weekend free-for-all – January 5-6, 2019

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust, by Diana B. Henriques, the New York Times business correspondent who covered the scandal as it unfolded. Utter engrossing and reads like a novel.

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

{ 1,343 comments… read them below }

  1. Accidental criminal*

    Ok I’m sure this is silly but the wide world of the internet is overwhelming me on this.

    Basically, I got a traffic ticket over Christmas holidays and have no idea what I’m doing. The ticket says it was in a construction zone *with workers present* but I don’t think that was true. That’s going to make the ticket really expensive! But I also don’t know how contesting works, or if maybe workers present means something broader than I thought.

    Anyone familiar with this process? I’m in Texas if that’s relevant.

    1. Temperance*

      Typically the back of the ticket will tell you how to contest it, or at least that’s how it works in my state. If not, you can Google the location and time ticket and the appeal process will be on there.

      Did it come through the mail or were you given the ticket in person?

      In your situation, I might consider a traffic lawyer.

      1. Laurelma*

        In FL, a few years back construction zone with workers present was an additional $250.00. Does your ticket have a court date on it? Most of the counties had websites that you could go on line and pay by entering your ticket number, it would pull up the data. They would also have a pay date and a court date, etc on the ticket or the website. You can go to court and contest the workers present. Too bad you didn’t think to take a photo of the site when you got the ticket.

    2. Anononon*

      I would call an attorney and find out your options. With traffic tickets, they sometimes offer you “deals” that seem better, but actually aren’t. The cost of an attorney may be worth saving your record.

    3. Wulfgar*

      The ticket is going to be expensive, but it could also lead to points on your license and higher insurance rates.

      In PA., our traffic tickets have a place at the bottom where you agree with or dispute the ticket. If you dispute it, they will send you a court date by mail. If the cop doesn’t show up, the ticket is usually reduced or may even be dropped; it depends on the judge.

      I had three speeding tickets within six months back in the day. I became pretty familiar with the traffic court system. Everybody, including the ticketing officer, were friendly and helpful. It’s scary, but you’ll get through this.

      1. SignalLost*

        I, uh, had enough speeding tickets to lose my license once (5, in my state). You can probably also call whoever is listed as the contact to find out how to contest it – the last time I got a ticket I paid it because I had so many other problems and the woman who took the payment told me I should have contested it, which was accurate. However, you may have a time limit to contest in, so that’ll also be on the ticket.

        1. Not a cat*

          I’ve only ever had one ticket. But it was a doozy $-wise, When I went to pay it, the person at the court counter asked me, “Are you sure you don’t want to contest this?” I’d didn’t contest, but I regret it.

    4. Mrs. Fenris*

      I’ve had a few tickets. I’m in GA. They give you a court date, and if you want to dispute it you go on your date. Be prepared for it to be boring and time consuming. If the cop doesn’t show up, you may not have to pay it, and apparently that happens regularly. If you do have to pay, it will probably cost less if you go to court. Traffic court really, really doesn’t want to deal with all of those people, and they will give you a small deal just so they don’t have to give every one of them a hearing. If your violation was a common one, the judge may start the court session with a short speech that says “if you’re contesting it based on X or Y, forget it,” and a couple dozen people will roll their eyes and get in line to just pay the damn fine. Everyone involved will act more like you’re wasting their time than that they think you’re a criminal.

      Hiring an attorney for traffic court is unheard of in my state, but apparently it’s quite a thing in some states. In some states you start getting solicitations for attorneys as soon as you get the ticket.

      1. Green Kangaroo*

        I went to court when I got a speeding ticket, and the judge offered everyone the option of paying the fine but having the points waived. There was an option to go to court to fight it, but with the cost of an attorney, court fines, etc. it was much cheaper to pay the fine. No points meant that my insurance rates didn’t change.

        1. Look Out Below*

          That’s what happened with mine. I was a college student when I got my first ticket and went to court. I was super nervous but the judge only asked if this was my first ticket. When I said yes, he said I would be spared the points on my liscense as long as I paid the fine. The only bummer thing was that my court appearance was after the school year had ended so I had to drive two hours back to my college just to show up in court.

          1. Flash Bristow*

            Oh yeah, that happened to my ex… Drove down 3 hours from uni, for the holidays. Got pulled over ( “so sorry officer, was I driving a weeny bit fast?”) Fortunately the officer was into his cars so they chatted about performance(!) and all my ex got was the seven day wonder – i.e. present your licence at their police station within a week.

            BUT his licence was at uni… And he wanted to get this all done and dusted so it was dealt with and forgotten. (And possibly done while he was ostensibly visiting me, so his strict parents never found out?)

            So we made an impromptu road trip out of it, since otherwise I’d miss out on seeing my partner who I’d been waiting weeks for… In the car, 3 hours there, grab licence (on the side in the kitchen, as he’d described… Sitting there blatantly, like it was gloating at us…), back in the car, 3 hours home. Back for dinner, just about, but pretty knackered.

            We got thru a lot of eye-spy that day.

            1. Doc in a Box*

              Oh boy, he’s lucky. In my state, driving without your license on you gets your car impounded until you produce your license, plus fine and points.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t remember if that was a thing in mine; it was just an assembly line of “Guilty or not guilty” and you basically stood in line and went in front of the judge and said your plea. Nobody in front of me pleaded not guilty, so I didn’t get to see what happened if they did.

          I just pled guilty and paid the fine. It was a moving violation (failure to yield, which caused a minor accident) and is now far enough in the past that it’s not a thing. I got a point or two but I think it went away after I had a certain amount of time with no violations.

          The point of that ramble is basically this: it happens to the best of us.

      2. Anonno*

        I kept hearing stories about people getting their tickets waived so I went to court. They weren’t letting anyone off unless they had an attorney. They had you meet with the city attorney, who answered questions and argued in the court’s favor. But they did offer a lot of people a deferred adjudication (ie probation) – you pay the fine and if you don’t get another ticket within 90 days, they remove it from your record. I think some towns are stricter than others. It may depend on how much they count on tickets as a source of revenue. Don’t get pulled over on a major highway in a rural area! The speed trap might be a big source of income for them and they might be pretty invested in making people pay.

        1. Anonno*

          Oh, I’m also in Texas and tickets look different depending on the town or agency that issued it. But at minimum there should be a phone number to call if you have questions. If not, you can contact the city hall or main office for whomever wrote the ticket.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      There’s usually information on the back about how to contest the ticket. Also, to make your case, go and take photos of the site: signs, etc.
      Often, when it goes to traffic court no one shows up. If you can present your case logically, it may be dismissed or reduced. Good luck!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      In NYS fines double in a construction zone. How much were you over the limit by?

      I just googled “speeding tickets TX work zone” and this was the first thing that came up. It sounds just like what you were saying here.

      The advice makes sense to me (my husband was into fighting tickets and he got good at it, sigh).

      In NY, you can request a supporting deposition. This is a document that explains the details of your ticket. Some mistakes on a supporting dep can cause a ticket to get thrown out. My husband got a ticket of mine tossed out because the officer id’ed me as male. Failing to identify the offender correctly is a huge error. Might be unique to NY but the officer has 30 days to provide that supporting dep, if no document arrives you can ask for the case to be dismissed.

      Have a copy of your driving record with you when you go to court. You can probably get this online through your DMV. If you have a good driving record, that is something you want to be sure the prosecutor/judge knows.

      Good luck. I do agree with this attorney when she said by the sheer fact you showed up for court, you will probably get some reduction in charges. You might pay a similar amount in fines but you won’t have points (if TX uses a point system).

      One thing I learned from my husband, when you get to court be nice to everyone. This will go a long way to helping your case. I remember sitting in court waiting for my husband’s turn and some folks were Not Nice. I honestly think they got charged more fines based on their sense of entitlement or being above the law. It’s far better to state why you can’t pay a big fine- such as tuition debt, kids, laid off, health issues, etc. Instead, show regret, show understanding that you won’t do it again. Courts are getting more and more aware that people just can’t pay and it’s not a crime to be poor or to have bills/commitments. If the prosecutor/judge believe that you will change what you are doing, the fine MIGHT be lowered. Once the fine is set, ask for a payment plan if that will help you.

      Go early, sign in and then watch how it goes for other people. You might get a sense of what works and what doesn’t work with a particular judge. Plan on spending a large chunk of time at court. From what I saw at least 90% of the people there did not bother getting an attorney. They opted instead just to talk with the prosecutor and judge.

      1. Natalie*

        One thing I learned from my husband, when you get to court be nice to everyone

        So true. The only time I contested a ticket, the person in front of me was arguing so intensely with the judge she called security. (In my county you just talk to the judge in their office, so there’s no bailiff or whatever.) After that guy she seemed relieved that I was reasonably polite and concise and the whole thing took five minutes.

        1. nonegiven*

          My husband was in a small claims case and the judge threatened to charge the other guy with contempt for backtalk.

      2. Flash Bristow*

        UK here, but might be relevant: my ex caused an accident, went to court. Pled guilty of course, but fed them the “impoverished student” line. He actually was one of the richest people I knew, with a trust fund awaiting him at 21, and millionaire parents… But I digress.

        Judge said that as he was a poor student, he’d only get the minimum fine.

        Instead, he gave the maximum number of points…

        So, be careful what you wish for.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          In the US if he pled guilty to the original charge, then the points are assigned on that basis and the judge cannot lower the points. If he wanted less points then he would have to have the charge reduced.The joke is that DMV is god because they have final say as to points and DMV fees.
          The judge does have some leeway over the amount of the fine.
          A good judge should make the person aware of the fines and points they are agreeing to, BEFORE they formally plead guilty. This is so they know what they are getting before they commit to it. OTH, some folks rush through the process and try to figure it out after all is said and done.

    7. Hmmm*

      I’m not in Texas, but in my state if you get a traffic ticket you essentially can show up and just pay a fine and get no points on your license. Everyone who got pulled over by the same officer shows up, you all get the same reduction, and that’s that.

    8. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I’m in Texas too, you can usually contest it or do defensive driving to keep it off your record. You can only do defensive driving once per year.

    9. blackcat*

      I agree with others saying contest it. You may get it knocked down to a less serious ticket or waived all together.

    10. bunniferous*

      this is worth getting an attorney over. Sometimes they can take care of things before you even have to go to court. But that is in NC so I will defer to any Texas residents weighing in.

    11. Catsmm*

      I’m in Alabama, and here we can do something called traffic school. You pay for the school (usually one Saturday class and about the same as the ticket) and the fine is forgiven and it’s not reported to your insurance.

    12. Tarheel ticket*

      The last time I got a traffic ticket (rolled through a stop sign — on campus! on Labor Day! early in the morning! I was literally the only person driving with 1/4 mile of that intersection!), I got letters from lawyers within a couple of days. Picked one, lawyer went to court for me, entered a prayer for judgment continued, I didn’t violate any other traffic laws for X years, I got no points on insurance, and have no violations on my record. The lawyer wasn’t cheap, but it was a LOT less than points on insurance, that’s for sure. I’m not sure if this is something you can do in Texas.

    13. Champagne_Dreams*

      I’m in Texas. I got a ticket for speeding in a school zone, which was total BS. I’d slowed down for the school zone, exited the school zone, and had sped up to the normal speed limit. It was a completely BS ticket. I was so mad that I got a traffic lawyer. It took forever but the whole thing got completely dismissed and the lawyer cost me less than the ticket would have. Ask around your friends and co-workers, I’ll bet at least one of them has a traffic lawyer they can recommend.

    14. pancakes*

      If you can challenge it on the internet or take the time off to show up in person—if that’s the only option—it could be well worth doing so. It’s entirely within your rights and simply sensible to ask them to prove / establish / show you & the court somehow that construction workers were in fact present. Do they have timesheets from workers that show hours and location? (Names would be redacted). Camera footage?

    15. Flash Bristow*

      Oh you poor thing. Can happen to anyone. Here in the UK if you weren’t toooooo far over, you get offered a speed awareness course for a first offence. Costs more than the fine and humiliates you, but keeps your clean record. (A relative did it, I was really curious to know what happened, but they were ashamed and clammed up. I guess the course did its job….)

      So I’m shocked your only choice is “pay or go to court”. My sympathies.

      The construction zone thing is also alien to me. My impression of the US is that pretty much everyone drives and a car is essential… (Is that true, big cities notwithstanding?) so I guess I’d assumed your rules were more laissez faire – expecting everyone from teens to great-grannies behind the wheel – rather than tighter than ours. Wow.

      I agree with the others, even if it costs more than the fine, do hire a lawyer if it will keep your record pristine and shiny. Best of luck. Hope it works out.

    16. Copenhagen*

      I don’t know anything about traffic tickets, but I do have a story to hopefully make you feel better:

      My father in law got a ticket for speeding, when we were visiting Spain. It got sent to him in Denmark, where he lives, but it was all in Spanish, so he had to get my sister in law to come over and translate it for him. So she translated it, and when she was done she turned the ticket over, and asked her dad “Soooo… Why did you need me to translate, since it’s all written out in english on this side?”.

    17. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’d definitely look into challenging it. I got a ticket in a construction zone once but it was clearly a bit of a set up as there was a line of police waiting out of sight to pull people over as soon as they passed them, and there were no signs to warn that there was construction ahead. I went to court to challenge it and the judge was reducing the fine for everyone who had been caught up in the same trap. My ticket was reduced from $200 to $20 and no points.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Forgot to mention the salient detail that I would not have been speeding if there had not been a temporary limit for the construction zone.

    18. Just me*

      Last time I got a speeding ticket, I contested it. Ticket was for about $200. Went to court. Didnt see the judge, just a court clerk. Told her what happened and there was no way in hell the cop could have clocked me going 55 on this winding, hill back road. She asked me where it was. Told her. Turns out she knew the road. She said she would throw my ticket out if I agreed to pay $100 to the tax deductible victims advocacy fund. Jumped at that. No points, my ticket showing up on my record and it was a tax deductible donation. Win-win-win as far as I was concerned.

  2. T.M.*

    There should be instructions on the ticket. If not, look at the website of the city or town that issued the ticket. My city (Sacramento) has an online form you can fill out.

  3. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

    Cat question! Our cats, Calvin & Hobbes, are brothers and best buddies who have been raised together. A week ago, Calvin spent the night at the vet (he’s better now), but when he came home, Hobbes began hissing and growling – a first for this laid-back cat. We kept them apart and gave Calvin a bath (!!!). Hobbes again hissed & growled. We swapped blankets between them so Hobbes could get Calvin’s scent, and swapped the rooms they were in so no one cat had the run of the house. Now, they can hang out in the same area but they give each other a wide berth. Sometimes Hobbes will come over and sniff Calvin for several seconds, then give a small hiss and walk away.

    Anyone have any tips for reuniting estranged kitties?? I’ve lurked long enough to know that the cat love is strong in this group. :)

    Our vet recommended Feliway, a diffuser that calms cats. It comes in the mail today, so we’ll try it as soon as we can.

    Both are male, neutered.

    Hobbes has never acted like he would fight. He’s not bullying Calvin (running him off). If Calvin is where he wants to be, he’ll look mournfully at the spot and walk away (before they would squish themselves into a spot together & cuddle).

    Calvin has never hissed back. You can tell he’s confused and wants to be with his buddy, but he’s not pushing Hobbes.

    I can pet Calvin and rub his face, then immediately hold my hand out to Hobbes. He’ll sniff my hand and then want to be petted with it. It’s as though he recognizes Calvin, but is still miffed. Like when someone jumps out and scares you – after a moment, you know who it is, but you’re still mad as heck.

    I think they are SO CLOSE to flipping the switch and going back to their old bond, but Hobbes is still getting in his little hisses – small ones, but he’s not over this issue yet.

    Are we doing the right things and just need to wait, or is there another way to bring back the love? We’re trying Feliway diffuser this afternoon – any other tips? Kitty photo tax paid in my link name.

    1. Worked in IT forever*

      No advice, but one of our cats (who is normallly pretty passive) has always hissed at any other cat who has spent time at the vet. The hissing goes away within a day or two in her case, but it sounds like you are making progress with your cat.

      I think the hissing for a while is a very common problem—that some cats just think “you smell different and I don’t like it.”

    2. Cat Person*

      Yes, just wait. I have had this happen before too. It may take a couple of days, but they will soon be back to normal. Even though you bathed him, the other cat may still detect a trace of the dreaded vet on him. Don’t force them together, they’ll forget what they’re doing one day, and start chasing or playing together, and all will be forgiven.

    3. Art3mis*

      I think you’re doing the right thing. I think Calvin just came back smelling weird and Hobbes was like “Yo what’s that about?” I think they’ll go back to being buddies again soon. I think there was an episode of My Cat From Hell about this and Jackson Galaxy basically had to reintroduce them, which is what you’re doing with the scent swapping. I’ve tried Feliway and I can’t say that it worked, but it doesn’t hurt and I’ve heard it working well for other cats, so why not try it.

    4. Accidental criminal*

      This happened to mine after something scared one of them! It took a few days keeping them separate and I started carrying the one that hadn’t been scared to get the one used to him again. And feliway helped. Best of luck! I’m sure it’ll get better soon.

    5. Old Woman in Purple*

      Cats are smell-oriented like Humans are sight-oriented. When one cat in a multiple-cat household goes to the vet alone, s/he comes back ‘smelling funny’, which the other cats find upsetting.

      My solution has been to always take all cats to the vet together, even if only one cat needs attention…. the others are just along for the ride…. avoids the issues you describe, as they all end up with the same ‘new smells’.

      With an overnight stay involved, I would take the ‘didn’t-stay-over cat’ along when picking up the ‘overnight cat’, making sure both cats are petted by vet/vet-techs so kitties have similar smells & stress-from-car-ride levels. Yes, this makes THAT TRIP more of a hassle, but overall it is less bother than the multiple-day not-getting-along thing.

      1. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

        That’s a great idea about taking the second cat to the vet to pick up the first. They normally both go together, but the overnight stay changed that.

      2. That girl from Quinn's house*

        You’re very lucky your vet is patient enough to do this, I can imagine this doesn’t work with all veterinary clinics.

      3. Cheryl*

        I do this with dogs and call it moral support. And I did the same thing the last time I had to put one down. I wanted them to be able to say goodbye, so they wouldn’t pace the house looking for the other.

    6. Roja*

      Yeah, you might just need to wait. Our two had a spat that lasted for a few weeks some years ago. It was utterly mystifying and cleared up after three or so weeks. We didn’t even do the Feliway or anything like that, so you’re way ahead of us!

    7. The Redshirt*

      This all sounds fairly normal, and you’re doing the right things. Cats often get grumpy when their pal returns from the vet smelling All Weird Like. Something else that you can try is feeding them very tasty food at the same time in the same room. Keep the dishes at a respectful cat distance, but within sight of each other. The pleasant taste of tuna might help the cats remember that they actually like each other. You can also give treats as a distraction when the situation seems tense.

    8. cat socks*

      Aww, they’re so cute! This happens all the time with my four cats. Baby Panther is the most sensitive of the bunch and it will take a few days for her to come around. You are doing all the right things! Hope they get back to normal soon.

    9. Forrest Rhodes*

      I agree with other commenters—this will pass. I had to deal with it only once, when tortoiseshell Mouse had to spend a night at the vet. When I brought Mouse home the next day, her first action was to approach her tortie littermate and lifelong pal (they were even spayed on the same day), Cat, for a “welcome home” and some consolation.
      Cat immediately launched into her Annoyed Cobra routine, fuzzing up to double her size and hissing at maximum intensity. Mouse backed off, confused—I could see her thinking, “Hey, you idiot! It’s me!”
      Cat then marched over to give me a “You brought the wrong one back, you jerk!” glare and wouldn’t have anything to do with me either.
      We were back to normal in a day or so, though, and I’m sure you will be too.

    10. Laika*

      Another ‘just wait’ comment here – time and patience! We’ve had to re-introduce our younger cat to the older four times now (!) post-vet visit, and it’s taken anywhere from a week to a month for them to get back into their routines. Scent swapping and separating them into different rooms if someone starts to get worked up is definitely the right way to go. In my experience, there’s no single lightbulb moment that goes off and they’re suddenly ‘friends on’ again, but instead the hissing just slowly tones down as the aggressive cat readjusts and after a while you’ll catch them snuggling/behaving normally and more and more often, even if there’s periodic bouts of annoyance.

      As for Feliway, we bought the multicat/friends diffusers and they worked a charm! Since it takes about a week to be totally effective it was hard to say whether it was the diffuser or that they’d just worked it out themselves, but there was definitely a difference in introductions with vs. without Feliway. (YMMV – I’ve read it just doesn’t work for some kitties.) Now we just buy a refill and plug them in a week early if we know there’s a vet appointment coming up. We’ve also tried dabbing them both with pure vanilla extract (*apparently* it’s a strong enough scent that it can overrule their ‘stranger danger’ response) and I’m not sure how effective that was, but they both smelled like freshly baked cookies for a week so that was nice.

      The hardest part for me was seeing the younger cat get rejected (like your Calvin) and her disappointment, but it hasn’t seemed to affect their long-term relationship. Considering your boys are bonded brothers I’m sure they will be back to normal soon. :) Please update us!

      1. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

        I can’t imagine four times! Normally they go to the vet together, but the overnight stay threw that off. Just plugged in the Feliway. Good to know it can take up to a week. I think they will have worked it out by then, but I like the idea of having it pre & post vet visit. They’re sleeping a few inches from each other now, so I’ll take it. :)

    11. Purl*

      Have you tried getting them playing together? Get them in one space and too distracted by a wand toy or laser pointer to notice weird smells or hissing from the other, yet close enough that they start forming good associations with each other. Do that often while you wait it out.

      1. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

        I thought about that, just haven’t tried it yet. I think a laser pointer would make them both forget their tiff. Hobbes especially is a sucker for it.

    12. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

      Thanks for your comments, everyone! I needed the reassurance that they’ll get there in their own time.

      They’re currently both sleeping about 6 inches from each other. Hobbes was there first, and gave a tiny growl when Calvin approached, but didn’t object to Calvin settling down at his feet. Progress! I just can’t abide the drama. :)

      I didn’t realize just how important two sweetly snuggling kitties is to the overall comfort of my home. :)

      1. MissDisplaced*

        We have to remember that our indoor cats are still very territorial and mark territory (and us) by smell and may defend it by hissing. This upset does seem a little lengthy for a overnight vet visit, and I’m not sure why, but it’s still definitely the “I don’t like your smell” category. I think it will fade.

      2. Aurora Leigh*

        A friend of mine had this happen and what sped the process up for her boys was taking some water drained off of canned tuna and rubbing it on the cat that had been at the vet’s overnight. The at home cat groomed him all over and they were back to being best buds! The yummy tuna smell probably helped cover up the weird vet smell too.

        1. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

          I haven’t heard that one before! Might help, since Calvin isn’t the best at bathing himself and it’s starting to show since Hobbes isn’t cleaning him either. :)

          1. Gerald*

            I’d suggest doing it sparingly (if at all), as you don’t want to have to bathe a cat who smells of tuna. It’s a good idea in theory, but would make things worse if the cats don’t behave as planned.

    13. EmilyG*

      This has happened to me once with my two young sister cats. The only thing that helped that no one has mentioned yet is taking a washcloth, rubbing the facial scent areas of the stay-home cat (in front ears and along chin) and then rubbing the washcloth on the vet-visit cat. Same idea as your bedding thing but focused directly on the areas that produce scent.

    14. Autumnheart*

      One of my cats hisses and growls anytime one of the other cats goes to the vet. She even does it when SHE was the one at the vet and is the weird-smelling one. It’s annoying, but it tapers off over 2-3 days, then everything is back to normal.

    15. Minocho*

      My little less than 6 pound female will destroy the world when she or any other cat in the household goes to the vet. She was a terror when we evacuated for hurricane Harvey as well, terrorizing her brother and the old man non stop until she collapsed in exhaustion, only to rise, refreshed, and start the hissing and growling all over.

      The old man just sort of shrugged and kept his distance. Her brother was seriously upset by her attacks and kept trying to approach for cuddles and reassurance.

      Loving on both of them and giving them time is the only thing that really helped. I always try to give her as much space as possible, and always leave her an avenue of retreat so she doesn’t feel cornered.

  4. Teapot Translator*

    I had two weeks off work and I failed to do most of the things I wanted to do. I spent it mostly sleeping. I needed it, but still… So, the beginning of January will be dedicated to catching up. What are your plans for January?

    1. Lena Clare*

      Sometimes that’s just what you need to do on holiday!
      I worked over the festive period, but I have just started a week ahead off now :)
      I’m looking forward to chilling out, napping, reading, getting back into writing, and trying to do some chores! But I’m definitely not going to push myself to do much in my week off.

      The rest of January I’m going to be continuing to look for a new job, and also starting dating again! I think I’ll need lots of luck for that.

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      Getting back into running/exercising (I had a couple of weeks off in between my old and new jobs over Christmas, which meant I could go for a run in the morning, and I realised how much I missed it)
      Making a dent in my reading pile – as part of my whole ‘no spending money on unnecessary things’ approach I’m trying to read all the books I have before buying any new ones
      Decluttering! I have a ton of old clothes, book, general junk etc that just needs to go. I’m doing a 31 day declutter challenge on Instagram where I throw/give away one item a day and so far it’s going pretty well.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I claim that I am not going to buy more books, but I am full of it. The Bookbub email will come one day, and I will be powerless to resist its charms. However, I am buying a LOT fewer books since I got hooked up to our public library/Overdrive. I have to wait to read new releases/popular books, but it saves so much money.

    3. Trixie*

      Me too! But I did enjoy some Netflix binging while “puttering.” I had almost a month off and sounds lovely, but my house is usually freezing so not as cozy as it could have been. Looking at January, I’m backing to organizing/purging. I have random stuff throughout that just needs to be collected in a box and tackled like it was a massive junk drawer. More immediately, I’m enjoying the process of decorating my office and cutting my own mats for posters/framing. Also jump starting my wellness schedule. Eating better, drinking more water, and moving more often.

    4. Alpha Bravo*

      Working on interior construction for my new barn; building stall, feed and tack areas. I don’t anticipate completing the work this month but I do hope to get it started.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My motto for the year is “Finish the unfinished.” That umbrella covers a lot of things, so this post could be long.
      The most critical tasks are to finish some unexpected repairs on our no longer all that new house so we can move to things like redoing the home office (the built-in desks & cabinets are repurposed kitchen cabinets, and although they’re eye-catchingly pretty, the space is inefficient.)
      Second, I’m going to start looking for a job with a shorter commute and a more evenly managed project load.
      Third, I’m getting back into a regular exercise habit that fell by the wayside because of how tired I’ve been at the end of the day. (Nothing impressive, just enough to compensate for a desk job & long commute: walking outside every day and lap swimming at least 1/week.)
      Finally, I’m going to finish a few embarrassingly old craft projects….or donate them.
      I’m hoping for enough improvement to sleep more soundly by 2020.

    6. cat socks*

      Same here! I hosted Christmas dinner for the first time and it was more work than expected. I spent the rest of the time sleeping and being lazy. I meant to clean out my fridge, but that didn’t get done. My goal is to do that sometime this month. I tackled my pantry during Thanksgiving break and I’ve been managing to keep it organized.

    7. Post-caregiver burnout*

      Cleaning the apartment, hopefully. I’ve got one spare room that probably has to wait ’till February, though, because I’ve stored my spare papers there and it’s a wreck.

    8. Sick Civil Servant*

      I just got back from a 10 day vacation in an exotic location with my 13 & 16 year old daughters. My migraines bothered me so we didn’t spend lots of time touring the city. Instead, my kids had the courage to leave me in the hotel room and go shopping on their own. They enjoyed themselves. So they didn’t see every touristy thing the city had to offer. They found a great dim sum place & a great pizza place. The girls got along, even in a small hotel room with all three of us sharing one small bathroom. If everyone comes away happy, it’s a successful vacation!

    9. t.i.a.s.p.*

      This thread makes me feel a lot better about not getting ANYTHING done over the holidays. I have both severe house mess/clutter to deal with and a massive amount of paperwork for volunteer organizations (sorting, filing, and doing year end statements that should have been done a while ago). Kind of feeling panicky. Oh well, just have to get working.

  5. Julene*

    What do you do to avoid boredom? I’m single, mid-30s and most of my friends/family live out of state. Since I gave up dating apps (best decision I’ve made in years) I have very little to do in my downtime other than watch tv or go outside and exercise. I already volunteer but still find myself climbing the walls with boredom on weekends. Any tips?

    1. annakarina1*

      I like watching movies, taking workout classes, doing errands, and joining up with meetup groups. That’s a few things I do to keep from being bored.

    2. MissGirl*

      I joined a Meet-Up group for hikers. Meet-Up has groups for everything under the sun. Are you a communist who likes to drink wine and hunt squirrel, there’s probably a group for that. It gives you an excuse to get out and do something new. It may take trying some different groups to meet people. The one I joined was too big and varying to form relationships but it got me out.

    3. Lena Clare*

      I don’t know what Meetups.com I’d like, but maybe that’s an option for you? I’d really like to go to my local hiking group but they meet on weekdays, so I guess that might say something about the average age of the members if they’re retired…

      Anyway, alternatively have you got any kind of crafty hobbies that you could join a group for? Like Knit and Natter, or a choir maybe?

      Or if you don’t mind doing hobbies in your own, how about reading, worrying, art.

      Oh, I used to do quite a few adult ed classes at the local uni. The art history one was good.

      How about local history?
      Or you could maybe do your family tree.

        1. Flash Bristow*

          Brilliant! Worrying makes a great resolution because it’s one everyone can complete at some point without even trying…I

          The best resolution I’ve heard so far is “I resolve to have a resolution next year.”

          The more I try to get my head around whether or how it is self-fulfilling, the more confuzzled I get. Yet at the same time I think it’s doable…?

        2. Earthwalker*

          I’ve been worrying in a lackadaisical manner until now but this year I could focus my efforts on becoming an truly excellent worrier. At last, a new years resolution I could keep!

          1. CAA*

            Anyone can start a meetup, so you could always start The Saturday Hikers Club. Plan out one hike per month for 6 months and see who else responds. Everyone brings their own food, water and gear, so all you’re really doing is saying “let’s meet at this trail head at this time and hike 5 miles”. If you want to get more notice, look for a Facebook group for events or activities in your town and post the info there as well.

            1. Junior Dev*

              You could also post flyers at a sporting goods store for it, or at wherever permits are sold to park at trail heads.

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      I read or write but I’m never bored when I’m by myself; I’m often bored in company so I feel my advice may not work for you.

      However, have you considered finding a dog shelter and seeing if they’ll let you volunteer as a dog walker as well for when you go out and exercise. Often the company of a dog, even for a few hours, does wonders for boredom because you end up talking to the animal and laughing at what they get up to.

    5. WellRed*

      I read, cook, tv, etc. I am late 40s now, so not such an issue but in my mid 30s had the exact issue you are having. Got myself a part time retail job.

    6. Teapot Translator*

      I joined a hiking club. I’ve taken a lot of different classes over the years (knitting, sewing, pottery, singing and piano lessons…) I also work part-time as freelancer (in addition to my full-time job). I don’t often get the time to be bored.

    7. alex b*

      I’m in a similar situation, and my dogs are what keep me not bored. Dogs require constant and consistent care but also provide opportunities to do stuff beyond just their regular walks/playtime (eg “let’s all get on the subway and go check out that new dog park!” “let’s try out a doggie bacon bubble machine!” “let’s go to that beach that’s dog-friendly in winter months!”).
      Another hobby that I fully plan to embrace at some point is cultivating either a bonsai tree or orchids.
      I guess generally I like nurturing entities that aren’t people (I teach and work in higher ed; my work week is all about catering to individual human needs and whims). I’m kind of a loner outside of work, but I’m honestly never bored. Another thing is that I am always listening to interesting podcasts while doing other stuff.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        On that note, a local big brother/big sister thing would also give you an opportunity to try new parks, etc.

    8. SignalLost*

      Meetup! Bear in mind that it will take time before you find your people (I join a bunch whenever I get the sads and rarely go to them because of timing, etc) but if you have some hobbies I find those better than professional meetups.

    9. Marion Ravenwood*

      Another vote for Meetup. I’d say join a lot of different interest-related groups (even if you don’t go to all or any of the events – the group I’m an organiser in has several hundred members and at most about 20 or so of those come to an event) to see what’s on offer, and as SignalLost says don’t be disheartened if the first one doesn’t necessarily stick. It took me a year before I found a group that I see regularly outside Meetup events, and two others that I’d consider myself a regular at.

      The other things I do to stave off boredom are reading, watching TV, going to concerts (I’m lucky enough to live in a city where there are lots of free/cheap shows on offer), writing’/taking photos for my blog and sewing.

    10. Canadian Natasha*

      I try to make sure I have things to do on a regular basis that hit multiple areas of growth or interest: brain/learning (language lessons), creativity (art class, going into nature & taking pics, writing), relationships (friend dates, coffee dates or video calls with relatives- depending if they’re local), health (martial arts, making interesting meals with new ingredients), spiritual (church, reading theology books, nature visits), bravery (planning & taking solo trips). If you can identify an area in your life that feels lacking you could look for a class or activity to fill that gap. That’s worked pretty well for me so far. :)

    11. DuPont Circle Travel*

      If you can afford it, maybe look into a theatre subscription, if there’s a good one around. It won’t be every weekend, but something to look forward to every couple of months (usually, depending on their schedule) and will give you a fun night out supporting the arts! And there’s the plus that going to watch a play can be a communal thing, especially if you end up sitting near other subscribers that can be dependable seat mates.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      What do you love? That’s where to start. I was involved with a history club for years until my commute burned me out on the travel… so I’m trying to find people who do the parts I miss the most without the driving. For me that’s crafts, music, cooking, and being outside. I’ve got people for two of those things… three when summercomes again. And once i clicked ‘interested’ on a few Facebook events, I’m seeing posts for more. So I’m sure I’ll find more.
      Good luck!

    13. Cat*

      I’m 35 and single and moved to a new city six months ago so I kind of had to reinvent myself. I have been going to a meet-up group for women in their 30s which does a lot of interesting activities. I haven’t made lifelong friends or anything but it’s nice to have a built-in way to do things. I also started volunteering at my local Humane Society. It’s just nice to go in and snuggle the dogs and feel like I’m doing something useful at the same time. Oh, and I got my own dog, which has been great.

    14. Tookie Clothespin*

      If you are at all crafty, I just joined Bluprint. They have a ton of options, including things like yoga, sewing and cake decorating. I like it because I don’t have to commit to a class, I can do it when I feel like it. They were having a free box promotion when I signed up, so I paid for a years subscription and they sent me all of the supplies needed to knit three different projects. (They have boxes for a bunch of different disciplines, not required but gets you started)

    15. Laika*

      I just discovered that our public library offers free online course access to various (otherwise paywalled) websites, like Lynda and Rosetta Stone – maybe something like that is available in your area, if that might capture your interest?

    16. irene adler*

      I take classes at the local community college and at the university extension.
      I’m always working -slowly- towards some kind of certificate: Real Estate, Python, Medical Device -Regulatory, interior design, etc.

    17. Ranon*

      This might be more weekdays than weekends, but you could get involved with your community at the political level- my city has tons of citizen advisory boards, I’m part of an org that meets once a month to work towards political solutions to climate change, and there are many, many other options- I find it fills a different bucket for me than volunteering does.

      A religious community, particularly if there’s a background you have an affinity towards, is another option- even if you lean atheist the Unitarians have room for you.

      Building up more community and links with people however you do it is both a good way to combat boredom and generally good for your health- particularly if you’re far from family it’s nice to have local people to count on and it sounds like you at least have the time to build those relationships.

    18. Look Out Below*

      That funny because I was just thinking that I couldn’t remember the last time I was bored in my own home. At a family dinner I’d rather skip, sure! But in my own home, with no plans with friends or volunteering, there is so much for me to do. I do a lot of crafting, either cross stitching or cosplay/costumes. I also do a lot of reading. Recently I took up puzzles as something to keep my hands busy while I watch TV.

    19. MissDisplaced*

      I know some people do like meetups.com for fun group activities like kayaking, wine tasting, hiking, etc. I think it’s a nice thing to have because you can do things you might not want to do by yourself.
      When I was single and was by myself, I liked going to museums or day trips to local attractions in nearby cities, or to the beach. And of course shopping! But I do agree that as you get older some things you used to enjoy (like amusement parks, malls, movies, arcades, etc.) don’t fit the bill anymore.

      Note: Even though I’m married now, I still travel for work, and thus often have solo time in strange cities. When I was in London by myself, I went and enjoyed the theatre every night “guilt-free” because it’s something my husband hates.

    20. HannahS*

      I started a blog about my sewing and knitting projects, which forces me to write, learn a bit about photography, learn a tiny bit about how to more effectively use a computer, and gives me (in a positive way) pressure to make stuff instead of lying on the couch watching youtube videos.

    21. GoryDetails*

      Have you tried geocaching? (See the geocaching.com site for more info.) If you like excuses to wander around the area, have a GPS device of some kind, and enjoy treasure-hunting, that might be a good match for you. (If the area you’re in is sparse in caches, perhaps this wouldn’t work out, but you won’t know until you look.) I mix it with trips to interesting restaurants or brew-pubs or historical sites – or Little Free Libraries, as books are perhaps my main hobby.

    22. Prof_Murph*

      I’m right there with you. I find myself bored very very often. I have a good job that gives me A LOT of free time. Sounds ideal, but as a single person, it means keeping myself engaged. I only have a small social circle so trying to find things for me to do on my own is getting more challenging. I feel guilty if I read all day (which is my most favorite thing to do) or binge-watch – and I do these things a lot. I have a few crafts I like but I get bored of those too. Going to the gym is helpful and I getting to like that more. I like cooking a lot, but cooking for one can be a drag. While I have done Meetups and found some that were fun, I’ve stopped going because I got sick of all the awkwardness of meeting new people. But maybe I just need to find the right group. I guess I’m not offering much but just commiserating and good to hear that I’m not alone in this challenge.

    23. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m a big fan of being a tourist in my own town. This can be easy or challenging, depending on where you live. I When I was fresh out of college, I lived outside of DC and knew no one (and had very little extra money), so I would go to a different museum every weekend. When I moved to NYC and knew no one (and had very little extra money), I spent a lot of time walking and exploring. If you have museums or galleries in your town, or nice parks, they can be great to explore. Since you’re on your own, you can go at your own pace and not worry about anyone else’s preferences. I spent a lot of time planning and figuring out my routes, so it was something to look forward to on my very, very, VERY quiet weekends.

    24. RebeccaNoraBunch*

      I am your age and a single woman…I have a dog and I’m also a standup comic. Between those two, meal prepping, trying to exercise, and occasionally dating, I’m overwhelmingly busy.

      Then again comedy isn’t for everyone, haha. But maybe pursuing a creative passion would be good?

  6. LGC*

    Might as well get the first running dispatch of the year started! I know that it’s not the best weather (in either hemisphere), but what do you guys have planned for the next few months?

    My big ones are the Boston Marathon and the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I’m a little nervous – this’ll be my first Boston! And I’m hoping to PR again at Brooklyn (I ran 1:19 last year). I’m looking to do other stuff, although I’m going to get slammed with entry fees this month (whoever planned the windows for the NYC Marathon and Brooklyn Half to overlap: GUYS I’M NOT MADE OUT OF MONEY).

    Also, Fred Lebow in two weeks! I’m not expecting much because it’s New York in January and I’m just ramping up again, but it’s going to be fun.

    1. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      My running goal this year is to get back up to doing half marathons. My leg injury finally healed last fall and I started running again, but then the weather turned and I kept getting sick, which interfered with my running schedule. Yay winter. But I really enjoy the half marathon distance, so I’m eager to get back into those races.

      1. LGC*

        Good luck, and I’m hoping you stay healthy! And yeah, running in the winter is tough.

        The half marathon is a great distance – one of my favorites. (Because I don’t have to take multiple days off from work after, for starters!) I’m hoping you’re back up to running them soon.

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      My goal this year is to get to 50 parkruns (I’m currently on 25). Did the first one of the year today and got a much better time than I expected, so onwards and upwards!

      I also signed up to be a ‘perfect prefect’ in my Harry Potter-themed virtual running club (basically to do all seven of their races this year *gulp*) – the first one of those is due to be announced next week. Slightly longer term, I’m looking at doing the 10k at Run Disneyland Paris in September too, if I can make it work with my new job.

      1. Jay_Ess*

        This is my first time hearing about parkruns, which… neat! Running can sometimes get elitist, and free events and virtual running clubs are a great way to combat that.

        1. Flash Bristow*

          Parkrun is fab – hubby got into running that way. He now runs with a group (well, different groups but with overlap) 4 times a week… Everyone celebrated his 250th parkrun last year, people bring cakes for birthdays… It’s a lovely community! He also volunteers there (I’m thinking of the commenter above who has nothing to do on weekends – you can direct, scan bar codes, marshall and put out signs… All sorts!) and as people often begin by walking it – or part walk, part jog – there’s no pressure to push yourself or compete.

          I’d recommend it to anyone able to participate. I’m physically disabled and unable to join in, but if I show up to that or any of his other running events, I’m always welcomed and included. I can’t think of any other community where I’m not just treated as an “other half”. It’s truly lovely!

      2. LGC*

        Ah man – Parkrun isn’t so much of a thing where I live (it seems to be pretty big in the UK and Australia, I think?), but they sound really fun! Have fun, and good luck on getting to 50!

        And good luck with all of your other races (and hopefully you can get the time off for the Paris race). Honestly, part of the reason I like my current job is that they know I’m a runner and are cool with it. (Plus, I’ve been there long enough where it’s okay for me to bounce off for a week at a time.)

      3. hermit crab*

        That’s a great goal! My local parkrun (held on land managed by the National Park Service) is cancelled indefinitely because of the government shutdown :(

    3. Running*

      I’m running the NYC Half and the cherry blossom 10 miler 3 weeks apart. The last time I ran close to these distances was last year’s cherry blossom, but a friend of mine is training for Boston and hopefully we can meet up for some runs!

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Is that the run in Washington, DC on April 7? I’ve never done a race in DC and somehow, I never heard of this one until now. It’s on my bucket list to run a race there, but I’ve been reluctant because all the half marathons I’ve seen in DC have been in March (when the risk of bad travel weather is high) or in September or October (when it would be much too hot in DC for me). April might be perfect and 10 miles is a great distance. Something to think about for next year or beyond.
        But back to you — good luck in the races!

        1. acmx*

          The Cherry Blossom run is a lottery entry and closed in Dec. I didnt get in. I think they have a two strikes snd you’re in.

          1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

            Yup, saw that but I was thinking of a future year anyway. Good luck next time!

    4. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      I’m going to run the NYC Half on March 17 and can’t wait — hopefully there’s no late-season snow or ice storm. I’m hoping to run a NYCRUNS 10K on Governors Island on May 19, and maybe add another 10K over the course of the year — it’s a distance I haven’t run much and would love to do more. I haven’t decided on my fall half marathon yet. For the NYC Half I literally have no expectations time-wise; I’m just looking forward to enjoying the scenery.

      1. LGC*

        Good luck – and hopefully you’ll have better weather than last year! And hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy the bridge and the FDR!

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m no runner with my shin splints, but I’m getting back into walking. What brand shoes would this active crowd suggest for distance walking on pavement? I have a very high arch and wide feet, so shoe stores can be frustrating.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Every runner/walker is different. Even if you’re not going to run, going to a specialized running store if there’s one near you and getting professionally fitted might be helpful. Asics have been my go-to for years, but I’m sure every runner on this board is going to have a different opinion! Good luck.

      2. Jay_Ess*

        Plus one to the Librarian. You’re going to get a lot of Hot Takes re: shoes. With wider feet, New Balance, Keen, and Merrell all make shoes that come in different widths and are high quality. I would steer clear of giant warehouse type shoe stores and go to a specialist. If you’re on a budget, I would then use The Last Hunt, The Clymb, or Steep and Cheap (gear wholesale websites) to keep an eye out for the shoe and brand you’ve been recommended.

        Also, buy really nice socks. It makes a huge difference. I have heart-eyes for Balegas and Icebreaker socks.

      3. AVP*

        I also have wide feet and find the Allbird Wool Runners to be the most comfortable shoes I’ve walked in in ~years~

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Thanks all! …and Jay, FWIW I’m wearing Merrells now. But the last pair I ordered online fit differently than the ones I’ve been buying for (gulp) 13 years. Hoping it’s just one bad pair not a manufacturing change.

      5. LGC*

        Okay, so everyone gave great advice, but one more thing: it’s okay to go by feel! If a shoe feels more comfortable for you, don’t feel bad about getting it even if it’s not what’s recommended. (I mean, consider the recs, but they’re not gospel.) It’s a little bit contradictory, but really it’s about what’s comfortable for you.

    6. Bulbasaur*

      Still working towards returning to 10k for a February event, so I’ve been running over the break (summer here, so it’s easier). It’s generally been going very well except for last Monday, when I decided to cut a run short due to increasing tension and soreness in a prior injury location, which meant a moderate walk home as I’d been doing a long out and back route. Thankfully it wasn’t a new injury, I was able to address it with targeted exercises and stretches (of which I have a great number by now) and I was able to complete a shorter run on Thursday with no ill effects. I have an appointment with my physio this week so I’ll check in with him and review. In the meantime the plan is to alternate shorter and longer runs and work my way up to my target distance (I’m only about 10-20% short at present so it should be doable).

      The slight worry is that my problem run was earlier in the morning than I usually go, and I do tend to feel a bit of extra stiffness in the mornings. The event run happens to be early in the morning as well, so I’ll need to come up with a strategy to deal with that in case it’s a problem. I’m sure the physio will have some tips to offer on this.

      1. Jay_Ess*

        Foam roller the night before, epsom salt baths (cozy), targeted stretching from physio, solid hydration, and a nice brisk warm up walk before your event. All things you’ve probably heard of or tried. Stiffness is fortunately usually not damaging, you just have to listen to your body and learn the difference between pre-pain and just regular complaints.

    7. Jay_Ess*

      I can’t say too much about my races without giving away my location pretty clearly, but my goal is to get faster this year. I’m off to a good start; PR’d my 5km, 10km and 1/2 marathon distance the first week of January, oo-rah!

      I run mostly trail, so it can be hard to get a proper benchmark for pace. I’ve been suckered back into a bit more road running to build consistency and use that as a benchmark, so I’m hoping to trim my 1/2 marathon time from 1:40:00 to 1:30:00 (ambition!), and to do a 5km with a sub 4 minute pace.

      I’m super excited and honored to have been asked to pace someone at FatDog this year, so I won’t be spending too much time on speedwork or roadwork once spring hits. I’ve got a couple fatass style 100km runs planned, which will be my first 100km runs ever, and am nervous/excited. Only one of my runs is registered on Ultra SignUp, so my profile won’t be improving too much this year but I think I will be!

      1. LGC*

        Good luck! And…I thought I was pretty ambitious!

        It sounds like you should be able to do a sub-20 road 5k . If your road PR is 1:40 for a half, that’s in the 4:40/km range. Usually, that should correspond to a 21-minute 5k (which would be 4:12/km), although I might be a bit off.

        I’m way less familiar with trail (I’m mostly a road guy right now), but the 100km races sound pretty intense. That’s pretty close to an all-day thing, right? (Well, not 24 hours, but like…10 or 12, right?) And good luck with your pacing!

    8. Ruth (UK)*

      I came here looking for running advice… though I’m a bit late posting… I’m going to do a half-marathon in April – the same one of which I did both last year and the year before (the year before being my first race).

      However, I recently became aware of a trail marathon very near me happening in mid-Feb. (Also, I happen to live in the area of the country where hardly any long distance events happen anywhere near me). I’m thinking of doing it but not sure if it would be a terrible idea since up till the other day, I’ve not known about it and therefore not been training for that distance, and it’s quite close.

      However, I’m tempted to go for it anyway, but not sure if that’s a bad idea (risking injury etc?).
      Some stats/info:
      * I currently run regularly (often 5 or 6 times a week) but typically shortish distances of 3 – 5 miles per run at present
      * My half marathon times have both been almost spot on 2 hours.
      * I cycle quite a bit (about 10 miles per day) as my main form of transport
      * I take part in other activity (mostly dance) approx. 3-4 times a week (sometimes more). Ie. I’m fairly active generally
      * The longest running event I have ever entered is a half-marathon, but I have travelled further distances of around a marathon-length within a day by walking/hiking.

      Do you think it would be an ok idea to enter this trail marathon with a mindset of just completing the distance as my first marathon, with no goal time (and I wouldn’t be opposed to walking some of it etc). The cut-off time is almost 8 hours so I wouldn’t run out of time.

      I have spoken to some friends (incl people who run) who have offered mixed opinions has to whether I should leave it till next year or just go for it but not worry about time.

      ps. This race has not sold out in previous years, so I may be able to do some longer runs, see how it goes, and decide closer to the event.

      1. Jay_Ess*

        Hey, hi! Trail runner here. I usually run trail half/25 kms, but have completed a 50km race and a couple of Adventure Races (mountain biking and trail running) that were 50km as well.

        First of all: you could do this. However, you’d have to train harder… or at least, start putting in some long runs immediately. In general, you should expect to double your road time when you go to trail. Elevation, footwork, the absorption of energy into the terrain, all contribute. I would recommend going out and trying a trail 5 miler just to see how it feels. See if there’s any Orientation runs associated with this race, or trail clubs that are training for it and if you can come along.

        For context, my flat road 1/2 marathon PR is 1:40, but I usually budget about 3:30 to 4:00 hours for my trail 25kms. My “mid pack” pace for the 50km I did was about 8 and a half hours. Some of that timing is going to depend on your elevation gain and loss. Look at the course map and consider how used you are to running hills as well.

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          Thanks for the advice. I should probably add… I am fairly used to running on terrain more varied than just road etc: I am mostly running in heavily wooded areas or on (muddy) mud path along a river, or grassy sections, or narrow/windy path. Last year (2018) I completed 2 obstacle course races which went well (one was a 10k on a jump-and-ditch obstacle race on a course made for horses and the other was a 5k ‘mud run’ which a lot of small obstacles).

          I do try and include routes that are not flat though I’m aware I probably need to do much more hill training! – and more in general if I plan to enter.

          ps. at first I was surprised when you said you take twice the time to do a trail course… but then, I took a little over 2 hours to do the jump-and-ditch 10k mentioned above – longer than my half-marathon time and more than double my regular 10k and I felt like I spent a lot of time during it running at my ‘regular’ pace…

    9. Jay_Ess*

      1:19! so speedy. (praise hands emoji). What’s the new PR goal?

      Also my friend likes to quip “it’s not training if it’s not raining” but that might only apply to we PNW runners getting drowned this month.

      1. LGC*

        Probably 1:18 or under – which I’m hopeful I can do, actually! I should be a little better rested this year – last year, I was in pretty good shape, but I’d just run my first marathon three weeks before. For what it’s worth, I’m a little more focused on getting to 2:50 at Boston, and possibly 2:45. (My marathon PR is 2:54 at New York.) It’s mostly a matter of making sure my legs actually hold up until 26.2 (or at least as close to 26.2 as possible), since that’s been my problem so far.

        I’ve pretty much given away my location, but suffice to say…we get all four seasons, sometimes in the same week. So it can just as easily be 15 degrees as 50. (This winter’s been on the warmer side for the most part, so far.) With my upcoming race, I’ve talked to teammates who’ve run it before and they’ve said that recently it’s been cancelled as often as it’s been actually run.

        That said, we’re usually running in most conditions. Including when it’s cold enough that the town high school’s track freezes over. Or when the park pathway flash floods (in our defense, it was not flooded when we left, and we were six miles away from the start).

    10. A bit of a saga*

      I’m running the Barcelona half marathon on 10 Feb so that’s my first big goal of the year. Then, I have talked a couple of friends into running a 10 mile race end-Feb and I will in all likelihood do the 20k in my home city end-May. But: I have to say I haven’t been all that motivated this past week. I had a – for me – ambitious goal about how many km I wanted to run in 2018, and I met it, but when I did I also felt a bit deflated, like ‘now I just have to start all over again’. And the weather also sucks here – gray, rainy, gets dark early. Tips for staying motivated?

      1. Jay_Ess*

        Sounds like runner’s hangover. I had it really bad after my first ultra. Take it easy on yourself. Do runs that feel fun, and don’t make yourself go out every time. Or, if you do go out, just listen to your body and skip distance or pace goals. Put on your shoes, grab your water bottle and tunes and just… see what feels right.

        Buy something fun for running. Find a run club or challenge that intrigues you or makes you laugh. Choose an event for later in the year that is different from what you might normally do. Try a different sport entirely for a while; cycling is great for cross training. I actually find that when it’s super gray, rainy, and dark, what I like to do is wait until a truly ridiculous time of the day to run. It’s depressing when it’s dark at 4:30, but it’s *always* dark at 10 p.m., and then I feel like a badass that I went out when everyone else was sleeping.

        Do something that reminds you why you like running, basically, but don’t force it, because that’s a good way to get stuck in the hole.

        1. A bit of a saga*

          I’ve long wanted to get started on doing some cross-training but I have a busy family life and the running is by far the easiest to fit in. I should go check out the local gym, though, and see whether I could fit a class into a lunch break or two. That should be doable. And I did actually end up going for a decent run today, inspired by your words on ‘just get going’

      2. LGC*

        Motivation is really tough during the winter!

        So, here’s what’s works for me (and I’ve said this a lot): having other people to hold me accountable. I will be honest – there are times when I run even when I don’t feel like it (not like I’m injured, just that I’m tired from a long day at work), just so it shows up on Strava. Another thing that motivates me is numeric goals; going back to Strava, I’m also the kind of guy who bought Summit (their premium service) just so he could look at the pretty graphs and statistics.

        (This has turned into an ad for Strava, and…I’m not completely mad at myself for this. This might also be a covert Gretchen Rubin ad.)

        But really, it depends on what generally works to keep you honest. In my case, I’ve already mentioned my primary motivators – generally, I like graphs and I like approval from others. Some people do well if they have a schedule. Some people…just need to be true to themselves. Finding motivation is basically about figuring out where you’ve had success in the past and adapting that system. It seems like having the mileage goal worked, but wasn’t quite rewarding enough – so maybe something else might work better!

        Winter-specific: get winter gear if you’re in a cold location. Get a headlamp (you can start with a cheap one, but you might end up frustrated with it not being bright enough and dream about buying a $70 one because it has over 9000 lumens NOT THAT THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME) and reflective gear/lights for night runs. And plan out routes where you feel comfortable and safe.

        And good luck with everything! It sounds like you have a pretty full schedule ahead of you!

    11. runner*

      I’m looking do to a 5K now that I seem to be able to run again? Has anyone done the Frozen Penguin one in NYC? it’s in early Feb. Or the NYRR one in March, but that is super hilly, and I want to make sure my achilles can take the hills. It’s a bit ridiculous to run these as I won’t get a PR or anything but I’m just so happy to be able to run again, I just want to be out there, if that makes sense.

      1. LGC*

        I’ve done NYC Half in 2018, and written a bit about it. It’s…fairly hilly, yes! (I had ~430 feet of elevation gain recorded, but that was based on GPS – so it might be a little inaccurate.) You’re going to hit three significant hills/climbs, from what I remember:

        The Manhattan Bridge is…I want to say about 2 1/2 miles in. It’s the steepest one, and probably the one that scared me the most on the map. But it’s also 2 1/2 miles in!

        On the FDR, you’re running on the upper level for a couple of miles. Which means you have to get up there. This is a pretty gentle ascent, but this might be a surprisingly hard section if it’s cold and windy (like it was last year).

        Finally, Central Park is probably the toughest section. You’re going counterclockwise, so you’re going north at first (I think up into the 90s, IIRC). Since this is Central Park we’re talking about here, you’re getting to rolling hills around mile 10 onward.

        The first mile out is actually downhill, though. I’m not sure whether that would be an issue for you, though. It’s also a downhill finish, which is kind of nice.

        That said…I’m a bad hill climber, and that was my second best half marathon. (It was also probably the hardest I’ve ever run a half marathon, and maybe any race period – I was hurting for a week after!) On the other hand, I say I’m a bad hill climber, but I run hills pretty often. So my perspective might be skewed.

  7. Tookie Clothespin*

    Following up on last weeks thread about ACL, I am going to be the primary caretaker for a family member after a total knee replacement this summer. Any tips for the patient or me? Anything you wish you had known? Patient is in good health otherwise. Thanks!

    1. Texan In Exile*

      If this person will not be able to walk to get to the bathroom and if it is at all possible financially, I would suggest that she stay in a nursing home at first. My husband took care of his father after his dad’s hip replacement. We didn’t realize that his dad had even had the option of a nursing home. (Dad did not want to stay in a nursing home, so didn’t even tell my husband about the possibility.)

      Dad could not walk without a lot of help, so my husband, who weighs 160 lbs, was helping his 250-lb dad in and out of bed, out of chairs, etc.

      And – dad could not walk to the bathroom and stand, so — my husband had to transport and take care of the urine bottle. It was not pleasant.

      Then dad refused to do his PT and, because he was at home and not in a nursing home, there was no 3rd party to insist that he do it.

      It was an absolutely exhausting experience – my husband’s mother was also in poor health, so he was pretty much full-time caretaker for two (cranky) people for a month.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I’m sorry. My post is so negative!

        What I think would have helped my husband:

        1. Meals already prepared and in the freezer so he didn’t have to scramble to figure out what to feed his parents every day.
        2. Someone to come over for a few hours every day or so to give him some respite. (He didn’t feel comfortable leaving his parents alone.)
        3. The physical therapist came once or twice a week. His dad would do PT with the therapist but would not do his homework. If your family member is compliant and motivated, this probably won’t be an issue, but – if she needs someone with authority to make her do something, is there a way to have the therapist come daily?
        4. The urine/bathroom situation. How will this be handled? My husband’s dad thought it totally appropriate to ask me to carry his portable urine bottle when I visited him. I – did not think that was appropriate. Maybe this is a conversation you can have with the family member?
        5. His dad was in charge of all the bills, etc, but was too tired and cranky to do anything. My husband had to figure out where everything was and take care of it. Ideally, you and your family member would review essential financial tasks, medical insurance, doctor information, etc, before the surgery, just in case you need to take care of things. (I have spent my last two visits with my mom, who isn’t even planning surgery, learning all about her finances and bills and where her medical information is.)
        6. Will your family member give you access to money to go to the grocery store, etc? Or will this all be on you?

        1. Tookie Clothespin*

          Thanks Texan! I’m hoping this will be easier than your husband’s experience. She’s the most independent person I know and is doing it in the summer so she’s off work (teacher) for her recovery. I have a feeling my issue will be trying to get her to not overdo it. Her bedroom is on the first floor with the bathroom right next to it, so it’s very close.

          She’s very motivated to return to work by the start of school so I think she’ll be good about exercises so she can start back.

          Essential financial tasks is a good one I hadn’t thought of, thanks, just in case! Grocery store money will not be an issue, and I have another close relative that will be most helpful doing the cooking.

    2. Yvette*

      If you can, make sure you find out from his doctor what he can and cannot do. (I am not sure what they are allowed to tell you but they could maybe speak hypothetically, ‘A person with this condition can…’ etc.) My husband is facing a knee replacement and my mother-in-law has had two. Vastly different scenarios due to age and physical condition going in. Summer is a good time for this, clothing is easier (shorts vs trousers etc) and if walking is allowed the weather is nicer for that. Also, it wasn’t an option with my mother-in-law (wrong) time if year, but swimming is ideal PT for this when it becomes a viable option. I agree with Texas in that an in-patient rehab facility is worth it. With my mother in-law it was covered in part by insurance but that might have been due to her age or the fact she lived alone.

      Good luck!!

      1. Tookie Clothespin*

        Her doctor has advised against in-patient rehab, I think because she’s still young and has a strong support group at home. I will definitely find out what she can and cannot do, her doctor did recommend a book that will walk us through it!

    3. LNLN*

      I had a knee replacement in April of this year. My husband took care of me and these things helped:
      1) Hubby took an afternoon class at our community college 4 days a week, which got him out of the house and a little break for a couple hours. He was close enough I could have called him and he could have come home if needed, but it was never necessary.
      2) Borrow a shower chair from the durable medical equipment loan closet at the local senior center. Your family member will be safer and more independent when they start showering on their own.
      3) Write down all times and which meds are given (in a notebook or on a clipboard). The patient is drugged up and the caregiver is overwhelmed and it is easy to lose track of whether you gave that pain pill or you just thought about giving it.
      4) Follow the medical directions for controlling pain and inflammation (elevate, ice, take meds), it will speed healing and independence.
      5) My husband was amazingly pleasant and cheerful, no matter what I asked him to do. He never pushed back on any of my requests, which encouraged me to ask for help instead of trying to do things for myself before I was really capable.

      Good luck!

      1. Tookie Clothespin*

        Thank you! This is all wonderful advice. I really like the writing down the medicine idea. I’ll definitely need to also remember to get out of the house regularly so I stay pleasant!

        1. Yvette*

          “3) Write down all times and which meds are given (in a notebook or on a clipboard). The patient is drugged up and the caregiver is overwhelmed and it is easy to lose track of whether you gave that pain pill or you just thought about giving it.”

          This is important if she is on a lot of medications. My MIL had to take a lot of meds. She spaced them out during the day but what she didn’t do was take the same ones at the same time each day, so for example the beta blocker may get taken at 9:oo am on Monday but then not until 9:00 pm on Tuesday and then again at 8:30 on Wednesday, so she was either under or over medicating herself.

          1. Kuododi*

            On that note…pill organizer caddy’s will be your best friend. They are available in any drug store/ big box stores in the pharmacy section. Depending on dosing frequency and size they should run between $6-$10 ish. They’ve saved me personally in managing my meds as well as helping with my mother’s meds during her knee replacement recovery and dealing with her dementia meds. Best wishes!

    4. StarHunter*

      1 knee or both? My mom had one knee done when she was about 78. Because she had someone at home (her partner) and I was going to be there for a week, the doctor recommended she go home instead of a rehab center. He said patients always heal better (and stay healthier) at home. My mother was out of recovery in the early afternoon and a few hours later had her up and walking (with a walker) and doing a few stairs (she had to navigate stairs to get in her house.) She was totally mobile with the walker and just in the hospital would call for some help to get her out of bed and in the bathroom. She was only in the hospital for a few days. The PT started coming to her house the the day after she came home. Recovery took about 3 months maybe? PT is the key! They worked her hard to keep the muscles/ligaments in motion. The other thing her doc had her do was PT 6 weeks prior to the operation. He said patients with pre-surgery PT also have a better recovery.

      I think a lot of my mom’s success was she was relatively pain free from the surgery. She had a small pump with a line into the knee that directly pumped in painkiller. So she wasn’t out of it because she didn’t need other pain medication. She was fortunate to have the surgery at a top ranked hospital in NJ and a young, talented doc.

      I enjoyed some meals for my mom and worked remotely here and there to stay caught up on emails and such. When my mom was sleeping I took some time for myself and went for walks or runs.

      What a nice and kind thing you are doing. I think your family member will appreciate your company which IMO is the best medicine for recovery!

      1. Tookie Clothespin*

        Just one, she’s still very young for the procedure (but it needs to be done). I work completely remotely as a freelancer so I’ll be home all of the time with her. For these reasons, her doctor also recommended no in patient rehab. Thanks for the suggestion about the pre-surgical PT. I’ll talk to her about it!

    5. Been there, done that*

      My 78-yo mom had total knee replacement last February, and she stayed with us for about six weeks after that. She had previously had both hips replaced, one six and one twelve years prior to the knee.
      First (now), try to get your patient to do AS MUCH physical therapy BEFORE the surgery as possible. The more strength there is, the better and more quickly the recovery will go.
      Make sure that the pain meds are being taken regularly and appropriately. You won’t do your exercises if you’re in too much pain. While on the topic of pain meds (Mom was on Vicodin), be aware that opioids cause major constipation and be prepared to deal with that, whether via diet or over-the-counter or prescription meds.
      You’ll need a significantly raised toilet seat, with side support bars. We had a commode that just sat over the regular toilet, and we could move that into her room (with a bucket) for overnight.
      Make sure that there are wide-enough paths throughout the house, and move any throw rugs etc. out of the way. We also needed to get a recliner, since the leg needs to be elevated most of the time.
      You should be able to have in-home therapy for a week or two, but you’ll probably need to go to a therapy place after that. That might be at the same hospital where the surgery was done but, if not, have him/her check out some PT facilities ahead of time to see how they work. My mom really disliked one place (too much of a “gym” attitude) and loved the place we ended up taking her.
      Oh, and did I mention this? DO THE THERAPY!
      Good luck to you and your relative – knee replacement is tough, but it leads to SUCH an improvement in quality of life!

      1. StarHunter*

        Yes, remove the throw rugs and keep the paths clear. I think the PT person came to the house before my mom’s surgery to point out how we could remove any obstacles and tripping hazards. She also had a few post surgery in home nurse visits too.

      2. Tookie Clothespin*

        Thank you! I have a wonderful PT that she can see after the person stops coming to the house. You are the second person who recommended PT before surgery so I’ll definitely talk to her about it!

        She has an extremely high pain tolerance so I think I’ll have to monitor to make sure she’s taking what she needs.

        I’ll make sure she does her exercises! I’m hoping it’ll be a great thing for her. She’s active and wants to be but the knee has definitely impeded her life for a few years so I’m glad she’s getting it done!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Seconding PT to strengthen the surrounding muscles before surgery, really emphasized by my daughter’s surgeon. (And part of why we ran out of covered visits so fast.)

          Also the stool softener. Which we did wind up needing, so glad I bought it with the first round of drugs and she may want to just go ahead and take it as soon as the Vicodin starts.

          On pain tolerance–daughter was in more pain than expected and so taking more drugs that first week. Second week she was down to one pill to help her sleep, and stopped before the prescription was through. Needing more drugs on day 3 doesn’t mean you’re going to need that level of drugs on day 13.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      How big is your family member?
      If they’re big or heavy, PLEASE watch videos on how to SAFELY assist a person. There are good techniques and bad ones. Consider renting power equipment like a chair or lift, etc. to save your back, if necessary.
      Two women in my family suffered permanent injuries from care-taking. I’m hoping you’ll be fine.

      1. Tookie Clothespin*

        My family member is not large, but I’ll definitely watch because I’m fairly small and not super strong. Thanks! Wouldn’t have thought of that.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Oh, shower stool! We were in a hotel near the medical center (so she wouldn’t have any stairs) and they had wheel chairs and shower stools one could borrow. Before I left we ordered a shower stool for her to use bathing the first few weeks after she was back in her dorm.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Also seconding the respite suggestion upthread. A couple of times over the week her friends came by to have takeout and watch a movie for a couple of hours. She crashed hard afterward, but the change of pace was good for her and the chance to go out and not be focused only on whether she was doing okay was good for me.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Looked after my daughter after ACL surgery.
      a) Be aware of the weather re getting to the pharmacy to fill that opioid subscription immediately after surgery. (Hopefully doesn’t come up for you–not something I expected to come up and then I had to improvise in an ice storm as everything closed in a major southern city with no plows. The hospital didn’t have a pharmacy; no, they couldn’t give me a couple of days’ worth to tide us over…)
      b) For her: PT. This is what makes the big difference in recovery. Even if it feels like it’s not doing much at first. Also annoying–insurance may only cover 6 sessions when she needs 30. Bite the bullet and do it, but it may help to figure this out in advance for budgeting.
      c) Be flexible in your timing–we both were surprised at how far back she was knocked and how slowly she recovered, and I extended my stay a few days.
      d) Drugs. Taking the powerful pain killers lets you sleep so your body can heal. She wound up upping the dose (after conferring with surgeon’s office), got a refill for the prescription, and then tapered off the following week. Varies a lot–listen to your body. Expect the first few days to be painful and foggy.

    8. Sutemi*

      If the bath doesn’t have a hand-held shower, you can install one now. I found it very useful following a different recent surgery.

      Prep food in advance, freeze individual portions. Have plenty of light reading and viewing material available.

      Take time for yourself each day, caregiving is mentally and emotionally taxing.

    9. ..Kat..*

      Ask your family member to put permission in her medical chart for you to be able to talk independently to her doctors and nurses.

      Have family member (FM) get prescriptions filled before her surgery. Find out what over the counter medications are appropriate (Tylenol, ibuprofen, etc) and have these at her home pre-surgery.

      Take FM’s bedpan home from the hospital. Buy a package of adult diapers and butt wipes. If she is on pain medication, she can sleep so deeply that she wets the bed.

    10. Anon for this*

      I’m last week’s ACL gal. My surgery was on Wed.

      If you can, be part of the “Drop off and pick up patient” team, so you can sit with patient post surgery when s/he is getting all post op info from doctor. This is an excellent time to ask questions. You and patient should write a list of your questions. I have a folder and steno book to keep all info straight. Make sure you have a number for the nurse/Dr service if you have questions or need addnl prescriptions. You don’t want to call the hospitals general number and have them track down the correct doctor and number.

      If patient is currently on meds, write them all down and confirm compatibility with both Dr and pharmicist. Post surgery, I’m on a short term antibiotic and a one week blood thinner, which would have had an uncomfortable reaction with a current med.

      Set up the patient station at home. Comfy lounger or couch with table within arms length for water, books snacks, remote.

      When trying to walk, I cannot put any weight on the “bad leg”. However the leg is in a full length leg brace which makes both legs the same length! So, I have a hiking book on the good foot, which adds about an inch and makes it easier to use the crutches and keep the bad leg off the ground.

      I am in love with ice. Have a few packs that you can cycle through each day. At night, I have a mini playmate cooler next to my lounger, so I do not have to get up and get them.

      My sleep/wake cycle is all screwed up, likely from painkillers. I’m sure it’ll work itself out over the next week or two.

      Definitely keep a schedule of when pills are administered. You may also want to include when a bowel movement occurred, as opiates have that side effect.

      Also, if she’s getting a nerve block shot prior to surgery, the effects can last up to a day or more post surgery. I didn’t need any painkillers after surgery, or even then next day, which gave me quite the swollen head (I don’t see why anyone would complain about this surgery, etc), and the following day the nerve block wore completely off and boy was I happy to take my prescribed opiate. I’m glad I did not try to overdo those two days.

      Good luck!

      1. Anon for this*

        Also, regarding pain management: for some folks (me), it is essential that I keep to a schedule of pain pills. If I miss a dose, the pain returns, and it can take a much longer time for the med to kick in.

        If this happens, the key thing is to keep your leg still!!! Do not pull at the brace, or wiggle your leg or try to somehow rearrange your leg to make it more comfortable. All that is happening is that you’re causing even more irritation to the swollen incision site and making it worse. Grit your teeth and keep the leg still. It will help minimize the pain much faster. Trust me on this one.

    11. Common Welsh Green*

      My husband, my son-in-law, and my closest friend have all had this surgery. (Friend is an amputee as well, so that added a level of complexity.) What each of them found invaluable was using a circulating cold water therapy system for pain control. The pain relief is immediate and can be used whenever it’s needed, as opposed to having to wait until the next pain pills can be taken. Less pain means a faster recovery period, and much less stress on both patient and caregiver.

    12. Cheryl*

      I had a knee replacement last year, I live alone and the out patient morons didn’t think to get me set up for durable medical equipment!! A shower chair and potty chair would have made things so much easier. An actual walker would have been nice as well. Took me almost 4 months b4 I went back to work and boredom was a huge factor. Other than the above, the biggest issue I had was being left alone as I either had to do it myself or do without. And without happened a lot.

    13. MargaretCook*

      Get a “donut” to raise the height of the toilet seat! Absolutely critical to standing up from the seat, unless there is a grab bar.
      Borrow or buy a walker; if at all possible get one with a shelf or seat across it. I’ve had it done twice, once both knees at once, which was a terrible mistake, once just one knee, not so bad. But I live alone and it was hard to get a cup of coffee or dinner from the kitchen to my comfortable chair. The second time I had a deluxe walker (which insurance paid for!) with a seat that had a tray with a rim that snapped onto the seat. Made a huge difference.
      Definitely clear throw rugs and clutter out of the way of the walker pre-surgery.

    14. nonegiven*

      My mom got a toilet seat thing that raised up how high it was so it was easier to get up and down. A walker with a basket for carrying things. Trash bags and duct tape to wrap around her leg for showering.

      My parents had a combo tub/shower turned into a walk in shower so she could get in and out. Mom said she wished she had got the kind with the door instead of the shower curtain because water got all over the bathroom. They also got a shower seat and put in a shower head that comes off so you can hold it in your hand while you sit.

      She did all her exercises and had a machine that moved her leg around that she had to use a couple times a day. We made ice packs with alcohol and water in doubled ziploc gallon bags for icing her leg after the machine and after the exercises. We had to wrap her knee in ice packs and towels and pin it to keep them on. All the exercises and machine and ice packs, going to the bathroom, taking her meds, eating her meals, it was pretty much a full time job.

      We printed out a med chart for every day that had all her meds and various therapies on it so we could write what time she took meds or did any exercise or therapies. There was a lot to keep track of.

      Home health sent out a nurse to check vitals and take blood a few times. There was an aide that came to help her shower but not every day. A physical therapist came to give her new exercises and measure her progress, how far she could straighten and how far she could bend.

      She knew people that had knee replacement that were never able to straighten their leg again because they wouldn’t do any of the exercises, so she was pretty diligent about it and gets around pretty good now. She had one knee done one year and the other the next year.

  8. Foreign Octopus*

    I started the All Soul’s trilogy by Deborah Harkness last week and I finished the first book but I was so disappointed by it! I had high hopes for it and bought all three at once and now regret it. I know that some people will disagree with me but I just felt like the entire relationship between Matthew and Diana was so rushed. By the end of the book they’d known each other for 40 days but were already married and deeply in love. It struck me as Twilight for adults: better written, in my opinion, but in need of a decent editor to pare it down.

    What are other people’s opinions on this series? If you liked it, what am I missing?

    1. The Grammarian*

      I did like it, but I could see how the relationship was rushed. I found their relationship almost as satisfying to read about as the one between Bill and Sookie in the Sookie Stackhouse novels. I think I was particularly geeked out by a female academic having such an ardent suitor.

    2. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      Oh yeah, I was also deeply deeply disappointed by that book! I picked it up and thought oooh cool, witch mythology, somehow completely missing the whole vampire romance thing (I know I’ve only got myself to blame IT’S IN THE BLURB or at least was on my copy) and yes, Twilight for adults is a pretty accurate description. I also did not like their relationship at all and basically felt like there were interesting aspects regarding the witch thing which all got strangled by the romance.

      Full disclosure though, I gave up after the first bool so maybe it gets better?

    3. Reba*

      Ha, I’m reading it now, it is enjoyable but also bad??? I think I’ll finish the series though. I credit Deborah Harkness for imagination on the scenario/magic system, but I keep wondering what such a story would be like in the hands of a better writer. Also makes me curious to look at her academic writing.

      Have you tried The Invisible Library series?

      1. Reba*

        AS3 reminds me quite a bit of the Outlander series, now that I think of it.

        And I see it is coming to television, too.

    4. Not a cat*

      Yah, I hate-read three of books of the series. At the time, a fellow writer was reading them too. We would have these great conversations mocking the heroine. I think Harkness was aiming for the Mayfair Witch (Anne Rice) mythos, but she fell short.

    5. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’ve read all three and watched half of the TV series (it was broadcast over here in the UK this autumn). I quite liked the books, because they’re quite easy reads with some good supporting characters and great descriptions – it’s not a spoiler but I thought the second one did a good job with the Tudor England setting in particular – but I do agree with you about it needing a decent editor. There’s a sense of it getting bogged down a bit in explanations sometimes and the pacing is a bit uneven – like the love story moves really quickly but finding the book (which was the thing I personally found quite interesting) seemed to get sidetracked or neglected quite a lot.

    6. Jules the First*

      I liked the first book but thought the rest were much less strong…there were some good bits in each book but I thought the science bit got badly lost and the whole Benjamin storyline was a waste of time and a distraction from some much more interesting storylines. It was a fun read, but not as engrossing or enjoyable as I was hoping it would be.

    7. Julie Nittler*

      I picked up the first book at the library not knowing it was a series. I was about a chapter from the end when I realized it wasn’t going to end there. I thought the first one was ok, silly and like a Twilight for the academic crowd, but I read the second one to get some closure (?) and it just got more ridiculous, although it felt like it got the time period well. The romance takes over the whole thing and is the least interesting part. And then there’s a third book! I may hate read it if it’s ever randomly on the library shelf.

  9. Bluesboy*

    Back in August I posted that we were on our way to pick up our new kittens, two Devon Rex (‘monkey in a cat suit’) cats. Someone asked for an update, so here it is!

    They are adorable. Friendly, loving, cuddly, and I have become crazy cat man. I like animals, but never expected to be so head over heels in love with them.

    If anyone is interested, pictures can be found on Instagram at #concordecorellia (the boy is Concord and the girl is Corellia). I wanted to call them Fred & Ginger since he is in a tux and she’s a bit ginger, but was overruled…

    1. Sammie*

      I am so jealous! A friend got a Devon Rex about a year ago and I have cat sat a few times – I am besotted with the minx! She is a lot of work, very attention seeking, and knows how to push every button you have – but my goodness, she is charm personified when she wants.

      I will definitely be checking out your Instagram. Sounds so squee.

    2. DessertDweller*

      They’re beautiful! I’ve wanted one for decades but probably won’t have one so I look forward to more pics of yours.

    3. Drew*

      No remedies to offer but all my sympathy; I’m in the second day of a head cold and I don’t want to do anything but lie down and sleep.

  10. MissGirl*

    Ugh, first day off in ten days and I have a bad cold that’s also making me dizzy. So instead of skiing, I’m trying to stay upright at home. What are your favorite remedies?

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Sore throat: hot milk and honey

      Congested noise: powerful menthol gum (always cleans out the sinuses)

      Dizziness: flat on my back, Netflix playing, one foot on the floor.

      I hope you feel better soon!

    2. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      Gatorade, sprite, soup and a mountain of tissues. Also Amazon Prime Now. It’s not really a remedy per se, but the two hour same day delivery is a godsend when you’re not feeling well and don’t want to drag yourself to the store to get necessities.

    3. Afraid of reporting sexual harassment*

      Mountain snow dweller here. Storm’s hitting right now! For a sore throat, I’ve heard a hot beverage and a shot of tequila will do wonders. Feel better!

    4. cat socks*

      Sudafed is the only thing that helps when I have a cold. I get relief from my runny nose and it helps clear up the sinus pressure. I like spicy food too since I can’t taste as well as normal.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Once the nose clears a little, a sinus rinse. (Aka neti pot). When I was new to it I learned the hard way to skip it when the head’s totally plugged. I heard the squish as water went into my ears…and yes I basically gave myself an ear infection.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Just a reminder: Use distilled, bottled water in your neti pot. Don’t use tap water.

        1. Lilysparrow*

          If you’re referring to the lady who got an amoeba infection outside Seattle, that story was very misleading. She wasn’t using municipal treated tapwater. If you find the story in the local paper, you’ll see she was using untreated water from her home well. The deadly micro-organism in her case is soil-borne.

          There has never been any issue with using US municipal tap water in a Neti pot, because none of the potentially dangerous organisms can survive ordinary water treatment.

          If your house taps are connected to a raw water source, then yes, your “tap water” is unsafe. It’s probably unsafe to drink after a heavy rain, too.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            It may be safe, but the chemicals in our local water made it stink to high heaven when directly applied to the inside of my nose. Same discovery with the CPAP. Just too much something, so I do spring for the distilled.

          2. Autumnheart*

            We were discussing that Seattle amoeba story at work a while back, and I thought it seemed hinky. If there really were brain-eating amoebae in a municipal water supply, you’d think a) they’d warn people and b) there would be more than one case. Glad to know it was indeed unique circumstances.

    6. Laika*

      Oh no! Sorry to hear that. I came down with a rotten head cold on my first day off for the holidays, too. I slept a lot, drank plenty of tea and the occasional hot toddy (for morale purposes of course), and ate so much spicy chicken soup. Cleared up in a few days so something must’ve done the trick. :) Hope you feel better soon!

    7. Lilysparrow*

      I get positional vertigo anytime my sinuses are full of fluid. It’s the worst, because even when I am on the mend from other symptoms and have my energy back, I get nauseous and dizzy whenever I move around.

      The goal is to get those inner ears drained. Here are some things to try:

      Drying up the fluid with decongestant may help in mild cases, but if it’s a lot, you may just wind up with a thicker sludge that won’t move. Thinning it is preferable.

      Ibuprofen or another NSAID to reduce swelling in the Eustachian tube.

      Guiafesin (Mucinex) to draw water into the fluid.

      Lots of fluids, especially warm drinks, to activate the Mucinex. “Breathe Easy” type herbal teas are good. Ginger tea helps with the nausea. I’ve also made a good expectorant tea with a sprig each of fresh peppermint and thyme. Breathe the steam as you drink it.

      A salt water gargle can help open the throat-end of the tube. A gentle saline nasal rinse can also help, if you can tolerate bending over. (I currently can’t). Saline nasal spray bottles are a good alternative.

      Warm shower – but be very careful if your balance is off. Maybe a hot bath instead.

      Vapo rub or cough drops with menthol and other “penetrating” fumes.

      A humidifier or steam bowl, or just letting the shower steam up the bathroom.

      Chewing gum or trying to yawn like when you pop your ears on an airplane can help. I wouldn’t advise the Valsalva manouver, though – that can just force the fluid in deeper.

      Hope you feel better soon!

      1. Ginger ale for all*

        I have BPPV, a form of vertigo, and I find that Dramamine works wonders for me. You might want to try it when your positional vertigo gets bad. It’s over the counter and cheap. The only problem with it is that pharmacies stock it on the lowest shelf and you have to bend over to get it while you have vertigo.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I asked a similar question earlier in the week; I’m now on day 5 or so of a nasty cold, but I’m definitely at the tail end. Someone suggested elderberry, and I sent my partner out for Sambucol tablets– they have elderberry and zinc, among other things, and while they haven’t eliminated my cold symptoms, I’m impressed with their efficacy.

      I made a giant pot of kimchi stew with a ton of ginger and garlic. SO good and I swear it made me feel better.

      Another vote for hot toddies. My partner makes really good ones with bourbon and spices and honey and lemon. He once made me one with hot peppers; I think ginger would be a better choice! But we do have some hot honey, so maybe I’ll try that myself…

      Good luck! Colds are no fun.

    9. Prof_Murphy*

      I’m a big fan of OTC, modern medicine. I go with Dayquil during the day and Nyquil at night. I also do a nasal decongestant spray, but am sparing with – it can get painful. I keep vaseline on my nose to avoid the flaking/dryness that results from all the tissue use. Sometimes I use the neti pot. Tea and tons of water. Sympathies – I had to cancel my New Years Eve plans because of a head cold. I was frustrated that it took a good 4 days to run its course (with me on the couch the whole time) and I’m still a bit congested but practically all better.

  11. SigneL*

    My daughter lives 1,500 miles away and is thinking of buying a car (we helped her buy the car she has now). I have experienced lots of problems when I was looking – car salesmen asking if my husband knew I was looking, refusing to honor the advertised price, etc. Any advice on how she can deal with car salesmen? She wants a decent used car. I told her she needs to be prepared to walk away from a deal if the salesman tries to manipulate her. Any other ideas? Thanks.

    1. MissGirl*

      Ugh, I hate that process. I had a salesman ask if my husband or dad was part of the process. I’m in my mid-thirties, thank you. I actually interned for my masters at a car dealership. I had to go to each dealership and go through the process (ten different times) to help them improve (I mentioned the above).

      First, the heavy lifting of price, financing, and choosing can be done online. If you know what you want before you go in, you’ll be a lot less likely to be swayed (and save a lot of time). Ask around for recommendations for dealers people trust.

      Second, don’t limit yourself to a dealership if you’re buying used. I bought my car last year from a private seller. I was very picky about what I wanted. Make sure you take it to a mechanic and meet the person in a public place.

      Third, don’t be in a rush and don’t sign anything until you’re ready to buy. Some dealers will want you to sign a price agreement saying you’ll buy if they get you your price. You can walk at any time up until the final paperwork. Don’t worry about being nice, just be firm.

    2. Madeye*

      This is what I did back in 2008. I looked at the inventory of company certified used cars in all dealerships around me on their website, picked 1-2 cars I was interested in, called the online sales division of each dealership and asked them to send me an email with the final itemized price for my choices (after negotiating a bit on the phone). Most of the sales people tried to get me to go down to the dealership and test drive cars before giving me a quote, I just responded that I would test drive my 2 choices before making the purchase if I liked their quoted price and that I wasn’t interested in test driving anything else.So this way I avoided manipulative salespeople, had the final price in writing, and did end up buying my used car from the dealership for the price I has been given by email with the one salesman who didn’t try to manipulate me.
      Hope this helps.

    3. WellRed*

      She needs to figure out what she will spend and what she wants in a car. Be polite but firm, and stick with her plan.

      1. Susan Ryan*

        Also, be prepared not to buy it when you go into the dealership the first time. By doing this, you ruin the “what will it take to get you buy this today and drive it home”. Advise the sales person that in your family you always discuss the buying of major assets as a family before buying. I just bought a used car with 4,000 miles on it for a terrific price that included them paying the sales tax (we have to pay it separately here in Nevada). Also, right before you sign-with your pen in your hand-say you forgot something. Ask for something extra-heated seats for example-and they will give it to you just to get you to sign.

    4. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      My dad works at a dealership and he was telling me the other day how the salesmen purposefully do not tell the customer if something is wrong with the vehicle, because the salesman wants to make the sale. My dad said the guys in the shop are told to fix only what is cost effective for the dealership on the used vehicles. So if she’s looking at used cars, she should ask to see the dealer’s report on the car. Also ask for the car fax, so she’ll know the vehicle’s history. And if she does buy one, she should immediately get the car checked by a mechanic.

      The prices at dealerships are also marked WAY up, so be sure your daughter does her research and knows what a fair price for the vehicle is. And your advice to be prepared to walk away is spot on. Good luck!

    5. Shrunken Hippo*

      I would do lots of research online to see what kind of car she wants and what the normal price range is. Online reviews are also helpful when deciding which places to shop. When it comes to blatant sexism I am a fan of calling it out starting with a polite “I fail to see what that has to do with my vehicle choice” with asking for a manager and up to equaling their rudeness with lines such as “I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize a penis was a prerequisite for making a purchase at your establishment. I’ll make sure to tell my friends so they can avoid inconveniencing you with their estrogen filled ideas about getting the price that’s listed in your advertisements.” Basically you have to be willing to sand up for yourself which may make her feel like she’s being unreasonable, but that’s only because car salesmen like to gaslight women into feeling like asking for the same price a man pays is the same as having a tantrum even when it is not even remotely similar.

    6. Bagpuss*

      Does she have a garage she uses for her current car they may be able to advise, or offer a service to check the car over before she buys.
      Another option (deeply frustrating though it is) is to get a male friend to come with her.
      Finally, encourage her walk away if she is subjected to that kind of behaviour, and tell the manager or owner why.
      We did this when my sister was buying a car. She wrote to the manager of the dealership making clear that she had chosen to buy her (brand new, far-from-cheap) car from their competitor as a direct result of the sexist behaviour of the sales staff.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I had my used car checked out by my mechanic before I bought it.

        BTW, I’ve bought cars twice, and never had anybody bug me about husbands or fathers, so it’s not inevitable.

        1. SignalLost*

          I would have any car checked, even brand new. And yes, I had my dad along once and my boyfriend this time, and there was incredibly minimal redirecting in both cases. And my dad did more of the “buying” – it was my first time buying a car through a dealership and I was pretty young and not self-assured. Basically, in both cases, I was comfortable with the level of redirecting, but I would feel free to walk out if I weren’t.

          1. Doodle*

            My dad went with me when I went shopping for my first (used) car — he knows a lot about cars and was just there for emotional support (I was very anxious!). We walk up. Salesman comes out. I stick out my hand, say my name, say I am interested in XYZ in a used car. Salesman shakes my hand. Turns to my dad and says, we have such and so cars, would you like to look at them. Dad says, I’m not buying a car, Doodle is. Please talk to her. Salesman walks us over to cars, starts talking about the cars to my Dad. Dad says, I’m not buying a car, Doodle is. Please talk to her. Salesman talks to dad about cars. Dad looks at me, rolls his eyes, I say to salesman, Well, I guess you do not want to sell ME a car. Good bye!
            That happened several times! Back in the late 70s. I ended up by a car from my dad’s mechanic. Who talked to ME, not my dad.

        2. Autumnheart*

          Same. Bought cars from two different dealerships, one at age 25 and one at age 36 (I’m still driving it, I keep cars until they die of old age) and both my experiences were very straightforward. I went in prepared on price and features, expected sexism and manipulation, and surprisingly it just didn’t happen. I have a decent amount of Sales Whisperer skills, but it was still a pleasant surprise.

    7. Reba*

      I’m sure it varies a lot by individual location but I’d recommend Carmax to avoid salesmanship, if that’s an issue.

      Nicole Cliffe published a guide to buying a car almost entirely over email. It’s not completely applicable because it was a new car, but your daughter might get some strategies from it.

      1. AliceBD*

        I had an excellent experience buying a used car from CarMax as a twenty-something. Very low pressure, wasn’t talked down to, etc.

    8. Extra vitamins*

      If she has a credit union account, many credit unions have services to help you with finding a car. These services can range from providing a packet of advice about how to look, to recommended mechanics to check out a car, to member survey results about various local car deAlers, meetings with an advisor, all the way up to finding the car for you. All but the last should be free.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        We used our credit union to get a used car, and the whole experience was great. Lots of other reasons to use a credit union instead of a traditional bank, too.

      2. Nonprofiteer*

        Absolutely agreed – I once bought a car through a credit union program where dealers brought certified used cars at a firm, pre-discounted rate to the credit union’s parking lot. The whole thing was so quick and painless. (Now I live in NYC, where credit unions seem to be little more than an ATM at the airport.)

    9. Alice*

      Consumer Reports has great info on used cars (and new ones too). In my town, the public library has their magazines in print and you can access their website for free from home.
      I’ve never had a dealer complain about me wanting to take the used car I’m looking at to an independent mechanic for a checkup before I buy it. I think I paid about 60 last time? To the mechanic, not the dealer. You should call your mechanic first to make sure they can look at it quickly when you bring it it.

    10. SignalLost*

      I just bought a car that went pretty well, through a dealership. I had my boyfriend along (we had, uh, not planned to buy a car that day) but I only had to redirect the salesman once that it was my car, my money, my obligation. To be fair, he was treating it as a joint decision rather than my boyfriend’s, and that’s more reasonable, but again, my car, my money, my decision.

      Don’t finance through the dealership. If her credit is good, she can get preapproved through her preferred bank. Know the amount she wants to pay monthly – I wound up getting a six year loan for a new car when I’d planned on a four-year loan for a used car but the monthly payment is the same and I decided it was worth it to not have to deal with service issues sooner.

      Tell her to consider options. I bought gap insurance and a weird double-VIN thing with mine, which are probably both terrible decisions, but I plan to refi the car through my preferred bank in a year and I’ll drop both of those then.

      Remind her that they WANT to sell her a car and she has more power than she’ll feel like she does – I got a quote that would have been a hundred dollars over what I wanted to pay, and standing up to leave got their attention.

      If they show her a car she doesn’t like for ANY reason, she doesn’t have to buy it. Make sure to take it on all road surfaces for the test drive – the route they use didn’t initially have freeway in, and the first car I looked at was awful on the freeway. The second was better but didn’t have power doors and locks and I decided that was crucial. The third was great and I bought it.

      Have it checked by a mechanic. Depending on her state’s laws, she may be able to buy the car and get it looked at and return it if it’s crap, but Washington has no 3-day period, I learned. I would have been able to return it if my mechanic found it was misrepresented, though. And get a carfax. If the car has been wholesaled or totaled, DO NOT BUY IT. My sister bought a car that was wholesaled three times and she’s had nothing but major, major trouble with it – like, a total engine replacement within months of buying it, and catalytic converters (plural) have both failed.

      Overall, she should go in knowing what she wants to pay and any deal-breakers and stick to them. I personally won’t buy a red car, for example.

      Good luck!

    11. KR*

      Tell her to keep an eye on her financing paperwork! I brought my car home and was looking through the financing paperwork to find an extra $30-$50 on my monthly payment. Turned out the dealership had added all of these extras (interior insurance, stereo warrenty??) to my negotiated price without talking to me. I sat there while the financing guy took all the extras off and made sure I told the manager that my sales person was great but the financing guy was slimy.

    12. neverjaunty*

      Is there a credit union in her area or a membership club (like Costco)? In my area these have member services that refer you to car sellers, so you not only get a slightly better price, but the dealer or seller you’re working with has an incentive to be on good behavior because they want to retain that business.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      She can ask friends around her where they go to buy cars. And key part, ask why they go there or what they liked about the place.
      Just my experience, but places that are scammy felt scammy from the moment I walked in. One place put us (my husband and me) in a room. They kept sending in different sales people and never showed us a single car. It felt like there were hidden cameras in the room, I just had this creepy-crawly feeling. So finally I said, “where is the first car that other salesman told us about. I want to see that.” We got more run around so we stood up and left. I have never seen a car dealership who would not let customers on the lot. But this one would not let us on the lot for whatever reason.

      If it helps, tell her to leave her check book at home. This way she can tell the sales person, “I will come back on a different day with my checkbook.”

    14. Grits McGee*

      Does she live near a Carmax? I just bought a car through them and had a really good experience. They don’t negotiate on pricing, so there’s a bit of a no-hassle surcharge, but it was still a fair deal and close enough to the KBB value that it was worth buying through them. The sales people get a flat commission just based on selling a car, so they’re more motivated to help you find a car that works for you than trying to convince you to spend more money.

    15. Kendra*

      I just bought a car this past week! The two most helpful things for me were 1) negotiating the price over email instead of person, and 2) negotiate for the total price of the car before figuring out the financing and monthly payments. After drives and figured out what kind of car I wanted, I emailed a bunch of different dealerships asking for their best price and got all of that talked out over email. Then when I went in, I just had to check the price from the email against the papers they were showing me. I would also get approved for a loan from your bank before going into the dealership so you know you don’t have to use the dealership financing if you don’t want to.

    16. AVP*

      Google the Nicole Cliffe method – probably on the Toast – for instructions on how to do this without really having to speak with anyone in person!

    17. Buzzbattlecat*

      I don’t know if you have this in the US, but in Australia our state governments have fleets of cars that are bought new, properly serviced, and rolled over at about 50,000 km (35,000miles ish) – often 1 to 3 years old. They’re sold at auction to the public.
      I believe rental companies do a similar thing. Might be worth checking if there’s anything similar?

      1. Slartibartfast*

        Fleet cars that were owned by the manufacturer/dealership are a thing in the states, seems logical a rental service would do the same.

    18. kittymommy*

      The two biggest things I can think of (I’ve bought all of cars) was 1. do a crap-ton of research and start narrowing down to what you like ( you’re going to have to figure out what you are willing to compromise on and what is non-negotiable, regardless if it makes no sense to others). 2. Once you have a few models in mind start looking at reviews of those cars: how do they hold up, any known defects, stuff like that and a lot will be narrowing down to a particular vintage of the car – it’s kinda like wine to me, one year can just suck and 2 years later its perfect. 3. Now you got to start looking online. Get a month or half-year (or whatever works for you) to carfax. Once you have the VIN number of the particular car you are looking at, and that should always be on the dealers site, you can run a report – these can also reveal some defects you may need to be aware of.

      2. If you can, try to set up the financing outside of the dealership. If you have a credit union press hard on getting that. Sure you are still borrowing money and incurring a monthly debt, but by having that hard line of $32000 out the door will help elevate a lot of the stress.

      3. Be willing to walk away. Seriously. If the dealership is disrespecting you for whatever reasons, they will try as much as they can to ignore your instructions. I think I mentioned this on another post somewhere, but the car I bought prior to my current one was a nice, older Lexus SUV. The one I went down for wasn’t there when I arrived the next morning so I went to their sister site next door (Toyota). The vehicle they had (same make and model just 2 years older so a little less) and it was cute, I liked it. The vehicle had a know history of timing belt issues so I asked about that, it had been fixed (which was verified on the carfax I read on the VIN). So I pulled my checkbook out, paying tax, tag, and title along with the car. No extras. I cannot emphasize how many times I said that. 45 minutes later I’m throwing my stuff in my bag to leave. and the dealer comes out, yelling at me “nono, you can’t leave we’re still working on a compromise”. “No there’s no compromise. I figured out the tax/tag.title amounts and I have the check written.” “But the dealer fees?????” Nope, like I said before, that’s going to be a hard no. The guy stared he had gotten his boss down to $50 on the fee, come onnnn????? No. At this point I’ll walk over 5 cents.

      Be ready to end the deal, and really end it, because sometimes you have to.
      Good luck, I despise car shopping. Just typing about it makes me nauseous.

    19. Anonno*

      Yes, being prepared to walk away is good! The other thing is to do your research, both on the car’s value and on how to negotiate. There are some basic rules of negotiating that go a long way if you can use them.

      Be friendly, but make it obvious that you know your stuff and you know what you want and you’re not going to buy something impulsively. Find out how much the dealership probably paid for the car and use that as leverage, asking for a fair number between that and the sticker price. Make it obvious that you want to make it a win-win negotiation.

      You can actually make the stereotypes work in your favor as, say, a young woman. If they’re not expecting you to have done your research, they’ll be less prepared to handle that and you kind of have the upper hand.

    20. Minocho*

      There’s this radio show called the Car Pro Show. This guy was a dealership owner for decades, and now runs this show. He has set up relationships with car dealers that he approves in cities across the US – and he has some dealership relationships in California (California, is huge, I know, so geography may still be an issue there).

      If you go to his website (linked in my name for this comment), you can sign up and be directed to a dealership nearby. The experience is made to be low stress, you’re often dealing with the senior salesperson or the owner, and you’re supposed to get a fair, quick, low stress deal.

      I have not used this service myself, because I have not needed to purchase a car since discovering the radio show, but all indications from listening for a couple of years sounds positive.

    21. Teeth Grinder*

      Is she trading in her old car? Something that dealers sometimes do, to try to pressure a shopper into buying: ask for your keys to have the trade-in assessed, then refuse to give them back when you want to leave. Not in so many words, perhaps, but delay, delay, delay.
      After the second time you ask without getting the keys RIGHT NOW, pull out your phone ask say you’ll call the cops. They have taken illegal possession of your vehicle, which is theft, and they are preventing you from leaving, which Is kidnapping, or at least unlawful restraint.
      The police won’t be happy to be called about this, but they are more likely to take out their displeasure on the car people than on you.
      Also, any dealership or salesperson who doesn’t want you to take the car to be inspected is a huge red flag. There is something wrong with that vehicle. The first and last time I fell for that (actually my daughter; she had her heart set on that model), it turned out to be both brakes and head gasket. We took it to our mechanic the next day, and he said, “You actually drove this here?!”

  12. Namey McNameface*

    My ILs have a huge gift giving family culture. Every time husband’s out of siblings come to town, birthdays, Christmases – my kids receive literally dozes of big and small gifts.

    As a minimalist I hate bringing back all this stuff back at my home. The kids quickly lose interest and it becomes junk. Also I hate the plastic and wrapping paper waste the gifts generate.

    Asking ILs to stop gifts altogether is too extreme. So how can I politely put some guidelines in place? Ideally I would like to reduce the number of gifts, avoid certain items like jigsaws/board games (my kids break and/or scatter these around the house and they end up in landfill), and ask them not to use wrapping paper.

    I feel rude making requests around gifts but I feel they are excessive and against the values I want to teach my kids.

    1. The Grammarian*

      You could take them home, unwrap them, and give the unopened gifts away via Freecycle or a charity shop/Goodwill. They wouldn’t be in your home anymore and a child can enjoy a new, low-cost or free gift.

      1. Namey McNameface*

        I used to do this but my kids are older now so they remember it and bug me about it for ages. Also, my ILs want the kids to unwrap, open and play with the gifts on the spot.

        Every year I pack all the unused toys/DVDs/books etc into several boxes and donate it to charity. But this is time consuming and exhausting so I prefer not to receive them in the first place. The sheer volume of gifts is overwhelming.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Involve the kids! They’re old enough to understand that other people are not as fortunate, and that there are kids in the world (and in their community) who don’t get to have the same nice things they do. That doesn’t mean they should feel guilty – but it is a positive thing and a kindness for them to help others. They can select toys that can be donated to charities. And they can also learn that the toys should be packaged up nicely. Your kids wouldn’t want to be given a puzzle with pieces missing or a toy carelessly jammed into a box, right?

          (Also, where’s your husband in all this? These are his relatives, right? It shouldn’t automagically be your job to manage the gift-giving issues with them, or to deal with the fallout of packing up and dealing with gifts from his side of the family.)

          1. Koala dreams*

            I think this is an important point! You talk about it with the kids when you give away your own stuff, and then let the kids participate by giving away toys of their own.

        2. Indie*

          Why does it have to be you? The Marie Kondo method encourages kids to be responsible for their own belongings starting at the age of 1! I think the theory goes that the parents decide how much space/toy boxes/closets the kids can have, and the kids have to prioritize what they value based on what will fit into the space. Some people then use the donations as a teachable moment for the less fortunate – i.e. let them pick the charity. You could then see if the in laws start to get the requests for less stuff directly from the kids, because once they are responsible for clear outs, they won’t be quite so into the pile o’junk, even if it was fun to unwrap. Modelling what you like to see from your in laws is good too. If you’re afraid of being seen as stingy, give their kids a cheque or cash. What kid doesn’t like having their own spending money?

    2. WellRed*

      Where is your spouse on this issue? It’s their family, Correct? Is it just the grandparents? I don’t see anything wrong with saying something (maybe you are not the only one overwhelmed) but it can be hard to buck a family thing.

      1. Namey McNameface*

        He has asked the grandparents to tone down a bit; so now it’s like 10-20 gifts instead of 30-40.

        Because he’s grown up with gifts being a huge part of family events we don’t see eye to eye on this issue. After a lot of discussion we’ve come to a compromise on how we handle birthday/xmas gifts from us; but the main issue is how to deal with his family.

        His siblings have children and I give my nieces/nephews only 1-2 gifts. I don’t know if they think I’m stingy considering they bring my kids dozens. But I just can’t bring myself to add to the huge pile of stuff my nieces/nephews receive every year. It seems like such prodigal waste.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t know how much change you can effect on his family if he’s not on board. However, I’d recommend encouraging them toward behavior that you do want rather than away from behavior you don’t. So…experience gifts, memberships, subscriptions as recommendations, maybe?

        2. neverjaunty*

          Well, the other issue is how to deal with the fact that you get stuck with all the clean-up and toy management afterward. Maybe a few nights stepping on Legos and picking up puzzle pieces for the 2,492,583th time will re-align his thinking on how great it is to shower the children in gifts.

        3. Adeline*

          My husband’s family tends towards this. I decided to treat it as a Love Language thing and not try to stop them (in case that would be interpreted as rejecting *them* rather than the plastic mountain). Instead, we direct the crazy where possible to smaller/better quality specific gifts – for example a single $$$ Paw Patrol truck rather than (literally) half a dozen crappy unrelated off-brand plastic things, clothes that don’t fit, and candy.

          Helps if the child can be vastly enthusiastic about it when it’s opened and you send regular photos of her playing with it in the days and weeks afterwards.

          It feels very weird if you aren’t naturally acquisitive but it’s definitely the lesser of two evils.

          Good luck!

          1. Parenthetically*

            YEP, directing energy toward bigger single gifts has worked for us, as has specifically requesting experience gifts. You can wrap a zoo pass or soccer tickets, Auntie Susu!

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            What finally directed my parents’ money toward that one $75 item rather than 20 $5-10 items: Completely unscripted, my mom was visiting in February and we discovered a whole bag of gifts from her in the back of a closet that we had forgotten about when putting presents under the tree. So we opened them, and thanked her, but I think that illustrated how it was a pile of more stuff we hadn’t missed and didn’t need.

    3. Madeye*

      Can you request that they stick to books for gifts? You can pass the books along or donate the books to the school or library once your kids are done with them.

    4. Annie Moose*

      Putting a limit on the number of gifts might help? E.g. “a max of five gifts”. Or you might be able to redirect them into “practical” gifts like money, gift cards, or a college fund.

    5. Koala dreams*

      For grandparents, if they don’t live with you, the easiest is to have the toys from the grandparents at the grandparents place. Your children can play with those toys when visiting the grandparents. That way the toys stay special and you can keep the kids entertained when visiting (in addition to the goal of the toys not being in your home). If your kids visit with the other relatives, the same goes for them. If the gift givers insist on bringing the gifts to your home, you can insist on them taking them back when they leave, or in worst case you can put them in a bag in the car / your suitcase in wait for the next visit to them.

      For the giving gifts to them part, just let your husband take care of that. He’s more into gifts and you are more into minimalism so it just makes sense that way. No point in making things extra stressful just because, right?

      1. Nita*

        I agree! My parents definitely toned down the gift-giving once we started leaving most of the gifts at their place. Let’s face it, giving a three-year-old a giant Lego set is only fun if you’re not the one picking up the pieces.

    6. Roja*

      You could try asking for experience gifts, tickets or zoo admission or whatever.

      Sorry to hear you’re dealing with that; I love getting gifts myself but wow, dozens sounds exhausting!

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        I agree with the “experience” thing – provided you trust them to be appropriate about it.

      2. BuildMeUp*

        I second this, if the relatives are in town long enough!

        If you frame it as, “the kids love your gifts, but what they would really love is to spend time with you and make great memories together,” that might help.

      3. Radical Edward*

        I support the strategy of convincing them to consolidate their spending, or spread it out with subscriptions, etc. After a few dramatically excited reactions from kids who get something they really actively have been wanting, the relatives will likely be motivated to continue- or at least ask you for more ideas. This is how I ‘trained’ my aunts to give me bookstore gift cards or magazine subscriptions when I was younger; their previous habit of just grabbing the biggest and sparkliest skincare gift basket in the mall wasn’t compatible with my fierce allergies. Hopefully they will come around after a couple of successful gift-receiving experiences.

        My family fortunately all lost their patience with one-use wrapping around the same time – we have been re-using and swapping the same fancy bags and bows for over ten years now! Even tissue paper gets saved… I caught my father going around behind my mother and picking up the paper before the cat could eat it, and he carefully smoothed it out and folded it into a box. It was just about the sweetest thing I have ever seen (he is often the one creating stressful messes, so it was heartening to notice that he’s learning)! When I get a box from my folks (I live abroad and they like to send goodies occasionally), I usually save the tissue paper and send it right back as padding in the next parcel. Cat hair and all.

    7. Fellow Traveler*

      In regards to the wrapping paper- my sister-in-law this year asked that we not use wrapping paper because it isn’t recyclable (which is not quite true). I love my SIL, but the request annoyed me a little because for our family, the unwrapping and reveal is a big part of Christmas morning for us.
      I did some research and found wrapping paper that was recyclable and we agreed that we would use wrapping methods that were eco friendly — recyclable paper, brown paper or newspaper, gift bags, or re-using fabric bags or fabric scraps, etc.
      If they are bringing gifts into your house you could gently phrase it as “We are trying to put less stuff into the trash bins at our house and recycle/ reuse more, so if possible we would appreciate if you use recylable or re-purposed wrapping methods.” If you can give suggestions, that would be useful. I’ve found that it is often better to give positive alternatives rather than negative dictates.
      Also- second what everyone is saying about your spouse should be the one having this conversation with his family. FWIW, my husband comes from a big gift giving background – his parents were very distant and it was one of the only ways he felt loved. For him, the joy from playing with something on Christmas Day, even if he never touched it again after that, made it worth having. Of course he is he first person to get rid of a toy the other 364 days of the year since he hates the clutter.

      1. Temperance*

        I’ve been trying to find a way to discuss this with my ILs, to be totally honest. I’m not the greenest hippie to have ever walked the earth, but it drives me nuts to see how they deal with present wrapping. My MIL, for some reason, uses a different roll of wrapping paper for each gift. She also does this weird sexist “blue for boys / red/pink for girls” thing (and it carries over into the gift contents, too). It’s just so wasteful, both in materials and time. She has this huge box with like 30 different rolls in it.

        I was thankful that my SIL called out one of the weird sexist comments (MIL fretting because one of SIL’s boys really liked his cousin’s cash register toy, and she had so much trouble not finding one that was too “girly”.)

        1. Fellow Traveler*

          Ick! I’ve found it very hard to find tasteful/ fun non gendered wrapping paper for birthday gifts and it annoys me so much!
          My husband works in waste disposal and he says the issue at Christmas isn’t that it isn’t recyclable, but rather the sheer volume of paper the holiday produces.
          I do like unwrapping presents, and appreciate the ceremony of gifting, but I agree that it can really get out of hand.

      2. kittymommy*

        So, I’m a wrapper and I’m pretty damn good at it. I hit the after the holiday sales to add in wrapping paper/bags/ribbons/bows that I need for next year. Were talking heavy, embossed paper; velvet or taffeta ribbons; ornaments hanging down from the fabric ribbon bow (maybe a fur pompom or Christmas ornament. And so much tape!!! And I’ve noticed a lot of times the ribbons and decorations are kept by the receivers for later use (I’ve actually gotten some of the decorations back on gifts). Some people just like wrapping (I adore it!!!!)
        @nameymcnameface Would it be feasible (though I know not ideal or preferred) to take the gifts to your house and then after a month or maybe two, give them to a library or youth organization? Or just leave them at the grands house????

      3. Nita*

        Maybe suggest gift bags rather than wrapping paper. They’re much easier to save and reuse. Although, the wrapping paper can also be reused somewhat – I save the cutest ones for collages and other crafts.

    8. Episkey*

      My MIL does this and on top of it, she works at a discount store, so all her gifts are very low-quality junk that she gets with her employee discount. Currently, my kiddo is too young to know/understand that I turn around and donate or return what I can, but when he gets older we are going to have this issue. SIGH.

    9. AdAgencyChick*

      Oh man. It took a LONG time to get my in-laws to understand that we don’t want more stuff (we live in NYC, there’s no room for the stuff!). We kept trying to gently steer her towards gift cards, theater tickets, etc., but my MIL said “but I want to give you guys stuff!”

      The compromise that she finally dug was giving us gift cards to a local butcher. She feels like she’s giving us an item, but it’s a consumable item so we enjoy it and then it doesn’t take up any space in our home. (My husband makes sure to gush about the delicious steaks we had on his phone calls home.)

      I’d first try “the kids have so much stuff, how would you feel about giving a membership to the science museum or zoo?” And then maybe a small stuffed gorilla or something like that with the zoo membership if they really want to see the kids open a physical thing. Or do the kids have a favorite restaurant they could get a gift card for?

      I read an article recently about how gift givers are often thinking about the moment the gift is opened and the reaction they want to see, whereas gift recipients would rather have something that is useful and/or delightful in the months AFTER the gift-giving occasion. Maybe you can talk to your ILs about it in those terms — that your kids will get pleasure all year long out of “experience” gifts rather than 10 minutes on their birthday? And promise the ILs you’ll send lots of pictures of your kids at the zoo/science museum/etc?

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Give money for college. Give experiences, not stuff. Lay down the law – no more than x gifts per person, period. Excess gifts will be returned/donated/refused on the spot/trashed/whatever. Send gifts home with the giver, to be played with at their house. Sigh and get the excess gifts away from the kids before they’re ruined and donate. Pick and choose whatever works for you :)

    11. Lilysparrow*

      There’s a cute rhyme circulating about “one thing you want, one thing you need, one thing to wear, one thing to read.”

      If you could sell it as a family theme, it might be easier to get folks on board just because it’s catchy.

      I’ve also done a number of years where we had a very tight budget, so gifting to the nieces & nephew’s was small or handmade. If you persistently give less than they do, they will eventually cut back. Possibly out of resentment, possibly out of pity. I don’t really care why, it worked.

      Another idea that went over well (not mine, it was a different SIL) was to have all the grandchildren in a Secret Santa pool, so each cousin was only getting/making a gift for one other. It was doubly nice because it took the pressure off, but also because the older kids could really participate in choosing or making the gift, and it created more of a personal connection between them.

    12. Observer*

      Jigsaws and board games are actually really good gifts – it might be worth your while to get on the kids to make sure that they put the stuff away when they use it. (That’s a REALLY good habit for them to develop, in any case.)

      What would probably make that easier and more doable is if you implement a system like the first time you see pieces of a puzzle or board game, that gets packed up and goes to a charity. This means that you are not chasing them and nagging them all the time while putting some built in consequences. On the other hand it reduces the issue of the kids bugging you about where the game or puzzle went – if they wanted to keep it, they should have kept the pieces where they belong.

      1. Observer*

        I need to add that I think that this is just one piece of the puzzle. I think you’ve gotten excellent advice about things like requesting experiences, consumables and subscriptions. And also the consolidation idea.

        Adeline has a very good point – it’s a Love language thing. You’re not wrong, but for them this is how they show love, and how they see that their love is actually being seen / felt. Working from that framework is going to give you a much better chance of communicating effectively with your IL’s.

        It sounds like the IL’s want to see the kids’ excitement, which means that any experience is going to need to be something they can do during the visit, but that still can cover a lot – either that or you make sure to send LOTS of video clips. Lots of grandparents would love that. With subscriptions, they could give the first of the subscribed item to the kids and then have the rest come to your home. Or give them some sort of confirmation that it will be coming, so they get to see the kids get excited. And there are TONS of child suitable subscriptions out there. So you get lots of ideas.

  13. Où est la bibliothèque?*

    What are you cooking? I finally tried my hand at clafoutis, and it turned out great! Fancy name, fancy appearance, incredibly easy recipe.

    1. Lena Clare*

      I’ve just made walnut brownies, so I can make a brownie sundae later with the rest of the cinnamon and nutmeg icecream I made over Christmas.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I made my own crackers for the holidays and we have lately been getting to grips with anchovies for a challenge.

        1. Jaid_Diah*

          I looked up Instant Pot recipes and found it on All Recipes.com! I’m not big on collard greens, so spinach or kale will do instead.

    3. Trixie*

      I’ve been testing out my toaster oven for small batch roasting/ baking, and so far so good. I would like to try baking socca, bread from chickpea flour. Perhaps with small cast iron pan?

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        I’m thinking about getting a toaster oven… need to look at consumer reports, but what one do you have and pros/cons?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I just spent an insane amount of time researching toaster ovens. The first thing to know is they’re all huge these days; there are no small ones like I remember from growing up. The second thing is, how much are you willing to spend? If you’re willing to splurge, this is highly recommended by review sites like Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen and is awesome (it’s the one I ended up with and I love it):

          1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

            THANK YOU~ I had a simpler, smaller one but gave it away when I moved. I am looking for an awesome one to use in my “cooking for one” days now. I’m branching into gourmet eats more, and more broiling, too. This sounds just the ticket. And normally I do an insane amount of research but I am trying to finish up some key items and can’t let myself be diverted right now. (Although I’ve been ordering ‘cooking for one or two’ cookbooks like no tomorrow..). Thanks again!

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              You could totally use this to replace an oven (and it sounds like a lot of people writing reviews do). One thing to know — it gets really hot when it’s on, and you need to give it four inches* of space above, behind, and on each side when it’s on or else it can (in extreme and I assume rare cases) damage things too close to it, including walls.

              * I think it’s four inches but double check the manual if you get it!

              1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

                Thanks! I went and read up more about it, and am looking around the kitchen for the best possible spot for it. (Just jettisoned a wonderful heavy butcher block rolling cart that would have been perfect… trying to decide if I dare ask for it back!). All my granite counters have inadequate clearance…. I’ll make it work, just have to plan a bit more!

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  A rolling cart would be perfect for it! You need that cart back! (We have it on a counter that doesn’t have a wall behind it or anything above it, and it’s a relief not to have to worry about that. A rolling cart could accomplish the same thing.)

              2. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

                I ordered it. And called up the friend I gave the rolling cart to, and asked if they were using it. (there was a good chance they were not…. they were helping me offload things from the house as fast as I could that day as I was unpacking the u-haul). Looks like the cart is coming home now that I have a use for it…. grin. THANKS!

          2. Book Lover*

            We have this one, it is brilliant :). We actually don’t have that much clearance around it but haven’t had issues.

        2. Trixie*

          I’m starting with a Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven Broiler, picked up on sale over the holidays at Costco. I wanted to see how much I actually used it so spending too much. The CR reviews were very helpful so I know what to expect and not be disappointed by. (My unit for example does not have an internal light which I knew when I purchased.) Heats up so much faster than my oven which I use to store pots and pans.

        3. AcademiaNut*

          I’ve got a fairly big one (local brand, so not one you could get). For maximum utility, look for one that has top and bottom elements that can be turned on and off separately, and a temperature range that goes to 250 C. The other thing I look for is one where you can put stuff quite close to the upper burner, for broiling or making toast – some models had safety features which prevented this.

          We don’t have a standard oven, so I do everything in it. The only things it’s not good for are anything too big to fit (I can do a chicken, but a turkey has to be cut into pieces first) and delicate things like sponge cake, due to the variations in heat across the oven. I can do roast vegetables or meat, braises, fish, cookies, sturdier cakes, muffins, casseroles.

          1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

            Hadn’t thought about the delicate things… but wonderful advice. Thank you! I am likely to cook almost everything except the huge things in it… and broiling is a primary want. (I have a broiler in my gas oven… but… my oven is bigger than I need for one!).

      2. Adele*

        I make mine in a regular round cake pan. It can take the brief initial heating on the stove. Also try the Italian version with rosemary. Yum.

    4. cat socks*

      I’m making a baked brie recipe for a get together with some friends tonight. I might also make some candied pecans. I made those for Christmas and they were yummy.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Baked brie is divine! The best I ever had was at a restaurant in Lake Placid. When I cut it over, melted butter drizzled out! It was served topped with raspberry jam and there was fruit and nuts served on the side.

      2. Loopy*

        Jumping on the baked brie is the best train!!!! Haven’t had it in years and I still think of it SO fondly.

    5. Parenthetically*

      A veggie-heavy Thai curry for dinner tonight! I’m on the prowl for good ground beef recipes (interesting, flavorful, something other than meatballs, chili, burgers, etc.) since I bought 20 lbs recently to add to the 15 lbs already in the freezer (IT WAS ON SALE OK) and would love any ideas!

      1. AVP*

        if you like Thai flavors, you need to try this stir-fried ground beef recipe on Orangette. I’ll post the link below but if it doesn’t come up you should be able to google it pretty easily.

          1. Parenthetically*

            I’ve done Bon Appetit’s Thai beef and basil and it’s INCREDIBLE — definitely in our regular rotation.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        Make a good, traditional bolognese sauce – I recommend Marcella Hazan’s. A good recipe takes at least six hours to do, but it freezes well and is fantastically delicious.

        Laab/Larb – Thai ground beef salad.

        Make authentic Japanese taco rice (taco meat, served on steamed white short grain rice, and topped with chopped lettuce, tomato, grated cheese and a few Doritos). (an Okinawan dish that was inspired by US military cuisine).

        Kefka kebabs – meat ground with spices, onion, garlic, parsley, mint, formed onto skewers and grilled. Serve with yoghurt and pita.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      After getting introduced to Smitten Kitchen here, her lamb chops with olive tapenade. Quick to make, tastes fancy. In summer, we were big fans of her pasta with corn, bacon, and basil.

      Fresh egg pasta, which I make once every week or two.

      1. Sydney Bristow*

        Oh that reminds me it’s been forever since I made her liege waffles recipe. I tried a ton of recipes and hers was by far the best.

        Her homemade Oreos are great too.

    7. Overeducated*

      I am sick and lazy today, but yesterday I made carrot ginger cream soup and whole grain honey beer bread. I will enjoy the fruits of this labor as leftovers. Next I am going to make Instant Pot chicken vindaloo and Meera Sodha’s roast cauliflower.

      Also have 3/4 of a cabbage and 3/4 of a jar of sauerkraut left from another bout of soup making, so open to ideas there! May just go the traditional route and eat with sausage.

    8. AVP*

      King Cake for King’s Day! I’m going to try David Leibovitz’s recipe with pre-made puff pastry. I have made my own and it just seems…not worth it…when you can find DuFour at the grocery store.

    9. Loopy*

      I have avoided cooking for years, after not being good at it but with tons of new kitchen gadgets this year, I am finding some excitement and optimism! This week I’ll be re-testing tofu with a tofu press and air fryer. I found a General Tso’s Tofu recipe I’m excited about. I hate the mushy texture so I’m hoping to really get it right this time for least/minimal mushiness.

      Any tips appreciated (not to hijack!).

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My father-in-law the retired chef came over… he rolled chicken breasts around chorizo and roasted them as logs, served with mushroom gravy,and side sslad of kalele, lentils, chickpeas & tomatoes with a lemony vinaigrette.
      And he was late so I had to go lap swim AFTER that …I am proud to say I didn’t sink like a stone.

    11. MsChanandlerBong*

      Nothing fancy, but it’s tasty. It’s called “melt in your mouth chicken bake.” Mayonnaise, shredded Parmesan, red pepper flakes, garlic, seasoned salt, and pepper mixed together and spread over chicken thighs. Top with seasoned bread crumbs and bake. I’m serving it with baked potatoes.

    12. Bluebell*

      A chickpea and chard recipe from Ottolenghi’s new cookbook Simple. Definitely worth making again.

  14. Dentist problem*

    My husband and I have the same dentist. I really dislike that she calls me “hon” or “sweetie”. This is definitely not common where we live – in fact it’s actually kind of weird – and the dentist is from this area as well. I feel like this is a way to infantilize women, particularly as she doesn’t refer to my husband as hon/sweetie.

    What is a polite way to correct her when she uses this extremely annoying and unprofessional pet name?

    1. Annie Moose*

      If she’s otherwise nice and this is just a quirk of hers, you could try Alison’s trick of presenting it as a weird preference of yours. E.g. “I just have a thing about sweetie/hon/nicknames, I’m sure you don’t mean anything by it but it just makes me uncomfortable to be called that!”

        1. London Calling*

          I’m not sure I’d be that abrupt to someone with the potential to inflict a lot of pain on me.

        2. Natalie*

          Yes, let’s needlessly antagonize someone who’s going to be putting sharp things in our mouths!

    2. Em*

      “Oh, it’s [name]” and “Oh, i prefer [name]” work well esp if you act like they just accidentally called you the wrong name. If you get pushback you can frame it as a weird personal quirk, like haha I know it’s odd but I prefer [name].

    3. Anonno*

      Based on the way she says it, does it seem more like a quirk or something that’s reflective of her attitude towards women? If it’s the latter, I would consider switching dentists. If it seems harmless, I would make a joke about it and then ask her to stop.

    4. Teeth Grinder*

      Is it possible she has trouble with names? After all, she only sees each patient a couple of times a year. Calling someone entirely the wrong name would be bad, too.
      Personally, I have many ways to cover for not remembering someone’s name that do not involve condescending pseudo-endearments.

  15. PhyllisB*

    I am so angry I can’t see straight!! I woke up a couple of days ago and went into the kitchen to make coffee, and what do I find on the counter? A marijuana pipe. It belongs to my 33 year old son. Now before y’all start telling me to chill out, that marijuana is not that big a deal, here’s the whole story. 1. My son has addiction issues. His drug of choice is Xanax, but basically he’s a pill head who will take anything, and smoking pot is just a side issue. 2. He was charged with felony drug possession when he was caught with 200 morphine bills and faced 15 years in prison. The judge allowed him to go to drug court, and it took him five years to complete, but he did it, and now his record is clean. I have shared some of this in the past. I do not want him to go down this road again; we spent too much time and money and heartache to help him, and I don’t know if I have it in me to do this again. 3. Pot is still illegal in our state. And 4. We have a 12 year old grandson living with us who thinks his uncle hung the moon.
    I reamed his ass good and told him if he wants to live his life like that, he can just find somewhere else to live. That I was not going to watch him destroy himself like this, and I didn’t want grandson to be influenced by this. He apologized, and has been avoiding me like the plague since.
    Now here’s my issue: my husband will not back me up on this (making him leave.) He’ll rant and cuss at me about it, and threaten to throw him out, call the sheriff, ect. but when I tell him to confront son and tell HIM these things instead of telling me, he…doesn’t. I don’t know where to go from here. Any advice?

    1. Annie Moose*

      You and your husband need to get on the same page on this, but unfortunately I don’t have a lot of advice for how to do that! But I agree that unless he’s backing you up, it’s not going to mean anything. I’m sorry you have to deal with this and hope it works out in the end. :(

      1. Mmmm, chocolate!*

        My parents had this situation when I was in college with my either, who was 17. They couldn’t get on the same page re: how to deal with my brother & his addictions/many issues. Ultimately my dad moved out with my brother to a hotel for 3 months, my mom filed for divorce, my mom then moved into an apt while dad and brother moved back into the house, House was eventually sold.

        Fast forward 12 years and brother and dad live in a 3-family house my dad owns, brother maintains and pays below market and they have a tenant in the 3rd unit. Brother had 2 DUIs including a nasty accident where he hurt no one else but was badly injured and 4 weeks of jail time about 7 years ago (had pot in the car during one DUI); he’s been a “safe” user of alcohol since then and MJ is now legal to smoke, so the question is really the extent to which his alcohol and marijuana use is impacting others, which is minimally. He has a job (bartender & mechanic assistant type thing).

        Idk, it’s hard. I don’t think my dad is helping him, but I know my mom’s approach was stupid too. Brother is the youngest, so there weren’t Littles around to influence. It absolutely ruined my parents’ marriage though. I’d encourage you and your husband to do some counseling together ASAP.

    2. Reba*

      That’s tough. I know you’re going through a lot of family stuff. I would say research the eviction procedures and landlord/tenant laws in your area just to prepare yourself to act.

    3. Namey McNameface*

      That’s really tough. I’m sorry you’re in the situation.

      Do you know why your husband can’t implement tough love? Is it because he feels guilty about kicking out your son? Does he worry your son will not cope/end up homeless and destitute? Does he have difficulty enforcing boundaries in general? If you could better understand the reasons behind your husband’s reluctance perhaps you could address these.

      If it’s not possible to get your husband on the same page, can you go ahead and enforce your house rules without his agreement? Your son is 33, not 13. So it seems perfectly reasonable to say “Your dad might be willing to keep you at home but I’m not; since you don’t have both of our permission to stay in our home you have to leave in X days.” But that might be hard if your husband blatantly takes your son’s side.

    4. fposte*

      Wow, that’s tough; I’m sorry.

      Question–why can’t you throw him out yourself rather than trying to get your reluctant husband to do it? I understand the not-being-on-the-same-page problem if he’ll just let him in again, but it sounds like the issue here isn’t that.

      Another question–what do you think led your son to leave the pipe out? Is he generally this careless, is this a sign that he was sufficiently stoned not to pull it together, is he angry with you guys, or is there something else going on? It seems a pretty obvious thing to avoid, so I’m wondering why he didn’t manage that.

    5. LGC*

      So…your husband is making you out to be the bad guy? That’s how I’m reading it. It seems like you guys agree, it’s just that he’s not willing to confront him on it – so it ends up being on you to tell your son to get his act together. Which is REALLY unfair to you!

      But I’d say if you’re going to evict him (which you’re justified in!), do it in a calmer moment. Just because I think it might go over better if it’s not a huge screaming match. (It won’t go over well regardless, but it might go over less badly.)

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      Well, for one thing, I’d refuse to listen to any more ranting about it. I’d get real broken record, “if you’re not going to do anything about it, I’m not interested in hearing you talk about it.”

    7. Kathenus*

      As most others have said, this really sucks to be in this position – both from your son and husband. If you can get your husband on board somehow, that’s obviously best and easiest for you. Maybe sit down with your husband and try to have a calm discussion about your son and boundaries. See if you can find some areas of agreement, and maybe then see if you can do a written ‘house rules’ type thing you both agree on. If your husband doesn’t have to be the bad guy in the moment, maybe he’ll be more supportive? Still not fair if you need to be the one out front presenting it, but presenting a joint written document from you both is at least better than being on an island by yourself. But if you and your husband can’t come to agreement I also agree with others that you should hold your ground, it’s your house too, and you’re protecting your grandson. I say this as a person with a brother who has addiction issues, the only time we had real success was when we finally imposed consequences on him instead of individuals enabling him.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Tell your husband that the two of you have no choice. Tell him that someone could raise a stink about an underage person (grandson) living with three adults, one who faced felony charges for drugs and is STILL doing drugs.
      Having that child in the house is a big game changer. I am not a lawyer but I would not want to risk being on charges MYSELF for allowing another adult to expose a child in my custody to drugs of any sort. Yes, I understand it’s pot. But until the law is changed, it’s against the law. Courts give people a second chance. But they are not as easy going on subsequent problems.

      A while ago, a friend reported the adult child of another one of my friends for X. She had no choice but to report X. If anyone investigated and found out she knew X was going on and did nothing, she herself could have faced charges. I am with you on this one. You may have to go it alone without your husband’s backing. I am so sorry, it sucks when the spouse does not back us up.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Marriage counseling. Seriously. and very possibly individual therapy for you and your husband. You may also find value in the al-anon for drugs, I always forget what it’s called.

      1. A different anonymous today*

        +1 on the Al-Anon. Changed user name for this. I’m in a women’s only group, and there are a some wives but many mothers / grandmothers (raising kids). REALLY helpful. And we have pretty much everything (alcohol, drugs, gambling…) as the “qualifier” because the addictive behaviors are so similar and the responses of the enabler (just speaking for myself here) appears to be comparable regardless of the addiction.

    10. PhyllisB*

      Thank you for all the replies. Instead of responding one by one, I’m going to try to address it all in one message. If I forgot something, by all means ask me again, and if any new questions with different asks I will address that, too. Okay, here goes:
      1. My husband has a hard time enforcing any consequences on him because he lost his elder son by his first marriage because his ex-wife was so bitter that she managed to turn him completely away from us. Of course, there’s a bit more to the story, but this is the bottom line. He doesn’t want to lose this one.
      2. I don’t mind being the bad guy, I did it when he went to rehab. He went to jail for a month, so while he was in I made arrangements to have him admitted. Hubby didn’t want to do it. He didn’t want to do it, saying he got his “rehab in jail.” Wouldn’t pay for it. So my mother offered to pay half, and I went to my church for a loan from the benevolence fund. Since he was over 21 and unemployed he was eligible for a reduced rate. When he saw me do all that, he agreed to pay it. I am the one who picked him up from jail and took him straight to the rehab facility.
      3. Counseling would probably be a good idea, but with the way we work it would be extremely hard to accomplish. Plus I know husband will say I’m the one with the problem not him. I will keep it in mind.
      4. Yes, I know if I could force him to leave, that my husband would probably let him come back. See #1.
      5. I have considered the legal ramifications of him doing this with a minor child in the house. And I fear he’s hiding other stuff, too.
      6. They have Al anon in this area, but not the drug equivalent. (They do have NA but you have to be an addict to go to those meetings.) Al anon does not like to hear about drug issues, only issues dealing with alcohol. AA is the same way. My daughter was also a drug addict and when she would try to address her issues, they would not let her say she was a drug addict. She had to say she was an alcoholic. I know this for a fact because I was allowed to go with her to some meetings that were open and they would say upfront this was not a forum for junkies, only for alcoholics. This was not here, this was in another state. The half way house she was in would not allow them to attend NA meetings, only AA meetings.
      I don’t know if I have addressed everything, forgot to make notes, but will come back if I missed anything. Thanks to all of you for trying to help.

      1. Jersey's mom*

        Wow, I am so sorry that all this is happening to you. Zen hugs, if you want them.

        It sounds like you’ve already started parcing this behemoth problem into individual chunks to try to work through them.

        I’d suggest that you go to Captain Awkward blog. Think you may be ablessed to find scripts to help you talk with each person. And to find a “team you” that will support you and your decisions.

        I’m concerned about grandson. At that age they see and hear everything (unless related to a chore). I think you should consider the likelihood that he knows something about what’s going on. And kids talk. And get overheard by other parents, teachers,etc. This is not intended to make you panic, but to recognize that you may have a much shorter time line on taking action (before someone from the outside takes over).

        Best of luck to you. I hope things go better this time round.

      2. Natalie*

        Plus I know husband will say I’m the one with the problem not him.

        Just a couple comments about this and couples counseling – my husband was super reluctant to do counseling, and for pretty valid reasons (therapeutic abuse in his past). Of course that didn’t help the dumb, important but pointless fights we kept having. So we discussed it less as a “therapist” and more as a referee for these conversations.

        Within the therapists office, whatever your husband says the couples counselor isn’t going to be talking about who has the problem. They don’t generally decide that one person is right and and one is wrong.

        I really can’t recommend it enough. When you find yourself having the same fight over and over, it’s obviously not helping anything except your winter stores of anger and resentment. Those are hard to discharge and absolute relationship killers.

      3. Isotopes*

        AA may be more strict, but Al-Anon meetings really vary. At the one I attend now, they actually talk about how the steps and principles tend to be similar for most kinds of addiction, and everyone is totally fine talking about addictions other than alcohol. My “alcoholic” is also a drug addict. Particularly because Al-Anon is not about the addict, but about the people who are impacted by the alcoholic’s behaviour, there’s really a variety in groups. And for me, generally when I’m talking about my own situation, I find that I don’t even need to mention whether it’s an alcohol thing or a drug thing, because it’s MY reactions and MY behaviour that I’m trying to address, not the addict’s.

        My suggestion would be to try one meeting. You don’t even have to share anything your first meeting. You can just give your name, say “I’m not ready to share, but I’m grateful to be able to listen.” Any decent group isn’t going to have an issue with that. You can get a feel for the group, maybe even talk to someone after.

        Remember that these groups are all attended and maintained by people who are working the program. There are guidelines for the meetings, but individual groups can be SO different from one another. Try not to judge the whole program based on one group. You may not find use in the program, not everyone does, but I would recommend that you give it another try. The first “-Anon” group I ever attended, I didn’t find useful at all, and it really skewed my perception of these types of programs. The only reason I tried another group was because I didn’t know what else to do. And I am so thankful that I found the group I have now. I go every week and I don’t know what I’d do without it.

    11. Prof_Murph*

      Get to an Al-Anon meeting stat. Not all meetings are the same – it is generally recommended that you try at least 6 different meetings (if available in your area) before deciding if it’s for you. Some meetings may have stricter ‘rules’ than others and some are perfectly fine if you refer to an addict (rather than an alcoholic). The program’s aim to help family and friends who have a problem with someone else’s drinking, whether that person is drinking or not. Chances are, even if you’re going because of your son, you have other people in your life (family, friends, co-workers) whose drinking may bother you (but you don’t have to discuss those relationships etc if that’s not what’s troubling you today).

      1. A different anonymous today*

        +1… I posted about my women’s group above. They really do accept any qualifying person, and some qualifiers did drugs, now drink, drank now gamble… the addictions may transfer but the principles remain the same. Our group is less rigid… but I’m in a metro area where there are many choices. I didn’t think my scenario fit (gambling, former pain med addict) but it completely fit for me as the co-dependent. YMMV.

  16. Art3mis*

    I’ve been meaning to post this for weeks! The Sunday before Halloween my husband and I found a kitten in our neighbor’s backyard. We tried to find where he belonged as he was too young to be on his own and but old enough that had he been feral, he would not have been so friendly. He had no microchip and we found out that he was likely abandoned by a person in a neighboring subdivision. So we decided to keep him! He’s about 6 months old now and cute as a button. He loves to play and play and play and annoy our older cat. They get along OK, I think they’ll do better when he’s a little older. Oh and we named him Fergus! I completely wasn’t thinking of the stand in name we use here, I’m just an Outlander and Supernatural fan and it seemed to fit him. But given his name and that he’s a cat, I thought the AAM community would appreciate him. :) Here’s a picture:

    1. fposte*

      What an adorable face! Now I’ll feel bad maligning Fergus in future–though of course being a cat would explain a lot of Fergus’s maladaptive work behavior.

    2. cat socks*

      What a cutie pie! So glad you were able to give him a home. All four of my cats are were unplanned like that too.

    3. Laika*

      Cuuuute! Fergus looks so regal here. And can I just say – six month old kittens are ridiculous! I’d adopted adult cats for most of my life and was so not prepared for the energy levels of our younger cat. She finds the weirdest things entertaining and *everything* is a toy.

      1. Art3mis*

        You are not kidding. I haven’t had a kitten in about 20 years. He only slows down to sleep or eat.

    4. Kms1025*

      He’s adorable and as soon as you mentioned Supernatural I kept hearing the witch pronounce Fergus as Fairgus :)

  17. Comms Girl*

    I have a very excited cat running around the house right now, as we just came back from an important shopping trip to IKEA. The whole house, full of boxes and cardboard pieces and whatnot, is pretty much her playground right now :)

    (On the other hand, my boyfriend has now reached the stage where one yells at wooden blocks, metal parts and screws/bolts/etc…. 3 more pieces of furniture to build. Yay! )

    1. Kathenus*

      Google ’50 box cat maze’ and you’ll see a great YouTube video of someone who bought – yes 50 boxes – and filled the living room with them for his cats.

    2. cat socks*

      Sounds like kitty heaven! My giant, floofy house panther always likes to squeeze himself into the smallest box possible.

      Good luck with the furniture building!

    3. Dr. Doll*

      I felt very proud of myself for going to IKEA on Friday evening and coming out with only the one item I went in for. :-)

      Good luck with the build!

  18. Bekx*

    So my fiancé and I moved to a new city this past year and we don’t really know anyone. We went to a few trivia nights and met a nice couple a few years younger than us.

    They invited us for drinks one night, and then immediately invited us to their friendsgiving party with 30 other people since we didn’t have any other friends. It was nice but… Super generous. At first I thought that perhaps they were just being friendly since moving to a new town sucks, but fiancé pointed out that they have lived in this city their entire lives.

    A few weeks later they invited us to board game night at their friends house. Again, 30 people and we had to bring a snack. We sort of made some jokes to each other about how friendly and what an effort they were putting in to hang out with us. I can’t explain it but it was way too friendly. We joked about accidentally getting invited to a swinger party.

    We went to board game night and brought our guacamole. Everyone was super friendly. The host was always making sure we had people to talk to, and was always including us. The hostess raved about our guac.

    There were some odd things at this party… Like everyone was young-mid 20s and they were drinking, but only things like bud light and only one beer or two. Fiancé brought a craft IPA and had three beers and he felt out of place. Then there were the random elderly people there. Like one man in his 60s and one woman in her 50s. Then there was a girl who came over, was the life of the party and then crawled under a blanket on the couch and fell asleep. They were breaking off into smaller groups and one woman seemed to be getting consoled by three other members. Nothing too weird, but we noticed it. Like I said, host and hostess and the couple that invited us were super friendly and nice. We had a good time and would go again.

    The next day I thanked the woman who invited us and she immediately invited me to a white elephant exchange at her Bible study. It’s not my thing, and I told her that.

    A few months ago, when we first moved here, I read about a cult stronghold in our new city. I had a weird feeling and looked her up on Facebook and sure enough, they are part of this cult! The host and hostess are high ranking members of this cult! They were trying to recruit us.

    It makes a lot more sense now. They were really surprised at our ages (30s) because this cult targets high school and college students primarily. It’s the kind that makes you sign a covenant, move in with them, install anti-porn software on your devices, forces you to cut all contact with outsiders and arranges marriages inside the cult. If you leave then all your friends are gone. They love bomb you and tell you how amazing you are. And apparently how your guac is the best they’ve ever had hahaha.

    It’s crazy. They were so subtle about it. Fiancé and I are pretty skeptical, but we did not at all expect this at first. We have to be careful who we tell in this city because it’s pretty popular here. There’s support groups for getting out of the cult and a website with stories about people committing suicide there. We have a fun story to tell at parties now, but what are the chances!

    We’re a bit hesitant now to meet new people after this. Both of us are pretty extraverted, but this definitely was an experience!

      1. Bekx*

        They tend to brigade so I don’t want to bring any of that here by naming them directly. But it’s in the capital of the ‘state shaped like a heart’ if that helps you find out the info.

        Fiancé told his boss at work about it and she was telling a coworker (not using his name) and I guess he’s a member of this ‘church’! He was like oh no they aren’t a cult at all.

        It’s seriously everywhere!

        1. No Green No Haze*

          Well that was a super interesting thing I just learned about. !!! Thanks for the tip! They seem suuuuuuper culty.

    1. Wulfgar*

      You will meet great (normal and sincere) new people. This will be a great story to tell them while you all drink many craft beers.

    2. Annie Moose*

      Whoa! You dodged a bullet there. I was reading along and was like, wow these people are so friendly… REALLY friendly… uhhhhh… wait a minute…

      Best of luck finding other, better, less cultish friends!!

      1. Bekx*

        Thanks! That was our thoughts exactly! Every person we’ve told this story to thought it was going to be an unexpected swinger party. The cult part was a hit at our holiday gatherings!

        1. Sabina*

          Hey, it could have been worse. They could have been trying to recruit you into selling Amway. Thank god it was only a creepy religious cult!

          1. Jennifer Juniper*

            Amway is also a creepy religious cult. I once tutored someone who tried to recruit me for Amway. They’re a Christian right/Republican group. I count them as a cult because they don’t tell you up front.

          2. LGC*

            I mean, they could have combined the two and tried to recruit them into selling self-help courses and eventually pull them into a misogynistic Master/slave sex cult where you get branded with the initials of the cult founder and a former television actress as part of your initiation.

            But that would be insane.

      1. Bekx*

        It is though! We’re laughing now, after some distance. Fiancé was really paranoid for a few days about being targeted.

    3. Roja*

      Whoa, that is some story!! I’m so glad you guys didn’t fall for it and didn’t get sucked in. Hopefully you can meet some normal people from here on out!

      I’m also a little worried, since inviting new people to a party or game night is something hubby and I would do, just genuinely trying to be nice. Is it really that weird?

      1. Bekx*

        No! Not at all! It was how frequently and persistently they were inviting us out that was weird. Especially since they were nice but we didn’t have that much in common.

      2. DCR*

        Yeah, I had the same response that the invites didn’t seem weird. If I’m trying to become friends with new people, I invite them to stuff I’m doing with existing friends like a party or game night or Friendsgiving. I find it easier and less weird to spend time with new people at group events then to hang out one on one. I’m not sure why that part is weird

        1. Bekx*

          It’s hard to explain. It just felt off. Like we had only hung out with them once and it was fine but we didn’t exactly click or become super good friends in one night of drinks. Then they are suddenly inviting us to multiple things in quick succession. It just felt aggressive.

          1. Someone Else*

            FWIW, before the end of your first paragraph I guessed this was going to end up being some sort of religious recruitment.

    4. Temperance*

      Before I got to the part about the cult, I was going to assume that they were trying to fellowship you, lol. This is the kind of thing that the church I attended as a kid/teen encouraged us to do. Basically, people who were looking for friends/contacts/are new in a city are easier to bring into the fold. Sad though.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      Wild! I once had a borderline-cultish religious group try to recruit me. I say borderline because there wasn’t the communal-living or coercive shunning aspects, but they were theologically extreme, socially silo’ed, and recruited in a covert/manipulative way.

      I was wary of the initial approach because it did seem abnormal from the get-go, but I was young, single, & footloose at the time and basically was just curious to find out what was going on.

      Mine just turned out to be a rather dull party with people nervously trying to steer the conversation into scripted channels.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about meeting other new people. It sounds like you have a very good sense of judgment and know what sorts of things you are & are not comfortable with. You pegged the situation right away as strange, and had no trouble extricating yourself. I think you are a low-risk “target.”

      It sounded pretty normal until you got to the gal going to sleep and the odd whispered interventions.

      Best of luck as you acquire a new social circle!

    6. Meh*

      Wow! Add a few explosions and you’ve got the plot of a thriller right there. But glad you saw through them. Trusting your gut is always a good move. And as the saying goes, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you!”

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Oh Jeez! How weird.
      My husband always swears by finding new friends by going to the local pub or bar. I mean, sometimes that can take finding the right place though.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      When you said “There were some odd things at this party…” and elaborated, I got suspicious, and then when you said “she immediately invited me to a white elephant exchange at her Bible study” I thought it was going to be uber-religious people, but not an actual cult! 0_0

      I think I just found what it is and now I’m going to read about it–weird religious psychology fascinates me. I mean, I live in the general area where the megachurch pastor said yoga was full of demons (that one’s a church, not a cult, but come on). Also this is so strange because we were just talking about that today.

      So glad you didn’t get sucked in!

      1. Look Out Below*

        I’m totally going to tell my roommate who loves yoga that it is full of demons. That will give her a laugh!

      2. Maggie*

        If you want a good time there is “Christian yoga” – poses are renamed and you’re supposed to focus on scripture during the poses. Like corpse pose is called sleeping pose.

    9. Common Welsh Green*

      When you have a free night, you might enjoy the 1999 movie Arlington Road with Tim Robbins and Jeff Bridges. Part of the action may seem awfully familiar to you!

    10. Anonno*

      I had a similar experience with an organization reputed to be a cult recently. They seemed to be targeting people in their teens and early twenties who were involved in certain subcultures. It was similar in that at face value, things were close to normal, but something felt off, a lot of little things were weird, and I just got a creepy vibe from them. This one is not Christian; they’re affiliated with a different religious category. So it’s not the same group.

      But it got me thinking. Growing up, I had some relatives who were in a cult-ish group. We visited them at their headquarters multiple times. A relative of my generation is now involved in another cult-ish group. It’s as if cult membership runs in families and people pick up on that when trying to recruit people? Maybe not, but it made me wonder, like people could sense that my relative and I were around a cult-ish group while growing up.

  19. Mercurial*

    I could really use some book recommendations. I am a massive fan of Sir Terry of Pratchett and really really miss his books :( That blend of humour, characters and storyline I have not really found anywhere else yet! (I do like Douglas Adams and Tom Holt but Sir T reigns. Anyone recommend anything similar? Thanks!

    1. misspiggy*

      I love the Rivers of London books, which I found out about on this very site. Not as fantastical or silly as Sir Terry, but still fantasy of a kind, humorous and very satisfying.

      1. Buzzbattlecat*

        YES! Sir Terry is my first love too, but I adore the Rivers of London series.
        The Author, Ben Aaronovich, gives lots of little tributes and subtle references throughout the books, and a lovely dedication at the start of Foxglove Summer.

    2. Milvus milvus*

      Ursula Vernon (writes as T Kingfisher) has a similar blend of whimsical, realistic and kind, although a bit lighter on the humour.

    3. sourgold*

      It’s not the same kind of humour as PTerry, but Connie Willis’ comedies are wonderful. Check out To Say Nothing of the Dog for time travel/screwball comedy in the 19th century shenanigans, or Bellwether for chaos theory and 90s nostalgia! (And, now that I think of it, an amazing portayal of a deeply dysfunctional workplace … )

      (Do not, however, read Passage or Doomsday Book if you want a fun read. They’re fantastic books, but very heavy and occasionally tragic ones.)

    4. Penguin*

      Seconding Ursula Vernon’s books! Seanan McGuire creates a similar atmosphere with her own unique twists. John Scalzi (whose humor includes a heavy dose of snark which I love but may not be for everyone) is also excellent. And if you enjoy irony and puns, try Spider Robinson.

      1. SignalLost*

        I just INHALED the October Daye series (as in, 12 books in 12 days). I liked the first couple of InCryptid books but dropped the series, and Every Heart A Doorway did zippity-doo-dah for me, so I was surprised at how much I liked the Daye books. But also kind of dumb, because I bought the first one (the libraries were Not Convenient) so I guess it’s good I liked them.

    5. bkanon*

      Jodi Taylor’s series, The Chronicles of St Marys, is in the same vein. Humor, great characters. They are based around an academic institution that observes historical events from a first-hand perspective. (Don’t call it time-travel! they say.) 9 books plus several short stories, and they are quick reads.

    6. Aealias*

      No-one is LIKE Pritchett, and those who try and fail kind of hurt me.

      I enjoy Stuart McLean in a similar way – kind approach to humanity’s foibles, very funny and quite poignant by turns. They are short stories and not fantasy, but you might like them.

      If you’re a big fan of early, madcap Pratchett, you might enjoy Alexei Panshin’s comic work. It’s full of in-text asides and reads like there might have been drugs involved, but the writing has a similar breezy, silly fun quality.

      1. Mercurial*

        You speak truth there. I’m glad no one is carrying it on. Wouldn’t be the same. Thank you for those!

    7. Ranon*

      Beforelife, Randal Graham – it reminds me of the Truth/ Making Money Pratchetts

      Strange Practice, Vivian Shaw- if you miss the Igors.

      And a strong second for Jasper Fford and John Scalzi.

      1. Mercurial*

        Lovely, thank you! Jasper Fforde definitely getting some weight, he’s come up several times…

    8. ETop*

      Meme by Jack Cusick
      Christopher Moore (just about anything, but I like his earlier stuff better…man, I should like a hipster)

    9. All Stitched Up*

      I second Jasper Fforde for “most similar to Terry Pratchett” author I’ve come across. The Thursday Next series is especially great for literature nerds.

    10. Lilysparrow*

      You might try the Portugese Irregular Verbs series by McCall Smith. It is much less cozy and much more wacky than his mystery series.

    11. MissDisplaced*

      I enjoyed a series called The Invisible Library, and also one called The Derring-Do Club, both had a good humor to the fantasy. I also second the Chronicles of St. Mary’s series.
      If you like more of a humor-Scifi, you might like the Date Night on Union Station (EarthCent Ambassador series).

    12. Jaded*

      Jonathon Stroud – esp the Bartimeaus books – ftw!

      Also, Jasper Fforde’s Road to High Saffron is *amazing*.

      1. Annie Moose*

        I was just thinking of the Bartimaeus books! Very different kind of book (younger audience and it’s more “the adventures of this one guy over a relatively short period of time” than Discworld’s expansive world and time period) but also very funny and snarky with lots of footnotes.

        1. Radical Edward*

          Yes! Bartimaeus! I loved all of those, they were different and really fun to read. I came here to second Christopher Moore, though – if you look him up, I recommend starting with Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. It made me laugh harder than anything else not by Sir Terry ever has. It still makes me laugh, just thinking about my favourite parts. Then for a post-Christmas treat you can move on to The Stupidest Angel.

          If Biblical comedy is not your cup of tea, then try Fool – it’s equally funny, and Shakespeare-inspired.

          The only other times I have laughed that hard while reading were at certain parts of Aubrey & Maturin novels.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m going to assume you know Neil Gaiman since they collaborated.
      Humorous sf&f… Try Janet Kagan “Mirabile”. Connie Willis “To Say Nothing of the Dog”. “The Dragon & the George”… Gordon R. Dickson.
      The first of the Piers Anthony Xanth books was worth reading.
      John Morissey’s “Kedrigan” stories, although I don’t know if they’re collected.
      Fritz Lieber “Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser”– not as much humor but similarly satisfying.
      Robert Lyn Asprin “Theives World.”
      If you want to go darker. I’m a huge Garth Nix fan–start with Sabriel.
      Seconding the Eyre Affaire.
      Adding The Last Dragonslayer, also by Jasper Fforde.

    14. dawbs*

      You might try Robert Rankin.
      I don’t adore everything he’s written, but I would say start with my fave, “hollow chocolate bunnies of the apocalypse” (and it’s sequel “the toyminator”

    15. Jen Erik*

      Just adding in P.G. Wodehouse – he makes language dance the way Sir Terry does. Also I’ve a collection of some of Jerome K Jerome’s articles that I downloaded for free – they aren’t stories, but he has that sense of fun. (And if you’re in the UK – because you’ve put the ‘u’ in humour – I think John Finnemore’s Double Acts on Radio 4 are a bit brilliant: they aren’t books, but he does get the humour, character and storyline crammed in to half an hour.)

      But mostly I agree with Aealias – no-one else is Pratchett.

      1. Mercurial*

        Yeah, I’m actually about 20 miles from where he lived! No one is the same, you’re right. But hoping for some good reads all the same :)

    16. Maggie*

      The guy who did codex Alera (literally he was challenged to write about Pokémon + lost Roman legion) and the Dresden files (kind of noir magic series?). A series of unfortunate events also has that dry kind of witty humor, but is def for kids technically. I still found it riveting – it’s a gothic mystery with wit.

  20. Ops manager*

    How does everyone deal with people in your life (coworkers and friends/family) who endlessly diet talk?

    It seems to be the topic these days in my circles and just grates on me. I don’t have an eating disorder or any reason to not want to hear it, it’s just annoying. The diets my people are on I also think are not healthy in my opinion (think juice cleanses). Whenever I go out to dinner with friends it ends up being about what they eat/how the diet is going, and I sit around people at work and it’s also a daily conversation.

    Maybe I don’t have a lot of sympathy because I’ve never had a weight problem, but it turns into like, you eat carbs, carbs are bad. I try to just give my opinion on it quickly and move on. I’m also 30, and I think some people’s metabolism/eating habits catch up with them at this age.

    1. Reba*

      It is such a thing! Whole 30 can jump in a hole!

      I guess I either A) ignore, reminding myself everyone needs hobbies; B) participate in the food conversations in my own way by talking about things I make or new cuisines I’ve tried. I love food and talking about food, but as like, a cultural and sensory thing, not as a series of nutritional components; C) least successful option, try to take the opportunity to correct people’s misconceptions about vegetarianism (my diet) (Beef is not the only source of protein my dudes!).

      1. Rebecca*

        I admit I was intrigued by the Whole 30 concept. My friend who let me stay with her while I was getting divorced did this several times, and she did lose weight. She listened to videos given by the leader of the group, and I overheard things like food items being poisons to your system, and other things like that. I’m not in the camp of “foods are poison” but more “don’t eat a ton of sugar but a reasonable amount is OK”. Insert carbs, dairy, etc. UNLESS of course, you have true food allergies or sensitivities, then you need to do what’s necessary. I just felt like the leader was a little militant in her food descriptions, so decided it’s not for me.

        On the larger discussion, I’m overweight, I always have been, and I do eat a healthy diet and get exercise, but I’m never going to be thin. Long ago I started telling people “thanks, but no thanks” when they talk diet plans.

        1. Reba*

          Yeah, I find that lots of diet talk is emotionally wearing, even though I am happy with my body and health on the whole. And I agree with you that diet talk in general, and especially demonizing certain foods or insisting on certain methods/exercises/whatever can be really insensitive.

          Bodies are not problems to be solved! I really really hope that better science about weight and health trickles down into the general populace sometime.

          I mean, if Whole 30 or whatever works for somebody, I’m happy for them! I just feel like I’m surrounded by constant chatter about it right now (I think the New Year is driving some of this at the moment).

    2. alex b*

      UGH I have to tune out or excuse myself and leave when people are talking about food/diets. Your history with weight/eating notwithstanding, it’s tiresome and useless. Like you, I encounter these conversations constantly, and it makes me misanthropic AF. I have no idea why people enjoy bonding over dietary choices.
      All you can do is try to introduce new things to talk about; if they don’t go for it, then you’re the odd one out and probably just have to extract yourself. I’d way rather be alone than around food-intake talk. And, surely there are other annoyed individuals who don’t want to be subject to that, so maybe try to connect with them!

    3. sourgold*

      Honestly, I do think that incessant diet talk to the exclusion of everything else can be a sign of disordered eating, or at least of a very unhealthy obsession with food. (I say this as someone who’s still in recovery from an eating disorder. I was once that girl who would chatter endlessly about her no-carb diet.)

      Today, whenever someone goes off on that tangent, I am verrrry quick to shut it down. Some arguments: diets are unhealthy, do not work 90% of the time, and can often cause people to gain weight, when they don’t develop eating disorders. They encourage a negative and derogatory view of eating, villainize entire categories of food, and work on the basis of trendy tangents (whole30, keto, paleo, juice cleanses, 2/5 fasting … they’re all fass, peddled by self-made gurus who just want to make big bucks) rather than on a scientific and well-reasoned understanding of how our bodies process food. And they inevitably, when discussed at length in social occasions, lead to ostracism, fat-shaming, and food-shaming.

      It’s all bullshit.

      1. Little bean*

        Ugh agreed. My brother in law is on a different new diet every other month and loves to talk about it. Every gathering he talks about what he can and can’t eat, sometimes gets really picky about which restaurant we go to, or even brings his own foods. No advice to give, I usually just make noncommittal noises and change the subject as soon as is polite.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        I am trying to figure this out with my mom. She has been on a diet as long as I can remember. My husband and I visited her over Christmas and wanted to take her out to eat, but she didn’t want to go because you know, calories.

        Every time I talk to her, she brings up her diet and her weight loss (or gain).

        I don’t want to hear it. I fight with my own weight and don’t need to hear about hers. (Hmmm. Could there be a connection?)

        What I have learned from her is that nobody wants to hear about it. I never talk about it. Ever. (Except in this post because it’s part of the story.)

        What I want to tell her is she is loved and loveable at any weight. And that she does not need to diet. And that I don’t want to hear about her diet. And I just want her to enjoy her life.

        I am trying to figure out if I would feel differently about it if she actually needed to lose weight, but she doesn’t. She looks like your average 75-year-old Midwestern lady – gray perm, glasses, elastic-waist pants, and a little bit plump.

      3. The Other Dawn*

        I hate hearing people talk so much about the newest diets. I don’t come across a ton of it, but I do hear it sometimes. Mostly from my best friend. Like me, she’s had weight problems her whole life. While I finally got sick of the diet roller coaster and went with gastric bypass, she still jumps on every new diet that comes along. I get it–she decided that weight loss surgery isn’t for her and I have no problem with that. Also, it’s hard having a weight problem and every new diet promises fantastic results! no effort! eat whatever you want! But it also frustrates me because I just want to yell “there’s no magic effing bullet! You need to cut calories, eat better, and move.” I have told her that before in a more gentle way, but I definitely get tired of hearing about it. I actually don’t talk to her or anyone else about diet and weight loss unless they ask me. I don’t actually want to talk about it either!

    4. Parenthetically*

      “you eat carbs, carbs are bad”

      “I just eat what I feel like eating, but I don’t like talking about it. Can we seriously talk about anything else besides diets? Seen any good movies/TV shows lately?”

      I think with your friends you can also have a bigger conversation, like, “Hey, I hate how obsessed our culture is with dieting and weight and food-righteousness and carb-policing and Whole 30 and keto and whatever else. PLUS I have a bunch of coworkers who cannot shut up about what they’re eating or not eating. I really need a break from it while we’re hanging out, and I also want you to know that your value isn’t in how ‘clean’ your diet is, whatever TF that means, or how small the space you take up or how well you ‘meet your goals,’ or whatever. I just want to get through an evening with friends without a bunch of conversation implying that what we eat or don’t eat makes us good or bad people.”

    5. All Stitched Up*

      Captain Awkward has some great scripts for shutting down diet talk. I also get really ticked off about it despite not having a “real reason” to be—I think being a person who is empathetic and/or cares about facts is enough, tbh! One of my go-to’s is “I try to stay away from value judgments about food” + TOPIC CHANGE. Or, if I’m feeling brave/have the wherewithal to get into how systemic bias works, I might say something like, “funny story, it turns out most of the health outcomes associated with being “overweight”* may actually be caused by the stress of being ostracized by society for looking “wrong”,” or “in general, weight loss diets don’t improve health outcomes, but reducing stigma about size does,” or “people who are considered overweight face a lot of discrimination and I think glorifying weight loss makes that worse.”

      *Air quotes necessary, IMO. BMI is a) made up with no basis in science, b) meant to be a population measure, not applied to individuals, and c) has like three different mutually exclusive ways to calculate it, so… it’s pretty useless.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      I wouldn’t say I have a lot people in my life that talk about diet, but when I do encounter it I just listen a bit and maybe make a few comments in agreement: “Ugh, I know, it’s so hard!” or whatever. If it’s someone who is always talking about the next best diet (read: fad), then I will sometimes ask questions about the diet, how does it work, why is better than all the other ones, what’s different about it, do you feel like you can sustain this, etc. Obviously I wouldn’t do that with just anyone, typically just a friend or family member.

      “You eat carbs, carbs are bad.” I have a friend who has a degree in physical fitness and nutrition. She eats pretty healthy, works out, etc. and leads a pretty healthy lifestyle overall. She never really had any weight issues, maybe 10 or so pounds over her ideal weight. I am formerly morbidly obese and had weight loss surgery five years ago, so leading a healthy lifestyle is still somewhat new to me even though it’s actually been a few years. She likes to ask me what I do as far as a diet plan. (She doesn’t push advice or anything like that. She just likes talking nutrition.) I tell her that I try to go with high protein, low carbs, where carbs mainly come from vegetables. Last time I talked to her she asked, “So, gluten! What’s up with that, huh?! What are your thoughts about that?” I had no idea what to say. It’s not as if I’ve ever given a single thought to gluten, since I don’t have Celiac or anything like that. I just kind of skipped right over her question. It seems like she thinks I have all these special insights into nutrition because I had weight loss surgery. I’ve encountered that a few times from people, now that I think about it.

      1. Jaz*

        “So, gluten! What’s up with that, huh?!”

        This made me laugh out loud. I actually have celiac disease and field a lot of questions about it, but I’ve never heard quite such an unusual opener…

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I know! It was so weird. Like, “Gluten, amirite?!” I guess she wanted to have a deep conversation about evil gluten, whereas I kind of just eat my food and don’t think about it. There’s no deep thought going into it most of the time!

      2. TryingToReadHere*

        My mom is constantly trying various weight loss and diet things (with little or very temporary results), so I do the “how does it work, why is better than all the other ones, what’s different about it, do you feel like you can sustain this, etc.” discussion with her to see if there’s a reason to try to talk her out of it or to encourage her to research it more before buying/doing it.

        With everyone else I just do vague comments of encouragement or commiseration. Just don’t want to get involved.

    7. t.i.a.s.p.*

      My husband does this. We are both very overweight (I would be considered morbidly obese and he might be as well). He talks A LOT about what diets people are on and how much weight they’ve lost etc. I HATE IT. I have NEVER given any indication that I in anyway ever want to talk about anyone’s diet.

      He started a diet a couple months ago and stuck with it pretty strictly for a month and a half and lost about 40 pounds. Fell off over the holidays and now seems to be going back on. But MY GOD he brought it up with EVERYONE. He couldn’t say two sentences without bringing up – I’m on this diet. I’ve been on it this long. I’ve lost this amount of weight. BAH! I mean, good for him to have lost weight, that’s fantastic and I’m glad for him, but I don’t want to hear about it, and I can’t imagine that every single person we know all wanted to hear about it either.

      I’ve read enough stuff that I know that (1) there’s nothing magical about this diet – any diet he had chosen AND STUCK WITH would be working about the same and (2) long term, most dieting FAILS. I mean, I hope he can keep the weight off for his health, but the odds are against it. And besides all this, the diet he has chosen has him eating a lot of foods that are just plain expensive where we live. He started it when he was away working so he had his own fridge and his own food supply. It was a little pricey. But guess what when you come home and now your multiple teenagers are sharing the food, we can’t afford to keep that stuff in stock.

    8. MatKnifeNinja*

      I have a sib who can’t not comment on food.

      Everything, I mean EVERYTHING is fatty, carby, gross, unhealthy. Evey single restaurant is salty, fatty, carby, unhealthy and promotes death.

      The only thing I haven’t heard him say was gross, fatty, salty, and death inducing is broccoli, cauliflower, and peas. But he puts butter on thoses l…

      His diet isn’t tree bark and berries. He eats lots of crap.

      I don’t care what he does diet wise. I think now those statements have become rote. It is so off putting. All food =fatty, carby, salty, gross.

      This past week I finally snap, and asked “What foods make you happy? I’m tired of hearing how all foods suck.”

      Dieting conversations are BORING.

    9. Jaz*

      I’m sort of lucky in that I’m an anorexic in recovery who has no qualms talking about it when I feel it’s necessary. That means I can cheerfully say, “Diet Talk is against my doctor’s orders! Can we change the subject for a while? Did you hear about (NASA news, recent current event, etc.)?”

      I do try to be sensitive to the group; if it looks like most people in the group are enjoying the conversation, I try to start an aside with whoever looks uninterested, or just leave. But often I see other people looking bored/uncomfortable, even if they’re joining in—maybe because talking about the diet you’re on has become a way to prove your morality in our weird food culture. In those cases, I don’t mind being the weirdo if it means we can move on already.

    10. The Rat Catcher*

      This is really relevant at my workplace too, and I think it’s how we’ve been socialized, unfortunately. “Overweight” people feel compelled to offer their diet as an atonement for the crime of Not Being Skinny; those of “normal” weight (I hate all of these words which is why they are in quotes) do the same because they feel compelled to prove that they are Not Just Naturally Like This, which is somehow also a bad thing. It’s absurd and I just try to change the subject after a minute or two.

  21. Bekx*

    We’re going to Bed Bath and Beyond today to do our wedding registry!

    We going to ask for the staples (bedding, kitchen aid, fancy trash can, cookware) but anything else you’d recommend that we might not think of? Anything you didn’t register for but got and it was amazing?

    We’re also doing crate and barrel later this month.

    1. Reba*

      Congratulations! Only put things you’re actually interested in–take a MariKondo attitude and ask “would I be really excited to receive this thing?” Don’t put something just because it “should” be on there — or because you get a little scanner-gun-happy in BBB ;)

      OTOH, some boring items that I use all the time, wooden spoons for example, I do really enjoy and feel grateful to the giver for! And there is that registry-completion discount.

      Depending on how you cook, opt for the open-stock cookware of pieces you’ll definitely use, over a big set.

      Man, I remember the registry being so stressful for me! Ah! Quite a few of our folks went “off script,” but the gifts were beautiful. My sib registered for furniture (they were moving back from overseas and owned nothing) but indicated gift cards welcome — it was nice that people could see what the gift card would go toward.

    2. Afraid of reporting sexual harassment*

      Do you have pets? Even if you don’t, register for a Bissell Little Green Machine! Lots of different models and they will get ANY stains out of your carpet. It will change your life, I promise!

    3. CAA*

      Put some inexpensive things on your list in addition to the big ticket items, especially if you have friends who might not be able to spend a lot on gifts but will still want to get you something. You can ask for newer or nicer versions of kitchen tools you already have … garlic press, wooden spoons, can opener, pot holders, dish towels, dish rack, mixing bowls.

      1. bkanon*

        Oh yes please. I inevitably end up giving candlesticks because I just can’t afford bigger presents. Small things on a list would be a big help and let me feel more like I’m giving something that’s actually wanted.

      2. ECHM*

        We get more compliments on the double decker dish drainer one of our guests got us. I just looked on BBB’s website and found it called the Home Basics® 2-Tier Dish Drainer.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        We had a keyrack/mail sorter on ours, and I used it for 29 years…would have been using it still if I hadnt gotten damaged in a recent move.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If you celebrate any holidays that involve decorations, getting people to buy you ornaments or stockings or whatever can be a good gift. That also leaves room for creativity and different price points.

      We got an ice tea maker which I didn’t register for but I like it. If you are into coffee or tea, a French press is useful – can do tea or make cold brew coffee.

      Those are two off the beaten path suggestions that come to mind.

    5. Bekx*

      Thanks everyone for the suggestions!

      We will definitely have some small things on the list, I’ve been there when shopping. We have a lot of people who will probably do group gifts based on previous weddings, so that’s why we’re putting a few big ticket items on there as well.

    6. cat socks*

      When we moved into a new house, I bought some good quality shelf liner to protect the cabinets.

      Glass storage containers
      Good knives
      Kitchen towels
      Corel – I like that they don’t chip
      Breiville toaster oven

    7. Lcsa99*

      We are dorks, but we had a lot of fun with that scanner gun.

      The things we added that we still love:
      Nice wine rack
      Ice cream maker (can’t tell you how much we love it)
      Really good towels – the expensive, super absorbent, super soft ones that you just can’t justify spending the money on yourself.

      If you add dishes and glassware and silverware and stuff like that, I also recommend printing out a copy and putting it away somewhere safe. We did that and it was soooo helpful when we wanted to replace stuff that had broken or got lost. Stuff like that is discontinued all the time but we found a site that has all sorts of pieces like that and with the print out we had the info we needed to get the matching pieces.

    8. Aphrodite*

      Don’t get caught up in a wedding fantasy where you think that silver-plated cake servers and engraved champagne glasses (and other such nonsense) will be used much. Go for practical. One of those items might be something I use, and that’s the thin white washcloths that come seven or fourteen to a pack for a very reasonable cost. I keep a lot of these for people to use to dry their hands after washing. One use and they are dropped in a trash can reserved for that use only. They take up so little room in the washer that you can have a lot in each bathroom. They prevent people from using your bath towels and are more eco-friendly than paper towels.

    9. Llellayena*

      Speaking as someone who has only purchased from other people’s lists, I love seeing games and hobby items on the lists. It’s nice to have options which show personality and interests more than just dishes and silverware.

      1. The lurker awakes*

        Lurker here. We registered at Big Department Store… and Home Depot. My husband took SO much flack for me registering for a router… but really, I was seriously into This Old House & cabinetry!

      2. Le Sigh*

        My spouse and I registered for (and got) a few great board games and a wireless bluetooth speaker we use when we throw parties (especially cookouts). Also second the tools thing. My dad often does this for people when he attends weddings and people seem to really appreciate it. And I don’t have a lot of space to store tools but the power drill I got has been a pretty helpful addition to my tool box.

        If you like coffee, a good grinder would be a great registry item. I also love my glass pyrex mixing bowls, which come with lids and aren’t super pricey. Great for baking and breakfast prep.

      3. Le Sigh*

        Also, something that I thought was a fun idea (but I didn’t end up doing): a local art gallery had a registry where people could contribute toward a specific piece(s). I don’t quite remember the logistics of how it worked, but — especially if you feel like you have enough household stuff — I think it’s a cool idea.

      4. Radical Edward*

        Yep, agreed (as another frequent purchaser). These days many of my friends/cousins getting married already have most of their necessary household stuff, as they already live in their own places and inherited a lot from their relatives. Most of them actually find themselves getting rid of duplicates when they move in together or get a house. So we’ve gotten used to seeing a lot of DVDs and video games, board games and the like on registries, which can be more fun to buy (I personally love buying towels, tools, and dishes a bit TOO much, but a lot of people I know find it hard to fully relinquish that urge to buy/give something more ‘exciting’). One of my friends and their fiance basically left a wish list at their local comics shop and told us all to go there or call them up and buy something on the list. Some people laughed or rolled their eyes, but everyone did it and the price range was good for all our wallets! I thought it was a genius move as I am an avid book-collector who always has to put off buying books in favor of more necessary things.

        The other thing my friends have done in the past is pick a large piece of new furniture, like a king-sized bed, dining table, or a new mattress, and ask for contributions towards that. It’s something they know they will need and it helps them to afford a better quality thing than they otherwise would be able to buy.

        FWIW, any time I move to a new place the first thing I realize I need (and don’t have) is a fully-stocked toolbox. Including the super tiny screwdriver set for electronics. :)

    10. Extra Vitamins*

      Dish towels are a good inexpensive item. Also, I have the bamboo utensil set (spatula, etc) from Crate and Barrel and use it All The Time. For off-registry item that have worked our well:
      Small wooden wine rack
      Marble countertop paper towel holder
      LED nightlights
      Gardening stuff (trowel, gloves, my friend gave me dirt for my wedding haha)

      1. Le Sigh*

        Oooh, yes, I have the lodge dutch oven! Half the price of Le Creuset and works so well and looks so nice. I also have the Lodge cast iron griddle, which is great on a gas stove.

    11. AVP*

      a Dutch oven and a braising dish – super useful if you like to cook and expensive enough that you might not buy on your own.

      My favorite-favorite gift turned out to be a new set of flatware – it feels so grownup to have a full matching set that we like, instead of a mishmash of various Ikea sets from unknown origins! We also got a wine fridge which I hadn’t registered for but it was a great idea.

      And I wish I had resisted for a decent vacuum cleaner.

    12. Jaz*

      I love my knife sharpener and immersion blender.

      My husband and I also registered for a galaxy projector nightlight and some yarn and board games. Our friends seemed to enjoy seeing options that reflected our personalities.

    13. Loopy*

      You’ve probably gone by now but in case you can still tweak things, I just had my shower and have everything coming in now, so from my perspective:

      Things I will use immediately/often are super exciting. I got a ton of kitchen gadgets that open up a whole new world to me like an instant pot, air fryer, spiralizer, tofu press, etc.

      Things that make a house feel more like home but are also useful. An aunt got us glasses that have his hometown (where we live now) and my family’s home town where I grew up. It feels sentimental but also useful because everyone uses glasses.

      Organize-y things. I just watched a single episode of Marie Kondo and want to tear my whole house apart. I have a tea organizer coming and it’s going to change at lease ONE shelf in my kitchen to start :P

      Things for outside: I got a wreath with our new initial, and a garden flag because I know it’ll make me smile pulling up each day. They are small things but definitely will be seen every day.

    14. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      +1 on really good knives.

      Dinnerware: Just my experience, but I never used my Noritake china. I did get – and use 25 years later (mixing in new colors) my Fiestaware.

      Good stainless: For years, I “kept for good” the really heavy stainless I registered for (I also have grandma’s silver)… and finally just started using it every day. Life is too short. I love it. Wish I had started out using it.

      small – OXO makes a kitchen drain / strainer to fit over a garbage disposal. Silicone with metal rim. You can throw it in the dishwasher to sterilize it, it lets most food particles into the garbage disposal but (key item) – it keeps out the silverware so you aren’t accidentally grinding the edges of spoons etc.

      Super good mattress pad with protection (ie, waterproof, but the kind that doesn’t crackle). You won’t know it’s there… but when the dog got really sick one night, I was so grateful the pad was between her and the expensive mattress. I throw a lesser one over it for more padding.

      +1 on the high quality towels. Finally wearing out the last of the premium ones we got 25 years ago. (and I’m serging the fraying edges and moving them to the dog towel stack). Life changing.

      Cast iron skillet(s) in addition to that dutch oven. Other than my scanpans, the cast iron has been my most dependable and beloved item. Nothing browns and sears like cast iron. (I have a griddle, too, but bought that separately).

      GOOD toaster. (You may not have time to check consumer reports… but maybe the amazon reviews… after the first 15 years, I bought a good one and wish I’d started with it).

      Depending upon your baking/ cooking skills and interests: Airbake cookie sheets, or silicone mats, or … upgrade your college items.

      For family members who were on a fixed budget, I actually just asked them to give me their recommended family favorite recipes on recipe cards… so I got a recipe box. (Scanning them in now, but for a physical shower, and some family members, a paper copy is where you start).

      Have fun… but think about whether you will actually use it. I had been single for quite a while so I used the opportunity to upgrade things I knew I used, to ones I’d use forever. Still using most of them.

    15. Carbovore*

      Things I got and still use to this day (I got married 4 years ago):

      – Dishes and glasses
      – a humidifier
      – a nice throw for the couch
      – set of wooden folding tv trays
      – a mattress topper

      And there were more things I can’t remember at the moment. What was helpful was that my husband and I had lived together for many years before marrying so we had most staples–it was nice to think of the “random” things we wouldn’t bother to buy ourselves but wanted nonetheless.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you’re asking for a good knife, consider a diamond stone sharpener– the flat professional kind, not the angled monstrositis hawked in the 70s & 80s.

    17. Snow Drift*

      Put anything you might want to buy on there, even if it’s more expensive than what a guest would pay. After the wedding, the store will let you buy leftover list items at a discount.

      If you’re not comfortable doing that because you’re worried what guests might think, wait on the big ticket stuff and add it right before the wedding. People will probably have stopped checking by then.

    18. MsChanandlerBong*

      The best inexpensive gift we got, and one of the few I still use, was a set of flexible chopping mats. I love them! I think they came four to a pack, so if I cut something on one, I don’t have to stop and wash it–I can just cut the next thing on a fresh mat. And they are flexible, so it’s easy to chop veggies and then make a little funnel with the mat to guide them right into the pot/pan without spilling anything. The KitchenAid mixer is definitely the best extravagant gift we got. I use it once a week, and more often around holidays.

    19. Autumnheart*

      Best sheets EVER and only BBBY sells them. They might seem expensive, but they are very long-wearing as long as you launder them properly. I’ve had a set for about 14 years and one that’s getting to about 8-9 years and they’re in very good shape. The trick is to wash on cold/delicate and dry on low. If you wash in hot and dry on high like you would with cotton sheets, it breaks down the fibers very quickly and the sheets develop tears and worn spots.

      They get softer with every wash, they’re like sleeping in a cloud. Warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They don’t pill. They do wrinkle kind of easily, and the fitted sheets tend to ride up on the mattress, but man, every other sheet feels like sandpaper compared to these. You will not be sorry.

  22. EmilyG*

    Since everyone was so kind and cheered me up last week, I wanted to report on the “family organized their holiday outing without me” situation. My oldest cousin seemed to realize what was going on and emailed the morning of the event to suggest that we all get brunch together later (on a date I can’t make, but I guess we’ll do it eventually). I did reiterate to my mother that I was upset by the whole thing and she fell back on the excuses of “but you could have gotten a ticket on Stubhub if you cared that much!” and “it wasn’t that fun anyway.” So I’m not sure we learned or resolved anything there.

    The family backstory is that I am the only family member between the ages of 25 and 65 (I’m in my 40s), and I’m definitely a natural organizer, so I am (surprise) the person who usually organizes things. I could decide not to do so, but I think that would primarily disappoint the oldest family members who weren’t involved in this particular mess.

    Working over the holidays was definitely an added stress that I didn’t need. It’s been a not-great year at a job that I feel pretty locked into due to salary/location/etc. Reading everyone’s comments made me think about the self-care things I was/wasn’t doing or that aren’t that effective. I’m good at exercise, sleep, even getting massages. What I haven’t been great at is spending time with friends (not family members!) and thereby forcing myself to think about things other than work. If I go running after work, I just end up ruminating about it and not leaving it behind, so it sounds healthy (and is in some ways, obviously) but doesn’t actually seem to contribute to reducing stress. Whereas in the past week I’ve been out with friends a few evenings and quickly felt like “those jerks in the office? who?”

    I guess I’m getting pretty far from the original problem, but what I’m realizing is that I fell back on family and childhood friends when I moved to this city a few years ago and never really made the kind of “meet most every week to blow off steam” friends I had in the previous place I lived. The amount better I feel, compared to last week, makes me think this is what to work on so that I don’t get into a state where I can’t let my family being temporarily inconsiderate roll off my back.

    1. Reba*

      “it wasn’t that fun anyway”

      The point, you have missed it. It’s in another state by now.

      I’m glad that the reflection prompted by the situation is doing something good for you.

    2. Tassie Tiger*

      “The amount better I feel, compared to last week, makes me think this is what to work on so that I don’t get into a state where I can’t let my family being temporarily inconsiderate roll off my back.”

      Great reflection and insight!!!

  23. Helpful*

    Any tips on buying a cheap used road bike for a total beginner? How can I be sure it’s a good fit? New cyclist is a woman who wants to try it out so doesn’t want to spend a grand. Budget is $~3-400. Would local bike shops even care?

    1. Alice*

      Yes, a good one will. I loved my first bike shop so much. The first time I went in, they said “we won’t sell you a bike until we see if we can repair what you’ve got.” They repaired my beater and kept it going for two years, and eventually brokered a deal between me and another customer at a very fair price.
      I’ve never found anywhere else quite as good but that was a high bar. Try your local bike shops, ask questions, and make sure you try the bike, not just around the parking lot.

    2. LCL*

      Post on your local subreddit asking about welcoming shops for new cyclists.

      Bike fitting is it’s own internet rabbit hole. Start with Sheldon Brown’s article on saddles and go from there. If you knew your friend’s height that is a starting point.

    3. Ranon*

      My local bike shop spent probably an hour or two of employee time with me all told when I was dipping my toes into buying a bike- talked me through all the options and what the pros and cons might be (this was good to get from two different folks as everyone had their own opinions), let me test ride several bikes for decent lengths of time including having me test a few they were pretty sure I wouldn’t like just so I could see for myself. They’re delightful for maintenance, too- that’s the benefit of buying from somewhere that treats you well in the shopping process, they’ll likely be good later on too.

      1. Natalie*

        I wouldn’t if you’re inexperienced. It takes a fair bit of knowledge of bike back catalogues to know what you’re buying and whether or not it’s a reasonable price. You also want to scrutinize the bike for evidence that it’s been in a crash, which often causes enough structural damage that the bike is no longer safe.

    4. Sparrow*

      I found a bike shop in my city that refurbishes and sells used bikes, and had a very good experience with them. I was able to try out several in their parking lot and they gave me advice about fit, adjustments, and buying a good lock. I was deciding between two, and went with the lighter and more expensive one, which cost $500 including a good-quality lock and helmet, but they had several options in the $300-$400 range and a few true beaters that were even cheaper.
      If you can’t find a bike shop in your area that sells used bikes, you could try Craigslist or FB marketplace. It’s hit and miss but you might get lucky. For fit, look online to find frame sizes that match the rider’s height. When sitting on the seat with the pedal as far down as it can go, the knee should be just barely bent. Remember that you can adjust the seat and often the handlebars. However, there’s a lot of variation that affects fit that’s hard to measure, so the most important part is how comfortable you feel on it. Good luck!

      1. Gerald*

        There was a thread earlier this year about bikes and a lot of responses said just this : start looking at used bike shops. If your area doesn’t have one, I’d suggest you go to a bike shop and ask about used bikes, although in thinking about it $3-400 might be enough to at least ask about new bikes. A well run shop will be honest – I told them what I wanted, and my budget, and they gave me options. You asked if a local shop will care – they should! With mine you might have the opposite problem as not only could they help you out but you could easily get answers to every one of your questions, even if it took an hour. Cyclists here love to talk about it, although they tend to be good enough to let others initiate.

        Fit : try out the bike. That really is the best way. I didn’t realize the difference until I tried one popular brand and I felt like it was impossible to pedal! I had thought all bikes felt the same, and didn’t realise that I was lucky that my first bike was a really good fit for me.

        Road types : I bought a hybrid. It has the style I want (no huddling over curved handlebars) and durability. True road bikes have thin tires which aren’t going to last long on most roads. But do what works for you and maybe ask for explanations on the differences at a shop.

        Price : costs can be lowered by having a heavier bike (steel instead of aluminium), and different gears, brakes, etc. For me, weight is most important as I need to be able to lift it up stairs (and lighter bikes are less work to pedal). I don’t have big hills so it could be 3-speed (or even no gears), and I don’t care about brakes provided they work.

        Please feel free to ask more questions! I only cycle to work on occasion so my knowledge is limited but I will share what I can.

    5. CatCat*

      I’d try Craigslist or Nextdoor. We bought a used bike on there from a bike mechanic who was clearing out his stash of used bikes. So if you can find something like that, that would be a good route.

    6. Occasional Baker*

      A local bike shop we used in the past curates a Used Bike in the spring. This particular shop would certainly discuss new options, discuss sizing, but totally understand if someone chose to delay to see what the sale has.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Our local bike shop sells good secondhand bikes–might be worth asking around about.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Sigh. I got interrupted and don’t even know where that comment was going to go if I hadn’t pressed submit by accident.

    8. Bike lover*

      My husband is a bicycle mechanic who would definitely care. He currently works for the bike shop within a large outdoor corporation but in the past has worked at small local shops and my answer would be the same in both situations. $2-300 is not a lot of money but good bike salespeople care about getting you what you want regardless. They will take time and allow you to take test rides and help adjust to get the right fit. Also, good bike shops of any size will give you a free first tune up- use that! They love to see you back in a couple months to follow up. Don’t be shy- go and have fun.

    9. OyHiOh*

      My first brand new from a bike shop bike was a $200 Raleigh. Accounting for inflation and all, I’d say your friend can certainly find herself an entry level road or hybrid bike in that price range and that yes, definitely, a bike shop will care about her business.

      Without getting into nitty gritty, encourage your friend to look at hybrid models as well as road bikes. Depending on the make and model, a hybrid may be a little more reasonable in cost and feel more stable than a road bike.

  24. Alice*

    Ask a manager Hivemind – what can I do with old perfume? Unopened boxes, still wrapped in cellophane, of expensive perfume. Can I sell it? Should I donate it? Where?
    When I say old – most of it was bought before 2006, the rest before 2015. Does sealed perfume go bad?

    1. Jaid_Diah*

      See link to Perfume.com in my name, but 3-5 years is ok.

      “. This shelf life may be longer if the bottle is unopened and stored properly. Shelf life can also fluctuate according to the quality of the product. Perfumes with a higher concentration of alcohol or water may disappear more quickly through evaporation, for instance.

      One of the most obvious ways to detect a change in a perfume is the fragrance. If a perfume contains vegetable oils, they may become rancid over time. In contrast, essential oils, a popular ingredient in many commercial and natural fragrances, contain no fat, which helps the perfume last longer. As a perfume deteriorates, it may develop a smell like vinegar, or the concentration of the original scent may fade. The color of the perfume may also change, although this depends on the color of the original liquid, the color of the containing bottle, and how the bottle was stored.”

    2. fposte*

      Perfume can deteriorate with age, depending on the ingredients, but light is one of the worst offenders and they were protected from that. The other thing is that if any of those are discontinued or subsequently reformulated versions, people may be interested even if some deterioration has taken place.

      I believe you can still sell sealed bottles of perfume on eBay; be aware that there are a lot of counterfeits so there’s a lot of scrutiny. Some secondhand and thrift stores may take unopened bottles of perfume, too–my Goodwill doesn’t, but I see perfumistas scoring rare bottles at their Goodwills, so it seems like an individual choice.

      Also, I got rid of some open and used perfumes on Freecycle. Always worth a try.

    3. Animal worker*

      Check your local zoo, some of them accept donations of old perfume that are used for scent enrichment for the animals.

      1. Loopy*

        I volunteer at a zoo-like place and yes, this! We use different scents as enrichment and have gotten/used perfumes quite a bit. It’s also nice to have something nice smelling accidentally get on your hands for once :P

    4. foolofgrace*

      There *will* be people on ebay who will want them as is. I once went nuts for every old bottle of White Shoulders, the old stuff — the company changed hands and the formulation changed and I wanted the original. Some of the bottles were 40 years old.

    5. Alice*

      Thanks everyone! I love the zoo idea especially.
      Sorry, WellRed, your favorite is not one of them, otherwise I’d send it to you :)

      1. jolene*

        Any Pucci? Givenchy Extravagance? Body by Victoria? Ralph Lauren Romance? Elizabeth Arden Beyond Paradise for Men? I’ll pay shipping!

    6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’ve sold unwanted perfume on eBay. Here in the UK as long as it’s sealed in the original package (and some other rules I can’t remember) you can send it by Royal Mail. I suppose it probably does go off but as long as you mention that it’s been around for a while then people buying it can make their own decisions on whether it’s still good.

  25. She Who Must Not Be Named*

    My SIL is a perfectly lovely person. But I’m sad we don’t have much of a relationship beyond polite small talk.

    She lives in another city but visits regularly. I asked a couple of times if she wanted to have a meal with me and each time she had some reason to not do it. It now feels awkward to ask again.

    When she had her first baby I thought we would bond through shared parenting experience. But her parenting is so…perfect? I once told her I was having a bad day because my kids were having tantrums and wearing me out. Her response was that her kids don’t tantrum and I should be patient with them.

    I would love to have more of a sisterly bond with my SIL. But after nearly a decade she doesn’t seem to have any interest in getting to know me as a person beyond someone her brother is married to. She feels more like a distant cousin than a sister.

    1. fposte*

      That sounds disappointing when you’d hoped for more; I’m sorry.

      That being said, a lot of people aren’t like siblings with their siblings-in-law; the relationship that you do have sounds pretty common to me too, and she may not want any more.

      That also being said, I’m not hearing perfection there. Her response to your statement about having a bad parenting day is pretty darn emotionally tone deaf as well as, I guarantee you, untrue. I’m not sure I’d be rushing to be closer with somebody who shut somebody vulnerable down so hard and condescendingly.

    2. Ops manager*

      I’m like that with my sister in law. The only difference is that she has been around a shorter time and they don’t have kids yet. First off she is 100% full of it if she says her kids don’t tantrum. All children tantrum. She probably has an interesting personal definition of what a tantrum is. I think it was also sort of inconsiderate to tell you to be more patient. Not that is was intentional, it’s just that I imagine you do the best you can.

      I’m not sure if this will be helpful, but why other than that she is family do you want a relationship with her? You guys don’t seem to have much in common, she doesn’t put in effort, and she seems slightly annoying to me (sorry). I know people think family needs to be close, but that isn’t always practical, and she doesn’t seem interested. I would just try and accept the situation for what it is, which i know is difficult, because the situation didn’t live up to your expectations.

    3. Nacho*

      It sounds like she probably doesn’t really want a relationship with you, or see it as a natural next step to being your husband’s sister. As long as she’s not actively being curt with you, I’d just let it go and recognize that not everybody will want to be your friend, even if you want to be theirs.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep. My husband’s sister got so insistent that we should be bestest buddies that not only did I end up blocking her on Facebook, but he hasn’t talked to her in almost a year.

    4. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      Honestly I wonder if she is hiding depression/anxiety. Not letting anyone get close enough to see is a bit of a hallmark, and one I have seen play out multiple times in my extended family. Obviously those experiences are coloring my lens here, but it was the first thing that I thought of when I read your post.

      1. Fulana del Tal*

        I’m sorry but you’re definitely projecting here. Not to be to harsh but it read as OP has some unrealistic expectations going in. SIL not wanting to have a sisterly relationship is not wanting to exclude everyone.

    5. Lilo*

      All kids tantrum (or otherwise misbehave). My Dad is a pediatrician and we tantrummed. She may be trying to project “perfect” but that just isn’t realistic. Her comments say way more about her than they do you.

    6. Episkey*

      I have no patience for these people who want to put forth that being a parent is easy/their kids are perfect/they don’t have hard days. Give me a break. My kid’s not even a “high needs” kid but he definitely has his moments.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Offer her a meal with an open ended offer: “I know you are usually pretty busy when you come here, but sometime maybe we could go out for a lunch or brunch together. Give me a call and we will go.”
      This way the ball is in her court. She can call or not. For your own peace of mind, just decide that she probably will not call. And for your further peace of mind you can now stop asking because the ball is in her court.

      My friend has a lovely sister-in-law. It takes a while to see but the SIL is very insecure, very worried about how everything appears to others and she is a brown-noser. If you don’t have something she wants then you don’t exist.
      It takes a while to see this because she presents so well. Like you show here with the put down about your ability to parent, this is what the SIL did, too. And she’d blindside people because it did not fit with the perfect presentation she had. This is all to say, you may not have lost anything here, OP.

      A good plan might be to hold the door open, expect nothing and wait. I mean wait decades. Sometimes life events soften people. Sometimes people get tired of who they are and they change what they are doing.

    8. She Who Must Not Be Named*

      Thanks all. I understand being married to her brother does not mean we are automatic BFF. But it would be nice to be on friendly terms beyond polite small talk, especially after many years of knowing each other as family.

      I don’t think that is likely to happen so meh.

    9. Gerald*

      I think some of my family might wish for better relationships with in-laws (and I wish I was closer to some) but I also know it’s due to being serious introverts. Or being in a relationship with a big introvert. I can’t speak for your family dynamics, but it’s hard to know what motivates people.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      I think the fact that you have polite small talk with her is a good thing. Many people don’t even have that and can barely tolerate their in-laws, they go years without speaking, they’re openly hostile, etc. I think a more close, sisterly relationship is probably the exception and what you have is much more common and there’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t try to force it. She hasn’t yet taken you up on your multiple offers, so I’d just drop it and remain in the polite zone.

      That’s pretty much what I have with my SIL. We make small talk when we see each other at family events, but that’s as far as it goes and I’m fine with that. She seems to be, too. I can’t see myself going places with her or having intimate discussions. There are reasons for that, though, most of which is that she’s 50+, depends on MIL and FIL to financially support and taxi around her and the young adult grandkids, can’t keep a job, and likes to play “who has it the worst in life” during holiday dinners.

    11. kz*

      I don’t have any advice, but I can commiserate as I’m in the same boat with my SIL (my husband’s brother’s wife). “Polite small talk is definitely how I would describe all our interactions, but she’s the same way with everyone on our side of the family. I’ve accepted that we probably won’t ever be close, but it sure would make holidays with that side of the family more pleasant if she were a little more engaged. They just announced they are pregnant for the first time, and we are hoping to start having kids in the next year and a half or so, so this should be an interesting dynamic.

  26. Anon anony*

    Will men bring up their wives or girlfriends if they feel like you are interested in them? I was making conversation with a man at an event and I’m naturally observant, but maybe he thought I was making too much eye contact, and then he just started talking about his wife. I feel bad for possibly making him feel bad, but I wasn’t hitting on him or anything. What gives?

    1. fposte*

      It could be he likes his wife and she comes up in conversation readily. It could be that since he doesn’t wear a wedding ring (I’m guessing, since you didn’t mention it) he habitually brings her up early in any event conversation, especially if he’s there on his own. It could be he thought you were hitting on him because his tremendous ego sees any female conversation as a romantic overture.

      At any rate, I don’t think you made him feel bad, and I wouldn’t feel bad or worry about it anymore.

      1. bunniferous*

        My husband does this. It is a combo of he likes to talk about me and he likes to make sure people know he is unavailable. It does NOT mean he thinks they are hitting on him -he just knows he is clueless to determine when people are just friendly and when they ARE hitting on him. He is also very very friendly and it helps people know HE is not flirting with them, it is just his personality.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreeing. When we first married my husband told me he loved being able to say, “my wife”, because it’s like a form of accountability. He said it was a subtle way of saying, “I am not some jerk dude, I am just an average guy with a wife and house.” Because he traveled about so much he ran into all kinds of people. Sometimes he could see women hesitate or act concerned. He felt bad about that and his go-to was to tell a funny story about something he and I did together or whatever. He said that saying he was married did make a difference in some situations.
          He also liked to tell at home stories, anyway.

        2. Marion Ravenwood*

          Sounds like my husband – he’s one of those people that can make friends with a roomful of strangers wherever he goes, but it also means he’s quite oblivious to what’s people trying to be friendly and what’s people flirting with him. So referring to ‘my wife’ is a means both of being personable and telling people he’s not flirting with them, but also heading any flirting from other people off at the pass, so to speak.

    2. sourgold*

      Could be! But the more natural explanation would be that, since his wife is presumably a big part of his life, she’s a frequent topic of conversation for him.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      Well, 3 options:
      1. They do a lot of stuff with their wife and so she just comes up in conversation;
      2. He wasn’t sure, and decided to play it safe;
      3. He did think you were flirting.

      Even if it was #3, it’s not a bad thing. People don’t generally take offense at being found attractive – just at having their wishes ignored. So long as you don’t flirt at inappropriate situations or ignore signals to stop, it’s not a big deal.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I had a hetero female friend complain about a man not bringing up his girlfriend earlier, since she thought she’d been having a pretty good vibe with him. It’s very possible that he didn’t think you were hitting on him but brought her up just to make sure there were no mixed messages.

      1. Loopy*

        I kind of think this is quite likely. I am quite extroverted and friendly and worry about coming off as flirty unintentionally or giving mixed messages. It worries me and bringing up the S/O is a way to ensure I’m not confusing people!

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This used to happen to me all the time. I would be out somewhere, start talking to some guy, get a great vibe, then… he would mention his girlfriend. ARGH, made me crazy. I always wished they would bring up their SOs earlier in the conversation, which usually isn’t tough. “So, where do you live?” “My wife and I live in Astoria.” One time, a guy approached me at a party and we ended up talking in a corner for a long time, THEN I found out he was engaged! It was baffling. We actually ended up becoming good friends, but dang, that one was weird.

        Funny story: many years ago, my partner went out with some guys in a kind of college-y area of town. Apparently they met some women in a bar and when one of them needed to go home, my partner offered to walk with her as she was on his way. He later told me their goodbye was kind of weird (I forget the details). I asked him if he had mentioned his girlfriend (meaning me), he said no, it didn’t come up. I told him she probably thought he was going to hook up with her or at least get her number and I chastised him for being so unfair and letting her get her hopes up.

    5. Overeducated*

      It goes both ways. Maybe, but sometimes they also do this to be less threatening themselves (I.e. “I’m married, we can do small talk and you won’t have to worry I’m going to hit on you.”) So no need to worry, it doesn’t reflect poorly on you.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You beat me to it. And if I like them, I’d much rather they mentioned a significant other so I could switch gears to “Okay this person is taken so we’ll just be friendly” instead of making an ass of myself thinking they’re entertaining mutual interest.

    6. Anonno*

      Some people – men and women – think you might be hitting on them just because you’re talking to them. Some assume that you are indeed hitting on them. It varies by groups of people and their social norms, but it is a thing. Sometimes they’re also just trying to do what their partner would want because some people worry when their SO is talking to someone who they might hypothetically be attracted to. But it’s better than them being in a relationship and intentionally not mentioning it! You can respond by trying to make it obvious that you’re not talking to them for those kinds of reasons.

  27. Indie*

    This one is for teacher-people and those of you who act as on hand tech support for relatives… I’m living with my mother temporarily after the death of my father. I am becoming kind of concerned about leaving her alone as she is somewhat afraid of tech, except that she also loves window shopping online and her new Fitbit.

    Yesterday she wanted to know why her emails to Fitbit were not working after getting an undeliverable message; “Would sharing it on Facebook help? They are telling me to do that a lot.” Somewhat unwisely I let my amusement show when it turned out that Fitbit were just sending her a ‘you go girl’ type of automated message and she had replied with a thank you note complete with emojis.

    So she then reveals she has found an item on Amazon but she says her password isn’t working and hands it over to me in the manner of the helpless, leading me to hand it straight back: “Mum it says ‘forgot password?’ in big red letters – that’s you. Click on that.”
    “Do I want to use the temporary code or reset my password?”
    “I don’t know because I am not you, Mum! Do you want to make the password something easier to remember?”
    “I am never going to remember it though, am I?!”
    “Then just go in with the temporary code”
    “What is that? I don’t know it”
    “It is on the emails that you were just checking a minute ago. Copy and paste it in”
    “I don’t know where my emails are”
    “Oh Indie, just buy it for me on your phone!”

    I have to wonder if I am being a bit patronising and teacher-y with her because I know she will never learn if I do it for her. She has been nearly conned twice by doorstep people because she is not confident in looking up people online and finding services that way. I know my brother and sister would just help unreservedly but they are not here all the time.

    1. fposte*

      Is it possible that this isn’t a problem that needs to be solved? If your mother mostly likes to window-shop, it’s not the end of the world if she can’t pull a purchase together, and if she can’t get a message through to donotreply, that’s probably just as well. She’s not answering Nigerian scammers with her bank account number (fortunately), and being conned by bad tradespeople is a problem as old as the hills.

      I also think if her husband died not too long ago she’s probably not in the best learning frame of mind right now, and she might never learn anyway because this really isn’t something she’s comfortable with. So maybe this is about you figuring out what bugs you most here and find what your boundaries are for helping and intervening; maybe you could restrict tech assistance to a day of the week (like Saturday mornings) and that time could include placing an order for her at that point.

      1. Gatomon*

        +1 to mom not being in the best frame of mind. My mother (fairly capable technologically) was really struggling right after dad passed, and I had to help her through a lot of basic stuff she knew like how to text, answer the phone on a smartphone and how to use Google maps. I was worried about leaving her alone as well, but she did recover. It just took her a while. She didn’t really have the bandwidth to deal with stumbling blocks like forgotten passwords or typos, so she would get easily frustrated and give up/toss the device at me.

      2. Indie*

        I do have a suspicion that it is more my problem than hers but her mindset I think might be rather more permanent than that. It’s something that bugged my father; apparently she was in the habit of calling herself stupid.
        Which, I think, is the thing that bugs me. My mum is amazing.
        I might do her a weekly order. On the big telly screen where she can see what I am doing.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That is what my mum does–“I can’t learn that.” No, you’re really smart; it’s not over your head. If you don’t want to do it, that’s different.

          My mum has health issues that sap her spoons so she doesn’t always have the energy to do stuff, but calling herself too stupid to learn it is bullshit, and I finally had to call her out on it. Once I did, she stopped saying she couldn’t and started saying “I dislike it.” I can accept that.

          Although certain things would be easier for her if she’d just fecking learn it.

          1. Indie*

            All of this! Except my mother is pretty young and able bodied so she has a decent amount of spoons. I think I just have to reframe it as she gets to choose what to spend them on. The fixed mindset as opposed to growth mindset is just annoying for me, probably because of what I do, I think.

        2. Radical Edward*

          If you find yourself repeatedly dealing with the same issues or questions from her, a short FAQ or procedural document might be the sanest short-term solution for you both. One of my network security expert friends actually made SOP-style manuals for their tech-challenged parents; they love using the internet and buying the newest wired gadgets, but are completely clueless about security and any software that isn’t Microsoft Office. The main goal there was to prevent them from inadvertently downloading a virus or locking themselves out of their devices, but it worked. Mostly. If she’s always wanting to use the same website or service, that could be the simplest and most reassuring option for her.

          In our family, my brother is the one in a tech job but I am the one who took the time to teach my mother how to use her computer/social media/smartphone… go figure. XD (I am a teacher, just not of anything to do with computers!) My father is the one who avoids learning how to use new tech – he will even drive to his office to check email so that he doesn’t have to ‘figure out’ the family Mac. Then his boss made him start using a company iPhone (which he had apparently been resisting for several years).

          When my mother found out about this, she indignantly got an iPhone of her own and asked me to show her how to use it. YMMV here, but the important thing for my mother is to understand the basics of the particular device, then to understand the best ways she can try to solve problems / the best places to look for answers. (‘Are you having trouble with an app, or a website?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Okay, what are you looking at on your phone? Or are you using your desktop?’ Etc, etc.) Eventually, this pattern of questioning and instructions from me taught her how to triage her own problems, as she could predict what I would ask or tell her to do next. Now she feels more confident when she has a question, instead of defaulting to ‘I will just ask my children because I don’t even know where to start’. My proudest moment was when she told me recently that she had gone to a reputable tech website and looked up the topic she was having trouble with, then resolved the issue and taught all her friends to do the same thing. This has given her the confidence to monitor the security settings on my dad’s phone and know when to insist that he take it to the shop and get a paid professional to help him untangle something.

          All of this is to say, once your mother is in a better frame of mind, you could try giving her a tutorial session or two. It could even be fun (I hope)! Ask her what she wants to do, then reframe or boil it down to the necessary components/actions and go through the entire experience together. It might need repeating a few times, but if she’s open to it as an interactive learning experience, and feels a sense of accomplishment when she manages to Do The Thing, then eventually it should stick. The weekly order thing sounds like a good place to start. Repetition is key! Good luck, and I hope she feels more positively about it soon.

    2. KR*

      Something that I found helpful was to point out that they would not break whatever tech they’re working on. Obviously with financial stuff you can accidentally buy things but most of it is returnable. Point out to your mother that how you learn Technology is just hitting buttons and seeing what happens. It won’t break, it just might be an adventure fixing it.

      1. Indie*

        This is exactly the message I have been trying to deliver….but perhaps I have not said it very straightforwardly. I think I have to remember that it is easier for me to know that there is no harm in trying than it is for her.

        1. fposte*

          I also think that you can deliver the message just fine and your mom may still stick to her old ways. This is not just about you delivering information to her; her changing is about her, not just about you, and you have no control over that part. It sounds like this also makes you a bit sad–your mom is awesome and you know she could do this, and you think she doesn’t realize this. Maybe telling her that would make you feel better even if she doesn’t change her behavior: “Mom, I understand that maybe this isn’t a priority right now, but I think you’re awesome and are really capable of doing this down the line; I hope you know you’re awesome too.”

          1. Indie*

            I think you’ve summed up my struggle as I dont actually care about what she independently decides to about her tech skills. Agreeing with her when she implies “I can’t do this” feels disrespectful and so does disagreeing with her requests for help. Simply stating my real opinion was too simple to have occurred to me so thanks.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              One additional thought: I dragged the concept of grief brain out into the light of day with my friend. She lost her hubby and NOTHING stuck in her brain. The next day she asked the same thing she did the day before. This is not her.
              Grief turns our brains into colanders. Information goes into our heads and falls out through every opening in the colander.

              So when she says, “I can’t do this”, you can just say, well right now is a little rocky because grief does that to people. It’s too hard to remember stuff. If you do things the same way each time eventually it will stick with you. And over time you will have more brain space for it, just not right in this exact moment.”

              With the older folk, try to keep in mind that they do not talk about computers/tech much. They don’t see other people doing things at the same rate working people see what others are doing.

              Another friend is 70 plus years old. The way she takes on technology is to pick among all the things she sees her daughters doing. She picks activities that she likes and suits her life. For example she saw her daughters holding a phone up to a bar code to comparison price shop. She latched on to that in a heartbeat, “hey I want to learn to do that”. Now she does it all the time.

              I’d suggest putting Team Viewer on her computer and yours. Then she can call you, you can remote in and talk her through stuff. TV is free, seems to work okay as far as I can tell. She might like the fact that you are “in the computer with her”.

            2. Natalie*

              This is a bit parent-y, but what about something like “I don’t think you’re stupid, but it’s okay that you don’t feel like dealing with right now.”

      2. Dreamboat Annie*

        Just tell her not to set up one-click on Amazon. Yes, things can be returned but (at least for me) it is a pain!

    3. TryingToReadHere*

      My mom gets flustered when she’s trying to learn new tech things. I usually talk her through how to do something the first time while she does it herself. I’ll also write out detailed step-by-step instructions with drawings or screenshots for her to refer to later. She likes having instructions to follow so she doesn’t have to worry about remembering every little thing and it makes her worry less about screwing up. (Even if there’s an instruction manual, having custom instructions for whatever is most relevant to her makes it less overwhelming.)

    4. Rebecca*

      I hear you – I’m living with my Mom now (she just turned 83). Dad passed away over a year and a half ago, and my mother has had a Tracfone flip phone for years. She’s never even learned to save a phone number or use the contacts list to make a call, let alone look at a text or send one. She has a handwritten sheet of paper she carefully folds up and keeps with her phone. Email? I gave up on that years ago. Dad, by contrast, had a smart phone, could make and receive calls, take pictures, find the pictures, you get it. He even could send an email, and knew how to use what he called “The Google”.

      Now, I just handle anything techie for her. She won’t learn simple technology things, and I mean won’t, there’s nothing wrong with her mind, as this has been happening for years and she is competent otherwise. It’s just easier and less stressful if I just do it for her.

      1. Indie*

        This makes me feel loads better because she is actually now a master of everything related to texts and WhatsApp, when a couple of years ago she was just refusing to do it and acting like she never could. Her phone is decidedly awful, but so much better than her old flip one and I think is responsible for the change. She is open to tech advice on types of phone and tablet so that might be the way forward….
        I kind of like your mother’s paper list of phone numbers solution!

    5. families!*

      In addition to grief, I think for some people it’s a way of connecting, via making yourself super needy, “stupid” etc. This is how it is with my mother I feel. We live very far away so I started to notice when we visit, she becomes totally incapable of navigating any technology whatsoever; but then she is able to navigate it well enough for her daily life when I’m not around, the vast majority of the time (including ordering things online, recovering her password, figuring out a site to get whatever new x she needs). I try to see it now as this is how she is trying to connect, and it really has helped our interactions.

    6. Been there, done that*

      Condolences on the loss of your father.
      All of what other people have already said, and then some.
      Going along with “grief brain”, another thing to remember is that she probably has recently gone from managing SOME of the bills, maintenance, etc., to managing ALL of it. (Or, even if you’re dealing with some of it, she knows that she’s eventually going to have to take it all on.) That’s scary, and she’s likely a bit overwhelmed. My parents were in the process of moving when my dad passed away, and all of a sudden my mom was responsible for two houses as well as my grandmother’s bills. Managed to convince my brother and SIL to take on Grandma’s stuff, and I focused on helping Mom.
      Most older people do (or should) have a concern that they’re going to be scammed; there have been at least a couple times where I’ve asked mom, “Have you actually typed your credit card number into the phone? No? Then nobody can get it from your phone.” Said with a little bit of a chuckle, it can get the point across. There are some things that it’s probably worth “just doing” for her. Mom likes to shop online as well – but I take care of ordering things from Amazon or other “only online” places, and she’ll call LLBean or Lands End and place those orders over the phone.

      1. Indie*

        Wow this has been such a lightbulb actually, because it is not so much her emotional grief (it has been awhile now and she is very healthy in the way she celebrates him and definitely back to her old speed with the stuff she is good at) but the sucky practical fall out of losing one half of the team. I went from assuming she knew all her bills, to realising she didnt know any, to helping her set a budget to watching her really begin to try with that stuff. Looking at it that way I see it is going to take some time.

        1. Been there, done that*

          We were fortunate in that Mom was always the one who took care of all the bills, but Dad handled home maintenance, cars, yardwork, etc. We help out when we can, but between work and not actually being local (2-3 hours each way), she’s had to find people to do that stuff. Luckily, she has a neighbor (in the new town) who has a good recommendation for everything from tree removal to dentist!
          In terms of bills, lists and calendars are your (and your mom’s) best friend! If she’s tech-savvy at all, an online calendar is a great way to set up what to pay, and when; if not, then a couple months of paper calendars on the fridge can work, copying things from one month to the next. And maybe you can help her set up auto-pay for some of the bills that are consistent. (That’s one I haven’t managed to do with my mom….yet.)

  28. Aly_b*

    Allergy shots – anyone have any experience? I have always had lots of animal allergies and asthma. I’d love to be able to maybe get a dog, and at the very least not sniffling my way through winter would be really nice. I’m in the US and have theoretically very good insurance that I don’t understand (I’m Canadian) that says it will cover the shots if I can figure out where to get them. I’m basically stuck at knowing where to start or if it’s worth the effort. Any advice?

    1. CAA*

      You should talk to an allergist. If your insurance is an HMO, then you probably need to see your primary care provider and get a referral. If it’s a PPO, then you can usually just find an allergist on the list of doctors that’s covered in your plan. There should be a searchable list on the insurance company’s website.

      An allergist will probably not dive right into giving you shots. They need to figure out what you’re allergic to first, so there are tests to be done before they can treat you. Winter is kind of an odd time for allergies to peak, so it may take some investigation to figure that out.

      1. Enough*

        Actually winter was when my children first showed symptoms. House is closed up and dust, etc build up. But it could also be an issue of dehydration as the air will be dry.

    2. Animal worker*

      And as you’re doing, really research whether or not allergy shots or some other method would be enough to be able to have a dog before you get one, so that you don’t have the risk of taking in a dog and then having to rehome it if the allergy control isn’t working well enough. Maybe try whatever type of allergy control is recommended then do a few visits to a local shelter to make sure that you can be around dogs before actually acquiring one?

      1. Aly_b*

        Shelter won’t work because I will always be allergic to cats, which will be nearby… but yes obviously I’m looking into options to make sure I can test things out before we end up with a dog we can’t keep. This lack of certainty is 100% of the reason we haven’t tried getting a dog at this point. Either fostering first or trying a home visit, which some agencies allow, will definitely be a requirement. Please assume I’m being extremely responsible about this.

    3. rubyrose*

      I’ve never had the shots. They were offered to me, but the idea of going in once a week for a very long time put me off. Also, I would have had to readjust my work schedule to make it into the doctors office.

      I was fortunate. My ENT also offered allergy drops. They are liquid and come in a container that dispenses one drop at a time. I take it three times a day. Someone in his office mixes them up, based on the results of my allergy testing. One bottle lasts three months; each bottle increases the strength of the irritant. The problem with the drops is that since they are not FDA approved, insurance will not cover them. The methodology comes from Europe, I believe, and has been proven there to be successful.

      I’ve been taking them for 2.5 years and have another six months to a year. I have noticed a big difference. If this appeals to you, look for an allergist or ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor that states on their website that they work with complementary therapies.

    4. rubyrose*

      Also, certain breeds (Bichons, Havanese, Coton de Tulear) are known to cause less allergist reactions in humans. Some people will say they are hypoallergenic. I think there are a couple of other breeds in that group. I myself have a Havanese/Terrier mix.

    5. BrilliantMistake*

      Good advice about HMO versus PPO. I have allergies and asthma and get the shots. Others are correct, there is testing first to determine what you’re allergic to. I had one allergy doctor tell me I would have to get rid of my cat, to which I responded, only a little jokingly, that it would be easier to get rid of HIM, which I actually did.

      I have found an allergist who understands that I have cats and will be keeping them, and he has worked with me on that. He did tell me, however, that he has had only one or two patients who he insisted re-home their pets or he could not be their doctor. (He is a pet-lover also, so he understands.)

      Unfortunately for me, my allergies and asthma mean I will need the shots “forever,” whereas it’s usually for a period of 3-5 years and you are finished. We have worked it out that I only go monthly now for my shots, though, so that’s helpful.

      Maybe after you visit the allergist and are ready to explore getting a dog you could foster, with an eye to seeing how your allergies/asthma are with that particular dog, and how you bond with that dog. I do think different animals produce different amounts of allergens, and you can be fine with some and suffer greatly with others, and it’s not even the breed of dog that matters so much.

      Good luck!

    6. Newb*

      In my experience the process of getting to the allergy shots goes like this:
      1. Referral to an allergist from your GP
      2. Schedule a test, generally at your peak allergy time if applicable (I have seasonal allergies, so mine was in May). They’ll tell you to stop taking allergy medicine in advance of the test.
      3. The scratch test (they basically give your entire forearms little scratches with allergen juice).
      4. If that doesn’t work, they’ll send you to get blood drawn for a blood test or give you a poke test (your upper arm gets repeatedly stabbed with small needles), or both.
      5. If your tests produce results, they’ll proceed to the shots. If your tests all come back negative they will decline to give you shots.

    7. StudentA*

      I started allergy shots but had to stop when I lost insurance :( I also have friends who’ve gotten them. I highly recommend them! I, too, got them for pet allergies. Though, of course, I’m allergic to a host of other things, but my priority is my fur babies.

      Going in once a week for a year to ease my allergies is completely worth it for me. I just scheduled one appointment, took the allergy test, and they sent for my shots. I’m super sad I have to pause the treatments and am even sadder I’m currently without insurance at all, but I’m working on that.

      Let me know if you have any specific questions. The place was always full of patients when I went in to get my shots. It seems to be a pretty common, safe, and efficient treatment.

    8. Chaordic One*

      I underwent the procedure and found the shots to be extremely effective for dealing with environmental allergies (pollen and hay fever). Before the shots I had a chronic runny nose or else I was completely stuffed up. However, they were not particularly effective in helping me deal with animal dander or with food allergies.

      At the moment I have a sweet Golden Doodle and I don’t have any allergy problems with him. I used to have a West Highland White Terrier and I didn’t have any problems with him either. (Westies have extremely wirey fur.) However, my nextdoor neighbor has an extremely friendly Australian Shepherd/Lab mix, and when he comes over to me my nose starts running and my eyes start swelling up.

      Even though the shots didn’t help with animal and food allergies I still think they were very much worth the expense (meeting my deductible and co-payments) and inconvenience of visiting the doctor every week.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      When I got pregnant, my dr said he couldn’t increase dosage again until after delivery. I hadn’t been doing them long so it seemed an extravagant waste of time & money so I stopped treatment. I do think I had some permanent improvement though…summer has never been quite as hideous since then.

    10. Dreamboat Annie*

      I am so glad I got allergy shots. I did “rush protocol”, in which you take drugs for 3 days t