weekend free-for-all – April 4-5, 2020

Sophie and Shadow

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 Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel. This story of two siblings weaves all around, from dance clubs to a remote hotel in Canada to a Madoff-like scandal. There’s vulnerability and magical realism and meditations on money and beautiful writing. It’s very different from her earlier Station Eleven (do not read that right now), but it put me in a sort of trance and I liked it.

* I make a commission if you use those Amazon links.

{ 1,603 comments… read them below }

    1. Wandering*

      It makes me so happy to see that the new cats are snuggling with Sophie, thanks so much for sharing these photos.

    2. nep*

      I just love how the kitty photos lately are everything that is not physical-distancing.

    3. Lexicat*

      I love your kitties; they’re the only reason I look at weekend posts.

      Soooo beautiful!

  1. Jake*

    I’ve been eager to read that book! I really liked Station Eleven, and of course it’s been on my mind lately. I’d been wondering what her new book would be like! I found Station Eleven incredibly immersive, partly because of how much I liked Emily Mandel’s writing style.

    1. Windchime*

      I’ve read a bunch of her books, and they’re all like that. I love the way she writes.

  2. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

    Ever start a project that just GREW? I have a huge window in my kitchen that has two shelves. The top shelf has my/our collection of tankards & goblets and such, the lower shelf has some decorative items and plants, but I try to keep it mostly bare. Unfortunately it tends to become a catchall.
    Well, I decided that both shelves needed a cleaning. Cleared the counter, cleared the shelves. Then decided that I should clean the window and the wall next around it…
    Well I’m doing the wall, but dang look at this ceiling…!
    Yeah, everything is getting cleaned now. Ceiling, light ficture, walls, cabinets….

    1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Oh and then the hubs comes in and looks at the empty shelves;
      Do you want me to take these down so that you can refinish them? Looks likes its about time.
      NO I DON’T!
      ….yes, please.

    2. Parenthetically*

      I feel like every project I do ends up like this! When my folks moved into their new place, doing a quick dust of the blinds turned into deconstructing the blinds and washing each individual louver from EVERY WINDOW IN THE HOUSE AND TWO SETS OF FRENCH DOORS in hot soapy water in the sink. Oof.

    3. peachie*

      Oh boy do I feel this. I was explaining to my boyfriend the other day that the reason I get so overwhelmed by cleaning/decluttering is that I have no idea when to stop — there’s usually more than I could reasonably do in one sitting, but I don’t know when to call it a day because it feels weird to stop cleaning when it’s not fully clean!

    4. anon24*

      Hello me. I try to do one thing and by the end of the day my home is in shambles, I’m exhausted, and the original thing is not done. I’ll start cleaning out a drawer, but this thing needs put in this closet, but wow this closet is messy, and this other thing needs put on this shelf over in this room, no room on the shelf so I guess we have to take everything off the shelf and reorganize it, oh, why are these on the shelf? they belong over here… look at this mess! Gotta do something about this!…

    5. merp*

      This might be absurd but I am feeling this so much with my animal crossing island right now. So many trees, so many flowers, too many decisions!! If I change one thing, might as well change e v e r y t h i n g

    6. Imtheone*

      First you get new curtains, then the walls need painting to go with the new curtains, then the carpet needs cleaning, then you see the sofa doesn’t look nice enough, and on and on.

    7. Katefish*

      I feel your pain and wanted to give a shout out to Unf*ck Your Habitat… The blogger recommends against what she calls “marathoning” and has some good techniques.

      1. Ranon*

        You can take breaks and still wind up vacuuming the underside of your couch, not that I would know anything about that sort of thing…

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Little progress for me this week, but any progress is good, I suppose.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I am pulling an old project off the shelf: an article on the first baseball war, in 1882. I previously got about halfway through, which is to say all the preliminaries to set the context, then got distracted. One of my long term ambitions is to write a history of baseball in the 1880s, when a lot of organizational features we take for granted today arose. Fortunately this lends itself to writing as separate articles, which can later be lightly adapted as chapters.

      1. A Tired Queer*

        I know nothing about baseball, but you had me at “the first baseball war”! I hope you’re able to finish that article, because now I want to read it!

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          The war is metaphorical, of course: like two business engaging in a “price war.” I’m not sure how much interest it would hold for someone not into baseball, or at least professional sports, as it is really about competing leagues and how this works.

          Here is one that might interest you: a piece a published a few years back about a semi-famous (within baseball) quotation somewhat mangled and misattributed to Charles Eliot, president of Harvard. It actually was by his cousin, Charles Eliot Norton, also of Harvard. I can’t imagine how they ever got confused. The piece is actually a sneaky way to get baseball fans to read cultural history. https://sabr.org/research/deliberate-attempt-deceive-correcting-quotation-misattributed-charles-eliot-president

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I started a screenwriting class on Coursera. I HATE their interface, though. Also, it’s weird to solicit a writing group from total strangers. I realize you would be thrown into a writing room on a TV gig or whatever with strangers, but at least it wouldn’t be randos from the internet.

      I wanted to do the Blogging from A-Z Challenge this month, but I got distracted by the pandemic. Oh well. I had a great idea, so I’ll just pre-write all the posts for next year.

      1. Audiophile*

        How is Coursera? I haven’t really looked into it, but was looking at virtual screenwriting classes with another company.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It’s okay, I guess. One class doesn’t really cover a huge amount. I took an HTML class on it once. Your mileage may vary, depending on who’s teaching it, etc.

    3. OyHiOh*

      I’m attempting NaPoWriMo and so far failing rather badly. Hopefully make some progress this weekend.

    4. curly sue*

      The writing is the one part of my life I’m actually on top of again, averaging about a thousand words a day. Which is good, because I just sold this book and it’s due in June. Eep.

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I actually went back to Don’t Starve! It’s been a looooong time since I played it and I had a craving for it. I missed those beefalo.

    1. Princess Zelda*

      Animal Crossing: New Horizons is just so soothing. I really just love walking around with my net, looking for bugs and shaking trees. The sakura leaves floating around are so cute, and I hope I get a DIY recipe for them soon.

      I also beat all the Blight Ganons on Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and unlocked the last memory! I’m still looking for all the shrines — I think I’m up to 94 of them, and there’s 120 in all.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I’ve honestly always had preference for the Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons series (oh the naming shenanigans…I’m at least 70% convinced the naming shenanigans is why they’re remaking Friends of Mineral Town) over Animal Crossing, the real-time mechanic kinda put me off. But the more livestreams I watch of it the more I think the Nook Miles system might be right up my alley…May pick it up when I get a Switch (planning to buy one this summer).

        1. Gingerblue*

          I’m a Harvest Moon/Rune Factory/Stardew Valley type myself, and I’m finding Animal Crossing enjoyable in a very different way. I think it’s best as a casual game that you drop into for a few minutes here and there. It’s an utterly different, much less goal-oriented sort of gameplay.

          1. Girl with the yellow umbrella*

            I started playing stardew about a week ago and I am completely hooked. Such a satisfying and chilled game, perfect while I have all this time to kill as well!

            1. silverpie*

              Same here. It’s to the point where I’ll be playing a Sudoku after an SV session, and when I touch the next square, I’ll wait for my character to walk there forgetting that it’s instant in sudokus…

      2. Nessun*

        For me it’s the fishing, but same idea – so soothing and calming to just wander around hunting big game, AC style. I honestly am not doing much to help my island…just selling fish and then getting more. I see friends online who have had their concert, created these epic towns, and I’m…fishing. :)

        1. Gingerblue*

          I’m supposed to be putting in my first plots for new residents and I’m paralyzed with indecision about where to drop them, so I just haven’t picked the game up for a few days.

          1. Nessun*

            Eventually you get the right to move them (if you pay bells). So I didn’t carr, I just dropped them everywhere LOL. Mine is a classy, classy place.

    2. Quoth the Raven*

      Just started my second playthrough of Red Dead Redemption 2 with my mum, who asked if she could “control the horse” at some moment. We’re still at the very beginning, but I’m really looking forward to playing it with her and having her input, and I’m really curious if she’ll want to play it high or low honour.

      It’s become my favourite game, so I’m going to enjoy this a lot.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Husband and I picked up WoW again. I played from vanilla release straight through the Wrath expansion, and sporadically after that. I haven’t liked the subsequent ones near so much, but this latest one has been a lot of fun the last couple days, especially with the double XP going on.

      1. Djuna*

        Similar but I quit almost a year into Wrath, and didn’t go back.
        When Classic came out it I played it for a few weeks and left it, but I picked it up again last Sunday and am having quiet fun leveling sloooooowly. I think it’s the lack of pressure combined with nostalgia that appeals to me most right now.
        I won’t say I’m not curious about what “retail” is like these days, but maybe just not curious enough for the download!

    4. Jonah*

      I’m a big fan of atmospheric, story rich games, and I’ve been playing Life is Strange 2 this week. I just have to be careful not to play for too long because it makes me sad after a couple hours. This story might be a little *too* rich for me!

    5. TimeCat*

      I joined Board Game Arena and have been playing remotely with friends. Highly recommend.

      1. Nicki Name*

        Oh, hello, this is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for for years!! I love Eurogames and don’t have anyone to play them with outside of conventions!

    6. Quinalla*

      Frostpunk and This War of Mine, they fit my mood and also have a good mix of inevitable but you can still do something to combat it – generally with hope.

    7. Junior Dev*

      I’ve been playing Minecraft and Borderlands 2 with friends, and Animal Crossing by myself.

      The Minecraft game is a realm that was set up in 2013 or so. I never played before this. My friends have been working on their little villages and buildings for years and I’m just figuring out how it all works.

      I find it relaxing but I get nauseous after an hour or so of playing; I got some advice on how to fix this in the field of view settings, but I haven’t set it up yet. I’m also getting a better monitor soon and I hope that helps.

      1. Kanye West*

        The quality of the monitor is not relevant with motion sickness. The distance of your eyes to the monitor combined with the field of view is.

        The greater the difference of the line from your eye to the corner of the screen to the line that is the extension of your in-game field of view, the more it confuses the brain. The lines of the in-game field of view should ideally be an extension of the lines from your eye to the corners of the screen but no first person game does that because it would afford the player a very small window into the game world.

    8. Helvetica*

      I re-discovered The Sims, and I gotta say, it is excellent at killing time. Also, not having played since 2, I have to say 4 has some wild new features. Sims die! Caring for toddlers is super hard! Relationships take time to build! Sometimes I think they should’ve left it less realistic, I want some escapism, dammit.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        I literally did nothing but play the Sims 4 for like three days. My brain turned to mush. If you put a stethoscope to my forehead, very faintly you can hear the Build Mode music.

        But I recreated Phantom of the Opera as a vampire story, and had Laura Ingalls fall in love with Emily Starr, so like, obviously time well spent.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I really liked the first Sims, but never played any of the later ones because I didn’t like the aging and the game giving more goals, which started with Sims 2. I never had trouble coming up with my own goals, and I just didn’t appreciate the extra structures getting in the way of whatever I’d decided to do.

      3. Girl with the yellow umbrella*

        I know expansion packs are expensive but honestly the realm of magic one is SO WORTH IT.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          If you manage to wait until an Origin sale, they tend to heavily (50%) discount the expansions.

          …Which is how I ended up with all of them.

        2. Helvetica*

          They’re all on sale right now! That is why I bought it. No expansion packs, but I do wonder if the animals expansion is worth it?

      4. Anon for this*

        I just build and build and build and build. I also watch Twitch streams of people building because honestly I find it very very soothing.

    9. Wander*

      I just started Stardew Valley this week, years behind the curve. Normally I only play story heavy games – RPGs or interactive fiction – but I wanted something lighter. I previously thought I wouldn’t like it, but I genuinely enjoy it. It’s more addictive than I anticipated.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I bought it on the Switch last night after remembering that I loved it on PC.

        I love it SO much. It’s so chill, and all the people have stories and stuff if you put in the effort to get their heart scenes.

      2. Definitely a Real Cat*

        I just discovered it a few weeks ago! I’m really put off by pixel art so I never gave it a chance before, but boy did it grow on me fast. The music just runs through my head on a loop now and I cannot complain.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          I often use the music as background noise while doing the thing that shan’t be discussed in this thread. It’s just sooooooo relaxing!

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Pixel ate or not, my then 10yo daughter recognized a potato field from Stardew Valley when we were visiting family in a rural area.

        3. Wander*

          The pixel art was the primary reason I didn’t play it earlier too! It’s just personally unappealing to me for some reason. I’m still not sure if I like this game in spite of the pixel art or if that art style just doesn’t bother me as much when actually playing the game.

          The music is great. Sometimes I just put the game on pause and leave it open in the background for the music while I do other things. I think it’s caught on to me though, because it keeps fading it out faster than I expect.

    10. Purt’s Peas*

      I started playing some Don’t Starve Together and it was like: oh!!! The beefalo!!! Merm farming!!!! My friendly pig king!!!!! And then Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out and…well…that’s all I’ve been playing :)

    11. peachie*

      I don’t think this counts as ‘gaming,’ but I decided to learn some classic card games (mostly via app). Cribbage is easier than anticipated (and there’s a DELIGHTFUL app called Cribbage With Grandpas where you design grandpas and they teach you to play cribbage); bridge is… impossible?

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Eh, I’m not too fussy on definitions.
        I’ve never understood bridge either so…That makes two of us? The idea of learning via apps is really good though!

      2. Tau*

        That sounds amazing (especially Cribbage With Grandpas, omg)! I concur on bridge – I fell in with a bridge-fanatic group in college and could never get my head round the game. I got myrevenge by trying to teach them Doppelkopf, a classic German card game with superficial similarities but grave, grave differences in play. They started looking queasy when I opened with “the ten of hearts is the highest trump and the two players with the queens of clubs are playing together”, and around the time I explained the point scoring they were begging me to stop.

        (I adore Doppelkopf, for what it’s worth, and highly recommend it! However, the learning curve is a little steep – especially if you’ve never played Skat, the even more classic German card game, before.)

      3. AnonEMoose*

        As far as I’m concerned, if you’re playing a game, you’re gaming. It’s a pet peeve of mine when “gaming” is taken to mean only “video gaming,” and only certain forms of that. There are so, so many other types of gaming – card games, board games, paper and pencil RPGs. To me, it’s a form of gatekeeping to only count certain things as somehow being “real gaming,” and it’s really obnoxious.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          My sentiments exactly. I’ll try to remember to specify that board games etc. also count.

    12. onebitcpu*

      Ghost Recon Breakpoint every second friday with 3 others online, and Ocarina of Time offline.
      I might try some Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes with the family again this weeked.

      1. The New Spider Boss*

        My boyfriend is on his 5th playthrough of the Resident Evil 3 remake. It came out yesterday.

    13. Gingerblue*

      Lots of Cities Skylines, recently. There’s a new expansion out that I need to get!

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I had to stop playing City Skylines because apparently if your city grows really quickly, 75 game years later you have a mass die-off and your cemetery gets full. Which was hilarious until about a month ago, now it’s just grim.

    14. Tau*

      I have my gaming PC again finally, and I am really, really hoping to get some time into Skyrim, or potentially Stardew Valley, or even an MMO (probably Elder Scrolls Online) tomorrow. Over the past few weeks, I have often found myself thinking “hey, you know what sounds like a great idea? immersing myself in a game world where I can just run around exploring outside and talking to people without worrying about 2 metre distances or decontaminating surfaces!” and now I have the chance to actually do so before I go completely neurotic.

      1. Chylleh*

        So true. I played Elder Scrolls IV when I contracted H1N1, when I was finally getting better and could sit up in bed, and it was immensely helpful for my mental health. Thinking of working in Skyrim again soon for the same reason you describe.

    15. KoiFeeder*

      Tried to replace the battery on my pokemon sapphire. The solder tabs had corroded to the point that the whole assembly shattered when I touched it.

      So I replaced the battery and used paperclips instead of the solder tabs. It works, but it smells suspiciously like something’s burning when I play it.

    16. Chylleh*

      Playing Animal Crossing and looking into ways to get pears and apples. My partner’s in-game, Mom sent him some via mail and he promptly ate them and is kicking himself now. I have oranges and access to peaches in the Nook islands, he has cherries and access to oranges. Does anyone know if there is a chance a character or villager might gift them again?

      Also playing Persona 5 Royal and Stardew Valley, and using the Ring Fit on the Switch finally! It gives a good workout.

      1. Nessun*

        Visit someone else’s island (or have them visit yours) and they can gift them (as in a RL other player) or you can go to an island using a Nook Miles Ticket and hope it’s one with fruit trees you dont have-but that’s luck of the draw. :)

    17. AnonEMoose*

      DH and I have been spending time with Dragon Age: Inquisition. It’s got a lot of the exploring, talking to people, story rich (as in “stuff you do affects the story”) play style that appeals to me. You know a game is successful when it can actually make you care about a character who was a villain in a previous game in the series.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        One day I’ll have a DA:I playthrough where I don’t romance Cullen. One day.

        (Currently modded to allow multiple romances. Mainly because Cullen. How did I become this person)

        1. AnonEMoose*

          I’ve done a playthrough with the Blackwall romance, and started one romancing Solas, but never finished that one, and one with a male PC who romanced Cassandra – that one was ok. But the Cullen romance is my favorite, for sure!

    18. CorruptedbyCoffee*

      I’m playing fallout, new Vegas. It puts our current paper towel shortage in perspective.

    19. IndyDem*

      I’ve been playing Neverwinter Online – it feeds my gaming and my D&D craving, all in one!

    20. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      I’ve been replaying Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but this time on easy because maybe this isn’t the area where I need a challenge right now, you know? I do enjoy the whole “the real monsters are people” vibe, and my god I love gwent. Oh you think you’ve got powerful cards?? I SCORCH THEM! (oh crap you had more powerful cards) I really need to try the independent gwent game.
      For non-video gaming, I finally allowed my partner to teach me chess last night, and it was super fun! Not at all the cordially murderous encounter with a megalomaniac the movies would have you believe. Just a fun, complicated game with lots of options.

    21. LJay*

      I just picked up a Switch Lite (got the coral colored one which was apparently just released).

      Playing a lot of Animal Crossing New Horizons and Tetris 99. Also some Super Mario Kart and Super Mario World.

  5. Princess Deviant*

    It was my birthday yesterday, and quite a few people forgot! I’m feeling low about it.

    To then top matters off, I found out yesterday that I’d failed my assignment for uni.

    I hope to have a better day today.
    What have you all got planned?

    1. Retail not Retail*

      Happy belated birthday! Happy unbirthday to you!

      Today is my Friday so I get to stay up late watching tv or movies. Trying to get that free HBO to work on my tv.

      I hope your weather doesn’t suck today and you can get outside if that’s your thing. (It’s April, one cannot assume decent weather. We have it minus the pollen.)

      1. PhyllisB*

        Happy Belated Birthday!! I know how you feel; my birthday was a couple of weeks ago (69. How did THAT happen??) and didn’t get the usual amount of attention. I don’t mean that in a whiney sort of way, but usually my oldest makes me a Birthday dessert and we have a dinner to celebrate. But this time with all the shelter-in-place and all, it was very low-key. Oh well, I turn 70 next year, and I expect some fuss!! :-)

        1. Princess Deviant*

          Happy belated birthday to you too :)
          Yes, deferring the celebrations till next year is a good idea!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      All the days are blurring together for so many of us, but if it helps youve just reminded me that my niece’s is soon. So you’ve been a light for someone you don’t even know.
      I can’t do anything for you in person, but maybe this bit from years ago in Denmark will make you mile a liitle. https://youtu.be/xgOyTNtsWyY

    3. SparkleJaffe*

      Happy Birthday! I hope you can re-do the assignment or get extra credit somehow.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Ohhhh I forgot to split the silly birthday link from my comment. I hope you see it, it’s something I have kept flagged for years. Tillyke med fødselsdagen, your highness!

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Oh that link’s gorgeous!

        Mange tak! at buschaufførens ansigt var så sød! (This is from Google translate, so no idea if it’s right >.<)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I know very little Danish, but the “mange tak” is right. From my long sgo stay there I pretty much remember basic greetings, numbers, and food. Oh and a few words related to coin-op laundry machines. (kogevask=boilwash. great for sterilizing things but mighty hard on bras LOL). Hopefully I just gave you another chuckle. Duolingo has Danish though so I may dive in again when I replace this phone.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Happy belated birthday, PD!

      Very sorry about your assignment. Will you be allowed a redo or some other way to recoup that one?

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Thank you, yes I think so re the assignment, but I’m not going to ponder it at the minute because classes have been suspended rn :/

    6. Batgirl*

      Happy birthday! So many people were sick when my birthday rolled around last month that I got a much lower level of attention than normal. It’s on Valentine’s day, so people didn’t forget, it was more ‘oh I forgot to bring your card’ which never materialised. Fortunately I really enjoy my habit of buying myself a gift every year and I know that sometimes people just have stuff going on.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Happy belated birthday :)
        I bought myself a v expensive purse yday, and thought “stuff it”!

        1. PhyllisB*

          Princess, this reminds me a joke I read in Reader’s Digest years ago: “I just had my 70th birthday and my son gave me a purse stuffed with 70 one dollar bills for a gift. Later I was making a purchase and when the clerk saw all the one dollar bills, she asked me if I was a cocktail waitress. I told her, ‘Nope. A stripper.’ “

    7. Anono-me*

      Happy Belated Birthday ! I hope that you have a beautiful weekend.

      Please talk to your instructor and if necessary your dean and student advocate about a do over for the project as right now so many things are much more difficult than they normally are.

      I am going to do more spring cleaning, take a long solitary dog walk and try to find good fan fiction for my favorite writers (For some reason I keep finding stuff that has an added physical intimacy component as the focus, which is not what I am looking for. ) Start Yoga with Adrienne again. And try to figure out a no power tool diy project to do. (Family has strongly urged no power tool projects right now.) And lots and lots of talking on the phone and letter writing.

    8. Mystery Bookworm*

      Happy birthday! I have been feeling a little left out of some friend actitvitites recently so I can sympathize with that low feeling. I’m trying to remind myself that it’s a weird time and people are perhaps not in a place where they can be as thoughtful as usual.

      Did you do anything to celebrate for yourself?

    9. WellRed*

      Happy Birthday! A friend of mine turned 50 this week. Sheltering in place not how she planned to celebrate. I’m doing a little spring cleaning today and the sun is out finally so going for a walk at some point. Socially distant, of course. Also, calling mom and maybe a virtual TV date tonight.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Oh nice!
        I did the virtual ‘date’ with a friend last week. We watched The Occupant on Netflix at the same time, then skyped each other afterwards with a coffee to talk about it. It was fun.
        We’d normally go to the cinema together, then to a coffee shop for a drink afterwards.

    10. anon24*

      Happy belated birthday!

      I’m sorry about your uni assignment. I’ve decided that I’m ok with just skating by in my classes. I don’t have the mental bandwidth to care right now.

    11. Princess Deviant*

      Ah thank you so much everyone, that’s really nice of you and has cheered me up no end. The kindness of strangers, hey.

      I’ve been out for a looong walk, and am going to read a bit for my next assignment, which I’ve managed to have extended, and I’ve got a tutorial re my failed one next week so I can discuss it then (but don’t want it to take over this discussion bc it’s no work or school :))

      But I’m probably going to eat first then find a cheesy film to watch on Netflix!

    12. Nott the Brave*

      Yesterday was my birthday too! My plans got canceled for the same reason that everything got canceled, so I’ve been feeling low too.

    13. Skeeder Jones*

      Happy belated birthday! Today is my birthday, it’s a little different this year with the “social distancing” but I got to see my mom and watch movies and eat spaghetti and give elbow bumps instead of hugs.

    14. NoLongerYoung*

      Happy belated birthday! And yesterday was my niece’s birthday, and I did somehow remember that. I am trying to mail cards to people who I “do” remember in time.
      When I turned 30, I decided that others were not likely to remember my day and I needed to be taking care of me. (My mom remembers, but I can’t count on that forever). So I began picking one thing that I really wanted, but would not otherwise get or upgrade (a museum reproduction print, one year, for my dining room), and treating myself.
      I also use my birthday – not new year’s – as the time to look at my life goals and self care. My pap, mammogram, any immunizations, vision… all are in my birthday month, so that I am (smile) taking good care of myself for the next year. It’s less stress for me to look at the life goals then, because it’s “my” new year, and my goals… contact a long term friend 2x a month, for example.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        That’s such a great idea, with a really sensible thought behind it. .. I’m going to steal that! Spring always feels like a better time to me anyway to set goals and review the past year.
        Thank you.

  6. Retail not Retail*

    My mom is high risk and she’s getting tired of quarantine without end. She’s saying she wants to volunteer but all local volunteer projects include too much exposure or already had someone test positive!

    She was like you had that time when you moved back before your job started so you understand how I’m feeling.

    I pointed out that I walked the dog like 3 times a day during those 2 weeks. That’s my only advice for her – get outside, walk that spoiled dog, do yard work.

    She’s getting paid her full check but the only work she can do is training modules which thankfully don’t take 8 hours a day.

    My aunt is super sick with complications so she knows how serious this is but I worry about her mental health.

    Quarantine tips that don’t involve working from home?

    1. Bagpuss*

      Are there any volunteer options that involve phone work? If not, could she organise something?
      In my village the Parish Council is coordinating volunteers and while it includes things like matching people who need groceries or medication collecting with those willing to do that, they also match people who are lonely or isolated with people willing to phone them to check in or just chat , and there is now a national scheme that does something similar.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yep. I am volunteering with a few groups that call seniors to make sure they have their meds and groceries (and help arrange for them to get them) and just to chat.

        I am also volunteering with a local maker group. (Two weeks ago, I had no idea what makers were. Now I know and it’s so interesting!) These people – 3D printing, die cutting, sewing, and otherwise making PPE – have full time jobs, so I am doing a lot of the administrative and coordinating work. That can all be done from home.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I understand the urge to do something to help–it makes me feel useful do helps me too.
      Might she be interested in doing something like volunteering with Project Gutenberg, LibriVox, or some other distributed electronic project?
      Is there anyone you know with a kid remote-schooling who might benefit from having an unrelated adult to call with school questions? Sometimes we just want a person who is different, and kids have another layer of that right now.
      My mom injured her leg at one point and started knitting premie hats for the NICU while she was immobile. It was at home but she said it kept her thinking about outside in a positive way.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        She’s not big on what she calls “computer stuff,” but I know she had plans to phone and video chat with her students. (K-3 and special ed assistant.) One student came by and stuck a letter in our mailbox which she loved.

        I need to remind her of that.

        Also, we’re trying to follow quarantine downstairs since I still go to work. She prefers the study already so I have the living room. But I know how much shutting yourself away can weigh you down.

        Of course she still goes outside! I think last night she was frustrated by my aunt’s problems on the other side of the country and being unable to do anything for them.

        1. Anon-a-souras*

          If you’re ok financially, what about putting boredom-buster envelopes together and mailing them to the kids she teaches/kids in the family/ neighborhood? My SIL sent us a padded envelope with two $1 scholastic books and coloring sheets, stickers, some bead kits. She’s a leaning specialist – so she’s doing some remote work, but not a lot. She said she spent about $100 at Oriental Trading Post and another $100 at scholastic/postage. She made and mailed something like 50 kits.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          If she has access to her students’ addresses, she could also make and send them cards. I used to buy packages of 4″x6″ blank index cards (rather than lined) and draw pictures on one side with permanent markers, then mail them out as postcards. k-3s are too young for letters in a lot of cases, but would probably be excited to get mail.

        3. OyHiOh*

          Can she hook up with Boys and Girls Club in your area to develop education kits and/or other non contact volunteer work?

          Our Boys and Girls has been handing out education supplement kits on Fridays along with lunch drive thru. They’re doing kits for k-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Doesn’t reach every kid, but we’re serving about 1,000 meals every school day so it’s getting into quite a few hands

        4. nonprofit director*

          The teachers at the local elementary school arranged a “parade” in our neighborhood last week. They decorated their own cars and drove around the neighborhood honking and waving. It was really touching. Maybe your mom could coordinate something like that.

    3. Ranon*

      Here’s a few links that might help, if she’s in the US:
      This organization connects seniors via phone and they’re waiving non resident fees: https://www.familyeldercare.org/programs/lifetime-connections-without-walls/

      Aspire to Age is seeking volunteers for 20-minute virtual and phone check-ins with seniors: http://www.aspiretoage.com/

      Your local area may have similar volunteer opportunities- there’s plenty of volunteering that’s possible to do over the phone! She might also reach out to her favorite charities and political orgs and see if they’re doing any phone banking right now too.

    4. Baby Archivist*

      The Library of Congress lets you transcribe documents online. It’s super useful work. Idk if she’d be interested in that.

    5. Marthooh*

      Zooniverse(dot)org crowdsources scientific research projects. It’s intended to let untrained volunteers analyze data of various kinds. It might be looking at remote photos to identify animals, or (trying to) read old handwritten data and transfer it to electronic records. It’s extremely helpful to the scientists, but also low-pressure, since lots of volunteers are analyzing the same data and individual mistakes are diluted, as it were.

    6. Quinalla*

      Learn something new – so many youtube videos, free resources online, books, etc. Start a new useful hobby. Sew cloth masks – CDC in the US is recommending folks wear them in public now. Bake or cook new recipes – we’ve been doing a lot of that. Clean and organize – my parents have been doing that. Meditate, yoga, floor excercises, etc. Write letters to people – my kids have been doing that. Reread a favorite book. Try a video game :)

      Hope some of those help!

    7. Wandering*

      It’s Citizen Science week. Maybe there are projects in your area that she might contribute to in some way? While a lot of outdoor projects are for groups, when I lived in a more rural state there were lots of things to do in ones or twos that had us out on our own rather than in larger groups. We did wild seed planting, we pulled young invasive plants, we counted birds in particular areas, we checked fence lines, etc etc. We’d get training of different kinds – go pull *this* invasive, here are photos of three different stages of growth of the plant, this is how to pull it (be sure to get all the roots, just cut it off at the soil line, just be sure to pull the seed pods off, etc etc); this is how to report fence line issues (take this kind of photo, with the GIS coordinates, and describe the location too).

      I have a friend who is working from home. She takes her lunch break to walk – and schedules as many of her personal calls for then as possible. She gets both an hour long walk and a long conversation in, and her friends get to catch up with her. She gives a travelogue of what she sees outside, too, which is fun as we live in different regions with different plants coming up and leafing out or blooming.

  7. Vic tower*

    Living in Australia, just hit 19 weeks pregnant. Am HOD in a hospital so have been stressed out with COVID planning to the max. Also dealing with my husband needing a major operation four weeks ago with slow recovery and a readmission.

    However, this weekend has been a little oasis. Hubby seems to finally be on the mend, my tightenings are less frequent (thank you to all the helpful comments from last week) and there are some signs of flattening the curve.

    I really feel for everyone around the globe dealing with this crisis. Particularly my healthcare colleagues on the frontline with inadequate protection. I don’t pray as I’m atheist but I wish there was something I could do to help and to send that care and concern for millions of strangers in a meaningful way. Does anyone feel the same? How are you turning your good vibes into something tangible? (I’m reaching out locally as well but it doesn’t feel like much)

    1. Wandering*

      You are already doing so much, please don’t feel any pressure to do more. Your hospital needs you, your spouse needs you, the coming baby needs you. Everything you do for your family helps them and then the community. Everything you do for the hospital and patients there helps the community.

      You’re already online here, talking about your care and concern and sending it out into the world. We need more of that everywhere, in the face of the fear so many are feeling. Kindness and knowledge is a potent combination – it feels normal to you, but it’s not as common as one might hope.

      Best to you and yours.

    2. smoke tree*

      It’s just a small thing, but in my city there is a new tradition of applauding everyone working on the front lines at the same time every day. I know it’s not much in the scheme of things (and I’m not sure how healthcare workers themselves feel about it) but it does feel like it’s helping spread some good vibes at least.

    3. Nita*

      I’ve found a few funds on GoFundMe collecting money for PPE for medical staff on the front lines, and have been donating. Considered sewing masks, but realistically, I’d probably average one mask in two weeks…

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      I made a thank you card for my state’s medical professionals – my property management team is putting a slideshow of letters together to email to all of our local hospitals to tell them how much we appreciate what they’re doing for us. My property management team loved the card, and I told them that if they decide to do anything else for them, to let me know.

  8. Seeking Second Childhood*

    The Bloggess this week posted something that I wanted to share: “This is not easy. Give yourself credit.” (Link in reply.)
    It’s so hard.
    The phrase that captures what’s sent me over the edge more than once: “…moments that we took for granted would arrive but won’t.”

  9. Retail not Retail*

    How do people feel about the latest recommendation to wear masks when in public? I wore a basic yardwork type mask on Thursday to clean up the early spring sheddings of stupid trees. It wasn’t too uncomfortable, but I wonder how they’ll feel once it gets warmer.

    I tried to make something out of my scarf before discovering we had those. And they did not keep me from touching my face – hello, I need to drink water. And by the end of the day, the metal part broke off.

    1. tanklizard*

      The Governor of my state asked us to start wearing masks any time we’re outside. I don’t have any so I had to make one and not having any skill at sewing or even having a needle and thread it was kind of ugly at first. I tried a washcloth and shoelaces but the wasn’t going to stay in place. I ended up making a mask out of an old t-shirt. I cut the sleeves at the top and bottom seams and then trimmed the back of the shirt to be sleeve width. The neckline goes over my nose and I tie the sleeves behind the back of my head. It works pretty well, I can get it good and tight over my entire lower face including my beard. The only problem is my glasses fog every time I exhale but that happens with any type of mask.

      1. Legally a Vacuum*

        Try washing your glasses with soapy water and then air drying them before putting on your mask.

        Alternatively, try sliding a Kleenex tissue between the top of the mask and your nose to absorb some of the moisture that you exhale.

      2. Roller Kates*

        Rain-X makes wipes! My dad was on oxygen for a year and wore glasses, and if we had to go out in public he needed a mask. His glasses would fog terribly, but my sister found those on amazon. They work incredibly well.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ahhh I never knew this. I’ll have to remember it for the future, since I actually have glasses that work now.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          Rain-X says not to use on plastic unless approved by the manufacturer (of the plastic). Hmmm.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My teenager is into kpop, so before Christmas we bought a multi-pack of those cartoon-faced kawaii masks. I had one at the office as a joke, and then in February I had a day I couldn’t stop sneezing and wore it and it wasn’t that bad. They’re cotton with a fuzzy lining– it was a lot easier to deal with than the synthetic safety masks.
      If you’re doing yard work, yes you’ll need to drink–but out & about, well, there are many places where people just don’t eat or drink in public. Wait on the travel water bottle until you’ve taken off the mask and washed your hands.
      I do know I will want multiples if I’m going to go out for longer than a brief grocery run, because our breath makes them damp and damp stops working. and maybe a baggie to bring it home to my laundry and ugh. Yup a pain in the neck.
      And I worry about those of us with hearing problems.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I was lucky enough to impulse-buy several of those at an anime con last year. They have come in handy so much more than all of the enamel pins I also bought. I also have a nice fleece-lined ski mask that I suspect would work well, but I’m pretty sure even in these mask-wearing times that would stress people out at the grocery store. I guess I’m wearing cat and bear faces at the grocery store for the duration.

        1. MistOrMister*

          I thought about wearing a balaclava but i hate the thing. And the mesh over the nose/mouth is so thin as to be worthless. If you have some sort,of fun hat, you could wear that with the ski mask and i bet no one would be concerned. I feel stifled with this mask wearing so I’ve dusted off my novelty hats and will be wearing one every time I go out in a mask. I wore one to the store today and a few people got a chuckle out of it :)

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        I use a washable nylon bag to put my masks in when I get back into my car after a grocery run, then I sanitize my hands. I put them into it without touching the outside. The when I get home, I dump it into the laundry, then put the bag in afterwards. Start the laundry, wash my hands. I have several cloth masks, so I have one for each stop if I have to go out.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      In my state, government health officials are saying you should cover your nose and mouth but aren’t saying it has to be a mask. You can use a scarf or a bandana as well. Their intention is to prevent you from breathing on other people, not to protect yourself. Since I hike and camp, I have a lot of bandanas. Maybe I’ll get a cowboy hat and go full silly like a vintage bank robber in an old western movie.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        We went to Walmart the other day for cat food. I haven’t been out hardly at all since my surgeries (timing was pretty good on that after all–it has forced me to self-isolate), so I hadn’t seen much of the gradual shift over the last few weeks. I was headed for the frozen aisle and I saw a guy putting on a bandana over his nose and mouth, tying it in back. It struck me that three weeks ago we would have thought he was getting ready to rob the store. Now it’s just someone taking whatever precautions they’re able to take.

        I haven’t yet worn a mask since I’ve been pretty isolated and I go out only twice a week, which is to the pharmacy to get my pain meds. I’m in and out, or we just go to the drive-up. I’ve been to the grocery store a couple times and once to Walmart. I make sure I stay as far away from others as I can. Once I’m driving again, or have to go anywhere for a longer period of time, I’ll have to figure out something for a mask.

        1. AVP*

          To be fair, even in NYC it seemed like the masks took off overnight. One day, maybe 20% of people on the street were wearing them, the next it was 75%.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            More people were wearing them today here, too. Last time I went out, I saw maybe two or three people with masks. Today it was almost half of everyone in Walmart. And there weren’t that many people in the store, which surprised me, since (finally) the governor issued a statewide stay-at-home order that starts at 12:01 am Monday morning. I figured it would be a madhouse, but it really wasn’t.

            Curiously, more younger folks had them on. The seniors weren’t wearing anything!

            1. The Other Dawn*

              I, too, noticed that it was the younger people wearing masks. I don’t think I saw an seniors wearing them at all.

              I was surprised that our Walmart was as busy as it was, though we’re not under a super strict stay-at-home order yet. My guess is that people are getting out as much as they can, while they still can, to get what they need. Although our shelves are still completely bare of TP, paper towels, tissues, napkins, hand sanitizer, and anti-bacterial soap.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          I started wearing a cloth mask when going out in early March. I had read about the asymptomatic transmission back in January of February, and it didn’t take a medical degree to figure out it was from breathing, talking, coughing & sneezing. After all, that’s how cold and flu is transmitted! In many places people wear masks in cold, flu and allergy season. Ergo, mask up!

    4. WS*

      The reason for wearing one seems to be that if you are asymptomatic but infectious (which can be 5 days in adults, longer in children), you reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Don’t worry about wearing one when there’s not going to be anyone else in your vicinity, do wear one if you are going to be passing close to other people, even briefly. Wearing it all day isn’t useful either – you need to change it when it gets moist (dispose of or wash the mask after that). That’s why it’s difficult and even dangerous for people to wear the same mask all day.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        I think I’ll save my scarf mask for grocery trips. The yard mask was for allergies, because spring pollen will do what it wants.

      2. Washi*

        I was wondering about this. I live in a big apartment building so when I leave the building I could briefly be in close proximity to other people but then once outside the streets are very quiet. Can I put on the mask just for exiting/entering the building and then take it off to walk? (I realize after I touch the mask my hands are not clean, but I’m opening doors and stuff with my clothed elbows anyway).

        1. Venus*

          I’m not an expert, but that is my understanding of how it works best, yes. If you have a mask on long-term then you are more likely to touch your face (medical people deal with this by changing gloves every time they go to a different patient). Being outside with no one around, especially if your hands are clean (having used elbows) there isn’t any virus around. It goes airborn when people talk, sneeze, or cough but the droplets fall to the ground after a short time.

          1. Ann O.*

            I don’t think there’s any evidence that people are actually more likely to touch their face when wearing a mask. I’ve read some articles from public health specialists that said explicitly they are not.

            Anecdotally, I touch my face much, much less when I wear a mask.

            This may be more of an issue for non-health care frontline workers, who will need their mask on for much longer than the typical case with the rest of us.

            1. Quoth the Raven*

              I touch my face a lot more when I wear a mask because there’s something weird on my face that I’m not used to, can bother me a bit, and I’ll be trying to unconsciously remove it or adjust it.

          1. Elizabeth*

            Anyone else living with someone whose anxiety is worse than your own? My partner has a lot of health anxiety in the best of times (and I’ve gone through periods of my life like that, so I do relate).

            The situation is terrifying so I do understand. But it’s also really stressful dealing with his anxiety, his extensive routines for decontaminating food packaging, etc. Some of the things that take the most time and generate the most stress are things that I believe are likely to make only a negligible difference to reducing risk.

            I’m in a stressful time already, helping my mother who is facing other health problems at the worst possible time, and I wish my home life were more relaxing.

            He has a great therapist and tele-sessions are going very well, and the days right after those appointments are much better for us.

            1. Not A Manager*

              Does he make you participate in those routines, or are they his alone? Can you and he talk about the fact that you have different ideas of the marginal utility of certain precautions, and that if he wants those precautions then he needs to be the one to manage them?

              Obviously you can do that for some things but not others. “Partner is in charge of decontaminating the packages” is fine. “Partner is in charge of washing my hands” probably isn’t.

              1. Elizabeth*

                Yes, this makes sense. It doesn’t fully work because I feel unfair leaving him hours of cleaning work that I’m not helping with even if I disagree. But I think being a little more willing to let him take charge of his things makes sense.

                1. allathian*

                  I think this sounds good. Not to be callous or anything, but you’re just enabling his anxiety if you participate in the routines that you think aren’t worth the effort. I recommend agreeing to disagree with this one and leaving him to it, if the routines make him more agreeable to live with otherwise.

        2. Purt’s Peas*

          I was doing some reading on this (Ed Yong at the Atlantic had a really good article about this). Your mask also becomes contaminated after putting it on/taking it off, so you’re more at risk for those particles going right on your face where you don’t want them to be.

          So cloth masks—made out of non-woven but chemically-bonded cloth, preferably—make it a little safer for others if you are asymptomatic. But if you futz with them, they are an increased risk for you if you aren’t infected.

          1. John*

            So the masks are only for the benefit of other people, and actually make it MORE likely you’ll get sick?

            1. John*

              Protecting strangers is well and good, most of the time, but not when it can hurt me and my family.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                No, it doesn’t hurt you or yours if you wear it properly and take it off properly. Remember, wash/sanitize your hands after touching your mask. Wash your mask after use. Simple. It protects you, your family, and others. It helps keep you from getting contaminated, and keeps you from contaminating others.

            2. Agnodike*

              If you’re constantly fiddling with the masks, you raise your risk, because you’re touching your face. So don’t do that. Be careful putting it on and taking it off – if you touch a dirty mask and then touch your face, it’s the same as if the mask wasn’t there at all. There are plenty of guides online about how to wear masks safely. And if everyone collaborates and wears masks when they’re outside, your risk is lower because if they have germs, the mask will help to reduce the risk that those germs will transmit to you.

            3. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Keeping our germs to ourselves means less exponential spread in the community — I don’t live with my fatherinlaw, but I shop at the same market. If I don’t know I’m sick and wear a mask, I don’t expose the cashiers & the stock clerks — who don’t give it to my elderly fatherinlaw, or his home health aide.
              Cloth masks we wear once & wash, think of them like underwear for your nose.

              1. John*

                I can’t justify increasing my immediate family’s risk on the off chance I’m already infected and it will make it to my grandma 500 miles away otherwise. My extended family lives 2 hrs away minimum, mostly more.

                Society is important, but family is more important.

                1. fposte*

                  Though an easy way to fix that is to learn how to properly handle your mask. Or, of course, simply stay home.

                  But the more people, including you, who go out in the community and shed virus, the likelier your grandma 500 miles away is to get the virus.

                2. Ann O.*

                  I’ve read a lot of the pro/con articles about masks. I have never read one that provided evidence for the claim that mask wearing makes it more likely that you’ll be sick. It’s like handwashing…. there’s a little bit of learning to do for optimum use, but basically don’t be an idiot about it. Don’t touch the front of the mask and then touch your face without washing your hands—just like you shouldn’t touch things outside and then touch your face without washing your hands.

                  For optimum use, you want to wash your hands before masking, don’t touch the mask while wearing it, remove the mask from the straps at the back (rather than pulling on the mask at the front), and wash your hands after removal. It’s pretty much common sense, but I did realize I wasn’t always removing the mask from the back before I read instructions explicitly. You don’t need to worry about fit testing–which is a bit more complicated–because these aren’t respirators.

                3. Purt’s Peas*

                  Omg, I’m sorry for starting a bunch of anxiety with my comment above. I am really sorry—I worry that I introduced some new worries/uncertainties in an already uncertain time.

                  From what I read, if you don’t touch your face, and if you keep the mask clean, you are ok on that front and may be less likely to be infected. It seems more certain that wearing a mask will reduce the risk of infecting others.

                  To be clear, I do wear a mask when taking my weekly trip to the grocery store. I also make sure to wash my hands and practice social distancing.

                  Best wishes to you and your family. This is such a difficult time.

                4. Agnodike*

                  If you don’t feel like you can learn to use a mask safely, you can always just stay inside and away from others. Distance is an even more effective infection prevention and control strategy than barriers.

                5. tangerineRose*

                  Just don’t mess with your mask once it’s on. Maybe use a bandana since you might be more likely to mess with it in the back instead of near your face.

          2. Is It Performance Art*

            Yeah, that was an excellent article. It’s one of the few that really emphasizes how little we understand about this virus and how to control it.
            I used to work in infectious disease research and one of the things that the general public tends to underestimate is the potential for cross-contamination. Public Health exports have gotten a lot of pushback (and quite a few insults) for saying that wearing a mask improperly can actually increase contamination and thereby transmission but they’re right. And it only takes one slip-up to contaminate a bunch of stuff; even people who do this every day have a hard time with it, so it’s not as if we can just educate the public and then everyone will use them safely. Because masks have such a small benefit, it’s much more likely that improper use could wipe out that benefit or even lead to more transmission.
            If you’re keeping your mask in your bag, every time you take it out and put it back in that bag when you’re done, you can contaminate everything in the bag and when you touch something in the bag, you’re contaminating you hands again. If you take off your mask, touch the inside and don’t immediately wash your hands, you can contaminate your hands. If you wear a mask, and don’t wash your face immediately and then touch your face, you can contaminate your hands. If you’re like me and masks irritate your skin and so you end up touching your face, including your eyes every 10-15 mn, you’re constantly contaminating your hands. If you pull your mask down so that it’s touching the bottom of your chin and top of your neck, you’re contaminating your neck and if you touch your neck you can contaminate your hands.
            While we’re talking about masks, I feel compelled to remind everyone to keep washing their hands. Hand washing is probably significantly more effective at reducing transmission than wearing masks.

            1. Ann O.*

              While your idea “Because masks have such a small benefit, it’s much more likely that improper use could wipe out that benefit or even lead to more transmission” sounds logical, the published studies that I’ve seen on face mask and SARS and influenza reduction doesn’t support it. Researchers have found benefits to mask use, particularly when coupled with hand hygiene (like we are all supposed to be practicing).

              1. Is It Performance Art*

                I definitely did not express myself clearly. When you have a specific infection control method with a relatively small benefit, implementing it correctly is more important than something that has a clear-cut big benefit. The studies examining masks generally involve using N95 or surgical masks, giving them an adequate supply, telling them to change them regularly, and discarding used masks. If you change that significantly — giving people one mask and telling them to make it last as long as possible, switching to cloth masks, people keeping their masks in bags and taking them out and putting them back in the bag when they’re done, people not washing cloth masks — contamination can wipe out that effect.
                We don’t have any scientific studies on the current CDC recommendations (not shocking because it’s a new virus), but that means we have to draw conclusions from studies that look at surgical masks; there are studies that have found benefits from masks and there are also studies that have not found a benefit from masks. THat’s going to to depend on things like how well designed the study was and how similar the intervention is to our current recommendations.

                1. Curmudgeon in California*

                  It doesn’t take extensive training to handle a cloth mask safely.
                  1. Once you put it on, don’t touch the front
                  2. Remove it by the ear pieces
                  3. Put it in a separate washable bag for washing after use
                  4. Wash you hands after removing it
                  5. Wash the mask bag and used masks at the same time
                  6. Put on a freshly washed mask each time

                  The key to effective mask use, whether disposable or cloth, is to not re-use dirty masks, and wash your hands after removing one.

                  It’s not rocket science, and saying the don’t work is disinformation. Asia has been using masks for years to hinder the spread of airborne transmission of illnesses for years – even cold and flu.

    5. Rebecca*

      I gathered that was for when you would be around other people, like at the grocery store or pharmacy, or at a gas station? I can walk for miles here and not even see another human except in a car driving by from time to time, so I’m not sure what good it would be for me to wear a mask outside. And if I do see someone, and it’s infrequent, we can stand on opposite sides of the road and there’s more than the 6′ recommended buffer. I did look on Amazon for biker dust shields, at least if I have to wear something I want it to be fun.

    6. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      My mom made masks for all of us and sent them to us. I’ll be wearing them to grocery stores etc. I’m not wearing them when I go for a walk, but that’s outside and I cross the street when I see a person coming towards me and I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to keep the 2m distance (it’s funny and aggravating to me how some people immediately veer towards one end of the sidewalk when they see someone coming and some people you can just see are walking in the middle of the path and will stay there no.matter.what.)

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        and some people you can just see are walking in the middle of the path and will stay there no.matter.what.

        I’ve noticed the same thing. People still manage to be inconsiderate jerks even when their lives depend on it.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I plan to fold and secure a scarf when I go grocery shopping tomorrow; there are no masks to be found here. I am severely claustrophobic and I hate wearing masks (when I’ve had to wear them for, say, urgent care visits, my blood pressure went up and it was seriously unpleasant) but if this is what I have to do, I will do it.

      My friend’s husband is completely anti-mask for no reason and they live in NYC. He is usually a jerk so I don’t think it’s discomfort or anxiety, it’s just him being contrary. While she tries to figure out ways to get masks to stay put on their small children. I dislike him intensely, but now he makes me flat out disgusted.

    8. TimeCat*

      I don’t have one so I guess I can try putting a scarf around my face.

      No way my toddler will wear one, though. I can’t get him to keep a hat on. I live in an apartment and mostly take him out for walks. We avoid taking him on errands.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Do a websearch on cartoon masks for toddlers… you know how kids like role playing, these let him be a bear or a bandit

        1. TimeCat*

          He’s only 14 months and so playing pretend doesn’t really work. He just doesn’t have the vocabulary to be reasoned with.

          1. allathian*

            That’s the toughest age. They’re mobile enough that they can pull of items of clothing they don’t want to wear, but as you say, you can’t reason with them yet.

      2. WS*

        That’s a very sensible approach! You know you’re not going to be able to stop a toddler touching things and touching his face, so you keep him out of the way of infection vectors.

    9. Just a PM*

      For anyone looking for an easy no-sew mask, I saw one on using a bandana/handkerchief and hair ties. If you look up @fakerapper in Twitter, the video is pinned to hizzer profile. It seems really easy to do and plus, easily machine washable!

    10. Parenthetically*

      Yeah, so my reading/listening/watching on the subject indicates that this is almost entirely about preventing asymptomatic spreaders rather than protecting the mask-wearer from getting the virus. Even the ad-hoc bandana ones seem to be *fairly* effective, especially since the primary means of spread seems to be through droplets.

      We live in a really quiet neighborhood, so my plan is to make a few masks this weekend — luckily I have a existing stash of elastic, since it’s as rare as hen’s teeth at the moment — and wear them on my once-every-three-weeks trip to the grocery. Not going to wear them while in the garden or on neighborhood walks, since I’ll never come within any kind of distance of anyone in those settings.

    11. Helvetica*

      Considering that they provide very little real protection, I’ve been on the fence. Also, I feel like people get a false sense of security wearing a scarf and forget all about social distancing – I had to dodge so many people at the grocery store yesterday who were wearing scarves but came closer than 6 ft. Like, please, the scarf does not mean we are both now very safe if you come so close!

      1. fposte*

        The advantage is that they can provide people *around* the mask-wearer with some protection–that’s the basis of the recommendation. I figure it’s probably helpful not to push that point, though, since people are probably likelier to wear them if they think they’re protecting themselves.

        1. Helvetica*

          Yeah, sure. I more mean that it doesn’t mean we are 100% safe, so other measures should still be followed concurrently. And from what I’ve seen in my country – not the US – people tend to be more lax when they’re wearing the masks, which they really shouldn’t.

          1. fposte*

            I think it’s probably true here too–it’s certainly true with gloves–and that that’s one reason the recommendation wasn’t immediate. I’m hoping that the move toward recommendation is because it’s on average better when we wear masks despite the risk homeostasis.

          2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            The gloves thing used to drive me crazy when I trained first aid staff. They’d put on gloves to mop up a kid’s nosebleed…and then touch everything in the room. No you do not need to:touch everything in the first aid kit, close the first aid kit, open all the doors, open the file cabinet, dig around for an incident report, dig around in the desk drawer for a pen, with your dirty gloves still on!

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              Ugh. Having worked in a lab, I’ve seen people be total idiots with gloves. To the point of taking mine off and face-palming.

              People need to think of stuff they’ve touch as dirty.

              Waaay back in high school, I was in an honor’s science field trip to a nuclear lab. They taught us about contamination, and how it spread, by having us glove up then work with a sample with UV florescent dye. Then, after we “cleaned up”, they turned on the UV, and we got to see where we goofed up. Very instructive. That lesson stood me in good stead when I started working in a lab.

      2. Anon for this*

        I really don’t think I am ever going to feel secure again, mask or no mask.

        If my governor is telling me I need to wear one when I’m out in public, I need to wear one when I’m out in public.

    12. fposte*

      I’ve also interpreted that as when I’m around people; I don’t anticipate doing it when I’m working in the garden. A grocery store run is about the amount of time I can wear one without fiddling.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      Be great if there actually were any masks to be had.
      They’ve been sold out for a month.

      The earlier recommendations by CDC to not wear masks was so ill-informed. Yes, the mask may not totally prevent you from getting COVID19, but given this is airborne, a mask of any type would help some.

      1. fposte*

        The recommendations I’m seeing aren’t necessarily for surgical masks; just a decent thickness of cloth to keep your droplets to yourself. It’s not a recommendation for the full N95.

      2. Michaele Burris*

        Google Mask4Millions ; they have patterns for making masks with and without nosewire and with/without elastic. My problem is finding fabric (tightly woven cotton). I was traveling and just got out of my 14 day isolation, and all the fabric stores are shuttered. Nevertheless, in a good cause, a way will be found.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Bedsheets would possibly be tightly woven cotton, if you’re the kind of person (like me) who has old bedsheets at the back of the linen closet where, say, the fitted sheet is worn out but the flat sheet or pillowcases are “still good”. This thing is validating entirely too many of my packrat tendencies.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          Walmart has a fabric section, and a fat quarter is enough to make a couple masks. Also, you can cut up old bedsheets and pillowcases.

      3. Courageous cat*

        Agreed, I’m also having a good laugh at how many people have bandanas!!! Why does everyone and their mother seem to own one? I have never owned a bandana in my life.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I use them to keep my hair out of my face on windy days, pollen out of my nose when mowing the lawn, and to keep snow from getting down my neck when using the snow blower. As a teen I went to a Girl Scout horse camp and it was on list of things we had to bring. It was so useful I haven’t been without one since.

          1. Filosofickle*

            I have precisely one bandanna, and I’ve had for…well, it’s been so long I don’t actually know how many year. Several decades. It would have been acquired during my Scouting years! Now it lives in my hiking pack. My BF is amazed at my (and my whole family’s) ability to hang on and reuse things FOREVER.

        2. Generic Name*

          They are great all-purpose tools. I have a lot of them because I work in the field, go camping and hiking. You can use them as a towel, hold your hair back, tie things in a bundle, for first aid, use as a hankie, a pre-filtration step for filtering water, as a rope, etc

        3. Johanna*

          Because fashion! I have leopard print, maroon, pink paisley, etc. I have long hair and they work better than baseball caps when I have to work in the kitchen.

        4. All monkeys are French*

          Not a lot of handkerchief users here, I guess. My husband converted me to them years ago and now I never leave the house without a handkerchief in case of a runny nose, which happens often when I’m chilly.

        5. allathian*

          I have a few. When I was in high school in the late 80s and early 90s, tying your front hair back with a bandana was the height of fashion. The bigger the pouffe you got in front, the cooler you were. This was one of the few times I managed to look cool, because I have thick, straight hair, worked like a charm. If this social isolation goes on for a long time, I might just have to use a bandana in my hair again…

        6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I have a couple dozen. I use them on my head as a kind of sweat band at work, under my hard hat. When I worked in the desert I wore one every day and would get it damp then put in on my head to keep cool. Having a stack of them means a clean one every day, which is a big bonus if you’ve ever had the misfortune of smelling a hard hat sweat band after a few days of wearing it while doing manual labour. Bleeecckkk.

      4. Bubba*

        Hate to say it, but that recommendation was to slow down purchases, to make sure the non-expendable folks got theirs first. Now that we can’t get them anymore, it’s safe to tell us to make useless homemade masks.

        1. WS*

          Not “non-expendable” people, high-risk people. If you’re a nurse bending over a coughing patient, or work in aged care helping a frail elderly person eat, you need that mask. If you can do social distancing and work from home, you don’t. Even the current mask recommendations are to slow the spread by masking asymptomatic but infectious people, not to protect you individually.

        2. Anonymized because the world is a gongshow*

          Yes, the recommendations not to wear or purchase masks absolutely had a lot to do with supply management; that’s not something that was ever concealed. Even now, in a healthcare setting, we’re triaging who gets how many masks and who wears what for what procedure, for the same reason. It’s not about some people being more valuable or important than others, it’s about the simple fact that if all the people who know how to intubate get sick because they’re doing aerosol-generating procedures without N95 masks, there will be nobody to intubate sick people, and those sick people will die. Directing the limited supply of PPE to healthcare workers IS a way that everyone protects themselves, because we need those workers to provide healthcare to people who are sick.

          Homemade masks aren’t useful for direct protection in the way surgical masks or N95s are, but they’re still useful for the community because they decrease the amount of virus circulating. So, if someone sick coughs on your homemade mask directly, it’s probably not going to do much to protect you (although may be better than nothing). But if that sick person is wearing a mask too, you’ll probably be safer than if they weren’t. And, because of how humans are, the more people wear masks, the more people will want to wear masks. When we see our neighbours do something, we’re more likely to want to do it. When we don’t see something frequently, we’re less likely to want to do it. So if you want the people around you to put on a mask, put one on yourself.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Bingo. Cloth masks on two parties reduce the risk for both of them.

    14. Nala*

      I saw someone on YouTube making a mask out of wet wipes. She cut 2 holes for the ears and that’s that. She put on 2 wipes for extra protection. I wonder if those are good protection?

      1. Not A Manager*

        Wet wipes? IANAD, but that sounds… odd? If they are already damp, they have all the issues of damp masks, which we’re not supposed to use. And if they are dampened with some kind of disinfectant, that’s a terrible thing to be putting over your nose and inhaling.

        Am I misunderstanding?

        1. tangerineRose*

          I’m not an expert, but breathing in disinfectant constantly sounds dangerous to me.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        WTF? Wet masks aren’t protection. Wet wipes have chemicals in them that are not great to breathe. The whole idea is… not good.

    15. Chaordic One*

      I went out and bought groceries yesterday and saw a few people wearing bandanas around their faces. They looked like they were going to hold up the stagecoach.

      But seriously, even if they don’t provide any protection for the wearer, they do prevent the spread of droplets from sneezing from someone who might be asymptomatic and not know they have Corona virus. It’s a good thing to do. It’s considerate.

      1. Rebecca*

        I am laughing! Yes, I was watching Gunsmoke and thought – we’re all going to look like we’re about to rob the general store or something! And what about going into stores with facemasks on…um, officer they were wearing a mask! Sighs.

        1. Chaordic One*

          Lots of people are watching Gunsmoke these days. Apparently it’s a thing. Who knew?

        2. tangerineRose*

          LOL, yeah last time I was in a grocery store was a couple of weeks ago, no one was wearing masks, and a few people didn’t worry about being close. I kept thinking of wearing something on my face but was afraid I’d look like a robber. Now I’m sorry I didn’t (but I still seem to be healthy, and I kept my distance as much as I could).

      2. blackcat*

        A friend asked if he should wear is biking balaclava or a bandana by asking “What’s more in fashion, 19th or 21st century bankrobber?

    16. Tris Prior*

      Anyone have suggestions for how to get over an extreme aversion/phobia of having something on my face? Like, I don’t even wrap a winter scarf over my face when it gets really cold out because I feel like I’m suffocating and then I start panicking. Same thing when I tried on my DIY mask (the long sleeve of a holey shirt I was going to throw out, cut off and secured with a big hairclip).

      I worry that I’m going to touch my face more with it on, because I’m going to feel like I can’t breathe and want to rip it off. But I’m going to have to figure this out, our governor is telling us to wear them and, well, things are so crowded in my city that it is impossible to stay 6′ away from people in the grocery store; there just literally isn’t the space.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        I don’t know if I have advice per se, more sympathy. I’m on the spectrum and have some really bad sensory issues, and I really hate having the masks on. I do what I can to reduce the discomfort (I don’t wear my glasses so the fogging doesn’t bother me, I take the mask off in the car) and otherwise just do my best to get through what I gotta do as fast as possible. But this may not be helpful to you and I’m sorry.

        Otherwise, try to do grocery pickup/delivery if possible I guess? :/

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          I made some masks with flannel as the inner layer. Supposedly that helps with the sensory issues. The masks is more cuddly.

      2. WS*

        Don’t wear one and continue to limit your interactions with other. Seriously, if you can’t wear it properly for any reason, it’s going to increase your risk of infection. Keep practicing at home in case you do want to wear one some time, but don’t force the issue.

    17. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I wore one when I went for a 10 minute drive yesterday and I felt suffocated and couldn’t breathe.

      1. JT*

        The non-medical masks are meant for carriers to stop spreading it, so you don’t have to wear one when you are by yourself.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Oh really, I didn’t know that. My husband has been wearing them every time he goes to the grocery store but is not a carrier and I wear them when I step outside. Does that mean everyone who is wearing a mask is carrying it?

          1. Jessen*

            Not necessarily. Because the virus has such a long period where someone can be carrying it but asymptomatic, we’re basically asking people to behave as if they could be carrying it. Just because right now there’s no way to tell between someone who isn’t a carrier, and someone who is but doesn’t have any active symptoms.

          2. Millicent*

            No, it means that you can’t tell if you have covid-19 so the CDC is recommending everyone wear a mask to slow down spreading it. People can have and spread covid-19 without knowing they have it because not all carriers have symptoms.

          3. fhqwhgads*

            Part of the issue is most people have no way of knowing if they’re carriers. Many have been infected and asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms (but know they have it due to being tested due to having direct exposure). We have absolutely no idea how many similar people are walking around with it but have no reason or ability to be tested. Plus the long incubation period means you can have it and be walking around spreading it for 2 weeks before you have the slightest sign of symptoms. The point of wearing the mask is to make sure you don’t unknowingly spread it.

            1. Potatoes gonna potate*

              Ok so if I’ve been home for 3+ weeks and haven’t gone out or been close to anyone who could have it, would that mean that I don’t have it, and don’t need a mask? I’m not trying to split hairs or argue, I’m just a little confused. I’m taking a simplistic approach which is….stay home, avoid people, wash hands/sanitize, and distance myself as much as possible.

              1. fhqwhgads*

                If you go out for any reason that might possibly put you within 3 meters of another human, wear a mask. If you’re staying in, you do not need to wear one.
                If you’ve genuinely been inside for 3+ weeks and have had zero contact with anyone who has been out, then it’s very unlikely you’re a carrier but as soon as you go out, all bets are off. If there are no humans around and you’re not touching anything, your risk is still very low, but it’s still there because technically you could walk through a cloud of where someone coughed 10 minutes ago and have no way of knowing it. So the blanket rule to wear it when you go out is better than trying to decide for yourself if you might be infected and not know it.

                1. Millicent*

                  Yes, this, and you also have to factor in the exposure of anyone who shares your house. So if you have not gone out and been exposed to anyone outside your household, but your significant other has been making trips to the grocery store (even masked), then you could have been exposed to the coronavirus through your significant other.

                  There’s so much we still don’t know about how this transmits, but from what we do know, it is safest to do what the above poster suggested – you don’t need a mask at home when it’s just you and members of your household, but wear a mask when you are out in public and possibly getting within 6 ft of someone else or touching things that many others have touched.

          4. Curmudgeon in California*

            COVID-19 is Schrodingers Virus – you can’t tell if you’re infected until you come down with symptoms, but anyone could be infected and not know it.

            So masks protect everyone by assuming that everyone might be infected, and putting barriers to transmission in place.

            You don’t need a mask if you are by yourself, even in your yard (but it can help if you have allergies.)

            Having washable ones to wear when going out around people is the right way to handle it.

      2. AHA*

        These masks are to prevent carriers from spreading it. They aren’t meant to protect the wearer. So you don’t have to wear one when alone.

    18. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My only problem is I don’t have any masks, and while I have the pieces to make some cloth masks I have also would have to modify the patterns, move a bunch of stuff to get to the sewing machine…. Honestly, I’m not going anywhere for a while. Went to the grocery store yesterday, so will hopefully be good for 2 weeks or so. Next time I go anywhere, I will find something to use if I haven’t made any. I do not plan to wear a mask if I’m doing yardwork (unless I’d wear one normally, ie dust control), because it’s my yard, and random people should not be wandering around my yard anyway.

      I do think it’s wise however. And some discomfort is worth it – we’re already crashing the economy to try to deal with the pandemic, wearing a mask of some sort isn’t that big a deal in comparison. You do not have to like it after all! I’m sure I’ll be annoyed and irritated wearing a mask to the grocery store, but I’ll do it.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Update: I found some masks! Forgot I had them – they’re dust masks that I bought a couple years ago for when I’m mowing the lawn when it’s dry. Which is funny because I mentioned that circumstance in my comment earlier, but I thought I’d used them up last year. Apparently not. I figure they’re probably just as effective as the simple cloth masks, and I already have them. So, problem solved.

    19. Ann O.*

      I am ecstatic about it. It makes so much sense to use universal masking as a tool to contain respiratory droplets. I don’t think anyone should get a false sense of safety about how much personal protection they’ll get from it.

      I think it would be good for there to be some public health campaigns on how to wear masks optimally. I don’t think they’re useful for outdoor activities if people expect to do a lot of water drinking, or possibly people just need to bring hand sanitizer or multiple masks.

      I’ve only worn mine for short walks and grocery shopping where I do not need to eat or drink anything, so this hasn’t come up for me.

    20. Anon Anon*

      I’m on the fence about masks. Hate crimes against Asians are up though I personally have not been harassed, assaulted, or targeted. As an Asian woman, I already stand out in the crowd. I’m cautious and vigilant when out in public. As an Asian woman with a mask on, will I be targeted for harassment because someone believes I have COVID-19?

      1. Maya Elena*

        That makes it all the more important to normalize wearing them! That way it’s not “Asian wearing a mask” or “sick person wearing a mask”, it’s just everyone.

    21. Elizabeth West*

      I found a link to a disposable shop towel mask tutorial in a WaPo article. I tried it. It’s NOT a substitute for social distancing! But if you want to cover your face and if you have or can get shop towels, it works pretty well. I made two for me and two for my mum, who wants to make one more trip to the grocery next week.

      This is not perfect, but it’s better than nothing. I found the towels at the auto parts store, where they had blocked off the aisles so you couldn’t go in and were social distancing like mad. Everyone at Walmart was too. It was amazing.

      I’m linking my tweet thread since the YouTube link is in the first tweet, and I added some tips I figured out while making them. I got the pink Swingline at Walmart; hey, I needed a new stapler anyway. ;)


    22. Mmmmm*

      I’ve been wearing them for a month now, but I used to live in Japan where they are normal during cold and flu season.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        … in Japan where they are normal during cold and flu season.


        They are normal during cold and flu season because they reduce the spread of viruses transmitted by droplets and aerosols!

    23. Generic Name*

      Honestly, it makes me really frustrated. A month (?) ago, the CDC was telling people to stop buying them and the “worried well” didn’t need to wear masks. Maybe if as a culture it was more normalized to wear masks in public as it is in Asian countries we would be in a better situation. So now there are no masks to be had, for anyone, let alone medical personnel, so we are being told to use t-shirts and bandanas. I feel like I’m living in a post apocalyptic novel that I don’t want to even be reading.

      1. Masked Bandit*

        I’m with you. Three weeks ago, the discourse was all about how we should be saving masks for medical professionals and now we’re all irresponsible for not wearing one, when there isn’t one to be had. Worst of all, there’s a very Orwellian undercurrent to it, like “of course you should be wearing a mask when you leave the house, why wouldn’t you?”

        1. Generic Name*

          OMG! That’s it! It’s not just conflicting information from different sources, there’s conflicting information from the same source, it just depends when you get the info. Argh

          1. Masked Bandit*

            Yes! And it’s the lack of acknowledgment that the recommendation has changed that really gets me. Of course I’ll do it if it is the recommended action, don’t shame me for not following an order when it wasn’t the order until recently.

      2. Venus*

        Worried well still don’t get value from wearing a mask. The worried well get benefit if someone sick or asymptomatic wears a mask. There is a good thread explaining this above.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          But if you’ve gone out anywhere in the last two weeks, you don’t know if you’re “worried well” or “asymptomatic sick”.

          Masks protect the worried well from the asymptomatic sick.

    24. Diahann Carroll*

      I’m good with this recommendation. My mom and I ordered supplies to make them (e.g., fabric, sewing machine, elastic) and she’ll be sewing our whole family some soon. In the meantime, I use my eye masks to cover my nose and mouth when I go to get my mail/packages from my apartment building’s lobby or dump my trash down the shoot (I also wear latex, disposable gloves when doing these tasks and then wash my hands after). I probably look like a crazy person, but I’ve been feeling “off” for almost a week with an intermittent cough and intermittent tightness at the top of my chest, so I’m not sure if I have the virus or if it’s just my allergies acting up – I’ll risk looking like a nut to protect others if it’s the former.

    25. Emily*

      I would consider wearing one, but I don’t own any and don’t have good fabric for making one (I’ve heard that tightly woven cotton or tea towels are the best). So currently no mask for me, although I might take a more thorough look through my closet and dresser in case I have something suitable that I can repurpose.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Old bedsheets work. The good ones have a high thread count, and are already softened. T-shirts can be used, but knits don’t do as well as wovens.

    26. Overeducated*

      I’m honestly a bit confused and apprehensive about when to wear them. “In public” is vague, especially for us apartment dwellers. I wore a bandana for produce pick up yesterday and will do the same for grocery shopping. Contact with others and enclosed spaces = clear. But what about solo walks and runs in my neighborhood, where I’m passing others at more than a 6 foot distance? What about walks with my kid, who’s going to throw a fit and refuse to leave the apartment ever again if we make it contingent on mask wearing? (Since we stopped going to playgrounds it’s a struggle to get out already, but it’s not good for any of us to be sedentary 100% of the time, and our stay at home order is until June 10.) What about the apartment courtyard we use to play, which is shared but generally empty except for one other family, whom we’re avoiding? What about the recommendation to wash between uses, when i am trying to limit use of the shared laundry room to 1-2x a week due to exposure risk? (Please believe that I seriously don’t have time to hand wash them daily, I’m trying to keep my head above water without a dishwasher and laundry.) I have a lot of questions and am just afraid it’s going to be really hard to do this right for months the way my life is now structured.

      1. WS*

        You should wear them when you’re going to unavoidably be around other people. You’re doing it correctly!

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        You can hand wash cloth masks in warm soapy water, rinse, and hang to dry.

    27. Christina*

      I’ll be honest, the mask-wearing is the thing that has given me the most anxiety, and not for any particular health reason – for me, it’s the ability (or lack thereof) to see other people’s faces and expressions.

      I didn’t know how anxious I would be about not being able to see facial expressions, to smile at someone or see someone smile at me when I’m just out for a walk, which at least gives me a moment of peace. I saw a woman yesterday with a dark mask over her nose and mouth and huge dark sunglasses, and it made so anxious.

    28. Voluptuousfire*

      I’m all for it. I don’t have a mask, so I wear a scarf I can breathe through easily when I have to go to the store. I’m in NYC and my elderly dad was in hospital and is in rehab in a nursing home, so I’ve only been out for groceries and dropping off his clothes.

    29. Person from the Resume*

      I wore a winter weather neck gaiter to the store Saturday. Fail! Kept touching it to adjust it over the nose but not too close to the eyes and was too hot by the end of shopping.

      Ordered a mask online, but will go out to stores without one before it arrives.

    30. RagingADHD*

      I’ve been participating in a local mask-sewing drive. The group has donated about 15k masks for healthcare workers & first-responders.

      But as they are growing, they’re moving more toward standardization & production-style sewing. The group system is starting to involve a lot of driving around and pickup/dropoff of materials at different places. I just don’t want to be out that much interacting with people.

      Instead, I’ve been using up my fabric stash & handing them out to neighbors & essential workers (pharmacy, local grocery, the postman, etc).

      What really drives me crazy is the folks on my FB feed posting “helpful” suggestions about which stores have this or that optimal materials for masks, filters, etc. They are driving around town to different stores, browsing & shopping.

      They don’t seem to realize that the 4 walls of their house are a much better barrier than whatever “perfect” type of shop towels or interfacing they heard about. They are not essential workers, they have all the time in the world to shop and bicker on social media.

      Stay home FCOL! The whole point of masks is for when people MUST go out. It’s not supposed to be a hobby.

      That, and the people looking for dog groomers who are still open because Fluffy needs a comb-out. Gawdhelpus.

    31. Anonnington*

      I’ve been wearing a bandana. When I had to go grocery shopping, I wore a surgical mask under it. I was struck by how hot it was and how much it constricted my breathing. Here in the city, where walking everywhere is the norm, it’ll get harder to wear face coverings in the summer. And people will want to be outside because not everyone can afford AC (or at least to run it all the time). I foresee that being a problem.

      Anyway, I am staying in as much as possible. I’m trying to teach my dog to do his business in our little courtyard and exercise with me indoors instead of going for walks. He hates it. But it’s better for him than if his one human were to die or fall gravely ill. We’re down to one short walk a day. I didn’t wear a face covering today. I just avoided people. And I stocked up on food. No more risking my life to get groceries for a while.

  10. Bananahammock*

    Fello glasses wearing humans! With the latest recommendation to wear face masks in public, is there any way around masks making glasses foggy when breathing? I’ve sometimes had to remove my glasses in public but it leaves me unable to see barely anything.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      If you can find them – basic yard work masks do not fog up my glasses. I just realized I’m wearing much bigger frames than I used to, so that may make a difference.

      If you’re using a scarf or bandana, try having it tighter or looser?

      Some people swear by certain wipes or treatments.

    2. Adara*

      Taping the mask to the bridge of the nose helped me when I wore glasses and had to wear a surgical mask at work. I used the cloth surgical tape and it sealed the top of the mask enough so my glasses wouldn’t fog.

    3. Legally a Vacuum*

      Copy pasted from above:

      Try washing your glasses with soapy water and then air drying them before putting on your mask.

      Alternatively, try sliding a Kleenex tissue between the top of the mask and your nose to absorb some of the moisture that you exhale

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        I’ve only done it for scuba diving, but baby shampoo (yellow bottle) is what we use to defog our masks -or spit (but I’m guessing that’s gonna be a no).

        1. Legally a Vacuum*

          Yeah- baby shampoo would work the same way- a thin layer of surfactant that keeps the glasses/goggles from fogging.

    4. Julia*

      I had this issue with masks and safety goggles at work. It gets much better when the mask fits tightly, and you can also fold the upper part inwards.

    5. Llellayena*

      If you can find/make a mask with the flexible metal nosepiece, shaping the top of the mask around the bridge of your nose should help. The glasses fog when there’s a gap at your upper cheek, the nosepiece pushes the fabric against your skin so there’s no gap.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        I had one like this when I went to the doctor’s office and it didn’t fog my glasses at all.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        I wear a mask with a flexible nose piece squished as tightly as I can make it, and my glasses still fog. Argggh!

    6. Retail not Retail*

      I was wrong oh lord was i wrong – the dust mask got HUMID. Try weedeating with foggy glasses. Still better than no mask, we’re cutting close and things are flying.

    7. Wander*

      If you can get it tighter around your nose/upper face and looser around your lower face, that usually helps. Also, if you’re mostly keeping your head in one spot, try moving it around; sometimes I’ll notice a particular position makes my glasses fog up, but if I tilt my head in another direction, it’ll clear up. (I don’t know how applicable that part actually is in day to day life; I wear masks at work, where keeping your head in one spot for a long time is common.) Also! If you’re getting hot for whatever reason, take a moment to cool off if you can.

      I know a couple people who swear by using alcohols pads to clean your glasses first too. That hasn’t worked particularly well in my experience, but I’m guessing it depends on what kind of glazes you have on your lenses.

  11. Princess Zelda*

    I suspect I’m hardly the only person doing a deep-clean of my entire apartment. What has everyone been doing and what tips & tricks do you have?

    I completely reorganized my bookshelf/movie shelf and rearranged my bedroom. I moved my bench from being a makeshift coffee table in the living room to housing my plushie collection, and my room looks so much nicer! I also hung up white Christmas lights around my room, and using those as my primary light is so much easier on my eyes than a lamp.

    1. Drtheliz*

      For me ’tis the season – Pesach starts next week. I’m working full-time (and so is my non Jewish spouse) so squeezing it in has been a challenge.

      Tips: one room at a time. Get something for your ears! In years gone by (when I was cleaning in my parents’ house) I got through a cassette tape book on eight tape sides. Do the floor last. Similarly, in the kitchen, you’ll want to go surfaces, dish cupboards, food cupboards, oven/stove, surfaces again, floor. For ease of doing it again later, putting a sheet of something (greaseproof paper, newspaper) on the bottom on food cupboards can keep them much cleaner – I have a coaster under the cooking oil. I also have some aluminium foil on the bottom of the oven.

      I’m proud of my “responsible shop” on Thursday – cycled to the Kosher emporium for matzos etc. 35 mile round trip (!)

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        My partner is puttering around and getting to some home improvement stuff that we’ve had supplies for but just never got done. FINALLY getting knobs on the cabinets. 10/10 I try to open the door from the wrong side. Every.Single.Time.

      2. 'Tis Me*

        My non-Jewish husband has been making sure we’re well stocked (recovering from surgery, can’t drive for another 3.5 weeks or so). We have loads of noodles and pasta…

        I might do passover as “no bread” this year, rather than strictly avoid the 5 grains.

        1. Drtheliz*

          Remember, your health is the most important thing – honouring the festival by not eating bread sounds like much the safest option!

          1. 'Tis Me*

            I think it’s probably the most sensible option… It’s just weighing that against “this is the first year the eldest would actually be able to understand” and “my mum will probably be disappointed I’m not making more of an effort” – but especially with the husband having an operation himself on Tuesday and being back at work on Thursday, it’s just not feasible when I can’t get to the shops myself to label-check and I guess my mum will have to accept that.

            (My sister did an online order so she could do Seder with her housemates and got the dates wrong and placed it for a week too early. Mum feels bad because there’s a small chance her potatoes might sprout by Wednesday and then won’t truly be kosher for Passover… Her frames of reference are a bit different!)

              1. 'Tis Me*

                That thing where some people interpret sprouting as being similar to fermentation and therefore Not OK, I think? Even though you can get certified kosher for Passover cheese, yoghurt, wine…

                1. Observer*

                  No. Fermentation can be a conversation, but sprouting and fermentation have zero to do with each other.

                2. 'Tis Me*

                  Observer, I know they’re completely different processes, but in the same way that one makes some foods no longer kosher for Passover (while still being safe to eat etc), so does the other.

      3. CC*

        If you have a gas oven, do not put anything on the bottom of your oven – you can get carbon monoxide poisoning. Thankfully, my neighbor found that out when her carbon monoxide detector went off & not when someone found her dead.

        There is small writing on the oven that says not to put anything on the bottom if this applies. Make sure you follow the instructions if it does!

    2. Ranon*

      I did/ am doing my mini blinds! Gear ties to hang them parallel to my shower rod, degreaser for the kitchen ones, dish soap for the non kitchen ones, lots of scrubbing and a few dips in the tub. They’re so clean and pretty now!

    3. Anonydoglover*

      I’ve cleaned my baseboards, along with everything else in my apartment. Tip: if you clean your baseboards with dryer sheets, the dust doesn’t come back as quickly.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Unfuck Your Habitat has lots of lists for comprehensive room-by-room cleaning. I find stuff like that so helpful, because I’ll inevitably forget, say, to dust the tops of picture frames, or to move couch cushions and vacuum under them.

    5. Jdc*

      I cleaned to the extent of moving appliances and furniture. It finally warmed up last week so I power washed my deck. We have a BIG deck. I could barely use my arms for days from the vibrating of the power washer. Ha.

      Detailed both cars and today we are getting some plants in the ground.

      Husband is coping by learning and building a hydroponic unit for our veggies. It always amazes me how intelligent he is. If he wants do learn something he just figures it out. There is never a hurdle for him. He can just truly take in information and immediately apply it like no one I’ve ever seen before. Probably why he has two masters degrees.

    6. Ali G*

      Hoping to clean up and organize our screened in patio this weekend so we have another place to hang out (it’s amazing how small your place becomes when you don’t go anywhere!). We never properly cleaned it last year because we had renovations going on, so it’s going to be a big chore.

    7. RC Rascal*

      My old cleaning lady recommended scrubbing the kitchen sink at least weekly w Soft Scrub w Bleach. She said the kitchen sink is the germiest place in the house & it helps prevent illness transmission between family members.

      She was good. I would believe her.

    8. Jaid*

      I finally got stick on spatter guards for the wall around my oven, to make it easier to wipe off oil droplets, etc. It’s made using aluminum foil and has a blue tile pattern on it.

    9. Trixie*

      Same here. I’ve never deep-cleaned very often, it’s a rental and will need a complete overhaul/renovation when I move out. But I’m really seeing the buildup and tackling small sections at a time. (Moldings, floors, and such.)
      The biggest change is experimenting with moving items around for new configurations. Metal shelves in my small kitchen, creating more storage while freeing up counter space. Trying new setup in the living room, looking at using as my yoga/exercise space.
      Biggest easy win is putting up artwork, immediate impact. And plants.

    10. OTGW*

      I re-arranged my room like…. a week before my state issued a shelter-in-place order, when my uni was on spring break. Made a space for my board games, and moved my stuffed animals to the foot of my bed so when my bf is over, he’s not kicking anything breakable.

      So I’ve been helping my mom cleaning and re-organizing. I made her get rid of a lot of books (4 boxes! huzzah!) and I have a feeling we’re gonna be painting a wall this week. We haven’t deep cleaned anything, but the fridge is gonna get cleaned this week too.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t do a super deep clean here, because I’m not in my own space, and this one is full of stuff. It’s frustrating. I wish I was already in my own apartment, where I can control everything!

  12. Marina Marina Marina*

    I’m thinking of starting calligraphy. There are plenty of resources online and frankly, I’m a bit overwhelmed by them. I’m looking for a starter kit that doesn’t entail much. I’m in an area where getting anything from amazon is pretty pricey so I’m hoping to be able to stock up from the local offer. I’ve been bullet journaling for years and want to take that to the next level. I also have in mind a few wall art ideas that nerd calligraphy skills. What kind of pen, ink and paper should I be looking for? Which book/website is the best for a beginner (with
    really mediocre penmanship)?
    I want to be able to practice the basics before I apply my new skills to any of my projects.

    1. Koala dreams*

      In school we practiced calligraphy with black watercolor and these old calligraphy pens. You’ll need a brush to get it wet, though, so I guess ink would be cheaper to start with. (It was art class, so we used watercolor for paintings too.) I’m curious of the answers to your questions! Please share after you’ve started. Good luck!

    2. Lcsa99*

      I would actually not start with something that uses a paint brush, because I think that’s more difficult. I started with pens that had different ink cartridges and different sized nibs and I think that’s a little easier because it does some of the work for you – you don’t have to change the pressure or anything, just hold it in one position. I will post a link from amazon in a reply so you can see what I mean even if that particular one is too pricey for you.

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      Brush lettering is easier (IMO) than calligraphy and the markers come in so many pretty colors. You need soft tip markers/brush markers.

      There are a ton of tutorials and printable worksheets to practice letters and then eventually words. Doesn’t matter who or what you choose, just pick one and print. You could also purchase a workbook but those are more expensive. Once you have the basic motions down then I would use heavier paper for the type of ink (watercolor/heavy drawing/mixed media/cardstock) and project.

      You could get a standard calligraphy pen with a few sizes of nibs (tips) and some ink. I have two types, a dipping style and a fillable barrel (so it’s more like a fountain pen. I’m left handed so it’s trickier for me and there aren’t a lot of resources/tutorials for us. But it’s not impossible to learn on your own! Best of luck :))

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      You can start with a calligraphy felt tip pen. The difference from a regular felt tip pen is the shape of the tip. This isn’t intended for serious use, but is a good (and cheap) way to dip your toe in the water.

    5. Jess*

      If you want to do calligraphy with an actual nib, my main advice would be to try several to figure out what you’re most comfortable with. A less flexible nib, where the tines don’t split as much, is easier to control for most people when starting out. I like the Nikko G for that reason. If you can get a variety pack of nibs that’s a really good way to try it out, I got the Copperplate sampler on Paper and Ink Arts’ website. Paper definitely makes a big difference. There are special pads with guidelines, otherwise I use 32 lb laser jet. The viscosity of the ink will also impact how it writes on different papers. For good tutorials and downloads, I like The Postman’s Knock. One other piece of advice (that I’m bad at following myself!) is don’t worry about writing words or even letters right away. Learn all of the shapes that make up the letters and do a ton of practice with those before trying to put it together into words. That way you’ll build more consistency and muscle memory. Tracing helps a lot with that.

    6. Chaordic One*

      Maybe consider buying a lower-priced set of pens from a craft shop such as Michaels or JOANN. Both stores almost always have 40% off coupons in the newspaper sales sheets and on their websites for one full-priced item purchased in the store.

    7. Claritza*

      Learning calligraphy is a great idea! It takes concentration (keeps your mind off of you know what) and is very rewarding. Your handwriting quality need not matter.

    8. Liane*

      I don’t know if you are left handed but in case you are–or someone else interested is–if you are using ANY type of pen, be sure to get OBLIQUE tips. Unless you want your hands and paper covered with smears.
      Both oblique nibs (for dip or fountain pens) and oblique felt tip pens exist, as well as kits meant for lefties–but they can be hard to find.

  13. anon24*

    Last night I had my computer sitting in a place other than my desk, and got wrapped up in a game for longer than I planned to. I think I must have been leaning my arm in an awkward position and I was super focused on my game, because when I finally decided it was time for bed I realized that my pinky, ring finger, and half my hand were numb and tingly. I thought it was just asleep, but here we are 5 hours later and it’s not getting any better. I’m assuming I pinched a nerve or something, because I have good blood flow to my fingers. This has never happened before. For obvious reasons I don’t want to go to urgent care, and I think that might be an overreaction anyway. Does anyone have any advice on treating this? It’s my dominant hand, so very uncomfortable.

    1. misspiggy*

      Try putting something cold on it at regular intervals – ice pack or a packet of frozen peas.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      If you want a Google search, it’s the ulnar nerve that you’re dealing with. I find massaging around my funny bone can help – the nerve goes through a passage there, and a hot shower or bath to relax my muscles.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        The other common place to compress your ulnar nerve is at the wrist. You can look up Guyon’s canal to see that location. If you have some feeling in the affected fingers and you can move them, probably the nerve is still intact, just irritated and needs time to recover. If you do not have any feeling and/or movement, it’s a bigger deal. I am an actual doctor, but can’t substitute for your own doctor if you’re worried.

    3. Legally a Vacuum*

      It sounds odd, but shaking my entire arm like I’m trying to flick water off it helps me.

    4. Julco*

      I agree with AcademiaNut. It’s probably the ulnar nerve. I need a pillow under my right elbow, to reduce the pressure on my bent elbow, when I sit in my rocking chair to crochet or watch tv. And I use a compression sleeve over my elbow when it gets too bad. A couple of hours with the sleeve usually works wonders and helps me remember not to lean on it.

    5. fposte*

      Agreeing that it sounds like pressure on a nerve and that the ulnar nerve is a good possibility. FWIW, nerves often take a while to settle down, so I wouldn’t worry if it doesn’t go away for a bit, especially if you can’t help but put some pressure on it. Definitely use a cushion, or they also make things that are basically padded socks for the elbow for this, which you could probably make an equivalent of at home if you have anything squishy lying around. (An actual sock would be too tight for me but a t-shirt sleeve with a sock around the elbow would probably work.)

      1. anon24*

        Thanks for the reassurance fposte. I’m used to frequent injuries because I’m a klutz, but nerve pain is something new. I probably had pressure on it for a good 4 hours – I totally zone out when I get into gaming. I should not have been sitting where I was but it was a new game and I only meant to play for 20 minutes or so – I need to stop doing that. It’s been almost 12 hours and it’s not better. It’s driving me crazy and also completely freaking me out, I keep imagining the worst and I really don’t want to have to get medical treatment right now. I’m going to wrap it and try not to use it as much as possible.

        1. Reba*

          I once had an ulnar nerve thing from a car accident. IIRC it appeared 6 or 8 hours after the actual impact, my arm got a little swollen, and it went away slowly over maybe a day. Rest and massage sound good.

          It is truly freaky! Bodies are so weird.

          I also have the thing where I get into whatever it is I’m doing, usually a book, and then stay in a totally bizarre posture for hours, and then my back regrets it. Solidarity.

    6. AceInPlainSight*

      I’ve done this before, and it totally freaked me out! The pins and needles lasted for about a week, so I went to urgent care, and their advice was to keep it straight as much as possible and consider bracing it somehow while I slept, to keep it straight at night. It was scary, but not a big deal, and there’s not much urgent care can do if you go.

    7. Book Lover*

      Your primary care doctor is likely doing telemedicine right now. So you could call for a video or phone appointment.

    8. Penny Parker*

      As a massage practitioner, I would suggest working on the muscles which are involved with the nerve. Goggle Myofascial pain and the ulnar nerve. Some sites will show you how to massage the area which will help the pain go away.

    9. KoiFeeder*

      Your ulnar nerve is throwing a tantrum; it happens to me all the time. Ice it and make sure to keep that arm straight (that part may only apply to me and my EDS joints) until it stops tingling.

    10. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

      Yeah, that is probably the ulnar nerve that has been blocked too long.

      I had that a couple of years ago (5 or 6 years back), after sitting behind my desk and resting my elbow on my desk while my head was resting in my hand as I watched a film on my computer. It got better without an operation but I had to rest my arm/elbow for quite a long time (and put a lot of cold packs on it). It scared me a bit because it did take some time before the numb feeling went away, I even went to an orthopedic specialist and he said that if the rest didn’t help, an operation was the next option. It took about 3 months for me. Good thing for me is that it wasn’t my dominant hand, so I have no idea how your situation will evolve. But I was surprised at how much I use(d) my non-dominant hand/arm in every day life. I had to put it in a sling just to remind me not to use it and let it rest (not in a 90 degree angle btw, that’s not advised either) The sling did give me the added bonus of putting a frozen/cold gel pack in it so my elbow.

      While I kept my hand-function (thank God, playing the piano, the guitar and the recorder are my hobby’s!), if i slide something softly on the skin of those two fingers, it still feels a bit weird. Like, as a child and I was doing arts and crafts and your fingers get a bit covered by a glue stick, that is how it feels. So it is like I got 99% of total function back.

      Since then, I do focus on my posture. Definitely when I am behind my desk.

      But rest, rest, rest and cold packs, cold packs, cold packs.

    11. Spessartine*

      Something very similar happened to me last year. I fell asleep with my arm bent under my head and woke up with a numb, tingly hand–the exact same affected areas as yours. It progressed to mostly just numb over the next few weeks, sometimes even painfully so. I kept waiting for it to get better and it just…didn’t. I ended up getting a 122° arm brace off Amazon that I wore pretty religiously except at work (work with my hands, needed to bend the elbow). I even slept with it on! It wasn’t super comfortable and it took a while but eventually all normal feeling returned. I haven’t had an issue since. I hope yours improves on its own though!

    12. Kuododi*

      Standard disclaimer… this is not medical advice. I’ve had problems in the past with my feet and ankles going pins and needles. My integrative endocrinologist at the time recommended a strong sports gel such as Blue Ice. He recommended I take a small amount of the gel and rub a strip of the product around the affected limb just above the pins/needles sensation. This took place some years ago. I do remember it was extremely helpful to break up the sensation in my feet and ankles, with no real side effects. Best regards and I hope this is resolved quickly.

    13. CastIrony*

      I have arthritis in this area. My tips:

      -Never, ever crochet. It will hurt more.
      -If you want a small wrist brace, the ones at Dollar Tree help somewhat.
      -Put some Icy Hot or Vaporub in a pinch, but do not wear a brace while wearing it.
      -When I went to physical therapy, the doctor guy scraped my arm in that area with this plastic thing, and it was supposed to help the nerve respond. I am not sure on its success.
      -The ulnar nerve goes all the way to your elbow crease. As the pain progresses, wearing an elbow brace may help.
      – Using that phone feature where you drag your finger on the phone’s keyboard to text instead of texting normally will help reduce strain.

      These are my tips and experiences, and it shouldn’t be taken more seriously than a home remedy. It can really hurt, so I hope you get better soon! I apologize for the long post! :)

  14. Blueberry*

    April is National Poetry Month in the US! I used to print up little cards with poems and give them out but obviously that won’t be feasible this year. I may just mail poem-cards to my holiday card list recipients. Is anyone else planning anything for this poetic month?

    also, here’s a poem.

    When I Have Passed Away

    When I have passed away and am forgotten,
    And no one living can recall my face,
    When under alien sod my bones lie rotten
    With not a tree or stone to mark the place;

    Perchance a pensive youth, with passion burning,
    For olden verse that smacks of love and wine,
    The musty pages of old volumes turning,
    May light upon a little song of mine,

    And he may softly hum the tune and wonder
    Who wrote the verses in the long ago;
    Or he may sit him down awhile to ponder
    Upon the simple words that touch him so.

    — Claude McKay

    1. Penny Parker*

      I absolutely love Claude McKay! He spoke out about violence against people of color back during the post-WWI racial riots when so many were getting lynched. He wrote a lot about death because so many people of color were being murdered. My favorite of his:

      If We Must Die
      By Claude McKay
      If we must die, let it not be like hogs
      Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
      While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
      Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
      If we must die, O let us nobly die,
      So that our precious blood may not be shed
      In vain; then even the monsters we defy
      Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
      O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
      Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
      And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
      What though before us lies the open grave?
      Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
      Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

      1. Blueberry*

        Oh my goodness, yes. Your posting this brought back memeories of when I was 16 and read his poetry for the first time, tears streaming down my face.

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        Thank you for posting this. I will look for more of his work.

        Why people have to treat others badly is a question that arises century after century. I wish it were otherwise.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Here is one by Ogden Nash.

      The Termite
      Some primal termite knocked on wood
      And tasted it, and found it good!
      And that is why your Cousin May
      Fell through the parlor floor today.

    3. Pam*

      One of my favorites, by Siegfried Sassoon.

      Falling Asleep
      Voices moving about in the quiet house:
      Thud of feet and a muffled shutting of doors:
      Everyone yawning. Only the clocks are alert.

      Out in the night there’s autumn-smelling gloom
      Crowded with whispering trees; across the park
      A hollow cry of hounds like lonely bells:
      And I know that the clouds are moving across the moon;
      The low, red, rising moon. Now herons call
      And wrangle by their pool; and hooting owls
      Sail from the wood above pale stooks of oats.

      Waiting for sleep, I drift from thoughts like these;
      And where to-day was dream-like, build my dreams.
      Music… there was a bright white room below,
      And someone singing a song about a soldier,
      One hour, two hours ago: and soon the song
      Will be ‘last night’: but now the beauty swings
      Across my brain, ghost of remembered chords
      Which still can make such radiance in my dream
      That I can watch the marching of my soldiers,
      And count their faces; faces; sunlit faces.

      Falling asleep… the herons, and the hounds….
      September in the darkness; and the world
      I’ve known; all fading past me into peace.

    4. Jedi Squirrel*

      One of my favorites, from Christina Rosetti:

      When I am dead, my dearest,
      Sing no sad songs for me;
      Plant thou no roses at my head,
      Nor shady cypress tree:
      Be the green grass above me
      With showers and dewdrops wet;
      And if thou wilt, remember,
      And if thou wilt, forget…

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Edna St. Vincent Millay – 1892-1950

      The railroad track is miles away,
      And the day is loud with voices speaking,
      Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
      But I hear its whistle shrieking.

      All night there isn’t a train goes by,
      Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
      But I see its cinders red on the sky,
      And hear its engine steaming.

      My heart is warm with the friends I make,
      And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
      Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
      No matter where it’s going.

  15. Teatime is Goodtime*

    Cat help please!
    What reasons have your cats had for peeing next to the box rather than in it? My cat has been semi-irregularly doing this, and I’m running out of ideas and thinks to try.
    Also: how long does it take feliway to kick in?
    Thank you for any help!

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      I don’t know… but we got a small waterproof doormat which was machine washable to go under the lutter tray.

    2. Joie De Vivre*

      I don’t have an answer to your question, just a tip.

      One of my cats likes to “aim high”, so the pee leaks down the outside of the hooded litter box Puppy pees pads have been a life saver.

      1. AnonyNurse*

        Yes! I thought my cat was going right next to the box but it turned out it was her (yes, her) shooting over the box. Started around the time her kidney disease really ramped up and the volume of urine she now produces is … insane. I think it doesn’t absorb into the litter fast enough when she pees a lot, thus her trying to get it away from her. I use puppy pee pads, one under the box and one taped to the bath tub. Then I push the box up against the tub, and voila! I no longer mop the bathroom floor multiple times a day. It’s absurd but it works. And my kitty, who is old enough to vote (in the US) this year, can have whatever she wants. As long as she’s happy, I’m happy.

    3. Joie De Vivre*

      Feliway doesn’t work for all cats.

      I’ve used Feliway, and it took about a month to really notice a difference. Then I couldn’t find it and had to switch to Comfort Zone. Which also works for my cats – however I found they aren’t interchangeable. If I switch products, then 30 days to work (for my cats) starts over.

      They work well enough on my cats now, that if a dispenser runs out and I don’t catch it, I can tell by my cats behavior.

      Good luck.

    4. CoffeeforLife*

      A few reasons:
      *Litter box isn’t clean (enough). Scoop more frequently, change litter, wash physical box
      *cat doesn’t like type of litter
      *some household change the cat doesn’t like (new pet, new person, rearranged furniture, changed litter location or you need to change litter location)
      *bad littler location. Maybe it’s too loud or not enough privacy

    5. cat socks*

      Have you had a vet appointment to rule out any medical issues?

      Is there a chance the sides of the box are too high for kitty to get in and out?

      Any other changes to the environment that might be causing stress? New litter, change in food, outdoor cats, other pets in the household?

      Also, I’ve never really had luck with Feliway. If a trip to the vet rules out any medical issues it could be a psychological issue. One of my cats is on a low level of paroxetine. There are also “calming” foods for cats that your vet can prescribe. CBD oil is another option.

    6. puffle*

      For my cat it turned out she had cystitis and was trying to get my attention to say, “hey, something’s wrong here, I need some help!”. Once she was on medication she stopped doing it.

      Feliway never seemed to have any effect on her, so I gave up. Unfortunately I don’t have any alternatives to suggest- my cat calmed down when her cystitis cleared up and is now fairly chilled 90% of the time (the 10% is zoomies and meal times)

    7. Wander*

      Have you gotten your cat checked for a UTI? Peeing outside the box can be a pretty big sign of that. Alternately, like others have suggested, the box isn’t clean enough for their liking.

      I never had luck with Feliway, so I can’t say for that, but I will say the litter Cat Attract worked miracles for my (not sick, just super, super picky) cat. I just use the main version, not one of the subsets (I know they have like kitten and outdoor and others), and it’s the only thing she’ll use.

      1. StellaBella*

        Agree on this. She may need a urinary check for crystals. My cat needs urinary tract food as we have too much calcium here in the water. Once 5 years ago this was sorted she is fine now.

        Box needs to be cleaned at least scooped once a day. Also the box may need to be larger too. I use a normal cat box in one place plus a large plastic box with 4inch high sides that is 20 inches long by 14 wide too.

        Also change water daily and give more wet food to encourage more peeing to avoid uti. Good luck!

        1. Wander*

          Seconding that urinary tract food is amazing for UTI prone cats. I had a foster years ago who got them repeatedly until we switched to food specifically for it, and then it stopped. His first set of adopters switched him off that food almost immediately despite knowing that, then returned him because surprise, surprise, he got a UTI and was peeing outside the box. Got that treated, put him back on the food, never happened again. His second set of adopters kept him on that food and, as far as I know, never once had an issue. It really does work wonders.

      2. Max Kitty*

        +1 Peeing outside the box has almost always been an indication of a UTI in my cats

    8. RC Rascal*

      One of my cats developed a little aversion when he was 10. I switched him to shredded newspaper & he was fine. I think he developed an allergy to a chemical in the litter. If you placed him in the box he didn’t want his paws to touch it.

      Same cat later started peeing in front on the box again. Turned out he was going blind & the area where the box was placed was too dark to see.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      If Arwen is upset/mad about something, she will often pee right outside the litterbox to express her displeasure. However, Arwen also sometimes is just plan terrible about aiming. I make sure all litterboxes are on hard surfaces that I can easily clean.

      For other cats, missing the litterbox can be a sign of illness or injury. A vet trip to rule this out is a good idea. Cats with arthritis will sometimes do this, because it’s painful getting into the box. Easing the pain or just getting a box they can get in/out of easier can help.

      Cats that have a behavioral aversion to the litterbox can also happen. This is the hardest to fix. I haven’t dealt with it, but I would talk to the vet as a first step.

      If up against the wall, try taping a piece of wax paper on the wall and letting it hang inside the box. that can redirect bad aim. If you need to create a hard surface, get a plastic chair mat, generally the big sizes, and put that under the box.

    10. Rainy*

      We struggled with our cat peeing outside the box after my husband bought the wrong kind of litter. She’s always had a high aim (she likes a certain depth of litter, and that and her stance means that sometimes she’ll just pee slightly over without meaning to), but when he got the wrong litter, she was just furious. It was the unscented of our normal brand, and I had to explain like he’s five that you can’t do that. She tried to tell me, too, but because I hadn’t been the one who bought it, it took me a few days to realize, at which point the damage was done.

      We got the right litter, but had to regain her trust with a sparkling clean box and a lot of reassurance, and we were just getting it under control when my horrible in-laws stayed for five days and stressed her (and the dog, and me) the fuck out, and it was happening worse than ever. Here’s what nicked the nick: we bought a spot bot and we carpet shampooed all the spots with oxy boost IMMEDIATELY they happened. We bought litter mats for all the boxes so that if she peed right outside, the litter mat would catch it. And we praised her EXTRAVAGANTLY every single time she used the box. Treats, brushing, pets, you name it. We threw her a birthday party every time she used the box when we were around. It took a few weeks of potty partying and that was what really fixed it. And now she’s fantastic again.

    11. Venus*

      Agreed with a lot of the suggestions. I only wanted to add that I have known many people who used Feliway successfully. I visited a friend years ago who had used it for a cat that was stressed, and suddenly he was friendly with strangers. It tends to work within days for the situations I’ve known, so if it hasn’t yet then you may be unlucky.

    12. silverpie*

      Can’t say for sure how long it took to work on our Luke, or even if it did, because we also brought home a new kitten at the same time (his sister, who had been rescued with him when they were tiny, had just died not long after we had lost an older cat, and he had licked his side bald from the stress). He quickly bonded with the new girl and calmed down.

    13. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      Please take kitty immediately to vet. Check for UTI/infections/kidney stones. Kitty may need a bigger box, cleaner box, more boxes, etc. Where is the litterbox? Is it hooded? Some cats hate that, If kitty is older, he/she may need a lower box as they have arthritis. Is kitty declawed? This can be a huge issue. Check with vet first.

  16. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    Is there any good COVID-19 news out there? I know that’s a weird sentence, but… what I mean is, is there any place in the world where new cases have slowed dramatically or ceased, or the shelter-in-place rules are being lifted and life is starting to return to normal?

    I’m living in pretty much the epicenter of COVID-19 and everything is doom and gloom here, with no end in sight. Better news would be really welcome!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I’m in the very weird position of having life being relatively normal, over here in Taiwan. New cases are slowing down, and are less than ten per day, most with clear sources (recent overseas travel, or related to another case). The government is still wary though – there are occasional cases with no obvious source of infection – and increasing precautions. It seems like South Korea and Hong Kong are also improving.

      We were lucky to have a government that learned from SARS (Taiwan was hit hard by it) and was really proactive when COVID-19 first appeared. The fact that the vice president is an epidemiologist by profession doesn’t hurt.

      We’ve started exporting masks to other counties – the US got a couple of million, and most of the rest went to Europe.

      Of course, all of my family, and my husband’s family, not to mention a lot of friends and colleagues, are overseas, so while my daily routine is fairly normal, the stress is still there.

      1. Julia*

        Japan is also strangely “normal”, which makes me and my Japanese friends who read international news very nervous.

      2. nep*

        Are people still practicing physical distancing? Seems like without it you’d need only one case for things to blow up again. Glad things are returning to normal for you. All the best.
        I watched an interview with Professor Kim Woo-joo from Korea University Guro Hospital the other day. Fantastic. One line that stands out (this is the translation): ‘This is science. You have to be humble. The moment we become arrogant, we’ll lose.’

      3. LizB*

        My friend (US resident) happened to be in Taiwan visiting her long distance partner when the US situation exploded, and she decided to just stay there until further notice (her college is remote for the rest of the semester anyway), and I was like… yeah, probably a good idea. Y’all seem to be doing a great job.

        1. allathian*

          Smart. I just hope she can get a visa easily. Tourist visas for 3 months were easy enough to get to most countries before travel restrictions kicked in, now it’s much harder.

    2. PX*

      Yup. Not sure what (if any) news outlets you follow but I’ve definitely seen that in China life is starting to get back to normal, even in Wuhan which was of course the poster child of the strictest quarantine. As AcademiaNut said, given that the virus moved East to west, most places in that part of the world seem to be coming out on the other side slowly.

      Plus cases in Italy and Spain seem to be slooowly flattening and Sweden is a weird island in Europe which has apparently managed to escape relatively unscathed and life there is still proceeding mostly as normal with minimal restrictions.

      So hang in there! As they say, this too shall pass.

      1. Copenhagen*

        Sweden is looking pretty bad at the moment. Sadly, the choice to continue living life as normal has resulted in a pretty steep infection and death rate now compared to their neighbouring countries where things are slowly stabilising.

        The good news: staying home seems to work very well. Denmark is doing pretty well at the moment, and the health care system has managed to buy time to prepare for more cases since the country went in to lockdown three weeks ago. We’re still allowed to go for walks, public transport is still open to those who need it (but we’re discouraged from using it for obvious reasons) and the grocery stores are fully stocked. It’ll be months, maybe even until the end of the year, before things will start to look normal again, but in the mean time we seem to have found a way where the health care system isn’t overloaded and where people are getting the care they need. I miss going out with my friends, but it’s a pretty small price to pay in the big scheme of things.

        We’re lacking testing equipment, masks and hand sanitizer like everyone else, but that seems to be a global problem.

    3. Anono-me*

      BBC News has an article showing improvement in Spain.

      On a hopeful note, both as to what is right with people and on the medical front:

      Sea Long Medical Systems out if Texas USA has a device that was developed to initially assist people in bariatric decompression chambers, but can make a huge difference for people in respiratory distress before they need to go on a ventilator. It’s a little mom-and-pop company that has ramped up exponentially.
      They have received an incredible amount of support from other medical device companies. A huge medical device company executive called them and said what do you need to expand. The people at Sea Long said they needed expensive machinery that they couldn’t pay cash for. Shortly afterwards, the machinery distributor called and said it was paid for and being delivered.
      Sea Long has made their design available for use but anyone who wants to.
      Additionally, in this time where everything seems to have gone crazy, Sea Long has decided to keep theicr normal prices of 160 something per unit.

      1. LibbyG*

        A wonderful story! I also love how it helps minimize the number of people who have to be intubated.

      2. Reba*

        Wonderful to read about people doing the right thing, running their businesses for human beings rather than max profits.

        Also seeing on twitter and other social that people who have recovered are being asked to donate blood for antibody therapy tests — that’s so exciting and it must feel meaningful to those who can help.

        Not relating to the medical side, but I really was cheered by reading the nytimes profile on the landlord that proactively offered rent forbearance to his tenants.

        1. On Fire*

          I’ve already made mental notes to spend money with L’Oréal, Columbia sportswear and Carhartt, because of how they’re responding. L’Oréal doesn’t make hand sanitizer, but they’ve committed to delivering 550 gallons weekly to the hospitals in my state, at no charge. We’re a rural state, but they have a plant here. This is a huge deal. Plus all the local breweries/distillers are making hand sanitizer to give away or sell for a minimal amount.

    4. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      My state (not US) is doubling cases at a rate of 9 days, up from 5 (and decreasing…) before restrictions started!

    5. Venus*

      I think it’s Denmark that just announced that they are looking to ease restrictions. Not today, but their cases are lower and they are making plans. When they do, it will be the first non-Asian country to do so. They started social restrictions on 11 March, so that gives us a frame of reference.

      1. Robin*

        Though they are talking about closing the bridges between Jutland and Fyn and Sealand over Easter to avoid mass family gatherings.

    6. Alston*

      Good news!

      Boston just got a machine that will be able to sterilize 80,000 masks a day for healthcare workers. There’s a limit to how many times a mask can be reused, but this is massive.

      It’ll be up and running on Monday, and it’ll be enough masks for all of Massachusetts, and possibly all of New England.

      They are sending machines to other parts of the US too.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is great, since they keep getting their requested supplies hijacked. Guess somebody doesn’t like Massachusetts. >:(

        I’m wondering why we can’t use tanning beds as an interim solution in smaller places. Tanning is horrible for you anyway; why not use them for something good?

    7. 653-CXK*

      Despite the stay at home advisory in my state (MA), everything is running as normal as possible for me.

      I’m still working (albeit from home), and the work is a welcome distraction, as keeps me away from the constant stream of fear and scare tactics blaring from my TV set. I don’t miss the daily commute to work, which involved hoards of kids piling onto the bus and going through a sketchy part of town, but that will return soon enough.

      I can get outside for a walk – I’ve always tried to keep physically distant from people anyway, so this is nothing new – but public transportation has been limited to healthcare workers and other essential people only; fortunately I am a healthcare worker (finance, but my position is essential), so if I needed to go anywhere, I have a letter stating so.

      Stores are slowly coming back to normal where I am after the onslaught of “OMG WE’RE GOING TO BE IMPRISONED FOR WEEKS – BUY UP EVERYTHING !!!!1!!!!” panic shoppers. My local pharmacy has no TP, but the local supermarket does (they’ve rationed it to one package per person).

      Restaurants are not available for sitdown, but takeout and delivery are doing a good business. I’ve tipped the delivery men and the tip jar far more than usual – and it’s a lot easier eating at home than it is in a cramped booth or with a crowd of people.

      Our governor here in MA has been nothing short of phenomenal. He has been far better than our current government and NGOs in keeping us informed, but when he corroborated with the owner of our football team and got those masks, and then distributed them to other states who really needed them, it reminded me of an episode in MASH where Radar had left and Klinger had to get generators for the 4077 – he had to do a little horse trading in order to get them, but it was ingenious (“I knew he had a little larceny in him”). His plan to hire “contact tracers” to find out if people who had the virus have infected others will not only help narrow down those who do have the virus, but will also give those who don’t some real hope that these restrictions in place will be lifted, as the hospitals and healthcare workers can concentrate on isolating the truly sick.

      Think of it this way – each day you and I and others are perpendicular, it’s a victory. It certainly beats the constant drum of doom and gloom at us each day – and we luckily have the power to turn it off and concentrate on something else.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Another one: if calm, balanced scientific analysis soothes you like it does me, you should REALLY read Derek Lowe’s “In the Pipeline” blog on Science Magazine. I find it very grounding. (@fposte, have you come across this one? I reckon you’d enjoy it.)

        1. fposte*

          Oh, thanks for the suggestion! Yes, you’re correct that I do like that kind of thing, and I didn’t know about this one.

          1. Drtheliz*

            Oh, if we’re talking about Dr Lowe, read his “things I won’t work with” bits of you want a good laugh. He’s excellent!

            1. NewReadingGlasses*

              Oh, that’s one of my favorite blogs! The comments are often very entertaining as well.

    8. MissGirl*

      Yes! I provide support for a California hospital. They projected numbers so high by this weekend they would be putting up tents and beds. So far no need for them. They still have a bed surplus. The flattening is helping. The projections for my state (not California) were 2 to 3 deaths a day at this point. We’re on day 3 with no new deaths.

      I also took all the big scary numbers and paired them with population numbers. US is below France, Italy, and Spain in infection rates. We are still far from a 1 percent infection rate.

      Our local tech companies paired with government officials to produce mass testing. Everyone in our state with symptoms is encouraged to test.

      When I ran the numbers on Wednesday, New York still hadn’t reached a 1% infection rate and their mortality rate is better than other places.

      Our efforts are helping. Let’s stay the course and know that are doing nothing is everything right now.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Thank you for saying something nice about NY. I’m in upstate. I go into stores just for food for myself and a couple older friends. I am so impressed with how, in general, everyone is being so kind and thoughtful toward others.

      2. Nita*

        Yes, the stats of NY are awful but the % increase in new infections and deaths isn’t skyrocketing. I think the quarantine may be working. News from local hospitals is that they’re overwhelmed and not getting enough protective gear, but so far still have room for all the patients and a little spare capacity. With the new medical space that’s been created, we might have a chance of not looking at a scenario where new patients can’t get care, period.

        At least, that’s the news for NY overall. I think things have hit the fan in my neighborhood this week. But this is the good news thread, so I’m not going there!

    9. GiantPanda*

      Germany has R_0 down from 3 to 1 which would mean the curve is flat. Scientists think that the full effect of social distancing is yet to come, we hope for less than 1.

      Numbers are still to be taken with a lot of salt though.

    10. ThatGirl*

      Chicago has started to flatten the curve, and it looks like the Bay Area is in decent shape too. Because the US is so big and spread out, we’ll see peaks at different times in different areas but I’m hopeful for my state.

    11. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Thanks, everyone. I’m fully aware that I could have just looked this stuff up myself, but the problem is that in order to get to the relatively small amount of good news, I have to sift through an enormous onslaught of bad news, and it triggers my anxiety, to say the least.

      1. Blueberry*

        I for one am glad you asked this question. I think this is an awesome thread, which you sparked!

      2. 653-CXK*

        Trust me, you’re not alone.

        What has helped me is listening to music and watching vintage game shows, not merely because I enjoy them, but it serves as a great distraction from the relentless fear p**n and PR horsehockey that the media is relentlessly slinging. (One this crisis is over, “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” should be shoveled into the dustbin of history, doused with whatever inflammatory agent is available, and lit to a roaring flame.) Maybe the media is hoping for the worst in this, but from what I’m reading in this thread, it looks like the worst the government is predicting won’t even be that (in fact, I would predict 5 to 15% of the mortalities of the worst – the deaths may be in the low tens of thousands versus the high hundreds of thousands).

        As I said in my previous post, working from home is also a huge help in keeping virus crisis at bay – although work itself introduces its own anxieties. I can only imagine if I were still unemployed (I was let go nearly two years ago and it took 10 months to begin working again) – at least during that time, I was able to get out of the house for interviews, taking a mental health break, etc. If that were the case today, I’d be going out of my mind. When I return to the office, I may do WFH once or twice per week.

        1. 653-CXK*

          Disregard that non-sequitur “When I return to the office, I may do WFH once or twice per week.” That should have been up in the other post I had.

      3. Anono-me*

        Actually I think this request for ‘good covid news’ was a wonderful idea. I hope that you consider repeating it in the weeks to come.

        1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

          I might. This has been a little bit reassuring.
          Thanks again!

    12. Is It Performance Art*

      In California and Washington State, the spread seems to be slowing. It’s also likely that because of the slowing spread neither state is going to have its hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19.

    13. Perstephanie*

      Forbes had a fascinating article yesterday: “Coronavirus Lockdowns Cause Worldwide Decrease in Man-Made Seismic Noise.” Apparently the lessened traffic and human activity are showing up as calmer readings from seismographs across the globe.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Two new N95 manufacturing plants are coming online in the US from one of our big manufacturers. (One on each coast.)
      And if you haven’t seen the footage already, look up the mountain goats who have come down to explore a mountain in Wales. I wish I could get one to tether out on my front lawn.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Yes! My sister pinged me this from Bloomberg News:
      “New York State fatalities fell for the first time. Italy had the fewest deaths in more than two weeks. France reported the lowest number in five days and Spain’s tally fell for three days in a row.”


      Basic statistics here:

      Rate of positives per all tests – 3-3.4% (97% of tests come back negative)
      Rate of mortality per positives – 2.4% (98% of people who test are surviving)
      Rate of positives per US population: 0.1% of US Population

      The above goes in line what I remember calculating world-wide and in certain Western Europe countries as well as China.

    17. Rainy*

      A little late, but I’ve been glued to the IHME’s covid site for weeks now, and my state has, by their projections, successfully flattened the curve as long as we stay in distancing through May. They were projecting peak health resource use on April 16th and now they say it was Saturday.

      I refreshed it like three times because I couldn’t believe my eyes.

  17. Foreign Octopus*

    Book thread!

    What’s everyone reading this week?

    After having it on my bedside table for the last two weeks, I have finally started reading The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin. I’m only 70 pages in but am finding it much more readable than The Dispossessed. It’s definitely very interesting and I’m eager to finish it as I think I might start Wolf Hall, by Hillary Mantel next.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      Thanks to this thread last week I’m reading and loving the Murderbot series, waiting for #3 to be returned! It was the perfect quarantine read for me and it got my reading mojo going again, thanks the the person who suggested it!!

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading Crooked River, the next book in the Agent Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I’m enjoying it so far.

      I’m waiting on a new book, Walk the Wire by David Baldacci, which drops on April 21.

    3. nep*

      Finally starting Burmese Days; it’s been looking at me from the shelf for a while now.

    4. Academia blues*

      I read The Left Hand of Darkness when I was fifteen. So I found it very difficult to understand. The main character in particular was hard to sympathise with.

      So I’m looking forward to your impression because I’ve been wondering for a while how this book reads in current times.

      1. puffle*

        I’m the same as you, Academia Blues, I was about sixteen when I read it and found it quite baffling- maybe because I was used to books with a ‘good’ or at least likeable protagonist, and maybe because the concepts about sexuality and gender that it raised were completely new to me at that age.

        1. Academia blues*

          Yes, exactly! Thematically and narratively it was too much for me.

          It’s hard to make myself read it again but I’m sure I’d have a very different perspective now.

        2. Imtheone*

          I read it in college and have read it since. I liked it, and found the idea of a society where any given person could get pregnant whenever having unprotected sex very interesting. It challenges the notions that humans are divided into two groups, male and female. (And remember that it was written before many people had learned about transgender individuals.)
          The type of humans from this planet appear in various short stories by Le Guin, so it is nice to know something about how it all works. I highly recommend collections of Le Guin’s short stories.

    5. TimeCat*

      I am enjoying the 10,000 Doors of January. It’s light and enjoyable.

      I reread Jim Lovell’s Apollo 13 account for the 50th anniversary. Highly recommend, especially if you’re a space/engineering wonk. They dig into a lot of the nitty gritty.

    6. puffle*

      I’ve just finished Wolf Hall and thoroughly enjoyed it, I’m on Bring Up the Bodies now and have ebook version of the The Mirror and the Light lined up next in my online library reservations.

      It’s actually a much better book than I expected. I knew it had won a lot of awards and acclaim, but I’ve read lots of other award winners that just… weren’t that great/ didn’t resonate with me? Whereas with Wolf Hall I got halfway through and thought, “actually this is amazing”- it really captures the atmosphere of the times and I love the writing style

      1. TimeCat*

        I admit my hesitation to read Wolf Hall is based in the series, which I found just kind of okay.

      2. London Calling*

        I love Wolf Hall. I read that and Bring Up The Bodies before the BBC series, which I couldn’t watch because Mark Rylance wasn’t the Thomas Cromwell of who I had a avery strong picture in my head – Rylance came over as more cerebral than the Cromwell I envisaged – the bruiser, the go-getter, the fixer. That, however, was an opinion that if uttered generated a lot of abuse of the ‘oh you only like car crash and reality TV, you can’t appreciate GOOD DRAMA!.’

        1. allathian*

          That’s too bad. Reminds me a bit of my feelings when I heard Tom Hanks had been cast as Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code and its sequels. I had pictured someone much more like Viggo Mortensen for the role (Robert Langdon loves swimming and Viggo was a competitive swimmer in high school). I did enjoy the movies although I could never quite get over the feeling that Hanks was miscast. To be fair, I do like Tom Hanks in many of his roles, Forrest Gump, Catch Me If You Can, etc…

    7. Overeducated*

      Still reading Down Girl by Kate Manne. It’s very good, but it’s a dense book about misogyny and I’m very sleep deprived, so I keep finding myself closing my eyes or glancing at my phone. Almost done, then it’s back to fiction!

    8. GoryDetails*

      I really enjoyed Left Hand of Darkness, but I read it fairly recently; I don’t think I’d have cared for it if I’d tackled it in my youth. I appreciated the very different culture, and also the survival-story and galactic-emissary aspects; there was a lot going on, and I found it involving and very effective.

      As for what I’m reading now, I’m indulging in some darkish material (I like reading this kind of thing in the middle of actual disasters; if you prefer lighter fare, skip to the next post!), including:

      The Twisted Book of Shadows, a horror anthology that’s a labor of love in which the editors sent out wide-ranging invitations to as diverse a bunch of authors as they could reach, and then did blind readings of the submissions so as to choose the best stories without regard to whether the authors were well-known or not. The result is a really good collection of very creepy stories, some really disturbing, some darkly hilarious, with a nicely diverse set of characters.

      The House of Sounds by M. P. Shiel, containing a number of his short stories and his classic short novel “The Purple Cloud”. First published in 1901, it’s about a man who returns from an Arctic expedition to discover that not only is he the sole survivor of his team, but apparently the sole survivor of all humanity – a weird cyanide-laced purple cloud has wiped out nearly all air-breathing life on the planet. So far the story’s got some impressively horrifying scenes as this not-totally-admirable character reacts to the situation.

      On audiobook, I’m still listening to The Mirror and the Light, the conclusion to Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” trilogy. I knew it was going to be dark (what with Cromwell’s historical fate and all), but even at the halfway point it’s getting grim: the sense of living on a knife-edge, being surrounded by foes and haters, the subject of false rumors… It doesn’t help that the narrator reads the character of Spanish envoy Chapuys – a kind of “frenemy” of Cromwell’s – in an intentionally smug and smarmy way that raises my hackles!

      All that really does add up to some pretty dark reading, so I have a few palate-cleansers on the side, like the manga Silver Spoon, about a city kid’s struggles at an agricultural college.

    9. Valancy Snaith*

      If anyone wants to know, I can strongly recommend that Doomsday Book by Connie Willis is the WRONG book to read right now. This is the voice of experience.

      1. Tomacco*

        I love that book SO MUCH! I’ve actually been meaning to re-read it, especially right now, as I’m apparently someone who requires equal doses of exposure and fantasy during difficult times.

    10. PhyllisB*

      I just finished an oldie but goodie: Woman Without a Past by Phyllis A Whitney. I’m reading books I already own since library is closed, and somehow I missed this years ago. It was published in 1991 and it’s funny to remember a time when we didn’t have cell phones and electric typewriters were state of the art technology.

        1. Former Employee*

          Sue Grafton was such a lovely person. I met her once, briefly, at a book signing. She still had that soft Southern accent from Kentucky even after so many years in California.

          I already loved her books and was so glad that she made it easy to like her, too.

          For anyone who likes feisty, independent female characters, read Sue Grafton’s Alphabet Mysteries, featuring the indomitable Kinsey Millhone. Added bonus: All of them are set in the fictional town of Santa Teresa, CA in the 1980’s.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        Phyllis B, you migjt like using your library’s digital collection for more materials.

    11. ThatGirl*

      I need something new to read. I’ve enjoyed a lot of Alison’s recommendations. I am not much for historical nonfiction. I like character driven books, no matter the genre. I just finished Such a Fun Age.

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m on the third book of the Civil War series by Jeff and Michael Shaara (The Killer Angels, the second one, is the book that the movie “Gettysburg” was based on), should probably finish that one this weekend, and I just got a bunch of library e-holds all at once, but I think the next one is going to be “Becoming Eve” by Abby Stein, about her experiences of having been born the eldest son of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family who was intended to be a major rabbinical leader, but identifying as a woman from a young age.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      Girl Genius novels (not the graphic novels, but the long version novels)
      They’re all titled “Agatha H. and the [blank]”
      Crazy, madcap steampunk.

      The Parasol Protectorate series
      Werewolf and Vampire steampunk series

      Also trying to do some career type reading to keep up-to-date.

    14. bassclefchick*

      I just finished The Sinner by J.R. Ward. The latest in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. It was AMAZING! And boy, do I have thoughts!! I seriously love Lassiter.

    15. Koala dreams*

      I never read The Left Hand of Darkness, but I read a short story set in the same universe. From what I remember the short story was quite interesting.

      I’ve read Hostile Waters (Huchthausen, Kurdin and White) this week. Very exciting thriller, but also quite a sad story. The Soviet navy was not a good employer. A Soviet submarine suffers damage and sinks in the golf stream.

    16. Tex*

      I loooove Wolf Hall. I read it three times, including a couple weeks, then re-read Bring Up the Bodies in order to read the third book in the trilogy, which came out just a couple days before stay at home orders. I’m half way done and must say it has a slightly different feel to it.
      You are in for a total treat, especially since you don’t have to wait years in between for the next book. If you haven’t seen the BBC miniseries (covering books 1&2), wait until you’ve at least read those two.

    17. Sutemi*

      I just finished Spillover by David Quamman, which is about how diseases cross from animals to humans. Some of the best science writing I’ve read and very timely.

    18. CatPerson*

      I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I am re-reading The Passage by Justin Cronin. I guess you could say that I’m leaning in to the viral apocalypse thing.

      1. Reba*

        I’m planning to reread Geraldine Brooks’ Year of Wonders, which is about the Black Death, so. And very interested to read N K Jemisin’s new one!

      2. Bluebell*

        I liked volume 1 and loved the TV series. But by book 3 I was exhausted and couldn’t finish it.

    19. Jedi Squirrel*

      Most of my books are still in storage, so I’m reading a best fantasy stories compilation from 2007.

    20. JobHunter*

      I am doing the 100 days of Decameron organized by the Iowa City of Literature. I’m only three chapters in, so I have no recommendations or judgements at this time.

    21. KoiFeeder*

      I got that book recommended on an earlier free-for all thread about real vs fictional private eyes. It’s good, but I’m a little concerned about the ethics of some of these real private eyes.

    22. NewReadingGlasses*

      I’m reading 100 Weird Tales. It’s very short short stories like 5 pages long, all with a twist. It fits my current attention span nicely.

    23. Princesa Zelda*

      Still cooped up with my Abigail Adams research. The most fascinating one for me is Adams Women: Abigail & Louisa Adams, their sisters, and daughters by Paul Nagel. Abigail’s sisters Mary and Elizabeth and her relationships with them are fascinating! The vast numbers of letters they wrote really bring their lives into a sharp focus, and they’re incredibly different and interesting.

      1. Imtheone*

        I suppose you read Diane Jacob’s book, “Dear Abigail: The Intimate Lives and Revolutionary Ideas of Abigail Adams and Her Two Remarkable Sisters“? I found it very interesting. I’m interested to try the book you mention by Paul Nagel.

        1. Princesa Zelda*

          Yep, I’ve got Jacob’s book too! I got it the day before my library announced our closure to the public, which was a RELIEF.

    24. Drago Cucina*

      Just finished Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison and The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica.

      Fortunately I have several ARCs from the Public Library Association conference in February.

    25. Ermintrude*

      Wilding by Isabella Tree. Absolutely fascinating book about wilding their stately home estate, and learning how pretty much everything is interconnected.

    26. Emily*

      Interesting that you find The Left Hand of Darkness more readable than The Dispossessed. I think I felt the opposite, although it could easily have been reading order/mindset when I read the books, in my case – I read The Left Hand of Darkness first and struggled to get into it. I do intend to give it another try at some point!

      I’m reading A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki. I like it so far! I was disappointed when the ebook from my library finally arrived and it wasn’t available in Kindle format, but I’ve gotten over it and have been reading on my computer.

      I’m also listening to Crazy Rich Asians on audiobook when I go on runs/cook/clean (aka mostly as easy background listening). It’s fine, but not something I’d go out of my way to recommend. (Not to crap on people who do like it, though! People on my Goodreads have likened it to a Singaporean/Malaysian Gossip Girl, and it turns out that I’m not that into Gossip Girl.)

    27. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I finished Frederik Pohl’s “Gateway” recently and I’m on to “Beyond the Blue Event Horizon.” Still weirder than I remember it being. I think I missed a lot when I was younger.
      After that I’m giving myself a treat and rereading some Tamora Pearce. (Keeping my fingers crossed that the Lionsgate project for a Tortall Universe series is going to survive this meltdown.)

    28. SarahKay*

      Still working my way through my unread Georgette Heyer ebooks. I’ve just finished ‘These Old Shades’ and ‘Devil’s Cub’, both of which were excellent (thanks, General von Klinkerhoffen, for the recommendation) and now I’m on ‘Regency Buck’.

  18. Penny for your Thoughts*

    How are people volunteering/doing good during this crazy time? A friend of mine is doing Happy Helpers for the Homeless this weekend, which is great but I’m nervous about being out and about in public.

    1. Julia*

      I heard about volunteer translation gigs, but there are so many freelance translators out of work right now or underpaid already (like me) that I am torn about providing a service for free when no one would ask other professionals to do the same.

      1. NACSACJACK*

        Might help with medical – turns out not every state requires translators be paid. Friend of mine got his degree in English-Spanish Medical translation here, moved to Iowa which has a significant hispanic population due to agriculture only to discover they dont pay for translators whereas in my state, they do because its required by state law to provide translators if possible, on request.

    2. Ranon*

      I posted a few links up thread for the poster whose mom is sick of quarantine- if you have local orgs that serve seniors you might get in touch and see if they need volunteers for welfare check phone calls.

      I’ve also heard good things about our local food bank in terms of how they’re doing with social distancing and precautions if it’s otherwise safe for you to be out and about. Giving blood, same thing.

    3. Overeducated*

      I had planned to donate a stash of frozen breast milk right before things got bad, but didn’t have a chance to get to a testing lab for mandatory bloodwork first. I don’t know, now, if going to the lab is a terrible idea in terms of exposure or violates our stay at home order as a nonessential trip. I also don’t know if the milk bank is even open. But…the milk may expire by the time this is over, and I’d love to use my freezer too. Advice?

      Otherwise, I gave blood on my last day of work at the office, and have given money to a local food & family assistance charity. But I’m short on time with the kids home and work, so not volunteering.

      1. Ermintrude*

        Are there any fb groups? There’s one called human milk for human babies – not sure if they do USA but may be able to advise how to find a similar resource local to you?

      2. Biologiste*

        Contact the milk bank/testing lab and ask! Much like blood donation, the service is surely still needed even more now that their donations are dropping off. Many places are changing their practices in response to this in creative ways: for example, sending someone to your home to collect your blood, rather than have you come in, or if you are coming in, increased sanitization of surfaces between visitors and social distancing guidelines. They should be able to tell you whether they are still testing and what they are doing to mitigate potential exposure.

    4. Wander*

      Maybe a local food pantry? The one my mother volunteers at has been hard hit by this; they’re getting a ton of donations, which is good, but there’s increased demand and fewer volunteers right now. They switched to a drive thru model and have implemented physical distancing among the people actually there, so while it’s still out in public, it’s not as bad as grocery shopping. Obviously it’ll vary by location, but that might be a place to check if you’re interested.

  19. CoffeeforLife*

    Baking Thread!
    I’m making hummingbird cake today and some pizza dough (for tomorrow). My household went through 3 dozen compost cookies so that could be on the list again.

    Anyone have a crumpet recipe that doesn’t use baking rings (I have a craving but no rings)?

    1. BRR*

      Rose Levy Beranbaum suggests as a substitute for pastry rings strips of aluminum foil folded over itself multiple times.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My partner got a craving for cookies. Chocolate cookies. I unearthed some baking chocolate, sent him a recipe, gave him access to my precious stand mixer… no cookies. Oh well. He still makes great cocktails.

      I am kind of amused that I have been stress baking bread for years now, so I have plenty of yeast and a healthy sourdough starter. I baked two loaves this week. But I’m hesitating with more projects because Passover starts on Wednesday. No bread for 8 days.

      Trying to decide what to bake for Passover, but I might just stick to chocolate covered matzah and call it a day.

      1. LQ*

        We cannot seem to find yeast at groceries stores around here. A coworker and I have been talking about starting sourdough starters but they require a lot of hands on in the first week and we are working 80+ hours/week in the office so it’s not doable. I have only have enough yeast for maybe 2 small loaves left.

        1. Overeducated*

          Yeah, I’m hesitant to make sourdough starter because it uses a lot of flour over time, and that’s also gone in the stores now. Also I have tried and failed to revive a good starter twice since moving to my current city, so it could be a lot of waste for nothing. We didn’t stock up on yeast and flour because we didnt expect everyone else to suddenly turn into bakers!

          1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

            I always used my sourdough discard (alas, don’t have one now, may start up a new one) in my Saturday pancakes. Recently watched a Youtube video (don’t have link, title was something like 17 things to know about sourdough) where the guy just threw some scallions in there and fried it in a cast iron pan and it looked delicious! Particularly handy if you’re feeding but don’t really need to make a lot of bread that day.

          2. smoke tree*

            I keep my sourdough starter in the fridge and only feed it before I bake (and try to pick recipes that use a lot of starter), so I rarely have to throw it out. Sometimes I make pancakes when I really have too much. As long as you bake bread fairly frequently, it shouldn’t go to waste. Although I’ve had a hard time getting hold of flour, which is a separate issue.

        2. Jen Erik*

          Soda bread? Uses bicarbonate of soda as the raising agent, and is really straightforward to make.

    3. Just a PM*

      My grocery store just got a shipment of flour yesterday. It’s the first time they’ve had flour since late Feb when all the panic-buying started. I got a bag and I think I might make chocolate chip cookies. And I might be eating a lot of them before they’re baked. It’s coronavirus, right?

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        *I don’t* because I live on the other side of caution, but you could pre-bake your flour so that it’s ok to eat “raw”. But cookie dough is awesome… sometimes better than the finished product!

        1. CoffeeforLife*

          I mean that to say, I don’t bake my flour and just eat the dough. But wanted to throw that out there for those that are cautious.

        2. fposte*

          I think it’s the eggs even more than flour that’s the concern with raw cookie dough, though; the flour is a late add-on to the warnings based on a particular recall. I don’t serve raw egg recipes to other people, but I will eat them myself. Would I eat raw cookie dough right now? I don’t know, might depend on my area and the frequency of salmonella, but I know that I wouldn’t be able to make cookies without eating dough so I wouldn’t make the cookies if I wanted not to eat dough.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Salmonella from eggs is pretty rare, but raw flour can carry E. coli. Toasting it in the oven mostly eliminates that risk.

            1. fposte*

              Right, after the E. coli incidents in 2016, but there’s not much problem with flour since then; it’s a rare potential, same as with eggs. Personal radar is probably the biggest factor in how you respond to each possibility at this point (and also where you get your eggs, since backyard chickens has meant a rise of salmonella in poultry in some areas).

        3. PhyllisB*

          For US readers: this month’s Woman’s Day has a recipe for cookie dough pops that bake the flour and doesn’t contain eggs.

    4. Alston*

      I am hosting a NAILED IT! Zoom baking party tonight.

      Everyone is baking their own cupcakes and making frosting before we start this afternoon. My friend and I chose 6 different dog cupcakes for people to try and recreate. No one else knows what dogs, just that they are going to be making dogs.

      It’s going to be hilariously bad. We do have one hardcore home baker, and one professional pastry chef, but man, this is going to be special.

        1. Alston*

          Oh man, Zoom NAILED IT! Went amazing and I would highly recommend. Some people went hard core and made marzipan for noses and bows, some people were using leftover donuts and Nutella instead of cupcakes and frosting. Everyone just worked with what they could!

      1. ThatGirl*

        I love Nailed It! so much. I work for a baking and decorating supply company so I know what they’re doing wrong most of the time :)

      2. PhyllisB*

        Alston, that reminds me of a my own “nailed it” adventure. When my oldest granddaughter was in kindergarten I volunteered to make cookies for a class party. I found a simple recipe for peanut butter cookies shaped like mice. They were supposed to have the humped shape like a crouching mouse. Well, when those cookies came out those mice looked like they were flattened by a steam roller. Still looked like mice, but very FLAT mice. I didn’t have time to do over so I sent them on anyway. The kids were thrilled with them because they didn’t know what they were supposed to look like.

    5. Overeducated*

      I made the Smitten Kitchen one bowl blueberry muffins this morning. The first time I made them I thought they were just fine, this time they really hit the spot. I think the fact that they are quick enough to make before a baby in a high chair loses his patience impressed me more this time.

      This week we’re definitely making pizza dough, and also threw around the ideas of beer bread, chocolate oatmeal cookies, and English muffins. But we may have to ration our flour if we can’t replace it!

    6. Loopy*

      I baked some small 6 inch cakes earlier this week and am going to try my hand at decorating them this weekend. I also saw a recipe for copycat cinnabons but I don’t know if I’ll be able to find the yeast. I’ve seem to posts about making it/an alternative but I’d like to try the recipe for the first time with actual yeast. We’ll see if I can snag any.

      Slowly getting out of my baking funk.

    7. anonymouse for this*

      Am making no knead focaccia tomorrow – bon appetit recipe looks nice and easy. And you can leave the dough to rise in the fridge over night which surprises me. Always thought dough had to be left somewhere warm to rise.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        Because you are doing a long rise you want the cooler temps of the fridge to slow down the yeast. The book, Flour, Salt, water, Yeast has some great long rise breads (but easily found reprinted on the web)

    8. Windchime*

      Yesterday I baked oatmeal cookies with white chocolate and cranberry raisins. I left out the cinnamon that the recipe called for. The cookies turned out SO GOOD. I was wishing that I had remembered to put in some walnuts, though. I spaced out on that.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Way back before Thanksgiving, my daughter & a friend took over my kitchen to make sugar cookies. They froze a roll of dough. Today I sliced some off and baked them in the toaster oven, and called over to the homework sofa ‘thanks for making cookies!” She was briefly, appropriately perplexed. And a bit of sugar was had by all.

  20. Mystery Bookworm*

    Normally I’m more of a lurker on these threads but I need to vent a little. I’m very fortunate to have a healthy baby girl and fairly generous maternity leave. My nine-month old was supposed to start nursery part-time this month (now cancelled, as the nursery is closed) and I was supposed to return to a work project that started later this month (now…up in the air?).

    I realize I’m very lucky to be in the position of getting to be home with my daughter, but…WOW do I miss regular adult interactions. I used to take her out twice a day (once to music or tumble classes) and later to sit on a playmat while I chatted with some other parents. I didn’t realise how much those excursions were helpful for my sense of personhood. My partner is home and he does his best to help, but he’s mostly in meetings or head-down coding, so I’m basically spending hours of the day alone in a bedroom. It’s a frustrating sort of work, because there’s a lot of effort that doesn’t involve much thinking, so you feel like you should be able to listen to a good podcast/lecture or do some reading or even do some research/writing. But there’s frequent enough interruptions that you can’t actually make good headway on anything.

    She’s so cute, but I’m so bored…and I’m really discouraged by the knowledge that my work project might be post-poned so I’ll have a few more months of maternity leave (again, something I acknowledge is a total privilege. I just wish I could share it and get back to work.)

    I am, however, deeply, deeply impressed with people who are working AND watching small children all day. Amazing.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’ve found that, even without a child to take care of, video chats with lots of various friends have really helped my mood.

    2. TimeCat*

      When I was on maternity leave after my husband returned to work, I listened to a lot of audio books and podcasts. It helped with the isolation.

    3. PhyllisB*

      Do you live in an area where you can talk walks? Put her in a stroller and head out a couple of times a day.

    4. Koala dreams*

      Can your partner take paternity leave? Maybe one or two days a week, if his work allows it. That way you can share the child caring duties.

      I’m impressed that you manage to take care of child that age without leaving your bedroom! Give yourself some credit! Is it possible for you to talk walks near your house with the stroller? Or at least put on some music while you’re at home?

    5. Quagga*

      You have my sympathies! Husband and I are both WFH with our 16-month old underfoot. Husband is also a programmer so he’s been frustrated with the constant interruptions. I know we are fortunate to be merely inconvenienced by the pandemic situation, but it’s still exhausting, aggravating, trying, tiring, etc. etc.
      I remember feeling like I should be able to do stuff while at home with the baby but just being constantly blocked in my efforts. It gets better. I know your husband is working, but these aren’t normal times. Hopefully you guys can do some balancing so you can get some you-time in once in a while.

      1. Nita*

        That’s a rough age. My 16 month old is a terror. She has broken so many things in the last month. I’ve given up and let her draw on the walls and floor with crayons, because this is the least destructive thing she’s capable of. She knows how to open the oven, open the trash and flush the toilet. I’ve caught her trying to drink liquid soap and eat power cords, chew unwashed produce before we can put it away, and jump on the couch. My husband isn’t working right now, but he’s tied up with the older kids’ online school most of the day and it’s taking him a while to realize that it’s no longer safe to walk out of a room and leave this child alone for five minutes – we’ve never seen such a tornado of destruction, so it’s a learning curve. I keep having to drop whatever I’m working on to remove the toddler from yet another situation. It’s not fun at all.

    6. Observer*

      Short podcasts can be great.

      A list of under 10 minute pods that might be of interest:

      The Indicator (Planet Money) – Economics
      Shortwave (NPR) – Science
      Business Wars Daily (Wondery) – Economics and Business
      Encyclopedia Womanica (Wonder Media) – History?
      Make Me Smart daily (MarketPlace) – Mostly economics and culture


      My mom went back to work as soon as I was 4 and my sisters were in school all day. She was done with her house cleaning by 10am and bored out of her mind. :) Dont sweat it too much.

  21. Lonely Aussie*

    Those of you living with parents/other family members, how are you coping? Being on lockdown with my parents has been interesting.
    I’ve been off work sick all week with some sort of throat infection. Parents also have been home. I love them but three adults in one small three bedroom house where we all have different ideas about the levels of risk and how to manage it is tough.

    Mum’s super freaked out and I’m legit worried she’s going to end up blue from all the silver she’s been taking. Every surface is being blasted with cleaning product. Everything that comes into the house is blasted with cleaner. She’s taking some super group of vitamins that supposedly boost the immune system. All the while sprouting conspiracy theories and muttering about plots to sell vaccines.

    Dad on the other hand, seems to have a grasp on the seriousness of the situation but needs constant reminders to wash his hands when he comes in, not to put things like packages and groceries on the kitchen benches (food prep areas) and that he needs wait for Mum and I to disinfect things after we’ve used them cause we’ve both been sick.

    I’m somewhere in the middle, zero interest in the conspiracy theories, silver or vitamins, but hands washed and keep outside stuff off the food prep areas please. Omg though, if I have to hear one more fight about vitamins, hand washing or the mail on the bench I’m going to lose it. Also, highly sensitive to the cleaning products so that’s been fun. don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful we’re mostly healthy, still all employed and have individual rooms we can get away from each other in, but it’s going to be a long six months. The thing I’m going to miss the most are those two hours on a Friday when they’d go and do the shopping and I’d have a blissfully empty house to myself.

    1. nep*

      I hear you. Live with elderly mom (who now goes nowhere except outside for the occasional walk). I’d been long overdue for getting out of here…well now that’s put off for a while.
      I wish you peace…and refuge in those rare moments you have the place to yourself.
      Hope you’ll recover soon.

    2. Just a PM*

      Could you go out and do the shopping for a couple of hours? It’s not the same as having the house to yourself, but heading out to the grocery store by yourself and taking the ridiculously long oops-I-made-10-wrong-turns way there and back could help restore a little bit of sanity.

      1. nep*

        I like this idea. I’ve been doing this…just taking extra long drives when I have to go out for a short errand. Only apprehension there is, just being out and about in a car presents the possibility–if relatively tiny–of an incident/accident, and during these times that’s the last thing I or our first responders/hospitals need. Another thing I like to do is sit in a parking lot near a park, near trees, to read a book. I can’t read very well inside this house, but I can focus on a book in the car.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Lonely Aussie said they had a throat infection. They shouldn’t go out if sick. If it’s COVID, you risk spreading it. If it’s not, having something else makes you vulnerable.

        1. Lonely Aussie*

          Love the idea though probably not suitable, though I wish it was. We’re being told not to hang around in stores or loiter outside of the home. Grocery shopping is also pretty fraught in our house, Mum has a very specific diet and a very small list of approved brands, an ever evolving list of brands.

          Will be looking forward to going back to work in next week or so, just to have a reason to get out of the house. Throat infection has been responding to antibiotics and from what the doc has said I should be able to go back when the coughing stops.

    3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I’m having a super hard time. Dad has the TV on all day, only watching COVID related news at the highest volume and yelling death numbers at random, killing my concentration, my productivity and my reputation at work (see post in yesterday’s Open Thread). He only stops when he falls asleep and I rush to turn if off. Mom is the only one preventing me from throwing the TV or taping Dad’s mouth. At least he’s not trying to escape anymore, but the candy withdrawal is hitting him hard.

      1. Lonely Aussie*

        Aw man, massive virtual hugs that sounds incredibly difficult to deal with, it’s hard enough going online and being hit with it, let alone listing to it blasting through the house.

    4. tangerineRose*

      The silver sounds dangerous, and I think that it isn’t actually supposed to help. No idea if your mom would pay attention to that – you probably already told her.

  22. my daughter is a pot head*

    We’ve been struggling with my 16 y.o. daughter smoking thc for the past few months. I can’t even go into all the details but she seems to be quite addicted and we just discovered she has been sneaking out, getting in people’s cars, going to ATMS, hitting stores and buying weed and edibles. All upsetting behavior at any point, but super upsetting during this pandemic. I’m sure she did not use any social distancing, purell, etc etc.

    I am worried, angry, disappointed…

    Not sure about next steps. Addiction runs in the family and we want her off of this. She’s already in therapy but is lying to her therapist. I’ve know enough addicts in my life to recognize the behavior. Think we need an addiction specialist or rehab. Of course, she does not want to quit. Helps her with her anxiety (which she does have, I understand).

    Just wanted to vent. Can’t really tell anyone in my real life.

    1. PhyllisB*

      So sorry. I have dealt with addiction issues with all three of my children so I understand your pain. If you can get her into rehab or find an addiction specialist that would be a good thing. I wasn’t aware of my children’s problems until it was too late, and it was really hard going.
      My best advice is educate yourself as much as you can and reach out to professionals.

      1. my daughter is a pot head*

        Thank you PhyllisB. It’s been difficult to admit/believe our sweet daughter is in this situation.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Yep. I had the same problem. “My child would NEVER do that!!” Oh yes they would.

    2. Generic Name*

      Is she being medicated with prescription drugs for anxiety? It sounds like she’s self-medicating, which is no bueno. Also, how is she getting the money to buy? Maybe address that.

      1. my daughter is a pot head*

        Good points. Yes, she is on prescription drugs. Last year she was diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety, and when we discovered her thc use, her meds were adjusted. She said that things were now balanced and she quit smoking…yet we keep discovering she is still smoking. I do not doubt her at all about the anxiety and in fact if she decides in about 10 years that that is how she wants to manage it, I would not have an issue with that.

        She makes money babysitting – which I will have to start confiscating (once she starts up again after the pandemic is over). And she also makes money online editing photos for peoples’ social media accounts. It’s pretty crazy how much she has set up in her digital world – venmo, paypal, etc etc. Very little of it goes through traditional banking accts that I had set up for her. In fact I discovered the recent sneaking out by checking the bank acct I set up and seeing the ATM withdrawals.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I thought about this a little further, and I’m going to actually say don’t confiscate any money she earns herself. Lock down the bank account if it’s not solely her money, or at least make sure she can’t get anything that’s not solely her money out of it, and definitely make sure if you give her any of your money that she’s using it properly, but 1) if you confiscate her money, she’s more likely to get better at hiding what money she has from you than to use money responsibly and 2) if she has to start sneaking around and hiding her funds, she’s less likely to come to you if something bad happens with them.

          Honestly, my biggest concern here is the social distancing issue- she almost certainly isn’t, and she has no idea if her dealers or the other customers of her dealers are. She’s putting herself and you guys in a lot of danger.

          (Also, one small little thing- is she taking her ADHD medication and marijuana? If so, I just want to impress on you that it’s incredibly important that she use marijuana with a trusted person nearby. ADHD medication and marijuana are a dangerous combination, and if she’s going to be using, you absolutely do not want her using unsafely. It may feel weird and like you’re being a bad parent to allow her to use in the garage or on the porch, but if something goes wrong, you definitely want to be nearby, because it goes wrong fast with that combo.)

        2. Sunset Maple*

          From the perspective of the spouse of a forty-something with ADD: script after script after script just did. not. work. for him the way weed does. One med for attention span, one med to dull his brain enough to sleep, one med for the anxiety that struggling with his disorder brings, and endless bloodwork to make sure that flooding his system with that crap wasn’t murdering his kidneys. (Surprise! It was!) What’s the point? Just smoke the damned joint.

          I’m never going to be okay with weed, whatever argument or diatribe you throw at me. I’m a goody-two-shoes who grew up in the DARE era. But I can’t deny that it works for him, and it does less damage to his body than the meds did. So I tolerate it.

          Self-medicating is RAMPANT with ADD. It’s a constantly evolving disorder, featuring lack of of patience and impulsive behavior, often treated by fat-soluble meds that take a while to kick in at full strength.

          I’ve never raised a teenager, so I can only imagine how scared and out of control you feel, seeing her current behavior. My best suggestion is to talk to her, about everything, in detail. What symptoms is the thc use addressing that the meds are not? What symptoms is she experiencing that she can’t or won’t tolerate? Has her med tolerance changed, or was she not being fully honest about the meds’ effects? Talk to her about her needs and feelings FIRST, because let’s face it–yelling about breaking quarantine first won’t work. Teens aren’t big on empathy.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      So sorry about your situation.
      Particularly worrying because the substance use is putting her … and the household … in danger of the virus.

      If she’s not ready for rehab, or if there’s no beds, maybe taking some time to see if there are new strategies for anxiety. Use social distancing as an excuse to try a new skill like yoga or meditation. Or start doing a collaborative project together … baking or crafting or reading out loud.
      My instinct would be not to push hard on the the addiction angle unless you’ve got access to resources to address it. The last thing that would be helpful now is to have conflict about it. But reaching gently to heal root causes or to build a different set of relationships might be a way to reduce the behaviors in the short term. And distraction might help.

      1. my daughter is a pot head*

        Thanks… we have been baking. and watching Arrested Development as a family. Definitely trying not to fight about it and create a conflict filled environment while we are all trapped here together.

    4. Llellayena*

      I have no experience with addiction, myself or people I know, so take this with a large container of salt, but:

      What about during the COVID crisis focusing on regulating how much pot and safe ways of getting it rather than trying to get her to stop altogether? If you can find an amount that helps her anxiety and a form of it that can be obtained safely during social distancing and hand washing times, maybe that’s enough for now?

      1. Reba*

        I had a similar thought: deal with the failure to social-distance as the urgent matter.

        Changing dependency on weed is a long term project.

        I wonder if a product with CBD, which is available legally in many places, might be a compromise that keeps her inside. Many adults I know take CBD to take the edge off everyday anxiety.

        Re: sneaking out and being private about her accounts, I mean yes that looks like dependency, but it also looks like teenager-hood, trying out her independence from you. It’s unacceptable in these circumstances, but I guess I’m trying to say that it’s maybe not that extreme a behavior in itself. (Disclosure, speaking as someone who snuck out without any drugs involved, and my big sister too.)

        1. Reba*

          To add, OP you are a caring parent and I wish you and your family the best as you work through this!

      1. WellRed*

        Whoa! Rude. And people do become dependent on it. I’ve seen it more than once. Also, her daughter is underage. Tired of people acting like it’s entirely harmless.

      2. Not a cat*

        Thank you. The anxiety meds prescribed by most doctors ARE addictive, not marijuana.

      3. Pieforbreakfast*

        Dependency to cannabis is definitely a real thing that happens, not with everyone who uses it but some people. Same as other substances. Yes, “addiction” clinically refers to the biochemical changes that can occur with some substances, but the terms are often used interchangeably with lay people. And you know, NEITHER one is good for a person’s health and well being.

      4. my daughter is a pot head*

        Wow, Penny Parker. I’m not sure what the point of your post was other than to be mean-spirited. Way to kick someone when they’re down! Maybe my daughter is not physically addicted but is psychologically. And it sucks. But hey, thanks for the “education”.

      5. KoiFeeder*

        She’s breaking quarantine and endangering her family to access marijuana. Does the word choice really matter that much in this circumstance?

      6. tangerineRose*

        People get addicted to gambling, so it seems like they could get addicted to weed too.

    5. Sam I Am*

      The most immediate problem is the social distancing thing. Perhaps this becomes “the reason” to go out when she would need to find “a reason” to go out anyhow, as a teenager I would have jumped at pretty much any chance to go anywhere.

      Have a librarian point you in the direction of some good, peer-reviewed and published research; the biggest issue is likely that her beautiful brain hasn’t finished forming yet, which would be the worry about alcohol use at her age, too. Kids don’t need to be treated like they can’t understand complex issues, and brain development is a complex issue. You guys can learn about it together or simultaneously. It will help her make more informed decisions down the road.

      Also, regarding not telling anyone in your real life, I hope you can find a way that allows you to speak about this. One problem with substance use and substance abuse is the taboo on speaking about it. This is an excellent thing for us to try to change in society. Your family and community may have terrible reactions to knowledge of your daughter’s cannabis use, and rightly you don’t want to share medical information about her without her consent.
      However, the only family and friend that have sustained addiction recovery for multiple years were both clear that hiding in the shadows was destructive. Each of them may have had a shorter path to recovery if these things were de-stigmatized. You can’t change society all by yourself, but perhaps having ongoing conversations (about drugs) in your family unit will normalize the conversation. It may help her ask you questions if she sees your family demonstrating the same thing with each other, as you learn more about this particular chemical, what it does to adults, what it does to youth, it’s social history, the political history, etc…these side topics may be easier to broach than “YOUR USE OF DRUGS,” know what I mean?

      This is hard stuff but you can do it, push through the uncomfortable space yourself and she may be able to follow. I’ll be thinking of you.

    6. SendingSympathy*

      I don’t have a lot of advice for you, but I do have a lot of sympathy. As someone who is dealing with two underlying health conditions, and has a daughter with anxiety who goes out driving, and is vaping again and may be back on weed again, I’m trying to do my best. It sounds like you are trying to do your best also, and it’s great that you guys are at least have a few activities to share together. My daughter who is over 20, mostly just wants to watch TV in her room or go out driving, even when we offer options of games and movie watching together. She was in treatment in early March for anxiety and depression when things fell apart, and we won’t let her look for a job right now. Ideally we’d tell her to move out but it’s totally unrealistic in this pandemic. She’s on antidepressants which seem to be working some, but staying at home is hard on all of us. Virtual hugs to you.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      The picture of the two dogs and a cat sleeping together on their backs really got me! Thank you!

      1. nep*

        Yesss. The site is pure joy. Such beauty. Nature, interiors, lines of poetry here and there…

  23. coffee cup*

    I found working from home a struggle this week and I don’t know why. I’m a natural introvert, but I do enjoy socialising and chatting and feel that the balance of having that at work with my colleagues and then having alone time is useful for me. But even so, I am often fine spending time alone… I just found it so hard to focus, which isn’t what’s needed in my job.

    Sorry, this isn’t a work thing, but just how to get out of the small slump. I live alone and am pretty good at keeping myself going, but I’m also still getting used to my SSRIs and it’s harder to keep resilient without being able to see my family or anything and get a hug.

    I shouldn’t complain! I have it better than a lot of people. Just finding it difficult, y’know?

    1. Mystery Bookworm*

      My partner is struggling with this as well. Not sure if this is something you need to hear as well: but just a friendly reminder that being introverted doesn’t mean you need to have an easy time self-isolating.

      As we learned from Matilda, there’s a huge and significant difference between helping yourself to something you love (a slice of chocolate cake, perhaps) and being forced to have large quantities of that thing.

      I think it’s totally understandable that you’re struggling with focus right now. I hope you can be generous with yourself!

      1. coffee cup*

        No, it’s definitely useful to hear. I think I just assumed I’d be fine, but turns out I like to separate work and home and I like to drive to the office and chat to colleagues and then come home and hibernate. I find it hard not to be harsh on myself!

        1. Tau*

          Honestly, I find a lot of the introvert discussions get a little… simplistic… on this front. I harp on this by now, but seriously: humans don’t do well in complete isolation. Even if you like spending time by yourself, even if that’s what recharges your batteries, it is still perfectly normal to want to spend (some) time with (some) people, and 100% understandable if you start getting distressed and unhappy if that is suddenly taken away from you.

          Especially considering the context it’s happening in! I mean… it’s a global pandemic. It would probably be more surprising if you were absolutely fine with everything.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            And also the “recharges my batteries” analogy is an imperfect one, really. Even deeply extroverted people would be emotionally spent with ZERO alone time, similarly, introverted people can gain motivation and energy from being in pairs or small groups — we’re complex beings, allowed to gather emotional resources from a variety of fronts.

            1. Tau*

              Yeah, I didn’t want to get into Tau’s Problems With The *Vert Thing but this also gets to me. Like, nobody does well with zero social contact, and nobody does well with zero time spent alone. It’s points on a spectrum, not absolutes. And, as you say, you can gain energy from different sources at different points in time, and we’re more complex than “what recharges my batteries”. I mean, Very Bad Things happen to my psyche both if I don’t have lots of time alone and also if I don’t have a decent amount of regular social interaction. Fairly different bad things, but neither option is fun to deal with. Reducing that to “introvert!” or “extrovert!” would be missing a lot, and I can’t imagine I’m that unusual here.

              1. Mystery Bookworm*

                I’m kind of glad to other people have this hang-up as well! It’s always bothered me a bit.

            2. Overeducated*

              Yeah, i have literally never talked to anyone who identifies as an extrovert under this definition, even a good friend whose need for daily contact I found utterly exhausting when we grew up together. The fact that there are “two types of people” but I somehow have only ever met one makes me think there are some issues with the concept.

        2. Overeducated*

          I feel the same way! My office is pretty quiet and we don’t talk a lot about oir personal lives, but the daily contact and routines were grounding and I miss them. It’s ok to mourn and miss the little things too.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I’m an introvert who works from home, too, and I don’t always go out that much, but it’s tough knowing I can’t go out and do things that I might want to do.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      YOU CAN COMPLAIN. Sure, other people may have it worse, but that doesn’t mean you’re not stressed and frustrated and dealing with your own problems. This is difficult!

      Ok, yelling over. This week was ROUGH. One thing I try to do is indulge the lack of focus. Like, I take 15 minutes and do something else. Because pushing through can sometimes be worse than that break.

      But above all, please be easier on yourself. Kinder to yourself. Don’t scold yourself for feeling less than good.

      1. coffee cup*

        Yeah, I would say the same to others, I’m just a bit hopeless at saying it to myself, haha. Thanks. I beat myself up too much. I do think I should be using this time to do productive things like learn something new, get writing, etc… but most days I’m just not up for it.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          One of my girlfriends said yesterday that she is getting tired of setting up online happy hours. I totally get it! There’s this weird pressure to make all of these social plans, and that can get exhausting just like it would in normal times. You don’t need to be productive just because someone else tells you to.

    3. Alan*

      This is exactly how I’m feeling. I live on my own and I’ve never had any problems spending 90% time in my own company. Just realising that there is a big difference between 90% and 100%.

    4. Belgian*

      This is me as well. I’m an introvert, but I’ve found I need the interaction at work to feel good. Can you set up a videochat using Skype/Zoom/… or a water cooler-channel in something like Slack? I’ve found those to be helpful to get some of my social needs met.

      This is a stressful time. It’s perfectly understandable to not be fine during it.

    5. Dan*

      Yup to you and Alan. I am so, so glad that I don’t have more than just me in my ok-sized apartment. But I set my life up to have a balance, not be full-on socially isolated. I’m dealing with it fine for now, but it’s not my long term strategy.

      My boss is a remote teleworker and lives in a real house so has a proper home office. Me? Not so much. I was talking to him Friday night, and he says, “have a good evening.” And I was like, “so you know evenings these days consist of me relocating my butt 15 feet from the dining room table to the living room couch, and my work computer screen is in view any time I’m not sleeping.”

      As mentioned, dealing with it fine, but this is not my long term plan.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        So this may sound ludicrous Dan but when I was first working out of the house long ago, it was within sight of my bed. I found that that one little LED light on the monitor drew in my attention. One night, I got irritable and tossed a bedsheet over the whole thing…and I slept better. Obviously watch out for heat issues if you don’t fully power down, but it’s worth a try.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      CC, We are living in a world-wide horror remake of ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” This is beyond introvert or extrovert. “Just” the stress will make us forgetful and make it hard for us to stay asleep at night.
      I have no good answers except I do feel better when I get outside, even if it’s just standing on my front steps wrapped in a blanket, huddled against the wall out of the rain. We had a gap in the weather yesterday, and I rode my bike to the recycling dropoff point. Gonna need a bigger backpack….that’s worth doing again.

  24. Just a PM*

    I don’t live with my parents (we’re a few hours apart) but they want me to come down and stay with them for a couple months till all this goes over. Anything more than a weekend with them drives me nuts. I’m an introvert. I like being alone and I’m not lonely. I like the routine I’ve made and going to stay in an uncomfortable house, sleeping in an uncomfortable bed, and dealing with uncomfortable nosiness stresses me out. I’d stay isolated in my old room like I did in school 15 years ago, coming out only for food.

    I don’t think it helps that all they do is watch the news. I think it is making them too paranoid about everything. I’m glad they’re taking the coronavirus seriously but it‘s worse than annoying to deal with the “you can’t do things alone and you can’t be alone” mentality all over again. Is anyone else having similar issues with their parents or relatives? How are you coping or managing this?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “Gee, that sure does sound like an idea, doesn’t it? But I would hate to be traveling and maybe bring something into the house, or have something happen like a water leak in my place that I wouldn’t know about for weeks. Why don’t we check in at supper time every day so I can make sure you’re fine?”

      Anxiety jujitsu.

      Check in, refuse to talk about the news, and check out. If they can’t help but being nosy, suggest they do check ins with other shut ins.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You’re an adult, with your own place. Why in the world would you go stay with your parents during a pandemic? It’s not like they can keep you safe! I suspect this is worry/anxiety, and if you can address the emotion driving this that might help.

      My parents haven’t asked. I’m sure my mom would love it if my sister or I were staying with them. But I have cats and am working. My sister is in a hot spot (there’s multiple cases in her apartment building). My parents are in a big hotspot. It doesn’t make sense for anyone to go anywhere. Plus, if I were there, I’d just make her clean the house top to bottom and she hates cleaning.

    3. Teal*

      We may be twins! More than 2 days (sometimes 5 mins) is too much. Semi uncomfortable house, crap childhood bed, forget trying to work – interruptions by all family members throughout the day. Even though my husband is away, I am alone but not lonely.

      I live less than 2 hours away from parents and grandparent, and while they haven’t exactly suggested I live with them the whole time this thing is going down, they would like me to visit. Culturally, it’s expected (regardless of this pandemic). My mom still gives me a hard time that we didn’t buy a house in their town, but I digress.

      What have I done? I went to their house for a few days at the very beginning of shelter at home (mid March) and helped them with some technical items, ensured everyone had what they needed, and came back to my house where I’ve been since. That was 2 weeks ago. I went to the store this week and will stay home for 14 days. I legit do not leave the house, except to force myself outside for a daily walk to feel the sun on my face. After 14 days, I may drive up and visit them for 2-3 days, bring them anything they need, come back home, and repeat the cycle.

      It’s a weird time…what do you want to do? Do you want/need to visit (e.g. to help with groceries or anything)?

      I know my current routine (quarantine 14 days, short visit, quarantine 14 days) stems from a little guilt and cultural expectations. I would a a suggest you stay put and do what is best for you, but I understand there may be additional things at play that are out of your control.

      1. Teal*

        I’d like to add, of course follow your state/local rules. If your parents are okay, then stay home. Take care of yourself :)


    4. Alex*

      I’m in the exact same situation. My mom wants to “be together during this crisis” and I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less.

      I just said no, which is a complete sentence! Of course she was like whhyyyyyy and I just said, “I’m just not doing that. I live here, and I want to be at home.” In my experience, giving fake excuses rather than actual reasons doesn’t work, because excuses can have counter-solutions.

    5. Buni*

      My parents were all “You’re High Risk! You shouldn’t be in the Big City! We’ll come down and get you!” and I was just ‘hahahahaNO’.

      I love my parents dearly, I even love spending time with them, but I am also an introvert who needs her empty flat. I call in twice a week, I constantly assure my Father that I do indeed have ‘the Netflix’, and I just… sound cheerful every time I call.

  25. I hate the offseason*

    BLUF. I am anxious about my dad but there is not much I can do about it. He’s 90 and has health issues. He has dementia as well, and it is aggravated by the stay at home order. He’s been going out for any reason he can. He forgets that his club is closed and gets agitated about it. He has threatened his live in GF because she tries to stop him from leaving. He dashes out the door when she is in the bathroom. We need to take his car away.

    So I’m worried that he’s going to get the virus and also give it to his GF, who is in her 80s and also has health issues. I live 400+ miles away. I call, but he doesn’t listen. I feel helpless. At least he’s going to see the doctor on Monday about increasing his meds for his memory issues.

    He’s 90 and I’ve kind of been mentally preparing myself for his death anyway, but the added stress of him just seemingly courting it is hard some days. I’m kind of angry with him.

    Sorry for the vent. Just don’t know what else I can do.

    1. Ranon*

      Are there any organizations local to him that serve seniors that might be able to help you? I bet, if nothing else, you’d be able to make contact with someone else who gets how hard what you’re dealing with us. You’re certainly not alone!

    2. LGC*

      Oh man. I’m really sorry, and that sounds difficult. And the easy solutions don’t work because you’re so far away. I can’t imagine what…well, both of you are going through. Since you mentioned he has dementia, he probably doesn’t fully understand what’s going on. And obviously, you’re worried about his death in a way that’s really immediate.

      I’m not sure if you want suggestions, so I’ll hold off for now.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Dementia sucks. It really, really does. People think cancer sucks, and it does, but not the same way that dementia does. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. There really isn’t a solution. It basically just goes downhill, sometimes faster than other times.

      The doctor appt is good, but it’s not just the memory issues. The threats, repeated going out, and running out needs to be specifically addressed with the doctor. Meds to handle the emotional/behavioral issues can be tricky in dementia patients, but they might be worth considering. Or there might be other things the doctor can suggest.

    4. Reba*

      So sorry, that’s really difficult. Even without pandemics this is hard!

      Please address the car thing ASAP. It’s extremely fraught because car = independence, “normal life.” But it’s so dangerous. My grands’ doctor conducted a test for them and licenses were first restricted — but then they couldn’t obey/remember the restrictions — so then revoked.

    5. Llellayena*

      What about putting reminder notes where he’ll see them when her tries to leave? “Your club is closed, you don’t need to go there.” “There’s a virus making many people sick, we need to stay inside.” It takes the burden off of a person to try to remind him, since the dementia is making him belligerent when a person tries to convince him.

    6. Voluptuousfire*

      :fist bump of solidarity: I’m the primary caretaker of my 84 year old dad and he’s got some stripe of dementia. Luckily he’s ok-ish but I completely understand the idea of mentally preparing for their passing.

  26. Ada*

    Any ideas on things to do for a caregiver when you can’t really *do* anything for them? My sister-in-law is taking care of my mother-in-law, who had stage 6 Alzheimer’s, in addition to her two young kids and working a job of her own. If we were nearby, I’m sure we’d be over practically everyday to help, but she’s clear on the other side of the country, so we can’t provide a break that way.

    Back when my husband was working, he’d provide every other paycheck to her (which wasn’t nearly enough to make even a dent in the cost of her treatments), but he ended up dealing with health issues and has been mostly out of work for the past few years, and sending a portion of my salary wasn’t an option, because I was barely making enough for the two of us to scrape by (I’m talking the occasionally skipping meals to make sure we could put a tiny bit of money into emergency savings kind of scraping by). We’re doing a little better now, but only by enough to start rebuilding our own finances to what they should be.

    My husband was never that close to his sister, and they fought a lot growing up. He’s tried to at least reach out on an emotional level, but she doesn’t seem to be interested in that right now, especially coming from someone who’s not providing any real help. So we’re really at a loss as to what to do. It’s not right to have her shoulder the entire responsibility herself, but without a way to help in person or financially, I don’t know what other options we have. (And for the record, we have tried asking her how we can help, and offering to do research/look up resources for her, and she turned us down. But based on certain messages she’s sent my husband, we know she’s upset he’s not helping more.)

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      She’s upset he’s not sending her every other paycheck. That’s what’s really got her bugged.

      I’ve read your post twice and it seems all she wants is the money. Since that’s not an option for you anymore, and she’s refused all your other offers of help, there really isn’t anything you can do for her. You’ve done all you can for her, so stop beating yourself up for not doing more.

      Sometimes family sucks.

      1. Fulana del Tal*

        That’s really negative view of the SIL. She is taking on all the physical, emotional and now financial stress of caring for MIL. That’s what she needs help with. It’s an unfortunate situation but no one in this situation sucks.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          Yeah, no, she’s turned down all the other non-financial aid they’ve offered. She wants the money and isn’t interested in anything else.

          1. fposte*

            I think it’s likelier that this is somebody who’s stressed and unhappy and overwhelmed with being sole caretaker for a very high-maintenance patient, that between finances and coronavirus she feels that more keenly than ever, and the loss of the financial contribution made it clear how absolutely alone in this she is. In a situation like that, there often isn’t anything you can do at a distance but send money–it often takes more work to give people the necessary information and details than it does to handle bureaucracy directly–and now even that’s gone.

            That doesn’t mean Ada and her husband are making a wrong choice here either, but I think Sister gets to be bitter about her lot here without being considered mercenary.

            1. Viette*

              Yeah. Everyone’s who’s on here ripping into the sister-in-law because she ‘just wants money’ — she probably *does* want money! The OP said that every other paycheck “wasn’t nearly enough to make even a dent in the cost of her treatments”. The OP is broke but by all accounts so is SIL. Her brother can’t physically attend to their mother, and for all that he wants to help her, SIL is clearly bearing a huge burden that he is not. He’s not moving across the country to help her (which is difficult and costly but it *is* a thing some people do), just offering emotional support.

              When you’re exhausted and/or really broke and someone says, “no money or physical labor but what *else* can I do for you right now,” often the first thought in your head is, “supportive emotional conversations do not pay my bills or get my work done on time.”

          2. Fulana del Tal*

            Yeah, no , asking to up look up resources is little help to what the SIL actually needs which is respite caretaking/financial. If that’s the only help being offered it’s useless to SIL. It assume those options weren’t already researched. It doesn’t make anyone the bad guy it’s just the reality of the situation.

          3. Sunset Maple*

            Do you have any idea what stage 6 looks like? MIL has lost control of her bodily functions and she’s wandering while losing mobility and depth perception, which means that she needs constant attention, is soiling herself, and is probably breaking household items. She’s probably lost facial recognition, and is likely violent towards her caretakers.

            Someone working a job, caring for children, and looking after someone in stage 6 is losing her damned mind, not looking for a payout. Being bitter and lashing out isn’t helpful, but it’s understandable.

          4. Traffic_Spiral*

            But they don’t have any meaningful non-financial aid to give, do they? Like another poster said, “aw how sad, would you like my google search of things you could do better” isn’t help, it’s 2 degrees removed from saying “have you tried MLM essential oils for your chronic disease?”

            I get that OP’s in a rough spot, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s dumped all the care of his mom onto his sister, and that’s the sort of thing that makes a sibling angry.

          5. Observer*

            What have they actually offered her? She doesn’t need a shoulder to cry on – at least not from someone who is too distant to really understand what she is dealing with and “doing research and connecting … with resources” doesn’t really do much for her.

            I get that the OP is not in a position to do much else – this is totally not their fault and they shouldn’t beat themselves up about it. But you really need to back off. SIL is taking on a huge task which has been made exponentially more difficult in the current situation. She is not being totally reasonable, but it is totally understandable to anyone who has dealt with that kinds of thing.

    2. Tex*

      Can you entertain the kids or the mom for an hour or so every day via the internet? Face time or zoom? Maybe be the one to read them a bed time story (or help with homework) so your SIL can get an hour to herself?

      1. Sam I Am*

        You can play board games with the kids via video chat too, keep the monopoly or candy land or chutes and ladders board set up at your place and play for 30 minutes each day until the game finally ends?

      2. Ada*

        This is actually a really good idea! The kids are just now getting old enough that this could work. Maybe we can coordinate with my BIL so he can take care of my MIL while we occupy the kids on a regular basis so my SIL can get a little rest. We’ll suggest it and see if we can work something out. Thanks!!!

    3. Jen Erik*

      I think asking is the right thing to do, particularly if she’s telling you that she’s upset.

      My mum ended up being the sibling mostly looking after her mum, and it turn I was the sibling looking after her. I think it was a privilege, and I’m glad and grateful I got to do it, but it was hard, and I did sometimes resent that everything landed on my shoulders. The only thing I can think of – and you sound lovely, you’re probably doing this – is don’t critisise, and be really, really careful about making helpful suggestions because it’s easy to hear them as critisism. And perhaps your part of the burden is to allow her to be upset without holding it against her. She must be very stressed.

      I did also appreciate, though I wouldn’t have thought to ask for it, that after my mum passed my siblings… this is hard to put into words, but they prioritised my feelings and needs over their own. Like in discussions about the funeral, or who took what from the house, they made a point of putting me first. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate, for example, having the headstone the way I thought it should be.

    4. valentine*

      You can tell her flat that you’re at a loss because she’s having it both ways, and that either she tells you what she wants or stops complaining. After all, un- and underemployment, especially when you could now really use the money you gave them, is a massive stressor that hubs and you are dealing with. She needs to vent elsewhere.

      And if you can build up your savings, hold on to them.

      1. fposte*

        That seems harsh. She’s the sole caretaker for the man’s mother; he should at least be able to contribute a sympathetic ear.

      2. Fulana del Tal*

        That’s way harsh. SIL is not complaining. LW knows what the SIL needs, just can’t provide it. The SIL probably doesn’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with her brother’s feeling/guilt about the situation.

      3. Traffic_Spiral*

        What she wants is pretty straightforward: for her brother to share the responsibility of caring for their mother.

        1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

          This. SIL is doing all the work. Brother, none of it.

    5. misspiggy*

      Is your husband able to earn any part time money to send to his sister using sites like TaskRabbit?

      Are you able to find and apply for sources of government or charity support (with your SIL’s permission?)

    6. allathian*

      That must be awful for her. I just hope the Alzheimer patient has a DNR? If I ever get dementia, I sure hope I’ll have the guts to kill myself before things get that bad. Her quality of life is zero and she’s putting her relatives through hell for no good reason. I’d stop the treatments and let her die.

    7. Sam I Am*

      I’m the distant child, and my older sibling the present child. I made sure (more than once) my older sibling knew that I saw his burden, and thanked him for carrying it. He was welcome to share about it with me, but generally declined unless we were talking logistics about our parent.

      This will not solve the problem, but if you are able, let them know you see the burden even though you know you can’t thoroughly comprehend it; acknowledge the difficulty and be prepared to take some lumps. If she opens up and says “this is so difficult to do by myself,” it isn’t something to be argued against, it’s something to be acknowledged. Let her know you see how hard it is. She may not be ready to “engage” on an emotional level, but I bet it’s important for her to hear that her efforts are recognized.

      If you haven’t read it before, the “Ring Theory of Care” talks about how to help those at the core of the situation, and from whom to seek support for yourself; you’re in one of the rings, too. Good luck to you all.

    8. Ada*

      Thanks everyone! For the record, we agree with Fulana del Tal, fposte, etc’s take. It’s a shitty situation all around, and my SIL is 100% entitled to feel bitter about the whole thing. It’s not fair and it’s not right that she’s getting stuck with all this with limited to no help from us.

      It’s not healthy for us to beat ourselves up for not having the ability to help as much as we’d like, but at the same time, we’re never going to be the kind of people to just shrug our shoulders and say “Oh well, nothing we can do; life’s just not fair.” So we’re going to keep looking for SOMETHING we can contribute, and we’ll contribute more as we’re able.

      We’ll see if we can coordinate us entertaining the kids online while our BIL takes care of my MIL so maybe SIL can at least count on getting a regular break. And we’ll look into The Ring Theory Of Care, too. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!

      1. Former Employee*

        Maybe through AARP or Council on Aging you can find some respite care for your MIL to give your SIL a break. I believe it’s free. Also, there could be help through their religious community, if applicable.

        I certainly hope that MIL is getting Social Security and that the money is going to SIL/BIL to care for MIL. I’m not clear as to why treatment is expensive, since I would think that MIL is covered under Medicare and possibly Medicaid, too.

        Best of luck to you and your family.

  27. LQ*

    I feel like I’m saying this every week now. But I’m so damn lonely. I don’t have time to myself. I don’t have time to recharge my batteries. I don’t get much of any physical touch normally. Heck, my sister and friend are reaching out to me more often now than before. But I’m just so lonely. I feel like I’m drowning in all of this and completely empty of all reserves to have anything left to give. But I feel that every single moment I take for myself (typing a message here even) is a selfish and vulgar act. And so I just feel horrible.

    I can know other things but the feelings are drowning me.

    1. Ranon*

      Are you able to reset your body? Feelings are in our brains but they’re also cocktails of chemicals floating through your body. Sunshine, movement, heck a good long cry can all help reset the chemical mix to some extent.

      This is hard, you’re doing a good job. Try, if you can, to shut down the meta feelings about feelings- there’s enough feelings to go around without adding another layer to them! I hope you find some peace today.

      1. LQ*

        No, no real time to reset anything. I took an hour this morning to read and then beat myself up over it. I think the trying to stop meta feelings is a good suggestion. Because I can attack metafeelings with metafeelings and just focus on what is there.

    2. Choggy*

      How about reaching out to someone in need? Are there any volunteer opportunities you can do virtually? When I am the most down, I can usually turn it around by helping someone else.

      1. LQ*

        This is usually what I aim for. But I’m giving all the money I can afford to give right now. And the time is so limited because of the number of hours I’m working. Maybe I can try to at least do a little galaxy zoo something at the end of the day.

        1. valentine*

          I’m giving all the money I can afford to give right now.
          This doesn’t serve you. Just because you have it doesn’t mean you have it to give. You’re better off saving it for the uncertain future.

          I don’t understand the guilt. You feel there is a bottomless well of need you’re responsible to fill, and that you’re not allowed to do anything but work? Not so. Any chance of a chat with a therapist?

    3. LGC*

      Jedi hugs, man. I’m so sorry.

      And I kind of get the feeling – I’ve been going through that myself. (With an added dash of anger at how selfish everyone else is and guilt at how selfish I’ve been.) But to address your point about every single moment you take for yourself feeling like a selfish and vulgar act…what do you think wouldn’t be a selfish and vulgar act? What can you do that wouldn’t be a selfish and vulgar act?

      Apologies if this is a bit triggery, but…

      …so, like, you know how on flights, when the flight attendant instructs you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others put on theirs? That’s in large part because you’re able to help others better when your needs are taken care of. If you’re compromised (in this case, because of smoke inhalation), you’re not able to be there for others. So you do need at least some degree of self-care.

      But also, I remember recently reading something about a study done in multiple countries, including the United States, where people were instructed to do things to make themselves feel better. In the other countries, people tended to do more outward-facing things (like volunteering), and that had marked effects on their happiness. In the US, we (and I’m American here, so that’s why I say “we”) tended to do more inward-facing things (like taking a yoga class), and that didn’t help as much, if at all. Find a way to help – if you’re crafty, sew fabric masks for Jo-Ann, for example! I’m trying to look for local food banks in my community to donate to, myself – the one in my town mostly closed, but there are others still running. (If you don’t have the money to do so, that’s fine.) If you can volunteer to be the Outside Person for someone, that’s great. If you can be an ear for someone, that’s great, too.

      And I need to take my own damn advice, frankly.

      1. LQ*

        What isn’t selfish and vulgar is the other thing we aren’t supposed to talk about here. (Work.)

        I am donating all the money I possibly can.
        I feel too wiped out to be an ear for anyone else. I can barely respond when people reach out to me to check in on me.
        I know the research around giving/volunteering/helping is really strong, and normally I lean into that but I’m struggling with that now because I’m struggling with everything. But I think this is a good reminder to try harder.

          1. LQ*

            Hm. This is a goodish question? Get rest is the thing I keep telling people. “I need you with a fresh brain so get rest.” I haven’t been talking to a lot of others outside work which I think makes it weirder because my human world is smaller. I don’t get to talk about like regular things. I kind of crave a stupid conversation about a movie I haven’t seen. The best conversation I had this week was about lack of yeast in stores and sourdough starters. Because it felt weird (because no yeast) but human. I think not feeling human is hurting.

        1. LGC*

          Then…you’re already doing a lot. You’re doing a ton, actually! (And I apologize that I assumed you weren’t doing all these things.)

          It sounds like you’re struggling with not being able to fix everything, when so much needs to be fixed. (To put it extremely mildly and apolitically.) Like Aspiring Chicken Lady said – if you had a friend that was burned out because they were trying to do ALL THE THINGS, what advice would you give them? Maybe your job here is to just contribute.

          Alternately…maybe donating money isn’t fulfilling for you. Or at least, fulfilling enough for you.

          1. LQ*

            The money feels so meaningless in the sea of everything right now. Maybe one of the things I need to do is…something. Clean. Something that ends and feels like it’s tangible. I’ll never be able to help enough people. That will never be done. But laundry can be Done. And then I can go back to feeling bad about the next 100,000 people I haven’t helped yet.

            1. LGC*

              Maybe! That’s what I mean when I say it’s not fulfilling – you ARE doing something that helps a lot, but you personally feel like it’s not helping. What’s almost as important as doing what others need is helping out in a way that you’re happy with.

              Also, I think you know this intellectually, but you can’t boil the ocean. You’re one person with one person’s resources – you might only be able to save that one person. It’s not up to you personally to save the next 100,000.

            2. allathian*

              Sounds like you need to help yourself before you can help others.
              Sometimes the best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel selfish. Maybe instead of giving to charity, you could spend that money on online therapy?
              One person can’t save the world, so I hope you find the way to convince yourself that you’re not useless or unworthy because you can’t do the impossible.
              I’m not religious at all, but the serenity prayer is something I think about when I’m feeling overwhelmed:
              “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    4. Koala dreams*

      Feelings are what they are, but we can try to change our thinking about the feelings. I read in a book about feelings being like birds flying around. They fly nearby, they fly away, they come back, they leave for warmer climate, flying here and there. You can observe the birds (feelings), but remember that they come and go.

      Can you reach out to friends or relatives who can help reminding you to take care of yourself? Do you have any ideas what would make you feel better? Reading, music, taking a walk, crafts, more sleep? It’s important to help others, but it’s also important to reach out for help. When you reach out for help, other people get the chance to be helpful and feel useful. That way everybody can feel good and we can build up our community. I don’t mean that everybody must help equal amount of time, just that most people have something they can help with, and something they need from others.

    5. Not A Manager*

      So, I’m going to go in an opposite direction. You sound like a very conscientious person who is not used to prioritizing yourself. Can you enlist this internal judgmental and bossy voice to tell you to support yourself?

      You want to be an effective employee, community member, and human being. The only way to achieve that is to keep yourself in good working order. So, part of your assignment is to stretch every day, have a glass of wine, read a book, talk to a friend (fill in with whatever is actually relaxing and enjoyable for you). Have your internal boss sternly tell you that this is not optional, you don’t get to decide you don’t feel like doing it, it’s an assignment like any other assignment because you have to stay functional.

      Make a star chart or some other way to keep track of and reward yourself for doing these each day.

      I really hope that you find a way to make self-care allowable instead of something that causes you to feel guilty.

      1. Wandering*

        Yes, this. Don’t get to the point where in order to help others you need five people holding you together. Your work feels like you are making a difference and you are prioritizing that. Good. You are helping your teams take care of themselves. Good. Model doing the same for yourself. Most people have to choose between helping with money and helping with time, very few do both. You’re already helping financially. Take care of yourself, so that you can continue to the work and supervise the staff to meet those needs.

        There will always be more good to do in the world than anyone can do. There will always be more need than we ourselves can meet. That means we find our pieces to do, and leave the rest for others to pick up as is right for them. Taking care of yourself is the responsible thing to do. Be easy on yourself; you are already doing so much.

      2. Kiwi with laser beams*

        This is what I’ve been doing. My specialist recently told me I have to make lifestyle changes now or I’ll get very sick in future. Said lifestyle changes involve working less overtime so that I can exercise more and rest properly after exercising. April was always going to be the month when I started that, since by the time I figured out that the W-thing was the problem, I had a bunch of deadlines that it would have been difficult to change, but now that April is here and all this is happening, I feel guilty about taking care of myself. So I’ve been telling myself that my specialist will not thank me if I tell him that I’ve self-sabotaged out of guilt. The best way I can make his job easier, other than following the lockdown rules and not taking pandemic-related frustrations out on him, is by doing my honest best to take care of myself around this.

  28. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    A lot of our snow has melted, and soon the ground will be softening up. My tomato seedlings are doing really well and my pepper seeds have started. It finally feels like spring!

    I have a bunch of different seeds (carrots, beans, lettuce, herbs) that I should plant as this will likely be a year where farmers will have fewer workers to support them, but the only thing that does well for me are the tomatoes. Maybe I’ll be lucky this year?

    1. GoryDetails*

      Ah, yes, garden… My procrastination is epic, but I did manage to pick up some potting soil at the garden center, so I can start seedlings from the seeds I already had on hand. [If I can find them. They’re… in the basement. Ahem.] And any minute now I’m going to start clearing the leaves and pruning back the wild roses and cleaning up all the left-from-last-season yard-and-garden stuff. (Lucky for me it’s been raining; another excuse to put off the outdoor chores! Doesn’t excuse putting off the indoor chores, but I’ll take what excuses I can get.)

      I have been very, very appreciative of my Aerogarden. The last batch of heirloom lettuce is still going strong after three months, and while some of the lettuce varieties are showing signs of age (starting to get bitter, sending up stems instead of leaves) I’ve been able to harvest lots of fresh greens for salads, and pluck a few leaves for sandwiches or even just to snack on.

      Outside, the snowdrops and crocuses are still blooming (though the latter got hammered by a hailstorm), and the daffodils are coming up.

    2. CoffeeforLife*

      I planted 4 bushes (2 types) of blueberries last year and it looks like one of the varietals didn’t make it through the winter. I’m bummed because they needed each other to cross pollinate.

      I wish there was a garden service that came out biweekly and told me what to do. Like, plant this, you have an aphid problem do that to fix, your tomatoes need fertilizer, etc. I require a little bit of handholding .

      1. WellRed*

        These services exist. Put out a call on local social media? on FB yesterday in a local corona group, a gardener offered free phone consults.

    3. Natalie*

      It’s still a little early for planting most things here but I’m starting to plan. Fave plant sale was cancelled, of course, but I was happy to see today that the independent garden center near me is doing online ordering and curbside pickup. I could have ordered seeds anywhere, but I really have to get tomatoes in sets and if I’m not growing tomatoes, why even have a garden in the first place?

    4. fposte*

      I got potting soil and am waiting for seeds to arrive. All my daffodils are late season so they’re just starting, but crocuses and scilla are still out. And peony shoots are coming up, and I love peonies.

    5. WellRed*

      I bought a little window herb garden kit at the grocery store yesterday. Basil, chives and parsley. I also planted some pepper seeds. Now I have to wait to see if anything sprouts. I’ve not been successful in the past but needed to put my hands on something living.

    6. CoffeeforLife*

      Oh! I had the most awesome discovery.

      Last year I bought some blooming hyacinths and after they were spent I threw them in the garage with the intention of storing them properly…but since I’m no gardener and a massive procrastinator they just stayed in a pot on a shelf.

      FF to last week andy partner was like you have something growing in here. The bulbs had started to sprout! I finally had the opportunity to use my planter side table (such a cool find). They are all coming up and my table will be filled with blooms!

    7. Duvie*

      Zone 5b here, with some Zone 6 pockets on the southeast side of the property. Snow crocus, scilla, ground orchid, and windflowers are in bloom, plus a couple of unidentified guest stars. I have thyme, parsley, basil, mint, and romaine growing indoors, and a nice order from Richerts Herbs to look forward to. The garden’s a great place to be in this pandemic; the flowers keep growing, the weeds struggle for supremacy, the bees zip madly around stocking up on pollen and nectar, and the damned earwigs will once again shred my favorite hosta. Life out there continues unchanged.

    8. Reba*

      I bought my mom a bunch of tulip bulbs last year, and she has been sending me daily updates<3
      She had to build a fence around them to hold the deer off, lol.

      I've repotted those that needed repotting and looking forward to moving some plants out onto our little patio soon.

      I've posted before about growing baobabs from seed…. they are 2.5 years old now, and a couple of them are doing so well! They lose leaves in winter naturally, but it is a bit nerve wracking not knowing if they are normal or dead. We have basically no guidance about their cultivation of course! So we have experimentally pruned a couple and they are back-budding nicely.

    9. Queer Earthling*

      We rent and aren’t allowed to plant in the ground, but we got a tomato plant and some herbs to plant in pots in the backyard! We mostly got them because it’s really hard for us to get outside and we know that we’ll need a reason to do so that, obviously, doesn’t involve errands and stuff. So we’re working on that over the next few days.

    10. Blue Eagle*

      Yay! Gardening thread! Our grocery store carries seeds so I purchased two kinds of swiss chard and spinach. Mixed dirt from the compost pile, the raised bed garden and potting soil and distributed it in little cartons. Now all I have to do is actually plant the seeds and I’m on my way to starting seeds to transfer the seedlings to the raised bed garden when it gets warmer.
      No cherry tomatoes this year as last year’s explosion of tomatoes was enough for the next 5 years.

    11. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I really need to get back to work on it. I am thinking about turning my ugly front yard into a mini allotment but I haven’t actually done anything yet. It’s been cold and windy, so that’s my excuse, but really I just don’t want to go do the work.

      Earlier this week I filled up three mini plastic seed starter boxes with various things (I had a shoe box full of seeds that I’ve bought and not used up over the years). So far it looks like everything is sprouting, so I will need to figure out where in the heck to plant it all in a few weeks! I was not expecting everything to actually live. With any luck I will be learning how to can in the autumn.

      1. Venus*

        My excuse for not doing much outside is that insect life hibernates in grasses and leaves over the winter, and they need 3 days in a row of +10C temps in order to come out of hibernation, so I should keep things messy until our days get warmer. I’m happy to hibernate too!

    12. Liane*

      My Pink Attack Rose* has a bunch of buds, which makes me very happy. I fertilized it a month ago (& need to check when it needs more) and sprayed it with Neem Oil (it really does solve my rose pest/fungus problems) this week. I do miss my Yellow Attack Rose, which died last year, the result of a disease I couldn’t get under control followed by a very hot mid/late summer. I am hoping to be able to buy some more rose bushes.

      Haven’t done much other gardening yet, but my son & I are going to repot some of his houseplants this week.

      *It has very large thorns, that’s why (Morticia Addams envies me)

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I planted a bunch of epicly old seeds found when we moved and a startlingly large % of them are coming up! As far back as pepper seeds from 2006.
      So if in doubt, plant those old seeds in a way that you don’t lose out if they don’t sprout.
      But now that means I have to find time between rain storms to get out and prep the new garden bed. Everything is Rocky here, even the terrorists Garden. So I have some honest sweaty labor ahead of me this for this furlough week!

    14. Anonnington*

      I started a ton of seeds indoors in small containers. They’re slowly starting to sprout. I also started some sunflowers outdoors in bigger containers. They’re also sprouting.

      Let’s face it – things are unpredictable right now. I’m growing food in order to save money and have to go to the store less. If I have surplus, I’ve preserve it or give it away.

    15. GoryDetails*

      Argh! I picked up a few herb plants yesterday as a nod towards the beginning of gardening season, and as it was warmish last night I left them outside. This morning the tops of all of them except the thyme had been nibbled away… I guess the rabbits are back! [Now to set up some chicken-wire fencing…]

  29. LGC*

    Week 2 of Pandemic Running (for me – okay, it’s more like week 3 or week…I don’t even know) is almost in the books! How’ve you guys adapted? Can you guys adapt?

    (I’ve discovered the joys of running in 50-degree light rain. Most people stay inside!)

    One thing I’ve actually been trying out is Strava’s updated route generator. It’s only for Summit (paid) subscribers, but it suggests different routes based on heatmaps from people in your area. It’s…kind of useful? It’s a change of pace, at least. Plus, it estimates how long you should take based off of previous runs you’ve done.

    1. Jdc*

      I’m back to running outdoors. My knees aren’t loving it and there are no soft trails here to run. For that reason my outdoor runs are half the length of treadmill runs because my knees start to hurt. Husband found a new trail I could run to so I’m going to check out if it’s at least not concrete on my next run.

      1. LGC*

        Oh man, if you listen to podcasts, I know Run4PRs did one on exactly this subject a week or two ago! From what it sounds like, this is actually normal, since the treadmill is softer than road, so you might need to ramp up slowly.

        Good luck with finding a good (and safe) trail!

        1. Jdc*

          Ya I used to run outside often but lived in an area that had trails. New to the area so figuring it out.

    2. A bit of a saga*

      Good tip on the route generator, I’ll try it! We’re at the end of week 3 here of semi-lockdown – allowed out for runs, but only close to your home. The biggest adjustment on my end is that I have split with my partner (I wrote about that last week, we just decided it’s permanent so quite a blow) and seeing that schools are closed when I have the kids I have them All The Time! and thus can’t get out. BUT this week I don’t and the weather is supposed to be beautiful. I’ve signed up for a couple of online races to keep motivated and have set a new race plan for the autumn. Good luck to us all and keep running!

      1. LGC*

        Yeah, I saw – that sucks, and I’m sorry about that. (I mean, I think you said it was coming for a while, but it’s still pretty rough.)

        That reminds me that I’ve been meaning to do a couple of online races. I actually saw one in the NYT Running newsletter which is a fundraiser for the US CDC’s Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund that I’m going to sign up for. (It’s on May 1.)

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

      I, too, intentionally ran when it was 47 degrees and drizzling this morning instead of waiting for it to be 59 degrees and sunny later, because I knew there’d be less people out.

      I’m definitely making lemonade out of lemons. This whole situation is freaky at best, but running has helped with my anxiety, and I’m really thankful that my knee has recovered enough that I can get out there. I’m also enjoying running routes that I’d ordinarily never be able to run, due to minimal traffic. I’m slowly getting my mileage back up. This morning I ran 8 miles, the most since my knee got banged up last November.

      1. A bit of a saga*

        Yes, I’m also so happy to be a runner – it definitely helps keep me sane in these crazy times. And great news on the knee!

      2. LGC*

        Yeah, I think if there’s anything good about this it allows me to sightsee and run places where I normally would feel unsafe (or otherwise uncomfortable) running.

        That’s awesome that you’ve been able to get your mileage up! I’m in a bit of the same boat right now – I haven’t run fast for the past couple of weeks, but I have been trying to run longer. About to go for one of my longest runs since NYC this morning. (I think I’ve gotten up to 16, and I might do 15 today just for the heck of it.)

    4. Lulubell*

      I’ve been using Peloton’s guided runs and I love them! I downloaded the Peloton app which is giving a 90-day free trial right now. I don’t have the bike or have any interest in getting the bike, but the app has a ton of workouts, including treadmill and outdoor runs. (I don’t have a treadmill either and just do the run outdoors.) I find them very motivational to have someone in my ear keeping me going, plus the playlists are a nice change from my regular music. Definitely been the best thing to come out of this pandemic, thus far.

      1. LGC*

        …today I learned that Peloton has guided runs you can use outdoors.

        (I’m so used to thinking of Peloton as an Inside thing with their bikes and their treadmills.)

    5. A bit of a saga*

      Hey LGC, used the route generator for a nice run this morning. Got a tad lost a couple of times but it was really lovely to see something new and I’ve now downloaded most of their suggestions. So thanks for the tip:-)

    6. Emily*

      Yes to the rain! I’ve begun getting excited about “bad” weather (not truly bad, like 20°F and sleet, but mildly bad, like 35°F and a light drizzle) because it acts as a deterrent for most of the people who only started showing up on my usual running routes after my area’s stay-at-home order went into effect. I totally understand why people want to be outside right now, but the groups who spread out across the path and then don’t move over when others are near them drive me nuts.

      I read that there’s a possibility (not conclusive) that really long or hard runs can weaken your immune system for a short period afterwards. In case that’s true, I’ve been maintaining the same running volume as before but trying to keep most of my runs at an easy effort.

      1. LGC*

        There actually is some research on it! For what it’s worth, it’s anecdotally true – after I ran my first half marathon (which I was not trained for, really), I came down with a bad cold for two weeks. (And this was in September 2017, so outside of cold/flu season. It was miserable – I ran the race mid-September, and didn’t feel like myself until October.) I’ve made it a point to schedule about a week off work for fulls and a day off for halfs since.

        …well, as I’ve gotten more experienced, I don’t really take time off for half marathons anymore (since I don’t need to as much), but I still keep it up for most full marathons.

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

        There’s some truth to that. A couple of times, when training for a marathon, I’ve gotten hit with colds either in the “taper” stage (just after completing my last long run) or midway through training, just when my mileage was starting to get up there.

        It’s a good reminder that’s going to make me think twice about upping my mileage. Sigh

  30. Wander*

    Has anyone ever had a cat who throws up frequently (but not from furballs and/or overeating) and figured out what caused it or how to help?

    Two of my cats throw up at least weekly, usually just bile. One, I think, just has a sensitive stomach; she’ll smell food she doesn’t like and throw up, or try to eat something with a texture she doesn’t care for and vomit. The other though doesn’t seem to have any triggers. He just does it. Always just bile (and I’m pretty sure he’s eating normally – we have a slow feeder, and he certainly hasn’t lost weight – and I know he drinks a lot). He’s about 10 years old, short fur, no known health problems other than iris atrophy.

    We’ve tried a couple different foods – sensitive stomach, weight control, multiple cats – with no apparent difference. We’ve taken him to the vet a couple times when it’s gotten to be multiple times a day, multiple days in a row, but each time everything’s come back fine – no blockage, he’s hydrated, infections panel came back clear, his teeth are great despite it all.

    Any ideas? I’m sure it’s deeply unpleasant for them, and also I’m tired of having to clean it up daily.

    1. TimeCat*

      My vet recommended putting a ping pong ball in my cat’s food dish to force him to slow down a bit. It worked a little.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If you have a muffin tin, you can try that too — sprinkle the food across inside the cups, or turn the tin upside down and sprinkle it around the raised bits. With the upside down, they are more likely to fish the food out one or two pieces at a time with their paws, which slows them down more. (If you have a cat who is extra sensitive about their whiskers, they may not be willing to stick their face into the cups, if you go right-side-up, so watch them the first couple times, if you try this.)

      2. Wander*

        He’s actually already on a slow feeder! It’s a dish with protrusions that he can’t stick his head in. He did eat way too fast and throw up before, but we’ve had the slow feeder for a couple years now, and it has slowed him down significantly. He has to paw his food out now and can usually only get a few pieces at a time. Before we had it, he’d throw up immediately after eating, and the food would be obvious. Now it’s just random – he’ll sleep or hang out lazily for hours, then just walk a few feet away and heave. No obvious food, no hairballs. It’s either just liquid or very, very digested sludge.

    2. Asenath*

      Oh, yes, the late Mandy, Empress of the World, was exactly like that. It didn’t bother her, wasn’t a health issue (she lived a long, active life), but I ended up clearing up the mess. The vet said she was a ‘chronic vomiter’ (it’s funny how giving something a name, even one like that, seems to help!) The advice was to slow down her eating, which you’re doing. It helped, and so did stopping the canned food she adored. But nothing totally eliminated the problem. I just sighed and cleaned up the mess.

      1. Wander*

        Thank you; that’s good to know. I was half worried my vet was missing something important, so it’s heartening to know that other cats with the same problem had good lives.

    3. Aly_b*

      This was happening to a friend’s cat and it seemed to help when they raised his food dish up like 6” off the floor so he wasn’t bending over to eat anymore.

      1. Wander*

        Interesting. That might be kind of awkward for their bowls, since the design is that they paw food out, but maybe if it was like a platform so the pawed out food would still be higher… I might have to play around with that idea.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m starting to suspect Jill (new kitty) is similar. She’s throwing up bile a couple times a week, and its not correlated to feeding times. I just clean it up. At least it’s easy to clean up. Next time she’s in the vet, I’ll ask the vet.

      1. Wander*

        I swear mine try to make it as difficult as possible to clean up. The one with a sensitive stomach will run for the carpet (at least 75% of my home isn’t carpeted), and the one who I have no explanation for feels the need to hide his mess, so if you’re not there to immediately stop him, he’ll drag anything not nailed down to put over top of it. Toys, shoes, the blanket off the top of the couch, occasionally even an open door – if he can move it, he can and will try to bury his vomit with it. I love him, and that burying behavior is something he does in other areas too, but he’s not helping nearly as much as he thinks he is.

        Good luck with your new kitty! Hopefully your vet will be able to help.

    5. Queer Earthling*

      We switched to sensitive stomach and initially it ramped up the vomit….and then once he adapted, it helped. It took a month or so but he hardly throws up anymore, except on special occasions, such as when he hears us talk about how he doesn’t throw up much anymore.

      1. Wander*

        I’m glad it worked out for you! They do totally listen and wait, don’t they? Like ah yes, they’ve acknowledged a sense of security, so now is the perfect time to change that.

    6. Miki*

      Have you checked her thyroid?
      My sister’s cat (14) had that, and it turned out to be hyperthyroidism. She’s on the twice daily medicine and hasn’t vomited since they started treatment.

      1. Flabbernabbit*

        Thyroid, seconded. My cat was vomiting daily also. A minefield getting out of bed each morning and the cat was losing weight. Get a blood test. Same result after twice daily medication. Vomit free! Fat cat!

    7. Anono-me*

      Fyi, my experiences with dogs not cats, but I suspect it might apply to both.

      Is it possible that one or both of them is drinking their water too fast? Too much water hitting the tummy can cause upset also.

      Putting a big chunk of ice in a cake pan to slowly melt can make sure that a dog gets enough water without doing the scarf and barf. Also some pet stores carry an attachment that goes on the outside water faucet. The attachment is an oversized version of what would be attached to a gerbils water bottle.

      I hope the kitties tummies settle down soon.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Caveat to that ice idea… My dog used to take ice cubes and drop them in random places when she was done chewing on them. Teenager me developed an unreasoning disgust with wet socks as a result.

    8. Amethyst*

      I currently have a cat with a very sensitive stomach. Long story short, I wound up switching my two cats to a grain-free dry food (American Journey) & it’s greatly lessened her puke sessions.

      If you do that, make sure the food actually *is* grain-free. Some brands will label it as that but they still have byproducts within the ingredient list.

    9. Windchime*

      My older cat was doing this when he had a bad case of tooth decay. You mention that your kitty’s teeth are fine. My cat had really stinky breath and the first vet I took him to didn’t seem to think his teeth were so bad. But the second vet was horrified and said he had terrible tooth decay. He ended up having bunch of teeth removed and almost immediately the constant, random barfing stopped.

      Current kitty throws up infrequently, and it’s almost always accompanied by a giant hairball.

  31. Misty*

    Anyone else feeling numb?

    The first three weeks of social distancing/staying home all the time, I was an anxious/sad mess. But now I feel like my brain couldn’t take any more stress or any more bad news. Any time I hear the news or anyone tells me anything, it seems like my brain doesn’t even process it. I just shrug and go back to scrolling the internet/napping.

    It’s not that I don’t want to care, it’s more like my brain just couldn’t deal anymore so now I’m just here.

    1. alex b*

      YES. I have been in treatment for PTSD and anxiety for years, and you’d think I’d be a wreck, but I’m totally calm and, yeah, numb right now.

      The other day, my therapist was like, “So, you’re not feeling anxious about _[getting sick, the state of affairs, etc.]___?” and honestly, no. No, I’m not.

      I think I’m actually coping better than many people because…. as you said, *shrug*. For much of my life, I’ve existed in a state of dread, so this is no different. I’m beyond bored with posts and articles about it. It’ll pass; if it doesn’t, then there we will be.

      And I’m with you—it’s truly not that I don’t care that people are suffering, and I’m being responsible and doing my little part. But…. meh. I can’t process the identical stories, warnings, advisories, etc. anymore. I’m also “just here.”

      So, anyway, I hope you have an ok weekend! Cheers to distractions!

      1. Misty*

        “For much of my life, I’ve existed in a state of dread, so this is no different”

        Yep I totally feel this. I also have PTSD and anxiety and am in treatment for it. It’s kind of a helpful response because beyond staying home (which I’m doing 24/7) it’s not like there is much I can do anyways to stop the current events so in a way I’m glad I’m not panicking any longer.

        1. alex b*

          Thanks for replying; wishing you well from afar. I am with you about feeling grateful for not feeling panic anymore.
          PTSD: it sucks, but maybe now it’s helpful in keeping us saner than others.

          1. Misty*

            I’ve learned to cope with my PTSD. Now it lives along side me most of the times, if that makes sense. I am grateful that it seems to be a benefit or at the very least a neutral influence in this case.

            I hope you have a great upcoming week and stay well. Would love to hear how you’re doing in a few weeks (or whenever) if you feel like posting in the future. It’s always nice to read someone’s experience that resonates with my own!

    2. alex b*

      YES. I have been in treatment for PTSD and anxiety for years, and you’d think I’d be a wreck, but I’m totally calm and, yeah, numb right now.

      The other day, my therapist was like, “So, you’re not feeling anxious about _[getting sick, the state of affairs, etc]___?” and honestly, no. No, I’m not.

      I think I’m actually coping better than most people because…. as you said, *shrug*. Much of my life I’ve existed in a state of dread, so this is no different. I’m beyond bored with posts and articles about it. It’ll pass; if it doesn’t, then there we will be.

      And I’m with you—it’s truly not that I don’t care that people are suffering, and I’m being responsible and doing my little part. But…. meh. I can’t process the identical stories, warnings, advisories, etc. anymore. I’m also “just here.”

      So, I hope you have an ok weekend! Cheers to distractions!

    3. Chaordic One*

      I think this is a normal thing for some people and in a way, it is probably a healthy response. You can only take so much stress. The fact that you’re aware of how you are feeling is a good thing.

      Do what you can to be good to yourself. Continue to get enough sleep and to eat well. Exercise if you can. Limit your news listening and watching. If you’re self-isolating, use the time to clean or read or watch movies that you’ve been wanting to see.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I wouldn’t say numb, but I also am not terribly worried/anxious. Kinda meh. I am following the news, but the emotions aren’t really impacting. Its very detached and more intellectual for me. I think for me it’s personality based. A few weeks ago, I was much more worried, because there was stuff I wasn’t doing that I needed to be doing (ie, stock up and then just stay home). Now that I am doing what I can, it’s like my brain has completely moved on. However, this approach does seem to really piss off people with certain personality types/highly stressed/something, so I try to rein it in online.

      1. alex b*

        Perfectly said. Thanks for this articulation.

        (and I apologize to those in the thread for double-posting by accident)

      2. Filosofickle*

        A helpful construct may be that, in the stages of grief, it sounds like you’re at Acceptance. You’ve moved past the agitated stuff and into living with the change. (People who are stressed and pissed may think you’re in Denial.)

      3. TL -*

        Yup. I’m doing what I can, our government is responding (they could be responding better, but there is a response and it is addressing the needs, albeit not entirely) and things will get better eventually. I will continue doing what I can, but honestly, this too shall pass.
        Several of my friends are in ‘end of the world’ mode and they’re less than impressed by my attitude.

    5. =^-^=*

      Hey Misty, I just wanted to say thanks – a couple of weeks ago I posted about feeling more and more anxious and you very kindly posted a link to an eagle cam which you said helped you calm down. I think the body can only hold so much anxiety before you adapt to the “new normal”. I don’t feel numb exactly but this is starting to feel normal to me now. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you and wishing you well.

      1. Misty*

        Great to hear from you! I love those eagles! Let us know how you’re doing in a few weeks if you want to. I agree with you on the body only being able to hold onto so much anxiety.

        Keeping you in my thoughts this upcoming week.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m with you on that numbness. It’s like when they put up a tent hospital in Central Park, I shut down.
      I don’t like this, it feels like how I got when I was a kid and lost a half-dozen close family members in less than 2 years.

      1. Misty*

        I’m sorry about your family members. Stay safe and take care of yourself best you can. You’re in my thoughts this upcoming week.

  32. Always Anon*

    Just wanted to thank the person in Japan who several weeks ago suggested buying toilet paper. I was able to buy here in the US before the hoarding started! Stay safe and well everyone!

    1. WellRed*

      I’m beginning to think my local store just stopped receiving TP. Which is ridiculous of course.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        There is a really helpful article on vox.com about the toilet paper shortages and why they won’t resolve quickly. The short version – tp manufacturers were already producing at capacity + people expecting long lock downs are buying much more than their usual amounts + consumers now have to meet all of their tp needs at home unlike the recent past when we all used the tp at work and at restaurants, etc. as well as a smaller portion than now, at home. Add all that to the fact that the manufacturers make basically two kinds, but only sell one to the public (commercial = the fluffy, luxurious stuff we all buy, industrial = the thin, scratchy stuff that schools, hospitals, restaurants and workplaces buy), and you have a big, slow problem about resetting the supply. Makes sense, but unless they start selling the scratchy stuff to retailers and convincing the public that they want it (and we DO!), the only changeable variable of all of these is the length of time we are locked down. As long as we are told to stay home, this may not improve for a while.

        I asked a fellow customer in a supermarket this week why he had a cartful of dinner napkins. You guessed it – he was out of tp and planning to cut up the napkins into tp-sized pieces to tide him over. He had already tested out tissues, which he preferred over paper towels (too scratchy). I admired his resourcefulness & creativity. We both had a good chuckle.

        1. Dan*

          I… have a confession to make.

          Right before lockdown was a thing (sometime in early/mid-March) and the TP run was starting to be a thing, I realized I had three rolls left. I went to Target, and the only thing left was 24 packs of Charmin at $20/piece. I was like crap, what’s up with this? I bought two, because I wasn’t sure how much I should get.

          And then when I got home I thought about it and realized I probably go through one roll a week, if that, so 48 rolls is going to last me a year.

          I felt guilty.

          And then I went to Target again a few days ago, and there was absolutely 100% nothing in the paper products section.

          I felt less guilty. But I know I helped contribute to the bare shelves.

          1. valentine*

            You’re not the problem, Dan. The problem is people loading up carts, especially those who planned to sell it. And I doubt they’re going to hold on to it for a year. When the coast is clear, they’ll want their space back.

            I’ve been thinking of the massive food coming when people trash their hoards.

            1. Dan*


              As for the arbitrage minded people… I respect a little hustle, I really do. I read story on MSN that was linked to either from here or the Washington Post a couple of weeks ago, and some dudes had rented a U Haul to pick up hand sanitizer. They said they ended up with like 17,000 bottles that they were going to sell. Then, Amazon and Ebay delisted sales of those products, so they’re stuck with them. Serves ’em right.

              But now the store shelves are empty and they have no product, so people who actually need them can’t buy them. F’ers.

              1. nonegiven*

                I read that the state was going to confiscate the whole shebang so he was at his storage space trying to donate it to local first responders.

            2. nonegiven*

              I saw a sign in the store last week that the ‘popular products’ (the ones they had to limit) are NOT returnable.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            What valentine said–you only bought two, so you’re fine.

            I got a 12-pack three weeks ago and only just now broke into it. A week or so ago, they had 18-packs, and I got one because I know my mum only has one 9-pack of hers left. So I had 30 rolls. 29 now, but I’m deliberately using less, so I shouldn’t have to buy it anytime soon.

            I guess I could do the hand/water thing to wipe my butt if we run out completely for a long while. If millions of other people in the world can do it that way, so can I.

            1. Dan*

              To your point about other parts of the world where they don’t use TP… I’ve been to those parts of the world, but have somehow managed to always use a Western toilet with all of its trappings. Given said travels, I find it amusing the strong affinity Americans have with their TP. And I’m 100% guilty.

              Apparently when my mom was growing up, the family had hit a rough patch and they couldn’t always afford to have TP. A couple of weeks ago, my dad mentioned that mom bought quite a bit of TP at Costco. She chimed in and proclaimed, “You can never have enough!” I was like, wanna bet? There are parts of the world where TP is for tourists, if you can find it.

          3. Amethyst*

            Speaking as a person with, er, digestive issues, I envy you & your use of 1 roll/week. I go through 2. Maybe 3 if it’s especially bad.

            I’ve been having a ridiculously hard time finding toilet paper & I have some anxiety over it due to said digestive issues. I just started a new roll from a new 6 pack today (a fancy brand I never buy, & the package calls these rolls “mega”) & have been using it stingily so as to keep it lasting as long as I can so when Friday comes around I can go on the hunt for some to replenish my supply.

            I won’t buy napkins or paper towels; I live in an apartment complex & my landlord would *for sure* bill me for any plumbing costs related to clearing the pipes if I were to use those.

            1. Sunset Maple*

              It’s not the norm for most people in the U.S., but you can use non-flushable paper products and dispose of them in a bag.

            2. Mary Connell*

              If you need to use them, put them into the trash like Sunset Maple says. A relative lived in a country where that was the practice.

      2. Sunset Maple*

        Our grocery stores only allow senior citizens for the first hour of business, and they buy up every roll as soon as the shipment hits. I’m going to have to hire someone over 60 to get me toilet paper.

    2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I sincerely recommend buying a bidet, there’re small ones that can be attached to the toilet and it’s an cleaner alternative to toilet paper. But then, I come from bidet loving country.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I’m really curious about bidets. How do they work? Exactly how do you use one? Do you have to be careful not to get your clothes wet? Do you need to use a towel to dry yourself off after you’ve used one? Maybe someone could post a link to an article that would explain things. If so, you’d be doing a favor to many ignorant people, such as myself.

        1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

          Using a traditional sitting bidet It’s just like a normal toilet, but instead of doing your business you open the water, clean your behind with soap, close the water and wipe with a dedicated towel. I can’t imagine how it must be having a period in a bidet-less country.

      2. T. Boone Pickens*

        Bidets are terrific. It’s a shame they’ve taken so long to catch on in the US.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It astounds me how many people here think that the water comes out of the toilet bowl instead of a clean-water pipe. I had this conversation once and I had to explain it was like the little special pipe that puts water into your freezer to make ice cubes. Only a little warmer one hopes.

    3. Mameshiba*

      Maybe that was me! I’m glad someone listened!! (side-eyes all my friends I warned who laughed and then complained about running out of TP weeks later…)

  33. Always Anon*

    The first person that I know personally who was diagnosed with COVID-19 is my primary care doc. I had my annual physical yesterday morning via telemedicine. During the course of our discussion I found out that my doctor was sick and that he had just learned he was COVID-19 positive. He was doing a few more appointments after mine and then taking some time off of work to recover.

    1. WellRed*

      My Primary care just canceled my yearly checkup that was in mid May. She offered telehealth for any concerns. She’s retiring in June so that’s that.

  34. Wife of a Nurse*

    Just some tips if you will start wearing a mask more often:

    1. Always wash your hands before you put on your mask and before you take it off as you will be touching your face.

    2. If your mask is washable, keep a plastic bag with you to put the mask into when you take it off and then wash it!

    3. Masks can keep droplets from getting into your mouth and nose, but not your eyes, so if you can, wear glasses/goggles when you are going into a store where there may be a number of people (grocery stores).

    Ultimately, if you don’t need to go somewhere, then don’t. Social distancing is really tough but really important right now.

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      Beautifully said – thank you! Will do all of the above with great care.
      Be safe!

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Every time you come back in the house from having worn the mask, immediately toss it in the wash and then wash your hands.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Are you aware of a pattern (sewing is fine) with the elastic going around the head? The elastic I have is 3/4 inch, and I’m not very good so not sure if I can modify an existing pattern.

  35. irene*

    this might be a little weird, but i want to give major thanks to AAM and the commentariat from the last 2 years or so. i was diagnosed with adhd a month ago and just started medication this week. i would have never thought the diagnosis applied to me, except the comments and posts with advice have made me say “wow, that’s familiar!” and when i started seeing a therapist for my anxiety again, they asked if i am adhd… i said no, but if you think i sound like it, too, maybe I should get an eval.
    the psychologist who diagnosed me says I should look into asperger’s syndrome/autism spectrum as well, which is what I’ve been told for years and years (that eval for grown adults isn’t as accessible unfortunately), but it’s good to finally have that statement on my diagnosis paperwork.

    it’s strange how having the dx changes so much, but also nothing at all. I’ve already improved some of my relationships by explaining it, because we now have a label for my quirks and they know I’m not doing it on purpose… but it doesn’t magically make me able to go places on time or anticipate important dates or maintain an appropriate amount of eye contact.

    anyway, i would have completely dismissed my therapist’s question and not started to reconsider some of my behaviors and challenges, except for reading AAM and the comments so much. and now I’ve got more tools in my box for anxiety therapy and self improvement. thank you, everyone!

    (i need to go search and reread the advice about disclosing to work, now. I’m not sure if or when i should tell my manager at my new job, except I’ll have to eventually explain why I suck at getting to work on time consistently, despite my best efforts)

    1. peachie*

      I don’t know if ‘congratulations!’ is the right sentiment, but it’s difficult to get diagnosed as an adult for a number of reasons, so… yay! I’m glad you did! You’re so right that it changes everything and nothing. I hope the medication works for you (and that if it doesn’t you’re able to test out some others) — it’s completely changed my life. When I moved, my new psychiatrist asked what I felt like it did for me, and I said that before taking it, it felt like I was pedaling really hard on a stationary bike but getting nowhere, and now I’m pedaling really hard on a regular bike and getting somewhere. It’s an uphill ride, for sure, but at least all the effort leads to some results now.

      1. irene*

        thank you! so far, the medication (the lowest extended release dose available) doesn’t seem to be making a huge difference with my mental processing, but it does help me with maintaining energy levels throughout the day so I can be more productive instead of sleeping for always, and honestly that’s extremely valuable. I did so much house cleaning and tidying today, actually finished instead of feeling tired and bored and needing a nap!

        when we started discussing the possibility, my therapist and I talked about organizational lists and things. I made a household chore chart to look at whenever I’m in bed, to help remind me of things I can do when I’m not sure where to begin, and this is this first week I’ve completed the entire thing. I hope I can keep it up :D

        1. peachie*

          I’m not sure if you’ll come back and see this, but one of the most valuable things I’ve learned about dealing with ADHD is that it’s possible you won’t find a system that works for you forever. And that’s okay! I used to beat myself up about the abandoned planners or apps I forgot about, but I think it’s much healthier to think, Great — that worked for a while! Now what? A solution doesn’t have to be permanent to be valuable.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      I am just going to bite the bullet and say congratulations. Having the diagnosis, and knowing that it’s not that you’re “not trying hard enough,” is super important.

      (Although a quick side note that the eye contact thing is not ADHD- that one’s autism. My trick is that I stare at mouths, and most people don’t notice.)

      1. irene*

        thank you! I was so worried that I wouldn’t meet the diagnosis threshold and it’d just reinforce that I’m just lazy or not trying hard enough. it’s such a relief.

        also, thanks! I’m not sure what of my traits could be the maybe-autism (probably?) vs. ADHD. my intense personality was cited as an ADHD thing (very talkative, interrupting, etc) and I assumed my all or nothing eye contact style was part of that.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          From what I’ve heard/been told, ADHD eye contact issues are typically “shifty eyes,” where the ADHD person just can’t sustain long periods of contact because of focus. What I’ve got with my autism is that I can’t do eye contact at all– it’s legitimately painful to me! I’m very unusual in that regard though, and I’ve been told that it’s more normal for autistic people to have difficulty making eye contact, but sustaining it is less of an issue than it would be for ADHD people.

          1. irene*

            I used to practice things like eye contact and vocal tones when I was a teenager! I noticed that my voice didn’t sound musical like other people, so I read out loud with exaggerated tones, until I got used to sounding like other people in normal conversation. (I’m still not sure about it… I’m bad at judging the correct loudness required)

            and I read in magazines about eye contact, so I also practiced staring into eyes. I tend to never look away, or I don’t look at all. it’s like I have to remember not to just stare forever, especially because so much of my attention goes to the action, or I never quite manage to even look at the chin or eyebrows. very much all or nothing.

        2. KoiFeeder*

          But, also, remember this. You’ve had unknown, unaccommodated ADHD for your whole life. You’ve already been trying so much harder than a neurotypical otherwise similar to you. You’re not lazy, you’re exhausted, because you’ve been trying to race around with a basket full of rocks and been judged by the standards of people with baskets full of eggs.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I was also diagnosed as an adult. It’s no walk in the park, but now at least I can stop kicking myself for not being organized like everyone in my family seems to be.

      1. irene*

        yeah, looking back at how I struggled with various college things, I wish we had looked into it earlier. the little explanation really helps with the guilty feelings for not keeping up or “meeting potential”

    4. RagingADHD*

      Good for you!
      You are going to reclaim soooooo much more energy & joy now that you can stop trying to fix yourself, and just adjust your tools/systems when you need to.

      Knowing makes all the difference.

      1. irene*

        thank you!
        one of the first things I did was stop feeding bad that I struggle with the concept of time, and explained to my dad why I’m always running late. we set up an arrangement so that he tells me the earliest time he is okay with me arriving somewhere, rather than when the event should begin, and I know that’s what he’s doing. it worked well, up until isolation. (he never wanted to trick me like that, and seemed to think I was late because I didn’t care) it has smoothed out one of the kinks in our relationship, and we know what to expect.

        I have also embraced my paper notebooks and whiteboard to do lists, and have stopped trying to use digital systems just because that’s what people around me like. lots of calendars and color coding and visual cues help keep me focused and retarget when I forget what I need to be doing, and I won’t try to force myself to fight with a less useful system. (some of this i learned from comments here, and have been slowly implementing. the dx was like an aha moment for why it worked so well!)

  36. WorkLifeBalanceTryYouWill*

    My plan for today.

    Not to look at my work email today. Commit to check into our Social Media accounts only to make sure there is no inappropriate content posted. Do no work/work.
    For me-
    Phone a friend.
    Sit down and write time in front of the SAD lamp. Watch the writing prompts from Kate DiCamillo
    Begin a knitting project. Watch two episodes of Dr. Who while knitting.
    Make sugar scrub
    Clean my office/spare room
    Movie Date with Mr. TryYouWill

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      Did you stick to your plan? Or most of it, at least?
      Checking in… that’s an ambitious but inspiring list!

    2. WorkLifeBalanceTryYouWill*

      Checking in very late. Ta Dah!
      Spent less that an hour on work over the weekend- sent three emails specifically to the effect that I will not be updating/helping/working for two days.
      I did watch Dr.Who with a friend on the phone. and one on my own.
      I am totally sucking at knitting- cast on, knit a few rows and had to rip it out, over 4 times.
      Cleaned and scrubbed down the kitchen AND put away stuff in the living room that had been piling up.
      Took a short walk with the dog (I am “at risk” so that was a big deal on the anxiety front)
      Had a movie date with Mr. Try You Will- Jo Jo Rabbit (Really didn’t like it)
      Sat in front of SAD lamp only one day- really need it to be part of my daily routine.
      Read AAM while sitting on the porch.
      Had a two hour! nap on the porch this afternoon.
      Spoke to friends and family on the phone for more than two hours (5 separate calls)
      Started a new podcast Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon Podcast to Curb Cabin Fever
      Made quite a few scrumptious meals including oatmeal congee with left over chicken.
      A friend dropped by baking potatoes. Had jacketed potatoes for supper. Super yummy.
      Having trouble reading anything other than new.

  37. Ali G*

    What’s cooking?!
    This weekend I’m trying to use up fresh stuff before it turns.
    Breakfast today: scrambled eggs (leftover whites and oop’s from making carbonara earlier this week) with lefotver kaftka plate from a local Egyptian restaurant we ordered from last night.
    Dinner tonight: chicken “parm”: it’s basically cutlets sauteed and them topped with sauce and cheese. Sauteed veg – whatever I need to cook.
    Dinner tomorrow: Burrito bake: ground beef, leftover black beans, mushrooms, greens, whatever I have seasoned and baked with cheese and tomatoes. Served with corn tortillas for dipping.
    Hope you have a delicious weekend!

    1. Jdc*

      Last night we did one of the take and bake pizzas from Aldi since I was forced to shop. Tonight is leftover lasagna I froze from a couple weeks ago. I wanted a break from cooking. Husband made yummy breakfast sandwiches just now. Thinking of making some soup in my instant pot for lunch.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Recently I roasted a chicken – very simple preparation – and then did my usual cherry-picking of my favorite bits: the delectable crispy skin, and the leg and thigh meat. That left lots of breast meat, so today I went looking for recipes using leftover chicken and some of my pantry staples (am also trying to use up items from my over-crowded pantry). Found a Budget Bytes recipe for Southwest Chicken Skillet, a perfect fit: rice, canned black beans, salsa, chicken broth, spices, cheese. Had everything on hand – including the chicken broth that I made from the carcass – and whipped it up. It’s a one-pan dish, ready in half an hour, and quite tasty – though when I make it again I’ll probably ramp up the spices a bit.

      Later today I’m going to try a recipe for a purple potato-cauliflower soup!

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        I’m making a roast chicken tonight so I can make chicken salad for my lunches this week. I don’t like the sweet ones so I make a curried one and a savory dill one. Serve on mini-naan bread. Alton Brown’s Curried chicken pot pie is another great recipe for leftover roasted chicken breast.

        1. GoryDetails*

          “Alton Brown’s Curried chicken pot pie is another great recipe for leftover roasted chicken breast.”

          I’ll have to try that – I love his recipes! (Also love chicken salad; maybe I’ll delve into the freezer and see if I have more chicken on hand!)

      2. Sparkly Librarian*

        I am planning to roast a whole chicken from the bottom of my freezer for Easter (or even try doing it in the slow cooker!) and I am weirdly excited because for some reason I have all my preferred ingredients for chicken salad (which I eat… every other year?). So the leftovers will be sandwiches mostly. Sadly, although the weekly grocery flyer had whole chickens at 88 cents/lb, they were not able to fill that part of my order. I’ll be using the chicken carcass, as with the turkey carcass parts I froze two weeks ago, in soup for ages and ages.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Speaking of chicken salad, I have two ways of prepping it that are really good. First I just do basic chicken, mayo, and boiled egg. You can leave out the egg if you don’t like it or don’t have any on hand. Then when ready to eat, I take out whatever I want for that meal and either add cut up green grapes and sugar-glazed pecans or walnuts and mix. Or I finely chop an apple and add that, some sweet pickle relish, and some chopped celery if I have any. The reason for doing it this way is because these add-ins don’t hold up very well. Twenty-four hours in advance at the most. Also!! If you decide to try the add-ins with the nuts, I just discovered individually packaged pecans, walnuts, or almonds with blueberries and cranberries. It comes in a package of 10. This is great if you pack a lunch to carry and want to stir in your add-ins at the last minute. Also great sprinkled on a green salad.

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      I couldn’t sleep and was up at 430 ugh. So I sauteed mushrooms and onions, baked bacon, made waffle batter and then waited for the rest of the house to wake up.

      Fennel and citrus salad alongside leftover kalua pork for dinner.

      Going to make pizza dough for tomorrow and then prep chicken and pork loin to grind.

    4. Sparkly Librarian*

      Well, I just DoorDashed Mexican food for lunch ’cause I couldn’t face the menu. :/ But! There have been pumpkin muffins, home fries, purple carrots, a massive pot of black beans, split pea soup with bacon, mac & cheese, pesto pasta, and salmon recently. Comfort food. Lots of good stuff coming out of the freezer.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I bought some real farm eggs at the slightly more upscale grocery; they’re delicious. I have a little plastic thing that lets you poach them in the microwave. It’s tricky; I can’t stand a runny white, and it’s hard to hit the sweet spot where the white is cooked but the yolk isn’t hard. But they’ve been coming out well enough to make little egg and cheese English muffin sammiches.

      Otherwise, I’ve got some tofu to cook up so I can have sweet chili sauce tofu bowls. I’ll probably do that tomorrow since I made some rice this evening. The aforementioned grocery carries a brand that’s pre-diced. I know that’s super lazy of me, but I hate cutting it up, and the cubes are so nice and even.

    6. LAMM*

      I scored a pack of chicken thighs the other day and have stayed stocked with tortillas. So some sort of chicken tacos.

      Though I’ve been putting everything in tacos since our shelter in place. The 6-8″ size are the perfect portion control for me. One taco = a snack, Two tacos a meal. BBQ chicken tacos, Ginger soy chicken tacos, etc.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Thank you for dinner inspiration. ..chicken parm sounded so good finally got moving. And I cooked the whole package without cheese & sauce so easy supper tomorrow. (Which might be key, as I may have to drive the trailer to get some things from my MIL before she pitches them. Great timing mom.)

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

    Is anyone else’s Facebook being flooded with ads with fake closing sales for weird clothing outlets? For all sorts of weird things like socks that look like cats, etc.

    Is there a good way to get rid of them? I can block one, but then I just get different websites that are “closing forever.” It’s like playing Whac-a-Mole. (I’m probably noticing it more lately because I’ve muted so many people who are constantly posting political things and gloomy COVID-19 news.)

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

        That’s OK! At least I know I’m not being targeted specifically by these really weird “closing sales”.

      2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        My FB feed is full of those! Usually sales of anime merch and sakura season stuff. I ignore it, I’m too broke to buy any of them anyway.

    1. anon24*

      I have not seen them, but if you click on the 3 dots in the upper right corner of the ad I believe there is a “why am I seeing this” option. If you click around you can get into all the things facebook thinks it knows about you and shows you ads about and can turn them off. I went in the other week because I was sick of seeing male underwear models on my Facebook feed and was pleasantly surprised. I am very cautious about what I let them know about me, use a privacy protecting browser and not the app, and they really don’t have me down at all. Most of the things they said I was into I’ve never even heard of.

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

        Thanks very much…I’ll give it a shot. In the past, when I’ve used Facebook’s alerting tools, Facebook has actually doubled down on the offending stuff and made things even worse, but maybe they’ve improved. Facebook, the company, honestly impresses me as being pretty much pure evil. But being isolated from everyone due to COVID-19 has made me even more reliant on it as a means of keeping up with everyone, so I guess I have to take the good with the bad.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yes, I’ve been seeing these.

      I’ve never felt the need to purchase animal socks, but now that they are going out of business, I feel a sudden urge to collect the set.

      Perhaps this is part of their marketing strategy.

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      I also keep seeing “Top Gut Doctor Explains How to Entirely Empty Your Bowels Each Morning”.

      I mean, why? Why on earth would that be a thing I need to do every morning?

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Ad blocker or an extension like Social Fixer will help. Personally I can’t stand to use the internet without an ad blocker now, and I use one on every device. I disable it for certain sites that depend on ads for income, unless they use the horrible flashing intrusive ones.

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

        These are actually sponsored posts. Sorry if I was unclear. Would an ad blocker block those?

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Some of what I’m seeing are for real novelty shops that I also had ads for before Christmas. They might be advertising more because they had a gap in fast fashion shipping from China.

  39. Anon divorcee*

    My husband and I separated almost a year ago, and our divorce was finalized a few months later. It was extremely painful at the time, I still loved him but his untreated mental illness meant I had been on an emotional roller coaster for the last two years. When we split, I suggested we try to remain friends, mostly because I knew I was the only person who knew the extent of his illness and could be there for him, and his response was “I can’t even look at you right now”. I cried all night, then picked up the pieces, went to therapy, got a promotion and started dating someone wonderful. We barely spoke for six months and I moved on with my life. To me, the friendship ship has sailed.
    Fast forward to the past month – he keeps messaging me with pictures of our cat (he got to keep her), memes, whatever. I’ve tried to respond in a friendly-but-not-too-friendly way (“Kitty looks great! Hope you’re doing ok”). He called a few times to check in on me. Then yesterday he asked me over for brunch today – I told him I wasn’t going to people’s homes (because confinement). Then he suggested we Skype to chat. Um, no, I’m confined with NewGuy and I don’t want to deal with this right now. I suspect he is bored and lonely in confinement and used to turning to me for support/company, whatever. I can’t be that person anymore, but don’t want to be cruel and send him over the edge either (b/c severe mental health issues). Any advice on navigating this, or just amicable divorces in general? No kids involved.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I don’t have a script for you, but you are allowed to have boundaries and enforce them. You don’t have to guess at his motivations or defend your decision. You are clearly a conscientious person, so maybe it’s helpful to hear that being firm is not the same as being cruel, and if he spirals anyway, you are not to blame for that or responsible for picking up the pieces.

    2. Generic Name*

      How much involvement do you want to have with him? If it’s zero, that doesn’t make you a bad person. You get to decide who you let into your life. You have absolutely no obligation to be his only source of emotional comfort. If you want to next interact with him, you can tell him you’ve changed your mind and don’t want to be his friend. Captain Awkward has some scripts for this. Another tactic you could take is gradually wean him off of contact with you. If you’ve been responding immediately, maybe wait a few hours. If you’ve been responding why same day, wait until the next day to respond. Gradually increase the time it takes to respond to him. From personal experience, I understand how singularly awful it is to live with someone with untreated mental illness. It’s totally reasonable to not want to be his friend.

      1. Anon divorcee*

        This is a great question, and the answer is I’m not sure. It was unimaginable for me when we split to never speak to him again. We had been together for ten years (met my first year of college). But then I was forced to cut off contact and realized I breathed a little easier without him. Being in a “normal” relationship with a kind, loving person made me realize how much pain I had put myself through with him. I have compassion for what he is going through and he isn’t a bad person, but every time we speak, a lot of buried emotions start to resurface and take me back to a not-so-great place. He also has massive mood swings, so when he’s all friendly and cheerful a part of me is just waiting for the other shoe to drop. At the same time, it makes me sad to have been that close to a person and never speak to them again. He sent me pictures of his nieces and nephews, all of whom I held as newborns and was close to, and it made me feel so sad. I have no doubt that I don’t love him anymore and don’t want to ever get back together, but I still care about him, wish him well, and it feels so hard to cut someone like that out of your life entirely.

        1. Dan*

          See my other post under your first one for a little bit more background. That said, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest he’s manipulating the f out of you with the nieces and nephews pictures. You’ve been trying to keep him at a distance (and I think he knows that) so my bet is this is his way of warming you up emotionally.

          It can be hard to cut people off, but sometimes you have to do it.

        2. fposte*

          One possibility would be to build on Generic’s question and think about what you’d *like* to do. Telephone call once a month? Once a year? Exchange holiday cards? Knowing that would give you something concrete to suggest rather than just saying “Not feeling the Skype thing, Bob.”

          But do be sure it’s something you want, not just something you have to offer for his sake. His sake is no longer your lookout.

          1. Dan*

            When I put OP’s two posts together (pushing for skype chats after blow-offs aren’t working plus adding pictures of the nieces and nephews to the mix) I’m not getting the sense that it’s in the OP’s best interest to try and maintain some level of contact, even if it’s on her terms. Because the manipulative types in the crowd will agree to whatever’s offered and then try to weasel more out of you. For whatever reason, I picked up on the pics of the nieces and nephews as crossing that line. And given OP’s reaction (I held them when they were born, the pictures made me sad) I suspect his tactic may be working.

            OP may want some level of contact, and I suspect ex may agree to it NOT in good faith. OP needs to decide if she can handle that before offering the olive branch.

              1. Anon divorcee*

                Thanks, these are all great points. Yes, there is probably some manipulation involved, mixed in with being bad at reading social cues. He knows I basically can’t ignore the cat and kiddo pictures (I do generally ignore the memes and “interesting” articles he sends). Honestly, I had made peace with no contact ever, and now there is too much contact all of a sudden and I’m thrown. Maybe a once a month phone call with advance notice? That would be my preference, but probably won’t work because he is basically incapable of planning things. So I need to acknowledge that our styles of communication are irreconcilable. I think it’s either no contact ever, or him messaging me on a whim when he’s suddenly in the mood to talk to me, and me deciding how to handle that. I like the point about spacing the responses out a bit – give me some time to process as well. I told him I couldn’t Skype today and ignored the “why not, aren’t you just chilling at home?” response for now.

                1. Dan*

                  I’m just going to be blunt here. You’ve written enough to leave me no doubt that there will NOT be a boundary-respecting friendship with this guy. He will agree to whatever you suggest, and then he’ll throw it out the window at his leisure.

                  It’s not the style that’s the problem here.

                2. valentine*

                  ignored the “why not, aren’t you just chilling at home?” response for now.
                  Feel free to ignore it forever. He is a piece of work, but a pedestrian one. You need not allow him any space or say in your life. You are not responsible for him or his behavior. People are treatment plans for mental illness. You are not a toy for him to pick up and put down when he likes. Captain Awkward would file him under That Guy. (You might want to read her letters 845-6: A girlfriend is not a pacifier & part II.) No-contact was working for both of you and, even though he pressed pause on his end, you don’t have to! You can’t have the cat or kids in your life without him, and any loss you feel there is worth preserving your freedom.

                  Unless you want to be on call, living on pins and needles, either say nothing or tell him goodbye, but block him everywhere and move on.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  Agreeing with Dan, this is give him an inch and he will take a yard. Kudos, Dan, on picking up on this so fast. I am sorry you had to learn this stuff. Same for you, OP.

                  Think of it this way, OP, an average friend or family member gets told, “Can’t Skype today”, they don’t have the audacity to ask why, right? They say something like, “Okay, give me a shout when you are free, I’d like to hear from ya!” They put the ball totally in your court. This guy is already trying to corral you.

                  Go back to what you said here,”I had made peace with no contact ever….” This is what is at your core, OP. In a previous post you say, ” But then I was forced to cut off contact and realized I breathed a little easier without him. Being in a “normal” relationship with a kind,loving person made me realize how much pain I had put myself through with him. ”

                  Just because you are in a safe relationship now does not mean you can or should go back to trying to help him in any way, shape or form. Not only will he pull you down again, he will also pull down your new SO. You have the additional responsibility here of considering your new beloved.

                  My wise friend said something that I have held on to: Sometimes we have to get out of the way so REAL help can get in. I think this applies to you. You have already tried, you have already done the full gambit of things you can do. This point has passed.

                  I went with a different friend to see his son…. in prison. As we left the prison, my friend said, “I just want to take him home with me….” Oh boy. My heart went “splat” right on the the concrete sidewalk, it fell HARD. I gently reminded my friend that he had tried in 10, 000 ways to help his son. He agreed he did try in 10k ways. I said “The time for you to keep trying to save him is over. Other people need to step in and do what it is they have to do.” Likewise with you, OP, the time to help him is over. You were right the first time.

                4. Dan*

                  Thanks NSNR. That was certainly a lesson learned from the school of hard knocks.

                  I feel for your friend. There are few worse feelings in the world than being a parent, giving your kids all of you’ve got, and then they decide to take a path in life that involves “the system” which at that point is out of the parents’ hands.

                  You briefly acknowledged OP’s new relationship. When I think about her current relationship NewGuy, I think about how this would play out. OP would get frustrated with ex not respecting boundaries, and she’d talk want to discuss her frustrations with NewGuy. And NewGuy will ask, “if he frustrates you so much, why do you keep dealing with him?” No matter what the answer is, NewGuy is going to wonder if she’s truly let go of ex, and whether she can be fully present (let alone committed) to new relationship. Her words alone will not resolve his concern.

                5. Not So NewReader*

                  Right on, Dan. OP, this is an important explanation of what happens and how it happens. Often times care this intimate is reserved for parents, other family or a bff. It sucks up huge amounts of time and huge amounts of emotions. This is time and energy that should go into our current partner.

                  Hey, it’s an easy pit to fall into. Years ago, I found myself compulsively taking care of people who actually did not want to be taken care of. They were more interested in unraveling themselves. Now there’s reasons why I was doing this. I could have spent huge amounts of time analyzing why I was doing that or I could figure out how to stop, right now. For me, I landed on watching to see how much they were doing to help themselves first.

                  This is a very simplified example. Let’s say my friend Sue has concern X. Oh my, she is really worried. Since this is my friend and I am concerned for her, I find a resource or two to suggest how she might start to work on her concern. I don’t expect her to use my ideas but I do expect her to take the ideas that people give her and use those ideas as a spring board to find something for herself. So a week later, Sue tells me that she went with an idea (not necessarily mine) and she is working on that. Hey, I can support that 100%. And I am most willing to continue to help in anyway I might be able to help. This is a pretty healthy reaction to difficulty: Confide in trusted people, collect suggestions, pick something and start working on things. In my own life, I am surprised by how people will keep coming back and helping as they see the progress I have made on my own.

                6. Observer*

                  Whatever you do, do NOT answer the “Why not” question. Not now, not ever.

                  This is not just about communications styles. This is about him still thinking that he is entitled to your time and attention.

                  Maybe he’s a manipulative jerk, and maybe he’s just someone who doesn’t get it for Reasons. It doesn’t really matter – he’s making demands that he has absolutely not standing to make. He doesn’t even have the standing to ASK – but he’s gone right past that in trying to get you to justify your response. Don’t feed that sense of entitlement by justifying yourself.

        3. Quandong*

          Having read this extra post, I think it’s even more important to put your needs first.

          I hear you feel a lot of grief, especially about missing your ex’s nieces and nephews, and not being close anymore. But take it from me (having been in a similar position a long time ago) increasing contact with your ex will not alleviate your grief about those things. It will just…add more trauma and triggers to your everyday life, and the grief will still do its thing.

          Please do consider blocking your ex and stopping contact for a set period of time. Maybe think of it as a temporary reprieve, so you can look after your mental and emotional health at an already extremely hard time? Then after time off, you might decide you’re willing to trade off your wellbeing for being in contact with your ex, or you may decide it’s not worth it.

          What kind of support is your current partner willing and able to provide to you? What have they said about the impact your ex is having on you?

          I hope you can be gentle with yourself. You might feel like setting firm boundaries is being unkind, but it seems necessary for you, and your ex is truly not your responsibility.

          This is a hard thing to do, especially coming on top of the most awful worldwide situation.
          I second the recommendation to check out Captain Awkward’s advice, she is kind and very wise.

          Best wishes.

          1. Quandong*

            Ah, I am so behind, apologies, I should have refreshed the page before posting. Other commenters have covered what I wanted to say, with more clarity.

    3. Dan*

      I had a similar marriage, and TBH, I think you have to be straight with him. If it sends him over the edge, that’s *not* on you. I don’t think beating around the bush is working for both you or him, and for some of the more manipulative types, they’ll use any trick they can to keep you roped in. I don’t know if that’s the case here (that is, is it an issue with reading social queues, or he can read them just fine and he’s the manipulative type).

      My ex and I never had kids, so when we split, there was no reason for ongoing contact. I completely ignored her, even when it came to requests for little things “oh, can I have X? I forgot it when I moved out.” Those were met with complete silence from me. She actually broke into the place, and I got the cops to give her a warning for trespassing. She tried showing up again, and I just pulled out the phone and said I was calling the cops if she didn’t turn around and leave in the next 5 seconds. She was like “no don’t call the cops” and I was like “the f’ing leave, you pick” She tried sending me stuff from different email accounts because she thought I was blocking her primary email. Nope, just well practiced with ignoring you.

      So I think you have to tell him what you just said — you can’t be that person for him anywhere, and it’s best to just cut things off completely.

      How he deals with that is up to him and not on you.

    4. Choggy*

      You don’t sound cruel to want to get on with your life and not be dragged back into his drama. He’s an adult, you divorced him because he was not taking the necessary steps to seek help. Keep your contact brief but polite, he has to get used to you not being that person anymore, as you wrote. Maybe you could get some help to get over feeling responsible for him, it’s not you who would push him over the edge as the case may be but his illness.

      1. Anon divorcee*

        Thanks. Getting over feeling responsible for him is definitely something I have been working on in therapy. He hadn’t shared his diagnosis with anyone back then (no idea if he has now), so the care associated with it (which included getting him hospitalized against his will twice) fell to me alone, and I still haven’t gotten over the feeling that if something goes wrong it will be because I failed to provide that care. I still pick up the phone because I half expect it to be a call from the hospital. And then he just wants to chat, and I don’t know how to say no because clearly I’m confined and have nothing else to do? I know I need to work on setting better boundaries, but somehow I’m really bad at that.

        1. Dan*

          I’m going to ask you some dumb questions… do you have Caller ID? If so, does he change his numbers? If you miss a call from the hospital, that begs two further questions: 1) Do you have voicemail? 2) *Does it actually matter*? (That is, are you next of kin/do you have medical POA?)

          I went through a two week period (give or take a few days) as we were splitting up where my ex would call me at all hours of the day an night. After not coming back to the apartment one night without saying anything about where she’s going, she called me up at 5am and said “don’t worry about me, I’m fine.” Well, a little too late for that.

          Somewhere in that time period I just resorted to leaving my phone off, and I’d check it once every day or two for messages. There were some good ones. I called the police non-emergency line to try and verify one of them (cops wouldn’t give me any info, ok-fine-not-my-problem). The second I called the hospital, and *that* story checked out. Then I called her brother in law and said “ex is in the hospital, you deal with it”.

          Leaving the phone off can do wonders.

          1. Observer*

            I would say that if you have a Medical POA (or any POA, for that matter), please talk to a lawyer about getting away from that. You don’t want that responsibility, and you need to make sure that no one can legally pull you into it.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          What to say is not something that is automatically in our genes at birth.

          We have to plan out some scripts we can use as needed.

          You could work with your therapist for some scripts. I bet people would be more than happy to assist with some scripts here for you.

          I’d like to talk about “failing to provide care”. OP, you can’t provide care for him because he WON”T let you. What he is doing is leaning on you instead of going to professionals. If you keep doing as you are doing you are helping him in his goal of avoiding real care. It’s not real (meaning, professional) care, you are putting patches on things so he can get through another day. Think about the future, OP, do you really want to do this for the rest of your life? Of course not.

          Is there a trusted family member of his you can call who will support you and help to peel him away from you?
          Going the other way, do YOU have a trusted friend/family member who would be willing to support your withdrawal from this situation?

          1. NoLongerYoung*

            I’m sending a hug here for OP. It is oh, so hard, to break a bad habit and to learn to set boundaries. I’m one that was overly responsible. (You don’t want to hear my story).

            But what I am lovingly saying here – sister in boundary-setting – is that you have to give yourself time to heal and recognize your patterns, and learn new ones.

            Like leaving a toxic job, leaving a bad relationship takes time to completely heal from. You don’t go back and work weekends at the job from h#$% because they beg you, do you? No. You remind yourself that the toxic workplace was not healthy, and you have to learn not to try to be dysfunctionally-responsive in the new job.

            Same thing here. You need time and space. You should not take on responsibility for him (or for anyone) that is not owning it for themselves. First, try to learn to take care of yourself. And that means letting your no be no… without falling into any of the subtle traps.

            Here to support you. You are on the right path. Keep climbing upward and don’t turn around and go back down into the mire, okay?

        3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          Your ex is the one who decided not to share his diagnosis with anyone except you. That doesn’t make you responsible for him. Your responsibility at this point is to respect his confidentiality, which doesn’t mean taking his calls if you don’t want. Maybe tell him something like “We broke up, and you said you didn’t even want to look at me. That means you have to look elsewhere for support” or warn him that if he calls you in an emergency, you’ll call his siblings and let them deal with it.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          That lack of sharing the problem with others is a huge red flag for me. My mother had diagnosis X. (X because this is not about the illness, it’s about how it was handled.) I was not allowed to tell anyone that she was ill because that would indicate weakness or failure which was UNACCEPTABLE.

          The resulting avalanche of crap that fell on me, made me think I was going to to die myself. Always be super aware and super cautious when people tell you they have a difficult diagnosis and they have not told anyone worse yet, if they have not sought help on their own.

          Only telling one person of a significant problem and then failing to do anything about it, puts to much on that one person. It can be crushing to that person.

        5. Observer*

          Talk to your therapist – that needs to be your primary focus now.

          If you really think that it could be a call from the hospital that is all the more reason for you to NOT pick up the phone. You are not, and CANNOT be the person handling his care and guiding the hospital. You need to never even start down that road.

          Physically confined to a space does not mean that you don’t have what to do. Besides, even if you don’t have anything else to do, it doesn’t mean you have any obligation to talk to him. “I don’t want to” is a perfectly reasonable reason for not talking to someone you have no obligation to.

          This is the key:


          I’m not just shouting, I’m trying to use a megaphone here. He is not entitled to your time and energy which means you do not have to have a “reason”, much less a reason HE accepts! for not speaking to him.

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      Frankly, I don’t think you can have a healthy relationship with him so long as it’s in this dynamic of “I’m the only one that knows him/can help him.” You couldn’t fix his mental illness for him as his spouse; I don’t see how you can do it as his ex. It’ll just be more and more of him pushing boundaries and getting angry and guilt-trippy on you for not being an all-healing fountain of infinite attention – and if you’re stressed and unavailable in your current relationship because you’re devoting too much time and emotional energy to your ex? That doesn’t bode well for your new relationship.

      I’d suggest not having any sort of contact until you can feel confident that he can be emotionally healthy independent of you, and isn’t looking to revive your previous dynamic, but rather, that you two can be in an emotionally equal friendship.

  40. WellRed*

    My mom lives in a resorts area that’s dead this time of year. She’s very social and has never lived alone before my dad died. She’s out of books and puzzles so has nothing to do but clean and stream and be bored. I really want to send her a cate package with books and snacks ( that I already have). We are now under stay at home. I really shouldn’t go to the post office, right?

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

      If my own experience is any indication, while nothing is ideal right now, there are probably worse places you can go than the post office. My local branch always had huge lines before the pandemic, but not now. They have taped lines on the floor to indicate six feet distance, and people are observing it. If you wash/sanitize your hands before you go in and after you go out, it’s probably not a bigger risk than anywhere else; I definitely felt much less fearful in the post office than I did at the supermarket. Your experience may vary!

      1. WellRed*

        How does that work? I don’t have a printer to be able to print my postage label or whatever. I’m not worried about exposure, it’s probably safer then the grocery store, but I am trying to be a responsible citizen.

        1. Max Kitty*

          Unfortunately, I don’t think you can do it if you don’t have a printer. We print out the label.

          The post offices also have automatic machines that you could use. The problem is that they aren’t always working, and then if the office isn’t open you’ve wasted a trip.

    2. Anono-me*

      You can also look at purchasing and printing your postage on line via the USPS website if you are in the USA.

    3. Kathenus*

      Another alternative is to do an online order and have it shipped directly to her, versus sending the items that you have at home.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If you have a stay at home order, you should not be going to the post office. Check online to see if they pick up from your house (ours does for free).

      1. Parenthetically*

        Huh. Surely the extent of the stay-at-home is going to vary from state to state? I ordered stamps from the USPS website because I didn’t WANT to make a trip to the post office, but they’re all open in my state and are considered essential.