weekend free-for-all – August 26-27, 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: I’ve got nothing. Moving is hard work. My only recommendation is that you never move. Previous years’ book recommendations can be found here and here.

{ 1,078 comments… read them below }

  1. Onion Hat*

    I need vacation ideas! Any suggestions on a great place to visit with a 5 year old over the winter?

    1. Dr. KMnO4*

      Disney World, or a Disney cruise are great vacations with kids. Especially since a 5 year old will remember the trip to some extent. The Disney cruise is really nice because there are activities for kids of all ages, all day long.

      1. LAI*

        Oh I just did a royal Caribbean cruise this spring. Can’t tell you about taking kids but I really liked it, and there were a lot of kids. It’s a really good value if you do your research, and it’s just nice and hassle free to have everything included for you.

        1. Onion Hat*

          We’ve been dying to go on Allure/Oasis of the Seas. Cruises are also quite pricy. Though, I think it’s a great suggestion. I really just want to land somewhere and relax.

          1. LAI*

            Oh yeah, we did allure of the seas! It was great! We paid like $650 for 7 nights which I thought was a pretty good deal since food is all included. Day excursions add a bit, and then our next biggest expense was alcohol. The ship is really nice though! So much to do. And it didn’t really feel crowded which I was worried about.

            1. Onion Hat*

              Oh, maybe I will do this! I’ve wanted to go on a cruise so bad. I don’t see it for quite that cheap. It looks like $750 pp for an inside cabin. We don’t drink much so alcohol is a minimal expense for us.

              1. Darkest Before Dawn*


                ^ Is a good cruise clearing house. There are others offering significant discounts off rack rates also.

                If you sign up your sign in is just your email, they don’t require a password to browse.

              2. LAI*

                Cool! Yeah I think we got a little discount cause we booked through our friends work. But 750 is still not bad. It’s hotel like accommodations, and then most everything on the ship is free if you don’t go shopping or drink a lot. And you can keep the cost of day excursions down by booking through local groups. Its more convenient to go through royal Caribbean of course. But just do some internet research to figure out what’s worth doing in each port.

      2. Onion Hat*

        We went to Disney this past October. I would LOVE to do it again but Disney is very expensive.

        1. Darkest Before Dawn*

          Knotts berry farm is much more budget friendly if you are in the area again.

          My husband and I liked their pre paid parking scheme, meal plan ticket and the fact that Camp Snoopy is consolidated in one area for kids.

          … and I liked getting my photo taken with Snoopy!

    2. CEMgr*

      The California deserts (Palm Springs, Joshua Tree etc.) are nice and warm for swimming and outdoor activities. San Diego area has many attractions. Florida. Somewhere warm….unless your 5 year old likes to ski.

    3. Jaydee*

      If you live pretty far north, pick a spring break destination with a beach and rent a beach house for the week. It’s the off season, so the rentals will be cheaper because it’s “cold.” The locals will be bundled in parkas because it got down to 55 overnight and the high is “only” in the 70s. In the meantime, you’re sitting on the deck of the beach house reading a nice book and half-watching as your kid spends hours digging on the beach in shorts and a t-shirt.

      1. Artemesia*

        We spent a week in March this year in a beach house just north of Ventura. There were wet suits for all sizes (including kids) and surf boards and such. A little cold — but a place like that would be great in say April.

    4. Special Snowflake*

      Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard – it’ll be odd season but the islands are still gorgeous and you can rent a house and just chill
      There’s locals year round so there will be kid friendly activities too

    5. Xennial*

      We go to Hawaii and have been for every year of our little ones life so far. I like it because you can do lots of beach time that does not cost much. There are lots of Costco’s which make for cheap meals. Lots of farmers markets and local food to enjoy. It is warm and the most important part is that you can get shrimp everywhere. Well it is important for us since our little one lives on shrimp.

    6. Northstar*

      The National Parks in Southern Utah near Moab. My favorites are Arches and Canyonlands. Zion and Bryce are just a couple hours away (can’t remember exactly). They are beautiful even if you never leave your car, but there are great arches that are visible after a very short walk on even ground. And winter is great because any other season is really hot there!
      Also, I live in Sonoma County, and the coast and redwoods are AMAZING here, an hour north of San Francisco. And there is a museum in SF called the Exploratorium that any 5-yr-old would absolutely love. But the Bay Area is pricey, so there’s that…

    7. Local Government Lady*

      Just did Legoland (Florida) with my 7 & 8 year olds and it was AWESOME. Definitely just right for the 5 year old brain.

  2. Beach Bound*

    The family and I are looking to relocate to the Hampton Roads area, but have never done a big move before. I read that the COL is slightly below average in some areas and WAY above in others (such as Virginia Beach), but I’ve lived my whole life in an extremely poor area and don’t really even have a concept of an “average” COL. Anyone have any advice on what kind of incomes my husband and I would need to be bringing in to make it in that area? We have two kids, and also will likely have my brother-in-law with us, who will pay his share of the expenses (like a third of bills).

    1. Mallows*

      when I left in 2015, all of Hampton Roads had a higher COL than the national average. The further away from VB you got, the cheaper it was. From what I saw on the peninsula (Newport News and Hampton), there were plenty of neighborhoods with reasonable houses and families making it in various white collar capacities. A close friend of mine lived in Newport News for years just fine – she was a nurse and a single mom. Downsides of the peninsula are crime and having to deal with consistently awful traffic to get to Norfolk/VB. I paid $1400 in rent for a 2300 sf house in Hampton- granted that was probably lucky :-)

      1. Beach Bound*

        It seems from Zillow that I could get what I need in pretty much any city except Chesapeake and VB, which I expected. I was expecting a number right around there. This is really helpful – thank you!

    2. poppunkcat*

      I live in Hampton Roads! Grew up in Virginia Beach, currently live in Norfolk. Because you have children, look at area schools. The average income for HR is $62000. I find housing to be kind of expensive but definitely, depends on where you are looking. Because of the Navy being here, we are a very diverse area, something that I love. Feel free to ask more specific questions if you’d like.

      1. Beach Bound*

        We visited and the whole atmosphere seemed a lot different than what we are used to, in a good way. Plus, my son’s eczema cleared up within a day of getting there. We are in kind of a stagnant job market where we are currently, so I don’t think that average salary would be a reach once DH graduates. Thank you!! If I have more questions I’ll come back :)

    3. Anonish*

      Family members just left Hampton Roads area after 20 years. Had a nice 3 bedroom home in a planned development with lots of green space, ponds, trees for a price that was fine with two jobs while maintaining savings, etc. I loved the area – lots to do within 45-120 min drive! Traffic is awful, but not as bad as DC, Chicago, etc. I would say start with living reasonably close to work and then look at school districts to narrow down where you want to start looking.

    4. amanda_cake*

      I grew up in the area, but way out in the country. Good places to live outside those cities if you want a quieter way of life for cheaper and don’t mind the commute.

    5. misspiggy*

      Definitely! Spring and Autumn equinox things – visiting bluebell woods and picking blackberries in the park.

    6. Uyulala*

      CNN has a nice calculator. If you do a search for: COST OF LIVING CNN then it should be the top result or near the top.

      It tells you what income you would need to make in the new city to maintain your current standard of living.

      1. Beach Bound*

        That was fantastic – thanks! I actually couldn’t find my exact area, but I picked the one in my state that I think is probably most comparable, and it wasn’t as dramatic a difference as I feared!

  3. Gala apple*

    I realized I hadn’t been to a beach all summer, so I took myself to one today! It’s not an ocean beach like I grew up with, but at a lake at a state park about an hour from where I live now.

    Do you have any seasonal activities you do, that without them, it feels like you just didn’t experience the “real” season?

    1. KR*

      I agree with you on the beach. I’m used to being within a short drive of the beach and now I’m like over 3 hrs away.

      1. anon24*

        I’m 3 1/2 hours from the beach and am still there ALL the time in the summer. My husband is obsessed with the beach and doesn’t mind driving there and back in one day so we go almost every weekend.

      2. Loopy*

        Summer BBQ-ing and fall apple picking! Since moving down south I do neither and four years in I still miss both!!

        1. Gala apple*

          Oh man I know what you mean! My friend is moving from TX back to the northeast because she misses fall.

          1. Loopy*

            I totally understand that. I didn’t expect to miss it nearly as much as I do. I didn’t think I loved it that much until I didn’t have one!!!

          2. overeducated*

            That’s why I’m suspicious of southern California and don’t particularly want to apply for jobs there. “It’s nice…all year? That just doesn’t sound right.”

            1. traveller*

              I just moved to San Diego 6 months ago from the Pacific NorthWest. It amuses me to no end that the key weather pattern discussed in the forecast is…..clouds. Which are generally gone by 10am.

              I really noticed the difference in the length of summer nights though :(

              1. INTP*

                When I moved from San Diego to Wisconsin, the first week I was there it was randomly 45 degrees for a few days, which is VERY warm for Wisconsin in January and people are basically ecstatic.

                Except…it was cloudy, which to me was considered “bad weather.” So when I went to the grocery store and the cashier said “Nice weather today, hey?” I was completely confused whether he was being sarcastic or not. I could not figure it out. I knew 45 and cloudy couldn’t be particularly bad weather for January, but he couldn’t possibly be calling the weather nice when it was so cloudy, could he? Of course I eventually learned that you don’t see the sun for like 4 months in the winter except for random days when it’s like -20°F wind chill and the air is too cold to hold any moisture at all.

    2. Overeducated*

      Mine revolve around food. Meals based on fresh tomatoes and corn in the summer: check. Apple picking and apple cake in the fall: missed the last two years, need to get back to it! Winter I have to bake gingerbread at least once. Not much produce in spring here until it feels more like summer, so that that is the one season without a food association.

      1. Bluebell*

        Your summer foods match up with mine, but I add watermelon to the mix too. and gin and tonics. :)

    3. Jaydee*

      In the summer, a week-long camping trip (otherwise it’s summer break for my husband and son but still regular old work for me, so even though it’s warm out, it doesn’t fully register as summer). In the fall, trips to the apple orchard, especially if they have apple cider donuts. In both fall and winter, baking all the things (apple and pumpkin pies, Christmas cookies, fruitcake, gingerbread…). The first really good thaw in the spring, I get a new pair of running shoes and take them out on my favorite trail, which is always still muddy and covered in ice, and by the end of that run they don’t look new anymore.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      The high point of summer for us was always the Concourse Weekend at Elkhart Lake, WI, usually mid July. So much fun – hot sultry nights and all the fast, fancy cars lined up on a few street “downtown” around the old vacation resorts overlooking the lake where people were boating as twilight fell. Lots of big money up from Chicago, lots of cigars, backslapping, booze, grilling etc. Anyone could come look, the owners loved to talk about their cars, and at the end of the night they would start them all out and parade out of town, the sound was deafening! If we were really lucky my uncle would get out his 87 Jaguar V12 and let us ride out with him, but its been a while since the car was street legal without a number of modifications, so it was the far less exciting mom’s Hyundai ride instead.

      We would meet up and wander around as extended family and then go out to dinner after, either in the village at one of the resorts looking out at the lake or at another nearby restaurant. Pretty much the most perfect American summer evening I can ever think of having. I miss it dearly. Summer just doesn’t feel the same.

      For fall I NEED to do pumpkin based food, although getting the puree can be a pain/expensive here in the UK. And apple cake – at least there is a history of that with Other Half and he gets the whole Apple in Fall thing as his parent’s neighbors have some glorious apple trees that are delicious. Im so excited for fall I already fired up a chili last week as it was getting kind of cold!

    5. Mrs. Fenris*

      I never feel like I properly “did” fall if I don’t make it to the north GA mountains at least once. The leaves. The waterfalls. The leaves. The local apples. OMG the leaves.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I actually have a list of things I try to do each season to make sure I experience it fully!

      Summer: Swim in a lake, eat or drink at a patio restaurant, go to the State Fair, see fireworks
      Fall: Cheer on the runners in the local marathon, take a walk through the crunching leaves
      Winter: Sit in a coffee shop and read or write on a snowy day, bake Christmas cookies
      Spring: … is a joke where I live, so I got nothing. Without joking, we have a week or two of moderate weather between snow and muggy heat

    7. Heartlover1717*

      My seasonal pursuits involve using my camera. Spring flower shows, summer kite festivals & hot air balloon festivals, public art displays, fall events vary, in winter holiday light displays, etc.

    8. Beach Bound*

      It’s not fall without fall-themed drinks and a long walk once the leaves had changed.
      We’ve had warmer winters as of late and it doesn’t feel like winter without the snow.

  4. Cookie D'oh*

    Yeah, moving is not fun. A few years ago we decided to do a new build. We sold our old house, put a bunch of stuff in storage and lived in an apartment for six months. Then we moved (in February Ohio weather) the new house. I said we’re never moving again unless we win the lottery. Then I’m getting a place on an island and buying everything new.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We’ve had work people here (plumbers, electricians, handymen, cleaners, etc. etc. etc.) almost every weekday since moving in two and a half weeks ago. Some of that (maybe most of it) is because I want everything fixed RIGHT NOW and don’t feel like putting it off, but my god it’s a lot of work. And nothing is simple. Example: The dryer in the new house was taking many cycles to dry clothes. I had a dryer repair man out, who told me I should have the dryer vent cleaned, so I had vent cleaning people come out. They they wouldn’t do it until we trimmed a tree that’s in the way of the (very high) vent on the outside. So then we had tree people out. Then the vent people were concerned their ladder wasn’t high enough. I eventually found a vent cleaning company that did it without hassle, but it seems like nothing is easy/straightforward and it’s exhausting. Similarly, I thought changing the brass/gold fixtures in the master bathroom to Not Gold would be straightforward. It took three trips from plumbers and hours on the phone with Kohler, because there isn’t an access panel to some of the plumbing and the existing fixtures are so old. At one point I was seriously considering taking the old fixtures to a place that replates metals. (It’s done now though!)

      Now there’s an invasive vine all over our trees (kudzu) that needs to be removed. There are a lot of trees. I don’t even know how far back our trees go because the property line isn’t clear. One tree service that I’d tried to get an estimate from for removal left me a note at the front door saying “the job is too big for us to do.”

      My husband has just bought all sorts of equipment from Amazon and is going to try to go out there and do it himself, which is extremely impressive and honestly if he pulls this off, it will be the greatest thing anyone has ever done for me in the history of my life.

        1. dear liza dear liza*

          No worries! So many of us have been there. Dear henry remodeled our master bath years ago and it was a similar “simple update->oh wait, what’s this -> oh yikes, we need to buy x -> hey, that means we now have to…” for months. It’s No Fun. Hopefully by doing all this at once, it will be a huge pain now but will be followed by years of ease!

          1. nonegiven*

            It’s like one pipe stops up and somehow everything he does to it messes up something else. 3 days and 4 trips to the hardware store later you get running water again.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          Nope, not whiny! It’s tough when you move into what you feel is your forever home (I’m assuming, but obviously don’t know) and you want it to feel like home and have everything working and in its place.

        3. Darkest Before Dawn*

          One tree service that I’d tried to get an estimate from for removal left me a note at the front door saying “the job is too big for us to do.”

          …And they couldn’t even make a referal? If I had come and found that I was unable to do the job, I would have given you a courtesy call regardless. Honestly, if they had had to resort to a note, they could have at least tried to find and leave the number of someone else who could help you

          At that point another company wouldn’t even be competition since they had passed up the work.

        4. Basia, also a Fed*

          Its worth paying a professional surveyor come out and stake the boundaries of your property with permanent pins. You will be happy you did it in the future when you have a dispute with your neighbor over whose tree fell and caused all that damage.

        5. Jaydee*

          Not whiny at all! New houses are full of weirdness that you discover when you move in and try to make it your own. “Oh, the hot water in the kitchen is only a trickle. Huh. Let’s get under the sink and – WTH! Where do these pipes…? What is this connected to?” and a year-and-a-half later we still have a trickle of hot water in the kitchen sink.

          1. many bells down*

            We moved in February and couldn’t get the upstairs shower working right until June. They actually fixed it in May, but somehow damaged a pipe so running the upstairs shower caused the ceiling in the downstairs bathroom to leak.

            And now we have an issue where the outlets in just one of the 4 bedrooms stop working randomly. It’s not a circuit breaker; we’ve tried them all. And we’ve had the guy out twice now to look at it, and each time the power starts working again that morning.

        6. Not So NewReader*

          This is why I will never have a house built. It is this on steroids. My family built one when I was 16. The building crew used the roofing shingles to put out a fire in an adjacent field. The crew boss was allergic to cedar and the bulk of the house was cedar. The foundation got torn out and new put in after a few years when it bowed because of underground water flows. I could go on. Doing my version of what you are saying here is quite enough for me. You totally have my sympathy.

          This will settle and then you will have something that suits you both. It’s an investment of time. We just never realize how much time. But you will be very pleased when all it’s done.

          Hopefully, you can find a general handyman who will be able to help in the future. My friend who helps with my house is a treasure chest of knowledge. He knows who is the best person to call for problems he does not handle. And he knows how to scout around and find good prices on essentials. For example, he found about $2k worth of insulation for around $500. I make a list of repairs and try to have him come at least once or twice a year. I wait until the list looks like it might be a day’s worth of work. Of course, I have to run down the list with him so he brings the appropriate tools. He will also handle small emergencies such as a broken sink drain pipe or wind damage to roofs.

          I like this set up because he knows the idiosyncrasies of my house and property so he is able to craft a plan that helps to prevents further damage later. (We have critters here; a predictable harsh winter wind that blows north to south and a few other elements that require additional thought.)

          I don’t think it will ever be this hard again, for you, Alison.

      1. nep*

        Thanks for the account / update. (Love the last line.) It doesn’t sound whiny to me — really just conveys the enormity of a move. One task turns into three, or 20…and on and on. Once the craziness subsides — may your new home be gratifying and peace-filled for you every day.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        OMG YES. I’m not going to tell you the whole story because 1) it would be at least as long as yours and 2) it would out me to anyone who has met me, because I’ve been telling this story for weeks now, but basically an appliance failure triggered a cascade of repairs and renovations totaling $11K so far, and to finish it will probably be another $5-10K. But we’ll have a rec room when we’re done, so there’s that, but holy f’ing hell, it feels like just trying to arrange the work from all these separate vendors has been more work than my actual job!

      3. Bryce*

        At least it inspired me to remember a good song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyeMFSzPgGc

        You have my sympathies and commiseration. My parents moved to a new place near me about four years ago and we’ve spent the last four years working out all the kinks. The good news is that these days most of the big stuff is done so it’s just weeding, and that gets more managable every year. The previous owner was an old lady who hadn’t been able to manage the place too well, so we had a lot of large fields of weeds and plants that had overgrown and badly nurtured. A bunch of potentilla plants (nice droopy bush with lots of yellow flowers) that had been blingly pruned hedge-like into balls so everything under the outer layer was just brown stems from lack of sun and air, and they’d originally been planted too close together so nothing had any room. Beautiful plant especially among high desert options, ones that size can easily go for 50-100 bucks in nurseries, it was a shame to pull most of them out and aggressively prune the others but a couple of years later they’re looking very happy.

      4. The Other Dawn*

        “…left me a note at the front door saying ‘the job is too big for us to do.'”

        Um…that doesn’t bode well. It’s like they slunk away in the night, too ashamed to admit it face-to-face that they can’t handle it. Also sounds like the price isn’t going to be pretty. *cringe* Good luck!

        I have to have a tree removed and I dread calling someone in for a price. I’ve never had tree work done and all I can think is it’s going to be thousands, though I certainly hope not!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You might be able to get it done cheaper during the winter/early spring when companies are looking for work. Years ago a friend was able to negotiate a $1800 job down to 500-600 dollar range. While I would not expect to be able to do that now, it shows there is wiggle room in pricing.

          Another thing you can do to reduce costs is to see if the company will offer a percentage off (usually 10%) of a neighbor also wants a tree removed. Companies like neighbors getting together because it’s cost effective for their crews and their trucks.

          Last. You can ask them to just clean up the big stuff and you will clean up the small stuff. Be sure to define “small”. I have a chipper with a 3″ capacity so I could clean up anything 3″ or less.

      5. Saguaro*

        Holy cow, that vent story is crazy! My hubs is a handyman (for a living) and all he does for us is blow the vent out with the leaf blower!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Oh. Clever! Now that pushes the lint into the house, right? So you just clean it inside the house?

      6. Typhon Worker Bee*

        We moved on Thursday and I agree – it’s exhausting!

        Strata were a little late giving us approval to replace the carpets upstairs with engineered hardwood flooring, but we thought we still had time to get all the work done before we moved. But when the contractors pulled the baseboards out, they discovered that whoever laid the original carpets had put a nail into a pipe for the sprinkler system. The nail had plugged the hole, but obviously as soon as it was pulled out, water started going everywhere. Luckily there’s no major damage except a small piece of drywall that had to be cut out behind a door, and a few holes in the ceiling of the lower floor that my husband drilled to drain the water. But we lost three days, which meant that the contractors were still working when we showed up with the movers, so we were all tripping over each other for a while (one of the flooring guys yelled at one of the moving guys for scuffing the new floor, but it was easily buffed out), and none of the boxes could be taken upstairs. This also meant that the cleaner our realtor hired for Wednesday could only clean the ground floor. When they finally all left we went back to our old place to pick up the cats, one of which proceeded to claw at and pee on everything she could reach on the drive to our new place (they HATE being in the car and both cried the entire way here). Oh, and the sofas we ordered will be 3-4 weeks late because there was an equipment breakdown in the factory, so we’re sitting on dining room chairs for now which is not super comfy.

        BUT! The flooring looks great, we made amazing progress unpacking boxes yesterday, the place is really well laid out and so we have more storage space than we thought we did (we were worried about this), and the cats are slowly getting back to normal. The rented boxes are being picked up on Wednesday morning and we will definitely be done by then! My husband’s going back to work on Monday, we have a lawyer’s appointment on Tuesday to close the sale of our old place, I go back to work on Thursday, and fingers crossed we’ll be free and clear of the old place by the end of the long weekend. The end of a five month odyssey is in sight!

        1. Typhon Worker Bee*

          Oh, and we had a lovely 10th anniversary dinner last night at the top of Grouse Mountain. We got the last gondola back down with a group of hilarious 60-something Texans who were pretty tipsy and rowdy. There was singing and cheering. We laughed the whole way down!

      7. Katie the Fed*

        Our house is 70 years old and there is SO MUCH that I want to update in it. And stuff keeps breaking. Sigh. I’m trying to get a lot done before the baby comes so we don’t have to worry about it next year, but it’s exhausting.

        If you need any recommendations for service companies, let me know – I have a VERY thorough roster of people at this point, including an excellent tree company.

      8. Elizabeth West*

        Ugh, kudzu! I feel your pain–I have some kind of invasive jasmine and it can’t be stopped. It’s all over my
        property (I did not plant it!) and chokes out my bushes. Nothing will kill it. And there is something on the fence, and I think I might have some kudzu on my damn house. NOTHING WILL KILL IT.

        Not to mention the damn pokeberries, because one person in the back of me let them get out of control and now they’re everywhere.

      9. Jules the First*

        If it makes you feel better: one day, my mother decided it was time to repaint the master bedroom. You can’t do that, says my dad, until we get the closet fixed (it used to form ice on the wall in the winter. Yes, inside). So Dad reinsulated the house (to fix the closet), re-sided the house (because the insulation had to go on the outside), replaced all the windows (because they could put bigger, better insulated ones in while they were re-siding), did new guttering (because it looked shabby with the new siding), and replaced the carpet with hardwood (because the window guys damaged the carpet when they replaced the windows). Total time to repaint the master bedroom? Four years, six months, and three days.

          1. Jaydee*

            We had hideous carpet in our old house. Finally replaced it a couple months before we sold the house. We had lived there for 9 years. I love our new house, but I miss that carpet.

    2. Julianne*

      We’re still apartment-dwellers, so we have been spared many of these big annoying things, but goodness does moving suck. We were driving to lunch yesterday and passed a small group of people busily loading a UHaul, and I said to my partner, “That could have been us. Aren’t you glad that’s not us?” Our rent increased more than we expected for the coming year, but between the hassle of moving and our inability to find anything we liked better for considerably less money, we chose to stay put.

  5. Cat*

    Any good advice on buying a new sofa? I have a heavy duty futon on a nice wooden frame right now but even so it’s slumping and sliding off the frame. I can only sit comfortably on it cross-legged and why live like that?

    I have my eye on a brightly-colored velvet statement sofa. (Not a specific one yet). Am I going to regret that? How’s the durability of velvet?

    1. Casca*

      I don’t know but you could consider getting velvet covers for a sturdy couch- then if the velvet wears, you can replace or try different covers

    2. Alston*

      Velvet is actually pretty durable if it’s not super cheap. So like don’t get your sofa from urban outfitters (the sofa frames there are garbage).

      Also I love bright sofas! What color are you thinking? Ours is teal.

      1. Cat*

        I was thinking an orange. My walls in my rental are green and I think it would go nicely and I love orange so wouldn’t mind coordinating future spaces around it.

        1. Fiennes*

          Love that idea!

          My only tip: look for online reviews of your specific sofa (manufacturer and model). It’s surprising how much is out there.

        2. fposte*

          A lot of furniture places will let you customize with your chosen fabric, so don’t feel tied just to the sofas that already offer an orange velvet version. I might even stop by brick and mortar furniture places and see if you can find a fabric you like.

      1. Cat*

        I ended up going with the performance velvet in teal. I’m very excited about it. I think the teal will be more versatile than the orange I was thinking.

          1. Cat*

            Yeah, I tromped around our multi-mall area in town trying out all the sofas, and decided I might as well just go for it.

    3. fposte*

      Velvet is just the weave–you can get silk velvets, polyester velvets, cotton velvets, etc. and they’ll have different durabilities and price points. I went for cotton velvet on a sofa and don’t regret it–it was not cheap but it’s the nicest thing to touch ever, and after nearly 20 years it’s wearing in a fairly attractive library couch kind of way. Keep in mind that food stains are next to impossible to get out completely and the nap may get damaged in the attempt, and that if you’re prone to leaving things on your sofa it might squish the nap as well. (And if you have pets, they will always be on it!)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        For food stains did you try Nature’s Miracle (pet store) and a soft-soft brush? Spray the stain. Let it sit, as it’s an enzyme that will “eat” the stain. Let it dry. Take the soft, soft brush (like one for baby’s hair) and brush up anything that is left. If the stain is bad, you may have to do it twice.

        I did this with a coarse suede coat I had. When I was done, I could not find where the stain was originally. It was just gone.

    4. Cat*

      Thanks, everyone! I took the plunge and went for a West Elm performance velvet in teal. Not the orange I was thinking but I love the color and think it will be versatile. AS it turned out I couldn’t bring myself to spend I much and this was pretty reasonably priced too

    5. NDR*

      I had a red velvet couch that lasted – and looked great – for 12+ years. It finally started to look a little worn a couple of years ago, so we ended up giving it away and getting something new (only because it cost less than reupholstering it). I say go for it!

  6. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Ah, I’m early!

    I’ve decided to try and lose some weight without making myself too miserable- I’ve been on really low-calorie diets before and they never stick because I can’t really do normal life things concerning food, and I am just so dang hungry!

    But at about 1450 calories a day, bit more if I exercise hard, and no banned foods, I feel it’s easier to stick to even if progress is slow.

    This scientist guy I read about said that the important thing for any healthier lifestyle changes is that one finds one’s “best weight,” i.e. a weight and plan that they can stick to in real life without making them so unhappy they eventually stop. So I’m kind of taking that idea.

    Also, does CouchTo5k have an “almost dead to couch” program? I do exercise but haven’t run in years and I thought I was going to die when I started it yesterday!

    1. Kristen*

      Good for you! I’m trying to make the same changes you are. I don’t track my calorie intake right now (we’ll see if I need to start). My story: I grew up skinny and fairly athletic; in my late 20’s I entered a serious relationship (mentioned bc I went on birth control for the first time which could be a contributing factor and we both have a tendency toward couch-potatoeness). At 31, I went back to school and (stupidly!) decided to quit the gym since I reckoned I would not have the time to go. The obviously biggest factor though is I began to snack more than before and my portion sizes increased as I became almost obsessed with food. Now I’m trying to reign all of that in and get back to normal. I’m going to see where eating smaller portions and eliminating pop gets me first before I go all out tracking calories.

      As far as exercising, I’d like to get into trail running and know exactly what you mean by “almost dead to couch.” I bought new trail running shoes and decided to take them out last week with full knowledge it was going to be a slow process. My legs were achy right away and I walked almost exclusively. I used to think those warnings on workout machines that said to consult your doctor before beginning an exercise routine were written for the elderly and/or very obese; I’m realizing now as I’m in my late 30’s and have been very inactive for a few years, that they could be talking about me. Not a great feeling.

    2. LibbyG*

      I love the “best weight” idea! I remember reading Brian Wansink ‘s finding that people can usually cut calories down by about 10% without setting themselves up to overeat later. I’m focused on that idea as I get deeper into middle age. Good luck!

    3. Annie Mouse*

      I’ve been doing weight watchers for a while, but not properly. I basically used it as an incentive to think about what I was eating and whether I really need it. So basically, I cut out snacking as much and introduced a bit more fruit and veg. It meant it was slower than a lot of people but it worked for me where other stuff hadn’t. So I think finding a method that works and you can be happy using is the best way to do it.
      No advice on the running, I can’t run!

    4. bloop*

      I did couch to 5k a few years ago. The first day was the hardest for me! Don’t be afraid to run *really* slowly. Like, a very mild jog is fine. You can repeat the first week if you need a little more time.

    5. Joke de Vivre*

      There are some programs that are “walk to run”. I don’t remember who offers it

      The best tip I have is to get fitted for good shoes. Good shoes based on your foot and body mechanics will make a world of difference.

    6. INTP*

      I’m not aware of an “almost dead to couch” program but I think you could set the intervals to the paces that can work for you. Maybe alternate walking slowly with walking really quickly to get your heart and lungs used to the more rapid activity before you try running. (I have asthma so I know how it feels to think “I exercise, I’m fine” and then try something a little more intense than I’m used to on the cardio level and feel like I’m dying!) You can also use something like Runkeeper create your own interval workouts where you might do, say, 10 seconds running to 110 seconds walking, whatever works.

      I agree about the “best weight” concept. IME, no one maintains their vanity weight without it taking over their lives. Best case scenario, they diet indefinitely and can never relax about it. Most frequently, they’re caught in a cycle of dieting down to their vanity weight, gaining, being angry at themselves for not being able to maintain it, dieting again, and just spending so much of their life energy on it when they’re not even becoming overweight or needing to diet for health reasons.

    7. Zathras*

      Look up the Jeff Galloway run walk run method (I’ll put a link in a reply to this comment). You alternate very short running (like 5-10 seconds) with a longer period of walking. Very gradually you increase the running and reduce the walking. Some people eventually eliminate the walking but some don’t – I know some runners who do marathons and so forth but still incorporate a little bit of walking.

      I’ve followed a similar process when getting back into running after an injury, but I found I hated looking at a watch all the time, so I would just use telephone poles – I would run for 2 telephone poles, then walk for 10, or whatever.

    8. Anonish*

      Can you walk briskly for 45 minutes? I am pretty sure I read that C25K starts with that as a n assumption. It’s where I had to start – you could also bike, do an elliptical, take a class, etc to get to that starting point.

    9. Call me St. Vincent*

      I have to plug for Weight Watchers. I lost all 50 lbs of pregnancy on it and then I recently redid it to lose about 7 lbs that crept back up. If you are a person that can follow a plan, but just need a plan to follow that will work, I highly recommend it. I just did it on the online app, no meetings or anything, and it was great.

    10. Another Liz*

      I have an app called MyNetDiary that’s pretty darn helpful… when I actually use it. I figure if I keep starting over, it’ll stick eventually, right? It’s got a user friendly interface and a good library of foods included. I use the free version, the paid version has some nice bells and whistles though. And yeah, if I go below 1450 or forbid myself foods, it’s just a binge waiting to happen. I also allow myself a cheat day twice a month.

    11. BPT*

      As others have said, you could always just start with walking. When you can walk briskly for 20-30 minutes, then start C25K.

      I will say, though, that C25K is never going to be easy in the weeks that the training is planned. Runs only get easier when you move up to the next stage. So even if you’re starting with 1 minute runs, as long as you only do 1 minute runs, they will never feel easy. When you get up to doing 3 minute runs though, you can go back and try a 1 minute run and feel how easy it is. This translates to longer distances too – I could run 3 miles 5 days a week for a month, and it’s still always going to feel about the same level of difficulty to me. However, if I work my way up to 5 mile runs, I can go back to a 3 mile run and suddenly it feels super easy.

      All that to say – some people get discouraged when running doesn’t feel easier as they move through the weeks of C25K. It’s not supposed to feel easier, though, because you’re increasing distance every time. So don’t get discouraged if in week 7 you feel you’re working as hard as you were in week 1. Take a fall back week and do a shorter run, and you’ll be able to tell the difference in how far you’ve come.

    12. Brendioux*

      I’m so happy to hear you are starting on your weight loss journey!
      I want to recommend that you please check out High Carb Hannah on YouTube! She is a YouTuber who has lost over 70lvs (I believe) and she has a weight loss series where she describes all of the things she did back when she was trying to calorie restrict to lose weight and how that didn’t work and why. If you want another perspective, I would recommend lilykoihawaii also on YouTube, her weight loss series is a lot more research and science based although her weight loss story isn’t as incredible as Hannah’s (she has lost weight but not as quickly or as much as Hannah).

    13. Beach Bound*

      When I started C25K and it was too much for me, I decreased the running time. It’s like two and a half or three minute loops (I forget) where you step up the portion of each loop that you run. So I ran for thirty seconds and walked for two minutes, then bumped up to 0:45/1:45, and then I was up to the “starting” line.

    14. Tau*

      Fellow weight loss attempter high five!

      I am taking it reeeaaally easy on my own because I’ve heard so many horror stories of eating disorders and yo-yo effects, and am also pretty skeptical of a lot of nutritional advice. So my main changes are mild ones like “try to eat less processed sugar”, “try to cook more”, “try not to overeat”. I don’t calorie-count, and I don’t ban foods – just try to eat less of them.

      My reasoning here:
      – All changes should be permanent lifestyle changes. “Temporary” diets of “do this until you’ve lost the weight you want to lose” strike me as prone to the yo-yo effect and generally unsustainable. This means that any change to my diet I make, I should be ready to keep up indefinitely… meaning severe restrictions are a no-go.
      – I refuse to go hungry. If my weight loss plan involves forcing myself to stay hungry, I am pitching my decision with its theoretical contemplation of negative consequences such as heart disease or diabetes against an evolutionary honed lizard brain in which enduring hunger = famine!! starvation!! we must immediately eat All The Things to build up fat stores as preparation for disaster!! That is not a battle my higher-level thought processes can win.
      (I tangled with the lizard-brain of famine and disaster in my late teens/early twenties – not on purpose, but because I’d moved out of home with an undiagnosed disability involving serious executive function deficits and found myself struggling to eat more than once every two days. That experience really screwed up a lot of my eating patterns something fierce, I still don’t always have a reliable sense of hunger and it’s taken years and years of regular meals to undo some of the habits and cravings. It’s given me a healthy respect for my brain’s famine mode and I have every intention of never triggering it again.)

      Re: exercise, I think the important thing is to find something that you’ll enjoy. I don’t do running because I know I’d hate it; I do cycle to work, which is easy to fit in and which I find fun. I want to supplement that, especially as with the job change I’m cycling 5 instead of 6 km each way and on flat terrain instead of over hills, so I’m thinking of checking out a nearby gym and some of their courses. But IMO if I don’t enjoy it, forcing myself to do it in the name of Health is dooming myself to failure and misery.

    15. oh so anon on this one*

      A few thoughts – but with both things every individual is different so they may not work for you.
      I’ve lost about 150lbs so far with a combo of diet and exercise changes – I’m about 25 from where I’d like to be (125 the lowest possible for my height for the level of exercise I do).
      I started by increasing the amount of walking in my daily life – walk one subway stop farther each week and by doing the elliptical at the gym. I also switched to eating pre- made lean cuisine or weight watchers dinners 6 nights a week. I would have fruit and an English muffin at lunch and scrambled eggs with no butter /margarine at breakfast (occasionally swapped with oatmeal) I ate as many fruits and veggies as I wanted – watermelon grapes and carrots are my friends I spend a huge chunk of my budget on them. I also cut the sugar out of my tea and started buying nicer tea to compensate- better tea didn’t take as much sweetener for me. All that plus weight watchers has been great. I had tried ww in college and it really didn’t work for me- I gained weight but this time has been awesome and I love my group
      I also joined a running group – my first day it took me about 50 minutes to do a 5k – that’s about an 18 minute mile. But – nobody cared except me. The coaches love having people there and have lots of tips. I went from residual hate towards running to loving it – I’m training for my third marathon in the 18 months since I started running now. It takes a huge number of early mornings – I run before I can think of reasons not to- To me that’s a crucial prt of the whole process. Also – walk breaks in a run are encouraged as is going at a snails pace – you’re still doing better than the person who is in bed
      Final 3 thoughts – if c25k isn’t working – adapt it to what you can do – no running plan works for everyone and any decent coach will tell you to adapt it to what works for you. Plan your food for the day as the first or second thing you do – I do it in the super post run – then stick to it – there’s wiggle room where you make it but I like having an ourtline of my day. And don’t fall into the running means I can go have an epic brunch trap every weekend! (I did that a bit too often at first)
      Apologies for the novel! This is one area where I always think detail and nuances matter :)
      Good luck!

    16. DietCokeHead*

      There’s some great advice in these comments! I did the couch to 5k last year but I stopped at week 6 due to some massively painful shin splints. So go really slow? Buy better shoes and socks? Looking back, I wish I had spent more time repeating earlier weeks to try and keep the shin splints away!

    17. Zip Zap*

      I find it’s easier to start by adding things. More fruits and vegetables. More water. More exercise. Especially more exercise. That really helps.

      It sounds like you’re looking for a formal diet plan, but these are my suggestions:

      Start by swapping things out. When you crave sugar, eat cereal or fruit. When you crave something like fries, make them at home with olive oil in a skillet. Try to make your own food as much as possible When you do eat out, limit it to really healthy stuff. Keep healthy snacks around like nuts, apples and peanut butter, hummus, etc. When you feel hungry, drink a glass of water or juice before eating; a certain percentage of hunger is actually thirst. And, most of all, indulge. Get some farm fresh fruits and vegetables and eat as much as you want. Being healthy shouldn’t mean feeling restricted or like you can’t enjoy eating.

      *Advice from an internet stranger. I know I may be repeating things you already know. Just trying to be helpful.

    1. Casca*

      I thought the world building was pretty good and gave a lot to think about
      BUT the characterisation, especially of Mae, Kalden and people working at the Circle was pretty dismal, inconsistent and hard to believe.
      Also, I could have gone forever without seeing the word ‘crown’ in a sex scene.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I loved the Circle for its plot, which I thought was fascinating, but I thought that characters were pretty silly/over-the-top. It felt like sometimes it was supposed to be satire but other times not. And I thought the end was a bit off the rails. But overall I really liked reading it. (I recently watched the movie version, which was fun if you’ve read the book but otherwise I think would be pretty underwhelming.)

      1. Casca*

        Did not know there was a movie! Will be interesting to see how they handled it

        Agree, re: satire. It didn’t quite reach that level of insight most of the time

    3. Lady Jay*

      I read it a few years back & it’s really stuck with me. Sure, it’s over-the-top in places, but I think that’s kind of the point; all dystopian novels are exaggerated, in order to drive their point home.

      As far as takeaways, I remember thinking when I read it, how much the dangers of technology co-exist with its blessings. The Circle makes it easy for citizens to vote . . . but then they’re *forced* to vote; it provides health care, but at the expense of privacy. Perhaps the best example was how the technology was designed to track down abducted children – which is absolutely a blessing! And yet that same technology was used to track down Mae’s friend (can’t recall his name) and (spoiler alert) drive him over a bridge. There are no unmixed blessings with technology, and we need to be careful lest we make a hell of heaven.

      1. Casca*

        Although as an Aussie with compulsory voting, that particular plot point (on voting) didn’t bother me

        But it was so disturbing how people kept clapping when the founders/leaders were promoting things that could so obviously become creepy if the characters gave it thought!

        1. Lady Jay*

          I was actually thinking about the voting today.

          I’m American. Do I think that it would be a good thing if more people voted? Absolutely! But I do think that people should be able to make a conscientious choice *not* to vote. It doesn’t mean that choice will not have consequences (I believe Argentina imposes a fine, and I could live with a small fine) – but the link between the Circle and voting threatens to shut down somebody’s entire life if they make that choice.

          Besides which, I would not trust Google/Facebook/Amazon to record and process my vote. We have enough voter manipulation* over here without entrusting this to corporations.

          *I’m trying very hard to not start a political discussion! But I do want to make clear that I personally come at this from the American political left, NOT the political right. I listened to a great podcast episode (Consitutional) yesterday on how non-whites have systemically been denied the right to vote, and I do not want to be lumped in with that.

          1. Continence Nurse*

            In Australia, there is a small fine for not voting, but if you choose not to vote, the solution is very simple: you turn up and have your name checked, take your cards to a booth, and then either leave them blank or possibly express your deepest feelings about politicians on them. The card has no identifiers on it at all. Once it is in the box, there is no way to tie it to you.
            Personally, I want to vote, but donkey voting is pretty common here.

        2. nonegiven*

          What happens if you don’t vote? Fine, jail time?

          What if you go and get your ballot but one race is a choice you don’t want to make, can you leave one blank and vote on the others?

          1. Casca*

            Fine (in theory- almost never happens). And no one sees your ballot papers so if you donkey vote or draw genitalia, etc, no consequences

            There’s also postal votes and pre-polling stations so you don’t have to brave the crowds

    4. Roseberriesmaybe*

      I read it for a book club and no-one in the club liked it! It had that very simplified and alarmist technophobia that also put me off Black Mirror. What did you think of it?

      1. Casca*

        I could look past the simplified tech interpretation because sci-fi dystopias are allowed to do that imo, but I feel like I can’t recommend it to people because of the characterisation

    5. Quaggaquagga*

      Read it, hated it, managed to switch over to hate-reading it for the last half of the book which made it a lot more fun. I agree with people’s assessments here. The characters and their motivations were just so flimsy. Pro-Circle characters were like lemmings, eager to hand over all of their most personal information with no second thought, while anyone anti-Circle was a technophobic, overly paranoid Luddite. There was absolutely nobody inbetween. It was the first book I’ve read by David Eggers and it did not leave me feeling very impressed.

  7. Alston*

    Man, bathroom renovations are expensive! Quotes we are getting for labor are higher than what we were thinking for labor+materials. Of course we have a 100+ year old house in the Boston area, but still….. Contractor is coming over today to do exploratory surgery so we can finalize the quote and figure out how big of a tub we can reasonably get. Wish us luck

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Yes they are! I’m also in the Boston area and just doing a half bath cost us about $4000. That included all new fixtures, a new floor, baseboards, and accessories. We went from a vanity to a pedestal sink so had to have the plumbing redone, which then required drywall repair. I’m dreading doing the full bath next year. Good luck!

      1. Alston*

        Yeah we could be looking at 20k without finish materials. There are electric and plumbing issues to update (no outlets in the bathroom), but on the bright side the original subway tile is in good enough condition that we may be able to keep some. Turns out they built a wall and put a plastic surround over the existing tile for no reason? we would still have redo the tile above the subway tile, but if we keep some of the old it will apparently save us an arm and a leg.

    2. January*

      Are any of you Boston-area people metro west-ish? Need 2-3 bathrooms re done in the next few years.

    3. Alston*

      Ok, so I am not a fan of pedestal sink usually (no storage) but……. It would be more likely to let me put a bigger tub in the bathroom. What would you guys pick, bigger tub or regular vanity?

      1. Beatrice*

        I’d want the bigger tub, but I’d have to figure out something creative for storage. Spare soap, shampoo, etc could probably go into a closet shelf down the hall. I’d need something to hold a spare toilet paper roll, minimal makeup, and menstrual management products. Maybe some shelves and baskets? Towels could maybe be rolled into a basket on the floor near the tub?

    4. Chaordic One*

      I need to vent about my own sad bathroom story this week. The toilet started leaking every time it was flushed. It did not appear to clogged. I called a plumber that morning and he showed up fairly promptly that afternoon. He looked at it and told me that it was a seal. He went out to his truck and put in a new seal. The whole thing took about 15 minutes. The parts (a new seal and some kind of metal screw) came to $7.00, but the labor was $85.00.

      I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, but $85.00 labor? Who knew?

      1. Electron Wisperer*

        Seems reasonable for a call out to me.
        You are not paying the man for a $7 seal, you are paying the man to come out to you, have the part on hand, know exactly what the problem is and how to sort it.
        I would bet that $85 is a standard “callout plus first half hour (Or maybe first hour)” charge.

        Incidentally, toilet seals and tap washers are the sorts of jobs that you can easily do yourself, it is well worth figuring out how to do these sorts of silly little jobs, as much because then you don’t end up waiting in half a day for the contractor as anything else.

      2. Book Lover*

        Yes, I have a home warranty and the call out fee is $70. It is basically just the trouble they took to drive to you that is most of the cost.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, that sounds like you got a good deal. People who come to your home are paying through the nose for gas, insurance, vehicle maintenance and so on. Let’s say it took him a half hour to get to your place, that means your total call cost him 45 minutes. It’s one of those, “eh, what can ya do?” situations.

        Most of the time when someone comes for a repair here I figure on the starting price for their bill will be $200.. Rural area where it’s normal to drive an hour between service calls.

        Small consolation, but I think you made out well for less than $100 and he arrived quickly.

      4. Beatrice*

        Yep, that’s a pretty normal base price for a service call. You got off easy! I’m glad it was a simple repair.

  8. Costa Rica*

    I’m going to Costa Rica for vacation in a few weeks! A friend and I will be in Tamarindo. Any suggestions on what to do, things to know, or anything else I should keep in mind? I’ve never been to Central America before.

    1. INTP*

      I loved Costa Rica! I didn’t go to that area so I don’t have specific suggestions. My advice for CR in general (and a lot of heavily touristy areas) is to not take your eyes off your belongings and assume anything left out of sight might be stolen. I had cheap flip flops stolen off the beach which was not a big $$ loss but it meant I had no shoes to wear back to my hotel. More seriously, my hotel owner moved us to older units with screen windows, and I checked to make sure that the bars were not large enough for someone to break in, but I wound up having a wallet stolen during my sleep that I had stupidly left near a window and someone slashed a hole in the screen and reached in to my room. Luckily I had followed advice to spread money and CCs between two wallets. I met a few people that had wallets stolen and were basically totally out of luck. Don’t let CR’s relative safety make you feel comfortable enough to let your guard down about property theft.

      Sorry if that was depressing advice! It was just so rampant in a way I’ve never experienced in other areas.

      1. the gold digger*

        I had a cheap baseball hat stolen OFF MY HEAD in Honduras. I was so angry. I started running after the guy, trying to remember the words for, “Stop thief!” in Spanish so I could yell at him.

        I also had my prescription glasses stolen out of my backpack as I was getting off a bus. (Again in Honduras.) When I discovered the loss and expressed my dismay, a Honduran noted, “Well, Christmas is coming!” As in – watch out because pickpockets are looking for something for Tia Betty?

        1. INTP*

          Interesting, I’ll make a note to be equally on guard if I go to Honduras.

          On the other hand, I went to Belize and it didn’t seem to be the same way at all. I had nothing stolen, I didn’t speak to anyone that had anything stolen, and locals were not warning me all the time that my stuff was going to get stolen like in CR. I’ve also been told that Nicaragua is not as bad as CR, but does have some theft problems.

    2. Natalie*

      My husband and I went in June for our honeymoon.

      If you’re going to be driving at all, travel times are crazy slow compared to where I’m from (Midwest US). The roads are generally one lane each way and the speed limits top out at 80 kph. So plan on that.

      There is a lot of outdated advice online with regards to cell phones and credit cards. If you have a recent model smartphone it is probably quad band and will work just fine with an international package. You don’t need to buy a burner phone. Similarly, we had no problem using a chip credit card 95% of the time and rarely paying cash.

      Costa Rica is very safe, stable country overall – they have the usual amount of property crime, but nothing that would stand out in many touristy places in the US or Europe. Lots of people in the tourism industry speak English, but you will make use of Spanish if you know any. With a couple of weeks you can pick up some basics on DuoLingo.

      Take advice about sunscreen and bug spray seriously.

      It’s a beautiful country. Have a great trip!

  9. LAI*

    So I’m about to move in with a partner for the first time. I’m 34 and haven’t had a roommate since my early 20s. Any advice?

    1. Victoria, Please*

      Make sure each of you has a space which is YOUR SPACE and the other doesn’t put stuff on, in, or near. Be up front about who does what. Practice Alison’s brand of kind directness. Follow through on your parts. Agree up front about how bills are handled. The person who cooks ALSO cleans up. Good luck.

      1. Legalchef*

        Ha, I disagree so hard about the person who cooks also cleaning up. My husband and I will never agree on this. He is a big believer in the “you are the one making the cooking mess so you have to clean it up.” I think that if I am cooking, he should contribute to the dinner experience by cleaning. Especially since he doesn’t like to cook on weekdays (or really ever), so if I don’t want to cook the alternative is takeout. If he cooked sometimes then I’d mind less cleaning up after I cooked, since the cleaning would then be shared!

        1. Purple snowdrop*

          Too bloody right, if only one person feeds both of you damn sure the non-cooker washes up.

        2. anonak*

          I agree with ‘the cook cleans up’ only because some people are insanely messy when they cook. I tend to put things away and throw out garbage as I go, but my mom ends up with food everywhere, uses a ridulous amount of utentials, pots and pans, and leaves trash everywhere. I seriously don’t understand how she manages it.

          I that said, I think cleanup is best when everyone who ate contributes.

          1. King Friday XIII*

            My wife and I have largely settled this by both cleaning as we go as much as possible, and whatever’s left is the other person’s cleanup. But you have to both be making the same amount of effort for it to work. XD

          2. Artemesia*

            My husband and I have always done, whoever cooks doesn’t have to clean up and it has always worked as we both try to clean as we go if possible. But he cooks more elaborate meals, deep fries, etc etc and so makes a much bigger mess. The upside, is his food is great. So I don’t mind.

            When we had kids at home, they did the dishes except when they cooked and then one of the parents did them. They are both good cooks, especially my son who relished getting out of the kitchen cleanup duty.

          3. nonegiven*

            MIL taught DH to use every dish in the house to cook a simple meal for a guest. He uses 2 or 3 times the necessary pots and pans just to fix something for himself.

          4. Connie-Lynne*

            My husband never learned how to clean as you go, and also had to set up a dang mise en place prior to cooking.

            As a result, we both generally cleaned up what we had cooked, although occasionally we’d ask the other, “can you deal with the dishes tonight?” It worked out better than any hard and fast rule.

        3. another person*

          I think it depends on if you split cooking evenly. I do most of the cooking (my husband is learning to cook by doing 1 meal a week) so if we did the one who cooks cleans up, I would always be cooking AND always cleaning up.
          Honestly, I’m also pretty good about not using extra dishes, not making a mess, etc because I have a lot more experience cooking and I know what you can and can’t reuse and how to get timing down while my husband uses so many bowls since he cuts everything beforehand and puts it in seperate bowls since he’s still too slow to get it all done while things are cooking. (Once he gets a little more practice in, we will work on the messiness).

        4. Ramona Flowers*

          Cook never washes up here.

          I am a tidy cook. I clean as I go. He is like a tornado and I resent cleaning up mess that doesn’t need to be made.

          So the cook washes up here and that works for us!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Oh, this. If you are going to use a thousand pans and utensils and NOT clean as you go then clean up is yours, I say. Part of any job is having consideration for the person who gets the project next.

            We shared the set up and clean up. Some nights I would take the worst pans and scrub them and he would do the rest of the dishes. It was just a routine we fell into.

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              It basically works best here if one person takes over the kitchen and one stays the hell out of it!

        5. Victoria, Please*

          Chuckle. This is because my husband makes a HUGE MESS when he cooks, so I’d much rather he cleans up. YMMV.

        6. AcademiaNut*

          We do one cooks, one cleans – doing both after a full day work is tiring, particularly given that we don’t have a dishwasher. Then we swap the next night. We do tidy up as we cook, though, so it’s a matter of washing eating and serving dishes and the pots, wiping the counters and stove, and putting away leftovers – I think it’s perfectly reasonable to refuse to clean up when the kitchen looks like an explosion.

        7. Brendioux*

          Yup my brother and my sister in law do this, she usually cooks and he cleans. When he cooks breakfast, she cleans. Of course they’ll both lend a hand to the other or at least offer to… Why would anyone want to do work before AND after dinner?

    2. dear liza dear liza*

      Talk about all financial sharing and housekeeping chore responsibilities before you move in. We actually ended up writing a list of all the chores and assigning them because we had way too many spats based on assumptions

      1. Artemesia*

        We did that nearly 50 years ago — when the idea that it was ‘woman’s work’ was much more common. (not that that is over yet) By sitting down and planning how we would manage the house, we set habits in place that worked to keep things a partnership even as life changed. When he retired and I didn’t, he just automatically without discussion took over all the cooking; when I retired, we went back to sharing that. I am sure if we didn’t do this very formally 47 years ago that it would not be so ‘natural’ and easy now to share responsibilities.

    3. LibbyG*

      How exciting! Put it on the calendar about a month out, a date to talk about how living together is going. That way you’ll talk about the teeny things (“I need that spot for my contact lens case”) that you might think is too petty to open a conversation about.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If there’s anything that bothers you, you should be able to say so to your partner. If you feel you can’t talk about it, then you’re not ready to live together, IMO. It doesn’t mean the person has to change, but you if they keep doing it and it gets more on your nerves, then you should be able to express that it’s worse than you thought.

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      Do you like chatting or quiet time when you get home or finish work?

      Do you like to read in bed? Fall asleep with the TV on? Snore?

      1. Labguy*

        Maybe this is just me, but if I’m going to move in with someone, I probably already know if they snore.

    6. mreasy*

      It will be hard at first, and maybe for awhile. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad relationship, or that you’re only now seeing each others’ true colors – just that living with another human is hard and takes a lot of adjustment! Otherwise: if you can, get a queen or larger bed. Trust me.

    7. Rookie Manager*

      My advice is two tellys/living areas so you can relax seperately when needed. I love my other half very much but I do not want to always be in the same room as tje play station shooting. Similarly he likes a door between me and the piano. For us both areas are both of ours and we both use the smaller room equally (so we don’t feel banished).

  10. Victoria, Please*

    During my recent eclipse trip, we stayed at a beautiful home which was *completely uncluttered*. It was astonishing. So now I’m entering a fugue state of “THROW IT ALL OUT, ALL.”

    Has anyone ever worked with a professional organizer? We have a great opportunity in that my stepdaughter is soon to come get 90% of the stuff we’ve been storing for 5 years for her, and I would looooove to have a grand clearing out. My husband has a terrible time making decisions to get rid of things, though, so I wondered if an organizer would help.

    1. Courtney*

      I just did a massive clean out of our whole house – I cannot even tell you how many bags of stuff are now out of this house. We don’t have the budget for a professional organizer, though honestly I don’t think it would’ve helped when it comes to my husband – he loves having a clean, uncluttered house, but hates getting rid of things. I did most of the cleaning out when he wasn’t home so I wouldn’t have to hear about it. None of it was his stuff, but I couldn’t deal with all his comments like “what do you mean you’re taking all of those clothes to Goodwill? Can’t we do a garage sale?” (Meaning can’t I do a garage sale, since he definitely doesn’t have the time to help with one.) It would’ve taken a million times longer.

      Basically what I did was that as I was decluttering, I put anything I thought he might want to hold onto in some totes. When I was done I showed him how great and clean it looked, then had him go through the totes to verify that he was ok with letting that stuff go. Now I have two totes of stuff in our closet (plus like three guitar amps – why does he need three??) because he feels like he needs all of it despite realizing the house looks better without it and not actually using any of it in years. Whatever.

      But my general advice would just be to be pretty ruthless about deciding what to keep and what to toss. If it’s something you haven’t used in ages, get rid of it. No “oh, but maybe someday I’ll really have the time to start crafting and use all of these supplies I bought two years ago and never used!” No. Just get rid of it. My house still isn’t super minimalist because I have a toddler and a preschooler, but it’s a million times better than before and I’m so happy about it!

      1. Victoria, Please*

        Oh my gosh, my husband does that too. It’s MY junk, but HE wants a say — “Weren’t you going to make curtains out of that saree you bought [for $5] when we went to India [in the year 2000]? We need to figure out what kind of decor we want before you make curtains, but why are you giving that saree to Freecycle when it’s a good piece of material and you were going to make curtains? We should figure out what kind of decor we want and you should make curtains.” …not that he would have remembered that the saree existed if I hadn’t pulled it out of the drawer and he wandered by.

        And GOD, I hate that phrase: We Should. It never turns into “Let’s make a plan.”

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I could use one too. I have pack-rat syndrome; not hoarding, but a “Oh I might need this; oh I will do this later” kind of thing. I need to get this place cleared out, in case I have to/get a chance to move.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I have a friend in the DC Metro area who does de-cluttering for people. I wish I still lived there sometimes!

    4. Leslie Knope*

      Check out the “Creating Mary’s Home” blog. She is a professional organizer with a super practical approach to life and organizing. I seriously have changed habits just by reading a blog post.

      1. Windchime*

        Thanks so much for this recommendation. I was thinking about hiring an organizer as well. I feel like my house is just out of control and there is clutter and mess everywhere I look. I’ve been working on the sewing room and I threw out a ton of stuff yesterday. It feels really good to just pitch stuff out, but this is always a temporary state for me and then I go back to lying on the sofa and wishing I could hire an organizer.

  11. WellRed*

    Has anyone used Travelocity to book plane/hotel combo? The pricing I found seemed too good to be true. Any drawbacks I should be aware of? Can I get travel insurance with it if I want to?

    1. Victoria, Please*

      My experience is that if something goes wrong with either reservation, the airline/hotel won’t tell you — they booked with Travelocity, not you — and Travelocity won’t bother to tell you either. So you just have to confirm everything yourself.

      1. travel*

        Not with Travelocity per se but another one of those flight+hotel deals (I forget the name) – a friend had her hotel reservation cancelled with no notice (she found out when she got to the hotel) and the hotel would not help her because it was the company’s reservation, not hers and the company did not help either. It was pretty awful.

      2. Dear liza dear liza*

        Wow- I’ve booked numerous hotel/flight packages through Travelocity without any problem.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        I’ve run into similar problems – if you need to make a change, or there’s a problem with the reservation, you *have* to go through Travelocity (or Expedia), not the airline or hotel. We ran into problems with Expedia where they had booked children’s plane fares rather than adult by accident, which we discovered at check-in. We couldn’t get on the plane with them, and needed to contact Expedia to cancel them before we could book new tickets.

    2. LAI*

      I haven’t used Travelocity but I’ve had good experiences with booking.com. Everything has always been just as advertised, including the price, and they even helped me out on the phone with a last minute cancellation one time when my plans changed unexpectedly.

    3. Asterix*

      We use Expedia all the time. Never had problems with it. I think they have an option for insurance and you can also pick options for rooms with cancellation ( those are a bit more pricey). You can always call the hotel place that you want first and ask any questions, and then just book through the travel website.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      I’ve used it and it’s mostly been problem-free, but once a hotel was out of regular rooms and would not give me anything but a hospitality suite that had a sofa bed, not a normal bed. I have a feeling if I had booked directly through the hotel, they would have either found a workaround or else sent me to another one of their properties (it was a Marriott, so I think they could have found me something nearby). But because everything was prepaid and the hotel knew I wasn’t a possibly brand-loyal customer, I got hosed.

  12. going anon*

    So, I have about $10K in credit card debt that is mostly dental expenses (they won’t take payment plans, so you have to pay all upfront and there were no dental colleges in an area I could get to). This debt is spread across three credit cards. I’m going to need some more dental work in the next year. I take good care of my teeth, but am cursed with soft teeth and teeth more prone to problems.

    I’ve decided to pay off the highest interest rate first and not charge anything else until I pay off at least 50% of the debt. I put as much as I can of my paycheck towards it, but that’s not much each month (I live in an extremely HCOL area). Aside from a vacation I’ve had planned for awhile (and that was paid for before the dental procedures), I’m trying to spend as little as possible.

    But, my question is…I have exactly $10K in my savings. This is all the money I have saved – for emergencies, savings for vacations, moving, if I get laid off, etc. Do I dip into that to pay off the debt? I’m wary of not having any savings, but I don’t want to drain it to pay off the debt. All these dental procedures, my current pay, and my HCOL area mean I’ve given up the hope of ever affording a house or having other nice things, but I would like to pay it all off regardless. Any suggestions? And no, asking friends and family for monetary help is not an option.

    1. Gaia*

      I would not use those savings to pay off debt but I would cut expenses to the bare bones and try to pay it off quickly (or see about balance transfers for low or no interest to speed things up).

      If you lost your job tomorrow having debt would suck but having no savings could be catastrophic, especially in a HCOL area.

      1. going anon*

        My expenses are already bare bones. It’s just groceries + utilities. No Netflix or Hulu or TV. One of the cards has no interest for 21 months, which is probably the last one I’ll focusing on paying off because I have some time, but it’s a new card and doesn’t have a high enough credit limit to let me transfer the balances from the other two cards.

        A friend suggested opening up more cards with no interest rates or no balance transfer fees, but I’m wary about having more than three credit cards.

        Based on how much I make and rent + utilities + groceries, if I don’t have anything else come up, it’ll still take me at least a year or two to pay it all off. The way life goes, I doubt I’ll be free from unexpected expenses for two years.

        1. CEMgr*

          If you can transfer your balances to a card with zero interest and have the discipline and organization to do this right, it could be a great way to accelerate your repayments.

          At the risk of stating the obvious, have you tried ways to increase your income? Side job etc.? Even a relatively small amount of extra income could make a difference.

          1. going anon*

            Yeah, I’ve tried to get a part-time job but I’ve been told I’m either overqualified, they have too many applicants, or they only need help during 9-5 when I have my main job. I can’t even get a PT grocery store job or waitressing job.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Use a bare bones resume. Don’t put everything on these job apps like you would for your main job. Undersell yourself.

                1. Elizabeth*

                  There are a couple of different companies that do the same work–Lionbridge, Appen, etc–and I work for Lionbridge. If one doesn’t work out, I’d definitely apply with the others.

                  As a search engine optimizer, I’m basically helping the search engine algorithm think more like a person. Most of it’s mobile phone work–let’s say I’m in Portland, Ore and I use my phone to search, “things to do in Portland” but the search pulls results from Portland, MAINE. A person would never make that mistake but a computer can.

                  It’s amazing how much of this is cultural–they’re really interested in making sure you’re a native English speaker and you’re living in the USA. They hire people all over the world–Brazil, Germany, South Africa, Russia–to do SEO work in those cultures.

                  I had to take a test before they hired me. They sent me a 160 pg document they call the “guidelines” I was supposed to use to study for the test. It’s not all text–it’s mostly a table full of examples of how they want different results rated. When you read about the program, people talk about how hard the test is, but I didn’t think it was that hard so I wouldn’t freak out about it.

                  Once you’re hired, they offer a lot of training and help to do the rating correctly. I do best when I don’t think too much about it :)

                  The best thing about the work is how flexible it is. There’s a “minimum” of 10 hours a week and a max of 20. Especially in graduate school, I could work early in the morning or between classes or late at night as I had time. During busy times, I’ve skipped weeks entirely.

                  It’s the kind of thing that I saw and thought, “is this legit?” but it’s been a godsend, in every sense of the word. A+ would recommend.

            2. Gaia*

              When I was in your shoes I took a job at a local fast food place. It took awhile but I applied to places every day and eventually found one that hired me. The job sucked but every freaking dime went to paying off my credit cards and it really helped.

              Also look for things online. While they don’t pay a lot there are things like Amazon Mechanical Turk, surveys, etc. Look at pet sitting, human sitting, odd jobs for people, etc.

              As for cutting expenses – can you cut your essentials at all? When I was in a real bind I moved from fresh fruits to frozen (no sugar added) as they are way cheaper and just as nutritious. I also supplemented a lot of frozen veggies instead of fresh to help cut costs and I eliminated most meat from my diet as it was too expensive. I managed to get my grocery bill down to $70 every two weeks by also shopping at discount grocers and avoiding processed foods if I could make it myself for less.

              Good luck, this is hard but you can do it.

        2. Alston*

          How much is on the two cards that have interest?

          And this may not apply, so feel free to disregard, but you trust your dentist right? My boyfriend also has soft teeth, so he expects more dental work than the average
          bear. But everytime he went to the dentist they found a couple of cavities, or this crown needed replaced, or how about a root canal. And I got suspicious that they were over doing it. Checked out reviews online and that was a common complaint. He switched dentists and he hasn’t had anything like that since switching. There are a couple of spots they say they are going to watch, but nothing that needs intervention.

          1. going anon*

            Yeah, I trust my dentist. She’s actually really good about telling me what I don’t need to have done, what I can wait to do, or doing a crown at the end of Dec but not charging my insurance until Jan so I get to maximum coverage. I actually switched over to her after going to one or two others who were trying to over do it.

            Card 1 has 2500
            Card 2 has 3000
            Card 3 has 5500 (no interest card)

            1. Alston*

              I am thinking pay off the two with interest, and keep chipping away at the no interest one. You won’t go through all your savings, but you won’t be paying interest for a while.

            2. fposte*

              What are the APRs on the first two? How many months’ living expenses is $10k for you?

              I think the layoffs are really important here, and I think your existing plan to stop adding to the balances and aggressively pay down the high interest card in light of that is a decent one. But it’s also important for you to crunch the actual numbers; is your emergency fund worth paying another $500, say, on your card debt? I think “Yes” is a reasonable answer; alternatively, if you’re living in an area where the $10k will only get you through a couple of months, you might (I hate to say this) want to pull back on aggressively paying down the cards until you get a better idea about the layoffs and any severance possibilities.

              1. going anon*

                $10K would get me about four to five months if I really went bare bones on groceries (so rice, beans, eggs, etc.) and had no emergencies.

                I’ve been thinking of pulling, at most, $1K to put on one of the cards, but it’s been a debate since I’m pretty sure my department will be gutted with layoffs. I know our severance policy would get me 6 weeks of pay.

                Card 1 has an APR of 24%
                Card 2 has a promo “good customer” APR of 10% that ends 2/18 and goes back to 19%

                1. fposte*

                  At this point I’d hold off stepping up the payments until the job situation settled. Fall is nearly here, and three months’ delay or so isn’t going to cost you that much.

                2. Jerry Vandesic*

                  You should aim for a 6 month emergency fund at a minimum, so I wouldn’t touch your savings.

                  You strategy of paying off Card 1 while only paying the minimum on 2 & 3 makes a lot of sense. Get 1 paid off, and then work on 2, trying to get as much paid by 2/18 (even when the rate goes up, it’s still less than 1).

            3. nonegiven*

              Make sure the no interest one doesn’t have retroactive interest at a high rate if something happens and you don’t get it all paid off.

        3. Data Analyst / Software Engineer*

          Your friend is “correct”, at least in the mathematical sense. You might be weary, but you’ll have to decide if the wariness is worth $100 in monthly interest payments, which is what you’re paying on the first card and second card when the rate jacks up to 20%.

          Some cards are giving intro offers of 18 months or more of 0% APR balance transfer offers. If you’re paying just the minimum, you could be looking at $1800 in interest vs $200 in balance transfer fees for that period.

    2. AnonEMoose*

      What if you used some of your savings to pay off (or at least pay down) the highest interest card? That might be a decent compromise, depending on the amounts involved.

      Or maybe talk to your bank or credit union or whatever about whether it would be possible to consolidate the balances onto one card with a lower interest rate, or whether you could take out a loan with a lower interest rate, so you could use that to pay off the cards and have one payment each month instead of three?

      I’m not sure any of those would work for you, but might be worth exploring.

      1. going anon*

        I’ve considered a loan, but I also have student loans and I don’t know how much more in loans I can stand to take out? My student loans are crazy like some people, but they’re still gouging me each month.

        I think I really need to work with a financial advisor or something, but they’re so expensive. All my credit cards are different – Amex, Capital One, Mastercard, and the balances aren’t high enough on any to consolidate.

        1. Data Analyst / Software Engineer*

          What do you mean by “your balances aren’t high enough on any to consolidate”?

          1. going anon*

            My credit limit on each card is below $10K, so I couldn’t move all my credit card debt to one card.

        2. mreasy*

          Use your savings to pay off any debt you’re currently paying interest on. If you’re really worried, make sure you have a few months’ rent left in savings. Think of it this way: if there’s an emergency, you can always use an existing credit card for groceries/medical costs/etc. The interest will only start accruing on that debt in the unlikely event you need to go into emergency mode. Right now, you’re essentially paying opposite interest on your savings – by not using it to pay down debt, you are paying monthly interest in order to keep your money in savings, where it currently isn’t doing you any good.

          1. going anon*

            Well, there’s a 90% chance I’ll be losing my job in two months, and if I pay $5K off, that leaves me with two months savings to live on. It took me five years to even get $10K in savings.

            I think I’d be less uneasy about bleeding my savings dry if I weren’t facing layoffs at work (it’s no secret that cuts are coming in my department, it’s just that no one knows who is going to be cut). I feel like I’m resistant to using my savings on the off chance that I do lose my job in October.

            1. Bagpuss*

              true, but you would not pay any interest for those two months, then if you need to use the cards to pay bills etc after two months, you’ll still pay less in interest, as you wouldn’t spend $5000 all at once.

              At 24% p.a.on $2,500 you’re paying about $50 month in interest.
              At 10% p.a. on $3,000 you’re paying $25 a month in interest.

              So if you clear them both you save $75 a month. Presumably you are not earning that amount in interest on your savings?

              If you were to lose your job in 2 months, and on the basis that you get 6 weeks pay as severance, that means that should mean that you have 3 1/2 months before you would need to start to use your savings, or start to put bills and living costs on the cards and build up new debt, so you’d save at least $260 in interest.

              If you can get a card with a 0% rate on a balance transfer then do that with cards 1 & 2 (and then close the old accounts, so you still only have 2 or 3 cards, not 4 or 5) but if you can’t then, then paying off the high interest cards from your savings makes sense, and would leave you with just under $5,000 in savings as a cushion if you do get laid off.

        3. NPG*

          Have you looked into a loan from a place like SoFi? My wife and I took one out last year and it’s been super helpful. Now instead of paying off our CC debt in a decade, we will have it done by four years from now. Plus I don’t have to worry about missing a payment or making it late as the monthly payments are auto deducted the day after payday (1st of the month).

          If you can’t get any thing else, I would give them a call – and I would hold on to the money in savings for dear life. It took me almost two years to find my most recent position.

      2. King Friday XIII*

        If you’re not already with a credit union, get to a local credit union. Their rates are almost always better and the underwriting is usually done by actual people so you can explain what you’re doing and why and they may have options you wouldn’t have at a large bank.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          A big THIS. Credit Unions saved my father’s butt when he had extreme medical debt and a different credit union saved my butt when I was trying to hang on to the house and pay off my husband’s bills.

          Please talk to a credit union. It sounds like they will tell you that your situation is workable and they may find some solutions for you.

            1. WellRed*

              Please do. I rolled three high interest credit cards plus the remainder of car loan into a consolidation loan at credit union. I make 1 payment that is half the 4 total payments, plus it will be paid off in 4 years instead of 10, with waay less in interest.

    3. Courageous cat*

      How I understand it is this: your debt is generating a lot of interest, while your savings are not. You’re paying a lot more by having debt than you are gaining by having savings. Then most importantly, your credit score is taking a huge hit that you could instantaneously improve. It is better to spend the next year or two putting any extra money back into your savings, than putting it into your credit card debt.

      So my opinion is to pay off your debt with it. Maybe pay off MOST of it and keep $2k in savings for emergencies. It’s not like you couldn’t use your credit card again in true emergencies either, also.

      I went through the same thing with $10k in savings recently too and I do not regret paying off my credit cards (and then cutting them up) and saving the remaining $2k one bit. My credit utilization went from 110% (ouch) to something like 8% and my score shot up by quite a bit.

      1. going anon*

        I think my hesitance to use my savings comes from the fact that work announced massive layoffs coming this fall (10,000 people), so I’m trying not to use too much of my savings in case I get laid off. I’m job searching, too, but I don’t want to put myself in a bad bind by only having $2K in savings if I get laid off and can’t find a job soon after.

        1. KR*

          I think you need to wait until you have more clarity about your job. First and foremost. Then I agree with the other commenter that said to use a little more than half of your savings to pay off the loans with interest and work on the non interest loan pretty aggressively after that along with filling your savings back up. I don’t know about your student loans, but mine are at a much lower interest rate than mine and my husbands credit card so for me (I’m also in debt destroying mode this year after finding myself in a lot of it) I’m waiting on my student loans and paying minimum until I can pay off the high interest credit cards.

        2. Turtlewings*

          I was going to chime in with those saying to use your savings to pay off only the ones with interest, but then I saw this. If there’s a strong chance of you needing those savings soon, that changes the lay of the land. I think I would wait until the layoffs are over, and assuming your job survives, THEN pay off the ones with interest.

          1. Bagpuss*

            How many of your current outgoings are things you could not pay with using a credit card, if you had to? I don’t mean whether or not it’s a good idea, I mean how many of your utility providers / rent etc *don’t* accept credit cards?

            Because while I understand that instinct to keep savings, if it would be *possible* for you to use cards to pay bills etc then surely it makes sense to clear the debt now to reduce interest and then (if forced) let it build up again if and when you have to.

            If you have some outgoings such as rent where you couldn’t pay with a card, then work out how much you need to hold back from savings to cover those, but for things you can pay by card, you don’t need to hold back savings when you could be saving interest over the next 2-4 months.

        3. Loz*

          Layoffs don’t change things. Your savings are going backwards in regards to inflation and your card debt is going to cost you each month, easily eroding your savings. Pay off any interest debt from your savings. Spend it all but a few months rent if that concerns you, and if your job turns out to be secure, spend it all. Card debt is the worst debt and cash in the bank is the worst “investment”. You’re in a good place. Deal with it wisely.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      This may be because I have more of a safety net than you do, but I think I’ve always taken the attitude that it’s not worth keeping current debt out of concern for future debt. In other words, you’ve got high-interest debt now, so if you pay it off with your savings, you will definitely save yourself interest. If you have emergency expenses later, then you can put money back on the card that you paid off and you’ll still be ahead for whatever time you had reduced your debt. And if the emergency never comes or is minor, you’ll definitely be way ahead.

      Or, another way to put it, if you are worried about an emergency, imagine that the emergency is a certainty, then imagine the emergency in two ways: one, you keep the emergency savings and have to use some or all for the emergency, or two, you pay off your current debt and when the emergency comes, you have to use credit for it. Which would leave you worse off financially? I think it would usually be a wash. So what if there is no emergency? You would definitely be better off paying off interest-bearing loans, right? So overall, that would be the best outcome, so why not take a chance on it?

      1. Agnodike*

        Agreed on all counts! Subtract the interest on your savings account from the interest on your credit card, and that’s how much you are paying every month to keep your money in savings. It makes sense to pay to keep SOME cash in an account for expenses like rent that typically can’t be put on a card, and once the cards are paid off of course you want to keep an emergency fund so you don’t have to put your dental work etc. on a card in the future, but for now you have to ask yourself if what you get out of having $10k in savings is worth what you pay for it monthly.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, yeah, I hadn’t seen that your employment is very uncertain when I posted this comment. I’d say hold on to some or all of the cash, then. If things get really bad you can live off of that, whereas you might not be able to charge any more.

    5. answering anonymously*

      I have a part time job selling tickets for the local university football team. They are always desperately looking for sellers at this time of year. You can also sell your plasma.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t know if this would be appropriate in your setting, however… A friend bought a dental plan. It’s not insurance, it’s a plan. (Splitting hairs if you ask me, but anyway.) I wanted to see what he was getting into so I did a little digging. It seemed like an okay idea. For $99 he got one year’s worth of coverage. The coverage allowed a reduction in pricing for the dental work with no limits. He wanted to have 6 teeth taken out and a new lower made. It reduced his bill by about $1800. The only draw back was he had to go to a doc on their list.

      Some of these plans are fake. One plan I looked at involved the dentist doubling the price and then “reducing” by half with the plan. So there really was no savings. Be careful.
      My thought here is that maybe you can find a way to stop the cash bleeding out.

      1. Data Analyst / Software Engineer*

        I don’t think it’s splitting hairs. You buy insurance for catastrophic events — things you expect to *not* need, but get expensive if you do. If you’re using it, it’s not “insurance”. (I know we call health insurance “insurance”, but the line I use is “young people need health *insurance*, old people need health *care*.)

        The economics, financials and what not are all different for things you use.Term life insurance is a good example — when you’re 20, term life is cheap because you are highly unlikely to die in 10 years. When you’re 80, term life is much more expensive ’cause they’re probably going to pay out.

    7. January*

      In your shoes, I would pay off one of the interest CCs with savings.

      I would then keep applying to retail jobs because holiday season is coming up and hey love Oct-Jan hires.

      And/or do odd jobs: babysitting, lawn mowing, handymanning- whatever your skill set. Consider something like driving for Uber or another “do as much as you want” sort of gig.

      Not sure what you can save (or put toward debt) after living expenses, but make it happen.

      I was making 27k with student loans, a car loan (required for my job), and in Boston (HCOL). I had a part time retail job and i babysat ($15/hr cash in 2007) on weekends.

    8. C*

      I have an individual dental HMO plan through Delta Dental. I pay $115/year & it covers 2 cleanings + annual bitewings + the panoramic X-ray every 3 or 5 years (I always forget what schedule it is supposed to be done- the point is they cover it the recommended schedule). And there is a fee schedule for more major work – fillings, root canals, etc. If you don’t have dental coverage, I recommend looking into it to see if it would reduce your dental costs. You do have to puck a dentist from a list of participating dentists.

      Deltadentalins DOT com

      1. going anon*

        I have a Delta PPO through work. The $10K came after insurance kicked in and after I spread work out over the past few years.

      2. Chaordic One*

        Look into the different Dental Plans, though. Back at Dysfuctional Teapots, Ltd., while the dental plan only covered cleaning + annual bitewings + the panoramic X-ray annually, including for the first year, you had to pay into the plan for at least one year before it would cover any additional work.

    9. Brendioux*

      I noticed that you mentioned the cards you have and none of them were a Discover card? Discover card approves many people and they might have a 0% interest balance transfer offer for the first 18 months or so. If you have been making timely payments and your credit accounts are kind of old (older than 6 years) you should be able to qualify.

    1. Marzipan*

      Thanks guys, I appreciate all your kind words. I didn’t tell anyone in real life that I was doing it, and I can’t quite muster the oomph to go back to all my online infertility haunts just yet, so it’s good to acknowledge it somewhere.
      Very busy at work for the next month or so, and then I’ll go back for a follow-up consultation and think about next steps.

  13. AMD*

    I have found myself in possession of a startlingly adorable 2 week old human, and I have no idea how often I should wash him. I have found information ranging from “daily” to “daily but only use soap 2-3 times/week” to “once weekly if he’s dirty.” His umbilical cord fell off last week, thank goodness, so he is bath-ready, but he’s only had sponge baths a couple times since birth and we don’t really know when to start bathing him. He doesn’t stink and his hair isn’t greasy-looking or anything. Any thoughts?

    1. Caligirl*

      I found it depends on how much spit up or diaper explosions occur. I give my 6 month old a bath every night, but only use soap once a week or if she’s gotten especially dirty that day. She loves bath time and isn’t scared of being in water at all. Congrats on having him!

    2. CEMgr*

      Daily “top and tail”…..which means cleaning the messy areas only. As to arms and legs, back etc……if it doesn’t look or smell or feel dirty, then no need to clean it.

      1. Nicole*

        I second this. I think I washed his hair more than the rest of him (cradle cap stuff). Baby wipes are awesome, but honestly, just water and a cloth will take care of most cleaning.

    3. Cristina in England*

      Congrats! That is wonderful.

      I recommend a weekly wash, no soap until he is rolling around and actually gets dirt on him. If you like the nightly routine of a bath that’s fine, but I would wait until he is a few months old and has more of a routine with other things as well. Newborn skin definitely doesn’t need regular washing and it can get irritated really easily. If you do frequent baths make them short and gentle, and use something really neutral like coconut oil for moisturizing.

    4. Legalchef*

      Congrats! With my tiny human (11 weeks old and the cutest baby to have ever existed), until his umbilical stump fell off and healed (which took a few weeks for him) I did a sponge bath weekly – he probably could have done w more frequent ones, because he was born with an amazingly full head of hair that needs to be washed, but I was too scared bc he is so wriggly and slippery! Now that we can give him actual baths we usually do it 2x/week.

      1. Legalchef*

        Meant to add, once he is old enough to start playing in the tub (as opposed to just sitting in his bath seat the way he does now) we will give him baths more frequently.

    5. No, please*

      I did baths with soap every two to three days. But I found my son made lots of messes so it eventually turned into any time he needs. Sometimes two baths in one day. Congratulations!

    6. Amy*

      At that age my little human only got bathed about once per week, with bonus baths thrown in if she had a poo explosion. They’re not really doing much at that age that would cause them to get dirty, plus too much bathing can irritate their skin. We didn’t move to more frequent baths until she started solids and started getting really sticky. Congratulations on your new person!

    7. Jessi*

      I’m a nanny who is trained as a maternity nurse (Infant care specialist is the US equivalent i think?). Your tiny human doesn’t need daily bathing. I would start with twice a week in a time frame where he seems calm and see how he does? If he likes it and you like it then feel free to increase the bathing :) Since he is so small, I wouldn’t worry about using any soap/baby products and would just wash him in warm water.

      Protips: some babies love the bath but scream when you get them out – this has to do with it being really jarring to get out of a nice warm bath and be cold (low body fat) so bathing the tiny humans in a warm place can help with this

      Congrats on your baby

    8. TotesMaGoats*

      My human is almost four but we bathed him every day or almost every day after the cord fell off. He loved it. (Maybe why at 18 months he was holding his breath and going under water in the pool.) We use the calming bath stuff with lavender and do it at night. Part of our sleep routine.

      1. Merci Dee*

        I used the lavender and chamomile wash and lotion on my daughter at bedtime, too. She lived it. For the first several weeks she was home, I’d get some warm water mixed with the lavender and chamomile wash and use it to give her a good wipe-down with a soft cloth, but then we switched to baths with a little baby tub. She loved to kick and splash, and then she’d just yaaaaawn when I massaged the lotion on. She slept like a baby …. heh heh.

        Interestingly, I still keep a bottle of that lavender and chamomile lotion in my desk at work. When I get stressed, or people start getting on my nerves, I’ll rub some of that lotion on my hands, and think of how sweet my kiddo smelled when she was small. Calms me down every time.

    9. Call me St. Vincent*

      I don’t think you need to give them a bath every day, but definitely after a big poop I would. I actually found that having a bath routine in the evening was good for establishing a bedtime ritual (even really really young). Even though they don’t really need it at that point, it was helpful to have routine. We give our girl (now about to turn 2–how did that happen??) a bath every night and have since she was tiny. She knows that after dinner it’s bath time, story time, potty time, teeth brushing and bed. I think starting her young with the routine of the bath at night helped us get a good rhythm. I highly recommend the 4moms infant tub. That worked great for us in the sink and has a built in temperature gauge.

    10. AlaskaKT*

      I washed my daughter about once a week unless she got exceptionally dirty at that age. I probably would have washed her more if I had a well and consistent water access.

      Now at almost 1, we have a water reservoir and rain catchment so we do a shower every other day, and wash with soap every other shower. We don’t have a bathtub here, but she loves the shower!

    11. Maya Elena*

      Buy an infant bath with a seat for baby- an excellent investment and makes bathing much easier than in a sink or regular big tub.

      We have done almost every day since 2-3 weeks, in part to establish a ritual, in part because it was a hot sweaty summer. Also helped with the baby acne.

    12. SoManyNamesInTenYears*

      The replies here totally shock me! I didn’t realize there was such disparity with bathing babies/children. I bathed both of my children nightly unless an illness or traveling or maybe a late nite party prevented it. They’re now 30 and 24. And I’m about to be a grandma! I loved bathtime and so did my children. Congratulations on your new addition :-)

  14. Mallows*

    Eclipse 2017! Where’d you go? How was it?

    We went to Nebraska rather than paying $900/night to stay in WY. Drove to a tiny tiny town to get as close to the center as we could. We sat on the village hall steps, across the street from a grill literally called The Watering Hole, with trains going by on one side and an American flag plonked in the dirt road on the other and sunflowers everywhere. Americana! 2.5 minutes of totality was worth every penny and minute and mile.

    1. Bryce*

      I visited my parents down in Bend, which was unfortunately smoked out (and it’s gotten worse since I left) from the fire NW of town near Sisters. It was a river of smoke on top of us but clear in totality so we turned on the air filters, played a lot of scrabble, and amused ourselves by watching the traffic maps for Madras and on east. Then on the day of the eclipse we snuck up a side road into Prineville, absolutely no traffic, pulled into a lot that was empty because everyone had jammed themselves into a lot across the street, and had a “VIP area” viewing.

      Absolutely astounding. The best way I can describe it for folks who couldn’t get to totality is: you know those crisp photos that have gone around? Not the ones with a black dot and some glare that look like daytime because the exposure had to be cranked up, but the REALLY crisp ones where it’s a hole surrounded by woven streams of fire-fluff and you can see a few spurts of plasma reaching outside the moon’s cover like it’s some volcano’s lava that just went bloop? That’s what it looked like, hanging there in a world that was suddenly night. Too crisp to be real.

      1. misspiggy*

        I think that’s the best description I’ve seen! I’ve only ever seen partial eclipses, so this will have to do me for the moment.

      2. Mallows*

        Yes, I know the fires presented problems out there. I love the Madras area, think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the country, but by the time we made concrete plans there was no housing or camping to be had (the friend I saw it with is from OR).

        1. Bryce*

          That’s a shame you couldn’t make it. I’m waiting for a post-mortem on the event, things were crowded but not the people apocalypse that everyone feared, so I’m curious if all the reservations wound up filled or if people didn’t bother or changed plans. The big thing was that while the totality zones had people, the two big events in Prineville didn’t let folks out once they went in so business was limited, and the spots outside totality like Bend were empty; the locals all stayed home fearing crowds, and the non-locals didn’t go touristing outside their campsites nearly as much as anticipated.

          I grew up in the high desert of New Mexico so trips out there feel like a great big welcome home. Usually we do a lot of yardwork and hikes when I visit, so this time had us bouncing off the walls a bit looking for things to do that wouldn’t set off anyone’s asthma.

        2. hermit crab*

          I’m also really curious how the big events were in Madras & nearby.

          We were west of there in the John Day Fossil Beds national monument. No smoke, luckily! We were visiting friends in the Tri-Cities who had a camper, so we just drove down there and parked in a field overnight (woohoo free disbursed camping on BLM lands). There were people around but not tons of them. Though on the way back, we stopped in Condon for ice cream and holy cow all the businesses there were making bank.

          1. Bryce*

            The smoke was blowing southeast from Sisters so it went directly over Bend but the totality zone was crystal clear. On Wednesday something shifted and that whole area filled up with thick smoke for my drive home.

            As for the events themselves, the festivals were packed but I’ve only heard happy things coming out of the people I know who went, the organizers apparently organized appropriately for the crowds. The big Symbiosis event east of Prineville (confusingly titled Oregon Eclipse) was a parking lot from the town to the event site. We’re talking three+ hours to go a couple of miles, there’s a reason they didn’t let people leave once they were in to reduce traffic. Other than that the buzz we heard from other events was “packed but managable.” As I said above, the towns didn’t get nearly as much tourist spillover as they anticipated, breweries in the main area were crowded but Bend had their slowest business weekend of the year, and after scheduling extra shifts and stores getting extra stock and such. Not great.

            From what I’ve heard for the eclipse itself the main highways were pretty busy, but if you knew the back roads it was fine. There’s one highway south from Prineville that Les Schwab built back in the day so his trucks could get to 20 without needing to do a gas-guzzling loop, it’s the kind of thing that only the factory and the locals know about, and we had a clear drive up to Prineville from there at about 8am (eclipse started ~9 our time, totality at 10:20). People lined the roads once we got to the edge of town, but it;s the desert; as long as you don’t pull onto dry grass and start a fire, there’s space for everyone.

      3. hermit crab*

        Spot-on description. I was honestly skeptical that it would be that amazing (because how can 95% of something be so different than 100% of something?) but it was. Like a big hole in the sky — the blackest black you have ever seen. And in real life it’s a lot bigger than the pictures, too.

        Annie Dillard wrote that “Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him, or as flying in an airplane does to falling out of an airplane. Although the one experience precedes the other, it in no way prepares you for it.”

      4. ThursdaysGeek*

        What an excellent description. This was my second eclipse, and it filled me with awe. A partial eclipse, while interesting, really doesn’t even begin to compare to totality.

        I was at a co-worker’s cabin in central Idaho. What surprised me was we drove through Baker City on the Sunday before and the traffic was normal, and I saw motels that still had vacancies. Everyone drove home at once, so the traffic on the way back was a mess (and we drove north, so avoided a lot of it).

    2. Fiennes*

      I went to Nashville and watched in a suburban park. Plenty of people around but it wasn’t crowded. We had plenty of shade to sit in and no cloud issues at all. It was fantastic – so worth the drive!

      1. Mallows*

        That’s awesome. Next time around I might seek out a park – it might be amazing to experience it with more people – all in awe, all forgetting if just for a minute the troubles of the real world.

      2. moss*

        We were in Nashville too! We got a hotel room near the Grand Ole Opry in January. Spent the day of hanging out in the pool. The hotel provided glasses and there were about 4-5 other families & groups there. It was very low key and chill and so much fun! We had some clouds but got lucky with a cloud hole right at totality! I will never forget the sight.

    3. Mischa*

      It was a disaster in my area. Clouds and more heavy clouds (we conveniently had a thunderstorm brewing overhead during totality). But it did get dark — streetlights came on, cicadas started doing their nighttime routine. That was pretty cool, though I wish I could’ve seen it.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I went to Arnold MO, to my mum’s house. The city was in totality, and how handy that she happens to live there. :D We had clear skies, thank goodness; it kept raining here the week before and I was scared it would all move east, but it went south and then pooped out.

      It was really awesome–some chat friends of mine from Europe were in St. Louis for the event so we invited them down to watch it with us. My uncle showed up and we had a very nice visit. The only bad part was sleeping in Mum’s (finished) basement–I didn’t mind being downstairs, but the air mattress slowly deflated and I might as well have been on the floor. Plus, Aunt Flo tagged along, and all day Sunday, I felt AWFUL. I came back on Monday evening because my uncle’s car broke down and I just could not face another night on that damn mattress. Ugh.

      But totality was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I need to get my blog post up today.

      1. Mallows*

        Aw man, sorry the accommodations were not comfy and that ill-timed Aunt Flo showed up! I suspect a lot of people felt not so great on Tuesday, judging from the eclipse parties I saw ;-)

    5. Mimmy*

      My husband went to Missouri to see the eclipse because on of his friends hosted a get-together with some classmates on this guy’s farm. It apparently was cloudy and rainy all morning, making the event a possible bust. But then the clouds parted just enough for the full eclipse to be visible – my husband said it was “indescribable”.

      Meanwhile, I was back home in New Jersey, which got roughly 75% coverage, maybe a tad less. I was at my job and the peak was luckily during my afternoon break. So as soon as the period ended, I dashed downstairs to try to take a peek outside. It wasn’t as dramatic as I’d expected, but through the special glasses, it was neat seeing the sun 3/4 covered. Thank goodness I had my glasses because no one else had any (the director said he was going to get some…I guess he forgot), so several of the women passed my glasses around. The social worker was so giddy – she was all, “It’s so BEAUTIFUL!!” and was practically shoving the case manager out the door to see for herself.

      I also watched the DVR recording of the national live coverage on CBS – every time they showed the moment of totality in the various locations, I got chills. One reporter was almost speechless. You better believe I’m going to find a way to see the 2024 eclipse!!!!

      1. Bryce*

        My mother was initially planning to skip it, but got caught up as the year’s prep went on. Her first thought after it ended was “Where can I see it again.” I think we’ve got another eclipse chaser.

      2. Amadeo*

        I was texting with a friend in Pittsburgh while I worked the event at my university of employment. ‘Beautiful’ and ‘indescribable’ about cover it, really. We got a little less than 2 minutes of totality and I did text her at totality going “OMG it’s BEAUTIFUL”. About as bright as the full moon in the same color sky as a full moon, but a dark circle with a reddish flare ring and then the corona, white and glowy. Sunset for 360 degrees. Katydids and crickets singing at 1:21pm for 2 minutes.

        I felt like a kid at Christmas the closer it got. That was something special and we’re in the path of totality again for 2024, with 4 minutes then.

        1. Bryce*

          What surprised me was how bright the sun is. Even when it was down to an ember with the eclipse glasses, and the light all around was a twilight, it was still too bright to look at directly or tell it was any smaller.

          1. Amadeo*

            Yeah, I was still watching with naked eyes when the diamond ring made its second appearance and it was bright like an arc weld, so of course the glasses went back on. The light quality got really funny once it was about 2/3s of the way across, but it was still bright. I loved looking at the shadows between the leaves, too.

      3. Mallows*

        It WAS indescribable, at least for me. I can describe the surroundings but honestly just remembering the moment of totality makes me choke up a little. Have you seen the video of Tom Skilling – a meteorologist and evidently a major Chicago institution? He was in tears, hugging and high-fiving strangers. Yes, get thee in the path of totality for 2024. I am already planning where I will plant myself ;-)

    6. Liane*

      Me & College Kids went to Petit Jean Mountain State Park in Arkansas, which was 90% totality. ( It will be in the 100% totality in 2024.) It was very cool. They had 2 telescopes set up, one connected to a TV monitor, plus viewing glasses–not the counterfeits**. They were very good–you could see the sun disc through them even when a cloud obscured it. It didn’t get completely dark of course, but the blue of the sky took on a slightly gray color and there was something odd about the light.
      I’d read on the internet that sun shining through leaves would make crescents on the ground, just like the view in a pinhole camera. And it’s true! That was amazing.

      **We seemed to have a big problem with counterfeit glasses in our area. My son told us that the grocery store he & his sister work at (part of a very large chain) had to recall all of theirs, which we had planned to buy. Both the school district and library system had to “recall” all the ones they gave away.

      1. Mallows*

        Yes, I had a serious panic attack the week before the eclipse when the articles about counterfeit glasses/brands/safety designations came out. There were none to be had at that point. Thankfully the ones I had bought were okay. And my dad took pix of those crescent shadows! I had no idea what they were until he told me.

      2. Bryce*

        We weren’t in a good place for natural pinholes (needles rather than leaves) but we likes looking at the shadows anyway. They got incredibly crisp as the sun shrunk down to a dot of light.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        My mum had a pair when I got to her house, but I could not verify the manufacturer so I made her use my extra pair. I had three–one for me, one for her, and one I cut up to make filters for my [stupid] cameras. I got mine from an American Astronomical Society-approved vendor. My nephew’s wife (who was not with us) has been having some eye pain and I hope like hell hers were not counterfeit. :(

    7. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)*

      We went to visit friends in Dallas, OR. Haven’t seen them in a few years, do we went down Saturday morning and stayed through Tuesday. Their new cat LURVES me; 90% of the time when I sat down, within seconds the cat was in my lap.

      My reply when someone asked how long totality was there was, “Forever, and not long enough.”

    8. This Daydreamer*

      I was just a bit north of Idaho Falls, next to some little gas station that didn’t have a working restroom. There were probably fifteen of us there in the middle of nowhere.

      It was awesome. It was beautiful and eerie and so much cooler than I expected.

      The rest of the trip has been in Yellowstone. We had a long drive (should have made reservations much sooner) but it’s been a blast. In the morning we have to head back to Salt Lake, spend a short night there, then fly back to Virginia way too early in the morning.

        1. This Daydreamer*

          Do it. It’s amazing. I do recommend that you go when school is in session and not right after an eclipse, but it was wonderful even with all of the crowds.

    9. Chaordic One*

      The state of Wyoming is so odd to start with. It is the least populated state in the U.S. (Although Alaska has more people, they are spread out over a much larger area, so Wyoming is only the second most sparsely populated state.) It has a population of about 585,000 people and I’ve heard reports that because of the eclipse the population increased by an additional 500,000 to 1,000,000 people. Anyway, there were a lot of extra people here.

      I took the morning off from work. My two sisters came to visit from out-of-state. They arrived Friday afternoon and stayed until Tuesday morning. On Monday morning it was a bit overcast with clouds blocking the sun, but it still hurt your eyes if you looked up at the clouds the sun was hiding behind, so I was glad that I had bought eclipse glasses from my local chamber of commerce. (Their label said they were from one of the vendors that was approved, so I hope they were O.K.)

      We decided to “shelter-in-place” and to just stay home, so we sat in lawn chairs in my back yard. It seemed like most of my neighbors did the same. Besides my sisters, our parents came over. In spite of the clouds it was still a bright sunny morning. The strangest thing to me was how as the eclipse started, it grew colder. I think that the temperature dropped by about 10 degrees from 75 to 65 or so. My elderly parents got sweaters to put on. It got darker and darker and when it reached totality, I could hear cheers coming from the downtown area about 6 blocks away (where they were having a block party and where the streets were blocked off. I also heard cheers from a nearby public park where small groups of people had assembled. I didn’t notice any of the plants or animals acting oddly. Then it slowly passed.

      When the eclipse started it seemed like the moon came from above the sun at an angle that was slightly to the right of the sun. When the moon got to where it was about two/thirds of the way past the sun, the little piece of sun left uncovered looked like a smiling mouth that then kept getting smaller and smaller until it disappeared and then it was gone, but there was still the eerie glow of the sun’s corona. I don’t think it was quite as dark as night, but still pretty dark, like just after sunset or before sunrise.

      Then the little sliver of sun started appearing at the upper right angle of the sun and it became bigger and bigger and the world became brighter and brighter and it got warmer and warmer. I was glad that my sisters got to come and we had a good visit and glad that they got to see the total eclipse. That afternoon, they decided they’d forgotten a few things at the grocery store and the traffic leaving town was extremely heavy and it took them about an hour to get to the store and back, when it would usually only take about 20 minutes. I’ve heard stories about terrible traffic jams and it taking quite long to get to different places which is very unusual. I had also heard a lot of stories about price gouging for parking and stuff like that, which really sucks.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That cool temperature felt amazing. It was very hot and humid in Arnold and we were sweating buckets. When the temp dropped, a breeze started up too, probably because of the change, and it was so refreshing.

    10. Windchime*

      I work in downtown Seattle. We were in an area of about 93%, so it was really neat but not super dark. A couple people on our team had the special glasses but nobody else could find them (all sold out), so a co-worker brought in his special solar lenses for his giant telescope and people looked through those for an AMAZING view. It was really neat; we had about 75 people on the corner where our team was standing and strangers were sharing glasses, talking and laughing. It didn’t get as dark as I thought it would, but the temperature dropped very quickly by a good 10 degrees and the light got kind of eerie.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Lucy seems pretty happy and adjusted. The others are less sure, but that may be in part to having constant strangers in and out of the house making loud noises (see above). I had sort of assumed that more space would be a positive for them, but of course cats like small, enclosed spaces and I think they need some time to adjust to the size. They like nighttime, when there are no workers and we’re usually in one spot and they can join us there.

      It’s weird not always knowing where they are.

  15. Loopy*

    When you’ve had an had an awful week what’s you’re go to pick me up/mood booster. Trying to find my go to for when I’ve got a down mood that’s hard to shake / mindset I need to get out of.

    Friday I had a great workout and it was an amazing mood booster. Curious for other ideas that might work for me when that’s not an option.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      Doing something nice for myself, even if it’s a small thing. Giving myself permission to be lazy for a few hours and watching something mindless on Netflix or Hulu. Booting up Diablo 3 and killing monsters for awhile. Basically, just something to take my mind off it all for awhile. A walk somewhere pretty if the weather is decent. Browsing a bookstore or library, or walking around a local museum.

      1. Loopy*

        The lazy permission is something I’m trying today. Kind of just letting myself not be guilty about pushing off things I normally do on weekends.

    2. nep*

      It’s always the best medicine for me — working up a sweat.
      I do get a great boost also from losing myself in a good book.
      And don’t underestimate the power of just a couple moments of deep breathing and simple stretching — can do wonders.

      1. Loopy*

        I am actually just getting back into exercising and it hasn’t always been a good experience these first two weeks. I’m hoping if I keep at it, that good exercise feel will be more common. I was shocked it even happened at this stage (the epic struggle of the first month).

        Also books are my go-to. Went to the library today and am already halfway through a book :D

    3. Bryce*

      There’s a rhododendron garden near me that I don’t visit nearly often enough. I always feel like crud when I walk over there and feel amazing when I come back from a mix of the exercise and nature. They’ve done some wonderful design, it’s between a main road and a golf course but is just tucked into a valley so all of that fades away and there’s ducks and geese and associated -lings if the time of year is right and it’s just wonderful.

      1. Loopy*

        Ah I wish I had a place like that! Well I do. It’s just an entire plane ride and two hour drive and then a ferry away D:

    4. Overeducated*

      Just getting out on Saturday and doing something fun. Could be seeing friends or visiting a museum, could just be walking to the farmer’s market, but something distracting and out of my house always helps.

      1. Loopy*

        I used to have that as a go to. I loved being out and about. Oddly, these days sometimes it doesn’t do the trick. So odd!

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      Sorry you’ve had a rough week. Familiar comedy shows (good laughs + no suspense) do it for me.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! Ive found I have a hard time rewatching even things I love. I so envy the ability to do that! :)

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I can’t handle suspense when I’m not feeling so good and my concentration goes. Which is also why I don’t get on with audiobooks.

    6. Hellanon*

      I go to the farmer’s market & buy lovely bits of fruit, sweet fresh herbs, fresh flowers – all the things I normally “treat” myself to in my regular practical I-pack-my-lunch-everyday shopping. I find thirty minutes thinking about the merits of orange peppers as opposed to purple one to be marvelously soothing. Or I clean – I may still feel like crap when I finished, but it is an accomplished feeling of crap, and at least I no longer have the reminder of depression staring at me from every flat surface in the house.

      1. Loopy*

        I like the idea of being productive so even if the thing doesn’t work- at least you got some productivity out of the attempt!

    7. Courtney*

      Reading a good book or some new bath/body/makeup products and pampering myself are my main go tos. Sorry it’s been a tough week.

      1. Loopy*

        Ooooh I got a great book but now I’m off to put on some of my absolute favorite amazing smelling lotion thanks to the second half of your suggestion!!!

    8. Asterix*

      Music. Spotify, even the free version gives so many options. I find it to be the easiest mood lifter.

      1. Loopy*

        Oh thats a good one!!! I LOVE upbeat danceable music. I have ample time alone in the house for one person dance parties. I should ask for dance like a fool music recs but I’ve already posted this and one other thread! Next week!

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          You can post again – nobody will mind!

          I will start you off with some of my favourites for a one-person sing-along-a-cheese-fest: No Diggity by Blackstreet, Hey Ya by Outkast, Pump It by the Black-Eyed Peas, and All Rise by Blue*.

          *I wasn’t kidding about the cheese!

    9. HannahS*

      Personally, it’s my favourite comfort meal for dinner (usually buttered toast, tea, and an apple) and either a romance novel or a relaxing movie. I’m not really a shake-it-off kind of person when I’m feeling low; I’m much more of a treat-me-like-I’m-sick.

    10. ScoutFinch*

      Turning up The Kings’ “The Beat Goes On/Switching To Glide” real loud and doing a small cleaning/organizing project so that I can feel that I accomplished SOMETHING in a bad week.

  16. AvonLady Barksdale*

    In the ICU with my grandmother. My mother went home just as I got here. Grandmom is on the mend but suffers from terrible anxiety and refuses the treatment she needs to recover. Grandpop is anxious and doesn’t sleep. Friends and family have been wonderful. One positive thing in all this: crisis breeds honesty, and now I know that the family feels the same way about my mother that I do. Small mercies, right? Sigh.

    1. ..Kat..*

      Hi. ICU nurse here. I recommend talking with the charge nurse on the unit. Explain that Grandmom has terrible anxiety even when not ill. Ask them to keep that in mind when assigning nurses to Grandmom. And then, make sure those nurses know how much you appreciate them!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thanks! We moved to a room yesterday afternoon. All of our nursing care here has been phenomenal; the nurses they assigned her were all excellent, perfect for her– very experienced.

        She’s emotionally better today, but managing the recovery of an 87-year-old self-absorbed picky eater is… trying. With a narcisstic daughter trying to manage things from 1500 miles away.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      At the airport now, heading home. I am exhausted. I want to drink a very big glass of wine and curl up with my doggy. I am usually a good and clear-headed caregiver, but handling two stubborn elderly people who will not listen to doctors has drained me. I nearly walked out over a cracker (long story, but basically NOT ALLOWED).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        We are each responsible for how our lives play out right up to our last day. It’s not easy to think about and often older people don’t think about it.

        I would go spoon feed my mother who refused to eat, pocketed and so on. Lunch, of course was at noon, by 2:30 she had eaten half a sandwich with my prodding. I felt horribly guilty about leaving her there but my father was in another hospital 45 minutes away and he would actually eat his food, if I cut it up for him. Then there was stuff at the house that needed my attention. I was doing 20-22 hour days and not getting anywhere.

        That is when it dawned on me. (Lack of sleep took away my ability to think clearly at all times.) It’s not up to me to “make” another person eat, even if that person is my parent. When my turn comes and I am old the same will apply to me. It’s not up to anyone to make me eat. And it’s not just eating it’s also self-care. I am responsible for what is happening to me right up to the end. And so was my mother. A harsh truth, but there it is.
        My take away was that I needed to start learning to accept help and be more active in helping myself.

      2. Vancouver Reader*

        I hope got to do as you pleased when you home. I’m to the point with my 80 year old dad and 84 year old f-i-l that they’re going to do whatever they want regardless of what anyone tells them, so I save my breath.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Ain’t that the truth. Our issue at the moment is that due to the nature of her surgery, my grandmother can only have liquids, and she wants solids very badly (who can blame her for that), so she’s refusing the liquids. She has never been a reasonable person, and she has never done anything that makes her uncomfortable, so she has no resolve. As in, she doesn’t care that healing is a process, she doesn’t care that liquids today = solids tomorrow. She just wants a cracker today. OK, I sympathize, but too bad. Then my grandfather, her Great Enabler, tells me to go get her a cracker. I nearly raised holy hell at him, but I simply refused and said absolutely not. If she wants salt, I will give her something salty, but I will not go against doctors’ orders, and if he wants to give her a cracker, he can get it himself. He is mobile and walks without the assistance of anything more than a walking stick– but he also does not want the responsibility of giving her something she’s not supposed to have, so he puts it on me. As far as my grandfather is concerned, the only person that matters is my grandmother. As far as my grandmother is concerned, the only person that matters is my grandmother. Then my mother tries to control everything from afar and treats the rest of us like we’re idiots. If I may say so, I am very good at talking to doctors, nurses, PAs, and various therapists– I ask questions, I make sure we’re clear on things, I discuss options– and my mother thinks that just because she’s an MD, she’s smarter than all of us and can swoop in, take over, and give orders.

          One thing I’m very, very glad I did this weekend, though– I made my grandfather discuss their funeral plans with me. But it’s almost like stocking an arsenal so I’m prepared to argue with my mother about their wishes.

          Whoa, that was a vent. I guess I needed it. :) Anyway– my boyfriend picked me up from the airport and we went straight to our local pizza spot, where bottles of wine are 1/2 price on Sundays. I took advantage. Then I slept through most of GoT, but that’s what DVRs are for.

  17. Courageous cat*

    Has anyone had a Brazilian blowout more recently (aka OSHA approved, or formaldehyde free, or whatever)? I know they used to be considered dangerous, but I’m trying to figure out if that’s still the case, and all I can find is a lot of sensationalist stuff.

    I have been trying to grow out my hair for years but now that it’s down to my chest, my frizzy coarse hair has me at the end of my rope. :( No product has helped.

    1. No, please*

      Have you tried a clear demo-permanent color. A lot my clients with coarse or frizzy hair would get the clear color for the softening and smoothing benefits. There was no ammonia and it doesn’t alter your color, natural or colored.

        1. No, please*

          It’s worth a try. It’s much cheaper, for one thing. It doesn’t process your hair like a permanent color. It just lays down a clear layer that adds shine and longevity to previously colored or virgin hair. But if you want straightening then it’s not the answer. It mostly helps with frizz in my experience. A Brazilian blow out will most likely damage your hair more than a semipermanent color.

    2. neverjaunty*

      The FDA and OSHA recommend that you ask your salon professional what products they use, and ask to see the MSDS (materials safety data sheets). They recommend avoiding products containing formaldehyde, formalin, or methylene glycol. It’s not 100% guaranteed, given that at least one product manufacturer in the past lied about what was in their blowout, but at least you be able to weed out the obviously bad stuff (or any salon that gives you crap about asking).

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I feel you on the frizz. I have not had this treatment, but I’m on the third day of a blowout my stylist did with the blow drier after color touch-up on Wednesday. I can usually make it last three days before I have to wash it, sometimes four, but I’ve been working out. I can’t do this myself very well yet so when she does it, I milk it for as long as possible LOL.

      This is what my hair looks like after my stylist does it. I wish she could do this for me every damn day. i.imgur.com/ZaE8lyX.jpg

      This is what it looks like usually.

      My salon is Kevin Murphy and I love their Smooth Again smoothing stuff and Repair Me leave-in, but they’re mega-expensive. I only wash my hair a couple of times a week; if I have to do it more, I just co-wash with conditioner only. Once a week, I use Hask’s argan oil deep conditioner in the packet. It doesn’t cost much and you can get it at Walmart.

      Recently, I found out that Hask also has shampoo and conditioner, and it’s also available at Walmart! I use that with Garnier leave-in conditioner and the Garnier smoothing milk, and my hair will stay somewhat controllable until I wash it again, unless it’s really humid.

      1. Courageous cat*

        You have such nice hair! I bet it’s as much of a pain in the ass as mine! Haha. Thanks for the recommendations, I will look into those.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Thank you! It’s a huuuuuuuuge pain in the ass; my mum has curly hair and I got the texture and frizz but not the curl. :P Plus I am not a natural blonde, plus a lot of it is grey now underneath the blonde so making it look decent gives me fits sometimes.

    4. Mimmy*

      I just had it done in, I think, late June. I had no idea that I had to be mindful of the chemicals used in the products. I still have the original shampoo and conditioner bottles (which were hella expensive!) that I got with the treatment, so I’ll check the ingredients.

      1. Mimmy*

        Oh, a related question: Prior to the blowout, I’ve been getting keratin straightening treatments, usually once or twice a year. How does that compare in terms of product safety?

  18. Red*

    Many things are happening in my life right now, one of which is that my grandfather spent a day in the hospital and was then discharged, but not to home. To a nursing home. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming, but I also was so not ready for this. It happened in the middle of one hell of a depressive episode, too. Ugh. My grandma is a mess over it, but I don’t have it in me to properly deal with my own problems, much less hers, so I don’t know how to help. Any ideas?

    1. Lazy Cat*

      Look for any local resources focused on seniors – does the town or county have any support programs? If they attend church, lots of churches have a pastor who focused on seniors outreach. A hospice organization may know of resources for her (or be a resource themselves), even if your grandfather is stable now.

      Good thoughts to you and your family.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      First and foremost, remember, you can’t fix this. Hang on to this thought. The best we can do is give little helps here and there.
      Decide on how you will help. Maybe get groceries or bring grandma a meal she can warm up. If grandma does not drive, maybe you can set up days that you go get her and take her where she wants to go. You can also consider walking the dog or helping around the house on Saturday mornings. Simple gestures can be hugely meaningful.

      Help grandma find peers. This could be other older people having a similar experience or it could be by encouraging her to contact her church (if she has any affiliation). You can do this subtly. Let’s say grandma needs a ride to an appointment at a time you would be working. Start making suggestions of friend, neighbors, church people and look for a free ride service for seniors medical needs. You can help her build a pool of resources that she can use for this stage of life.

      Usually, the spouse wants to go see their spouse in the nursing home every day. Then they start getting tired, really tired. Watch for this and encourage her that every other day is totally fine. Grandpa needs rest also, so he will rest on days she does not go.

    3. ..Kat..*

      Ask the social worker at the nursing home for ideas. Good luck. Do what you can, but take care of yourself.

  19. Kit*

    I’m on vacation! For the first time in years! And thank goodness, as I’m starting to burn out a little bit. Tips for maximizing recreation so as not to feel like I was run off my feet on my vacation, while also not feeling like I slept through it? I’m going to Toronto if you guys have any specific recommendations.

    1. Red*

      I went to Toronto a few years ago, and what I did was plan one thing to do each day. One day I went to the zoo, one day I went to the science center, etc. The rest of each day was spent wandering around Toronto. It was both relaxing and exciting.

    2. Torontonian*

      I live in Toronto! Go to the Toronto Exhibition! It’s open now until September 4. The Ex is an annual fair type thing with rides and crazy food and lots of shopping and displays. It’s not expensive to get in, and you can easily spend a whole day there.

      The AGO is great if you want to see art, especially Canadian and First Nations art. Ditto for the ROM. Kensington Market is a fun neighbourhood to wander through (full of food!) It kind of depends what part of the city you’re staying in though… there are a lot of places that are fun to wander around in.

    3. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Royal Ontario Museum. It’s gorgeous. Used to have a membership when I lived in the city. If you like heights the CN Tower is impressive. If you like shopping malls the Eaton Centre is a big place right on the subway. Tickets to a Blue Jays game can be pretty reasonable.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      If the weather’s nice, spend an afternoon in High Park. The Toronto Islands can be a nice side trip, but I think they had a really bad flood year, so a bunch of the stuff’s not open.

      I second the science centre, ROM and AGO, for museumy stuff. The Bata shoe museum if you like oddball museums.

    5. mazingcarocaro*

      Toronto island is amazing. Queen west has lots of hipster shopping and good food. Trinity Bellwoods is good for people watching. Ossington is another hipster strip with Bellwoods Brewery and I love Odd Seoul for modern Korean. The AGO is a wonderful museum and don’t miss the Canadian and native art. I recommend following up the museum with dim sum at Asian Legend. Everything with a picture on the menu is a

    6. HannahS*

      I’m from TO and grew up close by–I literally moved away today!
      My favourite on-foot, outdoor attractions: Kensington Market, Chinatown (those two are next to each other). The Distillery District, west Queen West, Harbourfront (check for concerts/cultural events in the Music Garden and at the Harbourfront Centre), Black Creek Pioneer Village, walking along the Humber River from James Garden to the Old Mill.

      My favourite on-foot, indoor attractions: the Royal Ontario Museum, the science centre, the McMichael Gallery (not actually in Toronto, but great if you like the Group of Seven and a heavy focus on Aboriginal art).

      Seated activities adjacent to interesting areas: exploring High Park and seeing an outdoor Shakespeare play; this year it’s either King Lear or Twelfth Night. Seeing the ROM and then going Koerner Hall for a concert. Exploring the Distillery District and catching a play at SoulPepper.

  20. nep*

    Thoughts go out to AAMers in Harvey’s path.
    And big thanks to the first responders and all others who are helping people.
    Really struck the other day by a photo of men and women helping to evacuate babies in neo-natal ICU who were in the path of the storm. Wow.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      When Sandy hit NYC a few years ago, I got to hear a first hand account of how they evacuated patients from one of the hospitals from a nurse that worked there. It’s nuts and I am praying for all the people in Harvey’s path.

    2. Mimmy*

      I’m no where near Harvey’s path, but watching the footage and seeing everyone’s FB posts is so heartbreaking. I have one close friend who lives just outside of Houston. While she’s still safe in her apartment (second floor, thankfully), she knows it’s going to be long haul with all the flooding. She has enough on her plate already, so I could use some positive vibes for her.

    3. Project Manager*

      My mom’s company will force employees to use their paid time off for those days the office is closed and the roads are impassable (that’s what they did for Ike – the office didn’t even have power). Can we all agree this is a total dick move?

      (Luckily, my employer does not pull that kind of crap.)

  21. KR*

    My dog doesn’t want to eat and his allergy shot has stopped being helpful for him. He’s back in the cone. So I started up the Apoquel again and I’m going to go buy him wet food to see if it’s more appetizing to him. For the past day or so I’ve had to convince him to eat and he hasn’t finished his food (still wants treats and Dentastix though…..) and this morning he was flat out Not Interested in eating. He’s 11 so any sign of not eating worries me and I’m getting so sick of taking him to the vet. I can’t wait until my husband is home from deployment so he can take over the pet health issues and vet appointments and medicine and symptom management. I am burnt out doing it all myself.

    On an related note he also was trying to get up the stairs last night and got stuck and started crying and needed me to help lift him so he could get his back legs up the last couple of stairs. Adopting a senior dog is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made but it’s scary not knowing how much time he has left.

    1. Hellanon*

      Have you tried feeding him cat food? It’s not a longterm strategy but cat food is higher protein and more strongly scented, so dogs tend to think it’s a treat.

    2. Cookie D'oh*

      I’m so sorry. Dealing with pet health issues is so hard, especially because they’re not able to communicate what they’re feeling.

      I use a probiotic called Forti Flora for my cats and they love it on their wet food. I’ve seen a version for dogs. I wonder if sprinkling it on his food might help.

      1. KR*

        Ooh, good idea. I will look for it. I’m really trying to make things comfortable and enjoyable for him
        He hates the vet and his cone but he’s so miserable I just don’t know what else to do seeing as in order for him not to be in the cone right now I have to be right beside him pushing his head away when he goes to lick his hot spot which is large and all red – which I obviously can’t do all the time.

        1. Tuesday*

          My dog had to be in a cone for a while and she could not figure it out. Just kept running into things and then she’d get scared and stand completely still. I ended up buying one of the inflatable collars despite being told it wouldn’t work for a big dog with a hind leg injury because she’d be able to reach around it. But it totally worked and while I’m sure she didn’t like it, it didn’t ruin her life like the cone seemed to. She could basically lie down any way she wanted with it on and it didn’t impact her ability to walk through doorways normally, which wasn’t the case with the cone.

          They call it an E-collar and I got it at my local pet shop. I can see where it wouldn’t work for an especially determined dog, but it might be an option that will be less stressful for your dog than the cone of shame is.

    3. Turtlewings*

      No idea the size of your dog or location of his problem spot, but an alternative to the cone that I’ve seen with cats and small dogs is putting them in a baby onesie. Even with a larger dog you might be able to put some kind of clothing on him and take off the cone.

      Best of luck to you, sick pets are so hard.

      1. KR*

        He’s 45 lbs and about the size of a Springer spaniel. His hot spot is on his groin/leg arm-pit area and he has another one under his tail. I don’t think a onsie would fit him (super big chest) but maybe a small woman’s body suit. He doesn’t mind clothes so that’s something to consider. Good idea!!

        1. Gaia*

          My vet gave me these wipes for my dog’s spots. They were medicated wipes that I’d use twice a day. It cleared up hot spots so fast. We shaved the areas nearly down to the skin (he looked ridiculous but if they are under fur they have to be shaved or the spots will stay hot and wet and that = infection. I think the medication on the wipes made him less prone to lick but we’d wake up the next day with the spots nearly gone. I can’t remember the name now but they came in a round container that reminded me of face wipes.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Have you tried a veterinary chiropractor? I found a person who does chiropractic and Eastern medicine. She may come to your house rather than you going to the office. (Just not having to drive the animal around can be some relief.)
      If they have more than one modality ( for ex: chiro and Eastern med) that they are using they can help with allergies as well as help with moving around.

      1. KR*

        I’m honestly considering a mobile vet with how much he has to go. It would be less stressful for him and less of a hassle for us since his vet is 40 minutes away (he loves car rides thank goodness). I’m in a rural area but I’ll look into if services like you recommended for him

    5. LCL*

      My dog is going through the intermittent not eating thing right now. We had one limited vet visit to check his mouth which was fine, more diagnostic work recommended for other concerns. What is working is heating up some chicken or beef stock in the microwave, pouring it on the kibble and letting it soften, then hand feeding him the resulting mush.

      1. KR*

        I just gave him a pig skin and he dug right in. I also inspected his teeth and there’s no change. I just think he doesn’t have an appetite because of his spot. :/

        1. LCL*

          Yeah, I had one itchy scratchy dog that would lose her appetite when she was having an outbreak.

          A different dog was prescribed neo predefined for a hotspot and it was a miracle drug for her. But her issue was stress related, not allergies.

    6. LAI*

      Oh no, I’m so sorry! This raised alarm bells for me because my dog is incredibly food motivated and the only time in his life that he wasn’t hungry was when he had a ruptured disc in his spine and needed emergency surgery. He would have been paralyzed for life without it. It might just be normal arthritis with getting older for your dog, but if he won’t eat, he might be in more pain than he’s letting on.

    7. HeatherB*

      We have a 10 year old German Shepherd and he’s on apoquel which really seems to help. Another thing that helped tremendously was putting him on a raw meat diet. We buy it online from BarfWorld. It’s expensive but he’s always been a VERY picky eater (or not interested in food at all) and he loves it. It might be more affordable if you have a smaller dog though. It’s also helped his skin/itchiness, he has a noticeable increase in energy and surprisingly the shedding has dramatically decreased – bonus! He acts like he’s 4 years younger. We also give him plant enzymes/probiotics. I buy the Animal Essentials brand at chewy.com. They have also helped so much. Also at night I put a sardine on his food and that helps him eat more as well. Good luck with your doggie! xoxo

    8. Gaia*

      One thing my vet recommended when my dog wouldn’t eat (he was picky and sometimes just decided not to eat) was to rub honey on his gums. They fall into a cycle: they don’t eat so their blood sugar drops so they aren’t hungry so they don’t eat so their blood sugar stays low so they aren’t hungry…..If you can break this cycle and raise their blood sugar a bit it can stimulate hunger and get them to eat again (although it doesn’t solve the underlying issue that made them stop eating to begin with).

      YMMV but good luck

  22. Roseberriesmaybe*

    Can you describe your style in one line? I’m interested in how people express themselves through their clothes

    1. Red*

      “I’m not naked, appreciate it”
      I tend to wear t-shirts and jeans almost exclusively. I just don’t care about clothes. My thing is my hair. It’s bright red, curly, and short and it’s perfect. That’s my style, my hair.

    2. Hellanon*

      Business creative – jeans or simple trousers with interesting jackets/coats, low heeled boots or ballet flats. It’s easy to shop for, comfortable, and having a statement piece of some sort makes me feel pulled together.

    3. anonak*

      I have some cute clothes, but the require effort to put together or need to be washed, so I’ll wear the same boring stuff I usually do.

    4. INTP*

      My aspirational style, what you’d see on my pinterest boards or if I’ve recently been shopping and made an effort: girly minimalist. (On Pinterest I often see it described as “parisian”).

      My more typical day, working from home: Leggings, the same tank top I slept in, like a college senior on finals week lol.

    5. Free Meerkats*

      I’m comfortable.

      Work is a uniform, so I don’t have to think. Not work is kilt and aloha shirt when it’s over 40°, and slacks and usually flannel shirt when it’s cold.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      After the 90s grunge kid grew up?

      I used to have pink hair and piercings. Nowadays I basically live in skinny jeans, quirky prints and my leather jacket. I also like wearing dresses over jeans. And I’ve swapped the plastic jewellery I used to wear for a lot of lasercut acrylic type stuff (Tatty Devine and the like).

    7. ginger ale for all*

      Modcloth inspired, slightly above the knee dresses in happy colors, spiced up with cardigans, some leggings, some tunics, always in flats.

    8. OperaArt*

      Put-together retro/classic/figure-flattering with a bit of “I’m almost 60 and I’ll wear whatever the *#%^ I want.”

    9. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Social convention dictates the wearing of cloth upon my body parts.

      In reality – generic, bland, and dull, but I have a tough body type to fit – tall athletic hourglass – which makes shopping a massive chore, regardless of the “oh the hourglass is the best shape!” bs, because honestly I don’t necessarily WANT to play up curves all the time. Or I feel self concious. Pants are the worst and nothing ever fits right. Or I finally find a pair to sort of fit and then they fall out of shape or I go to buy a second similar pair and they changed the styling. Blah.

    10. Never Nicky*

      All my wardrobe is Lindy Bop, pretty much – so because I am short and rotund I call it retro weeble

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Geek gear by day; Ralph Lauren by night.

      That’s casual (nerd shirts and jeans) vs. what I wear when I have to dress up. I would love to dress better when I lose some weight, and I like autumn-winter fashion better because I have six million scarves and it’s too damn hot here to wear them in summer.

    12. Lady Jay*

      Confident & creative. My dressing philosophy is that if you wear it confidently enough, nobody will think it unfashionable. :)

    13. HannahS*

      A person who, every single year, decides “THIS IS IT I WILL BE A STYLISH YOUNG PERSON” and makes it through a day and a half before nope-ing out and going back to comfortable clothes in various shades of blue.

      (but THIS year, THIS year it’ll be different!)

      1. hermit crab*

        Mine is about half this and half “I got this t-shirt for free.”

        (At work, it is more “I come pre-packaged with cardigan.”)

    14. Bluebell*

      Office: It’s black, it fits nicely, and doesn’t look too bad for a middle aged lady, then add one piece with color. Not office: it’s comfy and doesn’t swim on me.

    15. SC Anonibrarian*

      My clothes mostly say: This is a total introvert who uses her costuming background to stay bland and unnoticed, and prefers to be comfortable rather than fashionable.

    16. Arjay*

      I was a very serious child, so now I’m dressing like a very playful adult. Probably 3/5 days at work, I wear something suitable for an impromptu picnic that never happens.

  23. MsChanandlerBong*

    I had my bone-marrow biopsy on Thursday. It was nothing! I am so mad that I let myself worry so much about it. Honestly, the worst part of the whole thing was trying to find a vein for an IV (my veins are deep, and they like to roll as soon as the nurse/phlebotomist finds one and attempts to put a needle in it). All I felt during the procedure was some pressure. I am pretty bruised, but I have no pain at all, so I am a happy camper. Now we just have to hope that the results are good. I’ve sort of convinced myself that I can’t have blood cancer because I have 929 items on my library wishlist and I just don’t have time to die if I am going to read them all.*

    (I have had life-long medical problems, so I have a morbid sense of humor; apologies if that was too dark.)

    1. fposte*

      I’m so glad to hear that, and it’s a great data point for anyone else facing one. Good luck on the results and on the reading!

    2. Red*

      I’m glad to hear the procedure itself was nothing, and I wish you the best of luck with your results!

    3. Call me St. Vincent*

      Wishing you all the best and I thought your joke was very funny for the record. Morbid sense of humor appreciated.

  24. I am still Furious*

    So impatient for the divorce papers to be ready to signed so they can be served! My attorney’s secretary went on vacation for part of last week, and while I know she deserves her time off, I am very anxious to get on with my life. I’ve been sneaking things to my friend’s house as I can, but honestly, it looks like I’ll have to come back for my desktop computer, printer, and cable company modem (bill is in my name). He was out of the house this morning, so I was able to fill the trunk of my car with little things, like my high school and college graduation certificates, some CD’s, just little things that I want to keep.

    I’m going to miss my cats so very much. My friend is allergic to cats, so I can’t take even one of them with me. I bought a bunch of cat litter and am going to buy enough cat food for at least the next 4 or 5 months before I leave.

    I need to be patient and not do anything that will slow things down or make problems for me. After I go for a long walk this afternoon, I’m going to make the list of bills, who to contact for address changes, find out how to forward my mail via the postal service, and figure out how to change the service with my cable company.

    I didn’t pay the property taxes or buy fuel oil, and his bank account is still overdrawn (found a crumpled up letter on the floor of his car), he has no money, and I have no idea if he’s still working at his part time job or not. I’m not doing anything with these 2 things until my attorney advises. Maybe this could be used as a carrot on the stick for him to just sign and let me go.

    I hope so. I want out so badly I can taste it.

    I just want this to be over.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Sounds like you’re making steps in the right direction. On the cats, do you trust him to take care of them? I wonder if you might be better off trying to re-home them or bringing them to a rescue so they can re-home them. I realize you have lots of other things to worry about, but if you don’t trust him to continue taking care of them, it might relieve a little worry if you could find a good rescue that will take them.

      Sorry you’re going through this and good luck!

    2. Lazy Cat*

      I agree with Other Dawn – is there any way the cats can “run away” to a shelter? I don’t know your whole story, but there are shelters that focus on helping people escape domestic violence *with* their pets, rather than have to leave them behind. They may have recommendations regardless of your situation. Link to follow.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes, agreed – don’t let the cats prevent you from leaving by any means, but it doesn’t sound like leaving them with him is a good option if you have alternatives.

        The postal service in the US has online forms, or you can just go to the post office and grab a form to fill out. HOWEVER, keep in mind that they generally send an address confirmation to your house letting you know about the change, so be prepared to intercept it.

        1. I am still Furious*

          I can’t intercept anything. I work full time, 20 miles away, during the day. We have rural delivery that arrives at various times during the middle of the day, and he’s always home at that time to get the mail, for obvious reasons, like hiding his past due credit card statements, any bank statements, etc. that he has in just his name. He will know where I am, because I don’t want him harassing my elderly mother, but if anything gets past the forwarding service I’ll never see it. He’ll just toss it. Thankfully all the bills I pay are electronic, so I get them in my personal email, and I can get W-2’s on ADP’s site.

          I just wonder what to do about the address for my credit cards, bank account, that type of thing, I’m not going to be at my friend’s house forever, but I’m not sure exactly where I’ll end up, either. Honestly this is stressful!!

          1. neverjaunty*

            You can change those addresses directly with your bank, credit card company, etc – the post office change is a backup for anything you may have missed. Consider getting a post office box or renting a mailbox from a commercial mail place near work (The UPS Store is one big chain). That way you have a stable mailing address regardless of where you are living.

          2. Elizabeth*

            Can you get a short-term post office box? Either at the actual post office or something like a FedEx Office? While the post office would be cheaper, they generally require a longer term rental period.

          3. Update on he wants a baby*

            Maybe late for you to see this, but a PO Box is what I’m doing. I filed the change of address late enough that the forwarding notice wouldn’t get to the house before I moved out. It took about a week, IIRC. I mistimed by a couple of days, so if I were in your shoes I would have lost that mail. My soon to be ex was reasonable enough to pass on the mail.

        2. Liane*

          The online change of address form has a small fee, $1-2, while the paper one is free, so if you do it online you can make sure you are at a secure computer and have your card.

      1. I am still Furious*

        He needs to get off the sofa, which won’t be hard with no internet access and hence no Netflix streaming, and get a job, even if it’s part time at McDonald’s.

    3. I am still Furious*

      If the soon to be ex “I am still Furious” has one redeeming quality, he likes animals, cats in particular, and if the food and cat litter is there, he will take care of them. I don’t doubt that. As far as the rest of it goes, he’s probably going to get some support from me, unfortunately, but he’s going to need to get a job, stop gambling, and actually be a responsible adult.

      1. rj*

        I just moved – if you change your address with USPS and any bank/credit card, they sent you a letter. I think with the banks you could probably call and intercept that as well.
        Good luck. I have been thinking of you.

        1. Liane*

          It may not be possible to stop any of those notices because the purpose is to protect you financially. Even though most credit/bank fraud is now done online, fraudsters (especially small scale and family members) may still file address changes so the victim doesn’t see statements with the evidence.

    4. A question*

      Firstly let me say to Furious that it sounds like you are in a terrible situation, and I am sorry to hear that and hope that it works out for you.

      However I also want to ask why the commentariat excoriated the letter writer a few days ago who ghosted his girlfriend of three years, when it seems like Furious is doing the same thing while being met with far less opprobrium. Correct me if I have the facts wrong, but Furious appears to be setting things up to move out quickly without telling her boyfriend where she is going. There does not appear to be any physical abuse in this relationship and it is more about the boyfriend’s financial behavior. So why was the earlier poster a monster for moving out the same way?

      1. Clouds in My Coffee*

        He’s her husband, not her boyfriend, who has a gambling addiction. These are not the same situations and you seem to be willfully misunderstanding the difference.

      2. Anon in IL*

        He is stealing from her and lying about it. He is putting her financial future in jeopardy.

        She will be serving him with divorce papers — she is not disappearing with no explanation.

        Finally, she says above that he will know where she is, if only so he doesn’t bother her relative about it.

        I Am Furious, I am sorry you are in this situation. I admire your thoughtful planning and hope things work out for the best.

      3. I am still Furious*

        This is nothing at all like the boyfriend ghosting the woman, who is now going to be his boss.

        I have been unhappy for years, and have made my feelings known. He always said he would never sign divorce papers. I never had grounds for divorce before. He has held me hostage for years, and I’m basically just an ATM machine, provider of health insurance, and someone to pay the bills. We do not have a physical relationship. There is no “marriage”. It’s financial servitude for me.

        Now I have a way to get out. For my own physical safety, I will not be here when the constable signs the papers. He will call me on my cell phone, or at work, for sure, and I will tell him where I am and remind him to stay away. If he doesn’t, he will be served with a PFA on top of everything else. I’m telling both my township police officers and my friends local police officers what’s going on so they’re aware. I am also prepared to defend myself.

        This “man” nearly bankrupted us (my daughter thankfully is grown and out of the house) with his gambling, promised over and over to never do it again, but always fell back into old ways. No more. He is nothing but a leech. He had 4 solid months of sitting on the sofa to get his tax paperwork around for the 3 1099 jobs he managed to get and lose in 2015. I gave him until April 10 so I COULD PAY an accountant to do the taxes, but he just couldn’t be arsed to do it. So I filed alone.

        And another thing! “Financial Behavior?” Seriously? I have every right to expect that my husband will not raid our bank accounts, run up 10’s of thousands of dollars in credit card debt to buy lottery tickets, steal money from my wallet, take my credit cards without my knowledge and use them to buy lottery tickets, etc, or take household cash that I put back for property taxes or car insurance and spend it on his addiction. He is not a husband. That’s not how a husband should treat his wife.

        Apples and oranges.

        1. A question*

          Firstly I just joined this blog after having seen the earlier article in question on the BBC so I am not aware of the particulars of this case which many people seem to be. Secondly I want to be clear that I am not criticising Furious for taking the decision to leave her husband. She is clearly making the right move and if anything should have done it a long time ago. But the point I am making is that there can be valid reasons for leaving a relationship without notice (and Furious is moving out surreptitiously so before the divorce papers get filed the husband will not know where she until papers are filed) and the first letter writer may have had valid reasons or at least not deserved to be excoriated to the extent he was. We don’t know for sure and ten years had passed in his case IIRC.

          1. CA Teacher*

            I think the difference here, even if the Ghoster had good reasons, is that she is TELLING him that she is breaking up with him, versus leaving with no communication.

          2. NaoNao*

            Well, the OP in the “ghosting” case did explain himself. He said that he told the GF he wasn’t really ready to commit. He also explained that he wasn’t ready to commit.
            Also, it seems like Furious *did* give ‘notice’. She gave ‘notice’ when she asked for a divorce. She gave ‘notice’ before that when she repeatedly asked him to change, as the relationship was on the line.

            It may be that Furious’ soon to be ex *perceives* this as a lack of notice, but it is not. Ghost OP left his now-ex with no way to contact him, no messages, or explanations. There is a big difference.

            Finally, one of the reasons that OP got an Internet Spanking is because of his tone in describing the situation. He really made it sound like this was just a huge pain for him, the GF was over-reacting, and so on.

            If Furious were to write in, it would likely sound like this:

            “After years of financial misconduct on his part, including outright theft, and many attempts to resolve it, I left my husband and served him with divorce papers, albeit not in person. He did not take it well…”

            And so on. It wouldn’t be “after living together for 3 years, with no issues other than I really didn’t want to commit, I packed up and left while my husband was away on vacation. I then moved to another country and ignored all his calls, letters, and emails.”

        2. A question*

          One other bit of advice to Furious, if he calls you on your mobile don’t tell him where you are for that will only encourage him to show up at your workplace unannounced.

      4. Jean (just Jean)*

        One more factor: The husband doesn’t have any income, because he doesn’t work, so he can’t contribute any funds to fix the financial problems caused by his gambling. The OP is the only wage-earner in their household.

  25. The Other Dawn*

    So, I signed up for Stitch Fix at the suggestion of a Facebook friend. I got my first box yesterday. I have mixed feelings about the items.

    I received a pair of jean leggings that they call “skinny jeans” in the checkout page and they’re $78. The fit and length is perfect. Given that I’m 5’11”, that’s impressive. The color is too dark, though. I have a lot of cats I don’t want something that has to constantly be lint-rolled. I won’t be keeping them, both because of the price and the color. Sorry, but I’m not willing to spend $78 on jeans at the moment.

    I got two blouses. One is kind of a light grey with a darker grey and yellow pattern ($54). It has a neck tie. I didn’t like it when I pulled it out of the box, and it looks awful on me. It’s going back. The other one is sleeveless, navy blue with a golden yellow pattern, and also has a neck tie ($44). It has the shark bite hem, which I like. I think it would look better on me if it was a Misses XL rather than a Women’s 1X. It’s a little too big around the middle. I may exchange it. If they don’t have XL then I’ll return it. I was pleasantly surprised by this one, as I kind of cringed when I pulled it out of the box.

    I got a long duster-length cardigan in light tan. I was surprised at getting a XXL, but when I put it on I realized that it’s close-fitting. It’s lightweight and has a hood. I really like it and plan to keep it. It’s $58, but since I paid $20 for the box already, it will just be an additional $38.

    I also got a pair of earrings ($44). They’re really not me, as they’re kind of big, but they actually look pretty good on me. That said, I’ll be sending them back because I don’t have anything to go with them and $44 is a lot for costume jewelry (IMO).

    The nice thing about this was that it gave me inspiration and ideas when going to the store today. I tried on a few sleeveless blouses that are a departure from what I would normally give a second look at. What I didn’t like was, although they provided a card with outfit suggestions and the items *seem* to all go together (I think–I suck at matching colors and such), it showed only one piece along with a bunch of different items I don’t have to make an outfit. I would have preferred a card showing at least two of the items together so I know that yes, these things do all match and look good together. It’s probably not an issue for a lot of women and is maybe nit picky, but I struggle and always have to check with my sister or a friend as to whether colors match or pieces look good together.

    I will definitely try it a few more times, though. I’ll make sure to give really detailed feedback so the choices get better.

    If you’re interested in seeing the items, here’s a link to my Pinterest board showing only the Stitch Fix items: http://pin.it/HeCiuvQ

    1. Jessi*

      maybe we can start you a whatsapp outfit check group? you could send us pics of things you are thinking of wearing and we could say ‘Yes, matches and looks great!’ or ‘doesn’t go, switch bottoms up’

      1. Jessi*

        I think the blue blouse is lovely and goes with both the jeans and the cardi. I wouldn’t wear the pale blouse with the cardi though?

      2. The Other Dawn*

        THAT would be awesome! :) I’m awful with trying to match stuff. I texted my sister to ask if the cardigan and blue blouse match. I do that when I’m in the store, too, and she’s not with me.

        The pale blouse is going back. It looks awful and even though I haven’t really discovered my style yet, I can say for sure it will not be part of my style ever.

        1. Melody Pond*

          The cardigan and blue blouse definitely go together. :)

          One of the most helpful things I took away from years of watching “What Not To Wear” is that – it doesn’t have to match it just has to go together.

    2. Cookie D'oh*

      If you’re interested in jeans, Old Navy has ones at a lower price point. I buy petite sizes online and I think they have tall sizes too.

    3. Bluebell*

      I’m glad to hear that the overall experience wasn’t all bad! One option you can ask your stylist for is a complete outfit. The time I did that I kept the top, cardigan and shoes, but returned the pants and necklace. 3 pieces is the most I’ve ever kept. Also be very honest about price points- you don’t want to receive things that always seem too pricey.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        The jeans are Liverpool and they fit great. Inseam is 33. They are actually jean leggings so no button or zipper. Too dark for me though. Cat hair magnet. LOL The shirt I think is their own brand, as are the other items. I’m going to see if I can get a misses size in the shirt.

        I’m happy overall and I think they did a good job.

    4. rj*

      the shirts with the ties are very on trend right now (I don’t know why I know about these things but somehow I do). I hope that this box helps you find clothes you like that feel like you. I’m in a transition time in my wardrobe – I typically have a color theme for 4-5 years and I think I’m heading in a new direction so this has inspired me too!

  26. Kat*

    I have a book rec, if it helps: The Long View by Elizabeth Jane Howard. Extraordinary portrait of a woman in a marriage.

    I have been attacked by a cold just in time for the weekend. It’s a sunny, warm day and I am in bed feeling sorry for myself. :( I feel so guilty for staying in, even though I have no energy and feel rotten.

    1. StrikingFalcon*

      Don’t feel guilty! You are giving your body what it needs, and that important and necessary, not something to feel bad about. I hope you feel better soon.

    1. Pol*

      I hope you get better soon- sinus issues in the summer are horrid.

      I am a week after a 3-week sinus infection. Nose still runny but at least I breath again…

    2. Liane*

      Sympathy for all sufferers. Haven’t got it myself–this time– but a friend did. Had it really bad, as in “can’t drag myself out of bed” bad, then got better after a week or so. Then bam! Very sick again, turned into bronchitis.

  27. Purple snowdrop*

    Therapy Vs counselling.
    What’s the difference?
    And in the UK how would I find a therapist? I’ve had many counsellors and CBT people and psychologists but never a therapist, but I think now a therapist would actually be helpful. But I might be wrong, or I might be totally misunderstanding what a therapist is/what the line between them and a counsellor is.

    Can anyone help enlighten me please?

    1. Elkay*

      Honestly I don’t know the difference. Do you have anything through work? Mine has a phone line you can call for you advice on getting treatment. Otherwise the Samaritans might be worth trying (you can email them if you don’t want to/can’t phone). The NHS also has self referral but the person I know didn’t find it that helpful.

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        Finished the work allocation and in highly unfortunate timing my NHS referral came through while seeing my counsellor through work so I need to go back onto the waiting list.

        In my head (and IME too) counselling is to get you through a crisis (something like bereavement!! shit I suddenly released two close family members are abusive to me!! depression!! anxiety!!) and therapy is deep work to heal and work on your patterns. I’ve done some of that in counselling but that’s always been time limited. Honestly once the dust has settled on the life changes that will come soon I would pay good money to do the deep work. But I have no idea whether this distinction actually exists or whether it’s only in my head.

        Samaritans are a fabulous org, I used to volunteer for them, but not what I need right now.

        1. Kat*

          I’m not sure there is much of a distinction but you make sense in how you describe the difference. I’ve had counselling through an organisation where you give a donation after the session, so if you’re low on funds you just give £3 or something. They had a list but it moved quicker than the NHS, mainly because you get a certain number of sessions. I guess if you want a longer-term approach it might not be for you but I thought I’d flag it just in case it was helpful and might be one near you :)

          1. Purple snowdrop*

            I’m glad you think so too, I was starting to think I’d imagined the distinction! Thank you.

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              No, not at all!

              I’d say people often use counselling to mean short-term help and supportive listening, and psychotherapy to mean something a bit deeper, and that therapist is an umbrella term for the whole lot.

              1. JaneB*

                I went to a counsellor for a small number of sessions through an EAP, and now pay to keep going – 2 or 3 times a month as I can’t afford or schedule weekly – because I clicked with them. It’s really worth while for me – so in this case same org and same person for both your definitions. If you got on ok with the EAP place, maybe ask there about options? (I’m in the UK and never had much success with NHS help because it’s so fixed term and tended to open up underlying issues but not help me actually work out what to DO and then help me do it – I’ve been anxious from birth and depressed since my teens and was bullied throughout school – there’s a lot to unlearn and I’m not a fast learner on emotional stuff – my head learns, my gut doesn’t quite agree…). Good luck!!

                1. Purple snowdrop*

                  She’s good but not the right long term fit. Thank you though, it’s good to hear other people can relate to the situation. I did have 16 sessions at one time that was good (NHS) but still not enough :(

    2. Come On Eileen*

      I’m not sure there’s a difference that matters — I’ve kind of always used the two words interchangeably.

    3. Jen Erik*

      Honestly, I don’t know the difference.

      Two of my kids have gone to therapy as adults. The first time, we asked our GP if he knew someone who would take private patients – he furkled round, produced a business card for someone who worked for the NHS by day, and privately at night. She was excellent. (That was CBT though.)

      The other just got a recommendation from a friend – and she seemed good as well.

      (Also, depending where you live, there might be good resources online. My – other- daughter was looking for a friend (in London), and there was a very extensive listing of therapists in their area, with photos, bios, the therapies they offered, and prices. Her friend then phoned several up, and had a chat to see which felt like the best fit. I think they went with Art Therapy.)

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      These terms are generally used quite interchangeably. But in the UK it can also refer to their training – to be an accredited psychotherapist takes longer than an accredited counsellor. While technically they aren’t protected titles and anyone can claim to be either, the official bodies that regulate them require more of psychotherapists.

      It’s a bit different in the US – over there, only psychologists can call themselves psychotherapists. In the UK these are two different things.

      Ways of finding a therapist or counsellor:
      – Try the BACP or UKCP websites
      – Look for a local Mind branch or contact Mind’s information line
      – Contact your work EAP if you have one
      – Look for counselling centres in your area
      -The Counselling Directory and RSCPP sites also have listings

      Hope that’s of some help. If you can’t or don’t want to go private, search for low-cost or sliding scale.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            I am glad if any of that was helpful. It can be an absolute crapshoot trying to find a therapist – but what’s really important is that you find someone who feels right for you.

            1. Purple snowdrop*

              Yeah, part of it is that I’ve done good work with people before but none of them feel right for deeper, longer term work. Need to find the right person for that.

    5. Anon attorney*

      My therapist once described it as “if you injure your leg, counselling is the equivalent of providing crutches so you can walk, and psychotherapy is about changing the way you move so the injury doesn’t happen again”. I think they are very different processes. I spent years in counselling which only put a sticking plaster on my problems and, in retrospect, was actually counterproductive as it kept me functioning (that is, things didn’t feel bad enough to change the fundamentals). I’ve been having psychotherapy for some months now and it has changed my outlook. I wish I’d gone deeper, sooner. Hope whatever option you choose helps you.

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        That’s exactly what I was getting at, thanks for providing such a clear explanation!
        Counselling has brought me to the stage where I can see that two close relationships are abusive to me, so my mileage varies slightly, but yes. Exactly t this.

    6. LAI*

      I work in a counseling adjacent field and I’m not sure there is a difference. I do tend to hear people use counseling more to reference help with bigger and more immediate issues, and therapy for more long term, ongoing issues. But I think that might be a societal norm. Technically, I’d say they’re interchangeable.

  28. Damn it, Hardison!*

    Yesterday was my cat’s 21st birthday. I took a picture of her with a bunch of cat toys shaped like wine bottles.

  29. King Friday XIII*

    So we moved into our current apartment last December. They’d just finished renovating it and the apartment next to it. It’s at the very tippy top of our budget but we’re in Portland metro so everything’s at the very tippy top of our budget.

    Four apartments around us have emptied in the last month. I keep trying to tell myself that it’s probably just because they’re renovating and raising the rent as leases are up, there’s a persistent fear that we’re going to have to move again and I don’t want to do that to my kid.

    I don’t know that there’s any advice to be given, I just needed to vent somewhere and all my local friends are dealing with the same stuff. (At least two friends have seriously considered going back to NYC because of Portland housing costs, which is insane.)

    1. Melody Pond*

      Just chiming in to say, I totally sympathize. I’m also in Portland, OR, and yes, housing costs here are skyrocketing. :(

  30. Rilara*

    I’m moving from Florida to Massachusetts for grad school next week! I’m both scared and excited :)

    My biggest fear right now is handling the winters. Any northereners have any tips on the best type of coat I should get? I was able to manage a 17 degree day when I visited in March with my current coat, but just barely lol, so a new coat is probably necessary.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Red*

      I live in Buffalo, NY. You’re going to want a heavy coat so that you can wear light things underneath, because we REALLY heat the buildings in the winter. Wind is no joke, so look for something wind resistant. Don’t get anything white – one, it’ll get sorry slush on it. Two, no one will see you if it’s snowing heavily. Also get a pair of snow pants for when you’re out shoveling.

      1. blackcat*

        I have a dark (does not show dirt), waterproof, down coat that comes down to my mid-calf (I am short and I think it is supposed to be knee length). It has a full down hood, and when I first bought it, I thought it was a size or two too big. I don’t know if the brand because I got it second hand. My guess is it’s rated to about 15F, maybe zero.

        I love the thing, but given that I commute by walking, I tend not to wear it unless the high is below freezing. I wear it with just a shirt underneath if it’s around freezing, but it’s big enough that I can wear whatever I want (including another light jacket) under it.

        I can totally be out and about in the coldest weather I have seen in my years in the Boston area (about -10F) if I layer it. And it is AWESOME for weather in the teens and 20s. I’m cozy and comfy for long walks no mater how cold it gets.

        I have plenty of friends who are native to Boston and never wear a giant coat like that. But I am a weakling from California. Whatever you get needs to cover your butt completely. You lose a lot of heat through your butt.

        Another clothing item I recommend is a neckwarmer. Turtle fur makes a great one that is cheap. When it is super cold, I wear that covering my nose and a hat all the way down over my eye brows. As a warning, my *eyeballs* get cold starting around 10F (does not happen often). I have found no solutions to that problem.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      My favorite coat I wore in New England was a heavy winter coat with a hood. It also had a removable inner fleece lining. I’d highly recommend getting one with a hood. Also, if you can stand wearing scarves, wear a scarf, and get some comfy gloves. The wind chill is really the worst. You don’t want to hear a forecast like “Low of 22 but with wind chill will feel like -7.”

    3. I Want to Tell You*

      Not a coat suggestion, but get a good pair of waterproof snow boots with a lining inside. Those rubber rain boots will NOT cut it when it snows or dips below freezing. I recommend Sorel brand; they’re a bit pricey but well worth the cost. The pair I have are waterproof, have a fleece lining, and come to mid-calf. (Height is also important for snow boots; you want something that goes above the ankle to keep the snow out of your pant legs. Many boots are around mid-calf height.) My boots retailed for $150, but you can sometimes get them for less on sale or with store coupons; I got mine from Bloomingdale’s with a coupon and a sale. You also want a pair of boot socks to wear with your boots; any thick, mid-calf or higher pair will do. The socks, combined with the Sorels, keep my feet nice and toasty (and dry!) in the winter.

      1. Episkey*

        2nd vote for Sorels. They are amazing and I’ve tromped around the dog park with my dog in Chicago winters for years without a leak.

      2. Aealias*

        3rd-ing Sorels. They’re comfortable below -30′, and will keep you cold-but-not-freezing at -40 and below.

        The key thing that makes them work is the removable liner, that you can take out and dry thoroughly between wearings.

        For a coat, I’d recommend a parka of some description that covers your bum. A cold bum is a misery! Parkas are not stylish, on the whole, but as a transplant you’re going to feel the cold more than the locals do, and want to be well bundled.

    4. KR*

      I got a Carhartt and I loved it. It looks better when it’s dirty (great for slush and salt, which there is a lot of) and it really protects against the wind. Also very water resistant right out of the store. Super super warm with a sweater underneath which you’ll want anyway for layering but you can wear it open on a 39-50 degree day and still be comfortable.

    5. FDCA In Canada*

      Decide right now whether you want to look fashionable or be warm with your coat. If you want to look fashionable, you can get a peacoat or cloth coat that will do you well when it’s chilly but not cold. If you want to be warm, you will need a parka. Get something waterproof that goes down to at least mid-thigh (your thighs will get very chilly in the wind!), and a hood is a definite bonus. North Face, Columbia, and LL Bean are all good brands. Get multiple pairs of hats, gloves, and scarves in different weights (and because you will definitely lose gloves, which are programmed to go where the lost socks go). And boots–do not cheap out on your boots, or you will be unhappy all winter long! Sorel is my go-to for winter boots that are relatively fashionable and still warm and waterproof, although Columbia is another good bet for those. If you’re going to be out in the elements a lot (or anything other than house-car-indoors again), probably best to skip the tall leather boots, which are very cute but not all that warm and not the best for standing around anywhere.

      The biggest thing for keeping warm in winter is what you’re wearing under your coat. You can have the warmest, coziest Canada Goose coat they sell, but if you’re wearing a sundress underneath it you won’t be happy. Layer! When it’s very cold in the winter I’ll wear tights underneath my pants, camisoles or tanks under my sweaters, and so on. Then you’re also free to peel off layers (well, most layers) when you’re inside a building where they’ve raised the heat to “inside of a volcano,” which will definitely happen.

      Also, not related, but take good care of your skin! Especially if you’re coming from Florida, the cold may be a shock to your skin, especially on your face, so moisturize and cover your face whenever you can to keep it from getting windburned.

      1. StrikingFalcon*

        A good wool peacoat is wonderful for the fall though – keep in mind that that fall is likely to be colder than winter in Florida.

    6. Cookie D'oh*

      I like the coat selection from Land’s End. If you’ll be spending a lot of time outside, I would look for one that is waterproof. A hood is good, but also get a good hat and gloves. Keeping your head covered makes a big difference. Also, size up to accommodate bulky clothing.

    7. Peanut*

      I’ve lived in Massachusetts most of my life, and The last few winter, I’ve been fine with an LLBean coat. The one that I have is an older version of the hooded Primaloft Packaway jacket here: https://m.llbean.com/product.html?bc=&skCatId=82675&csp=a#82675

      I’m allergic to down, but the Primaloft stuff has been lightweight and warm enough for me. I just wear a sweater and t-shirt underneath, and if it’s really cold, I might wear a long sleeved undershirt or a uniqlo heattech tank top. The nice thing about LLBean is that you can return stuff to them at any time for any reason if you end up not liking it!

    8. INTP*

      I moved from socal to WI for grad school. My favorite coat for winters was an LL Bean “Ultrawarm Coat.” It’s not the most stylish but it had velcro to fix the hood tightly to your head, and the sleeves had fleece cuffs near the bottom to stop cold air from getting into them.

      You definitely want a down puffer coat. When you’re trying them on, consider features that keep cold breeze from getting into the coat as described above, can you wrap the hood on tight, have as little skin sticking out as possible? Also, remember when getting advice from locals that they’re used to the weather and have a sense of pride about tolerating it, and you’re not. What locals say you need for temps below 0°F is probably what you’ll want whenever it’s below 30°F. I was once sitting at a bus stop in my down coat, not overheated at all, when a group of girls ran by me in sports bras lol. You’re going to feel weird, but it’s fine, stay warm.

    9. Thursday Next*

      I grew up in the midwest and went to college there. For me the #1 rule, especially if you’re going to be spending time outside commuting is function > fashion. If you have a not huge budget because of grad school I’d get a waterproof/resistant parka type coat as opposed to a wool coat. My winter coat is from LL Bean and it’s great. LL Bean and Lands End aren’t the height of fashion but they have actually warm coats for likely under $200. Make sure the coat covers (or at least hits) your rear – waist length coats are not warm. Be sure to wear a scarf, gloves and a hat. When it’s not too chilly I wear a fleece headband that keeps my ears warm and when it’s really cold I wear the fleece head band with a winter hat keeps my head really warm.
      As others have said, layer! A warm coat doesn’t do much if you only have a t-shirt on underneath. You might want to buy cold weather running leggings or fleece lined tights to wear under jeans as well.

      Also, if you have a car buy a good ice scraper and keep a shovel and a blanket in your car. My parents taught me to always have the clothes (i.e. your winter coat) needed to be comfortable in your car for an hour in the winter in case the car breaks down, even if you’re still in a city.

      1. blackcat*

        I find having really warm boots lessens my need for warm things on my legs. Long coat + warm boots is my go-to if the temp (with windchill!) is 10F or above. But I do have one awesome pair of super warm long underwear for when it is stupid cold.

        And if you are coming to Boston, don’t bring a car!! Insurance is easily 2-3xs as much and it’s not worth it. It’ll be cheaper to live some place you can walk/bus to work/the grocery store than to live further out/pay for parking/etc.

      2. the gold digger*

        function > fashion

        Yeah, I realized I didn’t care how dumpy I looked when it’s 15 below!

        You will probably end up with a Suite of Winter/Fall/Spring Coats. I would suggest waiting until you are up north and shopping at Goodwill. Buying everything you need new is too expensive and there will be a ton of coats at Goodwill.

        I got my Northface Abby II boots on eBay. They keep my feet warm and toasty when I am waiting for the bus in the snow, cold, and wind.

    10. Rilara*

      Thank you all! I forgot to ask about boots so I appreciate all the comments that mentioned it. I have a pair of boots on Sorel I now have my eye on that retail for 150 but are 50% off!

      Since I’m in grad school for a couple of years I think I can get buy with focusing on warmth over fashion for a bit longer. I’ll keep a look out for sales in the sites mentioned to find hooded coats that won’t break the bank.

      Thanks again everyone!

      1. overeducated*

        Get the boots NOW! I always tried to buy serious winter boots after the first snow and went years without them because ones I wanted were sold out by then. (I wore waterproof hiking boots and wool socks for almost a decade instead, but they have to be VERY GOOD solid leather boots to do that.) The winter of 2014 was so bad that I just bought something ugly, cheap, and functional.

      2. Simone R*

        I can’t recommend Macy’s for warm winter coats enough! They have lots of different brands, often have sales that are compounded with a Macy’s card and you can try a bunch on. I’ve gotten very nice winter coats for MA winters there quite discounted including my now very worn but beloved $400 winter coat for $100.

      3. blackcat*

        Oh, and if you have an office at school, totally stash a pair of basic shoes at work. I have super warm boots that are AWESOME outdoors but then it’s OMG SWEATY FEET within a minute of walking in doors.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      When I moved to Toronto for grad school, I went to MEC (the US equivalent would be REI) and bought a good, practical parka that went down to mid calf. Synthetic fill, wind resistant, detachable hood, drawstring at waist level (to trap warm air), adjustable wristbands and big interior pockets to fit my gloves and scarf. It lasted my whole degree, and still looked good at the end. For more intermediate weather, I went with a Gortex jacket and a fleece for layering. That combo, with gloves and hat, could take me down to -10 C, and with the gortex alone, covered the rest of the year.

      If you’re walking to school (I had a half-hour walk each way, all weather) a pair of Gortex rain paints are wonderful, for extra cold or windy days, that slushy period in the spring, and for skiing.

      For boots, I wore hiking boots, as I walked a lot. I liked to get something that I could wax, rather than a more suede finish, to protect against salt, which eats away at more porous surfaces. For socks, wool hiking socks, with a bit of neoprene in the blend, to wick away moisture. Fleece gloves with a wind barrier, and gortex overmits for the coldest day. Fleece hat, with the hood for cold weather, and a thin scarf that could be wrapped around under the collar of my coat.

      Under that, I would generally wear jeans and a T-shirt. As others have said, the inside is well heated, so you may find you need sweaters *less* than you did in Florida.

    12. Old Biddy*

      I’m from CA but went to Boston for grad school and live in Ithaca now. The transition was not nearly as bad as I expected. Are you going to be in Boston? The weather is slightly different there than inland cold cities.
      Boston winters have a lot of damp/windy/snow. In Boston, my favorite coat was a heavy long wool coat with a hood. It kept out the rain/wind/snow/slush nicely and it was a bit more stylish than a down coat. If you get a down coat, make sure it’s waterproof. For a colder/drier climate like Ithaca, I like down parkas/coats. I got inexpensive ones from the Columbia and Eddie Bauer outlets and they’ve worked well for years.
      Get a good pair of snow boots – look for waterproof, lined, and with a good tread. Sorrells are nice for dry snow and slush and will be ok for Boston, but they scare me for ice/hills so I never wear mine unless it’s very cold and dry. I have a pair of ugly Merrell snow books with amazing treads which I love. Get a bunch of wool socks. Keep a pair of regular shoes and some extra socks at your office.

    13. Effie, moving forward s.l.o.w.l.y.*

      This is just in case your legs get cold the way mine do: I loved wearing legwarmers while living on the East Coast. I had a long coat and great winter boots and my legs would still freeze. The best thing I did for myself was legwarmers. I had long silk underwear that I could wear under my pants, and then I’d get super overheated indoors. With legwarmers I could roll them down and even take them off easily inside if needed.

      My favorite brand is Leg Avenue, style Extra Long Ribbed Leg Warmers. They’re nylon so machine washable and just as warm as wool ones while less pricey. It looks like they’re currently out of stock but you can find several other options on Sockdreams and probably Amazon if you’re interested!

  31. Come On Eileen*

    My mom is 72 and got in 2 car accidents yesterday. Both were low-impact and nobody was hurt (one was in a parking lot – hit a parked car, and the other was backing into a car in a gas station). Mom has been having more fender benders like this in the last 5 years or so. She doesn’t drive at night any more, but after yesterday I called my sister (she is 43 and I am 42) to basically say “hey, this is happening with some regularity and I’m wondering if we need to sit down with mom and dad to talk through it and what their options are.” So I guess I’m just looking for advice or stories if any of you have had to talk with your older parents about cutting down their driving, stopping driving altogether, and how you approached that conversation. I think she’d be cool taking Uber once or twice a week, and when my dad is around he’s the one that drives them places, so usually these sorts of accidents happen when mom is toodling around town on her own. Very grateful that she hasn’t injured anyone, but I don’t want to wait until she does to start talking about it.

    1. Undine*

      In most states you can report an unsafe driver to the dmv & they will call them in for a retest of their driver’s license. You may have to tell them your name, but they won’t tell her. Whether you want to go that route depends on your relationship & whether you are comfortable with it. They might also be able to recommend courses for senior drivers.

    2. Uncivil Engineer*

      My grandma – who was never a great driver to begin with – started having small fender benders and a lot of near misses (e.g., running through stop signs and drifting over the lines but not causing accidents because other drivers were able to avoid her) about age 85. After one such incident, my dad was going on and on about how she was a dangerous driver. Her response was something like: “I’m 85 years old. So what if I die in a car accident? I’ve had a good life.” I was sitting nearby and responded: “It’s not you we’re worried about, Grandma. What if you kill someone else?” She stopped driving. She had not considered she could injure someone else.

      Also, does your mom have any adult grandchildren? My grandma had such a soft spot for her grandchildren that we could sometimes get through to her when she wouldn’t listen to her children.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Depending on your mom, can you present it as 1) letting someone else do the driving for her when Dad isn’t there to do it and 2) helping somebody out by giving them useful paid work to do?

    4. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Had an elderly relative absolutely stubborn about driving. We talked to the doctor who proceeded to yank the driving license on the spot, horrified that my relative was still getting behind the wheel. Doc was fantastic about willing to be the bad guy to deal with an ornery senior.

      1. Courtney*

        Yes, we had to do this with my grandma after she got in two accidents in one week – one where she hit a tree and another with a car stopped at a red light.

    5. Trixie*

      Two accidents in one day would definitely encourage me to speak with sibling. Fender benders could easily become serious if pedestrians are around. Could it be a matter of checking her vision or updating prescription?
      My mom is 68 and drives regularly. She super cautious on the roads because there are some crazy drivers out there. She just had eye surgery for cataracts/lasik so her vision has never been better. But she has always said she’ll be ready to stop driving when the time comes. Hopefully she’ll be in walkable city/neighborhood which would be perfect.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is one reason I want to move somewhere with fairly reliable public transport. Even if it’s mostly buses, and preferably someplace warm.
        There will come a day when I might not be able to drive anymore, and I do NOT want to be a shut-in.

    6. LCL*

      Family member was stopped by the State Patrol going the wrong way on the freeway, don’t know if license was suspended or revoked. Nobody was hurt, thanks be.

    7. rj*

      oh that’s frustrating. My dad’s doctor almost reported him when he was in his early 60s (like 10 years ago) if he didn’t get a CPAP because of his sleep apnea, so doctors are really good about these things. I know my grandma’s doctor helped her and my aunt make that call – in that case is what figuring out when to move from driving, to driving to church, groceries and kids, to eventually not at all.
      I think if you can find a way to make sure your mom isn’t isolated if she isn’t driving that will help – ie do specific things with your dad at specific times, to religious/community things that might be close by and she can get rides, etc.

    8. Chaordic One*

      I don’t know if this will be helpful information or not, but one of my elderly friends was involved in a series of accidents on city streets that all happened when she was changing lanes. Every time she managed to clip the car in the lane she was pulling into and which was slightly behind her. She was driving a rather old full-sized American car (a Mercury Grand Marquis) and her family decided that part of the problem was that she was having problems with the car being so large. They had her trade to a smaller car and after that she didn’t have any more problems.

  32. Anonforthisone*

    Recently my 2 sisters and I had a health scare concerning my dad (multiple TIA’s) and we all flew in to visit. My parents (both 88) live in a continuing care community, which means that independent living, assisted living and nursing home/Alzheimer’s care is on a continuum at the facility, and having bought into the care community, they will be cared for even if their savings run out. They have saved well and thoughtfully throughout their lives and will probably be able to afford their care until their deaths. My parents have a will in place that equally divides any assets between us sisters.
    So while we were there, my parents wanted to talk to us about establishing a trust for my youngest sister’s teenage daughter’s college fund. I have two kids, one about to graduate college, another going in 5 years to college, and my oldest sister has no children by choice. We are both professionals with good paying jobs. My youngest sister, whose kid would benefit from this education trust, has just gotten divorced from a deadbeat who provides no spousal or child support. She works a low paying job, and never finished college. I send her $200/month, my parents pay $100/month and the oldest sister paid $5000 for the divorce. This sister lives paycheck to paycheck, and has minimal savings, which gets eaten up with every emergency.
    My parents wanted to establish this education trust using a percentage of any remaining assets, and then dividing the rest of the remaining assets equally between the three sisters. No other attempt to give the other two grandchildren any special bequest. My oldest sister feels that if money goes straight off the top of remaining assets to education, she is being shorted due to her choice not to have kids. She and I have helped financially throughout the years of youngest sister’s disastrous life choices, and this is the final straw. She retires in 5 years and supports her ill husband. I feel like it would be helpful for my oldest daughter to get college help from the grandparents, as she is looking at grad school and loans to afford it. My mom and her sister have a long history of resentment due to their parents giving more support to her sister due to financial difficulties. How can we avoid their same fate?

    TL/DR; how can siblings prevent resentment when one gets a bigger share of the inheritance due to poor life/financial choices, and we have supported sibling for years?

    1. Temperance*

      Did you talk to your parents about your feelings? I might have been tempted to explain to your parents how the situation will play out, and how it will hurt your kids and is hurting you and your sister. I would probably stop giving my other sister cash, too, if that will further the resentment.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, inheritances are always such a minefield, and emotions are always going to run high. I understand your feelings–this is not exactly equal treatment of the three kids, and you two have already been helping out your sister.

      But, assuming I have a reasonable grasp of the situation, I also understand your parents’ choice here. You will be okay, and so will your kids and so will your older sister. Will your younger sister’s daughter be okay? Your parents have a grandchild for whom a trust seems highly likely make the difference between going to college and not; they may also be considering the possibility that they can’t trust their own daughter to provide this for their grandchild, which is a hard and emotional thing. This isn’t giving your sister more; it’s providing for a grandchild who needs provision. An inheritance isn’t simply a business share–it’s the decedent’s last chance to make a difference in the family, and sometimes the important difference means that things aren’t going to be divided up equally.

      In my family, a sibling got a big chunk of money when my father was in his last year that was in theory going to count against inheritance. It didn’t get into the will, however, and I was actually glad about that. She needed the money when she needed it, and the rest of us will be okay whichever amount we got. (Weirdly, that didn’t stop me from nickeling and diming the divisions of the final post-mortem bills, but some of that was passive-aggression about getting stuck with the job.)

      I’m definitely not remonstrating with you, because I know it’s tough–it sounded like you were looking for ways to be okay with this, so I’m hoping this might help with that.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Exactly. It’s understandable to want things to be “fair”, but everyone’s idea of fair is going to be different. In reality, your parents’ money is their money, and they can do with it whatever they like. They can give it all to a charity for incontinent ocelots, or have a shrine built to Sally Yates. Slightly more realistically, they might get sick or have other issues and die without any money to leave to anyone, so my approach is to live and plan as if there will be nothing left. (It turned out both my parents were able to leave me some money, but we would still have been well prepared for retirement even without it.) Think of anything they do happen to leave to you as a bonus.

        Of course it’s natural to be resentful of perceived preferential treatment towards a sibling, but if that’s how your parents are, that’s how they are. Expecting them to do otherwise is pointless, although you can certainly tell them how it makes you feel.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          That’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s the truth. It’s their money. My parents are leaving their house to my brother. Not leaving it to both of us for one to buy the other out, or for us to share as a summer place. Just giving him the whole house–and he owns his own home, while I’ve been stuck renting for years due to insurmountable medical bills. It feels very unfair sometimes, but it is their house to do with as they please.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I’m so sorry your parents are like that…but I’m glad you’re accepting it.

            Note that that doesn’t mean that you (in general, not you specifically, MsChanandlerBong) have to be OK with things like this! It’s perfectly normal to be mad or upset or whatever…I’m the first person to say that hey, you feel what you feel. But if you feel like you deserve more, then that doesn’t actually give you more, does it? And fighting for more in a situation like that will just poison family relationships and almost never works anyway, so just because you feel that way (if you do) doesn’t mean you should act on it. In fact, I personally find that not acting on unproductive feelings like this gives you more control over your life.

          2. blackcat*

            Eh, I pushed back on my parents plans for their house–they wanted to stipulate that it be sold and divided between me and my brother. My deadbeat brother still lives with them and his bedroom is hoarder-level full. I do not want to be responsible for kicking him out of that house. I am unsure he would ever leave.

            So my parents changed their plans to give my brother the house and me the vacation property, as opposed to us having half of each. I made it clear I did not care about the amount of assets I get, just that all non-liquid assets go to either me or my brother and not both of us.

            So I’m not 100% sold on the “it’s their money, you get no input” approach. I don’t feel like one can ask for more/demand things be “fair,” but I do think one can refuse inheritance/refused to share assets with siblings.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              No one said that you have no input, just that you have no control. You can ask for whatever you want, but you shouldn’t count on getting it. I complained to my dad that if he didn’t sift through his hoard, I’m talking bills from 10-15 years ago and unopened boxes from his last move 10+ years ago, that I’d need to deal with it eventually.

              He didn’t, and I did, so I hired a junk company to haul pretty much everything in his apartment to the dump after I had sorted through it for important papers and as much nostalgia as I could cram into a few milk crates.

          3. the gold digger*

            My husband’s parents left all the money to the four grandchildren. (They did not consider my husband’s two lovely stepdaughters as part of their family, so they – the girls – got nothing.)

            My husband and I have no children. His older brother, Ted, has one child. His other brother, Jack, has three children.

            Ted told Primo that he felt bad that Primo and I didn’t have any children because that meant we got no inheritance.

            “See?” Primo said. “Ted does care about me!”

            “No,” I said. “What Ted was really saying was, ‘I have only one child and Jack has three, so Jack is getting three times as much money as I am.'”

            “Oh,” Primo replied. “Yeah. You’re right. That’s absolutely what he meant.”

    3. Observation*

      “She and I have helped financially throughout the years of youngest sister’s disastrous life choices”

      The former caused (or at least contributed to) the latter.

      1. fposte*

        I think that’s the myth of the moral hazard, though. There are plenty of people who don’t change their ways just because their family stopped helping, and there’s a blameless kid involved here as well. Sometimes not paying is the right thing to do, but that’s not the same thing as saying giving your sister money contributed to her marrying a deadbeat.

      2. Anon for this one*

        Yes, I agree. And the reason I decided to help my sister with money every month is because of my niece. She is the innocent party in this and my contribution keeps a roof over her head. We also put my niece in our phone plan because her deadbeat dad didn’t keep up the payments and it kept getting shut off.

    4. overeducated*

      This is tough, I can really see both sides of this. But what I see from your parents perspective is that they want everyone to be ok when they are gone. You, your kids, and your oldest sister are lucky and wise enough that you are able to provide well for yourselves AND your next generation. Your neice is not so lucky through no fault of her own. It’s not a reward to her mother, but someone else looking out for a kid. Yes, it means you have to work hard to put your kids through college and she doesn’t…but also, what a great gift and fine example you are to them.

      What concerns me more is the issue of the monthly payments from ALL or you to your sister. That can’t go on forever, can it? There needs to be a plan there.

      1. Anon for this one*

        I committed to a monthly payment until the niece graduates high school. She is a sophomore now.

        1. Overeducated*

          Your whole family seems to be really trying to help out the niece, that’s impressive. She is lucky to have such concerned aunts and grandparents to help fill the gaps. I hope you become close knit emotionally as she grows up too, regardless of what happens with your parents.

    5. brushandfloss*

      You get over the resentment of the inheritance by realizing you’re not entitled to it. No one is owed an inheritance. Be grateful your parents’ planning has allowed them to be cared for in their elder years. There is nothing preventing you from using your inheritance for your children’s education. If you resent giving money to your sister then stop.
      Having just finally settled assets after my father’s death five years ago with his other kids from his first marriage kids ( I no longer refer to them as siblings) I think its best to expect nothing and be happy with whatever you receive.

    6. rj*

      this… sounds like some things that happened in my mom’s extended family, which people are still bitter about.
      It also sounds like what happened to my grandfather’s parents and so he was so insistent that the money from the house/land sale be equally divided that no one could argue with him. They had an auction and he gave each kid the same amount of money and auctioned off stuff that everyone said should go to the sibs who bought my grandparents house. That is an extreme level of fairness that might not be necessary.
      Find a way to accept what is, while advocating for what you think should be. Good luck, conversations about money as it relates to deteriorating health and death are not easy!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think you can prevent resentment and it sounds like resentment has already knocked on your doors.

      I don’t blame you at all. Fairness in life is scant, if there is any fairness at all.

      You can’t control what other people do but you can control your reaction to it. You could stop sending your sister money. I might seriously think about it, if it were me.

      Your older sis definitely needs to stop giving money. It’s an ethical question, she must take care of her home, herself and her husband first and foremost. You could say the same thing of yourself.

  33. anon24*

    The local fair is going on in my town. It’s a huge deal, 100k people in a week and people who have moved away take vacation time to come back just for the fair. I live about a block away.


    There are people everywhere. They keep parking in our complex so there is no parking for us residents (my car is currently double parked so my husband has a place for his car when he gets back from work). It goes til 11 at night so I get to listen to people yelling for no reason until almost midnight. I hate people. We have a super quiet home and I get irrationally angry when people disturb my peaceful abode.

    I dread this week all year long. Last year I woke my husband up when 11 pm hit on the last day and danced around singing “they’re all going away!” over and over.

    I realize I sound like a raving lunatic. I’m actually a very compassionate person who cares a lot about individuals. I just hate crowds. I can’t wait until today is over. *sigh*

      1. Natalie*

        The super bowl is in my city next year and I am strongly considering taking a vacation during it.

    1. Purple snowdrop*

      I can imagine. Our similar local thing, no one is *too* close to it, but I can imagine that if I lived nearby I would be filled with indiscriminate rage at loud people.

      I’m sure you must have thought of being out of town this week each year…?

    2. KR*

      Would your apartment complex be willing to post resident only signs or enacg parking stickers or hire a parking attendant for the week of the festival? Otherwise I have to agree with the other commenters that this sounds like a good week for a vacation.

      1. anon for this*

        In years previous we had signs up. I’m not sure why we didn’t this year. I was going to call them Thursday but the office is an hour away so I doubt anyone would have come down. Believe me, if we could afford a week away we would be gone!

          1. anon for this*

            I’m an apartment dweller. So unfortunately no. I’m hoping to move next spring when my lease is up, so hopefully this year was the last I’ll have to deal with it. Thankfully last night was the end. I was so delighted when everyone started heading out!

    3. nep*

      This sounds like me. I am always eager to be done with occasions that bring crowds. I’m right there with you.

    4. Heartlover1717*

      I totally empathize. Your home is the one place peace & quiet should be a given. Also, your property manager should engage the local police or hire private security to be certain your parking lot is used by residents only.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Our annual funfair has just started too. One co-worker who lives nearby has given up driving to the office and asked me to help him with taking the bus.

        As there are quite a few bars and restaurants at the funfair, all the surrounding places take their annual holiday for the duration.

  34. I Want to Tell You*

    I’m planning a trip to Washington, DC in early November, and since many of the commenters here are from the DC area or lived there at one point, and AAM herself is a DC-area native, I thought I’d come here for advice and questions. I’ll be in town for a week. A lot of details follow below; I’ll be in spotty Internet range for the rest of the day, so I wanted to provide as many details as possible up-front.

    I haven’t been to Washington since 2005, and there’s a lot there I never got around to doing and still want to do. The last time I was there was for a conference and I had only one day to do touristy stuff, so I went to a couple of the Smithsonian museums, and then went to some of the LGBT bars and coffee shops in Dupont Circle. The time before that was for the women’s march in 2004, and that was literally “come in early morning, do the march, go back to the hotel to sleep, and leave town the next morning”, so zero time for sightseeing on that visit.

    Things to Do: I know a lot of the typical things to do in DC are free and they’re on my list (Smithsonian museums, the zoo, the Holocaust Museum, various Presidential memorials, etc.), but does anyone have other suggestions for things to do? I like history and humanities/culture-type activities, and I also like doing light outdoor things, but I wouldn’t describe myself as “outdoorsy”. I also love historic houses, so if anyone knows of any I should visit, please share. I won’t be renting a car, so any attractions/activities need to be located within the area the Metro serves (bus or train is fine).

    LGBT Commenters: Related to the above, any suggestions for LGBT-related places to visit in the city? As I mentioned in the first paragraph, on my last visit I went to a few bars/coffee shops/stores that I discovered in guide books or while walking down the street, but if anyone knows of anywhere specific, please share. I’m also looking for lesbian nightlife suggestions.

    Places to Eat: I’m also taking suggestions for places to eat while in town. My plan is to eat breakfast at the hotel/Air BnB most mornings, but I could go out for a morning or two. Lunch I’ll be eating out, mostly at counter places, while I sightsee, and dinners will be either sit-down, counter service, or takeout at my hotel/Air BnB room. My sit-down dinner max is $30/meal, and I only plan on doing one or two “nicer” dinners. I’m a vegetarian (lacto-ovo); no allergies. I’m also looking for dessert places.

    Places to Stay: I’ll be staying in the suburbs to save money, and it looks likely that I’ll be going the Air BnB route. Are there any particular suburbs I should target my search to, or conversely, avoid? Again, because I won’t have a car, I need easy access to either the bus or train (train preferred, but I’ll do bus-to-train for the right price/accommodation). Also, are there areas of DC-proper or the suburbs that I should avoid out of safety concerns as a tourist? (I am well aware that “safe” doesn’t mean “crime-free”; the one time I was mugged it was in a “nice, very safe” area with multi-million dollar mansions. I live in an area that’s considered “up-and-coming”; some parts more “coming” than “up”. I hear fairly frequent police sirens and the occasional gunshot while at home, and cops patrol my neighborhood quite a bit. It’s improved greatly in the last 10-15 years, but I still wouldn’t make it my first recommendation to tourists.) Also, any Air BnB tips in general I should know? I’ve never used it before.

    Anything Else: If anyone has anything else to add that I didn’t mention above, or that I should know for my visit, please share!

    1. CatCat*

      Have you been to Mount Vernon? It’s a fascinating place. I’ve gotten there by bus in the past, but I think this time of year, you can still take a boat from Alexandria down the Potomac to get there.

      1. LadyKelvin*

        And for your slightly more expensive dinner (or big lunch) the Inn at Mount Vernonia has fantastic food. I’d also recommend district taco for lunch. Graffiato is near the Verizon center and has really good food. You can sit downstairs for happy hour specials and pizza or upstairs for mezze plates.

    2. neverjaunty*

      I know you mentioned the Smithsonian museums, but even though it’s free, the new National Museum of African-American History and Culture is so popular (and justly so, it’s fantastic) that you need to get a pass head of time or stand in line the morning of. Worth planning ahead!

    3. TR*

      I’m a vegetarian in the area, and a good lunch counter place is Beefsteak. I think there’s a couple locations, but definitely one in Dupont Circle. For dinner, Rasika is very veg friendly and good.

      Its still early enough you can contact your Congressperson for tickets to tour the Capitol (and maybe the White House? They were on hold for a while), which is worth doing. It sounds like you would enjoy the Library of Congress too, and the National Cathedral.

    4. overeducated*

      For an outdoor but not outdoorsy activity, the National Arboretum is free and gorgeous. If you like beer, the bar Churchkey is fantastic.

      Also, I don’t know if you’re looking for more current or historical/cultural LGBT stuff, but the National Park Service and DC Office of Historic Preservation are both conducting studies of LGBTQ historic sites in DC. A lot of the info has been gathered by people who were part of the more recent history through the Rainbow History Project. I don’t know if there are any official trails or tours yet, but there is a public History pin collection called “LGBTQ America” that includes tons of the Rainbow History Project sites – check it out to get a feel for the landmarks!

      1. overeducated*

        P.s. One centrally located house museum you could check out is the Octagon. Frederick Douglass’s house in Anacostia is free and open to the public if you metro over. I went on a fabulous tour there.

    5. Other Duties as Assigned*

      I usually stay in Alexandria and take the Metro (blue or yellow) in to DC. Added benefit is that Old Town Alexandria has lots of neat shopping and reasonably-priced places to eat. In Alexandria at the waterfront is the Torpedo Factory, which has been repurposed into artists’ studios. Also in Alexandria, we found a neat apothecary that actually was patronized by the Washingtons and a place called Gadsby’s Tavern that is a museum and restaurant (the first five presidents were known to have been patrons).

      In DC proper, big recommendation for the Newseum, even though it isn’t free. Also, I really enjoyed the tour of the Library of Congress. Another free thing off the radar is the Postal Museum (next to Union Station) and if you’ve never been, Union Station itself is a wonder. In addition to Amtrak and commuter trains – and the Red Line – it’s been beautifully restored and now has lots of stores and eating choices.

      Mount Vernon is also good and down the road from it, Washington’s Distillery has been reconstructed on the site of the original operation. Fun fact: the year Washington died, his distillery was the biggest in the the U.S.

    6. Christy*

      14th Street NW (between like P and U St) is the gayborhood. I’m a married lesbian right outside DC and I can’t really think of any lesbian-specific nightlife. But then, I’m not huge on nightlife. I’ve found that, like most cities, it seems, the LBGT scene is largely a white gay male scene. 14th Street is pretty great in general though. Like it’s just a cool place to spend the day eating and walking around.

      Definitely eat at Rasika. You could do a great quick service pizza at &pizza (multiple locations).

      I’d recommend going to Eastern Market, the Labrynth game store (they have free game nights if you want something to do!) and Capitol Hill Books. They’re all off the Eastern Market metro stop and they’re all delightful.

    7. Otter box*

      One of my favorite things is the FREE Millennium Stage show at the Kennedy Center every day at 6 pm. They publish the upcoming lineup on their website so you can pick one that interests you. There’s a shuttle from Foggy Bottom metro that runs all evening long, but it’s only about a 10 minute walk down 23rd over to Virginia Ave. so if you’re able to walk I’d recommend doing that instead.

    8. Cobalt*

      My favorite way to see the monuments is by water. You can rent a kayak in Georgetown or there are plenty of water tours.

      For veggie friendly food, in addition to the wonderful Rasika, check out one of the many Ethiopian restaurants in town. Yum!

  35. Overeducated*

    Long day trips or short weekend trips with kids who nap: how? I want to visit some parks and cities in a 1.5-3 hour radius over the long weekends coming up, but I’m not sure how to plan activities when I have a kid who naps for an hour or two every day and we may be camping or not staying in a hotel. Do we just leave really early, get in when places open, and just leave when nap starts and go home? Can’t really do that for the places 2-3 hours away, my rule is I won’t spend more time in the car than in a place. If we want to stay until evening, do we have to plan an afternoon activity that’s plausible to do with a stroller…like sitting under a tree, I guess, if we’re on a national park hiking trip, or going to an art museum in a city? Just not sure of the logistics.

    1. TR*

      You probably just need to experiment. Some kids won’t nap at all away from home, and others will fall asleep in a backpack carrier no problem and you can continue on your way. We tried not to stress about it too much. When possible, we’d schedule the drive during nap time, but that’s about as much as we’d plan around it. We had a few skipped naps, but generally it would work out fine.

      1. overeducated*

        Thanks. I may be over thinking it. As long as we avoid planning a strenuous hike at nap time, and as long as the weather’s not horrible, we’ll probably be fine. Maybe that’s a good time for a museum or brewery visit a more urban area, or a walk on a road or easy trail in a park.

        1. TR*

          Based on your user name, that’s probably expected ;) (me too). It’ll be great. Don’t let the nap stop you from enjoying things. Try a backpack carrier and/or a stroller and see what works. Worst case, you miss a nap and maybe have a little crankiness to deal with. We have found that we can do almost anything we did before, just maybe modified (e.g., 3 miles instead of 7).

    2. Jessi*

      Some kids will power through the day if out and about? Then you could give them an early dinner and they would fall asleep in the car on the way home?

      If you are hiking and the trail is ok for a stroller just keep going and your little one might nod off in the stroller? I assume the same for a museum.

    3. Paul*

      Mine nap in the car. Let them run around a playground for 30 minutes first, then give ’em a small snack, strap in and go.

      Wake up at 7:30 or so (if they let me sleep that long-how the hell did a night owl have two early birds?) give ’em a breakfast, morning routine, go to the park and be on the road by 9:30am or 10:00am, get there by noon, they’ll have napped on the way. That’s how I usually do it.

  36. Free Meerkats*

    I’m down to 31 teeth. :( Wisdom tooth #16 had some root carries and it was pull it or root canal and crown. Since it barely occluded with #17, the decision was easy.

    Healing well, but the pain makes me cranky.

  37. Emilia*

    I’ve been sort-of planning a holiday with a friend (nothing booked yet, just tossing around ideas) for a while, and the other day she asked if it’d be okay for another friend of hers to come along as well. To be honest I’m not keen on the idea of travelling with someone I don’t know at all, but I don’t want to be ‘that person’ who refuses to associate with people outside their immediate circle.

    (I’m also very introverted and while I don’t have an aversion to meeting new people, the thought of travelling – and thus spending a lot of time together straightaway – with someone I don’t know is incredibly unappealing and makes me anxious rather than look forward to the trip. I want to just relax on holiday, not navigate awkward introductions.)

    So…can I say no and not come across as a spoilsport? Or is it expected I should just suck up and pretend to be happy about it?

    1. fposte*

      Why can’t you be that person if you are that person? She didn’t tell you, she asked; say “I was really looking forward to a vacation with just you–can we arrange something to do with Jane another time?”

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I think that’s totally understandable – going on holiday with someone you don’t know is going to be an imposition for many!

    3. Jessi*

      Or say I find it hard to travel with someone I’ve never met before. Lets get to together and do dinner and see if we click

    4. Asterix*

      Be that person who refuses, or you will be resentful and miserable. Just tell her that this is too big of a holiday to bring someone along that you don’t know. And remember, if she has an issue with this, then it says much more about her than you.

    5. HannahS*

      A reasonable friend will hear, “I’d rather the trip be just us; I’m not comfortable spending that much time right off with someone I don’t know” and think, “Yeah, Emilia’s feelings make sense.” An unreasonable friend will go, “BUT WHY” and “BUT BLENNIFER IS MY FRIEND TOO” and “YOU’RE SO ANTI-SOCIAL.” Do you want to travel with an unreasonable friend? A friend thinks you’re a spoilsport or “ruining their fun” will also think that you’re a spoilsport when you want to turn in early, or not go to that thing, or actually go to that thing instead of the thing they want to do…ugh. Travel with reasonable people. What’s the point of going if you won’t enjoy it? I can get behind sucking up and dealing with someone’s friends at a party or a hike or a day trip or something, but travel is expensive! You have to spend money! And time! And possibly take time off of work! Why set yourself up to not enjoy it?

  38. Cruciatus*

    For those who had the luxury of buying a house on your own schedule, did you wait until you were wowed or did you go for something that was hitting most of your wants/needs but didn’t have that extra…whatever?

    I think this house/area would be just fine for my purposes but after seeing other houses with designs I LOVED I think everything beneath those is now “meh” even though this house is perfectly fine! And those houses with designs I loved are in crappy school districts and have super high property taxes–at least $2000 more than average so I didn’t end up bidding even though I loved them). This house has all my wants/needs! Better school district than average (which isn’t really a concern, but good to consider anyway). Looks are just fine. It doesn’t have the “character” I’ve seen in other houses but looks perfectly suitable, yet it somehow feels like settling. I think my standards are all outta whack now.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hold out for something you really like. Maybe not love, but at least really like. If I didn’t love many things about this house, I would be seriously questioning the purchase right now. (Actually, I seriously question the purchase anyway, but that’s mainly at 5 a.m. when one lies awake with dark thoughts that are gone by morning.) But it’s so hard and stressful that I think it’s important (if you have the option) to know that at all the end of the work, you’ll be really happy with where you’re living.

    2. misspiggy*

      We definitely waited till we got that feeling of ‘yes, this is it’. Glad we did, for the same reasons as Alison.

    3. Alston*

      I think it depends on how competitive the market is/how much is available in our price range. In my area the market pretty much only exists in the summer, and there were 2 or 3 condos a week we could consider

      But honestly I might go for the better house with the higher taxes. Higher taxes might be cheaper than whatever changes it would take to make you happy with the meh house.

    4. GermanGirl*

      It depends on your housing market. Do you think you can get your dream house within your budget any time soon?

      Our dream was to build our own house, but we found it impossible to get an empty lot in the area we wanted, so we settled on buying a new house from a construction company, which had somehow managed to get a lot that wasn’t on the market.
      We made the deal when the house was just half way done – it had just the load bearing walls so we were able to plan the rest of the layout to our tastes. It still somehow felt like settling and not our house, because we’d had some ideas that just didn’t work on this house. But the location was just right and it met our must have list, so we decided to go with it.
      We decided to do the painting and floors ourselves – we had an exhausting three months with two full-time jobs and our construction projects but it gave us the feeling that it’s our house.

      Plus in hindsight it was the smart decision to make. I kept an eye on the housing and lot markets for a while after our decision and there really were no better options in our price range.

      1. GermanGirl*

        Long story short, make a list of your must haves and nice to haves and don’t want to haves. Then bid on a house that has all your must haves and a good portion of your nice to haves and none of your don’ts.

        From living in unfurnished rentals for years I know that it’s difficult to like a home that is still occupied by a previous tenant with different taste, but don’t let that discourage you. If the floorplan and the lot work for you, and it has all your must haves and some nice to haves, then you should seriously consider whether the only thing holding you back is that you haven’t decorated it in your style, yet.

    5. Cruciatus*

      I’m going to go to the open house today for this ‘meh’ house that is perfectly fine! I think perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I could have been. So, yes, I looooveed those other houses, but there were things that were “meh” about them too. Taxes. School district. Lovely, but small kitchen. Potential ability to easily get around (it’s right in the center of the city in a slightly ritzy-poo area). This other house is perfectly fine. I don’t think it needs much work (will find out soon). Some things are slightly outdated but still appear to be perfectly functional. It’s way overpriced but if I end up liking this house I’m hoping I can bid lower (it’s been on the market for months now, I think because they overpriced it by at least 40K). There are so many more pluses (plusses?) to this house–location, cheaper taxes, better schools, larger kitchen, larger yard. But it doesn’t have the special features that the Arts and Crafts houses had. So is it better to looove just the house and find the rest “meh” or like everything overall even if it’s not quite looooove? On my way to the open house now!

      1. Cruciatus*

        Oh boy. I liked it! It’s not perfect, but it wins the all around prize. There are lots of little things I can already imagine doing (not because it needs an overhaul, but I can just see me there is all). Like built-ins on either side of the fire place. A kitchen island for more counter space and cabinet space. I spoke to a neighbor and she loves it there. It was a real neighborhood but not a lot of traffic. Only really the cars from the area going in and out. She said snow removal was always good (and there’s a guy down the street who also has a service for your driveway if you want). I wish I had spent more time researching good realtors! My mom’s had an injury which she can’t get surgery on until maybe November so I’ve sort of put off the whole house search. I didn’t officially fire the first one so I could still go to her. Is it weird to call a realtor, never meet them, and be like “by the way I’d like to bid on this house?” But I think I kind of do want to at least make a bid on this. The family is closing on another house on Friday so I’m wondering what kind of bids they might accept… The cabinets were outdated and beat up and the toilet seats…well! Flooring was pretty outdated as well, carpet and tile/linoleum. And all the closet doors are missing. I mentioned before it was way overpriced to start. This area usually goes quickly. What to do, what to do!?

  39. Santa Cruz Tourist*

    Hi! I’ll be in Santa Cruz in California for work in November and I think I’ll take a few days off beforehand to see the area and break up the long journey (Sunday to Thursday, not around Thanksgiving), any recommendations? The conference is outside the town so I’ll probably spend a day or two in Santa Cruz itself and would like to also go somewhere else.

    I like history, live music, people watching, literature and beer. I’m not big into hiking and with it being November I don’t think I’d head to any of the national parks. I prefer places with people to nature. I’d be interested in seeing some small town America, and with the Steinbeck connection would Monterey and/or Salinas be worth a look?
    It’s a random work trip that fell into my lap so I thought I’d take the chance to wander round the local area and see somewhere that I might not travel half way across the world to go to on an actual holiday, so I’m not necessarily looking for world class tourist spots, but an interesting town to hang out in for a few days.

    Other points
    * I’ve been to San Francisco before and would go back but would prefer to see somewhere different.
    * I don’t drive so will have to rely on public transport (I previously got public transport around L.A. and San Francisco and between the two cities and it was fine but I imaging getting to smaller towns might be an issue?)
    * I’ll be travelling alone if that makes any difference

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Santa Cruz Tourist*

      Just realised that the Winchester House is in San Jose, listened to a podcast on that once, as good a reason as anywhere to visit! Is San Jose a cool place to spend a few days?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Winchester Mystery House is definitely worth a visit if you can make it to San Jose. There is a bus that goes over the hill from Santa Cruz to San Jose, or at least there used to be. I haven’t lived there in twenty years, but the buses were pretty good in Santa Cruz as well. I second the rec for Monterey Bay Aquarium.

        The Catalyst in downtown SC has live music; check out their website to see what’s on. Downtown (Pacific Avenue) is a good place to people-watch, but you will encounter panhandlers along with the buskers. I don’t think they ever solved that problem. ABSOLUTELY go to Pacific Cookie Company. Their cookies are so good that even this many years later, I still order them online whenever I can! Riva Fish House on the wharf is still open and at least when I lived there, it was a nice place to eat.

        Weather that time of year is not cold but not super warm either. Definitely have a jacket, because it gets foggy in the evening/night and can be chilly and damp.

    2. Hellanon*

      Monterey and Carmel are both gorgous; there’s lots to do in Monterey, including the Aquarium, and both are an easy trip from Santa Cruz.

    3. Sam Foster*

      Please plan ahead if you need to rely on public transportation. Most area spanning systems are infrequent at best.

      I would look into:
      1) Capitola
      2) Big Sur
      3) San Mateo coast

      Winchester Mansion is great, downtown San Jose is very walkable but probably a “one-day” kind of town with no car. Another fun option is the Mystery Spot though I don’t think it has a transit friendly way to get there.

      You may already know this but California is a big state so even if thinks look relatively close together they make take ages to get to.

      1. lcsa99*

        Winchester is awesome, definitely memorable. The aquarium in Monterey is spectacular and all of cannery row is great for the shopping. Unless you like more expensive stores, I would suggest the beaches in Carmel over the shopping. Definitely skip over Salinas. The boardwalk in Santa Cruz is great too.

  40. Valerie*

    Favorite non-classic kids books? My niece has a library packed with all the classics and traditional baby-shower gift books. Need to be a little more creative for her 3rd birthday.

    1. fposte*

      You’re walking into a nest of librarians and the library-adjacent here, so you may get swamped :-). Focusing on books she’s likely to enjoy now and not have to wait for, I’d have a look at books by Kevin Henkes, Jerry Pinkney (he does a lot of great folklore), Antoinette Portis, Ethan Long, Chris Haughton, Il Sung Na, Kevan Atteberry (Bunnies!!! is freaking hilarious) to name a few recent stalwarts that I like for the really young end of the picture-book crowd.

    2. TR*

      I just rediscovered A Dark Dark Tale by Ruth Brown and it is really good.

      My 3 year old loves tons of other books, but off the top of my head, non-classic: the Pout Pout Fish, Life on Mars, Rosie Revere Engineer, Greyhound Groundhog, Over and Under the Pond.

    3. Fake old Converse shoes*

      Neil Gaimain’s Chu’s Day! And for older kids, The Dot & the Line (a romance in lower mathematics). The short film is based in this book.

    4. Annie Mouse*

      I can’t remember how old I was when I got it but I still love ‘The Little Red Bu’ which was part of a short story book by Miss Read.
      And Julia Donaldson is fantastic (The Gruffalo, Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book etc).

    5. Cristina in England*

      It is more fun for me to read books that have nice cadences and rhyme but aren’t singsongy. Some faves in this category:

      Hooray for Bread (Allan Ahlberg)
      Bats at the Beach/Bats at the Library/Bats at the ball game/Bats in the Band (Brian Lies)

      Some that don’t fall in this category but are funny and great are The Stinky Cheese Man Andy other fairly Stupid Tales, and The True story of the Three Little Pigs (John Scieszcka)

    6. overeducated*

      My almost 3 year old loves “The Three Pigs” by David Weisberg (my spelling may off).

        1. overeducated*

          Yes, thanks. I thought that wasn’t quite right…but we have a couple of his books and it’s like my kid rediscovers them as he understands more.

    7. Cruciatus*

      My mom loved, loved, loved reading me “Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!” And of course I loved it too, but I remember she was never annoyed to re-read that one again. I recommended it to someone else as an adult and she said she loved it and so did her kids. It’s an “old” book, might be harder to find, though it looks like Amazon has it.

    8. Al Lo*

      BJ Novak’s “The Book With No Pictures”. It makes the grown-up who’s reading the book get very silly. My nephews love it.

      1. K-Stew*

        I’m a children’s librarian, & totally agree with all the suggested books above! I love Mother Bruce & Hotel Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins. They’re about a bear who is forced to adopt 3 Canadian geese goslings. He’s pretty grumpy about it, so combining that with the illustrations makes it hilarious! Also, anything by Mo Willems–the Elephant & Piggie series will be great for her now as others are reading to her & as she’s beginning to read on her own. Nanette’s Baguette, his newest, is hilarious!

    9. WriterLady*

      My current favourite is one by Nick Bland called “The Fabulous Friend Machine”. Super cute.

    10. Jules the First*

      “Oi Frog” and its companion, “Oi Dog”… Features a talking frog, a sardonic cat, and lots and lots of unusual animals and they’re both rollicking good reads (every toddler I’ve read them to has loved them).

      Other favourites: Hairy Maclary (and anything by Lynn Dodd); Aliens Love Underpants; Splish Splash Splosh (or anything by David Melling); But Not the Hippopotamus.

  41. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    Now that I have a job, my BF and I are looking to move out of our current place ASAP.

    I visited one apartment with my dad, and I went “meh” as soon as I got home. On Friday, I was able to schedule a visit for another one… this time BF was there and we went OMG. Rent is perfectly within budget, everything we need is within walking distance (even schools if we have a kid xD) , and it’s also near my mom’s (who has a car, so yay to finally be able to get groceries normally) .

    The apartment has everything, even high speed internet, which is a blessing for us. We have just one paper left to give the renting office on Monday and then please cross fingers for us *_* .

  42. Fake old Converse shoes*

    My Youtube channel is one step from being taken down. This week a famous conductor decided that as he’s going to repeat a previous concert program (Tchaikovsky’s Fifth + Don Quixote) for his upcoming concerts in Europe, instructed his people to issue takedown notices all along Youtube against every video that contained said pieces… or has his name on the title. So, in 48hs not only all crappy recordings of said pieces were deleted, but also radio interviews, or critiques of those concerts. They even nuked a 1.5k subscribers channel, run by an aficionado that is well respected among the local classical music community (someone claiming to work for the local Opera House emailed rudely demanding to take down the videos or else… while he was on holiday without access to that account). We’re all shocked because it was sudden, merciless and extremely out of character.

      1. Fake old Converse shoes*

        Considering that the two videos they deleted from my account had his name on the title, it’s fair to assume his employees did a quick search and flagged all the results. They even asked to newspapers to take down their video interviews from their official channels, so yeah, maybe other versions with different orchestras and/or conductor were deleted too.

    1. HannahS*

      He wants that concert program taken down regardless of whether or not he conducted it?! That’s ABSURD! I mean, the whole thing is nuts, but that in particular is so, so bizarre.

    2. Winter's Tale*

      I hope that you, and every one else who has been affected, is challenging the takedown using YouTube’s process for doing so, if there are grounds to do so. Some of what you describe sounds like fair use to me.

      It’s pretty straightforward, and can result in the decision being reversed. I’ve successfully challenged several takedowns.

    3. Fake old Converse shoes*

      For most of us that’s impossible, as the Youtube accounts were opened under aliases for obvious reasons. However, we’re encouraging the owner of the 1.5k subscribers account to consult a lawyer, since his account was not only for documenting (a.k.a. crappy recordings taken with mobile phones or clips of artists being applauded) but also for promoting local artists or covering international festivals as an spectator (he had a brief one to one with Plácido Domingo!). They were particularly aggressive with him because the channel was under his real name and he had a interesting amount of subscribers.

  43. Myrin*

    I couple of days ago, I saw a “life hack” kind of thing on some website and it was something I’ve always done because it’s so practical and it never occurred to me that it might not occur to others. But since realising that, I’ve wanted to share with you guys in case you never thought of it:

    Basically, when I have stuff I need to wait for anyway (meaning, I can’t speed up the process), I’ll do a small project I’ve been meaning to do until the first thing is ready. Examples of the last two days:

    – The local bakery doesn’t open until half past eight, so this morning, I washed the dishes until I was ready to go.
    – I made a dish yesterday that at one point needed to simmer for twenty minutes. So I sat down nex to the stove and mended some holes in two of my t-shirts.
    – While waiting for the pasta water to boil, I wiped the toilet.

    I usually do this with stuff I’ve been kind of putting off and where I never really wanted to make time for it specifically but I feel like the “time constraint” component adds a kind of incentive or even “challenge” to the situation which makes me much more likely to do it (also, I don’t just sit around dumbly while I wait for time to go by; I can actually spend time productively which is a great feeling!). It also constantly helps me realising how little time a lot of stuff I never want to do actually takes and that feels great afterwards.

    1. Never Nicky*

      I tend to do that sort of thing and never really thought it unusual (because my mum and most role models I had did it) until I lived with my ex who couldn’t/wouldn’t do one job whilst waiting for another and would then whine he didn’t have time to do everything that needed to be done…

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      It’s surprising home much difference doing little things really makes. I’ve started to be more deliberate about taking advantage of those small increments of time. It helps me to check off a lot of those little annoying tasks that seem so time consuming when I set out to do them all at once after work (dishwasher, I’m looking at you)

      1. Myrin*

        That’s why I put “life hack” in quotation marks – I’m not a fan of the term (it usually seems kind of… infantilising to me? And I’m generally not sure how it differs from a simple “trick” or “tip”) but in the context I came across it that’s what it was called so I refered back to it.

  44. Kay*

    I am an historian by trade and literally this morning woke up with a vague memory tickling at the back of my head. A little bit of time online and I confirmed it; my five-times-great-grandfather owned slaves. Here’s the passage from the 1929 family history that documents it:

    “Like all men of substance in that part of the country at the time, Judge [Lastname] owned a number of slaves; but slavery there had none of the horrors that belonged to it in the more Southern states. An aged aunt…used to tell some amusing stories of the Negroes, especially of “Aunt Patience,” the cook. She was anything but patient. When she was in her tantrums, she used to say that Mars. Alpheus (the colonel’s son) ‘ought to whip her.’ Such a thing was never done.”

    As an historian, I can chase the research angle, but I am wondering how others might handle this situation from a moral POV? I am already a donor to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU, have marched with Black Lives Matter, have done volunteer political work, and stand up when I can to combat racism from my position of privilege. What else would you do, in my shoes?

    1. Rick Tq*

      Not one thing. It is nearly 200 years after the fact and you aren’t answerable for the actions of someone who provided less than 1% of your DNA

    2. Dierdre in Mpls*

      Agree with Rick Tq, You didn’t inherit them, you aren’t currently enslaving them.
      One branch of my family owned slaves as well, in colonial Delaware. It was normal at the time. These people also fought in the American Revolution against the British. People are complex.
      What is considered “appropriate” and “moral” changes all the time.

    3. rj*

      I think what you should do is up to you. Obviously you have been active, and activist. I think that what is important, especially white folks (I am one) – is educating yourself about ways that the legal (penal), social welfare and education systems echo/replicate slavery. I try to use my job and also my money to work to make sure that society helps all the people in it.

    4. blackcat*

      I am your shoes (though worse, actually. I can direct you two plantations owned by my ancestors), and I basically do that same sort of stuff (mostly donation, some marching, etc).

      3/4 of my grandparents were super active in the civil rights movement, pushed for their local (southern) schools to get integrated, etc. They did a lot of fantastic, difficult, and frankly dangerous work (my father was regularly beaten at school because of his parents’ activism). My family history is a mixed bag, and I try to accept it for what it is.

    5. You are not your ancestor*

      POC here. No one in their right mind would blame you for the actions of someone that happened two centuries ago and were normal for the time. It wasn’t right, but slavery existed back then.

      One thing you can do to contribute to the civil rights and anti-racism movements is to reconsider the activism you listed above. The ACLU seeks to defend the rights of those who believe in slavery, or those who want Nazi Germany to come back to American now. The Southern Poverty Law Center names groups and people without always checking their facts or getting things right (see Ben Carson) and BLM disrupts with no means to any end. They are not the people you should want to associate with. There are orginizations (such as The United Negro College Fund) which do such good work and actually help and they could always used support.

      Also you need not mention “privilege”. It is a loaded work that has been hijacked. Please don’t feel guilt over people telling you that you have “privilege” or that you should feel bad because some person in the past owned slaves. You are not responsible for the sins of others.

    6. Jen*

      There’s a quote from a Jewish Rabbi or text that says, essentially –
      Please forgive the paraphrase – that our job is to continue the work, not to complete the work. For me, and my Canadian slave owning family history this means being honest when it helps educate white people and people of the dominate culture/privilege, and it also means being personally at peace with my family history while acknowledging that there are other people who rightfully can’t and shouldn’t have to be at peace with my history

  45. Familyties*

    Yesterday showed me that my parents will NEVER stop making excuses for my drug-using, manipulative siblings. One called me to ask for money and when I said “no”, proceeded to hang up on me and then send me a barrage of belligerent messages. Parents proceeded to make excuse after excuse never once considering how this is negatively impacting me. Only that “I shouldn’t write troubled sibling off”, “maybe he lost connection in a tunnel” etc. this has been one of many, many outburst of verbal and emotional abuse over the years and weeks. I’ve done well for myself without any help and I hold onto that dearly. But man, it sucks sometimes to feel lone and have parents who only care about troubled kids who use a divorce from decades ago as a reason for their bad behavior. I’m not going to give in either or codone their behavior ever again. Anyone go through anything similar?

    1. Ruffingit*

      Yes, I’ve been there. My brother was (probably still is) a drug-using, manipulative psychopath (literally) who spent 7 years in prison for various felonies, left his kid with my mother to raise, and was physically abusive toward me when we were kids and verbally abusive until I cut him off. And yet, my mother made excuse after excuse after excuse for him. Still does.

      Cut him off. And tell your parents you don’t want to hear them say a word about it. You don’t need to subject yourself to this nonsense any longer. As Alison says about bosses “Your sibling sucks and isn’t going to change.” It’s not worth the constant pain. I cut my brother off and told my mother that I didn’t want to hear anymore about him from her. I no longer wanted to hear about how he called her up and cussed her out while she was at work, how he said and did terrible things to her. I just couldn’t hear it anymore.

      I’m no longer in touch with anyone in my family of origin. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I may not have them, but I have peace.

      So you have my sympathy. Been there, done that.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Also not in touch with anyone from my family of origin. It gave me the peace and space to heal. It helped to learn about how toxic families have systems where everyone has a role – if you try to change your role the system will react and try to keep you in it. But you can decide to resign. You can put down that script and walk away. It’s not easy but it is possible.

        The Out of the Fog website has lots of really good tips for dealing with tricky conversations and Captain Awkward may also be helpful.

    2. Anon.*

      I don’t speak to my sister and haven’t for over 12 months now, I just couldn’t put up with her constant criticism, moody stroppy tantrums (at 35 years old she shouldnt be acting like a 2 year old) and the way she looked down her nose at me, think she’s so much better than me and doesn’t bother to try an hide it.

      Without doubt it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      So many times parents will kowtow to the missing/hard to connect with children. I have seen this over and over. And “the good kid” ends up disconnecting from the whole family.

      A family of relatives walk on eggs around the youngest sib. Why. Well, he yells. (Yes, and he yells about every. single. thing that does not suit him.) Well, we have to put up with the yelling or he will leave the family. (Okay. Reality is he is going to leave the family anyway. His constant yelling is proof of how he feels about us.) So eventually he fell out of contact.

      Sometimes friends are more family-like than actually family. Coming out the other side of “family dynamic”, I can see that friendships can give us more than our own families every could have. It seems to be in letting go of toxic family relationships, that the value of friendships kicks in. I think the reason for that is that toxic families suck up so much time and energy that we fail to notice or to participate in healthy friendships.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*


        Um…yes please!

        (I know it’s not that easy to go no contact, but it should always be acknowledged as a possibility.)

        1. Ruffingit*

          Totally agreed. When people have threatened me this way in the past, I’ve always said “Sounds good, bye.” They tend to be flabbergasted because they think their value to your life is more than it actually is. If the price of the relationship is verbal/emotional/any kind of abuse, it’s too high.

    4. Observer*

      This stinks.

      You need to reset your expectations. When your brother acts out again, feel free to the be the first one to hang up. Don’t expect support from your parent. But, also, don’t discuss this with them. Not just not bringing up with them but shutting them down when they bring it up. Not even to tell them how bad Brother is. Just refuse to discuss it.

      It’s hard to tell what that will do to your relationship with your parents, but if the price of having a good relationship with your parents is taking your brother’s abuse, it’s a big ask.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Best: went to the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A in London and it was excellent. Also, my cat did the “I have caught prey!” yowl and then turned out to have ‘caught’ a branch of snowdrops. It was our wedding anniversary so I guess he wanted to bring us a present?

      Worst: just stuff.

      1. Courtney*

        Best: My husband and I got to have two date nights in one week! We have small children so this never happens, but both grandparents asked for some time with them this week.

        Worst: I’m a ridiculously huge Taylor Swift fan, so I’ve been anxiously awaiting her new single…and I hate it. I’m so disappointed by how bitter and obsessed with karma and revenge it is, how unoriginal it is…ugh. I could go on but I’ll stop there.

    2. Red*

      Best: My best friend is awesome and supportive and kind. Idk what I’d do without her.

      Worst: I’m having a very rough time with my mental health right now. Haven’t felt this awful in years, which is astounding because I’m well medicated now! Wtf.

    3. Iris Carpenter*

      Best: Going to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival for a week with the family.
      Worst: Coming back home!

      1. Anon.*

        I was in Edinburgh for a few days for the fringe it’s amazing.

        I hope you saw some good shows and enjoyed it.

    4. QualityControlFreak*

      Worst: Spouse has stage 4 lung cancer.
      Best: He is home, and seems to be responding to the immunotherapy and chemotherapy. Today he drew his first deep breaths in weeks.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: The eclipse!

      WORST: I think that I might be getting sick. I feel very tired, slightly as though I might have a fever, and my chest feels like I’m getting a cold. I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS WHO GAVE ME A GERM

    6. Mimmy*

      Worst: BS at work
      Worst 2: Hearing about the comedy of errors that were my husband’s flights for the eclipse, particularly coming home.
      Best: Seeing everyone’s reactions to the eclipse, particularly the sheer glee of one of my coworkers, despite the fact that we only had a partial eclipse.

    7. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best: vacation with the SO. We also contacted a budget-friendly wedding planner…waiting to hear back….

      Worst: puffy achy eye/conjunctivitus….also, the planners email doesn’t work….but you can contact directly via website message. Highly ranked, but is this a yellow light/Bad sign?

    8. Gala Apple*

      best: the aforementioned day at the lake beach today– perfect weather, fun time with friends, and I relaxed and didn’t worry about cleaning or cooking or everything I would have felt the need to do if I were home.

      worst: had a dermatologist appointment, just for a body scan. took me back 50 min after the appointment time, and then a male doctor walked in, instead of the female one I had booked it with (4 months ago!). Disappointed no one told me during that long wait?!

    9. WriterLady*

      Best: I’ve been doing C25K and I can now run for 5 minutes straight. When I first started, I struggled to make it to 30 seconds. YAY.
      Worst: Honestly, not much this week. It was a pretty decent week, and anything frustrating was certainly trivial.

      1. WriterLady*

        Reassessing my worst: managed to hurt my ankle and left all the cleaning til 8:50pm on a Sunday night. Why. However, pales in comparison to my father’s: he broke his foot.

    10. SparklingStars*

      Best: Went to a wine -and -paint night with a friend tonight. So much fun and so many delicious drinks!
      Worst: I was involved in a fender bender this afternoon. I’m fine, and it was wasn’t my fault at all, but my car is smashed up enough that I can’t drive anywhere for the rest of the weekend. And no body shops around here are open on weekends, so I have to wait until Monday morning to take it in. At least I shouldn’t have to pay anything, since I wasn’t at fault.

      1. acmx*

        This is me exactly. I planned on spending the next few days home, relaxing already. But unprepared for the amount of rain forecast.

    11. Anonomatic Yo Yo*

      Best – this is more last week, but effects are still ongoing; my horrible line manager resigned and had to exit rather quickly from the office for sensitive reasons. She was also (badly) mismanaging a large project I was on and as a control freak and micromanager, was WAY overstepping the time allocation, putting pressure on all my other projects. I also caught her lying a few times, she took my pass from my desk one day without explaining OR apologizing, and overall it was a rapidly deteriorating situation. She left, the stress passed, and I am MUCH happier! Met with new line manager this week and its a much better fit for me.

      Worst – Got hot again, which makes it hard to sleep

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Best: Payday! I went shopping to restock the freezer and everything I needed was on offer.

        Worst: Annoying woman in supermarket tried to queue jump. She was going for the “I am going to pretend I don’t understand you ” approach.

    12. Jules the First*

      Best: a friend got married this weekend and on top of a lovely wedding on Friday, we met at the stables today to help the happy couple get some photos in their wedding gear with the bride’s beloved horse. Normally super spooky, said horse was so chill today that we even managed to get the bride mounted….in her enormously poofy dress. It took six of us, but it was worth it.

      Worst: my weekend has been too social (not enough introvert time!) and I’m kicking myself for having booked my whole weekend this week and made plans to go away next weekend (which can’t be cancelled because it’s my favourite gran)

    13. Sparkly Librarian*

      Best: I saw my sister’s annual community theatre show, and it was funny and had some pretty good performers. We went out to dinner after with a bunch of the cast and I socialized pleasantly even though it was past my bedtime.

      Worst: My grandfather died this morning after an apparent heart attack on Friday. (He’d been in poor health for the last little while but still ambulatory and recently moved to assisted living.) I expect he had an interesting life (most of a century!) but by the time I was old enough to be interested, most of the stories were forgotten or unreliable; I wish I knew more. He was my last living grandparent. That part is still sinking in.

    14. Trixie*

      Best: Enjoying my own space as I officially live alone again. Paid for yoga teaching training so I’m officially committed to it for the next year.
      Worst: Not getting enough active exercise. Good news is this is my favorite time of year to be outdoors.

    15. SeekingBetter*

      Best: Managed to work up to jogging continuously for almost 2.6 miles. I’m almost ready for the 5k I signed up for in Sept.!

      Worst: Trying to get rest and heal a hyperextended elbow. It’s really annoying, hurts a lot, and has been making me miserable for the past month now.

  46. Shayland*

    I’m doing meal prep today and it’s exhausting. I made my quiche mix too thin and it’s not coming out of the silicon muffin pans.

    1. Come On Eileen*

      I just went on one in July and LOVED it! Happy to share tips and insights if you are interested. Do you have a land option before or after, in Denali?

    1. Beth Anne*

      My mom hired this guy for $200 and he took them to like 30 churches! She said it was the best money spent. The scavi tour is also really cool but hard to get into. If you are there on a Wednesday or Sunday you can go to the papal audience.

    2. Isobel*

      Eating Italy do food tours of Trastevere and Testaccio – we really enjoyed that both times we visited. We also got the train out to Ostia Antica, which was surprisingly quiet and untouristy.

    3. GermanGirl*

      Disclaimer: I was in Rome 10 years ago, so some of this might be outdated. Here is what we did in 3 days:

      Ancient Ostia for a half day trip.

      Vatican City – even if you’re not interested in Christianity, the St Peter cathedral is still amazing plus lots of history.

      Fontana di Trevi (there was an amazing ice cream place in the street that leads from here to the Pantheon).

      The Pantheon.

      Piazza Navona, which was close to our hotel, had cafes that were open and busy till midnight, so if you’re feeling lonely after dinner, go there or any of the other big piazzas or Fontana di Trevi.

      Capitol Hill, Forum Romanum and the Palatine.

      The Colosseum.

      Also get a good look at Capitol Hill from afar to understand why the locals call it the typewriter.

      You can walk through a shrine of 2000 years old reliefs at Ara Pacis Augustae.

      We also visited a few more churches, but I don’t remember which. The things on my list must have been more memorable for me.

  47. The Other Dawn*

    Any thoughts on the Chevy Traverse?

    I’m starting to get worried about my car, as it’s getting up there in age and mileage. I really don’t want to wait until I have a car emergency, because then I’ll be rushed into a decision, so I’d rather start looking now and see what I find. I’m thinking an SUV this time. Hubby drives pretty far for work and could use it in the winter when there’s snow on the ground, since it would have AWD. It would be good for hauling stuff, too.

    I have a bonus from work coming in February and money coming from the sale of my dad’s house probably around the same time. I can either wait until then and hope my car makes it, or buy now and pay down a big chunk of the loan once I get the money.

    Just have to say, I can’t believe how much cars have gone up in price and how much SUVs are. But I haven’t car shopped in more than a decade.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, I was about to say, that seems to be only a little bigger than the current Subaru Outback, which starts for about $3K less, and we are loving our Outback Limited! But if you can get that for the same price or less, Consumer Reports gives it a pretty good rating, so it’s probably worth it at a discount.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Thanks! I’ll be doing some research before I buy. I really hate the idea of car shopping, so I want to go in as informed as possible. At least I won’t have to haggle, because my husband gets a GM discount!

    1. The Automotive Expert*

      As someone who regularly drives a Traverse, I like it and would recommend it. The current design used by the 2017 Traverse is a bit old now, having been in production without major changes since it was first introduced in 2009. It’s very roomy and even the third row seat is relatively comfortable for adults. I think the performance from the standard V6 engine is impressive, the 6-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and it handles very well. There’s a lot of ground clearance when you drive in the winter and optional All-Wheel-Drive system works well. I’ve never gotten stuck in the snow with it.

      The downsides are that I think it has a stiff ride and the gas mileage is not all that great. I usually average around 16 mpg, though I get around 20 mpg on the highway. Still, it is one of the better choices among 3-row Crossovers and I think it is better for most people than the bigger Chevy Tahoe and Suburban (although these are great if you need to tow a large trailer). I have not had any mechanical problems with the Traverse, but it has been recalled twice for having defective airbags which were replaced.

      However, the current 2017 Traverse is about to be replaced by an all-new design for 2018 and often all-new designs have a few bugs in them. By the time you’re ready to buy a new vehicle it will probably be a 2018 model. The redesigned 2018 model is supposed to be about the same size, but weigh less and get substantially better gas mileage. The 2018 Traverse will be very similar to the GMC Acadia and the Buick Enclave. (If I could do over I think I’d go for the Buick Enclave because it has a smoother ride and is a bit quieter, although it is more expensive.)

      Personally, I don’t care for the smaller Crossovers from GM. The Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain are O.K., but I really don’t like the Cadillac XT5, Buick Envision or the much smaller Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax.

      If you can consider products from other manufacturers, some that would be worthwhile would be the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot and the smaller Subaru Forester and Outback, Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV and Mazda CX-5.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! The 2018 Traverse is on sale at the dealership right now. It’s about $5,000 off the MSRP at the moment. And what’s nice is that the GM family discount is on top of any sales. I’ve never had an SUV, so this will be a first. I wasn’t thinking an SUV until we got rid of the Blazer, and now I really miss being able to haul things home from the store and such. I’m nervous about gas mileage; however, my commute isn’t long, and now that my parents are gone I won’t be driving out of state all that much anymore.

  48. The Other Dawn*

    Oh! One more question.

    Any recommendations for muffin pans that actually last? Seems like the coating starts coming off pretty quickly, or they rust. Have yet to find pans that last for a few years.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      USA Pan. I bought cake pans from them when I worked in a cooking store. Strong and really non-stick.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I love William Sonoma’s gold touch bakeware. Things slide out so easily. I haven’t had any trouble with rust (3+years)

    3. Dr. KMnO4*

      I love the silicone bakeware I have. I’ve had it for at least 5 years and it’s working just as well as it was when I got it.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I looked at the silicone when it first became a thing, and I couldn’t help but wonder how the heck it works. Or rather, does it work? Maybe I’ll have to give it a shot.

        I’d say most of what I make in muffin tins are crust-less quiches. I make cupcake and muffins maybe two to three times a year. It’s so discouraging to get a new pan and my first couple batches come out great and cleanup is a snap. Then the coating starts to flake, or they don’t seem as non-stick as they once were.

        1. fposte*

          For a variation, I make crustless quiches all the time in silicone cupcake liners; I just put them on a baking sheet. The fluting means that you have to hand-wash the liners to get them clean (I find a brush works best), but I don’t have to run around for muffin tins, which live somewhere in the basement.

          1. Jules the First*

            I have unfluted ones…mine are Catania brand but a friend has some from Selectabake that are pretty similar. Brilliant for mini-quiche…

  49. INTP*

    Does anyone have a sort of super-remedial, ADHD/depression-friendly, person working long hours-friendly checklist/process/whatever for getting an overwhelmingly messy home under control?

    I let my apartment get pretty bad while I was too depressed to care much about it. I also moved mid-depression, so a lot of things just didn’t get done, a lot of things are still scattered in different boxes and there’s a big pile of large cardboard boxes (from ordering my couch, bed, etc. online) that will have to be driven to the oversize recycling center and such. And there’s trash and massive backlogs of laundry and dishes right now (no dishwasher and no w/d in my building, just my little portable washer and drying rack for tiny loads).

    The frustrating thing is, I’ve been putting a lot of time and energy into cleaning. But what I am doing is not efficient enough to make progress before I burn out. Generally I try to do all the dishes and then clean the kitchen because that’s the hardest room for me to function in while it’s a mess, and then I’ll focus on one thing, like I read that I’m supposed to do. Laundry, or picking up one area, or whatever. I’ve also tried the FlyLady emergency cleaning method of 15 minutes in one room, then go to another, etc. It’s like I spend most of my free energy every weekend trying to finally get it under control, but whatever I’m doing is not enough to really make progress, because at the end of the day of cleaning it’s still overall chaotic enough that just trying to maintain that level during the workweek so I can make progress again next weekend is really, really hard, and I backslide a bit before the next weekend. (I work from home, so I’m in here like 22-23 hours a day, eating 3 meals a day here, etc.) The only thing that has worked for me before is binge-cleaning for days until it was all done, but right now I don’t have days to binge clean, I have one weekend day if I’m lucky (I’ve been working a lot of 6 day weeks).

    Cognitively, cleaning and organizing is not natural for me. I’m one of those people that doesn’t “see” a mess until it becomes overwhelming and then I’m too overwhelmed to know what to do with it besides hyperfocus on some random thing. What I need is a method that works for my brain that I can blindly trust to get me there efficiently even when my own sense of logic is telling me that I should just spend 6 hours organizing the linen closet instead. I know there are a few different methods out there like FlyLady and UFYH, but I’m curious for personal testimonials, especially if people dealt with the same issues I have (ADHD brain and no time to get it done all at once).

    *Adding because it came up on another board that I’m not looking to hire someone. I think the bulk of the work will be creating an organization system for all this random stuff everywhere, but I don’t have money for an organizer, the most I could afford would be a few hours with a low-cost cleaner or maid.

    1. Courtney*

      I’m like this with cleaning and organizing and just did literally my whole house, so it’s definitely possible! I did it in stages, which worked much better for me than focusing on one room at a time. So first I went around gathering up all the laundry, then all the dirty dishes. Then I went around with a trash bag and just threw away anything that was definitely trash. Then I worked on clearing off my surfaces like counters, dressers, etc. Then same thing with the floor. Once I got to the organizing stage I was also pretty ruthless, way more so than usual, about getting rid of anything I haven’t used in ages and not letting myself fall into the “oh but maybe someday I’ll use it!” thing.

    2. Never Nicky*

      I found it helped to gather everything of one type of object – shoes, books, tupperware, whatever together, a la Marie Kondo, sort it ruthlessly, find a home for them *in one place* (even if I had to clear existing contents into a box temporarily until it was their turn to be sorted) and then systematically put them back everytime they were used.
      And I would do one thing at a time, and tell myself it was okay if I only put back my shoes, book, lunchbox. But I *had* to do it.
      And it became a habit with one, then two then more items. And then picking up after myself every time I did something solved most of the problems. It took seconds (even the laundry because I had less stuff plus specific storage) and that freed up time and space to dust, vacuum, mop.
      Now I am fortunate to have a cleaner who comes by once a fortnight for a couple of hours but she only needs two hours because the place is picked up, messes are dealt with when they happen etc – she’s my reward for being tidy after a lifetime of untidiness because I do all this because I have to to make me feel better not because I actually like doing it!

    3. King Friday XIII*

      Courtney’s advice above is good. I’m also a big fan of the UFYH philosophy when I’ve completely fallen apart. I try to start with Obvious Trash, and I give myself permission to have a wider definition of Obvious Trash than usual. Things I would normally look at and go “hmm I should make banana bread with that last banana” or whatever? If it’s your sanity or the landfill, it’s okay to choose landfill.

      While you’re at it, take the large boxes down and put them in your car. I’m always amazed how much more motivated I am to get something where it needs to go once it’s in the car.

      I throw everything in the dishwasher and start that, but since you don’t have one maybe clear the counters and lay out enough dishtowels to wash all your dishes and let them drain at once, so in a bit you can put them all away but you don’t have to do all the drying on top of all the washing. Also when we didn’t have a dishwasher, we had really, really minimal dishes period so that we didn’t have the option to let it pile up.

      A few hours with a cleaner so you can start from “inbox zero” on some things might be worth the investment.

      Also, if you can get out and do your work at a library or something so you’re not marinating in a sense of failure all day long, I recommend it.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        “If it’s your sanity or the landfill, it’s okay to choose landfill.”

        Could not agree more.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      In case any of this is helpful, I basically had to unf**k my home after a period of really bad mental health. (I didn’t want anyone to help. Long story.) I can’t advise on not seeing mess, only on the unf**king part, as I have OCD and have struggled in the past with hoarding tendencies and I think I have different problems to you. But in case any of this helps.

      I packed things into boxes as if I was moving. Only one type of thing in a box, like stationery or toiletries. I then went through the boxes and decided how much to keep. Then drew a plan of my home and planned where to put things. Doing one room or one area at a time was useless for me as things didn’t have a place or weren’t in the right place so it was laughably impossible to tidy one area or one drawer as I didn’t know what was meant to be there. Packing things up and then planning where they would go meant I wasn’t just doing damage control the entire time.

      I binned some stuff because it was easier than getting through the backlog. Threw out some of the laundry (e.g. old towels and bedding) and threw out and replaced some of the dishes (e.g. Ikea plates).

      Habit wise it helped me to pinpoint what happens when things start to go south in a room and what little things I could do to keep it ticking along. What steps do I need to take or avoid? Example: there’s always this moment when I decide I’ll just let the bedroom get messy and to hell with it. It starts with things getting messy in my drawers and by my bed. So I’ve made a point of setting a reminder to tidy those every few days.

      The toothbrush principle also helped me. This is where you keep things where you use them or with things you use together. Like how your toothbrush lives by the sink. So now I keep my foot cream with my socks and my deodorant with my bras.

      And if you are a natural scatterer of stuff maybe don’t fight it? Maybe just collect it in a box you sort once in a while?

    5. rj*

      I second UFYH. I am a naturally clean and organized person but a few years ago I had massive health issues and as a result could not organize things in my usual way, could barely get up, let alone clean, etc. It helped me break things down into something I could do every day and feel less hopeless.

    6. Luisa in Dallas*

      You might want to check out the blog A Slob Comes Clean. I think you will find that this blogger is a lot like you (not a naturally organized person), and she has, over the years come up with some ways to work around the traits that you mention (like not noticing messes until they are mountains!). The comments on this blog show that you are definitely not alone in your frustration. Hope that helps. I wish you luck!

    7. cleaning in progress*

      I actually find it helpful to have a cleaning person come in. It does turn out in a bit of binge cleaning over a few days but it forces me to put things away and get the surfaces and the floor cleared up, and I don’t have to worry about the cleaning part (yes one should declutter but when my apt is total mess, it’s not the priority.) So when she’s done, my place feels calm and I have clean laundry. From there, it’s so much easier for me to maintain, even knowing the closets might be a mess or whatever. It’s a bit of a reset, which like you, I was finding really difficult to do on my own because of depression and how overwhelmed it makes me feel.

    8. katamia*

      If you’re comfortable with it, you could have a friend with better cleaning instincts come in and rate your mess and provide a starting point.

      Also, most of that advice is not written for people with ADHD in my experience, so don’t feel bad if these things that help other people aren’t helping you. (Actually, a lot of “how to get/keep your life together” advice in general is not written for people with ADHD.) I don’t have any links for you on this, but try looking for more ADHD-specific resources. If you’re currently seeing a therapist for ADHD-related issues, you could ask them for advice as well.

      1. INTP*

        Also, most of that advice is not written for people with ADHD in my experience, so don’t feel bad if these things that help other people aren’t helping you.

        SO true. Actually, to me it seems like a lot of the advice that purports to be for people with ADHD is also not written for or by people with ADHD, but neurotypical or OCD people just making up what they think would be useful for people with ADHD. Like “Just clean up as you go so you don’t get it messy in the first place.” That would be very helpful advice if I were 1) an idiot to whom it had never occurred in the first place and 2) not walking around in an ADHD autopilot haze 90% of the time. If I want to start remembering something like leaving my keys in a certain place or turning off the lights when I leave a room I have to obsess about it all day long so I’ll for sure be thinking about it at the moment when I put my keys down or leave a room.

        I’m realizing how specific ADHD cleaning needs are since a lot of even “cleaning guides written for people that have a rough time with cleaning” have certain traits that won’t work for us. Like the UFYH emergency cleaning guide has so many steps which seems like a good idea for someone that forgets small things, but really, I’m not going to remember more than 1-2 steps at a time, and every time I finish something and have to go back to figure out the next step, that’s a moment when I’m probably going to get distracted.

    9. dr_silverware*

      UFYH’s style of 20-10 work-rest blocks really works for me for binge cleaning, as does UFYH’s really kind style of like, “you may have trash in your house. That’s ok, take it out.”

      The only other thing that works is recognizing when I need a system and trying to make sure I make a system that works for me. For instance: I was making a very tall tower of dresses when I was depressed. The system that works is having an empty hanger on the left side of my closet, then I hang up my dress.

      Identify one problem and fix it in a way that works specifically for you. You need your kitchen to be clean. Can you put things in tupperwares on the weekend and toss a tupperware in the dishwasher when you’re done? Use paper plates? Executive function issues are a pain, so the only testimonial I can give is “find exactly what works for you even if no one else does it and it looks dumb.”

    10. ArtsNerd*

      *Hugs* This is an ongoing challenge for me, too.

      START WITH THE BOXES. Just get them to your car. Ask a friend to help load them up. I’m serious; my best friend helping me load 3 cartfuls of moving boxes down to the dumpster was a lifesaver. It’s really important to tell someone “I’m overwhelmed and I need help.”

      Another thing is that your stuff doesn’t have places to go yet. So many decisions, so start with “good enough for now” places where they belong. Even if that’s a pile in a corner, it’s that pile in that corner.

      I know you just moved, it really sounds like your living setup is working against you. No dishwasher or w/d means you have to spend that much more energy finding the time and energy to decide to do those tasks, let alone actually doing them. Dishes, laundry, and a puke-prone cat are my biggest challenges, to the point where I chose an apartment specifically for the garbage disposal and ability to install a dishwasher. I don’t have helpful advice here, sorry.

      Binge cleaning is not sustainable, as you’ve noticed. I’m working on building daily habits, e.g. clean litter box first thing in morning, wash dishes while my coffee steeps, etc. It’s a much better ROI than a monthly session of therapy (which I also do.)

      Finally, I know money is tight but a monthly cleaning service has done wonders for my mental health. Among other things, it gives me a deadline to get my shit together! Otherwise

      It’s hard. Really hard. Any one or two of your situations would make it hard to keep a tidy living space. You’ve got a whole mess of things making it more challenging. Hang in there, keep chipping away.

    11. Jules the First*

      Commercial breaks are awesome – at university I used to do chores during commercial breaks such a cleaning the toilet, doing dishes, folding laundry, etc.

      The most important thing for keeping on top of it during the week is for everything to have a place so that’s the only place you put it. Keep flat surfaces to a minimum – if there’s nowhere to put it, you won’t make a mess mountain. The other thing that works is putting temporary junk in a place where you have to move it….i.e., I undress onto the bed at the end of the day; the clothes air while I go about my evening, but I have to put them away before I go to sleep. I also put cleaning tasks in my calendar…including things like when to change towels or sheets, when I last cleaned the bathroom,etc.

  50. Bruschetta*

    My friend “Ann” talked me into going to a meetup with her. It’s a small group- about 5 or 6 of us. Ann is really social and very sweet- the type pf person who knows everyone and is nice to everyone. I joined her and some other women after the meetup for dinner. Ann knows everyone for about 10 years- I just joined and this was my second week attending.
    I thought things were going well- I’m very shy and socially awkward, but I tried my best to chime in and tell some funny stories (they all laughed) and tried to socialize and so on. I thought it was fine. We usually go out to dinner all together, but the rest of the group ditched Ann and I. I saw one woman and she literally ran into the other room. Then I saw them literally running away to their car. Ann asked if we should wait for them and she didn’t know what happened either.
    Now, I get it. We don’t ALL have to go out. I just am confused and a little hurt as to why they couldn’t tell us they were doing something different. They’re all 10-20+ years older than me- they are all married and have kids, I don’t. So I don’t have that much in common with them, but I thought we were sort of connecting.
    I don’t want it to be awkward, so I don’t know if I should stop going to the meetups or just stop going to the dinners. I don’t know if I did something wrong or not. What do you do in a situation like this?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think there is too much you can do.
      It could be that they did not know you well enough to say they were doing something different.
      Or it could be that they never thought about it.

      I probably would not go again. I’d find something different to do with my time. Nice groups are welcoming on day one and remain welcoming. I would think that I was working too hard at this group and it’s time to move on.

      You probably were connecting on some level, but they had more connections with each other. It’s not a failing of yours at all. It’s just that they had way more connection with each other.

      1. Bruschetta*

        One woman was speaking with someone, and I looked over to try and join the convo. I don’t know if she thought I was being rude or nosy, but the woman speaking gave me a nasty/disgusted look. I then told a funny story to break the ice to another one and they all laughed.

        I don’t know. I just thought by our age, we would be over this junior high bs, but I guess not.

    2. periwinkle*

      With Meetups, just like with the rest of life, you aren’t always going to strike gold. Now that the bulk of my grad school is done (the rest is research so I’m not tied to weekly coursework anymore, yay), I’ve been trying to be more social. I attended a Meetup dinner and it was okay, not amazing but the company was fine and the food was yummy. Tried the same group a second time and realized that the group revolved around a small core of people who really weren’t that welcoming to newcomers – not hostile, but not interested in making an effort. Next!

      I’ve been trying out the “drink and craft project” type classes that seem to be everywhere all of a sudden. It seems like most people attend in pairs but I’m happy going solo. We’re all actually doing something so conversation is natural even for a hardcore introvert like me. I’m a dreadful painter, but one glass of sauvignon blanc and eh, it’s all good.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        With Meetups, just like with the rest of life, you aren’t always going to strike gold.

        This is so true. The first meetup group I tried here had some cool people in it, but it mostly had new folks each time we met. There was no real core group. And it always met in bars. And then the organizer flaked, and it morphed from cool people meeting in bars to middle-aged women meeting in museums and no men what. so. ever. I joined it in the first place hoping to meet guys, so that kind of killed it for me.

        The next one I tried, a new one for fans of Doctor Who, was SO much better. No dudes I want to date, but I’m actually much more comfortable with fellow geeks and we have a lot of fun. We do have a core group and are closer to friends than just random people.

  51. D.W.*

    My wedding day is 8 days away! The realization that I will no longer be a “me”, but a “we” is settling in big time. I’m super excited, but I find myself in a weird place when people invite me to events. I can’t just say “Yes” anymore. I’m teaching myself to say, “let me talk to SO about that, and I’ll get back to you”.

    I bought tickets to an event next month, and just realized I’m going to be married, and I didn’t mention it to SO!

    Also, reading up on the process to change my name and making a list of all the places I need to change it…not fun.

    1. Data Analyst / Software Engineer*


      But really, don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re still you, and that won’t change. Yes, the decisions you make no longer affect just you, but it’s more than just ok to think about just yourself from time to time. You can go to that event, and it’ll be fine. You can even enjoy it!

      What you probably ought to do though is set some guidelines with the SO about what does and does not require coordination… and when it’s ok to go to things by yourself. By that, I mean that in some couples, one half wants to do “everything” together, and the other is like “you know, I really don’t want to do that… but go and have fun anyway” and that causes some strife because the first half says “we’re a couple, we have to do everything together.”

    2. Epsilon Delta*

      Shared calendars are such a big help. I set up a google calendar for myself, one for my husband, and one for the kid’s activities. Husband and I both have access to all three calendars on our phones. That way we can quickly check to make sure there’s no conflict with family plans, and we don’t have to feel like we’re “asking permission” to do something like have dinner with a friend.

      And oh my gosh and the name change. If my maiden name wasn’t such a monstrosity, and if I didn’t enjoy paperwork as much as I do, I would have noped out of that.

      1. D.W.*

        That’s a really good idea, and kind of an obvious one. A little embarrassed that I didn’t think of it!

    3. Red Reader*

      Getting married in about 12 days. Also been through the name change process five times- it’s not as dire as people like to make it sound, once you get past the DMV (DOL, BMV, whatever your state calls it) and social security office. What order you do those depends on your state – in Michigan it was DMV then SS, in Washington the other way around. Many places (banks etc) don’t need the documentation and will just change over the phone for you. Order an extra copy of your license for passport updates though, I believe you have to mail in the original and while they send it back, god knows how long that could take.

    4. Red Reader*

      Getting married in about 12 days. Also been through the name change process five times- it’s not as dire as people like to make it sound, once you get past the DMV (DOL, BMV, whatever your state calls it) and social security office. What order you do those depends on your state – in Michigan it was DMV then SS, in Washington the other way around. Many places (banks etc) don’t need the documentation and will just change over the phone for you. Order an extra copy of your license for passport updates though, I believe you have to mail in the original and while they send it back, god knows how long that could take.

      In my experience a lot of the “how to change your name” advice lists assume you’re changing from scratch with the court and posting stuff in the paper and whatnot – changing through marriage removes a lot of that red tape.

      1. the gold digger*

        I changed my name when I got married and then changed it back. I wanted my own name back.

        My sister didn’t change her name legally when she married – she is a nurse practitioner and didn’t want to change all her licenses – but she uses her husband’s name socially.

        You can use a spouse’s name socially without the hassle of changing your name legally.

  52. Sibley*

    Ugh. Spent the morning working on the garage, it’s in worse shape than I thought. And got a small cut from rotting wood/rusty nail, so off to get a tetanus shot. Because I have no idea when I got the last one.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      I had all my injections as a child, then TB and Rubella jabs at Secondary School and thought nothing more of it until I moved countries and went to the Doctor for something else. He started asking me about my injections and now I have a small card with a record of all the injections he has given me.

      1. Really*

        Tetanus is recommended every 10 years but if it’s been over 5 years and you have an accident like yours you should get the shot then.

  53. Aphrodite*

    Has anyone else been thinking about the holidays? Yes, I know, they are still several months off but this is likely to be the first year my mom won’t be around (Hospice has been called in). So for me it will be the first time I can do exactly what I want. I have been debating and thinking and googling and reading about ideas and finally decided that no turkey will be seen in my household this year. The menus are as follows:

    Thanksgiving Dinner 2017
    Shrimp Cocktail
    Mosiac Salad
    Steamed Clams
    Steamed Corn on the Cob
    Garlic Bread
    Pumpkin Pie

    Christmas Eve Dinner 2017
    Dinner Roll
    Mosiac Salad
    Crockpot Mushrooms
    Roasted Endives with Thyme
    Dover Sole Meunière
    Winter Fruits with Flavored Oil & Vinegar

    Christmas Morning Breakfast 2017
    Fried Potatoes & Onions
    Bacon & Sausage
    Cilbar )
    Bloody Mary (virgin)

    Christmas Dinner 2017
    Shrimp Cocktail
    Caesar Salad
    T-Bone Steak (Grilled)
    Steamed Artichoke
    Garlic Potatoes or Garlic Bread
    Apple or Cherry Pie

    New Year’s Eve Dinner 2017
    Raw Artichoke and Parmigiano Salad
    Linguine with Clams

    New Year’s Day Breakfast 2018
    Breakfast Nachos or Migas or Crustless Leek and Gruyère Quiche or Huevos Rancheros
    Bloody Mary (virgin)

    1. Anono-me*

      I am sorry to hear about your mother.

      Those menus sound incredible. I want to spend the holidays at your house. Or at least I want your cookbooks for my Christmas presents.

      Seriously, which books have the recipes for the Christmas Eve soul and the New Year’s Day quiche please?

      1. Aphrodite*

        Thank you. It’s sad, but Mom has had a long and wonderful life. So I am at peace with it. Here are the recipes for the sole and the quiche. They are mostly mine or online.

        Sole Meunière
        ½ cup all-purpose flour
        2 4-ounce skinless, boneless sole fillets, patted dry
        Kosher salt, to taste
        Freshly ground white or black pepper, to taste
        2 tablespoons clarified butter
        2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
        1 1/2 tablespoons minced parsley
        1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

        Heat oven to 200 degrees and place a large oven-safe plate or baking sheet inside.

        Place flour on a large, shallow plate. Season both sides of fish fillets with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge fish in flour, shaking off excess.

        In a 12-inch nonstick or enamel-lined skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon clarified butter until bubbling. Place half of the fish fillets in the pan and cook until just done, 2 to 3 minutes per side, then transfer to the plate or baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Add 1 more tablespoon clarified butter to skillet and heat until bubbling, then cook remaining fillets. Wipe out the skillet.

        Arrange the fish on a warm serving platter. Top with parsley. In reserved skillet, heat remaining 4 tablespoons unsalted butter until bubbling and golden, 1 to 2 minutes, then pour evenly over fillets. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges on the side.

        Quiche: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/a8977/crustless-leek-gruyere-quiche-ghk0108/

    2. The Other Dawn*

      So sorry to hear about your mom.

      Those menus look absolutely amazing! I don’t I’d be able to get away with that in my family. I once tried introducing homemade cranberry sauce. My mom was the only who touched it out of like 20 people. If it’s not the can-shaped cranberry jelly, it ain’t cranberry sauce. :/

      1. Aphrodite*

        Ha,ha,ha,ha! I grew up on the canned variety too but about twenty years ago I made homemade for the first time. And fell madly in love with it. It took a while, but my family came to prefer it too.

        I know some still prefer the can. One guy I knew said that if it didn’t have ridges it wasn’t cranberry sauce.

    3. Aphrodite*

      Thank you, Anono-me. It’s sad, but Mom has had a long, wonderful life. So I am at peace with it. Here is the recipe for the sole and the quiche. Feel free to ask me for any other recipes. They are mostly mine or online, only a couple in cookbooks.

      I tried to reply to you but AAM keeps telling me I have already responded (even though nothing shows up). I am going to try to reply to myself and hope you see it.

      Sole Meunière
      ½ cup all-purpose flour
      2 4-ounce skinless, boneless sole fillets, patted dry
      Kosher salt, to taste
      Freshly ground white or black pepper, to taste
      2 tablespoons clarified butter
      2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
      1 1/2 tablespoons minced parsley
      1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

      Heat oven to 200 degrees and place a large oven-safe plate or baking sheet inside.

      Place flour on a large, shallow plate. Season both sides of fish fillets with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge fish in flour, shaking off excess.

      In a 12-inch nonstick or enamel-lined skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon clarified butter until bubbling. Place half of the fish fillets in the pan and cook until just done, 2 to 3 minutes per side, then transfer to the plate or baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Add 1 more tablespoon clarified butter to skillet and heat until bubbling, then cook remaining fillets. Wipe out the skillet.

      Arrange the fish on a warm serving platter. Top with parsley. In reserved skillet, heat remaining 4 tablespoons unsalted butter until bubbling and golden, 1 to 2 minutes, then pour evenly over fillets. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges on the side.

      Quiche: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/a8977/crustless-leek-gruyere-quiche-ghk0108/

      1. Anono-me*

        Thank you. It was very kind of you to write it all out.

        I try to do one new meal each weekend . If I can get to the nearby big city fish monger, we will try the sole.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Oh yeah, this topic is definitely starting to rumble around in my head. I LOVE planning holiday menus!

      I dont have Thanksgiving to plan here, but I really woudn’t mind doing some fish/seafood for one of our dinners this year. I prefer to not do a turkey either – Ive been known to do a beef wellington in the past, but ham made a comeback last year and that sounds pretty good again this year.

      A few years ago for new years we did a whole red snapper baked in salt that was amazing – would like to try that again!

      1. Aphrodite*

        The red snapper sounds fantastic! And beef wellington! I like it very much but in my planning this year I decided to make it as easy for myself as I could.

  54. Nicole*

    Visiting family in Arizona soon and it’s going to be HOT (over 100 degrees our entire visit) so the botanic garden and zoo are out of the question. Any suggestions for things to do to kill a few hours mid-day in the Mesa/Phoenix area? Bonus points if you know of any indoor places where dogs are welcome other than a pet store since we’re bringing her with us.

    1. Book Lover*

      I’m afraid I don’t know of anything pet friendly, as I don’t have a dog. I can think of lots of things for kids, but if for adults, I immediately think of the Heard Museum, Musical Instrument Museum, Taliesin West – I am pretty sure those aren’t pet friendly, though you could check websites.

      If you are a shopper, then Scottsdale Fashion Square or Kierland Commons (outdoor mall, but you would be under the misters when walking between shops).

      Not particularly Arizona specific, but you could go to Odysea and Butterfly Wonderland. You can get combined/package tickets to save money. I kind of think of this more for kids but that is because my idea of a good time is to just relax at home.

      Personally, I spend the summer in and by the pool.

      The zoo actually opens very early at this time of year and is doable but I wouldn’t unless I had kids to amuse.

      1. Nicole*

        Thanks for the ideas! I didn’t realize the zoo opened early. We don’t have kids but I love zoos, aquariums, and basically anything nature/animal related.

  55. Christy*

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a general contractor near Silver Spring MD? We need washer dryer hookups installed and we have not had any success with finding more than one person to bid on it. How frustrating! General advice happily accepted too.

    1. nonegiven*

      Took a couple months to find a bid for our roof. Another 2 months on the schedule, then 3 more weeks to show up.

      1. Christy*

        Oh my god. That’s so long. I mean I understand, you want to work with someone who already has work lined up, but geez.

    2. Jules the First*

      Have you tried Thumbtack? It’s an app for getting quotes from builders, handymen, and other contractors.

  56. zora*

    Neighbor question: Have a weird situation with our yard and I don’t know what to do. Is this normal? Any advice?

    Set up with our multi-unit building and the one next to us: we are both set at an angle, so the yard facing the street is technically along the side of our building, the front door of the building next door faces the yard. But my bedroom window is on the ground floor facing the yard. There is a huge, dense tree in front of my windows, so i’m very shielded from the street.

    Recently, someone (and I’m assuming it’s someone in the building next door, but not positive) has been putting furniture waayyy under the tree and about 2 feet in front of my window. Last week it was the lawn chairs belonging to next door, when I got home from work I moved them out to the sidewalk side of the yard. (Still our yard, but I don’t care if you sit on it. I just don’t want people hanging out literally under my bedroom window)

    Today I saw this ripped up armchair, which has been sitting on the curb for weeks, has been shoved under the tree right in front of my window.

    What is going on?? Who thinks they have a right to this yard and putting furniture on it. And what do I do? I am really uncomfortable with imagining people sitting directly under my bedroom window when I am several yards away from the sidewalk. I feel like that space should sort of belong to me, am I off base?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If this is a multi-dwelling building, like an apartment building, and there’s no patio door and patio that specifically belongs to each unit, then that whole area is probably considered a common area, unfortunately. It might be worth asking your landlord about, as it sounds like you’re renting. If it’s a common area, I believe that anyone who lives there has the right to use it, but they can’t leave anything there that’s not common property (think like a picnic table in a park; usually provided by the owner).

      1. zora*

        Right, but there is a patio on the other side of the building that the other residents of the building hang out in. I’m 99% sure that the people putting this furniture there are the people who live in the building next door, which it a totally separate building. That’s why it feels weird.

        But also just personal space, I feel like I would always stay several feet away from someone else’s window if I was just hanging out, not right up under someone elses window!

        I guess there’s not much I can do except keep moving the furniture away but it’s so annoying!

        1. Manuel*

          I hope I’m wrong, but is there any possibility someone could be standing on it and looking into your windows?

            1. zora*

              Ugh, possibly. Another reason it’s weird to push furniture up in front of someone else’s window. I’ll just keep moving the furniture away when I see it, not sure what else to do.

    2. overeducated*

      I think the space in a multi-unit building belongs to everyone – I live on the third floor but I have just as much right to use our little patch of yard as the first floor residents. (I just don’t stare in their windows if I want to hang out outdoors for a bit!) But by that standard I think it’s rude to put fixtures like huge armchairs in a common area that might prevent others from using it freely.

      1. zora*

        No, I agree, I’m talking about the people in the building next door using our yard. Because it is close to their front door, and I know the neighbors in my building all hang out in our patio space that is on the other side of the building.

        I’m wondering if it’s weird to go and sit in the yard of the building next door, because i feel like that’s weird. I would never do that, even if it’s physically closer to my front door. So weird.

        1. zora*

          Although I guess I feel like even if my neighbors who live in the building were hanging out in the front yard, I would expect them to stay toward the front half of the yard, and I would still think it was weird if they set up chairs within inches of my window.

  57. Amadeo*

    Y’all, I set a goal of the end of this month back at the beginning of summer to be down in the straddle splits for my TKD class/training and made the mistake of telling the Grand Master. He’s going to hold me to it, I am still 6 or so inches away and keep pulling a hamstring to the point of real pain instead of intense pressure and end up having to do the half-straddles (one leg out straight, the other down on bent knee) or I’d probably be there by now. I have brought home one of the school’s torture devices stretching machines. Pray for me, cuz if I don’t make it, I’m sure I won’t hear the end of it.

    1. BuildMeUp*

      Send him an article about that video of cheerleaders forced to do the splits and tell him the coach got fired? :)

      1. Amadeo*

        LOL! No one is physically forcing me to do something I cannot do. I can hard ‘no’ anything I’m uncomfortable with and he and the lady that own the school respect that. As a matter of fact I used a hard ‘no’ for the first time last week (we’re supposed to use ‘sir’ when we address him, but he chose to let it pass when I hardcore vetoed someone pushing on the stretching machine).

    2. Effie, moving forward s.l.o.w.l.y.*

      Wait, was your goal to have a full straddle split by the end of the summer? Because otherwise why are you being rushed? As a dance instructor, seeing the student work on it regularly should be enough. Even though training montages are cool (and can work on certain people), in regular life many people are not physically able to force their bodies without repercussions. You (general you) could tear a groin muscle!

      Hope this doesn’t sound too harsh, just…listen to your body! You’re the one who has to live inside it, not your instructor. Sounds like you know the difference between good pain and bad. Good luck!

      1. Amadeo*

        It was *my* goal, yes. It was something I really wanted to accomplish, as even as a little kid it was something I never could do. I’m closer now than I’ve ever been before, but between my fat, stiff little body and my continuously pulling a muscle