weekend open thread – September 19-20, 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: The Two-Family House, by Lynda Cohen Loigman. Two very different brothers, their wives, and children share a two-family house in the 1940s and 50s, and the sisters-in-law, once close, are driven apart by a secret.

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

{ 1,258 comments… read them below }

  1. Nela*

    Home security systems — does anyone have one they’d recommend? What do you like about yours / what do you dislike? I think I’d like one and I don’t know where to start.

    Also do you leave yours on all the time or only when you’re away?

    1. gsa*

      I’ve been thinking about one with cameras and such.

      Two schools of thought: on when you’re home to protect yourself OR on when you’re away to protect your things. We can protect ourselves, but would an alert if someone is silently try to get inside…

      I hope others comment.

      Be Safe,


    2. Thankful for AAM*

      Look for one that does not have a partnership with the police (looking at you Ring) so that you are not inadvertently contributing to something you might not have intended. Some store videos in the cloud so it can be easy for others to gain access.

      1. Anax*

        Also, if it’s online/”smart”: CHANGE THE PASSWORD. DO NOT KEEP THE DEFAULT. Huge security risk, there’s literally a search engine to watch unsecured security cameras of random people.

    3. MissGirl*

      I’ve got the most basic thing you can get. Alarms that go off when you open a door or window. There’s no subscription and no one is called. It’s just a warning.

    4. Doctor is In*

      We have ADT. We turn it on at night and when we leave for the day. Not cheap compared to DIY, but it is monitored and they call police if the alarm goes off and they can’t reach you. Includes smoke alarms.

      1. Dorian*

        We have also had ADT for 10+ years and have been relatively happy. We had one day where a man experiencing psychosis became fixated on our house and pounded on our door in a rage screaming threats multiple times; I had to push the panic button and the cops arrived fast both times. It paid for itself that day.

    5. Lyudie*

      If you can find info on it, look into “false alarm” stats for companies…at least here, if your alarm system calls the police when there is no issue, you can be fined after a certain number of incidents (plus the numerous other things that can go wrong in that situation).

    6. Buona Forchetta*

      We have Ring and have been pretty happy with it. The cameras are great to check on when I’m not home, and it’s pretty affordable. We leave the system on all the time. I do turn the neighborhood alerts off because they are more alarmist than helpful (at least where I live).

    7. Bob Howard*

      We have a really basic system, which just triggers the alarm if an intruder enters. No internet, no remote monitoring. It also has panic buttons by the front door and in the master bedroom. Also a smoke detector on each floor. We set the ground floor sensors when we go to bed.

      This has worked fine for 20 years. My concern with any network connected system is that every 5 years it will become obsolete, and you will have to rip it out and re-install. That said, I am impressed with my work-mates system that chimes his phone when someone approaches his house, and allows him to see and speak to them.

    8. RussianInTexas*

      We have a very basic Ring and pretty happy with it. Not connected to the neighborhood forum, just the doorbell camera and the motion detector.
      So far it caught a lot of neighborhood cats, and allowed me to prove that the a mail delivery service did deliver the package the claimed they did.

    9. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I have a SimpliSafe, we bought a kit. We have an entry sensor on both doors and all of the first floor windows. It came with a motion sensor and a glassbreak sensor that we installed but weren’t entirely sure we needed, and we added a smoke alarm, so we’ll get a call from the central station if the smoke alarm goes off when we are not home.

      We turn it on at bedtime and leave it on until someone goes outside during the day, and just leave it off until bedtime, unless we go out for something. Then we’ll turn it on for the duration.

    10. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Ours is through Vivint and we’ve been happy with it. I like that it has Google Home integration and standalone apps on Android and iOS.

      We arm it at night and when we’re going to be away for more than 4 hours. Less than that and we’re not as disciplined.

    11. Cambridge Comma*

      We have a comprehensive one because we had squatters during our renovation. A second attempt at squatting failed because of the system so it already paid for itself.
      It has different modes so we have it on with the doors armed only all day and night because we have an annex room where we wouldn’t notice a break in.
      We have a monthly subscription but now that we know more about it I would rather buy the system myself and have no running costs. We would save the cost of the system back within four months. Now we have to wait for our contract to expire.
      I like having it. We’ve had 3 false alarms in 2 years, one caused by fireworks hitting the doors (so not quite so false, just dangerous in a different way).

    12. Kage*

      We got a system from Abode with some cameras from Nest after we were broken into. We like Abode as, similar to SimpliSafe, it’s a customizable system. Since we don’t have AC/need to leave windows open overnight in the summer, we can’t use window sensors; we were able to buy instead motion sensors. We also love that it can be tied into your phones and so will automatically turn on/off when we both would leave/come home. We typically have it on whenever we’re gone as well as overnight while we’re sleeping. Sometimes I will turn it on during the day/early evening when I’m home by myself and going to be upstairs where I wouldn’t hear someone breaking in. It can also be auto-set to turn on/off specific times of day.

      After the one-time equipment cost, we now only pay about $80/year just to keep the unit having its own cellular service so that if we lose power/WiFi, the system stays armed (already has its own battery). I think there is a more-expensive monitored option but we have never had that. In the 3 years we’ve had it, we’ve had maybe 3 false alarms (all triggered by pets banging into doors promptly them to swing and set off the motion sensor). We’ve also had probably an equal number of false “real” alarms in the early days where we’ve set it off by opening a door/setting off the motion sensor because we forgot to turn off the system (the 4-yr-old wandering downstairs alone for example).

    13. Bazinga*

      We have Ring and we’re happy with that. It also has a smoke alarm that will notify the fire department as well as our phones.
      I like that because we have dogs and I would hate for something to happen when we weren’t home.

  2. Mental Health and Adult Kids*

    My 18 yo college freshman has struggled with depression and anxiety since about the age of 10. Did therapy through much of the teen years, which was helpful but with turning 18 and going off to college, they’ve lost access to that therapist. Also not willing to do teletherapy with the former therapist or find a new one at school.
    Between the pandemic and the transition to college, things have gotten bad.
    How can I help with getting them to accept and use medication and/or therapy? I am at a loss. Since they’re reaching out to me 3-4 times a day in a paralyzing panic, missing classes, and leaning heavily on me I feel that I have standing to try and help them find help that doesn’t involve being on the phone with me 2-3 hours/day.
    I read “I am not sick, I don’t need help” but it was more personal story than helpful ideas.

    1. Pennyworth*

      I have a family member with similar mental health issues who struggled at the start of an education course. It turned out the college had all sorts of experienced people who could assist with advice and support. I suggest you encourage your freshman to search out what help is available, as soon as possible. I also found WhatsApp messaging a less stressful way to communicate, as it allowed us both to be getting on with other stuff between messages and not tied up on the phone. Things improved for us, I hope they do for you too,

        1. Cabbagepants*

          I also read the child as male. Rereading the letter, my silly brain read “freshman” as gendered even though it isn’t. Oops!

    2. Jessie*

      My anxiety actually started in my freshman year of uni. The transition to high ed is hard and can definitely make things much worse if they are already struggling with anxiety. I can totally understand the paralyzing panic.
      Why are they objecting to getting therapy though? If they had it before and it helped, what is the issue? Especially, if you say, they can go back to the former therapist?

      1. Zooey*

        My experience (as someone who works in higher ed) is that sometimes students have a feeling that starting university will be a new era in which they leave their previous problems behind them. Then when that doesn’t happen, it combines with the general tendency of depression to get in the way of your ability to get help and makes them reluctant to go back to the strategies that work. It’s a really painful realisation as you enter adult life that you are living with a chronic disease that will always need to be managed.

        1. Mephyle*

          There are therapists who specialize in helping patients cope with the idea that their recently acquired disease is chronic and will not go away. I’m aware of this in terms of diseases with physical symptoms, but perhaps this type of specialization can also be applied to patients with mental illness.

        2. Zooey*

          Just coming back to add for the OP that while it can be a hard road for students like this to get back to recognising they do need help, when they do it usually helps a lot if they have supportive parents and former coping strategies. Good luck and hang in there.

      2. Mental Health and Adult Kids*

        I honestly have no idea why they won’t go back. I’ve asked. All I get is a flat NO. I texted with the therapist (to find out if teletherapy was even an option) and she said very much what Zooey suggested. She advised just being gentle and persistent and making sure they know the option is there.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      We went through this but with the adult child still at home. I’m sorry I don’t have much practical advice but am sending emotional support. We had to basically wait it out until he was ready for counseling. While we waited, we found much support from NAMI, national alliance for mental health. What I learned there was to draw boundaries, like I’m not paying for school without support in place, or I’m not able to provide what you need over the phone, it requires a professional. Not delivered in those words but those are the ideas. I agree reaching out to the school could help but I found it gets so much harder when they turn 18 bc they are legally adults. I think you need to work out a plan with them; I cannot force you to get a therapist and I cannot be your therapist, I’m not qualified, so how do you propose we move forward?
      Best to you and your college freshman!

    4. CJM*

      I went through this with one of my kids.

      I pressured her into weekly therapy appointments through cajoling and demanding. I didn’t outright threaten to move her home if she didn’t go, but It was in the back of my mind — and hers too, I’m sure. Not as punishment but because she was ill and needed care, and home was ideal if she couldn’t get better away at college.

      I second looking into mental-health services that the college provides, although off-campus therapists are fine too (mostly we used the latter).

      Compliance — going to appointments and taking medication as prescribed — was the biggest challenge. Many times I took an afternoon off work to get her to her appointment. College was 60 miles away, so it was a royal pain. But there were many missed appointments when I didn’t do that, and the time together seemed to help her. (We’d usually run an errand after her appointment.)

      In retrospect, I probably should have moved her home. But there was no clear answer at the time and a lot of social and familial pressure to keep her on campus, even after she flunked some courses because she couldn’t get herself to classes. We muddled through five years until she graduated, and it was hard.

      The worry and sense of helplessness as a parent in this situation is difficult to bear. I hope you find some good help for your child and also for yourself. I saw a therapist during those years mostly to help me support my child.

      Wishing you and your family the best.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I think you need to be firm. Even though your child is 18 and at college, they are still a child and still looking to you for parenting. What would you have done if your, say, 11 year old were frequently unable to attend classes, called you from school 3-4 times a day in a panic, and said that they didn’t want therapy? I think you need to do that exact same thing right now.

      My child went through something quite similar when he was in 8th grade and also when he was a sophomore in college. In both cases I waited until there was a bit of a crisis, and then when he was leaning on me very heavily I basically said, “here is how I can help you in this one crisis, BUT this situation is unsustainable and you have to agree to see a therapist and take medication if that’s recommended.” Sometimes as a parent you have to strike while the iron is hot.

      I recommend that at the next serious melt-down/class performance issue, you summarize that big picture for your child (“you are in crisis, I am not a therapist, this is not getting better”) and then you tell your child that they need to get immediate professional support.

      I would offer some choices, including “I can come to campus, help you speak to the dean about taking a medical leave of absence, and you can come home and figure out your next steps with your current therapist,” “I can come to campus and help you get set up with their mental health support and be sure you have an individual therapist and that you are in the school support network,” “you and I can have a Zoom conference with your old therapist to figure out next steps.”

      What I would not do is rely on this child, right now, being able to connect themselves with student health services or a therapist without your assistance.

      1. Artemesia*

        One of the worst parts of mental illness in the US is that our support systems are very difficult to access (although it should be better on campus) and people who are ill often just don’t have the ability to do what is needed to find help. I won’t share many personal details because they are grim, but at one point I had to beat the bushes for a psychiatrist they could see from 2000 miles away because they just couldn’t find one themselves once enough disaster had ensued that they were finally willing to get help. The hardest thing in the world is helping an adult child with mental illness because ‘they aren’t sick, they don’t need help.’ I would be tempted to go to your child’s school and work with them to get treatment set up as a condition of support for continuing school. It is good that they are reaching out to you because at least then you have a chance of helping. What makes it so difficult is that often with appropriate meds and therapy they CAN manage well — but getting there is really tough. colleges have mental health services and college towns are usually better equipped with professionals than places without colleges. So there are probably resources there but you may have to do the heavy lifting of helping your child get connected. I am sorry you are facing this but also heartened by the fact that your child is reaching out to you and thus probably open to help.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, and it also depends a lot on the jurisdiction. Here, once a child hits 18, as a parent you have no more right to their medical info than you have to any random stranger’s, and if your young adult child doesn’t accept your help or allow you to act on their behalf in medical matters, you can’t do anything until the kid is in such a state that they can be taken into involuntary care. Here, your legal status as a parent ceases to exist the day the kid turns 18. Sure, you can set the terms under which your adult child is allowed to continue to live at home, but that’s about it. This has led to a few tragedies over the years, as the brain isn’t fully mature until about 25 and there’s a reason why many wealthy people make wills where their property will be held in trust until the heir turns 25.

    6. Red haired runner*

      My university had a system where you could submit an anonymous report if you were worried about someone and a counselor would reach out to them to schedule an appointment. Does their school have anything similar?

    7. Anon for This*

      Did your child say why they didn’t want to do telemedicine visits with the former therapist? I think you may potentially have 2 issues- the depression and anxiety, and also maybe a resistance on child’s part to acknowledge the level of help they need?

      How are you doing? 2/3 hours a day on the phone trying to help at a distance sounds really frustrating and draining. When I was going through a serious mental health crisis across the country from my family, my mother started seeing a therapist to help her be able to deal with her feelings of frustration and fear over me. A therapist might also be able to help you come up with a plan provide support to your child without feeding into unhelpful patterns of behavior.

      1. pancakes*

        I wondered about that too, and wonder whether trying a new one isn’t exactly what’s needed here. It doesn’t seem like the old therapist has been all that helpful. Only feeling ok if and when the old therapist is within reach isn’t sustainable.

      2. Mental Health and Adult Kids*

        I’m managing okay. Our insurance for mental health needs SUCKS and I hesitate to use what little benefits we have for me when my kid has such greater need.

        1. I'm just here for the cats!*

          Do you or your spouse have an eap that includes therapists. It could help you with your needs and not go on your insurance and be free.

          For your child I would find out what counseling they have on campus. Maybe give them those options next time they call you in a panic.

          I feel for you because I see this all the time. I work at the front desk at a university’s counseling center. I hope you can find help.

        2. Natalie*

          Coverage limits are practically always determined on an individual basis, I’ve never heard of them applying to everyone on the policy? I would double check this.

      3. The poster formerly known as Pomona Sprout*

        I second this suggestion to get a therapist for yourself. I think that could be a huge help.

    8. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

      We had a very similar situation with my daughter. I was able to convince her to talk to a campus counselor, who called me (with her permission) and said she really needed to come home for a bit. It wasn’t until I picked her up that I realized how bad it had gotten. She came home, initially just for a weekend, but ended up needing the semester off. It was the right decision for her, and she transferred schools and did extremely well.
      I got her to go to the counselor by telling her they could help her figure out what to tell her profs, since she was overwhelmed about her grades. Maybe there’s a tack you can take with your son that’s similar?

    9. Kanon*

      “ not willing to do teletherapy with the former therapist or find a new one at school.” not willing or not able? Will they let you make the appointment for them and help them login/drive them there? It’s a balancing act between helping someone and doing it for them but sometimes you need to take over a bit. At least this has been my experience with other adults but not as a parent which has its own dynamics.

    10. c_g2*

      I’m sure you know this, but the seeming refusal to schedule stuff is a symptom of depression. Like the others suggested taking the first step to reach out to counselors could be a big help. It might be a good discussion to have with them on if they can realistically finish this quarter or semester and steps to take for managing symptoms. They are an adult, which means learning how to self soothe and all that — I’m not saying to ignore them of course. It’s not a surprise that their mental health is suffering.

    11. Stephanie*

      We had a similar situation with our daughter last year. She was in her 4th year in college, and was calling me several times a week, crying over the smallest of things (like ants in her apartment). It was causing my anxiety to ramp up, and it was very stressful. She initially refused to even talk to someone about her anxiety, but we kept pushing–my husband and I pretty much took a tag team approach. We gave her a deadline to reach out to either the counseling department at her school or a therapist. She really dragged her feet, but finally did it, and she’s now on anxiety meds and is doing much, much better.
      Part of the issue with anxiety and depression is that you feel completely unable to make the effort to get the help that you need. As others have suggested, I would look into reaching out to the college health center and see if they can contact your son, since it just might be beyond his ability to do it himself right now.
      I’m sorry you’re going through this. It’s so hard when your kids are hurting, and it complicates things when they’re technically an adult.

    12. Firefly*

      There are several apps that use principles of CBT that might be useful here. Woebot, Unstuck, and MindShift are three I’d recommend.

      Discussing ways for them to problem solve around triggers: when I went to university, my anxiety rode me ragged to start – so much new! so much pressure! I worked with my at-home therapist to make a self care plan. We looked at my timetable, and maps of campus, and figured out the details: which library would I go to between classes, what time would I go to bed, what scripts would I have for myself if it was bedtime and I wasn’t done an assignment (it was something like, marks are important, but my health is more important). I had a specific list of things that I could ‘let go’ and things that were priorities. And honestly, I wore sunglasses and cried in class on more than one occasion. But I was there.

    13. Natalie*

      Since they’re reaching out to me 3-4 times a day in a paralyzing panic, missing classes, and leaning heavily on me I feel that I have standing to try and help them find help that doesn’t involve being on the phone with me 2-3 hours/day.

      Well one thing I would do is start setting some boundaries around this. I know you’re probably really worried and that makes it more difficult. But keep in mind that hours on the phone with you is not actually helping them, it’s a false solution. I think you can gently but firmly keep those conversations focused on what steps they are going to take (with or without your help) to treat their mental health in a real way, and build a genuine support system.

      1. Mental Health and Adult Kids*

        I’ve been giving her 10-15 minutes max to tell me about what’s triggered this call. Then I shift the call to solutions. And I keep her on speaker while going about my day working from home.

    14. Blackcat*

      As a college professor… this is a huge red flag that your child isn’t ready to be at college. I’d be worried about academic struggles as the semester goes on. Those academic struggles will make the mental health stuff worse, and your child will spiral.
      I’d draw a line in the sand: either they engage with therapy, or you no longer financially support them being in college. They will be angry at you, but I’ve seen how hard it is for students to dig themselves out of the hole they get in after a spiral like that. If you can interrupt the spiraling, do it.

      1. Mental Health and Adult Kids*

        They’re actually doing really well academically (and did throughout all high school years as well). One reason they’re struggling is that it seems like there’s not ENOUGH academics. Taking 15 credits, but only on campus 3 hours/week and feels like this leaves too much time with nothing to do. But finding friends and doing social things are hard given the intense anxiety about the virus. So 90% of the time is spent alone in their private room. They do better when keeping busy, and school and learning has always been a good coping thing.
        (And I am certain about how they’re doing academically, because they used my computer to register and saved the login in my browser. I’ll admit it, when I got worried I’ve used it to snoop. All assignments are getting turned in and grades are all As and Bs, so zero concerns with academics.)

        1. Anon for this*

          I was someone who did well academically all through college and graduated with one of those fancy latin phrases. I was also depressed, anxious, and low-key suicidal the entire time. I probably would have done something if I wasn’t so terrified of disappointing my parents. (I finally started therapy a few years after that and it was incredibly helpful, and I wish I had gone during college.) I don’t really have an…action item for you in sharing this. Just be aware, I guess, that academics going well doesn’t mean that things aren’t really bad. Especially if your kid has put a lot of pressure on themself to continue to do well academically, which they may have if it feels like academics are the one thing they can get right. Good luck. I hope everything works out well for your kiddo. Your care and worry is obvious in your posts and it really warms my heart.

          1. Blackcat*

            Yeah, I’ve seen a student in this situation go from doing great from my perspective to suddenly not turning in work at all. I don’t know exactly what went down (not my business), but I rang the alarm with student services after they wouldn’t respond to my “are you okay?” emails. They showed up in my office a bit under a year later to thank me for reaching out. They were in a VERY dark place all semester and could do the work until the moment they couldn’t anymore. I was able to let them finish the course late, but mine was the only class that was possible (I had filed an incomplete, claiming medical emergency, which was thankfully accepted by the powers that be without question).

              1. Blackcat*

                My husband did this in undergrad, as did one of my friends. My friend just snapped at the start of a final exam and just walked out without doing any of it.

                It’s pretty common. Maybe 1 out of every 2-300 students? I tend to get *some* communication from or about students who withdraw for mental health reasons, but sometimes I never hear anything. I teach large classes (100+), so I tend to see at least one withdraw for mental health reasons a year. Most of the time, I do get a response to my “are you okay, can I help?” emails. When I don’t, that tends to mean stuff is *really* bad.

                It takes a lot of work to *notice* in classes of that size though. But I teach a lot of freshman engineers and premeds, whose classes are ALL large intro ones. It matters that someone notices, so I try to be that person. Then I can connect them to the team of people whose job it is to help these students–that part isn’t my job.

        2. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

          This was exactly true for my daughter. She wasn’t able to make the kinds of social connections she needed when at college (small school, not in a “fun college town” location – all things we realized in hindsight) and the academics weren’t challenging her enough to keep the panic at bay (her usual short-term strategy).

          What I can say is that if they struggle now with the change in environment and whatever other triggers have contributed, this is a pattern that will potentially repeat at other points in the new-ness of adult life – moving to a new city, new apartment, new job, new relationship. They may be seeing this as a short-term problem – adjusting to college/on campus – and not recognizing it needs treatment.

          And I agree with others that therapy for yourself – or at the very least, a really good listening friend – is crucial. This can wear you out and if you are also prone to anxiety this level of intense intervention can be really detrimental.

    15. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

      See if your child’s school has a “concerning behavior report” or something similar that you can fill out online. At the university where I work (NC State University), we have this and anyone who is concerned can fill one out — professor, advisor, roommate, friend, family, etc. Here the reports go to a team that evaluates them and then follows up with the person of concern (in this case, your child / a student). Our team has folks from student health, counseling center, disability services, social worker, university police, university housing, etc. I would bet that many colleges and universities have something similar. (I’m an academic advisor and I have filled out a bunch of those reports in the last few weeks for students with issues like you describe, as well as other situations. More than usual, sadly.)

      In addition to counseling, your child could probably qualify for services through the school’s disability services office (= accommodations per the ADA). Mental health issues, anxiety, etc are conditions that some of my students have and get accom. for.

      If there isn’t a way to do a report as I described, I encourage you to reach out to one of the following (especially if your child has spoken favorably of any of these people): their academic advisor, their Resident Director (not the RA, who is a student — you want the adult professional in charge of the residence hall), any professional at the university they have mentioned.

      See if the school has a parents and families services, as those folks will know who to refer you to for further help.

      Lots of people at your child’s school are trained to know to refer students and parents to other resources.

      MAAK, this is so hard! I know you want to help your child, but being on the phone with them 2 -3 hours every day is not good for you and not good for them. As I have said to my family members who have been in a similar situation: I love you, but I’m not a trained counselor, and even if I were, I would not be the best person to help you; you need someone who is outside our relationship.

      Please come back and let us know how it goes!

    16. UCCAnon*

      As a psychologist who works at a university counseling center, I’d suggest reaching out to the campus counseling center and talking with someone there. They can talk with you about resources available on campus and point you in the right direction. At our center, we can’t reach out directly to students, but we can provide information to parents and brainstorm ways to help get the student connected. We frequently talk to parents about these issues and are happy to help! As others have mentioned, a lot of universities also have care teams that you can talk to or report concerns to who may be able to reach out more directly. Sending good vibes your way in navigating a difficult situation!

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Must…resist…urge…to…start…yet… another…project…

    1. chi chan*

      I have been exchanging stories with a friend, once a week. They are short stories with us as main character. I write in the third person using my name and she writes in the first person using I. I look forward to it more than I would admit.

    2. beancat*

      I really want to get back into writing my fanfics, especially since I have a shiny new fandom right now, but it’s hard! I’m struggling to come up with ideas. :(

      On the other hand I’m revisiting a fic I started four years ago, so that’s interesting!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Perhaps you’ll get new ideas revisiting that old one?
        I don’t really have any advice on this as I usually have the opposite problem of “far too many ideas”.

        1. beancat*

          I used to overflow with ideas! They’ve trickled off lately, likely because of how much creativity I used up with my manga, so revisiting the older story was like saying hello to an old friend :)

    3. Elizabeth West*

      My revision is starting to come together. I can see the bigger picture and I’m kinda excited about Book 3. *insert joyful flying Baby Yoda gif here*

      It’s hard to write a middle chapter. The story needs to have its own arc but also be a bridge between the first and last. I had no idea how tough it is until I did it. Some middle bits can stand entirely on their own; this isn’t one of them, but I took some lessons from a screenwriting podcast I listen to and I think that helped immensely. Plus, I just figured out a great cliffhanger, mwahaha.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Can I ask which podcast? Kinda curious and always on the lookout for stuff to listen to :) .
        I find I tend to struggle with middles too…I can have the beginning and ending plotted out, and the middle will just be…a challenge.

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    As usual, this is not limited to video games, all games are welcome here.
    Does anyone here have Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-reckoning and what do you think of it? I’ve seen a lot of people be rather underwhelmed. Honestly for me it doesn’t matter too much considering I have the original and I refuse to buy anything from THQ Nordic, but I’m still interested in opinions.
    As for me, I got a little further into Divinity: Original Sin. The spider queen lies dead (I originally charmed her into letting me pass but it’s not my fault she attacked once Jahan and Bairdotr followed me…), my Homestead is full of imps, and I robbed the troll king.
    I’ve also been playing some more Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles and am firmly getting my ass kicked. I do love how the Behemoth chase in stage 2 basically features an only mildly concerned Richter not even running, still doing the constipated walk he always does.

    1. Stishovite*

      I’ve been playing Elder Scrolls Online (ESO), and finally feeling like I have a handle on it. (It’s a huge MMO, with a steep learning curve, but tons of fun). Much to my introverted shock, I’m loving playing with people in my Guild (all of whom are people I’ve met in-game).

      And I’m really excited for an update to No Man’s Sky next week!

      1. Chyll*

        I had difficulty getting into ESO at launch. I might have to try it again though! It sounds like they’ve added so many fun things to it.

        I didn’t realize a NMS update is going to be released. Can’t wait to see what they come up with!

    2. Stormfeather*

      I hadn’t even heard of that Castlevania game. I’m out of touch.

      I did get Re-Reckoning but haven’t gotten far yet. It seems pretty much the original so far (which I liked), with some quality of life improvements here and there and improved graphics.

      Now that it’s the weekend I’ll maybe play some more of that and Crusader Kings 3 which is very fun if you like that sort of game, which I do :)

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        It’s a fairly old game for the psp, came out in 2007. Recently most Castlevania games have been gacha machines. And Grimoire of Souls, a mobile game that only came out in Canada of all places (no offense to Canadians, but weird choice for a country exclusive). Interestingly it’s actually three games in one: it’s a remake of Rondo of Blood that also containsbthe original Rondo and Symphony of the Night as collectibles, although like most people I’m not that big a fan of the reworked dub (no offense to Yuri Lowenthal, but I don’t really like the angsty emo teen for Alucard. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for deep voices so I’m biased in favour of Robert Belgrade anyway).

        1. Stormfeather*

          Oooo. You kinda had me at “Alucard” tho. XD Pity I don’t think I curerntly have a working PSP. Which I should remedy anyhow because while it wasn’t anything close to the 3DS in “games which I remember fondly and want to replay” it does have FF VII Crisis Core (I think it was Crisis Core), FF Tactics War of the Lions and P3P, as well as a few weird niche ones like Tales of the World that I actually enjoyed.

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            I’m noticing a preference towards RPGs here so may I also suggest Half-Minute Hero (also available on Steam I believe)? It’s basically “what if you had 30 seconds to save the world”, and is very self-aware regarding jrpg tropes. I’ve been having a blast with it, and of course the whole “30 second” thing makes it perfect for on the go. I usually don’t like timers in games because they’re often tacked onto games that aren’t built for them (looking at you, races in Assassin’s Creed) but considering here the timer is the core gameplay feature it works very well.
            Also I think a lot of people nowadays would be had at “Alucard” with that Netflix series and all (my own complicated relationship with that series notwithstanding, YAY more fans for a franchise I enjoy!). I do feel like I have to warn you that Dracula X Chronicles is a remake of a classicvania title instead of a metroidvania and SOTN is not easy to unlock (I highly recommend you look up a guide if you want to unlock it, it’s kinda well hidden). Honestly my biggest problem is getting used to the way Richter moves (especially the backflip) – Maria is much handier in that regard but she’s also a glass cannon.
            If you’re looking to track down a copy of the psp version mine cost me €30 so not that expensive. If you’re mostly interested in SOTN (that’s the one Alucard appears in, he’s not in Dracula X Chronicles/Rondo of Blood but timeline-wise SOTN does follow DxC/RoB, in fact SOTN’s prologue is RoB’s ending) I it’s also available digitally on PS4, named Castlevania Requiem. It’s also a bundle with Rondo, but you can pick from the menu which one you want to play rather than having to unlock anything.

            1. Lurker variable*

              I also liked Greedfall. It has some issues but was good overall and I’ll definitely play it again. I also played through the Dragon Age series again (I still don’t love Inquisition but it progresses the larger story). I haven’t played KoA Re-reckoning yet but liked the original. Currently playing ESO Elsweyr which is good so far and I like the new necromancer class.

              1. Stormfeather*

                Oh man, I actually grabbed Greedfall for the PC on sale but haven’t played it yet. I’ve heard good things, but I’m also kinda in the middle of playing and replaying other things so…

                I’m kinda with you on Dragon Age. Origins was still best, my favorite character (Fenris) is from II, and Inquisition was… playable but fell into the trap of trying to turn things into an open-world game when the designers aren’t really any good at making a good open-world game (also looking at you, Andromeda).

    3. Jen RO*

      Can anyone recommend me some mobile puzzle games? I’m stuck in bed for a few days following surgery and I’d rather play on my tablet than my laptop. For context, I loved The Room & its sequels. I played a bit of Monument Valley 2, but I found it a bit too easy. I’d rather not have to use audio.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        If you like Hidden Object Games, I’m rather fond of June’s Journey. It takes place in the 20’s and starts when the titular character’s sister and husband get murdered. It also has you build up and decorate an island. It does use an energy system, however, so it’s not really suited for long sessions.

      2. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

        It depends on what kind of puzzle games, but I finished My Brother Rabbit this week and really enjoyed it. It is similar in style to Machinarium, they both have hidden object aspects along with minigame puzzles and slightly bigger picture “what do I need to make this bigger thing work” problem solving. They also both have a lovely hand drawn art style and are available across multiple platforms, so should hopefully be compatible with your tablet.

      3. Kayemm*

        I also loved The Room! I would like to suggest Stardew Valley, which is a farming sim but also has quests and storylines. It’s very engaging and soothing at the same time.

    4. Liane*

      Writing a number of game blog articles to get me through November at least, since I am having carpal tunnel surgery this coming Friday and the second mid-November. Right now I am working on October pieces with a Halloween theme, creature game stats for various RPGs.
      If I get on a roll, it’s on to December, because articles scheduled for the winter holiday season have early deadlines.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Eh, it happens. A few weeks ago I mis-nested the gaming thread underneath the writing thread soo…balance has been restored I guess :).
          Good luck with the surgery, I hope all goes well.

    5. Jay*

      I’m mostly playing the new season of Fallout 76 and Marvels Avengers.
      Despite what some have said on the forums, I greatly enjoy them both.

      1. Stormfeather*

        I should try Fallout 76 again at some point since I’ve heard they’ve improved it in various ways, but there were just SO many things they did hilariously wrong at launch, and still so many things that i’m like WHYY (like… their closest thing to an MMO in a setting where there are the fewest actual human beings around just via the lore? WTF?), and annoyed because this is the setting that I would MOST want a popular, fun, large game in.

        1. Jay*

          They have NPC’s now.
          In fact, several factions of them.
          Also Camps are pretty awesome these days.
          You can even operate your own shop.
          It’s a great time to jump back in, as they just started a new season.
          It’s based around board game, and every Season Daily mission you complete advances your piece one place and gives you a themed reward.
          It’s all themed around a fictional 80’s era G.I. Joe knock off called Armor Ace.

          1. Stormfeather*

            I might try again at some point but still haven’t worked through my feelings of betrayal XD. Well, plus I have so much else going on RN.

    6. Holly the spa pro*

      Im jumping back and forth between Fallout 4 and Spiritfarer. Some very extreme differences in tone there lol. Shout out to the commenter that recommended Spiritfarer last week. It is as gorgeous and comfy as promised. A friend asked me what the game was about and all I could think to say was, “Well, Im running errands for ghosts?” Which sounds like it shouldn’t be fun but totally is so i think that speaks a lot to the games design.

      My husband is playing Kingdoms of Amalur and seems on the fence about it. He described it as a single player, watered down World of Warcraft which I can jive with on a certain level since we played WoW for 10 years but I think ill wait on trying it out myself.

      1. MEH*

        It me! I’m glad you’re enjoying Spiritfarer and ‘running errands for ghosts’ is a great way to describe it. I have a hard time talking about it because it defies definition in many ways. I still think about it a lot and hope to find another game that is similar in feeling.

        1. Holly the spa pro*

          The closest thing i can think of is Hollow Knight. It also has great art design and rich story and characters and triggers the feels so it give me similar vibes even though the actual gameplay is much different.

          1. MEH*

            I loved Hollow Knight because it had a similar moodiness and some of the same mechanics as my favorite series, Dark Souls. Unfortunately, I am terrible at platforming and could not get very far into the game. I may have to give it another go!

            1. Holly the spa pro*

              Im also so so bad at platforming. Even the light, low stakes platforming in Spiritfarer wrecks me. Luckily, my husband is great at both platforming and Dark Souls so ive been able to live vicariously through him

              1. MEH*

                I said some very un-chill things while trying to platform in Spiritfarer. My theory is that games that are not platformers should not try to include platforming because it’s all about precision and not easy to code (I think). I’m firmly mediocre at Souls game, but I’m stubborn and those are games you can brute force your way through.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, that fits with what I’ve been hearing. Not gonna lie, I enjoyed the origin but it’s not really a classic or anything and definitely not something i expected to see remastered so soon.

          1. MEH*

            There’s a free demo of Spiritfarer on Steam! I know I’m pushing it like I made it (I didn’t), but I just love it so much.

    7. beancat*

      Super Mario 3D Allstars! I haven’t played Super Mario 64 in so long, despite it being my favorite Mario game, so I’ve been VERY excited to pick it back up! I’ve had it just over 24 hours and have 34 stars already, so I’ve clearly missed it! :)

    8. Firefly*

      New board game, of the fast after-supper variety, is QBitz. It reminds us of a cross between the card game Speed and the pattern game Set. A brain workout!

    9. Chyll*

      Went back to Skyrim for what feels like the 24,667th time and am enjoying it a lot.

      Bethesda games have always worked well as a coping device for me. I started up Oblivion for the first time when I got H1N1 and it made it bearable.

      My grandmother passed around the day Skyrim came out. As I grieved, running around snowy peaks at night looking at the Northern Lights and hearing the characters fondly speak of their ancestors was strangely cathartic.

      Now, I started playing earlier this week after work, but with the news yesterday, the game (among other things) helps me feel a little less scared and hopeless.

  5. Zandt*

    What’s the phrase/idiom that means “the thing that finally prompt someone to do something”?

    As in, “his mother’s call was the …. he needed to finally sign up for the program”.

    I don’t know why but I just can’t remember what it is! It’s been driving me mad the whole week.

      1. Zandt*

        Yeah, I keep thinking it’s this one, but somehow it still doesn’t sound quite right? But definitely something similar!

    1. Ewesername*

      “Strawling that broke the camel’s back”,or “the final straw” is the idiom that comes to mind

    2. Forrest Rhodes*

      Hmm. Could a case also be made for catalyst? Like, “the cat gnawing on my toes this morning was the catalyst that finally got me out of bed”?
      Yeah, maybe too much of a definition-stretch … but I actually kinda like it.

  6. StellBell*

    Thank you all for the advice on a topical cream for Tinea. I found some Lamisil in the local pharmacy and have used it all week and it has really worked. I appreciate this community.

    Now for another question: does anyone here make their own clay face/body masks (out of say green bentonite clay, argile verte)? If so, aside from water, do you add anything else? I am making one today with diluted mint tea instead of water to try out. I may also try a paste of blended cucumbers and clay (blending cucumbers first, then mixing with clay in a mug, not in the blender).

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      I’ve used honey in place of the water (for its antibacterial properties) but try it on a small area of skin first. It worked great for me, but made my mom’s skin very irritated.

    2. Generic Name*

      Ive put a few drops of essential oils in homemade clay masks to make them smell nice. Make sure you read about the oil before you use it, as some can be skin irritants.

  7. Ask a Manager* Post author

    This week’s crocheting questions:

    1. I’ve already accumulated a surprisingly large collection of yarn. Some of it is cheap yarn I bought to practice on, and I just got way more than I needed. And some of it is stuff I bought before I fully understood exactly what I’d want to make and what I’d need for that. Part of me wants to freecycle everything that’s not earmarked for a specific project, but part of me thinks maybe I’ll need it for some point for something and will regret having gotten rid of it. How do people manage their yarn supplies?

    2. Bernat blanket yarn: Never again! I finished one blanket with it, and I’ve started a second, but I’m not buying any more after this. It’s so bulky that I can’t find stitches that look good with it. I made a third of a blanket using moss stitch (against the advice here!) and then ripped it out because it somehow came out looking more like a retro-style bedspread/coverlet than a blanket. Now I’m just double-crocheting with it, but I am done with this yarn after this!

    And more generally, I am *really* liking crocheting at this point and am so glad I stuck with it through the frustration. (Also, thank you to whoever recommended Daisy Farm Crafts blanket patterns last week — I have bought supplies for several of their blankets.)

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Ah, yes, the infinite “I may need these supplies at some point” debate of any crafter.
      Personally I don’t have that much yarn, but you might want to try getting rid of the yarns you absolutely don’t like – maybe you don’t like the texture, or the colour looks different in real life than in screen (assuming you bought online, of course). For example I think you said you don’t like variegated yarns so much, so maybe getting rid of those first (if you haven’t already) could help. You don’t necessarily need to throw them in the trash, perhaps you could donate them to a charity if there’s any that take them (I don’t know about US charities but I’d assume something like Goodwill might accept yarn?)
      Yarn that you don’t want to get rid of I’d still try to use as soon as possible – don’t wait for the “perfect project” to use that beautiful soft yarn on because the “perfect project” is like a dream job: it extremely rarely, if ever, comes along.

    2. Germank106*

      Yeah, not liking the bernat yarn either. I’m procrastinating on the blanket for my sister in law. Only 15 more rows to go, but I’d much rather work on something else. Gameplan for next year is just to make new socks (knit and crochet) since my old ones seem to be walking off (literally) every time one of the children visits.
      Just keep building your yarn stash. I clearly fall into the SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy) category, but I like having different yarns to choose from for multi colored projects.
      Have you looked at the “Sophie’s Garden” and “Sophie’s Universe” blankets on Ravelry? They are lovely and you are given a lot of freedom towards yarn choice and colors.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oh, yes, looking up projects that leave a lot of freedom or are specifically designed to go through your stash would be a good idea too.

        1. Ariaflame*

          The local Cat Haven (rescue and rehoming) is where a friend of mine knits or crochets up the yarn she doesn’t want to make blankets for the cats (they each get their own and it goes with them to their new home). The ones here have specifications on size (though I doubt it’s down to the mm) so might want to see if there’s any local things for that.

      2. Hotdog not dog*

        I’ve been trying to find a good crocheted sock pattern. I’m working my way through just about everything on Ravelry, but haven’t found “the one” yet!

        1. Germank106*

          I couldn’t find anything great for crocheted socks either, but I did find “Summer Sorbet Socks” on the Drops pattern website. I’ve made them in a single color and striped. I used Nicole Cormiers basic sock pattern from Ravelry and the chart/written instructions from Drops for the actual pattern.
          Here’s the link to the Drops page: https://www.garnstudio.com/pattern.php?id=4477&cid=17
          and here’s the link to the Nicole Cormier basic sock info pdf: http://simplesockmaking.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/BasicToeUpCrochetedSock.pdf

    3. Kate*

      I actually turned my mountains of extra scrap yarn into a huge “COVID blanket”. It’s 200 cm by 200 cm and looks like stained glass.

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            You host the picture on your favorite photo hosting site ( I use imgur), and share the link.

    4. Oxford Comma*

      This is called a stash and if you aren’t careful, this can take over your house lol. I put mine in big gallon size ziploc bags making sure to keep at least one ball band so that I am not pulling it out months later trying to remember composition, weight and yardage. I also keep mine in a cedar chest or you can buy cedar balls/blocks. If moths ever get in there, you’re done.

      BTW, if you’re not on Ravelry, you might want to look into it.

    5. Lifelong student*

      I manage my supply by an Excel spreadsheet which gives the color, quantity, ounces, and yards of each item as well as which of the two 50 gallon containers it is stored in. I almost always use the same brand of yarn- which in a no dye-lot yarn. In the totes, I have the skeins in gallon zip lock bags- which hold 3 skeins each. I buy lots of yarn when it is on sale so I have options when I come across a pattern to try rather than having to go out to look for yarn and pay full price. Right now I have 35 colors and over 55,000 yds! Small bits often come in handy as accents in a pattern.

      For yarns you don’t particularly like, you can make up some hats or lapghans to donate to charities- that’s what I do.

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      I wasn’t a fan of Bernat blanket either. You are now the proud owner of a yarn stash, which can potentially take over the universe if you’re not careful. The good news is that yarn is a popular donation. When I can bear to part with any, I’ve given it to the library (the Tuesday knitting club meets there to make hats, blankets, and such for charity), a local adult daycare, or Project Linus. I’ve also used it to make patchwork scarves and afghans.

    7. AGD*

      Developing strong opinions about yarn is part of the process. About a year after I started knitting seriously, I went back and removed a lot of yarn that was either super cheap or just clearly not something I was enjoying using, and hauled it to a thrift store. Textile recycling is also a thing when the pile of useless scraps gets sizeable – H&M stores sometimes have bins, which are a partial compensation for the fact that their clothes aren’t made to last.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I separate my yarns by weight (heaviness) on the first sort.
      The second sort is by color.

      So all my pastel baby yarns are together in a bag/box. The rug yarns have their own box, with bags for each color or color group, etc.

      What I liked about sorting it out was that I could really see what I would never, ever use. I could get rid of that stuff. As time went on, I also saw how I used yarn and what colors I was most likely to need. I was able to further refine what I would keep.

      Added wrinkle, my taste changed as I went along. This meant every few years I would thin the herd just because of preference changes.

      I sell it at a tag sale or I donate it somewhere. Libraries do (or were doing) craft supply sales as fund raisers. You might find opportunities that way, too.

    9. c-*

      Alison, you have cats. How about giving them a small ball of yarn to chase and play with (and wash regularly). If you make it tight, it shouldn’t unravel.

      My cat loved inheriting my scraps and was very disappointed in me when I stopped knitting.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Aside from the inherent dangers of giving cats string-like things to play with unsupervised, I have always thought that teaching the cats to play with yarn, when I have a lot of yarn in the house that I don’t want the cats anywhere near, is risky.

        1. c-*

          Mm, true on the teaching them which yarn is and not ok to play with, but I meant using the yarn to make very tight balls: they are light and somewhat bouncy and don’t unravel if you make them right (also very quick to make once you have practice). My cat chased it around and batted at it as she would a paper or ruber ball. I agree that giving a cat a long piece of string is a bad idea.

          Else, you can always crochet a couple mice, they serve the same purpose. That would be a way to use up shorter scraps, cats don’t care about color.

    10. Crafty Crafter*

      I am a bit of a crafts hoarder myself. Having all of that “just in case” and leftover fabric came in handy for face masks, though! Made about a gazillion and cleared much of my fabric stash. And I get a kick out of knowing that there are people out there whose face masks match something I wear. Be funny to run into them in the grocery store!

      I’ve got clear plastic bins and store my yarn by color. I do hang on to leftover yarn because I make things like Christmas stockings and hats where you just need a little bit of this and that for embellishments. I try to buy full skeins only when I have a specific project in mind.

      Lots of great idea here. To add/second:

      * Agreed that you should just use the yarn and not wait for that perfect project, as A.N O’Nyme said. I’m bad about putting this into practice, though.
      * Instead of doing granny squares, I’ve made several “leftover” blankets by just starting an hdc blanket and adding a new color when one ball ran out. My “leftover blues” blanket came out lovely. Just keep the yarn weight consistent.
      * You’ll eventually reach a saturation point with crocheted items for your home/family, so charity/donations are a way to keep going. Use the yarn stash for that! Lapghans, blankets, toys. Nursing homes/care centers, hospitals, programs for foster kids or new moms are ideas to add to others’ suggestions to donate crochet items. My local(ish) Michaels has a bin to drop off squares for blankets, I think for Project Linus. But there are tons of local non-profits you can contact.

      As for the thick yarns, I don’t care for them, either, so I don’t blame you for dropping Bernal Blanket. Live and learn! They are quick to make up, but not a lot you can do with stitches. Can get way more creative with medium weight yarns.

      Keep on crocheting!

    11. NRG*

      Collecting yarn can easily become it’s own, separate, fully fledged hobby, and one day you wake up and find that you have whole rooms literally filled with bins of yarn. Then the moths come. Just get rid of the yarn you don’t like before you start buying bins.

    12. Fabric Snob*

      As the person who recommended the Bernat blanket yarn in the first place, I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. Yes, it is bulky, but when I was learning to knit I found that helpful. At that time I also chose to work with a very bright color that was easier for me to see and, probably because it is synthetic, it did not fray very much. After I got the hang of knitting and became better at it, being the Fabric Snob, I moved on to more natural yarns and now I mostly use merino wools.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It was a good recommendation for that stage of learning! It let me do a blanket really quickly (plus one more still in progress), which was very satisfying.

    13. Firefly*

      Ooo, when I hit forty, I took a good look at all of my crafting supplies (I’m a knitter and cross stitcher) and gave away or threw away anything I didn’t commit to using by the time I was fifty. There was a complex stuffed animal project I’d been knitting for my toddler who is now a teenager, if that gives a clue of the age of the projects. I have the Nice Yarn to a friend, the Beginner Yarn to a middle school knitting club, and the rest of it… trash, sadly. But the feeling of trashing it helps me not buy nice yarn just because… no project, no purchase. The struggle is real.

    14. Wishing You Well*

      Bad yarn is a pain to work with. I get rid of bad yarn because hobbies are supposed to be pleasant. Goodwill will take it. Other charities and charitable organizations that knit and crochet giveaway items will take yarn. Freecycling is also a good idea.
      My yarn collection is in see-through totes with lids. I keep a swatch and a note with the yarn that states needle size and stitch and row count. I used to buy yarn that caught my eye. Not any more! I have a bookcase in a dust-free room that displays a lot of my eye-catching yarn to remind me how much I already have. Now I buy just enough to do a specific project that I intend to start immediately. And before I buy, I rummage through my stash to make sure I don’t already have a suitable yarn. Still, I suspect I’ll always have a huge yarn stash!

    15. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Thank you all! A question about storage: Lots of you are mentioning using airtight containers for containers for yarn and the risk of moths. Does that mean that those beautiful photos of yarn shelves that I’ve been admiring (like this or this) are bad ideas?

      1. Blackcat*

        yes! You could use unfinished cedar to have something similar, but you’d still want a top that closes.

      2. Pucci*

        Cotton and acrylic are not eaten by moths, while wool and other animal fibers can be. The biggest problem with shelves is that the yarn can get dusty and when you shove too much on them, the yarn tends to flee. The other risk with shelves is that the yarn will be accessible to cats. I store my vast stash in clear plastic, lidded tubs and put a label outside with what yarn is in each. Or if you still want shelves, put them inside cabinets.

      3. Crafty Crafter*

        Open storage is an attractive look, but realistically…..dust. Just, dust. Worse than critters,imo.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. And exposure to light and whatever is in the air- humidity, cooking etc. I agree the dust is worse than critters.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        PSA It’s not just moths we need to worry about. Any natural fiber is food for carpet beetles.
        (There are no pheromone lures for carpet beetles, and they don’t stay in the carpet. I still dream about that infestation.)

        1. Anax*

          And mice. They got into the crafting supplies at my mother’s house, and that was not fun.

          (More lightly, it’s also a pain if you ever have something really stinky in the house, and that smell clings to the fibers. No one wants memories of Cooking Failures Past when they bury their face in a blanket!)

          I’m not sure how much it really helps, but I always feel better if I’ve put cedar balls or lavender sachets in with the fiber, just for a little extra deterrent.

      5. Germank106*

        It depends on where you live, what fiber your yarn is made from and how quickly you plan on using it. I live in the South, with plenty of humidity and open shelves are a no-no. I’ve had yarn felt on the shelves and get moldy. My acrylic yarn can stay out, but the wool yarn goes into see through plastic containers.
        In a more moderate climate you can probably do the shelves, but check your yarn often for damage from moth and humidity/heat and don’t keep out more than you will use in the next 6 months or so.
        You can also store your yarn in a see through cabinet like this one from IKEA: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/brimnes-storage-combination-w-glass-doors-white-s49278237/?gclid=CjwKCAjw2Jb7BRBHEiwAXTR4jVBcGF_AMpklEJKXk9Vp1WqVaTvbuCq0_8aY5pxSa9FaHbtwCjK2zRoCqTUQAvD_BwE

    16. Skeeder Jones*

      Anytime I find myself staring at a pile of objects and I’m not sure how, or if, I want to reduce the size of my collection, I ask myself “Would I buy this again?” and if the answer is No, it goes in the charity pile. I can’t do the kondo method because I love too many things, they all bring me joy lol.

    17. Imtheone*

      You are entering the famous competition, “The one with the most yarn when they die, wins!”

      A common problem among crafters!

    18. Esbashar*

      I like to wind my yarn into yarn cakes and store in a plastic blanket box. I’ve given a lot of the extra to Project Linus or the Happy Hookers- the crochet group at my church.
      Thick yarns are better for knitting than crochet I’ve found. Especially Homespun and those blanket yarns. The hook just doesn’t like them. Glad you’re enjoying your new hobby. I’m 63 and have been crocheting since I was a teenager. It’s fun to learn new stitches and techniques.

    19. Rianwyn*

      If you like organization, I suggest Ravelry.com. Free service that is a giant database to store details on your stash and supplies in amazing detail, huge searchable pattern and book database, and active message board community if you like that sort of thing. Fabulous for inspiration, or to find the perfect pattern for a particular yarn, or vice verse to find the right yarn for a particular pattern you want to try.
      With that, I suggest if you are able to afford it that if you find you don’t like knitting a particular yarn or fiber that you donate or gift it on. All that cheap acrylic that you bought to practice? It has served it’s purpose and there are folks who will take it for charity/service knitting. Not sure where you live, by my local knitting guild in northeast Ohio accepts and distributes donations to charity knitters, libraries, elder care facilities, high school arts programs, therapy programs, etc.

  8. Pam*

    Well, that was fun. We just had a 4.8 earthquake here east of Los Angeles. I guess fires and SantaAna winds aren’t enough for 2020.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      My friend keeps wondering if her family is ready to move YET.

      I am very sorry that you and those around you are getting clobbered so badly. The west coast is in my thoughts and prayers.

      1. Emma Woodehouse*

        I live in East LA, very close to the epicenter. We got absolutely rattled! Do you ever feel like the area you love is just not loving you back?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I got a pang in my heart as I read your reply. I can’t picture leaving where I live, worse I can’t picture being forced to leave where I live because of natural disasters. oh my. Some things help us to age faster, this would be one of those things in my books.

    2. Forrest Rhodes*

      Another Angeleno here. Seems like we’ve got the whole list: plague, fires, wind, heat, elections, now an earthquake? I’m expecting the Martians to land any day now.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Sorry about your earthquake.
      We’ve had hazardous smoke and wildfires here, too. A relative’s house is flooded from Hurricane Sally.
      What a year.

    4. D3*

      There have been bigger 2020 earthquakes in places not known for earthquakes, like Salt Lake City (5.7) and North Carolina (5.1)
      What a year.

  9. AcademiaNut*

    I just got Susannah Clarke’s new book, Piranesi, and read it in a single sitting. It’s completely different from Johnathan Strange and Mr Norell, but very good. Fairly short, with a rather dreamlike and gentle atmosphere.

    1. AP.*

      I have it on hold at the library pending its release. After seeing your post, I checked the library website and it’s listed as In Transit. Hopefully, it will show up soon.

  10. Might be Spam*

    Pre-covid, I volunteered at the library teaching computer literacy to seniors. Now seniors want me to come to their homes to teach and fix their computer problems. I’m not sure how to do this safely. I’m a healthy 63 year old and take pandemic precautions very seriously.

    I’m feeling very guilty about saying no, because they are feeling isolated. Is there a safe way to do this? Especially when they want us to sit right next to each other. They do not understand how to use Skype or Zoom and I’ve gone as far as I can explaining things over the phone.

    I don’t really have any way to know how careful they are really being, even though they claim to be following the CDC guidelines. Some people I know have magical thinking regarding their safety practices. I might be turning into one of them. Should I talk myself out of doing this? How risky is this?

    1. Lena Clare*

      Yes it’s risky and I wouldn’t do it. It’s especially a volunteer role and you’re not comfortable with doing it.
      You’ve gone as far as you can with them over the phone – cut yourself some slack :)

    2. PollyQ*

      There is not currently a safe way to do it, which means that you should only feel guilty if you say “yes.” You’d be protecting their health as much as yours by sticking to a “no”.

    3. AP.*

      It’s risky not just for you but for other seniors as well. You could end up being a super-spreader that infects multiple families.

      Has your library actually okayed this? Even aside from the virus there are a whole host of issues with visiting people in their homes. What if you damage their property or you are accused of stealing something? Will the library’s insurance cover you? And if you’re doing outside the library’s auspices you may need an independent policy.

      1. Lemon curdle*

        Yeah, I’d check with the library. They might have some protocols that you’d be breaching.

        And honestly I just would say no.

    4. Pennyworth*

      Talk yourself out of it! Our local University of the Third Age went totally Zoom due to lockdown and just emailed written instructions on zoom and had someone to call on the phone if you got stuck. There were 80+ year olds coping just fine. There are also thousands of ‘how to’ videos on YouTube covering every aspect of Zoom. Perhaps you could select some that seem the easiest to follow and send out links. There are two problem with older computer users – presumed helplessness and assumed helplessness. Both can be overcome!

      1. pancakes*

        If any of them have access to email and/or can receive texts it seems worth a try to send a link to a good video tutorial or two they can just click and watch — how to use zoom, how to use Skype, browser basics, etc.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          A *lot* of doctors are using HIPAA-compliant Zoom for their telemedicine appointments, so anyone who has had a telemedicine appointment in the last six months has learned how to use Zoom. My doctor’s office even had someone call and do a practice run the day before my first appointment. A lot of seniors probably learned how to Zoom from their doctor.

    5. valentine*

      The risk is too great. There are simply too many variables. You might see what companion services are doing and ask the library to pass on that info.

    6. Thankful for AAM*

      I work in a library and we have not even figured out how to safely provide one on one services at the library while maintaining 6 feet distance. I dont recommend you go into their homes.

    7. Aza*

      You have a good heart. You want to help.

      Help by not giving them covid, and having better judgement than they do.

      How awful would you feel if one or more of them got covid and died because you wanted to help them with their computer? It’s not worth it.

      They’re a really vulnerable population. Computer help is not medical, it’s not groceries. They may be unhappy without it but that’s better than the alternative.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Library board person here. Please do not do this without consulting with TPTB. I have to think that most library boards are thinking in terms of minimizing risks and they do not want staff or volunteers taking on work that has not been approved.

    9. Not A Manager*

      Absolutely not. I would just firmly say, “I’m sorry, that’s not safe for you and it’s not safe for me.”

    10. Alex*

      I volunteer with seniors as well and am definitely not doing in person visits. I just couldn’t live with myself if I brought it to them, no matter what they say (fortunately the seniors I work with are in agreement about this and we have been able to somewhat carry on over the phone.) The agency I work with has a “visits not recommended but OK if absolutely necessary” policy but that is for a situation where a senior can’t get food or is getting evicted.

    11. Might be Spam*

      Thanks for the reality check. I know I shouldn’t do it and I need to hear that I shouldn’t feel guilty about it. It’s tough to hear because I really enjoy helping seniors learn about computers and I understand feeling isolated. I’ll stick with providing phone support.

      1. Mari*

        Could you make very simple instructions using pictures to explain how to do common procedures? I’m a bit of a technophobe, and I find step-by-step instructions with pictures so much more manageable.

        1. MacGillicuddy*

          Providing hard copy instructIons, with numbered steps and plenty of pictures, is the way to go for the truly computer phobic. Watching a video can be an introduction, but that assumes they know how to view the video. Often the inexperienced user needs to go step-by-step at their own speed, where the video just keeps going. Face time and similar apps don’t let you (the teacher) point at things on the screen, and having you take over their screen remotely can be very intimidating for them.

          I once worked on a series of visual aids for computer novices to learn how to use a particular app (I’m being purposely vague about what kind of app- don’t want to give away the company or product name). We had large cards divided into numbered panels, sort of comic book style. Each panel had a written step and a picture. If the step was “press the Start button”, the picture showed the screen with a little cartoon hand with its finger on the Start button.

          This was an extremely simplified set of instructions, and it was successful because it assumed absolutely no prior knowledge on the part of the user.

          If both you and the person you’re helping have a copy of instructions in hand, then you can be on the phone with them to talk them through stuff. Being able to say “look at panel number 3” and having the picture of the little pointing hand avoids the “look at the bottom of your screen, on the left” kind of thing. With nervous users, sometimes they just don’t know how to find things on their screen.

    12. Esbashar*

      Maybe they could try FaceTime or Google Duo. That’s really not harder than a phone call but you could show them things that might not be easy to understand verbally.

    13. Cambridge Comma*

      You could take over their computer remotely using teamviewer or whatever people use these days. If they can click a link from a mail it could work. You could be on the phone at the same time.

  11. Lena Clare*

    How are your DIY projects going?

    I have 2 questions!
    Front yard looks good now, back yard is going to be renovated at the end of October. For now, I’m prepping it by brushing the walls (I think they’re the original ones so about 105 years old) and my goodness the paint is really crumbly.
    It’s taking some of the brick off. Does anyone have any recs for brick paint that’s thick enough to almost ‘plaster’ or polyfilla the walls?

    2nd question:
    I’ve got a rebounder trampoline and it’s currently in my bedroom but I don’t use it there. I used it when it was in the living room but it takes up an immense amount of space (which is why I moved it upstairs). I’m not sure what to do.
    If you have one, where is it and do you use it often? Do you have particular place for home exercise?

    Any other DIY questions or projects post here too!
    May your weekend be fruitful!

    1. Perstephanie*

      Oooh, man, this has been my week for projects!

      —harvested the garden, took the excess to the local food shelf, cleaned the bed up entirely.
      —cleaned the basement (that hasn’t been cleaned in ten years).
      —found a great handyperson to come and take away ten years of junk.
      —cleaned out the undergrowth beneath my deck (apparently having actual trees growing from beneath the deck isn’t wise? Who knew?)
      —cleaned my shed, dragged out all the broken lawn mowers for removal (see “handyperson,” above), cleared away heaps of weeds & thorny vines.
      —made big vat o’ Garden Harvest Stew.

      I am so proud of myself for all of this, I could just spit. Or, well, something. Best of all: Because I struggle with social anxiety / complex PTSD, “finding a reliable handyperson I like” has been my biggest stumbling block for years. I mean, it involves contacting strangers and coping with them in my home while I try to figure out “What Would A Regular Person Do Here” and listen to the childhood voice of my mother repeating “You’re doing it wrong!” Basically, it’s such a minefield of ways to humiliate myself that I just…don’t do it. But this week I did it. And the handyperson is awesome and I could use him again in the future and … and … proud, self, spit, yeah.

      1. CJM*

        Wow! That is one impressive list for a single week. Great job! And for the first time ever, I love spitting.

        How do you motivate yourself to work that hard? I was making good progress on clearing out our over-stuffed garage until this week, when a few family problems distracted/saddened me. Any tips to get going again?

        1. Perstephanie*

          Alas, I don’t know if any of my motivation translates to other people—!

          I’m a creature of momentum. Once I set myself into motion, I tend to stay in motion…and (of course, sigh) once I stop, I tend to stay stopped (and next thing you know, hey, another decade has passed!). There’s always a to-do list in my brain and it’s always full of “technically I should do this thing but, I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, it’s not actually going to happen” chores. This time I found a single solitary task that I realized was actually doable and not that hard — bringing (eleventy gazillion) stray squash to the food shelf. It helped that people there were kind and put me at ease. Once I was actually in motion and feeling not-even-bad about myself, I looked at the to-do list and thought, “I mean, I could just *organize* the basement a little, right? That’s not so hard?” So I swept some cobwebs. And that looked awesome and I felt even less bad about self, and I was already moving and sweaty so finding the next task wasn’t so hard.

          It helped separating the enormous list into discrete two-hour-or-so chunks. It helped to get moving at my most restless time of the day (about an hour post-coffee in the morning). But really just STARTING is the hurdle for me. Once I start, the next task becomes clearer.

          I learned writing essays in college (way back in the dim mists of time) that what I had to do was just pick up a pencil and paper (yeah, really: the VERY dim mists of time) and put a word onto the paper, no matter how ridiculous it was. “‘The Scarlet Letter’ is a book,” I began one essay. And then I just keep putting words down, and not stopping to judge. Words, words, words. As I continue…it’s like my brain slowly focuses and narrows in and I find something to say that’s actually worth saying.

          That’s kind of what I did this week. Just DID something, and then let momentum and hey-I-feel-good carry me onward, and every day’s task clarified and motivated the next day’s task.

          1. CJM*

            Much of your experience and thinking is very much like mine: keep a to-do list, find one bite-sized task to do next, and feel those good feelings. And you’ve shared some new ideas like finding my most restless time (do I even have one?). I’m memorizing this to remember when I feel discouraged: “[E]very day’s task clarified and motivated the next day’s task.”

            A week ago I had a sense of pride and momentum like you described, but this week it evaporated. I think you’re right that the key is to just get started again.

            Thank you very much!

            1. Perstephanie*

              Almost forgot the most important part: *positive reinforcement.* The minute I get a task done, even the tiniest, I give myself permission to feel all the proud I want (and I otherwise never give myself that permission). If you can enlist people to witness your work, do it. Or just take pictures and go look at your work every five minutes and run tape-look inner fantasies of people admiring it. It’s why I posted here…to brag. (And the kind comments here are making me tear up a little, honest.)

              I mean, I ate cake last night. CAKE.

              You already got a start. I say, you get cake for that. And a free pass for feeling utterly chuffed. You’ve earned it.

              1. CJM*

                Love it! And you’re reminding me of encouragement I read recently (maybe here at AAM) and copied into my motivational file: “Stubborn optimism is not the result of success but rather the cause of it.”

                I’m not typically optimistic or proud of myself, but life sure is better when I practice both. I appreciate you sharing your achievements to reinforce that!

          2. Philosophia*

            I too found it most helpful in my home life to stop dithering over which task was the best use of my time and just do SOMETHING. Objects in motion tend to remain in motion!

            To Alison and all the commentariat to whom it applies, Shana tovah.

    2. My Brain Is Exploding*

      The dining room is now for yoga. The family room has a few free weights, a compact exercise bike (a cheap one I bought at Aldi! last fall and have been very thankful to have) and a few other things. There is a rebounder in the bedroom that I use twice a week. I probably will use it more in the winter if the gym is still closed. It’s a bit of a mess but I’ve managed to cobble together enough stuff that I’m maintaining my fitness.

    3. Elle Diablo*

      We have a metal railing on our porch that it pretty much more rust than paint at this point. Watched a This Old House video where they took what seemed like an endless sequence of steps (lead paint test, scrape with metal scraper, scrape with wire brush, scrape with wire pad, clean with mineral spirits, sand, wipe, prime, paint, paint again) and it felt very overwhelming. I’m also not sure if we have to finish the whole project in a single day to avoid exposing bare metal to the elements.

      Maybe we can skimp on the cleaning steps…anyway, first thing to do is actually go buy the things!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ve been known to cheat and buy a few months by using one of those ‘bonds with rust’ paints. Turns out it bought me 3 years. It’s not as smooth as the wsy youre talking about but if the weather is questionable it’s worth seeing if it can get you to longer warmer days.

    4. Generic Name*

      That’s quite an accomplishment! I totally understand the voice in your head telling you “you’re doing it wrong”. It’s hard to ignore.

      I’m waiting for my husband to decide it’s cool enough out to tackle re-doing our flagstone patio. It’s settled quite a bit over 20 or so years and a previous homeowner did some funky stuff with railroad ties that we need to deal with. He’s already rebuilt and expanded the deck this spring. It took FOREVER, so I’m bracing myself for the back patio to be a wreck for quite a while. :|

    5. Might be Spam*

      I need a space with a smooth floor for doing my Zoom dance and Tai Chi classes. So I moved my kitchen table and chairs into the living room. I used painters tape to make a big circle on my kitchen floor (to help me stop backing into the walls).
      A long HDMI cable hooked up to an extra monitor on the other side of the room, lets me see the instructor when I am not facing the laptop. I’m tempted to switch the monitor with my big screen tv except that I wouldn’t be able to open the pantry door.
      Is there some kind of HDMI splitter so I can add another monitor? They would all be showing the same screen.

    6. Flabbernabbit*

      I just finished a summer of DIY wood deck repairs, front back, and stairs totalling about 1300 square feet. Power washed and replaced some 40 boards, some of which were in complicated stair turns, so I learned a few things. Sanded every inch and refinished all the surfaces. Looks great, but now with the weather cooling, I’m bundling up to enjoy sitting out there darn it! About 10 trips to the lumber yard taught me that men just gotta mansplain. Employees of both genders were great. Women shoppers minded their own business or were friendly. It was the male customers who were compelled to give a constant stream of unsolicited “instruction” they never seemed to offer other men. Drove me crazy.

      1. Perstephanie*

        Oh, yeah, the mansplaining. I get that, and (I hate this even more) I get “The Look.” The jaw-dropped, blank, flabbergasted, “what on earth,” “you want a TOOL? really?” “You want to leave garbage at the dump? … I mean … “ [shakes head] “sure, why not, lady” [eyeroll] Look.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I love confronting condesplainers with technical minutia. Best if I can combine that with needing to get back to finish my project before my husband takes dinner out of the oven.
        (I forget to plan ahead for meals. He grew up in a restaurant family and keeps us from collapsing into a pile of takeout menus at the end of a project day.)

      3. Sleepless*

        Oh my goodness, I once came inside and told my husband about a very large rock I had encountered while trying to dig a hole to plant a shrub. “So I thought I might see if I could break it up, so I got the pickaxe…”

        Him, with that mansplain-y smirk: “Now when you say the pickaxe, do you mean the sledgehammer?”

        Me: “What? No. I didn’t say the sledgehammer. I said the pickaxe. Also known as a mattock. I know the difference. Why would I call it something that means another thing?”


    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We just (like finished twenty minutes ago) did a mass clean out in my garage and took down the two dining room hutches the stripper nail gunned to the garage wall, hovering eight inches off the floor. There’s still piles out there, but the roll off dumpster is being dropped on Thursday so at least the trash is sorted out from the stuff we are keeping and still need to put away properly. (After dumpster week husband is building some shelving and a workbench area out there.)

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m anti paint for brick. Except the old fashioned whitewash. That’s not just aesthetic–brick needs to dry out. Look up “spalling” , is that what you’re seeing?
      Quick FYI for anyone doing brick repair & repointing– old sand mortar has to be refreshed after a number of years. That’s by design. It provides a path for water to seep OUT of brick, and its cheaper to restore than brick. Don’t use waterproof Portland cement because water will get into the brick and one good freeze, the brick can weaken and cracked off.
      Where are you and can you tell what kind of brick & mortar the wall is made of? If there are any loosened enough that you can see a maker’s mark that can get you some very specific advice.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Yes, this is what it is! I actually like the patchy shabby chic look, so we’re going to finish the other walls and do the garden bit, then wait to see what it looks like with the paving down before making a decision.
        I’m in the NW of England. I definitely don’t want to render over it if it is going to keep the moisture in. (This makes a lot of sense, thank you.)

        1. Jules the First*

          In England we paint brick when it is unsalvageable as a weatherproof surface. Please don’t try and remove the existing paint as a DIY job as you will damage the brick (and if the area is big enough, it can affect the structural integrity of the wall). Basically, you need something called masonry cement to patch the most badly damaged bits of wall, and then a specialist masonry/brick paint (that is both waterproof and breathable) to go overtop. However…which brick paint you need to use depends on what kind of brick you have (density, porosity, acidity, condition) and that can get tricky over the internets. Promain have a good blog post that explains this and a number you can call and ask silly questions of…

          1. Lena Clare*

            I already have removed a lot of the paint and flaking brick so I think I’m just going to get a bricklayer to come and look at it and tell me what to do next to make it safe. I’m kind of panicking now…

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              No panic, it’s stood for this long. If you’re on FB, look up Brick of the Day–a collection of collectors, archaeologists, historians, builders, and building history buffs with the motto “keep it brick”. It’s primarily history, but some hands-on restorers might chime in if you post pics & tell what history you know of the wall. If nothing else it would be more specific questions to ask the mason you contact for repointing.

            2. Jules the First*

              Oh no! I’m sorry! Don’t panic…unless you’re in Edwardian slum housing, you’re almost certainly fine unless you’ve been chipping away more than half of each brick. But yes, this is the kind of thing that benefits from an expert look-see before you go too far, and now that you’ve exposed damaged brick surface, something will have to be done to protect it before winter sets in.

    9. Sleepless*

      We installed metal landscape edging. We finally learned how to take care of our zoysia sod, so it looks great, but now it is crawling into everything. Now I have nicely defined flower beds and I love it.

    10. Kardamumma*

      My sister in London UK has her rebounder in the back garden and the foxes love it. She has a camera set up that records them bouncing around. So funny!

    11. Wired Wolf*

      I’m out visiting my dad in NM; our respective states are now on each other’s “nice list” for the time being, we’re both healthy and I just needed some time away from my mom. He actually managed to clearcut the jungle that was his courtyard; there are a few weeds growing, but the majority is clear (I hope the Russian olive trees are gone for good). We’re currently working on a plan for that and also his pantry (UGH–he’s a bit of a food hoarder). His pantry shelves are particle board and literally caving in. He’s going to plan a pantry using the Elfa tool (I adore Elfa) and once we do that and know what space we have to work with we’ll know what to throw out. I also fixed a few of the bathroom faucets, and found out he has mice–we got some live traps and are going to check the outside of the house tomorrow to see where they might be getting in.

  12. Lena Clare*

    I’ve just got an Apple TV subscription. I find that watching it online is frustrating because it keeps on freezing. I can watch about 1 hour then it just gives up.

    Anyway – I’ve discovered The Morning Show and it’s fabulous! I’ve always thought that Jennifer Aniston was an underrated actor but she’s amazing in this and I’m glad that she’s finally got a vehicle to showcase her awesome talent.

    And I’m watching Ted Lasso! I just love him. Its such a wonderful show, and it’s great to see a funny non-misogynistic male lead.

    Amy other TV recs?

    1. Lady Alys*

      LOVE Ted Lasso!
      I recommend “The Detectorists,” with Toby Jones, for a low-stakes slice-of-life comedy about a few friends in a metal-detecting club.

      1. Here for the Randomness*

        The Detectorists is great. It is on Acorn which my library allow a subscriptions so check for that.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I have a free year from getting a new phone, and there are a few shows I want to watch, but our main streaming device is a PS4. Which doesn’t support AppleTV. I’m kinda bummed, guess we’ll have to use a laptop or iPad.

    3. CTT*

      Another Apple TV+ recommendation: Dickinson! It’s very fun.

      I’m still surprised that Ted Lasso is good; I like all those people, but every time I heard about it I felt like I was being trolled because I loved those ads so much (my family and I still yell “HEY-O, THREE POINTS” whenever a shot goes over the goal thanks to him).

    4. Jay*

      Don’t know if these would be your speed, but I’m currently binging three slightly older shows in rotation on Amazon with my Prime membership:

      30 Rock (everyone knows this one)

      Warehouse 13 (basically, it’s a serio-comedic sci-fi show about what is more or less that giant warehouse where they put the Arc Of The Covenant in Raiders, so it’s awesome).

      Eureka (Warehouse 13’s Sister Show about a secret town in the Pacific Northwest populated by slightly crazy super geniuses, so, also awesome).

    5. pancakes*

      You might be able to get a free trial of the Metropolitan Opera app, which works via Apple TV. Some great productions in there of you like opera.

    6. Uranus Wars*

      I 2nd The Morning Show. I also loved the movie Greyhound, with Tom Hanks. As a recent subscriber, I am still looking into it and am going to follow this thread – thanks!

      I haven’t had any issues with Apple TV freezing, but I also stream it on an Apple TV – do you? Could that be an issue?

      1. Lena Clare*

        No, I don’t, and I did wonder if that was the issue. I’m just streaming it through my internet on my usual laptop, I don’t have any Apple products. And can I just day that my autocorrect automatically capitalises the word Apple, which is kind of depressing!

    7. Parenthetically*

      We are getting Apple TV+ purely so we can watch Long Way Up. We are devotees of the Long Way… series and my extremely low-key husband gave a big WOOHOO when I sent him the trailer.

  13. Online Therapy recs/advice needed*

    Anyone have any experience with online therapy? I’ve been suffering from chronic depression & anxiety and have had a devil of a time finding an IRL therapist. I’m pretty sure I’d want someone who could prescribe. Any general suggestions or specific sites that people have found helpful? Thanks!

    1. BWP*

      If covered by your health insurance, I recommend starting with your health insurance provider’s website and searching for local therapists. That way, you’ll have a list to work from and narrow down based on providers who accept your insurance. I also recommend doing a very quick Google or Yelp search for the provider – you’d be surprised how many reviews there are out there about providers. I found it helpful to read the therapist’s bio if they had a website to get a sense of their specialty area. If you do not have coverage for therapy, I suggest going to psychologytoday and searching by zip code. We referred people to this site when I worked at a sexual assault center. You can filter by specialty areas like anxiety, depression, etc. Good luck!

    2. Lady Heather*

      People’s experience with things like betterhelp and talkspace are really dependent on what therapist you match with – some therapists collect your money but miss all your appointments – and the platforms are.. kind of fishy. They present themselves as ‘We connect people to therapists’ but then they don’t guarantee you’re talking to a licensed therapist (let alone one licensed in your state), and they don’t allow therapists to follow their professional ethics guidelines regarding confidentiality (the platform owns your data) and duty of care – because all communication has to go through the app, and through the platform’s guidelines, they can’t do some of the things you’d normally expect a therapist to do. (Such as referring you to someone more equipped to meet your needs).

      The platforms also aren’t fair advertisers – in ads (and especially in influencer marketing) they say “Come to us with all your mental disorders!” but when you read the T&C or go through the sign-up process, you’ll be rejected if you actually have clinically significant problems. Which is deceptive and bad.

      So I’m not a fan of those platforms.

      “Zoom therapy” (or Skype, or ..) with a real therapist that you have a direct relationship with, not through an app? Can be very effective. I’ve not done it myself, but I’ve considered it when I needed a rare specialty.
      I have done some phone therapy in the past, with someone whose office was quite far away so we’d do an hour session one week and a 30-minute phone call the next week. That was more a check-in than a session, but it was very useful.

      It’s important that you have a private place to conduct the online therapy.

      1. Natalie*

        I find their advertising regarding price extremely deceptive as well. The tier that’s “cheaper than traditional therapy” includes zero “live” sessions, it’s entirely asynchronous chat. Once you pay for the levels that include any real-time conversation, it’s half the normal session length and the cost would cover 2-3 full length sessions in my area. And that’s before any insurance coverage. (No insurance covers these subscription services, as far as I know.) There are also no refunds if you don’t like the service, don’t find yourself using it, or forget to cancel an auto renewal.

        Especially now, when most therapists are offering video sessions, I honestly just don’t see the point.

    3. chi chan*

      I moved away so I have been having sessions on zoom for about one and a half year now. It works for me. You should have a quiet well lit place where you wouldn’t be disturbed and either do it on a laptop or prop your phone in such a way that your upper body is visible. My therapist says it helps her pick up my body language. Generally I make notes on my phone of what I want to discuss in therapy during the weeks. Of course I’m not too strict about it because sometimes the therapist encourages me to explore. Honestly it is a lot less hassle than dressing up and driving somewhere.

    4. Aza*

      If you can’t find a therapist who can prescribe, many doctors will. Definitely a general practitioner but my obgyn on my last appointment said to contact her if I ever need meds. Apparently many many people have been going on meds in the pandemic, through her office.

    5. Lyudie*

      I found my therapist through the Psychology Today site. I was already getting meds from my GP so I ended up going with a psychologist. You can filter by issues, insurance, etc. Since you want someone who can prescribe, you might want to check the https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/psychiatrists page, there are also pages for other therapists and telehealth therapists. I have been seeing my therapist via Zoom since March and I imagine many therapists are doing that these days. Good luck <3

    6. CJM*

      Have you tried Psychology Today’s “Find a Therapist” feature? I found a support group through that.

      A family member of mine is a therapist who works for a service network. If you have a network in your area, it may be easier to find someone who’s available. (It sounds like you’d want to see a psychiatrist, who can assess you and then prescribe medication, or maybe a psychologist after an initial psychiatric evaluation.) I’d start with any reasonable choice and see how it goes. I found my long-time therapist after seeing two others that I didn’t have great rapport with. All three of them were recommended by trusted people in my life: my GP or the teacher of a parenting course, for example. So that’s another avenue to find names.

      Good luck!

    7. Alex*

      I’ve been doing online therapy–my employer health plan contracts with a particular service, so I use that one.

      I really like it. I have a therapist, and then have also seen the psychiatrist for medication (at my therapist’s suggestion), both through the telehealth platform. I don’t think the psychiatrist does regular therapy generally, that is only done by therapists.

      I really like that I can just be comfortable in my own home while having a session. I don’t have to sit in a waiting room where I might run into coworkers (true story!), and I just feel all around more comfortable. Bonus that my health insurance waives copays for telehealth.

    8. Chris*

      I have been seeing my therapist via video since the start of the pandemic. Although I started with her in person, she actually moved out of state recently so I’ll be doing teletherapy going forward even if things go “back to normal”. It can feel a bit weird at first, but I feel I get the full benefit from it. T most important thing is having a private comfortable space in your home to do the session. I recommend the psychology today website. They have provider listings you can filter by insurance and specialty. If you are in the US, I would reconsider only looking for people who can prescribe, as talk therapy with a psychiatrist can be harder to find and more expensive. Most therapists are counselors or psychologists who cannot prescribe but will refer you to an MD, like a psychopharmacologist if they think you could benefit from a prescription. (That may vary by state too). I know it can be hard work to find someone and I wish you the best of luck!

    9. A313*

      Only an MD or psychiatrist in the US can prescribe meds, I think. Although my therapist, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker by title, did recommend one to me that I asked my regular doctor about, and he prescribed it.

      I’m sorry I don’t have any recommendations for finding an online therapist for you. Hopefully, someone else can chime in here. And good for you for taking this step; sometimes, especially with depression, it can seem so very hard.

      1. Natalie*

        Depends on the med and the state, but NPs and PAs can prescribe in my area. That said, IME most people who provide talk therapy don’t also prescribe drugs, they’ll refer you to your GP or a specialist for medication management.

    10. Generic Name*

      Psychology today has a really good therapist directory. Therapists generally don’t prescribe medications, however. An MD or psychiatrist will be the professional who manages your medication. My insurance has waived copays for teletherapy sessions through the end of the year, which is a godsend. It’s saving our family hundreds.

    11. Anonsi*

      Another +1 to Psychology Today as a good listing. You’ll probably save money by going to a licensed clinical social worker or counselor for weekly talk therapy. I found a therapist through Thriveworks dot com, which does video appointments. (We started in person just before covid hit). Mine is about $65 per hour session plus a $20 monthly fee for the service overall. People who can prescribe are medical practitioners and will be much much more expensive, so make sure they’re covered by your insurance. Your insurance website will have a “find a doctor” option which should let you filter by psychiatrists or general practitioners. Hope this helps, and good luck! :)

    12. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Most therapists can’t prescribe medicine. You will need to see a medical doctor like a psychiatrist or general practitioner for a prescription. And they will probably want to see you in person and do a blood test.

    13. Online Therapy recs/advice needed*

      Thank you all for your suggestions and your feedback. I was hoping to find a psychiatrist who could both prescribe & provide talk therapy, but maybe that’s too much of a unicorn. I’ll check out my insurance and the Psychology Today website.

      1. Lady Heather*

        They exist. But I don’t necessarily recommend it – they’ll likely be very expensive, for one. I also think most therapy psychiatrist do psychoanalysis – Freud-style “lay on the couch and talk about your mother, three times a week for eight years” therapy – which may or may not be an effective modality – but it’s certainly not an efficient one.

        In addition to that, psychiatrist’s training usually focuses more on the medical side and on things like diagnosis, risk assessment, etc – not so much on talk therapy. A psychologist will generally be better trained.
        Though training isn’t the end-all be-all of therapy. It’s more important you and your therapist get along/speak the same “language”, then experience is important, training is least important.

        Insurance usually doesn’t cover talk therapy from a psychiatrist either. YMMV.

  14. Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

    So do I have any financial responsibility here? My roommate went out of town for a week. I did the inside care for her dog and cat. She hired a service to walk the dog. They were lovely people but in their 80s, not nearly robust enough to give proper exercise and playtime to a big, young dog. I can’t keep up with her either.

    She’s also highly storm averse, and we had weather from Sally this week. So, bored, anxious and missing mom, she turned full on heathen this week. The worst was overturning the garbage can, and consuming several pieces of fried chicken. She’s never gotten into the garbage before. The chicken was mine. (This was an elective trip. I’m irritated she chose this week to go away, knowing how freaked out her dog gets.)

    She seems fine. If she had required medical intervention, do you think I bore any financial liability? While terrible, it was an unfortunate twist of fate. I don’t think I am responsible, but I wanted to get some objective opinions. I have no money anyway. I’m getting rent grants as it is. If I did have some, I would gladly help pay in the name of compassion.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I would say no, you’re not responsible.

      It would be different if you had been deliberately negligent – leaving the door open so the dog got out and got hit by a car for example. But in this case you were doing an (unpaid) favour for a roommate, the favour turned out to be a lot more onerous than you expected, and the dog did something you couldn’t predict in advance. So if you had to take the dog to the vet, your roommate should thank you profusely and reimburse you.

      Actually, in the future, I think you’d be fine to tell your roommate that you weren’t comfortable dog sitting in the future, and ask her to take the dog with her or put her in a kennel when she’s out of town. And cite this weekend as a reason – rambunctious large dog freaking out, and potential vet emergency.

    2. Pennyworth*

      I don’t think you are responsible in this instance, but now you know the dog can get into the garbage can you probably have a duty of care to keep dangerous stuff out of it in future. We used to keep stuff like chicken bones in the freezer and put them in the garbage can just before collection.

    3. valentine*

      I think there needs to be a negotiating of when she boards her pets (and in this case she’s responsible for the consequences of not doing so) and what responsibility you have to them when she leaves you to care for them.

    4. Quandong*

      I don’t think you would be responsible for medical bills if your roommate’s dog had become sick after eating chicken from the garbage. I’m sorry it ended up being such a bad week for you to be in charge of the pets!

      In my experience of caring for other people’s animals I have found so many things go wrong when the owners are away, it’s become the norm.

      Now I get details in writing of a local person to contact in emergencies (family/friend/veterinarian) and if the owner is available for emergency texts or calls or completely unavailable. I also won’t pay bills for other people’s animals any more (this was a $$ lesson to learn) so these days I ask that the owners make an arrangement with the veterinarian to cover expenses in an emergency. And I do ask them to leave instructions with the vet about really difficult decisions – I never want to make the call whether to try and save another person’s pet with surgery, or to start investigating mystery ailments with X-rays, etc.

      I don’t know if your roommate would be amenable to a more formal arrangement but if you do agree to care for her pets in future, it’s worth getting some agreements in writing before she departs, for your peace of mind.

    5. Loopy*

      As a dog owner, I think I’d just understand that things like this will happen and consider it an accident and not consider you/the dog watcher financially responsible at all. I’d be more upset if someone chose not to take the dog to the vet when I could jump on the phone and pay with my credit card via phone. That would be my take- your responsibility would be to make sure the dog got emergency care if warranted, but I’d be ready to pay via phone so you wouldn’t be put in a difficult financial position.

      1. Loopy*

        To be clear- I’m speaking hypothetically- not saying you should have taken the dog to the vet in THIS scenario :)

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep, that’s how it works in my house when I leave my dogs behind. The people who are still here are trusted to determine if they need emergency care, but as long as it’s not something blatant like “I deliberately fed the dog ten pounds of dark chocolate with a side of garlic and onions and then gave her ibuprofen to make her feel better,” the bills are on me.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Hard agree here. Let me know so I can give the vet my card over the phone, please. Dogs do doggly things, that is a given. The upsetting part is if the caregiver does not call to say something might be up.

        The grease in the chicken will probably make the dog’s stools wet/greasy. More concerning is if the dog ate chicken bones.
        I can tell you first hand a story about that. [graphic alert] I watched my dog go outside to make sure he was not having difficulty. Finally he passed something in the shape of a chicken bone. The dog was fine, but I was curious. So I took a stick and poked the bone. The bone was totally soft. Dogs have garbage disposers where their stomachs should be, I swear. So my dog was fine and showed absolutely NO signs of upset or discomfort. Life went on.

        Do let the owner know so she has say in what happens next.

        1. Ariaflame*

          As far as I know raw chicken bones are fine, it’s the cooked ones that are brittle, prone to splinter and cause problems. But it may depend on how it got in there. And the type of bone. And whether your dog just swallowed it or if they chewed it first.

          1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

            Fried chicken. I’m betting that she chewed really well, she doesn’t normally scarf down her food. But it’s been over 48 hours now so I think we dodged a 63-lb bullet there.

    6. Venus*

      If you are caring for a pet then your roommate needs to have a plan, such as leave her credit card info with the vet in case of emergencies. Many animals have crises when their owner can’t pay and the vet won’t treat them, so when I traveled I always left my financial info with instructions on what I wanted done (everything reasonable, with a possible good outcome). Although that plan wouldn’t help at 2am with the emergency vet, yet anyone who cared for my cat knew they would be reimbursed. If your roommate goes away again then please discuss finances! Maybe ask her to leave a card that you could use.

    7. Not A Manager*

      I’m curious about why you are going down this particular rabbit hole. The dog didn’t get seriously ill, didn’t have to go to the vet, and you have no reason to think your roommate would have tried to hold you financially responsible if it had.

      I think you’re angry about how the roommate handled this and maybe borrowing ways to be angrier (“if the dog had gotten sick then maybe **I** would have had to pay for it”).

      Maybe when your roommate gets home and you’re both in a good place, you could talk with her about the whole situation. Personally, I would start with “I love your dog but I’ve realized that I can’t do inside care for your pets while you’re away. The dog is too large and too rambunctious for me to keep her happy or even to keep her safe. This scare with the chicken really opened my eyes – she could have been seriously injured and I’m just not willing to take that risk with your lovely pet. Next time you go away you’ll need to board her with a friend or a facility that is better able to supervise her.”

      1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

        I’m not borrowing ways to be angry, but you are right that I am not happy about this past week. This is her therapy dog; I feel like she got abandoned so her human could go off and play with her new boyfriend. She could have chosen next week to go instead, when the weather should be calm. The dog had to be sedated every day for her anxiety, but I couldn’t give her as much she needed because I don’t work at home. And right now my financial anxiety is riding very high.

          1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

            I’ve let her know everything that happened. It should have been the owner who walked the dog, not sending her parents to walk this particular one.

        1. MissGirl*

          I had this problem with an old roommate. She would take off for a weekend or an evening and I felt like it was my responsibility to take care of a huge dog I didn’t want and I didn’t feel belonged in a tiny home. I wish I could say I created boundaries but, no, I was quietly resentful. I would figure out where your line is and communicate it without anger. Tell her what you can and can’t do.

        2. pancakes*

          It sounds like the dog and roommate both need care and training around managing the dog’s anxiety better. Sedating a dog every time there’s bad weather doesn’t seem sustainable or responsible to me.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Not dogs, but I have cats. When I had a roommate, I discussed with her before we moved in together that I had cats, and if I was out of town I’d appreciate if she could take care of them. She had no issues. However, I ALWAYS wrote down the food situation, any meds, did a really good cleaning before I left, left her with my number and my mom’s number, vet info, etc. Basically, if something went sideways, she had knowledge of what to do and could even bail – my mom would have come over to handle major stuff if needed. Nothing significant ever happened, but if it had I would have reimbursed costs no problem.

      I also have a duty as a pet owner to minimize the opportunities for chaos. Which means, if I was planning on going somewhere optional and I knew there was a significant possibility of tough times for the cats, guess what. I’m not going. I chose to have cats, I’m responsible for them.

    9. pancakes*

      I don’t think you can go too far with hypotheticals on this topic because your culpability would really depend on exactly what happened. Discarding the remains of a meal in a garbage can is a perfectly ordinary thing to do and the dog wasn’t injured as a result. If instead you’d, say, left some medication and the dog unsupervised, and the dog ate it and got sick, I think it would be fair to argue that you should bear some financial responsibility for its care. It sounds like you need to have a talk with your roommate about what her expectations are and what division of labor makes sense for you and her dog walkers.

    10. ...*

      No, you don’t, in face when I leave my dog with someone I offer to leave a credit card for emergency care or notify them that im willing to pay back anything the put on their own card (bc I would never want them to hesitate emergency care if he needed it). Their dog, their responsibility. Why on earth were the dog walkers in their 80’s lol? That would would if it was like a little poodle that just need to take a poop and head back in but why would she think that would work for this big energetic dog?

      1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

        This was the pet service owner’s parents. I have no idea why she thought it was a good idea to send them, when she should have come herself.

  15. Teatime is Goodtime*

    Recipe call received! Something ate my comment last week, sorry about that. I’ll post my recipe for lemon ginger shortbread cookies as a reply to this comment in a couple of hours, once I am home.

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      So, here I am finally. :)

      Shortbread cookies are fantastic because you can add basically anything to a simple base recipe. Because they are mainly butter, sugar and flour, they also store for ages in the freezer.

      Here’s the simplest base recipe that I use:
      1/2 cup butter
      1/3 cup granulated sugar
      1 cup flour (I err on the side of too much)
      Optional: 1-2 pinches of salt

      Cream the butter with the sugar, then add the flour (and salt, if adding). Mix until dough comes together and is smooth. Roll into a thick log shape, wrap in plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for a half hour. Then preheat the oven to 325ish, cut slices off of the log about a half-inch wide and bake on a cookie sheet until golden brown.

      Notes for more advanced baking: Some recipes call for caster sugar or powdered sugar instead of granulated. These are great for a finer texture, but the amounts will be a little bit different. I suggest googling around–I rarely remember to have enough of these in my kitchen, so the above recipe is usually what I end up using.

      For lemon ginger shortbread:
      Add the zest of one lemon to the butter before adding the sugar. Adding the fine additives to the butter first amplifies their taste a little bit. After the flower is well mixed in, add 8 finely chopped sticks of candied ginger.

      For cardamom shortbread:
      Add 1 tablespoon of cardamom. I like adding the salt to this recipe, but some people don’t like the salty note.

      For lavender shortbread:
      Add 1-2 teaspoons of finely chopped lavender.

      And so on! The possibilities are endless. :)

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Sigh. pancakes downthread reminded me that golden brown is probably too dark and overbaked. Only slightly brown. Sorry, I haven’t made these in a while.

    2. Flabbernabbit*

      I’ve been looking for a savoury shortbread recipe containing a cheese like Gorgonzola or Parmesan that results in a soft texture. I had one years ago and lost it. Every well reviewed recipe I’ve tried is intended to be more hard or crisp. I’m a basic occasional baker, so I tend not to experiment. Any ideas?

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t have a favorite recipe that incorporates cheese yet, but there’s a Food & Wine recipe for savory shortbread with a bit of curry powder that I love, and an Epicurious recipe for rosemary shortbread that I’ve made at least once per year since it was published ages ago. The F&W one is called “spicy cocktail shortbreads” by Gail Monaghan.

        If you have rice flour on hand, try substituting a tablespoon of that for flour in any shortbread recipe — it gives a nice, delicate texture.

        Crispness is, in my experience, often related to over-baking. You want to take them out of the oven when they’re just barely starting to take on color.

        1. Flabbernabbit*

          Thank you, I will look these up. Agree I’m probably over baking. I have tried under baking but either way, my cookies are just dense and heavy as well. Looking forward to rosemary in my cookies. Spicy too. On it.

      2. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Oh that does sound delicious! I don’t have any shortbread ideas, but I love love love my cheddar and chive scone recipe, which might hit the spot slightly differently. It’s the one from epicurious, except I add ground pepper and sometimes chili. I’m sure you could just swap the cheeses–I did an arugula and Old Amsterdam version, once, and I’ve toyed with doing something like sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

      3. D'Euly*

        I make the Cheese Thins with Smoked Paprika from the Chocolate & Zucchini blog, cut it a good bit thicker (like 1/4 inch or even a bit more), and take them out *just* as soon as the underneath begins to color (so that you can’t yet see color on the top – you have to actually flip one over to check), then let them cool on the hot baking tray as described. Crumbly and short texture.

        Gosh, maybe I need to make some myself this weekend…

  16. Kate*

    Is anyone else finding this “COVID fall” WORSE in some ways than the “COVID spring”?

    I feel like, in the spring, I was in pure survival mode, just trying to get through one day at a time, with a young kid at home, a full time job, and lines around the block waiting to get into the grocery store.

    Objectively it feels like things should feel better now, with my kid back in school, my work still letting me WFH, and the stores being sane again.

    And yet somehow all I feel like I can do is curl up on the couch in the fetal position and watch endless reruns of Queer Eye? What the heck is going on?? Is it just that there is finally a space to grieve the dumpster fire known as 2020?

    1. Lena Clare*

      I feel like things are easier for me, because I very much hate having a routine that’s disrupted and now I’ve had a while to get used to what for me is the ‘new normal’. But, yeah, I also feel a dip in my mood when winter starts drawing in so I think you’re right that the whole hibernation thing is making you feel more reflective and that’s giving rise to feelings you maybe damped down at the start, in order to survive.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I think this situation has finally pulled back the curtain on more than a few governments (not getting political here!) which has eroded public trust. Couple that with social media, which is a hot mess at the best of times, and I think its making the broader atmosphere more uncertain beyond the day to day worries of going to work/school + managing Covid.

      Curling up on the couch or watching comforting things is a way to build a bubble against the darkness – my weapon of choice is Golden Girls :P.

    3. Purple Sage*

      In the spring, everyone was saying, “This might last until July!” and that seemed a bit alarmist. Surely we’d get this under control by summer, right?

      Now we know, WRONG. No real end in sight. Makes coping a lot harder.

      1. Jane of all Trades*

        Agreed, I think that’s part of the issue. We’re past the initial panic stage, but I think we all thought things would be back to normal by now.
        But they’re not, and it doesn’t look like they will be, and I think a lot of us are (1) emotionally exhausted from the stress of the past few months (2) grieving our pre-covid lives and (3) trying to come to terms with the thought of this [gestures broadly] continuing during the winter months and thereafter. It’s a really tough spot.
        Can you try to add a long walk somewhere you enjoy every so often to your routine? Sometimes all I want to do is watch tv for days, but nature walks are one of the things that help a lot. Also, something I saw on a totally unrelated discussion is – can you put together a plan for the super low moments? Like maybe a set aside some apple cider and cinnamon, a face mask, youe favorite lounge wear, and soothing music and a scented candle? And if things get “I don’t want to get up from the sofa” level bad you treat yourself with those things and take care of yourself that way?

      2. Nessun*

        So much this. I was on a call with a boss the other say who casually mentioned that wfh will be a thing for us “until spring 2021” – that’s 6 more months!! I’m past the point of working up much feeling about any of it, and if I didn’t have to pay for my trainer I might not make it out the house some days to get to the gym. I dread the cold weather coming, and the need to stay indoors when it’s a frozen northern wasteland…were supposed to have a very cold winter.

        Basically my coping skills are at a low simmer triage most of the time – sad, make tea; lonely, make call; tired all the time, but get up and shower/work.

      3. allathian*

        Yeah, this. The fact that there seems to be no end in sight and that numbers are going up a lot again in my area is disheartening.

    4. CJM*

      Yeah, it feels harder to me now too. I recently shifted into marathon mode. In the spring it felt like a sprint (“be ultra cautious — but just for a few months!”), but now it feels like a marathon (“find some ways to live normally — but safely! — because this is going to last a loooooong time”).

      I read this comment not long ago in a Carolyn Hax column, and it helped too: “The middle of things is always hard.” We’re definitely in the middle now.

      1. The poster formerly known as Pomona Sprout*

        “The middle of things is always hard.”

        Yes! And the middle is especially hard when you have no idea when the end may come.

    5. Lore*

      I think also that in the early spring it was COVID and then in the late spring it was COVID and George Floyd and then as summer went on it became all of those and also the American West is burning and the Atlantic hurricane season has run out of named storms and also the presidential election and oh right, COVID is still going on and all the temporary adjustments made in March are wearing thin but we still don’t know enough to make big permanent changes. (For example—it’s likely that my job will support long term remote work indefinitely so possibly I could move somewhere farther away where a backyard and an actual home office would make it less awful to wfh, but it’s not definite and then my partner would need a new job and I’d have to sell a home in a pandemic and so I’m stuck in this limbo.)

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        This, definitely.

        There’s an old quote attributed to Henry Kissinger, when he was Secretary of State: “There can’t be a crisis next week, my schedule is already full.” This year, that feels like it applies to most of us, not just powerful people in well-paid, prestigious jobs.

        I’m in Massachusetts, and have gone from March’s crisis and shutting things down fast, through gradual reopening, and now we’re on pause and no idea what’s going to change, or when, but our Fairy Godmother isn’t going to wave a wand of immunity over everyone this week, or this year.

      2. cacophony rising*

        And for me add: family stuff, death stuff, selling family home stuff, keeping everyone in the loop stuff, deadline stuff, etc. I am just on the edge of crying all the time, and I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with…any of it any more. I just want the world to go away…

    6. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Things keep getting worse and worse, so it makes total sense. My area is on a local lock down, politics, climate change, the job situation, and so on… It’s all really getting me down in a serious way. And I’m not at all surprised that others are having a hard time.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Around here people talk about fall bringing on cravings for hibernation. It’s finally cool and good sleeping weather that makes it worse.
      Add in “our world today” and fetal position on the couch makes a lot of sense really.

    8. Mimmy*

      I agree with everything that’s been said. During the spring, it felt like things would settle down by summer or maybe early fall. By the end of May, it became clear that this would going to last awhile. When my work announced that we’d be conducting our program remotely AT LEAST until December, that brought the new reality home for me. My mental health has definitely taken a hit as a result of it all :(

    9. Courageous cat*

      I find I feel a lot more alone this fall. Back in spring, everyone was in this together and everyone was bored at home, but now everyone’s completely given up and is back to doing normal things and I’m still not and it’s just like, well damn.

      1. Confused Single Mom*

        Just wanted to say I’m in the boat and it sucks. You aren’t alone with how you feel and you are awesome for holding your ground!

      2. Tris Prior*

        Yes, this! In the spring, it was like, OK, everyone is in the same boat here, everyone has to cancel plans, this is not the universe crapping on me and only me. But now things are reopening even though cases are still high, and people are going about their lives and traveling and eating out….. except I don’t think any of that is safe so I’m still mostly staying at home except for essential errands (which I’m trying to cut WAY back on, having dome some big stockups recently) and medical appointments. Now it does feel like it’s only me, even though I know it’s not and that others are still being cautious.

    10. LGC*

      It’s been a roller-coaster for me. Right now, things are pretty good with COVID-19 where I live, relatively speaking. (They’re not great, because – you know – the US.) But I’m obsessed with the idea that we’re going to have a repeat of the spring again and that’s been in my head since…this summer and hasn’t gotten better.

      I think, too, that in the spring I had hope that although things were terrible and the world felt like it was ending, like…you know, we’d be on the mend by the fall. And that isn’t the case. In a lot of ways, although fewer people are getting sick, things are worse. And it feels like the people around me don’t see how bad things are and sometimes I want to scream, “WE CAN NOT GO BACK TO NORMAL PEOPLE ARE DYING STILL.”

    11. lazy intellectual*

      Not worse necessarily, but I’m dreading winter. Being stuck at home in the dark all day? For six months? Like, I’m super fortunate to be able to continue WFH, but seasonal depression compounded by COVID depression plus whatever else is going on in the world will take a toll on me this year.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        lazy intellectual (and anyone else with seasonal depression) — I, too, suffer from seasonal depression and light therapy lamps have been a game-changer for me. My doctor prescribed one for me back when they were ~$400, but LED bulbs have brought that cost waaaaaaayyyyyyyy down.

        I now have three lamps from Circadian Optics that I bought from Amazon for $49/ea. I won’t post a link because it will get caught in moderation but you can search for “Circadian Optics Lumine Light Therapy Lamp” on Amazon (or elsewhere).

        Literally a life-saver.

        1. lazy intellectual*

          Thank you! I was actually thinking of getting one. If there was a time for light therapy lamps now is it.

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      There is a limit to what we as human beings can handle, mentally and emotionally. In the spring, we were in survival mode. That doesn’t last forever, and when it ends, we crash. Sounds like you’ve crashed. Be gentle to yourself. Try to sleep, eat, get some exercise. If you feel like you need some help, there’s no shame in that.

    13. Hill House Resident*

      I think it is worse. The numbers of diagnosed cases keeps rising, but it doesn’t get as much news coverage anymore because it has become the new normal. (And there’s been a disturbing lack of leadership on almost all levels.) The numbers of people dying is not quite as many, but still too many.

      Yeah, staying home, social distancing, face masks, washing hands all the time and sanitizing things in public places. It doesn’t really seem like things are getting any better. I sort of wonder if this might be sort of how it was to live through the Spanish Flu of 1918 or the Great Depression, or World War II or something.

      I’m reminded of the supposed Chinese curse (or blessing), “May you live in interesting times,” although I don’t think that the current times are particularly interesting, just annoying and frightening, with the sense of impending dread you feel in horror movies.

      1. pancakes*

        On the topic of the 1918 flu, there’s a fascinating letter from a nurse named Lutiant Van Wert that Slate published in May. I missed it at the time but the author of the accompanying article, Lili Loofbourow, retweeted it this week, and I found it very moving. The nurse was 19 at the time, and, as Loofbourow describes, “a Chippewa graduate of the Haskell Institute in Kansas, a very good stenographer, and a hell of a writer.” I’ll link to it in a separate reply.

    14. Malarkey01*

      Survival mode is actually a real, very useful phase- psychologically comparable to fight or flight. Your brain is consumed with problem solving and understanding the situation, your emotions lose their edge and shut down a bit because your mind doesn’t have room for both and usually problem solving has the evolutionary upper hand. As the emergency wears off and you adapt to the situation, your brain gets used to the new routine, has more information, and has more “room” for emotions. If you’ve ever noticed the end of an adrenaline rush to your body (shaking, exhaustion, little on edge), that happens here too only now FEELINGs get the upper hand.

      That’s where we are.

      1. Might be Spam*

        Very true. I’m great at handling emergencies. As soon as everything is done that’s when I fall apart.

    15. Flabbernabbit*

      Ahh those early days of innocence, when I thought a few hard weeks of iso will bring forth May flowers and endless possibilities of frolic, summer gatherings, wide smiles, and international travel.

    16. Might be Spam*

      Now is the time when we start looking forward to and planning for winter holidays. In summer we could meet outside and pretend things were almost normal. In winter it’s too cold to do that and we have to face major disruptions to our family traditions. Some family members are going to be upset and will take out their fear and frustration on the rest of the family. Hiding under a blanket on the couch in the fetal position is a normal reaction to an increasingly abnormal situation.

    17. tangerineRose*

      I live on the West Coast of the USA, not far from where people were being told to prepare to evacuate because of fire danger. So I’ve spent the last I don’t know how many days checking the fire progress online and trying to get together stuff in case the evacuation area gets closer. I’ve been fortunate enough that the evacuation area is retreating (yeah for firefighters!), but fire danger + COVID19 is just worse.

      Although yesterday the air got much cleaner that it’s been lately because of the fires and what with that and that I probably won’t need to evacuate, I’ve actually been feeling really grateful the last couple of days, so I guess I’m not totally in sync.

    18. Girasol*

      In the spring we were quarantined but there were tulips and daffodils, and the season brought a sense of hope. Now we’re heading into cabin fever season way too early (wildfire smoke) and looking at a very long winter. So I’m feeling out of sorts. Without a vacation and friends and something to wake my mind up, I feel kinda dull too. And then there’s the news – wildfires and hurricanes and protests and counterprotests and people beating each other up over masks/no-masks and politics and the US election … Ughh. No matter what side you’re on it’s depressing. So yeah, there are days when it’s hard to keep my chin up. But then, I have a house and food and health and safety so I remind myself how fortunate I am.

    19. The poster formerly known as Pomona Sprout*

      OMG, yes, it’s so much worse. And I know we can’t get too political here, but I think it’s fair to say that no matter which side you’re on, the impending election is adding greatly to the already existing stress for a lot of people. It’s almost all I can think about these days. O_O

      The shortening of the days and the thought of impending winter aren’t helping either. I found it a lot easier to keep my chin up during the long sunny summer days that are starting to feel like a lifetime ago.

    20. CastIrony*

      I was like this all summer. All I can do is work, grocery shop after work if I have to, and decontaminate when I get home. Wash, rinse, and repeat. And I can’t even do crafts because it’s too much.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Im not the only one feeling less than crafty? That helps.
        This spring I bought supplies for my first sweater-knit-for-myself. Balled the yarn, knit the swatch, stopped.
        I’ve put a couple of rows on a dishcloth, attempted 2 mask patterns, and that’s it.

    21. Nita*

      It feels worse now. It’s like the end of the world, only in slow motion and not fast like it happens in the movies. I guess one has to be grateful for small things – it’s happening so slowly that more people will be able to save themselves. I hope. But I can’t do much about my family’s particular situation, so I’m on edge all the time.

    22. Ermintrude*

      I think it’s also made worse by the realisation that we literally can’t (or mustn’t) go back to normal because normal is destroying the environment which is why we have a pandemic and wildfires and…
      That and the fact noone in charge actually seems to want to act as needs to be done. It’s very very scary, and very hard to handle. I’m grateful to have a garden (this morning I went outside to see the bats) and am not sure I would be doing particularly well without it.

  17. Bobina*

    Thanks for all the tips and Lenovo laptop advice last week! I looked around for restored Thinkpad’s but couldnt really find any in my area so ended up going with the Ideapad 5 as expected. Im now enjoying things not taking 5 minutes to load and how quiet it it is (my previous laptop was very much in the “sounds like an airplane taking-off category”).

    Adjusting to a smaller keyboard though, had not anticipated how much that would throw me!

      1. Bobina*

        I probably could but I spend most of my time with it actually on my lap on the sofa, so dont think that would help! Just need a bit of time to get used to it I suppose…

    1. MadMaddy86*

      If you find that you cannot get used to it a wireless keyboard is always an option! They range in price from as little as $20 to high end ones that are heftier price tags depending on what you want to spend. the same goes for wireless mouse.

      It all varies based on your comfort level and what specifications you would like.

      They even come in combo packs. you can go talk with your local best buy people or just search online and read the reviews if interested. Enjoy your purchase!

      I have been using my laptop a 2008 Dell and am at the point where I think I need to come to terms that I have to start saving up for a new one so I understand your journey and am envious of you at the same time!

      1. Bobina*

        I actually use my laptop on my lap generally, so an external keyboard would be more effort, so guess I’ll just have to train the brain to get used to the new normal….!

        But yes, I can totally empathise. My previous laptop had been on its last legs for quite a while but I tend to subscribe to the “if it still works why replace it” way of thinking quite often, so I just never bothered replacing it until it finally crashed. Dont be like me! The new one is lovely and light and quiet and suddenly its that thing of feeling like you have so much freedom to actually move around with it rather than it being a quasi desktop :’D

  18. 2020 sucks*

    Emotionally, the last couple of days have been a bit of a gut punch and 2020 just seems to get worse. What helps you calm your mind and worry less about things you can’t control?

    1. Lena Clare*

      I love questions like these because I love reading what works for other people and how they build up resilience!
      For me (and I dont always do these things, so it’s a good reminder!) things that calm me are:
      – buying, playing with, and watching YouTube tutorials on, makeup
      – exercise! I got the all clear from my doc re: my broken foot and whatnot so I need to get back to this asap
      – being out in nature. Very early in the morning, when the rest of neighbours are still in bed, I take my coffee outside, in my pjs and all, and drink it while just being still. I especially love this time of year when the sun is low and air is crisp
      – playing & cuddling with my kitty cats
      – cooking and eating. Oh, and reading cookbooks. Last night I made vegan keema with leftovers, and very nice it was too!
      – reading
      – writing, including journaling.
      – talking therapy. Person-centred, humanistic experiential works best for me.
      Best wishes, Lena

        1. OP for this thread*

          I don’t know either but seeing it felt like a pretty flourish :)

          I’m sitting here looking at cute dog clothes, petting my dog trying not to think, overthink, or worry. There is something soothing about petting a warm furry lump

          1. nep*

            I do miss having a kitty. We had to put our little guy down a couple years ago. We’d been looking into getting another when COVID hit…Once we’re a bit ‘out of the woods’ (????!!!) we’ll get another. It really helps to have a furry companion.

        2. gsa*

          Why not sign formally?

          Formality has its place and the anonymous interwebs you can insert it at your own discretion!

          Best Regards,


    2. nep*

      Exercising, spending time in the woods, reading, watching vids that make me laugh, meditating, listening to certain teachers/’gurus.’
      These days I’ve been listening to Pema Chödrön all the time. She talks a lot about finding ways to be OK with ‘groundlessness.’

    3. TPS reporter*

      So many great suggestions. Writing is excellent- get out whatever you are thinking or feeling. Put it all on the page. Do some long form activity that is engrossing like a puzzle while listening to your favorite music, baking something elaborate, a great book series. Make art in whatever form you like. Nature- make a list of hiking trails near you and set a goal for how many you want to see in the next two months

    4. theAcademicBeanMovesOn*

      For me, its focusing on the things I can control. I cant fix big political problems –at least by myself– but i can do smaller things and those do make a difference. I can’t fix my job right now, but i can freshen my skills. I cant stop a wildfire but i can donate money to a relief org. this is how i keep from drowning. and when that is too much. there is ice cream, beer and pretty fall mushrooms to look at.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think about a world where everyone did their modest bit to help situations heal. I think we all would be shocked to see what happened next just based on modest effort.

        1. nep*

          Yes. It all must start with the individual anyway. One mind, one heart, one person at a time. Might sound trite, but it is true.

    5. Lyudie*

      Coloring and making things in general. Losing myself in interesting video games and podcasts. My new art journal. I’m not sure how much these things help long-term but they make me feel calm in the moment.

    6. Aza*

      I’m taking a break from facebook. I had watched part of “the social dilemma” on netflix a couple days ago, and then all this stuff with rbg… it’s just too much.

      I woke up this morning and deactivated facebook. I’m hoping to stay deactivated through the election. We’ll see. I just can’t take it right now. It’s more negative than positive, and it stokes my anxiety.

      1. Dorian*

        I will NEVER go back to Facebook. It hooks you in with social connection then feeds you a steady stream of propaganda. I closed my account for good 3 years ago and don’t miss it at all.

        1. Malarkey01*

          Same and for everyone that thinks I’m too smart and rational to fall for propaganda -it’s scary how it seeps in and how incredibly insidious it is until people have a very distorted view.

    7. chi chan*

      I usually like listening to online meditations or ASMR. There is just something about someone saying the right thing; the thing you needed to hear that calms the mind. Also I like writing or making pro con lists. Usually something shakes out that I can do.

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      Besides hobbies (gardening, reading, crocheting, hiking) I am coping by writing lists of the things I am grateful for. An actual handwritten-with-a-nice-pen-in-a-nice-journal list, including the reasons I am thankful for whatever it is. I try not to repeat, so if I wrote down that I was thankful for finding a new hiking trail yesterday, today I need to put something else. I am currently thankful that today we’re expecting perfect gardening weather, that this AAM weekend thread exists, and that I am enjoying a really good cup of hot coffee this morning. Sometimes I have to stretch, but intentionally looking for the bright side helps me prevent going into a “doom spiral”. I can’t take full credit for this strategy, it came from a therapist I saw for my depression. This has been a really tough year all around, but I have faith that we’ll eventually get to the other side.

    9. slmrlln*

      Exercise and getting outdoors, doing something that I can control (making a donation, writing a letter, etc.), and baths. Baths really help me sleep when I’m feeling anxious. If you put a bath bomb or some bubble bath or epsom salts, then it feels like a treat too.

    10. Flabbernabbit*

      I say things out loud that make me feel happy to distract me from ruminating over something else. Years ago, a friend suggested that I imagine myself to be a ribbon in the breeze. I can twist and dance but the wind will do what it does. Another friend has the word “breathe” tattooed on her forearm and she looks at that. I was surprised because she always appeared to be one of the calmest people I knew. Or I’ll tell my husband that I love him out of the blue when I’m burning with intense hatred of the ever worsening political climate. Or the climate. He thought I was nuts until I told him it calms me and wasn’t about him at all. And yeah, a walk in the woods (when the smoke doesn’t wear your lungs), and a break from social media is key. I need to mute until after the election now that RBG is gone.

    11. voluptuousfire*

      Listening to podcasts. I’m a big fan of You’re Wrong About. It’s from two journalists who debunk/discuss media personalities and events in history. The episodes on the Satanic Panic and stranger danger really give context to what’s going on right now and how cyclical it is. Knowing backstories really give you perspective on it.

      Reading. Rereading favorites, attempting to read a Noam Chomsky book, reading Jackie Collins-esque trash novels, etc.

      Watching my cat learn to become a house cat. She was out on the street for a year and had been a house kitty at some point (she was spayed already, discovered when she was taken by the TNR group for her appointment), so it’s so funny to watch her figure things out. She’s becoming a toughie–she showed a dust bunny and my desk chair’s wheels who’s boss by hunting and attacking. It’s so rewarding, watching her grow and am so glad she’s here.

    12. Stephanie*

      Exercise is extremely helpful for me, especially hard, sweaty stuff if I’m feeling extra angry/helpless. If it’s just generalized anxiety, yoga is amazing. The focus on breathing is very calming and centering.
      I also always feel better if I accomplish something around the house, whether it’s just cleaning the bathroom or a big project (I just finished painting my kitchen cabinets last weekend), making my home more pleasant always helps.
      Playing with or just petting my dogs.
      Watching funny or feel-good shows. My current feel-good show go-to is Friday Night Lights.
      Getting thoroughly engrossed in a good book.
      Getting outside and feeling a little sunshine on my face, even for just a few minutes.

    13. Chaordic One*

      When I’m by myself, I can really get into a zen space when I assign tasks to myself, usually something that I need to do anyway that might be kind of boring such as vacuuming and dusting, washing windows, decluttering, or doing laundry and ironing, or washing my car. Sometimes I might turn to cooking and baking or to crafts. I do enjoy shopping with a list and have a mildly disturbing (as in being overly consumerist) sense of accomplishment when I drive home from the grocery store with my car trunk full of bounty.

      Sometimes it can be something like helping a family member, such as my parents, my sisters or my nieces and nephews with a project, but that is more demanding having to deal with them and their anxieties and annoying quirks.

    14. Junior Dev*

      I try to 1) avoid looking at any information whatsoever about the news, whether that means blocking or filtering topics on my social media, not using social media, reading a book rather than going online and 2) picking one or two things I can do to help with problems in society—today I’m helping a teacher relative get set up with the technology for online classes, and later in the weekend I’ll be working on open source projects that relate to causes I care about. I also am going to call my congresspeople at least once this week.

      I know a lot of caring people who feel like they’re obligated to keep reading the news and scrolling through the endless horror and tragedy and I’m here to tell you: you’re not. If you want to make a difference in the world, pick something small enough to be realistic that you can get it done, preferably local to you, preferably using some skill or resource you have that most people don’t, preferably working with existing groups or organizations. Inform yourself enough to do that specific work effectively and shut everything else off.

      There’s too much happening for a human brain to process right now. And putting yourself right in the firehouse of information that is social media and news websites is more likely to overwhelm you and make you less effective at actually helping people.

      Of course if your mental health means you have to check out entirely, do that, don’t worry about doing the sorts of things I’m talking about here. But if you feel some guilt about not staying on top of current events, it’s much better to pick one thing and do it well than it is to continue exposing yourself to information that is overwhelming, distressing, and not actionable.

    15. Perstephanie*

      Exercise. It uses up the restless physical energy. I still have the restless mental energy, but it’s easier to cope when I’m physically tired.

      Animal livestreams. I cannot get enough of watching animals go about their days. Sometimes I fall in love with a special animal, and get to see them carrying on with their animal life, being admirable and brave and doing no wrong. It helps.

    16. Might be Spam*

      I study folk dance and Tai Chi videos. When I am focusing on learning a physical skill it takes all of my concentration and forces me to not think about the rest of the world. I spent the first two months of lock down working on the Clare Battering Step. Even when I wasn’t practicing, I kept the music going.

    17. Malarkey01*

      I’ve taken news blackouts and really cut down on online reading. Being well informed is important to me but I found I was getting angrier and angrier and cycling round unproductively. Getting away from the crisis of the day (and they really are new daily crisis, but there’s no bandwidth) has help put some things in perspective between what I can and cannot control.

      I’ve also just stopped wasting energy on being angry at CoVid deniers and political conversations. If someone starts it I shut it down because it’s not adding anything and sucking so much away.

    18. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I have become pretty good at recognizing when I am about to ‘tip over’ into a downward spiral and now know that means to get off my butt and put the device away. I can control the amount of information coming in that way, or I can control my immediate environment by cleaning a bathroom or putting the dishes away. I can then distract myself by riding the spin bike, putting on a short yoga video, working on hobbies, going for a walk, or starting a cooking project. If worse comes to worse, its reading a book and dozing with a cat.

      I have also been known to put on website blockers so I can’t go read the news online if I am looking at recipes.

      Ive also learned to try and be thankful for this time. Thankful that I don;t have to commute, that I can cook and eat nutritious meals for every meal, that I have an opportune living environment right now, that I can learn some new skills.

    19. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      My friend recently said he recommends anything that links attention, movement, and breath, and I’ve found that very useful. Exercise, meditation (the “movement” is just my breath, but I think it still counts), playing music–all of them make me feel calmer and more resilient even after five minutes. I…how to put this…feel more like a whole, complete person who is moving through this time than like a frail, fraying consciousness being battered by this time.

    20. Esmeralda*

      1. Take a vacation from the news.
      2. Follow/read nice people and non-political/medical/meteorological topics on social media.
      3. Read /reread books and magazines that are not political, not about covid, not about fires (my family is on the west coast)/hurricanes (I live in the southeast).
      4. Reading/listening to/talking about political/covid/fires or hurricanes in small doses with people who are not overly furious.
      5. Me-time afternoon break: I buy expensive and delicious specialty Earl Grey tea just for myself, brew a pot mid-afternoon, and take 45 minutes or so to drink tea and eat something savory and highly caloric. Listen to my favorite albums while doing so.

    21. Seeking Second Childhood*

      As the days get chillier and shorter here in the US NE, I’m finding excuses to be outside in the sun. Like weekend yard work is a reason to take a mid-afternoon shower and sit in the lawn chair while my hair dries. Theoretically I am making a list of fall cleanup chores… Practically speaking I am soaking up some sunlight.

      1. Seal*

        Iguana free?! I live in the Upper Midwest and worry about squirrels and rabbits getting my tomatoes, not reptiles. Your comment both made me laugh and scared the hell out of me!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Notes from a black thumb: My spider plant had SEVEN flowers on its weird vine thing yesterday. Apparently it is going to be prolific in its reproduction. I’m just watering it MWF as I have been, because so far I don’t know what else to do, but that seems to be doing okay.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        When a spider plant decides to have babies, they usually have a whole bunch. It sounds like you have a happy houseplant, congratulations!

        1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

          Probably because people that have them are constantly trying to give them away! I’m in Ventura county – want some spider plants?

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Garden cleanup continues. I have racks of herb bunches drying on my back porch and still have about a thousand pounds of zucchini to bake into muffins and freeze, then it will be on to composting the fallen leaves for next year’s soil.

    3. Aly_b*

      I’m hoping to ripen my tomatoes a bit more then save some seeds. It’s my first time trying that and it seems incredible that you can just turn the plant into a bunch more plants. I’m hoping to ripen the tomatoes on the plant for now but we’ve had so much smoke the last week or so that I don’t think they’re getting enough sun. Hopefully this rain clears it up.

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I had some people come clean the gutters yesterday and in preparation I had to move a bunch of stuff away from the house so that they had a place to put their ladders. I took the opportunity to clean some things and move a big bag of weeds that I was attempting to compost into a better bin. There are a few tomato plants that are desperately trying to ripen so I rearranged the plastic greenhouse to fit them in. Surprisingly the zucchini still seem to be flowering so I’m just going to leave them until they die off.

      I went a little crazy buying plants at the supermarket in the last few weeks and ended up with several random plants that I have no idea what to do with. For now I have just put some of them in pots but in the spring they will probably need a new home.

      I also ordered a tiny storage shed after contemplating it all summer, so that should arrive on Thursday. Hopefully that will help me tidy up all the random tools out of the weather and maybe get some of them out of the house.

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      We may get frost soon, and I’m wondering whether those optimistic fall-planted strawberries will survive and continue growing in the spring.

      I have mad hopes of more cucumber fruit this year, but am shifting into speculative planning mode. I need more planters for container gardening, but space and energy are limited. I suspect October will be for research and maybe some decisions.

      Things I’m interested in, right now: cucumber; tomatoes; lettuce; cantaloupe or similar melons; winter squash (e.g. acorn or butternut). Garden zone 6 (6B, I think), and I think I need to assume I’m limited to what I can order online.

      Also, spring bulbs: does anyone want to recommend a source for daffodil, iris, or crocus bulbs?

      1. SpellingBee*

        My preferred source for bulbs is Van Engelen – my sister and I have been ordering from them for years, mainly narcissus, daffodils and species tulips. Their selection and quality are excellent, as is their customer service, and their prices are good too. You do have to order in quantity; the lowest minimum I can remember seeing for any of the things we’ve ordered is 25, and for some it’s 50 or even 100. However, you need a lot of them to make an impact!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Mind blown… that’s in the tiny rural town next to the tiny rural town where my husband grew up. I’ve been passed it all the time, and did not know it’s a big deal.
          If you have squirrels or chipmunks or deer, I suggest daffodils over tulips. Tulips are candy to mammals.

    6. StellBell*

      My balcony garden still has tomatoes, basil, melon plants, potatoes and onions. The aloe I transplanted to a larger, deeper pot. I cleaned the balcony in the morning and took all the compostable stuff down to our communal bin. I also took to my storage 12 pots for winter…

      Question: at what point should I just take out all the plants in terms of freezing etc? A frost will come in 4-5 weeks so that seems like a good time to be done, cover the pots of soil, dig up the potatoes, etc.

      Question 2: one of my melon plants died back so I clipped off stems with small melons, and have placed into a glass with fertiliser in the water to attempt hydroponic ripening of melons… Is this crazy? Too water world esque?

      1. I take tea*

        I tried to dig up all the Jerusalem artichokes in my pallet collar in the spring, because it tends to take over, but nope, seems impossible to find all the tubers – the little buggers are thriving, now that they have space… I like the taste, but sadly they make me ridiculously gassy. Oh well, I’m home a lot anyway.

      2. Venus*

        Take out the basil and tomatoes the day before the first frost and hope that the tomatoes continue to ripen. Potatoes and onions come out when the plants are starting to brown. They can survive a frost but won’t continue growing.

      3. Nita*

        Last time I grew tomatoes, there were new ones ripening on the vine into December. We get very mild winters most years. I think we were getting some mild frosts at that point, but tomatoes are tough plants. I suppose the other plants do need to come out before the frost…

    7. PX*

      I think I am going to have no tomatoes and am very bummed about it. I got 2 plants from my neighbour in late spring (I guess?) who seems to have a wonderful green thumb. But alas, the plants grew and look healthy, but so far only 1 measly flower which died before even fully opening. Meanwhile I walk past his and see all the cute and tasty cherry tomatoes and wonder where I went wrong :'(

      But on a positive note, the random ferns I harvested from the patio (it grows out of the wall) seem to have taken to indoor pot living, so hopefully they stay alive. If they grow as big as they do outside they will make a nice addition!

      1. SpellingBee*

        Re tomatoes, too much nitrogen will result in lots of foliage but no fruit, so try not to be too nice to them!

      2. Venus*

        Yes, leaves without flowers is a fertilizer thing. I’m not sure how to fix it, but your neighbor likely gave them something to increase the other two numbers and get them to bloom more. You might ask them (it’s a fair question)

    8. Nita*

      Still picking lots of tomatoes, and a bit of squash. Maybe I was a little too optimistic planting a fall crop in September, though. It’s gotten pretty cold pretty quickly, so maybe this year we’ll get frost earlier than usual. Will see… My poor squash plant seems to have a case of powdery mildew – I’ll have to see if I can do anything about it, but it’s all over the plant, so probably too late.

    9. Ermintrude*

      I am starting work on a compost heap for the first time! It’s just the right time of year to do so and it’s helping me counter my massive climate anxiety. If I make compost, I help improve biodiversity in my garden, I stop contributing to the destruction of peat bogs and I save money. I’m quite looking forward to it!

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We brought in all the plants from climates warmer than ours today. Only the big fig is outside to be wheeled into the garage at sunset.
      I’m trying to resist overwintering as many geraniums as I did last year because they were a disappointment. I am resolved to store the dahlias dry-root this year for the same reason.
      The Thai pepper was the biggest success–I made a ristra in miniature and the plant itself is still blooming & bearing.
      I should have mowed today but I can do that after first frost.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I failed to resist the geraniums…they’re all inside. How could I abandon them when they’re still valiantly trying to bloom? :)

  19. Liane*

    Attack Rose is blooming profusely. This will probably be its last wave until spring. Mini Rose is also in bloom. For next year–any tips to keep grasshoppers away? The last 2 years I’ve had bad problems with them. They seem to be the only maladies neem oil doesn’t solve.

    Considering getting more mums. Mine is doing well but the one I got Daughter isn’t. We aren’t sure if it’s got too much water or what. Hers is in a tall cylinder pot, about 8″ high. It has a drain hole and I put a layer of rock in bottom.

    1. Pamela Adams*

      Our roses have finally emerged now that the feral tomato bush has finished producing. They have bloomed a bit, but will hopefully bloom more when it cools down a bit.

  20. Natasha*

    Was going to ask this yesterday in relation to work, but then realise it probably applies to most aspects of life. So the question is: do you think life is easier for more attractive people? Not just in the sense that they’d get more opportunities or receive favourable bias (subconscious or otherwise), but in terms of trying to get a point across.

    Case in point: I notice that when people talk about body positivity, people who are overweight but otherwise more conventionally attractive tend to have more people voicing support for them, and to jump to their defence if anyone says anything negative. Or when people who to justify terrible behaviour (usually of the narcissistic variety) would have people fight their battles if they’re beautiful (a number of ‘influencers’ come to mind).

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Oh yeah, definitely, even documented in studies. Taller people, people with more regular features, get better ratings / more positive responses overall.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      95% of the time, yes. But I had the hardest time being an attractive woman in IT. (Now I’m an aging, invisible woman in IT, which is slightly better outside of the whole issue of me being 387 years old in IT years…) Starting a new job was always a nightmare. New coworkers would just look at me and immediately assume I was terrible at my job, just going by my looks. The first couple of jobs were the worst, because coworkers would assume I was getting raises/promotions by sleeping with the managers, or leading the managers on to think I would sleep with them, and some did not hesitate to spread those rumors around. Performance reviews were bad. I have never reported to a woman in my life and every performance review with a male manager went like this: Year 1, new boss – automatic low marks. Year 2 – it finally dawns on boss that I am getting the job done well, high marks. Year 3 – boss leaves and is replaced by a new boss, back to low marks… with few exceptions, this 2-year cycle kept repeating itself for years! The few exceptions were former teammates, or people I otherwise formerly worked with, that had been promoted to my managers. This kept going on until my early 40s and was extremely tiring. I admit that this was only in relation to work. Though, come to think of it, getting any point across to a man IRL in my younger years was nearly impossible. They did not take me seriously.

      1. AGD*

        This happens in academia as well. It’s the sort of environment that collects oddballs, so really conventionally attractive (and/or conventionally feminine) women often get treated as if they’ve advanced only because they’re pretty, as if there’s a trade-off between that and smarts. I have one colleague who won a big award for her research productivity/excellence 10-15 years ago, and people are still saying nasty things about her that don’t hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. That she wanted the award rather than being truly passionate about the work (…what?!), that she bribed the head of the awards committee (I don’t think they even knew each other), that her husband must have done the extra work for her (he would not have had the expertise to do anything more than open the software).

      2. Flabbernabbit*

        I agree with this. I just came here to say that the way you wrote it is hilarious. Humour within a sad and enduring truth.

        1. pretty anoymous*

          Yes, definitely. I’ve found that people are willing to give me the benefit of the doubt a ton, especially in stores with things like extra attention or letting me return something that has passed it’s return date. I took advantage quite a lot before I matured enough to realize why strangers always seemed to like me.

          It was really hard when I was dating though. I didn’t feel like I could trust anyone to want me for more than my face. This sounds conceited, but for a while it seemed like all my friends wanted to sleep with me (very bi crowd) and it was lonely. For a long time I tried to not develop feelings for anyone as a means for self protection. It was very much a relief when I could start wearing an engagement ring.

      3. Girasol*

        I’m plain and always have been, and I’m kinda grateful. This is one IT problem I never had to deal with. Plain has its advantages.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I do think that attractive people get attention sooner and also receive free (unearned) credibility.
      But I also see that very attractive people fight battles I will never face. Ever.

      Interesting to me, is that some people dress well and have nice hair/nails/makeup but they really are not that attractive. They just keep themselves very nicely. They have a knack for presenting as “well put together”. My friend is 82. I wanna copy her style, not kidding. She has a way of putting outfits together that are stylish but age-suitable. So she is a stylish dresser, with an 80 plus y/o face and awesome eyes. You will never see her modeling in a magazine. Yet she has an attractive way about her even at this age. (The older men still vie for her attention.)

      I think where I noticed it the most was in high school. It has tapered down since then, well no where to go but down really. The pressure to look attractive in high school was unreal.

      Currently, I think that people are just plain more attractive anyway. Each generation seems to get more good looking. I can really see that when I look at year books over the decades. Attractiveness is not the only variable. Height is also. I think that collectively society has a habit of looking beyond shorter people. We could do better.

    4. lazy intellectual*

      Hmm..I’m not sure when it comes to girls/women. I say this as a late bloomer who was not considered attractive in high school but started getting more attention/compliments in my early 20s. The only area it has sort of helped is dating maybe? But I still have trouble with that. I imagine it is much more helpful if you work in industries where being attractive is currency, like modeling and entertainment. But outside of that, people have a tendency to dehumanize/objectify attractive females, assume they can’t have any “real” problems, be intelligent, and things like that. Other jealous women can be very cruel. But these probably have more to do with sexism than attractiveness I guess.

    5. voluptuousfire*

      Yes and no. I was just thinking about this this morning. A random job interview I went on years ago (before social media) popped into my head. It was for a role with a small software company who was looking for an executive assistant. It was in a small office that had a window like that would separate the control room of a recording studio. I met with the interviewer and he had me sit in the main area which was separated by that window and observed me for 10 minutes. I just sat there. I dont remember what happened exactly but I remember being very relieved when I left. If I had been a cutie little chickie, I very likely would have been propositioned or sexually assaulted. Since I was heavier and less “attractive”, I probably wasnt worth the time. Sometimes being less conventionally attractive can be a blessing.

      1. Lemon curdle*

        I can’t get over the fact you’ve actually implied people are more likely to be assaulted if they’re attractive.

        Did you know studies have shown that people perceived to be less likely to be conventionally attractive are more likely to have their attackers found not guilty because of views like this?

        Please educate yourself.

    6. No Tribble At All*

      In high school I noticed a huge leap in how well people treated me after I plucked my caterpillar eyebrows and got contacts instead of glasses. There have been studies about this– people are more likely to help a “pretty” stranger in distress rather than a “homely” person. Even plus-size models, for example, are usually curvy with still an hourglass figure, really good skin, symmetrical faces, rather than lumpy apple-shaped. But, you’re right that extremely pretty and attractive women aren’t taken seriously in male-dominated environments. There’s an optimum level. At some point you become non-dateable enough that you’re one of the guys, but too “ugly” and you’re invisible. I do think there are some primarily women-dominated environments where attractiveness/looking “put together” doesn’t start to have negative consequences as you get to the top, except for jealousy — beauty is power.

      If you don’t fit the standards, you want to fit the standards (eg, I’m plus-size, and I want to lose weight), but when you fit the standards, you want people to treat you better.

      1. lazy intellectual*

        I guess what I have an issue with is people thinking there is some sort of linear relationship between attractiveness and quality of life overall? Like yes, being attractive has its advantages, but it doesn’t straight up guarantee a much better life overall, because there are so many competing factors – gender, race, class, physical and mental health, the community you grow up in… And women get minimized down to their looks whether or not they are attractive, which isn’t helpful.

        1. Lemon curdle*

          There’s perception, too. Is it easier if it doesn’t feel easier but someone else thinks it must be? Etc.

    7. natter*

      Yes, in general. I’ve been fat most of my life, but there were about 3 years when I was thin. And the way the world reacted to me was so starkly different during those thin years – it wasn’t like I was even a supermodel, just on the prettier side of average! Everyone was nicer to me. I got promoted into a job I wasn’t remotely qualified for. People listened when I talked. I got invited to way more social events. I just got the benefit of the doubt in nearly every situation.

      None of this has been true during the fat years, and I didn’t also magically change my job qualifications/intelligence/race/socioeconomic status/upbringing/personality when I gained the weight back. So I definitely think the difference in how the world reacts to me has to do with perceptions of attractiveness. Also, anecdotally, my father was super handsome and also a terrible human being and the oh my goodness, the things people were willing to forgive him! He was a constant liar, a chronic cheater, had children he didn’t own up to – and still people talked about him like he was a candidate for sainthood. I really don’t think they would say the same of an ugly man.

      I will add a caveat, though. When I was in my early 20s, I was working as an admin, reporting to two middle aged men. One day they had a conversation – right in front of me! – about how if they were glad they had hired me and not the other top candidate for the role, because she had been a cheerleader for an NFL team and having her around would be “too distracting.” I was deeply hurt to be the uglier choice and also, at the same time, so mad for this other candidate. I think people do make these kinds of decisions a lot, they just don’t usually say them out loud.

      Anyway. All said and having experienced both, I would still trade unattractive life for attractive life in a heartbeat because the dehumanizing grind of not feeling like a person is so hurtful on top of everything else people face in life. But, I’ll acknowledge that being so hot it’s a “concern” to men who might hire you (ugh) is one battle I’m glad not to have to fight.

      Basically, I think attractive people have a cheat code that makes the game easier, but that doesn’t mean they don’t face challenges.

    8. Ginger Sheep*

      I, from my very recent masked experience, definitely think attractive people have it much easier in life. Ever since masks are mandatory everywhere, retail workers, service people and random strangers have been WAY more helpful, kind and friendly than before. As it happens, the mask hides my very prominent chin and my crooked teeth, but displays my pretty eyes. I definitely look younger and prettier with the lower half of my face hidden, and it impacts social relations with strangers so much! I’ve been both enjoying the friendliness and being very annoyed with the realisation that I am ugly.

    9. Parenthetically*

      There’s an episode of 30 Rock about this — the main character dates someone played by Jon Hamm, and despite being a doctor, he is *terrible* at *everything* but thinks he’s super competent.

    10. Anonnington*

      I think it turns bias in your favor with ordinary things – everything from getting hired to getting a discount because you had to wait too long, or whatever.

      But when it comes to breaking ground and making serious intellectual contributions to society, there is a stigma against attractive women. The assumption is that these things should be reserved for those who need to elevate their attractiveness through their accomplishments in order to find a partner. And that if you’re an attractive woman and you’re also smart, you must be rich (everything was handed to you), or exceptionally bad at relationships. Or very young and naïve (you haven’t had time to find a partner yet or you haven’t learned that you will be able to find one without being highly accomplished).

      That’s what I run into again and again. But attractiveness still works in your favor in many ways. It is an advantage, and it’s generally not something to complain about.

  21. Amethyst*

    Google has been very unhelpful so I’m turning to y’all.

    A couple nights ago I had been relaxing in bed, scrolling through Facebook & reading news articles on my phone when I felt this small pit of intense heat begin somewhere in the middle of my abdomen (above my navel, I think). Then this heat exploded, for lack of a better word, & rushed into my upper body & into my head. It felt like I was burning from the inside, but when I ran to the bathroom to look inside my mouth, everything looked normal. I looked normal, my skin… Everything was fine. Lasted maybe 30 seconds, if that, but I got so frightened my heart was pounding & I was shaking & I couldn’t sleep for hours after that.

    I mentioned this to a trusted coworker the next morning & she says she experiences the same exact thing (my reaction was exactly the same as hers the first time it happened to her), as does her mother. But none of us know what this is.

    Has anyone else experienced this, & do you know what this is called? I’ll be mentioning it to my gyn when I have my annual in a few days. (Is it a sign of early menopause? I’m 35. Coworker is 42 & is going through menopause.)

    1. Doc in a Box*

      I don’t know either (and I’m curious what your gyn says) but me and my female friends experience this too, to varying degrees. Not correlated with menstrual cycle. I suspect that personally, mine is an adrenaline surge because of … the state of being a woman in 2020.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      It sounds very much like a hot flash. It doesn’t necessarily mean menopause, any surge in hormones (including adrenaline from stress) could be the culprit. Definitely ask your doctor about it, but most of the time it’s no big deal, just really uncomfortable.

    3. Mimosa Jones*

      I wouldn’t take it as a sign of anything yet, but it does sound an awful lot like an early hot flash. My first hot flashes were pretty intense and then they mellowed out.

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’ve had a similar sensation related to a panic attack. I don’t know the physiology of what generates the sensation but I assumed it was something to do with adrenaline in my case.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Above your navel sounds like stomach area. I think the logical thing to check would be what the heck did you eat?
      If I eat too much spicy, pungent stuff I can suddenly grow very warm. My friend will eat spicy stuff until he breaks out in a sweat. I warned him not to do that.
      It could be that you do not ordinarily eat spicy stuff, so maybe you ate something with some spices in it but it was not that “hot”. Because you don’t ordinarily eat that way the spices rebounded on ya.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Is this something that spices do though? This doesn’t sound normal for eating food with spices. Breaking into a sweat totally, but residual localized heat like that doesn’t sound like a thing.

        Maybe if the spices CAUSED something else like acid reflux or whatever, but not the spices themselves.

      2. Amethyst*

        I hadn’t eaten anything except a handful of Cheez-Its around 5 cuz I wasn’t hungry enough for a proper supper. I had normal meals prior to that though, but nothing spicy was had. This was completely different from heartburn cuz it felt like my head was burning from the inside when it hit, & it was gone within 30 seconds.

    6. Ethyl*

      In regards to menopause, just an fyi that perimenopause can last up to TEN [expletive deleted] YEARS before the onset of menopause proper. So it could very well have been a hot flash. OBOS has a great article on perimenopause I’ll stick in a comment.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        RE hot flashes. I have been trying CBD oil and it seems to be going OK, although I hate the way the oil tastes and it’s not inexpensive.

        I just picked up some black cohosh from Walgreen’s and am going to give that a shot. It’s a lot cheaper.

        1. Bibliovore*

          Yup. There Is nothing so discouraging as hot flashes AND Menstrual cramps at the same time. Yup ten years for me.

    7. Blackcat*

      Hot flash.
      Hormonal weirdness can cause it. I got them post-partum, and also when I had a bunch of cysts.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, that reminds me. I had those post-partum. Almost every night at first but then they tapered off until I got my periods back…

    8. Nicki Name*

      A hot flash is certainly a possibility. But if it keeps happening and you’re worried, talk to your doctor.

    9. MissDisplaced*

      It does sound a bit like a heat flash, possibly one that could also be related to a cramp, or maybe a cyst?
      Could it also have been cramping in your intestines?
      Sometimes I would get that and get really warm along with the brief pain low in my abdomen.

      It’s probably nothing to worry over much about unless you have it happen more often.

  22. Writer Wannabe*

    There are weeks I have literally **nothing** to do. I’ve taken trainings, exercised, read white papers, everything, and the busy season’s October. But bored right now. How do I get out of this funk? During the week?

    Also, I find myself following TV shows/stars on Twitter, possibly as a means of escape. I did a writing competition submission, the prize of which may involve actual publication and movie rights. Is it weird there are days I fantasize about becoming the (next big/great/whatever) author?

    1. MissGirl*

      Why aren’t you writing more? If want to succeed as a writer you should always be writing or editing something.

      1. Writer Wannabe*

        I wrote 100k+ words in the past several months and am writing once a week because my carpal tunnel flared up. Also to avoid burnout. I’m reading books now but restless and following celebs on twitter as a means of escape.

        1. Queer Earthling*

          Seriously. Writer burnout is a thing too, and sometimes you just gotta read/research/do stuff to get your creativity going anyway.

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        My friends who write professionally make a point of giving themselves days off, the way people in other jobs routinely do, because it’s better for them and for the writing. The details vary: one person takes Sundays off, regardless (and does not assume she should write every other day), another will work intensely for a while and then take a week or month off. For values of “off” that can include research, whether in her own library or visiting another city or country.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      “Is it weird there are days I fantasize about becoming the (next big/great/whatever) author?”

      I mean I fantasize constantly about being on the Starship Enterprise or having my own dragon, so no, I don’t think fantasizing about your actually potentially attainable goals is weird, but you might not take my word for it. ;)

      Self-mockery aside, imagination is part of creativity, and dreaming about your goals is the first step to approaching them. Fantasize away. It’s fun and it’s healthy and it helps.

      1. Writer Wannabe*

        Starship Enterprise and dragon: :D (I mean, you could always get a virtual reality one? Or robotic, someday? I dunno)

        And thanks re: imagination as part of creativity. I feel a bit less disconcertingly weird now :P

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Hell no. I think about that a lot.

      It’s a nice fantasy; I’m also doing work to try and make it come true. I see by this post and your later comments that you are too. Luck favors the prepared, but in creative fields, we can work our butts off and still never get there. I mean, it could happen, but it’s not likely for most of us. The definition of success isn’t the same for everyone, either. For some, it’s superstardom. For others, it’s being able to make a living doing what you like to do, fame or not.

      Even if it does come true, getting there can be different from what you expect. (Example: you hope to be a best-selling novelist, but it’s your essay collection that hits.) Just remember not to be too attached to the fantasy itself.

    4. migrating coconuts*

      Maybe try something different? Coloring, puzzles, needlework of some kind, cooking, brain teaser puzzles, grab a camera and go to a local park/arboretum/woods, build your family tree, look for volunteer activities you could do safely, draw/paint, or some other kind of craft. Getting outside is always very good for getting out of a funk, no matter what you do when you are out.

      1. Writer Wannabe*

        Thanks :) (Also thanks to all above who commented).

        I’m taking up knitting again, plus I restarted a bit more writing (but at a less two-chapters-a-day pace, and more thought out). I was previously feeling rushed then exhausted/etc.

  23. MissGirl*

    Have you ever turned out to be right when everyone around you either made the opposite decision or seemed to think you were nuts for doing what you were doing? Maybe you got vindication but you couldn’t rub it in or celebrate because being right wasn’t great or you didn’t want to wreck the relationship. Now’s the time to share.

    There’s a woman in my area who hosts group trips for singles over thirty. She’ll rent a huge house or a few cabins at a destination resort and provide food and outdoor activities. I’ve been on one and it was a great way to meet people and get out of my shell. When she announced one for August, I was quite surprised because I figured forty or so people staying three days in one house was a great way to catch COVID. I couldn’t believe how many people showed interest on Facebook from several states. Although I get it too on some level. This darn situation has really hit single people hard and we’re all fighting back depression. We’re also older and faced with ticking clocks around starting families before it’s too late. We can’t sit out dating for a year.

    Four weeks after the event passed and I hadn’t heard a thing so I figured maybe I was wrong about how contagious this thing is. Then this week I went paddle boarding with an acquaintance from the group. Yep, a bunch of people caught COVID. My friend had an extremely mild case and has no regrets (I’m sups glad I’ve been social distancing from her all summer. She keeps suggesting activities that would have us in a car for hours and I haven’t trusted her risk level). One guy in my hiking group wound up in the hospital for a week and he has no underlying conditions and was in great health.

    The thing is part of me wants to blast people for such recklessness but part of me wishes I was wrong and I could go to the next one. Yes, she’s having more.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Every.single.event for my org for this year, starting from mid-March, has been canceled. For reference, I’ve been to 8 events (mostly weekend gatherings at a hotel, one is a week-long gathering at a hotel) last year and to another 8 the year before. None this year, as it should be. We all go back years and (in some cases) decades, and are like family, are all feeling very lonely and miss each other, but we are also either high-risk, or have loved ones that are high-risk, and either way, even in my case of a fairly healthy middle-aged person, I am already living with lifelong effects of two past injuries, and do not want to add lifelong side effects of Covid on top of that. Blows my mind that someone would have scheduled one for August.

      I recently caught a glimpse of my former hiking club about to leave on a hike, as I pulled into the same parking lot for a solo hike. Group of about 20, standing close together in the parking lot, no masks in sight. No, thanks.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        PS. Just saw it that she is having more after what already happened. WTH is wrong with this woman?

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        I was just in Tennessee, and apparently they haven’t gotten the memo about COVID (at least not in the non-Nashville areas). There was a big car show, and people were lined up along the parade route with their outdoor chairs. All standing and sitting about three inches away from each other with not a mask in sight.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “Have you ever turned out to be right when everyone around you either made the opposite decision or seemed to think you were nuts for doing what you were doing? ”

      I am chuckling, actually that feels like the story of my life. My elderly FIL used to talk about “keeping your own counsel” and your story here is a perfect example. We know that we know. Here, you did not need validation from others to make your own separate choice. And right, there is no saying “I told you so”. It feels kind of empty until you think about what is the actual goal here. The actual goal was to keep yourself safe and you accomplished that. Other people will have to have their learning experiences. And these learning experiences can be very costly, matter of fact the cost can be the highest price there is to pay.

      We have many things in our society where people take on unnecessary risk and lives are lost. It’s not new but it is just as horrible. We still have not been able to eliminate drunk driving. Nor have we been able to get a handle on cell usage while driving. All this to say, I am not surprised that people are also breaking procedures for Covid. It’s sad because it is so avoidable.

      I just saw an article about a pastor who told his congregation they did not have to wear masks. The pastor and his wife both got Covid. The article ended on the pastor saying he had no intention of changing his church’s policy on masks. Now this is mind-bending. I guess it will take time for the pews to empty out, church revenues to drop and then he will become aware there is a problem.

      I see Connecticut has a fine for having events that with over x number of people. The fine is $250 for the person who organized the event. Maybe this type of thing will work out… or not.

      Sometimes the most we can get is out of a situation is the internal satisfaction that we had the foresight to see the correct choice. And we cry for those who should have known better.

    3. Flabbernabbit*

      No one had to catch Covid-19 for you to be right. I’m gobsmacked at this woman and all the irresponsible people who sign up for these gatherings. A family member is holding a combined life event celebration and networking party in a park in a couple of weeks. A statement about masks and physical distancing appears on her event website, alongside a message to invite anyone you wish and the more the merrier. She sends messages about the event appearing to be maxed (because the event site she’s using maxes attendees due to regs where she lives), but ignore that and come anyway. She is well connected and publishes it out to all of her hundreds of social media contacts every few days to many eager responses. Mind boggling. I’ve always wished I were as gregarious as she is, but wow.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Yeah, I don’t get these people.
      There’s the wedding in Maine that resulted in 7 Covid deaths. None of the 7 attended the wedding. Attendees brought the virus to them. The wedding officiant is still holding services and shows no remorse.
      Wow. There are no words.

    5. Girasol*

      I was the first to cancel all of my commitments this year. I got lectured by all and sundry about how I didn’t need to be so afraid, and it’s not as bad as all that, and they say you can’t get covid outdoors/from friends/in stores, and it’s just the flu, and . But each organization that I bowed out of changed their plans and cancelled everything before their next event anyway. I didn’t miss a thing except for the opportunity to say “I told you so.” I still struggle with social distancing though. People still step closer and closer and I step back and back until they say, “What’s the matter? I’m 4 feet away, that’s almost the same as 6!”

    6. WS*

      I’m in Australia, in hard lockdown, and I was just talking to a US friend about this. I think in some ways it’s a bit easier for me because there’s an authority saying “Do this, and here are the reasons why, and here is the hard data,” whereas she has to take on all that assessment herself in the face of people not doing the right thing. And it’s really obvious that the US death toll is massive – and the number of survivors who will have long-term issues even higher – but that’s an abstract thing to a lot of people.

    7. Dan*

      The reality is, good decisions are good decisions, even if the outcome is not the ideal one. Bad decisions are bad decisions, even if the outcome was positive. And… even if nobody caught COVID at this one, doesn’t mean they won’t at the next one.

      But I don’t think your “blast” will be productive. Those who got really sick know it and don’t need a reminder, and those who got just a mild case may think it was worth it and may consider your “blast” to be sanctimonious. Net result is your blast is likely to not gain you any friends, and stands a good chance of rubbing people the wrong way, so it all depends on what outcome you are trying to achieve.

    8. Systemic Failure vs Personal Responsibility*

      Honestly, this situation seems to me like a personal problem that is made possible by a systemic failure. We can all say that this organiser is terrible and negligent and that the people who sign up are foolish and wrong, but as long as the government allows people to make terrible choices, the problem is systemic and personal responsibility can only do so much.

      Where I live, this sort of gathering would be illegal right now.

  24. Glove me, baby!*

    Has anyone sewn their own fabric gloves? any patterns, techniques or tips to recommend? It somehow seems like a good idea, all of a sudden.

    1. Editor*

      There are vintage patterns for glove-making. I think Vogue may have offered some, along with some of the other older pattern companies. Try eBay. Also, look for groups that make historical costumes or do re-enactments. Many more gloves there.

      Google “glove sewing patterns” and you will find a bunch of entries. Also, try Threads magazine. They do a lot of tailoring and garment articles, and I am pretty sure I read an article there (yes! See link on reply post).The magazine has an online community that you may find very helpful. Threads is worth subscribing to if you like to sew clothes.

  25. PostalMixup*

    A few years ago, we got a package that was clearly assembled from multiple packages that had ripped open in the mail. Inside was some (seemingly) random old stuff. We put it in a closet. A few weeks ago we were cleaning out that closet and realized that there was an old personal letter tucked into one of the books, and I was able to Google a name for a living descendent. I’d like to return these materials that look like family history. But how do I find an address to contact this person? I can find several possible addresses online. I know the city he lives in, and I contacted his former employer, but that was a bust (they wouldn’t give me his contact info but promised to pass on mine – he never called me back). Do I just send a letter to each of these addresses? How does one find people in an age where phone books aren’t really a thing?

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      County tax records. If he owns a house, his address will be in the county tax records.

      (ps if you’re ever stalked, create a corporation with a different name to buy the house you move to)

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Can you ask your local group of genealogists for help? (Or the group in XYZ location if the package contents give you any clues?) Even better if the package contents give clear signals that the family has a certain ethnic, religious, and/or geographic origin or affiliation. I know there are groups of Jewish genealogists so I’m figuring that there may also be organizations of people whose families came from Lithuania / left Germany after the 1848 revolution / belong or belonged to a particular religion etc.

      1. PostalMixup*

        I have a name already. The letter was from Mrs. Letter Writer, who referenced her husband Mr. Letter Writer, who google tells me owned a store in Nearby College Town that still exists, under the management of Mr. Great Nephew, a retired physician. I just have no phone number or address for him. Online white pages give me several out of service numbers and several possible addresses.

    3. Lurker*

      I’ve found Family Tree Now very helpful. You can search for anyone, living or dead, and it will list their current and previous addresses, family members, and associates. You also don’t need to create an account to use it. It’s generally pretty accurate and a go-to for me. Good luck!

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Facebook is very effective in finding people for a positive reason. Another idea is Spokeo or the like.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Try Facebook group ‘Genealogy: LOST and FOUND”. They’ve had some improbable successes reuniting people with photos of family ancestors.

    5. Thankful for AAM*

      See if your local library has a database called Reference USA. It just changed its name to something odd, with initials DARS.

      It lets you look up all kinds of things about ppl. Everyone should look themselves up.

  26. WellRed*

    Last week I asked for advice on laying my brother to rest when there was little money to do so. We went with cremation and are doing the small service entirely on our own which is making me nervous, logistically. My question is, does anyone have tips on getting through very short remarks at the gathering when trying not to cry? I can cry after.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Oh, WellRed. Why shouldn’t you cry? The “small service” is to remember and honor your brother, and also so that your immediate loved ones can support you. People sometimes cry when they’re sad. Even if you’re doing a reading and you break down, it’s not a performance that you’ve ruined. It’s a genuine expression of how you feel.

      But, if you are very concerned about not wanting to cry when you’re speaking, I will say that the older tradition at funerals and services is that the immediate bereaved DON’T take public speaking roles. They are there to receive the support of the community.

      You have several options. You could delegate the “service leader” role to someone else (basically to corral people and act as a MC), but you can still have one speaking role so that you can express your love and talk about your brother. You and your mother could assign all the speaking roles to other people, and just be free to feel and behave however is natural at the time. Or, you could retain the role of service leader and speaker, and know that your community loves you and supports you, and that if you do cry, they will understand why.

      My sympathy and best wishes at a very hard time.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      If it’s just a small group of close people, the logistics aren’t a big deal. Small groups are always easier to manage than large, plus it’s less of a performance with an audience and more something you are all doing together.

      About 6 months after my grandma died, we gathered again to lay her ashes to rest in the family cemetery. It was very casual (one of my brothers dug the actual hole) and my grandma’s brother did the closing remarks. They were long and rambling, with the story of an irrelevant collateral relation who was also buried there thrown in. Grandma’s brother capped it all off by producing some firecrackers from behind one of the headstones and setting them off.

      It was fine. Not touching or poignant, but we all love my great uncle and we also love my grandma. We had a good time remembering her and celebrating the family she left behind.

      So remember, no matter what happens, at least you didn’t bring firecrackers!

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      + 1 million to everything that Not a Manager said. This is real life, not a performance nor an audition. Grief is, in the beginning, not at all okay, but it is definitely okay to cry.

      Other thoughts:
      Gather a fistful of paper tissues and maybe a glass (or bottle) of water–simply having these on hand may prove sufficiently reassuring.
      Take a deep breath, do what you have to (cry or sob), and keep going.

      Sending you supportive thoughts. May you and your mother be comforted.

    4. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I’m trying to figure out if you mean you will be listening or actually speaking. Very sorry for your loss.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      When Elton John performed Candle in the Wind at Princess Di’s funeral, he sang the song over and over until he did not cry.
      You can write a short speech and read it out loud over and over until you feel you have some control over your voice tone.

      If you are not the one giving the mini-speech then don’t worry about crying. Funerals are supposed to help us get the emotions out front and process the emotions. Personally, I find that I am better once I see others at the funeral with me. The presence of others can help in unexpected ways.

    6. Merci Dee*

      We did exactly this for my mother several weeks ago. We intered her ashes at one of the national cemeteries administered by the VA, so we had to schedule a time slot, and each service is only allowed 15 minutes. Granted, you’re probably not working with such a limited time frame. But my dad, my four siblings, and I all took no more than 2 minutes to speak. So that helped to make sure we were able to get through our remarks. 2 minutes doesn’t seem like a lit of time, but it was just about perfect for getting out the essential things that mom meant to each of us.

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

    7. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I spoke at my dad’s funeral. Had notes; practiced a lot! Told my kids if I looked straight at them, they should make a face at me (didn’t need to do this). Included in my speech some quirky and humorous anecdotes, so had a break here and there with a few chuckles from those in attendance. Anyway, it’s a funeral. I know you don’t want to cry, but don’t worry about it.

    8. The teapots are on fire*

      I’m so sorry for all you’re going through. Accept that fact that you may cry. I helped host a Zoom memorial for my ex-husband and his brother cried in the middle of his eulogy. We all just waited until he could continue. It’s part of the memorial for people to break down and grieve together. It’s part of why you’re doing this.

    9. Been there*

      My sympathies, WellRed. Warm thoughts coming your way, always.

      I second the person who mentioned that it is often someone less-close who makes remarks, because it can be so hard to choke out words when choked with grief. And that’s ok. I knew I would not be able to speak at my almost-mom’s memorial service without sobbing (though I was invited to do so), and that was ok. I wrote her obituary instead. And my best friend (her daughter) and I remember her every year with a talk, a walk on her favorite beach, or whatever. It’s ok that I didn’t speak at the memorial. And it’s ok if you decide not to also. People will understand.

      If you do want to try, have a back-up person in the wings who knows ahead of time to come and take over if you signal that you want them to do so.

    10. Insurance mom*

      Write out your planned remarks and go for it! Tears are an appropriate response to the situation. Have a backup person who can finish your remarks- just hand them your script to finish if necessary. Remember you will be among folks who feel as bereft as you are.

    11. Blue Eagle*

      At two different services in the past, a third party read the written down remarks of an immediate family member. Perhaps consider that.

  27. Worried Mom*

    Content warning: suicidal thoughts and plans, depression, hospitalization for mental illness

    My 17yo daughter almost tried to kill herself this week. She stopped herself and sought help, and is in voluntary commitment for the next 3-7 days. My inner circle and my husband’s and my bosses know some details, but how do I talk to other people about this while keeping my daughter’s privacy?

    I will need to say something in a lot of cases because I have to rearrange plans and commitments. I was thinking, “We’re dealing with some urgent family medical stuff, so I’ll have to cancel XYZ and get back to you in a week or two about rescheduling,” but I would love some ideas. I’m shell-shocked and I’ve been sleeping in an ER visitor chair for two nights so the brain cells are not highly functional.

    1. Red Sky*

      Honestly, I’d keep it more vague. “Dealing with a family emergency” is probably all I’d say and if possible I’d do it via email or text to limit questions. If someone does get nosy, a quick “Can’t talk right now” or “Don’t feel like talking about it” would hopefully cut that off.

      Thank you for protecting your daughter’s privacy and I’m sorry your family is going thru this. I hope she gets the tools and treatment she needs to feel better soon.

      1. Pennyworth*

        You can even use the need to respect an unspecified person’s privacy as a reason not to divulge any details. No decent person will push for information.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          “Not my story to share” has served me well when deflecting questions.
          My sympathy to you & yours.

    2. nep*

      So sorry you and your family are going through this. Agree w your script and others’ suggestions–vague is fine. Don’t take on any more burden than you already have, thinking you owe any further explanation. Urgent family matters. If pressed, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to go into it,’ or whatever flows.
      Peace and healing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Definitely, on going with “I am not going to go into it”. Or you can use other statements such as:

        Takes too long to tell the story, so I don’t.
        I am not ready to talk about it now, and it maybe a while, if ever, before I can.
        I am helping someone else and it’s their story to tell not mine.
        I can’t chat now, I have to run.
        It’s a family emergency- that’s all I can say.

        Your family is in my thoughts.

    3. Courageous cat*

      You could also say your daughter is suddenly very ill (but expected to recover?), if you want to go into slightly more detail but don’t want to expose why. Because that’s very much what happened.

      1. silverpie*

        Not sure that revealing it’s medical is a good idea, because under the current circumstances, people may well assume it’s COVID, and start panicking, either on their own behalf and/or start tracing her contacts And scaring them. “Family emergency” seems about right to me.

    4. Dorian*

      You’ve gotten some good advice already. I am a mom of 2 teens and I just want to send you some mama hugs. I am so glad she is getting help and I hope you will be able to stand down while she is inpatient and take care of yourself too.

    5. AGD*

      I think the above suggestions are wonderful, but I also wanted to say this is so brutal and difficult and I’ll be thinking of you. Kudos to your daughter for asking for help, and to you for being so supportive.

    6. Venus*

      Your wording is good. It *is* a medical emergency, so you are being completely accurate and honest. Yet you can also be more vague if you wish, as people often ask for updates in future out of kindness. There are all sorts of things that come up suddenly, for example I had to miss a day of work at my new job when my furnace died and I felt badly yet everyone understood. “Household” emergency might be vague enough while sounding unavoidable?

      I’m sorry your family is going through this. Best wishes to you.

    7. Flabbernabbit*

      I have no advice, but giving you thoughts of strength, sympathy and healing for you, your daughter and your family.

    8. TX Lizard*

      I also want to add that it is okay to talk to people about this. Yes, you want to protect her privacy, but it is not just affecting her. Please make sure you and your husband find someone you can talk to about this (a therapist, trusted friend, etc.). I know you are mostly asking about it coming up with coworkers, etc, but don’t let it feel like a secret you have to bear on your own.
      You also need and deserve support.

      1. Worried Mom*

        Thank you! Luckily I had a call with my therapist which helped a ton, and my best friend knows and is supporting me. And of course my husband is all in and we’re leaning on each other. Yes, it would be impossible to get through this without several close people to cry to for sure.

    9. Bex*

      I would probably say “My family is dealing with a sudden medical emergency so I need to cancel our meeting. I’ll be back in touch when I’m back online, likely next week.”

      Even though people aren’t entitled to details, I would include “medical” because I do think people are more understanding about medical issues vs other things that may come up. And “sudden” circumvents any wondering if you could have managed your time better. “When I’m back online” underscores that you will likely be completely unavailable in the interim.

    10. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      I have a work friend who went through something similar, and she said some version of “My family has significant medical needs right now, so [work impact]. You can talk with [coworker] if you need immediate assistance and I’m away from my phone.” to almost everyone. As far as I know, everyone understood and nobody asked for more information.
      She did sit down and tell me the whole story one day after work because she said it was draining to her to feel like it was a secret and she trusted me not to tell anyone. I was happy to be that person for her.
      I guess what I’m saying is do what works for you and your family! Also remember that you don’t have to be your best and most perfect professional self right now with the most polished delivery. If you show an emotion at work or forget something or have a hard time, that is normal and okay.

    11. Worried Mom*

      First, THANK YOU to everyone, both for the practical ideas, and for the sympathetic words. I’ve been in “take the needed actions and be supportive” mode for a few days now, and honestly you guys being so nice got me crying, which is exactly what I NEED now that she’s squared away and I have room to fall apart a little.

      I think I’ll be using the “urgent family situation” and “I don’t have the energy to get into it” ideas – I hadn’t even thought of people jumping to Covid conclusions and it just feels like the vaguer the better after reading all your input.

      Again, please know that you’ve been of great concrete help and I’m really touched and helped by your kindness as well.

      She is doing OK and I talked to her hospital therapist today and was very pleased – seems like she Gets It and will be a good helper for my kid. Ultimately, I think this will help her get what she needs to heal and find happiness in life. Is it possible to be horrified and optimistic at the same time? That’s kind of where I am.

    12. LGC*

      I’m really sorry about this! I hope your daughter is doing well, and I’m glad that she’s getting the help she needs. (And that she got herself the help she needs! I’m proud of her for that!)

      I think your script is fine – you can even say that your daughter fell ill suddenly without specifying what the illness is. (Like, honestly, it’s the truth – she had a mental health crisis, mental health is health, so on and so forth.) I’m a fan of giving just enough detail to satisfy people’s curiosity, otherwise some people might wonder why you’re being so evasive.

      That said – a lot of people are nosy, and in that case, saying you’re dealing with a sudden unspecified medical emergency is better.

      Finally, in both cases, you might want to say that it’s not CORONAVIRUS just to head off that assumption.

    13. Thankful for AAM*

      I went through the exact same thing with my son, exactly the same, when he was 16.

      I told people he was having mental health issues around depression. I actively wanted to de-stigmatize mental health. To my surprise, I barely spoke to a person who did not have a close family member who had similar issues. I found comfort in being open about it.

      I found the most support, practical and emotional, from NAMI.

      I just want to send best wishes and to let you know it gets better!

    14. RagingADHD*

      Family medical emergency / I have a close family member in the hospital.

      If it’s someone you like & trust, possibly “my daughter was taken ill.”

      You can always relay the seriousness/urgency of the situation without giving details.

    15. Shattered but hopeful*

      Worried Mom – I am so sad to say this but my family is in the same situation. My daughter attempted suicide last Sunday and is currently in a Crisis Center. She will come home tomorrow and go into an intensive outpatient program. We too have been struggling with what to divulge. My daughter doesn’t want anyone to know, so we are trying to respect that.

      We’ve pretty much said nothing, just health issues – pretty much what you have been saying. We haven’t come up with a better solution. I am torn – I know we don’t owe anyone any information, but it’s also so hard to keep all this a secret and bottled up. I did tell my boss, which was a relief, and she is so so supportive of any time off I will need. I also trust her not to share the news. And when I told her, she divulged that her brother attempted suicide when he was in college. So everyone probably has experienced some sort mental health crisis in their lives. Meanwhile, I am pretty certain everyone knows something and is talking about it, as the ambulance and a couple of police cars pulled up in front of our house last week and she was loaded into the ambulance on a stretcher. I’ve been avoiding everyone in the neighborhood, not wanting to have to talk about it. I feel sort of ridiculous when I am out walking the dog and re-route myself to avoid people, but I just can’t deal with them right now. I do finally speak to my own therapist in a few hours. I also am hoping for some kind of parental support group…this is all so overwhelming. We are however thankful that our daughter is going to be ok physically and now getting the help she needs – and hopeful that this will be the start of a new and much better chapter for her.

      I am sending you a giant giant hug and lots of support your family. You are not alone.

  28. Red Sky*

    Fellow houseplant lovers, is there a houseplant specific app you like for reminders on fertilizing your babies? I’ve really been getting into plants during the pandemic and find I tend to either over-nurture or completely neglect depending on where they’re located in my house (out of sight. out of mind).

    Also, what’s your ‘money is no object’ dream houseplant? I’d sell my firstborn for a licuala orbicularis/ parasol palm (kidding! childless by choice)

    1. pancakes*

      I don’t use an app, but a YouTube plant channel I subscribe to has a caretaker tracker that looks promising — it’s called Plant One on Me / brooklynhomestead dot com. I don’t know the cost. I think there are some free ones.

      My dream houseplants are espaliered fruit and almond trees in the sort of greenhouse that even winning the lottery probably wouldn’t put within reach! And a Monty Don-type scenario outdoors, with fritillaria and ferns and an expensive moss consultant who drops by now and then. The only realism in any of this is me knowing I’d need help.

    2. university minion*

      This won’t work if you live somewhere that’s cold much of the year, but I keep all my plants in 2 places in my yard – one with more sun, one with a bit less. I rotate them inside for a few weeks when one is doing something interesting. With them all together, it’s easy to care for them and stay on top of fertilizer, water, etc. They get brought into the garage or covered if the night will get close to freezing.

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      I was unable to remember to look after plants until I installed the Vera app. It lets you set up a profile for each plant and set a reminder schedule for watering and fertilising. I needed it for watering for the first month or so, until I got in the habit of watering. Fertilising is trickier, since it’s a monthly thing, so Vera is perfect.

      I want a nice, tall, indoor tree. Aldi is meant to have yucca trees on sale today, so I hope to be able to make this dream come true.

      1. BabyCarrot*

        Thanks for the app recommandation! I have a tendancy to over water because I water my plants every week but for some of them it might be too much!

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Oh for sure. For a lot of plants, especially drought-tolerant plants like yucca, root rot is more of a problem than under watering.

          Couple of things you can do – make sure your pots are well-draining. I like to put a bunch of rocks in the bottoms of my pots, which helps extra water drain out. Also, when you go to water, stick a finger into the dirt and see if there’s moisture down a few inches. If there is, for a lot of plants, you can delay watering for a few more days.

    4. Dancing Otter*

      I just put “water plants” in my Reminders app on a weekly repeat, and “plant food” with a monthly repeat. No special app needed.

      Years ago, I had what the craft store called “Swedish ivy”. I have no idea what the Latin name was, and I’ve never found it again. The leaves weren’t as pointy as English ivy, and were crinkly. If anyone recognizes this, can you tell me it’s proper name?

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My money is no object dream plant involves the planter. My grandmother had a gardenia in a Roseville planter. Mom inherited it and kept it alive another 15 years before the plant died. Knowing her she threw out the pot because it had a crack….unfortunately the planter is collectible, now over $100 on ebay.

  29. Daffodil*

    Tl;dr: I had a consultation with my GP in which I didn’t like the way he spoke to me. How can I trust him again?

    I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was a teenager and I’ve been going to this GP for close to 8 years now. Although I have not lost much weight, my other health indicators are on the good side of normal. He’s been instrumental in this process. However, he can sometimes be strict and gruff.

    A few months back, I put on a bit of weight due to a combination of factors that primarily includes a 60+ hour/week job. He told me off for this and insisted I would have to follow his guidelines – “you have to do it, you’ve put on weight”. I really didn’t like the way he spoke to me and now I dread going to him, to the extent that I start crying when I think about going back to him. I feel like he doesn’t understand or respect my constraints (he has mentioned before that I should prioritise exercise over studying for exams and it doesn’t matter if I fail. Which is easy to say when you’re not the one writing the exam). But he knows my medical history, his clinic is located at a convenient distance from my house, and it’s difficult to find a new doctor right now because *gestures at everything*. Also a factor is that his fees are affordable (I am not in the US, if it matters).

    So, any advice as to how to navigate this situation? I’ve had my mom play mediator (she has actively been involved in my diagnosis and subsequent treatment) and stick up for me, but I can’t help feeling despair any time I think of having to visit him. I’ve been avoiding certain foods out of fear of what he will say if I put on any more weight. How can I bring myself to not stress out at the thought of a medical checkup, assuming that changing doctors is not an option right now? Thank you for any and all thoughts.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Is there any other doctor in his practice?
      Can you have your mom call and ask for a nurse to be in the room during the exam and discussion? Sometimes people get less bad with witnesses.

      Is there anything he could do / say to make you feel less afraid? If yes, write him a letter telling him what you told us and ask him for a change: his lecture made you sad and anxious as you try to balance your competing priorities, and you are asking if he could X and Y, so that you feel supported and respected, which will make it easier for you to focus on your health priority.

      Also, any chance of teletherapy? An EAP at work? (Employee Assistance Program) Just a couple of sessions asking for specific advice on how to talk to the dr might make you feel more in control.

    2. SunnySideUp*

      “But he knows my medical history, his clinic is located at a convenient distance from my house, and it’s difficult to find a new doctor right now because *gestures at everything*.”

      Those are roadblocks you’re putting up because, well, it can be a lot of work to find a new dr. But please, please, DO NOT go back to him. You feel actual despair at the thought of seeing him. Please, OWN YOUR AGENCY. Ask your mom, who clearly is on your side, to help you find a different doctor. NO ONE is allowed to make you feel bad about yourself!

      Wishing you a good outcome.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Adding, I am not sure how much they teach docs about food and nutrition. I went to one doc who told me food has nothing to do with health. I found another doc. You may find it supportive to go to someone such as a nutritionist to talk about what foods to eat and get suggestions on new foods to try. A good nutritionist can also suggest ways of preparing the food so it is appealing.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          I told my rheumatologist I wanted a referral to an endocrinologist because I don’t lose weight even when I exercise daily and eat 1,200 calories/day. He told me if I can’t lose weight at 1,200, then I should cut down to 600. I mean–isn’t that pretty irresponsible? Maybe if it was a medically supervised diet for a week or so to “jumpstart” things, it would be okay. But to just eat 600 calories per day with no end in sight? First of all, I know for a fact I actually lose more weight when I eat more. I was doing a high-protein diet for a while and felt fantastic (losing 11 lb. in less than two weeks); the only problem is I have kidney disease and it wasn’t good for my kidney function, so I had to stop. Second of all, I used to be underweight until I took HGH injections for a pituitary growth hormone deficiency (not the shady HGH; legal HGH injections prescribed by an endocrinologist). The purpose was to gain some height, but I grew a couple inches vertically and a lot of inches horizontally. I think I should be seen by an endocrinologist if I am continuing to have weight issues.

          1. Zooey*

            That’s WILDLY irresponsible and you should definitely seek further advice. No idea about the right referral but telling someone to restrict their calories to 600 outside a medically supervised setting is unbelievably irresponsible.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Even within a medically supervised setting, it’s going to have long-term repercussions. See the Minnesota Starvation Experiment.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            This is what I have seen happen to diabetics. If their blood sugar does not go down in a specific time frame then the doc lowers their calorie count even more. My MIL went down to 600 calories a day also. It seemed insane to me. If I ate just an apple for lunch I would keel over before 4 pm. Nutso stuff.

            Lots of things block weight loss. My big surprise was how much allergies can interfere weight loss. I started reducing common allergens in my home and diet and my weight loss resumed. Lack of sleep can also interfere with weight loss. Just my opinion, but I think docs could look more at the whole picture instead of blaming the patient.

      2. Reba*

        Yes, Daffodil I know this is going against your stated question, and I understand it feels like it will be too hard. (I’m long overdue for certain medical visits myself.)

        But it seems clear that going back to this doctor will be worse than whatever hurdles there are to getting a new one.

        You don’t deserve this treatment.

        In the meantime, some people on this forum have reported success with tactics like declining to be weighed as part of vital signs checking, and setting a boundary with the doc like “I’m here to talk about issue X, I will not be discussing weight with you today.”

    3. AGD*

      I’d also find someone new. Medical secretaries are used to transferring records, and it’s worth going out of your way to find someone who doesn’t shame you for the shape of your body. Everyone deserves medical care that is compassionate, science-based, and kind; this sounds mean-spirited, arrogant, and bigoted.

    4. CJM*

      I hope you’ll find someone else. You no longer trust him to treat you well, and having trust in your doctor is critical as you mind your health. Find someone who values your well-being in all areas: physical, mental, and emotional.

      1. CJM*

        I should add that I speak from experience. I switched doctors about 15 years ago because I lost trust in my doctor, and I’ve never once regretted making the change. It’s a long story as to why, and I’ll spare you the details. But I firmly believe that a positive connection and trust are essential for good health care.

    5. lapgiraffe*

      Find a new doc, it’s so so so so worth it. I am in the same boat you’re in and had a doctor berate me, tell me that I’m lying, and even get mad at me when I did lose weight because he was proven wrong. Getting him out of my life made not only a huge difference on my mental health but also on my physical. Weight loss is so challenging with PCOS, the last thing you need is someone who is supposed to be in your corner discouraging you!

      Also, gonna give a shout out to Whole30, it’s the first and only plan that I’ve been able to use as a true lifestyle change (though the forums are not great and some people go crazy on it, just do it yourself or better yet, enlist a friend, use the book as a resource, and stay away from the obsessives on instagram). I don’t live it strictly, but it informs so much of my meal planning now and it was really helpful to see how different food groups affect me.

      I would also recommend Black Girls Guide to Weigh Loss, both the resources on the blog but also the instagram (particularly stories, she does great Q&A). The woman who runs it has the most level-headed advice and science backed philosophies, and she promotes a very “be kind to yourself” atmosphere while still pushing people to their best. In essence, I’ve found these two things to be helpful in empowering myself and being gentler with myself.

    6. Kiwi with laser beams*

      I had a specialist who was bad about weight (he prescribed weight loss that was too fast and when I got a second opinion from a dietitian, the dietitian confirmed that it wasn’t healthy). I had been dreading going back to him and having to loop in my dietitian to say “no, really, weight loss doesn’t work that way” and then not long after that, I reached the top of the waiting list in my country’s public system and was given a better specialist that way. My current specialist isn’t near where I live at all, but even if the dud doctor was walking distance from my place, I’d still go to my better specialist.

      So if it was me, I’d figure out which of those points I could compromise on (affordable but further away, for example). As for knowing your medical history, I’ve been to about four specialists since my illness was detected, and have been to four GPs in the last few years due to moving a lot. They’re used to getting up to speed on new patients. Telling you to jeopardise your future in order to lose weight is INCREDIBLY fucked up and I would see that as a major argument in favour of starting to look for someone new, even if it takes a while due to covid.

    7. PollyQ*

      Nth-ing the advice to find a new doctor. I had a doctor who once took the opportunity to lecture me about my weight while I was there for an incredibly painful ear infection. I would’ve walked out, except I really, really needed that antibiotic prescription. That was the last time I ever saw him.

      Your medical records can be easily transferred to a new doctor, and another doctor at his clinic may have an opening right now.

      The way not to stress about seeing a doctor is to find a doctor that doesn’t stress you out.

    8. juneybug*

      Please use your energy to find a new doctor than worry about the next visit. So many times I wasted my energy worrying about something than actually changing the situation. Now that I am older and little wiser, I take short time to get upset/mad/anxious about the situation, then I start a new plan.
      1. Ask your mom for advice or assistance. It sounds like she’s been a great ally so use her skills to help you.
      2. Call the doctor’s office for advice on switching doctors.
      3. Call your insurance for advice on switching doctors.

      If you can not switch, practice saying or doing the following –
      I am doing the best I can do and would appreciate your support.
      Could I see a nutritionist since avoiding food or trying to exercise with 60 hour work weeks is not working?
      When he says anything negative, look him in the eye and tell him that is not helpful.
      Ouch – that was harsh! Did you mean to say that in that tone?

      You got this! You have dealt with a serious health condition so it’s obvious you are a strong person.

  30. Be the Change*

    Oh, Worried Mom, so sorry. Sending waves of support your way.

    Your script sounds perfect. If someone presses, then, “it’s not something I want to talk about, but I appreciate your concern and good thoughts, thanks bye.”

  31. Sherlock*

    I have a low stakes mystery question.

    I previously had a white bath towel, but replaced it with a dark emerald one recently. I washed it before using it and it was fine, but when I washed it a second time it suddenly had a bunch of bleached spots in one area.

    My towel hangs on a rack with my roommates’ towels. Roommate 1 uses a benzoyl peroxide face wash and ointment, but insists they didn’t touch my towel. Roommate 2 uses doesn’t use anything suspicious, and also says they didn’t touch it.

    Does anyone have any ideas of what else could have bleached it? I’m not going to buy a new towel now, but I’d like to prevent more bleaching.

    Things I use: Face sunscreen. Shaving cream. Body wash. Face and body lotions. Salicylic acid lotion. Saline contact rinse. I’m stumped. I don’t think any of this stuff would bleach if I accidentally got them on the towel (and I’m not sure how I would, since the towel is for drying my clean face/hands/body). The only thing I know I get on the towel is the contact solution (I wash my hands, handle the contacts, then blot my hands on my towel).

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Any chance someone had used bleach in the laundry right before you washed your towel? (You said the bleach spots showed up suddenly after a wash, and I’m not sure how literally you mean that, is why I’m asking.)

      1. Sherlock*

        No bleach in the house. Some spots on the towel lost their dark emerald color (the spots are almost like a pinkish color), which I assume is what bleach does.

        1. Sue Smith*

          My daughter used benzoyl peroxide and had deep blue towels. The spots that developed on her towels were pink, and they showed up after washing.
          I don’t see anything else on your list that I would suspect in the bleaching. I looked up sunscreen, but that’s said to cause orange/yellow stains.

          1. Sherlock*

            That’s interesting!!! I just assumed anything that had a bleaching/discoloring affect would look the same. If benzoyl peroxide leaves pink spots, then Roommate 1 is looking increasingly suspicious.

            1. All the cats 4 me*

              Just to clarify, benzyl peroxide doesn’t leave pink spots per se; it oxidizes the dye in the cloth – so the color is “lost”. The color remaining depends on the dye, how much oxidizer was in contact with it and likely the textile (cotton vs poly/cotton, for example).

              Note that some bathroom cleaning products will also oxidize textile dyes – even if they don’t explicitly say they contain bleach, because they often are quite alkaline.

              If the spots on your towel look like a spray pattern or spray drift, that could be the source.

              Benzyl peroxide is usually a gel, so it would depend on what the faded spots look like (finger wipes, or large areas). I am not familiar with a b.p. wash product, but possibly there was some accidental splash to your towel?

              I think you can be fairly certain, as there is no bleach in the house, that either b.p. or cleaning products are the cause of the color loss.

        2. Artemesia*

          Your roommates stuff got on your towel. They didn’t purposefully do it and so don’t own it but that is how it happened if you aren’t using bleaching products and they are.

          1. Esmeralda*

            Agreed. Especially if it is spots and not a largish blob or smear. Stuff gets sprayed, it gets on other people’s towels and clothes.

            Also, even if your face/hands are clean, you could have missed a small spot which then got on the towel.

          2. Pennyworth*

            If it is spots in one area your roommate could have touched your towel with bleachy fingertips, especially if your towel hangs close to hers.

    2. Not A Manager*

      If someone had been using bleach in the washer prior, I would expect the fading to be more even.

      Honestly, I think your roommate is fibbing to you. That’s too bad, but I’d consider the mystery solved and stop leaving your towels in the bathroom if you don’t want other people touching them.

      1. Sherlock*

        I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt since I have no idea why they would grab my towel when they don’t need to move it or anything, but, yeah, I can’t figure out what else it could have been. Too late to save the towel. Hopefully I’ll be living somewhere else by the time I need a new one.

        1. The Spinning Arrow*

          Is it possible that they washed their face using their benzoyl peroxide wash, reached for their towel, and accidentally grabbed yours first? Or, if they rinse their face in a way that splashes a ton it’s possible the face wash splashing onto your towel could have bleached it. (Are there just a few big bleach spots or a lot of little spots?)

          It’s also entirely possible they used your towel, didn’t realize just how much the face wash would bleach it, and are now lying to cover it up, but only you can say which of those options is more likely to be true of your roommate. Either way, I’m sorry your towel got bleached. I had to use some benzoyl peroxide products when I was younger, and I know how much they wreck everything they touch. (RIP to my favorite pillowcase from that time…)

          1. Sherlock*

            It’s a couple smaller spots. I guess I’d say they’re between a dime and a quarter in size (which is kind of finger print size).

            If you’re at the sink, the towel rack is a few feet behind you, so it is possible they washed their face and then groped behind them and accidentally grabbed mine.

            Sorry about your favorite pillowcase. :(

            1. valentine*

              If your roommates aren’t fastidious about not sharing towels/clothing/footwear, they may (even accidentally) use your stuff and not want to quarrel about it.

              Experiment time: Put a few drops of each suspect substance on the towel and see what happens. It doesn’t mean that’s what happened before, but you’ll have a better idea. Your choices are to go back to white or keep it out of common areas.

    3. Anono-me*

      Some laundry detergents will bleach some fabric if applied directly to it. It’s easy to splash detergent onto still dry fabric when adding everything into the wash.

      I always make sure that my laundry detergent is added to the washer, then turn the water, then add the clothes, specifically to avoid this risk.

      1. Sherlock*

        I load everything in the washer, close the door, then put the detergent in a little drawer, and then turn it on, so no splashing from me either.

        Good to know that laundry detergents can bleach fabric if applied directly to it though. I don’t have separate stain remover, so if I get something on a shirt I was just putting some detergent on the stain with a little water and rubbing it in. Will make sure the shirt is soaked next time and use less detergent.

    4. Kathenus*

      I had something somewhat similar happen to me. Although the context was different, it was mysterious bleach spots on something. Pretty sure after some thought that the culprit was related to using sanitizing spray or wipes that have bleach in them and a few stray drops hit the item. Could have been from something like that or maybe there was a stray bit of bleach from a sanitizing cleaner or wipe that accidentally hit the towel.

      1. Kathenus*

        Meant that last sentence to say a stray bit of bleach from one of these on someone’s hand that hit the towel.

      2. Sherlock*

        I checked our sanitizing wipes (I get the generic brand from Target). Didn’t see bleach mentioned anywhere. Good suggestion though!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I just saw a product in the grocery store that claims it helps with garments where the colors ran- perhaps a product like this would undo some of the damage that has been done.

      1. Artemesia*

        Alas dye removers which remove dye quite well sometimes — once saved my favorite pair of jeans which had turned puce as a result of an errant sock — do not solve a bleaching problem. There isn’t something to remove — it has already removed the color.

        I did this to favorite jeans one when I wore them while cleaning and a little of the cleaning stuff with bleach got on them and I had pink spots on black jeans. The only fix was procion dye which is a pain to use, but if you have a yard and can do this outside, will restore black (or presumably other colors) to like new. I wouldn’t do it indoors as it is both toxic and a very effective dye.

        For a towel — well you know now that your towels are not going to be untouched or unused by your roommates so if you are squicked out by that, keep them in your room. Bummer.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          In-a-pinch repair trick for the black jeans: Sharpie. Tandy Leather told me it’s the same chemical in their leather dye. (I only needed a tiny bit for a craft project.)
          Come to think of it, there’s a chance of finding a dark green permanent marker too, worse thing that happens, you have it for labeling boxes at a future move.

    6. mreasy*

      All of my dark colored towels end up with mystery bleached spots and I don’t use any products that I think would cause it! (Nothing with benzoyl peroxide at all.) I have just accepted it as a dark colored towel thing and try to hang them up without the spots showing. This is not science-based though.

      1. pancakes*

        Could be poor quality control during the manufacturing process that leaves them not as colorfast as they’re meant to be.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Yes, many toothpastes have peroxide in them and that can cause bleach-like stains where the color is removed from towels or clothes if you get it on yourself.

    7. Jay*

      Have you, or any of your roomates, by any chance, recently switched toothpastes or any other oral hygiene products?
      Certain whitening toothpastes, mouthwashes, and whitening strips can bleach out some fabrics.
      Also, my second week in collage, I had nearly every single article of clothing I owned ruined because of something someone else spilled on the communal laundry folding table. If you touched something that your roommate touched, then touched your towel, or just put your towel down on something your roommate touched or dripped on, it might just transfer enough product second hand to do it, too.

      1. Artemesia*

        I learned to wash the counter before folding clothes the hard way too. You also need to make sure there isn’t bleach sloshed around on tops of machines or in machines in communal laundry rooms.

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      Whitening toothpaste will also bleach your towels. The tiniest bit of residue will do it. When my spouse switched toothpaste brands, every single one of my plum colored towels ended with pink spots from him wiping his “clean, just wet” hands and face.

    9. fposte*

      In addition to the suggestions already up there, do towels hang in the bathtub or near any surfaces that get cleaned? They might be picking up spray or splash from that.

    10. lapgiraffe*

      I hate to say it but the roommate is the culprit. Yes there are other things that are *possible* but that’s like saying zebras when you hear horses. I lived with a friend for a decade who used a BP wash and cream, and that is such a tell-tale stain/discoloration, 10 times out of 10 that was the cause. Unless you have bleach cleaning products then it’s the BP. It’s not to say that the roommate didn’t realize they were using the towel, accidentally grabbed it, or it’s such a mundane activity that they not even remember using it. I’d buy white towels moving forward while living with this one, it really sucks and your roomie should respect you/have boundaries, but policing her towel use would be incredibly difficult. Maybe install a drying rack or hook on the back of your bedroom door to keep it away from them?

    11. Lindsay*

      It’s definitely the benzoyl peroxide. I used it on my acne as a teen and I stained so many towels that way…it turns it kind of orange usually.

    12. RagingADHD*

      You mention these areas are spots between a dime or quarter size. That’s not grabbing or wiping. Nobody grabs a towel with wet hands and uses only their fingertips to touch it. If the spots are from hands or face being wiped, they will be streaks or larger smudges.

      Small spots with defined edges sound like droplets. Perhaps from a splash, or perhaps from squirting something out of a bottle that splutters.

      It might be your roommate’s product, but they probably never saw it and don’t even know it happened.

    13. Worked in IT forever*

      Toilet bowl cleaner, if spattered a bit, will leave bleach spots. Like on the pants you’re wearing while cleaning the toilet. Ask me how I know.

      My husband got bleach spots on a jacket while using a household cleaner on something outside.

      1. Jay*

        Oh, yeah, I hear you!
        Ever since ruining a decent pair of jeans doing something like that, I have a rule that all household cleaning is done in ratty shorts/sweats and tee shirts.

    14. two left feet*

      I’d also guess the roommate’s bp cleanser, but maybe a different way. If roommie rubs it on their face, then turns on/off the tap with their hands. If some got on the tap handle, then you touch the taps to turn on …. then off… then some bp got transferred to your fingers when you turned off the tap. Then you wipe on your towel. So, roommie didn’t use your towel, but bp got their anyway.

  32. Annie Oakley*

    Facial Skin Care help-

    I’ve been struggling with not-so-clear skin since my son (18 mo) was born (and maybe before, it’s hard to remember!). I’m hesitant to call it acne, as there is no redness/inflamed areas/obvious whiteheads.

    The issue areas are primarily my chin/jaw and under the eyes/alongside the nose. On my chin, I get small bumps that can be felt and I can see in the mirror. These can be squeezed to ‘pop’ like a pimple but just keep coming back. They do not look like a typical pimple and never painful. The area under my eyes is more like clogged pores…I can see the gunk, but washing alone doesn’t really cleanse it out.

    My husband says he thinks my face looks fine (and unless you were standing within kissing distance, you probably would too) but I miss my clear smooth skin and would love to hear recommendations from anyone with experience in similar issues!

    1. Holly the spa pro*

      hello! Licensed esthetician/massage therapist here. The areas you are describing and the fact that you saw most of the changes when you were pregnant or post natal, it may be hormonally related. If facials are an option for you, its really worthwhile to have someone who can really feel and look at your skin and make recommendations for treatments or products for homecare.
      I get those little white bumps on my chin as well and ive found that a light lactic serum has worked for me, it doesnt completely get rid of them but reduces and takes down the texture. (I use the mangosteen resurfacing serum from Eminence)

      Idk if you have food sensitivities at all that can also contribute to the things you are describing as a sort of inflammatory response. Sorry for the novel, hope that helps.

      1. Annie Oakley*

        Thank you! I apologize for being completely clueless…but for a facial would I be looking for a spa type place?

    2. Ryan Howard’s White Suit*

      I had an issue like that when my son stopped nursing. My hormones went nuts and I had painful cystic acne along my jaw. I started using oil to clean my face and it cleared everything up and I still use it (8 years later) with very good results. You can google combinations for different skin types, but the basic formula is an amount of castor oil mixed with an amount of regular oil. I have drier skin, so I use half castor oil and half avocado oil. Mix the two together and keep in a jar. When I go to wash my face at night I remove my eye makeup then take about a tsp of the mixture and rub it on my face, then take a washcloth put in the warmest water I can get and put it to my face for 10 seconds. Since I need it, after patting my face dry I apply a night cream, but if your face is not as dry you may not need anything on top of it.

      Good luck!

      1. Annie Oakley*

        Interesting! I would have thought that using oil seems would make things worse!

        It definitely could be due to hormones from weaning…I weaned him 5 months ago but haven’t quite dried up completely yet.

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      My pimples are directly related to my hormone stuff, amongst a few other things. If you’ve been nursing that would be my first guess. Also: my hormone levels took a good long while to not be wonky after pregnancy, which might also be true for weaning. And having a child changed my stress levels and sleep levels, too, all of which might play a role. Unfortunately I don’t have great advice for getting rid of them.

    4. Parenthetically*

      I double cleanse using a (clean every day) baby washcloth — rosehip oil followed by charcoal soap. Then an AHA, a hyalauronic acid serum, and my SPF day moisturizer in the morning or my tea tree night cream before bed! When I’m consistent with this, my skin is smooth and the chin/nose bumps are seriously diminished.

  33. Finger Sucking*

    Tips on helping a 3 yr old to stop sucking their fingers (only sucks at nap and nighttime)? Dentist wants them to stop ASAP as they’re teeth don’t close in the front and they have a cross bite which make chewing food more challenging. They are not old enough to understand/care that sucking their fingers is bad for them.

    I have been having them wear a glove to remind them not to suck, but they take it off after awhile. Has anyone used the icky nail polish with fingers? Not sure if it would work since the nails aren’t on the tongue. Any other suggestions?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      With the caveat that I don’t have kids and don’t know anything about kids and this is a total stab in the dark – masking tape to secure the gloves to long sleeves? I feel like I have read about someone who put tape over the fastening on a piece of clothing to keep a kid (who either was too young or otherwise didn’t have the faculties to understand why we keep our clothing on) from unfastening it. And I obviously am not recommending taping anything to kid skin!

      Similar vein – make a “nap shirt” by sewing mittens onto sleeves, and then kinda make a game out of it, part of the nap time routine? I think I’ve seen shirts with built in mittens for infants, at least, but I don’t know if they come in toddler sizes.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Does s/he have a stuff animal or other comforting thing to sleep with? This almost sounds like a self-comforting thing.

    3. Natalie*

      I might actually get a second opinion. Generally the ADA and pediatric dentists aren’t concerned with thumb/finger sucking at this age. The simple existence of bite issues doesn’t mean sucking is the cause. There’s also a pretty good chance they’ll stop on their own in the next year, so it might be worth having a talk with a dentist about that possibility. YMMV but I would want my children’s dentist to have a solid understanding of normal children’s behavior and fairly realistic expectations. There are enough people with dental anxiety in the world already.

      If you’re bound and determined to break them of the habit, I think you’ll have more luck helping them develop a replacement. Sucking is a self-soothing mechanism, it’s not going to work very well to just expect them to not need self-soothing anymore. Maybe something they can fidget with their fingers would work? Both my brother and I liked the silky edges on blankets, for example.

    4. Oliver Boliver Butt*

      We’ve had great success with the T-Guard for finger sucking on one kid and thumb sucking on another.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I wouldn’t go full punitive by depriving such a young child of a self-soothing mechanism. You can look into an alternative rather than just doing something to the fingers. They make necklaces for children to suck on that might have less effect on the teeth.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        In particular, look for sensory or stim necklaces made for kids or adults with autism. Not saying your child has autism but they are designed to meet oral self soothing needs so might work for your child.

    6. Esmeralda*

      They will not continue to suck their fingers forever.
      The baby teeth will eventually fall out.

      Please don’t put gross stuff on their fingers. My mom did that because I was a nail biter. I still bit my nails but it was gross, made me gag, and made me very sad. (My mom says she stopped when she saw my biting my nails, gagging, crying — and then sticking my finger back in my mouth to bite my nail.)

      1. brushandfloss*

        Some people continue thumb sucking to adulthood. Also the child could shed their primary teeth as young as 4-5 if they’re still sucking their thumb it can cause an openbite/cross-bite or overjet with their permanent teeth and require extensive orthodontia to correct.

        1. Natalie*

          So what? Both of those are pretty extreme outliers, and neither of them have happened yet. They’re certainly not a good reason to start forcing a 3yo to abandon totally developmentally normal 3yo behavior.

          1. brushandfloss*

            They are not outliers. And the habit is already causing problems and can lead to expensive and extensive treatment. Its easier and cheaper to prevent issues that to correct them. So unless you’re planning on paying for this treatment, let’s assume that the OP/dentist know what they’re talking about.

  34. Come On Eileen*

    I’ve been sweating at night, and it appears to be a known side effect of Lexapro (and many anti-depressants). I started taking Lexapro in January and it’s really helping my mental health, so I don’t want to stop, so I’m looking for ways to address the sweating (if there are any). It’s weird because I’m not hot at night at all. I wear very light PJs or none at all, have a light blanket, and keep the house cool or windows open. So I don’t think I need suggestions for how to keep cool. I’m also 46 and suspected it could be a perimenopause symptom, but when I stopped the meds for about a month the sweating stopped (and my mental health took a nosedive). So far my only solution has been to try Lume deodorant, which is billed as a deodorant for not just armpits but any part of your body that sweats and smells. I wouldn’t mind the sweat if I didn’t wake up smelly, but the smelly part is what bothers me. OK so – any ideas, or have any of you experienced this with antidepressants?

    1. Courageous cat*

      I have experienced this with Prozac, and it has always gone away over time. Additionally I have never smelled, just sweat a lot. Are your sheets very breathable? I have 100% linen sheets and that helps with regular sweat. Alternatively 100% cotton. Just make sure you’re not using any synthetic fibers. Do you shower before bed? That probably helps too.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        thank you! I have two favorite sets of sheets, one is bamboo and the other is probably cotton? Honestly not sure, I’ve had them forever. I generally don’t shower before bed but might start, as it sounds like that would help, plus its a nice calming ritual before bedtime. Thank you!

    2. A313*

      Interesting! I am on Effexor/venlafexine *for* my hot flashes. And it works. Maybe try a different antidepressant?

    3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I had this problem with sertraline (which I think is Zoloft?) and eventually I had to stop taking it because of this plus some other side effects. I have heard that sage tablets are supposed to help with excess sweating. I did try them at the time but I got fed up and tapered off my antidepressant at around the same time so I’m not sure how effective it was.

    4. curly sue*

      I had this with Trintellix, and it was awful – any benefits I saw from the antidepressant were totally negated by waking up three times a night in pools of sweat. It never went away, unfortunately, and I switched back to Wellbutrin.

    5. No Tribble At All*

      Having a fan going over your face? There’s also bed fans which go under your sheets– they’re expensive, but in an earlier open thread people were raving about them. bedfans-usa dot com.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        I looked into those bed fans a few weeks ago when they were mentioned here! Such a neat idea. I’m not sure it would help because, like I said, it doesn’t seem like I’m sweating because I’m hot.

    6. lapgiraffe*

      I used to sweat buckets on lexapro, honestly it was awful and my doc was always perplexed, told me “wasn’t a typical side effect” but it started within days of my starting the Rx, and when I eventually weaned off I was no longer the swampy sweat monster.

      I’d try a different SSRI, I wish I had sooner and not endured the sweats for as long as I did. I think lexapro helps a lot of people and very quickly, which is why docs are so quick to go to that drug, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t another one that can give you the same benefits without as many (or any!) side effects. Your quality of life matters, and the quality of your sleep matters as well!

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        Yes this! I had different bad side effects from Lexapro and I was hesitant to switch because it was so effective for my anxiety. Turns out Wellbutrin also worked well for me and didn’t give me side effects.

        1. Come On Eileen*

          Thank you both, I might talk with my doc about this. I have both anxiety and depression, and they tend to fluctuate in terms of which one is more active at any given time. Lexapro was billed as treating both and it really does help with both, which is why I’ve been hesitant to switch. I’ll think about it though, and chat with my doc.

        2. Come On Eileen*

          I keep hearing that Wellbutrin is good for depression but for many people can make anxiety worse. It sounds like that’s not been the case for you?

          1. Janet Pinkerton*

            It does not make my anxiety worse, no. I actually was on it for anxiety originally, then when I got depressed as well they doubled my dose and now it treats both. But I know friends for whom it worsens their anxiety. Isn’t mental health so fun?

          2. lapgiraffe*

            Just in case you have alerts or are coming back to check this late in the game, I also switched to Wellbutrin and have been very happy with it. For me general depression is more my issue with anxiety kicking up more situationally. I needed something to help push me past malaise and disconnected foggy brain-ness, and it really helped on that front.

            I’ll be honest that the lexapro felt stronger/was better at softening the edges of life. I even joke that a major friend breakup happened because post lexapro I just couldn’t deal with her crap anymore. There was an emotional dampening on lexapro that I don’t get on Wellbutrin (which is why I think it’s so good for anxiety) but I’m 1) not sweating unless it’s a normal sweating situation 2) much better on the depression/life engagement front 3) able to feel a wider range of emotions but not in an overwhelming way.

    7. Lemon curdle*

      I have sweating – not at night, but like you as a possible side effect of a med I’ve found useful – and I actually have another med that stops it.

      All meds can have side effects so it’s not crazy if you end up with another – if this one works for you it may be worth considering.

      Definitely see your doctor – night sweats should really be checked out.

  35. The Original K.*

    My father passed away very recently (not COVID-related).

    He was not a big fan of organized religion, so whatever we do for his memorial (which will be virtual; we may do something in person when the COVID risk has abated) should leave that out. He didn’t belong to a church anymore and hadn’t for ages. Do any of you have any suggestions for things to read at a memorial that aren’t religious? Poems, maybe? I’ve found a few poems but would welcome some more suggestions.

    And have any of you attended virtual memorials that you thought were well-done? Again, there won’t be any religion involved with this one. Thank you.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Sorry for your loss.

      A secular group I loosely belong to (which at least at some point, functioned as a support group for non-religious people/people who have just left religion) has been doing celebrations of life. I’ve been to two of those in the group. People basically take turns sharing their good memories of the deceased, with those closest to the deceased doing most of the talking (since they knew the person the most). Also, not sure if this will apply, but just throwing this out in case other ideas may be spun off of it – after my sons, my mom, and I came home from my dad’s funeral (dad practiced some Judaism, but wanted a non-religious funeral, the rest of us are Atheist), mom pulled out a package she’d brought, full of dad’s memorabilia like college transcripts, patents he’d gotten at work… passed each around and talked about it. She brought some photos of dad in his younger years, too. That turned out really well.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Coming here to compliment your suggestions and your mom’s idea! All better than mine, because your comment comes from lived (not theoretical) experience. Sharing your dad’s memorabilia allowed everyone to recollect their time with him. The main part of a funeral ought to be remembering the person who died and how they impacted the world and will be remembered. Religion is just a framework to help people know what to do at a stressful time.

      2. Sparrow*

        We did something similar when my grandfather died- a memorial just for family where we all sat in the living room, and everyone said spoke a short bit about their memories of him (8 grandchildren, 4 children, 3 children-in-law, my grandmother). My aunts also played the piano and sang some of his favorite songs, and read a short section from one of his favorite (non-religious) books. Our was small and pre-coivd, but you could easily Zoom other loved ones in.

        1. Ginger Sheep*

          Thank you for this text. It made me sob and it warmed my heart ; my grandfather, who worked in chemistry, is currently dying in the hospital and I now know what I am going to say at his funeral.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’m sorry for your loss.

      Quotations from people your father admired?
      Poetry is very personal but in addition to ones that discuss life and death you might find ones that discuss the passage of time, or human connections, or parent-child connections, or any interest or other aspect of your father that you want to remember.
      Are there lines from theater, film, or anything else that you find/your dad found meaningful?
      The Unitarians, Ethical Society, or various Humanist organizations may have texts online that approach life-cycle events with concern for the human impact and little or no reference to any deity. (No disrespect intended to any of these groups.) *Not* trying to sneak in religion here–just trying to help you find something. Maybe you could modify a religious text (edit out any references to deity or shared beliefs) and identify it as “adapted from ….?”.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My grandmother was anti-religion, so while we had a rabbi, he took that into account during the service. He quoted some Leonard Cohen songs and that was perfect. So remember that lyrics are poetry too– if there’s a meaningful song that reminds you of him, you can play it or read the lyrics.

    4. Bibliovore*

      I was at an on-line funeral this week and this poem was read.
      Each of us has a name
      given by God
      and given by our parents

      Each of us has a name
      given by our stature and our smile
      and given by what we wear

      Each of us has a name
      given by the mountains
      and given by our walls

      Each of us has a name
      given by the stars
      and given by our neighbors

      Each of us has a name
      given by our sins
      and given by our longing

      Each of us has a name
      given by our enemies
      and given by our love

      Each of us has a name
      given by our celebrations
      and given by our work

      Each of us has a name
      given by the seasons
      and given by our blindness

      Each of us has a name
      given by the sea
      and given by
      our death.
      (Ukraine, 1914–1984)

      1. Bibliovore*

        oh and I organized an on-line zoom celebration of life for my friend who died during these times. I emailed her friends and family who provided me with pictures of her from the time she was a college student to more recent occasions. I created a slide show to share with a song I knew she liked. We asked if people wanted to share to put it in the chat function and I would then they could unmute. I emailed a few people first so that in the beginning we would have people lined up.

    5. Elf*

      I very strongly recommend the song “To My Old Brown Earth” by Pete Seeger. It is the most beautiful (and atheist) death song I have ever heard, and Pete wrote it specifically because he wanted something to sing at funerals that actually expressed what he wanted to say.

      Another beautiful, nonreligious poem is “Elegy Before Death” by Edna St. Vincent Millay (I’m less certain that will feel right to you, but I love it)

    6. Merci Dee*

      I have found a great deal of comfort lately from the poem “Gone From My Sight”, bt Luther F. Beecher. I worked up a nice copy and gave it to my dad after my mother’s passing.

    7. CJM*

      Last year I went to my beloved aunt’s small memorial service. She was spiritual but not part of any organized religion. My cousin, a few of my aunt’s closest friends, and I all took turns sharing memories about my aunt and what made her so special. (My cousin and I spent lots of time preparing what we read that day, but most people spoke extemporaneously.) There were pictures of my aunt, and the refreshment was her favorite cake. I loved the personal feel of it all.

      This summer my husband and I virtually attended the funeral service of one of his high-school friends. The nicest part was when the daughter talked lovingly about her dad and shared personal stories.

      So for me, that’s the best part: sharing stories to honor a loved one’s memory.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

    8. WellRed*

      My deepest sympathy. I’m dealing with the same. Can you look to non-traditional poets? For example, my brother like the Doors and Jim Morrison has published poetry. We may just share a few anecdotes as well.

    9. Pamela Adams*

      With my mom- and this was well before Covid- we had a memorial service at the local senior center, where she had volunteered. One of her granddaughters made a slideshow of pictures. we had a table of physical pictures, favorite books, and awards. People spoke as they chose- my siblings and I served as general hosts and emcee.

  36. Bloop*

    Hello, we need some advice for apartments! End realize we are in a very fortunate situation where we have the ability to move. My partner just got a job and I am now able to work from home full time. We are moving to be closer to his job, and would like to upgrade to a 2 BR.

    We are moving to Denver, which is surprisingly still really hard to find a place (I thought people would be moving away or staying in place for the most part. Things go super quick!) our lease doesn’t end until Nov 3, so we still have some time I think. Our luck has been, we see a place we like, and it goes within an hour. We are trying to find a private landlord as that has been better for us than huge apartment complexes, but we’ve also ran into weird private landlords on our search (asking to write essays for them, putting in clauses for unannounced entering at any time)

    We are in between 3 scenarios.
    1. A condo with seemingly super nice landlords. It’s more dated and in a location that’s not walkable (NE Park Hill) but an easy drive to things. It’s also very affordable. Since working from home, I’ve really valued being able to walk to food or sights nearby.

    2. A big box apartment complex that is walkable to things but more expensive (by $400/month) and also super updated. It doesn’t have great reviews of management.

    3. The unknown?? Continue to wait and look around for more apartments as we are still 30+ days out?

    The only reason I’m hesitating is because #1 did seem to have genuinely nice landlords. Good landlords are worth their weight in gold right? But we don’t love the location or the apartment, but we could save more money with the price. We want to keep looking but are afraid we’ll lose these kind landlords. They are willing to be flexible for us, so maybe I can ask to put money down to hold it?

    Does anyone have advice in this situation? What would you do?

    1. Bloop*

      It’s also interesting because in previous pre COVID times, I think everyone would be like location is most important! But I still don’t feel comfortable going out to things yet, and things are not as open as they used to be. While #1 isn’t walkable to anything, a light rail is nearby and it’s a 8 minute drive to City Park. It’s just nice to take a walk to a coffee shop sometimes, or restaurants (like the Highlands area but HOT DAMN those go so fast. We’ve only got to see one place but that landlord had the strange enter anytime clause.)

      1. valentine*

        Take 2. The modernity and walkability are worth the price and the latter is doubly so: faster delivery!

    2. Venus*

      This doesn’t help with your decision between 1 and 2, but I have friends who used a realtor to find them a rental. They paid no fee, as the realtor was paid by the new landlord. I think this only works if you are a good renter, otherwise the landlord has no incentive to pay an added fee, but it seems relatively common in my city and has worked really well for a couple friends who rented houses from individuals rather than big companies. If you want to stay in the same place for more than a year then I would be careful about picking a good landlord.

      1. A313*

        I have also walked around neighborhoods where landlords just post a “for rent” sign. These are generally small-time landlords, and you see the outside of the building and its location before you decide to go further. A realtor can also be helpful if you don’t know an area as well.

      2. Bloop*

        We will look into a realtor! We have used an apartment locator but they only show huge complexes, so that is helpful to know.

    3. Hooray for options!*

      If it were me, I would wait. It sounds like neither is quite right. I know it’s hard to find “perfect” right now but these both sound *too* far from perfect if you know what I mean. Yes, a good landlord is important, but you are already uncomfortable with #1 and don’t even live there yet. Being able to walk is very important.

      It took me a long time to find my current apartment, I had to view a lot of others first and almost gave up and took one I really didn’t like, but when I walked into this one I knew right away it was the right one. Is it perfect? No. But it has most of what I wanted. I had to beat out 100 other applicants for it, but the stars lined up. They will for you, too.

    4. theguvnah*

      I loved to Denver about 18 months ago so I can’t speak to how COVID has changed the market, but I definitely had better luck waiting closer to my move date – the places and buildings i looked at a few months out weren’t wowing me and I ended up finding something and signing sight unseen (she kindly filmed herself walking through the place) about a month out and it was great. I had a flexible budget and was moving from NYC so i was definitely in a privileged spot, but all of this is to say don’t panic or rush because you have time.

      also are these private owner landlords or companies? getting in with a company is beneficial to having access to a bunch of listings across all their buildings maybe?

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        We relocated cross-country a few years ago, and I agree with this. We had to make a special trip 30 days before our move to secure an apartment, because the large property management companies that ran the bigger complexes all put apartments on the market at 30 days.

        Of course while we lived there they changed it to 60 days and it made buying our house a pain but that’s life.

      2. Bloop*

        Can I ask where you ended up moving to? As in a bigger complex or you found a private landlord? But that is great I’m glad it worked out for you! I think we are in a slump because it feels like nothing we have seen (besides one…which got snatched very quickly) yet has given us the feeling of “yes! We want to live here!” Maybe #1 but that’s only because the landlords seem so nice and the price is good.

        We have seen a mix of private and larger companies, and mostly find them through Zillow, Craigslist, and Apartments.com. I used to sift through individual websites but found most of them would post to Zillow, and going through each website was exhausting (x_x)

    5. Bex*

      I vote for #3! If you are going to be working from home, I think it’s worth holding out for a neighborhood that you really like, since you are going to be spending like 99% of your time there.

    6. lapgiraffe*

      1) I used a realtor with my last lease and the quality of apartment was much much higher than what I was finding on craigslist and such.

      2) I know in my city (Boston) things go quickly and it has always made a difference to book a day of visits and pull the trigger that day (if you find what you need). Obviously things are different in COVID times but I do know you can still make appointments and follow protocols.

      3) Your option number 1 doesn’t sound that bad. I also like to walk to places and since moving further out from the city center I miss that, but this year it’s been so nice that I live in such a residential neighborhood – less people out and about means I can go on long, leisurely walks and feel comfortable without a mask for most of it because there’s literally not a soul around until I hit a transit hub/active square. Allows for some fresh air in much needed fresh air times.

    7. Dan*

      Just an FYI on #2, from what is essentially a life long renter…

      On the whole, I don’t think online review sites for apartments are as useful as say yelp is for restaurants. I think it takes a lot of practice and experience to read between the lines. I’ve been in the same spot for several years, and sometimes I peruse online reviews for my place because, well I’m curious.

      And… there really aren’t that many reviews given the number of units, and the few I do read are about experiences that generally don’t match mine. Some reviews I read and think, “dang, if that was my experience, I’d be pissed too.” Some people have a random one-off bad experiences (say they have a problematic appliance or something that requires a bunch of service calls). I’ve had appliances go bad on me over the years, after having worked just fine for several. I could see how this thing going bad in my first year would leave me annoyed to the point where I’d leave a negative review because it required multiple service requests before replacement. My service requests have averaged less than one a year, and they generally get resolved promptly, so somebody spending too much time complaining about maintenance would leave me scratching my head.

      Some reviews I flat out don’t believe. There was one review that was complaining about some vehicle breakins at one point. I was like for real? I come and go at late hours of the night, and never have seen any evidence of broken glass or suspicious behavior. I travel for extended periods of time (like a month straight) and have done so multiple times without an issue.

      All in all, I’d pay very careful attention to the reviews, and look for patterns. If multiple people are complaining about maintenance being slow or incompetent, that tells you something. If repeated noise complaints to management don’t result in a resolution, that would tell you something too. If management doesn’t process rent checks on time and tries to ding you for it, I’d pay *very* close attention. Parking is the big thing. If people complain about that, assume it’s valid.

      1. Anonnington*

        I’ve noticed the same thing. Big apartment complexes usually have a lot of bad reviews online.

        My theory is that some people do this in an attempt to keep their rent low. It would make sense – keep the place from becoming too popular so the LL doesn’t have a reason to raise the rent.

        My other theory is that some people have really unrealistic expectations about housing. Maybe they grew up in a detached house and had a housekeeper, so they don’t know that pests happen, not everything will be completely brand new, etc.

        But, yeah, I would look for other ways to assess the situation there. Maybe you could talk to current tenants?

  37. Not Australian*

    Could do with some help/suggestions regarding my friend’s dog. The poor thing has developed what the vet is pretty certain is an anxiety-related skin condition – she’s red raw over about 70% of her body including the insides of her ears and constantly scratching. Vet has ruled out fleas or other external problems. She’s got some cream to apply, but that doesn’t seem to be having any effect. I wondered if there was a dog equivalent of Feliway that might soothe her anxieties (I’m a lifelong cat person so have no relevant experience of my own) and after Googling came up with Adaptil – has anyone used that, and can they please let me know how it went?

    Also, this is a young-ish dog who seems to need more exercise than she gets; she’s always full of energy, but the family routine only allows for short walks morning and evening. Their garden is tiny and with nowhere much to play. I’ve offered to go round in the middle of the day sometimes and take the dog out, which would also help me get exercise, and the dog really seems to like me which is a bonus. I’d take my other half with me as well, who is physically stronger than I am, just in case the dog is a bit of a handful. What do you think?

    I don’t want to interfere with something that really isn’t my problem to solve – but on the other hand if I can do something to make the dog more comfortable it might benefit to the family in general, and I’m very happy to contribute if I can. I’d really appreciate the views of experienced dog-owners before I blunder in!

    1. Bibliovore*

      I do know about this. My upstairs neighbor had a standard poodle. super high energy. I did a walk and play with it to shake its silly’s out when I came home from school. I would think that they would think this was a great idea!

    2. JKP*

      My parents had this problem, and it was the dog food. Their vet suggested switched to grain free dog food, and the scratching stopped.

      1. Natalie*

        This is bad blanket advice. There is a strong link between grain free diets and serious, often fatal heart conditions in dogs. And if the issue is an actual allergy or food intolerance, it’s usually a little more involved than just switching to some random boutique brand.

        1. JKP*

          It’s definitely something to ask the vet about, though. Depending on the breed, some breeds don’t tolerate grain well.

        2. Wehaf*

          That “strong link” is mostly based on a single study, which did not control for high legume content in some of the grain-free foods. A lot of researchers I’ve spoken with think it’s highly probable that the problem is not lack of grains, but excess legumes. A grain-free, low-legume diet should be fine. Alternatively, high quality dog foods with rice as the only grain tend to be very good for allergies.

          1. Natalie*

            The Tufts research – which is, you know, ongoing and publicized as opposed to nameless researchers you’ve spoken to – has been fairly clear that it’s not “just legumes” and that grain free causes problems. Nor is there any logical reason or research supported evidence for the idea that grains are generally bad for dogs. Dog food allergies are almost always the protein source. Hell, we’ve identified the genetic changes that allowed dogs to digest grains, something they’ve been eating from human tables scraps basically since the beginning of the domestication of dogs.

            Grain free dog food is a marketing fad, and has been from the beginning.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The one time I saw something similar to this it turned out to be mites in the hair follicles. Their body’s look red and there can be abrasions from scratching.

      I checked my lawn and my perennial bed and I saw mite damage there, too. A nursery person pointed out with an eye roll that they were different mites. But that still did not stop me from thinking about what the common factor could be.

      The vet I went to wanted to put my dog on pred. Well, my last dog that I had on pred, came at me in a viscous manner. No more pred in this house. I’m not going to deal with that stuff. I can’t remember what I did entirely- it involved garlic supplements, spraying the yard with mint soap from a hose end sprayer, washing the bedding and a few other things. Once I found the right group of activities, the itching stopped and the hair started growing in with in a few weeks.

    4. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I’m not a vet but I have a dog that is very itchy

      What works for him was changing his diet (fish based protein source) and medications specifically for itching (cytopoint injections and apoquel) He also has an anti microbial shampoo to prevent/treat sores from licking.

      If the dog has sores from scratching, then he should wear a cone until the sores heal

    5. Natalie*

      Bored dogs will develop all kinds of bad behaviors, which can include compulsive scratching. So I think your offer to walk the dog is a really nice one and could help.

      If they would be open to suggestions, you could also help them think of some mental enrichment for Fido. Physical exercise isn’t the only or even best way to tire a dog out! Feeding their regular dinner through a puzzle feeder, snuffle mat, or slow bowl, doing short training sessions, or trading one of those walks in for fetch makes them use their brain more and doesn’t take any more tome than a walk. It’s like the dog version of having hobbies.

      Med wise, they should ask their vet about apoquel (pills) or cytopoint (injection) for idiopathic itching.

      1. Not Australian*

        I didn’t know there were puzzle feeders for dogs – we have one for our cats! That’s definitely something I can try as well as the walking; thank you.

    6. Amy*

      Anxiety-induced skin issues are… possible, I guess. But definitely not the first thing I would jump to in a dog that is severely itchy with redness all over her body. As others have mentioned, Cytopoint or Apoquel would be a very good idea to start. These drugs don’t stop the cause of the skin irritation but do stop the severe itchy feeling by blocking the cellular signal to scratch. The dog will be so much more comfortable while they work on figuring out what is causing the issue, and by reducing the scratching they reduce the risk of secondary skin infections. If the dog already has ulcerated areas from biting or scratching then chlorhexidene mousse or shampoo can help.

      Often the best first step in trying to determine the root of the issue is a feeding trial. The dog should be fed either a hydrolyzed protein diet or novel protein diet (something the dog has never had before, like rabbit or venison) for a minimum of about 6-8 weeks. The prescription diets are typically the best for this, but there are OTC diets they can try (with the caveat that these have been found to have more contamination with other protein sources). During this feeding trial it’s crucial the dog ONLY eats this food – no table scraps, biscuits, flavored meds, etc. If the dog’s skin improves then you have your answer. I will add that it’s much less likely to be an allergy to grain than to a common protein such as dairy or beef, and as others have correctly mentioned, boutique grain-free diets are associated with dilated cardiomyopathy (heart disease) in dogs.

      There are other things than can cause itchy skin all over such as:
      – Fleas & Mites: Scabies is super itchy and transmissible to people, but can be pretty easily diagnosed with a skin scrape and cured with certain types of flea prevention. Demodex mites are more likely in puppies and usually not itchy.
      – Contact dermatitis: allergy to rugs, cleaning solutions, etc. But that’s unlikely to be all over, inside the ears, etc.
      – Atopic dermatitis/environmental allergies: this is a diagnosis of exclusion and can be treated with hyposensitization protocols (allergy shots), steroids, and/or Atopica

      To me, this dog sounds like she has food allergies or atopic dermatitis, but obviously I can’t diagnose her through the internet! They need to work with their vet. Maybe a different vet who’s willing to work on diagnosing the root cause.

      (Oh – regarding Adaptil. Some people find it helpful but overall it tends not to be as effective as Feliway is for cats. And it definitely wouldn’t be my first-line recommendation for an itchy dog. For anxiety it might help, but from the sounds of things, first I would recommend some of the enrichment activities Natalie suggested above.)

  38. Evergreen*

    How did people choose the names of their pets?

    When my family got my childhood dog there were complicated lists as my siblings and I all got to make suggestions and vote (and then we ended up choosing a name not on the lists at all) and I feel it seems many other people have much more straightforward approaches

    1. Michelle*

      Years ago, I kind of picked the theme of “scientific” for pet names and it has continued for all of my pets since adult-hood. I have had a green anole name Petri, another anole named Erlenmeyer, and two cats–Bernoulli (we called her Berni) and Antimony (shortened to Annie). Friends of ours had a cat name Schrodinger, which I thought was a hilarious name for a cat.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I also have a scientific theme, specifically female scientists and nerds.

        The best nerdy cat name ever is C Puss Puss.

        I want to name a future dog Bletchley Bark.

          1. Cat and dog fosterer*

            It has been decades and I still remember C Puss Puss, so it was also one of my more memorable conversations! There aren’t enough nerdy pun-lovers who name animals.

      2. Germank106*

        Our Mastiff is named Rosco P. Coltrane because of his lumbering walk and slow demeanor. That dog does nothing fast. We also live in the South so he fits right in. The little guy (Boston Terrier) is named Oscar because he’s always grouchy. Scarlett is the Cat. She is bossy, pushes the dogs around and turns into a real love bug when my Husband enters the room.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My dogs are both named after kick-ass literary women – Angua from Discworld and Alannah from the Lioness Quartet. They both have three-syllable first names and one-syllable middle names, which is coincidental – the other names on my “kickass literary women that start with A” list are two-syllable. Angua’s is Grace, because that was the only way she was going to have any, she’s a bit of a galumphy dog, and Alannah’s is Jane because that’s what just started popping out in a middle-naming scenario. :)

      Also, both my dogs and my husband’s cats all have rank/titles and way way too much name. The girls are Angua Grace Puppinsky-Rompanopolis, Lieutenant General of the Red Hound Army and High Ambassador to the Kitten Kingdom, and Alannah Jane Sleepyface Corporal Radar Wigglebottom the Froshus, Queen of the Carrot Mafia and Bane of All Flossiraptors Errywhere. His cats are Captain Kyna Whitepaws, SCOURGE OF LAND AND SEA, and Princess Kiara Scaredyfluff the Dark and Unseen.

      I am GOING to be putting a pirate costume on the Captain today for Talk Like A Pirate Day. She only has one eye.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        (We don’t actually use the cats’ names. They’re The Captain and The Princess. I usually have to stop and think what their actual names are, and I have no idea where my husband got the names.)

      2. Bibliovore*

        I really want you to name my dog. The first was Mary Margaret Kelly (call name Maggie) the second was Mary Katherine Kelly (call name Katie) What do you have for a 35 lb, furry Irish boy dog?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Without actually any thinking, I read your post and what came immediately to mind was Seamus O’Malley MacMulligan. I don’t even know. :)

    3. CJM*

      We get to know the pet a bit and then brainstorm names we like. Often there’s a family joke or some history with the pet that helps, and we wait for a name we all love. My favorite name among our many pets is Minkee. That’s from the Pink Panther character that Peter Sellers played in a crazy accent (he was trying to say “monkey”). My daughter’s new cat was named Milky for her markings and her love of all things dairy.

    4. Queer Earthling*

      For Percy, I wrote out a list of names when I applied to adopt him, which consisted of things I’d thought about for pets before, names of people I admired, words I liked, etc, bolded my favorites, and then practiced saying them out loud while looking at his picture. “Percy” was the name that felt right, and honestly, it suits him. (His full name is Percival Titus Farnsworth-Oates.) Percy’s humane society name was Cheetos and it just felt weird to say, plus he was young enough I didn’t think he’d care. He does not answer to it anymore, I’ve checked a few times.

      For our other cat, which my spouse had before Percy and I moved in, they just kept the name that the rescue had given him, Hennessey, because he answered to it and he was already a couple years old, and no one hated it. He seems to like it, although I think he thinks his real name is “*shakes bag of treats*” because that’s what he’s most likely to answer to. ;)

      One of the best tips I’ve heard is to imagine that your pet got out and you have to yell their name around your neighborhood. If the idea of yelling “T’Pol” or “Schnookums” or “Phil Collins Drum Solo” or whatever feels awkward, do not pick that name.

      1. Lifelong student*

        Yes- when I was a child I wanted to name our new cat Godfrey- don’t remember why. My Mom said she did not want to be yelling for God if the cat got out!

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My cats are Sophie and Parker. We named them after characters on Leverage. We picked the names out before we got them, but they both live up to their namesakes.

    6. Jessie*

      My dog was beautiful. So I called her Beautiful. But in our native language :) Simple :)

      She was a gorgeous blue eyed deaf Great Dane. She really was beautiful.

    7. Lcsa99*

      For our first cat together (he is all black, and was a kitten at the time) we wanted something that would be original, but related to something special to us. So we were first thinking about spices, or cookies since we bake a lot; we tossed around the idea or caramel because or his eye color. Eventually we got on the idea of character names. I have always loved Vincent Price so I just pulled up his IMDB page and skimmed the list of names until one stuck out. Gallico The Great made sense for him because being all black, he’s very good at making himself invisible.

      For our second cat we wanted to stick with the theme so we looked up Boris Karloff characters and liked the sound of Marlowe. What made that an even better match was the secondary connection to Philip Marlowe since we both love mysteries so it worked! And he really does seem to think he is a detective so we just tell everyone the Philip Marlowe connection. People normally guess Kit Marlowe.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      They make lists of suggested dog names. That is where I got my current dog’s name. I wanted a different first initial from the other dog names I had so I began by looking under those letters in the alphabetized lists.

    9. Lifelong student*

      We had a parrot named Merlin, a cat named Pywackit, a cat named Gremolkin. I was into wizards and witches long before HP.

    10. GoryDetails*

      I often use the names of fictional characters – Chiun (from the martial-arts/assassin/action-comedy series “The Destroyer”), Spike and Drusilla (from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), Raffles (from Hornung’s stories about the expert thief, a kind of dark-side Sherlock Holmes – Hornung was Conan Doyle’s brother in law)… Family members named cats after characters from “Howl’s Moving Castle” and the “Discworld” books.

      Other times the cat’s personality and/or fur suggested names – we named one Melancholy because the calico patterns on her face made her look sad.

      Sometimes the names stick and other times they get pushed aside by daily-use nicknames. Either way, the cats don’t seem to care {wry grin}.

    11. Merci Dee*

      When we got our cat from the shelter, his first family had two small children that decided to name him Billy. My daughter and I thought about changing his name after we got him, but “Billy” seems to suit him for some reason. I really can’t imagine any other name that would fit him as well. Granted, we have a whole slew if nicknames for him: Bubby (a deceased friend’s old nickname for her little brother before she could say his name), Furry Pants, Nosy Ass, Fuzzy Butt, Little Dude, Little Man, Our Good and Gracious Overlord, Jerk Face (when he’s being jerky, obviously).

      I got a copy of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats a few years ago, and I think it’s going to supply a lifetime’s worth of names for future companions.

    12. Cruciatus*

      I ridiculously agonize over pet names. My previous two cats were found on the side of the road. My mom said “DO NOT NAME THEM” so my sister and I named them quickly (they did end up staying with us, the best cats ever). I named mine after a minor league baseball player I had seen the night before (Jebediah (I found the name hilarious somehow, just so old fashioned), but she was called Jeb). Was it a weird choice? Probably, but she never minded. Now for the other cats that I purposely got, I waited forever to name them (I think up until her first vet appointment) and went with Alfie for one because she came into this house and decided it was hers (despite 2 other cats already living here), she was the alpha. Archer is because when he was a kitten, he arched his back to let you know he wanted to play now. (And it’s now 2 years since he’s been here, and Alfie still hates him–if anyone has any tips on that I’d be very happy to hear them!)

    13. Jay*

      Years ago I was working of a catfish farm in rural North Carolina.
      As happens every so often, stupid, ignorant people dump their dogs off when they don’t want them so “they can live on a nice farm”. Usually we had to call the pound/shelter/humane society. Unless it was a genuinely valuable breed (which happened a time or two) and someone actually wants them, or they would run off and join one of the ferrel packs roaming the woods.
      Well, two of these dogs made permanent homes on the farm.
      One was an absolutely adorable Britney Spaniel and the other, a Boxer, at the time and place a highly valuable breed that made both excellent pets for young children and good watchdogs for rural properties.
      We were hanging around the trailer we used as a break room one afternoon at lunch, discussing what to call the Spaniel. The manager, a devout Mennonite, started suggesting all the names of celebrities that he knew. This consisted of the couple he saw mentioned on the headlines of tabloids papers in the checkout line at the Piggly Wiggly from time to time. We mostly nodded and ahemmed aimlessly, until he came to Opra. Well, José, one of the other hands, thought he said Okra, the vegetable. José was one of the mildest, least excitable men I have ever known. Except for one thing. Okra. The man hated Okra with a holy passion. And, of course, his wife loved it. It was her favorite food in the world. So, during the spring and summer growing seasons, when it was everywhere, poor José lived his life in a kind of Okra panic, expecting his wife to spring it on him with every meal, snack, or any other time she could. So, hearing the name of the dreaded vegetable, he practically jumps out of his skin, cursing loudly in Spanish, so our manager, the Mennonite, who had Views on strong language, would not get mad at him.
      From that day on, our little Britney Spaniel was know as Okra.

    14. TX Lizard*

      My black cat was named Sid after “Six Dinner Sid”, the black cat who lived in an un-neighborly neighborhood and ate dinner at every house (with no one the wiser, since no one talked to their neighbors). Our cat was originally a stray that was being fed by several houses, so it seemed to perfect to even consider other names!

    15. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I knew the names I wanted for our eventual two cats years before we ever got them. Then when we saw them at the shelter, their personalities matched the names well. We both love electronic music, so they are named after two key songwriters of the era – Martin for Martin Gore and Midge for Midge Ure (even though shes a lady – I also loved the name Midge Klump in the Archie comics I read as a kid, so it was a combination of the two).

      They don’t sound too out of line when I yell out the backdoor for them – sometimes I wonder if their buddy Freddie from next door was named for Freddie Mercury…

    16. silverpie*

      We’ve had all kinds. Our most recent batches were:
      Waffles Pe‘elua† and Angel Jessica†: Both first-named for fur-patterns (Waffles’s belly looked like a waffle-iron, and Angel had a ring on her tail that looked like a halo on the wrong end). The middle names are the Hawaiian for tabby (literally caterpillar), since I’d been in Hawai‘i when she came home) and for Jessica Alba (/Dark Angel/).

      Jack Ogier: Jack was his shelter name, and we never thought of better. Ogier is the name of the *jack* of clubs in French playing-card decks.

      Leia Athena† and Luke Hector: The first names are of course from Star Wars—the vet’s daughter found them curled up together with no mother around. The middle names continue the theme from Jack (queen of spades and jack of diamonds).

      Panthera Elvira: For the first name, mom had picked out the short form Pan, just one she’d always liked. I expanded it to the Latin name for the genus of big (roaring) cats. The middle name was because she was Halloween-colored and had probably been born in October.

    17. frystavirki*

      Suki was named after Sookie from Gilmore Girls since that was the show my mom and 12-year-old me watched most often back when we adopted her in 2006. We didn’t know how the character spelled her name at the time, but I liked this way better anyway. It was more fun to tell her I loved her in Japanese.
      Luna is named Luna because she has a big white star on her chest. I was trying to come up with good star-related names, and my mom disallowed me from naming her Stella, because she knew my dad would do the whole “STELLAAAAA” yell constantly, from, I think, Streetcar Named Desire? So I went with Luna. It’s a pretty common dog name, so we have a dog I stubbornly refer to as Other Luna at the park. It’s easy to come up with ten million nicknames for her, though.
      Another childhood dog was named Hobbes, not after the philosopher but after the tiger from Calvin and Hobbes, mostly because he liked to sleep all day.
      Usually we go off personality and appearance, or pick out a character name that we like.

    18. Jackalope*

      I named my two most recent cats after characters in a book I liked. It suits them (and they both know their names, and frequently come when they’re called!), plus I can always tell if someone else has the same brand of nerd as I do based on whether they make confused faces when hearing their names or light up and start jabbering away about the book series.

    19. ...*

      I just randomly pick the name when I see them, it takes me like 2 minutes. ‘Oh you look like a Judy or Mochi’ lol

    20. RussianInTexas*

      I got orange fluffy twin male cats from the shelter. Their shelter names were crappy so renaming was in order. Was going with a “set” names, asked people for suggestions.
      Ended up with Fred and George, and it just fits them perfectly. Georgie Poo and Freddy Spaghetti, lol.
      Old kitty was named Smoke, she was all grey.
      Do, no system really?

    21. Generic Name*

      I named the first cat I had as an adult Elaine because I had just read the Mists of Avalon and named her after Elaine of Astolat. It was not a good name for her because she was the farthest thing from a lovely cat (there’s an old poem about her). My other pets I named based on their physical characteristics or I let my son name them. Only once did I keep the “shelter name”, because the name just fit.

    22. Jaid*

      I was reading Dante’s Inferno, so I called the girl Bella and then when I got the boy, I called him Dante.

    23. Chaordic One*

      When I picked a puppy of my own it was a Scottish breed and I named him after a recurring character from a popular 1960s sitcom whom I thought was Scottish. It turned out the character was English, not Scottish, but the name stuck on the dog. After that, I was sort of gifted a dog from a relative who could no longer care for it. That dog already had a name that I didn’t like, so I changed it to a similar-sounding name which was shared with a popular classic cartoon character. The new name was close enough to his old name so he still came when called.

      I once read an article about hipsters who named their dogs after obscure bay area poets, which I thought was pretty neat. If I ever get another dog I’m thinking of naming him or her after a notorious author or maybe a 1980s new wave pop singer.

    24. Loulou*

      I named my dog Atticus Finch (often shortened to Atti) because the book and character resonated with me from the moment I read it in school years ago.

    25. NoMercy*

      My last 2 cats were named after Muppets. Floyd, the bass player for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem was a Maine Coon, and Sam (the Eagle) is a tuxedo. I would like the next one to be Dr. Bob but we’ll see if he or she suits it.

    26. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My childhood dog, we didn’t like the name she came with. (Second owners, so an older puppy.) Because it was Christmas and I was a kid, the dog’s name became Noelle. Years later I learned that her original name “Nipperkin” had nothing to do with nipping people, and everything to do with an archaic measure for a tiny amount of beer. That made sense, because she had been the runt of the litter.
      One thing I have seen in other people’s pets. The ones named after fiction bad guys had some difficult personalities…not sure whether the names came first or were picked to match. Loki was an escape artist. Grendel the cat tended to bite people.

  39. Bibliovore*

    For those who have been following, about a month ago on the weekend thread I posted about the puppy that we have waited years for was at a breeder a few states away.

    With Covid19 I was twisting myself all out of shape to figure out how to make this happen. I am at high risk and haven’t been out of the house except for essential dr. stuff since March. Very fortunate to work-from-home for the foreseeable future. Have one ancient Bijon rescue in the house.

    I had resigned myself that this wasn’t meant to be. sigh.

    This week the breeder called. She said she would be traveling to my state to visit her mother!
    Yes, I will be getting a puppy near the end of October.
    It has been 25 years since we have had a puppy. Please help.
    We will be crate training- does anyone have a recommendation for a brand or style of portable crate?
    What you wished someone had told you about raising a puppy?
    Favorite book or video?
    High interest treats for training?
    Favorite toy?
    Anything else?
    It most likely will be a boy dog.

    (full disclosure its been a hard week besides, flare in the chronic pain stuff, a funeral, RBG, 2020 sucks- so grateful to connect with the AAM community on-line)

    1. Jessie*

      What you wished someone had told you about raising a puppy?

      Hide your shoes! And anything that is precious while they are teething. Also sometimes they will go after the furniture, so be careful.
      Make rules from the beginning. I didn’t mind my dog sitting on my furniture and my bed. But if you don’t like that, make it very clear from the beginning, so they won’t get confused. Good luck! Dogs are the best :)

    2. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I am so happy for you!! That is such great news.

      What are you looking for with a portable crate? I use metal ones that fold up and it really doesn’t matter other than size, as the dog will be more likely to toilet in the crate if it’s too big. But you can mitigate by taking them out often, which you should do anyway when house-training in the first month or so. I use old towels in the crate until they can be trusted not to make a mess, then I put in a bed.

      For high value treats I cook a chicken and rip it up into pieces for training. It works better than anything from a store and is healthy. I don’t bother with my dog who will eat anything, but chicken is reliable for fosters.

      Victoria Coren (It’s me or the Dog) has good videos on Youtube for training. She tends to work with problem dogs, yet her techniques are based in positive-reinforcement and work well with all types. I have a friend who was taught by a very rigid trainer that he should never pick up his small dog, because it reinforces bad dynamics. That always seemed wrong to me, and another trainer later said that dogs can be picked up, and let on the couch and bed, but only if they do something first like sit or lay down. A simple request to ask permission, and I do the same with food. That’s the one key thing that I do with puppies, is I make them sit for their food and I keep picking it up until they sit still as I put the food down (so I hold the food dish until they sit and then I start to lower it. If they stand up again then I bring it back up. The first time takes 15-30 minutes but they learn quickly and they end up being dogs that don’t jump up). After a few weeks I make them wait until I give a release command. Making them sit to wait, and house-training, and socialising with objects (different flooring, toys, etc) is all I focus on in the first couple weeks. Then I intentionally introduce them to more people and other dogs. At first I walk them and say hello to neighbors if they are nearby, but I only make an effort to meet dogs and people that I trust later.

    3. achoo*

      Congratulations! I would say the most important general words of wisdom:
      1) Puppies are great because they are blank slates. They don’t have trauma or histories that need to be unpacked and worked on. Puppies are terrible because they are blank slates. They don’t know what is right or wrong, so don’t ever think he’s doing something to ‘get back’ at you or because he’s ‘aggressive.’ Be kind, be consistent, and training will happen.
      1a) All the time you pour into a puppy will pay off down the road- so remember the days are long but the years are short. You’ll have to devote a ton of time and energy to your puppy at the start but it eases over time.
      2) You have work, friends, family, outside interests. All your dog has is you. It’s frustrating when you finally get some down time and the dog wants attention- but take a deep breath and turn off the tv/computer/etc and go play with your pup. It’s unfair to expect them to sleep/chill for 23 hours a day.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I’m only sort of joking but my plan is to spend so much time training the dog that I get called on the carpet at work.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Yes, set rules, definitely. You can back off later if a rule is not necessary. It’s really hard to start the rule later though.
      Handle the pup a lot- especially paws and teeth.
      It will chew on you, because of teething. Have something handy to stuff in it’s mouth as a redirect so you aren’t constantly scolding. That will eventually stop, of course.
      I am a fan of spritzers of water. I never aim for the face/ears. I aim for legs or back. It’s enough. I keep spritzer by the door so they are handy if he gets out the door on me.

      I got bit when I was 5. I reached into the dog dish to add more food. Teach your pup that it is normal to reach into his dish. Praise him, add a treat and give the dish back.
      Matter of fact, whatever you show him as normal now, he will just accept. I take my pups in the bathroom with me and teach them to wait and not touch anything. This is prep for using a public restroom together. Think about what you would like to do/ need to do with him and what he will need to know.

      Name activities so they eventually learn the expected behavior for that activity- Bed time, ride, walk etc.

      Pups have to pee after they do anything – eat, sleep, play, walk , they have to go pee. Once they get a bit bigger that slows down a lot. My dogs eventually learn to wait until after it stops raining, ha!

    5. pancakes*

      I remember you posting about this — that’s great news! It’s been a long time since I had a puppy but he loved Nylabones for teething.

    6. MadMaddy86*

      I Just Got a Puppy, What Do I Do? by Mordecai Siegal was the best when my family had a chesapeake bay retriever puppy growing up ( I was 14 at the time)

      Definitely set rules and anyone in the house (including guests) HAS to be consistent in following. it does no good if you decide that you do not want to feed human food to your dog from the table (aka teach it to beg ALL THE TIME) but no one else in the house follow suit. This will confuse the dog and then ultimately will just set the dog up for constant yelling at by you which is not fair to the dog or you. Consistency is key.

      From day one make sure to pet the dog and put your hands in their bowl while it is eating – to teach it NOT to be food terrotorial. Plus if you ever have little kids over while it is eating you wont have to worry about them getting growled at or bitten.

      Make sure to constantly touch them, their paws, their tails a lot so that they are not overly caustious and protective.

      Make sure to take them with you in the car as much as possible (even if you are just running to get one thing or going through the drive through) this will help ensure that they do not get car sick. My neighbors never took their dog woth them in the car unless they had to and when they took a road trip their dog got so car sick it was a complete disaster.

      Socialize and not just with dogs but adults, kids etc.

      Come up with command words and stick with them. if you say stay and your spouse says wait it is going to be very difficult for everyone training wise.

      Decide before the dog arrives if they are going to sleep with you and stick to it if they are not because a puppy cries the first few nights and it is HEARTBREAKING.

    7. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      So I have never raised a puppy, but I did train a “problem” rescue dog, and one thing that worked great for us was mealtime walks with hand feeding. Basically, at every mealtime we went on a walk and when he would heel or sit at a corner or obey basic instructions he would get praise and some of his kibble from my hand. If there was kibble left over after the walk, we practiced more commands in the kitchen until it was gone, and he enjoyed learning commands very much in that situation. It was so great for bonding and positive reinforcement (and in his case building trust to break through anxiety and bad habits), and I would recommend it to basically anyone. You have to feed your dog regardless, why not make it a time that builds your relationship?

    8. Alaska_Blue*

      We used “The Puppy Primer” book by Brenda K. Scidmore and Patricia McConnell. Positive and helpful and upbeat. We also used a “Snuggle Puppy” during the night as we had our puppy sleep in a kennel in our bedroom. The snuggle puppy was so helpful as he was very distressed after leaving his littermates and learning to sleep alone. We used it until the batteries went dead. We adopted our puppy in March. My parents just purchased a golden retriever puppy and we passed the snuggle puppy along to them (with new batteries) and their puppy is sleeping well with it too.

      Puppies are wonderful, it’s so fun to see them learn and figure out the world. Puppies are work, because they have so much to learn. But they are great for getting a body outside and moving and we’re so glad we have our guy.

    9. Generic Name*

      Congrats! I love how sometimes things just fall into place. Sounds like it was meant to be. :)

      Best puppy advice? Anything you let them do now, they will continue to do for the rest of their lives (jumping up, begging for scraps at the table, etc). Get used to saying “no” a thousand times a day. Have a family discussion about whether or not to let the dog on the furniture. If it’s no, then everyone has to enforce it. Behavior you reward will be repeated (and remember that even just attention from you can be considered a reward to a dog).

    10. Me*

      I typed a long reply that got eaten.

      Several folks have mentioned paws and touching. Super important if you want to clip nails. If you have a large breed you might have to do that anyway (no one around here clips a dog over 85 lbs).

      We took a basic puppy training class at petco. It was fine for really basic stuff.

      We are bored empty nesters and we wanted a good canine citizen so we ended up hiring a local trainer for one on one work.

      He helped us with crate training. Literally took him 5 minutes to get our dog to willingly go in the kennel. Our dog (now 90 lbs, lol) is very treat motivates. String cheese is a fav. For so many things we’ve gotten him to do, it’s basically walk to object. If he touches it with his nose, he gets a treat. In the case of the kennel, if he stuck his head in, he got a treat. If he walked in and out, treat. Now we say kennel and he runs to the room and puts himself in the kennel.

      He has an elevated platform/mesh bed in the dining room. When we sit at the table for a meal, he immediately heads to the bed, and stays there the entire time. Occasionally he’ll get a piece of string cheese (maybe one or two, depending on how long the meal is. Sometimes nothing).

      When someone comes to the door, he barks. Then he goes to his bed, lays down and woofs quietly. I can open the door and get a package, or talk to someone, while he lays on his bed.

      When I have him heel, he glued himself to my left side. If he’s coming from in front of me, he slips around on my left and sits down. I can turn left or right, backwards or forwards with him by my side. I can tell him down as we walk and he lays down while I walk away until I say heel and then he’s by my side again. He learned how to turn by putting his front paws on a pot in the floor, bottom of pot facing up. Took him under 10 minutes to figure it out. Months later, I can put a pot down on the ground and he immediately puts his paws on it, waiting for the cue to go one way or another. Food got him there but he generally doesn’t need food for motivation any more, unless we are adding a new trick.

      Totally worth the investment to train him (really, us). He’s my best buddy. Or he’s my dh’s best buddy.

    11. Tea and Sympathy*

      Cat person here so no advice, but after all the thought you put into trying to make this seemingly impossible trip, I’m so happy to hear that it worked out this way for you! Enjoy your puppy.

    12. Anonnington*

      The big “surprise” about puppies is that they remain puppies for about a year after they’re full grown and that can be the hardest time in terms of “parenting.”

      Little puppies teeth with puppy teeth and need help with house training. Bigger puppies can go through a biting phase, a jumping phase, a testing the rules phase. They can be demanding to deal with. This is why so many 1 – 2 year old dogs end up homeless; people don’t realize that the jumping, biting maniac is being a normal adolescent dog and that a lot of them go through this. Even if they’re well trained. It’s because they’re “teenagers.”

      Just be patient, be consistent with training, all the obvious stuff. And be a good friend to the dog. In contrast to what’s popular to say these days, they really do understand kindness and friendship. The kinder you are, the more they respect you.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A long-ago housemate grew up with big, mouthy dogs. Her advice to someone whose puppy was nipping was to train it how hard is too hard the same way older dogs do–if it’s hard enough to hurt or scratch, yelp and turn away. Don’t play for a while. That for a puppy is very effective consequence.

  40. Bibliovore*

    oh and I organized an on-line zoom celebration of life for my friend who died during these times. I emailed her friends and family who provided me with pictures of her from the time she was a college student to more recent occasions. I created a slide show to share with a song I knew she liked. We asked if people wanted to share to put it in the chat function and I would then they could unmute. I emailed a few people first so that in the beginning we would have people lined up.

  41. Reality Check*

    Question for vegans: I want to switch to vegan but am not sure how to begin. I’m thinking I should make the change gradually as this would be such a major lifestyle change. Does anyone have any advice? Website recommendations? Also, I’m allergic to soy and am prone to hypoglycemia, so avoiding soy and keeping my blood sugar stable are priorities for me.

    1. nep*

      Vegan here.* I think the transition will depend a good bit on what you’re currently eating regularly.
      (Curious–what’s your reason for wanting to go vegan, if you care to share?)
      I know there are a lot of sites out there that can be helpful; others who transitioned recently might have some good suggestions. I like a lot of things I see from nutriplanet.
      Do you like beans? They can be your best friend. So versatile and great for you.
      And look into amaranth, if you’re not already familiar with it. (Quinoa is great nutritionally, also–I love the taste but it causes bloating and pain for me.) I have found that amaranth causes no problems, and it’s a great option…versatile. Sweet or savory.
      I would just say you might want to look into what supplements you might want to take–I take B-12, lysine, and a high-quality *fish oil capsule (I know–the last not vegan, but I have had great results from using it and I’ve decided to stick w it.)
      I look forward to reading others’ comments here.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Thanks for the tip about amaranth – I have similar problems with quinoa and it frustrates me to see many yummy recipes that all require… quinoa. I thought it was just me!

    2. NeonFireworks*

      Hi! Almost vegan here, for several unrelated reasons.

      Protein is going to be the toughest thing to keep up with, at a guess. Nuts, beans, pea protein, maybe oats, and/or supplements, depending on what you like. I get about 20 g from a protein bar every day, which is about half of what I need. You’ll have to look to get soy-free ones, but they’re out there.

      If you’re introducing ingredients you haven’t used before, take them one at a time in case your digestive system says no (like nep, I can’t manage quinoa).

      If you like cereal, try all the alternative milks. They all taste/act differently. I’ve settled on rice milk, but one of the brands I can get is much better than the other.

      Some pretend meats are delicious, but you usually have to look carefully for them in the freezer section of the supermarket. Health food stores will bring in additional nifty things, and may have good protein supplement options. There are a lot of weird snacks out there, and being adventurous with these goes a long way (I did not get along with tiger nuts, but I do love kale chips!).

      If you’re trying to be very careful even about subtle things, then there a few common ingredients that are quietly sourced from animals (casein is dairy, gelatin is animal collagen, carmine/cochineal is from bugs), or are ambiguous (lactic acid, unless specified as “non dairy”).

      1. nep*

        Great point–agree important to introduce new things little by little.
        I don’t do any of the fake meats/’cheese,’ but I was amazed when I did Shipt shopping for a while pre-COVID just how many vegan options there are as far as meat-like and cheese-like things. I keep away from overly processed stuff, though, so I’ve never gone for any of those products.
        Re bars–when I am eating bars (I go back and forth), I like larabar because few ingredients. I really like their bars w added protein–it’s plant-based protein.

        1. nep*

          (The non-vegan supplement I’m taking notwithstanding, the last non-vegan thing I ate regularly was sardines…)

    3. Red haired runner*

      Go at it gradually! Don’t throw out non vegan food in your cupboards, just use it up. Canned beans are a great base for quick and hearty dinners.
      Also I would recommend tracking your macro nutrients while you transition your diet to make sure you are getting enough protein. There are several apps that help with this.

    4. Lena Clare*

      Agree with not throwing out the non vegan things. Just use them up and replace gradually.
      I was already vegetarian, then I gave up milk first then eggs (this was hard), then other dairy products including cheese.

      I thought I’d miss cheese, I don’t really. But I miss buying cakes. I can make them, but I don’t always feel like it.

      You could try making meals vegan – try breakfasts first because they’re easier, then look at meals for the evening, snacks you can try (I like crisps and unfortunately so many have got milk powder in, WHY?!), and stuff for lunch.
      It helps to be prepared. I don’t get it right all the time. And sometimes I don’t feel like it. Last week I ate tiramisu because I really wanted to.

      I didn’t use a blog or website, I used cookbooks. The ones I like are Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Miskowitz, Dirty Vegan 2 by Matt Pritchard, and Jackfruit & Blue Ginger by Sasha Gill. But I had a lot of fun looking through others. The 15 Minute Vegan by Katy Beskow has the best waffles I’ve ever tasted.

      Katy Beskow and Sasha Gill both have blogs.
      Have fun!

      1. Reality Check*

        Awesome, thank you. I am going to do this one thing at a time, starting with breakfasts and snacks. Someone asked why I’m doing this – for health reasons primarily. I’m in my late 40s, cholesterol is too high, blood pressure too high and I’m about 20 lbs overweight. I’m like NOPE! I need to undo some self inflicted damage & I’ve heard the vegan diet can bring about some great results. Will definitely take notes from the comments above & check out the cook books.

        1. Lena Clare*

          I’m with you on the health reasons!
          Good luck with it.

          I also take EPA/DPA supplements (vegan omega-3, 6, or 9, I can never remember which) and vegan vitamin D.
          If you’re a woman, Vegan for Her by Virginia Messina is really good. It was recommended to me on this forum here by Emma!

        2. NeonFireworks*

          For the record, just one data point, but the point where I lost about 40 lbs without trying (and started feeling a lot better, which is the important thing) was in the middle of my almost-vegan years when I cut way, way back on wheat (not celiac, but problems with FODMAP carbohydrates). I talked it through with my doctor, and she said this is common. It’s a really restrictive step, though, and I don’t know if it would be the right call for everyone.

        3. Runaway Shinobi*

          Would you consider other approaches? I’ve used 5:2 fasting for about five years now. Five days a week I eat normally; on the other 2 days, I have about 400 calories in one meal in the evening. It takes a few weeks to get used to, but you also begin to recognise that being hungry isn’t the end of the world. You don’t have to give up anything, just restrict yourself on 2 days. And you start to figure out where all the calories are and make switches on normal days. For instance, those recipes that start with 2 tbs of oil are just as good with 1 tsp. It’s also supposed to be good for reducing blood pressure and cholesterol. I’m vegetarian and manage well on it and it stops me eating all carbs all the time!

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I would also suggest Cookie & Kate – her recipes are all vegetarian, but she has a TON of adaptations listed at the end for how to make it vegan, dairy free, etc. A really good starting resource and all of her recipes come out on point. I am moving more towards plant-only and made her vegan mac and cheese the other week and it was so, so easy to make up the cashew cheese.

    5. Jay*

      I actually went full Vegan for a full two years for health reasons. I will likely will again once all this mess ends.
      I learned one very important lesson:
      When looking for excellent Vegan/Vegetarian foods, look for groups of people who have a long tradition of enjoying their food, but, for whatever reason (seasons, economics, culture) have large stretches of time where meat is scarce or unavailable.
      Your average elderly Italian or Indian grandmother could take a bucket full of random weeds you found in a roadside ditch and create something that would make a 3 Michelin Star chef weep with joy.
      Old fashioned Italian, Indian, some French, even a very few traditional English (although those tend to be better for making something magical out of meat scraps) dishes can be readily repurposed for Vegan/Vegetarian eating.
      Hope this helps.

      1. university minion*

        For Indian food, check out vegrecipesofindia.com
        Everything I’ve made from the site has been awesome, and they’re written so that even an Anglo like me can succeed.

      2. nep*

        Your average elderly Italian or Indian grandmother could take a bucket full of random weeds you found in a roadside ditch and create something that would make a 3 Michelin Star chef weep with joy.
        Love this.

        1. Jay*

          My whole outlook on Vegetarianism and Veganism changed when I had a realisation one day:
          That Eggplant Parmigiana the way my grandmother made it was a vegetarian food. And with a few modifications it could be a vegan food. MOST pasta dishes were, as well.
          It changed again when I watched a food show on (I think) the Travel Chanel staring Anthony Bordain. The man is a well known meat snob. This was a trip to India. And the whole time he spent raving about how Indian food was the only vegetarian food in the world worth eating. The very next day I went out to our local Indian place and had my mind blown.

          1. Parenthetically*

            I LOVE that episode of Bourdain and reflect on it often, how paradigm-shifting it was for him to eat vegetarian food cooked with such a range of techniques and with obvious joy and SO MUCH FLAVOR. I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, but I think India would be the easiest place on earth to be one.

    6. Doctor is In*

      Read “How Not to Die”. 1st third is all the health conditions “cured” by vegain diet; middle third is how to do it- breakdown of what kinds of proteins and nutrients you need, and what foods have them, and how to gradually implement the changes; last third is references. So it looks like a huge book but it is easy to read. Vegan about 4 years here.

      1. I take tea*

        I like Cheap Lazy Vegan on YouTube, she’s fun and has a lot of good recipes, nothing too fancy.

        Nutritional yeast is a good friend if you are a cheese person. Cheap Lazy Vegan has a good recipe for vegan parmesan with that and cashew and some spices. I roast the nuts a little before, makes the taste deeper.

        A little warning, when you’ve done vegan for a while your body adapts and you can get violently sick from meat or dairy. I’ve never had a problem with lactose before, but when I ate a dairy ice cream this summer I was on the loo for two hours.

        Good luck!

    7. Jaid*

      My girlfriend started ordering from Daily Harvest and loves their bowls and smoothies. They do the prep, you heat and eat. She’s diabetic and since doing this, her levels have gone down. Keep in mind that she still eats meat for dinner, but gets inspired now to make that healthier.

      Best wishes!

  42. nep*

    Poshers / online resellers: Seeking advice on pricing a jacket. I sell on Poshmark. It’s a brand name that in some cases can be worth a lot of money, but is often ‘average.’ (Giorgio Armani…you can find some things for $49, some for $4,900…and much more.) Usually I can find the exact piece in a search and get an idea of value, but for the life of me can’t find this one. I found the jacket at a thrift store that generally has its higher-end things in a separate section and priced accordingly; this wasn’t there, and I think they would have known if it was worth a lot. I’m not looking to make a killing, but I also don’t want to short myself by offering it for far less than it’s worth. If it’s worth a good bit, I’d like to bring in that profit. Suggestions?

    1. nep*

      I do see the differences in price point and target for Giorgio Armani, Armani Exchange, and Emporio Armani. This is Giorgio Armani (A Milano Borgonuovo 21).

    2. theguvnah*

      So you bought something from a thrift store, which presumably supports a charity, and now want to sell it on poshmark for a profit? kind of gross if so.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Why? She paid what they asked. She didn’t have any reason to believe that they had underpriced it. She didn’t withhold information from them.

        1. nep*

          Oh, yeah. Resale/thrift shops know the deal. This one is quite expensive as thrift shops go. It’s a fun, interesting game that takes knowledge on work on the part of all concerned.

      2. Summersun*

        Sourcing for Posh, Mercari, and the like via thrift is one of the most common methods of selling. Thrift stores know this and price accordingly, some even creating bundles and special sale days. You, however, just wandered in with an uninformed opinion and no idea how these markets work.

        1. Torrance*

          It’s not just their ‘uninformed’ opinion. The gentrification of thrifting and the harm that reselling does to the communities that thrift stores serve has been a topic of many discussions for several years. Obviously everyone is looking out for their own interests when discussing the issue –the thrift stores, the resellers, and the non-reselling customers– but that doesn’t mean the issue doesn’t exist.

          1. Ermintrude*

            I agree with Torrance – it seems so much harder now to get nice clothes in a charity shop – so basically poor people only get the leftovers? Not super.

            1. Not A Manager*

              My understanding of charity resale shops is that they raise money for their charitable endeavors by selling high-quality pre-owned items at a market price, and they use that money to help their clients. In that case, it’s better for the charity and its clients for the goods to be sold to whoever can afford the market price.

              Additionally, some resale shops sell items that actually have a fairly low market price. The reasonable market for those items are people who can’t afford to pay more, and who want the item on offer. This is what you are calling “leftovers.”

              If you want to provide good-quality items to people who can’t afford the market price, there are a lot of ways to do that that DON’T imitate regular commerce. Setting up a retail shop with artificially low prices and relying on the honor system for people to means-test themselves as to whether they could (and therefore should) pay more elsewhere, is futile. If you want a means-tested system where expensive things go to poor people (which I would support), then you need to set that up. Don’t ask your charity retail shop to something that it can’t possibly do.

        2. nep*

          Indeed–the savvier the folks at these stores, the less chance of getting super valuable pieces for a song. And hey, more power to them. The more they know, the more they can make for their cause. It’s all a great exchange. We are curators.

      3. nep*

        Yep. That’s how it works for many. (The thrift stores–unless they’re specifically consignment–are getting the items donated.) Thrill of the hunt, and all that. Welcome to the world of reselling.

        1. AGD*

          Seriously, I’m a thrifter and I know a bunch of people who resell (a few who look for items, and one who keeps a lookout for outdated/damaged knitted sweaters and then unravels, cleans, and repackages the yarn). Once you buy it, you can do what you want with it, and capitalism has pretty much everyone on the alert all the time for ways of adding income.

          1. nep*

            And when something in the thrift shop lands in the hands of someone who can use it, that’s less textile waste in a landfill–better for everyone.

            1. AGD*

              I do a fair amount of upcycling/refashioning and try to rescue and reinvent things likely to be thrown out – but the turnover rate at big thrift shops is so intense that unless you go every single day, no one person can be more than a drop in the bucket.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Unless you’re representing that it’s a particular thing that you’re not sure about, why don’t you price it as if it were at the high end, and see what the response is? If you get crickets then you’ll know you priced it too high. Be sure that your description and photos are completely accurate.

    4. ...*

      Armani never sold well at the consignment store I worked for. Can you do the thing where you list it for a dollar and people make offers?

  43. moql*

    Ethics of bra shopping in a corona world?

    My current bras are all worn out, and the style I’ve been buying for years is discontinued. As much as I would love to I can’t get away wearing sports bras at work, and I am essential so bras are essential too.

    Can I ethically go to a store and try bras on? Everything is completely open in my state and cases are low but that’s more due to luck than because my fellows are being careful and we are probably headed for another spike.

    Do I have to suck it up and put $$$$ on my credit card and hope I can return the ones that don’t fit before the bill is due? I have odd shaped breasts so I will probably have to try a lot before I find something that works for me. Brands like third love don’t address the specific type of “weird shape” so it tends to be very hit or miss.