weekend free-for-all – August 31-September 1, 2019

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Dearly Beloved, by Cara Wall. The story of two ministers leading the same church and the women who marry them. It’s more about marriage and friendship than it is about religion, but faith is a theme and a question throughout.

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

{ 1,228 comments… read them below }

  1. Nena*

    I need recommendations for new shows to binge watch. Things I’ve enjoyed – Fleabag, Veep, Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, Big Love, the Sopranos, Parks & Rec. I don’t know if there are any themes there. Maybe smart and not too network-TV-ish (with the exception of Parks & Rec I guess). What should I try next?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We have very similar taste. I recently discovered PEN15 (you can stream it on Amazon — https://amzn.to/2zEg0Qo ) and LOVED it. It’s about two friends in seventh grade, except they’re played by adult comedians playing their 13-year-old selves. It’s really funny, and quite true to life. Highly recommend.

      1. Swims with Goldfish*

        (FYI Amazon has PEN15 for purchase, but it streams free on Hulu.) Funny show, I hope there is a Season 2…

      2. Stephanie*

        I loved that show. I’m the same age as the leads–it also brought back some painfully hilarious memories about fashion trends.

    2. bigX*

      I’ve enjoyed Playing House (which I think is cancelled after 3 seasons but worth it still!) and am enjoying Andrea Savage’s I’m Sorry. Kinda overlapping but not exactly on the dot!

    3. Taking The Long Way Round*

      I enjoyed The Good Life and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix.

      On BBC there’s Back To Life about an ex-offender returning to life after prison, which is excellent, sweet, poignant and funny, like life.

      1. Desperately seeking cute kitty*

        The first season of The Good Place is one of my favourite series ever. I also really liked One Day at a Time, another Netflix one.

        1. Desperately seeking cute kitty*

          Wait, I misread The Good Life as The Good Place. Still gonna rec The Good Place, it was so good that I watched it to get through a stationary bike challenge for charity.

    4. Taking The Long Way Round*

      Oh and Barry on Amazon is also good, about a mercenary who gets bitten by the acting bug (it’s really not as glib as it sounds!) but he’s pretty terrible at it. It stars Henry Winkler, which is reason enough to see anything I think.

      There’s also Kim’s Convenience on Netflix. I thought it took a while to get going but after a few episodes I was hooked. It was very funny, occasionally I think I startled the neighbours when I outright guffawed at a particularly good one-liner.

    5. only acting normal*

      Ok, a variety to choose from:
      Orange is the New Black
      Better Call Saul
      Sex Education
      Russian Doll
      The Wire
      Working Moms
      The Good Place
      Bonding
      Boardwalk Empire

        1. What the What*

          Just finished Life in Mars (UK). Hilarious! The car chases were a character in their own right (“Move it you bastards/b!tc&s”). Love that uncomfortable clash between that un-P.C. time period vs the more thoughtful and methodical approach of 2010 Sam. The music was fantastic, too.

      1. Chylleh*

        Russian Doll was so good! I was rooting so hard for the characters at the end.

        Just now binging season 3 of The Good Place on Netflix. Love all of the surprises on it.

    6. greenthumb*

      Orphan Black was pretty darned awesome for the acting and some of the dialogue. Tatiana Maslany was simply amazing, and the supporting cast was none too shabby. Sic fi, suspense, goofball humor and scary stuff in different ratios each week. Plot and story arc got a little out-there toward the end but other aspects of the show were so compelling even sticklers for logic like me largely gave these folks a pass. You should be able to cobble together legal, free streaming of all five seasons from some combination of Amazon, Netflix, etc if you don’t have good access to BBC America.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I routinely thought things about “the actress who plays Alison” and “the actress who plays Sarah” and so on as though those were completely separate people.

          1. greenthumb*

            Exactly!! And the plot got so … unusual … at the end, it’s like the door was left open for a resumption, amirite? Or is that wishful thinking?

    7. WS*

      Killing Eve (s1) was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag. If you liked Parks & Rec you’ll probably like Brooklyn 99 and The Good Place.

    8. SamSoo*

      I just re-binged Justified, but am most interested in this thread because it seems you and I have similar taste.

      In addition to what you listed, I also enjoy British comedy so:
      The IT Crowd
      Moone Boy
      Miranda

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I enjoy Fargo for many of the reasons I liked Justified. Season 2, especially, is like this sprawling embodiment of the rule that there ain’t no crazy quite like small family run business crazy, where the business is the mob.

    9. KG*

      The Good Place is the best television show anywhere right now, and it’s just about to enter it’s final season. I’m regularly stunned at how great the writing it is. (The third season was good but messy, but the first two had perfect writing AND they were visually beautiful.)

      1. AFT*

        If you love The Good Place (I do too), may I recommend The Good Place The Podcast? It’s hosted by Mark Evans Jackson (Sean on TGP, Kevin on B99, etc.) and is a delightful behind the scenes look at the show but also so much more. And each episode ends with “What’s Good?” where the guests talk about positive things. Sorry to hijack the recommendations for shows with further recommendations!

    10. I can’t use my real name for this*

      I’m a die-hard Veronica Mars fan and cannot recommend it enough. Three old seasons from the mid-2000s, a a crowd-funded film from a few years ago, and a new season on Hulu since July.
      I also second the Good Place, brilliant writing and acting.

    11. CoffeeforLife*

      I like
      *Workin’ Moms on Netflix (I dont have kids, showed first episode to my partner last night and he laughed outloud multiple times)
      *Derry Girls (90s teens in Northern Ireland, it’s silly but so well acted that I forgot I was watching teens, plus it was my coming of age era)

    12. GoryDetails*

      Dublin Murders might work for you; it’s based on the first two “Dublin Murder Squad” books by Tana French, In the Woods and The Likeness, and airs on Starz “this fall” (I haven’t seen a specific start date but have seen the previews). [I don’t know if the series will live up to *my* expectations – I adore the novels – but even if it’s only half as good it should be worthwhile!]

    13. Coco*

      Season 5 Izombie just came out on Netflix. Live this show. From the same creator as Veronica Mars.

      1. Zombie Unicorn*

        I loved the first few series but once the wall went up it just went to hell.

        10/10 would marry Ravi

      1. Zombie Unicorn*

        Or it’s on Amazon Prime in the UK.

        I loved this show so much! Did you know Michael Emerson and Carrie Preston are married in real life?

    14. MMB*

      Another vote for The Good Place! I also love Lucifer (although season 3 was a little rocky) and Hell on Wheels.

      1. DuPont Circle Travel*

        Seconding:
        The Good Place
        I’m Sorry
        Sex Education
        Derry Girls
        Killing Eve
        Good Girls

        Adding:
        Superstore
        The Americans
        Crashing (also has Phoebe Waller-Bridge)
        Better Off Ted
        Marcella

    15. Stanley Nickels*

      I think Brooklyn 99 and the first season of Killing Eve would be right up your alley! The shows you listed all have a theme of complex, unique, and watchable characters, paired with excellent writing. B99 for when you’re in a laughing mood and Killing Eve for something a little darker. The Good Place is also great, a little more network-y (along the lines of Parks and Rec), but with some really fun and different storytelling!

    16. PX*

      This Way Up just premiered on Hulu and is lovely and fits the bill. If you like that, Catastrophe might also be something you might enjoy. They are both comedies but a bit more focused on real life and real relationships.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve been devouring Schitt’s Creek and I LOVE it. It’s a hilarious fish-out-of-water Canadian show about these mega-rich people who lose everything and are forced to move to this tiny nothing town they once bought as a joke. Eugene Levy and his son Daniel developed and star in it, along with Catherine O’Hara and Chris Elliott.

      The first four seasons are on Netflix and season 5 is on Pop TV (it’s a Pop show). Season 6 will be the last one; I think that comes out next year? But anyway, it’s hysterical.

      1. alex b.*

        I love all the shows OP listed– so, maybe we have similar taste– and here’s another vote for Schitt’s Creek. As evidenced many times, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara were made to be on screen together, and Daniel Levy, Annie Murphy, and all the supporting cast are excellent. There are some ongoing plot arcs, but a lot of the episodes are standalone. Season 1 is great, but Season 2 is when it really gets magical.

        I just finished the final season of Orange Is the New Black a few nights ago. It was intense, devastating, and important. I definitely recommend, but be mentally prepared to be confronted with a lot of ugly realities.

      2. Handy Nickname*

        Hopefully not too much of a spoiler, but I am head over heels for David’s season 3/4 relationship. So freaking cute.

        Really though, there’s not a bad character on the show and I love watching them all grow up. (And Stevie! Agh I want to be friends with her so badly.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          David annoyed me at first, but now he’s my favorite character; his facial expressions are PRICELESS. He and Stevie are the best. And yes, his relationship. I can so relate to his issues with love, so one or two moments there made me flat out cry. And I love Alexis’s arc. I’m interested to see where that goes from here (I’m at the beginning of Season 5 now).

          They’re all growing but without losing what makes them each unique. That’s what makes them such great characters.

            1. Lisa Lou*

              If you have a Roku box or stick, or a Roku enabled tv: there is a free Roku channel where you can stream Schitts Creek.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                All of it?
                I do have a Roku. That’s how I watch streaming because my smart TV is kind of dumb, lol.

    18. Parenthetically*

      Catastrophe — bizarre, sweary, hilarious, dysfunctional, kind of beautiful. And Harlots — my new favorite show, somehow completely over-the-top (18th c. prostitutes! a literal death cult! improbable escapes! intergenerational brothel feuds! madhouses! public whipping! DRAMA!) and completely relatable (every gender, shape, size, color, and proclivity! family is what you make it! be true to your convictions and to those you love! don’t grass on your friends, you narc!) at the same time.

      1. MarmotMarmot*

        American Vandal! High school kid producing an investigative documentary, trying to figure out who drew dicks on all the teachers’ cars.

    19. Aurora Leigh*

      From Netflix:

      Jane the Virgin — all 5 seasons. This show starts out crazy and funny and keeps that up, while also being very smart and very honest about mother/daughter relationships.

      Republic of Doyle — a Canadian family private detective agency. Great characters, solid mysteries, humor amd heart. My fiance loves it too! 5 seasons so far, I think.

      From Amazon Prime:

      Eureka — about a cop in a town where everyone is a genius scientist!

      Psych — Hilarious show about a “psychic” private detective and crazy situations.

      From Hulu:

      Community — Community college students form a study group. So much of this reminds me of my college days!

    20. Grandma Mazur*

      Slightly different from the shows you listed perhaps, but I highly recommend John Adams and The West Wing. Also Firefly (even if you don’t like SF it’s good, and only 13 episodes so not a huge commitment) and seconding the Veronica Mars recommendation. Oh, also the UK shows Green Wing (surreal and very funny) and Episodes. And Misfits.

    21. Blazer*

      The Good Wife! It’s such a well written and acted show. I’ve watched all 7 seasons twice now and have just started watching for the third time. Also Person of Interest!

    22. Claire*

      I just finished binge watching Broadchurch (on Netflix). David Tennant and Oliva Coleman are the leads. Very intense and very good. I’m disappointed there won’t be a fourth season.

    23. Karinna*

      Oh, I just re-streamed Six Feet Under (for the 5th time, not kidding) and the final episode still chokes me up. Every time.

    24. Blue Horizon*

      I have slightly unusual Netflix requirements – I watch it mostly while doing my home exercise routine, which means I can only watch intermittently. So I need shows that are are both interesting/entertaining and also tolerant of viewers just listening and not watching for up to several minutes at a time. If they are too good they go on the queue for shows to watch when I can give them my full attention (which is long and getting longer).

      My most successful ones to date have been Lucifer, Hyori’s Bed and Breakfast, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Cooking shows have also been good.

  2. shirataki noodles*

    I’ve been experimenting with shirataki noodles, the zero calorie noodles that are great if you’re trying to lose weight. If anyone here uses them I’d love to hear your recipes with them!

    1. HamlindigoBlue*

      I have a recipe for yellow curry noodles from Delish (link in following post). I prefer using the light coconut milk instead.

    2. wingmaster*

      I use it a lot when making pho!

      I’ll also toss it with some vegan pesto and cherry tomatoes for a quick lunch.

    3. MOAS*

      I’ve tried it i just can’t do it. Seems like no matter what I do in prep, I hate the taste and texture

      1. wingmaster*

        I totally understand. I was feeling the same way, when I first started to use shirataki noodles. I wouldn’t say I love it, but I do not mind it. I mentioned in my above comment that I’ve used it a lot when making pho, but the shirataki texture is definitely not comparable to rice noodles. At least I can still enjoy the flavors in the broth and meat.

        I think what has helped me continue using shirataki noodles is that I’ve learned to not think of it as pasta/rice noodles/egg noodles. I like to think this also helps me eat less rice/pasta in a way..ha!

    4. Susie*

      I don’t really have recipes. I just sub them in anywhere that I would use regular noodles. I also occasionally use the shirataki “rice” but mostly in place of things like macaroni, and not as a replacement for rice.

      It’s very important to prep the noodles properly. So when you take them out of the package you drain the water they were packed in, rinse them well, boil them for a couple minutes, then drain them again and dry them in a pan. If you don’t do this they can have a weird smell (because: yams) and the texture will be off.

    5. noahwynn*

      I like to do fairly classic spaghetti and meatballs with them. I use BA’s recipe for pizza sauce from their “Perfect Pizza” and make meatballs with ground bison. I mix it up between the shirataki noddles and zucchini noodles.

    6. epi*

      I always put peanut sauce or coconut curry with them– something fatty and kind of decadent. I find it’s needed to make the meal filling and since those noodles are uncannily low calorie, I still easily come out ahead. If the slippery texture is a problem, they can be stir fried with just the oil and aromatics ahead of time to reduce some of the water content and add a slight stickiness to the outside.

      I like the texture but really only with stir fries and East Asian flavors. I tried making them with alfredo and marinara once each but the texture is really strange with them, in my opinion.

    7. Donna*

      After prepping them, I cook either italian or swedish meatballs, then make a stroganoff sauce. I’ve also found that after prepping, treating them like regular noodles with sauce, cheese and butter is YUM!!

  3. Princess Deviant*

    A while ago I posted that I thought I was autistic, and just wanted to post an update since the comments here were very helpful (and I read them often – I bookmarked the page).

    I have got the questionnaire from the diagnostic service and I’m due to see the psychiatrist for an assessment in the next month or two.

    I’ve told my mum because I needed her help on some of the questions. This was very hard. She doesn’t think I’m autistic, which I can understand because I’ve masked it for so long. I think she’s worried that I’ve been suffering and kept it to myself – in a way, that’s true, I have.

    The questionnaire is difficult. It’s bringing stuff up that is painful because to answer it I’m concentrating on all the things I’m finding hard, like social interaction, e.g., so I’ve been weepy a lot this week.

    But I’m glad I’m doing it, and I wanted to thank the people who commented because your input and advice gave me the courage to ask for the assessment in the first place, so here I am.

    1. Hazy days*

      Hi PD! I’ve been thinking about you and I’m glad that you’re on that journey, although it’s a hard one. As I probably said before, the diagnosis has been most useful in allowing me to make my own accommodations – whether that’s saying ‘such and such is a major issue for me, so I need to rest in silence all evening’, or accepting that something I enjoy in theory is too crowded and noisy in practice. You can start making this kind of self-accommodation and forgiveness straight away, without a formal diagnosis.
      I also appreciate it being hard on the family – I don’t know why it is, but it is. However, here we are on the other side.

      1. Green great dragon*

        I think it’s hard to look back as a parent and maybe think you should have known and got your child help earlier, or all the times that it felt like your child was being unreasonable and you scolded them and now feel like your child was just finding something really hard and you made things worse.

        1. Mimosa Jones*

          And as a parent of a child who rides the edge of a diagnosis, they could be feeling sad and guilty because they once had suspicions but wrote it off as just quirkiness. Our culture tells us that parents know their children best, which is somewhat true, but we’re expected to be all-knowing and sometimes we’re so deep in the weeds of life we can’t get perspective.

          1. LilySparrow*

            Especially if you’re dealing with traits that run in the family, so you’ve come to terms with them in a different way, as “just how we are.” And/or if prior generations didn’t have any type of diagnosis or intervention available, so they just “managed.”

            You get a whole secondary round of, “wait, this is a thing? Maybe this is describing me, too?”

    2. Koala dreams*

      Unfortunately healthcare are in the habit to just look at the non-functioning parts of your life, not the functioning parts. It can start a grief process when you have to go through all the painful things at once. Take care, and be kind to yourself.

      1. ampersand*

        I like this reminder!

        Princess Deviant: if you have the energy/spoons to do so, maybe you could also think of or separately list a few things that are strengths for you? That way you’re not solely focusing on the hard parts.

    3. MissGirl*

      I think I might be in the same boat. My therapist brought it up and I’ve been digging into it. She was going to do some research before our next meeting. Should I be doing some diagnostic stuff? I have a really difficult time forming connections with people.

    4. Smol Book Wizard*

      Princess Deviant – courage and joy to you in this complicated time. I am currently in a similar boat – getting testing arranged and persuading skeptical parents of the importance of it – and also benefited from the encouragement of this community on the matter.

    5. only acting normal*

      When I did the questionnaire, I bought the book “Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Understanding Life Experiences from Early Childhood to Old Age” by Sarah Hendrickx.
      I read through it with a stack of post-its beside me. and every time something in it made me recall an incident or pattern in my life, I wrote my recollection on a sticky and stuck it in the book. (It was twice as thick by the end!). Then I used the notes to answer the “long answer” bit of the questionnaire.
      It was easier than doing it cold, brought up more memories, and because it was prompted by other women’s stories it wasn’t so isolating. (You’re thinking about yourself as alike to others with similar experience, not in terms of how you’re different from “normal”.)
      I recommend the book, but other similar ones would probably do just as well.

          1. Princess Deviant*

            Oh is he the Australian guy? I saw his video about autism (well, he calls it Aspergers) in girls and women and he was amazing. It helped me so much. It was someone in this forum who recommended him to me the last time I posted!

      1. Close Bracket*

        Is there a standard questionnaire? Do you know the name of it? I was given a really short form that was basically a checklist based on the DSM. There was nothing in it about childhood experiences.
        I actually didn’t go back after filling in the form and handing it in. I already knew the answer since I had already filled in the same form online. :) I had sort of expected more from an actual practitioner.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          I filled in the standard 10 questions form plus an ADHD one they sent me in order to get the referral, then the diagnostic service sent me a HUGE form (we’re talking pages long) which they use as the basis for the assessment when you meet face to face.

          They explained that they’ll concentrate on the issues you say you’re struggling with the most. I have 4 weeks to fill it in. I’m about half way through, but have just bought the book recommended above and will use it, if it helps, to fill out some of the answers.

  4. Tartini’s Thrilling Trills*

    Several things:

    • My relationship with my mother is pretty much nonexistent now. I don’t think it can be helped due to what happened years ago. I finally acknowledged that she is an abuser, and so were some of the female figures in my life. I wish I could have some relationship, but I’m tired of managing her moods. I guess my question is, do people stop being abusers once you distance yourselves from them?

    • I am tired of my trauma knocking me out every time I get triggered. Any tips to shield myself from it, if possible?

    1. bigX*

      > Do people stop being abusers once you distance yourselves from them?

      The answer is complex and it can be yes but usually no. They might look like they rebound for a bit but if this is a life-long pattern then she’s gonna have to acknowledge and do some real work to unlearn the patterns. It’s common for people to have this funny notion that “any relationship, even a bad one, is better than no relationship.” It’s good that you’re able to see that sometimes no relationship is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and them.

      > Any tips to shield myself from it, if possible?

      Meditation and journal writing helped me. Then I don’t try to work or do anything that could be a source of frustrations for at least 5 minutes; finding a quiet, private place to just clear my mind and focus on taking take deep breaths. If it’s bad, I have a good cry and sometimes that’s the release I need.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreeing that abusers in the end cannot contain themselves and eventually their true colors show.

        And I will go you one step further, it’s my belief that in the end their anger eats them. It consumes their bodies in the form of some disease. Not a scientific thing here, just something I have observed. Annddd, not everyone who has horrible illness was an abuser (in fact many are NOT), so this gets a little more complex than what I can say in one sentence.

        Abusers tend to be angry, fearful, controlling etc. That does not go away just because their victim left their life.

        My mother was not the worst mother in the world. But she wasn’t much of a mother, either. Her anger bested her. The last time I saw her, they had her in a straight jacket. (Those were legal then. Now they use drugs.) All that anger had very little to do with me, I just happened to be around her more than anyone else. Once I left her and her anger went on. Finally it ate her and she died at 62.

        The moral of the story for me is to confront my monsters. Something bothers me, I find ways of slowly confronting it. Sometimes I can ask someone to help with a specific thing. Other times I can read books. It depends on what the nature of the issue is. I will say the more things that I confront, the easier it gets to confront what upsets/worries me.

        For some reason your abuser targeted you. It’s not up to you to help this person. Additionally, they will probably not let you help them anyway. It’s not up to you to protect other people from this person. We have laws and we have systems for dealing with outrageous behavior. Let our systems do what the systems do. Last, it’s not up to you to protect this person from themselves. We are all each responsible for how our lives play out, right up to our last day.

    2. Zombie Unicorn*

      You can’t stop an abuser from being an abuser. And generally no, they don’t fundamentally change who they are at any point.

      In terms of coping, have a search for ‘grounding exercises’ – there are lots of suggestions online. Distraction is good too. My therapist told me to make words out of the letters in CONSTANTINOPLE, and I like doing online jigsaws on the website Jigsaw Planet.

      Also helpful: having a box of self-care stuff ready for when you need it. Mine has things like squishies, colour-in postcards, mini notebooks and pens, a puzzle book, some of that soft putty stuff, and a list of helpline numbers). Another thing I find helpful is to listen to completely meaningless (to me) speech, like a speaking clock recording.

      The Pete Walker website also has lots of good information you might find helpful. I’ll post some links in a follow up comment.

    3. Zombie Unicorn*

      Sorry, I got so focused on the practical tips that I forget to say I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Try to be gentle with yourself.

    4. WS*

      My mother, while not abusive in other ways, was extremely controlling and cruel about my weight, which I later came to realise was because she herself had an eating disorder. I never cut off contact, but I controlled it by cutting off conversation/phonecalls every time she mentioned anything to do with this topic. It took about 4 years before she could really manage this herself, but it happened, and our relationship is vastly better these days.

      If you do want a relationship with your mother, it needs to be on your terms, and you need to work out what those terms would be before resuming contact. If your trauma is still triggering you so strongly, it might not be a good time to be working on that relationship rather than protecting yourself.

      Best wishes.

      1. Grapey*

        +1 holding boundaries yourself can make the relationship better. My dad is suuuuuper critical but as an adult I’ve sort of taught myself that his criticisms are all about him, and not me.

        e.g. the other day I rinsed out a soda can and left it upside down in his strainer, and he went on for 10 minutes with “why did you leave it upside down? That’s stupid. How does it evaporate?” blah blah blah. As a child, that would have destroyed me, but as an adult, I just thought to myself ‘it must be exhausting second guessing everything that other people do’ and told him to turn it around the other way if it bothered him. He left it alone and I haven’t thought about it since this comment.

    5. Perpal*

      I think abusers can change if they really want to change. But it’s a lot of hard work, just like changing any major part of yourself would be. If they are not making any signs of trying to change then no, probably not.
      Depending on the degree and type of abuse though, changing your relationship with them can protect you (ie, enforcing boundaries, maintaining a degree of distance, etc) but it’s something you’d have to keep up; likely the person will push and test them, complain about them, and if you relax them at any point will slide back in to old behaviors.

    6. Mimosa Jones*

      I’m sorry. Welcome to the club. Instead of memberships cards and jackets we have weighted blankets and self-care lists. My mom was verbally and emotionally abusive when I was a child due to her untreated anxiety and a bad marriage. She can be subtly abusive now and I’m so used to it that it’s hard to catch and label and even harder to speak up about. I’m still working on saying “wow” in the moment. I just can’t say anything right then so I speak up afterwards. But she’s nicer when I’m able to set boundaries and defend them. She’ll claim she doesn’t remember or didn’t do that, but she’s always better afterwards. It also helps that we live a thousand miles apart and have busy lives. Going weeks between phone calls is normal. I give her party manners and kindness and I don’t tell her anything I wouldn’t tell an acquaintance.

      You can define the relationship you want to have with your mom. But if you want a relationship you’ll have to help her practice treating you well, and the only way to do it is by being around her. It’s ok if you’re not able to do that. You have to take care of you. And it’s not your job to manage her moods. I’m assuming it’s the ‘guess I’m mad and fix it’ game. A friend taught me this handy phrase: unless you tell me, I’m going to assume you’re happy. If you can’t say it to her, say it to yourself. Although, for the best results you’re going to have to say or write it to her at some point. Assume her mood is at something else. Assume she needs space when she’s moody in your presence and give it to her. Even if you don’t tell her, she’ll notice you’ve stopped playing the game and her reaction will provide good information about the relationship you’ll be able to have.

      The first few times you defend a boundary by speaking up or walking away it’s going to feel horribly awkward. You’re not going to be able to be coherent or graceful or dignified in your defense or exit. That’s ok. Do it anyway. This is one of those things that’s worth doing badly vs not at all. And you’ll get better at it with practice.

    7. Shiny Carvanha*

      It’s not a short-term solution, but EMDR is magic as far as I’m concerned. It was hard work and exhausting but the stuff we worked on doesn’t trigger me any more – and as a bonus I can now listen to some songs that I love but that had got caught up in the trauma.

      Might be worth exploring if possible.

      1. LizB*

        +a million for EMDR. I had no idea how different my life could be once I reprocessed my trauma into just regular (shitty, but not triggering) memories.

    8. Goose Lavel*

      Two answers to two questions, Here we go:

      1. No

      2. Buy yourself a copy of “Daughter Detox” and the workbook. It will be life-changing. It has really helped my wife.

      You’re welcome.

    9. Jax*

      My mother refuses to even acknowledge, be accountable for, or tolerate any discussion of her abusive behavior. In fact, she preemptively used to say things like “I haven’t got time and won’t deal with any sh@t, period,” so if it’s something that makes her uncomfortable, she categorizes as your problem, not hers, and she will have no discussion of it, period. She has also succeed in declaring all of the estrangement — so many of her friends have dropped her, and now family members are too — as the other person having mental issues, it’s never something about her behavior, she’s perfect and she frankly has almost nothing good to say ever about anyone else. She’s obviously not going to change — she doesn’t even think she has an issue.

      I’m sorry you are going through this. All I can say is, the things my mother has done to other people are unspeakable, would make your hair stand on end. People believe and trust that she is someone who loves them and is kind; they don’t understand why people cut off all contact with her — she’s convinced them these people are mentally unstable or selfish, etc — until it’s too late. She’s ostensibly there when you don’t really need support, because that’s easy to promise when a person is doing great, but she betrays when anyone actually asks for help. She takes away their independence, their freedom, and, I am not exaggerating, their literal lives — her father fell and wound up in the hospital, his doctor said he could make a full recovery, he never lost consciousness nevermind was in a coma — he was as lucid and sharp as ever — and my mother, who had been given power of whatever it is where she makes all financial and life and death decisions, decided he “wouldn’t want to live this way,” had his feeding removed, not only didn’t consult him but didn’t let his wife of 70+ years know it was the last time she would see him or give her the option of being with him as he died, and doing it against even the doctor’s protestations. I don’t know why this is even legal, even with her having authority. I’m sorry, this is only one example of extreme betrayal (of her father) and psychological abuse (of her mother), I didn’t mean to go this far into it. She stole decades of my own life with her controlling behavior that I — in my gut I had already distanced myself from her in my 20s then made the mistake of “okay, what good person doesn’t give their mother a chance?” and losing so many years of my life, be careful. Abusive people (or sociopaths or psychopaths or narcissists) don’t necessarily think the way you do; they don’t care if they destroy your life; be careful about your own guilt for wanting estrangement or distance winding up giving her an opening again.

    10. Lissa*

      I think it depends on what people mean by abuser. I think there are some people who fundamentally will never change, and who will be basically awful at some point in all their relationships forever. And I think there are other people who treat people badly at a certain point in their life, due at least in part to external factors. There’s a massive spectrum of shittiness basically, and I’m honestly not sure at one point someone crosses to “abuse” from “shitty behaviour” and if it’s really an objective line vs perspective.

      But in the end I think the bigger question is, in what way will the answer to that question impact you? Even if someone could feasibly change, you can still say “well, I wish them luck in changing but I’m not signing up for any more of this.” And sometimes even if somebody HAS changed, or if the bad shit was due to a particular time and place and isn’t happening anymore, you get to say that the bridge is burned and they can be a better person with people who aren’t you.

      Real quick but, my relationship with my father was pretty much horrible growing up, I feel like nowadays it’d be pretty clearly recognized as emotional abuse. After I left I didn’t talk to him for a long time. I got back into contact with him and we had a relationship that had a LOT of boundaries (essentially, we’d go out for lunch once a month or so.) He passed away earlier this year, and while I’m happy we somewhat did repair our relationship, I also feel like it would’ve been completely acceptable if I had decided not to do so. But I decided (for me, not because of guilt or pressure) that I did want some level of contact, so long as it was on my terms.

      And in another anecdote I had a close friendship that turned toxic with someone who was legitimately going through a really horrible time life and mental-health wise. She did a LOT of damage, and while she now has changed in many ways, I really don’t have any desire to reconnect with her. I don’t wish her badly – in fact I hope she does well in her endeavors. Away from me.

    11. SansaStark*

      I’m sorry things are so bad with your mom. I also have a complicated relationship with mine. It might help to remember that your boundaries with her aren’t to punish or change her – they’re to protect you from her abuse, which is really all that’s in your power to do. Only she has the power to change herself. Good luck and I hope you find some peace.

    12. Fikly*

      My parents are both abusive. And in large part, they are abusive due to their own mental health issues. Unless they address those underlying mental health issues, they will never stop being abusive to me. At this point, they are unable/unwilling to do so.

      I have a very limited relationship with them. It helps to have very strict boundaries, and to tell myself that they are people I know, not my parents. Because I do not have a parental relationship with either of them. They broke that, not me.

      As for trauma, I would first of all, look into complex PTSD, because that’s what growing up being abused gives you (not trying to diagnose, just think you might find it helpful to read about how it affects your entire life). Secondly, trigger management has been immensely helpful to me. Identifying triggers is challenging, but learning to prevent triggers from happening around you is great, and then if you do get triggered, my favorite trick is distraction. The other day I got triggered walking, ten minutes from my apartment. I didn’t have anything to listen to, my main method of distracting my thoughts. So I literally just started listing things I was going to do when I got home. And repeated the list over and over, until I couldn’t hear anything else in my head.

    13. Salymander*

      In my experience,abusers will pretend like they have changed and grown, but that is just an act, not truth. I went no contact with my entire family, and I have never regretted it. What I did regret? Every time I reconnected with my abusive family, or even the not-so-abusive (but still messengers for the abusers) family members. Please do what you need to do to brotect your physical and emotional wellbeing. I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. I hope that you are able to find a new family of choice to support you.

    14. Hrovitnir*

      Very late to the party, but my 2c.

      1. I think people who have been abusive are wildly unlikely to ever completely stop their behaviours, and it’s definitely emotionally safer to assume they will not until proven way beyond a doubt.

      Anecdote: both my parents were abusive, both related to their own struggles with trauma and abuse. They were also both very supportive in other ways, but ultimately it was incredibly damaging, so that’s my experience of abuse. My mother has improved a lot but fundamentally is too unwilling to face the amount of work it would take to truly change, so I will never really trust her. My father and I will never have a close parental relationship again, the trust is too broken. But he has improved his own mental health a lot, and is aware of the behaviours that he cannot repeat, so there is more trust there than with my mother.

      A long time of no contact with my father helped a LOT. I was unable to completely divorce from my mother as I needed to be there for my much younger siblings, but significantly distancing myself has also allowed us to have a relationship at all now.

      2. I do not have any advice re: triggers as mine have largely been dulled by time (and in some cases still very much need work), but as someone who has struggled for a long time with this I can tell you it does get better. Sending internet support.

  5. need pelvic floor success stories*

    To those of you who have given birth:
    Did you have pelvic floor troubles after?
    Did that get better over time?
    What did you do and how long did it take until you were happy with your pelvic floor again?

    I gave birth three months ago and I’ve been doing my 5 minute daily pelvic floor exercise since the day after.

    Positive: Incontinence went away quickly and I’m feeling pretty stable in my midsection.

    Troubles:
    * I still have to go to the bathroom once during most nights. It’s frustrating when my baby sleeps through but I don’t because I need the loo.
    * I feel pressure on my pelvic floor when I go for a walk or carry my baby around.
    * My cervix sits much lower than I’m used to. My gyn says it’s not too low, but I got my period today and I’m having trouble using a tampon, so it’s definitely lower than before the pregnancy and it’s annoying.
    * I feel very little when I orgasm – there’s some movement but it’s so much less than before.

    The women in my post pregnancy excercise class say they are happy with their pelvic floor, so I’m feeling a bit alone with this.

    I’ve read that it gets better with time and excercise and that it gets better after you stop breastfeeding, but I need to hear some real experiences with this, so I’d love to hear about your pelvic floor experience after giving birth.

    1. YetAnotherUsername*

      That doesn’t sound anything like my experience. I think you should get a second opinion from a different ob gyn or at least see a physiotherapist.

      Pelvic floor issues are very common after pregnancy but good physiotherapy should be able to completely resolve it.

      One session with a physio might teach you different exercises or you may be doing them ineffectively. Make sure you find a physio who has training and experience in pelvic floor issues specifically.

      (I’ve had two full term births and two miscarriages).

      Note I do need to go to the toilet slightly more frequently now than I did but I think thats more about age and my water drinking habits than pregnancy – related. I definitely haven’t had any of the other symptoms you mention.

    2. Stitch*

      I had a c section which has an effect too, although a different one. I felt being cleared at six weeks for sex was a joke but I felt better after six months. I have a friend who had a significant tear and it took longer for her.

      However, I have heard good things about pelvic floor therapy. You might give it a try.

    3. Jules the First*

      I haven’t given birth and sort of have had the opposite problems as you, but I cannot overstate how awesome a good women’s health physiotherapist can be. The most embarrassing part was booking the appointment, but the results were more than worth it.

    4. Cap*

      Gave birth vaginally 8 months ago, and my pelvic floor feels pretty back to normal now, and it was a pretty gradual process but I think things were feeling better at 3mo. I definitely was the type to push the limit – I remember going jogging at some point before 6 weeks and afterward thinking “that may have been a mistake” because of the feeling of pressure/lowness/ache. I had read in multiple places that pelvic floor physio was something pretty much anyone would benefit from so I’ll repeat that even though I never got around to going. My midwife recommended it also in the context of saying “we used to tell everyone to just do a ton of Kegels but found that actually some people were not doing the most beneficial movements- it’s hard to describe/check but a pelvic floor physio is an expert at this.” Good luck!

    5. Ranon*

      Three months was still mid-recovery for me postpartum, but that doesn’t mean you need to put up with your current state of things if you’re unhappy- pelvic floor physical therapy exists and at a minimum an evaluation would give you a better sense of where you stand. Sometimes exercises can make things worse by tightening everything up when what you need is a nice strong bouncy flexible trampoline, and specialized help can make sure you’re doing the exercises your body needs.

      Any back pain/ difficulty lifting/ etc? The pelvic floor muscles wrap up into that whole mix so trouble on that front is another good reason to get specialized help.

      I also had a c-section, so pelvic floor was a different recovery for me, but the overall core recovery took a while- particularly rebuilding the links between my brain and my core muscles. Breastfeeding definitely impacted my hormone balance and orgasm response, too- there’s so many body changes that happen it’s hard to pull them apart.

    6. Thursday Next*

      I highly recommend pelvic floor PT. The exercises are more varied, often targeting muscles around the pelvis, and typically involve biofeedback, which I find really helpful.

      I went to PF PT after each of my kids and it was really helpful.

      1. PharmaCat*

        Please see a pelvic floor specialist, which is usually a urogynecologist. The typical obgyn is not equipped to handle this.

    7. LibbyG*

      My first birth, 8 years ago,was difficult -3rd deg tearing, cystocele and rectocele prolapses. PF physical therapy exercises restored my usual continence, which was nice, but for years my lowered cervix was bothersome during sex and when wearing tampons. I thought I would just have to live with it. My second birth 5 years ago was easy; It didn’t make anything worse.

      I finally got back into regular exercise a couple years ago (group fitness classes), and I’ve been delighted to find that tampons are now comfortable again! Sex is better too, though not quite at prechildbearing sensitivity.

      One more note about my story is that I was older than usual when giving birth- 38 and 41, so that likely played a role.

      Good luck with this 4th trimester and beyond!

    8. ket*

      Yeah…..

      Took me a bit longer than 3 months. 5 minutes of exercises a day was not nearly enough/the right thing for me. I enjoyed things like Crossfit before pregnancy, and even 9 months after giving birth starting back into things like ring dips (doing tricep dips holding onto gymnastic rings, which requires a lot of stabilization) gave me *pelvic* pain, which I found quite surprising. Or doing planks where you lift one foot up and the opposite arm up — that gave me pelvic pain too, when I initially got back into that kind of exercise.

      I think seeing someone experienced could be very useful, or you could look up some of the online programs on pelvic floor rehab, or even some that focus on diastasis recti (totally different) just ’cause sometimes due to the audience they have something relevant.

    9. Parenthetically*

      I’m currently pregnant and looking into pelvic floor PT for after the baby is born. The women I’ve known who have done it are super pleased with their outcomes. I’ve pretty much always had a weak pelvic floor and I know I could benefit from some professional help, especially because if you do the exercises incorrectly, it can be counterproductive.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        Don’t wait till after there are pelvic exercises you can do during pregnancy too!

    10. waffles*

      I would ask for a Rx to pelvic floor therapy (very different than class) or see a different ob gyn for a second opinion. My biggest lesson post partum is don’t wait and see for so long. Something about your body and health isn’t going well from your perspective. You deserve more full review and advice than this is normal, give it some time. Lots of people don’t take that very seriously for women in general, especially pp.

      1. Parenthetically*

        “don’t wait and see for so long” “Lots of people don’t take that very seriously for women in general, especially pp”

        SERIOUSLY. My mother has the most severe diastasis recti her doc has ever seen, full hand-breadth separation from top to bottom, and she was ALWAYS told, by literally every doctor she asked about it, that she just needed to lose 40 pounds and her stomach would go down, or that she needed to do more sit-ups and crunches and planks and it would eventually flatten out. She has spent 30+ years feeling like a failure, ultimately because none of her practitioners have advised her well, and it’s only gotten worse and worse over the years.

    11. Rosaline Montague*

      Definitely see a PT who specializes in pelvic floor. It’s normal to have some changes, but this seems like a lot.

      And, remember that many women will tell you “it’s just what happens…” especially if they are older, because this is what they were told in their turn. This is because our medical system does not build in PT for something like pregnancy, which takes a huge toll on a body. Know that you can do much more to feel better and have more agency over your health. Best wishes!

    12. Kuododi*

      I’ve used pelvic floor therapist in the past for non pregnancy related lady problems. (Pregnancy is outside my frame of reference.). It was a truly odd experience but darned if it didn’t work!!! I wholeheartedly recommend the process. Talk with your obgyn as well as your insurance person. They should be able to walk you through any referral documentation needed. Best wishes

    13. LilySparrow*

      I didn’t really have incontinence after baby #1, and don’t recall being aware of any issues specifically with my pelvic floor. (Baby #2, the 9.5 pounder who sat directly on my bladder, was a different story). You really can’t judge how you’re doing by asking other moms, because it depends on so many factors- size of the baby, how the delivery went, heredity, etc.

      It took me a long time to snap back after pregnancy in a lot of ways. I bf’ed until the baby was over a year, and my joints didn’t tighten back up for a few months after that.

      Sex was different, but honestly if you have any libido at all at 3 months I think you’re doing very well. Once life stabilized, sex wound up being better than before, just different.

      The peeing at night could be hormonal as much as anything. You also have internal organs shifting back into their normal places, all kinds of stuff going on.

      Archaeologists can tell whether a 10,000 year old skeleton had ever given birth. Some things are permanent. But you won’t really know which ones until about 12-18 months out.

      Take it easy on yourself and try not to monitor or compare yourself to others. There isn’t a right or wrong way to be postpartum, and a very wide range of normal. Obviously if anything hurts or seems medically wrong, get it checked. Otherwise, just take care of yourself. You’ll get there.

    14. Carmen in Canada*

      I agree with all the suggestions to look for pelvic floor physio. I have had 2 children and im sure I would have benefited from physio after each delivery but didn’t know about it at the time. A year ago (when my youngest was 3) I did have pelvic floor physio, and found out that instead of my muscles not being strong enough, which is what I was worried about, they were too tense and i didn’t know how to relax them which was causing me pain and uti-like symptoms.

      I’d also like to share that sex was not feeling great for me 3 months post- partum after both pregnancies. It was a slow and gradual return to enjoying sex again. I don’t know how normal this is, but for me it was probably a year before I really got back into the groove. I hope this helps you feel like you’re not alone. Be kind to yourself, listen to what your body wants, this is just a stage of life.

    15. need pelvic floor success stories*

      Thanks everyone for your comments. It’s good to know that it can still get better.

      I did see a physiotherapist a couple of weeks ago who showed me how to do my 5 minutes excercise and recommended I do it three times a day for two weeks (which I did) and then once a day forever (on it) and to give it some time. She said her full strength didn’t return until after weaning. And she also checked my core stability and was pretty impressed with that (and I’m very happy with it as well) so no issues on that front.

      The insurance company paid for that and they’re also paying for the post pregnancy excercise classes, which are all about getting the pelvic floor and core back into shape.
      So, I’m going to have some patience and finish the classes. I only started last week and they run another six weeks. And then I’ll reevaluate and get a second opinion if I don’t feel much better than now.

      1. Jenny F. Scientist*

        There’s a video series called Hab-It by a pelvic floor PT which I’ve found stellar. (I have no connection to them and paid retail, at the time it was like $13). You might check it out, they have a set of exercises that escalate in difficulty and were extremely helpful. I have three children and would have difficulties every time I sneezed….

    16. Anonymous for this one*

      I can weigh in on the orgasm thing. That is almost certainly the breastfeeding thing. The hormones produced during that time do affect you that way, or at least they did me. Things went back to normal once I weaned.

  6. OyHiOh*

    Up stupidly late making almond croissants to surprise my little dragons with for breakfast Saturday morning. As in, it’s midnight here, and the little beasties have to rise for another 90 minutes before I bake them. I have extremely bad timing when it comes to “what time of evening should Oy start bakery projects?”

    Went to the state fair this week with Neptune and dragons. Had a very nice time and got two out of three dragons thoroughly sick on the carnival rides. I don’t think carnival rides will hold quite so much attraction in the future! Neptune and I got a ride on the ferris wheel while dragons were otherwise engaged. At dusk. It was “romantic” and I leave the rest to y’all’s vivid imaginations. We talked about his desire to have a fulfilling life with many adventures (complicated life history, not relevant here) and I said “I hope you have the best adventures and maybe some of them we’ll share.” He responded that he hopes we’ll share more than a few adventures. All the happy ridiculous smiles.

    I have a knitting project I’ve been working on since late March. There’s a whole second story about how the yarn came to be in my hands but one night, practically dizzy with spinning thoughts, I put 180 stitches onto US 2 needles and started a double seed stitch pattern (non knitters, it’s a really tedious pattern and takes forever and using tiny needles does not help at all). I couldn’t bring myself to describe the thing on my needles as anything more than “meditation.” I remember saying “one day, I might be able to think of it as a blanket but right now, it’s just mediation.” That project has helped me still and calm my mind for months. At the beginning, I put all of my heartbreak into it. Cried often. Talked through “it wasn’t supposed to be this way” over and over again. Somewhere in this summer, all of that changed. I noticed I could talk about the blanket I was knitting, rather than meditation; although the process is deeply meditative for me. I noticed that rather than lonliness and tears, that I was knitting into the yarn calm and happiness.

    And this makes sense to me because years ago, I performed in a musical called Quilters. It’s the story of traditional quilt patterns, through the journals and letters of pioneer women. I love this musical. When I performed in it, I was 20 years old and pretty sure I understood how the world worked (don’t we all, at that age!). By the time our director got done with us, my world view had been fundamentally shaken, several times over. The final quilt square in that show is called something like “patchwork,” that quilt where you just piece random bits of fabric together however they fit. And the story attached to the quilt is of a young pregnant woman whose husband is killed in a violent train accident. She describes how she shuts herself up in her room with her rag bag and starts a patchwork quilt. By the time the baby is born some weeks or months later (the timing isn’t clear or necessary for the scene), the quilt is finished and she’s patched her grief and her life together enough to keep going. Four or five months ago, I could not have articulated the story from Quilters and compared it to the knitting project I’m 12 inches from finished with now. But looking back over these months, the parallels between that story, and what I started are pretty clear.

    1. Llellayena*

      I need to hunt down that play and present it to a couple local theaters near me. I’ve got the quilters who can supply the props…

      1. OyHiOh*

        The quilter who did our props had to make two of everything. She did individual squares to present during each scene, plus a complete quilt that had all of the squares in it. Absolutely beautiful work but intense to get done on time. And to show well on stage, the individual squares had to be about twice usual size and the same for the finished quilt. The finished quilt at the end was oversize king. Just fair warning

        The musical is lovely. It’s usually cast for 6 or 8 women, who play different roles and tell different stories in each scene. The Sunbonnet Sue monologue remains my favorite bit to this day.

        1. Llellayena*

          Thanks, I’m thinking of a tiny, 80 seat theater so a standard bed sized quilt would be easily visible on stage, though I could see making the solo blocks a little larger. If I know they’ll do it, I can start making the blocks early. I found an article about a similar small theater that raffled off the quilt after the play, that would be a cool idea here.

    2. Morning reader*

      I have a similar “project” I started with my sister’s yarn when she was dying. I took it with me whenever I visited her in hospice and knitted when we were quiet or she was sleeping. I haven’t picked it up since she died; it’s still on my shelf in the knitting basket, gathering dust. Maybe I’ll pick it up again this fall. Apparently some tears left in me that it might absorb. Thank you for your story.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I have a scarf I worked on while Mr Oy was in the hospital. I haven’t touched it since the day he died. I’m thinking about frogging it and starting a new project with the colors. The colors are lovely but I can’t bring myself to finish *that* project.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I’m still doing some behind the scenes stuff but I’m not going to their services. They are perfectly happy to prioritize the social and medical needs of the missing stair my children feel scared by, over me. Their loss. I go to chabad in next city north a couple times a month. It’s been a couple months since that decision and I’m starting to get pressure to come back. “Why go to a different city when there’s a good/nice congregation right here?”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You have been sounding happier since you left there.
          I think you know, what others think does not matter, it’s what you think is best to do that matters.

          I’d like to point out that sometimes people just change what they are doing anyway, regardless of a missing stair or not. It is entirely possible that you could have decided to move on for many other reasons. Spiritual growth and spiritual needs sometimes put us on odd roads. And that is okay.

          I have a wonderful church right here. I don’t go as much as I should. I used to go a lot. I have seen a lot of really cool people leave the church. I dunno why, except that they are searching for something more. Sometimes they indicate they don’t even know what it is they are looking for. A friend of a friend was Old Order Amish. After a bit they became New Order Amish. A while later they moved to being Mennonite, these transitions took decades to play out in real life. My wise friend attributed changes like this to a growing spirit. It’s a quest, a journey and we spend our lives seeking. And that is all good. I hope I can encourage you to keep following what fits your needs the best right now.

        2. OyHiOh*

          Well, to be honest, happy really started to develop around the end of July when certain conversations with Neptune happened and we started opening up about our feelings for each other . . .

        3. Observer*

          I imagine you don’t really want to get into a discussion about this. But, if you did, I’d say the place to start is to point out that the premise of the question is flawed. There actually is NOT a “good / nice congregation” available to you – a place that allows someone to mistreat (or scare) you or your children is NOT a good or nice congregation for you.

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Always lovely to read your story each week. I continue to pray the best for you and the little ones. The croissants sound lovely – I, too, have some baking wee hour stories. LOL. Hope they enjoyed them!

      1. OyHiOh*

        I have a tendency to bake croissants late at night because I live in a high dessert environment and there’s more humidity at night, and easier to keep room temperature under 80 degrees. Too dry, too hot, and you start getting all kinds of issues keeping the layers of butter cold. Does a number on my sleep schedule though!

    4. Belle di Vedremo*

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, what a gift it is. Blessings on your journey.

    5. LizB*

      Can I just say you’re an excellent writer? I look forward to your updates each weekend, and I’m so happy you’re happy. Also I share your inability to properly time baking projects, I can’t say how many times I’ve been late to activities/events/etc because I was waiting the last five minutes so I could grab something out of the oven that I didn’t start early enough.

  7. Hazy days*

    The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron

    There are a lot of artists, creatives and writers in this community, whether currently exploring your art fruitfully or feeling frustrated and blocked. Would people like to join me for an online group working through The Artist’s Way course book? My idea was to check in each Saturday about how we’d found the past week in terms of our creative process.

    The book is 10 weeks long, and you need time for ‘morning pages’ (20 mins daily?), ‘artists date’ (as long as you like), and for the additional tasks (select 5 from 10, again perhaps 30 mins per day). Second hand copies are available via Abe Books – I find paper works better than e-books for this.

    I’ve used the book before, though not done the whole course. I have found the morning pages and artists date enormously helpful in returning to writing poetry.

    Im just about to restart from the beginning – would people like to join me?

    1. greenthumb*

      Sounds interesting! Couple questions for you:

      Had a look on Amazon (Abe’s isn’t an option in my part of the world) and am confused about exactly which of her books you mean? I’m seeing an overall course book but also a workbook, a morning pages book, etc.

      How portable could this be? As in, if one is away several nights on business, could the daily activities be done in a smaller composition book or similar so the main book and other work could be left at home?

      1. Hazy days*

        It’s the one simply called “The Artist’s Way”, none of the extra subtitles about workbooks etc.

        Yes, I have a school exercise style book for morning pages, so it’s easy to travel with. I first started doing it while travelling, in fact, with the e-book.

        1. greenthumb*

          Thanks, found it. It’s either arriving 9/3 or 9/9 (Amazon Prime gets confused/conflicted beyond the Lower 48

          1. Hazy days*

            Excellent! Thats very exciting!
            Shall we ‘meet’ on a thread here next week to kick off week one? If it arrrives on the 3rd, then start reading the introductory chapter.
            Meanwhile you’ll need your notebook (exercise book sized) and pen for doing morning pages.

            1. greenthumb*

              Sounds great; I’m excited to give this a go! I can try to come back here and reply when the book arrives. I’ve got a slender composition book ready to go.

              1. Hazy days*

                Great! I should say that the author has some quite idiosyncratic spiritual / religious beliefs that I feel you can just skip over if that’s not your sort of thing. They’re much more prominent in the intro chapters than subsequently. However, I do like the idea that creativity is natural to human nature and that creativity is good and not selfish.

    2. Donna*

      I did the book and the course years ago. It was very…intense. I do feel that it opened my creative channels, but it is also a commitment to stick with the entire thing.

  8. Marzipan*

    A little update following my double-donor IVF positive pregnancy tests: this week I went for a viability scan at my clinic and it is in there and in the right place and measuring OK and it has a heartbeat! Still cautious, but I’m now 8 weeks and this is further than I’ve ever got before.

    1. LibbyG*

      Oh, that beautiful twinkle!! Fingers crossed for the next scan! You’re more than half through the first trimester!

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Visible heartbeat at 8w is a fantastic sign. Wishing you an uneventful 30 (+) weeks to come!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am sitting here grinning ear-to-ear from reading your post.
      Wishing you guys the best, always.

    4. Marzipan*

      Thanks everyone! I like the idea of the world’s most boring pregnancy. That said, I have my booking appointment with the midwives in a couple of weeks and I’ll be pretty much setting a timer on how quickly they go “Old! Miscarriages! ART! Donor gametes! Fibroids!” and, like, sound a klaxon and load me into a cannon to shoot me off to consultant-led care…

  9. Kuododi*

    Well, the lumpectomy was last Tuesday. According to the Dr, there were no “surprises” when he got inside. They got the tumor, and the margins were clean. At this point, it’s just a matter of “wait and see” until the final pathology report is in. My post-op check up is this Friday so, I will know then the final results. On September 11, I have an appointment with the Medical Oncologist to discuss follow up treatment planning. (radiation treatment). I’m feeling pretty good considering, still wanting the report to come in so I can deal with results. Still having trouble with that whole “breathing thing.”. DH and I are walking the local malls to keep building up my strength. Even my Daschunds are being extra helpful and “cuddly.”. They have always been quite intuitive, but even my rambunctious youngest pup is now only wanting to stay as close to Mommy as possible. (Sweet, sweet boys!)

    1. Sara without an H*

      This is very, very good news! Keep working on the breathing, it really helps. Jedi hugs!

    2. fposte*

      I was thinking about you. Sounds like it’s good news on the day, and hopefully the pathology report will confirm it.

      Lungs are delicate creatures and need some time. I can’t remember if you had to get a lobectomy or not, but a relative who did says her breathing capacity is now back to what it was before, so I think you’ve got a good chance of getting there too.

    3. Goose Lavel*

      Next door neighbor is on the final step of her lumpectomy treatment and started radiation several weeks ago post chemo.

      She still active most days and last time I saw, her she looked drastically different but definitely on the mend.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      was looking for your update – and this is good as it can be. Sending warm and encouraging thoughts of healing and strength your way. (hug)

    5. Quandong*

      I’m glad the surgery was straightforward and margins were clear. Sending best wishes for your recovery – I hope you keep getting what you need in terms of cool walking and comfortable rest.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      The pets do serve us, don’t they. What good little boys!

      Years ago there was a popular poster of a pelican and a frog. The frog was half way down the pelican’s throat. But as viewers, we could see the frog’s hands were around the pelican neck and he was actually winning. He was choking the pelican and the pelican could not swallow the frog. Unfortunately the frog could not see he was winning, he was just doing what he could do and hoping for the best.
      The caption read, “Never, ever give up.”
      And how many times in life we have no clue when we are actually winning…well, too many times. We just keep doing things like mall walking etc and it is so very hard. This is what winning looks like. The day to day stuff is a lot of work. But the effects are cumulative and what we do each day can add up in our favor. Like the frog, we just can’t see it.
      You are a very strong person, Kuododi, very strong. Please remind yourself of that as you walk.

  10. Fikly*

    I’ve been trying a new thing recently, writing down things that I did well each day, and things I’d like to work on. Trying to re-frame things in my head.

    As an example, I had a very bad ER experience tonight, and felt very much like I couldn’t get anyone to listen to me or take me seriously. (The least bad part was the PA who I had told several times about my diabetes, who then offered me candy. My sugar was not low. It got worse from there. Still angry.)

    Normally I would think to myself, I failed at advocating for myself, but I’m trying to re-frame it as, I did a good job, in that I spoke up for myself while feeling very terribly physically, and instead, the people at the ER did not do their jobs. But for the things to work on part, rather than blaming myself, I’m thinking about strategies for how to advocate better next time. So for example, they told me my labs were fine, but when I got home and looked at them, I had a bunch of not good values. So next time, check the labs there and demand answers.

    I’ve been writing this all down on paper, but would ideally like to transfer this to an app (Android please). I looked at some journal apps but they don’t seem to be quite what I’m looking for. I would like something that has a date, and can do a list, either with bullets or numbers, so I can list items under each category. I don’t mind paying for something, at all, but would hope to be able to at least test it out before paying, to see if it would work for me.

    1. Just a Guy in a Cube*

      Evernote can probably do what you’re looking for (and at least for iOS the last time I looked at it there’s both the core app and a separate quick entry app which turned out to be surprisingly useful)

      1. KG*

        Evernote is maybe overkill if you’re just using it for this particular purpose.

        HOWEVER, if you’re willing to put more things in Evernote than just this — shopping lists, travel logistics, account information, etc — it’s amazing. I practically live in Evernote. Husband teased me a lot for it until I was able to pull up a receipt for a concert from three years ago the other day.

    2. TimeTravelR*

      Look into Jottli. It may suit you as is, but because it is new they are still adding lots of things to it, and if you have other ideas, they might be able to add them in. You can find them on Facebook if you have ideas for them.

      I like it because it allows me to post written word, audio, video, pictures, and I can have it remind me to post if I want to do a daily/weekly, etc. post. Let me know what you think! (p.s. I am not one of the developers! I just like it a lot!)

    3. SigneL*

      I’m very low-tech – I just email myself. I use something distinctive in the subject lie, so searching is easy.

    4. Mimosa Jones*

      What about Trello? It’s for project management, but people use it for all sorts of things. it has automatic dates, a capacity for details and lists, color coding and tags. You can mark things as done or give them a deadline. Each item is like a sticky note that you can move around to different columns. It’s free at the basic use level that would suit your needs and it comes with unlimited boards so you can use it for other things as well.

    5. MommyMD*

      Labs can be out of range and be fine. The job of the ER is to stabilize you or make sure you are stable and send you back to your doctor or have you admitted to the hospital if not stable. I’m sorry you had a bad experience. Many people use the ED for chronic health care, non-emergencies or as a replacement for their primary doctor instead of true emergencies. It can become so busy things are rushed. When a patient is stable, they are discharged.

      1. Fikly*

        My doctor sent me to the ER because they were concerned that I needed IV antibiotics and was in danger of having a localized infection going systemic. I understand why, as a chronically ill patient, I am not the ideal ER patient. However, that does not mean that I did not need emergency care. The providers at the ER told me, before any lab work came back, that they did not believe I had any systemic infection, and that they weren’t going to believe the lab work even if it did suggest an infection, and that they were just going to discharge me. I’m not saying I need them to 100% decide I’m right. I’m saying I need them to have an open mind.

        1. Anono-me*

          Medical Care, especially ER visit experiences can be very different for people.

          With medical care appointments, I have found that it is much much better to have a second person along with to advocate for me. That second person should come across as confident and be as well dressed as possible. )

          I always try to dress as well as I can considering my physical ailments. I also insist on changing back into my clothing after the exam and before discussing the diagnosis.

          I always take paper notebook to medical appointments. The process of physical note taking on paper seems to encourage a more thoughtful and thorough answer from the doctor in addition providing me with notes to refer to.

          I hope you are healthier soon.

          1. Fikly*

            Thank you. I ended up starting the new antibiotics another doctor had prescribed me yesterday (that the ER told me I didn’t need) and they seem to be making a difference. And I saw a NP today for follow up care who was outraged at what the ER did and I am now getting the care I need.

        2. LilySparrow*

          I took MommyMD to mean that the overcrowding is a factor that leads to workers giving minimal care. Not that you personally should not have been there.

          I’m sorry you didn’t get well cared for, but glad you are finding tools to reinforce your own self-efficacy.

        3. MommyMD*

          Of course you should go to the ED for possible sepsis. Had you had sepsis, you’d have been admitted. Labs can be out of range and not dangerous. Also important were your vital signs, such as if fever is present, very low blood pressure and high pulse. It’s a whole picture. Of course everyone should remain open minded. I’m happy you were cleared to go home and hope you feel better.

          1. MommyMD*

            And I always err on the side of caution. I would never tell anyone I would dismiss their labs. That’s foolhardy.

          2. Fikly*

            So, I had a fever, my bp was low, my pulse was high, and I was sob, and I was actively getting worse. Still feel they discharged me competently?

            This whole attitude that pervades medicine that the person who has lived in their body their entire life cannot possibly have something to contribute to the conversation, is exasperating, and also dangerous. I am an individual. As an example, my temperature may have been within normal range. But considering that my temp usually runs two degrees below normal, and I was on two separate fever reducers, a slightly elevated temp is probably pretty significant. But they weren’t willing to look beyond the raw data point.

            You’re right, I wasn’t septic. And I got through the night safely. But that was luck, not competence, on their part. Also, I started a new course of antibiotics, which they told me not to take, and that probably helped, as they are a type of antibiotics that start acting quickly.

            Ideally, yes, ERs never discharge people who aren’t septic. But it has definitely happened, and to suggest it never does is naive.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I use OneNote extensively for this kind of thing. The automatic syncing is ridiculously useful.

        1. HamlindigoBlue*

          I love OneNote because of the syncing. I use it on all of my devices, and it’s so useful to have my notes accessible anywhere. I also have a Surface Book, where I take handwritten notes and later use the convert-to-text feature.

          I mostly use OneNote for work and independent study. I use Google Keep a lot for personal use. Since my family members also use Keep, we have a family grocery list that everyone can edit.

        2. Observer*

          Syncing is a pretty common feature for most of the apps that have desktop version. Evernote and Google Keep also sync.

    6. Knitter*

      My daughter has a rare genetic condition and we are frequently in the ER and at medical appointments. I totally empathize with your feelings and totally love your reframe. My daughter is legally blind. At a feeding appointment, I was asked to model use of feeding tools multiple times. And I told the therapist multiple times she couldn’t see.

      Anyway, I use One Note and love it. But I haven’t found a way to find all my check boxes for to dos. I recently learned about Google keep. That might be something worth exploring.

    7. epi*

      Look into Standard Notes. I use it for a similar activity to what you’re describing, and for a general journal.

      The program is free to use, there are desktop, browser based, and mobile versions, and it uses end to end encryption with an option to set a passcode to get into it on each device. It supports tagging entries, naming them, and it automatically dates entries. Prettier and more powerful tools are available for paid users but the base program is wonderful on its own. I actually like its minimal interface because it doesn’t distract me. I just use tab and a symbol to make bulleted lists.

      Be aware that stuff you type in most Android keyboard apps is not truly private, depending how sensitive the contents of your journaling get.

  11. Jemima Bond*

    Ooof, the black dog is circling a bit the last few days. Today is self-care day; I cancelled a plan to meet a (fortunately very understanding) friend because I took four days leave from work (we had a bank holiday on Monday) and I’ve done lots of useful practical things and met a couple of friends I rarely see, but I’ve ended up not feeling very rested and I don’t want to start back on Monday feeling like that. So today is just for me. I’m going to go to the library, make sure I’ve got something nice for dinner, and then do some sewing (got some quilting on the go and I need to choose a dress pattern for a future project*) with repeats of Jonathan Creek (a late nineties/early noughties comedy-drama series with mystery solving) on in the background. Away, worries and stress!
    *I’m planning to make a new concert dress which must be full length with sleeves below the elbow, so if there any dressmakers out there with a brilliant pattern suggestion, I will be sure to look it up!

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      Is this to be an old-fashioned concert dress, or a more modern one? I love the Folkwear Classics patterns (Their opera cape is lovely), for a very interesting look. Look for some of the small pattern designers/ European patterns, for a different and great look too. And don’t be afraid – if you have a pattern you like – to just buy one for the sleeves you like and merge them together. (I know you know all this)

      1. Jemima Bond*

        It’s as a member of a reasonably large choir so it has to be formal but reasonably subtle if you see what I mean. I think you are right about frankenpatterns – shouldn’t be too difficult to extend the skirt of a sleeved dress or add the sleeves of one pattern to a sleeveless long other pattern.

    2. What the What*

      Kudos to you for realizing you need rest and positive self care. Library, quilting, nice dinner AND Johnathan Creek sound like a soul recharging day. Best wishes.

    3. Nana*

      “Full length with sleeves below the elbow” sounds like Modest clothing (Christian, Muslim AND Jewish) and you can probably Google lots of patterns.

  12. Grand Mouse*

    Odd pets? I have a cat but I also have some snails that I’m trying to revive after a rotting fruit mishap. I had a snake briefly, and a betta for several years. Tales about your odd pets and advice for people with less popular pets are welcome!

    What about fantasy pets? I would totally love a pet rock that I could interact with.

    1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      What a fun idea for a thread!

      I haven’t had anything too terribly exotic, but I have had dogs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, a couple of sliders, one box turtle, toads, hermit crabs, a few species of millipedes, and various fish and aquatic snails. My mom had all manner of parrots when I was growing up, but I’ve never had a bird of my own. I’d love to have millipedes and rats again at some point, and set up a big natural planted tank for an axolotl or two.

      As for fantasy pets, in a world where the exotic pet trade was more ethical I think it’d be neat to have one or two skunks, maybe a pair of duprasi, and/or a giant pouched rat. I’ve also always wanted African giant snails but they’re illegal where I am now. As for *fantasy* fantasy pets, I think it would be amazing to be able to raise hobgoblins (from the latest How to Train Your Dragon movie), porgs and vulptex (from Star Wars), and any kind of teeny tiny dragon.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        You can have the skunk that hangs out in my yard. We call him (her?) Pepe. He’s very cute, but it’s annoying when he’s out there right as I drive up. I sit in my car waiting for him to walk away. Sometimes I have to beep at him and he finally leaves. One night he brought his friend while we were out at the fire pit. I don’t think he’s ever sprayed in our yard, though, since I never smell him.

      2. Grand Mouse*

        Oh! Millipedes sounds really cool! Would you mind telling a bit more about them? Like I would have no idea where to get one

        1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

          I highly recommend them! They’re super low maintenance and positively mesmerizing to watch. There are several species that are pretty common in the pet trade and I’ve even seen some giant African blacks and red-legs at PetSmart and Petco. If there’s a reputable shop near you that has scorpions and/or tarantulas they’d probably be able to order them, but you can also buy them online. I’ve purchased some privately from people on invertebrate forums and from LLL Reptile. Depending on where you are, there may even be a native species you could collect.

          If you set up a basic forest-y terrarium and keep the heat and humidity right there’s almost nothing to their ongoing care. They eat decomposing hardwood leaves and debris supplemented with produce scraps and a mineral supplement or a few reptile pellets. It’s already warm enough for them where I am (SEUS) so care consisted of misting, adding food bits, and removing food bits when they started to mold. They might need a heat source if you’re in a colder climate or keep your house especially cool, but they don’t need any special lighting like reptiles.

          1. Grand Mouse*

            This sounds a lot like my snail setup already! I wonder if there would be a problem with getting a bigger terrarium and having both together. I want to move my snails to a new habitat anyway (they’ve just been in an old salad container, but now I have babies and the container isn’t circulating air enough)

            1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

              As long as there was enough room I bet they’d be fine together! Millipedes do have a defense mechanism where they secrete a noxious fluid if they feel threatened though. It doesn’t hurt people (can technically cause a chemical burn, but it just discolors your skin and isn’t strong enough to hurt you) but might kill a snail. I’ve never had one resort to it though, and I handled all of mine a lot. I can’t imagine a snail doing anything to be perceived as enough of a threat to trigger it. Millipedes might snack on a snail that was already dead, and maybe vice versa, but otherwise they’re probably pretty compatible.

    2. Loopy*

      I’ve only ever had a dog and a beta fish but I volunteer with non-releasable wild animals. While we do treat them as wild animals and definitely have minimal/no interaction as volunteers especially, I have come to love our opposums a ridiculous amount for no apparent reason. I know everyone thinks they are gross and ugly but I started following a fun opposum page on FB and find them quite cute. I’d never take an animal out of the wild, but if the opportunity ever arose to do it correctly I’d totally take in an injured/non releasable one (though sadly I’m not a licensed rehabber or sanctuary so it definitely remains a fantasy!).

      I think it’s partially because everyone dislikes them. They need all my love. All of it.

      1. SpellingBee*

        I love opossums too! They’re actually quite beneficial – they eat bugs and mice and even rats (and birds if they can get them, unfortunately), are gentle and non-confrontational. I’ve had to call in a wildlife removal guy to try and live-trap an armadillo that’s hanging around and has dug a big burrow underneath my deck stairs; haven’t gotten the armadillo but accidentally caught an opossum the other night. I named him Otis, and we took him back to the woods behind our house, from whence he undoubtedly came, and let him go. He opened his mouth at us the whole way back (“see how fierce I am? I’m fierce! Watch out!”) but as soon as he realized he was free he just scampered off.

        1. Loopy*

          I love finding other people who like them! I always feel a bit bad when I find the open mouth thing way more cute than scary- even though those teeth are no joke!

    3. hermit crab*

      I keep Madagascar hissing cockroaches! They’re super fun (and, being cockroaches, are probably the lowest-maintenance pet you can possibly have).

      My fantasy pet is probably a red panda. Or an octopus! Or a bear. Maybe not in the house, but I would love to live in a world where I could be friends with a bear.

    4. Kuododi*

      When we were younger and “starry-eyed” newlyweds, DH decided he wanted to get an iguana for a pet. He’d had them when he was a kid and really enjoyed them. Well, being young and in love I didn’t have the sense God gave a goose. Needless to say my answer was “of course sweetheart…we can certainly get an iguana!!!”. Big mistake…that iguana was the crankiest most ill-tempered creature I’ve ever encountered. We donated the iguana to a local herpetarium after about six months. After that, we stuck to traditional pets…cats, dogs, the occasional tank of fish.

    5. Shiny Carvanha*

      My kid has a box in which live a family of coins. They have names and everything. One of them is adopted. <3

      1. Slartibartfast*

        This reminds me of when my oldest was small. She loved ladybugs and had recently gotten a play bug house for hrr birthday. While eating popcorn,her dad noticed an unpopped kernel that had a small split like a ladybug shell. Dad drew some spots on it with a magic marker, and the resulting “leggybugga” was well cared for in the bug house.

    6. Perpal*

      I think snakes are awesome pets (quiet! low maintenance! pretty!) but I am not currently having any. I used to breed them but had to divulge myself because life heated up so much I had zero time for hobbies (like, not enough time to sleep, barely exercise, muchless do anything else).
      I still want to have a snake or two again some day, but not the full operation. Kind of want a black headed python, but they are pretty big; a little nervous about having one of those and cats.
      Corn snakes are what I mostly had, but if I had them, I’d be way too tempting to get back into breeding again…

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Housemate has a fancy ball python named The Venerable Sir Charles the Second :)

    7. Ranon*

      Kind of a pet, kind of not, but we keep worms for composting and I joke they’re the best pet you can buy by the pound. My toddler loves feeding them and we get free waste disposal and free fertilizer out of it. It’s my little home science project.

    8. Reba*

      When I was growing up we had two rats. (immense improvement over the poor hamsters that preceded them.) Now I sometimes get tender feelings for the rats I see scuttling around my neighborhood, lol.

      My spouse had a fire salamander and some kind of tropical frog as a kid! I think he was very responsible and good with instructions even as a child.

    9. Chairman Meow*

      This is probably super cliche but it has been true since I was a kid and still is…Pokemon! If they existed, I would have a Pikachu and a Squirtle straight away.

      I went through a period as a kid where I would adopt the snails from my backyard, but I found them boring and eventually let them out again and just left them alone. One of the other kids on the street had a hermit crab.

    10. SAHM*

      I had bunnies. There were the family dogs, mom had parakeets, and my sister once had a pregnant cat so we got to have kittens for a short time. Bunnies are awesome though, such sweet little balls of fur, with their little bunny butts and sweet twitching noses, plus they are near constant producers of great compost material. I can’t have bunnies where I’m currently living bc it’s too hot for outside pets during the summer and I can’t handle indoor bunny smell. Currently I have two dogs and four cats and four small monsters.

      Fantasy pet: when I was a kid I wanted a pet dragon like in Wild Magic by Tamara Pierce.

      1. Angwyshaunce*

        I must point out that bunnies should always be indoor pets. They are highly susceptible to danger and disease when kept outside. They are also extremely social creatures. Keeping them locked up outside is actually cruel.

        Indoor bunnies shouldn’t smell, if they have a litter box and it is cleaned daily.

        No offense intended, just trying to battle the common misconception of bunnies being outdoor pets.

        1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

          I agree that rabbits (well, basically all pets that aren’t livestock) should be kept indoors, although if SAHM is in the UK there’s a bit of a culture difference at play too.

          I’m confused about the smell comment though. I’ve had rabbits and guinea pigs who were always indoor pets and they only ever had a fresh grassy hay smell. Whether I was using wood/paper bedding or cloth liners, the only time anything smelled bad was if I wasn’t keeping up with cage cleaning like I should be. As long as they have enough space and are kept clean, the only small animal habitat that smells like anything other than fresh bedding and/or food is male mice because they have that unavoidable musky boy smell.

    11. Tort-ally HareBrained*

      We have a small zoo- tortoise, rabbit, several bearded dragons, hedgehog and prairie dogs. I adore them all!

      Some days I think I’d want more lizards- chameleon or a red-eyed crocodile skink but then think we probably wouldn’t have time to truly enjoy or give high level of care. Beardies are easy by comparison.

      1. Not a cat*

        One dog, two cats, two rats, one guinea pig, one chinchilla, and one tarantula. The dog is mine, the rest belong to my housemate. Although I really like playing with all of them, except the spider.

      2. Grand Mouse*

        I’ve never heard of someone having prarie dogs! I would imagine they’d need a huge habitat. What is keeping them like?

        1. Tort-ally HareBrained*

          Like having toddlers that never learn to talk!

          But truly we have ours in a large multi-story ferret cage. They need more floor space than ferrets, but use tunnels. They like to shred paper and boxes. Eat lots of hay and quality rabbit pellets. And they are super social, but primarily bond only with their family. Not so good to introduce to friends/guests. They also need a fair amount of time out of the cage in a safe space- so toddler/chew proof. They are so lovable though and full of personality.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            The only thing I know about prairie dogs is that they’re a vector for bubonic plague in the US southwest. I imagine that’s not a problem for the ones raised in captivity right?

            1. Tort-ally HareBrained*

              So they actually aren’t a vector for the most part but the end victim. Most prairie dogs that contract the plague are dead within 72 hours. They just also get fleas.

              This does mean those in captivity are very unlikely to carry it, but like you can get it if mice/fleas in your region have it.

    12. Nicole76*

      I’ve had hamsters, mice, rats, bettas, a snail, and a toad once.

      I’d never do hamsters again since they prefer to be left alone. Mice are friendly but incontinent so interacting with them outside their cage was messy and smelly so I would never get them again either. My toad was found struggling in a public pool but wasn’t easy to care for, and I should have released her back into the wild. When my husband brought home a snapping turtle found in a warehouse there was no way I was keeping it after the toad experience. Plus they apparently grow to be huge!!!

      Now I have a dog and no other pets. I don’t want to divide my attention but I’d be open to having rats again. They’re like mini dogs personality wise but are expensive to care for if they get sick and they don’t live long enough.

    13. RMNPgirl*

      I really wish I could have bats as pets. I think they’re adorable and with the amount of mosquitoes in my backyard would be very beneficial!
      I also would love to have a cheetah. I love all cats, but they’re my favorite big cat.

      1. Llama Face!*

        Ooh I was going to say the same thing! I always had to exert massive self control not to try and pet the adorable little bats that would cling to the brickwork on the front of our house when I was a child.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I am thinking I need to put a bat house on the side of my chimney. We have so many bats here and it’s not uncommon for them to get to to the house. sigh.

    14. Smol Book Wizard*

      I have a little gray mousie whom I adopted on impulse as my going-away gift for myself when moving out of my ex-roommate situation… one of our many unfortunate differences was our opinions on Rodents. My little one was a returned-to-shop (not even the same shop, a different one) who is now homed, perky, loved, and afraid of nothing, either fingers touching his oh-so-soft fur or my dog obsessively staring at him from below at first.

    15. Llama Face!*

      Hmmm, pets I’ve had in childhood weren’t that unique: we had dogs, budgies, fish, rabbits (though those were food too), chickens, and a very noisy and ineptly sneaky guinea pig.

      As an adult I’ve only had various fish and aquatic snails since my rental agreement forbids most pets. I had to stop getting snails because I got too sad when they died. They have such fun personalities and no fear whatsoever. They even do things like climbing to the top of the tank and sailing on their foot back to the bottom just for fun!

      I once almost bought a sugar glider but the amount of care and attention they require is very high (they can actually die of sadness if too lonely) so I decided not to.

      So atm I just have some rather boring fish.

      For fantasy pets I would get an octopus and definitely have hand-raised bats. I’d also like a small snake. I once saw an albino corn snake that had pale purple and yellow scales and the sweetest looking deep red eyes (it looked like it had a nice personality) I wish I could have gotten it!

    16. Urdnot Bakara*

      i once had a bunch of green anole lizards. i caught them all myself in the wild (i was a kid so didn’t think this was a bad idea and my parents were fine with it, i guess). i probably had 6 at one time at the max. they lived a long time! we made our own terrarium out of an empty fish tank and fed them a bag of tiny crickets from petco a couple times a week. the lizards never escaped but the crickets sure did! after one of them died a few years later, i released the rest of them. i’ve never had other non-traditional pets except the occasional hermit crab.

    17. Fikly*

      I have gerbils! They are delightful (and unlike hamsters, they are desert creatures, so they drink/pee less so the cage gets less stinky).

      So far I have had 4 total and they have all had very different personalities. I am quite charmed by them, and they are lots of fun without needing a lot of effort to take care of them. Plus when I go on short trips, I can just give them some extra seeds and extra cardboard to chew up and I don’t need a pet sitter.

      1. Smol Book Wizard*

        I love gerbils. They were a family habit of ours for years. Such clever little creatures, and blissfully easy in the housekeeping department. My brother and I entertained ourselves and them for hours when we were kids, making mazes for them out of shoeboxes and tubes.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      In 1st grade, my daughter netted 3 tiny fish in a lake and talked me into setting up my old tank for them. So tiny you could see through them. Three fish became 2, became 1… and that aggressive little cannibal thrived. He grew up to be a yellow perch. He would jump at the surface of the tank when we dropped in bugs… and eventually when a house fly got in the room he would jump and catch them himself. We put a little night light near his tank and had no fruit flies for 2 years. The drawback was that his jumping made it hard to clean the tank, and that’s what finally did him in. He jumped to get away from me & the net and fell 3 feet.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        As for fantasy pets… I’d like a fire lizard from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books, and a thingamabob from Janet Kagan’s Mirabile stories. He’s an alien almost-bird, 3 ft tall, kind of like an oversized parrot with a prehensile tongue and possibly near-human intelligence. (I wish she’d had time to write more stories.)
        My daughter scares me saying she wants a tame basilisk.

        1. spiralingsnails*

          Fellow Janet Kagan fan here!!! :) Thingamabobs sound like tons of fun – as long as you don’t mind losing a bit of your hearing. ;)

    19. ThursdaysGeek*

      I know it’s too late for anyone to see this, but in addition to the normal cats and fish, I’ve had stick bugs, a tarantula, scorpions, and multiple black widows. The black widows are low maintenance, but the female can lay a fertile egg even when you’ve had her alone for some time. And she gets possessive when you need to pull out and destroy the egg sac. I’ve kept them in those old glass apple cider jugs, because an adult widow can’t climb the glass, so a lid isn’t needed.

  13. Foreign Octopus*

    Book thread!

    What’s everyone reading this week?

    I finished Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe; I’m so glad I read it, as it’s been sitting on my shelf for nearly a year. This does mean that I have to buy the following two novels though, which isn’t that much of a hardship.

    I’m currently reading Guardians of the Horizon, by Elizabeth Peters, an Amelia Peabody mystery.

    1. Femme d'Afrique*

      I love that you enjoyed Things Fall Apart. It was a set book when I was in high school (and was probably required reading for a good portion of the entire continent, actually). Such an important text, and I’m glad it’s still being read today, and outside of Africa too!

      I just finished The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog, by Elizabeth Peters. Absolutely love the Amelia Peabody series.

      I’m currently reading Trouble in Nuala, the first in the Inspector de Silva Mysteries by Harriet Steel.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I can see why it’s an important text! I really wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I loved how Chinua Achebe wrote it in the style of folklore, as though speaking the story to someone rather than writing it down. It was such an interesting look at the colonisation process from a point of view that Western literature doesn’t really focus on, so I’m glad I picked it up.

        The Amelia Peabody series is one of my biggest reading pleasures. I can’t remember how I found out about it, but I can’t imagine not knowing the story now!

        I haven’t heard of Inspector de Silva, but I’m going to look it up :)

      2. Clisby*

        I read it in college in the early 70s, and it was assigned to my daughter for freshman year in high school in SC. I would imagine it’s still being assigned.

          1. Femme d'Afrique*

            That warms my heart! <3

            Foreign Octopus, let me know what you think of the Inspector Silva series. I haven't gotten very far, but I'm enjoying it so far.

    2. Grace*

      It’s so funny you should mention the Amelia Peabody books today – it was only yesterday that I suddenly had the name of that series on the tip of my tongue and had to go google what I was thinking of! It turns out I’d read one of the most recent ones (released 2006) not long after it came out, and I did enjoy it, but being a pre-teen and not realising it was chronologically the last in a series made it a bit confusing in places.

      I’d be interested in picking that series up again, I think, and starting from the beginning – do you know if the ones from the 80s and 90s hold up well?

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I think they do actually. Amelia Peabody is a very feminist character and she’s surrounded by men and women who share those values in their own ways; her husband, Emerson, is a little loud but good at heart. If you’re worried that you’re going to come across some gross, outdated views, I’d say that you’ll be fine and should give the whole series a go. I’m not looking forward to the day when I finish it, and so I’m a little jealous that you get to start from the beginning.

        1. Grace*

          Sounds good! I’ll probably want to amass at least the first four or five before I begin, because I’m a completionist with no sense of delayed gratification, but I’ll trawl the second-hand book sites and track them down affordably. Are you reading them chronologically by release date or by the in-series chronology?

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            The release date and the in-series chronology dates with one exception, the book I’m reading now. The first ten are all in order but now I’m reading Guardian of the Horizon, which immediately follows number ten but was published sixteenth in the series. Not sure why, to be honest.

          2. Tort-ally HareBrained*

            My library had the entire series. Some were in paperback and others hardcover. I’d check out 3-4 at a time and when I started the last one, I’d request the next set.

            I’m pretty sure I learned about the series here and overall enjoyed it. I found I liked the earlier books better, so they definitely hold up just fine.

      2. Southern Metalsmith*

        They do make the transition well. I started reading these when they first came out and bought the new paperbacks as they came out. But at some point life intervened and I lost track and forgot about them.
        So a few years ago I was reminded of them and started over getting them as e-books. (And some are available for free – can’t remember where I found them, but it should be easy enough to Google.) I read all the way up to ‘The Painted Queen’. It had been announced, but not yet released.
        So thank you! for reminding me to finish this series!
        Also, there’s a pretty good article about these books on Wikipedia. It addresses how some of them are out of order and why. There is a good list of how they fit chronologically which includes publication dates.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          Thanks for that! I’ve reached the point in the series where a few books are out of order, and I’ve been struggling with which one to read next.

          What’s your opinion on The Painted Queen? I know that another author had to finish it because of the death of the author, but does it still read like the rest of them?

          1. Southern Metalsmith*

            That’s the thing. I stopped reading the series at that point to wait for it to come out and forgot about it! Pfffft. So, it’s next on my list. I’ll let you know!

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      Just bought the latest Justin Lee Anderson book The Lost War: Eidyn Book One – haven’t started yet but so looking forward to it as been counting days for its release :)

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I started The Library Book by Susan Orlean. It’s pretty good so far, but it’s much longer than I thought, and I have two others checked out that I thought I could get to…now I’m not sure!

    5. OhGee*

      I finally read The Power, by Naomi Alderman, and I’m about to read Severanve by Ling Ma. On deck after that, Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee and Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor. I’ve been on a speculative fiction/sci-fi/fantasy kick for the past few years, so these books all fit the pattern.

      I’m also pumped to have found a new-ish tiny, lovingly curated bookstore in the city where I work. It has a cafe/bar inside, and I’m excited to give it my business.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Power. It wasn’t what I expected, but I liked it a lot.

      2. Swiper*

        I just finished this yesterday. It was an interesting concept but I didn’t love the execution of it. I think maybe the treatment the Muslim women got was oversimplified and put me off it a bit. It wasn’t a terrible book by any means and I loved all of the characters and their unique viewpoints, though.

    6. GoryDetails*

      I’m enjoying Artemis by Andy Weir (author of the marvelous The Martian). I had been hesitant to start Artemis because I loved The Martian so much that I feared anything else would be tainted by comparison, but I’m glad I finally dipped in. Its feisty heroine is flawed but vastly entertaining, and I loved the detailed setup of a viable moon-base with tourism, manufacturing – and a spectacular smuggling sub-culture. (And as Weir made “Space Botany!” a key element of The Martian, he manages to make both welding and space-frontier-economics into fun plot-points.)

    7. Zombie Unicorn*

      I’m reading The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken. It’s… horrifying.

    8. bassclefchick*

      I realized I was a few books behind in the series, so I’m currently reading Dark in Death by J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts. I really love this series. Set in the near future and the main characters are Lt. Eve Dallas and her husband Roarke. The series is about the cases Eve solves as a homicide detective. If a murder mystery series can be “fun” and “light”, this is the one. And the two fictional men I’m head over heels in love with? Roarke and Jamie Frasier.

      1. MMB*

        I think the newest one comes out in January. Do you find that the quality of the writing varies from book to book?

        Just finished off three books in a fantasy series by DW Hawkins. Waiting for the fourth!

        1. bassclefchick*

          Personally, I think the quality has remained consistent. Though how she manages to churn out so many books in a year is beyond my comprehension!

    9. Jen in Oregon*

      I decided that this summer would be the summer that I finally read “Prodigal Summer” and I am about half way through it, really enjoying it, and wondering why I waited so long.

    10. Filosofickle*

      To combat a sad week, so I picked up The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. NGL, in parts it made me more sad because it’s a poignant story about loss and connection. But it’s also sweet and whimsical and just what I needed.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My light reading break is over and it’s time to get back to Bram Stoker. I’m trying to lay hands on a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery for my next foray into history of literature.
      My next light reading break will be Zelazny’s ‘Nine Princes in Amber’, which I inhaled in 9th grade and no longer remember.

    12. PhyllisB*

      I just finished The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. I loved it!! It’s about books, bookstores, and trivia. What’s not to love? I told my mother about it, and she said it sounds like it was written just for me!!

    13. MsChanandlerBong*

      I’m re-reading the Alex Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman. I’ve read a few of them, but long enough ago that I don’t remember what happened in each book. The early books have NOT aged well, and Kellerman appears to have trouble writing any character who isn’t a straight, white man. I’m hoping the later books are better in this regard.

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        I agree that the earlier books have not aged well. I am re-reading the Robert Tanenbaum series about Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi. Excellent lawyer thriller series, gritty and funny and fabulous dialogue. However you can only read until book #13. That’s when Tanenbaum lost his ghost writer (the fabulous Michael Gruber) and the books went straight downhill.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          That sounds like something I would like! I will start that series next. I just re-read the Scarpetta series, and I almost ran out of steam after book 12. It got SO bad for about six books, and then it improved. I don’t know if Cornwell used multiple ghostwriters or if she got tired in the middle, but I very nearly gave up on the series.

    14. NewReadingGlasses*

      I’m reading “The Abandonded” which I read as a kid. It about a boy that gets turned into a cat. I’ve just started it, and I hope it is like I remember. I’ve reread few few book I read as a kid and wondered if it is even the same book.

    15. The Other Dawn*

      I started Murder by Misrule by Anne Castle. It’s too early in the story to make a judgment, but it seems like it will be good. It’s a murder mystery that takes place in 1586 in England.

    16. Tara R.*

      I finished The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden. It was SO good. It’s a fantasy set in medieval Russia, full of folklore and magic and told sort of like a fairy tale. I got it from the library, but I’m definitely going to have to buy because I can’t wait to reread.

      Also read The Dragon Republic, the sequel to the Poppy War. I’m still processing how I felt about both books, to be honest. I was upset a lot while reading them, but they were certainly gripping.

    17. Just a Guy in a Cube*

      Recently finished The Sparrow (still very good), and The Raven Tower (which I thought was just fine, but I seem to be in the minority). Currently working on a biography of George Fox (interesting as a relatively new Quaker), How to Hide an Empire (recommend), and debating whether my next speculative fiction book will be some short stories, rereading Sofia Samatar’s Olondrian books, or something else.

    18. Southern Metalsmith*

      I just finished ‘Every Note Played’ by Lisa Genova. It’s a beautifully written and powerful book about a man dying of ALS and his ex-wife who becomes his caretaker.

    19. Claire*

      I’m re-reading Slow River by Nicola Griffith. She’s on my auto-buy list, whether she’s writing SF, historical fiction, mysteries, or contemporary. (I’d highly recommend her novella So Lucky.)

    20. LizB*

      Just finished The Etched City by K.J. Bishop — kinda fantasy, kinda western, kinda mystery, pretty bizarre in an enjoyable way. There’s a blurb on the back comparing it to Borges, and honestly I think it’s an apt comparison, in terms of the weirdness-presented-as-normal factor. Notes for quite a bit of violence, gore, sex, etc. I don’t think I’ll keep it (I’m trying to only keep books I’ll definitely want to re-read) but I did like it.

  14. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Due to being busy I got little done except some fanfiction, but it’s better than nothing.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Last week was such a good week for my writing, but this week I’ve hit a block in a short story. I’ve just killed the character and I know I need to bring him back, but I’m struggling with how to move from one point to the other. I know that I need to go back and read what I’ve already written because there problem is in the preceding bit, but I’m just lacking all sorts of motivation.

      And fanfiction writing is still writing!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oh man, I feel you! To be honest that is why I always have some fanfiction going on. It keeps me writing but takes my mind off the plot of another story – I find that sometimes helps. Kinda like going back to it with a pair of fresh eyes, I suppose.

    2. Best Cat in the World*

      I was feeling really good with my writing, I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and do some of it and felt like I’d suddenly cracked a bit of a block I’ve been having. I use Scrivener on my laptop and have started using it on my iPad. And then this morning I sync’d the work I’ve been doing while I’ve had no internet…. and it’s lost all of the changes and additions I’ve made this week. I’m absolutely gutted. It was only 3 or 4 little sections but I was so happy with them, not pleased that I’m going to have to do it all again :(

    3. D.W.*

      I finally started the outline for a children’s book manuscript that I’ve been thinking about for nine years. I have very little knowledge about how to write a children’s book but I must start some where.

    4. Claire*

      Onward and upward. I’m still on track for my (new) deadline for #pirates2.

      (And #pirates1 comes out on Tuesday. Yay!)

  15. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    No progress on Child of Light this week for me, but I did do some farming in Stardew Valley. I had a busy week and that’s just a great game to chill out with.

    1. Caterpie*

      Haven’t had much time to game but Elder Scrolls Online is free this weekend so I’m going to try that out. I’m not much of an MMO player and I didn’t like it when I beta tested it but it seems relatively popular so why not. The Town of Light is also something I’ve been curious about and it’s currently part of the cheapest tier of a humble bundle so I’ll probably pick that up too.

    2. Zephy*

      I’ve recently rediscovered the Nancy Drew PC game series. My mom and sister and I would sit at the computer together and play them when I was in middle/high school. I just replayed Secret of the Scarlet Hand. I’m not sure if I want to revisit a game I’ve played before or try a new one next, but I guess I have some time to think on it – I’m in Florida and we’re planning to pack up and get to a shelter this weekend in advance of Dorian.

    3. LDN Layabout*

      Dragon Age Inquisition on a second play through. I basically cut out all games a few (…many) years back and am starting to rediscover my happy places with them.

      September means a new SWTOR expansion as well, so all around excited for my escapism methods.

    4. SamDouglas*

      i’ve recently delved into Overwatch and am finding it much more entertaining than i expected. also taking another go at Diablo III with the husband. haven’t played Stardew in a while, but loved it when i did.

    5. Nicki Name*

      Made it into a whole new area in Sunless Skies. Also I think my new favorite character is The Inadvisably Big Dog.

    6. Smol Book Wizard*

      Perishing in Undertale repeatedly. My fellow had to help me out on 2 fights because I’m so bad at dodging. I’m doing the Pacifist route and… 20hp is simply not enough in this economy, and by this economy I mean “Undyne with spears.’

    7. Phoenix Programmer*

      I am enjoying no man’s sky.

      I bought at launch and was disappointed. They have really revamped and added to the game so i reinstalled it and am booked.

    8. Urdnot Bakara*

      loove stardew valley. i grew up playing the harvest moon games so it’s right up my alley. why are farming games so fun???

      i think i’ve posted this before but i got the urge to replay skyrim a few months ago. still working on it, trying to complete all the quest lines i’ve missed in the past. got all the daedric artifacts. completed the dark brotherhood questline which i’ve somehow never done before??? i’ve also never, ever chosen a side (empire/stormcloaks) because they both suck but i’m gonna make myself do it this time. i’m just saving it for last.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I don’t think I’ve ever finished the main question Skyrim to be honest XD.
        And yeah, the civil war really needed a “fluff both your factions” faction in my opinion – kinda like how you can take over New Vegas in Fallout: New Vegas.

    9. Lissa*

      I’ve been playing the new Fire Emblem a whole bunch, an embarrassing number of hours really! It scratches that itch for something tactical but not too difficult, and with a lot of character interaction (you can build “support” between different allies and at a certain point they will have conversations and then be better when they fight next to each other). I have to go back to work full time next week so I’ll have to slow down on it, but it’s been a fun few weeks!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, really eyeing that game. Might even buy it before even getting a Switch XD. And while I like the change from “only certain characters for whom it makes sense can have support” to “everyone can have supports with everyone”, I did question that decision when I was reading a conversation about how rhubarb keeps you pooping regularly (Chrom and Sumia in Awakening, if memory serves).
        Also not sure which Switch I want to get. I’d probably use it as a handheld more but if JoyCon drift is also a thing on the Lite I’ll probs just get that new redesign because then I don’t have to take the entire thing apart to fix a relatively simple issue.

    10. Gatomon*

      Got sick this week and fell off the BotW wagon. I have some errands to run today and then I think I will fire it up and see what progress I can make.

      Also not much progress with Cities:Skylines either. Being sick really kind of ruins everything, and I ended up working through it out of guilt since I had scheduled a long weekend for the holiday, so my recovery has been slow.

    11. Raia*

      My friend was in town this week so we went out nearly every night and played board games! Played 5 games of Wingspan and some Dice Throne.

      Sadly she has left town already, so I’ve been playing Fire Emblem. For some reason though, post time skip is not doing it for me. I will probably start a new save of Stardew or Breath of the Wild tonight.

    12. Nope!*

      My son got me started on Firewatch and I am almost done with all the achievements in Katamari Damacy Reroll.

    13. Cruciatus*

      I am not much of a gamer, but I think I want to try a new game but need advice. I tend to like things of the “lighter” variety. This week I remembered one of my favorite games from the ’90s, Day of the Tentacle. That was my type of game–does anyone have any recommendations for a similar type of game? I don’t know if it’s specifically the point-and-click aspect or just the ridiculous (but fun) story line for that game that I enjoyed–but I played that over and over. But with that said, does anyone have any recommendations that sound up my alley?

      I do know they remastered it and maybe one day I’ll buy that, but for now I’d rather spend money on a new one.
      There’s only a few games I’ve really enjoyed that I can think of and they are DOTT, Monkey Island, and Spyro (from the original Playstation)! (Oh, and Marble Madness on an actual floppy disk!) I’m a little behind the curve with what’s new these days. I’d prefer something that doesn’t require a new gaming console if possible, but I could always borrow one from my sister who seems to have them all.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        If you haven’t played Grim Fandango yet, that’s also a good one. There’s also Thimbleweed Park, which even tried to recreate the old Monkey Island feel but with a Twin Peaks-y storyline, if I recall correctly.
        There’s currently also a bit of a platformer revival, with the Banjo-Kazooie remakes, Spyro remastered and new ones like Yooka-Laylee and Snake Pass (in which you play a snake so instead of running and jumping you have to wind your body around everything. You do have the help of a hummingbird to lift up your tail if necessary).
        What consoles do you have? That might help narrow things down a bit.

      2. Purt’s Peas*

        I second Thimbleweed Park. I had a lot of fun with Return of the Obra Dinn—it’s really cool, you solve a mystery in a way I’ve never seen before.

        Grim Fandango is nigh unplayable, it’s so hard to move around or do anything, unfortunately.

        Night In The Woods is a great story game that I still think about.

    14. Isabekka*

      I am throughly enjoying ‘My Time at Portia’. It’s a bit like stardew valley but you build rather than farm. That said there is an option to increase the land you own and add farming. Lots of quests. Really now that I think about it more like an rpg but with building and farming.

  16. Charlotte*

    Just feeling so utterly pathetic right now.

    I was doing some research and found a way to save around $20 from my monthly utilities bill, and was feeling pretty good about it. Then I went on social media to find one of my friends announcing her engagement (alongside a selection of photos from their recent holiday abroad), and another announcing the birth of her first child. We’re all around the same age.

    And there I was, feeling happy about saving a few bucks off a power bill.
    So. Pathetic.

    1. TimeTravelR*

      Don’t compare your journey to others! Please! I used to do this a lot too, and still sometimes get caught up in it because we are only human after all. But honestly everyone’s got their own burdens to bear… trust me!
      I get how easy it is to fall into it… but I presume I am a lot older than you and having been down that road, I can guarantee you it’s not one you want to go down If you are unhappy with something in your life, ask yourself what you can really do to change it. Not all of it, just one thing. And then do that. Sometimes there is nothing you can do about certain aspects though and that has to be ok too.
      I was actually intrigued by your finding a way to save $20 a month on your power! Cuz that’s how I roll! (I recently did the same thing with my mobile phone bill and I am still excited about that! LOL)

    2. Each on our own train*

      Social Media and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ can make us feel small as we keep comparing. Remember, you are all not on same train going to same destination….

    3. Shiny Carvanha*

      Yesterday and the day before I was feeling very sad about being divorced. Even though my ex husband was abusive and not a very nice person. And then j remembered that at least I’m free from him, even if being a divorced single parent with depression is no fun.

      So, I know it utterly sucks when other people’s lives appear to be perfect.

      I could echo the others and say please don’t compare yourself. But I know it’s not that simple. But I think it’s ok to be proud of saving yourself some money. $20 a month saved means you’ll be much better off than the friend who’s had a kid, or the friend who’s getting married! ;)

    4. Bibliovore*

      It’s all about comparing our insides with other people’s outsides. Good for you finding a way to save money. I would throw you a parade as dealing with the everyday is the hardest thing ever! Remember and savor your triumph.

    5. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Re: engagement: you’re only seeing their happy outsides; you’re not privy to knowing whether they’re in debt from borrowing money for a wedding, whether their engagement is already on the rocks (2 friends’ fancy weddings I saw on fb? Both divorced within a year, and in one case, the ex cheated and gave her an infection leading to cancer (she’s in remission). In the other case, she and her ex lived in an uncle’s basement because they spent rent money on their wedding.

      My wedding? The night before, hubs and his mom got in a heated argument after dinner (his granddad covered). She refused to dance with him at our wedding for mom/son dance bc she suddenly decided she hated being on display. She contributed nothing to the wedding except her melancholy and he cried all the car ride back to the hotel, that night before. It was the one thing he wanted and it. Crushed. Him. He told me not to tell her bc she’s dealing with her own stuff…

      Re: birth of 1st child: you don’t know if the baby was born premature or if people had previous losses. Or maybe it’s a happy healthy baby. Babies are nice, but so, so, SO expensive in time, resources, energy.

      Be happy for them both but realize it’s their outsides.

      1. Jule*

        This strikes me as…pretty mean, actually! It’s okay for other people to be happy. Not everyone is secretly miserable when they post about joyous occasions in their lives. Charlotte / OP, it sounds like you’re doing great and I hope you can take some of the lessons against comparison in this thread to heart, even though I know it can be so hard!

        1. Quest*

          I can understand why you found it mean, though what I took from Carmen’s post is this message: everyone has both ups and downs which they may or may not share with the world at large — their lives are neither completely perfect, nor — the other extreme — are they secretly miserable while posting happy things.

          1. Jule*

            That’s generous of you! We should all try to be more generous in thoughts about others’ intentions, certainly.

    6. Jemima Bond*

      Oh I absolutely sympathise; I have been totally prone to thinking the same way at times. Like looking at someone’s pics of their gorgeous sunny beach holiday and thinking I am such a failure I live in a flat and can’t even sit in the garden! Comparing oneself to others is one of the most harmful yet difficult to stop doing of all things.
      I find it helpful firstly to remind myself that it’s not a competition, nobody is keeping score, and most of all that someone getting married, having a baby, buying a lovely home, travelling to Barbados etc doesn’t make it any less likely that I could do any of those things one day, should I do wish. The “luck” isn’t being used up!
      I also find it helpful, not to sound terribly twee, to “count my blessings” – I mean, to mentally list the ways in which I feel lucky and even enviable. From the deep to the trivial! Such as, I have lovely friends who would be supportive in and crisis and pleased to get together for fun things; I am safe and warm with a roof over my head and this comfy bed to sleep in/sofa to sit on, I am strong and healthy, I have not run out of milk, I have a pair of teal velvet slingback shoes…

    7. Lehigh*

      I’m sorry you’re feeling that way.

      I don’t know if it helps or is off-topic, but I’m expecting my first child and feeling pretty pathetic myself. I have Labor Day off and desperately wish I could enjoy it. I’m tired enough to sleep all day, but I’m nauseated almost all the time, and naps usually lead to throwing up. (As does eating normally…as does overexertion…you get the picture.)

      I would be psyched to save $20 a month on my utilities, and I’d be even more psyched to feel like a normal, healthy human again.

      I don’t want to minimize how you feel, especially if you’re wishing that your relationship & parenting status were different. But I think the day-to-day reality of even good things can be kind of a drag compared to the social media image.

    8. StellaBella*

      Not pathetic at all! You are saving 240$ a year which is enough for a nice weekend away in a lot of places. It is enough for a nice new sewing machine or drill, a lot of books, a cool blender or a couple of nice massages….It is good to use to pay of a bit more each month of any bills you may have. It is a lot of money. Right now, I am having to live on about $35-40 a week in groceries, am learning to save a lot this way – my work hours got cut in half last month and while I am looking for a new job, it is difficult to find one. So – celebrate your savings and think of what you can do with it in 6 months or a year maybe? :)

      1. LibbyG*

        And $20/month is almost $5 grand in 20 years; more smart changes like that and you’re up to five digits.

        It sucks to feel so deflated. I hope you can reclaim your good feelings about this coup and managing your affairs well in general. Might it be helpful to dedicate that $20 (and maybe more) to something that highlights the ways you’re moving forward in life? Like, retirement saving, bucket-list trip, high-quality expensive item that brings you joy every day?

    9. londonedit*

      We’re all allowed to celebrate the small things! Big things like marriage and babies only happen very infrequently, if at all – it’s the small things in life that make every day interesting. Saving money, growing a plant, reading a great book, discovering a new song, cooking something delicious, finding a lovely new café…no, these things aren’t earth-shattering life events but they’re still things to enjoy and to be pleased by!

    10. Buffy*

      Charlotte – please don’t judge yourself compared to others. Most of our daily lives are pretty darn boring. I mean, super boring. You found a way to save $20 on your monthly utilities. I got off work a couple hours early yesterday. This is normal life. Those major life events like engagements and new babies happen rarely. You saw one moment in their lives that was exciting but that doesn’t mean their lives are overall more exciting than yours. Go congratulate both couples, wish them well, and tell them you know how to save $20 on utilities every month. One couple has a wedding to pay for, the other, nappies. $20 is $20.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You should always find joy and excitement in your life. It doesn’t matter if it’s small compared to others big events. Life shouldn’t be a competition between friends.

      I’m sorry you’re feeling deflated. I would look at it as you’re saving money and they’re now spending a whole lot more with their adventures.

    12. Parenthetically*

      Well, first of all, you’re not pathetic, you’re just in a different place than they are, which is just the most neutral normal thing, and it’s awesome to save money on a bill — it shows you’re smart and resourceful and wise. But also, I definitely sympathize with the tendency to compare and envy. One of my affirmations this next month is “I am in the right place; my journey is my own and no one else’s; there is joy and sorrow on every path.”

      Sending you light.

    13. Wishing You Well*

      CELEBRATE the small things! They’re sweet and uncomplicated like a piece of candy. We could all use more mental sweetness in our lives.
      Weird thought: what if social media was invented by Big Pharma to sell anti-depression meds? I’m not serious, but some days, it seems like that’s what’s happening. Maybe don’t look at social media on bad days. It can wait for a better time. Do something that cheers you up instead.
      And, yes, I’d LOVE to learn how you found a way to save $20/month on your utility bills. I think that’s great!

    14. bigX*

      We have a show in the US called ‘Teen Mom’ and literally anyone over 18 can go off and get married. They are just things millions of people do on different timelines.

      So if you want those things for yourself, you can have them but I would assess why it’s making you feel so bad. Is this just FOMO or an actual desire for marriage and/or kids?

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Well, then I can sit on the pathetic bench with you. I so enjoy it when I figure out how to save some money I often get excited over saving $10 or $2o.

      Keep the habit of looking for ways to save money as it will serve you very well over time.

      You know you are going apples to oranges here, right? Your $20 savings in not truly something you can compare with a wedding or a baby. It’s two different things totally. Your comparing a budgeting win to a life event. We do not have daily life events and I am pretty grateful for that actually. Budgeting wins can come up a lot more often and I wish they would come up even more often.

      But rather than talk you away from this, I would encourage you to go right into it. Confront it head on. These friends are basically reminding you that you privately feel you need to up your game. So how about setting a longer term goal for yourself, figuring out the steps to reach that goal and then going for it? I am not talking about a spouse/baby goal, I am talking a general life goal of your own. What do you think is a reasonable goal that you can start aiming for this week?

      Sometimes people remind us to do more or be more and initially this can be annoying or depressing. But you know what? It IS OKAY to want more out of life. That is pretty healthy, normal and good stuff. Start looking around, what would you like to do that you can start working on pretty soon?

      1. Baru Cormorant*

        Agreed. Marriage and children are life choices, not achievements we all have to meet in order to unlock the “adult” phase of our life.

    16. Nana*

      And this is why I’ve read that people who spend a lot of time on social media tend to be more depressed that those who don’t! Please don’t compare your journey with that of anyone else…Hurrah for you, saving on your utility bill!

  17. greenthumb*

    Pokémon Go thread. First a big thanks to you loyal people for the great PoGo postcards from all over the world. This has been a very sad month IRL, so pursuing possessed bulbasaurs and such has been a helpful distraction.

    How are you folks doing with the new quest? Hopefully with the water event over now, the psychic and metal Pokémon types will return (so stuck on that step). How about the Rocket Grunt battles? Any battle combos to recommend? I finally realized Lugia would do pretty well against the dratini/xx/snorlax combo. Also survived a triple Snorlax battle but couldn’t catch the darn Snorlax. :-p

    1. Shiny Carvanha*

      There were no bloody whismuirs anywhere for days!! Finally one spawned yesterday.

      I have had the spinda task for a full week now I think and I am fine doing four stupid curveballs in a row but just cannot do five. It’s driving me crackers.

      I’m sorry you’re having a sad month. Me too.

        1. Shiny Carvanha*

          Tauros not available in Europe (I have a couple from when regionals were in eggs). I’m messing it up consistently on the fifth shot, it’s maddening.

          I am excited about the possibility of unown in eggs!! About to drop money on a box so I can get through as many eggs as possible.

          1. greenthumb*

            Whatwhatwhat? Unown in eggs? Dang, glad I’ll have enough for the big box once someone is booted out of a gym today lol. Being in the pacific I have gobs of pink Shellos and Corsola but don’t see the cool stuff the rest of you do. Wish we could do long-distance trading!

          2. greenthumb*

            Oooh, if you have the “evolve 3 carvanha/ barboach” task in queue, it (spoiler) yields a feisty blastoise. You can probably get the curveballs done using only the basic ball and skipping berries.

            For that matter, if you’re not already trying it, do some tasks that yield large-ish Pokemon and walk away. Then you can use a string of those to try to streak. No risk of missing the ‘mon you’ve earned, because research rewards are a guaranteed catch. This from the person who threw an excellent curveball on my last blastoise … and it hopped right out. Thanks to your post, I’m gonna save it in case I get a Spinda quest.

            1. Shiny Carvanha*

              I was excited when I got the blastoise! Nice big circle, guaranteed catch, red circle…. it stayed in on the first bloody (normal) pokeball.

    2. GingerNinge11*

      It’s going to take me ages to get enough Feebas candy to evolve one. I got 20 candies during the water event, but now it’s over and it’s back to 5km per candy.

      1. GingerNinge11*

        I did two raids yesterday and got four rare candies. It helped! If I could find a Feebas raid that would help a lot!

        1. greenthumb*

          Thought of you when I soloed an Onix raid yesterday. It gave me 5 candies. *faints* So maybe look for Onix raids? Soloed a Piloswine earlier, supposedly the easiest Tier 3 to solo, and it was much tougher. Gave 2 candy tho. (I’m stuck with mostly trying raid solos, darn geography.)

    3. Cruciatus*

      I’m kicking myself because it took me forever to get 3 great throws in a row for the thousand year slumber special research…and the next task is “catch 50 steel and electric type pokemon” and…steel includes slowpokes…which just went away when water fest ended. Argh! So I’m at maybe 3. I have a friend who can give me a box of Meltan so that’ll help, but it’s still going to be slow going. I should have looked ahead to see what the next tasks were, but I guess it still would have taken me a long time to get the 3 great throws.

      1. Shiny Carvanha*

        It’s steel and psychic, if that makes it any better? I’m finding an awful lot of psychics around. Although I’m in the UK so clearly where you are might be different?

        1. greenthumb*

          I have been seeing 1-2 slowpokes a day. Being on an island, I was slammed with magikarp during the fest. Also barboach and caravanha. Got a perfect IVs caravanha, but still no shiny. And the research breakthroughs did not yield a Kyogre, which I’ve been craving, so whoever here has that shiny as a walking buddy, thank you. It’s so pretty to look at.

          Oh for metal, remember that Aron counts.

          As for the Switch, does the new mini coming out shortly (much cheaper) support the game you need in order to get the Mystery Box?

          1. Shiny Carvanha*

            I got the shiny Carvanha, hence the name :) I have been stupidly lucky with shinies the last couple of months.

        2. Cruciatus*

          Derp, I knew it was psychic but my fingers typed electric. I’m finding more psychics for sure–spoink, exeggcute. I’m now up to ….5. Sigh…

    4. Southern Metalsmith*

      Hi friend. (Zeomom here). I’m sorry you’ve been sad – sending East coast hugs if you’ll take them .
      I have yet to find a Team Rocket stop with a Snorlax! But I do find Glaceon is strong against Dratini. I’m going to keep Lugia in mind for next time. Otherwise I’ve been almost exclusively using Slaking and Gyarados in rocket stops to good effect.
      I’m stuck on evolve a Feebas. I would have thought a water festival would have featured all the fish, but, no, not one Feebas. So I’m walking.
      I’m having trouble keeping up with gifts to friends – that special with gifts dropping from every pokestops really spoiled me! But I just think it is so cool to have this connection with people all over the world that I’ll never meet, wouldn’t know if they ran slap dab into me on the street. I try not to open a gift until I have one to send back. That helps me keep it straight.
      And tomorrow between 18:00 and 19:00 for Rayquaza raids – last raid hour for this one. Fingers crossed for a shiny!

      1. greenthumb*

        Thank you. Hugs appreciated and welcomed.

        Fingers crossed for Rayquazas for all tomorrow, and hopefully my first ever. Have won battles 2x but can’t catch that ‘mon, tho oddly enough the ex raid pass the second battle yielded got me a speed deoxys, and I thought those fled more frequently?

        As for the special “ultra” egg thingy starting on the 2nd, do we know if 10k eggs gathered before then can be held and hatched during that week?

        1. Southern Metalsmith*

          I’m going to go with probably not. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere and it also has been my experience that eggs have their contents specified when you get them. Which should mean any 10k eggs you get during the event that haven’t hatched by the end of the week should still have the specials in them to be hatched later.

          Three more days of Pokemon in gyms and I’ll have enough coins to get the adventure box with all the incubators. (I sure hope it’s still available!)

          1. Shiny Carvanha*

            They might take it down for a day but they’ll release something else that’ll have tons of incubators. (I hope!!)

        2. Shiny Carvanha*

          Southern metalsmith is correct: only the eggs you get between the times it’s on can contain unown. But if you get an unown egg, it will still be that even if you don’t hatch it until December.

          Before Wednesday I had done two mesprit raids and both had fled. In the raid hour I did six raids but only caught three. Terrible catch rate but at least I have some now!

          1. greenthumb*

            Wowee on your Wednesday haul!

            As for the eggs, it sounds like a strategic timed emptying of the 9 spaces is in order for tomorrow. Does that blasted Gible drop in eggs for 50k? If not, gonna go with the usual 9 egg spots full until after the 9 am weekly rewards drop and then #hatchemalltocatchemall lol

  18. Loopy*

    Not sure if there’s any advice for this or I just need to vent. I am an avid Instagram user for following bakers/baking accounts. I like it just fine because I curate exactly what I see on my feed. However, lately they’ve moved to a model where people can pay to promote their accounts like ads I guess. Someone else’s account just shows up as sponsored post (like an ad). If this correlated AT ALL with my interest it would be fine… except it doesnt.

    I am SO tired of seeing perfect-life mom posts and perfect-body fashion influencer posts. Suddenly my an online happy place is increasingly unhealthy for me and I’m really sad about it. All of these accounts are carefully curated to show gorgeous happy lives/bodies. I like my life and I understand this doesn’t *actually* reflect perfect lives at all but I am still getting so so so so sick to my stomach seeing this pushed at me. And it’s a lot! The frequency is really annoying.

    I doubt it would have *any* effect but I really want to write Instagram and be like you’re ruining your platform for me- majorly. It’s becoming annoying *at best*. My account is 100% baking posts and all baking in terms of who I am following. I get that “ads” are a necessary evil but you can’t even send me food accounts?!

    Anyone else use the platform and sympathize?

    1. cat socks*

      When you see one of those ads show up, you can click the dots on the top right and click “Hide Ad” or “Report Ad”. There’s also a selection for “About Instagram Ads” but I’ve never clicked on it.

      Most of the ones that show up in my feed are related to pets, because I have an IG for my cats. But it would certainly be annoying to have stuff show up that is not related to your interests!

      1. Loopy*

        THANK YOU! I had no idea and this seems to be helping already. I’m really very pleased I wont have to change my usage! I dont mind ads in this sense because it leads me to new baking accounts I’m often happy to follow (even local bakeries in other states can be fun and interesting even if I can never visit), I just really dont want to see certain types!

      2. purple otter*

        +1, hide the ad or report it.

        For a while I had all these sponsored ads about maternity clothes and yay pregnancy and what not because 5 of my girlfriends that I follow on IG were pregnant and all due around the same time. I was not that demographic – I had been recently dumped, seeing those ads were intensely painful and reminded me what I just lost and wouldn’t have. So I had to hide all those ads and add more accounts that were plants or nature photography to mess with IG’s algorithms. Thankfully the ads they now show me are either travel or regular clothes/jewelry.

    2. Jellyfish*

      Definitely! My Instagram is carefully curated to be cute animals and nature photography. I’ve noticed an irritating change in the ads too :(

      1. PharmaCat*

        Yep! My IG feed is my family and crafting. The Noom ads alone are enough to make me crazy.

      2. Loopy*

        I started marking them as not relevant and I’m cautiously optimistic, though for me there were sponsored posts every 3-4 posts which was a LOT. I would tolerate it better scaled back too.

    3. Bilateralrope*

      Well they are owned by Facebook, who have always been terrible at targeting ads at me.

    4. KL*

      My thought is that baking accounts probably aren’t paying to promote in general, so the algorithm is showing you what it thinks is similar. My account is mostly art related, and all the extra promoted accounts have mostly been artists, who seem to think paying to promote is a good idea. It’s better than getting stuff I’m not interested in I guess, but I’d rather not have all this art I don’t like. Some ads are two in a row. I agree, it’s awful.

      I think there was an update back in June that started these extra promoted ads. My like count seriously dropped around that time too and so did a bunch of other artists.

      There’s probably an app that can block instagram ads on your phone, maybe look into that? Or a firefox add-on?

      1. Loopy*

        That’s a good point. Its probably hard to find baking accounts that are sponsored. Yes, I noticed my posts weren’t reaching as many people at all, I really don’t have much of a following so I noticed. I really felt the changes hard, which is sad.

  19. KG*

    I *think* this counts as non-work-related, but I’m not sure.

    My husband and I are both white collar professionals. We’re happily non-monogamous. We just moved from a very large city to a very small college town. In a large city, it’s easy to remain anonymous and never run into people you meet. Here, it strikes me as not-so-easy. (The closest city is over an hour away.) We both work in professions where this kind of thing being popularly known would have a negative impact on our reputations. We’re both stumped about how to navigate this with the least risk to our professional lives. Any ideas?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Honestly, probably in the nearest city over an hour away. It’s just too hard to keep sexual/romantic/relationship stuff secret in a small town, particularly if you’re actively seeking out new partners.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yup. If you start fishing in the town pond, people will know. Academics are a gossipy hive.

      2. Agnodike*

        One of the adjustments when I moved from a big city to a small town was making changes to my social life. For us the biggest city was two hours away, which meant spouse and I reorganized our going-out budget from spontaneous Friday nights out to mini-breaks in the city. We went out less frequently, but there’s a kind of semi-glamorous feeling to getting out of town that we actually really enjoyed! If you and your husband tend to keep your dating lives separate, you could trade off weekends away, or if you like more closeness around that part of your relationship, you could plan dates (separately on the same weekend or together, depending on your preference) and go up together, maybe see a museum or something together too.

        Or your town might surprise you. In our small town there were a LOT of not-secret secrets, and a little cross-pollination among married couples was far from uncommon and definitely accepted. Most of our friends (mostly 30s, government or other knowledge workers) were accepting of and/or participants in non monogamous relationships. So it might be the case that word will immediately get around but that no one will care.

      3. tamarack and fireweed*

        I now live in a small-ish college town (depends on what you call small – not THAT small, but small enough that it’s normal to know people several ways and run into the same group of people in what should be wildly different venues, plus the next larger city is 400 miles away). Before that I lived in European capitals with millions of people. I very much enjoy the reduced anonymity, though I see the risk, and it also means I’m out (lesbian married to another woman) more widely than I ever was. There are non-monogamous people that I know of and that overlap with my circles. As far as I’m aware, they, too, are more out. It’s hard not to know these things. It has advantages (hiding is detrimental) but obvious risks, and how large they are is a matter of the local cultural parameters, and your judgement.

    2. Anon Librarian*

      In small towns:

      1) It doesn’t take much to stand out.

      2) People gossip more because there aren’t as many other things to do.

      3) The opinions people form can have a huge impact on your housing options, employment options, even things like medical care and how you’re treated by the local police. Everything.

      I like small towns and rural life in theory, but that can be a tough one. Even in really liberal small towns with visitors and temporary residents from other places. It’s not really about people’s views; it’s just the population size.

      So be careful.

      On the other hand, there’s a really caring side to rural life. People will help neighbors who are struggling even if they’re not friends. My friend has been homeless in a small town for years and she’s always had a couch to sleep on. There’s a lot of good about it, but I’d consider the risks and benefits of your options, and what’s important to you in the long run.

      1. Small Town Suzy*

        Agree with Anon Librarian. In small towns people have to live with each other no matter how well they get to know each other. So: (1) Your friends/colleagues will eventually figure out you’re non-monogamous, because small town AND (2) they will have a live & let live attitude, because small town IF (3) you keep this part of your life completely separate from your social and work life in the town. The nearest city is probably too close, as everyone is will be going there for various errands/events and may also have friends there. Better to go to the nearest metropolis. If it’s 3-4 hours away, think of that as a feature not a bug.

    3. Public Facing Librarian*

      I am in a small town after a life time in the Big City. I can’t go anywhere without running into someone who is “in my business.” For the most part that isn’t a negative. Sometimes its stomach turning. I shared about the board member’s public ire with my work last spring. Still dreading seeing this person at community events. Last night when I was out to dinner, I ran into someone I had to let go. Not sure I will ever get used to this.

  20. Bilateralrope*

    Does anyone have any suggestions for podcast playing devices ?

    My work is 12 hour shifts where I’m mainly waiting for something to happen (while being a visible deterrent), so I listen to a lot of podcasts. The iPod I’ve been using for a few years now has a damaged screen from me dropping it a bit too often, so it’s time to replace it before it fails completely. Also iTunes is misbehaving, where some downloads are repeating, or worse missing, large chunks of the file.

    An app for my android smartphone is an option. Though it needs to be one that can download podcasts over my home wifi to play at work. I dont want to pay for enough mobile data to stream them and wifi at work isn’t an option.

    But I would prefer a seperate device with no recording capability.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        A seperate device that has a camera and/or microphone is not a useful option. I might as well use my current phone.

        I’ve worked at sites where nobody is allowed to bring any unauthorized recording devices. On such sites, I might be able to get my personal phone approved due to my job. I’ve got no chance of getting a second phone approved.

        But they wont object to an mp3 player. With no camera or microphone, it cant record anything they want to keep secret.

    1. Grace*

      I use the Podbean app for my smartphone – it’s super easy to download new episodes of things you follow (I think if you subscribe to something it automatically downloads new instalments, although you have to manually download the back catalogue) and I use it all the time when I’m walking places and don’t want music but also don’t want to waste my data. You can also really easily delete downloads once you’ve listened to them, so it doesn’t eat up all your storage.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Google Podcasts will allow you to download and save to your phone. I usually download several episodes at home, no data necessary.

      Barring that, why not buy a new iPod?

      1. Bilateralrope*

        Buying a new ipod means sticking with iTunes to manage downloads. The times it screws up the download, say by repeating the first half hour of a podcast or missing the middle 45 minutes, I’ve checked the files on my computers hard drive. It’s itunes screwing up. Redownloading the file fixes it, so it’s a download problem.

        Add in Apple ending support for iTunes on some platforms and I think I’ll avoid Appke products. Uncertinaty of support and managing to be the only program to screw up downloading files is not a good combination.

        Well, unless there is the option to use some other software to manage downloads from a windows computer.

    3. Zephy*

      I use the app PocketCasts on my Android phone, and downloading on home wifi to listen elsewhere (usually in the car) is how I do podcasts, too. There’s a free version with banner ads at the bottom of the screen, the paid version is like a dollar or something.

    4. Ranon*

      I use pocketcasts on an Android phone and like it a lot, it has good organization for auto downloading (on wifi or not), good playback control, etc. It also has a web interface, although I’m not sure about downloads from that version. Overall it’s a solid product though.

      You could pick up a cheap Android phone on swappa and just not put a sim card in if you’re wanting a separate device?

    5. Texan In Exile*

      I download mp3s of podcasts to my Sansa thingy. It’s small and it has a clip that lets me attach it to my sports bra while I run. When the clip breaks – which is inevitable, it’s small enough to tuck into the bra.

      The challenge is finding podcasts that actually have downloadable mp3s.

      And I have downloaded podcasts (using my home network) to my phone to listen to in the car. But again, they have to be in mp3 form.

    6. HamlindigoBlue*

      I use the Stitcher app for podcasts and download content via wifi. Google Play Music also has podcasts available, but only for Android. It supports content download for offline listening too.

      1. noahwynn*

        This is what I do as well. Stitcher app on my iPhone, it’s available on Android as well. You can download your favorites over WiFi and then listen to them later. I use that feature just to save my cellular data and listen in my car on the way to/from work.

        Also, before I purchased an Apple Watch earlier this year, I used an iPod Nano when I ran. I had to replace it last year and was able to find a similar model on eBay for $50. You’d still be tied to iTunes with that though.

    7. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I use podcast addict on my android. It is very easy to download episodes with it.

      1. LizB*

        This is also the app I use, and I like it. It does like to crash/stop playing if I’m doing too much else on my phone while it’s playing, though.

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      If your podcasts are available as mp3s that you can download as files, then picking up a cheap mp3 player seems like the way to go. My local Fred Meyer stopped selling them a couple of years ago (I picked up several on clearance, because I like having a cheap music player that I don’t worry about being stolen), but it looks like there are a variety of cheap options on Amazon still.

      Mine looks like it’s probably the “Craig CMP1230F 4 GB MP3 Player with Display” when I look at the pictires on Amazon, but I honestly wouldn’t get that one specifically over another one. Also, I think it technically has a microphone that can be used for recording voice memos (which I’ve never used – I have a much nicer audio recorder that I’d be using if I wanted to record myself talking) so you’d want to check the feature list on whichever one you ended up buying to make sure it didn’t have anything of the kind.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Almost all (all?) podcasts are .mp3 downloads. A podcast RSS feed just says the episodes available (e.g., title of episode, show notes, etc.) and has a link to the .mp3 file to download.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I sometimes have a hard time finding a download link. I think some podcasters assume everyone will be somehow listening online.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            It’s not meant for a human to easily discover. It’s meant for RSS readers to be able to parse electronically. But, yes, an RSS feed is just an XML-formatted text file that says “Here’s a new episode with some information about the episode and a link to the .mp3 download of the episode.”

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              This is what part of it looks like… again, not meant for humans to look at, but there are clear links to .mp3 files.

              <rss version=”2.0″><channel><atom:link href=”https://feeds.megaphone.fm/HSW2108393204″ rel=”self” type=”application/rss+xml”/><title>Ask a Manager</title><link>https://www.askamanager.org/</link><language>en</language><copyright/><description>Need expert advice on handling workplace dilemmas and dramas? Alison Green, founder of the popular website AskAManager.org, is here to help you resolve your toughest, most frustrating, or just plain weirdest work predicaments. Each week, she takes calls and talks directly with listeners about how to successfully tackle clueless coworkers, toxic bosses, impossible employees, crazy clients, and much more. Learn more at AskAManager.org and subscribe now! </description><image><url>https://megaphone-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/podcasts/d500fbd6-5f6d-11e8-867b-03b17095bf6b/image/uploads_2F1547087193951-bl1nmt9oai8-56fd40fb5d8da76a90a30ad393adc45e_2FAskAManager-Logo-iHR-FINAL-3000×3000.jpg</url><title>Ask a Manager</title><link>https://www.askamanager.org/</link></image><itunes:type>episodic</itunes:type><itunes:subtitle/><itunes:author>iHeartRadio & Alison Green</itunes:author><itunes:summary>Need expert advice on handling workplace dilemmas and dramas? Alison Green, founder of the popular website AskAManager.org, is here to help you resolve your toughest, most frustrating, or just plain weirdest work predicaments. Each week, she takes calls and talks directly with listeners about how to successfully tackle clueless coworkers, toxic bosses, impossible employees, crazy clients, and much more. Learn more at AskAManager.org and subscribe now! </itunes:summary><itunes:owner><itunes:name>iHeartRadio & Alison Green</itunes:name><itunes:email>applepodcast@howstuffworks.com </itunes:email></itunes:owner><itunes:image href=”https://megaphone-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/podcasts/d500fbd6-5f6d-11e8-867b-03b17095bf6b/image/uploads_2F1547087193951-bl1nmt9oai8-56fd40fb5d8da76a90a30ad393adc45e_2FAskAManager-Logo-iHR-FINAL-3000×3000.jpg”/><itunes:category text=”Business”><itunes:category text=”Management”/><itunes:category text=”Careers”/></itunes:category><item><title>My employee lied about a reference</title><description>An employee who lied to get a reference, avoiding hugs, and lots more.<br><br> Learn more about your ad-choices at <a href=’https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers’>https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers</a></description><pubDate>Wed, 27 Mar 2019 10:00:00 -0000</pubDate><itunes:author>iHeartRadio & Alison Green</itunes:author><itunes:title>My employee lied about a reference</itunes:title><itunes:episodeType>full</itunes:episodeType><itunes:subtitle/><itunes:summary>An employee who lied to get a reference, avoiding hugs, and lots more.<br><br> Learn more about your ad-choices at <a href=’https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers’>https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers</a></itunes:summary><itunes:duration>1865</itunes:duration><guid isPermaLink=”false”>c956028a-d098-11e8-aece-fbc29e2eafa6</guid><enclosure url=”https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.megaphone.fm/HSW3745627560.mp3″ length=”0″ type=”audio/mpeg”/></item>

    9. Observer*

      The bottom line is that if you need to handle podcasts as such, your options are another iPod (I believe that Apple is coming out with a new podcast app) or a podcast on your phone. There are a LOT of goof options.

      Google Music is ok, and allows automatic downloads. Google Podcasts is really nice, but while it will alert you to new episodes on the podcasts you follow, it won’t automatically download – you need to do that manually. PodBeam is podcast focused, and does allow automatic downloading, but sometimes it can take a while for the downloads to happen. You can tell it to only download when you are on WiFi so that you don’t wind up with surprise data overages.

      If the podcasts you listen to are easily available at findable download links these are some nice small mp3 players. They tend to be feature limited, and the interface is limited but they work pretty well and are inexpensive.

    1. Not So Little My*

      It looks like a dominance move. They were either in the middle of play/fighting or else play/fighting ensued soon after. I call it “cat politics”, and I’m sure the politics are even more complicated and draconian in a household that has more cats than the two that I have.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Our (unrelated) cats do this all the time. With our first pair, it was dominance and cleaning. With the second pair, they just went the same seat/patch of sunlight/etc. My friend’s momma cat does it all the time to clean her kittens (or show them who’s boss).

        Cats are weird.

  21. Bibliovore*

    Have a houseful of guests this weekend and am a little stumped on what to have around the house. Not planning any big meals as they are coming in for the State Fair and will be in and out of the house. Anyone haves any easy noshes ideas or maybe Monday breaksfast for about eight.
    I have cheese and apples and eggs and good bread so far.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I like to make a strata when I’m serving a crowd. Usually spinach and ricotta. It’s easy to set up the night before and throw in the oven the next morning.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I’m going to need a recipe or link. I don’t know what a strata is. In googled. It’s like an egg pie?

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’d lay in some items to help my guests out if they get dehydrated or tired or overstimulated at the fair:

      – Pitcher of cold water in the fridge
      – Bananas
      – Granola bars (or homemade cookies/bars if you feel up to it)
      – Selection of herbal teas

      For breakfast, I’d offer a couple of things, like oatmeal and fruit salad, to “stretch” whatever you do with eggs. It always seems to me that you need 3 eggs per person if you’re doing scrambled (or some other dish that uses eggs, like a strata or quiche) and you can go through a dozen eggs really stupid quickly when you have guests. Also: we don’t use cream or half-and-half ourselves, but I like to get some for guests, and then I have the leftover cream for a treat for a day or two afterward.

      Are they in from out of state? Maybe it would be fun to have some local jams or other specialties on hand as well.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Your mentioning their becoming dehyrdrated is right-on. Maybe make some pitchers of lemonade and/or iced tea, too.

    3. Grace*

      Frittata is good, although it does depend on how long you have in the morning as to whether you can do it for breakfast. You can roast the veg the night before, which takes about 15-20 minutes, and then it’s a bit over half-an-hour in the morning to prep and cook – or you can do it all the night before and reheat. Once you’ve roasted the veg of your choice, all you need to do is whisk up an egg and milk (or cream) mixture, toss the veggies in a baking tray with some sort of cheese, and pour the egg mixture over the top. It’s usually about 30 minutes in the oven. There’s a lot of cooking time, but hardly any hands-on prep time. I personally like the roasted pumpkin, spinach and feta from the Aussie Women’s Weekly website, but you can really use any vegetables that you have in the house.

    4. Ranon*

      For snacks a big vat of hummus and some pita and veg can be a snack or a meal.

      For breakfast for a crowd, baked French toast? King Arthur Flour has a recipe.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Baked French toast is great because you usually prep it the night before and then bake in the AM. Maybe serve with scrambled eggs and bacon for some protein?

    5. CoffeeforLife*

      Oven cooked bacon makes a tray full and you don’t have to babysit a pan.

      You could always “cheat” and buy a Costco quiche to reheat in the morning. Serve with a little salad and bloody Mary.

      Have snacks laid out/in a basket, like a hotel does, so they don’t have to guess/search

      1. JediSquirrel*

        Seconding Costco anything. A good rotisserie chicken can turn into a lot of simple things: pasta with chicken and Alfredo sauce, easy chicken tacos, chicken salad, etc. They also have a lot of heat and eat meals that are delicious.

    6. Bibliovore*

      Thanks. Got spinach and sausages at the farmers market and am ready for company. First Kiss apples for a treat. Taking out everyone for ramen tonight and will do oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow and the strata on Monday. For snacks I have smoked salmon, hummus, cucumbers, carrots, heirloom tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, salmon spread, Colorado peaches, figs, ricotta and Prairie Breeze for snacks and light suppers. (and prosciutto for a light supper) will do a barbecue lunch on Monday before everyone goes home.
      Read a great book today- The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine.

      1. Bibliovore*

        okay. No-one wanted oatmeal or French toast this morning.I had the sausages already cooking so we had toast, peaches and eggs. The First Kiss apples for snacks yesterday were a big hit. It is pouring rain today and I can’t believe they are still going to the Fair. Hearty midwesterners.
        After taking lunch to a homebound friend, I’m going to sit this one out and read curled up not he couch.

  22. Caterpie*

    Anyone here big into scrapbooking? I’m making one as a gift and was hoping someone can share any tips or knowledge about resources/inspiration and affordable places to buy stuff for it. I’ve only ever made one other one but am generally crafty. Thank you!

    1. Victoria, Please*

      Check the local Goodwills, I always find fun craft stuff there that people have given up on.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes, this is a great tip! We also have used bookstores that tend to carry crafty things.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Dollar stores and Scrap, a Goodwill-type place for craft supplies, are good sources. Shop these first, then fill in with craft stores. Don’t forget to use coupons!
      Ideas are rife on Pinterest.

    3. LizB*

      Look to see if you have an art supply thrift store thing in your area — I know of ArtScraps in St Paul MN and the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland CA (the two places I’m mainly lived), and I’m sure other metro areas have similar things. Tons of scraps of papers, stickers, etc. for a tiny tiny price. Also, DollarTree! There does tend to be some variation in inventory from location to location, so if you’re near a few, hit them all.

      1. noahwynn*

        I live in Minneapolis and have never heard of ArtScraps. New place to check out. Just sad I have to cross the river for anything, haha.

        1. LizB*

          Lol! It’s worth it, I promise. It’s tiny but chock full of stuff for dirt cheap. Bring cash, it’s honestly tricky to get above the $10 credit card minimum.

  23. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Current home buying stage: awaiting word from underwriter re: loan app.

    What are things to do at this stage?
    Things not to do: large purchases, new credit line

    Spending part of the day cleaning the apt then going to an art museum to get outside my anxious head. (This past week we fired our 1st loan officer bc she withheld key info, would’ve delayed closing by 3 weeks, could have cost us unnecessary $600 for documents we didn’t need, laughed on the phone while my husband was expressing his frustration, and tried to trick me into a higher interest rate without talking to my agent). New loan officer is much better, knew we didn’t need that $600 step, and saved us another $500 along the way plus is on schedule and updates us frequently.

    In the meantime, I need fun free ideas to decompress……..

    1. Reba*

      Ugh and also relieved that you have a new LO! I’m glad you can change personnel without starting all over! Hope it goes more smoothly from here.

      One thing we did in the waiting time was to get a set of plans of the new place so we could start playing with the furniture layout and such. And the pre-move clean out!

    2. Auntie Social*

      Good for you. LO’s are usually under the Dept of Real Estate. PLEASE write a complaint to them, and a Yelp! review as well. She treats her clients like prey. What if she does this to everyone? And who hooked you up with her? Tell them too.

    3. chi chan*

      To decompress you could try yoga breathing exercises or just simple yoga videos on youtube. It gets some stretches in while someone talks you soothingly through it.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For me, it’s a ramble in nature–not a hike with a destination, just walking around looking at the little things. Beach, woods, edges of farmland, wherever. I look for shells, interesting leaves, water droplets on spider webs, or tiny mushrooms. I take oodles of phone pictures I will to delete later. Listen for birdsong. Read a book on a bench in the park.

  24. Koala dreams*

    I have a question about how to deal with the stigma against mental illness and neuroatypical people. As many of you know, there is a trend in society of people who associate any mean and bullying behaviour with mental illness and non-neurotypical diagnoses. I find it bad in two different ways, and the first way I often see people discuss and protest, but the second one not so much, so I find it hard to deal with.
    1. It makes it seem like mental illness makes you a bad person. (Luckily, many people disagree with this notion.)
    2. It assumes that everyone has the social and emotional intelligence, as well as the mental resilience, to endure mean and bullying behaviour. Actually it’s this part that I find hard to deal with.

    What do you do when you encounter this kind of comments?

    1. HannahS*

      I sometimes interrupt the speculation with something like, “Well, [behaviour] is not part of having [illness]. Even if he does have it, not everyone with [illness] behaves that way. Sometimes, people are just jerks, you know?” Or I’ll go briefer and blunter and say, “So what? It doesn’t make his behaviour ok.” And shift the conversation to “How do we manage this” rather than, “Let’s delve into his mind and speculate forever while completely ignoring the impact of his actions.”

    2. Parenthetically*

      I’m usually just really blunt. “___ doesn’t make people jerks, not all people with ____ are jerks, and ____ isn’t an excuse for being a jerk. You can have ____ and ALSO be a jerk, just like you can NOT have ____ and also be a jerk. Focus on the behaviors, skip the armchair diagnosis/ableist assumptions.”

    3. Lissa*

      I’d say it depends on what the intent of the comment is. Is it trying to excuse the behaviour in question, or trying to insult all people with the mental illness in question, or provide a perspective they think isn’t common? I’d say the first and last are particularly common in the online spaces where I go – someone will describe a person in their life who’s behaving problematically and then people will come in with a comment like “oh but have you considered they might be suffering from depression/be autistic/etc?” because perhaps they aren’t aware of just how common it is now to say that online.
      My usual is to say “ok, but do you think this should change how the behaviour is dealt with and if so how?” and try to keep the focus on the *behaviour* rather than the inherent qualities of the person. This is particularly difficult when people hear an anecdote of someone being crappy and immediately want to decide whether this person meets some objective criteria of Bad Person as though if they get an official Bad Person label then all bets are off.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Right. I find the current US news refrain of “Anyone who would shoot strangers must be mentally ill” frustrating.

      Because:
      1. There’s no mental illness that predisposes a person to violence, except possibly severe paranoid schizophrenia. And paranoid schizophrenics might possibly lash out in self-defense, but would not plan and orchestrate a mass attack.
      2. It’s a known logical fallacy. “Posthoc ergo propter hoc.”
      3. It lets us demonize a marginalized group of people while ignoring real problems in our society (too many guns, otherizing, pervasive rage).

  25. Jellyfish*

    My spouse and I recently moved cross country. While I’ve been exhausted from the move and learning my new job, I’m starting to get the energy back for a social life.
    Any suggestions / experiences to share on making friends as an adult in a whole new region?
    (Also, a medical issue keeps me from being particularly athletic, so things like joining an amateur sports team or getting a gym rock climbing buddy aren’t great options for me.)
    Thanks!

    1. Christy*

      Anything that puts you in regular contact with the same group of people. A knitting class, a cooking class, volunteering at the animal shelter, library book club, anything like that.

      1. Mimosa Jones*

        Yes, the secret is to just keep showing up. People need time to get to know you and fold you into their lives. And people in some areas have an extra layer of reserve.

        Some areas have newcomers clubs. Usually they’re places with a lot of turnover in the population due to a university or large employer. There’s also usually a garden club, a women’s club, rotary club, toastmasters, and at least one crafty place with open hours.

        You could also start what you want to belong to. There’s always more people who want to be in a book club than there are book clubs. I have a friend who moved to the area and immediately started a play group, a book club, and a supper club.

    2. CoffeeforLife*

      Meetup is good to find like minded folks. We moved from Hawaii to VA and it’s been tough to find people we want to spend time around. We joined an animal rescue to foster and going to their events has helped make connections. We also started doing the things we missed from home, like bar trivia night (Geeks who Drink).

      1. Filosofickle*

        When I was trying to make new friends in my 40s, Meetup was great. But Meetup is also a mixed bag, and choosing the right groups is a challenge. I wanted to make actual friends, not just encounter a new group of strangers every time!

        Many groups allow you to see past events and members — that’s where to start. Pay attention to size (not huge or tiny), how many events happen & how many attend each time, and the ratio of members to attendees. Look for comments that indicate a core group of regulars. I found a couple of good ones (women’s groups, to get started) and it went really well.

    3. Clisby*

      If you live in a town/city that has a neighborhood association, go to their meetings, sign up for their newsletter, like their facebook group, whatever. (I’m not talking about an HOA, although you could get involved there too – I mean a neighborhood association where membership has nothing to do with who owns property.)

      Subscribe to the local paper, and check out local events. I don’t know where you live, but I’m in Charleston, SC, which, while it’s not some little village, is not a big city. There are tons of things going on at the local colleges, the county museum, the county library, etc.

    4. Loopy*

      I found a volunteering opportunity worked much better than meet up. I agree with doing something that has the same group of people week after week.

  26. CoffeeforLife*

    Hair Stylist Needed!
    I really want to cut off my waist length, straight, thick/heavy brown hair. Can anyone recommend a stylist in Northern VA, DC, Maryland- I’m willing to drive! I’ve also been fantasizing about getting a perm and having sassy curls – talk me off that ledge :) or point me to someone who can make it happpen!

    1. AspiringRN*

      Plane Jane Salon in Bethesda! I’ve been going there for years, even after I moved an hour away. Chelsea is particularly talented with both cuts and colors!

    2. Reba*

      Trim in Adams Morgan. A lot of the styles on their Instagram are very *fashion* but they also do my long, boring cuts! My cuts by Mariana grow out beautifully. However, I have very not your hair texture, so whatever place you go be sure to ask for a stylist with experience with your type of hair!

    3. Terpchic*

      Crystal Kochis Hair Art. She is kind and honest with you about the ability to make your hair look like the picture you brought. :) After my divorce, I went to her with a totally different look I wanted and she was like “I love you, but that look requires blow drying, straightening, and curling. You are never going to do all that. Let’s do this instead.” and it was fantastic. She has crazy hair but mine is usually a variation of a medium brown lob with highlights.

    4. Tea and Sympathy*

      Just an FYI, if you’re going to cut off your waist-length long hair, you would have enough to donate it for a wig for cancer patients. I cut my waist-length hair twice. The first time I didn’t know about this, and the second time it was a few years after my aunt had died of cancer, and my donation made me feel closer to her, as she had used one of these wigs. You can google for information on where and how to donate, if you’re interested.

  27. Washi*

    Can anyone share stories of making peace with how they treated others during a mental health episode? This past year ish was really rough for me mental health wise and it really took a toll on my relationship with my best friend. I wasn’t cruel or anything, but I asked a lot of her and dumped a lot of anxiety on her. I was checking in periodically about how she was doing with it and our conversations were not all about me (if anything, she has always talked more) but she didn’t feel like she could tell me that it was too much. I’ve been better over the past 4-5 months and when I checked with her again a few weeks ago, it finally all came out about how she was feeling. I’m gutted to realize how much strain I’d put on her. I’ve apologized and she’s forgiven me and said that in the future, she would say something sooner (and I will have much better boundaries), but I’m having a really hard time moving on in my own mind. I just feel sick thinking about what I put her through, and so sad that I hurt our relationship. I’m starting up therapy again now that I have new insurance, but can anyone else share stories or recommendations on getting through this?

    1. LDN Layabout*

      You can’t change the past, you can only change the future.

      You can’t change the past, you can only change the future.

      I’ve found that once you start recognising the anxiety and spiralling triggers you can start talking back to them with the rational part of your brain. It’s not perfect, it doesn’t always work, but the more you do it, the more it’ll help.

    2. Jule*

      I feel big waves of panic-guilt about similar situations. Glad you’re going to therapy to discuss it! I think your friend wouldn’t have told you how she was feeling if she weren’t serious about moving forward as your friend, and in moments when you’re in your head about it, take some deep breaths and remind yourself firmly, in full sentences in your head, that she’s committed to your friendship. She’s your friend. She’s there for you. And you can be there for her by, whether in person/on the phone/by text, asking questions about what’s going on in her life, asking follow-up questions to sustain the conversation about her, and expressing real responses to her situations. She’s your friend, and you’re hers, and when your mind is going haywire you can remind yourself of the very simple facts to calm down and get back on track!

    3. Asenath*

      I don’t have any solutions, other than reminding myself it’s dealt with, and trying to put it out of my mind and/or distracting myself when I remember. But if it’s any consolation, you aren’t the only one. I knew I often had trouble forgiving others (an important stage for me in moving on from whatever it was), but I didn’t realize until much later that I found it even harder to forgive myself. I had someone I trusted who pointed out how irrational this was, which helped me move past it. I mean, like you, I’d had the difficult conversation, the other person forgave me and I still couldn’t accept it. And that was all my problem; I could hardly expect the other person to punish me or something until I felt able to forgive myself, now, could I? That’s crazy thinking. So I treated such thoughts like all the other crazy thoughts, and tried not to behave the same way again. With time, I found it easier to forgive myself and move on. Make your apologies and whatever amends the OP will accept (it seems like you’ve done this), try to change your behaviour, and move on. That’s it. You’ve done what you can, and continuing to feel guilty and punish yourself is not a good choice.

    4. LGC*

      So…imagine if instead of a mental health illness episode, you had a cancer scare. Maybe you caught the tumor early and they were able to get it, and now you’re in remission with a pretty good chance of making it to 5 years. And your friend helped you out a lot through that – and afterwards, she finally lets it out that she was having a tough time while you were sick and dealing with your fears.

      Does that mean you should feel bad for getting cancer? (No!) Does it mean that you’re a bad person who should hide in the shame closet for dumping a ton of feelings on her when you were Going Through Some Stuff? (No!) Does it mean that you’ve learned that handling this is really difficult for her? (Yeah. Being a caretaker is hard work, and she sounds like she had a hard time as well.)

      I think the best thing you can do is to give her support. Hear her out, if she wants that. If she needs a little space, she’s entitled to that. And going beyond that, limit how much anxiety you share with her – and by that, I mean…if you were doing a lot of late night calls with her, maybe don’t do those as much, or at all. Definitely try to broaden your support network, for both of you.

      I’m glad you’re on the mend, and hopefully things keep looking up.

    5. fposte*

      I find sometimes talking my way out loud through my feelings can be helpful. Do you think this is coming from grief, fear of losing a friend, an impulse to try to somehow retroactively fix things, or something else? Or all of the above? Is being a good friend important to your identity and that’s been shaken a bit?

      The older I get, the more I see relationships as organic living things, never the same from one moment to another. And the longer the friendship, the more room there is for getting on each other’s nerves sometimes, needing to be carried more than you can carry in return, and just not dancing with each other well for a time. I think it’s almost inevitable. Maybe it could be helpful for you to think of this period not as a deviation from what your friendship should be but as a phase of ungainly dynamics that your friendship was bound to have and will probably have again in future.

    6. Agnodike*

      Denying someone the opportunity to forgive you is not a kindness to yourself or to them. It’s up to the wronged person to decide whether something gets held on to or left in the past. Your friend forgave you, which means that she doesn’t want to hang on to this piece of your history. If you keep thinking about it and letting it colour your relationship with her, you’re not giving her the chance to do that – even if you never mention it again, it’s affecting how you think about her and probably how you act, whether you realize it or not. Respect her choice and letting it go; and just keep the lessons you’ve learned with you moving forward.

      1. Reba*

        I love this comment too.

        Recently a colleague was contacted by an ex who was in the “making amends” stage of AA. Colleague was bemused because she stopped thinking about this person *years* ago. She agreed to meet, but just as a kindness to the ex–she doesn’t need or want to rehash that situation.

        Obviously it’s different in that Washi, you and your friend are still in each other’s lives… But my point is to echo Asenath and Agnodike that you both have different perspectives on the situation. (I mean, isn’t that why we turn to friends?) The way you feel about it is not “factual” in the sense that both you and she have feelings about it that are equally true and real, and desires for what happens next. So I think my advice would be to feel your feelings but remember that Friend’s experience and reactions are also valid.

        Maybe write her a letter that you don’t send?

        And critically, through all this be kind to yourself!!!!

        Glad to hear you’re starting therapy and hope that you find a good fit.

      2. Washi*

        This is so lovely, thank you! This rings true for her- she was pretty clear that she wanted to just focus on moving on and continuing our friendship, and I like framing it as respecting her choice to forgive me.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Please ask your friend what she wants to do going forward. Have her put boundaries, limits, tools or safe words on how you two interact. Then show her by your actions that you’re serious about respecting those limits.
      Please go to and keep going to therapy. As you’ve discovered, it’s a burden to your friends to use them as unpaid therapists instead of going to an actual therapist.
      I think you have great potential for a more successful friendship in the future and I wish you better times to come.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Not mentioned here, but perhaps you can figure out a way that you can spread out the sources of help rather than having a lot fall to her.

      I am saying this as a widow, I have spread out how I ask for help and I have told other widows to do the same thing. There are many times in life where we need to rely on more than one person. If someone in trouble leans too heavily on any one person the chances of burning that person out are pretty high.

      I dunno what you like in terms of support so I will use examples that I am familiar with and perhaps you can find parallels in your own life. When my aunt lost her hubby, she leaned heavily on her only child. I am that only child who tried to help a parent and I reminded her that I have been in her kid’s shoes. I suggested that what she really needed her kid to help her with was big financial decisions and health decisions. But a friend could help weed a garden. Or another relative could help take things she had already sorted to be donated. Her neighbor was willing to shovel once in a while. In her setting she could delegate out the smaller issue things to people who were not immediate family and were known for using good judgement. This would save her main person, her only child, from some of the effort needed here.

      On the grief side of the story, my aunt joined a grief group and sought out private counseling. She also had a church and bible study going on for additional support. No one thing would have worked alone, it took a combination of activities for her to piece her life and thoughts together.

      Sometimes life hits with huge things and it does take more than one person and more than one action to help us along. Line up more resources for yourself. This does not have to be big. For example, after my husband passed I found I needed help mowing the lawn. Mowing the lawn reduced me to tears for several reasons. It’s a fairly modest request to ask someone to mow my lawn. It does not solve my larger problem of processing the grief. But it does remove some of my burden so I CAN process my grief.

      Again, you’d have to look for your own parallels here. My main thought is when life gives us a hard punch the more people we reach out to the better. We just have to make sure we chose those people wisely.

    9. Friend of a good person*

      I had a similar experience with a friend a couple years ago, except that I was that friend and I dealt with it by not saying anything and instead I met up less often with my friend. I didn’t say anything because I knew my friend was recently diagnosed (it took a long time to get the right diagnosis) and I also knew that he was getting help and would likely improve. And he did! It took me a while (6-12 months?) to really enjoy spending time with my friend again, the way that we had before he got sick, but I could see that things were improving as soon as the therapy started. Most important for me was that my friend acknowledged the bad days after they happened (he had trouble seeing them for what they were at the time), but we also moved on from it and didn’t focus on the past.

      My suggestion would be to briefly acknowledge things you wish that you had done differently, and then move forward in a healthier way (which you will be able to do, now that you have therapy!!).

      I don’t know if it makes sense or is helpful to phrase it this way, but keep in mind that it won’t be good for your friend, yourself, or your relationship if you let anxiety run rampant. Maybe something to discuss with the therapist? Yet in my experience it’s time that will fix things, as your friend knows who you can be when you are healthier, and what I most wanted from my friend was for him to be healthier so that I could spend time with both of us being relatively healthy. He didn’t have to pretend to be perfect, but now he’s able to talk about things without getting really anxious at the time, and I am so relieved as I can enjoy our chats again.

      I also don’t know if this suggestion helps: when he got sick we started going to the movies (Tuesday evenings every two weeks) so that we would know to expect it, and plan for it. When things were really bad I asked to switch to every fourth week, and I admit that I blamed my schedule because I couldn’t tell my friend that his anxiety was so emotionally draining. It worked out in the end, as we’re still doing the same years later. Once we switched to seeing each other less frequently I looked forward to it instead of dreading. Now that he’s healthier, I think our relationship is stronger than before.

    10. Purt’s Peas*

      Specifically for those waves of shame, I’ve started talking myself through them like this: what happened? (I did X.) Why am I feeling this way? (I feel guilty about it, or I’m worried about some other thing.) What did I learn from this? (Say something sooner, or whatever your future resolution is.) And then try to dwell on the resolution instead of the shame wave.

      In terms of more long-term stuff, I think it helps to remember that your friend told you this so you would STAY friends. If she didn’t want to stay your friend she didn’t have to say anything—it just could have ended. Now you know your friendship might change a bit. But this was entirely forgivable and she wanted to forgive you.

      1. Washi*

        Thank you, all of this is so helpful. I’ve learned so much from her over the years about how to be a good friend and I really do want to move my mental energies from regret to applying the lessons I’ve learned.

    11. Tired*

      She loves you enough to tell you that it was taking a toll on her. Some friends just stop talking to you completely (that’s happened to me). A few months is just a little blip in a long friendship. You’re taking the right steps to getting better, which is huge. Don’t listen to the anxiety in your brain that’s focusing on what happened. You’ll get through this.

  28. FaintlyMacabre*

    I posted a few weeks back about a guy who golfs and lets his dog run off leash in the park (both things are prohibited). Since then, I’ve had one more confrontation with him and suggested he go to a nearby park that does low dogs off leash (he told me to get out of his face) and since then, I’ve just been calling animal control on him whenever I see him. Don’t know if they’ve actually talked to him, as I’ve had to go to work, but even if they have, he’s there every day at the same time.

    My question then, is this: is it too passive aggressive to go to the park and spread out a picnic blanket in the area where he usually golfs? I have a few days off where I could at least inconvenience him, though I doubt it would change his plans long term. And I could call animal control the minute he gets there, which might help.

    1. StellaBella*

      Keep calling animal control and maybe take not obvious photos and email them to animal control repeatedly…but depending on where you live, and how confrontational this guy is, I would not do a picnic. HE HAS A WEAPON, the CLUB. Sorry but, if it was a very busy park with a lot of people (witnesses and potential helpers), maybe but NOPE. Do not put yourself into a sitting position on the ground, esp with back turned to him, with a guy and a weapon above you. This is not smart. Sorry to be a bit of a worry wart but there is no way in hell I would antagonise a golfing dude bro like this.

      1. FaintlyMacabre*

        That’s a good point, though I do carry pepper spray and there are usually other people in the park. Dude is also in his 70s, I would guess? Still could be a threat, but less so than a younger man.

          1. valentine*

            Please leave him alone. You’re the aggressor here. At this point, he may be golfing and off-leashing at you, but you’re the one repeatedly confronting him and asking authorities to do so as well. Maybe he told them you’re his crazy ex. Nothing good will come of your constant doubling down and escalating. Golf balls hurt, but, if he really wants to hurt you, he knows he need only hurt your dog, so, that’s who you’re really risking here. If he assaults you and your dog bites him, what happens to your dog?

            1. FaintlyMacabre*

              I wouldn’t take my dog. I’m not going to stop trying to make him stop- he is in the wrong, and I want to enjoy the park. He drives to this park and could easily spend the five extra minutes to get to the other bigger, off-leash park. If he doesn’t want to be botheted, he can obey park rules.

              1. Baru Cormorant*

                You’re trying to claim the moral high ground as you antagonize someone. What is it you think this will accomplish?

    2. Bilateralrope*

      If you go with your picnic idea, you are escalating things. He will recognize you and work out that you’re doing it to have a go at him. This is likely to make him more aggressive, maybe violent.

      Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have your picnic. Just be prepared for how he might react.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      If you’re not having success with the leash law violation, you might have success contacting someone park-related since he’s breaking the rules of that particular park not only by having the dog off-leash but with the golfing? If the animal side of things is getting no traction it might be worth a shot from another angle.
      I would not do anything to directly confront him again though. He’s shown he’s not going to be shamed out of what he’s doing.

    4. BRR*

      Unless you usually picnic there and he’s preventing that, don’t do it. I have to ask though, is it just bothering you because he’s not following the rules? If that’s it, I’d try and let this go a bit. I’m with you in that I hate when people feel they can do whatever they want but unless it’s something like you walk in the park and are dodging golf balls and a dog I’d not take up mental space with this. Calling animal control or the park dept or something would be the most.

    5. fposte*

      I echo the voices saying this is not a good plan. It is annoying that he doesn’t observe the rules, but it’s not worth escalating this into a fight–or taking what seems to be turning into a fight into a bigger one.

      In something like this, I’ll generally take the basic actions–talk to the person, report them to the appropriate place–and then I try to let it go, because I don’t have control over whether the problem goes away or not and I don’t want it to eat my life. What would happen if you let it go? If you knew he would keep going to this park with the dog and playing golf there until he died no matter what you did, what would you want to spend time doing?

    6. Pieforbreakfast*

      Call the park services to make a complaint and give the info you have. You’ve said your peace to the guy, he’s decided to ignore it and continuing to poke the bear won’t get the result you want. Let the park rangers step in.

    7. Anono-me*

      It sounds like this is something that is important for you to get addressed.

      Can you identify what elected official is in charge of the department that oversees your community’s animal control department? If so, maybe try escalating to that person?

      Escalating to the parks department could also be something that works.

      Also you may want to consider following up your phone calls to Annimal Control with emails or letters including photos. And each written communication should include some sort of reference to that day’s phone call and that it is your number X time of reporting an incident that is still ongoing. (Maybe copy the Parks Dept and elected officials.)

      Personally, I would stay away from the guy. He has already shown that he does not follow the rules and things could go badly. Also right now you look like the high road taking person who follows the rules. If you start jumping in the mud too, you lose that advantage.

    8. FaintlyMacabre*

      Thank you for all of your comments and counsel. I won’t do the picnic thing, but I’ll keep raising the issue with animal control and find park authorities as well

      This is an issue I’m willing to make a stand on- I’ve had too many issues with loose dogs (including being knocked over by one even after I had left a park. It crossed the street to come after us. Even though the dog was friendly, it was rambunctious and left me with a skinned, bruised and swollen knee. The owners didn’t help me, and the kicker was that I had walked my dog to a park about a mile away, because someone had a loose dog in the park near my house.) I’m done trying to accommodate people. I’ve another dog I was walking was attacked when I lived in a different state. She was never the same after that and died about 9 months later. I love dogs, but I don’t trust them off leash and I really don’t trust dog owners anymore. Sorry for the rant, but this is a touchy subject for me!

      1. Loopy*

        Coming in late here but I totally get your viewpoint- I feel the same way about offleash dogs. My dog is *always harnessed and leashed* AND we give people and other dogs lots of space because he’s got issues if a dog is in his immediate space (like very close). If we are even just across the street, it’s fine, no risk, no worries! But when loose dogs RUSH up to him, it’s a huge risk and highly anxiety inducing. And they always rush up face to face, really close.

        I have yet to ever not be the bad guy to people who let their dogs off leash. I wish I had advice but even when I’ve been the most patient, understanding neighbor, even just being asking to please let us get out of your immediate area before you let the dog off leash (in a non off-leash area)- I’m a terrible tyrant because their dog is friendly so they shouldn’t have to abide by ridiculous leash laws. I just wanted to say I do feel your pain and so so so wish I’d had more success in my own encounters.

    9. LilySparrow*

      Yes. It’s not just passive-aggressive. It’s just aggressive. You have appointed yourself as a vigilante park enforcer and are planning to harass a 70 year old man.

      You’re also making a lot of assumptions about what is or isn’t “just as easy” for a complete stranger you know nothing about.

      This dog owner is not responsible for every past bad experience you’ve ever had with off-leash dogs, and it’s inappropriate to make him the symbol of rule-breaking in general.

      If the parks department isn’t following through on the rules, they are the problem. There are appropriate avenues for a citizen to hold public servants accountable (including advocating for more funding from the city, so they can hire more personnel).

      Focus your energy there.

      1. LCL*

        I don’t think OP is being aggressive. A bit confrontational, but she started out being the responsible one and he was the one who escalated things. Really, any time you call someone on bad behavior in public it’s technically confrontational. Confrontation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you are respectful about it. But this situation has too many unknowns, she doesn’t know him at all. You are allowed to make assumptions about strangers, especially if they are being glass bowls. But with all of the unknowns your assumptions may be wrong.

        What would I do? I’m kinda hacked off at what I see as the gender role based assumptions that she should play nice and not rile up the harmless old man. But golf clubs are a weapon if one is so inclined. So I would split the difference and greet him every day. ‘Hi Mr. How are you? Have you checked out the offleash park at Dogwood and Cur Street yet?’ Do this every time you see him, and he will start avoiding you.

        1. Baru Cormorant*

          Oh come on, this isn’t a gender-based issue. There’s a different level between “hey can you stop” “no I’d rather not” and “well I’m going to get in your way because you SHOULD stop”. That’s literally baiting him and asking for trouble, which isn’t a safe, wise, or kind thing to do.

      2. FaintlyMacabre*

        I do think if you’re driving your dog and golf clubs to one park, you can drive them to another 5 minutes away! And while he is not responsible for my other bad experiences, he is definitely responsible for his attitude, which was very dismissive of my initial polite requests to put his dog on a leash.

  29. Zephy*

    Kitten update!

    He’s slowly but surely getting used to our routine; this morning, he didn’t even start fussing until just 5-10 minutes before my alarm, rather than several hours. He and the big kitty have also seen each other. Big kitty still isn’t too sure about him, but I think he’s coming around. They do communicate very well. I don’t think we’d want to leave them together unsupervised just yet, but we’re getting there.

    Of course, with all that said, I’m in south Florida. So, all this progress is about to get dunked on by Dorian. Even if the storm doesn’t make landfall, we’re still planning to board the cats and shelter elsewhere, so no matter what happens this weekend weather-wise, we’re still disrupting their lives and we’ll have to probably start over from square 1, reintroducing them and re-establishing the routine once it’s over.

    1. Clisby*

      Good luck with the storm! My daughter’s in Gainesville (hosting her cousin & 3 cats who already left the coast), and we’re in SC, so all sitting around obsessively checking in with the National Hurricane Center.

      1. Zephy*

        Thanks, good luck to you too! The latest models have Dorian headed straight for the Carolinas now, so I hope you’re well inland. I’m certainly glad we’re not about to take a cat 4 straight to the face, although we’re still going to get plenty of wind and rain. The kitties are now boarded and we’re planning to head to our sheltering location tomorrow morning.

    2. Pam*

      It may be that returning from boarding and back home will help set the relationship on a better level, since they both will be returning from boarding- ‘I’m home! Here’s a familiar face!’

      Be safe!

  30. Rebecca*

    Mom Update

    First, I want to thank everyone who has read my posts, commented, encouraged me, shared similar stories, all of it. I can’t tell you how much it means to me, and how much it helped me when there were days I just wanted to sit down and cry and not do anything. It’s been a really rough 2 1/2 years, but things are looking so much better. Instead of feeling like I’m in a ravine, looking up to see a sliver of sky way above my head, I feel like I’m up on the ridge top now, looking out toward the future. So thank you again!

    I took her to the other home for a tour and evaluation, it’s a much nicer facility, bigger, better food, nicer rooms, more amenities, less money per month…and she decided to stay at the current PCH. She said the hallways were too long and she wouldn’t know anyone, and it was further away. So, I said fine, but I don’t want to hear any more complaints, and I tried to do something about the very place you were complaining about EVERY SINGLE DAY since you arrived, and you decided not to. End of discussion. Before I left, she made a comment that she thought the attendants were giving out ice cream from her personal box to other residents, and I simply said “that’s too bad, you need to talk to them about that”.

    So, she’s staying, and the owner has started to address the food situation. I have to think Mom said I was going to report them. I’m still going to report them. I had wanted her to be out of there today, but that’s not the case, but they need to get with it. That, and being over $50K behind in real estate and school taxes is troubling, along with the staffing issues.

    About her arm and being able to come home. I really don’t know. The visiting nurse was there last night when I picked up laundry, and I overheard Mom tell the nurse that they had one patient at the ortho practice with a break like hers that regained full use of their hand, and Mom said she intends to be the second. AAM friends, she can barely move her fingers, she can’t grip anything, there is a lot of pain, her hand is swollen and just sort of there. I know they’re doing therapy but I really think if she regains partial use, that will be about it. She’ll be 84 in December, has osteoporosis, is underweight, I just don’t know. She must use a walker, so that means if she does come home, I’ll need to put a basket on the front so she can take food from the fridge to the countertop, table, etc. but that also means any liquids will need to be in a covered container so she doesn’t spill them. I don’t think she’s thinking about any of that.

    I got more information about Mom’s home life, issues with her mother, and learned that her mother was mentally not well. I don’t know what was wrong with her, but there were a lot of things going on and she finally ended up in a mental health ward for a time when Mom was in her early 20s. There are still a few people alive who know what happened, and I’m getting pieces of information, and I won’t get into the details, but it explains so much about how Mom has acted toward me my entire life.

    On to positive things! At least I got some other things done this week – got some people together and we loaded up a pickup truck load of scrap metal, sorted out car parts for sale, identified wood scraps to take to the landfill (aside, this will be in October when snakes are less active!), and I have another pile of non-scrap non-recycle stuff to go to the landfill. It felt really good to get that done. Plus, we got the old Ford panel truck ready to sell, photos, video of it running, everything. I’m more than ready now to rehome it.

    I slept in today, and need to get groceries, pick up prescriptions, etc., gas up the truck, etc. I want to get out one of the other old cars and clean it up, get it running, so I can post it for sale, college football starts and my team plays at 3:30, there’s laundry to do, etc. At least it’s a 3 day weekend and the weather looks great! I intend to make the most of my weekend.

    1. MatKnifeNinja*

      I feel your pain on the “I hate this place, but I don’t want to move.” song and dance. Each nursing home my mom hated, and getting her to move was almost impossible.

      I’m surprised your mom made the comment about not knowing anyone. Is she making friends at the old place, or is that an excuse? My mom never made any friends or did any activites, so when she threw that excuse out, we’d just die inside.

      Hang in there!

    2. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Wow! I’m so glad you are feeling better, though sorry your mom didn’t want to money to a better place (!) and they are still a lot of things up in the air. But I never cease to be impressed by your level of activity!!! Wow- you GET STUFF DONE. Of course at times it is all Too Much Stuff, but this sounds like such a good week on the whole. Working with other people, checking thinks of your to-do list, Avoiding Snakes, Sleeping In, fun plans! Your team isn’t playing mine, so hope your day is capped by a win. You are one amazing person!

    3. Laura H.*

      I’m young and don’t use a geriatric type walker but IF (big if) your mom does come home, the carry thing is something that will have to be navigated. (Walkers should come with cup holders standard, but alas, not yet.) Not navigated specifically or solely by you or specifically (definitely not solely) by your mom, but it will have to get dealt with.

      I know your mom is set on going home, but it may not realistically happen. You know this already, but honestly- her clinging to that hope is the only logical thread I can grasp onto for NOT wanting to go to the better PCH…

      Good luck.

    4. Mimmy*

      Aww geez Rebecca, what a crazy week! But I am glad to hear the owner at the current PCH will address the food issues.

      I can understand your mom not wanting to move to the new PCH – as much as she says that she hates the current place, it’s what she got used to. Making yet another change could be upsetting, even if it is to a nicer, less expensive facility.

      Sounds like you got a lot done this week nonetheless – hang in there!

    5. Wishing You Well*

      Holy Cow, you’ve been busy! Great job!
      About your mom’s optimism about a full recovery: maybe too much optimism is better than too much pessimism when it comes to physical ailments. You’ve heard her say a lot of not-so-realistic stuff, so I get your view, though.
      A walker takes 2 hands, right? She might not be coming home for a very long time or ever, but most caregivers wouldn’t tell her that. Silence from medical and other staff does NOT imply agreement with the patient. I sense there’s a lot of silence when the prognosis is not what the patient is hoping for.
      You’ve done great things this week! Best Wishes!

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      You are doing an amazing job. It’s mid-afternoon of the one day anything here is open, and I’ve made no hazmat runs, ewaste runs, or scrap metal runs…. I am in awe at your energy level.

      Your mom – oh, man. I’m so sorry. Because it sounds like she is not dealing with reality, but “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t…” sigh.

      Sending you a hug.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I am glad you found out where your mother has been in life. It goes toward peace. At some point it stops being about right vs. wrong and just starts being about “WHY?” And now you have the “why”. Some how knowing why is very powerful on its own.

      My friend found her bio-mother and grandmother both had a long history of mental health issues. Unfortunately, in that era it was pretty common to shuffle folks off to a remote hospital somewhere and not think too much further about it. But a lot went on, even though it was not discussed publicly like it is today. I am happy with the changes I have seen in my lifetime and I hope we (society) make even more changes very soon.
      (Context: Parents of children born deaf in my generation were told by docs to institutionalize the kid and forget about them. It was not that long ago and the damage from this type of advice is still playing out today.)

    8. Belle di Vedremo*

      Goodness, Rebecca, you continue to be amazing with all you’ve done and are doing. Thanks for the reminder that so much is possible.

    9. Rebecca*

      And my college team won, the 1980 Camaro Z28 is running and I detailed it today, going to take it to get gas, put some dry gas in it, and just get the kinks out from it sitting since last year. I might drive it to work on Tuesday if it doesn’t rain. It’s a good day! I had a nice evening last night, too, sat out at a fire pit, saw a shooting star, my MLB team won…now on to pro football and see if we can make it a trifecta.

    10. Observer*

      You’ve gotten a lot accomplished. And, while I get how frustrating it must have been to have her turn down the other PCH, it’s something you have in your back pocket now. If she starts complaining, just bring up that she has the choice to move. And that’s it. No downside for you – either she agrees to move or the conversation ends. Both work for you…

      And I’m glad the rest of your weekend went well, too.

  31. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Me: *types “carnivorous plants” into a bookshop’s search bar*
    Bookshop: Here’s five books on veganism!
    ????

    1. Zephy*

      Is it Opposite Day again, already?

      The real test is if you search for ‘veganism’ and get results about Venus flytraps and such.

  32. Shiny Carvanha*

    So I’ve changed names slightly but should still be recognisable.

    I’ve been posting a fair bit about how stuck and lost and pathetic I feel and things have finally got better. Well – initially they got worse, as ever. Last weekend I was away for a friend’s party and had a lovely time and saw loads of old friends… then I came home to the flat I don’t like and don’t want to live in and that is a horrendous mess, and I cried, a lot.

    So, I went to the doctors and I got a new class of ADs – I had come off the last ones as they were knackering my sleep and dreams and had completely destroyed my sex drive. It’s only been a few days and will take between 1 and 6 weeks to see an effect. However I’ve also managed to take action on getting some pipes replaced in my property that have needed to be replaced for over 15 years, and I’ve spoken to my solicitor about some post-divorce stuff that needs done, and I’ve finally hoovered up the (THANKFULLY FRESHLY CHANGED) litter that the cats managed to spill, and it finally seems like things are shifting and the inertia isn’t winning any more.

    I’m still up in the air about whether you move from this godforsaken flat or whether to spend an absolute fortune on a new kitchen, but I feel like I can at least keep things moving. I feel like moving would make more sense but being honest with myself replacing the kitchen would probably be cheaper right now and I can move later.

    In love-life news I had a date and a kiss (!!!!!) and it was lovely…. but I think she’s looking for a relationship and so I need to have a talk with her. But if I can have one date and one kiss then there can be another date and another kiss, so after feeling very desperate about all that I’m feeling much more chill.

    So, thanks everyone for keeping me going when I was utterly desperate and awful and please keep your fingers and toes crossed that it continues. Oh and in my last therapy appointment I was talking about not feeling able to Get Stuff Done and one of the tactics I talked about was feeling the power of having this community in my phone to cheer me on. And I’ve tried it and it helps <3

    Thank you all for your support. It means the world!

    1. Filosofickle*

      This! “But if I can have one date and one kiss then there can be another date and another kiss, so after feeling very desperate about all that I’m feeling much more chill.” Knowing a romantic connection is possible — not just possible, it’s reality! it happened! — indeed helps so much. Hang in there! <3

    2. Not A Manager*

      Glad things are looking up for you. Just one comment about the kitchen – in my experience, renovation projects always cost significantly more than you think, even based on good bids and careful research. Kitchens and bathrooms obviously cost the most per square foot. And you don’t always recoup all that money when you sell. Will the kitchen reno really make your current place worth living in?

      I hear you saying “I can reno now and move later,” and to me that sounds like the worst of both worlds. Obviously you know your own situation best, but I wonder if you’ve considered a middle path? Maybe you could make a clear exit plan from your current place, with an end date, and put up with the kitchen until then. Maybe you could move into a rental that you know is temporary and save money there. Maybe you could just repair or replace a few key items in your current kitchen, to make it more livable, but not spend a fortune on an entirely new one?

      Please ignore this entirely if it’s not what you were looking for. That date sounds very nice, btw.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Agreed. Renovations are so prone to the “as long as I’m doing X, I should do Y” syndrome. If you don’t like the place now, how will you feel when the kitchen is torn up for half an eternity?
        Even if the renovations proceed like clockwork, will you actually like the place when they’re done? Or will the rest of the flat still be horrible?
        Myself, I would do a few little things to make it less unbearable. Better lighting, textiles: that sort of thing can really cheer up a drab home without costing an arm and a leg. Paint doesn’t cost a fortune, either, especially if used on limited areas – one brightly colored wall can even be more attractive than doing the whole room. (And less work.)

        1. Shiny Carvanha*

          Honestly, even remembering how awful it was having the bathroom done years ago (we literally didn’t have a toilet for a few days) and imagining how awful it would be, I can only imagine celebrating as the horrible thing is ripped out.

          I still won’t like the rest of the flat; I’m ok with that. I was emotionally abused here for a long time. But the kitchen is by far the worst bit; is the only part we never did anything to improve. The rest of the place, I can move things around and yes paint and change things.

      2. Shiny Carvanha*

        I wouldn’t be doing it to add value, fwiw: it would be entirely to make me not want to die every time I go in there. It’s about 20 years old (best estimate) and it was poor quality to start with. Doors have broken off the cabinets and can’t be re-fixed onto the base units because they’re so old, so I can’t keep my kittens out of the cupboards, so I can’t take the top plates off the pile and end up re-washing things A Lot. The walls are in terrible shape, I need to rip out the unit under the sink so I can get the water supply replaced and I honestly have no idea how I’ll be able to manage to cover the hole afterwards (like I say, the units are very old; it’ll never be in a state to put back). The oven seal is broken and again has been for years. And as I say it makes me want to die whenever I go into it. I have been living with it for (counts) 16 years and I’ve hated it all that time, and I hate my flat generally, but I have no savings and realistically although a new kitchen will be eye-wateringly expensive, it will still be cheaper than moving.

        Ah man. I want to cry about it again now :(

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Perhaps you can find a handy-person who is a carpenter type and maybe does some plumbing.

          I so feel you. My house had me awake most nights. The person I hired (is also a friend) is not a big contractor type of person. And he was willing to really work at keeping prices down. This worked into two ways of saving money. He bought materials at building supply outlets/tag sales/where ever he could find good materials at a very reduced rate. The next way he reduced my costs was to talk about the next step of the project as we went along so we could plan what parts I would do. I did the more mindless parts such as pulling staples out of the floor after he removed the carpet. Hey, that was two less hours I had to pay him to work. And we kept doing this, I had an incredible amount of stuff I could easily do myself. I did a lot of painting, shuffling things around, getting supplies, organizing, and I cleaned up every night so he had a clean area to start with the next day. He did the hard parts, such as fixing doors, jacking up the floor, etc. It was amazing how much we were able to get done for the amount of money I spent.

          Look around, see if you can find a handy person for hire. Also look around and find out where building materials are sold a reduced prices near you. You might be able to find a new oven on clearance somewhere.

          I met my friend by asking for references from people similar to me. I am a woman on my own with a very tight budget. So I talked to other women on their own who seemed to be having some success managing their place and still remain on budget. Who were they getting to help them? And that is how I met my friend.

          1. Another regular, anon for this*

            This is reassuring to those of us whose futures include tighter budgets. It’s so helpful to read practical, real-world steps especially when my own idea supply runs low. One idea leads to another, the same way that taking the first constructive step somehow leads to the next.

        2. Reba*

          It sounds like, if you can do it without too much financial pain, the updates would really improve your life there. I mean, you go in the kitchen every day!

          You could also do research or speak to an agent about what changes would be needed to sell the place (I know you don’t recoup all the costs, but it sounds like some amount of work is really needed) and concentrate on that. And if you need to make those updates before selling, you might as well do them now so that you get to enjoy them.

          Re: the sink, what about something like the Ikea mini-kitchen? A friend has something similar with a curtain over the storage space.

        3. Shiny Carvanha*

          Thanks for all these comments. Haven’t got time to reply to them all but they are all helpful and I will bear them in mind! I hope I’ll be able to report back success :)

          1. Ron McDon*

            Reading this very late, so you may not see this, but (in the UK at least) people sell whole ‘used’ kitchens on Gumtree. Sometimes they give them away. I’ve seen units that look like new on there.

            My other suggestion is Ikea – some of their units are quite cheap, and everyone that I know who has bought a kitchen there has been pleased with the quality.

            Good luck with your renovations!

  33. Birthday Girl*

    Tomorrow is my first birthday since my Mom passed away in December. I feel ok, I think, but would really like it if people would send me some good thoughts tomorrow. Thank you

    1. female-type person*

      It is so dislocating when your mother dies. I used to “take my mother shopping” (in my head) and “she” would buy me a present. It was weirdly comforting. Have a positive birthday, to the extent that you can.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Thank you for this idea.
        I lost my mom when she was very old. For the last 10 years or so gifts were cash and a request that I splurge on some thing I had been talking about that costs too much. So maybe I can splurge on myself for my anniversary in october and think of my mom.

    2. Bewildered lately*

      I had the same recently. It is strange, but there will always be a ‘first’ everything. It helped me to keep busy. Best wishes for a lovely birthday and an amazing year!

    3. Not A Manager*

      Happy birthday :)

      This might sound ridiculous, but sometimes I use the Marie Kondo techniques for things other than material objects. There are people that I miss very much in my life, but in a way I’m fortunate to have good memories and to have had such a good relationship to even miss. Not everyone has that. So sometimes I think about the person and what they’ve meant to me and to others, and I sort of thank them for having been in my life in the way that they were. I can’t then “let them go” like you would a sweater, but I can sort of tuck them onto a shelf in my mind and know that I’ll come back another time to thank them again.

      Your mother would want you to have a good birthday. And I’m sure she would want to know that you miss her and think of her. Maybe tell her all of that. And tell her whatever your birthday plans are. And then go and enjoy those plans.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Happy birthday from the product of the American gumbo pot*:
      May your troubles be less,
      And your blessing be more.
      And nothing but happiness,
      Come through your door.
      Mazel tov!

      *A college professor suggested this alternative to the “melting pot” because we don’t all come out exactly the same mix, and gumbo let’s each spicy bit retain its own flavor while flavoring everything else.

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you the warmest wishes for a wonderful birthday. You are among friends here and a virtual hug is being sent across the internet.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Many good thoughts heading your way.

      Definitely think about going out and getting a mom-present for yourself. I don’t mention it too often but I do take myself birthday shopping. I just get some little thing that I know I will use often. I probably spend less the $20. It’s an affirmation of sorts, since people are gone from my life, I have to take care of me. So in a more or less symbolic gesture, I get some little thing I need on my birthday. I have done something to take care of myself.
      Some times I do this for Christmas also. It seems to bring some relief somehow.

    7. Blue_eyes*

      Happy birthday! It’s my birthday today too :) (really!). Sending good thoughts your way! <3

      My husband's grandmother (who helped raise him) passed away last November and we spent some time last night thinking about her and wishing that she could have met our soon-to-be-born son.

    8. Community appreciator*

      Happy birthday, fellow September baby! I hope you’ll feel cared for in the present, with lots of love from people who are now in the past, and from people you haven’t met yet who will love future you.

  34. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Crafting thread, so to speak.
    I’m on my third or fourth attempt at crocheting a baby blanket with some super bulky chenille yarn. I just can’t get the tension to work. If this latest idea doesn’t work, I’m going to go back to the rectangular piece that was feeling so thick it was more a bath mat, because this kid is months old already.
    Encourage me with success stories!

    1. Wicked Witch of the West*

      I have crocheted A LOT over the last fifty years. If you are using a bulky yarn you probably need a larger gauge hook. Also, if the yarn is irregular in thickness it will be a pain to crochet.
      Re the age of the baby: I do baby blankets for all the new babies of my nieces and nephews. The rule is if they get it before the kid starts first grade, it is on time :).

    2. Anonyme*

      I started knitting a sweater at the beginning of summer so it would be ready for fall. It is lovely and half a sleeve away from finished!

      1. Shelbie*

        I admire your persistence. I can’t stand working with bulky yarn.
        I crochet when I am in the mood so there are many times I have a blanket ready to go when a baby is born. Sometimes I think the blanket might have been made before the baby was even conceived. I only make them in white and use the same wool so when it goes on sale I can buy a lot and know it will get used.

    3. Dancing Otter*

      It’s a baby blanket. It doesn’t have to fit, so how important is gauge, in the end?

      Chenille in general, and bulky chenille at that, is not going to show your beautiful stitches. It’s all about the lush texture, which the yarn does all on its own. Just do something simple, and go on until you’ve used up your yarn.

      Baby blankets get barfed on and worse. If they’re well-loved, the toddler drags them through the mud and heaven knows what, and they’re grubby all the time no matter how often they’re washed.

      Don’t stress. Finished is better than perfect. Baby won’t know the difference, and Mom has other things on her mind than any imperfections in your stitches.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        8mm hook but my fingers just catch on the yarn! I’m not worrying so much about Gage as I am about the way the thing is getting triangular instead of square, or puckered.
        I did have one good idea on my 2nd attempt though– I’m using the lightest colors in the middle and the darkest for a border, so it won’t look as filthy as fast as did my daughter’s white-trimmed blankie!

    4. Knitter*

      You are giving me flashbacks! My last baby blanket project I was so frustrated with the yarn-it kept breaking. And while I was on track to finish by the due date, the baby was early. I did finish and it was beautiful and my friend cried when I gave it to her (most likely postpartum hormones…) and called it a heirloom.
      If is any consolation, babies technically aren’t supposed to sleep with blankets for several months (a year?). That was my excuse when I am late with a baby blanket…including the ones for my own children…who are, um, not babies anymore and still don’t have their blankets.
      The bathmat-like blanket sounds pretty cool to me because it would be good for sensory exploration.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oooh I like that thought. Maybe I’ll go back and finish it after I do the blanket I’m mentally committed to. I could size it to a pack-n-play.
        (To get the mom”s nursery color combo in soft stuff, I bought 3 big balls. So I might already have enough to do both.)

  35. Myrin*

    Oh goodness gracious.

    I’m going to be veeeery vague here because any details would indeed be super identifying for once, so: My family just discovered an animal in our garden which looks A LOT like an invasive animal which is extremely dangeous, ecologically speaking, and it was all the rage in the local news during the last few weeks that upon any sighting, authorities need to be contacted immediately.

    Of course this happens to me. And on a Saturday, to boot. I just searched the relevant website and it says to, as a first step, send pictures and describe the area of your finding. Which I just did.

    And I really, really don’t want this. I mean, once again I’m a law-abiding citizen looking out for her surroundings and I would never shirk that duty but Jesus Christ, can I just live my life in peace for once? Is this going to be another vehicle-stealing youngsters saga? Will I ever not have bizarre things happening to me?

    1. Zephy*

      Good on you for following directions, though. We have a similar issue here with invasive species; authorities declared “open season” on a particular kind of organism, and then later had to issue a clarifying statement that that does not mean citizens are free to destroy them by any means necessary (and also, there are other, similar-looking organisms that are not invasive, please don’t hurt them). There’s a humane way to dispatch a given kind of living thing, and most of them do not involve the unauthorized use of a firearm within city limits, which is still illegal, you guys.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      I live in a VERY large urban area. A neighbor called to say I had a coyote in my front bushes. I called every organization I could think of. Not one would help. I think the coyote walked away on its own.
      I had another neighbor who thought shooting the moles in her backyard with a Luger was a good idea – in town.
      The neighbor on the other side dumped gasoline onto a ground wasp nest on MY property and set it on fire. We were alerted to the event by the huge orange flash of light coming in the windows. Same neighbor nearly toppled my tree onto my house.
      Bizarre things? All the time! Laugh if you can.

      1. Clisby*

        In my city, Animal Control doesn’t deal with wildlife – you have to call a private wildlife removal service for that.

    3. LilySparrow*

      Well, once you report it to the authorities, what would you have to do? It seems like a “stay out of it” situation.

      1. Three Pines Visitor*

        You live in on Chicago’s North Shore and just discovered an Asian carp in your birdbath?

      2. Myrin*

        I mean, yeah, but there would still be a huge fuss trailing after it – if they can’t identify it by sight (from my photos), someone will have to come here to inspect the animal “live”; if it turns out to BE the invasive animal, the area around our house will have to be searched meticulously, which can – according to the news, at least – take weeks; our house will need to be quarantined within a radius of 100 metres; and the area inside that radius will need to be dealt with to make sure the animal is indeed wiped out (again, trying to be very vague here, but let’s say I live in an area with a lot of elderberries and the animals eats elderberries exclusively and as such, all the elderberries around me would have to be destroyed completely).

        I personally probably wouldn’t have to do anything other than greet the authority people and show them my findings but there’d still be restrictions on my life for quite some time.

  36. bassclefchick*

    Has anyone used Rail Bookers or Vacations by Rail? My husband and I have made the decision to FINALLY get to Scotland for our 10th anniversary. We have 4 years to plan and save, so plenty of time. But, all the choices are so overwhelming to me and I have NO IDEA where to start! I’ll try to dig though the archives on past threads about international travel. I am leaning toward a guided tour and he is leaning toward doing everything ourselves. I thought doing a train vacation would be a good compromise. Any suggestions?!

    1. LDN Layabout*

      Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it.

      These companies make a lot of money by providing a service that can be pretty easily done yourself to save money AND have a better time (e.g. smaller groups etc.)

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Also as an added FYI, I am a fairly active participant/lurker on a lot of travel forums and both these companies get frequent thumbs downs.

        Would you be willing to do a hybrid approach between tours and independent? Some parts of Scotland can easily be done by train/public transports and some really does require having a car/joining a small tour.

        1. bassclefchick*

          Would you mind sharing which travel forums you like? Thanks for the info! It did look a bit too good to be true on my first look.

          1. LDN Layabout*

            For forums, Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet. People can be…touchy, on both and I mainly lurk for ideas. I also do search out travel/food blogs for places I want to visit.

            If you don’t mind saying, why did you pick Scotland? What kind of stuff do you enjoy doing? How long do you think you’d have? Maybe we can get you started ;)

            1. bassclefchick*

              I’ve had several friends tell me about their trips and shown me their pictures. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go! We want to do about 2 weeks, I think. We love museums, local culture, and food. I absolutely love the Outlander books and would take one of those tours, but I don’t think I can convince my husband. Exploring castles, whisky, and just seeing the gorgeous landscape would be a fun trip.

              1. LDN Layabout*

                So, depending on how you travel (and I don’t like sticking in one place for too long, or rushing about too much, so middle ground XD). I’m assuming approx. 14/15 nights here:

                – Fly into Edinburgh or Glasgow. Doing it via London + self arranged transfer might be cheaper from where you are, but consider the time suck + additional cost. Assuming you’re American, finding a flight going via Dublin could be a winner (since you can do US entry there on your way back). Think about if you use credit cards with airline points now, with four years, it’s an option to consider.

                – If you like museums/culture/food bookend your trip with 3-4 nights either side of your trip in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Be careful with Edinburgh in August because of the Fringe festival, it’s a lot of fun and worth going to, but also prices for accomodation JUMP. If you collect hotel points, these are the cities to redeem those in.

                – Make a decision about renting a car or train or short tours. This will inform the rest of your planning, since some places you can go with both, others you can. Driving in the UK is not the same as driving in places like the US/Canada/Australia. The kind of distances you easily do on a US road trip are just not done like that here.

                – Outside of the cities, stay in B&Bs (unless you’re staying somewhere 5 nights or more and might consider self-catered). You get a good hearty breakfast and they just feel ‘nicer’ than a hotel. Unless you want to splash out for a night or two in a REALLY nice country house/castle hotel. Which hey, it’s your anniversary, why not? Doing this either mid-trip for a nice break/rest or towards the end to chill before heading home could be what you need to make this relaxing rather than a vacation you need a vacation from.

                – Outlander: https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/attractions/tv-film/outlander/ There’s no need to do a tour to see some of the locations. If it’s a nice place to visit anyway, there’s no harm in going. Compromise ;)

                – If you take out say a week for Glasgow/Edinburgh (and I love Edinburgh and you should go, but not enough people realise how great Glasgow is as well). Then you have a week left to do some nature/smaller places. If you get a car, Mull is absolutely amazing and you can do day trips to places like Iona and Staffa. Some islands, like Arran, are easier to do without a car.

                There’s tons of good whisky about, but also, a lot of good gin distilleries in Scotland now, if that’s something you’d enjoy as well.

    2. Girl in Scotland*

      You can use trains to get around Scotland pretty well, but it’s just as easy to choose your route and book yourself. Four years is a REALLY long time, you’ve got plenty to decide where you’d like to go and to plan your itinerary, then book much closer to the time. I wouldn’t waste your money on those companies, they’re a ripoff. You can get the Spirit of Scotland pass, for four or eight days of unlimited rail travel within Scotland, if you want to do a lot of train travelling. But I’d suggest picking a city or two (e.g, Edinburgh and Inverness) as your base, and take a couple of short guided tours (Rabbies do great minibus tours of a lot of places across Scotland, starting from Edinburgh or Glasgow). Scotland isn’t big enough for a “train vacation”.

      I suggest taking a while to do some reading on Scotland, make a list of places you want to go and things you want to do while you’re here, then you can figure out the best way to get to those. Don’t commit to a particular approach this far in advance.

    3. MMB*

      I did a bus tour of Scotland with CIE tours. Turns out bus tours aren’t my thing, BUT it was still a great tour. I know they have several different options depending on what your looking for.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Umpteen years ago I did a hostelling tour in Scotland. I bought a rail pass for the time I’d be there–unlimited travel, on/off at my whim. It was fabulous for the way I like to visit regular neighborhood’s as well as tourist spots.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      When I took a train to Scotland from London (the Caledonian Sleeper), I just used trainline dot com and followed all the instructions on The Man in Seat 61’s website (seat61 dot com). He talks about train travel in the UK, Europe, and the U.S. Very helpful information. Everything went exactly as he said it would.

    6. Anonymouse for this*

      Not sure where my post went so this might show up twice.

      Try visit scotland dot com website and search “railways” or “train tours” and it comes up with some suggestions. The website was useful when I planned a trip to Edinburgh.

    7. NJBi*

      My grandmother is a big fan of Go Ahead Tours, which could be a good compromise–it worked for going to England and France with my mother and me, who are both much more “DYI travelers,” as well as her, who leans more towards wanting structure. They arrange for a local tour guide, a hotel, ground transportation to and from the airport, dinner the first night in a city, a sight-seeing tour the next morning to get your bearings, and I think flights (though we did a separate flight from the group). Basically, they handle all of the logistics that you REALLY don’t want to mess up, while you get to plan the rest of what you’re interested in doing. Not sure if they offer tours in Scotland currently (though they might in four years!), but perhaps something to look into! Tours can also be a good source of inspiration for planning your own vacation, if you decide to DIY it.

  37. Mimmy*

    Can anyone recommend good reaching aids? It’s mainly for me because I’m short but my husband uses it too to get things down from top shelves. The one we’ve had for a long time finally broke, so he wants me to find one that I like.

    I was looking on Amazon last night. No matter which ones I looked at, the reviews were mixed – some say theirs broke quickly while others say theirs is awesome. I’m mainly interested in something that has a comfortable grip, durable, and can support the weight of most small items.

    Y’all are going to laugh but I could also use a grabber to reach down into our top-loading washing machine to pull out clothes. I hate being short lol.

    1. Zephy*

      5’2″ here, you have my sympathy, but alas I have no product recommendations for you. Also, I never thought of using a grabber to fish those last few socks out of the bottom of the washer, that’s genius! Here I am practically climbing into the machine to get them.

        1. Zephy*

          I have one of those awful stacked units – top-loading washer on the bottom and a dryer up top. I’m both too tall to fit in the space between the washer and dryer, so I have to hunch over all weird to reach into the washer (and my chest gets in the way, damn these things), and too short to reach the bottom of the washer once I have managed to pretzel myself up enough to get in there. I mean, it beats not having in-unit laundry machines (BTDT), but not by much.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Ironic tangebt: stretching for the stuff at the bottom of the washer turned out to be great PT for my frozen shoulder.

    2. Penguin*

      Not a brand per se, but you might try looking at tool and woodworking company websites- that’s certainly a thing I’ve seen there. Harbor Freight sells mid- to low- quality stuff cheap, or give your local big box chain a try- Lowes, Home Depot, Menards, etc. (I’m in the US; can’t speak for other countries’ options.) A couple other places you might not have thought of- Forestry Suppliers (all sorts of outdoor-type tools) and Grainger (workplace and safety-related equipment) both have several options.

      Forestry Suppliers and Grainger are likely to have more reliable products, but you will probably see a price increase with that. Good luck!

      1. Auntie Social*

        That’s what I got in rehab, minus the magnets which would be better. I use it to fetch little dog toys from under the sofa. It’s not really fun unless mommy’s on her knees. . . .

    3. PhyllisB*

      I use my grabber a lot, too. (5’4″ here.) One day I was using it to get something out of the cabinet and my 6’0″ son came through the room and said, “Mom. That’s for old people!” I said, “I AM an old people.” He said, “That’s what you have ME for!!” I told him, “You’re not always around when I need something.” Besides, he seems to have forgotten that he once complained to me about having to be the one to always reach the high shelves. I told him that’s what happens when you’re the tallest person in the house. Hubs is only 5’7″ and my girls are only about 5′.
      P.S. I’m on my second grabber, too. My first one fell apart so Hubs ordered me another one on-line.

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Not quite the same but I have a set of long kitchen tongs with silicone coating on the ends that I use for this purpose. They work great! Mine are from IKEA but I don’t think they have them anymore. But if you find a set they work well for short distances.

    5. Notthemomma*

      I have the one from Harbor Freight too. Put a magnet on it with glue so it sticks to the fridge when not in use. Also have one in the bedroom for top shelf clothes.

      And for the deep washer, I have a step stool next to it, but a cheap set of tongs from the dollar store helps me reach clothes at the bottom.

      All us short people should rise up against ….well, I don’t know, but something! ;-)

  38. StellaBella*

    So I posted recently about my friend and mentor passing away. In the past 3 weeks since she died, I have started to really think about what she would do in some situations. When I am frustrated at work or in life now, I take a few moments and actively try to think about the reaction she might have. So that is a positive.

    And today I have started to make plans to leave where I live in April of next year. Read my lease and can give notice for this apartment 5th Jan to leave I hope 1 April, tho the lease goes to 30th. Pre-booked an AirBnB in a place I want to move to for getting the feel of things. Am looking at used cars tho not sure I need a car yet, as don’t have a lot of savings for that, but may be able to swing it. Am re-evaluating my budget a lot and thinking about taxes I will owe next year. And I am sleeping a lot this weekend so far as I had a very bad food-induced gastro last few days so trying to rest.

    I think my friend would be proud.

    1. fposte*

      I absolutely agree, and that’s the kind of lasting influence I think all of us would hope to have.

  39. Morning reader*

    Happy Labor Day to all American workers here. Go grill some meat or salad your potatoes or whatever is your preference.

  40. Here's what I'm mad about this week*

    rant of the week….Plus size. shopping. and advertising. the whole body positive movement in general. I love it all. But my only gripe is that apple shapes are realy forgotten/not considered. Every “curvy” woman has slimmer hips and no double chin. I mean, not that they don’t deserve representation — they do. But Not every plus size woman has a smaller waist compared to her hips or giant bust. Some of us have masculine body shapes – narrow hips thick waists etc. I’ve been following this since I was a teen in the early 2000s, and I like how far we’ve come from those days of “wear black/navy if you’re fat, it’s slimming” but maybe there’s a way to go.

    that’s all.

    1. !*

      Apple-shape here, I feel your frustration and it’s gotten worse since menopause and I have diastasis recti not from ever being pregnant but just from being obese. Really trying to get some of the weight off and reduce my stomach area so that the clothes I do like and *used* to look decent on me do so again. It’s a never-ending battle and one thing I try to avoid is comparing myself to anyone else, I am who I am, I am built the way I am, and the only thing I can do is control what I can for myself.

    2. Acornia*

      And I am the plus size woman who does have the slimmer waist and big hips/butt, and I get frustrated that plus sized pants are often built like a funnel with the waist as the widest part….
      I think the problem is that far too many plus sized things are just the same size 6 clothes with all the dimensions increased.
      So you end up with giant waists, every neckline is an off the shoulder Flashdance style neckline if you lean to the side, and arm holes that show the entire bra band.

      1. Zephy*

        Hit the nail on the head. Precious few clothing makers actually design clothes for plus-sized bodies, they just scale up their straight-size patterns in bizarre ways. I, too, have a body that many clothes just plain aren’t built for; there aren’t many things more frustrating and disheartening than trying on a pair of pants that are too big and too small all at the same time. I also have a 26″ inseam – that’s as good as it gets, I’ve been done growing for twenty years. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve found pants that come close to accommodating my gloriously lumpy physique without also leaving me with enough material to make a whole second pair of pants after hemming them.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Yes, this is such a big part of the problem! It drives me nuts, especially the huge arm hole problem. I could never figure out why so many shirts were uncomfortable or wouldn’t stay in place until I realised that the sleeves were basically attached to my navel rather than my armpit.

        I had the body shape frustration today. I did a bit of shopping today and everything was all wrong for my shape, which is sort of an hourglass with extra bits stuck on the front. All the bottoms I tried were huge everywhere except the waist, or weirdly small in the thigh, or just generally wrong. I hate clothes shopping!

      3. Dee-Nice*

        Yes! The armholes! I wonder sometimes if manufacturers are trying to save on fabric by cutting a larger armhole instead of actually making the bust larger. So very frustrating. I’ve had to return otherwise perfectly cute shirts because of the sidebra issue.

    3. Rebecca*

      I have a hard time finding pants that fit. I have a thick waist and not curvy hips, but my thighs and behind are sort of proportional to that…but…when I find pants that fit around the waist, most of the time I could fit throw pillows in the butt and thigh part. If I find pants that aren’t baggy there, I can’t fasten them. I end up wearing mostly leggings if I can get away with it, or elastic waist pants, because I simply can’t get pants that fit right.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        I have the opposite problem. If I can get my thighs in, then there’s a minimum 4 inches too much in the waist, and they’ll still be too tight in the butt. So there’s a lot of leggings, drawstring waists, and men’s cargo shorts with waistband pull tabs in my summer swardrobe. I’m lucky if I find one pair of jeans in 12 hours of shopping. And if I do find something and grab another “identical” pair in a different color….it doesn’t fit. I’m also right on the edge of being the biggest regular size or smallest plus size, and often the structure is totally different in a supposedly identical item between an XL and a 1X.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My mother in law has the problem on spades– she’s short & fine-boned, but has a wide waist. She’s having trouble finding tops that fit conservatively at the neckline and still are comfortable around her waist.
      Suggestions other than maternity would be welcome.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I live near one…maybe I’ll see if they have any clearance sale items so she won’t chastise me for overspending.

    5. tiasp*

      YES! IT’S NOT JUST ME!!! I’m always looking at stuff and wishing that I could see how it would look on someone shaped like me. All the models seem to just be slightly fuller hourglass figures. No one has a protruding stomach.

      For shirts, I moved up to 5X in order for them not to be snug around my stomach, but the arm holes ARE ridiculously huge! I’m actually wearing a tank top right now with safety pins in the arm pit to pull in 3 or 4 inches of fabric. I choose my bra (black or nude) by what will blend in best since it will be visible under my arms.

      This year, my clothing store of choice started carrying “swing style” tanks and shirts (very limited selection though). They flare out at the bottom, so there’s more room in the waist. Love them, except I was buying them in 5X and I just realized that with the swing style bottom, I could have gone back to 4X. So I’ve got several of the same tank top that is nice and loose/flowy around my waist but saggy and big on top, and the 4Xs are sold out. I saw a swing style shirt that I LOVED, ordered it in 5X, but it was WAY too wide on top (awesome around the waist though!), but by the time I’d received mine and tried it on, they were sold out of the 4x version. That would have been my favourite shirt. Sigh.

      Also, the style of pants they recommend from me is straight, because my waist and hips are practically the same measurement. I had been buying slightly curvy, but went into a store and couldn’t find any in my size. Associate tells me to get the straight ones. I did, but they don’t stay up – I need the slightly curvy just to hug in at the waist so they don’t slide off. Very frustrating.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I’m 5’2” and a size 18. Plus pants seem to be designed for someone 6 feet tall!
        And you cannot alter or hem pants if you’ve got to cut off 10 inches of leg because the proportion will be all wrong.

    6. LizB*

      Definitely a long way to go. It’s gotten so much better… and still not even close to good. I’m a fairly hourglassy plus sized gal, and my smaller-but-more-rectangular friend has maybe even more trouble than I do finding good clothes.

    7. b*

      I’ve been getting alot of emails from and reading good internet feedback about the brand Universal Standard. They look interesting and have real fat people as their models. May need to place an order.

  41. MOAS*

    Anyone paint as a hobby?

    I used to paint (and draw and make collages and write and generally be creative) and I’m itching to pick it up again. The only thing I paint right now is my face (i love makeup lol)..I haven’t painted for like 15 years. I used to have a lot more time and energy to do it (but no money!) now I have money but not a lot of time or space really LOL.

    I used to have a very healthy collection of acrylic paints and paintburshes and canvases…but all gone so I’ll be starting from scratch.

    1. Chairman Meow*

      It’s funny you posted this because I just picked up a paintbrush again for the first time in over 10 years. It was something I did in high school/as a child, but not since. I decided to paint again because I just moved into a new apartment and wanted to start populating my walls, and remembered I had the ability to make pictures at one point. I ordered a basic set from Amazon that wasn’t too big, but enough to paint 8 miniature canvases.

    2. knitter*

      I’m hoping to get back into painting again also. There is an art center near my house that rents studio space. In the next year or so I should have the money to do that. However, I have two little ones and don’t want the time away. I fantasize about setting up a little art table for my kids, well, at least the older one. But that wouldn’t work because I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my own work.
      I still have the art supplies (oils, brushes, a couple of canvases), but I have no clue what condition they’re in.
      I just have to satisfy myself with semi-regular art classes at the art center.

  42. Buying time?*

    Favorite ways to buy time?

    A colleague is on maternity leave and I’m getting a temporary 20% salary bump to cover some of her work. Last time this happened, I bought a Roomba and paid for a laundry service. Both were absolutely worth it. This time, I have two small children and am looking for some other ways to use the extra $ to make life a little easier. Takeout is tricky with picky little kids and food allergies, but we do what we can and buy a lot of, like, pre-chopped veggies and such at the grocery store. Tips for finding simple, low-sodium takeout options are appreciated! House cleaning in my area tends to be paid under the table, which isn’t an option because of my husbands job. Anyone have any other ideas for ways to buy time?

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Yard work, cleaning (there’s got to be someone that is ok), babysitting/activities for kids so you can get stuff done or just relax, house maintenance projects.

      Maybe not for this time period, but decluttering. The less stuff you have, the easier it tends to make life. and in general, we’ve got too much stuff.

    2. fposte*

      AFAIK, the cleaner thing isn’t so much “paid under the table” as “subject to payroll taxes and reporting if you pay them more than $2100 annually.” It’s true that a lot of people don’t do payroll taxes even if they pay more than $2100, but would paying for fewer visits so that no payroll taxes were required be sufficient?

      1. fposte*

        Looking further, I find this is greyer than my first source suggested, in that if the cleaner works for many different people they’re likely to be considered an independent contractor and thus not subject to payroll taxes even over $2100.

    3. Alex*

      Paying someone who is in business for themselves as a housecleaner is fine–you don’t need to worry about employment taxes. You’d need to worry if you hired a housekeeper as an employee.

      Having someone clean my house is definitely my favorite way to buy time!!

      1. Buying time?*

        Mime too! I spent months trying to make it work when we first moved here and just ended up frustrated. I don’t want to give details that would be recognizable, but we tried individuals and companies and ended up ghosted or with property damage. Once bitten, twice shy. I’d rather clean my house than try again : )

        I

      2. Clisby*

        I was about to say the same. Or if you engage a cleaning service, where the cleaners are employees of the company, not you. Are those not available in your area? That would be the last luxury to go at my house.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Yeah, there are services like this, but if you’re far enough away from a significant metro/suburban are, they may not be in range.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Grocery delivery service? I pooh-poohed Shipt when I first read about it, but my friend and I split their Black Friday deal (half price for one membership, get a second to gift for free, so it was like $25 for each of us) and we’ve both used the hell out of it.

      1. Buying time?*

        Oh! I will try that! Shopping with small children sucks, but they love getting deliveries. Thanks!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I do my own shopping on weekends for the most part, but it’s super handy for the last minute “oh I forgot these few things” or, not gonna lie, I use it when I want to stock up on dog food, bottled water or soda 12 packs. (I don’t have stairs, I come out to carry it all into my garage and I tip well, I promise.)

        2. LilySparrow*

          Walmart and target both have free order-online, pick up on your schedule services. They bring it right out and put it in your car.

          One of our local walmarts delivers, too. That’s 5 or 10 bucks a pop, I think.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            If you love yourself at all, steer clear of the Walmart grocery pickup. I guess maybe you might have a different experience depending on your location, but we have had nothing but problems with it. Rotten produce, expired dairy products, missing items, and then the straw that broke the camel’s back was that our order wasn’t ready until FOUR HOURS after the scheduled pick-up time, and we couldn’t get anybody to give a crap. It is less frustrating and time-consuming to go there and pick out the stuff ourselves than it is to order for pickup and hope to God they have their wits about them that day.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My area has several local groceries with services, and I’m going to take advatage of that come winter. Our pharmacy now offers prescription deliver service too.

        1. Kat in VA*

          +1 on grocery delivery. I went back to work after 20 years as a SAHM – and I’m gone roughly 12 hours a day 0630 to 1830. Weekends are spent, uh, sleeping a lot.

          The $17.00 my grocery store charges to deliver is totally worth it. Bonus – I send a group text with a five minute timer to all my kids and my husband is usually right next to me when I’m ordering, so it cuts down on those things that aren’t bought with every weekly trip, like mouthwash or ketchup.

    5. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      Low-sodium, kid friendly, good allergy safe takeout seems almost impossible. What about buying an Instant Pot to make big batches of things you can mix and match for meals? Stuff like hard boiled eggs (snacking, salad topping, egg salad), salsa chicken (burrito bowls, tacos, sandwiches/wraps), whatever legumes and grains y’all eat often, beef and pork roasts, soups and stews, etc.

      1. Buying time?*

        Ooh! I’ve been eyeing an Instapot. Hard boiled eggs are a staple for us. Maybe this is a good excuse to give it a try. Thanks!

        1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

          If you eat a lot of hard boiled eggs it’s totally worth it just for that! You can easily do a couple dozen at a time in the 6-quart Instant Pot, and they’re so much easier to peel. I usually get very fresh eggs from a local farmer and those are notoriously difficult to peel, but pressure cooking makes it a breeze and I don’t end up wasting all that white that sticks to the inside of the shell.

        2. Bibliovore*

          Instant Pot is one of my trading money for time. I make the dog food in it. Every Sunday the weeks batch of hard boiled eggs, oatmeal. In the evenings I have made potatoes, kale chickpea stew.

    6. Not A Manager*

      Yes to grocery delivery services. Saved my life when my kids were little.

      On a completely different note, one place that I personally needed to “buy time” was private time with my husband. We would occasionally hire an overnight sitter and book a hotel nearby. Go out to a nice dinner or have some cocktails – somewhere off of our beaten path – and then sleep late the next morning. The rule was “no kid talk.”

      Sometimes we’re so busy putting out all the immediate fires that we don’t notice when our primary relationship needs tending. At least that was true for me.

    7. YetAnotherUsername*

      The book 168 hours has an entire chapter dedicated to how to use you to buy time. Some things that I remember though there are lots and I recommend that book:
      Paying for grocery delivery
      Buying easy to cook food eg pre chopped veggies
      Laundry service
      Meal delivery service
      Extra childcare
      Taxis instead of busses (if this would save time)

      Congrats

    8. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Nesting fail earlier so scroll agreed for my response. And let us know what you decide!

    9. Pam*

      Our washing machine died about a year back. We hired a laundry service. I still do big items – towels, comforters, etc. myself at the laundromat about once a month, but its nice to have someone deal with the weekly basket.

    10. Chaordic One*

      I’m mildly surprised to see such enthusiasm for grocery delivery and/or pickup services. I’ve never used one because I would always be worried about what kind of meat and/or produce they shoppers would select and about getting a bunch of dented cans and crushed boxes, but then I’m kind of picky about such things and I guess they don’t matter that much in the big picture. Also, I wonder what happens if an item is out-of-stock? I run into that all the time at my local stores. Do they substitute it with a different brand or different size? The comments here are making me reconsider my reservations.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        They don’t just give you the worst stuff! If they did that you wouldn’t ever use them again.

        If something is not available they will pick the closest substitute and it will be marked out on your receipt. I think they also ask on delivery if you are willing to accept the substitution or not

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Most will text you (or through the web portal) if a substitute is suggested and what it would be. You can say yes or no, or say never substitute.

        Generally the produce picks are good – only times I might be extra picky was if I wanted avocados to use that very day for example.

        I also think they over package/wrap more carefully then I would. For example, I don’t put produce in the produce bags myself unless it’s like green beans – if I order groceries, everything comes in a produce bag. So I wouldn’t be worried about that.

      3. LizB*

        To add on about substitutions, I use Instacart to shop from my local store on busy weeks, and they’ll often give you an opportunity to approve substitutes when you place your order for items that are often out of stock at your store. I’ve never had them substitute something totally off-base, they’re quite good at finding equivalents.

      4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        With Shipt, at least, the shoppers let me know when they’re getting started and they touch base if they can’t find exactly the item I asked for. Sometimes they offer alternatives based on what they’re looking at — if I ordered 2 15 pound bags of dog food, they’ll ask if I want one 28-pound bag instead, if the cereal with almonds is out, they’ll ask if I want the one without almonds. At one point I ordered a tube of caulk, and it turned out that the type I’d ordered was the kind that requires the gun – she asked if I needed the gun too or if I’d skipped it on purpose. When I ordered a dog chew that was out of stock, she took pictures of that section of the aisle to show me what my options were. Then at the end, they let me know they’re heading to the checkout, so if there’s anything last minute, let them know. I’ve said “Hey, can you grab me a kit-kat in the checkout lane,” and they’ve done. I’ve said “Thanks for jumping through the hoops with that, please feel free to grab yourself a candy bar in the checkout lane and add it to my cart, up to $2,” and they’ve done. I’ve never gotten battered merchandise, bad produce, weird meat. Perishables get packed into insulated bags for the delivery and I’ve never had anything delayed long enough to warm up. They’ve always been super nice and super communicative. :) I can’t speak for all the services, obviously, but I’ve been super happy with Shipt. In my area, they deliver from Target and Meijer, plus Petco and CVS. (I’ve never used those last two.) My bestie in NC has a few more grocery-specific stores in her local selection.

    11. purple otter*

      In the lines of prepared foods – would it be possible to book a home chef/cook for a week or so to prepare a bunch of freezer-friendly foods that would fit the dietary needs of your family? Could be kinda expensive upfront, but could pay for itself if you could also get the recipes from the chef to continue using in the future.

    12. LilySparrow*

      Instant pot is fantastic because you can either start dinner in the morning and use it as a slow-cooker, or make stuff pretty fast at the time.

      The recipe times are a little deceptive, though. You have to allow for the time to come up to pressure, so add 10-15 minutes. The upshot is that long-cook recipes get significantly faster, (Like pulling frozen chicken breasts out and eating within the hour). But stuff that was already pretty quick isn’t any faster, it’s just hands-off.

      For example, homemade mac n cheese from scratch is listed as 6 minutes. Well, not really. It’s actually about 16-20, which is about the same time it takes to boil water on the stove and cook pasta while you make a bechamel. But it saves draining the pasta water and dirtying 2 pans, so it’s more convenient.

      One of my favorite crunch-time plans was once-a-month freezer cooking. It takes an intense weekend up front to prep, but then you have 4-6 weeks of food that you can dump in the crockpot or slap on a sheet pan.

  43. Chairman Meow*

    Not a work-related post, but my job and job search depression has been carrying on for the past 2 weeks and continues into this weekend. (It’s weird how it’s precisely when you are particularly UNHAPPY with your job when it tends to be hard not think about it during your off time.) I’m very happy it’s a long weekend – not because I have anything planned – but so I can just lean into my mopey listlessness and do small enjoyable things that might make me feel better, like bingewatching movies. And looking at cat accounts on Instragram.

  44. Penguin*

    Plant thread! How does your garden grow? Which weeds just won’t die? Discuss and commiserate with fellow botanically-inclined folks!

    1. SAHM*

      It’s finally going to be cool this week! Mid to high 80’s instead of 90-100’s, so I’m planning on weeding every day during LO’s naptime. Today we’re planning on going to Petaluma, there’s a dahlia field that I want to have a picnic in and there’s some nice hiking in that area. I’m also talking with the hubs about a trip to Mendocinos Botanical Garden, (47! Acres!) but that’s quite a drive, so we’ll see. It might be a “leave the house at 5am” all day trip.
      My pink and purple dahlias are bursting with blooms and my red orange fade one has two buds again.
      I’m trying to decide when/if I should split my Gerberas and trying to figure out overwintering them, it doesn’t get snow cold here, but we might have some freezing nights- or we might have some 90 degree February weather. Who knows?
      I’m also planning on moving the dahlias to another area of my yard next year bc they need a 5-10-10 fertilizer and the Gerberas need a 10-5-10 and mums need a 5-10-5 …. so yeah. The Zinnias are freaking weeds at this point, I’m trying to figure out if I can compost them or if that will just infect my compost with more Zinnias. Lol!
      I have completely ignored my tomatoes and peppers this past week, I’m hoping they aren’t too burnt up, we’ll see. The pumpkins surprised with a fifth(!) pumpkin hiding under the lemon tree, I’ve been planting pumpkins for five years now and this is the first time we have actual pumpkins and not just miles of vines.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I don’t know avocados, but that happens with nuts and apples when they’re buggy.
        There are NO quince on the tree at my father in law’s. It’s my old place. In 20+ years this is the first time there will be nothing.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Well, apparently ryegrass is not a good choice of grass species for my yard as most of it died this summer. Had someone come today to dethatch the lawn (desperately needed), then I put down about 150lbs of grass seed. Mix of fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass, with a bit of clover seed thrown in. If I’m going to have weeds, I’d prefer that they at least help the bees!

    3. Slartibartfast*

      I am not happy with my BlackPrince tomatoes. Very little flavor and they’re staying green and woody at the tops. I am just now getting ripe raspberries, they usually come ripe in the spring. The cucumbers didn’t do much either. But the marigolds are huge, there’s a bumper crop in the herb garden and lots of big bumblebees in the raspberries and basil. I also got the wood border done on one side of the house, just one more flower bed to frame in! Next year we can start fighting the crab grass and clover.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        leave the clover. it’s good for the bees and the dirt. Crabgrass is not your friend however

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I think most of my potential grapes withered, and I’m not sure why. Not enough water, maybe? The vines grew all over the place this year, and there were lots and lots of future-grapes everywhere, but I only see less than 10 bunches that are actually plumping up (and all ones that are up really high since grape vines decided to grow up the cherry tree while I had my back turned, which I’ll be fixing this winter).

      The blackberry vines are still growing just fine, of course. I cut a bunch more down today, but could probably spend an hour a day on this without finding them all. I don’t know if it’s even possible to get permanently rid of them once they’re established in my climate without just paving over everything. At least I don’t have bamboo…

      The roses are kind of ratty because I haven’t been spending the time on them I need to, but seem to be healthy so they’ll probably do better next year if I have a summer where I’m home more.

      I didn’t even try to plant annuals this year, so no veggies at home. Everyone else seems to have a major tomato surplus, so I’m not having any trouble getting enough this time of year anyway, though.

    5. Knitter*

      We’ve had an interesting summer with our vegetable garden. Some things grew like crazy, some died right away. We have raised beds, so something must be wrong with the soil in them. I’m worried I won’t get enough tomatoes for sauce this year. We didn’t get any Basil this year. I’ll be spending the winter trying to figure out solutions for next spring.

    6. Middle School Teacher*

      I was away the entire month of July! I had asked my mom to look after my house and yard, and she’s a great gardener, but my dad kind of took it over and he completely neglected my garden. The strawberries basically took it over. So now I’m trying to untangle the whole works and decide which to yank and which to save. It’s also been raining like crazy here so my grass is growing like nobody’s business and my tomatoes won’t ripen. It’s just a lost cause this year, I think.

  45. SamDouglas*

    Podcast Thread

    what are you listening to? what do you enjoy?

    i’ve mostly listed to Ask A Manager (obvs), Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Ologies with Alie Ward, and Big Deal with Ashley Graham.

    1. Not So Little My*

      I’m not a big podcast person but I listen to Judge John Hodgman, Dear Prudence, and Let’s Talk About Cats. My spouse enjoys the Marketplace family of podcasts, especially Make Me Smart.

    2. Grace*

      I’ve got Ologies subscribed, but haven’t yet got into the routine of listening to them. My favourite is No Such Thing As A Fish, forever and always, and my other three favourites are all related to YouTube channels – Dead Meat (film nerd stuff, specifically horror or horror-adjacent, and I’m honestly just here for the hosts), Beauty News (podcast versions of the hour-long episodes from the channel of the same name – new releases in beauty and skincare with lots of added sarcasm and sass) and Death in the Afternoon (from the Order of the Good Death/Ask a Mortician/Caitlin Doughty).

    3. Just a Guy in a Cube*

      Ear Hustle from San Quentin prison. NPRs Pop Culture Happy Hour, In Our Time from the BBC, Backlisted is great talking about older books, The Slowdown is a daily 5-minute poem. All are among my top listens

    4. Reliquary*

      I’m a podcast maven.
      The Allusionist (about words)
      Dear Prudence (an advice column with Daniel Mallory Ortberg)
      Nice Try! (about failed utopias)
      Ear Hustle (about San Quentin Prison)
      The Memory Palace (about history)
      Criminal (about people who have done something illegal)

      And I am about to start listening to The Ballad of Billy Balls (about a musician who was killed in NYC in 1982)

    5. Dragonista*

      Our Opinions are Correct – hosted by author & science journalist Annalee Newitz and science fiction author Charlie Jane Anders, this podcast explores all forms of science fiction. Books, movies, TV, sometimes with special guests.
      Films to be Buried With – Brett Goldstein talks to a series of different guests about the films that have made an impact on their lives.
      Off Menu – Comedians Ed Gamble and James Acaster invite special guests onto the podcast to choose their favourite starter, main course, side dish dessert and drink. Very funny, just started listening to the second season.
      All Killa No Filla – British comedians Rachel Fairburn and Kirk Pritchard-McLean discuss serial killers
      Shedunnit- a podcast discussing the Golden Age of classic detective fiction

    6. LizB*

      Recently binge-listened to the entirety of Venture Maidens, a Dungeons & Dragons podcast. Highly recommend if you’re a DnD fan. Hilarious, excellent DMing and playing, really lovely people involved.

  46. Lady Jay*

    Y’all, I saw a BEAR on my morning run today!

    I was running in a large, mountainous state park near me. I rounded Mile 3 & came face-to-face with a cub!! We scared each other, clearly–he bolted in one direction, I bolted in the other, and that was it.

    What amazes me now is how swiftly the human brain works. From the moment I saw the bear to the moment I turned and walked quickly away, no more than a second passed. But in that moment, I registered:
    1) That’s a bear!
    2) It’s a CUB, which means
    3) Mama Bear is close by, and
    4) I need to SCOOT.

    This wasn’t conscious at all; it just happened, on instinct, which is amazing to me. Also, it means that when people ask me, “Do you have a picture of the bear???” the answer is “Of course no. I was making sure I stayed alive long enough to have a story about the bear.”

    1. fposte*

      Yikes! Glad that went all right for both of you. Black bear or grizzly?

      When I was a kid and used to go riding in the rural upper midwest, there’d be the occasional surprise bear encounter. (There’d also be the occasional horse reaction that suggested a nearby bear, but we humans didn’t see anything.) Generally we both just went about our business, but not without some intense thought on the part of the humans.

      1. Lady Jay*

        Black bear, thankfully. I think the fact that cub must have been ahead of/behind its mom was probably in my favor, as she wasn’t there to immediately perceive me as a threat. I retreated about a half-mile back up the trail and waited for another 15 minutes to go back down. As with your experience, going about my business seemed best . . . just a little more slowly than I’d planned.

        Funnily enough, I lived in the Plains states as a child, and we visited Colorado all the time. I very much wanted to see a bear, albeit from a safe distance or from the car, but I never did. Now I’ve seen one, but a little closer than preferred!

        1. Asenath*

          We often saw black bears when I was a child (my family did a lot of camping). One of my sisters started walking up to an animal she initially thought was a large dog before she realized it was a cub! Black bears aren’t particularly aggressive, but you were right in moving on – one of my very early childhood lessons was never never get between a mama bear and her cub! She’s unlikely to think twice about protecting said cub, and bears are powerful and can move a lot faster than most people think they can. Get out of the way and let her and the cub move on in their own time, like you did.

      2. Jules the First*

        One of my friends likes to joke that if you were close enough to definitively answer the black or grizzly question, you got too close!

        Bear encounters are surprisingly common for solo runners and cyclists because you don’t make enough noise so the bear doesn’t hear you coming. I’m normally pretty nonchalant about bears, having grown up in the land of wild animals that eat hoomins, but I carry bear bells when running, riding or hiking solo in bear country and I talk to myself or sing along to my iPod…one feels a bit like an idiot, but better to look like an idiot than get mauled by a mama bear.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      My husband and I were going for a walk in our neighbourhood last week when we saw an adolescent bear just galumping around to raid people’s trash. He nearly clotheslined me when he flung his arm out to stop me walking, but we hurried in the opposite direction, lest Mom be close by. Adrenaline’s something else, I tell you.

    3. MissGirl*

      Today was my first hike with bear spray. You make me glad I did. I think I’d handle it the same as you other than probably wet myself.

    4. LGC*

      …and that’s why you run with friends. That way, you don’t have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun your slowest friend.

      (I kid!)

      Anyway, you were a lot more chill about it than I would have been! I’d have just started sprinting, which I don’t think you’re supposed to do.

    5. Animal worker*

      Kudos to you for being so smart. Your list is perfect as is your response on people asking about getting a picture. I wish everyone was as intelligent and wildlife-savvy as you!

    6. Rebecca*

      This is why I don’t have many pictures of bears, and if I do, it’s always “see that black dot right there?” I’ve seen one black bear this year so far, he or she had a yellow tag in its ear, so it was caught and released previously, and it took off with the hummingbird feeder right before dark. I looked out the kitchen window, and there it was. I said out loud, hey, and the bear looked up and was like “oh she caught me” and took the feeder. I found the feeder a little later on the walk nearby, not really damaged but drained of liquid. I try to take the feeder in right before dark and take it out again in the AM.

    7. Kat in VA*

      /sort of related, in terms of dangerous wild animals

      Back when I was younger (as in my 40s), I used to ride my dirtbike solo in the backwoods wilds of north Idaho. I always carried a firearm just in case I ran across a bear – not because I wanted to use it but only to defend myself if necessary.

      In the ten years I lived there, I never saw a bear but oh man, the amount of moose (and deer, foxes, skunks, coyotes, and even a few cougsars) I saw was insane. The reaction was always the same…humming along, see a moose, instant bolt of adrenaline, turnturnturn and roar off in the opposite direction.

      My “city” friends were always disappointed I didn’t take a picture. One does not simply take a picture when confronted with a moose in the wild. One BLASTS OFF AS FAST AS POSSIBLE.

      One time, the husband had young daughter #1 out on the quad for a slow ride. They rounded a bend and boom, there was a mama moose with not one, not two, but THREE babies (he said two little ones and one that looked like a “teenager”). They all stared at each other for a moment, the quad engine rumbling, and then the momma moose lowered her head, snorted, and stomped her feet and husband said he’d never pulled a Rockford* on a quad in his life before but executed it flawlessly trying to get away. Daughter #1 was crying and wanted to “go back and see the deer!”

      *From an old TV show, where you reverse very quickly and then turn so the vehicle spins and is facing forward.

      To clarify: moose are goofy looking but incredibly dangerous, and the dangerousness level of a male moose in rut (i.e., horny male moose) and a female moose with babies is about the same. Husband said that’s the most scared he’s ever been near a wild animal up to an including the time he stepped off a dirtbike and put his boot down 2″ from a rattlesnake.

  47. Moth*

    I was a little unsure whether to post this under yesterday’s open post or today’s, but I decided that it’s less about work and more about looking to get se input on general life decisions. But uncertainty around work does tie in.

    The only work piece that I’ll mention is that I’ve been at my current job a little over three years and I go back and forth between it being something I enjoy and can see a future at and something that I just don’t know how long I can stick it out at. And honestly that’s all do to one person (grand-boss). But its got great benefits and the pay is probably as good as I can find. And the frustrations don’t go both directions; I’m at no risk of being fired and will likely be promoted in the next year or so. How that ties in to general life is multi-fold. Suddenly I’ve come up against a lot of decisions and I tend to be an overthinker, paralyzed by the depth of decisions. There are three big ones I’m facing.

    1. MBA- Work has offered to pay for me to get an MBA. In my field, this is something that can truly help me advance and would open options for me at my current job or elsewhere (please trust me on this point, I know an MBA isn’t worth it for everyone, but it would be for me). However, I have to stay on for at least three years after finishing or else I have to pay back some/all of the money.

    2. Home – An opportunity is coming up in the next couple of months to buy a home in a good part of town and that would be in my price range. The city I live in has had ridiculous growth the past several years and is expected to continue at these rates for at least the next decade, then maybe level off. The recommendations are always to buy a house now, because values go up about 5-10% each year. I wouldn’t be able to put as much down as a down payment as I would like, but it would still be a very good investment. I’m currently renting.

    3. Family – This one is non-negotiable for me. I plan to start a family in the next year and unless a partner suddenly appears (unlikely), I’m likely to be doing it alone. I want to have enough savings to be able to be comfortable starting down this path. And obviously there will be some upfront costs involved. As a side note, my work has good parental leave benefits and is flexible and supportive of family to a degree that would be hard to find elsewhere.

    I make good money and would have enough to pay for 2 and 3 each month without any problems. 1 I wouldn’t have enough for (or couldn’t justify paying for) without work’s help. My savings have been quite depleted recently helping some of my family out, but I still have about 6 months of living expenses set aside. However, that’s about it. I grew up poor and I don’t think I’ll ever feel safe making decisions that involve financial risk. Am I crazy to be considering all of these at once? What if a year from now I decide I just can’t handle work and have to leave? Does anyone have any thoughts around any of them? Or the entirety of the situation? Any outside, unbiased opinions would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Not A Manager*

      How long would it take to get your MBA under your company’s plan? How much time would you have to devote each week?

      In my opinion, moving jobs when you’re planning to get pregnant, or right after the baby is born, can be risky and difficult for a lot of reasons. So if you’re planning to start your family in the next year, that might be another good reason to plan to stay in your job for at least a few more years anyway. In which case, might as well get the MBA ***if*** it were cost-free in terms of time and effort. That’s why I asked how long the process will be and how much extra work it will be for you.

      I’m sure you love your family and want to be helpful to them, but are you setting clear boundaries that will keep you safe in the near future? “Depleted” is a strong word when you’re talking about your savings in the context of buying a house and starting a family.

    2. Marzipan*

      Single lady here currently a teeny bit pregnant after (lots of) fertility treatment. Hi!

      For me, something really important if I was going to do this was being comfortable that I have a reasonable amount of job security, decent finances, and would be in a good position regarding both formal policies like maternity leave and informal things like a level of goodwill. So, although I do find my job frustrating at times, I’ve stuck with it for those reasons.

      What I had not entirely anticipated was quite how long it would take me to get to this point. It’s been *five years* since I started trying to conceive. So, something you may want to factor into your thinking is not just how you feel now, but at what points along the way you might want to check back in with those feelings and see if they’re still the same.

      Good luck!

    3. Anon the Third*

      I don’t have a useful opinion on #3, but definitely buy the house. I would recommend getting the MBA. There’s no telling what will happen, but usually inertia wins out and people end up staying in a situation longer than they had expected. Better to at least start that degree than to one day realize five years have passed and you missed your shot. Do all three! It’ll be worth it.

    4. Lemonish*

      All of these seem like reasonable decisions and although they might happen close together, it doesn’t sound foolhardy.

      As regards #3, it might take way longer to start a family than you expect, so in general, I’ve always kept that part separate mentally. Because it’s the one area where there really are no guarantees or set timetables. Things happen, or not, when they’re going to happen, and realising that it’s all out of your control is a scary but necessary step.

      Also, I’d recommend finding Slate’s How To… podcast – look for the episode about whether to make an international move. But the advice and methodology they give about how to make decisions is applicable to any decision. They talk to Annie Duke, a professional poker player, about how to make rational decisions. I always hate making decisions because I find it paralysing and never know how to evaluate choices. Her methodology makes a lot of sense and I’ll be using it the next time I need to make a big decision.

      And I so hear you on the being averse to financial risk because of how you grew up. I am the same, but I’ve found that my fear makes me so much worse at evaluating actual risk. I’m still not sure how to fix that one though, but please know you’re not alone!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      The cheapest and shortest is the MBA, you could do that first and get it out of the way. And because they are paying it will have very little financial impact. If you aren’t distracted by kids and a house, you will probably make good grades easily.

      It could just be me, but I think get the house first and get settled in it then add kids. Give yourself a full year of going through the seasons with the house so you can become familiar with your needs and how you want to handle the house.

      You may not be enjoying my suggestions because you said you wanted kids next year, no matter what. Well, then that maybe your deciding factor right there. If kids are your top priority and you have a deadline on this priority then all your energy needs to go toward that first kiddo.

      My word of caution is that you seem to have the money part well thought out. But what about the time part? Each one of these things is a huge time sink. I suggest you lay out your plan in a manner that sets you up for success with each one of these goals. If you do an MBA-new house-new kid all the same year, it might prove to be a bit much. I am not talking financially, (although that can surprise us), but time, emotions, energy, resources are all things that are just as important as money. Think about this scenario. You are in a new house with your kiddo and working on your MBA. The lawn needs to be mowed and you have no time to mow it. So you try finding someone and you can’t find anyone as they are all booked up. This is when you suddenly become aware that your town has an ordinance and you are being fined per day the lawn is not mowed. How many times can stuff like this come up before it starts to wear you down? Instead of enjoying the fact that you are reaching your goals, it feels like you are drowning. Just food for thought.

    6. Baru Cormorant*

      1. Get the MBA. It will help you in the future there and elsewhere and they’re paying for it. It might help you find more interest in your current job. Plus 3 years is not a long time to work an OK job. So set yourself up to be super picky so your next job is your “dream job.”
      2. Buy the home. Seems like it will be a good investment and help with #3.
      3. This may take longer than you think, so start the process and start saving and building up your nest egg. Having a kid will keep you busy and bring you lots of joy.

      There, I made the decisions for you. How do you feel about it?
      I think you have a lot of great opportunities opening up for you and you are positioning yourself to be very very happy in 5 years by giving up a little financial security and a little ho-hum in your daily job life now.

  48. Anon for this*

    Does anyone have any advice about aging well? I turned 50 this year and so much is going on with my body and in my head! In the middle of menopause, being invisible to men, aching joints, my face not matching what I look like inside, saying ‘oof’ when I sit down like an elderly person…I want to turn back time! Or, barring that, be the least old-ladyish old lady ever! I’m looking for any and all suggestions, from “eat more salmon” to ‘meditate’ to books or procedures or anything, really. What works for you? Thanking you in advance!

    1. Not So Little My*

      Not giving a F about what other people think is a superpower that comes in your 50s. If you’re not there yet, do things that will put you in the company of amazing older people. Water exercise class at a local pool, volunteering at a museum, craft groups, political activism, joining a spiritual community if you are so inclined (even if you’re not very spiritual, Unitarian Universalist groups would be a good idea place to look). Being around those folks will definitely reset your preconceptions about aging.

      1. Not So Little My*

        On a lighter note, dyeing your hair an unusual color is a great thing to do to be non-old-ladyish. Us GenXers started this in the 80s and 90s and I see tons of us doing it now. I’ve had magenta, purple, and rose gold, and I have a similar-aged friend who rocks teal.

        1. Goose Lavel*

          This always freaks me out, but you will no longer be invisible to men.

          Do you get the reaction you expect once you changed you hair color?

      2. fposte*

        I totally agree with the not giving an F thing. Yes, there are aging annoyances (why, oh why, did we not know about sunblock in my childhood?), but it’s such a relief not to have to care about so many things. It’s also funny how I see the ageism in and take a different perspective on a lot of stereotypes about old people.

    2. Yep, more anon*

      I think once you turn about 50, all of the advice you’ve heard about diet and exercise becomes real in a way it might not have before, making it even more important. I’d say, don’t let problems fester, thinking they’ll just go away (as maybe they used to), because they might get worse; see your GP, Gyne, therapist, and whoever else you need to keep up your health. Menopause, for me, has been no joke — I didn’t sleep more than 45 minutes at a stretch before hot flashes would wake me up, and I let this go on for 2 months! I already knew I couldn’t do hormone replacement therapy because of a prior blood clot, but I’m on a low dose of a antidepressant and it’s worked wonders (acupuncture not so much, but glad I tried it). On the bright side, I care so much less what people think and am more free to be myself. And Botox and fillers, if you’re not opposed, can help your outside match your inside :)

    3. Goose Lavel*

      I recommend that you lean into it and appreciate the new you!

      I’m in my 60’s and wish I still felt as good as you describe. Sitting down isn’t as tough as getting back up.

      I do recommend natural arthritis remedies like gin soaked raisins.

      You could also do the Full Kardashian but no one will recognize you (could be a good thing – think Rene Zelwiger).

      Also hit the gym, get a personal trainer or do yoga.

    4. vincaminor*

      (Context/bias disclosure: still barely downhill of 40, so this is based on observation and training. I’m a fitness instructor, and I do a good bit targeted towards older women.)

      If you’re able — keep moving! It’s really easy to let a stiff joint or an aching muscle limit your movement — so you just don’t try to do that anymore — and once you lose that mobility, it’s hard to get back. Cardio keeps your circulation going; weight-bearing or resistance exercises keep your muscles from atrophying and help fend off osteopenia; stretching is key to keeping creaky joints operating and being able to do normal everyday things; balance exercises will help prevent a fall as you get older. You don’t mention if you “do” gym, but if there’s a centre near you that has classes geared towards older people, check it out and see if anything appeals. Resistance bands are easy and cheap to pick up, and you can find lots of good exercises online or in a class; a one- or two-litre bottle of water makes a decent starting weight, or just use your body weight. Practise standing on one foot! Touch your toes (or reach towards your toes, it’s all good)! Stretch up to reach that top shelf — don’t be my grandmother and end up keeping everything in the kitchen on the counter. Take it gently and check with your doctor if you have any health concerns, but barring that, anything you can do to stay mobile and independent will stand you in good stead down the road.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        I second the plan to exercise. I was never physically active, so early 50s flab came out of nowhere. Shocker!

        I read that we need about 200 fewer calories per day at this age, so I am careful to eat smaller portions and skip sweets most of the time. I also have started gentle exercises from a great DVD series by Miranda Esmonde White. She does lots of specials on public television, and her low-key, gentle series is just what I needed. She is in her 60s and is living proof that we don’t have to gain weight & lose balance.

        I also got a couple of books at the library – Makeup Wakeup, and Wardrobe Wakeup (author Lois Johnson, I think?) – both are geared to women who are 45+. Elegant clothes, and makeup advice that has really helped me feel younger. Why not, eh? Although I kinda like that I am now mostly invisible.

      2. Woman of a Certain Age*

        I agree with the advice about exercise. I really didn’t notice much physical change from being younger when I was 50. I didn’t have any weight gain to speak of, but a decade later I’m surprised at how my muscles have atrophied and by the beginnings of a bit of osteoporosis. (I was never all that physical to start with.) I think that yoga has helped with keeping me flexible and maintaining a range of motion, as well as helping me release stress. I continue to moisturize a lot, and think it helps. The gray hair was a bit of a shock to me, too. I think that the gray hair is probably the most aging thing about my appearance, though I haven’t gotten around to dying it on a regular basis. It seems like a hassle and the colors don’t look quite natural.

    5. Weegie*

      Keep yourself as fit as you can, take all the necessary/ helpful medications/ supplements, etc that you’re able to take, and don’t think or act ‘old’! Dress how you like, not how people your age are ‘supposed’ to dress.

      Really not caring how people perceive you, as others have said, is key, I think. I’m constantly mistaken for 10 or 15 years younger than my actual age (by people 10 or 15 years younger than me, would you believe) and I’ve been told it’s because I don’t act old. I’ve decided to take this as a compliment! I think it helps that I’ve developed my own style, don’t follow fashion, and don’t wear clothes specifically made for the middle-aged professional woman. And I really, truly don’t care what anyone else thinks of me.

      Enjoy it – you’re in your prime!

    6. Alpha Bravo*

      I endorse both not giving a F and the advice to keep moving. I’m 58, grey and arthritic. I’m also very fit. I don’t do the gym thing, I just insist on continuing to do the things I enjoy (like hiking, gardening/landscaping and running my little farm). Sometimes it hurts now. I do groan when I get up from a kneeling position. But I’ve seen what happens when you quit doing a thing; you quit being able to do the thing. I’ve never felt invisible though; I guess on some level I just don’t blend in and people notice that?

    7. Anon9*

      The most vibrant, vivacious woman I know is a very winkled 90 year old (my grandma), who is really just an old girl in spirit. She gives that impression as well. She is in the old country still and still works out in the fields & travels a bunch- in her opinion: healthy thoughts, smiling/laughing, constant activity, and clean eating are the keys to longevity. She also has a bunch of home remedies…like drinking a cup of hot water every morning and chewing on ginger root but I take these as her quirks. So develop your own quirks – like saying ‘oof’ when you sit down :)

      Also, not emphasizing you are ‘older.’ She interacts with everyone as if she can learn something from them…actually the curiosity is something I really admire about her. It’s never a matter of stroking a long grey beard and muttering ”’twas before your time.’ She doesn’t let people treat her like she is old and frail but accepts the fact that she isn’t 20 anymore and accepts what she can’t do gracefully.

      All in all, I think it’s a youthful mindset she has – she’s developed a charm and a personality that show that. & I think that’s really important because there are people who look/ARE young but seem to have the spirit of a doomed Revolutionary War general trapped in them.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A big “Right On!” about not emphasizing you are older. People who see me in person are sometimes are surprised that I will be 60 next year.
        Don’t keep mentioning age and don’t keep thinking about age. Instead focus on stuff going on in front of you: what’s new around you; what is going on in your neighborhood/community that people are talking about, what new thing are you trying this month, etc.

        Start now with self-care. If you have been doing okay with self-care then look for ways to beef up your game. Water, whole foods, walks, do puzzles, learn something new. Read! Oh boy, reading has saved me so many times. Read articles of relevance to your life and things going on in the lives of the people around you.

        Gently insist that your body work. A couple years ago, I could not get a lid off this one particular jar. I rapped it on the counter, I ran water on it, and I could not get that lid off. My hands just did not work that morning. I bought a jar wrench to help the next time that happens. But I also noticed that my hands work better if I keep up on my water intake. So I beefed up my water intake habit. I think I have used the new jar wrench three times since I got it. This is a combination attack, getting the adaptive equipment AND taking steps to address the problem itself.

        I bought a weedwacker that I could not use for more than 30 minutes. The vibration was just too much for me. In talking with my friend, I was able to get a weedwacker that I CAN use. It’s great. And my middle aged friends are asking me about it. ha! Yeah. It’s okay to need a little extra help to keep going. The important thing is to keep ourselves going. And it’s fine to steal the ideas of our elders. We can watch them adapt and we can copy their adaptations.

    8. Earthwalker*

      On the “OMG, I can’t be old!” front, what helped me was browsing around and making a collection of pictures of old women – real or fictional – that portrayed the image of aging that I wanted to feel for myself. Exercise, meditation, and diet are important, of course, but my gallery of role models helped to beat back the negative stereotypes that are a big part of the problem for me.

    9. Wishing You Well*

      Hit the gym regularly. It will help stave off many chronic health problems. The trick is to not hurt yourself doing too much too soon. If you use a trainer or take a class, get someone with grey hair. A 20-something will hurt you.
      Take better care of your teeth – floss, brush, use fluoride mouthwash for 60 seconds(!). Bad teeth often leads to bad hearts. Heart disease kills more Americans than any other cause, so do what you can about that.
      Learn something new and stay social. Pets help with longevity. Prioritize your life and work toward what’s important to you.
      This can be the best part of your life. Seriously.

    10. Bluebell*

      I’m now in my mid 50s and here are a few things that have helped me feel vital and healthy: yoga, meditation, a steady stream of trying new things, whether it’s a park in my town or a new cafe, and the popular “ not giving an f.” Nowadays I tend to wear what I want, and I’m on the verge of stopping dyeing my hair!

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My mom went big into swimming in her 50s and now I undersand why: wimming is an exercise that is easy on the joints. I was the teen amused at the ‘old’ ladies walking laps, but I now see it is surprisingly good exercise AND you get to talk with friends at the same time.

    12. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      I’m 56 and echo all the good diet and exercise advice. Need to do those things myself.
      Besides health and fitness concerns, I’ve found that I actually enjoy being “older.” I relate well with women 10 or so years older than myself, sometimes better than with my peers, TBH.
      In other words, I don’t “hope I die before I get old.” Namaste.

    13. Texan In Exile*

      No advice for now, but for anyone younger than 50 – wear sunscreen. I was a lifeguard and a swimming teacher and in the sailing club when I was in high school and college. I don’t think the good sunscreens were available then, but they are now. Every day, I look at my skin and can see the impact of too much sun. Wear sunscreen everywhere, even on your legs. And a hat.

    14. Mimosa Jones*

      Add good posture to your list of exercise goals. It can make a big difference in how you look and feel.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh great point. My shoulder were starting to curl to the front like older people’s shoulders sometimes do. A good massage therapist was a major help with straightening that out. My shoulders are back under the shoulder seams of my clothes as they should be.

        OP, some fixes for some problems are down right enjoyable. I felt spoiled rotten every time I went for my massage, even though I did actually need it.

    15. Sunny*

      CBD products for aches and pains. Seriously, I feel so. much. better. after taking CBD oil capsules for a couple months now.

      Also, second the NGAF philosophy, but I know that’s tough to get to.

    16. LibbyG*

      A more trivial suggestion, but if you haven’t discovered hyaluronic acid skin creams, hie thee to a retailer! They don’t erase wrinkles, but make my 46 yo skin feel really supple.

    17. It's My First Post!*

      I’m 58 and I honestly love getting older. Love it! But the key is your health and your fitness level, and for sure you have to work a lot harder on that after 50 than you do before. Along those lines, I can wholeheartedly recommend the book “Younger Next Year” by Chris Crowley. It was literally a life-changer for me. It’s positive, funny, well-researched, and got my attention in all the right ways. (There are several versions; I first read the “generic” version, then the “…for Women” version and give them both a double thumbs up.) I’ve also enjoyed learning about the world’s “Blue Zones,” those places where people routinely live long, vigorous, happy, engaged lives. There’s a lot to learn from those folks and those lifestyles – I’m stealing what I can! The key takeaways for me are (a) keep moving moving moving, and (b) work as hard as you need to to keep up a positive social life. In my case that meant becoming the person who hosts all the parties, events, girls’ nights, etc. (I also happen to feel really strongly about not going grey, and wish I worked in a slightly less conservative field so I could go magenta! I would totally rock magenta.) Also, get a tattoo to celebrate the milestone birthday!

    18. Pippa*

      What do you look like to yourself on the inside? Be that you. 50 gives you permission. I don’t just mean physically, however getting moving as others suggest is great. I mean, is the inside you confident, does she try new things, wear a new signature color, sign up for a language class? Do it! Youth looks at those of us in our 50s and expects that we have “it” figured out and all together. So do the things the 20, 30, 40 year old you didn’t do. 50 year old you has the permission – and the power.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Try one of the county community colleges that offer continuing education/workforce education?
      I’m thinking of taking Spanish myself. I don’t have enough free time but it might force me to become more efficient.

    2. MKM*

      I’ve taken Falls Church Public School classes – I think they’re good (but not great). Probably good value for the price, and have several options timing-wise, particularly for intro classes.

  49. Sorgatani*

    I just got home from a DnD session with friends – I’m getting back into it after not having really played in almost 20 years, but the other players (and the DM) are pretty new to the game, with varying levels of how much of the guidebooks we’ve read.

    This was the second true session for the game group; the last session we were using pre-made characters, which were difficult for the new players to get into.
    This was ‘Session Zero’ for our new characters, who met each other in a jail cell before battling, exploring and puzzle solving.

    Felt good to exercise the creativity again, even in just a small way.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Fellow grownup geek here. We’re looking at how to find a campaign we don’t have to drive to… most of our gaming friends are 45 minute drive away, which is why we stopped playing.
      I’m trying to talk my husband into running something with our daughter’s friends, but our books are all the older editions.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        By the way a ‘why bother’ anecdote for non-gamers.
        Our game master used to drive us nuts making us haggle for everything… and when my car died in the real world, I found myself haggling with the used car salesman. I knocked the price down significantly AND got him to throw in a free set of brand new car mats at the end.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          My own “why bother” story: my TTRPG of choice in middle and high school was GURPS, which is a very crunch-heavy system. The magic system in that game took up two books, and the spells were modeled as skills with elaborate prerequisite chains of other spells, so to learn a powerful spell you’d first have to learn several others, each of which also had their own prerequisites…figuring out how to afford to spend the points to get the spells you needed and, at times, which chain to follow was a complicated and fiddly part of character creation.

          After that, reading the handbook in college and figuring out how to get the prerequisites for the classes I needed felt very straightforward and not at all intimidating. Those prerequisite chains were rarely even 3 or 4 classes deep!

          (I miss gaming. I’m thinking of starting a OD&D group of some kind, probably an open table hexcrawl, once my life calms down, but my life really hasn’t been showing many signs of calming down lately. I definitely don’t have time for GURPS campaign like I used to run, nor do I know people willing to learn that complex of a rule system right now.)

      2. Tricerasister*

        Have you looked at using Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds? I don’t personally have experience playing a game on them but they do come up as suggestions for online play.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          We would be game to try (ahem), but the DM on the other end wasn’t enthusiastic. (Part of her fun is having people there.)

      3. Sorgatani*

        I’ve heard of online games, but not joined one, so I can’t speak for that.
        Roll20 does seem nice.

        It’s still possible to play earlier editions of the games, or there are phone apps that can help a person get started in 5e.

        Getting back into it has been made easier for me by my fiance. He plays with a different group on a different night from me, so I’ve been able to borrow his handbook and ask his advice when I get stuck.

    2. LizB*

      Yessssss DnD is so great for scratching the creative itch. Both of my current campaigns (one weekly, one occasional) happen to be playing today, so I’m DMing two back to back sessions and I’m so excited. Gotta drink enough water so my voice will last all day…

  50. Hey Nonny Nonny*

    Anon for this because

    I’m at BEC with my mother. And I’ve been there for a while.

    But she has some (somewhat fair- I’m not completely unreasonable) some grievances with me. And I’m the dummy who shook the soda bottle.

    All I said was I wasn’t gonna vacuum. It’s physically cumbersome for me and just energy inefficient. And she lays on me with “Put find somewhere else to live on your important things to do today.” And then follows up with your room is disgusting and you don’t do enough around the house. And I’ll admit. I’m lazy and yes my room could use regular touch ups. But I do a lot and my mother is never satisfied. I always wonder whether I’m smart or stupid for keeping my mouth mostly shut.

    I’m sorry my room isn’t immaculate and I can’t satisfy her stupid cleaning wild hair. (Sarcasm).

    There’s a lot of other stuff in this mess but this is what set it off for me today.

    I’d love to move out, but that costs money that I don’t have. And I’d love to get a job that’s full time but since I’m default warm body for dad.., yeah.

    Sorry. Just a vent.

    1. Goose Lavel*

      What worked for me was to ask my son to keep his door closed so I would not see the squalor. Side beni – also limited the sound of the gangsta rap.

      He did move out at 20 to live on the street as he could not manage to adhere to the simple family agreement to be home by 2am during the weekday.

      He now works in construction making good $ and taking care of himself and my two grandchildren.

      1. Hey Nonny Nonny*

        Glad things eventually worked out for your son. Glad I don’t have to worry about the curfew thing- no means or reasons to be out that late.

        Living with people is hard. But not impossible.

    2. Not A Manager*

      What does this mean, default warm body for dad? If you’re sacrificing your own personal growth and emotional health by being a caregiver, that’s not sustainable. I understand that you can’t move out *right now,* but this sounds like a system that will keep you there forever, and leave you with few options even if the situation does resolve.

      1. Hey Nonny Nonny*

        I’m not his caregiver but someone has to be with him. So when mom is working or doing whatever she wants, I have to stay home with him.

        My issue with that, and why I use that phrase, I’d that she’s come to expect it and will leave at the drop of a hat and not tell me. For dad, I’ll do it gladly! But my mom doesn’t seem to care about how her actions and (I perceive) thanklessness affect me.

        1. Not A Manager*

          The issue isn’t her actions and her thanklessness. The issue is that you’re not able to pursue full-time employment that would lead to financial independence, that you’re losing time to establish an employment history and build a career, and that you can’t take steps to ensure your own mental health.

          I think you need to, at a minimum, find work for yourself in the hours that she is not scheduled to work. It almost doesn’t matter what the work is or how much it pays. Then tell her that you are available to cover your dad during her working hours, but that you aren’t available on such-and-such other schedule, so she will need to find other coverage if she’s going out.

          Then stick to it.

          Doing this will give you some practice establishing boundaries without actually impacting your mother’s employment or your father’s coverage while she’s working. After that, you can think about how to get some coverage during her working hours so that you can actually think about moving out.

          If you have access to any community support, I think you should look into some counseling for yourself. Frankly, this situation sounds borderline abusive. It’s possible that a local domestic violence shelter could have some resources for you.

          (To be clear, I don’t think it’s abusive to ask your adult child to keep their space clean or to help with household chores. I do think it’s emotionally manipulative to set up a system where the person can’t look out for their economic needs because there’s always some more pressing “family need” that gets in the way.)

        2. fposte*

          Given that she’s willing to kick you out, though, it sounds like she’s willing to go without your help in staying with him.

          This sounds like one of those frustrating situations where everything has both an upside and a downside. You get to be near your dearly loved dad and be helpful to him (and maybe stay rent-free, I’m guessing?). But you don’t get to work full time or save much money or plan for your own future much, and you and your mom are on each other’s nerves. It sounds also like you both feel like you’re being taken advantage of, and that can be hard to roll back.

          I think it’s really tough to have an ailing spouse and I admire children who are able to help with their parents’ care, but this is requiring way too much of a sacrifice from you. What would happen if you started looking for a full-time job? What would happen if you started looking for a roommating situation? What would happen if you did more of the household chores but also started leaving the house yourself more often, maybe to go to the library to search for a job and housing, before she left, so you knew you’d have some time where she wouldn’t unexpectedly say it’s your turn to caretake? What do you think would happen if you said “You’re right, Mom, I don’t think this is working the way we’d hoped, so I’m leaving for another place to live. I’ll come by on Saturday at 10 to see you and Dad and give you a break to get out and run errands”? Is that something you might want?

    3. StudentA*

      Whether you’re happy with the situation or not, you’re there. And living with others means shared responsibility. Sorry, I’m a huge stickler for that. I have very little patience for not keeping your place clean. I’m by no means OCD about it, trust me. But if my child, or anyone, lived with me and dropped the ball repeatedly there, I won’t be a happy camper. Especially since they’re not paying rent, whether or not it’s because they can’t find a job.

      Maybe not the answer you’re looking for. And hey, your mom might be an unreasonable person in other ways, but I’ll be the one to say on here, and I have before: I’m not down with people living with others rent free and not keeping the place tidy. The least you can do is take over at least half the cleaning.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      You need to earn money that counts toward Social Security. If you’re not being paid by Medicare or Medicaid to watch your dad, I’d definitely look into it. The longer you stay in this situation, the tougher it will be to get out and have a decent life. Try to get motivated. If you can’t find a full-time job, get 2 part-time jobs. If something happens to your mom, God Forbid, where would that leave you?
      I sure hope things get better for you.

      1. Hey Nonny Nonny*

        I draw disability, and have a part time job (that can’t give me hours at the moment, but that’s a different can of worms entirely. Nonetheless, looking and dusting off the resume.)

        I can’t drive. I do use a rideshare service- which has been a godsend. I take at least one small trip a week to grab a food (usually breakfast) and some out of house time. I volunteer weekly with my parish. These help keep me even keeled so to speak. But it’s becoming less effective because when I come back it’s a “this situation sucks and a lot of it isn’t changeable by me” slapping me in the face…

  51. Handy Nickname*

    Favorite easy meals!

    I’m trying to avoid stopping for take out or throwing on a frozen pizza as often. I usually starving and tired by the time I leave work and probably have some executive function issues, so I usually end up calculating frozen pizza > trying to make healthier food and then eating nothing, but I’d really like to eat healthier.

    Some of my easy faves:

    Canned chicken> cheese> tortilla = 5 minute quesadilla

    Canned chicken in gravy on the stove poured over mashed potatoes (Trader Joe’s sells frozen potato discs that microwave in 2 minutes and taste great!)

    10-minute rice + canned beans + cheese microwaved in a bowl

    What are some of your go-tos?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Spaghetti pie! Take a bunch of cooked pasta (I use about 3/4 of a 1lb box for a 9×9 pan – also a good use for leftover pasta, doesn’t need to be freshly cooked), toss it in two beaten eggs and a couple handfuls of shredded cheese, and seasonings of choice, and bake it at 350 for 15 minutes. (I’ve added pesto, chopped pepperoni, Italian seasoning – all kinds of goodies.) I put pasta sauce on mine, but my housemate eats it as-is.

      1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        Cook half a bag of frozen veggies, add a block of ramen halfway, drain, then stir in a can of drained tuna, only half the ramen flavor packet, and a sprinkle of cheese. Doesn’t taste cheesey, but the cheese somehow makes it actually yummy. Also, faster than pizza.

        Bratwurst bake. Chop fresh veggies (carrots, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, potatoes, or broccoli work great) into bite size pieces, toss with a drizzle of olive oil, some kosher salt, and fresh herbs if you’re feeling fancy. Spread veggies in on baking sheet, add raw bratwurst, stick in oven at 425F until veggies are tender and brats are browned and cooked through, 30-40 minutes. Freeze the rest of the package of bratwurst raw for next time.

    2. Nicki Name*

      Ramen + 2-3 frozen pot stickers = fake wonton soup

      (If you happen to keep frozen vegetables around, throw in a handful of peas or corn too.)

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Pasta is my quick go to – and what you put on it needs take no longer than the boil, and can involve as many or as few spoons as available (figurative and literal). Examples:

      * butter and black pepper
      * pesto from a jar
      * stir in sauce
      * (frozen) peas, hot dogs and cream cheese
      * tinned cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup, plus bacon
      * ragu Bolognese (slow cooker plus freezer)

      There are shapes of pasta which have the power to make me happy just by sight. Stocking up on those would do wonders.

    4. Auntie Social*

      Adding chicken or any meat to microwave wild rice pouch; adding chicken, bacon and cheese to mashed potatoes. Chicken and mushrooms added to microwave rice bag and chicken gravy or soup. Pot roast with a TON of veggies lasts quite a while, if you cook. Same with a homemade roast chicken—I know the grocery stores have them but the addition of parsley, carrots, onions, potatoes—whole dif thing.

    5. JDc*

      I do burrito bowls at home. One thing that helps is pre cooking some food. I bake some chicken on Sunday then use it for burrito bowls, salads, pasta dishes.

    6. londonedit*

      A pouch of microwave rice, some stir-fried veg and a couple of poached or fried eggs. That’s what I have when I get home from an evening run!

      1. Grandma Mazur*

        This – we scramble an egg or two into the rice. Plus the side benefit is that (at least according to The Guardian) it’s more environmentally friendly to buy the rice pouches than for everybody to be boiling up rice from scratch at home!

        Also spaghetti carbonara (with mushrooms if we still need to get one or two portions of veg into us), or fresh pasta with a tub of sauce, or pre-shredded stir fry kits.

        Tomato soup with cheese on toast.

        Omelette, with an optional side of bagged salad and Pizza Express salad dressing.

    7. MsChanandlerBong*

      I have a couple recipes I really like that take about 15 or 20 minutes.

      One is the Cafe Delites creamy herb chicken recipe (just Google “Cafe Delites creamy herb chicken”). I use evaporated milk since we don’t drink milk and the store sells nothing smaller than a half gallon. I also buy pre-minced garlic so I don’t have to peel and chop garlic. All you do is season and brown the chicken, mix up the sauce, and then put it all together.

      Another super-easy recipe is Delish’s creamy chicken and broccoli bowties. I make it without the chicken since I like to do a couple meatless dinners each week. All you have to do is boil the pasta, cook the broccoli for two or three minutes, and make the sauce. I use evaporated milk for this one, too, but you could use cream or regular milk.

      Sticky ginger soy glazed chicken from Budget Bytes is another good one. All you have to do is mix up the marinade, stick the chicken in it for an hour or two, and then cook the chicken in a pan. To keep it quick, I buy ginger ahead of time, peel and grate it, and then freeze it in 1 T. portions so all I have to do is grab some out of the freezer in the morning and then throw it in when I am cooking dinner.

    8. Parenthetically*

      Mac n cheese + canned tuna + peas/broccoli/tomatoes/all of the above

      Ramen (we get the “nice” kind at our local Asian grocery) with loads of baby spinach or frozen veggies and some egg stirred in or topped with a soft-boiled or poached egg

      Packet broccoli rice with extra frozen broccoli, spinach and/or peas

      Packet pasta alfredo with frozen broccoli and pre-cooked frozen grilled chicken tenders (SUPER YUM)

      Canned black beans, drained and rinsed + garlic + jarred salsa over precooked rice

      Veggie noodles (the regular pasta that’s green because it has spinach and whatever in it), jarred sauce, frozen veg

      Pretty much all under 15 minutes.

    9. Alex*

      I find frozen broccoli really handy to keep around. For a super fast “I have nothing in the house” meal, I’ll boil some pasta (whole wheat if I’m being really healthy), then add some broccoli in the last couple of minutes. Toss with some grated cheese and butter or olive oil.

      You can also microwave some broccoli and add it to an omelette with some cheese. Or bake a potato (I microwave for 5 minutes and finish in the oven for crispy skin but also fast prep!) and top with broccoli, cheese, and butter.

      I also mostly cook on the weekends and eat leftovers all week because I just can’t cook after work. I don’t have time.

    10. Little Beans*

      We do a tofu and turkey scramble at least one night a week. Just throw a package of ground turkey and package of tofu in a pan for 15 minutes and it’s done. You can add whatever sauce you want (we usually do soy sauce and a little sesame oil). We also have a rice cooker so usually just make a quick pot of rice and pour it over that.

      Also tacos. We usually chop up chicken breast and throw it in a pan, but you could also do ground beef and that would be even faster.

      1. Parenthetically*

        My grocery store sells pre-cut chicken breasts. That would be a huge time-saver for someone who couldn’t face any prep work at the end of the day.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Absolutely — you’re paying for the convenience, and it’s not cheap. But it’s just like those meal delivery services IMO. If you’re comparing against, say, $15 for one Chinese takeaway, $6 per serving is a big saving.

    11. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I buy a lot of packaged salad and either cook a bunch of meat or eggs to have on it or buy ready cooked chicken, fish, etc. I eat salad + protein + beans for many meals.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, I love to cook but when I was early pregnant and craving protein but too exhausted to cook, I bought Tyson black pepper and herb chicken strips and they’re actually really good! Heated up in the microwave, wrapped up with some beans and veggies and cheese in a big wrap or tortilla — SO tasty and satisfying and takes no time.

    12. Parenthetically*

      OH ALSO here’s my pitch for packing a filling afternoon snack/mini-meal, if at all possible, so you can make dinner choices more clear-headed. Doesn’t have to be complicated — rotate between apple + cheese stick + handful of almonds, crackers + hummus + grapes, say. Just something with carbs, fat, and protein. Once I started putting an afternoon snack into my routine, I found dinner decisions and prep so much less stressful because I wasn’t shaky/hangry and just desperately trying to balance the urge to shove food into my mouth with the desire to eat something that wasn’t popcorn.

    13. Pam*

      Salsa chicken. Take cut up chicken- preferably boneless and skinless for ease in serving. Throw in a casserole dish. Pour a jar of salsa over the top. Bake until done- 350 degrees is fine, but it’s not sensitive to temperature. Put some shredded cheese on it near the end. Possibly bake a few potatoes/sweet potatoes (another great go-to) at the same time.

    14. NoLongerYoung*

      I didn’t see my best hack. If you have a freezer. I batch cook, or at a minimum, make a double meal on the weekend, and freeze the individual portions. (Say, chicken enchilada casserole for 8 on Saturday night, I eat one, make 7 freezer meals). Sunday, bake a costco-size bag of chicken thighs; Have a nice meal of a set; chop and freeze in 1 cup portions the rest. Or a nice pasta – freeze the half I don’t eat. (I use glass containers for most of my freezing, widemouth glass jars work well). Or crockpot beef stew, hearty chicken tortilla soup. Eat a nice meal, freeze the rest in jars.
      Then, during the week, the night before, I pull my choice for the next night’s dinner out of freezer, and put in the frig to thaw. I sometimes chop up salad stuff, too, Sunday night (this gets me through most of the week), and/or stir fry some veggies or pan roast.
      When I get home from work, I can basically heat and eat the meal; it’s healthy and home cooked. Add fruit and yogurt, the salad or veg, and it’s balanced.
      And, usually ready in about 5 minutes or so, compared to the time it takes for carryout.
      The chicken, I do add to quesadillas, on top of salads (if it is really warm, and I don’t want a “hot” meal), or even – on a really bad night – to a vegetable Pho bowl (along with the stirfry veg).

      But the small amount of effort to just double/ make a bigger meal and freeze the rest? Well worth it, when I’m scarfing down tasty homemade veggie-pasta with italian sausage and a rich sauce (and extra mushrooms), instead of a pizza.

      And when you know you have something already thawed, waiting for you to heat it… you are less inclined to stop and get take out.

      Mine is usually ready by the time I’ve changed out of the work clothes and into comfy stuff.
      The key is just a “little” planning ahead, to have a weekend (or one week night) with that meal doubled, and the containers for freezing.

    15. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      If the main hurdle is that you’re already ravenous by the time you get home, the logical thing to do is batch cook on the weekends so you’ll have healthyish leftovers that you can just heat and eat. It would probably also help to make slightly healthier versions of things you already know you like to avoid resorting to pizza and takeout because you don’t have the willpower to eat unappealing salads when you’re already starving.

      Some of my upgraded but still well received dinners are:
      -Pasta with tomato sauce: You can pack tons of vegetables in a tomato sauce. Diced onions, mushrooms, and/or peppers. Grate carrots, beets, and/or zucchini. Just saute them for a bit (with or without meat) before you add a jar of sauce or canned tomatoes and spices. Use whole wheat noodles.
      -Sloppy Joes: Instead of a pound of meat and can of sauce, I use .25-.5 lbs of meat and all the same veggies I’d put in pasta sauce. Once those are cooked through I add a can of diced tomatoes (not drained) and whole green or brown lentils (if you like the taste and texture of lentils) or split red lentils (if you’d rather they be less noticeable). Once those are tender you stir in the sauce and serve on whole wheat buns.
      -Chili: Similar to the above. I’ll make a giant pot of chili with less than a pound of meat, add a ton of vegetables, a couple of different kinds of beans, and a whole grain like barley or bulgur.

      Quicker things to fall back on when you didn’t have time to plan ahead:
      -Ramen: If you dilute the super salty broth and throw in a few healthy additions ramen isn’t the worst thing in the world. Spinach, bean sprouts, thin sliced peppers and mushrooms, eggs, shredded cabbage, snow peas, and kimchi are some of my favorite add-ins.
      -Egg/Tuna/Salmon salad: I love a lot of diced veggies in mine for crunch like carrots and radishes. You can also add white beans or chickpeas, and substitute smashed avocado for most or all of the mayo. Served on whole grain bread or a wrap, or with cucumber and squash slices, celery and carrot sticks, or just crackers.

    16. chi chan*

      I get a bag of mixed veges for salad or stirfry, put it on lebanese bread, open a can of tuna, put salt, spices butter and aioli sauce and make a wrap. No cooking required and very healthy. If you don’t feel full add cheese.

    17. Middle School Teacher*

      Carbonara, risotto (there’s a baked version I like that doesn’t require stirring), and there’s a recipe I got off buzzfeed of all places. It’s a steak and quinoa bowl. If you google buzzfeed and “here’s a healthy steak dinner anyone can make” you’ll find the recipe. It’s easy to adapt for any veggies you have in your fridge!

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        Oh! And if you like cabbage: 1/2 cabbage, about 20 baby potatoes, an onion. Chop and divide among four pieces of foil (use about 18”x12” pieces). To each packet add: some butter or margarine, salt & pepper, some garlic powder or garlic bread seasoning, and about 1 sausage or smokie, cut in chunks. Add 1 ice cube per packet, seal tightly, and grill over abouta 375 bbq or in an over for about 45 minutes, flipping every 15 minutes. Takes about 10 minutes to prep, and easy to pre-prep if you chop your veggies ahead of time!

    18. Chaordic One*

      I like dumping a can of beef chili or chunky soup over rice. Just 2 steps. If I have any leftover vegetables I’ll dump those in, too.

    19. LPUK*

      I make a cheats kedgeree in the time it takes to boil an egg. Put the egg in cold water and start boiling it. Chop and sauté an onion until soft and golden, then add a tablespoon of curry paste ( I use Korma) and let it cook for about a minute. While onion is cooking, heat a pouch of microwaveable rice – I like to use a chicken or vegetable flavoured option- and then add the rice to the onion and curry paste, perhaps with a couple of tablespoons of plain yoghurt to loosen it slightly. Flake a piece of hot smoked salmon ( buy it from ALDI or Lidl pre- cooked) and warm through with the curried rice. Egg should be hard boiled by this time, so serve the kedgree with chopped boiled egg on the top. It’s absolutely delicious.

  52. JDc*

    Feeling hungover today. I really have Such a low tolerance for alcohol since ive aged. Luckily my doctor gave me Zofran to have on hand so I can kick to nausea. I’m such a lightweight these days. Sigh.

    It’s my bday today and feeling suddenly very close to 40. Husband is taking me to dinner tonight at a great steakhouse. Already thinking about the food. It’s nice and cool so far today which was my bday wish. We just got a new couch so i am spending my day being lazy on my new couch and hanging with hubs. Tomorrow we are going to a parade and maybe a little shopping.

        1. jDC*

          Update. Ordering in and drinking the rest of this wine, even though I’m feeling crappy. I did my hair and makeup but I’m not feeling it. It’s raining, I’m exhausted. Hey it’s my bday so i get to do what I want right. Ha. Just truly do not want to force myself to go out tonight. I’d rather do it tomorrow or next weekend.

  53. MissGirl*

    Financial question. I’m starting a new job at 13 percent increase in salary. My old job is at a large healthcare system. While no job is recession proof, this is more so. New job is at healthcare consulting startup that’s several years old. So a little more risky.

    I have four to five months emergency savings. My plan was to increase it and then when it’s bigger, start a Roth with the money I had been putting in savings. I’m maxing out my 401K and will continue to do so.

    Does this mix sound good? How much should I shoot for in months? I have a mortgage and a car loan but at 3.75 percent interest. I’ve started some side investing but not a lot.

    1. Gaia*

      So here is what I do, in order (so once 1 is achieved, I move onto 2, etc)

      1. Max out 401k
      2. 6 months’ worth of spending in an easily accessible account
      3. Max out HSA (if my healthcare plan is eligible) – I don’t use this for healthcare expenses, this is my savings in case/when I have a major healthcare expense as I get older
      4. ROTH

      3 and 4 are happening alongside my general “travel/small emergency/car repair” savings that is kept in cash.

      When I get a raise, I dedicate at least half of the additional funds to additional savings. It has really helped me turn around my finances.

    2. fposte*

      You are doing very well already! I would be inclined to plan to contribute to the Roth for 2019 (you have up until April 15, 2020 to do that) rather than waiting until your savings hit a particular number since you’re close to 6 months anyway; you can withdraw contributions penalty-free from a Roth in the event of an emergency, and if you’re maxing out your 401k you’re likely to be paying very low taxes on your Roth. If you’re not comfortable with adding that expense, I’d probably divert some of the 401k contributions to max out the Roth instead rather than focusing entirely on the 401k.

      I’d do all of that before “side investing.” That should be the last on the list behind all of these, especially the tax-advantaged space and time-enhanced value you’ll never get another chance at. Additionally, even with a low-interest loan, I’d prioritize paying back the car loan over side investing, because it’s a depreciating asset and payback is a guaranteed return.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I would split the money between the emergency fund and the Roth, and I agree 100% with fposte about the loan and side investing. Although fposte also has a point about the potential for the Roth to double as an emergency fund, your emergency fund shouldn’t be invested in anything more aggressive than a bond fund, or better yet laddered CDs or just a money market account. If the markets tank and we head into another recession, that would be a very bad time to need that money as an emergency fund.

      How many months you need to save depends on how you’re calculating it and other circumstances. If you’re calculating income replacement, six months is probably more than enough. If you’re just calculating your essential expenses after you cut back on things like cable and cell service, 9 months to a year would be better. And if you have other contingencies, like family who could help you out or a room you could rent if you were desperate, then you can allow your emergency fund to be a little leaner.

      But congrats on the raise, and on maxing out the 401(k)!

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I think for a kickass saver (which you are, MissGirl) who just got a nice income bump, the differences between the Roth/401k/emergency fund thing aren’t that crucial, either; she’s doing the big thing, which is putting the money away in the first place.

    4. MissGirl*

      Thanks for the advice. I’m paid ahead several months on my car and will continue to do so, so being upside down on the loan isn’t a concern. The side investment is earning 8 t0 9 percent versus 3.75 for the car. I like the idea of having something earning great returns that isn’t tied up in retirement. I’ll work towards a six months savings (maybe more to ease my risk adverse mind), definitely max out my HSA, which I’m not doing yet, and open a Roth.

      1. fposte*

        Just keep in mind on that side investment that there’s a thing called “returns chasing,” which is getting sucked into an investment because it’s been performing well recently, not because it’s appropriate to your overall portfolio. You get 8-9.5% by willing to take greater risk, which means there are times when it will earn less or straight out lose money; then of course you have to look at what it means to you tax-wise for dividends and what kind of capital gains you’ll be looking at when you sell it, things that don’t apply to tax-advantaged accounts. (Also have a look at the Callan Periodic Table for a good illustration of how different asset classes can soar one year and tank the next.) It’s reasonable to have a small percentage of designated play money that you could afford to lose, but I’d articulate in something like an Investing Policy Statement what max percentage you’re willing to put in there, what it does for your portfolio, and what will indicate it’s time to let go.

    5. YetAnotherUsername*

      I would also suggest overpaying on the mortgage if that’s possible and completely paying off the car loan. Unless you are investing in something that is guaranteed to be more than 3.75%, paying off the 3.75% loans first makes more sense.

      My order of priority for extra cash is always as follows:
      1 6 months of spending in easy to access savings
      2 pay off any non-mortgage debts if I had any (luckily I don’t)
      3 max out pension (ie put in as much as I can get tax relief on)
      4 mortgage overpayment
      5 other investments (I’ve never managed to get this far down the list lol)

    6. Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters*

      It’s a hard question to answer without knowing what your goals are. My goal is to retire earlier than most, and while I work full time in a government job, I have invested in real estate. I have one multi unit property and I live in one of the apartments. My plan is to continue buying multi family properties until the rental income replaces my job income.

      It’s not easy. I earn about the national average salary, but I’ve learned to live on a fraction of my income. If my job was eliminated, I’d be ok because I have money that’s semi liquid in addition to cash flow from the property.

      Develop a financial goal/plan based upon where you want to be and how you want to live, then it will be easier to figure out where to put your money.

      NDQ

  54. Gaia*

    I posted last week about the skin test that required a mole removal to be sent to path.

    Results are in – it is “severely atypical” which is terrifying because that mole came out of nowhere. I now have to go in on the 17th for a full excision with clean margins and potentially further testing. Because I have a family history of melanoma, my skin doesn’t tan (like…at all) and I have a freaking ton of moles (I always thought they were freckles because they’re flat?) and now a severely atypical mole I guess I’m at an even higher risk for melanoma in the future.

    So better than it could have been, and all the more reason to do regular checks. But also the girl giving me the initial results used the word melanoma WAY too much for something that isn’t melanoma.

    1. Wishing You Well*

      Best of Luck to you.
      Do those regular checks on moles. If you keep on top of it, you’ll be okay. A friend of mine has had several excisions and it hasn’t affected her life much at all, but sun protection is a must.
      P.S. No one should use the word “melanoma” unless it’s actually melanoma. Tsk.

    2. MissGirl*

      Wishing you well. I hope next year this is a bad memory and a few years after that it’s a blip you barely think about.

    3. Auntie Social*

      Even if it turns out to be pre-cancerous or worse, Mohs surgery is a piece of cake now. I’m the color of salt, I understand.

    4. Katefish*

      Somewhat agree with Auntie Social…Mohs surgery is relatively easy, but it’s only relatively painless if you nip things in the bud early… Yet another reason to be proactive.

  55. Floridian*

    Anyone else in the supposed path of Dorian? It’s crazy to me that we still can’t predict hurricane paths with any certainty until a few days out.

    1. Goose Lavel*

      Not in the path, but I hope it steers clear of you. I’m not surprised that hurricane paths are not determined many days out; the planet is complex.
      I’m currently waiting in cali for the Big One due to happen either right now or sometime in the next 30 years.

      1. Floridian*

        True, Mother Nature is complex and still trumps our prediction models. It’s just annoying to hear these forecasters reveling in this and making a giant deal about something that will most likely not make landfall here now. Yes, it’s good to be prepared and everyone who lives here knows the drill, but they are unnecessarily inducing panic based on incorrect models. Or maybe I’m just salty because I wanted to make French toast this morning and the grocery store was out of bread. :)

      2. Floridian*

        True, Mother Nature is more complex than we can account for. It’s just annoying to see the television newscasters positively reveling in this and endlessly going over models that end up being incorrect. They induce panic too early. Everyone who lives here knows to be prepared for hurricanes. Sensible preparation is one thing. Unnecessary fear mongering is another before they are at the stage of being ready to recommend voluntary evacuations etc.
        Or maybe I am just salty because I wanted to make French toast this morning and the grocery store was out of bread. :)

        1. Clisby*

          Nobody should be getting hurricane news from TV. This is what the NOAA Hurricane Center is for.

          1. Mimblewimble*