weekend free-for-all – May 2-3, 2020

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: All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, by Janelle Brown. A mother and two daughters, all with secrets of their own, spend a summer grappling with family drama.

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

{ 1,516 comments… read them below }

  1. cleaning services*

    People who having a cleaning service, are you still having them come right now? Are they taking enough precautions that you feel safe? Or is it an unnecessary risk? We’ve been having our cleaning person continue to come and hanging out outside while she’s here for her safety and ours but I’ve been questioning whether we should be doing it right now.

    1. Esme*

      We are not. We are fortunate that we are able to continue paying for the service instead of cancelling outright, but I’m just not comfortable allowing anyone else in our home, especially since they bring their own equipment. I don’t want to risk our safety or theirs. We leave the cash and a note outside for them and they pick it up during our usual time.

    2. OperaArt*

      I’m not having her clean right now, but I’m still paying her. I wouldn’t feel comfortable having her in my home right now even without the pretty strong shelter-in-place restrictions here in the San Francisco Bay area.
      On top of that, she does some caregiving for some quite elderly people, so I think she should stay away for their sake.

      1. Bex*

        I’m also in the SF Bay area and am doing the same thing. If they are in and out of multiple houses, there is just too much risk for me. It’s not worth it, but MAN do I miss them!

      2. Warm Weighty Wrists*

        Also CA, and same! I will be thrilled when our cleaner can come clean again, and my dog will be beside himself at seeing her again, but for right now I just pay her at the regular time not to come.

    3. Not A Manager*

      We pay our housekeeper, and we clean the house ourselves. Last week we had her come for the first time to clean the deck outside. We all wore masks and it was nice to see her at a distance.

      We don’t want to get sick, we don’t want to become asymptomatic carriers, and she has an elderly parent. It’s best that she doesn’t come into our home.

    4. Belgian*

      I am not. The company has decided to cancel on its own. I have been thinking of how I would handle it, as I think they’ll be starting up again soon, but I don’t really know. I live in a 1br apartment, with just a small outdoor space. Maybe I could sit outside if the weather is nice.

      1. Clisby*

        Same here. They’ve sent out an email saying they’re willing to start back up, which is fine with me – I’m going to call them on Monday. We didn’t pay for the canceled appointments, since we didn’t cancel them. We can isolate in our home office while they’re here, because we never let them clean in there. Too much computer equipment.

    5. Clementine*

      I had quit having a cleaner, but I didn’t realize having an outside cleaner was actually on the prohibited list until I saw a press release about lifting the restrictions in four phases. I was always very irregular before, so I have not kept on paying her, and as I used a service, she wasn’t even always my cleaner. When it is allowed, I think I will still not have a cleaner for a long time, because I would feel the need to re-clean every possible surface she might have touched.
      On a related note, I had to have a service person attend my apartment. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I told the company in advance that I would leave the door open, and that I would be hanging out in the bathroom but available to talk. The service person was very nice about it. I was told he wore a mask and gloves, but as I was in the bathroom I didn’t see it. And he fixed the problem!

    6. Ann Onny Muss*

      I cancelled my service for the time being. I’m at higher risk of complications due to asthma. They’re at higher risk of infection due to their job. I’m hoping to have them come back in the next month or two, but want to see a larger decline in hospitalizations and deaths in my state/county/city, as well as more testing.

    7. Lizabeth*

      Mine comes once a month and I told her to keep coming if she feels comfortable doing so. A lot of her older clients have had her stop coming for the time being and a few are still paying her. We do the social distancing when she comes and she’s usually done in about an hour. I’m in a rural area that has about 12 cases so far in the county.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I haven’t had her in and she wouldn’t let me keep paying her. (She occasionally tried to get me to not pay her when she did come clean in the past. She’s my housemate’s mom and I think, under normal circumstances, she just likes the excuse to come visit us. :-P )

    9. Rebecca*

      No, I put a stop to it, because she cleans for 3 other people as well, and she is a great person, BUT I don’t feel comfortable about her coming in the house, touching things, etc. as we don’t know who could be a carrier and people can be infected with the virus for days or weeks before they show symptoms. Mom arranged an every other week appt for 2 hours to do odd jobs, in the meantime, I vacuum, dust, do laundry, dishes, etc. on an ongoing basis, we use separate bathrooms (I’m on the upper floor), and there is no foot traffic in the house except us. The cats account for most of the vacuuming needs. I think it’s a bad idea to have someone come in for a non-life sustaining activity right now.

    10. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It feels like an unnecessary risk to us. Having anyone in your house who doesn’t live there defeats the purpose of stay-at-home orders. I’m also avoiding going into stores and restaurants as much as humanly possible, opting for curbside pickup or delivery only.

      Our concern is that our housecleaner probably still goes to multiple other houses, and to have her inside the house for a few hours, being extremely active with corresponding breathing and sweating, is more than just casual exposure. We would need to have the house empty for 3-5 hours before and after in order to feel comfortable based on the research on aerosolization, and that’s just not practical. She also has two adult children living with her, and from what we have heard from her, they are not the most responsible and may be a much greater risk to her than her clients, so we consider her an extremely high risk.

      We have been paying her for when she would have cleaned, in advance for each month we’re skipping.

    11. Redkitty*

      I haven’t been having mine come in, but she refuses to let me pay unless she comes in (I have tried!) She is wearing mask and gloves when she cleans, and so I think I’m going to start letting her come clean (except our basement, so my family has a place to go while she’s here without having to leave). None of us in my family are particularly high risk, and we are in a part of the country that is more rural and hasn’t had high known case numbers. It’s a catch 22 because she cleans for a number of families, I know she needs the money (she’s come in once a week for me for the last 11 years so we’ve gotten to know each other), she feels it’s immoral to take the money if she isn’t working for it; and I feel terrible not paying her since I know she needs to be working, and I’m essential and still working so I can. So we will take our chances.

      1. Be the Change*

        I asked my person if she would like to be paid or if I should donate to the food bank and she said donate. So I do it in her name.

        I…um… do a better job actually.

        1. pancakes*

          Asking someone whether they’d like to be paid is a pretty loaded question! Donations are great but not in lieu of pay. If you wouldn’t normally ask someone in your employ whether they’d like to donate their salary, I don’t know why you’d ask now.

      2. TooTiredToThink*

        Don’t know if you’ll see this, but have you tried using the “If you were were working for a company for 11 years, you would have gotten x amount of vacation time and this is just you getting that vacation time now?” type approach, maybe? That might help. Maybe.

    12. Leah K*

      I used to have a lady come every other week, and we stopped the service for now. It sucks, because now we make a lot more mess with two adults and two kids hanging out around the house 24/7, but I didn’t want to risk it. My state has recently relaxed some of the restrictions, so I am waiting a couple more weeks to see if we start getting a second spike in cases before I decide if I want her to start coming again.

    13. Job Carousel*

      No, for a variety of reasons. Right before this happened, I had decided to try out a different cleaning service due to some issues I’ve been having with my current cleaner (a woman who does cleaning work on the side from her two other jobs, who at that point had been cleaning my home once a month for about 3-4 months). Basically, with her evolving job situation, she was only available to clean my home one specific Sunday a month (often a very inconvenient day for me), and she would take 4-5 hours to clean my small apartment (1 bed, 1 bath), whereas the cleaning service I had before her would finish in about 2 hours. She also had the tendency to chit chat a lot which made me feel I couldn’t be productive at home during the cleaning (Sunday is usually my food prep day at home). To be honest, continuing to pay her without having her keep cleaning never crossed my mind as I was about to try a different person/service anyway. After this happened, my plans of trying a new person/service have gone on hold. I personally detest cleaning, and I’ve spent a few hours here and there doing maintenance cleans, but my home is badly in need of a professional clean again.

    14. enginuity*

      Our service is not doing residential cleanings due to the state order. I offered to continue paying them because they are a small local business and they said the money will go directly to our usual team, which is great and luckily something we can afford to do.

      Since we still want to have a clean place, my partner and I wrote down all the rooms as rolled a dice to decide who had to clean what. His idea – I never would have thought of it – but it actually worked out to be pretty fair!

    15. fposte*

      Nope. Against the state order; they’re not an essential business. I’ve been sending them pay to cover. We might make it work in June with me doing the hanging out outside thing.

    16. Everdene*

      No. But we are still continuing to pay her. I really, really miss having her come in and our house is currently so messy and grubby because there is no outside shame to clean it. I probably should be cleaning now instead of reading AAM!

    17. Thankful for AAM*

      We are still having them come. They wear masks and we take the dog and leave when they are here. I actually dont know if they are allowed in our state right now.

    18. Jen Erik*

      I have someone for a morning each fortnight, but I think it would be breaking UK guidelines if she came, so there wasn’t really a decision to be made. We are paying her each month, but she always phones after and is grateful, so I slightly suspect not everyone is.
      Also, I can’t imagine how tricky it would be to clean through at this point: we’ve seven in the household, so you’d be tripping over people all the time. I’ve resigned myself to living with a fair degree of untidiness, and looking forward to a belated spring clean at whatever point normal-ish life resumes.

      1. Historic Hamlet Dweller*

        Likewise – I suspect we’re in the minority who are paying.

        Sadly it turns out that two of us, working from home full time makes a whole lot more mess than when we were basically here to cook, flake out in front of the TV and sleep. We’re both also working more, and stranger, hours so housework is just not happening

        Genuinely cannot wait for our belated spring clean

    19. Imtheone*

      We stopped our cleaner when the stay-at-home orders were enacted, but we are still paying her. She recently contacted me because she was out of money. She shares her home with several adult children and a grandchild, but all of them are out of work and unemployment hasn’t kicked in. I asked her to come clean the porch furniture, which took about 1/3 her normal time, but paid her for it as an extra day of work.

      Cleaning the house takes me about twice as long, and eats up my free time, as I am still working from home. I miss the service, and hope I will feel comfortable having her back later in the summer. Hard to say, though.

    20. CupcakeCounter*

      The company I use is also certified for biohazard cleaning so they are only using the crew and equipment that meet those standards. We’ve had them in twice since this all started because may husband works in an essential industry and can’t WFH. They are only offering sanitize services so no widows or stuff like that.

    21. Anon for this*

      I would have him come, because I am not really physically capable of doing much, but I left it up to him and we are waiting and will reassess when my state reopens.

    22. Bibliovore*

      We asked ours to stop coming about 7 weeks ago. We kept paying them (two people) because I continue to be paid. They have recently gone on unemployment.

    23. Bluebell*

      Still paying our every other week cleaners by mail, but they haven’t been here since early March. We feel fortunate we can afford it, and it is the right thing for our family right now.

    24. An Actual Fennec Fox*

      Mine comes only once a month, and twice a month (same person) at my mom’s. We’re not having her come anymore until this ends, but we’re both still paying her regularly as this is her main income. We’re making do by keeping the essentials (floors, kitchen and bathroom) clean and not bothering too much if a little dust is here or there.

      1. Anon cleaning hater*

        I may need to adapt your strategy, I like it. I’ll just forget trying to do things up to my cleaning lady’s speed and standard.

        1. An Actual Fennec Fox*

          I suggest you do! Right now, I’m running on ‘is this essential?’ mode. So I keep the most important areas clean, shoes outside, and focus my energy on making sure I’ll be alive when this is over. (Keeping shoes outside the house and wearing them if I need to go anywhere outside the front door, even if just to take out the trash, has helped keeping the house clean too!)

    25. ASW*

      We normally have them come once a month and they cancelled during April because they had too many employees out due to childcare issues. Our state says they’re essential, so they didn’t have to close, but they chose to. They are reopening on Monday and will be coming the week after that. I had to start going back to the office yesterday, so I won’t even be here. There will likely be at least 2-3 hours between the time they leave and the time I get home anyway. I am high-risk because of my asthma, but I feel like I’m more at risk of getting sick from going to the office than I am from having a couple people come in my house once a month.

    26. louise*

      We’ve been paying ours and calling it paid time off…she was uncomfortable getting paid at first but we don’t anticipate an income disruption so we owe it others to keep the economy going. I can’t fix all the economic injustice in the world, but I can do this one tiny thing. The worst part, as others have said, is I miss having the cleaning done! I tried telling myself “you paid for this to be cleaned, you better do it up to her level,” ha!

      Now I’m not sure when/how to reintegrate her. She has a child with serious health problems so she was taking precautions long before others in our (very red, semi-rural, very libertarian) area were. I want her to feel safe while at our house.

    27. Anon cleaning hater*

      I got temporarily laid off, so financially, I can’t afford her right now. We’re supposed to be called back to work in a few weeks (fingers crossed) so once I am paid again, I’ll probably ask her to come and I’ll leave my place when she comes in, as long as she’s healthy and comfortable coming in. I keep in touch with her via txt. I wish I could pay her regardless whether she works or not, but what the money I receive when laid off is definitely not enough to pay a cleaner. I despise cleaning with a very fierce passion. When I do it myself, I do a good job, but it ends up taking me 7hrs for a 1bd condo with a den and I hate every single minute of it wiht a lot of anger. She is such a kind soul that she offered to come and clean my place for free, but I of course politely declined.

    28. Ann O.*

      I have not, although that is partially because I was unhappy with the quality of service and looking to find a new cleaning company or sole provider. I do not continue to pay because I’ve lost most of my own work and because I didn’t have a personal cleaner. It was almost always someone different sent to clean.

      I am contemplating looking for a replacement cleaner soon, assuming household income permits (we’re currently fine on my spouse’s income, but that may change if we have to commute to worksites again or are able to have some kind of paid recreational activities). Based on my understanding of the virus’s transmission, it should be negligible risk if the cleaner wears a mask and low risk even if the cleaner doesn’t (because we can open windows and run the fans to move the air). It’s not that hard to keep up with the house on my own now that I’m barely working, but I’m not a great cleaner. I’ve had amazing cleaners in the house, who just make the house sparkle in a way that I never can.

    29. Ted Mosby*

      Personal cleaning services are very obviously not necessary. It blows my mind that so many people are grappling with this. Someone moving from house to house to house is risky, even if they’re being careful (and given that they might feel you’re putting their lives in danger to avoid scrubbing your own floor, they might not feel super incentivized to bend over backwards to keep you safe). You might feel safe having someone in your home, but there are people who will suffer immensely or die if they get Covid.

      1. Big Bird*

        Those of us who have had the same cleaners for years and have developed relationships with them are, rightly, conflicted. We have had the same cleaners since 1994 and I have total confidence in them, but they live in a town which is the most hard-hit in our entire state. We are continuing to pay them but have asked them not to come for the foreseeable future. If we had a relationship with a business rather than two people that we care about, it would be an easier decision.

    30. Carlottamousses*

      We are not having ours come over either, but we continue to make payments via Venmo.

    31. Mama Bear*

      We are not. Her spouse has health concerns. She was not comfortable coming after the news about COVID-19 broke and asked for a break. Even if the restrictions weren’t in place, I don’t want to replace her so we will just wait and see if her spouse’s health allows her to resume working later. We are not having anybody in the house if we can help it. Necessary repairs only.

  2. Foot peel?*

    Hi. I tried baby foot about a month ago and it did very little for me. My feet are back to being callused, dry, rough. Does anyone have any recommendations for another food peel that worked for you? And the results lasted for at least 2 months? Thanks.

    1. Angela*

      I bought a kit off of Amazon about 8 weeks or so ago. It worked well. I am just starting to notice my heels are getting rough & calloused but I have not been taking care of my feet like I should.
      The one I got was off of Amazon for $16 but it was for 2 Sets (4 individual “shoes”). It was called “My Foot Foot Peel Mask Exfoliating Foot Treatment with Olive Leaf”. There are lots of other options but I had success with this & the price was right.

    2. HQB*

      I don’t use peels but I apply aloe vera gel to my feet after I shower and it helps keep them soft. A few times a month I use a foot file as well (after a shower, before the aloe vera).

    3. Dancing Otter*

      Can’t speak to a particular product, but slathering your feet with moisturizer before bedtime every night, and covering with old socks, helps. (The socks keep it from rubbing off.) Doing it once in a while when you remember, not so much.

      1. Daisy Avalin*

        This!! I use plain cocoa butter, and you really really have to do it every night without exception!
        I do it after a shower as well, a very thin layer rubbed in well, and then thicker layer under socks for bed. I do use a foot file to ‘tidy’ any rough bits before moisturising, and that seems to be enough.

      2. StellaBella*

        Agree with this. I wash my feet and slather with cocoa butter lotion and put on socks before bed. Also once every couple of weeks I make a hot foot soak with hot nettle tea and after rub olive oil into my feet and put on socks. I also use a bit of olive oil for my scalp and skin after a shower

      3. Anono-me*

        I do the socks overnight with stuff called Corona Cream (Unfortunate name right now but it works really well for many skin related issues.).

        I also occasionally soak my feet in a mixture guestimated equal part of hot water, Listerine, and vinegar. (Pintrest Recipe)

    4. Intermittent Introvert*

      I get spectacular callouses. So, I file every day after showering with a Body Shoppe file for a minute or two. Then use super creamy lotion. Keeps things at bay between pedicures.

    5. Ann Onny Muss*

      I gave tried Baby Foot, but have had success using the generic version of Eucerine Soothing Repair Creme. I use it after I shower.

    6. Christy*

      I have just started using aquaphor ointment on my feet (apply, put on socks, sleep) and it’s amazingly effective.

      1. Anon-a-souras*

        There’s a foot cream called O’Keefes for Healthy Feet that I combine with socks with interior gel pads. If I do pediegg file A few times a year and then use them at least once a week my feet stay in pretty good shape. I can’t remember what the socks are called- they are blue – pretty sure I read about both in The Strategist.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I tried that and it didn’t do anything for me. Baby Foot does and I love it, but it’s $25 a whack and I can’t do that right now.

          I’m wary of other foot peel brands. I tried a cheaper Tony Moly one once and it made my ankles itch so badly I wanted to cut my feet off. Wasn’t as effective, either.

    7. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I’m glad you posted this. I have had rough calloused feet lately as well. lots of great suggestions.

    8. Foot peel OP*

      Thanks for the suggestions. I HATE wearing socks to bed. Or at home in general. Or just plain anti-sock.
      Read an article recently on how due to stay at home orders people are wearing socks and shoes less and it causing dry feet issues

      1. Nessun*

        Following this for people’s suggestions but have to agree – I despise wearing socks to bed! May not have a choice though, the way my feet are doing…

      2. Damn it, Hardison!*

        My people! I hate socks so very, very much, but my feet are as dry as the desert. I bought some very thin cotton socks from Amazon and wear them with lotion for just a couple of hours at night before I go to bed. Lately I’ve been using O’Keeffe’s Healthy Feet Exfoliating Lotion And Night Lotion on alternating nights. I had better luck with Kokostar Foot Therapy mask than Baby Foot. Also, it really does work better if you soak your feet before putting on the mask, leaving it on for at least an hour, and then soaking every night until your feet are doing peeling. For spot testing calluses, I like Callus Remover extra strength by Lee Beauty, which you can get on Amazon.

      3. Christy*

        Same! I hate socks. I have no-show socks, like you wear with flats, and those are actually tolerable for me. They don’t cover the top of the foot at all. The ones I have are a past version but I’ll follow with a link to show what I mean.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          I don’t mind socks, but am not fond of shoes…really, I prefer barefoot whenever possible. Socks are just the next best thing when it’s too cold for bare feet.

    9. Bluebell*

      I like heel genius by Soap and Glory. I’ve also just used plain Vaseline with socks and that has been very effective. Neither is exactly a foot peel though.

    10. Dolly Dagger*

      did you soak your feet before and once a day for a few days after the peel? that helps a ton.

      peels every 2 months with a lotion containing 40% urea are the only thing that helps my sad feet.

    11. Bluebell*

      The Strategist is recommending one by Patchology. Apparently it’s not as quick and intense as Baby Foot but works well.

    12. Batgirl*

      I started using a homemade scrub daily in the shower made of coconut oil and dead sea salt creamed together because someone told me it would help my psoriasis. Not only did it clear that up but my formerly rough feet are always very soft and smooth now, even though I don’t apply directly to the feet. (Be very careful though because it can get slippy. Stand on a grip mat and soap away the oil as soon as you’ve scrubbed)

    13. Old person*

      I am a recent convert to Dr. Dre on YouTube and Facebook. She recently had had a Facebook post about this. It’s easy to go to her Facebook page and look for her post on foot calluses, I think she posted about it within this last week. She is a dermatologist based in Houston.

    14. Lalitah28*

      If you are not allergic to aspirin, you can try Kerasal or any product that has the active ingredient, salicylic acid and urea (https://www.drugs.com/mtm/kerasal.html) to get the same effect. Note: that diabetes in some people manifests as really dry skin, along with other symptoms, so keep that in mind.

      I personally use Kerasal and Thursday’s plantation Tea Tree Antiseptic lotion with socks at night and that seems to do the trick. I also supplement with the Amlactin lotion.

      However, you must get into the habit of soaking your feet and using a pumice stone to prevent the cracked heel buildup. For those with diabetes, there are more considerations (https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications/foot-complications) but you can use a pumice stone on the soles of your feet a couple of times a week in the shower to reduce this problem.

  3. NL*

    Has anyone tried tinting their own eyebrows and lashes at home? The quarantine has me ready to try it (I bought 1000 Hour last and brow tint) but I’m nervous.

    1. BeeJiddy*

      I’ve never done my lashes because they are jet black already, but I’ve tinted my eyebrows using that exact kit and it works really well. I would say it lasts a few weeks, and fades gradually. I haven’t experienced any staining of my skin which I’m very happy about. I also haven’t gotten any weird reactions but my skin isn’t sensitive at all so I wouldn’t expect to anyway. My only complaint is that mixing the stuff up is kind of annoying, the two different components don’t like to come together so it’s a bit of a mission, haha. And after you open the containers of each component you can tell they start to degrade a little over time, so the mixing issue gets a little worse every application.

      I’m going from a dark brown to slightly darker brown, and I leave it on for about 10 minutes. For your first time you may want to take it off a bit earlier, lest you end up in a Groucho Marx situation.

    2. Worked in IT forever*

      If you’re nervous, maybe you could try an eyebrow gel for your eyebrows? I use MAC eyebrow gel. I have to apply it every day, but it’s quick to do (faster than applying mascara). It adds definition and covers my few grey hairs. I know that they’ve recently reformulated the gel yet again, though, and I haven’t tried the new formula yet. The last two versions of their gel worked well for me, though, so I’ll try the new version when my stockpile of the previous version runs out.

      I did have my eyebrows professionally tinted a few times, but I got a better colour by using the MAC gel (they had multiple shades of brown). The esthetician had only a few colours, and I ended up with an eyebrow colour that wasn’t a super match for my hair colour.

    3. Fisherwoman*

      I do my brows at home every week/two weeks and have done for years. No major disasters once I got the shade and timing right, and even that only took the first try or two. If they go too dark they’ll fade out in no time (dish soap and warm water will also help) – quarantine might be the perfect time to try?

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

      I di my eyebrows once a month, with a mirror and paper towels to clean the mess. But in my case I don’t need tinting, just a heavy trim because they grow all over the place. I was considering threading before everything halted, but in the meantime I’ll stick to the tweezers.

    5. Courageous cat*

      I do Just for Men in Medium Brown every couple of weeks on my eyelashes. It’s super easy and I use a q tip to apply it. When in doubt, choose a lighter shade for a shorter period of time – it’s easy to go way too dark with that stuff. I keep it on for about four minutes then use a wet paper towel to wipe off.

    6. Old person*

      I use that kit with no problems. It’s kind of awkward at first but it gets easier.

  4. Ugh*

    Well, my weekend’s off to a good start. I’ve locked myself in my room because my roommate is drunk, trying to force me to drink, and taking about he holes he never has to beat me up like everyone else he’s had to beat up. Hoping I don’t end up in a fight if I leave to use the restroom or get dinner. And I can’t just leave the situation, because of shelter in place.

    1. Clementine*

      Even in places with the strictest quarantine, you are allowed to escape domestic violence! I’m sure there are hotlines you can call. Do you need help finding one? (Or phone 911.) I am so sorry you are in this position, because I know it’s still extremely difficult to get out.

      1. Ugh*

        Thing is, he hasn’t actually threatened me. He’s drunk and ranting, and constantly shifting between rags and friendliness. It’s terrifying, and he said he hopes he never has to beat me up, but he said it in the tone of “I hope we can always get along”, and wasn’t phrased as a threat. Issue is, we’re not friends, he routinely forces me into scary conversations, and he says a lot of offensive things. And I feel like if I object and clue him into the fact I don’t like him or feel comfortable around him, then he will get violent (that’s exactly how my stepdad was). But, like, landlord can’t do anything, and even if I were the kind of person to deal with cops, I can’t see what they can do, except get him nice and antagonized for after they leave.

        1. Clementine*

          You feel threatened, and his behavior is threatening. Maybe it would be a good idea to talk to a domestic violence hotline and discuss options so you don’t have to live in fear. Domestic violence doesn’t have to be a man beating up his female partner–there are lots of other variations possible.

          1. Ugh*

            Yea, that’s true. Psychogically, it’s hard to think of myself as a DV victim, because I’m a big, tattooed biker who listens to metal. I don’t feel like I fit the logical image of a DV victim, even though I was one as a kid. Logically, I know I’ve been a victim before and can be again, and as a transwoman, I know I’m at high risk for violence, but somehow it’s hard to accept I’m a victim because that doesn’t happen to big, tattoed people on motorcycles. Even though it does.

        2. Zhenja*

          I hope I never have to beat you up is a threat no matter how it is phrased. Trust your instincts. If you feel like you would be in danger if you let him know what you are thinking then you probably are in danger. I agree that you should call a domestic violence hot line and talk through your options with them. They might be able to help you decide if you need to take action and, if so, how to go about it. Even though he is just a roommate, being trapped together puts a very different dynamic on your relationship. Trust yourself and take care of yourself.

          1. Ugh*

            Yea, I do need to do something. I’m trying to get my rrecently deceased father’s apartment, but if I don’t, I need to find something. He went and got stoned and called his friend to screw around, so right now I’m okay, but I felt like I had to lock myself in my room. I really don’t want to call a DV hotline (that’s almost scarier than being hit), and it’s really hard for me to see a big, tattoed biker as a DV victim (even though I’m a survivor of childhood abuse and should know better), but I locked myself in my room tonight, and it isn’t okay.

            1. Not A Manager*

              Can we stop leaning into the big tattooed biker thing for a moment here? I can see that it’s very important to you, but you need to take some steps to protect yourself. You’re allowed to do that no matter what you look like.

              Shelter in place is an important epidemiological tool, but it’s not an actual prison. Is there anyplace you can go? My understanding is that the very most conservative step would be to self-quarantine for 14 days in any new location, before joining the existing community within the home. Does anyone have a basement or a guest room they can offer you for two weeks? Could you afford a motel for two weeks?

              Why is it so scary to call a DV hotline? Are you concerned that they would shame you or not take you seriously? I’m sure you know your own situation better than I do, but a brief google search shows a number of organizations that claim to serve the trans community with regard to domestic violence. If you would like me to post some links please let me know and I will do that.

              You absolutely deserve to feel safe in your own home. Please don’t talk yourself out of that basic right.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Lots of people have difficulty with asking for help, regardless of the type of help that is needed.
                One problem is that it messes with our image of ourselves as we like to be self-sufficient and we like to think of ourselves as self-sufficient.

                OP, I want to share something with you that my aunt said when my husband passed. It’s applicable to more than one type of situation. I think it fits your setting.

                [Please picture a 70 something y/o woman who had lost her husband, adult child, and son-in-law. She had survived two bouts of cancer. Please picture this person speaking right here:]

                She said, “You NEED help. Now is NOT the time to be proud or strong or whatever word you can come up with. The situation you are in is too big for any ONE person to face alone. You need other people looking at this situation with you, that is how you will get out of this bad spot. You can pay it back or pay it forward LATER. Get your own self on solid ground first THEN think about giving back the help you received.”

              2. willow for now*

                Agree – the DV is “new” to you, but not to the DV counselor. That’s what they do. If you don’t want to tell anyone else what is happening with the DV, you don’t have to – the counselor will not take out a billboard with your picture on it. You can keep it as private as you want/need. Just get some help, please.

              3. Ugh*

                The scary part of calling a DV line is that of actually telling some sort of social services that, like, there actually is a safety problem here. I feel guilty about not telling my landlord about all the problems (especially the angry wall punching and frequent use of ableistic and misogynistic slurs, and how he just ignores me if I do try to ask him not to do something), and it feels like if I do get my dad’s apartment I’ll just drop this on my landlord as I leave, but on the other hand, what could my landlord do? He can’t evict my roommate just because I said he does jerk things, and the very act of me telling the landlord would be massively antagonizing him. So there’s damage and mess to the apartment because I’ve been too much of a coward to actually address his behaviors, which could well come out of my security deposit and effect future landlord references because I can’t prove I didn’t mess up the stove or punch the hallway walls, and I’m almost wishing I could just keep ignoring it, even if I can’t. Even if I did last night, because he got high and calmed down and I felt like the problem had passed and didn’t call the DV line, even though I needed to, because it just feels like crossing a line.

                1. pancakes*

                  I just want to point out that you changed the subject from calling a DV hotline to telling your landlord. One step at a time, and no one is suggesting that you ask your landlord to intervene in some way! I get that calling a hotline feels like a big line to cross, but it terms of practical steps it isn’t necessarily. If they advise you to do things that don’t seem helpful, or realistic, or aren’t doable right now, you don’t have to do anything at all. All that will have happened in terms of irreversible action is that you’ll have had a conversation with someone who is supposed to be trained to be thoughtful and supportive.

            2. Almost graduated*

              What if your just calling the hotline for information gathering? They are the experts and they can help tell you want type of situation your in, not some random people on the internet. And they can also give you more specific advice to your situation

            3. A New Normal*

              Can I give a slightly different perspective? You’re not a victim, you’re someone dealing with an a-hole who needs to know what options are available to them during this very weird time. Without the quarantine you know you could just walk away but with it things get complicated. So reach out to those who have answers.

              I’m a childhood abuse survivor and I really don’t like the word ‘victim’ even if it fully applies so that’s why I stick with ‘survivor’ or ‘my father is an awful person’ and such. But that’s the word various place use and if we don’t avail ourselves of the best resources just because of the names then that kinda does make us victims of our own mental jerks who tell us what we can and can’t do. If that makes sense.

              So reach out to the best resources, whatever they call themselves, and get yourself someplace where you don’t have to be afraid again. You deserve that!

              1. Batgirl*

                Yes, ‘victims’ are not a variety of extremely weak people, especially in a domestic setting. You could be a ninja, but if you have to go to sleep in the same house as an unstable person then you are not safe. If you have to be constantly in badass ready defense mode, then no matter what you bench, the place is not home; move out.

            4. Traffic_Spiral*

              You need to move out of the “can’t” mentality into the “won’t” mentality. Even if you could easily beat your roommate up, why would you want to? He lives in your house! Like hell you’re getting into a brawl in your own damn house. This jackass can learn to live peaceably or you’re leaving/calling the cops.

              I remember once watching this smaller guy try and start an argument with a bigger guy (who I knew was actually a good fighter) at this outdoor festival, and the big guy just sort waved down a cop and was like “can you handle this? Cheers.” He then walked back to the table while the cops talked down the drunk guy and firmly escorted him away. Being much younger then, I asked him why he didn’t just handle it himself, and he said “I’m here to relax and have a drink, not fight a pisshead. Let the cops earn their salary, I pay taxes, don’t I?”

              You’re not going to fight your roommate for the same reason you won’t mudwrestle him in your living room – that’s not behavior you tolerate in your house.

        3. Batgirl*

          Violent people often do the Jekyll and Hyde thing. It’s a confirmation of your instinct, not evidence to the contrary. You’re allowed to leave. Is there somewhere to go?

    2. LGC*

      So, yeah, I agree with everyone else that this is probably an unsafe situation. (It seems like you’re a bit uncertain about calling it domestic violence, so I won’t.) And shelter-in-place situations don’t necessarily mean you have to stay in situations that are more unsafe than leaving your residence – which this sounds like it is.

      Is there anywhere you can stay at least temporarily, like a friend’s house or a trans-friendly shelter? It seems like you’re a bit wary of calling a DV hotline, so although I agree that it applies here that probably isn’t the step for you.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      No advice here, just moral support. I hope you can find a path to living with someone less volatile. Or that your roommate finds a path to living elsewhere.

    4. Anono-me*

      I think that since you are a big scary tattooed biker, it might actually be beneficial for you to call domestic violence helpline for advice and also you should be recording on your phone when your roommate is ranting and banging around. If this escalates to the point where your neighbors called authorities, you may have an uphill battle convincing them that you, the big scary tattooed biker, are NOT the aggressor.

      Additionally, almost all domestic violence websites have information specifically on “How to most safely deal with a person in your home / life who feels it’s okay to threaten and/or hurt you.” I go to fashionista websites to find out what the next hot colors are when trying to decide on a paint color for my living room. You can go to websites to find information that will be useful to you, even if the situation is different than what the website host envisioned. You will not be taking away any resources or causing anyone in a DV situation to be denied a seat at the table by viewing a website. (I’m not saying you don’t deserve more resources than a website to feel and be safe, just deferring to your definition of the situation.)

      1. Ugh*

        Unfortunately, recording my roommate would be a very bad idea. I live in a two party consent state where your own home is very explicitly somewhere with an expectation of privacy, so it would be illegal to record him without his express consent.

        1. Anono-me*

          I’m sorry, that was bad advice about recording. Thank you for correctingit.

          I do I hope you figure out a way to feel and be safer.

        2. Reliquary*

          Here in the largest city of my two-party consent state, anyone who is suffering from DV can call this hotline and get assistance including a free hotel room.

          Your thinking right now about future possibilities is preventing you from keeping yourself safe in the NOW. If you link up with some external help, they will also help you deal with your landlord and the damages to your current place.

          Please consider calling your local DV hotline and asking exactly what services might be available to you. Most DV folks are trained well, and know that transfolx are at higher risk.

          There may be another option as well. If your community has a local Queer Exchange on Facebook, please post and ask for help. Your community is ready to help you. You’re family. <3

  5. Cabbagepants*

    I began planting my vegetable and flower garden this week! I have some old favorites (marigolds, tomatoes) and some exciting new kinds (heirloom melons!), too. I can’t wait to see them grow!

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Exciting! My seeds finally arrived (delayed almost a month due to COVID-19) so this weekend I expect to be planting a bunch. The zucchini I already started are doing quite well — 6 plants germinated from the 14 of last year’s seeds. I anticipate a harvesttime full of socially-distant zucchini delivery. What’s that verb?

    2. musician*

      That’s so exciting! I’m getting my plants next weekend. My favorite farmers market vendor decided to sell plants in lieu of the market being open, and was able to set up an online order form and secure the parking lot of a business that’s closed for now, which is where they’ll have the pickup location. They sent instructions to pay via venmo beforehand, drive in and pop the trunk, and they’ll load up the order. I’m super impressed with how quickly they were able to set it up, and I can’t wait to start planting everything!

    3. RoseDark*

      Yay plants! I started a small herb garden that should eventually end up on my balcony. Seeds arrived Thursday, just in time for Beltane planting! I have basil, parsley, thyme, and coriander. One of my partners has promised me sage and rosemary cuttings from their co-op garden whenever I’m able to pick those up, so I’ll have the start of a lovely witch’s garden if my thumb is even barely green.

    4. MistOrMister*

      I wish i was planting! I set up a seed starter kit 2 weeks ago and all I have coming up are radish and cat grass. The tomatoes, cantloupe, catnip and whatever else I threw in refuse to come out. Makes me sad b/c I wasnr able to find whole plants in the store so I guess I might not have a garden this year. Or else all I’ll have to show are radishes!!

      Has anyone tried growing mushrooms? I heard you can cut the stems/root part off ones you get from the store and plant them and they’ll grow. Havent tried it yet. I’m also trying to start cabbage and lettuce by placing the root chunk in water for a couple of weeks. But then the leaves start to rot, so even though they do send,up shoots, I must be doing something wrong.

      1. pancakes*

        For mushrooms you need a growing medium that’s been inoculated with spores. I just had a very successful experience growing blue oyster mushrooms out a grow bag from a company in my city called smallhold. I’ve also seen grow kits for sale from a company in Maine called North Spore Mushrooms, and they have a lot of information on their site about the growing process, including videos they’ve made.

        Maybe your lettuce and cabbage are in too much water? The leaves shouldn’t be wet, just the base where you want roots to start developing. When trying to start plants from cuttings you don’t want to have any leaves below the waterline.

    5. Retail not Retail*

      We got half our spring order this week and I was part of planting yesterday in that I surrounded the new babies with red pine bark nuggets and watered them.

      It’s been a year and I’m still like Donkey in the first Shrek sent to get flowers with this thorn and this petal. I’m not colorblind, I’m just like… white flowers white flowers oh crap the boss which white flowers?

      I’m a bit bummed to see our winter stuff leave to be honest. The pansies and violas are still so bright! And the squirrels and ducks only destroyed our centerpieces in pots. I mean you put in purple cabbage, what can you expect?

    6. WellRed*

      After my basil and chives sprouted, they have done nothing else. The basil seems to have shrunk back into the soil and the chives are lying flat. Not sure what I did or didn’t do, but am discouraged by this herb fail.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        If you can get your hands on fresh basil, you can stick it in a glass/jar with water and it will eventually grow roots.

      2. RoseDark*

        Sounds like a job for plant food? Just a stab in the dark; I’m no expert.

    7. Venus*

      I am starting to harden my tomatoes and peppers outside. Hopefully I will be able to plant them next weekend, if the weather cooperates! It’s still too cold at night to leave them out.

    8. StellaBella*

      I have planted zucchini, melons, potatoes, marigolds, basil, cat grass, gladiolus, radishes, and poppies all in containers and on a palette I found, on my balcony. Potatoes will be ready in two weeks or so as I stuck them in soil in January. I have a small balcony, about 3feet by 4feet. I love container gardening!

    9. Bluebell*

      I’m thinking of planting the many packets of flower seeds I have from past years, just to see what might happen.

      1. pancakes*

        A lot of the seeds I sowed this year were fairly old, from 2016, and I’ve been surprised by how well they’ve done. I sowed two kinds of tomatoes, Roma and Principe Borghese, and most of both have come up and are doing very well, and German thyme also from 2016, and that’s doing very well too. The marigolds seem to be duds, not one of those came up, but the zinnias I think are also from 2016 or so, ‘Cactus’ zinnias, and they’re growing like mad.

    10. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I managed to murder my zucchini seedlings so I’m going to have to plant a new set. I have several other plants that are way past time to plant into a bigger pot but it’s too cold outside and I don’t want to kill them like I did the zucchini so I’m not sure what to do. Hopefully it will be warmer next week.

  6. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    For the record, this thread is not limited to fiction, any writing goes.
    In between working on something that shan’t be discussed in this thread I’ve had a little time to work on one of my fiction projects. It’s going pretty well.

    1. DuckDuck*

      My personal writing is going well, I am doing a diary project writing snapshots of key memories from my life so I have it when I get old.

      My attempts at writing for work, not so well. I am dispirited by two things – one that fiction makes so little on Amazon. If you’re lucky you might make 2k a year out of it for what is a lot of work. I think 2k is a lot of money to me generally speaking but not for that amount of work. When I have written for buyers it took me all week to write something worth $200. I live in a place with one of the world’s highest minimum wages so it’s hard to feel motivated to write for so little.

      Second, that if you want to make money or get read you need to follow basically a template. You can’t write what one person called a ‘fairy floss hamburger.’ No one wants a fairy floss hamburger, they want a hamburger with meat like they recognise.

      So, I am not sure what I want to do with my attempts at professional writing. I’m not sure it is worth the investment of time and energy to write something I’m not that keen on for what is a small amount of money. I may just write and publish for fun.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        There’s nothing wrong with doing it for fun, not at all. I know someone who only writes for herself; very rarely does anyone else ever see it. I think me and her husband are the only two people who’ve read it (and she’s not bad). She just doesn’t want to deal with any of the other stuff and that’s okay.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          I’ve written a few poems I actually like. And the few people who’ve seen them have liked them. But I’m not sure I’ll ever do anything more with them…given my relative privileged status in our culture, I’m not sure I have anything to say that hasn’t been said a million times before. But if I’m just writing for me, then that doesn’t really matter, because it’s just for me.

          I feel like I should be thinking about a gaming scenario for a convention next year…but it’s hard to get motivated, not knowing whether large events will be allowed – or safe – by then.

    2. Daisy Avalin*

      I really need to get on with my HP fanfic, but the Muse is non-existent, and has been for several years now!! It’s really annoying, because I can’t continue till I fix this one little bit (as it will become a bigger part (or maybe not, I haven’t decided)!) but I just have no ideas!
      Think, if I can get on the computer around Child’s studies, I may just stick a placeholder symbol in place of the non-idea, and then write on as if I’d solved it, and hope that at some point my brain/fingers just fill in the right thing for me!

    3. nep*

      I actually did a guest post on the website of an organisation I very much respect and admire. Felt great to do some writing. I have hated so much of what I’ve written over time, that I rarely write anything anymore. So I was quite happy for that opportunity. (They liked an idea I had for a piece and asked me to go with it and write a guest post.)

    4. Princess Zelda*

      Finalized the script and recorded this month’s episode of my podcast; I was exhausted by the end of Thursday night but it was worth it! Now I need to figure out how to ease myself through my May research. April was *hard* and time seemed to warp, but it’s a new month and a new start.

        1. Princess Zelda*

          It’s a history podcast about American first ladies; I just recently started, so this was only the second proper episode. I’m currently hosting on SoundCloud, since it was fairly straightforward to set up. I’ve actually done most of the research for my next episode, but actually writing the script is not going super well. My brain just keeps going “words? I don’t believe in them.” I started right before the plague and committed to one episode a month, and thankfully that still seems like a workable goal.

          1. nep*

            Super interesting.
            (brain: ‘words? I don’t believe in them.’–love this.)
            All the best.

          2. Fikly*

            That sounds so interesting!

            I recently learned amazing things about Calvin Coolidge (apparently he would ring the bell to call his staff/security and then hide behind the curtains in the oval office or under his desk, repeatedly. He also had a pet racoon) and now am desperately curious about his wife.

    5. Claire*

      Commercial publishing is a trainwreck right now, with contracts cancelled and books delayed. My agent’s advice was to write whatever I liked for now and we’ll see how things go.

      With that in mind, I put my pirate novel to one side, and I’m writing a short story set in my Janet Watson universe (near future SF, with the US in a new Civil War). What a relief! I’ve written almost 1K today and I’m not done yet.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I’m into outlining in the screenplay class. I was trying to play with format a little bit, and actually write some of it, but without software, it’s just excruciatingly difficult. A Word template was just not going to cut it. Then I found this demo of Fade In and OMG I AM IN LOVE. I think I might pony up for the full version (it’s a one-time purchase and updates are free, plus it has a Rian Johnson endorsement).

      It’s really fun trying this new way of telling a story (new for me, anyway). I feel like once I get used to the software, it will just flow. The tool you use really does make a difference; if you have to struggle, it cuts into your stream of consciousness.

    7. Anonnington*

      “Monetize,” and, “Receive credit,” are the key terms for me. Less anonymous writing on the internet, more writing in print with my name on it.

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    For the record, this thread is not limited to video games, any kind of game can be discussed here.
    I grabbed a free copy of Total War: Shogun 2 (loosing yet another bit of my faith in humanity in the process) and am thoroughly getting my ass kicked by it. I will get the hang of it eventually though.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      Still Animal Crossing, still obsessed. It’s keeping me going through the pandemic…

      However, I bought two Nintendo vouchers for this month’s ‘you can’t go outside’ treat and the first one has been spent on FE3H which I’ll start today.

      1. ALM2019*

        Is animal crossing a game you can play by yourself? Meaning you don’t know anyone else that plays. I’ve been considering getting it but I’ve never played. I’ve seen people on YouTube talk about visiting each other’s islands.

        1. Dr.KMnO4*

          You can definitely play Animal Crossing alone. You won’t get all of the different types of fruit if you don’t play online, and your turnip experience will be much more limited, but I play solo and enjoy it immensely.

          I’ve played every day since launch, so let me know if you have any questions.

            1. Dr.KMnO4*

              From my experience: you have one native fruit, you find coconuts on every Mystery Island, your mom mails you another type of fruit, and that turns out to be the same fruit you occasionally find instead of your native fruit on a Mystery Island.

              Apparently the fruit your mom sends you is usually different than the one you get occasionally from Mystery Islands. But I guess I was unlucky with that. And I haven’t seen any fruit on a Mystery Island tour other than pears (my native), coconuts, and cherries (the one I got in the mail). I think Nintendo is trying to encourage people to subscribe to their online service and trade fruits and stuff that way.

              I’d love it if I could find the rest of the fruits on a Mystery Island tour. Maybe they’ll patch that in, or maybe it’s in the game already and I just haven’t visited enough Mystery Islands.

              1. LJay*

                Yeah I’ve gotten 3 types. (4 if you count coconuts).

                My native is orange.

                My mom sent me peaches on my first day and I planted them and planted more that I picked every time I had “plant a fruit tree” for a Nook Miles+ task now I have tons of peaches.

                And I occasionally find pears on mystery islands. Planted those on my island as well.

                You get coconuts on mystery islands too. And bamboo. (I also got some bamboo shoots after purchasing turnips I think).

            2. Nessun*

              There are also online communities where you can go get resources (and particularly get decent turnip prices) just by a one time use of their dodo code. You don’t have to friend them, you dont have to tip (some will ask but its very clear who doesn’t care), and there’s no long term relationship required – one trip and the code expires.

        2. LDN Layabout*

          +1 to Dr. KMnO4

          You can definitely play it alone, but also it’s very easy to make friends with people who do (if you have the online account of course) but you won’t miss out on too much.

    2. DarthVelma*

      Well, we finally beat the first scenario of Mansions of Madness last night. We’re picking another scenario and playing again tonight.

      I have to say I’m even more impressed with the companion app after last night. Even though the basic scenario was the same, the interchangeable tiles and the app really changed the layout in a way that made it all fresh. We discovered rooms we didn’t even know existed from the first two playthroughs. I’m a convert.

      In other gaming news, I got my butt kicked at online Monopoly by a 16 year old…again. That game hates me. But COD:Modern Warfare:Warzone hates me more. I cannot get through an entire game without it crashing and it’s making me bonkers. My old Fortnite squad really wants to play that game. I’ve tried every single suggested fix on the internet. I waited for some updates to go through to see if that would help. Still crashing. I can’t even play long enough to figure out if I even really like the game. Argh!!!

    3. Nicki Name*

      I made it to the church route in FE3H after recruiting all the recruitable characters. Then I noticed a couple of the ones I recruited didn’t show up after the timeskip. I guess they’re going to be opponents in this route?

      I’m already making plans about how to train everyone up next time through. Late in my first playthrough, I wrote down notes on what all the master class requirements are so that I could get the students aimed in the right direction to start with. This time, I’ve discovered that setting up master classes too early means some of them don’t have good intermediate/advanced matches. Oh well, I’ve got two more chances to do better! (Plus eventually I’ll come back to this game to play through everything in hard mode.)

      1. Purt's Peas*

        Some of them will be opponents–be sure to defeat them with your Byleth character if they show up on the map, and you may be able to re-recruit them.

    4. The Witch of the Wilds*

      I’m not playing anything at the moment; my computer is trying its darnedest to give up the ghost and I’m praying it holds on until my stimulus check comes in (next week, fingers crossed) & I can just drop it all on a whole new rig.

      But I’m so excited for the new AC game they announced this week, Valhalla. I really loved AC: Odyssey so I’m not only glad they’re sticking with the RPG stuff but that we’re getting another playable female protagonist. As much as I love Vikings, it was going to be a hard pass unless I could play a woman so my relief was immeasurable.

    5. Kate Monster*

      I started playing World of Warcraft again – after a ten year hiatus! My friend’s fiancé also restarted, so we’ve been doing dungeons together.

      For the non-screen games: I moved back in with my parents for shelter-in-place, and my mother has been teaching me mahjong.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Still galumphing along in Best Fiends on the phone (my consoles are packed away). I just ground my way out of a boss level! Without paying anything, woo!

      1. Lou*

        Oh is that fun? I keep hearing ads for it and it sounds like it might be good, but I’m already spending too much time on Animal Crossing so it’s hard to justify another game.

    7. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      I’m still taking my time with a replay of Witcher 3 and enjoying myself (especially the alchemy and armor crafting) immensely. BF and I played What Remains of Edith Finch over a few evenings, and it was great! Interactive storytelling, slightly spooky but also nostalgic and loving atmosphere, and cool design elements unique to each character. Just what one wants from an indie game. We also started playing the puzzle game Baba Is You, which is fun to play with a partner to work through the problem solving, though I think it could be frustrating for some people.

    8. AnonEMoose*

      We played “Pathfinder” with our regular gaming group last weekend (we were able to play remotely). And we’ve been playing “Dragon Age: Inquisition.”

  8. Ugh*

    So I’ve had a bad night. I should talk about happier things. Who likes motorcycles? I have a blue Kawasaki Vulcan 650 decked out with Spock stickers. Maybe I’ll go practice slow speed maneuvers at the train station tomorrow? Parking lot should be utterly deserted on a Saturday in a pandemic. I love my motorcycle, but I haven’t been able to ride much. I really want to practice. I just feel like I need some guidance to my practice. I don’t know how much I’ve really learned since the basic skills course.

    1. Not A Manager*

      My partner has a BMW 1150R that he loves. A few years ago he and some friends took a trip of a lifetime to Switzerland, rented bikes and toured around. I had zero desire to ride on the back of bike in the Swiss Alps, so I stayed home.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My husband had a R90/6 and an R69 US. (Had to say US, according to him.) Yeah, they were old bikes.

        OP, there are motorcycle safety courses available. Maybe they have created online courses now, which would still be worthwhile even though they are not in person. The in-person course my husband took was EXCELLENT. They really worked ya though, there was a classroom section and the a field practice session in the same day. My husband would take twice the usual amount of food for lunch and he ate all of it. When he came home his day was over. But they really showed ya how to handle stuff. There was a beginner course and there was an experienced rider course. When you get done, you KNOW that you KNOW. It’s very well worth the time. He’d take the course every few years, to stay current with the latest techniques and the latest thinking. He rode bikes for decades and had well over 200k miles under his belt. These safety courses are a good life habit.

    2. KR*

      Husband and I have a Honda Shadow. The local state park near us closed and all the other roads near us are straight lines, so unfortunately it looks like the prime riding season window in our area is over and thanks to COVID we haven’t ridden at all. My husband isn’t supposed to leave the base we live on unless it’s for grocery shopping/essential and he isn’t allowed to leave the immediate area. Very disappointing and sad. Have fun with your slow manuevers – the best way to stay safe is to practice!

      1. Jaid*

        I took a nice long drive today along the Delaware river in the Easton PA/New Hope area. Lots of motorbikes were out!

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

      If you come to my neck of the woods (Brooklyn, NY), you’ll actually have a lot of company. Since the stay-at-home order started, I’ve never heard more motorcycles scream by in my life (I live near a highway). It’s as if someone gave out the advice that revving a motorcycle engine to its redline will make you immune. So weird. But I do think motorcycles are cool. Good luck!

      1. Atheist Nun*

        Yeah, I live in Brooklyn (also a librarian!), and my apartment windows overlook Flatbush Ave. I can hear the dirt bike/ATV crowd revving their engines each weekend, just like they did pre pandemic. I live on the 12th floor and can hear the noise loud and clear, but I am too high up to see if they are wearing masks.

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

          My guess is, if they’re going as fast as their screaming engines are making it sound, whether or not they’re masked is the least of the problems, sadly.

    4. Greasy turtle burger*

      Best way to get better is to ride it! I took the rider safety course on a lil Honda Nighthawk 250.A week later, I got out on my 86 Honda Goldwing 1200. I dont think my legs ever shook so hard from fear, but after a mile, my riding buddy said he looked over and saw me grinning ear to ear.

      1. BlackBelt Jones*

        I did a course that sounds like that one, on the same type of bike! Are you in Ohio?
        (My course was taken in the 80’s though…)

        1. Greasy turtle burger*

          Nah,Im in TN. Took mine in the early 2000s.Did they make y’all run over lumber? I didnt quite believe it when the instructors started gettin it out. And forget the figure 8 in a parking space thing.I couldnt manage that on a bicycle!

          1. BlackBelt Jones*

            Lumber!! Oh, no! We didn’t do that, thank goodness!

            We *did* do the figure 8 thing, though. I got pretty good at it, actually. :-)

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Well the one thing right now is there is not as much traffic. So get out there and ride!
      Closed malls also mean lots of wide open spaces to practice in for learning close maneuvers, turns and weaving.

    6. Anono-me*

      Do you have a way to video record yourself riding? I think watching a video of yourself doing something can be a helpful self-critique tool.

      1. Ugh*

        California contracts with Total Control to do our basic skills course now, rather than the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, so the MSF has little presence in the state. Total Control does have their own intermediate and advanced courses. I’ve paid for both, but COVID-19 has thrown when I can actually take them up in the air. There is a private motorcycle safety school that usually operates a couple counties north of me, but currently has plans to run their traffic skills course in my county on June 14th, if the shelter in place order gets loosened enough to allow motorcycle range courses. I’ve registered for the course, so if it’s allowed to be held, I’ll be there. I’m optimistic. Governor Newsom said weeks until the first phase of reopening, not months, my county just loosed rules for outdoor activity a little bit, and motorcycle range courses are very easy to do with social distancing in place. You’re already supposed to maintain a healthy space cushion to avoid collisions or intimidating people by tailgating, and turning that into a 6+ foot distance requirement and banning the loaning of gloves and helmets is reasonable enough.

      2. Greasy turtle burger*

        We have the advanced MSA course available here as well.I thought about taking it, but you take it using your own bike. I had to shy away from doing some of the activities on my older( maybe antique?) g-wing. Just dont think she’d handle it too well and parts arent cheap.

        1. Ugh*

          I actually did find a couple interesting intermediate-level MSF courses that Total Control doesn’t offer. My mom lives in Texas, and I need to visit her when the COVID-19 situation is safer (it sure isn’t safe enough right now, whether Texas is reopening or not). My dad recently passed away, so visiting my mom is a big priority. They have the MSF out there. If a school can loan me a bike, I might do the MSF’s street courses when I’m visiting.

    7. The pest, Ramona*

      I have a Vulcan too, love it! I’ve only ridden once since this started, but it felt great to be out on the road. I’ve only been riding a few years, took the safety course and had a smaller starter bike til I got the hang of it. I consider the ride exercise, I’m small and not strong, so is a workout for me.

    8. funemployed scholar*

      I promise you that any old grizzly biker would be happy to teach you. My dad is one (my mom was too–less grizzled) and I’ve been around them my whole life. It really is a lifestyle and they would welcome you with open arms. You can always take classes at Harley dealerships, but why spend the money :)

    9. funemployed scholar*

      My dad and I are fixing up an ’83 Virago. I’m a small woman and it’s probably way too big for me but I finally convinced my dad I’m old enough to have my own ( I AM 33 ) so we are finally getting it together. It was fun until the Cov hit and I haven’t been able to go back home to see him for 2 months but hopefully soon. It’s a great bike, it was in a shed for 10 years and a barn for 10 before that lolz

    10. pugs for all*

      Hi Ugh – I hope you got some wind therapy today! Perfect day for it, at least here in the Northeast USA.

      My husband has gone to American Supercamp Riding School a few times. Besides having a great time, he always comes back feeling like he has learned a ton that helps him in street riding. And did I mention he has so. much. fun? He has gone to ones in Harrington, DE but they hold them all over the country.

      I plan to join him at some point – got my motorcycle license in 2018, then broke my elbow in June 2019 and was out all season. And this year is…well, it is what it is.

  9. NeverNicky*

    A UK based coffee chain is re-opening less than 30 of its stores for drive through today, and one of them is in my small town!

    I am beyond excited.

    Food and drink has become a major focus in lockdown. We are so lucky that we have access to delivery/pick up for both a major supermarket and local specialists plus the income to be able to go beyond the basics.

    It’s made me realise even more how strong people here had to be in the war – coping with all the stress, fear, bombings etc plus pretty severe food rationing. Without good cheese and chocolate, I’d be very very low.

    1. Lena Clare*

      What chain is this? I haven’t heard of it and would be glad to get out and have a good coffee.

    2. London Calling*

      Wish you hadn’t said that, because I’d love a cappuccino right now. What chain is it? (asking for a friend).

    3. misspiggy*

      OMG it’s Costa, I’m so excited. They are normally such a part of our time-off routine that their closure really symbolised how messed up everything is.

      1. London Calling*

        Ooooh, have a Costa a couple of hundred yards away, might go and have a look this morning. Hope they are doing pain au raisins (pains au raisins? pains au raisin? whatever) as well :)

        1. NeverNicky*

          There are very few opening, and only for drive through or delivery.

          We’re in a small town in East Anglia so no delivery (for pretty much any fast food except Dominos) and even having a Costa was exciting, so an OPEN Costa

          1. London Calling*

            And one of them isn’t mine ;((. Damn, the minute my branch opens I am in there. No idea why I miss cappuccino so much, I’m by no means a big coffee drinker. I think it’s because it means weekends and lazing around.

            1. A bit of a saga*

              I think it’s also because it symbolises a (slow) return to ‘normality’ (however our new normal might look). McDonalds, a place I normally never frequent, reopened some of their drive-thru’s here last week and I seriously considered going, just because I could.

          2. Historic Hamlet Dweller*

            I’ve just realised that one near us is open too (hooray for East Anglia, we may have limited takeout options but there are a lot of drive through Costa)

      2. anonymouse for this*

        I’m jealous :0) would love a ham and cheese toastie but several thousand miles away right now

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Nice, I haven’t tried them. I usually go to Caffe Nero or a local shop when I’m in the UK.

    4. London Calling*

      I have noticed that about food. I’m buying stuff that’s a bit more expensive and thinking I’m not paying commuting costs, I just had a hefty raise, I can afford it and I’M WORTH IT.

      1. Lissa*

        That’s been me at the grocery store – I’m saving SO much money by not doing most of my usual stuff like Starbucks or going out for dinner that I am splurging more at the grocery store and not even worrying about it.

    5. MistOrMister*

      I’ve looked at some recipes from WWI specifically for rationing and dear lord above they mostly did not look at all palatable. I am hoping that palates were different then and it wasn’t such a horrible time for them to have to eat those things as I think it would be for us now. We definitely have it easy compared to previous generations!!!

      1. WellRed*

        Palates were different then. Even more recently, they were different and keep evolving.

      2. Chaordic One*

        I was reading about recipes from the Great Depression of the 1930s and back then, when people were going hungry and literally starving, there was a much greater emphasis placed on nutrition. Taste, not so much.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Plus, if the food you have is all you have, you’ll eat it. I used to date someone who would eat anything I made no matter what because he grew up that way. They couldn’t afford to be picky; you ate the dinner or you went to bed hungry.

          1. The pest, Ramona*

            That’s how I grew up, my family was frugal, and my mom wasn’t always the best at flavor when I was really young. I still eat the food in front of me. But to be honest, I want food that is really tasty and well made (and nutritious) now that I control my diet most of the time.

          2. allathian*

            Yeah, it’s a real luxury to be able to refuse to eat something because you don’t like the taste. In my country we have a saying, “hunger is the best condiment”. And it’s true.

      3. WS*

        My grandparents were in Aberdeen during WWII and on severe rations. They moved to South Africa immediately after the war and were thrilled to be greeted off the ship with a big basket of groceries with fresh bread, meat, vegetables and fruit – they thought this would be an amazing week’s rations! They were then very surprised when a member of the welcoming committee showed up at their door the next day to take them shopping – that was just a welcome gift, not their rations!

      4. knead me seymour*

        Although my aunt made me a jar of courgette lemon curd from a wartime recipe, and I thought that was pretty good. I might be able to survive on faux lemon curd and the National Loaf indefinitely.

  10. Belgian*

    I’m looking for a good quality exercise mat that offers enough cushion to do pilates but will also stand up to do doing HIIT exercises in sneakers on it. Anyone got any brand recommendations?

    1. acmx*

      I had the locking tiles before, like gyms use. I might have gotten them from greatmats? Probably the 3/4″.

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      I have a Manduka yoga mat that is made from recycled tires that seems like it would hold up to the job. I haven’t used it for those activities, but I’ve had it for close to 10 years and it’s held up beautifully! It is very strong without being stiff and it isn’t too squishy like some yoga mats are. I could see it working.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        It’s the Manduka Pro. In looking up, I saw that they also have a separate mat that is fitness specific. It’s a good company so I’m sure that one is good too.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Whenever I see the word liminal I have to look it up. Every. Single. Time.
      But yes, liminal is it right now!

    2. Overeducated*

      I have loved this word since i learned it (in Latin class many years ago).

    3. OtterB*

      I love that word and concept. It is human, I think, or at least an entrenched part of western culture, to want to move right along to the next thing, whatever it may be. But there’s growth to be had in uncertainty.

    4. Chaordic One*

      Someone has to make a joke using the word, “subliminal.” It’s meaning is not as closely related to “liminal” as you would think. Weird, huh?

    5. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      It’s so awesome to see other people expressing their love of the word ‘liminal’! I’ve loved it ever since reading about liminal groups in Kate Fox’s ‘Watching the English’ (hilarious btw).
      Oh, and yes, liminal is definitely very apt right now.

  11. Marble Cake*

    Pen Pals!

    I am teaching my children to write letters and how to address envelopes. They are currently writing family members, but it made think about pen pals. I know social media makes it easy to communicate but I am old fashioned. I don’t have Facebook and rarely text. I prefer to call or meet in person.

    Does anyone have a pen pal? Where did you find your own pal? What do you write about or send? I am curious how this works in today’s world.

    1. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I have been penpalling since I was a kid. I am now in my 60’s and still keep in touch with two, a woman in England, a man in Australia (I did go to visit him once in 1988 or so) and a woman from Belgium who found me on facebook. I don’t remember where I got their names from. It was so much fun learning about other countries. I have visited other pen pals in the Netherlands, Germany, England, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. (It helped that I was in the military stationed nearby.) Most of my penpals were women and as they got older, got married and had kids, they would lose interest in writing.

      You might want to check out Postcrossing (dot) com, a website that facilitates the exchange of post cards around the world. It is awesome! You can request names only in your country or international (be advised international postage is crazy expensive these days!)

      I am thinking maybe I will write to some of them to see how they are doing these days. Thanks for your post–it is bringing back some wonderful memories! I hope your project goes well!

      1. Marble Cake*

        Thank you!! I checked it out! I might try it out with the kids.

        And I’m glad I can bring some good memories:)

    2. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

      This is totally not how it works in today’s world, but I had a pen pal in high school (late 90s) that I got from a pen pal service. Digging around the internet, I’m pretty sure it was IYS. We didn’t get our addresses as a class, although I’m pretty sure I got the information through school. I was connected to a girl in Ireland and we wrote regularly for several years. We’re Facebook friends now, although not actively in touch anymore.

      I also have a group of friends I met on TWoP close to 15 years ago. There’s a group of about 20 of us who all met on one forum and are still friends to this day. We’ve gone through various levels of meeting in person, vacationing together, writing real letters, sending holiday cards, doing a birthday gift exchange, sharing a single DVD that we would mail with a journal from person to person, and are now mostly Facebook friends, since our lives have all changed so much from where we were at (mostly just out of college, 20-somethings) back then. I haven’t found that level of closeness again with a group of starting-from-strangers on a public forum, but it was a pretty special connection that we found at the right time in our lives.

      1. Fisherwoman*

        Oh my I remember IYS! I’m facebook friends with several of my old IYS penpals….and I miss letter writing.

      2. 2QS*

        I’m part of a group of nine who met on a tiny bulletin board 15+ years ago. Many of us have met many of the others in person, written letters, taken photos, done big collaborative projects online together, and so on. Some of my closest friends to this day.

    3. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I meant to say that the woman in Belgium found me on facebook last month but we had been penpals years ago and had fallen out of touch. The other two have stayed in touch with me these past 40 years or so.

      We would talk about our daily lives, our families, and current events. It helped me pay attention to things happening in other countries or states and I could always ask them about it.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think the way children find penpals nowadays is that their parents hook them up with their own friends’ children in other cities/countries.

    5. MistOrMister*

      I am happy to text but I hate social media. And I always wanted a pen pal. I think I might have an old phone book…maybe I will pick a name at random and send someone a letter! Just for the heck of it.

    6. Lady Alys*

      I’m in several fountain pen groups on Facebook and there are always people looking for penpals.

    7. glitter crayon*

      You could look into volunteering to write letters with Letters Against Depression. They write to people who are struggling. I had some letters from them during a very hard time and it was wonderful

      1. Misty*


        Thanks for telling us about this site. I just looked them up and it looks very interesting.

      2. LadyGrey*

        Thank you so much for this. I just looked up this organization and signed up to do some letter writing. I have dealt with depression and mental health stuff throughout my life and can imagine how much a letter might have meant to me when I was really struggling. The opportunity to maybe help somebody in this way is so amazing. Thank you!!

    8. OtterB*

      I always wanted a pen pal as a kid (I’m in my 60s.) I signed up and wrote someone a couple of times and might have gotten one response back, but never really engaged with anyone.

      I did meet a group of fellow moms on the Catholic Moms section of an online parenting forum more than 20 years ago. We spun off into an email group. We e-mailed for years, through several different group emails. A few years ago we realized that the half dozen of us that were left were all on Facebook, so we set up a private Facebook group. A few of us have met in person, but mostly it’s online. We have supported each other through job losses and health issues and moves and parenting challenges like a kid coming out as trans, and we’ve also celebrated trips, children, grandchildren, and the small joys of life. They are an important part of my life, different from my in-person friends but equally valuable.

    9. Blarg*

      I had a pen pal when I was a kid. Now I am a frequent card-sender. In the before times, I’d send postcards from anywhere interesting (even local) and always kept postcard stamps in my wallet which helped ensure I actually sent the cards. There are some fun stamps right now, like a Sesame Street line, which might inspire your kids. The challenge, I think, will be getting people to write back… I enjoy the sending a lot but for kids reciprocation may be more important.

      In elementary school (in the 80s), we had to write a “business letter” to a national park and request info. I wrote Crater Lake and getting that pack of glossy brochures and such weeks later was a joy. I still hope to go there one day. And send postcards.

      Good luck! Your kids will make people’s days if they get a card from them. It’ll go on the fridge for sure.

      1. Marble Cake*

        I remember having to write letters to businesses. It was extremely exciting if they responded.

    10. Alston*

      So in 5th and 6th grade we had pen pals in Germany. My teacher had a friend who taught about the same age kids in a tiny town in Germany (they met on a message board about Golden Retrievers in thr 90s), so we wrote to them.

      The. German kids had already learned some English and wr

    11. Postcrosser*

      One alternative is Postcrossing, an international postcard exchange. It’s free to join and you are assigned people to send postcards on a completely random basis, both domestic and international. Google it for more info

      1. Blueberry*

        Oh huh how did I miss your comment before I posted mine! Anyway, I heartily second the Postcrossing recommendation.

    12. Got Cats?*

      I have a penpal. We’ve been penpals for 40 years. We have never met in person. She’s in the UK, I’m in the US. My dad was in our navy, and his submarine was stationed there over Christmas, and her family adopted my dad for the holidays. They had a daughter my age (10) and a daughter my sister’s age, and it’s evolved over the years from actual letters to emails, Facebook, etc. It has added tremendous joy to my life.

    13. Blueberry*

      May I recommend Postcrossing? It connects people from all over the world to send each other postcards. It’s allowed to become penpals but not required.

      Like others, I’ve had penpals almost my whole life, starting with distant family (since I’m an immigrant) and going onwards through school-mediated connections and fanclubs and such. I LOVE writing people and sending little pieces of myself across the world.

      1. WinterHasCome*

        I was just going to suggest that! I’ve been doing that for about 14 years or so.

    14. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Addressing envelopes is one thing. Decorating them is a form of art called Mail Art (google the term). Every year the National Association of Letter Carriers sponsors a contest for decorated envelopes called The Graceful Envelope. There are both adult and childrens categories. Years ago, the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service created a traveling exhibition of Graceful Envelope winners from 1995 to 1999 and sent them around the US to 16 different cities from 2002 to 2005. I was lucky enough to see that exhibit when it came to my city, and it was fabulous.

  12. Lena Clare*

    That picture of Hank is gorgeous! He’s so clean (said with envy).

    My cat, Albert, who is almost identical to Hank, came in the night before yesterday with his belly covered in mud. It was a real battle washing and brushing him. I managed to get out some more clumps of fur too and he’s slightly cleaner and better groomed now! I’ll post a picture in the comments.

      1. Anono-me*

        Oh dear. I thanks from the look on his face that you better sleep with one eye open for quite some time.

        (But it is a very handsome face.)

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      I miss my long-haired Fred. He loved to stretch out full length on the floor while I brushed him. He was the only cat I owned who also loved having his ears cleaned with a q-tip. I think the wax and dirt bothered him because he would lay on my lap for hours while I gently cleaned out the gunk.

    2. Perse's Mom*

      That photo just encompasses so much Cat-ness.

      Your Albert looks less than thrilled (but is very handsome anyway).

  13. Jay*

    Well, a little bit of Pandemic Cheer this week.
    About 10 months ago a butcher shop opened up in a nearby town. It’s a bit out of the way, not in any of the big shopping plazas in the area (although on a road that gets quite a bit of travel). It’s not a terrible location, but they haven’t been doing much business and I was afraid that they might close. See, they specialize in fresh, local meats, super high grade stuff, way better than any grocery store anywhere near here. Everything sourced from local farms. Every steak, chop, or chicken comes with the name and location of the farm it was raised on, everything cut and trimmed to order. They even have a smoker and do the best pulled pork I’ve had outside North Carolina. It’s just amazing.
    Well, the first week the Pandemic really hit, and the state faced restrictions on business openings and travel, all the meat disappeared from the big national chains. Supply line issues. Suddenly, getting your meat on a freezer car or tractor trailer from the midwest was not a great idea any more.
    You know who still had a totally uninterrupted supply? The butcher shop. Because all their meat came from just a few miles away. Those of us who frequented the place put the word out that people could get food there (along with several farmers markets that also carried mostly super local produce).
    Now business is positively booming! Even though the national chains are fully stocked (around here, anyway) people are sticking to the butchers. They actually needed to take on more staff, nearly doubling the number of people on duty at any given time.
    It’s great for the butchers, it’s great for local farmers, and it’s great for the buying public.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I love this. Our local butcher has a board up saying where the meat has come from and it does give you confidence. This kind of butchery, retail and indeed farming is good.

    2. Clementine*

      It also sounds like the butchers aren’t using products from those ghastly infected meat-processing plants. I am making an effort to not consume any more meat from those places, given how horribly the workers have been treated. That’s great news about your butcher.

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        You may want to look into how those meat processing plants treat the animal as well. There’s a reason it’s called factory farming and that’s what those processing plants are.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I’ve been getting my meat from a New England meat CSA for over 2 years now. Organic local meat delivered to my door (before pandemic). All I do is pick the amount and if there’s anything I want to exclude.

      The popularity of this place has taken off with the pandemic apparently so they have fewer monthly specials (optional add-ons with your order) this month but it’s nice to support local farmers and butchers and also not have anxiety about our food supply.

      1. Alex*

        Same here, and I’m so grateful for it now! I’ve had mine for many years and now there’s a waiting list.

    4. Sarah*

      As a farmer who has seen the demand for our meat quadruple in the last two months, thank you! It has been a wild ride, but we’re thankful that people have been shopping local. Now, I’m just hoping that the demand stays this high post quarantine.

      1. Jay*

        Congratulations on the business upswing!
        And thank YOU for all you do to keep your community supplied with food in these trying times.
        As a younger man I worked as a farmhand and know just how difficult and stressful that life can be at the best of times.

    5. Quiet Liberal*

      This is the best news! We started buying chickens and beef from a local organic farm a few months ago. At first, I balked at the prices, but wow, what a difference! It really is so much better than anything you can get at the grocery store. We’ve just cut back elsewhere.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        We found that we use less of the better meat (because the flavour is better and it isn’t pumped up) so the prices are closer than they look.

        1. Quiet Liberal*

          You are absolutely right about that. I meant to say that because it is so much more flavorful, we can enjoy a small steak and be satisfied. There really is a difference in quality, for sure.

    6. Parenthetically*

      We had a similar deal with a local farmer we’ve gotten meat from in the past through a CSA. They supplied a lot of high-end local restaurants, which they’re obviously not doing at the moment, but they’re now doing home deliveries of their incredibly high-quality meat — at about 50x their previous volume of home delivery. It delights me deep in my soul that more people are realizing the power and safety there is in the shortest possible supply chain.

    7. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      My brother is talking about getting one of the hogs the meat plants can’t process and butchering it ourselves. The logistics seem a bit tricky, but also it seems like a lot of fun. I’ve really enjoyed the smaller butchering I’ve done before. I probably shouldn’t be googling “homemade bacon recipes” though until we know we’re going to do it.

      1. Mimosa Jones*

        My dad used to represent a company that made portable butchering facilities. He was helping them find a US market for their product. I think the regulations got in their way, but I’ve wondered if something like that could t be a solution right now.

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          I think the problem isn’t just facilities, though they would help. You’d need people who know how to use them. I’m game to give it a go, but a majority of people probably would not be. And I’d take forever, do a kind of lousy job, and have no idea of commercial food safety for butchering. None of those are a big deal for family and friends use, but all would be important if done on a scale large enough to make up our missing production.

          I would really love a meat locker though. Everything else we can approximate at home with a bit of planning, but I don’t know how we are going to cool the meat. Ice bath in the bathtub, I guess.

      2. WS*

        A lot of butchers in my (very rural) area have a private service where they will come to your place and slaughter and butcher the animal for you – if there’s an actual butcher nearby, you should ask them! Unfortunately they tend to advertise this by painting “WE DO PRIVATES” on the shopfront…

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          Oh dear, that’s hilarious. Our local butcher is a little more upmarket. We could probably get them to do it, but I don’t know what it would cost, and I really want to butcher a pig! I’ve enjoyed what little experience I’ve had.

    8. Ali G*

      YES! I was already a member of a local/organic farm delivery service that has saved my butt. They have a waitlist now. Same with my Butcher Box membership. I only get it every 3 months, but luckily April was my delivery month. We had just run out of ground beef. With a few exceptions, we basically only eat meat from our freezer, and have been doing that for a while so we didn’t have much of an adjustment.

    9. Pennyworth*

      A few weeks ago, at the height of panic buying, I read a report of a similar small butcher selling more chicken in one week tha they normally sell in six months.

    10. Square Root of Minus One*

      Locally raised comsumption has boomed here too. Not just meat. I was already into it (that was the point of my supermarket answer last week as I recall). I usually don’t eat meat at home, but what you observe about uninterrupted supplies, I observed about veggies, flour… and prices didn’t increase nearly as much as the supermarket.
      When I was a kid in the country, my mom used to buy “a cow” from a farm nearby: one animal’s worth of meat in bulk, which was an assortment of meat products we put in the freezer. It was huge, lasted several months for the both of us. Now I don’t have the freezer for this, nor the supplier, but I hope I can revert to something like that later.

    11. Myrin*

      I’ve observed something similar where I live.

      Now, my butcher isn’t nearly as new as yours – the current owner (who is the least butcher-y looking man I have ever seen; other than him, all butchers I know, male or female, all look kinda similar, but he looks like a model for Butchers’ Weekly or something) represents the fifth generation of this family’s owning the building/butchery. We’ve also been buying there for pretty exactly twenty-five years now.

      Because it’s a bit of a hassle to get there without a car, I only go once a month and buy in bulk, but I’ve been doing that for seven years now and because of that (and of course because of the aforementioned 25 years regarding my family), all the people there know me pretty well and we usually chat for a bit while I’m there.
      And during my April visit, I asked one of the workers how they’re doing and she said that it’s mighty stressful right now because one of her colleagues is on maternity leave – which, I didn’t even know she was pregnant; that’s what happens when you only go somewhere monthly and then kinda just don’t see them four or five times – but their customer numbers have skyrocketed and there’s business like it’s the week before Easter every single day.

      I’m incredibly happy for them regarding the money they’re making – even though they’ve (rightly, they’re truly the very best) been very popular all along and never had a lack of customers – but god, you could see that they’re all a bit frazzled right now. I’m interested to see how this will develop over time.

      1. schnauzerfan*

        We have a couple of small scale “game processors” that deal mainly with deer, antelope and elk. They also do the private processing of beef or pork. I’ve never dealt with them because I’m a bit squeamish about meeting my food. But the pandemic has been an opportunity for both companies. Both are about an hour away and have both been bringing truckloads of meat to town once a week or so. We’ll the super market we’ve been doing curbside with has limited their sales to one package of meat per customer… here in the heart of beef country. So I braved the meat truck. Wow. Pork very reasonably priced, beef a little higher than the super marked. Meat for the week and some for the freezer. I’m hooked. They don’t do poultry though. I’ll be on the hunt for some chicken or turkey, but were good for meat.

  14. just a random teacher*

    What’s blooming in everyone’s yard right now? This is my third May Day at my current house, and every year I’ve been disappointed that there’s nothing reasonable in the yard to put in May baskets. It’s too late for daffodils and tulips, and too early for roses (they’re just buds). The main thing flowering right now in my yard is rhododendrons.

    As a kid, I mostly grew forget-me-nots for May baskets (I used to leave May baskets on doorsteps all over the neighborhood), but I’m wondering about some other good choices for things that don’t take much work and tend to have blooms on May 1st suitable for getting at least a few May baskets worth. I’m in the PNW, zone 8b.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I do love the rhodies in my front yard. Right now I have a bumper crop of stupid dandelions, not the inoffensive yellow phase but the giant ugly gangly gone-to-seed type. Mowing my lawn yesterday, I felt like I was pushing a little kid’s bubble mower :-P I also have a lot of volunteer green onions growing in my front bed, which is funny to me.

      My lilac bush has started to bloom. The cherry tree has flowers. My peach tree did NOT sick with red blisters this year, unlike the last two, so I’m excited about that, but I’m sure the squirrels still won’t let me get any fruit from it. :-P

      I have a bunch of strawberry plants I want to plant this weekend, but I need to decide what I want to plant them in. My thought is one of those big faux washtub type, then I can put it on my deck and have a better shot at keeping the rabbits out of it.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Re May day – keep in mind that the specific date is based on a specific climate. You really need to adjust the date for your location.

      My daffodils are done, but the tulips are going strong. As are the grape hyacinths.

    3. fposte*

      I must be farther north than you; still got plenty of tulips and late daffodils here. My camassia are just starting to bloom, and the vinca is flowering. Peonies are getting ready–next week for the early ones if the weather stays warm.

    4. RagingADHD*

      My peony has 2 massive blooms open, and several more about to pop.


    5. Falling Diphthong*

      A single red tulip in one corner.
      A single double layer tulip in another bed.
      A single mini tulip in a third bed.

      (I have not been able to kneel for gardening, so new new bulbs last fall or the previous fall.)

      Forsythia! A bridal veil shrub. And the dogwood is finally starting.

      A lone rebel chrysanthemum where I thought the plant had completely died.

      The iris have poked up leaves and I am optimistic there will be flowers.

    6. Generic Name*

      Nothing! :( :( :( spring is veeeery slow to arrive to Denver. My bulbs were blooming but withered when we had a hard freeze two weeks ago. I think the freeze really damaged my neighbor’s lilacs. We are about to plant our veggie seedlings, although I anticipate having to cover the veggie bed at least once before the weather warms up.

      1. schnauzerfan*

        Same in the Black Hills. We have one tulip that seems to have survived. Some crocuses on the hill sides and a really bumper crop of dandelions. My poor mother hates them so. WEEDS. She sneers. Wildflowers I counter.

    7. Auntie Social*

      Violas. So MANY violas. Some azaleas starting, but a halfhearted attempt.

    8. Sam I Am*

      The daffodils popped yesterday. All solid yellow. I have about 200 blooms.

      It gives me a thrill each spring, I should add MOAR BULBZ!!

      1. Cobalt*

        My woodland phlox, rhododendrons, virginia bluebells and jacob’s ladder are all gorgeous right now if you have shady areas!

    9. Bluebell*

      So many grape hyacinths in the garden! And the forsythia seems to be lasting extra-long.

    10. Senor Montoya*

      New Dawn and Josephs Coat roses, white irises, peonies, pinks, oxalis, still some ajuga, candytuft, gerberas, camellias. It’s been a beautiful spring, cooler than it has been for many years.

    11. HeyAnonynony*

      Forsythia has been going for a while. Lilacs are just starting. Daffs and tulips done, bluebells going nuts. Bachelor button (they self seed) are starting a long run.

    12. Jdc*

      Our tomatoes are getting going. Tons of lettuce. Peppers soon.

      Today my husband made me a gorgeous potting table. I’m so in love with it. I need to seal it though but it started raining tonight and I’m exhausted from helping with that and then painting our side door both sides and the trim. It looks so much better now. We did our front last weekend.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Mum has a large pink azalea near the front door. It’s getting ready to burst into bloom.

    14. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Bluebells, dicentra, saxifrage, and the flowering quince still has flowers on it. I planted a ton of bulbs in early March but no signs of life from them at all. They were just cheap packs from the pound shop so they were probably not very good quality to start with. I have some shrubs that have already bloomed and faded (forsythia, flowering currant). I tried some flower seeds but they haven’t come up yet. Although it’s been sunny here it has been fairly windy and chilly at night so I think it’s just too cold.

      1. Laaal*

        I had a couple saxifrage years go but they died off after two seasons. I think it is too humid in the mid-Atlantic area for them.

    15. cleo*

      Spring is going strong here in Chicago. Our daffodils and tulips are beautiful, the serviceberry tree is in bloom and the lily of the valley are budding. Our hepatica is also blooming.

      I’m sad that I haven’t been able to take a wild flower walk yet this spring. We have a couple favorite walks in our local county parks/forest preserves but they are all closed on the weekends because of the pandemic and weekdays are trickier because of my job. But we did drive next to a forest preserve yesterday and saw some lovely patches of May apples, trout lily and spring beauties.

    16. Laaal*

      In Virginia, I have lavender, creeping phlox, iris, indian hawthorne (shrub), baptisa/false indigo, verbena, sweet alyssum (groundcover) and chives blooming right now. They are all purple and pink except the false indigo is yellow and alyssum is white; I guess I don’t like variety, lol! Daffodils and forsythia finished a few weeks ago. This is a really good time for my flower garden; I’ve got a lot of boring time mid-summer so I need to find some new plants for that dead zone.

  15. Vic tower*

    Who are your parenting heroes? Apart from my own parents, who I think did a good job, I would say the Obamas, the Yousafzai (parents of Malala) and Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford… Who else?

    1. Nancy*

      What a great question!
      Apart from my own parents, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Caroline (Ma) Ingalls. I’ve been reading some of the LHotP books to my children, and recently read a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. What Ma had to do to keep her family safe, fed and looked after was amazing. Pa too, but at the same time it does seem that he was the one that wanted to keep moving to new places.

      1. WellRed*

        Have you read the fairly recent fictional account of Ma Ingalls? I think it’s called Caroline. Quite eye opening.

      2. Scarlet Magnolias*

        I don’t know, fictional fathers like Pa Ingalls, Johnny Nolan and (actually a real father) Bronson Alcott, give me a swift pain. They get the credit for “following their dreams” (although Johnny Nolan was a lovable ineffective drunk) and the wife/mother ends up holding the family together. Pa Ingalls in particular.

        1. Nancy*

          I know! Reading LHotP as a child, I thought what great fun Pa was, but then reading them as an adult, I was often horrified at what he did – crossing the Mississippi in the wagon the night before the ice cracked leaps to mind.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, absolutely. I loved the books as a kid and though they had great adventures, but as an adult I do feel for Ma Ingalls. Pa can’t have been all that easy to live with.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I’m not a parent and never will be, but Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union seem to be doing an amazing job.

    3. Torrance*

      The first parents that came to mind to me were Kristen Bell & Dax Shepard. They’re so honest and open about their parenting while staying fiercely protective of their children. Parenting (and, honestly, relationship) goals.

      And, even though her style of parenting is most definitely not for me, I’d say Mayim Bialik as well. She got a lot of guff for the attachment parenting stuff and some of her other parenting ideas but it’s obvious that everything comes from loving and wanting the best for her kids. Her videos on parenting post-divorce have been so honest that they’re a bit heartbreaking at times.

      1. Vic tower*

        Oh yes, Kristen bell and dax- I agree, they seem to be approaching it with love, humour and common sense!
        Will have to watch Mayims stuff.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      In addition to some already mentioned, I’m appreciating the parents of Greta Thunberg. They have supported the journey of their teen daughter as a global leader in the climate change movement. When I see teens who have become inspiring leaders like Greta and Malala, I admire their parents.

      1. allathian*

        Absolutely. Especially given that both Greta and her sister Beata have ADHD and are on the autism spectrum, they’ve done a great job. Just goes to show that you can be both neuroatypical and successful with the right support and a bit of luck. Their mother Malena Ernman basically gave up her career as an international mezzosoprano, because she won’t fly anymore.

    5. PX*

      I’ve always enjoyed Katherine Ryan (comedian) and she’s always talked a lot about what its like being a single mother in her specials (mainly the hypocrisy about being a single mother vs. any man who contributes to parenting in any form).

      But the last episode of her podcast (Telling Everybody Everything) talks a little bit more about her parenting style and it just made me appreciate her even more!

  16. LGC*

    I swear this is not really a work request, but…Zoom backgrounds and green screens? My laptop isn’t quite powerful enough to handle not having a green screen, and I kind of had way more fun with putting my background as the Drag Race Work Room (among other things) than I should.

    What do you guys do for green screens? I’m trying to not spend money, and especially not on Amazon. I THINK just construction paper or poster paper could work. And also, what are the best backgrounds you’ve seen?

    1. Rebecca*

      This made me smile, as I never thought about if I was forced to use video what would be in the background. I opt for keeping the 1970’s TV room vibe, and hoping the cat doesn’t decide to take a bath while I’m on camera :)

      1. LGC*

        It’s surprisingly easy to do! It works as long as you have a solid color as a background, but if it’s not a green screen then you get weird transparency issues (my walls are a light cream color and it caused issues with my gray hoodie).

    2. Blarg*

      Solid color sheet hanging on the wall might work as long as there is contrast to you (ie not close to your own skin tone or clothing). Have fun.

      1. LGC*

        You know, that might work. I just need to find a suitable sheet. (I can’t believe I didn’t think about this sooner.)

    3. KoiFeeder*

      I used a red blanket taped to the wall. It’s a hacky solution, but it worked.

      1. LGC*

        Tried exactly that, didn’t work for me!

        …to be fair, part of this was probably because I was wearing a hoodie that had red lettering on it, which didn’t help. Although I think it oddly did pick up my own skin color as well, since I’m kind of dark-skinned.

    4. Imtheone*

      We had a folding screen to control drafts. It makes a nice, fairly neutral background. The screen has been very useful and is now 18 years old, still in good shape. If you buy a new one, it probably won’t go amiss in future, calmer times.

      The other thing if I don’t use the screen is make sure nothing weird is showing on camera.

    5. Pennyworth*

      Could you use a lamp with green cellophane over it to make the wall behind you green? As long as it didn’t make you green too!

  17. Chocolate Teapot*

    I was pleased to discover a favourite local restaurant has re-opened for takeaway! Even when they were open as a restaurant, a takeaway service was offered, so I wonder if there was a delay due to a need for deep cleaning?

    So I ordered from them last night, and it was delicious.

    1. MistOrMister*

      I was looking forward to getting chinese food from my favorite place tomorrow (they have the best eggrolls I have ever had!!), but now I think I will be going there today instead.

      I think some places just didn’t feel comfortable being open. Maybe they were trying to figure out how to best keep the staff safe. Some places near me have taken to putting up large signs saying they’re open for carryout/drive through. Although, I question the places that are drive through only. How do they serve the people who don’t have cars???

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        They don’t. In my province it’s illegal to go through the DT without being in a car. People without cars don’t patronize them.

        1. Wired Wolf*

          We had a local-news story where a woman went through a Dunkin DT on horseback; I think that was a relatively small town and while there were a few cars out the drivers clearly knew how to coexist with horses. The employees were highly amused.

          1. KR*

            I used to work at Dunks & we had people come through on motorcycles, ski trimmers, snowmobiles, and all sorts of vehicles. Never a horse though!

    2. WellRed*

      I’d guess the delay was due to uncertainty about being open and trying to ensure they could do it safely.

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        We live in a super red northern state and locals are convinced this is a hoax. There have been “lip service closures”, but a lot of under the table transactions going on. Yesterday was the start of a supposed gradual reopening – only curbside takeout allowed. Lots of people out and about…parking lots full. One very small restaurant had at least 20 empty cars in their lot at noon. People would have to be literally sitting on each other’s laps if there are only 10 in that place. I asked my SO if the health dept. should be notified. He said HD inspectors are probably in there for lunch! He says we just need to take care of ourselves and not worry about the idiots. I’m so sick of people not caring about anyone but themselves around here. What is wrong with people?

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

      I wish my local Italian restaurant reopens soon. I love them, they have excellent food for all palates (pizza, pasta, meat and fish) at a reasonable price. We managed to eat there a couple days before the lockdown started. :(

    4. nonegiven*

      Not just the cleaning, some restaurants are rearranging/spreading out tables and adding plexi between the booths

  18. Catherine*

    Tips for training yourself not to cry?

    I’ve read Alison’s past posts on crying at work and while those are helpful for what to do if I cry (though I don’t really cry at work now that I’ve gotten out of toxic helljob), I want to head the process off entirely.

    I recognize that this is, after a few decades, just how my body responds to certain stresses (mainly, feeling powerless). But the thing is, this is very much a response I learned as a child, because tears were the only thing that scared my (alcoholic, rageaholic) stepfather and were thus the only weapon I had that could temporarily derail the verbal/emotional abuse train.

    I wasn’t using it consciously as a control tactic as a child, and I don’t use it that way now–it really is an involuntary response for me! But this involuntary response was acquired from learning that Crying Makes the Bad Thing Stop. Even if I’m not consciously using it in a manipulative way, it is a manipulative maladaption and I need to get rid of it somehow in order to be able to have healthy relationships with other people.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Watch your self-talk. If we tell ourselves “cannot cry, don’t cry!” the tears can come harder and faster.
      Instead try telling yourself that “things will be okay, it will all work out”. Yes, console yourself.

      Another tool I have used is to reflect on a similar situation in the past. How did that situation work out? What could I do differently in this situation? What parts did I do well with in the previous situation that could be used again here?

      While you are teaching yourself not to cry at the wrong time, also teach yourself to cry at appropriate times. I am big fan of turning on some sad music at home, if I feel that I have a build up of tears in me that I should deal with. I think it’s important to teach ourselves what we can do at the same time we are trying to break old patterns.

      Consider this, Younger You could only have some power, some control of the negative happening to you by crying. However, Adult You has more resources, more life experience, and more worldly knowledge.

      I have stupid example. I routinely cried when my car broke down, we’re talking this was my go-to response. My husband said, “Well. I am not sure how tears will get the car fixed.” He was a very practical person.
      I thought about this. I concluded that I would collect up facts before deciding that I had a Big Problem and Needed to Cry Immediately. Some times tears can be deflected by taking some sort of action, that action can be collecting more facts regarding the situation. I would ask myself, “Do I really need to cry here? Or can I go straight to problem solving mode?” In other instances I started realizing that tears actually prolonged the problem, if I skipped the tears I could cut right to getting rid of the concern.

      You may notice that you use different approaches in different situations to get to the same result. This actually makes sense, because generally speaking we do certain habits for more than one reason. So it takes more than one tool to change what we are doing.

    2. LGC*

      …there’s a lot going on here.

      Without getting into your awful stepfather or all the cultural baggage of women’s tears (your username is Catherine, so I’m making an educated guess)…you kind of answered your own question here, my dude. I’m blockquoting you with added emphasis:

      I wasn’t using it consciously as a control tactic as a child, and I don’t use it that way now–it really is an involuntary response for me!

      So, full disclosure: I don’t think you really need to stop crying, but I can definitely respect that you want to stop crying. I suspect that part of the reason you cry so often is that when you end up in an upsetting situation, you’re focused on not crying because Crying Is Bad. But it ends up kind of being like when you’re told not to think about pink elephants – you end up thinking about pink elephants more. You might find that if you’re more okay with crying, a side effect is that you cry less.

      One thing I’ve done is acknowledge that…uh, I might cry and it’s just a thing I do. (Or in a turn of phrase I’m really fond of and I’ve seen on AAM and CA and other places, that I have a leaky face.) Externally, it helps put your tears in context; people think that if you’re crying, you’re seriously upset, and you’re getting ahead of that. Internally, you’re also reassuring yourself that…yeah, this is a thing that might happen instead of some awful monster that you need to hold back.

    3. Lyra*

      I have a technique picked up from a (fictional) book ages ago: distract yourself in the moment. This is obviously possible only in some situations, so don’t get too down on yourself if you can’t do it because you need to be immediately responding to something else. The distraction needs to be simple, but somewhat mentally engaging and nonemotional. Some examples:
      Add numbers (the book I read had the character doubling each time: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc).
      Try to list all the states alphabetically.
      Find 5 objects in the room that are red.
      Name animals beginning with the last letter of the previous one: aardvark, kangaroo, octopus, starfish

    4. Not A Manager*

      Something that has helped me in similar situations is to see the behavior as communicative – to me and to the other person. Perhaps when you start to cry, or when you feel like crying, you could try to name what is happening. You already did that here. “I feel that I’m starting to cry. This situation is difficult for me, and it makes me feel powerless. Right now crying feels like my only defense. I would like to [ignore the crying and keep going][take break by myself and revisit this later][be comforted by you and know that I’m safe with you].”

      I find that this technique works both when I’m exhibiting the maladaptive behavior interpersonally, and also when I’m just doing it by myself. And the key is (in my opinion) you DON’T actually “have” to stop crying. It sounds to me like you want to stop using crying as a defense mechanism. But you’re allowed to gently separate yourself from the technique of crying-as-self-protection, and still keep crying if you want to cry.

    5. WS*

      While I haven’t been able to stop myself completely, I have had a great response from saying, “Sorry, I’m going to cry, it’s involuntary, please ignore me and it will stop in a minute.” Sometimes people will let me go and have a little break, but even if they just wait a minute the problem solves itself, because my body realises that it’s not *that* situation, it’s just an everyday situation. I can take a few deep breaths, clean up my face, and carry on. But taking the break is the most important step.

    6. Katefish*

      I’m a leaky person myself :) and read somewhere online that pressing your tongue on the roof of your mouth helps stop tears. It worked for me in a few truly heartbreaking moments in court. Good luck!

  19. MistOrMister*

    Any suggestions for things to help with falling back to sleep? I usually doze off fine. But I noticed after exiting my 20s that I have many more nights when I wake up and am awake for hours and hours while desperately wanting to go back to sleep. It’s not stress related. Tv helps sometimes but not a lot. If I’m not crying from exhaustion sometines I get up and exercise a little and that might help. Warm milk is blech and I have never liked it.

    1. Catherine*

      Headspace has a “falling back to sleep” meditation that I use after nightmares sometimes.

    2. Quoth the Raven*

      I usually fall asleep to either the Sleep with Me podcast (you can find it on Spotify and YouTube) or ASMR videos, so if sound or voices don’t keep you up, you could check them out.

    3. Sh’Dynasty*

      Counselor gave me the advice that if you are awake for a long time, get up and move to a chair/couch to do a relaxing activity until you are tired again (ie reading, adult coloring, journaling, listening to relaxing music, making and drinking a cup of decaf tea). It’s more relaxing to your mind than fighting your body to GET BACK TO SLEEP.

      I found the tossing and turning was keeping me awake because I was frustrated that I could not just get back to bed.

      Also you may be having this come up due to quarantining/stress of being out of your routine. Grant yourself a bit of patience- a reminder for everyone!

    4. 00ff00Claire*

      I think the experts say that after a certain number of minutes, if you aren’t falling back asleep, get up and do something for a bit and then try again. It may need to be something quiet that you do though. I’ve had this problem too, and for me a few different things that have worked at various times. I’ve listened to books or podcasts that I know are soothing and comforting. At one point, Audible had a guided meditation series that you could stream that I listened to. There are similar meditations out there you could buy. Sometimes what I do lately is look up cake decorating videos, usually on Facebook. These are the ones where they just show a cake being decorated, or they’re a compilation of several cakes being decorated. The ones I watch are not narrated and not “how to” videos. They usually have music but I watch them without sound. They are kind of mesmerizing and to me, relaxing. Especially ones that feature round cakes, because then the cake is usually rotating.

      Anther strategy I have used will take longer to develop but may work. It’s not always successful, but it has worked for me at times in the past. What you do is, you create a falling asleep routine that you consistently follow at night when you go to sleep at bedtime. It has to be a routine that you can replicate when you wake up in the middle of the night. Maybe routine isn’t the best word to describe it, because it doesn’t need to be multiple steps (although it could be). It just needs to be something that tells your brain “it’s time to fall asleep”. Playing certain music, a certain podcast, even counting sheep, anything that you can incorporate into your current bedtime routine but also is easy enough to do at 3am. Follow this routine only at bedtime, when you know you are going to fall asleep anyway. Don’t try it when you wake up until you have done it consistently for a while at bedtime, I would think at least two weeks. Then, you can try following the same routine when you wake up at night. The idea is your brain associates the routine with sleep, so you are essentially conditioning yourself to fall asleep under a certain circumstance.

      1. TinyRaptor*

        I also have a “sleep routine” and it works pretty well for me. I use a specific body scan mp3 and/or a very vague and quiet loop of chords through headphones to indicate sleep time; for me the best has been the free Body Scan for Sleep from UCLA MARC followed by many repetitions of the “Peaceful Sleeper Brain Massage Sleep Loop” from a Loop It “Sleep Loops” album on Google Play Music. Sometimes I just do the loop if I don’t feel like listening to a person speaking.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I’ve had this since I hit the third trimester of pregnancy. I’m not actually very stressed despite world events nor am I that uncomfortable yet (34 weeks) so I guess it’s just hormones plus getting kicked in the bladder maybe? I dunno but it is annoying… following this thread.

      1. Ranon*

        For me pregnancy insomnia was its own beast (and profoundly unfair that it kicks in just as people feel the need to tell you to “sleep while you can” and doesn’t come with a side of being to burn people down with flames from your eyeballs).

        Migratory sleep patterns were my best bet- if there’s any place besides a bed you can sleep I would move from place to place every time I woke up and seemed to fall asleep faster than if I didn’t switch locations.

        And if it’s any comfort, I didn’t necessarily get more sleep right after I had the baby but the quality improved dramatically, sleep is a lot more restful when you’re not trying to support a whole other human and a spare organ with your body.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, getting kicked in the bladder was tough, but when I was pregnant, the last part of the third trimester was tough, because my son got in position really early (at about 33 weeks), and then I had to go pee every hour, on the hour, because his head was putting pressure on my bladder. Or that’s what it felt like. Certainly more than five times a night.

    6. Numbers*

      I’m so sympathetic. I fall asleep fine, but wake up at 2 or 3. What usually works is a word game version of counting sheep. I go through the alphabet in my head and for each letter, I have to think of some sequence of words, such as A Place I’ve been to; the name of someone I know; and a food. Example: Alaska, my cousin Adam, Apples. Boston, my roommate Beth, biscuits. It’s JUST challenging enough that I can’t spiral into thinking about work etc, but not so tough that I stress about it. I give myself permission to skip Q and X. :)

      1. 00ff00Claire*

        I’ve sometimes do a similar thing where I start with a random high number, say 2538, and then count down towards zero. Unless I’m incredibly wound up, I usually start drifting off after about 15-20 numbers. I agree, it’s got to be something you have to concentrate on, but not too challenging or engaging that it keeps you awake.

    7. Trixie*

      NPR’s Lifekit podcast has a great episode on sleeping through the night. Short listen and very helpful.

    8. Parenthetically*

      The only thing that helped me when I went through a season of this was installing an anti-blue-light filter on my phone and wearing blue-blocker glasses to watch TV the moment the sun started to set. I went from waking up at least once in the night, wide awake and not able to get back to sleep, to sleeping through the night consistently.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*


        I have a *very* anti-blue light regimen that I stick to. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night to pee (hellooooo, middle age!) but getting back to sleep isn’t a problem. Sometimes I’ll catch myself “scrunching” my face in an effort to… power-up?… my back-to-sleepedness, but as soon as I realize what I’m doing, I laugh and relax.

        Also, I try not to look at the clock when I roll over. But if I catch the time in my peripheral vision, I’ve trained myself to think, “Woo-hoo! I still get X-number more hours/minutes in bed!” And then I remind myself how long those hours/minutes would seem if I was sitting at my desk. [Just came back after lunch and still have four hours to go? That’s an ETERNITY! I have sooooo much time to myself! Yay, me!]

        I, uh, also use the office comparison when it’s 6:00 in the morning, my bladder is FULL, and the alarm is set for 7:45. Would I *really* try to hold it for an hour and 45 minutes if I was in the office? Of course not! So I get up, pee, and go back to bed. Yes, it will take me a few extra minutes for my heart and breathing rate to come back down to sleep levels, but even if I only get an extra hour of sleep (vs 1.75 hours), it’s a much higher quality of sleep.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Oh gosh I love those tricks!! I could have used those in a previous existence when I did sometimes struggle with insomnia and also would try to talk myself out of getting up to go to the bathroom (now I have a 2-year-old and an almost 5-month-old so if I’m horizontal and my eyes are closed, I’m asleep, purely out of self-defense)!

    9. Koala dreams*

      Get up and drink a cup of chamomille tea with honey. Listen to some calm music. Do some crosswords or sudoku. Open a window or put some ice on your arms if you are warm. Often it helps to get up and do something to break the cycle, after a little while you can go back to bed.

      If not able to sleep at all, accept that sleep is not coming and try to rest instead, for example sit in a comfy chair with eyes closed with a blanket and some music or radio.

      1. Heyanonyanony*

        I second the crosswords and sudoku. They engage the mind but not the emotions, and I never force myself to stay awake when I might have drifted off just to see how the sudoku comes out!
        I find a cooler room, with cosy bedding, helps me to stay asleep, as does exercise during the day to tire my body out (but not to the point of strain or sore muscles). Also consider if you are laying in a position that becomes uncomfortable. Carpal tunnel syndrome used to wake me up. Bad pillows or mattress can be a problem.
        A few years ago, I would wake around the same time, and I discovered that if I couldn’t get back to sleep, if i checked the porch, the morning paper was usually there and I could read it for a bit before falling back to sleep. Eventually I put 2 and 2 together, paid attention, and realised that the quietly idling car of the newspaper deilivery person outside my window was waking me up. I would remind myself that I would hear that at the usual time, and that I didn’t need to wake up for it, before I went to sleep, and started sleeping through it more often.
        Good luck! A full night’s sleep is a wonderful thing!

      2. DyneinWalking*

        Ooh, good point about maybe being too warm. I fall asleep more easily when it’s very warm, but in order to sleep through I actually need it a little bit cooler… VERY impractical. My solution is socks and a woolen blanket on top of a regular one (even in summer – I remove the duvet and use just the covers as a light blanket).
        If I wake up because TOO! WARM!, both are readily removed without me having to become fully awake.

        I’ve also found that sometimes, my body just craves water, even if I don’t feel that thirsty. It might feel like I’m awake for “no reason”, but then it turns out that I can sleep just fine after a few sips of water.

    10. J.B.*

      In my case that was unrecognized muscle tension (I could fall asleep asleep at first but not after my body had some sleep). Yoga and foam rolling, followed by heating up a sock filled with rice and putting it along my collarbone work for me.

    11. Searching for a New Name*

      There are a couple things I’ve found help me with this.

      The first is to set an “agenda” of what I’m going to think about when I’m trying to fall asleep. I pick something relaxing and soothing — usually a favorite daydream that I’ve been over a million times — and just focus on that and let myself sort of drift free from my body and my immediate awareness of my surroundings or the passing time.

      The second was learning that in terms of productive rest, lying still and relaxing and zoning out is almost as good as actually being asleep. Not as good, quite, but if you can genuinely relax and be calm and limp and still, you’re still getting a lot of the rest value. This took a lot of the stress out of these nighttime wakefulness episodes for me, and made it easier to actually fall asleep. Trying to fall asleep is kind of futile, because the more emphasis you put on falling asleep, the harder it is to actually relax. Take that pressure off yourself as much as you can, find something relaxing to focus on, and you’re much more likely to actually fall asleep.

    12. coffee cup*

      I listen to white noise. It just chills me out and stops my brain overthinking while not being too distracting or changing in tone in a way that will jolt me back awake again.

    13. Dancing Otter*

      Timed deep breathing, like count to eight on the inhale, hold for four, count to eight on the exhale. The sleep app on my watch stops after a minute, which isn’t enough to fall asleep, but that’s the idea. Pick a count that slows your breathing without having to work at it.
      I learned this when I kept falling asleep before finishing my breathing exercises after a bout of pneumonia. If it put me to sleep when I wasn’t trying….

      1. Laaal*

        Breathing helps for me also, but I do a different count. I do in for the count of 3, out for the count of 4, in for 4, out for 5, in for 5, out for 6, in for 6, out for 7. Seven is the max you should count up to bc if you go longer, you struggle and aren’t relaxed anymore. It sounded really hokey to me when I first heard of this but it’s really, really effective. It helps me relax when I’m stressed and angry. Imagining your breath filling up your body from your toes to your head and picturing it moving back down and rushing out of your feet as you exhale helps too. Very silly sounding but soothing. Good luck!

    14. Auntie Social*

      I start imagining a house, and decorating it. Window seats, light fixtures, wallpaper for the powder room.

    15. Lovecraft Beauty*

      I found that I stopped waking in the middle of the night, which only started happening in my thirties, when I cut off liquids at 8pm. Depressing, but it worked.

    16. Pennyworth*

      I listen to Yoga Nidra and mindfulness recordings. Listening to the directions occupies and stills my mind, and gets me deeply relaxed – I’m usually asleep well before they end. Another thing that can work for me is to play something I actually want to listen to – and my contrary mind sends me to sleep before the end. Having something to listen to prevents my mind racing on other things. I try not to use screens, because the light can interfere with sleep, though I think you can install blue light filters on devices.

    17. Jackalope*

      I find that getting sufficient exercise really helps. Something enough to tire me out a bit (doesn’t have to be a ton). Stopping the use of screens at least an hour before bed and stopping liquids a few hours beforehand also help.

    18. Resting easier now*

      Lots of suggestions (from someone who formerly existed on 5 hrs sleep/night for 20 years):
      No alcohol 3 hrs before bed.
      No heavy evening meals, stop eating 3 hrs before bed.
      No screens (including e readers) 1 hr before bed.
      Blackout curtains.
      Melatonin helped me to both fall asleep more quickly and to get back to sleep when I did wake up. It sometimes took a few days to work, and after a week or so of good sleep I was able to discontinue it (until my next round of insomnia).
      Good luck finding something which works for you!

    19. allathian*

      Are you drinking enough water during the day?
      Since I started to do that, I no longer go to bed thirsty or drink a lot of water last thing at night. When I did that, I had to get up at least twice to pee in the night, but now I can sleep through the night again.

    20. Swift*

      I try to keep my eyes open, and that usually makes me sleepier. Something about staring at the ceiling in the dark makes my eyelids heavier.
      Other than that, I try to work out sufficiently so that I’m tired when I go to bed, that seems to do it for me.

    21. knead me seymour*

      I’ve found the Ologies podcast episode about sleep (Somnology) actually quite helpful. For me, it was really good to hear that sleep can and should be easy. Your body wants to sleep, so you just need to keep your mind from getting in your way–and for me, the more I worry about not being able to sleep, the more it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. There are various techniques for calming your mind, but just the realization that sleep is easy was weirdly a huge relief.

    22. Nola*

      When I was pregnant, I found warm milk and a book helpful. My other techniques were imagining what dress I’d wear to the Oscars, or mentally designing wedding dresses for friends.

  20. MistOrMister*

    What new/interesting things have people cooked lately?

    Yesterday I made brownies in an edges only pan and skillet oven nachos.

    1. Kate Daniels*

      Baked mac and cheese! It was much easier and faster than expected, but I really hate grating cheese. I spend the entire time being really worried I’m going to cut myself.

      1. IAmOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        You can slice the cheese into long thin strips instead of grating.

      2. PhyllisB*

        I have a large zester, and I use it to grate cheese. Makes smaller strings (great for parm to top pasta) and you don’t have to worry about grated fingers!!

      3. Fikly*

        I haven’t tried it myself, but recently on a cooking video I saw someone break down cheese for mac and cheese in a blender.

        1. Kate Daniels*

          Huh, I never thought of that. I have a NutriBullet that would probably pulverize the block of cheese into dust!

    2. NeverNicky*

      Baked gnocchi with roasted vegetables – yummy! The herbs for it came from my garden, I felt a real domestic goddess

    3. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Left-over meatloaf, chopped veggies and barley are going into the crockpot today for a beef and barley soup. Our weather is alternating between Spring and Fall so it’s a perfect soup for a cool rainy day.

    4. DarthVelma*

      I experimented with something pretty simple that turned out really yummy. I have about a half dozen cornbread recipes and I ended up mashing some of them together. I was going to make jalapeno cornbread muffins, but totally forgot to get jalapenos at the grocery store. But I still had the Mexican cheeses to go in it. So I pulled out a different recipe – one that uses honey for the sweetener and just cornmeal, no flour. It’s pretty tasty and feels a bit healthier. Added about 1-1/4 cups of the cheese to the mix and put it in a 8×8 pan instead of doing muffins.

      It’s such a wet batter, and I didn’t think it was ever going to finish cooking. I was afraid the top was getting burnt, but it turned out to be the cheese melting a bit on the top. It was SO good. Oh my GAWD. Definitely going to try it again soon, but adding some bacon into the batter as well next time. Somehow it just seemed to say “put bacon in me”. :-)

    5. Parenthetically*

      I refreshed an old bread recipe I hadn’t made in ages, and it came out absolutely perfect — incredibly flavorful and with a great crust, but still tender enough to make a simple sandwich on. And last night I made Bon Appetit’s camouflage brownies. So fun.

    6. Myrin*

      Marinated lamb shoulder under a bread crust on a bed of green beans. Sounds incredibly fancy – and was also called as much in the book I got the recipe from – but was actually pretty easy to make (caveat: I’m a very experienced cook and also just seem to have a natural inclination towards it, so it might not have been objectively easy, although I’d say it was at least objectively easier than it sounds).

      Over the past year or so, I’ve made it a habit to make one or two more excessive dishes a month, like, ones you’d usually only make for special occasions. But I said fuck it, why wait around for any kind of event when I can just make it if I please? And I’ve been very happy with that decision so far!

    7. Nicki Name*

      I impulse-bought a package of gnocchi last week. I found a recipe for gnocchi with bacon and peas that I’m going to try tonight.

    8. Just Another Manic Millie*

      I made Blueberry Oatmeal Bread, Cheddar Biscuits with Old Bay Seasoning (they taste just like the cheese biscuits at Red Lobster), Nutella Cookies, and Italian Sausage Meatballs. I had never made meatballs before. I intend to make a Nutella mug cake. I never made a mug cake before.

      1. cleo*

        I made my first mug cake last month and it was amazing! Easy to make and so satisfying.

    9. Kuododi*

      I’ve been tinkering around with learning how to make arepas. (Venezuelan). I was in Caracas for Christmas season 89-90 and I would eat arepas like a sawmiller. Good times and amazing food.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Ooh! Report back if you nail it. I didn’t get the masa I was hoping for in my last grocery order, alas, but I’ll get my hands on it eventually.

    10. Might be Spam*

      Two Wrongs Made A Right
      It was MEANT to be a lentil stew from a recipe that my daughter sent me. I had everything chopped up and ready to go. It turns out that the bag of brown lentils was really a bag of split peas which apparently taste different. So I end up with a really THICK and bland pea soup. I wasn’t too fond of the results but didn’t want to waste a huge pot of Soup/Cement mix. So I mixed some with a can of extremely spicy soup that I bought by mistake which created a creamy soup that was still spicy, but much better.

    11. Not A Manager*

      So many, many things. I’ve made homemade pierogi and homemade gnocchi for the first time. Turned milk into ricotta. Turned milk into yogurt. Made sauerkraut on my porch. Pickled cucumbers in brine. Turned cream into sour cream. Made muesli and granola.

    12. Quiznakit*

      I’ve got a loaf of five-minute bread in the oven, and the other day I made a completely-from-scratch caesar salad that turned out pretty well.

      My CSA box turned up loaded with broccoli, so I’ve got to figure out how I want to cope with all of that, plus a bunch of apples. I’m thinking there is probably pie in my future. Oooh, maybe hand pies since lord knows there’s only one of me and even I can’t consume an entire apple pie before it goes off. I also need to figure out what to do with the yellow squash and the two wee butternut squashes, since I am not by nature inclined to love squash. (It’s too sweet to start with, and every savory recipe wants to amp the sweetness which is the exact opposite of what I want.)

      1. filosofickle*

        About the only way I eat butternut is pureed into soup, where I can tamp that sweetness down. For the life of me I don’t understand why people want to make winter squash and yams even sweeter. Blech.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          If you like spaghetti squash, roast it with olive oil and salt. After you pull it into strands toss it with the pesto, add some parmesan. It’s delicious, light yet filling.

          1. Bluebell*

            I have an enormous spaghetti squash leftover from Passover. Am thinking of going totally off the reservation and roasting it, then finishing it with a Chermoula sauce for a totally different flavor profile.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables. I’ve decided that broccoli and cheese sauce can be a main course if mac and cheese can, and that will use up pretty much any quantity of broccoli. (I steam the broccoli before pouring the sauce over it and mixing it as if it were noodles.)

        1. All Hail Queen Sally*

          Tomorrow I will be trying a recipe for broccoli cheese soup. I really love broccoli too.

      3. epi*

        I actually like squash but I have very little sweet tooth and I agree with you that savory dishes that amp up the sweetness even more are unappealing.

        I would make a sheet pan dinner out of the squash; you can really tone down the sweetness that way. Cut into cubes, toss with olive oil and seasonings, and bake at around 400° tossing occasionally until it’s the doneness you want. Add in some potatoes or something else that tastes good roasted so you’ll get a less sweet mixture on your plate. You can include a green vegetable on the pan or make it separate if it’s more delicate than your other veg. It’s great with chicken or sausage if you eat meat because the fat and seasonings from the meat will get on the vegetables too, making it even less sweet.

    13. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I made lasagna with home made noodles from scratch.

      Last week i made a fresh cream fruit cake but it didn’t go over so well :-/

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      I made these carrot burgers, which rely on stuff you might have on hand or reliably get at a picked-over grocery store. My husband and teenage son both really liked them. One plus is that it is in no way pretending to be beef.


      I was fortunate to buy Ottolenghi’s SIMPLE shortly before my local bookshop closed down, so I’ve been cooking some things out of that. Meatballs with celery root is perfect cold rainy night food.

      1. Hi there*

        I’ve made those a couple of times with some black-eyed peas we had in the pantry. Yum!

    15. filosofickle*

      Winners from the last few weeks include green onion & sour cream biscuits, a sausage ragu, coconut rice w/ turmeric and greens, caramel popcorn, chimichurri chicken, banana bread, green & white pizza (first time I’ve made pizza dough in….a decade?) and plain ol’ chocolate chip cookies. I do love cooking, that part of my life hasn’t changed much :D

      1. Blueberry*

        Heh, my roommate has also become a sourfdough devotee, to my delight. She named it Goldfish.

    16. Lost in the Woods*

      We got limes at costco (wholesale) the last time we went, which of course means 10+ in a bag. Several went to fajitas, but the rest went to a riff on Stella Parks’ sunny lemon bars – about 2/3 lime and 1/3 lemon. They turned out really well!

    17. Ali G*

      I’ve been having fun learning how to use the air fryer. I made chicken parm in like 20 minutes! It was awesome!

    18. Sparkly Librarian*

      Made a pesto with walnuts and a ton of spring mix before it could go bad. Not enough garlic — this was before I scored a big jar of the minced stuff — but it’s serviceable.

      Today will supposedly include meatloaf, homemade sourdough naan, and hummus from dried chickpeas; I won’t have much to do with the making of it, but I am looking forward to it!

      Tomorrow I’m planning on a big pot of chicken and rice soup, lots of carrots and garlic and parsley, to eat for lunches next week with the homemade bread like I did this past week with chicken-barley soup. It’s been a bit of a learning curve to find the proper balance of when and how much to bake; soup works with fresh bread or stale!

      1. DarthVelma*

        That is so wild! We did the same thing for dinner last night. And they were amazing. :-)

    19. mlk*

      I made a Hasselback potato! Thinly slice a russet potato crosswise about 3/4 (or more) down, but don’t cut all the way through. Bake the potato. Place small pieces of thinly sliced cheese between each slice and heat. OMG. The recipe I used did some other stuff like sprinkle with parmesan at the end, used butter as well, but I didn’t bother.


    20. NoLongerYoung*

      I have been on a cooking binge, nudged by a friend who has been encouraging me. Just this week, I’ve made and assembled (4) 8×8 homemade lasagnas (from sauce on up); (4) 2.5 qt cheddar-broccoli- ham casseroles; (3) broccoli-cheddar-sun-dried tomato-ham-bacon quiches. And with coaching from her, made two small batches of a mango kesari. (the first batch was not great, the second one great). She dropped off the ingredients for the latter so I could try it ( I did not want to venture out to a grocery store for just those ingredients). The deep freeze has quite a bit of meat, too (in those vacuum seal bags). I’m hoping to start getting produce from the farmer’s market (PLEASE let them be available this year…or I’ll sign up for a box)
      And this afternoon I will be gifting some of the casseroles to various folks (porch, pickup) for those I know are having difficulties.
      But I’m stopping the “big cook” now until I catch up with the deep freeze. So now I can move on to my next project. LOL.

    21. IAmOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Last week, not this week but I made Lobster Pappadelle then Shrimp Florentine (using a chicken recipe but subbing for shrimp for the chicken.) Both were delicious and not too difficult to make.

    22. Senor Montoya*

      I made spaghetti alla carbonara, which I have not made in decades, literally. Bacon, eggs, olive oil, butter, cheese — no such thing as too much fat.

    23. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’ve been making omelettes with goat cheese. This started because I was going to fry a couple of eggs to go with the hashbrowns I was making, and I managed to break the yolks on both eggs getting them out of the shell, so I decided to make a small omelette instead. I then realized with far too little time to do anything about it that I was out of shredded cheddar cheese to fill the omelette with. (I grate an entire block of cheddar at a time, so there’s usually some on hand.) Since I had an open container of goat cheese, that was what I could put in the most quickly.

      It turns out that goat cheese is delicious in omelettes, so I’ve been doing that on purpose now.

    24. Overeducated*

      I made a lentil soup with no recipe that i was quite proud of last week. It was just mirepoix and brown lentils but I got the seasoning right (wine!) and it was lovely and not bland.

      Also finally found flour at a bakery, and made dark rye bread. I had to abandon the recipe but it turned out ok. Making no-knead English muffins, rising overnight in the fridge now, and pan pizza tomorrow.

    25. PhyllisB*

      My husband thinks he’s Martha Stewart. He made some banana bread a few days ago. The funny thing, he kept asking me things like, “Is it time to add bananas? Do I put vanilla in it?” I would say, “What does your recipe say?” He was winging it. He had looked up a recipe online but didn’t print it off. Finally after about the fifth question, I went and looked up a recipe in one of my cookbooks and told him what order to add stuff. Got to admit it turned out pretty well. He was disappointed that it was a bit dry, but I reminded him banana bread needs to age some to taste its best. Sure enough, I ate some just now, and it’s perfect.

      1. PhyllisB*

        The other Martha Stewart in the family is my son. He is currently in sober living, and of course is in quarantine, so he’s been doing a lot of cooking/baking. He texted me the other day and told me in the last two weeks he’s made two loaves of banana bread, one loaf of apple bread, and…a pound cake!! He said one of his roommates is on a low carb diet and he told Son he was killing him with all these baked goods!! (Not literally, it’s not a health hazard, he’s just having a hard time being tempted.)
        Guess I’m going to have to turn in my apron!!

    26. PhyllisB*

      I’ve mentioned this before, but does anyone on here like to try recipes they find in books? I do on occasion, and recently found a recipe that intrigued me. It’s chocolate chip cookies…with cloves added. And coconut. I’ll report in after I try it and share recipe if it’s good. If anyone is interested in looking it up, the book is Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown. It was a good book.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes! Somewhere either on my shelves or at my folks’ house is my Little House cookbook — it’s a marvel of food history as well as a really fun set of projects from simple (cornbread) to almost-definitely unattainable (head cheese, blackbird pie).

    27. nm*

      I learned to make pan-seared tuna this week! The kind where it still looks raw in the middle. It’s my parents favorite date-night dinner for the two of them but I had never tried it or tried cooking it before. It was surprisingly easy and pretty tasty!

    28. Anono-me*

      If people are still having trouble getting flour and/yeast; Homestead Mills out of Cook MN is taking names and will be shipping out orders the end of next week (assuming their next bulk delivery is complete.). It is a small independent operation to begin with and shorthand right now, so please be patient.

    29. LizB*

      I made my own English muffins, and they were not as tricky as I had always thought and turned out extremely yummy. Gonna make them again this week.

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

    Thanks to everyone for the suggestions last week on how to run with a face covering. While a regular mask was too difficult to breathe in and a thin T-shirt was too difficult to keep tied tightly around my nose, the suggestion that ended up working was the buff. It stays on my face and is light enough to be unobtrusive (though hopefully I won’t still have to wear it when it gets hot — not too hopeful on that, but we’ll see).

    I’m glad to have one less thing to be anxious about; heaven knows I have enough anxieties already from everything else.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      One of my coworkers had a thing like the buff but for cold weather.

      Keep us posted about hot weather – today’s gonna be upper 70s and humid. I’ll be weedeating or mowing and giving my fabric cup style mask another chance. Last weekend it got too hot to wear while working.

      1. Rebecca*

        I’m curious and asking kindly, do you wear a mask for allergies or because of the virus? I live in a rural area, the only time I wear a mask is if I have to go into the grocery store. Like, if I’m outside doing yard work, going for a walk or hike, I don’t wear a mask due to the virus situation. Like last night, my neighbor and I went to look for birds, we drove separately, and were outside on a bike trail, no other people, and we stayed 6′ apart and didn’t wear masks. I had a bandana with me in case we stumbled upon another person, but we didn’t see anything except birds the entire time.

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

          Hi Rebecca, for your purposes, I have no doubt what you’re doing is just fine.

          The thing is that New York State has required wearing a face covering – it’s technically only required when you come into contact with other people, such as a grocery store, but the advertising for the executive order has been “wear it anytime you’re out in public.” I’m cognizant of people’s extremely high anxiety right now, so the main reason why I want my face covered is so that other people don’t see me and freak out.

          My local running organization actually has come out and urged people to run with face coverings for this reason. You and I both know that it really isn’t necessary to cover your face if you’re not going to come into contact with other people — but in my neck of the woods, many people don’t.

        2. Alex*

          In some places it is the law. They are fining people who are outside without a mask in my area. Not in your own yard, but if you step off your property.

        3. Retail not Retail*

          It’s not required in my state or city. We’re supposed to wear one once we reopen but it truly is just security theater.

          I’m only bothering because my allergies are worse this year.

          It wasn’t too hot today using the weedeater and mower and leaf blower but I still had to drink some water.

    2. LGC*

      Those things ARE miraculous, though! The tricky thing is…I’ve often doubled them over because that’s much better filtration, but they’re a lot more uncomfortable doubled over. I can still breathe through them, but my face gets HOT. But on the other hand…like, honestly, I think people just want to see our faces covered, and not HOW they’re covered.

      (Before I got actual masks, I did use them folded over to go to the store, and they were pretty comfortable. It was mid-April, though.)

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

        I’m not going to try to double them. I’m not so concerned about the virus (well, of course I’m worried) as I am about not freaking other people on the road out… so for my purposes, just having a covering at all is sufficient, I think.

        1. LGC*

          I’m just way too conscientious (okay, I’m way too conscientious about appearing conscientious)! Usually what I’ve done is folded mine in half before putting it on so it actually is a more solid barrier when I’m running past people – it feels a bit flimsy in a single layer for me. I should probably take my own advice for once and just wear it single-layer (probably if/when I explore the local plague trail).

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

            If people are actually getting close enough to you to even be able to tell that your face covering is too thin, there’s… something very wrong with that scenario.

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

          I agree with the article, but I’ve given up trying to fight it.

        2. Alex*

          Totally agree with this article, but on the other hand, I don’t want to get fined.

    3. Call me St. Vincent*

      I got some cloth face coverings from Nine Line Apparel and I actually think they are the most breathable. I haven’t tried running with one, but I did take a couple mile walk and was surprised at how easy it was to breathe in it. I am not sure how protective it is because it is so breathable, but if I had to run in a mask/face covering, I would do it in that one.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I took a walk today without a mask. The only people I saw were kids in the front yard right up against their house, and people messing around in their garages. I think the shop towel mask would work pretty well, as light as it is. I kind of wish I’d worn it today; I sneezed a lot when I got back inside. Stupid pollen!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Here, its mandatory to wear a mask on public transport or when shopping. I have noticed the social distancing seems to have been relaxed slightly.

        Yesterday, I was in the supermarket, then took the lift to the ground floor. (It’s in a shopping complex with part of it underground) I was pressing the floor button when a man barged in. Thankfully he was wearing a mask, but these are small lifts so distancing isn’t going to happen.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yikes! I wear one when I go to the grocery store. I also wore one when I went to buy the sewing machine. I plan to keep wearing them when I go shopping anywhere for the foreseeable future because covidiots.

          The county we’re currently in is reopening on Monday, but BiggerCity and its county are staying locked down, which means no interviews in City (not that I would get one anyway).

  22. Retail not Retail*

    What are some positive things you’ve noticed during shutdown/quarantine/social distancing?

    Childish – the free HBO (finished the wire!), the changes in pokemon go, having my library books much longer than expected.

    Financial – I know it’s not good, I’m surprised more people aren’t discussing the effects, but dang low gas prices. (I still go to work.)

    Doctors – PT over video, very weird, won’t do that again. Other specialist – oh so good. Their office is miles away and I always have to wait and then drive on busy roads in rush hour.

    My car lease ends next week and I knew I wanted to buy it (no commentary on that decision please). I called the company and was like hey I don’t want to go to a dealership, what can I do? I’m in a state that allows direct purchasing, I got the loan online, I faxed in the odometer form so simple!

    1. Retail not Retail*

      About libraries – I have a nonresident city card and I got it last spring. Don’t remember one, so I filled out their question form online. It was set to expire in July, now moved to October!

      I have to pay for it. But I definitely get my money’s worth!

    2. glitter crayon*

      They’re taking VAT off ebooks. This is good news over here in the UK!

    3. LGC*

      Obvious and un-obvious: less traffic…which means I can run roads I’d normally feel a bit more cautious on, or run in places I’d normally be more cautious in.

      Our neighborhoods look a bit nicer. Not so much the “$HOSPITAL Heroes” and “Thank You Essential Workers” signs that are ubiquitous (there’s a community hospital in town that pulls from around our side of the county), but the sidewalk art that’s ubiquitous. I’m kicking myself because I meant to steal sidewalk chalk from my office Thursday and forgot to!

      Agreed with the PoGo changes! Niantic’s adapted pretty well.

    4. Numbers*

      So many of our restaurants are now offering takeout and we can even have takeout cocktails.

      1. WellRed*

        They only just this week allowed to go cocktails in our state. A place near me is doing it, but while I’m dying for a margarita, we can only order cocktails with food (per the state) and their menu is expensive and not to my taste.

    5. Overeducated*

      Connection. People I haven’t seen in months or years are suddenly up for regular or irregular Zoom chats and online game nights, when before it was “man I miss you, maybe we’ll see you next year when we have more money/vacation time/etc.”! Not the same as meeting in person obviously, but we could have done this all along.

      Also, grocery shopping every 2 weeks has simplified my life. I doubt we’ll be able to keep it up without outside incentive, the temptation to buy stuff we forgot or thought of in between will be too great, but for now it’s nice.

      1. lazy intellectual*

        I’m liking that I get to interact with long-distance friends and relatives more frequently now than pre-pandemic. I know part of it is because I’m no longer competing with in-person obligations, but I hope this continues!

    6. Big Moody Curve*

      Our air is noticeably cleaner! (SF Bay Area.) I’m hoping this experience helps to push us toward clean-energy vehicles. And I say that as the owner of an oldish, polluting truck. Give me proven alternatives, with the same reliability, range, and support structure we have for gas-powered vehicles, and I’m in.

      Also, it’s so, so quiet. No constant roar from the freeway (a mile+ away, but the sound carries). Greatly reduced local traffic. Lots of kids and families walking or biking. Lots of happy dogs getting extra walks.

      If I had a magic wand, I’d get the economy running again while somehow keeping the streets unclogged. TARDISes for everyone?

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Yes, I also came here to comment about the cleaner air in the SF Bay Area.

        I enjoyed a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, a beautiful stroll minus the traffic and tourists (you can sees that I put on my blog with the same name as my handle).

        My city parks and rec department shared a map of local stairways and paths within town that I didn’t know about. I’ve enjoyed discovering those and the colorful flowers blooming in people’s gardens.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      For me some of the positives are:

      >Work from home! I honestly almost quit my job because when they moved into a new open office w/hotdesking they rescinded/heavily curtailed the WFH policy to “force” people into the new office. I love WFH and don’t want to go back in!

      >No commute! On average I spent 2+ hours a day just DRIVING to/from work. That also saves on gas, not to mention time showering, doing makeup and dressing for the office.

      >Spending less! With brick and mortar stores closed, I’m spending less money as I can’t go shopping for much beyond necessities.

      >Cooking more. The extra time allotted from not commuting means I can cook more healthier meals at home instead of eating out or getting takeout. Though I do miss going to a restaurant sometimes.

      >Buying less clothing! If WFH becomes extended, I realized that I could quite possibly not have to buy any more dressy clothing for several years. That’s how much clothing I have dedicated to “the office.” With WFH it’s simply not needed. I feel less fast fashion is better for the planet overall, though I do love clothes.

      I guess really a lot of my positives revolve around being WFH now. I’ve always wanted to try a full-time WFH job, but they were exceptionally hard to find.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        We’ve had benefits at work – cut hours without cutting pay is the big one. Another advantage of being closed is being able to drive wherever we want, wear headphones or play music, and if no Boss is there, wear different clothes.

        I also stayed over an hour walking after lunch today bc hey the park attractions are still here and this’ll probably be the last day without guests, enjoy the freedom.

    8. Torrance*

      With everyone forced to stay inside, a lot of things went virtual (socialising, DnD sessions, etc). As someone with debilitating social anxiety (w/ agoraphobia), it feels like the world has finally been made open for me. Virtual communication is not nearly as scary as doing it in our meatsacks.

      As a non-driver, having all my therapy appointments over Zoom has saved me so much walking.

      And, as someone who has wanted the mask cultures of Japan & South Korea to catch on in America, I’m glad it’s finally happening, though obviously saddened it took a pandemic to do it.

    9. Anonnington*

      Being judged more by the quality of my work and less by what I look like.

    10. hermit crab*

      Not going anywhere means that I have not felt motion-sick in over a month! :)

    11. musician*

      My house is more organized than ever before! So much time to take care of stuff that’s been on the to do list for literally years.

      My boyfriend and I (who both live alone and are both self-isolating, but sometimes self-isolate together) have been having so many cooking dates since there’s not a ton to do. He’s not a very experienced cook but has been eager to learn and is improving so much! I think this is something we’ll continue doing since it really is more fun than going out to dinner. On a semi-related note, I’m also planning to grow a lot more produce this summer since I have all this extra time to spend gardening.

      As a couple of others have mentioned, the social aspect has been really positive for me too. I’ve reconnected with friends who I hadn’t done a good job of keeping up with before. And another out-of-work musician friend and I have been Facetiming every couple of days to work our way through an etude book. It’s nice to have the motivation to practice when there aren’t any actual rehearsals, concerts, or auditions to prepare for.

    12. Clisby*

      The Wire! If we hadn’t re-watched in the past year, we’d be watching it now.

      The thing about the old days: They the old days.

      This might be the best TV series ever. My family even had a serious dinner conversation about who we’d most like (or least like) to move next door: Stringer Bell, Omar Little, Avon Barksdale, or Brother Mouzone.

      I persuaded them that Brother Mouzone was the best choice to move next door. Not because he was the best person, but because he was the most in-control person. I could see him volunteering to take in your newspaper and feed your fish when you were on vacation, just to maintain the facade of being a normal person instead of a stone-cold killer. The others are much more likeable, but much more likely to draw trouble like a magnet times 1000.

    13. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’ve gotten to attend a lot more filk circles on Zoom than I ever would in person. I’ve gotten to hear several people I’ve never met in person since they don’t end up at the same cons as I do regularly.

      It’s also been nice since I adopted a new dog, and this is giving me lots of time to figure out his quirks before I have to leave him unsupervised for very long. (I am learning just how high he can reach and what kinds of things he’s likely to counter-surf while I’m home to rescue those things.)

      1. Might be Spam*

        Where can I find out more about filk circles on Zoom? I mostly watch filk on YouTube and I hope to find more.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          friendsoffilk[dot]org and filkstreams[dot]org both post event calendars. For events where you can find a website with organizer info, you might also want to email the organizer in advance so they’ll know to let you in if your name isn’t familiar to them. Filk is historically very welcoming to new people, but is trying to avoid zoombombers like everyone else. Just tell them you’re a curious listener who has been listening to a lot of filk on youtube and would like to come, and I strongly suspect they’ll let you in.

          You may also be able to find filk groups on Facebook. I don’t use Facebook and so I’m not really in the loop on those. A lot of different areas still have email-based mailing lists as well, but I hesitate to start pointing you at random ones without knowing where you live.

          Once we are back to having conventions someday, that’s also a good place to find filk, of course, but suggestions for that would also vary by region. interfilk[dot]org has a list of the filk-specific conventions that happen each year, but knowing which general SF cons have a good filk track can be a little trickier. Unfortunately, my way of finding that sort of thing out is to ask other filkers about specific cons, which is harder to point you at than a website. I know Balticon is going virtual this year (Memorial day weekend) and says they’ll be having online filk circles. Their website is balticon[dot]org.

    14. Might be Spam*

      I like wearing a mask and not wearing makeup. I found out that my allergies bother me much less now that I wear a mask outside. My watery eyes made people think that I was sad. They can’t tell I’m smiling behind the mask, but at least I can stop telling people that I’m not not crying and I’m fine.

      1. Retail not Retail*

        I went to the store after work in my standard work outfit – big rainbow sunglasses and now a brightly colored cup style fabric mask.

        No one got to see my expression – no obligation to smile at people or anything.

    15. Alexandra Lynch*

      Well, I have managed to lose 28 pounds since 1/1/20, and that includes 10 of those pounds lost during the quarantine. So that’s a personal sort of achievement. (The weight loss slowed way down, but it’s still happening.) I’ve got a lot of plans to start historybounding my personal wardrobe as I get down to my end weight, and that includes starting to wear headscarves on a regular basis even when I don’t have to cover my face any more.
      We three confirmed our relationship; once our county reopens, he and I are going ring shopping, and that way we can probably marry in the fall.
      He has a lot less stress when he works from home, and he now has a good position to argue from when he asks to work part-time from home every week.
      She is confirming that she loves coding and enjoys her college classes. The house we’re moving to is very near a state college, so she can finish the two-year degree remotely and then convert it to a four-year degree, and it’s close enough to the city center that once she gets a job downtown she can ride the bus to work, or commute with Boyfriend.

      We’ve had a lot of time to talk over what changes we want to make to the new house and what of those can wait a little bit (Fixing the giant-ass picture window previous owner put in master bedroom….hell0, people like to have the option to darken their bedroom!) and the things that cannot (vinyl flooring in the bedrooms?! That’ll be going away before we move in! Main stairway removed?! Putting that back before I buy a couch to fit in that room. The former servant’s stairway is not to code and I don’t want to try to carry a laundry basket up it with a cat who suddenly decides to make it upstairs before I do.)

      There will also be some wiring upgrades to be done so that the house can support two home offices and the power draw of two people doing a lot of computer work/running their own server. Also I get to totally redo the kitchen. Same footprint, can’t move doors and windows, but I CAN get all new appliances and cabinets and move the stove plug. The COVID-19 situation has allowed me much leisure to think and read on the topic, and I feel far more confident about my ability as a cook to plan a space that works for me.
      On the other end of the move, I’ve had time to clean things out more and make my cabinets and closets look nice. I personally would open closets and cabinets if I looked at a house (have to see what storage I’d get to work with, and does the sink leak?) and so I’m making things tidy for when that happens. However, all the artificial flower arrangements are shut up in boxes until the day of showing because there is a half-grown black kitten who believes that she must bite them. It’s giving us time for getting things like moving covers for the mattresses over several weeks instead of in one big expensive rush, and letting us pay down the credit card before we have to draw on it again for the actual moving expenses.

  23. Dye Virgin*

    I’m thinking of dyeing the tips of my hair using an instant spray dye, which lasts until the next time you wash your hair. Anyone ever tried this? What should I know before I buy the thing?

    1. TechWorker*

      Spray dye usually makes your hair kinda brittle (it’s basically like hairspray, at least the ones I’ve used) but is fun to try out!

      If you have very pale or bleached hair it can really take colour so you need to be a bit more wary (says someone who’s blue ‘6 washes’ dye lasted about 6 months) :)

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

      I tried a Loreal blue spray dye yesterday! Just in case, you need to apply it from a distance to avoid stainin your clothes.

      1. Dye Virgin*

        This is the one I’m thinking of buying! Does it come off easily? How many times do you have to spray to get a good colouring?

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

          Yes! It comes off easily, just normal soap or shampoo. I applied a couple of times to make it really visible, but I would do it with underwear only and in front of a mirror to be sure.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        Wouldn’t the spray spread further if you hold it at a distance?
        Thanks for the warning, TechWorker – I’m going green this weekend, over my natural dishwater blond and silver. The streak I did last month faded quickly (from bright to pastel) but is definitely still visible. My daughter, who has had fantasy color for a couple of years now, tells me that washing with hot water makes the semipermanent color wash out sooner. (I’d rather color more often than bathe in cold water, but thanks for the warning, dear.) She uses a color depositing shampoo/conditioner to maintain her color between touch ups.

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I used Colorista about a year ago and I hated the texture it left my hair. I also did not like that the color constantly transferred. Many of my pillowcases were tinted and because I have a tendency to run my hands through my hair, the tint would transfer on to my hands. I love the color it left my hair though.

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      When my friends and I used spray hair dye back in high school, it created a “paint with water” effect the next time my dad mopped the bathroom floor. The dye that had settled as a mist on the floor suddenly was visibly everywhere when it was mopped. This was rather alarming to him as it basically looked like his floor was bleeding…

  24. Anon for slightly gross cleaning poll*

    Not important AT ALL but I need your opinions..

    My partner & I bought a new toilet brush (#domesticbliss) and wanted one with a lid. He complained after using it that the lid was pointless as it was too close to the brush and therefore ended up getting wet when the brush was fully dunked.

    Now… in my ~12 years of cleaning toilets I have never fully dunked a toilet brush.. I use it to clean any nasties on the side of the toilet bowl but had generally found bleach and a couple of flushes sufficient to clean the bottom of the bowl.

    Who is weird here, me or him? Do I just not know how to clean toilets?!?

    (Disclaimer, I was an awful teen and my mother never made us clean bathrooms so I learnt at 18 with I guess guesswork and what looked clean!)

    1. Dye Virgin*

      If you find that bleach and flush are enough to clean the bottom, then no need to dunk the brush. I personally have to dunk the brush.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am chuckling. Just get a brush you both like? I dunk, because that’s me. I could count on one hand the number of times the husband cleaned the toilet. If your partner is willing to clean, then get something they like and something that you like as well.

      1. Anon for slightly gross cleaning poll*

        The lid is removable anyway (it’s just a piece of rubber with a hole in) so it’s not really a big deal, I just wondered if my cleaning habits were weird! :)

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          I dunk. But I also have a brush with a holder that has the lid. The lid pops up like a trash can with a lid that pops up by pressing a lever with your foot. So the head is covered when not in use.

    3. glitter crayon*

      I’ve only ever had ones that are attached to the lid so never considered it optional.

      I wouldn’t dunk it that far…

    4. I don’t post often*

      I’m finding this hilarious. My college roommate had never cleaned anything either. What a mess! Most people have to dunk the brush, but do whatever works.

    5. Alex*

      I definitely have to scrub my toilet bowl all the way in with a brush. I even it push it down the hole a little.

      The part of my toilet that gets the dirtiest is the part that is covered in water. Part of the reason in this house is because the water is very rusty and leaves a red film on everything after about a week, but it is still how I’ve always cleaned a toilet!

      1. An Actual Fennec Fox*

        Same here. Before I moved where I live now, I’d never needed to scrub too much inside, just dump some cleaning product or warm soapy water, let it sit and flush. Nowadays I have to scrub all the way in often, otherwise I’ll get that ‘clean but dirty looking’ toilet in about a week.

      2. Anon for slightly gross cleaning poll*

        That makes sense – we have a water softener installed so the bit that’s usually covered in water seems to stay clean without scrubbing. Or maybe just my partner scrubs it every once in a while so I don’t notice :D

      3. Gatomon*

        Yes, I have to attack the hole with the brush otherwise it gets super grimy in there, and it’s hard to clear off once the grime begins.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      You generally do have to dunk the brush to scrub within the bowl and under the rim. But not up the whole way to the brush lid. But usually the “lids” for the brushes are up quite high, like 8-12 inches. I’ve never seen one positioned down low to the brush part. IDK, maybe it is a weird toilet brush?

    7. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I use a Clorox toilet wand that has a disposable cleaning head. I don’t think I could go back to using a brush.

      and I hear you on that, I didn’t clean or anything until I was in my mid-20s when I moved out and lived with husband.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I scrub the bottom, but I guess our toilet is shallower because the lid doesn’t get wet.

    9. Jdc*

      I think toilet brushes are nasty anyway because they just sit there and built up the germs. I had to take my stepsons away because the little basin it sits in was literally brown with poop. Vomit.

    10. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Maybe it’s our water but I definitely have to scrub the bottom part that is always under water. But I don’t understand how this lid fits so that it’s getting wet all the time?

  25. Scrolling Netflix - What U Watchin?*

    What’s everyone watching on Netflix? I spent more time scrolling than watching yesterday and just didn’t find anything that blew my dress up.

    1. Skeeder Jones*

      I’ve been rewatching Gilmore Girls for the millionth time, but I’m fast=forwarding more than half of it because some of the storylines are just stupid and annoying. Last night I watched Unorthodox. It was only 4 episodes. I liked it and I’m hoping they do a second season. But truthfully, I’m having trouble engaging in anything right now. There’s nothing I really feel like doing and nothing really holds my interest for long. I just feel restless all the time. I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

      1. lazy intellectual*

        I JUST watched/binged Gilmore Girls for the first time and LOVED IT. Where have I been all this time?? I didn’t like the Netflix reboot, though.

        1. Skeeder Jones*

          Totally agree about the reboot. The storylines didn’t even feel right for the characters and sometimes felt forced to just make something up for cameos but they weren’t natural or they didn’t make sense at all. I did lovelovelove Emily’s story. She is the one who showed the most growth as a person.

    2. Kuododi*

      DH and I watched “Horns”on Netflix last night. (Daniel Radcliff in the lead.) He played a young man whose girlfriend was murdered. He woke up after a drunken bender with devil Horns growing on his head. It’s a supernatural murder mystery with revenge, and romance. For those with children, it’s definitely not appropriate, I would suggest watching after the kids go to bed. It was a pleasant little gem of a movie. Enjoy.

        1. NightOwl*

          Is the book by Joe Hill? It’s sitting on my bookshelf (loaned to me by my mom). I’ll have to read it and watch the movie.

    3. Black Horse Dancing*

      Dark is fascinating. Ozark is good. Money Heist (las Casa De Papel) is terrific.

    4. Misty*

      Just started ‘Never Have I Ever’ which is aiming for a teenager audience (I think??) but it’s directed by Mindy Kaling and I love her other show and her books. It’s been funny so far but I’m only on the 2nd episode.

    5. Senor Montoya*

      The Witch. One of the creepiest movies I have seen in a long time. Plus the cinematography is beautiful

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Getting caught up on Grace and Frankie’s newest season. I have Locke and Keye bookmarked next. Right now, I’m finishing up Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Hulu.

    7. matcha123*

      Crash Landing on You.
      Really cute and I think I cried multiples at each episode.

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

        I’m going to add it to my list, I’ve heard nothing but praises about it.

    8. misspiggy*

      There are newly released episodes of Unforgotten, so that’s my priority. Also One of Us, a fascinating documentary counterpart to Unorthodox.

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

      The King Eternal Monarch!!
      The cinematography is superb, the actors are really good, the costumes are wonderful. However, the plot is a bit fuzzy (for obvious reasons) and the relationship between the main characters sometimes seems a bit rushed. I love that the writers don’t ignore the actor playing the main role is super handsome (like “is this guy single?” levels of handsome), and use that for comic relief. Also, while everyone is swooning over him, I’m like “did you look at the sidekick?”

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

        Also, I’m trying to rewatch Beethoven Virus since I found a playlist with the original soundtrack (THE FEEEEELS :'( ), but I don’t think it’s available for my region, maybe it’s not even in Netflix.

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

      Also, I’m waiting for Dorohedoro to be released outside of Japan!! I think it was going to be uploaded at the end of May. 10/10 I would binge watch again.

    11. Bluebell*

      Locke and Key, and looking forward to watching the Madame CJ Walker miniseries. Trying to ration Nailed It.

    12. Lou*

      I just started watching this time saving cooking show, I think it was called Cooking with Nadiya? Something about Nadiya anyway, and it’s great and she’s so charming and fun.

      Also, not on Netflix, but there’s a new Amazon show called Upload that is hilarious so far (we’re just on episode 1).

    13. Gatomon*

      Just finished Tiger King (wowza). Now I’m working through Better Call Saul s4, Parks and Rec s2(?) and procrastinating on finishing Schitt’s Creek because I just don’t want it to end.

      1. NightOwl*

        Tiger King is next on my list of shows to watch. I started watching Better Caul Saul because my husband likes that show, which prompted us to binge watch Breaking Bad. I’ve only seen one episode of Schitt’s Creek but may watch more because I love some of the actors in the series.

  26. glitter crayon*

    So before the pandemic hit, I was referred from one team to another within a London hospital that treats me for various health problems, to have some tests for nerve / neurology problems. I thought non urgent NHS services were all on hold and the hospital is also now a covid centre so I wasn’t expecting to hear anything for months.

    I’ve been sent a phone apt for next week. I don’t know if I’m more worried about being offered the tests (I don’t live in London – it WAS a convenient location as it’s near my office – and while someone can drive me it’s in the low emission zone) or being told I have to wait.

    I did ask my GP whether to get re referred near home and they said not to, but to keep my place on the waiting list.

    I was all set to wait until I got this apt through and it’s really thrown me. I don’t know how to feel. I wish I had a realistic idea of whether this means it’s potentially serious.

    Does anyone know if the NHS is only running urgent services or if more are opening up now?

    1. NeverNicky*

      They are opening up a lot of services.

      I work for a health charity for a non-life threatening condition and although official guidance says it’s classed as non-urgent/not a priority, clinicians are now offering teleconsultations as redeployment has been rolled back a bit.

      I think in many places teams are trying to keep things ticking over at least.

    2. OtterB*

      In the US, so not directly applicable, but I know my primary care doctor’s office is encouraging people to keep following up on chronic conditions. You don’t want to neglect something that could be treated and will be worse if it isn’t.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My hospital system is getting ready to start allowing elective surgeries and such again too, albeit in a limited capacity and with a lot of restrictions. (I think they’re opening up at like, 25% capacity?)

      2. glitter crayon*

        Ah, I just mentioned chronic conditions to explain why I was already under this hospital – this is for something new / undiagnosed.

    3. glitter crayon*

      Thanks for the replies people.

      It’s Guys and St Thomas so I was really not expecting anything at all this side of Christmas.

      1. Jules the First*

        They are reopening fertility clinics in a couple of weeks (yay!) so I would expect other urgent-but-not-life-threatening stuff to be coming back online too. I got a letter the other day telling me to ring and book my smear, and the letter is dated post-lockdown, so presumably they are doing them…

      2. Pennyworth*

        I think hospitals everywhere are experiencing a big drop off of non-covid patients, and there is concern that people are avoiding important medical treatment out of fear. Can you ask how they are addressing Covid-19 concerns?

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      News earlier said they were closing the London Nightingale hospital already and based on the briefing yesterday I think the are looking at what they can start up for other things soon. Cancer screening and other things are probably high up on the list, perhaps the neurological tests were also deemed important and easy enough to convert space/doctors back to keeping those appointments. If its just a phone appointment it could also be just a check in to triage/see where your condition is at.

      Also, if it IS serious, wouldn’t you want that sorted out sooner rather than later?

      1. glitter crayon*

        Oh yes absolutely! I’m just a bit thrown by it happening when I was all set to be on pause!

      2. londonedit*

        Yes, I have a friend who works in a group of London hospitals and he said this weekend that they’re planning to ramp up to 75% capacity by the end of May (they can’t go to 100% just yet as some of their staff are on 12-week isolation at home, and there will probably be a need to keep to social distancing rules in outpatient clinics etc). Apparently they’re hardly seeing any serious coronavirus cases coming in now, just a handful a day, and they’re definitely looking at restarting non-urgent clinics in the next few weeks.

  27. Bananahammock*

    Does anyone have interesting family history to share?

    My great great grandpa once had a fight with his wife and decided to give her the silence treatment for three years. He sulked and just refused to speak with her. Of course this could also be exaggerated but we often joke it must be real because of all the drama queens we have in our family – it’s in our genes!

    Another direct ancestor several generations ago was given the death penalty for treason but managed to escape and lived a life in hiding and eventually started a family. This one we found documented evidence and is much more credible. It’s amazing to think my family would not exist if he didn’t make the unlikely escape.

    1. Sh’Dynasty*

      Small one for ya- my grandmother is one of 16 children. All had same parents and everything. We joke that we’re probably related to half of Ohio at this point.

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      My grandfather lied about his age to join the army. He was 16 yrs old, 6’2″ and well built from years of farming. He had an eye-opening time in Europe for a young farm boy. He came home and never went further than 100 miles from his home for the rest of his life.

      1. Four-legged Fosterer*

        I had family that lied about their age in order to get into the military during WWII. On their first attempt the two boys both went at the same time, and the guy looked at the forms and said “You were apparently born 3 months apart. You will have to try again later, and separately.”

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My grandfather’s father passed, his mother remarried (and I guess had a few more children with the stepfather), then after a few years SHE passed, and his oldest sister (who was in her late 20s and had already been over 18 when mom remarried) married the stepfather and they adopted all the kids who were under 18 so the kids would all be able to stay together. (And then had a few MORE kids.) And I guess sister and stepdad did get along quite well, they were happily married from all reports til the end of their days.

      There’s a mysterious disappearance somewhere back along that side of the family too. Dude got on the train to go to work one morning, nobody ever saw him get off the train at any stop, he never showed up at work, and he was never seen or heard from again. I don’t remember who it was though, if I talk to my mom this weekend I’ll see if she does :)

      1. Something Blue*

        Ooo! This makes me think of all the Dr Who episodes where a random human bumps into the beginning of an alien invasion and gets eaten. I always wonder what happened with their family and friends when they didn’t come home that night.
        But assumed the family was now dealing with the alien invasion.

        On a more serious note, I once took a museum tour that mentioned a previous resident of the building in the early 20th century who left for work one morning and disappeared. The guide said it happened a lot and the newspapers had lots of ads from families looking for lost people.

        I always wondered—did they abandon their families? Did they get killed in a traffic accident and were never identified? Where/how did people disappear at that time?

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Oh man! Yeah, Doctor Who does that quite a lot. Usually the opening of the episode before the Doctor arrives on the scene. Those people just disappear and no one seems to care.

          Or the beginning of Outlander:
          People disappear all the time. Ask any policeman. Better yet, ask a journalist.
          Many of the lost will be found, eventually, dead or alive. Disappearances, after all, have explanations.

        2. Asenath*

          I expect some of them just left town but a lot disappeared and were never found or if found, identified in the days when forensic techniques weren’t very good. Sometimes people who commit suicide try to make sure their bodies won’t be easily found.

          I remember years ago reading an article about missing persons cases – many of them were young women who were suspected to be murder victims of the kind of man who murders vulnerable women. Two were a couple who were victims of a drug-related murder – years later one of the criminals involved decided to come clean, and the bodies were found. There’s a LOT of rough terrain where people can go missing and never be found – sometimes it’s pure accident. Someone goes for a walk or out berry-picking and falls over a cliff or has a heart attack, and no one finds the body. There was one skull found by a berry picker which was strongly suspected of being that of a somewhat confused old man who went missing in the woods. It was suspected that in his state of mental confusion he’d tried to walk home, and died of natural causes, but whose skull it was couldn’t be proven then. I bet it could now – I never heard if anyone tried using modern techniques. That story stayed with me since my great grandfather went for a walk to the local post office shortly after having moved to town to stay with his daughter and her family. It was in a tiny town, surrounded by woods. As soon as he was missed, a large number of searchers scoured the entire area fruitlessly. In his case, a hunter found his remains the following spring. There wasn’t enough left to determine cause of death, and the assumption was that he had died of natural causes, and simply not been found in the thick bushes, although that area had been searched. There was of course speculation that he’d been shot by accident by a hunter and his body hidden. His wife had died tragically, too – she fell into the community well one winter night and drowned. When I was a child, I couldn’t understand that since all the wells I’d seen in pictures had walls, but my grandmother said back then the well they used didn’t have a wall and the soil around the top often got slippery. And of course it was mid-winter, it was probably icy too.

          There are still some modern unsolved missing persons – women thought to be murdered by men they were in a relationship with or who they’d met, of course, but also others, including men, who went off in the woods one day, never came back and were never found.

        3. allathian*

          150 years ago in an era with no photo-IDs or such, it was certainly a lot easier than today to just disappear one day and appear somewhere else a bit later with a new identity.

      2. Asenath*

        One of my relatives by marriage married three times, each time to a widower with children – she never had biological children of her own. I’d have to look up the records to figure out just how many children she raised! I remember er, and, less well (because he died earlier), her third husband who was an uncle of my grandfather, if I remember correctly. It was one of those situations in which an uncle could be nearly the same age as a nephew, and they grew up like brothers or cousins. She was a lovely woman, and by all accounts got on well all her life with all those stepchildren from different families. I don’t think any of my know ancestors disappeared, exactly, although some of them moved on to different countries. One – in my direct line – had some kind of illness or injury and died young, and never married the woman he called his wife. She and their son were accepted as part of his family, though. In the New England branch, one ancestor testified against and aunt by marriage who was convicted and hanged as a witch, and another managed to get out of town and lie low so she died of old age before she could be hanged. But I don’t think either of them were in my direct line.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My gran on my dad’s side buried three husbands (my dad’s biological father died of what we suspect was hepatitis when dad was 16 or so, she married her second husband pretty quick thereafter and he was a jerk who died of some sort of cancer when I was a wee munchkin, and her third husband was her “ten year honeymoon”), then decided she wasn’t going to marry them anymore because apparently marrying her was fatal (also economic reasons, but that wasn’t as funny of a joke), so she just shacked up with them instead, and buried two more live-in beaux before she passed. My folks are still in passing contact with a few of the various gents’ various children, but not to any great extent, and nobody’s terribly fond of the fellow she was shacked up with at the end because, while he was very helpful to HER in her end days, he also tried to rob her estate blind on his way out in direct contradiction of her instructions.

      3. Imtheone*

        My father had an uncle who went on a trip by train and disappeared. The family never knew what happened. Did he run off and leave everyone? Was he murdered? It was a trauma for his wife and children. In those days, if he had been attacked and tossed off the train, tracing him would have been difficult.

    4. Grace*

      A few generations back (mid-to-late 1800s?There’s this one branch of the family (great-great-grandmother’s parents I think – my great-grandmother’s cousins were the Chapman boys with plaques in the church for their deaths in WWI) that used to be pretty damn wealthy. You go down to their local parish church (which is only about 8 miles from my hometown) and there’s plaques all over the place saying that the font, the pews, the new electrical lighting, etc, were bought with money donated by the Chapman family. When you wander around the graveyard, all the graves closest to the church – reserved for important locals – are Chapman graves, right back to the late 1600s. They were huge benefactors of the local economy.

      So, there was one Chapman patriarch who was a rampant adulterer. Everyone knew this. It wasn’t a secret in the slightest. It was apparently dictated (by canon law? or potentially by the local bishop?) that someone who was so blatant in their sinning – and in their lack of remorse – shouldn’t be allowed to pass through the churchyard gates for burial. But that wasn’t going to fly with the family. The parish priest knew that the church would end up a lot poorer if they refused to bury him in consecrated ground.

      The rules said that he couldn’t go through the gates of the churchyard – so they passed his coffin over the wall and buried him in the family plot alongside all his relatives. Expert rules-lawyering on all sides, I think.

    5. Blarg*

      My Native American great grandma sued her white in-laws for alienation of affection when they kept her husband away from her after she had their baby (my grandfather). She won $6000 in the 1920s and then apparently never spoke of it because I only learned of it when I found newspaper articles a couple years ago. I didn’t meet her but I’m in awe and proud to descend from such a brave woman (less proud to descend from the a-holes who didn’t want their name sullied by her … and by extension, me).

    6. another Hero*

      after my grandma got divorced, her dad married her ex’s mom, so they were fairly contentious divorcees and also siblings

    7. Seal*

      My grandfather married a woman in the 1920s and had at least 1 child before getting the marriage annulled. By 1930, he had moved halfway across the country, married my staunchly Catholic grandmother in what was apparently a shotgun wedding and had my aunt, with another child on the way. They went on to have 4 children, including my father, by the mid-30s. My cousins and I never knew about the first wife and child until we were all in our 20s. One of my cousins found the annulment papers hidden in her mother’s china cabinet and told the rest of us. To my knowledge, neither my father nor his sisters ever met their half-sibling, who would be in their 90s by now if they were still alive.

    8. Myrin*

      It’s lots of little tragedies stacked on top of each other to form one tragedy, really, but an interesting family history nonetheless:

      My grandfather was/is (he’s still alive) an illegitimate child. We are German, his mum was a French cook in a mansion in Germany. Even setting aside that this was in the thirties and as such, the respective other person would become The Enemy over time, the situation was extremely awkward, horribly sad, and quite infuriating all around.

      My grandpa’s parents were never a couple. My great-grandpa – who worked as the mansion’s chauffeur – was a known lothario, and my great-grandma was one of his affairs (she was also seven years older than him, which is a pattern which would later repeat itself with both my mum and my uncle). After my grandpa’s birth, she gave him to his birth father, ostensibly because she was so afraid of what her father in France would say if he found out she had a child out of wedlock (there was evidence found much later that a lot of this might have been an irrational fear of hers and that he actually might have welcomed the child, especially since he didn’t have any other grandchilden).

      My great-grandpa, who was married, told his wife that Lyra, you know, my coworker and my older sister’s good friend, had a child whose father ran away, he and some others were helping her look for him (which was an actual thing that happened; there was a literal search for this made-up man), and since she – the wife – couldn’t have children, wouldn’t it be so kind of them to take in the child? Which they did. So my grandpa started out his life living with his stepfather and stepmother, not knowing both who his birth mother was and that his stepfather was actually his biological father.

      It all came crashing down shortly before the war, when The Wife found out that my grandpa was his father’s natural son; she found out about his affairs in the same breath, and promptly divorced him. Through various happenstances which are somewhat unclear by now, my grandpa ended up in an orphanage and with the patres at the local monastery for a few years.

      My great-grandpa re-married the woman whom my mum called grandma, who insisted on the child staying with them, so back my grandpa went. Now keep in mind, this was in Germany and by now, there had already been a war for quite some time. My great-grandpa had to serve as a truck driver in France while his second wife took my grandpa with her to her sister east of Berlin. And this is actually one of the few details of this story I know directly from my grandpa, who is not much of a talker. I don’t know how well-known this part of WWII history is outside of the countries it pertains to, but towards the end of the war when the Russian army neared Germany, there were huge treks of refugees towards the west consisting of Eastern Germans, living in what is Poland and Czech today. And my grandpa was in one of them, even though it was really only by chance (because he was from literally the opposite side of the country). They travelled by foot for about six weeks until they finally arrived home once again.

      And despite the whole war situation, the tragedy in my grandpa’s life has always been his effed-up family history. He only really found out about his birth mother when he was 24 and marrying my grandma when his incensed aunt – the sister my great-grandpa talked about above – showed up at his doorstep and almost slapped him because he didn’t even deign to thank his poor mother for her generous wedding present. Well, turns out his mum had actually paid him an allowance for all his life, he just never knew any of it because it went through his father who promptly kept it to himself.

      And the real kicker is that there were so many ways this could have gone even marginally better for him but he somehow ended up in the worst timeline: his French family probably would’ve taken him in if his mum had taken him there; his paternal grandparents would’ve been happy to have him live with them had they known he was their grandchild and not just a random foster kid their son looked after; heck, the mansion’s mistress – who was not only his parents’ employer but also his aunt’s best friend – much, much later said to my grandma that had she only known that her beloved Lyra had a child, she would’ve made sure to care for the two of them.

      So, yeah. I like my grandpa and in turn, I’m his favourite grandchild, even if he’d never say so out loud. I’d say that that’s mostly because I got most of my personality from him – I’m definitely the one of his descendants who is the most like him. But my family sometimes jokes that I’m the socially adept and kind version of him because despite my generally good relationship with him, he’s also incredibly messed up. He screwed up with my mum and uncle, albeit in different ways, and he was not in any way an easy partner for my grandma. He is blunt to the point of cruelty, often belittles his children, has an awful temper, can not in any way admit when he’s wrong, and likes to scoff at others. My grandma was afraid of him a lot of the time.

      Most of this can certainly be traced back to his awful, terrible childhood and his scumbag dad. But it’s also really clear that he never put in the work to actually try and become a better adult somehow (even though he has always taken a great stand against adultery and promiscuity; I actually have a feeling my asexuality comes from him, but that’s just an aside). And yet, despite how mean he was to her for basically all of their marriage, he has been visiting my grandma’s grave every day since she died three years ago (corona times notwithstanding) and has cried almost as often. I’d never seen him cry before my grandma’s death. I sometimes think it would’ve been better if the tears had happened before that.

    9. Ali G*

      My dad’s parents divorced when he was young and they switched partners with another couple that also divorced (they were likely already cheating with each other). Growing up we always had to have multiple celebrations for Holidays, Bdays etc. because we couldn’t have the 2 couples over at the same time.

    10. Might be Spam*

      My great uncle Wally was a member of the Young Communist Party. He also worked part time as a bouncer for Frank Nitti. He also claimed that he suggested the new name (Russian Republic) after the fall of the USSR. He did seem to have influence in Eastern European expat communities.

      My paternal grandmother had a horse thief in the family, but she always took great pains to point out that he was was only related by marriage, NOT by blood.

      1. Auntie Social*

        Horse thief story—we had one of those along with buggywhip makers. A VERY snooty lady was recently talking about HER family, la di dah, and said “And YOUR family?” to me. My husband’s friend jumped in and rubbed two fingers together to indicate money and said “Auntie’s family has aaalways been in transportation” very knowingly, and I swear that woman was nicer to me for the rest of the evening!

    11. Chaordic One*

      My grandmother had several beaus, but was wary of marrying a drunk (understandable given our family history). When none of the local boys seemed appropriate, she grew bored living with her family and in her middle 20s she ran off to the big city and started nurse’s training. She was nearly 30 when she finished and then she was apparently doomed to spinsterhood. She said she was seriously considering becoming a nun. However, in the big city she met my grandfather at a dance and was smitten.

      Grandfather had a job as a traveling salesman, but had previously worked as a barber in small town several hundred miles away, after arriving from “the old country.” Grandmother was worried about the possibility that he might be a drinker or have other serious character flaws. She had a classmate from nurse’s training who had moved to the same small town where Grandfather had worked, so she wrote to her and asked if she could visit for several days. The friend agreed and Grandmother got on the train to the small town.

      After arriving at the small town she conducted an investigation into my grandfather’s character. She visited with the local priest (who remembered my grandfather), as well as his former employer and several co-workers from the barbershop, and apparently she met other people who remembered my grandfather from when he lived in the town. The investigation took a couple of days. Grandfather passed the background check! They were married for 43 years before Grandfather died. Grandmother was terribly disappointed that he died before they could celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary. She was really looking forward to it and to having a big party.

      After Grandfather died, we learned that he had lied about his age and made himself 2 years younger than his real age. He was really 9 years older than my grandmother, but made himself only 7 years older. We think Grandfather did this because he was afraid that Grandmother might think he was too old for her. When they finally married, Grandmother was 30 and he was really 39. Grandfather kept up the charade for the rest of his life, even delaying his retirement by 2 years. We only found out because his sister, who still lived in “the old country,” told us his real age. It appears that he changed a number “six” on his birth certificate to an “eight.” Also, several times people remembered Grandfather making comments about Grandmother being a “child bride.”

      One other thing that is funny about my grandfather was his conceit that he did NOT speak English with an accent and that people thought he was born in the U.S. He had a noticeable accent. Even Grandmother, who was born and raised in the U.S., had an accent.

      1. allathian*

        Wow, what a cool story. And what a resourceful woman your grandmother was.

    12. Other Duties as Assigned*

      Here’s one of mine:
      The family story was that one of my great-great-grandfathers from Norway (b. 1847) weighed 18 lbs. at birth. This legend was told over and over among that side of the family and some credence came from the fact that he was an only child (the implication being that if you have an 18 lb. baby, you’re probably not interested in having another). I always wondered if there were any way to prove this, so I went to the amazing Vesterheim Norwegian Genealogy Center in Madison, Wisconsin and read the microfilmed records of the church in that parish. I hoped that the baptism record might have had marginal notation like ‘this is a huge baby!’ I found the record, but it was the same as all the others.

      Since I didn’t have his parents’ marriage record, I went back nine months from the birth and started going back in time on that parish record to look for it. I went back nine months, ten months, a year, two years, etc.—nothing. Then I started going forward from the nine month’s back date: eight months, seven months, etc. and found the marriage: five months before the birth of the child. Here was a plausible answer. This child was not born out of wedlock, but as we say ‘not-quite-far-enough-into wedlock,’ so when they had a full-term (and full size) child only five months after being married, the cover story likely became: ‘what a huge premature baby this is!’ (still don’t know where the 18 lbs. came from). The only child question was answered as well. The father was 63 at the time of marriage and importantly, the wife was 47; it was the first marriage for both.

      I’ve unearthed lots of stories that add real texture to the lives of my ancestors and it’s what makes this a fun pursuit. Getting into research like this would be a great way to occupy/distract yourself during this difficult time as a lot can be done online now (and if you have kids, it would be a neat project to try to personalize history for them). However, use care in believing things people have posted about their families that lack documentation. Best piece of advice: talk (by phone now) to the oldest relatives you have to ask questions.

      I also like using services like newspapers.com to get interesting detail beyond birth/marriage/death. In small towns particularly, local newspapers sometimes have local news/gossip down to the neighborhood level. When I first met my wife, we did her family history and we found that a great grandfather of hers had hidden some money from his wife in the stove. Unfortunately, the wife decided to use the stove and burned up his money. The story made the front page of the local paper.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      My family is so boring. Nothing of interest at all except for coming to America in the 1740’s. But one of those ancestors was named Valentine. Seems like kind of a romantic name for a German farmer.

    14. Dancing Otter*

      My grandfather got to America by jumping ship from the Royal Navy. He said there was a general amnesty on deserters after WWI, but I never fact-checked that.

    15. Princess Zelda*

      My mother’s grandfather immigrated to the US from Austria right before WW1. Family lore has it that when he joined the US Army, he was still a subject of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and he got served a draft notice while serving in Europe. Supposedly, when he got served, he brought it to his CO’s attention and got promoted for his honesty.

    16. Big Moody Curve*

      One branch of my family was an isolated clan in the Appalachians, with murky racial origins. Probably white + African + Native American. In the 1800s some of them were arrested and charged with voting illegally. The charge was that as non-whites, they didn’t have the right to vote. After several trials, they were declared to be white (enough) and acquitted. The handwritten census records for that era show their race as M for Mulatto. That was struck through and replaced with W.

      Same branch: Several of the men were blacksmiths by trade. During the Civil War they took to counterfeiting coins. At times their counterfeits were in high demand, because the actual metal value was higher than that of the Confederate money they were copying.

    17. Snickelfritz*

      Not my family’s history, but my home town’s; many years ago, a traveler arrived by train, checked in at the hotel (but gave no identifying information, including his name), and went for a walk to stretch his legs and admire the scenery. He was never seen again, and nobody ever came looking for him.

    18. Falling Diphthong*

      My husband is descended from Pocahontas.

      Our daughter shared this family trivia when in high school and discovered one of her friends was as well. So the two families compared trees, and the first parts matched. The girls were something like 11th cousins twice removed.

    19. Anon for this post*

      About a month or two before my mother gave birth to my brother, a woman called her up and said she was looking for my father. That woman had given birth to my dad’s daughter, my half-sister. My dad’s family had hated my mother so they encouraged him to re-marry. Polygamy was legal and common in those times/culture/country.

      Soon after, my father moved to a new country with his wife. My mother stayed behind, which was common, and went back to her parents’ home. Her family encouraged her to get a divorce; she even had a few proposals, but she refused, claiming she loved my dad too much.

      Eventually my father’s wife left him and he applied for immigration for my mother. My mother moved to our country and 9 months later I was born. I’d say we had a pretty good life growing up, my dad took good care of all of us and we were cherished and spoiled. I didn’t know I had a half sister until I was about 14 and found out from a relative.

    20. old curmudgeon*

      My dad’s father, who died before I was born, was a real old rapscallion. He always had an eye out for a pretty young woman, and got himself into sticky situations on more than one occasion.

      Gramp Smith was born in New Jersey in the latter part of the 19th century, and learned printing as his trade. He was working at a large print shop that was almost factory-like in its set-up, with a wide expanse of floor, lots of print presses, and with large doors at the front that were kept open for ventilation in the summer.

      One day, he was working in the shop on a print press that was right up near the door. He glanced up and saw an older man with a determined look and a shotgun cradled in his arm marching up to the open door of the shop. The older gentleman walked up to Gramp Smith and said “I hear there’s a fellow named Smith who works here.”

      Gramp Smith didn’t so much as blink as he replied “yes, sir, there’s someone by that name here, why do you ask?”

      The older guy said “that sonuvab**** got my daughter in the family way. She’s waiting down at the church and I’m here to escort him there to marry her.”

      Gramp Smith said “well, he’s way back there in the far corner of the shop, working behind that big press there.”

      The older fellow said “thankee, much obliged,” and marched off into the dark recesses of the print shop, shotgun at the ready.

      Gramp Smith calmly shut down his print press and casually strolled out the front door and down the street. As soon as he was out of sight of the door, he took off running. He ran all the way to the train station, where he raced up to the ticket window, bought a ticket for the train that was about to leave, neither knowing or caring where the train was headed, just that it was headed someplace else.

      And that is how my grandfather wound up settling in Detroit, because that’s where the train went.

    21. Skeeder Jones*

      My grandfather was always a tinkerer and enjoyed building things, from telescopes with lenses he made himself, to airplanes. He worked in the aerospace industry beginning during WWII. During his early years in aerospace, he invented the first digitally controlled milling machine that milled to 1/10,000th of an inch precision. He created technology that resulted in more than 27 patents for his employer. During WWII, he found himself working on the B25 Bombers being built in Los Angeles and in Kansas. He was the chief electrical engineer for these planes. They were instrumental in “Doolittle’s Raid” where pilots flew into Japan airspace and bombed Tokyo in retaliation for Pearl Harbor. His fingerprints are figuratively all over these airplanes.

      One of his friends was involved in a project and was having some trouble getting it to work. While sharing a meal with my grandfather, he asked him for help, knowing that Bert had an amazing mind and was a great problem solver. He explained his project and the difficulty. Bert grabbed a pen and some paper (family lore has this as a napkin) and made a sketch for his friend. The sketch solved the problem. The project? The docking station for the lunar module of Apollo 11 that would land on the moon!

    22. Michaele*

      Andrew Bryson was a Captain in the Irish Rebellion in 1798. The British had a list of 49 men who were officers in the Irish Army, and the officers were put on trial and condemned to death. The only trouble was that the British had not captured them yet.

      One day, Rebel Andy and a friend were hiding from the British soldiers in a barn. The soldiers knew that the men were in the barn, so instead of fighting their way into the barn, they set the barn on fire. Andy and his friend were able to dig under the wall of the barn on the far side, away from the soldiers, but they couldn’t stand up and run or they would be seen and shot. So they had to lie in the weeds beside the burning barn, so close that their clothes were singed by the fire.

      Another time Rebel Andy really was captured. A squad of soldiers was marching him towards the gallows to hang him, while he was trying to bribe the British Captain to let him go. They finally settled on a price, and Andy’s father went to quickly gather the bribe money, while the soldiers stopped at a tavern to drink some ale. His father came back with the money and Rebel Andy was allowed to escape into the night, only three miles from the gallows!

      But he still had a price on his head. He arranged to get his wife and two children on board a sailing ship; he was hiding in the coal room. Soldiers came marching up the gangplank to search for him. The ship’s captain was in a sweat. If a condemned man was found on his ship, he could lose his ship, or maybe his life! The soldiers looked in every room. One soldier opened the door of the coal room and saw him. But it was a friend, who called out, “Not here!” and shut the door.

      Now the ship captain was really scared. He went into the coal room and had Rebel Andy climb into a water barrel, scrunch down small, and the captain nailed on the lid! Andy had a small knife in his pocket and he managed to get it into his hand and made a small hole through the wood to let in air. If he had not been able to do that he would have smothered and died.

      When the ship had sailed out from shore three miles, so they were out of British waters, the ship’s captain let Rebel Andy out of the barrel. His wife, Elizabeth, gave birth to a son, Andrew Bryson, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on February 2, 1799. They arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 1, 1799 and settled in Uniontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, where Rebel Andy raised a large and law abiding family.
      Then there were the Polish ancestors who frequently had 14 children, but infoant mortality was so high that many families only could raise a few children to adulthood. One familly had every one of their 14 children die before age 3. I’m a genealogist and I have a LOT of family stories.

    23. Figgie*

      My maternal grandfather was married before he married my grandmother. His first wife died in childbirth. At the funeral, the minister told my grandfather and the entire congregation that he had murdered his wife because he had had “fornicated” with her. My grandfather got up from the church pew, walked out and watched his wife and child being buried in the cemetery from outside the fence. He never set foot in a church again.

      My paternal great-grandmother died in the influenza epidemic of 1918, along with her newborn child. My grandmother was only 14 years old, but since she was the oldest and her father was the town drunk, she ended up responsible for the other 8 children. She married my grandfather when she turned 15 (he was 35), as that was the only way she could figure out how she could raise that many siblings. My grandfather had been gassed in WWI and was on disability. That small check supported him, his wife, his wives 8 siblings and eventually, the five children the two of them had together. All in a dirt floored shack with an attic where all of the kids slept.

      My father (middle child) ended up having to leave home when he was 14 years old to travel to a larger town that was about 3 hours by bus to work in a meat-packing plant (called slaughterhouses back then). He spent 6 months there, sending money back home before his next sibling was able to replace him and he could go to school. He graduated from high school at 16 and promptly enlisted (his parents signed for him) in the Navy. He served as part of the Army of Occupation in Japan and used the money from the GI Bill to go to college and become a teacher.

    24. ThatGirl*

      My family is fairly boring, but my husband’s great grandfather (who died before he was born) was an honest to god Capone associate who spent time in prison and was disowned by most of his extended family. We didn’t find out until husband’s grandma died and some relatives told my FIL. Even then I found further details later in an archived newspaper article that were disturbing. My FIL never knew, grandma never talked about it. People in Chicagoland like to brag about Capone connections but he’s not actually any kind of hero, and having a convicted murderer in the family line is not super great.

      1. Cruciatus*

        My grandma worked at Woolworth’s in Chicago and one of her coworkers was dating some notorious Capone person (don’t know who) and I guess one of his pals took a shining to my grandma. She did not go out with him!

        And in asking my mom about that story again (I thought grandma said something funny to get out of dating the above guy but apparently I made that up in my head–glad I asked!), she told me another story about grandma where some guy (also in Chicago) asked her come to his apartment so he could take photos. Though grandma was from a small, small Ohio town, she knew the dude was shady and told the Pinkerton Detective Agency and they gave her the right bus schedule and fare and met her at the apartment where they then arrested the guy!

    25. Clisby*

      My maternal grandfather (born in 1870) was the eldest of 5 or 6 children. He left school after the 3rd grade because his father had died; he had to stay at home with the younger children so his mother could go out to work. When he was 10, he went to work full time for the railroad. Heaven knows what a 10-year-old did full time, but his mother needed the money he could make, and I guess the next younger child was old enough to quit school and become the babysitter.

      1. allathian*

        Railroad crews need food. I bet he was put to peeling potatoes and washing dishes, fetching and carrying, etc.

    26. MissBliss*

      The family story that has passed down in my family is that my fourth-great-grandfather was a crazy sea captain. I’ve recently learned that’s only half the truth.

      Born in Bermuda, he emigrated to the United States in about 1840 with his wife and nine children. In about 1850 (or maybe earlier, but I haven’t found any evidence of that) he became convinced that he had a legal claim to the Jennens estate (which is purportedly what Dickens based Jarndyce v Jarndyce on in Bleak House). He began to travel up and down the East Coast of the US getting people to join an association he established saying that they were the rightful heirs, and getting them to contribute money so he could pursue the cause. He would then travel back and forth from his coastal city to the UK in pursuit of the case.

      He arrives in London and almost immediately starts swindling people. He tells them that he’s the heir to either a 1.5 or 7 million pound estate (it definitely was not worth 7!) and people let him stay in their inn for free, they feed him well, they put him up in nice clothes. And then he never pays them. In 1851, a government official says “Everyone he has come in contact with says he is mad, but there is method in his madness.” His victims call him a fraudster; the government calls him crazy. He is briefly sent to jail, until the judge is informed that a respectable lawyer had advised him on his claim to the Jennens estate, and then he is set free. However, he still doesn’t have any money, so he continues his crimes and ends up in prison for “simple larceny.” But not for long! Because he’s transferred to one of the most infamous insane asylums in the country. Where he remains… for nine solid years.

      Again: his wife and nine children live across the Atlantic from him. At the point he is committed to the asylum, he has already been away from home for two years. He would be gone for over thirteen years in total. One would think at that point he would go home, kiss his wife and hug his children, and never leave the country. But he’s only home for maximum three years before there’s a newspaper notice for his “family association” asking everyone to come to a meeting on this date, because it’s the last date before he’ll leave for London. That’s the last time I can find him in the United States. He’s not buried with his wife or any of his children, and as the family story goes, he left one day and never returned. I think there’s a good chance he died in a prison or an asylum in England, but haven’t been able to find proof. I do find him one more time in the UK, in a workhouse for a few months, seemingly right after he would’ve arrived in England. Family records say he died in 1875 but doesn’t give a month or day or place, so I’m skeptical.

      I still have questions about whether or not he was a fraudster or crazy. From newspaper reports where he walked into court to challenge one landlady’s accusations, saw a bunch of other people with claims against him and walked right back out, I’m pretty sure he knew he was scamming people. But I cannot imagine that he would’ve spent NINE YEARS in an asylum, only to return to pursue the same claim that had ended him institutionalized, if he didn’t legitimately believe he was the rightful heir. And you know what they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result…

    27. Four Elephants*

      My great-grandmother, who was well known in my family for being a very tough lady, was working in a speakeasy during the Prohibition era. One evening, the town’s mayor had come into the speakeasy for a drink or three and, shall we say, took a shine to her in a manner that she did not appreciate. Well, she punched him very hard in the face, and he (probably quite drunk by this point) fell over, hit the back of his head on a metal footrest/rail thing under the bar, and got knocked out.

      Now, you’d think that punching the mayor would lead to some sort of trouble. But if the mayor were to do anything he’d have to admit that he’d been knocked out in one punch by a woman (apparently the whole illegal speakeasy thing was less of an issue), so great-grandma got off scot-free aside from the bruises on her knuckles.

      1. allathian*

        We’ve been watching Boardwalk Empire, and I can definitely picture this! Since she was working there, I’d be a bit amazed if she didn’t get a talking-to from her boss. But maybe he didn’t like the mayor either?

    28. Sara(h)*

      I had two great Uncle Morris’s (related by marriage to the maternal side of my family), and they were BOTH born on the Leap Year!

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        My husband and I both have an Aunt Dorothy married to an Uncle Alan.

    29. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I have not been able to verify this story, but there is a family tale that one day a group of men came riding up to my great-great-grandparents’ farm and demanded some breakfast. After consuming a suitably huge meal they paid with a small bag of gold dust.

      The men turned out to be Frank and Jesse James, with some of their associates. My great-grandma apparently still had the bag the gold dust was in, but one of my cousins has it and I’ve never seen it.

    30. blackcat*

      My mom had always been told about her great grandfather who came over to the US from Ireland at age 12 because his family was starving, with no money and lived the late 19th century American dream.

      She hired an Irish genealogist. Turns out, said great grandfather was actually from like the richest family in an area. He was not starving. Some letters revealed he just had a big fight with his father and jumped on a boat to Liverpool, then the US, when he was 14. People wondered what happened to him! The version known by hour distant cousins was completely different than what my mom had been old, and their version included a possible pregnant girlfriend who he left behind….

    31. Katefish*

      We have a family legend that one of us got her earring stuck in a wagon wheel crossing the plains (ouch) and that’s why most of the women don’t have pierced ears to this day.

  28. Lcsa99*

    Just a slight rant. TNT has been heavily advertising a new show that’s coming, Snowpiercer, and it feels like it’s so freaking tone deaf. I can’t believe that in the middle of a global pandemic they feel its cool to air a show about the end of the world.

    1. glitter crayon*

      Lots of people are enjoying shows about the end of the world right now. Sales of books about pandemics and dystopias are also on the rise. It’s ok that it’s not your thing but not everyone feels the same way!

      Personally I am enjoying shows about things being worse than they are in real life right now.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Personally I am enjoying shows about things being worse than they are in real life right now.

        Bingo. You know what, I might not be able to go out to the movies or something, but at least I have electricity and the internet and I’m not like, having to duke it out with crazy people on a bastardized semi going 80 miles an hour to keep from being turned into a broodmare for a tumor-riddled water hog.

        1. Blueberry*

          That is the best description of one of my favorite movies I have ever read.

      2. Tomacco*

        Same, that is 100% part of my coping mechanism. As soon as the pandemic was called I instantly turned to books and films about other pandemics, dystopias or people struggling through significant hardships e.g. the Blitz. It’s definitely a kind of therapy for me, and maybe something akin to gallows humour? However, I have a friend who was horrified/incredulous that I was watching Contagion as it hit far too close to home for him.

      3. Emily*

        Yeah, I think that people cope in different ways! And that’s fine, as long as everyone can opt out of things that make them uncomfortable.

        One of my favorite video game streamers (really the only one I watch) has been declaring different streams okay and not okay to talk/joke about the novel coronavirus. Her Animal Crossing streams have been mostly free of virus talk, for instance, but her playthrough of the Resident Evil 2 remake (which is literally a game about a zombie virus outbreak) has not been.

    2. TechWorker*

      Not sure if the show is the same as the film of the name (same director as Parasite which won all those awards recently) – but the film is really good. Dark, and probably avoid if you don’t like that sort of thing but it’s on UK Netflix at least, I watched it a while back and was thinking of rewatching with my other half.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yes, it’s based on the film. The show’s been in development hell for awhile so I hope it’s good.

        1. Nessun*

          ^^this. Also, the film is incredible but NOT for the faint of heart. I wouldn’t want to watch it again anytime soon (and not due to the current events, just because it was hard), but it was really amazing. I’m looking forward to the series if and when, but that movie got me in the feels.

          1. allathian*

            It got me, too. I’m glad I’ve seen it once, but I don’t want to see it again. And certainly not the show…

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Bong Joon Ho! I love his stuff. Snowpiercer is awesome and if you haven’t seen it, go on Netflix and watch Okja. He also directed a monster movie called The Host. It’s the one with the big mutant fish (trust me, it’s really good).

        1. Nessun*

          The Host was awesome!! I keep forgetting to watch Okja for some reason…need to fix that.

    3. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      I doubt the poster was calling for outright censorship of Snowpiercer. That said, I won’t be watching it either. I can’t deal with end-of-the-world stuff right now. Even the one minute of news I watch per day spikes my anxiety. But if that’s your thing, hey, whatever floats your boat!

      1. glitter crayon*

        Sure, I just don’t think it’s that tone deaf.

        Personally I am more aggravated by the stupid Uber adverts saying to stay home.

        1. glitter crayon*

          Not because staying home is stupid I hasten to add – it’s just such opportunistic marketing!

        2. TechWorker*

          Personally I am way more stressed out by government ads warning people to stay home. They’ve purchased them on every channel and whilst I *totally* understand why, it stresses me out a lot. (I am obviously staying home… but it would nice to forget that for a short period of time!)

    4. ThatGirl*

      It’s based on a movie and has been in development a long time. Technically it’s after the end of the world ;) would you be offended by Walking Dead or Hunger Games promos? It’s still in production but Station Eleven is much more … prescient, shall we say, since it’s about a pandemic and the aftereffects.

    5. BlackBelt Jones*

      Here’s a parallel, I think. This is based upon memory.

      We had the horrific events of 911, and the show “24”, with Kiefer Sutherland was scheduled to start its first season in September or October. If you’re unaware, “24” was a fictional, action-packed show whose main theme was TERRORISM. I think I recall some sort of issue/public outcry about the subject matter, because of 911. The show actually started later than originally planned, because of that event and the outcry.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      It’s based on a movie and was in the works for quite a while. Given that networks are probably going to run out of new content before they can resume production, to me it’s very logical that TNT is heavily advertising their new, scripted, in the can show that has quite a few name-ey actors in it.

      1. Honoria*

        It’s on youtube, broken into its 4 parts.
        When things first got hairy, I immediately rewatched Part 1

    7. Fikly*

      I know nothing about the show, but tone deaf would be airing a show about the world ending via a plague. A show about the world ending through other means? That’s not tone deaf.

      It’s like how after 9/11, movies about planes being hijacked were put on hold, but not all movies about terrorism.

    8. Oska*

      I was halfway through Guillermo del Toro’s “The Strain” when the pandemic hit. It’s about a virus that nearly ends the world. The part where the virus turned people into vampires helped keep it nicely unrealistic, but it sure took on a whole different tone as an actual pandemic unfolded at the same time.

  29. Misty*

    Thank you for everyone’s kind words last week when I posted about having one of the worst days of my life. It really meant a lot to me.

    TW for mental health for the following.

    I ended up hospitalized Monday until yesterday afternoon because I kept having panic attacks and could not calm down. I feel much better now although I’ve only been home for less than 24 hours. Life before Monday feels like a long time ago.

    1. NeonFireworks*

      So glad to hear you’re doing okay! I had a Worst Day just like this years ago, and should have gone to the hospital, but didn’t. I still regret not getting treatment.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am glad you got some in-person support for that. There’s lotsa stuff that probably shouldn’t be said on the net, so having people around you is important. You do sound a bit better, I hope it continues for you.

    3. Not A Manager*

      You’ve been going through an awful lot. I’m so glad you got good help. Please let us know how things are going.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thank you for the update. May things continue to get better. Take care of yourself.

  30. Faraday*

    I’m having surgery (ureteroscopy with laser lithotripsy) next week to remove a kidney that I haven’t been able to pass. I’m pretty terrified as I’ve never had surgery before. Has anyone else here had this done before? Obviously I’ll be asking my doctor what to expect, but I’d like to hear from others who have actually been through the procedure themselves.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I can’t speak as a patient but I’ve seen a million of these as an anesthesiologist. You’ll be asleep for the procedure. In my experience, people aren’t typically in much or any pain after. What people do complain about (probably from bladder/urethra irritation) is the feeling of needing to go to the bathroom after – that combined with disorientation from anesthesia means you will ask for a bed pan or urinal about a thousand times in the recovery room despite being reminded your bladder is empty. Typically home the same day with just over the counter stuff (Tylenol, etc) being needed if anything.

    2. Beth*

      I’ve had these done five or six times, because I couldn’t pass the little buggers after regular lithotripsy. It’s a relatively easy surgery, the general anesthesia is used because, as my last doc said, “Nobody could stay still enough for this!”. There’s no cutting, they just thread the laser up to the stone, and blast it. I was given photos of the last one
      Once the stone is broken up, they put a stent in to line the ureter so you can pass any pieces without damaging the ureter. That stays in for 7-14 days. I will be honest, that was the most unpleasant part for me. It made me feel like I was having a bladder spasm every time I had to urinate. I’d call it 20% painful, 80% weird sensation. The stent removal was done in an office visit, and it felt almost inappropriately good.
      I hope this helps. Good luck!

      1. Faraday*

        Thanks! What were your pain levels like after surgery and during the recovery process? That’s one thing that really has me worried.

    3. Kuododi*

      I’ve not had the procedure in the past, however on Thursday May 7 I’ll be having the same thing done to me. (Lots of prayers for us both.). I’ve had various surgeries in the past. I can say on an emotional level, personally I find anticipation of what is coming is worse than the actual experience. I find good information, meditation, music and the common sense advice regarding food, sleep and physical activity to be most helpful. My very best regards to you. Kuododi

      1. Faraday*

        My surgery is on Friday May 8th. Thanks for the suggestions- I know it probably won’t be as bad as I’m imagining it will be, or at least I sincerely hope it won’t be! Good luck with everything!

  31. AshamedAnon*

    I feel like such an idiot.

    I’ve been dating a man on and off since 2015 when I was 18 in college. He was 42 at the time. I found out a year ago that he had a partner and he said that they never had sex, slept in the same room, and were basically roommates. He promised me that he would leave her. I’m 23 now, and he is 47. We met when he presented about his business at my college class.

    I broke up with him last night because this has been affecting me a lot mentally. I cry all the time. I know I should have broken up with him earlier when I found out. I feel like an idiot because I never wanted to be the other woman but then when I found out, I didn’t end things because I felt blindsided, heartbroken, ashamed and confused. I didn’t tell anyone who knows me like my friends or therapist. I am so ashamed of my behavior and the fact that I still love him. I am so ashamed.

    1. Anonnington*

      It’s not your fault. He was dishonest. You didn’t do anything wrong. You can only go by the information you’re given. He put you in a tough spot.

      It’s good that you ended it. I know the emotional side of this kind of thing can be hard, but you really can’t trust someone who would fail to disclose something so basic.

      It sounds like you have good judgment, and I hope you find someone more deserving of your love.

    2. Socks and Sandals*

      Yes, don’t feel ashamed that he lied to you! He is the problem. You deserve better.

    3. ThatGirl*

      You were and are young; you’re not an idiot. You were manipulated by a much older man who lied to you. Be kind to yourself. I strongly suggest talking about this with your therapist, and just as a general rule, men over, say, 30 who date college students usually do so because they know women their own age won’t put up with their crap.

      1. AshamedAnon*

        At the time I didn’t really question why he wanted to be with me because our conversations were and are really amazing but I can see now that because I’m younger and have been focused on classes, I didn’t question things he did because it wasn’t things that I thought was red flags until looking back now. If that makes sense. I think you’re right and someone older would have realized that he was up to no good in some instances.

        I am going to try to tell my therapist this week when I “see” him on teletherapy. I feel ashamed that I didn’t break things off with him right away when I found out and instead I literally believed him when he said he was leaving her for me and that we would move in together. Like literally I thought that was going to happen because he said he loved me. Lol I feel super dumb now because it’s been a year and that’s not happening clearly. And even if he did leave her for me, I shouldn’t want to be with someone who would cheat on their s/o because that’s literally horrible and I feel sick thinking of my part in what he’s done to her. Last night he told me he can’t leave her because it would upend his whole life but he wishes that he could be with me and he still wants to keep me around and then he cried. And that’s when I broke things off, but I’m thinking maybe I should block his number too because we’re still talking. He wants to be friends until I’m doing better because he said he’s concerned about me (because of all the crying and pandemic isolation) but I think maybe I’d feel better with distance from him.

          1. AshamedAnon*

            Okay I will, thank you. I don’t really want to talk to him anyways and I think talking to him makes it harder to think, if that makes sense.

            1. tangerineRose*

              I think he’s manipulative and is trying to take advantage of you. Blocking his number would be a good thing to do.

        1. Marthooh*

          You still love the person you thought he was, and you’re ashamed of the person he turned out to be. These are completely natural feelings to have when you just broke up him last night! There really isn’t anything to say to make you feel better; just give yourself some time to process the betrayal and get over the pain of it. I’m glad you have a therapist to help.

          As for being “friends” – maybe his intentions are good, but it’s a bad idea. There’s nothing he can do for you that would actually help, and he’d just end up trying to get you back in his life.

        2. ThatGirl*

          I agree, block his number. Never talk to him again. You’re not dumb, you’re learning! He was and is shitty, it’s not your fault.

        3. Courageous cat*

          Girl, the closer you get to being in the age range of “‘it’s normal/healthy to date a 42 year old”, like in your 30s, you’ll realize more and more that how creepy and manipulative and sad his behaviors more than likely were, because you’ll see how young you really were at the time.

          Get distance. Tell him to find someone his own age.

        4. Pennyworth*

          I so understand the shame feeling because I experienced something similar many years ago. It is not your fault that a middle-aged predator has been taking advantage of you and that you fell in love with him. That is how they get away with this behavior. Do you ever read Captain Awkward? If not, I suggest you look at the archive of excellent advice to people in similar situations to yours and how to move on in a healthy way.

        5. LGC*

          …just so you know, I am in a full-body cringe from this dude. I might actually need to take another shower after reading this, he makes me feel so dirty.

          But yeah, he doesn’t want to be just friends. I don’t think he really cares about you so much as he cares about losing you. If he actually did care, he would probably realize that he was a dirtbag for cheating on his wife with a teenager (look, you’re 23 now, but he started dating you when you were 18) and that the best course of action now would be to leave you alone. He is uniquely unqualified to provide support to…in my opinion, pretty much anyone, but especially you.

          1. AshamedAnon*

            This comment made me feel a lot better and also thank you for the link to the article.

            But yes you’re right. I think he just doesn’t want to lose me. Why? I have no idea. We stopped hooking up and being physical once I found out about his partner because I said I wouldn’t do that until he left for good. I think he’s really lonely emotionally.

            I blocked his number earlier this evening and then I blocked his email but then he called me from another number to tell me all the things he loves about me. So I told him I just can’t deal with this and he needs to leave me alone. I also changed my number because I’m low key freaked out tbh.

            Last night was it for me. We were video chatting and he was saying that he wishes he was with me during the pandemic and then he started crying and saying that he couldn’t leave his partner (they aren’t married but have been living together for the last 20 years) and then he mentioned he can’t leave because he has a 19 year old son and they coparent and it’s not fair for him to upend his whole life because he’s very wealthy and if he leaves then she would get half of his money because they’ve been living together long enough for it to be a separation. (I have no idea if that’s all true, that’s just what he said.) And I was just like ‘okay.’ We’re facebook friends and twitter followers and literally you would have no idea from any of his posts/information on there that he had a family at all. I told him that we’re done and he started crying and saying that without me he was completely emotionally alone and he pointed out that how we met was a “one in a million chance.” (his words) I told him I couldn’t be with someone who will never be able to fully commit to me. He said it was unfair that I wanted him to change his life for me and I said he didn’t have to change anything for me because it was over. Then I hung up. It was only a ten minute call.

            Then this morning he was messaging me that he was worried about me and that he won’t leave me during this time. He kept saying he was really concerned about my mental health and a bunch of other stuff. I’m assuming he’s talking about the fact that I’ve been really lonely during the pandemic and I’ve been crying a lot and depressed. However when I blocked his number this afternoon, I magically started feeling less sick and stopped crying. I think that he may have been a lot of the sadness I’ve felt over the last year. I’ve felt emotionally sick since I found out last August. Go figure.

            1. AshamedAnon*

              Oh I forgot to say, the weirdest thing he said is that he WANTS me to tell my therapist about him this Thursday when I have my appointment so that my therapist will tell me what to do. He doesn’t want us to stop being friends until at least Thursday because he doesn’t think he should leave me while I’m doing so badly.

              This is odd to me because:
              1. I left him.
              2. I doubt my therapist is going to like this guy once I tell him that he had a partner this whole time and be like ‘yeah you should keep dating him, sounds like a really healthy relationship’

              1. tangerineRose*

                Your therapist is going to tell you that he’s a manipulative user, and you’re better off without him. And dating an 18 year old when he was in his 40s is very creepy.

                1. blackcat*

                  Yeah, and dating at 18 year old when you have a 14 year old child is EXTREMELY CREEPY.

              2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                You don’t need his permission to stop being friends, or to wait until some deadline he sets to dump him out of your life. And yeah, unless he is secretly your therapist in disguise, any competent professional is not going to tell you to keep dating him!

            2. Not A Manager*


            3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              Oh lord, this is so much emotional manipulation! Block him and unfollow him and break off all contact. He doesn’t want to lose you because he likes having a younger girlfriend. And the one in a million chance thing is nonsense. There are plenty of ways that he will meet younger women, whether it is through presenting about his business to classes, colleagues at work, or his kid’s friends. Maybe you are the only one he has started a relationship with but I wouldn’t bet on it. If he successfully manipulated you I’d be unsurprised if he has done it to someone else. And the crap about not wanting to change his life for you is a blatant statement that you are only an accessory and emotional dumping ground for him. It’s natural to feel upset because you have lost someone you thought you loved, but he was taking advantage of you and was a straight up liar. Don’t feel bad about blocking him entirely!

        6. allathian*

          Block his number. I’m guessing prolonging the agony won’t help.
          You did nothing wrong, he took advantage of your youth and inexperience. I hope you can treat this as a valuable life lesson and resolve to do better next time. Don’t believe everything a guy tells you, and don’t jump into bed with a guy who has a female roommate until you’ve met that roommate and can see for yourself that they’re just living together and not in a relationship. A guy who is interested in you and especially one who says he loves you, would be happy to comply with such a request if it truly is as he says. And if not, well, you can save yourself a lot of heartbreak by being a bit more discerning in who you date.

          1. AshamedAnon*

            On the plus side, we never actually jumped into bed together so there’s that. But I’ll try to be smarter in the future. I just want to say in my defense, I had no idea that he had a partner for the first four years we were together on and off.

            1. tangerineRose*

              And this was another terrible thing he did to you – not telling you he was already in a relationship.

    4. lazy intellectual*

      Yeah…middle-aged men do this a lot. He took advantage of you and he is the one who should be ashamed – not you.

      You did nothing wrong. I highly recommend you talk about this with your therapist. You aren’t the first person to be in this situation.

      1. matcha123*

        This is exactly why I did not ever entertain any of the creepy, middle-aged men who would try to approach me when I was younger. If a man is old enough to be my father and is trying to hit on someone who already looks younger than her actual age, the flags can’t get any redder.
        Guys my age never looked twice at me, and I was frustrated and thought I’d never have a boyfriend. I didn’t date in high school or college. I was in my mid-20s when I got my first boyfriend. But dating a guy old enough to be my dad? Nope. I’d rather be forever alone. The handful of cute May-December romances that people pull out cannot make up for the huge number of frankly creepy older men who think they can get a younger girl to love them. bleh.

        1. lazy intellectual*

          I get very creeped out by middle-aged men trying to hit on me, and have trouble being impressed by even successful relationships between men and women with a huge age gap. It’s just ICK. A lot of middle-aged men would lurk around my college campus, looking for prey. I remember one time, in between classes, I sat down at a picnic bench in the student union to have a coffee and get some reading done. In a matter of seconds, a 50-something year old dude sits at my table (when there are plenty of empty tables around) and starts trying to start a conversation. I told him I wasn’t interested in talking, and he got more insistent. I stopped hanging out at the student union after that. Some of my friends experienced the same thing.

    5. Elizabeth B.*

      He has knowingly manipulated you since you met. You are a victim. He took advantage of your youth and inexperience.
      Literally, your brain is not fully wired yet and therefore people under 25 do not always make wise decisions (hence higher insurance policies for that age group).
      Be kind to yourself, be angry at him for betraying your trust, and seek out support.
      If you don’t want to tell your current therapist, call a mental health hotline.
      These are challenging times and you are dealing with a personal crisis.
      Please post next week, even if you haven’t done anything yet but cry (which is okay)

      1. What the What*

        Not only was he taking advantage of her, but he still is. He knows they can’t be friends. Maintaining contact with her and telling her he wants to be friends is just another way to manipulate her. This relationship is not and never will be the foundation for a friendship.

        1. AshamedAnon*

          I agree that I can’t be friends with him. I blocked his number when I told ‘Numbers’ that I would block him, and I feel much lighter now. Like a cloud has lifted and I can think again.

          1. Effie*

            You’re doing great. I’m so happy to hear that the cloud of emotionally sick has lifted for you.

          2. Numbers*

            I’m so glad. You are strong, and your posts describing what he did after you blocked him shows you made a very good decision to place boundaries!

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Be gentle with yourself. You were very young when this all started and you’re still very young.
      You should talk to your therapist about this.
      I hope your future is brighter.

    7. Cher Horowitz*

      All the Jedi hugs in the world for you!
      That was a strong and brave move. You deserve so much more.
      It is not your fault that he was a dishonest scumbag.

    8. Bex*

      I am so incredibly proud of you for leaving him! It’s going to be hard for a while, and that’s ok. You’ll get through this, and you’ll come out stronger.
      He absolutely took advantage of you at a very young age. He is the one who should be ashamed of his behavior, not you. Please please talk to you therapist about this; having a support system in place is so important and can help you heal.

    9. Not A Manager*

      Please share this with someone. Maybe just the fact that you safely shared it here is a good first step. I strongly believe that decent people who care about you will not blame you for your actions, or for your emotions.

      Can you try to imagine how you would respond if someone you cared about told you this story? Would you blame her and be unkind to her? Or would you understand that she’d been deceived and manipulated, and would you feel empathy for her, and be supportive?

      I think this situation warrants reaching out to your therapist.

      I ALSO want to say that brains are tricky. You know that this man behaved badly, so you feel embarrassed and ashamed that you still love him. But you do still love him, so you don’t actually want to think that he behaved badly, so you re-write the story to emphasize all of the places where you made a poor choice so you’re the one at fault, and not him. However you look at it (“he’s lovable so I must be the bad one,” or “he’s bad so I must be wrong to love him”), you wind up somehow to blame.

      I would encourage you to just take a break from thinking about blame and fault. RIGHT NOW you are in a situation where you love someone, but you also know that the relationship isn’t safe or healthy for you. Whatever the reasons are, whatever happened, those are the facts on the ground. So you get to take the steps that are necessary to keep yourself safe, AND you get to feel your complicated feelings about it. He must have had a lot of qualities that you valued. It’s okay to keep loving him, and to miss those things, and to also know that you are doing what you need to do for yourself.

      1. AshamedAnon*

        Thank you, this was really amazing advice. I can still love him and know that I don’t want to be with someone like that anymore. I also kind of don’t want to talk to him or be friends with him either. The whole situation made me feel really bad about myself personally, and taking a step back made me feel a lot better. It’s confusing because he keeps messaging me saying it’s not my fault and that he loves me and that he’s worried about me. I’m thinking of just blocking his number. I’m not sure why we would continue to be friends except for the fact that he knows a lot of things about me that I’ve never told anyone before and he has been very supportive of my goals in life. But it’s not like we’re going to be friends for the rest of his life at this point so what’s the point of being friends right now, right? Very confusing though for me to try to navigate. He is one of the main people I talk to a lot and I can’t see anyone in person due to the being home thing.

        I am planning on telling my therapist this week (we already have an appointment set up). It’s harder talking about serious stuff with the whole video conferencing thing because it feels weird saying it out loud at home and being worried someone may overhear.

        1. WellRed*

          Please block him. Also, what exactly is he “reassuring” you that it’s not your fault? That…he’s not actually single? Also, he’s “concerned” about you? More manipulating.

          1. AshamedAnon*

            He was reassuring me because I was really upset about hurting his partner with my actions last night when he told me that he can’t leave her because it would upend his life and it’s selfish of me to want him to change in order to be with me. That’s why I broke it off with him because originally he said he was single, and then last year when I brought up the topic of being more serious together, he told me he had a partner but then I broke up with him so he said he was going to leave her and move in together. But then I realized with the pandemic going on that that would never happen even though he says he’s very unhappy and he cries a lot over video chat every time I say I’m breaking up with him.

            I think you’re right. I’m pretty sure he’s manipulating me with the concern thing and likely all the crying. Because yes I talk to him every day but I also talk to my mom, friends, and aunt every day too so it’s not like he’s the only person I have in my life. Plus I see my therapist once a week. I actually have a lot of people to talk to and the isolation is because of the pandemic not because I’m lonely, you know?

        2. Not A Manager*

          I get the feeling that it’s not helpful to you right now to think too much about his motives. Let’s focus on actions.

          I think you should send him a text: “Hi Person. Thank you for being concerned about me. I believe that you care about me and that you want what’s best for me. What’s best for me right now is for us not to be in contact. Please respect this decision that I am making in my own best interest, and please don’t try to get in touch with me. I know that you care about me enough to honor my wishes.” Then block him everywhere.

          Don’t think of this as a final decision. You’re not being mean and you’re not burning bridges. If in the future you decide that for some reason it is better for you to be in contact, fine, that’s up to you. I think that ultimately you will feel pretty good not being in contact with him. That might take some time, though. Maybe set a time limit for yourself where you understand that you might impulsively want to reach out, and decide in advance that you’re not going to contact him for, say, at least a month. At the end of the month you can soberly re-evaluate.

          It’s also possible that he will try to circumvent you by messaging you from a new address or by mailing you something, etc. If he does that, then you really do need to understand that he’s not being concerned and he’s not being loving. If he does that, he’s doing something that you told him would harm you.

          But I hope that he has enough of the qualities that made you care for him in the first place, to respect your adult decision about what’s right for you.

          1. AshamedAnon*

            I actually blocked his number before I saw your post. I didn’t message him that I blocked him or anything. I hope that’s not bad that I didn’t let him know first. Last night when I told him that we were over and I was going to not talk to him anymore, he got very upset which is part of the reason I didn’t block his number last night. I couldn’t deal w the guilt and crying, etc. He doesn’t have my address because I moved recently. But he does have my email so in theory I guess he could email me but then I’d block his email address too.

            I feel much better in the last hour since I blocked his number. Like a cloud has lifted and I can think again.

            1. Not A Manager*

              Hey, @AshamedAnon. I can tell from your posts here that you are a very conscientious person and that you worry a lot about doing the right thing. I want to really encourage you to follow your own instincts here. Taking care of yourself isn’t hostile, or rude, or harmful to someone else.

              I personally think he behaved very badly and you don’t owe him anything, but I know you have different feelings right now. Please know that no matter what he has said to you, or no matter how responsible you feel for his emotions, it is perfectly okay for you to prioritize yourself and your own experience right now.

            2. tangerineRose*

              Good for you for blocking his number. You already told him you aren’t going to talk to him anymore, and honestly, he’s an older man who manipulated an 18 year old into a relationship, you don’t owe him anything anyway.

            3. allathian*

              Good for you. The silver lining here is that he doesn’t have your current address.
              Make sure you block him on all social media you’re on, too. Does he know where you work?
              If he keeps signing up for multiple e-mail addresses to contact you, or gets a burner phone to call you from a number you haven’t blocked, from now on, please screenshot every communication. That way, if this really becomes harassment and he won’t leave you alone, you’ll have some leverage to get a no contact restraining order. It may depend on the jurisdiction, but I don’t think you have to be in danger of physical harm to get one. And just the threat of one may make him reconsider, although if you threaten him with it, you must be willing to at least apply for it, too. (Of course, it’s possible it won’t be granted, but…)

        3. TL -*

          Whenever I hear of a great connection with such a large age gap, especially when the younger partner is mid-twenties or below, I often think the older partner has stopped maturing at a similar maturity level to the younger one. Which means the younger partner will outgrow them eventually (and it sounds like that’s what’s happening here, too.) I’ve never seen it happen where the younger partner was decades more mature than their age. And you should enjoy being young and being at a good maturity level for your age! College was a blast at 18-22 in a way I could never replicate now and wouldn’t want to, but I’m so glad I went at the maturity level I did.

          It’s hard for me to connect the same way now though – how do I talk about the decade+ adult relationships I’ve in with someone who is still making the transition to adulthood? Which isn’t to say that I can’t and don’t have good relationships and conversations with people younger than me, but at 31 I would read “living together but not in a relationship because there’s no sex” very differently than at 21 and I hope I read it very differently again at 41 and then 51. And I think a mature 47 year old would be frustrated that a confidant couldn’t immediately see the (decades?) of context and weight in that statement, and would re-evaluate the wisdom of developing a deep, peer-like emotional connection with a person who wasn’t at a place in life to understand what wasn’t being said. The fact that he didn’t do that makes me think he’s an incredibly immature person who was preying on your youth so he could live in a fantasy world instead of dealing with his problems.

          I think he took a lot of advantage of you, emotionally, and I’m sorry. :(

          1. AshamedAnon*

            It’s interesting that you said this about the fantasy world because I once told him that I felt like I was just an escape for him.

            You’re likely right on the first part too – I’m not a mature 23yo who just happens to connect better with people in their 40s. I never thought of it that way before.

    10. Anonnington*

      I want to add a different spin on the age thing. College-aged people can be mature and intelligent. This kind of deception can be directed at someone of any age.

      However, some men look for someone who is much younger because they’re looking for a certain kind of power dynamic. It’s more about who’s drawn to you for superficial reasons than anything about who you are.

      I’m in my 40’s. I look very youthful. And I get an endless amount of nonsense from men my age, just below my age, and older who think I’m in my 20’s and/or naïve.

      For me, it’s usually really obvious because they’re so incredibly off about who I am and what will impress me. They try to play the “cool adult,” and pretend to be into things 20-year-olds are rumored to like, and it comes across as really fake. They make a lot of dubious, unimpressive claims to fame and social connections. They do a lot of bragging before asking basic questions. They sometimes try to shut down any kind of actual conversation.

      I think that, if it is possible to generalize, younger people tend to be more open-minded and to read things as personality quirks instead of cynically analyzing the goal behind the behavior. And it’s socially encouraged. When I was younger, being open and accepting was considered a positive thing and the cynical, “What does this person want and are they being honest?” was frowned upon. That was a parent/step-parent/teacher way to think. And a lot of people (of all ages) try to take advantage of that.

      Anyway, the whole thing says nothing bad about you. Just take it as a learning experience and don’t talk to him anymore.

    11. LGC*

      …dude, you’re 23, this is the time of your life to make mistakes.

      I actually wouldn’t beat myself up over this, and I’m the kind of person that beats himself up over everything. Okay, so you fell in love with a guy and then he pulled out the, “oh btw I have a wife BUT IT’S A LOVELESS MARRIAGE I PINKY SWEAR ;)” line on you. And you believed him, because…like, you wanted to believe the best in him. And then it took you a while to come to terms with the fact that this was wrong and you couldn’t do it because you wanted to believe the best.

      But then you actually D’d TMFA. (This time, I have absolutely no qualms about dropping a DTMFA.) That’s huge! And it’s going to hurt because you’re grieving the loss of the man you thought you knew. And you’re feeling shame because the “correct” (emphasis on the scare quotes) thing would have been to have been, “thank u, next” when he pulled that line about his wife being his roommate on you. But you still got there on your own, which speaks very well about your character.

      Funny enough, I was reading an article that I’ll link to in a new reply – it was written about the pandemic and people who happen to be in more secure situations feeling guilty about that, but I think it kind of applies to you as well.

      1. Reba*

        re: making mistakes…

        WHOMST among us has not made questionable decisions because we really liked someone???

        Feeling shame is a response that helps us learn from mistakes. OP, I hope the shame subsides soon because honestly, you are not really in the wrong here! The situation is painful but you’re doing wonderfully to trust your gut and change your situation. Be proud of yourself for blocking him.

    12. Koala dreams*

      You didn’t do anything wrong. You were honest and your ex took advantage of that. It’s okay to grief the end of a long relationship, even though you now know your ex betrayed you from the beginning. You say you feel sorry for the other girlfriend, but I feel sorry for you. Your ex choose to get two girlfriends and lie to both of them.

      I hope some day you’ll be proud that you broke up with your ex and that you recover and find happiness again.

    13. blackcat*

      So let me tell you a story.
      In high school, my friend, then 17, joined a meetup group for an activity. Most of the folks in it were in or just out of college, so mostly 19-24ish. She met a guy, really liked him. They went on some dates.
      Somehow, it was not until date 4 and pretty deep in the rabbit hole of “this is really special” that they realized that neither of them were in the 19-24 age bracket. He was 29!! And was dating a 17 year old, totally accidentally. Now 29 is a lot younger than 42. But let me tell you know this not-a-creep handled it falling for a teenager.

      He asked that, if she wanted to keep going, that they meet each other’s friends and family. I, being 15, apparently told him that he was a creepy old dude and if he ever hurt my friend, I’d beat him with a baseball bat (teenagers! Not mature!). They had a lot of frank conversations with each other and with each other’s parents (both within and across family units), and talked this through will their close friends.

      It’s been nearly 20 years (OMG I GOT OLD). They’ve been married for a bit over 10 years. They have a lovely child, who has a great big cousin relationship with my kid. It is now not at all weird that he is in his late 40s and my friend is in her mid/late 30s.

      The dude in your life met you in a context where HE KNEW you were young and he was being predatory. He managed to hide his living situation from you *for years.* I’m not saying this as a “you should have known” story, but rather a “there is an ethical way to be in relationships with big age gaps” story, and to be clear that skeezeball fails every imaginable test for that.

  32. WellRed*

    I bought refrigerated pizza dough at the grocery store and it has no directions. Advice? How long should it warm up before I use it? Cooking temp? Weird tips? I’ve not been successful in the distant past ( why do parts of it puff up during cooking?).

    1. BRR*

      I use my own dough directly from the fridge and bake it in a non-heated cast iron pan at 550 (or the hottest your oven will go) for 12 minutes. Weird tip, I love cracking an egg on top with 5 minutes left on the timer.

    2. Anon5775*

      You might try pricking the dough with a fork all over after you’ve rolled it out. That lets the heat escape better I believe and might prevent some of the puffing up.

    3. ThatGirl*

      The puffing is steam from tiny air pockets, pricking with a fork will reduce that for sure, I like puffy edges though :)

      I like to parbake my crust a bit before putting toppings on, it gets crispier that way.

      1. Anon5775*

        yeah, and stretching or rolling it out and then letting it rest a while, then repeating, makes it easier to work with the dough. I’ve tried parbaking too but I found I prefer getting the crust super thin, like you can almost see through it and then baking it with the toppings on it. The crust gets totally baked then, otherwise I was having raw dough in the center. Also, mozzarella pearls as the cheese took it to another level. The shredded, dry mozzarella tended to just disappear and get too brown.

    4. RC Rascal*

      I use the refrigerated stuff to make calzones. Bake it at 400-450 depending on the oven & prick w a fork if it puffs. I usually put spray oil on the pan.

    5. filosofickle*

      I find dough has to fully reach room temp or I can’t stretch / roll it out. It springs back! Especially the Trader Joe’s dough; that stuff has to sit out for hours. One thing I’ve learned is it needs to be rolled out a lot thinner than I think. I often make two smaller pizzas out of one piece of dough because it’s easier to manage.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I move it from freezer to fridge the day before. From fridge to an oiled bowl late afternoon to rise for a couple of hours.

      My main advice is to then just stretch it–pick it up with your hands and pull on different parts until it gets awkward, then put it on my baking sheet and keep pulling.

    7. Skeeder Jones*

      I buy my dough at Trader Joes and then I break off pieces to make individual pizzas. Each ball of dough makes 3 individual pizzas. I let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Then I gently stretch it into shape. I bake it at 450 for 11 minutes

  33. Trixie*

    Hanging a heavy piece of artwork and I’m flummoxed by the hardware installed on the back. They don’t appear to be sawtooth hangers but maybe only part of a two-part system with the second piece meant to be mounted to the wall first? There are three pieces total mounted to back of heavy frame with two on top and one on the bottom, forming a triangle. I took a photo and will link below. If the AAM hive doesn’t recognize, I will check next with local frame shop for suggestions. If nothing else, maybe just go with adding sawtooth hanger or something similar.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Don’t see your pictures, but google french cleat. Might be similar concept.

    2. Llellayena*

      Don’t use a sawtooth anchor for heavy art, the frame and nails are not designed for the weight. I’ll comment again after the pic is up, but it sounds like you have a bracket or cleat system. So you would screw the loose pieces to the wall at the distances they’re at on the back of the art then hang the pic on the brackets. You might need special screws or anchors to put the brackets in your wall depending on the wall type and stud spacing (standard long screws into studs, molly bolts between studs, masonry anchors if it’s a brick or stone wall).

    3. Reba*

      You have security hangers! I love these, I’m delighted.

      You need a t-shaped screw (best to put these in a stud or drywall anchor). Then you line up the hardware on your frame with the T’s, put them on, then use needlenose pliers or similar to rotate the screw 90 degrees, “locking” your frame to the wall.

      I hope that made sense. You will find video instructions by searching for security hanger or security hardware.

      Did you have this framed? I feel like they should have given you the right tools as these are pretty specialized. I used to use them for hanging artwork in public places, I’m not sure I’ve seen them for retail framing.

      1. Reba*

        There are also special flat wrenches for that 90 degree turn, since of course you want your frame to be as close as possible to the wall.

        1. Trixie*

          I bought it used and already framed. Now that I know what they are called (thank you!), I’ll see what I can find locally. If nothing else, maybe this is an easel piece or continue leaning against the wall.

          1. Llellayena*

            Glad someone was able to help! They were not what I was thinking they were! The ideas on the right type of attachment to the wall are still valid. If it’s heavy and you can’t hit a stud with the screw you might want to look at molly bolts, they should work with the T-shaped head mentioned above if you can find the matching length/width.

  34. Blarg*

    Yarn crafts! Being unemployed sucks but I have had lots of crocheting time. I got a Scheepjes whirl to make a shawl for my aunt’s bday and it was the best $28 I’ve spent on distractions/mental health this month. 1000m of beautiful colors and fingerling weight so it took a while to work up even with all the time in the world. Now my cousin asked for a throw and bought me two more (which I think is a pity-purchase, but I’m running with it). Anyone else having fun with beautiful yarns?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The Wingspan shawl that went viral on Facebook about this time last year – I ordered yarn from the dyer at the time, and finally got it in December. I’ve been cross-stitching mostly this spring so far, but I started the Wingspan with yarn that gradients from grey to orange, and it’s just lovely so far. I think I’m about halfway through.

      I knitted the mini version in a slightly less indulgent yarn first earlier in the year, just sort of to get the hang of it, but I haven’t blocked it yet – blocking is my downfall. Not that I can’t do it, or don’t know how, but I’m lazy about actually doing it, so finished lace ends up sitting around in my project pile for a couple of months before I finally get off my duff and pin it out :)

      1. Lexicat*

        I feel you on the blocking. I think my record is 2 years between finishing and blocking, and I know I have a small stack waiting for attention.

    2. another Hero*

      Right now I’m at the swatch stage of knitting a blanket for my brother and SIL as a wedding gift. I’m using Malabrigo Rios in two colorways, which I’ve worked with before and love both for knitting and for having lol. But I just can’t figure out a pattern I’m into.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I did Burridge Lake for my brother and his wife when they got married, but I’m a sucker for intricate cable work :)

    3. Dancing Otter*

      I’m working on a lace shawl (A Glimpse of Spring by Hilary Latimer) mystery knit along with Wolle’s color changing cotton yarn. Hilary’s patterns are always good: well designed and well explained. BUT this is my first experience with the cotton yarn, and it has a steep learning curve. It’s five strands of fine cotton, skeined without twisting, and it’s very prone to splitting. While I can usually work plain purl or knit rows without looking, now I have to watch every single stitch for dropped strands.
      It will be worth the effort, though. The fabric has a good hand, very fluid and drapey, and the color progression (the color changes one strand at a time) is lovely.

    4. NeverNicky*

      I’m doing a knitting challenge to raise money for the charity I work for – I’m being sponsored to knit the toy kits that come with a lot of the magazines here in the UK. I’m doing 26 for the #TwoPointSixChallenge and hopefully people will also donate to rehome the finished items.

      Sadly the yarn is all cheap acrylic but I have promised myself some indulgent knitting after this with some of the nicer yarns in my stash – seems like all my crafting life I’ve been prepared for something like this!

  35. Lifestyle sites?*

    I’m looking to expand the sites/ blogs I read. Does anyone have any suggestions? I currently read the strategist/ cut, man repeller, refinery29.

    1. Analyst Editor*

      You might like Dr. Psych Mom – a weekly blog by a psychologist that I like.
      I’ve used a lot of her advice for my own relationship and dealing with my own kids.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I discovered my modern met, which is a great art site. Variety of short takes, lots of “Oh huh, how interesting” from me.

    3. Christy*

      I like Rachel Miller’s JustGoodShit dot com. And Anne Helen Petersen’s writing on Buzzfeed and Substack. And Captain Awkward. I also love reading the wirecutter for fun.

  36. Anonymous Donor*

    I’m going anonymous for this because I don’t need recognition, I just want to get the idea out there:

    When my stimulus check came in, I didn’t need it. So I thought of a way to use it that wasn’t just random spending. I emailed my landlord and asked if he had any tenants having difficulty paying rent due to Covid. I was able to directly pay someone else’s rent. This saved worrying if my donation was really going to help people or to overhead. Given that it’s the beginning of the month again, if you have the means to do so, this might be a good option. There are so many news stories about people who can’t pay rent and landlords who need them to pay rent to stay afloat. This could help both.

    1. Selmarie*

      Wonderful! We used to own several small apartment buildings and were talking the other day about the situation — people here are proposing some sort of city-wide or county-wide stay of tenants paying rent. I understand the need, but the landlords still have to pay their mortgages. There sometimes seems to be a perception that landlords are villains or raking the money in. In my adulthood, I was a renter for my 20s and into my 30s, and can’t imagine the stress of not being able to pay my rent. We are just glad we sold the buildings and don’t have to worry about tenants or the buildings’ mortgage payments.

    2. BRR*

      First, that’s amazing! But I have to add that overhead is helping people. Nonprofits have costs and needs that may not be as appealing to donors but are necessary.

      1. glitter crayon*

        Yes, this. Not sure what people think overhead is, or what staff wages are for at non profits!

        1. Lucette Kensack*

          Right! “Overhead” is a nonprofit accountant, rent on a nonprofit office, health insurance for the receptionist, etc. Be glad to pay overhead! It’s good stuff, and it’s someone’s rent down the line.

    3. lazy intellectual*

      This is a good idea! I used my stimulus check to contribute to someone’s GoFundMe for medical expenses and Venmo some tips to local food service workers. I will continue my usual donations to food banks and such starting next month, but I really wanted to give something directly into the pockets of people who are empty right now. People are in a major crisis right now because of this stupid economy.

    4. Blueberry*

      I want to HUG you (non-infectiously) for doing this. What a kind action! You deserve all the accolades.

  37. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    What is your pandemic soundtrack? (This does seem to be a thing now!)

    I was just in the car and “Happy to Be Stuck With You” by Huey Lewis and the News came on, and that just seemed so appropriate.

    The first week this was all going on, “Panic in Detroit” by David Bowie kept coming up on my phone playlist, and that also really fit…

    1. WellRed*

      “Panic in Detroit” is top on my pandemic playlist. Also loving other dark or heavy songs “down with the sickness” “Bodies” “Dragula.” Of course, other days it’s rare Fleetwood Mac tracks. My musical taste is pretty wide ranging. (Can’t stand Huey though, ; )).

    2. glitter crayon*

      Some songs I’m playing a lot right now:

      Tricky – Black Steel (I’m in England so I really did get a letter from the government the other day…)

      Bjork – Joga

      DJ Luck and MC Neat – A Little Bit of Luck

      Whiz Khalifa ft Charlie Puth – See You Again

      Massive Attack – Protection

    3. fposte*

      I rediscovered an old favorite of mine this week: Bill Morrissey’s “It’s Dangerous Out There.”

      Well, there’s nothing you can say that will get me up today
      Nothing you have ever said that can drive me from this bed
      You can call me lazy, crazy, call me stupid I don’t care
      I ain’t getting up, it’s dangerous out there

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        The song is not familiar to me but the lyrics are wonderful. Thank you.

    4. The Witch of the Wilds*

      My go-to song for April was Reb Day’s A Very Musical Meltdown:
      Started the new year
      Full of optimism and inspiration
      But now with four months in
      My anxiety is reaching desperation

    5. Big Moody Curve*

      Mine isn’t so much about plague/pandemic, but survival as things collapse around us. A sampling:

      Jefferson Airplane’s cover of “Wooden Ships”
      “Gimme Shelter”
      “I Wanna Be Sedated”
      “We’ve Been Through Some Crappy Times Before” (Austin Lounge Lizards)

      I’m using “Don’t Fear The Reaper” as my hand-washing song.

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

      I’m listening to Spotify’s Best of Joe Hisaishi and Joep Beving, who was in the International Piano Day Deutsche Gramophone stream and was a nice discovery for me. Also, I created a “this should be in a figure skating program” playlist, which is a weird mix of music styles inspired by all the competitions I’ve been watching this year.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I’ve been listening to depressing covers of pop songs by Postmodern Jukebox. Their cover of Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and the just-dropped cover of Pearl Jam’s “Black.”

    8. Nessun*

      I need the upbeats right now!
      Unstoppable by Sia
      Phoenix by Fall Out Boy
      The Best by AWOL Nation
      Dumb Blonde by Avril Lavigne

    9. blaise zamboni*

      I had my library on shuffle and “We Will Become Silhouettes” by the Postal Service played. I was grooving along until I got mega creeped out by how apt the lyrics are for the situation right now. Except, of course, that the song is about *nuclear fallout*.

    10. Jaid*

      Anything Vaporwave on YouTube. Love the videos which are also a mash of anime and commercials and other images from the 80’s and 90’s.

      “Vaporwave is a microgenre of electronic music, a visual art style, and an Internet meme that emerged in the early 2010s. It is defined by its mimetic embrace of Internet culture and its sampling of smooth jazz, elevator music, R&B, and lounge music from the 1980s and 1990s, with the tracks typically manipulated by chopped and screwed techniques and other effects.”

    11. Bluebell*

      All Songs Considered did a great pandemic soundtrack episode. My favorite song was “I’m Gonna Make it Through this Year if it kills Me” by the Mountain Goats. There’s a glorious version of this song on YouTube when they played it on the Colbert Show.

  38. Four-legged Fosterer*

    Animal rescuers:
    How are things in your area? Here in the north-east we have almost no dogs although there are worries that a lot of owners will surrender them in a couple months. Fingers crossed it goes ok.

    The cats were quiet for the first few weeks although everyone wants to adopt and so many people are nasty about not being chosen. Now there are kittens everywhere, and our rescue is taking them in and finding them homes, although there are still a lot of disappointed assholes (most disappointed people aren’t assholes, but the assholes are disappointed and very vocal). With the shelters closed to adoptions (and likely euthanizing most intakes – they are typically low kill but these times aren’t typical) cat foster-based rescues are overwhelmed with requests both to rehome kittens and pregnant queens as well as adopt. Which would normally be ideal except that we can’t do some of our typical fundraisers (pet stores) or do spay/neuters, so we can’t just take in every kitten and quickly rehome it, because we aren’t going to change our ‘normal times’ policies. I’m thankful that we are doing as much as we can, but it feels like a drop in the bucket some days. We have to remember “Rescuing one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal.” And there are some very happy and appreciative adopters thankfully. I did the adoption process (virtual home visits) for 10 cats and kittens this past week with some excited families, which is a good feeling!

    If anyone is trying to adopt an animal right now and the rescue is slow to respond, please don’t get angry with them. I know it seems obvious, yet stressed and angry people are taking out their problems on some very kind volunteers.

    1. Ewesername*

      Our local rescue is doing a Facebook garage sale as a fundraiser. Seems to be going well.

      1. Four-legged Fosterer*

        We do one of those every year, and it’s great, but we still miss out on the pet store (bake and craft sale) fundraising. We’re making it work as best we can, but wish we had a lot more funds so we could save all the mamas

    2. WellRed*

      And I can’t imagine stressed and angry people move to the top of list for adopting a defenseless animal.

    3. epi*

      Our local ones surprisingly do not seem too overwhelmed. My partner and I wanted to give some of our stimulus check to the shelter our younger cat came from, but found they are not overloaded at all and are even turning down certain types of in kind donations. Another shelter we support closer to home was not in need of any new foster families as of last week. I think that will change with kitten season, as you say.

      A third shelter in our area has expanded its partnership with animal control. They support people who need to give up their pets by helping them find a family to re-home the animal directly, without it needing to pass through the shelter system. I think it will get hard for people to care for the pets they have as time goes on so we’ve been giving to support programs that provide free or low cost supplies to help people keep their pets.

  39. Beth*

    I have mined Alison’s book recommendations for a couple of years, and found some really great reads, including “The Immortalists” which was my #1 for last year. I spent yesterday reading “My Dark Vanessa”, and I don’t quite know what to do with myself now.

    It’s probably going to be in my top 20, or even top 10 for the year, but it is not a light read (TW: Lolita-esque theme, older male teacher, female student). The subject matter is difficult to read, but Vanessa’s perspective (don’t want to spoiler it) is not one we hear much about. Her dogged determination to preserve that perspective is heartbreaking, and the damage done to her was even greater because of it.

    I think I’ll read some David Sedaris next for a change of pace.

    1. another Hero*

      The movie The Tale involves someone finding as an adult that the reality of a similar experience was different from her memory, and I’d recommend it if you can stomach it

  40. Myrin*

    I’m finding myself in an ongoing feud with the mouse population around our house.

    I use the garage for early-in-the-year gardening purposes because it already had a sweet wooden table built along one wall when we moved in and since it’s always been a dream of mine to have a setup like that (yes, I know I’m a nerd), I gladly adopted it. I put all the materials I need for proper propagation (is that really what it’s called in English? My dictionary is insistent on this word as the biological usage, but I’m not convinced) of all my vegetables there and have been sowing and planting there since late March. Remember this for later as you accompany me on a necessary tangent.

    Now, because our flat is way too small for a family of three adults, we have my mum’s old warderobe in the garage as well; we use it to store our winter clothes, some bed stuff like thick pillows, and some bags. About two or three weeks ago, my mum discovered – in one of the drawers – mouse excrements among the sorry remains of what was formerly one of the thick pillows. She got me to help her take out the drawer and look for other evidence of mousing (there was plenty) and to gather all the stuff to wash/disinfect.

    I then went to open the second drawer to see whether there was any damage as well and, lo and behold, the mousling was sitting on top of its downy throne and looking directly at me! We stared at each other for a few seconds, then I robotically moved my head to the side to stare into the abyss like I’m on The Office and slowly closed the drawer again. Meanwhile my mum, who was standing two metres away from me, continued to make a weird, high-pitched, ongoing sound in the back of her throat, which was honestly the most bizarre aspect of this whole situation. She is not afraid of mice at all but she so very much Did Not Expect To See A Mouse that she just had to utter this sheer feeling of weirdness in whichever way.

    In any case. When I re-opened the drawer, the mouse had fled. We took out the drawers, cleaned everything, threw a lot of stuff away because apparently mice love eating the airtight plastic we put around our winter clothes, and thought, oh well, we live on the edge of the forest, these things happen.


    Because a few days later, I entered the garage to look after my seedlings only to find their containers either upended or dug up within an inch of their lives. Thankfully the mice seemed generally interested in the plants which had already sprouted so all my plants themselves remained intact, but they absolutely loved the sunflower and cucumber seeds and threw not only their soil but also their empty shells everywhere. I swore, cleaned everything up, put a lid or stones on top of things, and thought that would be it. Well. It wasn’t. Because a few days later, like an utter fool, I forgot to cover the plants one evening. And the same scene of carnage unfolded before mine eyes once again.

    So in a (very collected and calculated, obviously, it’s not like I screamed a little or anything!) rage, I moved all of my containers onto the balcony where I deemed them safe. Which they were. Apparently. Because three days ago, I went out to greet my plants in the morning only to find that the mice had lifted the cover of my professional seedling tray to wreck the place once again. (My sturdy little peas, who are fast growers and have borne witness to all of this from the very beginning, must be utterly traumatised by now.)

    I have now been mounting all of the containers on top of each other, with the tastiest seeds being on the very bottom so that the mice must open three other trays first before they get to them, and so far, it seems to be working well. But I know that they’re out there, hiding, lurking and watching, and just waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike again. But I’m prepared now. So let’s see who, as we say in German, has the longer breath between the two of us. Let’s see.

    1. Word Prefect*

      I work in a plant nursery and we regularly have trouble with mice and rats eating our seeds and seedlings. The only thing that seems to deter them is to put the seeds/seedlings on a table the legs of which are standing in buckets of water. I’ve no idea if this is possible for you but if you can devise some sort of moat it’s the most immediate way to save your plants.

    2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Ah, a good feud with the local wildlife. Frustrating, but also good for stories afterwards. My brothers and father left one window open all one spring so they could shoot at the sparrows occupying the purple martin house.

      You are right, propagation is not the right word. From a gardening perspective, I’d typically use it for times when seeds aren’t involved, like cuttings, though it can include seeds. It’s also a fairly fancy word . “Starting from seed” would be a more normal description.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Slack-jawed here at the idea of domestic snipers declaring war on the sparrows. Who won?

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          I must say, the sparrows, really. We kept putting up that martin house for a few years, but the martins never used it because the sparrows were always already living there. A pity, because martins are beautiful birds who eat mosquitoes.

          This was an air rifle out in the country, by the way, so not a danger to anything but the sparrows, which are an invasive species so they don’t count.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            Thanks for the explanation! Sorry the sparrows drove the purple martins away.

    3. Tau*

      I’m sorry, I feel like I should have a properly serious response to this tale of trauma and devastation (your poor peas!) but I’m laughing really hard right now. Those are some really determined mice you have!

      Our plants seem safe (*crosses fingers*) but if it helps, we’ve been having problems with raccoons getting at the bird food. There is apparently a band of raccoons roaming around town who have learned how to form a raccoon pyramid in order to get at bird feeders that should by all rights and common decency be way out of their reach. My mother had to start taking ours inside every night.

    4. Reba*

      This is hysterical. Thank you for making me laugh with your epic tale of battle.

      (In a similar vein I always enjoy hearing about my parents’ protracted conflict with their local squirrels.)

      They will keep coming in. If you need to increase your arsenal, do you have access to spray foam (not insulation, just mulit-purpose self-hardening foam-goop in a can)? We have used electric mousetraps which I think (?) are most humane.

    5. Penny Parker*

      You need dehydrated bobcat piss. You can buy it at this place which has been in business for over 25 years and gets it sustainably (no animals are injured). We live in the middle of the woods and had over $500 dollars damage done to the wires of our car (several attacks) before we found this. It works and is organic.

      The Original PredatorPee® Since 1986

    6. Dancing Otter*

      The odor of a cat is a mouse repellent, even without any actual mouse hunting activity. I know, because our tomcat is the world’s worst mouser: I watched him let a mouse escape from under his very paws on two occasions. But they never returned, and neither did any of their relatives for a while year after each incident.
      Any chance of getting some used cat litter to place near the pots? You wouldn’t necessarily need enough for you to smell it yourself, just the mice.

      Oh, and people do speak of propagating plants from seed as well as from cuttings. It’s just not the most common way of saying it.

    7. another scientist*

      once the mice have found a warm dry place full of sunflower seeds and down pillows where predators can’t get them, they won’t be deterred by some stones. Rather, by cutting of their supply you might motivate them to venture into the house. You need to get some traps.

    8. Blueberry*

      You told this story BEAUTIFULLY and I cannot stop giggling.

      When I had to battle indoor mice I applied liberal splashes of peppermint oil to everywher I cleaned, and that did seem to deter them somewhat. *somewhat*.

      1. AuntieMelMel*

        I’m not sure mice are deterred by peppermint. The building I work in faces a large field. We have to put out traps every fall to keep the field mice from getting in. One year I had a new coworker whose desk contained no office supplies, just food. We didn’t realize the mice were bypassing the traps for that bounty. I purchased a bag of ball shaped chocolate covered peppermint cremes. I came in the next day to the bewildering sight of what appeared to be pile of small white cannonballs neatly stacked in a pyramid shape in the center of my desk. I soon figured out that a mouse had emptied the bag of candy, carefully peeled the chocolate off each ball and stacked them. I was extremely thankful for his artistic tendencies warning me not to leave food in the office but I’ve not believed peppermint keeps mice away since.

        1. Blueberry*

          Thank you for telling me this tale of art and woe. *tosses out peppermint oil*

    9. Deanna Troi*

      This is hilarious! You are an excellent writer. And yes, propagation is the correct term. My mom is in a garden club and they are always using it and talking about propagating. Some people use it only when they are talking about growing a plant from clippings, but it can be used for seeds as well.

      1. Myrin*

        Oh, our landpeople – who live in the other half of this house – had one but he died a few months ago. We’ll actually talk to them to get a new one together sometime this year (our landlord actually suggested that back in January or so but his wife wasn’t ready for that yet) but for the time being, they’re stuck in Australia and neither of us know when they’ll be back, so the cat acquisition is on hold right now.

  41. LossMom*

    As previously mentioned, I am the mother of a baby girl who died last summer after spending her life in the NICU. People are weird and awkward around infant loss, often because they just don’t know what to say or what not to. So I have decided to try to start sharing some suggestions on things that are and are not helpful, based on my experiences and those of some other loss parents I know. My goal is to share one unhelpful thing and one helpful thing each time I post.

    This week I would like to ask those of you who are parents not to complain about how hard parenting is to your loss parent friends who don’t have living children. Please understand, I am not saying that you are not allowed to find parenting difficult because my daughter died, or that you are not allowed to say that parenting is difficult because my daughter died. I’m just asking that you not put a loss parent in the position of being your support or listening ear as you work through the difficulties of parenting. This feels particularly acute during Covid when people are working to balance changes in work with having kids at home 24/7. I know these changes are challenging and believe me, I am fully aware that I have no idea what it feels like to meet the relentless needs of a child, but that’s kind of the whole point. We as loss parents are working so hard to function and to rebuild our lives after our child(ren)’s death(s) and frankly we would give anything to be in your shoes. So please, if you are struggling with parenting, share that with another friend. Don’t put us in the position of consoling you.

    This week’s advice on being helpful is an action instead of a phrase. If you know a loss parent and you have the kind of relationship where this is an option, make sure they have really good tissues available to them. I think you won’t be surprised to hear that many of us go through an incredible amount of tissues, especially in the early months. Having a steady supply of gentle tissues isn’t going to make our grief any easier to carry, but at least we can carry it without flaky, peeling noses.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Thank you for continuing to educate us so graciously. It’s such an important topic and good intentions can be lost in bad words and actions.

      I look out for your post each week.

      I have not suffered the loss of a living child, only of pregnancies, but there is a lot of overlap in the useful advice here. Again, thank you.

    2. Magdalene*

      I’m sorry for your loss and that you are hurting. I wish you peace.

      I lost my son shortly after his birth. While the advice you give certainly works for you, it might not for everyone. Much of the things you have posted have been the opposite for me. I have also found lots of it hurtful. If it works for you that is good and my intent is not to be hurtful, but this is not a one size fits all thing and everyone will react and want different things. My friend who experienced a loss like this does not mind hearing other parents “complain” about their children and she finds it distressing when people avoid topics around her to avoid upsetting her. I feel similarly. Please be careful about this. Again I am sorry for your loss.

      1. Molly McGuire*

        +1 Magdalene

        I will go a step further and state I find these posts upsetting. I will borrow the word hurtful from you. These posts have made me avoid the open thread for the most part. I know you didn’t say this, but I think they are totally inappropriate for this venue.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I removed a bunch of comments saying similar things, all of which came in all at once in a 30-minute period which is … unusual. The viewpoint has been expressed, and it does not need to be repeated over and over, given the nature of the topic. People are allowed to post here. If you don’t like someone’s topic, please collapse the thread and move on.

    3. KiwiApple*

      @Alison – you can’t collapse a front line comment though.
      Maybe if lossmom finds it helpful, she could give a summary of what she will write about and then post specifics in a comment below. This way, it would allow for people to scroll past.

      Also, comments within a short period of time – this could be a very natural thing, given an internal blog, when people comment etc.

      1. Belle*


        Most posts that can be upsetting has a warning in the first line — these do not. I would recommend adding a warning at least for those who are dealing with similar issues. Hard to avoid otherwise.

      2. Lora*

        I’m sure Alison is familiar with the commenting patterns on her site and knows when something is suspicious or unusual.

      3. allathian*

        Agreed. Perhaps a trigger warning might be appropriate here?
        That said, I can’t remember seeing LossMom post on any other threads except this one, and on this subject. It’s perhaps a bit unfortunate that it’s not possible to hide the posts of individual users on this platform.
        I think it might come as a surprise to LossMom that some people find her posts upsetting. A little humility perhaps, an acknowledgement that other parents who have experienced similar losses might feel differently than she does.

        1. Fikly*

          At no point does she say these things are universally helpful or unhelpful. She says what she writes is based on her experience, and a few other loss parents she knows.

          To suggest that she needs humility when you cannot be bothered to actually read the first paragraph of what she wrote is profoundly offensive.

          1. Fulana del Tal*

            When she states she is offering one unhelpful and one helpful suggestion, she is definitely writing as if there’s is one universal way to grieve. While humility may not be the right word, Lossmom writes in a way that doesn’t leave room for any other experience with grief/loss.

            I’m not denying her grief but there is no one way to grieve.

            1. LossMom*

              Thank you for these reminders. I see where I should have been more clear that I can only speak from my own experience. I did not mean to imply that the experience of infant loss is monolithic. Each person should be allowed to grieve in their own way and each person is going to have different needs and preferences after loss. I do apologize for any harm caused. My only intention has been to spare other loss parents some of the insensitive and hurtful comments I have received. If I have instead caused further hurt to others in the loss community in my actions, I am deeply sorry.

            2. Fikly*

              So what you are doing is ignoring her actual words, and then assigning a meaning to what she is saying that she does not state, so as to prove your point and take offense. There is no definite here. The only definite is in how you are interpreting it.

              Look within yourself for why you are doing this.

    4. Imtheone*

      Thanks for the suggestion. It’s so hard to know what to do, especially as time goes on. My family member lost a baby at the end of her pregnancy, and lives very far from us.

  42. Red Sunglasses*

    I came back to my apartment(I live in a 50 unit building, no doorman) in the city from my parents houses where I’ve been for 7 weeks to switch out clothes and grab mail. I just realized my roommate has the only copy of the mail key. I texted my super asking if he can open the mailbox and, of course, haven’t heard back.

    I’m hoping to catch the mail man today but if I can’t any other ideas how to get in there? I wouldn’t be that concerned but there’s a package in there that I’ve got about 5 days left to send back for a refund.

    1. Jessi*

      Can you just contact the package people, explain the problem and ask for an extension?

      Or Get your room mate to forward mail the parcel onto you and then send it back?

      Give roommate permission to open and return package?

      1. WellRed*

        It sounds like Red is at the mailbox, not the roommate. I’d hang around for the mailman. Can you leave a note asking him to leave it unlocked this one time? He probably can’t but it’s the only other quick fix I can come up with.

        1. Red Sunglasses*

          Correct- package has been sitting in the mailbox and my roommate is gone. There’s mail and packages sitting in our entrance outside of the boxes and now I’m wondering if they have stopped putting mail inside the boxes? My window is directly above our building entrance way and I have yet to hear anyone go in or out the door so hoping that means it should be easy to hear him- perhaps I can leave a note asking him to remove the contents and leave them on the floor with the other items?

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Call the Post Office and see if they are delivering/picking up mail at your place. If yes, leave a message for the carrier assigned to your route that you have a package for return mail.
            If the answer is no, ask how people are getting their mail. This might give you some ideas of what to do next.

  43. Anon-a-nanny*

    y’all I’ve a problem you might be able to help with.

    I worked in CA most of 2017-18 – legally, got a social and paid tax. I have been gone since Dec 2018. A few weeks back I received a payment that I thought was a mixed up tax return (as since I didn’t work in the US in 2019 I didn’t need to file and didn’t) but then last week received a letter to my old address and basically think this is a stimulus “cheque”. I’m not actually and an American and therefore not entitled to this money – any ideas as to how to give it back?

    1. nep*

      I saw an article online that said IRS gave checks to a lot of workers who shouldn’t have gotten them. Remains to be seen how they’ll handle that, I think.

    2. BRR*

      It’s likely because if the IRS doesn’t have your 2019 tax return they used your 2018. Not sure what the solution is though other than causing an unnecessary headache.

      1. Anon-a-nanny*

        I don’t want to take what isn’t mine, especially at the moment when so many are struggling. But at the same time it’s a bit of a nightmare- I’m not even in the country so I’ve got to factor in time difference and long distance calling even if i could figure out who to speak too

      2. Imtheone*

        I know someone who is now deceased, and the letter confirming the stimulus check was addressed to , “Deceased.” Because the estate has not been settled yet, there is a bank account and a tax return was filed. Seems odd, though.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Great question!
      First, find out exactly why you got this check. If it was deposited in an account of yours, leave it there. It could be siphoned back out months later, if the issuing entity wants it back. (You’re legally responsible to give back money that’s put into your account by mistake in the U.S.) With luck, you’ll be able to keep it.
      Families of the deceased who received stimulus checks in the deceased’s name are being told to keep it. It would take too much money and effort for the government to “claw it back”. However, you have a different situation and might be obligated to return it.
      I hope you get to keep it!

    4. Jaid*

      Does the check actually say it’s a stimulus check? I’m not clear on how that will get handled, but in the meantime you want to return the check:

      If your refund was a paper Treasury check and hasn’t been cashed:

      Write “Void” in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
      Submit the check immediately, but no later than 21 days, to the appropriate IRS location listed below. The location is based on the city (possibly abbreviated) on the bottom text line in front of the words TAX REFUND on your refund check.
      Don’t staple, bend, or paper clip the check. Do not cut up or mark anything on the front of the check.
      Include a note stating “Return of erroneous refund check” and give a brief explanation of the reason for returning the refund check.

      It sounds like you’re International, so send it to:
      PHILA – Internal Revenue Service, 2970 Market St., Philadelphia PA 19104

        1. Jaid*

          Oh, gosh, yes. When I’m called back, I can’t wait to see what guidance Headquarters has for this. It’s gonna be a wild year.

          BTW, I found this:

          A33. U.S. resident aliens with a valid SSN are eligible for the Payment if they can’t be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer. Determine if you are considered a U.S. resident alien at Aliens – Which Form to File. If you are eligible to file Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR like U.S. citizens for 2019, including by filing a joint federal tax return with a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien spouse, file Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR with the IRS for 2019 even if your income isn’t enough to require you to file a tax return. You don’t need to take any action if you already filed a Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR for 2019 or 2018.

          If you are considered a U.S. resident alien for 2020 but not for 2019, you can claim the Payment when you file Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR with the IRS for tax year 2020.

          If you are considered a U.S. resident alien for 2019 but not for 2020, you won’t be required to repay the Payment we paid in 2020 based on your Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR for tax year 2019.

      1. Anon-a-nanny*

        No – its not actually a cheque – it was a direct deposit. I think it was a stimulus payment because of the letter

        1. Jaid*

          The letter states its for the Economic Impact Payment? OK, I can’t find specific guidance on it at IRS.gov, but:

          If your refund was a direct deposit:

          Contact the Automated Clearing House (ACH) department of the bank/financial institution where the direct deposit was received and have them return the refund to the IRS.
          Call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 (individual) or 800-829-4933 (business) to explain why the direct deposit is being returned.
          Interest may accrue on the erroneous refund.

          In your case, though:

          The International Call Center is operational Monday through Friday, from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Eastern Time):
          Tel: 267-941-1000 (not toll-free)
          Fax: 681-247-3101 (for international tax account issues only)

          Don’t be in a rush to return the deposit, though. Check in a couple of weeks with this topic and I’ll see if I have a better update for you, OK? I’d hate for you to send in a check if you don’t have to.

  44. Reluctantly Hermione*

    1. Studying for CIPP/US privacy law exam, 90 multiple choice questions, 2.5 hours. Last week’s practice exam was 72%. Passing score is 80%. Can’t help but feel I’m doomed to fail when I take it in June. (Took 4 tries to pass the bar, I excel at essays but am a horrific test-taker). Took another practice exam today I’ll grade tomorrow, which I took 5 weeks ago (there’s barely any sample tests so that’s all I got to work with).
    2. Our wedding anniversary is in a couple of days and I’m baking chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Hubs is cooking Italian. Feeling sad that we’re putting the brakes on trying for kids till next year when I’m close to 34. Where we live, I can’t get a dental appointment—there’s no way I’d be able to do prenatal appts in person (and given a family history of fetal demise that’s not ideal). It sucks.

    1. Analyst Editor*

      If by fetal demise you mean miscarriages, get checked to see if you have a clotting disorder. I know of someone who had multiple miscarriages until they started getting treatment for it — it’s unpleasant as I understand, but this girl has a baby now, after several painful tries.
      Prenatal care might be different from dental, because prenatal is less little solo practitioner clinics, and so are more likely to be open, and right now most people are postponing all other care, there is less of other care being provided, so there might actually be reasonable availability.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I don’t follow your logic in 2 – why do you particularly need to see a dentist before you have a baby? Or do you mean medical antenatal checks? Why wouldn’t they be going on at normal frequency?

      Very best wishes for improved test results. Does the adrenaline rush tend to help on the day?

      1. Jules the First*

        I think she means that dental appointments are generally easier to get than prenatal appointments (which would be things like scans and testing), and that in the circumstances, both are going to be tricky.

        Hermione – I think you should call your doctor and ask, before you make this decision. My fertility clinic is due to reopen in about ten days (with precautions), but my dentist says she’s still at least a month out.

        1. Ranon*

          Dental work is way more dangerous than prenatal stuff as far as covid goes – big difference between basically aerosolizing someone’s saliva versus monitoring someone’s uterus.

          I have heard that the number of prenatal appointments one could expect has been reduced for most people, I expect US folks will see a schedule much closer to the UK model where you don’t even venture into an office until week 12 at the earliest (higher risk pregnancies likely somewhat different) and some regular appointments will likely be telemedicine.

  45. nep*

    Pros and cons of having a laptop with an optical drive these days? (Not deciding on that right now–just curious about people’s thoughts/experiences/usage).

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have an external one, but I don’t think I’ve used it in probably two years or more. None of my regular-use computers have one built in. The only thing I’m finding that involves actual physical media these days are DVDs, which I watch on the Xbox attached to the TV – all my software is downloaded. So I don’t know that there’s necessarily any cons to having one, but I can’t find any pros either, personally. :)

    2. Searching for a New Name*

      I didn’t realize when I bought my new(ish) laptop that it wouldn’t have one, and when I realized it I immediately went and bought an external. I’m really big on buying media in some kind of hard format, because dammit, I want to own the thing, not just have the temporary right to use it that can be revoked at any time!

      External optical drives are pretty cheap. Mildly annoying if I want to travel with it, but I don’t know how much of an upcharge there is on buying a laptop with an optical drive installed versus using the external one. I consider it worthwhile to HAVE the drive because I’m still buying CDs and want to be able to rip them to my computer.

      1. Reba*

        Yeah this is the only point of friction for me — I still buy cds and blu-rays once in a while!

        One thing that is funny about the state of personal tech these days is how seemingly difficult it is to listen to the music that I actually own (as opposed to streaming).

        1. Myrin*

          I was thinking this not too long ago. I have a James Blunt CD from 2004 which is actually one of the few CDs I own because I happen to like literally every song on it (which is rare for me) and my laptop will not even acknowledge its existence. It’s strange because it doesn’t do that with any other CD, just that one. It’s also strange because as a result, I had to download this CD I physically own onto my Spotify so that I can listen to it.
          (My sister, on the other hand, doesn’t have that problem. She likes to listen to cassette tapes from her childhood and as such still has a radio with a working CD and cassette player, which can be quite charming.)

          1. Reba*

            Wow, that is serious nostalgia!

            I have a colleague who is into cassettes and has also become good at repairing the old players, by necessity. They do sound different than other media.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I found that a lot of them didn’t have optical drives anymore. I bought an external drive, and have used it a few times. However, I am now set indefinitely because I have it.

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Can you even buy one with an optical drive in it? I haven’t seen one for a long time!

      I have an ancient laptop that I still use for ripping CDs and DVDs. The £1 shop here has a large selection of CDs and DVDs so I look through it whenever I am there, and I have found quite a few things that are surprisingly recent. I do use streaming services too but I like to have the physical media, not least because sometimes that one song isn’t available or I don’t want to listen to the ads. We have an external drive but it is quite finicky about rejecting some CDs and I left it at my other place which I am now not allowed to travel to anyway, so I am thinking about ordering a second one.

  46. Lcsa99*

    Wish me luck! I am attempting to bake a purple sheet cake later today. I thought it would be a fun surprise when my MIL cuts into it so I’ll bake and freeze until next weekend. It’s my first time baking in a sheet pan rather than a normal cake pan (I thought that would make it easier to make two smaller cakes) and coloring cake batter, so any tips are appreciated.

    1. another Hero*

      Neither of those changes should mess anything up too dramatically, though a change in pan size could affect the bake time.

      1. Lcsa99*

        Yup, we switch recipies from pans to cupcakes all the time so I’ll definitely keep an eye on it. Also considering lowering the temperature. Since it will be bigger, but likely thinner I am concerned with the edges cooking before the center and think a lower temperature will help.

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          If it’s a recipe made for 2 9″ round pans, that’s 127 square inches of surface, while a 9×13″ is 117 square inches, very close in size. I’ve never had any trouble switching between the two. I think I used the same temperature. Or were you thinking a big flat pan, like a jelly roll pan?

        2. ThatGirl*

          Per Wilton’s baking guide, you should definitely lower the temp to 325. I will link in follow up, or you can google Wilton baking and serving guide.