weekend open thread – September 26-27, 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: With or Without You, by Caroline Leavitt. After awakening from a coma, a woman discovers that her life — and she herself — have changed.

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

{ 1,257 comments… read them below }

  1. Nacho*

    I’m trying to make sugar cookies, and I’m finding 3 general kinds of recipes: ones with baking soda, ones with baking soda and baking powder, and ones with baking soda and cream of tartar. the rest of the recipe doesn’t seem to change, so I have to assume it’s just a matter of how the final product turns out. Does anybody know the difference?

    1. All the cats 4 me*

      They all act in different ways chemically, but the final product should not be significantly different.

      But! I like my sugar cookies nice and flat so I can decorate them, so I never put in any leavening (soda, or powder, or cream of tartar) and they still rise due to air incorporation when creaming the butter and sugar.

      I don’t bother with leavening in choc chip cookies either. I find the creaming of butter and sugar gives enough rise to the cookies.

      Ummm… cookies. I might have to bake soon!

      1. The New Wanderer*

        My favorite sugar cookie recipe only uses butter, sugar, egg yolks, and flour. I have creamed the butter and sugar by hand in the past (not recommended but it worked well enough), but this year I’m happy to have a stand mixer to do that part!

    2. Anonbeth*

      It has to do with the timing of the rise. Baking powder won’t start to rise until it reaches a certain temperature; baking soda will start as soon as it touches an acid. The recipe with both agents will have two rises (one immediate, one in the oven as the baking soda is winding down). So, probably depends on how puffy you like your cookies and how quickly you can get them into the oven. Source: half-remembered Cook’s Illustrated article on preferring dual raising agents for biscuits!

      1. Firecat*

        A lot of baking powder is twice rising so it rises at low temp then at oven temp. That’s why letting your cookie dough rest impacts the rise of the cookies.

    3. noahwynn*

      Baking soda needs an acid to react with, that’s why you see cream of tartar added in recipes like sugar cookies where there’s not much. Brown sugar is an acid, so a lot of chocolate chip cookies only use baking soda.

      Baking powder is baking soda with a powdered acid. When liquid is added the two can combine. Does the same thing as adding cream of tartar to baking soda. However, baking powder also has a second chemical that creates a rise when exposed to heat in the oven. So usually cookies made with baking powder will be fluffier than those made with solely baking soda because of the second rise in the oven.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think technically the ones with cream of tartar are the base for snickerdoodles. At least, when I was trying to figure out the difference between snickerdoodles and sugar cookies, that was the overwhelming answer: snickerdoodles have cream of tartar and are rolled in cinnamon sugar before baking.

      1. Anonnington*

        I had the same thought when I read that. Maybe snickerdoodles are considered a type of sugar cookie.

    5. Venus*

      Baking powder = baking soda + cream of tartar
      So there are only two types of recipes – ones with cream of tartar and ones without.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Welllllll, sort of. Every baking powder is baking soda + an acid salt. Some brands contain sodium aluminum sulfate, some contain calcium acid phosphate, some have both. You can make your own at home by mixing cream of tartar (potassium hydrogen tartrate) with baking soda.

    6. Germank106*

      You can substitute the cream of tartar with lemon juice. You get the acid that reacts with the baking soda, but they won’t be quite as puffy. I use one tablespoon of lemon juice for every two teaspoons in a recipe.

    7. Tineke in 't Veld*

      I had been without a car for many years, and bought a used gray Honda Civic in 2006 (which I am still driving). My sister asked me excitedly, “What are you going to name it?” I had no plans to name the car (as I did not know this was a thing), but I came up with something she would not keep asking me about it. The car was dubbed Beverly Nondescript. I wish I could convey in this comment how much this cracks me up.

    8. Nacho*

      Turns out the difference is that cookies with only baking soda are basically just pancakes. They don’t rise, they just spread out and become gooey and chewie.

      1. Anonbeth*

        Did the recipe have lemon juice or another acid in it? If not, there was nothing for the baking soda to react with, which means no rise.

  2. Free Meerkats*

    Do you name your cars?

    On Tuesday I picked up my new black Honda Clarity PHEV. Historically I haven’t named many of mine, but someone asked me what I named it. If I do, this one is definitely female.

    And I’m getting some joking comments at work along the lines of, “Got promoted and bought a new car? How cliche.” While it’s true, I’ve been looking at cars for a couple of months now.

      1. Merci Dee*

        My previous charcoal grey Soul was The Gray Lady. In May I traded it in for a 2020 silver Soul, which is known as Rowena.

        Pretty sure my next new car will also be a Soul. Those things tend to grow on you.

    1. Might be Spam*

      My daughter calls her car Stella. My car doesn’t seem to need a name, but my laptop is definitely named Rosebud.

    2. Slugbuglady*

      Last night I bought a 2013 beetle convertible. I named him Goldbug. Anyone else love the book Cars and Trucks and Things That Go? in 2015 I sold an ‘04 named Louise and it was classic red (just like the pig family had); so happy with the newer model.

    3. Well...*

      My family named cars when I was growing up. We had a big red truck named Clifford, and a small Honda named Belle that was bought for me when I was learning to drive but my mom loved it so much she took it for herself. I got to take the white van to school (overall deemed not worthy of a name). Much later I finally did get Belle when I went to grad school.

    4. Amy*

      My wife is someone who names cars, so she called her white Ford Fiesta Button. When I got my blue Toyota Prius mine, I felt I ought to follow suit so called it Stitch. Then we got a black Cube electric bike and called it Zip. For complex reasons, we have traded Button to a friend for the duration of the pandemic and when we got their tiny silver Ford Ka we called it Bobbin. :D

      I am a crafter, my wife is not; no idea why she went with Button! But I enjoy the theme.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I didn’t see the theme at first because in the movie ‘Lilo & Stitch”, the character Stitch is blue. I just assumed it was a cranky car ! :)

    5. SmokeOnTheWater*

      Only the ones with personality. My current car is a good car but basically has as much character as a refrigerator.

      1. One Commenter*

        Ha! We used to call my mom’s old VW van refrigerator…but that was because it looked like one (long, white, boxy) and it took a while for the heat to kick in.

      2. MelMc*

        I never named cars until this one because I’m not that attached to them. My current car is named Thumper because it feels like everyone goes out of their way to thump the poor thing. Thumper got her first scratch within 36 hours of driving off the lot brand new. It was in fender-benders that required body work twice before it was a year old. It feels like people go out of the way to open their doors into her sides. But the biggest mystery is the scratch across the top of the trunk. Did someone drag something over my car while it was in the parking lot? Thumper is just cursed to a life of chipped paint.

    6. Lena Clare*

      I quickly scrolled past that and like, yes of course I named my cats?! Then realised cars, d’oh.
      My first car was a Percy Peugeot, then after that nah.
      But I did name my stuffed toy cat Sir Stanley Arthur Audobon.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      All of them that I’ve ever driven. Including rentals. I won’t go through the whole list, but my first CR-V was a light blue called Mountain Mist, which made me think Scandinavian, and her name was Sif. A couple years ago she was totaled by Stupid Dennis deciding that stoplights are optional while texting and driving. I commented when I went to clear all my stuff out from the tow yard that she was off to ride the hills of Valhalla, and my brain tacked on “…shiny and chrome.”

      Her successor, which was another CR-V (because I walked away from being pancaked between a sedan and a 3/4 ton pickup at 50+mph with a hairline fracture of one rib and that’s it, not even any bruises or soreness) immediately became Nux the Warboy as a result. (I have plushy cheerful red and white blood cells in the console named Larry and Barry. Most of that won’t make any sense if you haven’t seen Mad Max Fury Road but it’s one of my favorite movies.)

    8. WellRed*

      I drive a silver Dodge Caliber I think of as the Silver Scarab. The shape of it reminds me of the stones on my scarab bracelet.

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        I drive a 15 year old Scion XA it is cobalt blue and is an adorable shape, so I call it the blue Jellybean of Joy

    9. RecentAAMfan*

      When my oldest son started driving he named our Toyota minivan (mostly affectionately) The Loser Cruiser. The name stuck till we finally got rid of it many years later!

      1. Bittersweet_silver*

        I started driving in the family minivan (Toyota Sienna) and it was called the Swagger Wagon! My group of teenaged friends were impressed at the storage, seating capacity, and ability to crank the XM radio :)

      2. Stephanie*

        Haha! When my daughter was in the marching band, and before she had her license, I drove her and her friends to band events often. She was in the drumline, as were several of her friends, so we always had at least one drum rolling around the back of my minivan. Once, when one of her friends was getting in my car, a drumstick fell out and some instruments shifted around–noisily–as she got in. She laughingly said “I’m riding in the Bandwagon!”
        It didn’t exactly become the car’s name, but we would refer to it that way sometimes.

      3. em*

        My sister and her friends called our mom’s van the Loser Cruiser too! It was the Dodge caravan every mom drove in the 90s lol

    10. The Spinning Arrow*

      I do! My first car ever was an old ‘87 hand-me-down from my dad and then my older brother which I affectionately named “Tank” (and he lived up to that moniker!) My second car was a silver Saturn I named Titan (as a nod to Tank and also because I thought it was REALLY clever), and my current car is a bright red Corolla I named Corki.

    11. Lizabeth*

      Absolutely! Generally a play off the car model – CV (Honda Civic) and Tessie (Tesla)

      Except for my Mom’s Geo Tracker – we call it Sydnie after her when we bought it after she stopped driving. She thought it was a little strange but it fits.

    12. Gaia*

      I name my cars after the surname of presidents, states(wo)men, and other leaders. It started as a joke years ago, but it has just stuck. Each car connects in some way with their name (a previous car was Pierce because it was a beautiful and dramatic blue, which someone called “piercing blue.”)

      I love naming my cars. I know some people think it is silly but my car is important to me, so why not name it? Incidentally, while all my cars have been named for men, I always refer to them as “her.”

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My college Civic was Flo (after ‘Kiss my grits!” Flo from the 70s TV show set in Mel’s Diner).
      When I bought camping pickup, he was Hobo …not only because he was a Ranger, but because the first song that came on the radio (college station folk show) was ‘King of the Road”.
      My husband’s Valiant was either “Prince” or “Valiant-she-ain’t” (when breaking down).
      One car was ‘the weasel” because of the license plate assigned.
      The others, no name has stuck.

    14. Jules the 3rd*

      Totally outing myself if anyone is a geek in my home town, but:

      Grey Prius: Bregolad (Tolkien, Quickbeam the Ent’s elvish name. Gandalf was taken)
      Black Jetta: Angmar (Tokien, witch king of Angmar is the lord of the Nazgul)
      Red Honda Civic: Balrog (It’s red, and surely it scares *someone*?)

      My husband decided Ghost In The Shell suited him better with his blue Prius, so it’s Tachikoma.

    15. Sleepless*

      I’m not into naming cars, no matter how much my husband tries to get me to.

      My son is very much into naming cars. His first ancient rust-bucket truck was Old Scratch, but he didn’t have it for very long, so he named his next truck Old Scratch. He loved that truck. He got a license plate for the front (we don’t have front license plates in my state) with a pirate skull that said Old Scratch. And yes, he knows about the “Crossroads” legend of the deal with the devil. Sadly, Old Scratch met his end a couple of years ago. My son has a Subaru Forester that he likes well enough whose name is Susie, but I predict that his next vehicle will be a slightly scruffy pickup truck he will name Old Scratch.

    16. GoryDetails*

      Fond as I’ve been of many of my cars, the only one I recall actually naming was the first one that I bought new (it came after two used cars, a battered-but-beloved Chevy Impala and a beautiful-but-not-very-sound Chevy Malibu). My first new car was a 1976 Chevy Chevette, a little hatchback that kicked off my lifelong devotion to hatchbacks in general (though not to Chevrolets – I’ve been driving Outbacks for the last 20 years). It was bright orange, a very whimsical choice for me (didn’t love the color but it was very easy to find in parking lots), and I called it “Chiclet” because it resembled the candy coating on Chiclets gum. I got a lot of miles out of that little car; drove it from Wyoming to Louisiana, windows open most of the way, blasting my favorite mix tapes on cassette and, after a certain point, propping up my accelerator foot with a bag of ice because the drive-train was so hot it was beginning to hurt. Then from Louisiana to New England, with my father along for the ride (he’d flown to Louisiana to meet me at his mother’s place). Good memories! Chiclet eventually demonstrated the downside of buying cheap, as both the mechanical parts and the body began to fall apart, but I still remember it fondly.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      I do. My first car was named Little Ed (Plymouth Caravelle–if he were a truck, he would have been Big Ed). Then there was Mabel the Mercury, who didn’t last long before her transmission went out. Then Francesco (Buick), and now Oliver (Chevy Cobalt). I haven’t had a lot of cars because I didn’t get my license until I was 32. I knew how to drive, I just didn’t have a vehicle so I didn’t bother.

      My mum names her cars and her current one is Greta. I had trouble thinking of a name for a very minor character in Book 2 so I picked Greta Oliver. :)

    18. RC Rascal*

      We had an early 1980s Pontiac Bonneville that was gray with a burgundy interior. Called it the Gray Potato.

    19. Queer Earthling*

      My spouse has a tradition of naming cars after Transformers. Previous cars were Argent and Offroad. The current one, a green Kia Soul, is named Jazz.

    20. anonymouslee*

      Carlisle was one.

      The other was named after that reporter who fell crushing grapes and became a huge meme, because the car made the same noise at one point.

    21. LuJessMin*

      My first car (1976) was a 1970 Rambler Ambassador that I named Shirley after Shirley Temple Black, the only female ambassador I knew. My next car (1977) was a 1971 Chevy Impala whose name was Laverne.

    22. Joanne’s Daughter*

      My husband named my Saturn Sky Precious and my day-to-day car is Randy (according to the old GEICO commercial it is one of the most trustworthy names).

    23. juneybug*

      Franken-truck – named for a 2000 Dodge Ram 250 truck that was built from three different trucks (but same year, color, and model so you couldn’t tell).
      Razzy – car named for the blue raspberry color that the manufacturer called my 2012 Honda Fit.
      Billy Goat – white rough looking 1996 GeoTracker that could go anywhere in the mountains and not get stuck.
      White Knight – white2010 Dodge Ram 250 truck that saves the day with being so efficient and strong.
      We also name our campers, RVs, and farm equipment.

    24. WoodswomanWrites*

      I hadn’t planned on naming my car, but a friend came up with a name that stuck. I had a silver Subaru and was a park ranger at the time. My car became Silver, after the steed of the Lone Ranger. I always saw Silver as gender neutral. Since then, I haven’t been motivated to name my subsequent car.

    25. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      We got a GMC Terrain in a really posh champagne color, with colorblock leather seats and a lot of other very nice features. It’s the fanciest car vehicle we’ve ever had, so I named her Alexis after the character on Schitt’s Creek.

    26. Pippa K*

      We’ve named them all. Even our tractor (an orange Kubota called Jaffa) and our utility trailer (Trailer Swift). We’re not nearly as creative as some people in this thread!

      1. NiceOrc*

        My blue Toyota Estima (people mover) is called the Cardis, because people kept commenting on how big it was inside!

    27. PollyQ*

      My sister also just got a new Honda Clarity, and the family has named her “Clarissa.” They’ve also kept the older Honda Accord, whose name is “Yolanda.”

    28. GinnyDC*

      My previous car (black Kia Optima) was Buster. My current car (white Honda civic) is Holly. No rhyme or reason for the names … the names just felt right.

    29. MC*

      My family nicknames our cars sometimes. My white Chevy Trax is “El Huevo”, or “The Egg”. Otherwise, we just call it by the make or model (e.g. The Durango or The Jeep).

    30. Jay*

      When my daughter took over my Ford Fusion hybrid, she named it Frances. After a year she decided it was male and changed his name to Francis.

      1. Sleepless*

        My daughter’s green Jeep Liberty is named Franklin. She says it’s a gender neutral name but that Franklin uses he/him pronouns. Not sure I follow, but in any case he/him has fabulous style. His previous owner, who was apparently also a teenage girl, stuck a few rhinestones on the dashboard. My daughter loves the tiny bit of bling.

    31. PhyllisB*

      Haven’t named a car in years; but when I got my first car in 1969 (a red ’62 Volkswagen with green and blue flowers on her) I named her Ladybug. When I was a young teen my sister had a ’57 Chevrolet she named The Bomb.

    32. Summersun*

      I only drive blue cars. It started as a coincidence–I was buying during the GM strike, and then again during a seller’s used market, and that just ended up being what was available, several times in a row. Once I realized the pattern, I just went with it. So the names are always based on the shade of blue.

      My sky blue R56 Cooper S was Skye, and my cerulean blue FiST is Leah.

    33. Purple Penguin*

      I’ve a Chevy HHR named Squami because the car’s color looks like the chrysomallon squamiferum.

    34. Chaordic One*

      My first car was my parents’ tired old Chevrolet station wagon named “Betsy.” This was followed by a bright yellow compact car that had black stripes whom I named “Honey-Bee” or “Honey” for short. After a while, though, I changed its name to “Lemonella.” Then I had a couple of Honda Civics, first “Cedric,” and now, “Cecil.”

    35. Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?*

      I bought a dark blue Honda Civic in 2017. His name is Bruce (like from Finding Nemo) because his antenna looks like a shark fin. It’s a great car, but I miss my Toyota RAV4 that I drove for over a decade :)

    36. Jamboree*

      No but I’d love to hear about your Clarity. I have a civic hybrid that I love love love. But they’re not making the hybrid anymore – they brought out the clarity instead. I still haven’t seen one in the wild. It’s the same footprint as the accord, right? What are your favorite features? What do you hate? What kind of mileage do you get?

      1. The Automotive Expert*

        I don’t have any info about the Honda Clarity, although it is closer in size to the mid-sized Honda Accord or the mid-sized Toyota Camry. (The Toyota Camry is available in an excellent Hybrid version.) While Honda has discontinued their compact Civic Hybrid, the newest Honda Insight is based on the Civic and features a hybrid powertrain. In years past the Insight was smaller and based on the smaller Honda Fit (or Honda “Jazz” as it was called in some other countries). The new Honda Insight It is quite a bit less expensive than a Clarity and comparable to a Toyota Prius or a Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

    37. Gatomon*

      My silver car’s name is Asuna. There’s nothing special or grand about her, in fact she’s such a bare bones model that she doesn’t even have cruise control or keyless entry* but she’s 10 years old and has only ~32,000 miles, so I keep her rolling. I’m pretty terrible about car care, to be honest, but she just takes it in stride. I think I still have 2019 dirt on her.

      *I added an aftermarket remote start, because screw that noise in this day and age. But she was the newer car I could afford at the time. The plan is to replace her when my student loans are paid off in a few years. I could do it now, but… there’s just no reason to do it. Especially not given the circumstances.

    38. Piano Girl*

      We had a Safari van that was dubbed Safari Joe after the Thundercats cartoon. Our old white truck was named Frank. My parents had an Omni we called Adam. When we got married, my husband had a fancy pickup named Amy. I drove a black Mercedes SUV which I called Baby Car. Apparently my son calls his Hyundai Morning Dawn, I did not know that until just now.

    39. beancat*

      My first car (a borderline lemon from my college days) was named Errol, and my current car is named the Strahl :)

    40. Anon. Scientist*

      My mom named her cars based on country of origin. Yvette was a Renault encore, Lucy was a red Chevy cavalier that I inherited, and I continued with my Mazda 3 (Aiko) and later my VW GTI (Elsa). My mom went on to have a succession of less interesting cars and those names have died out a bit.

    41. RBG - Yeah You Know Me*

      Yes. And they’re all black except JB as it was gold

      1997 Gold Toyota Corrola – JB for James Bond
      2007 black Mazda6 – ‘M’ for ‘M’ in James Bond
      2016 black Honda Accord – Skyfall for James Bond movie

      Next car will be Moneypenny (2026)
      Next car after that will be Vesper Lynd (2036)
      Next care after that will be ‘Q’ – last car because I’ll be 72

    42. Dancing Otter*

      My first car was named Elizabeth (Lizzie) Tudor. She was a 2-door hatchback with a rather anemic horn. Also, my mother was old enough to refer to “tin Lizzies”.

    43. OyHiOh*

      I bought a new Ford a few weeks ago. Drove it 1,000+ miles in two days and decided to call them Freddy. Depending on mood, day, work load, weather, etc, that may be short for either Fredrick or Francesca.

    44. Rocky*

      My first car was the colour of caramel fudge, so became The Fudgemobile. My flat mate’s car was Beige Leader. Now our family names cars from the number plates: so we have Kneebone from KNB, and LNP brought us Lady Pokes Newborns.

  3. Jessie*

    What is the best thriller/crime novel you read? One that has an amazing plot or a twist that really shocked you?

    1. CatCat*

      I don’t usually read this genre, but I read “Gone Girl” and gasped out loud at the most significant plot twist. I was so stunned, I had to back track a bit.

      1. Filosofickle*

        My book club loved it, except me! I spotted the twist early on. (I do read a lot of the genre, that gave me an advantage there.)

      2. PhyllisB*

        The Woman at the Window and Turn of the Key were two that had me gasping. Speaking of Gone Girl, and Girl on the Train; have you ever read a book and hated the main character(s) but still couldn’t put it down? That was my experience with both of those books.

        1. Fellow Traveler*

          Yes! I despised Gone Girl yet was up til 3am reading it. I just had to see how the whole mess ended even though the characters really bothered me.

    2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey. Don’t look it up or read anything about it. Just read it.

    3. AGD*

      I loved Janelle Brown’s Watch Me Disappear; even the parts I anticipated accurately didn’t give me the half of it. Also enjoyed Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train.

    4. allathian*

      It’s an oldie, but when I first read Christe’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, I was totally shocked by the ending. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily the best crime novel I ever read, but it’s one of my favorites. Now that it’s almost a century old (first published in 1926), it reads like a period piece.

      I must have been something like 13 or 14 when I read it and I had just graduated from YA books to more adult stuff. My parents never censored what I read, and they gave me the first three books from Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series, which is definitely not YA, for my 15th birthday.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Oh, Christie is fantastic. The first time I read her Murder on the Orient Express was just divine. I loved The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, too.

      2. Sleepless*

        The Mirror Crack’d was my favorite Agatha Christie book. As with all of her books, the facts are all sitting there in front of you, but she still manages to surprise you.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Me too, and as a plus I went and looked up the Lady of Shalott because of it so I got a favorite piece of poetry from that book too.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        I was going to say her _And Then There Were None_, but _Roger Ackroyd_ is also fantastic. _Orient Express_, I guessed early.

      4. Stormfeather*

        Yes! This is the book I was scrolling down to check the comments before I posted. ;) Christie is amazing, and this book definitely stands out. As the others mentioned, “And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express” were pretty good for this as well. But as far as good mysteries, I’d say pretty much any of hers are a good choice for the most part (there were a few that I was… “eh” on). I have seen criticisms that when she tried to move from just mystery to adventure/thriller territory, that’s when she wasn’t as great, and I’d agree to a point.

        1. allathian*

          And Then There Were None is a cool book, and to me it definitely reads more like a thriller than a mystery. I have it as a first paperback edition with the old, extremely un-PC name.

      5. Marthooh*

        Great twists in Christie novels: The Murder of Roger Acroyd, Endless Night, And Then There Were None.

        If you like twisty Christies, by the way, you will probably enjoy Robert Barnard’s work, too. There’s always a sharp little bend in the plot, usually right on the last page. It’s not always part of the mystery, but it’s always there!

      6. Chaordic One*

        I’m a big Christie fan, too. That said, I do think that her best books were written in the period of the 1930s through the 1950s. After that, she didn’t seem quite as on top of her game, although the later books aren’t terrible, just not quite as good. Close, but not quite. I understand that her fans at that time clamored for a new book every year or so and and I’ve read that she felt something of an obligation to come out with a new book for them. She certainly didn’t need the money after a certain point in her career. “A Christie for Christmas,” she reportedly said, and her fans were delighted.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, some years she wrote more than one book, especially during her golden age in the 30s and 40s.
          British publication dates:
          1934: Murder on the Orient Express, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans and Unfinished Portrait (as Mary Westmacott)
          1935: Three Act Tragedy and Death in the Clouds
          1936: The A.B.C. Murders, Murder in Mesopotamia, Cards on the Table
          1937: Dumb Witness, Death on the Nile
          1938: Appointment with Death, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas… Etc.

          From 1934 to 1942 she published at least two full-length novels every year. As late as in 1952, when she was arguably past her prime, she still published three novels: Mrs McGinty’s Dead, They Do It with Mirrors and A Daughter’s A Daughter (Westmacott).

          So I can’t really blame her for rewriting some of her short stories into novel form occasionally.

          Admittedly I haven’t read any of the Westmacott novels or Endless Night, but I do recommend Death Comes as the End (1945), it’s a mystery novel set in ancient Egypt.

          An item on my bucket list is to see The Mousetrap in the West End someday. It’s the longest-running play in the history of theater, after opening in 1952 it ran continuously until March 16, 2020, but tickets are being sold again with COVID seating limits.

      7. with a comma after dearest*

        Check out “Endless Night” by Agatha Christie. Very different than her usual style but….trust me, fits the topic of this thread! I’m a huge, huge Agatha Christie fan. Read all her books a million times (well except for the bad ones, those only a few) and they are like comfort food to me by now.

      8. Square Root of Minus One*

        For Christie, I have a soft spot for “Lord Edgware dies”. I was kicking myself for not guessing.

    5. AP.*

      I’ve been on a mystery/thriller kick recently, especially older books from the 40s and 50s. My absolute favorite is probably A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin.

      Others that I really enjoyed, all with unexpected twists:
      Most of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books, especially the first two: In the Woods and The Likeness
      The Lady in the Lake, Raymond Chandler (pretty much all of Chandler’s works are worth reading)
      The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain
      The 9-volume Bernard Sampson series (plus the prequel titled Winter) by Len Deighton

        1. GoryDetails*

          “Does Tana French ever solve the children’s mystery from Into the Woods in another book?”

          Not so far (though I developed my own theory while reading the book, which I adored). I’d rather like to see her provide some where-are-they-now bits about the various protagonists from those novels – but sometimes it’s better to leave it to our imaginations…

        2. AP.*

          I think she’s said she’d like to come back to Rob and the mystery of the kids someday, but she hasn’t done so yet. (Unless it’s in her latest book which comes out next month.)

    6. GoryDetails*

      Perhaps my favorite is du Maurier’s REBECCA – was taken completely by surprise, and loved every word. [Sadly, the more books-with-big-reveals/plot-twists one reads, the less likely it is to be so completely startled; but I still enjoy ’em. Though – ain’t it the way? – I’m blanking on titles and authors just now!]

      I’m also a fan of Tana French’s work, which does sometimes include memorable twists, though it’s the character relationships that I like best.

      1. Jessie*

        I agree. The more thrillers you read, the more immune to plot twists and “shocks,” you become. Most of the time I’m able to guess them early :)

    7. Ahre*

      I’m obsessed with this book called The Things we Lost in the Fire. It’s by an Argentine author named Mariana Enríquez (originally in Spanish) and it is absolutely riveting. Each chapter tells a different story – haunted houses, bad trips on acid, creepy serial killer tours, etc.

      Nothing to do with the movie :)

    8. Helvetica*

      Aside from the classic goodies of Agatha Christie, I recently really enjoyed “The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” by Stuart Turton. It’s fun, it’s exciting, keeps you guessing and the twist is quite substantial in the end.

      1. Helvetica*

        I can’t believe I forgot but Boris Akunin’s series about Erast Fandorin in particular is amazing, as is Alexandra Marinina’s writing, a bit more pulpy but enjoyable, especially the Kamenskaya series.

    9. Ariadne Oliver*

      All of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels. Love him and his sidekick Archie Goodwin. I also love Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigaret and I’m obviously a big fan of Agatha Christie. Especially her little Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. As far as more contemporary writers, I adore Louise Penny and I am a big fan fan of Scandinavian authors like Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo and many others.

      1. Jay*

        I loved the Nero Wolfe books when I was a teenager and now can’t read them because of the casual misogyny. Same for the Travis McGee series, which I also adored. A year or so ago I downloaded one to listen to on a road trip. Couldn’t finish it.

    10. Atheist Nun*

      A new thriller/mystery that is really excellent is The Keeper by Jessica Moor. I cannot say that I “enjoyed” it because the troubling subject–intimate partner violence–is alternately heartbreaking, maddening, horrifying, and frustrating, but I thought the plot was structured really well. The plot twist shocked me.

      I also loved the plot structure and twist in Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places.

      One of the best mystery novels that I have ever read is Trap for Cinderella by Sebastien Japrisot (I read the English language translation). Rather than a plot twist, the author offers alternate, equally plausible explanations for the mystery that will leave you thinking long after you finish the book.

    11. slmrlln*

      I really like China Mieville, The City & The City. It has some alternate reality stuff going on, but in the end it is a murder mystery, and a strange one!

      1. tjan*

        I didn’t even think of this book given the question, but it does fit, and I absolutely LOVED it. Mieville is such a beautiful writer and such fascinating concepts as well.

    12. MsChanandlerBong*

      I absolutely love the first book in Meg Gardiner’s UNSUB series. I thought the plot was clever, the prose was excellent, and it was just the right length. There’s another one I like by Gregory Funaro (“The Sculptor”) that I also thought was good. The gist is that someone is killing people and posing them like famous works of art. I could go on about mysteries and thrillers all day, but I will stop there.

    13. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Oh, so this is somewhat outside your genre specifications because it’s also a memoir (as well as a thriller, as well as other things), but In The Dream House made me gasp out loud in public and laugh with shock, and people were staring :)

      1. Jessie*

        I read it. But it really confused me. She kept building up for a climax, but then nothing big happened. However, the writing was exceptional.

  4. Saturday anon*

    Recently in the open threads some commenters mentioned relatives having stuffed animals that “purred.”

    Does anyone know a good brand name for this kind of toy?

    I know someone who really misses their cat but can’t adopt one right now and I thought they’d really like a substitute. I tried searching on amazon and can’t really tell which are good quality and which are just good photos.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Steiff (of teddy bear fame) have some very cute kittens, although these don’t purr. Some of their animal toys are very realistic.

    2. Lemon Curdle*

      I hope you’re going to check with them first?

      This wouldn’t be welcome for everyone. Personally I would be really upset and creeped out if someone bought me something like this.

      Soft toy: fine. Sound effects: maybe not.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I highly recommend a Gund for a squishy comforting stuffy. My husband got me a HUGE one that we all use as a back rest pillow.

    4. Finny*

      I’d personally get a Jellycat plush in that situation, but then again Jellycat is my absolute favourite plushie brand.

  5. Waltzes with Bears*

    I’m trying to clean a white stuffed bear. The internet told me to use baking soda and let it sit for a few days, but it isn’t any cleaner.

    What would be a better way to clean my bear that uses minimal liquid? Would cornstarch pick up the dirt better?

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Julie and Amanda from BBC’s The Repair shop use some liquid soap/detergent and water, make a foam from it and use that to clean old or fragile soft toys. Unfortunately, the programme never shows the whole process!

      1. PX*

        They might now show the whole process, but the episodes I’ve seen (I binged a lot of The Repair Shop last year) definitely talk about what the process is. Like Chocolate Teapot said, if the toy is very delicate – use only the foam of the soap/water lather, very gently rub it in, then pat out out any excess water – and repeat. The key here is patience, it clearly takes a very long time to get it properly clean and it will probably take multiple goes. I figure thats where they just cut to the finished product!

        1. MysteryFan*

          That’s how my mother taught me to clean upholstery in the olden days, before cans that squirted out carpet/fabric cleaners were invented. Whip up laundry detergent into a foam, and use the foam only to clean the object.

    2. Lena Clare*

      When I’ve cleaned my cats’ stuffed toys, I’ve used water and dish soap, then rinsed and dried on a flat surface. Good as new afterwards :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure what you are trying to clean off. If it’s just general dust- you could vacuum it.

      If it is actually staining, here’s what I did, I mixed soap and hydrogen peroxide in a pan. I took an old towel and wet it with the mix. Wring out the towel really good so the water is not dripping all over. Then I wiped the animal. I was surprised by how much I got off of it. You can set it out in the sun to dry. If need be, you can brush it out once it is dry.

    4. Book Lover*

      If it is precious to you, and dirty (not just a bit dusty) then you could try a toy hospital

      https://realmsofgold.com/cloth-doll-and-stuffed-animal-hospital/

      They take the toy apart at the seams, wash, then put back together.

      If not really worth the money/effort, I have done a surface wash and even put toys in the washing machine in a delicates bag – but I live in Arizona so they do dry after. The problem with doing this in a lot of areas is that you can end up with mold or mildew in the stuffing I guess?

      1. Violet Rose*

        Yeah, I’ve had good luck washing stuffies in a pillowcase on gentle cycle with mild dish soap instead of detergent. They air-dried fine in California; in colder climates I’d recommend an airing cupboard, hairdryer, or even tumble-dryer if you’re feeling brave. This works best if the toy is made of modern, durable, and short-pile materials; I’d be very hesitant with, say, a vintage handmade teddy bear.

    5. RC Rascal*

      I would try the suds from Ivory Liquid soap. Several readers have suggested liquid soap suds but I’ve always been told it’s best if the soap used is Ivory.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The one key thing I learned washing my daughter’s stuffies is use cold water and never put them in the drier. The heat will age & flatten the fur like three extra tears of love. Laundry lines in the sun will also help whiten. Put near a radiator or hot air vent in the winter.
        And if it stays gray, we still love them.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If it’s a historic stuffie, pay attention to the filling. Sometimes they have wirework. And the filling can be anything from crushed walnut shells to scrap fabric or unspun fiber, none of which is the same after getting soaked.

    6. MsOctopus*

      I’ve heard baby wipes recommended as an effective way to clean plush/upholstery without adding too much water!

    7. Kuododi*

      I’ve never tried this on a stuffed animal however I have always had success with Dawn dish soap. (Grease and stain cutter. If I have a more difficult stain I will make a paste of detergent and baking soda apply directly to the stain then launder as instructed. ) Don’t machine dry until you’re certain the stains are gone. Otherwise the stains will be baked into the fabric. Good luck

    8. Germank106*

      You could try Hydrogen Peroxide in a spray bottle. I used to work with high end sportswear garments and that’s what we used when the garments had stains . I works on all fabrics, doesn’t affect the color and usually gets the stains out. Just spray it on, and let it dry. No need to rinse. If there are heavy stains you might have to spray, let sit and then blot up the stain. Don’t rub – that just spreads the stain.

    9. Aza*

      You can also try just setting it in the sun. This works wonders for stained clothes, not sure about bears, but it’s a low impact thing to try!

      1. Might be Spam*

        I love that song. It gets played at the end of some zoom get-togethers and we all dance with our bears. The first time I brought out my bear, half the group disappeared and came back with their bears (and one Godzilla.)

  6. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    It looks like I’ll be fairly busy soon, so I think it’s going to be mostly loose scenes for me in the near future and figuring out where they go later.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Also, as per usual, this thread is not limited to fiction writing. I don’t know why I keep forgetting to put that on the main message.

    2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I haven’t done any writing in weeks because my job is making me so tired and sad. I really hope that finding a new job will help. I miss it.

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I’m stalled out at the moment, but I’m starting to get feedback and editing notes on a previous project. So I’m trying to see this as “some movement, any movement, is better than nothing…”

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’m about to send Book 2 to an editor. That means no touchy until I get it back (groan). It’s only second draft, but I don’t want to wait until I’ve polished it down to where I don’t want to change anything. Better to do it now while it’s still rough. This will give me time to work on my conlang, and I actually want to write Book 3 during NaNoWriMo this year, because I changed my Book 2 ending and now I’m kind of excited about it.

      I also have something I started and shelved in favor of Book 2, but we’ll see. I’m still job hunting and not in my own space and that takes up a lot of mental bandwidth.

    5. Stormfeather*

      This week I’ve actually not been playing much (so far) of the stuff I was playing last week (so much for intending to finish some games before moving onto others XD ). Of course, I guess I haven’t had TOO much chance to play yet because i was busy during the week mostly and haven’t started for the weekend yet. BUT I did get into a fairly long batch of games of Among Us with some friends last night. At first I thought it was kinda fun but not worth the hype, but as we went on (we played for probably between 2 and 3 hours) it just got to be a blast. Very dependent upon who you’re playing with though, I’d imagine, and probably also a lot easier at least with voice chat (muting it obviously during the task portions).

      Upcoming plans: I want to try to get started on the latest patch for Final Fantasy XIV this weekend or at least Really Soon Now which I should have done already (I just tend to get burned out now and then, need a good break, then eventually come back). I’ve heard it’s amazing though. And the I’ve got some other friends that I’m going to try out a game called Genshin Impact with which seems sorta like an anime-style JRPG crossed with Breath of the Wild and sounds interesting. Has Gacha elements, but we’ll see how bad those are. It comes out Monday.

      I also at some point soon will probably restart Pathfinder: Kingmaker, because I heard when it came out on console it added a turn-based combat system option that kinda transforms the game. I’ve been wanting to get back into it at some point after it was patched more anyhow, so this seems like a good time! Y’know, with my copious free time that’s not spent working, reading, or playing the other games I’m playing. ^^;;

      1. Stormfeather*

        Aaaaand this was meant to go in the gaming thread. I’m not really sure what the etiquette is here, since the threads are wildly different. I guess I’ll repost there, and if anyone is able to delete these two comments in the writing thread portion, I’d appreciate it. ^^;;

    6. Can't Write a Lick*

      I’m taking an online course to learn about writing short stories. I have found out that I have absolutely no imagination when it comes to creating a short story out of the thin air. However, I am capable of writing stories that are based on incidents that happened either to me or to someone I know. I had to write a short story about two people who had ended their relationship and then unexpectedly ran into each other. So I based my story on the time that I was waiting for a bus, and when it arrived, the bus driver had to ask a passenger to get out of the bus in order to help me. In my story, I wrote that the guy who got out of the bus was the ex of the woman waiting for the bus.

      For some reason, a high school incident has been stuck in my head. It was the time that a girl was nominated for prom queen, but no one asked her to the prom, and the class advisors had to bully a guy to ask her. He had been nominated for prom king, but he had made it loud and clear that he thought that proms were stupid, and prom kings were stupid, and he didn’t even want to go to the prom. She told me that our class advisors had paid the guy to ask her to the prom.

      I decided that the incident would make a good story. I included dialogue between the guy and the class advisors in which he said that he had better things to spend his money on than prom tickets and a tuxedo and a corsage, and the class advisors said that they would pay for them. (I never would have thought of this if she hadn’t confided to me that the guy had been paid. Everyone in the class knew that he had been pressured to ask her, but I didn’t have the slightest idea that money had changed hands until she told me so.) I also included dialogue between her and her mother that took place four months before the prom. It was based on dialogue between my mother and me that took place four months before the prom, when I was worried about not having a date for the prom.

      I’ve gotten up to the part where he picked her up to take her to the prom. I still have to write about how badly he treated her there (she told me that he refused to talk to her or dance with her), how she hoped that she would be the prom queen and that he wouldn’t be the prom king, and so on.

      Just for fun, I posted what I had written into several websites that check for plagiarism, and I was surprised to find out that each website claimed that my story was plagiarized. It would cost me money to get the details. I am not going to spend that money.

      What I want to know is: (1) Is it a common theme for girls who are nominated for prom queen to not be asked to the prom? (2) How reliable are those websites? Do they tell everyone who posts something that their stories are plagiarized? (3) Is the writing instructor likely to post our stories into those websites to see if they were plagiarized? I would be so humiliated if I were accused of plagiarism.

      Thank you for your attention.

      1. ThePear8*

        I’m not a teacher and different instructors have different practices…but from my perspective as a student unless there’s something in your story that seems weird or very similar to something else, you’re probably fine.
        I do remember in middle school, my English teacher had one lecture where he told us a story about plagiarism to discourage us from doing so…he had a short story a student submitted about a woman who was trying to get on an escalator and her short, tight skirt was restricting her from doing so. She repeatedly tried unzipping it more to loosen it until finally the man behind her lifts her up onto the ledge…and when she scolds him for touching her, he responds “I’m sorry, but after you unzipped my fly three times, I thought we were friends”. My teacher, thinking it was odd for a middle schooler to use the term “fly”, googled “unzipped my fly three times” and sure enough, got an almost identical story where the woman was trying to get on a bus instead of an escalator.
        So if you’re really worried about it, one thing you could do is try googling key phrases or concepts from your story to see if you get anything disturbingly similar. Otherwise, if there’s nothing really out of place or blatantly suspicious about your story, I think you’re fine. Again though, I’m not a teacher so take my opinion with a grain of salt!

        1. Can't Write a Lick*

          Thank you so much for your response! I googled “prom queen no date for the prom” and didn’t come up with anything relating to my story. I then googled “no date for the prom,” and one website showed the following:

          “Some people go with a group of single friends and dance the night away together. Others go solo and enjoy dancing with a few different guys instead of just one. There’s no rule that says you have to be part of a duo to be at prom.”

          I have no idea why someone is claiming that there is no rule saying that you have to be part of a duo to go to the prom, because that’s not the way it was at my high school. Tickets were sold to couples. You couldn’t buy a ticket for just yourself. The only way you could go with a group of single friends would be if you all paired off and bought tickets for twosomes. I guess if you really wanted to go by yourself, you could buy a ticket for a couple and say that you were bringing someone from another school, and then show up by yourself, claiming that your “date” had gotten sick, but I don’t remember anyone doing that. As for dancing with a few different guys instead of just one, I don’t think that would have happened. I don’t think the other girls would have enjoyed watching their guys dancing with a girl who came by herself while they got to sit at the table all by themselves.

          So I guess that enough stories have been written about proms that my story was automatically slammed as being plagiarized. So that means that I have nothing to worry about! Thanks again!

          1. curly sue*

            It’s very context-dependent, I think. My high school absolutely offered singles tickets for formal, but it was $5 cheaper to go as a couple (imagine $20 for a single ticket or $30 for two; I can’t remember the exact price but it was that sort of thing). So naturally everyone paired off regardless of date status – I had a date, but many people just split the cost with a friend and went stag.

            Dancing also tended to be fast music and in gangs / circles, so who you came with really only impacted seating arrangements at the tables.

            With regards to the plagiarism issue, it may not be the prom factor, but the ‘paid to date her’ factor. There are a large number of teen comedies and new adult romcoms based on the “I was paid to go out with him/her and fell for them for real, now they found out and are mad at me” trope.

            1. Can't Write a Lick*

              Thank you! I did find the synopsis for a movie about a guy being paid to date a girl, but the plot of the movie was nothing like what happened IRL. At my high school, the boy was bribed to take her to the prom because she was nominated for prom queen, and it would have been a huge scandal if she hadn’t been able to go. He did not fall for her. She eventually told me that he refused to talk to her or dance with her at the prom. And the only reason the class advisors cared was that she was nominated for prom queen. Did they try to get dates for the girls in our class that hadn’t been asked out by anyone? Of course not! The class advisors couldn’t have cared less about them.

              Since I’m afraid that I’ve derailed the writing thread, I started a thread way below about prom memories. Take a look for it if you like!

          2. RagingADHD*

            They are saying there is no universal rule of etiquette that one must go to prom as a couple, and friend groups are common in many places.

            The sentence is not intended to convey that no school anywhere, ever in history, might have had such a rule.

      2. Professor Ronny*

        The detector we use at my university (Turnitin) shows the phrases that are a direct copy of something else and lets me click on it to see what was copied. That is required since students quote academic material (e.g. citations) all the time.

        It is also possible that once you uploaded it to the first one, it made it into other databases and you were being flagged for copying yourself. I’ve see that happen when students submit a revised version of their own paper.

    7. ThePear8*

      I think I want to get into food writing! I’ve been wanting to start writing on Medium for a while and have had some drafts for articles of various topics sitting around…writing enough to actually feel ready to hit that “publish” button seems so far away though haha…
      But anyway I’m really passionate about food, particularly food tourism and adventurous eating, so I might start writing more in that direction. I recently subscribed to one of those snack boxes that send you snacks from a different country every month, and I’m feeling really inspired to write reviews of its contents. I started a draft, so who knows, maybe I’ll finally be able to finish an article.

    8. Alexandra Lynch*

      Still doing a lot of background reading.

      I’ve pretty much decided that next year’s Major Project will be writing the novel and getting at least one book of it into a form where I can let people look at it. (I know the stuff I have is at least three books and I keep getting hints of side stories related to things in the main timeline.) This year’s project is losing weight (47 pounds so far and three sizes) and while that will probably take longer than a year to finish, after the year I’ll be able to sort of let that run in the background while writing because I’ll be used to the change in diet.
      So I’m doing a lot of reading about women and food practices and religion and beliefs about visions and what was considered demonic and what marks of grace, as well as researching various diseases and what they actually clinically look like/sound like/smell like, and what it’s like to live with and depend on various farm animals.
      It’s interesting. And often gross.
      I’m already aware that my book won’t be to a lot of people’s tastes because when you go back into history and talk about how people did things then, well, classism was baked in, as was misogyny, and medicine was primitive at best and a lot of people died of things that modernly we handle with outpatient care. But it is what it is and it wants me to write it, and I’ll give it my best shot.

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    As usual, this thread is not limited to video games.
    I was soooo close to beating the stage 2 boss that will bring me to stage 3′ in Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles…any day now…

    1. Quoth the Raven*

      I’ve never played Chronicles, but I’ve played Castlevania: Dracula X (just did a few days ago, actually) and I’ve played Rondo of Blood, and in general the bosses do NOT go easy at all! I hope you get to the next stage soon.

      I had been playing Bloodstained, but I took a break from it (I like it well enough, but haven’t been in the right state of mind to continue) and decided to beat The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and start Majora’s Mask 3D. I had honestly forgotten how much I love OoT, and revisiting it was very emotional. With Majora’s Mask, I’d played it once about 18 years ago and didn’t care for it, but figured I’d give it another shot now that I’m older. I’m glad I did! I’m really enjoying it this time around, though I’ve had to look up walkthroughs every now and then to figure out where to go next.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Honestly swapping from Richter to Maria makes things a little easier in terms of movement (she almost plays like a metroidvania character) but she is the definition of a glass cannon. I’m currently trying to learn how to pull off Guardian First reliably.

        Also I totally feel you on going back to something you loved and getting emotional. I had the same thing when I fired up the Ace Attorney Trilogy for the first time.
        Speaking of which, I should probably get Edgeworth out of his current conundrum.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      On the advice of someone from this forum, I stopped working on my Guild Wars 2 Griffon and moved on to the skyscale. It’s really cool, I don’t get as queasy with it as other mounts, but it’s really hard on my carpel tunnel.

      1. Nessun*

        I’m sorry to hear that! I do love the skyscale for overall abilities and air coverage (especially in Drizzlewood), but I’ve not noticed a difference in manually driving it compared to other mounts. I hope you get relief for your carpal tunnel!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ve been fighting off this problem for well over 20 years. I have found that sticking with keyboard shortcuts I do better than anything that requires a mouse. Probably all the piano lessons I lived through as a kid left me with better keyboard posture. So… Guild Wars is a weekend treat.

    3. Generic Name*

      So, I’m not really into gaming at all, but I just made myself a character in my husband’s game “Elder Scrolls”. I know it probably won’t transfer over, but I think I’ll see if I can download it (or something similar) on my iPad. Does anyone have recommendations for games on iPads that are more story-based and don’t have too much blood and gore? No first person shooters. I really enjoyed playing Monkey Island on PC back in the day, so I’d like to replicate that experience. Ideally it would be a relaxing game that kind of guides you through the story like a “choose your own adventure” and less of a mind-bending maze/puzzle game. My job requires a lot of problem solving and planning and analysis, and I like giving my brain a break during my off time.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Have you considered Visual Novels? They’re a very choose your own adventure style if you go by the strictest definition. In the West the term is usually expanded to include Japanese Adventure games like Danganronpa (this one is quite bloody so you might want to skip) or Ace Attorney (does involve murder but has a very good balance of murder-y stuff and being rather ludicrous – don’t be surprised when you’re cross-examining a parrot). Feel free to ask more questions if you’re interested. Personally I loved Steins;Gate, although that one does get quite heavy about halfway through.
        Another good game that should be available on app stores is Detective Grimoire: The Secret of the Swamp. It’s also a puzzle game, but none of the puzzles ever really stump you. Again, this one involves murder (notice a theme here? ^^’) but it’s all very cartoony.
        You could also look into Hidden Object Games. I’ve mentioned June’s Journey here before – mystery game set in the 20’s that also involves some decorating (you get an island to decorate). It’s mostly hidden object scenes with the occasional little puzzle, though they can usually be solved easily.

        1. Generic Name*

          Oooh, I’ve never heard of visual novels. I’ll have to check it out! I appreciate the other suggestions. I’ll have to do some searching in the App Store.

      2. lady gamer or something*

        If you think you might like strategy games, you could try King of Dragon Pass (or its sequel, Six Ages, though I haven’t tried that yet). Basically, you command a clan ring and you make decisions on behalf of your clan to survive and thrive in the dangerous Dragon Pass. You can decide when to raid other clans, what gods to make sacrifices to, how to resolve disputes between clans and between your people, what things you’d like to buy and sell on trading missions, etc. You’ll usually be given an endgame goal after playing for a while, like a prophecy saying you have to marry into enemy royalty or that someone on your clan ring could become the king. It has a lot of replay value; it’s not the kind of game you “beat” and then are done with.

    4. Stormfeather*

      This week I’ve actually not been playing much (so far) of the stuff I was playing last week (so much for intending to finish some games before moving onto others XD ). Of course, I guess I haven’t had TOO much chance to play yet because i was busy during the week mostly and haven’t started for the weekend yet. BUT I did get into a fairly long batch of games of Among Us with some friends last night. At first I thought it was kinda fun but not worth the hype, but as we went on (we played for probably between 2 and 3 hours) it just got to be a blast. Very dependent upon who you’re playing with though, I’d imagine, and probably also a lot easier at least with voice chat (muting it obviously during the task portions).

      Upcoming plans: I want to try to get started on the latest patch for Final Fantasy XIV this weekend or at least Really Soon Now which I should have done already (I just tend to get burned out now and then, need a good break, then eventually come back). I’ve heard it’s amazing though. And the I’ve got some other friends that I’m going to try out a game called Genshin Impact with which seems sorta like an anime-style JRPG crossed with Breath of the Wild and sounds interesting. Has Gacha elements, but we’ll see how bad those are. It comes out Monday.

      I also at some point soon will probably restart Pathfinder: Kingmaker, because I heard when it came out on console it added a turn-based combat system option that kinda transforms the game. I’ve been wanting to get back into it at some point after it was patched more anyhow, so this seems like a good time! Y’know, with my copious free time that’s not spent working, reading, or playing the other games I’m playing. ^^;;

    5. squeebird*

      I’m back to playing Fallout 4… again… I’ve sunk something like 1300 hours into it but somehow I keep coming back. The settlement building is probably what does it. Maybe it says something about the state of the world that I prefer “lovingly constructing shacks in a retro-futurist post-apocalyptic hellscape” to “dealing with reality”.

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        I recently started a new game in fallout 4 also! This time on the ps4 instead of the PC. Enough time has passed that it feels fresh and fun again. I havent done any settlement building yet because i want to do an institute victory and not burn out on it before then. Im wondering how aggrevating it will be using a controller…

    6. Gatomon*

      I finished The Last of Us Part II last weekend and started Ghost of Tsushima. I’m enjoying it so far. Still pondering the ending to TLOU 2.

      I broke down and invested in separating my home workspace from my personal desktop, since things are just not getting better here. My home office space is totally separate from my gaming and music space as of this evening, and it feels so much better already. (I am extremely fortunate to have two small spare bedrooms.) I fired up Cities:Skylines and let it open my last save… the last save date was March 14. :( I complete forgot about this little city and how hard I had worked on it in the before times. I think I’m going to pick it up again and see how far I can take it!

    7. Jackalope*

      Question for everyone. I’m wanting to play something that has the beautiful scenery of Skyrim but doesn’t involve dungeon crawls or lots of killing things. I’m thinking more of D&D Ranger: The Game, where you get to wander through the wilderness and do quests but not tons of violence (a little bit is okay). Is there anything that exists along those lines that you know of?

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        Maybe something like Spiritfarer which is all exploration and quests. It has some light platforming which is pretty optional. The art style is gorgeous and it is very chill while being engaging.

    8. 653-CXK*

      On my Stella (Atari 2600) emulator, I’m playing MegaMania (Activision) and some game hacks (like Asteroids with vector graphics and Missile Command for trackballs – works great with the mouse!).

    9. lady gamer or something*

      I’ve been enjoying the remake of the Bard’s Tale trilogy. I never played as a kid, but wow, the features that have been added and improved on show some clear love for the game! It’s even got controller support…

    10. Finny*

      Playing Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse on my Switch Lite while hoping I can scrounge up the cash to get all the Shantae stuff Limited Run Games is releasing before the pre-order window closes. The Shantae games are my favourites.

      Also bouncing around between Freedom Planet, where I’m currently stuck, and Goblin Sword, which is fun but I keep dying quick.

      Yes, I love platformers!

    11. beancat*

      I’ve been playing Super Mario 3D Allstars! I wanted it to make me feel like a kid again.

      …mission accomplished. I suck just as badly now as when I was a kid, lol. The controls and camera are fighting me in a way I don’t ever remember from when I was 6, and it’s so frustrating! :( I also tried Sunshine from the same pack, which has better controls that I am also still awful at. I just need to practice more, haha.

  8. Well...*

    My family named cars when I was growing up. We had a big red truck named Clifford, and a small Honda named Belle that was bought for me when I was learning to drive but my mom loved it so much she took it for herself. I got to take the white van to school (overall deemed not worthy of a name). Much later I finally did get Belle when I went to grad school.

  9. Quoth the Raven*

    I’ve never played Chronicles, but I’ve played Castlevania: Dracula X (just did a few days ago, actually) and I’ve played Rondo of Blood, and in general the bosses do NOT go easy at all! I hope you get to the next stage soon.

    I had been playing Bloodstained, but I took a break from it (I like it well enough, but haven’t been in the right state of mind to continue) and decided to beat The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and start Majora’s Mask 3D. I had honestly forgotten how much I love OoT, and revisiting it was very emotional. With Majora’s Mask, I’d played it once about 18 years ago and didn’t care for it, but figured I’d give it another shot now that I’m older. I’m glad I did! I’m really enjoying it this time around, though I’ve had to look up walkthroughs every now and then to figure out where to go next.

  10. Amateur Photographer*

    For those of you into photography, what equipment do you use?
    Also, if any of you are content creators on YouTube, what video and lighting set up did you start off with and what financial investment did you make?
    Thanks.

    1. nep*

      Interesting. I’ll be watching this thread.
      I’ve got the most basic Canon, but I am really glad that years back I bought a 50mm 1.4 lens. I’ve had a lot of fun w that. This is a welcome reminder that I’ve got to get out and take more pictures; I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      I have a Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR that I got second-hand. It’s a hybrid rather than an actual DSLR but it’s perfect for what I need–mostly it gets used for product photos for my adult toy review blog, occasional doll photography, and cat pictures. It definitely isn’t fantastic for video, though.

      For lighting mostly I try to use daylight. If that’s not an option, since most of what I’m photographing is pretty small, I can just use a phone flashlight that my spouse is holding, but we also have our “fancy lighting” set-up consisting of two $6 work lights with clamps from Home Depot.

      Since you’re interested in YouTube, though, I have to say, it isn’t fantastic at video. Luckily this isn’t a feature I need. If my dolls start moving I’m not going to film it, I’m going to run.

      1. Amateur Photographer*

        Thank you, that’s helpful.
        I don’t know if you’ve seen Ghosts on BBC (it’s a comedy)? Anyway there is an extremely funny scene where the ghosts are trying to communicate with a human using a doll’s eyes and Morse Code! But moving dolls – I get you!

        1. Queer Earthling*

          I haven’t, but that’s hilarious! Luckily my Asian ball-jointed dolls don’t have moving eyelids. I’d be Upset. ;)

    3. Jay*

      Tag-teaming this: what photo editing software do you use? I want to start doing some photo editing. I know they’ll have a steep learning curve, which is fine.

      1. Cards fan*

        I use Snapseed on my phone, which is a nice app for free. I use Luminar for my raw files (or jpeg) on my computer. I like it because it is one price instead of a monthly fee like photoshop or Lightroom, and I’m strictly amateur (so I don’t use it daily).

      2. Queer Earthling*

        I just use Paint.Net, which is free. It’s EXTREMELY basic but it’s usually enough for me to do what I need, which is usually cropping, some color correction, sharpening, and editing out dust and hair. You can also download add-ons for more complex tools, I just haven’t. GIMP is also free, and much more complex, but I find it to be extremely laggy and I hate the name.

    4. D3*

      I shoot landscapes, nature, architecture, macro, etc. Just for fun these days.
      Nikon and sometimes Sony. D810 + whatever lenses I am in the mood for. Lots of Lensbaby, which I find fun and a good boost to my creativity.
      The smaller Sony (a6000) + kit lens + Lensbaby Trio is my “I want options but also want to travel light” gear.

    5. Louisiana Girl in Missouri*

      Just saw this-hope it’s not too late to reply. I use Canon, plus a sigma telephoto lens (I shoot wildlife/landscape). I have 3 lenses and 2 camera bodies (not into a ton of gear, but that’s just me). What really helped me a lot of renting equipment from places like Borrowlenses.com. Before making any type of investment, I rent a lens. I also will rent an occasional lens for a one-off shoot (I did one of my step-daughter’s wedding). I use photoshop (I shoot in RAW, though and I know, I know..it can cause some debate etc etc). I google a lot of stuff and watch a lot of youtube. Digital Photography school is free and has great content, Jared Polin is another (and he reviews gear). Everybody’s an expert, so just take what works for you. (I don’t do lighting or generally photograph people )

  11. Teatime is Goodtime*

    Quilters of AAM, I would love your help! I have fallen down the rabbit hole that is thread research and now I’ve overwhelmed myself. I have a few questions:
    1) For piecing: what threads do you like for hand piecing? For machine piecing?
    2) For quilting, same questions: favorites for hand or machine quilting?
    3) Also, is there really a big difference between the polyester thread brands? Like Gütermann vs Superior thread vs others.
    Thank you!

    1. JenC*

      I have always just used Guterman cotton thread for piecing and Guterman hand quilting thread for quilting but I mostly do everything by hand. My quilting teacher said you should never use polyester thread as it doesn’t degrade in the same way that cotton does, so if you want longevity in your quilts, the thread and fabric should match. Apparently, polyester thread will “cut” through the patches over time. That being said, she did like Coats Dual Duty so who knows. I got some Wonderfil thread which I have yet to try. Quilting can be a super expensive hobby so I mostly try to aim for middle of the road supplies. Many people love the thread from Connecting Threads – I haven’t tried it but their fabric is excellent quality for a low price and shipping to Canada, which matters to me! I think they are a sister company of Knit Picks. Quilting is a lovely, lovely rabbithole to fall into and I think you will be very happy down there!

      1. Anax*

        I’ve also heard the same advice on “matching” thread and fabric, and that Guterman is decent quality. I’m told Kona cotton (at Joann’s) is good quality too.

        (A little adjacent, but on the historical costuming side, I’ve been hearing good things about Burnley and Trowbridge’s silk and linen thread; cotton is never going to have enormous tensile strength because the fibers themselves are so short, so if you’re really worried about sturdy seams, that might not be a bad thing to look into. Probably overkill for quilts, though!)

        1. SarahKay*

          Back when I worked in retail I went to a Haberdashery training day which was absolutely fascinating. One session was on threads, and the trainer there was very enthusiastic about Guterman threads. We got shown at least six different types of Guterman; previously I’d really only used their polyester thread. The trainer also recommended matching thread to fabric, particularly for quilting where potentially you’d want the item to last for decades. He also said exactly the same thing – that polyester thread on cotton fabric can eventually damage the fabric, cutting through it.

    2. SpellingBee*

      I don’t piece by hand so I can’t address that, but for machine piecing I use Aurifil 40 weight. My sewing machine (a Juki) likes it and it was recommended to me by my first quilting instructor, so I’ve just kept up with it. I do all my piecing with the same color (I think Aurifil calls it “sand”), and don’t try to match it to the fabric color as I would if I was sewing a garment.

      For machine quilting I like King Tut, which is also a 40 weight thread. It comes in some lovely variegated colors and doesn’t shed a lot of lint. The only hand quilting I’ve done is big stitch quilting, and for that I’ve used both perle cotton and sashiko thread, although I prefer the sashiko. The brand I use is Olympus. For real quilting by hand you might want to try a slightly heavier regular thread, like a 28 weight, which would show your stitches more than a lighter one would.

      Welcome to the quilting world! It’s a lovely hobby. I like that I can pick it up and put it down as the mood strikes me, or even put a project away for a few months if I get tired of it or frustrated with it. It satisfies both my puzzle-loving side and my artistic side. I admit that occasionally I just browse my fabric stash and look at all the pretty colors, especially in winter when things outside are drab, and daydream of the things I could make. Sometimes I pull out a few fabrics and start a new top, and sometimes I just close the doors and walk away.

    3. Lizabeth*

      I highly recommend Superior Threads website! They are my go to when I have questions about thread etc…they have an extensive educational section.

    4. LALinda*

      Quilter of all techniques here! Thread is rated by weight, which is determined by how many yards of thread it takes to measure a set weight (like a gram). A higher weight number correlates to a thinner thread, so 40 weight thread is thicker than 60 weight. Piecing is best with a 40 or 50 weight thread in a matching or neutral color so the piecing thread doesn’t show in the seams when pressed open. Polyester thread is much stronger than cotton thread and is available in many more colors. Thread used for quilting by hand depends on the look you want and how small your stitches are. Thinner thread is better for tiny stitches and thicker thread is better for a decorative look and when you want a contrasting color thread. Machine quilting thread recommendations can run the gamut of thick 25 weight decorative or variegated thread to 100 weight thread that melts into the fabric and shows only texture. My favorite threads are from Superior— So Fine (50 weight poly) for piecing and King Tut (40 wt. cotton), So Fine (50 wt. poly), BottomLine (60 wt. poly) and Microquilter (100 wt. poly) for quilting. Aurifil 50 weight thread probably is the most recommended piecing thread of hobby quilters (as opposed to professional quilters. Yes, there are professional quilters in the 3.6 billion-dollar-a-year quilting industry.) Have a great time!

    5. Boots from CA*

      Usually I lurk, however, had to comment on this topic! – Welcome to the quilting world. The hobby has saved me many times – sometimes it is the only thing in my life that I have absolute control over !
      Thread choice is truly a rabbit hole – There are many things to consider about thread choice, here’s what I’ve concluded for myself (years of machine piecing and (mostly) machine quilting):
      1) Piecing: 40-50 weight thread, cotton (with cotton fabric) in a neutral color , as already recommended. I use either 50 Wt Mettler (3-ply) and Aurifil 50wt (2-ply), both cotton. To me, the Aurifil 50 wt 2-ply is just a little bit thinner and so doesn’t take up room in each seam – so you’ll get slightly more accurate piecing. There is not much difference between the 2-ply Aurifil and the 3 ply Mettler in terms of strength. Also to note is the Aurifil has less “fuzz” to shed into the inner workings of your machine. (less fuzz = less time having to stop and clear our your machine innards.) This becomes important re: sewing machine maintenance. If you have a fancier machine, the manufacturer will likely have a recommendation on thread.
      2) Don’t do much hand quilting, but when I do, I use Gutermann that is specially made for hand piecing – it has a “coating” that will help let the thread glide through your fabric. **Special warning, in case you hadn’t heard – DO NOT use HAND quilting thread in your sewing machine** – the coating for hand quilting will eventually come off inside your machine and your machine will hate you.
      For Machine quilting, Have used King Tut, Madera, and Superior with good results; agree with the other recommendations in this chain. I’m on a quilting thread diet right now, as I received a large selection of Mettler thread ( 50Wt) that I have been using for quilting. (Want to whittle down my collection before I buy more – Have about 100 spools to work my way through…Thread does age, so you don’t want to keep it around forever and ever – it will break more easily, loose color, etc.)
      3) Don’t use many poly threads, others have shared good information about these.
      Other points to consider:
      -If you don’t have hand quilting thread, you can use thread conditioner on standard thread to make it glide more easily. The conditioners can be beeswax or silicone. Highly recommend if you don’t want to run out to get hand quilting thread.
      – The size thread will help determine the size needle you will need – There’s lots of info on THAT topic – and a separate rabbit hole to explore!
      Good Luck!

    6. Llellayena*

      I’m simple in my thread choice, and since you go through so much of it I tend to go for less expensive options. So I use the basic Coats and Clark for everything associated with my home machine. I don’t do hand quilting. I have picked up other threads for top stitching when I’ve wanted a specific effect (read:shiny!), but it’s selected by color and look, not type. I haven’t had problems yet with poly thread on cotton fabric. For the long-arm, I’m using someone else’s machine so I use whatever they tell me to use because those machines can be picky.

  12. Sep2020*

    My mom’s received a debt collection letter listing paypal, inc. as the creditor. I live with her and know that she did not accumulate this debt. My mom speaks very limited english so I will have to contact the collection agency for her.
    What would you do if you were me?
    I plan to write to them asking for the name and address of the original creditor. Once i have the original creditor info I will contact them to see what’s the fund used for and when.
    I dont even know how a paypal account works. Thanks for you advice.

    1. Anonosaurus*

      I’d check out debt recovery law where you live first, and try to find a free legal clinic (something like citizens advice in the UK). There are sometimes standard letters and things you can download but make sure the advice is specific to your jurisdiction first.

      Also, I’d validate the collection agency first. Make sure it isn’t just a scam. I can’t see how your mom could owe PayPal without having an account with them.

    2. AGD*

      It sounds like a total scam calling itself ‘PayPal’ to try to seem legitimate. (Does PayPal even do credit? I’ve had an account for at least a decade and never heard of that option.) If you do contact them to check, I’d say start at their website rather than any information listed in the letter (which is, at a guess, completely bogus).

      1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        Paypal does do lines of credit but you’d have to apply for one. It’s possible someone stole her Social Security number or other identifying info and opened an account in her name. See if you can access her credit reports and look for other open lines of credit that you don’t know about. If you find evidence that someone has done this, that’s a crime and you should file a police report as well as putting in a security freeze with the credit reporting agencies and contacting the other creditors to explain that this was fraud.

        Links in a following comment.

    3. Quandong*

      In addition to suggestions from other posters I highly recommend getting a credit check for your mother.

      Also, it might be worth finding out how to check if your mother is a victim of identity theft, for peace of mind. I really hope this is not the situation and that this is just a onc-off scam.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If you are in the US you are entitled to a free credit report once a year. Since there are 3 agencies you can get 3 reports. Some people space out the reports so they have one every 4 months.

        1. ThatGirl*

          A lot of credit card companies offer regular monitoring and CreditKarma is a free service that provides monitoring and estimated scores. It’s helpful to get the full report but I’d also recommend CreditKarma for more regular updates.

        2. Aphrodite*

          Actually, during COVID, all three credit reporting agencies are offering free credit reports every week. Go here for them: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action

          Also, I have frozen all three of my accounts at the agencies (Experian, which also has a lock on it, TransUnion and Equifax). It is easy to do and I highly recommend it. Be sure to do that for future protection.

          If your mom’s information has been stolen you can also put a 0ne-year notice in her accounts. Go to each of the agencies’ websites. They are good about letting your know all your options.

    4. BRR*

      In addition to running her credit report, which Id do first to see if this was a case of identity theft or a scam, Id look up collection laws in your area. There are rules about when they can call and such. I’d also prepare your mom for possible phone calls.

      1. FalafalBella*

        If this letter was not sent via registered or certified mail, strong odds this is a complete scam and they count on people panicking and sending in some money. I would ignore it – if it is legitimate, the company will send another one. I would, as others have said, check your credit report with one of the three Large credit agencies to make certain someone is not using her identity. Also, do not call the number in the letter purporting to be PayPal if you decide to contact them. Look up the contact info for PayPal yourself to make sure you are speaking with PayPal and not some scam artist claiming to be PayPal.

        1. Natalie*

          Debt collection letters are usually sent through regular mail, in my experience. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t validate the debt, but the fact that the letter wasn’t registered is meaningless.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think my first step would be to pull her credit report, and unless this exact debt is listed on there, I wouldn’t even continue worrying about it – I’d chalk it up as a scam.

    6. Kuododi*

      I’d bet a nickel it’s a total scam. I regularly get “collection” emails/ robocalls from PayPal, Netflix, Dept of social security supposed to be working with Justice Department to address fraudulent activity. (Threatened to cancel my SS#) and occasionally the IRS.

      I find it giggle worthy. Then I will bump email to Spam hell and hang up on the phone calls.

      If your mother would feel more comfortable pursuing the matter, I would recommend the first place to start is to contact these people and insist they provide you a full printout of this “debt” she supposedly accrued. That will go along way to clarify the nature and source of the problem. Also get a copy of your mom’s credit report. (Entitled to one free copy per year) That will allow you to check on the off chance she’s been a victim of ID theft. If that’s actually the case make sure the credit agencies flag her reports for suspicion of fraudulent activity.

      My very best wishes to you and your mother. Kuododi

      1. Dan*

        Email = scam, letter in the mail = legit. I read OP’s use of “letter” as something in the mail which concerns me a little more. But emails that read like they were written by someone without a good command of the English language? Total ignore.

    7. Dan*

      The downside to thinking this is a scam and blowing it off is that if the collection attempt is actually legit, then ignoring it will just make things worse. Once a collection notice is sent out, you’ve got thirty days to dispute it *in writing*. If it’s ignored, then the collection item goes on the credit report. If your mom has otherwise good credit, this can really tank her scores, collection items aren’t taken lightly. The worst thing is that even if you pay the debt after it shows up on the report as a collection item, the score doesn’t actually improve, and the collection item will sit there for 7 years. So do not ignore this, you need to follow up on it. There’s language you can find online that you want to use in your dispute.

      The other thing is… sending out fake collection notices isn’t a well known scam. Scammers aren’t known for sending out letters via the US Post Office (too much work, and you have to buy stamps). So if the letter reads like it was written by a native English speaker and contains the phrase “this is an attempt to collect a debt”, it’s probably legit.

      My ex doesn’t like to pay her bills, and I have collection agencies call me looking for her. Sometimes they’re really vague calls. As much as I don’t want to follow up on them, I have to for two reasons. One, if she opens up lines in my name, well… Two is for job reasons, I can’t have a messed up credit report. Sometimes when I call these places, they start asking me for all kinds of identifying information. Once they go down that path, I explain that I’m returning a call *they* made, and they should have that info on file. I’m not giving out all kinds of identifying information to random strangers, and they’re nuts if they think otherwise. The upshot though is if they’re looking for my ex, my male voice is a reasonable indicator isn’t that of someone with a traditionally female name.

    8. Katefish*

      On the off chance they’re not just total scammers: If you’re in the US, the federal FDCPA requires creditors to validate debts, upon written request of a consumer (i.e. prove they have the right person and the right to collect). Send them a letter/email asking them to validate the debt under the FDCPA and say your mother doesn’t have any record if this account. I wouldn’t bother with this step if it’s a one off/seems scammy. You’ll get more than one notice if this is a real debt owed by someone with your mom’s name.

    9. Sep2020*

      Thank you all for you advice. I will pull my mom’ s credit report first, then contact PayPal for a full printout of this debt.

  13. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    Add to the book suggestion: has anyone read the “Coma Girl” series? Really enjoyable!

    1. GoryDetails*

      Re “Coma Girl” – hadn’t heard of that; sounds very quirky indeed! A tragic premise, young woman winds up in a coma – but she’s able to hear what’s being said around her (which makes it sound more like locked-in syndrome, something that’s among my worst nightmares), and finds out lots of things about loved ones that perhaps she’d rather not know… I think it’s only available on e-book, right? Would probably check it out if there were print copies; while I do sometimes read e-books I prefer the printed page.

      Some suggestions of my own:

      JACKALOPE WIVES AND OTHER STORIES by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon): a truly delightful collection of stories, including several set in what seems like the historic American west but has hints of post-apocalyptic background and impressive doses of actual magic. (In one, the railroads have become local gods, using the descendants of the people who died in their construction as avatars.) There’s a recurring character who’s a feisty, aging witch very much akin to Pratchett’s Granny Weatherwax, and other stories that range from humor to horror – really good collection!

      And for those who, like me, rather enjoy distracting ourselves from real-world issues by reading about epic catastrophes, there’s THE LAST DOG ON EARTH by Adrian J. Walker (author of the marvelous “End of the World Running Club” books): this one has a different catastrophe, nuclear war rather than meteor swarms, but it leaves the protagonists (a dog, who does the majority of the narrating, and his owner, whose thoughts are rather different from those of his pet) in dire straits. Interesting mix of horror and humor.

      Also enjoying the manga series DRIFTING DRAGONS (which has an anime adaptation on Netflix): it’s basically steampunk sky-whalers who use a dirigible to hunt the flying/floating “dragons” for oil and meat. The dragons don’t look like traditional dragons at all (despite some cover-art suggesting otherwise) – they’re more like huge deep-sea creatures melded with eldritch horrors – though the parallels with real-world whaling make them more sympathetic even though the human characters all see them as either threats or (delicious) prey…

    2. Bluebell*

      All of the Stephanie Bond serials are light and fun. I’ve read a few of them, and am contemplating shelling out for Lottery Girl. They pretty much operate on the same arc, but sometimes you just want that comfort reading.

      1. TexasRose*

        The comfort reading I’m enjoying right now is the Donna Andrews cross-genre series about the blacksmith Meg Langslow. The series has won multiple mystery and romance awards, and the 25th book in the series (_The Hawk Always Wings Twice_) just came out this summer. The series may be too light for some, and you definitely have to enjoy the quirks of a large and interconnected family, and appreciate small town Southern living (set sometimes in Virginia, and sometimes in nearby states). Best read in sequence, starting with _Murder with Peacocks_. Within the series, different books have the following settings: undercover in the family software business; attending a convention where her husband is a featured guest for his short-lived role in a cult fantasy (sword-n-sorcery) TV series; revolutionary war re-enactment; a town-wide yard sale; occupying the town buildings that were illegally mortgaged by greedy politicians; organizing a house show as a Christmas charity fund-raiser; and a feral emu round-up. (Yes, Virginia apparently HAS a feral emu situation.)

        1. GoryDetails*

          Oh, I do like Donna Andrews! My favorite of the Meg Langslow books is “We’ll Always Have Parrots”, but they’re all a lot of fun – though sometimes it seems that Meg’s turning her increasingly-huge extended family-and-friend circle into one multi-state animal-rescue and crime-solving consortium!

    3. MsChanandlerBong*

      I love Stephanie Bond, especially her Body Movers series. I happened to meet her at Book Expo America a while back, and she is absolutely lovely in person, so I buy all of her stuff pretty much as soon as it comes out.

  14. AGD*

    Alison, you’ve inspired me to take another shot at crochet! I’ve been knitting for more than a decade but only ever made one even semi-respectable attempt at this. At any rate, I bought an introductory book and am working through it now, a little at a time. I might get over the learning curve this time! Taking YouTube channel recommendations if anyone has any.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Naztazia has a lot of easy to follow tutorials, from beginner to advanced. Iirc she even has a left-handed basic tutorial.

    2. Lifelong student*

      The Crochet Crowd and Fiber Spider are both great. The Crochet Crowd also has a website with written patterns as well as videos. I find using the two types of media together helps a lot in learning new stitches and in learning how to read patterns.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yay! I am still really enjoying it. I’m working on this blanket, which is much more interesting than anything I’d done yet. I’m especially liking the bobbles.

      https://www.mamainastitch.com/chunky-sampler-blanket-crochet-pattern-wintertide-throw/

      I do have a crocheting question (as usual)! While working on this blanket, I noticed that I somehow messed up a chain stitch many rows back. Instead of having a normal stitch in the chain on the row, I have a single thread of yarn there. (I can take a photo if it’s not clear what I mean.) Is there any way to fix it after the fact (without ripping out, which I have already done too much of)?

      1. Pucci*

        Is it super obvious? Does it mess up future rows? If not, just embrace the mistake.

        A different philosophy is that if on three separate occasions it really bothers you, it is worth it to rip back and fix it.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        For fixing a stitch many rows back, sew with a single length of yarn and a yarn sewing needle to mimic the look of the normal stitch. It might take a couple of tries to get the look you want, so leave a long tail of yarn instead of securely attaching the yarn to the blanket at first. Once you have the look you want, weave in the loose ends of the yarn. You’d be surprised how effective this “patch job” can look!
        I love your pattern!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        If it’s not really noticeable and it hasn’t thrown off your stitch count, I might be tempted to leave it.

        But sometimes an error just bugs me to no end. If I know that for years to come that error will stand out like a sore thumb to me, then I have to go back and fix it.

      4. Germank106*

        Chances are that you probably just picked up part of a stitch and not all the plies. That happens. If it bugs you a lot you can do what Wishing You Well suggested and just tack the piece of yarn down with some thread. If it doesn’t bother you, just call it a design feature.
        I’m finally finished with the blanket for my SIL. I will never use the “I wanna make a blankie” yarn again. SIL loves it, so it’s all good. Now I have another week to work on socks for the diaper brigade.

        https://imgur.com/a/BzQsNMk

    4. Tortally HareBrained*

      Although this isn’t a YouTube channel I really liked the way The Crochet Guru worked through the process of learning to crochet, the site has lots of videos and it was my primary resource when I learned.

      https://www.crochetguru.com/

  15. Director of Alpaca Exams*

    I have a sad question about a pet’s terminal illness. Putting it in a thread so people can easily collapse and skip past.

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Our cat is nearing the end of her days. Because of covid, our vet is only doing drop-off appointments for regular matters. However, we obviously want to be with our cat for the final appointment. Has anyone done this in the covid era? Do vets make house calls now? (I think we’d prefer this to happen at the vet’s office rather than our house, if possible.) What should we expect?

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Personally I’d say the end of a pet’s life is hardly a regular matter, and any sensible vet should know that. Have you tried contacting your vet to ask how they would handle this?

        1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          I sent an email but got an auto-reply saying they’re getting lots of emails right now and responses may take a day or two. I’ll try calling during business hours.

          I figured the answer would probably be “It varies, call your vet,” but right now it’s 5 a.m. and I haven’t slept and my head is full of sad bees, and I was just hoping maybe someone here would happen to have some useful info that would help quiet the buzzing so I could go to bed.

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            Last year or so some vets in my country gave an interview in which they stated they actually prefer the owners to be present, because otherwise the pet’s last moments will be very confused, with pets frantically looking around trying to find their owner (the vets did understand why some people would rather not be present, but that’s their experience). So I think you should be okay.

              1. A.N. O'Nyme*

                I suppose a lot depends on the individual pet – I’d imagine some pets have stronger separation anxiety than others. And unlike the meme you reference below they weren’t judging owners (letting go of a pet is a big deal and they made it clear they perfectly understand not everyone can deal with that).

        2. Sleepless*

          Sadly, no matter how sensible we are, we are just as susceptible to COVID as any other human, and just as likely to be asymptomatic carriers that could spread it to pet owners, and that risk does not go down even for a euthanasia appointment.

          I’m sorry, I know that sounds snarky. It has been an extremely difficult six months for us, as it has for everyone. I’ve just had so many people who are indignant that we are taking the same precautions as every other human.

          1. Dog and cat fosterer*

            Masks can be worn indoors and hands washed, so I think it’s reasonable to ask if someone familiar can be present when an animal is euthanised. My cat had a stroke with seizures and I had to euthanize him suddenly, and I was the only one who could handle him (and even then I struggled). Thankfully it was pre COVID, but I needed to be there for my own peace of mind and the safety of the staff.

      2. BlueScarf*

        I’m so sorry for you and your cat. Most vets are letting people in for euthanasias. My sister had to put her dog down a couple months ago, and they brought her in for that. Call and see. If your regular vet doesn’t do it, I don’t think you have to be an existing client for it, so you can ask around.

      3. Whiskey on the rocks*

        Details ahead and apologies if it’s too much…

        I think our vet is making an exception for this, but I was opposite… at the end of March, I wanted to let my dog go at home rather than give him the trauma of a vet visit in his last moments. (Besides not loving the vet hospital itself, he was very big but barely able to walk. Trying to get him in the car for an emergency visit some weeks prior traumatized us both, I think.) Our vet gave us the names of two places that offer this in-home service; one was an actual business and the other was a vet. We live in a rural-ish area so house calls still happen. We took him into the yard to lay under a tree and I held him in my lap while the vet gave him a shot to put him to sleep and then another to euthanize him. She and her assistant were so kind. They wrapped him in a sheet (they kindly suggested I go in the house for that part) and took him to be cremated. He was returned to us about a week later.

        I’m glad we did it at home. He was calm and comfortable. I was not calm but then I didnt have to deal with being in public or trying to drive home.

        I’m sorry about your cat.

        1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          It sounds like that made the best sense for you, and I’m so glad you could do it that way. I’m sorry for your loss.

          Our situation is the opposite… we’re in a city and would take a cab there and back, so no worries about driving, and I think it’s unlikely house calls are happening here. Our cat doesn’t generally mind the trip or the vet. I have a very strong visual/association memory and would indelibly associate that event with the house, which is especially hard when we’re all mostly stuck in the house right now. And we have a small child and two other cats, so anything happening at home would not be calm or peaceful and we’d be very distracted. So if we can go to the vet’s office, that would be our preference.

          1. Whiskey on the rocks*

            That makes sense. It’s definitely taking longer to get responses from the vet right now, for just about anything, but I hope they can give you some answers so you can decide what to do. It’s hard all the way around.

        2. Anax*

          My folks did the same at-home service for my childhood dog last week; he’s buried with the cat under the cherry tree, now. Old age for both, though it’s hard not to have been able to see them in the last couple years.

          I know this isn’t your preference, Director, but just in case it might be useful to someone else – it does sound like those services are largely uninterrupted by the pandemic. https://inhomepeteuthanasia.com/ seems to be a decent listing, or a vet’s office might have recommendations.

      4. NRG*

        The vet we use for our cats specifically states on their website that people are allowed in for euthanasia visits. Nearly all other matters are drop off only. Since you are up anyway, maybe poke around their website if they have one. Our vet’s website is very well designed and kept up to date compared to others in town, though, so ymmv.

      5. mreasy*

        I’m sorry to say that I have let a beloved cat go during covid, and the vet made an exception to the rule and let me into the room during the procedure. I would confirm with them that they will allow this, but I would hope any vets are compassionate enough to provide for this. I’m so sorry you’re facing this.

        1. Cat Herder*

          I’m sorry everyone’s pets.
          I had to let a cat go as well, in June. I was able to go into the vet to be with him.

      6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I had a friend who was in a similar position earlier in the pandemic, albeit with a dog. Our vet also does boarding so they have a bit of a fenced yard, and the weather was such that they went out in the vet’s yard to both be safer for all the people and also to give the dog a much nicer environment than inside the office for their last moments. (But it was enclosed so random vet-goers weren’t SURPRISE walking into it.) I don’t know that translates well to cats exactly, but basically, a good vet will try their best to be accommodating.

      7. Aza*

        There are some special services for in home euthenasia. It probably varies by company what they’re doing in the age of covid. I would just Google in home euthenasia. We used a service a few years ago and it was the best of a bad situation.

      8. Mystery fan*

        I’m so very sorry. We unfortunately had a recent experience with this and we were both able to be with our cat and hold her when it happened. I don’t know what I would have done if they said we couldn’t be there. Even though she was very sick she was clearly so glad to see us when they brought her into the exam room (they took her in the back to place the IV line). She perked right up when she saw us which made me cry more but also made me so glad we were there because she needed us. That is just my experience and I know everyone has their own feelings/needs in such a difficult situation but for us it worked out as well as it could.

      9. Generic Name*

        I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. We had to put our elderly dog down recently, and we used a mobile vet service called “Lap of Love”. I think they have branches/franchises across the country. They came to our house (everyone wore masks- it’s kind of uncomfortable to cry in a mask) and did the procedure outside. Our dog loved the outdoors, so it was comforting to him. Our other dog was able to roam around and see what was happening and sniff his body. I highly recommend it, and I think we would use that method again for any of our other pets, even not during a pandemic.

      10. I'm A Little Teapot*

        I had a cat die at the beginning of May, unexpectedly from cancer. I did not go into the vet’s office. In that specific case, I wasn’t as upset because I’d only adopted the cat 6 months prior so I wasn’t hugely attached to her.

        There are vets that will come to the house. And since it’s not May and this is not a regular appointment, your vet may be willing to make an exception. You’d have to ask.

      11. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        We had our cat put to sleep in May due to kidney failure. The animal hospital we took her to would allow one person inside for the procedure, but they had the option of doing it in their outdoor memorial garden where you could have the whole family there. It was actually quite beautiful and peaceful, although crying your eyes out while fully masked isn’t very pleasant.

        I have some friends who are/work with vets, and most are allowing one or two people in, masks required of course.

      12. CC*

        My vet is only letting 1 family member in for euthanasia.

        I ended up having a service called “Peaceful Passages” come & they did it in the backyard with the full family present (since they were not doing inside due to Covid). It was much less stressful for everyone than only one person getting to go at the vet’s office (& my dog didn’t mind going to the vet).

      13. Paige*

        My dog actually passed a few months ago. Our vet had us go into a room with just us and him to say our goodbyes (mask worn and required for everyone). They let us be with him in his final moments if we chose to be. I hope that your vet can do the same.

      14. OTGW*

        I might be late to reply, but we put our cat down in August. Only two people were allowed to go in, so me and my mom did, and we stayed in the room the whole time. We were required to wear a mask, but were able to pull it down a little to give my cat some kisses goodbye.
        I’m really sorry for your loss.

      15. Firecat*

        Sorry about your kitty. I would let your vet know your wish, and offer to mask up and what else would they want? Most Vets prefer owners to be there if the tough decision to put down is made.

      16. I Never Remember My Name Here*

        I haven’t read many replies, but we just went through this. Our area has several veterinary services that do house calls, specializing in the final days (hospice, eutheanasia, etc.), I was able to Google to find the names and then check our local FB groups for reviews and recommendations.

        We scheduled the time for our girl (dog, advanced lymphoma), and the vet came to our home, stayed masked up, and I was able to hold her close while she went. The vet was amazingly kind, provided a hair clipping and a paw print, and while they also offered cremation services, our local funeral home does as well and for various reasons I chose them.

        For us, doing it at home allowed our other two dogs to “say goodbye” – they don’t get closure so much as they immediately realize what’s happened, rather than their friend/pack member going out the front door and never coming back; I wasn’t sure I could handle them continuing to look for her. My beagle is still in a state of depression and that’s hard enough.

        I’m sorry about your kitty, it’s a terrible time without also dealing with the loss of a loved one.

    2. nep*

      So sorry for your situation. I hope your vet office will accommodate you so you can resolve things peacefully for all.

    3. nep*

      So sorry for your situation, Director. Hope your vet office will accommodate you to resolve this in a way that’s as peaceful as possible for all.

    4. Sleepless*

      We’ve been allowing people in the building for euthanasias. I want to give people that option if I can. It’s difficult, because no matter how I try to maintain social distance, I usually end up coming up quite close to the owner at least once, and invariably that is when they will suddenly yank their mask off and start sobbing. If I get COVID, that is where I assume I will get it.

      If you choose not to be present, I know that there is a meme that keep circulating on social media about how horrible it is for a pet owner not to choose to be present with their pet when they are euthanized, but the pets really seem fine either way. The pets really do not seem anxious away from their owners in the hospital…whether it’s for euthanasia, a curbside exam, or hospitalization.

      1. Deanna Troi*

        I’m sorry that people are being irresponsible and taking off their nasks, especially when you have different rules allowing owners to come in during euthanasia. Thank you for what you do. It is greatly appreciated.

    5. LegallyRed*

      I’m so sorry for your pending loss. When it was our kitty’s time back in July, we were allowed to be there. (“We” meaning myself, my partner, and our teenager.) It was the only exception to their no visitor policy. It seems like that would not be uncommon.

    6. CatCat*

      I’m so sorry. When our kitty was nearing the end, our vet gave us info about a mobile vet service that can do in-home euthanasia. It’s called “Lap of Love” and they were wonderful and caring. Looks like they operate throughout the U.S. so could be worth looking into. So sorry <3

      1. Squeakrad*

        I would be surprised if your vet didn’t make an exception for euthanasia. It may be the only want to let one person in and not both of you if there’s more than one. It’s interesting that someone else has posted that owners tend to take their masks off and cry so maybe avoid doing that until you leave the office.

        While we will always choose to have our Cats euthanized at home if possible – none of our cats enjoyed going to the vet – I agree with you that it’s very stressful and the visuals can be hard to put out of your mind. Just as our cats didn’t ask to be born they didn’t ask to be ill so I wanted them to be as comfortable as possible.
        This isn’t a judgment at all – I’m just saying it was difficult to get over the images but given that our most recent baby cat really didn’t like going to the vet we felt it was important to do it at home. But that was before Covid Dash I can’t imagine what would happen if we were stuck in the house in that situation. So I hope you find a vet that you like that will let you come in the office and be with your cat. I’ve never had a cat – and I’ve had many — for whom I didn’t matter that I was there. Every single time they have reached out their paw or laid their head on my hand or some message to tell me that they knew it was OK
        OK I’m not crying you’re crying

    7. Cheshire Cat*

      Sadly, my son had to have his cat put to sleep last week. The vet doesn’t normally let “pet parents” in due to Covid but they made an exception for this.

    8. cat parent*

      I had to put my cat down in June and although all the visits leading to this unfortunate outcome were contactless where I could not come in, for euthansias, they had a special protocol where you could choose to be with your pet. We did all the paperwork ahead of time by phone/email and when I got there, they gave me a gown, new mask, gloves, hairnet, asked me health questions and took my temperature. They had a special route inside the facility someone escorted me through. My city was not in a good place in June at that time, but it felt safe to me. I really ended up interacting with only 2 people inside the person who took my temp and escorted me in and out and the vet, and we were distanced as well as both wearing full PPE. I am sorry about your cat.

    9. Laura*

      I haven’t read the other replies but I sadly have some experience. We lost our cat a few weeks ago and they did let me come in even though owners are not generally allowed in. I waited outdoors while they got him ready (put in iv catheter) and used a long iv to administer the drugs so the vet could stand 6 ft away (and we were both masked of course).

      The vet I used to work for would on occasion do at home euthanasias but only in specific cases- owner was unable to come in or couldn’t physically bring the animal in (I.e. clinic wasn’t wheelchair accessible or older person with a large dog unable to walk)
      Hope that helps! I’m sorry about your cat :(

    10. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Thank you all for the helpful info and kind words. Our vet will let us come in for this, and after they give the last injection, they’ll leave us alone with our cat and we can take our masks off when there’s no one else in the room (which is good, because crying in a mask is dreadful and my partner’s claustrophobic with masks as it is). So we’ve got an appointment for this afternoon and it will be as un-terrible as such a thing can be.

      All the love to everyone dealing with similar grief right now. <3

      1. Sleepless*

        I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad you were/are (not sure of timeline) able to be with your baby. Thinking of you.

  16. FrenchFry*

    How do you deal with therapy when you don’t trust mental health professionals? I had a traumatic experience when I was involuntarily committed as a child. I won’t go into details, but it’s made it hard for me to trust all doctors, especially psychiatrists and therapists. I have been to a few therapists since then, but they were all either bad or a bad fit, and I never really worked on my mental health problems with them. I mostly just vented about day to day frustrations and family conflicts.

    I hit a turning point when I decided to work on my issues with one therapist I had started to trust and she dropped the ball. She wasn’t awful or anything; I actually liked her a lot. I had had some misgivings about the things she said for a while and then she said the wrong thing at the wrong time. Something snapped. It was like the gash had been reopened. I realized I wasn’t just distrustful and anxious about MHPs, but downright enraged at them and the field of psychiatry itself and how dehumanizing, paternalistic, patronizing, and woo-like it is.

    Now, thanks to Covid, I have been struggling with the worst depression of my life, bad enough that I’ve thought about maybe getting some help, but also bad enough that I’m worried that if I tell anyone how bad things are, they’ll involuntarily commit me again. I know my job is a big part of my stress, so I contacted a local vocational rehab agency and they said I needed not only a recent diagnosis of a disability, but if it’s mental, I have to go to therapy regularly (and pay for it myself) to receive their services. (Which is bullshit. You don’t have to be going to physical therapy if you’re physically disabled.) Still, I really could use their help in finding a new job, as not only do they have access to disability-friendly jobs that don’t get listed on job boards, they also offer job training and other assistance.

    I’ve been waffling about this for a while. I am almost compulsively honest, so if I go in there, I’ll probably end up telling them about the situation. I don’t want them to have leverage over me, either by threatening to commit me or refusing to verify my attendance with voc rehab if I don’t follow their treatments. I’m also not thrilled at the idea of paying $100+ in copays every month so I can talk about nothing to someone I don’t want to talk to anyway. Additionally, the middle of a job search seems like a bad time to be revisiting childhood traumas. I feel like if I let someone start poking around in those parts, I’m going to be such a wreck I won’t be able to work. Still, I was thinking about going in before I contacted voc rehab, so… I don’t know.

    Any advice?

    1. Cubicle_queen*

      I don’t have a similar situation, but I did struggle to pick up therapy after having such dissatisfying experiences with our EAP for a few different things (the last of which was prime quarantine/pandemic time), but knowing that I could really use the help. I looked up in my area on psychology.com & picked the person who had the most approachable spiel and who looked similar to an older friend. I thought a lot about who I would feel most comfortable talking to, appearance-wise.

      I also had a lot of reluctance about about investing & then it not working out. A podcast I like is sponsored by BetterHelp, and they promote that you can switch out providers at any time—which was really appealing to me. If I couldn’t find someone local, that would have been my next step.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I read somewhere that BetterHelp’s providers don’t have to be trained or licensed, though. They could just be anyone who wants to play therapist for some gig worker bucks.

        1. PollyQ*

          Their web site, including their requirements on their available jobs page, says otherwise.

          Licensed by a State Board to provide counseling (e.g., LCSW, LMFT, LPC, PsyD or similar credentials).
          NOTE: Unfortunately, if you are an intern or if you require supervision to provide counseling services, you cannot be a provider at BetterHelp at this time. Also, we are unable to accept substance abuse counselors, school counselors, registered nurses, career counselors, Christian counselors and business/life coaches (unless they have an additional license as a mental health counselor).

          Not affiliated, just a googler.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I’m really sorry you’re dealing with that!

      I think the most effective way to approach it would be to make your first therapy goal not about the depression directly, but about dealing with the (completely valid) anger and lack of trust that are interfering with getting help for the depression.

      So, basically what you said here about your childhood experience and how it affected you. Learning how to find someone who is trustworthy. Learning how to establish safety gradually, before becoming completely vulnerable.

      I don’t know if that’s an approach you can work with, but it seems to me that treating the anger/trust as a distinct problem and addressing it first, is going to both help ease your stress and allow more direct & effective treatment of the depression later on.

      Otherwise, you’ll try addressing the depression and keep running into the anger as a roadblock.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      Can you find a NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) chapter near you? It is really a peer organization so you will find others who have been through the process of needing mental health and they might have recommendations for local doctors and support for you as you look for one.

    4. pieforbreakfast*

      I’m sorry at what happened to you as a child and the trauma that is affecting you now. If seeing a professional seems overwhelming right now I would look for a support group, NAMI or the Trauma Survivors Network are two resource that come to mind. This may help you get comfortable talking about yourself and what you need and get you to a place where speaking to a professional isn’t so scary.
      Also involuntary commitment for an adult has an incredibly high bar to meet, 1000x higher than for a child.

    5. JC Books*

      My heart goes out to you! Depression and trauma are a heavy burden to carry around. Do not give up on seeking the right treatment. You are not alone! I found help through New Life Live. (1-800-new life )
      They have incredible resources that they can connect you to for help. You can be anonymous and just get some advice on how to navigate the process to get disability. They do not judge.
      Virtual positive thoughts to you! Take care.

    6. Venus*

      There are therapists who specialize in helping people who have been abused by the medical system. I don’t know how to find one in your city, but my friend found one (looking at references online and asking around for suggestions?) and it changed his life. The therapists (it was a group practice with different specialties – one discussed past history while another worked on coping skills) had suggestions that were specifically helpful to his past experiences, and as he improved he was able to get medical treatment for things that had been a problem for years so now he’s physically and mentally much healthier five years later.

      It is possible!

    7. It’s me AV*

      I’ve areplied to another comment below about finding a therapist that’s right for you – which can be a process even without past associated trauma – for me looking up local therapists’ profiles on Psychology Today was a starting point for finding a good fit, based on their description of their therapeutic approach.

      What I’d suggest to you is to approach this from the point of view that yes you need help from the therapist, but you have the power as the client to decide if they are or aren’t actually helping you.

      Have a phone conversation when you make the initial appointment and explain directly where you are coming from and what you are looking for.

      I’ve also had therapists where it was just me venting and getting nothing useful back, and feeling stuck. So when I started with my current therapist I explicitly told her that I’ve had those experiences and I’m looking for something different; I wanted constructive conversations and feedback, and she confirmed that that is part of her approach.

      So when you call, absolutely tell them that you need focused help on your current depression and work stress, and do not want to revisit childhood trauma at this time. Mention your fear of involuntary commitment. Their reaction will let you know if they have the right approach, and you’ll be able to get a feel for whether they are responsive to your needs and if you like their attitude.

      The right person will work with you in a positive way and not make you feel like they hold power over you. If you meet with them and you don’t get a good feeling, don’t go back. As an adult client you have a lot more agency than as a child.

      I’m sorry you had those terrible experiences and I hope you find someone who is helpful to you now!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Would it be helpful to break this into parts? If today is a 5 alarm fire of upheaval, it almost seems impractical to sort what happened years ago at this moment. It could be like throwing gasoline in an already 5 alarm fire. I am almost thinking that maybe your best bet is to get a plan to help you through current time.

      In my area at least voc rehab is not what it should be. You’d be better off working at things on your own as much as you can. It might be better in your area, it is possible I am mistaken. People who hire folks usually hire them temporarily. They are not paid much. These employers love to brag that offer opportunities to those who have disabilities, it’s great PR. Yeah, and it’s also much cheaper in the budget. The job boards here probably consist of a list of employers who routinely need a supply of seasonal help. These same employers have been doing business with voc rehab for decades this way. They don’t advertise else where because they don’t need to. Once on disability, the counselors will advise people not to make too much money because people will lose their “free money”.

      I am not sure what advantages accessing their job boards will bring you. I spent a decade in an adjacent arena so I had plenty of opportunity to see what is going on. I did not see people getting to select their jobs- they were told where they would be working. I saw a lot of minimum wage jobs in spots that were hard to fill such as cleaning restrooms. I grew very jaded about our systems and I think you can see why.

      Maybe you would get more out of a life coach. Maybe just getting to a better spot right now is enough of a goal.
      We can’t change our past but if similar things (or things that remind us of previous events) are still happening now, we can take some course of action.

    9. Health care person*

      I’m a therapist. Totally makes sense you would be so hesitant, given your past experiences. Here are some ideas:
      1. The American Psychological Association website has a lot of great resources and info. I just checked, and it has a link about ethics which you may find helpful, as well as good info on coping with and treating various psychological problems.
      2. In general (but check for where you are located), a psychologist, counselor or therapist cannot commit someone to hospital. Only a medical doctor can do it. Also the criteria for commitment for an adult are very stringent and difficult to meet. Your local mental health advocavy organization will know more about your area’s situation, of course.
      3. Depression treatment does not have to include therapy. Antidepressants are very much worth considering and they can be life-saving when they work. The APA website, above, plus probably NAMI, will also have good info on various treatment and self-help options. If you are taking meds, it is possible that a disability insurance company would not require therapy.
      4. Speaking of a therapy requirement, check with other voc rehab places, and, if possible, HR at your job, about your specific disability insurance coverage. Also, local disability/mental health advocacy organizations could be helpful to verify (or not) this information. Might or might not be true. It is less likely to be true if you are managing your mental health with a few days off here and there rather than a longer term leave from work, but check your local law/policies. If you are American, there is a lot of discussion of this on AAM of course.
      5. It is unethical in the extreme to withhold treatment attendance info to force patients to cooperate with treatment. Or to manipulate clients into treatment in any way. Big big grounds for complaint to the registering body of the physician/psychologist/therapist. An ethical treatment provider gives options for various treatment possibilities, discusses pros and cons, and provides info on likelihood of success of the options. If your therapist is unethical, stop working with them (they cannot make you stay), and consider making a complaint.
      6. Most therapists offer the option of a conversation to check for fit, goals, treatment choices before starting therapy. Great option to use.
      7. Depression treatment does not require that past trauma be discussed. It is usually not recommended to do in-depth trauma treatment when the person is otherwise not well (with depression, for example).
      8. Focusing on current symptoms of depression and ways to cope with/treat them is a perfectly reasonable therapy goal to set. Cognitive-behavioural therapists, for example, also tend to be more present-focused and to provide concrete ways to manage symptoms.
      9. A good therapist/psychologist/doctor will be happy to discuss the research evidence behind different treatment approaches. It is likely that they are ethically required to provide validated treatment options, but in any case, it is a perfectly reasonable question to ask.
      10. Your local crisis line is a good option for info on free/low-cost treatments and resources in your area. Also, IF YOU FEEL YOU MAY HURT YOURSELF, CALL THE CRISIS LINE. They can offer you some coping strategies in the moment as well as ways to otherwise get help.
      11. Oh yeah, if you need a psychological diagnosis, usually in North America a psychologist can do that, as well as your family doctor or other medical doctor. Usually therapists/counsellors are not legally able to provide a diagnosis. Disability/mental health advocacy organizations in your area will know the local rules for you. It might also be in the general benefits and disability coverage booklet/website at your work (e.g., for x situation, you will need x form completed and it needs to be done by a medical doctor or psychologist).

      GOOD LUCK!

    10. LGC*

      Normally, I’d say get a therapist, but…that’s not going to work if your problem is with therapists in general!

      I’d probably suggest – if you have someone trusted in your life – that you talk to them about your hesitancy and ask them if they can provide support for you (like – by being in the waiting room for your first appointment). Aside from that, doing some homework and finding therapists that have experience with people like you who’ve been traumatized by the medical system is a VERY good idea, and probably necessary.

      Also, I think you’re definitely right that you shouldn’t try to address your childhood trauma right now. The good news is that a good therapist will not force you to do so, even if and when it comes out in session.

      That said – you’re probably going to hate me for saying this, but you might benefit from a psychiatrist over a psychologist or a therapist. (The difference being that a psychiatrist is a doctor, and can prescribe medications.) From my experience, my psychiatrist mostly worked with me on whether I was clinically depressed (I was) and what medications worked for me (this was a bunch of trial and error). You might need a referral – so you might need to go to your PCP/GP for that. In my case, I’d already been in therapy, so my therapist (who was part of a larger agency) hooked me up with the agency’s psychiatrist.

    11. Anon for this one*

      I was briefly institutionalized at age 5. I was just old enough to understand what I was looking at – it was a roach motel. Children go in, they don’t come out. My birth mother went to jail, relatives claimed me, but I still had years of therapy ahead of me. I dutifully went in every week and got prodded. Am I a happy child who deserves a family, or should I go back in THERE with the other broken children?

      Rage, hatred, and shame? Check. I get it. And in my late 20s, I had a work-related situational depression that I eventually had to admit was beyond my own abilities to deal with.

      Here’s how I handled it. I went to my GP and asked for SSRIs. They may just hand it over. Mine required me to consult with a psychiatrist. That was mostly to confirm that I wasn’t actively suicidal, which I was not. It wasn’t terribly intensive; I went in twice, and then once more as I weaned off. I was asked to do some reading, which is a good idea anyway. I read “Feeling Good” by David Burns, and it’s a good, practical guide to self-therapy.

      If you’re an active danger to yourself or others, better to admit it – committed is better than dead. But if you’re not at that point, you’re not at all suicidal, you’re just having trouble coping. Period. They won’t commit you if you don’t say the S word, and you’re in control over whether you say it.

    12. Rosie*

      Hi, I’m coming to this late but wanted to mention arts therapies, such as drama, art and music therapy (I’m a music therapist). You might find these more accessible as you don’t have to talk about anything in depth if you don’t want to, and as they’re more interactive you may feel more in control. It might also satisfy the requirement of the agency. Alternatively I’ll echo what Health Care Person said below that CBT might be helpful – it’s generally here-and-now and solution focused, and often you sign up for relatively short periods. Any good therapist should also be happy to have a conversation with you about their approach so you can decide if it’s for you. Best of luck

  17. Loopy*

    A friend and I spontaneously decided to make each other hygge kits and mail them to each other. Kind of like a subscription box of themed goodies but curated by someone who both knows and cares more about you!

    For example, my friend doesn’t like hot drinks, which is my #1 go-to comforting cold weather thing-so I wont include things like tea and cocoa in her box but I’m hoping for some in mine! For our project, we are trying to keep it to things that fit in a flat rate mailer box.

    I love the concept of hygge and am also always interested in people’s favorite cozy, comforting winter items. What are yours? Trying to get in the hygge mindset is hard because where I am it’s still hitting the mid-eighties! And always on the lookout for new cozy/hygge things to get for when it’s finally dark and moderately chilly here! (Link to hygge meaning to follow in a comment!)

    1. Loopy*

      I always feel like I fail at explaining hygge- so adding some links:

      https://www.visitdenmark.com/denmark/highlights/hygge/what-hygge

      But also,came across this to read later (I’m already running late and only skimmed it): https://mashable.com/article/hygge-scandinavian-lifestyle-trend/

      If I’m not really using the term right, please someone who knows more feel free to correct me as I probably do use it too loosely. I guess we are just making boxes of comforting, cozy items to cheer us up during winter months, but also ones that are personal to us, and sent by a loved friend, so now I’m curious how close to true hygge this is.

      1. Grapey*

        Hygge is a feeling of closeness to others and the idea of buying items just to create that feeling seems off to me personally. Seems like the term is a mental substitute for “cozy” things the way “minty fresh” sells toothpaste and is used as a mental substitute for “clean”. (Looking at “tourist hygge tours” at one of your links like WTF.) I’ve felt it just reading a card with a nice note from a friend, or sitting close with a loved one in a hospital room, or alone walking down a loud, cold, neon lit city street thinking about a conversation I had with a friend minutes ago – it’s about where your mind is and optionally if you have people with you sharing that mindset.

        Decorate the boxes and write nice notes and don’t overthink the contents would be my material advice!

        1. fads*

          I think that if I were buying things for myself it wouldn’t feel like anything but a friend who lives some distance away buying things she thinks you’ll like and will make you feel good – that would make me feel close to others!

        2. Loopy*

          Yes, the people and closeness part seems a big part of it from that second article and one aspect I rarely see represented! Of course, this year with covid still running rampant in the US where I am- sending hygge boxes IS as close to people-closeness as we can get. So I guess this box exchange is covid-hygge.

    2. Lena Clare*

      Oh what a lovely idea. I think I’ll do this for my friends’ birthdays next month! My hygge things would be books, a subscription to a health/ vegan cooking magazine, cruelty-free makeup, bubble bath, razors, and nice body lotion, new PJs, very posh filter coffee or tea leaves, a cozy blanket…
      My gosh such a long list!
      I really hate scented candles so wouldn’t like that in my hygge box.

      1. Loopy*

        I love how customizable some parts of hygge are since comforting and cozy means something different to everyone! I can never trust myself not to forget candles and often my very poor sense of smell has to be too close to really smell them- so I also would opt out on candles! But gosh, good winter pjs…..

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Oh man, awesome socks would go in mine. There are so many options there, I’d probably be happy just getting a box full of socks, though that would be true for tea, too. I bake quite a bit, so something fun and easy for the oven that would make the house smell delicious and feel toasty warm would probably also tickle my fancy. Maybe spice mixes for, say, baking or roasting fall and winter veggies would be an idea for me. Certainly good comfy feeling books. I’ll think on this and possibly update more.

      1. Loopy*

        My problem is that I LOVE warm fuzzy comfy socks, but I have so many I can’t justify getting/having any more. My husband gets me the really thick Jane and Bleecker slipper socks they sell at Costco (highly recommend) every few years. I’m maxed out, but man do I love them!

      2. Batgirl*

        I love buying myself and others luxury mix socks: cashmere, merino etc. John Lewis started making machine washable cashmere and I went nuts. As warm as sheepskin and much cheaper.

        1. Loopy*

          Socks as a gift get a bad rep- I love a *good* pair of comfy socks. It never occurred to me others would agree- would make gift giving so much easier!

    4. nep*

      That is such a lovely idea.
      A friend told me a while back that she was really struggling after the deaths of a few loved ones. I sent her a box with a random mix of essential oils, body butter, bath salts, and a couple of other self-pampering items. As well as a type of snack around which we’ve long had a sort of inside joke.
      I like finding items like this at Marshalls.

      1. Loopy*

        That such a lovely gesture. I wish more people curated boxes like this, it’s really thoughtful and unique. I may see if I’m around a Marshalls tomorrow- I was going to start at Target. I love boxes like this since it’s often things I don’t splurge on for myself!

    5. Still*

      How about one of those cake-in-a-jar things, where you make them a cake mix for a favourite recipe? Flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder… Just add the liquid ingredients!

      1. Still*

        Oh, I also always appreciate fancy tissues – when I have a runny nose in the autumn there’s nothing better than the aloe vera kleenex. They’re a bit more pricey than normal tissues but sooo nice to have and so gentle on my nose.

      2. Loopy*

        I will have to look for one of those! I thought about cookies but I like the idea of her actually baking something and having the house smell amazing.

    6. Ron McDon*

      I’ve just sent my friend a treat box for her birthday!

      She mentioned she was feeling and looking old when we spoke, so I sent her:

      Some skin serum
      A sheet mask
      Some anti ageing hand cream
      A lip balm
      Lots of different chocolates
      A packet of Love Hearts

      She just got it today and said she loved it!

    7. Washi*

      If she has the ability to play DVDs, you could get her a cozy winter movie or two. I’m partial to Little Women but obviously it depends on taste.

    8. Not A Manager*

      Mine would include:

      Soft socks
      Lightweight throw
      Flannel nightshirt
      Delicious soup
      Mood lighting (my husband likes string lights on a battery that you can bundle on a shelf; I like small uplights that you can place on the floor behind furniture)
      Unscented candles
      Crossword puzzles
      Unscented body lotion

      I’ve been looking forever for a nice bed jacket. I would love to have a cozy wrap specifically to wear sitting up in bed.

    9. Alex*

      What about one of those microwave heat packs? Filled with clay beads or wheat or stuff. If you’re crafty you can even make them at home.

      I live in a chilly house and often just cuddle with mine, as well as it being nice for aches and stuff.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Summer can be hygge… think about reading on a comfortable chair under a colorful umbrella with a cool drink, after puttering in the garden.
      I love this idea by the way.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh and the question! For winter, an old fashioned hot water bottle with a soft cover so it feels snuggly. (Removeable for washing… good way to give more life to a favorite but worn out sweatshirt.)

    11. Stephanie*

      I always love fancy, scented soaps. And as it gets colder outside, my skin gets drier and drier, so really nice lotions and hand creams would be great, too. Maybe some nice fancy chocolate? Or a really great book.

  18. Amethyst*

    Thank you to everyone who commented under my question last weekend. I had my gyn appointment and it turns out that I’m going through perimenopause. She is keeping me on my birth control pill because it’ll help keep me evened out.

    I’m finding that I have these really awful, upsetting dreams that wake me up. It doesn’t happen every night but it’s often enough where I’m up at midnight or 1, 2, or 3 AM because of it. What did you guys do to alleviate these?

    1. Book Lover*

      The nightmares may not be related to perimenopause, as the pill should work quite well (depending on whether it is cyclical or continuous). You could ask to switch to hrt depending on age? For early menopause (I don’t know your age) hrt is considered a better choice than the pill.
      I am having a lot of nightmares and early waking these days. I am just scared, and without a lot of optimism. Sorry. You could try magnesium at bedtime, depending on your health/any conditions you have. Lemon balm and valerian could be considered.
      You could talk to your doctor also.
      (Disclaimer, I am a doctor but not your doctor, etc)

      1. Amethyst*

        Thanks. I’m 35 and have PCOS. The pill is so I can have regular periods and I’ve been on it for years.

        I happen to have a followup with my PCP on Tuesday so I’ll run the magnesium suggestion by him then.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      Mine was 3:30, like clockwork. I eliminated coffee and refined sugar and I started sleeping better overall and added a walk in the evening. That helped enough that I recommend it, but it isn’t foolproof. I read The Hormone Reset Diet by Dr. Sara Gottfried and learned a lot and was able to make some meaningful lifestyle adjustments. It is not for the faint of heart – try your library copy first!

    3. Dottie*

      My sympathies! Came here to ask the same question about nightmares. This past month I’ve been unable to sleep like my usual sleep-like-a-rock self. It takes me an hour or so to fall asleep, and I wake up quite a bit from disturbing dreams. I don’t drink or do caffeine already… I might look into the magnesium suggestion. Hope you find something that helps too!

      1. Anax*

        Not for everyone, but melatonin around sunset has been working wonders for me; my psychiatrist says that it seems to be particularly useful for insomnia caused by anxiety and hypervigilance. Hope you find something that works for you.

        1. Amethyst*

          Thanks. I’ll look into this as well. Will/does it still work now that the sun is setting earlier? Asking cuz I’d like to not be sleepy at 5 or something, lol.

          1. Anax*

            Yup, my psychiatrist’s recommendation is to take it about 2 hours before you want to sleep. Sunset is apparently best – it’s literally the hormone your body makes when it gets dark outside – but going based on your bedtime will also work fine.

            She also said that any dosage commercially available should be fine (I have the 1mg from Walgreens). Apparently the data is only solid for <= 1mg doses, anything more than that is probably not risky but also not going to help any more.

            (Obviously, not a medical professional myself, but that's the advice given to me!)

    4. Bibliovore*

      I know how you are feeling. My gyn switched me from birth control pills to hormone replacement therapy. That helped with the vivid nightmares, obsessive thoughts, anxiety, insomnia. Still had the hot flashes.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      Birth control pills could cause nightmares. I’d ask your pharmacist about it and ask about adjusting the dose or if a mini-pill with no estrogen might help with nightmares. Use backup birth control methods, if you need to.
      Good sleep hygiene might help you. Diet changes might help. Magnesium might help but it gave me significant gut problems even at a normal dose.
      I hope you find a way to get good sleep.

    6. Phoenix from the ashes*

      I’ve had night terrors as long as I can remember – not all the time, thankfully, but every 3-4 months I have a run of about 2 weeks with them. Or, had, until I went on Prozac a couple of years back and haven’t had a single one. I have no idea if that’s a recognised side effect of the drug, though!

  19. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    Writers of AAM: Do you have a favorite self-publishing platform? I’ve used Lulu in the distant past, but it seems pretty clunky and frustrating now. Are there better sites out there?

    (I know I’m potentially selling myself short by not even trying to get it published traditionally, but I frankly don’t have the patience to wait years to go through the whole process of traditional publishing, and realistically I don’t think my novel will appeal to a large enough audience for an agent to be able to sell it.)

    1. Curly sue*

      I had an excellent experience with Draft 2 Digital for ebook production and distribution. I was reformatting and rereleasing books after my publisher closed and my rights reverted, so not something I’d anticipated having to learn, and I found their process fairly intuitive.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I am stuck with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. I don’t like them because Jeff Bezos is a greed dragon, their customer service is useless, and and it still costs money to produce a book (don’t even try if you can’t get an editor; I am way in the red), but distribution is free. Once I get out of this trilogy, I will probably try to go traditional with subsequent work.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I use KDP for Amazon ebook sales, and their print option with wide distribution for physical copies.

      For all other ebook sales I use Draft 2 Digital. The royalties are so much better, because if you use Amazon wide distribution on ebooks, they take a big cut.

    4. jolene*

      It’s not “traditional”, it’s “professional”. And there are many smaller publishers who know their niche markets and will be happy to put out books for a smaller audience.

  20. nep*

    Credit score, credit report.
    I’ve never gotten mine. I’ve got no idea what it would say, as I have a far from typical life/financial situation. I’m curious, and I need to know what it says. (I might have been part of a breach of US govt employees information a few years back–was in quite a rough patch when I received the letters about that and never pursued.)
    The sites for getting credit score and/or report require one to give social security number, of course. Are these safe? Should I go through my bank–do banks/credit unions generally offer this as a service?
    I know this must sound ridiculous to some. Having lived many years overseas and then moving back to the family house in the US, well…anyway, it’s odd I know.

    1. BRR*

      You get one free credit report each year from each of the three credit reporting companies. You can get them on annual credit report dot com. Some people do them all at once and some space them out to monitor their report through the year.

      1. nep*

        Thanks. Yes, that’s my understanding–one free per year. I went to that site; I’m just always wary of entering in SS#. But I gather it’s ‘safe,’ then?

        1. Gaia*

          As long as you’re on the official site it is as safe as it can be.

          One thing I would suggest (to everyone) is putting on a credit freeze. You do this directly with each credit bureau. It is free and can be done online. This prevents anyone from pulling your credit without you knowing. If they try, they get an error saying your file is frozen. You have to “unfreeze” it to have it run (also can be done online). It is a great safeguard against identity theft. I keep all of mine frozen and just unfreeze if I need to have my credit ran.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Actually have done this for almost a decade now (and tip to parents – don’t forget freezing accounts for your kids as well!). It has actually helped with big impulse purchases because anything that required a credit run had an extra added step (unfreezing the accounts).

          2. Wishing You Well*

            We froze our credit with FOUR credit bureaus. There are more credit score companies than just the big 3. If you freeze your credit, do it with at least the biggest 3.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          You may already know this- at the top of your screen where it gives the address of the website if it says “https” it’s a secure page. I caught my credit union using a regular http on my account. I called and complained.

          Additionally if you go into the page for the “Federal Trade Commission and free credit reports” you can use their links to navigate to a credit bureau.

          1. Anax*

            Yep. Also:
            – Check the “padlock” icon to the left of the icon. A little popup should show that the certificate is valid.
            – I know, it’s a pain, but… I would recommend Chrome as a browser, in incognito mode, when you’re worried about sensitive information. IE/Edge and Firefox don’t fully sandbox their tabs, so briefly, it’s easier for one tab/window to affect another.

        3. Squeakrad*

          Don’t do it on your wireless – do it on your phones system like T mobile or Verizon or on a wired connection. Or add a VPN to your wireless. That’s the only way I transmit any banking information online.

      2. Natalie*

        They’re temporarily allowing people to pull one a week. So this is a great time to pull all three and then get on a regular schedule.

    2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Some banks and credit unions will give you your credit score for free online. If you do online banking, log onto the bank/credit union’s website and search for “credit score.”

      1. ThatGirl*

        This, and I also recommend CreditKarma, I’ve used it for years, it’s free (ad supported) and lets me know when there are potential breaches, when my score has changed, etc.

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      Sign up for Credit Karma! It’s free and it monitors your credit and updates your score every few weeks. I highly recommend it for everyone, not only for your scores but to monitor all of your accounts. It notifies you anytime something happens – someone pulls your credit score? Email. New account opened? Email. Balance paid off? Email. It’s a great way to know where you stand and ensure if fraud happens you’ll know almost immediately.

      1. Aza*

        I also love credit karma for monitoring, but just so everyone’s aware, the score’s not always accurate. But for other stuff it’s good!

    4. Sleepless*

      I monitor mine on Experian. Very safe, no issues. They have an app that gives you updates on any changes in your credit rating, balance increases/decreases etc.

    5. BunnyWatsonToo*

      You can also check with your credit card issuer. Many offer free online access to your credit score and other credit information.

      1. nep*

        I’ve never had a credit card. (If ever there were a case when the credit score would come back N/A, it’d be mine…Or in any case, very poor…Because basically nonexistent.)

  21. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    Mine is nearing the end of the season. I have some tomatoes that continue to ripen indoors and I need to plant garlic in a few weeks, but otherwise I am spending my time cleaning it up.

    1. Gaia*

      Oh! I hadn’t thought of growing garlic this time of year.

      My summer garden is mostly over. I have a few plants I just put in for fall/winter. Mostly heather and a silver fern. My garden is in pots on my balcony.

      I’d love ideas on what might grow over fall and winter in Oregon. I really want to keep this going!

      1. Venus*

        Hard neck garlic needs to be frozen in the ground for it to grow well the next year. It has a stick in the middle, unlike most of the garlics you buy at a big grocery store which have little cloves in the middle. Soft neck garlic grows in warm climates.

        I started to plant garlic a couple years ago and love it! It grows quite easily provided you plant it at the right time. Put it in when the nights are cold, but a month or so before the ground gets really cold so it has enough time to grow some roots. Plant by individual clove, which becomes a bulb. Then pick in late summer when half the leaves go brown. And cut off the snape (flower bulb) and cook with it! I think the snape is early July but I know to cut them when they show up at the local market.

        Garlic takes up little room and seems to do well. Highly recommended! With the caveat that the drought this summer meant that the garlic split into two cloves (I have hardneck varieties that usually grow 3-4 cloves, I first bought them from the farmers’ market) so I probably should have watered them more, but I still doubled my total. I’ll eat about half and plant the others. And I think they need well-drained soil, so don’t do well in really wet years, but I think that’s true of everything.

    2. Natalie*

      We’ve started making smoothies a lot, so even though the growing season is mostly over I might be planting the latest crop of spinach ever. I already have the seeds so if nothing comes of it, no matter.

    3. Might be Spam*

      My lonely green pepper finally has some company. It looks like there are 4 or 5 more that have set. They are in pots so I can bring them inside to mature. They are staying outside as long as possible because I’m not sure how they would like being moved inside.

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      The tiny shed I ordered finally arrived on Thursday! It’s really more of an outdoor cupboard but it will give me a protected place to stash some garden stuff so it’s out of the house. It’s been too wet and windy to paint it yet.

      I have done another round of cutting down my crazy overgrown hedge. It’s not so much a hedge as a linear collection of shrubs and it has been only minimally trimmed the last few years so it was seriously overdue for a haircut. Parts of it were at least ten feet high! I’ve been cutting it in stages in the hopes that I won’t stop it from flowering next year.

      I have also bought a bunch of random plants on a whim from the supermarket in the last week or two. They might go into the hedge but I realised after I bought them that some of them might spread all over the place so I need to do some more research before I plant them. This is especially true for the passion flower and goji berry. Next year I might be buying some large pots!

      I have quite a bit of lettuce that I need to harvest. There are several radishes and lettuces that bolted so I’m just letting them grow to see what happens. Hopefully the weather will be more pleasant soon as I think I might clean up all the scruffy summer plants and try my luck at winter vegetables. It’s often very mild in my garden so surprising things often survive (I had broccoli that kept growing for 3 years before I finally pulled it up). I want to try transplanting the stunted cabbage into a sunnier spot and see if it grows big enough to be edible.

    5. NeverNicky*

      My plans are pretty much the same as yours Venus – autumn is truly here in the East of England.

      I’ve bought some winter pansies which need planting out (if it stops raining!) and I’m trying winter purslane and winter cress so the first of that needs sowing.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Also at the end of summer. I’m just sitting in it to be honest. All the potted plants are inside. I need to weed and mow and figure out how to cover the newly reopened garden bed so it solarizes the weeds. And pull another stretch of landscaping fabric to get compost on it for spring. But maybe not today, I’m looking at autumn leaves under a blue sky.

    7. Thankful for AAM*

      Iguana update!
      It’s Florida here so we are just getting started. Tomatoes, mint, and basil are growing and the iguanas continue to stay away. Yay! I hope they stay away when the tomatoes flower and fruit.
      The kale I started from seeds are still so tiny and only 2 leaves. These might be the two “real” leaves someone mentioned as the way I will know when to move them from the starter tray to the planting bed but they look too fragile to try to move yet so I am holding off.

    8. Alexandra Lynch*

      We’re cleaning up the yard at this point; Boyfriend has gotten all the dead tree limbs into a pile. We were going to cut them into firewood tonight with the new chainsaw but we apparently got a lemon because the chain keeps coming off the blade. Yes, we retightened it. So tomorrow we’re going to take it back and get a different one, because someone is going to have to chainsaw these to get rid of them, whatever we do with them, and he wants to do it so we might as well.
      I also have some galvanized tubs with dirt in them that the previous owners planted flowers in, and I am going to take out the dead plants and put bulbs in them. That will also enable us to put the tubs in the unheated garage over the winter and keep them safe from the squirrels.

    9. willow for now*

      No garden this year, but I am rejoicing that my new home has a small garden. I already know at least 9 things I will be planting!

    10. Girasol*

      Tomatoes and cukes are still growing outside around here. Full season melons are running way late and just now ripening. All the root crops – beet, carrot, potato, salsify – are still in and the squashes are still on the vine, all waiting to be harvested on the day before first frost warning, which could come anytime now.

  22. Frapperia*

    A cat update you say (no one did)? SURE THING. Photo update: https://imgur.com/a/HYiioVO

    She just turned six months. She’s just been spayed and chipped and is recovering from that at the moment so she can’t go out for a bit and I’m trying not to play with her to help the healing process. She also has somehow picked up an eye issue (either an infection or inflammation, really not sure) so I’m having to give her drops, poor bean. Which in reality means I’m pinning her down on the bed and trying to stop her little liquid body from escaping.

    She is just totally gorgeous. I am so glad I have her. I unfortunately have a horrid neighbour who hates me and by extension her so I’m having to be careful with her outside time to keep her safe, but I am thinking long-term – it’ll be almost impossible to sell where I live in the current time, but I’m working hard to save as much as possible so I can get initially a maisonette and then a house.

    She’s very settled in general and I think we are going to be great friends for the rest of our time together <3

    1. Aphrodite*

      Do not let her out later. She’ll get used to being an inside cat only though it looks as though she is already committed to that lifestyle. But please, keep her inside permanently. People do harm cats, and a neighbor who hates you has maybe even more reason to do so. I would hope not but I also would take no chances. (Anyway, I am a firm believer in indoor-only cats.) Access and a cat tree and plenty of windows with birds outside will provide her entertainment.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I also had indoor-only cats. Most of them lived almost 20 years. I second the indoor-only life.

      2. Anax*

        If she seems bored indoors and fascinated by the outdoors, I really recommend harness training; it’s not nearly as hard as it sounds, and it’s absurdly cute. (Jackson Galaxy has a few good videos online on the subject, for what that’s worth.)

        I know it’s more typical in some places to have your cats go out, but goodness, I couldn’t bear the risk. My parents’ cats would come home injured pretty often when I was growing up, and I couldn’t stand to have mine hurt that way.

        Poor babies have been HATING California fire season, though – they aren’t allowed out on walks or on the patio when the air quality is bad, and they have been SO betrayed this year.

    2. Jackalope*

      My cats have been indoors only since I got them about 10 years ago and they are very happy and well-adjusted.

    3. SpellingBee*

      She’s a cutie for sure! Congratulations on your new furry family member.

      Not sure how you’re putting in her eye drops, but here’s a method you might find useful if you’re not already doing it (a veterinarian friend taught me). Kneel on the floor and put the cat between your knees, facing away from you and making sure you can easily reach her head. Tilt her head back a bit with one hand and bring the dropper to the affected eye from behind her, not from the front. Cats will instinctively back away from anything unpleasant or worrisome that comes at them head-on, so this will avoid that to a certain degree. Also, if she does flinch and pull back, she’s not pulling away from you, but backing more firmly into your hold. With practice you can do it in just a few seconds, with minimal distress to both of you.

      1. I take tea*

        Cat updates are always welcome! It’s funny, despite having two of my own, I can always look at cat pictures.

  23. WellRed*

    I’ve posted about my brother’s recent untimely death. Between the sorrow and the stress and all my stomach is a gurgling acidic mess. I’m hoping some will dissipate naturally once today has passed and maybe once I am able to eat more normally but any suggestions that might help? I had tea and half an English muffin but still gurgling.

    1. nep*

      So sorry for your loss.
      I know ginger is good for nausea. Not sure whether would help the type of upset you’re having. Have you tried ginger? Chew it raw, or find some lozenges or chews. (Others might know whether it helps for stomach upset other than nausea.) May you find relief soon.

      1. StrikingFalcon*

        Ginger is fantastic for acid reflux, which may be what this is. I use ginger chews made with real ginger sometimes, and it really calms the acid production down.

    2. Lena Clare*

      Dealing with the root cause (grief) will probably help. But if counselling or some such is out of reach right now, I find gaviscon/pepto bismol the best for acid reflux. And cutting out fatty things for me works too. No alcohol, and low-no caffeine may also help you.
      Try to sleep with the head of bed raised more than the foot end. That means resting it on books or something rather than just having lots of pillows.
      And finally a body scan mindfulness meditation might be helpful.
      I’m so sorry for your loss.

    3. Venus*

      I find that stress causes my stomach to be a mess, and someone suggested a daily tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water because sometimes the problem is a lack of acid. I didn’t think so as I clearly had acid effects, and yet it worked. A very cheap option to try, and I had results within a day or two. On the first day I get burpy for a few hours but it settles down, and I use it for a few days just to make sure it works. My reaction is due to stress, so I don’t normally have problems and I found that antacids did not work for me. (I don’t expect others to try this, but if you have the same issues as me then maybe try it as I was planning for a trip to the doctor and a prescription for serious antacids, when all I needed was $2 of apple cider vinegar)

    4. Not A Manager*

      Have you tried regular OTC antacid tablets? I find that all of the normal drug store brands work about the same.

      I’ve been thinking about you and your family this week. Have you decided on the format for the memorial?

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, when I had heartburn during pregnancy, I used generic store brand version of Tums. It’s basically just calcium carbonate.

    5. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Will sound very odd but hard, non-sugar coated lemon drops can help with upset stomachs. I can’t remember all of the reason but it has something to do with how the sour tastebuds link to your brain.

      (Can also provide some relief for pregnancy related stomach issues when trying to avoid medication.)

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My sympathies. When stressed, I turn to soup. Most comforting to me are wonton soup, matzoh ball soup, or pho …basically the ones where I can just sip the broth at first, and nibble on the solid pieces after I start to feel hungry again. Eating that way helps keep me hydrated in a time where I forget water. And because I don’t make any of them well, it eventually gives me incentive to get dressed to go e for takeout.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Yes, soup. Try starting out with chicken or beef broth, then work your way up to wonton, chicken and rice, or chicken noodle. Then maybe chicken vegetable and/or beef vegetable. Maybe eat it with toast or saltine crackers. Then maybe work your way up to a stew or shepherd pie, or a pot pie.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I would go with something to coat the stomach like some Pepto.

      This is grief. Some people eat without stopping and some people can’t eat a thing. Even though it goes both ways, it’s still grief symptoms.

      Not everyone would agree and YMMV, but if I can’t get much into me I like a spoonful of honey. That seems to help me feel like I ate something without knocking myself out to get food into me. You could drizzle it on the English muffin. It’s kinda comforting too….

    8. OyHiOh*

      When I was dealing with unexpected loss, small nibbles were best. Half a granola bar here, a hard boiled egg there, a slice of cheese a little later. The nausea/tension/gurgling didn’t really seem affected by particular foods but keeping a little bit going all the time helped. So I’d say to get (or have someone get shop for you/order through a delivery service) a range of snack/nibble items you liked before and try to eat a few mouthfuls of something at least every couple hours.

      May you walk in life.

      It’s hard enough when a death is more or less expected but when it’s sudden/unexpected, death completely sets your world on end, for much longer than you may initially expect.

    9. NoLongerYoung*

      My heart goes out to you (won’t tell you how I know).
      My tips are: 1) make sure you are drinking lots of water (not the sparkling carbonated kind… that actually worsens mine). It thins out (or seems to for me) the acid and the overall hydration helps everything.
      2) crackers. I find that even a few saltines/ regular crackers soaks up some of that churning acid. Don’t go a long time between eating. Or a half a banana, a piece of toast, applesauce. Calm, no-stress foods.
      3) Don’t be afraid to get the right short-term medication to help with the acid if it gets painful. Not a doctor, I just let mine get so bad after my husband’s death that I couldn’t keep down water. Stay in touch with your personal difference between “uncomfortable but healing” and “on my way to a serious ulcer and ER trip.”

      And… understand that this is not unexpected. I have different friends that deal with deep stress in different ways. I have found that my brother’s death was the most impactful of all the losses I’ve had (it was unexpected as well). Ask for help and comfort where you can. It may not seem related to your stomach… but I found it was all related, somehow.
      Sending a virtual hug.

      1. MysteryFan*

        I was feeling similarly after my SO died suddenly. I survived on herbal tea, toast and applesauce for a couple of weeks.

    10. Observer*

      If it’s actually acid reflux, tea may not be your best bet. Black tea is worse than green, which is worse than white, if you need SOMETHING.

      Also, any form of mint is great for most stomach issues but is REALLY bad for reflux. So, unless / until you can deal with the stress, it’s probably a good idea to see if you can get a diagnosis.

  24. Anon for this*

    How do you go about finding a therapist who is right for you? Ordinarily, I check credentials and I ask around. But mental health is somewhat stigmatized and while I am comfortable asking who had a great experience with their GP, I really don’t want to do that for a therapist.

    I am in the US. My GP is great but I have had mixed experiences with the people he has referred me to in the past.

    1. crookedglasses*

      My therapist searches have been a bit different because I wanted to be sure to find somebody who had some awareness of things like polyamory, asexuality, etc. I start from the NCSF list to help account for that. If you do have any particular considerations like that, I’d recommend seeing if any related groups or organizations have therapist lists. Or if you want to make sure you find somebody covered by your insurance, their provider list would be a good starting point. Otherwise, the Psychology Today list seems fairly thorough.

      From there, I spent a lot of time poking around a therapists website. What areas do they list as specialities? How do they talk about their approach to working with clients? You’ll start to get a feel for which therapists present themselves in a way that resonates with you.

      From there, you can usually also schedule a fee 20 minute consultation just to see if you click with them prior to committing to a full session.

      Good luck!

    2. It’s me AV*

      I had a whole series of therapists who were unhelpful in different ways. The one my GP recommended, who supposedly specialized in work stress, offered no feedback over several sessions of me venting and then suggested that I “buy one of those books about managing your boss” !

      What worked for me then was a friend who is herself a therapist suggested someone she knows that she thought would be a good fit. Not everyone has that route available, but if you do know someone in the profession you might not have thought about asking them, since they couldn’t treat you themselves of course.

      When I moved to the US I had to start over, and what I found when looking up local therapists was that you can look up your zip code on Psychology Today and it will show local therapists with a photo, credentials, and description of their therapeutic approach. This was super helpful as it let me get a feeling for the person and whether they seem like they could be a good fit for me, and then from there I looked a few of them up some more and had a phone conversation when making the first appointment to explain what I was looking for. That worked out great and I’ve been with my local therapist for about 3 years.

      Good luck!!

    3. Ms Darcy*

      I’ve used the Psychology Today website. They have a “find a therapist” section which is helpful. The therapists ‘ websites are listed for some more in-depth research. The larger practices in our area have bios on all of their providers as well. Good luck in your search.

    4. Chaordic One*

      I’ve had good luck with various referral agencies, such as Planned Parenthood (they do a lot more than the name suggests), community women’s centers, or community or county health departments. I’ve also had good luck with recommendations from my church (I belong to a liberal Christian denomination and I’d be reluctant to get a recommendation from a more conservative church). When you’re asking you don’t have to be specific about just why you’re seeking counseling if you don’t want to. You can initially say something a bit vague like “anxiety” or “depression” and ask for someone you’d be comfortable with. I was asked if I’d be more comfortable working with a male or female therapist.

      After you pick someone, if you don’t feel like you have any connection after 3 or 4 visits, don’t be afraid to say that it isn’t working for you and that you’d like to try working with someone else, and then do that. Don’t give up. Sometimes it takes a few attempts.

    5. Anon therapy seeker*

      To find a therapist years ago, I got referrals from people I knew. But when I needed to find someone more recently, I started with keywords in Google for things that I wanted in a therapist. This may seem pretty out there, and not something I had done before, but it was a good place to start from.

      I knew I wanted someone with clinical psychology credentials, who could relate to my Buddhist perspective, and was trained in a technique that works for me, EMDR. So my keywords were “EMDR” “Buddhist” (or Buddhism), “psychologist” “Ph.D.”, and the specific city. Then with the names that came up, I researched them further through their own websites, Psychology Today listings, etc.

      When I met with the first therapist, it was clear from just once session that they weren’t the right fit for me. But the second person has turned out to be fantastic, an enormous help when I was dealing with depression. Seeing her regularly really helped me get to the other side of that, and I still see her occasionally when I’ve got a particular challenge going on.

    6. B*

      You can google therapist/counselor/social worker and your city. Psychology today’s listings are at a pretty high subscription so you might miss out on well established providers.
      The really important piece is your screening of potentials. You should be able to have a brief phone consult. Think about your goals and what you want therapy to look like. Do you want a really standardized clinical approach? Or more eclectic?
      There are lots of lists of questions to ask potential therapists online.
      https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-in-between/201701/how-interview-your-therapist%3famp

  25. Gaia*

    I wanted to thank everyone that gave advice and support two weeks ago when I talked about learning that my mom hasn’t actually been sober at all (I had been told she had been for 10 years).

    It has been a weird and co.pkex few weeks. I ended up not going on my planned visit to see them. I have talked to her a few times since and just don’t bring it up.

    I’m going to see her in person in a few weeks and I honestly don’t know how I’ll handle that. I feel like a coward for not telling her I know, and like a liar for acting like everything is the same as it was. But I just don’t know what else to do.

    Anyway, thank you all for your support and kindness. It really busy very appreciated.

    1. nep*

      That is impossibly tough.
      Just a note to say, remember to give yourself the same support and kindness you’re appreciating from others; no need to add to your burden by using words like coward or liar about how you are handling or reacting to things. Not picking on you for how you expressed that–Just something I noticed as a read your post.
      This is a crazy tough situation and you’re feeling your way through it.
      Peace

      1. PollyQ*

        Yes, absolutely. You’re allowed to take time to deal with your feelings and figure out how you want to proceed, and there’s nothing cowardly or dishonest about that. No one is owed a constant update on your inner struggles.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Until you sort out what you want to say or do, it’s not cowardly to say nothing. Saying nothing when we are unsure is called “wise”. Please hang on to this thought.

  26. DIY haircut*

    Has anyone found a diy haircut tutorial they like/ looks good on them? I’m not sure I’m ready to go back to a salon yet and it has been 7 months. Looking for a long layered cut. My hair is about 7 inches below the shoulders. Thanks

    1. Venus*

      Are you cutting your own hair or have someone to help you? This is critical as I tried cutting my own and it is almost impossible at many angles of the head!

    2. Queer Earthling*

      I used to cut my own hair (now my spouse does it–they’re a former professional) and I always had good results by turning my head upside down, twisting all my hair in one direction and snipping the ends, then twisting in the other direction and snipping a bit. It gave some slight layers (because the twisting makes the strands different lengths) and looked really nice. I did this for a few years, up until I stopped wearing my hair long.

    3. Stephanie*

      When my hair was long, I would sometimes do a trim myself. Here’s how: bend at the waist and gather your hair into a ponytail at the top of your head, using just your hands–no elastic. Then stand up, while holding your hair. Twist the ponytail tightly, hold it straight up, and trim a bit–an inch or so–off the end. Don’t try to take too much off, it will make the layers really wonky. This only really works well if you’re just looking for a trim and a refresh of the layers, not for a more drastic change.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I’ve done this for myself and for my daughter. If you search for “unicorn haircut” you should get lots of options. There are different layering effects depending on where you gather the ponytail.

        I also watched a couple of YouTube videos by a professional stylist who showed how to do a layered cut, but he was using a dummy head. It’s been a while so I don’t recall his name but his videos came up through DIY haircut searches. It wasn’t too hard to modify for cutting my own hair with the same techniques but I’ve been cutting my own hair for years and I’m not fussed if it doesn’t turn out perfectly (if I do it, that is, I hated paying $60 or whatever just to end up a little disappointed with the salon result).

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ll check with my daughter for the link she followed and put it in a reply. It came out good for her hair (semi-straight, and a thick mop of fine strands).

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Well, she surprised me again– turns out, she just winged it and did it herself. She parted it down the middle, brought one piece around to each side, and cut it until it looked straight. All the shape is from the distance around her head to where she was holding it.

    5. RagingADHD*

      The Sam Vila channel on YouTube has a lot of helpful tutes. They’re directed at stylists, so it’s a bit different doing it on yourself. But it helps to understand the way the haircut works & the basic steps.

    6. Filosofickle*

      I had good luck this summer with quarantine hair cuts. My hair is medium long — bra band length. The cut I went with was the pigtail cut from Manes by Mell on YouTube. I have a ton of hair, and thought the pigtails would be easier to cut than the unicorn method. There is no way I could neatly cut through all my hair in one fat ponytail.

      The first time I tried to create even pigtails I almost gave up in frustration but after a couple of tries I got the hang of it. I placed the pigtails much higher on my head than she did, because I wanted more layers. I did it over several sessions, cutting 1/2–1″ each time, playing it safe. Later I riffed on the pigtail cut by dividing my hair in 4 pigtails, evenly spaced around my head near the top. It was even easier to cut this way and looked great. It’s still not quite enough layers for me, but better safe than sorry. (I’ve already cut off 3-4 inches.)

      1. Summersun*

        I tried this cut also and got AWFUL results. Instead of smooth layers, my hair looks like a series of stair steps–big chunks of different lengths that don’t blend. I’m getting it fixed professionally this week, it was that bad.

        1. Filosofickle*

          This is what freaked me out about cutting my hair! You can see, with video evidence, how one person ends up with a great cut and another a terrible cut using the same method. And it’s hard to figure out exactly why the difference.

    7. Trixie*

      A favorite YouTube channel, Pick Up Limes, has a video titled How I Cut & Layer My Hair at Home. She has pretty long hair and must have been getting a number of questions on it. Sounds like she was cutting her own hair for years and learn her favorite tips/tricks along the way.

  27. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    How much impact does a Brita (type) pitcher have on the actual taste of water? Our tap water is perfectly safe and to me tastes like the city water I’m used to, but the taste is off putting to someone in my house who grew up on different water (well, I think, but I’m not sure), and we’re not really wanting to spend money on a filtered pitcher if it won’t make any difference in the taste.

    1. Runaway Shinobi*

      We have very hard water so had to constantly descale our kettle. We started using a Brita filter jug for water for the kettle and now only need to descale it once a year. Plus none of that unpleasant film on tea. But it hasn’t made much difference to the taste (which is fine).

    2. NapkinThief*

      We have a Zero Water pitcher and we LOVE it. My husband is notoriously picky about his water, but even he commented on how crisp it tastes! Never thought I would get him to drink anything coming out of a tap. And we save so much money (& plastic) by not getting gallons of water every week.

    3. Squidhead*

      I felt like it helped take the chlorine taste out of city water. We changed the filter every 2 months which didn’t seem terrible but we eventually put in a tap with an in-line filter on the cold water line. It claims it’s good for 10000 gallons (vs 40 for a Brita filter cartridge) and it cost about $100. Plus, no more pitcher on the counter! I think both methods do affect the taste of the water. However, if your person is used to having *more* taste in their well water, not less, then this might not be the fix you need!

    4. RC Rascal*

      Brita can make a huge difference if you have bad water. I used to have a tap filter when I lived in a place where the water was so bad it made ice cubes that changed the taste of Coca Cola.

    5. Not A Manager*

      You could purchase one from a store with a good return policy. Bed Bath and Beyond used to allow liberal returns even if you’d opened and tried a product. Amazon is very good about returns if a product doesn’t work as you’d like, but IDK how you feel about Amazon. Costco allows returns up to a year after purchase, no questions asked.

    6. ThatGirl*

      We use a Brita and I can taste the difference. I don’t mind our tap water but it tastes better filtered, to me. That said, well water has a strong taste and a filter won’t make it taste more like that :)

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      The pitchers are trying to remove minerals, chlorine, etc. If the person in your household actually prefers more minerals, it’s not going to help and will make it worse.

    8. Generic Name*

      I’d try to find out what the difference is between the two water sources, if you can. Like is it well water vs city water? Then it’s probably the taste of chlorine they isn’t like, and a pitcher filter will absolutely help with that. If it’s because the geology of the regions you grew up in is different, that might be a bit harder. Are you in a place where the water tastes different depending on the time of year? If so, a pitcher might help with that issue as well. (Seasonal differences in water often have to do with harmless but smelly Cyanobacteria blooms that happen in the spring, for example)

    9. Helvetica*

      I live in an area with hard water and my workplace has a Brita pitcher but I don’t have one at home. The tap water doesn’t have a taste on its own – and I’m quite sensitive to water tastes – but oddly enough, I find the filtered water to be too…soft? It’s weird to explain but I can taste how soft the water is and for me, it kind of makes it dull and not as refreshing as just getting water from the tap.

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As it turns out, he couldn’t explain the difference to me, so I took a chance and he says the filtered water is a great improvement and will work fine, so whatever it was, it seems to be working. :)

    11. Wishing You Well*

      I strongly recommend filtering your tap water regardless of taste. I have a PUR filter on my faucet for convenience. We used to have a Brita pitcher but it was more hassle than the faucet filter. I have big city water. The allowable, acceptable amount of bacteria and chemicals is high. People with certain health issues really need to filter their drinking water but I recommend everyone filter their drinking water for, at the minimum, bacteria, lead and chlorine.
      Good Health, Everyone.

    12. Summersun*

      Our water reeked of chlorine, and we were blowing through Brita filters like crazy. We got an in-line whole house filter that fixed the chlorine smell, which made showering/bathing more pleasant and stopping beating my clothing to hell in the washing machine. I still won’t drink it, though; it tastes like dirt. Take a big deep whiff of wet potting soil–that’s what my water tastes like.

  28. nep*

    Anyone read Flights by Olga Tokarczuk? (Translated by Jennifer Croft.)
    I’m loving the writing. It’s one of those books, though, where I feel as if I’m missing something everyone else gets…or maybe not…
    Still enjoying it.
    As I often do, I’ll look up reviews and discussions about it after I finish.

    1. VirtualLight*

      I read Flights! I read and enjoyed her book “Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead,” which had a much more linear narrative and a protagonist I enjoyed. (Animal lovers and people who enjoy feisty independent ladies, that book is for you.) Flights was a little harder to get through. I think there may be stuff there to “get” if you want to get into interpreting how the parts go together – I decided to just enjoy it for the prose.

  29. Anon for this*

    Does anyone have reccomendations or contacts for home health care for a terminal person in the Golden CO area? Would almost prefer to find a personal contact rather than an agency so there is more ability to select and interview the candidate- but will need someone in the next few days.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      contact the local Area Agency on Aging. They should have some names of companies, etc. And the hospital social worker/whatever might have some good suggestions.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yep. Golden is in Jefferson County, so if you google Jeffco (as it’s locally called. There’s also a Jefferson county in Georgia, so make sure it’s the correct state. The area codes should be 303 or 720, or maybe 719) Office in Aging, that should connect your with local resources.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Check with Agency on Aging (or for anything similarly named in the area), they generally have lots of resources for all things to do with getting older. Also, if the family you’re helping has a primary care doctor, many of those will have Geriatric Resources.
      Google can also be a friend. Geriatric care resources is probably where I’d start.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Hire from an agency! Don’t hire an individual unless you’re an expert in background checks. My family’s experiences with un-vetted home health care people would curl your hair!

      1. Anono-me*

        I second the recommendation to hire from a service. Many year ago I worked in a group home and saw many of my about to be fired for cause coworkers pivot to private hire for private home care.

    4. Gaia*

      Is this person over 50? If so, maybe contact the local Area Agency on Aging. They exist to help with these situations and have so many resources.

  30. AM*

    I posted this last Sunday, but was too late for many to see it. Has anyone else bought a house and soon regretted it? I bought just before covid struck, last November. I was traveling for work immediately after purchase, and had a contractor do ~50K of renovations before I moved in, mostly to the kitchen and master bath. Now that I am living in the house full time, I just hate it. Parking has become a nightmare for me. I don’t have the option to telecommute (I work at a hospital, and am frequently on nights) and a lot of people work from home and rarely move their cars (street parking only; no way to add a driveway/pad). It’s a downtown neighborhood, and crime rates have increased the last few months. I sometimes have to park several blocks from my house and walk home late at night, and don’t feel totally safe. I don’t even feel that safe walking my dog in the mornings.

    I am aware I should really have held out for a house with off-street parking when buying a house, and will do that next time. I have looked around for parking spots I could rent from people with off-street parking, but haven’t found anything closer than several blocks away.

    Is it totally ridiculous to put the house on the market for these reasons, especially after doing so much work to it after purchase? I feel like a moron for buying a house I don’t see myself living in for very long, but it is crazy to me how much covid has changed the neighborhood. I have no clue what the future will bring real estate market wise- right now, houses in my neighborhood seem to be selling quickly (very much a seller’s market, despite the issues I’ve mentioned above). I would love any advice or if you could share your stories if I’m not the only one who has made a giant mistake like this.

    1. Dani*

      Should be easier to sell the house with the renovations but I don’t know if you can get the 50K + original sale price for it. Good luck.

      1. AM*

        Not only that, but the closing/realtor fees are what really makes it unlikely I would even break even. :-( 6% just on realtor fees is so high.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Speak to the realtors that you used for the original purchase, buyer’s and seller’s if they were different. Realtors negotiate their commission all the time, and if these guys just cashed in on the sale six months ago they might be very willing to cut you a deal in order to cash in again.

          1. bunniferous*

            This. Everything is negotiable. And this is very much a seller’s market in my area so you should be able to find someone willing to take you up on that, with the caveat that you will want the commission split for whoever brings you a buyer to be around what other sellers are willing to pay.

            Bear in mind tho that there are tax issues involved in selling a house you have not lived in that long. Basically what this would be is an (unintended) flip. I remember just enough from real estate school to know it is possible taxes could hit you pretty hard. But please do confirm that for yourself with a professional.

                1. Former Usher*

                  I’m not a tax professional, but I believe that the cost of the renovations should add to the tax basis as well, reducing or eliminating any profit to be taxed.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I concur. While the numbers may look bad initially, you don’t get enough time in this world to spend it miserably, and the sooner you get into a house you’re happy with, the sooner the numbers in that house will start to look good.

    2. Book Lover*

      I would sell if it is still a seller’s market. You don’t know when that will change and when you might end up with a house you can’t sell or underwater. Things are uncertain now and a home you love is important. Maybe plan to rent for a while…

    3. Sandy*

      Hold on to the house for now, rent it out, and rent a place that you like. You’ll lose too much on the place if you sell it now, at least let it build equity for a bit.

    4. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Definitely talk to a few realtors, including the one(s) involved in your purchase. They should all do a market analysis, so you will have an idea what the house could bring in it’s current condition. Then discuss their fees and see what you can work out (have in your mind what you would be willing to pay put of pocket to sell it if it comes to that and run the numbers). Personally I would not try to rent because I don’t want to be a landlord, vet renters, etc. and because you should have significant savings in case the tenant doesn’t pay.

    5. Stephanie*

      We bought a much bigger house, with a much bigger yard in 2003. It was a stretch, financially, but we figured that we would be able to grow into it. And things just didn’t go that way. I honestly regretted it shortly after we moved in. We wanted to do lots of work to make it into the house we wanted it to be, but we could never get any equity out of it to do so. We stayed for 16 years, for lots of reasons (kids in school, depressed market, inertia, etc). I ended up absolutely hating that house. We were always broke (because of the initial financial stretch, that become a permanent state of being), the house was just never “right”, and it was a ton of work just to maintain the house and yard because of the size.
      We finally sold it last year and downsized to a house we both absolutely love. I wish we had never bought that previous house, but there’s no going back in time.

      I would, if I were you, contact your real estate agent from your purchase (if you liked working with her), and ask some questions–get the current market value of your house, ask what costs would be, find out prices for where you want to buy (if you choose to do so). Figure out if there is a certain amount of cost you’re willing to eat to get out.
      The work you’ve had done may very well give you enough equity that it is doable, financially. And the one thing you cannot change about your home is the location, so if you hate it now, it probably wont get any better in the future.

      And, if makes you feel any better, my husband and I are now living in our fourth house together, in 24 years. It’s not crazy or stupid to buy a house that is not your “forever house”. If the market is good right now, it’s smart to at least look into the particulars if you even think you want to sell. Good luck!

    6. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Can you rent it out? I’d sell if you can. Parking is the biggest reason I’m trying to leave except our house is a broken mess and we can’t afford/don’t want to do repairs. I can’t even leave my home after 3 pm because I can’t find parking. When my neighbor has a party? I can’t leave period. Going out at night is a never now. I feel hostage in my home.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Also when we were looking, we learned quickly that homes advertised as “commuters dream” were code for no/difficult parking. And that may work for a lot of people who don’t drive and don’t need a parking space.

    7. chopsticks*

      We bought and sold two homes in three years. We liked the first (town)home ok, but because of some street noise we wanted to upgrade to a quieter and larger home. I regretted the second home almost instantly – mostly because it was more of a stretch financially than I wanted, but there were also things about the home I just didn’t like. I don’t think we would have moved again so quickly, but I took a job that would have been a 3-hour commute/day and we decided to sell. Selling the first home we put it on the market right as there was a slump and it ended up sitting empty for almost 6 months before we sold it. For the second home we put it on the market right as the pandemic hit and some major infrastructure problem that made commuting access to our neighborhood difficult. Luckily, the couple that bought our home were already local and wanted to stay in the neighborhood. We used the same realtor for both sales and both purchases and he charged as 1.5% for the sales. Both times we were able to get a little bit more than what we paid originally but we probably still lost out a bit in the end. For a long time I’d just wished we’d stayed in the first home, but c’est la vie.

      We just went into contract on what we are hoping is our home until at least retirement (assuming no major job change in the next 10-15 years), and I can say that at least we were smarter this time about what we wanted, and really took our time waiting to find the right home. I think Stephanie has great advice – talk to your realtor (if you liked her and want to work with her again), determine what you might sell for and what your losses are likely to be, and then decide if you’re ok with that. I would be very inclined to sell and not rent it out given the concerns you already have with the neighborhood.

    8. ampersand*

      I understand! I don’t quite regret the house we bought a few years ago and still live in (we love the area; it was a tradeoff), but we realized almost immediately it was too small for us. You’d think 1500 square would be sufficient; turns out the layout is weird enough that it makes some space unusable and we feel cramped. Assuming things go as planned, we want to move to a larger house next year.

      Definitely don’t beat yourself up over this–I’ve always thought there should be a trial period before you buy where you get to live in the house for this exact reason! You don’t know what will drive you crazy until you’re living there. If the parking situation is detracting from your quality of life on a daily basis and you have the option to sell and it makes sense for you, do it. Now you know that parking is non-negotiable. That’s good info to have for the next place you live.

    9. Lives in a Shoe*

      As someone who has bought and sold approximately 8 houses in 30 years, with a few apartment stints, hating a house takes a lot of energy.

      I am currently sitting in a house which is completely renovated – by me while living in it – with minimal furniture left and tons of boxes and bubble wrap. I bought this house because it was all I could afford after the divorce. For almost 5 years now I have longed to get back to where I really want to live. I finally figured it was close enough to being done that I can push through and get it on the market.

      If it doesn’t sell, I will stay, but I would be very sad. I’m willing to take a risk, and rent for a while, in order to live where I want. So not exactly your situation, in the sense that I haven’t just bought it, but regret is a real thing. If I could have gotten out of it immediately and rented, if I had known what my life was going to be like for the last four years, it would’ve been smart. Listen to your heart.

      1. Former Usher*

        I have to agree that “hating a house takes a lot of energy.” We’ve been in our current house 12 years, and I’ve wanted to move almost right away. We overpaid for it and have had to keep sinking money into it, both of which make it hard to be able to move.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      You’re not crazy. If you’re not happy there, or don’t feel safe there, sell it!

      Owning a home is a pretty big responsibility actually. Homes require a lot of maintenance, yard work, and all sorts of things you don’t think about when you want to become a homeowner.

  31. Anono-me*

    Does anyone know of hair donation places that take healthy hair that is about 6 in long and color treated?

    I’ve been growing my hair out and it’s way too long and getting on my nerves.

    In the past, I donated through a salon and the Stylist that I went to said the organization they worked with was a hybrid model that either used donated hair for kids who needed wigs or made and sold wigs to adults for funds to make the kids wigs. So that organization would take much shorter hair and color treated hair. Unfortunately I can’t ask that salon right now.

    1. SSO Woes*

      I know Pantene had a program but stopped taking donations in 2018 because they had enough to meet their demand through 2022. I think places are stricter on requirements (I think most require 10-12) because there is more hair than needed to meet the demand. When I was looking into donating, Locks of Love’s message was “we’d rather you donate money than hair.”

      My point is, if your long hair is driving you crazy, you can cut it and throw it away without guilt.

    2. Summersun*

      Everything I’ve looked at requires virgin hair. They don’t want color-treated hair because they dye it all to match, and pre-dyed gives unpredictable results.

    3. allathian*

      Hair is the most efficient material for soaking up oil spills. Some salons recycle their waste hair this way. I’m not sure if they’d take hair that you’ve cut yourself, though…

      1. Anonymato*

        I have done the oil spill hair donation – Matter of Trust is the organization I used (Clean Wave Program). My hair wasn’t long enough for some of the other donations. They have easy instructions on how to cut it and ship it – I cut it at home.

  32. Zoom Help, Please!*

    Good morning all! I want to set up a Zoom randomly recurring meeting to chat with family and friends. I scheduled a meeting and marked it Recurring, No Fixed Time. I entered a date and time for the first meeting, but what about subsequent meetings? Do I use the same link, or do I need to tell Zoom when I’m scheduling later meetings? I’m confused! Many thanks to the hive mind for your help.

    1. Esmeralda*

      I can re-use a link multiple times and any day/time from a meeting that was at a specific day/time. However, that’s not the free zoom, so YMMV.

  33. Squidhead*

    In addition to your SSN, these sites will require you to “prove” your identity by asking several questions drawn from your credit info. Examples: have you ever lived in a) Grinnell, IA ) Waco, TX c) Boston, MA d) none of the above. Or: Indicate monthly payment of your automobile loan through Ford motors a) $180 to $210 b) $211 to $240 c) $241 to $280 d) I don’t have a loan through Ford motors. So you might need some info at your fingertips to finish the login process (I can never remember how much our mortgage payment is exactly!). My college address (20 years ago now) has shown up in these questions, which, since it was a mailbox in the student center and we didn’t really use the “street address” of the building, was a little confusing!

    1. JKP*

      I’ve always wondered if there’s a way to remove any of these questions from the rotation. Many times I’m not able to prove my identity and get my credit report because 9/10 they ask me a question about an ex-SIL no one in the family has had contact with in 20+ years, so when I can’t answer anything about her, I’m denied my credit report. I don’t know why these bureaus keep linking her to me and asking me about her.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        It’s called KBA (knowledge based authentication). This means somewhere, associated with your social security/ rental history (and possibly records you can’t see….) there are deep history records. Auto loans, supposed family members, etc. In my case, too, about someone no longer relevant but whose record for things like vehicles is blended. (but not where “I” can see it when I pull my credit reports).

  34. Book Lover*

    Hi! I have some stories from a family member for my kids that I would like to be printed as a book. I tried making it work with Shutterfly but it just isn’t made for text books (or I just didn’t understand how to do it) and it was taking me forever and not workable.

    I would like just one to two copies, it doesn’t have to be hard copy and would be very short.

    Thank you for any ideas. As a fall back I will just put them in a folder, printed out, but I want something more special than that.

    1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      You want one of the self publishing companies. I’ve used Lulu before and have no complaint, but there are a lot of places that print your books for you nowadays with the rise of self publishing. I think I picked out Lulu because it was the cheapest for our needs (novel length, text only, soft cover) at the time. Most of the places have cost calculators so you can see what you’d be paying, but I’d guess between $5 and $20 each, depending on how fancy you want it.

      This is definitely doable! And I think the cheaper options are probably actually less expensive than that much paper and ink + a folder.

      1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        The world is never so bright, so clear, so full of light and color, as it is right after I finally remember to clean my glasses.

    2. curly sue*

      I mentioned this in a thread higher up, but I’ve had good luck with Draft 2 Digital with translating Word files to epub / ebook formats. They’re free if you’re not trying to sell the books; you can just put the file through the conversion process and download the result.

    3. Telgar*

      Some copyshops do simple bindings. Or you could do it yourself, it’s not hard and you can find instructions on the internet. And of course there are always regular bookbinding companies, though that will be a little more expensive, but they do single books or very small editions.

    4. Maseca*

      Late reply here, but I’ve found Snapfish much, much more user-friendly and flexible than Shutterfly for custom books. Most of what I’ve made there has been photo-centric, but their layouts will let you convert whole pages to text, resize photos and text boxes on pages with both types of elements, etc. The experience is much closer to using simple design software like Powerpoint. I’ve made several commemorative books to showcase old family photos and biographies/stories for relatives’ milestone birthdays or memorial services. And best of all, Snapfish always has promo codes and sales, so stuff is often as much as 60% off.

  35. Dwight Schrute*

    Alright everyone I need some cleaning tips! I got a free leather couch this weekend, but it smells like dog. How can I clean it and get the smell out? I’ve tried vinegar spray and leather cleaner already. Any solid ways to get the smell out?

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        I hope not! It’s super comfy and a recliner. I’m hoping that with time it fades or with repeated cleaning. It does smell better after my cleaning yesterday but I can still smell it a little

    1. Ali G*

      Leather doesn’t typically hold odor. The problem is probably the cushions themselves. Try taking the cushions out of the covers and spraying them with vinegar and air out for a few days.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        I don’t think they come out, it’s like one piece from what I can tell. But good to know it doesn’t typically hold odors! Thanks!

    2. Gia*

      Vinegar mixed with linseed oil, buff it on and leave for 20 minutes, then buff off duty clean dry cloth. Repeat multiple times until the odour is completely gone.

      Or saddle soap!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      This is weather dependent, but do you have anyplace you could leave it outside in the sun for a couple days?

    4. Stephanie*

      Maybe try sprinkling liberally with baking soda and let it sit for a while, then vacuum.
      Or saddle soap.
      If it smells better after the first cleaning, I think it’s likely that it will get better and better after repeated cleanings.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Remember to vacuum and clean under the chair and inside the recliner flaps. Pet fur gets everywhere. If the chair has legs that would have let a pet sleep underneath, consider removing the fabric on the underside of the chair, where a pet’s back would have pressed.

    5. JobHunter*

      Vacuum all of the crevices as thoroughly as you can to get the dog hair and dander out of the innards of the couch. The hair holds odor surprisingly well.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Another thought, try looking at enzyme cleaners. They’re very specific so read what they break down. Urine compounds are the most common, but I’m told there are ones for dander. I’d be curious to hear results.
        (Why am I posting at 4am? Hello fall allergy season!)

  36. Great British Bake Off*

    Anyone watching the new season? It’s just started on Channel 4 in the UK, and I heard it’s been shown on Netflix in the US at almost the same pace?

    It’s a bit of a weird one this time, since everyone had to quarantine together (7 weeks to film the whole series) plus there was a new host. Won’t give anything away here in case people want to avoid spoilers, so keeping those in comments.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Re Great British Bakeoff: Yep, I just caught the first new episode on Netflix. Was impressed that they managed to get the entire cast and crew to “bubble” together for nearly two months – but it does allow them to go about the normal in-the-tent business without masks or distancing. (I do miss Sandi, but Matt Lucas has a certain charm – though he hasn’t broken out into a chorus of “Master of the House” yet, and I rather hoped he would!)

      The previous season was one of my favorites; I loved the variety of contestants, especially adorable young tie-wearing Henry, and some of the challenges were just amazing.

      1. Ron McDon*

        I wondered if they really were staying together in a bubble for that length of time? I think each episode is filmed over a weekend usually, so that would be 2 months of weekends, but surely if they’re all staying in a bubble together they would accelerate the filming, and film an episode every few days? I don’t know, it just sounded unlikely when I heard that.

        Loved the first episode – my 15yo son laughed his socks off at the Boris Johnson impression at the start. I felt sorry for the woman who knocked the man’s cakes over, she was distraught!

        I thought the first challenges were quite difficult for the first week – battenburg used to be something they’d attempt halfway through the competition because it’s so tricky, and making a bust out of cake?! Really difficult.

        Looking forward to watching the series though.

        1. GoryDetails*

          They really do/did [is it still filming?] all shelter in place for the duration, or so I’ve read; the time may include lead-in quarantine, plus down time between episodes for them to practice the next bakes. In the first episode some of them did talk about the challenges of leaving their families for that long. I imagine it really ramps up the stress, though. [I don’t know if the people who get eliminated have to stay on for the duration to avoid giving things away, or if they can go home right away.]

        2. Great British Bake Off*

          I was following the tag on Twitter, and it was disheartening to find how many people were practically creaming themselves in the excitement of accusing her of sabotage (and faking being upset afterwards), and then again with shouting ‘karma!’ when her showstopper tipped over. I hope she avoided social media during that episode.

        3. Bagpuss*

          Yes, they did it in one block so presumably the episodes were less than a week apart- I think it was around 7 weeks in total , as they really wanted to make it as much like normal as possible- Hollywood Handshakes and all.

      2. Great British Bake Off*

        Can’t say I’m a huge fan of Matt Lucas. Nothing against him, but I find he has a tendency to make everything about himself, liking drawing out the first ‘…bake!’ joke longer than it needed to be.

    2. bassclefchick*

      I loved it! Not really sure about that showstopper challenge though. I would not be able to do that! I’m just wondering how they’re able to concentrate on their bakes when they have a Doctor Who cast member RIGHT THERE!!!

      1. Lemon Curdle*

        To be honest, that’s not what he’s seen as here. I’d say people know him more for Little Britain which was… not good.

      1. ampersand*

        Yes!! We watched it last night and omg the showstopper was unintentionally hilarious. All ended well though. :)

  37. Buggy Crispino*

    It sounds simple, but how do you stop collecting something? I’ve got a small to medium sized collection of retro telephones, and it’s time to stop. But I keep seeing One More Thing that’s different. The “I don’t need it” argument doesn’t work because as a collection I don’t NEED any of them. How do you convince yourself to just stop?

      1. Buggy Crispino*

        Ha ha, Dwight, I think your boyfriend and I might be too alike. But I’m afraid if I collect something else, I would just run into the same kind of addiction there.

    1. Lemon Curdle*

      Maybe you need to do something else with the thing other than buy it? Take a photo, pin it on Pinterest, add it to a Trello board, whatever works for you? That way you get your ‘found thing – do x with thing’ fix without buying it?

      1. Buggy Crispino*

        This is an interesting thought, and kind of falls into the same line of thought that commenter Still mentions below; find a way to kind of finalize what I physically have and move into a different medium that continues that same interest.

    2. Still*

      Just a guess, because I’m not a collector myself, but what if you did a really nice, final photoshoot of your collection? Something that would both feel like a celebration and a wrap-up, and make it annoying to add new items, because then they wouldn’t be included in the photos and throw everything off-balance?

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      Start giving your collection away. Then you don’t have a collection anymore! That is the only thing that worked for my mom, and she enjoyed giving people things they had admired of her after editing her collection to her most special and treasured pieces.

      Your collection sounds cool!

      1. Buggy Crispino*

        If I buy anything else, I would certainly have to start giving things away. I do still love the things I have, and not ready to part with them yet.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I feel you – I have eight vintage Apple computers (1983 to 2008) on display in my home office. For me, it’s a combination of “there’s only one more style that I actually want” (the G4 Cube, sigh) and “I don’t have anywhere left to put any more of them anyway.”

      1. Buggy Crispino*

        I started with a specific item (a “Lucy Phone” the phone Lucy and Ricky had on I Love Lucy) and kind of followed Western Electric’s progression of the changes to the model. Like you, there’s one more that I want, but I keep finding other interesting things along the way.

    5. Llama face!*

      Would it help to do a one in, one out rule? That’s what I had to do with tea mugs since my kitchen storage is limited. And since I love the ones I already have I convince myself out of buying more because then I’d lose a current fave.

    6. PollyQ*

      Can you recast the internal discussion away from “I need it, but I shouldn’t get it” and towards “I want it, but I want the space it would take up more.” Or in other words, you’re making an affirmative choice about how you want to spend your money and the cubic feet of your home, rather than negatively shutting yourself down.

      (Does this make any sense? I feel like I’m not expressing myself well, so let me know if you want clarification.)

    7. OyHiOh*

      At the point where I know I need to stop gathering, I start a “one in/one out” policy. If I find something that different or interesting that I want to represent, then I need to be willing to part with one I already have. This takes will and discipline and probably doesn’t work for most collectors but it’s worked pretty well for me.

      1. Buggy Crispino*

        That’s something I will try. And I think maybe it would help me to know it’s going to another collector who would really appreciate it rather than just sending pieces to Goodwill or thrift shop, etc.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Tapping the same idea, what helped me was to think of getting rid of any two items in order to bring home any new item. Two items are even more work. My impulse buying went way down as the rule applied to everything I bought.

          Another cool thing you can do is make yourself dust it on a regular basis. This cures many purchases also.

          Definitely stay out of areas where you see phones for sale.

          Last, consider limiting yourself to a specific time period, for example x year to y year. My friend was into steam locomotives. So he limited his models to the last of the US locos that came out around the end of WWII. There was still plenty to buy up even with that narrow a window. I got into depression glass and I limited myself to specific patterns and colors. I found that the limitation actually increased my enjoyment of collecting.

    8. KR*

      I take pictures! Then I have a picture of it, take a minute to really enjoy looking at it and admire it, and then keep the picture so I can look at it any time. There’s a bunch of pictures of random things on my phone but I didn’t buy most of the things I took pictures of.

    9. Not trying to be rude, just good at it*

      If it gives you joy, does not hurt you financially, then continue. I have a minor hobby and store my goodies in banana boxes in the cellar. If I see something I like and it’s in my price range, I usually go for it. I don’t drink, have a motorcycle or go to casino’s or strip clubs. This is my joy.

    10. Piano Girl*

      My husband collected comic books from when he was a child to several years into our marriage. He finally stopped because he felt they were no longer true to the original characters. He still loves the characters (he is currently watching a Marvel movie as I type this). Unfortunately, he now has sixteen boxes of comic books, and refuses to do anything about them. They are disorganized, and I know there is a lot of junk mixed in with collector’s items. I’m worried that I will be stuck having to deal with this after he’s gone. Perhaps when you think about your collection, keep in mind someone will have to deal with it after you’re gone.

      1. Everdene*

        Oh Piano Girl! I understand! My husband is the same. After a decade on our current home he has sold maybe 2000 of the comics he loves the least. He has also bought a 4 drawer filing cabinet to keep safe the ones he loves the most. However there are still at least a dozen paper boxes filled with comics in the ‘maybe’ pile. At least his are organised. One weekend we sat down and created a spreadsheet for insurance and selling purposes. It helped identify duplicates and started off the ‘to be sold’ pile without too much pain. He stopped buying new more 6 or 7 years ago, for which I am grateful, but occasionally an ebay find is needed to complete a story.

    11. Workerbee*

      Just speaking from experience, maybe it’s okay to keep collecting until you truly feel/realize one day that you are full up, emotionally or spiritually speaking, with that particular item. I’ve gone through collecting phases and each time I first dimly, then strongly recognized I was resolving some kind of gap, or loss, or longing that I had.

      Over time, I felt satiated and was able to stop collecting X item, also realizing that most of all of X item was subsiding in a box and out of sight. Then it became time to either pick out the most cherished and let the rest go, or let all of it go, with loving acknowledgement of its service and good vibes for it to bring joy anew to someone else. Or, of course, bring it out, appreciate it, and be content until the decision changes.

      For that’s one thing I had to consciously give myself: That I didn’t need to let anyone else’s schedule or expectations govern my needs. Pressure growing up to get rid of things, societal dictation of what makes for optimal living, etc. Bah! I would feel much better not having to make a decision before I was truly ready AND help recognize and manage the next cycle better and better.

      Also, I’ve honed my organizing skills over the years so things weren’t smushed or falling on my head. :)

    12. Girasol*

      I donated my whole collection to a museum that could use it. That seemed to give me the closure I needed to resist buying the next great new find.

  38. ThatGirl*

    Dog update:
    He’s still driving us crazy. This morning he started whining at 1:30 am. It seems like he’s anxious or distressed but we just don’t know what to do to help. Nothing seems to work. I did buy a thunder shirt and it seems to chill him out during the day, but isn’t helping at night. So, I think it’s time to ask the vet again.

    (And for the record, I only mentioned the water spritzing last time as something we’d tried that wasn’t working. I still don’t think it’s that mean, but it doesn’t matter since it didn’t help.)

      1. ThatGirl*

        What other info do you need? He’s about 9 years old, a rescue, Maltese-poodle mix, we’ve had him for 6+ years and he’s always slept through the night beautifully before now. But it’s been a rough year and his anxiety levels seem high. The very early morning whining started a few weeks ago. Same crate and bedding he’s always had. If we put his crate in the hall he just fusses and whines even more. If we take him out to pee he does, but keeps whining once he’s back in the crate. If we leave him out if the crate he won’t settle anywhere for awhile or stay on the bed.

        1. Generic Name*

          I was going to say it’s not unusual for a dog to have to pee in the middle of the night, especially as they get older. Our pup, who’s almost 2, sometimes needs to be let out in the middle of the night, but she always settles back down when we bring her back in. Maybe he’s in pain? I agree that it’s time to get stuff checked out with the vet.

        2. Dwight Schrute*

          Hmm I’m wondering if he can hear something you can’t hear that’s upsetting him. You’ve done a vet check right? You could try giving him a kong or lickimat after the middle of the night pee to see if he will settle and go back to sleep too.

          1. ThatGirl*

            He had a checkup in August, and labs run in July after a seizure. His eyes seem fine and he’s pretty healthy. It’s possible he’s in some pain or discomfort, but he doesn’t show it during the day at all,

        3. RC Rascal*

          Has the vet checked his vision? I had a cat that started crying at night. Turned out he was going blind. Installed night lights around the house and it solved the problem.

        4. ...*

          Have you checked his ears? could he have an ear infection? This causes excessive whining for my dog until we get treatment

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If it is happening at the same time every night, he may be hearing something you are not. When my mother was first starting to lose her hearing, the dog “started going crazy”…turns out dog heard the smoke detector’s low-battery beep and she didn’t.
      If you are in an apartment, it could also be as simple and unavoidable as a neighbor who is working an early morning shift, or who’s caring for a baby.
      If you are working from home or have a phone with audible notifications, try turning them off before bedtime, even if they’re tiny bongs through headphones.

      1. ThatGirl*

        While it’s typically around the same time, it’s not always – last night it was 1 am. We live in a townhome (end unit, walls are concrete) and silence our phones at night. And we’d hear the smoke detector. But I do appreciate the ideas.

        1. Stephanie*

          My sister once had something similar happen with her dog, and it was the smoke detector warning beep. It was going off at long enough intervals that she wasn’t hearing it (she was asleep), but it was driving the dog crazy. It would beep once, and trigger the dog, waking her up. She’d get the dog to calm down a little. Then she’d fall back asleep and it would happen again.
          I wonder if he might be having some pain issues? Maybe arthritis or something else that flares up more at night? I know he’s been to the vet recently, but if it’s happening with this much regularity, I would probably at least call and ask some questions (my vet is really good about answering questions over the phone to help decide if you need to bring them in for a visit).
          I hope you get this resolved soon, it sounds exhausting and annoying (and the poor dog sounds stressed, too).

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It still might be worth asking about middle of the night sounds for the person whose walls you share. If they are doing off our conference calls with someone in another time zone, for example, you could try teaching the dog to stop announcing when they hear that person’s voice.

          1. ThatGirl*

            The wall we share with our neighbors is concrete and *I* can’t hear anything. I’m pretty sure neither of the neighbors are doing 4 a.m. conference calls. It’s possible the dog is hearing something, I can’t rule it out, but I am about as sure as I can be that he’s not interrupting them.

      2. Deanna Troi*

        This happened to us and was making us crazy, although it was happening at 3:00 AM consistently. Then my husband was talking to our neighbor, who told him that she had a new job where we got home at 3:00 AM. Her house is 400 feet from ours, so we didn’t hear the car pulling into driveway, but our high strung husky heard it. We started using a fan in our bedroom for white noise, and it helped most nights.

        1. ThatGirl*

          We do have fans going at night, I’ve used one for white noise for years. We live in front of a condo complex so it’s not impossible but I have no way to know for certain if he’s hearing something we can’t!

    2. university minion*

      If you don’t currently do it, offer a cookie before bed or move mealtime to later. If you normally feed once per day, switch up to twice per day. Rumbly stomachs are often enough to cause restlessness in the middle of the night.

    3. Wehaf*

      Would you consider trying CBD oil before bed, or when he gets up? I’ve heard good things about it for anxiety in dogs.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’d consider it, for sure. At this point I’m waiting to hear back from the vet to get her recommendation. And this morning he started in at 4:30, it’s currently 8:50 and he’s pacing around the living room whining.

  39. Lost in the Library*

    Does anyone have any advice for coping with feeling like you’re really, really behind in life?

    A casual comment a co-worker made at work just made me feel like “woah, I’m a loser and I’m not where I should be in life!!!!” She’s 3 years younger than me (29 and I’m 32) and a department head at the library we work at. I’m just here for a 1-year contract position. She made a comment about how she wants to enjoy the last year of her 20s and maybe have a baby with her s/o. Something about this offhand comment just made all of my self-esteem collapse. I never got to enjoy the “end” of my 20s because my dad died and I had to deal with my mentally ill mother. My career isn’t where it should be due to anxiety/depression. I thought that taking this job would put me ahead. It’s my first postion after getting my MLIS. But now, I can’t help but compare myself to someone who is a department head at the age of 29. My contract position ends in 2 months and it looks like I’ll be unemployed for the forseeable future… it’s so hard not to compare myself to her and I just feel like a total loser in all aspects of life.

    I am in therapy, but I’m wondering if anyone might have any book/podcast/etc. recommendations that might make me feel a bit better about my life? How do you stop comparing? It just makes me feel sad that my life seems to be going nowhere. I also just feel so OLD at 32. I truly feel like I’ve missed my chance to find a partner, have a child, own a home, etc. Like, I don’t even have a permanent job!!

    1. Ali G*

      Don’t give in to the “it’s all downhill after 30” crap. I feel bad for her that she thinks she needs to enjoy her last year as a 20-something because apparently every thing sucks after that? Or what?
      I never got the fixation with getting all the milestones done before 30. That’s dumb. Everyone is different. I didn’t meet my husband until my thirties. He was 40 when we got married (we don’t plan to have kids so that’s not an issue).
      Focus on your life and what you want out of it. Get a better job, live your life. What if you never meet someone? So what? I basically assumed I wasn’t going to and focused on my family, friendships, getting a dog, and building a career. I was happy. Imagine when this dude blew into my life and shook it up! I wasn’t looking for a partner, but in living my life I found one. But I would have been ok if I hadn’t.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          Same. I remember dreading turning 30 when I was in my mid- to late 20s because of all the stuff I thought I should have achieved by then. Then I got to my 30th birthday and was actually surprised how OK I felt it about it all! I’ll be 33 on Friday and, despite it being a difficult couple of years, I feel a lot calmer and more settled in myself now than I ever did in my 20s.

    2. Janet Pinkerton*

      Okay first of all, it seems thoughtless to complain about aging to someone who’s older than you.

      Second, you should be proud of yourself for getting a one-year contract librarian job right after getting your MLIS! It takes lots of MLISes years to actually get into the field at all. Especially working full time at one library, even on a short-term contract. I have one friend who, five years in, broke in by working at a prison library. It’s rough out there. Your 29-year-old department head probably went right through library school after undergrad. (That’s what I did and my wife did. The people who had actually lived a little life before going were much more well-rounded humans. We both got lucky in our series of jobs—both had right-place-right-time kind of deals that got us in the door. And I’ve literally never worked in the field, just used the skills at my unrelated job. And the skills do transfer.) This contract position does put you ahead of where you were and where you would be without it. It’s just exceptionally poor timing for the rest of the world.

      Next, you have dealt with so much with your family over the past several years. I’m sorry about your dad and I’m sorry about your mom. It’s wretchedly unfair but we all have different starting points and different difficulties. And librarianship is not an easy field. It’s a hard path you’re walking and I’m sorry for that.

      And last, 32 is definitely not too old for those things. There are many women having kids in their late 30s and early 40s. Yes, there’s often medical intervention, but there’s still a baby at the end. (We are doing IVF—no sperm, you see—and it’s a pain but it’s gonna be worth it.) My favorite story of hope is my coworker’s daughter who just adopted a baby at 45. She thought she was never going to find a baby to adopt, that they’d never be picked, and they were! And they have a baby! And he’s named after their favorite meadow! It can happen for you, even if it’s later and not exactly how you imagined it.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      YOU ARE NOT OLD. Age is relative, sure. But it’s a number.

      Life is not a competition or a board game. There are no set milestones that everyone achieves except the end game. It sounds like you have a lot of things in your life that have been heavy to carry – I am so sorry to hear that. You are working toward being fulfilled, which is always good. I jumped from job to job for a while and didn’t have a career like my peers – but I was running my own race, just like you are. I changed jobs for the last time at 35, met my husband at 36, got married at 38 and had two kids in my 40s. Are those traditional life markers? Sure. Are those the markers by which I measure my life? No. I mean, those things are special to me but lots of people do them. Paying off my stupidly acquired credit card debt? BIG. My special needs son graduating from therapy? BIG. Testifying in court for a student being abused at home? HUGE. The world tells us that we have to hit its definition of success. WE DO NOT. You make your own definitions of success.

      Podcast recommendations: Brene Brown is great. And try Imagined Life. Not only is it engaging, you will hear all of the obstacles that really accomplished people overcame (or didn’t!). It’s really good.

      There is a saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Words could not be more true. Hang in there! And please come back and let us know how you are doing. I am pulling for you!

    4. Dan*

      For stuff like this, the motivation really has to come from within. I don’t think there’s too much in the way of magic words or whatever that makes this all go away.

      I got a late start in my career because I honestly spent just under a decade making some false starts and “figuring things out”. I found something that pays well, I’m good at, and I like, so in many ways it’s loads better than getting on the “normal” path with a job I didn’t like that much because I just went with the flow.

      That said… I work with people do did the normal thing, and got promoted to levels higher than me while being close to ten years younger than me. (We’re talking jobs that pay close to $200k at this point, so these higher positions are *not* nothing to sneeze at.) If I focus on that, I’m just going to be miserable.

      Separately… I have some *very* good friends in their fifties who never had kids due to infertility issues. They did IVF and the whole nine yards. Without the obligation of kids, they’ve got the ability to travel to Europe every year and all that fun stuff. On the flip side, many of their relatives have kids, and don’t have the money for the vacations. The relatives are all like, “oh you’re so lucky, we’re *so* jealous, blah blah blah”. I just looked at my friend and asked, “do your relatives *know* that the reason you have the ability to do this is because you had to make peace with not having something you really wanted, and the thing you gave up is something they have?” My friend’s response was, “good point.”

    5. Courageous cat*

      Yo, I’m 33 and having a lot of the same things. I’ve now been single for two years due to my pickiness, and my career feels so stagnant, like I am not learning anything or getting anywhere with it. My 26-year-old coworker who I’m good friends with, meanwhile, is surpassing me in every stage in life it seems like. It is hard at this age. But even I at 33 know you haven’t missed your chance to find a partner/have a child/etc. A lot a lot a lot can change in the next 1 year, 2 years, 3 years. Think about points in time in the past where you’ve had a lot change in a year. That can and probably will happen again.

      (That said, the pandemic makes all of this much harder, because I am sure we are similarly feeling this: how in the hell is anything supposed to change/how am I supposed to meet someone if nothing ever happens and I can barely leave my house? Annoying)

    6. Thankful for AAM*

      How awful for her that she is peaking in her 20s!
      Seriously, life goes up and down, back and forth. It is not a race to some unknown heights (I know you know that).
      Also, libraries are a bit odd sometimes. We have seen part-timers rise from circ to head of reference and others with years in and skills get passed over for promotions.

      Look what you have done! You got an MLIS and have a job when times are tough and some people never get a library job even with the MLIS. You got your MLIS despite a mom with mental illness and losing your dad and managing your own anxiety/depression. Many people could not do one of those things!

      I don’t know if it helps but I saw this once and it makes me laugh:
      in you 20s you care what other people think of you, in your 40s you stop caring what other people think, in your 60s, you realize they were not thinking of you at all.

    7. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I know exactly how you feel. I didn’t have my first full time permanent job until I was 29. I took 6 years to graduate college and had a shitty GPA. First baby at 35. Still don’t have a home of my own. Didn’t know how to drive til I was 30. Never had the confidence/self esteem to be a “hot young thing” lol.
      I feel like theres more of us than the opposite.

      So, when I think about it, yeah everyone can say I’m a loser……but I don’t feel like a loser (well usually I don’t lol). While I have some insecurities, I learned that we all have our issues and load to deal with in life. There’s no linear way to success (however you define it)

    8. ampersand*

      I get feeling like 32 is old. It’s the oldest you’ve ever been! It actually makes sense to me that people feel old at any age. :) It’s not like we start out at 90 and get younger and therefore understand what old is. And I understand where you’re coming from–I could have written this. At 32 my life also felt like it was going nowhere. At 40, it’s definitely better.

      I was late to get married and have a baby (in my late 30s), and I’ve floundered with a career despite trying. I’ve always felt behind my peers and I still struggle with where I am in life even though I’m overall content. I still have moments where I compare myself to friends or colleagues and find my situation lacking–so I wallow a bit and then focus my attention elsewhere. Sometimes it helps to talk to a friend about it. I think it’s okay to feel bad about this; it can help to acknowledge and work through these feelings vs. trying to just wish them away. It’s difficult when you realize that life isn’t going as planned, and I think that happens to many people (did you read Alison’s post and comments about work sucking earlier this week? I recommend it). Honestly, your 29-year-old coworker is the outlier here, not you. Most people aren’t department heads at 29, and many people delay having children (for all the reasons) until their 30s. You haven’t missed out on everything you want, I promise! There’s still time and there’s a good chance you can and will have the things you want.

    9. Aza*

      Not sure if it’s helpful, but a dear friend of mine had an ivf daughter on her own at 42 or 43. A couple years later, she had a second daughter, same method.

      I think she’s the bravest, coolest person. I know it wasn’t/isn’t easy, but she basically decided to just go for it.

      Point being, there’s more than one route to a full life.

    10. Parenthetically*

      Oh boy so much of this could have been written by me 7 or 8 years ago! (Not that it really matters, but I’m coming up on my 5th anniversary and have two awesome kids now.)

      Be gentle with yourself. Comparison is natural, but your initial “oh crap my whole life is just not where I want it to be or hoped it would be” doesn’t have to be the final word. How can you add to that? What about separating the feelings? “Jane is very successful. She is also younger than me. AND. Her success doesn’t take anything from me, or say anything about my value as a person, my potential, my life path.”

      Sending you good thoughts.

    11. OyHiOh*

      It’s all downhill after your 20’s is nonsense that perpetuates the myth of the child prodigy and the cult of youth. I haven’t felt like I knew/had experienced enough to even begin to make an impact in my community until I hit 40!

      You have a degree which you might luck into being able to use as intended, or you might find yourself using the knowledge and skills gained from it in wildly unexpected ways. Either way, you have a degree which taught you how to research and organize information, and you have professional experience to go with it. Those are incredibly valuable skills to have. You may need to think a bit out of the box to find an ideal niche to settle into but you’re not a human who has “wasted” valuable years; you’re a human who has gained knowledge, skills, and experience, and probably a good bit of wisdom to go along with.