weekend open thread – October 24-25, 2020

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Expectations, by Alexander Tilney. A teenager and his roommate each struggle in different ways to navigate an exclusive prep school. There’s lots in here about class and privilege, and how weird adolescence is. In many ways, this is the cousin of Prep, which I recommended a few weeks ago.

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

{ 1,064 comments… read them below }

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Laurie is much more comfortable now, and so affectionate! He is obsessed with Wallace. He loves all the other cats but he literally races over to Wallace every time he sees him and smothers him with affection. Wallace isn’t sure what to make of it; mainly he responds by giving Laurie very aggressive baths.

  1. Saturday anon*

    Random thing I’ve always wondered: while reading advice columns, I’ve seen the scenario where the parent writes a will leaving little or nothing to one adult child and everything to the other(s). Sometimes this leads to a money fight but sometimes the sibling says no, we’ll do an even split.

    I always wondered how this scenario works out legally/financially. Is the will now ignored and the estate split by the court?

    Or does the named heir still inherit everything and when they give the sibling half, the law/IRS treats it like a gift and taxes it differently than an inheritance?

    Please note: I’m not requesting legal advice! I just wondered and figured someone in this community had seen this scenario happen.

    1. Asenath*

      It depends on where you are. Where I am, the will would be legal, and would stand (unless one of the children could prove something like undue influence). I believe there are countries in which it is very difficult to disinherit a child, and so a lawyer wouldn’t get involved in writing such a will unless there was a legal exception available to the rule that some or all of the inheritance of the child. Gift taxes also vary from place to place, but although I am not a lawyer, I cannot image that any sufficiently large gift of money wouldn’t be taxed, whether the money originally came from an inheritance or not.

      I’ve known a similar scenario which never would have reached the advice columns – one adult child had far more needs than the others due to medical issues, the parents made it perfectly clear that they were planning to leave that child anything they had, and the siblings agreed with the arrangement. I’ve also known of a situation in which family members who had been estranged from the deceased and deliberately omitted from the will quarreled with the executor over inexpensive bits of household furniture that they got it anyway. So there are all kinds of outcomes, but if someone has a good reason to not leave anything to some members of the family, they should put it in a will to have the best chance that they’ll get the outcome they wanted. If the disinherited relatives understand the situation, they may well accept it, but if they don’t, they can cause lengthy and sometimes expensive trouble.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Years ago there was a short article in Forbes magazine. It said that most family fortunes are lost by subsequent generations. And the two main reasons are either apathy or bickering. So it’s a well known pattern that large estates can be spent just on legal issues.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Also, simply dillution: Rich guy has three kids, each of whom have three kids, and so on. My understanding is that the Rockefeller descendants are at the point where the inheritance is a nice supplement to their real jobs.

        2. Polly Hedron*

          The plot of Dicken’s novel Bleak House is a large estate tied up in long legal wrangling. By the time the estate is settled its entire value has been spent on legal fees. Dickens said was based on many such real-life cases.

    2. Jemima Bond*

      I am no expert but I believe in the uk at least that the inheritance tax is paid on the estate that is left, not on each bequest that is received. So the tax man takes his cut first then you dole out what is left. If favourite child then decides to give black sheep some of his bequest to even things up, then any tax on that would be to do with gifts (and I bet there’s an allowance for such things if they are a one-off, below a certain amount etc) and isn’t to do with inheritance tax.
      I could be wrong!

      1. Green great dragon*

        For UK, gifts aren’t taxed unless you die within 7 years of the gift (so you can’t give away your estate on your deathbed to avoid inheritance tax). So Golden Child could indeed give half the inheritance to Black Sheep tax free.

      2. Bob Howard*

        In the UK, if the executors & affected beneficiaries agree, you have a short time period in which you can perform a Variation of the will. This means that after inheritance tax, things go directly from the estate to the beneficiaries. I think the distinction can be import in certain tax & benefits scenarios, but especially if one of the beneficiaries giiving up some of their inheritance should die unexpectedly then there is not a second set of inheritance tax to pay.

        1. Jen Erik*

          Yes, we’re in the UK and we did a deed of variation on my dad’s will – he’d written it one way for tax reasons, but in the subsequent years rules had changed, and it made more sense for my mum to have the full estate. We just all had to sign something saying we agreed.

          But equally, when my grandmother died, everything went, as was traditional, to my uncle as the eldest son, and he just split it among his siblings: I don’t think he changed the will.

          1. Elle*

            The deed of variation in your dad’s case was vital to make sure his nil-rate band was passed to your mum – we’ve just had to order a copy of my grandfather’s will to prove that when he died 35 years ago everything went to my gran. Otherwise there would have been tens of thousands of pounds of inheritance tax to pay, rather than a few hundred. With your gran and uncle it wouldn’t have mattered so much, and it was no doubt much cheaper and easier for your uncle to just dole things out himself, especially if he was expecting to survive a further 7 years.

      3. Saturday anon*

        Ah, that might be the part I’m missing—taxing the estate itself and not the individual inheritors. And it would be the simplest way to do it.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          A family member did a trust that way. They paid the taxes upfront so the first and second generation of recipients did not have to pay taxes on the principle. In this example here. they paid out $4 million on an $8 million dollar trust. It cut the money the people received of course but it was all tax free to the recipients.
          And the folks who managed the trust account were paid well for managing it… it’s a lucrative biz.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I should add, sadly the laws changed before the person died. The family would probably had gotten the money that was left tax free anyway.
            The problem with these trusts is that you have to stay on top of the changes in the laws.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I was told here in the US there’s a max you can be given tax-free by one person per year without it being taxable…but I wasn’t the one in the position to be receiving the gift, so I don’t remember the cut-off amount.

        1. Ali G*

          I think it’s currently $13,500. This is how my siblings and I received our “portions” of my grandparents estate. My parents each wrote us a check for the max amount at the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

          1. Esmeralda*

            Yes. My in laws were doing some estate and tax planning some years ago and gave each of their adult children and their spouses the max gift a couple years in a row. We used ours for the down payment on our house=we did not have to get mortgage insurance.

          2. Natalie*

            This is a very common misunderstanding. That commonly quoted gift limit is the maximum you can give without having to *report* the gift to the IRS. Actual gift/inheritance tax doesn’t kick in until a person has given (currently) $5.5 million in *reportable* gifts. So the vast, vast majority of people can gift over that reporting limit and still pay no gift tax.

    3. Anon for this*

      Not quite the situation you asked about, but when my dad died he left everything to my cousins- not to me and my siblings. Our cousins filled out paperwork that said they were giving up any right to the inheritance. That allowed my siblings and I to inherit- like he was intestate I guess. Our cousins didn’t have to pay any gift tax etc, because they’d never inherited.

      1. Caroline Bowman*

        Obviously I don’t know the story or reasoning, but what a truly honest and decent thing your cousins did.

      2. Saturday anon*

        “Dying intestate”. I think this is what I was trying to say. The will is still legal but for practical purposes, it becomes an intestate situation.

        And I agree with CB, that sounds like your cousins did a decent thing. I hope it all worked out okay.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        There’s lots of good people out there who “get it”. They see stuff as the bs it actually is and they use their position to right the wrongs.

        For whatever reason my friend’s father left my friend everything and left her sister zilch. Sis needed money and my friend was comfortable. Going through laws and doing it all correctly, she made sure sis got her share of the estate. Some people just understand and act accordingly.

      4. Sleepless*

        Good on your cousins for doing the right thing. My husband has a brother and two half brothers. His dad disinherited my husband and his brother, leaving everything to the two half brothers. (Why? Spite. To have the last word. That’s how he chose to use the last time he would ever get to give instructions on this earth.) The half brothers were kind of “oh, huh, awkward…yeah, he probably didn’t mean it” but never offered to share anything with us. Whatever.

    4. Morning reader*

      Not exactly the same situation, but, when a close relative died, my (now adult) child was the life insurance beneficiary. We discovered among his papers that he had paperwork the he had not yet sent in changing the beneficiary to me. Although not official, his wishes seemed clear. Also, my child is in a better financial position than me and didn’t really need the money. We ended up putting it in a bank account with both our names on it. It’s technically her money, but I have access to it. (Adult child is also on my accounts and property so that when I die, transfers will be easy and avoid probate. This arrangeMent requires trust And it helps that I have only one offspring.) I have no idea how this affects taxes as the amounts were low, but probably it is technically a gift from child to me.

      1. Maxie's Mommy*

        A huge life insurance policy can “pay down” your estate, so if you’re single and worth $13M, you buy a life insurance policy for cash of $1,700,000. That gets your estate under the $11,400,000 threshold. And life insurance proceeds aren’t taxed.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I would think it is cheaper for the main heir to just inherit and gift the sibling their share after the estate is closed. But this requires everyone to trust everyone, and we know how that goes…
      It used to be here that a person could gift another person a once in a life time gift up to $1million. I am sure that cap has gone up. Then there are permissible tax free annual gifts with a much lower cap. Used to be $11k. That has probably gone up.

      Going the opposite way with an estate, I refused to receive my father’s house into my own holding. I said I wanted the estate to liquidate the property. Since I was the executor this was not a big deal. We had very little interest in the large property and we definitely did not have the income to support a second house. We could have ended up bankrupt if I insisted on keeping the house. I said, I wanted the house to be left in his estate and sold off. And that is what happened. It was a hard thing emotionally for me to do, but I had to do it.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Everyone trusting everyone: There are many functional families where this works just fine. In these families, the legalities are nearly irrelevant. Those kick in when one or more family member sees the death of Mom as an opportunity for a money grab. Or, in the case of a friend of mine, one sister responded to the death by backing the pickup to the garage and loading up as much stuff as she could. The weird thing is that she was the executor. There were much less tacky ways she could have accomplished the same thing, but with some people, backing the truck up to the garage and loading it up is the instinctive response.

        I am named as my Mom’s executor. It is a great relief that my family doesn’t do this kind of stuff. Some years ago she told me about my cousin, who needed massive dental work, essentially implants for her entire mouth, and asked what I thought about her helping out financially. I said of course! I thought it odd that she would ask. Only later did I realize that she was really asking how I felt about a slice of my inheritance going to my cousin. I assume she had the same discussion with my siblings. I would be shocked if they didn’t give the same response.

        1. Jay*

          My brother and I were co-executors of my mother’s will (my dad died ten years before my mom). The only arguments we had were of the “You take it,” “No, you take it,” “No, I really want you to have it” variety. He did all the business and legal work associated with managing the estate and the sale of the house. When we closed the estate account, I had to push him to take extra in payment for his time.

          We’re not close in the usual sense – we don’t visit back and forth much or even talk on the phone that often – but we love, trust, and respect each other. I’ve spent the last 15 years working in end-of-life care and I’ve seen so much dysfunction. It’s made me very grateful for the relationship we have.

    6. Not A Manager*

      In the U.S., I believe you are correct. The inheriting sibling can refuse the bequest – but that doesn’t mean that the parent died intestate and therefore the estate is divided according to law. It means that the inheriting sibling can refuse *their share* of the estate, and so whoever is named next in line will get that money. The will is interpreted as if the inheriting sibling had predeceased the parent, not as if the parent had died without a will. Whether the sibling accepts the inheritance or not, the estate will be taxed at whatever tax rate applies, and the remainder will go to whoever is named in the will.

      If the inheriting sibling chooses to accept their inheritance, they can still split it with the sibling, but it’s a taxable gift from one sibling to the other. So you are correct that, in general, a fair inheritance between the two siblings would be taxed once (in the estate), and an unfair inheritance that the favored sibling chooses to share would be taxed twice (in the estate and upon gift to the second sibling).

      BUT… in the U.S. there’s a quite generous amount that one can gift to other people during your life or at death, so unless the parent is quite wealthy there’s a good chance that the estate won’t be subject to federal tax at all. Similarly, unless the favored sibling is very wealthy and wants to preserve their own ability to gift their own money tax free during life or at death, the sibling also can use their tax-free gifting ability to gift the money to the other sibling. Finally, a smaller amount can be gifted each year tax free to various recipients without using up the lifetime exemption, so the sibling could make a series of smaller gifts each year tax free until the inheritance is evened out.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Not quite “next in line.” A specific bequest would become part of the residue, and a slice of the residue would simply go back into the pot. I don’t think “as if the inheriting sibling had predeceased” is quite right, as in that case the bequest would go to that person’s heirs.

    7. Ali G*

      So typically it’s hard to alter a will. However, it depends on how each person is treated. In your example, if the one child that receives little or nothing is actually named in the will and detailed what they received, it’s harder to contest (so Jane is named as receiving Dad’s llama figurine collection, while Sarah receives the entire remaining estate). Since Jane is specifically named and received something, she will find it harder to contest.
      When my mom’s mother died, we were all estranged from my aunt and her family (due to her stealing from my grandmom when she was alive and gutting her savings). Grandmom’s will did not mention my aunt or her children, so our lawyer advised my mom to send anyone that may try to contest the will (what little was left went to my mom) $1 as their portion of the estate. There was specific language regarding the “settling” of the estate that was intended to make it harder (or at least give that perception) to contest that they were due anything more.

    8. fposte*

      In addition to what people are saying about the high threshold on the gift tax, inheritance tax generally requires a pretty high bar as well. Many states don’t tax inheritances at all, and the threshold federally is over $5 million. Therefore the tax consequences on taxable assets of a sibling doing such an act may well be minimal.

      However, if any of those assets are tax-deferred—401k, traditional IRA, etc.—and only one kid is a named beneficiary, that’s where it’ll bite. To be shared with a non-beneficiary all or part of the assets will need to become taxable (assuming you don’t have enough cash lying around to give the sib the equivalent of half without cashing out some of the account). So if you’re the sole beneficiary on your mom’s $1 million IRA and you want to give $500k to your scapegrace sibling, taking $500k out means it is taxable as this year’s income (roughly, 35% if you’re single) and it not only will enrich the IRS more than spreading it out (though you can’t spread nearly as long now), it may trigger other taxes, fees, eligibilities, etc. And do you take those out of the sibling’s share, absorb them, or split them?

      So if you’re going to do this, it’ll be easier if you’re inheriting a nice chunk of taxable funds. So get right on that :-).

    9. Generic Name*

      That’s a good question. My dad was the executor for his mom’s estate, and from what I could tell, the executor has pretty broad powers. For example, I inherited a ruby ring from grandma, and my cousin got a wooden egg carved by my late uncle (cousin’s dad). My grandmother meant it kindly because I’m sure the egg had a great deal of meaning for my grandmother, but my dad felt that it might feel unfair to my cousin, so he gave cousin a cash amount (a few thousand maybe?) as well. But that’s less than the amount that triggers a gift tax. Also, weirdly, the person taxed when the gift tax comes into play is the giver and not the recipient.

      1. Anax*

        A good thing that the gift tax goes that way, I imagine, though!

        Imagine you were given a very expensive but functionally unsellable item – say, I don’t know, diamond-encrusted roller skates. You can’t recoup any money by selling it, because no one wants to buy it – but since it’s theoretically valuable, the IRS now wants $10,000 in cash, which you may not have. You are now homeless with very fancy roller skates.

        Like, if it’s cash or something which can be reasonably split, it doesn’t really matter how the tax goes – but if it’s a physical object, I think it makes more sense for the giver to be paying that cash rather than the recipient. Right?

    10. Fellow Traveller*

      When my father in law passed, my husband and his sister knew that FIL had wanted to leave his sister (their Aunt) something but never got around to it. My husband and sister wanted to split the estate three ways. The lawyers said that they could not adjust the terms of the will and had to each take their half share and gift to their Aunt what they wanted.
      Not sure what the tax implications are because Aunt has now cut off communication. But we are keeping her share of our inheritance in a separate bank account in case she ever comes around.

    11. Wishing You Well*

      In the U.S., I’ve had to work a lot with my lawyer on my will. A properly written will CANNOT be ignored or altered by a court or executor without legal consequences. An heir can refuse their share legally; sometimes this is a good idea. BUT after the estate is dispersed, heirs can do what they want with their share, including give it away. At that point, it’s a gift, not an inheritance.
      A relative, executor of her mother’s estate, is going to inherit it all. Her brother is getting nothing – for good reasons. My cousin plans to settle the estate, then give her brother half. This defies her mother’s wishes but it’s legal. If her gift to her brother is more than $15,000 in 2020, she’ll have to file a gift tax form and pay gift taxes.
      There’s estate taxes and there’s gift taxes. People might have to pay both if they act without proper legal advice.

      1. Coffee time!*

        Yes people are weird and not always fair. My dad cut my sisters and I out of the will so only my brother got stuff. We didn’t fight it because he was out of our lives anyways. Dh parents at least were 50/50 with him and his sister. I know dh Aunt’s will caused problems but only cus the people involved were the problem. She was always a very clear forthright person so no surprises. And all 10 people in the will got a certain percentage all listed and everyone knew what it was..closer relatives got more. Dh sister would deny his mom got money when it came to paying for care..and apparently one cousin stopped talking to her siblings cus they got $2k and they got $3k. fact that they were given a car by aunt and used to put their stuff on her card too when they shopped for her..she knew…didn’t matter. I remember one friend saying the aunt locked them out of fathers place saying you are both adopted so you don’t matter. not what the will or father thought!

      2. Disinhereted*

        I wrote below about being disinherited by my step-mother, but my parents were divorced years ago,and my mother is still living. I will be the executor of her will AND stand to inherit money. I have a suspicion my mother is favoring me in her will because I do a lot of care-giving for her, but I’m right about that, I will definitely give some to one sibling who needs it. I would do this as a gift from my inheritance – not as the executor of the estate. So complicated!

    12. Disinhereted*

      My father’s will left everything to my step-mother and they agreed she would leave it to the combined five children evenly. (Three of his kids, and two of hers). The grandchildren were also to get equal amounts but less. After my father died, my step-mother changed the will to favor her grandchildren over my father’s. Before she died she changed it again to disinherit me and give my two kids a tiny sum. (Think two week’s salary for an entry level jobs My father had been worth millions and really wanted to leave his grandchildren money.) My two siblings each got a fraction of what my father wanted them to get, probably because my step-mother was afraid they’d share it with me which they had both offered to do. My two step-siblings got all the (substantial) money and assets.

      I truthfully never thought my siblings and I would be dividing my father’s estate evenly with my step-siblings so it’s not like I was blindsided by any of this. But to answer the question of the OP here, one sibling ended up setting aside money for my kids at my suggestion when sharing it was offered to me. One of my kids has been given the money to pay back a school loan, and the other is “owed” it by my sibling until it is needed. My sibling and their partner wrote personal checks to me and my child for less than the amount that would have triggered a gift tax, and I gave mine to my child. So it was all very informal and friendly – no lawyers involved.

      My other sibling did not end up sharing with me because honestly, when they originally made that offer they had no idea how little they’d be inheriting. They need it much more than I do.

    13. Another JD*

      1. Most people don’t understand how federal gift taxes work. If you give someone more than the annual exclusion amount ($15,000 for 2020), then you have to file a gift tax return. It is merely an FYI to the IRS that you have made the gift. THE GIVER DOES NOT OWE GIFT TAX UNLESS THEY GIVE AWAY MORE THAN (currently) $11.58 MILLION IN THEIR LIFETIME. This means that for most people, you can give away half your inheritance with no federal tax consequences.

      2. Only a handful of states have an inheritance tax, and many of them exempt certain classes of heirs from tax, i.e. spouses and children. In MD, the collateral inheritance tax is 10% which comes out of the share of the recipient (unless the will directs taxes to be paid off the top). Collateral heirs are further removed from the deceased’s blood line or unrelated, i.e. nieces and nephews and friends.

      3. It depends on the jurisdiction, but in some places you can do a family settlement agreement to settle litigation if all heirs agree and the court blesses it.

    14. Saturday anon*

      Thank you for all the answers! It’s interesting to me how it works.

      In practical terms I’m not going to ever have enough to trigger the tax issues but I can see if I did, I’d definitely need a lawyer.

  2. AnonAnon*

    I’ve been seeing more and more references to ADHD in women, on this blog and others. Do any of you have sources for more information where I could look into this (I’ve done a Google – but I don’t really see myself reflected in the WebMD pages, etc.)? I really struggle with distraction and attention, in ways that became more pronounced after a traumatic event two years ago. To be clear, I’m spending 5-10+ hours on the Internet procrastinating or watching television/Netflix – it’s bad.
    Due to my present circumstances (I have a LOT of time on my hands) I’m not even able to force myself to do my fun hobbies. I’ve become incredibly disorganized. This isn’t me! I feel so lazy and unmotivated and it’s hard when there’s people telling me to rest and not be too hard on myself when I can see the amount of time I’ve been on my phone or computer and missing things I cannot afford to miss! I told a doctor a few years ago about the television ‘addiction’ and he said it was hard because it’s made to be addictive – I know this.
    What does ADHD look like in women? Have you had any experience with this?
    Really appreciate any answers – thank you.

    1. Anonbeth*

      I’ll be following this to see what else is recommended. These are some I’ve read myself or have heard are good:
      -Driven to Distraction by Dr. Edward Hallowell (and his other books)
      -Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD by Susan Pinsky
      -ADDitude website (articles and quiz self evals)
      -You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?! by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo
      -René Brooks on twitter

      You might also want to read up on executive dysfunction, which can be part of ADHD but can also be part of depression or other things. Getting stuck on your phone/tv when you don’t want to be sounds executive dysfunctiony to me. Some else of what you’ve described, like not doing hobbies you like, sound like they could be depression symptoms instead of or as well as ADHD (depression is often comorbid with ADHD). And since you mention a traumatic event, I’ll just throw it out there that PTSD may be worth reading up on. My therapist recommended the book Meditations for Healing Trauma by Louanne Davis.

      Good luck. You’re not lazy.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        I want to second this. I also like the How to ADHD channel on YouTube.

        AnonAnon, you say: “This isn’t me!” and mention your struggles got worse after a traumatic event a few years ago. I’m not clear on how bad you felt your struggles were prior to that event, but ADHD is lifelong, so if your struggles with attention were managable up until a that event, I wouldn’t suggest it as your first port of call. (I wouldn’t eliminate it, necessarily, but anxiety, depression and PTSD don’t always look as we see them portrayed in popular media, and self-soothing activities like TV could absolutely be symtompatic of those.)

        That said, I’m happy to tell you how it’s looked for me:

        I’ve always been very fidgety and distractable. I have never been able to sit still, and I have always exercised or walked several times a day to manage my “springiness”. I got special excemption from ‘quiet time’ in grade school because I was too antsy. (With my psychiatrist I got to do a test once where they measured my activity while using a software designed to test my focus. Then they compared how I moved with the general population. The movements were all graphed out – it was pretty cool to see. Anyways. I move a lot more than the average person, even sitting down and working on a task.)

        I am an avid daydreamer, and often think of myself as having a movie in the background of my mind pretty much all the time. I can keep a vivid daydream going for hours, even as I do other things. A key hallmark here is that I daydream a lot no matter what. I daydream a lot when things are rough and I’m bored….but I also do it a lot when I’m happy and engaged in interesting activities.

        I struggle with impulse control and often want to make big life changes based on limited information.

        I have trouble moderating my volume and enthusiasm levels.

        I’m very poor at estimating time, both how long it will take to do things, but also my internal clock for how much time has passed is terrible to the point of non-existant.

        I can be very talkative. When I was a kid, in particular, I really struggled with this.

        I can have outsized emotional reactions to things that don’t always feel in proportion to how I view things intellectually. In particular, I do very poorly with rejection.

        I do my best work in environments where I am dealing with people face to face, and where there is a lot of natural chunking of work. So for example, my current role has me meeting with clients for about 45 minutes at a time. (Pre-pandemic, these meetings would often take place in different rooms/buildings, so there is a lot of natural movement.) In between meetings, I can go for a walk, do some paperwork, have a snack, and then another client meeting.

        I also did very well in retail enviornments, places where you’re on your feet and dealing with immediate needs.

        I don’t do my best in roles where I’m alone in front of a computer for long periods of time.


        Good luck, AnonAnon! I hope you are able to find a path to what you need.

        1. RagingADHD*

          This is a great experiential description. I relate to a lot of it, except that my “H” tends to come out as hyperfocus rather than fidgeting, and while I am quick to have emotional reactions that also fade quickly, I don’t really have the rejection-sensitivity many ADHDer’s do.

          My impulsivity comes out most often as blurting random or uncomfortable thoughts, and as a lack of volume control when talking. I will sometimes make tasks or projects much harder than they need to be, by impulsively changing my approach or method in the middle of things.

          I prefer quiet work, because I am easily distracted from tasks and forget what I was doing. With quiet I can hyperfocus and get a lot done, but I tend to lose track of time. I can feel a big difference in my mode of consciousness when I work on analog things vs digital, such as reading/writing on paper vs on the computer.

          As a kid/young adult, I could process information on multiple channels at once, such as reading a novel during class and still being able to answer questions correctly. When I was in plays, I could nap during rehearsal and wake up in time for my cue. I can’t do that kind of thing anymore, probably because some of my other symptoms have gotten worse. I still receive all the info, but I can’t keep up with it.

          I make wrong turns a lot while driving, because I have difficulty holding a mental map, even when I know the area well. Things in my head move around. I also make wrong turns because of preoccupation. I use GPS to go pretty much anywhere that I go less than 1x per week. The voice prompts keep me from spacing out.

          I find all kinds of routine maintenance, such as housework, bill-paying, meal planning, exercise, to be very difficult to do on a consistent, regular schedule – partly because of lack of motivation, and partly because of not knowing what day it is.

          Having my dx has been extremely helpful in getting systems in place to support the things that are hard to do, and with not wasting energy on guilt or blame.

    2. Owler*

      Someone on this blog once mentioned “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Inattentive Type in Adults”, so maybe see if some googling with that terminology helps?

      “People with ADHD of the inattentive type have trouble paying attention to details, are easily distracted, often have trouble organizing or finishing tasks and often forget routine chores (such as paying bills on time or returning phone calls).”

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        This is the type of ADHD I have! My daughter had the kind with hyperactivity, that people associate more with boys but is NOT exclusive to boys. I learned about inattentive ADHD when I was researching to figure out how to help her, and it explained so many things about my life, starting with why my grades in school were always all over the place. Adults were always telling me what a smart kid I was, and I FELT smart in some ways. But smart kids are “supposed” to make, like, stellar grades, aren’t they? And I could never pull that off somehow. So was I really smart or not? I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me, and it was so frustrating, for so many years….

    3. Princess Deviant*

      I’m not officially diagnosed with ADHD (I’ve just been through 18 months of autism assessment – can’t cope with it!) but I have found a few blogs helpful. I will post a link in the reply for a blog from clinical-partners dot co dot uk.

      When I got my austism assessment, I wrote a list of all the ways I was having difficulties according to the triad of impairments, and used it to provide ‘evidence’ for my GP. Perhaps using the various blogs you read specific to women might help you narrow down a more detailed list of difficulties you are having that will help convince your GP to send you for an assessment. All the best.

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          Great article! I saw SO much of myself in it. Thanks for the link.

          AnonAnon, I hope it’s helpful to you, too. Thanks for starting this thread!

    4. Not A Manager*

      You mention a traumatic event. I am not a doctor, but I believe I’ve heard about depression or anxiety worsening ADHD. If you’re exploring ADHD you might also consider whether you have some depression as well.

      1. Autumnheart*

        Trauma and stress can also disrupt executive function. Brain fog, procrastinating, inability to start or complete tasks, that sort of thing. The cause is external as opposed to internal (non-typical brain wiring) but the result is the same. If you’re in the US, this is affecting a lot of people right now as we deal with COVID and current events.

        I’d say it’s worth speaking to a professional about it. Whether it’s trauma or ADHD, they can help you figure it out, but in the meantime, they can also help you with some coping mechanisms so you can get things done.

        I have ADHD and these are the things that help me the most:

        1. An external calendar with reminders. Put your stuff in the calendar immediately when you schedule it, so you don’t have time to forget.
        2. A whiteboard in an easily seen place (mine is at eye level on my fridge) where you can quickly jot down and cross off tasks that you need to do.
        3. People have differing comfort levels with these, but for me, a smart assistant (Echo Dot in my case) is invaluable. I can create artificial urgency with timers, set reminders that tell me with an actual voice, “Don’t forget to put this in your bag” or “You have a dentist appointment tomorrow,” keep a running grocery list, and so on.

        Break your tasks down into easy chunks that can be completed in 5-10 minutes. For example, don’t write “Clean the house”, write “Clean the toilets” “Dust the living room” and “Empty the trash”. If you get interrupted, you’ll know where you left off, and it’s satisfying to see that you’re still doing several things a day. Part of the whole procrastination thing is feeling overwhelmed, and you can cut through that if you can look at it as a bunch of small things instead of one big thing.

        I also really like the Pomodoro Technique, where you basically set a timer for 25 minutes and bust through as many things as you can in that 25 minutes. Then you take a break (5-10 minutes) and then you do another 25. I get SO much done with this. I even like to do a variation where I’ll do an hour of gaming (insert TV watching or web surfing, whatever your leisure activity is) and then 20 minutes of tasks. Over the course of the day, sure, I might play games for 8 hours, but I also did 2 hours of stuff, and that’s a lot.

        The combination of the running task list, the Pomodoro technique, and the scheduled reminders, have just made an unbelievable difference in my life. I certainly forget things and procrastinate plenty, but I Get Shit Done(tm) and that’s the important thing. Don’t be afraid to rely on technology to help you out. That’s what it’s there for!

    5. pancakes*

      A book I’ve seen recommended and read brief excerpts of that may be helpful: Smart but Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD by Thomas E. Brown.

    6. jotab*

      Try the books Side Tracked Home Executives by Pam Young and Peggy Jones. Their books literally saved my life! They use the terms BO – born organized and SHE – side tracked home executives. Helped me to focus on one task at a time – and to break down the larger tasks into small easy to do chunks. The spin-off if you prefer websites & email ticklers is Fly Lady.
      It has helped me tremendously in my work life to have things accomplished well before deadlines and to get my house in order. I feel so much better when I’m not surrounded by piles of “jobs to do” and clutter.
      I’ve also put my fun hobbies aside and need some motivation to get going again. I’m just this week working on setting aside the computer games/shows and enjoying life again. It’s hard!

    7. Hello Me*

      I don’t have an adult ADHD diagnosis, but I was diagnosed with ADD as a child and not much was done about it. I function well when I have outside structure: school, job, limited time, etc. The rest of the time the lights stay on, the people get fed, and anything that screams loud enough gets addressed, but not much else. I’m in the same position as you right now; a lot of time, a lot of ideas, and little motivation. I have made progress, though. I’m about a couple months ahead of you so I’ll share what I’ve done so far.

      I got an antidepressant prescription from my Dr back in June. I have diagnosed GAD and OCD but have been able to “function” unmedicated for years. One thing the SSRI has done for me is clear the fog in my head and help me “hear” myself, my former therapists, and all those mental health articles I read. I’m able to take baby steps towards my goals. One of my goals for years has been to pursue an ADHD evaluation, since many people don’t outgrow their childhood diagnosis. Since starting the SSRI, I’ve been able to clearly see how well my struggles fit into an ADHD framework. I am convinced I have it, but my diagnosis is based on internet evaluations. I have an appointment with my Dr next week to discuss my options. (it was a hard fight with my anxiety to understand I need this and deserve it)

      I started investigating my ADHD with Jessica of HowToADHD on YouTube. She’s fun to watch, informative, empathetic, and welcoming. I also found a funny “diagnose yourself” video by Rick of TotallyADD that was eye opening. These two collaborate often and their most recent video, “And Even More… 4 More Myths About ADHD”, is on TotallyADD’s YouTube channel. There’s links to get you started in the description and you can look at both their feeds for topics of interest. ADDitude magazine is a good resource as well.

      The tools I’ve found useful so far are a 90 day skill challenge achievement (sticker) chart by HowToADHD. I’m on day 26 for my task! I also use a bullet journal, Tomato Timer (phone Pomodoro app), and I’m working on implementing a block schedule. I have my sticker chart for my most important thing, but I have two other really important things and I wasn’t sure if I should create a new sticker chart for the three or try to set-up a block schedule structure. I’m starting with the block but I may do a sticker chart as well. That visual is a nice motivator. Owaves, and blocky time lite are two block schedule apps I’ve downloaded to my phone (and that’s about all I’ve done so far), but you can also create something using a calendar app and reminders. Jordan Paige of FunCheaporFree has a good explanation and template for setting up a paper block schedule. They’re all the rage right now so you can find many guides. I’m seeing a lot of potentially useful college/school organization videos in my feed as well. And you can probably google to find other people’s block schedules and pick one to start with. (Since getting started is probably hard for you.) Regular exercise is also helpful for ADHD symptoms…I’m working on that one. I use podcasts and fun music to tear myself away from visual media. The sound entertains my brain and frees my body to move.

      Most important: You’re not lazy! ADHD is misnamed, it’s more of an executive function disorder than an attention disorder. I’ve gotten such a boost from recognizing the symptoms in me and realizing how I’ve structured my life to accommodate them. Some thing I try to address, like getting stuff done. Other things, like my time blindness in the grocery store, I acknowledge and make room for. I’ll likely never be able to shop on a deadline and I enjoy it too much to try.

      It’s not your fault…it’s how your brain is structured. (watch HowToADHD’s video that’s likely titled “If You Have ADHD”)

      It’s not all bad…ADHDers are often creative, funny, smart, empathetic, and able to hyperfocus. As Jessica would say…Welcome to the tribe!

      1. Anonbeth*

        “I use podcasts and fun music to tear myself away from visual media. The sound entertains my brain and frees my body to move.”

        You described this so well! I do exactly the same thing. I have a couple widgets on my phone home screen that will immediately start playing a podcast or live radio, so I don’t (am less likely to) get stuck on the way to opening the app.

        1. Autumnheart*

          I listen to audiobooks for this reason too. I’ve always been a voracious reader, because I crave the constant input stream that a book provides. Audiobooks fill that need without requiring my eyeballs. Makes housework and stuff so much more enjoyable! It’s also a good transitional medium for sleep hygiene–the screen goes off, but the story continues.

    8. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’ve posted on this before so I just googled my AAM name and “ADHD” in the AAM “Search this site” box. (Talk about a weird experience.) This may or may not be my best work but I didn’t want to search further:

      Notes: 1. I didn’t say at the time that Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D. is an expert on ADHD/ADD in girls and women.
      2. My qualifications: being one parent of a young adult with ADHD and realizing in late middle age that I have it also without the “H.”
      3. It’s not always easy, but it can be lived with and it’s not all bad being neurodiverse.
      Good wishes and welcome to the group. :-)

    9. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Psychology Today has lots of self-assessment questionnaires on their website that you can take as a starting point, too.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Late-diagnosed adult ADHD, here.

      Best books specific to women I’ve read are Queens of Distraction and You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?

      Best resource on identifying which executive skills you struggle with vs which are strengths (we all have both) is Smart But Scattered. It’s directed at parents of ADHD kids, but the explanations & assessments are more thorough than in the version for adults.

      ADHD traits are lifelong. They don’t appear out of nowhere after a trauma. However, they are normal human traits on a spectrum of intensity. So it’s possible for a person to have the traits at a manageable level, or do invisible work to compensate for them, and then a change in circumstances or another condition like depression can increase the intensity or remove their ability to compensate. That’s when they tip over the threshold into a disorder.

      Trauma, anxiety and depression on their own can compromise executive function. So can some physical conditions and sleep disorders. So if you read these books and don’t recognize a lifelong pattern of traits, it’s probably EFD caused by something else.

      ADHD is currently defined in 3 subtypes: Primarily Hyperactive, Primarily Inattentive, and Combined. Does what it says on the tin.

      At one time it was believed that boys & men were more likely to have PH, and girls & women more likely to have PI. That’s changing somewhat, as it’s being recognized that hyperactivity can manifest as hyperfocus, racing thoughts, or talkativeness/blurting rather than physical activity. Women tend to these forms of H.

      A lot of folks now see more of a bell curve, with most people Combined, and the sex-based prevalence of PH and PI tapering off to the extremes.

      The WHO has published an assessment that can help you see & talk about the impact of your symptoms. Look up WHO ADHD Self-Report Scale. You should be able to download it as a PDF, so don’t get bogged down in any web-based proprietary quizzes.

      I’d also advise you to use an incognito window when you search, or you will get inundated with ads for every half-baked woo merchant trying to sell magic apps and supplements to “cure” ADHD.

      Unfortunately, one of the most prevalent pitfalls of ADHD is magical thinking. We are easily persuaded that this one silver bullet (app, pill, diet, organization system, planner) will fix all our problems, forever. And there are a lot of people making money off that.

      The 3 most powerful things you can do today/this week to improve your executive function (whether you have ADHD or not) are

      1) practice sleep hygeine and get 7+ hours of quality sleep.

      2) Eat 5+ servings of plants per day and avoid highly processed foods.

      3) Spend at least 20 minutes outside in natural light and green space, preferably getting moderate exercise. More is better.

      All 3 of these things have clinical evidence showing a signifucant improvement in symptoms, quickly. Improved sleep shows benefit within 24 hours. Green time shows improvement instantly.

      Obviously, executive dysfunction makes it really hard to do these things and stick to them! This is the catch-22. If you have the ability to gin yourself up for a big push, it is totally worth it for these 3 things, especially sleep. The effort pays you back 10x.

    11. lazy intellectual*

      I also really like the How to ADHD channel on YouTube. The person who hosts it (Jessica) is female. But I will be following this thread for other recs! There are so few resources out there for adult females with ADHD.

    12. Potatoes gonna potate*

      To be clear, I’m spending 5-10+ hours on the Internet procrastinating or watching television/Netflix – it’s bad.
      Due to my present circumstances (I have a LOT of time on my hands) I’m not even able to force myself to do my fun hobbies. I’ve become incredibly disorganized. This isn’t me! I feel so lazy and unmotivated and it’s hard when there’s people telling me to rest and not be too hard on myself when I can see the amount of time I’ve been on my phone or computer and missing things I cannot afford to miss!

      I literally could have written this! In fact I was going to but glad I read this. I find myself spending hours browsing on my phone when I should be sleeping. I did a bit of reading on ED a long time ago and even reached out to my therapist about ADD/ADHD/ED but didn’t get anywhere. Everyone says “sleep when the baby sleeps” but I find myself staying up for hours after she’s asleep just being on my phone. Everything you’ve written, I’ve been feeling….

      1. ampersand*

        Oooh yes! I can relate. I was diagnosed after having a baby—I knew I was different than most people but held it together for years until the stress of having a kid meant I could no longer ignore whatever was going on with me. Turned out to be ADHD, and medication and being aware of what’s challenging for me/working with it and not fighting it has helped immensely. Before getting a diagnosis I thought I wasn’t trying hard enough—now I know that my brain is not set up to (and literally cannot) succeed in certain situations, and I do the best I can while reminding myself of that.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My Dr simplified it as ADD saying the hyper-active part just isn’t there.
      Except… in grade school I got int trouble for being too bouncy. I remember substituting piano drills with my fingers on the desk and getting in trouble for “drumming my fingers.” I substituted tapping my teeth in patterns and as soon as I left my hometown dentists started asking if I ground my teeth at night. It wasn’t until very recently I learned this is the same thing–I’ve worn down my teeth in places and may need crowns in the future. I was diagnosed with depression as an adult (‘medication-resistant’) and after starting the ADD meds was able to come off the antidepressants. My house is more organized when I take my meds, and I don’t bite my fingernails as much.
      I survived decades of school & work by learning to channel my hyper focus…and it gave me deadline problems because I can’t always do it.

    14. ShortT*

      I was diagnosed with severe combined ADHD this past spring at the ripe age of forty-one. I have every single symptom listed in the DSM-5, plus emotional dysregulation. I can’t remember the last time I received a perfect score on anything.

      I recommend checking YouTube for lectures by Dr. Umesh Jain, MD and Dr. Russell Barkley, PhD, as well as any books by them.

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going.
    I’m still chugging along with the occasional short prompt when I find the time for it. Who knows, some of these ideas may end up in another work some day.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      What I like about this recurring thread is that it’s expansive for whatever writing we’re doing, which in my case is a blog that has the same the title as my user name here. After an extended break, I resumed posting again this year. My photography has been consistently taking the lead, with sparse words fitting in around the images. I was missing having it be the other way around, and it feels wonderful to reconnect with the inspiration to write this week and create something I’m pleased with. I’m realizing I need to create more space in my life to make it happen more often.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      I should shortly receive the page proofs for an article, on the baseball war of 1882 between the National League and the American Association. That is the only project I have that if fully live. I am working on a subsequent piece, on the baseball war of 1884 between the NL and AA on one side, and the Union Association on the other. There is no real deadline for this, as it is merely a question of what issue it would end up in.

      On the book front, I have had some discussions with University of Missouri Press for a history of baseball through 1870. I hope to submit a formal proposal next spring, which will include a few chapters. The first draft of the first chapter is almost done.

      The other book project is on the non-colorful vocabulary of baseball–Not slang, but the words used simply to communicate. Much of this vocabulary doesn’t really make sense when you think about it. To strike something is to hit it. So why is it called a strike when you swing and miss, or don’t even try to hit a ball over the plate? That sort of thing. I was offered a contract from a small press. I was unwilling to sign the contract they sent, and they were unwilling to discuss the matter. I regard this as a bullet dodged. I haven’t looked elsewhere. I may self-publish this one.

    3. Lyudie*

      Because I am insane, I have been considering starting a micro-fiction project with a dark fantasy sort of bent. I haven’t decided for sure if I want to put it out into the world (or where, or in what form) or if anyone would even care. I am sure a zillion people throw this sort of thing into the ether all the time and my imposter syndrome is hitting me hard on this. I think I will try writing up a few things that I already have ideas for, and if I get enough decent stuff built up I will create a WordPress or something for it. I am bad about wanting to start big projects then abandoning it :-p

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Slogging through worldbuilding. Yeesh. The things you have to think about (everything) that probably won’t even make it into the story. It’s even harder without having magic. Everything has already been invented. I’m using an SFWA guide by Patricia Wrede to work it out.

      And for the next project I have planned, I’ll have to start over and do it all again. LOL but it’s fun. I have no idea what I’m doing. Oh well. Just giving it a whirl.

      Not sure now if I’m doing NaNoWriMo or not; probably not, since I have some career training coming up. I might do it early next year instead and call it JaNoWriMo, lol. Either way, I do plan to write an outline before November 1.

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    I’m still on Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, hoping to finish that either this weekend or next week. I’m qbou halfway through, so I’m doing pretty okay.

    1. Holly the spa pro*

      I finished Spiritfarer last week and now im languishing. Right now, im living in the future with my excitement for rune factory 5 and stardew valley couch coop. Im absolutely looking for present day suggestions for games to try!

    2. DarthVelma*

      We’re torn. The partner and I are really excited for the Halloween event going on in Elder Scrolls Online…but we also just got our copy of Aliens: Bug Hunt in the mail yesterday. We’ve also got Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps on pre-order. I have a feeling once the ESO Halloween even is over and I’ve finished the main story quest, that we’re going to be back to tabletop gaming for a while.

    3. Beancat*

      The Crown Tundra expansion for Pokémon just came out, so that’ll be keeping me busy for a while! I’m also gearing up for the Halloween event in Animal Crossing. I’ve made so many pumpkin things the last two weeks to the point my villagers are starting to comment on it, haha!

    4. SunshineDaisies*

      I spend a bit of time playing Pikuniku, a rather odd puzzle and adventure game. I also got a Halloween costume game (haven’t played it yet, so can’t speak to what it’s like) for free on Epic.

    5. All the cats 4 me*

      Ugh, I got stuck in Bertram Fiddle episode 2 and gave up for now.

      I am working into Inner World, and it looks like I am stuck in the hiddey-hole beneath the stage. Can’t find anything that works and am too stubborn to google it.

      Still working on learning to play bridge, getting a lot of game play in against bots and not doing too badly even tho bidding is not my strong suit, but it is not helping improve my skill in bidding. Also found out that the only person I know that plays bridge uses ACOL system, which isn’t the system I am meant to be learning!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Haven’t had much time because of the place that we don’t mention on weekends so in Guild Wars 2 I’m behind the family in Dragonfall events & the skyscale quest.
      My husband’s been logging into my account to craft charged quartz crystals so the one-a-day part didn’t fall behind.
      Friday night I got to play some of the Halloween events….the guy with the chainsaw is NOT FUN, too hard to avoid for my slow moving character. There’s got to be a trick we haven’t found yet.

      1. Nessun*

        There’s no trick for Steve, just go in with a zerg and kill him while you’re not opening any other doors. He downs everyone, but he’ll go down with enough dps. The lich you stack and cc, the discount you get candy coated, but chainsaw wielding Steve you either chip away at or run from…and he chases you everywhere.

    7. Dr.KMnO4*

      Finished my Fire Emblem: Three Houses Golden Deer playthrough. I am so impressed at how different the endings are in the various paths. When I first saw my husband play FE:3H I never thought I would play it, much less enjoy it. But I love it! I’m glad that I picked up the DLC.

      A board game I’ve played recently, and that I absolutely love, is Villainous. The central premise is that you are a Disney villain and you are trying to accomplish your nefarious objective. Since all the objectives are different, playing each villain is a unique experience.

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        Oooo ive been thinking of getting three houses because i loved fire emblem:fates so much! Have you played the other fire emblem games? If so, how does this one stack up?

      2. Jackalope*

        I heard this recommendation in this thread a few months ago and last week just asked my husband for this game as my Christmas present. I’m excited about playing it!

      3. Laura H.*

        That one was my first one. (And honestly my favorite of the ones I’ve done)

        I still have one black eagles route to complete and another to play through.

        I’m a little slow plus Pokémon and ACNH are also fun to play right now. Thankfully FE3H is easily re-pickup-able after an absence.

    8. Holly the spa pro*

      Update: i decided to get story of seasons:friends of mineral town because i loved the gba version. I love that they did a complete re-do of the art style and added some new townspeople. I wish that they would have updated the graphics in the rune factory 4 port but i digress.
      Im just getting started but my one complaint so far is that they made the portrait art of the characters a lot younger looking (or maybe im old af and everything is baby to me?) So now when im giving gifts to my would-be beau, i feel like im flirting with a child since they all look 8 years old.

  5. KoriCat*

    Wedding advice, please!

    I’m getting married soon (very small, outdoors, every COVID safety protocol etc.) but between the normal stress of planning a wedding and the stress of planning and re-planning one (multiple times) during a pandemic, my spouse-to-be and I are feeling sad and guilty for wanting it to be over with. Plus, it feels like a strange time to be outwardly excited about things, with all the anxiety in the world. We’re very much in love and excited for the marriage part but are over the wedding. What tips do you have for enjoying our wedding day once it arrives?

    1. allathian*

      Good luck with your wedding and congratulations on your impending marriage.

      I would recommend keeping things as simple as possible. At least you have the perfect excuse for a small wedding. My guess is that many couples just want the wedding to be over, at some point you just get tired of managing this project and want to see it done. With all the rescheduling, you’ve had to do the same work over and over, which isn’t helping.

      Your happiness doesn’t take anything away from anyone else, so you have every right to enjoy your special day. It just goes to show that life goes on, even when things are tough.

    2. Owler*

      Yes, congratulations! I agree with allathlian about keeping things simple. If someone offers help and it’s helpful help (grin), let them do the task with your blessing and let it go.

      See anything that goes badly as a sign of good luck for your marriage. “Rain on your wedding day is good luck!” was my mantra to the bride at an outdoor wedding where everything had to be rearranged because of the unexpected torrents of water coming from the skies.

    3. Zooey*

      I got married in non pandemic times so it was a bit different but I found all the stress and worry melted away on the day itself. Two tips for helping that happen:

      1. Have someone who is the go to problem solver on the day. If there’s a snag it shouldn’t be you who solves it. Pick a reliable person (or pay a professional) and then just trust they’ll solve it.

      2. Remember that it is a genuine joy for people to celebrate your happiness and that people value that even more in these hard times. It’s not wrong to be joyful in this context – it’s essential and will lift up those around you. The best thing about my wedding day was feeling that the people around me were all thrilled for me and wishing me well.

      1. SunshineDaisies*

        Seconding #1 here. Pick or hire a person whose job that day is to make sure everything goes smoothly, and start telling people to direct questions or issues to that person instead of you. Delegate. Deputize. Get things off your plate. If a problem will go away if you throw money at it, do it and consider it well spent.

        1. Squeakrad*

          I second paying for someone to keep track of all the stuff that short of a planner, just someone who on the day can field any questions that come up. But don’t make it a guest – I’ve been to a couple of weddings were a guest was deputized to do this – not even someone in the wedding party – and they spent most of the wedding and reception taken care of problems.

      2. Pippa K*

        Came here to say the same thing as Zooey’s point 2 – it’s not just that you have a right to your happy moments, it’s also that adding a bit of joy to the world in tough times will give other people pleasure too. Best wishes! I hope you enjoy the occasion!

    4. Caroline Bowman*

      The thing to remember is this; it will never come back. So yes, OBVIOUSLY the timing isn’t ideal and you cannot be blamed for just wanting to get the whole thing over and done, but if you’re considering having just the cheapest of something or the thing you truly want (and can afford), have the nice thing. That could be flowers, wine, cake, whatever it is. A simple wedding is very often nicer than a huge complicated affair, but keep the details that are important to you and your fiance central. What others may think is irrelevant. You want a certain piece of music or a string quartet or only yellow daisies and your pet alpaca as ring-bearer, that’s what happens. It’s one day where the two of you are priority. The big caveat now is of course safety for yourselves, your guests and service providers so that may change things, but that aside, your wedding = what YOU want. Best of luck and congratulations!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Get the wedding YOU guys want. Not the wedding others think you should have. Added wrinkle, don’t do things just because you “think you should”. If you don’t want to do a given part or want a small wedding or whatever, don’t force yourselves into these scenarios you do not want.

      I have never like the bouquet/garter toss. In some ways I thought it was kinda gross. So we skipped that part. And there were other parts we skipped. We ended up with an event that was comfortable for us and we felt more reflected who we are.

    6. Not A Manager*

      What’s the point of enduring hardship if people don’t take joy when they can? I think the best, most noble thing you can do is to make a wonderful, meaningful celebration of something that is genuinely worth celebrating. Please don’t feel guilty about that. You’re not being a bridezilla or asking people to treat your wedding as more important than the virus. You’re asking people to share your legitimate joy at a time that can otherwise be very dark.

      My tip for enjoying your wedding day is to center its meaning to you – don’t get so distracted by the details that you forget why you’re having this celebration. Whether it’s about your religious tradition, or your community values, or your hope for the future, try to see the day as being an expression of all of the reasons you are choosing to marry this person in this manner.

    7. Jen Erik*

      I don’t think this is entirely a pandemic dynamic: all of the weddings that I’ve been closely involved in have felt like this – little bit fractious, little bit an enormous waste of time and effort and money, and then, to quote Shakespeare in Love – “Strangely enough, it all turns out well.”
      And the day itself is really happy, even when the rings are lost (my wedding) or the power goes out (my brother’s) or you suddenly realise the bride has omitted to book cars back for anyone but herself (my daughter) – and those become your “On my gosh, do you remember…” stories.
      Just, against all the odds, and speaking as someone whose idea of hell is a party at which I’m the centre of attention, wedding days surprise you by being enjoyable.

      1. kt*

        Yep. Even before the pandemic (decade+ ago) I agreed with a colleague that “the best part of the wedding is that the wedding planning process is over”. Also being married.

        Also, YMMV, but I found a lot of my stress melted away when I did something that is the *opposite* of what most people suggest in the US. When I decided that the wedding day was a party for my community and my family, rather than “all about me”, it was much easier and much more enjoyable. When it was “my special day” that was “all about me” and had to “reflect my feelings” and blah blah blah it was super stressful, because it was. Like, the weight of having to find flowers that really reflect my soul or whatever bs and then have to discuss the flowers that reflect my soul with other people and justify why these flowers rather than other flowers reflect my deepest symbolic wishes for blah blah was really unpleasant to me. Find flowers that people will like for a party that’s fun for all? No problem, done! Ugh. I still remember bursting into tears over some long-distance phone call about flowers where there was this discussion. In the end we just got flowers from the farmer’s market and they were beautiful. Moreover, the pressure of having to focus on myself made me forget some other people in ways I truly do feel a little bit bad about even now. For me, the community etc was the reason for the party, so why not just go with that.

    8. Invisible Fish*

      You may not realize it, but for some folks, knowing they get to go to your wedding and see something positive during a stressful time is hugely beneficial. Obviously, that’s not a reason to get married- but by sharing your joy, you’re making things brighter for others. There are a lot of cruddy things going on, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is also so much beauty to be found and experienced. Your celebration, no matter how small, is sending good into the universe. (Didn’t realize I was going to sound quite THIS woo-woo! But I still mean it!)

    9. A Simple Narwhal*

      I got married in non-pandemic times and let me tell you, it is SUPER normal to just want things over with. Between the planning and the stress and the hundreds of things you’ve had to deal with for months or even years, of course you’d be excited to have that be in the past!

      For me, as much as the stress of the lead up was, on the day of I was surprisingly not stressed at all. I think because at that point, what more is there for you to do? All of the planning has been done, things are in motion, you can’t really change anything at that point, and there are no decisions to be made, all you really have to do is float through the day while things happen around you.

      So my final advice is to not stress about it too much (easier said than done – I definitely brought up that I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my wedding day to my therapist multiple times) – once the day gets here you’ll be in the moment and will feel a lot better than you do now in the planning phase.

      And congratulations!!

    10. Lexie*

      These words came in handy on my wedding day: I don’t care

      Someone is bugging you because the baker left something on the cake table instead of putting it in the kitchen: I don’t care

      A bunch of people didn’t show and someone feels the need to point it out: I don’t care

      Basically don’t stress over everything being perfect. Just make sure there’s a place for everyone to sit, good food, and plenty to drink ( it doesn’t have to be alcohol, just make sure they can have something besides water). My wedding day wasn’t my perfect dream (we don’t have that kind of money) but we had lots of fun and we got a funny story out if it.

    11. Jessie*

      I actually felt the same way before my wedding. It was my second marriage and I didn’t want a wedding. But it was my husband’s first and he wanted one. The months before the wedding were hell. There was no pandemic, but we had a lot of family problems and lots of fights. I was so stressed.
      But honestly the day ended up being magical. I know the word magical is overused when it comes to weddings, but honestly it was magical. The stars aligned for us that day. I only started getting excited about two days before the big day, when we were making the last minute arrangements and I was packing my bag and getting ready.
      I think the same thing will happen to you. On the day itself, everything will feel amazing.

    12. Triplestep*

      Good advice here, but I’ll just add this: Remember your wedding is a happy event for your community, too, and while this is true in non-pandemic times, people need happy events in the midst of all the sorrow in the world right now. It’s OK to experience joy on your wedding day (which you no doubt will even though it feels like a project right now) and it’s OK that you’re kind of over it as well.

    13. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Wanting it done is a good sign, I think. It means you’re excited about the marriage and not just the wedding.

      I hope you have a lovely day and a wonderful life together.

    14. Aurora Leigh*

      I got married May (on our original date but with just a handful of people there) and it was still sweet and special even though it was nothing like we planned!

      We had a small gathering (outdoors, all COVID precautions) in August and I definitely felt the wish ot was over feeling before that — especially since we were already married. I think in May the pandemic was still so new and we were honestly still so scared that I didn’t feel the fatigue around that date that I felt in August.

      But your wedding will be lovely — you deserve your joy and the world needs joy right now!

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Make sure you eat & drink water. In standard times I asked my caterers (a friend’s restaurant so they cared) not to take my plate away if I left the table. I’ve heard too many stories of couples not getting to eat at their own wedding — and I didn’t want to risk a blood sugar crash.
      Beyond that, be flexible. If the weather gets cold or wet, just pull on coats and stay comfortable.
      And at the end of the day you’ll be married — good luck!

    16. Brusque*

      Especially during this time I feel an urgend need for anything positive. Seeing your happiness if you where my friend or family member would do me good. As long as you’re not planning one of those obnoxious corona-ignoring spreader feasts with hundrets of guests crammed in tight spaces, you should see your happiness as a ray of sunshine send to your peers during depressing times and try to get all the happiness you can. People who love you will share your joy and will feel happy for your sake. I don’t even know you but still my heart feels lighter just knowing that out there, somewhere, love and happiness still prevails and life goes on. So maybe knowing that your joy will bring others joy and might distract those around you a little might help being happy during your wedding plans.
      Oh, and congratulations to you and your fiance.

  6. Mi-MOH-sah*

    Has anyone decided to go for a micro pave wedding band? With my boyfriend we’ve been discussing getting married. It’s more of a long-term plan but he expressed he wants us to wear gold wedding rings as it’s the tradition in his family.
    I don’t own any rings but as I was looking around I found that a thin micro pave band is something I might like. Is there anything a ring novice should know about them?

    1. Caroline Bowman*

      I have one and it’s the most practical thing ever! If you aren’t a ”ring” person, you can put it on and ”forget it”. If you don’t plan on wearing an engagement ring / much jewelry in a general sense, it can be the ideal way to have something that is lovely and special and a bit ”more” than a very plain band, but without being too OTT or impractical / expensive / catching on things. I love mine!

      1. Mi-MOH-sah*

        It’s exactly as you’re saying. No engagement ring, and I love how understated but special such a rong can be.

    2. Jewelers husband*

      My jeweler wife warns that micro pave is pretty high maintanence. Diamonds will fall out and it will likely need to be maintained (retipping) more than most rings unless you tend to be very, very gentle on your rings. Some jewelers won’t work on them since it is often very hard to keep them in a quality state. Many of them are also very hard or impossible to resize because bending the metal at all to widen or tighten it will destroy the setting for some designs.

      That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get one if that’s what you want but it’s probably good to be aware of the maintainence and limitations ahead of time . If you look closely at it, you can also check if the diamonds share prongs or if each on has its own 4 prongs. If the latter, it will still have some of the same issues but is likely to hold up better. If the prongs are shared, which is more common, it will not hold up as well.

      Good luck and I hope whatever you get, you love it!

      1. Pippa K*

        Oh I’m surprised to learn this. I have a vintage micropave band and it’s been problem-free even though I wear it all the time even for dirty or rough jobs (barn work, gardening, DIY building projects, etc). Maybe I should be more careful! But I like that it’s low profile and the stones don’t knock or catch on things.

        1. Jewelers husband*

          According to my wife, the older ones are more likely to hold up since they were more commonly made without shared prongs, so each diamond has a full set, while newer ones usually share prongs and diamonds fall out comstantly. Being gentle with it probably isn’t a bad idea though! :) Glad it is holding up.

      2. Mi-MOH-sah*

        Thank you (and your wife) for weighing in! I’ll definitely check this/ask about it when we will be ring shopping.

    3. fposte*

      I genuinely thought you were talking about a provider of wedding music at first, and I was fascinated to know what new trend this was.

    4. Aurora Leigh*

      I love mine — it has diamonds and sapphires inset and has held up great so far (wedding was in May). I got it from James Allen and it has a bit of an art decoration feel to it. I feel like the stones are pretty protected. I’ll link my band in the reply.

  7. NYC Nonprofit*

    Has anyone ever explored neuromuscular dentistry for chronic TMJ? I’ve had TMJ disorder for over 10 years now and have always had trouble with night guards, and have almost accepted that this will be lifelong at this point.

    I just found out about neuromuscular dentistry but it seems a) expensive and b) not fully backed up by evidence yet. On the other hand, if there’s a chance this could really work, I’d be willing to try it if it meant not dealing with this for the next 2-3 decades. Does anyone have any experience with it?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I had a bothersome tooth and went to a “fancy” dentist (my last dentist’s practice was awful) and he suggested realigning my bite. I don’t have bad TMJ but I get tension headaches and migraines, and he’s pretty sure this will help. So far it has.

      It is definitely not cheap. My insurance doesn’t cover it and I have really good dental insurance. But I decided to go ahead, and so far it’s been pretty good. I had a few visits to get good impressions of my teeth and bite, I had a temporary appliance which I wore for a few hours each day, then I went in for adjustments. In my case, it only required some tooth grinding, but I have to go back for the jaw work because all that grinding made me super tense. Lucky for me, my dentist only charged a flat fee for the whole process! My dentist also told me that some health insurance plans cover it, though mine does not. My diagnosis wasn’t TMJ, though, so look into that.

      I honestly believe it has made a huge difference. My bad tooth is bothering me less (my misaligned bite was the culprit there) and my headaches are far less frequent. I used to get one bad headache just about every week, and I’m down to one in three weeks with a specific trigger. I am told that I am an easy case, because I only need tooth adjustments, so YMMV.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I get my jaw adjusted at the chiropractor. He presses on the connective tissues between the upper and lower jaws. (With gloves of course.) His advice was for me to let him know each time I go to the dentist so he can check the adjustment.

      If you are hesitant to try this, maybe something like a chiro would be a good intermediate plan.

      1. fposte*

        My massage therapist does similar TMJ work, so it may be that this kind of skilled bodywork crosses professions.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        Same, a chiropractor addressed my TMJ that way too, and it addressed the problem. In my case I can now do the procedure on myself when it flares up, but it sounds like the OP’s condition is more severe than my situation.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If there are other things contributing to the problem an experienced chiro should be able to sort through that.
          OP, it could be that the problem is this has just been going on too long for you, that stands alone as making problems seem more complex.

          Good, ethical chiros tell you when they cannot fix something and they might even know which type of specialist to go to. If this does happen to you, you could mention the treatment here that interests you. Many chiros are very conversant on what is going on out there now.

    3. Holly the spa pro*

      Ive never heard of this! Do you have a link to any good resources to learn more about this? I have been dealing with horrible tmj issues for the last 5 years. So far, ive found the most beneficial treatment for me has been dry needling. Much of my pain comes from the clenching of muscles rather than teeth grinding though there is loud and painful popping as well. I see my physical therapist twice a month and she dry needles my temporalis and masseter and that has helped with much of the pain and headaches. I highly recommend that as something to try. It doesnt eliminate the discomfort but at least makes it manageable.

    4. Stephanie*

      I had a round of physical therapy that started out treating my wrist pain, but progressed into working on neck and jaw stuff, too, because it’s all connected. The P.T. was very, very helpful with my TMJ issues (I’ve had it for a very long time, and it seems to come and go). It wasn’t cheap, because those visits add up, but it might be worth looking into if you don’t want to go the neuromuscular dentistry route. My physical therapist told me that posture issues are a big contributor to TMJ. Good luck!

    5. Cass*

      I recommend searching for a good physical therapist, they typically have a lot of experience treating TMJ.

    6. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I went to one of those dentists for TMJ pain. The first treatment they try is a mouth guard. Then they suggested that I get an expander followed by braces and that would fix my issues. At that point, I started researching and getting second opinions – especially on the efficacy of trying to re-align the jaw of a mid-forties person with expanders. My research plus a very well respected orthodontist consultation convinced me not to pursue that treatment.

      I switched back to a normal very good dentist. She gave me a referral to a physical therapist which helped a lot.

    7. RC Rascal*

      The had my jaw reset using dentistry. It was extremely painful & expensive but it helped greatly. I’m still working though minor issues but it’s improved greatly. First the use a splint retainer to allow then jaw to find the correct position naturally. Then we f necessary they use braces. For me only the metal kind would Do the work. I also needed upper & lower palate expansion & rubber bands. Ended up needing a night guard after it was through. The work changed my appearance and ended up making me look 10 years younger too. Took the tension out of my face.

      I worked closely with a good PT & chiropractor. I also needs a lot of dry needling which I highly recommend. Once jaw resets your body realigns and it caused a lot of residual pain in other parts of the body while you reset.

    8. Anon5775*

      I’m no expert and I don’t know if neuromuscular dentistry is the same as the LVI method, but I’m in the middle of the LVI treatment. It stands for Las Vegas Institute and is an approach that does not advocate surgery. They advocate getting the jaw in it’s proper position, making the space in your mouth bigger if needed, so it’s easier to breathe/your tongue has more room, etc. It’s very expensive, but after jaw pain for over 15 yrs and migraines/headaches I was willing to try it.

      1. ampersand*

        How do they do this?! I’m so curious. I have worn a night guard since I was 18 for TMJ and am still haunted by my dentist once telling me that in order to fix my bite problem I would basically have to have my jaw broken(!!!) and realigned. I mean, that was his TL;DR version of explaining it to me but I continue to wonder what that meant.

        1. Anon5775*

          I mean, each case is different. But they usually start with an orthotic on your bottom teeth and they take measurements with sticky sensor tabs on your temple, jaw, etc. and a thin piece of plastic you bite down on that also measures which muscles are firing and they know which ones should fire and which should not and are likely causing the headaches, etc. This orthotic is reversible. Then if that works, they move on to things that will widen your jaw (if needed) and move your upper teeth forward a few millimeters. Your bottom jaw might need some stuff done too, but the bottom jaw typically just follows the upper jaw, is my understanding. The website is LVIglobal dot com. Find a doctor in your area and maybe check out the facebook group TMJ/TMD/CMD/OSA physiologic discussion group. Patients, and sometimes dentists, post there. It’s interesting, but I wouldn’t take everything patients say as the full truth because this stuff is super complicated (to me at least) and each case is different. Like I said, it’s very expensive, can be time consuming, but my quality of life demands that I try something to get rid of my nearly constant headaches. As soon as my orthotic went on my jaw stopped jutting in a weird, jerky motion and my jaw muscles relaxed in my cheeks. You may also learn things like your resting tongue position is supposed to be at the top of the roof of your mouth. Mine was resting between my bottom teeth, which can actually move the teeth over time. I wish you the best, and like anything medical related on the internet, don’t go too far down the rabbit hole. Find a dentist that does this technique and ask them your questions. The entire goal is to get your bite and jaw into the proper position, and get the proper muscles to control your jaw, in my understanding.

          1. ampersand*

            Thank you! This is super helpful and informative. I’ll check it out. I’m glad you found relief—constant headaches are absolutely awful.

            1. Spice for this*

              Over the years for help with TMJ, tinnitus and headaches, I have a night guard and have had chiropractor adjust my jaw which did help. I have also had acupuncture.
              Recently, I read an article (better nutrition, July 2020) about TMJ / misaligned teeth contributing to tinnitus. The article mentioned this the NTI mouthguard, website: nationaldentexDOTcom
              According to the article, the NTI device fits over two front teeth and helps the jaw stay relaxed. I have not had a chance to research the NTI device yet. I am planning to call my dentist to see if he know anything about it.

            2. Anon5775*

              You’re very welcome! I didn’t know about this technique until a medical dr told me about it and suggested it instead of Botox for my migraines, but I guess it’s been around a while. And I forgot to mention, that at the very end of the process you might still need a night appliance to help keep your jaw where it should be, but so many other things will have hopefully been improved by then.

  8. germank106*

    Crochet Thread!
    What is everyone working on?
    I’m still working on the C2C blanket. Another 32 rows and I’m done. I love the pattern because it works up fairly quickly. On the other hand I’m so over making stuff for other people. I also have some serious knitting needle withdrawal. I did some quick shuffling around and I think I’ll make either this https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/calliope-13 or these socks https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/raupensocken.

    1. Lexie*

      Nothing g right now. We don’t have air conditioning so working on anything big in the summer is very uncomfortable. I’m going to be starting a scarf soon.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I have too many things going at once!
      I am working on a lap blanket for a friend but have no idea if it would be appreciated. She is waiting to get on a transplant list and is very unwell and I figured something warm in case she is cold in hospitals. But then, there is covid so maybe she cannot have anything like that. And I hate getting things that I have to care for (I mean bc someone made it, not because it needs care, its very washable) so maybe she would hate that? She has a gardening background and the blanket is inspired by gardens and my love of circles.

      And I fell in love with the Sophie’s Dream blanket made with Scheepjes whirl yarn so I am using some stash yarn to practice it. And then I fell in love with another blanket so I ordered that yarn.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Crochet: I’m on round 88 (of 108) of the Phoenix Afghan from Hooked on Sunshine still. It’s lovely and I have another one of her afghans on deck for my next crochet project.

      Other yarn: I have the bind off left on an Imagine When scarf to finish (it’s easier with a crochet hook and I didn’t have one at the time that I finished the knitting), and I’m working on a double-knitted Star Wars scarf that’s black on one side and rainbow on the other. :)

      1. Lifelong student*

        On square 16 of a 20 square afghan for my sister. She normally winters in Yuma and summers in the mountains in Colorado- but will be staying in Colorado this year. I figure she could use something to keep warm! It was 18 at her house yesterday!

        1. Coffee time!*

          Bought one of the Caron cakes anniversary yarn so making a rectangle granny to get it out of the living room. as big as a pillow..have storage for all my other yarn lol. have lots of wips on the go so just working though them. did just finish a mini poncho out of pink fun fur type..makes me go its so fuzzy!!

    4. Tortally HareBrained*

      I’m still working on the Malloy cardigan I mentioned a few weeks ago. Almost done with Stanley the Giraffe from Zoomigurumi 4, hoping to finish it today.

      My grandmother has also requested a baby cardigan for a family friend, so I’ll start that soon.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      What’s your favorite dishcloth stitch for bumps on both sides?
      I’m doing dishcloths to replace plastic sponges–and it’s a low-risk way to experiment with stitches fancier than the basics. Pebble stitch was an interesting experiment in learning to crochet looser, but it’s not the effect I wanted.
      The stitch I used most of I didn’t bookmark. Any idea what thisis? SC/DC/DC in same chain, skip 2 chains, repeat. I did a lot of frogging at edges and finally got the thing to stay square — it was never obvious to me that the ‘SC one extra and turn” *IS* the first SC for the other direction so you start the 2DC right there at the base. Hey presto.
      I did a few rows of SC around the edge, and one corner’s so weird I’ll be adding a loop as camouflage….and it’ll be my first project done with no interruptions.
      I noodled around on ravelry, but what I’m really after is one-stitch wonders so I can do it to keep my hands busy while my mind is elsewhere.

    6. Unicornucopia*

      I’ve been wondering where people get their crochet supplies, cheaply and online preferably. What I have has been randomly gifted to me and while I can make things work, I don’t typically have the exact things called for by the pattern and I would like to expand a bit. If anyone has any suggestions, that would be helpful and appreciated!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I usually pick patterns the other way–I search ravelry for the yarn & hooks I have on hand and choose from the free online results. That lets me buy from the discount bins and tag sales.
        I am just starting to buy for patterns now, and the only cost saving I have is to sign up for the coupon circulars from the chain stores.

  9. ..Kat..*

    Hi. I am having trouble keeping the linoleum floors in my house clean. I used a Swiffer wet jet for years. It mostly kept the floors clean, but leaked cleaning fluid. I thought maybe my wet jet was old, so I bought a new one. Nope, the new one also leaks. And, the floors have gradually grown dingier over all these years. I used a hand held battery-powered scrub brush to go over the linoleum to clean this deep-set grime, but this took a lot of time and work (think days!). Does anyone have suggestions for keeping my linoleum clean? Products? Techniques?

    1. Lifelong student*

      I recently purchased a long handled scrub brush- I can stand up while using it. I do the floor with it to scour it- then go over it again with a sponge mop. It helps a lot.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have one of those on my Christmas list. My husband is appalled. “I can’t get you a cleaning tool for Christmas! What kind of jerk would that make me?” I was like “Uh, the jerk who pays attention to his wife’s Christmas list? But whatever, there’s plenty of other things on there too.”

        1. Ali G*

          Ha! I had a similar conversation with my husband when I needed a new food processor. They’re expensive! Of course they are holiday gifts! He was taken back to his childhood when his dad bought his mom a cast iron skillet for Christmas once…it didn’t go well for him.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Our household policy is that someone can *ask* for a tool for their chores, but it shouldn’t be volunteered. And it needs to be specified exactly which one.
            This originated the year my husband
            wondered aloud how well the mini vacuums that plug into a car lighter
            really work…and my mom got him a household Dust Buster.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Exactly! We keep separate finances, so most of the things I really want I either buy myself or are more expensive than I’m generally inclined to ask other people for. And I’m apparently really hard to shop for without a list. But if I have stuff that I need, that’s in the price range that I’m okay asking other people for, then I put it on the list and then I can save my money toward stuff that I’m not okay asking other people for. :) (And our household practice is that we try to limit things we buy for ourselves during the last three months of the year, to some extent, and put stuff on our wish lists instead.)

        2. Lexie*

          The dishwasher was my favorite gift the year we installed one in a house that previously didn’t have one.

        3. Stephanie*

          Good for him for confirming. I think it’s different since you’re explicitly asking for it. If he wants, you should tell him to get you a small “fun” gift, budget allowing, if he feels like he’s just giving you gifts to do housework.

      2. LemonLyman*

        Just got a steam cleaner last week (not the Shark, though). Am LOVING it! We bought an old house that was a bit grimy. And scrubbing hasn’t really gotten stuff clean. But the steamer has been amazing! Total convert. Even got my SO interested in helping me clean because it’s quick and easy.

    2. Anona*

      I think things like swiffer are ok for touch ups but vacuuming
      /sweeping first, and then regular mopping (bucket + mop) seems to be what gets our floor the cleanest. In the bucket I have water + some kind of floor cleaning solution, added according to the directions. We have wood floors so I do one for that but I’ve used the lysol liquid in the past for tile.

      It’s so rare that I have time to do it (just did it for the first time in literally a couple of years), but it’s what seems to work the best.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, in my experience swiffer-ing doesn’t really get floors clean the same way as old-fashioned mopping does.

    3. Ali G*

      How old is the linoleum? It has a coating on top that can wear away and once it does, the dirt starts to get trapped. Basically the coating is smooth and when it wears off, you have an uneven surface where stuff can get trapped.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Good point. My mother’s house had 1960s sheet linoleum, and it was supposed to be waxed periodically.

        1. Rebecca Stewart*

          Your best bet is a mop and a two-bucket system: One bucket is full of hot water plus cleaning solution; the other has about an inch of water in it. You dip into the first bucket, and wring dirty water into the second. That way your mopping solution stays clean, and all the dirt is in the second bucket.

          1. Girasol*

            I go for this except I still do it the Orphan Annie way: down on my knees with buckets and a scrub rag so I can see what I’m doing. I just could never get into mops. Soap first, rinse after, and if I’m really going for clean, wipe it dry with an old towel.

        2. RC Rascal*

          Old school linoleum is supposed to waxed once or twice a year depending on traffic. The wax has likely worn off and the linoleum is absorbing the dirt. Steam clean & wax. Then you can Swiffer.

    4. Notthemomma*

      My answer will require short term hard work, but long term results. I had the same issue with lineoleum that was kid in th mid 80’s.
      1. Holloway House stripper. This is a hands and knees project; this strips all the old was and buildup that is making them look dingy. (This is the Only hands and knees bit :-) and is a one-time process.
      2. Holloway House deep cleaner; this removes all residue can be used one time for restoring or more; I do ~3 x a year
      3. Quick Shine which gives back that new glossy look. This I do ~ 1x a month, but I like my floors to reflect light

      I am not associated with the company, I just LOVE their products so much, it’s all I use on my floors. I also have a shark steam for weekly cleanup.

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      I have BISSELL crosswave – it’s like a combo vacuum mop, and it’s great for linoleum, hardwood, and carpet. Definitely check it out! It makes it easy to really deep clean all of your floors.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I swear by Borax and water. The first time I did it the water was black, not dingy gray but actually black from what I was able to clean up. Here, I thought I had been getting my floors clean right along. So I started using it weekly. I told a family member and she started cleaning while we were on the phone together. As she cleaned along, she kept interrupting herself and me by saying, “oh man, this water is black, wth!”
      Borax is in the laundry detergent aisle.

      1. BeeBoop*

        This sounds crazy but the best way I’ve found to get floors clean is 1 TSP of powdered tide detergent, hot water and a spin mop. I learned this tip from @gocleanco on Instagram, a very satisfying cleaning account!

    7. SpellingBee*

      Is it true linoleum, or is it vinyl flooring? You would use different products and techniques depending on which it is. Vinyl floors can yellow over time, which can make them look dingy if they’re really light colored.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      There is really no low tech substitute for a good scrubbing with a floor brush. Which is hard on the body of course. A steam mop would be ok for lino, and should have decent results.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Fun fact about linoleum: the real stuff is from a renewable resource. I don’t know about the fancy coatings, but the bulk of it is linseed oil (from flax), mixed with sawdust, and spread flat to dry. I’ll be using it instead of vinyl or ceramic if I ever redo a kitchen again.

    10. The teapots are on fire*

      I used to love the Don Aslett stuff for cleaning (I have almost no vinyl now and I mostly clean floors with my checkbook these days, so I can’t give a strong recommendation. But I loved his books when I was a homemaker.)

    11. gsa*

      Windex, or your favorite ammonia based cleaner.

      After that, hands and knees and scrub.

      Good luck. I’ve never met a floor that will clean it’s self.

    12. BigBrain*

      …Swiffers are not for actual cleaning, just quick clean ups.

      You need a mop. You need to scrub that floor really well to get the years of dirt off. Then start using your mop weekly.
      I can’t even….

  10. Princess Deviant*

    So I am sitting here sobbing.

    This isn’t about school, it is about guilt and expectations :-). I started a Masters last year and I can’t do it. I don’t know if I would feel differently if the world were ‘n0rmal’, but it’s moved online and it is just horrible. I have decided to complete my delayed assignments from the 1st year, then take an interruption of studies to reevaluate next year, when hopefully it will be face-to-face again. The course is very practical, so I feel like we’re missing out on something online, plus as an autistic person the sensory processing required to decipher meaning through video is excruciating.

    So yes, this post is about guilt and disappointed expectations! Even though I feel better having made this decision now, I can’t stop crying. I had such an awful time in my 20’s in my undergraduate degree, that returning 20 years later to a Masters seemed like a new start and an opportunity to make some friends! I know lots of people have had their hopes dashed this year because of what has gone on, how do you deal with it?

    And the guilt! My ma paid for my books, my employers paid my first year fees! My colleague (who is trained in the course I was doing) wrote me a reference and has supported me all the way, sharing resources etc. I feel like I am letting them all down!

    I’m feeling pretty terrible right now.

    1. Loopy*

      When I went to grad school, there were a few classes that were online only, even for people attending in person full time. I HATED those class formats and definitely struggled with the same type of material just because it was all online. I knew I definitely was not suited for an all online environment, nor was it the experience I wanted.

      I bring up my own very different circumstances to say I’m sure people will understand that online learned changes the entire situation, not a little- a lot. I would be honest about that part and try not and worry about all the people you feel you are letting down. Heck, I started a new JOB and had to train people online- it was so so much harder online- excruciatingly so. I know speaking for myself, I would actually not only understand but definitely see reason in pausing and picking back up in-person to get a better experience!!

      I’m just an internet stranger, but as someone who also fiercely prefers in person learning over online for myself, I am actually rooting for you to get to experience the environment you prefer and not feel bad about pausing and resuming in a much better situation once you get be in person. Disappointment is hard but I’d recommend trying to focus on that angle- pausing is the strategic and healthy thing to do it seems.

      And I’m sure you are not alone. I can’t imagine how many others are struggling and miserable being forced to study online!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m just an internet stranger, but as someone who also fiercely prefers in person learning over online for myself, I am actually rooting for you to get to experience the environment you prefer and not feel bad about pausing and resuming in a much better situation once you get be in person. Disappointment is hard but I’d recommend trying to focus on that angle- pausing is the strategic and healthy thing to do it seems.

        And for what it’s worth, I’m an internet stranger who LOVES online classes and hates in-person ones and I STILL think that you should hold off until you can do your program in a manner that works for you, because education shouldn’t be excruciating if you can at all avoid it. Best wishes and take care of you!!

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          Also an internet stranger who loves online classes and hates in-person ones and also thinks hold off until you can do it in a way that works for you.
          And if I were any of the folks who helped you get this far I would be saying the same and I would be so impressed that you figured out what is not working and have a plan to address it instead of just going ahead with something that does not work. That says a lot about you and your character!
          Best to you!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          There is nothing wrong with putting yourself in a spot where you will succeed. If you do not feel successful with your classes now, then you absolutely need to wait until you can reset your circumstances so you have what you need and you are indeed successful.

          I did not finish my degree until I was in my 40s. Like you show here, I had a strong sense of, “I did not wait this long to do a half baked job now. I can’t just slide though, I expect better of me.” While I don’t mind doing classes online, I do have one thing about in-person classes. I have to sit down in front. This keeps me engaged and I get a better grade. So one class I sat toward the back, I dunno why. Guess which class I super struggled with. Do what you have to do so that you succeed.

          Second thing. We have tears for a reason, they trigger a chemical reaction in the brain that helps keep the brain healthy. Cry. Usually tears come out for more than one reason. I’d suggest you consider that you may feel you let your own self down as well as these other people. I know first hand that there are not many feelings worse than the feeling of letting myself down. So cry for that too. And as you cry along, use the tears to help yourself make a strong vow that you WILL get what you need to succeed and you WILL try again in a bit. That vow is part of the path out of the tears. When we get our vision back and actually see a plan the tears taper.

          You have an asset. People around you believe in you. I suspect they will continue to believe in you. This is always interesting to me, because sometimes people have more faith in me than I do. Let them have faith in you, when you see their faith, just simply say “thank you”. Your faith in yourself will “come back”. I put that in quotes because it hasn’t really left you. You know what you need to succeed and that is huge.

          We have extraordinary times. No one could have predicted this a year ago. Many people understand that others have to postpone their plans right now. I think you will find more leeway here than you anticipate. I think it will work out somehow for you.

    2. nep*

      Sending you love. Sorry you are struggling like this.
      Consider that you did not accept any of that assistance from people in bad faith. You have done the work and you have given it your best shot, it sounds like. What more can you ask of yourself?
      A couple of things pop out at me from your post. ‘Excruciating.’ When something is excruciating, generally some kind of shift is called for. And ‘I have decided.’ Good on you for making a decision and planning out how you’re going to proceed, according to what you can do and what you need right now.
      This is how I’m seeing/feeling this.
      I wish you peace.

      1. Something Blue*

        I think this is a big point—you accepted help in good faith! And did your best!

        Also it sounds like you’re finishing first year? And stopping before second year money is paid?

        If so, then you’ve held up your side. They helped with first year—you finished first year.
        Then made a wise decision to take a break due to pandemic reasons.

        And even if I’ve misunderstood that part, it still sounds like you’re making good decisions—you’re finishing assignments and stopping something that is excruciating for you.

        I also think it’s understandable to be disappointed. So many hopes for this and you don’t know when in-person will start again. I would feel like I was in mourning for my future.

        I would say be gentle right now about your disappointment. It totally makes sense.
        And to this internet stranger you sound like a conscientious person who’s doing their best at a bad time.

    3. Anona*

      The good thing is that I feel like people will be much more understand because of the pandemic. I would mention the pandemic a lot when you tell people of your plans. This time has been hard on everyone, and starting a completely new program during the pandemic sounds particularly awful.

    4. Zooey*

      As someone who teaches higher ed, can Insay well done – it is actually a massive achievement to realise that a learning scenario won’t work for you for whatever reason and make the decision to defer or leave. The kind of guilt / failure feelings you’re describing really get in the way and I’ve seen many students try to hang on while struggling.

      Online learning is hard and currently we’re in a situation where lecturers are having to figure out how to do it well completely unexpectedly. Recognising that is not the right situation for you is completely legit. I hope that on a couple of years, the whole situation is better and you get to come back and enjoy your degre.

    5. Jewelers husband*

      Regarding the guilt, your education is for you. Other folks might be supporting you in getting that degree but it is still for YOU. So you should feel free to do whatever is best for you in that education.

      I went to grad school for a Ph.D program years ago. 8 months in and so many bad things were going on in my life that I realized I could slog through 5 years in my current state. So many people told me not to quit because id never have time or motivstion to go back. I finally told my advisor with much shame and guilt that I was either going to drop or stop at a masters, and I wasn’t going to do the full doctorate. He told me “it’s your educstion. You should do whatever serves you.” Which was so lovely and helpful and helped me make the choice that was right for me. I did choose to get the masters (barely) and then took 2 years off before going to another program where I got my Ph.D. Leaving early was 100% the right choice for me and it is for many people. You don’t need to feel guilty about it, although I understand that feeling. Grad school is hard, even without external life problems interfering. Take care!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Amen to this. When I first went to college, I had one parent who I knew was terminally ill. Gradually, my other parent started showing symptoms of failing health. Then I got into a car accident and punctured my knee. I still believe it was actually broken but the hospital lied to me because I was crying too much and that was too annoying for them.
        I tried returning to school. I was absolutely overwhelmed. I had a colander where my brains should be. Everything went right though my brain and right out into space somewhere.

        Some years later, I had moved out, my mother had passed, my father gain some health, my knee found its new normal and I was living with my husband. I tried again. I got really good grades, I attribute that to setting myself in a place where I would succeed.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      Internet hugs if you want them! Take some deep breaths and focus on ‘current stuff is not working out, but I have a plan for fixing it.’ Your mom and employers and colleague want you to succeed, and your plan gets you there. Anytime your anxiety says ‘but I’ve failed!’ answer it with ‘for now, and this is great practice.’ The only modification I’d make to the plan and expectations: don’t look at grad school as an opportunity to make friends. I found that it kept us all too busy for much socializing, and after it was over, we all went very separate ways.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Some masters programs are not well suited for online learning. If you feel you are losing a large chunk of valuable interaction and education by being forced to online learning, there is no shame in hitting the pause button on your studies until classes resume in person.

      Finish up as much as you can so your grades will be in good standing, and then wait. Let your advisors know why (pandemic, online learning) and that you intend to return when the university reopens campus. And forgive yourself! You’re not giving up! It’s just going to take a little longer is all.

    8. Llellayena*

      You need to do what’s right for you, which in this case seems to be to defer your studies until they can be in person. The efforts of the people who helped you get here were not wasted and you do not need to feel guilty over it (though you can if you want to). You are still grateful for what they gave you AND you plan to use that…at the right time for it to be most effective. Also, if the goal is to learn (not just to get the degree) that should be done in an environment that is best set up to help you retain the information (which for you is in person). No one is going to blink if you say you’re postponing until post-COVID. There are enough stories about awful online learning that everyone will understand.

    9. Princess Deviant*

      Thank you all for your wonderful comments, and for rooting for me! This is so very helpful and kind :)

    10. Oxford Comma*

      Please know that you’re not alone. Everyone is failing at this pandemic. This is not a normal time. The people in your life who wrote you references, who paid your fees, who bought your books for you–they should all know this. You are not alone. This is all very very hard. The people whose opinion is worth having knows this.

    11. Can't Sit Still*

      I think you have made a wise decision to finish up your current year and then reassess next year. I should have taken a medical leave the last term of my masters program, but I powered through instead. I hated every minute of it, I didn’t learn as much as I could have, I had to get an extension anyway, and I made myself much sicker than I would have been if I had taken time off. Also, while my program was entirely online, and designed to be online, I would have preferred face to face for some courses.

      I want to try to reframe the guilt you’re feeling: Your employer values you enough to invest in your masters program. You are finishing up your first year, so they have gotten what they paid for. Their money didn’t go to waste! Your colleague who wrote you a reference and has supported you along the way presumably values you quite a lot, and also understands the difficulty of both the course and the change to online from in person classes. I hate to speculate on your relationship with your ma, because there be dragons, but ideally, she bought the books because she loves you and wants what’s best for you, whatever that may be.

      Please be kind to yourself. Grad school is hard, no matter what, and I would think it is especially difficult now!

    12. Stephanie*

      I could have written this! My program went hybrid (I opted remote just because the COVID protocols didn’t make it sound that pleasant to go in person) and it’s been a slog.

      I don’t think it’s failure — most programs, especially at the grad level, have pretty generous required completion timelines after matriculation. I think mine is like 7 years after matriculation (for a program that usually takes two years). If you can, might help to take a LOA and return when you can feel fully engaged and get the most out the program.

      1. Dan*

        My grad program was a year for full timers, with 5 years to complete requirements. It was super common for people to line up jobs before graduation and not actually finish (that whole thesis thing…)

        I did the same. But I also realized that in my line of work, the MS is helpful when getting a new job. So like 6 months before my credits were supposed to expire, I called my advisor up and told him it was time to get it done. He helped me get the paperwork straightened out, and we got it done.

        When I defended my thesis, he asked, “so why did you decide *now* was the time?” I told him that procrastinating was working pretty well, but my credits were going to expire soon, and this was really the only thing I had left, and I had no good excuse to not finish.

        His response: “Oh, the 5 year thing? We could have filed some paperwork and got an extension.” I think I said something along the lines of, “Well *now* you tell me, but it’s probably good that you didn’t tell me sooner.”

        1. Usually Lurking*

          I just finished an MS after 6 years, three of it procrastination while working a full time job. I did have to extend after the 5th year. But I got it done! Had to defend over zoom while living out of my car thanks to the pandemic, but it’s done! Strange to think about all the guilt and anxiety I had over it. Of course I only got about a week of relief and basking in my achievement before 2020 threw another curveball at me.

    13. Law Student*

      Just wanted to let you know I feel the same. I quit a pretty lucrative job and career track two years ago to move back to my hometown and to go to law school full time, which I was enjoying until the pandemic hit. Now we are completely online and it looks like we’ll remain that way until after I graduate. I HATE it. It’s terrible. I did not go to school to spend a year and a half in my apartment. My post-grad employment prospects are looking pretty grim at the moment. I am not learning as much and it’s much more stressful to have fewer people to talk about it with. If I had known that half of my time in school would be fully online, I would not have moved for it and I would be looking for jobs in a different market.

      So, solidarity! If you can take a leave of absence, I think you should.

    14. Emma*

      My SO dropped out of the graduate program he had devoted the last 18 months and tremendous amounts of money to apply to. It was also a practical program and he just couldn’t do the zoom learning, and the additional debt just wasn’t worth it. It was a hard decision but he has no regrets. Please don’t feel guilt – this situation has made everything so hard.

    15. Always Sciencing*

      It may be a comfort to know that you’re not alone in this. Online learning is not what you signed up for, and it’s totally understandable that it isn’t a good fit, that’s true for many people. I’m a graduate student advisor and many other students are also coming to this realization and taking leaves of absence. You need to do what’s best for you. Don’t feel guilty for looking after yourself. Wishing you all the best.

    16. Brusque*

      Maybe you put too much pressure on yourself. This pandemic shakes up everybody. So it is reasonable to expect some shake ups. Taking a break and sorting your choices should be always an ok thing to do but especially during this times anybody who would hold this against you would be considered an insensitive jerk. You are young and you live in challenging times. I get that guilt thing, it’s hard to accept that sometimes we can’t meet our own expectations. But you should ask yourself: if I saw that struggle from the outside, watching a different person dealing with this, would I really judge them badly for it? Would I think less of my best friend/sister/brother/uncle/ radom person of your choice if I saw them struggle with this kind of unusual and improvised setup?
      Honestly, the answer to that question should be a wholeheartedly no. This situation isn’t comparable with other times. The people implementing the new online courses that where never meant to be online courses are improvising and the results are problematic. That’s not on you either. Even under the best circumstances online education is a problematic thing and should be supplemented by alternatives if possible. People have very different needs when it comes to education and an online course drastically limits possibilities to support different learning types.
      Besides, if ever a situation was rightfully blamed for contributing to peoples failures it is this one. So mabe try to stop looking solely on your own misery and start looking around. Everyone is miserable right now. This isn’t on you. This isn’t your fault. This isn’t something you can control and that’s ok. You couldn’t know that corona would happen, you couldn’t prevent it even if you knew, and if you’d already completed your education and had done for someone else what your mom, your company or anybody else did for you and then they got thrown off by a freaking pandemic, I clearly do hope you’d cut them some slack. Please make yourself aware: this are exceptionally bad circumstances. This is an extreme disaster that wrecked the whole worlds economy and way of living on very short notice. How could one single individual be expected to sail through life unmarred despite all this chaos? It is impossible to NOT be affected by all of this, so why should anybody be so unfair and hold you accountable for not being able to do what no one else could either? So please, try not to judge yourselve on factors far out of your control and don’t be so cruel to assume others will do.

    17. Princess Deviant*

      Thanks for the comments. I do feel much better about my decision, and I really like framing it as a good thing that I have chosen to do this for what I need, rather than seeing it as failing (which I do fall into feeling now and then). And for all those who have completed a masters over several years and have struggled with it, or are currently struggling, thank you so much for sharing your experience and letting me know that I am not alone. I hope things get better soon f0r everyone.

  11. Sarah*

    Hi, I have a probably silly and basic question but that’s why I am hoping people might be able to answer it… if you could do with a professional assessing your house for damp/airflow/repointing/general sort-of “i don’t think this house is collapsing or anything but I feel it maybe needs some work”, what sort of professional do you look for? Does that kind of role exist? Like my family suggested a surveyor but then I thought that was more for when you move into a house? (I got a surveyor report when I moved in but that was nine years ago.) I’m in the UK if that makes a difference.. i am pretty sure COVID stops me acting on this right now – but I get anxious about house stuff which means I put it off, so making myself do any research right now would still be good.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. kiwiapple*

      There are damp proofing companies (specifically) and surveyors which likely have experience in damp as well.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        We had problems with our crawlspace (it’s 100 years old and dirt, it’s awful and SO CREEPY), and we brought out several different types of damp-proofing companies. Some said, “Nah it’s fine the way it is, just add some more sheet plastic” and another one wanted to rip up all of the floorboards of the first floor of our house to dig it out into a Premium Sealed and Drained System at a cost of $25K.

        So you will get a huge range in opinion based on who you ask, and it’s worth getting multiple estimates.

    2. Lady Heather*

      Building surveyors (name might be different) definitely exist, they look at the condition, safety/habitability of the building. Cadastral surveyors also exist, they tell you where your neighbour’s garden ends and yours begins. Construction surveyors mark reference points etc on construction sites so the building is built exactly where it should. There are probably more subspecialties and they can do very different things – cadastral surveyors have to know about law, building surveyors about construction.
      So make sure you get the right surveyor type. :)

      UK has the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, their website may be able to tell you more and it probably includes a directory of some kind.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      Others gave you more specific advice but I wanted to say that I call companies all the time with my questions like yours, “who does this kind of thing, is it you?”
      I find people are really helpful, don’t seem to mind my questions, and I have found some of the best companies that way!

    4. Squidhead*

      In the northeastern US, there are companies that provide many services: home energy-efficiency assessments, sales of furnaces and air conditioners, sale and installation of efficient windows and doors, home insulation, roofs, and siding, etc… The energy-efficiency assessment is often free–when we had ours done about 10 years ago they used infrared cameras to look at every wall in the house to find gaps in the insulation, and used a large blower-fan setup to basically see how “airtight” the house was. Then they told us what they’d recommend. I would like to think that if the house needed work they weren’t prepared to do (like major foundation work) that they would have alerted us as well, but of course many of the products they recommend are services they provide. We did already need a furnace but I did not find their approach to be aggressively high-pressure, and I went around with them through every room so I could see the things they were talking about.

      I don’t know if this type of company exists in the UK. The main reason I’m mentioning it is the free assessment. Utility companies (natural gas/electric) here also offer rebates for upgrading your heating systems so companies like the one I used have an additional marketing tool–if they can show that your home’s efficiency will be improved by a new [thing], then you will be eligible for the rebate when/if they sell you the new [thing]. Whether you buy the [thing] or not, the assessment is a good way to get some independent eyes on your house!

    5. MissDisplaced*

      A general contractor / home inspector (inspection is usually a separate license so make sure they have that) might be able to give you a base assessment and inspect for problem areas. You are under no obligation to continue work with them beyond the inspection, and they should provide a report with identified recommendations and repairs. I would think there is a similar role in the UK to this.

      That said, it depends what needs to be done based on the inspection, and those might be all different trade specialists. Airflow is typically HVAC specialists. Damp might be waterproofing, roofing, or even outdoor foundation or structural remediation issues where they have to dig around the house. A General Contractor (GC) can be hired as the “lead” on projects and, based on their construction knowledge and “trade” networks, sub out the other work. Or you can find the other specialists yourself, depending on what you need done. A good GC may also provide recommendations for you for the trade specialists they personally know.

  12. Amethyst*

    For the past 1.5 months or so I and some friends have been helping our mutual friend at her house. Mostly we’ve been clearing out her yard (5 year overgrowth of weeds and brush) and I’ve been helping her inside (years of dry hoarding) so she can use the rooms as intended. My question is if anyone knows of programs available that’ll pay for extensive repairs to her house?

    Right now, these are her issues:
    *frost heave in her garage that’ll cost around $65k to fix (per an estimate she got when it happened last year)
    *black mold in her basement due to flooding from the frost heave
    *well water splashing out of the top of the cap
    *wiring issues that resulted in two rooms of her house inexplicably having no power (gone on for a few months now)
    *cutting down a dozen or so trees in the back of her house. She desperately needs natural light in her house and I believe it’ll really help with her severe depression.

    Is there anything out there that’ll cover all/most of the costs associated with the above repairs? We are in Connecticut if that helps.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I’m assuming she owns the house? If so, I would be very shocked if there were any applicable programs – generally the homeowner is responsible for repairs and maintenance, even extensive repairs.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, I think charity options may be limited but if she owns, there are certainly lending options, like home equity or special lending programs that are subsidized by the government. Look in the state HUD website, and try searching to programs for seniors or rural areas (if that applies) too.

        There is also the Weatherization Assistance program, so if any of the work could fall under that area that could help.

        Mold remediation is no joke and I feel like insurance should have been involved with the flood — do you know if it was?

        You are a good neighbor!

    2. Anona*

      Does she have home insurance? My husband’s grandmother just got her roof replaced through that. I don’t know that that would work for everything, but maybe she could address the most expensive repair that way?

    3. germank106*

      If you are in the US there are several programs that can help. Get in touch with the Utility Company. Often they have programs that will help with things like Weatherization/Winterization and the associated repairs. They can also point you in the right direction to find someone to help with the wiring issues in the house. The ministerial alliance (just about every town has one) can also often help. Call any Church and ask who for contact information for the ministerial alliance. If your friend is elderly you can also often get help by contacting your County’s Family Service /Department of Health and Services office. Does your friend live in a rural area? Then the USDA/Farm Bureau offices are often a good source for help. HUD can also often help with loan programs to finance these repairs.
      Looks like Connecticut also has this program: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2015/rpt/2015-R-0097.htm

    4. Lady Heather*

      Frost heave is likely covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy, although they may have filing deadlines – hard ones of six months or three years, or soft ones of “as soon as you can” or “we won’t pay out for any damages resulting from not having the repair done earlier” that are even worse.

      Your local health department may know about programs relating to mold removal.

      Local government, social workers, health department etc. may also know about programs or charities that can help with the situation in general.

      Trees are a beast – at least where I live, you need a municipal permit to cut down trees and the municipality likes trees so only issues them if they’re causing sewer back-ups. Your municipality may not be as strict about that, but it’s worth looking into it before you’re slapped with a fine.
      (Relatives have found it beneficial to use a light therapy lamp for seasonal affective disorder in the fall-winter months; I’m not in the medical advice business, but I wanted to mention it.)

      If it’s a rental home, speak to the landlord, document it, and start looking into tenant laws. Don’t stop paying rent unless you’re aming for an eviction – however, tenant laws usually have provisions that allow you to pay the rent to a third party (like the court) while the landlord isn’t holding up their end of the deal.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Trees get very costly very fast. A friend waited until winter when tree companies did not have as much work. She got a price from one company then called another company for a price. “Well Company A said X amount. Can you do better?” Then she called A back and said, “Company B said Y amount. Can you do better?”
        She got a $2000 job reduced down to $800.

        I had a tree near the road. Power lines went through it. The power company came and cut some of the worst limbs away from the power line. A while later I was able to pay to have it removed. To reduce my costs on this huge tree, I went out there and helped clean up the stuff on the ground. (I need my feet firmly on the ground so I could not help with dropping this tree.) Half my neighborhood kept driving by because this was a huge tree and it turned into a neighborhood event. I am sure that it should have cost $3-4000 to get rid of it. I think I ended up paying around 1800.

      2. WellRed*

        I think the trees are the least of her issues. Are they posing risk or is it just about natural light? Is this woman capable of owning and taking care of a house?

        1. Amethyst*

          A mixture of both re: the trees. Her house is set in deep shade. There is nowhere in her house that gets direct sunlight in any season except winter, when the trees are bare. It’s indirect/ambient light the rest of the year. Having my own struggles with depression, I know how it gets being in the dark for so long, so I’ve been trying to convince her to clear out more of the trees in the back of the house so she gets natural light in her home. It’s not working so far; she loves the trees & doesn’t want to cut them down, but also hates them because they pose such a big risk to her house.

          She has severe spinal arthritis + arthritis in multiple joints (spine is the worst). She predicts she’ll be in a wheelchair at least part of the time in 5 years. She’s having to do some re-evaluation with her future plans & is extremely reluctant to let go of her current plan. But as it stands, we’re (I & my friend group) of the opinion that she needs to find a smaller place to live since she’s having such a hard time managing. But, obviously, us telling her that isn’t our place & we’re not going to do so *until & unless* she opens that door. There are other logistical/sentimental reasons why she wants to stay here (some mentioned below). We are willing & able to help within reason. I am looking into eventually hiring a housekeeper for her once we are done with the deep clean & dehoarding so as not to drive up costs. Of our friend group, I am the closest to her so I’ll be the one who’ll remind/nag her to put things back in their proper spots or I’ll kick her ass if she starts sliding after we’re done. :)

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Check the age of the house & garage. If it dates to the time when defective cement was being used in many CT homes, look up what the state’s doing to assist, and if there are still claims bring filed against the builder.

    6. Llellayena*

      The other comments have some places you can look for assistance, but I would seriously recommend getting a small home equity loan to take care of the wiring issues immediately. The other things are slow build problems, but if there’s faulty live wiring in the walls that could cause a fire with no warning. Researching a home insurance policy does no good if the house burns down the week you call…

    7. fposte*

      I agree with others that programs may be limited here, but also sometimes these funding possibilities are very local. You might try calling 211 or looking at findhelp dot org to see if there’s anything near her.

      And that’s great work you’re doing.

    8. pancakes*

      I did a little searching and found a few things that may be helpful:

      – an organization called IODF (International OCD Foundation) maintains a list of hoarding task forces & other resources organized by state on its website

      – a moving company in Colorado called Clutter Trucker has something called “The Hoarding Scholarship Fund” (I suppose this is meant to be for people in and around Colorado but maybe not?)

      – a California organization called H.E.L.P. (Helping the Elderly Live Productively): “For referrals to free or low-cost legal service organizations, mental health agencies, and self-help support groups near you, contact H.E.L.P. at 310-533-1996”

      – a cleaning company called Address Our Mess advertises “hoarding cleanup financing” through Lending Point (presumably via a HELOC?)

      If you look into financing, of course do some research of your own into the reputation of the lender, and review the terms very very carefully.

    9. Amethyst*

      Her hoard isn’t bad & is mostly confined to the 3 upstairs rooms. But she does have severe depression & it manifests in not keeping up with the general cleaning her house requires. (It’s also too big for her, but that’s another story entirely, IMO.) We are about halfway done with the upstairs; there a little to do in one room before tackling her room, which is the worst one. Once we’re done with that, we’ll be doing a cleaning party in which the other part of our friend group will be coming in to help make the house shine again.

      When the frost heave happened, she called her insurance. Long story short, her policy specifically does not cover frost heave damage. It also doesn’t cover black mold or flooding.

      She also can’t get a home equity loan–any loan, really. She can’t even refinance her mortgage. She can’t sell her house either, what with the condition it’s in. She won’t either; she’s much too attached to the home because of all that it represents*. When her husband died suddenly 6 years ago, she discovered he’d left her with her credit completely ruined & saddled with credit card debt. (She says hindsight’s 20/20 & if she knew then what she knows now, she never would’ve let him manage the family finances. But… que sera sera.) There’s more to this story but it’d turn into a novel, so please assume he had the best interests at heart & was just a flawed man who made some serious financial blunders while managing his own health issues & occasional crises.

      *My friend is a sentimental hoarder, if that makes sense. She keeps things because of the memories attached to it & has a hard time letting go. She’s gotten so much better & she doesn’t really need me to question her decisions as much, but I’m there as her check & I make her work instead of getting lost in the memories of _thing_. She also has a couple additional mental illnesses that are currently managed by medication & regular psychotherapist appointments.

      1. Lady Heather*

        Uh, that’s a sad situation.

        If she has the finances for it, a weekly or biweekly (or even monthly, if she picks up after herself and is generally clean but just doesn’t get around to scrubbing the shower-type cleaning) housekeeper may be great – an ounce of prevention, and all that. Cleanliness is one of those things that is mostly easy to stay on top of but if you’re not on top of it, there’s a dirt accumulation->overwhelmed->accumulation cycle.

        If the finances don’t allow for a housekeeper, Unfuck Your Habitat has step-by-step guides for cleaning with its philosophy to be very accessible for people with low energy etc.
        Or someone might be willing to clean the house in return for a rent-free place to live – though that comes with its own risks and trade-offs. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that kind of thing if it’s only an hour or two a day. (The difference between “Looking for full-time nanny in exchange for room and board” and “Free room if you vacuum and scrub toilets” is that a person generally spends about a third of their income on housing (maybe less if it’s just a room), and thus that offering a room can never be adequate compensation for full-time work. If it’s 10-12 hours a week, though, that situation becomes very different.)

        But you know the situation twelve times better than I do, so none of this may be applicabe or all of it may already be in place.

      2. flchen1*

        She might consider whether a reverse mortgage would be a good option for her–with her specific situation, it sounds like it might be just the thing to provide her funds to take care of her home while she is still around to enjoy that.

      3. pancakes*

        Argh, that’s tough. Something sort of similar happened with a good friend’s father — he and his sister didn’t realize, until after their father died, that his business had been struggling for longer than he’d let anyone know about, and that he’d already taken out and used every shred of credit against the house he could. Their mother still lives in the house but it’s too much house for her, and they’re also struggling with trees that need work, etc.

      4. Generic Name*

        I hear what you’re saying about the condition of her house with regards to selling it. Has she spoken to a real estate agent who said that nobody would buy her house and is therefore effectively worthless? I know in many cities, a property can have value for the land alone even if the house itself is a complete wreck, so I wouldn’t discount this as an option without having an expert opinion weigh in. Real estate agents are generally happy to answer questions like this, especially if you’ve worked with them in the past.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      The common thread I see though out each problem is excessive water. Something I can totally relate to, I think I live on a swamp. I refer to my house as a houseboat.

      Cleaning up the brush in the yard will be super helpful as that holds moisture in. That is one of the first things we did here.
      The next thing we did was get rid of some trees. They were swamp trees basically, but they were FAST growers, who literally cast a lot of shade. Getting rid of those trees brought even more light in.

      It took quite a while but I worked on the drainage for the property. Her property has a lot of symptoms of poor drainage. This involves putting in pipe, bringing in stone and maybe even bulldozing the landscape so water flows away from the house. I now have a sump pump that drains out into the yard, downhill away from the house.

      Once I got water flowing away from the house I started repairing the house. There’s not a lot of point to doing most repairs if the water keeps coming in under the house.

      I do agree with others that the black mold and electrical problems are safety issues. So before you start your main plan, it’s probably best to take care of these two things first so their ability to cause injury/illness is under control.
      Definitely consider dehumidifiers for the dampness problems. Maybe consider some air purifiers also.
      Oddly the electrical problems might be traced back to all the water issues. That’s what happened to me here. It might be that just leaving the circuit breakers turned off is your best bet.

      Uh, I have to comment about the 65k to fix the frost heave. Does this make sense for prices in your area? Is the garage something special like it’s an old carriage house converted to a garage? This seems like one huge chunk of change to just fix something. Around here people can’t even afford less expensive repairs than that. So we are seeing a lot of old barns and old carriage houses just being destroyed because it is cheaper. Perhaps removal of the garage is the unfortunate solution here. I would get more than one price on the repair.

      So for action steps I’ve got:
      Check around about contractors in your area. Some people enjoy a good rep, some people are known for over-charging. Find out who for the most part has a good rep. Keep a written list of who does well with what.

      Check at your county level for grant opportunities. If they have a decent website it should be posted on their site. Grants are not a magic button. Here a big grant to a home owner would be 50k. And it comes with conditions such as the owner has to remain in the house for x years. If they do not remain in the house they need to pay back a pro-rated part of the grant.

      On the state level I did find a grant here in NY that offered to pay half the costs of a septic system, with payout being up to 20k. So check around on your state’s website for various grants available. Again keep an eye on the stipulations attached to the grant.

      Someone here might know if Habitat for Humanity would consider helping her.

      My last thought is a very long shot, perhaps you have a trade school near you and they would be interested in using your friend’s house to help with course work. This is a very long shot so I would do this last.

      1. Amethyst*

        The garage is attached to the house. There is a room built directly on top of the garage that’s on the main floor of the house proper. Just demoing the garage wouldn’t work because of that.

        The house is set far enough back from the road so there is a lot of side and front yard, next to no backyard. If I had to estimate, I’d guess she has about 20 feet of backyard and nearly all of it is dominated by deck or patio. All of the trees are located just beyond that. (She has probably 30-40 trees back there alone lining hers and her neighbors’ property lines. A lot of them are mature trees with a bunch of saplings/young trees mixed in. She will be having 5 trees back there cut down because they’re a danger to the house right now. But she’s said she loves the trees and doesn’t want to get rid of them.

        The estimate she got was from a company who said they’d have to completely rip up the garage floor, her paved driveway, put a drainage system alongside the house leading out to the road, and then installing the new driveway and garage floor.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Okay. This makes sense. Hopefully they will do an Alaskan pad type of thing which involves materials under the garage floor- such as gravel and sand.

          I kind of figured there was something about the garage that drove up the costs. They will probably have to jack or brace the house while they work on the garage floor.

          All this is such a lot to do. Any idea of the value of the house and/or how much longer she plans to live in the house?

          1. Amethyst*

            I don’t know the value. I’m guessing it wouldn’t be sellable at present due to all the issues. I do know she has a 10 year plan in which she plans to go through her home & get rid of things she doesn’t need. Once that’s done, the house will be put on the market. The proceeds of the sale will go towards a new house she & her wife (currently doing the same with her own home) will buy together. Each of them have a lifetime’s worth of things to sort, & they are also close to retiring from their jobs, hence the 10 year plan.

            1. Venus*

              Every home is sellable. The issue becomes the value. You can typically figure it out by knowing the price of an equivalent home in good condition (say $289k) and then subtracting the price of all home repairs ($45k for garage, $20k for basement) and if there is a lot of work then subtracting a bit more for the effort and time to do the work. So based on my random numbers ($289 – $65 = $224k) you might list it for $199k. Especially as there are likely to be other little related things that need fixing. This becomes difficult if there are a lot of homes for sale because you may not find someone who wants to do the work, and it is hard if a sentimental home sells for what seems like a very low price. But everything is sellable at the right price.

              1. Generic Name*

                This. I hear people say that their house is in too poor condition to sell, and I see on TV shows and in my own area that people buy damaged houses and either repair the building or demolish it and build something new. True, an old house with a ton of issues won’t sell for top dollar, but in general, somebody will buy it.

                1. Venus*

                  I don’t have enough experience to deal with major foundation problems, but buying older homes with a long list of issues is how I’ve afforded to live where I am. I had to spend time arranging for repairs so I wasn’t going to pay full price, yet they got a good price for the home and we’re both happy.

                  My neighbors foundation was crumbling and sold theirs for less than mine. Someone came in and flipped it.

    11. Wishing You Well*

      You and your friends are wonderful people!
      I hope your friend gets help with these issues but I also hope someone looks at the big picture and evaluates if your friend is in a sustainable place. The issues look big and expensive to me. (I’ve been a home owner for many years.) Even if all these repairs are done, can your friend maintain her place on her own? Is the property even worth the repairs and ongoing maintenance? Is she financially able to keep going in this house?
      P.S. Don’t cut down the trees for natural light. That could cause new problems. Get sunlight-type lighting for inside the house instead.
      Thank you for being such a good friend to her!

      1. Amethyst*

        I don’t know the details of her finances, but I will assume that she is able to keep up the bills, etc. for the house. As far as maintaining on her own, I highly doubt it. She has severe arthritis throughout her spine which is affecting every part of her body now. She has it in multiple joints, but the spine is the worst. The cold weather coming in isn’t helping her at all either. She’s predicted that in about 5 years she’ll be in a wheelchair at least part of the time. As I said above, she won’t sell it now for the above reasons & others (some logistical, some not). We will try to help her as much as we can, but I’m sure things will slip. They’re bound to.

        We’re looking at a longterm plan for the yard, & she will be paying us for anything we buy that is for her home. At this point, doing anything but survival-type things is too much for her, so we’re doing the research & contributing what we can, & then she pays us back. Our mutual friends have claimed her yard as “theirs”, LOL, & we’ll be reseeding & planting extremely low maintenance pretty things in her yard in the spring. :)

        She has really incredible neighbors who’ve pitched in & helped her out with the mowing & cutting a dead tree down because they already had the crew working at their own property.

    12. Roy G. Biv*

      Amethyst – I’m a little late to the thread here, but please get those trees taken removed as soon as possible. I also have a house surrounded by tall old growth trees, and loved them dearly, and then one came down in a storm and crushed a significant portion of my home. We were not home, and therefore no one was hurt, but probably would have been had we been home. Upon inspection, we learned the downed tree had been wasting away from the inside for years, even though it appeared healthy on the outside. I am now that annoying friend who points out large trees near a house and asks, “When was the last time you had that tree inspected?” And then I play my slide show of damage as a cautionary tale. Final result, yes, insurance paid for a lot of the repairs, but we were still out of pocket. It would have been more cost effective to proactively inspect and remove trees.

  13. AvonLady Barksdale*

    My doggy had surgery on Thursday to remove some masses from his flank. He’s doing well for the most part– doesn’t seem to be in much pain, has eagerly gone out to pee a few times, less wobbly after the first night– but he will not eat or drink. The vet said this is normal for a day but we’re starting to get concerned and will probably have to take him back today, poor guy. He’s 10 so a little extra initial recovery time from the anesthesia makes sense, but nothing is enticing this dog. I even made him scrambled eggs with blue cheese, he’s not interested.

    I’m trying to focus on the “everything seems good except not eating” and my partner is only focusing on the not eating. Our bud seems somewhat interested in treats but won’t take them.

    Anyone had a senior who did this after a procedure?

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      My Husky had gallbladder surgery about a year ago, and it was about a week before he regained his appetite. The vet said that as long as he wasn’t getting dehydrated not to worry. He was about 10 years old at the time, and made a full recovery. Wishing your good boy a speedy recovery!

    2. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Presumably he was prescribed painkillers and maybe antibiotics? They cause nausea, which is why my clinics always have a big Must Be Taken With Food sticker on any post-surgery pills they prescribe (I’ve dealt with a lot of spay/neuters). So if he isn’t eating then he may be getting nauseous which causes him not to eat which makes it worse.

      I would suggest starting with a broth (the best is a bone broth if you have one in the freezer) and force it in with a syringe if needed. Do that for a day, and if he isn’t eating the next day then maybe try the vet. I have given pure chicken as treats and it is every dog’s favorite. The key tends to be getting something in their stomach so that they get over the nausea. They may have given him a needle that lasts several days instead of pills, but either way I would guess nausea and if it is pills then definitely force food (broth) in with the pills.

      I try to avoid the vet clinic with sick animals as there are contagious things like kennel cough. I go if needed, but would try a few things first.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My vet suggests prepared Kraft dinner for pups who are avoiding food – it’s easy to eat and fairly easy on their tummies, and smelly enough that they like it. :) but I’m also thinking it might be residual nausea from the meds, plus at least for me if I haven’t eaten for a while because of having tummy issues I’m likely to put off eating because I genuinely can’t tell anymore whether the tummy issues are from eating or from not eating and I don’t want to risk throwing up again. :-P

      That actually makes me think – when I finally suck it up and eat something it’s pretty much always a peanut butter sandwich, so maybe see if he’ll take a bit of peanut butter?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Only doggy in the world who hates peanut butter! I tried stinky cheese and hard boiled egg whites and chicken stock… nothing. Sigh. The vet wants to see us later today.

        I do think he’s dealing with some nausea. I just wish he would drink at least! My poor boo.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Elder Statesdog and Junior Ambassador will happily take any peanut butter he doesn’t want off your hands. Or a spatula. Or a butter knife. Or the floor. Or anywhere else it might end up. :)

          Poor guy. Your vet might try an appetite stimulant – a friend of mine was recently having trouble with her pup not eating after a bout of gastritis and subsequent antibiotic related nausea, and they ended up giving him probiotics to help settle his belly and an appetite stimulant and I believe that did the trick fairly quickly.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            That’s good to hear! My partner keeps thinking about IV fluids and getting more freaked out. An appetite stimulant sounds much nicer to me.

            1. TheMonkey*

              An appetite stimulant, an anti-nausea drug, a shift in his current meds if he’s feeling puke-y–your vet has lots of options to get your doggo going again.

              Even IV fluids aren’t that big a deal, though I know it seems like it–they can be done relatively quickly and can get him over a hump or fend off some future problems if he’s starting to get dehydrated.

            2. SpellingBee*

              The vet would probably give subcutaneous fluids rather than an IV – it’s an easy procedure and will rehydrate them without having to have anything in the tummy and trigger nausea. I used to do it myself at home with my elderly kitty who had kidney failure. Hope puppers feels better soon!

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My reply had nesting failure below… search on hamburger, “fish sticks”, or “crazy cocker spaniel”.

    4. Gabby C.*

      Can your vet prescribe an appetite stimulant? My kitties sometimes get sick, sometimes they stop eating, so after fluids and meds, vet always gives anti-nausea pille and appetite stimulants. That may help?

    5. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I have a dog who usually doesn’t eat for a few days after surgery, but I don’t worry about that as long as she’s drinking. A couple of times she hasn’t started drinking as quickly as I wanted, and I had better luck with diluted canned tuna water than broth. Make sure you get the no salt variety, and don’t dilute it to the point that it’s much less smelly.

      I see below that you’re taking him back to the vet, so I’m sure they’ll give subcutaneous fluids if dehydration is starting to be a concern, but thought I’d mention this in case he continues to be stubborn. Or for next time.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thank you! They did indeed give him fluids (he has a camel hump!) and an appetite stimulant. As soon as we walked in after the vet, he drank half a bowl of water. I will take it! The lack of water was our biggest concern.

    6. Anxious Cat Servant*

      One of my cats refused both food and drink after her spaying surgery. We tried everything but then took her to the vet who gave her subcutaneous fluids. She looked a little silly, like a walking water balloon, but she was back to her old self almost immediately and eating and drinking normally.

      Hope your little pup has the same experience and is feeling better soon!

    7. chi chan*

      He probably has sore throat if he was intubated. Give it a couple of days and try some soft warm food like raw mince or something. Not kibble. If he is farting his gut is fine.

  14. AnonyMouse*

    I live in Sweden and thought it would be interesting to share what it’s like during COVID. If you have questions, I’d be happy to answer :).

    Basically, it’s life as usual. We’ve never been in lock down, no one wears masks, everything is still and has always been open. People are out going about their business.

    What is different: clubs are closed, large public gatherings have been cancelled, most office people are working from home. Bus rides are free because they have sectioned off the front part of the bus to protect the driver (and that’s where you need to go to pay). Restaurants have to limit their capacity to fewer guests. That’s about it…

    It’s a bit strange because there is so much on the internet about social distancing and mask wearing, etc. but what is seen as completely socially unacceptable elsewhere (like not wearing a mask) is not an issue here. I basically can’t relate to the internet at the moment. It has also been strange talking to friends and family abroad that are in lockdowns when I can live totally normally.

    One thing that’s interesting and annoying is the amount of false information being spread outside of Sweden about Sweden and inside of Sweden about other countries – when it comes to handling corona. I guess everyone is trying to justify their way of handling it.

    Another thing I’d like to highlight to hopefully avoid a debate: what makes sense in one country doesn’t make sense in another. There are many social and cultural factors in Sweden that allowed the country to stay open without catastrophic impact.

    1. mreasy*

      Isn’t the overall death rate per capita quite high? I wonder what gauge one uses for a “successful” covid response given the seemingly preventable loss of human life.

      1. AnonyMouse*

        I’m glad you ask because there’s a big controversy that relates to this where some super unethical stuff went down!

        When this all started, the Swedish health authorities came up with a plan. Part of this plan included a section on “what to do” if resources ran low and we didn’t have the capacity to help everyone. Basically, it was an explicit directive to not waste resources on people who had a slim chance of survival. This policy was only meant to be implemented in a case where we ran low on resources – this has never been the case. At the start of the pandemic the military actually built a temporary hospital in case the regular hospitals couldn’t handle it, but it was never used and subsequently dismantled.

        Now what does this all have to do with the high death rate? During the first wave, there was a big outbreak in a bunch of nursing homes in Sweden. Instead of sending the infected people to a hospital or sending medical professionals to them to treat them, for reasons still unknown this policy of “don’t waste resources” was (miss)used and those infected in the nursing homes were not treated. They were instead quarantined and given palliative care. Instead of medicine to treat corona, they were given morphine. Morphine actually decreases your chance of surviving corona because it makes it harder to breathe… Really messed up stuff considering at least some of these people would have survived if they had been given the proper care.

        If you google death rate by age group in Sweden you will see that the majority of deaths are of people 70 and over. (With the biggest group being 80-90 yo.)

        1. mreasy*

          Wow, this is really interesting (and yikes, upsetting) – considering the false hubbub about “death panels” in the US around ACA… Though even if the US had a culture of doing what they’re told, the absolute vacuum in leadership and failure to enforce guidelines is why we’re where we are now. Though the numbers in Sweden still don’t look great as the cases are currently increasing…

          1. Enough*

            A guideline is just that a guide. You can’t in force a guideline. Then it would be mandatory and would require legislation and consequences. Plus the US is set up so the states are to have the most power. The Fed’s were/are not supposed to run everything.

            1. pancakes*

              The division of state and federal powers in the US is nowhere near that simple! This is an entire class in law school, if not multiple classes, and some schools (e.g. the Center on Federalism and Intersystemic Governance at Emory) have departments and journals dedicated to the study of it. The wikipedia page on federalism in the US looks like a decent overview and I think you should read it.

        2. TL -*

          The majority of COVID-19 deaths around the world are in the 70+ range and that has been true for the entire pandemic. That’s not unique to Sweden, nor does it suggest a successful pandemic strategy.

          1. AnonyMouse*

            Sure – I’m not here to promote Sweden’s way of handling things. But the country has around 5.9 thousand deaths and thousands died in those nursing homes… it was so preventable and tragic.

            1. Blue Eagle*

              Thanks AnonyMouse for starting this thread. DH and I have always wondered how things were going in Sweden and it was interesting and informative to read all of your posts in this thread and learn about Sweden from the perspective of a person who actually lives in Sweden.

        3. Esmeralda*

          Here is very good data about coronavirus and Sweden (you can look up any country on the main page).

          I am sorry to say that the number of deaths in Sweden is spiking up again. Not as bad as here in the US, but not good.

          Elderly people are most at risk in every country. That does not mean the younger people are not at risk, nor does it mean that younger people can’t spread the virus to people who are risk.


    2. germank106*

      I think one of the main issues is that in Sweden there is ready access to healthcare and a lot more weight is put on the general well being of the population than in the US. So citizens are basically healthy and thus less prone to suffer from the complications of the virus. Not saying that Swedes won’t get it, but being generally healthier helps a lot. Something I’ve also noticed is that people in smaller countries are much more willing to do whatever it takes to slow the spread. Here in the US there are so many people that just don’t want to deal with any measure that inconveniences them in the slightest like wearing a mask or staying away from large gatherings.

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Yep there’s a lot of things that make it sort of work here… some of them are:
        – a culture of staying home when you’re sick
        – a generally complacent population (people do what they’re supposed to)
        – a very high hospital bed per capita level
        – a culture of giving strangers space (I’m sure you’ve seen the memes of Swedes standing at bus stops)
        – the highest level of single occupancy residence in the world (a lot of people live alone and wouldn’t spread it that way – especially older people)

        I’m sure there’s others, but these are a few that come to mind.

      2. AnonyMouse*

        Oh and yes – Swedish people are generally very healthy and active, so I’m sure that plays a big role too!

      3. Nacho*

        True. I’ve heard COVID is relatively non-lethal if you’re healthy, so if you’ve already got a good healthcare system set up, it wouldn’t be as dangerous.

        1. TL -*

          Covid isn’t that lethal in general but like all diseases, it can get unexpectedly bad in anybody.

          The biggest risk factor for severe covid disease is age. Other risk factors, which are significant but not as impactful as age, are obesity, diabetes, and being immunocompromised.

          1. Squeakrad*

            I have just read three articles today about the long-term effects of Covid in younger people. Don’t dismiss it as fine for younger people like the flu is fine for younger people – many people under 50 are having longer-term effects and we don’t know what will happen years down the road.

            1. TL -*

              …I didn’t? I said it’s mostly not lethal – which is true – but it can get unexpectedly bad in anybody and age is the biggest risk factor for severe disease, which is also true.

    3. Sunflower*

      I have a few questions!
      1. Is everyone in Sweden generally happy with this or are any folks fighting back? Things are quite split in the states- we’ve got some folks who haven’t been outside since March and others who refused to follow regulations since this started. Most fall in the middle and it’s become a scale where some are OK with some activities and not others. It’s an extremely heated subject here and I’ve seen friendships end over it.
      2. Are all places following the regulations (ie are bars sticking to the capacity limits)
      3. Have you had an influx of visitors or people moving there for the short-term? Separately, have groups moved out?
      4. How is testing regarded there? Are folks tested regularly(regardless of having symptoms or not), is it required for any activities(like going to a bar) or do folks generally trust testing?

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Good questions!

        1. As far as I can tell, people are fine with it. The prevailing view here is that you can’t shut down an entire country to protect a few people. That the people who are in a high-risk group should take the responsibility to protect themselves. People still question some things, like when they decided to open up the clubs (and promptly shut them down again). But overall, the feeling is that Sweden is handling the pandemic well.

        2. I would say yes and no! Restaurants have blocked off every second table and queues are marked with distancing space, but a stroll through Stockholm at night paints a different picture. The streets and buses are over crowded (considering the pandemic). Bars and gyms have too many patrons. Grocery stores on a Friday afternoon are packed. Etc.

        3. Without knowing the statistics, I don’t think this has affected immigration/emigration or tourism. I think a lot of people were scared to come to Sweden during the pandemic because of the open policy. Fun fact, when the EU countries started opening up their boarders for travelers, Swedes were still banned. There has been a huge increase in local travel – as Swedes have a lot of vacation and weren’t able to go anywhere else.

        4. There are no requirements to get tested to do anything. If you’re sick, then you can order a test online or over the phone. If you’re in a high-risk group, a person will come to your home to do the test. Otherwise it will be mailed to you, self administered, and mailed back. When you get your result, they have a note saying the tests may not be 100% accurate and you should take the appropriate precautions.

    4. stubbed toe*

      Clearly government messaging is important. Checking the coronavirus section on worldometers.info I live in a country with roughly 1/2 the infection rate (infections per 1 M population), and 1/2 the death rate of Sweden … and we keep being told how badly we’re doing and how they’re going to enforce more restrictions. Uni’s are on-line/video/zoom etc. So, it’s really interesting to me the different stories we’re told by government.

        1. AnonyMouse*

          Not sure I understand your point… but the US has higher cases per capita and also higher deaths per capita than Sweden…

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Agreed! It’s fascinating to watch how different governments communicate around COVID. And how that communication in turn affects public opinion and action.

      2. Belgian*

        It really is all about messaging. Belgium is the second worst hit country in Europe right now, but for months our government kept saying we were doing alright. Our schools were/are still open as well (I think 2 universities are moving to fully online starting Monday).

    5. RagingADHD*

      Given what we are now learning about the long term heart/lung damage and other silent internal organ damage happening to people with “mild” and asymptomatic cases, it will be interesting to see how Sweden’s incidence of chronic health conditions and life expectancy change in 5 or 10 years.

      Especially since masking seems to reduce that risk by reducing viral load.

      Are any studies on immunity being done in Sweden? I just saw one from China showing that there was very low persistence of antibodies after several months.

      1. self employed*

        That’s a really good point about long-term damage and its unknowns. This thread feels like pro-Sweden propaganda, which I find mildly hilarious.

        1. AnonyMouse*

          Sorry you feel that way! I actually don’t agree with Sweden’s policy on a lot of things (I’m a non-Swede living here for the last few years). I thought it would be interesting for others to hear about the views in country. I personally wish we were wearing masks and that there were more closures of stuff that can be remote… like universities for example.

          1. Kiwi with laser beams*

            I’m happy to see you saying that. I didn’t want to be rude, but I’ve tuned out pro-Sweden stuff for a long time because of the case numbers and deaths. I’m not afraid of our government doing it – they strongly refuse and we’ve re-elected them until late 2023 – but it comes up a bunch in our media and among discourse between regular people and at this point I just straight up say that if someone wants to argue against lockdowns with me, they’ll get further if they research Taiwan’s method, because Taiwan has kept people much safer.

            1. anon for this*

              I am glad to see a somewhat nuanced conversation here on AAM, as so much of the US discourse is very reactionary and simplistic. Half my family lives in Finland and half in the US, so I’ve heard about the Swedish experiment from several points of view.

              When Americans talk about the Swedish approach, they largely miss a lot of the important factors discussed in this thread: high rate of people living alone, terrible nursing home deaths (and I would call that simple mismanagement, as the Stockholm-area nursing home infections were generally caused by employees), a higher death rate than neighbors, and no reduction to the economic hit. Americans also tend to ignore what Swedes have actually done, as outlined in the post that started this thread: office workers working from home and bans on large gatherings. Most of the US discussion of the Swedish approach incoherently picks a few random facts from this list and then claims something unsupported.

              To be my nerdy data analysis self, I wish we’d all do a better job of discussing our utility functions. What are we trying to maximize and what are we trying to minimize? What are our shared goals? Maybe if we were all clearer on this we’d have a more productive discussion. That’s one thing I can say for Sweden — they’ve done a better job with that discussion (far from perfect, but better) than the US. Overall, it seems like Sweden wants to maximize for “normalcy”, and that they’ve done.

              1. anon for this*

                And sorry I left out New Zealand: they’ve maximized for public health, and that they’ve done!

      2. AnonyMouse*

        Yes, it’s closely followed because the government’s whole COVID policy is based on the concept of herd immunity. Now the numbers are coming in and we’re learning that we don’t have as much herd immunity as initially forecasted and – as you point out – even if you get covid once that doesn’t mean you’ll be immune forever.

        This throws a wrench in the governments plans, but so far they’re sticking to it. I think at this point something pretty drastic would have to happen for them to back down and enforce stricter regulations. It has become political sadly. I guess we will see what happens now that a “second wave” is on it’s way. Maybe we’ll be wearing masks in a few weeks too.

    6. PX*

      I remember reading an article on BBC early on, and they said the biggest thing working in Swedens favour is the high rate of people who live alone, and the fact that working from home could be done fairly easily. Like you said in one of your comments, the fact that the culture as a whole is already pretty good at keeping its distance (lol) already did a lot to help. Plus I do wonder if the fact that wave one being over summer so doing things outdoors was easier helped.

      But an ex-colleague who is based in Sweden definitely found it hard with the fact that people arent taking it as seriously. Their partner was a nurse, so they knew first hand how hard/dangerous it could be. Then someone in their office actually got it, and even though they were a young healthy person, the recovery time was so long that it really emphasized that it shouldnt be taken lightly.

      The approach of trusting the population to do the right thing is an interesting one though. In the Netherlands, they wanted to go the same way, especially about not making mask wearing mandatory. And then the second wave hit and hospitals started to get overwhelmed again, and the Prime Minister actually had to say “we cant trust people to always do the right thing” so now they are trying to enforce mask wearing a lot more. I wonder if a big second wave in Sweden will do the same thing.

      1. AnonyMouse*

        I agree with your ex-colleague! I wish people took it more seriously! I hope they at least go out with a recommendation to wear masks in public now that we’re getting a second wave. And maybe require masks on public transport. But let’s see… I do believe people would wear a mask if it was the recommended/socially accepted approach.

    7. Weekend Warrior*

      In BC Canada, we’ve taken an approach a bit tighter than Sweden, especially in the Spring, and quite a bit looser than many other places. So far it’s been paying off with a lower death rate than similar jurisdictions (Can, US, Europe) although higher than others (Taiwan, New Zealand, etc). https://twitter.com/j_mcelroy/status/1319445080088801281

      Targeted restrictions but never any lockdowns; mask recommendations but no universal mandate; almost everything open now with COVID safety plans and protocols in place; calm, consistent messaging from Public Health not politicians, avoiding blaming and shaming. Like Sweden, mostly information and persuasion rather than coercion.

      Unlike Sweden, our government jumped on the old age home risks almost immediately and put money into the needed changes like single site employment for carers. It has been shocking to see the Swedish death numbers in this area. This in a rich country with supposedly effective and caring systems. (In other Canadian provinces the army (!) had to be called in to the homes to help and the death rate is high. Just expected better from Sweden.)

      All that said, however, our PHO (Provincial Health Officer) has been vilified as a “murderer” by the mask mandate folks and has received death threats from the “muh freedoms” crowd. And people continue to flout gathering rules with large weddings, hockey parent group yelling, and other covidiot behaviour. Our cases, hospitalizations and deaths are ticking up, but not exponentially so far.

      As our PHO says “every place has its own pandemic” and I sincerely wish Sweden and every place all the best in managing theirs.

    8. ThursdayNext*

      I’m not sure that Sweden’s approach has worked. Sweden’s COVID mortality rate ranks 5th among highly economically developed nations, right behind Spain, the US, the UK and Italy. Sweden and the US stand together as the two highly economically developed nations that haven’t reduced their COVID mortality rates anywhere near to the extent that other highly impacted countries have since the start of the pandemic; that doesn’t look like a success story quite yet.
      Sweden’s goal appears to have been to develop herd immunity, which has never been done for an infectious disease without a vaccine.
      Even after all that, Sweden’s second quarter GDP fell more than it’s neighbors did.

      I got this from a Times article that is titled “The Swedish COVID-19 Response Is a Disaster. It Shouldn’t Be a Model for the Rest of the World” and a Business Insider article titled “Sweden’s GDP slumped 8.6% in Q2, more sharply than its neighbors despite its no-lockdown policy”

      1. TL -*

        Yeah, there’s economic studies from the Spanish flu showing that it’s better for the economy to shut down early than to stay open and try to manage through it.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, I’m Finnish and Sweden’s approach has been pretty universally panned here. The Nordic countries have a long tradition of free travel between countries, and when the first wave hit and the border was closed, it really impacted people’s lives on both sides of the border. Lots of people live in Finland and work in Sweden (COL is lower here and salaries are higher there), particularly in healthcare, which was obviously a problem when resources were stretched due to the pandemic. That said, the border was never completely closed to employment-related traffic, but it sure increased the commute for a lot of people. They were used to just driving across the border, but suddenly had to submit to border controls.

        Finland was a lot stricter and our current stats are much better than those in Sweden:
        Total confirmed cases: 14,650
        Total deaths nationwide since the start of the pandemic: 353
        Patients currently in hospital: 59
        Patients in ICU: 11
        Population: 5.52 million

        Sweden has almost twice the population and almost 20 times the number of deaths. I haven’t been able to find any national stats for Sweden, the Folkhälsomyndigheten (Sweden’s CDC) website is a mess (I’m a Swedish-speaking Finn so Swedish sources would work for me).

        Our attitude towards masks mirrors that of the Netherlands. There was a minor government crisis because the government refused to recommend, never mind mandate, the use of masks until very recently. They were accused of refusing to issue a recommendation to ensure that healthcare workers had enough masks (which is nonsense, most people aren’t walking around in surgical masks).

        Finns are even more known than Swedes for keeping our distance from strangers. Many people will voluntarily stand in the rain at a bus stop rather than stand next to stranger out of the rain. We also have a large population of people who live alone in all age groups, including students. For most students roommates are a last resort, only grudgingly accepted if the alternative is to be homeless.

        All other things being equal, Finns are probably slightly less healthy on average than Swedes; overweight and obesity, diabetes and heart disease are more prevalent here. There’s some indication that Swedes of Finnish descent are more susceptible to COVID than the general population.

    9. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I would argue that, in addition to a conformist populace with lower population density, lower inequality, and more accessible healthcare provision, that the sick pay in Sweden is well thought out and generous. If you aren’t at risk of losing your job and are paid a livable level of sick pay, yeah, you may just stay home if you get sick.

      Also, outside of the care home illnesses, the first round was going into spring and summer. Spring and Swedes are out the door in droves at the first sign of moderately non-chilly weather. Summers are full of barbeques and eating outside and getting every last bit of sun possible. Going into the long dark winter, however, let’s see if they can hold it together. That will be the true test.

      My partner is from west of Stockholm and of all family and friends only his mother has tested positive (asymptomatic) and is routinely tested as she works in a doctor’s office. Even the elderly man his parents keep and eye on (and who lives alone, despite being moderately mentally impaired) goes about his days as though life is as its always been.

  15. MBA*

    I can’t find my wedding ring. It went missing in my house while we were basically in full lockdown. I KNOW it’s somewhere in my house but I haven’t been able to find it in months. It’s gotta be somewhere like in the crack between my mattress and bed frame, or the pocket of a purse I forgot I had or something like that.

    It wasn’t that expensive and I miss wearing it, but I don’t really want to buy a new one. I still have my engagement ring, which is the fancy one.


    FWIW the reason I took it off was because I gained a bit of weight due to COVID and could no longer wear it at night or on hot days. I have since lost the weight. Ugh.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Aw boo! I have a history of losing things and finding them as soon as they’re replaced, so what I might do in your shoes is buy an inexpensive ring that I like enough to still wear otherwise (or maybe one of those silicone ones for people who work with their hands a lot) and hope the Vanishing Gnomes considered that enough of a replacement to bring back my real ring. :)

      (I once lost a book I was reading. My apartment was 250 sqft studio, so it’s not like there were a lot of options. I finally bought another copy at the used bookstore three days later. When I got home from the bookstore the missing copy was ON MY GOL DANG PILLOW where I could not have missed it for three days. I had Words with the Vanishing Gnomes. :-P )

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This has happened to me. I once lost my debit card when leaving a store; I thought I’d dropped it either in the store or the parking lot, so I went back in and looked around, but nothing. I called the bank and went right over for a new card. A week or so later, I found the old one in my car, in the crack between the driver’s seat and the console. -_-

        Now I know who’s responsible! *shakes fist at Vanishing Gnomes*

        1. Zooey*

          My mother-in-law lost her wedding ring while gardening. A year later she found it growing up on a daffodil!

    2. Me*

      Dh and I have been married for 25 years.

      Dh has lost three rings. I’ve lost 2. For the most part, I’ve just misplaced them over the years. I have no idea where mine went. He tends to lose them while working in the yard. I do wonder if the cats made off with mine or something like that.

      We no longer wear rings. I still have one. He does not. Rings are just not that important to us. Which is good, because we lose them.

      Dh also loses his wallet with an annoying frequency, but that’s a tale for another time.

      1. allathian*

        Rings aren’t that important to me either. My wedding ring has 7 tiny diamonds set in it, and the inside of the ring isn’t smooth, so the groove keeps accumulating dirt no matter how often I wash it. I also have quite sensitive skin, so I get a rash every time I wear the ring for more than a day or so. I don’t feel any less married just because I don’t wear my ring. My husband wore his until COVID started, but now I haven’t seen him wearing it, either.

        Besides, with the frequent hand washing and sanitizing, I can’t help but think that rings are unhygienic.

    3. Worked in IT forever*

      On the Canadian news recently, there was a story about the actor Jon Cryer who lost his wedding ring in a Vancouver park. He hired a company that finds lost jewelry, and sure enough, the ring was found in the grass. Jon actually filmed the guy finding it. If you Google the story, I’m sure you’ll find it. I don’t know whether that company or a similar one works near you, but perhaps it’s an option?

      1. MBA*

        Thing is, it’s for sure in my house somewhere. I don’t ever wear it outside doing yardwork and it had gotten snug enough that I only wore it very rarely. I can’t really metal detect my house. Do these companies come into my house and check all my pockets and the backs of shelves??

        1. Worked in IT forever*

          I’m not sure. I hadn’t heard of these companies before the news piece a couple of weeks ago.

      2. Stephanie*

        Huh, there are companies that find lost jewelry? I’m guessing they have metal detectors and what not?

    4. Flabbernabbit*

      Funny this came up! I lost mine in my house about 2 years ago. It was a custom design I loved. But while I don’t like wearing it at home, when I’m out, I wouldn’t take it off. It was here somewhere. My spouse and I have cheaper versions we wear when travelling. So I wore that. Looked for it earnestly occasionally, but confident it would turn up eventually. Finally, just last week, doing some clothes sorting (thanks Covid), I found it at the bottom of the drawer! I’ve been in that drawer so many times. Pieced together that the cat probably swiped it off the dresser when the drawer was open. Then it was in folds of clothes until this last time it plopped to the bottom of the drawer, where I could see it and hear it. Feels like I have a new bauble to show off! I think yours will turn up too. One day!

    5. WellRed*

      I lost my grandmothers ring last year. It turned up in the laundry room right next to the litter box. I like the suggestion of getting a temporary replacement until you find yours.

    6. juneybug*

      Ohhh you might not like this suggestion but I would recommend deep cleaning your house. I have lost many things (military ID, rings, wallet, etc.) and once I dedicate a day to serious cleaning (moving furniture to clean between them, dusting baseboards, wiping out cabinets, etc.), I usually find the missing item. For example, my military ID had slipped into a tear in my gym bag liner so it was between the liner and fabric. Had I not done a deep cleaning of my gym bag, I wouldn’t have found it.
      I wish you great success in locating your ring!

      1. Jay*

        This. We found my daughter’s lose driver’s license when we took off her mattress pad to wash it. It was between the bedframe and mattress. She’d replaced it months before, of course.

        My husband once dropped his wedding ring on the bedroom floor. We heard it hit the floor. He looked down and didn’t see it. He kept looking. Couldn’t find it. Pulled everything off the floor of the closet thinking it had rolled in there. Nope. The dogs were on the other side of the room so neither of them swallowed it. He got down on his hands and knees and looked under the bed. Nope. We knew it HAD to be somewhere in the room. Finally he got a flashlight to look further under the bed and saw a glint. Turned out some of the fabric under the box spring was ripped, and it had bounced up and landed on one of the wooden planks. It was sitting on the wood essentially inside the box spring. I’m still amazed that he found it.

    7. Epsilon Delta*

      If it was just a plain wedding band that you lost, I’d probably not replace it either and just keep wearing the engaement ring. Maybe your spouse could buy you a replacement band as an anniversary gift or holiday gift if you still miss after a few months. I know some people put a lot of significance on the ring itself and wouldn’t be comfortable going without, but my impression from what you wrote is that doesn’t describe you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. We wore our rings for years and then we found for various reasons we could not wear them. They sat in our fire safe.
        It’s just me, but I HAVE to check the vacuum cleaner. So when I empty a bag I very carefully sort through the contents on a sheet of old news paper. I have never once found jewelry in there, yet I still feel compelled to check it after I have lost something.

        A friend lost a ring at work. She worked in food service. Just when she had given up, a cohort found her ring… in a PICKLE JAR???!!! It’s always amazing when this stuff is found.

        I do think there is a shift in the problem. Sometimes it stops being about the item and more about the annoyance of not being able to find something. The annoyance becomes that figurative paper cut that just won’t close over.

    8. Stephanie*

      Eh, I would just wear the engagement ring, if you’re not that torn up about it.

      I lost my class ring at my first apartment post-college. I think it fell behind the fridge or stove or somewhere hard to get to as I usually took it off to wash dishes. Given that it’s been 12 years since I lived in that place, it’s gone forever or I’m going to get a random email in a year saying they found a college ring. I felt bad since it was a graduation gift from my dad. He didn’t seem super torn up about it.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I lost mine within weeks of getting it, and the company replaced it. I later found the original, so I wore the two together for a while.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yeah, I discovered they had a four-year warranty replacement…four years and six months after it was purchased.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I still have mine, but it was probably the most useless purchase of all time, since I never wear it and really don’t care. And nobody else will ever want it!

    9. Wishing You Well*

      I heard of a crazy technique (but, hey, if it helps, right?): Every day for 21 days, meditate for 3 minutes on “Where is my ring?” One woman found her ring this way. She was putting away towels in a linen closet and the ring had slipped off her fingers between the towels. Toward the end of the 21 days, she actually remembered feeling the ring slip off her finger. If 21 days pass and the ring is still lost, continue tearing your house apart!
      P.S. I had to switch to a silicone wedding ring due to finger swelling.
      Fingers crossed for you!

      1. Queer Earthling*

        Not that crazy! I always ask out loud to have my lost items returned to me, and I almost always find it the same day; if I don’t, it’s usually somewhere I’ll never find. I don’t know if it’s ghosts or brownies or my subconscious resetting itself or what, and I don’t care, it works.

        (Also I have an adjustable ring for my wedding band, and it’s the second best marriage decision I made. ;) )

    10. RosenGilMom*

      the last time I found a missing ring it had fallen into the toe of a shoe, Go figure.
      My father is particularly good a finding lost things; he sort of goes over everything that happened just following the last appearance of an object. Once found silverware in the linen closet that way.

    11. No Tribble At All*

      Hubs found his under the oven, like beneath the warming drawer of the oven. Found it while sweeping. He has no idea how it got there.

    12. ampersand*

      What I would do: tear the house apart until I found it. :)

      I’m not suggesting you do the same, just—it would make me crazy not knowing where it went and I would be determined to find it!

      1. MBA*

        I’m kind of at that point but we have 4,000 Sq ft and 6 people’s worth of junk. I may just tear apart my master bedroom and see where it goes.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had to go up a size after having my daughter. I went online to a jeweler’s supply store for a plain gold band. It’sthe idea of the thing for me, not the actual one from that day. And my husband’s lost 2…one was a steel band from a craft fair.
      It can’t hurt to do one more search, looking specifically at clothes & things you haven’t used since lockdown. Think office suits, seasonal clothing, suitcases. If you do any messy crafts try in there–painter’s smock pockets, apron worn only when making SpringBirthday’s messy request, the gardening tools spot.
      And one last check of anything in the same color metal… a friend’s gold band once hid on the bathroom counter, looped around the brass pull-handle for the sink-stopper. My mom similarly lost a ring in a decorative brass bowl on the TV stand.
      If you’re a big gardener ask around for anyone with a metal detector you could borrow.

  16. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    I really need to plant my garlic this weekend. The weather is getting colder and will soon be freezing during the day, so I need it in the ground to allow it to grow a bit.

    1. germank106*

      I used to plant mine right before the first frost and covered it with mulch. I uncovered in early spring and waited for good things to happen. Once the weather warms it will grow like crazy.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I picked the last of my jalapeno peppers and now I have to figure out what to do with them. I want to make lots of fruit and pepper jelly with them, but I’m sensitive to sugar and will never be able to eat all the jars it yields. Since I’m not longer in the office I can’t give them away, and most of my family and friends don’t like anything remotely hot–even mild salsa is considered too hot. I’ll probably make the jelly anyway and just store it. I’m thinking I can use it as a glaze on chicken or pork.

      1. GoryDetails*

        The jalapeno pepper jelly sounds great! But you could also just freeze the whole jalapenos – or roast, peel and seed them and then freeze the roasted pieces. They can be added to soups or stews for a little extra flavor and kick.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just had my front garden redone by a professional and I’m super pleased so far, I can’t wait to see how it looks next spring. Every single plant is listed as “low maintenance.” But I panicked yesterday because all six of the hostas are turning orange. It had never occurred to me that non-tree leafy plants might also change colors in the fall!

    4. lapgiraffe*

      When to plant the garlic is always so tricky!! I feel like I’m dragging my heels but it’s been so warm this year and we’ve not even come close to a frost yet. I’ve always operated under “after the first frost” and had good results but every year I doubt myself!

      I wonder if anyone has had luck growing garlic in raised beds. I relinquished my community garden space (that is a whole short story of “you can’t make this stuff up” scenarios) and I can’t plant anything in the ground at my house or my neighbors dogs will destroy it. Any tips?

      1. Venus*

        I’m no expert, but I would plant in the raised beds and cover them up in mulch or similar. My neighbour plants his in a small raised bed (maybe 6″ high?) and has no problems. Maybe try a small trial batch this year?

      2. Me*

        I’ve always had raised beds. Garlic grows just fine!

        Mine are going into super raised beds this year – my new round birdies bed is 30” tall, lol. I have a lot of moles and the beds were set up (by me) to keep them out. Also, my knee sucks so I needed higher beds.

        No issues with growing garlic in them. I tend to mulch all of my beds (because I love slugs?!) to help with moisture.

    5. Me*

      I too need to plant my garlic. I need to order a few bags of dirt for my latest birdie garden bed. A 3’ round garden bed takes a surprising amount of material!

      It’s on my list of things to do today. I purchased new seed garlic a few weeks ago. It was a variety I wanted last year but was sold out. This year there was tons, probably because not as many people are going to the nursery.

    6. Ali G*

      I have to clean out our beds that line the backyard. They’ve been ignored until now, and we just pile up branches and sticks in them. I bought a bunch of wildflower seeds that I’ll need to spread once we’ve had 2 frosts. So I need to get them ready to go. I’m looking forward to seeing what emerges in the spring!

    7. Anonbeth*

      My winter cover crops are a few inches high. We’re getting our first freeze soon, so I hope they’re old enough to make it.

      I need to plant a million flower bulbs soon, starting this weekend. Went a little wild buying them without thinking of how long they’ll take to plant. If anyone has tips I’m all ears, this is my first time doing bulbs. I’ve got the bone meal and the peat moss and the mulch.

      1. germank106*

        Years ago I bought one of those three seasons garden packages. You plant the bulbs like the schematic shows you and have flowers throughout the growing season. Each kit was good for 8 feet of space – I ordered 3 kits. I planted and planted and planted some more and never felt like I was getting somewhere. I finally noticed that my kids were laughing uproariously. My golden Retriever waited until I had a few feet of planting done, then she dug up the bulbs and put them back into my pile of still to be planted bulbs. No treats for that dog for a week!

    8. Lena Clare*

      I am getting my back yard paving done this next week HOORAY! Finally. I have almost gotten all the dandelion roots out in preparation (they are leaving a bit of a garden space for me to plant flowers etc in). It has been very hard work but also very satisfying to pull out those tough things! Hopefully the beginning of November will not be too late to plant out the stuff for spring I want to put in.
      Gonna get some lights hung around the joint as well! I am sitting out in that new back yard come rain or shine. More like rain or snow, but whatever.
      Oh, and I did ask a couple of bricklayers about the back wall which was flaking brick – it is fine. I will repoint it next spring then paint it, but for now it looks messy but it is holding up and is not a danger. Phew.

    9. PX*

      Teeny tiny tomatoes are growing. Not sure why they are so late, so as I’ve said before, it shall be interesting to see how they cope and if they actually flourish. The plant is indoors, its fairly cool but with the days getting shorter now not so sure if they will get all the light they need.

      I started following a plant company on instagram who have some beautiful looking bulbs, so I’m feeling really tempted to buy some even though I have literally no idea how they work or where to put them. I do have a fairly large empty pot I suppose could do. *ponders*

      1. Venus*

        Bulbs need to be cold in order to grow, but you can put them in the fridge. Look up online for temperatures and minimum times.

    10. pancakes*

      My Fritillaria meleagris bulbs have arrived. A silly ambition for an urban windowsill and fire escape gardener, but it feels good to be optimistic about them.

    11. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Picked a lot of green tomatoes last night; the plant was a late starter. Need to figure out what to do with them! (I can’t eat tomatoes right now, but spouse can, and I’m thinking of green tomato crisp.)

    12. Llama face!*

      My potted tomatoes are still living inside with me and my largest tomato baby has reached golf ball size. I live in a long cold winter area so we are already in the minus temperatures here (celsius) and my plants couldn’t stay outdoors. So far my strategy of “leave the fluorescent overhead light on all day” is working and my plants keep trying to grow fruit. Fingers crossed that they make it all the way to red!

      Meanwhile the basil is not doing so well; I’ve never had success keeping one alive indoors and even the additional light (it is in the same room as the tomatoes) doesn’t seem to be working. It thrived outside in the summer but now it’s getting brown and sad.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Forecast tonight for 35°F/1.6°C so the green tomatoes come in today, and I pick whatever dahlias will be pretty in a vase.
      All focus moves indoors… new LED lights as a first step.
      Spreading out the plants in a half-dozen places has already paid off… much easier to spot & stop insect pests. Including pests-on-pests–we evicted without killing a huge caterpillar carrying parisitic wasps. Stomach turning, but safer for my drinking water than pesticides.
      Do any of you have ideas for watering plants that are up high? The living room has some ledges that would look beautiful with plants, but the pots would be hard to reach.

    14. SpellingBee*

      I haven’t gotten my garlic yet, it will probably be coming soon (ordered it from Filaree Farms in Oregon), as it isn’t cold enough to plant it where I am. It will go into raised beds too. I did a second planting of green beans in early September and they’re starting to produce! I wasn’t sure if they would grow in time but they did. At the same time I put in a couple of tomato plants that I had started in pots from cuttings, and have been picking cherry tomatoes for over a week. The jalapeños are still coming strong, so I appreciate GoryDetail’s suggestion to freeze them – I have far too many to use up and all the friends who like them are full up too.

      My narcissus bulbs arrived a couple of weeks ago, but it’s still too warm to plant them so they’re in the wine cellar chilling out. I have 250 to plant . . . I do this every year, and about midway through the planting process I inevitably moan to myself “why did I think this was such a good idea!” However, come spring the display is so wonderful, so in the end it’s worth it. Eventually I’ll fill up the available space!

    15. Girasol*

      We’ve started the process of cleaning out the veggie garden and trimming shrubs and trees at just the right pace to fill the garbage bin every week. Too fast and there’s nowhere to put the trimmings, too slow and there will be too much to get rid of later.

    16. Nita*

      Still no frost, so the garden is staying put. Still picking a big handful of cherry tomatoes every time I come over. There may also be two teeny-tiny beets and one teeny-tiny carrot in the ground – I let them be so hopefully they can grow some more. Not quite what I had in mind, but I guess it’s a learning curve. I’ll figure out what went wrong there by next spring.

    17. Generic Name*

      How does it grow? Well, this snow storm we’re experiencing now is likely the end of the growing season. It’s 13F right now. We got a compost bin and some finished compost from a friend while it was warm yesterday. I’m excited to be composting again. Her yard had some really great looking shrubs, and I’ve decided I need to look into planting some shrubs to go under my pine trees, so I’ll be researching that this winter. Our veggie garden did very poorly, so I’m hoping enriching the soil with some compost and aged manure will help for next year. It’s been so dry this year (I’m in Colorado and wildfires are raging), so I’m hopeful this snowstorm will help some.

  17. thestik*

    I admit I am terrible at keeping in contact with friends, and now I’ve reached a point where I’m afraid to even try to reach out. Why? I think they’ll instantly be suspicious of my reaching out after a long period of time. I think they’ll suspect I have a nefarious ulterior motive.

    The thing is,, I think they might be right. I’m a bit at the end of my rope emotionally thanks to having my safety compromised twice this year. (Without getting too detailed, I witnessed extreme violence, one being in close quarters on a train. My husband and I both decided to call in help to intervene in the second case since someone was physically in danger.) Because I’ve been so emotionally stretched, I feel the need to talk to more people than usual outside of counseling. But because I’ve been crap about staying in touch, I suspect no one will want to talk to me about anything. On top of that, I have been especially ardent about fighting mis and disinformatiom online. I’ve been doing this for almost a decade and had gotten used to a certain level of isolation. I’ve even been blocked by acquaintances across the political spectrum.

    My question is this. Are my suspicions right? Would I be doing more harm than good to myself and others if I try to reach out? Am I in a position where maybe I need to wipe the slate clean and start over socially?

    1. hmmmm*

      I think your reading too much into how others think. You have been through so much. I bet your friends would LOVE to hear from you. People are busy, even during this pandemic. THis is the perfect time of year to get in touch…. the holidays are coming, (I feel) the pandemic has made people want to be in touch with old friends. I’ve done this lots of time – called or emailed and said I’m so far behind on catching up, you have always been in my thoughts, I miss you, how are you, when is a good time for us to chat.

    2. Jewelers husband*

      I can’t see any harm in reaching out to old friends. If they truly don’t want to talk to you (which I think is unlikely) they can just not respond. If you’re worried about coming across as though you’re only contacting them for free therapy about the two recent situations, then I’d suggest just not bringing those up right away or setting yourself a timer to limit how long you talk about it. And otherwise, just make sure you are also listening intently and actively to them when they talk about themselves. Ask questions and listen csrefully to the answers and ask follow up questions. If you’re doing that, then I don’t think anyone will begrudge you some venting of your own.

      By the way, it’s not nefarious to want more social contact during a rough time. It’s quite normal and healthy and doesn’t mean you are “using” your friends as long as you are also interested in listening to and supporting them as well.

      1. Disco Janet*

        I think your last sentence kind of zoned in on the potential problem though – OP says she’s awful about staying in touch. So if she’s been awful about taking/returning their calls and messages when they’re going through a hard time, but now wants them to be there for OP…I can see how the friends could feel a bit used. I think your advice about being an active listener is very good, but I would encourage OP to also consider apologizing if she hasn’t been there for her friends during hard times, and to really think about if they are committed to working on that.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yeah, I agree with this. OP needs to be wary of only reaching out when she needs help and ensures that there’s a give-and-take with the communication and the asks. I had a friend who wasn’t great with keeping in touch and tended to reach out only when he needed advice and it got pretty old and strained our relationship.

          1. Dan*

            Was he a hard person to give advice to? TBH, it’s really difficult for me to reach out “just because” or “just to say hi”. But if I have some sort of reason, I don’t hesitate, and the conversation will almost inevitably drift on to other topics. Don’t ask me why, but “just to say hi” doesn’t count as a reason.

            1. Stephanie*

              Well yes. But aside from that, if the only reason someone reaches out is to get help with their issues, it doesn’t really feel like a two-way street and like you’re there just to suit their needs. I mean, may not always 50-50, but would at least like some ask about how I’m doing or if I need anything before it’s like “let’s workshop my problem.”

        2. Jewelers husband*

          Hmm I guess I had been reading it as “contact hasn’t been happening” rather than “I ignored my friends when i knew they were going through a hard time but now that I’m in a rough place, I want them.” If it’s the former, I don’t think there’s really anything to apologize for, but if it’s the latter, then yeah, I agree OP needs to apologize and commit to some changes if they want involve this friend again. I also think that, either way, holding off on venting about the scary incidents is wise, so friends don’t feel like they are only worthwhile to have around for free therapy.

          What I mean to say with that last sentence is that “times are hard, so I have an increased appreciation for connection and community” is a normal and generally positive impulse. “Times are hard so I want to call up friends I never talk to in order to unload all of my feelings on them and then ghost as soon as I’ve gotten my fill of sympathy” not so good. I was assuming OP meant the first one, but maybe they should consider which one they are envisioning doing and then take steps to make sure they aren’t acting out the latter.

          1. Disco Janet*

            Yes, I think the distinction you make there is an important one! I was having trouble deciphering which one was happening here, so something for OP to think about.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      Reach out prepared to listen. Apologize up front about the long time, say there’s been some stuff for you on top of the pandemic, but you want to catch up and know how they’ve been. Explain your stuff if they ask (people do care about what happens to their friends) but make sure you follow up with / start with significant time listening.

      I just called someone yesterday whom I haven’t talked to in 9mo. He and his wife split up (amicably). She and I have been carrying on the social / operational conversations (our kids are the same age, we try to get them together socially distanced once in a while), so we haven’t had a pretext for calling. I do like him, there’s no reason *not* to call him, so eventually I did. It was great. We caught up on stuff, but mostly it was just like it had been a couple of weeks.

    4. fposte*

      Totally agree with others that your friends don’t have to respond if they don’t want to and a lot of people are stepping up communication right now. I would make sure I focused a lot on them to make sure it’s not just “I need somebody to unload on,” and I’d also consider what I might be hoping for longer-term—a monthly phone call? Daily texts? To talk to them once and move on?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Bingo. Balance out your thinking here by asking yourself, “What am I willing to give? What is actually doable for me?”
        Friendship is a two way street. What are you willing to do in return for their reconnection with you?

        The thought strikes me that you may not need ALL of them. You may need one or two well chosen people. These are people who let you know that you add to their life and you know for a fact that they add to yours. Think of it this way, during happier times, who did you miss the most and why did you miss them?

      2. Venus*

        I would also highlight that this and many of the comments are true for old friends as well as new. I have an acquaintance who reappeared during the pandemic because she was furloughed and wanted to complain about job loss and boredom. And also that I never call. And I quietly thought to myself that I don’t call because she’s too busy for me when she’s employed and only complains at me the one time every year or two that we meet up. But that’s an opinion that I’ve had since the day we met, and why I tend to only socialize in groups. Some people are much more enjoyable in a group, for some reason.

    5. Squidhead*

      If my friend reached out to say “hello, I miss you, how are you?” I’d be happy to hear from them. [I have a dear friend who disappears for long periods, convinces themself that no one will want to hear from them, and then disappears for longer because it becomes self-perpetuating. I’d give anything to hear from them.]

      If my friend reached out to say “hello, I am having a hard time and I miss you, can we talk?” I’d be happy to hear from them and would appreciate the heads-up that *at least at first* our conversation might be centered more on the things the friend needed to talk about. However, I would hope that at some point our conversations would level out and we’d talk about what was going on in my life too.

      If my friend reached out and said “hello, I wanted to say hi and also did you see how inaccurate this news article was about [issue] and I am furious about it and here are the true facts”….I don’t have the energy for that right now. Even when the facts are true, I don’t have the energy for someone else’s outrage about stuff I already find outraging. The fact that acquaintances have blocked you makes me think that “fighting disinformation” is not a good topic of casual conversation among your friends. It’s a noble cause, but it can be exhausting to hear and becomes a very one-sided conversation topic. I, personally, don’t want to feel like I’m arguing with a friend or being lectured. (This isn’t everyone; some folks thrive on this type of discourse. I just shut down.)

      “Wipe the slate clean and start over” seems like a very black-and-white approach. Why not try reaching out to a couple of people–recognizing that 2020 has left everyone a little fragile, tentative, and bruised (at best)–and see what happens?

      1. fposte*

        I like this, and I wanted to come back to that last paragraph a bit. Doing the work to get over a rough patch with a friend can be really valuable, and you can do that and still make new friends.

    6. anon for now*

      This is me! Fair warning: novel ahead. For most of my life, I have not been the person to reach out to friends, so if they don’t reach out, we lose touch. Once we’re no longer in close proximity (school, work, etc), the relationship just drops off. And I’m not talking casual acquaintances either; I’m talking about my best friends from college, who live out of town. I’m talking about close work friends that I hung out with regularly, but haven’t talked to more than a few times since I got a new job. I have a huge habit of not only isolating myself, but also not really seeking out new relationships when I very clearly need them. I also do the same thing you do, where I get nervous about reaching out when it’s been a long time.

      When I started seeing a therapist, maintaining relationships was one thing I really wanted to work on. I love all my friends, I want to know more about what’s going on in their lives! (And also, human connection makes me feel good.) If you have the means to talk to somebody about this, I highly recommend it. We worked together to create goals for how often I would reach out to certain people, and our sessions were my accountability checks. For me, one hard thing was that I didn’t really know how to keep a conversation going. I’ve never been good at it. She had me write down 3-5 topics of conversation that would be relevant to each person I was contacting, including a question or two I could ask to keep it going. We also talked a lot about which relationships I really did want to keep, versus the ones that I might not mind giving up.

      As anxious as I was about contacting these people – some of whom I hadn’t talked to in months or years – every single one got back to me with something like, “Oh my gosh, it’s so good to hear from you!!” In my experience, it’s been really validating, and it’s triggered some folks to reach back out to me more often too. I also think that if you don’t hear back, it’s a good indicator that it’s time to move on from that relationship. At least you’ll know so you can stop spending energy on that person.

      I was also tempted to scratch everything and start over socially (but really, this was a way for me to avoid my anxiety about it). While I think it’s a great idea to find some new friendships, what’s the harm in doing some of both? Reach out to some folks you miss talking to one week, and the next week, join a hobby group to meet some new people. See what sticks. I’m learning that’s all we can really do…keep meeting people, hang on to the ones that make you feel appreciated, let go of the ones that aren’t working. AND it’s a practice. I still get anxious, but a little less every time I take another step. Good luck. :)

    7. RagingADHD*

      Reach out. Just don’t feelingsbomb people right off the bat. Keep it light at first and talk about positive, unrelated things. And give them a chance to talk about what’s going on with them.

      IME, those kind of conversations are going to be incredibly refreshing and encouraging to you, more than you realize. A big boost.

      I miss you, I’m thinking of you. I’m sorry for falling off the map so long. How are you?

      This is always nice to hear, and I’m sure most of your friends will be delighted.

    8. thestik*

      I’d like to thank everyone for their advice. After reading and thinking about everything here, I think that with a few exceptions it will be better for me to wipe the slate clean and start over socially. Now I need to think about how to do that.

      1. RagingADHD*

        However difficult you think reconnecting might be, it’s still going to be a durn sight easier than trying to create a new social circle from scratch in the middle of a pandemic.

        I assume you’re well into adulthood, since you’re married and have been doing the education campaign on social media for over a decade.

        Adults who have lived in the same place for years and yet somehow don’t seem to have any friends at all look just as “suspicious” to healthy new acquaintances, as you fear looking to your old friends.

        You’ll be self-selecting for people who think it’s normal to burn down their social life and walk away. (Or who did so by default because of egregiously bad behavior).

        I assure you, those people are not good supportive friends.

        1. thestik*

          I will likely hold off on creating a new social circle for at least a year. There are a few people I will be staying in touch with, but they are much more used to my work and the trauma that is dominating my mind (which I decided not to elaborate on here for the sake of avoiding a debate about tone). I will likely stick to working with my counselor for the time being and doing little else.

          1. BonnieVoyage*

            Of course you have every right to do that if you wish and I don’t know you and your story, but I am not sure if you are quite hearing what RagingADHD is saying. A new social circle is not something you can just “create” like you’re ordering a new set of friends on Amazon Prime; that is particularly true right now because pandemic, but even in normal times it is very, very common for adults to have problems making new friends, let alone a completely new social circle. I am just not sure why you believe it will be easier to do that than to reconnect with people you already know, unless the relationships have so irreperably broken down that they may as well be over anyway – and if the issue is truly just that you have lost contact then that shouldn’t be the case.

            Whatever you decide to do I hope you’re able to work through your troubles with your counsellor and find peace with it,

      2. Not A Manager*

        I’m not sure what in the comments makes you think that, but if the issue is that you think your social media activity has been off-putting, I think that it’s fairly easy to signal to people that you’re contacting them one-on-one without a political agenda. You can email or message someone and say, “I realized that we’ve only interacted lately on social media…” or “I realize that my social media sometimes gets a bit intense…” “…BUT I’ve been thinking about *you* and I’d love to hear how *you* are doing.” Make it clear that this is personal, as it were.

        1. thestik*

          For me, the decision to start from scratch ultimately stems from seeing very little in the comments indicating how to balance my trauma amid reconnecting, something that I realized today in many tearful conversations will not be possible in the short term. I’m too much of a liability, so pulling away is honestly the most merciful thing to do for the people I might have reached out to.

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            Well, it depends on what you mean. Do you mean “I’m not going to be a good friend any time soon. I will do nothing but demand others spend emotional labor listening to me vent about my own problems and rant about online posts I don’t like?” Well, then yeah, I guess don’t reach out? But also, I’m not sure how you expect to build new friends if that’s how you intend to behave.

            Also, “merciful?” You aren’t rabies and your friends aren’t Ol’ Yeller. You’re a human with a functioning brain and the ability to control your actions. If you want to make sacrifices for your friends, sacrifice a bit of your urge to be the center of attention, and instead focus on them for a bit.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Ahhh, NOW I actually understand your question, through my own lenses of course.

            I do agree that it’s difficult to reconnect with people after a traumatic event. There is some sense of the intensity being a burden.

            What to do is to develop relationships with the people who do show up and who do give offers of help. This will not be a huge crowd so you will be able to sort through and find a person or two who actually offers meaningful support.

            A rule of thumb that has helped me a lot is to remember that the people who “should” help us probably won’t help us. It’s the people who don’t “owe” us a thing who can be of the most help. There’s lots of reasons for that, so I won’t get bogged down in the reasons. It’s more to the point to keep looking around in present time to see who IS concerned. The people who have some skills and some resources tend to be the ones who come forward. They self-select, we don’t always get to pick out these people.
            So by way of example, here’s one thing that happened to me. My husband passed away years ago. He went from working 70 hours a week to no long with us inside of three months. It was sudden and it was very disconcerting. I fully expected family to help. What happened was random people from church came by, they helped me with my windows, they cut dangerous tree limbs and so on. At the end of the work day, I realized something. The family members I “expected” to help me did not have ANY of those skills. They could not cut tree limbs or help with my windows they did not know how to do these things. My example here involves tangible things which I think adds clarity to my main point.

            I did not get to pick out who helped me process my emotions either. I did seek help from professionals so I had that in place. Free grief courses and free budgeting courses were available at church. so I took advantage of that. No single activity helped me through that time. It took several activities. I think this might be something for you to consider. I needed specialized help and not everyone has those skills. For me to expect family to help to that degree was probably not realistic as they did not have the skills.

            Do whatever you need to do to get yourself some support. I picked church, massage therapy, and life coaching. You will probably have your own ideas of what would be supportive for you right now. With these activities in place, my friends could just keep their roles as being friends. They did not have to do the heavy lifting. (I could see the relief on their faces: “You found a life coach? Really? That is so cool!’)

            You have had some intense stuff go on. Plus Covid is exasperating everything right now. Get yourself the real support that will actually do something for you. I dunno what would be meaningful to you, but I bet you almost intuitively know what would be helpful. Generally we have a good idea of where to start these things, but we tend to push these ideas to one side. My back really hurt, so it was clear to me that I needed help with that. I started with the obvious things and pulled in extra help for those things. Then I just allowed time to show me what else I needed to address.

  18. Sunflower*

    Can anyone who’s gotten work done at a dental school share some details of their experience- especially if they’ve gotten an implant?

    I’ve got a tooth at the back of my mouth that needs to come out. I’d like to explore using a dental school to save money for the implant. I’ve had tons of dental work done including 2 implants on my front teeth so I’m not skittish but how did the process go? How many more appts was it than it would be with a dentist? Did anyone screw something up? Cost wise, how much did you end up saving? TIA!

    1. Texan In Exile*

      I got my implant at the U of TN dental school in Memphis. It cost $675 (part of that was for the donor bone, I think). The quotation I had gotten from a private dentist was about $4,000.

      I have had two root canals at the Marquette U dental school in Milwaukee. They have cost $75 each, I think?

      In all cases, I was seen by graduate dental students. That is, dentists who had been practicing already but had returned to school to learn a specialty. So this was not first year students! These guys knew how to give shots, etc.

      The only thing that was different from a private dentist was that each appointment took a few hours more than a private dentist would take. After each step, the student dentist had to get sign off from the professor.

      But I experienced no extra pain. The student dentists knew what they were doing. It was more boring than anything else. I am very happy with the work they did.

      My mom also had her implant done at the U of CO dental school in Denver. It was financially worth it for her to drive to Denver from Colorado Springs three or four times. I think she also had initial estimates from private dentists for about $4,000.

      Dental schools are worth the extra time it takes!

    2. Choggy*

      I got braces when I was in my late twenties through a dental school and the cost was half of what a private orthodontist would have charged, as I was paying this all myself. I had to get 4 teeth pulled due to my mouth being so small. While it did not hurt, it was rather traumatic having someone pulling perfectly sound teeth from my mouth. The kicker is that he told me to come back and see him, um, no thanks! I took the train there and back, by myself, and had no issues other than not realizing I had blood dripping down the side of my mouth until it hit a spot that was not numb (my throat!). All in all, though, I would recommend a dental school, as long as those working on you are interns or better, there is always a full fledged specialist nearby checking in. This was at Tufts in Boston, which is a very reputable dental school.

    3. StudentA*

      I don’t remember what I got done there, but it wasn’t anything too complicated. They had a professor there to advise/observe, but they left, then checked in later.

      It was not free and frankly was not as cheap as I thought it would be. I guess it would be an option for people without dental insurance, which applied to me at the time. The other thing to be prepared for was their hours were not as accessible as I would have expected. They were on a few days during the week and a number of hours those days. So if you were, say, in pain and needed to be seen right away, it may not happen. The other thing I hadn’t thought of was that it would take place only when school was in session, and only during certain times of the semester.

    4. Stephanie*

      Yup, I’ve done it! I was between jobs and had emergency medical insurance, but no dental. The students were thorough (and did things like teeth mobility checks that a dentist wouldn’t bother doing because of my age), but everything took 2-3x longer than it would at a dentists’ office. Usually this was because they had to have a professor check everything they did. I got a couple of fillings done, so the students had to drill out the decay, have the professor ok the drill, do the filling, have the professor ok the filling, etc.

      I think it took an extra appointment longer than it would have. They also had half-day appointments (versus an hour appointment for something minor like a filling). They had to do an intake and the student developed a plan that had to be reviewed, so that also took longer. The clinic I went to dealt with a lot of retirees and un(der)insured, so I think they were used to dealing with high-need cases.

      Mostly ok with the work they did. I did have a filling pop out like two years later, I think. I was just eating lunch and this tiny piece of silver came out my mouth. I had dental insurance by then, so I just went to the dentist to get it fixed (with a composite filling since I had income to afford the nicer filling ha…)

      1. Squeakrad*

        I want to both of our dental schools for years when I had no insurance and they did a fine job with routine cleanings and a couple of fillings. However one feeling was extremely large and it turned out I had to have them come out anyway which I would rather have done when I was younger.

        I had an implant a few years ago from my dentist working with an oral surgeon and I’ve had no problems whatsoever. Reading about the issues many people have with implants I would never trust a dental student to do this kind of work.

    5. No fan of Chaos*

      I know no one wants to think about dentures but I love mine. Had them for 20 years. I could be driving a porche for all the money I wasted in my mouth. No one knows I have dentures and I don’t talk strangely or lisp and they don’t slip or move around. I can chew anything and no longer have nightmares about my front teeth falling out. Just thought I would add an option.

    6. pcake*

      All my son’s orthodontic work and dental work was done at UCLA dental school, and it was done well and lasted well. His work cost about one quarter of what it would have cost otherwise.

  19. hmmmm*

    I’m a planner and trying to get organized for a better 2021. A lot of my computer files – pictures excel word and music mostly I have on my computer and backup on an external hard drive. This works well for me.

    However I have a few files that I use daily to keep track of things – stuff for a side business client (nothing in the file identifies my client or is confidental), my weekly budget, some documents for volunteering I do. I usually carry around a thumbdrive.

    Has anyone ever used googledocs or something similar as basically storage for their files?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t personally like the Google suite, but I’ve used Box, Dropbox and iCloud Drive for file storage at various points and have been reasonably pleased with all of them.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          They’re all on my computer’s actual hard drive, and my computer is a Mac so I back it up regularly (and automatically) to an external hard drive via Time Machine, plus the files are all sync’ed to the cloud. But I’ve never had to access the Time Machine drive (knock wood) and when I changed computers this summer, I just logged into iCloud and all my files automatically downloaded from the iCloud Drive to the new computer. So yes, I do have incidental local backups, but I don’t go out of my way to keep extra backups aside from the automated process that my computer does by itself.

        2. PollyQ*

          All of those services include functionality so that copies on your hard drive (and other devices, if desired) are automatically synced with what’s on the cloud. I also have a separate backup plan that backs up everything on my computer.

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      I prefer Microsoft 365. I have the personal plan ($69.99 annually), which includes 1TB of space on OneDrive. I like having access to the latest desktop and mobile versions of Office, access to my files across devices, and being able to manage file versions. The free version will give you 5GB of storage and access to the web apps, which is the same as Google. I have a Google account as well since I also have a Chromebook, but I am only using the free version. With Google, you’ll get 15GB of storage for free, access to their app suite, access files across devices, and be able to manage file versions. They’re both pretty much the same, I just prefer the Microsoft apps.

      1. HamlindigoBlue*

        Just to clarify, when I said the free version of MS is the same as the free version of Google, I just meant in terms of what you get access to (web apps, storage, file version management). The amount of storage space is the main difference between them. I want to say Google started out with less space (5 or 10GB) and increased it to 15GB.

  20. Green Snickers*

    This might be a dumb question but can anyone recommend some easy-ish reading on political campaigns/money in the United States and why certain things are allowed? The idea of paid political ads is mind-boggling so I’ve gotta assume the government has to be making money off of them yet I can’t find any information with any stats.

    1. university minion*

      Russ Choma has covered money in politics almost since the Citizen’s United decision was released and he wrote extensively about it while at the Center for Responsive Politics. There’s definitely some interesting reading there.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      Wikipedia’s “Campaign finance in the United States” is pretty good, especially the first three sections. Then read the entry on Citizen’s United. It’s… something…

      The ‘why’ comes down to ‘money is speech’ and our enthusiasm for the First Amendment, stating the people have a lot of rights to speech (ie, the govt can’t do much to limit it), and the US oligarchy’s desire to use their money to maintain their power.

      Stats on govt income: Various govts make some money off political ads, with sales tax and media corporation income taxes, but sales tax varies by govt (state, county, and/or city), so that’s really hard to track. Income taxes: my understanding is that political campaigns are a significant income stream for media corps, but because of the internet, it’s become very hard to track who is getting the money. I did a quick check, and Comcast, the highest grossing US media company, which owns NBC, Telemundo, MSNBC and several internet outlets, pays about 30% of their net profits / 10% of their gross income, which is actually pretty fair for a US company. There does not appear to be a bump in gross income every four years or even every other year, so political spending doesn’t seem to be a big portion of their income.
      (source: Macrotrends stock analysis, stock symbol CMCSA)

    3. pancakes*

      The Federal Election Commission (FEC dot gov) has a Resources for Journalists page that looks useful.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I have liked the How Stuff Works Site for a long time. So I just did a quick google now, and there were plenty of hits for “howstuffworks and US campaigns”.

    5. PollyQ*

      I’m not sure what you mean by “the government making money off them” — can you say more about that?

      1. university minion*

        For what it’s worth, what’s kept me from getting annoyed with the volume of election mail, ads, etc, this cycle is reminding myself that actual people create, do the setups, printing, etc of this stuff and it creates jobs. Jobs mean commerce and tax revenue for the government.

    6. ....*

      The candidates pay for them with their donations or personal finances. The government doesn’t make money off them.

    7. RagingADHD*

      The government doesn’t own media outlets in the US, so no they don’t make money off political ads. Except indirectly, I suppose, through taxation of the media companies – but that would be the same no matter who buys the airtime.

      Free speech is often thrown about in discussions of offensive speech. But really, the fundamental purpose of free speech is to protect political expression in the public square – which includes renting airtime or print to promote a candidate or issue.

  21. Anon Animal Lover*

    Thank you to all those who offered advice last week on starting a spay/neuter charity (link below).

    Sorry that I wasn’t able to respond to The Other Dawn or Scout Finch at the time, as I hit technical problems. I know that it won’t be easy, especially the people, and that is what I’ve been worried about most! Thank you Scout Finch for spaymemphis. I looked them up and will use their website for ideas, and may get in touch if I have questions. I really appreciate knowing that they are approachable. They look like something I would dream about, as they are doing so much good for their community.

    In an exciting update, it was confirmed this week that the local shelter is working with a current rescue to fix 10 cats in a Spay Day. This is similar to a few suggestions that I received last week, and had been planned for the past month but is now confirmed. I worry that covid might cause the surgeries to be delayed, but they are scheduled for this week so I might have a good update this time next week! I have volunteered to help, and am hoping to find out if the shelter would be open to doing more of these. This would be the optimal situation, where the shelter would offer at-cost or discounted surgeries, and I could recruit volunteers to help with the parts that the shelter can’t support, specifically assistance to low-income families with paperwork and drivers. I have heard that relatively few people access the clinic, so if I can learn more about the barriers and offer suggestions and support on how to overcome them, then that might be a really effective way to help. As one example, they require paperwork to prove low income which can be invasive and difficult to obtain, yet there are city services which help low income families so having a referral from that service could be sufficient if the shelter is willing to change their rules.

    This will be a slow process to get everything moving because I want it to be done right, but I’m hopeful that there will be some success. The clinic this week will result in many fewer kittens next summer, and we can keep building on that positive thought.


  22. Ali G*

    Hi Everyone! I hope you all doing the best you can these days.
    We’ve decided (for now) that we are going to go visit my brother for US Thanksgiving. He is about a 6 hour drive, so we plan to go the weekend before and stay a little over a week. Our 2 households are small (just me and hubs and him and GF), so we are all OK with this. He also lives in a place where the weather should be nicer, so we can catch a little bit of the last of fall and be outside, go hiking, biking, etc.
    Anyway, we won’t do a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (he may actually join his GF’s family for the afternoon), so I decided I want to make paella. It’s something I wanted to do for a while. So, does anyone have a great paella recipe? I was thinking of getting a paella pan and leaving it for Bro as a housewarming present (it could also be used as a griddle or to cook pizza).
    I’d love to hear any tips or recipes you have!

    1. lapgiraffe*

      I recently went with the one on the back of the bag of Matiz Bomba rice and it was pretty close to perfect (though I over salted it just a smidge because I added a chorizo I forgot I had last minute and it took it over the edge). Apart from me adding chorizo I followed the recipe exactly and it made for the most perfectly cooked and tasty shrimp of my life!

      1. lapgiraffe*

        Also I just used a 12 inch nonstick pan and only half the recipe, that was spot on for 2 people in terms of protein but more from a rice perspective. I think you’d definitely need a proper pan for the full recipe but also be prepared that it will make a LOT

    2. pancakes*

      La Tienda has some good-looking recipes. I’ve ordered from them in the past but I leave paella to restaurants just because we have some good ones here.

  23. Prepping to move and dog*

    We are prepping to sell our condo. Which means people coming in and out more than ever. Cleaners, painters, contractors/ handiwork people, realtor, etc. Our teenage toy poodle is stressed out with the interruptions in her routine. She ended up with intestinal colitis (bloody diarrhea and vomiting) a couple of weeks ago. She’s better now but still stressed and can’t sit still.

    If we put her in a crate or a closed room she tries to scratch the walls and runs at them.

    Pre-covid she was fine with friends and family visiting. But cleaners, painters mean a lot more disruption. Furniture is constantly being moved.

    Anyone have any advice on how to keep her calm? I can’t hold her for hours and need to work from home

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Thundershirts and D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) (otc brand Comfort Zone, may also be available from your vet.) have had studies from independent groups showing effectiveness for anxiety. Sergeant’s collars have some anecdotal support, and none of these have side effects. After that, check with your vet.

      As small as toy poodles are: have you tried one of those covered cat beds? $20ish, set it up somewhere near where you’re working, get her interested in it with food, fill it with your scent via a sock or tshirt, don’t let new people touch or move it…

      Good luck, and all the hugs to your doggo

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Is daycare an option? You will need to do a trial but it’s not bad. That is our solution for getting our bud out of the way– best thing for his sanity!

    3. MadMaddy86*

      Have you tried a thunder shirt or a makeshift one? Also talk to your vet but maybe giving her a benadryl maybe like 30min before strangers come over might help? is she food driven and easy to distract with food- if so maybe you can distract her with treat puzzles or a kong filled with peanut butter and treats that has been frozen over night? Also in most grocery stores there are sou stock marrow bones that are frozen that you can buy- my dog growing up loved them and it would take them like an hour (we are talking like a 60lb chesapeake bay retriever) to eat the frozen marrow from the bone. she would then gnaw on the bone for at least 30minutes after.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      These suggestions are really good.
      I’d like to add the suggestion of actually treating her digestive track since that is the physical manifestation of her worry. This would be a two-pronged approach, where the emotional aspects get help and the physical symptoms get help.

    5. RC Rascal*

      I day-boarded my elderly cat at the vet when I was having work done on the house. Saved him a lot of stress.

    6. A313*

      I don’t know if this would work, and you’d have to get the people coming to your house in on it, but what if they offered her treats when they arrived so she might associate strangers with something good? I hope the commotion/disruption is over soon.

  24. Tookie Clothespin*

    I have a nephew who has two new stepbrothers. Due to the pandemic, I’ve only met them once (briefly) but they are 7 and 9. Now that the holidays are coming up, I have no idea what to get them for Christmas. I don’t want to spend a ton (maybe $20-25 each?) , but want to get them both something because I get my nephew a present and want them to feel included. Anyone with young boys have suggestions for what they might like?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Is your nephew old enough to be part of the fun of helping figure out what they want?

    1. OTGW*

      Seconding just asking the parents, but books are usually a good start. I like to go nonfic for kids cause you can get some pretty cool books about interesting things like animals, or the body, or even general history. Dinosaurs too are a pretty solid subject.
      Board games are also a good start too.

      1. Tookie Clothespin*

        Thank you for the dinosaur tip! My nephew is really into dinosaurs, so it’s good to know that older boys like dinosaurs too. I generally do books for my nephew so this is a good start.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      My kid’s 12 and a geek. He was *aaaaallllll* about anything Minecraft related from age 6 – 10 – plushies, comics, ‘how to’ books, tshirts – had a tiny dip in interest when he was 11 and he’s back to it this year. Ask their parents if they’re into Minecraft yet, and if they have the Creeper hoodies yet. There also seem to be waves of games that the kids get into – two years ago it was ‘5 nights at Freddies’, this year it seems to be ‘Among Us’.

      If they’re more sports interested, shirts from their favorite teams or players are usually good. Pokemon is also still holding strong for a lot of kids, so packs of cards are usually good. Or board games like Apples to Apples or Exploding Kittens.

    3. All the cats 4 me*

      In precovid times, I made and sold kids jewelry at markets. Many of them are obsessed with comic book/video/movie/characters/dinosaurs/sports/vid games…

      If you can find out their interests, pretty much anything branded in their passion is a good bet.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*


        I have a nearly-7 and a 9, and Lego would be ideal, particularly from someone who couldn’t be expected to know them well.

        And, brutally, if they’re unwanted or duplicates then they’re easily stored and eventually regifted.

    4. Lexie*

      With kids I don’t know I tend to go with art supplies. It can be as basic as a sketch pad and bunch of markers and colored pencils. It doesn’t matter if they already have them because its something that gets used up and they are still at the age where they may need them for school.

    5. Ali*

      I’m reading the Encyclopedia Brown books to my 7-year-old nephew over Zoom, and he loves them. For the 9-year-old, I hear the Percy Jackson books are quite popular, though I’ve never read them myself. At that age I remember I really loved the Edward Eager books.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Re books for kids that age: I’ve recently discovered Ursula Vernon’s “Dragonbreath” series, rated for ages 8-12 but with appeal on either side of that range. [Heck, I love ’em, and I’m in the high 60s!] You could try the first volume, and if the kids like it there are something like a dozen in the series now.

    7. dryroasted*

      I have an 8 year old. I agree with asking. Some good suggestions here. Minecraft, legos, and I would add beyblades and hexbugs. Both available on amazon. There are also some really great graphic novels. If you want to make sure they are age-appropriate I would check commonsensemedia dot org. It’s my go-to for making sure. Good luck!

    8. kt*

      I got the Magnificent Makers series for a friend’s kid (9) and when I asked how kid liked them, parent said “she’s reading them for the second time now… and they only arrived yesterday….!”

      Yeah, books are great :)

  25. Achoo*

    What’s your favorite vegetable-heavy main dish?

    I’m trying to up my veggie intake, which is tough since I am not naturally drawn to them. Sheet pan roasting is ok, but suffer terribly if reheated. There are only so many salads I can eat. Point me to your favorite recipes, pls!

    1. CatCat*

      We eat vegetarian 99% of the time. Some of our go-tos that are great just using a bunch of whatever veggies are available:
      – Stir fries
      – Curries (both Indian and Thai)
      – Veggie soup
      – Burrito bowls

    2. Lena Clare*

      – I love sheet pan roasted veggies with felafel and couscous!
      – I make my own vegan mayo coleslaw with white cabbage and carrot grated, then stuff it into a pitta with some sweet chili sauce. If you eat meat, feel free to add kebab style meat to it too. Mayo (either kind) and sweet chili is a great combo!
      – Broccoli and spinach soup – 500g spinach, 100g broccoli, 1 onion, 800ml stock, 2 cloves of garlic cooked and whizzed up together.
      – a nice homemade dressing with warm cooked new potatoes, edamame beans, rocket, avocado, chickpeas, and tomatoes would make a variant on a plain salad.
      – Roasted red onions on top of sundried tomato paste/tapenade on a puff pastry base to make a tart, served with green leaves.
      – Deconstructed pesto (garlic, lemon, olive oil, basil leaves and pine nuts) mixed with cooked pasta. Mixed with salad leaves when cold is nice too.
      – look for a nice risotto online. I no longer eat cheese, but when I did I very much enjoyed red onion and balsamic vinegar risotto with mozarella.
      – I am addicted to Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s vegan bahn mi. Mushrooms for the ‘meat’, radishes and cucumbers for the pickle, and fresh herbs (plus other delicious things like almond butter).
      If you look for veggie recipes online you will probably find some nice looking things to try :-)

      1. MadMaddy86*

        If you dont like spicy then- Rachel Ray’s winter vegetable stew w/ gouda latkes is really good

        link: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/vegetable-stew-with-potato-and-cheese-pancakes-recipe-1941093


        3 cloves garlic, smashed

        1 pound, 16 to 20, crimini mushrooms, halved

        2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan in a slow stream

        1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces

        1 medium onion, chopped

        Salt and freshly ground black pepper

        1 (15-ounce) can chick peas, garbanzo beans, drained

        1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

        1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, in puree

        2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

        2 pounds all purpose potatoes, such as Russets, about 3 large potatoes, peeled and shredded

        1 small onion, grated

        3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

        1 1/4 cups shredded smoked gouda cheese, the yield of an 8-ounce piece

        Olive or vegetable oil, for frying

        1) In a medium pot over moderate heat saute garlic and mushrooms in extra-virgin olive oil for 2 or 3 minutes. Add zucchini and onion to the pot and season vegetables with salt and pepper. Saute another 5 minutes. Add beans, cumin, tomato and chopped rosemary. Bring stew to a bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.

        2) Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add a thin layer of olive oil or vegetable oil to the pan, just enough to coat the bottom. Combine potatoes with onions and flour. Mix in shredded cheese. Spoon piles of potato and cheese mixture into the pan, making 3-inch rounds, 1-inch apart. Cook cakes until golden and crispy, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove cooked cakes and repeat process.

        3) Arrange cakes, 3 per person, on dinner plates and top with ladles of mushroom and zucchini stew.

    3. Ali G*

      Something that’s easy to do is to add veg to things you eat already. I add spinach and mushrooms to tomato sauce (pizza, pasta), soups and stews, etc.
      I shred zucchini and add it to meatballs or meatloaf (serve with tomato sauce above!). You can’t even taste it and it bulks it up and keeps them moist.
      Riced cauliflower instead or or as a part of regular rice dishes.
      Pesto can be made from anything: kale, broccoli, bok choy.
      Do you eat beans? A fun dinner is a skillet “nacho” where you can use meat or not, beans, canned tomato, all kinds of veg, and you cook it in a skillet, top with cheese and melt under the broiler. Eat with tortilla chips. You could use a little meat, but stretch it with mushrooms, beans, and other good stuff.

      1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

        Seconding this! Some of my frequent go-to vegetable heavy things are pasta with red sauce (adding lots of peppers, mushrooms, and grated zucchini/carrots/beets to the sauce), egg noodle casserole (with tons of broccoli, peas, green beans, mushrooms, and spinach), chili (lots of onions, peppers, and celery, with plenty of beans, bulgur, and barley for extra fiber), and black bean enchiladas (full of zucchini, corn, peppers, and tomatoes).

        You can also sub lentils or barley for the meat in things like sloppy Joes and cottage pie, and add plenty of extra veggies. Curries are great too. Basically anything where the flavor has more to do with the spices than the other ingredients. You can also add things like diced carrots and radishes to chickpea/tuna salad, sub avocado and/or sriracha for most of the mayo, then serve in a wrap with spinach or sprouts.

        I also try to default to green leafy stuff as side dishes instead of starches. We eat spicy braised greens far more often than mashed potatoes, for example. I just find it much easier to work in vegetables to what I already like instead of trying to ignore all my cravings for comfort food. Hell, I’ll eat a frozen pizza or make burgers and fries if that’s what I really want, but I’m adding mushrooms, peppers, and squash to the pizza and half those fries are sugar snap peas.

    4. GoryDetails*

      Ratatouille! I sometimes make it the traditional way, and sometimes just fake it by nuking all the veggies together and then sauteing them a bit to get the consistency I want. And I found some sheet-pan variations where you just roast all the veggies together; search for “Simple Baked Sheet-Pan Ratatouille” for some, including the “Feasting at Home” site one, which I think is the one I tried.

      I’m also fond of red beans and rice – from scratch or via the Zatarains mixes. I’ve added frozen okra to boost the flavor – but I love okra and I know that not everyone does, so adjust to your own preferences.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I second ratatuoille, which I like to serve over quinoa or rice. One thing I like about it is that you can toss in other veggies you like. I often add green beans. I typically make a big batch that I can eat for several days.

    5. Emma2*

      I tend to eat my roasted veggies cold the next day for lunch – I might have roasted veggies and some type of protein (I often use smoked tofu) with quinoa and top it all off with a ginger lemon tahini sauce (I use the recipe on Minimalist Baker – it is amazing). I agree they don’t reheat well, but I am usually happy to eat them out of the fridge.
      Veggie tacos – there is a Meera Sodha recipe available online (on the Guardian website) for cauliflower and sweet potato tacos that I really like.
      I make kale pesto (recipe on the Cookie and Kate blog) and serve it with roasted broccoli and pasta (you could also mix other veggies into the pasta, add olives or sun-dried tomatoes, etc depending on your preference).
      More lentils than veggies, but a nice quick dinner is the Minimalist Baker recipe for spicy red pasta with lentils (you can also add extra veggies into the sauce, e.g. mushrooms or frozen spinach).
      Brussels sprouts may not be your thing if you don’t already love veggies, but I really like the recipe in the Green Roasting Tin cookbook for Crispy Tamarind Sprouts with Peanuts and Shallots (you can find it online on the Happy Foodie site).

    6. It’s the comments for me*

      I’m not sure what your comfort zone is, but my family is Korean so one of my favorites is kimchi stew, with tofu and green onions (if you want a recipe just Google kimchi jjigae) and sometimes I add other vegetables to it as well, and also curry recipes! Bibimbop too. I also love masoor daal, it’s chopped sweet potatoes, lentils, onions and so comforting. The NYT has a good recipe (definitely follow some of the modifications in the comments.)
      – I also just like subbing out anything that has meat for a bean and vegetable. Like quesadillas, make them black bean and corn and roasted peppers. Rice and veggie bowl with chickpeas. Grilled cheese but throw some artichokes and sun dried tomatoes on there.

    7. Laura H.*

      Fried rice with cooked frozen mixed veggies (or a frozen pea and carrot mix) in it with or without a meat add in makes a decent main dish or side!

    8. Redhairrunner*

      Sheet pan roasted veggies reheat best in a pan I have found, you can then add eggs and turn it into a frittata.
      Also lightly steamed or sautéed broccoli is a great add in for spaghetti with sauce.

    9. lazy intellectual*

      I love pureed veggie soups and stews! Lentil soups with spinach, tomato and roasted red pepper bisque, and roasted butternut squash, cauliflower, and carrots all blended together in a broth. It’s easy to ingest a large quantity without feeling like you’re knawing on a bunch of undelicious veggies.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Dice up an apple or a pear, saute with some onions, add to your butternut squash soup and puree it in.

    10. slmrlln*

      I’ve been trying to eat more vegetarian but don’t like salads. Soups, on the other hand, I love. Lentil soups especially are easy to make. I also LOVE eggplant parmesan – it tastes rich and delicious, and it reheats just fine.

      The most helpful resource I’ve found is Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.” He keeps it simple and everything I’ve tried to make has worked out except, for some reason, ratatouille.

    11. Rebecca Stewart*

      My boyfriend cannot eat pasta any more, so when we make things like fettucini alfredo for us girls, he gets pan-seared zucchini with the alfredo sauce and chicken or shrimp on top. He says he would rather have that than the pasta.

      Hot cast iron skillet, drop of high-temp oil, stir the zucchini chunks around until they’re cooked through and nice and brown on the cut sides. Salt and pepper. Enjoy.

    12. Girasol*

      Beef or chicken stew, cottage pie, roasted veggies with cheese, hearty veggie soups. Anything involving pasta does well with extra veggies thrown in, especially with alfredo or cheese sauce. Veggie omelets and quiches are good. If you have a food processor you can puree whatever veggies are in the fridge to add to meat loaf to make it moister. When I’m a little short of tomatoes for spaghetti sauce I top it up with whatever’s handy – onions, carrots, even winter squash – and blend it together. Once the basil and garlic go in you can’t tell.

    13. Coenobita*

      I recently discovered sheet pan fritatta and it has changed. my. life. Basically you roast vegetables on a pan, then add the egg mixture and bake it a bit longer. It comes out flat-ish in a way that is PERFECT for sandwiches (we do grilled sandwiches for dinner a lot). You get the same roasted veggies but in a way you can actually reheat.

    14. Esmeralda*

      Stuffed eggplant. Choose small (not tiny!) to medium eggplants, as each half makes a nice individual serving.

      Cut in half longways. Remove the flesh, keeping a layer of it all around (you want an eggplant shell). Chop the flesh fairly small.

      Chop other veggies: garlic, onions, sweet peppers (any kind, any color — red ones are pretty), mushrooms, tomatoes (fresh are great but canned toms are fine!). Whatever you like. You could include greens too, such as spinach.

      Saute the onion and garlic, then add the peppers and saute a bit, then any other veggies, then add the eggplant. Cook until the eggplant is cooked through (better to cook it too much than not enough)

      Let the veggies cool to warm/room temp. Mix in whatever herbs you like — fresh or dry, whatever you have/like. I love basil, thyme, oregano. Salt, pepper, chile flakes if you like. Mix in dry bread crumbs (I like panko but any kind will work). Finally, mix in some crumbled feta.

      Scoop the mix into the eggplant shells. You can mound it up. Sprinkle some parm or romano on top.

      At this point you could put them in the fridge and cook them the next day if you want.

      Put the stuffed eggplants in a shallow baking pan with a little bit of water. Heat in a 350 oven til hot all the way through — the shells will darken and the top will get browned and crunchy (I always stick a finger into one to see if it’s hot enough!)

      I generally make these with some well-browned italian sausage, but they’re great all veg. Leftovers will keep several days in the fridge and they reheat nicely — I just zap them in the microwave, they won’t have crispy bits in that case but it’s suuuuuper easy and makes a nice lunch. I always make more than needed for dinner to have the leftovers.

    15. DistantAudacity*

      Can I recommend the cookbook «The green roasting tin» by Rukmini Iyer?
      Terrific recipes – all in one roasting tin!!! (It’s a miracle).

      Excellent, simple recipes. Highly recommend her other two roasting tin books also («The roasting tin» and «The quick roasting tin»)

    16. Not Australian*

      Cauliflower cheese and chips – probably not something that’s spread beyond the UK but it’s about as simple as it could possibly be as well as extremely cheap!

  26. sewing jacket pattern ?*

    Does anyone know where to get a women’s professional jacket (blazer) or skirt suit sewing pattern? I can’t find any modern ones for women in the major companies, but maybe I haven’t looked properly. I see people selling older/used/vintage sewing patterns, but that’s not what I’m after. If I wanted to make a women’s suit jacket to look like what a lawyer/banker would wear tomorrow, where would I get the pattern?

    1. All the cats 4 me*

      Like this?





      Typically a purchased suit jacket would be fully lined with additional internal construction, but that is somewhat rare in modern patterns, as the trend is much more to simpler construction in home sewing.

      Vogue and Burda were the style standards for high end home sewing at one time, but even they have mostly moved to simplifying garment construction.

      Are you an experienced sewer? If not, starting with a tailored jacket may a challenge, however if you want a true suit jacket construction I would suggest considering out of print patterns esp in Vogue, to get the finished look you want. Suit jacket styles have changed over the years, but it is relatively easy to make minor style changes (sleeve length, width), so
      I would not necessarily disregard out of print patterns for the sole reason that they aren’t recently published.

      You can choose any skirt pattern that you like (pencil, pleat, etc) that you would like to pair with the jacket, if the pattern doesn’t include a skirt.

      If you want to provide more detail on your goal, I would be happy to discuss further.

      Unfortunately (and I know this because I am plus-sized), sewing pattern choices in plus-sizes are much more limited than ‘regular’ sizes, if that is a factor for your project.

      1. sewing jacket pattern ?*

        Yes, I know that a commercial jacket is fully lined etc. I’ve actually made one before, full-on interfacing, padding etc. I have “grown” a bit, and found some fabric I was keeping for a jacket/blazer. So, I wouldn’t wear it often, but am feeling up to the challenge again. I am not the tailor my mother was – she was never a professional, but easily made close to 100 (properly) tailored jackets, so I was hoping to explore that a bit as well. Sadly I no longer have my mother’s patterns, and she died some time ago. I’m not worried about the skirt at all, I was just trying to describe the jacket I was after.

        1. NoLongerYoung*

          If you can find an out of print, just check the lapel width/ notches /button count etc. vs. the latest styles.

          I like Vogue and Burda. Make a muslin.

          She doesn’t have a blazer like you seem to be looking for in print, but…. I really like the “Todays Fit” with Sandra Betzina. I was collecting her out of print for awhile.

          Factoid – She actually went to the effort of remeasuring/ regrading her pattern foundational sizing. The older companies – Simplicity, McCalls – their proportions are made from a sizing / standards done right after WW2 using WACs. They were more petite and sized differently then. So the proportioning is slightly different. (I went to an in-person workshop with her once). And, it turns out I’m one size (let’s call it “A”) across the back, and a different one in the front. So useful to have a multi-size.
          I don’t tailor my own suits any more but still have about 6 fitting-specific books on the “sewing” bookshelf. LOL.
          Enjoy the sewing. I did manage to grab about 20 of my mother’s cool 1950-early 60 patterns when we were cleaning out her basement.

          The closest modern version of those vintage patterns – and they have some classic jackets as well – are the Marfy…. marfy.it
          Check them out.
          Very beautiful lines.

    2. Emma2*

      Closet Core patterns has a pattern for a blazer (Jasika Blazer pattern).
      There is a website called The Fold Line that has a huge database of sewing patterns; it lets you search by clothing item, and you can filter by indie or big 4 pattern companies (the indies are more likely to have something modern looking). The women who run the site are fairly young and their taste is more modern. They also have a blog/vlog series where they do things like look at items that are currently in the shops and suggest patterns that you could use to make your own.
      You should be able to find lots of sewing shops selling any of the indie patterns online.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      No advice on where to find a pattern. but I would advise that jackets are as much about the guts, facings and interfacings and pad stitching, which give them their shape and body as about the cut of the outside pieces. I’ve never made one, but I did watch a 20 minute youtube video entirely on how to pad stitch just the collar. So if you want to make commercial quality results, you’ll need to be prepared to spend a lot of time, and also should find a pattern that has good guts. Or just go into it knowing that you’ll get a soft and slouchy jacket.

      1. sewing jacket pattern ?*

        Yep. I’ve made one before, and I’ve been trying to find a pattern with good guts, as you say.

        1. The teapots are on fire*

          Definitely make a muslin. I don’t like her sleeves at all–the upper arm looks funny on me, and since we’re all so different in shape, you especially want to make a muslin in anything you’re going to put that much time into.

    4. Lora*


      Burdastyle.com has a few, they categorize by material. I started sewing with their patterns a few years ago when I couldn’t find a fitted princess seam dress pattern anywhere – fabric stores seemed to have nothing but granny caftan patterns. Eventually started making my own patterns from clothes I had that I liked but had worn out – if you have an existing blazer that you like, or can find one in a thrift store, that might be an option too.

    5. HannahS*

      Claire Schaeffer did a “learn to tailor” sewing pattern series with, I think, Vogue. The blazers looked amazing, and just any pencil skirt in the same fabric would do to make a suit.

  27. Puppy!*

    She’s here! Tillie. 10 weeks.
    This is the doggy thread. I am exhausted. Doing an okay job asking for help from friends to wind her down.
    The theory is that the dog NEVER has an accident to train effectively.
    Has anyone had success with that?
    Theory- up at 7:30
    schedule- dog is up
    Play time. 20 minutes.
    Outside time. pee/poo
    back in offer water.
    in pen with distracting toy or chew.
    Dog is asking or it has been 20 minutes.
    Dog out for pee/poo
    Play time 20 minutes.
    outside for pee/poo
    inside crate/pen area.
    10:00 nap time will wake around 12 for lunch .
    out for pee, lunch in crate, out for pee, playtime.

    this doggie- up at 5:00 am. no downtime until 9 when she falls over. I put her in her rest area, she spend the time crying.
    Thoughts, recommendations? Hang tough?

    The current theory is confined. (she is in a pen with an open crate)

    1. Tookie Clothespin*

      Potty training is so tough. Limiting accidents as much as you can is good, but don’t beat yourself up if there is an occasional accident. In my experience, you think that the dog is never going to get it, then all of a sudden it clicked. The younger they are the tougher it is because they can hold their bladder for such a short time. No real advice but you are doing great!

    2. dear liza dear liza*

      Welcome to Tillie! We used a very set schedule with our most recent puppy and it made all the difference in how much easier it was on the humans. It sounds like you’re letting Tillie set the schedule when in reality, puppies are babies and don’t know what’s good for them. If she cries at 5 am, take her out for a quick potty and then back in the crate until 7 am. Will she cry? You bet. She’s not getting what she wants. Our puppy screamed BLOODY MURDER in the crate for 2 weeks. But we gritted our teeth, put in earplugs, played loud music, left the house, etc and she figured out crying /=/ freedom. She’s 2 now and she’ll go willingly into the crate and stay there quietly.

      A good schedule will minimize but not completely abolish accidents. Our puppy took a little while; she didn’t really have a signal to let us know she needed to go out, but the accidents happened closer and closer to the back door, lol. We got her at 8 weeks and around 12 weeks it all clicked. We went from 1 accident every few days to zero accidents. (She’s also a large breed; I’ve heard smaller breeds with the tiny bladders can take longer.)

      You’ve got this! Take lots of photos, play with her lots, but also give yourself down time so you can enjoy her and not grow resentful. (Been there, for sure.)

      1. Puppy!*

        the crate. yup just ordered a hard sided one after extensive research. This terrier is not contained by the soft sided on.

    3. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I take poopies out after a sleep and wait for them to go. If they don’t go then I play a bit outside and put them back in the confined area. If they go then I reward with a longer play session indoors. I let them out every hour or two when I’m working from home. In warmer weather I have also worked outside all day with them underfoot, so they toileted whenever they wanted, which wasn’t ideal for training yet was easiest for me.

      I have had very young (4+ weeks old) crated poopies that eliminated in the crate or whelping pen, as they were too young to train, and as they aged past 6 weeks I worked on house-training. They were fine with the transition in expectation despite having their beds in the same pen or giant crate, and improved over time. A dog that eliminates in a crate isn’t going to continue that way forever. And I don’t agree at all with the premise that you have to be perfect. Their bodies are tiny so if they have to go it is just because they are too small to hold it. Big poopies can hold it longer and do better with training. Be consistent on rewarding the right behaviors, and it will work out.

      Hang tough on the crying. That one is critical!

      1. Puppy!*

        okay just hung tough. took her out and she did nothing. brought her back in . played for twenty minutes, she started to fall asleep. put her in her gated area. She whimpered. , she whined. I went about my business. she took herself into her crate and she is sleeping. My hopes and dreams are a walk at 8:00, playtime and back in to settle down until last call at 10:30. She is a happy girl and brings me much joy. look at pictures of wheaten puppies to get the idea.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Puppies have to go after they sleep, eat, play, or even look at you. This passes. They grow, their organs grow and their capacity grows.

      I would let go of that hard and fast rule that a dog never has an accident. Many, many dogs have been trained in spite of having accidents. The problem with hard and fast rules is that the OWNER gets upset and stressed out. The pup can’t figure out why the owner does not enjoy the pup’s company. So the pup does odd things, the owner gets more stressed out and the pup gets odder. Stop the cycle. Accidents happen and they wipe up. Let your pup see you enjoy its company. There is a middle ground where you can train and the dog can still have an accident now and again. They will learn.

      They need exercise to burn off steam. This need goes down as they age, but bouncing and running are must haves.

      Crying. I think if you slow down the pressure to house break, a happier you will mean a happier dog. You can also turn on some soft music to encourage relaxation. If you are home to watch the animal, I’d suggest puppy chews, they disperse a lot of energy by chewing. Your pup could be having some boredom going on also and having a chew would be interesting to the pup. I only let my pups have chewies when I am home to keep an ear on them. Once they get bigger I worry less about leaving them alone with a chewy.

      You can also work with natural calming things to help your pet. There’s plenty of products to consider.

      I ended up feeding my guy turkey every day, because turkey is a known downer. Using this and several other things at the same time did help him to collect himself.

      While they do gradually pass out of this stage, you will finally start to see your adult dog around the 18 month mark. You will see the dog change and get used to the rhythm of life with you. The best I ever did with housebreaking was three months. And I attribute that to that particular dog. He was a people pleaser dog. I found that out once he became an adult. He watched for the differences in people and he would remember what each person preferred.
      Cousin Sue was startled by nose bumps, so he did not nose bump Sue. Aunt Terry loved having the dog follow her around, so he followed her around. The list goes on, you see the idea. So People Pleaser housebroke in 3 months because he wanted to please me that much.

      Some of it does come under the heading of hang tough and remembering that this stage will pass and you will have a friend for many years. Right now is the worst it will be.
      And some of it comes under the heading of deciding that what you are doing does NOT work and you need to make tweaks. Just like kids, pups all have their own little personalities and quirks. My People Pleaser could sleep on the bed with me at 3 months old. I could trust him to tell me he had to go. My current dog stayed in my kitchen when I could not watch him for almost a year because I could not trust him to tell me he had to go. We worked it through and he has been fine since.
      Books on pups are a great starting point. But you have to look at your own pup to see what actually makes sense to do. Kinda like what we have to do with kids, too.

    5. Jewelers husband*

      Congrats on puppy!

      If the dog can’t settle in the crate, you could try having her attached to you or enclosed with you in a small area of the house at all times she’s awake so you can watch for her to want to pee. Otherwise just taking her out super duper often. I think “no accidents” is pretty unrealistic. That can be the goal, but in reality, at least a couple of accidents are almost sure to happen. Try to avoid them, but if it happens, it won’t ruin everything. Clean the area thoroughly right away. I use an enzyme pet cleaner which seems to do a good job of removing the odor so the dog doesn’t soil there again.

      Our puppy house trained extremely quickly and easily and there were still a couple of accidents that we just werent quite on our game enough to prevent. It’s hard when you’re also not sleeping much due to puppy! Good luck and I hope it is over soon for you!

    6. ....*

      That sounds really regimented I trained my dog on pee pads and then put grass on them and eventually he started going 100% outside. I’m probably useless to help as I let him roam fee and stuff

    7. Pamela Adams*

      The Monks of New Skete puppy raising technique has the puppy with you, on a lead, any time they are uncrated.

    8. Puppy!*

      thank you all for taking the time to respond and the good advice. yes she is never unobserved. Either in her play area with soft sided crate (it has a pee pad but she only used it her first day) or tethered to me.

      We don’t get upset when there is an accident, I was just wondering about the advice I had been getting.
      Thank you.

  28. Chyll*

    Hi all, I’m hoping to get some input before I unintentionally make a faux pas. My partner and I are moving halfway across country (US) as his job is relocating. We won’t be able to buy a place until our current home sells, so we’re staying in a VRBO in New City for two months.

    I’ve never booked a VRBO before and this is a little house where we’d be staying by ourselves.

    Would having packages delivered to the VRBO while we’re there be a normal thing at all? Or is that something that just isn’t done? I’ll ask the owner before doing it of course, I was just hoping to get an idea whether this is really bizarre or not.

    I’m high risk so I’m looking for options that would keep me from having to go into the post office. The new state doesn’t have a great track record for mask wearing.

    Thanks for any advice!

    1. M*

      I lived in a VRBO for 2 months between jobs a few years ago (spent 2 months at the beach before starting my new job in a different city) and I had mail and packages delivered all the time. It might be different if you are staying for just a weekend or something but that was our only residence during that time. Did not seem to be a problem for the owners or for the delivery services.

    2. pancakes*

      Should be fine, but when I’ve used VRBO I’ve sometimes stayed in properties where there’s a guest house and a main house. If the owner is in residence or whatnot I’m sure they can tell you how to write the address so that your packages come to you.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Yes, if you’re staying there and ordering things, have them sent where you are. This is not a faux pas. It’s perfectly normal and practical.

      Even if you were staying a week, and you need something, why wouldn’t you have it sent where you are?

      Even if it were somehow a faux pas (which it isn’t), the owner isn’t going to be there to be offended. Why would they care?

    4. Mail Carrier*

      Let the local post office know you’re moving in. If there’s a regular carrier on the route, they may have the address marked as vacant or no delivery because it’s a VRBO. That shouldn’t be an issue with UPS, et al.

  29. Jessie*

    Hi everyone,

    I had a weird experience this week. Another one :) I have written here a few weeks ago that I have trouble communicating with people and getting people to respect me. People here have given me a lot of advice and also recommended books I can read, which has been super helpful and has really made me reflect a lot about myself and how I come across to people and how to communicate better etc.
    I had a weird incident this week though that kind of unraveled everything. My son was invited to a play date at his school friend’s house . My son has ASD. While there, the friend’s mom was talking to me about my son’s ASD. Then suddenly she said, and how about you, are you ASD? I was a bit stunned and just said no, I’m not. She said, it’s “because you give this impression.” I asked her what does she mean? She said, well you are a bit “slow.” I wasn’t sure what she meant, especially since ASD people are not “slow.” So, I asked her, do you mean “slow as in stupid?” She said, yeah! I was shocked. Oh my God, who tells people they are stupid? And who said ASD people are stupid? And why am I giving the impression that I am ASD and slow? I went home and told my husband and he just laughed it off.
    The next day, my son had a zoom session with his ASD specialist. At the end of the session, I told her that I need to talk to her for a few minutes. Then I told her what happened and asked her if I give her the impression of being ASD? She said yes and that she has known me for two years and as far as she is concerned I am on the spectrum. She also reminded me that she did ask me two years ago if I’m ASD. And I remember that, but I assumed she was just talking about our family history. I’ve never thought I was ASD. For the last four years, we have been living and breathing ASD. I read about it, I watched videos, I’ve been around ASD people. I’ve attended all of my son’s sessions and assessments. Not once did I think hmmm that sounds like me. AT ALL. I am stunned.
    So, for the sake of objectivity, my son’s specialist has referred me to someone else to do a proper assessment for me. I guess I will let the professionals decide.
    But my question is, I have read here on askamanager several posts about people being diagnosed as adults. So, I was just wondering if you you felt that you were ASD? Or was the rug pulled out from under you like me?
    Second question, how should I have responded to the lady who told me I am slow/stupid? It makes it harder that she wasn’t trying to insult me at all. We were chit chatting. We had a 3 hour play date at her house and she was very nice the whole time, except for the slow/stupid comment. But I just feel that it was out of line and I should have said something.

    1. Princess Deviant*

      That woman’s comment was not nice to you. Please try your best to ignore it! Many ASD people are above average intelligence, and intelligence is made up of various components anyway. You might say that woman was extremely socially unintelligent to make such a remark.

      I suspected I was autistic for years before I finally and recently got a diagnosis.
      It presents differently in women. I was obviously not taken by surprise by the diagnosis but I did burst out crying when they confirmed it. I also knew I was going through the assessment process. My family were surprised and somewhat disbelieving but they accept it now. I don’t think it’s made any difference in how they treat me, but it’s made a difference to how I treat myself.

      I found watching Dr Tony Attwood’s vids on YouTube and reading Sarah Hendrickx’s book on Autism in women and girls to be very helpful before my assessment to get an idea of it.

    2. Disco Janet*

      So that lady who called you slow is a…word I can’t use here in this chat. If she reaches out for another play date I would tell her that you really aren’t comfortable getting together with someone who has called you stupid and implied that your son is stupid too – and that her belief that being autistic means being ‘slow’ is a hurtful stereotype that she used as an insult. Maybe she’ll apologize. If she tried to explain I would cut her off and say I’m not interested in debating it, but you hope eventually she can apologize for the hurtful remark as your son will miss his playmate. (Note – my son is young and wouldn’t be too affected by losing a playmate. If your scenario is different I might change this.)

      My son is ASD and I would be thrown if anyone asked me this question too. However…people have asked my husband this question. He was surprised by it, and honestly I was not. There are some social things he just doesn’t quite pick up on – and he doesn’t notice because, well, like I just said – he’s not picking up on it! I’ve never pushed it further. (Your comment has me second guessing myself a bit here and wondering if I should bring it up to him, but I’ve gotten the sense that he’s not someone who would find a diagnosis helpful at this point in his life.) So I would consider pushing your husband to discuss this with your further rather than him just laughing it off. Him laughing it off sounds kind of like a non answer/possible avoidance method to me.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      So, you are asking if the woman was out of line? Perhaps a little. But context and tone means a lot here.

      You: Oh my God, who tells people they are stupid?
      Well, YOU did ask her to be more SPECIFIC about what she meant by her comment about “you give this impression,” and “a bit slow.” And actually YOU provided her with the descriptive: “slow as in stupid,” not her. She only agreed. It seemed she was searching for a kinder way to phrase it given your were discussing ASD at the time.

      Reading over your story of this conversation, I do not think she meant or said this to be unkind to you, but rather to point out something you yourself might not see. It’s a bit of an awkward conversation.

      Sometimes it can be really hurtful though to have have something pointed out to us, even if kindly done. I don’t want to downplay that you shouldn’t have some hurt feelings about it, but I think in this case it was said with the intention of pointing out something for you to consider about yourself, not that you are stupid or dumb, but that something was going on.

      1. pancakes*

        It doesn’t seem to me that she was searching for kinder phrasing. It seems more likely that she didn’t consider her phrasing at all. If she did, she’s very bad at it. I don’t have any experience with the diagnosis process and can’t speak to that, but this woman’s question was very rude, intrusive, and poorly phrased. It’s easy enough to say that she wasn’t intentionally trying to be insulting, and people seldom are, but if she’d given her question even a brief moment of thought I don’t see how or why she wouldn’t understand that it was very likely to come off as insulting. It’s a nice idea that she was trying to be helpful, but I don’t see any particular reason to believe that. The question itself doesn’t reveal her motivation for asking it. Some people just aren’t accustomed to thinking before they speak. I think she owes Jessie an apology, but on account of her poor manners and social skills I wouldn’t expect one to be forthcoming.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Ok, so maybe I read this story wrong, but I had the impression this lady’s comment came in the middle of some much lengthier discussion about ASD and symptoms and that it wasn’t just some ‘out of the blue’ rude comment, but rather a discussion between mothers with kids who may be experiencing similar issues.

          1. Disco Janet*

            It was a lengthier discussion according to OP. But if you ask someone if they are ASD and they say no, you drop it. You don’t say oh, you thought they were because they give off a that impression and seem slow. In what world can that be interpreted as searching for a kind wording??

          2. pancakes*

            Whether it was out of the blue or not is only a bit of context, though, and doesn’t take into account the line about seeming a bit slow. That particular bit pointedly wasn’t about their kids, either.

      2. Jessie*

        Her: are you autistic
        Me: No, why?
        Her: You give that impression
        Me: How so?
        Her: You are a bit slow
        Me: What do you mean slow?
        Her: Well, you are not, and she clicked her fingers next to her head, which in our culture signifies quickness and intelligence.
        Me: Oh. Slow as in stupid?
        Her: Yeah

        That’s the exact conversation. When she said slow, I initially thought she meant “a slow talker” or “slow in response,” because I have heard before. I did not think she meant stupid. And I was shocked.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            (note to alison- this is a deadpool joke, not a threat of violence. I am not in fact planning a cream-cheese-spreader attack on anyone.)

            1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

              Of course not! You are a practical woman and would choose something much more sensible than a cream cheese spreader if you were contemplating violence.

        1. PollyQ*

          Is SHE neurotypical? Because at least in my culture, that’s so far from polite, decent, or even useful behavior that the only valid excuse would be some kind of disorder.

          If you want to explore the possibility that you’re somewhere on the autism spectrum, sure, go ahead. But this is not someone you should treat as any kind of friend, nor is she safe for your son to be around.

    4. Stephanie*

      It’s awfully rude to flat out ask someone if they’re on the spectrum the way that woman did. (It’s not always rude to ask, there are some situations and conversations where it would be fine, but the way she did was rude. And not her business, I would say.) And then to say that you’re a bit “slow”?? Who DOES that? I would be very, very upset if that happened to me.
      This woman is not someone that I would be spending much time with going forward. I would definitely not do any more playdates with her.
      In regard to feeling blindsided, I get it. Is it possible that you’ve been so focused on your son’s experience that you just didn’t have the bandwidth to see it in terms of your own experience?

      And yes, she was totally out of line saying those things to you, but don’t beat yourself up about not saying something in the moment. I probably would have been so shocked at her insensitivity and rudeness that I would not have been able to say much of anything in response.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      The woman was rude but there is a large overlap between ASD and intellectual disability. She may have just been inquiring about you and your son, and you sorta put words in her mouth. It’s not necessarily more offensive to ask about an intellectual disability than a physical disability.

      1. Disco Janet*

        The woman said she seems slow. OP asking if she means slow as in stupid, and the woman saying yes, is absolutely not “putting words in her mouth.”

        The comorbidity rate between the two doesn’t magically make it okay to make comments and assumptions like this about others. And your last sentence is such a faulty analogy. This women wasn’t simply asking. She was making a hurtful comment.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Looking at the conversation, I think I might have been tempted to ask the woman about it. She seems to have gotten very personal very fast. I’d be curious as to WHY.

          However, I agree with those who are saying to move away from this woman even if it’s just temporarily. There’s a thing known as “helpful message but BAD delivery”. It sounds like her words actually helped you in some manner but her delivery of that message was AWFUL. Put some time in to investing in YOU. Then decide later if this is a person you want to be around.

    6. KoiFeeder*

      Okay, firstly, I am going to teleport to that woman’s house and fight her. Who even says that to someone! I would’ve gotten up and left on the spot, but I am a spiteful hag who will cut people out of my life for things like that, so your mileage may vary. And I can’t say as I’m not also peeved at your husband too for laughing it off instead of supporting you and your son! My dad’s not autistic, but he would’ve been furious if someone implied mom and I were stupid.

      Secondly, yeah, the family autism! I suspect it was easier for my mom, because my family autism is so similar from person to person that when I got the diagnosis it was basically a diagnosis for everyone else who’d had it, too- and my mom and I are both women, and it tends to run on the maternal line. But it’s also true that my mom never really considered it until I got the diagnosis. I can ask her for her side of things if you’d like, too.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Alright, here are my mom’s words of wisdom:

          Given your circumstances, you responded admirably. The person making the comment was both ignorant and inconsiderate. You can work with ignorant, but not inconsiderate.
          As you know, being autistic does not mean being stupid. Many autistic people are brilliant. Temple Grandin is one of the most famous, but there are others. I recommend you ask an autism specialist to recommend books or videos that address the issue of intelligence and autism. Being able to refer to credible sources on autism and intelligence will help you gently educate those who are under the impression autistic people are stupid.
          As a person on the spectrum, I can say no one has ever called me stupid outright. But when I was a child, people often said, “For being smart, you sure are dumb.” What they meant was, I could do some things very well, and other things were very hard for me. I am one of many high-functioning, self-identifying autistic people who feel their autism is more a learning difference than a disability. I don’t learn well in a lecture hall or group project setting, but give me a book, a pencil, a scratch pad, and a quiet room and I’ll wow you. For people like me, playing to our strengths and developing accommodations for our weaknesses becomes a life strategy. It’s not so different than it is for neurotypical people; it’s just that we live in their world, so we have to find ways to fit in.
          Good luck on your journey with your son! It’s going to be challenging, sometimes heartbreaking, but always an adventure of discovery.

          1. Jessie*

            Thank you. And I love Temple Grandin :)

            We were told very early on that in “some” cases, there is an overlap between ASD and Intellectual disability. However, I know very well that many ASD people are extremely intelligent and like your mom just don’t like learning in a traditional way.

    7. RagingADHD*

      When someone is breathtakingly rude, it’s often hard to think of anything to say in response. So don’t “should” on yourself about it.

      I agree with the other commenter who would not want my child exposed to an adult who thinks my kid and I are both stupid — and has no problem saying so to my face. Who knows what she might say to your child behind your back? And how is she teaching her child to speak to his friends? This is not a healthy environment for any child to be in, much less a kid who may struggle with typical social interactions.

      Callous and insensitive rudeness is just as hurtful as pointed, malicious insults. If she were a kind person who misspoke or felt put on the spot, she would have apologized or said something about, “that’s not what I meant,” etc.

      If she didn’t even make an attempt to apologize or reframe the conversation, she is not a nice person. She just has a pleasant social veneer most of the time.

    8. Anona*

      That lady is an a-hole. Who tells someone they’re slow?

      I wouldn’t have known how to respond in the moment. Like you i’m sure if I were called slow/stupid, I’d be really stunned in the moment and not have a good comeback.

      I think ideally I would act really stunned and say, “wow, what an odd thing to say!” Or “wow, what a rude thing to say!” But that’s the kind of response I’d come up with in the shower, several days after the incident.

      I wouldn’t want to hang out with that lady again. If there needed to be presence at playdates with her, I’d have my husband go, or just not have the kid attend.

      I’m sorry that she was so rude to you.
      I hope you can find some good answers about whether or not you’re ASD, if that’s what you want to know.

    9. Observer*

      I can’t talk to the diagnosis piece, but this woman is a piece of work. As you say “who tells someone they are stupid?” Also, if she actually knows what ASD is, how does she mix that up with stupid?

      I’d talk to your son’s specialist about this woman’s attitude and whether she thinks that could be an issue for your son – should you try to keep your son from spending time around her?

    10. WS*

      ASD often runs in families, so I don’t think there’s anything odd about the doctor following up with you – I’ve known a lot of women and a smaller number of men who weren’t diagnosed as children and were only diagnosed when their own kids were! Women tend to mask the symptoms better (which is highly stressful and can manifest as anxiety and depression) but hiding better doesn’t mean you don’t have ASD.

      As for that woman, she may not have been trying to insult you, but she did actually insult you *and* your son, and I wouldn’t want to be around her again. It’s hard to say something at the time when you’re so taken aback rudeness, but I think I would just say no thank you if she wants to meet up again.

  30. Casey*

    What’s your favorite alcoholic drink? I just turned 21 a couple days ago and didn’t really drink before that (I go to a real nerd school where parties only happen before or after the semester, and I’m usually out of town by then, at least pre-pandemic).
    Things I’ve tried and liked:
    – Pineapple juice with orange vodka and/or rum
    – A very fruity red wine
    – Hard cider rosé (I don’t really get how cider can be a rosé, but that’s what the label said!)

    Things I’ve tried and did not like:
    – A dry red wine
    – An IPA (why, oh why, did someone let this be my first drink)
    – Raspberry (I think?) White Claw (tasted like cold medicine to me :((((( )

    1. CTT*

      I love my homemade margaritas, because I want to taste the lime juice in my soul and make it without any sweeteners (also I am too lazy to keep a fresh supply of simple syrup on hand). My parents have gotten into the habit having a bottle of prosecco or other sparkling wine over Friday and Saturday. I don’t quite have the budget to do that as regularly as they do, but I’m trying to do that at least quarterly as a mini-celebration; either because I have something to actually celebrate or because I survived the week.

      If you want to experiment more, I recommend finding an older friend or family member who likes making drinks so you can experiment cheaply. I turned 21 when Mad Men was in its heyday, so I would go to a bar and be like “I would like a martini/old fashioned/Manhattan, because I am a CLASSY ADULT,” and then I was stuck with a $14 drink that my palette was not refined enough for yet.

    2. Grim*

      There was a drink called the ‘car crash’ that I got at a place called Doolee’s in Tempe Arizona many years ago. I really liked the flavor and didn’t really taste the alcohol, but after one car crash you couldn’t drive.

      I don’t remember what was in the car crash as far as alcohols, but it tasted delicious.

    3. Glass Piano*

      I recommend trying some fruity beers (like an Apricot Blonde), hard lemonade, and fruity cocktails like Pina Coladas. Be careful with sweet alcoholic drinks – they tend to mute the taste, which makes it more enjoyable for a first-time drinker, but that comes with the caveat that it’s easy to loose track of how much you’re drinking. Always drink a glass of water alongside, keep track of how much you’ve had, and experiment with drinking only with people you trust! Once you’ve acquired the taste of alcohol you can swing back around to stuff you didn’t like initially – I used to hate dry red wine but now it’s my favorite because I no longer find the alcohol taste overwhelming. Still don’t like IPAs, though.

    4. Courageous cat*

      The things I liked at 21 are very different from what I like now. Your tastes will stay sweet for a little while. Don’t pressure yourself to try lots of weird drinks right off the bat, def give your palate time (years in my case) to develop.

      My fav drinks at 21 that you might like:
      Vodka cranberry
      Long island iced tea
      Moscato (sweet white wine)
      White russian

      Fav drinks now at 33:
      Dirty gin martini
      Gin and tonic
      Chardonnay (oaky/buttery especially) or lots of orange wines
      Last word

      And I still like white russians.

      1. Coenobita*

        Totally agree that your tastes will change over time and that’s fine! When I was 21 I had a winery-adjacent summer job (it was actually a viticulture/soil-science research position, but we did a lot of tastings LOL) and the vintners I worked with were all super avant garde types who were like, “aha! I detect a hint of asphalt in this syrah!” whereas I only liked the stuff they dismissed as “fruit bombs.” I actually do kind of like that super dry basaltic red wine now, but it’s been almost 15 years and I drink IPAs now.

        Drinks I liked at 21: sweet wine, Sam Adams lager (this was the first beer I ever liked – I remember thinking, “oh, this tastes like pretzels! I like that!”), rum & coke, sweet cider.

        Also, I just remembered my friend’s two signature cocktails from when we were in our 20s: a Gin-Ginger (gin + ginger beer, I still drink this, it’s lovely, just add some lime) and a Peach Schnapple (get a bottle of peach snapple, drink a bit, then replace the volume with peach schnapps).

    5. DarthVelma*

      I am a bit of an amateur cocktail enthusiast, so I’m going to try not to overwhelm you with a long list of my favorites. :-)

      I’m a big fan of the Hurricane if you can find the passionfruit syrup. You put all of this into a shaker with ice and shake the hell out of it.
      2 oz dark rum
      1.5 oz white rum
      2 oz orange juice
      1 oz lime juice
      1 oz passionfruit syrup
      1 tsp grenadine

      I also really love the Moscow Mule, Dark and Stormy, and pretty much any other drink involving alcohol and ginger beer. My favorite of those is something I call a Ginger Snap:
      1 oz spiced run
      1 oz cinnamon whiskey
      1 oz ginger liqueur (you can also replace a bit of this with Drambuie)
      splash of lime juice (to taste)
      4 to 6 oz ginger beer
      You basically just mix that all in the glass. It’s yummy.

      You should also try margaritas just to see if they’re your thing. I particularly like variations where you replace the orange liqueur with something else – like Fireball or Midori. There are a million recipes online.

      Good luck finding your drink(s) of choice. And it’s ok if you end up not liking anything and not being a drinker as well. And you can change your mind on that at any time – I didn’t drink at all in my 20s and didn’t take up bartending as a hobby until my 40s. Just remember to drink responsibly if/when you do choose to drink.

    6. Laura H.*

      As for standard, packaged drinks- I love the Redd’s fruit ales, and I enjoy a peach wine on occasion.

      A peach Bellini is the only mixed drink I’ve had really. But you might also like a fuzzy navel or a screwdriver (I believe that’s orange juice with peach schnapps and vodka respectively.)

    7. pancakes*

      The suggestions you’re getting mostly make my teeth ache, but then I’ve never had a sweet tooth. Imbibe magazine has a lot of nice cocktail recipes.

    8. CJM*

      I’m not much of a drinker, but I’d like to chime in on your IPA experience. The first IPA I ever had tasted so horrible that I couldn’t finish it. I’ve loved beer all my life, so that was a shock. Eventually, after that very off-putting experience about 15 years ago, I tried a grapefruit IPA and loved it! So there’s a wide variety out there, and you may want to try other IPAs.

      I like to order beer flights at craft brewpubs so I can taste several options, and I pick them based on whatever sounds good. Usually I discover one or two I like a lot.

      Good luck! I hope you enjoy yourself as you explore.

    9. Coco*

      I think my first 21 + drink was an amaretto sour. And I still like them. But now that I’m older, I like:
      White and rose wines. Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, a dry Riesling, Pinot noir and Tannat rose.
      Margaritas: White tequila, fresh lime juice, agave over ice. No salt
      Gin and tonics: Use good tonic water and fresh limes

      Def try drinks at home before spending $$ on a drink out that you may not care for.

    10. Can't Sit Still*

      – Bombay Sapphire & tonic or gin & ginger beer. Gin is definitely love it or hate it, though.
      – White Russians
      – Angry Orchard ciders, especially Crisp Apple
      – Bourbon with a single ice cube – I like Maker’s Mark, but I’m not terribly picky as long as it’s mid-market
      – Saisons. For reference, I loathe IPAs
      – A former boss told me that the best wine is the one you like to drink, whether it’s Two Buck Chuck or Château d’Yquem. (His Michelin starred restaurant is renowned for its wine cellar.)

      1. Runaway Shinobi*

        Try gin with club soda and line rather than tonic. I thought I disliked gin for years, but no, it’s the tonic!

        1. Can't Sit Still*

          Oh, I love tonic water! The gin makes it almost too sweet. But gin is rather like drinking a tree and not everyone loves that!

        2. Bagpuss*

          I love tonic water and will happily drink it even without the gin!

          Although gin is wonderful too! I am so happy it became fashionable and there are so many great gins available now.

          I do love the bitter/sour end of the taste spectrum generally, though.

    11. two cookies please*

      When I first started drinking alcohol I loved: equal parts creme de cacao, creme de menthe and heavy cream, and I’d add a touch more heavy cream. Mint chocolate in a drink!

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Tootsie roll: creme de cacao in orange juice, especially if you can find the light or colorless creme de cacao.

        Amaretto, with or without cream, or in coffee. Also good over ice cream as a dessert. Similarly, other fruit liqueurs (such as Framboise); Chambord; Kahlua.

        Flavored vodkas, either on their own (rocks or seltzer or just chilled), or in cola. Do you know about putting the vodka in the freezer already?

    12. Lyudie*

      I love stouts and red wine and that’s what I primarily drink. I used to be a whiskey sour and Jack and Coke girl, but mostly stick with beer and wine these days.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Some stores will let you buy individual bottles of things usually sold in sixpacks, which can be a low-impact way to test. Mike’s Hard Lemonade is a favorite, the only other ones I’ve found were too sweet & required ice.

    14. BeeBoop*

      Think about what you like to drink without alcohol! For me, I love lemonade, citrus drinks, ginger. So I love:

      Vodka lemonade
      Vodka La Croix
      Lemonade flavored Truly
      Mojitos (mint!! Lime!)
      Moscow mules (lime and ginger flavors!

    15. Dr.KMnO4*

      Fruity ciders- Cider Boys or Ace. My favorites are Pineapple (either brand), CB Peach County, and SpAce (Ace’s Blood Orange cider).

      Meads/cysers – B. Nektar makes some amazing and weird meads and cysers. I like Zombie Killer the best.

      Special ciders- Angry Orchard makes three different special ciders in 750 mL bottles. Ice Man and Muse are sweet, the third (Scarecrow? I can’t remember the name) is dry. I like Ice Man and Muse more than the third.

      Dessert ciders- Eden Ice Ciders are AMAZING. Very sweet, drink in small amounts.

      Easy drinking ciders- Smith and Forge, Woodchuck Gumption, Strongbow Gold

      Mixed drinks- Hard cider and spiced/dark rum, maybe a shot of rum per 12 oz of cider, I usually use a “generic” hard cider like Angry Orchard or Woodchuck. Orange juice and pineapple rum or pineapple vodka. Orange juice and plain vodka. Sprite and Green apple liqueur. Amaretto and orange juice. Strawberry daiquiris. Margaritas (lime, blood orange, peach, pineapple), 1800 has a line of premixed margaritas in various flavors that are quite good.

    16. Sleepless*

      My go-to at that age was a Midori sour. Yummy, very low alcohol, and it’s a bright green color that other people think is cool…someone always says, “What IS that? It’s really pretty.” A Pool Water is kind of similar. If you like grapefruit juice, a Sea Breeze is always good.

      Years and years later, my tastes run more to very dry white wine, but 30 years ago a Pinot Grigio would have turned my mouth inside out.

    17. Not a Big Drinker*

      I like the taste of: sangria, hard lemonade, rum punch on cruise ships, moscato, rum stone sours, mojitos, Cuba libre (rum, coke, lime juice), pina colada, and maybe a daiquiri if it isn’t too strong. I like to TRY drinks, I just don’t drink much!

    18. Melody Pond*

      I don’t drink often anymore, but I used to really love Dirty Shirleys. It’s just a Shirley Temple (ice, lemon-lime soda, grenadine, maybe some maraschino cherries for garnish) plus vodka. Apparently it’s pretty good with cherry-flavored vodka, too.

      It’s a very sweet/sugary drink. And I do prefer sweeter drinks, but whenever I’d overdo it, the hangovers were just AWFUL. So if I were going to have more than one, I’d always make sure to pair with plenty of food and water.

    19. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I enjoy a Malibu Pineapple as a mixed drink. A good homemade red or cava sangria. And mimosas made with prosecco and cranberry. And as far as wine, I also do not like dry, but also not sweet. So, I’ve veered into DARK red blends. I find them smooth and palatable and “jammy” without being sweet wine. So now I know to ask which wines are “jammy” when I want to order wine out (like, in the Before Times). Happy belated birthday!

    20. beth*

      Look for wine that says “sweet” it’s the opposite of dry. I like margaritas, but they’re definitely sour tasting. Also pretty much any kind of fruit juice goes well with rum.

    21. violet04*

      When I was 21, I drank horrible beer out of kegs and wine coolers. I remember one party where someone mixed up Hairy Buffalos in a giant cooler. I had too many and got sick.

      Twenty plus years later, my palate has definitely changed. My husband is a rum geek and loves making craft cocktails. Last night I had Manhattan with Luxardo cherries. A very good fall drink.

      I have a major sweet tooth, but I find that I don’t like super sweet cocktails.

      If I had to choose my favorite cocktail of all time, it would be a classic daiquiri – rum, lime and sugar. I use 2 oz run, 3/4 oz simple syrup and 3/4 oz fresh squeezed lime juice. Plantation and Real McCoy are some good rums to try it with.

      Along the same lines, I like gimlets. Replace the rum with gin. A classic gin and tonic is good too. Use a high quality tonic like Fever Tree.

      Another favorite with gin is Bees Knees. Gin, lemon juice and honey mix.

    22. Elenna*

      I also prefer sweeter drinks – I’m 24 so maybe that will change over time?

      Things I like:
      – Sangria is always great
      – A good Long Island Iced Tea is delicious. A cheap one, not so much. Don’t buy the cheap pre-packaged ones.
      – Sweeter wines – if you go to a nice wine tasting place, you can ask them what they have that’s on the sweeter end
      – My parents have been mixing white wine with non-alcoholic apple cider recently and it’s delicious
      – I enjoy Bloody Mary/Bloody Caesar, but it’s a pretty unusual drink so you may not – it’s basically tomato juice + Tabasco + alcohol

      1. Bagpuss*

        Maybe. I think it’s fairly common to develop a taste for dryer wines and less
        Sweet cocktails as you get older but equally lots of people go right on enjoying the sweet stuff.
        I think you’re more likely to develop a taste for it if you like bitter or sour things general- – strong, unsweetened coffee, lemon -/ citrus flavours etc.

    23. Anonosaurus*

      You might like a French martini (vodka, chambord and pineapple juice). I prefer sour/dry drinks mostly, but I like the occasional one of these.

      When I really need a sugar/alcohol hit, I go for a Black Russian; vodka, kahlua and full-fat coke. More than one of these is too many but sometimes it’s just what I want.

    24. Not Australian*

      Very dry pale sherry and the driest white wine I can get my hands on. I have a tendency to migraine and the ‘red’ in red wines/fortified wines is one of the things that sets me off, so I tend to choose by (a) pale colour and (b) an absence of floral scent.

    25. KittyCardigans*

      I have no recommendations, but just want to say that I think you’re correct about the White Claw tasting like cold medicine. I had a black cherry one at my cousin’s birthday last year and could’ve sworn I was drinking Robitussin. So gross.

    26. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      My favorite drinks:
      Mimosas with either pineapple or tangerine juice
      Hawaiian mules (pineapple vodka, ginger beer, mint)
      Snakebites (apple cider & Guinness stout)

    27. Zephy*

      I’m a beer girl that likes IPAs, and I generally like a more bitter/medicinal-tasting Adult Beverage (gin is my jam), so probably my favorites would make you cringe :) but occasionally I’ll want a sweeter drink, and on those occasions my go-to is a Cuba Libre – just rum and Coke, with a splash of lime juice.

      There are also styles of beer that are more palatable than IPAs for people who don’t like dry/bitter drinks. “Malty” beers are sweeter; “hoppy” beers are more bitter. Brown ales, stouts, and porters tend to be malty. This time of year, there are also a lot of seasonal beers with a lot of fall/”pumpkin pie spice” flavors in them. Shipyard Brewing Co’s Pumpkinhead is usually quite sweet – I haven’t picked up any yet this year, but last year’s batch basically tasted like clove soda that gets you drunk, so if that’s your thing, have at it. You might like a shandy, too – recommend mixing your own rather than buying, e.g., Leinenkugel’s premixed, but it’s just light beer and lemonade.

  31. Brown Bridget Jones*

    Hi all, I’ve got a relationship question incoming. I didn’t know who to talk to about this. I’ve been in a relationship with my partner for 3.5 years. I’m 28, he’s 29. Overall, it’s been a happy time. We started living together about a year into our relationship, and then we moved together to a new state, which we both regretted. It was just a bad time for many reasons, but we are moving again in a few weeks.

    Here’s the thing—we are starting to get a lot a lot of pressure to get married from our parents. Marriage makes me really nervous. I never had a healthy example of marriage. My parents have been married for 30 years, but hate each other. They stay together because divorce is shameful in their religion. I am in therapy to sort the painful side effects of their relationship on my childhood and relationship now. So many times my parents would make me and my sister be their mediators for their fights and threaten to leave us both if we didn’t help them fix things. Now, they’re a bit more chill, but I’ve learned to hang up when they fight. My sister and her husband seem slightly happier, but she tells me that she wishes she and her husband just stayed dating—not married. All the same telling me that it’s “right” to get married though for our religion.

    My partner and I live together. Everyone but my dad knows this, because my mom (although very mad at first) said if my dad knew, he would disown me. We need to hurry and get married if we don’t want to continue to lie. My sister says I’d be selfish to tell my dad just because I feel guilty. My partner’s parents (who see my parents often) tell us they feel guilty too and we should not burden them like this with lying. Then again, they don’t have to deal with my dad’s anger, but I do feel bad that they feel like they have to lie about us living together.

    This all feels ridiculous at my age! But I have a tough relationship with my parents I’m still growing out of, I do love them, and I’m terrified of losing my family. Ironically, my parents were cut off from their families when they married. I don’t want to lose my only ties to my family.

    So when it comes to getting married—I don’t feel excited about it. And it’s hard to tell, is it because of all this? Or I don’t want to marry my partner? I always hear that if you love someone, you’ll never feel lukewarm about marriage, and you’ll do it against the odds, etc. but it all feels awful with marriage, and I feel like I would be doing it for my parents. If we could stay in a long term relationship, I’d be happy with how we are. My partner is happy with whatever we decide to do and is supportive. I can’t help but doubt that something is wrong with ME like I am not wanting to get married because of some flaw, not because of my parents. If I wanted to do it, I’d do it despite the pressure. I just don’t…feel ready, even though I should at this age? Sigh. Has anyone been in a similar situation? Thanks for hearing me out.

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s fine not to be married, and I also think getting married to avoid admitting to your father that you’re living with your partner isn’t exactly an exciting motivation. I vote for not getting married until you want to and breaking the truth to your dad, but that’s easy for me to say.

      More to the point, even if it is some “flaw” in you that makes you prefer not to get married, so what? If you can live happily that way, why does it need to be fixed? I don’t know how to drive stick shift and will probably never learn, so I choose cars with automatic transmission. So it’s a weakness, but I don’t think I’d lead a fuller, happier life if I could change car gears.

    2. D3*

      I’m with fposte, don’t get married until/unless you WANT to. Just fess up. If your dad doesn’t like it, his loss. He may surprise you, though. And your mom’s threats about what he’ll do might just be manipulation to get you to fall in line with what she wants.
      I am speaking from a place where I have cut off contact with my parents – and been better for it. Wished I had done it decades earlier. And when you describe your relationship to your parents, I see little there worth salvaging. Tough relationship, shame, pressure, pain, fights.
      You may find that the very thing you have been terrified of is actually very freeing.
      You may find that standing firm with who you are, the decisions you’ve made and the life you’ve chosen are very freeing, and that your family can indeed handle it.
      But I fall on the side of honesty and making your own choices over hiding things and being manipulated.

      1. Brown Bridget Jones*

        To be fair, I only described the negatives of mine and my parents relationship (but I get what you’re saying and everyone else is, I do appreciate it.) It’s tough because my parents sacrificed a lot of us, and fought hard to provide for us (but then again…I guess this is what parents should do) but there are things I admire and love about my parents, like their sense of humor and dedication to social justice. Because I only have my parents and my sister as blood relatives and we are SO close knit, I feel so anxious about losing them. My sister keeps emphasizing that they’re in their early 70s, they won’t be here forever, so we should try to make them happy while they’re here. I get it. But at the same time, I’m imagining how freeing it would be to just be honest.

        1. Reba*

          Did you sign a contract with your parents whereby, if they did X Y and Z sacrificial thing, they would have the right to make all your decisions for life? Those sacrifices were *their* choices for *their* life. They are done raising you and now you are free to make decisions for *your* life.

          I do think it’s ok to keep some things from people to avoid upsetting them, but not like… the major contours of your life! I think your sister is really in the wrong on that score (“keeping them happy”). Right now, your relationship has love but it also has fear — you fear their rejection or “losing them” but I think they should be working hard not to lose you!

        2. D3*

          Sorry, but you are NOT close-knit. Family that really is close knows the other person’s living arrangements and relationship status and don’t have to hide those basic things about their lives under threat of being disowned. You honestly sound like you’re seriously gaslit. Talking about how hard they worked to provide for you (sounds like they want you to feel indebted) Talking about how they’re going to die soon (piling on more guilt to manipulate you)
          It IS freeing to be honest. It IS freeing to be out from under gaslighting and manipulation. I hope you can experience that someday.

        3. Dancing Otter*

          I think it’s interesting that you say “sacrificed a lot OF us”. Autocorrect fail or Freudian slip?

          Also, early seventies isn’t one foot in the grave. What if they live into their nineties? How long do you have to contort yourself for their approval?

          Personally, I’m in favor of being married before having children. If that’s not a concern, just make sure you both have wills and powers of attorney, in case of illness or worse, and do what makes both of you happy, not anyone else.

        4. PollyQ*

          Whatever your parents’ other virture are, a good parent would never threaten to completely disown you just because you don’t want to get married right now, or are living “in sin” with your boyfriend. And your parents might well live another 25 years. (My grandmother just turned 98-and-a-half.) I strongly urge you to go with your gut and be honest about your current status, and to make your choice of whether or when to marry your boyfriend purely on the basis of what you two want and what you think will make you happy.

    3. Lexie*

      You have to do what works for you and if that means not getting married then don’t. I would suggest meeting with an attorney if you haven’t already. You’ll want to have wills and powers of attorney in place so that you have decision making rights and access to assets should the need arise.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      Not upsetting your father is NOT a reason to get married! Getting married “for my parents” is not a reason to get married!
      I hope your therapist can help you work out some wording to help you tell your parents/dad that you live together. It is hard for your partner’s parents and others to have to cover things up with your dad. And I hope the therapist can help you make peace with the fact that you have to live your life, not let your dad tell you how to live it.

      What does it mean that your dad would “disown” you? Does that mean that he would stop talking to you? That would be his problem, not yours. I am not really sorry to say this, but would that be the worst thing? I would not really want him in my life based on your description. I would not push him out of my life but if he tried to control me that way, I would be ok with letting him stay away.

      Maybe “disown” you would mean something else that is important to you? You can tell him you love him and want him in your life (if those are true) and that you understand if he does not want to be in your life. That is really all you can do.

      Marriage is a big decision and deciding because your father wants you to is not the right way to do it. I hope you find a way through all of this!

      1. tangerineRose*

        “Not upsetting your father is NOT a reason to get married! Getting married “for my parents” is not a reason to get married!” This!!!

      2. Brown Bridget Jones*

        Yes, I think his and my mom’s idea of disowning would be him never talking to me. I know with what I described, it would sound crazy to want to continue to talk, but we do talk every day! Conversations are pleasant as long as I don’t bring up something they really disagree with. I wonder about how it would work out… I would tell him the truth, he would not call for a few days, I might try to call him and he doesn’t pick up (this happened once when he was mad at me for something smaller—I think I decided to not go with his recommendation on a job) and then…maybe he’d give in and call back after a few more weeks? Maybe. He’s the embodiment of his Aries sign. We live many states away, so maybe he wouldn’t want me to come home or would refuse to come visit. It would be a change since we talk daily.

        Either way, I appreciate everyone and your input on the marriage thing. I think I’m feeling a lot more sane about that decision right now. Thank you.

        1. Partly Cloudy*

          I know I’m late to this thread and therefore the chances of you seeing this are slim, but I feel compelled to point out how controlling your dad sounds. Conversations are pleasant… as long as you walk on eggshells. You talk every day… because that’s how he keeps tabs on you. I implore to you share these exact points with your therapist, and I wish you the best with this situation and your family dynamics in general.

    5. juneybug*

      It’s tough when you are an adult and you want the love and support of your family. Be prepared that you might not ever get that. Not trying to make you feel bad but want you to realize the love and support you deserve will probably come from other sources than your family.
      If you get married, do it when you are ready. It’s ok to listen to others for suggestions or advice but don’t make decisions based on their opinions cause they are not in the relationship with your partner. This is great practice for other life changing events in your life, such as children (if you decide to have them or not).
      I am sorry you are going through this!

    6. Anona*

      Seconding everyone about not getting married just to please your dad.

      I highly recommend Captain Awkward’s website. She has a lot of posts about dealing with family/setting boundaries if they disagree about how you’re living your life.

    7. Alex*

      Agree with others that a) it is totally fine to not want to get married, either right now or ever, if that is what you and your partner prefer and b) getting married to please others is a terrible idea and it is not surprising that your gut feeling is saying NO to that. It isn’t some sort of flaw with you, or some flaw in your relationship.

      Also, if you do decide to come clean about living together with your dad and he disowns you….he’s the one doing the disowning, not you. In this situation, you’re saying, “Hi, this is something about me that doesn’t actually affect you or your life at all” and he would be making the choice to be the one doing the cutting off, not you (if indeed that is what he does). It’s not your job to manage his reactions or feelings, although it is understandable that you don’t really want to be on the receiving end of them. But do remember HE is the one making that situation bad, not you.

    8. sswj*

      Don’t get married unless *you* can’t bear NOT to be married. Do it for you and no one else.

      I was with my husband for 11 years prior to getting married, and at least 9 of those we lived together. We (or I, really) went ahead with marriage because why not, at that point. Or so I thought. Now 20+ years into marriage and nearly 40 into the relationship I’m regretting it a bit. He adores me, and I like him and care about his happiness. But whatever I thought love was it isn’t there now, and I’m realizing that what I really want is to live alone. He’s been out of state for work for 10 weeks now, and I have not missed his presence at all. We talk on the phone every day, and that’s enough for me.

      That’s a bare bones outline of a much more complicated thing, of course. But it does illustrate I think that you have to really want it, and be very sure in your own heart and mind that it’s right for you. Our parents weren’t nagging or unhappy with us, but I knew they’d be happier if we were married and at that point in my life I was all about making other people happy. I wish I’d had a bit more backbone…

      Don’t marry to make your father happy. Marry to make YOU happy.

      1. Dan*

        Yeah… TBH, I live alone and enjoy it. I got a divorced a couple of years ago, and given the significance of marriage in the US, it’s not something I’m going to choose to do again unless there’s a darn good reason for it. I’ve lived alone since then, and TBH, I really the quiet and the ability to go about things undisturbed.

      2. Brown Bridget Jones*

        Thank you for sharing this <3 It’s really an affirmation of what I was thinking could happen if I do get married for my family (or everything could be fine) but it’s something I’d want to be sure of myself and actually wanting to do. I hope you’re finding happiness and making happy choices for yourself right now!

    9. AnonyFam*

      — “My partner is happy with whatever we decide to do and is supportive.”

      TBH, to me, ‘supportive’ means your partner guiding you away from seeking so much validation from your father and not meekly letting your feelings rule the show. If my husband said “but my mother would say XYZ about our relationship” and recruited my family into lying for him, I’d honestly feel like his mother is a bigger player in our marriage than I am.

      —- “But I have a tough relationship with my parents I’m still growing out of”

      Same here. The only way is to rip the bandaid off.

      My dad threw a tantrum for a few days, then he came around and saw that losing me was a bigger risk than he wanted to take. You say ” I don’t want to lose my only ties to my family” but that’s a two way street. If your dad would choose to “lose you” over a choice made with a man you want to love forever – why is he someone you want to tie your emotional validation to? My husband said that to me and that made me see the light. Ironically it made my relationships stronger with my parents since they saw me take a stand for myself.

      It’s a very tough decision but you’ll be surprised what you can achieve.

      1. Brown Bridget Jones*

        Eek. Your first point hurt but made a good point. I think my partner is quite passive and has a similar (but healthier!) relationship to his parents. They (his parents) seem more understanding because they did the same with their religious parents, but I can understand the guilt of lying to my dad. Especially since they all see each other so often, they’re reminded that they have to lie about it. My parents do have such a strong hold on my life and I recognize if it was the other way with my partner, I’d be extremely annoyed. I’m glad I’m in therapy to work on boundaries with my family, and recognize the abusive patterns they had that made me so scared, but…I need to do better.

        1. AnonyFam*

          Re-reading my comment I realize I was more blunt than I wanted to be and I apologize for that.

          I also recognize the role of religion seems to be a larger part in your family than mine, and I can’t speak to that. My dad is actually the one that stopped being religious around my grandmother and he got a fair bit of guilt thrown his way too. If he was as strict as my grandmother I would probably feel as guilty as you too. I hope your beau’s family can give you support to make difficult decisions and maybe they could give you better advice.

    10. Dan*

      I’m going to use some stronger language than usual here.

      Assuming you’re in the US, I would implore you to not get married unless this is something *you and your SO* absolutely want to do. What is really paradoxical in this country is that it is super easy to get married, and orders of magnitude harder to undo that choice if it comes to it.

      If you find out that marriage really isn’t for you and you need to get divorced, you’re going to kick yourself for getting married “for your dad”. Along those lines… if you get married and decide to get divorced, will you be concerned about what your dad says about *that*? If so, then you could be stuck in a miserable marriage.

      Your dad doesn’t control your life anymore. You need to do what is right for you, and while his feelings play into that, they’re not a reason to get married. Getting married is a far bigger deal than it might appear at first, and nobody but you and your SO get to decide that.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe it’s semantics, but I don’t believe that “marriage” ruins relationships. I think people ruin relationships. The proof of this in my mind is when I see non-married couples break up. Being married did not cause them to break up.

      BUT external pressures on a relationship sure will cause people to break up. For example, family members who berate a person’s SO can eventually tear down that relationship. In a similar vein family members who foist their expectations on a couple can help to tear down a relationship. Oh you have to get married. So you get married. Then it’s oh you have to buy a house. So you buy the house you do not want. Oh you have to have kids and a dog. So you get the kids and dog you do not want. One day you wake up and realize you don’t have your own life. You have someone else’s version of what they think life should be.
      This is already starting to happen for you, your father’s dictates are so strong that it is hard to find your own thinking. You do need to figure out how to correctly identify your own thoughts on things. I went for counseling before deciding to commit to my husband for a similar reason, my parents’ voices were so LOUD in my head that I could not hear my own voice. There were other problems going on at that time so this was lots of layers.

      I go a different way about marriage. I think it is a big step and I think it’s wise to carefully consider it before jumping in. In the end, I landed on the fact that I had a mix of things. I don’t believe in forcing people to marry by putting pressure on them. But I did believe I had the right person for me. I don’t believe everyone benefits by marrying. However, for myself I believed that my life was way much better with him- my specific person. I don’t believe that marriages stay glued together JUST because society/religious group/whoever says marriages are held together with permanent glue. But I do believe that I can make a decision and I can choose to do my best to stick to my commitment.

      I am sure that reads like double talk, especially if one reads it fast. The nutshell is rigid rules don’t work. But individuals can make choices along the way as to what suits the life they envision for themselves. Find out where you begin and your parents end.

      1. Brown Bridget Jones*

        You’ve got a good point! I have been fixated that all the married people I know with bad relationships, it’s the marriage that did it (in my mind.) But it seemed 12x harder for them to leave their bad relationships because of the marriage. Plus a lot of my married friends are maybe 1-2 years in their marriage, and they tell me “Marriage is so different. Your relationship changes completely.” And it made me so nervous! Then again, these friends are religious, so I imagine yes, getting married and being able to have sex and live together probably adds to the difference. And how people treat you as a couple.

        Anyways, yes that’s a good point and reminder that marriage works because the people work because the people wanted to get married, there’s no hard and fast rules about it.

        1. Ethyl*

          Fwiw, my spouse and I were together for 15 years before we got married in 2012, and I can’t say anything much changed in our relationship.

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Don’t get married. At least not yet. If your dad “disowns” you because you’re living with your partner and are not married, that says FAR more about him as a person and a parent than it does about you. If your parents had acted more appropriately then you wouldn’t be dealing with this mess to start with. (threatening to abandon their kids if the kids don’t help fix the marriage…. that’s abuse.)

      Keep working on this emotional tangle in therapy. And if you “lose” your family, it won’t because you’re in the wrong. It will be because your parents are too screwed up to do the right thing.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Ugh missed a sentence. This emotional tangle doesn’t mean you’re wrong or bad, but it does mean you’re hurting. That’s why you want to work on things – so you aren’t hurting. Not so that you decide you want to get married.

    13. Brown Bridget Jones*

      Thank you everyone for your replies! I thought this would only get a couple of replies, so I appreciate it. I really appreciate the confirmation that I think I knew—which was not to get married due to the pressure. Part of me thought, well jeez if you’re planning on staying together, why not get married—especially if it will make your parents happy? But reading your replies helped me realize that’s flawed thinking and I’d be doing yet another thing for my family’s happiness and not mine. Someone mentioned it above, but the thought of divorcing and being like “Wow. I really just did this all for my dad” when looking back is actually super depressing.

      Telling my dad about living with my partner is another struggle that I hope to work on more in therapy… Part of me wonders if I’m just wanting to tell him because my *partner’s parents* are pressuring us, and I’d want to tell him because I just want to be upfront and me. Someone else said they wonder if my mom’s manipulating it a bit, and honestly…I can see it. She loves that we have a secret now. But she does say that if I tell my dad, he will get mad, then mad at her, etc. So it makes me feel like more is riding on it than just cutting me off. At some point though, this has gotta stop. Every day I have a little more resolve to stand up to my parents. Anyways. Thank you all, I really appreciate your advice and experiences shared. Hopefully I’ll come back here one day with good news!

      1. going anon*

        I’m Indian and I totally understand how difficult it can be to stand up to your parents. Culturally it’s not something that’s done.

        I was born in India , but moved to the US when I was very young. There were certainly some struggles with wanting to date according to American standards when my parents had an arranged marriage. I know several friends who dated in secret and never told their parents.

        I had the opposite situation where I got married to an American man against my parent’s wishes. They acted horribly towards us and I told them they couldn’t attend the wedding. So none of my family were there and my future sister-in-law walked me down the aisle. I had no contact with my parents for a while, but we did reconcile. The following year they had an Indian wedding ceremony for us.

        All that to say that I understand the cultural aspect of what you’re dealing with. I think it’s awesome that you’re going to therapy and not getting married due to pressure. I hope it comes to a point where you can be open with your Dad about the relationship. Wishing you all the best!

    14. *daha**

      No. The fact that your father is unable to act like an adult (or that your mother pretends that he can’t – I don’t know which) is not a good reason to get married. Do it when you have a reason to do it for yourself.

  32. Objective Witness*

    I have a legal advice question that’s adjacent to the-place-we-don’t-talk-about, so if it should be posted on a Friday please forgive me. I’m hoping it’s a Saturday question because the legal part of it is actually my concern, not the workplace aspect.

    I am a licensed professional and I live and work in the US. I used to work closely with Friend. Friend was accused of doing Something (between a serious ethical violation and an actual crime) and placed on leave during the investigation. Friend chose to resign during the lengthy investigation. I don’t know what the findings of the investigation were, or how far it had gotten. Friend is considering legal action (presumably for defamation) against Friend’s former employer (still my employer). During the investigation, Friend wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone. Friend still believes–although they did send me a message with this quick encapsulation–that they shouldn’t talk to anyone from work while they consider legal avenues so I have very limited information. Friend has not directly asked me for help but did imply that the reason they couldn’t talk to me was the possibility of legal proceedings.

    I believe Friend is innocent. I worked enough with Friend to confidently say I never saw Friend do Something. So, 1) If called upon to make a legal statement (basically saying that I, in my role, never saw evidence of Something), what risks do *I* incur? Has anyone been through something like this? I am willing to stake my reputation on defending Friend but I can’t risk doing it blindly, if that makes sense! 2) It was no secret that Friend and I were good friends before this. Will anyone believe me if I, in a professional capacity, testify that I believe Friend is innocent? Will I do Friend more harm than good, even if I am asked by Friend’s lawyer to testify? 3) I am a union employee and I am sure the union was already involved on Friend’s side. But do *I* need union representation if I get pulled in to this? Do I need a separate lawyer if I were a witness in a civil suit?

    Sorry to be vague, but I miss my friend a lot and I keep ruminating over the whole situation. I feel like I’d do anything to help Friend and I know it doesn’t benefit me or Friend to be blinded by that feeling, so I guess I’m really looking for guidance about my own risks in a situation like this–what kinds of questions to expect, how do I protect my own reputation/credibility and thus defend Friend, etc… Many thanks to anyone who has read this far!

    1. Amtelope*

      I don’t think there’s any significant legal risk, as long as you tell the truth and stick to things that you know to be true (“I never saw her do X” vs. “She never did X.”) Whether your testifying would do any good is a judgment call for Friend’s lawyer to make. If she does ask you to testify, it can’t do any harm to talk to your union rep and see if they recommend that you have union representation. You shouldn’t need your own lawyer, unless someone accuses *you* of committing a crime or ethical violation; if they do, go straight to a lawyer before you say anything further.

      1. Amtelope*

        Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and if you’re really concerned, you could ask for a consult with an employment lawyer, just to get their sense of whether you need legal representation.

      2. Objective Wittness*

        Thank you, Amtelope! To be clear, if asked I will tell only the truth about what I saw (didn’t see). As much as I say “I’d do anything…,” I won’t lie, stretch the facts, or pretend I was there when I wasn’t. Good point that if Friend’s lawyer contacts me it would be for the purpose of *determining* whether I could be a useful witness–speaking to the hypothetical lawyer would not, in one jump, be the same as testifying.

    2. pancakes*

      This is something you need to talk to a lawyer about. Broadly speaking, though, the idea of staking your reputation on helping your friend doesn’t make much sense. If you are called upon to be deposed or answer written interrogatories, the questions will mostly be about very specific things, not about whether you think your friend is a good person – there’s simply not much value in asking such vague, fluffy questions. Your relationship as a friend may call your credibility as a witness into question, but how much question, exactly, of course depends on how credible your particular answers seem and how you carry yourself. If you are to be deposed or answer questions you will need a lawyer to represent you and prepare you for that.

      1. Objective Witness*

        Thank you, pancakes! I’m actually glad to hear you say that it’s less likely/useful to be called as a character witness–that’s where my fear of being seen as non-objective comes from, I guess. I feel like I’d be staking my own reputation by testifying on Friend’s behalf because this is a case where there isn’t physical evidence (to my knowledge) to support either side. And I do firmly believe that Friend did not do Something and has been wrongly accused, but I am also aware that testifying (effectively) against my employer could be risky for me as well. So I appreciate the honest advice that, yes, I probably need a lawyer if I get pulled into this.

        1. Observer*

          Saying “I never saw Person do Thing” is not testifying against your employer, nor should it put you in legal jeopardy. Whether your employer could fire you over this is a different question and one that you might want to ask your union rep, and possibly a lawyer.

          1. Objective Witness*

            Good point, Observer. The simple truth is that I never saw Friend do Something, end of story. I guess I was thinking this contradicted the Employer’s accusation, but you’re right: The Employer isn’t accusing *me* of seeing Something. I think my head is too deep in this (well, obviously it is) and trying to worry about every angle! Thanks for the voice of reason (including the caveat that the Employer’s hypothetical response is still unknown).

    3. fposte*

      In addition to what people have said, it’s quite possible this case will never happen; certainly most contemplated defamation cases don’t, because they’re hard and expensive and can make the situation worse.

      1. Objective Witness*

        Thank you, fposte! You are probably right, especially since (as I commented above), there isn’t physical evidence to support either side of this. The whole situation is awful–Friend absolutely stands to lose more than they have already lost by pursuing it further. (I know that’s Friend’s decision and not mine, but I could imagine myself or some other co-worker in the same situation.)

    4. RagingADHD*

      I don’t have answers to all of this, but I have some.

      1) Whether any testimony from a character witness (which is what you would be) would do good vs. harm is up to the lawyer. They will interview you to determine that before calling you as a witness. Just answer questions honestly & thoroughly, and leave strategy to the pro.

      2) Witnesses who are otherwise uninvolved in the case do not typically need a lawyer.

      If you are called, it would be a good idea to contact your union rep and ask if you’ll need union involvement, or if testifying would risk retaliation from your employer.

      3) You don’t have to do anything about any of this unless and until the lawyer contacts you, at which time you can discuss it with them & with the union to get answers pertinent to your situation. Don’t borrow trouble, and try not to worry about something that is unlikely to happen anyway.

      1. Objective Witness*

        Thank you, RagingADHD, especially for the advice about borrowing trouble. You’re totally right, it’s just hard not to ruminate on this endlessly. I miss my friend *and* I fear they have been treated unfairly by my employer *and* I do need to try to keep my job at least for now. Speaking on Friend’s behalf feels like something I could *do* in a situation where I’m otherwise powerless, but you’re right that it might be unlikely to ever happen and worrying about it won’t sway the events either way.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Adding, civil suits are very different from criminal charges.
          By the sheer fact that your friend lawyered up, your company is saying, “Whoops we have a real problem here.” They may agree to an out of court settlement just to keep costs down.
          But next step, your friend might have to agree not to discuss the settlement as part of the final agreement on the case.
          Other things to consider:
          Your friend is being a good friend to you. S/he is doing the only thing they can to protect you from fallout from this one.
          Since you have heard nothing from a lawyer or other professional, I would assume that your friend is handling it very well so far. It’s probably intense and tiring. But this is how cases go.
          Your friend probably knows you will go to bat for her and sometimes knowing that is enough. She can say, “I have this card up my sleeve. I know Objective Witness will be super supportive. If nothing else works I can get my lawyer to call OW.”

          Sit tight. Wait for the storm to pass. Externally, try to appear like your life is continuing on. Don’t discuss the particulars with anyone. And try, even though it’s hard, to go about normal activities. This not only protects you but it protects your friend also. If you make a move without her and her lawyer knowing what you are doing, you might blow something they are working on. Don’t be a loose cannon but also don’t be a well-intended but less-informed player here either.

          1. Objective Witness*

            Thank you, Not So NewReader. Your words are reassuring, both in terms of how Friend’s case might be going and in terms of advising me to hold the course. I’ve been trying to keep everything normal (and feeling guilty about it, like I should be doing something), so it’s good to hear that this *is* probably the safest and most beneficial option at this point. They’ll call me if they need me. (And then I’ll call my union rep!)

            1. pancakes*

              Yes, I think that’s a good frame of mind to have. If your friend’s lawyers or the company’s lawyers have reason to believe you have relevant information to contribute during the discovery phase (the fact-finding phase of litigation where depositions are taken, documents are exchanged, etc.) they will get in touch with you, and you needn’t do anything in the meantime. Many, many would-be lawsuits don’t go any further than that.

  33. Help*

    Has anyone successfully dealt with puppy resource guarding / food aggression towards CHILDREN in the house? Can it be trained out or is this a behavior issue leading to rehoming?

    Dog is 5 months and fine with food around adults but has exhibited food aggression around kids. Two younger elementary aged kids in the house so this is a possibly major safety issue.

    Seeing a professional trainer and calling our vet next week, but I was curious about how hopeless or fixable this might be.

    1. Cat and dog fosterer*

      It is likely fixable. The dog needs to learn how to trade with the kids, so that food removal is a positive. I would also suggest training the puppy by the kids. If the kids are old enough to make hand gestures then they can get the pup to sit and more. If they are babies then hold the child with you while you train. The problem is that the pup knows the children are smaller and can be bossed around. When training, the kids should feed the pup as the reward for a good job, and if the pup is snappy like mine then maybe have the child throw the kibble at the pup when they do the requested behavior (my dog has excellent eye-snout coordination).

      If you have the time and patience, then ideally every bit of food will be fed to the pup by the children as a reward during training.

      This video explains trading:

      I can’t find a relevant video, but the other training to try is having some food in your hand and only giving it to the dog when they back away. So the dog gets rewarded for not being pushy, and instead deferring to the children. It teaches patience, and encourages that training relationship with the children.

    2. Squeebird*

      I haven’t dealt with this exact situation personally (we just had dog-to-dog resource guarding in our house), but my understanding is that it is very possible to train this behaviour out, although you do have to be willing to put in the work.

      In the meantime, since it sounds like it’s just food that triggers his resource guarding, can you implement a strict “don’t come near Dog when he’s eating” rule for the kiddos? If the children can follow that rule then I feel like the safety aspect can be managed while you work on training Dog. (Kids should learn not to bother dogs who are eating/sleeping/chewing a toy as a general rule anyway, so it wouldn’t hurt to enforce that even if Dog does eventually accept their presence around food).

      1. Squeebird*

        I just realized that by food aggression you might mean around human food as well, when you’re all eating together? That would be a lot harder to manage I can imagine. I just assumed it was Dog guarding his own food.

    3. Black Horse Dancing*

      It is natural, is a training issue,and can be worked on or even just managed. Do train the children as well the dog. If you don’t want the dog stealing kids’ food from them, don’t allow the kids near the puppy at feeding time–animals should always have a quiet place to eat and, realize food-wise, as with many animals, once the pup has it, they believe it’s theirs. Like if your kid grabs some favorite candy, it can be a major ordeal to make them give it up. So, yes it can be worked on. There are many great books about it and I’m sure your trainer will have many good ideas. One idea we used with our resource guarder was walk by, drop a treat in the bowl, leave. Slowly the dog associates someone coming near the bowl with good things. Teaching trade was good as well. Give pup low value item, trade that item for high value treat.

    4. KoiFeeder*

      Sir Fusspot had food aggression, although he was way better with kids than adults. Whether or not it’s manageable depends on the dog and on the level of work you’re capable of putting in. Sir Fusspot honestly never really improved, but I was putting in the majority of the work and I simply couldn’t do everything myself. It’s alright to look at the recommendations and decide that things aren’t feasible and that you’ll need to rehome/return the dog- it was probably my lack of advocacy that lead to the situation that required my dog to get euthanized.

      My immediate concern would be something I saw with Sir Fusspot, which was that he would only improve towards the person doing the work and never saw any improvement towards adults in general. If the dog won’t improve if your kids aren’t doing the training work, and doesn’t improve towards playmates or strange kids, I can see where that would be a huge problem. That being said, our trainer said that that wasn’t the usual way of things, so it’s probably not something to worry about.

    5. Jewelers husband*

      From what I have read, this is generally fixable, especially since you are catching it young. It’s good that you’re bringing a trainer on board though. In the meantime, can you feed the dog only in a crate or pen? That way you can be certain that if a kid thoughtlessly wanders nearby there is no danger.

      Also, are the kids able to safely give the dog treats? I wonder if seeing the kids as a source of tasty things rather than a threat to them would be helpful. Obviously, do not have the kids attempt to offer treats if you think there could be risk and don’t do it during feeding time unless advised by a professional.

  34. Pharmgirl*

    When I first started drinking I liked Amaretto Sours and Mai Tais. Vodka is about the only alcohol I don’t like, but otherwise anytime a cocktail looks good I will try it, though I gravitate towards bourbon or rum cocktails. I like mojitos and margaritas too if they go with the food.

    I’m a fan of cider’s in general, so if you like hard cider rose you can try different ciders. I don’t like beers, but as my friends love breweries I’ve tended to gravitate towards sours, but if they brewery has cider that’s what I’ll go with. I really enjoy wine though, and I’ve been trying to explore different types. If you liked a fruity red, maybe try some fruity whites as well. I really like the Vivino app for wine, and it might help you find things you like.

  35. Courageous cat*

    My cat is 10 or 11 (not sure) and getting his dental cleaning/extractions done in a couple weeks.

    He’s had all his pre-anesthesia bloodwork and has been deemed healthy and able to undergo the surgery by the doctor, but I am still so, so nervous due to his age. Especially living alone during quarantine, my cat is kind of my life and I could not bear to be without him and need him to live till at least 20.

    Please, if anyone has any stories about their senior pet undergoing anesthesia and being fine, tell them to me here! I need all the reassurance I can get so I don’t spend the next two weeks exceedingl nervous.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I hag no problems with my cats having extractions a bit older than yours (12 and 13), one who had a mild heart murmur. I do think it took them a little longer to fully come out of the anesthesia than when they were younger (back to normal the next day, instead of later the same day). Best of luck!

      1. two cookies please*

        Same. I’ve had cats at 10 and 13 w. heart murmur have cleaning/extractions. Groggy/out of things the same evening, fine the next day. It *is* scary though.

        1. curly sue*

          Same. My senior Siamese (heart murmur and arthritis) had sedation for a tooth extraction when she was 13/14 (I can’t remember precisely – she’s 17 now). She was incredibly loopy for about a day afterwards, to the point where we were joking about seeing the little birdies circling her head, but she was absolutely fine once she slept it off.

    2. Cruciatus*

      I’ve had much older cats get tooth extractions and they were fine! I think my one cat was 17 or 18 when she had it done. I felt so guilty because as I left the office where I dropped her off I saw her look to me as the door was closing and I wondered…am I going to see her again? And she was fine! I was the nervous wreck. The vet’s office did testing ahead of time (as yours did) to see that she was in good enough shape (she even had high blood pressure), and while there is no guarantee, this is something vet’s do frequently. If there’s any question then put it off, but a 10/11 year old cat should be just fine! They kept my cat for most of the day but I was able to pick her up in the evening. She was a bit dopey from drugs, but then she chowed down on food (even missing all these teeth) and I knew she would get over this surgery. It was probably just days before she was back to her old (literally) self again.

    3. mreasy*

      I have had two much older cats do absolutely fine with it. If there were any causes for concern, your vet would not want to do the procedure. Good luck! The cleaning and extraction may make him feel a lot better!

    4. SpellingBee*

      Same here – have had much older cats do perfectly fine with anesthesia. One of our cats had tooth extractions multiple times over the years (she had resorptive lesions and her teeth would break). Her last surgery was when she was 18, and she actually perked up and seemed to feel better afterwards. I know it’s nerve-wracking, though, and I always feel apprehensive when leaving them at the vet for any procedure that requires anesthesia. Just think how much better he’ll feel when the bad teeth are gone!

    5. Grace*

      My nineteen-year-old struggled with the aftermath of sedation and it took a couple of days for her to eat again, but she was *nineteen*. She made it to a couple of days shy of twenty-one in the end.

      If it helps, my family’s current cat is…twelve? I think? Maybe a young thirteen? I’d have absolutely no concerns about sending her in for an op. I know that officially cats are senior once they hit age eight or so, but in my experience age-related concerns don’t kick in for a good few years after that. My old girl only went on arthritis meds at seventeen and was pretty sprightly up until then.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Your cat is equivalent to 50/60s in humans…. which is NOT ancient. I don’t even necessarily feed senior food to a 10/11 year old cat! Most likely your kitty will be just fine.

      I’ve had older cats knocked out for dental with no problems. I think the oldest was 15 that I’ve had to knock out. I know a friend had a 17 year old cat knocked out for a dental.

    7. Courageous cat*

      Whew, thanks y’all – these are some very comforting perspectives! I thought 10/11 was ancient in terms of surgery.

    8. Jaid*

      Bella went through something similar and survived until 20. It’s something you gotta get done to keep your baby healthy.

    9. violet04*

      One of my cats was 10 years or older when she had dental surgery. She was a stray so I didn’t know her exact age. She also had kidney disease so I was quite worried. They monitored her carefully during the surgery and she did fine.

      I have another kitty who around 7 or 8 who had dental surgery earlier this year. Everything went smoothly. I noticed a big improvement in his disposition after the surgery. He had five teeth extracted and the recovery went smoothly. He is a lot more energetic and chatty post surgery.

      Paws crossed that everything goes smoothly!

    10. Dancing Otter*

      My cats are eleven and sixteen, and they get their teeth cleaned every year. The worst of it is the yowling when their food is taken away the night before.

      Mind, the 16-year-old has fewer teeth, so he isn’t under for as long as when he was younger and toothier.

    11. Definitely a Real Cat*

      When my cat was 11, she had a trouble-making kitty accident that led to serious knee surgery, obviously involving a lot of sedation—she recovered completely. 18 now! We’re hoping to reach the old gold 20 here too :)

    12. Not Australian*

      We had a very senior cat have all but three teeth removed at an advanced age. (He then broke one of the remaining three, but that’s another matter.) He was fine, and *five years later* had a large mass removed from his side as well. He made it to the age of seventeen, which isn’t *quite* the mark you’ve set for your cat but it isn’t at all bad!

    13. PseudoMona*

      My 14 year old kitty just had her yearly dental cleaning and one tooth extracted, and she’s absolutely fine. She tends to have bad teeth, so this was her 3 or fourth cleaning and at least third extraction.

      She’s always fine after I pick her up from the vet. Maybe a little unsteady on her feet if the anesthesia is still wearing off, but that lasts just a few hours at most. Then she’s back to her typical self: snuggling, purring, and demanding food.

  36. Might Be Spam*

    What do you use to clean your oven? My apartment oven is covered by dried ancient gunk. I’ve been trying to use safe cleaners for days and have gotten a lot off. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot left. It’s not a self-cleaning oven. I’m looking for anything I can use to finish cleaning my oven.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Baking soda and a dash of vinegar. Or a paste of baking soda and water; let it sit. Or a dab of dish soap on a sponge. Or put vinegar into an oven-proof/vinegar proof (glass baking dish?), heat the oven for a minute or two (use a timer if you think you’ll forget!) and then let it sit to soften the gunk. Caveat: I’ve never tried this method. My mom formerly used a dish with a small amount of **ammonia**. Personally I cannot breathe around ammonia.

      Bon Ami cleanser is pretty inoffensive chemically but you have to rinse well (wipe with just water) to get rid of all the leftover dust. Come to think of it, you also have to rinse hella lot with baking soda.

      You can also try steel-wool-and-soap pads, or scouring pads, unless your oven’s interior is somehow vulnerable to being scratched.

      If it’s really greasy you may want to wipe off the crud with vinegar-dampened paper towels that you just throw out. Not great, ecologically speaking, but better than rinsing a sponge in the sink and getting fat in the drain pipes.

      Prevention may help: use foil or beat-up cookie sheets/jelly roll pans under pies (sugary liquid that overflows onto the oven floor is miserable to scrub off); try to cover high-fat foods…

      I hope someone else answers. I’m writing in off the top of my head after a week of distractions. My advice seems generally helpful but I would love someone else to agree in general or correct any details. (Might be time to go do something besides run on at the keyboard. ;-) )

    2. mreasy*

      I haven’t used but have been recommended Norwex by a VERY clean-conscious person (my mom) and she loves it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep absolutely love Norwex. I don’t have one for my oven. But I have a glass one and general purpose one. They changed my life.

        1. LemonLyman*

          Never heard of Norwex so looked it up online. It said something about having a party and making money selling it. Is it an MLM?

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yes, sadly.

            Recently I found a comparable product available in a retail store. I received mine as a gift. I am pretty picky so most MLM products don’t impress me that much. This one did. You may be able to locate high quality comparable cloths.

    3. KittyCardigans*

      Barkeeper’s friend and steel wool did the trick for me…along with a lot of elbow grease. I also started by simmering a pan of water in the oven so that the humidity could help me out a little (just make sure it’s turned off and cooled down to an acceptable level by the time you go to work). It’s such an unpleasant task, but so nice to have a sparkly oven that’s easier to maintain!

    4. Rebecca Stewart*

      If it’s not self-cleaning, you’re just going to have to keep soaking and wiping and soaking and wiping.
      Ammonia will cut grease; spray it on, or lay paper towels/rags wet with it over the greasy mess, let sit a while, and wipe up the softened layer. If it’s actually carbonized, you’ll have to soften it with water and use something abrasive to take it off. (scouring powder or steel wool)

      It’s a mess, and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it. Cleaning ovens is no. fun.

      1. Reba*

        I’ve had success with the ammonia + pan of boiling water left in for hours. It softens the crud and you can then brillo or steel wool it off. Ventilation a must.

    5. Might Be Spam*

      I’ve gotten the greasy stuff off. The stuff left in the oven is baked on and has probably been there for years. I’m willing to try more intensive products just to get this over with. Nothing seems to soften the baked on crud so far.

      1. Squidhead*

        Have you tried actual spray-on oven cleaner? The kind you let sit overnight? It is probably not good for the environment but it worked the last time I used it for a similar problem! Thick layer of foam, wipe off in the morning. (I do like Simple Green for the sticky grease but it sounds like you’ve already solved that part.)

        1. Filosofickle*

          Oven cleaner is godawful for personal/environmental health reasons but it is crazy effective. No elbow grease needed, just wipe it. (Which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about how dangerous it is.) Stay well ventilated and gloved!

        2. Dancing Otter*

          Not for nothing do all the labels carry warnings about ventilation.
          But if you once get the oven properly clean, you should be able to maintain it with the less toxic approaches suggested above.

    6. juneybug*

      I use a steam cleaner on my oven twice a year and it works great. Maybe you can borrow one from a friend?
      If you use BarKeeper’s Friend, make sure to wear gloves. I didn’t and my hands peeled for days.
      Good luck! Hope your days and oven are shiny!

    7. 00ff00Claire*

      I made a big mess in my oven a few weeks ago, and I used baking soda. It seemed to work on some of the older stuff as well as the mess I made. I mixed it with water and then used a pastry brush to paint the entire oven. Then I let it dry. This seemed to be key – because it was a paste, it effectively moisturized the oven gunk and that softened it up. You may need to repeat applications of you’ve got a lot of build up. After it is good and dry, use a wet paper towel or wet cloth to scrub. Then, I diluted some vinegar and wiped with that, just to neutralize the baking soda so it would rinse out – otherwise you get a powdery residue left behind.

      I have not tried it myself, but have also heard that norwex oven cleaner works.

    8. Bun*

      I recommend trying the Pumie brand heavy-duty scouring stick. You can get it from Walmart or Home Depot in the cleaning product aisle. It got rid of all the carbon build-up in my oven and made it look brand new. It does take some elbow grease but it was only product I tried that actually worked.

  37. Nacho*

    I’ve had my computer chair for about 6 years now, and the faux leather is starting to flake from the arm rests. Does anybody know if there’s anything I can do about it? Maybe some kind of wrap I could put around the rests to replace the leather that’s pealing off? I really don’t want to spend another hundred bucks on a new chair right now.

    1. fposte*

      Do aesthetics matter? Duck tape is a go to if not (and you can even get it in colors—if it’s a black chair, black tape is easy to find).

    2. MissDisplaced*

      There are some faux leather and vinyl repair kits and paints (often for auto interiors) that may work. Probably around the $20 price point.

      But if it’s not worth that, colored duct tape or colored electrical tape is a cheaper option.

    3. D'Euly*

      I would use a fabric tape or gaffer’s tape to make a more inviting surface – I wouldn’t want to rest bare arms on duct tape regularly.

      1. Ethyl*

        Seconding handlebar tape for this! Head to your local bike shop and pick up a pack. It’s soft and cushy and comes in neat colors and patterns!

    4. Heartlover1717*

      My armrests are not “leather” but after some time of using the electrical tape/duct tape method (recovering when it came apart), I broke down and purchase replacement armrests (they came as a pair) for about $17. Glad I did!

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

      I have a similar but more severe issue with my computer chair. I’m praying that Staples has a deal for Black Friday.

      1. Lizzie*

        I had some thick felt placemats that I cut up and wrapped around the arms of my chair, and glued, and they are comfy! Could have sewn the felt, but the glue has worked well. Or you could just use bulldog clips for an even faster solution. Maybe a piece of ‘pool noodle’, cut open, would work too, depending on the diameter of the chair arms.

    6. Owler*

      Remember how couches used to to come with arm rest covers? If you sew or have a friend who sews, it would be easy to make a pair.

    7. MMM*

      This is late but I ordered covers for my desk chair from Amazon because I had the same issue with flaking leather. My chair doesn’t have armrests so they are just for the seat and back, but they’re working well and I think they have the same thing for armrests. They remind me of the stretchy elastic book covers I used to use

  38. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I remember my childhood dog getting sick and Mom got her to eat raw hamburger with/after pills. The next idea would have been fish sticks because that dog would eat any fish she could steal. (Problematic at the beach–she’d find something stinky to roll in then start nibbling. It made her sick more than once. Whoever said dogs done eat things that have gone bad never met this crazy cocker spaniel.)

  39. Firecat*

    You may enjoy the disreputable history of frankly landlow banks. It’s the prep school adolescence book focused on gender.

  40. Girasol*

    Anyone have a tip for working outside with mask and glasses? Outdoor volunteer work involving exercise and some huffing and puffing absolutely opaques my glasses. I’ve tightened down the internal wire at the bridge of the nose but it’s not helping enough. When the group spreads out enough I can take the mask off, but when we’re at the six foot minimum I need the mask on for my protection and for theirs and to share the message that masking is appropriate here. Any tips on fogging?

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Medical tape (from any drugstore) across the bridge of your nose. It’s what we’ve done in ORs since forever.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Try wearing the top of your mask high enough up on the bridge of your nose so that the bottom of your glasses overlaps it. The tighten the nose wire. That almost entirely prevents my glasses from fogging.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Agreed. Glasses over mask for the win!

        How badly do you need the glasses for what you’re going to be doing? I take mine off a lot, and I’ve worn them since I was ten.

    3. Jaid*

      Amazon has Reusable Mask Silicone Nose Bridge Strip for Adults which work really well. There’s also Silicone Mask Bracket Inner Support Frames.

    4. Retail Not Retail*

      I got a spray called “fog gone” and it’s worked pretty well! In the summer, I’d put dawn dish soap on the lenses and kinda swirl my glasses around.

      Before the spray (and today when I didn’t use it because my work provided mask sucks and doesn’t fog unless oh it starts pouring and i have to drive!), there were some activities that were just too dangerous to do with a mask. Can’t handle a defrosting windshield with foggy glasses! I also used a riding mower last week and had to take it off because it was early in the morning and I kinda needed to see.

      For me though this year, barring rain or greenhouse time, the fog cleared up by like 90 minutes into my shift and never returned. And on days I’m off, I never have to deal with fogging since I don’t need a mask at 6am

  41. Anon for this*

    Help (warning: health issues)

    My beloved spouse was diagnosed with breast cancer this week and frankly, I’m lost. I am looking for good starting points. I have googled but admittedly, at this moment, I’m overwhelmed and hoped someone in this community may have ideas. We visit the surgeon on Tuesday. We’re both women. She is taking this very well from what I can see but I’m not her and I don’t want to put my stress on her. Any suggestions, please?

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I’m sorry; that’s a really hard thing to deal with as a partner. I would look for a caregiver support group, either an online forum or through the hospital–the hospital social worker may have some ideas. Good luck to you both.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I hope they caught it early, it’s an easy form to treat, she tolerates the treatments well, and recovers quickly. :)

      A support group may be very helpful. I believe the American Cancer Society has a list. Probably others do as well, or ask the oncologist’s office if they can point you in the right direction.

      1. Anon for this*

        Thank you, we will do this. It’s just the first step and I am trying hard to be hopeful and find support for both of us.

    3. Outside Earthling*

      I know it’s hard but I’d try not to google too much before the surgeon visit. When I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, my nurse suggested I don’t visit the forums, at least initially before I knew my treatment plan. There’s just too much chance of finding something that will freak you out. I stuck to the literature the hospital gave me, or tried to as best I could, and it helped to avoid getting too overwhelmed. I found that having complete trust in my medical team and taking it in bite sized chunks helped me a lot. Having supporters there every step of the way also helped so much. Best wishes to you both.

      1. Anon for this*

        Thank you. I am trying to not do that as well because I want to help her when we meet with the surgeon and listen to their plans. And she needs to make the choices she wants. I just want to support her as best I can.

      2. pancakes*

        Seconding this. After my diagnosis and throughout my treatment I did do some reading about types of cancer, methods of treatment, etc., but I didn’t visit forums at any point. It’s not mandatory. They’re immensely helpful for some people, but for me, I quickly came to feel that cancer took up enough of my life that I didn’t want to give it another inch.

        One thing that can be super helpful is accompanying her to doctor appointments, which it sounds like you’re already planning to do. Having someone help take notes, remind the patient of questions they wanted to ask, etc., can be a huge help.

    4. Nicole*

      I went through this diagnosis and treatment last year (last chemo was March 2nd this year and last radiation was April 24th). This site helped me immensely and I was very surprised (pleasantly) that so many partners of the one diagnosed reached out as well. I am wishing all the best for your spouse.


      There is tons of information and discussion forums.

    5. saf*

      I have been through this in the last few years with 2 very close friends, one with a partner, one single. It’s not easy, it’s just not. But in both cases, the one with the diagnosis handled it better than the rest of us.

      Support groups and friends you can lean on will help you offer the best support possible to her while still making sure you are OK.

      And accept help. If folks offer, they mean it. Take them up on it!

      Remember, things change as you go. Pay attention, take good notes because you WILL forget what was said, and remember that your purpose is to be her support, and it’s all good to accept support for YOU and for her from friends.

    6. Anonosaurus*

      I’m really sorry to hear that.

      Agree that finding a support group for caregivers (which includes people giving emotional support – you don’t have to be providing physical care to qualify) is vital. Worth asking your wife’s BC nurse, if she has one, for guidance.

      Also, you are in one of the most difficult stages of the process just now. In my experience, things actually get better once you see the oncologist and have a treatment plan and know the facts..I remember a cancer support worker telling me that what we call “cancer of the X’ is actually several diseases, genetically and biologically speaking, with different profiles and treatment strategies. Which means that Dr Google will probably tell you nothing useful and scare you senseless in the process. I would keep away from that for now.

      Finally, I get what you mean about not putting your stress on her, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a stoic and keep everything inside either. There’s a risk in being so focused on being strong for the partner that you lose the intimacy of sharing your feelings. I don’t mean that you look to her for support more than giving it – which is exactly why you need external support – but that you don’t necessarily need to hide all your fear and sadness either.

      Wishing both of you the best.

    7. Not Australian*

      What worked for me was the mantra ‘these guys know what they’re doing’. Mine was caught very early and I’ve had – so far – a trouble-free recovery, although I still get a lot of discomfort at the wound site. If I may make the suggestion, your role here is to be supportive and let your partner make any decisions necessary without trying to influence her. Allow her to be selfish – encourage it, if you have to – and make sure she knows you’ve got her back whatever happens. And I found these guys on AAM immensely supportive the whole time, so there’s that as well.

    8. Anon4This*

      The beginning is the hardest and a crazy rollercoaster of emotions with a ton of new terminology thrown in the mix that is bread and butter to the professionals but is so confusing. Stage vs Grade and hormone positive vs negative etc etc etc. All you want are answers but there aren’t any (including the big one – why me?) until there are more tests or scans or whatever. The best you can do is sit tight, do NOT Google, and try to take your minds off the situation. You will both feel a ton better after that consult on Tuesday because a plan will put some structure around the problem, and you will know what to work against for the next however long the treatment lasts.

      I would second the breastcancer.org resource and forums for support and information (lots of help guides for chemo or radiation etc – what to pack, what to expect). A lot of times the professionals won’t/don’t “get” a certain side effect that plenty of ladies have experienced (AND have solutions for), so you can help yourself and ensure it isn’t just you imagining things.

      Finally, this is a very personal disease and no one cancer fits all. How one person responds to treatment can vary considerably to how another may react with the exact same profile. Some people cope by telling their friends and families, others go it alone as they don’t want to be “the poor person with cancer”. Let her preferences guide you – I don’t let my husband come with me to oncology appointments because the one or two times he went he was fairly useless and I could tell he was uncomfortable, which came out as agitation, making the whole situation worse and I couldn’t concentrate. Radiotherapy yeah, I had him come the first few times partly because I was scared and felt overwhelmed. To some people that may seem unsupportive but he is supportive in other ways that works for us both.

      Oh – and one very last thing, don’t be afraid to take the extra time to get a second opinion if it seems warranted. Breast cancer isn’t necessarily a medical emergency and, unless its highly aggressive inflammatory BC (which is relatively rare), another week or two won’t matter to get set up with a team she is comfortable with.

    9. BreastSolidarity*

      I learned about breastcancer.org from people here, and it has been very helpful. Also second recommendation above about social worker. Also, the cancer center should have a breast cancer nurse navigator to help you both through.

      And, yes, please do share your stress with someone other than your spouse!

      CaringBridge is another place where (with her permission, of course) you can ask for whatever help you might need. You can set your privacy settings as tight as you want and invite friends and family to the site. If you keep it updated as much as you both feel comfortable, it can help with not having to go over the same stuff over and over and over with different people.

  42. Dental Drama*

    So I just noticed in the mirror yesterday that my two front teeth are rather discolored where they meet. I figure I’d better get to the dentist and get this looked at (please no diagnoses). My issue is, I am severely phobic of the dentist.

    Pre-covid times I hadn’t been in a year or so, because every time I go I require lorazepam/ativan to be calm enough to make it through the visit – even for cleanings. I freak out in the waiting room, before I’ve even got in the chair. My dentist had been fine, but then I showed up for an appointment and got someone else – I was told my dentist left for another practice, so they’d moved me to another practitioner and it threw me that I hadn’t known beforehand. He then had a mixup with the pressure cuffs and took 30 min to get me hooked up so he could start…so I was a mess and didn’t go back since.

    Now it looks like I REALLY need to go, and I can’t bring myself to go back to that guy. So I need a new dentist. What should I ask when I’m calling around, given my phobias and issues? Has anyone had sedation? How expensive was it? Did it help? I’ll take any advice – I need to find a dentist I can trust, who will be able to work with my issues. (I have good insurance but not sure it covers sedation, and I will be up-front about my issues while looking.)

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I realized that the thing I dreaded was the novacaine, and convinced my dentist to work without it. He did have to plan to work slower, and I had to agree to tell him before I started squirming. And it was fine.
      I’ve seen practices that advertise “we cater to cowards” so that’s also a way to start.
      Good luck!

      1. Dental Drama*

        I’ve examined my fears for years, and it’s not the needles I object to, or the freezing feeling; it’s not even the sound of a drill or other tool. It’s more a horror of being there in general, and I think it stems from a lot of judgement by my childhood dentist, coupled with a LOT of dental work, then compounded by several poor procedures in my 20s (one example, a crown that fell out Five Times in one year before eventually being replaced by a dental implant).

        I take your point about advertising though, it’s a good idea/reminder to check out a number of websites to see what they have to say about working with cowards like me!

      2. Dancing Otter*

        I discovered the wonders of nitrous instead of Novocain years ago. When I had to find a new dentist, that was the first question I asked. My new dental practice even offers it for cleanings, though my pain threshold isn’t THAT low, nor my gums that tender. I don’t believe it’s technically sedation, since I’m still awake, just buzzed.

        Also, whatever is going on with your front teeth probably isn’t as bad as your worst-case fears. And the dentist won’t do anything major on a first visit; they don’t schedule that much time, frankly. You’ll just get an exam and talk about a treatment plan, then schedule a follow up visit if work needs to be done.

        Good luck!

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      If you liked your previous dentist, can you figure out which practice she left for and follow her there? People follow hairdressers from salon to salon, why not dentists?

      If that isn’t an option, I’ve seen dental practices advertising that they specialize in phobic patients, so one of those sounds like a good option. I found some near me by googling [city name]+dentist+phobia. Including one selling himself as, “Dr. So&so- the Gentle Dentist of [City]”, which amuses me a lot.

      1. Dental Drama*

        Unfortunately she’s 3 hours down the road in another city! But thank you to you and Seeking Second Childhood for the reminders about what to google, and how to search. I’m so wound up about this I’m not even thinking right! Definitely I need to include phobia as part of the search phrasing.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          I was thinking it would be worth a bit of a drive to go to someone you trust, but 3 hours one way is a bit too much!

          There are dentists out there who make their living by helping people exactly like you have as comfortable a dentistry experience as possible. It’s something they do all they time. Their staff should also know what your insurance will cover.

    3. self employed*

      I think asking about the dentist’s experience with phobias is important when calling around— if they blow you off, you don’t want to go there. I would be super clear with everyone about needing extra help— otherwise they won’t treat you as gently as possible.

      Have you ever had nitrous during a cleaning or procedure? It’s very nice and only about $30, and wears off quickly so you can drive home. Helps you feel all loopy so you can’t stress, or at least that’s been my experience.

    4. My Brain Is Exploding*

      You could try a children’s dentist! Or see if you can find a dentist that still uses gas. I had one when I was in high school and it worked well.

    5. Stephanie*

      Definitely ask when you call! Dental phobia isn’t uncommon, so bring it up upfront. If they brush it off, I would look for someone else.

    6. Courageous cat*

      I googled “anxiety dentist” when I was dealing with the worst of it. Now, I don’t even need klonopin, just nitrous.

    7. All the cats 4 me*

      I understand what you are saying, I had an unpleasant reaction to my dentist at one point and needed assistance.

      Definitely call the practice when they are likely to have some time to talk (ie not a lunchtime), and explain your situation. Ask what they can suggest to make you more comfortable. If they seem sympathetic, in your place I would even go so far as to ask for the dentist to call me so I could speak to dds directly and get a feel for how our personalities mesh, as you will be engaging a new dentist.

      Throwing out some brainstorming ideas:
      – would it make you more comfortable if dds explained as it went along what was going to happen next, so that you aren’t surprised or startled? Ie. now I am going to probe a little bit in the front to see what is there, this shouldn’t hurt or bother you. If it does I will stop immediately. OK, I can see the problem is x. This can be addressed by doing x or y. Here are the pros cons of each. Etc.
      – taking mini breaks between steps in the exam, ie dds stops and says OK. We are finished step A. Lets take a breath or two. How are you feeling now? Are you ok to hear about what is going to happen in step B? Discuss step B, then start with your permission.
      – if listening to music or something would help calm you, discuss wearing headphones during the appointment with dds
      – would it help to have something to do with your hands during the procedure? I often find myself clutching the chair arms for dear life even when I am not scared! Fidget spinner, or comforting soft scarf you can slide from end to end between one hand to the other? Someone holding your hand?
      – do you feel cold or uneasy in the chair? Bring a blanket, or comforting item, or arrange to sit up and even get out of the chair to stretch, or walk around a bit between steps.

      I hope it goes well!

      1. Pippa K*

        Seconding these ideas! I sympathise with your situation – I avoided dentistry for years due to phobia. Then I *had* to go for an acute problem and luckily found the kindest dentist and hygienist. They were the ones, not me, who worked out what would help me most, because I wasn’t the first terrified patient they’d seen. My hygienist puts a numbing gel on my gums before she even starts cleaning, and the reduced pain has made me less afraid of pain, funnily enough. They also check in with me throughout procedures to ask if I want a break. My hygienist once said “it’s okay if you want to cry. No one can hear you.” Then she realised how that sounded and added darkly, “Mwahahaha!” So I feel like she really gets me. :-)

        The best thing my dentist said on my first visit was “you’re done with the hard part. All you had to do was come sit in the chair. We’ll do everything else.” Which, I tell you, was *radically* effective in giving me a new approach to my own stress.

        1. pancakes*

          I have been avoiding it for years, too, so this is good to read. I feel particularly silly about it because I’ve had several surgeries in recent years for non-tooth related reasons and I’m pretty calm about those, but being conscious & having someone poking around my teeth with tools terrifies me! And always has.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you do have a driver available who can take you to and from and keep an eye on you for a few hours afterwards, I have massive dental phobia and found a dentist/oral surgeon who does work while I’m on triazolam. It’s a benzo, so not only is it calming, but it also induces a sort of amnesiac state and you don’t remember anything that happened in the space of a couple hours. (I’m told that I’m very cooperative, though the last time my housemates had to insist that no, I should go sit down and they would feed the dogs, and I apparently worked on a piece for the blanket made of hexagons I was crocheting at the time — when I looked at it the next morning, I didn’t remember crocheting it at all, but it was an absolutely perfect-to-pattern hexagon, except that it only had five sides. Oops.) But even without insurance a two-pill dose is like … $10. I’ve had major dental surgery done using no nitrous, no IV sedation, just the triazolam, a couple of times now and it’s been very successful for me. But you definitely have to have a keeper for most of the day. (And make sure they take your phone away so you don’t text post-surgery pictures to your boss. :P )

    9. TPS reporter*

      I had some discoloration and was treated by the dentist with a microabrasion technique. No pain meds were needed and it was super fast and easy

      You could also ask your PCP for a small prescription of Ativan or valium. I got something like that for my airplane anxiety and it really helps. It doesn’t make you loopy or anything but you might not want to drive in it.

    10. Tea and Sympathy*

      I have a phobia of dentists, too, and it sounds like for the same reasons – a child unfriendly dentist when I was young, and a couple of dentist screwups as an adult. This is what works for me.
      1) Valium. After I took it the first time for a dental appointment I decided that I would never go to the dentist again without taking it.
      2) Be very upfront about your phobia, and mention it to the receptionist/assistant each time. This usually results in the assistant being very calming which helps.
      3) At first my current dentist assumed my phobia would include the drill (it doesn’t), and I didn’t want to tell him that I fear dental incompetence. But reassuring me about drill noises didn’t help either. I finally told him that I’m afraid of what he’ll find – that I’ll need 6 root canals and 3 bridges. So now as soon as he looks in my mouth he says that he doesn’t see anything that looks like it will be a big problem. Or if there is a problem he reassures me immediately that it’s manageable. This helps a lot.
      4) My nonjudgmental sister makes my appointments for me, because if left to my own devices I just wouldn’t go until there was an emergency. I consciously refuse to feel bad about myself for asking my sister to make my appointments because I remind myself that I am competent in all/most other areas of my life and am able to make any and all other appointments by myself.
      5) These helped me so much that I’m now able to go for a yearly cleaning and checkup. The hygienist prepares me for the dentist by telling me that everything looks fine and stressing how healthy my gums look, which is apparently the most important thing.

    11. Bibliovore*

      horrid dental phobia. I hadn’t gone to the dentist in 10 years and had almost weekly dental work in my twenties for a six month period. AND I had a very similar experience with a “sub.”
      The dentist who helped me advertised that they were there for anxious patients.
      My first appointment I actually just sat in the chair and he did nothing.
      Also- novacaine doesn’t really work for me. It dissipates rapidly. He did some research on my genetic condition and it turns out that is normal for people like me. He does a different kind of procedure.
      Yes, valium or something like it. I was afraid of addiction but he proscribes 2 pills. One for the night before, one for an hour before the appointment.
      Valium actually doesn’t seem to do anything but make it okay for me to show up. (also IBS symptoms are allayed)
      AND no shaming.

  43. Dottie*

    Hair dye/cutting adventures anyone? I’ve always dyed my own hair jet black, and I used to see my stylist once a month pre-pandemic times. This year I let my hair grow, only trimming it slightly myself, and my roots have grown out about 5 inches. My hair is naturally close to black and I’m looking to lift it to a chocolate brown. I’m assuming I’ll have to bleach it first before dyeing it… but man I’m nervous but antsy to get it done. I’m tempted to try myself but scared it’ll look awful!

      1. mreasy*

        As a person who has attempted to lighten my own hair and ended up with exactly that, I agree! I’ve done a ton of color on my own that has been fine, but lightening really needs a pro.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I’ve colored my own hair successfully for 20 years and consider myself semi-pro at it…and I’d never lighten my own hair! Especially starting with hair that’s very dark. Really hard to do well.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I have dark blonde/light brown hair, and I did my own highlights for years, with plenty of mishaps along the way.

      1) Do not attempt to lift/lighten hair that was previously dyed black. I would not let anyone do that chemistry experiment on my head, except a color expert with truly stellar word of mouth recommendations, preferably from people with the same color/texture hair as me.

      2) The first time you lighten at home, make sure you’re mentally prepared to get a buzz cut if it goes wrong. If so, fine – go for it, it’s only hair, it will grow back. If not, stick to color depositing shades only.

      3) Figure out your hair’s natural level. If your desired shade is 1-2 levels lighter, you can probably get a decent result at home. Over 2 shades, and you’ll be dealing with undertones, correction, and multi-step processes. The more harsh you have to get, the more likely you are to wind up with chemical burns or melted/broken hair.

      4) Use a timer and don’t overprocess. Bleach can damage your scalp in a way color doesn’t.

    2. ThatGirl*

      My hair has been reddish blonde for years. In September, on a whim, I dyed my hair dark indigo blue. It looked great for awhile, though very dramatic. I decided not to keep it, but I don’t have a lot of experience with dark unnatural colors…so redoing it red did not work. I have reddish roots and weird grayish hair. It looks strange and I’m probably gonna have to live with it for a little while. Thankfully my hair is fairly short. But yeah, I didn’t have a great exit strategy :P

  44. My Brain Is Exploding*

    You could try a children’s dentist! Or see if you can find a dentist that still uses gas. I had one when I was in high school and it worked well.

  45. CTT*

    What are some movies you’ve enjoyed recently?

    I watched “Senna” last weekend, the documentary about the Formula One racer; the amount I know about racing could fill a teaspoon, but I found it fascinating. I love the way Asif Kapadia structures his documentaries, with no talking heads or “secondary sources” – just entirely footage of the subjects. I had already seen his Amy Winehouse and Diego Maradona documentaries, so it was nice to round out the trilogy. Tonight I think I’m going to watch “On The Rocks”; I adore Sofia Coppola, and am looking forward to an excuse to make a martini (since they featured prominently in the trailer).

    1. All the cats 4 me*

      I watched “Good” with Viggo Mortensen this week, about a professor on pre-war Germany. I found it thought provoking and am glad I watched it. I think it was on Amazon Prime, but not 100% sure.

    2. CJM*

      My favorite movies are quiet character studies. In that vein, I enjoyed “Wild Prairie Rose” on Amazon Prime last weekend, and I *really* enjoyed “Catch the Wind” (in French with subtitles) there earlier this year.

    3. curly sue*

      I’ve been moderately obsessed with the Charlize Theron movie ‘The Old Guard’ since it came out this summer. I’ve never seen an action movie like this one before, and the subtle character work between the set pieces blew my mind. There is some gore, however – I’d consider it about par for the course for the genre, with one particularly gooey wound prosthetic.

      1. curly sue*

        Forgot to mention that it’s a Netflix film, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball, Secret Life of Bees). I’m a huge fan of hers.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I saw The Social Dilemma, and it scared the begeezus out of me. I can’t delete all my accounts because I use them for work. But I have cut my usage by about 80%, and installed Duck Duck Go instead of Google search.

      We watched Enola Holmes as a family last week, and it was great fun! Likeable characters, great pacing and a good plot twist at the end.

      Last night’s family movie was Farmageddon (the sequel to Sean the Sheep). Hilarious and quite clever.