weekend free-for-all – August 24-25, 2019

Eve on a bannister where she should not beThis 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: Reasons to be Cheerful, by Nina Stibbe. I don’t know how to describe this book. On the surface it’s about an 18-year-old who moves out, takes a job as a dental assistant, and starts becoming an adult. But I don’t know how to describe it in a way that will do it justice; it’s hilarious and charming and I loved it very much.

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

{ 1,440 comments… read them below }

  1. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    It is getting later in the season, and I finally have one ripe tomato. There has also been enough rain that I may have to mow the grass again, which is a good thing. My sunflowers are growing quickly, and I should pick the garlic soon.

    1. JobHunter*

      Tomatoes are doing great! I have been giving them away for a week now. My onions only got as big as golf balls and the cilantro has gone to seed. The peppers are coming in nicely. I have the ingredients I need to make shakshuka for breakfast today.

    2. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      Oh, I miss gardening! A few years ago, our backyard became ‘home base to a colony of feral cats. (They’re all fixed, thank the lort, and we take care of them.) But it means no gardening back there for the foreseeable future. At least I still have my front porch planters, though – Impatiens and petunias, and vinca vines, oh my!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This week started with a heatwave, went through damaging rains and was 59 when I glanced at the thermometer at 4:30am. I have to start thinking ahead to repot ting things that are coming inside for the winter. That could be awkward because a wren is nesting on my rolling plant shelves.
      My fancy basil long since bolted, but this week the other container of standard basil just sort of went yellow. Too bad I’m not raising slugs, because THEY like this weather.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I finally have a ton of tomatoes on my plants. I think they finally recovered from being raided by some form of wildlife. The green beans are doing OK, but not as great as last year. Same wildlife raided them. Jalapenos and habaneros are plentiful so I’ll be making more jam this weekend: pineapple habanero and pineapple jalapeno.

      I think my husband is winning the battle with the Japanese knotweed. It’s coming back, but it’s much slower to come back now.

    5. Blue Eagle*

      Argggh! The monarch butterfly eggs that I thought were covering my milkweed turned out to be aphids. And the aphids were devouring my swiss chard leaves (they left the collard green leaves alone). What a disappointment. Needless to say the aphids have been evacuated and are no more.

      On the other hand my cherry tomatoes are overly abundant. Every two days one of my neighbors receives ~120 freshly picked cherry tomatoes. Luckily there are enough neighbors who don’t have their own tomato plants that they only get tomatoes every two weeks so they haven’t been refusing them yet.

      In the flower garden the phlox and brown-eyed susans are fill the yard with gorgeous color.

      1. PhyllisB*

        We have had so many tomatoes (regular and cherry) that we’ve been having to give them away. Green peppers doing well also. Parsley went crazy. Basil, oregano, chives, and rosemary have all done well. Don’t know why we keep the chives and basil, we hardly ever use them. I love them, but just can’t think of that many uses for it. No one in the family but me likes pesto so don’t do that. Hubs made a pasta salad tonight and put basil, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, and parsley in it. It was so good!!

        1. PhyllisB*

          Funny story about tomatoes: a man we went to church with had planted what he thought were Big Boy tomatoes. Well, they got about the size of a marble and started turning red. He didn’t know WHAT was wrong. Turned out he bought Little Boys, a cherry tomato. He got a lot of kidding about that.

    6. PX*

      I am incredibly jealous of all you with tomatoes. My plants only started flowering late and then the weather turned and all the sun disappeared so they have barely ripened. We’re in for a bit of sun this week so just trying hard to get them as much sunshine as possible.

      I need to repot them at some point and get some sturdier stakes.

      1. Venus*

        You aren’t the only one who is jealous – I have plenty of green tomatoes, but only one that was even close to red! I picked it a bit early so that it could finish ripening inside, away from the squirrels.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Look up a recipe for fried green tomatoes. UMMM!! Also you can make green tomato pickles if you like pickles.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            There’s actually a recipe inside Fannies Flagg’s book “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe”. :)

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      We took out a climbing rose bush this spring. In the empty space are two evenly spaced identical plants. So we suspect they are on purpose? But they haven’t yet done anything, so they might be weeds.

    8. GoryDetails*

      I’m getting ripe tomatoes too, heirloom Pineapple and Brandywine – they take a loooong time to ripen but are definitely worth it. Alas, my eggplants and peppers don’t seem to have recovered from the too-hot-and-wet early start, so I only got a few fruits from each plant; usually by this time of the season I’m eating ratatouille three times a day to use them all up {wry grin}. The cucumbers have been very happy, and they ripen so quickly that if I don’t check the plants daily I may find a humongous cuke where there was a mere blossom only moments before, or so it seems…

      I didn’t put in lots of flowers this year, but the perennials are doing well. The bee balm is burgeoning, to the delight of the bees, and the pineapple sage plant is coming along.

      I sometimes think I could give up gardening entirely, as there are so many local farm stands (both professional and hobbyist-with-too-much-produce) that I could glean a lovely basket of veggies with a short drive around the area. The fresh corn is especially hard to resist. And apple season is coming on too, whether at the full-blown orchards or the many landscape-planting apple trees that happily drop full-sized apples on the sidewalks and parking lots.

      1. Becky*

        I LOVE Brandywine tomatoes but mine do NOT want to produce this year…

        I made some gazpacho last year with my brandywines and it was bright pink! My friend thought the color was hilarious.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think mine counts. I don’t turn my compost pile. So I get volunteer butternut squash plants. I usually end up with around 100 squash. And I do nothing except avoid mowing the vines that come out from the compost. So far the pattern seems to be if they weigh more then I get less of them. One year I got 89 squash and they weighed between 7 and 12 pounds each. I needed help moving them because if I put 4 or 5 in a box that box weighed close to 60 pounds. Last year was easier (?) as they were running about 5-7 pounds each but there was just over 100 of them. So far this year, they are kind of odd. They look big but they are weighing around 5 pounds. It’s early yet, though.

          1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

            Thank you! I bookmarked the recipe and will definitely try it, sounds delish. I noticed that you can substitute 1/4 of the stock with orange juice for a ‘bright flavor’; I’ll try that version too. (And I don’t want pizza soup either, thanks for the heads up lol) :D

    10. Becky*

      I have had such trouble with my garden this year! I moved to a new apartment and there’s a backyard where there was clearly once upon a time a garden. I decided to plant some. I decided rather than clearing the weeds and amending the soil I would just put everything in those fabric planters (they worked well last year at my old place). Then we had a super wet Spring and I think the roots started getting moldy. There’s also a tree that leans over the area that was giving it too much shade. So I trimmed that back to where I think the sun exposure is good.

      I bought an automatic timer so I could water in the morning and so when I went out of town I wouldn’t have to ask anyone else to take care of the garden. I put a splitter on the spigot so someone else could use the water without having to unhook my hose, then I put the timer valve then the hose running out to the garden. When I cam back from vacation I found that someone had turned off the valve on the splitter so the automatic timer was useless and my garden was half dead. That was about a month ago. things have kind of recovered.

      Then recently it was looking like part of my garden wasn’t getting enough water again. I checked the valve and nothing was wrong there. So I investigated the hose more closely (I also had a hose spring a leak earlier this summer) and found the soaker hose I was using had somehow been chopped in half! So half the garden wasn’t getting water. Today I put a new soaker hose in.

      I think the butternut squash is just not going to get anything this season, I’ve gotten a handful of cherry tomatoes, but my larger varieties seem to be struggling mightily. I have a little fat cucumber, though I am hopeful more cucumbers will come in as there are a number of blossoms and the vines seem to be doing well. My bell peppers finally seem to be doing something too. The chives go crazy without any help but my cantaloupe is all but dead and the strawberry output was puny. Also trying habanero peppers which last year did great and this year have nothing.

      1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

        I hope you have better luck next season, and that sucks about your hose! Maybe you can put up a friendly sign? Glad that some of your crop is doing okay. :)

    11. jDC*

      I have so much zucchini! Actually glad only one seed made it. I made zoodles and froze them since we love them. Going to have to start canning some tomatoes soon. I may try canning in my Instant Pot for the first time. Tons of cucumbers too, which I don’t actually like but grew to make pickles, my favorite thing. I have a lot of pickles. Luckily my neighbor loves them so she’s been eating them for me. Aldi has succulents for $1.99 so bought a couple new ones of Friday to keep the house green during the winter.

    12. Red*

      My garden has been doing wonderfully, once we got over the late spring – substantial snowfall in May!

      I’ve been giving away cherry tomatoes & summer squash for months, had a great crop of snap peas, the second planting is coming along, and the big tomatoes have come on strong. I brought home about 8 lbs of tomatoes this evening from my community garden plot this evening.

      I HIGHLY recommend using black tomatoes for your BLTs – that smokey tangy flavor they impart is Da Bomb! My BLT recipe starts pick two sun warmed, vine ripened Black Krim, cook a pound of thick cut applewood smoked bacon…and ends Serves 1.

      On Tuesday I picked 18 lbs of squash, after picking the previous Sunday morning. I planted 16 (!) varieties of squash in order to conduct the Great Summer Squash Taste Test of 2019. It may have been excessive…

      I’ve been taking care boxes twice a week to my neighbors with the 3 teenagers – one is a boy, and one of the girls is a vegan. I took probably 15 lbs of squash and 10 lbs of tomatoes in to work on Wed – it was gone by the end of the day. I also drop produce off at my mechanic, and a couple of my doctors offices.

    13. Lena Clare*

      My back yard is completely overgrown.
      It’s only small, but because I was ill for months, I hadn’t felt like I had the energy or motivation to do it, but now that I do I’ll feeling really nervous about tackling it. Every day I put off doing it makes me feel a bit more stressed out.

      Plus, the back alleyway is blocked off with one of my neighbour’s lilac trees which has spread, outrageously. This is making me inordinately stressed too. I think the property is owned by a housing association though; if so I can at least ask them to tackle that themselves.

      I want to do a bit today, so I’m just going out to buy some secateurs and some weedkiller and vinegar, and then I’m going to 45/15 it, à la UfYH.

      Please send me any good thoughts and vibes you have :)

      1. PX*

        Good luck! I find starting things the hardest part but once I do, a but of good music and I’m set for hours!

        1. Lena Clare*

          Thanks!:)
          I managed an hour and have cleared about 2/3 of the weeds. It’s too hot to do any more!
          I will do some more tomorrow and try to do about half an hour every evening this week while it’s still light after work.

          1. Venus*

            That’s really good! I know there’s still the other 1/3 and probably more things to tackle beyond the weeds, yet that’s a huge amount of progress. Most importantly, the rest should feel manageable – if you could do that much today, then you can definitely do the rest. Good luck!

    14. Perpal*

      I planted a few sunflowers for the first time this year and one is now blooming! They are impressive; so HUGE! I was really worried deer would eat them all, but so far, so good. Will plant more next year.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My overwintered dahlia has its first flower of the year. Around the time the weather changed, I pulled one of the companion plants out to its own pot, so I don’t really know what made the difference. I suspect weather because the piece I knocked off by accident is growing new leaves in another pot.
      In a less pleasant garden development , there is a tiny new critter hole under my front steps. I can’t dig up the hole because it’s under 4ft granite slab steps…but I don’t want to use poison when my property has hawks & foxes & well water.

  2. JobHunter*

    Runners!

    How is your training going? I am still sidelined…silly pup may have contributed to the snapping/popping sensation in my hip. It’s not painful most of the time, but a walk of 2 miles or more makes it a little sore.

    1. SINE*

      Sorry to hear you’re sidelined. That’s never fun. Hope you heal soon! I just started running again this week after taking a year off thanks to knee issues. There were days where I couldn’t even walk the two blocks to the grocery store without having to stop because it hurt so much. But after lots of PT, accupuncture, an MRI, and more PT, I was able to run-walk 3 miles last night and I feel great!

      1. JobHunter*

        I’m glad that you are feeling better. That was a lot of poking and prodding you went through.

    2. londonedit*

      I’ve never seen the weekend thread with fewer than 20 posts before! And the reason I’m up at 6:35 UK time is that I’m doing my long run this morning. It’s a bank holiday weekend here and I’m going to stay with friends tomorrow, so 10 miles today it is.

      I’m meeting up with some running buddies in about an hour, and we’re going to do 7 miles out and back along the Thames before ending up at parkrun to do the last 3 miles with everyone else. It’s a great strategy as it means you always have loads of people with fresh legs to run with for that last bit!

      In other running news I’ve been doing 5k at 5:45am for the last few weeks, and I’ve managed to persuade a few people from my running club to join me each time, so that’s good. I think it’s really making a difference to my running in general, and it’s so nice to be all done before work and have the evenings to myself. Especially as we’ve had warm weather recently.

    3. BeanCat*

      I did my 5K last Saturday as my last hurrah before surgery on Monday! I was thrilled since it was my best time ever at 32:42 and 10:28 per mile. I already miss running but I definitely need to recover.

    4. Sled dog mama*

      I’m finally getting back to running and biking (I have knee issues so it will never be just running) after being forced to cut back drastically by my hubby’s knee surgery last year and sidelined by an injury earlier this year. I feel like I’m starting from square one. I got in two solid workouts this week (one run, one bike) and have plans for a longer bike tomorrow. I feel really accomplished in getting that in this week. I’m working hard to compare only to yesterday or last week rather than where I was before hubby’s surgery.

    5. Lady Jay*

      Popping in to say did y’all notice that Kilian Jornet is going to try to break the Pikes Peak Marathon record tomorrow? Last record was 3.16 and set in 1987. (I’ll link to an article about it in my reply). I’m fascinated by competitive marathoning/ultrarunning (waiting for Kipchoge to break the 2-hour marathon) and will look forward to seeing the results tomorrow.

      Me personally? It’s been a slower week for me due to a lot of things, including the weather. It’s SO humid here that getting up to a decent speed or being at all comfortable is difficult. Waiting for summer to break . . .

      But did y’all noti

      1. Lady Jay*

        Yikes, sorry about the “did y’all not” thing there!! Clearly did not clean up my drafts well enough . . .

    6. anonagain*

      I started trying to run. I am slow and uncoordinated and can only manage a minute or two before I need to walk again. But during my “run” yesterday a happy golden retriever came up to me and leaned against my leg, so I’d say it’s going great!

      1. Desperately seeking cute kitty*

        I’m getting back into training to speed-walk a half marathon (some of these marathons reopen the roads too soon to walk at a normal pace) and in the space of about a week, I’ve seen three friendly cats! Patting cats always makes training better.

      2. bleh*

        That’s great. I have been running for years (decades?) and I’m still slow. But I’ve finished a lot of races and had fun and it keeps my blood pressure mostly normal despite bad genetics in that area. I hope you enjoy it and get better able to run between walking.

      3. Ron McDon*

        Have you tried the couch to 5k app? It gives you a structured plan, starting out at running for just a minute at a time.

        I could only run for a minute or so at the start, now I can run for 30 mins! It’s a great plan, if you’re interested in following one.

    7. PB*

      I am just over a long-term chest cold that’s kept me inside for three weeks. Today is the first day I haven’t coughed at all! So, I’m planning to get back to exercising, probably starting with some easy walks to make sure I’ve 100% recovered, and then start working running intervals back in.

    8. LGC*

      It’s been…rough for the past week for me.

      Last Friday, I came down with a cold. I spent Saturday and Sunday morning wrapped in blankets on my parents’ couch.

      Sunday night, I ran a mile. Specifically, I raced a mile. This was not the best decision, even though I ran surprisingly well! (Like, I was within 6 seconds of my PR. I would have been happy if I were within 20.)

      I’m STILL recovering from that, I think. Basically everything I’ve done this week has felt twice as difficult as usual.

    9. Trixie*

      Runners/walkers, what do you reoommend for inserts? I have Saucony which are great for width but not so much arch support or cushion.

    10. Ktelzbeth*

      I have my first Olympic distance triathlon a week from today, which is longer than I have done before. I think I’m trained well enough, but I have a long drive Friday night to get there. Also, my pool and my usual alternate pool are both closed this week for end of summer cleaning. A friend that I train with asked me the other night, in the middle of some other people’s conversation about their upcoming Ironman, if I wanted to be his training partner for one next year. I’m not entirely sure he was serious, but he has been talking about it. So. . .that’s something to consider.

  3. Neela*

    What’s the absolute best product you own under $200, something that you would immediately replace with an identical one if it broke today?

    Right now my answer is this very heavy, very furry blanket that makes me feel like I’m hibernating with a bear.

    1. Orphan Brown*

      Probably my instant pot, or my t-shirt blanket with is so soft and comfy and full of college memories. That latter is irreplaceable though!

    2. Slartibartfast*

      Heated mattress pad with 3 independent heat zones per side. I can have my feet warm when the hubs has the AC set so cold it’s setting off my Raynaud’s. His internal thermostat seems to run at ‘blast furnace’ when he’s trying to sleep.

      1. Alex*

        I was going to choose the same thing! My heated mattress pad is priceless (and also $29.99 on amazon).

      2. jDC*

        Love my heated mattress pad! I happened upon one in the clearance section at Target for $20 a few years back!!

    3. londonedit*

      My heated clothes airer. It was only £30 but it’s amazing! I live in a small flat and don’t have a tumble dryer (they’re not hugely common in the UK, especially in rented flats) or outside space to dry my washing, and being a small flat things always took forever to air dry on a normal clothes airer. My heated one dries clothes in less than a day, even in winter, and it costs pennies in electricity! So worth it.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I had never heard of such a thing before. The really neat ones don’t seem to be available in the U.S., but I found one that resembles a heated towel rack on Amazon.

      1. Cookie Monster*

        Ditto on my Kindle! I used to be such a kindle hater, and finally I caved when I kept moving around and was not close to any libraries. Now I can check out books from my favorite library back home even when I’m 200 miles away, and I can bring like 8 books with me on a trip without worrying about luggage space. I’ve never converted to loving a product so fast.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I have a Kindle Fire and I love that I can watch movies and TV. When I was hospitalized in 2016, I fortunately remembered to stick it into my purse before I went back to the ER in the middle of the night. I didn’t feel like reading, so I finished that season of Orange is the New Black while stuck in a bed. I would have been SOOOOO bored without it.

          It was so funny. One of the doctors was like, “What are you watching?” I told her and she was like, “Ooooh I love that show! No spoilers!” Then we started going, who’s your favorite character, blah blah blah, lol.

        1. Okay, great!*

          Same here! I thought I lost mine for a while so I got a newer one (then, of course, found the old one). So my husband and I both had one, till the new one started having all sorts of problems. Old one is still going strong!!

        2. Stormfeather*

          Yet one more me too… no extra features, all black and white, non-glossy, plastic-y screen. I love it. The only downside is that I would maybe like to read some graphic novels and such on it, but it is really not good for that.

          I was having issues with the charger for it for a bit, and was afraid it was dying. I was very unhappy! I don’t even know if I COULD replace it with a similar product at this point, and the tablet versions are more expensive, more clunky to navigate, and make me feel like I’m going to break it a lot more easily.

          1. JeanB in NC*

            I’m very frustrated that my old Kindle stopped charging. I had to put the charging cord in a very specific position and leave it that way. I really don’t like the glossy screen on the newer one, plus its seams hurt my fingers. I didn’t need something to play sound on, I just needed my non-glossy screen and comfortable hold!

        3. Alex*

          Me too! I have a first gen Kindle that I bought on craigslist for $20. The battery life isn’t super great anymore but I don’t really want any more bells and whistles.

      2. purple otter*

        For me it’s Nook but same principle! My first generation Nook (2010) finally died last year and I immediately replaced it with a current version. With the amount of travel I do, it’s just not practical to haul a lot of physical books or waste my phone battery.

      3. EggEgg*

        Same! Mine isn’t fancy, just a paperwhite, but I love being able to check books out from the library anywhere, anytime, and it’s so good for low light. I’ve even checked out library books while sitting next to a campfire!

        1. Windchime*

          Mine is also a simple Paperwhite that is 5 or 6 years old. My first Kindle broke when it fell down the stairs, but this one has been a workhorse. Once I figured out the library thing, I’ve been in heaven. I only buy a book if I know I will re-read it again and again; otherwise, I just use the library. Figuring out how to borrow from the library made it a game-changer as to how much I read.

    4. Bilateralrope*

      My smartphone. Yes, mine was that cheap without any discount from the contract with my phone company.

      I bought it because it was the cheapest IP68 smartphone. The only complaint I’ve had is that my work chose the same model for all the work phones a few months later, probably for the obvious reasons. So I bought a cheap cover for my phone.

      I see no reason to upgrade to a more expensive phone.

      1. Shay*

        Mine was also less than $200! Wire was so helpful when picking it out.

        My phones don’t even last a year. When I was in a psych ward they managed to break my phone which was in an otter box. (Impressive.) One broke when it was in my breast pocket and fell into the toilet while I was cleaning it. (The phone was playing an audio book). And I broke two phones and a laptop because I was using it when I had a seizure. These were three separate incidents, for the record.

        I still have my last phone although the screen is horrible and it is very glitchy. I was happy to keep using it but my mom ended up buying me a new one and telling me to keep the old one as a back up because she hated not being able to track my movements on Life360. (With my seizure disorder I think it’s very reasonable that she wants to be able to see if I’m like, in the ER, or something. And I feel better, like she’s my guardian angel, knowing she has access to that info.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I broke Bob (my Galaxy S4) . Too many times dropping it in a cheapo case. The screen would not appear anymore. Poor Bob. :( When I replaced him with Arlo (S7), I bought an Otterbox, the slimline one. So far he’s doing great.

          The thing I keep breaking is my coffee press. I have broken THREE of them! Stupid dyspraxia coupled with a low-hanging kitchen cabinet. :P

          1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

            Ooo, I have to check out this Otterbox thing. I have an S7 also that I got last year after my S5 finally died. I’m careful, but it somehow has a couple of spider line cracks at the top, so I need to get a good case for it. I love that you name yours! :)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I name EVER-THANG.

              My laptop, on which everything is Avengers-themed, is named Korg. I even found a clip of Korg saying “Hey, man” and replaced the Windows error sound with it, lol.

              1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

                LOL and a theme too! I’m seriously gonna start doing that; and to think, I used to only name my cars – now the possibilities are endless :D

            2. KimberlyInOhio*

              Many of our household things have names, too. Treadmill is Treaddie Mercury. Branch lopper is Cyndi Lopper. Backyard bug zapper is Frank Zapper. Deck fan is Fannie Lennox. Etc.

          2. MAGC*

            We kept breaking the glass inserts on our French press, and finally converted to a metal one two years ago, like this one:

            https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FWLZ1RI

            You do have to get used to estimating how much coffee might be left by the weight, but it’s also insulated so coffee stays warm longer.

    5. aarti*

      A vibrating alarm. I put it under my pillow and it vibrates and wakes me up. I always hated waking up to alarm noises and I don’t like using my phone as an alarm. In addition I get up much earlier than my husband so this way my alarm doesn’t wake him up. One of my favourite things I own.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Oh my sunrise alarm clock. The light gradually get brighter and brighter and usually wakes me before it gets to the sound which is the sound of birds in a forest set very low. Not loud at all. Such a gentle wake up. So much worth the investment. Had it for years and if it breaks I’m replacing it right away.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ll go old-school: my little coffeepot. It has this beautiful design where the water is part of the circuit so it can’t be burned out by being run without water.
      A microwave is my close 2nd… can’t imagine going back to reheating leftovers any other way. (And actually this is relevant because the handle is starting to cracking on our aged relic.)

    7. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      Electric kettle and my hot water bottle. One time my bottle broke and I ordered another one via amazon prime just so I wouldn’t have to sleep without it 2 nights in a row (it was January in Scotland in student housing and REALLY COLD).

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        Thirding electric kettle! Mine is second hand, from my grandparents, and it’s lived through 4 years of college dorms, and 3 apartments, and 2 cross country moves. This thing is magical.

      2. KimberlyInOhio*

        About three years ago, a thread on Reddit made me purchase my electric kettle on Amazon. The commenters were just so enthusiastic, so I found a cheap one (under $30 then, but it’s a little more now) that’s plastic so I can travel with it, and not too big. Turns out that it’s the most powerful one in its price range and the price range above it, too–1750 watts where it mostly tops out at 1500. It is SO FAST. I adore that thing and have considered buying another one just so I never have to be without it again. I only use filtered water in it, and it looks like new. LOVE.

    8. Rina Beana*

      Sunlight alarm clock. Light goes up slowly leading up to my alarm time, so by the time the alarm goes off the room is bright.

      1. Shay*

        That’s wild! I really want smart light bulbs so that they will turn orange and dim as time passes. Now that I don’t live in a basement where it wasn’t safe to have the curtains open its less necessary, but I think it would still be helpful.
        The light going up slowly sounds even better!

      2. Worked in IT forever*

        Do you have the Philips version of the clock, with the chirping bird alarm that gets gradually louder? I like it but find that it can be finicky to use the snooze feature because you had to tap the top of the face of the clock in just the right place, because there is no snooze button.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          Yes. I don’t find it too finicky. Although sometimes I missing the first try when I’m sleepily slapping at the clock. The whole face is the snooze button so there’s a good bit of surface area to hit.

      3. Cat Meowmy Admin*

        I have one of those that I bought many years ago at the Discovery Channel store. The sun rises from the top at the alarm time, with bird chirps and plinky music or babbling brook. I love it, but I don’t use the babbling brook sounds feature for obvious reasons first thing in the morning. :D

      4. Gatomon*

        Yes! I still hate mornings, and I still drag getting out of bed, but without it I’m downright murderous. I have the really basic Philips model (you can catch it on sale for ~$50 sometimes) but I do wish I had a more advanced one with dual alarms, or a setting for a lengthier/more gradual brightening. If it breaks I’ll get a nicer model.

      5. Fran*

        Boyfriend had it and I hated if I didnt have to get up at the same time or earlier. I need a dark room to sleep and I am an early riser in general so I would wake up too.

    9. DaleZan*

      My robot vacuum. Bought a bottom-of-the-line, which means it needs more regular maitenance (monthly deep clean of the robot) but DANG the cat hair and cat litter is basically never present. My floors are barefoot ready at all times with a daily routine of robot.

      1. The Grammarian*

        I’d agree with you that my robot vacuum has definitely added a lot to my life by sucking up cat tumbleweeds and stray cat litter. I also love my heating pad. At one point, I had three.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I think I may have to look into that again, for exactly cat hair and litter reasons (current cats track way more litter than previous cats for some reason!). We’ve had some pricier ones but they never seem to last more than a couple of years. But it would be a big, big help.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I have a Roomba I bought on the cheap, but it needs a battery. The batteries for that thing are $100!!!!!

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      LLBean sheepskin slippers. They do routinely wear out from constant use, and immediately get replaced.

    11. Just a hypo*

      Clothing steamer. I had one, it broke, and I waited a few years to replace it because I was being a stubborn idiot.

      Also, a programmable coffee pot. All but the cheapest models have one but I would replace it same-day if it broke.

    12. Talk talk*

      Rice cooker. I poo-pooed the purchase when my husband bought it but OMG, I can never make rice or quinoa on the stovetop again.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Same. We’ve replaced our rice cooker once and the bread machine once, both within a day or two of needing to, they’re that handy.

      2. Amy J.*

        Same. My MIL bought us one and I thought “oh no, another kitchen appliance we won’t use.” I was so wrong.

    13. Parenthetically*

      Two things: my ForLife stump teapot (actually HAVE broken and replaced it once), and my LectroFan Micro white noise machine/bluetooth speaker, which is absolutely priceless for travel! It was recommended here a couple years ago, actually, and I still count it as one of my best purchases.

    14. Mid*

      Two things: noise cancelling headphones, and a ring.
      Noise cancelling headphones are a life saver for ADD, and for travel, and for lots of roommates, and I broke my pair at an airport once and immediately bought a replacement pair at the next airport.

      My grandmother gave me a ring many years ago. It is silver and shaped like a sun, with Baltic Amber in the center. I actually had to replace it once. A roommate stole my ring, and then denied it of course, and so i had someone on Etsy make me a replica. This ring never leaves my finger, except when climbing (and even then, sometimes I just tape over it instead of taking it off)

    15. Sled dog mama*

      My teapot is the number one thing that comes to mind, or the tea mug I leave at work. Which seems silly but I think having it there really makes my day better.
      I would say my sodastream (yes I drink that much fizzy water as my 5 year old calls it) but hubby has promised to replace it with a carbonated water tap like a friend has when it breaks. If he wasn’t going to…yeah I’d be at the store in a heartbeat.
      After thinking for a minute shoes. I wear Dansko clogs to work everyday (I have several pairs) but I would replace them in a heartbeat, only shoes I’ve found that work this well for my feet.

      1. Shay*

        My mom bought really nice lace up shoes for me for a Christmas gift. They are very artsy and the designs are just very me. But it turns out that laces are really hard for me. I usually have to take two breaks while doing them up and this makes me so sad. I’ve had zip up shoes for five years before this gift and I just didn’t realize the laces would be a problem.
        I can not stress how beautiful these shoes are and how much I want to love them. :(

        1. acmx*

          If you go to a running store, many of them sell lock laces that don’t need to be tied. And if you buy there, maybe an employee will relace your shoes for you.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            Seconded! Check out the various options on Amazon, too, there are some that don’t require any interaction at all (they turn lace-up shoes into pull-ons, essentially). I’ve been using various lace alternatives for years for myself and the kids and there are multiple different styles.

        2. No fan of Chaos*

          I buy bungee laces on Amazon and replace the laces. They come in many colors and are adjustable. I even buy sketcher women’s shoes and remove the nonadjustable laces with the adjustable bungee laces. I have to tighten the laces about once a month since I walk through water often.

      2. Owler*

        If your SodaStream dies, check Goodwill or what your local charity resale shop is called. I see them in mine for $8 fairly regularly!

    16. KarenK*

      My egg cooker, a Dash. Hard boils 6 at a time perfectly. My first one rusted from the water. Now I thoroughly dry it before I put it away. Cost: 20 bucks. Also my electric kettle.

    17. WellRed*

      Heh. Not quite what you asked but my cd copy of “layla and other assorted love songs” by Derek and the Dominoes.

    18. Shay*

      Tough choice… with moving from a small 2 bedroom apartment into a gorgeous house I’m having to get all sorts of furniture and appliances and these things are surprisingly expensive.

      I didn’t have a full size oven in my apartment, but there was a toaster oven. Now that I don’t have a toaster oven I really miss it. I just want to heat up some fish sticks for dinner. I also haven’t cleaned the oven out yet, and based on the state of the cupboards, the stove top, and the fridge (the fridge took me three days to deal with! How did these people live like this!?) it’s not going to be a fun time to get it in a working condition.

      I also had a little personal blender that I wore out faster than it should have because of error on my part. The waste of that makes me sad. I used it for smoothies but also for making the BEST scrambled eggs. It only required cleaning 2 parts, where as many full size blenders require more than that.

      There are of course several things related to my art and crafts. I’m so excited to be back in the glass studio. I recently bought a rock tumbler to turn colored glass people threw away into frit to be reused. I haven’t actually used it yet but I did so much research and I’m so excited.

      I know this is more than one thing! Sorry! :P

      1. cat socks*

        I love my toaster oven! I just baked some bacon in it this morning. So much less messy than the stove.

      2. Koala dreams*

        For fish sticks I have a sandwich maker with different grates: grill, sandwich and waffle. I use the grill one for the fish sticks, vegetarian burgers/nuggets and large sandwiches. You can use it to grill fish fillets too but the cleaning is more difficult.

      3. Windchime*

        OMG. I have a little Oster chopper that I bet would whip up eggs for scrambling really well. I never even thought of doing that!

    19. MissDisplaced*

      Under $200?
      Probably my combo convection, toaster, air fryer oven. We use it all the time because the air fryer function cooks all manner of crispy stuff in like 10 minutes.

    20. JDC*

      My spiralizer for my kitchen aid mixer. We love zoodles in this house and I can actually get veggies in the kid. Also my Wustoff 8” chefs knife. I don’t like wasting money in knife blocks filled with knives you never use. I much prefer to buy three or four good knives that you’ll use. I use my 8” for nearly everything.

    21. mindovermoneychick*

      I don’t know if this is the best, but it’s the one that immediately came to mind. I joined Orangetheory Fitness a while ago, and I notices a small numberof the more fit/serious looking members wear weightlifting gloves. Now, mind you, I’m mostly lifting 12 pound dumbbells and nothing more. But we also use TRX straps and do floor exercises wear my hands are supporting my weight on the floor or a bench. And I often feel like I’m losing my grip.

      So while it felt a bit pretentious as a not serious/fit looking person I got myself a pair for $20, and OMG it makes such a difference. 2 weeks after I bought them I lost one of them. I went out 2 days laters and got a new pair.

    22. PB*

      My coffee maker (which would be hard, as Cuisinart ceased making that model). I love it. It makes delicious coffee, and I can program it to ensure that I wake up to a fresh pot every morning, and it only cost around $60. My old coffee maker was terrible and brewed hot mud about half the time. Best $60 I ever spent.

    23. C Average*

      A patched tabby named Mitty I got at the Humane Society for (if I recall correctly) around $70, though there have been some ongoing maintenance costs that undoubtedly bring the total expense to over $200. She keeps the rodent population nonexistent and she is an invaluable source of amusement and companionship.

      1. Windchime*

        I have these, too. They are so sharp that I put a big nick in my ankle once when they fell off the sewing table and the tips of the scissors grazed me. I love ,love, love them.

    24. Not A Manager*

      Immersion blender.

      Also my pour-over coffee cone, which cost about $5 but I can’t live without it.

    25. Nott the Brave*

      My computer headphones – they broke a few years ago and I immediately bought the same ones.

    26. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh, I thought of one. My little Anker charger. It’s quite powerful and only cost about $20. It looks like a very large lipstick and lives in my purse.

      I wish I’d had it the last time I went abroad; I could not find anywhere to charge my damn phone. Rawr. I’d love to get a solar charger too for my emergency kit, just in case.

      1. jDC*

        When I traveled a lot I loved my Mophie case. Pricey but so convenient and no wires. My son has the phone it fits now and raves about it every time he flies to his moms (my stepson so that makes sense).

    27. Alexandra Lynch*

      My weighted blanket. Where has this been all my life!

      I’ve had three days since I got it with minimal fibro symptoms. I don’t know if this is a solution, but I’m thrilled for any clear days I get. I’ve had fibro for 20 years. Mine is a twin-size blanket that weighs 20 pounds. (I weighed the big heavy blanket that I’d been using, doubled, for weight. 20 pounds.) Boyfriend has anxiety and got one and says he is sleeping much better. I can say he doesn’t twitch as much.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Hmmm. I have a friend who suffers dreadfully from fibro. I wonder if that would help her.

      2. Cat Meowmy Admin*

        A friend of mine (we’re over 60) got one last Christmas. It’s drastically helped her insomnia as well as muscle aches and even leg cramps – hate those ugh. (There are no more after midnight social media posts about how she can’t sleep. Close your Facebook app, Karen! No wonder you’re wide awake.) My niece is an LMT (licensed massage therapist, Swedish Institute); she treats clients with fibro’ and a weighted blanket is one of the therapies she recommends for relief. Not a cure of course, but I know of at least 5 people who love theirs.

      3. LilySparrow*

        I love mine, it just came with a fuzzy cover & is so dang hot. I need to finish the cotton cover, have the fabric already.

        If there is an Ollie’s Closeouts anywhere nearby, they had the 15 pounders for $49, and I think they were having trouble moving them in the heatwave, because the last flyer we got showed them down to $39.

      4. What the What*

        Wow—I definitely need to try a weighted blanket! I have ankylosing spondylitis (and possibly fibromyalgia as well). I LOVE the lead apron at the dentist office. Is there a good brand that doesn’t sleep hot? I am a blast furnace ;)

    28. Dusty Bunny*

      My 5 speed KitchenAid hand mixer. (I also have the stand mixer, but I LOVE the hand mixer!) It’s 25 years old and still works great. I predict one day I will be mid-baking project and it will die, and I will be very sad. And then I’ll run out and buy a new one.

      1. Alexandra Lynch*

        After 15 years, one of the welded on ears of my stand mixer’s bowl broke off. Yes, mid-recipe. We immediately ordered a new bowl. My boyfriend had weight loss surgery, and every morning he eats a piece of quichecake, which is half quiche, half cheesecake, and I don’t want to try to make it without a stand mixer.

    29. KaladinSB*

      Leatherman Wave multitool. Absolutely indispensable at work and in the garage, and not too shabby in everyday life as well.

      Similarly, basic pocket knives. I’ve got more than I know what to do with already, but Kershaw Leeks and Shallots are just about perfectly suited for everyday tasks, and sleek and comfortable to boot.

  4. Mid*

    The Comma Incident

    Okay, so it’s Thanksgiving. It’s been a hard year for a lot of family members–deaths, illnesses, injuries, layoffs–basically no one is in their best form at this time. And, of course, long hours, lots of travel, cramped quarters, none of that exactly brings out the best in people either. I love my family, and they are good people, honestly!

    Now, as a note, I was quite young when this occurred, and I’m sure some of the details are exaggerated for dramatic affect, as tends to happen in family stories.

    Alright. So, it’s Thanksgiving. Small house, large family, stressful year all around. Everyone made it through the majority of dinner with minimal sass and snark, and only a few passive aggressive comments were made. We’ve avoided politics and religion, sticking to the usual safe topics of weather, family gossip, neighborhood gossip, bragging, and sports. Then, somehow, the topic of Oxford Commas comes up. Note, this is not a family of English teachers, or really any academics, so how exactly this topic came about is murky (though I’m pretty sure I’m the one who brought it up, as that is around the time I was studying that in school.) But somehow, a friendly discussion about whether or not we should use Oxford Commas starts to devolved. People are grabbing books and magazines and newspapers, trying to prove they’re correct. Then, someone made a comment about how “Aunt [A] shouldn’t talk, since she flunked English in high school!” This, of course, shocks Aunt A’s mother, who was not aware of A failing any classes, and thought that A was a solid A-B student. A’s brother, Uncle [B], then says something about A getting her grades up through…less than moral methods. A’s husband then stands up to defend his wife’s honor, saying that A would never sleep with a high school teacher. A looks down, appearing quite guilty. B stutters something about meaning that A faked her report cards, but A & B’s mother has noticed that A looks off.

    Now, it should be noted at this point that copious amounts of wine and other adult beverages had been consumed throughout the day, so speech-filters weren’t firing on all cylinders.

    A’s mother asks her why she’s making that face. A then blurts out that she slept with her high school English teacher several years ago (not while she was a student, she had graduated many years prior.)

    Aunt C starts laughing, saying “that’s just like your mother!” (Aunt C is closer in age to A’s mother than to A, and they had been friends for many decades.) Great-aunt then attempts to shush C, but ends up hitting her fork, and flings mashed potatoes across the room, landing on my father’s hair. Now, my father likes to consider himself a funny guy, a joker, a prankster even. So, naturally, he decides to fling potatoes back at Great-aunt.

    A small food-fight ensues, with the children and dogs thoroughly enjoying the show (and floor food, in the case of the dogs). It seems light-hearted at first, but quickly turns vicious. Names are being called, divorces threatened, curses are flying. Food stops being flung, but insults don’t. A is a floozy gold-digger, B is a lazy bum, C is an old hag, Great-Aunt is an alcoholic witch, my mother is spoiled and bad at raising kids, my father is a workaholic who doesn’t love his children, D peaked in high school, E is never going to get married if she dresses like that, and so on and so forth.

    Eventually, one of the young children starts crying, which snaps people out of their arguing, and everyone dissipates throughout the house, muttering things about needing to get some air/check on the pies/change the baby/check the score. There is an uneasy peace for the rest of the visit, with no one acknowledging the insanity that had occurred less than an hour prior. I guess in some ways, the fight was a good thing because everyone got to let off some steam. Though, to this day, the same combination of family members has NEVER been allowed to be in the same room together.

    No one spoke of The Comma Incident for several years, until the wine was flowing and someone made a crack about it one Christmas. It took several people chiming in to remember the root of the arguing–and so The Comma Incident gained its title, and it’s place in family lore.

    1. Free Meerkats*

      Great, now I have to try to go to sleep with intermittent chuckling vs the occasional snort eruption…
      Truthfully, it sounds like my wife’s family, except they’d still be arguing about it, lo these many years later.

    2. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      This is hysterical! And sounds very relatable, ngl… You have a talent for writing!

        1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

          @Mid, and you absolutely MUST repost this story on the weekend free for all just prior to Thanksgiving this year. This is pure gold. I’m dead. ;,D

    3. Sherm*

      Ah-maz-ing. If that same combination of family members should meet again, be sure to invite me!

    4. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Amazing. (And I come down firmly on the side of the Oxford comma! My work doesn’t let us use them for work purposes, which I continue to find absurd…)

    5. The Kerosene Kid*

      This made my morning.

      (PS English teacher here-I’m a strong proponent of the Oxford comma!)

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s like how the post about moving someone’s candy dish got 1400 impassioned comments.

    7. Reba*

      This is more spectacular than many stories on the Carolyn Hax holiday threads. Oh my GLOB. Thank you for sharing!

    8. T3k*

      Oh this is freaking amazing and hilarious and so glad you posted this (and I strongly support the Oxford comma!).

    9. Elizabeth West*

      OH.
      MY.
      GOD.

      I am DYING. This is one of the best stories ever. :’D And yes to the Oxford comma. Do not take it away from me.

      The food fight reminds me of one time when we had Thanksgiving dinner at my uncle’s old house. The dining room was so small that once everyone sat down, nobody could easily get up again. So we were passing rolls by literally throwing them, lol.

    10. I hate coming up with usernames*

      Uh. Wow. I can see the beginning of the argument because I DO come from a family of English teachers. In fact, I have a teacher bag that says, “You can have my Oxford comma when you pry it from my cold, dead, and lifeless hands.”

      But this is something else. Dang.

    11. Goldfinch*

      A lack of Oxford comma costs approximately five million dollars. Look up the Oakhurst Dairy case.

    12. vanillacookies*

      When I started reading this I misunderstood and expected a *coma* incident. What a wild ride!

      1. Lehigh*

        It sounds like the aunt was an adult by the time she slept with her high school teacher (“many years” after graduating.)

      1. Alexandra Lynch*

        Thank you for that link! I solved the “What do I get my sister for Christmas” problem.

  5. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    Has anyone here been a foster parent without a life partner or bio kids of your own? Experiences? What did you wish you had known beforehand?

    For BG: turning 30, single, thinking a LOT about my life long term and realising I want to make a meaningful difference. I work in mental health care with some pretty extreme issues so I actually think I could deal with behavioral issues / work on healthy attachment from a place of empathy and reliability. Not sure whether it would work practically, because while I am reasonably well off for a single person (own my home, sizeable nest egg which means I am not living paycheck to paycheck,, I don’t have the budget for a car, for example. And I do work close to fulltime. Not all my hours can flex.

    Any thoughts??

    1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      I should add: not in the US. My Western European country has good social security and the local foster care agency is competent. They do a long (months) assessment and prep process for prospective foster parents.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I just went to a foster care info session last week, and I think it might be really tricky without a car — you’ve got to drive your kids to a lot of appointments (doctors, therapy, visitation with parents, etc.). But it could be different where you live; it’s worth asking!

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Yeah, personally I get by without one very well because the public transport here is so good. But it does mean the school at least would have to be reasonably nearby. That seems like the big one re: convenience and not adding an hour commute everyday.

        Glad to hear I am not alone in considering it!

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          In my country, children in foster care or adopted from care are guaranteed a place at the foster parent’s/s’ preferred school regardless of how full it is. That recognises how important the school setting is for settling a child into a new home.

          1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

            Can I ask where you are?
            I will definitely ask about this. I think for short term placements, this would not be the case. Maybe for long term though!

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              UK (specifically, England). Sometimes it’s important for foster children to be at a school where nobody knows them, or to be with other members of the foster family. The law regarding school place allocations in England is complex but “cared for” children jump the queue as their need for suitable schooling is considered more important than other considerations (class size, proximity to home, etc).

              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                Which is to say, the foster family gets to choose which school, whether that’s staying where they are, going to the brilliant school across town with extra provision for something foster child enjoys, going to the nearest school, or whatever is most suitable for that child.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Interesting. In our county, they try to keep the kids in their original school, even if the foster home is outside that school district — otherwise you can get a situation where the kids are being moved from school to school, causing further disruption in their lives.

            1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

              I would imagine that is the reasoning here as well; a lot of emphasis is places on minimizing disruption for the kids. Additionally, agencies stress that the parents are the actual parents and foster parents are encouraged to maximally support parental authority (unless it is actually bad for the kid). I would imagine upholding their decision as to schooling would be included in that.

    3. Zombie Unicorn*

      I’ve worked with kids in foster acre and to be honest you will struggle without a car. I also know at least one person who works in mental health who made a great foster parent but had to give it up because it was like a busman’s holiday and meant they never got a break from being a helper (because obviously foster kids are usually traumatised). I don’t mean to discourage you, but I would think carefully about your potential for burnout.

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        That’s a really important point, thank you! I am actually starting a round of therapy in the fall partly to help explore this. I would only want to do this is if it sustainable and good in the long term. So I don’t wanna just think about how rewarding it might be.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          One thing we’re thinking about is starting with respite care — meaning that you’re a short-term respite home rather than the long-term placement. We figure that especially since we’ve never raised kids, that might be a good way to ease into it rather than jumping into a long-term placement immediately. Maybe something like that is an option for you too?

          1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

            That was actually my first thought as well – it is hard to predict how first time parenting might go. One downside to that is that it would be more difficult to make big adjustments (like moving things around to maybe get a car anyway) for something short term. But I think it is generally likely the more responsible route. Our agencies do need multiple types of care (short, long, parttime, crisis), and I know of people who also did one short placement before deciding on whether to offer a long term place (to a different child).

            Thank you for sharing!

          2. Scandinavian in Scandinavia*

            Something that is done a lot in my country is weekend families as help for strained families and kids. This can help the parents do sufficiently well to actually keep their kids (rather than have them go into the care system), and the kids get the attention of adults with more resources (and possibly some weekend siblings). Maybe something to consider.

            1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

              That’s also one of the options here! I am less attracted to that as opposed to short or long term fulltime care because it seems difficult to me as a childless person to suddenly sometimes have to entertain a kid for a weekend. As opposed, I guess, to people who already have families. But I will certainly consider all options! Maybe it will turn out to be right for me.
              Thank you!

              1. Owler*

                I think if you reframe what it means to entertain a child, you might be more comfortable. If their lives have more upheaval, they might benefit from seeing your low-key steady day. (I’m thinking of a friend who loved seeing my family sit at the dining room table for dinner together every night.)

                Think of your own life-maintaining weekend habits and see if any of them would work to do with a kid in tow. Like food: most of the kids I know benefit from seeing an adult cooking, shopping for groceries, meal planning.

              2. Baru Cormorant*

                I think it would be easier to entertain a kid for a weekend then to suddenly do full-time care for short/long term. It’s like having a friend visit vs. getting a roommate. You wouldn’t need as much stuff as you would for full-time care and it would be easier to ease into it as a childless person, I would think.

      2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        I think the car issue differs by where you live, though – Diaz is in Western Europe. When I lived in Western Europe, there were tons of people with kids who didn’t have cars; my neighbours, like a lot of other parents I observed, would truck their kids around in a… sort of tricycle with a tent attached? Not just a sidecar strapped onto a bicycle, it was more heavy-duty than that. People basically didn’t own cars unless they absolutely had to – or unless they were rich – because they were insanely expensive there, easily triple what you’d pay in the US.

        1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

          Yep, a car would cost me in the vinicity of 200-300 euros a month all included. Everything is near at hand and I can get to both my jobs on public transport with no issue.

          People use the contraptions you describe quite a lot here! Parents in the city will sometimes not own a car, although people who live in small towns usually will. I could purchase a kid lugging bike for much less than a car and not need gas or insurance, just a garage nearby. But that would only make sense based on a specific child longer term. If they are older we can both ride bikes. If they only stay for a few weeks it wouldn’t be worth such a big purchase (electrical variant is about 2k!!).

    4. Shay*

      This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 18.
      I’m severely disabled and online I’ve helped many high school students navigate accommodations and their IEPs. I’ve written about my experiences in Special Ed and am working on getting those essays published. It is deeply fulfilling work.
      In high school and my freshman year of college, I also taught anti bullying “classes” to middle schoolers. I found I deeply enjoyed the work. I also just randomly get ideas about how to teach different subjects in a fun, engaging, and different way.
      Putting all this together, I think I would love to parent / mentor young people with disabilities.
      I’m not at a place in life where I can do that and I might never be. :(

      When I was growing up my mom arranged for local artist to baby sit us. We would be dropped off at their studio for most of the day, given instructions and a lesson, and worked on our project while the artist worked on her work. I loved it. I also went to classes at the community arts center and took more structured classes in local artists homes. I think this last one is something I could plausibly do and enjoy.
      I actually took one charcoal drawing class (because my parents did NOT want me working with charcoal anywhere in their home) that I just did my own thing while the instructor went through the lessons. It was an adult class and it REALLY pissed off this one other student.

      1. Theguvnah*

        This online helping is so wonderful and not something I have thought much about. Thank you!

      2. Teach*

        There are people who have made a living doing coaching and instruction on parenting and self-advocacy for teens with learning challenges , in case that is good info for you to know. Seth Perler is one example – a good mix of free published work, videos, and paid courses and services.

    5. Shay*

      I’ve also heard a lot of horror stories from foster parents. I know they are probably rare but it’s not a perfect, or possibly even good, system. I don’t think I could withstand an experience like that.

    6. Blythe*

      I am a single foster mom in the US. Depending on your area, the car may or may not be an issue. For me, here, it would be. But, I could imagine being a foster parent in, say, London or New York City. It would really depend on the available public transportation and your work flexibility.

      I will say— trauma and attachment issues are way, way harder when they are in my home rather than at my place of work. I don’t regret doing it— I took more kids, in fact— but it is the hardest thing (emotionally, physically, and logistically) that I have ever done. If Alison is able/willing, she can send you my email address and you are welcome to contact me directly.

  6. Orphan Brown*

    Does anyone else go through life feeling like you did something horribly wrong? I experience each day anxious and feeling like I’m going to get in trouble for something. I was literally sent to the principal’s office in elementary school and it’s exactly that feeling. When I try to narrow in on what it is, it’s most often nothing at all that I can pinpoint, but if it is something specific it ends up being something really silly. I’m in my late thirties. Just wondering if anyone else experiences this too.

    1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      I’ve had that happen to me, it’s very unsettling! Are there specific times of the day you feel this way, or is it random? For me, I was afraid of getting in trouble for forgetting something, anything. So I kept a note pad handy to jot down even the silliest or most obvious things that I had to remember, as well as the important stuff. Helped me sleep better at night and reduced waking up with that feeling. You may not be concerned with forgetting things at all, it could be something else that worries you. Try to journal when you feel that way. You may see a pattern or a way to an answer, and journaling may even help you feel a bit more in control of those feelings. That experience of being sent to the principal’s office when you were a child is enough to give anyone that kind of fear! You’re not alone.

      1. Orphan Brown*

        Forgetting things is sometimes the silly thing! It’s often random. Keeping a notebook is a good idea.

    2. Chaordic One*

      This sounds dangerously close to being a work-related post, but, yeah, it is something I have dealt with in the past and continue to deal with from time to time.

      Counseling involving use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helped me a lot and I would recommend it. In retrospect, I wish I had sought it out earlier.

      1. Orphan Brown*

        I will check that out! I actually wasn’t thinking about work when I posted this, this just happens in my life on a regular basis. But it does also happen at work but in those instances I can pinpoint the issue (that I’m procrastinating on a difficult task, or feeling unheard by people, etc) Outside of the workplace it’s very hard to pinpoint sometimes.

    3. YetAnotherUsername*

      I have a couple of colleagues with anxiety disorder and this sounds very much like how they described their symptoms.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        It’s very much like how I experience my symptoms, too. Since CBT and autism don’t always mix well, I get 90mg of Cymbalta. Frankly, I’d recommend the CBT. :p

    4. Christy*

      Yes, I have clinical anxiety, lol! Wellbutrin and CBT have been godsends along with regular exercise.

    5. Washi*

      Yep! Frequently! I usually describe it as feeling I have a huge life-changing exam tomorrow and I have procrastinated studying for months (so a combination of guilt, self-loathing, and dread.)

      This is not a silver bullet, but it has helped me over time:
      1. I feel the feeling. I sit somewhere quiet, close my eyes, and try to feel the feeling with every part of my body.
      2. After a couple minutes, often the feeling recedes a little, like a wave crashing on the shore and retreating. The water is still there, but it’s not towering over me.
      3. After that, when I notice I’m feeling like that again, I note it to myself – “ok, brain is doing that thing again” and then without trying to shove it away, continue with my day.

      The other big pieces has been tackling negative self-talk and being too hard on myself, so reducing the guilt I feel about actual concrete things has, I think, also reduced this amorphous guilty-about-nothing feeling that would often envelope me.

      1. Shay*

        I love the “feel the feeling” wording. That is exactly what I do but I didn’t have the words to explain it.

    6. Snarflepants*

      Sure, I felt like that every day before I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Also when I drink too much coffee.

    7. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      I’m not sure if it’s exactly what you’re talking about, but I used to wake up with these horrible feelings of panic and guilt that would last all day, often many days. I would think that I must have done something TERRIBLE to someone and then forgotten what it was, making me feel even worse! I would skulk around, scared, guilty, and anxious, apologising for every little thing, trying to figure out what I had done and to whom. Not easy for those around me!
      After years of this, I finally started tracking the guilt surges and it turns out they were ‘just’ part of how PMS manifests for me. The problem didn’t go away, but knowing the root mitigates the panic and means I can stay in control until it passes. No more tailspins! Fortunately, it’s gotten a lot less frequent and strong as I’ve gotten older.

    8. Vincaminor*

      Yes, and also like any decision I made was going to be the wrong one and lead to catastrophe.
      I finally went to my doctor and she prescribed a) lexapro; b) counselling. Generalised anxiety disorder no longer runs my life, and I can get through the day without waiting for the other shoe to drop. Which is not to tell you what to do, but this sounds a lot like brain chemistry shenanigans and it’s really nice not to be carrying that anymore.

    9. Lilysparrow*

      I have that dread from time to time. Sometimes it’s (relatively) true, and my subconscious is trying to remind my ADHD conscious of a thing I forgot, which may or may not be as important or urgent as the feeling would indicate. Working on my org systems and having backups I can check helps with that. Also having built a better repertoire of options to recover from mistakes.

      I mean, once you’ve screwed up enough important things and gone through the process of fixing them enough times, your attitude changes from “oh, no, disaster!” To “well, that sucks.”

      Other times it isn’t true at all. That usually indicates that I’m sleep deprived or stressed about something else, and my brain is making up stories to explain why it has all those stress hormones washing around.

      Or on rare occasions, I will get that feeling of dread because I’m catching something and my body is trying to fight it off. It is possible for your body to give you strong but nonspecific “something is wrong” signals that feel like emotional stress or worry.

      Whenever it’s not a real thing forgotten, stress management & sleep hygiene are my place to start.

      Bonus – stress mgt & sleep hygiene also make my brain remember things better.

    10. saddesklunch*

      This sounds very similar to how I felt before I got treatment for anxiety. I was already in therapy, but when it got really bad my therapist referred me to a psychiatrist who put me on a low dose of an SSRI (setraline) for about 5 months. I’ve been off the meds for more than 2 years now and very rarely feel that anxious anymore, and my anxiety is much easier to manage when it comes up.

  7. Cat Meowmy Admin*

    “I tawt I taw a puddytat!”
    Hubz and I are happily owned human slaves of 2 former strays (they each ‘self-rescued’). Both black cats, purely coincidental. Baby (F) is age 6, Mr. Spock (M) is apx 18 months. There are 5 years between between them becoming part of our lives. We did introductions verrry sloowwwly. (Google is your friend in this.) Because cats. Will do things in *their* time, not ours. (About 3 months time in this case, sometimes more/less.) Patience and consistency is definitely paying off, as they are co-habitating very well. Baby is the older Diva ‘big sisfur’ of the household, and she gets annoyed sometimes by the exuberance of her ‘little brofur’. Baby is a cuddly lap cat, while Spock, who was more cuddly during his ‘acclamation period’, is growing into his boisterous adolescence. Prince of the Zoomies. I tell ya, the dynamics are “fascinating, captain”. Their shared love of Temptations treats is how they understand that ‘good things happen when they are together’. (Treats in moderation of course.) And playtime. Admittedly, we both need to engage in more playtime with them, despite our exhaustion from work. We all feel so much better when we play with them, reduces stress and releases endorphins. And they’re both so freaking cute, it shouldn’t be so hard to find the time.
    So, fellow pet pawrents: how do you plan playtime with your furkids? What activities are on their joy meowmeter?

    (Side note: we’ve had dogs before too, and we also manage our TNR’d backyard feral cat colony. TNR = Trap Neuter Return. Google it- the most effective and humane way to manage the feral cat population. Our ferals, who we love, are now age 6. Happy, healthy, well-fed, vaccinated, spayed/neutered. We provide daily food and water, and have insulated outdoor shelter dens for them in our backyard to keep them warm and toasty in cold weather. It’s seriously one of the most fulfilling things we’ve ever done. Helps the cats and our community. We’re equal opportunity animal lovers.) <3

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The Elder Statesdog is pretty sedate, due to being almost 12, so her requests for attention involve walking up to someone and basically putting her head under their hand for pettins. She gets insistent if one doesn’t get the hint at first, but is also a master of guilt trips (being a chronically sad-looking bloodhound mix) and passive resistance. (The guilt trip I got last night for not letting her eat a catnip mousie, good lord.)

      The Puppycat, who (despite being feline) thinks she is a smaller version of the Elder Statesdog, does the best she can to do the same thing, usually by standing on the coffee table. She also gives kisses (or sands arms down for repainting, depending on who you ask). Her sister is a big chicken everywhere outside of my husband’s office, but if in the office will demand pets and tummy rubs. She actually came to us because, at the shelter, she reached out of her kennel and grabbed me by the bun with both paws and wouldn’t let go.

      Junior Ambassador is almost 5 and the only one of the whole menagerie who really wants human assistance for playing. Except she mostly just wants people to hold her toys or bones while she pulls or chews on them. And despite being 50 pounds and ten miles of legs (boxer/whippet mix), she will regularly insist on climbing into my lap to snuggle, especially in winter. She curls up pretty small. :)

      1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

        This is so heartwarming and I read it over and over again. Loving the names of Elder Statesdog, Puppycat, Junior Ambassador! Our senior rescued dog Jericho (age 15 when he passed) used to do the same thing for pettins (love that too). He would even approach every person in the waiting room at the vet’s office for attention. And that shelter kitty definitely chose you, pulling on your bun, omg melting. Thank you for sharing that sweet story. <3

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Hehe. I am actually not a cat person at all, so my husband and housemate (who both are) were wandering around the shelter cooing at cats and I was standing in the lobby just kinda waiting for them to pick a couple :) all of a sudden I couldn’t move my head any more, and after a minute I was like “can someone go in that room and let the guy in the green button-down know that one of his cats has his wife by the head out here?” Turns out the reason she was in the lobby by herself was that her littermate was in sick bay with an eye infection. We took them both, the other one as foster-to-adopt because of the medication. After three months of different meds and worsening infections, we were finally like “she hates this, we hate this, can we just *cork pop noise*?” Funny thing is, their shelter names were pirate themed. So while the Puppycat (who’s true name is Captain Kyna Whitepaws, SCOURGE OF LAND AND SEA) was in surgery, we sat Princess Kiara Scaredyfluff the Black down for a lecture about how there would be no hook paws or peg legs, even if we could get her sister to wear an eye patch. (It still hasn’t worked.)

          The Elder Statesdog is Angua Grace Puppinsky-Rompanopolis, Lieutenant General of the Red Hound Army and High Ambassador to the Kitten Kingdom, and the Junior Ambassador is Alannah Jane Sleepyface Corporal Radar Wigglebottom the Froshus, Queen of the Carrot Mafia and Bane of All Flossiraptors Errywhere. :)

          The cats are husband’s, the doggos are mine. (Though I actually adopted Angua from husband when we were still friends – I joke that he married me because I wouldn’t let him take her back.)

          All four of them have been created as D&D style adventurer characters – I sponsored the Pugmire game system – and every Christmas my husband writes me a story about the adventures of Angua and Alannah. One year, the cats joined them in their quest, and they all worked together to save Trismas for the puppies and kittens of the city orphanage after all the presents were stolen by wicked rats. :)

          1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

            Just when I thought I couldn’t love this story more, you went and nailed it! This gives me life and you made my day! :D
            So, I spent the last hour reading about the Pugmire Realm game, a magical thing I never heard of before, and how your pets’ names are sheer perfection. (And I thought we were clever naming our former fosters after the characters in Bewitched ha!)

            I’m all in the feels about the stories your husband writes for you each Christmas (Trismas!) and the roles your pets have in the stories. Priceless.

            PS – *cork pop noise* is like the best description evahh for eye enucleation! We rescued a kitty years ago with a huge golf ball eye infection, our vet treated and performed surgery pro bono, and the lead vet tech adopted him. His name is One-Eyed Willie and he won’t wear an eye patch either lol.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              My front hall is puppy-dedicated. One wall has a collage frame of their pictures, the other side has framed art (some from a friend, some from convention art commissions) of my pups in their Pugmire personas. :) This year’s convention art addition was the cats in their pirate gear. :)

              Trismas is my own household’s answer to the winter holidays, celebrated on December 24th or whenever all unrelated members of a chosen-family group are available around whatever bio-family obligations they might have. Gifts are brought by the Trismas Yeti, Santa Paws, and Sasha the Christmas Tiger. (Which, btw, if you google Sasha – I didn’t come up with her, I just borrowed her, but the original Tumblr post along with its subsequent comments and fan art is a riot.) We usually sip whiskey cocktails, eat Chinese food, watch Die Hard (the original), and open presents and Trismas Boxes (because I always go overboard and can’t ever stuff everything into the stockings, so I just huck it all into cardboard boxes, which is also why I needed three third-parties for “gift delivery” :P ). Last year’s story involved Angua Bloodhound and Alannah Whippet meeting the Trismas Yeti and being deemed NICE DOGS. :)

              1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

                Wow!! Pups in their Pugmire personas and the cats in their pirate gear – as convention art commissions – I’m imagining this right now; must be the best art gallery ever, in your own home!
                That sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate the winter holidays, we do something similar. And I use boxes for multiple gifts too, we think alike. When I have time, I’ll make the box itself as part of the gift by wrapping the box and lid separately, then decorating it with some personalization (initials of the recipient, etc).
                I will now go off to explore more about Sasha the Christmas Tiger! I have so enjoyed your comments, and I feel like I made a new friend. All the best to you and your husband, and each of your amazing pets. :D

    2. GoryDetails*

      Three months of introduction time – wow! I hope I don’t have to take that long… I lost my beloved fluffy senior cat a couple of weeks ago and have been thinking of getting a new companion for lively ginger junior cat, but have been worried about how the introductions will go. I *think* junior cat would be happy to have a playmate – he kept trying to wrestle with senior cat, who wasn’t up for that and shrugged him off, though they did play tag up and down the hall now and then – and if I got a cat that was known to be OK with other cats in the past perhaps it’d work out, but I worry about choosing the right one, taking enough time, factors beyond my control – heck, I just worry!

      Oddly enough, when I was a kid my family acquired cats by the “stray wandered up and moved in” method, with occasional deliberate choices such as getting an adorable Siamese kitten; nobody ever seemed to worry about getting the cats properly introduced, they’d just add the new cat and let them all work it out. And I don’t recall any explosions; indeed, we have photos of three unrelated cats all curled up together on top of the TV cabinet. Left me unprepared for introducing cats with touchier personalities, I guess…

      1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

        First, you have my heartfelt deepest sympathy on the very recent loss of your beloved fluffy senior cat. I’m sending you internet hugs. (( <3 )) Give yourself whatever time you need to grieve and heal; we pet people are in solidarity and empathy with you.
        For the most part, acclamation time between 2 cats doesn't necessarily take as long as it did for us. I mentioned the 3 months for for our 2 cats so that others wouldn't be discouraged if they weren't seeing progress as soon as they hoped. In our case, a major factor in the extended time is that our older cat (age 6) had been the *only* cat in the household for 5+ years since we rescued her as a 7 month old. When we brought in Mr. Spock late last fall, she was clearly "wtf" about the matter. Mr. Spock stayed in a spare "sanctuary" room (to help him adjust to indoor life). We gradually introduced with smells and sounds before they made direct eye contact. (Rubbing socks on their cheeks, then exchanging socks between the cats so they got used to each other's scent. This worked wonders.) Feeding them on opposite sides of the closed door (starting a few feet away then gradually moving closer to the door. Still out of sight. We watched for their cues to let us know they were comfortable proceeding further. Baby was spending more time hanging out by the door, and they began playing pawsies underneath the door. The real cat-to-cat intros that followed were a few minutes at a time, and Baby's hissing was normal and expected.
        The tips you can find on Jackson Galaxy's website and by googling "introducing a new cat to a current cat" have been invaluable. We used the ones that had similar advice across the board. Because sometimes too, you have to start all over from scratch, and that's normal also.
        Your young energetic ginger kitty would probably love having a companion, probably a similar age and temperament. A local rescue group would benefit you and kitty, as their cats are often in foster homes already and they know their individual personalities and temperaments. They do the preliminary matching for you based on what you're looking for, lifestyle, etc. The rescue group can then save another cat from the shelter when you adopt from them, thus saving 2 lives. (And if it doesn't work out, any reputable rescue group will take the cat back for rehoming.)
        Please don't feel that you're unprepared. Years ago, we all took in strays the same way and no one gave a second thought to whether they'd get along. It's how things were done, and still done now. As with most things pet-related, there's a boom of wealth of info and new techniques out there now, and this is where much of the 'new methods' come from. YMMV, you take what's feasible and adapt to what works for you and your own pets.
        Sending you purrs and head bonks!

      2. Miles*

        3 months is definitely not the normal amount of time it takes. It took ours a week and they probably would have been fine with 4-5 days. Ours are two unrelated male cats, the older one being 5 when we added the younger one, and the older one hadn’t had much experience with other cats before, and both are anxiety-prone, so it wasn’t like they were primed for accepting each other. Taking a couple days to do it is worth it, but chances are it won’t take very long.

        1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

          True. Our situation was uniquely extended due to a variety of circumstances. Generally, I’ve read/heard that anywhere from 1-6 weeks is average, depending on the cats, and other factors. We had to keep our new cat quarantined for awhile in the beginning so that added to the time, I should have mentioned that. With some cats it can take longer, so I wanted to mention the extended time so people wouldn’t give up. And sometimes things happen where you can have setbacks and then have to go back a few steps or to square one. :)

    3. Nicki Name*

      Hello, fellow colony caretaker!

      One thing we do is make playtime part of the routine. For instance, the indoor cats who like the red dot know that it usually comes out after I bring the outdoor food bowl in and change the litter in the evening. (Also, I strongly recommend the red dot as something which takes minimal human effort for maximum cat exercise.

      1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

        Hi and Meow! You are my people! Ahh yes, the magical red dot – excellent idea making that part of the routine. We can then also reward our 2 for being good and staying out of the way while we tend to the colony cats. Thanks for the tip!
        (We’ve been TNR certified since 2015. Our colony started with 2 pregnant mama cats who came to our backyard looking for food and a safe place to give birth. Extremely feral, so no dice on rescuing. We provided food and outdoor nesting dens for them. In no time it seemed, our colony grew to 15 cats/kittens. Overwhelmed, we researched “how to help feral cats” and were led to the wonders of TNR. Took the free workshop and became certified. We got help by participating hands-on with volunteers from a local rescue; we also fostered the friendlies until they were adopted. Over the years, some cats have passed away, and some have self-relocated to other neighborhood feeders (thankfully, we got them fixed first). Our colony is now at a manageable 6 regulars, with a couple of other eartipped visiting cats from nearby colonies. Dasher, Shadooby, Tanya, Dreamy, Peekaboo, ZigZag. TNR has been life changing, for the cats and us. Bless you for what you do too. <3

      2. Cat Meowmy Admin*

        Oh, and “minimal human effort for maximum cat exercise” really speaks to me! :)

      3. Cats!*

        A suggestion for playing with the red dot is to end the laser game by moving the red dot to a toy or even make a red dot filled with catnip, so they get their prey (reward) after hunting the red dot, otherwise the cats never catch it and it can be very unfulfilling for them.

        1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

          That’s an excellent idea, thanks! The same for cats as for humans – we hate that proverbial carrot just out of reach. You’re right, by their nature, the cats need their fulfillment reward of catching their prey. We do this with other forms of play, and this is a great way to apply the same principle to the elusive red dot. :)

    4. cat socks*

      I’m currently owned by 5 stray cats. One of then is a former TNR kitty and has the ear tip.

      I try to play with them in the evenings when I’m home from work and any other times when they get the zoomies. Sometimes I’ll bring out a toy to distract them if it seems like a fight will ensue.

      I’ll take a couple of the cats to the basement for individual playtime.

      They all love Da Bird. I have some mouse shaped toys I switch out with the feathers. Also very long piece of string tied to a long rod.

      Sometimes I’ll throw out plastic rings or a balled up piece of paper for them to chase around the kitchen.

      Also catnip stuffed toys are a hit. I love the Yeoww brand.

      The Flingama String toy is a big hit too. I’ll attach it to the pantry door while I’m in the kitchen and it usually draws in a couple of them.

      1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

        5 stray-no-more cats, that’s pawesome! Yes, the eartip is like a badge of honor. <3 Thanks for the great ideas! We have toys that we alternate, so they always seem new to our cats when we bring the toys out again, like old friends. Mr. Spock likes to search for the hidden treasure of cat toys that we keep stashed away for rotation, so the hiding places are always in rotation too lol. Once, we came home from work to find that he ripped open his catnip toy, found him laying in a small pile of catnip, all over him, and he was happily stoned. Now it's catnip pawtys under supervision. Yes, the simplest things entertain them – the string/ribbon on a stick-wand, bare cardboard rolls from paper towels and bathroom tissue, crumpled pieces of paper, etc. One of them recently discovered the joys of scratching to their heart's content on a cheap styrofoam cooler that catdad forgot to put away. Styro micro pieces everywhere, including all over the cat lol. :D

    5. TL -*

      Kitty (1.5 years) usually just lets me know that it’s time to play and I go find her feather toy (she loves it like a binky.) I used to run her up and down the stairs with it but we don’t have stairs in our current place.

      I also will chase her around, drop bottle caps on the floor for her, and she loves stalking/playing with insects. I get her a new toy every now and then but honestly she’s happy with her binky and the occasional bottle cap I throw on the floor. I’m usually not doing much when she wants to play so I just get up and grab her toy when she starts running around. (I can’t justify “no playtime” with “I’m reading/watching TV/surfing the web” – thinking of it that way really helps me.)

      1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

        Thanks! And totally agree. We both work long hours most days, my husband works 2 jobs with only one day off per week. We’re just exhausted most of the time when we get home. After some time to unwind and recharge our batteries, we’ll get our second wind and then it’s playtime later at night before bedtime. The disadvantage to that is that both cats want to keep it going long afterwards haha – we can barely stay awake. We have some other toys that they can play with on their own though. Usually they’re hopping on us in bed to keep playing lol. Then it’s the zoomies at 3:00 am waking us up, but it’s all good, as long as they’re happy. I wish I had their energy. Love the bottle caps idea. :)

    6. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      Thank you for sharing your experiences, personal stories, and tips. Much appreciated. I usually don’t get to comment on the weekend (there are so many others). I thought it might be helpful to share some of our own experiences, as we have rescued, cared for, fostered, socialized, placed in homes, and adopted both cats and dogs over many years. Small scale of course – hubz and I don’t claim to be experts, but knowledge based on what we’ve been through and learned from, through the good times and sad times related to animals. Shared in the hopes that it may help others, food for thought. Enjoy your weekend. :)

  8. OyHiOh*

    I live close enough to pallisades peaches that I can get them off a truck half a day after they were plucked from a tree. And our state had a rather unusual spring/early summer weather pattern than led to the biggest, juciest, richest peaches I think I’ve ever had, and that’s living in the state where Pallisades peaches come from. I acquired a box last weekend. Baked with a few right away. Fed them to children for afternoon snacks. Scheduled a pie baking day with Neptune and spent an hour last night blanching, peeling, and slicing peaches in preparation for pie baking today.

    The details are fairly unimportant. Neptune’s sister is in town so I got to meet her (she’s lovely, motherly in a kind and not at all overbearing way). We baked 8 pies. One of his neighbors dropped in, and got the most ridiculously happy photo of us both working at the counter with ear to ear smiles. If you didn’t know our individual trauma and pain stories, it would look over the top cheese. But knowing the stories, it’s a beautiful photo.

    Therapy’s been interesting. We talked about acceptance and change. Something I’m comfortable talking about for once! Time for origin story:

    When I was eleven, a man stood alone in Tiennamen Square and stopped a line of tanks. Later in the same year, after I’d turned twelve, the Berlin Wall fell. And from these events and their aftermath, I learned at a very young age that change is inevitable, that it is hard, but also amazing. It was very strange to be precocious enough to be aware enough and understand the significance and also young and childlike enough to still view change and struggle to change with childish magic and wonder. And then as a teenager, I discovered the novels of Chaim Potok. One of the themes that runs through all of his stories is the sense of balance and tension between light and dark. You cannot have good things without the existence of bad things. Good/evil. Light/shadow. One would mean nothing without the other. And then I read a book about something entirely unrelated to change and acceptance but had a story about what becoming an adult means. And this author wrote about an ancient meso american belief that a child could not become an adult until they understood that for any one thing to live, something else has to die. That statement has lived powerfully in the back of my brain for decades. Finally, just within the last week, I saw a quote to the effect of “If I hadn’t given you a push, you would never have changed. — Universe”

    Leading to therapy last week, where my therapist happened to mention (in a positive way because for now I’m doing well) that within grief, acceptance isn’t just about acknowledging that you’ve lost an important human/animal and they’re not coming back, but also accepting the ways in which your life is new/different after loss. And that really rang true for me. I’m not sure when was the last time I said “It wasn’t supposed to be this way,” “in real time” rather than reflecting on something from months ago. My life is new and different. In some ways harder, in some ways better. Things are going to keep on changing, because that’s the nature of this world we live in and we can go along with it, knowing that change is hard and feels uncomfortable a lot of times, or we can get dragged along kicking and screaming, in which case change will probably feel more uncomfortable than it would have otherwise.

    I’m happy, you guys. I’m just happy.

    1. Watermelon M*

      I saw palisade peaches and had to comment. You’re in Colorado? When I moved here everyone was telling me to get those peaches. I must have bad luck, I haven’t had a good one (juicy, but they’re not sweet.)

      Also glad to here you’re happy! And going to therapy. Therapy is so good.

      1. Mid*

        You gotta buy them from the back of a truck on the roadside. They’re the best that way. And this year really has been amazing for peaches.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Oh Palisade peaches!! I miss them SO MUCH. The peaches we get here are really good, but I miss the Palisades. (And Rocky Ford peaches and cantaloupe, and southern foothills apples…)

      1. OyHiOh*

        We were at the watermelon fest in Rocky Ford last weekend! Festival was a bit of a disappointment but the melons were amazing as always.

    3. Llellayena*

      I am seriously missing peach season at the North Carolina state farmers market right now. I have to keep reminding myself I moved back north for a reason…

      And I’m so glad you’re happy! That sounds like a perfect day!

    4. Southern Metalsmith*

      I’m glad you are happy. And what a great post, thanks for sharing that! And peaches! I grew up eating peaches from my grandaddy’s peach orchard in South Georgia. Yum.

    5. Effie, who gets to be herself*

      Yes! I’m so happy that you’re happy. Your posts have been an honor to read.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I’m glad that you’re happy.

      I remember when my husband died, I had this image of him on the beach of a wooded shore, and the kids and I were in a boat, sailing further and further away from him. It’s been a lot of years and I’m still a bit teary thinking of it. But it was a bittersweet image. He was staying in place, and we were not. We were sailing onward.

      I’m glad that you and your family are sailing onward. May your memories be a blessing.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I like the sailboat imagery. You’re going forward, going towards something. And it’s so hard to sail away from what you know. But necessary.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        When my father died, I could not shake off the image of him walking through the woods. He really loved the woods. I could picture him coming to the edge of the woods and waving. Then he’d turn and go back in. I would think to myself, “He loves it in the woods, who am I to tell him he has to come out here and be with me, when he is just so. very. happy.”

        Years later, the people who bought my father’s house in the woods, told me they could feel his spirit around the property. I am so not surprised.

    7. The night begins to shine*

      OMG, I am soooo happy we live in the Palisades peaches state!! We’re just getting them in the stores this past week (we’re probably more eastern plains than you are). The local ice cream shop had Colorado peach flavor yesterday

      1. OyHiOh*

        Peach ice cream is seriously the best. My normal go-to is buttered pecan/pecan praline but during the summer, it’s peach, every time I see it.

    8. Lilysparrow*

      Oh, thank you for sharing that beautiful description of the process.

      I’m so glad for you!

      And now I want peach pie, but we’re long past peach season here.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      You are making me smile, Oy. You have come such a long, long way. I think the number one thing you did and are still doing is talking it out. It makes such a huge difference to let other people in to our lives.

      There were a few months where other people just carried me, “com’on let’s go do this or that”. I went. It was fine.
      People are great, ya know. There are so many brave souls out there, who are willing to say, “I can’t fix this for you. But I CAN sit beside you while you sort and make decisions.” It takes a certain type of courage to help a person whose main problem you cannot fix, ever. Maybe it’s not truly courage, maybe it’s faith or maybe it’s a quiet knowing that when the person is ready they will be back on their feet. I dunno. But I do know that the collective wisdom of those people brought me through.

      I am very happy for you.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I absolutely would not have made this progress without the who were willing to sit and help figure things out! My housemate is amazing and patient and also very good at prodding in just the right way when I’ve needed it.

    10. NoLongerYoung*

      So happy for you! It is not a surprise that you were aware at that age… you have been wise and I have so learned from the things you have shared!

    11. Red*

      I was in line at the farmers market at 7:15 this am to pick up a box of seconds Palisade peaches. I’ll be processing batches of them this week in preparation for making some of my famous peach jams. Some of the peaches will, of course, end up in my mouth ;)

  9. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    We are driving over 400 miles today to take the children on a seaside holiday. That’s a long way for a European /grin/ so although it’s a holiday weekend for us, it isn’t at our destination.

    Pray for my back, and my ears!

    Anyone else heading off this weekend?

    1. Just a hypo*

      We are heading back from ours! Our drive was only about 200 miles though, if that. But my kids are 1,3 and 5 so every mile feels like ten. We had a wonderful seaside vacation.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I’m glad you had a good time. How much sand is there in the car…?

        We have only about 100 miles to go!

        1. Just a hypo*

          Oh so much sand. We got back home and I’m planning to spending tomorrow on laundry while DH cleans the car ;).

    2. Pam*

      I flew to Sacramento for a weekend with my brother and his family. So far, a wine dinner, a dim sum brunch, and plans for wine tasting tomorrow.

  10. Lora*

    Update on European vacation:

    I should have taken the bank card thing as a bad omen and turned around and gone home then and there.

    I often go to music and dance/fine arts festivals by myself and this is the first time I have ever been completely ostracized for about three days. It was frankly bizarre, to the point that I thought perhaps they were planning to sacrifice me to the local Celtic deity for another year of prosperity or something. I speak the language perfectly well, but people would stare at me for a while, then look away if I caught their gaze and smiled or waved. I was scolded by the event organizer for being late and that was the total amount of human interaction I had other than the customary greetings while buying food in France. I have never, ever been to one of these things and NOT made friends. I got kicked out of multiple restaurants for no particular reason: I’d have time to kill between events, sit down in what seemed to be a not-too-busy place, order a bottle of wine and a three course meal, check my messages and read some news on my phone, get about halfway through my food and wine and suddenly be told to pay up NOW and leave, thanks. I’d look around and there’s plenty of open tables, they’re not trying to get the table for someone else, it’s not late, so…? Okay, paid up and left. This happened three times. Some restaurants that clearly had tables available would tell me, “oh kitchen is closing” or “oh sorry nothing available” and then welcome other people in. I ate a lot of takeaway ham sandwiches.

    On the third day was a wine tour. It was so crowded I was elbowed out of the way in the tasting line, and between people cutting in line in front of me and generally behaving as if I didn’t exist at all, there were no more glasses, wine, or ham appetizers by the time I got to the table. Oooookaaaayy. There was supposed to be lunch of carne asada and…it wasn’t carne asada, but I was glad it wasn’t my freshly murdered corpse, though it was no animal I could identify on the fire pit. I hope it was pork. One of the ladies sitting at my lunch table scolded me for drinking too much and said nobody drinks more than two small glasses of wine in France ever. The wine itself was not so good – I smelled skunked barrels in the cellar, probably due to poorly maintained and incorrectly sized equipment; the water pump to keep the fermentation tanks cool was broken and there were rusted welds and unsanitary sample valves all over the place. This at a semi-famous supposedly artisanal winery. At this point I was sure they were trying to keep me pure for their bloodthirsty deity and went to Spain.

    I left about half my luggage at the hotel, figuring I would pick it up on my way back to CDG as Air France wouldn’t let me change my departure plans without a ridiculous fee. Spain was delightful and it felt like I had escaped. Everyone was relaxed and friendly, people served me whatever I wanted to eat and drink like a normal country, there was lots of beautiful scenery and architecture, lots of dogs to pet, it was wonderful. I decided to go back via Toulouse and see the natural history museum, stop for a day before picking up the luggage and heading to CDG.

    I checked my Air France tickets again to see if maybe it would be possible to leave from a different airport, if any seats had become available, sometimes they’ll give you a deal if there’s a cancellation. This was yesterday. Supposed to leave Sunday evening. That’s when I found out Air France decided to move me to an earlier flight without notifying me – so early that I have to cut my trip short by a day and sleep IN THE AIRPORT to catch the flight. Evidently they were planning on telling me later today, when it would have been too late for me to get there at all, then say “oh well, too bad, you’re stranded”.

    If I am unhappy with that, I can pay $1300 to change my flight back to a much later flight. My boss already IM’ed me to say he needs me bright eyed and bushy tailed Monday morning for a new project, so later flight is not an option. We’re in the middle of a re-org and I really can’t take extra days.

    If Air France had changed me to a later flight they’d have to comp me, legally, and offer a hotel room. Since it’s earlier, they make me pay if I don’t like sleeping in the airport/train station. These people are evil. Just pure evil. I have no other explanation. They were deliberately trying to strand me in CDG.

    France is a horrible place that nobody should visit, ever. It’s very pretty country but you can get better food and wine in Italy (which has its own travel issues but they’re not EVIL, just incompetent, so if you sort of plan to be a day late everywhere it tends to work out) and Spain, and people are like…normal friendly there. I’ve never EVER had problems like this traveling. I’ve never felt so unwelcome in a place in my life. I definitely never had the odd thought, “maybe they’re going to kill me and eat me…” and seriously considered it even momentarily anywhere else in the world, including places that are unfriendly to Americans specifically. In any case they mostly seemed to think I was German or Swiss – shopkeepers replied occasionally to my French with German, which is fair, I look Swiss for sure. I never literally thought, “I need to escape this place or it will be the death of me” other than my crappy hometown when I was a teenager! I’ve never had restaurants kick me out or refuse to serve me.

    I’m not wearing anything remarkable. I don’t look very terrifying. This is seriously the only time/place I’ve been treated like this and it’s bizarre.

    1. Jemima Bond*

      Crikey that sounds dreadful – and mystifying!! I’ve visited France time and time again with family etc (my parents have a cottage in the south west and spend about four months of the year there) and I’ve never heard of such treatment. Although the Parisians are famously rude; but still! Whereabouts were you apart from Toulouse?
      The no more than two glasses of wine thing is b*llocks; also I wonder who the heck was organising a tour of a French vineyard and serving “carne asada” for lunch – that just seems weird. Like touring a brewery of English real ales and being served sushi for lunch.
      I’d love to tell you to go to another part of France one day, in a different context (hell I feel like driving you there myself, dropping you off at my parents’ place and not letting you leave until you’ve put on a stone in weight and drunk enough Bordeaux to bath a baby in) but it looks like it has soured you on the country for good. I am so sad about that!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      All I can say is that my friends in Bordeaux would laugh uproariously at the idea that they should stop at 2 glasses of wine on vacation.
      I’m sorry you had such a crummy experience.

    3. YetAnotherUsername*

      That sounds awful. I’ve had mostly good experiences in France but in Paris in particular people can be extremely rude to any tourists who don’t stay in tourist areas. Americans seem to be treated rudely by French people more often than other nations. Some French people seem to be bigoted against Americans.

      I had a bad experience with air France when I flew from Cuba to paris. I definitely wouldn’t recommend them to anyone!

    4. londonedit*

      Wow, I’m sorry you’ve had such an awful time. I’ve only ever had lovely holidays in France (I don’t even find Parisians to be especially rude, though I am a Londoner so I also have that big-city-dweller mentality) and I’m sorry yours hasn’t worked out.

      1. Coffee Cup*

        I am sorry you had such an experience, but that is…absolutely not the norm in France in any way, shape or form.

      2. Lora*

        It’s not a city thing; I rather like cities, for vacation. I live pretty close to a big East Coast city, regularly visit large European and Asian cities for work, go to South American cities for vacation (Buenos Aires, Santiago). Never ever had such a uniquely awful time as I have this week, even for work travel to places I didn’t want to go. I always managed to sorta figure out how to make it work at least okay, and this time the only thing that helped was leaving for Spain…and Air France screwed me on that front too, insisting that I have to leave from CDG early or pay some ridiculous fee. I hated work travel to Frankfurt a LOT but at least it was functional, Lufthansa was easy to deal with, I could sit in the biergartens drinking beer and petting the dogs as long as I wanted to de-stress.

      3. TL -*

        People I know from Boston and NYC find the French (in general) rude to tourists. Neither of those cities are known for a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

        Never heard anyone say London was rude, for comparison. It’s not a big city thing.

        1. londonedit*

          Really? Here in the UK we Londoners have a massive reputation for being rude and unhelpful. People from other parts of the country (especially the North) just love to talk about how Londoners never speak to anyone, how we’re rude to tourists, etc etc.

          I’ve never found the French rude (I’ve been all over France and last year we had a wonderful holiday in Brittany and Normandy with my sister, who was pregnant at the time and who is also allergic to many foods, and my brother-in-law, and their dog, and people could not have been more helpful and friendly)

          1. Lora*

            Can confirm. Live in the Greater Boston Metro Area. They are notoriously cold to everyone including each other. New Yorkers just ignore you. And we reckon the French as rude as Germans on a bad day.

            The key to understanding East Coast USA rudeness is, time is our most precious thing (we are an overworked people with many jobs per person, in cities) and our crime rates are many times higher than anywhere else; it’s rude to take up someone else’s time more than you absolutely must, and if a stranger is trying to have an entire conversation with you they are probably sizing you up to be mugged/raped or distracting you while their buddy steals from you. So you don’t talk to anyone unless it is their specific job to talk to you: customer service people, tour guides, wait staff, etc. The people who get paid to talk to you will happily, fake-cheerfully, exuberantly talk to you, but everyone else you have to assume they’re plotting your death. I mean, maybe not your death, maybe they’re going to pickpocket you or tell you about accepting Jesus as Lord, but either way you don’t talk to them. So we are cold and don’t talk to anyone.

            Conversely we expect the people who are getting paid to talk to us, or in specific social situations where talking is expected (e.g. at a party, at a book club) to, y’know, talk and be friendly. Just not random street people. This is my issue, specifically: in situations where people are SUPPOSED to talk and be friendly and/or take my money, they don’t. Added to what appears to be the world’s worst transit system, and an airline attempting to extort thousands of dollars from me, it’s just all a bunch of merde.

            1. LilySparrow*

              Also, in New York at least, there is zero privacy and not enough personal space. A mutual agreement to ignore each other gives the illusion of privacy.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          NYC girl here. Met nothing but friendly people in France, except a couple of overstressed employees of the airline we flew…and they were American. And we make a point out of going past the tourist areas.

    5. Winnie*

      Contact KLM customer support. They’re in the same airline group as AirFrance but much more helpful. Ask for compensation, they have given it to me easily when I’ve missed a connection due to airplane problems.

    6. Mimblewimble*

      Yup, sounds like France. I had a similar experience in Paris years ago and I have no desire to go back. I’m sorry your vacation didn’t turn out the way you wanted. I hope you’re able to get some rest before you have to go back to work.

    7. C Average*

      Ugh, so awful. I’m sorry.

      I spent a few days in Paris years ago and will never return to France. Rude, crowded, and just unpleasant. My working theory is that the French are grumpy because they’re constipated from all that bread and butter and cheese. After a few days there, all I wanted for dinner was a bowl of Wheaties with peaches on top.

    8. Lilysparrow*

      The only thing I can think of is that it’s August.

      When I visited France a bajillion years ago, it was August and almost everyone was incredibly grumpy and unpleasant. I think if I hadn’t had the advantage of passing for a cute naive female student, it would have been much worse.

      Eventually, some guy who was trying to pick me up explained that “everyone” takes the month of August for vacation, so anyone who’s working is just ticked off at the world from the word go.

      There could also be something in being taken for German. The tour guides, etc, did seem particularly resentful/obnoxious toward the Germans. I actually heard someone refer to a family of German tourists as “Les Boches,” which shocked me.

      That was like, 20 years ago? But maybe the political climate in France has resurrected that anti-German sentiment?

      I’m sorry your trip was so bad, it’s a long way to go and a lot of money spent for such an unpleasant time.

    9. Lora*

      Update: I got on the TGV to the airport and they overbooked it and sold the same seats twice to a handful of people. I paid for first class tickets and I get to stand in the hallway…the entire way. 6 hour train ride. Standing.

      I swear they’re doing it on purpose to me. The whole country. Mere incompetence doesn’t cause this level of screw ups.

      1. Mimblewimble*

        Just keep imagining that glorious moment of wheels up on the plane. Then all of this will be behind you.

        1. Lora*

          I am not going to celebrate even then. I will wait until I am safely back in the US. I’m going to hug the customs agent and start crying, probably.

          1. LCL*

            You’re from the US? I was going to post guessing that, then decided not to because I didn’t want to start a political discussion. Just say, a lot of the world is furious at the US now, if you read as American I can understand the cold shoulder.

            1. Lora*

              Yeah, well… without getting too political, the best way I can explain it is the US is HIGHLY regional in a way that other countries are not. It’s like 7-8 different countries that happen to share a common currency: religion, language, food, health care, civil rights and whether your actual civil rights will be executable in practice, political organization, common hobbies and interests, industry, even building construction standards are VERY different state to state and frequently even within a state, depending on if you’re in an urban or rural area. And we’re exceptionally divided at the moment. Probably a bad idea to treat us as a homogeneous bunch.

              In any case I mostly read as Swiss or German. People usually say “tchuss!” before they say “hello!”to me.

                1. Lora*

                  I am truly shocked at the homogeneity of everything sucking though. I’m used to being able to find some okay things in any given trip and make the best of it and everything is just universally awful here. How is it possible for EVERYTHING to be awful? Shouldn’t there be at least something okay? All I got so far is “scenery on the way to Spain was nice”.

              1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

                > Probably a bad idea to treat us as a homogeneous bunch.

                You mean like you’re treating the French?

                1. Baru Cormorant*

                  Yeah… Lora I get that you are having a spectacularly bad time and I feel for you, but how would you feel if someone spoke that way about your country? I’d be pretty offended if someone spoke that way about my culture/country because of some poor service.

                2. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  You did come across awfully harsh. Not “I had such a bad trip” but “this place is so awful no one should visit.”

            2. TL -*

              When I was in NZ, a lot of people found it acceptable to comment on the state of the USA in a way that was really quite rude, regardless of the reason, and in a way they didn’t find acceptable to talk about most other countries – ie people would be quite shocked and horrified at my rudeness if I discussed cartel violence/corruption in Mexico with my Mexican friend (who can’t access his house because the drug cartels have shut down the road it’s on) but felt quite free to tell me, unprompted, that the USA was the worst country in the world to live in and they would never visit there. (I have literally never asked a single person if they wanted to visit the USA. We’re not a big tourist economy. I don’t care if you want to come or not.)

              The disconnect could be unreal – one time a black Australian woman went on a rant about how unacceptably racist the USA was (I agree) and she would never go back because of the way people looked at her during the two weeks she was there, though she didn’t experience any overtly racist actions (also fair!). In literally the next breath she told me about a NZ shopkeeper who had refused to sell to her until her white mother walked in, laughing really hard about how funny it was that the shopkeeper thought she was Maori and refused to sell to her until she realized the woman was part white, and then told me how much she enjoyed being in NZ.

              Definetly not getting into a which country is worse argument – it’s awful in either country and shouldn’t happen. But I genuinely made an effort to avoid people who spoke to me like that – loads of people had interesting, polite, political observations, questions, and often direct criticisms of the USA and the people who were polite about it were the people I engaged with.

              1. Lora*

                You know, I would mind a lot LESS if people wanted to talk politics. I’ve done that a lot in other countries, where someone wants me to explain the Bad Politician Du Jour’s shenanigans and I have to explain that we are not at all a representative democracy like they are, we have this Electoral College thingy, we have a winner-take-all system instead of the run-offs that tend to force parties to build coalitions, etc. I’d rather have that conversation than people be obnoxious.

    10. Emma*

      I’m very sorry you have had an awful time, that sounds rough. But also, I’m French and completely mystified by your experience because it sounds nothing like the France I know.

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

      My parents had almost the same experience when they went to France, and they went years ago in April, not August. People keep telling me how wonderful, how magical Paris is. But I’ve heard enough of these stories that I don’t think I’d touch it with a thirty-nine-foot pole, especially considering how much money I’d have to spend to go there.

      1. OhBehave*

        This was not an unusual experience for friends who were there years ago. Stupid Americans indeed. How quickly they forget liberation!

    12. Lora*

      Update 2: they delayed the flight because the crew is MIA. I could have slept in a hotel bed last night, but now we’re all going to sit here forever until they locate a crew. I… I can’t even…

      1. The Francher Kid*

        “I’m sorry” sounds so inadequate, and I sincerely wish I could do something besides send good thoughts to you. I’m horrified for you. Please let us know when you’re home safe.

    13. Washed Out Data Analyst*

      This sounds terrible! I’m wondering why they were behaving like that? Were you in a specific city/province? Now I’m wary of traveling there on my own. I’ve visited Paris once with my parents and once with a group of friends, but never the countryside.

      1. Violetta*

        Don’t let this story put you off please. It’s either at least a little exaggerated or a complete outlier experience.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          This. My experiences are opposite and I’ve been up&down the west coast from Paris to the Spanish border, with some inland driving.

        2. Washed Out Data Analyst*

          But you don’t really know that. My suspicion is that it is being driven by some sort of prejudice. So obviously, if you don’t belong to the category discriminated against, you won’t get similar experiences.

  11. Seeking Second Childhood*

    This forum eats my batteries like there’s no tomorrow, and scrolling for followups gets tedious.
    Is there a way to open/refresh just one conversation? Is there a way to text-search for unread comments?

    1. Taking The Long Way Round*

      I usually scroll through with the comments collapsed and then when I see a comment I like I open it up. New comments in that thread have blue next to them.
      And if you know the name of the person you want to read comments by you can uncollapse the comments and then press ctrl and F to search for their name, or just do the same for a bunch of words.
      But yes, I have to actively restrain myself from spending all weekend online looking at blogs and forums. It is a time drain!

    2. Taking The Long Way Round*

      Sorry, just realised you’re talking about using this site on your cell! No, I don’t know how you make it easier on that.

    3. Mirve*

      If you are interested in just one subthread you can bookmark it. The time under each comment when bookmarked will bring you back there. The blue bars for marking new comments may require cookies, not sure. The blue bars stopped working for me for a few months, but recently are working again on both phone and desktop.

      1. valentine*

        The blue bars require cookies, but they stop working every so often and I have to clear the cookies to get them back.

    4. Angwyshaunce*

      There should be a “find” function in your browser. Especially on weekends, when the comments get super long, I remember an uncommon phrase from the last post I read. Then later on when i refresh, I search for that phrase do I can pick up from that spot.

      1. fposte*

        You can also do a find using a rough post time. So if I’m looking for posts in the last hour I’d do “at 10:”. Obviously that gets problematic as the thread rolls into the evening and there are two “at 10” times, and once it hits midnight I add the date to the search to limit it to the new day.

    5. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      As much as I love this site, I absolutely HATE how we have to jump through all of these hoops, figure out workarounds, etc., in order to find new posts and replies. Especially on the weekend threads, where it seems like if you’ve got something you want to say you’d better post it at 3 o’clock in the morning otherwise nobody’s going to see it. It bothers me when someone posts something in the late afternoon and has to say “I know I’m late to the party, but [topic].”

      Why is there no “find all unread posts/comments” button? Why do we have to scroll down and search for a blue line?

      1. ThatGirl*

        The comments and discussions, as great as they are, aren’t the point of this site. Especially on weekends. Alison doesn’t have to host this. At least the blue lines make the new comments easy to find.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        There’s no way to get that functionality without switching to a comment system that either (a) won’t work well with the amount of traffic this site gets or (b) will mean losing other features that I want to keep (like anonymity — I’m not, for example, going to switch to Facebook comments even though that would do what you’re asking). I’ve looked into this extensively, several times. This is the standard WordPress commenting system, with some add-on’s built on top of it (like the blue line next to new comments). There’s no other system that keeps the features I want and won’t break under the traffic weight.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Thanks for letting us know it’s a conscious choice–I can’t argue with your other priorities., by the way.

  12. Tango lovers?*

    After a hiatus of over 10 years I am restarting tango classes from beginner level!

    Can anyone recommend some music to practice at home with? Back when I used to do this my entire world revolved around “El Choclo” and “La Cumparsita,” so I’m looking to branch out a little now.

    1. Lora*

      1) diSarli. Anything diSarli is good to start. The beat is clear, it’s straightforward, you can make it as simple or complex as you like.

      2) Gardel. You have to know Gardel’s canon pretty well at milongas, they play a lot.

      3) I like Troilo and d’Arienzo when I’m teaching beginners because it’s mostly nice and slow and not too challenging.

      4) For fun, try some Liebedinsky and see how you like it. They play more nuevo and alternative in California and it’s a lot of fun if you are into that sort of thing.

    2. Taking The Long Way Round*

      I think Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss has a great slow tango beat.

    3. Bulu Babi*

      This is what we use in beginner classes:
      . Di Sarli instrumental
      . Canaro with Maida
      They both have a very clear beat, the former is more melodic and the latter more instrumental. For intermediate classes we then add:
      . Fresedo
      . Biagi with Ortiz
      Everything else comes later, when students are familiar with basic steps and musicality.
      Try a few different teachers below you settle, it makes the whole difference. Good luck and welcome back!

  13. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I haven’t done a lot this week, mostly working out some problems. Still, I’m happy with where this ghost hunter project is going.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’m not a writer, but I do keep a personal blog. I’ve been thinking for a long time, maybe a year, that I want to just shut it down. I find I’m never in the mood to write anymore, mainly because of the back problems (makes it hard to sit for too long), but also because my tenant will see it. Long story, but we’re working on getting them out. Due to them not paying enough rent, nor paying on time, I can’t post about building a home gym, or going somewhere that costs money, or other similar things, because then they get the idea that I’m “rolling in dough” and don’t understand why they can’t stay. (Well, because I can’t afford two mortgages!) They don’t realize I got a huge bonus when my previous company was bought and that’s how I’m doing these things. (I know, I shouldn’t worry about that, but I do.) So not being able to post what I want is stifling me.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I finished a short story (well, shortish; it was 30,000 words) that I’m pretty happy with. I have the Masterclass subscription and I’ve been following Joyce Carol Oates’s class for the last few weeks and I think it’s made a difference because she’s a very clear, eloquent teacher. I’m currently procrastinating a short story I want to write next week. I’ know I’ll get to it eventually, but I’m enjoying the cool day (it was 42 degrees/ 107F yesterday) and the time off work.

    3. BeanCat*

      I’ve been working on a fanfic that’s made me very very happy recently because it’s a project I’m doing just for me. Unfortunately with my recovery I’ve been very tired, so the glow of Google docs and the hum of my laptop puts me to sleep every time. Haha!

    4. Bibliovore*

      Writing like a demon. The end is in sight for a peer-reviewed paper. Trying to remember to take off the editor cap and just right. Will revise tomorrow.

    5. C Average*

      Within 30 pages of finishing my novel! Lots of revision to do before it’s truly done, though. I have to have a working draft by September 15. I’m doing a manuscript boot camp with Pam Houston, whom I idolize, in November. No pressure.

    6. Shay*

      I saw somewhere a post about how Terry Pratchett wrote 400 words a day. It went on to talk about how this information really helped the writer in question sit down and write and stop flagellating themself for failing to meet word count goals and the like.
      I’m not able to write right now because of the move, but I found the post to be very powerful.

    7. Claire*

      This has been a couple weeks of up and down and up and….sideways.

      Comicon. Getting an invite to a panel is HUGE. I am so excited. I will be on a panel and will be doing a signing for the second Janet Watson book.

      Editor and I worked out yet another path for pirates#2. Which…this one will work. And the publisher has sold audio rights for both books in the series. So good!

      But then came a review from Publishers Weekly for pirates #1. So. Very. Harsh. This completely derailed me for several days. I’ve recovered myself finally and I’m forging ahead with the sequel.

      Life of the writer.

  14. Foreign Octopus*

    I didn’t have a chance to thank those people who commented on my question about my brother’s marijuana use last week. I really appreciated everyone weighing in and giving me their experience with it and helping to reframe things for more. So thanks!

  15. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I continued Child of Light (on chapter 7 right now) and I am now convinced a party member will end up betraying me (couldn’t act more suspicious if they tried). On PC, I’ve been enjoying some Divine Divinity. That feeling when your level is so low even your own character description snarks at you…

    1. Deschain*

      I’m playing Outward—so much sedate fun and a nice break from trying to 100% Sekiro. Finally got 100% on Dark Souls 2 last night. Finally! Sunlight medals were so tedious.

        1. Deschain*

          Me too! And I love 1 and 3. 2 was such a disappointment. But I was determined to not let it beat me. Must get all the trophies!

    2. Watermelon M*

      Don’t know if this counts, but I’ve been playing an iPhone game called Good Pizza, Great Pizza. It’s addicting. You run a pizza shop and make pizzas to order by trying to best guess what the customer means with their convoluted order (“Za za za!” Means three pepperonis I think?) and it’s such a cutely drawn game with a diverse cast.

    3. BeanCat*

      I’ve picked up Shovel Knight again because I’m a masochist. When that frustrates me I switch to Yoshi’s Crafted World. I’m beyond excited for Animal Crossing next year!

      1. Myrin*

        Ooooh, Shovel Knight is one of my all time faves! If I may ask, what is it that frustrates you about it? There are some jumps where you have to use a weird combination of techniques which I found infuriating but overall, I greatly enjoy it, so I’d love to hear other opinions.

        1. BeanCat*

          I love Shovel Knight! The frustration comes when I’m not yet skilled enough to make a jump I need to and repeatedly lose my money. Hahaha! The big thing that I appreciate about Shovel Knight is it never feels “cheap”. Every mistake I make is mine and mine alone. And sometimes I get frustrated with myself and how I play, haha!

          1. Myrin*

            Oh yeah, I know that frustration well! I don’t know how far into the game you are yet but *SPOILER if you haven’t reached the zeppelin yet* I’d definitely recommend getting the red armour; it’s made playing infinitely more enjoyable to me because at least now I’m not losing as much every time I fall into a pit.

            1. BeanCat*

              Ahhhh, the red armor, my old friend! I’m very close to the end now and I’m determined to get there!

      2. Raia*

        I CANNOT wait for animal crossing. In the meantime I’ve been playing Fire Emblem Three Houses, which is fun but a lot of strategizing sometimes.

      1. Mop*

        Okami is very beautiful. I just recently played through again on Switch, and it still looks great.

        1. Angwyshaunce*

          We played it on Wii originally, it’s now on our list for Switch. But first, Link’s Awakening – unfortunately, my wife called dibs on that one.

    4. Square Root Of Minus One*

      I’m playing The Talos Principle on PS4, nearing the end. Really interesting and I love the whole concept but the stars make me crazy – I still have a dozen to pick up. I want to finish it all without help but that’s gonna be hard.

    5. Nicki Name*

      Still chugging through Sunless Skies. My first captain finally got killed (the fear gauge hit maximum and the crew went mad and destroyed the engine). The inheritance mechanic turns out to be MUCH more forgiving than in Sunless Sea. Still having fun!

    6. T3k*

      Older game, but playing Fallout 4’s Nuka World DLC. Not really liking it though as it’s incredibly binary (join the raiders or kill them). Maybe the other DLCs will be better.

    7. ButterflyHigh*

      I’ve been playing Fallout 4. I loved Oblivion and liked Skyrim, I thought I would enjoy fallout. However the science is so bad with it that it ruins my feel for the game. The characters have great storylines but when I come across bad science, it takes me out of the fantasy of the game. For instance, 200 years later and no environment? But finding lots of canned goods from 200 years ago??? And then using a part of a brain to get access to memories when brain matter is like pudding and would never survive in a pocket?? I’ll still probably finish it.

      1. Square Root Of Minus One*

        Funny, I thought that about Skyrim. Some caves have been deserted for millennia and still contain edible food and useful alchemy ingredients stored on shelves. I know it’s cold but not like that :)

        1. ButterflyHigh*

          I don’t recall finding food in places that didn’t have living people. Alchemy ingredients didn’t bother me as much because dry and cold things can last a long time.

    8. Valancy Snaith*

      I don’t game at all, but my husband does, and I was so excited to see you mention Child of Light because it has the most FANTASTIC music. I loved it when he was playing it because it’s so excellent to listen to. We saw the artist in concert last winter, and although she was playing her own stuff, she played a couple pieces from Child of Light and it was just really really great all around.

    9. Gatomon*

      I’m trying to get back in to Breath of the Wild after taking a summer hiatus due to stress of moving/work*. Just freed my second Divine Beast (Vah Naboris) and I think my last save has me at a shrine in the Gerudo desert. I’m trying to find some info on the “8th Heroine” so I can get those sand boots from the creepy guy.

      I am also working on my Cities:Skylines skills while listening to podcasts. I just picked up the Parklife DLC on a sale, so I’m trying to figure out how to build good parks for my cims. And continually working on my ability to manage traffic… I’ve decided to embrace the grid in my cities and eschew more modern road designs. They may be more “beautiful,” but they are hard to navigate and cause horrible congestion. I’m finding there’s something very pleasing and lovely about massive grid-based cities though.

      *I have a terrible issue with finishing games that are more than ~20 hours long, the initial newness/excitement wears off, I get stuck somewhere or something comes up that derails my gaming for a few days, and then I’m done. So I’m working hard on committing to finishing games that are worth finishing.

    10. Lonely Aussie*

      Beeeees. Minecraft is adding bees in 1.15 and they are just the cutest things. Cam completely out of no where and I’m so excited.

    11. Becky*

      I randomly decided yesterday to play Portal–I haven’t played it in years but I really do love it. I think I might re-play Portal 2 as well…

  16. Depressed*

    I am depressed. I’m on meds and I’m seeing a psychologist. But they aren’t instant fixes so I have my bad days. I feel like there is no hope of things becoming better.

    Is there anything I can do to shake myself out of this?

    1. Taking The Long Way Round*

      If you can get outside for a short walk that’ll help. Try to eat a balanced meal, if you can. Drink some water.
      Sounds like you’re trying to be kind on yourself – keep doing that.
      If you have a friend you can call, do that too. Not to vent, just to chat about stuff you’d chat about if you were meeting for coffee.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        The thing that’s doing a number on my depression right now is that it is way, way, WAY too hot to walk outside right now. Like for days it has been insanely hot even at 8 in the morning! The other day I walked for 30 lousy minutes on a relatively flat terrain and I felt like my head was going to explode. I am resigning myself to being depressed for the month of August.

        All hail September?

    2. Fran*

      You are doing what you need to do. Try to treat yourself with something you like whether it is a piece of chocolate or baking or read a comfort book. Exercise always helps to feel better if you can manage it. Yoga with Adriene is nice and fun and doesn’t take herself seriously. She has many short videos with titles: yoga for backpain, yoga for when you are feeling low, depressed etc.

    3. DaleZan*

      Blergh, I feel you. You are doing such good things already! The long term stuff and that is massive.

      Here are some very-short-term-things that sometimes work for me:
      – I listen to a podcast that is super cheerful and bouncy and fun. I put it on as soon as I wake up, and it helps drag me to get out of bed, feed the cats, sometimes even shower.
      – eating a lot more fruit instead of letting myself crawl into my pasta-depression-pit.
      – giving myself an actual break from social media and news. Less abject dread, after a couple days of break.

      Best of luck! I hope you start having fewer bad days very soon.

        1. DaleZan*

          Punch Up The Jam! It’s two comedians who listen to a popular song (Come On Eileen, Pony, etc), talk about the ridiculous lyrics or the terrible structure, and at the end they make their own version. It’s very silly and frequently inappropriate, so YMMV.

    4. YetAnotherUsername*

      It takes time. Keep an eye on your symptoms – some pills can make things worse for some people, so if you get worse or get bad side effects you might need to change pills. And all of them take a while to work.

      About alcohol and other mood altering substance until the pills are well established, and cut down if you can’t avoid altogether (eg caffeine which is in a lot more things than you would think).

      Exercise any time you feel up to it, when just a small bit will help.

      Practice sleep hygiene.

      Delete your news apps and try to avoid news / politics altogether. Stop following any bloggers / comment boards / social media friends who tend to post things that upset or anger you (even if you agree with them). You can always go back when you’re better.

      Try to minimize pressure on yourself as much as possible.

      Good luck. This too shall pass.

    5. Mid*

      When my depression gets really bad, I remind myself that “this too shall pass.” I’ve been depressed before, and I’ve made it through, and I’ll do it again.

      If possible, try not to isolate yourself. If you have a friend that’s willing to just hang out around your apartment and not expect any interaction/entertainment, that’s the best. My best friend would sometimes come over and just sit on the couch with me, sometimes she’d help me clean up or food prep, but mostly she’d just sit and watch Netflix with me, or do her schoolwork while I stared at a wall. And I’ve done the same for her when she has bad mental health episodes.

      You can also try just calling a friend for a chat. You don’t have to even really respond, just let them chatter at you.

      I always felt better after human interactions.

      Avoid sad news, at least for a while. I made it so Friday was my News Day and the rest of the week I didn’t pay attention.

      Like others said, try to maintain a semi-healthy diet. I buy fruit cups and apple sauce packets (the ones meant for children) so I can easily have a snack but it’s better than just eating chips all the time.

      If possible, get outside for a little bit every day. I made sure I went outside to check my mail everyday, even Sundays when I knew there wasn’t mail, because it got my blood moving and some sun on my skin. Often I’d end up sitting outside for an hour or so, just soaking in the sun. Even better is if you can exercise a little bit, but I know that can seem daunting.

      Routines are super important to me, because it makes it easier to keep functioning when I don’t want to exist anymore, and also serves as a flag—if I stop my routines, I’m probably starting a depressive episode and should take extra notice of my thoughts and behaviors. Nothing super fancy, just wake up at roughly the same time each day, make my bed, get my coffee, make my breakfast, check my phone for 15 minutes, get dressed. I’m adding in daily exercise now that I’m healthy enough for it. At night it’s pick out my outfit for the morning, pack my lunch, read a book for at least 15 minutes, journal for 10 minutes, then bed. When I stop doing these things for more than a day or two, it’s time for me to do a self check on my symptoms. Sometimes it’s just because I was extra busy one week or had company that disrupted my schedule, but it’s also often an indication that I’m starting a depressive episode.

      Finally, I suggest some sort of creative outlet. Coloring books, knitting, writing, painting, whatever tickles your fancy. I’m a terrible painter but I still enjoy it. And I force myself to do it at least once a week. When I’m depressed, it’s often really stupid, angsty teen looking stuff with lots of black paint, but that’s okay. I often feel like I have no creativity left in my brain, but then I start painting. Often I have no idea what I’m going to actually make. I just make myself make marks on the canvas for an hour.

      Congratulations on taking the steps you have!! You’re doing amazing. I’ve found a lot of dealing with depression is just time. It takes time for the meds to work and for the habits to change. But, some day, you’ll look back and see how much growth and progress you’ve made. And you’re starting that now.

    6. Snarflepants*

      Things will get easier. Try to be gentle with yourself and accept that you’re trying to heal while being depressed. Make sure you are tending to your biologicals: Food, water, sleep, exercise, medication, and sunshine. Do something that might be relaxing or possibly fun every day. If that’s too much, just leave the house for ten minutes and look for a magpie. Talk to people. You probably won’t WANT to do anything (that’s a major symptom of depression right there). But do it anyway. Things will get better.

      I’ve never found that I could shake off my depression. But I have found that I can do small manageable things to help myself get out of it.

    7. Shay*

      I have a few things that I call ‘temporary cures for depression’. Not all of them are… great.
      1.) Having some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
      2.) Watching the butterflies that are really attracted to this one flowering bush I have. (If I check and there aren’t any there I get sad.
      3.) Call my mom just to listen to her voice.
      3.) Journal.
      4.) Snuggle my dog.
      5.) Take a nap or meditate.
      6.) Play video games. Usually for a very significant amount of time.
      7.) Just general try to distract myself with media. It can be really hard to get absorbed into things.
      8.) Mindfully drink hot tea.

    8. LGC*

      Oh man, I’m so sorry!

      One thing is – it sounds like you might have just started treatment. (I’m guessing that from you mentioning your therapist and your meds aren’t “instant fixes.”) It’ll take a few weeks to notice changes – I think somewhere between 2 and 6, on average? Be kind to yourself during this period, but treatment just takes time to begin with.

      Do you have a routine for when you have severe episodes of depression, though? That might help you feel a little bit better. You might not be able to stop the tsunami of despair, but you can at least put the house on stilts and devise an evacuation plan.

    9. Dancing Otter*

      Yes, yes, yes to those who have recommended sunlight and fresh air.
      Even an open window can help.
      Think about the light levels in your home. It’s not great for anyone’s mental state to spend a lot of time in dim light.
      If you are physically able to walk, do it. Maybe just a circuit of the parking lot at lunchtime, or even parking at the far end of the lot. If you have mobility issues, try to at least go sit outside for a while during daylight.

    10. Fikly*

      Understand that depression means your brain is lying to you. When you feel like there is no hope of things getting better, that is the depression lying through your brain.

    11. mindovermoneychick*

      Things that have worked with me:
      1. If you have any friends with cute little kids who like you, see if you can spend time with them. I once had a complete turn around on a terrible day thanks to a friend’s 6, 5 and 3 year old kids who were excited to see me. And I had totally not wanted to go out that day because I was depressed.

      2. Walks in pretty areas. This helps me a lot when my depression is mild and takes the edge off when it’s more significant.

      3. Work out hard if you are into working out. Like go for 45 minutes and try to spend 20 minutes of that time in the vigorous zone. That can really change things up for me.

      4. Call and connect with old friends or whoever are your most meaningful relationships; as other have said, try not to isolate even when you want to.

      5. Someone else said confort reading. When nothing else works that’s and napping are good escapes for me. they don’t fix it but they make it easier to wait it out.

  17. Sad for my kid*

    Whenever I try and make plans to take my kid out he wants a friend to come with us.

    I message the parents and it never bloody happens.

    There’s one friend he has where the mum has said to me that we are part of their “friend family” but she complains when I make plans “too early”, she’s always got plans if I leave it to nearer the time, and she never makes plans with us. I would have given up months ago if it wasn’t for my son asking for them every. Single. Time.

    I got him to join Cubs (in the UK) after a lot of persuasion and although he enjoys it it’s attached to his school so he hasn’t extended his social circle from it.

    He suffers from anxiety, I’m trying to get him help but it’s a long process and far from certain that I’ll get it. The one time a friend did come round she told me he’s the second quietest person in the class. He’s had help in school and is better than he used to be, believe it or not.

    I’m mainly just venting but I’ll try and be open to any advice and not just dismiss it out of hand (I’m a bit overwhelmed with this at the mo). FWIW when he’s with his father he does spend time with the kids of dad’s fiance and dad’s best friend so he does get some company.

    1. Batgirl*

      What about some no-plan plans? Instead of making a specific occasion, invite the friend over for dinner either tonight or any upcoming night, leaving the schedule open. If the answer to ‘when are you free for dinner’ is ‘never’ then you have your answer. My sister finds that offering sleepovers helps because busy parents she can’t pin down really grab at the opportunity for free childcare. What about inviting the cubs over for a back garden camp out?

    2. Imtheone*

      I feel for you. My son was ready to play with someone every day after school and both weekend days, but in early elementary school, the other children were often too tired after school and the families were taken up with other activities.
      Cub scouts is a great idea, and the structured nature of Scouting is helpful for quieter children.
      I don’t know if any of these ideas would work for you in your area: regular visits to parks/play grounds, libraries (here, they often have activities for various aged children), classes like swimming at a local YMCA-type place, Sunday school. My friend’s quiet and non-athletic son took a weekend art class and loved it, starting quite young. If you can arrange a regular weekend activity with other children, that might help your son get some of the time with other children that he wants, without depending on your schedule and that of another family meshing. I realize that these things might be complicated to arrange if your co-parenting arrangement means having your son with you every other weekend.

    3. YetAnotherUsername*

      I’m sorry. I was an unpopular kid and it sucks. How are his social skills? I had very poor social skills as a kid which is why I had very few friends. There are some kids shows nowadays that teach social skills, and a lot of online advice too. Sometimes it’s just something really small that seems so obvious to other people but when you struggle with it you can’t figure out what you are doing wrong. like when other kids are playing I didn’t realize you have to watch for a little to figure out the game, then figure out a way to join in what they are already doing, rather than just barging in without knowing what they are playing. I was an extrovert with bad social skills, so my example probably doesn’t apply to your kid, but perhaps there are other simple social skills your kid is missing out on.

      If he’s old enough for Cubs he’s probably old enough for other things.

      Sometimes mixed age groups are easier as kids who have trouble mixing with their own age might get on better with either older or younger kids.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      My daughter (elem school age) has had similar issues (anxiety, not many friends) and it’s hard. She’s gone through a few short periods of having several friends to spend time with, and then within a week had fallen out with them. She’s not quiet and it’s her mouth and attitude that gets her in trouble, but she does NOT want to talk about anything being her fault, it’s always that the other kids are excessively, openly mean to her (this has rarely been the case). It was tough because she would still ask me to text their parents about playdates, and I would get the tactful “Child has other plans that day, sorry!”

      I stopped trying to gently discourage her from wanting to spend time with this friend or that, when I saw the pattern of rejection. I just stuck with each episode as it happened – “I texted Sara’s dad and unfortunately she’s busy this weekend.” Eventually she does seem to make up with the others, and then things are better for a while.

      It’s just hard. I don’t have any really good advice. I take daughter out for special ‘girls’ night’ dinners every few weeks and support her efforts to make friends when possible, and she’s involved in several non-school programs so she has a decent mix of down time and planned activities.

      1. WooHoo!*

        My daughter was a lot like that. I refused to let her blame the other kids when it was her own attitude and mouth messing things up. We talked a lot about how she could have handled things differently AND how the friends could have handled things. She slowly started being able to see both sides of the problem and could keep her attitude in check. A lot of it was that she needed time alone to decompress and instead of knowing it, she’d get pissy with her friends.
        Please dont avoid this, if you can work on it now, it will save her a ton of drama as she gets older and even as an adult. I married someone that refuses to ever accept he is at fault and he has no friends because of it.

    5. Sad for my kid*

      Thanks for all the comments. The kids aren’t the problem, fwiw – there’s one kid in particular in his class that asked me every time I saw him for months when he could come and play, but his parents have his every evening booked up with stuff. The family I mentioned, the kids LOVE him and he loves them, but the mum just won’t arrange stuff. I wonder if it’s me, I hope it’s not. Maybe people think divorce is catching?

      From reading the comments I’ve remembered that I haven’t tried to arrange anything with a couple of my friends whose kids he gets on well with so I’ll try and sort that out. And after we went out yesterday my sister met us for ice cream which he was really excited about (she lives close but we never see her).

      He plays Pokémon trading cards and I’ll prioritise getting there more often. And I’ll try and sort out swimming lessons. All the comments helped me think through other stuff that could help. Much appreciated.

      1. Nana*

        Sorry to say, but it might be the Divorce. I know my kids lost friends because of that (one child’s grandparent told the mother that she should NEVER allow her girl to play with a child of divorce — and I did allow myself a bit of a giggle when that well-raised girl got a facial tattoo ten years later).

        1. Sad for my kid*

          Honestly, that is bloody horrible, but at least it would be a reason. Sometimes people suck :(

  18. Foreign Octopus*

    My brother’s girlfriend, whom I have never met and or spoken to yet (they’ve been dating three months, I think), added herself to my Netflix account last week. I clicked onto it to watch Star Trek (as you do) and found this extra account with a name I didn’t recognise just happily idling there. It took a long time for me to realise who Camilla was (obviously not her really name) and when I figured out that it was his girlfriend I didn’t know whether to laugh or get annoyed. I chose laughter in the end and just changed the password, but it was a bit cheeky in my opinion.

    I messaged my brother to tell him that I couldn’t have five people on the account (me, him, my parents) because I’d never get to watch anything, and he apologised since it turned out that she had done it just apropos of nothing, but it just struck me as a really weird thing to do.

    We’ve never talked. I don’t have any social media so we’re not connected there. She knows it’s my account because of my email, but she adds herself anyway.

    Has anyone else experienced something like this? I’d appreciate sharing gumption-like attempts to get free things.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I haven’t; however, I agree it took some nerve for her to do that. It’s definitely weird.

    2. Femme d'Afrique*

      Woah, wait a minute! Can someone really just add themselves to someone else’s Netflix? How does that work?

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Yeah, right?! I was totally taken aback as well because I thought only the account holder could do it, but I think if you go through the main account then you can access it. I don’t know, but it really troubled me that aspect of it.

        1. jDC*

          I just opened Netflix in my TV. Add account comes up with no Email shown or anything. I’d be annoyed but she likely thought it was her boyfriends if it was in a tv. But I also pay for my own Netflix like a normal human.

          1. Gatomon*

            Yeah, this is most likely it. You can do it on a device that’s already been authorized on the account.

      2. YetAnotherUsername*

        It sounds like OP had allowed her brother and parents to use her password and set up their own profiles. So if the girlfriend was watching with the brother she would have known the username and password.

        It sounds like username was op’s email address which was her name, so it would be obvious it wasn’t brother who was the main account holder.

        So even though brother probably gave girlfriend permission to use his profile, it was very cheeky of her to set up her own profile without asking the account holder.

        1. Washi*

          It seems like the real problem is the brother sharing the password. Because if the issue is having too many people on the account and Foreign Octopus never getting a turn (I’m assuming it’s a single-screen account) then it doesn’t matter if Camilla is watching from the brother’s profile or from her own, she’s still an extra person taking up time on the account.

          Honestly, this seems like it’s more on your brother – he shouldn’t be giving out the password without your permission.

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            I checked what plan I’m on and I’ve got a two-screen plan so I can watch it and someone else can watch it at the same time. I did used to have five people on the account but I got so frustrated with never being able to watch anything in the evening that I ended up kicking someone off. I know I should probably cut the cord here to everyone but my parents (Dad shares his Amazon Prime with me so it’s an equitable trade) but he doesn’t have a lot of spare cash and it’s an easy thing to share with him.

            I think he now realises that he needs to check with me first.

            1. The New Wanderer*

              Pro-tip, if you are watching something you can download and watch offline, this allows you to watch your downloaded shows (in Airplane mode) if other people are already streaming. :-)

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I deleted it straight away, changed the password, and sent an email to my brother saying not cool.

    3. Anona*

      Wouldn’t she only be able to add herself if your brother shared your password, or it was on his device? I think this is more a problem with him than with her. He probably either offered, or she asked and he agreed. I don’t think it’s weird of her, since it’s pretty common to share, bit he should have totally asked.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I think it’s a problem with both of them, tbh. He probably did share it with her so that she could log on and watch through his account, but then she made her own account whilst she was there. It’s definitely common to share, but it’s definitely weird for her to have added herself to my account (and it very clearly is mine) without so much as a howdy-doodee.

        1. Anona*

          Eh, if she asked him, and he said it was cool, how would she know you wouldn’t be ok with it?

          1. Asenath*

            Because you usually ask the owner of something if you can use it, not someone who merely shares it?

            1. Zoey*

              Def this! It wasn’t his thing to share. If he said ‘the OP is fine with you creating the account’ to the girlfriend then he’s the annoying one. But it still seems off to create an account when you don’t know the owner. Not a red flag but a data point that may skew my perception of her if I were the OP

              1. Foreign Octopus*

                Honestly, I’m just going to try and push it from my mind after I’ve had a nice old complain about it on here this weekend. She seems nice enough from the things I’ve heard about her, but my brother doesn’t have the best track record in dating women so I doubt this is a relationship for the long term (three months in and they’re engaged, had one pregnancy scare, and three screaming arguments that have caused their breakups to be splayed across social media that I hear about from my other brother). If I ever meet her, I won’t hold it against her, but it was just a weird little thing that I wanted to share.

          2. Foreign Octopus*

            I agree with Asenath below. It’s polite to ask the owner of the thing to use it, even if it is just a quick double check like “hey, boyfriend said it’s okay, but are you cool with it?” sort of thing.

      2. Anona*

        And full disclosure, our old roommate once shared his girlfriend’s parents’ HBO login with us. I’m sure he didn’t ask them! We used it for a long time, knowing the gravy train would eventually end.

      3. Femme d'Afrique*

        I think it’s VERY weird to add yourself to the account of someone you’ve never even met!!

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I kicked a dear friend off my Netflix account for logging into a third party service with it so she could stream it to a group of her friends (an online group, not all together in the same place). I didn’t authorize that and I have no idea how secure a service like that is, especially when the notice I got from Netflix was that someone had logged into my account in a different country.

      She also has been in the process of buying a car from me/my parents, making payments. A couple months ago, after a rainstorm, I got “did your parents ever say anything about the door on the car leaking?” I was like “… well, no, but since you’ve been driving the car for two years and this is the first time YOU have mentioned it either, that kinda sounds like a new your problem to me.” She kinda hinted around about it being maybe expensive to fix for a while, in a very “maybe you should offer to fix it for me anyway” fashion :-P sorry, chickpea, the lien holder is not the one responsible for your car maintenance.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Omg, that thing with the car. That’s so frustrating. There’s a weird sort of entitlement that comes from purchasing things from friends. It reminds me of that bit from Friends when Joey’s fridge breaks down and he tries to find a way to get the others to pay for it.

      2. Happy Lurker*

        My college age child changes his IP address to foreign countries so that he can watch different programs.
        Especially, the Grand Tour as it comes out earlier in our day in the UK. Made me laugh when I called him in a panic to ask what I should do about someone from Hungary accessing our Netflix.

    5. Square Root Of Minus One*

      I was actually on the opposite end of this somewhere last year.
      My boyfriend has a friend he considers his adoptive sister. He met her on an Internet forum and has known her for a few years ; however, she and I were at best acquaintances to each other.
      My boyfriend is on her Netflix account and insisted she was fine with me getting on it as well. He brought it up unprompted and unsolicited several times in the same week (seriously, we weren’t talking about anything even remotely related to Netflix), and couldn’t fathom that I didn’t want to.
      I set up my own account later on my own terms Glad I did that because since then I’ve come to the conclusion I’m really not fond of her. She rubs me the wrong way and I believe she’s a phony. I don’t want anything tying me to her. Still not sure what that was all about.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Ha, we (2-person household) share our Netflix account with my adult child, who lives on the other side of the country. We logged in one time and found that we couldn’t watch anything because Adult Child had shared the password with a roommate, who was watching on another device in their house, so we’d hit the limit of simultaneous viewers allowed on the account. It had occurred to us that this might happen, and I suspect that Adult Child didn’t actually know about the limit, so I said, “Look, we’re doing you a favor here, letting you use our Netflix account that we pay for. But it’s a favor for you, not for you and your entire house. If we ever log into it again and find that we can’t watch something because it’s at the limit? We’re changing the password and you can get your own account.”

      It was way, way more funny than troubling. Even if it hadn’t been an honest mistake, I think I’d be happy to put it down as “Adult Child is generous with housemates,” not “Adult Child is a thieving thief with thieving housemates.” In any event, we haven’t had a recurrence!

    7. FuzzFrogs*

      We had a version of this this week! The long story short is that our niece decided she needed her own Netflix login (without child controls, natch) and deleted my husband’s dad off the account in the process. (I could get into the drama but in short, to be fair, she didn’t actually know it was an account that was in use. She did, however, know that she wasn’t supposed to have her own account without age restrictions…) This isn’t the first time my niece and nephew have exploited the accounts my husband shares with his family–nephew once decided he could buy whatever he wanted on Amazon with his parents’ money, which backfired when he accidentally sent us a few of the fidget spinners.

      It’s behavior that’s understandable out of children. Less acceptable from new girlfriends who should probably not be given thirdhand access to your Netflix account.

      1. FuzzFrogs*

        Clarification: the “should probably not” applies to your brother, who was way too trusting with information that isn’t his. And girlfriend, who could have taken advantage of the Netflix while still maintaining appropriate boundaries.

    8. Lilysparrow*

      I once became chatty acquaintances with another mom waiting to walk our kids home from school. We hit it off and after a few weeks made arrangements to meet up with the kids for a playdate. Relevant detail: one of the things we chatted about was both being adult-diagnosed with AdHD

      As I’m leaving the house to go meet her, she texts me asking me to bring my Adderall, because she needs some.

      Uh…wtf? You want me to hand off my meds, which a) I need for myself, and b) Is a highly-controlled, easily-abused, widely black-marketed prescription?

      Yeah, no.

      I told her I wasn’t comfortable with that. We still had the meetup, but she was noticeably less warm and charming. And she never, ever called me or stopped to speak to me individually again.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        That is mind-blowing. I am afraid to speak up and ask for things to which I am CLEARLY entitled (I’m not one to make waves), yet there are people out there who are totally fine asking someone who is practically a stranger to give away their medication. I need to take confidence lessons from these people.

        1. LilySparrow*

          No, please don’t. I mean, maybe just enough to meet in the middle.

          But the world already has more than enough obnoxious entitled people.

  19. The Other Dawn*

    The home gym is ALMOST complete.

    My husband installed the mini split heat/AC unit this week and it works! It’s 18,000 BTUs so I’m covered. I’m so impressed he can do these things. There seems to be no project or repair he can’t do, which is usually a great money-saver. Not always a time-saver, though.

    This weekend hope to get it cleaned up in there. Get his tools out, get all the wrappers and cardboard out. I want to hang my mirrors, but I’m not sure I can do that myself (he’s camping this weekend). I may touch up the paint and put together my storage racks instead.

    I’m thinking of trying to return the bench I got with the functional trainer. It has a leg curl/developer attachment and it makes the bench too heavy for me to move around (back problems) when I want to use the Smith bar without it. I can take the attachment off, but then I need to find a place to store it. My husband claims he will use the leg attachment (he doesn’t even exercise AT ALL yet), but I really don’t want to hang onto it. I’d rather get a lighter, cheaper flat/incline utility bench that’s easier to move.

    So, almost done. Hopefully I can post a picture next weekend.

    1. Trixie*

      Can’t wait to see photo! I would skip the leg attachment and modify the same movements with a freeweight between feet. I am considering a bench as well, something light enough for easy pickup/move. Anything adjustable looks like quick change in price.

    2. jDC*

      So jealous. I want a treadmill so bad. No room for it and even so I’ve been looking for a used one but around here (small town) not a lot out there and the ones that are they want almost full price. No. It’s used.

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Looking forward to seeing that picture! And I’m all for things that aren’t too heavy to move around. You have my vote. If he comes and starts working out regularly, you can revisit upgrading then.

  20. Goose Lavel*

    After posting in last week’s open thread about my wife’s undiagnosed medical conditions, I was looking into medical errors and was surprised to find that medical errors kill about 350,000 to 400,000 each year in the US and a majority of them occur the hospital. It is the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer and is entirely preventable. It gets very little media attention, especially when you consider how utterly needless these deaths are. I’m sure that many more people are hurt by these errors, some with permanent, life long injuries and illneeses, that go unreported.

    I am outraged that this is happening and I think our medical institutions should focus more effort to eliminate these needless deaths. Is more technology the answer? Better training? Better rested health care providers?

    Have medical errors happened to you or taken the life of someone you know?

    Are you not outraged as well? What is the answer? How can we demand change?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      My mother’s cousin went to a doctor within their small town and he didn’t catch her colon cancer. All the early signs were there, but he didn’t send her for any testing. I think it was something like six months later, her symptoms worsened and she knew something was wrong. She went to the large hospital they have up there, which is a really great hospital, and they diagnosed her with colon cancer. She had to get a colostomy bag. Unfortunately it was too late by then and the cancer came back and then metastasized. It was roughly a year and a half from the time she first saw the small-town doctor to when she passed away.

    2. Slartibartfast*

      Mistakes happen most often when you are rushed. We’re dealing with humans, so zero error may be impossible. I recently switched careers and have been a medical assistant now, and I can only speak for my agency specifically, but there are things that can be done. Managing the work load is essential to safety. All injections are verified by another staff member before giving it to the patient. Mandatory “time out” between prepping for and performing surgery in a non emergency. And this is a big one-promoting a culture of “if you see something say something”. They’re also making things digital as much as possible, matching patients to charts and lab work by barcode instead of manual data entry so you don’t mix up patients with the same name, if there are two similar named on the same day’s schedule they’re bold and italicized. This problem might not be well known to the public but it is known in the industry. For me personally, I think it’s important we maintain patient freedom of choice on what doctors and hospitals we can go to. Competition drives change.

      1. Perse's Mom*

        Rushing even on the non-emergency side of things. I set up an appt with my new primary care doctor and the appt times that were listed off were in increments of 15 min!

        That doesn’t seem like enough time to get my medical history asked and answered much less do an actual exam and discuss my various concerns.

    3. Kali*

      I wonder if part of the reason for not reporting it more is that some politicians would blame the doctors, when I suspect the fault lies more with lack of resources and unreasonable expectations. I’m British though, so our medical system is quite different.

    4. Asenath*

      Mistakes are inevitable. Some things make them more common, and some of those things can be improved, which will reduce the number of mistakes, but never reduce them to zero. Sure, better training, health care providers who are rested and well themselves (and no one is all the time) and easy access to health care will all help. But there are still going to be cases where doctors do the best they can, and get it wrong. Maybe they start looking for the more common causes first, and by the time they re-think it it’s too late. Maybe it’s one of those difficult to diagnose things that gets you sent from office to office because no one can figure it out at first, and a lot of doctors get it wrong. And what to do about it? Every place I know of has well-publicized methods of reporting misconduct or incompetence. Some places investigate and punish (sometimes privately); some take the air safety people’s approach and look at the individual and also the problems in the situation that contributed (staffing levels in the hospital, access to and quality of testing and so on) and try to ensure that mistake doesn’t happen again. I know of two people whose deaths were hastened by delayed treatment – back pain caused by metastatic breast cancer and a heart attack mistaken for pneumonia. In both cases, the patients were young – mid 20s to 30s – and the doctors checked out more likely causes first. Both of them died.

      1. Dan*

        Re: Your last couple of sentences.

        I work in data analytics for a living, and sometimes build predictive models for certain things. I wrote elsewhere on this thread that human error is a large (if not leading) contributor to fatalities in my field. But there’s a paradox of sorts. One problem with rare events and predictive modeling is just that: It’s really hard to suss out “signal” from a lot of noisy data. In these cases you talked about, if we shifted everything over to a data model, the model would tell the doctor to do the same thing… early 20’s complaining of chest pain? Heart attack isn’t going to be first thing on the list. The other thing with these models is that they typically require lots of data and only really model well things that happen a lot. So we still need a human to make a decision when the data just isn’t there or otherwise know when the models don’t apply.

        1. Asenath*

          That’s very true. It’s hard when it happens to someone you know – a young man dies of chest problems that turn out to be a heart attack? A young woman’s back pain – a very common ailment – wasn’t muscle pain at all? But diagnosis isn’t easy, and it’s really hard with the outliers and rare conditions.

        2. nonegiven*

          Isn’t there a simple blood test that can be done to rule out heart attack? Shouldn’t they at least do that?

          1. Asenath*

            I don’t know how one determines whether something is a heart attack – in any case I knew of where one was suspected, several tests were done. The way I heard the story about the young man – which I heard from his widow – the medical staff didn’t initially suspect heart problems, probably because he was so young. He was admitted for tests for chest problems, described by the medical staff as possible pneumonia, and died shortly after admission from a heart attack.

    5. YetAnotherUsername*

      If you think that’s bad look up sepsis deaths and deaths from superbugs, and then realise that the vast majority of those deaths could be prevented simply by hospital staff and visitors following existing handwashing and other simple procedures!

      And lots of cancer and heart disease deaths could be prevented by banning all smoking outright. And road deaths could be prevented by people not drink driving and speeding. And the majority of home accidents, drowning and a large number of gun deaths could be prevented by basic safety in the home eg locking gates to stop little kids falling into a swimming pool. And lots of farming deaths could be prevented by pretty basic safety too.

      Many deaths are easily preventable. That’s why people aren’t outraged by this specific category of death.

      Generally people only get outraged by intentional killing, not by killing through mistakes.

      1. MaxiesMommy*

        There’s also a bias in the ER against overweight patients. My daughter’s SIL had a colonoscopy, never felt right afterwards. Went to the ER twice, they thought she was an opioid-seeker—no tests other than a urinalysis. On her way out of the ER 2nd time she passed out from the pain. Colonoscopy gone wrong, punctured bowel, tests show she’s madly septic. Hospitalized, surgery, all too late. If you’re fat and female, your complaints are dismissed.

        1. Perse's Mom*

          Women in general, yes – but certainly as someone quite fluffy and picking a new primary doc, I was tempted to ask if the person setting up appts had any idea how the doc in question feels about fat people. I’m not always comfortable in my own skin, the last thing I need is a doctor who treats me like I’m not even human.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        C-dif. My aunt went in the hospital because she fell and broke a bone. She picked up c-dif and that was the end of her road. She never came out of the hospital.

        Road deaths: I’d like to add cell phone usage or any other electronic device. If you have an electronic device in your hand in NYS that is a ticket. People try to say they weren’t using it. Whoops, they just admitted it was indeed in their hand which stands alone as a violation of the law. Cell phone deaths are going up and up. Yet every where I go, most people are on their cells and driving.

    6. Rebecca*

      In 2007, my sister in law appeared to start to put on weight. Background, she was almost 60, had done no preventative care like PAP smears, colonoscopy, mammograms, nothing, she just didn’t go. But – she started to gain weight, and the doctor of course said “eat less, exercise, diet, etc.” If he suggested any diagnostic testing, I never heard about it. In summer 2008, she looked pregnant, the hair had fallen out of her legs, and her legs were retaining fluid. Doctor said congestive heart failure, started treating for that. By Thanksgiving, she couldn’t breathe, and was in the hospital, so the doctor said she had asthma along with congestive heart failure. At Christmas, she was so weak, her family took her to another hospital. They drained several gallons of fluid from her abdomen, it was filled with cancer cells, and on New Year’s Day 2009, she died, after a pretty gruesome end that I won’t type here because it was awful. I don’t know if she had colon cancer that metastasized, or uterine/ovarian cancer that metastasized, but it was cancer, she had it for a while, but her family wouldn’t allow an autopsy. This isn’t the only case like this I’ve heard about with this doctor. In fact, this same doctor was my mother’s primary care physician for years, even though I begged her to find someone else for this very reason.

      1. ..Kat..*

        I am so sorry. This should not have happened. Abdominal fat looks and feels very different from abdominal fluid.

    7. Scandinavian in Scandinavia*

      I honestly don’t think it’s that strange, considering the harrowing work conditions of medical staff in many places. 24-hour shifts or longer with little sleep, having to make decisions with great consequences fast and on the basis of sometimes conflicting information – I am impressed that it often goes so well. There are many great non-fiction books by doctors – I thoroughly enjoyed “This is going to hurt” by Adam Kay, which gives a UK perspective and manages to be both hilarious and deeply touching.
      I definitely want change – but I also am deeply grateful that I live in a time where so many things are possible in medicine. My grandfather died in the late thirties from pneumonia; ten years later, he could have been saved by penicillin. Had I not lived in a welfare system at the time that I do, I would not get help for depression. Remembering that makes it easier to live with what does not work well today.

      1. Koala dreams*

        I also think working conditions for the healthcare employees is the most important thing right now. There are quite a lot of health care professionals on all levels trying to get attention to health care errors, both through the overseeing agencies and through media. However it’s hard to make improvements when you are tired, don’t have the right resources, don’t feel supported by management and so on.

    8. Rebecca*

      And yes, I am outraged. We can demand change, but the bottom line is, I don’t think there are enough health care providers for the sheer number of people who need care. Then there’s the insurance end of it – so many people have plans with large deductibles, so if they can put off expensive testing, they will, because by the time they pay the premiums and all their other monthly bills, they can’t come up with another $6K to pay toward their deductible. I think it’s quite the mess.

    9. Parenthetically*

      Yep, my grandmother died as the result of a surgical error for a routine surgery.

      I think more technology, better training, more accountability, and better rest are all part of the solution for sure.

    10. Victoria, Please*

      I’m pretty sure my father died prematurely due to being sent home from the ER with a diagnosis of “eh, nothing” and it turned out to be pneumonia. But…he was in terrible health generally, was in and out of the ER frequently, was beginning cognitive decline. Something was going to happen and we were all just grateful it wasn’t a stroke with a long decline. I was a little outraged but rage was going to accomplish nothing so I let it seep away.

      My current plan for myself is Ezekiel Emmanuel’s. Pick a decent age and after that, nothing but comfort care. Of course I may change my mind if my husband or sister still need me.

    11. Nicki Name*

      Fragmented care is one of the big causes, and that’s unlikely to change until our healthcare system does.

      1. fposte*

        Yes! That relates to work a friend does in examining where things have gone wrong with a tragic outcome in social services, and repeatedly a huge factor is the problems of coordinating different elements.

        And while it’s human to make mistakes, and there will never be a guarantee that people’s medical conditions will always be diagnosed, that doesn’t mean that the rate of mistakes is unchangeable. Atul Gawande’s Checklist is an interesting read for that. I was also driven by this thread to look up medical error rates by country. In one recent study, the U.S.’s rate is twice that of France and nearly three times that of Germany. (Interestingly, Sweden’s is the closest to the U.S.) A 2005 study indicates we were in the lead then too, so this is not a recent problem.

        1. Lilith*

          Add to this discussion the opiod epidemic. I don’t know what the numbers are, but the issues are staggering in some communities.

          1. fposte*

            She’s focused more on practice than scholarship–she gives talks but doesn’t publish that much. Theoretically there’s a book coming (there’s a contract) but I’m not sure how it’s doing :-).

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I have been watching the rankings for cause of death. Medical error has been steadily climbing. It was not that long ago it was #6 for COD.

        3. ..Kat..*

          Different countries count/define/report medical error in different ways. This could be compairing apples and oranges.
          A good analogy of this: City of X police department made twice as many arrests for burglary this year as they did last year. Did the number of burglaries go up? Were the police better at catching burglars this year than last? Was the number of burglaries the same, but more people made a police complaint about the burglaries this year, and thus, the police had more reports to work from? Were burglars just more inept this year and thus more were caught? Do more people have security cameras, making catching burglars easier? Etc. etc.

          1. TL -*

            Survival rates for newborns are a good example of this.

            Babies born before 24 or 25 weeks in many countries are not considered live births. If the very premature baby doesn’t survive, it’s considered a miscarriage for recording and statistical purposes. In the USA, if the baby is alive at birth, at *any* gestational age, it is considered a live birth and the baby’s passing is recorded and counted as such, not as a miscarriage.

            1. ..Kat..*

              This is one reason our neonatal survival rates in the USA suck. We are counting deaths that other countries don’t count

              1. TL -*

                Yeah and we are actually really good at micro-premie survival compared to many other countries.

                There are other contributing factors as well but in general the USA tends towards overreporting in medical statistics.

    12. Dan*

      Honestly, I’m not outraged. I work in a field where when mistakes are made, *lots* of people die, and in ways that usually make headlines. In fact, it’s rare for fatalities in my field to *not* be headline makers.

      And yet a large portion of these fatalities are attributed to human error in some way shape or form. Usually it’s a improper response to some other primary catalyst (e.g., something went wrong mechanically, but the human should have known how to deal with it, and didn’t do it properly.) It’s extremely rare for fatalities to occur that are 100% unpreventable.

      Part of my job is to actually get in front of these types of events… we look at tons of quantitative and qualitative data to get insights into things that could be going wrong and lead to increased risk of fatality and try to put in mitigations to reduce that.

      So basically I’ve learned to accept that as long as humans are involved with something, there will always be some level of human error. And sometimes that error leads to loss of life which is regrettable and unfortunate. But it does not outrage me.

      1. JoJo*

        Oh a heck of a lot never makes the news. I have family members who work in hospitals. I often can’t listen because the stories of settlements alone at various facilities is hair-raising. I am still haunted by the story of a woman who was going in for scheduled surgery who, for some reason, was being transported via a medical vehicle — maybe an ambulance, is that even a thing? Anyway, she was on a stretcher and it wasn’t secured, the stretcher slammed into the door and killed her when the vehicle started moving. Never in the news. Not a whisper.

        1. Dan*

          Just to be clear, I don’t work in medicine. When there are fatalities in my field, it’s usually in the dozens, and sometimes even hundreds. In fact, the most deadliest incident ever in my field totaled just under 600 people. And that was the result of human error.

          OP asked if people are outraged that people die one at a time as a result of human error. My answer, honestly, was no.

      2. Lora*

        I am deeply suspicious of half-arsed root cause analysis though; worked several places where root cause analysis was mandated by regulations and the *typical* response was, “human error, turns out Low Level Person is an idiot so we fired him” when if they had done a real root cause analysis they’d have found an engineering or procedural solution to address the whole “Low Level Person had worked a 72-hour shift with only catnaps and received 15 minutes of lecture hall discussion about this problem with no practical instruction and the supervisor was in another building” aspect of the failure.

        My industry gets held responsible for a lot of those mistakes simply because we have deeper pockets to sue. We end up wrestling with, do we take the extra time to design a medical device that makes mis-use of the drug nearly impossible, or do we try to get it to dying patients who need it and trust that medical professionals can read a label properly and perform an IM injection reliably?

        1. Dan*

          We tend to not fire people people for human error, because they usually end up dead as a result of their error. So we really do have an interest in figuring out where the system failed (vis a vis true human error) so we can improve the system and/or training. In fact, a good chunk of parts of my job really is focused on the system(ic) aspects of what causes, or is likely to cause these fatalities.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I read a book once about “cookbook” medicine. That is, doctors treating a symptom rather than a disease, and how they tend to not ask enough questions so when a patient presents with a particular *ingredient*, or symptom, they go with the first and most likely thing they think it is. Then if the treatment doesn’t help, they try the next thing and end up chasing a symptom and wasting time with a bunch of treatments that don’t work because they’re wrong. Then they give up.

      Personally, I think trying to cram so many people into a schedule that you have no time for a thorough history definitely contributes to the problem. Plus making people work egregiously long shifts with little rest. Plus, doctors are people, and some of them probably aren’t too great at asking questions. Plus, patients aren’t always too great at answering them.

    14. Southern Metalsmith*

      There was a podcast I was listening to a while back – (Hidden Brain, I think? – I have Shankar Vedantam’s voice in my head when I think about it.) He talks about Atul Gawande and the checklist he developed and the tremendous difference it makes when hospitals develop and implement these checklists. And the strong resistance among some in the medical community to taking steps like this. It’s been a while, I’ll post a link if I can find it.

        1. Teach*

          The book “Checklist Manifesto” is fantastic – many in education have adapted its message to our less life-threatening but important work.

    15. HBJ*

      I’ve had two children now, and I’m always nervous leading up to delivery because of how horrific maternity care is in the US. A third of women get c-sections, which is absolutely horrifying.

      And then there’s my cousin. Her delivery was challenging. She had numerous issues and required an induction, but everyone was safe, and she goes home and six weeks pass. And then she starts hemorrhaging. By the time she made it to the hospital, she had lost half her blood and barely escaped dying. She had a partially retained placenta. Making sure all of the placenta is expelled is the most basic thing you are supposed to make sure of after the baby comes out. Doctors/midwives/nurses/whatever are supposed to go over the placenta and make sure it’s all there. I had a more textbook delivery and actually watched them do this from the bed. If it doesn’t all come out (placenta acretia), they go in with their hand and scrape it out or do other procedures (you may have heard of this because Kim Kardashian had it). It is appalling that they missed it. They are now suing the hospital.

    16. ..Kat..*

      As someone who works in the healthcare system, more staff would help – but is considered too expensive.

      Another problem I see is healthcare professionals who don’t listen to others on the healthcare team and then make mistakes.

      There are massive initiatives in the USA to prevent mistakes. One example. A pre-procedure pause is now required. During that pause, the patient is identified, the procedure is identified, and staff are asked if they have any concerns or questions before starting the procedure.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        One book I read instructed patients for amputation surgery to use a black marker: “NO not THIS one.” or “Yes this is the correct one.” omg.

        1. Venus*

          Well, it is very cheap and easy to do, and the consequences of doing it wrong are very high! Definitely worth the few seconds of scribbling while the patient is awake to watch them do it right.

        2. ..Kat..*

          If it is left or right, we actually talk with a conscious patient or family member (if patient is unable to respond) and mark the site of the procedure beforehand.

        3. tiasp*

          My son had surgery this year and in the pre-op room, the nurse opened a drawer full of markers and had him right YES on the correct appendage and NO on the other one.

        4. OtterB*

          At the hospital where my husband had several orthopedic surgeries, in the pre-op room the surgeon signed the site of the surgery in marker. Even for the surgery which was *removing* an external fixator device, which really could not have been done on the wrong limb.

    17. Fikly*

      So, I was just listening to an interview that touched on this! It was an interview with an OB/GYN and the topic that came up was reducing maternal death. She mentioned that at the hospital where she delivers babies, they changed the policy to allow nurses to speak up at any time if they feel something is unsafe during a delivery and be taken seriously, give them the “hey, we need to stop and re-evaluate for a second” power, and not face negative consequences for this, and then follow through on the cultural change to make that actually happen.

      Unsurprisingly, maternal deaths went down! They studied this! And I think that is a real world example of how this sort of thing can be addressed. In the US, at least, there is a very high the doctor knows all philosophy, while the reality is, other people in the room may be noticing critical things too, but may not be in a position to either be listened to, or not face retaliation if they do speak up (two separate issues).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Our nurses are so very disrespected over all. It’s disgusting. Yet they are probably a better source than some doctors.

      2. ..Kat..*

        The doctors with the best outcomes are the ones who touch base with the nurses about how the patient is doing. This is because the nurses are the ones spending the most time at the bedside – we spend much more time with each of our patients than doctors do. Many people don’t realize this, because what you see on TV is so different from real life. When we get the chance to tell the patient’s doctor what trends we are seeing, what we see that concerns us, the doctor is better able to give orders that address how the patient is doing and what the patient needs. (I am a nurse, and I know this may sound biased towards nursing, but this is just a fact.) Patients get the best care when their healthcare providers work together as a TEAM.

        1. Fikly*

          Nurses are hands down the best. I say this as someone who has worked with them, who spent five days in an ICU making disgusting fluids while unable to lift my head, and as someone who walked into a doctor’s office where I was not a patient after falling on the street, and they disinfected my elbow and gave me a band aid.

    18. MsChanandlerBong*

      I personally am surprised that MORE people don’t die from medical errors. I’m flabbergasted every time I’m in the hospital, which is quite often. A couple months ago, a nurse came in and tried to give me medication. The doctor never mentioned said medication, AND he told me I was being discharged. The medication also had nothing to do with my symptoms or any of my diagnosed health problems, so I refused it. Then I get home and look at my digital chart–there’s an anesthesia consult note in it. I didn’t have any anesthesia, and I did not have a consult with an anesthesiologist or CRNA. I think that someone put the wrong note and the wrong orders on my chart. It’s a good thing I am “with it,” or I would have gotten someone else’s medication!

      When I was young, I had a bowel obstruction. My mother took me to the doctor, and he said I just had an upset tummy. Then we went to the ER when I wasn’t getting better. Sat there being ignored for quite a while, and then my mother demanded that I be taken to another hospital. They took me there by ambulance, a doctor met me at the door, and I had a diagnosis within 15 mins. I would have died had they not caught it. The other place didn’t catch it because “there was a shadow on the X-ray.” My friend’s 11-month-old baby also died from an undiagnosed bowel obstruction. She took him to two different ERs over a period of weeks, they kept telling her it was acid reflux, upset stomach, etc. Finally, they diagnosed him, but by the time they got him into surgery, he was septic. They won a huge lawsuit against the hospital, but money won’t bring back their baby.

      1. Nature happens*

        Pure conjecture, skepticism and no hard proof given by this author. I do see an ajenda instead of fact based discredition.

    19. KoiFeeder*

      I got put on 40mg of adderall a few years after my autism diagnosis, but I hesitate to call that an error when the man never performed any testing to see if I was ADHD to begin with before putting me on adderall and upping the dosage 10mg every week when it didn’t work.

      Autism and ADHD are comorbid, yes, but you still ought to check before reaching the maximum dosage of medication!

    20. nonegiven*

      That’s like 10 times as many deaths as from gunshot wounds and ‘medical misadventure’ rarely makes the news.

  21. Bake sale recommendations?*

    Anyone have a tried and true recipe that is a hit for bake sales? This is geared for adults not kids. No box mixes please (I personally don’t like them) and nothing that requires decorating (but if it looks pretty as is/ out of the oven, that is nice). Bonus points for non-chocolate recipes that even chocolate fans like. Or chocolate recipes that non- chocolate people like. It seems the world is split into chocolate fans and not chocolate fans.
    Thanks.

    1. Anona*

      The potato chip bacon brownies by Trisha Yearwood are on my list to try. They look different enough that they might attract a lot of bakesale attention.

    2. Slartibartfast*

      What about something like an apple brown betty or peach cobbler baked in foil cupcake wrappers instead of a big pan? And cinnamon rolls. Everyone loves cinnamon rolls. I’d like mine without raisins please.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        Great idea!! I’m with Sled Dog Mama on borrowing this one… even for entertaining, it should be a lot easier to display them on the buffet…

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      Does Puppy Chow count? I’m a lover of all things peanut butter and chocolate so Puppy Chow is the bees knees for me. My S/O makes peanut butter chocolate rice krispie treats for any work related events and she said they always get cleaned out immediately.

    4. anon24*

      This die hard chocolate person loves lemon bars (google it if you’re not familiar, there’s lots of recipes and I’ve never made them for anyone who hasn’t ended up loving them) and cinnamon buns. And of course all things chocolate :)

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Lemon squares, baklava, and shortbread. I don’t have my cookbooks with me though for specific recipes.
      I’m sure I’ll come up with more, my MIL is a cookie fiend.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Lemon squares from my childhood church cookbook
        Crust: 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 cup butter or margarine. Mix like a pie crust. Press down on bottom of greased 9 by 13 Pyrex dish. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.
        Filling: 4 eggs slightly beaten. 2 cups sugar. 6 Tbsp lemon juice (2 or 3 lemons). 4 Tbsp flour. 1/4 tsp baking powder. Combine filling ingredients and spread over hot crust. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes more. Cool. Slice. Dust with powdered sugar.

    6. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Sticky ginger cake (I will try to link my favourite recipe in a nested comment). Very British though, don’t know if it gets lost in translation.

    7. Valancy Snaith*

      The Smitten Kitchen recipes for Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and Best Cocoa Brownies are both absolutely surefire. I never make either without being asked for the recipe.

    8. Parenthetically*

      Honestly, bang for your buck? Smitten Kitchen’s salted brown butter rice crispy treats. They’ve got everything you need to target adults — inexpensive, delicious, and incredibly nostalgic — but they take about 15 minutes to make a MASSIVE batch. You could drizzle or dip half of them with really good bitter chocolate, even.

      1. RandomPoster*

        Pretty much anything from Smitten Kitchen is amazing, but I was coming to recommend these as well. They’re very good!

    9. C Average*

      Roman apple cake. My go-to recipe is adapted from an old hippie cookbook I pilfered from my mom–I want to say the Small Planet cookbook?–but there are good recipes online, too.

      My favorite thing about it is that it’s actually better a day or two after it’s been baked.

    10. Sled dog mama*

      My go to recipes are King Arthur Flour’s best fudgy brownies (or super fudgy I’ve memorized it so I’m no longer sure of the name), chocolate chili cupcakes, and gingerbread cupcakes, the cupcakes can be paired with almost any frosting. If you use a pastry bag with a large star tip they look fancy almost no matter how you frost them.
      I also love lemon bars (from the comments I’m wondering if that goes with loving chocolate).
      For bake sales I usually do the gingerbread cupcakes because everyone brings chocolate something.

    11. BRR*

      I’ve had consistent luck with placing a layer of Oreos flat in a 13×9, then covering them with a layer of chocolate chip cookie dough, then covering them with brownie batter and baking. (I want to acknowledge this doesn’t do much for non-chocolate lovers).

    12. Grace*

      Pretty much every single Mary Berry traybake – the BBC Good Food website has a bunch of them. My favourite is the vanilla and chocolate marble traybake, particularly if it’s bonus points for looking pretty as is, and it would be fairly easy for someone who’s not a fan of chocolate to get a piece that’s mostly vanilla and vice versa.

    13. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My biggest bake sale suggestion isn’t a recipe – it’s to make something that you can package into small servings (and price low as a result). I’ll do something like make a big batch of brownies or cookies and then get a thing of cellophane bags from the dollar store and put just a few (maybe six) in each bag. That makes it easier for people to talk themselves into buying your thing since it’s less of a commitment and they can also buy other things.

      I used to make meltaways from the Betty Crocker Cooky Book a lot when I did more sweet baking, but I don’t seem to have that cookbook unpacked yet and I haven’t made them in a few years so I can’t type it out from memory (most people I know are avoiding sweets and/or wheat right now, so I haven’t done much sweet baking in the past 5 years or so). They’re butter cookies with no egg and with powdered sugar on top. I liked them because there was no refrigeration step and all of the ingredients were either shelf-stable or things I’d already have on hand in quantity (butter) so I could go from “no idea I’d need cookies today” to “here are the cookies I made” in about an hour. They’re similar to cookies called things like Mexican Tea Cakes or Russian Tea Cakes, but without the nuts, and there are lots of recipes for those online if you want to go that direction. They don’t include either chocolate or fruit by default, they’re just rich and buttery, which is often a compromise between the fruit people and the chocolate people.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Your first paragraph is interesting to me — I’ve never been to a bake sale where things weren’t sold by the piece (or small serving, as in the Russian teacakes you mentioned)! I can’t imagine how you’d get people to buy an entire pan of brownies, but a brownie or two is such an easy sell. I suggested rice crispy treats above and was definitely thinking to sell them in individually wrapped portions!

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I’ve seen some where most people make whole pies and cakes – it’s much harder to convince me to buy an entire pie than it is to convince me to spend the same amount of money on a bunch of packages of a couple of cookies each.

    14. Frea*

      Every time my work has a bakesale, at least two or three people check in with me that I’m going to make Smitten Kitchen’s salted caramel brownies. I did make some blueberry and lemon scones that were also a big hit, but “the fudgy heart attack brownies” are my usual go-to.

      1. SpellingBee*

        Oh, her blondies are also amazing, and just this week she posted a recipe of salted caramel pretzel blondies! Those are next up on my have-to-make list.

    15. LCL*

      Some kind of candy spiced nuts, there are many recipes out there. Easy to make, and adults will buy them.

    16. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I don’t have a specific recipe, but I highly recommend doing something savory. Especially when most of the customers are adults, savory stuff is something different and easy to talk yourself into even if you’ve already picked out a few sweet treats. Mini quiches, spicy roasted nuts, sausage rolls, empanadas, and spinach feta hand lies are always popular. If you use frozen puff pastry and phyllo it’s easy to whip up a couple of options even if your also do a couple of sweet things.

      1. Fellow Traveler*

        +1 . I usually make sausage rolls and they go really quickly because people often just want a savory snack. I don’t follow a specific recipe; i just buy the frozen puff pastry and use ground sausage, or ground turkey and add some herbs and spices.

      2. Glory Hallelujah*

        I like to make cheese and chive scones for this exact reason – they’re super easy to make ahead of time and bake from frozen and people do always seem to like having a savory option on the table

    17. Amity*

      Oatmeal carmelitas! Google the recipe, they are amazing. Leave out the chocolate chips the recipe calls for and just use the caramel mixture in the filling. I love chocolate, but this recipe is better without it! They’re also fairly easy to make. Oh, and use a 14-oz jar of caramel topping and add another tbsp of flour.

    18. Glory Hallelujah*

      Thank you for thinking of us non-chocolate lovers – over the years I’ve learned that I’m often the only person at the bake sale with something chocolate free and while that’s good for my wallet and waistline it’s also kind of a bummer.

      On that note, I’ve always had super good luck with Martha Stewart’s Lime Meltaway cookies! I usually make 3 batches and vary the juice in them so that I have lemon, lime, and orange cookies and I like to package them up with one of each flavor in a muffin liner.

      They’re easy (the hardest part is rolling them into a log) and can be made ahead of time so you’re not scrambling the day of the sale, which is a total blessing in my opinion.

      https://www.marthastewart.com/316576/lime-meltaways-from-the-martha-stewart-s

    19. Lcsa99*

      Snickerdoodles! As a bonus, this recipe makes incredible vegan cookies, just substitute the eggs, milk and butter for soy options you should be able to find anywhere. We actually like the vegan version better.

      2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
      2 tsp cream of tartar
      1 tsp baking soda
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1 cup butter, softened
      1 1/2 cups sugar
      2 large eggs
      2 tbl soy milk
      1 tsp vanilla extract

      Topping:
      6 tbl sugar
      2 teaspoons cinnamon
      Nutmeg to taste

      In a small bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside

      In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and beat well. Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

      Preheat oven to 350F

      Mix the remaining sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Drop the dough by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets, leaving several inches between them. Keep in mind these spread more than most. Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

      Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.

      Let the cookies cool on a wire rack for as long as you can wait.

    20. Not My Money*

      Salted Caramel Butter Bars from Cookies and Cups. One caveat, I don’t think they need a tablespoon of salt. I usually use about 2/3rds. You can also add sprinkles or baking chips to change them up.

    21. Autumnheart*

      Google “Giada de Laurentiis Florentines food network”. I’ve made that recipe several times, and it is a great one for cookies that look like they took a lot more work than they did. One batch makes dozens of individual cookies, which you then pair. Some people bake them in a silicon muffin mold to get a uniform shape, but I just take a moment to pair cookies of similar size before doing the chocolate step.

      Additional advice: use a high quality chocolate instead of something like Nestle, Hershey or Ghirardelli (grocery store edition, anyway). You can get a bar of Belgian or Swiss chocolate at Cost Plus World Market, and Whole Foods also has a good selection (especially Callebaut, my go-to chocolate for recipes).

      Secondly, instead of using the 2 tablespoons of flour, throw some almonds into the food processor and just use the resulting almond flour. It is only a binder (the cookies are very flat and don’t rise) and works very well, and then your cookies can be gluten-free without sacrificing any quality!

      Good recipe for holidays too.

    22. Teach*

      “Gourmet” Rice Krispie treats are my go-to. The kind with peanut butter in them plus unwrapped small Reese’s cups on top, and the kind with a little confetti cake mix and lots of sprinkles are my typical bake sale offerings, and they sell out. I mix in a cup of mallows at the end so there are mallow pockets, I make big square treats, and I package them cutely with cello and curly ribbons and a tag.

    23. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Look up the website Cafe Sucre Farine – Banana Pound Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

      Its.. amazing. I make it for charity sales at work and quite a few people ask throughout the year ‘when are you going to make your cake again?’ It’s always the first to go and it makes a BIG cake, so people feel like they are getting value for money with a slice.

    24. 00ff00Claire*

      Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Bars. Our just Ooey Gooey Bars. I don’t have a recipe, but they’re pretty straightforward and Google yields quite a few recipes. I love chocolate and I love these too even though they are not chocolate!

    25. MsChanandlerBong*

      I usually make cheesecake bites and top them with cherries/blueberries/strawberries (and I leave some plain for people who don’t like fruit topping). You can use a Nilla wafer on the bottom or just mix up graham cracker crumbs and butter.

    26. Just us chickens*

      I was watching an old episode of Masterchef Australia and for one of the team challenges, one team made rocky road popcorn. So no baking required, quick to make and it seemed both adults and kids liked it. The recipe is on the website.

    27. Alexandra Lynch*

      I often plate up together snickerdoodle cookies and soft molasses cookies. They look very pretty together and they don’t involve chocolate, but they are popular.

  22. Kali*

    I’m really confused by one of the premises in a book I’m reading, called I’m Watching You. Basically, one character witnessed two fifteen-year-old girls become friendly with two men on a train, and then overheard one of the girls having sex with one of the men in the train toilet (relevant that the age of consent is 16 in the UK and the witness couldn’t tell the exact age of the girls, who were dressed up for a concert, so she didn’t realise it was illegal). By the next morning, one of the girls have disappeared and she immediately calls the police, as soon as she sees the appeal, to report what she saw. The bit that confuses me…is she then gets internet hate for not calling sooner? The info about the sex hasn’t been released, so she’s getting hate for…seeing two girls become friendly with two older men on a train and make plans to hang out with them later, and not immediately calling the police? It just doesn’t ring true to me. The witness and her partner have discussed the issue, and both are convinced that if the detail about the sex came out, everyone would immediately understand why she didn’t call the police, and that baffles me further. Surely that’s more incentive to call the police, not less? Even then, if I were in that situation, I think I’d just mind my own business. :/ Am I just really off with what most people would do in this scenario?

    1. anon24*

      I read that book awhile ago. I don’t remember much about it (in fact I didn’t remember it at all until reading your comment) and I remember just being really confused by the whole premise too, and thinking maybe its because I don’t understand modern culture and the whole “film everything and shove your nose in everyone’s business” society.

      I’m glad it’s not just me.

    2. Batgirl*

      I think both things would happen. I think a reasonable person would assume the girl was an older teen, decide her sex life was her own business and stay out of it.
      I also think the person would still get blasted on the internet by people who think they are all knowing and who believe that in her shoes they would have hindsight in advance.
      The bit that sounds unrealistic to me is that the name of a witness would be out there as soon as this, and available to trolls. Police tend to protect the identity of witnesses for this very reason.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I also think the person would still get blasted on the internet by people who think they are all knowing and who believe that in her shoes they would have hindsight in advance.

        I have seen this happen online with my own eyes in every website that allows comments.

      2. Kali*

        There was a whole chapter explaining that they’d mentioned the witness was “on her way to a conference” and someone had done some digging based on where the train was going to and from and called every possible candidate, and the witness made the mistake of saying “who told you?!” when they called her instead of something like “what are you talking about?”.

    3. YetAnotherUsername*

      Just sounds like a badly written book. I wouldn’t call the police if I saw people talking on the train either.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      People like to place blame (away from themselves) when bad things happen. Yes, any of the tiny decisions made could have altered the end result, but that doesn’t mean that the decision itself (observe suboptimal behaviour but decide it doesn’t reach a reporting threshold) was wrong.

      I think the book sounds accurate.

    5. Asenath*

      It doesn’t surprise me if I hear about an internet hate campaign for any alleged reason, or none at all. I can easily see it in this case – someone doesn’t understand the situation well, and goes off online, or even worse, they’ve got some pet cause, and think it’s just fine to attack some stranger who might be a useful focus for a PR campaign in favour of their cause, regardless of whether the attack is justified or even relevant. Girl Lost! I can’t do anything about it (they think), but if I saw them in the train I’d have stopped it somehow!! I must blame the person who didn’t, and simultaneously show how morally upright (and omniscient, because I would have known what was going to happen) I am.

      Sorry, on of my hot topics, internet hate campaigns. Honestly, if I saw a couple of girls who looked to be over the age of consent being friendly with a couple of men in a public place, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. It happens all the time, and almost always it’s perfectly consensual and normal. I probably wouldn’t have done anything different if I knew or suspected they were having sex.

      1. Kali*

        This makes sense. Another element is that her chapters are written in first person, and a ‘hate campaign’ directed at you will seem a lot bigger than one directed at another person, which is what I mentally compare it to.

    6. Lilysparrow*

      Getting blasted with hate over unreasonable assumptions about what someone “should” have done is 100 percent realistic. Happens on this forum and every other one I’ve ever seen, all the time.

      OTOH, I agree with you that hearing the bathroom sex might possibly raise concerns about trafficking or age of consent that just seeing them talking would not.

      Not that I think anyone would automatically call the police, but that it would be more likely to get reported to maybe the conductor, or something.

  23. BeanCat*

    Well, I did have my surgery Monday. Somehow in a year and a half my endometriosis came back more aggressively and is worse than last time. There was a lot of spotting and scar tissue, both ovaries were sticking to things, and I had a bonus fibroid that I really didn’t need nor want.

    My surgeon was able to remove all problems but he’s baffled as to why mine is so aggressive and we’re looking into options to stop this from happening again if we can. I can’t do hormonal birth control like most people because of a blood condition I have, and pretty much all treatment options for endo include hormonal treatment. But I might have to weigh the risks at this point.

    1. fposte*

      Ugh. I’m sorry. I hope at least you are recovering well and that this gives you a good result on diminishing pain for the time being.

      1. BeanCat*

        Thank you very much! Thankfully I have a job this time that allows me to take the full two weeks for recovery so I’m doing well right now. A bit sore but that’s expected :)

    2. Wishing You Well*

      This is a weird thought: acupuncture – maybe? Also, is your immune system fully functional? I’d look into alternative medicine to see if there’s anything useful to you there.
      Sorry you’re dealing with this. I hope your endometriosis is gone for good now.

      1. BeanCat*

        Hmm – I’m open to anything I can have covered by my insurance and discuss with my doctor! Thank you for the well wishes :)

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you a gentle internet hug…. and wishes for quick healing and the path forward to be as risk-free as possible.

  24. Rebecca*

    Mom Update

    On Thursday, the cast came off, and the PA scolded her for not using her arm more. Since July 3, when it was casted, she has been treating it like a piece of fine china, holding it at a strict position (above her heart), to the point she was literally shaking with stress over it. Many times, she was told, you can put it down for short periods, just prop it up as best you can to sleep, use your fingers, but she refused. All she could remember was that initial “you have to hold it up this way so the bones don’t come undone” but that was for the first week or so. Even this week, she was holding it up in the air with her elbow bent. Not surprisingly, she can’t straighten her arm. The ligaments are too tight, her hand is not working well, and she’s in pain. The PT person said she should take 2 Tylenol before visits. She normally takes one per day, and won’t take the Tylenol with codeine the doctor prescribed because she thinks she’ll become addicted. Honestly, I’m out of patience. I told her, start using it, or lose it…your choice, and stop whining. I know it hurts, I know this sucks, but it is what it is, and you have to deal with it.

    Thursday afternoon was also her first home visit with the PT person, to see how she would navigate in the house. They made her walk up the steps from the basement to the first floor, she made all sorts of sounds, kept saying she was falling (she wasn’t, and PT person had a gate belt on her and was right behind her). I had the walker ready in the kitchen, and she did manage to walk around the house. We need to add a second hand rail on one side at the 2 steps going up to the kitchen from the landing, so I’ll call a handyman, and her bed @ 30″ off the floor is too high. Just the mattress and box springs alone are about 19 1/2″, which is as high as her whole bed is at the home. PT person said she is not ready to come home yet, and the biggest holdback right now is Mom’s own fear. The whole time, she kept saying “I can’t, I can’t, I’m going to fall, I can’t” over and over, yet the day before she was determined that she was going to go home, she could do things on her own, etc. but when push came to shove, she couldn’t do it.

    This brings me to this Wednesday – I’m taking off work to take Mom to another PCH which has been recommended by her friend, friend’s pastor, and other people, rates are cheaper, meals are supposed to be better, and so we’re going for an evaluation. Mom’s last day at the current home is August 31, Saturday, so I’m hoping she can go to the new home that day. It’s about 25 minutes away, so will give me some time to recoup, Mom time to figure out if she likes it there…I framed it like, maybe just 7 -10 days of respite care to see if you like it and it’s really as good as everyone says, that way, if you get hurt again, you’ll have a place to go that’s familiar.

    And this brings me to my final thing – I was able to find the Pennsylvania Code for Personal Care Homes. Current home is not following the rules. The food part is the worst – so far – Thursday’s supper was a egg salad sandwich with potato chips. The day before it was chicken nuggets and potato chips. And before that, a hot dog and potato chips. The other meals are not much better. They’ve stopped leaving milk on the table in pitchers at breakfast, and now the attendant pours out milk from a gallon jug on the dry cereal or oatmeal, and puts the jug back in the cooler. They’re supposed to provide additional helpings if requested, but most of the time, Mom said they say “that’s all there is”. PA code has a laundry list of rules, they must follow USDA guidelines, full menus for the week must be posted ahead of time, any substitutions must done 24 hours in advance, alternative items must be available, etc. They aren’t even close. Several of the residents told me they don’t get enough to eat. Mom is lucky, she has me to bring in extra food. Some of the others don’t. Mom has shared some of her food with one of the other ladies who has no one to bring extras for her.

    Staffing is another issue – just one person on at one time, because there are less than 16 people there. But…from § 2600.57. Direct care staffing: (b) Direct care staff persons shall be available to provide at least 1 hour per day of personal care services to each mobile resident. (c) Direct care staff persons shall be available to provide at least 2 hours per day of personal care services to each resident who has mobility needs.

    Since there are now 12 people there, and over half have mobility needs, and there is one staff member on duty at one time (responsible for meals, passing out meds, laundry, vacuuming, cleaning, etc) this isn’t happening. Mom admitted last night hasn’t had a shower since she got there on July 27, she washes up with lukewarm water as best she can while standing at the sink. There simply isn’t time for one person to help all those people and perform all the other duties. She has a tub and shower in her room, but needs help and the shower head is fixed, no removable shower head attachment, so she just can’t get a shower. I may help her today since I didn’t know this.

    I also saw one of the residents with dementia in the dining room, sitting alone, and dumping water from her drinking glass down her back. I asked one of the other ladies, and she just shrugged, and said “she does that now” but no one was there to help her or take the glass away. This was Thursday, egg salad sandwich day…I made a supper of sorts for Mom from her own food on Thursday, I had told the attendant that Mom was just getting back and needed supper, but she got a phone call, then disappeared, so I got peanut butter, bread, carrot chips, yogurt, and grapes from Mom’s stash in the cooler for supper. I never did find the attendant to help the other lady.

    I found the phone number to report issues with PCH’s and I’m calling on Monday. Someone needs to do something about this. I’m putting together a list of facts, things I observed, and hopefully there will be a surprise inspection and things will be better for the residents who will be staying there long after Mom is gone. Wish me luck on that – I’ve never done this before, but I feel really strongly if you’re going to take care of vulnerable people, you need to follow the rules and make sure they’re cared for properly.

    So, on today’s agenda, mowing, groceries, a walk, laundry, vacuuming (OMG my room is a disaster!!), and tidying things up. The sun is shining, and that awful humidity and 90 degree misery has left, it was a refreshing 54 degrees this AM. I’m on laundry load #3 now. And I may take a nap if I feel like it!

    1. Wishing You Well*

      Wishing you luck on reporting violations.
      PLEASE follow up your phone call with a letter or email. It’s very hard to ignore a signed and dated written complaint. Phone calls are easier to dismiss.
      Thank God you’re willing to speak up for these people!

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        And if the call and writing don’t get attention…call the media or post pics on Twitter.

        It is heartbreaking to picture these vulnerable people starving out of negligence. Terrible.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        In your call, make sure you get a timeline for them to respond. And I agree that having something in writing is ESSENTIAL. The best way to follow up is something like this: “I’m writing to confirm the details we discussed on the phone. Here are the examples I mentioned about how Pathetic Care Home is not following Pennsylvania Statute XYZ.”

        After you list them, you then document what they told you on the phone. “You mentioned in our conversation that you are now informing Powers That Be to take action for enforcement in the next 30 days. The Powers That Be will swoop in with magical capes flying and liberate the residents and take them to Perfect Care Home.” Okay, that last sentence is just my wish for these unfortunately people.

        That’s so great that you are speaking up for these people who don’t have anyone else to be their voice. You continue to impress the heck out of me!

        1. Green Kangaroo*

          I have been in this industry for a long time. “Perfect Care Home.” Yes, these exist. They only take private-pay residents and cost about $60k plus expenses annually for assisted living; upwards of $100k for skilled nursing care. The don’t admit those on public funding because the Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates are incredibly low…oftentimes less per day than boarding a pet. Reimbursement rates haven’t changed in over a decade. Staffing is a huge issue; there are labor shortages everywhere so there’s incredible competition for workers, and direct-care work is demanding and sometimes unpleasant. Long-term care is an industry in crisis and it is only going to get worse as the U.S. population ages. This is what tax cuts, reduced entitlements and smaller government have brought us to.

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            Sadly, you are spot on. As someone without that kind of income and no children, I wonder what my own future will look like when I’m at that age.

            1. Rebecca*

              I’m not trying to be snarky, but maybe this is something that helper robots would be good at? Like, getting someone a drink of water, picking something up off the floor, helping to steady people as they walk…that type of thing, to free up humans for the other care giving? Sort of like a full sized Alexa that can help instead of just speak or turn electronics on and off.

              1. Green Kangaroo*

                Actually, some providers are using technology to augment care, especially for overnights. There are floor and door alarms that can alert someone offsite that an individual has gotten up or left the premises. There are medication containers that pop open and closed at certain times, and issue reports if medications aren’t removed from the container. There are many other options still in development (and state regulations haven’t caught up with how they can be used), but hands-on tech-based caregiving definitely isn’t too far off.

    2. Mimmy*

      I have a feeling that code violations are common in eldercare, as well as other specialties that care for and serve vulnerable people (people with disabilities, psychiatric hospitals). Good luck with the phone call on Monday. I look forward to hearing what comes out of it (if anything!) on next week’s post.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Also in jails. I’ve shared before about my 16 year old grandson who is in jail. He told his mother the food was inedible because it had maggots in it. She called to report (can’t remember who) and they told her they had too many institutions to oversee and couldn’t act on a complaint at one place. They told her if he got hungry enough he’d eat.

    3. Max Kitty*

      I would consider reporting to any available elder abuse hotline or Adult Protective Services as well.

    4. anon24*

      Thank you for reporting this. With so much on your plate it would be so easy for you to just focus on getting your mom out of there and then forget about this. And no one would blame you. But thank you. Elder care in Pennsylvania is absolutely horrific. I think the average person has no idea how much elder abuse goes on. All too often reporting it is screaming into the void because when the state shows up to investigate the facility has all their ducks in a row and a nice little explanation as to why grandma was mistaken about her treatment, but if enough reports are made eventually the state has to start taking them seriously.

      If you have a local Office of Aging and the emotional energy to do so, please file a report with them as well.

      1. Rebecca*

        Before I tell the person I call where this place is, I’m asking questions like, will you show up unannounced? Because if they don’t, everything will be perfect. I can envision them getting everything in order for just that day. I want them to show up and see the “supper” and the menus not posted, etc. I hope that’s not too late in the day for a state worker to show up. They should at least show up at lunchtime. If I had to guess, they’re probably spending about $5 – $7 total per resident per day on food items. I took a look in the cooler when I got Mom’s food out, and the chips with egg salad sandwiches were just generic Great Value chips, very cheap, plain white bread, and from what I could see of a partially eaten egg salad sandwich that had been tossed, the egg salad was spread very thin.

        Oh, and someone left a negative Google review, and it was all the talk a few weeks ago. Apparently the owner was trying to figure out who left the review, so she left a good one, and a few other good ones popped up too. I honestly just want them to feed the residents better and get more help for the care aspect.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The first nursing home I checked out, I showed up unannounced. I went down a long hall way, turned, went down another long hall way and turned to find another long hall way. I must have walked 4 or 5 minutes deep into that building and I did not find a single staff person anywhere.
          My friend worked there. She was horrified. She said they threw everyone’s teeth into one basin to soak. Then randomly handed teeth back to people. My friend did not last long.
          As I walked these long halls, I found bathroom doors wide open and people peeing in the bathroom with the door open. There was a strong urine smell everywhere.
          I could go on, you get the idea.

          This place was recommended by a social worker at the hospital. I said to her, “Let me guess, you made an appointment to see the place and you showed up at the correct time.” Very slowly and softly she said, “Yes, I did.” I let her know that I don’t make appointments for reasons like this.

        2. anon24*

          That’s heartbreaking. These people are counting on this facility to care for them and feed them adequately and they are being failed. Your mom is lucky she has you and that after all she’s done you didn’t just dump her in there and leave. You’re an amazing daughter.

          If reporting it to the state doesn’t work you may be able to get a social worker involved. Office of Aging or your hospital should be able to help with that. Occasionally residents at these homes have social workers who help coordinate care and advocate for them and if a social worker comes in they can witness this for themselves.

        3. Dan*

          You did find one way to get some attention. I’m usually not a fan of fake reviews, but sometimes the ends do justify the means.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      o_O

      Jesus Christ in a tiny red sidecar. Somebody needs to slap the shit out of those care home people. I wonder who’s skimming off the top in THAT outfit. >:(

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending warm thoughts of support from here. I am grateful you have found a better PCH, and I am proud of you for documenting and doing, even when you must be weary from your own mom-drama.

      Be gentle with yourself. You are doing an amazing job… you now have an extra bit of time to sleep and be yourself. (I hope that is not eaten up with traveling to see her as it sounds like the other place is further?)

    7. Dan*

      In my prior life when I’ve felt like stirring up trouble, I’ve found success with my state senator. At a different time, I found success with my city housing authority. My circumstances were different, but my point is that trouble can be successfully stirred with the right people. Maybe try AARP and see if they have advice.

    8. Rebecca*

      I want to give an update on last night’s visit. I found a menu posted, but it was in the kitchen, and was from July with those dates crossed out and August dates hand written over the old dates. From the statute: “Menus, stating the specific food being served at each meal, shall be prepared for 1 week in advance and shall be followed. Weekly menus shall be posted 1 week in advance in a conspicuous and public place in the home. ” Inside the kitchen is not a conspicuous and public place. Why was I there? Because there was one person on duty, I couldn’t find her, and I brought yogurt, bananas, grapes, and whole grain bread for Mom and put it in the cooler for her in her tray. I looked at the menu, didn’t take a photo because I wasn’t sure about surveillance cameras inside the kitchen, but I noticed that what Mom said they got to eat was the same. There was no fruit served that day, yet inside the cooler, there’s a big bin of fresh peaches. They’ve been there for 2 weeks now. Not sure what they’re saving them for, they’re not going to be good for much longer.

      This brings me to one attendant being on for 18 hours straight. Apparently someone called off, the person on duty couldn’t get in touch with the owners, or anyone else to come in on a Saturday morning, so she was there from 7 PM Friday night to 1 PM Saturday afternoon, all by herself, did two meals, what care she could, etc.

      Aside, Mom was really nasty with me yesterday. She called in the afternoon, and I was hiking. Having cell service in the mountains nearby is both a blessing and a curse. I answered, she asked me if I had gone to town, yes, do you need something? Answer, where are you, I said, I’m hiking, and she got angry, said never mind, and hung up on me. 20 minutes later, she called back, said she wanted sweaters because she was cold, and I said I’d bring them after I got home and had supper, and she again was nasty with me and snarkily said “I’m sorry I’m such a bother”. When I got there, I didn’t have the right sweaters, she was miserable, complaining about everything, from not enough clean towels and washcloths (she uses multiple towels and washcloths and launders them many times per week at home), her arm hurt, she hates this place, if I have to stay in this place I want to die, I hate this wig (she threw it on the floor), I don’t want anyone to visit me here, I’m cold…it went on and on and on. Why are my clothes still dirty in the closet? I was baffled, as the day before I had picked up clothes and laundered them, and asked her if that was all, yes, so now there’s more and she’s complaining. I asked her if she asked for more towels, etc. No. Did you ask to have a specific bath or shower time today? No, because that poor girl is busy with other people. So, I said – you’re angry with me because people aren’t doing things that you want them to do, but you haven’t asked them to do? Arrggghhh.

      It was exhausting. I reminded her that she has an appointment on Wednesday with the other PCH, and that the last day EVER at the current facility is August 31. It really didn’t help. I finally left after I helped her get washed up and ready for bed.

      Aside from the crappy food, this is a clean facility, nice rooms, no bad smells, it’s not loud, the attendants are kind, they’re just not following the rules with the number of hours of care per day and the dietary issues, and perhaps numbers of hours worked…things that need to be addressed, especially the food choices.

      And I know she is my mother. I know this is a bad situation. I know breaking an arm at 83 years old is hard. I hope I never have to go through it. BUT. She makes her own misery, in most cases. And I’m really tired of the drama.

      1. anon24*

        Just want to point out that just because the facility is nice and doesn’t smell bad doesn’t mean there isn’t serious neglect and/or abuse going on. I work in healthcare, I get that call offs happen, I’ve worked long shifts, but that doesn’t mean that any of this is acceptable. It’s up to the facility to do whatever necessary to make sure the residents are cared for and that isn’t happening. And the fact that the staff member couldn’t get a hold of anyone so she had to stay? What if she had her own emergency? This place sounds like an unsafe disaster waiting to happen.

        I know your mom is generally a miserable person but she also seems super depressed and if you can get her to accept professional help I think that’s a great idea. And if she makes suicidal statements or keeps talking about wanting to die making a phone call to your County Crisis team would be a good idea. They can help get you resources and can explain what you can legally do.

        Also, if you were able to find the number to complain about personal care homes I’m sure you’ve found this number but the PA elder abuse hotline is 1-800-490-8505. I’d also be taking pictures if I were you. If they see you on cameras it’s only going to give them incentive to clean up their act because they know someone is watching.

        And seriously, you’re amazing. After all you’ve been through and all the mistreatment you’ve received you are still out there caring for others. May great things be heading your way.

        1. Rebecca*

          I took clean clothes today, along with a few other things, and Mom was as nice as could be, asked me if I watched the Little League game (no, I was mowing and our neighbor came over with the weed whacker, so I missed it). Yesterday she emphatically stated NO VISITORS! So, I told her several people asked me today if they could visit, so I told them no, Mom said no visitors, and she said “well, they’re OK to visit”, and “well, I didn’t mean them”. Ugh. She even smiled. Thank you for posting the phone#, if anyone else has these issues, they have it too!

          OH – I almost forgot!! Owner’s name was in our newspaper for owing just shy of $51K in back taxes, and since the notices for tax sales aren’t posted until 2 years after taxes are due, this would be for 2017 tax year, I believe. So it’s possible they owe a pile of money in back taxes, too.

    9. Anon from the Bronx*

      Rebecca, I just want to say I am in awe of all you have been doing! Sending strength to you & thanks for fighting for better care for all the residents of the home.

  25. Watermelon M*

    Whew, I have a few questions for the open thread that I’ve been thinking about.

    1) How do you deal with feeling invisible? I don’t know what it is about lately, but I feel invisible. Maybe it’s with getting older, maybe it’s just my current city. Lately, I’ve had a lot of people only address my (male) partner over me, when I’m the one handling things. That’s been irritating. Other than dying my hair emerald green (which I can’t do atm) how do you get back to not feeling invisible?

    2) What’s your favorite at home facial/skin care? I can’t justify spending money on a spa facial right now, but I can buy a sheet mask and massage my face.

    3) Any of y’all learned a second language later, like 30+? Is there still a chance of becoming fluent at that age? Especially if you’re not living in the country of that language?

    1. Coco*

      For number 2, something super cheap is putting a couple of spoons in the freezer for 15 mins or so then putting on your eyes to de-puff. I’m a fan of the Luna FOREO line of face massager/ cleansers but if that is not in your budget you can buy manual silicone face massagers from amazon for like $5.

      1. Watermelon M*

        Ooh, I will look into the face massagers! I completely forgot about frozen spoons. That was a staple when I was teen and read that tip in Seventeen.

        1. Trixie*

          Similar to frozen spoons, I keep snack bag ziplocks with frozen peas and use those almost every morning. I also try hard not to sleep on my stomach which creates puffiness around the face and eyes. Especially after those heavy salt days.

    2. YetAnotherUsername*

      You can definitely become fluent in a new language in your 30s. Emigrants / immigrants/ refugees do it all the time.

      I would start with Duolingo and then move on to watching TV in that language.

      1. Watermelon M*

        True, my mother learned English as an adult when she immigrated here, but she did live in the US. I think I’m just doubtful how well I’ll learn if I’m not living in the country where the second language is spoken, and not near a community here either. But I’ll start watching tv in that language!

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Specifically, start with children’s programming in that language! You’re less likely to come across obscure vocabulary or complex syntax.

    3. Asenath*

      Sometimes I like feeling invisible. But when I don’t, I speak up, interrupting if needed, without worrying about being rude. “I’m actually the one buying the car. What was it you were saying about the options?”

    4. The Messy Headed Momma*

      A friend of mine just recommended mixing table sugar into your facial cleanser. You just put a tablespoon or so in your hands with your soap & voila! Smooth skin & apparently the sugar helps keep your skin hydrated!

    5. aarti*

      I’m just 30+ (31) but I’ve studied a lot of languages, so I’ll weigh in on number 3. I think it sort of depends what your measure of fluency is and what you want to use the language for. I’m currently learning a language spoken by about half my husband’s family (but not spoken in the area I live in). I don’t think I’ll ever translate literature in this language but my goals are to be able to have 10-15 small talk chats when they call us and be able have conversations during family meet ups. My cousin (42) is a nurse who has been learning Spanish (and self reports at 75% fluent or so) to better serve her largely Hispanic patient base. Will you be using the language for something or just learning it for fun?

    6. Earthwalker*

      Yeah, over-50 invisibility is a thing. It’s my superpower: hey, I’m invisible! But if I want to be visible I comb a streak of temporary color into my hair (purple, teal, something unusual). Then people notice me again and I can get service from people who might otherwise look right through me. That sounds silly but it actually works.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yep, I’ve experienced the invisibility thing. I was thinking of wearing an orange safety vest to keep people from trying to walk through me, but maybe I’ll try that hair streak thing instead. :P

      2. OperaArt*

        I’m over 60. When I wear good hats (cloches, fedoras) people definitely see me, doors are held open, customer service people speak to me immediately. If I don’t wear hats, I’m invisible.
        So my good hats are the reverse of an invisibility cloak.

        1. GlenEllyn*

          Thanks for the hat idea. I’m 60+ too, and feel invisible at times. Sometimes it’s a good thing, but not always. Time to buy a few hats.

      3. misspiggy*

        Yes, absolutely. I wore bright pink lipstick and fancy jewellery today and quite an up to date dress, and people in shops were much more attentive and helpful than usual. Which meant I was warmer to them, and it was all a bit of a virtuous circle.

        Perhaps not ideal that people are like this, but working with it can be quite rewarding.

      4. Alpha Bravo*

        I’m pushing 60 and I want this superpower! I’m quite grey but also very physically fit and a POC. I tend to feel anything but invisible, lol. On the other hand, I usually get very good service.

    7. Koala dreams*

      3) I’ve signed up for an evening course in a new language! I’m looking forward to it. I hope it will be fun. Since I don’t need to know the language for everyday life, I’m happy to learn small talk and ordering things in the restaurant if I go travelling there. After that, I’ll see. The fun things with languages is that there’s always more to learn, you are never done.

    8. Fiona*

      There’s a recent skit on A Black Lady Sketch Show called Invisible Spy that you might relate to – if you google it, you should be able to find it on YouTube. I found it funny and poignant in a sense – in this case, it’s more related to an intersection of plus-size bodies and blackness but relatable to many.

    9. Anon Librarian*

      Ooooh, I have a snarky response that combines 1 and 3! Invisibility is a POWER. I’m not saying it’s ok to treat people like they’re invisible. But when all else fails, use it to your advantage. And YES, you can learn new languages at any age (I have), and if you are invisible and a polyglot, you get to hear MANY things. Which you can later write about! Or you can just respond, and totally shock people! They’ll tremble in fear and/or kneal and kiss your feet when they see you again.

      The being invisible while hanging with a male friend or partner is especially irritating. Even worse when the guy is younger and less experienced at whatever the thing you’re there for is. In theory, they’ll speak up for you. But I think a lot of guys don’t even notice, or they’re caught off guard.

      You basically have to teach people that you are visible – wage a PR campaign of sorts. There are many ways to do that. Some will never catch on. But they’re showing their ignorance and lack of depth (at least in some areas), so just be glad you’re not them and that you’re enlightened enough to see all the humans that exist and to understand that they have brains.

      #2 – Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise, get enough sleep, stay hydrated, and live to the fullest.

  26. anon24*

    Easy dinners for camping?

    My co-worker invited my husband and me to go camping with her, her husband, and another co-worker. I’ve always wanted to go camping but never have so I’m excited to go. We will be responsible for dinner for one night. Anyone have any ideas for a delicious and easy dinner for someone who has never been camping and thus never cooked outside of a kitchen (and who honestly doesn’t cook much inside the kitchen anymore)? She will have a camp stove we can use and there are no food allergies/dietary preferences to worry about.

    1. BeanCat*

      Oh! When I was a kid we used to make tinfoil dinners. You take a few layers of long sheets of tinfoil, place some seasoned veggies on them (can add seasoned meat if you so choose), add a tablespoon of oil, then put a few more sheets on top and crimp/roll the edges to make a pouch. Then toss the pouch directly into the fire pit. (Probably better to do this with coals rather than a roaring flame.)

      Recommended: heavy duty foil and a grate to go over top the fire if you’re not using the coals.

      I have pretty fond memories of these dinners! Hope you have fun :)

      1. Grace*

        That’s also really good to do with fish and veggies – the fish steams in the veg juices, and it’s so tender it just falls apart.

      2. Clisby*

        I learned to do this at Girl Scout camp. Something like a hamburger patty, cut up potatoes, and carrots, seasoned, and then crimped up in the foil packet. Of course, adults can get more sophisticated with this stuff.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Campstove makes it super easy. We keep it as simple as possible most of the time with packet mixes with tasty add-ins — packet pasta alfredo with some broccoli and shredded rotisserie chicken mixed in is a favorite. We’ve also done boxed cajun red beans and rice served with sausages we cooked over the fire. I’ll add a couple links to some other tasty things in a reply.

      KEY things:
      – Do ALL your prep before you leave, and have everything in your cooler already prepped in containers. So say you’re making one-pot stroganoff — you’d have a bag with sliced mushrooms and onions and another bag with seasoned meat, then a jar or bottle containing your broth, worcestershire, and seasonings, another bag for your noodles, and a little container of sour cream. When I do tamale pie while camping (similar to link below but much smaller since it’s just for two of us), I make the entire chili filling at home, chill it, then put the amount I need into a ziplock bag and pop it in the cooler.
      – Don’t forget about things like oil, butter, salt, and pepper! We have a tiny bottle of olive oil that we refill for camping trips, and you can get salt/pepper sets at the dollar store.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      Hot dogs over a bonfire is the classic! And also Smores (marshmallow, chocolate bar, graham cracker).

      One of our favorites for camping is quesadillas. I buy canned chicken, taco seasoning, canned mushrooms, canned olives, shredded mexican cheese, and small soft taco shells. I sprinkle the taco seasoning on the chicken and then assemble everything in a pie iron to cook over the fire, but you could do them in a pan over the camp stove too.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        We have also done hamburgers, pizza pockets, grilled sandwhiches, fruit pies, and eggs and hash in our pie irons. If you get into camping, and live somewhere where you can make campfires, I can’t reccomend the pie irons enough!

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Assuming propane stove here. I suggest things that are edible even if you eat them raw, just I’m case. (I prefer beef to chicken for this.)
      My husband says hot dogs are better over wood fire.
      Pre-made stuffed pastries are a good convenience if you like baking at home, just bring themy along.
      Side note: learn what poison oak looks like, because it’s significantly different from poison ivy that they teach us in school.

    5. heckofabecca*

      SortedFood on YouTube has a 3-part series about camping food! If you google “sortedfood camping” you’ll find it, but the dinner recipes are basically the tinfoil method that BeanCat describes (with veg and also a fish) as well as a one-pot orzo pasta recipe. They have breakfast & dessert recipes too.

      Growing up we always did PB&J when we travelled for lunch to save money… I don’t remember dinner foods we had while camping, though! Sorry :S

    6. Overeducated*

      This may not be fancy enough, but I think camping spaghetti tastes better than any other spaghetti.

    7. Alex*

      Sausage and pepper sandwiches are one of my favorites. I precook the sausages at home so I don’t have to deal with raw meat, and then just put them on the grill to brown. Slice up some onions and peppers before you go, and then either fry them up in a pan or wrap in foil and cook them over the fire. Goes great with some grilled corn on the cob.

      Another fancy-but-easy one is ribs. Slow cook the ribs in the oven before you go, then put them over the fire and in the last couple of minutes brush with bbq sauce. Serve with salad and corn on the cob.

    8. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      If you have a camp stove, you have a one burner stove top that is pretty much the same as any stove top. Might be a little iffy on the heat output or control. Any one pot meal will work if the pot is big enough. What you won’t have is refrigeration (except for coolers), any kitchen tools except the ones you bring with you, or a kitchen sink. It’s the prep work and cleanup you want to minimize.

      Which night of the excursion are you cooking? First, third? Does the stove need a particular pot or have size restrictions?
      What kind of tableware is going (soupy food doesn’t go good on paper plates, but great in bowls)?

      Is there a meal that you already love and are familiar with cooking?

    9. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      On our way to go camping right now! In the ice chest are frozen spaghetti sauce and chili, which I made yesterday (I usually do it earlier, but I had an unexpected trip to LA this week).
      We’ll also be having burrito/tacos one night and cheeses, fruit & crackers another.

    10. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      Skewers and couscous is my go-to camping dinner. Before your leave, skewer some meat cubes and throw them in a ziplock with marinade. Prep a couple of quick cooking veggies (diced peppers, halved cherry tomatoes, frozen corn or peas, etc) and throw in another bag with a pinch of spice. Start roasting the meat and boiling water at the same time. When the meat is nearly done, add the veggies and couscous to the water and cover it for five minutes. Fluff the couscous and serve with skewer on top.

    11. Koala dreams*

      I’m going with easy here. Corn, hot dogs, meat balls. Buy the ready made so you just have to heat them. Eat with bread or something simple like pasta or couscous.

    12. HannahS*

      I’ve never been camping, but a friend was recently talking about it. She suggested something like boiling pasta, then cooking onions and other veggies in the pot, and adding textured vegetable protein (I think you have to hydrate it first–maybe cook it with the pasta) and some pasta sauce.

    13. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      You might consider boil-in-the-bag omelettes. You get ziplock freezer bags (one per person – write names on the bags) and fill them with raw whisked eggs and whatever omelette fillings each person likes, then seal them up and cook them in a big pot of water on the stove. If you’re not being graded on presentation, people can eat them right out of the bags with forks.

      This was a go-to meal when I was a kid and we’d have all of the extended family over at my aunt and uncle’s house because it scales easily to 15-30 people who all want slightly different things in their eggs (we’d have the eggs in a big pitcher and all of the possible fillings in bowls so you could just pick your own to put in the bag), but my uncle would cook it outside on a grill or camp stove (so as to not have a giant pot of boiling water in the house in the summer) so it seems like it would work well for car camping.

      I tend to bring spaghetti if I need to do a group meal while camping and I don’t want to deal with anything complicated. You can make basic spaghetti in one pot + colander if you’re not also trying to cook meat for it (I’m a vegetarian, but you could also pre-cook the meat at home and then just add the cooked meat to the jarred sauce when you warm up the sauce in the noodles after draining them).

      People also tend to like baked apples for dessert – core apples, wrap them in tinfoil leaving the top open, pour cinnamon and sugar into the missing core, finish wrapping the apple completely in foil, and bake in the coals until soft. (I bought an apple corer specifically for this, but it’s something I also make in batches in the oven at home when I have a group over.)

      You should make sure you understand how “improved” the camping site is as you plan the meals. Will there be potable water supplied on site or do you have to pack/filter in all of your water? Do the campsites have electricity? Is there a restroom with running water nearby for washing hands, or will your group be packing a handwash station (or…not)?

      “Camping” covers everything from “half of the group will be staying in RVs rather than tents, electricity is readily available at each site (which are clearly marked and have specific places to pitch tents as well as park cars), restrooms with flush toilets are a short walk away, and we all sit around a fire together in the evening roasting marhsmallows” to “we will hike all day with large packs and sleep when we find a good place near the trail to make camp each night”, so knowing where your particular group falls on the improved/unimproved camping scale and how far your camp site will be from where you are parking your car are things to keep in mind for meals. I bring a lot of heavy stuff (including a large cooler with 40 pounds of ice in it) if I’m car camping because I don’t have to carry it, but if I were camping someplace where I had to hike in I’d be much more interested in how much my food weighed and would not take things that needed to be kept in a cooler full of ice.

  27. Ask me anything - botox, fillers, etc!*

    Hi! I wanted to give those who are interested in botox/fillers/sculptra the opportunity to ask questions if you’re new to getting them or if you’re thinking about it. There is a big stigma that if you get these injections, you will look fake and overdone – which is simply not true. With good research, the right injectionist, these items are a great way for you to maintain youth in your face without looking fake. Expensive, sure, but if you have the money and are willing to budget it – it really goes a long way and no cream or serum will do what these products can.

    Please, no comments about how “I should love myself the way I am.” I do this because I want to and it makes me feel confident. If your choice is to go with the flow of the aging process, more power to you! It was simply not for me :)

    My story: I was a 27 year old redhead who spent way too much time not only in the sun but in the tanning bed (yikes). After a trip to South America, I was looking at the photos and realized how much I had aged. My skin was sagging, wrinkles around my eyes and forehead. I researched a med spa and after a few weeks found a spectacular one with stellar reviews – particularly one injectionist. There were about 100 reviews all saying how much of an artist she was. I was sold! I went in for my first appointment in June/July 2015. She recommended botox and fillers around my naso-labial folds. The botox took a few days to settle in but the filler was instant – I was THRILLED with the results.

    Here is what I’ve gotten over the last 4 years and what it’s done:
    Botox every 3 months – crow’s feet, 11 lines in between the brows, and just a bit in my forehead (I can still move my forehead up and down which was important)

    Filler – nasolabial folds. I don’t do this anymore because I got sculptra (more on that below) but it’s a great instant effect that lasts about 6-9 months, depending on your metabolism.

    Filler – lips. I only do about a half syringe every 6 months. This amount is not enough to make you look like Kylie Jenner (she probably had 2 syringes). It just gives you a *little* increase in size and a nice looking hydrated pout

    Filler – cheeks. I don’t do filler here anymore bc of sculptra but if I had to choose one area for the rest of my life, it would be cheeks. I had wonderful cheeks and a great cheek line when I was younger and that all depleted because of spending too much time in the sun. this is an INSTANT way to make you look younger. I love my puffy, youthful looking cheeks.

    Filler – under eyes. AWESOME HIGHLY RECOMMEND! I’ve always had thin skin under my eyes with big dark bags and decided to do this about 3 months ago. Love. love. love!

    Sculptra – THE BEST! It’s not a filler and not an instant result once the swelling goes away. Sculptra is an injectable that causes collagen production within about 6 months and continues to do so after that. This has been the most transformative product for my face and also saves money because it lasts 2 or more years. All that filler I used to get in my cheeks and nasolabial folds? no longer need it because sculptra has lifted my face, my cheeks look like I did when I was 18, and my jawline is sculpted (we women get a saggy jawline as we age). We also looks volume in our temple area, which I’ve also done.

    Longer post than I intended. If you have questions, ask away! Wish I could share photos – I do not look fake or look like I’ve had stuff done. None of my girlfriends have even asked me!

    1. Victoria, Please*

      So for lips… which I am considering because I have little paperclips… If you STOP at some point, is the result that you have a mouth like a raisin?

      I guess that’s a question for most of this, if you stop the treatments, have you made things far worse than they would have been otherwise?

      1. Ask me anything - botox, fillers, etc!*

        Lips go back to normal size. They will not shrink up like raisins :)

        Getting these treatments is also seen as a preventative. Especially botox, since you’re freezing the muscles, which means you can’t create new wrinkles. Sculptra is also a preventative since you’re creating collagen in your face.

    2. How much $?*

      I’m curious as to the money you have spent on these procedures. Could you delineate how much you have spent for each? Cost is a big factor for me.

      Also, whom is performing the procedures?
      Thanks

      1. Ask me anything - botox, fillers, etc!*

        I have spent quite a bit and I’ve done a lot, but am now at the point to where I can manage with $2,500 – $3,000 per year (what I’m currently doing is botox (every 3 months), lip/under eyes (every 6 months) and sculptra as needed (once every 2 years or longer if I don’t need it). Including this year, I have probably spent $12,000 over the last 4 years. The spa I go to has price specials twice a year, so that helps a lot as well if you buy beforehand.

        My injectionist is not a doctor or nurse but she is certified in every way possible and previous to injecting, she worked hands on beside a doctor so was familiar with the procedures. Finding the right person is extremely important. I went with her because of the amazing reviews she has online and they were right, she is an artist and incredibly talented.

        For price reference (including discounts)
        Lips and under eyes- one syringe restalyne/juvederm: $595/syringe no discount, $495/syringe with discount. I buy one of these every 6 months and use half on my under eyes and half for my lips. You don’t use juvederm for under your eyes, only restalyne or a diff product. If you ever do lips I recommend going to someone and have them use a canula. You will need to buy a full syringe but you can use the other half under your eyes. Canulas allow the injection to be put only on the side of your mouth versus directly on the lips, so there is no bruising and less swelling.

        Cheeks (filler) – one syringe of Voluma: $795/syringe no discount, $695/syringe with discount. You will need the whole syringe if you’re just starting out.

        Cheeks (sculptra) – they come in vials, not syringes (a lot more product). One vial is $850 without discount, $750 without discount. I used one vial for my cheeks and jawline. I bought a second one for a touch up 1 year later, to finish cheeks and do temples (this was recently). I’ll be good till at least next December.

        Botox – I get about 20-25 units each time, $11 per unit with discount, $12 per unit without discount. 5 units on each side of my eyes, 10 in my 11’s area, and 5-10 in my forehead

          1. Ask me anything - botox, fillers, etc!*

            The woman I see is a medical aesthetician, I just say injectionist.

        1. ..Kat..*

          I sometimes think about botox, but when I look at the expense and frequency of treatment, I tell myself to be comfortable with my looks. If you get botox for a while and then stop later, will you look worse for not continuing the treatment?

          1. Ask me anything - botox, fillers, etc!*

            Hello! In my experience and from what the woman I see has told me, botox helps prevent wrinkles in the future because you’re freezing the muscles. So you cannot create new ones while the muscles are frozen. I’ve never stopped doing botox so I’m not sure if that happens but I can see how it would!

    3. Homo neanderthalensis*

      Are you a bot or is this an ad? Because the way this is written it sounds like copy designed to get past a spam filter. Do you get money from Sculptra or Botox? This seems super scummy to me.

      1. Ask me anything - botox, fillers, etc!*

        lol OK. nope. just a person wanting to offer their experience because there is a lot of information out there on the internet and not everything is correct.

        1. Homo neanderthalensis*

          Yeah but nothing you’re saying is correct either- it’s just ad copy designed to trick women into procedures they don’t need and that can have devastating side effects. This is super gross.

          1. Hodor*

            I’m not sure why you think this is a bit or why you’re being so judgmental. I for one appreciate the info!

    4. Neela*

      Oh! I just talked with a dermatologist this week about doing something about the marionette lines I’m getting (vertical lines going down from the corners of the mouth). She surprised me by suggesting doing fillers in the cheeks instead, saying that when your cheeks are restored to their more youthful fullness it lifts the skin that’s causing the lines by the mouth. I’m trying to figure out how much of a difference that would truly make to my marionette lines. Know anything about that?

      1. Ask me anything - botox, fillers, etc!*

        Absolutely! Filler in the cheeks will lift the skin and help with the marionette lines. Killing 2 birds with 1 stone! that’s what happened with me and sculptra.

      1. Ask me anything - botox, fillers, etc!*

        Move along, no one’s paying me and I don’t work for any of these companies.

    5. Happy Face*

      You’ve posted this here before, I seem to recall. Are you getting discounts or kickbacks for this proselytising?

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Y’all, if you don’t want to read this post, please collapse it and pass it by, but do not harass the person who posted it. People are allowed to be interested in this topic. It’s fine to say “I have a different perspective because X” though.

      If you think someone is spamming the site please flag it for me and I’ll take a look. In this case, I checked the IP address after seeing these accusations and this is a regular commenter who has posted frequently on other topics. I also didn’t see other posts quite like this on past threads (although people frequently revisit topics and that’s okay too). This post is fine and doesn’t violate the rules of the site or the spirit of the weekend thread.

      1. Ask me anything - botox, fillers, etc!*

        Thank you AMA. I am a real person, just offering people to ask me questions if they are interested in it.

    7. Xavier89*

      Just because you’ve gotten a bunch of negativity I’ll go ahead and say that I get my lips done once a year as well as Botox once a year (the yearly Botox is just a treat really, I would need to get it done much more often for any long term difference)

      My lips make me very happy and it’s something that I do just for me, I don’t mind when other people say all injected lips look bad because I love my lips and that’s all that matters

      I don’t know much about sculptra! I might ask my injector next time I see her

      1. Redhead in NY*

        It’s amazing!! (Original poster here, posting this comment from my phone and my normal username is autopopulated)

        Glad you love your lips! I love doing mine too.

        1. Xavier89*

          I also totally agree with you that people think lip injections will give you big fake looking lips, they certainly can but like you said that takes multiple syringes

          A good injector will just give you hydrated plump lips

    8. Trixie*

      I am definitely looking at Botox. I have very active eyebrows/forehead and I like the idea of making them less active so slow down the wrinkling process. And absolutely about doing your research before selecting a professional.

      1. Ask me anything - botox, fillers, etc!*

        I had very active eyebrows (the 11 areas). so much that it looked like I was scowling at people when I really wasn’t! now they are frozen :P

    9. Ann O.*

      You may not be able to answer this since you’re doing Botox for beauty, but would you happen to have any experience with Botox for non-migraine headaches? I know it’s only medically evaluated for frequent migraines, but I get these horrible tension headaches that seem to be connected to eyestrain-related squinting. I’ve been wondering if Botox in the right spots may prevent them.

      1. ..Kat..*

        I have read that forehead (or maybe upper face?) botox can cut down on tension headaches. Might be worth a try. I recommend going for 2 to 3 months and marking on a calendar if you have a tension headache and how severe for each day. Then try botox, and continue to track. And see what you get.

        Definitely research the clinic that you are thinking of using. I see a lot of clinics that pop up and disappear pretty quickly. Also, look at the training and qualifications of the people doing the injections.

        1. ..Kat..*

          as for the squinting, I don’t think you can safely use botox that close to the eyes. Are you squinting because you need glasses to see better? Sunglasses for bright outside light? Habit? Need better lighting to see what you are looking at?

    10. Lilysparrow*

      I’m not trying to be negative, you do you & I’m glad you’re happy.

      But I notice that in some of you’re replies, you’re getting really specific with the medical aspect of what this or that procedure will do for someone, or making predictions about how their bodies will/won’t react in the future.

      I don’t know any actual doctors who would be comfortable making assertions like that about people they’ve never seen, much less taken a medical history on. And from what I understand, you’re a patient, not a doctor, right?

      I think that may be related to why it’s sounding like an ad vs just a personal experience.

      Just offering some insight, and maybe some caution about giving people unrealistic expectations that their own doctor might not support.

      1. Ask me anything - botox, fillers, etc!*

        Makes sense, I’ll keep that in mind for future comments! Thanks!

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Hmm…the Sculptra sounds cool. I might have to remember that if I’m ever rich and famous, LOL.

    12. Roz Doyle*

      A bit late to the party, but hoping you’ll still see my question. How old are you and how old were you when you started these? In my mid-30s and still have good youthful looks (family genetics, thankfully), but always been interested in fillers and keep them in mind for the future to keep myself looking nice and fresh. I really like your post and found it very informative. Also – have you every tried electrolysis or have tips how to find someone good? I have several annoying chin hairs that I would LOVE to eliminate instead of plucking (I HATE chin hairs SO MUCH), but don’t know how to find someone good. Laser hair removal is not an option, I have fair hair and and the chin hairs are only quasi dark.

      1. Ask me anything - botox, fillers, etc!*

        Hey there! I was 27 when I started, and I’m 32 now. I suppose you could say I was young when I started, but being a redhead out in the sun – time was not as kind to me as I had hoped!

        For eletctrosis – I would recommend you yelp a few places that offer it in your area and read the reviews. A lot of them post about specific people who do the procedure so you can get a good idea of how to find someone great.

        Glad you found the post helpful :)

        1. Roz Doyle*

          Thanks so much! appreciate that you were able to respond today. Will definitely save your post about fillers and will “yelp” around for good electrolysis reviews in my area.

  28. Cheese and wine*

    Is it common for long term couples to go through BEC stages with each other? DH and I have been together for 25 years and we’ll chug along fine for months and months. Then about once a year we’ll have a HUGE fight and it’s that HE never separates the laundry right so my bra is pink instead of white and *I* never check the mailbox when I get home. Obviously, the conclusion is he’s careless with my things and I’m lazy and this is How newspaper articles about spouses that kill each other over the arrangement of flatware in the drawer makes sense.

    The above examples are made up but I believe capture the essence- we start to find petty things SUPER annoying. We had one such blow up last week and it spiraled in an ugly way. (Ugly conversation, nothing physical.). It was bad enough that I left the house for the night. In the daylight, we’d both calmed down, tge bra and the mail no longer seemed insurmountable.

    But reality check- is this common? Total dysfunctional parents here, so I can’t gage.

    1. Parenthetically*

      My parents have been married almost 45 years and have a great marriage, and yup, the annual “you are DRIVING ME BANANAS WHY can you NEVER VACUUM RIGHT” meltdown is 100% a thing.

      1. Parenthetically*

        (But just a note to say that if it bothers you, it’s worth working on! I tend to think of relationship counseling/intentional relationship work a bit like the mechanic or the doctor — sure, you go to the mechanic when something goes wrong, or to the doctor if you’re sick, but you also get your oil changed regularly, and do your annual checkup. Meaning your relationship doesn’t have to be “bad” to merit a check-in.)

    2. Batgirl*

      It’s normal for irritations to happen and complaints about those are a necessary and useful thing to do. It doesn’t mean you’re bad and lazy people; it just means partnership is a game of close quarters like the two legged race. I think if any adjustment is needed it’s probably complaining to each other a bit more frequently, and hopefully that should tamp down any drama. Rather than letting it build up into something more than it is, you could both agree going forward to ask for something you need quickly and cheerfully, like laundry separation, and have it received with ‘Ok, no problem’. You should also probably agree in advance that something can be kept on the front burner until the necessary habit or solution is formed without it being considered nagging. But sometimes you don’t know something is building up until it’s built. Small things are sneaky. The best advice I ever heard was that the things that are most important to you are your biggest problems. Most people’s biggest problems in life are their partners and jobs, even when they love both. As long as you can make adjustments in a way that works though, it’s an enjoyable work in progress.

    3. Roja*

      I think it’s common to get annoyed with each other, certainly, but if you’re blowing up at each other at that level over minor stuff there’s some preventative work that can be done to keep that from happening. If something bothers you that much, definitely bring up before it’s BEC stage!

      I don’t have time to write more now and maybe you’re doing that already, but having regular arguments so bad that you sleep elsewhere–especially over minor stuff, and not something that’s truly a big deal–isn’t that normal, IMO. I don’t know how your communication skills are normally, but upping those and making sure the ratio of happy time to frustrated time is higher (I think it’s like 5 to 1 for a marriage to feel happy, but I forget) by prioritizing connection will help.

    4. Acornia*

      I don’t know that it’s super common, but that happens to us, too. Often it’s just one of us going through a rough time and having little patience with petty stuff, but sometimes it just aligns so we’re both feeling that at the same time and that can spark fireworks of the not so fun kind.
      But that eventually passes, with forgiveness and patience, and soon the best kind of fireworks comes back.

    5. YetAnotherUsername*

      I think it’s really common. We definitely have fights over ridiculous things. And I know a lot of other people who do too.

      Mark Manson has quite a good article about long term relationships. He’s a blogger and when he got married he asked for advice from people whod been together a long time and a lot of the advice was really similar. It included people saying yes you will go through phases where you are really angry with each other.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      This is common. My in-laws argued over what street that one Taco Bell was on. 99% of the time they were fine and peaceful with each other, but don’t get them started on where that one Taco Bell is!
      It’s a thing.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        That’s funny. my DH and I had a huge row about which of our neighbours had their house done up!

        I think you just get sick of each other and need to clear the air sometimes.

    7. dinoweeds*

      Oh dear lord – my SO and I have been together 10 years and one of our biggest fights to date was over the spice cabinet! Sometimes things just go sideways, and you have to take some deep breaths and hug afterwards.

    8. Oldster*

      36 years and still going. Perfectly normal. This is the person that knows you best but you are still different people. Years of compromise and accommodation doesn’t change the fact that we fill the dishwasher differently. (And if course he does it wrong)

      1. Figgie*

        Married 44 years and have found that marriages ebb and flow. There are times when we are remarkably close and other times when we feel more distant. We’ve learned to just wait out the times we feel more distant, as they always change back to closeness at some point.

        And as we’ve gotten older, we both find that we just plain don’t have the energy to ramp up to a really angry fight. Just takes too much out of us at this point in our lives.

        What helps when we reach the point of being upset about trivial stuff, is that we’ve learned to laugh instead of fight. Almost everything we’ve fought about over the years is truly stupid stuff and it helps to recognize that and laugh about it.

        If it helps, our current ongoing argument is over who gets to die first (ridiculous, as we won’t really have any real control over that). I say I get to go first and have the shitty family genetics to prove it. He says he gets to go first because otherwise he will live in a house with everything falling down around him.

        I don’t think we will ever actually resolve this particular fight. :)

    9. Lilysparrow*

      Yes, from time to time the stresses of life outside + the ordinary wear & tear of living with a fellow flawed human being build up and turn into a stupid argument over nothing.

      As long as it’s only on rare occasions, and doesn’t involve physical fighting or personal verbal abuse, it’s nothing to worry about.

      If we’re just in a period of general low-level irritation/bickering with each other, particularly if we’re bickering over simple misunderstandings where we actually agree but just misheard or misinterpreted what the other one said?

      That’s usually a sign that we’re overdue for sex.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Very common. I know people who are married 50 years and barely speak to each other. I have a friend who says her marriage has lasted 30 plus years because he is a night owl and she is a day person. They don’t see much of each other.
      For me, just when I thought we would strangle each other, things changed. We somehow managed to learn to laugh at our own stupid selves.

      Spouses get to know each other like a book. With that very close, personal knowledge also comes a lot of irritation. It’s easier to be kinder to the stranger who pushes their grocery cart into ours than to be nice to our spouse who has broken yet another piece in our favorite set of dishes. Repetition is wearing. Okay, it’s exhausting.

      Take breaks from each other. Hang out with friends, go visit family. Each of you can allot time to disappear into your own hobby or interest. Privately, make lists of things you are grateful for about each other, just as every relationship has its limitations, it also has its advantages. Keep the advantages at the front of your thinking.

      Compliment each other. Thank each other. Not all the time, just randomly. Say you are sorry when you actually mean it. Accept each other’s apologies.

      Rediscover each other by trying something new together. When we got our first pup, he saw sides of me he never saw and likewise for me. Something new, exposes new or unused aspects of our personalities. He was very cute with the pup and it pinged my heart strings.

      For your examples here, my thought would be that you take over separating the laundry entirely and in exchange he gets the mail all the time. If you frame it as we can compromise or we can choke each other, compromising starts to look okay. If the real issue is one of you is not carrying the workload at home then that needs to be figured out. For myself, compromising never stopped, we compromised on a great many things.

      Life is trade-offs. In order to have other beings in our lives we probably have to forego something else.

      One cool thing we did was acknowledge where other person was stronger. He let me pick out the color for the siding on the house. “You are better at color than I am. Pick what you want. I know it will look good.” When we rewired the garage, he was totally in charge of that project, whatever he decided was what we went with. He was the techie, not me. I think acknowledging each others strengths was very helpful especially when crisis happened. We could quickly say, “This one is yours” and know the other one was not being mean, they were just acknowledging who had the better strength/background. Broken car was his, MIL with female problem was mine. This was super helpful for us as a team. And it felt good to hear the hidden compliment.

      I think it was around the 25 year mark we just started laughing at our own foibles. “Yeah, I left the window open again and the rain gushed in AGAIN. Because, I did not learn from the last 27 times this happened…”
      Water wipes up and life goes on.

      My thought is change something you are doing and see how he responds.

    11. NoLongerYoung*

      Only you know if this one is true. But what sometimes happened with me is… I focused on something we could have a fight about, so I could vent. Because I needed to vent. The real problem was underneath, or something else. Let’s say it is not really the red-in-the-white-laundry. Let’s say it is “problem B.” But you don’t know how to bring up Problem B, or maybe you’ve tried to bring it up and been shot down… and the irritation comes out in a smaller or different avenue.
      Especially (if like me) you’ve come from a dysfunctional family, you may not know how to actually have a disagreement or tackle issues head on when they arise.
      You might want to think about the tune-up with the therapist. It might have helped my marriage – we had a lot of “those” kinds of fights in our 25 years.

    12. Melody Pond*

      Mr. Pond shared something with me just yesterday that he’d seen (probably browsing on imgur) – something to the effect of, “Marriage is about 50% ‘I’d die for you’ and 50% ‘Dear god, do you HAVE to sneeze like that?!’ ”

      I had to agree. We don’t get into BIG fights about little irritations 50% of the time, but we definitely nitpick and snap at each other on a low level, probably about 50% of the time. It seems like we get into a big fight about something petty maybe once every six months or so?

      I think what you’re describing is normal. The “roommate” aspect of living with a spouse seems to be the hardest, or at least one of the hardest challenges of being in a long term relationship.

    13. LilySparrow*

      I just remembered an animated short my husband showed me years ago, called “The Big Snit.”

      It takes the idea of these “Gawdelpme, why do you ALWAYS do that?!?!” type fights, and takes it to an absurd level.

      It’s actually really a helpful shorthand, because when we realize that we’re just being pissy with each other about nothing, or that we are doing the same infuriating thing for the umpteenth time, we start saying lines from the film at each other, and that makes us laugh instead.

    14. The Rat-Catcher*

      To each their own here, but when DH and I have those fights, they aren’t really about checking the mail and separating the laundry. There’s some other issue at play which may or may not be even between us. Usually it’s not and the answer is “give DH/DH gives me plenty of space to be irrationally angry about the mail, the apology will come tomorrow.” And it does.

  29. CoffeeforLife*

    So so annoyed. I was checking my cc bill yesterday and noticed all these charges for Amazon. It seems someone ordered $200 worth of real estate exam books and had them delivered to a vrbo address (in my Amazon history) I stayed in 6 years ago. They also ordered over $300 worth of kids movies to download. WFT. I don’t know how it was done as I have 2 factor authentication, I’ve changed passwords recently, I dont share items. I can only think that I had an old Firestick that had my account info and they used that?? The VRBO could just be a pickup point for the delivery – used to live in that city so it’s very likely it’s someone I know frauding me.

    I did get all the charges reversed after explaining 3 times why I couldn’t actually return the books.ugh. I deleted all of my linked devices and changed my passwords. Just grr.

    1. How much $?*

      Happens to me every 3 years or so and I assume my data has escaped into the Dark Web via a data breach from “pick your choice” business.
      I assume you are getting a new cc issued?

    2. ..Kat..*

      I have my credit cards set up to send me a text anytime there is a charge. Most credit cards will let you do this. This gives me great peace of mind.

      Sorry you had to deal with that. Glad you could get the charges reversed.

  30. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Unexpected side benefit of my attempts to leatn hackysack: I just dropped a bowl and instinctively got my foot under it before it shattered on the tile.

    1. Beatrice*

      I dropped an oversize coffee mug last weekend and it landed on my toe, and my toe is still some lovely shades of purple and green from it. I didn’t break the mug, though! Or the toe, it’s just bruised.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Ouch! I probably would have been equally bruised if I weren’t wearing shoes. I long ago started wearing shoes when doing dishes because I had something slip and shatter on the counter and land on/in my bare feet. Darned lucky there was another adult home to clean up the shards before I had to walk on them.

      2. Arjay*

        I broke a toe that way. The thanksgiving turkey platter slid out of its box when I was moving it and I caught it with my foot. Oops. The ortho said it was the first time he’d seen a Thanksgiving related injury in March!

  31. Stitch*

    Minor breastfeeding rant. I can’t seem to find the calorie intake where I can both pump enough milk at work to keep up with my baby but not gain weight. If I cut back calories, my milk supply goes down. If I eat more, I pump enough but then again weight. Argh.

    1. Sopranistin*

      This sounds super frustrating! Sorry you’re dealing with it. But know what a wonderful thing you’re doing for your little one. How old is your baby?
      I’m breastfeeding my almost 12-month old but haven’t experienced this. Although, I only pump a few times a week bc I work part time, so I can’t track my exact output. I wonder if there’s a way to adjust your pumping schedule to up your supply?
      Just as a side note, there’s a Kellymom breastfeeding and pumping facebook group I’ve found immensely helpful for asking questions and troubleshooting. You may be able to get some good feedback there, if you’re looking for ideas.

      1. Stitch*

        My son is about 7 months old. I am able to nurse him during lunch so I try to stay on his schedule.

    2. HBJ*

      Up your water intake maybe? This affects my supply the most. If I drop much below half my body weight in ounces per day, my supply will dip about 24 hours later. Once I get back up above that, my supply increases again after about a day.

      1. Mephyle*

        I was thinking this, too. It’s not only calorie intake, but fluid intake that ensures enough milk. Water, other low or no-calorie drinks are one way to go, but there’s also choosing more wetter foods, such as soups.

    3. HBJ*

      Oh, and also I know women who simply can’t lose the last few pounds until they’re completely done producing milk. :/

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Yup. This was me. Nursing did NOT make the baby weight easier to lose. I lost it when I stopped.

        Also, as long as I was nursing my joints wouldn’t tighten back up. I had that pregnancy loose-ligament thing the whole time.

        Hormones, man. They do not read the manual about how they’re supposed to behave.

        1. Carriem*

          That’s why I weaned my last baby when I did. My knee joints would NOT stay in place. Ironically, I’d been reluctant, as she was small for her age. On formula she actually did better than she’d been doing on BM. So basically, lots of reasons for me to stop in hindsight.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      +1 for KellyMom, and for “you may need to chill until baby is weaned”.

      That said, there are foods which increase and suppress milk supply. If you are decreasing your calorie intake then making sure you get calories in the right kinds of foods could be helpful. Lots of resources online, but whole oats, dark chocolate, fenugreek, apricots, etc.

    5. Carriem*

      I just wanted to pop in to say, I’ve BF my 6 kids. For me, stopping BF is what made me lose weight. Especially after the 6 month mark, my body seemed to assume that I would be feeding this kiddo for the rest of their natural life, so I better start putting some calories away to prepare. My OB said that is totally normal for some people.
      I just wanted to let you know, if you’re not able to control it with calories, it may just be how your body is. Things will be a lot easier to manage when you wean (whenever you are ready for that)

    6. Happy Lurker*

      I lost the first baby’s pregnancy weight when he learned to walk and then quickly learned to run. That was at about month 11-12.
      The midwife calmly explained to me that it took 9 months to put the weight on and I should be patient to get the weight off. That statement helped me immensely.
      Also, I would feed on one side and pump the other to ramp up supply and always have some extra milk in the freezer. Sleep was my biggest issue with milk production. The second biggest was red wine. I had to drastically increase my sleep and limit my wine to 1 glass a night and 2 a week tops. I nursed each child for 2 years and still miss that quiet time with each. Enjoy it! It goes so fast. I dropped that baby off for sophomore year at college today.

  32. Shary*

    Still moving.
    Thursday and Friday I went to safety training for my major. It was exhausting, but also very good to see everyone again.
    I have a dish pattern that I LOVE. I was able to get a set of over 50 dishes off Facebook market place and I’m so happy. They need to be washed badly though. This more than doubles the number of dishes I have. And it was between 1-2 dollars a dish.
    My family dog has been brought to live with me since I have a yard. She is in really bad shape. :( She doesn’t sleep through the night and she wines very often.
    I’m going to set up an appointment to take her to the vet when my parents come to visit, just to get an idea of how she is doing and how much pain she is in.
    Thanks for listening, and, thanks so much for the encouragement and commiseration. It’s just words on a screen, but it does help so, so much.

      1. Shay*

        She was curled up on my dirty laundry pile, seemingly untroubled. I hope she’s fine.
        It could have also been the washer or dryer that made that noise.

    1. Goose Lavel*

      Misha needs to see a vet. Her symptoms are serious and it sounds to me like she is in a great deal of pain.

      1. Shay*

        She’d scheduled for Friday. My mom feels so bad she didn’t notice Misha was on the decline. Being uprooted might also be contributing to her poor health.
        I’m honestly expecting Friday might be the day I have to say good bye. If not, we’ll still have to wait on blood tests.
        I’ve already talked with mom about how we would want to handle her send off. We’ll get some locks of her fur and I’ll turn them into art. I’m not sure on the details yet, I’ll need to do more research. Or maybe I’ll just send it along to an Etsy artist since there is just so much going on in my life right now.
        She’s had a good 16, almost 17 years. If we send her off that Friday I think we’ll have had her for 16 years exactly.
        Poor old girl.

        1. anon for this*

          She sounds as if she needs a vet visit immediately. I agree with Goose Lavel that your dog sounds like she is in a great deal of pain, and a week is a long time to continue to be in that pain.

          1. Shay*

            There is a lot of difficulty for me, personally, to take her there, but I can manage it. I’m going to call her vet and see what she thinks. Hopefully she can make it until Friday on tramadol or a more intensive medication regimen. I’d really like to be able to wait until my parents visit me, so we can send her off as a family. But if she needs to leave us now, she needs to leave us now.

            1. ..Kat..*

              Good luck.

              If she is having trouble sleeping with pain, would a better doggie bed help? Like a good mattress can help a person with back pain? Perhaps a doggie bed with a warming insert?

              1. Shay*

                Yeah, that seems to have helped.
                (Moving sucks)
                I dug around the boxes until I found a dog bed, the one designed for old dogs with arthritis and the box also had the doggie heating pad insert. So I set that up for her and she barely left it. No more whining / barking.
                It made me sad that when I sat down to pet / cuddle her she’d startle at being touched. But right away she would adjust and burrow into the bed and show me her tummy and sigh.
                I also feel like I over stated the whining issue. She did wake me up in the middle of the night two nights ago, barking and whining. And it’s incredibly hard on me from a health perspective to be woken up like that. So I was very grumpy and disoriented writing that part.
                She slept most of the day yesterday. I called her old vet (the one my parents took her to see) and he told me she does have a prescription for Tramadol so I found that and gave that to her before going to sleep tonight. She didn’t wake me up once and was much calmer in the evening.

                1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

                  Makes me wonder if her vision is going. Our old dog used to startle when you touched her because she couldn’t see it coming. Might also explain why she’s complaining, if she can’t see her new house.

    2. Shay*

      I’ve done a ton of laundry, including folding the clothes (the hardest part!). I cut out shelf lining for another cabinet. I washed the dishes and arranged them in the shelf.
      I’ve been relaxing in between tasks, mostly petting Misha and monitoring her.
      I hope I’m not burnt out from working already. I’d *really* like finish at least half of the kitchen today.
      I hate that I’m starting classes with a house in chaos.

  33. WellRed*

    Two-part q. My mom wants to go to NOLA ( bucket list thing. Dad died in 2016). She’s 73 and in good health but getting a bit less mobile. I’m pretty broke (maxed out credit cards, student loans, etc). How bad is it to take say, $2k out of my meager 401k to pay my airfare, share of hotel? I mean, I understand there are penalties but I think it would be worse to feel sad and guilty if we don’t ever go and she dies. I’ve put her off for 2 years. Second q: if we go, when is the best time to book flights to go xmas week?

    1. WellRed*

      Adding, I am 49 so not a lot of time to catch up for retirement. Not that I’ll ever be able to.

      1. valentine*

        Is that the only or the cheapest way to do it? Could your parents treat you or give you a loan? Can you use a credit card, then do a balance transfer?

        1. WellRed*

          I think mom and my aunt would cover me for some of this. I can’t do a credit card. I have 3, all maxed.

      2. ..Kat..*

        I don’t recommend taking money out of a 401K, especially for a vacation.

        How much do you need for the trip, and how much can you save per week, and how long will it take you to get there? If that just won’t work, I think you would be better off decreasing your 401K contributions for a while until you have the money. But, I hate to recommend this – so many of us are woefully undersaving for retirement. Which means we will have a really miserable retirement.

        Are you sure you want to go Christmas week? Christmas week in popular places like NOLA are crazy. ANd more expensive. If you go in the off season, prices will be cheaper.

        I hope you can go with your mom and have fun. And win $2000 in the lottery. Or by filling out customer satisfaction surveys that are on sales receipts.

    2. C Average*

      I may live to regret it (I’m 45 now), but I took money out of my IRA in order to spend three months with my sister during her cancer treatments, and I am glad I did. I used the money to support myself and not be a drain on her resources and to take us on a trip to Iceland. She’s okay now, mostly, but her body will never be the same again and travel is hard for her. I’m grateful I was able to spend that time with her. She may not be around when I retire, though I hope she is.

      Explore other options first, of course. But if that’s the only resource you’ve got, I don’t think it’s horrible to use some of it to make a memory with someone you love.

      1. fposte*

        If it was a Roth IRA, that’s not too bad–you can take your contributions back out without taxation or penalty. A 401k will mean both taxes and a penalty on top of it.

    3. The Francher Kid*

      NOLA isn’t busy in December and prices are generally lower. I usually go the week before Xmas. I don’t think it’s too early to start looking into flights and hotels. I would not rent a car, parking is difficult and costly and driving in New Orleans is a nightmare.

      New Orleans, especially the French Quarter, requires a lot of walking. A Lot. If your mom is less mobile, you might want to consider both staying in the French Quarter in order to have a room close by for resting (rather than staying in the Garden District or other area that would require a taxi or streetcar ride to get to) and possibly renting a scooter or wheelchair to help her get around.

      Since a link will send this into moderation (I think), I would suggest you google gonola.com and experienceneworleans.com for a list of events in December. I would check with anything you’re specifically interested in seeing to make sure it won’t close during Xmas week.

      1. WellRed*

        Definitely no car. Mom has a bad knee but is very energetic. She seems to think the streetcar will suffice. I’m not so sure. We want to stay at the Hilton by the river, but not married to it.

        1. Monte*

          I stayed there a few months ago and would not recommend it — just kind of dumpy. But also, it is massive, and the walk just to get in and out of the building is not insignificant. God forbid you leave something in your room, it could take you a solid 10 minutes to retrieve it (and I am healthy and fully mobile). I would suggest that if you do go, you research some other options.

        2. The Francher Kid*

          I love riding the streetcars, but they are not built for comfort. The steps are steep and the cars jerk a lot, much worse if you have to stand (locals use them so they can get crowded at certain times). You also need exact change for the fare, the conductors cannot make change and they don’t take debit or credit cards. They tend to take you fairly close to places but not right up to them, if that makes sense. You’ll still have to get off and walk a good deal. There are online maps of New Orleans that will show you where everything is and where the streetcar lines are so you can get an idea of what you’d be in for. I’d really think about staying in the Quarter so you don’t have to walk 5 or more blocks just to get there (the distance from the Hilton Riverside to Canal St is 4-7 blocks–the streetcar will take you to Canal but you’ve still got several blocks to walk to actually get into the Quarter). I like the Hotel Villa Convento, if you can get a first floor room. It’s old and very no frills (don’t trust the elevator!) but it’s clean, inexpensive, and right in the Quarter. You might also check the Hotel St. Marie and the Prince Conti (they are part of the same hotel group). My husband has a bad knee from his military service and having a room nearby to rest has made all the difference on our trips. I’m not trying to scare you off, I love NOLA and we go every year, just want to make sure you’re aware so you can plan.

    4. BRR*

      I hate to say this but don’t think you should do it. If the only way you can do this is with taking money from your 401k and your credits cards are maxed out, it might just have to be a bucket list item that doesn’t get checked off.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yeah, the maxed out credit cards are a worrisome sign to me.
        Save up the money, then go. Or drive there or have another person go along to split costs, etc. Some more brainstorming is needed. I hope you leave your 401k as is.

      2. Ginger ale for all*

        I agree. Is there a part time job you can get? Perhaps you can donate plasma for extra money for this. The trip sounds good, but you take a 40% hit if you take money out of your retirement accounts from what I have heard.

    5. Anon from the Bronx*

      Several things to consider. Does your plan even allow withdrawals while you are still working? Some don’t. Some require you take a loan first, which could be an option for you.

      Any withdrawal is taxable as income to you. There will be 20% federal withholding required so to net $2000, you will need to actually withdraw $2500. At tax time, you are also subject to an additional 10% penalty on the gross amount. And state tax if that applies to you.

      So, an expensive trip for you. But you might still want to do it. NOLA is awesome & fun in December. I went last year with friends for 4 days. I am almost your mother’s age & we had a great time. And we really didn’t spend a crazy amount. Food & drink were very reasonably priced. Truthfully, if you can possibly manage that cost, I say go for it. You will never get back that time with your mother.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        I borrowed against my 401K (did not do a withdrawal), under a hardship. Then lost the job, couldn’t pay it back. Then found out that with the regular penalty plus federal and state tax… I owed 55% of the original amount. I am all for the “pick a future date and do a side hustle.” You can also divert all money from bonuses, cash gifts for Christmas/ birthday, etc.
        73 and in good health is not super urgent. And the anticipation can be part of the fun of the trip. She can work on her mobility (exercising, thinking about balance, how many steps she will need to take) and it may give her motivation. (one of the guys that age that used to Scuba dive with us, went to the gym daily in order to keep up the physical stamina to scuba – it was the one thing he loved).
        Stream movies set in NOLA; have her check out books and make a list of must see things. Decide what you can give up to save for it. This gives you an opportunity to pay down the CC enough to be able to put the hotel deposit and or rental car deposit on it. (you might have to have a cc, even if you are going to check out with a debit card – chains/hotels vary).
        I have a set of friends at least 5 years past that age, and they are all still moving, exercising, and traveling. This Christmas, why not give each other the gift of planning the fun, and saving towards it, and preparing?
        (Says she who is saving like mad for retirement because, well… things went awry).

      2. MysteryFan*

        Yes, if there is a possibility of getting a Loan from the 401K, that would be the way to go. Non-taxable, no early withdrawal penalty.. way better.

    6. Anona*

      Can you do something like take a temporary side hustle to save money for this, with the goal of going December 2020? Something like driving for Lyft, or taking a holiday job at Target, or working at a restaurant on weekends? Think of how victorious it will feel to pay for it with no debt, no withdrawal! To be like- it was hard, but I made this happen.

      1. Lilith*

        Can you stop putting money into your 401k for awhile & use that same dedicated amount as your savings to get to $2000?

      1. Auntie Social*

        Oh, and you’re going to need room on your credit cards if you’re going to rent a car. You may find Ubering cheaper–hotels charge quite a bit to park your car overnight. So it could be that your mom has to rent the car if she still has a license, and add you as a second driver.

  34. C Average*

    I’m in Florence with my partner. We’re taking the train to Orvieto tomorrow and we’ll spend a week there attending a seminar before heading back to Rome and flying home. It’s beautiful here. Our Airbnb overlooks the Santa Croce piazza.

    I’m finishing my novel–about 30 pages to go–and will workshop it at a writing workshop in November. My draft is due September 15–yikes! I’m hoping to get a lot of revision plus the remaining writing done while my partner is doing the seminar.

    Life is extremely not fair in my favor right now.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      You’re in Florence. That makes up for so very much! I was there once and so very much want to go back when I’m not on a tour.

  35. PX*

    Anyone following the Ashes? England getting bowled out for 67 when they had SUCH a good chance to win the game is possibly one of the most hilarious things to happen this year.

      1. PX*

        Yup. They’re putting up a fight in their second innings though which is a bit annoying for me. Would have loved to see Australia finish them off with a day and 2 matches to spare :’D

    1. Quandong*

      Yes, it’s such a dreadful score, ha! It would be bad for Twenty20!! But a test innings…

    2. London Calling*

      England fans are pretty used to collapses over the years. Mind you, I feel for my brother, England fan living in Australia.

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We are – the England collapse was pretty spectacular amongst all collapses they have ever had.

  36. Charlotte*

    I don’t understand the notion that not wanting to have children is selfish somehow, especially given that one of the biggest arguments people give for having them is to have someone to look after them in their old age.

    Humans aren’t at any risk of extinction any time soon – and really, having more kids and increasing population is probably more likely to bring about extinction than not having them – so why is this topic still such a sticking point?

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I’d say because it’s been the accepted convention for so long that it’s difficult for people to break free of it. We’re expected to grow up, get a job, have kids, and then see the cycle repeat. Some people get weird when the status quo is threatened and so they do the whole thing of “oh, but you’ll change your mind”. Honestly though, that argument of wanting kids so that you have someone to look after you in your old age is one that really bothers me. Lots of people don’t have good relationships with their parents for a number of reasons and it’s not guaranteed that the child will be there in the old age.

      1. valentine*

        I find it’s people who are terrified you’re getting away with something, the ones who think becoming a parent, especially of biological children, especially for a woman, cures alleged selfishness by forcing you to put someone else first. They’re just projecting and they want you to suffer as they did, which makes parenting sound like a nightmare, so they’re defeating their own purpose there.

        1. Stitch*

          It doesn’t really sound like those parents enjoyed having kids.

          I had my son because I wanted to. Not out of any sense of duty.

          I do think it’s selfish to have kids and then expect others to bear the burden. My sister in law had a planned baby with the full plan that my retired father in law would provide daycare for the baby. My father in law never was consulted in this plan. He does it because she can’t afford childcare otherwise, but it does seem very selfish to me to have a kid with the plan that someone else bears a large burden for you.

          1. Parenthetically*

            A girlfriend and I JUST had this conversation — she’s a pretty young mom and 90% of the “advice” she got when she announced her pregnancy involved the phrase “just you wait until…” Drove her batty — she was just mystified, like, does anyone actually LIKE their kids? Or enjoy being a parent? And it made her feel stupid for enjoying motherhood.

          2. Clisby*

            Yeah, I didn’t have my children out of altruism. I really wanted them, and have loved having them. I’m not going to claim that was “unselfish” – I did it because it was something I wanted. If I hadn’t wanted them, remaining childfree would have been what I wanted, and I’d have done that.

    2. Angwyshaunce*

      I’m with you. My mother tried pulling that “selfish” crap on me when I told her my spouse and I did not want children.

      We’re supposed to make life-altering decisions that we have no interest in just to make you happy? Really, who’s the one being selfish.

    3. Stitch*

      As someone with a kid, God, no. Choosing to not have children is a mature and reasonable choice. Not selfish at all.

      Part of me thinks this sentiment comes from people who really didn’t want kids but felt obligated. It’s an awful thing to say.

    4. C Average*

      I don’t see why it’s objectionable to be selfish by not having kids! If someone accused me of having selfish motives for remaining child-free, I’d be like, “Yeah, and that’s a problem why? Yes, I do want to enjoy vacations and quiet time and hobbies and all the other stuff that’s exponentially harder for parents to enjoy. It’s 2019, not 1800, so I get to make that choice. Let’s all celebrate the fact that childbearing is a choice, not every woman’s destiny.”

      (And I used to have full-time stepkids before my divorce, so I probably have more insights into the choice I’m making than some people. Selfish or not, it’s 100% the right approach for me.)

      1. Overeducated*

        I don’t think it’s objectionable at all, but I also think intentionally having kids can be just as selfish. I think a lot about climate change, refugees, and the world my kids will inherit. It would be more selfless not to give birth to more Americans who will have an outsized environmental impact and potentially suffer from the choices of my and my parents’ and grandparents’ generations. I chose to have two anyway and the reasons are truly selfish.

    5. Parenthetically*

      A lot of it just a pretty vanilla logical fallacy* that has the “bonus” of being based on people’s subjective, but projected, experiences. “I became so much less selfish when I became a parent. So people who choose not to become parents must not be on that same path and are just as selfish as I was before I had kids.” You’ve pinged that, of course, not all parents actually DO become less selfish! Many do, IMO — it’s pretty tough not to when you’re responsible for the literal survival of extremely demanding and needy small humans. But what so many people (regardless of life stage, relationship status, having or not-having kids, whatever) don’t seem to really understand, or at least act like they don’t understand, is that everyone’s life has the ability to make them better or worse, and that our choices within that life path are what cultivate selfishness or unselfishness, improvement or stagnation, maturity or arrested development. Parenting doesn’t inherently have the ability to make us less selfish, but it definitely can provide plenty of good opportunities. Other ways of living might have different opportunities, but that doesn’t mean non-parents can’t or don’t cultivate unselfishness. It’s helpful for me to realize a couple things: that everyone’s life circumstances are able to help people become better versions of themselves, AND that everyone has a tendency to think that other people’s life circumstances are… not prioritizing well, or bringing out the wrong traits, or focusing on the wrong things, when it comes to other people’s personal growth.

      *Denying the Antecedent, if you care. It goes like:

      If you have are a teacher, you work at a school
      You are not a teacher
      Therefore, you do not work at a school.

      Obviously this isn’t how logic works, but people use “reasoning” like this all the time without thinking about it.

    6. The Messy Headed Momma*

      When people ask my husband if we have kids his reply is, “Nope. We have freedom & silence.”

    7. Victoria, Please*

      Some of it’s rooted in religious belief, of course. The church I used to attend justified excluding women from the priesthood because women had the sacred creative duty of and direct connection to God via childbearing, which was denied to men. The priesthood was a consolation prize for men, my dears!

      I kind of stopped listening at that point, but after that, God’s will, blah blah, spiritual development, blah blah, closeness to God, blah blah… If you as a woman didn’t want children because you were afraid, didn’t like children, or wanted your own identity that did not involve motherhood, that was a sinful attitude to repent. The alternative to motherhood was celibate — oh lord, what is the word, it escapes me. In short, become a nun.

      Nope, not Roman Catholic!

    8. fposte*

      There’s a really good conversation in the Carolyn Hax Friday open chat on this, and here was a commenter’s excellent take:

      Not having children you don’t want, and living the life you desire, or having children you don’t need, but want, and also living the life you desire? Answer: Neither! Doing what makes you happy is not being selfish, it’s being self aware. There’s nothing noble about having children, and there’s nothing noble about not having children. Why do people feel the need to beat each other up over wanting something different out of life?

    9. Goose Lavel*

      I believe most children are not planned and just happen.
      I’m a grandfather of two and neither was planned. My son wasn’t planned and I know that me and my two brothers weren’t planned.
      Life is what happens when you are busy making plans!

    10. Kiki*

      I’ve seen people call it selfish for two reasons:

      1) A parent of a childless person thinks it is selfish that their child won’t think of them and give them a grandchild.

      2) Not having a child means you don’t have to be concerned about a child, therefore you’ll mostly be acting out of self interest, which people think is selfish.

      I think both these reasons are bunk. For #1, It is not selfish to consider your own desires and needs and hold those in higher standing than the desires of your parent, especially when that decision affects your life the most.

      For #2, sure, not having a child could mean some people only want to care about themself, but most childless people have people in their lives they care about. And plenty of selfish people continue to be selfish once they have kids. Having kids does not make you a better or worse person. It just makes you a person with kids.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        My lovely, amazing midwife chose never to partner or have children of her own because of the way she worked. She couldn’t be on-call 24-7 to attend laboring women with no concern for how long she’d be away from home, if she had kids at home.

        It was completely a self-sacrifice to love and serve others, because she absolutely loved children!

    11. !*

      I think it takes a lot more thought to decide NOT to have a child than it does to have one. It takes a conscious effort to prevent pregnancy, and even to the point of making a permanent change (sterilization). Thankfully I am now past the age that anyone would bug me about having a kid, and only a few people said something but only once. This is a decision I have never regretted, I had no interest in being responsible for another human being to that extent. Hell, the only pets I ever had were cats because they were independent and not glued to my hip like a dog would be. I honestly don’t think my parents should have had kids either, they were just no good at being parents.

    12. YetAnotherUsername*

      I think it’s probably because selfish people do not tend to make good parents. So people associate not having kids with being selfish.

    13. Overeducated*

      I don’t even think it’s rational. I thought that when I was about 10, then realized that no one owes anything to humanity or nonexistent children.

    14. Jellyfish*

      I always felt the perception was if you don’t have children, you’re a perpetual teenager. Teenagers are selfish, ergo people without children are selfish.
      I think both assumptions are BS, but seems to be where a lot of people are coming from when they say that.

    15. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      For me, it’s totally selfish. I don’t want to have kids because I don’t want to change my lifestyle to one that is kid friendly. Nobody gets to throw tantrums on my 4-6 yearly Disneyworld trips but me! (Not that I do, but I don’t want to listen to anyone else doing it either.)

    16. Morning reader*

      This “selfish” accusation is one that I have only ever seen online, never in person. It baffles me because I think the exact opposite is true. People (or organisms of any kind) reproduce because they want their genes to persist. It’s not the person or organism itself that is consciously selfish but the genes. You have children because you want your own biological children. How is that not selfish? If you were not selfish, you’d just raise other children who already exist, if the goal were simply to be a parent. A truly selfless person would not be motivated to have biological children.
      If the answer is that having children is supposed to make selfish people less so by giving them others to put above their own interests… I don’t follow. Putting your own children (because they are yours) above others’ interests is still selfish. And if someone is truly, narcissistic level selfish they should probably not have children at all. Reproduction is not a cure for that.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I heard the selfish nonsense in the 60s and 70s. By 1980 or so it seemed to taper off for me. I had hoped it died a natural death but I see that is not the case.

        I did have one person in my life explain to me that I don’t know what love really is because I don’t have a child.
        I bit my tongue. I wanted to point out that if the speaker knew what love really is she never would have been able to say that to me, because of her love for me.
        I should have said something. In the end after many more thoughtless remarks, I gave up with my person entirely.

        1. ..Kat..*

          I have had parents explain the love thing to me (a childless person) a bit differently: They tell me that since I do not have children, I can’t quite fully understand the depth of love that is possible for one’s child. That I can’t quite understand how fiercely I would love and cherish and protect my child. They say that how they thought about this love before they had children just could not compare to how they felt after having children. That having children changes this stuff in a way that childless (or perhaps most childless) people just can’t understand. They are comparing their thoughts and understanding before they had children with their thoughts and understanding after having children.

          I think that the people telling me this are probably right. But, my parents had children because that was what God said you had to do, and they did not seem to enjoy having children at all.

          1. Zombie Unicorn*

            I’m a survivor of child abuse so god help anyone who tries this deep love crap with me.

            1. ..Kat..*

              I am likewise such a survivor. So no, I did not experience this kind of love and protection as a child.

              I am sorry that you had to go through a similar childhood.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            My person tried this deep love stuff with me and I said that sounds more like emotional slavery than love.
            I guess context would be good here. Parent paid very expensive parking ticket for their 30 year old child, because Child had a part time retail job and was “finding themselves”. Then Parent says that Parent themselves has no money for food because of paying the Child’s parking ticket. Meanwhile Parent is on full disability. (Some meds have to be taken on a full stomach.)
            Then we go into I don’t know what love is because I would not pay a parking ticket and forego food. (I made the terrible mistake of saying, “You can’t be without food!”)

            I do see a saner version of this though. A while ago, four family members each lost an adult child. The four family members (the parents) were also gone within two years of the adult child’s passing. (Yes, eight people all total.) The heartbreak is that tremendous that it kills. See the same pattern with surviving spouses, stats show it cuts across any demographic.
            Teenage me got interested in genealogy. And as you go along through the generations, you can see the same patterns I mention here with parent/child or spouses.
            There is no doubt in my mind that there is a powerful bond. I also know that other bonds can be of similar intensity.

          3. The Rat-Catcher*

            I dunno. I have children and I certainly do love them, and yes, it’s different than how I love my spouse or family or friends, but it’s not better or “the only real love” or whatever thing.

    17. Agnodike*

      Honestly, I think it’s because the small subset of people without children who feel that opting out of parenting should entitle them to live a life where they never encounter kids or shoulder part of the shared burden of having kids in a society. Most people I know who’ve decided not to have kids are thoughtful people who’ve made a carefully-considered decision about how they want their lives to look and decided that parenthood wasn’t in the plan. Nothing selfish about that! But there’s that tiny yet vocal minority who complain about paying school taxes, kids being loud in shared public space, etc., and I think they create an unfair stereotype.

    18. Zombie Unicorn*

      I think it may be because if you don’t have kids your life is more likely to revolve around you in terms of how you spend your money and time.

      I think having kids is an inherently selfish act though!

    19. Acornia*

      Other than online, I have only really heard the “selfish” accusation coming from women who want to be a grandma. Which is its own irony, because basically they are complaining that THEY DON’T **GET** TO BE GRANDPARENTS and someone else should do all the work of raising a child so that they can be grandparents and spoil kids they don’t have to raise or support? Who exactly is the selfish one in that scenario? Hmmmmm…….
      No one is entitled to grandparenthood.

    20. Elizabeth West*

      My two cents:

      I think it’s more than one thing, but definitely starts from entrenched sexist ideas about women. We’re more emotional; we’re more nurturing; this means we all should be mothers; if you don’t want to be, you’re unfeminine; and on and on and on.

      Plus, a lot of people have kids and then get really wrapped up in them. They lose perspective. I get that (if you want them) kids are amazing, but nobody thinks as much of your child as you do, even if little Wadsworth is trilingual and the best behaved toddler in town. They don’t understand how you could ever not want one. It’s like ex-smokers getting really militant about smoking. See also the Garfunkel & Oates song “Pregnant Women are Smug,” lol.

      And finally, nobody ever talks about the tough parts of parenting. Being just a boob and not a human, never getting to go to the bathroom alone, how truly awful the sleep deprivation is (someone I knew nearly burned her house down when she went off and left a pot on the stove), tantrums, poo/pee/snot/vomit everywhere, the endless worry, sibling fights, the expense, the destruction (see shitmykidsruined dot com), etc. No, it’s always sunshine and roses, all the time, like a human Facebook post.

      (Disclaimer: If the right person came along this minute and wanted to have a baby with me, and the universe were so inclined as to allow it, I still would totally do it.)

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        I would like to state for the record that I have two kids under 4 who I love dearly and are so wanted, but damn do I understand people who choose not to have children! I 200% understand not wanting kids! Sometimes I think about the life my husband and I could be enjoying if we had decided not to have kids and it would be truly fantastic. Our life with two little kids is full of joy, but it’s just different. Having kids is no joke and I truly believe that people should only have kids if they literally cannot see themselves not having them! If you’re not sure, I would say don’t do it. Pregnancy is really hard and was very hard on my body. Childbirth whether vaginal or c-section is REALLY hard on your body. Breastfeeding is hard on your body. Having kids is hard on a marriage–it’s exhausting. In my case, it was truly worth it, but parenting is f-ing hard! No one should sugarcoat it!

    21. Anon Librarian*

      One reason is the idea that you’re supposed to continue your family lineage and pass along your DNA because that’s why your parents had you, why your grandparents had your parents, etc. But that presumes that you’re really, really unique and special. And you are. But so is everyone. You might be a creative genius and the world’s fastest runner, but there will be more creative geniuses and super fast runners whether you have kids or not.

      Honestly, I think being a bad parent is more selfish. Having kids for the wrong reasons is a common cause of that.

      But people who think people who don’t have kids are selfish usually won’t change their minds about it. So I just smile and nod and avoid them as much as I can.

      1. Clisby*

        I don’t think I’ve ever run across anyone who thought that, but it’s always possible.

        I think it’s more likely that human beings as a species are hard-wired to want offspring, because any successful species needs to have offspring in order to escape extinction. Sure, individual humans can think their way out of this, but as a group, biology matters more than thinking.

    22. Lilysparrow*

      I got told I was selfish for getting married and having kids. My narcissistic older relative believed my job in life was to be her free live-in caretaker.

      Which is especially odd, since I had never, ever lived with her nor been her caretaker. She just decided it was time for that to happen, and resented the fact that I already had a life and was immune to her commands.

      Similarly, I think you have to look at the source of this notion about being childfree being “selfish.”

      Is it something a person in your real life has said to you? Any chance that person is manipulative or narccistic? Or comes from a background where families “own” the children/grandchildren, rather than believing people are individuals first?

      Or is it something you see/hear thrown around in media or online?

      Because you can pick any ridiculous, nonsensical opinion and find somebody who is spouting it somewhere.

      It’s BS. Always was.

    23. Nervous Nellie*

      I was going to weigh in, but fposte said what I would have said, and much more eloquently than I might have. :)

      Writer Tim Krieder did a fascinating Op Ed in the NY Times about this very subject. The title of his piece is ‘The Referendum”. You might enjoy googling it and having a read. He reflects on the very different paths his friends’ lives followed than his has, and suggests that people often quietly question the choices they have made, and find reassurance in judging others’ choices to reaffirm their own. I would add that we also now live in a very judgmental world where everyone has gone from feeling entitled to critique local restaurants & public events, and now to weighing in on friends’ Facebook feeds. I feel that has exacerbated people’s need to tell others how to live. In the end, your choices are no one’s business but yours. We all must do what is right for us.

    24. HannahS*

      I think it arises from people who didn’t really want kids, or who feel that having them required a lot of selfless sacrifice on their part—part of the whole toxic “being a mom means putting yourself last” thing. So then, they see people make the other choice, and not put themselves last, and they accuse the other person of being selfish.

      I want kids, myself, and I was raised by people who really wanted to be parents. My parents don’t feel that they sacrificed much to be parents, because it was something that they wanted. Similarly, even though I’m structuring my career and finances around eventually having children, and in the process giving up things that I want, it doesn’t feel sacrificial. It’s just a sensible trade-off. I hope that, as more and more people who don’t want kids are able to choose not to have them (both culturally and–gulp–legally), that whole phenomenon will die.

  37. Llellayena*

    I’m excited today! Tonight I’m going to the county fair where one of my quilts is on display and might have won something! I won’t know for sure until I’m there, so the anticipation is growing…

    1. Parenthetically*

      Eep! Oh, I loved going to the quilt/needlecraft section at my county fair as a kid. And fingers crossed for you!

    2. Llellayena*

      Second place in my category*!And another woman from my quilt guild got Best in Show! I’m thrilled!

      *The category is either wall hangings or modern quilts, the fair isn’t very clear about how they split the categories for judging.

    3. Mid*

      Congrats!! I love quilts though I have no ability to make anything close to a quilt.

      Let us know how you did!

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      Woo hoo… congratulations for getting into the fair and the completion of what must be a great quilt! That is my very favorite part of the fair (and sometimes the only building I’m paying attention in). LOL. Love, love the creativity and wish you the best …

  38. Kuododi*

    Hopefully 3rd time will be the charm. I’m counting down to the lumpectomy on Tuesday. The closer I get…the more anxious I become. (I’ve been keeping in touch with family, friends and really talking through the nonsense with DH.). Physically, I am still in recovery mode from the lumpectomy so that breathing issue is still a nuisance. I’ve been walking the local malls so that should help keep the medical issues in check. DH has asked me to take it easy and not try to cram in a bunch of errands/tasks before Tuesday. (Concerned I’m going to overdo it and will find myself in a setback.) On a related topic, DH’s mother passed away last week following a lengthy illness.

    I can’t begin to tell y’all how much the good thoughts, prayers and best wishes have meant to us while I’m preparing for the next round of surgery. Blessings to you all!!!

    1. Kuododi*

      Technical issues today. Took multiple tries to get the darn thing to post. Probably nothing more than my trying to post off my phone! ;(

    2. fposte*

      Oh, man, Kuododi, I’m so sorry for the MIL passing and in the middle of all this. Even after a long illness, that’s it’s own thing. It sounds like your DH is being very wise in saying to you “Nonetheless, don’t overdo things.” Your making your own recovery harder isn’t going to help him or anybody.

      Good luck to you on Tuesday!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Very sorry about your MIL in the midst of all this.
      May Tuesday turn out to be lighter than expected.
      I will be thinking of you, especially on Tuesday.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      Thinking of you today and on Tuesday too. Warm, healing thoughts and prayers if you’d like them. (and wonderful that your DH is so wise, even when he is probably feeling quite overwhelmed too… even after a lengthy illness there’s a great pang of parting, I’ve found… so my best to him, too.)

    5. Laurie G.*

      I’ve been following your posts, hoping to hear good news from you. Sending you good wishes and prayers for a full recovery. And I’m very sorry about your MIL.

    6. Quandong*

      I’m sorry for the loss of DH’s mother. Wishing you a successful surgery on Tuesday and a smooth recovery afterward.

  39. Aurora Leigh*

    Any Downton Abbey fans here?

    Who else is excited for the movie?! I’m going with 2 good friends, and we already have our tickets for opening night!

    1. Stitch*

      I’ll be the grouch who admits I loved the first season but not so much after that. They made everyone too nice. It was way more fun when you kind of hated some of them.

      1. fposte*

        I’m with you, though for different reasons–it just went completely nuts in plot driving everything and character wandering all over the map. Still fun to watch Maggie Smith and the costumes, though.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          I agree, it did get quite soap opera-y, but that’s part of why I love it. It’s just so FUN in addition to the gorgeous costumes and setting. It’s a real escape, and the terribly sad parts are quite carathic.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        I was a massive fan of seasons 1 – 3 (I think). Honestly I found widowed Mary’s search for love boring. Also Poor Edith got way too much shit dumped on her. I found beautiful, lucky, ridiculously beloved Mary so boring. I watched all the way through the end, but I am not sure I’m going to ever watch this movie.

    2. Utoh!*

      I am SO freaking excited, but have no one to go to the movie with so will wait until I can rent it and watch at home..enjoy opening night!

    3. MissBookworm*

      Me! I’m going with a good friend and her mom. We haven’t bought tickets yet, trying to decide which theater to go to (we live just over an hour from each other, but there are no good theaters mid-way so someone has to be the one to drive the distance). I think we’re going the first Saturday or Sunday.

    4. Rebecca*

      I loved this show! I can’t wait to see the movie, but I’ll probably wait until it’s on DVD or streaming, as I don’t have anyone to go see it with, and I don’t like going alone.

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      I am SO EXCITED. My friends and I are hoping it shows at a VIP theatre so we can have wine and food along with it!

  40. valentine*

    Is a wheat allergy all or nothing? Can you be allergic to the same wheat in one product, but not another or, if your body starts trying to murder you after you eat product x, is it a matter of time before it’ll do the same with product y?

    1. fposte*

      As far as medicine knows, there isn’t wheat “allergy.” What people have are dietary intolerances, which is another thing. Intolerances are highly variable. The other thing to keep in mind is usually you’re not reacting to “wheat” in toto but something in wheat. While most of the current popular conversation focuses on gluten, there’s more focus in the GI medical world on inulin, an insoluble fiber that’s a kind of sugar (fructose chains). Inulin is in wheat; it’s in some other vegetables; it’s also used on its own in a lot of packaged cereals and cereal-type products (granola bars, for instance). Not saying that’s what’s going on with you, necessarily, just that that might be worth considering (see the low FODMAP guide stuff for more info).

      As with any plant, wheat varies in its makeup from strain to strain and even from year to year, and cooking and processing can change dietary availability of some ingredients, kinds of sugars, etc. So your tolerance may vary and the offending ingredient level may vary. What can also happen, IMHO, is that a psychological association with the offending food can make a reaction more likely even with a smaller amount.

      1. ButterflyHigh*

        That’s largely not true. I have a wheat Allergy. Yes people can be allergic to components in wheat but that doesn’t mean they aren’t allergic to wheat. Gluten and fiber may be in other foods, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t what is causing the allergy. Proteins specific to wheat is still wheat and still can cause allergies.
        It’s NOT a psychological response that causes this.
        Allergies means your body attacks the substance, intolerance means you don’t have enzymes to break down different good substances, sensitivity means you can’t process a lot at the same time.
        As for the op – allergies can come and go, intolerances don’t. People who grow out of intolerances probably had an allergy. Stress, thyroid functions, auto immune diseases can contribute to your allergic reactions. Yes, you can be more allergic to certain wheat products vs others. The more processed the wheat is, the less I react. It also depends on how much fat or fiber there is.
        Look at elimination diet. They are often used by doctor’s to see what is triggering your reactions.

        1. fposte*

          Whether individuals believe they have a wheat allergy or not, medicine doesn’t hold the opinion that there is such a thing. I’m not saying it couldn’t be true; I’m saying that it’s not currently a medical diagnosis. “Allergy” actually means a histamine reaction, not just that your body attacks the substance; celiac disease, for instance, is an autoimmune response to gluten but not an allergy.

          Nor did I say it was *merely* a psychological response–I said you can gain a psychological association with an offending food that can enhance your reactivity. I went with IMHO because I haven’t looked at studies for that but it’s pretty common with my Crohn’s and with a lot of other people I know with GI disorders and intolerances–the worry about being out and about when you consume lactose, for instance, can mean you’ll respond to it worse than you would have if you were at home.

          I agree that an elimination diet such as the low FODMAP diet would be a good plan.

          1. fposte*

            My apologies–Agnodike is correct that I confused wheat allergy with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

            1. ButterflyHigh*

              I get that you want to help, but Histamine response is an autoimmune response. While we have great minds, stress is more as a factor in triggering allergies over just thinking about it.
              Fodmap diet is not an elimination diet and should not be done first because it eliminates way too much and doesn’t identify allergens. Pleaseensurr you’re giving correct info, unless if you have some kind of health background or are a doctor, your info can really hurt someone in the long run.

        2. JobHunter*

          Wheat allergies are real, and are characterized by a CD4+ T cell response and IgE production. The epitopes (motifs that trigger immune responses) found in wheat proteins are different than those for celiac disease or other health conditions.

        3. Red*

          I too have a documented (they checked 5 ways) wheat and gluten allergy. I am STILL salty about it 3 years later.

      2. Agnodike*

        Uh, nope, you can be allergic to basically anything. I think you’re confusing wheat allergy (which is a real medical condition) with non-celiac gluten intolerance (which is not).

        1. fposte*

          You’re right! I did get sucked into the non-celiac gluten intolerance. However, documented wheat allergy still seems pretty rare.

          1. Agnodike*

            Varies by region, like most allergies, but the range I’ve seen is somewhere between 0.2% and 0.5%, vs approx 2% for peanut allergy (the most common allergy) in the US. So, not common, but not 1:100 000 rare.

        2. Ktelzbeth*

          Non-celiac gluten sensitivity [NCGS] is gaining acceptance as a distinct clinical entity. For example, open in another window right now, I have “Nonceliac gluten sensitivity : an approach to diagnosis and management” by Collyer, Elizabeth M. ; Kaplan, Barbara published in a peer reviewed journal with authors from the Cleveland Clinics (PubMed ID 27341511). Also, “Pediatric Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity : A Gluten-related Disorder Treatment Center Experience,” (PubMed ID 30908383) which has multiple authors, including from Harvard, was published in a peer reviewed journal, and from the results section of which I quote the following: “Among this population, we identified 26 (5.2%) patients aged 2 to 18 years (mean = 8.42 ± 4.1) who fulfilled the clinical criteria for NCGS based on the London Consensus Criteria.” I’ll link to the article, which I think is free as full text, from which the London Consensus Criteria come in a response to myself.

          1. Agnodike*

            Probably worth noting that the primary conclusion of that study is that “Even within our highly specialized population of patients with a suspected gluten-related disorder, pediatric NCGS is relatively uncommon.”

            This was a retrospective study examining medical records, rather than any kind of experimental study (i.e. a study exposing subjects to gluten and observing results), which concludes that a very small percentage of patients who have already been referred to a tertiary care centre specializing in gluten-related disorders meet the criteria, on paper, for non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This is a classic “more research needed” study. I’m perfectly prepared to accept that there’s a “there” there, but as of right now, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is in that tricky grey area: not really objectively diagnosable, primarily a diagnosis of exclusion, can’t exclude the possibility of confounders/missed diagnosis with other established diseases, etc.

            Also a quick reminder, not specific to this study, that “multiple authors, prestigious credentials, published in a peer reviewed journal” are not sufficient criteria for scientific reliability. Andrew Wakefield’s famous paper erroneously claiming that the MMR vaccine caused autism had 13 authors and was published in The Lancet. Read papers carefully, examine their methods section, look for confounders and methodological errors, carefully question whether conclusions are warranted.

            1. Ktelzbeth*

              For sure. Lots of things that have been previously accepted and then changed/walked back have made it into the medical literature and medical cannon. I’m a doctor. I’ve watched some of them. But recognized institutions and peer reviews put it a step above random, fly by night, self-published (at least we hope it does; at least a few someone elses have looked at the premise and thought it sounded reasonable). Number of authors has nothing to do with anything except that I didn’t want to take up the space to list them all.

              I was primarily offering a counterpoint to what I read as your assertion than non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not a real medical condition when you wrote “wheat allergy (which is a real medical condition) with non-celiac gluten intolerance (which is not).” I don’t think it’s that cut and dry at this point. I’m sorry if I misunderstood you, which I think I might have, since when you replied you said that you were prepared to accept that there is a “there” there.

              1. Agnodike*

                I’m always prepared to accept there’s a “there” there – if patients are reporting something, something is happening. We’re just not always great at categorizing what exactly the “there” is. I think the jury is out on NCGS – I was glib in saying it’s not a thing, because this is the comments section of a workplace advice column. What I would have said to a patient is that I don’t think there’s sufficient evidence to say that we’ve got the categorization right on this one. How much of NCGS is misdiagnosed celiac disease (which as you know can be tricky to dx), how much is psychosomatic, how much is something as yet undiscovered, how much is a distinct disease process that we’ve been able to nail down? I think it’s a bit tricky, and doubly so because the experimental evidence is so far pretty spotty.

            2. Ktelzbeth*

              And on the subject of reading papers carefully and drawing one’s own conclusions, I share the following story from residency. A new! exciting! paper came out and within the next couple weeks two of my attendings presented it to support their previously held view on the matter in question. They held completely opposite views. It’s served in my mind as an amusing but also cautionary tale ever since.