [‘ʊm.ʃlaːk]

      1. Nancie*

        I’ve never used “soft drink” myself, but I’ve heard others in the US use it. Actually, I think that may be what’s on the sign for that aisle in the grocery store.

    38. Emily*

      1. Tennis shoes (or sneakers)
      2. Highway/expressway
      3. Soda
      4. Grocery cart
      5. I’m inconsistent with this – “You”, “You all”, and “You guys” all work (and I wouldn’t blink at someone saying y’all, I just never picked that up for some reason)
      6. I’m not sure that my answers to this one will be very interesting, because a lot of my pronunciations are inconsistent or context-dependent.
      Aunt = “Ant”
      Pecan = “Peh-kahn” (most of the time) or occasionally “Pee-Can”
      Caramel = “Care-a-mel” (most of the time) or occasionally “Car-mel”
      Apricot = “A-pri-cot” (like the “a” in “apple”)
      En route = “On root” (but if I’m just saying the word “route”, I use “Root” and “Rowt” pretty much interchangeably)
      Data = “Day-tuh” or sometimes “Da-tuh” (like the “a” in apple)
      Crayon = “Kray-on”
      Envelope = “In-vel-ope” (more often) or “On-vel-ope”

      I grew up in North Carolina, USA, but a lot of the people living in my metropolitan area were not originally from there, and I ended up with a fairly neutral US accent. (I’ve also lived in Florida, Wisconsin, and Western New York since then, and people in those places have also sometimes influenced how I pronounce certain words.)

      1. Manderley*

        I was waiting for expressway!

        Tennis shoes, expressway, soda (trained myself out of referring to all soda as Coke), and buggy (still looking for that one in the list!), you all. I’m in the SEUS (Atlanta metro).

    39. Anon80*

      I grew up in the south and moved to midwest in high school. After the move I got teased so badly for my accent that I changed my accent and regional words as much as I could. I’ve noticed my son pronounces things differently when he’s talking to me vs. his dad. Ha!

      1. Sneakers
      2. Freeway
      3. Coke (TX), soda (now) although everyone around me says pop and I just can’t make myself say pop
      4. Shopping cart
      5. Y’all (TX) but I can’t really think of what I say now
      6. ant, pecan (pee-can) , caramel (care-amel), apricot (long a), en route (in), data (both ways), crayon (long a), envelope (in)

    40. Tris Prior*

      Lifelong Chicagoan:

      1. Sneakers or gym shoes
      2. Expressway. If in Chicago, the name of the expressway (Kennedy, Edens, etc)
      3. Pop
      4. Shopping cart
      5. You
      6. Ant, pee-can, cahr-mel, app-ree-cot, on roooot, day-ta, cray-on, en-vel-ohpe H

      1. New Bee*

        Ha, my sister has shortened “expressway” to “e-way.” It sounds so foreign now that I no longer live in Chicago.

        Speaking of, how do you pronounce the city? I say, “Shi-CAH-go”, with the “CAH” really short, almost swallowed, as if I were saying “cop” and the “p” got cut off.

    41. Life is Good*

      Pacific Northwest

      1. What do you call the footwear worn for sports and PE class?

      2. What do you call the multi-lane road used for traveling long distances at high speeds?
      3. What do you call the fizzy drink that comes in cans or bottles?
      4. What do you call the basket on wheels that you put things in at the store?

      5. What’s your second person plural pronoun (you-plural)? YOU

      6. How do you pronounce the following: aunt, pecan, caramel, apricot, en route, data, crayon, and envelope? ANT, PEE-CAWN, KARML, AAAPRECOT, N RUTE, DAYTA, CRAYAWN, NVELOPE

    42. ScarlettNZ*

      New Zealand – so my answers will be similiar to the folk from the UK :-)

      1. What do you call the footwear worn for sports and PE class?
      Trainers or running shoes.

      2. What do you call the multi-lane road used for traveling long distances at high speeds?

      3. What do you call the fizzy drink that comes in cans or bottles?
      Usually we us the name – Coke, Fanta etc (or else it’s just referred to as ‘fizzy drink’).

      4. What do you call the basket on wheels that you put things in at the store?

      5. What’s your second person plural pronoun (you-plural)?

      6. How do you pronounce the following: aunt, pecan, caramel, apricot, en route, data, crayon, and envelope?
      On root

      1. Ismis*

        Do you not say trundlers for number 4? I have photos of the “please return your trundlers here” sign from when I visited NZ. I was so tickled by it.

        1. ScarlettNZ*

          Personally I don’t and, as far as I know, it’s not a term commonly used. There are some regional differences between the North and South Islands though – for example, here in the South we refer to luncheon sausage as ‘belgium’ (don’t ask, I have no idea!) whereas in the North Island it’s called luncheon sausage.

    43. Anne (with an "e")*

      I am from Georgia.
      1. Gymn shoes, sneakers, tennis shoes
      2. Highway, interstate
      3. Soft drink, coke, coca-cola ( note: the drink does not have to be manufactured by Coke to be called a coke, it just needs to be carbonated.)
      4. Cart, grocery cart, buggy
      5. Y’all
      6. Ant ( like the insect) , pea-Kahn, or pea-can, care-ah-Mel, a (as ABC)-pre-cot, date-ah (like the character on Star Trek), cray-ahn, not sure how to write this one, but it rhymes with cantaloupe

    44. HannaS*

      I’m from Ontario (southern part):
      1. Running shoes.
      2. Highway
      3. Pop
      4. Shopping cart
      5. You
      6. ant, pee-can, care-a-mehl, rhymes with snap-ricot, awn root, both dat-a or date-a, cray-awn, either ehn-velope or awn-velope

    45. FinePrint*

      Adelaide, South Australia
      1. runners or sneakers
      2. freeway
      3. soft drink
      4. trolley
      5. You
      6. arnt, pee-can, cara-mall, ae-pricot, on-root, darta, cray-on, on-velope

    46. Cajun Lady*

      From down in the bayou..

      1. Tennis shoes
      2. Interstate
      3. Coke
      4. Buggy
      5. Y’all
      6. Ant, pick-ahn, care-uh-mel, app-re-cot, in root, day-ta, cray-on, in-ve-lope

    47. A midwesterner from Kansas City*

      1. Tennis shoes or running shoes
      2. Highway, sometimes interstate if I’m referring to a specific road
      3. Coke — I am a regional anomaly. Most people here call it pop.
      4. Cart
      5. You all, you guys, you
      6. Ant, p’kahn, car-mel, ahn root, dahta, crown, ahnvelope

      My accent is weird for my region, though I’ve lived here my whole life. I tend to use a long A where most people wouldn’t. I say Col-O-rahw-do rather than Colo-rad-o (Where rad sounds like the 70’s expression). Same with the words Nevada and plaza.

    48. Doreen Green*


      1. Sneakers
      2. Highway
      3. Soda
      4. Cart
      5. You (but “youse” is also correct)
      en root
      cray-on, sometimes crown

    49. New Bee*

      I’m from Chicago:
      1. Gym shoes
      2. Highway
      3. I grew up saying pop but I’ve assimilated to saying soda.
      4. Cart
      5. You all or “y’all” (pronounced “yawl”)
      6. Awnt, puck-ON, CAR-mull, APP-rick-cot, on root, DAY-tuh, cray-on, AWN-vell-lope

    50. Rogue*

      Grew up in Florida, but have lived all over the USA.

      1. Growing up, tennis shoes, but now they’re sneakers
      2. Well, there are interstate highways, such as I-95, I refer to those as the interstate. There are US highways that are sometimes multi lane, those I refer to as highways or their US-#. Then there are state highways, those sometimes are multi lane but not nearly as often as us highways, i also refer to as highways or their state and # such as TX-56. Then there are turnpikes, which are multilane toll roads and up in the northeast, they also have just pikes, which are multilane highways that aren’t toll roads.
      3. Soda (but understand if someone says foundation drink, pop, coke)
      4. Cart or buggy
      5. Depends on who I’m speaking with or if it’s in writhing and if it’s formal or not. I use you, you all, you guys, y’all, all y’all, all of you.
      6. I say ant and awnt, pea-can and pea-con, car-mel and cara-mel, app-er-cot and app-pri-cot, in row-t, dat-ah or date-ah, cray-on, en-ve-lope and en-va-lope. Just depends on where I am, who I’m speaking with or how fast I’m speaking.

    51. D.W.*

      Southern USA
      1. tennis shoes / gym shoes
      2. freeway
      3. soda
      4. shopping cart / buggy
      5. y’all
      6. aunt=aw-nt
      apricot=long ‘a’ for “apple”
      en route=in r-ow (as in “ouch”)-t

    52. nonegiven*

      1. sneakers
      2. interstate
      3. coke
      4. cart
      5. all y’all
      6. ant, pee-con, car-mal, a-pree-cot, on rout, day-ta, cray-on, in-vel-ope

    53. Blue birds fly*

      1. Tennis shoes
      2. Highway
      3. Pepsi if it’s Brown, soda otherwise
      4. Cart
      5. Y`all
      6. aunt ant, pecan pee can (no emphasis), caramel care a Mel (no emphasis), apricot ape ri cot, en route on root, data day ta, crayon long a no emphasis, and envelope on ve lope ( long o) unless I’m enveloping, then it’s in vel up

      I’m first generation rural south, with Bronx dad and California military kid mom.

    54. Ramona Flowers*

      South-east England here.

      1. What do you call the footwear worn for sports and PE class? Trainers or plimsolls. (But not pumps. Pumps are ballet pump style shoes to me.)
      2. What do you call the multi-lane road used for traveling long distances at high speeds? Motorway.
      3. What do you call the fizzy drink that comes in cans or bottles? A fizzy drink/fizzy drinks = what I actually call it.
      4. What do you call the basket on wheels that you put things in at the store? Trolley.
      5. What’s your second person plural pronoun (you-plural)? You. Or sometimes ‘folks’. Like: hi folks…
      6. How do you pronounce the following: aunt, pecan, caramel, apricot, en route, data, crayon, and envelope?
      Aunt – rhymes with plant (to me) or sounds like aren’t
      PEE-can (never emphasis on the second syllable)
      Ape-ri-cot (never never app-ri-cot)
      On root
      CRAY-on – there’s more than one way to say this? Huh? How?

      Surprised you didn’t ask what people call their evening meal! That could get interesting too. (Dinner, for me.)

      1. Anne (with an "e")*

        Oh, the “dinner” question is very interesting. That particular word has always been somewhat context dependent, imo. To some people dinner = lunch, however for others dinner = supper. So, it depends on who is talking. For me (usually) I eat: breakfast in the am., lunch at midday, and then supper or dinner interchangeably in the evening. (Note- My little dog always has his “supper” time at 6:30 sharp.)

    55. The Other Dawn*

      New England-CT

      1. Sneakers
      2. Highway
      3. Soda
      4. Carriage
      5. You/everyone
      6. Not sure how to write pronunciations, but I’ll try!
      apricot (short “a”)
      on root (long “o” in “root”; although we don’t typically say this word at all, not that I’ve heard anyway)
      cray-on or cran

    56. Seal*

      Minnesotan who happens to live in Georgia (where they think I talk funny!):
      1. Tennis shoes
      2. Freeway
      3. Pop
      4. Shopping cart
      5. You guys
      6. Aunt – ant; pecan – pee-CON; caramel – CAR-mull; apricot – APP-ri-cot; en route – en ROUT; data – DAY-ta; crayon – CRAY-on; envelope – ON-va-lope

    57. Spunky Brewster*

      I grew up in and currently live in Houston, TX but my parents were midwesterners, so that may have some influence
      1. Tennis shoes
      2. Freeway
      3. Coke
      4. Shopping cart
      5. Y’all
      6. Aunt = ant, pecan = puh-CON, caramel = CAR-mull, apricot = AY-pricot, en route = on the way, data = DAY-tuh, crayon = cran, envelope = EN-vuh-lope

    58. Djuna*

      I’m Irish so some of these answers will be hiberno-oddities:
      1. Runners
      2. Motorway (which is bigger than a dual-carriageway)
      3. Minerals or fizzy drinks
      4. Shopping basket
      5. You, or yiz if we’re being slangy
      6. (not doing these in IPA, bc lazy) ant, pe-CAHN, kara-mell, ay-pri-kot, on root, day-ta, kray-on, ehn-vell-OPE.

    59. Artemesia*

      grew up in PNW, career decades in South, retired in Midwest city.

      1. sneakers
      2. highway or freeway
      3. pop
      4. shopping cart
      5. you’all (the south’s great contribution to the language)
      6. ant, pakahn, carmull, ape ricot, on root, dayta, cran, N velope

    60. Lana*

      Chi-town represent! (Chicago)
      1. Gym shoes
      2. Tollway/Highway (If you’re from here, you might refer to the number ie: 90, 55, or the name ie: Stevenson, Jane Adams, etc. etc.)
      3. Pop
      4. Shopping cart
      5. You (Depends on where you are in the city, though. Sometimes you’ll hear a “Youse guys”
      6. : aunt, pecan, caramel, apricot, en route, data, crayon, and envelope? “Ant”, “Pee-con”, “Car-mel”, “App-ri-cot”, “ahn root”, “day-ta”, “cray-ON” and “En-vel-ope”

    61. swingbattabatta*

      Grew up in the PNW:

      1. Tennis shoes
      2. Interstate
      3. Pop
      4. Shopping cart
      5. you guys (heyyy you guyyyyyyyyyyyssss)
      6. Ant
      on root

      1. swingbattabatta*

        Now that I think of it, I think interstate is something i’ve used as an adult. Growing up, we used freeway.

    62. 14 years*

      I’m from the Chicago area, born and raised:
      1. Gym shoes (sometimes sneakers)
      2. Highway
      3. Pop
      4. Cart
      5. You
      6. Ant, pe-cahn, car- mel or care-a-mel, a (as in ash) pricot, on (hard to type the e/o sound) root, day-ta, cran like cranberry, e (as in end) velope

      1. a chump with a degree*

        1 Sneakers
        2 Freeway
        3 soda pop
        4 cart
        5 Dudes
        6 ant, pih cahn, caramel, ape ricot, on root, dayta, cray on, onvelope

    63. Beancounter Eric*

      1. Cross-trainers
      2. Good day – interstate…bad day – parking lot!
      3. Coca-Cola (pronounced “co’cola”)
      4. Shopping cart
      5. Y’all
      6. ant, pecan, cara-mel, the rest depends.

      Atlanta, GA

    64. Lindsay J*

      From NJ, moved to Texas a few years ago.

      1. Sneakers
      2. Highway
      3. Soda
      4. Shopping cart
      5. You guys or y’all
      6. Ant, PEE-can, CAR-mel, AP-ra-cot, on root, DAY-ta, cray-on, ON-va-lope

    65. Sorgatani*

      Late to this one, but couldn’t resist.

      1. What do you call the footwear worn for sports and PE class?
      2. What do you call the multi-lane road used for traveling long distances at high speeds?
      3. What do you call the fizzy drink that comes in cans or bottles?
      Soft drink
      4. What do you call the basket on wheels that you put things in at the store?
      5. What’s your second person plural pronoun (you-plural)?
      6. How do you pronounce the following: aunt, pecan, caramel, apricot, en route, data, crayon, and envelope?
      Ahnt (long ‘a’, somewhat rhymes with the ‘a’ in ‘palm’)
      Ca-ruh-ml (the first ‘a’ rhymes with the ‘a’ in ‘cat’ and the second is more like ‘uh’, but there are 3 syllables)
      ‘On roo’
      Dah-tuh (but sometimes day-tuh, it’s sometimes I mimic accents without realising)
      Cray-yon (looks odd written like this but the ‘y’ is a short sound, and ‘cray’ rhymes with ‘ray’, as in ray of sun)
      Ehn-vl-lope for stationery; ‘ehn-vell-lup’ when I mean ‘to surround’

      I’m from Victoria, Australia

    66. LaterKate*

      From the Deep South:
      1. What do you call the footwear worn for sports and PE class? Tennis shoes
      2. What do you call the multi-lane road used for traveling long distances at high speeds? Highway
      3. What do you call the fizzy drink that comes in cans or bottles? Coke
      4. What do you call the basket on wheels that you put things in at the store? Shopping basket
      5. What’s your second person plural pronoun (you-plural)? Y’all
      6. How do you pronounce the following: aunt, pecan, caramel, apricot, en route, data, crayon, and envelope? Ant, pee-con, care-uh-mel, a(long a sound)-prick-ot, in root, dat-uh, cray-ahn, ahn-vell-ope (rhymes with hope)

    67. Angel*

      Oh man. I’m from Texas, but my dad grew up in a lot of British-English areas and I have a lot of weird slang in my dialect.
      1. Tennis shoes
      2. Highway or freeway
      3. Soda
      4. Cart
      5. Still “you”, unless it’s “y’all” which only appears in specific contexts somehow
      6. aunt = ant, pecan = peh-cahn’, caramel = care’-ah-mull, apricot = app’-rih-cot, en route = on root’, data = day’-ta or daah’-ta depending on surrounding words, crayon = cray’-un, envelope = on-‘vell-ohpe. (apostrophes indicate stress)

  12. Bigglesworth*

    Super excited to finally announce that dh and and I will be moving into our apartment in Northern Virginia/DC area today! We’re about to go pick up our keys and start moving our stuff in. Uprooting us and moving cross country for law school is nerve-wracking and exciting all at the same time.

    We did have to end up hiring movers, which is an unexpected cost, but my arthritis flared up with the stress of the move and I can’t pick up too many boxes without it acting up again. Oh well. You’d think I’d be used to this by now. :p On a similar note, when did we get so much stuff!?!?!

  13. Allypopx*

    Thanks to everyone for the camera advice last week! I talked to my boyfriend about upping my budget (it’s my money and he doesn’t oversee it, but I’m supposed to be saving for when I leave my job in December so I wanted his input/blessing to make a big purchase) and he was totally on board with me doing whatever I thought would be good for my mental health.

    I got a Canon EOS Rebel T6, and I got it as an amazon kit so I got a lot of really great accessories with it. I’m getting the hang of it, I haven’t tried too much with the fully manual settings yet. I also got the adobe photographer subscription with Lightroom/Photoshop and I’m starting to get a handle on those. I’m having a blast!

    1. Allypopx*

      I’m also using my camera bag as a purse so I have it with me whenever I stumble upon things to photograph.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        You can get camera bags that look like a purse now! or inserts for your existing purse that hold your camera stuff.

        Or you can do like me and just carry a large handbag you chuck your camera in.

    2. StrikingFalcon*

      Ooh that’s exciting! I’ve had a Canon Rebel for years, and I love it. They’re incredibly durable and all their lenses, no matter how old, can be used with any body.

      Some general pointers if you’re interested (if you have no idea what I’m talking about here let me know and I’ll break it down further, I’m not sure how much experience you have):

      I know how to use the manual mode, but most of the time I tend to shoot in the aperture mode (marked AV on the dial), as that lets you set your depth of field manually and the camera calculates the shutter speed for you. The lower the f-stop number the smaller the depth of field (so f/22 has a larger depth of field than f/5.6).

      The shutter speed mode (marked TV) does the opposite – you set the shutter speed, and it adjusts the aperture. Useful if you want to take a picture of something moving fast or you want to do a long exposure, such as for fireworks. The rule of thumb for long exposures is you need a tripod if the shutter speed is longer than the reciprocal of the focal length (so anything longer than 1/50 of a second for a 50 mm lens, or anything longer than 1/100 for a 100 mm lens).

      Playing with those two modes is probably enough options for a new camera, but I can explain the full manual mode too if you’d like!

      1. Allypopx*

        Thank you that’s super helpful! I’m not sure I’m ready for the full manual mode haha, it might go over my head, but I do follow you here and that gives me a really good starting point.

        1. StrikingFalcon*

          You’re welcome! The other option worth figuring out how to do is change the white balance. A different balance is appropriate for indoor vs outdoor shots (although I also wouldn’t be surprised if the auto white balance was a lot more useful now than on my 10 year+ old model). Just remember to change it back when you’re done!

          1. TL -*

            I still don’t do full manual white balance (I just change it in lightroom if it’s really off,) That’s the one aspect of manual I blissfully pretended doesn’t exist.

            I had a Canon Rebel for years – my dad has it now – and I loved it. I upgraded because I was truly shooting beyond its capabilities but if it hadn’t been for the sports photography I was doing, I probably would’ve been happy with it for several more years.

            Allypopx, the beautiful thing about digital is that the only thing a bad shoot costs is time, so practicing is really easy! (You can always go to full auto for important shots and manual/priority modes for ones that are you just wandering around the park.)

            1. StrikingFalcon*

              Yeah the only times I’ve used the fully manual white balance (where you take a picture of something white to set it) is when I’ve needed a good digital copy of something too big for my scanner. But just setting the white balance to indoor or outdoor can be helpful.

            2. Artemesia*

              If you plan to set white balance post production it really helps to take a shot of the grey card in each set of photos in order to adjust. You have to have something in the picture to adjust on and if there is no grey, using skin tone is so so for obvious reasons.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          I have the same model, and I shoot mostly aperture mode. The other useful adjustment is the exposure compensation. If you’re shooting something that has a wide range of brightness the automatic calculation can be off (like an object against a bright sky). The exposure compensation adjusts it one way or another, so you can bring the important part to the right brightness without going full manual.

          And the burst mode is great if you’re taking pictures of scenes that change quickly – it automatically takes a series of images when you press the button.

    3. amanda_cake*

      I bought a new camera too! I got the Canon 80D. I have a Rebel t3 that is like 6 years old so I needed something new. This is light years better and so much faster!

  14. PNW*

    I’m a regular poster who is going anon for this one for safety reasons.

    I just wanted to share that, after a couple of years of intense background checks, physical tests, interviews, psychological tests and four grueling months of police academy, my oldest son has become a police officer. His graduation was this week and I couldn’t be more proud. He will be working for a very nice (and mostly safe!) small city here in the Seattle area. It occurred to me the other day that police officers often carry small toys and things to comfort little kids who are in stressful situations, so I have decided that I am going to knit some small stuffed animals for him to keep in his patrol car. I’m so excited! They will be fun to make, and it makes me feel good to know that he’ll have something that’s made with love to give to a child who might be upset and frightened and needs some TLC.


    1. nep*

      Thanks for sharing this. Love your idea.
      Congratulations to your son — big thanks to him and to first responders everywhere.

    2. Vancouver Reader*

      Congratulations to your son! I think anyone has to work with the public in potentially scary situations, are truly amazing people.
      Thanks also for the knitting links, I was looking for projects to work on, and these are just the thing!

  15. Lady Jay*

    I’ve posted here a few times about my experiences online dating. A few more funny (to me) observations:

    Why in the world do so many people post a profile pic that shows like half their head? Seriously, there’s the name, the wall, and their forehead/hair. I don’t get why this is a thing, but I see quite a few pics like this.

    The disgruntled men are super obvious. There’s a guy showing up in my “matches” feed who keeps updating his profile with complaints about the “hate mail” he receives and asking that women post pictures that show off their bodies a little more, all the while swearing that there’s more to romance than physical attraction. It comes off as kind of sexist, and it’s like watching a train wreck; I can’t look away.

    But otherwise, I went out with a couple guys, a couple times, texted them a bit and discovered . . . I don’t really like dating! I don’t like having my day interrupted or scheduled around being with another person, or feeling like I should show more of an interest in certain movies, activities, etc, than I really feel, in order to establish this relationship. I’m okay with doing stuff on my own. Anybody else like this?

    1. Stella's Mom*

      You are brave. I commend you for having hope. I did a bit on online dating in 2004-2006 and made 2 really good friends out of a total of 10 dates then.

      I am now closing in on 50 years old, and will go back to University in September for a Master’s degree, and am done (*done*) dating. I have good friendships with most of my exes, including with my ex husband (we divorced in 2002 after being together several years).

      My recent relationship of nearly 3 years ended very badly, he dumped me in a particularly harsh manner in January, and I have decided I won’t ever date again. I am too old to waste time on this and not explore the world on my own, living my own life. Heart is closed, focusing on me, my cat, my friends and family, my life and my education now. After 4 months of no contact I have finally this week cleaned up my professional and social media to remove his access to me (while limited), and did a lot of thinking about this situation and my enabling of his behaviour while I was getting my gallbladder out last week in hospital. I never again want to get enmeshed into a family with so many issues (too many to list and just exhausting). For someone who kept insisting we be friends, and who knew I was in hospital, not even a peep of “Get well” sealed the deal that this person is not a good person (this was on top of some really cruddy things he did in our relationship).

      I wish you luck, and am deep down hoping for all my single girl and boy friends that they find people to love. x

    2. Kat*

      I can relate! I quite like dating sometimes, but the problem is I value my free time a lot, and I don’t like wasting it. So unless I’m at least 75% sure it might be an OK date, I just don’t follow through. I’ve had a couple that weren’t fun and I was annoyed I lost that time instead of doing my own fun thing with it.

      I guess it’s not conducive to finding a partner, but it’s still important to me.

      And I’m with you on the dating pics thing. Blurry cropped shots of someone’s head and weird angled shots. Or pics of someone who isn’t even them! I don’t get it.

    3. Ann*

      I have 30 something friends who say the exact same thing all the time. This is why they go for quick sex, all the fun, no irritating fake time.

    4. Natalie*

      “feeling like I should show more of an interest in certain movies, activities, etc, than I really feel, in order to establish this relationship.”

      So, I know this isn’t a thing you can just snap your fingers and get over, but IMO you shouldn’t pretend to be interested in something to establish a relationship. Hopefully you are meeting people who can handle the idea that other people don’t share all of their interests, and if they can’t handle that idea better to find out quickly.

      1. Lady Jay*

        Ha! Yes, very true; this is good advice. Actually, the whole “problem” (not really a problem) is that I’m NOT willing to feign interest in things to keep a relationship going. Pretty sure that one of my dates dwindled off because he wanted to do stuff that I was not interested in (movies I didn’t like, or hanging out at private residences, which I wasn’t comfortable with after two dates.)

        So I’m still going solo . . . and staying safe, and watching the movies I want to watch.

        1. Natalie*

          I think being happy solo is the best way to be, whether or not you are dating or even in a relationship! I am very happy with myself and my life, and even though I love my husband I know my life would be good even if we had never met or, universe forbid, he was hit by a bus tomorrow.

          I’ve observed some people who need the status of “partnered” get in and stay in very bad relationships because that status was so much more important to them than anything else. From the outside, at least, it didn’t look like that good of a life.

    5. Merci Dee*

      I did some dating, briefly, a year or two after my divorce. I also discovered that it wasn’t really what I wanted to do with my time. I’ve always been quite comfortable with my own company, and I’m okay with the idea that I won’t have a “special someone” in my life. I have a number of friends, we meet up to do things pretty regularly, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out by not being part of a couple.

    6. JulieBulie*

      Yeah, I’m not a dater. Dating actually seems like the worst possible way to get to know someone because it’s such an artificial situation.

    7. Sam Foster*

      Dating is terrible. If it weren’t for my yearning for an emotional connection I’d have given up years ago.

    8. Fiennes*

      Dating is THE WORST. I remained single for many years – until a longtime friend exited his struggling relationship, and we got started a few months later. Never ever would I have found a partner through dating. I really have to know someone well before I make up my mind about a romantic connection.

    9. HannahS*

      I’m so like that. I dislike dating so much. I tend to do it in bursts for a few weeks and then throw my hands up in melodramatic frustration and delete my profile from online stuff. I’d like very much to wake up tomorrow in, like, year 3 of a relationship, though, which I’m not sure you share? If you don’t find that you want a relationship (or casual hookup or whatever), don’t bother with the headache of dating!

      1. Lady Jay*

        Sure, yeah, that would be nice. :) I’m in my early 30s now & am okay going solo. I’m not sure I want to be solo when I’m 70, especially since I’m not close to my siblings. I think I’d be pretty lonely.

        But I’m still not sure I want to put up with dating in order to get three years into a relationship! I think it would have been okay in high school/college (didn’t date then for a variety of reasons), but at this point, it feels very artificial.

    10. chickabiddy*

      I’m late 40s, separated/divorced 18 months. I think I wouldn’t mind having a few dates, but I am so not motivated to do things to find these dates. My social circle is mostly female, not because I don’t like men but just because it seems to have shaken out that way. I freelance/WFH 90% of the time so not much opportunity there (I wouldn’t date a co-worker anyhow, but might meet more men if I was in an office setting). I like my life. I’d maybe like it a little better with a FWB and/or occasional evening out, but I wouldn’t like it at all if dating had to become a project. I have enough of those.

    11. SL #2*

      I posted a bit about online dating last week; it’s a real struggle! Even just the chatting aspect is exhausting sometimes because you read so much into every word they type but also you’re so very careful about your own word choice too.

    12. Workaholic*

      I need to start inviting people along when i do things. Because I’m very tired I’d doing things alone all the time. somebody to share adventures with would be great. And I’d love to have a romantic partner. But yeah – I’m 42, never married, no kids. Kinda settled into single/my life/my rules/my space thing. I’ve tried dating. Last was 4 months ago – 2 days went well but we were both so busy. Then he died 3 weeks ago in a freak motorcycle accident. :( i keep telling myself to get out there meeting people and going on dates but it feels like so much effort for nothing.
      What bugs me is all the married guys on dating sites. At least some are honest about it but I’ve met some stating single on their profile but later admit to being married.

      1. Workaholic*

        Sorry for typos :( phone keyboard and I’m not so great at spell checking on my phone

      2. On Fire*

        I’m so sorry about his death! Whether he was a potential partner, potential friend or just a passing acquaintance, that’s a blow.

        I’m married and used to think that if anything happened to my DH I would date/marry again. But now, in my late 30s, I think if he was gone, I would just continue with my own life. Dating sounds lonelier than being alone.

    13. Lizcat*

      Yes, oh, my god, I stayed in a less than ideal relationship for way too long because I hate this process. I enjoy committed relationships, but the process of getting there is horrible!
      Also, I’m on the asexual spectrum so that makes dating even harder to navigate.

    14. K.*

      I keep telling myself it’s worth the work to find someone good but while I like being loved/in love and would love to find a good man, dating is such a PITA. I actually just took down all my profiles because the whole thing was annoying me. I’m OK with doing stuff on my own too – what I really want from a partner is emotional support.

    15. Cafe au Lait*

      When I was on Match.com, I made a rule: no dating guys who called their ex “crazy” in their profile. After reading many profiles, I added “no dating guys who list ‘honesty’ as the first thing they want in a partner.”

      After a year, I ended up meeting (and marrying) a guy I met on Match. I didn’t read his profile too closely before I went on our first date, otherwise I probably would’ve declined. (He smoked at the time). Our top qualities are what we wanted in a partnership, even though the packaging is different than our idealized versions. I’m happy with my marriage. I really couldn’t imagine a better partner for me.

  16. Bibliovore*

    AND NOW….
    this group has been so helpful when the downstairs flooded and we needed to figure out the new floor purchase.
    The fridge died, the dishwasher died, and the stove died.
    We bought a new fridge and it is in the living room.

    The floor has been pulled up and the materials selected- ceramic tile for the floor, subway tile for the backsplash, soapstone for the countertop.We are keeping the floorplan and the cabinets.

    Question- Stove
    Leaning towards a GE dual fuel Gas/electric. Pricey but I really really really want gas top but…

    If they can’t run the gas line or the cost is just too much…
    What do you all recommend for a slide in stove?
    Brand, type (coil, smooth top) etc
    Anyone try induction?
    What do you hate, hate, hate that I should under no circumstances buy?

    1. Windchime*

      I have a gas stove now and love it. I can see why you would like a gas cooktop because it’s simply awesome. In my previous home, gas wasn’t common or really even available so everyone did electric. I went from coil burners to a flat glass top and I didn’t really care for it. They are hard to clean because stuff gets cooked onto the cooktop, and your pan has to be absolutely flat. It was kind of a pain. If I couldn’t have gas, I’d go with electric coil burners.

      1. Artemesia*

        We put a gas stove in in our last place and loved it; in the condo where we live now there is no gas so we have a glass top electric. I hate it — there is no real control of the heat when cooking. We have had conduction stoves several times in European rentals and they are amazing. They are super expensive in the US for some reason, but I think that is what we will get the next time we have to replace the stove — maybe sooner. They give you the same kind of instant heat control you get with gas and the boil water in about a minute flat. Totally awesome.

    2. fposte*

      What kind of pans do you cook with, and how careful are you on a stovetop with them and with messes? I have gas, and what I hear from people with glasstops is that cast iron can be an issue if you’re not a careful person, plus wiping down means a special cleaner and it takes a while for the top to cool down enough to use it.

      As somebody who bangs pans and drips like crazy and am lucky to have a brief moment when I feel like cleaning, I wrote off glass tops on hearing that.

    3. the gold digger*

      1. We had an existing gas line routed to the kitchen. $875 was the quoted price; we still don’t have invoice – it took them less time than they thought so might be less.

      2. We bought a gas range to replace the electric smoothtop. I have hated that stove with the heat of a thousand white suns. The way the electric stove works is it’s on and then it’s off. For hotter temps, the cycle time is faster, for lower, it’s a slower cycle time. But you can never ever ever have a steady temperature. I have never had anything boil over with a gas stove, but it happens frequently with electric. Do not get electric if you can at all afford it!

      3. We are spending our holiday weekend microwaving in the dining room while Primo patches and paints the walls that were gouged as we (“It will just slide out!”) removed the microwave that was in the house when we bought it. They installed it and then painted, which meant that guess what! That nice snug fit is now too tight. It took us 30 minutes and a lot of bruises to get that thing out.

      4. Our dining room now contains the old microwave, which is on a chair, the old stove (ReStore won’t pick it up until the end of next week), the new microwave, and the new stove, neither of which can be installed until the walls are patched and painted and until Primo removes the old outlet box for the electric stove. (The gas stove takes 120 and the electric took 11o or whatever it is.) Primo is keeping the blinds closed so nobody will see our lovely new stove and break in to steal it.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I am sticking to my guns for the gas stove after this.
        We have the 35 year old Le Crueset pots and pans that I brought to the marriage 30 years ago.
        Since moving to MN, five years ago, I discovered the wonders of cast iron and love love love them.

        Right now I really need advice on how to prepare dinner using just the microwave and a toaster over.
        I am getting sick of cheese sandwiches and my go to is a pile of veggies sautéed in a pan with some kind of protein.
        Its just the two of us and Mr. Bibliovore has been eating every meal out and we can not afford that.
        the fridge is in the living room and the microwave and toaster oven are in the laundry room in the basement.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I would throw a lot of things under the bus to be able to get a gas stove. I would rather have a gas oven than an electric stove. None of the apartment buildings in my area have gas and getting a gas stove is the #1 reason I want to buy eventually.

          If you want to saute in the interim can you get a wee camp stove or a hot plate? Or perhaps an electric griddle? They can be had fairly inexpensively and would open up your options a lot.

        2. the gold digger*

          Oh man! I was annoyed having to go to the dining for the microwave just once this morning!

          As far as meals, we have pulled some stuff out of the freezer. We have a rice cooker, so we can have stew and rice. Primo would grill, but I would rather he focus his efforts on finishing this project. (We just discovered we don’t have enough paint – left over from the guy who did the house before we bought it – to patch the gouged spots, so the chore time has just been extended, ie, Primo will have to have paint mixed.)

          I am posting a link below of Shirley all confused because she can’t find her food with the stove gone.

          1. Liane*

            Slow cooker.
            Since you’re cooking for 2, try a toaster oven. You will have to check the food packaging to be sure, but I think the modern ones can do things like frozen chicken patties or fish fillets/sticks (the kind that only need warming up). College Son also makes amazing Italian bread toast, garlic bread, and mini hot subs (using hot dog buns) in ours.
            Many frozen lasagnas (possibly other frozen casseroles) can be done in the microwave instead of the oven. We think they don’t taste quite as good as oven heated, but still at least decent.

            I hope you get things fixed soon and I loved the picture. Poor kitty.

            1. Bibliovore*

              Just discovered that cooking in the toaster oven sets off the smoke dector because there is no ventilation in our laundry roo. Perhaps there is an outdoor grill in our future.

        3. It happens*

          Get an instant pot and you can sauté! And make soups, rice, meats, etc.
          or, toaster oven enchiladas – tortillas, salsa, beans, corn, cheese – cover with foil 15 minutes then uncover for last five. You can totally bake chicken parts in a small brownie pan in a toaster oven – add preferred sauce while cooking.
          Or the old standby, English muffin pizza!

          1. Valeriane*

            Or English muffin with canned tuna/diced onion/diced celery topped with sliced tomato and sliced or grated cheese

          2. Bibliovore*

            I have been eying the Insta Pot since all of the discussions here. the issue is that I have a slow cooker that I only ever used to make dog food. I am not sure that the Insta Pot would be worth the investment.
            I swear- I am feeling like I am living in a dorm. Oh yes! English muffin pizzas, I forgot about those.
            I am going to Trader Joes later- any suggestions on the microwave/ toaster oven front?

          3. Artemesia*

            We got a sous vide last year and it is amazing. Does a better job on fish and on thinks like pot roasts than anything else. Not bad on steaks but you do have to sear to get that browned crust.

        4. StrikingFalcon*

          Any vegetable that can be steamed can be made in the microwave! Just put it in a covered dish with a bit of water. Frozen veggies are particularly easy to do this way.

        5. nonprofit manager*

          Can you cook outside? We are going to demolish our kitchen soon and will microwave in the dining room, but I am particular about my food and we plan to use our grill and camping stove in the back yard so we can have real food. We have discovered previously that by monitoring the temperature, the number of burners turned on, and closing the lid, the grill can even stand in as an oven.

          1. Bibliovore*

            We are new to house living. Moved from Brooklyn NY. We have a back yard. I had planned on getting a grill. Mr. Bibliovore is not interested and I have never cooked on a grill. I am a bit on the obsessive side and have researched grills. So…I want a propane one because the coal ones would probably would trigger my asthma. I want to spend around$300. Any recommendations?

        6. Vancouver Reader*

          Since it’s summer, can you eat more salads? I use our toaster oven to make frittatas because I can’t be bothered to turn on an oven for one dish. Check out Pinterest for ideas on cooking using only a microwave.

    4. Onnellinen*

      I had gas at my previous house, but when we moved last year, it was into a condo and installing a gas line would have been difficult/expensive. In my experience, gas is the best – on and off quickly, easy to control temperature, and even heat distribution. If installing gas line will be a challenge, you are pretty much restricted to some type of electric. In my case, I got induction. It is a million times better than the electric (coil) stove that was here when we first moved in, and I am loving it. I had to replace two aluminum pans that were not compatible, as they need to be conductive, but I don’t regret it. I still miss gas, but induction is a great second choice for similar reasons – heats up very quickly, even heat distribution.

    5. Miso*

      My ex boyfriend had induction and it’s absolutely awesome. Cooking water with it is so fast!
      And if there’s no pot on top, it goes cool right away.
      Nowadays they also have these versions where you don’t have just 4 or so cooking zones, but the whole surface works, so that’s very handy if you have big pots.

      You just have to keep in mind whether your old pots work with induction or not.

    6. JulieBulie*

      I used regular coil burners for years and never really had a problem with them. (I have gas now.) (And to be honest, I liked electric better… it was easier to cook things on low heat. Or maybe the gas stove I have just sucks. It’s very hard to get it to simmer something… either it’s boiling or the flame goes out.)

      Anyway… for a while I lived in a place with disc elements. I don’t know if they still make those or not, but I do not recommend them. It takes them forever to cool off. (Much longer than coil.)

      My sister has a glass top and likes it, but if I were to get an electric I’d probably get a coil again just because I never, ever had any issues with it.

      1. On Fire*

        Julie, have you checked the valves? It sounds like the gizmo where the gas comes out to feed the flame might be partially clogged. A gas burner should do anything from low to high heat. (Mom had the same problem, and it was just the things needing to be cleaned.)

        1. JulieBulie*

          Clogged? But I’m already getting way more gas than I want.
          It’s LOW heat that’s a problem.

    7. Sled Dog Mama*

      I’ve lived with 7 different glass tops and had the same issue with all of them, they require a through cleaning every time you use them with my current gas one I give it a quick wipe after each use and a more through scrubbing occasionally.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Thank you everyone. Went and got a one burner induction cooker for the duration. Will go to Trader Joes tonight. For the pantry- tuna, tofu, For the fridge- smoked salmon, For the freezer- bagged veggies, chicken and fish to make in the toaster oven. I will get fresh greens and fruit. I am looking forward to being able to hardboil eggs as they are my go-to for lunch.

        1. Bibliovore*

          I win! Dinner tonight, first time in 2 weeks that wasn’t cheese and crackers or pressured meet or peanut butter or bowl of cereal. Burritos in the toaster oven, fresh corn in the microwave and a salad. Life is good. Thanks for the help.

    8. Mononymous*

      I have the new Samsung slide-in induction range and I ADORE it. Temperature changes are fast and responsive, water boils super fast, and food spills absolutely will not cook into the smooth top no matter how high you have the burner cranked. If you take a pan off the burner and forget to turn off the heat, it will shut itself off after a couple minutes; my husband does that every now and again and it’s a lifesaver.

      The flex duo oven is kinda neat but I usually keep the divider out and use it as a single oven; no complaints about the convection oven performance. The cooktop does sometimes make a high-pitched humming noise, especially at high temps, but I’m used to it now and it doesn’t bug me. I think the noise depends on the specific pan you use too. Pans I use are primarily Le Creuset ECI and Calphalon stainless. I have one nonstick egg pan that works on it too, I believe it’s Circulon brand.

      If you get induction, absolutely get the extended warranty. There are enough advanced electronics in there that one repair would pay for itself under warranty if needed. This range is a replacement for a Whirlpool induction range that croaked after just a couple of years; repair on it would have cost us probably over $1000 with no guarantee that it wouldn’t have a repeat failure shortly after. We’ve had good luck with Lowes extended warranty service in the past, and have that on our current range just in case.

    9. Keener*

      Induction stoves are amazing. I am currently in the process of buying a home with a gas stove and seriously considering replacing it with induction. The surface of an induction stove doesn’t really get hot so it’s really easy to keep clean… If something spills while cooking just lift up the pot, wipe up the spill and keep cooking. Just be aware that not all pots and pans will work on it. (Simple test: if a fridge magnet will stick to the pot it should work fine). Frying pans can be problematic since they are sometimes aluminum but Ikea sells inexpensive induction friendly frying pans, if needed.

  17. Kristie*

    Today my husband and I are going to a BBQ at one of his friend’s house. There will be around 40 people there. I have some anxiety about parties like this because I find it hard to make small talk with people I don’t know. The ironic thing is that I *want* to talk to them and possibly make new friends. I just get nervous and don’t know what to say and …some of the people already know each other, start talking about other things .. and I end up feeling left out. My husband isn’t great about including me in the conversation but he is nice about me leaving the party early or even both of us leaving if I’m not having a good time.

    I guess I’m just looking for advice or maybe encouraging words. Has anyone felt this way at a party where they don’t know many people?

    1. fposte*

      Sure, all the time. I think it’s a learned skill. One easy trick is to ask questions; you can get some amazing stories that way, too. “So you met in college–what’s one of your favorite college memories together?” can keep things going for quite a while.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes. A key to being a fabulous conversationalist in other people’s eyes is asking them to elaborate on what they’re already talking about.

        1. Fiennes*

          YES. As the saying goes, people forget what you said; they remember how you made them feel. Show interest in them & they’ll remember you as delightful and perceptive.

      2. Zathras*

        I like this approach, but one thing I had to learn is that it takes 2 people to have a conversation. Sometimes the other person would just give really short answers with no follow up questions of their own, resulting in repeated awkward silence. It feels like you are failing, but really what is happening is the other person is not pulling their weight. Politely disengage and try again with someone else. Eventually you’ll find someone who pulls their weight, or even better, someone who likes to talk and will let you get away with just nodding and asking the occasional follow up.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      I’m glad you are going even if you are a bit nervous!

      I’m super-extroverted and love to talk to people I don’t know. Assume that there is at least one person like me at the party. They will probably make eye contact with you and smile.

      If you aren’t sure what to talk about there is always the weather. Or, ask what they are enjoying on TV/Netflix. Or, what they are reading. Or, any summer vacation plans? How do you know the hosts? I encourage you to start your own conversations, too.

      If you stand by the booze and/or food, you will meet a lot of people.

      Have a great time!

    3. Temperance*

      I can totally relate. I’m a fan of the “Hi, I’m Temperance. We haven’t met / I think we met at Joe and John’s party, how are you?” tactic. It gives people a positive memory of you, and they’re more likely to include you next time.

      I am straight up strange and awkward, so I pretend to be someone who isn’t when I do this. It weirdly works.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        I imitate my extroverted mom whenever meeting people for the first time! It does kind of help to think of it like an act.

    4. Me2*

      Even as an extrovert I get a little anxious around large groups of people who already know each other. Ask your husband to think of one or two people there you might have something in common with and then introduce you with that subject, i.e. this is Mary, she has also been to Iceland; you need to meet Wakeen, he’s a huge fan of AAM; stuff like that. Be prepared to ask questions of the other person, most people like to talk about themselves. How do you know the hosts, pets, travel (past or future), current events in your town. I like to ask strangers where they take visitors to our city, I’ve learned about some fun new places that way. You can pretend you have company coming soon and need advice. Don’t have expectations that you’ll meet a new friend, be pleasantly surprised if you have several nice conversations over the course of the event.

    5. CityMouse*

      I totally sympathize, I feel stressed at those situations too, and I feel like I’m called on it a lot.

      I think one thing is that it’s okay to not engage if you don’t feel like it. The pressure isn’t entirely on you to make contact with people. I also think it’s totally fine to talk about superficial things (that’s why tv and movies exist, IMO to give us stuff to talk about). I once got into a huge foot-in-mouth situation when asking about someone’s job (they had just been fired), so I actually steer of that kind of thing. But things like Spiderman tend to be safe topics.

    6. The German Chick*

      For me, it was a learnt skill I practiced at parties where I knew literally no one but the host. I start by saying: “Hi, I made it my goal today to talk to everyone at this party. I am so curious to know more of the host’s friends. So, how do you know him ?” which spins into a conversation (“cool, so you met him in French class in college. How did you come up with the idea to study French?”…) it’s easiest to start with people who are also by themselves, but it also works with groups. People usually appreciate the initiative and if they don’t, they should (social interaction is the purpose of a party after all!). I find it easiest without a partner by my side. You two could also make it a contest (who gets to know how many guess?). I usually end up having a lot of fun!

    7. Courageous Cat*

      Yes, all the time. Alcohol is what fixes it for me. Not a lot is needed, just enough to grease the wheel, if that’s even a saying.

    8. Jo*

      Oh yes. So much yes. Where I used to live/work, the entire social scene consisted of these kinds of parties where people stand around all night making small talk, at least until curfew and most people left. I was so, so terrible at this. But I got better eventually. I’m such a nerd that I cam up with a few cheats that really helped.

      – Practice definitely helps, and if you keep attending parties with the same people, it will help after a while once you start to know people and can go right up to someone you know and greet them, thus getting ushered into their current conversation.

      – Prepare. This may be outing me as a total socially anxious nerd, but I would spend some time before the party coming up with a few topics of conversation, some questions to ask that will result in long, detailed answers, and a few stories of my own to share.

      – Find out who the extrovert is. The one who can talk to anyone and can talk about anything and make it interesting, and hang around with them. They’re always easy to talk to because they do all the talking! At most you’d have to make encouraging noises or ask the occasional follow-up question.

      – If you drink, that can help, too. Just be sure to not to drink too much too fast in your nervousness/awkwardness, because that makes it harder to keep a clear enough head for the above strategies. I usually sip at a glass of wine periodically, just enough to keep me loose and engaged without my brain getting foggy.

      Good luck!

    9. Artemesia*

      In a large group one strategy is to look around and find a couple of other people who are at loose ends and engage them. There may be a reason they are isolated because they are boors or something, but they may also be others just like you who are a little nervous about jumping in.

  18. Windchime*

    Ouch. My cat was snoozing peacefully on my lap when a piece of ice fell in the ice maker on the fridge. It startled him and he took off, leaving long scratches on my shoulder that really hurt! Bad kitty!

    What’s everyone doing this weekend? I had family over last night for pizza and we will grill burgers at some point this weekend. The weather here has been pretty and warm all week, but now it is gloomy. Boo.

    1. Purple snowdrop*

      Tonight I’m going to a friend’s house; me, her and one other friend will eat pizza, chat for a bit then all read our own books in companiable (is that a word?) silence. It’s awesome.
      Tomorrow I plan to kick the family out and have some time to myself.

    2. Stella's Mom*

      I read cover to cover a Vanity Fair mag, today, and have been resting and recovering post-op (gallbladder removal 6 days ago). I am having a friend over for coffee tomorrow, and will walk the dog of my roommate on slow, easy walks as I heal. My weekend (and the next week) are all looking like this – reading, napping, healing, walking. :) (Also ouch to the kitty scratches).

    3. Mimmy*

      Ooooh cat scratches hurt like a mofo!!

      Tomorrow, we are leaving for a week down in Avalon with my family. We’ve been doing this since 2006 – it gets really chaotic at times as there are 19 of us, 9 of them kids, who have now sprouted practically overnight into teenagers! But it’s always a special time of year for my family, so I’m looking forward to it.

      1. Lady Jay*

        Avalon as in the mythical eternal land that Arthur disappeared to? Tell him “hi” from us & see if you can convince him to come back; we could maybe use his leadership these days. ;)

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We just got back from dropping some of our crap off at the dump, and then tonight we’re going out for Korean BBQ! :-9

      It was a lot of crap. I think I had 8 hard drives, 4 DVRs, an old MacBook, and a lot of non-working small appliances (tower fan, space heaters, etc.), along with the usual container of batteries that we keep under the counter.

      Oh, and I replaced the flush arm inside the toilet, because it somehow rusted through. I don’t know what’s up with that toilet, it always flushes slowly, but the plumber said it’s a great model and we should try to fix it. I have been cleaning the bowl, which was coated with rust scale, because he said that can slow the speed of the water and mess up the flush flow, but we’ve done two 48-hour soaks in pure CLR and it’s still got scale on it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ugh, I need to fix my flapper. It won’t seat properly and the toilet runs. I have to reach in and adjust it after every flush. It might need replacing. Double ugh–that will mean moving an entire shelf unit that sits over the damn thing.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I don’t think it’s sulfur, because none of the other toilets have this issue. But if it was, what do we do about it? If there is a simple fix, I will try it and see if it works, because #SCIENCE.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I think you would know if you had a sulfur problem, you’d smell it and you’d see it in other fixtures. Since it’s this one toilet, I would start by trying to figure out where the rust is coming from. Perhaps it’s just a build up from over the years.
            Is this a toilet that does not get much use? Strange things happen to toilets that do not get used often.

            I had some bowl stains here that nothing worked on. By sheer luck I found a product on a clearance table. It WORKED! I could not believe how easily it worked, either. I followed the directions on the bottle, basically to paint it on, wait, scrub.
            You may have to google to find it. It’s called “Tub ‘N Sink Jelly”, and bottle says “lime and rust remover”.
            An 8 ounce bottle was originally $3.99. I used so little I think the 8 ounce bottle will last the rest of my life. You’ll want gloves, of course.
            The company is Duro and they are part of the Loctite Corporation.
            Maybe this will work?

    5. Liane*

      Not a lot. Supposed to rain all weekend but pretty sunny so we might take Bear the Lab on an “Adventure” to walk a bit on a local urban trail. (It won’t be a long one because of his hip issues.)
      Otherwise I plan to read all day, then College Son and I will order pizza before the Skype game session. We are currently playing D&D 5th edition’s Curse of Strahd.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I WISH I had something to do, but as usual, everybody forgets I exist on a holiday weekend. :P I had a hair appointment today and have fallen in love with the back of my head. tinyurl.com/ybzjsnp3

      What I’ll probably do is bust out on beginning a mini NaNoWriMo and catch up on this season of Doctor Who.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I am always SO happy on Color Day. It’s just a root touch-up, but my stylist does an outstanding job on the color and in keeping the highlights in good shape. Worth the money–I can’t go on interviews with inches of roots.
          Plus, pampering, heh heh. :)

      1. Jo*

        Oooh I *LOVE* your hair! I’ve always wanted long full beautiful hair like that, but mine just doesn’t do long. It starts to look all stringy and frizzy and awful as it gets longer :(

    7. Workaholic*

      I’m watching nascar in front of a friend’s a/c. And about to go shopping at a second hand store. My backpack stolen from my car last year showed up in the store this morning. I’m going back to dig through books in hopes the book stolen shows up. Out of stock/out of print $85 or more to replace. A friend had just given it to me as a gift from her shelf. Tomorrow: swim in the river, hike, craft and lunch at a friend’s house.

    8. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I went to my Women’s Wisdom Circle meeting this morning, and we all voted to use some of our money from ‘Sophia’s purse’ to put together a snack basket for a member who is at the rehab hospital following back surgery.

      Then we all went to lunch at a small, family-owned Mexican restaurant. They have a $10 minimum for credit- or debit-card purchases, so I got a couple of margaritas to make sure I didn’t fall under the minimum. Well, the first margarita was for receipt padding; the second one was because the first one was sooo good. :-) I paid for it later, as I was sicker than a dog this evening. I went to bed around 6:30 pm and now I’m awake since 11:30 pm. People in my neighborhood are now shooting fireworks because it’s near July 4th.

  19. Your Weird Uncle*

    So I’m currently following a sugar detox diet. There are lots out there, but I’m following the one written by Brooke Alpert and Patricia Farris. It includes a 3 day strict no-sugar diet (like, no natural sugars apart from what you get from the list of approved veggies and proteins). I’m finishing up Week 1 – tomorrow, I get to add some (approved) fruits like blackberries and blueberries. Yay!

    I was worried I’d end up crashing and binging on gummy worms, or staring longingly at donuts while my family happily munches away on their sugary breakfast. I’m happy to say I feel great, my blood sugar isn’t all over the place like it used to be, and I hardly even blinked when the family ate their Saturday morning donuts.

    Anyone else do a sugar detox, and how’d it go?

    1. Kristie*

      Good for you!!! I find it so hard to stick with eating plans/diets/whatever you want to call them.

      1. Your Weird Uncle*

        Thank you! I find it really hard, too, but I’m happy to report that this one lets you have dairy and wine on Day 4, so I felt like I can stick with it for a while. I’m going to do the month and see how I feel after that – they say that during the long-term maintenance, you can have up to two desserts per week if you substitute out a starch that day, so I might even be able to keep it up longer. I will say, though, that I miss crusty bread and sugar in my morning coffee!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Watermelon saved my life. I would not have made it if there were no such thing as watermelon. lol. I think it was week 6 or 8 that it hit me like a brick wall. I plowed through it though. I could not believe the changes in my body and in my mind because of dropping refined sugars. Incredible. It was those changes that kept me going.

      1. Your Weird Uncle*

        Honestly, for me it’s been beans that have kept me going through the first few days. I was really missing potatoes, so on Day 2 I realized I could get the same sort of starchy consistency with beans We’ve had some pretty good chilis lately!

        I also got a delicious apple cinnamon tea which has just enough sweetness, so if I was having a sweetness craving I’d have some of that and a handful of pecans, and that’s done the trick so far.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      I did Sarah Gottfried’s 21 day hormone reset detox and it was amazing for me. YMMV but it really changed my life.
      The first day and a half without sugar was rough, but then I felt so good!

      1. Your Weird Uncle*

        Hm, interesting. I haven’t heard of that one! Are you still following it?

    4. nep*

      Good for you. Your body will thank you.
      Not a sugar detox per se, but when I cut out all added sugars and honey (eating just fruits, veg, and other carbs), the two most noticeable changes were: much sounder sleep and much better digestion/bowel movements.
      Keep us posted.

  20. Not Karen*

    I’ve been working with a realtor to find a rental and have run out of time unable to secure a place because landlords are *&%$. So now the realtor won’t get paid. Should I buy him a gift of some sort?

    1. self employed*

      That’s a nice gesture. I’d also recommend him/her to my friends and also tap him/her again if I were to rent or buy.

  21. AnnaleighUK*

    I need some advice, guys.

    I have a friend who I’ve known for about seven years. We have a shared love of all things triathlon and cycling-related and we get on really well. He lives in the North (Newcastle) and I’m due to go and visit him soon.

    Problem is, he’s become ridiculously clingy. He messages me constantly – and I mean constantly. My phone is buzzing with Messenger pings as I’m typing this. He doesn’t have that many other friends and I know he’s actually quite insecure and a bit depressed. He recently split up with his boyfriend who basically steamrollered over his emotions in the breakup and made him feel like crap, so he turned to his other friends for help getting over the split. Which I didn’t mind, but he’s getting very annoying now, and his constant messages are really disruptive. I do turn off notifications when I’m at work but the other day I checked Messenger at lunchtime and found like fifty unread messages from him. I thought ‘you have to be joking me’ and didn’t reply, and then later that night he sent me a text saying ‘Don’t you like me anymore? You read my FB messages but didn’t reply, have I upset you?’ Like what the hay, I am run off my feet at work at the moment and I don’t have TIME to read Messenger during the day. And pardon me for having a life outside my iPhone in the evenings.

    I actually don’t want to go and visit him. I do, to see what Newcastle is like (I hear the shopping is great) but I don’t know if I’m able to deal with a whole weekend of Him. He’s different on triathlon weekends and we will always have those, but I kind of want to keep him as ‘triathlon buddy’ and not ‘bff’.

    Sooo how do I distance him and just keep him at arms length without feeling like a total cow for doing so? I’m worried if I’m direct with him he will sink into a slump and try to guilt trip me for making him ‘feel bad’. Which he won’t succeed at, because I don’t do guilt trips and he brought this on himself.

    Sigh! Thanks guys.

    1. neverjaunty*

      If he can’t guilt trip you, why are you worried about feeling like a cow?

      He’s being an ass, honestly. Nagging someone this much and then pulling “don’t you like me anymore?” is childish.

      Why not tell him the problem straight out? “Fergus, you know we’re friends and I’m sad this guy just you. But surely you can see that messaging me fifty times is not reasonable.”

    2. Myrin*

      It’s great to read that you don’t do guilt trips because I was just about to suggest that you try and resist the force of his guilt-tripping tendencies, should it ever come to it (at least outwardly – it’s not as important that you don’t actually feel guilty as that you react and behave like you don’t). So I think you’re all clear on that front.

      As for his messages, I always hear the advice and have myself been successful with just taking longer and longer to reply. It’s also completely fine to answer stuff like his text with “Dude, I’m swamped in work, I really don’t have time for this”, if you ask me.

      As for the trip to visit him, I’m not sure how to get out of it, to be honest. On the one hand, it would be the perfect (and easiest, in a way) opportunity to tell him honestly how you feel, but on the other hand, you don’t want to hurt him any more than he’s already hurting and also want to continue a relationship with him, just not a close one. So, hm. Could you just pretend like something really important and unchangeable came up during exactly the time you’re supposed to go up there? Will he accept that but later insist that you’ll meet up another time (because in that case, that route might not be advisable after all)?

      I’m wishing you all the luck in this difficult situation!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You could tell him that you can’t do 50 messages a day. Tell him what you are willing to do, perhaps one or two messages? And you could ask him what he wants to do to fill up his days now that he is partner-less. Explain how sometimes people need to deliberately build a plan to fill the time after a partner leaves.
      If he tells you he is still sad about the loss of the relationship, explain that is grief and it’s okay to be sad. We have tears for a reason and we need to use tears to help ourselves.

      OTH, you could explain that most of your friends only talk X times in Y interval. And that is pretty normal because of work/life/home responsibilities.

      1. JulieBulie*

        I think this is a good idea – setting firm and clear boundaries. “I’m really busy” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, but “I can text you a little bit after work” gives a more realistic expectation of when and how much he will he from you.

        As for the weekend visit – if you have the time for it, it might not be too bad as long as you make it clear that it is only the weekend, and it doesn’t mean you’ll be available 24/7 after you go home.

        My MO after a breakup was always to immerse myself in a new hobby. Thank goodness texting wasn’t invented yet, or I might have driven everyone crazy.

    4. LCL*

      You shouldn’t feel like a cow because you will be helping him. Tell him you have noticed he is having a hard time and should seek help.

    5. Merci Dee*

      How soon until you’re supposed to go for a visit? Have you already made reservations/purchased tickets/etc.? So much of this depends on the arrangements you’d talked about for the trip.

      If you were supposed to stay with your friend for the duration of the visit, would it be possible to change plans and find a hotel? That way, you could still see visit with your friend some, but you would have a hotel room to get away to if he became too much to deal with, and you could still see some of Newcastle.

      But if you decide you just don’t want to go, then don’t go. I’m a fan of being straight-forward, and I think it’s a totally valid response to tell someone, “I’m not coming because I don’t want to.” No excuses needed, no argument, no validation. You don’t want to go, so you don’t. Be kind when you say this, even maybe a little apologetic if he was looking forward to your visit. But, ultimately, keep in mind that nobody can force you to make a trip that you don’t want to, and that you have the right to change plans and stay home if you wish.

      (Best thing about being straight-forward? It also works the other way, too. “I’m going to buy those shoes/eat that piece of cake/go on that vacation/take that ballroom dancing class because I want to.” Period.)

      1. AnnaleighUK*

        I’m driving up and I’ve booked a hotel, he lives in a one bedroom flat and at 36 years old I’m a bit old for an inflatable mattress on the floor! I’m supposed to be going up in two weeks time so actually plenty of time to mull it over and cancel if needs be. I would still like to go to see the city but not with him in tow. I guess I could still go and sightsee and shop but then I run the risk of seeing him out in town. Hmm. At least I have some time to think it over! I’ve temporarily muted him on Messenger and flat out told him last night if he doesn’t stop messaging me I’ll block him totally.

        I’m off for a long bike ride today with some rational minded friends who sort of know Other Friend so I’ll pick their brains too but I think I’m going to have to be direct with him and deal with the drama llama reaction that will inevitably follow. Thanks guys!

        1. Jo*

          Try planning out your trip in advance, setting aside some blocks of time for him, and some solo time to sightsee, shop, whatever. Then if he tries to tag along, you can tell him that you’ve already made plans, booked a tour, are meeting up with someone else, whatever, but that you’ll be glad to see him again in the next block of time you’ve set aside for him. And be firm.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Just a thought: I have good friends that come to the area to visit and do things. They let me know where their open times are so we can get together. Usually we walk around and then have dinner or lunch somewhere. It doesn’t offend me that they are limiting their time with me, I can see that they have other stuff they want to do, too.
          Can you set a tone by saying, “I will be in the area for a day or two. I’d like to get together with you for a few hours during my stay. ” Yes, this is sort of preemptive. Before he asks you are telling him what your limits are.

          OTH, think about times where you wished people spent more time with you and they didn’t. What helped you through that mixed bag of emotions. Maybe you can draw on your own experience to find other ways of telling your friend “here are my limits”.

  22. Gingerbread*

    I logged on to Facebook for the first time in 5 years and found out one of my best friends died a couple months ago. We stopped communicating years ago for reasons that now seem insignificant.

    I want to reach out to her sister who I was also friends with, but I’m not even sure what to say. My friend and I stopped talking for stupid reasons (we were young, partying, boyfriend drama). This just doesn’t feel real.

    1. Purple snowdrop*

      Oh my god I’m so sorry. That sounds awful.

      In your shoes I would reach out to the sister, but very minimally at this stage: you don’t know how they have reacted to your guys not being friends any more from what you say, so you don’t want to risk adding drama to grief. Be led by her, I guess.

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You have a good start here.

      You could say that you just became aware of Friend’s passing. “We stopped communicating a while ago for reasons that now seem insignificant.” Then continue on with, “I wanted you to know that I am so very sorry for your loss. And I will always remember Friend fondly because of [her great sense of humor; good times; road trip; whatever].”

      One thing. Do sign your full name and underneath say how you knew each other. I got a couple of sympathy cards and I have NO idea who the people are and they gave me no memory triggers to work with. I felt bad because I could not remember them.

    3. neverjaunty*

      I’m so sorry.

      You don’t need to say anything more elaborate to her sister other than expressing condolences for her and her family’s loss.

    4. WellRed*

      An old friend of mine that i stopped speaking with died. Hadn’t talked to her in 20 years. Her family welcomed me with open arms at wake/funeral. I was soooo nervous, though.

  23. The German Chick*

    I cleaned my cache and cookies but I still get redirected to spammy websites on my iPhone. Anyone else got the same problem?

      1. GermanGirl*

        Yup, I also have that problem, but only from my Smartphone (Android 7, Chrome-Browser and I also tried Adblock-Browser but same problem).
        Will use the ad-reporting box from my phone next time it happens.

        It’s no problem from my laptop (Ubuntu 16.4, Chrome-Browser), so it can’t be location.

    1. self employed*

      I finally caved and installed norton Adblock. It has helped SO much; navigating this site had become an exercise in frustration.

  24. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    Happy Canada Day, Canadians! What is everyone doing for the 150th? I’m visiting my in-laws in Edmonton, so after lunch we’ll be heading downtown to see the festival and fireworks at night.

    1. Colette*

      Happy Canada Day to you as well! I went downtown but didn’t go to Parliament Hill – I saw the inspection of the guard and a bunch of Parliament Hill stuff via the giant screens that were everywhere.

    2. Kate*

      We’re in Ottawa, walking distance to the Hill, and we have done NOTHING. Nada. zip.

      It rained all morning and we weren’t keen on standing in the lines in the rain with a toddler, and now she has had the king of all naps (4 hours!) so I am sitting here in my red Canada shirt with nowhere to go.

    3. Felicia*

      I did a 3 hour boat ride around the Toronto harbour front because my family got free tickets, and were staying in the area for fireworks later. The giant rubber duck is pretty cool

    4. HannahS*

      Nothing special, just watching the Ottawa stuff on TV. My family and I are making a weekend project of the double-page crossword from the Globe though! Something like 630 clues.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      I hit up the Canada Day celebration in Taipei. It was raining and I got soaked, but there were Bloody Caesars and poutine, and t-shirts for sale in sizes that actually fit me.

      One bonus to a Canada Day do in Taiwan is that there are no laws about alcohol in public parks. So I could buy my drink, and then wander around with it happily. The event itself (which attracts about 10,000 people) is more kid-oriented in the afternoon (face painting, bouncy castle, crafts), and shifts more to the live bands, dancing and drinking as night falls.

    6. Jules the First*

      Theoretically off to the Calgary fireworks in a bit…assuming the thunderstorm doesn’t force a postponement.

      1. Al Lo*

        There was some pretty crazy weather. We can hear the concerts from our window, and kept following the city account on twitter and listening to see when the programming on the stage actually started.

    7. Al Lo*

      Happy Canada Day! I’m in Calgary, and hang out downtown all day Canada Day every year. A performing group I manage performed this morning and early afternoon, and then we spend the rest of the day checking stuff out. Calgary’s downtown has really picked up for Canada Day over the past 5 years or so. Food trucks everywhere, at least 10-20 different stages with various entertainment, markets and craft fairs, tons of people hanging out… it’s a lot of fun.

      We live right on the main riverfront road that gets shut down and has the main evening concerts and the fireworks right off it, so we went out the front door of our apartment building and ate at the food trucks, and then listened to the Tegan and Sara concert (although didn’t push through to get a spot in front of the stage) and watched the fireworks, and were home in 5 minutes. It’s kind of perfect.

      1. Jules the First*

        Ha. Envy. It took us an hour to get out of Crescent Heights last night. Fireworks were cool though!

  25. MechanicalPencil*

    I posted several weeks ago about how to find a therapist/what sort of therapy might be right for the non couch “tell me your life story” types. With a combination of Good Therapy and Pyschology Today’s websites (and my own insurance’s list of covered therapists), I had my first session this week. It wasn’t exactly what I expected and yet it was. I’m not sure how beneficial it will be just yet but my fingers are crossed.

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      Early post — thanks everyone for the help and the nudge. It felt weirdly good to talk to someone candidly who didn’t automatically side for someone else.

  26. Sugar of lead*

    Also-also, guys, I’m thinking of moving into an apartment soon. I’ve been crashing with relatives the past few years so it will be my first time living alone. Ideally I’d have my own place, which is affordable where I’d be living, but I’m also open to the idea of roommates. What advice do you have for someone in this situation?

    1. JulieBulie*

      Roommates can be great, or they can be awful. A lot of it depends on how easygoing and tolerant you are; if you are neat, fussy, sloppy, etc.; if you are outgoing and like to entertain a lot; how you would feel about a roommate who wants to entertain a lot.

      I’m an introvert and I really prefer to live alone, but if you think you’d enjoy (or not mind) having a roommate, you can afford a MUCH nicer apartment and/or save a lot of money.

      I remember one apartment complex I looked at long ago, it was expensive but they said they might be able to match me up with a roommate. (It was a place where people had to be bonded, so there presumably wouldn’t have been a problem with nonpayment of rent.) I ended up living somewhere else, so it didn’t happen. I’m just curious if that’s a common thing, for the management to do tht.

    2. JulieBulie*

      Also – if you can, talk to some people who live in the neighborhood/apartment complex before you decide. You can find out things like noisy neighbors, crime, bedbugs, bad management, etc. that could be dealbreakers.

    3. Sherry*

      There are a lot of good things about good roommates. It can be nice to share a space, and have someone ask how your day was. They could become your friend, or introduce you to their circle of friends. They can encourage good habits — I had a roommate who was a health nut, for example, and they were a good influence on me. And you can live in a nicer apartment while paying less rent.

      There are nice things about living on your own, though, too, of course. Even if you have an A+ roommate, it’s nice to be alone sometimes, or just to make certain decisions without consulting someone.

  27. Wendy Darling*

    I thought my dog was getting over whatever stomach bug he had but then he pooped EVERYWHERE in the night again and I got to spend my entire morning cleaning the carpet. So we went to the vet and he got an antibiotic and a probiotic and an anti-nausea shot and $200 in diagnostics.

    On the plus side he is apparently a gleaming paragon of health other than, you know, being a poop terrorist at the moment. He just has a sensitive stomach and something disagreed with him. I feel bad for him because he clearly feels dreadful, but I also feel bad for me because I have spent the last entire week cleaning poop, talking to vets and my partner about poop, and worrying about poop. My friend who has a potty training 2.5 year old and I are feeling an odd kinship.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      I am having the same problem with pee! The dog tested negative for Cushings disease, but positive for diabetes. But the Vet kept him on a pill to lower his cortisol levels anyway. When all the tests came back clean and his levels were lowered and his blood sugar good, he said we could start weaning him off the anti-cortisol drugs if we wanted to, but to watch for symptoms.

      The dog leaking pee all over is a symptom. :P So called to see if we can pick up more of the pills before they close today at 1. I gave him a pill today and we have one for tomorrow, and they ARE open Monday, so we’re good until then. Just Ugh! :P

      1. Wendy Darling*

        Ugh, bodily fluids. My dog came to me with the worst UTI known to dogkind, so my entire life was dog pee for the first six weeks while we ran through three different antibiotics trying to clear that up.

        Also that was a very stressful time for him (he was picked up as a stray, held in a shelter, neutered, and then adopted out) and now he responds to stress by sneaking away and peeing on something. So I frequently realize something has upset the dog when I find a pee spot.

        Fortunately he’s otherwise an incredibly charming dog.

    2. Shayland*


      Some what related: I’ve been deep cleaning my apartment because with one of my dog’s UTI issues she has peed over literally every inch of tile and I’ve been neglecting basic cleaning that doing the dishes for a while due to other crazy intense life stuff.

      So, while I was cleaning my young dog just would not leave me alone. I thought it was because he’d never seen my get on my hands and knees and scrub the floor, he kept licking my head and trying to hump me. So I put him in my bedroom. I didn’t bother to put him in a crate.

      He peed all over the floor.

      Usually he tries to get my attention to let me know he needs to go out by whining. And he should have been fine for a few more hours.


    3. Call me St. Vincent*

      I am so sorry! Been there! I highly recommend a probiotic daily. It has been fairly life changing for my dog. His poops totally changed and he used to get diarrhea all the time and tons of stomach “bugs” and he was always on metronidizale (sp?), but now he hasn’t had anything for over a year. Our vet recommended we do it. I order one from Chewy called Vetriscience, it’s the every day probiotic for GI health.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        He’s actually usually great but when he has a GI problem he goes big. This is the second time he’s had trouble, and the last time the vet and I freaked out and checked for cancer or a puncture because he was bleeding from both ends. Nope, he just ate something that didn’t agree with him and got the worst case of gastritis ever, and was fine after 2 weeks on a bland diet. Better safe than sorry, I guess, but boy howdy was that expensive…

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          Yeah I’ve been there with mine too :( He had to be admitted once for testing and get hooked up to an IV for medication then subcutaneous fluids for dehydration. It sucks! I hope your little guy has a speedy recovery!

  28. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Month 2 begins of no contact with toxic nmom/edad. It feels so quiet, like a summer getaway, and so serene. After her overreacting saying the SO and I were liars when we tried to tell her some things outside our control.

    After this month, I’m contemplating once a month email tiny updates to my dad so he knows I’m alive, then no contact beyond that.

    I spent a quiet morning cleaning my apt, then am venturing off for a relaxing town stroll.

    I had a weird dream I was in the countryside taking a picture with a pistol-shaped vintage camera, which made the scenery unbelievably beautiful–shades of auburn and greens etc. and I felt so happy/adventurous with the unknown ahead. What’s this dream mean?

    Also, what are fun free activities you like to do on weekends?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The first thing I thought when you were talking about going no contact is that I hoped you would be able to last long enough to realize how peaceful it is! It takes a little while for the echoes of their abuse to die down, it depends on the individual, but eventually their voice in your head fades away, and it’s so peaceful!

      If you email your dad and he tends to be an enabler, consider closing the email with something about how you’ve been taking a break from email and just checked in to let him know everything’s fine. That sets the expectation that you won’t respond, even if you do read his response pretty quickly.

    2. JulieBulie*

      Your dream means that you ate too much before you went to bed. That was my first thought, anyway. But I’ve learned to keep thinking beyond the first thought.

      There’s that feeling you had. It probably really is how you feel. You’ve had a couple of months of peace and quiet without the constant toxic influence of your parents. Maybe you are wondering what your life will be like without all that destructive noise. It is a little like starting a new adventure with the unknown ahead. And it is also like seeing colors you’ve never seen before.

      Fun free stuff during the summer – I don’t know. I mostly hang around at home catching up on chores. If it’s a hot day and you like the library, that’s good. I visit my grandmother and my sister and play with my nieces and nephews. I have a ton of DVDs to watch. But the rest is chores. I don’t mind doing them on a nice day.

    3. Fenchurch*

      My location has a lot of free entertainment available for the summertime. Free concerts outdoors, free movie nights at local parks, “festivals” that are more like craft fairs, and even a local kite flying festival. Try looking into your area for fun things like that! You could also invest in lawn games or see if there’s a local board game store that allows groups to play for free.

    4. Sherry*

      Free things to do:
      Hike (your town might have trails within city limits!)
      Crossword puzzle (you’d have to buy the paper)
      Music/street festivals (a lot of towns have some)
      Work on a hobby, like yoga, writing, music, photography, cooking, jogging, etc.
      Meet a friend, and walk in the park
      Museums often have a free day once a month
      Declutter (I enjoy this, but I might be weird)
      Not free, but sometimes you can rent bikes or canoes for, like, $5 or $10. Fun way to explore!

  29. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Has anyone used one of those online interior decorating services where they do everything virtually rather than in-person, and if so, were you happy with them? (Examples: Havenly, Decorist, etc.) I’m using Laurel and Wolf for one of the rooms in our new house, and while the process isn’t done yet, so far I’ve been underwhelmed and feel like they’re not suggesting things that I couldn’t easily have figured out on my own. I’m curious what other people’s experience has been.

    1. Bibliovore*

      I have not used on line services. I have hired an interior designer who worked on two things. One was my home office.I am not typical in my needs- my book shelves are organized by publication month and I only hold at home six months of galleys/ ARCs organized by month and publisher and 12 months of picture books that are weeded monthly to come up with the best of the year. Nothing stays past six months unless I think it will win an award. The interior designer helped me realize what I really needed in the room and what to spend money on…
      no desk- I write on a laptop on a couch. The couch is a fold out and was pricey.
      no coffee table- I have hand made stools from Scott Jorden that fit together like puzzle pieces.

      When we moved I hired an interior designer to help with the placement of the furniture and where to hand our clothes.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s interesting about your office! I’m not planning on having a desk in my new office either, since I like writing from a couch now. I’m just planning to have a chaise lounge, a filing cabinet, and a small table. Maybe an arm chair too if it fits.

    2. Aphrodite*

      I have not but I wouldn’t do it either. Interestingly, Apartment Therapy has had a couple of posts on those and if I remember correctly the results were mixed.

      May I ask the reason you used one? Did you feel a pro might give you more options and ideas than you could come up with on your own? It depends on each person, of course, but I believe most of us can do better than we think especially if we are talking about online services only.

      My sense–and it’s only mine–is that passionate amateurs tend to do much better than pros. Sure, we may not have access to “trade only” showrooms but using shelter magazines (AD, Veranda, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Traditional Home, HGTV magazine) and online sources (AT, Decoholic, Emily Henderson, etc.) and your own sense you will likely come up with more satisfying and personalized and workable spaces that feel and work right for you. I am sure pros will disagree. But then I dislike the coldness and perfectionism of pro-designed spaces.

      Best of luck! I know you can do it.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Originally I just wanted advice on paint colors, but then I thought what the hell — it could be interesting to see what they’d recommend for the whole room. Counterintuitively, it’s actually making me trust my own instincts more though.

        1. Bibliovore*

          The person who helped me with my home office gave good suggestions on brands. The couch is Carlyle. She also recommended waiting until the floor sample sale for a deep discount. I did that. She also encouraged me to heat the floor as the front room skewed cold. oh, and have the electrician move an outlet to the bookshelf near the doorway to create a docking station and landing space for my laptop, iPad, and phone. And if you look to the right of the couch that is my dog’s crate.

        2. Aphrodite*

          And maybe that is THE best reason for having consulted one. You are now more confident in your opinions and ideas.

          Honestly, I think many of us “know.” It’s when we are convinced that someone else knows better that we question our own instincts. But read enough decor magazines, books and websites and I believe we get enough education to improve our own tastes.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I am laughing. My friend who was helping me with my house did not like some of the colors I chose. Matter of fact he really hated some of them. One color was a coral and he kept calling it brown. The more of this he did, the more I liked the color and decided that I could make this work. I put olive green and eggplant purple with it and it came out GREAT. I overheard him telling someone, “It looks like a magazine.” ha! Not really, but I am happy with it.

          My theory is that we already know what colors we want, we are just overwhelmed by the choices out there. I bought whatever I found on the clearance tables that I liked. Paint departments mark down their “oops” paints and you can get some bargains. Recently I bought a 5 gallon bucket of paint, originally $211 for $30 bucks. It’s the best paint I have ever bought- it is one tough paint.

        4. Call me St. Vincent*

          Interior designer Laurel Bern has an amazing website about design generally but specifically with regard to paint colors. I credit her website for helping me find paint colors for my whole house. Her blog is called Laurel Bern interiors. The actual decorating stuff is a bit “decoratey” and expensive for my taste but she is truly amazing for paint colors and inspiration.

            1. Call me St. Vincent*

              Glad I could help! She really saved us in terms of our paint choices, especially her article on all the zillions of white paints. I ended up using Cotton Balls by Ben Moore on all my ceilings, doors and trim and it is gorgeous. I could never have found that color without her guide.

      2. JamieS*

        I agree with this if we’re exclusively referring to the amateur’s own space. If you’re someone who can visualize what you want then you’re going to know what’s best for you and your tastes. Now if we’re talking about who’d do a better job for another random person my money is on the pro.

        1. Bibliovore*

          I have very little spacial relations ability. I needed someone to walk me through how I would use the space. If you look at my office picture. The interior designer suggested the couch under the window after she saw that I worked tucked into the corner of the couch sideways with my knees and feet up and could see out of the window. The couch previously was on the right side wall and we were thinking of the built in shelves under and around the window space and the dog crate in the living room area. She also suggested the Morris pattern curtains to echo the Arts and Crafts design through the apartment. She recommended getting rid of a rocker that no one used and not to replace it as this space was a writing one and did I need to encourage anyone to come in an sit down? She also noted that I was a pile-er not a file-er and we got rid of my file cabinet. I then moved important records into file boxes that went in the closet between the shelves. Current work in paper was in a horizontal sorter. Since the picture books were held horizontal, the top of the bookshelves became my “desk” surface for current work.
          She suggested the fabric on the couch that was neutral. I had done a vision board and the color that kept showing up was a sage-y green. On the wall on the right the carpenter built had hanging shelves with open backs that the color showed through.

          1. JamieS*

            I’m the same way. I know a couple things I like and don’t like. I lean towards darker colors but I wouldn’t want the room dark and uninviting, I like a more open space so wouldn’t like a room cramped with stuff, I hate floral, and I dislike wooden furniture. I’m ok with something like wooden coffee table legs but they can’t be wood color.

            Beyond those few things I literally wouldn’t be able to decide anything. If I ever need an interior designer I plan to tell him my budget, the preferences I listed above, and let him have 100% control beyond that.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I used Havenly, and while it was super fun it didn’t end up working for us at all.

      I have NO sense of design, so we did get good ideas, but the room layout just didn’t work. We had them do our living room, which is long and has four entrances (including one set of french doors) and a central arch. It’s complex, and that’s why we needed help. But even though I was incredibly thorough in describing the room and the potential pitfalls the design they gave us totally ignored traffic flow (and door swing clearances and etc.)

    4. Emmie*

      I used Havenly for my living room and then my dining room. I had a wonderful experience with my living room. I did the full mock up and it’s all put together now. I’m happy to send pics privately if you like. I didn’t like my dining room. Different designer, lower budget so I did my own thing building off my previous living room design. It was fun!

        1. Emmie*

          I sent them, Alison. If you have any questions or issues opening the attachments, please let me know!

  30. Kat*

    How do you make friends in your 30s? I would appreciate some useful suggestions. I am an introvert but I’m a social one, and I don’t have many close friends nearby. I don’t need a massive circle, but one or two more to do things with occasionally would be really nice. I don’t have many from university, for various reasons, and my workplace is small (I have all the friends I’m getting from there, and to be honest I want other friends away from my office). It seems hard unless you’re into loads of hobbies. I guess I should join groups, but the introversion thing makes that hard to face. I need to make some moves somehow though as I am often lonely, and I’m single too (not that I mind being single, but it’s one less connection).

    Other than this, I’m having a relaxing weekend and have managed to start the process of having a difficult conversation with someone, which will be a bit sucky but it’s necessary.

    1. Don't turn this name into a hyperlink*

      I’m gonna be in the same place as you soon. I’m pushing 30 and don’t have that many friends IRL after finishing school. I don’t really know how to help, other than suggest conventions and the like if you’re remotely nerdy (speaking as someone who is, software-related events have widened my circle a ton, but that’s because we’re a peculiar breed). But I will wish you the very best.

      1. Anxa*

        The hard part for me is that I don’t feel lonely. I have a long-term, live in SO. I have friends I talk to.

        But if I were to break down on the drive home tomorrow, I would have literally no one to call. I would have my boyfriend’s car and know noone else locally.

    2. Lady Jay*

      I can’t say that I’ve found people I go to dinner/fun activities with, the way I did in college, but I do some volunteering at the local library & I go to yoga once a week or so, and this at least approximates friendships! I see the same people regularly, I like them & keep up with their lives, and sometimes we have deep/engaging conversations (e.g. nature of art, ethics of writing papers for hire, etc.) It’s filled a social gap in my life, and I appreciate this.

      Plus, as an introvert, I love that yoga & volunteering are limited to *set times*. I know that at a certain point, I get to leave and do my own thing again. :)

      1. hermit crab*

        I do some volunteering at the local library & I go to yoga once a week or so, and this at least approximates friendships! I see the same people regularly, I like them & keep up with their lives, and sometimes we have deep/engaging conversations.

        This is my approach too! I volunteer at a couple of places and I do water aerobics at the local pool. I don’t hang out with any of the people outside of those activities (though sometimes I will run into someone around town and we have a chat, which makes me feel all excited to be part of a community) — but they’re a major source of social interaction for me, and I’ve known some of them for years now. The water aerobics folks are a relationship I particularly value, since I’m the youngest person in that group by like 30 years and I find it really fun to get out of my little “young professional” bubble.

        1. Kat*

          Yes I go to yoga every week and I have become friends with a lady there who’s about 20 years older than me, which is really nice. She has a family, though, and I actually would like to find more friends my own age, even though I genuinely don’t mind how old people are. I guess I mean ‘life stage’ rather than age here. I would like to volunteer but not sure where.

    3. Shayland*

      I’m currently trying to use OKcupid. I’ve found a lot of people I think are really interesting, however I’m feeling really awkward with the whole “let’s meet in person!” part.

      I’d also like to recommend finding events happening in your city that you are interested in. Swing dancing, slam poetry, BDSM party, panel discussions, museum and art gallery openings, and make a point of being friendly and social there.

      I’m not a big fan of the relationship part of things, but I love being open to new and exciting social experiences.

      1. Kat*

        I met a couple of friends through OKC years ago, but I find these days it’s much less geared towards friendship than it was 10 years ago.

        I like the idea of social experiences, but it can be daunting to think about going alone, which I guess is why I hardly ever do. Perhaps I need to have a beer before I go!

    4. Loopy*

      Oh I’m in this boat. I started volunteering doing something I like anyway and it’s been about a year and I think I’m getting to the friends point with one of the girls. Yes this is slow but I’m only there 4 hours a week. I think maybe it just takes longer when you get older and people have more commitments and their time is less free.

    5. Temperance*

      I’ve met some super cool women at craft beer meetups. It’s initially scary, and I’m kind of an introvert, but I needed a change. The shared hobby made it easier.

      1. Kat*

        Oh there’s one of those, but it seems to be all men (or mostly men) from what I can tell. Which is why I haven’t gone. Hmm

        1. Temperance*

          The ones that I’ve attended are specifically FOR women, which makes them way better.

          1. Kat*

            I don’t think there’s one where I am, maybe it’s too small a place. I could start one but I’m not really a leader/organiser. But I just joined another group that sounds nice, so I might see what events they have on.

    6. K.*

      It’s so funny, because almost everyone I know has asked that question, myself included – you’d think it would be easier! I do think it’s hard if you’re single and childless – a lot of my friends with kids befriend their kids’ friends’ parents.

      I made a couple of new “happy hour” friends this year through a toxic workplace – I wouldn’t recommend going that route!

      1. Kat*

        Yeah, I don’t know why it is so hard, surely not everyone is done with making friends by the time they’re 30! Things change. I’ve done a few activities but they tended not to yield any friends or at least not people my own age.

    7. 30ish*

      Maybe there are some friends of friends you could get to know better? That’s how I met most of my friends, through other friends. A good way is to go to any and all parties/gatherings at friends’ houses that you’re invited to and strike up conversations with everyone you find interesting, rather than talking only to your friends. You could also ask your existing friends directly if they know someone else who might be a good friend match for you.

      1. 30ish*

        Oh, also, keep your expectations low and don’t talk to people with the intent of becoming friends. Think of it as just getting to know more people. Sometimes something more develops, and sometimes it just doesn’t. You might need a lot of patience.
        Another thing I do is I often spontaneously invite people I’m not yet close to to join me at an event. People are usually happy and grateful to be invited and it’s very low-key “I’m going there anyway, meet me at X if you want to join me”. Basically I try to clearly express interest in anyone that seems nice and give them a first point of contact so to speak. The people who then follow up are the ones you want to get to know better!

      2. Kat*

        I agree that this is a good route and I would like that! I don’t get invited to many things like that, though (mainly because of the lack of friends). I did once ask a friend if he would consider asking me to come next time he and a group went for a drink, but he didn’t want to. Fair enough, I did try! My other friend has a few times asked me to go walking with her and her other friends. I guess I have always resisted because they all know each other and I only know my friend, no one else. That can be scary, for me! But I might bite the bullet and try to go next time she asks. That’s my problem sometimes… the terror of meeting groups of people!

    8. Cat*

      I’m a social introvert too, so while I love spending time alone, I’m also happiest when I have a few close friends in the area.

      The Meetup app was great for me when I moved to a new city, and it’s free. They do have specific hobby groups, but my favorite was a group for women in my city in my age group. They had all kinds of activities like seeing a movie or going to brunch, but for new members they had regular coffee shop meetings. Everyone was very kind and welcoming.

      Good luck!

  31. CoffeeLover*

    What do you do for fun with your SO in the evenings and on weekends? I find we’ve been spending so much time just watching Netflix. We live in a very high cost city and it’s really expensive to go out for drinks/eating, so I’m looking for at home ideas. We’re planning to buy some board games so would also love to hear any 2 player game suggestions.

    1. CityMouse*

      I end up doing a lot of walking. Just walking down to a spot, hanging out for a bit, and walking back.

      Boardgames are a great idea (although they can be expensive too). For two player games I love Jaipur and Splendor, for two.

      1. anon24*

        Second on the walking. It’s a great way to spend time and relax/connect after a long day and it ends up being good for you mentally and physically and as a couple. Once in awhile we will treat ourselves and stop for ice cream but mostly we just walk around town and come back.
        Another fun thing to do is to find lists they have online of questions to ask each other on long car trips. We did a couple of those and it was hilarious plus you don’t realize how little you know about the person you married when it comes to shallow things (like what super power would you pick. Mine btw would be to control the weather ). It was fun reconnecting with the little stuff and it doesn’t cost anything!

        1. Cafe au Lait*

          My husband & I like to bike around different neighborhoods and look in backyards. (From the sidewalk or street. We don’t creep on your property). We discuss what makes the landscaping work, and how it was pulled together. It gives me a ton of fodder for planning our dream house.

    2. Mrs. Fenris*

      Jigsaw puzzles! I am not kidding. We set up 1,000-piece puzzles on the dining room table and work on them on and off for weeks. Our favorites are the Charles Wysocki Americana paintings.

      1. D.W.*

        Seconding this! My fiancé and I really enjoy doing puzzles together. We’ve started glueing and framing them for decorations too. Our favorites are landscapes and life images (villages, people at carnivals, portraits, etc.).

    3. Elkay*

      Two player games: Hive, Ticket to Ride, Carcassone, Backgammon, Love Letter (or any variant of it).

      If you’re local to a university or museum you like see if they have an events mailing list. Memberships are good too, we find we’re happy just going for an hour or two if we’ve already got an annual membership to somewhere.

    4. Never Nicky*

      Geocaching … basically walking with the motivation of finding “stuff”. Our area of the UK is also very social so there are free/cheap meet ups including environmental work parties.

      1. Anonymity itself*

        Letterboxing too! It’s like the old fashioned version of geocaching- you get clues online from atlas quest.com and find hidden boxes that contain a log book and a (often hand-carved) rubber stamp. You can bring your own note and and inkpad to get a copy of their stamp, and some kind of stamp of your own to “sign” their logbook. I’ve done it with my family or other friends, at places within driving distance and on vacations- there’s over 800 in my state, and we’ve gotten to see so many cool, out-of-the-way places while finding them.

    5. Stella's Mom*

      If there are museums in your city, perhaps they have free days once per month (a lot of Europe has First Sundays Free at museums) or combined discount memberships?

      Walking: I do a lot of walking and I live in a very expensive place. Take a train or bus or drive out a bit and go for a walk. All it costs is gas. Pack a picnic. Or a bike ride if you have bikes.

      Are there community colleges that host short term classes to learn something new together, that are low cost?

      In terms of stuff to do at home, I’d recommend a pack of cards and card game books from Amazon. How about massage/spa days at home treating each other to a massage, etc?

    6. Natalie*

      My husband and I have this problem, too. Various things we’ve done: walk our dog around (or just walk ourselves), jigsaw puzzles, cook something together.

      One thing we really enjoyed was taking a drawing class together and then doing the required practice together, too. It was a little pricey because we had to buy a bunch of drawing things, but now we have it and can take more drawing classes. You could probably find any number of classes if art doesn’t interest you or if you already draw.

    7. BRR*

      Adventure time has a series of 2 player games. 7 wonders duel. Pandemic, which is 2+ and it’s nice because it’s co-op.

      1. Aealias*

        Love Pandemic!
        Forbidden Desert/Forbidden Island are also cooperative games you can play with only 2 players. Very hard to win, but lots of fun.
        Agricola can be played by 2-players. My husband and six-year-old love to play it together – it’s too complicated for me! (How embarrassing.)
        Probe is seriously old-school, but I’m a word-geek and love this hang-man-ish game. And of course, you could always learn chess!

    8. Candy*

      My husband and I live in a small studio apartment so we don’t spend a lot of time at home but one of our favourite things to do in the evenings is make dinner. That probably doesn’t sound like a fun activity to everyone but we really enjoy it. We put on some music, open a bottle of wine, and spend an hour or so cooking and talking and drinking and then another hour or so eating and talking and drinking. Sometimes this takes up the entire night. I love it.

      I know you just want at home ideas but these are some of the things we do out that aren’t super expensive (keeping in mind we live two blocks from a beach and one block from a main street with shops and restaurants and bars so we’re really close to a lot of happening things):

      We’ll take a bottle of wine, pistachios, and a deck of cards and sit at the beach or in the park and talk and play rummy and people-watch for a few hours < $10

      On donation nights, we'll visit the art gallery with whatever loose change we have in our pockets. < $5

      Some nights we'll go for a jog along the water as the sun is setting. Stop and watch other people's dogs run around the beach. Beautiful and free

      On weekends, we'll take our bikes out for the day, stop for a drink at a cafe somewhere or maybe hit some garage sales before heading back < $10

      Go see a local band < $30-40

      Or hit a no-cover DJ night < $30

      Grab a six pack and meet up with friends to drink beers in the park < $15

      I don't remember what we do in the winter haha… I prefer to stay inside where it's warm and read or sew while my husband, who is incapable of standing still, will go out and meet up with guys at the cafe where, I assume, they drink one espresso after another while talking about soccer for hours

    9. Temperance*

      I have SO MANY suggestions on games. We’re hardcore nerds, though, FWIW. so YMMV.

      1. Fluxx is a favorite. We like Cthulu the most. I have the board game as well as a few decks of the cards.
      2. Pandemic
      3. Love Letters
      4. Smash Up

    10. Fiennes*

      Bananagrams! If you’re word nerds.

      Also – this is still screen time, and it’s SO NERDY – but my partner and I got a couple of courses from the Teaching Company/Great Courses and work through them together. We spent the other night discussing Clovis and Frankish culture from our early Middle Ages class! A lot of times we search out additional books on these topics later. Again, super nerdy – but we’ve learned a lot & never run out of things to talk about.

    11. CorruptedbyCoffee*

      My husband and I enjoy 2 person scattagories, boggle and quirkle. We also play one player adventure games together (video games) where we work as a team to solve the puzzles.

  32. StressedbyBro*

    This has been a longstanding issue in my life, but I’m wondering if anyone else has dealt with a sibling who lies about things, and how to balance being an aunt/uncle with your relationship with that sibling.

    My brother has had a long history of lying about things, and I know he’s told his wife a lot of things about our family and how we treated him that just aren’t true. Like a friend of his asked me about my mom once beating him at our sister’s birthday, and I was there, and it just didn’t happen – she grounded him, my parents never laid a hand on any of us. But of course, when I try to tell him or his friends that it didn’t happen, he’ll say I’m being selective in my memory or I participated (FWIW, my brother is a few years older, but he’ll tell stories about stuff that happened when we were teenagers that’s just absurdly not true).

    He tells everyone these stories about how we abused him, but it just isn’t true, and it makes me very frustrated to hear my parents and sister dragged through the mud like this. But if we try to correct him we’re “making him the scapegoat” or we’re “gaslighting” him. And I’m sure people reading this will go “are you sure he’s not telling the truth”, but he’s just not. But then he guilts us about not seeing his kids, and then when we go to see them we get yelled at (we always seem to end up paying for things at these events too).

    I don’t know if I can do it anymore – I don’t know how to prove the stuff didn’t happen other than my sister and I and parents all agree it didn’t and there are some cases where my childhood friends or relatives were there and back us up. My aunt once publicly called him out on a lie, and of course the next lie was about something horrible my aunt had done. My parents want to see their grandkids so they put up with it, but I’ve lost patience. I love my nephews but I can’t keep my mouth shut anymore, especially now my Dad has cancer and hearing made up stories about him doing stuff makes me especially rageful because I know it hurts my dad. I’ve sort of been greyrocking my brother, but I feel bad for not being an involved aunt.

    Maybe I just need to vent – does anyone have any suggestions?

    1. neverjaunty*

      Stop trying to correct him. When you do that, you’re saying “My memory is objective truth and yours is a lie” – and he’s not going to say, my goodness, you’re right, I clearly remembered that wrong. (Especially if he has convinced himself those memories are true, or if there is truth mixed in.)

      And keep in mind that this dynamic is very common when people are abuse survivors – family members gaslight them and insist it never happened, their memories are lies, Mom never hit me so it’s impossible that she hit you, etc. So it’s not surprising that other people are listening to your brother.

      If you aren’t willing to distance yourself, then focus on what your memories are rather than on what you think your brother “should” remember. “My recollection of that party is very different than yours.” “I don’t know why you remember X happened, but my memory is Y.” It’s a very different situation to argue about what your memories are vs. what “really” happened.

      1. StressedbyBro*

        To be clear, I normally don’t bother telling him he’s wrong. It’s only when he gets really belligerent or says something particularly horrible that I end up snapping. He does have a pattern of wheedling and saying nasty things until my sister or I snap at him – he’s being doing it since we were kids.

        Part of me thinks he believes the lies at this point. Memory isn’t a tape, I know that, and I think he’s convinced himself of some things. But it doesn’t change the truth or the fact that my parents and my sister do not deserve his level of abuse.

        I am worried about the pattern continuing. I’ve seen him gaslight his oldest son telling him he’s being punished for things he didn’t do.

        1. Myrin*

          Okay, now, as macabre as that sounds, it might end up “positive” for your relationship with your nephews if he’s indeed treating them the same way. If they see that he’s making up stuff and telling them things they know aren’t true, they may, once old enough (or even not! Children work in surprising ways sometimes!), extrapolate that that’s exactly what’s been happening between him und the rest of his family, too.

          I distinctly remember there was a discussion here once about people who’s abusive parents told them growing up that their aunts/uncles/extended family were horrible but who later, once escaped from the abusers’ clutches, went on to have excellent relationships with the formaly estranged part of their family. It’s obviously horrible he’s doing this to you nephew but it might make him (nephew, not your brother) want to be closer to you/someone who isn’t his father.

          I’m really sorry this is happening. It stinks. :(

        2. neverjaunty*

          Knowing the pattern is there is the best way to step out of it. You know he’s going to wheedle and lie until you snap; change the script. Walk away. Don’t argue with him. Reply with non-answers like “Hm, interesting” or “I see.” He may well have convinced himself that he’s right, and of course you don’t deserve his abuse – but you can’t expect that anything you say is going to change him. All you can change is how you deal with him.

      2. Florida*

        “My memory is objective truth and yours is a lie.” This is a great description. Thank you.

    2. Anon for this*

      I don’t have any advice, but I definitely have sympathy. My uncle was like this. It was part of a pattern of manipulative, abusive behavior. He’s never shown any ability or desire to stop himself. He’s been disowned. I’m sad that this is probably painful for him, but at the same time, I can’t say I miss him.

      You sound like you want to be a good sister and a good aunt, and I get that your family wants to keep their relationships with him. Maybe they think he just needs more patience or another chance or more love… Well, maybe he does? But that doesn’t mean you have to put up with his behavior.

      Maybe he’s using this behavior to fulfill a need or handle an issue. You don’t have to be the one to fulfill that need. Maybe he means another chance at a good relationship. He can get that from someone else. Maybe he needs validation or support. Again, someone else can do it! It doesn’t have to be you. It doesn’t have to be your other family members, either, but I’m not really addressing them here because you can only really work on your own choices, not theirs. There are even people whose entire jobs consist of providing appropriate support!

      It’s not your responsibility to continue dealing with his crap so that he can get his needs met. Someone could actually argue that trying to get along with him is like enabling him, allowing whatever issue is causing his behavior to worsen, when having boundaries might lead him to think about what he’s doing.

      Take care of yourself and do what’s right for you. Whatever that is, it’s going to be a huge relief.

      1. StressedbyBro*

        I do think the lies started as excuses. My brother got into dealing drugs in high school and lashed out when my parents and grandmother tried to help him. He eventually cleaned up, but by then he’d thrown away his chance at college, and he’s been stuck in dead end jobs.

        On the other hand, my sister and I both kept on the straight and narrow and excelled at school. I’ve noticed my brother will try to claim some of our accomplishments, like he claims he was a National Merit Scholar or got a perfect verbal SAT (both were my sister). I think he can’t face up to the fact that he messed up.

        1. Anon for this*

          That makes a lot of sense. Telling lies to “explain” things about himself that he feels self-conscious about could explain why he behaves like this with people outside of the family, too.

    3. Shayland*

      Man, that’s rough, I’m sorry you’re going through that. I think you don’t have to worry about being a good aunt, because part of being a good aunt in the eyes of the children is their parents speaking well of you and making that relationship possible in the first place.

    4. Lizabeth*

      How old are the kids? Depending on the age can you arrange an afternoon out with just them? And what does bro’s wife have to say about all this?

      1. Em Too*

        Even with tiny ones, depending how close you live, you could just take them out to play for an hour or something. Generally parents love a little time to themselves too.

      2. StressedbyBro*

        They are 5 and 2. They live on the other side of the country, so it isn’t possible.

        1. Lizabeth*

          You can be a “good aunt” by sending the 5 year old the occasional card (monthly) to let them know that you’re thinking of them. And include the younger one with a PS for the older to tell them until they’re old enough to get their own mail.

    5. Temperance*

      I don’t doubt that you are telling the truth, but I want to provide the other perspective. My mother has serious mental health issues, and my middle sister and I were absolutely the scapegoats. She never abused my brother in the same way, and she only recently started taking things out on our youngest sister because we’re not in her life to scapegoat. My brother doesn’t doubt us because he’s seen her Hulk out, but he hasn’t been the target.

      1. StressedbyBro*

        No I get that people often react with “well maybe you missed something” and so on, but there are things like objective events (like, say my sister’s high school graduation) where he’ll claim things happened that just didn’t. I promise I’ve gone over events multiple times and the things he claims just didn’t happen. He’s claimed I did things too (I’m younger and smaller) like he claims I once slashed him with a knife when I was 16 – but I didn’t. It makes me really stressed out because people ALWAYS seem to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe these horrible horrible things that just. didn’t. happen.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      This sounds like stuff that goes on in my family, too.

      You can’t help people who won’t let you help them. This is a fact regardless of whether the person is telling lies/telling the truth/telling a mix of lies and truth. It’s a core fact that we can’t help people who don’t want help, regardless of the surrounding circumstances.

      I am a bit burned out so you have to let that weigh in with what I am saying. My vote is to go with the people who are accepting help. With what you say here, this would be your parents.

      From what you have said here, your bro is in a bad spot and it will take more than one person to pull him out of that spot and that is IF he allows them to help. This means that you are probably not going to fix this. You are better off just putting your energy into helping people who are receptive.

      I spent almost twenty years trying to help my mother. What they say about helping people who don’t want help is true: If you try to help these folks then you, yourself, will probably become injured in some manner. And it’s happening to you already, you are filling up with anger, sadness, frustration and other emotions that come with being hurt. I got plenty injured, while not physically injured there were many other ways that I was hurt by my insistence on helping her. The same advice holds for trying to settle the story. This, too, will only cause you more and more hurt.
      I think it’s best just to focus on where you can be of help.
      I’m sorry this is happening in your family.

      One thought that I came up with that helps me sometimes is, MAYBE someone did hurt my family member in the manner the family member is saying. But it is not the person that family member says it was. While not a magic bullet, it does allow me some rest from hashing the stories over and over again.

      As far as the kids are concerned, all you can do is keep an eye on them. When I got older I hunted down my relatives and maybe they will, too.

  33. Audiophile*

    It’s moving day! Glad the Fourth of July is in Tuesday, since that gives me more time move stuff.

    I’ve done most of my packing today and it’s largely odds and ends. Mostly books, movies, journals. I’m leaving sensitive documents with my mom, since I don’t need those every day. I’ve gotten rid of a lot clothes, jeans that no longer fit, shirts I won’t wear again, etc. Also a lot of DVDs that I won’t watch.

    It’s exciting but exhausting too.

  34. Shayland*

    Can I just take a moment to inform everyone that a squeegee is the best thing in the world to clean pet hair off surfaces? I use it on the rug in my living room and just used it after scrubbing my kitchen title with a sponge and it’s like magic!

    Pushing around all that water did show me that I didn’t do a good enough job cleaning the floor first time around, though. Gross.

    1. JulieBulie*

      Yes! I got a special gadget from a pet supplies catalog many years ago, and when it showed up, I couldn’t believe it was just a squeegee. But it was fantastic! I had been using special vacuum cleaner attachments and all sorts of other things, but the squeegee was easily the best.

  35. Jessesgirl72*

    Two weeks from now, at this time I’ll be in Kiev! We had a last minute paperwork panic this week, but otherwise, everything is fine- 36 week check up yesterday, and everything looks perfect, and doctor thinks the baby will arrive sometime in the 38th week- AKA, shortly after we get there. We need to get sheets for the hospital crib when we arrive (the US won’t let Amazon UK send me European sized cot sheets, because safety!) so I said I needed him to wait a day after we arrive, but now I need him to wait two!

    The paperwork problem was, in the end, simple to fix, but OMG! They were getting all the paperwork for the birth certificate ready. I’ve been married for 15 years, and my luck ran out, and I finally had a problem caused by taking my husband’s last name! We got married in Ohio, and although I filled out the line to register my name change on the forms we and the witnesses signed, that isn’t what you’re given as the marriage certificate- that is just submitted to the country registrar’s office, who takes your license and fills in the bottom parts about it having been completed, by whom, puts on the seal, and that’s your marriage certificate. Nowhere on it does it list my married name. But in the Ukraine, in order to be eligible for surrogacy, you have to be married, and the Registry Office there insists that Jesses Marie Girl and Jesses Girl MarriedLastname are two separate people, since of course my passport is in my married name! And they want proof that I am the same person “from some government agency.” The coordinator said the woman at the Registry Office specifically said she wouldn’t take an affidavit from me about it. Our coordinator also said it has come up once before with surrogacy, and a couple times in their adoption agency and the US Embassy was able to give the women something to satisfy the UKR officials. So we emailed the Embassy, because they don’t pick up their phones there (ever!) and they said they just notarize an affidavit. So we asked our coordinator, and she said yes, that’s what it was, and showed a copy of the affidavit their last person with this problem had used (on the form the Embassy sent us). I’m like, but you said…

    My husband says she meant they wouldn’t take one just from me, but if I lie to the State Department , once they sign and seal it it, that’s the State Department’s problem, and not the problem of the bureaucrat making out the birth certificates! LOL In my sworn affidavit, I specifically have to explain what happened to “Marie” too- our coordinator said she was weirdly fixated on that. Apparently most states put the married name on the marriage certificate, so it only happens rarely. I’m going to kindly suggest that she start checking for that, since they collect our paperwork before we signed the contract- and that was September! We had the idea of the local SSA office since I actually have both my old and new cards, but we leave two weeks from yesterday, and there was no time to get them to verify my identity and get that notarized and sent off for an apostille (International Notary.) If they had discovered this in September, that would have been different! The Embassy is only charging us $50 for the notary service, and the apostille in Wisconsin is $80, so I guess they saved us money! I made an appointment at the Embassy first thing on Monday morning after we arrive.

    The baby’s suitcase is packed and ready to go. I just need to gather up stuff for the adults!

    1. Pajama*

      Wait … so why are you flying to Ukraine to have a baby? Is that where your husband lives)

      1. Riga*

        The baby is being born by a surrogate in Ukraine. Hence the mention of surrogacy in the comment ;)

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        And the reason to do surrogacy in the Ukraine, if you can (married heterosexual couples only with a documented medical reason the woman can’t carry her own child, or 5 failed IVF attempts) is because it’s one of the few places still open to foreign surrogacy and it costs 1/4 of what it does in the US . While still being a first world country, without abusing/coercing the women who are surrogates.

        Based on what the articles I’ve seen talking about Kim Kardashian’s potential surrogate and the price breakdown, that’s mostly because the legal fees are so much less there- our surrogate isn’t getting paid that much less than Kim K’s, even before you take into account the lower cost of living. (only 25% less- when the total cost is 75% less!)