weekend open thread – July 11-12, 2020

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Friends and Strangers, by J. Courtney Sullivan, the story of the relationship between a woman struggling in a new town and the college student she hires to babysit. It takes on money and class and parenthood, and both women are painted so vividly that you’ll miss them when you’re finished with it.

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

{ 1,209 comments… read them below }

    1. Pam*

      I read Little Big Man when pretty young – maybe 8 or 9. I was eventually shocked to find out it was fiction.

    2. GoryDetails*

      The Berger stories sound interesting! I really loved Little Big Man – though I didn’t read it until after I saw the Dustin Hoffman film, so that may have colored my impressions of it.

      My own recent reading includes several that I’d recommend:

      JEWISH REGENCY MYSTERY STORIES by Libi Astaire: as the title says, they’re short stories set in a Jewish community in Regency-era London, featuring such mysteries as the theft of a rare coin. On the “cozy” side as mysteries go, though there are some suspenseful bits – in one case a child is abducted during the “frozen Thames” winter, and it takes the help of the neighborhood pickpocket gang to retrieve him.

      SPECTACLE by Jodie Lynn Zdrok is a YA novel set in 19th-century Paris, centered on the Paris morgue – at the time, something of a tourist attraction, as the bodies of unidentified victims were placed on display in hopes of someone recognizing them. The heroine is a teenaged girl who’s working as a journalist for a local paper, writing columns about the unidentified people – including murder victims. She discovers she has the ability to see the victim’s last moments from the viewpoint of the killer, leading her into some dangerous investigations. There’s an interesting twist regarding the special-ability plot point, and there’s a sequel that I want to read now.

      MIND CHANGER by James White is from his marvelous “Sector General” series about a massive space hospital that caters to as many different lifeforms as can be managed, with medical teams that include elephantine behemoths and fragile fluttering empaths – and a very grumpy human in charge of it all. This one centers on that human, who’s being forced to retire after choosing and training his successor, and the book pulls in elements from many of the previous novels, kind of a “recap” book in some ways. But it also reveals a very surprising aspect of O’Mara’s life – and, as usual, depicts an impressive variety of alien lifeforms. (I dearly wish someone could film some of these; modern special effects would make it possible.)

        1. GoryDetails*

          >> Sounds kind of like Dr McCoy of Star Trek meets James Herriot?

          Heh! That’s a crossover I’d certainly watch! It’s not quite the tone of “Sector General”, though; the series emphasizes the challenges of having so many different alien races working together, and the difficulties of diagnosis and treatment when the doctors and the patients may have wildly different psychology and physiology. Some of the novels are from the viewpoints of specific alien characters, leading to much amusement re their thoughts about the humans. The efforts to actively support such a diverse community impressed me – even before recent events made it clear that we’re not doing so well promoting community among humans, who are all much more alike than the Sector General staff… There is a lot of humor in the novels, but they’re also thought-provoking, and usually feature impressive medical mysteries and the occasional disaster-scenario.

      1. hermit crab*

        I’ve never heard of the Sector General series but that sounds like exactly my thing! Thanks for the recommendation!

      2. pcake*

        Thank you for recommendations! I’ve already started Tempest in the Tearoom, the first of the Jewish Regency Mysteries, and am quite enjoying it so far :)

  1. Perpetua*

    Ideas on how to make a small wedding celebration feel more special?

    I was ambivalent about getting married, but after having a baby together, I’d really like to do this with my partner. Although we’d like to celebrate with about a 100 guests under normal circumstances, we don’t feel comfortable planning such an event until things hopefully settle down with corona (we’re in Europe), and I don’t want to wait that long for the actual marriage part.

    So we decided to get married next January on our 5th anniversary. The idea is to do it with our parents, witnesses and a couple of closest friends, so around 20 people (+ 5 small children) total. We’ll have a short civil ceremony probably followed by a nice dinner, but I’m looking for ideas on how to structure and plan this event so that it feels… significant and lovely, I guess?

    I love sharing my life with him, and I’d like to have this day reflect that, but “just” a dinner feels like it might be a bit empty, so I’m hoping to hear your experience with something similar, either as a guest or groom/bride.

    (If it matters, we’d still like to have a bigger casual party celebration at some point, but it’s unclear when it will be possible and if we’ll even feel like it then.)

    1. The snozberries taste like...*

      A friend of mine had “a bit of an elopement” (her words) with just under 20 guests. One thing that made it special is that they did photos- with everyone! People knew ahead of time that all the guests would be in the wedding photos since it was a small group, and everyone dressed up and it
      was fun and silly and so memorable. Then dinner and drinks, and after we made our way to the beach (with about half the group, 8 or so of us, some went home after the dinner) for a a bonfire and going from being a happy loud celebration to just a super intimate gathering of friends and family was so lovely.

    2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Don’t stress it too much. Now more than ever, there’s something inherently special about gathering the people you love the most under one roof. Looking around at their smiling faces, knowing they’re there with you to share your joy and celebrate your family, will fill your heart to overflowing. The rest of these suggestions might spark some ideas for you, but you already have the most important ingredients.

      From my experience designing rituals for various purposes, here’s what makes an event feel special:

      – Sensory and esthetic experiences. Send physical invitations, not just digital ones; holding a wedding invitation is the first sensory experience that sets the stage for the rest. Put on clothes, shoes, and makeup that will stay comfortable for hours and make you feel great about how you look. Do your hair in a fancy way, or wear a fancy hat. Wear a personal scent that feels special to you. Consume things you wouldn’t usually: the most expensive thing on the menu, sparkling wine, a wedding cake. Dance and sing.

      – Personalization. Think about things that symbolize your relationship and incorporate them into the event. If you both love the color yellow, ask the restaurant to put yellow flowers on the tables. If you met on a fishing trip, put a little paper fish at every seat. At one small wedding I went to, the bride presented the groom with a chocolate chess set in honor of their nightly chess games, and they played a game and ate the captured pieces while the rest of the party went on around them.

      – Collaboration and participation. Ask everyone to wear your favorite colors or otherwise dress up. Ask your favorite people to help you tie your tie or braid your hair on the day, or go dress-shopping with you. Have your guests do something simple at the dinner that creates a memorable object for you: one couple I know had their guests tie colored ribbons to their handfasting cord while making wishes for the couple’s happiness, and another blew up the wedding invitation to poster size and had all the guests sign it.

      And wedding-specific things:

      – Professional photography. Do not skimp on this! It’s hard to form memories of your own wedding, because you tend to be excited and anxious, so those photos will be a lot of how you remember the day. A good wedding photographer can make absolutely anything look special and magical, including your baby smearing cake all over her face. Make sure it’s a photographer whose esthetic matches yours, and set expectations about whether you want posed or candid photos and so on.

      – Delegation. On the day of your wedding, the only thing you have to do yourself is say your vows. Anything else can be assigned to someone capable. You probably don’t need a wedding planner for an event this size, but you do need at least one designated childcare person, a designated bandages-and-safety-pins person, and a designated person to call the restaurant when you’re heading there from wherever the ceremony happens. The more you can trust other people to handle things, the calmer, happier, and more present you will be.

      Mazel tov! I hope it’s an amazing day.

    3. Jackalope*

      My favorite piece of advice was that each person should pick one thing that mattered most to them and feel free to splurge as much as you want on that and then go budget for the rest. It doesn’t have to be one thing, but having even just a couple of things you each care about and invest in, then thumbing your nose at the rest of the expensive wedding industry, was a lot of fun for us.

      Also, the only wedding book I read was A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene (no magazines, they weren’t my thing) and I found it to be super helpful in helping me figure out what I wanted and how to implement that. It’s more of a big ideas book than a nitty gritty details one and I found that helpful. A few sections I read over and over again to help with sanity preservation.

      Finally if you can have a friend who is in charge of details on the day of, that would be great. I had a friend who was like the MC; officially so at the reception but also unofficially the rest of the day. And the book talks about this, but even if you’re having a small wedding, give yourself a specific time when you are done working/planning and begin to just enjoy it. I personally made a decision that the night before my wedding I was going to stop any wedding work at 8:30. I then went and did a favorite activity, and then went home and went to bed. The next day I mostly just showed up and enjoyed myself (obviously this involved a fair amount of delegation beforehand but so worth it!).

      Those are a bit random but hope it helps!

    4. Caroline Bowman*

      Small weddings actually often feel more special because they are small. They are more intimate, things that would have been prohibitively expensive for even 100 people are far more affordable for fewer than 30. Choose somewhere that is gorgeous and special to you, make the decor amazing, get a really good videographer and photographer and let all involved know they’ll be in the photos and I guarantee it will be extremely memorable and stunning BUT also far, far lower stress and drama than if you’d had lots more people.

      All the very best to you in planning for this amazing milestone event!

    5. valentine*

      I think a Downton-style dinner with great lighting and flowers (or your preferred decor) could be perfect.

    6. FruitCake*

      I had a delightful small wedding! We had a meal with about 10 guests in a lovely local restaurant, seasonal flowers by my mother in law, excellent local food, but what was lovely was that each guest shared a poem or reading that meant something to them – it was a lovely addition and I always remember my late uncle reciting Edward Lear.

    7. Akcipitrokulo*

      Having activities for kids is a good plan anyway :) but if you had some craft or drawing materials and asked them (without pressure), they could make you lovely pictures or keepsake of the day?

      (TBF as an adult I’d join in too ;) )

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When my husband and I got married, we had *digs up the picture* 12 people there, aside from us – my parents and sister, and the rest friends. We had a civil ceremony, a picture taken with the whole crowd, and then a nice dinner, and it felt significant and lovely and not a bit empty at all :)

      We pretty much just went with what was included in the casino’s basic wedding package – we picked our music off their list, I got a bouquet out of their catalog (I think I might have paid an extra $15 to get orange flowers in my bouquet instead of just white ones? but I like orange), it included five professional pictures (and just now when I looked at our group photo to count guests is the first time I can remember looking at one of those pictures since we got married in 2017), and I think the whole thing was about 20 minutes long, and then we took everyone out to dinner at our favorite restaurant.

    9. blackcat*

      I had a small (30ish) person wedding.
      The wedding itself was a picnic at a park. Wedding ceremony ~11, lunch picnic ~12, and everyone hung out until 4pm. Then there was also a dinner at 7 (at a fancy restaurant, elsewhere). We had kids at this part.
      Lawn games! Kites! Frisbees! It was delightful and lovely, and totally significant!
      Dinner was in a private room of a restaurant. We brought board games and played music and it was all very nice. No kids at this part.

    10. HannahS*

      I recently was married in a farmer’s field with only myself, my husband, and two witnesses, followed by a dinner eaten out of tupperware…which was very much not what we planned. For context, we’re religious, so having a Jewish ceremony was meaningful in and of itself, although it was deeply painful not to have family there. What I found moving was the ceremony and what it meant to us. I would suggest that you and your partner talk about why you’re getting married–why now? Why marriage? What does it mean to you? Work with your officiant to make a meaningful ceremony. Things don’t have to be very mushy or glamorous to be heartfelt. It will feel special, no matter what you do, because setting a day aside to celebrate your commitment is special.

    11. allathian*

      My husband and I had an intimate wedding (parents and siblings) when I was 8 months pregnant. It was just the thing for us. We got married at the registry office and had a reception at our house afterwards. It was exactly what we wanted. We’re both fairly introverted and neither one of us likes being the center of attention for very long, but because it was pregnant, none of our friends (most of whom had big weddings themselves) ever questioned our decision. My friends probably wouldn’t have done so in any case, but some of my husband’s friends are rather more outspoken. Some of my extended family members are extremely outspoken… But not a peep from them, either, much to our relief.

    12. Not A Manager*

      You’ve asked about a wedding, but let’s talk about marriage. The thing that makes this event different from any other dinner party is that it is celebrating your marriage. A lot of people have an orchestrated ceremony that reflects their concept of marriage, and then they party afterward. Since you’re having a short civil ceremony, what about taking some of the “vows” and “reflections” that you might otherwise incorporate into a wedding ceremony, and incorporate them into the dinner party?

      My second husband and I chose to get married many years after we had established a committed relationship and a shared household. We’d already “blended” our families. So when we decided to get married, a lot of people genuinely asked us why. And we had to think about that. What made the marriage state different to us from the lifetime-partners state? What did the experience of “getting married” mean to us? We actually had to think about these questions a lot and their answers weren’t obvious.

      Once we’d thought about that stuff, we wrote our own ceremony and vows, incorporating bits of our own faith traditions and cultural heritages. We found some music and some poetry that reflected our feelings. Members of both of our families were participants in the ceremony, and some were officiants.

      Obviously you don’t want to turn your dinner into a stage show, but maybe the speeches, the music if you have any, the special guest comments, etc. could reflect some of what makes this day special to you, and why you chose to become married to each other. If you have faith traditions that include any ceremonies around eating or happy gatherings, you might incorporate prayers or songs or reflections from those traditions. If not, there are a lot of secular songs and poetry about gratitude, and happy gatherings, and communal experiences that you could incorporate instead or in addition.

    13. Koala dreams*

      A special thing for a wedding I went to as a guest was personalized menus for the guests. So the small children got their own menus with their food, the ones with dietary restrictions got their own with the substitutions. It felt very thoughtful. I got the general menu, but since the people around me had different menus it felt special for me too.

      It was also nice doing photos with everyone. Like a class picture, almost. (The closest family got their own photo with the bride and groom, then group photo with all guests I think.) I don’t know if you’ll be able to do that now, but maybe at least a photo booth or something?

      I think a dinner sounds lovely, and not “empty” at all.

    14. Firefly*

      I’ve been to a few small weddings, and the one that was the most memorable had a series of readings, speeches, and stories sprinkled throughout the dinner – there was an MC who directed things perfectly, moving back and forth between formality and relaxed chatting and coordinating with the servers. Lots of small courses of food – most kind of fancy, but one course which was mini corn dogs, because that’s what they ate on their first date.

      1. Chronic Overthinker*

        I love this idea! I had a big wedding because I think I wanted to please my mother, though I did love the whole event. A smaller venue with food and drink and fun stories/speeches sounds delightful!

    15. Generic Name*

      I recently eloped. It was me, my husband, my son, and the officiant and photographer. We were married outdoors, and the photos are amazing. It was incredibly meaningful, and honestly I think it was more so because it was just us, and we did exactly what we wanted.

    16. Jane*

      The loveliest wedding I’ve been to was also the smallest; about 20 people total plus 2 kids, registry office followed by a meal in a restaurant (they’d booked a private dining room). It was very relaxed and everyone got a chance to chat to everyone else…so often at big weddings you see the bride or groom very quickly as they’re trying to get round say hi to all the guests. At this wedding we all chatted and laughed and joked together. I remember sitting on the floor helping the kids colour in at one point. What my friend who got married said was they really drilled down to what traditions they wanted, found a way to incorporate those, and didn’t feel guilty about scrapping the rest. She didn’t want a hen night (bachelorette) but did want a dress that felt special. They had readings and toasts, but didn’t do the cutting of the cake. I don’t think they did flowers. I’m actually struggling to remember what else they did or didn’t have, as a guest all I remember was how relaxed and happy everyone was.

    17. Always "anon just for this"*

      I’ve always loved the idea of a small wedding with parents and closest friends (like you’re doing), followed by a series of small receptions. The idea of being able to spend more time and have good conversations with all the people I love who want to celebrate with me and my spouse is very appealing.

      I read about a couple who actually did it last year: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/03/fashion/weddings/one-wedding-ceremony-and-12-tiny-receptions.html

    18. Cartographical*

      My wedding was not ideal, though having my grandparents there was a big thing for me, and I generally find them exhausting. There’s a lot of nothing going on. A lot of sitting. A lot of waiting.

      My favourite weddings have been fun but unusual — think an outdoor movie theater if you’re movie buffs, or a trail ride to an outdoor meal in a beautiful setting, hiring a few actors to perform a scene from a play that’s meaningful to you and your partner, live music if you’re a musical bunch with the agreement with the band that you’ll be joining in after the meal (this was super fun bc the wedding party were pretty much all musicians). A beach cookout or a cottage wedding is a fun option of you’re mostly young people with kids. I don’t like “destination weddings” but renting a row of cabins on a local lake and having the ceremony on the shore hardly counted as one and the driving was less than it would have been to many other venues. Two of the most memorable weddings I’ve been to weren’t even in person, they were online in virtual settings but they were fun and goofy and everyone pitched in to make it happen.

      What makes a wedding great to me is that it’s an experience celebrating the intersections of people you love and mutual interests that happen because the couple got together. One wedding required a ferry trip to a local island and the whole wedding party and guests all went together by street car from the ceremony to the quay and then to the island by ferry for a meal at the yacht club. (The ferry captain knew the party was coming, no one wants to annoy the captain.) I think doing something together like that is exclusive to a small wedding but also makes it really special.

    19. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Personal rituals as someone else mentioned. Our celebrant helps a lot with this! I think the most meaningful things she suggested was to send our rings around all the guests and have them say a blessing, give a wish / thought for our marriage etc. She then moved into the ring exchange part of the wedding. It was very meaningful, brought all the guests into the ceremony and I love that my ring holds all the good wishes from my community.

    20. Overeducated*

      I was a guest/witness at a good friend’s wedding like this. They decided on a week’s notice to get married instead of doing a big ceremony the following year for American health insurance reasons. It was a small civil ceremony and dinner in a small local restaurant. I think the simplicity made it extra specinal and memorable because it didn’t have all the crowds and aesthetic details and timetables of a larger traditional wedding, it was just this intense experience of being with two very joyful and loving people.

    21. Artemesia*

      A lovely dinner will be, well lovely, and festive. Plan some speeches to make it special. When my son married my husband and the FOB did a little song at the reception for the couple with their own words of course to a Gilbert and Sullivan. There were also toasts from friends. So what little touches like that — maybe even speeches from bride and groom but certainly from the parent couples would make it special.

    22. Tkg*

      I had a very similar wedding to what you are describing and it was perfect. I recommend making plans for some kind of post-wedding activity with your small group of attendees that is special, memorable, and bonding. Our 16-person wedding was on an island, so after the ceremony and a nice lunch, we all went kayaking together, still in our makeup and hairdos, but changed into casual clothes. It was so much fun and a perfect way to continue spending the special day together.

      We then had a “luncheon” buffet celebration for the larger family/friend group about a month later, which was also casual and fun.

    23. Aurora Leigh*

      We had a COVID era wedding in May so even though it wasn’t what we planned it was still lovely! My advice is if there are any wedding traditions you want to do — still do them! I wore my dress and veil and we did first look pictures anyway, and it really made me feel like a “bride”.

      I’m not sure of the legalities in your area, but we had a family member marry us and it was really special and made me tear up.

      We weren’t able to have any type of reception at that time but we were planning a pretty casual meal. I would still encourage speeches and toasts and you could even make a fancy exit if you want.


    24. The Fastest Thumb in the West*

      I had a small wedding with about 30 guests, mostly family. We were married at the small beach town (non-resort, not touristy) where my in-laws lived because they were elderly and it was easier for us to go to them. Everyone who participated in the ceremony, including the minister and pianist, were family members. We had an afternoon ceremony followed by a light buffet reception. Everyone split up for a few hours, then we all came back together at 8 p.m. for a sunset cruise on the intercoastal waterway (small boat- just our group). The next morning everyone met at a locally owned cafe for breakfast. I did not have a photographer; we told everyone to bring their cameras and we posed for photos while everyone took pictures. I felt like a celebrity with all the cameras going off! People also took lots of candid shots throughout the weekend. Unbeknownst to me my sister asked everyone to send her their favorite prints and she made 2 gorgeous wedding albums for me as my gift! It was intimate and meaningful, and far less expensive (by the thousands!) than what a traditional wedding would have cost in the big city we live in.

    25. Perpetua*

      Thank you everyone for such thoughtful responses, you’ve been of great help!

      I think what was missing the most from my mental walkthrough of the wedding were the speeches or other communal rituals that we might include our guests in. Our country’s laws about the legal ceremony are fairly limiting and there’s no way to create your own ceremony or have someone familiar as the officiant, but I really like the idea of asking our guests to share a poem, a reading, or say a couple of words during dinner. We’re also limited by the times available to do the ceremony, 4 pm is the earliest time slot, so that excludes brunch or lunch (which I’d love otherwise), and having an officiant come somewhere other than the town hall is prohibitively expensive, but I do think we’ll enjoy a nice early dinner in a restauran of our choosing.

      I am planning on wearing bridal separates with a white flowy fancy long skirt and maybe a top with sequins or beads, and we’ll definitely have professional photography since great photos are really a priority of mine. I also really like the idea of talking with my partner about our reasons for doing this and having that lead us in the planning.

      Now I’m looking forward to this day even more. :) Thank you, AAM community!

  2. Name ideas*

    I know there are several German readers here, I’m hoping you can help me with names.

    I’m looking for masculine and feminine names for people who would’ve been born around mid 1900s to early 1910s. I’ve done some googling, but the issue is that I need the names to signal upper class/old money status. Any suggestions?

    1. KeinName*

      Maybe browse through some Thomas Mann or Arthur Schnitzler (German & Austrian authors from that time, some are free on Kindle)? Or look up historical political events and see who was involved? One thing that comes to mind is the Paneuropa movement, founded by Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi (definitly a name with elite associations).

      1. KeinName*

        Or maybe google something like Sommerfrische, German and Austrian spa baths, history of Alpine tourism – elite families of that time had a habit of moving to the countryside during the hot months and the still existing villas and houses are named after them. From the Austrian Empire there is Bad Ischl, Triest, Bad Aussee. Or google the family tree of the Habsburgs or Thurn und Taxis etc?

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          As in Tudor England, a lot of names seem to repeat themselves (Mary, Anne, Catherine/Katherine), so there is more than one Maria Theresa in the House of Habsburg!

          The museums in Vienna will probably have some useful sources. I am thinking of the Hofmobiliendepot and the MAK.

      2. Name ideas*

        . . .I totally forgot that I have a collection of Thomas Mann’s stories. Thanks! I did consider Ashenbach, but worried that the association with Death in Venice would be too obvious and distracting. And the historical events idea is great.

    2. Anima*

      You can also look up the town of Baden-Baden, a spa town in southwestern Germany. I think, or believe, that there are lists for people on holiday in Baden-Baden (online). This is mostly upper class around 1900 because expensive.

    3. Myrin*

      You might try and have a look at chronicles from that time – a lot of them can be found on Google Books for free and in addition to providing weirdly amusing facts about all kinds of random people, the ones I’m thinking of also have lists of births and deaths which are a great source for that kind of thing; also has the advantage of belonging to a certain kind of locale so that you won’t have someone with a stereotypical northern name somewhere in Munich or similar.

      (And for whatever it’s worth, the upper class connotation often works more through the surname than the first name. We had what feels like a million emperors names Wilhelm and Friedrich but those were also completely regular names for regular people.)

      (Oh, also, if you decide on something but aren’t sure, feel free to post any names and I – and probably other German readers – will be able to tell you if it fits or not. This is one of these situations where I’m completely blanking now that I’m being asked about it, but as soon as I see it, I’ll know if it’s accurate or not.)

      1. Clisby*

        Yes – and how many upper-class (even royal) British have perfectly ordinary first names? Charles, Henry, Andrew, Louis, George, Richard, …

        1. Zooey*

          People tend to name their children after ‘celebrities’ including the royal family, so royal names almost by default ‘become less ordinary pretty quickly! But the surnames stay exclusive.

    4. T Minus Now*

      Also, use multiple names. For example, names that were common in my husband’s family (somewhat upper crust at the time) were names like Sophia Maria Elisabeth, Augustus Julio, Hugo Julius, Johan Heinrich etc..

      1. Chaordic One*

        Very true. It was uncommon for most people in western countries to have middle names until the 1900s (which is fairly recently). (There are still a few countries where it is uncommon for people to have last names.) Sometimes people from certain Christian religions would “take” a Christian name (usually the name of a saint) in addition to their given name when they received the rite of confirmation and then adopt that as a middle name. OTOH, upper classes are more likely to have not just one, but sometimes two or even more middle names.

        I wonder if upper class Germans have adopted the hyphenated last name? Or maybe that’s just an Anglo-Saxon convention.

    5. tamarack and fireweed*

      My grandmother and her siblings, born 1896 onwards (the youngest 1922) were called Katharina, Ida, Franziska, Nadine, Gerlinde and Joseph. Catholic rural Sudeten country, socially aspirational (they worked for a family from the nobilit).. Maria and Joseph are of course big for Catholic areas (note that German was and to a degree still is divided in Lutheran and Catholic areas.) As is Max (Maximilian).

      In Prussia you’s have more of Friedrich, Wilhelm and Heinrich.

      You’re right to be aware that names mark class class. Let’s look for some Heinrich Mann, a mix of moneyed borugeosie and people with a “von” in the name: Guste (Augusta), Diederich, Agnes, Emmi, Magda (Magdalena), Gottlieb, Käthe (form of Katharina), Albrecht, Judith, Otto, Inge, Frieda (form of Frederieke)… I’m leaving out the names of working-class people (Emil, Kurt…).

      Or you could browse names of personalities of the second half of the 19th century.

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! As usual, any writing goes, not just fiction writing.
    So how has everyone’s writing been going this week? For me it’s gone rather well.
    By the way, feel free to hijack this thread to ask your own questions to your fellow writers.

    1. Not Australian*

      I’ve been working on my family history blog, and I’ve encountered an unusual situation; an event I was sure happened in 1961 now seems to have happened in 1960 – because I’ve found a letter that relates to it, which was written in 1960 just after it happened. Previously I’d been relying on photographic evidence, which my dad had confidently dated to 1961. That means not only that he was wrong about the date on that particular photo, but it’s going to call into question every dating of his that I can’t definitively confirm by other means.

      Not looking for help or advice on this, I’ve got it covered – although it’s going to be a lot of extra work – but it’s a graphic example of how not-straightforward this sort of thing can be even when people have (as my dad did) gone to a lot of trouble to make “accurate” records. I just can’t imagine how he could have got the date so wrong when he was a lot closer to it at the time than I am now.

      Alas, he’s not around to ask any more – and it’s not the sort of thing that could have happened twice (sorry for vagueness) – so I’m going to have to go with the date in the letter and live with the fact that his dating of the photos is potentially subject to revision. Sigh.

    2. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Good news: I’m in the late stages of my novel (I’m working now on editing) and I’m mostly happy with it. One problem: I’ve based my main character’s love interest on a former coworker and sort-of-friend who I’ll name Svetlana, and I’m very worried about how she’s going to react. 

      We haven’t worked side-by-side in years, but still work in the same building (pre-COVID). We’re friends on Facebook and comment frequently on each other’s messages. We don’t hang out aside from quick chats in the office building. 

      Anyway, I wrote a novel whose male protagonist falls in love with a woman that — although she has a different name, of course — is unmistakably Svetlana. I took liberties with her character and gave her a dark backstory that might be upsetting. 

      I really don’t want to upset, hurt or scare her, but my gut feeling is that I’m likely to do one or all three of those things. (If she thought I had a crush on her, she wouldn’t really be off-base. But beyond the fantasy world of this novel, I’d never act on it.)

      I can’t really re-write the character in any meaningful way at this point; it would fundamentally change the story. With that in mind, should I talk to Svetlana before I unleash this novel on the world? (And if she responds negatively, then what happens?) Should I do nothing and let what happens happen? Am I off-base for even having anxiety about this, since we really don’t know each other that well in real life? Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

      1. MissGirl*

        I really don’t think you need to worry. She may not even read the book. Most of coworkers and friends don’t read my novels. I post on social media when they’re out but don’t push people to read them. Even if she does read it, I’d be surprised she’d recognize herself unless there are really specific details like both have a mole on their cheek or backgrounds are the same. How people view themselves can be really different from how others view them.

      2. Cheshire Rose*

        How can you be certain it’s unmistakable? That sort of thing can feel very obvious to the author but still not be noticed. Professor Snape, of all characters, was ripped straight from the author’s childhood, and he had no idea until she talked about it in an interview.

      3. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Good perspectives to keep in mind — thank you. And I didn’t know that about Severus Snape! That’s pretty remarkable.

    3. Bernadette*

      Here’s something I’ve been wondering: how do you achieve subtlety when you are not attuned to it? A common feedback from my beta readers is that I often state the obvious and too on the nose. The issue is, I’m the kind of person who needs things or connections to be pointed out explicitly. Hints don’t work on me, I don’t even realize they’re hints. Any advice?

      1. allathian*

        That’s a tough one, you can’t write what you don’t understand or even recognize. Perhaps you’ve just had bad luck with your beta readers?

      2. MissGirl*

        I have this same problem but with my characters having low emotional responses to events. I don’t have deep emotional responses to things in the same way others do. Like I don’t feel butterflies after first dates but others do. My beta readers constantly flag this as a problem.

        What I do is over exaggerate, at least to me, their emotions but at different levels based on their characters. Then I specifically ask my readers to flag where they thought the emotions seems wanting.

        You’ll want to make sure you only explain things once. IE The girl cried on her friend’s shoulder. She was sad her boyfriend broke up with her. You might write both sentences but in editing cut the second. Ask your readers to specifically flag this when they see it. Having concrete examples versus a vague suggestion you do it too much will help.

        A lot of professional writers have this problem when moving to fiction because their job requires them to spell out every detail so there can be no possibility of confusion.

      1. willow for now*

        As someone who has used fountain pens since college and has 17 of them now, I get how bad it is when a pen dies. I feel your pain.

    4. Altair*

      Entertainingly this is work related — my boss has me writing blogs for our webpage.

      How this relates to my hobby of writing is twofold: one is that it is an interesting challenge to write in this very different manner. Positive depiction of an item as almost a sentient and good-aligned creature is an interesting characterization exercise.

      The other i not so great: I only have so much writing energy! My fanfic is suffering! WAH! Seriously, has anyone fced this conundrum, and how have you handled it?

    5. Liane*

      I usually try to keep a few weeks ahead with my weekly blog articles. But now I am gearing up to get a few months ahead. Why? We will probably be moving this fall and I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes 2+ weeks to get internet up. It’s a rural area.
      I am starting with a few longer articles, to spread over the schedule. Then “fill in the gaps with the shorter ones I can write quickly when on a roll — unofficial stats for various roleplaying games.

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    As usual,this thread is not limited to video games, any games go.
    I’ve finished the first two Ys games (on Vita) and have just started Ys: Origin (also on Vita). It took me an embarrasingly long time to figure out the Lila Shell is a shell phone.
    Speaking of Ys Origin, it’s coming to the Switch too so weee! For those interested: Limited Run games will be doing physical versions, both a standard and a collector’s edition. Now if we could get Trails in the Sky on there (and maybe an official localisation of the Crossbell duology) that’d be amazing.

    1. Jackalope*

      I have a bit of a gaming question, actually. Someone here recommended Fire Emblem: Three Houses a week or two ago. I was intrigued, but wanted to know more before considering an investment like buying it. What can you (generic you, doesn’t have to be that person specifically) tell me about it? My favorite gaming style is Final Fantasy (can’t remember if I posted this here but a month and a half ago I finished the long-deferred dream of finally playing all the way through Final Fantasy IV, a game I started as a kid but then couldn’t get ahold of a copy anymore; one of the best things that’s happened in the pandemic! [Not that there have been a ton of good pandemic things, I add]). I have also started Skyrim in the last year or two and enjoy it but find it hard to deal with SO MANY side quests; the tiniest thing, like go get the frost salts, and I’ve completely forgotten whatever I was doing before. (I also don’t like the dungeons as well; I like the spontaneous monsters of FF rather than having to look for them). It’s a gorgeous world that I enjoy wandering through, though. I also just started Dragon Warrior 7 which is likely to be a bit long but I like the concept (but would like a bit more guidance for what to do next than it offers). Don’t know if that helps, but if you see this post and could give me a better idea that would be great. It definitely piqued my interest!

      1. LDN Layabout*

        So, FE3H is a good mix of time management, RPG and turn-based combat. I personally love that mix of strategy and character-based elements, I tend to do worse in combat games where I don’t have time to think!

        There are three difficulty modes, normal, hard and maddening. I play games for fun so I never go beyond normal/easy but the other levels do add a lot of replayability. A lot of what I’ve seen online is also people doing runs with only one character as a challenge etc.

        There are also two different playing modes: casual and classic. In Casual, if one of your house members dies, they just retreat. In classic, they’re dead and no longer available to you. I’m too soft-hearted to play classic (yes they’re pixels, but they’re also my babies!) but I know people who like that element as part of battles.

        There are technically four main storylines/routes, but really there are three (one route is just another route but better because you’re connected to one of the houses). I was unspoiled for my first playthrough and I really found it helped me get into the story, so that’s what I’d recommend. HOWEVER, if you pick one of the houses there’s a decision which influences which route you get, I thought it was fairly blatant, but I’ve seen online that some people missed the trigger. The gameplay etc. is very similar across the three routes, I did need a few days break from the game between each route playthrough before I wanted to play the game again (I’m on my last one now (with some DLC in between), I have around…nearly 300 hours put into this game).

        I really love the character system and building up relationships between myself and the students and the students themselves. There’s so many different characters you can recruit (with some effort) and getting to unlock the cutscenes with their relationships is really rewarding for learning about what makes them tick. There’s a lot of fairly classic (what I would call) anime character tropes in there as well, who you like will depend on what you like, but you do start to weirdly care about your little group and it will carry over into other playthroughs.

        The DLC is fun, but not really necessary if you’re agonising over the added price etc. I really enjoy the characters added and the extra storyline it adds to the main character but it’s very much not essential to your enjoyment of the game overall.

        Feel free to ask any other questions :3

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        While I can’t speak for Three Houses specifically as I haven’t played that one yet, I am a bit of a Fire Emblem fan so here goes.
        Fire Emblem is a strategy RPG series using turn-based strategy (think Final Fantasy Tactics, though in my opinion not as difficult because FFT is kicking my ass). An important thing to keep in mind is the weapon and magic triangles (they operate on a rock paper scissors principle). While the series has permadeath for most units (barring those who are important to the plot, although they too can’t be deployed in battle again) ever since Awakening (technically since New Mystery of the Emblem, but that was never localised) they’ve included a casual mode where units do return in the next battle (cue whining from purists). Three Houses also has a mechanic that allows you to wind back time for a few turns, though obviously this only has limited uses.
        Another interesting mechanic is the support system, where characters who spend a lot of time together will eventually increase their support level (and can even become a couple) which will mean they have advantages when fighting near each other. These support conversations also offer some insight into the character’s personalities (and on one occasion teach you how rhubarb keeps you pooping regularly – no I’m not making that up).
        In Three Houses there’s also the teaching portion, where you as a professor teach the other characters and as such can determine their future class, but someone else will have to elaborate on that. Looking at it it reminds me a bit of the school segments in Persona games (from 3 onward), but maybe someone else can elaborate more.

      3. Jackalope*

        That all sounds helpful, thank you. Mr. Jackalope has recommended that I try Final Fantasy Tactics to see if it’s the sort of thing that I like before considering FE:3H (since he already has a copy of it), and I may take him up on that. Everything you’re saying makes it sound interesting and like it might be worth a try. (LDN Layabout, I am intensely curious about which house has the route-differing decision!)

    2. Jackalope*

      I realized that I didn’t answer your question! My husband recently got me into D&D, and where has it been all my life?? It helps that he’s a super creative DM and we’re all pretty motivated and dedicated because there’s a pandemic so we have nothing else social to do (and it lends itself well to Zoom). A couple of weeks from now two of our players are going to be out of town and I’m going to try running a Monster of the Week campaign for everyone else, so I’m spending a lot of time frantically reading the manual.

      1. Ariaflame*

        I did my first DMing this year, you’ll be fine. Chances are you won’t get everything perfect, and nobody will care. We did switch to roll20 rather than in person due to the current situation, which had a bit of a learning curve but is making it a lot easier to keep track of combat and stuff like that.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Something I do as a GM that might help: Especially in a one-off game, be willing to hand wave the rules a little bit to keep things flowing. I do not have rulebooks memorized, and I tend to run for people who know the rules better than I do. So when someone asks a mechanics question, or “Can I use Spell X to achieve Goal Y?” type question, I either flip it to one of those people, or if they don’t know off the top of their head, I just go “Ten seconds to tell me how you picture that working? [*listen*] Sure, that sounds reasonable, let’s go with it.” (Or rarely, “Eh, that’s not working for me, but interesting thought,” but that’s super rare, I’m a pretty flexible GM.) Things like this are pretty much never going to be big enough to be game-breaking, so as long as stuff works for you and for your players, who cares if it’s Right According To The Books. :) (and if your players Really Really Care, then THEY can memorize the rulebooks and bring citations with their weird mechanic nonsense. :P Because I have one that does, and he will. )

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Also fun:
          GM: “Ok. Anyone with Perception, roll me a spot check.”
          Players: *answer*
          GM: “Ok. *shuffle notes, look at something, maybe make an eyebrow* Looks clear.” *carry on*

          I do this a lot, partly because it keeps them on their toes, but also because, if I only ask them for spot checks when there’s something to find, then they conclude that if I’m asking, it’s always for a reason.

          I also get a lot of mileage out of the ambiguous “Looks clear” from the scene in Pitch Black —
          Vin Diesel: “Looks clear.”
          Someone: *gets eaten by a grue*
          Everyone else: “YOU SAID IT WAS CLEAR!”
          Vin Diesel: “I said it LOOKS clear.”
          Everyone else: “Well, how’s it look NOW?”
          Vin Diesel: *shrug* “Looks clear.”
          –Which is extra fun for my crowd because Vin Diesel is an absolute D&D NUT, so we feel that he would appreciate the use of the phrase :)

        2. Jackalope*

          Thank you for the encouragement! (This is to both Ariaflame and RRtAF) I’m pretty sure I won’t have any players that are super rules-based. The backstory is that I had been trying to convince my husband to run a D&D game for both me and some of my good friends who have never played before (as well as a teenage nibling who has prior experience and seems to be enjoying this game with us even though he’s playing with his mom, his aunt, and their friends). My husband is also the only one who knows how to play Monster of the Week, so it’s going to be highly… experimental, shall we say. But since most of us are just starting to figure out the rules of D&D anyway, I doubt anyone will care if it’s a bit different than the official rules. The biggest thing I will have to change: I got my heart set on MotW and then in reading the book they underline multiple times that it’s a horror game. I SO do not do horror. Dark fantasy is the closest I can come, so dark fantasy it will be. Most of the other players aren’t into horror either, so I figure they will be okay with that. But Mr. Jackalope has offered to help with figuring out the rules when I run, and provide occasional nudges when I’m not sure how to handle the mechanics part.

          1. Jackalope*

            Oops, clarification. Most of us are starting to figure out D&D. None of us (besides Mr. Jackalope) has any sort of CLUE about MotW. I realized I was a bit vague there.

          2. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

            I run MoTW and it is a horror game like Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a horror TV show. You can make it horror, certainly, but I did things like “sirens at a frat party” and “war between vampires and werewolves in Savannah” and “Demons at Dragoncon”. I also did one long story about a town that was a portal to Faerie. I rarely got truly scary, though there was a haunted house jump scare with surveillance cameras thing I did once.

            The mechanics are for genre tv shows, basically (hence the name)

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My 13yo –summer camp cancelled due to Covid19 — started playing Pokemon Go, and yesterday asked me to go for a walk with her. Looks like I need to free up space on my phone because that’s the first time the exercise was her idea.
      I signed on for the first time in maybe a year and yeegads it’s like a whole new game.

    4. DarthVelma*

      The partner and I have become quite addicted to Gloomhaven – even managed a mid-week game on Wednesday after work. We had our toughest scenario yet last night – just barely got through all the monsters and got the treasure before we ran out of life/cards. We’re at the point where I need to do some serious research on the best way to play my Cragheart because just winging it isn’t going to work much longer I don’t think.

      Gonna play one more Gloomhaven scenario some time today, but this weekend is probably going to be all about Magic. We got a couple of Core Set 2021 booster boxes this week. We’ve already just opened all the packs in one – we couldn’t help ourselves. :-) But today we’re going to do a draft with the other booster box. There are a couple of cards we haven’t gotten yet that we really want for deck building purposes, so cross your fingers for us.

      1. Purt’s Peas*

        I started playing Gloomhaven with a friend—who owns the copy—right before serious distancing hit my state, and I’ve been craving it so bad! We played a few times, a couple scenarios each time because we couldn’t stand to stop after just one. Great game!

        1. Anom-a-long-a-ding-dong*

          We’ve been playing Gloomhaven virtually using Tabletop Simulator. Definitely a bit of a learning curve, but it’s nice to be able to play with our regular group! You can get Tabletop Simulator on Steam if you’re interested.

          1. Purt’s Peas*

            I’ve resisted a little bit because I really like all the little pieces :D I have been playing Iron Dragon on TTS something like weekly—it’s a crayon rail game, with a free / unofficial mod. It’s super fun :D

            1. another scientist*

              One more vote for the TTS implementation of Gloomhaven. We were able to pick right back up where we left off with our group. It’s really well done and even has useful assist-features (like if you draw the Miss card, the computer will automatically shuffle the deck before your next turn).

              1. Anom-a-long-a-ding-dong*

                Yeah- that and the life/xp counters- we were using d20s to keep track of the monsters’ hit points in real life, and the little digital counter is actually easier for all of us to see at a glance.

    5. fort hiss*

      Animal Crossing here and there, catching up on some Let’s Plays by my favorite streamer (he’s playing the sequel to one of my favorite horror games), and just started the absolute hot mess that is Tales of Berseria. It’s been… dramatic so far, to say the least.

    6. ThePear8*

      I recently discovered a “game” (if you want to call it that, I mean it is on steam) called Kind Words. It’s where real people can send out anonymous requests about things they’re struggling with, worried about, upset about etc and other people can view requests and write back anonymous messages of love and support. It’s such a lovely positive and supportive space and I highly recommend!

    7. cleo*

      I’ve been playing Wingspan – it’s a lovely, relatively new board that half my extended family is now obsessed with.

      My spouse and I play it pretty regularly at home. We’ve played it online via tabletopia with my BIL and SIL, which was ok. And last weekend we played it via zoom with my parents and it worked so well we’re doing it again today (Sun). Most of the play is on individual boards and and it worked fine to coordinate the communal stuff – whoever rolled the die for the bird feeder would just tell everyone on zoom what came up, etc.

    8. Liane*

      This month is all about Endings and Beginnings in my online RPG group. July 4th saw the last session of Star Wars Force & Destiny, run by a family friend of many years. GM told us after that he’d winged almost all the finale since the party did something he never expected, and Friend is good at predicting us. The plan? We called in our (NPC) Rebel Alliance contacts to help us take on an Inquisitor & Death Troopers. Said NPC allies were the PCs and 1 of my NPCs from the Age of Rebellion Star Wars campaign I ended a year or so ago. So both parties got one last triumph over the Empire. (GM ran all the old PCs doing mostly support actions.) Great fun to see both groups working together again. Friend had “Roke Squad” make cameos once or twice before, to our delight–but never as Special Guest Stars, like this one.

      This week our Mutants & Masterminds (superhero) GM did an out of character session. First we sorted out how and what our current PCs would do in future. Stuff we had decided not to play out for Reasons. Then we had a Session Zero for his next campaign, with teenaged heroes. Best part for me–the GM told me “Shut up Liane!” because I had somehow come up with an idea already on his Secret Future Plans List. Friend, our Force & Destiny GM, is the only one that ever happens to. I was so happy!

      Next week? I do the Session Zero Part Deux for another Star Wars Age of Rebellion campaign. I am running the published Onslaught at Arda 2 module. Wish me luck. This is a great group and very supportive of me, the least experienced GM.

  5. Lena Carabina*

    I hope the usual gardening poster doesn’t mind if I start the conversation early?
    Gardening thread!

    I’ve been thinking for a few years that I’d like to get into it.
    Thing is, I love how a garden looks with lots of flowers when it’s in full swing… but I don’t really like doing the gardening bit!

    Do you just do a bit a day till it’s done, then you can maintain it?
    Or is it all ‘hard work’? I find I always start with enthusiasm them peter out.

    I actually don’t have a lawn, just a tiny strip of soil which I’m going to tackle today in the front of the house, and a small bit of soil maybe 2.5m squared in the back yard, but that is a wreck and really the whole yard needs doing so I’m sort of ignoring it.

    I’m planting roses and a clematis in the front for over the railings.

    Any other easy big flowers I could look at putting in?

    The front gets sun in the morning and part of the afternoon. Northern English weather! Fairly near the sea but sheltered; can get windy.

    Obviously feel free to post your own gardening questions in this thread too.


    1. Homo neanderthalensis*

      So I’m in San Francisco- but our weather can be sorta maritime too and since I work in a garden center the advice I’d give locally might work for you too. Have you considered some kind of hydrangea? Besides adjusting the acidity of the soil they’re fairly low maintenance- Dead head the dead flowers, cut back in winter- etc. hydrangeas look really magnificent when other things don’t. In my neck of the woods they’re considered a semi-shade plant but I think for England your sun would be considered good for them.

    2. Not Australian*

      Honeysuckle is always worth trying, and nasturtiums are wonderful for colour and virtually idiot proof (but if the frost gets to them they turn into ropes of snot and are appalling to handle). Also, if you want a bit of spring colour, you can’t go wrong with ‘Queen of the Night’ tulips – huge, deep purple, very long stems, extremely dramatic.

      I’m also in northern England; these are staples I’ve had in my last four gardens and they’ve never let me down.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I wouldn’t recommend honeysuckle for a half-hearted gardener because it can grow so fast it’s overwhelming. It’s like mint in that regard, with the added problem of weighing down other plants.

      2. Lena Carabina*

        I like nasturtiums and tulips – although “ropes of snot”, LOL.

        I don’t want something that will take over; I just spent all afternoon removing Chinese lanterns and the roots were everywhere!

    3. Ginger Sheep*

      Hi fellow gardeners! I’ve been having issues with my small vegetable garden and would appreciate your advice on it:
      – Squash. I have a raised bed in a semi-shade area (gets about 5-6 hours of afternoon sun), in which I planted a tomato, a courgette and a red kuri squash. The courgette is doing great and producing a new fruit each week (already harvested 2 and a 3rd is ready to pick); the tomato plant is fine though not great and is producing reasonable quantities of cherry tomatoes. The squash, however, is not doing well. It is stunted (only seven leaves long), and only produces male flowers that wither and drop off. I (probably misguidedly) cut off the terminal stem with two leaves a little more than a week ago to induce it to produce side shoots, but I’ve seen nothing yet, and I’m not quite sure what I should do. Wait? Fertilise? The leaves look healthy but a little yellowish but it might be their regular colour…

      1. Ginger Sheep*

        And my second issue is with my cherry tomatoes. I have two plants in large pots that look as though they are dying off. The poor things have been repotted three times due to ant infestations. Latest time was a week ago ; the ants were not as bad as the previous times, but I separated the two plants which were in the same very large container to rehome them individually in smaller pots (40 cm diameter) that I could better protect from the ants. The pots are now raised over a saucer of water (do not touch the water) that keep the ants from creeping in. The thing is, those plants are really sickly: yellow leaves, leaves curling up, some leaves falling off. They get abundant sun and water. What can I do, if anything, to try to save them? They are still producing a few tomatoes…

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          Tomatoes are heavy feeders. Have you been giving them plenty of compost or fertilizer? I water most of my veggies using compost tea, which is a handful or so of organic compost (I make my own but it can also be purchased in bags from a garden center) soaked in a bucket of water for several hours.

          1. Hotdog not dog*

            Also, if you recently transplanted them, they may still be in transplant shock. Most plants don’t like to be repotted midseason. Especially if the weather is particularly hot, it can stress them. Give them a little less sun, some nice organic fertilizer, and don’t overfeed or overwater them and they should bounce back.

      2. Hotdog not dog*

        Check the stems close to the soil for tiny holes or scarring. It could be squash vine borers. They’re insects that drill tiny holes in the stems and lay eggs inside. When they hatch the larva eats the inside. It’s difficult to see the damage until the plant starts to die off. Unfortunately, once it’s underway it’s usually too late. You could try spraying with neem oil. We get squash vine borers almost every year, so I spray neem weekly whether I can see any damage or not. They can winter over in the soil, so it’s crucial to clean out the beds at the end of the season. Good luck!

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          Ugh yeah look for this. My best courgette seedling had these. They were small enough that I spent a disgusting few minutes extracting the bastards with a sewing pin and then tried moving the plant to another pot and burying it up to the second set of leaves. Surprisingly it seems to have survived and is still growing, although we’ve had such miserable weather here that everything is tiny and hasn’t even flowered yet.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        FWIW, my squash is not doing a lot either. But it’s a butternut squash so I really don’t expect it to do much until on into August or September. (We are zone 4 here, so possibly you are in a colder area?)
        But yes, lots of male flowers and no females and short little vines. I will keep going because I know by fall these vines will cover a 20 square foot area.

        What type of squash do you have?

        1. Ginger Sheep*

          It’s called potimarron in french ; I looked it up and it’s apparently red kuri squash or Hokkaido squash in English, but does not seem very popular in North America (should be! Hands down the best squash of all, it’s absolutely delicious – tastes of chestnuts, but better!). I’ll check my climate zone, thanks! And thanks for your comments and help with m tomatoes two weeks ago!

      4. Me*

        Just wanted to note that it’s typical for squash to only produce one type of flowers for a bit. It’ll eventually produce male and female. If you only get one male and a bunch of female flowers then you might have to use a small stick or small paint brush to fertilize the female with the pollen.

        I’d stop moving the tomatoes into different pots and hit them with some fertilizer. Ease off on the water unless you can tell they are dry. You might be overwatering. I wouldn’t water them so much that there is standing water in their saucers for hours.

        Squash need some fertilizer too!

        But the hours of sunlight are a bit concerning. You might not get a huge production out of either the squash or tomatoes with 5-6 hours of direct sunlight. You’ll get some but not as much if you had them in much more sun. It’s fine; I have an issue with trees and not enough sun so I just over plant to make up for lower production.

        1. GingerSheep*

          Thanks! Actually, the tomatoes do not touch the water : they are on “stilts” above the water, so that ants cannot build a third (!!) colony inside the pot. Apparently tomatoes really HATE having an ant nest between their roots. So I don’t think this is an overwatering issue. But yeah, it stands to reason they have not enjoyed being repotted so many times.
          I realise the sunlight is a bit low for my vegetables in the raised bed ; I just don’t have anywhere else to put them. But tomatoes and courgette typically produce well in this spot ; it’s my first year tying squash and maybe it just doesn’t agree with the location.

        2. Nita*

          Interesting! I’ve just started growing squash for the first time, so no idea what to expect. I started really late so it’s not even close to flowering yet, but we have a long growing season, so hopefully will get something…

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’m in northern England too but about 6 miles or so from the coast. I have quite a few things that just seem to take care of themselves for the most part although they tend to get a bit overgrown if I neglect them too much. Many things were either volunteers that self seeded and I decided to keep or left over from the previous owner. I also have a large area that is paved so I don’t have to worry about a lawn. Earlier in the year I did a major weeding project and cut the overgrown hedges back quite a bit but I generally only spend a little bit of time here and there dealing with weeds and stuff.

      At the moment I have some pink and purple geraniums, fuchsia shrubs, an unknown dog rose variety, ribbon grass, toadflax, Dicentra, Lady’s Mantle, foxglove, and some other random stuff. I like a fairly wild garden, though. I also have a bad habit (in normal years) of buying random plants at Poundland or Wilko and then having no idea where to put them, so nothing is arranged in any particular order.

      1. Lena Carabina*

        Hi there fellow Northern Englander (I think I remember you’re from the US though; I hope I haven’t made that up?!)
        I LOVE a wild garden – that is what I am planning on doing in the back once it has been paved and painted etc. I don’t know many of those flowers, I will bookmark this and come back to it, thanks :-)

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Yes that’s me! I wouldn’t say the garden is wild in the sense of being a wildflower meadow or anything, but I tend to just let stuff grow. Currently it’s a bit of an overgrown mess but I’m working on it.

    5. TechWorker*

      I am quite similar I think – I don’t want loads of effort and I don’t really *know* much about gardening but also appreciate the flowers!

      A small flower bed is good cos there’s only so long it can take haha. We’re just about to start planting in our new house and planning on some rosemary & lavender (both q easy to grow, don’t grow too tall). If you want to spend less time weeding try putting mulch inbetween your plants.

      A while back we also got some annuals from a garden centre that were literally a couple of quid… (cos we were selling the house and wanted it to look nice) but they then flowered multiple times that summer and actually looked great. So that’s another option (would need redoing each year but it’s not much effort and they don’t grow big enough to really need any maintenance!)

        1. TechWorker*

          Lol maybe we just got lucky, my boyfriend practically threw them into the ground because we were in a rush :)

    6. Helvetica*

      I’m plant-sitting for a friend – in exchange for him cat-sitting for me in August – and while I’ve never really cared for plants nor really wanted to have any, I find myself enjoying it. And I think the plants also enjoy their time with me. The camellia is growing new leaves like crazy, and three of the four orchids are also growing new leaves and one is soon to blossom, and I’ve liked seeing the progress. Makes me feel pleased that I might have a gardening “touch” indeed.
      He did give me a lavender bush, saying that it’s half-rotten and might not survive. However, I’ve mostly left it alone and to dry out a bit – he had overwatered it – and it’s in full sunlight, which it seems to enjoy, so it has new purple sprigs now! Does this mean I have successfully rescued it or is it a fluke?

      1. SpellingBee*

        I think you’ve probably rescued the lavender! They’re Mediterranean plants and like hot, dry weather and lots of sun (think of the lavender fields in the south of France). Overwatering will kill them every time.

    7. Me*

      I just returned from a week long vacation. The house sitter kept most things watered. I heavily mulched before I left so that probably helped.

      The tomatoes have shot up. I used 7’ tall stakes this year so they stick out of the ground at about 6’ or slightly less. My sungold tomato (started from seed) is beyond the top of the stake. That’s actually too tall for me as I’m 5’6”, lol.

      I put in a birdies bed right before I left. I got one of the tall ones- 30” tall. It’s set up in a 2’x5’ configuration. I uprooted four pepper plants and put them in there. I’m happy to see that they are thriving. I apparently planted some squash too. Can’t remember which one- um, I don’t think I wrote it down in my garden journal. Squash surprise?!

      To the OP’s question, I spend about 30 minutes to an hour each evening in my yard. About 10 of that is puttering around my veggie garden, tying up tomatoes, watering plants, guiding beans that are starting climb onto the strings that they need to grab onto, etc. I have pieces of wood here and there that I check for slugs, killing any that I find. I always have some sort of greens that are going to seed so I’m either pulling them for the chickens, tying them to poles because I’m saving the seeds (omg, love wasabina mustard that I tried this year! It’s amazeballs) or checking the seed pods to see if they are dry enough to harvest.

      I live on a half acre, half of which is forested and half of which had a house/small lawn, perennial beds, fruit garden, veggie garden, and lost areas.

      I’ve been hiring some industrious college students lately to recover some of the lost areas. They’re really good at pulling ivy and there are some parts of the forest area where ivy had really taken hold. It helps to have them work for a few hours a couple of times a week to get to places I simply can’t right now. I don’t feel bad about ignoring wide swaths of my yard during some parts of the year. Veggies are growing; that part of the yard needs my attention right now.

      Also, I picked up three baby chicks yesterday to plop under some broody hens. The chicks seem to be alive this morning, and the hens are quite content. It’s the first time I’ve done this; usually I just break the broody using a broody cage (which probably makes them a little sad). I can’t do this each year but this year at least they can raise a chick or two. Can’t wait to see them running around the yard with their mamas.

      1. Lena Carabina*

        I had to google what a birdies bed was! I wish I could grow veggies – I would like that. Your garden sounds mangnificent.
        I can manage a few minutes per day – I just weeded, which I quite like to do, and planted 3 plants and cleared up some old stuff. It looks good right now. Oh and I got a fuschia also for a pot by the door but think I will replant it.

        I found some wild garlic when I was digging around – can I eat the bulbs?

        1. Me*

          I’ve never had wild garlic come up around me, so I don’t know!

          The birdies bed is a nod to my bum knee. It’s harder for me to bend or kneel down. The taller beds will work for most of the garden (I’m planning on six of the taller ones, two of the tall circular ones and two of the 15” ones that are like 8’ long). I really love having a veg garden and don’t want to give that up because my knee isn’t cooperating.

    8. Jen Erik*

      Good tip is to wander round the neighbourhood and see what grows well for other people.

      The standard advice would be to start with some evergreen plants – so that you have interest in winter. And then probably bulbs for spring interest – snowdrops or daffodils. Then maybe bluebells or alliums. Roses do need a little looking after. Basically anything that needs no looking after will probably eventually become a bit of a thug – I’m thinking of things like alchemilla mollis or crocmosia, which are lovely and effortless but will therefore have a natural tendency to take over. But maybe that’s not a bad thing – just go for big clumps of easy stuff, and plan to split them every few years.

      1. Lena Carabina*

        That’s a good tip, thanks. Haha, I definitely do not want a thug of a plant! I just had a 6-day battle with a grass-type plant that had taken over. I think there are still some roots down there. I don’t mind trying a few minutes a day to maintain the roses because I like the scent and the look of them. Plus they were kind of expensive so I don’t want to waste my money, which is a good incentive at the moment.

    9. SpellingBee*

      Hey Hermit Crab – is your Mister Stripey tomato blooming? Mine is growing really well, but it hasn’t bloomed. All my other tomatoes, which are planted in identical soil in raised beds, are already fruiting and I’ve even started to get some ripe ones (mostly cherry, but also 2 Park’s Whopper Improved). I know Mr. S is a late variety, but I figured it would at least have started to bloom by now.

      Picking lots of green beans and jalapeño peppers, and a couple of the lemon cucumbers are almost ready. Basil is flourishing! My volunteer pumpkin or winter squash (not sure which) is huge and blooming. Carrots and beets seem to be doing well, as are the shelling beans.

      1. hermit crab*

        I *think* I am just starting to get some buds. It’s definitely behind my other plant (not an heirloom), which has lots of green tomatoes!

        1. SpellingBee*

          That makes me feel better! I’ll just hide and watch, see what happens with it.

    10. Kathenus*

      I’m in the US Midwest, and when I bought my house there was a strip on one side (between a sidewalk to the garage and a small fence next door) where they ran out of sod. Instead of planting grass there, I made it a pollinator garden. I got a variety of packaged seed mixes for pollinator flowers, prairie grasses, and the like.

      I love that it attracts bees, butterflies, and urban wildlife. But even more, the only maintenance is cutting it down once a year in the winter and then it grows right back up the next year. Two months ago it was almost barren, right now I have plants in there up to 8′ tall with four different colored flowers.

      Environmentally friendly and very easy for someone who historically has terrible time with anything plant-related.

    11. Nita*

      I’m a weekend gardener, not by choice but it’s the best I have right now. Most of the time I work in the garden maybe 3 hours, one day a week. It does get watered when I’m away, but that’s about it. I’m sure it would do better if I was there, but even with this setup, it gets by. I like to have a garden that doesn’t need me to hover, so that means lots of perennials, bulbs, and flowers that self-seed. I’ve got a lilac and a little raspberry bramble taking up most of the lawn because I didn’t want to deal with mowing it – or asking someone else to mow it, and hoping they won’t accidentally mow down the flowers too (happened way too many times). The only thing that I’m really dropping the ball on is weeding, but if you don’t want to weed you can use mulch or find a dense ground cover that slows down the spread of weeds.

      I don’t know what flowers would work well for you, but look at neighbors’ gardens when you walk around. That’s a good hint of what will grow in your climate!

    12. Phoenix from the ashes*

      I’m a huge fan of hellebores (suffering today from planting out several dozen yesterday, as it happens!). They’re not huge flowers but they’re low maintenance, great for shadey areas and (depends on the type) flower in winter and early spring when nothing else is flowering.

      My other love is Christmas lilies, which do have big flowers and the plants themselves can grow as tall as a person. They smell divine, but they are toxic to cats – though there’s been no sign of the neighbourhood cats showing an interest in my plants, and I’ve been keeping an eye out for several years now.

      Or, if you have a really sunny garden, what about irises? You can get some stunning large irises and they are really easy to maintain.

    13. PX*

      I have a small rubber plant I bought a while back which doesn’t seem to be growing. Any ideas? It seems healthy and doesn’t seem root bound (pot bound?) – but it’s also not put out any new leaves or grown in size in months? It lives in the sitting room which gets a fair amount of sunlight but obviously that’s indirect.

      1. Venus*

        I don’t know about that specific type of plant, yet I have found that my plants tend to grow a bit more when I stress them. Wait a few more days before watering them, or move them to a different spot with more or less sunlight, or a cooler or warmer spot?

    14. Lena Carabina*

      Well I did my front patch of greenery yesterday and it looks fabulous! I’m so excited!

      I found some wild garlic which I’d forgotten I’d planted so I replanted that, plus I found some bulbs – too small to be daffodils or tulips, they might be bluebells or irises – so I’ve moved them and I’ll see what happens. Probably nothing though because they’ve been a bit manhandled…

      And I bought 2 gorgeous rose plants, a clematis Elizabeth (which is my niece’s name) and a fuschia, all planted out and looking great now.

      Plus loads of very satisfying weeding.

      Considering it is such a small space, it took ages.
      But I think it was worth it. I put my 2 garden chairs and a little table out there this morning and had my coffee in the sunshine :)
      I am keeping my fingers crossed for keeping it up!

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had another thought for you — look online for “northern england master gardeners” , and ask for local advice. They’ll be able to help you decide what’s best suited for your climate because they’re right there with you. :)

  6. Jessie*


    Has anyone experienced feeling sick after a workout? I don’t mean the nausea you sometimes get if you push yourself too much. I mean flu like symptoms I.e chills, body aches and maybe even a cough? I’ve only been working out for three weeks and it happened a few times. My workout is totally reasonable. Not too hard or anything.

    1. Caroline Bowman*

      I am totally not a doctor, but you should see a doctor about this. NO… not Covid, but unusual feelings of malaise after a normal work out can sometimes indicate underlying health issues, specifically heart. Very often it’s just nothing and will pass, but please go and see a doctor to clarify the situation.

    2. MRVM15*

      I (more often than not) feel sick if I work out when I first wake up. It’s the only common denominator — it still happens no matter what the actual *time* is that I wake up, or whether or not I’ve eaten something beforehand, or what type of exercise. I have never had a cough, but I do get that feverish/chills feeling, nausea, and a general feeling of “huh, am I getting sick…?” I feel like this for at least the whole morning, and usually “off” for the rest of the day. It sucks!

      I’ve never figured out a reasonable explanation for it, and I’ve never met anyone else with this problem. I’m in good shape otherwise; I regularly run 2-5 miles and do yoga a few times a week with no issues at any other time in my schedule besides when I first wake.

      That said, especially in COVID times, I would recommend getting checked out by a doctor. You just never know!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      How’s your electrolyte intake doing?

      This heat is awesome here, compared to what we are used to. Worse yet we have had no rain for a while. It’s scary dry here. I was working in the yard and came inside pretty dog-tired. Randomly, I decided to put a couple spritzes of an electrolyte concentrate into water.

      I. could. not. believe. the. difference. I perked right up and went about my day.

      So even if you are exercising indoors and have an indoor job you can still be losing a lot of water in this kind of heat and not even realize. If you are pumping in extra water you can be washing out minerals at a unexpectedly high clip. It’s a surprisingly delicate balance this time of year. You may want to consider a drink with electrolytes in it.

      I’m not a doc. But I am a big fan of checking the easy-to-do things first.

    4. Jessie*

      Thanks guys for replying. Today was actually “cleaning day,” and by the time I was done, I was getting chills, chest discomfort and fatigue. So, it’s obviously not just exercise but any kind of physical discomfort. Will see a doctor, once the corona situation settles god willing.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        If this is new, do you have access to covid testing? This thing can come&go in waves (which is one reason Dr’s first looked at malaria treatments). It has a huge range of symptoms, and your after-physical exertion symptoms are included.

      2. blackcat*

        Do not wait for corona to settle down. If you are having these symptoms, it could actually be very serious. You should call your doctor ASAP and try to get in in the next few weeks.

        1. winter*

          Agreed. A blood panel is probably called for. But there’s also other stuff like longterm infections (just total layperson with my own issues here). In any case, this is likely not a “will resolve itself on its own” situation and whatever’s up, recovery might hinge on you getting more rest than usual. Let a doctor check it out.

        2. Ali G*

          Yes don’t wait. Almost all docs are doing virtual visits these days. You could get an appointment today to talk to a doctor and outline next steps.

        3. Oxford Comma*

          I agree. I wouldn’t wait. Maybe it’s a telehealth visit to start, but I would contact your doctor.

        4. Courageous cat*

          I agree. These are not normal symptoms IMO. I would honestly go to urgent care and see how concerned they are.

      3. Purt’s Peas*

        See a doctor right now. The doctor’s office is the last place that will be cavalier about your COVID risk. Don’t be part of the secondary pandemic of avoiding care—the best case scenario is you have a telemedicine appointment and they tell you to keep an eye on it and follow up when COVID dies down. Alternately there will be follow-ups and tests that are worth the risk, performed with all available precaution and care. Best of luck.

      4. WellRed*

        In women, those can be heart attack symptoms (I have no idea if you are male or female).

      5. Senor Montoya*

        You might be able to do an initial telehealth appt with your provider, who can then determine if you need to come in and/or see a specialist. Many providers can do an EKG right in their office, you don’t have to start with a cardiologist.

    5. LGC*

      “Hard” is also relative. Like, I’m not going to do a professional athlete’s workout, and admittedly if someone did some of the stuff I post on Strava it’d lay them out. I’m just curious – what kind of exercise are you doing?

      Since you’re a beginner and you’ve already had this happen multiple times, that’s a red flag to me. You probably shouldn’t be working out to the point that you’re making yourself sick repeatedly. I’d consider backing off the intensity further and then slowly ramping back up (which is a suggestion I make a lot because IT NEEDS TO BE MADE.)

      1. Jessie*

        I downloaded the Jillian Michaels app and chose the Trsnsform 90 Program. And I clicked “easy” as the level I want. I’ve done about three weeks and never felt it was too hard.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      Make an appointment with your doctor for a full physical. Seriously, this isn’t normal. I don’t want to scare you, but it could be a symptom of an underlying condition such as blood pressure, heart, or diabetes and you could be putting yourself at risk when you workout.

      Have a full lab work done, and I’d ask for an EKG too as it’s happening after workouts. Hopefully this really is nothing serious, but its better you know and rule out that it isn’t.

    7. allathian*

      I’ve had nausea after a workout, but I’m admittedly out of shape. If I’m too dehydrated/out of electrolytes, I get the chills as well. If you’re out of shape, body aches are normal after a workout, although mine are usually worst two days after a workout. That’s why I try to work out at least every other day, even if it’s no more than riding my bike for twenty minutes, to get rid of the lingering stiffness.

      That said, it could be something else, too, and I urge you to get in touch with a doctor for a consultation, telehealth if at all possible.

    8. KoiFeeder*

      Yes. It’s because I have severe and potentially life-threatening health issues. You should probably see a doctor.

    9. Jessie*

      Last January, I had several very scary near fainting episodes. It was extra scary because I was walking in public and not at home. I did some tests and they were ok. Then I did more tests and they were not ok at all. But the doctors though my autoimmune medication may have skewed the results and asked me to wait a month and repeat. But then, I didn’t get any more episodes and forgot about it and didn’t pursue it further. Maybe whatever it is has come back.
      There are no virtual appointments here because the country has unfortunately “opened” even though it’s still not safe at all. But maybe once things settle, I will get it checked out.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’m going to echo everyone else here and say you should NOT wait. This isn’t a telehealth situation. You may need several tests, and you DO need to see a doctor. Chest discomfort after cleaning? That is a terrible sign, especially in someone who regularly works out. If you are high risk for COVID, your doctor’s office will have ways to help keep you as safe as possible. But don’t sit on this.

      2. blackcat*

        Your doctor is still likely taking appropriate precautions. Really, at a minimum, you need to call.
        This could be totally benign or the type of thing that could suddenly kill you soon. You need medical attention to figure that out.
        COVID is not going to “settle” in your area if cases are spiking and things are still open. It will get much worse before it gets better. It’s safer to go to the doctor NOW than it will be in 1-2 months. And you really ought to go now.

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      These are serious symptoms and you need to talk with a doctor; it’s not something you should be getting medical advice on here! Because of that, I’m going to close this thread and strongly, strongly urge you to call your doctor to discuss next steps (now — don’t wait for Covid to settle down, which may be months or a year or more away).

  7. Subscription box UK*

    I asked for suggestions a while ago because I was struggling to find a subscription box (or any kind kf gift I can mail) for my best friend who lives in the UK. I got a lot of great suggestions, thank you once more!
    I decided to go with Tapp’d Cocktails (bottled cocktails, link in first comment) that was presented in a British morning show recommended in the thread. It was an absolute success! I went with the Mojito 6-pack.
    It was delivered to London within 2 days. My friend loved the drinks, found them high quality and there was that kick to them you expect from a cocktail by a mixologist. My friend added lime and mint so they also looked amazing.
    Recommended to anyone looking for a consumable gift.

  8. LadyRegister*

    Self care thread!
    Anxiety and insomnia have been making appearances and I’m finding it really hard to fully recharge.
    I’m one of the lucky ones in the US with a safe work from home job in a stable industry plus great childcare support from my parents who are sheltering in place with us. Husband is an essential worker.

    My normal go-to relaxation choices are travel and thrift shopping, both of which are likely off the table for the next few months if not the rest of the year (My mom is immunocompromised and also Covid cases are rising like crazy).

    I’m working to carve out more time to exercise and be outdoors. The world just feels entirely overwhelming at the moment. What are your go-to for small comforts and recharging?

      1. nep*

        (‘Forest bathing’ is a big one. Didn’t mention because you already said you’re working on getting outdoors more. Helps so much.)

    1. KeinName*

      Going for a walk in the forest while listening to a podcast. Also going to the sauna but that is not good now

    2. Esme*

      Sorry you’re struggling right now.

      Some of mine are:
      Hot chocolate
      Warming face masks (I like Spacemasks which are jasmine scented)
      Aromatherapy oils (I like the Tisserand ones)

    3. Lena Carabina*

      – Walking in nature, by the sea! Especially when raining – it’s much less busy then.
      – reading
      – watching funny easy shows on the laptop
      – meditation
      – gentle sensory experiences such as sitting in the dark in silence, listening to rain or ocean beach waves on YouTube on my earphones (shuts out other noise), pulling weeds up with my bare hands (SO satisfying to get one by the roots).

    4. Frapperia*

      I have anxiety and it’s been really, really hard too, fully sympathise. It spikes ALL the time and is very hard to control.

      Things that help me:
      – Walking in nature, really paying attention to the stuff I’m seeing, taking lots of photos of them
      – If you’re bubbling, playing board games with family
      – Talking to friends on the phone
      – Watching something easy and stupid like Once Upon A Time or Masterchef
      – Sound-reducing headphones and a book in my reading nook
      – I go to a weekly virtual dance party every Saturday – people come from everywhere, you could too http://socialdistancingdanceparty.com/

    5. Vic Venti*

      Long hot baths
      ***Time by myself*** (cannot tell you how much this little introvert needs this one)
      Cuddles with cats/dogs/babies

    6. Anon2525123*

      Small things are where I am at rn.

      – walk on nice grass for a couple minutes. Toe scrunches in grass are so nice.
      – lie on your back on the floor for 10-20 minutes. (If physically possible.) It settles out your back in a gentle way.
      – buy and use some extra nice bath wash and spend an extra 5 min in the shower (if you are able, depending on water restrictions and if showers are a sensory thing you are good with.)
      – or buy some nice smelling bath bombs and have a bath
      – wear a nice piece of clothing that is in the back of your closet, something that makes you feel fancy or comfortable
      – buy and use some really good lip balm
      – if you have photos hung up or art, change them around or switch them out. Looking at new things can be fun!
      – when you buy food get one new thing you haven’t tried (even a different type of an old fave: bijou pear instead of a Bartlet!) and one small comfort food
      – burn a candle or open an infuser that just smells nice
      – if you take a walk, do a picture of something neat every 500 or 1000 steps! A cool crack in the sidewalk, or the way light is shining through a tree. Just something to focus on and find beauty in in the moment. Plus, new pictures for the walls?

      There are more, but tiny little things can add up in all directions, good or bad. Why not implement some small, pleasant things without the pressure of HABIT, CHANGE ALL NOW?

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      Walking the dog
      Working in the garden
      Knitting and crocheting
      (Sometimes the reading and knitting happens outdoors…I find it even more relaxing.)
      Gratitude (consciously and intentionally writing down what and who I am thankful for, including details on why)

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Do you garden? Growing your own veggies would pull you outside and may appeal to the thrifty person inside of you.

      Like most people I have little five minute projects that have been sitting here FOREVER. I try to do a few of them every couple of days. It’s oddly comforting to see this stuff get done.

      I tried bullet journalling. But I couldn’t do it the way the videos described. That did not suit my needs. So I broke down and bought a new blank journal in order to start over. I have a section in the journal for future plans and ideas. I don’t spent a lot of time in this section, but I have found it comforting to think about a positive future and to write down some of the specific ideas I have every so often. Added bonus overall, I am pretty pleased how this new journal is coming along, it suits my needs.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I love swings & rocking chairs — something about the regular back & forth helps. (Used to like hammocks too but since I developed vertigo, my swinging & rocking has to be upright.)
      Swimming too, but no water access for me at the moment.

    10. hermit crab*

      Have you tried online thrift shopping? I’ve never actually bought anything, but I like browsing the U.S. federal government surplus auction pages – for example, sometimes there are really cool old maps that USGS is getting rid of, or weird old computer equipment that it turns out used to be owned by NASA. Currently there is a listing for “ONE LOT OF SAFES: 2ea Combination lock Safes, combination is unknown for one of the units. May have scratches and dents. Bidders are cautioned to inspect prior to bidding.” Anyone want to try their hand at safe-cracking?

    11. allathian*

      Going outdoors for a walk or a bike ride, either with my family or alone. We have a wood right by our house, where the bilberries are just about ripe. A handful of bilberries, yum.
      The curve is flat in my area, so the immediate panic has subsided. Everyone I know personally is healthy, and those of working age are employed. I’m doing what I can to keep it that way, while also doing some stuff that I enjoy but that have been on hold since mid-March. Such as visiting with my parents and in-laws now that the quarantine for senior citizens has been lifted.

    12. Firefly*

      Small comforts: no-polish manicure – hand soak in warm water with essential oils, cuticle repair with push stick, etc., cuticle cream and my favourite hand lotion

      Recharging: dream decorating – I love how my house is decorated, but I loved the process, too, so I like to pick a design style I admire but wouldn’t want to live with and make a dream board using images from the internet, as though I were going to redo the room. This month, I’ve ‘redone’ our office in a dark panelled steampunk theme.

    13. SimplyHired*

      I did an old fashioned thing and had 1/2 glass of milk in the evening. It helped tremendously. Also, if I wake up early and anxious thoughts start coming I just get up.

    14. Double A*

      This is a bit silly, but I miss thrift stores SO much! To get my fix I browse through estate sales. I use estate sales dot net. Normally I’m browsing because I’m thinking of actually going, but now I just kind of browse to get my “looking at clutter” fix. So normally I keep it local but you can see sales from around the country.

    15. Laura H.*

      Making sure I get out on the porch or out of the house (masked up) daily or every other day. It helps.

      And texting or messaging someone to check on them, and not expecting immediate response. It helps.

    16. ghoster coaster hoster*

      Sometimes I set the thermostat just a little too low so I have an excuse to curl up under a blanket. Something about the blanket really ups the comfort factor.

    17. Amethystmoon*

      Relaxing music
      Bubble bath
      Cup of hot herbal tea
      Looking at photos of cute animals online

    18. LadyRegister*

      Thank you all for the WONDERFUL ideas. I am putting three in practice for this week:

      – Splurge on something new (fancy tea)
      – Make tea
      – Add warm milk to tea

      Thank you for the lovely weekend ideas to brighten the week ahead :).

  9. Frapperia*

    Kitten update and question!

    She’s just turned 13 weeks and is starting to look like a mini-cat instead of a ball of fluff. Again, thanks to everyone who helped when she was 8 weeks, I was so overwhelmed with everything. She’s growing fast and according to the vet is really healthy. Sadly her brother (not with me) had to be put down at 9 weeks so I feel very lucky she’s doing well. Here’s some pics: https://imgur.com/a/oGPwO4G

    I bought what turns out to be a really shitty cheap harness, but I need to get her into one if I’m going to start introducing her to the outside safely (she’s already a terrifyingly fast escape artist) once she’s been spayed etc. Does anyone have any recommendations? My friend said cats have soft throats unlike dogs so need to be treated carefully with this sort of stuff. And any tips on that process would be great too.

    1. Double A*

      We just got a kitten! He’s fun and settled in nicely with our toddler and old cats

      Are you planning to always harness her outside? We just keep our cats exclusively indoors, partly due to the risk to them but hugely due to the damage they do to the ecosystem. We live in a more rural area and have colonies of lizards and frogs and now a family of foxes living on our land so no way we’d put any of that at risk, not to mention the birds.

      Really any harness that goes around the chest should be fine. I’d just put it on her and let her wear it around the house to get used to it. Maybe give her treats before and after putting it on.

      1. Frapperia*

        Oh you have lots going on! No, probably not – just going to see how it goes and how she feels about it all. I don’t live in an ideal situation – first floor flat with no direct access to garden, difficult downstairs neighbour, communal garden, foxes live just beyond it along a stream, so I’m just going to see. But I don’t want her to be an indoors cat (I understand the arguments but ethically I think where I am is quite different on that).

        I appreciate the advice and will definitely do that! The one I got is definitely no good.

    2. Shell*

      Oh! What a sweet baby tortie! I’ve had three torties and they have been the most wonderful cats!

    3. Trixie*

      What a beautiful kitty, markings on her face remind me of chimera or cats with two colored faces. For leashes, the Escape Proof Harness looks promising.

      1. Frapperia*

        Thank you! Her dad is ginger and her mum is dark so hence the markings. It’s total half and half, under half her chin it’s white-ginger :) Thank you for the tip, I’ll look it up.

    4. cat socks*

      What a cutie pie! I bought a very small dog harness for one of my cats. She’s full grown but very petite. I bought it years ago from a local pet store. My bigger boys use the Kitty Holster harness.

      Check out adventurecats.org or on Instagram @adventurecatsorg. I think they also have harness reccomendations.

    5. Pomona Sprout*

      OMG, she’s adorable! I have a tortie, too; in fact, she looks a lot like your girl. Torties really are something special. :-D I wish you many years of love, companionship, and fun with your little angel.

    6. Black Horse Dancing*


      I second the Kitty Holster. Many cat people on my FB group use them.

  10. Vic Venti*

    My grandmother turns 100 today! She’s an amazing woman, clever and independent and has been a wonderful grandmother. When she went to boarding school she told the headmistress that she wanted to be a journalist and was told “nice girls aren’t journalists, dear”. And she said that for the times, her headmistress was quite progressive (she thought women should have careers, just that they should stick to nursing, teaching and secretary jobs).

    Despite this, she actually did work as a journalist for a local daily newspaper towards the end of the second world war but then had to move for her husband’s job when he came out of the army. She tried, but never got another journalism job after this and I think has always felt a bit thwarted (although very happy with her full life).

    So, what are your never-realised lifelong dreams? Have you given up? Or are you still on the journey? And if you know of any journalism career opportunities for 100 year old women (in Australia), let me know!

    1. valentine*

      Grandma can freelance, perhaps starting with a piece on the aftermath of the 1918 pandemic and/or journalism in the ’40s versus now.

    2. Aphrodite*

      Your grandmother would probably make a fabulous weekly columnist for the local paper even if she had to dictate it and edit it with someone else to physically help her. Maybe call it: “The View From Here”? She’d probably provide a unique perspective on life.Ya think the Sydney morning Herald might be interested?

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        Happy birthday to her!
        Help her create a blog?
        And consider recording stories for storycorps.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Happy birthday to your grandmother! How fortunate for you to have her in your life! I used to love hearing my grandmother talk about her life. She lived to 99 and change. Some of her stories were just amazing. Have you considered interviewing her and recording her responses? My cousins and I did this, but wish we had started sooner.

    4. PhyllisB*

      If you think she would be still be interested in writing, ask her to write her memoirs in short essays. I have been reading a delightful series of books by Effie Leland Wilder. They are a fictitious take on life at a retirement home. She published her first book at the age of 85!!
      My 89 year old mother has been recording an oral history. I found a book that she can write memories in that prompts her to remember different things in her life. She’s having a wonderful time doing it.

    5. StudentA*

      Happy birthday to your amazing grandma! Definitely record her oral history. It could turn into a book! I love all the other ideas you got here. I’m sure she had tons of cool stories to share.

    6. Parenthetically*

      Happy birthday to your grandmother!

      My grandmother wrote articles for our local paper until the week she died — in fact several were published after she died because she always wrote several in advance. I’d love to hear more from a centenarian and I’m sure there’s a paper out there that would jump at the chance. I do know someone in print media in Australia if she’s at all serious.

  11. Amalieee*

    Has anyone here ever volunteered for or gotten letters from letters against depression?

    1. Esme*

      Yep! I signed up to receive letters during a really bleak period for my mental health (things are a lot better now) and had quite a few. They would still be writing to me now if I hadn’t asked to be taken off the list (because it had been a while and I felt others needed it more / wasn’t finding it helpful at that point).

      If you’re thinking of signing up to receive them, one thing I would have done in hindsight is be clear that I was not up to replying – I thought it would be one-way but some of the letters seemed to want a reply which hugely stressed me out as I wasn’t well enough and didn’t even understand how to reply. I also had one letter I couldn’t read as it was written in very light ink on yellow paper!

      Mostly they were brilliant though and I would absolutely recommend it if you think it would help.

      If you are thinking of volunteering then I will say the person running it seemed completely lovely and it is an amazing support that makes a difference.

      1. Amalieee*

        I was thinking of volunteering but then when I read some of the profiles I got majorly stressed/sad. Lots of descriptions of mental illness and a few descriptions of abusive situations. I had signed up to receive letters somewhat recently and found it helpful which is why i thought now that things are a bit better maybe I would volunteer. I was taken by surprise at how depressing the profiles were but that could just show that I’m not yet up for volunteering. Obviously I understand that this is for people who have depression, as do i, when i had written my profile i didnt know what to write so I had just written my age, location, major in college, and the fact that I was recently (at the time of writing the profile) in the hospital for a week for depression.

        I never thought that some people would hope for replies. I haven’t ran across that yet, but I think if anyone wanted a reply I would just send them a postcard in order to fulfill that and thank them without having to keep in touch more (since I wouldn’t have a return address on a postcard)

        1. Esme*

          I really couldn’t work out how to reply as I didn’t know where to send them and anyway I just wasn’t up to it.

          I think volunteering has to be something that’s right for you – it’s lovely to consider it, but ok if you can’t!

          1. Amalieee*

            Yeah i think I might be not up for it yet. Maybe in the future though! Thanks for the response, much appreciated!

    2. Treebeardette*

      Thanks for asking about this! I never heard of them but I’ve been trying to figure out how to volunteer to help people with depression. I’m looking into this. :)

  12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Food goodies! What have you experimented with lately?

    I went to make a key lime pie the other night, only to notice that the key lime juice had a use-by date on it of April 2019. It’s acid-y enough that it was PROBABLY still okay, but I couldn’t remember the normal smell of the juice to decide whether it was passing a sniff test or not, so I decided to err on the side of caution and dump it. I already had the rest of the pie mixed up, so I swapped in plain old lemon juice instead. Quite tasty, as it turns out – it’s basically a refrigerator cheesecake with a nice summery lemon zing to it, and I had sprinkled a handful of blueberries on it, so it’s a very nice summery pie. Having some for breakfast. Cream-cheese-based pie on a graham cracker crust is… basically like a bagel, right? :)

    Recipe: Blend (like, I just use my literal blender) a VERY WELL SOFTENED brick of cream cheese, a can of sweetened condensed milk, half a cup of (key lime or lemon) juice, and three egg yolks until smooth. (If the cream cheese is even a little cold, no matter how long you blend it, you will never get all the lumps and bumps out.) Pour into a graham cracker crust, (this is where I sprinkled on the blueberries), bake at 350 for about ten minutes, then chill for a couple hours til firm.

    I feel like I’ve tried this in the past with other juices, orange and pineapple, with no success – maybe not enough acid content in those juices to food-science properly? But I might just be making that part up. Also, LIME juice and KEY LIME juice are not the same thing and not interchangeable. :)

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I 100% agree with your choice if it was in the fridge open for an extra 15 months… I personally would have baked with it if unopened, because visible clumping is the only thing I’ve had go wrong with sealed lemon juice.
      My husband has been going in for pizza making in a big way, his bread dough has gotten really good, the air fryer makes a great pizza oven, and he just bought a set of stainless steel pizza pans that can go in the dishwasher. Barbecue sauce, leftover cut up beef, onion, broccoli, cheddar cheese. Surprisingly fabulous!

      1. Jenny*

        I trick my toddler into eating broccoli by putting it on pizza. I have a pizza stone and it works great.

    2. foolofgrace*

      I’m trying a coconut cream pie today. I have some packages of sweetened coconut that I bought by accident (thought they were unsweetened) and I have to use them up. Luckily the crust is just made from mainly vanilla wafers, not a regular pie crust (which I am challenged by).

    3. Ali G*

      Not a true experiment since we’ve done it before, but it’s been years: we are making blue cheese stuffed burgers for dinner tonight and I am so weirdly excited. I serve it with sauteed mushrooms on top. Yum!

    4. RagingADHD*

      FYI, what you made was called a “lemon icebox pie” when I was growing up. Very popular and more common in the sort of cafeteria/meat & three diner we went to than key lime, which didn’t come into vogue locally until I was a tween or teen.

    5. Nacho*

      I tried making banana infused rum. Didn’t account for how absorbent bananas are, and ended up with rum infused bananas instead. They weren’t very good.

      Going to try buying some small jars to test a few more smaller recipes, like 2 ounces of whiskey with some red pepper flakes, or 2 ounces or rum and a pair of cherries. Just enough to taste the infusion, without wasting $10 of alcohol if I screw up again.

      1. Lena Carabina*

        I tried making banana infused rum. Didn’t account for how absorbent bananas are, and ended up with rum infused bananas instead. They weren’t very good.

        This has made me giggle so much (sorry!)

    6. ThePear8*

      I made a key lime pie last weekend too! I tried out a new recipe from a pie cookbook I got, it also uses Tequila and Triple sec so it’s kind of like a margarita pie haha.
      I also made a banana cream pie, that one’s become a family favorite

    7. Chaordic One*

      I’ve been experimenting with different meringue pies. Instead of the traditional lemon meringue, I’ve recently tried lime meringue, orange meringue and a lemon-lime meringue. The orange was a bit of a disappointment to me. It tasted good, but the orange filling took on an odd milky looking color that didn’t look attractive or appetizing. I’m planning on trying a strawberry meringue next.

    8. Liane*

      Had a Georgia peach cobbler recipe from 12 Tomatoes site bookmarked for a year! I finally made one last week! It was amazing. Will make another today before it gets too hot to have oven on.

  13. Morning reader*

    I am getting a CSA delivered and it’s expanding my vegetable repertoire.

    So many things call for lime or lemon. I used lemon juice instead of lime to make watermelon popsicles yesterday. Way too much leftover melon and I had some mint in the csa this week, haven’t tasted them yet but I hope it’s ok. Going to attempt my first mojitos tonight (getting limes in my grocery pickup for that.) I’m hoping lemon and lime generally function similarly in cooking.

    Yesterday I sautéed beet and radish leaves with garlic and lemon. Turned out pretty good! A week ago I didn’t know those leaves were edible.

    One of my first deliveries had collard greens so I checked some recipes and attempted a version. No ham or bacon so I used leftover grease from a pork chop. Didn’t have any lemon juice so I poured in some lime lacroix. It turned out to be… edible, when I sprinkled some sugar on it. (A generous description, I would not have served them to anyone else.) For the future, I think I’ll skip collard greens unless they are prepared by someone’s expert southern grandmother.

    My other adventures have involved figuring out what to do with kale, and trying to stuff all this produce into my small fridge. (Hence cooking up the leaves quickly since they take up so much room.) next up, zucchini and squash.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Alton Brown has a recipe for southern greens in an pressure cooker/instant pot. It uses a little oil, vinegar (whatever you have on hand, stores easier than lemons/limes), and red pepper flakes – I always do my “weird” greens this way like turnip tops. Think there is probably a stove variation.

    2. legalchef*

      Make kale pesto!!! That’s what I did with the ton of kale we would get from our CSA (I’d also use some carrot greens, if we had those too). No real recipe, though there are tons online, but here’s roughly what I did: blend kale (or other greens), Basil (and/or other herbs – some mint would be good too), Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, a little garlic, olive oil, and you can also put in some toasted nuts (I’ve used roasted chickpeas bc of a nut allergy, but you can also just leave them out). Add a little water until it’s the consistency you like.

      I usually make a ton and then portion it out to freeze it in the snack size baggies, so I have it for a quick dinner after work.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It stands for community supported agriculture. Basically it’s ordering ahead from a local farm. You order boxes by size and receive a selection of what’s freshest on your scheduled pickup day.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I use lemons and limes pretty interchangeably – I can get green lemons and limes easily in the store (but it’s often hard to tell which is which by looking at them), but the fully ripe lemons aren’t that common, so I use what I have.

      For collard greens – a good default for sturdy leafy greens in general is to slice them, and saute with garlic and a pinch of salt. I’ll happily eat pretty much any leafy green that way. I also like them in a simple soup – slice, toss handfuls in a basic chicken or mushroom broth, and maybe poach an egg in it right at the end.

    4. Morning reader*

      This was supposed to be a reply to Red Reader’s food question. Nesting fail, oops! Question about pesto tho… I think I’ve had it and did not care for it. But is “pesto” a generic term that varies depending on ingredients? Because maybe I would like it if it wasn’t at all like what I remember. And Legalchef, you mention having it as a snack or meal. I thought it was a condiment or flavoring; can you just eat pesto by itself?

      I am learning to throw some kale in with whatever I’m cooking.

      Question about leaves on root vegetables as I hadn’t previously considered eating them. Are there any leaves that aren’t edible? So far I’ve tried beet, radish, and onion. Had not thought of carrot greens.

      1. Ali G*

        Yes pesto is more of a method than a single recipe. It typically herbs (basil), hard cheese (parm), olive oil and pine nuts. I’ve made pesto with roasted broccoli, kale, other herbs, pretty much anything green. I love pine nuts, but you can use, cashews, or other nuts. Some people like walnuts. Anyway have fun!
        For kale, I like to saute a bunch and keep it on hand to toss into salads. Also I use it like spinach and throw it into anything – sauces, sauteed beef for tacos, just add a little green where ever!

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Suggestion for greens: I have a recipe I occasionally do that’s sort of a … chickpea chili, maybe? (It actually came out of a Pathfinder book, overlap with the gaming thread, haha.) It’s mostly combining cans, which makes it super easy — big can of stewed/diced tomatoes, can of rinsed chickpeas, big scoop of minced garlic, and a squeeze of lemon juice, seasoned with cumin and paprika (recipe said 1 tsp of each, but that was not enough, so I just wing it mostly), combined in a crockpot for a couple hours, then about a half hour before serving, cram a few handfuls of greens in there with it. The original recipe called for kale, I’ve also used spinach, but I think most dark leafy greens would do well with it. (I’ve also added shrimp and/or sausage, though it’s vegan as-is.) Serve over brown rice (or white rice, or whatever carbs float your boat) – nom!

      3. legalchef*

        You eat it as a sauce of condiment. So you can use it on pasta, on pizza, crostini, etc.

    5. SpellingBee*

      I use a Thomas Keller method for collard greens that is dead easy and really delicious, it goes like this:

      Wash and dry your collard greens, remove and discard stems and chop leaves into largish pieces (I do around 2” squares). In a large heavy pot, fry up a couple of pieces of bacon to render the fat, then remove the bacon. You can crumble it into the greens when they’re done or just eat as a chef’s snack. Add about a tablespoon of butter to the pan, then add the greens. Turn the greens in the fat until they’re nicely coated and have wilted down a bit, then cover and put into a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. They’ll cook down massively, so be sure to start out with as much as you can fit into your pot. Finish with the crumbled bacon if using, and a splash of white wine vinegar to brighten. Devour wildly.

      1. Morning reader*

        If you are not someone’s expert grandmother, you are doing a good imitation! This is similar to other recipes I found, it seems that bacon or ham hocks are crucial. Bacon is not a staple in my house, I think I last had some maybe 5 years ago. I can see it might be worth it to keep some in the freezer in case I work up my courage to try this again.

        Cooking question: why is it when you have something that was not expensive that you want to try, the recommended recipes call for ingredients that are several times the cost of the thing you are cooking? I could spend $8 on the spice to season my $2 rice. (This might be ok as I learn to cook more and I’ll use that spice again.) most of my spices just sit there for years until I move and toss out the expired ones.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yeah, I think with spices the key is to just find more recipes to use them! Which I think makes cooking less intimidating, because you can now google “ingredient I have lots of” + “spice I need to use more” and have a shorter list of recipes to peruse.

          (Also, don’t throw out expired spices! With very very few exceptions, they simply don’t go bad, they just lose a little flavor over the years. Don’t put your hard-earned money in the trash because some machine printed. a “best-by” date on a tin in a factory somewhere!)

        2. Altair*

          Now that I live with people who don’t eat pork, these are the substitutions I have found for my greens:

          1) chicken fat. Render the fat and skin trimmed from pieces of chicken and use it in place of bacon fat

          2) olive oil, garlic, and a couple drops of liquid smoke. A different but still tasty flavor profile.

          3) duck fat, with or without a few drops of liquid smoke. this is relatively expensive, but both cured duck and little tubs of duck fat can be found in large suprmarkets.

          The key is replicating savoriness and a little smokiness.

          Also, why do ingredients cost so much? Alas. I have found places on Etsy, etc, which sell very small amounts of spices and even spice samplers so you can get enough of a spice to try a dish without having to spend $8 on a full jar of something you end up never using. Or get a foodie friend to mail you a teaspoon each of their ten favorite spices!

          1. Parenthetically*

            Oh gosh I love that last idea!! I would do that in a second — I have a massive spice cupboard with probably 30 or 40 spices in regular rotation and I love the idea of sending a sampler and some recipe ideas to a cooking novice friend!

      2. Pensive Athena*

        Add a drop or two, literally, of Liquid Smoke when cooking collards. Tastes great!

    6. The Time Being*

      Oh, neat! My roommate and I did a CSA a few years back. It was difficult for us for logistical reasons, but a really great introduction to vegetables we’d never encountered before.

    7. Senor Montoya*

      Mmm, I wouldn’t put lemon or lime with collards! Certainly wouldn’t put any acid in while they’re cooking. Put out a bottle of white wine vinegar on the table, or vinegar that’s had some spicy chiles marinating in it for a couple of weeks. Or a nice vinegary hot sauce.

      You have to really cook them— they need to be soft. They are not like kale or such greens. Undercooked collards are not nice.

      My husband (an actual southerner, I’ve only lived in the south for 25 years so…) swears by Mama Dip’s recipe. Mama Dip is Mildred Council, chef and owner of Mama Dip’s in Chaoel Hill NC. Country cooking, she has a good cookbooks.

    8. Parenthetically*

      I’ve had great luck with immediately processing the kale — wash, de-stem, chop, lightly steam, squeeze out excess water — and freezing it for later use. Much better option than just being forever figuring out what the hell I’m going to do with three bunches of it.

      Gourmet Farmer has a recipe for greens pie that is absolutely heavenly and uses a TON of greens. I use onion and garlic instead of leek and always more feta than it calls for.

    9. Syls*

      I’ve been making falafel! I live alone so I mix up a batch and freeze them since I usually only cook/eat 5-6 at a time. I’ve also frozen some yogurt sauce in small portions to go with.
      Since I won’t have anyone to take care of me if I get sick, keeping a lot of easy meals in my freezer has helped to ease my anxiety levels.

    10. Tris Prior*

      I’ve been absolutely drowning in collards – and I don’t like cooked greens. So slimy! And I’m vegetarian so I can’t dress them up with bacon. I did put some in a fruit smoothie today and it was surprisingly good, so I think that’s how I’m going to eat up the rest of these – they’re so huge! Like fans!

      I made kale chips with my kale and they came out great. Tear in pieces, toss with some olive oil (just enough to coat, you don’t want them sodden) and seasoning of choice, I used garlic powder. Bake at 350 until crispy, which took a little over 10 minutes for mine.

    11. Dancing Otter*

      Re inflatable balance balls (based on my daughter’s experience):
      A) You can adjust how hard it is by how much you inflate the ball, to suit yourself. It should come with a pump, or use a bicycle pump. Like balloons, there will be gradual air loss over time.
      B) Cat claws can puncture the ball, causing deflation. A bicycle tire patching kit might work, but we just replaced the ball.

  14. nep*

    Please tell me about your experiences with standing desks, balance board (for standing at desk), balance ball chairs…I sit too much during the day. I’m going to create a new set-up here and I’d like to hear of people’s experiences with that kind of thing.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The question applies to video gamers too oh, so I think it is valid.
        One thing we love is the exercise bike with a built in laptop table. When we had the old house we had a semi recumbent exercise bike setup to push under a pub height table. You had to hold the keyboard in your lap, and mouse was hard except for my very tall husband. The semirecumbent now stays in the living room near the TV. I use it when knitting!
        I have also used a sit-stand desk, and the first lesson I learned the hard way was to be careful about footwear. If your feet would hurt after touring a museum or going for a run or a hike, don’t stand in them all day. I bought shoes marketed to nurses and teachers. (Merrell & Dansko)
        The yoga exercise balls, make sure you get the right size for your height. I don’t like the ones that sit up on Wheels, and you don’t throw out your chair because all that balancing really does Tire your muscles. When you start you’ll need to work up to it a half hour at a time. And if you get a head cold or ear infection, use the chair because those throw your balance off.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      One way you can (maybe) experiment with a standing desk before investing a bunch of money is bed risers. Many moons ago, I had a desk that I loved and major hip pain, and I wanted to try standing to see if it helped the hip pain. (It did.) But I didn’t want to replace my whole desk, so I got a couple sets of 8″ bed risers and put one under each foot. Turned out that was the perfect height for me and it worked great — I left my desk on the bed risers for like four years, and only stopped doing that when I moved cross-country and didn’t take the desk with me. It won’t let you raise and lower, obviously, but I wanted to stand consistently, and I got an inexpensive tall chair for situations when I really did want to sit at the desk for a while.

      After I’d moved, I switched to another always-standing desk that I assembled out of Ikea Expedit shelves (which they have since replaced with the Kallax) for another three or so years. I did have a regular sitting non-adjustable desk for a few years – currently, I have a desk I got on Amazon that raises and lowers electronically, but I rarely raise it. (I should do more often, but I got out of the habit of standing during the three years it wasn’t an option and it’s been hard to get back into. )

    2. YrLocalLibrarian*

      I have a balance ball chair that’s helped tremendously with sciatic pain! I’ve tried a couple adjustable desks, and found the manual ones too large or too awkward to use practically. At home I’ve been using a stack of books and yoga blocks to adjust may laptop height.

      1. Firefly*

        I love my balance-ball chair! My previous manager had one, and I loved it so much when she was away and I was filling in for her in her office, that I bought one for myself. I found I had to experiment with the fullness of the ball to get comfortable. It was one of the reasons I made the trip into my office to bring home to work.

    3. KeinName*

      I‘ve built a standing desk from an IKEA footrest placed on top of my actual desk and a leftover piece of panelling/wooden board thing. And duct tape. Used it until it fell apart a couple months later :-) At first I was happy because no more coccyx pain, but standing can be quite strenous as well, I kept shifting my weight between my feet. It also seems hard to find out which height it should be. I‘ve switched to walking an hour after work, that helps as well.

    4. Nervous Nellie*

      Hi nep! Happy Weekend!

      If you are not a chronic pain sufferer, disregard my thoughts. :) That said, even if you are in great health, maybe these things would be good to know? Your call.

      My input is – be sure you are wearing supportive shoes. Even drugstore shoe inserts might help. Standing for long periods can become painful throughout your body if your feet aren’t planted nice and evenly. And if you have back pain, a light back/chest brace (like what the Home Depot staff wear) can prevent the inevitable slumping or sagging. Also, raising your monitor on the standing desk to align exactly with your field of vision will keep your head level and reduce any neck pain.

      As for balance ball chairs, I saw a colleague roll off one of those and hurt her back quite badly. They scare me. Kudos to you for braving the idea!

    5. Kathenus*

      For a variety of reasons these didn’t work for me, but I got an under desk elliptical (can be used work-related below a desk or home-related at a couch), and I’ve found it a great way to burn off some energy and calories during otherwise sedate activities.

    6. Doctor is In*

      I have one and love it. Spent several hundred bucks to get a nice one. I don’t even have a chair any more. I have a nice exercise bike I can sit on and use at the desk at times, can’t really use the computer while on the bike but I can read things in the screen and bicycle.

    7. Hi there*

      I’ve been standing at our bar during the stay at home time. Based on recommendations here I got a TopoMini mat to stand on. It has a varied surface so you have to move, which I like. If we ever go back to the office I may use the TopoMini instead of the mat I have there. It is thick and cushy enough I don’t have to wear shoes, and it comes in a variety of colors. Mine is a nice blue purple.

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve used multiple standing-sitting desks, and I like it. You can sit when you want to sit and stand when you want to stand. You can also adjust the settings to different heights. At workplaces, I’ve had the hydraulics-powered ones, but at home, I have a manual adjusting one, and that’s fine (also a lot cheaper).

    9. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      My hip problems were coming back once I shifted fully to WFH, however since I don’t have the room/money for a full on standing desk I went and found something low profile that could be stuck on my existing desk. I went for a Posturite Oploft – essentially its a large platform that you can adjust at a different height quickly. Its been a game changer for me – when I start to get achy mid afternoon, and tired, I just pop that thing up during calls and it perks me right up. I also use it if I am doing heavy concentration work like powerpoint so I remember to move. Some other brands include YoYo desk, if you are looking for other options.

      I also have a disk thing that goes on my office chair that approximates a balance ball, but without having a ball rolling all over the house. Got it on Amazon, there are a lot of different ones, but you want a high quality one that has a pump you can inflate. That seems to help keep everything moving in my spine as well.

      1. nep*

        Wow that Posturite Oploft sit-stand platform looks great–just watched the video.

  15. nep*

    COVID-related. Do you meet up with friends for a walk?
    I’ve invited friends who participate in my online workouts to walk a nearby nature trail. I’m not in a state that’s in the middle of a huge spike, but we are seeing new cases every day. How much of that is increased testing? I’m not sure.
    We would of course stay well apart from each other, and have masks handy. Even as I write this and the more I think about it, the more I think it’s taking unnecessary risk.
    I don’t go on trails alone–fear of being in isolated space like that. I don’t know whether that’s in the range of a normal concern or whether it stems from being mugged once.

    1. Washi*

      I do. I wasn’t for a while, but in the past month or so, I’ve started to move beyond “temporary crisis” thinking to “what will the next 12-18 months look like” since this is not going away any time soon.

      Right now, everyone I see is also isolating and working from home, so from what I have read, we’re low risk people doing a lower risk activity. We actually don’t go on trails because I’ve found that they tend to be more crowded and it’s hard to stay away from each other – quiet suburban neighborhoods have worked better because we can walk in the street.

      Once people have to start going back to work, I think it will be a harder decision though.

      1. hermit crab*

        Same here – I live right next to a low-traffic suburban neighborhood with a lot of small side streets, so I just walk in the road most of the time. Yesterday I went for a dog walk with a neighbor (both of us humans wearing masks) and then we sat outside for a while at a reasonable distance. Nothing is without risk, of course, but it made us all happy and it’s the kind of risk I’m willing to take. I agree that I would feel differently if I knew my neighbor wasn’t staying home and taking similar precautions. (Also, my main concern is about me accidentally infecting other people; there are always exceptions, obviously, but I’m a healthy youngish white lady with good health insurance, paid sick leave, and no caregiving responsibilities so odds are I’ll be fine.)

      2. Natalie*

        Cemeteries are a nice option if you live near a large one – they’re don’t tend to be super busy and the roads are wide enough that it’s easy to distance from your friend.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      I live in a place with very low cases, and occasionally I meet up with friends for walks. We stay a normal distance from each other, but my area has only mandated masks indoors. The messaging from our public health team (we’re in Canada) has consistently been that staying outdoors with good air flow is a lower-risk activity compared to, say, meeting with friends for coffee indoors, or going to a gym.

      As far as I can determine, it’s the safest way to socialize in-person. It is not sustainable for me to go without seeing other people (as I currently am working from home and my husband is deployed overseas), it’s a fairly low-risk activity, and it’s in accordance with our public health unit’s guidelines. So off I go with friends, in addition to hiking and walking alone.

    3. Morning reader*

      Yes, but based on my understanding of outdoor risk, I no longer worry much about outdoor activities. I keep a mask while walking but only put it over my face when someone approaches. With friends walking single file or abreast at a reasonable distance (if the path is wide or we can walk down the middle of a street), I don’t keep the mask on constantly. (Rules in my area require maskwearing indoors.)
      I do this only with friends doing a similar level of Covid protection, i.e. routine social distancing, masking up for occasional and quick store visits, etc. I don’t think I would with friends who have to work in unmasked environments, or who live with multiple people. So you could ask before inviting people what their practices are and keep it to one or two people at your same level.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      I will meet up with friends for a walk, US South so yes, much COVID, though an urban / not too badly hit county. BUT: we stay 6′ apart and we wear masks.

    5. LGC*

      So, you’re not in a state that’s in the middle of a huge spike, which is good…but test numbers can be noisy (because of reporting delays) and people aren’t that statistically savvy. There’s a long tail with COVID cases – countries that have controlled the pandemic are still reporting new cases (although at far lower rates than in the US).

      What you really want to watch for, I’ve heard, is the 7-day average and test positivity rates. (Basically, how many cases on average were announced each of the past 7 days and what percent of tests are positive – the lower the better in both cases.) In my state, it’s been roughly 300 cases per day (or – roughly 3.3 cases per 100,000 residents) and 2.2% of tests are positive, meaning things seem to be under control here. For the time being, anyway.

      As for what you should do? I’m torn. Hiking seems to be one of the safest activities you can do, but if you’re feeling nervous about it…would you enjoy it? The other thing is – you’re the one that organized the event, which kind of makes it harder for me to say that you should cancel on your friends. Basically, it’s an unnecessary risk, but it’s also a pretty low risk.

      1. Observer*

        I think it’s hard to categorically say that activities such as this are an “necessary” risk. Because to say that is to ignore all of the other risks that NOT doing stuff like this entails. Most humans NEED exercise, they (even introverts) NEED in person human interaction, and fresh air / nature – even a few trees – are hugely helpful in combating the effects of stress – and stress is something that increases the risks of covid.

    6. Knots*

      I do. I’m in a not-terrible-but-not-fully-safe part of the US. Like others have said, over the past month or so I’ve moved from thinking of this as a short term emergency to long-term situation. I can’t see only my partner f2f for the next year. I really, really can’t.

      We walk like we did in pre-Covid times. No masks, but no hugs either. I also limit it to people whom I trust to be risk averse. Nothing’s 100% safe, but this activity has been hugely helpful for my mental health.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        “I also limit it to people whom I trust to be risk averse.”

        This is key for me.

        A friend of mine came over to visit once in the last four months and we sat out on the patio for a couple hours. Since then, she’s decided to do some dating, though it was one guy she saw maybe four times. She wanted to go to breakfast on the 4th of July now that indoor dining is open again (face masks and social distancing required). I wasn’t super comfortable with dining in yet, but wanted to see her and just do something other than physical therapy and grocery shopping. It turned out the place we wanted to go to was closed that day so we postponed. I was going to ask if she wanted to go the following day, but forgot. I’m now very glad I didn’t ask, because I found out she went to a party on the 4th of July that had dozens of people (mostly strangers), no face masks, lots of drinking, etc. Though I’ve always known her to be somewhat loosey-goosey about a lot of things in her life, this is one of those things I’m not willing to overlook. I no longer feel safe around her.

    7. Ali*

      I do meet up with friends for walks. I am one of the more cautious people I know, but like Morning reader, I am no longer so worried about outdoor activities. I think if you stay reasonably well apart, hiking with a friend is an OK thing to do.

    8. Claire (Scotland)*

      Yes, I do. I’m in Scotland though, and we are seeing very few new cases and have just moved into Phase 3 of our route out of lockdown. I’ve been meeting up with one friend once a week for a socially distanced walk, since we were allowed to start doing that a few weeks ago. We don’t wear masks (here they are required in shops and on public transport, but not outdoors), but make sure to stay 2 metres apart at all times. I wouldn’t currently want to walk with a bigger group, as staying distanced would become harder, but with one friend I feel pretty safe.

    9. Oxford Comma*

      I have been going walking with a friend once a week. Due to our schedules, we’re stuck with walking through neighborhoods, but we do try to keep 6 feet apart. We both wear masks. It’s normally fine, but brutal if it’s really hot.

      My reading suggests this is a lower risk activity than most.

    10. Dr. Anonymous*

      What I’ve done is meet up with a friend for a walk, and we wore masks and stayed far apart on the trail and talked on cell phones as we walked so we didn’t have to shout. So we could share the experience be not be too close.

    11. MissGirl*

      I do all the time. We meet at the trailhead and don’t drive together. It’s how we’re all hanging out now.

    12. Reba*

      I actually think it depends a bit on the trail (just to introduce another variable here!).

      If it is in a place with fairly wide trailbeds, and/or not too overgrown so that you can easily hop off the trail if people are passing, AND if it’s in an uncrowded or light traffic park, I would totally do this.

      The trail I did yesterday was not really possible to distance on, and we were bashing into the undergrowth to give room to people heading the other way on the track.

      We masked up when other people were around.

    13. RagingADHD*

      I have not, because I like my alone time. But I would be okay with it safety wise, as long as the friend was one who can keep personal space.

      We don’t have trails or sidewalks in the neighborhood, so walkers/joggers go in the street. There’s no traffic in off hours, so there’s plenty of room to spread out.

    14. I Would*

      If I had a walking friend, I would definitely go together to a very lightly populated park. I would insist on both wearing masks and trying to stay 4-6 feet apart. I’d have to take it easy because of the mask. I live in a county that is experiencing about 40+ Covid deaths EVERY DAY but would feel comfortable doing what I’ve described.

    15. ...*

      Yes. I meet friends at the park or on their lawns/driveways to hangout with space between us. My state is not ‘spiking’ but there is a steady stream of cases testing positive. Frankly, I can’t imagine going another year without even seeing a friend.

    16. WoodswomanWrites*

      Yes, I recently started socially distanced hikes with a friend following protocol you and other mention. We stay at least six feet apart and we each have a mask for when we encounter someone else. Like you, I was really nervous the first time but now that I’ve done it, I can’t believe what a difference it’s made in my overall well-being to spend time with friends after being isolated living alone.

      I live in a high COVID area but I don’t think that matters because the protocols are the same everywhere–driving to the trailhead in separate cars, distancing, and masks are what keep me safe. I choose areas to walk that are wide paths where it’s easy to pass other people at a distance, and when that happens I put on the mask that’s hanging around my neck the rest of the time. Alternatively, if the path is more narrow, I pick trails that are less busy so I won’t have to pass a lot of people at short range.

      COVID isn’t going away anytime soon. I suggest you start with someone you feel really comfortable with whom you trust, and just a short outing. Where I live, others we’ve encountered on the trail are great about respecting distance. Although I was nervous the first time, it feels fine now. It’s worked out really well.

      1. nep*

        Thanks. And thanks to all for the input and thoughts.
        I don’t reckon it’s any more risky than shopping. And in the case of the trail walk, I’m not touching a bunch of things others have touched, and I’m not getting close to people. Will have mask handy in case.

    17. Old and Don’t Care*

      Yes, or a run. My state’s public health messaging from the beginning has been to encourage outdoor activities and our parks, trails, etc. were never closed, (The restrooms were closed, but that’s another story.). I haven’t seen anything credible that leads me to believe this is a risky activity.

    18. Dancing Otter*

      This is all observational, because I need my inhaler just crossing the parking lot in a mask in summer heat and humidity. I’m also one of those people who put on a mask to take out the trash.
      I’ve been seeing a lot of bicyclists as well as walkers lately. The walkers, well, better than half are wearing masks, but the sidewalks aren’t wide enough to stay six feet apart. Don’t know what they do on the side streets; if I’m driving there, they aren’t likely to be walking in the middle of the street, are they?
      Our bicycle lanes aren’t really wide enough for anything except riding single file, which pretty much guarantees six foot distance. The cyclists do spread out across the road when traffic permits, but even then they can’t get very close. I think it’s safer, personally, but it must cut down on conversation.

      1. allathian*

        I don’t think passing someone quickly in the street is risky, unless they yell, cough or sneeze right at you. Even if they do, the risk is unlikely to be high. In contact tracing, they only attempt to trace people you’ve been in close proximity with for 10 or 15 minutes at a mininum. A few seconds outdoors is unlikely to be a serious threat.

  16. Anon for this*

    I’m interested in moving to Raleigh. I would like a safe area with good schools, walkable, near Greenways. I’ve been looking at Cary. Any experiences?

    1. Marcy*

      Have lived in Cary since 1998. It is a nice town, although it has grown a lot since we moved here.

      I don’t know where you’re coming from, but the school situation is a bit unusual. Wake County is one big school district – so if the snow is bad in Wake Forest, school is cancelled in Cary too.

      Also figuring out exactly where your kids will go to school is challenging. There are magnet schools and year round schools decided by lottery. Also you can be “overflowed “ to a different school if your “base “ school is full. My kids are grown, so I can’t speak to the current situation, but I would check it out carefully.

      The area in general is nice. Couple hours to the beach, 3-4 hours to the mountains. Mostly nice people.

      If you have any questions, I will be happy to answer.

    2. blackcat*

      What do you mean by “walkable”?

      I’ve mostly lived in the Northeast as an adult and my standard for walkable is pretty high. When I lived in Raleigh, we lived near the Cameron village area. This was many moons ago, but we could walk to the grocery store, some restaurants, etc. It met my bar for walkable (we were a 1 car family), and I really liked it there. If “walkable” to you means a good area to go for walks and not being able to pick up your prescriptions without a car, that’s a lot easier.

      Schools are a bit complex, since you’re not guaranteed to end up at your neighborhood school and the district is so massive. I am also aware that funding for schools in NC has gone down a fair bit since I lived there, and everyone I knew who was a teacher in NC either left the field or moved out of state because of the low pay. That is… not great for the schools overall. There’s been a significant decline in school quality overall across the state.

      One thing I did not like about the area is that it’s so hot in the summer, it’s really hard to do outdoor activities unless you drive up to the mountains. I live in New England now, and you can always put on more clothes when it’s super cold and still go outside. But you can’t keep taking off clothes when it’s hot!

      1. Marcy*

        I would agree with blackcat.

        The summer is hot and humid. YMMV depending on where you are coming from.

        There are lots of great biking and walking trails. Very little public transportation. Cary is mostly a car/suburb area.

        Also want to add there are lots of great charter schools here. But you have to get in via lottery, so for the really good ones, it’s like winning the Golden Ticket.

    3. foolofgrace*

      I second Cameron Village. There’s a big set of strip malls in Cary but I don’t remember the name but it’s too big to walk. Raleigh is not really set up for walking to stores. But if you’re looking for an exercise-type walk, Lake Lynn is popular. I would stay away from the eastern and southern sections of the city. Raleigh is not a cheap place to live. I lived there for about 20 years coming from Big Midwestern City (I’ve since moved back). I would set out for the beach at around 2 a.m. and get there in time to watch the sun rise. I miss the beach.

      1. blackcat*

        “Raleigh is not a cheap place to live.”

        YMMV. It was similar to Philly and New Haven. It’s much cheaper than the other cities I’ve lived in (Oakland and Boston). It just depends on where you’re coming from.

        And saying this makes me realized how many times I’ve moved….

      2. Anon too*

        You can walk to stores in my neighborhood, University Park. It’s about a 20 minute stroll from my house. There are a LOT of townhouses, condos, and apartments right around the Cameron Village shopping center, more under construction all the time. Similar in Oakwood, Oakdale, downtown neighborhoods.

        School system website: www DOT wcpss DOT net

        You should also read up on school assignments in the local paper, Raleigh News and Observer.

        My child attended our neighborhood schools: Fred Olds Elementary, Martin Middle, Broughton High. I walked them to elementary school then walked to work, reverse at end of day. (I’m nostalgic about that for sure!) Martin— they took the bus. Broughton — I drove them in the morning and then went to work (gave me a few minutes to see if not actually speak to my sleepy teen) and they walked home. We applied for Raleigh Charter HS, the charters and magnets are often hard to get into. We found Broughton to be a very fine HS. My child took AP courses and was in the IB program.

        1. blackcat*

          I lived *right* by the Broughton athletic fields. I cannot describe my relief when we moved. Every year in August and September, the marching band started practicing and they were SO BAD and SO LOUD.

          I love the area, I just hated band season…

      3. foolofgrace*

        I forgot to mention Morrisville, if you work in RTP. And people call Cary “Carolina Area Relocated Yankees”.

    4. Lyudie*

      Just a note (I don’t know where you are from, so you might not need this warning) the real estate market moves VERY fast. We sold our old house a few years ago, it went on the market Friday morning and we had two offers by Sunday morning. I would advise you to have your down payment etc. ready to go so that if you see something you want, you can jump on it.

    5. Also anon for this, but regular commentor*

      I have lived in the Triangle area (Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill) for 30+ years now.
      #1 advice: Base where you live on your work commute. Draw a circle from your work that is how long you’re willing to commute. We are growing fast, and infrastructure is not keeping up. We are on the exact same path as Atlanta, maybe 10 years behind them.

      I live in west Raleigh, near the State Fairgrounds, and send my child to a magnet school. All Wake Co schools are pretty good, but if you don’t like your local base school, the magnet programs are *great*. We can’t walk to much retail easily, but *tons* of greenways in walk / bike range. The I40/440 Beltline is a major local landmark. House costs jump 40% inside it. I540 is becoming a major landmark. They’ll probably get it turned into a full circle / beltway within a decade – I think the last 1/3 route is finalized.

      Here’s my scores 1 – 5 (w/5 being best) on local areas based on:
      S – Safety
      E – Education / schools
      W – walkable (retail)
      G – greenways
      C – house costs, w/1 = expensive and 5 = cheap

      Cary: S5, E5, W5, G5, C2
      Apex: S5, E5, W5, G5, C1 (*hot* right now due to 540 -> RTP highway)
      NW or W Raleigh (outside Beltline): S5, E4, W2, G5, C4
      S Raleigh (outside Beltline): S5, E4, W2, G4, C5 (gentrifying)
      N, NW, W Raleigh (inside Beltline to downtown): S5, E5, W2 – 4, G5, C2
      SE Raleigh (inside Beltline): S2, E3, W3, G3, C3 (gentrifying)
      NE Raleigh (inside / outside Beltline): S3, E4, W3, G3, C3 (lot of retail / industrial)
      Garner: S4, E4, W2, G2, C5 (Will improve with 540 completion)
      Knightdale: S5, E4, W4, G4, C4
      Wake Forest: S5, E5, W4, G3, C4

      I don’t know Holly Springs, Rolesville, SE Raleigh outside the beltline, or the big expanse of unincorporated county along Ten Ten Road well enough to rate them. 10-10’s basically rural, but 540 completion will bring a lot of development to that area.

      Durham varies widely, from posh Old South to Gentrifying Downtown to Struggling. If you’re working at Research Triangle Park (RTP), it’s worth looking at.

      If money’s no object and you WFH, Cary, Apex, downtown Raleigh. If you’re watching your budget and work at RTP, Raleigh outside the beltway. A *lot* of people move into rentals for a year while house hunting, to get more familiar with the area.

      Local greenway map: google “raleigh greenway map”, there should be a “cityofraleigh0drupal” pdf in the top 3 results.

      ps: racially, Cary’s still fairly homogenous – mostly white though with a visible Indian population, and it’s getting a little more Hispanic integration lately. Raleigh’s more diverse.

      Welcome to town!

    6. Anon too*

      Cary is ok but I personally find it to be too suburban.

      Are you looking for a house or an apartment or townhouse?

      Housing is pricy In much of Raleigh. We live in University Park, any of the neighborhoods in that area (near NC State, Meredith college, Cameron village shopping center) are very nice and neighbor-y and have a range of housing options, but not cheap. We couldn’t afford our house now; we bought in the late 1990s. If you like a more urban feel, neighborhoods around downtown are good for that and generally lively.

      You can live farther out in Raleigh, or in one of the suburbs farther out and, depending on the area, that can be more affordable. However, if you will be working inside the belt line, you’ll be commuting a lot. Most of my colleagues who had moved to the area in the last few years live at least a 20 to 40 minute commute away from NCSU (where we work). in order to be able to afford housing.

      I like living here very much, and it has become a MUCH more interesting place to live over the years!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I used to say that Cary was the Eagleton to Raleigh’s Pawnee. I worked in downtown Cary for a bit and that was ok, but I much preferred living in Raleigh. We were also close to State and had one car.

        Bonus: my commute was really easy, going the “wrong” way.

        1. blackcat*

          Yeah, Raleigh, particularly inside the beltline has a much more urban, city feel. Some of that’s diversity, too.
          It depends on what you want. I really liked living in Raleigh in what was arguably the most walkable area. I also had a coworker who loved her house in Wake Forest on 20 acres, and her mortgage was about my rent on my 3 bedroom townhouse.

    7. Unicornucopia*

      As far as walkablilty, you’re not going to get much of that in the Triangle unless you’re in a very central downtown area (so not really Cary). Schools kind of vary in wake county but are decent overall. Echoing the advice about commutes, make sure you know how long it’ll be at peak traffic times. The Triangle is known as one of the car-heaviest places in the country so there’s lots of great places nearby, just spread out.

    8. LadyRegister*

      If you’re looking at the Raleigh-Durham area, I highly recommend Chapel Hill. I’ve been here for 6 years and had also spent 4 years in Durham. (I would not say Chapel Hill if you need to actually commute to Raleigh but if you’re just looking at this part of NC in general). Where I live I can walk to grocery, a movie theater, a pharmacy, restaurants, a walking trail, a coffee shop, and downtown is just over a mile a way with nice sidewalks. It’s a college town so there’s always lots of energy and events. Top notch public school system. The comment above about low teacher pay is real but the property taxes in Chapel Hill are very high to ensure the schools are still resourced appropriately. Carolina forest for long runs. Great restaurant diversity (Indian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Italian, Sushi, Korean, Mexican and more).

  17. sswj*

    Anyone have a floor-mopping robot, like the iRobot Brava or similar? I’ve got two off-brand vaccuum-bots that I adore, and I kind of want a mopping one too now. A couple of questions though –
    1- Do they do a reasonable job?
    2- How are they on laminate floors? Too much water?
    3- How do they handle things like throw rugs? And are they ok with cluttered spaces (as in smallish space but lots of chair legs etc)?

    I was thinking of the smaller Brava that is supposed to be good for smaller spaces like kitchens and bathrooms. My house isn’t huge and I could probably use it for other rooms if monitored, I think.

    Any input welcome!

    1. TechWorker*

      Following.. we just got kittens and our little robot vacuum cleaner doesn’t quite cut it when they get food everywhere. (They also sometimes trail poop and whilst we’re obviously cleaning up any that we spot I am a little worried that there’s probably non-visible poop trails around… need to get on that mopping!)

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        E careful with the roombw. I don’t know if you run ut at night or when your awake but I’ve heard of bad things, like roomba hitting dog book and smearing it all over the house, m.j and the same thing with cat puke/hair balls.

        1. TechWorker*

          We’ve been remarkably lucky to have no puke or hair balls so far, but tbh it’s so loud bumping into furniture that we only run it when we’re around anyway.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            My poor Eufy needs a certain light level to “see” dark furniture… And I have photophobia. Lots of furniture smashing.

      2. Katefish*

        Hopefully not too late… Our WHITE tile kitchen floor is on a slight slope… Would it still work? (We rent, or else I would have already changed the color.) :)

    2. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I had the original iRobot floor cleaner. It was ok but you still needed to remove chairs in the kitchen. When it died, I bought a good steam mop and prefer using that.

  18. Cat question!*

    Possible TMI for a cat problem but I’m hoping for suggestions since we have so many cat people!

    I have an elderly cat with arthritis in her back legs. Lately she can get into the litter box but she can’t crouch down to urinate so it all goes over the side of the box.

    I’m not sure she’d enter an enclosed litter box so I’m trying to figure out how else to handle this. Right now I have newspapers around the box on her “favorite side” and replace those frequently.

    Any other ideas? She’s such a sweet cat and I feel sorry for her poor joints. (Which I give her something for,)

      1. Lyudie*

        Seconding puppy pads. Our elderly girl had arthritis and would only go into the box to poo, she peed on the bathroom floor. We papered the whole bathroom floor with puppy pads and it worked great. Note that you might need to tape them down (we used blue painters tape) because cats will scratch/try to cover and will move them around.

    1. sswj*

      Years ago I had a similar situation. I took a Rubbermaid type tote container and cut a cat-sized slot out of one side. I left a pretty generous lip on it to keep the litter in, and then made a step with a phone book covered with a towel, just in case of leaks/poor aim. Since phone books aren’t really a thing any more (and that feels SO weird saying that!) I’d imagine a brick or two would work as well. I left the lid off so it was still airy and not-trappy. It worked pretty well!

      As an aside, for cats who can jump but still have lousy aim I used the same sort of box and cut an 8″ diameter hole in the lid. They figured it out really quickly, and it kept the litter mess to a minimum.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I was going to suggest something similar. I had an elderly cat who was a “high sprayer” to begin with and who developed shaky legs such that he couldn’t jump into the deep-walled litter boxes. So I cut a doorway in one side of one of the litter boxes, all the way to the bottom, and added a pad in the front in case he opted to spray that way. He was good about aiming at the walls, as it turned out!

      2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        I use a plastic tote as well. Got it for a few bucks at the thrift store. It really helps keep the litter in, which was my issue, but would also be great for aiming issues.

        I don’t have a lid or an entry hole.

      3. NRG*

        I do exactly this for my cats. I have one male who has just peed straight backwards his whole life and a tall tote was the only way we found to contain it.

      4. cat socks*

        I was going to suggest the same thing. You can get a clear plastic tote with very high sides. It took a little effort to cut an opening in the front, but it helps if you soften the plastic with a hair dryer.

    2. CatCat*

      Puppy potty training pads around the litter box might be a better option than newspapers. Still would need to be changed, but they don’t leak through.

      We started using Kitty Poo Club a couple months ago, which is a subscription service. Monthly, They ship you a cardboard litter box that is treated to water proof it and they send you litter. The box has high sides (the entry point is high, but has a perforation if you need to lower it. They sell a “dome” attachment for the top, it’s not a lid, but rather ads a couple inches of curve to the top so the box is still open air, but it helps contain any messy kitty issues. (One of my kitties is an unrepentant litter flinger and the dome plus high sides have drastically cut down on litter mess we had previously.) So might be worth looking into to see if it helps cut down on your kitty’s pee mess. It’s affordable for us since it was the same as we were otherwise spending on litter alone. Since it’s temporary, if it doesn’t work for your issue, you can just cancel the subscription.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I had a very senior lady with arthritis in her back legs. What worked for her was a low-entry litter box, specifically the Lucky Champ Litter Pan (it’s available from Amazon), so that she didn’t have to climb into the box, and puppy pads around and underneath the box. She did well with the setup for the last few years of her life (she lived to be 22). I hope that something similar works for you as well.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Bigger box maybe? For a while we were using one of those big under-bed style rubbermaid totes for a cat box. The people who scoop it decided in the long run that they found it less convenient to scoop than a regular one and reverted, but we weren’t using it for any cats’ medical reasons, just because we had four cats in the house at the time and thought that maybe a larger box in one of the box locations might be a generically good idea.

    5. mreasy*

      When my elderly gal had a similar issue, I bought a plastic storage tub and carved a big U out of one side, with a relatively shorter rim than a standard box has. It was easier for her to get into and because of the high sides, didn’t scatter much litter despite the low entryway.

    6. No Tribble At All*

      Because one of mine likes to dig, we have a high-sided litter box so she doesn’t fling litter all over the floor. We have nature’s miracle brand high-sided litter box (link in next comment). It works pretty well– note that if you have too much clean litter in it, the sides aren’t as “high” from the point of view of the cat.

    7. Moocow Cat*

      Try a litter box with high sides and a low entrance. There are litter boxes especially designed for senior cats with limited mobility. Grandparent cats are the best.

    8. Sunset Maple*

      We had a high sprayer who could outwit even the cut-up Rubbermaid totes. We bought a triangular corner box with a lip, then glued linoleum remnants to the two sides to create an even higher edge. You have to secure the linoleum with C clamps during the curing process and lie it on its side, but once it’s fully dry, it works a dream. Just scrub with white vinegar in the shower stall for cleaning.

      The box we used is the “Nature’s Miracle Just For Cats Advanced High Sided Corner Cat Litter Box” on Chewy. The extended lip around the top edge is perfect for nestling the linoleum into. (Also, we had the linoleum left from the bathroom reno, so the box matched the room it was in.)

    9. Trixie*

      For a favorite senior kitty, we used a large washing machine drain pan under the litter box.

    10. Worked in IT forever*

      You didn’t ask about this and have probably already dealt with it, so please forgive a unrelated idea from another owner of an old cat with arthritis in her back legs.

      Our old cat with still likes to get up on the bed, couches, etc., but can’t manage easily. We were afraid of her falling while trying to jump (and we’ve already dealt with a very expensive orthopedic surgery and a very long recovery time for a younger cat who mismanaged a jump). We tried getting those plastic folding steps for dogs, but she doesn’t like them–maybe because the steps are pretty small?

      Our low-tech, relatively cheap solution was to get some storage containers from Walmart, take off the lids, flip them over, and put them next to wherever she likes to jump onto. The container gives her a broad platform to jump onto and bridges the gap between the floor and the couch/chest at the end of the bed/whatever. The containers are maybe 8 – 12″ high and maybe 18 x 24″ wide and long. For extra traction, we securely covered each container with an old towel. They aren’t beautiful, but they work.

      1. RC Rascal*

        I used a step stool for mine, placed next to the bed. He would climb on the stool and from there would get to the bed. The stool had rubber feet so it didn’t skid on the wood floor. We tried the dog stairs and he didn’t care for that.

    11. Four-legged fosterer*

      I have done something similar to the pee pads around the outside, but more environmentally friendly:
      I have two boxes, one extra wide and the regular one in the middle. When she peed in the regular box it would puddle in the bigger one and I would wash it out.

    12. Melody Pond*

      Your cat is exactly like my cat! She doesn’t squat to pee at all, and for a while, she would stand up and pee directly on the wall (outside of the litterbox, she wasn’t JUST missing).

      I did a couple things.

      First, I got a couple of these high-walled litter boxes from Amazon:

      And second, I put washable pee pads out in front of the litter box (the only area where she could possibly get urine outside the litter box, if she were standing inside of it). I also macguyvered a solution out of a few 3M Command hooks and binder clips, so that I could “mount” a washable pee pad against the one spot on the wall where she kept peeing (again, this was happening when she wasn’t in the litter box at all; she eventually stopped doing this, it was mostly when she was new to us).

      I can’t seem to find the actual washable pee pads I originally got, but these are very very similar:

  19. SandrineSmiles - France*

    Hi Sandrine! I’m removing this because we’ve got new rules for the weekend open threads (linked at the top but also here). Essentially, there’s no more “here’s an update on my life” personal-blog-style posts — I’m asking that comments ask questions or seek to discuss ideas. – Alison

    1. LibbyG*

      Sandrine, I’m glad to see your name here! I hope you keep posting – I enjoy how you frame interesting ideas that lead to good discussions.

    2. Corinne*

      Hi Sandrine, really sorry I missed your post before it got yanked. I have been thinking of you!

  20. nep*

    ‘Rant’ about something utterly unimportant…I cannot stand these scroll bars (in Windows 10?) that ‘activate’ when you hover there. So. Flipping. Annoying. Like what’s the point.
    Is it just me?

    1. PharmaCat*

      Agreed. And there is not enough contrast, so even when they’re activated, its difficult.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      Several MSFT workers are in my weekly scotch group. Any time anyone grumbles about a MSFT issue, they all chime in, “That’s a feature, not a bug,” and then burst into laughter. I’m with you on the scrolly thing. I will bring your issue to our next meeting. :)

      1. nep*

        Seriously it’s one of those things that make me think…Just…Why? It’s a classic case of just because you can doesn’t mean it’s a good idea…

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Could you be a lifesaver and carry another pet peeve along for me? The default ribbon bar needs to have something separating the buttons for Undo and Save!

        1. LQ*

          Not to fix the default or if you have to move machines all the time, but you can absolutely add a separator in if it’s your long term machine. Standing lines galore to keep from clicking the wrong thing on mine!

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I do, every time–and I’ve taught a dozen people how to make that change. Sometimes after they’ve clicked the wrong one.

        2. Nervous Nellie*

          I will totally bring that up. My pals are in various departments (Excel, Server, Azure, etc) but they all know the teams that are responsible for this nonsense. I am with you – I totally hate the save button’s location and have had to undo accidental undos many times when trying to save. I even trained myself never to use the undo button or save button and instead use CTRL+Z and CTRL+S respectively, but that still doesn’t help, since the S key is right by the Z key, and mixups can still happen there….

          I know they will chuckle like crazy, but maybe they will have some tips or tricks we don’t know. Fingers crossed!

    3. Kathenus*

      Not just you! And because I’m working more on a laptop with Windows 10 due to WFH it’s become a bigger annoyance. Crazy how little things like this can be the ones that really add up on the stress-o-meter some days.

    4. LQ*

      This is a huge pain for me in a few things specifically because I have a trackball that I prefer to use (I actually want a trackpad and a regular mouse, but for a PC and for my work machine, I can’t justify the cost, and I don’t know that I want to have to explain what I’m looking for and why 30 times when they’ll just want me to use a standing mouse instead) and it does NOT respond well to the hidden scroll bars. So poorly in fact that I keep a regular mouse next to it just for scrolling. There are some websites that are really obnixious with this too.

      Stop trying to be cool. Be functional.

      1. nep*

        Strange how it somehow helps not to be alone in this.
        You’re so right–go for functional, Every. Time.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Is there a setting for that? I haven’t used Windows in a while. In macOS the scroll bar also, by default, activates only if you hover over it, but that can be changed in System Preferences to be active all the time.

      1. nep*

        Thanks. I was wondering about that. I’m going to explore. I’d love to be able to change it.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        Oh! That’s really nice. It’s been driving me insane on my laptop, thanks for the fix!

    6. Flabbernabbit*

      I *cannot* stand the inability to turn off the iPhone default “feature” of auto-playing music when you’ve got headphones attached. If I could, I’d make all people responsible for this listen to YMCA 5 times as a passcode before they could access their phones.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I switched from iPhones after mine picked up the habit of playing random sound files when charging.

        Which is a nice way of saying it screamed at 3am and I actually pitched it through the window in an adrenaline-fueled panic.

    7. nep*

      Oh, man. I wish I could delete my post. But I’m happy for the outcome anyway.
      I had wondered about whether this was a setting…but I chalked it up as a feature so I never looked into it. After Anonymous Educator’s post here, I looked. Indeed, I was able to turn OFF ‘automatically hide scroll bars in Windows.’
      What a relief.
      Thanks, Anonymous Educator.

  21. Valancy Snaith*

    Women who have taken the plunge and cut your hair really short, I’m looking for opinions! I’ve been kicking around the idea of cutting my hair into a pixie for a few months now. I have thick, wavy-curly hair (between a 2B and a 2C) that I normally blow out and straighten, and currently is below my shoulder blades. For work purposes my hair needs to be either short enough to not touch my collar or long enough to tie back completely. I’ve never had a big, drastic hair change like this, and I’m nervous about pulling the trigger on it. So, short hair: did you like it? Hate it immediately and grow it out as quickly as possible? Maintenance schedule? I would really love any opinions!

    1. nep*

      I went from long hair to a pixie once, and from long hair to buzz cut (a 2 on the clippers) twice. If I’m going short, I much prefer the buzz cut just because my hair doesn’t look right in a pixie and medium/short was just too much maintenance; I much prefer a buzz cut. Wash and wear.
      It’s liberating and fun in many ways, and I’d say it’s good to experience it at least once to see what it does for you. Of course, if you don’t like it and you want to grow it long enough again to tie back, the in-between time can be rough. But hey, in time it does grow back. Bobby pins become your best friend. (In the time it’s touching your collar but too short to tie back, are you allowed to wear head wraps?)
      Just thinking aloud here…Not sure I’m really answering your question.

    2. HannahS*

      I did that at 15 and looked very like Daniel Radcliffe, which is not the desired look for a 15 year old girl. But I had friends who did it and loved it!
      I wish I’d known that a short haircut is actually harder to style daily than a long one, because long hair can be shoved into a ponytail or braided and you’re done for the next 12 hours.

      1. ThatGirl*

        My hair was long when I was young, and it was difficult to keep up – it’s very slippery. Even braids tended to “fall out” after awhile. So my hair’s been fairly short since 5th grade and in college I chopped it to a pixie for awhile. It’s true that your styling may need to change, but I save time in shampooing and drying and my hair can be dried and styled in about 10 minutes.

        1. HannahS*

          Oh wow! We must have very different hair. Mine was heavy and wavy, and unruly. It’s always held on to updos well, though, so that’s probably why I had an easier time with longer hair! I think one big difference I’m seeing in the comments that should factor is whether or not you blow-dry your hair. I’m air-dry all the way, and the pixie cut I got really required some styling that I both had no idea how to do, and was unwilling to do.

      2. nep*

        Absolutely. Shorter hair is so high maintenance for me. I prefer to keep mine long so I can put it in a high or low knot. If I go short, it’s the buzz, because that’s no maintenance.

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yeesssssss. Pre-COVID, I regularly got comments from short-hairs a la “I could never have my hair that long, it must take so much work!”

        Me: “Yeah? What’s your hair routine like?”
        Them: “Oh, well, I wash it every morning and blow-dry it and this pomade and that wax and this and that and the other thing, and I only have to have it cut every four weeks and …”
        Me: “I wash mine twice a week and it dries in a braid. Otherwise, putting it up in a bun takes about 30 seconds, 45 if I brush it first.”

        I said something on Facebook in about May to the effect of “After this, I expect to never hear short-hairs tell me my hair takes too much work again.”

        1. hermit crab*

          I’m really jealous of people who can grow their hair out, and put it up! Mine just… stops growing when it gets around chin-length and turns into a mess of wispy ends. Being able to just put your hair up (without it looking like Pebbles from the Flintstones) seems like it would make life so easy.

          1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

            Do you do damaging stuff to your hair? Dyeing, curling/straightening, and even blow drying on hot are pretty harsh on your hair. We all have a maximum hair length, but for most people it’s longer than chin. It might be able to grow longer if you baby it a bit more.

            1. hermit crab*

              No, it’s always been like this! I do the occasional quick blow-dry (one plus of super-thin hair is that it only takes like 30 seconds to dry) and sometimes that Overtone color conditioner stuff, but it was the same when I was a teenager and didn’t even dry it. My dad has similar hair – who knows where we got it, since that side of the family is Ashkenazi Jewish with lots of curls, except for us! My mom insists that it’s a sign of thyroid issues but my numbers have always been fine. Just a quirk of genetics, I guess.

        2. ThatGirl*

          My morning routine: wash every other day, but I wet it every day. Light conditioner. Antifrizz cream. Blow dry takes 5-7 minutes, touch up ends with flat iron, touch of pomade – I promise it only takes 10 minutes max. Haircut every six weeks. If that sounds like too much time, well, ok. But I love my hair and look better with it short anyway.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I mean, it’s still way too much time and product and such for me, but that’s why I don’t do it :) Do what makes you happy, I promise I’m not judging you for it as long as you don’t tell me MINE is what would be too much effort!

            1. ThatGirl*

              Do what you want, of course, it’s your hair! When I think about the effort of long hair, I don’t so much think about time spent styling as the amount of product used (shampoo, conditioner, color, etc) and the sheer weight of it. And when my hair was really short I didn’t even blow dry it, but a pixie wasn’t as flattering on me as ear to chin length hair. So for me this is the ideal balance of time, effort and style that works for me.

              1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

                BTW, I only shampoo my scalp, so I just use a normal amount of that. I do use a good bit of conditioner though!

                Personally, I absolutely hate the noise the blow dryer makes, so I entirely glad to be able to avoid it, even ignoring the time it takes.

        3. Clisby*

          +1. Mine is: Every once in awhile I have my husband cut it to about shoulder-length. (I haven’t had a professional haircut in maybe 15 years – not worth it.)
          I wash it once a week. My hair is stick-straight, so if I want it to be really easy to manage I either braid it while it’s wet or twist it and put it up in pin curls until it’s dry. Either way I wind up with wavy hair, which is easier to handle.
          The end.

    3. CTT*

      I’ve done a full pixie twice and I LOVE it. It was a little scary, but that lasted for like 2 minutes and then I was in love. And part of that was that I didn’t do it on impulse. I talked it over with my stylist, who I had already been seeing for a year, and I brought in pictures and she helped me figure out would work best for my hair type. I especially love what it did for my hair texture; mine is wavy but it never did much and looked lank when it was long and I always had to straighten it. But once I cut it, my natural waves really came out.

      Now, one important caveat: I’m not sure where in the world you are, but if it’s somewhere with active or increasing Covid cases, I would hold off on doing it for now; very short hair requires regular haircuts. When mine was short, I was going every four weeks; if I pushed to five, it got mullet-y in back and a little too long/shapeless in the front. I’m in the southeast US and I’m growing mine out because the process already started while in lockdown and I don’t want to risk myself or stylist by going regularly now (and she told me almost all her super-short hair clients are doing the same). So if you don’t have someone in your home you trust to trim it, I’d hold off.

      1. nep*

        Great point. This is one reason the buzz was so nice. Invest in clippers and just mow it at home when it starts to get a little fuzzy. But indeed–nice short hair styles need frequent cuts.

      2. No Name Yet*

        This. I have long hair that I had decided to cut off once winter was over. But given that I pretty much expect more lock-downs in the future, I’m leaving it long for now – pulling it back in a bun to hide split ends is WAY EASIER than figuring out the weirdness of a pixie/short cut growing out when you don’t want it to. When I had short hair in the past, 6 weeks was pretty much the longest I could go between cuts, and weeks 4.5-6 were always a bit funny-looking.

      3. Sunset Maple*

        This. My boss has a pixie, and needs it cut every three weeks. Now is not the time to be doing this, unless someone in your household can maintain it for you.

    4. Helvetica*

      I don’t have strong attachment to my hair, it grows fast, so that might colour my answer but I went from shoulder blade length hair to chin length at 15 and it was great. Until I washed it and it turned curly and I realized that in order to maintain a sleek bob, I’d have to basically blow-dry and/or straighten my hair every single day and style it and I am just not about that commitment. So I let it grow out. I haven’t had a pixie cut, because it wouldn’t work for my face shape but my general advice is, you only live one and hair grows back. So cut it!

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I also have thick wavy-curly 2B-2C hair and have had short hair in the past and will never ever do it again. HOWEVER, I am also generally too lazy to blow out and straighten my hair — if that’s something you’re already down with, then the issues that *I* had with short hair are less likely to be issues that *you* will have with short hair. I was also fairly young – my mother cut my hair very short when I was eight or so and wouldn’t let me grow it out again until I was 17 or so, then the initial growing-out stages kept getting to me for another couple years, and at this point my last real haircut (barring trims that I do myself) was in May 1999. So apply a salt lick as necessary. :)

      Personally, I found that my 2B-2C hair does not obey the laws of gravity unless it is somewhere between shoulder length and bra strap length. When it was kept short, I spent most of middle and high school being called Ronald McDonald because of the goofy poofy way that it expanded in every direction except DOWN on my head. (It’s also very red. Think Merida.) When I finally sucked it up and pushed through the growing out pains, I kept at least three bobby pin factories in business singlehandedly and still wore hats and bandanas for two years straight.

      But, like I said, the first time in my life that I ever either blow-dried my hair or had it straightened was when I was 30 and got my first keratin treatment. And if I was willing and able to do that regularly, I think short hair would behave much better for me. But I am not, so I keep it past my butt. (And as a bonus, when all the short-hairs around me are lamenting the closure of their favorite hair salons, I have not said “OH GOD I NEED A HAIRCUT” in over 21 years. :) )

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I find it sadly ironic how often we want the hair we do not have. I have come to terms with my persistently straight dark brown hair… I tried tight curly perms twice, and the curls lasted only 2-3 weeks on me. I would love to have tight curls, and I hope you all know how beautiful your hair is.

        1. Anon for this*

          @Seeking Second Childhood –
          Believe me – we curly girls also look longingly at your straight, smooth locks. You are correct, we want what we do not have, even if we have made peace with our hair.

      2. Sunset Maple*

        I have your hair texture (but length only to my elbows), and I am only just learning to like it via the curly girl method. It’s been a lot of experimentation, but I finally have a simple routine I like, and I haven’t used heat on my hair in over a year.

        Ironically, I paid a fortune for a DevaCut and hated it. I looked like an extra in a Pretenders video. The cut I’ve grown to love is a DIY unicorn cut I taught myself via YouTube.

        I can’t help but appreciate the irony of finally tolerating my hair via an incredibly hands-off method, when I fought it and attacked it with tools and products for decades.

        1. Quoth the Raven*

          I have 2c-3a hair and I have the exact same experience; I actually learnt to love and care for my hair after it was cut way too short and following the routine I’d followed until then made it look terrible. I hate using heat on it because I dye it and I don’t want the extra damage.

          I’m thinking about giving myself a unicorn haircut (as of now the longest strands reach just above my waist and the shortest under my ribs). Do you have any tips on doing it?

          1. Sunset Maple*

            I use the technique in the videos by Tara Marie and Manes by Mell. I stick with only 2 sections because face-framing layers looks horribly dated on me; I prefer very long mermaid layers. If you want a more rounded shape with greater distance between the shortest and longest layers, there are videos that do up to 4 sections.

            Have someone take a photo of your back, before and after, to see the way the hair lays naturally. Work on almost-dripping-wet hair combed tight to the scalp. Curly hair fights back on this, but bumps and loose sections will ruin the ratio that creates the V shape. Don’t use the usual “gentle” hair elastics that we’re conditioned to use to protect our hair; in this case you need firm grip to prevent slipping. I use the silicone Scunci elastics. If you have trouble getting the firm grip ones around your hair due to volume, use a cut rubber band to wrap your ponytail and then re-knot it by hand.

            Start slow and take off as little as you can (while still making a noticeable difference), wash and style as usual, then give it a few days to evolve. Re-evaluate then, and take off more if you want.

            You don’t have to go out and buy a hair shears specifically, but whatever you do use needs to be wicked sharp. Dull blades just push the hair out of the way, and you’ll end up with a sine wave instead of a straight edge.

    6. hermit crab*

      I’m in my mid-30s and have been in a pixie-to-chin-length-and-back cycle since I was about 20. I have VERY thin, straight hair (not like when people say “the strands are fine, but there’s a lot of it” – I just don’t have very much hair overall). I cut it all off every couple of years and then grow it out a bit when I get tired of getting haircuts all the time. The in-between stage can be awkward but I think if you can wear your hair curly that would be more forgiving. The key is just to keep trimming the back while you let the rest grow.

      I’ve had fantastic pixie cuts and boring/unflattering ones – it really depends. Regardless, though, I love the freedom of super-short hair. It makes me feel badass!

    7. RagingADHD*

      I love having short hair, and have gone back and forth many times.

      I like to leave it a bit longer in front, maybe a disconnected chin-lenth bang, or something. That way it’s easy to keep nice on low-maintenance days, but I have options to do something different/fancy if I feel like it.

      The only downside as far as I’m concerned is the awkward growing-out period when I’m tired of it. But that’s what bobby pins and headbands are for.

      FWIW, I’m a longtime hair DIY-er. I’ll happily pay for a nice cut & color when the budget is flush and I have an event to go to. But I enjoy being able to chop, change, and experiment with funky colors at home, too.

      Don’t overthink it. It grows back.

    8. Le Corbustier*

      Like other people pointed out, I’ve found that short hair requires more maintenance and actually a bit more daily effort to get it to “behave”, but it sounds like you already have a pretty intensive routine so the day to day might not be a huge issue for you. For me the cost of having a salon appointment 4-5x a year vs 2x ended up being why I grew it out.

      That being said, I went from below shoulder length hair to a pixie with a shaved side and I LOVED it. Depending on how it’s cut you can maintain the shaved portion yourself with clippers to cut down on appointment visits. If you’re looking for something on the funkier end of the spectrum, and it works with your job etc. it’s a good option between a total buzz and more traditional pixie or bob

    9. No Tribble At All*

      Had long hair, cut it short myself, slowly grew it out over time. I switched to taking showers in the morning because my hair just looked sticky if I didn’t wash it. Also, it’s way harder to trim short hair than long hair! I had to go to an actual salon and get them to fix it. The growing-out phase always looks awkward, so be prepared for that :P

    10. Thankful for AAM*

      I have an undercut, buzzed (#3) on the sides and back and chin length on the top.

      I love it. Due to covid, I am buzz cutting it myself and find cutting it myself to be surprisingly empowering!

      I say go for it!

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        Agreed. I had a pixie/faux hawk cut that I LOVE but due to COVID, I buzzed it on my own. I’ve had a buzz cut on and off the past few years and grew it back out last fall. I wil say my barber did a great job when I got it cut at the beginning of March. The cut still looked great almost 3 months grown out. I just got tired of the back mulleting out like my hair does.

        I re-buzzed it this afternoon and so glad I did. Only took 20 mins to do properly.

    11. Maggie*

      My hair is thick and wavy. I went from shoulder length to a pixie because I never liked wearing it down and got tired of ponytails and barrettes. Aside from having to get hair cuts more often, it’s very low maintenance for me. I use plain shampoo on it every morning, then comb it (no tangles or knots!!!!), then let it air dry or blow dry it. Once in a while I trim my bangs. That’s it. It’s straight now and just lays flat. I love it!

    12. Anon too*

      DO IT!

      If you’d don’t like it, it’s just hair and it grows back.

      I have had everything from a pixie to a 1980s pink half shaved shag to hair down to my waist. I have thick heavily wavy hair / softish curls. Short hair is great — so much faster to wash, dry, and style. I favor short cuts that just require a bit of finger combing maybe with a bit of product.

      Right now I’m growing out a cut that looked a lot like an Elizabeth Taylor bob, previously it was like that cute sexy short curly cut she had when she was pretty young. I get tired of any cut after a year or so…

      My advice is to look at LOTS of pictures of short haircuts, and print out or cut out the ones you like, jot down what you like about them, and then take that to a really good hairdresser, who can tell you what will work for your head, how to style it at home, and how often you’ll need to get it cut. Get a recommendation and spend some money on it. I’m generally a penny pincher, but I spend on my hair cuts, about $75 plus a fat tip every four to six weeks. Totally worth it, my head looks fantastic lol. I’ve been going to the same hairdresser for about 10 years.

    13. Overeducated*

      I have a short pixie and i really love it. I tried to grow it back to shoulder length after 5 years and just cut it off again a couple months ago. Like, at home during quarantine, my spouse was able to cut from shoulder length to pixie using clippers, scissors, and youtube.

      I would say the only drawbacks are more frequent trims, and as you get older, you might have to consider how to veer towards “funky” rather than “no-nonsense middle aged lady” (unless that’s what you’re going for!).

      But maintenance? I get out of the shower, muss it with my fingers, and that’s that. No products, no styling, no bad hair days. With longer hair i had to do more work, and would have days where it just wasn’t laying right. With short hair, if i don’t look put together, it’s not because of my hair. So i say do it – I’m surprised to find I don’t want to go back.

    14. Kathenus*

      Such a hard decision. I have very thick hair with a lot of wave/curl to it that seems to be getting worse over time. Of course, I wish my hair was straight – because we seem to always want what we don’t have – so I have to work to get it tamed down. I’ve learned with my hair that I can’t even have layers anymore because then it’s just a big curl-fest, which I don’t want. I’ve wondered if a pixie cut – like I had in high school which looked good – would work for me now but I’m not willing to take the plunge. About 10 years ago I got my hair cut above my shoulders and layered hoping it would remove some of the weight and look good and I hated it – ended up with it in barrettes for over a year until the layers grew out enough so it laid some resemblance of straight.

      So I think it’s a know your hair and risk assessment. If I could wave a magic wand and see if a pixie cut would lay more flat versus all curly, I’d do it in a heartbeat. But since it would take me years to grow it out if I didn’t like it I’m too chicken to try.

      Like someone else mentioned, I’ve actually found that the long hair works better in the summer than winter because all I do is put it up, and in the winter when I wear it down it takes time to tame into submission.

      No right or wrong answer here, but you’re getting lots of peoples’ experiences which might help you best assess the pros and cons you may run into. Good luck!

    15. Parenthetically*

      With thick waves, I’d think more of a pompadour/quiff style would look amazing — not a Twiggy-esque super short pixie, but very short back and sides and a longer top that you could still style.

      It’s just hair! If you hate it, it’ll be 100% different in a few months.

    16. Ali*

      I shaved my head a month ago because: COVID. I love it! I assumed it wouldn’t look that great, but I actually really like the way it looks. A year ago I did a pixie for the first time, and also loved that. Three years ago my hair had been long, past my shoulders, for my entire life. For the past three years I’ve gone progressively shorter every summer and been happy each time! I recommend you commit!

    17. Trixie*

      Pre-Covid, I had a pixie cut for 15 years. Somewhere in there, I grew it out to shoulder length and then went back to pixie. I’ve never liked styling my hair and was always pulling it back or up. Salons are reopening so I can decide if want to keep the pixie or settle for a trim and see where this leads. I love a pixie because it suits my lifestyle, requires no time, and works well with my thicker hair. It takes me less than five minutes to style and go. No hair dryer, comb/brush, spray, etc. Just something from shine or shaping and that’s it.

      Without the right stylist, the cut can become to masculine for me. The challenge I’ve had since moving here 8 years ago is finding a stylist who both understands my hair texture and the standard pixie cut. The cut isn’t super common in my current community which is more about the blow out, make up, etc so I’m a bit of an anomaly. But a good stylist can help you find the right short cut for you hair. (I don’t think the Meg Ryan cut works for everyone unless you’re Meg Ryan or have her bone structure to some extent.)

      Hair grows out so you might try shorter and shorter cuts so it’s a drastic change. Dominique Sachse (whom I occasionally watch on YT) has what I consider a short bob/longer pixie. That might be a good length to aim for and see what you think.

    18. Black Horse Dancing*

      I’ve had wash and wear pixie cuts for years. Nothing fancy but I get a cut and then simply wash it and let dry naturally or maybe style with some mousse or pomade. I never had the ‘short hair is so much work.’ I don’t style my hair, however, and I simply want to look presentable/professional. Most men don’t do more than a brush and comb, I don’t do much either. My hair is thin now but was thick and slightly wavy.

    19. MadMaddy86*

      I have curly hair I would say between a 2C and 3A. I grew it long until past my shoulder blades and about midway down my back- but I got annoyed with it so then i asked my stylist to cut it as short as possible but so that I would still be able to pull it all back into a pony tail. I like it now- when i wear lit curly – it is just abouve my shoulders. If i were to straighten it it would be just at or slightly below shoulder length. it makes SUCH a difference having shorter hair. The key is having a stylist you trust and that knows how you like to do daily/weekly maintenance. I am slowly working up to cowashing so it is nice to see the changes in my hair for the better. I wear it curly so it is very little maintenance for me- maybe a trim every six months or so? I do use curly products to reduce frizz daily but that is about it. Hope this helps!

    20. Laura H.*

      I have straight hair… and I like it short but not pixie. I’m gonna advise not going straight for the pixie/ don’t say pixie straight off. Ask to get it cut to shoulder length straight off and then see how it looks in increments off. That way you’re not as stuck with shorter hair than you like for a long time.

      But that’s more general stylistic advice. But I do hope you find a cut you like. :)

    21. Buni*

      The maintenance schedule was half the reason I grew my hair back out after about 10 years short. I went from the cost & faff of a haircut every 6-8 weeks to the joy of once a year* and I don’t miss it at all. I hack the odd cm off my fringe myself when I can’t see out any more, and that’s it.

      *16 months and counting now thanks to covid!

    22. Breast Solidarity*

      Your hair sounds exactly like my pre-chemo hair. I was pretty devastated when I lost my hair, especially since i was trying to be discrete and there are NO curly long-haired wigs! But as my hair grew out it turns out I love it! COVID hit just as I was nearly ready for a hair cut, so I have been using clippers on it and just doing it myself, which isn’t perfect, but I have to say I love not having to get an appointment and now when everyone else is looking a little rough around the edges most days my hair looks good. AND added bonus for us thick and curly ones — I CAN WASH MY HAIR OR SWIM IN THE MORNING and it doesn’t take ALL DAY to dry! Sorry to shout but WOW.

    23. KoiFeeder*

      After having spent 18 years of my life with waist-long hair, chopping it off for college was really nice.

      There are pros and cons either way, I liked it both ways, and honestly the main reason I’ve stayed with short hair is just for easier maintenance (well, and because I really hate the awkward mullet stage). Now, my idea of hair maintenance has always been to keep it washed and combed, so I don’t do the styling gel or even really trimming unless it’s annoying me. It’s really just a matter of finding a style that works well with your hair, long or short (mine eats small animals, yours is presumably better behaved).

    24. AcademiaNut*

      I went from past my shoulders to pixie short (worn spiky) and will never go back. It’s cooler, easier to take care of, and makes me look younger.

      I have very fine, soft hair and little patience with hair care routines – I no longer own combs. I wash my hair (no conditioner needed when it’s this short), let it air dry, and rub a bit of product through it. When I had longer hair it still needed to be washed daily or it would look greasy, and it tended to tangle and frizz when it got too long.

      Ideally I’d get it cut about every six weeks, but I’m terrible at remembering to get haircuts. I have a really good hairdresser, so the cuts I get go from pixie-tousled to simply very short with a messy part before I get around to another haircut, at about 3 month intervals.

    25. Dancing Otter*

      When I have my hair pixie-short (I have a pony tail at the moment because my bob grew out), I scrunch it with a light product, such as Aveda Phomolliant, and let it air dry. When it’s dry, I run my fingers or a large toothed comb through to soften it up. (If my hair had ANY body at all, I might not even need to scrunch it.) It really isn’t a lot of work at all. “Thick, wavy-curly hair” should look great in a pixie or crop!

      Getting a really good, not so-so, not “She’s convenient and cheap”, haircut is extra important with short styles.

      For reference, I have gone back and forth between “past my shoulder blades” and cropped styles multiple times.

  22. Sled dog mama*

    My husband and I have decided to homeschool our daughter this year for a lot of reasons but one of the real tipping points was the lack of communication from our location school district.
    I was homeschooled growing up (and taught high school for a bit) so we have some experience and resources for evaluating different curriculum options. We don’t feel comfortable designing our own curriculum at this point. Most of the options we are considering are literature based (using “living books*” to teach history, language arts, and some science).
    The big problem I’m finding is that I can’t find a secular curriculum that has as much of a diversity component as I want. I’ve found some that have components of religious diversity and racial diversity, but I can’t find gender, sexuality or disability diversity (I don’t like the word disability but I couldn’t come up with a clearer way to say that).
    It’s very important to me that my daughter get an education that addresses all these points.
    I’m looking for books that address diversity and would love suggestions from the readers here. In particular I’d like to find books targeted to early elementary children either for adults to read to the child or to be read by the child.
    Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

    *a living book is one that evokes an emotional response allowing the information to imprint more strongly in the reader’s mind

    1. KittyCardigans*

      I used to work in the children’s department of a public library (I work with high schoolers now), and one resource I’ve enjoyed over the years is the book lists at What Do We Do All Day. The lists are mostly broken into broad age groups, and there are several on diversity of different kinds. I found a few diversity lists just scrolling through the top few pages, but for something more specific like disability, the search bar on the side might be a better bet.
      Good luck with your homeschooling journey!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Definitely check your library. Our director has lined up materials with homeschoolers in mind. Additionally, your request for specific materials can possibly guide the director’s purchasing decisions for the library. No promises on that one, of course, but part of the director’s job is to listen to people’s needs/requests and use those specifics as some guidelines for what to purchase for the library.

        In our small town, the requests of one or two regular patrons can have more weight than one might expect.

    2. Max Kitty*

      There’s a hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. My local libraries have been collecting titles under that hashtag in their electronic collections.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      As your students gets older, keep an eye out for fiction with characters that have …whatever traits you’re trying to normalize. Off the top of my head, I will suggest : El Deafo. The whole Percy Jackson series (dyslexia, ADHD). Alchemy and Meggy Swann (crutches to walk). Maximum Ride series (a blind character, plus all the kids are genetically engineered to begin with). Lawrence Yep (historic novels about Chinese immigrants in the 19th c US, and modern stories as well). The X-Men. Brown Girl Dreaming. Akata Witch.
      Consider folk songs for music class–look up Fred Small’s Talking Wheelchair Blues as a start.
      I love kid lit, in case you can’t tell. :)

    4. 2QS*

      Check out Common Sense Media for lots of awesome recommendations (especially for social justice and equality stuff) and Melissa Wiley’s blog for “tidal homeschooling” (I believe one of her kids has a learning disability?).

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      My spouse said that Gender Spectrum (genderspectrum.org) has some great curriculum and resources. May be worth checking out.

  23. green*

    Since covid, I’ve been “playing” board games with my 5 year old nephew over facetime. Mostly we’ve been doing Candyland because he can flip over the cards for both of us. I’d like to send him some new games we can both play. Any suggestions for age-appropriate games that we can play like this?

    1. Alex*

      Sorry! was one of my favorites as a young kid. Also Chutes and Ladders?
      4 First games by Ravensburger might also be a good option, although he might be a little on the older side of that age range by now.

    2. KittyCardigans*

      Chutes and Ladders, definitely. I was going to recommend Uno, because I know kindergartners who love it and you can play virtually as long as both parties have a deck of cards, but the recommended age is 7+—so that might depend on your nephew.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      UNO is fun, and I think you could play with each of you having your own deck.

      Seconding Sorry! My mom, my kid and I played that a lot and had fun with it.

    4. Games*

      Battleship and Guess Who are both great games to play over Facetime, if you both get the games.

    5. Michelle*

      At that age, my son and I were enjoying Ra-a-Tat Cat, Sushi Go!, Piou Piou, Sleeping Queens, Hiss, and Ghost Blitz. You should also check out Haba games like Rhino Hero or Monza (which uses colours, very much like Candy Land does).

      1. Michelle*

        Sorry…I missed the whole “over Face Time” part. Games like Rhino Hero would definitely not work for that.

    6. Anon-a-souras*

      I think guessing games would work well. Especially Headbanz (you have a picture card in your headband the other person can see but you can’t. Game comes with cards and headbands.

      My kiddos also like Riddle Moo This which is a guessing game with three clues – you buzz in when you’re ready to guess. The 4 buzzers are big button type and each makes a different animal noise. Also great fun to use to just be silly animal noises and giggle. :)

    7. still napping*

      It’s a pattern matching game, and kids are often much better than adults. there’s a deck of cards that he can be in control of – only 1 person controls the deck anyway.

    8. sequined histories*

      My 7-year-old nephew and I FaceTime a lot. He comes up with imaginary scenarios, telling me what role I’m playing and often what my lines are! This activity was just a natural extension of the way we played together in person. Maybe you could use the old choose-your-own adventure books to jumpstart something like that? Read him the initial scenario and offer him the choices, and then continue that way, so that you’re doing all the reading and your nephew is doing all the choosing?

    9. Elf*

      All of the cooperative games by Peaceable Kingdom are great! Buzz is one of my favorites but the board is abstract enough that it might be less good over Skype; the dinosaur one is a great choice, and Catch is great and is a good stretch towards harder games.
      For non-cooperative games, Parcheesi (or Sorry which is almost the same) are classics for a reason

    10. Washi*

      Mastermind? I used to love that game when I was a kid. At 5 he would probably just guess random colors but could maybe learn about logic!

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The kids in my daughter’s daycare used to argue over the Connect4 board. Number the slots and you can tell him where to drop the next disk for you.

  24. Goose*

    What does everyone eat for breakfast? I’ve always been a protein bar/cereal/yogurt person but I want to cut down on the processed sugar. I know I’ll still be crazing something sweet though—any suggestion? I wish I was an oatmeal fan, but cooked oatmeal is not my thing. Maybe oatmeal bars?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Baked oatmeal bars can be a great option. I went through an overnight oats phase, and you can eat it cold if you want.

      Do you like eggs? Mini quiches/egg muffins on an English muffin can be very filling with plenty of protein. Then maybe a little fruit for the sweet?

    2. CatCat*

      If oatmeal is not your jam, you could try using a different grain to make a hot cereal. Like a barley, farro, or brown rice. You can add fruits and something like date sugar (really just finely ground dates, so better than processed sugar since it retains the vitamins and fiber contained in dates) and cinnamon for sweetness.

      You could do the same with unsweetened plain yogurt. When I ate yogurt, I’d add a dash of vanilla extract to give it a vanilla taste without the added sugars of vanilla yogurt from the store.

      1. Washi*

        Another good breakfast grain is buckwheat groats (kasha). It’s a very popular Russian breakfast and I got really into it when I was there! You can eat it just completely plain, with a bit of oil, or with a splash of milk like a normal cereal.

    3. Vina*

      I eat low-sugar yogurt, some berries, and homemade granola a lot.

      It’s easy to make home-made granola.

    4. Alex*

      I make my own granola, and eat it with plain yogurt and fruit. I still put some sugar in the granola (well, honey) but it is a lot less than the commercial ones.

      I’ve also gotten into “breakfast cookies.” I use the “healthy make ahead breakfast cookies” recipe from the site shelikesfood dot com. I usually cut the sugar by half or a third, and I usually use regular dairy and egg instead of the vegan alternatives. The recipes are pretty easy to customize to your tastes, and you can make a big batch and be good for a week–I just throw them in the freezer and defrost in the microwave.

      1. Goose*

        Those cookies look like a great replacement for protein bars! I’ll definitely give those a try, thanks!

        1. Alex*

          They taste 10000 times better than protein bars! I like to make them a little smaller than the recipe so that I can have one as a little snack, or three as a big breakfast.

    5. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Nutella and peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat. Quick, cheap, high protein, and totally yummy.

    6. Anon for this*

      Fruit and ricotta
      Toasted frozen waffle with peanut butter and applesauce
      Eggs on a tortilla with a little bit of cheese

    7. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      If you’re trying to avoid processed sugar, plain whole milk yogurt with fresh fruit, or lemon or lime juice, mixed in is reasonably sweet from the natural sugars in the milk and fruit.

      That’s easy this time of year, when the supermarket has good berries and other soft fruit. In the off-season I use frozen fruit, which I defrost before mixing into the yogurt (most frozen fruit has no added sugar, but check labels); I also use jam, but that’s processed sugar.

      1. Jack Russell Terrier*

        Yes – only plain yoghurt is without added sugar! It is so much better to add your own fruit. If you would like a sweetener in your plain yoghurt you can experiment with jam, like the person above or honey etc, and you’ll be in control of how much.

    8. KittyCardigans*

      I like toast with peanut butter, grits, cottage cheese…if you already like cereal and yogurt, I think I’d go with the less sugary versions of those and add some fruit (frozen or pre-chopped) or even a drizzle of honey to make it more palatable, at least at first. I’ve also found that when I add a sprinkle of cinnamon to something like yogurt it makes me feel like it’s sweeter than it actually is.

    9. acmx*

      I don’t like cooked oatmeal either but I do like overnight oats. Here’s one I make:
      1/3 oats
      1/2 c unsweetened chocolate almond milk
      2 tbsp PB Fit (powdered peanut butter)
      1/2 banana mashed.

    10. HannahS*

      Little egg sandwiches with a toasted English muffin and one of those gimmicky round microwave egg cookers. I love that little gadget! I crack in two eggs, salt and pepper, scramble, and grate some cheddar on top. Mmmm.

    11. Nacho*

      Wholegrain toast with peanut butter and a bananna. I’m way too lazy for anything that takes more work than that.

    12. My Brain Is Exploding*

      My go-to is a cup of fruit (often frozen blueberries, thawed in the microwave for 1 minute) topped with 1/4 cup DRIED oatmeal (nice chewy texture), chopped walnuts, plain Greek yogurt, and just enough honey. Stir it all up and eat!

    13. Washi*

      My super easy no sugar breakfast is baby carrots with peanut butter. Not a traditional breakfast food, but when I’m just feeling a little weird in the morning it’s light but reasonably satisfying. Sometimes I’ll do an apple and peanut butter if I do want a little sugar but not overly sweet.

    14. Recent Grad*

      I’m a big fan of chia pudding. It’s full of fiber so it keeps you full and even has a good amount of protein. I also make my own so the added sugar is under my control. You do need to make it a few hours ahead of time. I usually make it before bed or first thing in the morning if I’m making it for lunch.

      My one serving recipe:
      35g (3Tbs) chia seeds
      200g (~3/4C) unsweetened soy milk (Regular milk should also work. I’ve found that oat milk is too watery)
      5g (1tsp) maple syrup (agave, honey, or sugar would also work)
      A sprinkle of cinnamon and/or a dash of vanilla

      I usually mix everything in a mason jar on my kitchen scale for minimal cleanup. You will need to stir or shake everything occasionally until it thickens enough that the chia seeds stop sinking or else they clump at the bottom. I usually top it with thawed frozen fruit and muesli.

      1. ampersand*

        This sounds great! I’m going to make it tonight to have tomorrow morning. Thanks for posting your recipe!

    15. Nicki Name*

      I’m one of those people who needs a solid breakfast to get going in the morning, so frequently it’s dinner leftovers, or else scrambled eggs and some kind of bread (anything from whole wheat to Eggos, I’m not very discriminating). Then I typically have a light lunch.

    16. RagingADHD*

      Berry & banana smoothie with plain yogurt & a handful of almonds.

      Or eggs & wholegrain toast with a little all-fruit jam.

      Toast with peanut butter or cream cheese + jam.

    17. Cimorene*

      Healthy muffin recipes? Lots of recipes out there loaded up with good stuff and minimally sweetened with things like honey or maple syrup.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep, it’s okay not to like breakfast foods! I have a friend whose life totally changed once she realized she could just have leftovers or soup or a salad for breakfast!

    18. NeonFireworks*

      I also do cereal and protein bars. One thing I’ve been experimenting with is alternative forms of sweeteners (e.g. bananas, strawberries, cranberries, ginger, a bit of maple syrup or agave) in very plain cereal (like, basic rice or cornflakes). Chewy banana chips might be my favorite.

      I also love cream of wheat, but my system doesn’t handle gluten very well. I’ve heard cream of rice is a thing, so I’m keeping a lookout for that!

    19. Frapperia*

      When I used to work in an office (lol) a bacon sandwich, Diet Coke and packet of crisps (oops), or a bowl of cereal (I too don’t like porridge). Or a sandwich from Pret or M&S.

      At the moment, usually something like a couple of crumpets, butter, with whatever’s to hand, so could be vegetables, leftovers, tuna, cheese…

    20. Anonymous Educator*

      What does everyone eat for breakfast?
      Maybe this is boring, but I just eat cereal and milk. Sometimes a piece of fruit, too.

    21. Pharmgirl*

      I’m not an oatmeal fan either, but I do enjoy baked oatmeal – it has a different texture (not as mushy). Bonus, it can be baked ahead, and you just grab a square every morning.

      Most days I try to eat something egg based, because I have a late lunch and it keeps me fuller longer. Usually scrambled eggs, or a homemade breakfast sandwich.

    22. hermit crab*

      Lately I’ve been making “granola balls” (like granola bars but, you know, in balls). There are a bunch of recipes out there but the one I like is mashed banana, oats, nut butter, some honey – I add chocolate and sunflower kernels but you could use dried fruit or whatever else you like, just chop it up fine. The key is to keep them in the freezer, so that they keep their shape.

  25. ThatGirl*

    I have a dentist appointment today. Just a normal checkup. I’m a little nervous, mostly because I thought /they/ should be more nervous, if that makes sense? The woman who called to confirm only went over their safety protocols after I asked. They do sound fairly thorough, and I suspect the dentist or hygienist is at more risk than I am, but I was still kind of surprised by how relatively blasé they sounded. I should note we’re not in a hotspot, but cases are slightly on the rise here (Chicago suburbs).
    Has anyone else gone for a standard issue cleaning lately?

    1. Alex*

      I have. It was fine! I felt safe. The hygienist wore about a million masks. They had installed medical grade air purifiers in every room. They had me rinse with a special antibacterial rinse before they started the cleaning. I wore a mask in the waiting room, and until I sat down in the dentist chair. They had hand sanitizer available at the reception desk.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Where I went, they don’t let you wait in the waiting room – you need to wait in your car. They take your temperature when it’s time to go into the office. They have hand sanitizer. The hygienist wore a mask under a face shield, and I think she cleans off the chair between teeth cleaning.

        1. Alex*

          Oh yes I forgot that they did also take my temperature. They allowed people in the waiting room but as far as I could tell they were only scheduling one patient at a time (no one else was there when I was there) and they limited the waiting room from six chairs to three.

          I go to a place in a very downtown area so most people probably don’t drive there (I didn’t), so waiting in your car wouldn’t be a thing.

      2. Tris Prior*

        This was my experience too, I went TWICE this past week (I was literally years overdue for a deep cleaning and of course had scheduled it initially for March….). My dentist put in partitions, with actual walls and doors that close, around what used to be open cubicles. Plexiglass all around reception. So much PPE on my dentist, I did not recognize her. Got a temp check upon arrival. They made me fill out all the forms on my phone, so make sure to bring yours and charge it up in case they do that.

        I’m still worried that I caught covid there, because I am a paranoid person. But, I can’t think of anything they could’ve done better – other than maybe only having one patient in there at a time but that is probably not do-able for them. I did make sure to get the first appointment of the morning so at least I knew no one else had been sitting in the same space that day.

    2. Lcsa99*

      I can understand your concern, however you have to keep in mind that you aren’t the first person the are working with. They’ve been doing it for multiple people for many days so them being blase doesn’t mean they aren’t being careful, it just means they are pros who know what they are doing.

      My husband and I did our 6 month cleaning a little while ago and it was pretty obvious that they were being careful, spacing appointments and cleaning constantly. But on a normal day they would have to be pretty careful anyway, using gloves and masks etc.

    3. WellRed*

      Went two weeks ago. Felt very safe. No other people there, they took my temperature, etc etc.

    4. Nixologist*

      I accidentally ended up with a lot of dental work in April when I was still residing in place, not going anywhere at all, so I was nervous too. But my dentist had PPE of all types everywhere, and was keeping people out of the waiting room.

      The woman on the phone is probably just tired of doing the Covid mini speech every phone call. I wouldn’t assume this in translates in anyway with the office adhering to safety protocols.

    5. Brushandflosss*

      Not blasé but this is the new normal now. Longer appointments, minimal people in the waiting room, asking people to wait in their cars when possible until we’re ready. We have to do this to everyone. Also a lot of hygienists and dentists are adjusting to all the PPE we have to wear now. Overheating, dehydration and headaches are some issues we’re facing now so sometimes we’re not a enthusiastic as we’ve been before.

      1. ThatGirl*

        It’s not that I expected them to sound ridiculously concerned, more that I had to ask what they were doing – when I got my hair cut a few weeks ago they went over all the new things on the phone; same when I went to the dermatologist. You/they may have been doing this for months but this is my first dentist appt in “new normal” times so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

          1. Aurora Leigh*

            This may be area dependent but there’s a pretty large anti-mask contingent here, so I don’t blame anyone answering the phone for not getting into the protocol. Once one person has blown up at you it’s harder to go through the spiel.

            1. tangerineRose*

              Not going into the protocol to get yelled at makes sense. A large anti-mask contingent doesn’t make much sense to me, sorry that’s happening near you.

    6. NRG*

      I went last week. My dentist had this all down to a routine, and it was really reassuring. They did state that they were not using any ultrasonic tooth cleaning, also no polishing, to avoid aerosols. The hygienist was suited up a couple of steps back from an Ebola moon suit. I felt quite safe.

      1. Hi there*

        Thanks for pointing out there is no ultrasonic tooth cleaning. I really like that but can steel myself for the other way.

        1. brushandfloss*

          The ultrasonic scaler can be used if the High Vacuum Evacuation system is also being used. Sometimes is just holding the HVE but that can be cumbersome. A lot of offices are now implementing HVE systems that involve a mouth appliance attached to the HVE.

    7. Worked in IT forever*

      I just had one.

      They took my temperature when I came in. I was the only one in the waiting area, and there was no one in the treatment room adjacent to mine. The hygienist and dentist both had full PPE, including face shields. I had to do an antiseptic rinse up before the cleaning, and the hygienist did not use the scaler that sprayed water: she did all the scaling with the metal hand tool. She did not polish my fillings, either.

      They sent me info and instructions before the appointment. I had to sign a waiver. (Basically, it said that they were taking all sorts of precautions but could not guarantee there was no possibility of picking up COVID-19. I saw my eye doctor a couple of weeks ago and had to sign a similar waiver.) I was told to bring my own pen to the appointment. I had to wear a mask except for the actual cleaning procedure, but masks are now mandatory indoors in my city now anyway, and there was a lot of mask buy-in even before they became mandatory.

      The front desk person was behind a plexiglass shield. And there was lots of sanitizer, of course.

    8. hermit crab*

      My wife and I both went for cleanings last week. The office had the same precautions in place that others have mentioned – temperature screenings, HVAC stuff, hydrogen peroxide rinse, asking patients to come into the building exactly on time, using the suction tube thing to avoid splattering, etc. They sent some of that information out in an email in advance, but not all of it. The office is also charging a $10 fee per visit to cover PPE and cleaning costs, which I think is fair. My hygienist, who I absolutely adore and trust completely, said she feels safe and that the direction from state/national dental organizations has been very good.

      (If anyone in DC or close-in Northern Virginia is in the market for a dentist, I highly recommend Arlington Dental Team on Wilson Blvd. I’ve been going to them for 10+ years and actually look forward to my appointments.)

  26. coffee cup*

    Hi, you may recall that I started to take an SSRI a few months ago. I finally got to catch up with the doctor and we increased the dose a little, which is generally OK. However, the tiredness that the medication was giving me before is still there and even worse. I’m sleepy so often, no matter how much I sleep at night, and getting up in the morning I feel like I could go right back to sleep again. Is there anything I can do to offset this a bit? Obviously I know I could nap and stuff but… I was hoping there might be a hack or two for this as I am really tired of being tired!

        1. ThatGirl*

          Good luck. My husband found he was dragging but B12 and exercise seem to have helped. If it doesn’t get better, though, don’t be afraid to tell your doctor – there are many options out there.

    1. mreasy*

      Ask your doctor for any other option. There are plenty of antidepressants out there and they all work differently on different brains and bodies. If it’s been several months and you’re still this tired, that is unlikely to be a side effect that will go away. Signed, someone who has been on basically every psychotropic med out there.

      1. coffee cup*

        I don’t think I could go through the initial side effects of another one! I had a lot worse to start off with. I’m not planning to be on them more than a year, so I’ll probably stick with it as it’s been nearly 6 months so far.

        1. Dr. Anonymous*

          Your doctor may also be able to augment with a low dose of a different medication that may boost you more and counteract the tiredness. Do call and ask and think about and then decide if you want to do it or not. It’s worth the discussion.

    2. Parenthetically*

      I don’t have any advice, but I have lots of solidarity. Started Zoloft in Feb, am tired all the time still. Between Zoloft, the allergy meds I have to take for my insane allergies, and a baby who still wants to eat at 2 am, I have never been so tired in my life. Crossing fingers for more energy for both of us!

    3. Miki*

      I can’t speak to the antidepressant part of it, but adjusting how much sunlight you get in the morning might help (more sunlight = more energy). I use a SAD lamp first thing, and when I use it consistently, I notice a difference in my energy levels (moreso in the winter of course, but I also have an evening work schedule so I get less light than usual right now in the summer). It’s not a hugely dramatic difference, but it helps—I’m normally very groggy in the morning for at least an hour. I’d talk to your doctor before mixing light therapy with antidepressants though, if you consider this route.

  27. CatCat*

    I’ve been following a mainly whole foods, plant-based diet for a little over a month after a health issue really motivated me to improve my health. So I’ve pretty much eliminated most processed foods though still working on reducing oil and very little salt.

    Does anyone else who eats this way have any favorite blogs for recipes for whole foods, plant-based eating?

    1. Alex*

      My favorite is Cookie and Kate! Many of her recipes are standards in my house. It is a vegetarian focused blog, but more often than not she gives vegan alternatives/ideas for recipes that have eggs or dairy.

    2. nep*

      I like nutriplanet–just beautiful to look at mostly, and inspiring. I’ve not tried any of the recipes though.
      Yay for doing away with processed foods!

    3. Pensive Athena*

      21-Day Vegan Kickstart app (free) and FOK recipes app ($4.99 one-time fee). Also, FOK has a quarterly magazine that I love! I like Engine 2 best for their oil-free salad dressings. Even if you aren’t diabetic, the book, Kick Diabetes, by Brenda Davis has good recipes. I love her Turmeric Tea concentrate, Omega-3 Rich Seed Mix, Nut Parmesan & Better Broth base. I have some pears ripening on the window sill to use in her Pear ‘Cream’ recipe. I hesitated on dropping oil since I just wasn’t sure how to cook without it. Now I replace it with broth or water and don’t even miss it. I recommend paying close attention to the spice combinations used in the recipes you try and then remember your favorite combinations/amounts for use in other recipes.

      1. Pensive Athena*

        Also, on YouTube checkout Jane Esselstyn. She does videos with her mom, Ann, which are relaxed, fun and informative. None of my suggestions are blogs, but they will all help you on your plant-based journey.

        1. nep*

          Oh, I’m glad you posted this–reminds me to check back on her videos from time to time. I was so enchanted by a couple of them I watched a while back, with her and her mom showing what they put in their oats and the like. Love the whole vibe.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      I’m a big fan of Dr. Fuhrman. His recipes can be too fancy but I love his science.

  28. Blue Eagle*

    Inflatable stand-up paddleboard.
    Well, it didn’t turn out like I was hoping. The post from last week about the “Body Glove Performer 11′ Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board Package” from Costco inspired me to check it out and then purchase it. Only thing was that I am not a Costco member so I needed my friend to purchase it for me.
    And by the time my friend got on the website to purchase it, when you added it to your cart you got the message “Item 2000999 is out of stock or unavailable to order”. And the same message showed up all week so it seems that they must have sold out of their entire stock. Rats.
    Anyone else have any recommendations of a paddleboard package around $400 that you have liked.

    1. CatCat*

      Bummmmmmmmer. They were out of stock when I first thought about it, but they came back in stock relatively quickly. I was browsing the other day thinking of someday replacing our kayaks and saw there’s a Body Glove inflatable kayak that coverts to a paddle board. Looks pretty neat, but was $500 rather than $400. But maybe another option.

    2. still napping*

      I bought the iRocker nautilas, or whatever their cheap model is. about $500. takes about 15-20 min for me to pump up. I bought it in the spring, and it was about a week delayed. Given the number of SUPs I see here I’m not surprised they’re sold out. What surprised me was how hard it was to find a waist-pack pfd. Good luck!

    3. Case of the Mondays*

      If you can spend $800 we have and love the entry level Great Lakes Paddleboard. They a more 50% cheaper at Eastern Seaboard Paddleboards. Comes with paddles and the bungee. They deliver to your house.

    4. Olive*

      I got one made by Pathfinder for a little under $300 on Amazon! It came with a pump, repaid patches, rudder, paddle, and a handy carrying case. Highly recommend :)

  29. Vina*

    Any recommendations for 80s or 90s comedies that aren’t traditional rom coms? We just watched Three Men and a Baby and In & Out again and were surprised how well they held up.

    What I don’t want is a rom com or something with a lot of sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. A lot of movies just haven’t aged well.

    1. Atheist Nun*

      The movies I remember laughing at most in the 1980s are Big, Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Mr. Mom. Caveat: I have not seen these films in years, so I do not recall details about racism, sexism, homophobia, or other intolerance. I suspect the final three films, at least, do have sexist/antifeminist situations.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I haven’t seen Mrs. Doubtfire in a while myself, but I just watched the “Disclosure” doco on Netflix recently (about transgender representation in film/tv) and they commented that it has some jokes that read pretty strongly as either anti-, or at least mocking of, transgender folks.

        1. Vina*

          It’s both anti-trans and horribly misogynistic. Sometimes I think Robin Williams was born far too soon. So much of his material just doesn’t age well at all.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Mel Brooks might be kind of in the same boat. Housemate and I were talking the other day about Blazing Saddles, for example. Whoo boy.

            1. Workerbee*

              Now I could be entirely missing the point, but it was always my impression that everything in Blazing Saddles was a deliberate send-up if not an in-your-face “attack” against bigotry, racism, etc.

              1. Vina*

                It is. That was the point. To point out how racist the American perception of its own history was.

                1. Vina*

                  Ps it famously killed the western precisely because it pointed out the absurd racist and whitewashing and jingoism.

                2. Vina*

                  The same underlying ethos of The song springtime for hitler. Song seems pro-hitler if you dint have the context.

                  Both the producers and blazing saddles dealt with racial prejudices through farce

                  Maybe modern audiences watching them don’t get that

              2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                Yeah, but that doesn’t mean the way it’s presented would be very well received today, is more where our conversation went.

                1. Vina*

                  The difference is that a lot of the other movies were racist/misogynistic/homophobic either by intent or by not thinking it through.

                  Blazing Saddles likely cannot be understood by a modern audience who didn’t live through a period where westerns were popular. They would not understand it as a farce and a criticism of those view. But that doesn’t put the movie in the same league as say, the racism in John Hughes movies.

                  Those movies were racist/homophobic/misogynistic even if not purposefully so. Blazing Saddles is purposefully anti-racist. People watching today might not get that. But it is, to me, all the difference in the world.

                  Also, I do think people listening to Richard Pryor today might not *get it* either. But that doesn’t make what he wrote something it wasn’t.

                  I don’t know if we are disagreeing, but your original comment could be read as viewing the movie as racist rather than viewing the movie as difficult/misinterpreted by a modern audience.

                  I think we need to be clear on something that is problematic b/c of what the writers/actors/directors did at the time and problematic b/c you can’t really understand what was being done if you don’t have context.

                  Again, if you play Springtime for Hitler for someone who has never seen The Producers, they might think it was a pro-Nazi song. That doesn’t make it so.

                  That’s not the same thing as, say, Gone With the Wind’s glorifying of the Antebellum South.

              3. Vina*

                PPS When Blazing Saddles came out, a lot of pro-Western white people absolutely refused to watch it. The people I know who watched it and hated it were all racist white folk.

                It is a satire of the American Western, in particular, how it presents a distorted lens of the American West. Sorta like how Confederate monuments are viewed by some as “our legacy” “our history.” Brooks was intentionally skewering that. His portrayal of the town folk as being racist was putting them in as a proxy for how Western audiences and white Americans viewed the Western and the West.

                Also, FTR, some of the more OTT racism by the whites directed toward the Sheriff by the white folks were written by Richard Pryor and based entirely on things he’d seen, heard, or experienced himself.

                People often forget Pryor’s direct and important contribution to that movie. It was directed by Mel Brooks, but the writing was done by a team. Pryor was there because he was an amazing comic writer. But he was also there to make sure that the representation of the racism toward black folks in the West was not toned down and neutered.

                If anything, the most racist thing about the movie is the relative absence of the First Nations. Of course, that may have been intentional as well.

          2. lazy intellectual*

            This thread reminds me…Matilda is a great movie! I think it came out in the ’90s and doesn’t have anything super offensive that I can remember? It is a movie about kids but I think adults can enjoy it if you like wholesome things. Not a rom com – more like a modern fairy tale.

        1. Vina*

          Just remember about Big: woman has sex with a boy in a mans body. She doesn’t know, but the audience does. Ick

      2. Clisby*

        Big? I couldn’t find anything funny about it. I kept feeling his mother’s anguish when she thought he’d been kidnapped.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      Working Girl was a chuckle. Nine to Five!
      Also Broadcast News, Mystic Pizza, St. Elmo’s Fire. Not traditional rom coms.

      Working Girl & Nine to Five in particular dealt with beating sexism in the workplace.

      1. Vina*

        Oh, 9 to 5 is amazing. would love to see that remade with a diverse cast of women, including trans and LGTBQ representation as well.

        Sooo…who should play the various roles? I mean, the only person I can see playing Dolly’s role is really Beyoncé.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Lizzo for Dolly. Beyonce isn’t right for any of them – too sexy for Lily, too assured for Jane, too understated for Dolly. Beyonce could maybe do Jane, but she’d really have to tamp down her confidence in the beginning.

          OTOH, it’s all kinda a play on the ‘maiden / mother / crone’ trope, and while it’s got some ‘yay overthrow the patriarchy’, I found the shoehorning a little off-putting. If they do it again, I want Lily’s widow character to get promoted *and* have some kind of passionate fling, and Jane’s character to be defined in the end by something other than her marital status.

          On the Other Other Hand – Pose already has a maiden / mother / crone crew ready to go, with Dominique / Mj / Indya. In many ways, that is the update.

          1. Altair*

            When I win the lottery I will hire you to make the 9 to 5 remake we all need and desire.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            There’s a musical of 9 to 5. Dolly wrote the songs. I don’t think a remake of the movie would add much but I’m very much in favor of diverse casting in the musical.

    3. mreasy*

      We just rewatched Ghostbusters and it continues to be a joy. An obvious choice, but so good! Also I was recently delighted to note that Blues Brothers didn’t have a lot of the racist/sexist elements you see in so many movies of the era. Weird, just realized Dan Aykroyd was involved in both.

      1. Vina*

        It is a joy.

        But I have two issues with fully embracing it. First is the treatment of the black man as an accessory rather than a character. The second is the Venkman is a date rapist played casually. At the tome, the a man carrying around Thorazine on a date had one purpose for it. So when he whips it out to drug Dana, it’s really something a lot of the audience missed, but the implication is still there.

        Of course, the movie was made at a fine where getting a woman drunk was not viewed yet as a consent violation by most people. So slipping it in a drink was likely to be overlooked and the woman blamed for her state

    4. MissGirl*

      I just watched While You Were Sleeping. I realized it not a love story between two people but about a family.

      1. ThatGirl*

        While You Were Sleeping holds up well. I agree with Blues Brothers too, and it’s still kinda relevant (I hate Illinois nazis)

      2. annakarina1*

        That is one of my favorite romantic comedy, and I love how the movie is more about a lonely woman who falls in love with a whole family, and feels accepted, not just about her getting the guy in the end, that’s like a bonus.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It’s been a hot minute since I watched any of them, but maybe the Back to the Future movies, or Clue?

    6. Max Kitty*

      Not a movie, but we’ve been enjoying the series The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

    7. I take tea*

      Oh, this is always hard. So many things that were funny once now just seem unkind or straight up nasty. But here are some that still are enjoyable:

      Big Business with Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin! It’s the favourite feel good movie in our house.

      The First Wives Club (we like Bette Midler). Sweet, sweet revenge.

      Dave, probably. It’s been a while since we watched it, but I remember it as intelligent and funny. The scene where the imposter president checks the budget is lovely.

      I loved The Full Monty, but it’s been a while, maybe somebody have watched it more recently and can say if there are any glaring horrors? I liked how it was funny, while still having a plot that was quite serious.

      Legally Blonde (ok, it’s 2001, but anyway). It starts out as a romantic comedy, but evolves into a story about being true to yourself and your strengths. Don’t confuse it with the musical, though, but do pick up the book by Amanda Brown.

      1. lazy intellectual*

        I love Legally Blonde, but I will say it has some outdated gay stereotyping. Not cruel I don’t think, but watching it now, I think the script around the gay character is a bit dim.

        1. I take tea*

          That’s unfortunately true, but it’s such a small bit of the movie that I tend to ignore it. It’s not as hammed up as in the musical, though (check out “Gay or European”, if you don’t know what I mean).

          1. Vina*

            So much casual misogyny, anti gay jokes, treatment of POC characters as accessories in 8s and90s films

    8. WellRed*

      It’s not a comedy but Practical Magic, circa 1997. I think it holds up well and has a lot to say about female empowerment, but it’s also fun (to me).

      1. Vina*

        I don’t know if you will see this, but I love that movie. I’m not p articulacy a fan of either Sandra or Nicole, but loved them both int hat movie.

    9. MadMaddy86*

      The Three Amigos!! it is with Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Chevy Chase. I just remember laughing hysterically throughout the entire movie (I was born in 1986 but my parents and older cousins introduced me to these films)
      What about Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part 2? that also has Steve Martin, Martin Short. There is My Cousin Vinny-so good!! While it has been at least 15 years since I have seen these- I remember these being funny- not quite sure if they aged well 100% but still worth seeing if you haven’t. Also check out Eddie Murphy films- Coming to America, trading places, beverly hills ninja, vampire in Brooklyn – anything pre nutty professor

      1. Vina*

        My cousin Vinny is a favorite of lawyers. One of my law school profs used it as a teaching tool

        1. MadMaddy86*

          I love it because it plays with misogynistic stereotypes! – Vina, I am curious to know specifically how this would be used as a teaching mechanism in the context of law school- can you elaborate?
          Another movie I forgot to recommend is Kindergarten Cop- i still quote “It is not a tumah” on the regular….

          1. Vina*

            If you google ABA (American Bar Association) and “12 pivotal movie scenes with lessons for lawyers,” I think they explain it fairly well.

            In short: you don’t have to have formal education to be an expert witness. It’s about how to establish that someone without the formal credentials can give expert testimony.

    10. NRG*

      The Burbs (Tom Hanks)
      All of Me (Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin)
      Ruthless People
      The First Wives Club
      Gross Pointe Blank
      Groundhog Day (might be in the rom com category? Maybe?)
      The Addams Family
      Galaxy Quest

      1. Vina*

        OMG morticia and Gomez in those films were couple goals. They just ooze sex AND love AND respect the entire movie.

      2. Liane*

        I loved All of Me.
        I am not the biggest Addams Family fan, but yes Morticia & Gomez are one of the best couple role models in the movie.

        A few months ago, Son & I watched Clue, which I had never seen. Hilarious!

        1. Liane*

          That was supposed to be “Morticia & Gomez are one of the best couple role models in the movies.”

    11. Anonymous Educator*

      90s comedies recs
      But I’m a Cheerleader
      East is East
      Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
      Flirting with Disaster
      The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
      The Hudsucker Proxy
      Muriel’s Wedding
      Serial Mom
      Peter’s Friends

      80s comedies recs
      Cane Toads: An Unnatural History
      Jumpin’ Jack Flash
      Tough Guys
      Fast Times at Ridgemont High

    12. Voluptuousfire*

      I’m thinking Serial Mom, the John Waters Classic. It’s very blue in parts but overall hilarious.

      Empire Records is a favorite.

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m a big fan of a lesser known movie, Tin Men, which I watched again recently. Barbara Hershey, Richard Dreyfuss, and Danny deVito are outstanding in this portrait of early 1960s aluminum siding scammers. It’s aged well with lots of witty, funny dialogue and Barbara Hershey as a sensible, strong woman who won’t be pushed around. It’s available on YouTube, not sure if you can find it elsewhere.

      1. NRG*

        I completely forgot about this movie! I remember liking it, I’ll have to see if I can find it.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Terrific music in this music, too. It ranges from Nat King Cole to Fine Young Cannibals.

    14. Not Australian*

      Seconding/thirding/nthing ‘Galaxy Quest’ and ‘Dave’ in particular, but I’m astonished nobody’s mentioned two of my all-time favourites – ‘Mystery Men’ (rubbish superheroes, fantastic cast including Ben Stiller, Geoffrey Rush and William H. Macy) and ‘My Fellow Americans’ in which two former US Presidents (James Garner and Jack Lemmon) go on a mad road-trip. The latter also has Lauren Bacall being Lauren Bacall, and Bradley Whitford not quite being Josh Lyman but clearly in training for the role.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Mystery Men! The scene with them sewing capes on treadles in the forest made this an annual must-see for my antiquarian sewing machine users group meetup. And tough as nails Janeane Garofalo is fantastic, arguing with her father’s spirit trapped in her bowling ball. Love that movie!

    15. pieforbreakfast*

      Defending Your Life – Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks falling in love after death (but before Heaven)

  30. Dog toe nail clipper rec?*

    Dog toenail clipper rec? Do you have a recommendation for dog toenail clippers? Our rescue dog is afraid of most things mechanical (kitchen appliances, vacuum, lawn mower), so I don’t think a grinder would work.

    1. Four-legged fosterer*

      I went to the petstore and bought the ones that said “made for grooming professionals” and they have held up well for 5 years. I don’t know about a particular brand as they vary by location but I think I paid $15 and they have stayed sharp longer than other pairs.

    2. The Green Lawintern*

      We just use regular dog nail clippers but if you’re worried about clipping dog nails for the first time, you could also try using a guillotine style clipper – they’re ostensibly easier to use. Just make sure to read the packaging/watch a youtube tutorial to make sure you don’t accidentally cut the quick!

      1. Four-legged Fosterer*

        The guillotine’s are notoriously not sharp and seem to cause more problems than they solve. Maybe they have improved in 20 years, but I remember that they were quite a problem.

    3. MechanicalPencil*

      I use Millers Forge, which I ordered from Amazon for under $5. They work wonderfully on my large dog’s macaroni noodle nails and cut itty bitty slivers, and they work just as well on my little hellion’s pencil thin nails. My trick is to give a treat after each paw (or nail, depending on level of comfort). Just a little something, not a whole jerky treat or whatever. Obviously copious amounts of praise.

      The guillotine style clippers crush before they cut, from what I’ve read, so it’s not a pleasant experience. I tested that out with the set my mom had, and that seemed to hold true — though that could just be that particular set.

  31. Lcsa99*

    Has anyone worn contacts with their masks? I am going to need to commute again twice a week, and I have been going back and forth between whether I should wear my glasses for the extra protection or if I should go back to using contacts so I don’t have to worry about them fogging up. I had pretty much decided that the fogging was too annoying so I was just going to do the contacts when I realized how high up my mask was sitting, so now I am worrying about the feasibility of wearing contacts with a mask. Maybe it is just my mask, or maybe I am crazy but I am now worried about it pushing up enough that it’ll make the contacts do weird things (fold or pop out or whatever). Again, I am aware I could be worrying about something ridiculous, but I am curious what other people experience is wearing contacts with a mask.

    1. blackcat*

      It sounds like the mask(s) you’re wearing don’t fit super well?

      A mask with some type of a nose piece (either wire or metal) should help with the fogging (but there are also methods for this–there are sprays and some people also recommend shaving cream baths for glasses).

      None of my masks are up close enough to my eyeballs to cause any issues at all with my contacts.

      I recommend trying out some different masks. You’ll also want more than one in general. My husband uses 2-3 per day he’s in the office. Child gets 4 per day for daycare.

      1. Taniwha Girl*

        Yes to nose wire: bend it on the bridge of your nose to create a V shape around your nose, then gently bend it away from your face on either side of the nose to create almost a W shape. This keeps the mask snug against your whole face, and air doesn’t escape up through the sides of your nose to fog your glasses.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      Are you thinking you need to wear a mask while driving? I ask because in my state, even with the mandate to wear a mask at all times when in public, our Governor was very clear that a mask is not required when you are inside a vehicle.

      But that said, if you choose glasses, you will reduce the fogging a bit if you tightly press the metal bar to shape snugly around the bridge of your nose, and THEN put your glasses on over it.

      As for contacts, I don’t think your mask would interfere with your contacts at all. I don’t wear contacts, but my masks never ride up or shift in a way that they come in contact with my eyes. As long and the ear loops are snug and the metal bar is snug, you should be fine.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        I’m thinking that they are using public transport to comute to work. You would need to wear a mask then.

    3. mreasy*

      I wear my contacts whenever I have to go on a long walk/trip to avoid the glasses fogging. (I have read all the tips and despite my mask fitting fine they still fog). I haven’t had any issues – but also your mask shouldn’t be getting into your eyes!

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Something is up with your mask. I wear contact lenses almost exclusively and have never had an issue or concern about the mask touching my lenses.

    5. KittyCardigans*

      My mask goes up high enough that it sometimes touches my bottom eyelids. It can be slightly uncomfortable, but I like it that way because it makes my glasses fog up less. However, I wore my contacts last week so I could wear sunglasses, and I had no problems with my contacts behaving strangely. Do you have a day when you’re going to be home where you could wear the mask and contacts for a few hours as an experiment?

    6. Not A Manager*

      I wear glasses. If I adjust the metal nosepiece so the mask hugs my nose, AND I wear the mask so that the bottom of my glasses overlaps the top of the cloth mask slights, I have no problems with fogging.

      I suggest this since you seem to prefer the added protection of the eyeglasses.

      1. hermit crab*

        Yes to overlapping with your glasses! I’m a full-time glasses-wearer, and I find that I have negligible to zero fogging when I tuck the top of my mask under my glasses frames, even when I wear a mask with no nosepiece. It looks a little weird but whatever! I think it also helps the mask stay in place.

    7. ThatGirl*

      I wear contacts all the time and have never had a mask be a problem, so I’m confused …. it shouldn’t be that close to your eyes.

    8. Courageous cat*

      I definitely think you’re overthinking this. I don’t know anyone who wears contacts (including me) who has ever had anything even close to a problem. Unless your mask is literally touching your eyeball on a regular basis, then don’t think a second more about it!

    9. RagingADHD*

      Your mask should not be touching your eyelids or eyelashes, any more than you should be rubbing your eyes and touching your face.

      You need to try different styles of mask or get one with nose wire. That is a concerningly bad fit.

    10. Thankful for AAM*

      I wear a face shield at work in addition to a mask. I had to fiddle with the headband a bit to get a good fit, but I barely notice it now.

      I just wore it to the store and did not notice any stares. Bc I have to physically go to work, my spouse is doing all the grocery shopping so it was my first time in a store in a while.

      1. Face Shield Fashion*

        I was going to suggest a face shield as well. If you search for the term, you will find websites that sell them. I predict that over the next few months, we will start to see more people wearing them in public. We’ll look like we’re in the Jetsons!

    11. NRG*

      It sounds like the mask is too large. I have this issue with “standard” size masks. That size is based on a large man face. I have a “teen” sized mask that fits my slightly but not really that much smaller than average woman size, woman face. See if you can find a smaller mask.

    12. Miki*

      Just want to say I also have the same problem with a mask going high enough to press into the bottoms of my eyelids – people, it’s a real issue! That is how the hospital issued surgical masks (with noseclip!) ride up on my face, especially during a long shift. It’s a combination of having a small face and perhaps the shape of my nose and size of ears. Things that might help: masks where the part that covers the nose goes up higher (rather than the straight across style), masks that go around your head instead of ears, smaller mask.

  32. Myrin*

    I wanted to give an update to a situation I asked advice about last week – the comment in question is here; the short version is that someone who I’d been internet friends with for ten years reached out to me again after two or three years of basically no contact and while I thought she’d wanted to catch up, her email ended up mostly being about whether I could write her a recommendation for a business she’s starting.

    You guys’ wonderful advice did not only provide me with clarity in looking at the situation but also with some incredible wording, some of which I used verbatim. It was very anticlimactic – I replied to her email on early Monday morning and so far (it’s Saturday afternoon here right now), I haven’t heard from her at all. I have to admit I’m a little surprised by that because it seems very atypical of her but then again, maybe that shows that during the last years she did change in a direction that doesn’t quite align with the values of the person I knew anymore. In any case, I’m also kinda glad that she hasn’t responded because that makes it that much easier for me to just leave that whole weirdo situation behind me.

    Thank you again so much for all of your helpful advice and encouraging words, I really appreciated every single answer I got!

    1. Myrin*

      Oh, duh, I just realised that I didn’t mention what I ended up writing. I decided to do a mix of what I already had in mind and some of the things you all suggested. I said that I was taken aback by the sales-y tone of her email and that while her blog was an incredibly important first step in finding my own feminism (which is true – it was literally what introduced me to modern-day feminism and it would’ve stayed a very happy place in my memory if not for this incident), I never felt that we had a “coaching” relationship and that I was surprised by her phrasing it that way and that because of that, I’m neither able nor willing to write a testimonial for her. I wished her luck for her business as well as her surgery – both things I genuinely feel, even if I was disappointed by how this “reunion” turned out – and then left it at that.

    2. WS*

      Disappointing, but unfortunately not surprising. I’m sorry she changed so much, but good on you for not putting up with the sales pitch.

  33. Casey*

    Anyone have any favorite camping recipes?

    Going for one night by myself in an area that’s often in the “moderate” fire danger or greater, so a mix of stuff that requires a fire and not would be great!

    (Also I don’t eat nuts, which I know are very popular, but feel free to share those recipes for anyone else who may be interested!)

    1. Vina*

      Are you carrying it in or near a car? Because if you don’t have to pack it on your back, my advice is very different than if you are hiking in. For car-camping:

      Pasta. Easy to heat water over a campfire and then toss int he sauce to warm it up.

      Take a cast iron skillet and make campfire pizza with one of those pre-made crusts.

      Chili and vegetable-based soups.

      Cured meats, stable cheese, crackers, and grapes. Bonus if you can chill your white wine in the local river.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Are you bringing a camp stove, or will you be relying on a campfire (if possible) to cook your food? If it’s a campfire, will there be a grate over it, or will it just be the fire?

      1. Casey*

        Campfire, no stove, grate assumed (it’s a fairly popular area but I haven’t seen the campsite in person)!

        1. Not A Manager*

          We like what used to be called “hobo packs,” which is several layers of aluminum foil (do use several, or the contents will scorch) filled with meat, veggies, seasonings and a little oil. Wrap them up tight, and cook them in coals.

          You can literally do anything. When we’re cooking for a crowd, we sometimes bake the ingredients separately. Things that work well are thin sliced potatoes, thin sliced onions, quartered mushrooms, almost any animal protein, corn off the cob, tomatoes, zucchini. Broccoli is good too.

          If you’re making everything in one packet, slice the longer-cooking items thinner than the quicker-cooking ones.

          Couscous is a nice accompaniment to most dishes as you basically are soaking it in hot liquid (I bring one bullion cube with me, and use bits of it as flavoring) for five minutes.

          I like one-pot meals like quinoa or couscous with sautéed sausage and veggies cooked in the same pot.

          If you can’t use heat, then you’ll need to have sandwiches or wrap-type things. We like tortillas rolled around meat and cheese.

    3. Jonah*

      When I go on short camping or hiking excursions, I really get a kick out of eating fancy, no cook stuff. I’ve been known to assemble a cheese board in the woods with some good crusty bread, cheeses, hot pepper jam, cured meats, and fruit. It usually takes up minimal space, and I can use the leftovers for sandwiches later.

      1. Parenthetically*

        THIS!! We did allllll the posh cheese and charcuterie on our first big camping trip as a couple and it felt so fancy and indulgent.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Kabobs of some sort would be good over a campfire with a grate. You could marinate the meat (or alternative) and keep in a bag in your cooler ahead of time. Have a separate bag of chopped veg (peppers, onions, zucchini, etc). Thread on sticks and put on the grate.

    5. Jackalope*

      Related, you may also know this but I was excited to get the idea to freeze a bunch of water bottles the night before and use those to keep food cool, then have amazingly cold drinking water.

    6. Aurora Leigh*

      Our favorite non traditional camping food is quesadillas! We bring canned chicken, taco seasoning, canned mushrooms, canned olives, shredded cheese and cook in a pie iron over the fire (just need to melt the cheese, would be perfectly safe eaten cold). We also do pizza pockets this way (just sub in pepperoni).

      Hot dogs and hamburgers are the quintessential camping foods! And we’ve also brought canned soup or chef boyardee for an easy meal.

      1. Sam I Am*

        Our camping crew does quesadillas quite a bit, I like your pie plate method. We use one of those fish grill baskets instead, the kiddos can assemble the food themselves and the handle sticks out so they don’t have to lean into the fire pit to flip it. Keeps it intact until fully melted too. I’m vegetarian, this particular grate hasn’t been used for any fish (or other meat), which I also enjoy as cleaning stuff at camp is different from at home.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          Ooh, that kind of basket might actually work better! Will have to experiment on our next trip! We’ve also made breakfast sandwiches in the pie irons to with an egg and potato hashbrowns

    7. Dancing Otter*

      I remember making “pioneer drumsticks” in Girl Scout camp. It’s just ground beef – add seasonings to taste and egg to hold it together – on a stick over the fire, shaped like a sausage or hot dog. Made by 10-year-olds, generally lumpy, but as long as it doesn’t fall off into the fire…. Rotate often to cook evenly. Serve in hot dog buns, or eat straight from the stick.
      As an adult, driving into the campsite, we took the small size Weber to cook pretty much whatever we would cook on a grill at home. Corn on the cob, de-silked, buttered, and wrapped back in the husk and foil, is amazing.
      I knew someone who bakes cakes in a Dutch over on a camp stove, but I never tried it myself.

  34. Nicki Name*

    We’re a bit over halfway through the year. Have you been able to keep your New Year’s resolutions? Did the plague present insurmountable obstacles to them? Did you find a creative way of keeping them?

    Mine to not respect Daylight Savings Time has been easy to keep… a week after the switch to DST, my whole office switched to work-from-home and now with no commute (though I do take a walk around the neighborhood before work) it doesn’t matter if I’m getting up an hour “later” or not.

      1. Nicki Name*

        I was coming into the office at 8:15, so after the time change I was coming in at 9:15. My office doesn’t have meetings before 9:30 so it had no effect besides me not being short on sleep. There was a bit less traffic to deal with too.

    1. WellRed*

      My biggest was to lose weight (such a cliche). I’ve managed to lose about 10 pounds so far and honestly, I think the pandemic helped. Couldn’t eat out, cut way back on drinking, and no boredom/stress eating in the office. At home, I can water plants or throw in a load of laundry.
      Every year, I vow to read more nonfiction. I just read Wild (lovelovelove) and before that Brotopia.

    2. Sunset Maple*

      Mine was to continue my weight loss, and quarantine was a huge boon. IF was so much easier when I could sleep in two hours later and didn’t need to commute, having fresh food at hand in my home kitchen was a dream, and keeping the house a reasonable temperature prevented me from comfort snacking to assuage the misery of arctic A/C.

      Now I’m back in the office, and angry about it.

    3. lazy intellectual*

      I don’t know if it was a “resolution” per se but I wanted to date more this year, because I had the the time to do it properly for the first time in years. LOL

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Four months of blursdays have done me in on the year’s quest to be better about home paperwork. I dropped my tax materials off in early March…but my appointment was for March 14 and that got Covid-cancelled…and I’m only just getting around to looking for the last missing papers, so I guess I’ll be filing for an extension again. I hate this about myself.

    5. TPS reporter*

      I vowed to stop buying my nails in January and have actually stuck to it! I used a lot of bitter nail polish at first. I find that overall I’m less stressed working from home . I would often bite in the car from or to work.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Glad it’s working for you. My mother’s approach was painting her nails with white iodine (denatured). Results were mixed, as she stopped biting and switched to picking at her nails instead. Don’t fall into that trap!
        I think seeing the state of her nails probably curbed any such tendencies I might have had.

    6. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      Mine were to journal every day and stay off Instagram and Twitter- I’ve pretty much journaled every day, which has been cool! I got back on Instagram because I was feeling isolated due to the pandemic, and have mixed feelings about that. But journaling has been great for my brain and I think it will be interesting to have a record of this time.

  35. Choggy*

    Anyone here live in a 55+ community in Florida, especially one on the Treasure Coast? Hubby and I were there in March (it was great, all things considered by the time we got back!), we stayed in Palm City, but really liked Vero Beach, and some areas of Port St. Lucie. Just looking for some insight from someone who lives there. Thank you!

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I live south of there and can give some input. What info are you looking for?

      1. Choggy*

        Just looking for an idea of the lifestyle, have you always lived in FL or did you move there? How bearable is the weather in summer? Any positives or negatives to living there? Thank you.

        1. Jenny*

          I grew up in Florida and I will say, the summer weather is unbelievably hot and humid, and it rains pretty much every day at about 4PM. On the other hand, we would go swimming on Christmas.

        2. Thankful for AAM*

          I moved here in 1994. It is hot and humid but I find I am used to it. It is like winter in the north east, you learn to not go out as much in the winter. In summer, we stay inside in the day and do outside things in the early morning or evening.

          I love it here. It can be just as crazy as the Florida-man news reports suggest. But I kind like that side of it. It is great to be out of the winter and outside most of the year.

          I think it is really just like any other place for most things but office dressing is much less formal, so are casual clothes!

          Negatives, I mean, the covid situation and the fact that we are the new epicenter and our political leaders are basically ignoring and are refusing to allow public records about it to be released is pointing to some problems. A friend works at an area hospital and says the morgue is full, bodies are in the hallways, and staff are stressed and depressed.

          Hurricanes are a concern for new florida residents but we get so much warning that you dont get for say earthquakes or tornados that I’d take hurricane territory any day.

          1. Choggy*

            Hi there, thanks for the info. We aren’t planning a move to FL for a few more years yet, so I’m gathering as much information as possible now. We’ve visited other areas of FL, but I really liked the Treasure Coast the best so far. We’ll keep doing our due diligence and (hopefully) make the best decision when the time comes. When we were there in March, while Covid was ravaging other areas of the country, I think there was a handful of cases on the Treasure Coast, so thought it might be spared the worst of it though I know Florida is being greatly affected now. Very scary regardless of where you are without long-term solution. Opening Disney in FL will probably just fan the flames unfortunately.

            1. Ron McDon*

              We holiday in Florida every year; last year we stayed in Port St Lucie and loved it. Everyone we met was so friendly, there is a great shopping/restaurant area, and the beaches are very close and so quiet.

              I’d love to go back, but my husband and son don’t enjoy the beach and prefer going to Orlando for the theme parks :(

  36. Casual cyclist*

    Is there such a thing as a bicycling club or organization that doesn’t think that every ride must be a race or a super cardio workout? My wife and I like to ride, but we like to coast downhill and downshift going uphill. We also stop to take in interesting sights along the way. Experiences I’ve had with cycling clubs; that seems to be frowned upon.

    1. Suggestion*

      Maybe start one! MeetUp might work for that. Could be a great way to connect, see the sights, and get some exercise on your terms.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      I have a friend who leads rides for a local cycling club. She usually does the Friday “short ride to a lunch place” trip. The group rates rides according to various intensities, and there are definitely more meandering / ambling pace rides. However, I don’t think any of them regularly stop along the way to look at sights — only for water/snack breaks. It’d be too hard to balance how long different people want to take a break, I think, and sometimes you don’t want to lose momentum. Plus I know her club isn’t doing group rides right now because of Covid. So maybe you could do a ride with the group to learn the route, and then go with your wife to stop and look around at your leisure.

    3. voyager1*

      Where I live yes. Have you considered bikepacking or randoneeuring? Most gravel riding is pretty chill where I live. Reach out to the LBS where you love.

      1. Anon-a-souras*

        Voyager1- could you elaborate? I want to get off bike paths and onto trails more, but need some motivation and friends to do it with. (My brand of anxiety often manifests in all the things that will go wrong if I do things all by myself. I get past it plenty, but I’d love a low key bike group too.

        1. university minion*

          Start with finding one person to join you. So much of me being comfortable riding with people is knowing how they ride and being able to anticipate their movements. That does limit my circle a bit (no big deal during COVID, since I’m not riding in groups anyway), but nothing ruins a ride faster than being stuck in the vicinity of an unsafe rider.

    4. university minion*

      The words you want to look for are “Beginner ride” or “Social Ride”.

      If you are interested in riding in a group, you may need to accept that you’ll be getting your heart rate up a bit. In the interest of safety, it’s a bad idea to do anything in a sudden manner, which is what coasting downhill or sudden downshifts are. A good beginner group will have a few knowledgeable people there to teach you the safety etiquette of riding in groups.

    5. TechWorker*

      Yep, ‘leisure cycling’ is another phrase to look for. Personally my problem is that I’ve found groups who like to pootle and groups who like to go a lot faster than me and there is a huuuge gap inbetween which is my ideal cycle pace :p but pootling is pleasant.

  37. aarti*

    Husband and I are currently debating about whether or not to stick to our planning of trying to get pregnant this summer. He’s very worried about the increased Covid risk (especially since some hospitals in our country have been requiring pregnant women with Covid to get c-sections and other scary stuff like that). I think that the world will look different 9+ months from now when we’re actually having the kid and also he’s 42, I’m 34 and I’m nervous about delaying another year or more.

    Anyone else having these discussions right now? How are you making these decisions?

    1. RagingADHD*

      There is no “right” time to have a kid, no risk-free way to deliver them, and no way of knowing how long it will take you to get pregnant.

      Some people get surprises when they weren’t trying. Some people get pregnant in a month or 2. Some take over a year, etc.

      You’ll have plenty of time to figure out your hospital options, including the possibility of staying somewhere else in your last trimester, if it’s closer to the hospital you want.

      If you both want kids, go for it. Pregnancy & parenting are huge, awesome lessons in how much of life you can’t control.

      1. Double A*

        We’re actively trying for a second. I’m 37 in a few weeks, my husband is 39 so I feel like waiting is not an option. I actually feel like it’s a pretty good time to be pregnant and have an infant because both involve the desire or necessity to kind of stay home. Hospitals are figuring out how to make maternity wards safe and supportive, and I feel this will only be more true as time goes on.

        I also tell myself that people have been having kids under much worse conditions for all of human history. And the pandemic has made us all the more certain we want more than one.

        1. D'Euly*

          I gave birth seven weeks ago and utterly second this comment – I am lucky enough to have circumstances that mean the stay-at-home has made postpartum so much easier. I’m also shocked that a hospital would require a C-section because of COVID. Mine had testing of expectant moms, limited visitors to one labor partner who wasn’t allowed to leave, and had everyone wear masks, and it was totally fine. If it’s only some hospitals that require this, is it possible for you to inquire about that protocol along with your other concerns when you’re selecting an OB-GYN?

            1. Observer*

              If that’s actually what is happening, it IS insane – and I think that hospitals will be forced to walk that back. It’s going to take people raising the roof, but it can happen.

              Here in NYC at the height of the spike, hospitals were both doing some ridiculous stuff, and also floating some trial balloons. The trail balloons mostly fizzled, and they were forced to walk back at least one major issue.

          1. aarti*

            We’re in India and there’s already a disturbing trend of doctors pressuring women to have c-sections, even before the pandemic. So we’ll be doing a lot of research before choosing a doctor/centre.

            1. Observer*

              So you have a situation where doctors are NOT following evidence based medical procedures. Even so, blanket rules requiring a c-section are so ridiculous that I think that can be pushed back on.

              But, yes, absolutely, DO do your homework.

        2. Natalie*

          I agree. I have a 12 week old and went back to work this week and it’s honestly kind of great. She’s home with me and I work during her many, many naps, plus babysitting sometimes. We’re saving a bunch of money on daycare, I get to spend more time with my daughter, and breastfeeding (or pumping in my case) is 1000 times easier. Plus all the stuff people have put in place to avoid close contact – curbside pickup, online classes, socializing on a walk – are all things that make life with an infant a helluva lot easier too.

          My grandfather turned 101 this year, he was born during the 1920 flu epidemic. His brother, his only sibling, died in World War II. I never met his mother, of course, but I think about her a lot.

      2. aarti*

        That’s also what I’m thinking. Sure we can wait a year but then what if it takes a year or more after that to get pregnant? We’re both having to get better at embracing the unknown.

    2. Sleepwakehopeandthen*

      We are going for it. Who knows how long it will take (we actually started trying the first month of the pandemic) and we 100% want kids

    3. WellRed*

      I don’t think hospitals can just require women to get C-sections can they? There’s no right time to have a kid.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Legally it’s iffy, but I’ve known people who’ve basically been told that they either have to have a C-section or they have to leave the hospital, and when you’re in labor I can’t imagine leaving and going to a different hospital (if that’s even an option in the area!) is an attractive proposition.

      2. D3*

        They do. Around here, lots of doctors have used the COVID epidemic to refuse to do a VBAC (vaginal birth after a cesarean) which ethically should be the parent’s choice. There’s no reason for it, and in fact it seems to me that unnecessary surgery and a longer hospital stay would be a bad idea…)
        It’s super frustrating as parents have been fighting for the right to decide about VBAC vs repeat cesarean for about 20 years.
        There have been cases where hospitals have forced cesareans by refusing to provide the vaginal birth services. There have even been cases where hospitals and doctors have *involved the police* when they scheduled a cesarean the parents did not want or agree to and the parents just didn’t show up. (Google Lisa Epsteen)
        There have been cases when hospitals threaten to call child protective services and have the baby taken away if parents don’t agree.
        Pregnant people are frequently disregarded and treated only as a container for the baby. Their rights and opinions are frequently overridden or ignored.
        So they might not legally have the authority to require it, it happens ALL THE TIME.

        1. Observer*

          Around here, lots of doctors have used the COVID epidemic to refuse to do a VBAC (vaginal birth after a cesarean) which ethically should be the parent’s choice. There’s no reason for it, and in fact it seems to me that unnecessary surgery and a longer hospital stay would be a bad idea…)

          This is not just ethically “iffy”, it’s flat out unconscionable. There is simply no evidence that Covid makes a vaginal birth more dangerous in the absence of other risk factors (and if a woman is already a decent vbac candidate, then it is NOT a risk factor in this context). And pushing a woman into unnecessary surgery is ALWAYS ethically wrong. In a context like this, where is actually RAISES the risks, both for the mom and EVERYONE ELSE, it’s ridiculous.

          1. Observer*

            Sorry, I see I messed up on the italics tag.

            To make it easier to read I’m repeating the part *I* wrote.

            This is not just ethically “iffy”, it’s flat out unconscionable. There is simply no evidence that Covid makes a vaginal birth more dangerous in the absence of other risk factors (and if a woman is already a decent vbac candidate, then it is NOT a risk factor in this context). And pushing a woman into unnecessary surgery is ALWAYS ethically wrong. In a context like this, where is actually RAISES the risks, both for the mom and EVERYONE ELSE, it’s ridiculous.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      I’m long past kids (I’m grandma age). One thing I have learned is that there is no right time to have a child.

      That might be one of the most important lessons about parenting; you don’t control things the same way, someone else has a big impact on the timetable.

      I feel like there is a second lesson in there about fear; fear that you cannot control everything and keep everyone perfectly safe. Kids have to ride bikes and climb trees and be given the space to develop their own sense of what is safe to them and what is not.

      I knew a mom who was terrified of bugs but helped her 2 year old dig them up and explore and learn about them. Her hands literally vibrated in fear but she did it. I was always so impressed by her.

      Covid is not bugs in the garden but focus in what brings you joy.

    5. Fiona*

      Ooh thank you for posting this! If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic and my husband wasn’t job searching, we’d be talking more urgently about conceiving – I’m 34 and my husband is 36. We both want kids in the abstract but have been putting it off for a while since we didn’t feel ready. (I know, I know, nobody is really ever “ready”). I don’t really want to get pregnant or give birth in these current conditions, where people would have to quarantine before they could see the baby or I would perhaps be restricted from having a doula in the room, etc. But then if we wait until there’s a vaccine and I can’t conceive, will I regret waiting? My husband and I have been on the same page for the most part, but I think I’ll end up wanting to start earlier than him. It’s so tough. He wanted to wait until he had a job, but given the pandemic, who knows when that will be…

    6. ...*

      I just turned 30 and since I had to delay my wedding by a year, definitely holding out on considering this until after my wedding which is in 14 months. A friend had a great experience giving birth during Covid, but the idea of being pushed into a c-section or forced to give birth in a mask would probably be enough for me to delay. I see in your comment you’re 31 so I don’t think delaying by a year would be a huge deal. Your husband is older but I think my dad was like 45 when I was born and he’s been a great dad and it never held him back from doing things with us at all.

      1. aarti*

        Yeah I’m not so worried about my fertility more that there were a lot of professional, personal and family reasons that having a kid this year was a good idea which is why we were planning for it. The pandemic adds new wrinkles but doesn’t completely change things.

    7. Toronto parent*

      We’re currently debating about trying to conceive our second (our first is almost two). We planned to start this month and I got a little cold feet so we’ve pushed it off to next month. I don’t want to wait too long as we don’t want too big of a gap between kids.

      My concerns are not so much around getting sick ourselves as we are not high risk, but around the experience of having a baby during this time, like my husband not being allowed at appointments (though I do think that it will be easier to accept as a second time mom when I already know what I’m in for). I’m also terrified of possibly being separated from my baby if I was sick/exposed (though so far the guidelines in Canada allow for a mother to still breastfeed and be with her infant, thank goodness). My child also goes to daycare, so that will increase our risk somewhat.

      Canada is handling cases pretty well right now, so I feel more secure than I would in parts of the US. But it’s so impossible to know what the world will look like in 9 months. At some point, I’ve just decided that the overall picture for our family (two kids) should generally dictate what we do next, rather than the situation right now. Hopefully that will be the right call.

    8. Jenny*

      Going against the grain: I originally planned on considering a second around this time and: no way. There’s evidence COVID attacks the placenta and can be transferred to the fetus. You may also be facing giving birth with this still going on meaning no visits or people to help, no in person lactation consultants. There is some evidence pregnant women are higher risk too.

      Yeah, there’s no good time to have a baby, but without my mom flying in and help from a lactation consultant who came to my apartment I probably would have fallen apart.

      1. aarti*

        Thanks for this perspective. That’s definitely the position my husband has right now. I see where he (and you!) are coming from but I also have to wonder what the plan is moving forward if a vaccine doesn’t get developed or takes a longer time. Maybe I can wait 6months or a year without a lot of regrets. But two? Three? Five?

        1. Jenny*

          I am hoping at least in a year people will have buckled down and fixed the bad policies that are causing the virus to run rampant now. Maybe not a vaccine but cases are exploding in the US (my own in laws are suspected cases in Florida). I would at least wait until this crazy upswing stops.

      2. Natalie*

        I gave birth in April and was able to have a support person and an in person lactation consultant. We weren’t allowed visitors in the postpartum ward, but we were only there for ~36 hours so it wasn’t that big of a deal, ultimately.

        1. Jenny*

          I needed extra help and had a lactation consultant who came to my apartment. My family also lives in another state so my mom wasn’t with me in the hospital, she flew in a couple days later. Neither would be possible right now.

          I also wouldn’t write off being able to go to prenatal fitness classes. They helped a lot.

          I will also note two is very different from one as I am currently balancing childcare and working full time. I’m already tired and couldn’t imagine adding first trimester tired in top of that.

    9. LegallyRed*

      At 31, I would probably wait and see how things play out with COVID-19 over the next few months. I’d also talk to my healthcare provider — especially if I already had an OB/GYN — about any concerns related to the virus and to ask questions about how a COVID-positive patient would be treated during labor and after delivery. You may also be able to get some baseline fertility testing done to see how urgently you need to get started. (In the US, insurance would probably require that you try to conceive for 12 months before paying for the testing, but you could pay out of pocket for some
      basic bloodwork without completely breaking the bank.)

      I am currently pregnant but I conceived in January before COVID was on anyone’s radar. (I’m also 39 so I’m not sure how long I would have delayed TTC due to the virus.) I have difficult pregnancies due to hyperemesis, so being in lockdown has been helpful because it means that my partner has been available 24/7 to help care for my medical needs. I think that if this were my first baby, I would feel like I was missing out on more of the rituals of being pregnant. (For example, my partner is rarely allowed to accompany me to appointments, including ultrasounds.) But as it is, it’s been okay for me.

    10. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Are you sure they are requiring csections? Like is it on their website as part of their COVID response? If so I would stay clear of that hospital and check with your doctor. I’ve never given birth, but from what I understand there can be more complications from c section, you have a longer recover time, and it’s harder to give birth a 2nd time naturally.
      Also, wouldnt there be more risk with the c section. Isn’t there a lot of people in the the delivery room if doing c section. ( anesthesia, more nurses, and doctor) than if yiu did it natural. From someone I know who’s pregnant now the hospital.is.limiting to just mom and 1 support person, the doctor and a nurse or 2.
      Just like you would want to do anyways, research the hospital. Good luck!

      1. Observer*

        There is no doubt that requiring c-sections for covid positive patients is absolutely NOT about the health and safety of the patient. It’s also not really about the health and safety of anyone else. What is it about it is about the short sighted convenience of the doctor – doing a c-section is easier and faster and pays better than a vaginal birth.

        It’s short sighted, because there are a lot of problems that are likely to come back to bite the doctors. But when you are dealing with a profession / professional cohort that CLAIMS to be scientific but regularly ignores science when it suits them, it’s not surprising that this happens. And the pressure for c-section in general is ABSOLUTELY about OB’s ignoring science and evidence for their own benefit.

    11. Ann*

      I think if you’re concerned about the consequences of delaying and you’re otherwise ready, you should go for it. I’m in the USA and 18 weeks pregnant now with a surprise “quarantine baby” and so far things have gone well.

      On the plus side, working virtually from home has allowed me to sidestep morning sickness in the workplace and squeeze in extra naps. This year is also going to be a less-than-stellar one in terms of advancing my career specifically because of COVID restrictions on in-person work, so as silly as it seems, I’m glad to be gestating because I feel like I’m doing something productive while stuck at home. The timing works out well for various other personal reasons too.

      On the con side, my husband hasn’t been able to attend any OB appointments, but that hasn’t been a big deal. It’s our second child so he’s seen how it goes. We are being extra careful about social distancing, but we would have been doing that anyway since some people in our household are immunocompromised. It is definitely hard not being able to see family in person, or have them come to help when baby arrives – they live across the country and I don’t want them traveling to us. It’s also hard not having any childcare for my older child.

      Even though this baby wasn’t planned I’m pleased with the way things are working out, on the whole. If you’ve considered all the factors I think it’s perfectly reasonable to try if that’s what you want.

    12. Generic Name*

      My husband and I are currently trying to get pregnant. I am concerned about the risk, but I’m 41, so I don’t feel like I have the luxury putting it off.

  38. Flabbernabbit*

    Anyone else only putting eye makeup on due to masks? I don’t bother with make up when I’m at home or during walks outdoors. But makeup just doesn’t play nice with masks, especially light coloured ones. So my only goal is to minimize panda eyes when I see real people in person. Anyone relate or have tips?

    1. nep*

      Yeah–the other day I was powdering my face and doing my usual bit of makeup, then I thought, with sunglasses and my black mask, very little of this face shows anyway.
      I definitely worry less about how ‘polished’ my look is because of the mask. But I do continue to put the bit of eye makeup I normally would, despite the dark sunglasses…

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Yes, I relate. I use eye makeup only because I don’t want makeup all over my masks.

    3. Lora*

      Yes! I use liquid or cream eyeshadow in summer – everything else gets sweated off in the 100% humidity. And waterproof mascara. There are crazy fun colors out now, and since “going out” consists of taking out recycling and going to Walgreens, I don’t care about wearing earth tones or whatever to be Professional. Been going crazy with blues, greens, purples.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        What brand of cream eyeshadow do you favour? Years and years ago Cargo used to do cream eyeshadows that I LOVED, but they discontinued them and I never found anything I liked quite as much, and it’s been a huge bummer!

        1. Lora*

          Well, I’ve been using cheap drugstore Maybelline and L’Oreal, so…normally for work I smear on some neutralish beige whatever and black or brown liner, thst fancy blinc mascara and call it done. Figured since I only go out once a week for a couple of hours tops, no sense in spending on good stuff.

      2. Flabbernabbit*

        Fun mascara colours, you mean? That would be amazing. I’m missing getting my eyelashes tinted. They are long, but more pale than my hair. Also, me too on the brand of cream eyeshadow. I’ve been looking for a good one.

    4. CTT*

      I haven’t been wearing anything other than moisturizer and sunscreen. In the Before Times, I almost always wore brightly colored lipstick, and I’m almost in mourning that I can’t really do that anymore without really making a mess of the inside of my mask. (Obviously there are bigger problems associated with the pandemic than that, but some days the accumulation of little things really gets to me.)

    5. Thankful for AAM*

      Not only do I not wear make up, I apparently decided to grow a beard. I’m a woman with a lot of facial hair.

      Every time I thought about plucking, I realized I was wearing a mask so I could just do it later. I just looked yesterday. It was a surprise!

    6. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Any suggestions for eye makeup? I have allergies so I don’t usually put eye makeup on, just foundation and powder. But I’m thinking I might want to do some stuff with eyes now that I will have to wear mask at work. Anyone else have alerties and have recommendations for eye makeup. FyI I suck at maskara.

    7. matcha123*

      I generally do not wear foundation because most of the ones I find don’t match my skin tone.
      But only doing brows (or not at all) has been pretty nice!

    8. Dancing Otter*

      I use a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen. It only comes off on things when it hasn’t dried or when I’m sweating it off. Since I only wear a mask once between washings, a little moisturizer isn’t a big deal to me.
      My eye doctor has recommended eye drops due to dry eyes and irritation. If there’s a way to administer eye drops without messing up eye makeup, I haven’t mastered it. Now and then I try yet another brand of mascara, hoping for non-smearing and non-irritating in one. Ha!

  39. Sunflower*

    Anyone live/spent time in Charleston, SC? What do you love and hate about it?

    I currently live in NYC but always wanted to give living in Charleston a try once I was ready to leave here. A few months ago, it seemed like it was the perfect time to give it a try with everything going on(and no end in site). I’m hoping as the weather gets cooler up here, there will be more options for outdoor activities and I can still easily head back up north when need be. My thoughts are to not renew my lease here, sell my furniture and sublet or do a long-term Airbnb for at least a few months.

    PS- I am aware of where SC is in the COVID pandemic and their government and I’ll plan to take the status into consideration before I make any moves.

    1. nep*

      I’ve never been, but just this week I learned of a tree there–the Angel Oak. For me it would be worth a road trip to SC solely to be in the presence of that tree.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Ive only visited there, but it’s lovely. The restaurants & arts/theater scene are great.

      Be prepared for truly ungodly amounts of mosquitoes and midges. I made the mistake of attending an outdoor wedding in the lowcountry near Charleston without bug repellent. My legs looked like hamburger for 2 weeks.

      1. WellRed*

        Ugh. Though I side-eye the happy couple for not providing copious amounts of bug repellent to their guests.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Possibly they did. I was roadtripping in, got held up by blinding rain and wrecks, and more or less skidded into my seat as the ceremony was starting. I missed all the orientation.

      2. Sunset Maple*

        The insects are something else. Palmetto bugs fell on our heads constantly when we took a vacation there. I think my husband was traumatized. Giant cockroaches dive-bombing you from the trees is…memorable, to say the least.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I like visiting Charleston (my partner’s sister lives there) but personally I find it so different from the northeast that I would have a hard time living there. The food is excellent, shopping is great, close to beaches… but I find the lack of diversity really striking. And there’s too much Lilly Pulitzer for my taste, but that’s just me.

      I like the vibe in Savannah more, though the food isn’t as great.

      1. Sunflower*

        Can you say a little more about Savannah? I was also considering there but I have a few connections in Charleston whereas I know no one in Savannah.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Savannah has SCAD, so there are a ton of students and the vibe felt more chill and artsy to me. The houses are beautiful, people are generally friendly, and there’s a real appreciation for “weird” there. I haven’t been there too much, but I do like it.

          1. Clisby*

            I live in Charleston, but I agree that Savannah has more of a “weird” vibe. Charleston used to – I loved living here back in the mid-80s – but it’s gotten so corporate-hotel-for-tourists over the past 10 years that it’s … I have no idea why it gets all these awards for being a great place to visit, unless tourists are in love with overpriced hotels.

            I don’t mean I dislike Charleston – it’s fine. I just don’t get why people want to come here. It’s a shadow of its former self.

            My caution: The summer here (and Savannah) is hellish. I grew up in a coastal town about 60 miles north of Charleston, so I was used to it. But it’s hell. Isolating for the pandemic is now less stressful for me, because my normal life involved isolating inside at least for June through September.

            By comparison – in 1988 I moved to Columbus, OH, where I happily lived in the upstairs of a Victorian-era house with no air conditioning. The winter didn’t bother me at all.

  40. Cimorene*

    I am looking for advice on picking a beginner, recreational kayak. Important considerations: I have kayaked before but just a few times such as on a vacation. I live in southern NH so have access to lots of calm lakes, ponds, rivers (technically not that far from ocean but that is probably least likely use). My biggest concern is ease of use and portability since I need something i can manage on my own. i’d like to be able to grab the kayak in the morning and go paddle for an hour or two near where i live as a form of exercise and me time. I drive an SUV with a rack but not sure how easily i could get it a kayak up there on my own (I’m 5′ 5″ female and in ok but not amazing shape). Thoughts? Sit in vs sit on? size of kayak? inflatable vs rigid? Other things i should take into account? Any advice and specific brand/model/type recommendations welcome!

    1. Flabbernabbit*

      I bought a Pakayak after a lot of research. Solves portability issues. There are inflatables and foldables which may also work, but I wanted a hard shell and quick to get on the water. And to be able to put it inside my vehicle instead of wrestling with racks and finding storage space.

    2. Penguin*

      I can highly recommend Old Towne, although apparently they’re backordered on a lot of kayak models until August due to coronavirus. I can’t speak specifically to any of their current models, but their stuff is generally very reliable.
      As far as loading/unloading, I’ve had good success with lifting one end of the boat up onto the rack from the back of the vehicle, then lifting/pushing from the other end until the boat’s on top; I find it a lot easier than the normal load-from-the-side where you have to have the entire kayak in the air at once. (Unloading is just loading but in reverse.) Maybe that would work for you?

      Things to consider:
      Sit in (instead of on) boats will generally be more stable b/c of lower center of gravity, although boat design can affect that.
      Many recreational boats can’t be rolled. So they’re very stable, but if you do manage to flip over you’ll have to swim out.
      Longer, narrower boats will track straighter with fewer course corrections while shorter, fatter boats will turn much more readily. If you want to do mostly lakes, you’ll likely want a longer boat; streams and rivers will suit a shorter boat better.
      If you get an inflatable boat, be wary of narrow rivers with overhanging branches (as I recall, NH has lots of those, yes?)
      I’d be skeptical of needing anything longer than 10-12 ft (I’ve had a 12-ft recreational kayak for almost 20 years in MA/NY/VT/NH and been very happy with it) especially since you said you’re not looking to paddle on the ocean.

      If you want to throw other specific questions at me feel free.

    3. CatCat*

      Not sure if you’re on Facebook, but there’s a group called “Women Who Paddle FB Community” that would be great for additional info. I know they’ve had advice on the rack loading front.

    4. retirement is all it's cracked up to be*

      Buy from a place that lets you try them out.
      I don’t know what you call them, but they make some roller things that suction cup to your rear window (if it has a slant to it at least) for loading by yourself. There are also racks that telescope off the side to help load it single handed. (Yakima made ours). A good kayak store will be able to guide you with that.
      There are straps you can put on a kayak to help you carry it by itself–kind of a belt like thing so you can put most of the weight on your shoulder.
      I have vertigo issues and cannot abide a sit on top–paddling is okay, sitting still and admiring the view (aka resting) is not.
      I have a Wilderness Systems model called Pungo which is pretty nice. Easy to get in and out of, not too heavy. I dropped one end off my car and it didn’t get hurt. I am however lusting after an Eddyline Sandpiper.
      Where are you going to store it? We have some saddle like things we hung on the garage wall.
      They are a fun thing to cruise around in!

    5. Washi*

      I recently got the lowest end possible inflatable kayak, the Intex challenger k1, with really low expectations and I love it! I got it this spring for $70 but I think prices are higher now. I’ve only used it 5 or 6 times and it doesn’t track as well as a normal kayak, nor would it handle whitewater situations at all. But I just take it out to bays and lakes and paddle around for a bit, and it’s perfect for that – if anything, more exercise because it’s a little slower :) It’s mildly annoying to dry off at the end (setup takes like 5-10 mins, but drying with a towel takes 25ish) but my husband and I are both short and scrawny and I doubt we could handle a roof rack even if we had the space to store regular kayaks.

      I got something low end because I wasn’t sure how much I would like or use an inflatable, but it’s been a godsend in this hot weather with pools and beaches and most rental places closed. I ended up getting a second one for my husband or friends to use – it’s a great socially distant activity because you naturally stay like 10 feet apart!

      1. MsOctopus*

        I have this, too, and I love it! I don’t have a car but live only a few minutes walk from a river, so I just wheel my kayak bag over on a little luggage cart thing I found at the goodwill, and inflate it on the river bank. It’s super fun! I got mine 3+ years ago, and while I have had to patch it once (extra sharp rock/riverbank incident) it has held up great:)

        1. Washi*

          Luggage cart is so smart!! I tried to make a backpack for mine but it’s just too heavy for my amateur attempts to sew one. I have a car but we park a 7 minute walk from where we live, so when I need to lug both kayaks to the car by myself…it’s rough. If we weren’t moving somewhere that parking is easier, I would get a cart!

          Also glad to hear yours has lasted multiple years, I hope mine have a similar lifespan :)

    6. Kayaker*

      I have a Pelican Trailblazer 10 foot. It’s there lowest end model. Wider than some which makes it very stable in the water but doesn’t track as well as a narrower one would. It’s light weight enough at 38 pounds that I can hoist it onto my shoulder to carry it. Getting it into my rack on top of my taller SUV is a bit of a challenge but I can definitely manage it myself. One other consideration is the paddle. I invested in a lightweight, higher end paddle which has greatly improved my enjoyment of the sport.

  41. KristinaL*

    Hank looks like he’s studying himself in the mirror. Does he ever try to look behind the mirror?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      One of my cats will sniff at her reflection. Sometimes I sing to her from I Feel Pretty (West Side Story). Who’s that pretty cat in the mirror there (what mirror where?) Who could that pretty cat be? Such a pretty face, such a pretty nose, such pretty eyes, such pretty meeee!

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Or he looks like he’s giving himself a pep talk. “Okay, Hank, you’re gonna go out there today, and you’re going to catch that red dot!!”

    3. lazy intellectual*

      Alison always catches her cats in the best poses! I’m lucky if I get a cat in a camera shot

      1. Mimmy*

        Come to think of it, I have wondered how Alison is able to get such magnificent shots of her cats!

        1. Dainty Lady*

          I think her husband may be at least a semi professional photographer? I seem to remember her mentioning that he takes the adorable cat pics.

      2. Lcsa99*

        If she’s like me, the sheer volume of pictures I take of the cats guarantees we’ll get at least a few good ones. I think one of our cats has started rolling his eyes when we hold up our phones.

  42. No Tribble At All*

    Looking for a cat water fountain that’s easy to clean! We’ve had the Pet Safe Drinkwell fountain for the past ~ 5 years, and I’m thinking it’s time to get a new one. This one has held up pretty well, but it has lots of weird fiddly shaped bits that make it annoying to clean. There’s an interior reservoir that is really deep and narrow, so it’s like trying to wash out a tall drinking glass by hand. It’s technically dishwasher safe, but it’s shaped so weird that you always end up with huge puddles of standing water inside if you use the dishwasher. It’s melamine, so it’s yellowed over time and it has scratches that are extremely difficult to clean. Maybe our cats are just slobbery. I’m thinking a stainless steel one? I don’t mind if it’s hand-wash if the pieces are easy to wash. Budget not a big concern.

    1. Suggestion*

      ThirstyCat fountains. They are so easy to clean, especially compared to the Drinkwell ones. My Drinkwell would get slimy so quickly despite using filtered water and a filter and took too much time and effort to clean. ThirstyCat fountains are great and the owners are very nice and helpful.

    2. Sunset Maple*

      We have the Petsafe Drinkwell Avalon, and it’s porcelain and dishwashes beautifully. I’ve never had an issue like you’re describing.

    3. sswj*

      We have the Drinkwell 360. It’s stainless, and round so pretty easy to clean. Three are a couple of fiddly bits but they are small enough that I can drop them in the bowl as it sits in the sink, pour boiling water and a dash of soap in, and let it all steep while I make and drink a cup of tea or something. A swipe around the inside of the bowl and the cone (also stainless) and a good rinse and it’s good to go. It’s also super quiet. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world but the cats like it, so …

    4. Cat Meowmy*

      Oooh, yes I am also in the market for a cat fountain, ideally one that can run on battery power as my cat’s for and water spot is in my closet and nowhere near any power outlets.

    5. KittyCardigans*

      We’ve had the IPETTIE Tritone Ceramic Pet Drinking Fountain for about three years, and I really like it. We wanted ceramic because plastic gives our older cat chin acne, and I think it’s decently easy to clean; I wash the bowl in the sink and put the middle part and the filter casing in the dishwasher every so often. The filters do get gross, but that’s what filters are for.

  43. Thankful for AAM*

    I’m looking for remote volunteering ideas. Inspired by Amalieee’s post about the letter writing for depression org. Does anyone have suggestions for things you can do from home to help others?

    1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      One idea is to be a penpal to a senior citizen. Since they’re mostly all in lock-down, interesting correspondence can be a real break from the loneliness. You can search for “Victorian Senior Care Pen Pals” but I’m sure there are others.

      Another idea that’s a bit more dependent on your location is to inquire with the local public library system. Mine is recruiting volunteers to hold short zoom videos of various things. If you have a skill that you can teach the basics of, know how to do a craft (kid or adult level), or can even just be engaging enough to read a story that might keep children entertained for 20 minutes so their parents can have a break, they’re interested.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Soup kitchens and other organizations always need sack lunches. You do need to obtain the ingredients, which I guess you could do remotely although I go to Costco, and deliver the prepared lunches, but maybe another volunteer could pick them up from you if needed.

  44. Lolllo*

    Make-up question in general. Do you or don’t you?

    I have flirted with makeup my whole life – I am now 59 (as of today), but never felt comfortable (either in how I was applying it or in wearing it) and never felt like I was doing it ‘right’. I no longer bother, in fact most days when I go to work I feel I have super-powers if I manage to wash my face and wear clothes that fit, let alone even thinking of putting on make-up!

    But! At a recent holiday work party (my five year anniversary, when I was presented with my five year gift), because I was going to be in the spotlight in front of the whole firm, I had my hair done and my hair wrangler (LOL) also did my makeup. Interesting result: several work colleagues commented. As in “Wow, you look pretty!” In that tone of voice that is like, “oh! You are a woman! I def thought you were a camel!”. I work in an accounting firm and I would say 90% of the women and 0% of the men wear makeup.

    I am also fat and have recurring cystic facial acne that is pretty obvious – it is so much fun having facial issues on a near daily basis, and lots of scarring.

    I guess I just decided ar some point it wasn’t in my skill set, and that if it was ‘holding me back’, I didn’t care enough to overcome it.

    I am interested to hear your thoughts and experiences!

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      There are a lot of make up tutorials on youtube that you can watch. There’s probably something that could help you.
      I’ve found that starting off simple is the best. So maybe some light foundation or bb cream. Go to a store and ask questions from the people in the makeup counter. Heck, I went to Walgreens and the guy was super helpful. Or even the person who did your makeup before, could they help you?

      Really there’s not a right way or wrong way for makeup. As long as your not using lipstick to give yourself streaks down your cheeks I think your ok! But if you dont feel like makeup that’s ok too!

    2. Grace*

      I do makeup, but that’s only a little for my “this is what I feel I ‘need’ to look ‘presentable'” reasons (concealer for skin redness, powder because I have hellishly oily skin) and mostly because I like playing with it.

      I’d probably class myself as a makeup collector – I like playing with new formulas and shimmers and if I find a new hero product I buy it in all the colours. It’s for my own enjoyment, and for me it’s a symptom of newfound self-confidence – I would never have worn bright red lipstick back in the days when I wanted no-one to ever notice me – rather than a way of creating self-confidence. Everyone does things for their own reasons, though.

    3. Disco Janet*

      My job requires waking up very early, and as a result I often don’t bother with makeup. (And have definitely experienced the comments from others when I do wear it that are technically meant as a compliment but don’t actually sound like so great.)

      I’ve been doing it more often lately, which is ironic since I’ve barely been leaving my house or seeing anyone who doesn’t live with me, and I think I might stick with it even when I am back to a more normal routine. I think they key is that it should be about YOU – how does makeup make you feel? Do you have fun with it and see it as a confidence boost, or are you doing it based on what others do/wear/think?

      For me, it often brightens my mood to spend some time on my appearance. I like trying out a fun new lip color or having an overall look going on that I think is cute! I’m not amazing at it, but occasionally I watch tutorials for ideas, and I’ve learned some new things on my own too about what does and doesn’t work for my face shape, skin, coloring, etc. I’m trying to get to a point where I have a set routine that isn’t too high maintenance but makes me feel good about myself, so during quarantine I’ve been experimenting with different products to see what works best for me.

        1. Lolllo*

          Thank you for the birthday wish!

          I dunno… I often like how makeup (MU) looks on others, and attracted to the pretty colours and packages, but just generally don’t feel like it is “me”. I think its more of a kind of wishing I liked it!

          But I hate fussing with my hair, let alone my face, so I doubt I will change ‘when I grow up’ – if that ever happens :)

          I have enjoyed getting the perspectives of others on this, thank you to everyone!

          1. Observer*

            A good “work” makeup routine should not require a lot of fussing and should not make you look like another person.

            If you are interested, either go to a make up counter or store* and talk to the people there, find someone who does makeup that you like their approach, or find some youtube tutorials. What you are specifically looking for is a low fuss basic routine that doesn’t change you, just helps provide a slightly better looking, more polished and / more put together version of you.

            On the other hand, if you aren’t interested, it’s really not that big of a deal as long as you are otherwise put together.

            *A lot of people I know like Sephora because they carry a fair number of brands and their people tend to know their stuff. Personally, I’ve had good experience with Clinique. Most of their stuff is easy on my skin (and eyes, which tend to be sensitive) and they are the only brand that so far I haven’t had a real dud in terms of the person knowing their stuff. And they really are good at a light touch.

    4. Choggy*

      I am 55 and only wear minimal makeup to not aggravate my mild rosacea and I had cystic acne so there is also some mild scarring. I really like Physicians Formula powder foundation as it’s easy to apply for a nice coverage to even out my skin. I am fair-skinned so keep colors light as far as blush and use a lip tint, not lipstick. Brows are important to keep tame and shaped. I have a condition where my eyelashes/eyebrows on my right side are very light blonde and darker blonde on the left so always use an eyebrow pencil for evenness. I wear mascara when really dressing up, but not eye shadow or highlighter. I keep it simple and actually hate when people (other women) make a big deal when I wear noticeable make up. I did my fair share of make up in the 80s and am pretty much over it The key is having fun and don’t overthink it. To me, at this age, more is definitely less!

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t and never have. I’m pretty minimalist in my personal maintenance in general – I find jewelry that I like and put it on and don’t take it off for years. (Right now, out of necklace, six rings, earrings and a toe ring, the one that’s the “youngest” is my wedding ring, which I put on in Sept 2017.) I find a type of outfit that I like, make sure I have enough parts to wear clean versions for a week*, and wear basically the same thing for months until I find another “style” that appeals, like weird mini-versions of a capsule wardrobe. I don’t wear makeup, I don’t remember the last time I did anything with my hair other than the same nautilus bun I’ve been wearing it in for eight years, I even keep getting new lenses put in the same glasses frames instead of picking out new frames. Mostly I just don’t like having to think about, or spend time on, getting ready to face my day, haha – I want to be as close to “roll out of bed and go” as possible.

      There’s also a bit of it that’s related to my aphantasia – I forget what I look like if what I look like changes, which both sounds really weird and also isn’t exactly what I mean, but I’m not sure what better wording to use. But I am much more mentally settled if I am very very consistent in what I look like, and makeup really disorients me because it can make such a difference in appearances. (It’s not AS disorienting on other people, though I’m still kinda face-blind, as long as I have other points to identify them from.)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        (I don’t remember why I put the * in there, whatever footnote it might’ve been escaped.)

      2. WellRed*

        “I find jewelry that I like and put it on and don’t take it off for years.”

        This is me (I mix it up once in a while) but same watch, rings, bracelet.

      3. Aurora Leigh*

        I relate to this so much! I don’t do makeup and never have, I just don’t have the patience for it. I find something I like and wear it to death. Basically I have a summer wardrobe and a winter wardrobe but very little variation.

    6. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      I wear it when I get dressed up. Pre-covid, that would be once a week for church and occasionally for other things. I’ve currently given up on foundation, because it’s expensive and I always get the wrong shade or formula for my skin. I like the other stuff. My fancy makeup, though, is about on par with other people’s everyday.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I’m 59. I have had two serious bouts of “trying to make make-up work for me”. The second go-around got me better results. I actually liked what I had bought and I use it …. once in a very great while.

      I am really surprised at the number of responses you got here and how well some of the thoughts parallel my own thinking. I think the reason it went better the second time is I watched out for make-ups that were really loaded with synthetics. There’s lots of drawbacks to the more natural stuff, which explains why I don’t use it often.

      For the 50 and older crowd, I really think that the best thing to do is religiously hydrate. I will never forget my 55 y/o friend who was rushed to the hospital with heart symptoms. They found her to be dehydrated and she got hydration through The Tubes. (ugh) When I saw her next, 20 years had been erased from her face. The change was like a day and night difference. (Yeah, no heart problem, her problem was lack of water. Dehydration is serious stuff.)

    8. Valancy Snaith*

      I wear makeup because I like it, and I like how I look when I have it on, but I certainly don’t wear it all the time. If I don’t leave the house I don’t wear it, and if I’m only going to run a couple of errands I usually don’t bother, but for work and social events I wear it. I fill in my brows, wear eyeshadow (2-3 colours that I blend), eyeliner (usually pencil, occasionally liquid), and mascara. When I’m not wearing a mask I go in for lipstick of some kind, but that’s about it. I wear it to work almost all of the time, even when I was working at 5am, because it takes me three minutes to put on and I felt much better about facing the day wearing it.

      I like it because I like how I look when I wear it, and when I like how I look I feel better about myself and life in general. My husband has never expressed an opinion other than to tell me that I look nice regardless of whether I have it on or don’t, and happily buys me expensive palettes as gifts, and his is the only opinion I’d care about other than myself, so I’m happy with it as it is. I’m 32.

    9. Coco*

      Happy Birthday!

      I’m pretty minimalist in makeup but I enjoy it. It makes me feel more polished. But it is v much an individual decision.

      If you’re interested in trying but don’t want to go full on, you can use a tinted sunscreen. I am a fan of la roche posay’s tinted sunscreen Or a bb cream or one of those v sheer foundations that look more like a lotion with a bit of color. Don’t know what your budget is but glossier makes a very popular one and on the higher end, Armani has a new tint that looks nice. There are plenty of good drugstore brands as well. I’m partial to Nyx.

      I don’t have cystic acne but you could always just try a concealer and powder and no foundation for a no makeup, makeup look.

    10. Emily*

      Pretty much never – the last time I remember wearing makeup was as a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding a couple of years ago.

      I think that for me, there are a few things that factor into this. I don’t like gendered expectations and double standards, and it bothers me that women are, in general, expected to conform to certain beauty standards that men are not. I also find makeup and certain other physical changes to my own appearance kind of jarring – if I wear noticeable enough makeup, it feels wrong and not quite like me anymore. Finally, from a practical standpoint – I don’t want to spend much time on my face/hair/personal grooming, and have a lot of active hobbies that aren’t super compatible with makeup-wearing anyway.

    11. KittyCardigans*

      I never felt like I was doing makeup “right” until I decided I wanted to do my own makeup for my wedding and started watching a bunch of Youtube videos about it (I liked Lisa Eldridge and Allie Glines). It helped to remember that in learning the techniques, I didn’t have to use all of them all the time—I could pick and choose a few things and go way subtler.

      Pre-Covid, I wore concealer, mascara, and blush to work every day because I think they make me look more awake. My eyelashes are sparse and short and I’m very pale—the definition helps me look less washed out and more alert. Since Covid, I mostly haven’t worn anything (as you say, I’ve been feeling like a superstar when I manage to wash my face), but I wish I hadn’t gotten out of the habit. I like doing just a little bit most of the time because then I can ramp it up when I want to feel extra glamorous or do nothing at all for a lazy day—it’s an extra bit of demarcation that helps me “match” my expectations for the day. Plus, wearing a bit of makeup makes me less likely to touch my face, which has multiple benefits right now!

    12. Purt’s Peas*

      Yeah, no way. Don’t like it on me, I like my face, and I think wearing makeup still feels like a societal obligation instead of a pleasant option.

    13. KoiFeeder*

      Nope! I’m allergic to synthetic fragrance, as well as almond/coconut oils (which are all the rage in fragrance-free make-up).

      And even if I wasn’t going to swell my face shut wearing make-up, sow’s ears and silk purses. I would literally have to put on a second face ala mission impossible, and that might not be enough.

    14. ThatGirl*

      I’ve been wearing minimal makeup since I was a teenager. I have combination skin that I used to be pretty self conscious about. I just wanted to look even-toned and not reddish or super shiny. I wear powdered primer, a light coat of base and concealer. If I’m going somewhere, mascara. Eyeliner on occasion, though not since the pandemic. It helps me feel more confident and not self conscious. And if you asked a lot of dudes they’d say I wasn’t wearing any makeup.

      I’ve also always washed my face at night, along with taking out contacts and brushing my teeth, so there’s no real concern that I’d forget.

      1. ThatGirl*

        P.S. I wear Everyday Minerals and have for 15 years, it’s so lightweight, vegan, cruelty free. I hate liquid foundation.

        And I fully support everyone’s right to not wear makeup. Just speaking for myself. :)

    15. ...*

      Pretty much only wear it when I go out for dinner/drinks or to a party. For work I wear it if I have a presentation with senior team members or if I’m recording a meeting or training. Prior to Covid that meant wearing makeup 2-3x a week. Post Covid, that means I’ve worn makeup like 5 times since March. Haha. I have had serious issues with acne in the past and my skin is clearer now (knock on wood) so I’m kinda like uhhh I’m just gonna go out like this

    16. NeonFireworks*

      Nope. I’ve never been the slightest bit interested. I do put effort into my hair, and I edit my eyebrows, but that’s about it. I tried nail polish twice, both under peer pressure, and disliked it both times.

      I’m relieved to be of an age and in a line of work where everyone wears exactly as much makeup as they want to, and that’s that. I support anyone wearing the precise amount they’re interested in, and I also (from a distance) respect it as an art form. 20 years ago I was getting bullied for being only moderate in my conventional femininity. I don’t bear a grudge; it was a long time ago and people grow up, plus I’m pretty sure that everyone who was picking on me has had a much harder life than I have had. But I am a straight cis woman; I can’t imagine what my LGBTQ peers were going through!

      1. lazy intellectual*

        I had similar experiences. I consider myself conventionally feminine in a lot of ways, but got really tired of some of my traditional family members being like GASP you don’t care about clothes and makeup???? when I was a kid. Like…no, not all girls have have to like the same exact things??

    17. Kiwi with laser beams*

      I no longer own any. I tried every so often, then read Marie Kondo’s book and finally accepted that I’m just not into makeup.

    18. lazy intellectual*

      I learned to do makeup from a very early age because I participated in theatre and dance, but recently decided I actually prefer minimal to no makeup. I have also stopped trying to be super fashionable and trendy in my clothing choices as well. I’m now in my late twenties. Like many young adult women, I spent my late teens and early twenties always trying to look done up and found it kind of exhausting, plus I hate the feeling of goop on my face. I prefer simplicity, comfort, and extra sleep in the morning.

    19. Trixie*

      Almost 50, and I have’t used makeup regularly since I was in my early 20s. It was never good for my skin or really looked natural enough for my liking between settling into fine lines, flaking mascara, etc. Ultimately, my lifestyle just didn’t work well with a makeup routine. I will say it was a difference moving from to NC where it’s more common thing but I’m just not interested. Similar to what someone else commented, I am someone who feels less is more. I like the idea of accenting but not with a heavy hand. (I know someone women who are hard to recognize without their makeup but that’s their preferred style and good for them.)

      These days, I’m all about a good haircut, groomed eyebrows, blotting papers for my skin, chilled peas to de-puff my eyes in the morning, and a lip color. I’m exploring mascara as “hooding” starts to set in, just to see if I like it. On the slip side, I do have a heavy affinity for skin care treatments under a self-care category. Serums, masks, and at home peels with the long term goal of maintaining good skin for years to come. A splurge but balanced by the haircuts I’m not scheduling.

    20. Dr. Anonymous*

      Every day, I wear some foundation to tone down my rosacea (which sometimes gets clown nose red) and I wear eyebrow pencil because otherwise I look timid and alarmed and have to argue with people more. And then I put on a little lip color while I’m at it. Whole thing takes 3 minutes on a slow day. My skin is sensitive and I had to search to find a foundation that it likes.

    21. Old and Don’t Care*

      Lipstick only for me during the day. I rub my eyes a lot so don’t wear eye makeup, and I’ve always had oily skin and don’t think it does well with products on it. So that’s me. I work in a very casual office; some women wear makeup and some don’t, and it’s regarded (if it is at all) as a personal thing.

      I train with a running group, and almost no one wears makeup to morning runs. If we meet up for a happy hour or something and people are wearing make up I tend to think that they look different with makeup on. Not “SO MUCH BETTER”, but different.

    22. RagingADHD*

      I used to perform, so full makeup was always part of that headspace for me. I don’t feel like I’m being “myself” in it.

      I wear makeup pretty much anywhere I’d wear a real bra (not a sports bra). But it’s minimal, kind of a 5-minute face thing.

    23. Amethystmoon*

      I wear it on the day or two a week that I have to go in to work. I also wear it for Zoom meetings. That’s about it.

    24. Workerbee*

      These days, all I put on is a little dab of concealer if I feel self-conscious about any acne that still persists in showing up, curse it. But even to that I’m slowly starting to say, F*** it.

      I grew up with a fair dose of societal expectations and pressure for How Female Humans Should Look, yet never really considered myself to have any skill. It sure starts young. Same with acne, which got to me at around age 11, yay. And like so many other things, kids are too good at picking on other kids for things out of their control.

      So I’ve long had some form of concealer, but there was also a time when I didn’t feel right about going out without wearing eyeliner or that I needed at least a minimum of lip color. And sure, colors are pretty! But if I truly look at it, feeling this way was all tangled up in those societal expectations, much more than because I could truly say I 100% enjoyed it all on my own with no indoctrination point.

      It’s taken me a long time to realize this and kick free of it. Over the past few years I feel that I’ve really been coming into my own and coming back to the me I used to be, before the insidious marketing and peer pressure dug in (or at least, before I think it dug in. But now I have the power to deny its hypnosis). Unlike in my formative years, through college and into my career, I now care so much less about what other people may or may not think of my face. Let them waste their time! I don’t even go on job interviews with makeup (outside of the aforementioned concealer because, alas, that habit is the most entrenched) because they’re hiring me, not my eyeliner, and this is the me they’ll be working with.

      Like another commenter has already said, I read Marie Kondo’s book even more recently and that helped me to finally dump the case of makeup I’d been keeping as some sort of insurance against changing my mind, or something, I’m not sure what. I’d amassed a collection over the years that I hadn’t been able to let go. And then I could. Perhaps it just was finally the right time and enough of those societal flaws had been unhooked.

    25. TechWorker*

      I don’t do make up in general because I am exceptionally lazy (my ‘grooming routine’ consists of washing and occasionally brushing my hair and that’s it..).

      When people notice make you they’re also noticing a difference – they’re not necessarily saying ‘OMG you look so much better now’ (and even if they were, that’s a matter of personal taste :p do YOU prefer how you look with/without make up?).

      For me the things that make the most difference to how I feel about myself are in order:
      – eyebrow pencil (I’m fair and basically don’t have any)
      – a bit of foundation/concealer under my eyes
      – mascara
      – lipstick for special occasions :p

      Day to day I still don’t bother, but if I was interviewing say, I’d probably make it up to the 2nd of those.

    26. Alex*

      I’ve never put on makeup. Just…I just never did it. I don’t think it’s held me back at all. I’ve gone to job interviews and gotten the job. I mean, I don’t know, as obviously I have no control-group life to compare.

      The only time I’ve ever worn make up was when I had my picture taken as part of an ad campaign. The ad was to be plastered all around the city and I just thought I’d photograph better with makeup. I just went and got it professionally put on (but told them I was going for a very natural look). That’s it–that is the only time I have ever had makeup on my face. (Ok, not counting scary Halloween clown makeup.)

    27. OyHiOh*

      I read a good weekday discussion here probably more than a year ago about business/professional reasons for makeup that influenced my thinking and how I use it now and in what ways.

      The thinking of the commentor was to use makeup when you’ll be under strong lights/in larger space, and to use it in such a way that your face won’t turn into a feature-less blob – people are more easily able to focus and follow presentations, etc. And it was notable that the poster felt similar techniques could/should apply equally to everyone speaking to large groups and/or under strong light.

      So, when I need makeup, I proceed more or less as for stage, but with business appropriate colors and amounts.

      I fill in my eyebrows a shade or two darker than natural (frame my eye), brighten the inner corner of my eyelid (hi, eyeball here!), use mascara (and liner if I’m on camera) to make sure my eyes don’t turn into a blur. A slightly darker foundation color to contour under my cheekbone (don’t want to lose the basic shape of a human face), and a lipstick about two shades stronger than natural color. How to do these pieces is on YouTube and, if you want an especially light appearance (improve skin tone but not *look* like you’re wearing makeup, for example), you might find it especially interesting to watch makeup for men tutorials.

  45. Rusty Shackelford*

    Anyone know where you can get men’s dress shirts with larger collar sizes that aren’t larger all over? Mr. S needs a 21″ or 22″ neck, but when I ordered one through a big & tall retailer, it was huge all over. And he’s not a small guy (he wears a 2x or 3x in sports shirts, polos, t shirts, etc.) but this shirt looked like he was a 5-year-old wearing his father’s clothes. Even the arms had enough room for one or two more people. I don’t think an athletic cut is the answer. He does have broad shoulders, but he’s got a belly too. Any ideas?

    1. Wishing You Well*

      Unfortunately, if you’ve actually tried “athletic cut” and it didn’t work, the answer is to have the dress shirts altered. Ask a tailor what size to buy for your guy and go from there. It probably won’t be cheap.
      Best of Luck.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m not super familiar with men’s dress shirt sizing, but if you get a shirt that fits him everywhere else, how much more collar room does he need? Is it even remotely plausible that a tailor could adjust the collar to be a little bigger, if it’s not that much difference? (Probably not, this is not usually doable, but it might be worth a shot if the variance is fairly small.) Otherwise, the most efficient option might be to get the right collar size and then have the rest of the shirt taken down, especially if it’s a shirt for occasional wear as opposed to “Need enough dress shirts to have a full professional daily-wear wardrobe.”

      1. Observer*

        The collar is the hardest thing on a shirt to fix, so I doubt that this would work.

        But the idea is sound – get something that fits in most ways, and fix the one thing that’s no good. It’s going to be easier to take stuff in that expand, in general.

    3. BRR*

      I’m 6”3 and big and have the same problem. Look up collar extenders, they might help. I’ve also had luck with slim/trim fit shirts and ordering a size up.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Unfortunately, they don’t add quite enough room. I’ve looked at larger slim/trim fit shirts, but to get the neck size he would need (or 1″ smaller to use with an extender), you have to longer sleeves. In “regular” sizing, larger neck sizes don’t seem to be available with 33/34″ sleeves.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Oh, this is a tough question. My husband had a 16 inch neck but a 30 inch waist. He was average height.

      I bought the correct size neck and took the sides in on the sewing machine. You really couldn’t tell I had altered them if you saw him wearing the shirts.

      My suggestion is to get the right neck size and alter them. If you don’t want to tackle that maybe a friend would do it in exchange for help from you OR maybe you can find a tailor who would do it. I might have gone the tailor route if I had to take the sleeves in also. But fortunately the sleeves were passable.

    5. CatsAway*

      My husband has a larger neck and he got some dress button up shirts from Indochino – it’s a men’s suit company that makes all custom clothing. The shirts start at $80, so not exactly cheap, but you don’t have to pay for tailoring after you buy them.

    6. LGC*

      Try the athletic cut. I was going to argue that I’m the exact opposite of Mr. S – and then I realized that I actually have the same problem. (Although it’s remixed – in my case, my neck is kind of normal-sized, but my torso is slim. Mr. S’s problem is that although he has a large build, his neck is especially large.)

      Personally, I’ve found that athletic works slightly better around the torso for me, and slim is key for a general all-over fit. And yes, I’m aware of the contradictions in looking for a slim cut with a 22-inch neck shirt, but the neck size is basically “how big is the torso.” And…like, if I had to guess, the 21-22 inch range is like at least 3XL?

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        And yes, I’m aware of the contradictions in looking for a slim cut with a 22-inch neck shirt

        It’s not actually that contradictory! It’s the same way with plus size women’s clothing, where designers tend to assume that if you’re larger, you’re larger all over. If you’re apple-shaped like me, with a larger waist but smaller upper arms and thighs, you end up swimming in excess fabric. And I’d guess the 21-22″ neck size is larger than 3XL, because his casual 3XL shirts fit very well but he wouldn’t be able to button the top button on any of them.

    7. WS*

      Take his measurements! Men’s clothing sizes don’t vary as much as women’s, but every different company has a different fit model, but they all put their measurements on the site. You’ll want his neck and chest measurement for starters, then you can measure things like sleeve length and shirt length on a garment that fits him now.

      If he’s an odd size that doesn’t fit any off-the-rack garment, buy to fit his biggest measurement (neck or belly, usually) and it’s not expensive to have it taken in. It is expensive to have more fabric added!

  46. Anon4today*

    How to handle not accommodating a partner’s anxiety anymore?

    We’ve been married for almost 24 years, and their constant anxiety over literally EVERYTHING is just … exhausting. Of course, current events have ramped it up to 9 – they are still mostly functional, I’d consider 10 hiding in bed all day – but their normal level is 7. And I’m just done.

    All things that happen accommodate their anxiety; I do almost all the shopping and all the cooking, they leave the house for health and hair appointments. Everything that comes into the house must be sanitized (this isn’t new for covid.) The pet needs to be groomed, badly; but the groomer we’ve used for a decade isn’t good enough now, there are other pets there. So we’re stuck in the “I have to evaluate the new groomer!” loop and the pet is getting matted. All things are dangerous now. If food reaches its “Purchase by” date, it’s suddenly toxic and must be discarded. I can’t sleep with windows open anymore, the world might get in. We got a monitored alarm system because they didn’t feel safe while I was at work. We now have a Ring doorbell and they are on the Neighbors app constantly reading and posting.

    I won’t consider divorce; I’m the sole breadwinner, ready to retire in a couple of years, and divorce would lose me half the considerable pension I’m going to get. That would mean I wouldn’t be able to retire in a couple of years, but would have to keep working for another 5 or more years.

    They have been in counselling in all our time together and consider that “enough”, so won’t go to couple counselling.

    Honestly, if I were widowed tomorrow, it would be a relief.

    1. Disco Janet*

      If they won’t go to couples counseling, I think you should begin individual counseling as well. Saying you’re only with your spouse so you don’t have to give them any money and that it would be a relief if they died is pretty jaw-droppingly awful and seems like a major sign that you need some external help here.

      And make the appointment and take the pet to the groomer. You can’t allow harm to come to them as a result of all this.

      1. Choggy*

        Yes, I second the taking the dog to the groomer, you have choices but your dog should not suffer unnecessarily. Sounds at this point your partner has used their anxiety as a manipulation tool, especially if they refuse to see the affect it has had on you and your pet. Enough is enough, you need some help navigating this successfully or it will never change. Getting to the point of wishing for your partner’s death means it’s time for you to make a change, since your partner can’t. I am sorry your family is dealing with this.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        In addition, Anon4today, you sound very burned out. Find ways to make your life easier: frozen dinners, mobile dog groomers, whatever you can work out. Start conserving your energy.
        You also need non-work time away from your spouse. I know it’s a pandemic, but please try.
        Call a mental health hotline. They can help you gain perspective on your situation, especially how to handle your spouse’s reaction to the changes you need to make.
        I will add that a relative living with a depressed spouse for years finally had enough and divorced him. He did nothing about his depression. Wouldn’t follow doctor’s orders. Wouldn’t even take his anti-depression meds. She had to rescue her own life. There are times when you just can’t help someone anymore.
        Whatever you decide to do, I hope things get better for you. A lot better.
        Sending good thoughts your way.

    2. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Would they consider having you go to a few of their sessions with them? Maybe their therapist doesn’t know that things have gotten worse; maybe their therapist could help you with specific ways to deal with your partner’s anxiety. I feel bad for both of you, it sounds like such an exhausting way to live.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      I’m sure you’ll get advice from wiser people than me, but my first idea is to seek help for yourself, like counselling. I have anxiety but not to your spouse’s level and I’m not in a relationship, but it seems to me that you should have the space in your relationship to put in place some boundaries. A counsellor might help you decide how to got about doing it. From what you’ve described (not the whole picture, I know), it seems that their anxiety takes a lot of space in your home and in your mental space and you shouldn’t have to burden it all.

      1. BRR*

        This was my thought as well. OP needs a place where they can go for help.

        Have you talked with a divorce later to just hear their thoughts regarding alimony? I know very little about this but does the fact your spouse is not willing to try and seek help affect anything? I can’t really say if this is better with seeing a counselor for 24 years or if their counselor isn’t super affective.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I also recommend this path. My partner went into recovery not long after we got serious, and my own individual therapy was so helpful to process my own anxieties and fears, understand my boundaries, and stop taking responsibility (for everything!). I didn’t have to go for too long, but I did need that time.

    4. D3*

      If they are not taking medication, I would suggest that.
      It sounds exhausting to deal with all of that, I am so sorry.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, I realize the pandemic has ratcheted up a lot of folks’ anxiety but this spouse seems to have fallen off a cliff. With any illness, needs and treatments change over time. Agreeing with all other advice re: See a counselor on your own and get the pet to the groomer. I also frankly question the competence of your wife’s counselor, but not much you can do about that. Please update us.

        1. WellRed*

          Wanted to also highlight this: “they are still mostly functional”
          Are they, though? Or has your definition of functional become skewed over the years? I am taking you at your word, but if you reassess, and think, “maybe they’re not so functional after all,” maybe that will help you make some of the decisions you have ahead of you.

          1. Sam I Am*

            I agree with this, we can’t see incremental change very well when we’re in a situation. That said, you’ve actually laid out quite a bit of it here already… can’t leave the windows open, can’t use the groomer etc… and perhaps you can’t see this change for what it is?

            You say you don’t want to divorce as that will prolong your working life. Fair enough, just keep in mind these things will be true when you retire if you’re still together, and make sure you’re planning for that. If the retirement solution is 2 separate households, or lots of time away from each other, you might have to end up working extra years anyhow. Perhaps it would all be more bearable if you split. You truly sound at your wits’ end, and I hope you can connect with a counselor. Take care of the dog, and take care of yourself.

    5. Frankie Bergstein*

      Anon4today – this is a lot for you to bear, and I’m sorry it’s happening. I think the other commenters’ advice of seeking your own therapy is a good idea.

    6. Cat*

      I think counseling for you is a great idea. I’m going to gently suggest that working 5 or more years vs. a couple of more years may be the lesser of two evils in this situation.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      So, a thought exercise. Assuming that being widowed tomorrow is unlikely — which do you think would make you happier — retiring in two years and continuing to support your partner in this kind of scenario (except without being able to go to work for a respite from it) with this level of exhaustion going on, or working another five to seven years and not having to worry about your partner’s anxieties any more?

      Because – the counseling doesn’t seem to be working well. You don’t say that your partner is on medication for their issues, but if they are, that doesn’t seem to be working well either. Your indication is that your partner seems to be unwilling to attempt to improve the situation. I know this is super easy for me to say, not being in your shoes, but I can’t help thinking that a couple extra years of working may be worth the drastic quality of life improvement of single-hood, based on your description and how long this has been going on. The time is going to pass, and the situation is unlikely to improve.

      (And, for what it’s worth, I 100% feel you on the widowhood-being-a-relief — I started planning my divorce the day I realized that I was kinda hoping my then-husband’s plane would just, like, drop out of the sky on his way back and save me any further dealings with him, because that was not the kind of person I wanted to be and clearly continuing to be married with him was turning me into that kind of person.)

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, just how much are you going to enjoy retirement with this person around All. Day. Long? Have you thought of that? I’d see a lawyer and figure out what can be done because money is great, but it can’t fix misery.

    8. Kathenus*

      I’m so sorry you’re in this situation, and others have made some great suggestions already so I won’t add to those specific recommendations. The main thing I wanted to suggest is to draw boundaries and keep them. If your partner won’t contribute to shopping or cooking, they also lose the right to expect to have every item they want or every meal they prefer – you shop when YOU need to and cook what YOU want. They can make decisions for themselves but not you. The window thing – I know this is a big topic but can you sleep in separate rooms and each have the windows the way you prefer? Buy the window locks that secure them partially opened for extra security? As others have mentioned, the pet grooming can be a welfare issue not just aesthetic (pet comfort, heat, etc.) – if so you do it anyway because the pet welfare trumps the partner’s concern. You can’t change them, just your behavior and reactions. Decide which things are most affecting your quality of life, draw boundaries and stick to them regardless of their reaction. It can’t be everything they want they get and your welfare be damned. So stand up for yourself, you’re worth it.

      1. Melody Pond*

        I agree with this. If the OP can’t/won’t consider divorce, then I’d start trying to get as much distance from the spouse as possible, within the marriage – in whatever way is feasible.

    9. Rusty Shackelford*

      What happens if you stop accommodating the anxiety? If you just take the pet to the old groomer, for example?

      1. Nita*

        I imagine the spouse will throw a fit about not being able to be in the same home with the pet any more, to the point of forcing OP to rehome the pet ASAP or they will not come out of the bedroom, ever. I’ve lived with an unmedicated, very mentally ill person. I know how it works.

      2. Sylvan*

        Having clinical anxiety, I would guess a panic attack. It’s a miserable experience for them and OP, but not medically dangerous*. It’ll pass. It might prompt them to get help instead of maintaining the status quo.

        *barring a heart or respiratory condition, I guess?

        1. Sylvan*

          This sounds like I’m downplaying panic attacks, and I don’t want to do that. Panic attacks are horrible. They’re just also not the end of the world and sometimes you have to get the dog groomed, panic or no panic.

    10. Nacho*

      Talk to a lawyer about divorce. I don’t know where you are or what your exact situation is, but divorce is usually a lot more complicated that giving up half your shit. There might be a way to divorce without losing your ability to retire on schedule.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, this. Or can you two move to a duplex and each have your own place and then visit each other?

      2. Generic Name*

        This. In my experience, divorce doesn’t mean you divide everything in half straight down the middle. In my state, asset division is mean to be equitable, so if one doesn’t want to give up any retirement assets, maybe there is something of similar value you’d be willing to part with. Like the equity in a home, or vehicles or whatever.

    11. Dr. Anonymous*

      To heck with couples counseling. Get some for yourself to figure out how you want to live in or out of this marriage. I am not aware of treatment for anxiety that involves giving the anxiety veto power over the lives and preferences of everyone in the house. It’s about them managing their feelings of anxiety. It’s terribly painful to be anxious and to have so many things in life out of control and sufferers often want to control everything they can to try to feel safe, but that doesn’t really work anyway, so it’s okay for some aspects of your life to be on the very long list of things in the world that your spouse can’t control to feel safer.

      A counselor can help you evaluate everything you have done to be ruled by anxiety, help you see what is and isn’t normal, and set your own boundaries of what your life will be.

      And I would really think hard about whether two more years of working while living in this exhausting scenario vs five more years of working and eating your groceries the minute they get home and opening a damn window when you want to are really that different in terms of wear and tear on you.

      1. Sylvan*

        Strongly agreed. This is a good comment and you have a great point about the wear and tear of living with this.

      2. Reba*

        It’s reminding me of the letter here where an employee wanted to have everyone else lined up at the bus stop in a certain order to assuage their anxiety…. OP I think you would recognize that as an extreme but you are getting to a last-straw point with a lot of little things that, each on their own, don’t seem extreme. But together they are totally unsustainable! Getting a pro’s help in drawing new boundaries for your own sanity would be well worth it IMO.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Hmmm. I tend to think this runs a bit deeper than what we can give you here.

      I’d suggest going for counseling to find out what you are willing to do. A list of what you won’t do isn’t really an action plan. The action plan you need should probably be hammered out with a pro. One thing is certain, until you change what you are doing, it’s reasonable to assume your partner won’t either.

    13. Almost Academic*

      I’m curious what the counseling they’re receiving actually looks like. Effective therapy for anxiety-spectrum disorders usually includes exposure therapy (gradually exposing themselves to the things they are anxious of, as well as cognitive techniques to manage uncertainty and worries) and generally you can see a drastic symptom improvement within 6 months. When I’m working with patients, we often get their spouses and families involved to help with out of session exposure homework/practice, and specifically counsel others to *not* accommodate their spouses anxious responses as this just maintains the disorder. If all of this sounds foreign to you, it might be worth considering if your spouse can find another therapist in the area that specializes in exposure-based treatments for anxiety disorders.

      You might also talk to your spouse about building in more limits for yourself. It’s reasonable (and helpful) to have limits to what behaviors you’ll accommodate and responsibilities you’ll take on given their anxiety, otherwise you will just continue to get burned out, their anxiety will be maintained or worsen over time, and they’ll continue to minimize the problems it’s causing in their life. Counterintuitively, not reinforcing anxious behaviors may be difficult in the short term but helps in the long term, so I would see if you can get them on board with agreeing for you not to do whatever accommodations you are doing now (or slowly phasing them out).

    14. valentine*

      I won’t consider divorce; I’m the sole breadwinner, ready to retire in a couple of years, and divorce would lose me half the considerable pension I’m going to get.
      Speak to a divorce attorney (or three, if they echo this) before you make such a massive decision. You’re saying your freedom isn’t worth five-plus more years of work.

      There is a great spectrum of options between suffering in status quo and divorcing. I would go for the latter, but have you considered taking the dog and staying elsewhere? (If your locale would not consider this abandoning the family home.) (And I’m assuming Spouse won’t leave, but have you spoken to their family? Does anyone have a property where Spouse could possibly shelter?)

      They have been in counselling in all our time together and consider that “enough”, so won’t go to couple counselling.
      Are you sure they’re both going to counseling and seeking help with the anxiety? This is someone who’s feeding the vicious cycle. They’ve been happy to stick you with 24 years of hard graft. Why do they get to decide solo counseling for them is enough? Interesting that you don’t say they are too anxious and need to vet the couples’ counselor. But that’s okay, because the last thing you need is someone whose job it is to preserve this tether.

      You gotta take care of the dog. Since you’re the one who has to take them, what happens if you take them to the perfectly good, regular groomer and, when Spouse notices, act like it’s no big deal? “Yeah, Corky was super matted and that’s just not on.”

      Honestly, if I were widowed tomorrow, it would be a relief.
      You very badly need to speak to a professional. Today, if poss. Call a hotline.

    15. Lolllo*

      I hear the desperation in your post, and I wish you the best.

      I am wondering about something slightly different than the other commentators.

      What are your plans for retirement? If nothing changes, what do you expect you will be doing in your retirement? How will your spouse cope with you being (presumably) available full time? Is it possible spouse’s anxiety would accelerate with extra access to you?

      I like the thought experiment another commenter posited; will you be happy in your retirement in two years if nothing changes and your spouse is at the same level or higher level of anxiety? If your retirement plans include travel, sports, hobbies…. will spouse help or hinder these plans?

      You are close to retirement and its worthwhile to be thinking about how you want THAT to look like, as you work on how you are getting TO retirement.