weekend open thread – October 17-18, 2020

Tech update: We closed comments for a while  to work on the site but they’re back up now. There may be continuing technical weirdness on Sunday as the work continues; don’t be alarmed.

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: Leave the World Behind, by Rumaan Alam. A family vacationing in a remote area and the owners of the house they’re staying in get trapped when a mysterious global disaster strikes. It starts as a vacation novel, but it decidedly is not one. I don’t normally enjoy dread, but this sucked me in.

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

{ 632 comments… read them below }

  1. Scout Finch*

    I heard an interview with Rumaan Alam on NPR last week. Great interview. Sounds like the book is not your everyday spine tingle.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      He has great columns for Slate’s Care and Feeding parenting column. Interesting even for non-parents.

          1. Mid*

            Yes! I still love Nicole though. She’s so kind but direct. I strongly dislike 80% of what Michelle writes. I feel bad though, because she gets a lot of online hate that I don’t think is deserved.

  2. Aries not a farmer*

    I’m glad the site’s up and running again; I missed it!

    What other forums are there to chat and ask advice on, that you know of?

      1. Aries not a farmer*

        Thanks. Doesn’t look like I’d get much use out of it in the week but the weekend forum looks varied. Do you use it?

      1. Aries not a farmer*

        Oh that’s fun! And loads of maths questions I’d never know the answer to. Do you use it often? It’s set up a bit like reddit is, isn’t it?

      1. Aries not a farmer*

        General forum to ask advice on, that’s polite and well moderated, and doesn’t have heavy topics such as mental health crises e.g.

        1. FOCA*

          I’ve haven’t been there in years, but I know there’s an affiliate forum of Captain Awkward called Friends of Captain Awkward that might be helpful!

  3. Lady Heather*

    I got some news this week that I’m suuper-excited about – I’m not comfortable sharing specifics yet, because of privacy and because it may still fall through, but I’m SUPER EXCITED and happy and stuff.

    *Thing* was expected to happen sometime in the next two years with a lot of effort, and it happened this week without effort.

    I wanted to share my excitement even if not the news itself. :) Because it’s hard to contain excitement when I’m doing somersaults in my head!

    1. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Yay that’s so exciting! I know full well that feeling. hope it goes well for you! <3

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes the stars go into alignment. Congrats on Exciting Thing.

      Now… some of us would like to stand 6ft away but “next” to you in the hopes that this good fortunate rubs off on us…. from 6ft away, of course.

  4. Blue Eagle*

    Gardening Thread

    I finally harvested the remainder of the green straggler tomatoes. Not sure if they will ever ripen but will give them a try. Also harvested the remaining leaves on the swiss chard to make the Monterey chicken casserole. This needs to be done before the leaves drop so I can mulch the leaves back into the raised bed garden. This summer’s garden was definitely a success! JOY!

    1. Lizabeth*

      Nice weather today so pulled the dead plants, gave the iris haircuts, deadheaded my mums and put away the hanging pots. Now to consider where I’m putting the daffodil bulbs in the front yard and will probably separate the iris and spread them out more. The azaleas need the deadwood trimmed out too. We won’t talk about the hydrangea bush. It was gorgeous this year until the rains beat it down.

      Happiness is cooler weather and no mosquitos!

      1. Pamela Adams*

        A British writer- Beverley Nichols- said that the best way to plant daffodils, etc. was to place them on a tea tray and toss them in the air, planting them where they landed. This gives a naturalistic effect, but may work best where one has space.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I adore Beverly Nichols’ “Merry Hall”…bought it on a whim because of the name & sketches, and refer to it so often that I’ve been watching for more of his books at used bookstores & tag sales. I’m about to give up on serendipity and go through mail order. :)  He is the inspiration behind my overwintered geranium obsession.

    2. Pennyworth*

      My father used to pull up the whole tomato plant, complete with green tomatoes, and hand it in the shed where they continued to ripen.

      1. pancakes*

        That’s very clever! And seems ideal for the tomatoes. I don’t have a shed for my fire escape tomatoes, but I do have insulating bags for them if necessary, and grow lights for my indoor plant. It’s been a warm autumn here (NYC, around 60° F at night lately) and I haven’t needed the insulation. My understanding is you can ripen green tomatoes indoors, but they’re delicious fried in sandwiches & salads. I might try pickling some, too.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          A long time ago, I had way too many green tomatoes, and tried a green tomato pickle. Learn from my mistake… Do not use plain table salt where a recipe calls for kosher salt. The smaller finer grain of table salt throw off the measures. I made an unusably salty pickle.

          1. Janne*

            Or ditch the measuring cups and weigh your ingredients. It’s much more accurate and you don’t depend on the shape of the ingredients as much. ;)
            I’m sad to hear that your pickle was inedible. Did you make another one later?

    3. KoiFeeder*

      The crocuses reached a whole foot. Now they’ve fallen over. Adding more water didn’t help (and it did cause some little fuzzy things to appear, which usually means I added too much water). I am not sure if this is normal or a problem.

      Sigh. I’m really not good with plants.

      1. pancakes*

        If they were a foot tall I think you did more than fine! Some plants make fuzzy things, idk about crocuses though. (I have two staghorn ferns and there’s often weird fuzzy stuff going on around the base, but ferns are weird plants). I looked up crocuses on Gardeners’ World and they say, “Always let the foliage die back completely after flowering.”

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Oh, so this is normal for them! They got up to a foot tall, bloomed, and then promptly fell over and I’ve just been “???” about the whole thing. If they just do that, that does make me feel better.

          (The little fuzzy things are a gray mold, I know they’re mold because when I removed the dirt that had them I had an asthma attack.)

          1. Venus*

            My irises often fall over when they bloom, as they appear to have been bred to the point where they can’t reliably keep themselves up as the flower is too big for the stem. The ones in groups of plants seem to do better as they get some outside support.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              The nice thing about autumn crocuses is that the bulbs have big groups of crocuses, but that’s a valuable point to keep in mind, thank you!

          2. Venus*

            My irises often fall over when they bloom, as they appear to have been bred to the point where they can’t reliably keep themselves up as the flower is too big for the stem. The ones in groups of plants seem to do better as they get some outside support.

    4. Venus*

      Almost all of my green tomatoes ripened indoors this year. The ones that don’t ripen at all have a different shade of green, and I tend to recognise it in hindsight if I looked more carefully. I have some that are finally starting to turn pink a few weeks later, so don’t give up on them too quickly.

      I tried hanging the entire plant up last year with the idea that it would help them ripen better and for longer, but I don’t think it worked any differently than the kitchen counter for me. I just ended up with a mess of dried leaves in a place where I didn’t want them and had some work to get them out of the shed. It doesn’t hurt to try, but it wasn’t a much better option for me.

    5. Thankful for AAM*

      Went to the Mounts Botanical Gardens today, with face mask! Had a lovely, sunny day. First sunny day in ages. I bought a couple of butterfly plants. It was a really lovely day.

    6. Tomatoes*

      Of them don’t ripen or you get impatient: My friend once made a green tomato pie. I was super hesitant about trying it, but it honestly tasted exactly like an apple pie! We had watched him make it, and asked him when he switched out the ingredients :-D

    7. Girasol*

      Me too – the green tomatoes are indoors waiting to turn red enough to be spaghetti sauce. Everything else is in too, just ahead of frost: about a hundred pounds of veggies out of my small set of raised beds! And my hat is woad blue now. I harvested the woad and made the dye and it worked. What a science fair event, though! You put boiling water on the green woad leaves and then strain out the liquid, which is reddish. You add washing soda which makes it green. You aerate it and add dye remover, which makes it blue, and then let it set until it’s green again. You take a white hat and dunk it in the green liquid which makes it chrome yellow. Then you take it out and it turns blue as it oxidizes in air. This was so fun! I mulched the woad plants because I’ve got to do it again next year.

    8. Girasol*

      Me too – the green tomatoes are indoors waiting to turn red enough to be spaghetti sauce. Everything else is in too, just ahead of frost: about a hundred pounds of veggies out of my small set of raised beds! And my hat is woad blue now. I harvested the woad and made the dye and it worked. What a science fair event, though! You put boiling water on the green woad leaves and then strain out the liquid, which is reddish. You add washing soda which makes it green. You aerate it and add dye remover, which makes it blue, and then let it set until it’s green again. You take a white hat and dunk it in the green liquid which makes it chrome yellow. Then you take it out and it turns blue as it oxidizes in air. This was so fun! I mulched the woad plants because I’ve got to do it again next year.

    9. Thankful for AAM*

      IGUANAS!!!!
      It looks like something is nibbling my tomato plants after all, darn it!
      I am going to buy coyote pee as that is supposed to keep them away.

  5. Goose*

    I may officially be done with Midwest fall/winter. Any folks here from the Miami area? Pros, cons, average rent price for a 1 bedroom? I’m looking to be about an hour from my parents in Delray, so any other areas I should be looking at as a nearly 30 single queer gal? Thanks!

    1. acmx*

      Miami is expensive with a lot of traffic and more than an hour from Delray. A one bedroom in Miami Beach at least $1400. Maybe a couple hundred less for less desirable areas (meaning further from beach or night life).
      Wilton Manors (Fort Lauderdale) might be an area for you to look at.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Look at West Palm Beach also. It’s north of Delray and has a good queer community. Less frenetic than Miami but lots of other pluses (career opportunities, ability to settle down there long term).

      Other areas in Palm Beach county are an option too that are cheaper than West Palm Beach.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      Miami is pricey! Wilson manors is a very gay friendly community. Boynton Beach, north of Delray Beach, is growing and a bit boho. Lake Worth, a bit further north, is also fun and funky.

      I’m in the area and love it all. Hope you find a welcoming place you love. Lots of people are moving here since WFH is growing so I suggest moving quickly. Realtors tell me they have never been busier.

    4. Texan In Exile*

      I don’t have average prices but in the late ’90s, I lived in Coconut Grove and loved it there. Walkable neighborhood, by the water, close to Calle 8 and all the great Cuban restaurants. My rent in 1997 was $850/month for a very cute post-war two bedroom, one bath duplex.

      Traffic was bad during commute hours, but I discovered that if I got out early on the weekend, it took no time to do anything – Miami is (was) a party town and most people were still sleeping in or trickling back home after a night out.

    5. Courageous cat*

      I lived there in 2016 and $1100-1200 was about the lowest I could find for a 1br 1ba. It’s probably gone up a bit.

      Pros: very beautiful, lovely beaches, lots of cool restaurants
      Cons: it is VERY BENEFICIAL to speak spanish (lots of landlords and uber drivers don’t speak english), paying for parking LITERALLY EVERYWHERE, drinks are expensive, eerything is expensive, no fall or winter (I thought it would get below 75-80 in the winter at least – it did not), not much in the way of dive-y/gritty, need a car

    6. Courageous cat*

      I lived there in 2016 and $1100-1200 was about the lowest I could find for a 1br 1ba. It’s probably gone up a bit.

      Pros: very beautiful, lovely beaches, lots of cool restaurants
      Cons: it is VERY BENEFICIAL to speak spanish (lots of landlords and uber drivers don’t speak english), paying for parking LITERALLY EVERYWHERE, drinks are expensive, eerything is expensive, no fall or winter (I thought it would get below 75-80 in the winter at least – it did not), not much in the way of dive-y/gritty, need a car

  6. bassclefchick*

    Let’s talk podcasts!

    I’ve been listening to two podcasts recently that have just been amazing! Literally with Rob Lowe and David Tennant does a podcast with. Both have had amazing guests (This week’s Literally was with Aaron Sorkin! West Wing nerdfest!!!) and I’ve learned things about both the hosts and the guests that I didn’t know. I picked up those podcasts because I like the hosts, of course, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised about the topics and directions the conversations have been going.

    So – how about you? What podcast did you start on a whim and really love? OR – what podcast did you start because you were interested in the subject, but didn’t end up liking it? For me, I really wanted to like Last Podcast on the Left, but their voices just totally grated on me and I couldn’t get through 20 minutes of an episode before I had to stop.

    1. Achoo*

      Oh, good to hear about Literally. I enjoyed RL as a guest on Conan’s podcast, but his politics are such that I’ve held off.

      1. bassclefchick*

        He hasn’t mentioned politics at all. Which is refreshing, because I think we’re all sick of politics, no matter which side of the aisle you’re on.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      A little niche, but I am EXTREMELY digging Case Notes, which is about sensational stories in classical music (the Italian composer Carlo Gesualdo who was also a prince who murdered his wife and got away with it; Mozart’s secret client who commissioned him to write the Requiem). There are only six episodes and I really wish there were more! I’ve been listening to them bit by bit while in the shower to make them last.

    3. Dan*

      As for podcasts I’ve dropped… there’s only really been one: American History Tellers. The show started off by trying to tell history from a “first person” perspective, and I thought the first few series were done well. But IMHO, it sort of drifted from its original premise (the “first person” perspective) and for some reason, I lost interest. I think, for me, the issue with podcasts is that I have to listen to ones where there are multiple speakers — if there’s only one, after awhile, my brain just bleeds it all together and I stop processing. So with this one, when it gravitated to just one speaker, I couldn’t focus anymore.

      More generally, I have a love/hate relationship with wondery podcasts. On balance, they have way too many ads. I use a podcast app that lets me skip with ease, but when wondery is trying to promote new podcasts, I generally don’t subscribe. Yes, there’s a paid version, but with so many free podcasts out there, I find it hard to want to pay.

    4. MsChanandlerBong*

      I really wanted to like My Favorite Murder, but I just can’t stand the hosts. I am LOVING Special Viewing Unit, which is run by two guys who watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and mock it mercilessly. They are absolutely hilarious, and they seem to be really good guys as well. I listen to Office Ladies, but Jenna Fischer grates on me at times, so it’s not a must-listen for me. I also recently started a few podcasts on 30 Rock, Frasier, and Twin Peaks.

      1. bassclefchick*

        MFM is one of my favorites! I even got to meet them. But I get they’re not for everyone. Might have to check out the one for Frasier, thanks!

      2. LGC*

        Ditto. Funny thing is, I adore Hall of Shame, and that’s basically the sports version of MFM!

        (Although, I feel like the MFM format works better when you’re talking about how awful FIFA is than true crime.

    5. Torrance*

      I’m a big fan of Death in the Afternoon, run by the Order of the Good Death (aka Ask a Mortician’s Caitlin Doughty & her colleagues). There’s currently only two seasons available (17.5 episodes total) so it’s not a huge time investment. There’s episodes debunking urban legends, talking about the history of death & mourning, & some of the best are simply educating listeners on their death-related rights. I think I just made it sound horribly dull but it’s honestly really entertaining.

      1. Grace*

        Yes to Death in the Afternoon! There are some very fun episodes, if your idea of fun is morbid, which mine is

    6. Mid*

      I also am not a fan of LPotL.

      I like Critical Role, Adventure Zone, The Adult Chair, The Women’s War, Nightvale, And That’s Why We Drink, and 99% Invisible. (I’ve gotten very lonely working alone all these months and have found a constant stream of podcasts helps.)

    7. Double A*

      I started listening to Everything is Alive, where he interviews inanimate objects played by actors (totally random things: a chainsaw, a soda, a bag of soap, Russian nesting dolls). It’s super charming and entertaining. I think my favorite episode is the lamppost.

      I listen to a lot of politics podcasts and The Weeds is my favorite.

      In terms of podcasts I’ve faded off, one is Death Sex and Money. Anna Sale is a really good interviewer, but I guess I just got kind of bored of the topic and format. The only interview show I really like anymore is The Ezra Klein show. I guess I want to hear about someone’s area of expertise and not really just their life.

    8. Arya Parya*

      I love How Did This Get Made. It’s three comedians and sometimes guests that discuss a bad movie every two weeks. I think they recently did Cats, so I hope that one will be up soon.

      1. CTT*

        A corollary to that is This Had Oscar Buzz, about movies with high expectations that got zero Oscar nominations. I love it – it’s silly, but also the conversations around a particular year‘s narrative or actor’s awards trajectory are fascinating. And their Cats episode is coming next year! (They like to wait at least a year after the awards season for which it was snubbed)

    9. Emma*

      I have two podcasts that I listen to every episode:

      Darknet Diaries is a great podcast tellng unbelievable true stories about hacking and cybercrime. The research is great and they have some very interesting interviews, but for me the real hook is the host, whose name I’ve embarrassingly forgotten. He’s a great storyteller, engaging, and he brings out the drama in what could otherwise be sometimes dry events; and he tells the stories in a very accessible way that doesn’t require technical knowledge to follow what’s happening. I listened to the episode on a big hack of the IRS while building a Lego bank and really enjoyed the thematic harmony of that one.

      The other is a UK podcast called The Log Books. It’s a short series put together by the LGBT+ Switchboard in London, where they get on various guests to talk about their experiences of being LGBT+ in the UK; the first season focuses on the late 70s and early 80s, while season 2 will go into the AIDS crisis. It’s great to hear a UK perspective since so much reported LGBT+ history is focused on the US, and it’s just a very warm and emotional thing to listen to.

    10. Helvetica*

      I’ve been listening to a Youtuber’s podcast, first because I watch her videos but have grown to really like.
      It’s called Simplypodlogical – spin-off from SimplyNailogical who used to do nail art but the podcast is really varied in topics, she and her boyfriend have covered life in Canada, realities of social media, getting healthy, etc. I just think she is really interesting and has interesting opinions and her and her boyfriend have a really good rapport for a podcast. Even if you have no interest in nail art, I would recommend her because I find these very enlightening to listen to.

    11. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m a HUGE fan of Stuff You Should Know! Episodes are pretty much always interesting and you get a decent overview. I also enjoy Josh and Chuck’s tangents and banter. I’d suggest starting with an episode on a topic you’re not SUPER familiar with since they don’t do deep dives

    12. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m a HUGE fan of Stuff You Should Know! Episodes are pretty much always interesting and you get a decent overview. I also enjoy Josh and Chuck’s tangents and banter. I’d suggest starting with an episode on a topic you’re not SUPER familiar with since they don’t do deep dives

    13. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m a huge fan of Stuff You Should Know! They do a decent overview on a wide range of topics and the episodes are pretty much always interesting. I love their banter and tangents too. I’d suggest starting with an episode on a topic you’re not SUPER familiar with since then don’t do deep dives. You can also listen in whatever order you’d like

    14. Kindly remove your monkeys from my circus*

      Not quite the definition of “start” that you meant, but I started recording a podcast with my brother about cover songs. Episode 148 drops tomorrow. Hope you like it!
      https://thecoverupcast.com/

  7. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

    A friend who’s had a horrible 2020 just had to take her dog in for emergency bloat surgery today. He’s young and a big dog: Rottie Shepherd mix. Does anyone have any bloat prevention products for big dogs like tried and true slow feeders that they would viably recommend? Or has anyone else experienced this and gotten good tips from their veterinarian on future prevention?

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Sir Fusspot’s problem wasn’t bloat and he was a corgi so it might not work as well on a bigger dog, but we had a lot of success slowing down his eating with a feeding mat- I think the tag says “Wooly Snuffle Mat” but it’s been a little chewed up.

      He also wasn’t able to destroy it like he gleefully did with several other slow feeding options, so that’s a plus!

      1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

        Thank you, I will look into this for her (she has another dog, so I suspect she’ll have to start feeding them completely separately so they don’t “race” to finish).

    2. Mid*

      We did the tennis ball in the bowl trick for a while with our dog, and then switched to a maze bowl when she realized she could just move the ball out of her bowl.

      1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

        Oooh, good idea, but I know he is “ball driven”, so I think he’d just take it right on out of there, too!

    3. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I don’t know about bloating, but for slow feeding I start by giving more meals per day with smaller portions, which I manage by scooping out the daily amount in the morning and I’m not fussy about exact portions at each feeding.
      A few options:
      * as mentioned by KoiFeeder, snuffle mats are very popular these days in the rescue community and a lot of people are using them successfully. I know of one rescuer that has used them for months. They can be handmade or bought from some rescues as they seem to be a popular fundraiser right now
      * scatter in the backyard so the dog has to go searching in a patch of grass. This didn’t work with my dimwitted recent foster as he gave up quickly, but the Labrador retriever found most within a few minutes yet would search for another 20 minutes just in case he had missed that one kibble
      * leave little piles of kibble around the house for the dog to search and find, ideally by smell. This only works if you don’t mind the dog eating off the floor, which is my one big advantage to a place with cheap flooring because it is nearly indestructible and I don’t have to worry about a bit of saliva. I do this in winter as a substitute for scattering in the grass
      * kong filled with kibbles, ideally frozen to increase the time required to eat kibbles. This is a time-honored way of addressing separation anxiety with dogs, by giving them a food problem that takes a loooooong time to completely thaw, and it works in any situation for slowing eating. The biggest problem is that it takes a while to freeze so you either need several kongs or you don’t do it for each meal. I sometimes hide the kong in the house to make it more fun, although if a dog has separation anxiety then the kong is usually given while the dog is crated just before I leave the house so in theory the dog doesn’t notice my disappearance

      1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

        Thank you for these suggestions! She has another dog so I think she has to find an effective way to slow feed completely away from the other dog. He is crate trained, so the kong idea might work! Maybe lots of small “kong meals”.

    4. Betty*

      I had good luck with the maze bowls by outward hound. I also tried one that divided the bowl into four sections, almost like a clover pattern. That kind didn’t slow my dog down enough.

    5. Amy*

      Do you know if the vet did a gastropexy (suturing the stomach to the body wall) during the surgical correction? Most vets do, after they de-rotate the stomach, to help prevent recurrence.

      1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

        Yes, they did tack his stomach so hopefully that will help a lot. In addition to slowing down air intake when eating. He just has to make it 24 hours post op with no necrotic tissue.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve heard of people doing training days where all the dog’s kibble is given as rewards & incentives.

      1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

        Good idea, it’s something she can do with both her dogs on the days she works from home!

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We got a slow feeding bowl when we adopted our bud because his foster warned us that he was a very fast eater. I think we just went to Petco and picked one up. We’ve had it for seven years now.

      We’re also careful not to let him run around too much after he eats. We got into the early habit of walk/dog park first thing in the morning, food when we get back. He’s older now and doesn’t run straight for his bowl anymore, but this was great when he did.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We got a slow feeding bowl when we adopted our bud because his foster warned us that he was a very fast eater. I think we just went to Petco and picked one up. We’ve had it for seven years now.

      We’re also careful not to let him run around too much after he eats. We got into the early habit of walk/dog park first thing in the morning, food when we get back. He’s older now and doesn’t run straight for his bowl anymore, but this was great when he did.

    9. Brioche*

      Ahh yes. My Rottweiler hasn’t had bloat problems, but he has inhaled his food so fast that he immediately threw it back up. So gross.

      I got him a puzzle feeder and it has worked wonders. He’s gotten pretty fast at it, but nowhere near as bad as he was before. Sometimes I’ll give him half of his meal in the puzzle bowl, wait til he eats that portion, and then give him the rest. Before the puzzle bowl, I put his food on a large cookie tray. (I needed my tray back, so he got the new bowl.)

  8. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Crocheting thread!

    I started a new blanket using Bernat Baby Velvet yarn. I’m only 7 rows in but I’m thinking I may frog the whole thing and give up on it. I’d been warned by others, but with this yarn you have to have really tight tension or the loops seem to be pulled loose very easily … and I have a feeling I’d be very irritated and then had loops pulling loose once it was in use. And yet it’s very soft. Advice? Should I give it up and make something else?

    1. germank106*

      Don’t give up on the yarn. Super tight tension is never good – regardless of which yarn you use. The plies within the yarn tend to break when you pull them too tight and then you have a real mess on your hand. Have you tried using a smaller hook? That might fix the problem of your stitches not being tight enough. Just because the ballband on your yarn tells you to use a particular hook doesn’t mean it’s so. There’s no crocheting police, so use the hook that works and gives you the best fabric.
      Sometimes it’s the pattern that doesn’t work with a particular yarn. Just for the heck of it I pulled all the free Ravelry blanket patterns that were made with that yarn. https://www.ravelry.com/projects/search#craft=crochet&status=finished&yarn-link=bernat-baby-velvet&pc=blanket&sort=completed&view=thumbs
      I hope the link works.
      I’m almost halfway through with the last blanket for this year, but I already have a ton of projects that I want to finish before Christmas yet.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s a pattern from Daisy Farm Crafts, and they’ve tested a bunch of stitches with velvet and concluded this is one that works well (hdc between the posts) … so I think it’s not the stitch. I think it’s a combo of me and the yarn! I did actually look at that Ravelry link last night (that site is so helpful!) but I think this yarn is not meant to be in my life, which is very sad as it’s so nice!

    2. Pucci*

      It’s a common problem with chenille yarns. Another type of stitch might help, but if not, give up

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        One thing I am greatly enjoying about the crocheting community is the willingness both to yank out huge pieces of a project and also to just give up when necessary. My husband seems horrified when I do that, like I must be experiencing a massive loss, but honestly it is liberating.

        1. germank106*

          That yanking also has a technical name. It’s called frogging. In your case it doesn’t apply (you know it’s the yarn), but before you frog anything make sure you know where you went wrong, otherwise you make the same mistake over and over again.
          Before anyone asks why it’s called frogging: rip it = ribbit = frogging.
          Ravelry can also help if you are working with a yarn that is unfamiliar to you. Click on the “Yarn” tab on top of the Ravelry page and enter the name of your yarn. On the left side of the picture that pops up are the projects that have been made with that yarn. On the right side is information about the yarn itself including ratings from other Ravelers.
          If you have a huge amount of money invested in the yarn that doesn’t work, go ahead and sell it. You can do that on Ravelry as well. If not, just donate it to Churches or Nursing homes in your area. They can use it for other crafts or to make charity projects.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I think that was what got my daughter to give crochet a try again this week–watching me do a round, I kept deciding the increase/decrease was messed up and frogging. And when I offered it to her to try a few stitches she said ‘sure, we can always rip it out.” She has now taken over the basket. By the way I’m using an even fatter Bernal yarn and I went up a needle size before I liked the way it was looking.

    3. TassieTiger*

      I’ve been having great difficulties lately when I crochet hats made with Melanie ham’s pattern for beanies. Basically, sometimes it just doesn’t turn into a hat no matter how tight I keep the tension and it turns into a big pancake! I’m realizing that I really don’t know the differences between different types of yarns and how they may turn into various textures of fabric. Does anyone have any resource ideas or insight?

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I asked that last week. Maybe look for that thread. I’m not organized enough to have the resources in a list to share.

      2. germank106*

        Could it be that your yarn circle is not turning into a beanie because you are using different crochet terms than the Designer? There are two crochet “languages”, UK terms and US terms. A double crochet in US terms is a triple (or treble) in UK terms. A single crochet in the US is a double crochet in the UK.
        This might help with finding out about different yarn types and yarn properties: https://www.tradewindknits.com/different-yarn-types/

        The easiest way to find out how yarn behaves is by making something with it. Play with needle size and tension and look at the results you get. If you like the fabric you get than you are on the right track. Do not pay much attention to the needle/hook sizes that are printed on the ball band of your yarn. That’s just a guideline and will vary most every time you make something.
        The key to getting a circle to turn into a hat is not by yanking your yarn super tight, but by increasing/decreasing in the right spots. A well written pattern also helps a lot. Here’s a list of all the free crochet beanie patterns on Ravelry. Feel free to use the attribute buttons on the left to narrow your choice down more. https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/search#craft=crochet&availability=free&photo=yes&query=beanie&sort=best&view=captioned_thumbs

    4. Tortally HareBrained*

      I hate to tell you to give up as many people make beautiful blankets with it. But I definitely gave all my velvet yarn away, too hard to see stitch definition and didn’t love worrying about it’ll it would stay together.

  9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    Anybody have a REALLY good pumpkin cheesecake pie recipe? I made the one from the King Arthur’s flour site and it was ok. Not bad in the least, but it mostly tasted of pumpkin pie and the cheesecake sort of just disappeared. I like to make two pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving, so the second one needs to be something different.

    Any other interesting pumpkin pie recipes would also be appreciated. I’ve tried a number over the years and they always taste mostly just like pumpkin pie.

    1. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

      Sally’s Baking Addiction has a pumpkin swirl cheesecake recipe- I haven’t made it, but I made her pumpkin cake this week and it was delicious.

      1. Nesprin*

        Can vouch for this recipe- a few folks i made it for claimed it was the best thing theyd ever eaten.

    2. lily*

      I make the pumpkin cheesecake from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. It’s a really good cookbook, she is a very good baker. The cheesecake is quite good. The recipe likely isn’t online, but if you are into baking cakes, I’d recommend.

    3. Just a PM*

      It’s not pie or cheesecake, but I do have one for pumpkin cake, if anyone is interested! Mix one can of pumpkin pie filling and one box of Spice Cake mix (box cake mix), then bake for about 30 minutes and frost with cream cheese frosting. You could also add 2 eggs to the cake mix + pumpkin filling. I’ve done it both ways and both are excellent.

    4. Stephanie*

      I make a pumpkin cobbler that I like better than pumpkin pie. It has the flavors of pumpkin pie, but a very different texture. I make it every year for Thanksgiving now, instead of pumpkin pie. I also have a great recipe for oatmeal pie. It’s almost like a pecan pie, but with oats. I’ll share it in another comment if you’re interested.
      For the crust:
      1 stick butter (not margarine)
      1 cup all-purpose flour
      1 cup granulated sugar
      4 teaspoons baking powder
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1 cup whole or 2% milk
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      To make the crust, turn the oven on to 350 F. Place the butter in a 13×9 inch baking dish and place it in the preheating oven. When the butter has melted (after about 3 minutes), remove the dish from the oven and set it aside. Allow the oven to continue to preheat. Meanwhile, mix the remaining crust ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and pour the mixture evenly over the melted butter. Do not stir. Set aside.
      For the filling:
      2 large eggs
      1 cup evaporated milk
      2 15 ounce cans pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
      1 cup granulated sugar
      1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
      1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
      1 teaspoon cinnamon
      1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
      1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      To make the filling, lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the evaporated milk and the pumpkin and stir to blend. Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Spoon or slowly pour the filling evenly over the crust batter in the baking dish. The crust ingredients will be almost completely covered. Do not stir. Bake the cobbler, uncovered, until the crust has risen over the side of the filling and is golden brown and bubbling, 45 to 50 minutes. The crust will not cover the cobbler completely. Remove the dish from the oven and allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm, in shallow bowls, topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

    5. Aealias*

      I hate pumpkin pie, but my eldest desperately wanted one for Thanksgiving, so I made this one (it’s very warmly spiced, and so much more flavourful than store-bought or traditional): https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/12677/pumpkin-maple-pie-supreme/

      A lot of folks around where I live make a pumpkin pie DIP for graham crackers or digestive cookies, which is delightfully fluffy and different. All the recipes I can find for it are very similar, and this one has a lot of overwhelmingly positive reviews: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/24740/pumpkin-fluff-dip/

    6. Jay*

      We make pumpkin pie with a fairly standard pie recipe (spices are amped up a bit because that’s how we roll) and we put cinnamon meringue on top. It’s AWESOME. We got the idea from a Cooks Illustrated recipe years ago, and we now use the same cinnamon meringue recipe for cookies at Pesach. Make your pie and bake until it’s just set. In the last 10-15 minutes of the baking time, make the meringue.

      1 cup sugar (the recipe calls for superfine, and you can whiz some regular sugar in a food processor to make that if you want, but it works with regular granulated sugar)
      5 large egg whites
      2 tsp cinnamon

      In a large metal bowl, stir cinnamon and sugar together until well combined. Add egg whites and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl from heat and beat white until the form stiff glossy peaks. When pie is *just* set, spread meringue on top of the hot filling – we do this by pulling out the rack, not taking the pie out of the oven. Return to 375 oven and bake 12-15 minutes more, until the peaks are browned.

      This is best if made the same day you serve it, because otherwise the meringue will start to weep. It can be done in the morning, though. Our usual Thanksgiving routine: pecan pie and apple pie done the day before, pumpkin pie done first thing in the morning. We eat in the evening, so we don’t need to put the turkey in until afternoon.

    7. Jay*

      We make pumpkin pie with a fairly standard pie recipe (spices are amped up a bit because that’s how we roll) and we put cinnamon meringue on top. It’s AWESOME. We got the idea from a Cooks Illustrated recipe years ago, and we now use the same cinnamon meringue recipe for cookies at Pesach. Make your pie and bake until it’s just set. In the last 10-15 minutes of the baking time, make the meringue.

      1 cup sugar (the recipe calls for superfine, and you can whiz some regular sugar in a food processor to make that if you want, but it works with regular granulated sugar)
      5 large egg whites
      2 tsp cinnamon

      In a large metal bowl, stir cinnamon and sugar together until well combined. Add egg whites and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl from heat and beat white until the form stiff glossy peaks. When pie is *just* set, spread meringue on top of the hot filling – we do this by pulling out the rack, not taking the pie out of the oven. Return to 375 oven and bake 12-15 minutes more, until the peaks are browned.

      This is best if made the same day you serve it, because otherwise the meringue will start to weep. It can be done in the morning, though. Our usual Thanksgiving routine: pecan pie and apple pie done the day before, pumpkin pie done first thing in the morning. We eat in the evening, so we don’t need to put the turkey in until afternoon.

  10. Loopy*

    Lately I’ve had some things I’m excited about/looking forward to and realized that in a general sense I’m very impatient for things I’m looking forward to and not great at living in the moment. I know this is general, but does anyone have any advice for this? I feel like it’s an odd problem to have but still not a good thing at all!

    1. Beancat*

      I have the exact same problem, honestly!

      Can you check in with your body? I’m bad at mindfulness, but sometimes just going “Okay I can feel my toes in my socks” or “I am aware that my mind is wandering” can help bring me back into the moment.

      1. Loopy*

        I can try that but I am not sure it will keep my mind off the upcoming events! I’ve always been rubbish at anything like meditation because I don’t have the discipline (or admittedly, try very hard >_<) though any suggestions will be used!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Emotions are not the same as actions. Does the excitement cause you to act differently or are you just not doing well with concentrating on the matters in this moment?

      FWIW, I think a lot of us spend our entire lives learning to be patient. So some of this could just be part of being human.

      1. Loopy*

        I think it’s mental impact more than actions. I spend a lot of time on mental math: only x more days until this happens, or worse arugh two whole months until event! Its like I’m wishing my life away!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I had a friend who used to say, “People need three things. They need something to do. They need someone to love. And they need something to look forward to.”

          Probably not the answer you expected but can you turn it into, “I am grateful I have something to look forward to!”? This, as opposed to saying, “I am wishing my life away.”

        2. acmx*

          You could make a count down clock/calendar (whether physical or digital).

          What about journaling to stay in the moment? 3 things you want to accomplish, 3 things you’re grate for, 3 things that happened that made your day good (I’ll be honest I couldn’t do this; maybe weekly).

          But it’s nice to have things to look forward to this year!

    3. Lcsa99*

      Honestly at a time like this when we can’t do a lot of the things we usually do, I am not sure that’s a bad thing. I’ve kinda survived it by looking forward to Halloween and working on very detailed costumes in my spare time. I started in May. So being able to focus on the future instead of being in the here and now helped. Granted, we might not be able to do anything with them until next year but whatever.

      My mother tells me I’ve been like that since I was a kid. When she couldn’t afford something she could tell me it would come in the future and I could be content with that knowledge. The impatient part might not be great but focusing on the future instead of just focusing on the here and now isn’t ALL bad.

      1. Loopy*

        You are right- I went through a period of 2020 where not having ANYTHING to look forward to was really, REALLY hard and dark. My first reaction was gratitude for the normalcy of having anything positive, but then I kind of freaked out because I’ve kind of been wishing 2020 / covid would be over and behind us and lo and behold I dont know how we are in October now. Like where did….the entire 10 months go?! Maybe my headspace is just all sorts of weird right now?

        1. Lcsa99*

          I think its probable that this year just has you in a weird headspace. We’re all there. So whatever you’re feeling, if it gives you something to be happy about, just go with it. You aren’t doing anything wrong, you’re surviving what life throws at you any way you can.

      2. Loopy*

        You are right- I went through a period of 2020 where not having ANYTHING to look forward to was really, REALLY hard and dark. My first reaction was gratitude for the normalcy of having anything positive, but then I kind of freaked out because I’ve kind of been wishing 2020 / covid would be over and behind us and lo and behold I dont know how we are in October now. Like where did….the entire 10 months go?! Maybe my headspace is just all sorts of weird right now?

    4. Double A*

      So this year, I haven’t been able to plan anything because, you know, pandemic, so I’ve had no choice but to live in the moment and I’ve realized…it kind of sucks. Not having anything I can decide I definitely want to do and work or plans towards feels to me like the biggest loss for me this year, especially because I was just starting to figure out how to get out and about in a more satisfying way with a toddler when everything shut down.

      I mean, if by living in the moment you mean being grateful for good things and appreciating everyday moments, then yeah, that’s great and I do that. But it’s a pleasure to be able to plan, and I feel like that’s a loss that can’t be compensated by “living in the moment” at least for me.

    5. The Rat-Catcher*

      I know I definitely grew up in the mindset of perpetually working toward the next thing. What helps me is to think back to a time in the past when I didn’t have everything I have now. What is different and what can I appreciate now, about this moment?

    6. Avasarala*

      I think this is kind of how everyone is feeling right now, more or less.
      Personally I realized I really value having short, medium, and long term goals–it helps me understand time and value it. Or if not a goal, an ongoing project.
      So long term (like a couple months away), I have a sweater I’m working on, and some skills I’m looking to build. Some days off planned to look forward to, holidays.
      Medium term: Halloween is coming up, there are lots of seasonal foods to make and movies to watch. I want to make a certain amount of progress on my sweater in the next couple weeks. Some chores I want to do by the end of the month.
      Short term: Looking forward to going on a walk to the far park this weekend. Reading a bit of a good book every day and enjoying that. Knitting a little bit at a time. Trying a new recipe tonight.

      One of the most devastating things mentally for me was having all my short and medium term plans destroyed and all my long term plans reevaluated or pushed longer term. It felt like I didn’t have anything to do all day and nothing to look forward too for the immediate future. It has helped to make little chores and projects and things I “have” to do or “want” to do every day, just to give my time meaning. And you can sit and enjoy the moment of what you’re doing. Maybe that is helpful to you.

  11. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I took the baby for 3mo check up. The Dr said everything was absolutely great. I breathed a sigh of relief that potato was fine. I felt like a good mom. And realizes how much I need/want outside validation.

    Given how difficult it was for me to get pregnant and all the health issues I had before/during pregnancy (diabetes, thyroid, blood clotting disorder, finally preeclampsia etc) every time I’m told spuds “normal” I breathe a huge sigh of relief that for once I actually made the right choices.

    But—for once, I know I’m not the only mom who feels any of this. The insecurity, the anxiety/nervousness. Whether it’s PPD or not. Of course firsthand experience is different but I’ve been reading enough about being a mom
    since I was in my 20s to know that this is universal.

    Why are moms feeling like bad moms the norm? Is there any new mom in the world who thinks she’s doing a great job and doesn’t need outside validation? I highly doubt fathers get this but I could
    Be wrong. Just food for thought.

    1. nep*

      How wonderful that the baby is fine!
      Some form of imposter syndrome, maybe? Or just the preciousness of this other human is so immense that one thinks ‘who the hell am I to have responsibility for this amazing being?’ I’m guessing that some fathers get it too, in part because they will never have the bond a birthmother does. Maybe they don’t express it though, or to very few people.
      Just some things that come to mind. Wonderful news–thanks for sharing and all the best.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Good people question themselves to make sure they are making good choices.
      Amoral people… not so much.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      It’s something you don’t get much practice on. Some women have helped with other people’s babies enough to really know what they are doing, but I would guess that is a small minority nowadays. So you take a tiny helpless child home with barely more than book knowledge on how to take care of it.

      If this was, say, your eighth kid, you’d probably be far less worried. Because you’d know what normal actually was. And you’d know enough to see if something actually was going wrong.

      Also hormones.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That’s true. I never really had much hands on experience with babies, even my own nephews. just admiring them from afar, playing and giving back – never changed a diaper or fed them. Anything that happens with her, I google it and ask my ped and it seems like things are normal. But my husband and mom get way more worried about things than I do so I get worried that I’m not worrying enough.

        1. BethDH*

          I had some of the same feelings (guilt that I was doing it wrong because I wasn’t more worried, feeling like I couldn’t be a good mom if I wasn’t spending all my time thinking about how to make things perfect). Sort of a feeling that I wasn’t parenting up to my potential and therefore that the baby would be screwed up because I was lazy.
          External validation was actually really nice for that (with plenty of “all babies are different”) and I don’t think that has to be a problem as long as the source for it is reasonable.

        2. Observer*

          Are your husband and Mom worriers in general? Is your mother not much or a worrier except when it comes to the kids – what has she been like with the nephews?

      2. Anon for this*

        This. In the family I grew up in, with the first kiddo, the parents got up every half-hour or so in the night to make sure the little one was still breathing. By the last child, the parents assumed everyone was alive and likely to stay that way if they didn’t hear screaming.

        Everyone made it to adulthood with no scares, fortunately!

        1. Venus*

          > By the last child, the parents assumed everyone was alive and likely to stay that way if they didn’t hear screaming.

          I appreciated the opposite of this when I was visiting a friend and his youngest started screaming, and I stood up to check, and he motioned for me to sit down and said “If they are screaming then they are alive. Little one is fine.” Although to his credit a later scream was of a different pitch and he went to check, although apparently Little One was very upset that older sibling was preventing a head-first fall down the stairs.

    4. Notsalad*

      There’s so much pressure on moms to do it all and have it all. When my daughter was younger, I used to feel guilty for leaving her with my husband to change the laundry in the garage. I would have to remind myself I was still doing something.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I agree about the pressure — which is why I took on a FT job so quickly. I thought I could do it and I felt good about myself tbh.

        I know even before social media, the pressure on new moms to look good (I still remember Madonna & that actress in the 90s/2000s who had her svelte figure on the red carpet weeks after delivery) was there. But with social media it’s so much more so now. Have to have lost weight, perfect hair and makeup. During middle of the night feedings I’d browse the explore page on IG and find all hte new moms going to salons and taking perfect pix. Its ridiculous

      2. Nita*

        Yes, that reminds me… I worked partly from home for a few months when my oldest was a baby. And at the end of the day I’d lie awake thinking that I’m a horrible mom, I ignored him all day again so I could keep up with work. And then I’d go – hmm, wait, I remember I’d read him that book and we played with those toys, and we’d gone outside, and here’s a photo of us playing around with his spoon. So if I dug deeper, I knew this “story” in my mind that I’m an awful parent is not true – and yet, this is the first place my mind went at the end of every day. Maybe it comes with the territory. There’s always something you could do better. And sometimes it gets in the way of seeing the things you’re already doing well.

    5. Potatoes gonna potate*

      to add — the right choices (for me) being hyper aware of everything going on during my pregnancy, constant communication with doctors, taking my meds & watching my diet, demanding to go for C-section rather than be in days of labor, to *not* breastfeed for my own mental health

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I know the feeling. First time mom to a 4 month old. Spent a lot of maternity leave Googling things like “how to make a baby feel loved” and “educational activities for a newborn.” As far as the latter, what I came up with was doing Duolingo Spanish together (educational for both of us!) and reading aloud from whatever book I was reading.

      I hope it’s an A for effort kind of thing. I assume if I or you were bad parents, we wouldn’t be asking these kinds of questions?

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Probably. The things I question, I can’t even google, like “will my daughter love me? or feel towards me the way I feel towards my mom?” (lots of mother-issues on my part). I try to read from her as much as I can but I love to sing to her. I have yet to find on google if my singing will hurt her ears :p

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          As a daughter of mediocre singers, I loved having Mommy or Daddy sing us to sleep at bedtime. One of them would sit in the hallway outside the 2 kids’ bedrooms with us already in bed and the lights out, and sing to us. Old hymns, a cowboy lullaby, Irish love songs. Objectively speaking, it wasn’t particularly beautiful music, but it was amazingly beautiful to me as a small child. Please, sing to your baby. Hopefully she will grow up with half as fond memories of it as I do.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            I sing Ed Sheeran songs LOL. although most recently I heard can’t take my eyes off of you and I love playing that for her.

            1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

              I’m pretty sure I love the songs because my mom and dad sang them to me, instead of loving my mom’s singing because of the songs she chose. Though I do really like the songs!

              There is a reason parents have sung to their babies for thousands of years in all quarters of the globe.

        2. just saiyan*

          >“will my daughter love me? or feel towards me the way I feel towards my mom?”

          That depends on what kind of mom you are to her. You know what not to do, having observed your own mother in action. What do you wish your mom had done differently? Do that.

          Your daughter is way too young for you to worry about whether or not she loves you. All babies love their parents – they have to. It’s a survival mechanism. The teen years though…

        3. Pennyworth*

          I’m sure the singing won’t hurt her ears. Did you sing to her before she was born? Years ago the BBC did a documentary about babies who were exposed in utero to music of their mothers’ choosing , ranging from playing classical music on the piano, to pop to heavy metal. After birth all the babies could be soothed by their own special music, even the heavy metal baby!
          I think being anxious about a first born is hard wired into most mothers, because a hyper vigilant mother would have been more likely to successfully raise her child.

          1. Music Therapist*

            Keep singing! As Pennyworth says, studies have shown that after birth, babies recognise music they heard in utero. And it’s important that the mother listens to music that she likes (it isn’t true that one type of music is “better” than another, just that the volume isn’t too high!), as the baby will pick up on whether the mother is relaxed: if she’s enjoying it, chances are that baby will too!
            After birth, music is a vital form of communication which allows co-ordinated companionship to arise. A lot of techniques which are used in music therapy are based on observing mother-child interactions, especially elements such as tempo, pulse, pitch and timbre. When you invent a song (no matter how simple), or reply musically to your baby’s musical babbling, you’re setting up a dialogue involving repetition and variation, tension and release, that is vital for the child’s interpersonal development. (If anyone’s interested, see theories of “communicative musicality” by Malloch and Trevarthen, and the work of Daniel Stern).
            TL;DR: keep singing, you’re doing a great job!

            1. allathian*

              Yes! Stress hormones like cortisol and pleasure hormones like dopamine and oxytocin will pass the placental barrier and affect the developing baby. That’s why it’s important to listen to music that you like, whatever it is.

              I know the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but I know of at least one case where a mom stopped singing because her toddler didn’t like it. The mom had an “ordinary” voice, but the kid turned out to have perfect pitch. One of the first three-word sentences the toddler said was ” don’t sing mom”. However, the vast majority of kids love it when their moms (and dads) sing to them. I didn’t, because I’ve always been very self-conscious about my voice, but I read a lot of rhymes to him.

        4. Stephanie*

          I have lots of mother-daughter issues with my mom, too. And I have a 22 year old daughter. I’ve found that I often act very differently from my own mother in parenting my kids (I also have a 19 year old son), because I remember how some of her (and my dad’s) actions, words or decisions made me feel. So, my parents’ style influenced my own parenting, but more as “what not to do” instead of “this is the right way”. If that makes sense. I made mistakes (we all do), but I have a much better relationship with my daughter than I do with my own mother. (Accepting your child for who he or she is is key in this. They’re all different, and they all need to be loved as they are.)
          Babies are hard, because most of us don’t really have experience with newborns. But you will learn, and you will get the hang of it. As long as your baby is loved, fed, and clean, you’re doing it right. And as you get to know your baby, you will learn to trust your instincts. (And they LOVE singing–even not so great singing.)

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            Thank you for this! I have a really strained relationship w my own mother and this has been my fear since I found out I was expecting. In the bigger picture, the newborn stuff is harder physical work but later on there’s more emotional work to be done.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              I too started out trying to do everything the opposite to what my mother said. For me what worked was finding a group of mothers with much the same approach as me. 28 years later I still volunteer with the group that helped me most.
              Things mostly went wrong when I was tired (except when wasn’t I?). When you’re too tired to be creative or think of a kind answer, sometimes you revert to what you know, and what you know deepest is what you learned as a kid. That’s how I ended up smacking my son even though I had vowed never to hit my kids. I continued to attend meetings with the mothering group, and a conference on non-violent communication, and by very consciously doing stuff that was recommended I managed to veer away from those instinctive reactions and start working on a more positive parenting style.

        5. Jay*

          Sing to her. Pick songs you love. Our go-to was “City of New Orleans,” which resulted in a toddler who would belt out “Pass the paper bag that holds the bottle” at inopportune moments. I’m a good singer. My husband is not. She loved it no matter what. Her senior year in HS in the midst of college application stress, she texted me one night to ask if I would come into her room and sing “City of New Orleans.” Sing to your baby.

        6. Owler*

          My daughter *hates* my singing (I don’t have an amazing voice, but I’m told by others it’s decent!), and has since she was a preschooler. She’s a teen now, and she loves me in other ways—we were just snuggling on a couch, talking about books. I don’t take it personally that her 4yo self used to cover her ears when I sang to her. :)

    7. Double A*

      I felt like I was a good mom from the beginning and I still feel like I am. I attribute this to having solid parenting values that I can use as a touchstone. Most of the stress I see with moms seems to be around, like… specific choices where there’s no right and wrong answer, and I just don’t think it’s worth spending a ton of energy stressing about that stuff. Children are their own people, and you’re not going to “parent” them into being a particular way so much as provide a space for them to grow into the best version of themselves. My fundamental goal is to provide a safe, supportive home base from which they can explore the world and themselves. Here are the questions I worry about:

      Does our home feel like a safe, calm, and supportive place where our kids can explore and be themselves?

      Am I loving, celebrating, and nurturing my kids for who they are, and not telegraphing to them my love is conditional on certain actions or achievements on their part?

      Am I fostering kindness, curiosity, compassion, and open-mindedness in my kids and modelling those values myself?

      Are we offering them a variety of health food everyday and giving them opportunities to exercise?

      Are we allowing them age appropriate independence and responsibilities?

      For little babies: is the baby fed, changed, clean, and cuddled?

      Notice for a little tiny baby like you have, the “doing great” list is easily achieved. Everything else is about values. If you feel like you’re getting the value es right, the more the discretionary choices seem less consequential. Even if something unexpected happens, or your child has a health issue, or a delay or disability, you can still come back to these values because they are about loving and accepting your child as they are.

      I will also say, having a 3 month old is not necessarily the time to do deep thinking, what with the exhaustion, and also that even though I felt like a good mom from the beginning, I still suffered postpartum depression and wish I had treated it sooner, so I HIGHLY recommend talking to your doctor about that.

      And lastly, congrats on the baby and you’re great mom because you want to be!

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Does our home feel like a safe, calm, and supportive place where our kids can explore and be themselves?

        This is my ultimate goal. I think of what I want for her – to always know she’s loved and secure and happy. Plus everything you said. I just want the opposite of my childhood for her.

        1. Nita*

          Same here. I often did not feel safe, and sometimes felt invisible. I guess if my kids feel safe and loved, that’s big already. I’m realizing that all the distance I’ve put between myself and my family of origin isn’t quite enough. It’s all gotten into my head more than I thought. I just don’t respond to some situations like normal people do because I’m seeing them through a lens that’s not normal. But what can I do, other than apologizing afterwards if I overreact, and trying to be better next time…

        2. BethDH*

          I am lazy but a perfectionist, which is a terrible combination for parenting. I got some advice about starting to deal with that while my first kid was still a little baby that is helping me now that I have kids who talk and stuff.
          You won’t always be able to have a reaction you are proud of in the moment and that’s okay, but figure out how to recover when you feel like you’re messing up that safe space. It is really easy to apologize (out loud!) to a baby and then it’s easier when they’re older to course correct and apologize when something happens.
          It has been good for my kids and for me to realize that not all my mistakes had permanent repercussions and that the apology was good for both of us to try something different and not get stuck in unhealthy patterns.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            I apologize to the baby like every day lol. Usually it’s when she’s crying so much, even though she’s fed and changed and I’m literally holding her (she doesn’t like being put down for the most part) and I get frustrated at her. I swear sometimes she gives me a look like “I got u mom don’t worry we’re cool”. I Talk to her pretty much all the time, and I truly wonder what goes through babies minds.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              “a baby’s natural habitat is its mother’s arms” (can’t remember the name of the guy I’m quoting but he did pioneer work with kangaroo care in Zimbabwe)

    8. RagingADHD*

      It’s a very, very important, high stakes, fulltime job with little to no training.

      Of course everyone worries whether they’re doing it right! First-time dads worry, too. They just are less likely to read all the scaremongering clickbait articles that make it worse.

      When (if) the second baby comes along, and/or as your child gets older, you start realizing how much you learned. You can laugh about more stuff. You have more perspective.

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      Sounds like you and I had very similar experiences…health challenges, c section, breastfeeding, anxiety over “am I doing this right?”. Mine is now a teenager and is honestly my favorite human on the whole planet. He’s kind, smart, sarcastic, creative, and a whole lot of other things that I admire. Did I make a few mistakes over the years? Undoubtedly! But I figure that most of it worked out fine. He knows that he’s loved and supported in all things, and in my opinion if we as parents get the love and support part right the rest of the details will work themselves out. Long way of saying that you’re doing just fine, Potatoes!

    10. Hotdog not dog*

      Sounds like you and I had very similar experiences…health challenges, c section, breastfeeding, anxiety over “am I doing this right?”. Mine is now a teenager and is honestly my favorite human on the whole planet. He’s kind, smart, sarcastic, creative, and a whole lot of other things that I admire. Did I make a few mistakes over the years? Undoubtedly! But I figure that most of it worked out fine. He knows that he’s loved and supported in all things, and in my opinion if we as parents get the love and support part right the rest of the details will work themselves out. Long way of saying that you’re doing just fine, Potatoes!

    11. Hotdog not dog*

      Sounds like you and I had very similar experiences…health challenges, c section, breastfeeding, anxiety over “am I doing this right?”. Mine is now a teenager and is honestly my favorite human on the whole planet. He’s kind, smart, sarcastic, creative, and a whole lot of other things that I admire. Did I make a few mistakes over the years? Undoubtedly! But I figure that most of it worked out fine. He knows that he’s loved and supported in all things, and in my opinion if we as parents get the love and support part right the rest of the details will work themselves out. Long way of saying that you’re doing just fine, Potatoes!

    12. Gloucesterina*

      You are doing awesome! Sending you warm wishes for relaxation, in whatever forms you enjoy having it arrive (internet, TV, a walk, tasty foods, a nap, anything!)
      You are doing awesome! Sending you warm wishes for relaxation, in whatever forms you enjoy having it arrive (internet, TV, a walk, tasty foods, a nap, anything!)

      I know this is tricky during a pandemic and not everyone’s budget allows outside childcare, but I have found that having trusted professional childcare people in my life is really valuable for stuff like this. Meaning folks I could go to with particular questions, or just as models for how to respond with chill/curiosity/calm to the “rich tapestry of life” (to borrow a phrase from this site, when people encounter behaviors that veers off the beaten trails of one’s individual experience) as it manifests in kids, who are just as quirky and individual as adults.

    13. kz*

      I’ve thought about this a lot lately – my baby is 3.5 mo. I think the expectations for dads is so different than for moms (and, lets be honest. when it comes to actual parenting of little babies, the expectations for dads are lower). My husband literally said “if I’m out alone with the baby, as long as he has clothes on, people think I’m super dad.” Its definitely a combination of internal and external pressures we are faced with. You also gave a ton of biological stuff going on that makes you more likely to worry and be anxious – my husband makes fun of me all the time: “is the baby too hot? Too cold? Sleeping enough? Sleeping too much?”

      I agree with the commenter above who talked about focusing on your values. If you know what’s important to you, you can focus on that instead of what everyone else says is important.

    14. Avasarala*

      Pretty sure fathers get it too. I just started a book that was dedicated to his two year old and had a message about his insecurities as a father. A father friend of mine has also expressed his concern over this. Another father friend who had his baby during all this and couldn’t see wife & kid for a few days after birth was a wreck the whole time.

      On the one hand we don’t see enough of fatherhood and men expressing emotion and doubt and love towards their children. On the other hand, many industries have latched onto motherhood and parental insecurities in women to perpetuate sexism, to sell parents things they don’t need, to push other agendas, etc.

      Good luck!

    15. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Potato, I help young mothers in an NGO and I often tell them they’re doing a good job, at which point they invariably burst into tears.
      I know they’re at least trying to do a good job, because they’re coming to me for help, and given that nobody knows for sure the best way to bring a kid up, that’s just about the only genuine indication that they’re doing stuff right.
      I find that the harder it has been for the mother to conceive, the more pressure she puts on herself to be a good mother. So many gay mothers who’ve had to go through artificial insemination or mothers who’ve had to go through IVF end up as knots of anxiety. Now that becoming a mother is an active choice that we make, if we mess it up people can say “what did you have that baby for if you don’t like changing nappies?”
      We all have a mother even if we don’t know her. We all have something to reproach our mothers and want to do better than she did at least in that sphere. Those of us with a lovely relationship with our mother have a challenge to do at least as well, those of us who didn’t, don’t have a model to look to and have to muddle through as best we can.
      Anyway, you’re doing a great job, now wipe those tears away and enjoy being a mother :-)

  12. anon for today*

    Long shot, but did anyone here get tubal ligation as a young person (like significantly under 30). I asked my gyn about it, thinking it would be an automatic no, and was literally brought to tears when she told me she would do the procedure if that was what I decided was right for me. I have never wanted children and have been wanting tubal ligation for years. But since I had always thought it would not be an option for a long time, I found myself totally unprepared to make a decision in the moment. I scheduled a follow up appointment to discuss the procedure itself, but I would love to hear from people who have gone through with it (or considered it decided not to). What did you consider? Has anything changed since you did it? Do you regret it?
    I will say I am also nervous that it may no longer be covered by insurance if things go in a certain political direction. So if I am going to get tubal ligation either way, maybe it makes sense to do it sooner rather than later?

    1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I got one at 32 after being told no for years and it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done. I was 100% sure about not wanting kids, so there wasn’t much to consider ahead of time. The only thing that’s changed is that I can do whatever I want regarding hormonal birth control (to treat endometriosis) without having to factor in the actual contraceptive impact.

      I opted out of getting the clips because I’m super prone to adhesions, and requested that the surgeon remove as much of the fallopian tubes as possible, because it greatly reduces your risk of reproductive cancers, but insurance wouldn’t cover an actual salpingectomy.

      If your sure, I’d highly recommend it and advise you to do it soon. I have no idea what reproductive rights are thing to look like in the near future.

    2. Veruca*

      I had a tubal 9 years ago after a serious bout with PPD nearly claimed my life. It was a minor surgery with a very short recovery and only two punctures to do the procedure laparoscopically. Later I discovered that my endometriosis was enough of a problem that a hysterectomy was necessary (uterus only removed). I wish that I’d had the hysterectomy when I had the tubal, just to avoid an unnecessary surgery (and 8 years of cycles!).

    3. Gatomon*

      I had it done at 27, and I have no regrets today. Part of why I did it then was because I feared what would happen in the next election – this was back in 2015 so I am now doubly thankful that I went ahead and did it.

      I was single and made the decision on my own. I knew I didn’t want children, and if that desire changes someday, there are plenty of kids who need homes. I also wanted to ensure that I had taken every step I could to prevent a future pregnancy so I didn’t have to make any difficult decisions. I also know my mother struggled to carry to term and I just didn’t want to go through that, truthfully. I was a bit nervous about surgery, but I actually watched a YouTube video of it and that helped me feel better.

      The surgery went fine for me. I had barely any pain (compared to my usual cramps, which I was on prescription painkillers for at the time) and mild bloating. Mostly I was tired. I took two weeks off work and I was on lifting restrictions for a month. I picked up a plug-in heating pad for the bloating and boarded my cat for a few days.

      I did end up paying about $1300 in “supplies” to the hospital because my insurance insisted that wasn’t covered by the ACA law changes. It wasn’t worth fighting for me. Insurance still paid about $10,000 if I remember right.

      I have zero regrets. I’m still really glad I had it done and very satisfied with my life choices.

    4. Anon child free*

      Had mine at 35 (30 years ago) after 2 years of marriage. I never wanted children , world overpopulation reason, and never regretted it. Husband was fine without children.

    5. KoiFeeder*

      I haven’t had a tubal ligation, but I understand your nervousness about the insurance thing. I’ve had so much garbage to deal with from my insurance that I think it makes sense to do really any major medical procedure but especially one like this sooner rather than later- hope for the best but plan for the worst and all that.

    6. Mid*

      My close friend got hers done at 23 and had never regretted it. She said recovery was minimal and she loves not having the stress of worrying about pregnancy.

      1. Anon for this*

        Same, but with a close friend who was 24. Over-the-moon thrilled then, over-the-moon thrilled now.

      2. anon for today*

        That’s how old I am, and I have had such a hard time finding other people who got it done so young. It is so heartening to hear from you all about your/your friends’ experiences. I feel like this is right for me, I think I just got thrown by the switch from abstract desire to actually being able to do it.

        1. Cecil Beeber*

          I had mine done at 29 (but had been seeking one since I was 23-24). I had some trepidation when I actually set a date, but it settled into this deep sense of calm that I was doing the right thing for myself.

    7. Anon non-parent*

      I had it done at 27 because I didn’t have a strong desire to have children, and I have no regrets at all. My GP asked me if I was sure, because she would have felt a huge pit in her stomach at the thought of not being able to have children, and I said that I didn’t have that feeling, and she cheerfully responded by giving me the name of an excellent specialist. The specialist asked me to confirm that I was aware of the permanence of the surgery, as it can be reversed but not reliably, and that was it. I had a written list of reasons why I didn’t feel strongly about having children, and yet no one cared. My GP had known me for years, so she knew that I wasn’t likely to change my mind. The most concern was from the nurses on the day of the procedure, as they politely asked if I was in a relationship, and were relieved to hear that I wasn’t – it soon become clear that they just wanted to know that I was the one making the choice and wasn’t being pressured by anyone (I guess sometimes men are too afraid to get snipped and ask their female partners to get the more difficult surgery, so the nurses were happy and supportive of a decision that I made). Many years later, as I approach menopause, I have absolutely no regrets as I almost never think about it. Some people say that they are thankful every day that they don’t have children, whereas for me I know that it was the right decision because it only becomes a thought when someone mentions it.

      The timing is up to you, but I am relieved that I did it as soon as possible. I travelled quite a bit and lived in other countries, and I ended up not having sex when I travelled but I realized that it had always been an underlying worry that I might have an unwanted pregnancy and I would hate to deal with some countries’ medical systems (or some States). Taking that worry away was such a positive.

      I had the surgery on a Tuesday and planned to return to work on the following Monday, although in hindsight I felt so good that I could have been at my desk on the Thursday. Tuesday post-surgery I was extremely nauseous, but I slept soundly that night and the next day I was walking around normally. Not everyone will be so lucky, but I mention it because the recovery time is relatively short compared to many surgeries. I had two tiny holes and they cut my tubes, as the clips were new at the time and my surgeon didn’t feel comfortable with them as there wasn’t yet evidence at the time that they worked well long-term.

      Do what is best for you, but know that there are quite a few of us who are happy with our decisions. I met many in an online community and have kept in touch with some local ones on facebook.

    8. Mimmy*

      I had mine done when I was 31. The surgery was pretty easy (I think I got a type where the tubes were tied off) and I only took a week off from work. I don’t even remember needing to take the prescribed pain meds much, if at all (which is interesting because my pain tolerance usually isn’t great). I did have some minor issues with the surgical wound a few weeks later because my skin apparently does not react well to healing surgical wounds (I had an issue with another surgical wound the year prior).

      My reasons for doing it were for my mental health. When we first got married, we thought about having children, but it became clear that it would not have been right for me, and he was totally okay with it, which I really appreciate. We have absolutely no regrets. I’ve loved watching my very active nine nieces and nephews grow up, but my husband and I are always relieved when we can return to the quiet of our home!

    9. Holly the spa pro*

      I had the Essure procedure done at 28 with no children because there was less downtime than a full tubal ligation and i work a physical job so that was important to me.
      A few months after i got it done there was some negative press around it which made me nervous but luckily ive never had any issues with it.
      I was at a new clinic with a new doctor when i inquired about it which i thought may be a problem. He ended up being surprisingly cool about it. He definitely wanted to make sure that i wanted to go that route, wasnt being pressured by anyone etc so it was quite a long consult but it was ultimately a positive experience.

    10. Longtime lurker first time commenter*

      I wanted one (always knew I never wanted kids) but ended up with an IUD (Paraguard not Mirena bc I DO NOT do well with hormonal birth control) instead bc I did some reading on the internet and found some stories of post-surgery experiences that freaked me out. My mom had terrible PMS (probably PMDD if that diagnosis had been available) when I was growing up and her experience matched some of those stories (she had a tubal ligation soon after I was born). It is annoying to not have something truly permanent (I just had to have the IUD swapped out for a new one last week actually, my 12 years were up) but overall I am happy with the decision. Not at all bc I would ever change my mind but bc I never worry about pregnancy or side effects.

      1. This is Me*

        My husband got a vasectomy when we were both in our early 30s and I know exactly what you mean about being unprepared. Neither of us want kids but we’re in a rural, conservative area so thought it would be this whole process of finding someone who would do it and convincing them that we wouldn’t regret it so it threw both of us when the urologist approved my husband immediately and then asked if next Thursday was good for him.

        Honestly in that moment I had my first doubts about making it permanent. Fortunately my husband’s schedule meant there was nearly a month between the approval and the surgery and by the time the day came I was back to 150% certain I didn’t want kids and there hasn’t been a single moment of regret since. It was just strange to suddenly be faced with the option when I’d been so prepared for a long fight.

    11. Melody Pond*

      I got my tubes removed at 30. I’d gotten the copper IUD at 25, thinking I’d likely have myself surgically sterilized after the IUD had to come out, 10 years later. My partner and I both knew we didn’t want kids – he was actually already sterilized, but I wanted to be sterilized, too, for various reasons.

      Well, my 30th birthday came four days after election night in 2016. Pretty shortly after that, I started considering having the IUD removed early and looking into having the surgery as soon as I could, for exactly the reasons you’ve mentioned, OP. As @MuttIsMyCopilot mentions above, and as my doctor told me at the time, removal of fallopian tubes (salpingectomy) greatly reduces the risk of ovarian cancer. My insurance wasn’t going to cover it, but the coverage I had at the time was fantastic, and my out-of-pocket maximum for the year was only $2500. My partner actually helped me pull together the roughly $2500, so that I could do the full salpingectomy, which was great.

      I haven’t regretted it. I knew I didn’t want to be a parent, and even if I did, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make a great parent – I can barely keep my house clean enough to keep ants from invading. And even if I was wrong about all of that, I felt that it was much better to regret not having kids, vs to regret having them. And that if I really, really changed my mind later, I could always go foster kids or adopt or something.

      If you’re really sure you don’t want kids, I think doing it sooner than later is, I’m sorry to say, not a terrible idea. I’d love to be wrong about that. But I think your concerns about the possibility of political changes making it no longer covered by insurance, are valid. :-/

    12. Catherine*

      I got mine at 25 and don’t regret it a bit, even though a couple years later one of my tubes fused back (a risk they’d originally warned me about and had me sign a waiver for) and I had an ectopic pregnancy. I had them re-snip me. It gives me tremendous peace of mind to know that no matter what financial position I’m in or where I live, I won’t find myself in the position of needing and being unable to obtain an abortion.

      1. Catherine*

        Adding to clarify I had a tubal ligation (snip and burn) in both cases. Essure wasn’t an option due to my metal allergies.

    13. tab*

      I had mine at 25. I was single, childless and in the US Navy. The Dr. tried to talk me out of it, but agreed to do it when he saw I was resolute. I’m 65 next month, and I’ve never regretted it. I was the oldest daughter in a large family, and I spent a lot of my youth watching, feeding, and bathing younger siblings. It’s a LOT of work, and I felt like I did my time. I do love being an Aunt. It’s all the upside of parenting, without the expense. Plus, you put in only the time you want.

    14. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m finding this thread so comforting! I’ve always known that having children wouldn’t be a good choice for me and that I’ve never seen myself as a mom. I always thought that this wouldn’t be a possibility for me until I was older but maybe I’ll start looking into it now. Thanks everyone!

    15. aubrey*

      I had my tubal at just barely 25, I’m nearly 35 now and have never had any regrets whatsoever. The procedure and recovery was pretty easy for a surgery.

      I do have to take the pill as well because my periods are crazy painful, which is so annoying (wish I could just uninstall the whole system…). But they were crazy painful before, so I knew that might happen, and now I can take the pill continuously and skip nearly all my periods, without needing the reassurance of a period to tell me I’m not pregnant.

      In considering the decision, I thought about “ideal” scenarios, to make sure I wasn’t deciding based on things that might no longer be true someday. Would I want a kid even if my partner took on most of the childcare happily? What if we were mega rich and had nannies and chefs etc? What if my kid was similar to [kid I like most]? etc. All those answers were no, I don’t find the idea of having a kid appealing even then. So I knew if all the ideal scenarios didn’t appeal to me, I definitely wouldn’t want to take the risk of all the less than ideal scenarios that are much more likely.

    16. Epiphyta*

      Had mine at 25 after contraceptive failure led to a pregnancy at 22; I’m nearly 56 now and have never regretted it.

    17. saf*

      I got one at 35. Easy decision for me, and my doc had known me long enough to know that I was serious, and that I understood that it really was final. Almost 20 years later, I am still SO glad I managed to get it done when I did.

      As an odd aside, in the pre-op exam, the NP noticed a small lump on my thyroid. I am sure it would have been many more years before my thyroid cancer was diagnosed if I hadn’t had that exam. My primary, who I saw as infrequently as possible, could barely feel it when TOLD it was there. He was very impressed with the NP.

      1. saf*

        And now having finished reading above, a few more comments:
        I also had a contraceptive failure at 22. They changed my pill, but I was uninsured at the time, and couldn’t afford anything else, even at the planned parenthood clinic with the sliding scale. Later, we tried the copper IUD, but it fell out. I was SO glad when I was finally able to get the surgery. There are only so many reliable options!

  13. Beancat*

    Gaming! What’s everyone playing?

    My husband and I got Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. I thought it’d be fun. “I’ve never beaten a Crash game,” I said. “We should do it together,” I said.

    HOO BOY. Playing through this and I understand why I have never finished a Crash game. It is BRUTAL if you’re going for completion. And I have enough trouble with depth perception in 3D platformers as is, so I am struggling. But honestly, it’s so much fun despite how hard it is.

    I’m also decking out my Animal Crossing town for Halloween after trickling off to not playing much for a few months. It’s funny how decorating a little fake island just for you to wander around on can bring you joy. :)

    1. Gatomon*

      Oohhh you just reminded me that I have the Crash remasters lingering in my game backlog. You are not kidding about them being BRUTAL – I started the first one and gave up in frustration at one point. My cousins had the second one when we were growing up and I think it took literal years for us to beat that game the first time. We’d pass the controller every time someone died. Good memories. :)

      I embarked on a big project this month to separate my WFH space from my gaming space, and it’s nearly complete with the arrival of my massive new gaming desk last night. I’m trying to get back into Cities:Skylines and really work long-term on “Porteco.” Mostly I’ve been fixing some terrible design choices on my freeway off ramps and trying to improve the subway service, but I think I’ve run into a bug adding a new subway line.

      1. Beancat*

        The new Crash game actually has a “Pass N. Play” option! You can set it so that players rotate every time you die, hit a checkpoint, or both. My husband and I were tossing the controller like it was a hot potato, haha!

        I’ve never been good at city sims like that – my brain just doesn’t work to shape things in a 3D space. I admire anyone who can!

    2. Anon5775*

      My boyfriend and I played Code Names Duet boardgame 4 times and lost every time. We are looking at making some “house rules” so we have a fighting chance of winning. Has anyone come up with some modifications that make it more fun / a better chance of winning this cooperative game?

    3. All the cats 4 me*

      I played Bertram Fiddle, episode 1 all the way thru, and am now playing the second episode (seemingly final episode?). The first episode was charming and full of groaner puns and I felt like I was ‘getting’ the game thing, and really enjoyed it.

      The second episode reuses a lot of the first episode and, probably because it’s no longer new to me, I don’t think I am enjoying the second episode as much.

      I bought The Inner World, but haven’t tried it yet. I think I will wait till I finish Bertram2.

      If I enjoy TIW, maybe I can say I have found my gaming groove!

      I am also trying to learn to play bridge using an app called Tricky Bridge, I am enjoying the gameplay, but feel somewhat overwhelmed by the prospect of learning all the bidding rules. Unfortunately I don’t know anyone IRL who plays bridge (except one friend who lives on another continent!), so will be likely to be playing online only if and when I learn to play.

      Are there any beginner friendly online playing options for bridge?

    4. Mid*

      I’ve been doing Ghosts of Tsushima, the new Star Wars game, and Stardew! I’m getting close to 100%-ing Stardew which is fun (and slightly embarrassing. There are several hundred hours into this.)

    5. Holly the spa pro*

      Im almost done with Spiritfarer. I have a couple more recipes and fish to find to hit full completion and im so bummed its almost over. I never thought running errands for ghosts would be so engaging.

      Im super excited that they announced Rune Factory 5 since RF4 is easily top 3 for me. I also read today that they are adding couch co-op to Stardew so my husband and i can finally have a farm together.

      1. MEH*

        I’m so glad you really enjoyed Spiritfarer. After I full completed it, I kept playing to clean up some things and because I couldn’t imagine not spending time in that world. I had a real sense of loss when I finally, reluctantly realized it was truly over. I never expected it to affect me in that way.

    6. Jackalope*

      I started Final Fantasy Tactics a few weeks ago and have been enjoying it. The story plot isn’t that exciting yet but I’m enjoying the grinding and figuring out how to work out my characters to get them to where I want them to be. Most of the specializations are available to me now, which is kind of fun. I have a master in geomancy, which the interwebs say isn’t super useful, but I don’t care because geomancy is FUN. I also have a magic worker that is going to be a summoner because my all-time favorite video game character is Rydia from FF2/FF4, and summoning is so flashy in this game! (As it was in FF2, but even more so here…)

    7. Here for the Randomness*

      Dead Cells on iOS has kept my attention a bit. I am starting to get a hang of it though we will see if it will keep my attention without new areas/enemies or if there eventually are new enemies.
      Also Mariposas board game is interesting after one play through.

    8. MEH*

      Hades by Supergiant games. It’s a roguelike with a loose Dark Souls (my favorite series) vibe to it. You play as Zagreus, the son of Hades (the god), trying to escape Hades (the realm). As someone who was obsessed with mythology when I was a kid, the premise grabbed me right from the start. I get to meet all the Olympian gods and Chthonic gods, plus other important mythology figures like Patroclus and Eurydice. The narrative unfolds the more you play and the more NPCs you talk to.

      It’s a fantastic game but one that relies heavily on twitch responses. I’m An Old so I’m probably reaching the ceiling on what I can accomplish. I have beaten the game once, but there is so much more to do, beating it with one weapon is just the start. One thing I appreciate as a bi person is that Zagreus seems open to flirtation with everyone and is especially close to Thanatos while also flirting with Megaera (Fury).

      It has fantastic graphics and voice acting. I don’t like the mobs of enemies and the sudden ramp up of difficulty in the third floor or how long one run takes. The combat is too fast, but it’s satisfying when I can do it well. I recommend it to anyone who likes roguelikes with a steep learning curve/Dark Souls/mythology, and has great twitch reactions and the patience to keep trying again and again. It definitely has that ‘one more run’ feel to it.

    9. Julia*

      I started Life is Strange on my phone because I want to get into Square Enix games for various reasons, but don’t feel like committing to Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest just yet. Pokémon and The Sims, my only games so far (but ones I’ve been playing for 20 years now) are a big enough time suck for me and I have other things to do…

  14. AdAgencyChick*

    Commiseration thread for people who LOVE Thanksgiving and won’t be able to do it this year?

    My family usually has an enormous Thanksgiving — something like 25 to 30 people, with food that reflects the double history of my mixed-race family. There’s no worrying about having to make awkward conversation with a racist or meddling relative because there are so many people around that you find a spot to sit with whoever you like best; there’s delicious food from two cultures, which I spend a lot of time helping to prepare; there’s lots of kids of all ages and it’s great fun to play with them.

    Not this year, of course. I checked in with my brother and sister-in-law, who are always the hosts, because I knew that we would not be having a big family gathering but I was hoping that we could have a dinner for 8 if we all sat apart from each other and/or everyone got COVID tests first. Brother said no, not even that. I know he’s right but I’m *so* bummed about it. I haven’t seen any of my family since Christmas and I guess it’ll be 2021 before that can happen :(

    If you are also going to be alone or with just your partner and are used to a much bigger celebration, what do you think you’ll do this year?

    1. Doctor is In*

      Had been going to Florida for years to spend the holiday with family there. Staying home this year which makes me sad.

    2. Loopy*

      I don’t usually have a big gathering but it’s when my father travels to visit (from MA to SC) and we do a small dinner with my MIL because my husband has to work. I haven’t seen him since last year and so I’m very gutted about Thanksgiving (he can’t come because he’s at risk). I took the whole week off partially to try and just reframe it as YAY WEEK OFF FOR FUN STAYCATION and also to stay away from holiday talk from folks who are chosing to have get togethers. I’m a state where I’m sure some people WILL get together and be excited so, I would struggle hearing that all week.

    3. Loopy*

      I don’t usually have a big gathering but it’s when my father travels to visit (from MA to SC) and we do a small dinner with my MIL because my husband has to work. I haven’t seen him since last year and so I’m very gutted about Thanksgiving (he can’t come because he’s at risk). I took the whole week off partially to try and just reframe it as YAY WEEK OFF FOR FUN STAYCATION and also to stay away from holiday talk from folks who are chosing to have get togethers. I’m a state where I’m sure some people WILL get together and be excited so, I would struggle hearing that all week.

    4. BRR*

      I have a similarly large thanksgiving and am totally bummed. I’ve gotten really into baking and was looking forward to making something for everyone. I’m hoping to be able to give some baked goods to some coworkers or friends for their thanksgivings.

    5. Pamela Adams*

      My sister and I (and the dogs) plan to take off for a few days of pre-Thanksgiving vacation. We will then buy Trader Joe’s stuff or possibly a pre-made Thanksgiving dinner for the day.

    6. Mid*

      This was supposed to be the first year I actually got to attend the big family gathering and I’m pretty devastated. I haven’t been home for the holidays in over 5 years. I think I’ll be driving cross country to go to my parent’s and just have a small gathering of four people instead. But honestly, it sucks.

    7. Generic Name*

      I’m not hugely into thanksgiving, but this year I was planning on going home to spend it with my parents so my husband could meet my family members he’s never met. We got married in June-eloped, so he’s never met my sister or my aunts. Not sure what we’ll do this year. Maybe go up to the cabin. It’s always cozy up there in the winter

    8. Moocowcat*

      My family just had a Zoom type Thanksgiving. We’re in Canada, and October is the proper time to have Thanksgiving. We also sent flowers, which made the family quite happy. It was pretty great to both connect with relatives and do our own low key thing.

      I’m so looking forward to the Holiday Season. This year, I can finally opt out of all the Unpleasant Social Obligations. Heavenly. I’m

    9. Torrance*

      This’ll be my second Turkey Day alone, as my last surviving immediate family member died last fall. I guess I’m luckier than most in that sense: not having family is much different than having family that you can’t be with.

      My plans are pretty nebulous at the moment: I’m ordering delivery, but am uncertain from where. With some places closing for the holiday this year, I don’t know yet what’s going to be open. I just want a nice big meal that I don’t have to cook/clean up after.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Yes, the cousin who previously hosted Thanksgiving – well, provided the place and organized who brought what – lost her battle with cancer last winter. Her sister moved out of state this summer. It was already much smaller than the LW’s description, but I think it will just be my daughter with me this year. I expect to be reminded of those we’ve lost pretty strongly that day. Condolences on your loss.

        The plan is to get a turkey breast, possibly the marinated kind from Trader Joe’s; Stovetop Stuffing and gravy from a jar (doctored); m.a.y.b.e ambrosia salad with the recipe cut in half; whichever green vegetable falls out of the freezer at me; and purchased pie. Then carve the whole turkey breast for sandwiches or reheating, and possibly boil down the carcass for soup.
        I’d really like to clean off the dining table to use the Thanksgiving table runner and good dishes, but my daughter’s Etsy shop production line has taken over every available surface, so that may not happen. I think I shall buy a couple of nice trays and seasonal placemats instead.

    10. Mimmy*

      I think this will be our first Thanksgiving where we’re not getting together with my family. Growing up, we celebrated at my grandparents house (dad’s side), which I think got up to 60 people at one point between all the cousins, second cousins, significant others… good thing my grandparents had a very large house! My now husband got to experience a few of these.

      After they passed, Thanksgiving became just my immediate family plus my siblings’ spouses and children. We are at 19 and have been gathering in Boston for a number of years. I honestly won’t miss the cramped quarters during Thanksgiving dinner (19 people in one small dining room) but I will miss the weekend overall. My sister and her husband always put together a nice Thanksgiving meal; we always start with a lovely prayer from my father and I know the cousins (my nieces and nephews) enjoy being together.

      I’m hoping we can do a family Zoom call, but if the one we tried at the beginning of the pandemic was any indication. it may not be worthwhile (nothing bad, just all over the place and no real conversation).

    11. Thankful to still be putting one foot in front of the other*

      I’m Canadian, so Thanksgiving was last week. I usually host 12-16 people for a big dinner with an enormous turkey and every kind of side dish I can think of. I love to cook and I love having a full house. Holidays where everybody gathers for a meal, there are kids running around everywhere, everybody’s laughing and talking and hanging out in the kitchen while I’m running around taking this out of the oven or stirring that are my favourite moments of the year.

      This year, we got a little five-kilo turkey, the smallest I’ve ever cooked, and I made just my favourite side dishes. The gathering was me, my spouse, our daughter, and my brother, who lives alone and is part of our “social circle.” I really felt the lack of the usual big get-together, but honestly, at this point it’s all just sort of blending together into the Great Weirdness of this time, like being in a bad dream where everything’s just a little off from how it should be.

      Friends and family texted me all day saying they missed our usual party and telling me what they were doing with their day, which was a really nice way to connect. And we took extra time around the table to think about the things we are thankful for this year – we’re all healthy, the people we love most are still alive, we’ve kept our jobs, we have good food to eat and hope to keep us going until next Thanksgiving.

      When my daughter was born, my dad said to me “Having a kid is a little like being in a boat on the ocean. For the first few months, you can still see the land, and you worry about how far away from it you’re getting. And then eventually, the land recedes and all you see is water, and you stop worrying about how things used to be. You’re just sailing the sea and not thinking about the land at all.” That’s how I feel about COVID. The land has receded for me – no sense clinging to all the things I want from the Before Times, because they’re gone for now, and no amount of negotiating or futzing with “but what if we’re all two metres apart and nobody coughs and we all get tested and we wash our hands” is going to bring them back any time soon. I’m on the ocean, and I need to focus on trimming the sails and checking our stocks of fresh water. I’ll worry about land again when it heaves into sight.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        “Friends and family texted me all day saying they missed our usual party and telling me what they were doing with their day, which was a really nice way to connect.”

        I love this.

    12. Wicked Witch of the West*

      Starting in 1974 and ending with 2018, I hosted my relatives for Thanksgiving. It started with a group of 5 and eventually ended up with 25+. In 2019 my brother (my co-chef) moved to a different state. I decided I was just too old (70) to do it alone, so I called “The End”. I missed them last year, hubby and I had chicken red chile burritos with refried beans. Certainly not traditional. This year, turkey breast red chile burritos and refried beans.

      Hopefully, someday, we won’t have to deal with COVID and I can drive or fly to see everybody.

    13. ThatGirl*

      Our first decade together, my husband and I always went to his parents, with his two brothers, any girlfriend, grandparents, family friends. We’d stay overnight and decorate for Christmas the next day.

      Then they moved to Florida, so the last two years were different but still spent with friends. Now… well, we’re planning a Friendsgiving with one trusted friend, and our actual thanksgiving day is probably gonna be just us. It’ll be weird, but I’ll do what I can to make it special.

    14. Jackalope*

      I usually either go over the mtns and get together with my family (dad, siblings, and niblings), or more rarely have them come to my place. My dad was asking me this week what we’re going to do for Thanksgiving, but…. I just don’t see how we can do it. He’s sort of in a pod with my siblings and niblings, and one sibling is staying with him since their house burned down this summer (love 2020!), so the guest room is taken, and…. I’m both happy that they’re all in a pod together (more or less) and sad that I can’t be (I live a few hours away so it didn’t make sense for me to try; I normally see them every other month or so). I know they want me to come over, but there’s no place for me to sleep and they aren’t being as cautious as I would need them to be, so I just…. don’t think it’s going to happen. My spouse doesn’t care one way or another about Thanksgiving, so I’m not sure. Maybe do something with the other family in our pod? That’s my best idea right now.

      But I too am bummed about not being able to have a proper celebration with everyone, and also sad that I may be the only person missing from the bigger family gathering. It’s a long-standing issue (I was the one who moved away, so this is largely my own fault), but it’s so much harder this year. I don’t see them as much as they see each other, but at least I can do a few long weekends semi-regularly and now I… can’t.

    15. Ginger ale for all*

      I hope I can just work that holiday. If I can’t be with my family, I would rather suck it up and earn money.

    16. Oxford Comma*

      It’s just going to be me, I guess. I know it’s the right decision, but it’s depressing. I think we are going to try and do a conference phone call (a lot of the relatives don’t have computers).

      My plan is to try and make a nice meal and be grateful that it’s the right call to keep everyone safe.

    17. Gaia*

      Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and there’s just no way I can go home for it this year due to the virus. But I’ve decided that I’m having Thanksgiving anyway. I’m making all my favorite foods, I’m calling everyone, I’m watching my favorite holiday movies.

      It’s hard to find things to be thankful for this year. But I am hoping it will still be enjoyable, if different.

  15. Not So NewReader*

    Just wanted to say, thank you, Alison and Unnamed Helpers, for all your hard work on this website. While I am not clear on what had to be done, I do know that this is one of the longer times I have seen this site down. So that leads me to believe there was some serious heavy lifting going on here. And for that I thank all involved.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Wahoo! Thank you, NSNR, for starting this thread, and thank you to Alison and Unnamed Helpers for getting the site back up. Sometimes I’m too busy to check here but usually I’m very grateful for–and needy for–the company of other AAM people. This weekend is definitely the latter type. If time permits I’ll post my conversation-/thread-starting question below.

    2. Venus*

      Agreed! I’m trying to be offline (everything, not specific to AAM) more often for my health, yet missed having AAM this morning

    3. Pond*

      Yes! I only discovered AAM recently and now I’m kind of addicted. Alison’s advice is so reasonable and thought out, the commenters seem to be a great community, and it’s a lot more fun thinking about other people’s crazy situations than doing my own work! I was a bit worried seeing the site down so long. I hope everything was taken care of?

    4. Skeeder Jones*

      Same from me, thanks for getting this back up. I don’t always comment but I love reading the weekend posts. My anti-virus is no longer shaking its bony finger at me when I click on the site. Yay!

    5. D3*

      She said on Twitter she was switching hosts. I know because I went and looked and was worried it was something more nefarious.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep — this was planned maintenance. I switched to a new hosting company and that always involves some downtime. It got a little more complicated than I was hoping it would be, but fingers crossed that everything is settling in from the migration.

  16. Mouse*

    Any suggestions of resources for home decorating? I am SO BAD at it. Hubs and I are still stuck in “college/recent grad apartment” mode, with things like cheap mismatched furniture and rugs my parents found in the attic of a home they bought. We’re limited because we’re renting, so no wall paint or significant upgrades, but I’d like it to look nicer. I just don’t know where to start! How does one pick colors? How does one pick curtains? What does one put on a mantle and why is it always impractical? What do I put on my walls, how do I arrange my furniture, where do I buy mid-range furniture? I need SO much help!

    1. Anon5775*

      There are probably some “rules” to arranging furniture (so that you aren’t sitting next to a drafty window or have glare from the windows on your TV screen) but otherwise, I’d say “do what you like”. If you don’t want impractical vases on your mantle, put pictures, mementos, books, candles, whatever you’d like! Do what makes you happy.

    2. KittyCardigans*

      I have found blogs helpful for this! Apartment Therapy is pretty clickbaity on a day-to-day basis, but the archives have some useful stuff—for example, if you search “Layout,” amongst all the links to room tours are articles like “Be Your Own Designer: 10 Flawless Ways to Lay Out a Living Room.” While obviously you should do whatever you like in your own home, sometimes it’s good to know what the rules are and see if any of them look good to you. Googling “Martha Stewart decorating rules” (lol) also gives a few decent basic articles.
      (For inspiration, I like Young House Love and Bless’er House, but it sounds like you’re looking for basic info rather than inspiration to jump-start you. )
      Also, I recommend just starting with one space in the house and working at it until you think it looks nice before moving to another area. Results are faster and more satisfying that way :)

    3. BabyCarrot*

      I find that nice frames or mirors and accent pillows with matching color curtains can do a lot to make a room pop, also live plants if you’re into that. I buy most frames at Winners / Homesense or Marshall (I’m in Canada) and sometimes I find pretty good deals at hardware stores that have a home decor section (think poster sized canvas print for 15$).

      1. Mouse*

        I think some pictures in frames will help SO much! All of my photos are on Facebook, my phone, etc so I need to go through and choose some to print. Thank you!

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ve somehow gotten to a point where I have a strong sense of what I do and don’t like decor-wise and what I want my house to look like, and I think the way I got here was by looking at a ton of photos of other spaces and just paying attention when I liked something. Over time you start figuring out what appeals to you, and then you can incorporate those elements in your own place (whether it’s colors, or a certain feel, or type of furniture, etc.). I think it started when I redid my kitchen in a previous place years ago — I had no idea where to begin and so I just looked at a ton of photos and pretty soon specific things began speaking to me.

      I also once was unsure if a chandelier I loved would look right in our dining room and so I photoshopped it into a picture of the room. (Bought the chandelier and loved it.)

    5. Generic Name*

      My biggest decorating tip is you don’t have to put the sofa on the longest blank wall. My living room sofa is in front of a wall with big windows and my den sectional backs into an open walkway.

      1. Mouse*

        Oh this makes me feel much better—I was pondering letting my couch stick out of a wall to divide a room a little bit more and couldn’t decide if it would be crazy or not!

        1. allathian*

          No, it’s not crazy. We have a couch that doubles as a divider between our dining room and living room. I really enjoy our biggish kitchen/dining/living room…

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        For the sofa, I think it’s best to think about what you want to be able to see. I for example can’t stand having my back to a door or staircase, I need to know who is in the room and which way people have gone when leaving it. Or if you have a TV, it’ll need to be on the wall with the most windows so you don’t get any reflection on the screen, and then obviously the sofa will need to be placed so that you can watch the TV from there.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Our sofa was a few inches further over, and I pushed it to its present place after feeding my daughter a mega feed. The whole time she was feeding, I was wondering whether the rosebuds had bloomed in the garden. So I pushed the sofa over to be able to see the rose bush from the sofa. It made the prolonged breastfeeding that much nicer!

    6. Just a PM*

      I echo what everyone else said about it being trial and error and lots of pictures online.

      If you want someone to walk you through the process, then have you considered an online interior design service? These sites let you upload pictures of your current space, write a little about your vision (and that includes things you like/don’t like, what your budget is, any design inspiration you have) and a designer will put some plans together on how to decorate your space, which includes recommendations on everything from layout and floor plans to paint to furniture to decor to lighting, and you work with them to change anything you don’t like or want to see done differently. If you shop through their website, then you can get some good discounts. You’re not obligated to buy anything from their stores, so your project cost is the interior designer’s time to review your project and put together their recommendations, and many of them will work with you to make tweaks or suggestions.

      I’ve done both Modsy and Havenly. I was happy with both results but prefer Havenly since it’s more personal. Havenly lets you pick your interior designer based on your design style (and if you don’t know your design style, they have a nifty style quiz that’s pretty much just reviewing a ton of Pinterest pictures) whereas Modsy assigns a designer to you.

    7. BeadsNotBees*

      I’m going to agree with some of the other comments- browse magazines, Pinterest, etc and find what appeals to you. I also find that it’s easiest when you pick out one thing that you truly love and build the room around that (it can be a great rug, curtains, a piece of art, a beautiful sofa, etc) It’s also a good idea to get your big furniture pieces in neutral colors because it gives you a lot of flexibility- I have found my taste and aesthetic have slowly evolved over the years and having neutral pieces allows me to swap out some pillows, rugs, and accessories to give the room a whole new feel.

    8. Green great dragon*

      What’s your style? Scandinavian minimalist, loads of colours, full of plants, cosy and comfortable, chintz?? Light colours, bright colours, dark colours? Not that you have to stick to one style but that gives you a direction, and you can always mix it up if you want to. I do like the minimalist style (light colours, simple pictures, not a whole lot on the mantle) but there was the time I moved house, looked at my totally pine, cream and beige room, and urgently had to go on what I refer to as ‘the blue shopping trip’ to make it a little less minimalist.

    9. chi chan*

      Start by training your eye. Look up interior design photos and take note of colors they use together, lighting that goes well with the color; orange, white, dim or bright.
      What do you like? If you have a friend whose house you admire ask for help choosing. For arranging furniture get a feel of the flow of the room, routes people take through it and arrange stuff to be out of the way.
      Honestly for practical purposes gray looks classy and a few artificial plants in white pots thrown around with one focus of color like maroon or teal is classy and easy to keep up (dust doesn’t show up on gray).

    10. Buni*

      2 methods I’ve seen work for people:

      1) inhale every single design magazine / website / friend’s house you can, narrow down what you really don’t like / could never live with, and see what you’re left with, or

      2) pick one thing you absolutely love – could be smth small like a single vase / rug, or a wall colour, or a whole sofa – and build the room around that. Friends of mine fell in love with a bright orange sofa, which they felt narrowed their style down to ‘Sunshine-y’ or Spanish Colonial, which helped.

      My ‘Where do things go?’ is always entirely practical – am I going to trip over that, can I reach the thing, is there glare on the screen etc.

    11. Dancing Otter*

      I’d start with the couch, myself. Find a couch that’s actually comfortable and well-made, because most people spend more time sitting there than at the table. (Unless you’re into the look of recliners, in which case, start there.) Sadly for current circumstances, this can’t be done very well online, not the comfortable part, anyway.
      The style and available colors of that first piece may limit, or at least influence, your further choices. (There are always slipcovers and throws, but that’s a design choice, too.) If there’s visible wood, for example, do you want to stick to that finish for other pieces? Is the style of the couch very formal or more hygge?

      As for arranging furniture, or making sure the pieces you like will fit, I’m a big fan of graph paper (low tech) or one of the many apps to do the same thing on-screen.

      Lighting is important. Be sure you *can* put lights where you will need them: a lamp on an end table, a floor lamp, a hanging lamp (if allowed)? They all depend on the placement of electrical outlets. There’s a perfect spot for an armchair in my bedroom, but not a single outlet on that wall, grrrrr!

      1. allathian*

        In my old apartment I had a similar problem, but I solved it with an extension cord. That solution ended up being permanent enough that I taped the cord to the skirting board with painter’s tape to keep it in place. Otherwise extension cords are apt to get in the way when you vacuum.

    12. Overeducated*

      I went through this phase a year or two ago where I wasnt ready to buy a house but couldn’t deal with the recent grad mishmash either. One major thing I did was getting just a couple furniture pieces for my living room to make it more of a coherent space. I replaced a gigantic brown armchair saved from the curb with two smaller red chairs (picking up the shade of red in a hand me down rug) that are easy to move around for different seating arrangements. I found a cedar chest on Craigslist for a coffee table. I also reorganized the pictures on the walls (we have a lot of random small to medium framed stuff we’ve accumulated) and made a sort of gallery wall behind the couch. Those things helped a lot, even without a new couch and window treatments, so much so that the next time we had friends over they commented on how nice it looked. I also moved the furniture in my bedroom around to focus on symmetry rather than leaving the maximum amount of open floor space. So start small and cheap with portable stuff.

      Also, check out apartment therapy and Pinterest for inspiration – even being in a small house right now, I find that apartment specific photos help so much more than the massive houses with giant walls of windows that seem to be the “standard” space for design photos. And if you have a local Buy Nothing group, that’s a great way to pass on stuff you’re done with, declutter, and pick up lucky finds that help.

    13. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Colours: my partner recently bought a second home. I have never felt that I have have any particular decorating talent. We decided to use local colours: a lot of houses in that area are white, with blue doors and shutters and window frames. Then we quite naturally decorated the whole house in various shades of blue ranging from lavender to navy and taking in a dark aqua. Then we went on a spree of car boot sales and picked out vases and lamps etc. with blue too. I even found matching curtains and a quilt for our bedroom.
      If you buy new stuff, you’ll find that there are certain colours in fashion that crop up in all stores, making it easy to get stuff that matches. Surprisinglyy I also found it easy to get matching stuff when buying second hand: I suppose people tire of stuff at the same rate. Mind you, I wasn’t looking for rare colours.

    14. Emma2*

      I would recommend the Domino book on decorating- it is several years old now, but I think it is really useful. It shows you rooms and looks at why they work & how things are put together- for someone who is not naturally good at decorating (speaking from personal experience), it may be helpful in learning how to think about putting things together

  17. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

    Thank you to everyone who sent blessings and well wishes for my dog last weekend!
    The treatment worked, his condition stabilized, and he was able to come home from the hospital this week!

    1. allathian*

      Wonderful news! I hope you’ll be able to enjoy the company of your precious dog for many healthy years to come!

  18. Aaaachooo*

    I wanted one kid. I had my one kid. I, too, was surprised that my OB/GYN said, “absolutely, when can we schedule” a tubal ligation well before that *magic* age 35. Every time I think about it, I’m happier and more convinced of my decision than the last time I thought about it. So, thanks for that. :-)

  19. Anon Animal Lover*

    Has anyone started a charity? Is there any advice that you would give?

    My city has a lot of cat rescues, but fundamentally the problem is that there are a lot of cats that aren’t fixed. I volunteer with both cat and dog rescues, and the difference is clear as the dog rescues are exclusively rehoming owner-surrenders while cat rescues are inundated with kittens born outdoors. Donations to charity won’t suddenly increase, so the most obvious solution is to find a way to do cheaper surgeries so more of them can be done. The SPCA has a no-cost clinic, yet a lot of people aren’t using it because the requirements are detailed (paperwork, including income tax form to prove low-income) and many low-income people don’t have easy access to a car and can’t afford to take time off work.

    I read somewhere (here?) that people shouldn’t start charities if there is already one doing similar work, and I have asked around in the rescue community to confirm that it would be useful to have a charity that focuses on fixing animals cheaply.

    I have a plan, and have spoken to a few people who think it would be a great idea but are already committed to their rescues and don’t have a lot of time to help. I think that if I asked for help from the community then I would have a lot of volunteers, but based on experience and intuition I would have to be careful about how to manage the human part of this because there will be a lot of people in rescue who are going to want to help out by taking over, and there are a lot of quirky people who are involved with rescue. I am hoping to manage this by asking people I know in the rescue community for suggestions for a board and having a lot of little tasks that people can do for me (for example, call up a local vet clinic and ask if they would be interested in offering low-cost surgeries). I know that fundraising is a huge part of charitable work and I don’t like that part, but I’m hopeful that I can start this effectively and cheaply by focusing on non-money ways in which to help, for example I will approach the SPCA to see if there is a way to simplify the paperwork, and I can ask for volunteers to help with paperwork and drive cats to their surgeries, and that way I could help low-income people access the free surgery with no cost to the charity. Longer-term I can have volunteers apply for grants, and I’m hopeful that rescues won’t feel in financial competition with this type of charity if they are more likely to be rehoming animals that have already been fixed as that is much cheaper for them.

    Despite having a plan, and some reasonable solutions to the biggest risks, I worry that I’m going to fail and am hoping for advice on how to increase my chance of success. This is totally outside the scope of anything I have ever tried, as my job involves answering questions so I don’t manage anything and I’m usually the one giving help rather than asking for it, and I like to spend a lot of personal time alone. The idea of relying on others, and having to spend a lot of time with people, is making me question if I’ll have the endurance. Yet I am also thinking that I have some goodwill within the rescue community, and I have more patience and planning skills than most people, so I’m not a bad option. Yet I do wonder if I’m making a mistake! Although I remind myself that worst-case I will only lose time and patience, and I’m very willing to take that risk because the possible benefit to the cats would be huge. For each cat spayed, the result is 10 fewer kittens born each summer, and that means 10 fewer surgeries (cost savings!) or 10 kittens that will never be born only to die of exposure. Even if we only help out 10 cats next summer, that would still feel like an accomplishment and I could build on that.

    Any suggestions are gratefully appreciated!

    1. silverpie*

      Many of those kittens are probably being born to feral cats. Alley Cat Allies (alleycat dot org) has lots of Resources for dealing with those.

      1. Anon Animal Lover*

        Thank you! I have been looking for resources to explain trapping to new people, so I will definitely check it out. I have worked in rescue for many years, so the one thing that I don’t have to worry about is getting cats. I know it’s a really valuable skill to work with ferals, and thankfully I know a lot of people who are really good. I appreciate your suggestion!

    2. Sc@rlettNZ*

      I’m one of the founders of a cat rescue charity in my hometown (I’m not in the US though so I can’t comment on legal or funding aspects as no doubt they are very different). In our case there weren’t any other organisations that would deal with unsocialised/timid cats. People calling the SPCA for help were told to just get pest control in at their own expense. What started out as a very small operation soon grew madly out of control (mainly due to one person who would never say no, even if we didn’t have the resources available to help). Because of her we burned through good volunteers at a fairly steady rate. I’m the sole survivor of the original group from five years ago (with the exception of the problem child) and I’ve just stepped down.

      Be very, very sure of your limits and make sure you enforce your boundaries. You won’t be able to help everyone, and don’t try or else you will burn out. Every single cat you can desex saves lives – lives of unwanted kittens born only to die of neglect and disease.

      It sounds like you already know this, but cat rescue can attract the crazy (who are also often well meaning but sometimes not). So if you will be asking for volunteers be aware that managing them can be very time consuming. And it’s not always easy to find volunteers – good ones are like gold dust.

      You’ll meet folk who are so, so grateful and appreciative and those that are rude and demanding. You will almost certainly come across some heartbreaking situations.

      It’s hard work, but very, very rewarding. Just make sure to look after yourself and to know your own limits. (I’m not trying to be discouraging, I’m just stating my own experiences). Best of luck and from the other side of the world, thanks for caring enough to take action.

      1. Anon Animal Lover*

        Thank you so much, yes, your experience is exactly why I am trying to think everything through carefully. My biggest worry is about overextending myself or the charity, so I will only commit to what we can afford (no asking for credit with the vet) and I know it will be a long-term plan so we will aim to start small the first few years and slowly increase over time. If we end up being really popular and get a lot of charitable donations then I think the plan still works well.

        I have been involved with rescue for decades, so I have experience with the fact that we will need boundaries with those asking for help, and with the weirdos asking to be volunteers.
        For volunteers: I have met quite a few good people in my years and I want to ask them for help but I need to be careful about not burning bridges with the rescues where I currently volunteer. My plan is that I will ask some of those golden volunteers to help with driving and forms, as those are totally different from what most rescues need (they mostly need fosters and fundraisers) so there won’t be much of a conflict, and I will discuss it first with one of the rescues as I volunteer most with them. If that one is concerned then I won’t ask anyone with them. I know some foster volunteers who are burnt out, so this might be a different way for them to help. They are kind and helpful, and I know they would do well interacting with ‘clients’. Fundraising is a different skill, and I can ask for people with experience to take the lead on this. This is one area where I can’t afford to burn bridges with current rescues, as there is definitely the potential for conflict (all trying to win the same limited pool of funds), but my plan is to find fundraising people from outside my current circle. I also think that that conflict disappears completely if this charity makes it easier for rescues to access at-cost desexing because those golden volunteers will be helping both groups.
        For choosing who to help: I have friends who work with low-income communities, and they know about the support system our city has built up. My plan is to set up something with that support system first. I found out that they currently have a program for yearly vetting for homeless people with pets, and it isn’t advertised openly because the people involved know who to recommend. These workers understand limits, as they themselves are having to work within them all the time. It won’t be a perfect system, but I think it will be the healthiest way to start. I was really happy when I found out about this option, because I know what it’s like to get piles of requests for help and know that you have to refuse almost all of them. I am also very aware that the greatest need is with abandoned outdoor cats, not low-income, and I have a plan for that one too but to keep this manageable I want to start with cats that are currently owned so that we focus on desexing and not rehoming (yet). Desexed owned cats produce kittens that get abandoned outdoors and become part of the outdoor problem, so starting with owned cats will eventually help everyone.

        I’m familiar with the rude and demanding, and you are right that there are some really appreciative people also. Thank you so much for your kind advice, and for having helped change the lives of so many animals in 5 years. Also, thank you for persisting despite 5 years with a problem child. I have experienced rescues like those, which is why I am working hard to be very careful about the core volunteers. There was one rescue in particular where one founder was toxic, and over time all the good founders burnt out and left, and the only people who could do well in that environment were toxic themselves so it mostly fell apart. I am currently working with a rescue that has been in existence for decades, and I know there is limited patience for drama, and the resulting culture is much healthier as a result.

        Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and taking the time to share your experiences. It has been helpful to put more of my thoughts together on this as I wrote my response. Oh, and you actually did something hugely helpful as I have been hoping to find a mentor, and I just realised that I might try contacting one of the really kind founders from that toxic group because that person would be a shiny golden nugget even in a sea of gold and likely has a lot of good advice. Thank you for digging out that bright idea!

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      Although I haven’t been involved in animal rescue, I have many years of experience with nonprofits. You have a wonderful goal. Perhaps this is already in the plan you said you have but if not, I would start by making sure you have enough of a commitment from veterinarians and volunteer board members to get this started–in writing–so that when you’re seeking funding, you’ve got a solid plan to show.

      There is always more need that any one person can handle. Take care of yourself by not overextending. It’s better to help fewer cats with less volunteers than to take on more volunteers who are not the right fit and will be a source of stress. Having the wrong volunteers can alienate your community, and that’s bad news for a nonprofit where your reputation is everything.

      Even if it’s just you but you’re doing things well, that’s fine. Make sure you don’t try to do too much too fast. Good luck with everything!

      1. Anon Animal Lover*

        Thank you! I have enough experience with animal rescue so I appreciate your experience with nonprofits as that’s more my gap. My plan definitely includes speaking with vet clinics, as that will be a big part of the initial work. I have also heard rumours that the SPCA is starting, maybe, to potentially contemplate collaborating with outside groups on low-cost surgeries. This would make a huge difference as they are a non-profit. It is likely that they would continue to impose a lot of conditions, so this couldn’t be our only option, yet maybe in time we could reduce those conditions and make it more manageable for everyone.

        As mentioned in the previous response, I have definitely experienced rescues where toxic founders were the biggest source of stress and alienated a lot of people. You know it is bad when you are worried about a dying animal, but the person who is supposed to support you is causing you more worry. I know personalities change and I can’t guarantee that everyone will be perfect, but I want to start with a good foundation and make it clear there is a lack of tolerance for drama.

        Thank you for letting me know that I can do it even with a small group, even if that group is just me. And thank you for your kind advice based on experience, as I feel more confident now!

    4. Lilac*

      I have an acquaintance into cat rescue, and she organised a big one-off event for low cost cat neutering a few years ago. I think there were a limited number of subsidized surgeries being offered by vets and people could apply for one. That might be a way to test it out without a permanent commitment?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Lilac has what could be a really good idea for you here. Instead of taking on all the overhead and administration for creating and organizing and running a brand new charity, find a rescue group in your area who would be willing to be the “host” for a low-cost spay neuter clinic. With the goal of making it annual at first and increasing frequency over time. (Smaller & more frequent could have more of an impact in my area I suspect.)
        That way YOU could channel your energy doing the part that you feel strongly about, and let the existing admin take the tax code burden off of you.

      2. Anon Animal Lover*

        The current problem with this is Covid, as vet clinics are already overextended and rescues are having trouble with occasional surgeries. Yet I agree that Spay Days are the way to go long-term, and my hope would be to plan for one next summer and hopefully more in future years. Thank you for the suggestion!

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I volunteer with a cat rescue and I’m friendly with the woman who runs it, so I’ve seen what it takes to run something like this. Based on what she’s told me and what I’ve witnessed, it takes a LOT of time, patience, and resources, and is very mentally and emotionally draining. Definitely rewarding, though.

      And yes, rescues can attract a lot of strange people. Their hearts are usually in the right place, but they can also be really difficult to manage and deal with, and often cause issues–everything from taking on way too many cats to calling the head of the rescue with every little thing to being rude to other volunteers and the public. And some are just plain flakey. Sometimes when people volunteer, they’re all gung-ho until it’s time to actually show up and do the work. They’re not being paid so they sometimes just think, “Well, it won’t matter if I don’t go. Sally has four other volunteers who can do it.” When you have volunteers, you have to “hire” them and manage them. If you’re not a manager now and never have been, or you have been and you hated it, managing volunteers is going to be much more work. You have to make sure they all have something to do, it gets done and they do it right, and you have to address any issues that come up.

      Sorry, this isn’t to scare you away. It’s just to say that aside from the fundraising, finding organizations that will volunteer their time and facilities, etc., managing the volunteers can be tough and often takes a lot of time. If you can’t depend on the volunteers then it’s all on you to do everything, and that’s going to burn you out fast.

    6. Scout Finch*

      My city has a very good non-profit for low cost spay/neuters (cats, dogs, rabbits & pigs – & I think they have done at least a few guinea pigs). They started out (over 20 years ago) sponsoring alters at our municipal animal control facility. Then they leased a small space and made it work for surgeries (with contracted vets, a few paid staff and several volunteers), tho it was not ideal. Finally, they bought & renovated a doctor’s office. They have been there about 5 years now. They are a top-notch facility with top-notch services and staff. Their current clinic director was an intake admin a long time ago. She is awesome. They have been able to leverage technology to perform what humans used to do (appointment setting, reminders and such). That enables them to put more into face-to-face animal care. Presently, they have a fundraising drive to get more kennels so they can add a vet and do more surgeries per day.

      And one cannot find better vet care in this city. I cannot emphasize what this clinic means to our area. People come from 75+ miles away for the affordability, but return for the level of care and service.

      It is important that you get a good board who will be engaged. That will discourage those who want to come in & change everything to their way, even though those ways have been tried and did not work for the best of the org.

      You may want to reach out to their director on their FB page – they are responsive to messages, though it may take a bit to respond. Check out their website at spaymemphis (dot) org . They are all about the mission – I am sure they would be glad to offer advice.

      Good luck to you.

  20. Grey Cat*

    Is it normal for a husband to call his wife a b!^h on the regular? If a friend mentioned that her husband regularly put her down for being a B and no fun, how do you react? I’m horrified and can’t understand her non-reaction to the name calling. Has anyone been in this situation before? How did it turn out? I’m concerned she’ll cool her friendship with me if I express my true feelings.

    1. Anon5775*

      Not normal for me. Unfortunately it could be routine for some couples but it doesn’t make it ok.

    2. Dan*

      As an outside observer? Not my circus, not my monkeys. That is, unless I’m directly asked for advice. Absent a direct request, you could just ask, “How do you feel when he says that?” Then see what she says and go from there. If she’s genuinely not bothered by that, then it really isn’t your place to try to convince that she should be, because you’re right, that will likely cool your relationship.

      That said… If I were her, asking for advice? “See a lawyer”.

      The older I get, the less patience I have for that kind of crap in a relationship. And this isn’t “see a marriage counselor” territory. You do that when two people are trying to get to a share goal but are talking past each other/can’t hear each other. In this case? A marriage counselor wouldn’t tell him anything he doesn’t already know. So “see a lawyer”.

    3. Mid*

      I would be so mad if anyone I was involved with called me a B on the regular, and I have a mouth that would make a sailor blush. It’s a pretty big red flag to me.

    4. Generic Name*

      No, it’s not. It’s verbal abuse. As a friend, I’d be wary of outright saying that to her, because she’s likely in denial and may cut you off, which will isolate her (which is what abusers want). Be there for her. Listen to her. Be a safe place for her. Be ready to make a safety plan with her.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I have a friend who put up with this for at least 20 years. Then one day decided that this might be wrong.

      I had another friend whose SO did something mean. I spoke up and said, “That was mean!” This friend’s solution was to never mention SO again. I thought they had broke up. A couple years later she accidentally said, “Well SO and I….”. I said “Is this the same SO or a new one?” A look of horror came over her face. It was the same SO.

      They will put up with it. And they will defend them. Until they decide not to anymore.

      1. Dan*

        Speaking from personal experience, it’s downright amazing at how much crap people will put up with and the rationale they make for it. Which means, if someone hit their breaking point and left, things probably got pretty bad. Most people just don’t leave “meh” relationships, short of a “mid life crisis” or something. They left because staying became unbearable.

        What surprised the heck out of me was my breaking point came faster than most. I attended some support groups for a bit, and everybody in the group had kids except me. Most of the attendees had waited until the kids were out of the house before calling it quits — meaning your friend’s 20 years were quite the norm. I got out in less than 5 years and no kids, and I was the odd duck in the group (statistically, that is.)

        1. Lora*

          Yup, 100% agree.

          My ex’s word for me when things were Bad was “whore.” If I went to an after-work social thing for Team Building, I was a whore. If I went to lunch with the boss, I was a whore. He purposely left it ambiguous whether he meant I was socializing in the hopes of more money/advancement (which in his mind was Being A Sell-Out, because the boss should only care about your output quality and nothing else) or if he actually thought I was sexing up my colleagues. Probably both.

          Dan, I am constantly AMAZED how much people will put up with. I’m amazed how much *I* put up with – apparently my family had a running bet how long our marriage would last. Even the marriage counselor told me she didn’t think this would work out in the end. Would have saved myself ten years of misery if I’d listened to her. I can’t explain why, other than he wasn’t abusive 24/7 and I felt like I had promised, I signed up for this, I felt it was wrong to abandon someone who was obviously mentally ill and if only he got the right treatment for his depression and drug problems, things would be better. Most of the people who know me post-divorce, think of me as so happy to be independent they have no idea that I was ever married for very long.

          One of my friends who stayed in a crap marriage for 15 years has constant work to do teaching her son that it’s not OK to treat women or anyone like his father treated her. Son is 12 and stomps off to his room and refuses to socialize with the stepkids and extended family because they won’t allow him to be verbally abusive to them the way his dad was. Instead of behaving in a kind and respectful manner, he would rather withdraw from everyone. Another one of my friends stays married because his wife was abusive to her other children and he’s worried that if he leaves, the wife will have nobody to observe and stop her from abusing their child too. Staying “for the kids” only teaches them bad coping skills and that it’s OK to accept mistreatment.

      2. Dan*

        Speaking from personal experience, it’s downright amazing at how much crap people will put up with and the rationale they make for it. Which means, if someone hit their breaking point and left, things probably got pretty bad. Most people just don’t leave “meh” relationships, short of a “mid life crisis” or something. They left because staying became unbearable.

        What surprised the heck out of me was my breaking point came faster than most. I attended some support groups for a bit, and everybody in the group had kids except me. Most of the attendees had waited until the kids were out of the house before calling it quits — meaning your friend’s 20 years were quite the norm. I got out in less than 5 years and no kids, and I was the odd duck in the group (statistically, that is.)

      3. Dan*

        Speaking from personal experience, it’s downright amazing at how much crap people will put up with and the rationale they make for it. Which means, if someone hit their breaking point and left, things probably got pretty bad. Most people just don’t leave “meh” relationships, short of a “mid life crisis” or something. They left because staying became unbearable.

        What surprised the heck out of me was my breaking point came faster than most. I attended some support groups for a bit, and everybody in the group had kids except me. Most of the attendees had waited until the kids were out of the house before calling it quits — meaning your friend’s 20 years were quite the norm. I got out in less than 5 years and no kids, and I was the odd duck in the group (statistically, that is.)

    6. People leave when they're ready*

      No, of course it’s not normal for one partner to call the other one names and put them down. But you need to manage your own feelings about that away from your friend. Her feelings about her partner are probably really complex and difficult, and her “non-reaction” in front of you probably has little to do with how she actually feels. Don’t express your horror or any other “true feeling” to her – don’t make yourself feel better at her expense. If she’s living with someone who’s putting her down constantly, what she needs is someone who can listen supportively and non-judgementally and maybe provide an alternative narrative in a no-pressure kind of way (“Well, I don’t think you’re a b, and I think you’re actually a lot of fun!”).

      If she’s ever ready to think about making a change, having someone who she knows she can talk to without being judged or having to deal with that person’s big feelings before she can fully express her own is a huge asset for her safety and for her success in leaving. If you can be that friend, that’s a huge gift to her. If you can’t – and it’s OK if you can’t; everyone has their own stuff to deal with – at least don’t add to what she’s dealing with.

    7. Not A Manager*

      I think sometimes you can name the thing without a lot of heat behind it, and without requiring a response. Something like, “he called you a bitch? Wow, that’s mean.” But just a statement. It can help the person see that the behavior isn’t normal.

    8. RagingADHD*

      If you have to routinely censor your facial expressions or reactions when your friend talks about her relationship, that is a red flag that either her relationship is toxic, or your friendship is going to be hard to sustain.

      I don’t think it’s your place to have some kind of Big Talk with her about how awful this is (which it is).

      But I also don’t think you need to censor your authentic response in the moment. Either she will benefit from an outside perspective that this isn’t normal, or she will decide to manage the friendship a different way. That’s her business.

      But there’s no reason you have to smell shit and pretend it’s roses.

    9. Melody Pond*

      Assuming the husband’s intent is be genuinely hurtful – oof, no! Not okay! I don’t even know how I would react, honestly. I would express horror first, but then if my friend wasn’t open to hearing it, I don’t know what I would do.

      Is there any possibility that this is actually a playful aspect of their dynamic, and you’re just distracted by the b* word? For example – my spouse and I both used to be active in the BDSM scene in our city, and I remember a couple of friends of ours from this scene who would talk like this regularly. In particular, I remember my friend N one time being referred to as T’s “snarky little b*tch” but it was very much a part of their negotiated (and loving!) dynamic.

      So that’s my only word of caution. But assuming there’s NOT something like that going on here – yes, I’d be horrified.

      1. Morning reader*

        Yes, for me the difference would be if the intention was to be hurtful. A close friend called her husband “dildo” for the first years of their marriage. I was appalled. But it was apparently a term of affection, most of the time. In high school, my nickname among some friends was the C-word. Another friend has told me she would divorce her husband if he ever used that word to her. So, standards vary, meaning comes within context.

    10. Nita*

      I would think, if she told you, she’s putting out a feeler to see if others think this is normal. Maybe she wants to hear your opinion. She might react in a defensive way, but still, she may need to hear “no, of course this is not ok.”

    11. KR*

      I think for me it’s less that he calls her a b*tch, and more that it makes her feels put down and upset and that isn’t enough for him to stop doing that. The word isn’t the issue, it’s that he’s doing it to hurt her feelings.

  21. apartment question*

    So, my downstairs neighbors have people over what feels like *a lot* — 3-4 times/week, usu. in the evenings. In addition to COVID concerns, it means it’s hard for me to relax in my own living room because of their noise — varies, sometimes louder, sometimes quieter.

    Do I need to just . . . suck it up?

    Or can I encourage them to maybe consider other places to congregate with friends?

    I really just want it to be more consistently quiet in my own living room, at 9 pm.

    For reference, they’re undergrads at a local uni and are having friends over.

    1. PollyQ*

      If it’s 9pm and not super loud, I think you do need to suck it up. That’s the unfortunate reality of apartment living, especially in poorly constructed buildings. My rule of thumb is that past 10pm it should be pretty quiet on weekdays, maybe stretch it to 11pm for Fri/Sat. Sorry!

      1. apartment question*

        It’s just so frustrating

        early on, they were all “oh, we only have people over once a week, we’re so quiet” and I just don’t feel like my place is my own, I can hear them ALL THE TIME

    2. BRR*

      Are they loud or do your apartments just not dampen sound very well? After reading a lot of advice columns I think it’s really hard to get loud neighbors to change. I think the only possible effective plans is to ask loud neighbors to limit the noise to reasonable hours or fits truly bad complain to your landlord. You could passive aggressively walk really loud but I would only do that when I was particularly mad.

      1. apartment question*

        It’s . . . kinda both?

        They’re pretty loud, esp. if they happen to have music / video games / movies on (I can’t hear word, but I can hear and sometimes feel the music), but also it’s just an old apartment building with meh soundproofing.

    3. Ellyfant*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. I lived in a couple of apartments with *no* sound proofing and it sucked so bad. I feel for you.

      It might be worth mentioning something to your neighbours. If my neighbours asked me politely to keep the noise down, I would make more of an effort to reasonably accommodate them. It’s possible they just don’t know how much noise they’re creating. However, there’s not a lot you can do if they’re the kind of people who DGAF. Sorry.

    4. Dan*

      It’s not obvious from your post the particulars of your living situation, but where I live, there are two things that come into play. The first is the county noise ordinance which kicks in at 11pm. The second is the property rules that are written into the lease, which are a bit stricter than the county rules.

      So my advice is to check those two things. If this isn’t covered by the property rules *and* it isn’t an issue the cops will concern themselves with, then you’ll have to suck it up.

      You aren’t specific as to the type of noise being generated. If it’s loud music, that is more likely to be actionable, but loud voices probably aren’t.

    5. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      If they aren’t breaking any city noise ordinances or lease terms you can only change your situation not them. If you can add area rugs that would help dampen noise coming through the floor, cover any floor vents where sound can travel through (just during the noisy times), get a white noise machine, and make sure windows/doors are properly weather proofed because this also helps with noise.

    6. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      If they aren’t breaking any city noise ordinances or lease terms you can only change your situation not them. If you can add area rugs that would help dampen noise coming through the floor, cover any floor vents where sound can travel through (just during the noisy times), get a white noise machine, and make sure windows/doors are properly weather proofed because this also helps with noise.

    7. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      If they aren’t breaking any city noise ordinances or lease terms you can only change your situation not them. If you can add area rugs that would help dampen noise coming through the floor, cover any floor vents where sound can travel through (just during the noisy times), get a white noise machine, and make sure windows/doors are properly weather proofed because this also helps with noise.

    8. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      If they aren’t breaking any city noise ordinances or lease terms you can only change your situation not them. If you can add area rugs that would help dampen noise coming through the floor, cover any floor vents where sound can travel through (just during the noisy times), get a white noise machine, and make sure windows/doors are properly weather proofed because this also helps with noise.

    9. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      If they aren’t breaking any city noise ordinances or lease terms you can only change your situation not them. If you can add area rugs that would help dampen noise coming through the floor, cover any floor vents where sound can travel through (just during the noisy times), get a white noise machine, and make sure windows/doors are properly weather proofed because this also helps with noise.

    10. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      If they aren’t breaking any city noise ordinances or lease terms you can only change your situation not them. If you can add area rugs that would help dampen noise coming through the floor, cover any floor vents where sound can travel through (just during the noisy times), get a white noise machine, and make sure windows/doors are properly weather proofed because this also helps with noise.

    11. Courageous cat*

      This is unfortuately part of the territory with living in an apartment. There’s nothing you can do if they quiet down past 9 or 10. Didn’t you post about this last week and get similar advice as well?

      If you deeply value quiet time, I’d try to move to a bottom floor apartment or a house of some kind.

      1. apartment question*

        (I didn’t actually, this is my first time posting about this.

        IME, bottom floor apartments are actually louder, and I’m too poor to move to a house.)

        :(

        1. Courageous cat*

          You may want to check out last weekend’s open thread then (I think), maybe there’s some good advice there.

          Regardless, you don’t have any real options here with regards to your current situation as that’s what anyone deals with living in an apartment, so I would focus on the things you *can* control. White noise, keep your tv on, more rugs/fabric to help dampen noise, etc. Last but not least, maybe your landlord (or you even) can talk to them and they would be reasonable about keeping it slightly quieter.

          1. Jackalope*

            I will say that when I was living in an apartment I had a certain amt of success in talking with my neighbors and having them quiet down. Sometimes people don’t realize how much their noise is carrying! So it’s worth a try.

  22. Be the Change*

    My husband and I are getting on each other’s nerves something fierce the last few days. We haven’t fought, but little squabbles crop up. I wish we could get a few days break…. especially, I wish I could get a few days alone. Culturally, it would be very hurtful if I said, honey, I’m going to take a little trip by myself. Going on a trip for work or family would be okay but not for a break. Any thoughts…?

    “First world privileged problem”, I’m well aware.

    1. Pond*

      Would it be possible for you to do something like visit family, but instead of going straight there and back taking a few extra days travel time for yourself?
      More immediately, could you get out more during the day? For example, spending time at a local library, going for a walk around the neighborhood or a local park, or even taking a day trip by yourself, perhaps to see a friend, go for a hike, or see a historical site or tourist attraction?
      Of course all of this depends on your particular situation and pandemic restrictions, but the idea is to find ways to not be sharing the same space 24/7.

      1. Pond*

        There are definitely people (especially family members) in my life who I love very much, but get along with much better when we each have time to ourselves.

    2. BRR*

      Are you getting enough alone time? For my husbands birthday I picked up dinner from a restaurant we like that’s really far away. My gift was giving him the house to himself.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Does he have a friend or empathetic family member you could call and say, “Take him somewhere, Please!!” And they would invite him out of the house?

    4. Not A Manager*

      Would it be hurtful to say, “honey, we’ve really been getting on each other’s nerves lately. I think we need a few days’ break. How do you think we could do that?”

    5. Pennyworth*

      If you reframed it as going away giving him a break, would that be more acceptable? Would he be up for a conversation about both of you needing some time apart and how you could agree to do that without rancor?

    6. Hi there*

      Maybe there is a way you could get more alone time on a regular basis, like you take an hour a day to walk or sit or read and just not talk to anyone.

      For me & the hubs getting snappy with each other is that it is a sign we need a date and to leave behind all of the home, work, kid stuff that is stressing us out.

  23. higheredrefugee*

    Frogging usually teaches fiberists something, and in this case, it might be that you don’t love this yarn or need another project for that yarn. Use the advanced filter features on Rav for other crocheted projects with that yarn, and you’ll find another way to use it. I’d also look at projects for the pattern and see what else your liked, and that will give you good alternatives for when you try again.

    Also, one of the best underutilized features of Rav (IMHO) is looking for helpful projects under a pattern. I find answers to how to read a pattern or good suggested yarns that way all the time. If I find a comment helpful, I try to pay it forward by marking it so.

  24. Be the Change*

    Second post but want to share some joy! A friend of mine was widowed a few years back and has just become engaged! I am laughing and crying at the same time with happiness for them.

    1. Pippa K*

      I love it when people talk about being happy for someone else’s happiness! It’s a heartening reminder not just that good things still happen in tough times, but that there are still good people who feel joy at the happiness of others. Sort of a double feel-good moment, if that makes sense. Best wishes to your friend!

  25. Ellyfant*

    Does anyone else relate to feeling guilty about their mental health issues? I have had several depressive episodes this year leading up to a pretty fantastic breakdown in the past month. I have had to stop work and other major responsibilities within my family. My overwhelming emotions right now are guilt and shame. I know this makes no sense but I feel like I should do a better job of hiding my depression so it doesn’t inconvenience other people. I feel like this is a giant flaw and I’m letting others down. Just wondering if others can relate to this and if you had any advice. TIA.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have seen fatigue do a real number on the thinking. This sounds like over thinking due, in part, to fatigue.

      Do you have someone who is helping you sort stuff?

      1. Ellyfant*

        Yes, I have a therapist I’m working with. However I can’t see her immediately so was wondering if anyone else could relate.

    2. BRR*

      I think it’s pretty common and I imagine it’s the depression speaking. But if you had surgery or the flu of course you would have to step back and this is the same.

    3. Been there, done that*

      This is extremely common with depression and is something you should consider talking to your healthcare provider about, because they may be able to suggest ways for you to feel better.

    4. The teapots are on fire*

      It’s super common and I’ve been there.
      You deserve the care. You would never pile the same guilt on your loved ones that you’re piling on yourself right now.

    5. Pennyworth*

      I totally relate. I suffered severe depression during my kids teenage years and was just not emotionally present for them a lot of the time. I bad about it to this day, especially as it significantly affected one of them.

    6. Catherine from Canada*

      Yes. I sobbed to my husband just this afternoon about being a burden.
      Some serious family tensions, plus cash flow issues with my business, plus pandemic isolation (I have a 6 month old granddaughter that I haven’t held yet!), plus the impending doom of SAD, and I just feel like crying all day, or screaming and not being able to stop. I’m in a bad way and I hate feeling like I’m imposing it on everyone around me. It’s a loop….

    7. notMyself*

      Sometimes when I try to explain why I don’t want to take on certain commitments, people who know me and even know about my depression don’t really get it. I try to organize my life so that I can get done the things that really need to get done and skip some stuff if I have to.

      Sorry you’re feeling guilty. Depression is a illness; it’s not your fault.

    8. Emma2*

      Would it be helpful to reframe this in terms of what you would expect from yourself (or others) if this was a physical illness? Depression is a serious illness and can affect your ability to do things just as much as a similarly serious physical illness, but I think we can sometimes (often) allow ourselves more grace when we cannot do things because we are physically ill than because we are depressed. If you are depressed you need time to recover and you will not be at full capacity while you are ill. You should not beat yourself up over that any more than you would if you were dealing with a physical illness.

  26. Anona*

    I’m feeling peace that we’re going to try for a second child soon. It hasn’t always been certain for us, but I’m really feeling peaceful about this decision. If we do have 2 kids, I know it will be a big change, but it feels right.

  27. Natalie*

    Any writing advice?

    I’m looking for an online writing group where I could get feedback from other people. :)

    1. Just a PM*

      NaNoWriMo is coming up. Even if you’re not actually writing a novel for NaNoWriMo, you can still sign up to participate and join their forums. I’ve had lots of great advice from them over the years but it’s been a long time since I participated.

    2. Laura H.*

      Hmm prolly depends on what you’re writing. And the type of feedback you’re wanting.

      With fanfic, it weirdly just kinda happens. I can explain like how my coauthor and I clicked and how we are now but I have no idea where “Hey she liked my stuff I should say thanks” turned into “We have a phrase for a very specific section of fic and this section hasn’t been written yet and the second the phrase gets dropped, we know where we’re plotting for” or how I can talk my AU Mess to her but get stage fright around ANYONE else.

    3. Laura H.*

      Hmm prolly depends on what you’re writing. And the type of feedback you’re wanting.

      With fanfic, it weirdly just kinda happens. I can explain like how my coauthor and I clicked and how we are now but I have no idea where “Hey she liked my stuff I should say thanks” turned into “We have a phrase for a very specific section of fic and this section hasn’t been written yet and the second the phrase gets dropped, we know where we’re plotting for” or how I can talk my AU Mess to her but get stage fright around ANYONE else.

      1. Natalie*

        Fiction, fantasy specifically. :)

        I’m hoping to publish eventually, but I just want a few other people (who aren’t friends or family) to take a look and help me make it better…basically, is it worth taking this to a literary agent or not?
        I’m willing to read other people’s writing and give my feedback too.

        I love reading fanfic, but the story is original.

  28. Llama face!*

    Hi everyone, can you tell me your COVID life coping strategies?
    Recently I hit the wall with going out in public and running into people refusing to wear masks in confined mask-mandatory spaces like public transit or stores. Just last week I had an anxiety attack in the middle of shopping and just about sat down in the store and burst out crying after confronting two maskless people on the bus and then having to be in a busy shopping space where I ran into another one. I’ve been pushing myself to be the one who speaks up in these non-compliance situations (because nobody else is and there are people in my life at high risk) but I have to find other strategies because this is geting too hard mental-health wise. I already plan to look into therapy options to deal with the anxiety but am hoping for other practical things you do to reduce COVID stresses/stressors. Any advice?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Put on your own oxygen mask (so to speak) first. Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, exercise, etc. I hate seeing people not wearing masks too, but I don’t see it as my job to be the mask police, only to do my best for myself and my family.

    2. MissGirl*

      You have no power to police other people. It makes me angry too but I recognize I have no control over them. I think you feel like if you speak up you’re somehow going to fix this but then you realize you can’t and get overwhelmed. Focus on you and your loved ones.

      I have loved ones who are high risk working as cashiers. I sometimes feel terrified with worry but try to focus on what I can do and what I can’t.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I think you need to relieve yourself of the burden of confronting people.

      It’s not going to change their behavior anyway, and it just wears you out.

      Just avoid them and get as far away from them as you can. I have actually seen one or two look briefly embarrassed at being silently treated like a leper.

      Focus on the things you can control: your hygeine, mask & distance practices. Invest in your health generally, with good nutrition, exercise, fresh air & sleep.

      Do something practical and concrete to help others: donate, make stuff, show up.

      1. Llama face!*

        Thanks RagingADHD, I actually did have some success at reminding or confronting people when I first started speaking up but even when it went well it took a toll on me. I didn’t realize how much at first but then a particularly nasty person was verbally and physically intimidating and I started getting a lot of anxiety after that.

        The problem I run into is that these are tight spaces where I can’t get *away* in any meaningful way. There is no room for distancing and for some benighted reason the non-masked people always pick the spot to sit/lurk that’s right by the wheelchair seating at the front or the aisle seat right where everyone has to squeeze by to get out. Never the far corner or window seat (seriously it’s like Murphy’s law for pandemic spreaders; they pick the highest contact seating available). If I could actually avoid them I would gladly do it!

        But I know you have a point; I really can’t stop them so I can’t make the safety of the bus/the store/etc entirely my own responsibility. That’s not a reasonable burden to put on myself either.

        1. Natalie*

          It might help you to know that briefly walking near them as you leave the bus or store is very unlikely to result in transmission. I totally agree it’s super frustrating to see people apparently just not giving a shit, but at least you can have some peace of mind that you can move past them to get out of the area without putting yourself at any particular risk.

          1. Llama face!*

            Thanks, Natalie. I know current guidelines say the walk-by situations on their own are not too risky*. It’s more when I am stuck on the bus for 20-30 min with the maskless people that raises my level of concern. Our transit system here isn’t always that speedy in getting to the destination so it is not uncommon to be on the same crowded bus for longer than the 15 min exposure time.

            *Although I have heard conflicting info about whether exposure can be cumulative- which is disconcerting when I end up with multiple short exposures in a row.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      I assume everyone is covid positive and contagious and that I have to protect me, I cannot make them less contagious.

      If I am going to say something (bc my job is to enforce masks at the library), my go to phrase is, “oh, your nose has come uncovered,” or “oh, your mask has come off.”

      Said in the tone Alison often recommends that implies that of course you will take care of this, I say it in the same tone I would if I were saying, “oh, your penis/breast has come uncovered.”

      1. Llama face!*

        Thanks, Thankful for AAM. When I have said anything I try to do it like that (pleasant friendly reminder or kind heads-up) and often it works. But I find it is still difficult and takes a lot of emotional energy. And the angry jerks are frightening. (I’m sure you have run into one or two by now)

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          I wish I said more clearly that I don’t think you should say something to people but instead treat them like they have COVID and just protect yourself.

          Only say something when you have to bc you are required to interact with someone.

    5. Llama face!*

      Thanks ThatGirl and MissGirl, it is hard for me to see where different kinds of self-care balance. For example, I have few good options for getting groceries & supplies other than public transit (no car, extreme winter weather, and arthritis) so using public transport is part of caring for my own wellbeing. I am already only doing one trip once a week atm. I could try to further limit my trips although- because of storage limitations- I can’t buy large quantities of fresh food & produce so it couldn’t be that infrequent. Fresh food is a major health need for me especially during our long dark winters here. So I’m not just trying to be the mask police for the communal good; I’m trying to protect myself while I meet basic needs. And I know I can’t control everyone else but also just sitting there dumbly while they (potentially) infect me and everyone else on the bus isn’t a tolerable solution either. I’m really feeling at a loss with this.

      1. ThatGirl*

        If you can go off hours that may also help. Are delivery services an option, or do you have a friend who might be able to drop things off? I agree that asking people once, politely, is totally fine. I know this is hard but it’s still best to focus on what you can control.

        1. Llama face!*

          Thanks, ThatGirl. I appreciate your replies. I have been trying to go in less busy times for the stores although the buses are always a crapshoot. Re your other suggestions- It is statistically unlikely I know but I seem to have ended up with an especially vulnerable circle of friends, family, and acquaintances so I have nobody who I’d be comfortable asking to do my shopping. The delivery system here is pretty terrible unless you are buying only canned/shelf stable goods. They send actually rotting produce and expired milk products. :( So I do have to drag myself to the store in-person every little while.

      2. Courageous cat*

        I think you need to let the fact that you can’t control anyone really sink in, though. You’re not sitting there dumbly – you’re accepting that you cannot physically change other people’s minds. There isn’t really another option other than continue to let the responsibility of telling them weigh on you for no helpful reason.

        I would love for everyone to wear a mask 100% of the time, but it’s not illegal not to where I live, and thus there is literally nothing I can do. Attempting to take control of things I *can* control and letting go of the things I can’t is what makes a difference for me.

        1. Llama face!*

          Thanks, Courageous cat. As I think you’ve gathered, I am struggling with where my responsibility/ability ends in these situations. I do need to focus on what I can do for myself and watch out that I’m not trying to (figuratively) shovel water uphill.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Llama, I think it’s wise to take a cue from retailers. Here, retailers have (AGAIN) stopped addressing these maskless wonders because it is too much of a fight and too much of an effort. They can’t police the mask compliance and have enough time/energy/brain space left to do their jobs.

      And you can see why they concluded that from your own experience here.

      It’s like everything else, we can’t fix a whole bunch of stuff that is wrong in this world. But we can role model proper behavior and carry that silent expectation that others do the same. I have been to a few lawn sales. I pull up in front of the house and pop my mask on. I get out of my car with a determined look that others will just do the same. And sure enough, I see other people watching me and they too pull their masks up.
      This is about as good as good gets. But I tend to think of it as helping to “create a culture of caution”. We can each do our own small part in that creation.

      If it is giving you anxiety attacks, please put extra into your own self care. Do not let yourself wear down. Do what you have to do to lower your risk of having attacks.

      1. Llama face!*

        Thanks, Not So New Reader. Honestly around here nobody has ever enforced mask use in mandatory spaces except for the library (yay awesome library people!). Our Chief Medical Health Officer thinks periodically reminding people nicely on videos should be enough. *giant eyeroll* Meanwhile we are now at our highest active case numbers since the start of the pandemic specifically because of people going into public places while infectious or holding no-distance no-mask large private gatherings. Admittedly our highest is still comparatively low so far but it’s a bad trend. :( So even though mask use has increased a lot- and it definitely has improved since early summer- it feels like the ones who don’t comply are even bigger threats than before and becoming more agressive about it. (Actally writing that last sentence makes me think my perception of risk and actual risk may not be 100% concurrent atm which is something I will likely need to work on therapy-wise).

    7. Morning reader*

      I have ordered some N95 equivalent masks to wear when I have to go out. The regular masks are supposed to be effective by protecting other people from your droplets. I want something to protect me from other’s droplets. Also I don’t recommend speaking up to the maskless unless it is your job. They have drunk the koolaid. (In the beginning, we were discouraged from using N95s because there was a shortage. By now, I don’t see why we can’t all have them. I do notice some bizarre political ads mentioning “buy American” for ppe but I can’t find any American made to buy.)

      1. ThatGirl*

        Well, N95 masks need to be fitted to work at their best. And cloth/paper masks do actually show protection from others’ droplets, even if it’s not up to N95 standards.

      2. Llama face!*

        Thanks, Morning Reader. I wish I had access to better PPE but around here they are still insisting we save it for the hospital folks. And I have also heard (as ThatGirl mentions) that the N95s need to be properly fitted or they may not work effectively. What I might do is add a face shield on top of the cloth mask. At least that would be a slight bit more of a barrier between the maskless germ spreaders and me (though I know neither option is very effective at self-protection).

    8. Choggy*

      The only way I have found to lessen my anxiety about being in public places (food shopping) is by going off-hours. I just came back from shopping and it was such a pleasant experience because I went early, on a Sunday. I also don’t police others but just move away from them if possible, or really, don’t worry about them at all because you have to be in the same space as them for awhile and interacting with an infected person. Just wear your mask, make sure to use sanitizer while you are out and about, wash your hands when you get home, and you’ll be all set. Having an anxiety attack is preventable if you can let go of the stress of being in public spaces with others who don’t/won’t wear a mask. You have to get used to the idea they are out there, and will always be, and focus on you. You aren’t alone in your anxiety about this, so I hope you can take some comfort in that. My husband is an RN, who has to wear a mask pretty much all day long in a chronic care type hospital so the patients don’t leave and don’t have visitors. My husband has been getting more anxious about his coworkers not wearing a mask, or wearing them incorrectly and he *hates* that he has to say something but he does. Thankfully, there have not been any reported Covid cases in his building but they still have to remain vigilant. He’s retiring in early 2022, and we both cannot wait!

      1. Llama face!*

        Thanks Choggy, I have coworkers like your husband (though I don’t work in medicine) so I know that feeling too. And some of the regular offenders are the bosses which just makes it extra fun. Sending commiseration his way!

        1. Llama face!*

          That should say, “I have coworkers just like your husband’s coworkers” ie. inconsistent mask wearers. I didn’t mean that my coworkers are like your husband- which would be a good thing.

    9. Lora*

      Well…I mostly just avoid going out as much as humanly possible.

      I leave the house no more than once or twice a week, usually just to take out the trash. I get nearly everything delivered. If it can’t be delivered, I get curbside pickup and have an employee bring it out to my car. Last week had to make an actual in-person shopping trip: I got it over with by going to every store I could think of during off-hours that I’d ever want stuff from, and buying enough to last several months. I put up Ikea shelves in the basement to hold everything.

      I’m high risk. I’m also an actual scientist-bioengineer type person with a pile of education in, and employment history, working with pathogens and developing vaccines and treatments. And no, I do not think this is excessive, a TON of public health messaging around contagious diseases is specifically worded to avoid people panicking. And I think the lockdowns in spring were woefully mis-handled, and enforcement is now wholly lacking and people will die because of it, and the economy will drag along in a ditch with the half-arsed not really open not really closed situation for years.

      If store owners are tired of enforcing mask wearing, that’s fine, I am tired of going to their store in person. Making their store welcoming and easy and safe for customers is just as important for me as it is for anyone else – I’m a customer too. I wouldn’t go to a store that allowed other customers to harass or grope me, I wouldn’t go to a store that allowed other customers to steal money out of my purse every time I walked through the door, I wouldn’t go to a store that allowed other customers to pee in the aisles and smear their feces on the products. If the store is unwilling to deal with that, OK, I will vote with my wallet. If I saw a customer with his pants off pooping in the middle of the store, I would not take it upon myself to wipe the guy’s butt for him and get a bucket and mop – that’s not my job. All I need to do is alert an employee to deal with it, and if they don’t want to deal with it, hey, I can walk out of the store. A lot of stores are refusing to cope – fine, more money for Jeff Bezos and Peapod or whatever delivery service your local grocery chain offers.

      Does it suck to have to have bouncers / security, if you are a retailer who never had this problem before? Sure, and I bet it’s not cheap and it’s eating your already-thin margins. But this is now the world we live in.

      1. Yup*

        +1,000,000 to all of this. Shocking how cavalier people became when they realized their gratification otherwise may be delayed for more than 5 minutes

      2. Yup*

        +1,000,000 to all of this. Shocking how cavalier people became when they realized their gratification otherwise may be delayed for more than 5 minutes

      3. Yup*

        +1,000,000 to all of this. Shocking how cavalier people became when they realized their gratification otherwise may be delayed for more than 5 minutes

      4. Yup*

        +1,000,000 to all of this. Shocking how cavalier people became when they realized their gratification otherwise may be delayed for more than 5 minutes

      5. Llama face!*

        Thanks, Lora. I don’t often miss having a car but this pandemic is the exception. No grocery stores around here will do curbside pickup unless you have a private vehicle (can’t even do it with a taxi) and it is frustrating. Add terrible delivery service for any kind of fresh or delicate grocery items and the no-mask no-distancers in the bus and stores and it gets really difficult to obtain food in a low exposure way. I’ve turned into a terrible hoarder for anything shelf stable so I can avoid store trips as much as I can.

          1. Llama face!*

            Thanks for those suggestions, Con. I’m afraid I don’t live in the US and it looks like these are all only able to deliver to the States. But that does give me the idea of checking for any Canadian equivalents available here. :)

    10. germank106*

      My husband is severely immuno compromised, so I have to have good strategies in place to not expose him. I changed how and when I shop. Instead of tackling shopping in the middle of the day I now go very late at night or super early in the morning. I buy in bulk whenever possible, so I don’t have to go out as often. I do confront people that don’t wear a mask or don’t wear it correctly by explaining that they don’t just expose me or themselves and their families, but also the elderly and people that are already suffering. I try to do this nicely, but sometimes the bitch comes out and I get quite rude. I have no problem going to a store manager and letting him know that employees don’t wear a mask correctly and then waiting for him to take action.
      I’ve been staying at home for more than a year now, because my husbands health does not allow us to go out much and I can’t leave him alone for more than an hour or so. That makes me treasure my time. When his Nurse is here I usually go for a walk or just sit on the Porch with a cup of coffee and some knitting. I’ve also been re-reading favorite books and writing a sort of family history for my children and grandchildren. Both writing and knitting focus my energy and keep my anxiety low. We have regular zoom meetings with some family members but I’ve also started a round-robin e-mail. I write what’s been going on during the week for me, then send it off to another family member, they add their thoughts and send it off to the next family member, etc. By the time everyone has added their weekly info, I’m often laughing hilariously and realize that life is not so bad after all.

      1. Llama face!*

        Thanks, germank106. It sounds like you have been dealing with even more challenges than a lot of us and for a longer time. I appreciate your hard-won insights! I like your ideas for fun, calm, and relational activities to do and might have to try something like the round robin with a few people. I wish I had more tolerance for dealing with maskless wonders but I think that pusing myself so hard is just messing up my mental health. I actually also have SAD so this time of year is already rough going in a normal year, nevermind all the 2020 extras. I hope you and your husband have some good peaceful moments this fall season.

    11. Jackalope*

      Others have addressed the issue of dealing with the maskless, so I’ll talk about other things. I’ve found it very helpful to have things I do for fun and can hold on to even right now. Things like a Zoom game night, walk in the park (I go at a time that’s really early so I’ve got it almost all to myself), reading, whatever…. We’ve lost so much this year that I try to make sure I have something every week to look forward to. I don’t know what might work for you but making sure to have stuff that can make life better is important.

      1. Llama face!*

        Thanks, Jackalope. That is a good reminder! I used to do that (planning for regular fun/anticipatory things) in the past but I got out of the habit. It would be good for me to start it up again.

  29. Casey*

    Okay, I’m on a little bit of a romance book kick recently. I think it distracts from my current isolation — I’m supposed to be in my last year of college in The Big City, flirting my way through the streets (not really. I’m a big dork.) but instead I’m back at home with my family in the middle of nowhere, spending all day every day working on homework or looking for a job. So reading cute stories about people falling in love has been delightful. Buuuut I kind of hate bodice-ripper style books? There’s usually some kind of weird unhealthy relationship dynamic that makes me really uncomfortable and takes me right out of it. In the last week, I’ve read Beach Read by Emily Henry and The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, and enjoyed both! Anyone have a recommendation for a modern romance novel that doesn’t elicit a “oh my god this is not okay” reaction?

    1. Just a PM*

      My go-to for modern romance is Meg Cabot. Right now, I’m reading her newest book, No Offense, and it’s definitely a delightful break from all the heady stuff going on the world right now. Cabot has a several adult modern romance series that might fit your bill: The Boy Meets Girl series, the Little Bridge Island series (of which No Offense is #2), and the Heather Wells series might be a place to start. (She also has a fourth series called Queen of Babble, which I’m not a fan of and couldn’t get into like the others.)

      My absolute favorite Meg Cabot is “She Went All The Way,” a standalone “boy and girl don’t like each other but get stranded in the wilderness together and need to survive” romance novel. My guilty pleasure romance is “What I Did for Love” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. It turns the bad boy trope on its head a little (and might be an ironic read for these times, now that I think about it, because the characters have to quarantine/shelter in place together in part of the book).

      1. Julia*

        I like Meg Cabot, but can only read her one book at a time, so if you have a limit for quirky heroines, pace yourself.
        I was surprised to like Sophie Kinsella’s Undomestic Goddess, which I bought used for a train ride.

    2. MissGirl*

      I’m going to do some self promotion. If you want to read it great, if not no worries. Monday launches my romance. It’s in Amazon under Sunsets and Stables. It’s book four of a clean romance series I’m doing with several other authors. Each book is a standalone.

    3. cat*

      I recently read Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho and really enjoyed it.

      Courtney Milan write romances that are really strong on consent. I’ve only read her historical romances but she writes modern ones too.

      1. Jen Erik*

        I think Courtney Milan’s modern romances are even better. The series starts with ‘Trade Me’ and isn’t finished, but there aren’t any cliffhanger endings.

    4. Stormfeather*

      I’ll admit, what straight-up romance I do read and have enjoyed is from Georgette Heyer, although not huge amounts of those (and if there are recs for good ones, by all means go for it). Those are not modern by any means, and they have some outdated not-great things in some, but overall I’ve enjoyed them and they don’t feel very bodice-rippery.

      As far as modern stuff, I’m a big fan of the paranormal romance/urban supernatural stuff, which can vary anywhere from “a thin supernatural veneer over porn” to “plays generally coy with the S-E-X stuff and focuses more on the romance.” (Although I’ll also note that even the latter tend to get a little more adventurous as they go on… not sure if it’s due to the authors getting more familiar with the characters or just editors/publishers/what have you wanting something that titillates more in order to sell more books).

      Anyhow some of the better stuff in the latter that I’ve enjoyed has been the Mercy Thompson books (although those also have… some triggery stuff in), and the October Daye books. But if you’re not into fantasy type stuff at all, that’s probably a non-starter.

      1. Curly sue*

        It’s important to note that the “not-great” things in Heyer’s books include overt and plot-related antisemitism, ‘The Grand Sophy’ in particular. (Which she wrote c. 1950, iirc, so it’s not a case of ‘not knowing any better.’) There are many, many better regency romance writers who don’t include that kind of hate.

      2. Curly sue*

        It’s important to note that the “not-great” things in Heyer’s books include overt and plot-related antisemitism, ‘The Grand Sophy’ in particular. (Which she wrote c. 1950, iirc, so it’s not a case of ‘not knowing any better.’) There are many, many better regency romance writers who don’t include that kind of hate.

        1. curly sue*

          Whoops! Sorry for the multiple posts – I got a bunch of timeout errors when I tried to post and didn’t realize anything had gone through.

          I’d like to add that Tessa Dare’s regency romcoms are adorable and have vibrant heroines, and Beverly Jenkins writes phenomenal historicals in a few eras.

      3. curly sue*

        As an important note, the “not-great” things in them include overt and plot-related antisemitism, especially in “The Grand Sophy.” I read that book not knowing what was coming, and it felt like a visceral punch to the chest to realize how much she hated us. (And she wrote that book ~ 1950, iirc, so it wasn’t a case of outdated ‘just didn’t know’ cultural bias.) There are many better regency romance authors out there. Tessa Dare’s regencies are silly rom-coms with lots of vibrant heroines, and Beverly Jenkins’ books are incredibly well-written historicals.

      4. curly sue*

        As an important note, the “not-great” things in Heyer include overt and plot-related antisemitism, especially in “The Grand Sophy.” I read that book not knowing what was coming, and it felt like a visceral punch to the chest to realize how much she hated us. (And she wrote that book ~ 1950, iirc, so it wasn’t a case of outdated ‘just didn’t know’ cultural bias.) There are many better regency romance authors out there. Tessa Dare’s regencies are silly rom-coms with lots of vibrant heroines, and Beverly Jenkins writes incredible historicals.

      5. Melody Pond*

        Okay, I have to stop by and say thank you for mentioning the Mercy Thompson books. I read your comment late, late last night, read the free preview of Moon Called, and it was SO much more my taste than the other paranormal book I’d been trying to get into, all day (The Once and Future Witches). I bought Moon Called before going to sleep last night, and I’m now starting chapter 5. Think this is what I’m doing the rest of today. XD

        So I guess I’ll also need to add the October Daye series to my list to check out, after this. Any other great fantasy/supernatural recommendations? :)

        1. Not Lorelei*

          Try Faith Hunter – her Jane Yellowrock series is good, as well as her other series. The Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson) is also good. I actual reread all the Mercy Thompson books during this pandemic, so I envy you getting to read it fresh!

        2. cat*

          These are all series starters, some more romancy than others, but all paranormal. I’ve read all these and liked them:

          Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
          Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews
          On the Edge by Ilona Andews
          Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs
          Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn
          Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy
          Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
          Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
          Storm Front by Jim Butcher
          Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
          Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris
          Charming by Elliott James

          These other authors that I haven’t read but who write the same type of thing:
          Jeaniene Frost, Nalini Singh, Kim Harrison, Cat Adams, Kate Griffin

          I would avoid Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series though, it got weird fast.

    5. Jackalope*

      How important is it that the books be just romance? I ask because I enjoy Sharon Shinn who writes fantasy romance. Her series The Twelve Houses is good for that and the Elemental Blessings series. (I would stay away from the Samaria series which while it still generally has consent and such, involves power dynamics that are off-balance enough that I felt like members of one of the groups didn’t have the ability to meaningfully say no). She also has some good stand-alones but I’d start with those series first. Note that for both series it is important to read the books in order unless you are okay with major spoilers.

      1. Jackalope*

        “Just romance” as opposed to romance combined with another genre, I meant; realized that might not be clear.

    6. Ginger ale for all*

      I recently won two Katherine Center books in a contest. She writes well. How to Walk Away and a tie in book, Things You Save in a Fire, are both great romance/finding yourself books.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have been re-reading early Elizabeth Chadwick novels which are set in the early medieval period. (Post William the Conquerer, but before War of the Roses) Her later books are historical fiction, however the early ones have a more romantic focus. I especially like The Falcons of Montabard.

    7. aarti*

      Alisa Rai has some great books. Some are definately more on the steamy side, but still lots of consent. And her two recent ones “The Right Swipe” and “Girl Gone Viral” are sweet romance stories!

    8. Masked Bandit*

      I’m in a similar life situation and have been reading a lot too! I really enjoyed Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan’s The Royal We and The Heir Affair, which are a little more like movie rom-coms in book form. Same with Linda Holmes’s Evvie Drake Starts Over. I’m also a life-long Phillippa Gregory fan—her books about historical queens and ladies are romantic but not bodic-ripper-y. Start with The Other Boleyn Girl or The White Queen.

    9. Anon5775*

      You might like JoJo Moyes books, “The bookish life of Nina Hill” by Abbi Waxman, “Waiting for Tom Hanks” by Kerry Winfrey, “The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang, “Red, White and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston.

    10. Cleo*

      Ooh, long time romance fan here. I have lots of recs for romances with good consent and non-icky dynamics.

      Alyssa Cole writes both contemporaries and historicals with good consent. I really enjoyed Rebekah Weatherspoon’s Xeni and Talia Hibbert’s Take a Clue, Dani Brown (although I don’t recommend reading them the same week the way I did – they’re very different books but the heroines are superficially similar enough that I wished I’d read them more spaced apart). I also enjoyed Ice Cream Lover by Jackie Lau – set in Toronto.

      I’ve enjoyed the two #RomanceClass romances I’ve read – they’re romances set in the Philippines by Filipina authors. Unusual to me settings and good, healthy dynamics between the protagonists.

      I mostly read queer romances these days. In that sub genre, I recommend Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material – it’s like a gay Hugh Grant rom com, but with a little more snark and a not completely white supporting cast.

      Olivia Waite has two wonderful historical f/f romances set in the Regency period – The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows is the 2nd and I’m blanking on the 1st. They’re pretty stand alone.

      Love Study by Kris Ripper is a cute romance between two awkward queer 20 somethings – but read the sample because if the narrator doesn’t work for you, the book will be really, really annoying.

      For more recommendations, try the romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Lots of reviews, lots of opinions about the importance of consent.

    11. violet04*

      Agree with the Jasmine Guillory recommendations. I just finished reading Part of Two. 28 Summers from Elin Hilderbrand had some romance aspects, but the plot was more about a long term relationship.

    12. Just S*

      I recommend The Ladies of Missalongi by Colleen McCullough, very short book. And Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler, made me wish to have someone to mumble mumble with – it makes sense if you read the book.

    13. LPUK*

      may be too late with this one but Jennifer(jenny) Crusie is great and very funny (read Manhunting or Bet me as my favourites) also Susan Elizabeth Phillips. For historical romance, Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton novels are lighthearted and have quite a modern feel (the women aren’t pushovers)

    14. Jaded Millenial*

      Cynthia Diamond writes paranormal romance; one of her taglines is “consent is sexy.” She’s very body positive too. I’ve never been big into conventional romance, but after reading one last year, Diamond’s books feel like a breath of fresh air.

  30. 00ff00Claire*

    Washer / Dryer recommendations – does anyone have any? We have been musing which major appliance to replace first since they are all starting to age, and the dryer decided for us by going out in the middle of a load. We will just replace the older, very basic pair but there are almost too many options with the new models. We are leaning towards a top loading HE model because of the potential mold problems with front loaders but are not completely set on that type. It would be nice to be able to wash bulky items like comforters and our current top loader with an agitator isn’t up to those kinds of jobs. Do you have a newer washer and/or dryer with any specific features that you especially like? Does it have anything that you find you wouldn’t want to do without?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Ours are about 8 years old at the point but we have matching LG top load HE and gas dryer and they’ve worked very well. I like not having an agitator. The dryer has a sensor that doesn’t let things get over dry.

      1. 00ff00Claire*

        Thanks! I have looked at several LG top loaders and they are highly rated by Consumer Reports, so some LG models are on the short list so far.

    2. BRR*

      I recently bought a new set of lg with the top loader 5.5 cb ft washer and am very happy. I went with a top loader primarily because I’m tall and have a bad back but also a little worried about the mildew issue. I like that they care smart appliances and I get notifications when a load is done because they’re in the basement and I would forget about them. I like that they also show how much time is remaining.

      1. 00ff00Claire*

        Thanks for the input! As far as all the new features go, notifications on my phone might be the most useful to me because I also tend to forget about loads when it’s my turn to handle the laundry.

    3. Elf*

      I have this one and love it https://www.lowes.com/pd/GE-4-5-cu-ft-High-Efficiency-Top-Load-Washer-White/1000757220 and the slightly cheaper model without the soak and second rinse options might be good too.

      It can wash a king size comforter, and what’s really great is that you have full control over the water level. HE machines are awful at actually getting clothes clean a lot of the time (and I know laundry, I’ve spent most of the last five years washing cloth diapers).

      1. 00ff00Claire*

        Thanks! So far LG and GE have made the short list. I like the soak and second rinse options – we actually do both but right now we have to do them the old-fashioned way – by leaving the lid open [no kids or pets to fall in in our case] or by restarting the finished load at rinse.

    4. Ginger ale for all*

      Consumer Reports reviews these on the regular. Go to your local public library and look up the reviews in their old issues.

      1. Ginger ale for all*

        I do have one thing to recommend, those stands to put the washer and dryer on. My folks have them and they are fantastic. Go to the store and pretend to load and empty laundry in a set with them and then on a set without to see if they are for you.

        1. 00ff00Claire*

          Thanks for the comments! I hadn’t considered that we might need stands so thanks for pointing that out. Now that I’ve read more about them, it seems the front loaders are a literal pain without them. I’m not sure we could actually put the stands in our laundry room, so that may be another reason a top loader will work better for us.

    5. ShinyPenny*

      I think it depends on how dirty the clothes are that you need to wash. I’ve heard it described as the “city dirt” or “country dirt” question.
      Modern front loaders are great for “city dirt” and saving water, but I don’t know anyone who says they are great at cleaning actual dirt off clothes.

      I have an old top-loader because our dog towels/beds/blankets get truly caked with (acres of) real actual ground-in dirt. I’ve got a dog that really loves his dirt pit!
      Also, he is a very hairy beast. I have heard that front load machines don’t compare well in the “pet hair removal” catagory, if that matters to you. I like that I can stop my washer at any point, and use a dedicated kittylitter scoop to scoop out all the dog hair floating on top of the water, lol. Yes, I do shake them all first, but… Hairy Beast.

      The secret knowledge I learned last time I had to replace a dead washer, is that certain older top-loaders have a sacrificial “fuse” (can’t remember the real term) that’s relatively cheap and easy to replace. It’s made to break BEFORE the motor burns out.
      I looked at what my local used-appliance place had in stock, and then called my repair guy and asked which washer was easiest and cheapest to repair. Ended up with a Kirkland brand, which has worked out well for us.

      I did know some people that had to do a lot of extra wrangling to fix the mold contamination problem with their front loader, but hopefully that’s been addressed by now? Or there’s more general knowledge now about all the steps to take to avoid that problem?

      Good luck with your shopping! I hate having to deal with broken appliances.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I was just talking with an appliance service person regarding my stove. He tossed out a piece of advice that I think works across the board. He said to get the simpler and cheaper models of stoves. And the reason is that he is seeing all kinds of technology problems with the fancier models.

      I bought a very cheap washer that had a good record out in the real world. It’s now over 12 years old and I have not had a single problem with it. Ditto for my dryer, it’s not loaded with bells and whistles but it too has performed without an issue for over a decade.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I was just talking with an appliance service person regarding my stove. He tossed out a piece of advice that I think works across the board. He said to get the simpler and cheaper models of stoves. And the reason is that he is seeing all kinds of technology problems with the fancier models.

      I bought a very cheap washer that had a good record out in the real world. It’s now over 12 years old and I have not had a single problem with it. Ditto for my dryer, it’s not loaded with bells and whistles but it too has performed without an issue for over a decade.

    8. Fellow Traveler*

      I haven’t had to replace my washer recently, but I had one repaired lately and asked the Service tech what brands of appliance he recommends these days. He said that from a repair standpoint he usually recommends staying away from LG and Samsung because when they break the replacement parts tend to be of pretty low quality. Another feature he recommends for washers is that you get one which has a front panel made up of more than one piece. Reason being that it is easier and faster to take apart and will save money and this time when it needs to be repaired.
      I really want to look into a Speed Queen when I need a new washer- they are really expensive, but last forever; they make the machines in many laundromats.

    9. Owler*

      My advice is don’t get your heart set on something if you have a focused timeline. Supplies are really low for new machines and replacement parts of all sorts of appliances, including fridges, freezers, and washers and dryers. You might start with looking at what’s available and work backwards from that.

      I have a 15 year old front loader (so a model from the early production of front loader styles in US) that is still working great. I don’t let wet clothing sit super long in it (if I wash a load before bedtime, I’ll try to move in the dryer first thing in the morning), but that is my only concession to the concerns about mold or smells from the front loaders.

    10. Call me St. Vincent*

      We got the set of new GE front loaders in July and we absolutely love them!!! Highly recommend.

    11. AutolycusinExile*

      I’m going to have to agree with Not So NewReader – avoid high-tech appliances unless there’s a specific accessibility or sanitation feature you actually need or you have some money to burn. I work customer service for a very high-end appliance company that also does washing machines and dryers, and I’d say at *least* 50% of the failures I see on any appliance these days are from the electronic control board. This is especially true for the dishwashers and washing machines – water plus a computer is never a fantastic combination. If/when something breaks, it tends to be cheaper to fix a mechanical issue that a technical one – way cheaper to replace a belt or a knob than a proprietary control panel or touchscreen display, and the easier it is to service the machine the longer it’ll probably last you.

      I would agree with you that a top loader is a good option – avoiding mold issues, yes, but also for similar in-case-it-breaks reasons: if there’s a drainage failure you can unlock the door and get your stuff out without flooding your laundry room, and then deal with the draining issue later. Front loaders generally can’t get the clothes out until after you’ve resolved the problem so if the machine needs service and no one can come out for a while, your clothes will just… soak. For days. It’s not ideal.
      For some people the aesthetics of front-loading both washer and dryer outweigh this, and I can definitely imagine it’s nice to have a counter going over both units if you’re remodeling your laundry room, but for me personally I find top loaders to just be less stressful over the long run.

      Unfortunately I haven’t bought a washer recently (yay apartment living) so I can’t recommend a specific model, but I know my parents have a pretty old top loader with agitator that can handle twin-size comforters just fine, so I’d imagine that there should be some good options out there. I would actually recommend shopping for an appliance *dealer* more than for a particular model – dedicated appliance stores will have way more advice and recommendations that a box store, and independent stores generally more so than a chain. If you can buy your appliances from a reputable local store and it doesn’t do what you need it do, they’ll often be able to work with you to return or exchange it if it isn’t actually doing what you wanted, whereas a big box store is less likely to work with you personally. Ask about their return/exchange policies up front!

      My last recommendation is, if you’re buying new, check into the warranty terms and see if they’re actually useful for you. How long is the warranty – and more importantly, which service companies do you have to use and is there one in your area? Also, don’t tell my employer I said this, but it’s often NOT worth paying $3000+ for a high-end machine with a nice long warranty when you can just replace a $1000 model when it breaks for a noticeably lower total price. With the expensive units you will usually get nice customer service and they’ll make things easy for you as they resolve the issue, but you’re paying for it up front – only you can say whether that tradeoff is worth it for you financially.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OP, Auto has a fantastic answer right here.
        My husband serviced office equipment for years. He came to the conclusion across the board, that when picking an item– be it a car, an appliance, etc– it is best to make one’s top consideration to be who will service the thing when it breaks.

        Good luck in your hunt, OP.

  31. My Brain Is Exploding*

    We have a Maytag Centennial HE top loader. The only thing I don’t like about it is that there is no “soak” cycle. Maybe no top loader HEs have one. We got it at Lowe’s and the salesperson said the Maytag rep liked it the best even though it was not – by any means – their most expensive washer. (Still have our old dryer.) Good luck. I hate appliance shopping!!

  32. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    What are some little ways you’ve suddenly realized you’re weird? Like last week’s aphantasia thread, but less life altering.

    I didn’t realize I have really high arches until a year or two ago. I thought I had pretty average shaped feet. Turns out, most people can’t shine a light under their feet and have it show through. I was rather bemused, both by how far on the edge of the bell curve my feet are, and also by how I never even noticed.

    1. Amy*

      Realizing that I enjoy ASMR! As a child I definitely experienced the ASMR sensation when listening to certain people talk but I never had a name for it, and never mentioned it to anyone. A few years ago I decided to Google it and discovered that not only is it a real thing, there is a whole YouTube community dedicated to relaxing ASMR videos. Since then it has become a huge part of my self-care to listen to an ASMR video before bedtime. However, when I’ve told other people in my family and group of friends about it, no one has ever experienced or heard of ASMR and some of them think it’s super weird. But my husband wishes he had it!

      1. GoryDetails*

        I was so intrigued when I first found out that ASMR was a thing! I don’t respond well to all the different variations, but I’m very fond of the sound/sensation of scissors snipping hair near my ears – used to get all tingly during haircuts, without realizing it was a specific response and not one that everyone senses. [I used to get impatient with chatty hair salon staff because the talk interfered with my enjoyment of zoning out over the snip-snip.]

    2. Anonbeth*

      I have a torus palatinus, which is a round bone protruding from the roof of my mouth. I thought that’s just what mouths were like. When my friends got retainers after braces I was very confused about how they would fit on the roof of their mouth (“doesn’t it need to curve back down?”) and whenever someone said to place your tongue flat on the roof of your mouth I was like “but not flat-flat, obviously.” Yes flat-flat, it turns out. A dental hygienist finally referenced the torus, a few years ago, while she was taking x-rays. Now my tongue feels claustrophobic if I think about it too much!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same – apparently mine is pronounced enough that regular top arch dentures aren’t a viable option for me. (The torus palatinus prevents them from forming the proper seal to the roof of the mouth, like you noted with the retainers, and I’m allergic to the adhesive options.) So I had to save up for a couple years to get implants. My mom has one as well.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        Oh! That’s not normal?

        For what it’s worth, my retainers just curve around the torus. Fits just fine for me.

        1. Anonbeth*

          It’s not UNcommon, I saw a stat that 20-30% of people have one. My retainer has a cutout for it. Mine’s fairly pronounced so I wonder if I’ll have the same denture issue as Red, when I get there.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            It’s partly specific to positioning too – mine is also far enough forward in my mouth that by the time they trimmed the plate to accommodate, it physically couldn’t create the necessary seal to hold in place. The adhesive would have done the trick though, if I wasn’t allergic to it. Perfect storm :)

    3. Helvetica*

      Physical – I can cross my littlest toe over the next toe and my big toe over the next one and pretty much wiggle them around a lot. I thought everyone could do that but I’ve learned that a lot of people can’t really control their toes in that way. I can do the same with my fingers, which I think is also not very common.
      I also sleep on my back, hands laying on my stomach. I know people think this is insane but this really is the most comfortable position for me. I cannot get comfortable on my side because the hand that is under me always gets in the way.

      1. Tamer of dragonflies*

        Oh wow,I can do that with my toes too! Can you pick up things with them? And does if freak folks out when you do? Ive playfully pinched my spouse with my “monkey toes” as my spouse calls them.Got kicked for that one.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I like to hand things to my dad using my feet to freak him out. He also calls them monkey toes!

    4. Tamer of dragonflies*

      I figured out when I was younger that I seem to be naturally more physically flexable than most folks.Never tried yoga or any other exercizes to be limber. I can turn both legs around backwards while standing, fold myself in half,and but both feet behind my head. I can also move the first joint of my thumbs backwards 90 degrees but only 45 degrees forward. Is that weird enough?

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My pinky toes are sideways – like, when I put my feet flat on the floor, both pinky toe nails point straight out to the sides.

      You know the hitchhikers thumb thing people learn about in the basic genetics bit of a science class, along with widows peaks and dimpled chins and attached earlobes? I have one hitchhikers thumb and one normal thumb.

      I once got a skin infection of the pinky finger that was cultured to be the same bacteria that causes diphtheria, so I tell people that I had diphtheria of the pinky finger. (It was pretty much nothing though, abx cleared it right up.)

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My pinky toes are sideways – like, when I put my feet flat on the floor, both pinky toe nails point straight out to the sides.

      You know the hitchhikers thumb thing people learn about in the basic genetics bit of a science class, along with widows peaks and dimpled chins and attached earlobes? I have one hitchhikers thumb and one normal thumb.

      I once got a skin infection of the pinky finger that was cultured to be the same bacteria that causes diphtheria, so I tell people that I had diphtheria of the pinky finger. (It was pretty much nothing though, abx cleared it right up.)

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My pinky toes are turned sideways, like the nails are on the outsides rather than on the top, and I have one hitchhikers thumb and one normal one.

    8. Workerbee*

      I’ve read that a “true test of an aristocrat” is if a stream of water can run beneath the arches of their feet!

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Put a flashlight on a hard floor shining under your foot from the inside. Or you can stand in a patch of sun in the early morning, but that’s much harder to organize.

    9. Lyudie*

      I’ve realized recently that I have tinnitus and have had it off and on all my life, pretty much (is intermittent tinnitus a thing?). You always hear it described as a ringing so I never connected it with the static/buzz I hear sometimes (though it’s been nearly constant the last several months, apparently stress can make it worse). I recently did a little Googling on it and it sounds like that’s what I have, go figure.

      Also, I have been taking antidepressants for years now and get the “brain zaps” that a lot of people do if I don’t take it…but I had that my whole life prior to getting on the meds. I don’t know how common that is…doesn’t seem to be too common but not unheard of.

      Oh! And my sinuses are too low, which is probably the cause of all my sinus headaches and various issues. Apparently they can sometimes show up on dental x-rays, which generally does not happen :-p but explains why my teeth hurt when they are being a pain sometimes.

      1. WS*

        My sinuses are the same and I’ve always had problems with them. When I had my upper wisdom teeth out (aged 42) one of them was protruding into a sinus, which ended up giving me a spectacularly gross fountain of old blood and mucus as a nosebleed a few days later. It meant nothing medically but it was certainly surprising! So if you get an upper tooth out, be prepared!

        1. Lyudie*

          YE GODS thanks for the warning lol. I had one of my wisdom teeth out a few years ago and didn’t have any issues, luckily. That sounds horrifying D:

      2. allathian*

        I have brain zaps, and I’m not on antidepressants. I’ve had them occasionally all my life.

    10. KoiFeeder*

      I have central heterochromia (ring around the eyes on both eyes). It’s a family trait, textbook dominant inheritance, dark ring on light background- very likely the most common gene that causes central heterochromia.

      No one ever remarked on it until the girl in my coding class asked me where I got my contacts- turns out my variant is also a very popular “color” of color-changing contacts! I still think the real version looks better than the contacts, but I’m probably being arrogant.

  33. Meenyo*

    Looking for suggestions of YouTube options for exercise videos. I’m two months postpartum and would like to add some more exercise to my days (I do a lot of walking but no other exercise at present)
    I’d love options that maybe include the baby and options that involve super easy dancing as I love to dance but am a total clutz. TIA

    1. Frann*

      I like fitness blender. While pregnant I did a lot of prenatal videos by Fit By Larie. They are free on youtube and has a lot of postpartum videos too.

      1. violet04*

        Thirding Fitness Blender. They have a wide variety of videos for all exercise levels.

        I think I’ve seen some dance-style videos on PopSugar fitness.

    2. Zee*

      Not exactly what you asked for as they’re not free but I am really liking the Mommastrong programme (I’m in the antenatal phase) which focuses on functional strength and on the ways that childbirth and caring for children can stress your body. The core of the programme is 15 minute daily workouts. One thing I like is that the programme leader Courtney often films the workouts with her baby sitting close by, and sometimes will modify things to talk to baby / breastfeed / whatever. It makes exercising with a baby seem much more feasible!

    3. comityoferrors*

      I really love Pamela Reif’s dance videos – try the “15 min happy dance workout”, “15 min oldies dance workout” or “15 min dance cardio workout” (I didn’t enjoy the sexy dance one because one part involves dropping to the floor for plank shoulder touches, but you might like that). She does easy moves, there’s a timer in the corner that shows the name of the move and a countdown, and there’s a little beep to let you know when the move is about to change so you can get more into the moves without missing any transitions. Super easy to follow along.

      She also has a huge range of no-equipment workout videos. I’ve never tried those but she has them categorized by intensity.

      If you try those dance videos and enjoy them, you might also like MadFit. She has a few 15-minute dance routines too (“15 min dance party workout” – two from the 2000s and 1 from the 1990s). She is really high-energy and a lot of fun. I will say these videos are more difficult than Pamela’s, both from a technical perspective (no countdown or timer and her moves are more complicated) and from a cardio perspective (they will kick your butt). These videos are my favorite by far but sometimes I’m not up for it mentally or physically lol.

      MadFit also has “music workouts” where she’ll lead a short full-body routine set to a song. I wouldn’t call these dances exactly, but I’ve found those more motivating than doing similar workouts without a rhythm to follow. They’re also great because they’re 3-4 min long! If you only have a limited amount of time to fit workouts in, I think those might be a good option.

      Congratulations on the baby! I hope others have suggestions to include your little one, too.

  34. Frida*

    Hoping to hear some experiences of moving away from a place you hate and starting over somewhere new… or at least finding ways to cope if you’re stuck.

    My husband and I are from the East coast. We moved to California about ten years ago, right out of college. It was always his dream to move to Cali, he had been accepted to grad school here, and since I didn’t have a solid plan back East (and I was pretty sure we were headed for marriage) I came with him. At the time I thought it was only going to be a couple years. What I didn’t know is that in his line of work, where you attend grad school heavily influences where you can find work after graduation, so his career is strongly tied to the West Coast. So, ten years later, we’re still here. I really didn’t like SoCal so in a sort of compromise we moved to the SF Bay Area, which is better… but still not home.

    In the last few years I’ve felt it’s become almost unbearable here. I miss the seasons, I miss my family and friends, and I miss not being terrified of wildfire for half the year. The traffic and the COL are awful. The only time of year I really enjoy here is the winter/rainy season when everything is green; the rest of the year everything is bone-dry, yellow, ugly, and unbearably hot. Today was yet another day in the high 90’s, and though today the air was clear, we’ve spent weeks on end confined to our house because of toxic air and wildfire smoke. With no central AC, because our house was built before drought and global warming were a thing (apparently it never used to be necessary here).

    When I see photos from my friends in the Midwest or East Coast it just makes me want to cry, especially this time of year. The foliage, the architecture, the wildlife, actual weather and rain and snow… everything. I miss it with my whole being. I used to be able to travel back East a few times a year which helped, but since COVID we haven’t been further than 50 miles from home since December and there’s no end in sight. On my worst days the fact that we’re stuck here because of my husband’s career (and, honestly, him continuing to hold onto the “California dream”) fills me with resentment, especially since I wonder whether he knew all along that we wouldn’t be going back anytime soon (or ever). It’s otherwise a truly wonderful marriage, but this issue is a big one.

    I do think the high COL, the heat, the wildfires, and my persistent unhappiness about living here are slowly wearing him down to the point where a major move is becoming more of a reality, but probably not for a few more years, and not without significant professional consequences for him (unless his company decides to let people go 100% remote, but that’s unlikely). My career is pretty portable, fortunately. But I’m really struggling with coping right now. A lot of people are fleeing the Bay Area right now and I feel incredibly jealous. It feels like all I can do at this point is wait for the winter rains to show up and stop the heat and the fires… hopefully.

    1. tangerineRose*

      This wouldn’t get you closer to your family, but have you considered moving to Washington State? They have seasons and sometimes snow.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Depends on which part. I left Western Washington after eleven years because the “seasons” consisted of ten months of gloomy drizzle and two months of mostly okay, but the last year I was there I literally went 42 days straight without seeing the sun. My pat answer when people ask me why I moved back to the Midwest is that I missed having actual seasons.

    2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Leaving California for New York was the best thing I ever did for myself. You followed your husband when that made sense; it’s time for him to follow you. Best wishes.

      1. Dan*

        “it’s time for him to follow you.”

        I don’t think it’s that simple, see OP’s comment about likely career consequences to husband. All in all, I’m not a fan of a geographic deals that couples might make early in the relationship — the type of deal that says, “we’ll do your thing for X years, and then after that, we’ll do my thing.” OP doesn’t actually say whether they had that kind of deal, but IMHO it doesn’t really matter. Uprooting a career is a BFD, pre-existing deal or not.

        OP needs to talk to husband and see what husband is up for. If husband says, “no move”, then OP needs to figure out whether she’s willing to stay married, stay in California and figure out how to find some sense of happiness, or have that really tough conversation with husband and relocate on her own.

        Telling husband he has to pay the piper when 1) His career isn’t that portable and they aren’t likely to shift to remote work, and 2) In the middle of a pandemic is just not advice I can get on board with.

        BTW, I’m not coming at this as a gender issue. Once lives are established, uprooting them is not an easy thing in normal times, let alone now.

    3. Trailing spouse*

      yes, not that simple but make a plan. Talk about your vision for the future. Together.
      My husband never got comfortable in the east coast city we lived in. The COL was nuts. We lived from paycheck to paycheck. 911. Enormous work/living stress. We lived in a tiny apt with all the attendant suffering. I was an urban person and felt these were my people.
      He was from and wanted to go back to the midwest after 20 years east. No way either of us could retire.
      We started imagining what life in the midwest would be like. We started looking for job openings for either me or him in a “what if” manner.
      There was one for him about a year into this. He didn’t get it.
      Four years later there was one for me. I did get it and we moved.
      The first six months were super hard but he was immediately happy and content. That meant a lot to me. I am blooming where I have been planted.

    4. Washi*

      Commiseration! I followed my husband to the DC area from rural northern New England. Neither of us really had a plan at the time and I was fine with spending a couple years here, but we’re now on year 8 and I am so done! I actually do love a lot of aspects of our life here, particularly the career opportunities and enormous diversity, but I have never been a city person or a hot weather person, and I know this area will never truly feel like home to me. My pre-pandemic coping mechanism used to be really leaning into the things I have here that I couldn’t find in a rural area, like museums and cultural events but…that’s not really a thing anymore.

      Honestly, what has helped has been getting on the same page with my husband about moving. His career is not really compatible with ultra rural living, so we’ve been doing research together on what kind of places would work for both of us with each of us making some compromises. Even if we have to wait out the recession, it feels good to be making a plan and feel like we’re working towards a future I can get excited about.

    5. Lulubell*

      I agree with the comments about making a long-term plan with your husband that works for both of you. But in the short term, can you plan a few weekend trip to places that have changing seasons and foliage? Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, Kings Canyon, etc are all within driving distance from the Bay area and are at peak New England Fall right now. Mammoth will have snow soon if you are missing that. There are many places within driving distance that might satisfy at least the weather portion of your unrest, and give you something to look forward to until you make a longer-term plan.

    6. Lulubell*

      I agree with the comments about making a long-term plan with your husband that works for both of you. But in the short term, can you plan a few weekend trip to places that have changing seasons and foliage? Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, Kings Canyon, etc are all within driving distance from the Bay area and are at peak New England Fall right now. Mammoth will have snow soon if you are missing that. There are many places within driving distance that might satisfy at least the weather portion of your unrest, and give you something to look forward to until you make a longer-term plan.

    7. Lulubell*

      I agree with the comments about making a long-term plan with your husband that works for both of you. But in the short term, can you plan a few weekend trip to places that have changing seasons and foliage? Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, Kings Canyon, etc are all within driving distance from the Bay area and are at peak New England Fall right now. Mammoth will have snow soon if you are missing that. There are many places within driving distance that might satisfy at least the weather portion of your unrest, and give you something to look forward to until you make a longer-term plan.

    8. Generic Name*

      Yes. I lived in Texas for 7 years. I’m from the Midwest originally, and I had terrible culture shock when I first moved. It doesn’t help that Texas is incredibly provincial; I was seen as a Yankee outsider the whole time I was there. Where I lived did have seasons, but the summers were unbearably hot and folks thought 50 was cold. My husband at the time and I agreed it was time to move, and we found a city we agreed on and his company happened to also have offices there, so he applied for a job there and we were able to move. I love the area I now live in. Been here 14 years with no plans to move.

      It’s worthwhile to have a discussion with your spouse over this. Since his career is rooted in the West, maybe you could move inland to Salt Lake City or Denver. Or maybe you can agree that his career take a backseat for a few years and you can move for a job for you. Living in a place you don’t hate is so important to your mental health. In fact, every time I’ve talked to a therapist, the first things they’ve asked me were do I like where I’m living and do I like my job.

    9. PollyQ*

      I do very much sympathize, because I was in the same situation, only flipped. I grew up in the Bay Area, but then lived in the Boston area for 15 years as an adult, and found it never felt like home. I just couldn’t get used to the one-two punch of cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers. Since I’ve moved back, I’ve been much happier (although the fires and the smoke really are sucktastic).

      Anyway, I do think this is important enough for you to push with your husband, and one thing stood out in what you said:

      where you attend grad school heavily influences where you can find work after graduation, so his career is strongly tied to the West Coast

      Without having any actual facts, I’m skeptical that just because he started his career here, it’s totally impossible for him to continue it in another part of the country. It doesn’t sound like the industry is only located on the west coast, just that it’d be harder to network outside of it. Right now is a genuinely dreadful time to be job-hunting, but can’t he start trying to build a network outside this geographic area? Online connections, classic “keep in touch” with colleagues, attending conferences (once it’s safe)? Or would it be possible for him to find a job in a similar, related field?

      10 years is a long time to be miserable, and I would hope a loving spouse would take their partner’s happiness into consideration when they’re mapping out their future employment. Good luck! (and I’m also hoping for rain in the very near future!)

    10. Owler*

      I lived in the Bay area for several years after college; spouse also had the California dream. I never felt rooted in the Bay area, and I don’t know if it was because of me or if we were just in a high turnover area where no one really rooted. I never grew to appreciate the “golden hills” of Berkeley, and we were too far from the ocean or skiing spots to enjoy outdoor pursuits regularly either. Eventually, we figured out that we wanted to buy a home and not deal with commuting along the peninsula. We ended up in the Pacific Northwest: still near the water, but much more green and seasonal than California. I’m sad that we didn’t find a way to be within driving distance of family in the Midwest, especially now.

      The hard thing is that you’re going to have to talk to your partner about your unhappiness. And you might need to sit with that discomfort of living in the wrong place until you can talk about it with him. Maybe moving isn’t in the cards now…do you start saving for a place in the Midwest or east coast for a future there? Maybe it’s not a home for moving to now; maybe it is a retirement/investment/vacation spot. Are there ways to find some happiness with where you are, like driving to snow for the weekends?

  35. Amy*

    Does anyone have any good strategies for dealing with a parent whose favorite things are saying “I told you so!” and “That’s nothing, just wait!”

    I love my mom, but she drives me up the wall with this – particularly with respect to parenting. Whenever I try to talk to her about any sort of difficulty I’m having she almost always comes back with some variation of these two responses. Recently I needed to vent about a rough day with my toddler and her response was, “Just wait until she’s a teenager and hates you, like you did to me!” It honestly makes me so angry that I don’t even want to share anything beyond pleasantries, but then I hear from other family members that I close her out too much. I’ve tried bringing this up with her and telling her it’s hurtful but in the long run, nothing changes.

    1. PollyQ*

      The only real solution is to stop talking to her about your problems. She’s never going to be the supportive person you can turn to when you have a rough day. If you can “load up” the conversation with other kinds of trivia, maybe cute positive stories about your kids, she may not notice so much.

      And you can feel free to completely ignore what other family members say. They’re not part of the relationship, and they don’t get a vote. If they won’t stop hassling you, try telling them that this is what works best for you and that they’re free to have any kind of relationship with your mother that they want. (I would also bet a million internet dollars that they’re not telling your mom to be less negative.)

      Captain Awkard has many, many columns about how to deal with difficult, negative parents, so I recommend sifting through her archives. I’m sorry — it sucks that someone who ought to be in your corner is someone who just makes you feel worse.

    2. Ginger ale for all*

      I recently commented to my mom that she judges other people too much by how much they weigh. She looked at me with surprise and said that yes, she did as if she had only just realized it herself. It might be worth telling her what you think of her behavior. My mom has gotten a bit better at not talking about everyone’s weight since I made that comment.

      1. ShinyPenny*

        Ginger Ale, I love this!
        I find that Allison’s work scripts are gloriously applicable to tedious perseverations by certain family members, in such a useful way!
        It’s her method of
        –Neutrally present observation
        –Ask “what’s up?”
        –Wait out the awkward silence until a response is offered
        –Verbalize your goal moving forward

        So, last week in my family:
        Q: “Hey, I notice that whenever I share a cheerful story from my childhood, you respond with a pretty dark self-critical rant about how bad things were. Why do you think that happens?”
        A: Surprise, followed by interesting self reflection re guilt and remorse
        Me: “I’d like to be able to share a cheerful story and have the conversation stay cheerful. Can we please try to stick to that?”

        At the very least, it creates a different ending to a scene we’ve all acted out with tedious repetition :)

        Alternatively, if there are cognitive issues or bad-faith actors, I go sideways, for instance:
        Other person: BlahBlahBlah Covid Seems Really Exagerated
        Me: Remember when everyone got chicken pox? How old were YOU when you got it? Did you ever know anyone that got scarlet fever? Then what happened?
        (I give myself points if I can actually shift them to a topic that I also find interesting, because with this method my goal is to reduce my repetition-based suffering, while still remaining connected to a beloved elder.)

        The sad reality is that redirecting a topic, or shifting to a meta-level conversation, don’t (in my experience) work very well if the other person just specifically really wants to hurt you. Then distance and disengagement is your friend, and this might be your situation, Amy.
        But I have been surprised that sometimes people are just stuck in an unconscious rut, out of habit or past trauma or whatever– and might not be hurting you on purpose (even though it FEELS like they are hurting you on purpose). The above methods can help test this out.

        You could try–
        Neutral Observation: I notice that you frequently tell me to expect disaster with my relationships with my kids.
        Q: What’s up with that?
        (Pause for awkward silence and response.)
        You: I see this is a pretty fraught topic. But going forward, let’s both avoid doom-saying, and stick to good wishes for the future. Can you get onboard with that?

        Amy, maybe you already know this is a lost cause with your mother, but if you are not sure, sometimes people can surprise you– like Ginger Ale and I experienced.
        Also, the above conversation sets up language to use in *future* conversations to label this issue: Oh, hey, Mom this is that DoomSaying we were talking about! Let’s say instead “May we have love and peace between us all forever” right? and now tell me about your book club meeting!”

        (Or, a different meta-topic to address overtly, if it interests you:
        When we were kids, were you frequently surprised by relationship disasters?
        When *YOU* were a kid, did relationships seem really disasterous?
        How can we create a different future for ourselves?)

        (Also, +1 re Captain Awkward)

        Good luck with it all :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Pretty much you are stuck not sharing things with her if she cannot change this habit.

      My husband told his mother that he got a new job. It was an impressive step for him and he was thrilled beyond belief.
      All his mother said was, “Well you will be the new person so they will lay you off first. What if you get laid off?”

      My husband gave her the answer she deserved. He simply said, “I dunno.” And walked away leaving her hanging there. Her question showed her total lack of understanding about his field. People very seldom get laid off in that field.

      For me, I would have said, “Quick, mom, tell me something negative!” My husband and I had different approaches.

      It could be that others are not having the same experience with her as you are having. This can happened between mothers and daughters. There are additional pressures there that do not exist in other types of relationships. I hope you don’t bank off what others THINK is happening. I hope you do what you have to do to protect yourself.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Since you’ve already named this and told her it bothers you, can you try calling it out when it happens? I’ve had some luck with, “Mom, this is what I was talking to you about. I’m just venting about my day. I don’t need to hear how much worse it’s going to get.” Once I’ve been explicit a few times, I start to suggest other language they could use. “No, Mom, I think you meant to say, ‘oh sweetie, that sounds like a rough day.'”

    5. Esmeralda*

      Put your mom on an information diet.

      Stop talking to her about parenting. Just don’t even bring it up.

      As for the other very helpful (sarcasm) family members telling you how bad your mom feels: I’d say something like, Well, mom can talk to me about that if she wants to. Or even, just, “Hmm. That’s interesting”. Then change the subject.

      You’ve told your mom how you feel. She doesn’t choose to act in a way that takes your feelings into account. Too bad, mom, you don’t get to have any deep talks.

    6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I agree with those saying that you’re better off not complaining to your mother. I learned that early on: if as a child I complained about my older brother, she would tell me to think myself lucky because she had TWO older brothers to fight off.
      She was a narcissist, pretty short on empathy. I found empathy elsewhere, thank goodness, in the form of wonderful friends with children of similar ages to mine.
      If your other relatives are rooting for her telling you she’s unhappy with you closing her out, then I’m pretty sure your mother must also be a narcissist, they are very talented at getting people on their side and rooting for them. Narcissists tend to attract a lot of attention, a defining feature is that you find yourself talking about them all the time, (whether good or bad).
      I would shut those relatives down with a “I’ve had to close her out because of the way she reacts whenever I talk about a problem. Until she understands what I need from her that’s how it’ll be. And going forward, please don’t try to sort things out between us. I’ve told her what I need, and it’s up to her to act if she wants the situation to change.”

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! It seems to have disappeared in today’s site migration. I’ll ask my tech person to fix it, but meanwhile a workaround is to just google your search terms but add this to it:
      site:askamanager.org

      That’ll just give you results from this search.

      1. The Time Being*

        Has the search bar issue been part of the site migration? I’ve been using it to try and find old comments of mine every now and then and lately it has seemed to find only a fraction of the comments I’ve left.

  36. Zee*

    Any recommendations for pregnancy / baby books which are more practical / science focused? I have the two Emily Oster books which I love, but I’m looking for something which is a bit more focused on what to expect/ practical advice without being too ‘cloying’ and without being more focused on a particular parenting philosophy (obviously they’ll all have a similar ethos but I’m less interested in those that are primarily about doing it this way’). Especially with baby books there are so many – and so many of them are really patronising! What I want is the kind of thing that’s like ‘Babies’ poo can look these ways and be healthy’ and ‘About a week after birth typically these unexpected things happen, don’t be frightened’. Basically stuff you wish you would have known ahead of time / want to be reassured about without falling down a Google rabbit hole.

    I’m in the U.K. so books with a U.K. focus would be preferred (especially with what to expect re medical care there are really different things to expect!)

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child” by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It’s not U.K. (obviously) but it’s detailed about health matters and evidence-based.

    2. Stella*

      My favorite “missing manual” book is The Wonder Weeks. The Wonder Weeks details the 10 periods of time in the first 20 months that a child makes major changes, or as the book calls them, leaps. It was reassuring to know that I hadn’t broken the baby. :-) There is a website (thewonderweeks dot com) as well as an app.

  37. Potatoes gonna potate*

    This may be a long shot but I’ve seen similar questions asked here and I may have already had these but I’m blanking atm.

    Any suggestions for drinks that have a balance of protein and carb that are also not too calorie heavy? Through t&e I’ve learned that my blood sugar stays best when I have something like that during the middle of the night feedings. I prefer a drink because of the convenience of it — ya kno bottle for baby, bottle for mama :p

    Straight milk makes me uncomfortable but I can mix it with something if necessary.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I read of a study that showed a good number of diabetics are allergic to milk. My husband (a diabetic) sniffed constantly- meaning there was constant mucus going on. I switched to one of the alternative milks on the market and the constant sniffing stopped. Others even noticed the change.
      I was 28 before I realized that others do not feel like doubling over when they drink milk. I felt stupid for not figuring that out sooner. I also use the alternative milks with much better results.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That’s interesting, I never thought of that. I never got tested for an allergy, I’ve been able to take milk with cereal or coffee or other regular dairy products with no issue. But drinking a glass of milk straight up has left me uncomfortable at times so avoid it.

    2. Drink suggestions*

      Make a green smoothie with soft tofu, peanut butter, high-protein yoghurt, or another protein source blended in, and keep it in a Thermos by the bed for the night feed? Or get some protein powder and mix a scoop with water when you wake up?

    3. Washi*

      Kefir? You might be able to find it pre-mixed with berries or something, but I find it pretty filling just plain.

    4. SomethingSomething*

      Wonderslim meal replacement shakes. 150 g protein, 100 calories, 7 g net carbs. No, I don’t work for them or own stock. It’s the type of “food” used in a medically-supervised weight loss program I was on (without the branding). But you don’t have to use it for weight loss, it’s fine as a supplement to regular food. I like the chocolate flavor but it comes in others. Expensive, though. You can get it on Amazon or directly I think from Diet Direct and maybe other places.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Yea I was like 150g is a LOT! Lol. I’m not trying to lose weight but I am trying to be conscious of it, as I packed on 15 lbs about a month post partum. I don’t usually eat dinner so this could work

    5. Alex*

      I really like the Pirq protein drinks. They are 11o calories, 12 grams protein, 1 gram sugar, and taste good. I buy them on amazon. They are a bit pricey, but worth it IMO.

  38. Cimorene*

    Any suggestions on parenting books or resources about little ones being fearful? My toddler is going through what I assume is a phase where they are randomly afraid of stuff on a regular basis. For example a favorite cartoon will have an episode with a whale or dinosaur and they will suddenly be scared of whales and dinosaurs. Or another example is one of our dogs got into something and threw up a couple times and now every time the dog comes near kiddo starts to cry and fuss and act scared of the dog. Looking for resources and advice on how to respond. Don’t want to be dismissive of their fear but not sure how best to address. Any tips from experience or resource recommendations welcome.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I tended to be that fearful child. What worked with me was when an adult explained to me what happened, why it happened and why it is better now.

      This could look like:
      “Our Buddy got sick because he ate something he shouldn’t have eaten. It’s normal for animals to sometimes throw up when they eat the wrong thing. But he got it out of his system, so he is better now. I can understand that you might worry he will throw up again, but just like I take care of you when you get sick I will also take care of him if he gets sick again. Meanwhile, anytime you think the dog does not feel well, you can come tell me.”

      The last sentence gives them back their power. It says, it’s okay to be concerned and here is what to do.

      Much of worry/fear is not knowing what to do, the lack of power or lack of a plan. So for me, a good template would have been, “It’s okay to be concerned about this and here is how to handle that concern.”

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      If feasible, touch/interact with the thing to show it is safe. You can’t rely on language much with a toddler as they don’t get the nuances. For us this phase passed quickly without doing anything much about it.

  39. Cimorene*

    Any suggestions on parenting books or resources about little ones being fearful? My toddler is going through what I assume is a phase where they are randomly afraid of stuff on a regular basis. For example a favorite cartoon will have an episode with a whale or dinosaur and they will suddenly be scared of whales and dinosaurs. Or another example is one of our dogs got into something and threw up a couple times and now every time the dog comes near kiddo starts to cry and fuss and act scared of the dog. Looking for resources and advice on how to respond. Don’t want to be dismissive of their fear but not sure how best to address. Any tips from experience or resource recommendations welcome.

    1. Anona*

      We just checked out a book called “Doggie gets scared” by Leslie Patricelli for my 2 year old. I find books helpful for things like this (“hands are not for hitting”, by a different author was a good one when hitting started becoming a problem).

  40. AB*

    From the opinions being posted on my neighborhood Facebook page, seems like my neighborhood is going full steam ahead on trick or treating on Halloween. I don’t want to seem like the neighborhood grinch, but I think this is not the best plan this year. I don’t have the energy to do something “cute” like making individual candy bags and staking them on the fence or along the walkway. Debating between just sticking a bowl of candy out or turning off my porch light. What are you doing for Halloween??

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Probably nothing this year. I do the unattended bowl of candy even in normal years anyway, because we only get a couple trick or treaters (I think they all go to the richer subdivision across the way :-P ) and people knocking or ringing or whatnot gets my dogs all riled up. But I probably won’t even do that this year.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      We can get between 200-250 here. Recent years have been less. I am planning on leaving my light off and not putting anything outside.

    3. Nicki Name*

      I’m planning to leave a bowl out with individual helpings of candy in sealed bags. No idea if we’ll actually get any trick-or-treaters, though.

    4. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I am planning on setting up a folding table and placing one (full size) candy bar per kid when I see them approaching. Then backing off about another 6 feet. That way I can still see all the adorable kids in costume while maintaining a safe distance.

      I may try to rig up some kind of tube to send the candy bar through but I doubt that I’ll get to it.

      This year has been crappy enough that I don’t want to miss Halloween as well.

  41. AB*

    From the opinions being posted on my neighborhood Facebook page, seems like my neighborhood is going full steam ahead on trick or treating on Halloween. I don’t want to seem like the neighborhood grinch, but I think this is not the best plan this year. I don’t have the energy to do something “cute” like making individual candy bags and staking them on the fence or along the walkway. Debating between just sticking a bowl of candy out or turning off my porch light. What are you doing for Halloween??

    1. Lena Clare*

      I always turn off my porch light. I also always put a note in the window saying “have a fun night but I don’t celebrate”. I still get my neighbours knocking! I’m just going to watch something on my laptop upstairs with my ear phones in, and probably do some cooking in the kitchen at the back with the radio on.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Actually I’ve just remembered it’s a full moon this halloween so I may sit in the back and moonbathe for a bit.

    2. nep*

      If I lived alone (as I dearly hope to very soon), I’d turn off the porch light. Nothing wrong with being a ‘Halloween grinch’ during a pandemic. But I live with a family member who is so tethered to convention she’ll probably hand out candy.

    3. Choggy*

      Hubby and I are definitely Halloween grinches, I can’t even pretend to be interested and hubby works that day so he just wants to come home and relax. We live in a community of mostly older people/retirees, but there are a few families with littles. I don’t think they’ll miss out because there are plenty of others who enjoy the show.

    4. Trick or treat!*

      Based on conversations on NextDoor, I am also pretty sure that many people in our neighborhood will participate in trick or treating this year. We have decided not to – and we even have a child of trick or treating age. We will turn off our porch light, and if it becomes necessary put a sign on the door explaining we aren’t participating this year. Our son took it incredibly well – we will likely watch a Halloween-y movie instead, and do a candy scavenger hunt at home.

    5. Lucy*

      We may put out a bowl of candy that any trick-or-treaters can either help themselves to or not, but I also don’t have the bandwidth or the time to do anything more than that. The town Facebook group genuinely seems split on what’s happening with Halloween, but we live in a very hilly neighborhood without sidewalks and without too many kids, so we don’t usually get many visitors on Halloween anyway. (I think we had 3 groups of 2-4 trick-or-treaters last year, at least one of which had come by car.) It may be different in other parts of town, but I don’t think that distanced trick-or-treating (i.e. only traveling with people in one’s family/pod, no direct interaction between treat-givers and trick-or-treaters) would be especially problematic in my neighborhood because of that. This isn’t a situation where groups of people will be encountering each other without easy opportunities to maintain safe distance. (I saw at least one post about whether we all need to sanitize our doorbells, doorknobs, and porch railings after each trick-or-treater, and to that I say: maximizing safety for everyone should absolutely be our collective goal, but if that is truly the only standard that will keep people safe, then we should all take a pass on Halloween this year. The sanitation theater exhausts me.)

    6. Asenath*

      Nothing. Which is not new; it started when I lived in a basement apartment with a difficult to find entrance, and got no trick-or-treaters. Then, the corollary – don’t buy Halloween candy because you eat it all if you get no trick-or-treaters. Next neighbourhood was very mixed, with few small children, and although some were clearly imported, they were brought directly and only to elderly relatives’ houses. I shut all the lights off and retired to a back room for the duration, if I was home at all, which often I wasn’t. There’s a similar situation where I am now, with even fewer casual trick or treaters (it’s an apartment building) and no need to turn off my lights because no one looks at them and figures out which apartment they belong to and who can they ring who might open the lobby door. It suits me just fine.

    7. WellRed*

      I’m going to put up my orange lights and hand out candy. Fun Dip. Kids love it, I’m not remotely tempted. I do think I’ll wear my mask to answer the door. No I’m not disinfecting door knobs (why would they be turning my doorknob anyway?) or railings. I am in an area that has consistently stayed low covid.

    8. Nicole76*

      The people commenting they don’t care to give out candy should move to my neighborhood. Despite having a decent amount of kids, we got absolutely ZERO trick-or-treaters last year. I was so disappointed. We normally only get a handful as it is which stinks because I enjoy giving out candy and seeing all the cute little costumes. Of course this year I feel differently, so Murphy’s Law says we’ll get kids even though I plan on keeping the porch light off to discourage it.

    9. Amy*

      I love handing out candy, but we’re not going to this year because of COVID concerns. Instead my four-year-old and I had a fun afternoon making little individual candy bags that we will put out front for kids to grab, if any come by. To be honest I don’t really know how many trick-or-treaters we usually get because we are out trick-or-treating ourselves! We usually get maybe 3-4 groups before or after we go out, but while we’re gone I just leave out a bowl of candy on the stoop. Our neighborhood has a lot of kids but there is a wealthy neighborhood a mile or two away that attracts literally 500+ children each year, so I suspect a good number of them head over there. To us, half the fun is walking around seeing our own neighbors, so we don’t migrate.

      One of our neighbors organized a fun idea where the families in our little neighborhood can sign up to participate in a Halloween pool, and she will distribute a list of names and addresses to everyone in the pool. Then each family does “reverse trick or treating” by walking around and dropping off candy in a bucket on the front step of each of the participating houses sometime during Halloween day. I figure we’ll let the bucket of candy sit in the garage for a few days to decontaminate, then have some. Honestly, my kid will probably have more fun being the candy Santa around the neighborhood than eating whatever we get!

      On Halloween night itself we’re planning to do a candy hunt in the house and watch Halloween movies. My child is pretty stoked, probably because she’s so little that she doesn’t have a super clear memory of past Halloweens.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Same situation here, and covid numbers in my town are going up. I haven’t decided what I’m doing.

  42. curly sue*

    As an important note, the “not-great” things in Heyer include overt and plot-related antisemitism, especially in “The Grand Sophy.” I read that book not knowing what was coming, and it felt like a visceral punch to the chest to realize how much she hated us. (And she wrote that book ~ 1950, iirc, so it wasn’t a case of outdated ‘just didn’t know’ cultural bias.) There are many better regency romance authors out there. Tessa Dare’s regencies are silly rom-coms with lots of vibrant heroines, and Beverly Jenkins writes incredible historicals.

    1. Nacho*

      Yeah, this is one of the reasons I don’t read many books more than a few decades old. Lots of people in the past were really shitty by our standards, and “progressive” in the 1950s is pretty damn racist, sexist, and all around not-great today.

  43. Puppy!*

    Big feelings. The puppy comes today. Big Feelings. Panicking. WHO thought THIS was a good idea?
    Pros- I have waited years for this dog.
    I am home for the duration.
    I have watched the videos, read the books, consulted with experts, put in a back-up plan of helpers and friends, assigned god-parents (they volunteered) the house is puppy proofed, plenty of treats, crate, pen, dog run. collars, leashes, snuffle mats, kongs. I had a puppy 23 years ago.
    Cons- Will I be able to do this? How do people do this?

    1. Choggy*

      What kind of puppy are you getting? You sound very prepared and I’m sure when they are actually in your space, you will find a way to figure things out or will be able to find answers (even here!) from other puppy/dog owners. Congrats on your new arrival!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yes, you will be able to do this. People do this by going one day at a time and one situation at a time.

      When you see how much that little pup adores you, all will make more sense.

    3. Stephanie*

      Puppies are a lot like newborn babies, in that they need SO MUCH, but it is so very short-lived. They grow so fast.
      You CAN do this. People do this all of the time. They just…do it. One day at a time, and remember that no matter what is going on (like sleepless nights, house trining woes, whatever), it’s all temporary. You will get through it, and it will pass.
      Enjoy your puppy–they are wonderful! Soak up the puppy smell and cuteness. You’ve got this!

    4. Achoos*

      Oh, I’m jealous! With our first puppy, I didn’t know what to expect and it was awful. With our 2nd pup, I knew to have a schedule and knew the bad phases had an end and it flew by! My dog is now 3 and I miss the puppy times.

  44. One taillight*

    Probably the most absurd question that will be asked on this forum all weekend: Is a car taillight something that most people replace themselves?

    One of my taillights blew out. I looked at the owners manual and the instructions for how to replace it (it’s a 10 year old Honda) seem convoluted at best. Then again, I can barely read an oil dipstick. Sigh

    1. Lena Clare*

      No, I get my mechanic to do mine, but it’s a really quick job. I just drive by his on the way home from work and he’ll fix it for me.

    2. Choggy*

      You may be able to find a YouTube video about this very thing and then decide for yourself if you want to pursue it.

    3. Workerbee*

      Take to a mechanic! I had a VW that made it impossible to change even the front headlight without lifting out a whole bunch of other stuff. Current Ford also has bizarre quirks of having to lift out things to get to other things, everything being packed in so tight. Not worth my agony.

    4. Anono-me*

      It depends. It depends on the vehicle and on the tools you have and on your diy skill/comfort level.

      My suggestion is to Google and watch a couple of different videos of people changing out the taillight in your make, and body style model of Honda. If it looks like something you can do, go for it. If it looks too complicated, take it in to your garage.

      Two things
      1-Odds are pretty high that you will need to replace the other side taillight soon. Most tail lights are the same age and burn out at about the same time.

      2- If you DIY, the advice to wear gloves if touching the glass part of the is important. The way most lights are made means you really don’t want to touch them with your bare hands or anything else that could leave a residue on the bulb glass as it will significantly shorten the life of the bulb.

      1. Anono-me*

        I forgot to add that most cars change style every few years and that can make a difference on how easy it is to do a task. If you can’t find your exact year, make sure that the video you watch is for the same style as your year.

        If you don’t know the year range for your vehicle style, the easiest way I know of is to find the title of the Chilton’s repair manual for your vehicle; as it will include the year range.

    5. This is Me*

      In my experience it depends on the car and owner. My first car needed a specialty screwdriver and was obviously intended to be taken in. Unfortunately that same car also had electrical issues that shorted out the right tail light at least twice a month. I wound up buying the screwdriver and got to where I could swap it out in less than three minutes.

      My current vehicle was designed to let the owner DIY the lightbulbs but it’s not the easiest thing – I have to position my hand in one way and push and twist just right. Fortunately now there’s YouTube and that’s proved seriously helpful.

      Meanwhile my husband will take his car in, no matter how easy a fix it is. So it’s up to you – if you can afford to take it in for the swap and don’t want to deal with it yourself then there’s no shame in supporting your local mechanics by taking it in. At the same time if you’d rather do it yourself then hop over to YouTube and see how easy your manufacturer makes it and then go for it!

    6. Esmeralda*

      Nope. Let the experts do it.

      The last time I did repair and maintenance on a car was my 1970s era super beetle, which I owned for a long time. But that car had like three moving parts lol.

    7. *daha**

      Once upon a time, changing out bulbs was simple and straightforward in just about every vehicle. Nowadays it very much depends on the particular vehicle and the particular bulb, and it might be an LED unit and not a bulb at all. My left turn signal display on my dashboard started blinking at double-speed last week on my Ford C-Max, and that’s kind of a universal sign that a bulb has failed. It turned out to be the front signal on the driver’s side, just over the headlight. The replacement bulb was cheap at a parts store, and I could see where to reach it inside the hood. But I just couldn’t get my hand in behind the battery to do it, so I went to a repair shop.
      The technician at the shop took a very long time, and eventually had to put the car up on the lift, remove the left front wheel, and approach the bulb from underneath. The manager told me that the job is rated at 0.6 hours. I was charged $25 for labor, which seemed reasonable.

    8. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Really depends on the car and your patience. My first car was pretty easy, you could get to the assembly from the trunk and it wasn’t too awkward. The second one you had to take the whole bumper off so I had to get Dad to help me. These days I don’t have a car but if I did I might just take it in even for minor stuff.

  45. merope*

    If you don’t want to change it yourself, often an auto parts store will help you. Just go in, get the bulb, and then ask if they can install it. I have done that with lights and with windshield wipers.

  46. aarti*

    I’m wondering if anyone has suggestions for dealing with a sibling go-between with a difficult parent.

    My mother, challenging on her best days, has two children: my sister and me. My sister lives in my hometown, I live in a different country. My sister is my mother’s confident, a role that is stressful and unpleasant for her. My mom complains. A lot!

    Recently, we’ve fallen into a dynamic where Mom will complain about me to Sister. “I think Aarti is mad at me?”, “Aarti isn’t responding to my emails.”, “Aarti doesn’t seem to want to talk to me”, etc. etc. Sister will mention these conversations to me, without saying I need to do anything about them. But I’ve realised in the past few weeks that these conversations are stressing me out. I don’t like to think of my mother ruminating on some perceived slight and I feel pressured when Sister tells me this to respond to my mother in some way.

    I’m looking for advice to people who have been in this situation before on how to get out of it! Thanks in advance

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t let yourself become the intermediary. Redirect both people to talk to each other when they complain about each other.
      At the same time try to open up a conversation with your sis to see if mom needs different living arraingments.

      1. aarti*

        Actually if I were the intermediary, I’d be very comfortable telling people to talk to each other! It’s more like Sister is the intermediary (unless I’m misunderstanding that word?)

        The problem is Mom complains about me to Sister, then Sister tells me what Mom’s complaints are. I feel like my only two options to put a stop to it are A) to confront Mom or B)tell Sister to stop telling me what Mom is saying about me. But both of those seem, I don’t know….aggressive?

        1. Laura H.*

          You seem to be on better terms with your sister, so I’d go with option B with an added, “I don’t have the bandwidth for this right now/ ever. Is there a way we can figure something out so that we are both not unnecessarily stressed?”

          That way it doesn’t put all the onus on one of you. (This is assuming you have a good relationship and sister is reasonable.)

        2. PollyQ*

          I don’t think it’s at all aggressive to politely tell your sister that you don’t want to hear what Mom’s saying about you. Just “Please don’t pass on Mom’s complaints to me. If she has something to say, she can say it straight to me.”

          If you feel like your sister is taking on too big a role in caring for your mother, then perhaps you can find a way to help out more. This is probably a good conversation to have, separate from the issue of your mother’s griping. But your sister has options too, including telling your mother she doesn’t want to hear her complaints about you, or just choosing not to pass them along.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’ve had this exact problem with my mother, with the intermediaries being my brother and my father (her ex -husband of 40 years). I’ve told them both to 1) not pass on those complaints to me and 2) to stop enabling her passive aggressive nonsense. It took more than a few reminders to make them stop, it eventually they did. I also had to have a similar conversation with her. Good luck!

    3. Pennyworth*

      Would your sister be open to telling your Mom that she should communicate with your directly? Or could you ask your Mom to do that? If she gets no response to her indirect complaints but does get a reply to direct communications she might change her behavior.

    4. Cendol*

      I’m sorry this is happening! I don’t have any great advice—I basically don’t talk to my sibling anymore, because they wouldn’t stop this exact behavior. (I also live in another country, while my sibling lives closer to my parents.) But when we do interact, I keep things light and parent-free! I have told my sibling in the past that it makes me uncomfortable when they act as the go-between, and also that it sounds like they’re creating an unnecessary amount of stress for themselves by playing this role. When they start talking about how our parents feel about me, I change the subject or tell them I have to go.

      If you think your sister is reasonable, I would totally raise this with her, AAM-style, as a neutral observation. “I’ve noticed that you’ve been relaying Mom’s thoughts to me, even though Mom and I also talk. Why do you think that is?”

  47. higheredrefugee*

    You can control only your boundaries and relationships. In my ideal world, Sister would say, you need to discuss that with Aarti, I’m not getting in the middle of it and being willing to walk away or hang up the phone as necessary. Then Sister has no need to bring it up to you, as it deals with your relationship with your Mom. But if she won’t do that, give yourself permission to tell your Sister that if Mom has issues, she can bring them directly to you, and you no longer need to hear from her about it. That may the only boundary you can control. Your solution is likely somewhere amongst this, based on your family dynamics, but really, remember, you control you, and you can’t control them.

    1. aarti*

      This is helpful! That is the angle I think I need to take with Sister.

      Part of the issue, is I definitely feel guilty about Sister being forced into the confidant role for Mom (mostly due to I think to proximity). I’m worried Sister might get defensive if I tell her to stop relying Mom’s complaints, but yeah I know that’s probably what I need to do.

  48. nep*

    How do you clean blinds in the bathroom?
    I’m ready to pitch them and buy new. Maybe that’s the solution.
    (I did try one of those things that grip a couple of the slats at a time, but it’s not too helpful. Could be because I’ve not been cleaning/dusting the blinds often enough.)

    1. nep*

      (I’m seeing online the suggestion to put quite dirty blinds in the tub. I’ll try that. Have you done it? Does it work well?)

      1. Alex*

        I have done that, and yes it works well! Put a couple of inches of water in the tub with some dish soap, put the blinds in, and scrub gently with a scrub brush. Drain, rinse with fresh water.

    2. WellRed*

      Buy new. I tried the tub soak and it didn’t work at all. I tried the tub soak one time. Huge mistake.

    3. MMB*

      The bathtub solution works great – the fun part is getting them dry afterwards. You can also just mix up a bucket of pine -sol and water and wipe each slat with a rag.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I did the tub soak. But you do have to wipe each slate with a rag. Then I rigged up something so they could drip-dry into the tub.

      Blinds are super labor intensive. I ended up tossing mine in favor of light-blocking curtains that I can throw in the washer.

  49. Foila*

    Hair product question :
    I have a pandemic haircut that is long on top, buzzed on the sides and back. The top is now 5ish inches long, and I’m starting to think it would look better if I tamed it a little. Trouble is, I’ve never actually used any kind of… anything.

    I’m white, my hair is wavy and somewhat fine and wispy. I’d like to capture the little flyaway bits and give it all some shape, not go full-on La Roux just yet :)

    Anyone have a product they like? I’m not even sure if I want a gel or a mousse or what the options are. Ideally it would be fragrance free or minimally stinky.

    1. WellRed*

      I like to use a very lightweight leave in cream. There’s tons out there but currently using garnier repairing leave in.

    2. WellRed*

      I like to use a very lightweight leave in cream. There’s tons out there but currently using garnier repairing leave in.

    3. WellRed*

      I like to use a very lightweight leave in cream. There’s tons out there but currently using garnier repairing leave in.

    4. ThatGirl*

      Hair paste. There are unscented ones, put a tiny bit between your fingers and then apply to your hair. Start with a little and add more if needed it goes a long way.

  50. WellRed*

    I use a lightweight all in one leave-in styling cream. There’s tons out there, but I’m currently using Garnier Whole Blends Repairing Leave In. I have similarly textured, by the sounds of it.

  51. WellRed*

    I use a lightweight all in one leave-in styling cream. There’s tons out there, but I’m currently using Garnier Whole Blends Repairing Leave In. I have similarly textured, by the sounds of it.

  52. WellRed*

    I use a lightweight all in one leave-in styling cream. There’s tons out there, but I’m currently using Garnier Whole Blends Repairing Leave In. I have similarly textured, by the sounds of it.

  53. Not So NewReader*

    This is a little strange. I see the search box is back, yea! But the comments are having a time of it trying to post. I know I clicked twice and when the comment finally went through it posted twice. It looks like others are running into the same thing?

    Just now the comment box at the very bottom disappeared entirely. I reloaded the page a couple times and it came back. And it’s not remembering my user name, that seemed to be fixed earlier. I am thinking that people are still working on this?

  54. WellRed*

    So after the past hellish month, things are returning to a new normal, though mom and I are still in the process of settling my brother’s “estate.” Then mom fell Wednesday night and lay there until 8:30 Thursday morning when she crawled to the door and yelled for help, knowing that two neighbors head for work then. She’s doing well and they say it’s because she is a very active and engaged person. So to those of you that can, here’s some friendly encouragement to get up and move at some point today. Will be researching fall detection soon.

    1. Cats Rule*

      Oh my. WellRed, your family has had way more than its fair share of bad stuff lately. I hope it turns around soon. So glad mom will be ok.

  55. Writer Anon Mouse*

    A coyote was spotted in broad daylight in a neighborhood hiking trail 2 weeks ago. Everyone says to avoid it now but how worried/scared should I be?

    Also, catch-up remote college reunion. How do I offer moral support to friend suffering infertility who is attending to support another friend, knowing everyone’s going to share baby photos? It’s only an hour but…still.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I would be careful about a coyote pack with unattended small children. A single coyote with a grown adult fit enough to go on a hike, no problem. You probably outweigh it by a hundred pounds. If it came down to a fight, you’d win hands down and the animal knows it.

      Only concern would be it was rabid (you’d still win but would probably need stitches and of course rabies vaccine) or if there was a large pack of starving coyotes.

      If you are really nervous, carry a hiking stick and make like Babe Ruth if it gets within swinging distance.

      1. Emma*

        Presumably it would also not be a good idea to go there with a dog, since the dog might start a fight that the coyote otherwise wouldn’t.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          I wouldn’t let a dog off leash if it was small and delicious. Or any size and prone to chase things instead of listening to you. But if your dog is near you and under control, the coyote isn’t going to attack it and it can’t attack the coyote.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      99.99% of healthy lone coyotes will not bother or even want to be seen by an adult human. If it is mangy or rabid, there is a danger, but someone would’ve probably mentioned if it was obviously either of those.

      There was one dangerous coyote near my house when I was a kid, but it thankfully never managed to hurt anyone and even it stayed within its territory (though it nearly got me once or twice, because I’m an idiot). When it was harassing adult humans and humans in groups, the officials came out within a week or two to put it down. As long as your local coyote leaves you alone, and you leave it alone, you should be safe.

    3. Amy*

      How worried should you be? Not at all, in my opinion. They were a regular fixture in my neighborhood growing up, and even as a skinny little teenager out walking by myself in the woods I never had any issues with them. We regularly have coyotes pass through our yard (probably to check out our chickens) and we see them out and about on trails in our neighborhood. We’re in the ‘burbs, not rural. The coyotes are way more scared of us than we are of them, and rodents, little dogs, and pet cats are way easier pickings than a human.

      Very small kids, out playing by themselves? Maybe a concern. Definitely not adults. Whenever I see one I loudly clap my hands and they run. If one comes close to you it’s likely just “escorting” you away from pups nearby, so just calmly walk away. It doesn’t want a confrontation any more than you do!

    4. Llama face!*

      There are plenty of coyotes hereabouts and nobody worries about them unless there’s a suspected rabies outbreak. Just like with any wild animal, give them space if you see them and they will generally do the same.

    5. Natalie*

      You can count the number of fatal coyote attacks in this century on one hand. They’re wild animals, so be sensible, but they’re generally going for mammals quite a bit smaller than even child humans.

  56. merp*

    Calling all cat people! I recently made my spare room a home office on account of working from home and the litterbox smells are driving me crazy. I’ve been looking at self-cleaning boxes, new types of litter, new types of waste disposal containers… getting a bit overwhelmed with options. Does anyone have one they especially recommend? I have two cats and could maybe talk myself into getting something kind of pricy if it really really works.

    1. Beancat*

      When we adopted our boys, the first recommendation I got was a litter genie. It’s basically a diaper genie that you can scoop cat litter into, and it’s AMAZING. You can’t smell it at all until it’s time to change out the bag and you have to open the genie itself.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I like the Litter Genie too. It was a bit fiddly to set up at first, but once I saw how it worked I’ve been very happy with it. [I have a basement so the litter boxes usually stay down there, but when I have to isolate a cat for one reason or another, it’s very nice to have a litter-storage option that works so well.]

    2. Aphrodite*

      I use Arm & Hammer Fragrance Free litter and I love it. The smell may be coming not from the poop and pee but from the fragrances most litters use (or maybe a combination of both). You can use the unscented variety and that works but I highly recommend the fragrance free one. Unless one of the cats has a particularly smelly poop (soft) I do not smell it.

      1. Jackalope*

        I use the Arm & Hammer litter and my cats like it (although the one I use has a bit of a scent). The big thing is clumping litter so the pee doesn’t all run to the bottom of the litter box and just hang out there. Some people like the covered litter boxes. My warning with that is that many cats aren’t okay with them. Mine refused to use the covered litter box until I took the cover off.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      We do a combination of litter genie and a very expensive (but highly effective) air purifier.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      The single easiest solution is to move the box. If that’s remotely possible, do it. Otherwise, clean the box daily, or even 2x daily. If your cats are fussy with litterbox, don’t change anything that will make them not use the box. That just makes things even worse!

    5. Esmeralda*

      Clean the box often. I have two cats, I scoop at least twice a day.
      Feline pine litter (non clumping), plain ol litter box with a large cover (looks kind of like a dog house), which helps keep the dust down.

    6. TPS reporter*

      Scoop often and empty/wash the boxes fully every week. Use unscented litter. I also like one of the charcoal litters that are unscented but have odot absorbing bits. Some cats are okay with lids so try that out too.

  57. Quiet Liberal*

    Has anyone gotten progressive glasses from Eye Buy Direct? I ordered one pair from my eye doctor’s optical shop and even with my insurance, they were so expensive even with insurance. I need a spare pair and want to try getting some online. I’m just afraid they’ll not work right. I’m sure the prescription will be the same as what was written for me. I’m just worried the transitions for each segment of the lenses won’t be right and then I’ll be stuck with glasses I can’t see through. Anyone have experience with online glasses? And, if so, any recommendations on who to use?

    1. nep*

      I will be watching this thread.
      I ordered once from phoneticeyewear, and the glasses were not at all what I needed. Return/refund was easy, but I still need to get the right glasses at some point. In the meantime I’m using readers (non-Rx) I ordered from Readers.com. I, too, am hesitant to order prescription glasses online again.
      (It’s outrageous how much my optometrist’s office charges; I did order one pair through them a while back, but never again.)

    2. It happens*

      I always pay my optician shop for the first pair and then get the second/back-up/fun pair at a discount. I’ve used zenni a few times with my progressives, no problems. Just make sure that you have the full Rx including pupil distance. Also handy to copy down the numbers on the inside of the glasses arms so you can filter and compare frames without trying them on. (The numbers are the length of the arms, the width of the eye parts, and the bridge width. Of course, only the glasses you paid full-price for will have this info on the arms…)
      And there are always sales, coupon codes, etc. If you start shopping when there isn’t one, just put them in the cart and wait until they send you something. I’ve paid under $100 for high-index progressives that darken in the sun. And they take 7-10 days from order to arrival.

      1. nep*

        Good point–pupil distance.
        (I broke up with my optometrist’s office after the assistant there was so awful about giving me my pupil distance.)

      2. Quiet Liberal*

        Wow that price is amazing! I’ll check Zenni out. I guess if I can return them if they don’t work, I won’t be out any money, just time. Thanks for the suggestion to use the numbers from my full price pair. Glasses are so ridiculously expensive at the eye doctor.