weekend free-for-all – March 2-3, 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 Age of Light, by Whitney Scharer. It’s a fictionalized account of photographer/model Lee Miller’s relationship with Surrealist Man Ray in 1930s Paris, and I was skeptical that I’d like it but I was totally engrossed. It’s about love and art and imperfection and figuring out what you have to say.

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

Posted in Uncategorized

{ 1,569 comments… read them below }

  1. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    My cat keeps trying to help me by planting his butt on my laptop…

    1. Doctor Writer*

      I’m struggling to start again.
      Back in college, over a 5 year period, I wrote close to 900k divided in 3 novel length books and a multi book series’ worth of fanfiction, and considered it my ‘learning to write and storytell’ course (as much as it can be). It got great feedback, I made wonderful friends, family members enjoyed it, and I learned so much (internet rabbitholes of army veteran forums, trauma resources, and lighter stuff about camping, art and just about anything), I came back and edited earlier work and still love it, but during the last couple of years of my STEMS phD, everything ground to a halt.
      Now I’m all done studying (it’s been a few months), have a full time job, but when I do have time my brain groans and says ‘no effort!’, and I’m kind of scared I’ll never start again.
      I have 100k of a story in my notes which I’m proud of but deserves an overhaul to be coherent and finishable (it’s two stories so I need to resign myself to telling one at a time to keep the whole thing a reasonable 120k or so), and yeah, all this ranting is to self-motivate to get back to it^^

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I would suggest starting slowly, maybe choose a moment in the day (like 8PM) and try to write something – anything – for ten minuten or so, even when your brain doesn’t want to cooperate. After not all that long you’ll notice inspiration or the will to write automatically starting to come to you around that moment.

        1. Claire*

          What A.N. O’Nyme said. I’d only add:

          Pick the time of day that works best for you. Some writers do best in the morning, some late at night. I know one author who used his lunch hour to write. (That’s not always possible.)

          For your writing session, it sometimes helps to set a timer.

          Oh and don’t beat yourself up if you miss a session. Writing a novel is marathon, not a sprint.

        2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          This – I recently started writing again in a way to help cope with this awful job situation and now I have three rules:

          1) Write in the mornings, from 6.30-7
          2) If that’s not going to happen due to cirumstances and you need sleep, its cool, no beating self up
          3) This is fun time, not a death march (or work report. same thing). Let it flow and have a laugh!

          I put a circle on calendar every day I write. I started back up in february and the first weeks were a bit hit or miss but now I’ve got some consistency AND on days when I need to sleep in, I find myself wanting to write in the evenings after work. This is huge – I used to be way too tired (or thought I was) to do that.

          Baby steps approach and self forgiveness help a LOT.

      2. Foreign Octopus*

        I tell myself that I have to do at least 500 words a day. For me, if I focus, I can do that in 30 minutes and sometimes I keep going, and sometimes I stop.

        It might be helpful to have a low word limit to hit each day so that you’re forcing yourself to do it and then you might find that you just keep going.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oof, I know what you meant. Maybe try to find some writing prompts and write short drabbles based on those? That usually helps me.
        Anyone else have any advice?

        1. Lucy*

          It’s really tough – even writing prompts aren’t doing it for me just now. I think I need to give myself permission to write some absolute garbage like super derivative Mary Sue fanfic ha ha!

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            That works too! Go forth and write a Mary Sue!
            (Fun fact: my phone autocorrects “Sue” to “die”. Er…)

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oof, I know what you mean. Maybe try to find some writing prompts and write short drabbles based on those? That usually helps me.
        Anyone else have any advice?

      3. Shrunken Hippo*

        I find reading books I enjoy can help me get through writers’ block. Sometimes exploring someone else’s writing style can help my brain switch gears.

      4. Mashed potato*

        Total busy blocks here lol.
        Was spraying weed killer one weekend and then overtime for next two. I jot down idea on an app on my phone so I can still brainstorm at work :D

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I’m studiously avoiding the much-needed rewrite of the book I’m working on. Previously that meant writing other stuff, but this week I’ve done approximately nothing. At some point, I’ll get annoyed enough with myself to get back to it, but right now it’s sitting.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      It’s going well but I’d like to ask the hive mind how to deal with negative feedback. I totally get that, as a writer, we need to be open to the feedback as it can be more useful than positive but I’m finding that for (proportions exaggerated) for every ten pieces of good feedback I get, there’ll be one bad one and I find that the bad one lingers in my mind more than the good.

      How do I accept the feedback whilst also not letting it fester it my mind and knock my confidence?

      1. Claire*

        I totally get this. For me, I keep a folder of emails that I call “Good News” where I save positive reviews/feedback/etc. It helps me keep perspective.

        Oh, and good feedback can be just as useful as the negative kind. We need to hear “do more of THIS” as well as “don’t do this.”

    4. Claire*

      Cats, the fuzzy little criminals.

      The pirate novel sequel is going very slowly, but at least I *am* making progress. I’ve enlisted some friends to nag me every three or four days.

      However! Copyedits for the first pirate novel showed up yesterday, so I’ll be spending the next week or two working through the CE’s comments and queries.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        And now an extract of his being very helpful.
        “The computers just <mkefbmkqjfeùlzkfjlkkljlk"
        To be fair to him, the computer did just go haywire as a result of a power surge. I very much doubt crime scene investigators would say it like that, however.

        1. Claire*

          LOL! Our old cat once managed to switch my spouse’s keyboard over to Arabic, just by walking across the keyboard.

          My Fig-Cat likes to sit between my keyboard and my coffee mug, looming over me like a demon.

    5. Shrunken Hippo*

      I’ve just started writing again. For now I’m focused on world building because I know the basic plot I want to go with but a lot of the specifics depends on world history that won’t make an appearance in the book (I think) but needs to be sorted out to keep things consistent. There have been many nights spent researching geological formations, farming techniques, river travel, horse travel, and a bunch of other little things. I am so glad that the internet exists because it makes finding answers to my questions incredibly easy, though I do often end up down rabbit holes.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, one of my projects is a fantasy novel and it’s the one I usually work on during train commutes because world building is fun and I can easily put it aside when necessary.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Oh God this is me. What have I gotten myself into.

        It’s INSANE how much detail worldbuilding takes. And 90% of it won’t even be in the book, but if it’s in my head, then writing the bits that are is much easier.

        1. Shrunken Hippo*

          I’m always tempted to not worry about certain aspects of world building, but then I remember how annoyed I get as a reader when things don’t add up and I guilt myself into more research. Though I find world building fun because different cultures have always interested me so forming my own is fun.

          1. Lucy*

            World building and backstorying is absolutely some of the most important work, even if it never makes it on to the page – in fact it’s frustrating when the author is obviously stuffing as much of their research into the final work as possible!

            I’ve been struggling with writers block and I might give myself permission to back story some minor characters to make sure they have a unique voice. Thanks for the prompt!

    6. HannahS*

      I have a (teeny-weeny) craft blog that I love dearly, but the trouble is that I have very little time to do crafts and take good pictures of them. So I have a number of draft posts that are fully written with INSERT PIC written in where the pictures will be. It’s a bit frustrating.

        1. HannahS*

          Argh I’d love to but I have multiple pseudonyms in different parts of the internet and I’m nervous to cross streams. But thank you for asking.

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            No worries, I understand. Hopefully you’ll find the time to make those crafts and take those photographs!

    7. MommyMD*

      Love your cat! Mine just knocks everything off every table. I was in journalism before medicine and also a little freelancing. I miss writing and love it and would love to combine writing and medicine but really don’t know how to. I’m not interested in research writing. Good luck to you.

      1. Nynaeve*

        You could look into narrative medicine! There are master’s programs and workshops on it, but even if you weren’t interested in more formal training, you could read up on it to get ideas of all the possibilities. Narrative medicine been covered in places like JAMA and Annals of Internal Medicine.

  2. StellaBella*

    A request for recipes… Do you have lunch recipes to bring for work lunches in containers? Limiting my plastic consumption and saving money by doing this is my goal. Any favourites to share? Mostly vegetarian but I do eat fish and sometimes chicken.

    1. Approval is optional*

      In summer I do a lot of cold rice salads: brown rice cooked with something like cumin or coriander seeds, seasonal vegetables stir fried or raw – depending on the vegetable, sauce sometimes lime and coriander, sometimes honey -soy, and nuts sprinkled on top. I take it in a glass container. In winter I take vegetable and bean soup, vegan mac and ‘cheese’, or a vegetable and bean stew – again in glass so I can zap it in the microwave easily.

    2. Namey McNameface*

      Ditto on salads. Super easy to make and lots of variety. I don’t want to do full vegetarian but eating salads means I consume significantly less meat. Any fish/meat left overs you can chop into small bits and throw into the salad the next day.

      I use whatever vegetables fresh or canned I have at home. Also started growing kale, spinach, celery, beetroot (beetroot leaves also great on salads), and various herbs like basil and parsley. Any kind of grain is yummy and filling. I have used buckwheat, quinoa, millet, list is endless.

      As for dressing, invest in tasty oil. Or hummus/lemon/mayo…anything really.

    3. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

      I do a lot of soups. Super easy to make, and easy to load with veggies and other good things. It’s only my husband and me, so when I make soup at home, I still do a full batch and then freeze the rest in individual containers to take with me.

      1. Chaordic One*

        There’s nothing like homemade soup. Many canned soups are high in salt. I have food allergies and have to be especially aware of avoiding soy (which is in almost everything, darn it!)

        You do have to plan ahead a bit, but you can can make a big batch and then freeze it into smaller lunch-sized containers that you can microwave at work. So much better than canned!

    4. Not Yet A Parent*

      I usually make a bigger dinner so I can put lunches in Pyrex glass containers for work lunch’s. So pretty much anything for dinner is fine to have the next few days. I like making chicken a variety of recipes. Taste of Home has a lot of ideas. Also Pioneer Woman’s blog. Good luck!

    5. Lemonwhirl*

      Hi there – I eat a plant-based diet and my husband and son do not, so I batch cook all my food and freeze in individual containers, so all my work lunches are brought in from home.

      My favourite is dal – if you google onegreenplanet Sweet Potato and Tomato Red Lentil Dal, you should find what I think is the best dal recipe ever. (I usually load mine up with extra veg – usually bell peppers, cauliflower, spinach – and tins of beans.)

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          I feel so dumb, but I never thought to look at the rest of the site. Ha! Now I have a new source for recipes. Thank you for pointing out the forest I was missing because I was in love with a single tree!

    6. Marzipan*

      My office has a freezer, which is brilliant as I can make one big batch of whatever at the weekend, and then take a load of boxes of it in on Mondays. I can then mix and match all week! Plus my colleagues know they can help themselves if they want a lunch ever. So I’ll make vegetarian curries, lasagne, risotto, cottage pie… All kinds of stuff, really.

    7. Catherine*

      I do a lot of pasta salads with lazy tzatziki knockoff dressing or kimchi over rice!

    8. Anona*

      Budget bytes has a series of recipes devoted to meal prep. She also just finished a vegetarian month of recipes, so she’d be worthwhile to check out.

    9. Marion Ravenwood*

      Another vote for pasta/noodle salads. I have a couple of recipes I like for pasta salads – one that’s like a sort of knock-off carbonara with bacon, peas, spinach and ranch dressing (though you could probably swap the bacon for chicken), and another with frozen pre-chopped butternut squash, courgettes, olive oil, lemon juice, thyme and feta cheese. I also have a roast potato salad that I make with peppers, courgette, aubergine and Italian dressing which I really like.

      In terms of the noodle salads, I have a recipe for a Thai peanut salad which I make with rice noodles, carrots, spinach and peppers steamed in a colander (cook the noodles and veg, tip them into the colander, put a saucepan lid over the top) then dressed with feta and peanuts. The other one I like is more Japanese-influenced, with cucumber, peppers, carrots and sesame seeds. I make a similar dressing for both – lime juice, sesame oil and soy sauce, with peanut butter added for the peanut salad and ginger for the Japanese-inspired salad.

      I make a lot of soups as well – usually as an excuse to use up veggies that are past their best. Just mix them with a hand blender, a bit of cream maybe, some seasoning, then put in a pot and take to work the next day. Lots of soups freeze well too so it’s easy to make a huge batch at the weekend, portion it out and then put it in the freezer to eat throughout the week.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Cold peanut noodles are AWESOME. My husband takes them for lunch in the summer all the time — we make a big batch at the beginning of the week and it just gets better and better all week. I do lots of crunchy raw veg in mine, red cabbage, green onions, shredded carrots, etc. Great with edamame as well for some protein!

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      There’s a lentil salad I’m trying to recreate from when I used to live in California. I’m still having trouble cooking the Lentils to done-but-not-mush, and I’ve never measured quantity. …but here are the basic ingredients :
      Cooked lentils. Finely chopped purple onions and red pepper. Balsamic vinegar. Olive oil. Optional salt, pepper, and sugar. I’m still messing with herbs&spices too.
      I also love tabouleh. Bulgar wheat. Minced onion & flat parsley. Chopped fresh tomatoes. Lemon juice. Olive oil. Optional salt, pepper, and sugar.
      Just not great for a lunch meeting because the parsley is as visible on teeth as broccoli or spinach!

      1. Fellow veg*

        Have you tried French green lentils? They’re smaller than most and hold up better without turning to mush.

    11. Kimmybear*

      Cannellini beans or chickpeas with whatever veggies I have around (tomato, cucumber, broccoli) and green or red onion tossed in olive oil and lemon juice or red wine vinegar. Sometimes add a bit of feta or serve over baby salad greens. Lots of fun combinations and you get a healthy dose of protein from the beans.

    12. Frustrated S.O.*

      I used to take a lot of stir fry. You can cook up all the separate ingredients on the weekend (rice, chicken, veggies, noodles) and then prepare your bowl daily. Super easy and customizable w/different sauces.

    13. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      This has become a weekday go to for me! I usually make this Sunday night and divvy it up ahead of time–she has meal prep instructions under the regular instructions. The only things I really do differently is 1) usually get chicken thighs instead, because they are cheaper and I think they taste better, and 2) I let the chicken sit in the marinade longer if I can. Like, at least an hour, but I like it best if I remember to throw it in that morning and really let it soak.
      https://www.halfbakedharvest.com/sheet-pan-chicken-shawarma/

    14. fposte*

      I do homemade soups and stews that I’ve frozen in individual containers, and I do bento-style assemblages (no cute shapes, just a color array and a lot of different things). The latter take a little more time but not a lot, especially if you have leftovers, and they’re so much fun to open up at lunch!

    15. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      These are all great suggestions, but I’ll add a recommendation to keep several backup lunches in the freezer. My spouse uses a set of pyrex containers for work lunches and I usually batch cook something on the weekends so they’re ready to go for the week, but sometimes things come up. Having some emergency lunches in the freezer has been a lifesaver.
      Whenever I make something freezable, I set aside one or two portions in a wide-mouth 16 oz jar to freeze. We have a bunch of jars floating around so it doesn’t take any of the main lunch containers out of rotation, and they don’t take up very much freezer space. Chili, veggie stew (with lots of bean/quinoa/barley), leek, potato, and green chili soup, all freeze really well.

    16. Canadian Natasha*

      If you eat eggs, I sometimes like to make crustless microwave quiche. The key is to put it in a container with tall sides and rub butter on the inside of the container before you put the whisked egg and other ingredients in. (That lets the egg climb the container and get puffy). You can pick whatever herbs & veggies & cheese you want). It’s not one container if you bring along bread for toast and/or salsa to put on the quiche but I often do that as well.

        1. PurpleMonster*

          3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup self raising flour. The trick is to only just mix it so it’s still a bit lumpy as that’s what forms the crust. Anything goes – lentils, vegetables, whatever. I find cheese indispensable however. Bake at 220 Celsius for about half an hour.

    17. dbc*

      I like those freeze-dried sprouted lentils. Quick to cook, great texture, high protein and once they’re cooked and chilled are yummy in any combination. I use individual hummus packs (but that might not meet your preferred plastic reduction). I add mustard, hummus, rice vinegar and smoky paprika to any favorite salad dressing; I add capers and green olives, sometimes cooked pasta, frozen, leftover or salad veg of any kind. In winter I add those slaw mixes to the cooked lentils with some hummus and/or miso and heat with some water for a quick and crunchy soup.

    18. Nacho*

      For lunch I just store some deli meat/cheese in the office fridge and bagels/decent bread in my desk, and make a sandwich. Maybe lox and cream cheese if you want it to be pescatarian?

    19. cat socks*

      Here are a couple of soup recipes I make frequently. They keep well throughout the week.

      Senegalese Soup from Iowa Girl Eats
      Spicy Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato and Kale from Pinch of Yum

    20. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      This will be more appealing in warmer weather, but you can also pack a container of “salad” style filling to eat with crackers, wrap in a tortilla, or over mixed greens. It’s easy to make a week’s worth of egg or tuna salad ahead of time, and adding white beans or chickpeas and extra veggies makes it reasonably healthy. I especially like diced carrots and spicy radishes.

    21. The Happy Intern*

      Not a recipe but if you’re not one for big lunches, I have a sweet little container that lets me put granola or fruit pieces in the bottom compartment and a larger compartment on top allows for yogurt with a little ice pack that screws into the bottom of the lid so that the yogurt stays cold! I bring about a cup of yogurt with granola in the container plus some fruit and veggies to snack on and I’m set for lunch! It also works as a general container set up for bringing ingredients for other things that need to stay cold so it’s definitely something that I would recommend investing in! I got mine from a kitchen store for about $15.

    22. Rainy days*

      Search for New York Times Vegetarian Skillet Chili. Takes less than 30 minutes to make and there’s only little chopping because most ingredients are canned. Very tasty and you can easily customize to your taste.

    23. Sally Forth*

      I stole mine from a caterer. You can make this up and leave it in the work fridge, minus the almonds, then add a few for crunch at the time of eating
      1 bag of matchsticked carrots
      1/2 cup of dried cranberries
      1/2 cup of crumbled feta
      1 can of drained chickpeas
      1/2 c of slivered almonds
      1/2 c of any citrusy vinaigrette, but orange tastes best

    24. DrTheLiz*

      Chicken recipe, but I’m sure the chicken could be replaced with beans/lentils without too much trouble.

      Serves ~4
      500g diced chicken
      450 ml (1 tub) tomato passata
      2 large onions, diced
      1.5-2 red or yellow bell peppers, diced OR similar volume of broccoli
      1 heaping cup rice
      Herbs/spices to taste. I like garlic, paprika, a little black pepper, basil and rosemary.

      Put all ingredients into a pot, simmer on a low heat for 45-90 minutes. Serve!

      1. DrTheLiz*

        I suddenly recall that I also make a variant of this with halloumi instead of chicken. Fry the onion a little before adding everything else, use broccoli rather than bell pepper and for extra zazz add some balsamic vinegar right at the end.

    25. Kuododi*

      You mentioned you do still eat chicken and fish. I will sometimes make chicken salad out of leftovers on hand. (Another option is to buy a rotisserie chicken at grocery store and use some of the meat for salad and leftovers for homemade chicken noodle soup or chicken and dumplings.). Good luck !!!!

    26. Owler*

      Search for “Kenji Lopez Alt soup in a jar”. He made some instant soup recipes that are awesome. I really like his shrimp Thai soup, with a substitution of leftover diced chicken for the shrimp. I would eat it weekly if I were more organized (and if my family didn’t eat my stash). I’ve been meaning to try his other soups, but I haven’t gotten past the Thai soup.

    27. Drago Cucina*

      Lentil and barley salad with lemon juice, olive oil, and chopped parsley. Sometimes I add feta cheese, but it’s yummy without. The textures have a nice, satisfying bite. I need to make some for my Ash Wednesday lunch.

    28. Anonymoss*

      I found a recipe for baked cauliflower in a tahini miss sauce in Anthony Bourdain’s latest cookbook, Appetites. It’s insanely delicious. And the sauce is good on any kind of pasta or grain dish. It’s very savory and filling!

    29. NosilyCurious*

      I always have cooked lentils on hand, and I add them to salads, spice them up as sides, or make them my main dish. I cook a couple of cups, if not more, over the weekend with just a touch of salt and cumin and keep them sealed in a glass container in the fridge, and they’re great cold and easy to heat up as well. They are yummy with a bit of chopped tomato, green onion, and dill! I’ll have that as a side with some grilled chicken breast, for example.

      1. NosilyCurious*

        I should add that I usually make green lentils or brown, though the latter can get mushy if overcooked/overheated.

    30. Zephy*

      I do eat meat, but I’ve started meal-prepping my lunches on Sunday for the week. This week, I have baked chicken thighs with broccoli and sweet-potato mash. I also have a couple of clementines for a snack, and a yogurt cup for dessert (reusable: buy the big tub of yogurt and mix ~1/3 cup Greek yogurt + ~a tablespoon of strawberry jam together in a small tupperware, if you don’t want to buy the prepackaged ones).

      Thinking over some of the other things I’ve made and trying to vegetarianize them…

      I’ve made a riff on risotto with barley that holds up and reheats very well. Saute diced onion, carrots, bell pepper in your preferred cooking fat; add garlic and sliced cherry tomatoes. Once that all gets a bit of color on it and smells amazing, drop in the barley and chicken broth in proportion according to package directions. Season to taste with salt, pepper, maybe some herbs if you wanna get fancy. You can also change up the veggies for whatever you have/like. Simmer for however long the package says (varies depending on whether you’re using instant barley or not, I haven’t seen a difference in the finished product). I packed mine with some pork but you could sub in your favorite alternative protein. I wouldn’t recommend fish just because it should be a felony to microwave fish in a communal kitchen, but if you have your own office/microwave and aren’t inflicting your fish on anyone else, go for it. Salmon would go very nicely with this concoction, I think.

      Tuna salad and crackers is also an easy lunch to prep, but I’d do that about 2 days at a time, rather than prepping the week’s worth of tuna salad and letting that sit in the fridge all week. Building on that idea, you can do homemade DIY lunchables – crackers, cheese, meat if you want it (cold cuts or bits of cooked rotisserie chicken), maybe some snackable veggies like carrot chips, cucumber slices, celery sticks, with or without a dip to go with – hummus, cream cheese, your favorite salad dressing.

      I’ve also done DIY Chipotle bowls with cauliflower rice. Whatever your normal order at Chipotle is, it’s probably pretty easy to DIY. Rice (or cauliflower rice), beans, protein of choice, sauteed onions and peppers, and salsa layered in a container; pack sour cream (or Greek yogurt) in a separate container and add after reheating if you go for that.

  3. Jane Smith*

    Hi what’s everyone got planned for this wkend? I’m off now yay! Gong to catch up with some friends and try to do more exercise. Oh and I watched Isn’t it Romantic last night – it was hilarious!

    1. StellaBella*

      Well I am going to buy a new handbag, as last night I managed to shatter a full, 1L glass bottle of berry juice in my purse and all over the store floor as I was paying. I was, and am, so embarrassed. Only minor things were damaged but purse had a lot of glass flecks in it that were stuck into crevices so basically not salvageable. So, going to town shops to find a new handbag.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Oh, yes, I need to go buy a new handbag, too. Well, I don’t NEED to, but I WANT to! New job so I want to treat myself. I tend to be a one-handbag woman, which is used until it’s worn out.

        Good luck in your search!

        1. StellaBella*

          You too! I literally bought this bag in January and it’s not fancy, was about 20$ but I liked it. Just found more glass as I was cleaning the things that were in the bag. Ugh.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            It sucks when you find a nice bag–it’s hard!–and then something happens to it.

              1. Pippa*

                Me, too – and not that anyone asked, but last year I bought a kattee brand leather bag off Amazon when I was looking for something solid-but-not-too-pricey, and it’s been surprisingly great. Both the leather and the hardware feel like my much higher-end bags and it’s showing no signs of wear despite being in heavy rotation. Would definitely buy again!

        2. PhyllisB*

          Funny story about purse shopping: my husband and I were at an outlet mall and he told me he would buy me a new purse for our anniversary. I am usually not one of these shoppers who takes forever to pick something out, but we all know how hard it is to find THE ONE when you’re looking for a purse to carry everyday. (I too tend to be a one handbag woman.)
          Well, we went from one end of that mall to the other looking. Finally he picked up a purse, thrust it at me and said “Here!! Buy this one!!” It looked nice, so I was checking it out, and then I saw the price. I said, “This purse costs $200.00!!” He said, “I don’t care!! Just get it so we can get out of here!!” I didn’t, of course. In fact, I ended up going back and buying the very first one I looked at. He got off easy; that one only cost $35.00. And I used it for years. Now all I have to do is mention purse shopping, and he just throws his debit card at me and says, “Get anything you want, just don’t make me go with you!!”

          1. The Other Dawn*

            That’s funny! Yes, purse shopping takes quite awhile. After years of buying purses for looks and then not using them, I’ve realized it has to be an open top with just a middle snap. No zippers or button flaps. I like to just toss things in as I’m walking and not have to fool around with a zipper or any of that. Realizing what I like and find useful has made shopping easier and faster.

      2. Jane Smith*

        Yikes! Hope you find another nice bag and manage to salvage everything in it! I like bag shopping, despise clothes shopping.

    2. Cute Li'l UFO*

      Getting a job suddenly shifted my priorities so it’s a lot of cleaning that I’d normally do during the week basically tomorrow and Sunday.

      I do plan to get myself something fun for dinner. Maybe In-N-Out and a stop to finally try Cookie Dough Parlor for dessert, assuming I haven’t reached capacity from the earlier meal!

      1. Jane Smith*

        Somebody reminded me of the Unf*ck Your Habitat blog last week – I’ve been reading it this week and doing some of the challenges. It’s great for cleaning!

        1. Cute Li'l UFO*

          That blog is why I learned HOW to clean, not just move a pile out of my sight and then trip over it later! Everything stopped feeling so insurmountable and became actually doable. I like to play youtube vids or podcasts while I clean.

          I grew up with a really truly lovely mom who had undiagnosed OCD and serious cleaning rituals. I don’t put the blame on her, my way was just never “right.” I was always good at scrubbing toilets, though!

          Downside is that the visit to the consignment store I planned to take some of my nicer things to won’t be happening since I prefer to visit during the week to sell when they’re less busy. Guess I’ll stop being lazy and list them!

          1. Jane Smith*

            Yes! “Everything stopped feeling so insurmountable and became actually doable.” I so agree. I like to play epic cinematic music on YouTube when I’m cleaning:D

        2. Parenthetically*

          UFYH changed my life. I haven’t “needed” it in years, but the method/practical tips AND the kindness of the blog came at the right time for me and caused such a shift in how I think of cleaning.

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      Taking my kid to his acting class and then out to lunch today.

      Not sure about tomorrow – depends on the weather. I have a meal to batch cook and some veg to chop for snacks for the week. But I also want to do some prep work on the landscaping front. We also got a new board game recently so we’ll likely play that one afternoon. (And husband wants to watch A Bridge Too Far with our kid.)

    4. matcha123*

      I also happened to watch that last night and also found it funny and cute! I was like “Is that Thor?” but it was his younger brother!

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      I was hoping to have a birdwatching outing or take a hike but it is still raining–and raining and raining–and flooding and slides have closed trails and roads. I’m definitely stir-crazy. On Sunday I’m looking forward to my friend and I attending an afternoon program on gratitude at the meditation center. That will be wonderful.

      1. Jane Smith*

        That sounds like my perfect weekend tbh. I like walking in the rain if it’s not cold too! It’s raining here and we’redue bad winds later so I think I’ll try to get out for a walk this afternoon.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I like walking in the rain, too. Not so good for bringing out the spotting scope for birds, though. The rain today has turned out to be light and the wind has settled down, so I think I’ll head out to the hills on the coast nearby this afternoon.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      My plan was to do some clothes shopping, but it’s snowing. I may venture out anyway, though, since it’s not supposed to be a big event anymore.

      I really need to buy some business wear/business casual for my new job, which I start on March 11. Luckily the new manager arranged lunch with my new team this week. I got a tour of the building while I was there so I got a sense as to how people dress, and it’s a mix of business/business casual. It’s going to be SO hard to go back to wearing business clothing after three months of jeans at the old job. (Bank was acquired and those of us that didn’t get job offers basically became very relaxed the last few months.) I have some business casual pants, so the plan is to stock up on tops.

      Other than clothes shopping, I really don’t have anything planned. I’ve only been out of work for a couple weeks and I’m SO bored! My big event is going to the gym every weekday. I would like to go look at gym equipment, so maybe I’ll do that while I’m out later. I plan to make a home gym and need to get more than just the kettle bells and dumbbells I have.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s snowing by you??? Oh crap, then it’s headed our way. A bit early isn’t it?

        1. The Other Dawn*

          It was supposed to start around midnight in CT, but when I got up around 2 am for the bathroom it hadn’t started yet. When I got up about two hours ago it seemed to have just started since there was only a coating. It’s coming down fast now, but small flakes, and we have a little over an inch I’d guess.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Thanks for the update.
            We are supposed to get one storm a day for the next three days. I put in my order for spring, but I think it got lost.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Captain Marvel!
      My husband hates crowds, I really want to see it before I get spoilers, and my daughter pushed to finish h er weekend homework on Friday night (YAY) ..so we bought tickets for the morning show. Turns out that’s a $6.50 early bird price too, which more than pays for the buy-online charge.
      Hoping this gets a big opening weekend to quiet the trolls, too.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Hi Alison – I’m SO hoping you delete this — somehow I was convinced that the show opened last night. IT’s NEXT WEEK. I have tickets for March 8 not for today. WHOOPS!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Well okay you know what I’ll be doing NEXT weekend. Instead, we watched a DVD and moved snow around.

    8. Marion Ravenwood*

      I went for a drink with some friends last night, then parkrun this morning. This afternoon I’m moving all my winter clothes back into storage, before going for dinner with friends tonight. Tomorrow I need to do a bit of side hustle work and tidying up at home.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Sounds like it’s a lot nicer weather where you are than here. I mean I like snow, but…

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          Yep – I’m in the UK and it’s actually been really mild here for the last 10 days or so. Which was nice, but not so much when you think about why it’s 20C in February (hello global warming…).

      2. PhyllisB*

        Don’t put all the winter stuff up yet. We live in the South (USA) and I was thinking about boxing up some of my heavier things, and guess what? It’s going to go down around 30F on Tuesday. To some of you that may not sound very cold to some of you, but around here, that’s pretty nippy.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My lawnmower, which they told me would take 2-3 weeks to come up in the lawnmower tuneup and maintenance queue, apparently was finished on Thursday morning (that’s four days after I dropped it off) so apparently I have to go pick that up this morning. Also need to do my grocery shopping and pick up a prescription. Nothing super fancy :)

      I think I might start painting my spare room this afternoon though. It needs to be done by the end of the month so I can get the stuff that goes in there moved out of the guest room before my parents come to visit. It’s a pretty small room and has been painted a charcoal grey-blue with dark wood trim, so it’s felt positively claustrophobic. I’m painting it a light moss green, and replacing the battered old trim with white, so that should lighten it up a lot.

      And then I have to work tomorrow. Yeehaw! :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I got halfway through the last (smallest) wall and ran out of paint in my tray :-P rather than pour more out, I decided to just wait and, when I do round two on Monday or so, finish the first coat and launch straight into the second. Very pleased with the outcome so far, the color is lovely and much more cheerful than previous.

    10. Overeducated*

      I need to clean my apartment and file some insurance paperwork. Both have been put off too long.

      Today probably going to see my sister in laws’ kids compete in their major extracurricular activity, since they have a meet 15 minutes away, but SIL still hasn’t gotten back to us with the time. Sigh.

      Otherwise, debating whether to ask my real estate agent to show us a new listed property, since homes sell fast here but I’m not sure we’ve fully resolved our questions about location. Basically, dealing with the realization that our budget means my commute will be over an hour, the schools will be so-so, and it will STILL feel like living in the suburbs and needing a car to get everywhere apart from work and school is kind of a bummer.

    11. Jaid*

      I’m still getting over my cold and just want to sleep in… But the rent’s gotta get paid, so cue me getting showered and dressed. Might take it a step further and driving to the grocery store…

      1. Jaid*

        Annnd I just realized the office is closed so I’m showered…and in pajamas again. I may go out later though.

    12. Miss Astoria Platenclear (formerly Waiting for the Sun)*

      I have big plans this weekend. I’m going to see the Chicago production of Hamilton. Going with family members, who are treating me. Excited and grateful.

    13. Jane Smith*

      So I was planning on going to a rope workshop this afternoon, but I went back to bed for a nap this morning because I didn’t get much sleep last night… And I massively overslept and missed it! I’m in the bath now and is nearly 3 p.m.
      Oops. Only got time to walk to the shops, and maybe buy a bag online instead ;)

        1. Jane Smith*

          Lol.
          It’s a tying peeps up BDSM kind of rope workshop:) A demo on how to do so safely, and practise-with-clothes-on workshop.

          1. Jaid*

            I figured it was either that or an exercise work-out using jump ropes.

            There’s a sex positive club in Tacony. Originally the neighbors were outraged, but as things progressed…well the club is still there, the neighbors chilled out and it turns out that people have better things to worry about in the neighborhood like opioid addiction and racist letters.

    14. cat socks*

      Currently trapped in bed with three cats. This is the first time all of them have been in such close proximity so I keep looking at them with googly eyes. One of them just started bathing the other. I might be stuck here all day.

    15. Slartibartfast*

      Big time slumber party fun. Got half a dozen teenage girls tee heeing in the basement.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      Not a lot–we’re expecting winter weather with snow to start tonight, 2-5 inches. I have everything I need except I forgot to top off my gas tank (still have half a tank). It’s supposed to be super cold too, so tomorrow may be a do-whatever day. I might bake something just to use the oven, haha.

    17. New Bee*

      We went to a Black History Month event–they had a career panel that was very cool. Going to a friend’s party and hopefully out to buy some pregnancy-friendly shoes tonight.

    18. PhyllisB*

      I have been trolling the internet for cars. My grand-daughter totaled her car last Wed. She hydroplaned and hit a tree. She’s fine, but the car….two that I found were sold before we got there, and the one we went and looked at was way over-priced for the condition it was in. In case you wonder why I’m doing this instead of her (she’s looking also) she’s only 17 and car was in my name so insurance issued payment to me. Wish us luck!!

  4. Grand Mouse*

    Mostly a vent but I am really stressed out! I’ve been hit with many extra bills for medical care (me and the cat) and I went into the ER yesterday so I’m dreading that bill. My paycheck was smaller than normal due to missing a day because of the snowstorm. I’ve also been trying to save up to see my fiance. In our 2 years together, we’ve only seen each other in person for week.

    (Minor aside but I also feel ugly recently due to face and hair stuff so I am really down in the dumps lately)

    Following up to a post I made a while ago about some gothy platform shoes at work, I decided against them and decided to get gold sneakers! Fila Disruptors if you want to look. They’re fun but pass at a casual office. I really recommend metallic shoes if you want to jazz up your look and be popular!

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      That sounds like a lot of life coming at you all at once. I’m sending you good wishes for the coming week!

    2. Frustrated S.O.*

      I’m not sure why, but January and February are always tough months financially.
      I’m hit with my auto insurance bill, heating oil, taxes and I broke a tooth and needed an unexpected crown. I don’t know if it’s just winter or timing, but it sucks.

      1. Grand Mouse*

        The winter certainly doesn’t help! There’s a lot of expenses at the start of the year, more likely to get sick, costs related to any bad weather etc

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I feel for you too, because you never know when a kitty gets sick and needs the vet. This can be as much as your own doctor visit.

    3. LGC*

      First of all, best wishes! (And I’m really hoping you’ll be fine at your job for the ER thing. You should be, though!)

      You’re also tempting me to buy some loud sneakers for work. I’m…slightly adventurous (my boss has not yelled at me yet for wearing maroon Pumas, gray Chucks, and Vans MTEs to work – in my defense, the Chucks are leather, and the other two are suede), but…you know what, I’m probably going to end up buying a pair.

      I will probably be posting in the open thread in the next couple of weeks about what to do when your boss tells you that you’re a role model and you can’t wear gold Filas to work on a day that’s not Friday, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

  5. Not Yet A Parent*

    I’m wondering what people with a pool would recommend for safety rules for kids and also pool safety features are good ideas. Or really any suggestions welcome! My spouse and I are applying to adopt an older child or siblings from DSS and our home has an in-ground pool. We don’t currently have any kids (other than fur babies) so I’m wondering what types of pool rules parents have for kids of various ages. Right now the fence around the pool goes up to the house but there are multiple sliding glass doors that exit to the backyard directly. I’m planning to sign up the child(ren) for swim lessons, looking at lifesaver flotation rings/a shepherds hook and probably will add a second fence around just the pool area. I’m thinking that rules would be 1- no swimming without an adult present 2- no running in the pool area 3- no diving from the shallow end. I feel like I’m sure that it will probably also depend on the child specifically and maybe their age/maturity level. I don’t know if it matters but I’m not sure if the child we adopt will be any age from 6 years to a teenager. We are so excited as well as a bit terrified! Life is about to change a lot! It’s going to challenging and also rewarding.

    1. Pool kid*

      Rules I had (I knew how to swim well, until then I guess I was always with floaters and my parents), No food, drinks (especially glass glasses) or running around the pool (hard surface that got slippery), no going into the pool without warning an adult first, no head first diving (obvious, considering the depth), keeping the noise/splashing reasonable, and drying off before going inside. Oh, and no touching the pool chemicals in the shed.
      We had floating fries and water guns, a few lighter balls and that’s it.

      The dog kept away from the pool so nothing to worry about there.
      I also had to keep an eye on baby bro (floaters belt until 6-7yo I think), we usually went together or not at all if parents weren’t in the garden until I was 10. If parents were out of the house, no pool until I was 13, and no pool with friends unless there was an adult around unless the friend was really familiar to my parents until I was 15 (and never more than 5 friends or so).

      The most important thing is teaching the kid to swim, to tell and keep it to daylight hours, and making sure they realize that hitting their head is dangerous, and being reasonable with ‘holding your breath’ games. As pool protection goes, a stiff roll-on cover worked very well for us (barriers don’t stop a determined kid over 5 years old).

    2. Rebecca*

      Maybe I’m a bit over the top, but I’d insist that access to the pool be locked. Even obedient and smart kids break rules some times, and this is a learning opportunity you don’t want!

      Also check liability laws in your area for what other access needs to be locked. In the town I was in on Canada, for example, if a neighbour kid got in, even without permission, and drowned, you could be on the hook. We had to be sort of mean about the neighbors playing on our climbing frame when we weren’t home in case one of them fell off.

      1. Mary Connell*

        There are special child-proof locks for sliding doors for exactly this scenario. A locksmith should know about them, I assume.

        1. just a random teacher*

          And keep in mind, as you set up your locks, that you want something that will keep little kids out but which will also let you, as an adult, get that door/fence/barrier open REALLY QUICKLY if a kid does get into the pool despite your preventative steps and you need to go in after them. (Also, elementary-age kids have feet that fit nicely into chain link fences and can climb those suckers really easily. Adults, not so much.)

          For me, I have a little pin that goes through the top of my sliding door’s frame to help slow down small children who want to get into the pool area rather than a key lock on that door (there’s also the regular latch lock on the sliding door, but that wouldn’t stop anyone from exiting), but I don’t have children of my own so it’s a case of trying to deter other people’s toddlers from ending up in the pool area when they’re visiting my house. It wouldn’t keep a determined small child willing to shove furniture around to get up that high and then figure out how to rotate the pin away from the pool, but it’s in a high traffic area of the house and for my situation it’s a good balance between keeping kids out of the pool while letting me, as an adult, out that door and into the pool quickly in an emergency.

          1. valentine*

            There are special child-proof locks for sliding doors
            I wouldn’t lock any necessary entrance/exit. You may be unconscious or otherwise unavailable when the child needs to escape a threat.

            Keeping the pool covered when not in use should prevent most injuries. I might go overboard with one adult per child or two adults always (one on guard duty, one who is also in the pool or can go into the house or take smaller children in to use the bathroom). If not in the pool, everyone stays in a particular section.

            1. child safety is hard*

              This kind of depends on the age and personality of the child. It’s reasonably normal to child-proof all exit doors when kids are really little (like, toddler age) to keep them from getting out the front door to play in the street as well as out the back door to play in the pool. This is particularly true if your particular child has shown a tendency to try and let themselves out to wander off. (I’m thinking mostly of my cousin’s particular kid here – he was a very busy bee at around 3, and would take off running in any direction that looked interesting without any regard for things like traffic or how far away adults were. He’s settled down a lot as he grew up a bit.)

              Once they’re old enough that that particular kid is less likely to wander off in an unsafe way like that, you dial that stuff back so that in case of things like fire they could exit without you. It’s a tough balancing act that depends on the individual kid.

              The thing that worries me about pool covers is that if someone does manage to get into a pool with a pool cover on, it’s much less safe than a pool without a cover since they can’t easily surface for air. I’d imagine that most kids that can figure out a door latch can also figure out how to unhook part of an anchored cover, and I’d worry that one of them might decide to only unhook part rather than all of it at that point.

    3. Anona*

      We don’t have a pool, but we were talking last night about how our rule when our daughter is around water is that she’ll always wear a lifejacket until she can swim confidently, and must put it on before she’s even near the water. It sounds like the kids you’re talking about are older, but my husband almost drowned at the beach when he was 2 or 3. It was when they first arrived one day, and he just ran in. His family didn’t even see him, and a passerby had to grab him after he’d already swallowed water.

      So I’d say swim lessons may also be huge.

      1. Anona*

        Also, congratulations on this foray into parenting! That’s wonderful, and I hope many good things for your family.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      A solid cover that can be secured might be in order… and motion alarm sensors in the water.
      Kids can be taught to avoid dangerous situations, depending on their age and temperament. With kids who did not grow up with you, there will be a lot of learning curves. Being “over safe” may be sensible.
      I would recommend phrasing the safety lessons so that they are YES messages, not NO ones. “We walk near the pool to avoid slipping” “Food and drinks near the pool need to be on the plastic food dishes, and always when sitting at the table.”
      Also, check with DSS. I bet they have guidelines for pool safety.
      Congratulations and enjoy the adventure!

      1. Not Yet A Parent*

        Thanks! I’m going to research motion sensors. I hadn’t heard of them before.
        We did ask DSS and they had general suggestions but didn’t know for sure what the inspector would require. DSS had a three page sheet for most of home that was very specific but there was not a pool section on the list. The safety inspection is this month so we will find out soon.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      No somersaults off the side of the pool. A friend did that and hit the concrete and wow that was a lot of blood.
      She needed stitches and was fine after that… the whole pool had to close for more chlorine or something.

    6. Book Lover*

      I understand the age of the child may be variable, but personally I think you need safety locks at minimum and potentially alarmed doors and pool.

      We have a fence around the pool – check your insurance and consider the attractive nuisance issues. We also have a lock on the only door to the back that requires a key that is kept in a separate spot.

      1. L’il Sebastian*

        I would be surprised if locks and an alarm weren’t a requirement when the home check is done for the adoption, so I second this. Many comments here are talking about what their house rules are/were with pools, but this is also about the legal requirements since your home must pass a safety check before an adoption will be approved.

    7. Epsilon Delta*

      The number one rule my parents had was that you do not ever, EVER say help unless you actually need it. If my friends or I said help while playing a game (unless it was in the context of a full sentence, like “help me find the toy”) we were kicked out of the pool.

      Swimming lessons and adult supervision were also mandatory until I was a teenager. And when I was old enough (twelve?) I had to help with the pool maintenance – mostly vaccuming and sifting stuff off the top.

      1. Nynaeve*

        Yes! I’m still a little salty about having to get a new cell phone years ago because my cell phone was in my pocket when I jumped into the pool to save a girl I was nannying who didn’t actually need to be saved. (To be fair, it was an old Nokia, so I probably needed a new phone anyway.)

        If they want to play at being rescued, they can have an innocuous code word so everyone knows nothing serious is happening. When my dad was a lifeguard as a teen, it was “lemon drop.” You could say that and the lifeguard could practice their rescue technique while knowing no one was really drowning (and the person got the thrill of being fake rescued).

    8. Someone Else*

      The agency will give you specific requirements around your pool to be completed for the home study. Is the fence you mentioned specifically a poolsafety fence? Or just a fence around your yard? Around here the pool needs either a hard cover or a fence that’s at least 4 feet tall that is self-latching (ie if you let it close behind you it will latch). That needs to surround the pool. So if the slider opens directly to the pool area, your pool doesn’t count as fenced currently. A motion sensor alarm in the water in some places is allowed in lieu of fencing or cover. Although I’ve heard animals can set those off so while they’re less expensive they can be annoying. Usually the regulations are not so much to make it impossible for a child to get at the pool without an adult, but making it difficult for the child to accidentally get to the pool. The actual regulations vary by locale, so it’s hard to give definite advice on requirements, but the agency will tell you.

      In terms of just house rules:
      No swimming alone. Ever. (not meaning 2 people in the pool necessarily but another person must be in the pool area)
      No running.
      No diving (and your agency might require you to have a no diving sign up too)
      No glass.

      Making sure they’ve had swim lessons and that floaties are around is good too.

    9. Sam Carter*

      I’m not a parent and I’ve never owned a pool, so I can’t pretend to know about that, but I have had friends with foster kids and some of those experiences are relevant. Many of the kids are completely “normal” but others may be coming out of traumatic situations. It’s critical to keep that in mind whether you’re talking about swimming lessons or other activities. Age is a factor as well. If your newly adopted kid is reluctant to try swimming lessons, maybe it’s not about swimming at all. Maybe being unclothed in a swimsuit during a private lesson with an unfamiliar adult reminds them of other trauma. I’m not trying to say you’re kid will have issues, I don’t know that, but it’s so important to listen to the child and hear the message behind their words or actions. If you can, try to let them have choice or control of some aspects of the lesson. That could help with them rebelling just because they are so fed up with having their lives so monitored, controlled, and changed at someone else’s whim.

    10. neverjaunty*

      Congratulations!

      Get a good pool alarm. In addition to a fence, safety rules, etc., it will let you know if anyone (or even an animal) falls into the pool.

    11. Jenny F. Scientist*

      Just as a general water and play rule we have for our kids: no playing games that are unsafe/ that the other person doesn’t want to play. So that rules out holding other people under, etc. (Generally applicable to life!)

    12. Anonymoss*

      I’m not a parent, but I am a childcare provider and extremely cautious about water safety. I agree with locked fences and other security measures. When children are in the pool itself, especially young children or ones that are not yet proficient swimmers, an adult needs to be designated to be watching the kids- this means NOT on their phones, reading, gabbing, or drinking.

      Good luck with your adoption journey!

      1. Not Yet A Parent*

        Thank you! Adults definitely need to not to be distracted when kids are playing around water.

    13. Indie*

      I would assume that any rules are going to be broken. Older kids who you didn’t raise are going to be rules breakers. Their guests are going to be new to the rules. I would rely on locks/covers etc far more than rules. I am teaching a lovely boy who set off his grandmother’s panic alarm just to see what would happen, days after being told it would summon both cops and paramedics.
      We had a young toddler guest fall into my parent’s pond hours after explaining the hazard to everyone, including her parents, and blocking off the path to it. She went for it through some flower beds because water + child = magnet. Luckily we were all right there and it was shallow enough for her to get a footing. Id personally keep it covered/drained while you learn more about the kid and they learn more about rules. Not to mention that many looked-after children are going to be weird about nudity, water and defiance.
      It’s super exciting though. Another of my students had a vile early childhood and has blossomed with his new family.

      1. Not Yet A Parent*

        Thank you! Good points. Even kids you did raise are going to break rules. Becoming parents is exciting and scary at the same time. So glad the toddler was ok!

    14. Middle School Teacher*

      Have you checked with your city? There are probably very specific safety regulations you will have to follow that are clearer or better than anything we could suggest. A quick google search for my city says that any home with a pool has to have a fenced yard with a lockable gate and that the pool itself also must be surrounded by a fence, minimum height 6 feet, also a lockable gate. The gates must able to be alarmed, the pool cover has to be designed for the pool, can be secured and alarmed (so you can’t just throw a tarp on the pool).

      As far as swimming rules I think you’re on the right track, but as Rebecca says above, it’s a thing in Canada (at least parts of Canada) that if a child drowns in your pool you can be on the hook for that, so better safe than sorry.

    15. Vincaminor*

      Unless the pool is truly dinky, I’d suggest a reach pole along each side, so there’s one always to hand. Ring buoy with attached rope at the deeper end. If it’s a ladder in and out, rules about always facing the ladder climbing it. No jumping/diving unless it’s at least 1.5 meters deep (5 feet), or the depth of their whole body with arms stretched up. Nth the fence around the pool with locked gate when you’re not home. And yeah, learning to swim and almost more importantly, float and tread water.
      (Am lifeguard. I may be hyper vigilant, but no one drowned from being over prepared!)

      1. Quandong*

        One final recommendation: get a large, easily read, outdoor sign with the steps for how to resuscitate, and attach it to the pool fence / where everyone can see it.

        Even people who haven’t learned how to resuscitate can follow these signs when necessary to save a life.

    16. Sami*

      Growing up, my sister and I frequently played with a neighbor friend who had a pool. Her parents found a sign somewhere and immediately put it up. “Welcome to our ool. You’ll notice it has no p in it. Please keep it that way.”

    17. Nana*

      Remove the diving board. I didn’t realize it, too, was a kid magnet. In the shallow end with an adult friend and three kids…looked up and the fourth kid [a non-swimmer, aged 5] was bouncing on the diving board. [Happily, we walked back to dry land when asked…and DH took the board off that day.]

  6. GMN*

    This weekend I am prepping our apartment for sale as my boyfriend and I bought a house! We have a photographer coming Monday so it needs to be spotless by then. Just had a look at the other comparable apartments on the market here and got a little scared…any tips on selling and styling for a sale would be welcome!

    1. Not Yet A Parent*

      That’s exciting! Congratulations! I’d suggest taking any personal photos down and generally decluttering and cleaning. Have beds made, put any bathroom sink items out of sight (hairspray, makeup etc).

      1. StellaBella*

        Me Echo this – stage it as a model home – remove all personal stuff, all clutter, clear off all surfaces, leave one vase with fake flowers in a space/on a table as a centre piece. Clear off literally all surfaces and if you can make the storage in like cupboards in kitchen sparse (same for closets, etc). dust and clean everything – including closet floors and shelves, and tops of doors and frames, tops of bookshelves etc. if you have curtains, get them cleaned or wash them and iron them – or if you have blinds clean them well in the shower and rehang them. Scrub the floors (vacuum) and baseboards and dust the coving on ceiling if you have it. Do the windows inside and out. When I staged my house for sale I had the carpets cleaned as well as all of the above, and got new nice house plants in lovely pots (3 of them, placed to make the place look inviting). Finally also, air the place out or keep a window cracked open a bit if possible, to keep air flow going in the place, to make it welcoming and not stale. If you have a balcony or outside spaces clean the balcony floor/tiles, railings, etc and organise/clear off the furniture too. Good luck and yay for your new house – so exciting!

        1. Lcsa99*

          I also agree with opening a window and letting in fresh air BEFORE you have any possible buyers see it, but do not leave it open while they are there. It is March – if you have a window open in the middle of winter they will worry that you are trying to hide something – musty carpet smells, smokers in other apartments , or even in yours. It was something we worried about every time we saw open windows.

      2. Lcsa99*

        Actually I disagree. Do get rid of clutter but don’t take down personal photos. It makes it easier for the buyers to see themselves in a place that is more homey than in something that looks like a showroom. I wouldn’t leave enough up that the wall is essentially papered with photos, but don’t sanitize it of all personal touches.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          When my family sold my mother’s house, the realtors suggested art&photos that don’t show people. So they picture _themselves_ there instead of wondering about the people in the pictures.

          1. Marion Ravenwood*

            On that note, I’d suggest nothing with names or other identifying features either – nameplates on kids’ bedroom doors, any sort of artwork featuring birthdays/wedding dates/previous addresses etc.

        2. Marion Ravenwood*

          Agreed. I think there can be a level of personal stuff that’s too much – so not covering every square inch of space in knick-knacks or family pictures – but I wouldn’t remove absolutely all of it. When we were looking at houses, being able to see what it would actually look like as a home and how to use the space was massively helpful, and the personal touches helped with that.

    2. Brandy*

      Take out as much furniture as you can. Put it in closets or a storage unit. Clear all surfaces. This means tucking your microwave, coffee maker, toaster etc in a cabinet or closet.

      Take down all personal photos. Empty bookshelves except for a few decorative books.

      When we sold our first house (1000 sq ft, 2 BRs), we put an arm chair, two end tables, the top to our kitchen hutch, one of our two dressers and about 15 boxes of stuff (books, liquor, rarely used kitchen tools and appliances, off season clothes, seasonal decor etc) in storage. The photos came out amazing. Nobody could see that the dog bowls and bed were stuffed into a closet, that the microwave and toaster were hidden in an upper cabinet etc. made the whole house look enormous. FWIW sold in 2 days ;).

    3. Not A Manager*

      Seconding advice to remove personalizing touches. Buyers want to see their family in the house, not your family.

      When you live in a home, unless it’s some kind of super-architectural gem, pretty naturally the house recedes to become a background for your stuff – your art, your furniture, your tchotchkes, your clutter. When you stage, you want to reverse this. Everything in the space should be a foil for the space itself. You need just enough furniture in each room to convey the purpose of the room. Just enough art that the room looks inviting. Etc.

      Remove as many side tables, poofs, throw pillows as possible and then add back only enough to make the room look pretty.

      Clean out cabinets and closets as much as possible. Leave just enough stuff to convey the use of the space – literally one pretty bottle of olive oil, two cans of fancy tomatoes, and a box of pasta is enough for a small cupboard. Remove half your clothes from the closet, put all your remaining clothes on matching hangers, and sort them by color. It sounds bananas, but it looks great.

      The effect is that people subtly imagine that if they move in, THEIR lives will be well-organized and uncluttered. It makes a difference.

      1. ThursdayEveningChild*

        Yeah, when I was house hunting and saw clutter and personal stuff I always wondered whether they were serious about selling. But tricks like warming cinnamon in the oven to make it smell like apple pie and leaving a favorite recipe card in a holder on the counter were great touches in houses. Is there a better equivalent for a city apartment? Generic pretty things displayed and hung, not personal photos.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I am not a storage unit person for general life stuff, but this is a time it makes sense. Nothing makes your home appear uncluttered quite like hiding all the clutter in a separate location.

      1. just a random teacher*

        A storage unit also lets you keep anything of sentimental value out of harm’s way while your house is being shown. In general, you should not have anything in your house that you would be devastated to have broken or stolen while your house is being shown. Particularly think about anything fragile and attractive to children not being around if it’s something you care about. (It’s fine to keep something fragile that you don’t care about, like a non-sentimental vase with flowers in it, on display if it helps stage the house, just make sure it’s something that you won’t be upset to lose if something happens.)

  7. Ruth (UK)*

    I was thinking about how fears (often irrational) of certain animals develop, especially recently as I have a fear that doesn’t seem to be that common in the UK (dogs) but also am not afraid of certain things many people don’t like (snakes, spiders, ‘creepy crawlies’ in general).

    For me, for dogs, I think it’s partly lack of positive interaction as a child with dogs. My dad is quite allergic, and also generally not keen on dogs, and my mother had an aggressive family dog as a kid, and is wary. None of my close friends had dogs. So, through witnessing my parents’ behaviour around them and not getting much interaction myself, I think it became a fear. I have a few instances where dogs have jumped up at me as a kid etc and I was very scared (my mother cites one time in particular where I was knocked down, after which I became much more actively afraid, though I don’t specifically remember it myself). While most kids will get a dog jump at them at some (or various) point(s), I think for me it was also that it was in the context of me also not having any other (more positive) interactions. I’m not deathly afraid of them as an adult, but I am definitely nervous. I will generally never pet a dog, and if approached by an off-lead dog, I usually stand still and don’t look at it, and hope it goes away.

    I know 3 other people personally who are afraid of dogs. One was attacked (badly) as a child. The other 2 are from India, and one of them said to me that when she came across dogs in India, they were typically stray and possibly rabid, and that’s affected how she feels about dogs.

    Now… my parents had a pond in the garden when I was a kid, which attracted frogs – and also an occasional grass snake. My mother loves frogs, and also likes snakes. I used to catch frogs (and re-release them) a lot as a kid. To this day, seeing a frog will make my react like “awww” (ie. I feel they are very cute) and wanting to hold it – though these days I usually don’t unless it’s in a position where I feel I need to move it (eg. I had one in my tent one morning when I woke up last summer). I feel fairly neutral on the topic of spiders (we don’t have venomous ones here. I would feel different I guess about one that could hurt me. But the appearance/look of them doesn’t scare me. Same for snakes).

    I recently had a dog jump repeatedly at me while I stood very still and stiff, and said to the owner “sorry, I’m afraid of dogs”. “Oh she won’t hurt you!” the owner said cheerfully, not restraining the dog. It made me wish I could carry about a tarantula and put it on people and say “oh it won’t hurt you!” cheerfully back. Of course, I wouldn’t really do this (partly out of concern for injury to the spider).

    Also, I saw an off-lead dog go into a field of donkeys yesterday when I was out walking at lunch time. It jumped up at one and all the animals in the field (about 7 donkeys, and 2 horses) immediately WENT for the dog in full gallop. For the dog’s sake, I’m glad it got out of the field, but I hope the owner will learn to keep it on a lead around other animals like that. There have been some incidents recently with dogs and sheep in the local news… (also, the donkeys were LOUD as they went after the dog.)

    1. Sandy*

      I have a lot of sympathy for your Indian colleagues. I am a huge lover of dogs— in a North America and sometimes Europe. In the other places I have lived, non-domesticated dogs are usually rabid and the domesticated ones are trained to guard the house and go for the throat. Not a fan!

    2. Eleanor Rigby*

      Also UK…lots of people have a fear of dogs. It’s actually quite common so not as unusual as you think. At least a third of children are, and most likely, a significant amount of them will have it in adulthood also.

      1. WakeUp!*

        Yes, this is very mysterious to me. Many many people are afraid of dogs. It’s unclear if Ruth’s fear rises to a phobia, but if it does she wouldn’t be alone. It’s well-documented as one of the most common animal phobias.

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          I don’t think mine is a phobia. In fact, I think it’s maybe not even in the category of full fear but more a nervousness/wariness. I’m not blanket afraid of all dogs no matter what, but afraid when being approached by a dog I don’t know, especially when it’s not on a lead. It’s enough that I might make small adjustments to my behaviour in the moment, like pausing if I was out running, or giving a wider berth but not enough that I would adjust large parts of my behaviour / routine, like a avoiding whole areas / parks. I feel worried but not panicked.

    3. Lady Jay*

      I recently had a dog jump repeatedly at me while I stood very still and stiff, and said to the owner “sorry, I’m afraid of dogs”. “Oh she won’t hurt you!” the owner said cheerfully, not restraining the dog.

      Oh, I’m afraid of dogs (which is as weird in the US, where I live, as the UK) & this happens to me too. What’s also irritating is something that happened last fall, when I was out on a run: two big dogs (but fluffy, they weren’t mastiffs or Rottweilers or anything) ran up to me and in front of me. I stopped & stood still, hoped the neighbor would call off his dog–but he stood there, calling to them from the porch, and they didn’t come!.

      What bothers me about this is that dogs are so popular in the UK/US that people seem to forget they can do great harm, even unintentionally (I was knocked over as a child by a dog trying to play with me) and as a consequence, people don’t take proper precautions to monitor how their dogs interact with people, by leashing and/or training effectively. It’s assumed that the dog’s comfort in not being leashed & getting to run in the woods outweighs whatever minimal discomforts other people who don’t want to be jumped on feel, or it’s assumed that of course everybody wants to see and play with your dog!! Neither assumption is really accurate.

      (Now, I happened upon a couple walking two puppies over Christmastime recently & got to pet the puppies. I will take more of those dog interactions, please!)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It bothers me a LOT when other dog owners dismiss fears. It doesn’t matter if my dog is friendly or the goodest boy who ever lived, if you’re scared, you’re scared. I appreciate it very much when people say, “I’m afraid of dogs” before we pass, because it gives me the opportunity to hold him off to the side, or give you a wider berth, or whatever, and it makes the interaction as calm as possible. My partner once chastised me for telling a scared child that I was holding on tight to my dog, because my partner thought that reinforced the fear, but I thought it was more important in the moment to reassure the kid, not try to fix him. But I have seen so many instances of, “Oh, but he’s so friendly!” and it doesn’t matter one iota to them that another dog may not be friendly, or may be leash-reactive, or that a person might be afraid.

        1. Anonforthis*

          Not to mention that many dogs have guarding instincts, so while they may be friendly to the OWNER, they may see other people as a threat.

        2. just a random teacher*

          I am so tired of the “but my dog is friendly” people. I have an elderly basset hound. She is a wonderful dog, but her vision and hearing aren’t great and her back will hurt if a dog jumps on her. She does not want to play with your dog, and she will nip at your dog if she gets startled or hurt by it. We walk her on-leash and do not take her to the clearly-lableled off-leash area. If we are stopped at the side of the trail with our dog on a very short leash, it is because we know OUR dog is not friendly for casual park encounters and I do not care that YOUR dog sees every creature on earth as a friend they haven’t met yet. (She does have doggy friends! We introduce them very carefully, with lots of chances for her to use her excellent sense of smell to figure out what is going on and not be surprised even if her vision and hearing aren’t giving her a lot of info, and not as random off-leash park encounters.)

        3. Venus*

          Agreed so much. “My dog is friendly” often doesn’t acknowledge that the dog may be slobbery, shedding a lot of fur, or dirty. I don’t want them rubbing up against me, or – even worse – jumping up! I have had large dogs run their head along my pants and had a wet slobbery spot for an hour.

          I have a dog who is friendly, in the way that he often ignores people but if there is a chance of food he’ll sit near them and look sad. So I know that this dog will not touch them, unless of course the person initiates (in which case he loves being pet). Yet I think it’s important to always respect other people’s space more than my dog’s. I wish more people felt this way!

      2. Bagpuss*

        It’s so rude and inconsiderate of people to let their dogs jump up on anyone
        – even if you aren’t afraid, not everyone will want to be jumped at, for a variety of reasons. I mean, I may not want to be jumped at because I don’t want muddy paw prints on my clothes, or for any number of other reasons.
        – if you are scared it’s irrelevant whether the owner thinks the dog won’t hurt you, both because fears are often irrational (I mean, I am terrified of ants, and they definitely can’t harm me ) and because they are often wrong – the dog which bit me did so as it’s owner assured me that it was friendly and wouldn’t hurt me, (and after I had asked them to please call it off)

        I think “please call your dog off” can sometimes be more effective that “I’m scared of dogs,” because it’s clear wht they need to do rather than why you want them to do it.

        1. Sam I Am*

          I was attacked by a dog I knew in a house I’m familiar with. I love dogs, but unknown, off leash dogs currently cause me to panic. I really like the language of “Please call your dog off,” as it puts the action on the owner; hopefully it means that I can hear the reassurance about how great their dog is after they have it under control.

          1. Venus*

            I occasionally meet up with dog owners who can’t read their dog’s body language when it threatens my dog (growling and snapping – sometimes people don’t see this as problematic, but I know that if my dog starts to growl then it’s his way of telling them that he’s unhappy and is preparing to defend himself).

            I use the wording “Please take your dog away now” and they usually look surprised and start walking away. It’s not great for initiating a conversation, but if they aren’t able to read obvious cues then I’m not keen to chat with them.

            The expression “call your dog off” isn’t prevalent here, and might confuse the situation as the owner might not know what to do. “Take your dog away” removes any ambiguity for me.

      3. Lissa*

        Yes, I agree especially with your third paragraph.. I understand that online it’s fun and trendy to say things like “all doggos are good bois!” and “dogs are better than humans!” but this shouldn’t translate to not taking people’s fears seriously or acting like they are monsters if they don’t like dogs. Or cats! Or anything really! The “I don’t trust people who dislike Thing I Love” is something people say casually but I think sometimes it does start to really permeate. Most animal mistreatment is committed by people who own pets, not random strangers who are scared of dogs, so that’s not really a reason to act like that either.

    4. Washi*

      I’m the same way! I had all kinds of little critters as pets as a kid and would often go out to catch worms and frogs, so I’m not afraid of rodents or creepy crawlies the way most people are.

      But I had limited exposure to dogs and on an instinctive level cannot tell the difference between an unfriendly or friendly bark. I don’t mind the jumping as much as I mind a dog galloping up to me while barking. I wonder if it is difficult to train a dog not to do that? I’ve had an issue more often in rural areas where the dogs are just running around off leash more often, and the dogs I see in the city seem less bark-y.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This makes me wonder if a dog training center could offer a “scareless exposure” event, with only a few cuddle-loving sedate dogs on hand to meet. Maybe just puppies and the ones trained & certified for hospital therapy visits. Teach nervous people how to run a trained dog through her tricks, watch some silly agility games, and if they’re comfortable enough, walk a dog who knows how to heel. Maybe even an “advanced” session with a friendly but bouncy dog so people can learn how to behave to get them to back off.
      I DID grow up with dogs, but I’ve been badly scared by crazy dogs off leash so I can sympathize. Would any of these ideas be something any of you would be interested in?

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        For me, not really. It’s not that I don’t think dogs can be lovely and when it’s a dog I know, it’s fine. But with strangers’ dogs, I have no way of knowing what they’re like, and stuff. I had a (not sure about breeds – maybe retriever?) bite onto my sleeve a few years ago and shake it all around. There are individual dogs I have liked, but I don’t think I’ll ever be happy with an unknown dog. I also am a morris dancer and when out in the kit recently (eg. bells on shins) a dog started barking and growling at me. This is not an uncommon reaction…

        The only thing that would truly help me would be for me to be able to know that if someone has let their dog off the lead, it’s because the dog is well trained enough that it’s fine – that it’ll come when called, and won’t jump up uninvited. However, in my experience this extremely -not- the case

        It’s not even about size. I have a friend with a very friendly and well trained Rottweiler, and another who, until recently, had a Great Dane – both of which I was perfectly happy to be around eg. when visiting their home. It’s about the unpredictable nature of a dog where I don’t know the owner and don’t know how well the dog is trained and what it’s been taught is ok and not-ok behaviour with humans.

        I think what you suggest would be fine if I had a truly extreme fear/phobia where I was scared just to be near -any- dog no matter what… to overcome that. But I mean, I still run in public places / parks where I know people will have dogs. I don’t freak out / panic when one approaches me, I just don’t like how unpredictable they are repeatedly proven to be (every time I start to think they might be ok after all, I witness another dog-thing somewhere that makes me go ‘nope, never mind’)

        1. Argh!*

          You might benefit from spending time with a behaviorist at a dog park. Ask them to point out body language cues in the dogs around you. There are specific signs that would signal danger, and others that fearful people misinterpret as danger signs. It might help you not be as triggered in the future.

          1. anonagain*

            It sounds to me like the dog owners are the ones who need dog behavior consultations, not Ruth. It doesn’t much matter if the dog that was jumping on her was friendly, she still has a right to not have a dog jumping on her. That is a failure on the part of the owner who has a responsibility to keep their dog under control in public places.

            I am a dog lover through and through and I can’t stand when people let their dogs off leash. I’ve seen dogs chase wildlife and each other. I’ve seen owners distraught because their dogs ran away. I’ve also nearly been knocked over by off-leash dogs, because I have a balance disorder and I am unsteady on my feet. On one memorable walk, the only reason I didn’t topple over when a dog carrying a branch ran into me was because an elderly friend was walking with me and she took the brunt of the hit.

            I saw a discussion once about dog phobias among a group of service dog handlers. Someone said something very insightful: she said that when she meets someone who is afraid of dogs, she never tries to convince them to like or trust her dog. Instead she tries to communicate that she understands that they are afraid and that they can trust her. A big part of that is showing that she has full control of her dog and that she isn’t going to force the person to interact with the dog.

            I think that’s the piece that’s so often missing in these interactions. Dog owners often want to make other people like their dog. They tell you that she’s friendly, when they’d really be better off saying, “Oh, you’re afraid/allergic/don’t like dogs? No problem. I have her on a leash and I will keep her right at my side so you don’t have to go near her.”

            1. fposte*

              Oh, this is a really good comment, anon. I really like the observations that dog owners want people to like their dogs, and that that’s what drives the interactions.

              I was scared of cats as a kid because of unfamiliarity and an early interaction with one of those cats who bites you when he’s tired of the petting he sought out. It’s true that what changed me is getting to know cats and understanding their behavior better, so they were no longer unpredictable to me. But if tons of people had dropped their cats on me saying that they were friendly I doubt that that would have helped things.

            2. Reba*

              So many dog owners seem have serious blind spots about their pets’ behavior/level of training, and sometimes like an emotional or ego thing about people liking the dog, too?

              And even if your dog is perfectly trained and never bites or jumps or whatever, even if she is the friendliest creature on earth — I don’t know that! I don’t know you or your dog from Adam! Finally, the friendliness of your dog in no way obligates me to enjoy being near it!

              (I love dogs and can’t wait until I can have one.)

              It really bugs me when people in my own family let their dogs off leash where they shouldn’t, because other people using these parks should be able to go about without being molested by 70 pound mutts who are very happy to see them, or worrying about the dogs or changing their route to avoid possible interaction.

        2. Book Lover*

          I think this is perfectly normal – if a person has a dog off leash in the US outside of areas where off leash is allowed, why would you trust them to have appropriately trained their dogs? Being concerned in that situation is normal. People shouldn’t have their dogs off leash in random locations and people who don’t love dogs shouldn’t have to hire a dog behaviorist in order to figure out how much danger they are in. I have small kids – i don’t take chances.

          1. tangerineRose*

            I love dogs and grew up with them, but I’m still cautious around dogs I don’t know. I think that’s just common sense. Some dog owners are careless about their dogs. I think learning more about dog body language and the body language a human should and shouldn’t use around dogs can be helpful, since we can’t fix careless owners.

          2. Sally Forth*

            A friend of mine was knocked over by a dog when she was out running. She went into a deep ditch and was quite badly injured. She did not have her dogs with her. Although she wasn’t terrified of dogs after that, she noticed that her dogs would get really nervous and protective when they were around other dogs with her, and NOT when they were with her husband. A trainer said her dogs were perceptive enough to sense her fear and helped her through it.

        3. Lady Jay*

          I’d add that while these ideas are good for full-blown phobias, as Ruth mentions, it’s important not to put all the burden of change on the person who doesn’t like dogs. It’s courteous and responsible for dog owners to step up to the plate and take the proper precautions, such as leashing and training.

          Like Ruth, my discomfort around dogs isn’t so much a phobia of the creatures as the unpredictability of the situation; and any discomfort is greatly lessened if the dog is (say) leashed. From my understanding, dogs prefer knowing what’s happening in a situation too, and may feel more comfort with a leash, especially if there are other dogs in the area.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      You have a good handle on the chain of events that built your fear of dogs. This is how we get many of our fears, someone plants a seed, the idea gets reinforced and sometimes something scary happens that reinforces everything.

      I have heard a few people say, “Oh, I need to be quiet, I don’t want to plant seeds in that person’s head.” One time was my aunt taking her daughter for swim lessons. She wanted her daughter to grow up without being loaded up with fears. My cousin did fine in the water. My aunt who was viewing from the sidelines, not so much.

      For me it was big trucks in heavy traffic. My mother had been rear ended by a cement mixer before I was born. Every time we were in traffic and there was a big truck she would gasp. Every. single. time. Fast forward, I was 20 and I was afraid of big trucks in heavy traffic. It took me on into my 40s to quit tensing up.

      But you are so right, we teach each other. I got bit by my own dog when I was 5. I already knew the dog and loved her. My parents yelled at the dog then yelled at me. She was in time out for three days. (She had plenty of food and water and she was let outside,but she was not allowed to hang out with us.) I ended up feeling sorry for the dog. I got through that because I had so many people around me role modeling positive relationships with dogs.
      From there I developed strong opinions about handling dogs basically because of my parents’ missteps. We go out into public and my dogs are not allowed to even touch other people or their belongings without my permission. That’s a little strict but we don’t help others to feel safe if we don’t control our animals. And animals won’t have positive interactions with people when the animal has bad behavior. I do enjoy seeing my dogs have a happy exchange with other people.

      Now if there is a frog or a snake around, I am so done. I caught my dog playing with a frog. I somehow found it in me to shoo the frog away, before he tried to pick it up. I don’t like anything that flicks around. Bats are the worst for me. I saw a snake “run” once. I did not know they could move like that, it moved like a serpent in the sea humping up in the middle. This was not helpful for me. (It’s okay if you laugh at the running snake. We thought it was carrying eggs. Interesting but not really.)

    7. MissDisplaced*

      I’m afraid of mice! It’s because my brother used to terrorize me by killing them and hanging them over my bed.
      Some snakes can be poisonous here, so as kids you’re generally told to stay away from them, which instills fear of them generally. I imagine it’s similar for spiders.
      That’s funny about the donkeys. We don’t think of them as being aggressive, but they must’ve felt threatened by the dog to do that. I’ve never really seen that before except with feral horses.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        We do have some venomous snakes here – adders. But they’re rare and especially not found much in my area of the country. They’re rare enough that we generally do not have to teach children to be wary of snakes. Though having said that – a nest of them was once found on my school field when I was a kid!

        With the donkeys, I’ve also never seen anything quite like that, and I walk past fields of horses / donkeys / cows / etc many days of the week. I’ve not seen such a sudden and dramatic reaction from a whole group before.

      2. kc89*

        wow that was nasty of your brother!

        reminds me of my mom’s fear of snakes, she thinks it started when she was a child jumping on the trampoline and some neighborhood boys threw some live wild snakes on the trampoline with her

        1. char*

          Yikes! I love snakes, but I would still not want to suddenly find one on a trampoline with me!

      3. CatMintCat*

        I live in the Australian bush – in my part of the country there is no such thing as a non-venomous snake. We deliberately teach a healthy respect for/fear of snakes, and have cleared the playground more than once because of a snake (our school is surrounded by farmland, there are going to be snakes).

    8. Epsilon Delta*

      Loose dogs make me very nervous too, and I generally like or am neutral towards dogs. Especially if the owner is not in sight. I think it is fine to be cautious in that situation and tell the dog to sit if it approaches you. You need to keep your voice deep and firm, especially if you are a small woman like I am. Crossing to the other side of the road is sometimes an option as well.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Because of where I live, I’m often encountering dogs in areas of open field or wooded areas, or sometimes on path where I can’t easily leave (eg. I might be between a hedge and the fence of a field of eg/ donkeys), or often it’s when I’m running in a park or something. Actually, what freaks me out the most is hearing barking and then sort of vegetation-crashing noises (as though a not-small dog is running about close by) but not knowing where the owner is…

        The telling them to sit things is a good idea, I might try it. I kind of hadn’t thought about the fact that most dogs will know the words of commands like sit/stay (or also ‘no’) and might follow it (at least to some extent) if said by me.

        1. just a random teacher*

          Yeah, “sit” is a great “stop doing the thing you’re doing right now” command that most dogs know (since most things you want a dog to stop doing are hard for them to do while sitting). Iv’e had mixed results trying a sit command on random off-leash dogs that aren’t mine, but if a command from a stranger is likely to work, that’s the one they’re most likely to know.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        I am neutral about dogs, too, but a loose dog is a BIG problem. A near-attack from a neighbor’s dog taught me not to look at a loose dog for more than a couple seconds. Watch it from the corner of your eye and get some distance between you and it. Some friends carry mace because of loose dogs in our city. They’ve had to use it.

        1. tangerineRose*

          If I’m fairly close to a dog I don’t know well, I don’t turn my back on the dog, and I don’t run. But I also try to seem calm and not worried if I can. I do love dogs, and most dogs are sweet, but…

    9. LilySparrow*

      Here’s the thing – dogs jumping on people is social behavior (not an attack) but it is NOT friendly. It is the dog equivalent of a kid whacking you with a pool noodle. They are not trying to hurt you, they are demanding your attention in a rude and obnoxious way. But it isn’t affectionate or appropriate and you don’t have to put up with it.

      If an owner is not restraining a jumping dog, feel free to put your knee up to block them and tell the dog “NO” in a firm voice. It is startling to them but not harmful. It may not stop immediately, but it they are more likely to stop. And possibly it will shame the person into action.

      You are completely allowed to correct someone else’s dog from bad behavior toward you if they will not. Just like if their kid was whacking you – if the adult won’t do anything, speak to the culprit directly.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        See, here’s what annoys me – my younger dog is still jumpy, and I’m trying to train her out of it, but every damn person who comes in my house, when she jumps up and I tell her “No, down,” goes all “No, no, she’s fine!” and encourages her to keep jumping up. NO, SHE IS NOT FINE, THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR. >:-(

        1. Lilysparrow*

          Yep. Happens with kids, too.

          “Tell Auntie thank you.”
          “Aw, she doesn’t need to thank me, look at that smile.”

          *Gritted teeth* “Yes. She. Does.”

    10. Anonforthis*

      I have similar experiences with dogs. My parents are also from South Asia, though I grew up in the U.S. What didn’t help also was that my neighbors did not train their dogs well, and they would growl aggressively at me and sometimes chase me down the street. Unfortunately, people in the U.S. are very judgmental towards people who don’t *love* dogs, not considering cultural differences or differences in upbringing. Since moving up north, dogs here are much better taken care of and my fear has subsided a bit, but I will never be easy around huge dogs.

      As far as irrational fears go, I’m totally freaked out by lizards and frogs/toads. If I ever saw a lizard in my room growing up, I would freak out and leave the room until my parents chased them outside! I read somewhere that people inherit fears and traumas from their ancestors, and I wonder if one of my ancestors got attacked by an alligator or something, and now I’m scared of the entire family/species.

      1. Doggone*

        I was attacked by a neighbor’s overprotective dog when I was 12. Fortunately I’d had mostly positive interactions before and made a real effort to not be traumatized by it. But I always remain suitably wary. Once a dog rushed my hiking partner and I where the trail passed close to the dog’s property. My startle-response was to immediately impersonate a bigger and meaner dog– louder, deeper, “I’m not kidding” barking. I must have gotten it right because the dog turned tail and ran! Lost my voice, but worth it.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      Bill Bryson says that one of the differences between Americans and Brits is how they respond to the factoid “a number of walkers are killed each year by cows.” Americans wonder how you wind up in a field with cows ever, while Brits respond with some anecdote about a keen country walk that ended with feisty livestock with tramplin’ in their eyes.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Haha, there are some routes around where I live where you would have to go VASTLY out of your way to avoid walking through fields of cows. I mean like literally having to have set off significantly earlier to get round the cow fields, not like ‘it’ll save me 5 minutes to cut through here’.

      2. Lilysparrow*

        I noticed this on a visit to Get many – our hosts just pulled over on a country lane and we got out for a walk. Not a park. Just across the fields and into some woods.

        We Americans were kinda shocked. Like, “is this okay? Do you know the farmer? Do we have permission?”

        They were like, “Who needs permission to go walking?”

        “Um, people who don’t want to get run off with a shotgun?”

        Total cultural divide.

        1. Wulfgar*

          I’m in America, and I grew up on a farm. We had random people hunt on our property. One person shot one of our Holsteins because he thought it was a deer. Holsteins are black and white.

          Some other guy was mudding and got stuck. He walked through our fields and asked my dad to pull him out. Dad said he would for whatever amount he thought was fair, and the guy completely freaked out. This moron was trespassing; he didn’t have any moral high ground.

        2. londonedit*

          In the UK you can only walk on public footpaths in the countryside unless you have the landowner’s permission, but there are huge networks of footpaths all through the countryside and most of them go through/around the edges of farm fields. So there will often be livestock! You just need to know to keep to the path/edges, keep dogs on leads, and walk calmly and steadily past any animals. And to close gates behind you and not drop litter!

        3. nonegiven*

          >“Um, people who don’t want to get run off with a shotgun?”

          People who don’t want to get charged by a bull.

    12. Lissa*

      Yeah, people are way more understanding of some phobias/fears/discomfort than others. It’s like “it’s more scared of you than you are of it!” when it comes to an insect/small animal – ok great but that doesn’t help! People fear all kinds of things that aren’t logically going to kill/hurt them – needles are one of the most common phobias ever for instance, but for some reason people take it personally when it’s about something they like personally.
      I have a mild dog fear but I think it’s reasonable honestly – dog attacks/bites are not all that rare and can be very serious. A loud barking dog sets off my fight or flight reflex – I’m a big walker and if I walk by a yard with a dog that suddenly starts barking its head off I can feel my heart rate rise. Smaller dogs or ones I know are OK and I don’t feel fear when I see a dog, but the barking makes me really uneasy.

    13. Indie*

      Bill Bryson is apparently attacked by dogs on a regular basis and he’s written a few times that the dog owner, instead of apologising, will get defensive or offended and say things like “you must have said something to him!” I think Bills comment was something like “That just knocks me out. What would I say to a dog?!”

      I love dogs but being afraid of unknown dogs, with inconsiderate owners is awfully similar to common sense.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        A friend of mine was bitten by a small dog while running in woodland recently and the owner denied the dog had down it… Despite the fresh bite mark and blood.

    14. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Growing up, I was terrified of cows and things that fluttered (birds, butterflies, etc). It was only later, as an adult, that I realized the cow thing was due to being chased by a calf who had escaped the barn at my uncle’s farm, while being dehorned (apparently that is a thing?). He had blood running down his face and was rubbing his head on the tire of the tractor on which I had taken refuge, but to my 5 year-old mind, I thought he was trying to climb up to eat me. The fluttering came to light while I was in m 30’s and happened to watch that Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds. Apparently I had seen it at a much too young age. Today I am happy to say that the only creatures I fear–and I don’t know if it is fear or intense hatred–are cockroaches. I would chase them around my apartment with a flame thrower, if I thought I could do it without burning down the place.

  8. Lemonwhirl*

    Y’all did such a great job helping me out with vegan recipes, hope you can provide similar advice on Gluten-Free cooking.

    We have a twice yearly tradition of inviting some of my husband’s college pals down for a long weekend, which is going to happen in a few weeks. I’ve taken to baking Nailed It-inspired cakes, because I love to bake but rarely get a chance and am very much at the Nailed It level. :) One of the pals has a new girlfriend, and she has gluten-intolerance.

    So a couple of questions
    1 – what’s the best flour substitute to use? Can I straight-up sub the flour for a different non-flour flour or do adjustments have to be made? I have a basic white cake recipe that I use for my nailed it baking but am open to recipes for GF cakes.
    2 – how worried do I need to be about cross-contamination and what’s the best way to avoid it?
    3 – Any recipes that can please/be adapted to please vegans, carnivo