weekend open thread – October 31-November 1, 2020

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Smart One, by Jennifer Close. A tale of two sisters who both find themselves living back at home, their lives not working out as they’d planned.

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

{ 952 comments… read them below }

  1. Ms Job Search*

    What’s everyone doing this weekend? Personally, my theatre is putting on a production of Evil Dead (socially distanced, legal in my area) and I’ve managed to score a volunteer spot. Let the zombie musical begin!

    1. Pamela Adams*

      Eating pizza and watching Nightmare Before Christmas. The dogs are still upset from the post-Dodgers fireworks, so hopefully, no one will decide to light Halloween fireworks.

    2. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      Halloween is a high holiday for some of my friends. Obviously we can’t hang IRL due to restrictions, but we are dressing up at home, and watching two movies together via tech. It’s something!

    3. Zandt*

      I’m attending the online Ubud Writers and Readers festival! I’ve always wanted to go, but couldn’t afford the trip to Bali, so when I heard that they moved the festival online this year I immediately signed up.

      1. Zandt*

        Hit submit too soon. They made it donation based for this year, although there are several optional events with separate price. For the donation, which is on the affordable range, I get access to most of the programs, plus the recordings are available for a month so I can watch them when convenient.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This may be a year without a Halloween. We got 3 inches of wet snow yesterday, which makes it easy to ssy no to my daughter’s idea to set up the pop-up tent in my father in law’s front yard to “yeet the treats”. (Our old neighborhood — Halloween was a big deal. It’s not in the new area.)
      I was already concerned about bathroom logistics & having to ensure distance from old neighbors who FIL says have been having parties — and now add snow? It’s a big no.
      We’ll probably watch something ghostly from Studio Ghibli and pout. :(

    5. Lena Clare*

      My back yard was repaved this week, and supposed to be finished yesterday, but due to the storm the pointing has been postponed. Anyway, I plan to start painting the walls and do something out there in the full moon for Halloween. Probably something crystally and meditative.

      Other than that…I just finished watching The Alienist and I’m sad that it’s over, so I’m planning on reading something really lightweight – Deal With The Demon by Chace Verify. Protagonist summons a demon through a QR code and he comes into her life and does all her chores for her ♡

      And prep for a school essay, boo.

      My mum’s birthday is on Monday, so gotta sort that out too at some point.

    6. Everdene*

      Me and Oak are going to a drive in Cabaret and Burlesque show. Technically we shouldn’t be because it is in a different health board area BUT both hralth boards are in the same restriction levels and we don’t get out the car. It could be wonderful or terrible, I am excited to find out.

      1. Zephy*

        That sounds dope! I went to a burlesque show a few years ago that was Lord of the Rings-themed, it was amazing. The performers were talented, their costumes were gorgeous, and the song choices were on-point. The same troupe came back through town and did a Star Wars themed show a while later that I’m still sad I didn’t get to see.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We watched Bette Midler’s Hocus Pocus Hulaween special last night (it was weird? I’m not sure what I was expecting, but that wasn’t it, though it was at least mostly entertaining) and have been watching various Halloween favorites all week, and I think my housemate is planning a marathon of the classic Universal monster movies today, so I’ll probably sit on the couch and crochet through most of that, assuming he does them in the main living room instead of downstairs in his room.

      Otherwise, it’s Halloween, a full moon, a blue moon, daylight savings time shift (UGH) and the last weekend pre-election, so I won’t be setting foot outside my house all weekend :P

    8. Slinky*

      We’re staying cozy and safe at home. I’m making a nice dinner (pizza cooked in a cast-iron skillet and an apple cake), watching Halloween-y movies and listening to spooky music at home with my spouse. I’ve got a fun lamp that projects swirling ghosts onto the wall, which I’ll fire up when the sun goes down.

    9. Database Developer Dude*

      I’m working on some Masonic stuff (I’m Secretary of my Lodge, and it’s dues season) before taekwondo class (socially distanced with masks), then this afternoon I’m going to pick up a water cooler I bought, and then have a long talk with a friend on the phone who kind of needs to talk…so I’m happy to be there for her.

      Tomorrow’s going to be a very chill day, not doing much of anything except enjoying the extra hour of sleep.

    10. Ali G*

      For Halloween: we don’t normally do anything so it’s not too different for us. We will put out tables with candy later for the kids. This seems to be the acceptable participation for trick or treating in my neighborhood.
      Otherwise, still working on my bathroom project. First coat of base color on the floor (am going to stencil a pattern). Also need to finish cleaning up the yard and gardens for winter. :(

    11. Holly the spa pro*

      My husband is smoking ribs and we will have a fire out back and pretend to not be home as people coming to the door really riles up my doggo.

    12. CTT*

      On a pandemic-influenced whim, I bought the Fleabag jumpsuit, so I will be spending probably way too much time tonight constructing a Halloween photo shoot around that (when you don’t have an Instagram husband, making a tripod out of books and the timer feature on my camera will have to make do).

      I also have to put together a lamp, and I’m staring at where I thought it would go and now I’m realizing it will compete with some metal shelves that I bought years ago and don’t go with anything anymore (and also may not be structurally sound because I’m noticing a tilt to them…) so I guess I will also be shopping for a new bookcase!

    13. Queer Earthling*

      I’m dressing as a robot and hanging around at home. We don’t get trick-or-treaters in normal years (our apartment is in a weird spot), so it’s not any different than usual, really. I just like costumes.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Same (on your last point). Admittedly, I haven’t dressed up for Halloween in years even though it’s my favorite holiday (life stuff always got in the way, and I don’t trick-or-treat or go to parties anymore, so there’s that). But my six-year-old niece decided to be a mad scientist this year, and her teacher hosted a virtual Halloween party for her class yesterday, and seeing this girl so excited to be dressed up reminded me of how I used to get excited and go all out for Halloween.

        Now, since yesterday was too late to really buy a costume (I don’t go outside for anything – I get everything mailed or delivered to my door), I decided to do a low-key costume based on a skirt I already owned. It’s a skirt from ModCloth that has cats all over it in newspaper articles, so I decided to be the cat lady this year. Tried to buy a cheap pair of cat ears from Kroger via Instacart yesterday, but they were sold out, so I had to use my hair to make the ears. I also realized I had no black makeup whatsoever, so I had my shopper get black liquid eyeliner from the store to draw my nose and whiskers.

        I’m dressed and made up today, and had a virtual hangout with my mom and niece today, who LOVED my costume and bemoaned the fact that her parents won’t let her wear makeup because now she wants to be a cat, lol. I’ve also been watching horror movies all day while bingeing on various chocolates – this will continue until I pass out from my sugar coma in the wee hours of tomorrow morning.

        I am determined to have at least one fun, happy day in this really crappy year.

        1. Queer Earthling*

          Your outfit sounds great, and I love that it was so low-budget! The only thing I bought for mine were some deely-boppers for antennae. I wound up more Martian than robot, but it was fun anyway. Spouse was a vampire. We did nothing in our costumes except take some pictures and eat candy, and enjoyed every moment.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Thanks! I’m trying not to spend money on things that aren’t groceries and essentials this year (I’m building up my savings account in the event that my company’s revenue takes a downturn and I lose my job within the next six months), so I just figured I’d find something I already owned and hadn’t worn this year, then build my costume around that. The eyeliner was about $3, and I looked very cute according to my niece (who would totally tell me if it was a mess, lol), so I thought it was a success (even if my brother laughed and said I was too old for this, lol).

            Your costume sounds great, too. And darn, I could have been a vampire this year, too! I don’t know why I didn’t think of that with all the black lacey stuff I have in my closets, lol.

    14. Frankie Bergstein*

      You all have wonderfully interesting plans! You’re inspiring me, particularly the burlesque show :) I’m just catching up with friends via phone/Zoom, taking long walks, eating good takeout leftovers, watching “Dead to Me”, snuggling the pets, and doing house projects. I think I’ll switch it up based on you all!

    15. Generic Name*

      My son is having a small gathering at his dad’s apartment. I’m not thrilled about it, as cases are skyrocketing in our area, but I don’t really have a say. I’m encouraging my son to wear his mask. At my house, we plan to make a makeshift table and put it at the end of the driveway and set out bags of candy. No idea how many kids will participate, but at least the weather will be nice.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      Last night, I watched a fundraising special for Michigan Dems, a live table read of the 1985 Fright Night script with the original cast. Tom Holland, the film’s writer/director, was also present. Since Roddy McDowall is no longer with us, Mark Hamill read the part of Peter Vincent (and he was as awesome as you’d expect). They had props and everything; it was hilarious. Fright Night is my favorite ’80s movie (John Carpenter’s The Thing is my favorite horror film), and I’ve seen it close to 100 times so I know almost all the lines, haha. Chris Sarandon is 78 and still sexy AF!

      I’ve noticed quite a few of these reunions; they make good fundraisers, plus I guess it gives the actors something to do, since a lot of them aren’t able to work right now. There was a Spinal Tap one not too long ago and I watched that also. So fun!

      Today and tomorrow I’ll study for a course and work on some worldbuilding. And go to the store today, so I don’t have to go out at all on or around Tuesday in case things get crazy.

    17. The Other Dawn*

      Taking care of my kitty who just had surgery on his jaw. He’s doing really well. He has a feeding tube in the side of his neck so to allow the jaw some healing time, so I’m spending the weekend making sure he gets his various meds and gets fed four times a day. I thought it would be difficult to deal with the tube, but it’s pretty easy. And it makes it very easy to make sure he gets all the meds–no having to make sure he eats every bit of food in the dish because it all goes into the tube.

    18. TR*

      Halloween treasure hunt dressed as Bunnicula (the kid), Chester the cat (me), and Harold the dog (husband).

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        That’s cute. I suggested my brother and sister-in-law do the same for my nieces, but the oldest is having a sleepover at nana’s tonight (and her parents waited nearly four hours to vote today), so that won’t happen.

    19. Summersun*

      11/01 is our silver anniversary, so we ignored trick-or-treat and are celebrating our relationship, like we do every year! Normally we would take a weekend trip, but we might take a Sunday drive to do some leaf peeping.

    20. Arya Parya*

      We played a Halloween themed music quiz online. It was hosted on Facebook live and we got our team together over Whatsapp. Not the same as actually attending a quiz, but still fun.

      Tomorrow we’ll be relaxing and watching Formula 1.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        1st November is a public holiday here, and normally the bars and clubs have a late night opening for Halloween, but that’s all been cancelled.

        Normally I have a concert for All Soul’s, but it has been postponed to next November. Since we were going to sing Mozart’s Requiem, I am watching it on YouTube instead.

    21. RagingADHD*

      The kids put on their masks & did a distanced TRT with friends. We made a chute out of PVC pipe, decorated the front porch, and I did “Trick or Yeet” to the kids at the bottom of the steps.

  2. Jaid*


    I enjoy looking at this website on Halloween and I thought you guys might get a kick out of it too. Mr. Clark took photos of a cemetery over the course of a year and posted them online with adjustments to the images so some elements move when you hover over them with your mouse.

    There’s only a couple of images of cemetery angel eyes unexpectedly opening in the Fall photos so it’s more melancholy than scary.


  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this thread is not limited to fiction writing.
    NaNoWriMo is starting soon, so good luck to all the people who intend to participate!

    1. river*

      My second draft is going really well so far. I have only discovered a couple of minor continuity errors due to changes I’ve made, and they were easily fixed. My lockdown-destroyed motivation is returning, and I’m super stoked to continue … long may it last!

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’m starting NaNoWriMo tomorrow – writing the sequel to my murder mystery set in Roman Britain. I wrote the first one years ago when I was backpacking, then picked it up again to revise/edit whilst I was on furlough earlier this year and fell back in love with my characters, so I want to give them another shot! Plus if the UK goes back into lockdown it’ll give me something to do :) I’ve got it mapped out and am very excited to see where it goes.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Why do I feel sheepish to talk about writing poetry?
      In my livejournal days I was in a group who did a tanka challenge for April and November — the US *and* UK national poetry months. I stopped when it began feeling an obligation not a joy. Weirdly , something has me thinking in images again, is it despite of or because of the never ending deadlines at work and the horrible year in general?
      We shall see.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I decided not to do NaNoWriMo this year, since I’m actually in that thing-we-do-not-name-on-weekends training and I need to concentrate on that. Instead, I think I’ll do it in January and call it JaNoWriMo, lol.

      Otherwise, still worldbuilding while my current manuscript is with the editor. I’m being forced to think about things that won’t be in the book, but it will be nice to have them cemented in my brain when I’m working on it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I hate to disappoint you, but I didn’t get a new job!
        This is separate training to help me get a job. I should have said a class, not training. I’m sorry for the mix-up.

    5. Melonhead*

      Thanks for this reminder! I signed up with NaNoWriMo for the first time, and am looking forward to this new project.

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      Thanks so much for this regular thread. It’s been helping motivate me to be creative with my blog!

    7. Teapot Librarian*

      No job, so I briefly considered NaNoWriMo, but I learned from my writing courses in college that I’m terrible at constructing narratives…so now thinking it’s a great time to work on a research project I’ve been contemplating over the past few years. I’m totally in awe of everyone who does NaNoWriMo!

    8. Forensic13*

      Hello to fellow NaNo people! This will be my. . . 12th year doing it. I wasn’t going to try, because I just had a baby a month ago, but I feel like I’m becoming brain-dead from not doing anything other than taking care of her, so I decided to see how it goes.
      I’m working on adding onto the mystery/horror thing I wrote last year and haven’t worked on nearly enough on since!

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual, this thread is not limited to video games, any game can be discussed here.
    Still on the Sherlock Holmes games, I’m hoping to get Awakened done this week or next week at the latest.

    1. Susan Calvin*

      Slowly but surely making my way through Final Fantasy VIII Remastered – since my dad was a PC gamer but didn’t “believe in” consoles, I missed it entirely the first time around, but Spouse and BFF are both huge FF nerds so I’m trying to catch up :)

    2. Hello Sweetie!*

      My husband bought Diablo 3 for the Switch. We both played Diablo 2 back in the day so it’s fun! There was some annoyance initially when trying to set it up so we could both play together. But it feels very appropriate for the season, all gloomy.

    3. Elsie S. Duble-Yoo*

      My husband just got me into Ghost of Tsushima’s new multiplayer mode. The game isn’t really something I would normally play, but the visuals are gorgeous and I enjoy games where he and I can play together so I’m giving it a chance.

    4. Xenia*

      My younger brother got me into Minecraft back in March. Now it’s a family-wide thing. Just creating things is very relaxing.

    5. Candy Corn*

      I posted this below and someone suggested I add it to the gaming thread – sorry if it’s not the right place!

      Happy Halloween! This is kind of a long shot and will probably be too vague to make sense, but I figured I’d try anyway. There’s this game I distinctly remember playing as a kid in the early 2000s (on a Windows 98 PC, if that helps). It was a racing game (laps around a farm/country-ish place?), but the players were all tiny animals on wheels. The art was kind of pixelated I think? I feel like it was a one-word name but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. Any guesses are appreciated, and if you’ve made it this far despite the probably useless game description, thank you for reading!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        No problem! This definitely fits in here.
        Wacky Wheels, maybe? It’s actually a DOS game but maybe it was also available on Windows 98?

    6. Casey*

      Last night I played through all four of the old Cartoon Network Summer Resort flash games (it involved finding a third-party backup, since they’re no longer hosted by CN, and installing a browser capable of running Flash and Shockwave). Oh man, I love those games so much. I dislike basically anything that requires me to have hand-eye coordination, and errand-style games are so satsifying. Plus I kind of hate 3-D graphics and I have a much better spacial understanding when it’s an overworld or sometime isometric view.

      I also really like Her Interactive’s Nancy Drew games, although I know the quality is kind of hit or miss in people’s eyes. I like everything I’ve played so far, including the Secret Medallion or whatever it’s called.

      1. Beancat*

        Omg the summer resort games were so much fun! Maybe I can find where they’re hosted now :) and the Nancy Drew games are so fun! My favorite was Shadow at the Water’s Edge. It actually taught me a little bit about ryokans and after doing some research of my own we stayed in one when my dad and I went to Japan!

    7. Gatomon*

      I had to travel for work this week, so I took my Switch and worked on Luigi’s Mansion 3. I think I’m halfway through, but I just discovered that I can spend coins to have gem locations and Boos marked on the map, so I’m going back through some spaces I missed.

      I also downloaded Good Pizza, Great Pizza on my iPad for the trip, which was really soothing when my anxiety about everything was getting overwhelming. It’s just a pizza-making game, pretty simple, but I really love pizza.

      Now that I’m back home, I need to pick up Ghost of Tsushima again.

    8. Jackie*

      I bought a new gaming PC two weeks ago and I loaded up Dragon Age: Inquisition and have accidentally played 40 hours in two weeks, oops. ^^;


    9. Beancat*

      I did the Animal Crossing Halloween fun, and I picked Paper Mario and the Origami King back up :) I think we’re approaching endgame there!

    10. Almost Academic*

      I have been dying over and over and over again playing Hades. Such a good game! I’m really enjoying all of the art. As someone who loved the Greek myths as a kid and took one year of classics / humanities in college it is really fun to see how the designers chose to personify different gods and bring storylines together.

  5. Jessie*

    Have you ever done something awful and you are just sitting waiting for the consequences of your actions? Waiting is terrible in these situations. My brother and I have a very tempestuous relationship and we got into a terrible fight last Thursday. It was the day of my son’s birthday. And things escalated like crazy. Things that should not have been said were said. My father did not witness any of this, since he was at work and most of the fight took place via text.
    A few minutes before my son’s birthday was due to start, my mom took my dad aside and explained to him that my brother is not coming because we had a huge fight. She told him to avoid any awkward fights in front of the other guests. The rest of the nights, he had his “rage face,” on. Seriously, you could literally see fumes coming out of his head. He’s furious. I can’t even read the situation. I’m not sure if he’s angry with both of us, or with me or with my brother. I have a feeling this time it’s me.
    My dad is a really difficult person and you don’t want to be on his bad side believe me. I’m thinking of calling him, but I’m scared. My mom advised me to call and shut my mouth if he opens this subject. I told her, I can’t do that, I need to defend myself. But she’s right, it’s better to take it and shut up, if I want it to pass. Any advice?

    1. Lena Clare*

      Honestly? Therapy was made for this. If you can afford it, get it.

      Short term, what do you need? Concentrate on that. I think it’ll help you with how to make a choice in what to say, when to say it, how to say it. Telling people what we need from them is a powerful magical spell that we too often ignore.

      But it sounds to me like this is a long- standing way of communication in your family, so it isn’t going to change, unless you do something different. Even then, you only have responsibility for yourself, not for how anyone else reacts.

    2. Bagpuss*

      It’s tricky, and I think it’s dependent on what the quarrel with your brother was about and how it involves your dad.
      Why is he angry?
      Is it an option to tell him that it’s between you and your brother and that you prefer to work it out between yourselves rather than involving him? In other words, don’t bring up the subject and if he does so, change the subject rather than rehashing the argument or defending yourself.
      Or that your brother’s decision not to attend was up to him, not you?
      It is hard to get out of old habits of behaviour but if you are an adult and don’t live with your dad, you do have more choices about how much you want to do to manage his feelings.


      1. Jessie*

        We are Middle Eastern, so parents are involved in everything, if you are 70 years old. My dad also runs the family business and holds all the finances regarding the family, so he gets a say in everything. He can’t be happy that his two 40 something kids are fighting like five year olds. I thought about texting him, but I’m out of words. I don’t know what to say even. It’s complicated and issues go way way back.

        1. families!*

          The thing is that by being involved in everything you and your brother ARE still 5 year old, this is the dynamic they set up probably when you were infants. Adults don’t need parents to referee their disagreements or even have an opinion; you are more worried about your father’s reaction than dealing with the issue at hand, which is your disagreement with your brother; this is major triangulation; its’ a family dynamic. My parents are/were the same way so I really feel for you. What worked for me was to go to therapy and learn how to set boundaries and live my life. I used to have this kind of drama every time I talked with a family member but I don’t anymore and it is amazing. Good luck.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Hard agree here. Both you and your brother are acting within the perimeters of the boxes you guys are kept in.
            Two 40 somethings who cannot find peace with each other.
            A father who controls an entire group of people by making a rage face.
            An enabler mother who says, “Just let your father rant.” Sometimes words can hurt more than fists.

            Here’s the worst part. You think you should just take it. And you think perhaps you deserve it. Start some therapy to find out how people react to what is going on around them. If others have anger and use heavy handed punishment, then people, such as yourself, can become a person who is not their real self. I’d recommend doing what you have to do so you are not chained to them. Unhook yourself financially. If you are living with them, find a safer place to live. Forty years is enough of this. It’s not bringing out the best in anyone is your setting here.

            1. Artemesia*

              Agree but as a first step perhaps you and your brother can confront that you are being kept in this infantile state and that your interests might be served by working together — perhaps both get some therapy on this — even if you continue to be in this enmeshed nightmare, just being comfortable in yourselves, able to be friends and work together acknowledging the dynamic and learning to keep your own council and not let your parents be privy to your relationship or everything about your life would help.

        2. bunniferous*

          Yeah, the cultural differences make it hard for us with Western family norms to be very helpful. I’m sorry.

        3. Observer*

          I agree with what most of the others say. But also, get out of the family business. Your father might cut you out of his will, but no matter how much money he has to leave, it’s a small price to pay for your independence.

          1. Jim Bob*


            That’s easy to say from this side of the fence.

            Hate to say it, but if it’s enough to secure financial independence or early retirement, and dear old dad is already 70, the wisest course may be to put up with it.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If you are old enough to have a son, then your parents don’t need to be in the middle of your relationship with your sibling. If you think you owe your brother an apology, do that. Your dad and his emotions are his problem to deal with.

      1. Jessie*

        No, I don’t owe my brother an apology. We were both wrong. We are ME, parents get involved whether you like it or not.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Jessie, do you mean that you are expected to bear full burden for everything that went on here?

        1. Observer*

          Not true – you owe your brother an apology, and he owes you one.

          Make your apology, regardless of what your brother does, and then start planning your independence.

          Do you live in the ME? If not, being ME doesn’t mean you can’t become independent.

        2. Artemesia*

          As noted above — team up with your brother about how to keep more of your lives, individually and as siblings, to yourselves and out of your parents’ gaze. But we are in such a different culture – not sure how to help. Sounds like an utter nightmare.

    4. WS*

      Your goal here is for it to pass with minimal fuss? Then don’t defend yourself. Let other people have the reactions they’re having and nod politely and move on inside your head. I’m not ME but my partner and her family are, and I have found that keeping quiet and letting everything blow over is the easiest way for things to go back to normal.

      1. Artemesia*

        the most powerful tool in a fraught drama prone enmeshed family like this is indifference. Nothing deflates the drama queens by not caring.

    5. Lady Meyneth*

      It depends on what your goal is. If you want this to just blow over and go back to how it was, then you mom is right and you should be quiet and let your father vent. If you want to take a stand and not let him get involved, then you can act normally with him and when the subject comes up, tell him that it’s between you and your brother, and repeat it as needed.

      Either way you go, remember it’s your choice: you have the power and the right to choose, and nobody gets to take it away from you. I’m not middle eastern, but my culture is also very family-centered, so I know how judgemental people get (inside and outside your culture) if they think you chose wrong.

    6. sequined histories*

      My family is not from the Middle East, so I can’t fully understand the context of your situation. However, it does seem to me that you are doing a lot of the work here in terms of actively making yourself as miserable as possible. It seems like you’re afraid your father is going to punish you, so you’ve started punishing yourself for him before he can even get around to it.

      There are plenty of things your father might do or say to hurt you, and I’m not trying to minimize that. But: is he going to physically beat you? Is he going to ruin you financially so you can’t provide for your children?

      If really extreme consequences like that are off the table, I think you can reduce your own suffering by actively soothing yourself with things like prayer, or deep breathing, or exercising, or listening to music, or watching a comedy, or engaging in an activity you enjoy—cooking, sewing, gardening, computer programming—whatever YOU like and find soothing. If you regret getting into a childish argument with your brother, you can be prepared to say that, whether proactively or if challenged. You can even practice repeating that—along with, “I’m so sorry our argument upset you on my son’s birthday, Dad,” in a warm but calm voice.

      In short, I don’t think you have to sit there torturing yourself to show proper respect for your father. Your father has the power to make you feel like a terrified child just by stalking around with his “rage face,” but he doesn’t have the power to actually make you a defenseless child again. Even if he looms large, he probably has a lot less control over your day-to-day life than he did 20 years ago. Take advantage of that greater maneuvering room to take care of yourself, rather than punish yourself.

    7. Frankie Bergstein*

      I recommend finding a therapist who understands or is from your cultural context, if possible. I’m also from a similar cultural/ethnic group, and therapists who don’t understand the context can still help — but — in my experience, I had to spend a lot of time explaining the cultural context, and they sometimes ascribed things to “culture” or “acculturation” that weren’t really about that.

    8. Generic Name*

      Why is it your job to appease your dad? Why was he sooo pissed that it was visible to all? I mean, yeah it wasn’t great that you and your brother got in a big fight, it what is your dad’s stake in it? Based on your mom’s advice to you, it sounds like the whole family is used to walking on eggshells around your dad. Is it the women’s job to manage his emotions for him? This, of course, is all projecting my own experience onto what you’ve written, so I apologize if I’m off base. It just seems odd to me that you are tiptoeing around your dad when it’s your brother you had a fight with.

      What would happen if you didn’t appease your dad? Would it make things unsafe for you or your mom or any children? What is it that you are fearing? Will he yell and rage at you over the phone? You are allowed to tell him he may not treat you that way and end the conversation. Will he give you the silent treatment? What if you viewed his silence and distance as a gift where you get to have some space and peace?

      Your dad is an adult Who presumably can deal with his own feelings, right? But if you know it would place others in harms way, you know what’s best. I agree that this situation is ideal to unpack in therapy, if it’s available to you.

      I lived with a difficult man for 17 years, and I became an expert at reading his mind and appeasing him. It’s very difficult to unlearn habits that you developed to keep you and others safe. Hugs of you want them.

    9. Flabbernabbit*

      I don’t have family dynamics like this, but if I did, with my very clear boundary-setting type of personality, I would tell my raging father something like: “I get this affects you too, and I will listen But only if you can be calm. I’ve had enough of shouting to last a good while. The only way this can work is if we all can speak about this with respect. I have to learn to do the same. Brother needs to as well. I will not be shouted at. Until then, I will not listen when you are like this.” Then hang up, leave, whatever. Do not defend yourself. Your fight with your brother is indefensible, such that whatever good reason it started was utterly lost because of the way it was handled. Go to a therapist or find a way to learn to respect yourself and communicate better.

      I say this though from my armchair. And maybe it needs to be a more gradual learning first, boundary setting after, so the practical cost to you is less risky. But this dynamic will never improve. Dreading my father’s call over a juvenile sibling fight? Not good.

    10. Jessie*


      First of all thanks for all the advice here. I just want to say a few things.
      First, of all I go to therapy. Have been going for 23 years. It’s obviously not working or maybe I’m not focusing enough on my issues with communication. I have already discussed that with my therapist the last couple of times, but I feel he’s a bit in way over his head with me.
      Secondly, I owe no apology to my brother. He had coming believe me. It’s been years of meanness and treating me like I don’t exist and accusing me of things I’ve never done. A few years ago, he decided to join in my wedding planning, which was fine. I was not interested in wedding planning, so I let him and my parents do it. But my one request, was that I wanted a specific band to play. My brother didn’t like that, and we had a an argument and out of nowhere, he made fun of a friend of mine who died by possible suicide three months before. Who does that? And what does that have to do with the wedding? It’s issues like that all the time and that’s how things went on my son’s birthday. He called me a loser who can’t find two or three people to attend my son’s birthday. How hurtful is this? I admit I’m an introvert, but I have made some good birthday parties the last few years. I just decided to stay safe this year and keep it within the family. Big mistake.
      But the main undercurrent here is related to the family business, which I have been wanting to write about on the open work forum for a while. It’s giving me nightmares daily. I will write about it more in the work forum. But in a nutshell, my dad and aunt created a business empire through a lot of blood, sweat and tears. This business makes us live like kings and queens. My aunt has two sons and my dad has me and my brother. The expectation is that after we would finish university, we would take over the business. I told my dad that I wanted to be a journalist and left. As a female in the Middle East, the pressure was not on me. As for my brother and two cousins, well they don’t work. I don’t think in the last 20 years, my brother has done more than 5 hours of work a day. And he goes one day and disappears for 10. He once skipped a whole years. Recently, he to took six months off. And my dad is going crazy. He’s 65 and wants to retire but can’t, because there is no one there to take over. So, there is constant fighting with my brother. But my brother gets away with it. My mother’s side of the family coddle him, on account of the fact that he is the “golden boy,” and he tells people that my dad is difficult. My dad IS difficult. But this doesn’t explain why you don’t work for 20 years. And not just that, he spends like crazy. Buying cars, houses, going on vacations. He’s essentially a rich spoilt boy. Where do I come in all this? Well, I take my dad’s side and tell him he needs to work. He can’t spend money like that while hanging out in cafes all day. This is the Middle East for goodness sake. It’s a macho macho culture. How can it be ok for him to do nothing for 20 years? So, he rages at me for daring to say that and brings it up in every fight. And during the fight on my son’s birthday he brought it up. How dare you tell me that I am unemployed??? And on and on. So, of course all of this is related to my dad. That’s why my dad is involved. And now my dad wants me to go work with him instead or alongside my brother. I’m 40 and have never ran a business in my life. The business is also in another city and the commute is massive and I have two kids. One of them is not even two. But he keeps telling me that he’s tired and there’s no one else to do it. So, I’m trapped and stressed. It’s a nightmare. And it’s constantly brewing and a stupid birthday argument brought all this up.

      1. Anon4This*

        This sounds so incredibly difficult and I’m sorry you’re dealing with it (in the middle of a pandemic with two kids no less!).

        My husband cut off most of his family last year after a lot of therapy. It has been painful (it’s a lonely choice even though we have our own small family) but also liberating (no more guilt trips and emotional tap dancing and trying to read minds and solve unspoken problems).

        Two resources I can share from the multi-year experience of unpacking childhood traumas and crappy family patterns in adulthood:
        – Captain Awkward blog
        – The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner

        Estrangement is a last-resort kind of choice but I want to put it out there because Middle Eastern culture puts such an extraordinarily high emphasis on family first. In my family, that meant keeping a mentally ill and verbally abusive relative at home until she finally passed away instead of finding a proper care home for her needs. It’s hard to describe to other people. Like trying to describe how the sky is blue. Certain things feel like they have the law of physics behind them. Family comes first. Gravity is real. These are simply true statements that cannot be questioned.

        It sounds like all of your options are hard. In that scenario, there’s some comfort in knowing that you can *choose* your hard. You can choose to put up with your brother in order to preserve family harmony. You can choose to run the family business. You can choose to walk away from all or part of it. There is no one right choice. There’s what works for you and what matches your values.

        Wishing you luck and much support from friends and loved ones as you navigate the difficult seas ahead.

      2. Bobina*

        While I’m not from the Middle East, I am from a non-Western culture where I understand a bit more how your family dynamics can play out.

        But here’s the thing, at the end of the day, the only person you can control is you. I get that you might feel obligated to do certain things, and that there will be a lot more pressure to “do the right thing” that people here might not get – but even where you are, you have the right to say”No, actually, I dont want to do these things”. Things I would suggest:
        – I think you need to find a new/different therapist or spend some time focusing on this particular issue with the one you have.
        – Figure out what your end goal is. What do you want out of this? To be able to live your own life? To have a happy family dynamic?
        – Boundary setting. Everyone here has already said it, and I know you think its impossible in your culture – but its not. Its harder but not impossible. You will need to grow a thick skin though, and learn not to care about what others think/say about you. You will be the black sheep of the family, thats okay.
        – Understand things you can control, the things you cant – and learn to let stuff go. Things you cannot control: your brothers behaviour, your mothers behaviour etc. Things you can control: being involved in the family business (ie you dont want to do it), choosing to engage in discussions you dont want to.

        Having said all that, if it were me – I would focus on ignoring the brother completely, and instead working with your Dad to focus on the actual issue of who will take over the business. Be clear that its not going to be you, but a compromise I would make would be helping him come up with a succession plan. Will it be a cousin? An existing employee? Is it essential it stays in the family – or would he be fine selling it to someone else? I realise there is probably a lot of ~legacy tied to it, but your Dad seems like the most pragmatic person in this situation, so thats who I would spend my time and energy on to try and get to a solution that works for you.

        Also, I hate hate hate family dynamics where one parent is essentially playing you against the other/constantly intervening in things that arent their business. In all this, your mother is displaying some very…not great behaviour. Even though my situation was different, my advice here is learn to talk to each parent on their own. Games of telephone where messages are getting relayed through various people are not ideal. Again, I know this can be part of the cultural differences, but my top tip here is start talking to your Dad yourself.

      3. families!*

        To me, it’s not an issue of better communication, it’s about having a therapist who can see this whole family dynamic, which is incredibly similar to my own. It’s called enmeshment if that can help with the therapy. I left but my sister has not ever worked in the family business or anywhere else, and she is similarly spoiled. I used to spend many hours on the phone dealing with each of them in the same kinds of discussions you mention (word for word).

        Just because your family is unable to stop spoiling your brother, doesn’t mean you need to pick up the slack. This fighting you have with your brother is in fact you standing in for your father and again, triangulation, this is a fight between your father and your brother. I totally understand your father being disappointed in your brother – but this is something he needs to deal with his son, and his inability to set boundaries is not your problem. Your brother is an adult and gets to make whatever choices he wants to, even if you or your father disagree. However, there can be consequences to those choices – he doesn’t work, maybe he doesn’t get to have “free” money (or whatever). You and your father just getting mad at the brother just perpetuates the enmeshment and keeps all of you tied together. If you want to get involved in the business, do so; if you don’t (and it sounds like you don’t), then don’t. This is not mean, it is setting a boundary. If he takes it as a personal affront, it is not your problem (I know this is hard if you’re used to feeling it is).

        I also want to say, this is very hard and it is a work in progress for me but I am having flashbacks reading your story and I know I am not at that place anymore. Sometimes anger feels like you are really separate and boundaried (as opposed to more obvious people pleasing), but in fact anger is the flip-side, it’s just another form of attachment; when one is detached and boundaried, one doesn’t need to become so involved in other people’s lives, however much we may love them. This is super hard. Good luck.

      4. Jo*

        Huh. I left a long reply earlier but I think it got eaten. My advice as someone who is not from the ME but is from a closer culture to that than a typical Western audience:
        – Decide for yourself what you want. Family drama can be a lot and given that its family, you are mostly stuck with them. Figure out for yourself what a desireable outcome is. Then either work on that with your therapist or find a new one if they arent suited for it.
        – Learn to stop caring so much what other people think, and be okay with being the black sheep of the family. Growing a thick skin is hard, but worth it if the things that will make you happy in life are not the same as what your family/society expect
        – Learn to let go of things you cant control: your brothers behaviour in particular is not something you can change. Your parents behaviour isnt something you can change. So accept it for what it is, and decide where to draw your boundaries around what you will/will not accept.
        – Dont get sucked into drama. See above. For this one in particular, your mother seems like a big contributing factor. In the examples youve posted here, she’s the one who seems to have initiated a lot of it. I really hate family dynamics like this (I’ve seen them before). My personal recommendation is to establish direct lines of communication with your Dad, dont allow yourself to get drawn into he said/she said type debates and maybe start to limit what you tell them in general. One way to combat this kind of thing is to be super open about everything. Lies/attempts to hide things only feed drama (think of every soap opera ever!), so making sure everybody knows everything can sometimes help stop things in their tracks.
        – On the topic of the business, to me it seems like the best way to address it is again, a direct conversation with your Dad. To me, a minor compromise is to be very clear that while *you* have no intention of taking over the business, you are willing to *help* figure out who should take over the business. Whether that is your brother, another family member, an existing company employee, selling the business altogether – whatever. But come up with a succession plan and then resolve it. If this thing is such a big cause of stress – why not deal with it head on and make your life easier in future?

      5. Observer*

        You are stressed, but you are not trapped.

        I would strongly suggest finding another therapist. And stop telling your brother how to treat your father. It’s not your job, and it’s not your place. You made your escape one way, your brother is trying his way. Is it a good and functional way? It doesn’t sound like it – but this is NOT your problem. Stepping back from all of this will make your life a lot easier and less stressful.

        You fundamentally have two choices:

        1. Decide to make a career switch and join your father in his business. If you do that, you want to make sure that your stake in the business is tied down – all of the legal paperwork is in place and done tightly enough that your brother and the rest of the family cannot contest it.

        2. Decide that you are NOT making a career switch. And when your father tells you that he has no one to leave the business to, and you need to step up, refuse. As politely and respectfully as you can, but clarity and definiteness needs to outweigh politeness. And refuse to discuss it. And if your current standard of living depends on the money from this business, start living within your income.

      6. Not So NewReader*

        You seem to have an excellent handle on what is going on. This is half the battle, just understanding all that is going on and how all the parts interact with each other.

        Just because you side with your dad, does not mean you have to fight his battles for him. And if he is truly an adult he would NOT need you to fight his battles for him. Without doing too deep a dive here, business people should write an exit plan. This is a plan to leave/retire from a business. And that plan should have backup plans if Plan A does not work out. It’s up to your father to find Plan B, because his Plan A is not working out. It’s up to him to sort all that. It should NOT involve you trying to get your brother to go to work.

        I agree with the person who said your bro has left the situation just like you. However, he has chosen a path that seems like it will not play out well for him in the long run. It’s not up to you to turn your brother around here. Additionally, NO ONE, anywhere, should be expecting you to get your bro to wake up.

        Your mom sounds like she gave up a while ago.

        Your trying to save a group of people who either don’t want to be rescued OR don’t know they need to be rescued…. from their very own selves. We can’t save people from them selves.

        My wise friend had a thought about therapy that goes on and on. The reason your therapy hasn’t ended is because your story here with them has not ended. So, yes, as long as your remain connected* you will probably continue to need therapy.

        *Remain connected. This can mean almost anything. At this point, I see that you are still emotionally connected in the day-to-day lives of these people. And that emotional connection could be killing you on the inside. It could be something or it could be nothing, but one thing that jumped at me is that you did not care about your wedding plans. I wondered what else you found yourself not caring about. Are parts of you dying here? I dunno, I am only a random internet person. It could be that the wedding planning is fine, I didn’t care about my wedding plans either. I still had to do the plans though, because there was no one else to do it for me- my setting was different that way. But do you normally find yourself giving up on things that other people typically care about?

        Your parents’ favoritism of your brother stands alone as a root cause for a lot on anger and tears for you. I think if you just sort what it takes to build yourself up that will be enough to handle right there.

        I took a course in school about groups. You know, people who study groups have noticed a things about group dynamics. One thing they have noticed is that when members of a group are routinely fighting with each other, the REAL problem is not with each other. The real problem is with the leadership of the group. But it is less intimidating to fight with each other than it is to fight with the leadership.

        So here is two sibs fighting with each other. And the parents just keep doing whatever. My best advice, is quit trying to negotiate their relationships for them. Step back and LET them work directly with each other.
        YOUR therapist can’t fix THEM. And they need some mending. She can only fix you. On the plus side, I read what you write here and I see that you are one VERY strong person. I bet you don’t even know how strong you are. I am impressed with your strength. I’d love to see you step back from this group and go out and make your mark on this world. Because that is where you are headed. You are going to make a difference for people in this world. Get there. Soon.
        I think you are a very impressive person. I wish you the absolute best, no matter what you decide here.

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You and your brother are adults. Which means, your relationship is yours and your parents need to butt out. Your father, honestly, is abusive. Why else would you be afraid to call him? You need therapy to figure out your head. And I’m sorry, but being Middle Eastern, or Indian, or any other stereotypical culture where this is the norm doesn’t make it healthy or ok.

      You CAN opt out of unhealthy, toxic family dynamics. Yes there are often consequences, but you might be surprised how much you find you don’t mind those consequences because all the other crap has ceased. Therapy, and work on getting completely financially independent of your family. Your father can’t hold money over you if you have a good job and adequate savings from something out of his control.

    12. RagingADHD*

      I’m sorry you are stressed!

      I’m proud of you for saying “no” to your brother’s meanness.

      My advice is, do nothing. Your brother chose not to attend the party. Your father chose to act like a toddler with his “mad face” to spoil things for everyone else.

      You have choices too. You can choose to just mind your own business and wait for them to calm down. There’s nothing you can really do, after all. Except be a punching bag for them to scream at you. Why should you?

      It doesn’t help them. It doesn’t help you. If screaming makes them feel better, they can go outside and scream at a tree.

      They are not going to die of being mad. You have a 2 year old. Do you follow him around begging him to stop having a tantrum? (I should hope not).

      When your father and brother are done kicking their feet and holding their breath until they turn blue, you can have a conversation about whether or not you want to learn the family business, whether your husband wants to move, whether it’s in your kids’ best interest, etc.

      But nothing constructive is going to happen in the middle of a tantrum.

      By the way, your brother’s employment or lack thereof isn’t your business. However much money your dad or your mom’s family give him isn’t your business. You are entitled to your opinion, and you’re right that it’s not fair for you to be held to one standard while he’s not.

      But ultimately, you have to let grownups make their own choices – they are going to do it anyway – you can’t control them. And when you let go of their choices, you can focus on your own.

  6. SR*

    I lost my dad unexpectedly two weeks ago, but it still feels like it was only two days ago — the grief is still so new and raw. With everything going on in the world right now, the activities that normally feed my spirit, and that help me feel that all is right with the world, are not options at the moment, so that doesn’t help.
    I’m not looking for condolences or sympathy, but rather for insight from those of you who have lost a parent, about your experiences with grief. and How long before the loss started to feel like a thing that happened in the past, rather than a thing that is happening to you now? Was there anything in particular that helped you find a way forward (other than therapy, which I already have)? Any books that helped? Is there anything you wish you knew then but have since learned, or that you wish someone had told you?
    I’ve grieved big losses before, and I know I will always miss my dad, and that there will always be difficult and sad moments when the grief will grab me anew, but I feel so lost right now and know that it can’t/won’t always be this way. Thank you in advance for sharing your experiences and insight.

    1. Jessie*

      I have not lost a parent, but I lost my grandma unexpectedly a few years ago and I was very close to her. And I will tell you something that a friend told me at the time. She said, “everything in the world starts small and grows bigger, except grief, it starts big but get’s smaller and smaller.” I’m so sorry for your loss. You will get there.

    2. Colette*

      I lost my dad 10 years ago. I was exhausted for at least a month. I spent most of my non-work time playing video games, because it kept my brain occupied but wasn’t demanding.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

    3. Melonhead*

      Oof. I am so sorry. My mom died 2 years ago, old and expected, and it was still a gut-punch. I cried a lot. I would get home from work, walk in the door, sit down, and cry. My husband and sons would gather around and hug/pat me, just letting me cry.

      If you have similar support, lean on it. I found talking to others who had lost their mom to be really helpful – they got it and were very understanding.

      In terms of grief, two weeks is very soon after your loss. I don’t know how long it took me to feel like my mom’s death was in the past, so to speak, but by a month it hurt a tiny bit less. I checked in with my therapist during my most intense grief, and leaned on friends.

      I think trying to honor your grief, and letting yourself sit with it, might help. You are in mourning. It hurts. It is, heaven help us, “normal” to feel the way you’re feeling.

      I am so sorry for your loss.

    4. Loopy*

      I lost my mother at 19, over Christmas break at school. The next semester I had a really heavy honors courseload, I had just been accepted into my college’s honors program.

      I am one of those people who try and just push through nearly everything….stress, being sick, etc. But I dropped the entire honors program AND took one less course than a normal load, instead of one extra. At the time I probably didn’t realize how much it helped to give myself permission to let things go, even if it meant losing the honors program entirely. Now, almost 15 years later I dont even think of it as a regret- not even close.

      My point being, I’d recommend giving yourself permission to do whatever will help you through this period easier, whatever form that takes. Don’t hesitate and don’t feel guilty about whatever it takes to work through this loss. I know that isn’t a specific recommendation for how to handle the grief but for me, I know sometimes just giving myself the time/space/money/whatever needed to take care of myself is the hardest part.

      Grief takes space in your life and giving it the space it needed for me was one of the best decisions I made. And sometimes, later on, that even meant replacing a responsibility with something that gave me joy, or healthy time with a friend. I really needed the good to balance out the grief but it can be hard to justify that sometimes.

      For me, the length of grief was a bit different because I had very complicated issues to work through regarding our relationship when she was alive, so that probably wouldn’t be a good estimate. I’m sorry for your loss and I do help this perspective is a bit helpful.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >Grief takes space in your life

        This is so true, and not just in mourning an actual death, but anticipated deaths, and other losses. Thank you for saying this.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’m sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is enormous and world-shaking. Speaking not as someone similarly bereaved but as someone who has observed others lose a parent…be kind to yourself because it takes time and energy to adjust to this new, difficult, unwanted, and unexpected situation. Remember your father. Talk about him with others, especially others who remember him. Think privately about lessons learned and how you’ll act on them in future. Perhaps it would help to find a group of other people mourning a parent. It may help you to have other life details in common with the other mourners (age? gender? religious or spiritual outlook? ethnic background?) or it may not matter. Some people grow up in a particular tradition and follow every step of it in matters of grief. Others follow bits and pieces, or follow the traditions of another community that they chose to join as adults. There are no right answers here except for what is most supportive for you.

      My observation is that over time grief ceases to be sharp and constant, but from time to time one remembers the absence of someone dear. Reminders can be humorous, bittersweet, or painful. Others before me have said that in some ways grief mirrors our the connection to the person who died. It will vary depending on each survivor, each person who died, and their shared relationship. May you find comfort.

    6. Lady Meyneth*

      I’m very sorry for your loss. I lost my granpa rather suddenly 10 years ago. He was my father in every way that counts, so the grief was huge. It took me a month to be able to properly function, and then I would have bad grief days and crying jags for 6 months afterwards. For me, what helped me most after that first month was to keep doing things we did together (go for ice cream at our usual spot, watch the shows we did together, do puzzles, etc), because I felt he woudn’t have wanted me to stop those and would have approved of me trying to go on, and because it made him seem closer to me. Nothing really helped on the first month, I’m afraid. I’m really sorry I can’t give you any easier anwers.

    7. Asenath*

      I am so sorry for your loss. I think each loss is a bit different – I’ve lost both my parents as well as a sibling. I think what helped a bit was keeping up with what routine I had – which of course is not easy now, with everyone’s routines changed, and changing as the pandemic continues. But somehow going to work and going through – or rather, probably, almost sleepwalking through my daily work routine and obsessively doing repetitive activities like some games or puzzles helped a bit. Same thing for the routine rituals which sometimes follow a death. People around me were kind, but let me do my own thing without either telling me what I should or shouldn’t do. Talking sometimes helped, but mainly with the very very few people who were very close to me. I wasn’t much up to discussing my loss in general. You say you’re getting therapy – I didn’t need that, but I felt so terrible and so lost after one death that I went to a bereavement seminar put off by a local health care organization. That was extremely helpful, even though it seems so obvious to say that the presenter simply gave me the information I needed to help me understand that what I was feeling was normal, and I would get through it. He also told the group what to look for that would indicate you might need personal counseling.

    8. European*

      I am sorry for your loss.
      I lost my father suddenly 2.5 years ago. I noticed that my grief process had very distinct phases. The process happened very spontaneously and almost automatically, as if it was a program which was switched on and had to take its course. It all felt very natural. Heavy, painful, raw, yes, but not ugly or unfair, or unjust (my father was not young and had a good life).

      The first two weeks I was in panic, unable to realize what had happened. It was followed by a couple of months of pain, feeling fragile, overwhelmed. Social team gatherings outside working hours with colleagues felt very draining, almost scary, and I opted out as much as I could. I was very, very careful that I protected my sleep. I was constantly exhausted and went to bed at 21 in the evenings and forced the family to be silent. I was in a way convalescent.

      Then came a phase of several months, where the pain was not as sharp constantly, but my mood was melancholic and I could not really feel pleasure or joy almost at all.

      After 7.5 months I felt a clear turn. I was on a holiday trip with my daughter and I could enjoy it. I felt joy, and I allowed myself to feel joy. After that the melancholy was not as heavy any more.

      The things which gave be comfort and support: connection with my siblings, especially sisters. I am grateful that my parents had four children and we have so warm relations. There were many complicated and partially awful things our family went through in the past. After my father’s death, everything understandably resurfaced in our minds and we had to re-process it, with the knowledge that we never would have the possibility to discuss the past with our father. Our bonds among the siblings grew stronger through the grief.

      My children (teenagers) were a source of comfort for me. I was very open about that I am grieving and did not hide my crying. We talked about my father and watched old photos of him together. We discussed which traits in the looks or talents they maybe got from their grandfather. I was and am grateful that my father lives in them, like I hope I will live in my grandchildren one day.

      Another thing that gave me a lot of support and satisfaction was my work. I hope you will not judge me when i say this. I had a long time aspired to advance in my career. Just before my father’s death I had got a very exciting, international part-time assignment inside our company. This assignment was very challenging, involving complex problem-solving across all global geographies and cultures. The boost in self-confidence really helped me to look ahead and dare to hope and dream about my future.

    9. Jay*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my father suddenly in 2006. Grief affects everything. I cut back at work for six months? nine months? I honestly don’t remember. I was lucky to be able to afford to do that and it really helped. I needed to be at work because it helped me feel more like myself, but I could not function at my usual pace. And I’m a doctor, so when I had to deal with patients who reminded me of my dad, I needed space and time to recover from that.

      There’s a reason that most of the world’s wisdom and faith traditions have a year of mourning. I think there’s something universal about going through that first year – every anniversary, every holiday is worst the first time, or at least it was for me. Even now it’s as if my body remembers – I will feel tired and achy and sad and then realize it’s Dad’s birthday, or the anniversary of his death.

      Before Dad died, I did not know that grief affects the body as much as the mind and soul. Afterwards, I started to work in hospice, and I learned that people who suffer a major loss are far more likely to become physically ill in the next six months. My mother, who had no underlying physical illness, landed in the hospital twice in the six months after Dad died. This was not a coincidence.

      Be gentle with yourself. I hope you have a circle of love to be gentle with you as well. Please let us know how you’re doing. I will hold you in my thoughts.

    10. fposte*

      I lost my dad 10 years ago. It wasn’t sudden, and it wasn’t premature, so I thought I was all prepared. And in some ways I was but in other ways I really wasn’t. Time made me less sad but miss him more, which is a little hard to explain; it’s like the fact of death is a separate thing from the person and overshadows them for a while.

    11. Morning reader*

      I found watching the movie “Departures” very cathartic. Not normally a movie buff or foreign film aficionado. Highly recommend but keep your hanky and/or your therapist handy.

      No other suggestions other than time, and that lessens the intensity of grief but does not remove it. I hung black ribbons from my flag (an alternative to half mast) with my most recent loss in early 2019. My intention was to leave it like that for about a year, to indicate a house in mourning, but I never felt ready to remove it, and then Covid so I’ve been in mourning for the world. Maybe I’ll feel ready to take the black ribbons down in January.

    12. No SoCal*

      I lost my dad three years ago. In the beginning it took a while to get over the shock part, even when your brain is processing it behind the scenes. It was emotional and physical, so I recommend the things that they talk about such as getting enough sleep, eating right, and trying to stay away from coping things like a lot of alcohol. That way your body can help you process things.

      That took a few months, slowly subsiding. I’m not gonna say it ever completely went away, but it’s much more dull now.

      At times it can be overwhelming – so if you find that people giving you condolences or sympathy triggers that, do what you can to isolate yourself from it. That might mean distancing yourself from social media or even redirecting people when possible. I think they mean well, but sometimes it’s not understood how much it affects someone. For example, I knew that people were going to be reaching out on holidays, birthdays, and the anniversary of his death. Preparing myself for those encounters made it a little bit easier to manage. Every year gets better.
      (I should note this is the way I deal with things, maybe not best for everyone.)

      As they say, be kind to yourself.

    13. Global Cat Herder*

      I am so sorry for your loss. My dad was killed 9 years ago last week (the anniversary is still a sad day).

      I was a zombie at work for the first six weeks or so. Had problems concentrating and had to try other ways to organize current status of everything and what needed to be done – I absolutely could not keep anything in my head. Even occasionally found myself sitting at the keyboard having zoned out and accomplished nothing for the last few minutes. Had honest conversations with people at work – I just can’t right now, could you take on X for the next few weeks. Losing a parent is something we all go through at some point in our lives, so everyone at work was kind and understanding and willing to work around me for the first few weeks, and I was able to take all the delegated tasks back at about 6 weeks.

      Because my dad’s death was sudden and unexpected, I had a lot of anger as well at grief. We didn’t get to say goodbye. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Because I got to say “darn you Reek” instead of “darn you cruel world”, that anger was more acceptable, but I think it would have been there to some degree anyway. Giving myself permission to be angry as well as sad was a huge help. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

      There’s a great description of grief as “the ball in the box” – I won’t repeat it here, but Google it, or your therapist may be familiar. It’s gradual and takes time, and the ball shrinks at different rates for different people. One thing that made my ball shrink faster was to share memories of dad with my siblings and kids. We told each other the banana story so often that just the word “banana” makes me smile now. You will find a way to that point, in time.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I lost my father 26 years ago. I still miss him. Of course, I can get through the day without crying now. I have stopped expecting him to call randomly and so on. The grief isn’t raw anymore, it’s just changed form. I see the signs on the Jersey Turnpike (his home area) and my heart skips a beat- because I suddenly remember him like I just saw him yesterday.

      I will try to stick to your questions and not ramble.
      How long before the loss started to feel like a thing that happened in the past, rather than a thing that is happening to you now?
      It started tapering after a couple months. Oddly, I was afraid to stop grieving. It was the last part of him that was with me. If I let go of the grief it felt like letting go of him. Then I reached a point where I realized this is nothing he’d want me to do. He’d want me go out and get the best life possible. He’s always with me…. he’s in my heart. So things tapered down, each month got a bit better. But I would say, I did not feel “better” for about two years. I found my land legs and I stopped feeling wobbly on the inside.

      I read an article that said doctors know the loss of our parents is so powerful that we begin our own downhill slide. I felt horrible on the inside so reading this felt like validation. It did not scare me. It felt like, “okay, I am not off track here. I am not exaggerating. This is big.”

      Was there anything in particular that helped you find a way forward (other than therapy, which I already have)?

      Several things helped. I did a Grief Share group and I read books on grief. This helped me to find words for what I was feeling. If I have words I can begin to talk and work though things.
      I also got into eating whole foods- I had a salad every day for example. I did not care what I ate so might as well be something that is good for my body. Over time that nutrition did fortify me and did help me process the grief.
      Any books that helped? Is there anything you wish you knew then but have since learned, or that you wish someone had told you?
      OMG, YES! My folks were not good at teaching about grief. Well, we can’t teach what we don’t know, this goes for all of us. Some of the simpler books on grief really helped. I learned about the symptoms of grief (eating too much, not being able to eat; sleeping too much, not being able to sleep). Then there’s the stages of grief, we can be in more than one stage at the same time. Oh boy, did this help with the confusion. I wanted to know why i was angry and crying at the same time. I felt so mixed. But this is normal, this is how we sort out our emotions and sort out our lives.
      The other thing that surprised me is that we lose a lot of vitamins and minerals when we grief. Dunno why I had not thought of that… but grief is a lot of energy for the mind and in turn the body. If you are having trouble sleeping, perhaps consider a drink with electrolytes in it. The brain and body need minerals to function. If you are having trouble eating, consider a protein drink. And consider soups, yes, drink your meals.
      There is a difference between isolation and quiet time. Quiet time is good, it’s restorative. Isolation can seem to make the grief feel bigger. So let’s say the absolute best you can do is spend one hour a week with a friend or loved one. Get there. Make that happen. Don’t force yourself to walk alone. It’s too big to do alone.

      Last. I did skip the books, didn’t I? Well, there’s lots of good books out there. My suggestion is to look at them because one will hit you, “Oh my! This author is talking to ME!” That is the book you want. Some books are very small and less than 100 pages. Those give you facts about grief, such as stages , symptoms, and how grief manifests. Not everything will apply to you, but you probably will find a couple “ah-ha’s” as you read along.

      My husband died just over a decade after my father died. I can honestly say, losing my father was the hardest death I have experienced. No other loss has hit me that way. I think it’s because of the uniqueness of the relationship, no other person can be a father to me. You are correct in thinking you/life will never be the same again. That is not the same as saying life won’t be good again, it’s a different kind of good. (More appreciation? not sure.) You may not see right now is that you will find parts of yourself that you did not know you had. Trust your process.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        I second the GriefShare – I found it helpful because although I am a person of faith, I gained more from it because I did not feel alone. I had a support group who was processing too. Being alone in this is very hard. The videos have people who have had losses for many different kinds of deaths. So you have folks around you (those taking the class), plus discussion materials that help you talk it through.

        And there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and no time table. And the place we don’t mention? Where they give you 3 days (local) or 5 days (distance for funeral) bereavement? That’s not in line with how it worked for me, at all. The grief would come and go like waves, not a light switch (oh, look my five days is up… time to turn my activity level back up).

        Be extra gentle with yourself. and tears are healing. (look up about the protein in them that is released when you cry…). My thoughts are with you.

    15. SJNB*

      Hi SR – I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. Mine died when I was 21, it’ll be 10 years ago next June. I hope it’ll remain the worst thing that has happened to me. In the early stages some of the bureaucracy of death helped – I was helping my mum organise the funeral, make phone calls etc – and personally I think it helped me to feel like I was doing something helpful. Like others have said, working or doing something else you’re good at can help take you away from it all. Because I was so young none of my friends had lost a parent but I would say don’t let this stop you from seeking support/ letting your friends support you. Once some time has passed – I don’t recommend this for right now, I think I only started listening in the past couple of years – I recommend the podcast Griefcast with Cariad Lloyd. She interviews comedians and other people about their experiences with grief. The notes usually say who it is they’re grieving so you can avoid dad ones if you prefer.

      1. SR*

        Thank you — this is such a concise and beautifully accurate essay and analogy. Right now, I’m still drowning and just trying to stay afloat, but this essay reminds me that things will get easier.

    16. CaseyJD*

      I’m sorry for your loss. One book I found helpful and comforting after losses in my life is “When Parents Die.” It’s from a number of years ago but includes many anecdotes of people losing their parents that helped me understand what I was going through.

    17. SR*

      Thank you to everyone who has responded thus far. It is helpful to hear about your individual experiences and where/how you found comfort and/or solace.

    18. Gatomon*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Especially during these times it can’t be easy.

      My dad and I had a fraught relationship and were not close. I hadn’t spoken to him in maybe a month prior to his sudden death. However he and my mother were very deeply in love, and the rest of his family loved/admired him and had much closer relationships with him than I did. This led to a lot of rage during the funeral when family would share stories of how much he meant to them and how recently they’d talked – I didn’t feel like I could share how not close we were and how jealous I was that he was more of an uncle or brother to them than he was my father. People would ask me for stories and I just made stuff up about our relationship because I was already the family black sheep before this and I just didn’t want to try and explain how all the time he was spending with them was time he wasn’t spending with me.

      I think it took a solid month for me to not dwell on it constantly, and then several more months before I really returned to normal-ish, based on my work product (oh man did I create some big messes for myself during that period). I was surprised by how much it affected me, because I used to lay awake at night as a teen and wonder if I’d even cry when he died. (I did, once.) It took me a while to realize I was grieving the father I never had, not my father. With his death it really cemented in my mind that he was never going to be the person that I wanted or needed him to be, and that I needed to let that dream father go along with the real one. “She loved me, she loved me not” was a really helpful book that I’d recommend to anyone who loses a parent that they had a difficult relationship with. It also helped me be more understanding of my mother’s extreme grief (it’s been over 2 years and she’s just finally returning to the person she once was) and dysfunction afterwards.

    19. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Im sorry for your loss.

      I wish there was an easy answer. Its been almost 3 years since I lost my dad unexpectedly and I’m still grappling with it. Over time the shock wears off. But I remember those first few days and weeks were… a really weird time. I was desperate to get back to normal. For me the grieving process was all over the place and not in 5 neat steps.

    20. It’s All Good*

      My please accept my condolences. My mom died in August. I still have not accepted it in a way. She died alone in a SNF because of covid19.

    21. Urban Prof*

      I learned (in therapy) that grief is cumulative. More than a year after my mother died, one of my cats died, and I was absolutely inconsolable. Thank goodness my therapist explained that each loss brings up prior losses.

      Sometimes I think the world is neatly divided between people who have lost a beloved parent, and people who have not. I am so sorry for your loss, and I hope you remember that you are not alone — there are others who know your grief.

      1. SR*

        This is really helpful to hear, because this is my fourth loss of a loved one this year, and third within only a couple months. I know instinctively this makes it harder, but having you specifically mention that “grief is cumulative” is validating. Thank you.

    22. SR*

      I just want to say one final thank you to each of you who has commented. I keep coming back here to read each comment one or two at a time, as I cannot take them all in at once, and also to re-read and find new pieces of insight. I am taking all your book suggestions and readings to heart and am looking into each of them. I am finding found comfort and hope and coping tools in your sharing of your own personal experiences, and it means a lot. I can’t respond to each comment individually just yet, but please know that I value and appreciate each and every one. Thank you so much.

      1. I take tea*

        If you come back, I’ll add something. I lost my father a little more than two years ago. The first months I was so very, very tired all the time. I spent a lot of time with my mother and brother, and we were all very tired. Part of it was reaction to all the care we had had to do during my fathers illness, but mostly it was grief. I tried to focus on getting food into us, healthy food if possible, but anything that you can eat. We tried to accomplish one practical thing a day and then just rest. Talk a bit, but mostly sit and read or browse the internet in silence together. I was lucky I could take some time off work, but sometimes work is doable, because it’s routine, and I could – not forget, exactly, but compartmentalize.

        Be kind to yourself. Watch out for yourself, listen to yourself. I slid after some months from grief into something called atypical depression, which I didn’t realize at first, because it was not like the depressions I’ve known about. I just started to have extreme mood swings, sudden rage at anything quickly followed by a flood of tears, because I couldn’t understand why I was angry. It didn’t feel natural. I cried a lot of course, natural tears from grief makes it feel a little better, but this felt different, there was no relief in it. I had to go on medication. Sometimes you hear “people today can’t cope with natural grief and have to be medicated for anything”. Don’t listen to them, listen to yourself. Is it natural grief, which takes its course and gets better, or is it something else? Right now it’s far to early to say, I just wanted you to know that grief can trigger other things.

        Lots of sympathy to you.

    23. MatKnifeNinja*

      It took me about two years with both my mom and dad.

      The holidays were worse the second year tho..

  7. Tamer of dragonflies*

    Spooky happenings at the 4 letter word place…
    Ok, so I dunno if there was going to be a thread for this or if its the right place to put it,but I really want to tell my story.So, here goes…
    I once worked at an industrial equipment repair company.The building it was in was built as a repair shop for semi trucks,so very much like where you’d take your car to be be fixed,only the roll up doors are 16 feet high and there are 4 on each side so the trucks could drive through.This’ll make sense in a moment.
    Well one night,a coworker and I were called in around midnight to work on a rush job that involved heating a large motor in an oven.It was going to be 3 hours untill it was done,so instead of driving the 45 minutes home and back,I was going to work on other things.Coworker lived 5 minutes away,they went home,leaving me in the large,mostly dark, creepy AF building all alone. Now back to the roll up doors.See,these things were older than dirt and creaked,groaned,rattled and popped when they moved,except one particuler door that squeaked as it went up or down.It was a bit musical,and sounded like someone whistling 3 notes…B, F#,D for y’all musical types.So Im working away and have to walk to the front (where its dark)to get something.As I walk past the musical roll up door,I hear whats sounds like someone whistling those same notes the door makes.Y’all,it was the middle of winter and that door was closed,locked and wasnt moving,and I was the only (living) soul in there.So yeah,I went to nope right the heck outa there.Im gonna go sit in my car till coworker came back.To get to the out door,I had to walk through a short hallway where there were lights,and was the only lights on except for the big shop lights at the other end of the building.As I walked through this hallway to the door,while still hearing the musical door noise,the lights went out.Switch was still on,no known reason for it,they went dark.I hit that door so fast…I went and sat in my car untill coworker showed up, and never went in there alone at night again…
    Thats my story.Hope you enjoyed it and that it wasnt too long and boring,and I hope everyone has a happy Halloween if your into it.

    1. germank106*

      I don’t believe in ghosts or haunted houses and I always laugh at my husband trying to convince me that all these things exist. He’s a Louisiana native so for him these things are perfectly normal. But sometimes I wonder….
      Last year we lost a very young family member. He only lived 9 months and it was sad to see his parents having to go through this. His great grandmother took it especially hard. While we were at the Baby’s graveside service the funeral director handed out shiny new Pennies to everyone. She said that, if we ever find a Penny with the birthyear of the Baby on it, this was the Baby’s way of letting us know everything is alright.
      Sadly Baby’s great grandmother was taken to the Hospital that afternoon and she died a short time later. As we returned from the Hospital I got out of the car. I have a habit of picking up Pennies that I find on the ground and there, right in front of my Car was a Penny. I picked it up and it had Great Grandma’s Birthyear on it. My husband said something about finally being able to prove me right, but I just chalked it up to coincidence.
      Two months ago another of our young relatives had a miscarriage. My husband wasn’t able to go to the Memorial Service but I did. Again there’s a Penny on the ground when I get home. It says 2020 on it.
      I hope we won’t have any more funerals any time soon, but this whole Penny thing has me a bit worried now.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I don’t think you need to be worried – humans have the uncanny ability to see patterns that don’t exist. It’s like when you take in interest in something new – say, upholstering chairs – and suddenly when you turn on the TV or go to the bookshop you see a lot of shows/books about upholstering chairs. Must be fate, right? Nope, you’re just primed to look for it. In the case of the pennies, how often did you check the year on them before?
        And even if it isn’t coincidence, considering it’s supposed to be a sign that everything is okay I don’t think you should be worried.

      2. CoffeeOnMyMind*

        My BIL’s dad told him that he’d leave pennies as a sign that he was watching over them. Ever since his dad died, pennies have popped up during life events: birthdays, weddings, even at Disney World. It’s uncanny; someone will mention his dad and then find a penny by their feet.

    2. MissGirl*

      My old company made state text books. My roommate, Jen, worked as a photographer and was charged with getting photos of the old train station, which is supposedly haunted. While she was shooting, her assistant, Sue, went to use the bathroom and came back looking a little off. Jen jokingly asked if she saw the ghost.

      Sue, rather concerned, asked, what ghost?

      “Oh, you know the rumors a woman ghost haunts the main floor where the bathrooms are.”

      Sue freaks out because apparently while she was in the stall a woman walked in (could clearly hear the footsteps) and stopped in front of the sinks. Sue opened the stall door right then but no one was there.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I believe in ghosts, but writing a book about them coming back and just being people cured me of being scared of them.
      But I have to admit, I would have been more than a little nervous in your position, mostly because my brain would have gone straight to “serial killer” before “ghost.”

      1. Tamer of dragonflies*

        Coworker wasnt not a practical joker and mine was the only car in the lot at the time and he wasnt due to come back to finish for about an hour after I hit the door.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Not per se a ghost story.

      My friend was in my garage helping me with my tractor. I saw a blue flash of light fly up the stairs to the loft. And then I realized, my friend was staring at the stairs also. I said, “You saw it too!” He said, “Yep. That blue flash of light was an angel.” He knew what I had seen without asking me.
      I asked my friend if we should check to the loft to make sure everything was okay up there. He rolled his eyes. “The loft is FINE”, he said in a tone that implied I was worrying when there was no need.

      So I was telling a cohort at work about this. And she blurted out, “So THAT’S what those blue flashes are!” My cohort is nearly blind.

    5. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      I worked in a 150 year old historic house for 5 years, and I have many spooky stories I could share. But since it’s the weekend, I’ll share my sister’s ghost encounter:

      Shortly after my nephew was born, my sister had him in a rocker in the living room. Her husband was watching the baby while my sister cleaned the kitchen. Suddenly from the corner where the baby was, my sister and BIL heard a male voice (not her husband’s), talking to the baby. When it stopped, noises started coming from the same corner. My sister said it sounded like listening to a battle, or a memory of a battle. She said she felt 2 distinct presences. Then the sound ended. She and my BIL were stunned, but not scared. She said it felt like a message to the baby. My nephew slept through the whole thing.

      Here’s the kicker: my nephew was born a year after my grandpa died, he was a WWII vet. And my nephew is named after my great-uncle, who was killed in WWII. My sister thinks that the spirits were of my grandpa and great-uncle.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I was once in West Flanders, which was where many of the battles in the First World War took place. It is quite common to have little Commonwealth War Cemeteries dotted across the countryside, with perhaps a dozen graves.

        We were staying in a hotel just over the road from one such cemetery, and based on the history of the building, it had been badly damaged during fighting and rebuilt. There was a large pond in the garden, which on closer inspection, was a crater hole filled with water.

        When I was in bed that night, I was sure I could hear footsteps of somebody on sentry duty marching up and down outside.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          We have a battle field not too far from here. It was part of the story of the Revolutionary War. Many people visiting the site have said that they have heard or seen soldiers from that era. Some folks hear guns or cannons, too. Warfare seems to leave a permanent mark.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            And a family member was once driving past Tyne Cot cemetery when all of the sudden the car stereo kicked in and began to play Abide with Me.

  8. Colette*

    Hi all,

    I’m looking for book suggestions.

    #1: grade 4, likes graphic novels like Chi’s Sweet Home. (I’m OK with graphic novels or regular books, but nothing super challenging.)

    #2: grade 5, solid reader. I gave him a Gordon Korman’s “I want to go home” in June and he read it 4 times. I’ll probably get him something else by the same author but am open to other suggestions.

    #3: grade 1, in French immersion. Looking for a book in English and one in French.


    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      What are the children interested in?
      You also might like doing a google search back through Saturday open forums for YA book suggestions.

      1. Colette*

        #1 – lives in a farm and knows everything about the animals.

        #2 – video games; also likes active/adventurous stuff

        #3 – animals, sewing/crafts

        1. Lady Heather*

          #2 – Ranger’s Apprentice. (It also has a kind of spin-off, Brotherband, by the same author. Haven’t read that but I’ve heard it’s good.) It’s written for ages 10 and up, I think, but the plots are intriguing. Author is John Flanagan.
          I’m absolutely pants at writing synopses and reviews so I have to direct you to Google for that.

          1. Xenia*

            Going to second this one. Lots of stirring action scenes, basically no problematic content, puns left right and center, and Flanagan does a lot of real-world research for his world building. Great books.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Grade 4 loves animals? Off the top of my head… The Warriors series (cats as fantasy novel characters). Charlotte’s Web. My Side of the Mountain. Wings of Fire series.
          NOT Stone Fox (spoiler: the dog dies horribly)
          Grade 5 action/adventure… seconding Ranger’s Apprentice. Percy Jackson series (Rick Riordan)
          First grade animals. Maybe Zen Shorts –beautiful art, some simple & some longer reading sections.
          If the child reads way ahead of grade level maybe the “Pet Trouble” series (‘Smart Aleck Sheltie” was my then 2nd grader’s favorite. )

          puddle poodle

          1. Candy Corn*

            I read Animal Farm when I was 9 years old because I thought it was a short book about animals… That didn’t turn out the way I expected it to

          2. Colette*

            How did I forget about Charlotte’s Web? Thanks, I will check these out. Percy Jackson is out because an older sibling has them and thus I assume they are already available.

    2. AM*

      I LOVED “I want to go home” when I was a kid. I remember reading it to myself in school and laughing out loud. I really liked the Bruno and Boots books by the same author. “Go Jump in The Pool” comes to mind.

        1. curly sue*

          I loved these, my kids love these, and YTV just did a handful of movies which are out on Netflix now, iirc. ‘The Zucchini Warriors’ has one of the best-structured comedy setups that I’ve ever seen in a novel, MG or otherwise.

      1. Aealias*

        Welcome to our really sucky club.

        It’s been four months, just about, and it doesn’t hurt LESS, but it hurts less OFTEN. The loss is fresh every time, but it’s not continuous. “My Dad just died,” is no longer the central fact of my day-to-day, but I still get blindsided sometimes.

        I suspect this year makes it harder to cope in some ways. How much of my overwhelm, depression, disconnection is because of Covid pressures, how much is my Dad? It helps to remember that grief is a response to loss. We’ve lost A LOT right now, and it’s okay to be overwhelmed. Forgive yourself for struggling. I give myself times to grieve wholeheartedly (when was the last tear-less shower?) so that I can set it aside and function in the day-to-day. And the windows between crying-in-the-car-on-the-way-to-work are getting longer.

        I feel less like I’m recovering from the loss and more like I’m adapting to it, but progress is less grindingly slow than I feared, in that first rush of grief.

      1. Lady Heather*

        Everyone should be issued a copy of that book along with their birth certificate. It’s awesome.

    3. Jenny*

      #1 Has she read the Dogman books? Kids are obsessed with that. But there are a ton of good graphic novels for that age range. Way more that when we were kids.

      #2 I just got my same age nephew The Mysterious Benedict Society and he loved it.

      #3 so young you should research dedicated bilingual books. They exist and would fit the bill. My nephew knows German and that’s what we get him.

    4. GoryDetails*

      I’ve recently discovered Ursula Vernon’s “Dragonbreath” series – age range 8-12, though that varies by individual kid’s preferences and reading level. As an adult I adore them, and I think I would have loved them as a kid as well.

      In the non-fiction category, Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales – a series of graphic novels based on different episodes in history, from the original Nathan Hale’s life story to the Alamo, the Underground Railroad, and other eras. Those are supposedly for ages 10 and up. (Some of them get pretty scary, but there’s a lot of humor and a LOT of good history.) I read Big Bad Ironclad most recently, about the development of ironclads during the Civil War, and it was a lot of fun.

    5. Still Reading My Childhood Books Every Year*

      Grade 1 — the TinTin books, in French or English. Also the Babar books, in French or English!

      Grade 5, but Grade 4 will like these too perhaps — The View from Saturday, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (I gave it to a 5th grader recently and both she and her older brother ate it up), A Wrinkle in Time, Island of the Blue Dolphins, the Narnia books. I’m showing my age, right? But these are all wonderful. Anything that’s won the Newbery Award tends to be great.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Another one to look into for your older reader — The Keys to the Kingdom, a 7 book series by Garth Nix.

      2. Colette*

        I wonder how many of these the family already has! I may have bought some of them for older siblings. I appreciate he suggestions!

    6. curly sue*

      My grade 4 kid *loved* Gordon Korman’s ‘MacDonald Hall’ series; we just finished reading that together a month or so ago. Same age kid adores the Minecraft book series – Diary of a 8-bit Villager / Warrior is the title I remember.

      Kid also recommends the Wings of Fire graphic novels, and the Dog Man series of graphic novels by Dav Pilke (same guy who did Captain Underpants – humour is a little crude, but age-approriate).

  9. Helvetica*

    I’ve been thinking of buying a sunrise alarm clock and/or a SAD light/luminotherapy light to help cope better with the darkness, especially since my country just entered into a second lockdown. Does anyone have good recommendations? Philips seems to be cornering the market on the alarms but they’re pretty expensive and I’m just wondering if it’s worth it. Same with a luminotherapy device – I am not convinced looking into a light every day would help but if you’ve had good experiences, let me know!

    1. anonlurkerappa*

      I got a phillips sunrise alarm clock and have found it helpful. Its ones of those things that makes sense to buy used. IME they are up to half the cost on Ebay as buying a new one and work just as well.

      I also have a SAD light box that my Dr gave me a prescription for, so insurance covered it. I’ve found it helpful when I needed to do work at my desk at home for a while. I was never that great at looking at it for a half hour in the mornings.

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      About 2 years ago, my husband got me a Lumie alarm clock and a Lumie light box for Christmas. I typically get SAD and also struggle with Vitamin D deficiency because of being a vegan. I love both these light devices and have found them so helpful. I don’t really look into the light box, just sit next to it. When it’s a really grey and depressing day, I use it as a general light and that’s been so helpful.

      The alarm clock has been surprisingly successful and the light often wakes me up on its own.

    3. Loopy*

      I have the phillips sunrise alarm clock and from the price perspective, I got it about 8 years ago and it’s still going strong. I really enjoy the warmth of the light it gives off and prefer it to an overhead light so it’s definitely ben worth the money. I feel like I don’t realize how much of a difference the type of light makes until I see how strong my preferences are! It’s definitely been my go to light if I dont need to light up huge spaces with super bright lights (like in the kitchen or when cleaning, etc.)

    4. Lady Heather*

      I’ve got a wake up light from Philips, though it’s a pretty old one! (It was new when I bought it.) I’ve had it for 7 years now, and it works great. Worst case scenario I wake up feeling like it’s morning (instead of waking up in the dark thinking it’s far too ‘night’ to get out of bed), and best case scenario I wake up a few minutes before my alarm goes off, well-rested.

      A ‘wake up with a sunrise’-alarm clock is very different from a SAD light though, the alarm clock is basically a normal lamp that gradually gets brighter, the SAD light is an extremely bright lamp that’s a therapeutic device. In function, the SAD is supposed to help you feel better (wasn’t my experience when I used it, it didn’t do anything – YMMV) and you need to sit in front of it – awake – for 20-30 minutes (preferably in morning), and the wake up light is supposed to help you wake up and then you turn it off.
      The wake up light does help me wake up – and plenty. Instead of becoming conscious at 6.30 and getting out of bed at 6.50 and being fully awake and functioning at 8.45, I wake up at 6.30 (or a little earlier), get out of bed at 6.35, and am fully awake and functioning well before 7.

      I’m not sure whether I feel strongly about recommending the Philips rather than a different brand – on one hand, my Philips has lasted 7 years and is still going strong. On the other hand, my 7-year-old Philips is 7 years old and other brands may have the same quality and functions* for a cheaper price by now.

      Functions: mine has radio, a few melodies as alarm sounds (I use radio – if you use the chirping birds, any bird chirping ever will wake you up, and birds chirp early here in summer!), 2 alarm clock times, a “turn light off over 5 to 60 minutes” bedtime setting, a normal light setting (choose 1 of 20 brightnesses) e.g. for reading, the wake up function (choose between 20 and 30 minutes). Oh, and the sound of the alarm get louder the longer it goes on, until you turn it off or snooze it.

      Whatever you buy, I’d try to aim for:
      1) light starts low, gets brighter (duh ;-))
      2) sound starts low, gets louder (so that you’re not ‘shocked awake’ as much, but also, so that you don’t sleep through your alarm!)
      3) radio, so that you can choose what you wake up with if the melodies don’t work for you.
      I never use the nighttime function as I find it unhelpful. I don’t think the amount of brightness levels matters, whether it’s 10 or 30.. eh, it’ll do fine. Whether or not it has been *pompous voice* scientifically calibrated by real scientists to be maximally effective.. that just means that of a group of test subjects, none of which were you, 51 per cent liked this one best.

      My country has shops where you can rent or buy things like crutches – I rented a SAD light there once. You may have a similar option, so that you can try it out without buying.

    5. Ilex Oak*

      I have an older model of the Philips wake up light – I bought it 10 years ago when I had a job with a long commute and very early start time. It was the only way I could have consistently gotten out of bed in what otherwise felt to my body like the middle of the night. It’s still going strong, although I don’t need to use the wake up light feature much anymore. There’s a pretty inexpensive new version on Amazon for about $40. It doesn’t have the SAD light feature, but can definitely help with waking up in the dark.

    6. Mystery Bookworm*

      I got a cheaper sunrise alarm clock a few years ago (I am sorry, I don’t remember the brand) and it kind of crapped out on us about ~8 months later? We replaced it with a Phillips that’s still going strong…probably about 3 years.

      Just one data point. But I do think it’s odd there aren’t more options out there!

    7. mreasy*

      I have been using a light therapy lamp from October through April for the last 10 or 15 years, and as someone with serious SAD (as well as a host of other mental issues), it absolutely does help. I was skeptical as well, and the lamps sure are pricey (as are the eventual replacement bulbs), but sitting under the thing for 20-30 minutes every morning does make a huge difference. I have the Carex Day-Light Sky lamp and it works well and has lasted several years (so many I can’t remember how many). Just make sure you get a lamp of adequate power and sit close to it for at least 20 minutes. I hope you find it helpful!

    8. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We just got a smaller Lumie SAD light this year because the office room only gets late afternoon sun for about an hour (IF there is sun. its been raining seemingly nonstop for weeks now). I put it up high on a bookshelf and turn it on and its like a bright light on all day. Partner and I both grew up in far northern climates with even longer darkness, but this year since we are home all day I figured it was time to bring in the big gun to help keep us sane.

      I’ve noticed it really has helped my mood and I can tell when I haven’t been near it – I don’t get sleepy at 4pm or 6pm anymore. The one we got is about the size of an iPad and can be stood up in portrait or landscape.

      We have cats so no wakeup alarm needed!

    9. ThatGirl*

      We have an inexpensive SAD light from amazon, it looks sort of like a picture frame or an iPad. It’s more for my husband but I think it helps. You don’t stare at it, you put it near your head/face for 30 minutes or so. It’s a little like sitting in the sun, without the heat.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I have something like this, too (also from Amazon), and it’s great. I leave it on for an hour and actually end up feeling really energized afterwards.

    10. Ali G*

      I have 2 lights. I have a wake up light. It’s a small one that starts lighting up 30 min before the set time. It definitely helps me get out of bed. Bonus is it’s small enough to travel with (for when I used to travel for work).
      I also have a UV light (brand is Circadian Rhythms). I use this one during the day. It does help.
      But I have to say, what I have learned is the single best thing you can do it get outside for a walk in the sun (no sunglasses) during the middle of the day. Nothing wakes me up like that does.
      Also, eating clean, not drinking and exercising.

    11. allathian*

      I have both a sunrise alarm clock and a SAD light. The alarm clock is a lifesaver, especially as I hate waking up to a noise. It’s an old Philips one, it was quite expensive but I’ve had it for more than 10 years. We’ve changed the light source once.

      When I worked at the office, I had a small SAD light that was about the same size as an iPad. I had to stop using it, because it started flickering on me. But now that we’re WFH, my husband bought me a new SAD light. It sits next to my computer screen and I keep it on for a couple hours a day. I can’t deal with having a bright light in my face, either. I don’t care if the effect is physiological or merely psychological, but the light does make a difference. That said, now that I’m WFH, I try to go outside for a walk during the day. We live in the suburbs and there’s no lockdown, our authorities are recommending people get as much outdoor exercise as they can.

      1. Helvetica*

        Is it easy to change the light source, i.e. can you do it yourself and find the new bulb easily? Some of the reviews I’ve seen have complained, especially for the SAD lights, that they are impossible to replace once they go out.

        1. mreasy*

          I have never had a problem finding replacement bulbs, have just bought them from the same company who makes the lamp. You have a good point to check on bulb availability before you invest.

        2. allathian*

          The new SAD light won’t be easy to change, the manual says it’s a job for a professional, but it’s LED based and should be good for about 20,000 hours. We’ve replaced the bulb of the alarm clock once in more than 10 years.

    12. fposte*

      I love mine and added a second one for outside the bedroom to make morning as welcoming as possible this year. I have a couple different vintages of Phillips but The Wirecutter recommends a $20 one by HomeLabs as a budget pick.

    13. DistantAudacity*

      I’ve had a Lumie, and it was OK. Then I broke it.

      So, right now I have the much cheaper version of an IKEA wireless lightbulb set on a timer in my bedside lamp (I already had their very affordable control hub, and other wireless light bulbs/switches in my living room).

      For me, it’s enough to be helpful waking up in the morning. Obvs, it’s on/off rather than gradual, but depending on how you’re impacted it can be a simple way to start.
      Bonus if you don’t like it you can always reuse the bulb elsewhere.

    14. Wishing You Well*

      I used a BioLight for years but had to quit due to damage (pinguecula) to my eye. I thought it was minimally helpful but others might find a SAD light very effective. I found exercise to be far more useful for combating SAD.
      If you use one, you don’t look at it directly; you place it in your peripheral view while you do something else.
      Best of Luck

    15. Jackalope*

      Question for those who have responded: can you use the sunrise alarms just for the light without an alarm going off? I couldn’t quite tell from the comments. I already have an alarm I really like but the light in the mornings as I wake up would be super helpful. I have a much harder time getting up in the dark months of the year, and a hard time going back to sleep if I wake up in the middle of the night (as opposed to waking up in the middle of the night in the summer, when I can say, “It’s not time to get up yet, it’s still dark,” roll over, and go back to sleep. Can’t do that if I’m getting up in the dark too since it could be 3 am or just a few min til my alarm goes off and I can’t tell the difference).

      1. Natalie*

        I have 2 different eras of the Phillips sunrise alarm clocks and yes, you can just use them as lights separately from the clock function.

      2. allathian*

        My light alarm starts getting brighter 30 minutes before the alarm goes off, and I almost always wake up in plenty of time before the alarm sounds. If I don’t, it means that I’m well and truly exhausted and I won’t get anything useful done that day anyway. So you could set yours to get brighter 25 minutes before your favorite alarm goes off.

      3. Reba*

        I have a table lamp with a programmable Philips light bulb in it that I use for this purpose. That could be an option if you don’t want all the bells and whistles that come with the wake up light!

    16. Autistic AF*

      I asked family members to buy the (at the time) top-of-the-line Phillips wake-up light for Christmas. It’s still great 5 years later. I have an SAD light that I honestly don’t use anymore as I found it didn’t do much for me, the I love the Phillips light.

    17. bunniferous*

      You can buy “sunlight” light bulbs at the store. Not expensive at all. What I did was take an old lamp and replace the bulb with one. I have the same issues you do and I am trying this out -you do need to limit your exposure so don’t have it on all night but for evening awake hours or for first thing in the morning I am thinking it will be ok. So far so good….

      1. bunniferous*

        I cannot guarantee this would give the same results as the therapeutic lights but it’s so much cheaper that I felt it was worth trying. I definitely can tell the difference in lighting.

    18. Gatomon*

      I have a basic Philips wake-up light, and it makes a huge difference for me in the mornings! Without it I am a crabby angry monster who can’t get up. I do think they’re really really overpriced for what they probably cost to make, so definitely go bargain hunting, but ultimately they are worth it and are solid devices. I’ve had mine for at least 3 or 4 years with no issues. My light just has a 30-minute slow brightening, 10 light levels and then beeps for the final alarm. I really hate the beeps and sometimes think it would be nice to customize the brightening, but the cost of the fancier models puts me off.

      I also recently got a light therapy light box from Verilux, it was ~$50 I think and has also helped me out a lot with feeling better in general.

    19. lily*

      I haven’t tried a sunrise alarm clock but may look into that when I need to wake up earlier. As for SAD light, I hated it. I’m quite light sensitive, I turn on less lights than anyone else I know, and wear sunglasses very frequently. The light is very bright, I get spots in my vision from it, and other people have also said that it’s very bright. I wanted it to work, especially since so many people love them, but I simply couldn’t be within sight of it, let alone right next to it without my eyes hurting.

  10. AM*

    Is anyone else not planning to participate in Halloween this year? If so, are you doing anything to discourage trick-or-treaters from ringing your bell? I don’t know if I should put a sign on my door or if that would backfire. I’ll keep my porch light off, but it doesn’t get dark until almost 7 where I live and I imagine trick or treating starts well before then.
    This is my first Halloween in my new house/neighborhood, so am not sure of the norms. The neighborhood facebook page seems to be in favor of trick-or-treating this year (at least the folks who are vocal on the page) and I didn’t want to invoke a storm of hate by asking there.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Even in normal years we only get like, three trick or treaters, so my habit in previous years has been to just leave the bowl of candy out with Lurch and a sign anyway. This year I won’t be putting out candy, but I might put Lurch out with a “no candy here this year, stay safe” sign just in case.

      (Lurch is a creepy mannequin that the lady I bought my house from left behind. He’s about three feet tall, kind of grey-green in the face, sort of zombie-colored, and wearing a little black suit and red tie. When I was first looking at my house, I went out into the backyard, opened the shed and glanced in, and literally screamed. He stays in the shed except for Halloween, because we’re pretty sure that if we take him out of his shed, he’s going to just reappear one morning, with like a bloody butcher knife or something. So instead we leave him there with the lawnmower, the gas can, and the fire ax. Which is also a little nerve-wracking, if you think about it too hard, but it seems to be working out okay so far.)

    2. nep*

      I would say just keep the house looking ‘shut down’ or as if nobody’s there.
      (I’m truly at a loss about conflict/hate over whether one chooses to participate in such activities even outside of a pandemic, but particularly now. Sheesh.)
      Hope all goes fine for you.

      1. Wisco Disco*

        Trick or treating is pretty low-stakes unless groups are gathering for more than a few minutes without masks. Kids have had so much taken from them due to the pandemic that I’m fine with letting mine participate in modified versions of things they enjoy.

    3. Ilex Oak*

      I’m really bummed about this because passing out candy on Halloween is one of my family’s favorite things but we’re not doing it this year. We usually get a steady stream of kids for the first hour and a trickle after that (it’s from 6-8 PM here). I’m also seeing a lot of vocal support for trick-or-treating on my neighborhood’s Facebook page, but we’ll see if that actually translates into a lot of kids. The kids in my neighborhood are sometimes so eager to get to the well-decorated houses like my next-door neighbor’s that we have to chase them down – once it gets dark, they will miss our house even with the porch light on and us hanging in the driveway with a bowl full of candy. So I wouldn’t worry too much – just keep your porch light off and your door closed.

      Congratulations on your new house!

    4. Laura H.*

      We haven’t gotten a ton of trick or treaters for years. But our houses are also spread out. (Like it was the whole night to get 3/4’s of my street and back when I was that age).

      I did buy some candy for me to nibble on- conveniently I like the trick or treat size candies year round- so if we get some kiddos that can have candy who wander up- I’m okay with sanitizing my hands and popping some treats into a pillow case. I’m not expecting many trick or treaters if any but I’d like to be prudent if there are any kiddos who come to the door. But my street is really good about “lights off=a no go”, even if it doesn’t get dark as early anymore.

    5. MissGirl*

      I’m just going to put a bowl of candy out. I won’t touch it and the kids will be fine. I’ll do cheaper in case it gets grabbed. I wouldn’t do a sign. A couple of my neighbors do signs and it comes off as super passive aggressive and not neighborly. Of course theirs is something like, “No Candy Here; Eat Spinach.” I always wonder why they just don’t turn on the light and not answer the door.

    6. WellRed*

      I polled my general neighborhood on next door and will put out a big bowl on the porch and hang my orange lights. Should any one bypass that and knock, ( real little ones) I’ll answer with mask on.

    7. Asenath*

      I haven’t ‘done’ Halloween in years, initially because no one came to the of the lace i was living then – it was around the back of the building which was the last house at the top of a steep hill leading out of town. When I moved to a place that actually got a trick-or-treater or two, I simply made sure all the lights in the front were off. Some years, I was off doing other things anyway.

    8. Nicole76*

      We only get a handful of kids, if that, due to our area, so I’m not too concerned about it. I did make sure the porch light will be off just in case, though. I actually love giving out candy but between the pandemic and an online event I’m attending at the same time as my village’s trick-or-treat hours, I decided to not bother this year.

    9. fposte*

      I don’t get a ton even in good years so I decided to opt out rather than face a bag of candy I’d just eat on my own. I need to remember to turn off all lights, including the ones on timers and the frameless candles I the windows, and hope nobody comes early.

    10. Llama face!*

      I’m not in a situation where I get trick or treaters but some people I know who are skipping it this year found a sign to put on the door (googled) with a cute rhyme something like this:
      No candy this year
      Sorry for the trouble!
      Come back next year
      And we’ll treat you double!

    11. Epsilon Delta*

      Is there a reason you can’t leave your light off and not answer the door? Or arrange to be out of the house for a few hours? Even when it’s light out it’s easy to see if someone’s porch light is on when you’re trick or treating. I wouldn’t bother with the sign, that could attract people to walk up to your house which you don’t want.

    12. violet04*

      We don’t have children but there are a lot of kids in the neighborhood. People also come in from surrounding areas to trick or treat so we are pretty busy during the night.

      However this past month has been busy and stressful so I haven’t given much thought to Halloween. Also, buying the amount of candy i need can get expensive. I’m keeping the porch light off and lights off in the house.

      We live in a college football town and there’s a big game on during trick or treat time so that may limit the amount of people out and about.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I am opting out. I will double lock my main door and also lock my screen door. If I don’t lock up, the kids will walk right into the house. This can get extra interesting with my 60 pound bouncing mutt. I won’t put up a sign. My light is out, that says it all.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          yeah, right?! Just walk right in. haha. I think it’s because we are pretty rural and everyone knows and/or is related to everyone. So the child probably saw his parents just walking into people’s houses, never realizing there is a bit more context involved and you don’t walk into a stranger’s house.

          It was a benign thing, the kids had no intention of doing anything wrong. They were def puzzled and surprised by my reaction. I had it happen twice. Both times I’d guess the kids to be about 6-7 y/o. I was more concerned about the child being safe than anything else. I did talk to them about staying with their parents/group and not walking into houses of people they don’t know.

          The whole thing surprised me because collectively parents around here are very watchful of their kids. I was surprised to see no parent around. That is really unusual. But I keep my door locked now in between trick-or- treaters.

    14. Anona*

      I’m setting out a bowl of candy on the steps.

      I don’t think the surface transmission risk is very big, and there are so few kids in our neighborhood anyways.

      1. Overeducated*

        Same. My own kid actually suggested an indoor candy hunt, so we bought only good chocolate mixes and half will be inside, half out in a bowl.

    15. ampersand*

      My neighborhood gets a huge influx of trick or treaters from surrounding neighborhoods, plus all the kids that live here, but this year most of our neighbors–and we–aren’t doing Halloween. It’s super disappointing because it’s so much fun, and it’s on a weekend this year, and there’s a full moon! In a normal year it would be awesome. Alas. Most of us will have our porch lights turned off, though some people are putting out a bowl of candy and a few others are doing candy chutes from their porches. I think most people know that a turned off porch light=no candy to be had, so I’m hopeful it’s clear we’re not participating.

    16. bunniferous*

      I’m not going to be home. When I lived in neighborhoods with trick or treaters I would provide candy but I don’t celebrate myself-the easiest thing is to find somewhere else to be, which is not all that easy during these times, I get it. Do you need to make a grocery run/fast food run/etc anyway? Then pick prime trick or treating time to do that. Otherwise if you need to be home I would just put a bowl of candy on the porch and call it a night.

    17. Summersun*

      We never do trick-or-treat. Keeping the front lights off and the house looking dark has always sufficed; amount of daylight has never mattered.

    18. Southern Metalsmith*

      I’m currently sitting on a bench on my front stoop drinking wine and petting the cat.

      We rigged up a system with 8 feet of 4″ PVC pipe zip tied to the banisters running down the steps. We painted the pipe to look like rolls of lifesavers. Then we got some solar powered rope light to direct the children to the grass at the foot of the stairs. When the kids come along, I pop on my witch’s hat and throw candy down the chute. So far it’s been a hit!

      Someone in the neighborhood must be having a party, I keep hearing faint music noises. Who knew people are still doing the Macarena!

    19. Teal*

      Any kids end coming by AM?

      I left the lights off at my house and a few groups of kids still came to my door. I felt bad! I wasn’t going to leave a bowl out (inevitable some hands would touch other pieces), but I could have left spaced out candy and restocked as needed.

      My dad accidentally left the lights on at my parent’s house in their very family-friendly, suburban SoCal neighborhood and not a single kid showed up!

    20. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I did not. I had my lights off, and was actually upstairs working on prepping a room for painting. My house probably looked fairly unoccupied. No one knocked at least.

    21. RagingADHD*

      In most places, a lack of decorations + lack of porch light is enough.

      Lots of people don’t celebrate Halloween at all, for various reasons. It’s fine to just opt out.

      We had about half the trick or treaters we normally get, and my kids said there were noticeably fewer houses than usual.

      We normally put up a table and sit outside. We serve hot cider to the grownups in addition to passing our candy, and lots of neighbors stop to chat.

      This year, none of that, and we strung lights across the steps and used a candy chute. I’d say about a third of the kids wore facemasks. But since it’s outdoors and they were mostly single families together, that makes sense.

    22. Marion Ravenwood*

      Honestly I never participate in Halloween if I can help it. I’ll usually buy some sweets just in case of trick or treaters, but I generally keep my front room lights off so it looks like I’m not home. Plus it’s usually a work night for me so that helps. (In fairness though, I’m mostly OK with trick or treaters – the main reason I dislike it is gives people who are usually old enough to know better an excuse to get drunk, behave like idiots and scare random strangers.)

  11. WWYD Jury Duty Edition*

    I live in a very isolated rural area in a European country that’s experiencing a moderate surge right now. I got a summons for Jury Duty at the end of next month. It would require 2 weeks of going into a large city whose infection rate is higher than where I currently live. I do not qualify for any exemption or excusal. Social distancing is in place, mask are strongly encouraged but not required, and I have no idea what the ventilation situation is going to be.

    I feel strongly that it’s my responsibility and that if everyone tried to get excused because pandemic, the court system collapses. I am middle-aged and fairly healthy. I live with a partner and a child. If I were on my own, it would not be a question in my mind, but I am torn between what I owe my family (and my community) vs what I owe as a citizen.

    Would you go to jury duty under these circumstances? (It might end of being a moot point if restrictions come into place though.)

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      What kind of ramifications do you face if you don’t go? In (most of?) the US, if you’re summoned for jury duty and you just don’t show up, depending on the jurisdiction, you might get fined or otherwise face legal consequences. So personally, I would (well, first I would defer, which my jurisdiction allows me to do online without excuse at least once, but if that wasn’t an option) take all the precautions I could and go. (I’m not sure whether I’m middle-aged – I’ll be 40 before the end of the year, so however that counts – and healthy, with a partner who has to be at work full-time in person, though I work at home, so those are my personal risk factors.)

    2. WS*

      I would ask questions: what protections are in place, what happens if a juror gets coronavirus, where do you eat/stay/work while you’re on the jury and what protections are there…find out as much as you can to make your decision. I’m in Victoria, Australia, and jury trials have been ceased here to restart with social distancing next January, so it’s quite possible that as the infection rates go up, the same will happen where you are.

      Are you responsible for anyone who is at high risk? Will you be able to quarantine before you see that person? Personally, I work in health care but my mother is high risk, so I haven’t seen her in person since January and may not for a long time yet.

    3. Laura H.*

      Can you call the courthouse and ask what measures they are taking?

      And is a jury summons a guarantee of service in one? Here (US) you’re part of a pool that potential jurors are pulled from for the summons, and then it’s further shrank from there on a case by case basis (one summoned jury pool for a trial).

      Good luck. :)

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I second calling the courthouse and asking a LOT of questions before deciding about jury duty. You’ll have to decide what’s best for you to do.
        Jury trials are not happening in my area in the U.S. due to Covid. Sorry you’re going through this.

    4. Blue Eagle*

      I would go but these are the precautions I would take:
      – wear a KN95 face mask
      – wear a plastic face guard over the mask
      – wear easily washable clothes and take them off immediately upon returning home.
      Wishing you all of the best with this uncomfortable situation.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I would plan like I was going to go, so I had the things in place that I would need. Then I’d hope like all heck I didn’t have to go.

      About two weeks before hand, I would first check the website for the court and see what that says. Then I’d call the court for additional information. Here in the US we have a separate official, “The Commissioner of Jurors”. This is a person who creates a pool of candidates for selection as jurors. If you have such an official you can check there also.
      Keep in mind that even two weeks ahead of your date is still “early”. So I would check every fews days on the website(s) for updates. And I would definitely call the day before.

      I don’t condone lying. HOWEVER, if you sincerely do not feel well as the date draws closer, then that stands alone as reason to opt out. I get that you want to do your duty. But you cannot serve your household and/or your country by pushing yourself into a situation when you do not feel well at the start. Where I’d land with all this is to say, “I will try my best to get there but I will use common sense and good judgement also.”

    6. LGC*

      As a lot of people noted, you might not have a choice. Although I’m not sure how jury duty works in your country – a lot of people have explained how it works in the US normally. (Where you’re summoned for one day and then you get selected for further service.)

      Barring any penalties you might incur, all you can do is minimize whatever risks you can. I’m really sorry that you’re being forced into this situation.

    7. WWYD Jury Duty Edition*

      Thanks for the good advice. I hadn’t thought about getting KN95 masks, but of course, that makes a lot of sense. I can enter my house through the utility room, where the washing machine is, and plan to put my clothes directly into the washing machine if I do need to go into the courthouse.

      The way it works here is that you are obligated to go each day for two weeks, regardless of whether you are on a jury. And say on the first day, you get on a trial that lasts 3 days, after those 3 days, you would still be obligated to return every day for the rest of the two weeks. You might get released for a day early, but you still must be there every day of the 2 weeks. The consequence of not attending is a fairly hefty fine, which I believe is levied each day you are not there that you should be. My partner and I discussed just paying the fine, but we couldn’t really afford 2 weeks of the fine. (And I don’t know ethically how I feel about paying a fine to avoid it. I mean, I feel icky but in ways I cannot really articulate.)

      I am not responsible for anyone who is high risk. I’ve been taking things very seriously and have been working from home since March and have also greatly cut back on all my social contacts. I am not so much worried about being on an actual jury as I am about all the waiting around that’s typically part of the process. I will have to see about how to ask a lot of questions about that aspect of it.

      And definitely, if I had any symptoms of any illness, I would not be going on those days. The information that came with the summons said to contact your doctor for any Covid symptoms and not to go in if you feel ill.

    8. Enough*

      Don’t believe you can actually leave the premises. I couldn’t (PA). I worked the polls at a church. They sold food and they supplied us lunch or you bring your own.

  12. germank106*

    Crochet Thread: What’s everyone working on?
    The blanket that I started at the beginning of this month is finally done. Yay, now I can go back to knitting for the rest of the year. My husband decided he wants a sweater as a Christmas present. I ordered the yarn last night, hopefully it will get here within a week.

    1. Xenia*

      Does cross stitch count? If so, I’m working on a Harry Potter stitch-a-long. Lots of fiddly little stitches but it’s starting to look very cool.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Still stash-busting! Scarves and blankets for everyone! I’ve also made a bunch of cup cozies now that we’re deep into hot beverage season.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Dishcloths to use up this ugly old ball of variegated cotton. I made a thick scrub pad too, we’ll see how it feels to use.
      I’m doing one with 2 strands and the additional white does make the variegated pink/orange/red/white less hellish. Hoping it will be a potholder.
      Annoyed with myself for being so disorganized that I can’t find my circular size 7 knitting needles and swatch in progress because I kind of wanted to work on my sweater.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        SIDE TRACK: I decided to start posting some pics of these things to Ravelry. It’s very hard on me to not fill in the details of yarn, hook, etc., because I’m a bit compulsive that way. But some of these are things I finished long ago… some of the yarn, was given by friends when they learned I was learning to knit & crochet. Hook size? Dunno. Yarn? Well, it’s cotton…

    4. Tortally HareBrained*

      I’m supposed to be starting on a baby sweater that my grandmother wants to give as a gift. Not at all motivated, hoping I can convince her to let me make a blanket instead. I’ve been wanting an excuse to make another Daisy Farm Crafts gingham but with a different stitch.

      1. germank106*

        Tell your grandmother that Babies outgrow sweaters amazingly fast, but a blanket will last for much longer than that.

        1. Tortally HareBrained*

          That’s exactly what we decided! She also realized the weather and the size she asked me to make didn’t line up; so blanket it is! This will be a much more pleasant project for all of us now.

  13. Living near Main Street and horribly depressed*

    This isn’t something that this forum is able to handle here, but there are people who are trained to help you. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, where you can reach a trained crisis worker 24/7, at 800-273-8255. They will help. – Alison

    1. All the cats 4 me*

      All the best. Please reach out to someone and tell them how serious it is. Allow them to help you. Yes, you do deserve help.

  14. nep*

    Anyone have favorite sources of coffee samples? My coffee life has been quite flat of late. I use a press and buy an average-price French roast from local stores. I want to try some other kinds/brands, but would rather not go for a whole bag in case I don’t love it. I see that some companies sell sample packs and I’m thinking I might give that a shot.
    Also, just general recommendations from coffee connoisseurs/coffee lovers welcome.

    1. Lady Meyneth*

      You could check if there are any coffee subscription services around your region. My husband is a coffee lover, and he took a subscription where they send him a different coffee type every 2 weeks or so. In his service, you can choose the frequency and size of the delivery (prices vary), and also the roast of the beans.

    2. mreasy*

      There are subscription services like Driftaway that send you samples to determine your favorite profile, then send you different coffees based on your favorites. I have considered trying them, but honestly just end up buying different 12 oz bags with descriptors and regions I know I like. But it sounds like a fun way to go!

    3. Generic Name*

      World Market usually has small stocking stuffer sized packages of coffee. They have a bunch out around the holidays, but I think they have some year round.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am not a fan of French roast as it always seems not quite right to me. I’d suggest getting another blend made by the same company.

    5. germank106*

      Beanbox.com has sampler packages and subscription boxes. Their prices range from $25.00 – $100.00. Peets Coffee has small batch subscription boxes for around $20.00. Boca Java has a set of 5 samplers. Not sure if you can choose which ones you want. I sometimes order their Caribbean green tea which is quite good.

      1. merope*

        I started the Beanbox subscription (the small sample sizes version was on special) and I am enjoying it! I don’t know what kind of coffee I like best, and I am enjoying finding out. They sample from a variety of small roasters in the Seattle/Portland area, and if you find a kind you like you can easily order a larger bag. I didn’t know coffee could take so different from bag to bag!

    6. Redhairrunner*

      Do you have any local coffee shops that sell their coffee by weight? I have been in a few coffee shops that do that so you could get a sample sized bag and find something you love.

      1. Knitter*

        Yeah, this was my suggestion. I get most of my coffee from a very small local chain. The rest I get from the grocery store but is a local roaster and I first tried their coffee at restaurants and their bakery/cafe.

      2. Kt*

        My local co-op grocery actually sells coffee in bulk, so it’s easy to try just a bit. They have a grinder if you need it.

        I’d also suggest trying different roasts. When I was younger I liked french or dark roast; now I prefer medium or sometimes even light depending on the bean. I taste more flavors in the lighter roasts. It probably doesn’t hurt that there is more caffeine as well :)

    7. Femme d'Afrique*

      I love coffee and, while I’m obviously biased (lol) I love coffee from Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. I don’t know what companies supply sample packs in the US, but I highly recommend you check out the coffee from those countries.

    8. pancakes*

      I can’t remember if you’re in the US. My favorite local coffee shop, Porto Rico Importing Co. (yes, spelled that way) is having their annual sale. I don’t know if they sell samplers but you definitely don’t have to order a full pound of any particular beans, and they’ve been roasting coffee since the early 1900s.

    9. Squeakrad*

      We only use whole beans and I’ve never seen a place that sells whole being sample packs. With so many purveyor selling 12 ounce bags or 8 ounce bags for under $15, isn’t there someone you could give a bag to if you didn’t like the particular blend?

  15. Anon Animal Lover*

    I am looking into building a charity for spay/neuter for my area, and am open to suggestions.

    I participated in a rescue’s successful Spay Day this week! There were a dozen cats and everything went well. There are plans for another day or two, although I keep quietly hoping we could have dozens of these days. Still, it was so good to have even one day and know that about 110 fewer kittens will be born next summer. Take it one day at a time, appreciate what we have done, and take opportunities when given them.

    Have you had a good week with your pet? Any highlights to share?

    1. Scc@rlettNZ*

      Every cat spayed or neutered is a success! Well done.

      I’ve spent the weekend in my happy place – hanging out in my mosaic studio while our two cats snooze beside me on their beds :-)

      1. Anon Animal Lover*

        Sounds like a lovely weekend. Whenever I see animals snoozing in beds I wish that I could join them…

    2. Bibliovore*

      Our eleven-week-old puppy totally enjoyed the snow and has been a delight these dark dark days. No annectdotes yet but she surprised us by running to the porch door and sitting when she needed to eliminate.

    3. Paperwhite*

      I’ve been watching a show about a clinic/set of clinics called Planned Pethood International. It may be worth contacting them for pointers on free/low cost spay & neuter clinics — they have them frequently.

  16. Lady Meyneth*

    Hi all! I need some advice from dog lovers!

    I just rescued a pup this week. She was apparently born at a hoarder’s place, and the hoarding was so bad nobody even knew there were animals in there until this week’s intervention. Do not get me started on how badly those anumals were beig treated. Anyway, she’s supposed to be around 10 months old, had never gone outside at all and is terrified of open places. She will not venture into the yard at all and, since my home is open concept, she keeps shaking in fear any time we take 2 steps away from her. Does anyone have tips on how to get her more comfortable?

    Crating doesn’t help. She was kept in a very small cage for days at a time (and wasn’t often fed while inside, the cats in that place must have fed her and taught her to hunt for bugs), so she absolutely will not go into a crate. She’s increadibly loving, but all this fear is really breaking my heart. :'(

    1. nep*

      Bless you for taking in this pup. I don’t have much experience with dogs and don’t have advice. Just popping in to say thanks for taking care of her and I hope with time things will smooth out and she will adjust to her new home.

    2. TW*

      Can you make a smaller safe space for her without her feeling like it’s a crate? I’m imagining like a large blanket fort or one of those large kids play pens. Then you can slowly let her get more used to open spaces without it being too much too fast.

      1. Lady Meyneth*

        We’ve tried the blanket fort, but she doesn’t stay when we move away. She’ll follow either me or my husband, and then start shaking when we get somewhere more open. A kids play pen could be an idea though, thanks.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A child sized play tent might be a portable alternative, and I’d suggest the kind that springs open on its own — if its hard to put back into storage it is also unlikely to collapse.during play time. Then as she imptoved, you could take it to new places you are introducing to her.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Oh, poor baby. I *have* dogs, but mine are fairly low maintenance, so I am certainly not a dog-training EXPERT. So apply a pinch of salt to this advice as necessary. :)

      Does she stay when you move away? If so, you could start by sitting next to her on the floor, scoot away a little bit, and toss her a high-value treat. When she’s a little better settled, scoot away a little bit more and repeat. You could also try distracting her with something like a frozen kong or a licky-mat, to basically just keep her distracted a while and hopefully not focusing on the big space.

      This feels a little backwards, and speaking from (a much less extreme) experience it can be super hard to do, but it’s super important that you don’t make a big deal out of coming back to her – that just emphasizes that the going away really is A Big Deal too. The goal is for going away and coming back to become just, eh, whatever. So you have to keep both parts pretty low key, even though it’s really tempting to make a big deal out of the coming back to make her feel better. (This is more of a separation anxiety thing than a “afraid of big spaces” thing, but I feel like there’s probably a little bit of overlap if she gets scared when you move away?)

      1. Lady Meyneth*

        She follows us pretty closely when we move away, and when my husband carried her outside she shook in his lap the entire time and refused to even look up from his shoulder. That’s why we think it’s more about the openness then any separation issues.

        The scooting away method will probably help though, at the very least she won’t feel like she has to follow her new humans all the time instead of continuing her naps.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          no, that totally makes sense and I think you’re probably right about the open spaces. I’d definitely try something that could be a long-term distraction to keep her busy — hopefully it’s something she’ll grow out of, once she realizes she’s in a good happy place now, and you’re just needing to basically get her over the hump! Peanut butter or a little bit of plain yogurt frozen in a Kong or on a licky-mat can be a good option, if you have somewhere she can work on it without making a mess. Some of her daily kibble allotment in a slow-feeder or puzzle toy, maybe?

          I saw the playpen suggestion up above — you can also get basically freestanding exercise pens, the one I used looked like it was part of a standard metal crate, so that might be a no-go but you can get plastic ones too. They’re 8-ish panels that hook together and make an enclosure, and you can fold them up when you’re done, or if you at some point need a super wide gate you can put them end-to-end rather than in a circle or such. (I have no idea how those compare price-wise to playpens, so if you don’t already have a playpen, it’s another similar option you can consider :) )

          1. Ali G*

            I agree with all this. Also you say you are working with a trainer, but you might consider a behaviorist. A trainer, does just that – trains. Which is great for most dogs. But dogs with anxiety or fear need us to understand the source of their fear so we can counter it. Also, anti-anxiety meds might be a good option for you. My dog has been on Prozac for close to 4 years and they have been some of the better years of the past 6 since we moved in with my husband (dog had lots of anxiety and it manifested in resources guarding me).

        2. Jaid*

          This may sound weird, but Chewy sells the ThunderCap Calming Cap. “The Calming Cap reduces the visual stimulus that makes a dog agitated by filtering his/her vision. The single-panel sheer fabric window makes the dog’s vision indistinct, while allowing the dog to easily navigate his surroundings”

          Just a thought about slowly introducing the pupper to the concept of open space visually, too.

    4. Dog and Cat fosterer*

      It’s going to be a painful balance between building her trust and not making her too dependent on you because you want to avoid separation anxiety.

      How food motivated is she?

      Building a safe space is likely going to be really important for her. There are metal and plastic crates, so maybe try the opposite of what she was kept in? Fill it with a soft bed and soft animal toys and chewy toys, feed her in there so she associates it with good things, and don’t force her to go in. A frozen kong is the most popular bonus, and many dogs love pure chicken so putting chicken and peanut butter in a kong and freezing it could keep her well distracted for a while. If she won’t go into any crate then consider a cloth playpen (depends on her size as they are too small for big dogs), or there are wire pens which can take any size of dog and you might put a sheet over the wire to make it seem less crate-like. The other key is to slowly build up her time in there, so start with seconds at first and build up to minutes over time.

      Reducing fear is done by having a safe space, and by building a trusting relationship with you by doing training. I suggested feeding in a safe space, but it would be good to feed most of the food from your hand as rewards for training. Get her to sit, lay down, wait… anything that occupies her mind and distracts her. After a couple weeks of building your relationship, she should be more willing to try new things. How quickly you can introduce new things will depend on her. Training is all about small steps, so reward extra seconds or one extra step closer to the goal. Or with fearful dogs I start by rewarding them with tasty treats when they look in the direction of something they dislike, for example I had a dog who was terrified of other dogs so I took her outside and got her to sit near me, and when another dog walked by I would Yes!-treat as soon as she looked at the dog. I had spent a week working on the Yes!-treat relationship, so that when she first glanced at the other dog and I said Yes! she knew to turn and look to me for food, so I caught her before she reacted negatively out of fear (she became a snarling beast).

      Hopefully these help. If not then feel free to ask for more.

      1. Dog and cat fosterer*

        Forgot my other go-to’s for fearful dogs.

        People should approach the dog to the side (with their shoulders twisted slightly to one side, with their head also to the side and not looking directly at the dog). A dog that approaches another directly is being assertive, and fearful dogs are more comforted by humans that aren’t direct either.

        The other is to have people pet the chin, not pat the head. It is best practice to scritch every chin and not pat any new dog, but especially important for fearful dogs. It is the human saying “I have confidence in you”. It doesn’t matter with most dogs but is really useful with those who need it.

    5. pet lover*

      I don’t know if this would work with a dog, but what if you just kept her in one room for a bit, until she got used to that space then to the larger area of the house. Or is there a way to create artificial smaller areas in your house, with screens or moving furniture around so it looks smaller and more manageable? That way you can slowly move those further apart as she gets comfortable. Good luck and thank you for taking her on.

    6. B*

      1. Talk to your vet. There might be meds that can support. Or a thunder vest
      2. These are trauma reactions. Maybe research best practices for supporting dogs through trauma. Is it a small dog. I think wearing it in a front pack (like a baby) might be soothing. Really good treats for every baby step toward independence in stressful situations. You can make homemade treats. Go with meat based.
      3 don’t expect too much too fast. This dog might struggle with some things for a long time. It adapted to a bad situation.
      I am grateful for you and your care to this sweet dog.

      1. Katniss Evergreen*

        Seconding meds! I have a friend who now is the mama to a lovely rescue greyhound, who has always been lovely, but has far fewer fears and anxieties (and resulting indoor accidents) now that she has been on Prozac for a few months. Same deal with the crate, and unfortunate maltreatment that will mean she never grows hair on her knees/haunches, but thankfully she can be a real dog now. I’m sorry for the puppy and her prior circumstances, but so happy that she’s with people working this hard to get her what she needs to be comfortable <3 you guys are great. Good luck!

      1. Lady Meyneth*

        We’ve called a trainer and he’ll work with her next week. But since my are is still spiking with COVID cases and I’m high risk, he’s just giving us remote sections and honestly I’m not sure how effective those will be :(

    7. Max Kitty*

      There is a group called National Mill Dog Rescue. Sadly, they probably deal with this type of situation a lot, and they might have some suggestions.

      1. Lady Meyneth*

        Oh, this is great! I’ve checked out their page and it seems like a really good resource, and maybe a good group to support on the long run. Thank you!

    8. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Besides all the tips and tricks other people are giving, time will help. Right now everything is all so NEW for her. She was living in a hellhole this time just last week, right? Next week this strange weird new place she is living will be a bit less strange, a bit less weird and a bit less new. My biggest advice would be to see what a few weeks do for her confidence.

      Have you tried a big blanket over the kitchen table for her hiding place?

      1. Natalie*

        Yes, this is what I was going to add. You might find reading up on the “2 week shutdown” concept a lot of people recommend for shelter dogs.

        Also, with any trainer you work with, if they start talking about force or dominance, find a new trainer. “Alpha” theory is bullshit when applied to normal dogs but for anxious dogs it can make things tremendously worse.

    9. shoutouts*

      Poor thing. I hope the trainer has some good strategies. Our neighbors fostered a puppy mill dog recently and she was scared to death of the outdoors. She had spent her whole life in a cage in a barn. She was with the neighbors for about 3 weeks and they did see progress, although it could be 2 steps forward, 1 step back. Their approach was to have a highly structured day, and keep taking the dog out on leash. She would shake and cry and tremble, but the human would be a tree and not give attention to the fear.

    10. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Dogs like this often do better if there is another well-adjusted dog in the home. They look to it for cues; if the other dog is not anxious, that helps. Obviously you are not going to get another dog now, but if your dog generally gets along with other dogs, can you borrow a really laid-back dog for a day or more?

      1. Generic Name*

        This is great advice. One of the reasons my pup is such a great dog is my husband’s elderly dog helped to train her and teach her how to be a dog.

      2. A Non E. Mouse*

        I agree you should try some other stuff first, but our lab didn’t get over his severe separation anxiety until we got a second dog. It was like his own emotional support animal (and I’m not being funny: I’m serious).

    11. Hotdog not dog*

      It may take a long time for him to settle in. Ours was rescued from a neglectful situation and it took him several months to acclimate to being a pet. He still has some quirks, including separation anxiety, 5 years later. It’s manageable though. We worked with a behaviorist, which was really helpful. Walks were (and still are) key. By walking together the dog learns to trust you, and it helps to burn off some of the anxiety. There’s good reason for the saying, “a tired dog is a good dog.”

    12. Jackalope*

      My favorite source for training info is Karen Prior (Don’t Shoot the Dog); she doesn’t talk about trauma a ton but has a lot of good ideas on how to make an activity good for the trainee instead of stressful.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      It’s really hard to watch something so young struggle so hard.

      There are natural things you can use for calming. While you are sorting your preferences you can start feeding her some turkey. Yep, food downers. Health food stores have calming products for pets. Or you can check with your vet.

      Teach her the phrase, “it’s okay”. I get so much use out of this phrase. Once they figure out it’s a reassurance, I can use it in many types of settings. It takes a bit for them to catch on to what the phrase means. Use it a lot, so they hear, “I am in control and I will keep both of us safe.”

      Teach her to play. She probably does not know how. Maybe roll a ball around on the floor. Practice sending the ball a little further and further away from you. Be silly. Giggle. Let her see you chuckling so she can learn about what a “happy human” looks like. Remember she will tend to copy you. So if you seem tense and worried then she will drift in that direction. Smile at her a lot, let her see you are pleased with her. (This might be hard at first, so just act pleased over simple and mundane things.)

      If she likes chewies, maybe try that when you are home with her. They can burn up excess (nervous) energy when they have something to chew on.

      My dog was high energy and nervous. I could not crate him, he looked like he was going to have a heart attack, he was that afraid. So I kept him loose in my kitchen. I puppy-proofed, I put child locks on the cabinets. I removed all small items and anything of sentimental value from his level.

      Kind of a silly question, but does she see how to navigate your home? Can she find her water and food if she is in a different room? Even if you have to carry or walk with her from room to room, try to get her oriented to her new space by going in and out of the rooms or areas.

      I read a great story about a neglected dog in a Chicken Soup book. The dog had been so neglected that it did not respond to people at all. A woman picked it up and carried the dog with her as she went about her day. If she did not pick it up, it did not follow her. After a few weeks, the dog “came to”, it started acting like a bouncing happy dog. And it followed her. Everywhere. Even into the shower/tub. This is what gratitude looks like.

      I think one week is too soon to try to teach the dog to be without you, and it’s too soon to expect the pup NOT to cling to you. They have JUST found you. I’d teach it how to “be with you”. My previous dog followed me a lot. So I taught the dog, “This is your spot. Lay down.” And I’d put a blanket on the floor of whatever room I was going to be using for a bit. Sure enough, the dog learned to lay down where I showed him and he would stay there. At night, “his spot” was at the foot of my bed. My kitchen table has four legs, as opposed to the pedestal style. I put a small rug under the table between the legs. When I was in the kitchen, his spot was under the table. I could work without falling on him and he could still be with me.

      My last suggestion is very odd and won’t appeal to everyone. My family member had a Katrina dog. Like you show here the dog was glued to my relative and loaded with fear. My relative was able to do a reiki circle with the dog. Within 12 hours whatever shackled or encumbered that dog was GONE. The dog became a happy animal. If this appeals to you, you’d want to find a practitioner with experience with traumatized animals.
      Or maybe a dog whisperer type person.

    14. TL -*

      Honestly, time and consistency is your best bet here. Pup’s gonna be scared for a while; there’s no magic bullet for that.

      Consistency, kindness, and don’t freak out over the anxiety – you’ll only escalate it. Just give a bit of calm reassurance or calmly provide a distraction and then move on with you day. Let her build up trust in the new stability of things – she’ll learn that there’s nothing to fear eventually, it’ll just take time.

    15. ShinyPenny*

      On an immeadiate practical level, maybe try to help the dog create a Safe Spot (a room, a crate, a tent, a bed). My trauma-dog clung to his bed–it was his one safe(r) spot in a terrifying universe, for months. He could not tolerate it being moved to different locations, but I was able to create secondary “safe spot beds” in other rooms over time (made with identical material).

      Also, let the dog freeze and just observe anything she needs to process–for as long as she needs to observe. My dog (still!) frequently freezes for over 10 minutes, during which he cannot hear or process anything else. Our lives improved vastly when I began understanding this, and protecting his right to do this. The “thing” he is processing might be a motorcycle engine 5 miles away, or an invisible bird 20 feet away in the bushes, or an alarm clock in a house halfway down the block– that you might never notice. So, if my dog freezes I believe him, and let him take whatever time he needs. Not doing this makes his trauma worse.

      On a theory level, it turns out that dogs also can be neuro-typical, or not– which can really complicate trauma recovery. I’ve adopted traumatized adult dogs before, and all successfully turned around in 6 or 8 weeks. However, I’ve had my current pup for 6 years (he was about three when I adopted him) and he will never be really ok. He is on 5 psychiatric medications because I believe he deserves to experience some peace and happiness in this life, and the medications make that possible. Behavioral veterinarians are a thing! I wish I’d found one sooner.

      So– practically: If you get any feeling that your vet/your trainer doesn’t really “get” how traumatized and damaged your dog is, be ready to say, “Stop. Don’t do that.” Even though they are the professionals. “First, do no harm” is incredibly applicable to some damaged dogs. So, the red flags are: emphasis on obedience, using command tones, and requiring eye contact. Yellow flags are: all those things, but at such a reduced degree that everyone thinks it is appropriate. Of course, those 3 things actually WILL help a vast majority of non-traumatized neurotypical pet dogs, while even positive/reward-based training has traumatizing aspects for my dog. So the real question is whether your trainer has ever worked with dogs like yours.

      Anyway, these are all things I wish I had known when I adopted my trauma dog. I wish you the very best of luck. I hope your pup recovers quickly and completely, and that you don’t need any of this at all!

    16. Almost Academic*

      Have you read “Don’t Shoot the Dog” by Karen Pryor? You can pick it up for about $9 on amazon usually. It really is the best basic book out there on behaviorist philosophy for working with animals. I think a lot of the sections on shaping behavior and reinforcement would be helpful to you here as you start working with your dog. You might have to go a lot slower than a typical reinforcement schedule, but it should work. I also highly recommend not just looking for a trainer for your dog, but a behaviorist that specializes in working with animals in a trauma-informed way. Your vet and/or animal control in the local area may have recommendations.

    17. Bibliovore*

      no advice but just to say, it does get better. Our traumatized dog took about months to stop shaking when triggered. But five years later she has episodes but life is not a constant PTSD experience.

  17. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    Happy Halloween, everyone!
    As much as we love Halloween, we are already thinking several holidays ahead and have been thinking a lot about our annual tradition to make a gazillion Christmas cookies and send them to friends and family. We’re second-guessing ourselves: Is that appropriate this year? If they come in the mail, will people quarantine the cookies for 3-4 days, meaning they’ll be stale by the time they’re eaten? Is it squicky to bring cookies into work now (one co-worker already brought and the cookies were indeed eaten)? Curious for thoughts on this as we start planning this cookie extravaganza weeks in advance. Thanks!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I would check with the people you’d be sending them to and find out their comfort levels with such a thing. I usually do a similar cookie extravaganza and probably won’t be this year personally, but I decided that for my own reasons before I got to the part about asking my usual recipients.

    2. Laura H.*

      Seconding the checking.

      As an aside, I’m kinda over the whole no hugging thing- I’m a hugger. BUT I don’t initiate hugs- I know my comfort level but I don’t know theirs. I’m not gonna freak out if a friend hugs me- I’m sorry, sometimes you need a hug from someone who isn’t family. Usually I’m at that point when I get hugged. I know why it’s frowned upon, and again I don’t initiate, but I’m not gonna turn down a hug if a friend asks for one.

      Anyway, to the matter at hand, ask around, and taking extra precautions wouldn’t hurt either.

      Another option if the recipe makes an outrageous amount, freeze the dough in dozens- I think when we did it one year, we lightly cut the dough into segments so it was like the pull apart and bake stuff you get at the store. That way you can bake them if you need a pick me up.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Most basic cookie doughs freeze great, yes! I just parcel all mine out into dough balls on a cookie sheet (all super close together) and pop them in the freezer overnight, then dump the individual balls into a ziplock bag with baking instructions written on and put those back in the freezer. I bake them straight from frozen, just add an extra 1-2 minutes to the bake time, and I’ve had them still taste delicious even up to a year later. (I experimented on myself and my knowing household, haha, I didn’t send other folks year-old freezer cookies.)

      2. Girasol*

        Me too, but in half dozens for the toaster oven. They’re gone before they cool so we’re not tempted to finish a big batch. We have a dozen recipes that bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, so I can make several batches and make mixed bags of frozen dough balls.

    3. WellRed*

      I agree to see who would welcome them. From what I understand, food and other objects do not need to be quarantined but everyone has their own comfort level.

    4. Xenia*

      I’d send a text or call to check with them first. Personally, I’d have no problem with them—if I trusted someone enough to eat their hand-made stuff before, I still trust them now. But it’s definitely up to individual comfort level.

    5. Lyudie*

      Nthing the checking with folks, though I’d note a couple things on the quarantining of cookies: it sounds like surfaces in general are not really a vector (last I heard, I am happy to be corrected if new info has come out) and only the outer packaging would be contaminated at by the time it arrives, I would think. It would probably take a couple of days to arrive, and the inner packaging (tin/tupperware/etc) would not have been exposed to anything while in transit. Personally, if someone sent me cookies, I’d toss the outer box, wash my hands, wipe down the container, and stuff my face happily. But maybe others will feel differently.

    6. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Thanks, all. Checking with my intended recipients before sending was kind of my gut feeling, but I wanted to be sure.

      1. Sydney girl*

        Also if you are worried about postage delays try ANZAC biscuits. There were sent from Australia to troops overseas in WWI and last a long time because they have no egg!! Not your traditional Christmas bikkie but then again – what has been normal in 2020?!

    7. RagingADHD*

      I think folks who are still quarantining packages are outliers at this point.

      We have 7 months of data & experience now. We can see clearly where the spread is happening, and why. If covid were spread in the mail, the outbreaks would be evenly distributed.

    8. Esmeralda*

      Covid is not a food borne illness. Unless you are sneezing or spitting on cookies and someone is then eating them pretty soon after, I don’t see any reason to not send cookies thru the mail. If you’re baking cookies, wrapping them, putting them in tins, and sending thru the mail, they should be fine. Mail/fed ex/ups takes a few days anyway, days in which the virus (if it’s even there in significant numbers) has time to degrade (time, heat will both affect it).

      Even food that is contaminated with Covid spit wouldn’t need to be quarantined for two weeks. Quarantines are to ensure that people do not spread the disease within the incubation period.

  18. Sunflower*

    Any cheap/little things i can do to spruce up a cloth couch that cats have gotten to?

    It’s not terribly scratched up but there are a decent amount of thread pulls. The couch is also white. I’m moving in a few months so picked up this used couch from my neighbor for convenience. Don’t wanna spend too much $$ but I would definitely like to re-sell it!

    1. Worked in IT forever*

      I would get a cheap throw or two or three and cover the parts of the couch the cats like—arms, back, seat. That’s what we had to do to try to preserve the couches at our place.

      We bought fleece throws from Lands End. They come in different colours and are very washable. Lands End constantly has discounts, so you should be able to get them for 40% off without waiting too long. (Like right now, actually.) The cats like them, and they don’t look bad. If someone is coming over, which hasn’t happened for months here, we just pull off the throws temporarily.

    2. fposte*

      Agree with the throws. That doesn’t address the resale value, but honestly, unless you’re in a very furniture limited area, a cat-damaged third-hand couch is a better prospect for “free for anybody who will haul it away” anyway.

      1. Worked in IT forever*

        Yes, that unfortunately could be the case. Our more recent couches have throws to protect against damage, but when we tried to get rid of a couple of old ones a couple of years ago, we couldn’t even donate them to charity. They were both leather and had some wear and a bit of cat damage, but one was not too bad. I guess these are pretty bulky items for charities to store, so they have to be choosy about what they’ll accept.

        About the pulls, though: if they are on a seat cushion that has a removable cover, you might be able to fix them by pulling them through to the other side of the cover.

        1. Worked in IT forever*

          Sorry, to clarify my previous comment: I meant that it might be pretty hard to sell damaged couches—we couldn’t even find a charity who’d take them for free.

  19. Laura H.*

    What are some holiday treats that you always buy when in season?

    My grocery sells these orange colored pumpkin sugar cookies and I tried to resist putting a pack in my order… I wound up adding them on. But they’re kinda part of my childhood- a staple of Halloween treats at school when that was still a more widespread thing. They’re a seasonal treat- not the best cookie ever by any means but still enjoyable.

    On the healthier side, there are these really tasty mandarin oranges that my grocery exclusively sells that are usually in season around thanksgiving. Hopeful for some this year and looking forward to seeing those when I make the Thanksgiving grocery run.

    1. nep*

      Not an edible treat, but I love the apple cider foaming soap at Trader Joe’s. They’re already out (at my location anyway). Such a nice aroma.

    2. Something Blue*

      Chobani yogurt has a pumpkin spice flavor that I like! I always pick up a couple at the grocery store.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In the vein of junk food: don’t judge, but Little Debbie does these pumpkin rolls that are basically like Swiss cake rolls, only pumpkin with cream filling and cream cheese frosting, and I love them. (They also do caramel apple oatmeal cream pies some years – I got my housemate a box of those one year and I think he literally ate the whole box before we even finished driving home from the grocery store.)

      1. Laura H.*

        No judgement here. Little Debbie is very yum. The nutty bars are my favorite followed closely by the oatmeal cream pie cookies. Mmm!!!

    4. Ilex Oak*

      Candy corn! I know it’s a love it or hate it thing, but I love it (in small, seasonally appropriate doses). Also, I like a Starbucks peppermint mocha as the winter holidays approach.

      1. Xenia*

        The ones around here sometimes have chestnut praline, and I love it. Coffee goes surprisingly well with those relatively delicate flavors.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        The local brand of dairy products does a (non-alcoholic) egg nog, and traditionally, Christmas is here when it is back on the shelves.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Peeps (although there aren’t any this year because of the ‘rona—bummer!).
      Egg nog.
      Not a holiday thing, but every summer, I really look forward to big bags of cherries.

    6. NeverNicky*

      The mini stollen bites that Lidl stock (I also buy their Lebkuchen hearts).

      Not holiday related but at the start of May, I anxiously check our local farm shop’s social media for news of the first homegrown asparagus. There’s nothing like English asparagus in season.

    7. violet04*

      My local farm market has the best unfiltered apple cider. It’s so much better than the watered down stuff at grocery stores. It freezes well to! I just need to empty the jug a bit to account for expanding.

      1. Jackalope*

        We make our own cider with all sorts of different kinds of apples, drink some the first week and then freeze the rest. It’s one of my favorite things ever, and the cider squeeze weekend is one of the few events I will drop anything to attend.

          1. Jackalope*

            Alas, no. Some of my good friends have a cider press and we get whatever apples are available. Some of the extended family have apple trees so we pick those when we can, sometimes buy a few, etc. The key is tossing as many kinds as you can into the mix; it makes the flavor interesting and gives each batch a different tone.

            I sometimes make spiced cider where I’ll cook the cider for a bit (today I did it in a crock pot) along with mulling spices (cinnamon, dried orange peel, cloves, etc; I found a mix I like so don’t mix it up myself). Otherwise we just squish all the apples and drink the juice straight!

    8. Can't Sit Still*

      Eggnog and soft ginger cookies. A local creamery sells the eggnog and a local bakery sells ginormous soft ginger cookies (really at least two or three servings per cookie). I have a standing order for a quart of eggnog every other week and buy one ginger cookie each week they are available.

      Something I probably won’t be able to get this year: Starbucks nitro cold brew with eggnog. There’s no safe way for me to get it this year.

    9. Jenny*

      I love Peppermint ice cream (the pink kind with little candy pieces) and you only really get it around Christmas.

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        Yes, but I always want it in the summer! I know it’s considered a winter flavor because of candy canes, but it would be so refreshing during the warm months. Wish it were a year round thing, but love it!

    10. WoodswomanWrites*

      Maple candy. It was easy to find around the winter holidays growing up in Michigan but in California, I have to order it online. This thread got me thinking about that. And now I have to order some!

    11. Redhairrunner*

      Wegmans (Regional grocery chain) usually has candy cane Oreos with crushed bits of candy cane in the creme filling. Super addictive if you like peppermint flavored things.

    12. shoutouts*

      All the gingerbread variants. Fresh Market had a chocolate covered gingerbread cookie last year that was so yum.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Candy corn. Luckily no one but me likes it so I can buy one small bag and dole it out.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      And apple cider donuts. I can’t buy those in packs or I will lose all self control like Cookie Monster.

    15. Dr.KMnO4*

      Santa’s Favorites Anise Flavored sugar cookies. I’ve only seen them in the Midwest. If you like a mild anise (licorice) flavor they are really good.

    16. Square Root of Minus One*

      Pyrénéens. The black chocolate ones. I don’t know if they have English name.
      It’s a Lindt chocolate that is (AFAIK) only available during the winter holiday season. It’s a chocolate that goes in the fridge. It is just chocolate, the black version is just as sugary as I like, and fresh without being frozen.
      I don’t even try to resist anymore. Late Dec early Jan, every year, I’ll buy three boxes of 30 to get me through winter.
      Though clearly last year I should have bought an extra one.

    17. Marion Ravenwood*

      I don’t live near an Aldi any more sadly, but when I did I would stock up on dark chocolate coated lebkuchen (soft gingerbread biscuits coated in a sort of chocolate and icing sugar mixture). They are AMAZING and I miss them far more than I probably should.

  20. Poetry*

    What are some of your favorite poetry books or poets? Some of mine are Jericho Brown, Natalie Diaz and Ada Limon.

    1. CTT*

      I love H.D.; I never really got poetry until I read her work. The collection from 1916-1944 is my favorite, especially “The Walls Do Not Fall,” about the Blitz.

    2. nep*

      Mary Oliver is lovely. I don’t read a lot of poetry–she’s just on my mind because read a bit of her the other day. I recently found a book of poetry about the Holocaust at an estate sale–I’ve not delved into it yet though.
      About a month ago I signed up to get ‘poem-a-day.’ It’s a nice way to learn of poets out there, from all over.

      1. Candy Corn*

        If you don’t mind me asking, where did you sign up for that? It sounds fascinating and I’d love to start reading poetry!

    3. Perstephanie*

      William Stafford. He said of the air in Oregon: “It has waterfalls on its breath.” (I read that line forty-three years ago and still remember.) He’s approachable and lovely.

    4. fposte*

      Nikki Grimes. Her Ordinary Hazards is an amazing memoir in free verse; she also has several books that collect verse from Harlem Renaissance poets and create her own that interweaves with their poems.

    5. Atheist Nun*

      Brenda Shaughnessy is wonderful. She plays with language and tackles some very emotional topics.

    6. Undine*

      Some poetry anthologies I like:
      Poetry of Presence
      The First Free Women, which is poetry of ancient Buddhist nuns and is amazingly contemporary
      This Same Sky, international poems collected by Naomi Shihab Nye
      A Book of Luminous Things, collected by Czeslaw Milosz

      1. Perstephanie*

        Oh, yes, and the title poem itself — “What the Living Do” — is beautiful. Written (IIRC) for her brother who died of AIDS.

    7. GoryDetails*

      I’ve enjoyed a variety of poetry, from the works of Robert Frost to Frank O’Hara’s “Lunch Poems”. I also like storytelling in poem form, whether it’s a ballad like Alfred Noyes’ “The Highwayman” or Helen Frost’s YA books that tell the tale of a crime (Hidden) or an Athabascan girl’s coming of age (Diamond Willow) or a Scottish girl’s experiences during the Highland Clearances (The Braid). I suppose Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology would count as storytelling too, though his use of epitaphs and the graveyard setting isn’t is linear.

      For those interested in poetry and its forms – especially if you think you might like to try some yourself, but it’s also fun if you just want to learn – I recommend The Ode Less Traveled by Stephen Fry.

    8. Summersun*

      Elizabeth Bishop is my favorite. Nothing has ever hit me in the gut the way “One Art” did.

      If you’re looking to get started, I’d recommend going back through the laureates first to get a feel for your tastes. Once you find one you love, start searching for artists that are considered similar.

    9. Tessera Member 042*

      Natasha Tretheway is fantastic, especially at untangling complicated issues of race in history and her own family. She was poet laureate of the US from 2012-2014. Thrall might be my favorite collection, but I also recommend Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

  21. Lifelong student*

    Crochet thread! What’s on your hook this week? I finished the last square of a 20 square blanket last night and will begin to sew the squares together today. I’m going to do the mattress stitch join for the first time.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am on row 101 of a 108-row afghan, so I’m hoping to finish it this weekend :) But it’s concentric from the center out and just shy of five feet square, so at this point each row is like 24 feet long, so we’ll see.

    2. Pharmgirl*

      Still going strong on the temperature blanket! For some reason I still don’t understand I didn’t weave in my ends the first few months, so I’ve spent some time finishing that up. I’m about 3 weeks behind right now, but I have off through Monday so I should be able to mostly catch up. With the cooler weather now I’m back to my favorite colors in the blanket – deep purple and teal/peacock blue.

    3. OyHiOh*

      Knitting – a few weeks ago, I found a fabulous deal on 100% alpaca wool. It’s lace weight blue ombre and I’m making a blanket with it. I’ve made blankets and hats and scarves for my whole family and, in five years of knitting have never made something for myself, so this is a blanket for me. Double seed stitch on US 2 needles and I’ve got 5 balls of the stuff. It’s going to take ages, lol.

      I’m also adding tassels to a blanket for my youngest. It’s a leftover yarn blanket in pastel colors so I’m adding pale rainbow yarn tassels all around the edges. And a braided tail on one corner, because it’s a unicorn blanket, of course. She really wanted a horn too but that’s a bit beyond my skill set.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      There’s two crochet threads today…amusingly enough I’m doing my first project with 2 yarns on the hook. Nothing exciting, just a potholder stashbuster.

  22. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    I do not have time for more projects. I have too many unfinished ones already going. But I discovered two really cool ones, so I’m sharing in case anybody does have time for more projects.

    Tablet weaving: Actual proper weaving, that can also be used in fancy patterns, but instead of buying an large and expensive loom, you can just cut up a cardboard box. Also it’s portable. Usually used for narrow strips like belts. And some of the patterns are absolutely gorgeous.

    Crepe paper costumes: Costumes made from 20″ wide crepe paper. Ok, probably too late for halloween this year. But they are bright and adorable (and cheap) and the material looks really easy to work with. It can sewn or glued, stretched into flutes, gathered, and cut into fringe. Link in the reply to an delightful 1922 crafty booklet.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Oh, and I’m always happy to learn about more really cool crafts that I absolutely can not take up until I finish some of the ones I am already working on, if anybody else has discovered some new ones as well.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If I had more time and inclination, I would do hypertufa where you make your own large lightweight planters and place them around my patio and yard.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Fingerloop braiding. I got so into it at one point that I aggravated my carpel tunnel and had to go cold turkey

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Ooh, I’ve done a tiny bit of that: I wanted to make a string to match the fabric on a project. Turned out quite well, the second time (I made my brother beat down for me, since the project was for him.) First try wasn’t horrible either, just too loose at the beginning.

    4. Anonyme*

      Nails on picture frames can also be used to set up a cheap loom, especially if you want to do things like placemats.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Needle-felting & spinning are two crafts that overlap nicely — the roving can be used for both. Which is good because my daughter & I got intrigued at the fair one year and bought supplies and it’s all in one box on the shelf. :D

  23. nep*

    RIP Sean Connery.
    From one report:
    Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “heartbroken” to hear of Connery’s death.
    “Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons,” she said in a statement Saturday. “Sean was born into a working class Edinburgh family and through talent and sheer hard work, became a film icon and one of the world’s most accomplished actors.”

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Your favorite role?
      Mine: The Untouchables
      My husband’s: Highlander
      My daughter’s got a bit of catchup to do…she’s only seen him in The Mask of Zorro… and of course after one look at the internet SHE wants to see Zardoz.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Please reassure your daughter that she does not, in fact, want to see Zardoz. Zardoz was actually made on drugs, and it shows. The whole thing was massively incoherent and only really worthwhile for the meme factor. If she wants something similar to Zardoz but actually functional, throw Labyrinth at her.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I think she’s just pulling our leg, she’ll get Indiana Jones #3 before that.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I hadn’t heard about Connery’s death. While his personal views were sometimes pretty appalling, I have enjoyed his screen work. Hard to pick a favorite, but Man Who Would Be King (1975, based on Kipling’s story) where he co-starred with Michael Caine, would be up there.

        1. Joanne’s Daughter*

          Man Who Would Be King is my favorite of Sean Connery and one of my all time favorite movies!

    2. NeverNicky*

      The best Bond.

      A real Cinderella life story – if it was a film you’d call it cheesy.

      Sleep well, Sir Sean.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Best comment so far… he was a great actor and very charismatic, but we need not call his a beautiful soul.

    3. Maxie's Mommy*

      Love Michael Caine’s hysterical stories about SC, especially when they were young and starving, and about the Scot’s famous thrift. Look them up!!

  24. LGC*

    This is mildly political (and might be a work post), but…I volunteered to be a poll worker for the first time, and I’m a little bit nervous about it. Especially since my state is using an “all-mail” system this year (everyone was mailed a ballot and only people with disabilities can use the voting machines – everyone else who’s able to has to use provisional ballots), which is kind of new for us. Any advice on things I should expect, other than the usual? And also, how to deal with being in a public library for 15 hours with one 1-hour break where I can leave?

    (For the record: I’m in New Jersey, so I’d especially appreciate advice from people in NJ and people in states that have been using mail ballots for a while. But this is open to anyone.)

    1. nep*

      I don’t have any advice, really…Just chiming in here as this has been on my mind. This was the first year I was going to work the polls. I withdrew before the training because of COVID. I didn’t feel great doing that–I know the proper functioning of the system requires citizens to take part in this and other ways. But when I thought about being around people for the training and then election day itself, I decided I didn’t want to take on the risk esp since I currently live with an elderly parent.
      Bravo to you and all those who are working the polls. I admire and appreciate all of you.

      1. LGC*

        Thanks – and I’m hoping you and your parent stay safe. I’m fortunate in that I live by myself, so I can isolate if I need to.

        I don’t think you should feel bad for withdrawing, though! A lot of the push for poll worker recruitment was for people who were in moderate risk groups – and you live with someone in a high risk group, so your decision is totally understandable.

      2. Cluck Cluck*

        I did the same thing, withdrew before training.

        When I early voted at the courthouse, no one, and I mean no one, was getting inside that building without wearing a mask. Armed deputy, as usual — courthouse, right? — at the building entrance. They just screened for masks as well as weapons. Everything was handled very well, BUT most polling places are not in courthouses.

        Armed guards will discourage a significant number of people from voting, so it’s right not to have them at regular polling places. I genuinely believe that, I do. At the same time, nothing less will stop some idiots from deliberately endangering everyone around them by crowding too close while not wearing a mask.

        Living in a concealed carry state, I would be terrified: Take a chance on being infected, AND take a chance on being shot? That armed mob in the Michigan statehouse made my blood run cold. No, thank you.

        It seems as though not a day goes by without yet another report of someone being assaulted, knifed, or shot for trying to enforce the mask mandate. Call me a chicken, but I’m not setting myself up for that.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      I have been a pollworker before and will be doing it again on Tuesday. Take water. Take snacks. Take something to read for when things are slow.

      And there shouldn’t be a problem with leaving your station to go to the bathroom or whatever. There should be someone who can take your place if it’s busy or there will be slow times.

      It’s a great thing to do and it feels wonderful to help people be able to vote. You are doing the right thing!

      1. LGC*

        Thanks – and I’m putting that all on my list.

        I’m hoping that most of the time will be slow. I’ve been anxiously checking my state’s numbers of ballots returned, and it looks like we’ve got over 80% of 2016’s turnout back. Not quite as good as your home state’s early numbers (from what I heard, Texas’s early vote is already higher than its total turnout from 2016), but it should relieve a lot of pressure on the system.

    3. Retail Not Retail*

      I signed up to be a pollworker but instead i’ll be sorting absentee ballots (it’s getting them arranged to be scanned and separating the messed up ones) and it’s all very regimented – they’ll be providing all 3 meals and snacks!

      I’m nervous because sitting all day is bad on my hip and they said “business casual” which is like? Eh? I’m going to be comfortable.

      1. LGC*

        Good luck! I was considering volunteering for mail ballot duty specifically, but it might be better for me to work in-person.

        Also, I will literally fight your election commissioner for making you wear business casual when the public probably isn’t going to see you. I would be like Jill from the letter Thursday and wear a blazer with PJs.

      2. anonlurkerappa*

        yeah, I’d say as long as your a level up from pajamas (and don’t have any political content on your clothes, depending on NJ laws) you are good

        1. Retail Not Retail*

          Since the counting has to be bipartisan, I will not be wearing blue, red, or purple. The training video was so funny – the counters were in red and blue and yes, they showed us where each person signs each form. So yes, the democrat was in blue and the republican was in red!

      3. Texan In Exile*

        When I was volunteering at the election commission in August and Sept, it was supposed to be business casual – it was at the actual office in city hall.

        But many of the temporary workers, most of whom were college students, were either in jeans and a T-shirt or in what I would call, “I might wear it to a nightclub so it’s nice, right?” casual.

    4. Forensic13*

      I don’t know what the demographics of your area are like, but be prepared to hear a lot of weird stuff from voters. I took this election off, but I was a poll worker for the previous 4 elections and people were strangely talkative. If you hear complaints/racist comments/conspiracy theories about confirming their address, I always liked to breezily explain how it made sure that they hadn’t moved, because you wouldn’t believe how many people forget they’ve changed their addresses until you ask them oh haha. It disarmed all but the worse people. Otherwise it’s usually pretty chill the majority of the time. (We weren’t a mail state, but I assume people are pesky everywhere.)
      in terms of entertainment, I tended to chat with my fellow poll workers most of the time. Typically you aren’t allowed to talk politics as poll workers, which helps.

      1. LGC*

        I’m hoping for…not too much weirdness! Although I’m expecting a fair amount – unfortunately, a lot of our polling stations got jumbled up due to consolidation. Fortunately it looks like most people have already returned their ballots (over 80% of the vote count from 2016), and the station I’m working at has a county drop box right outside of it.

        I’ll definitely have to try that line out, though.

    5. pancakes*

      I haven’t worked days that long but I have done poll watching for candidates a couple times. Dress comfortably, don’t wear campaign slogans or campaign merch, and scope out a good place for lunch / coffee in advance so that you don’t waste your break time wandering around.

      1. LGC*

        I’m just glad the polling place I got assigned to is literally in the middle of town! So I already know there’s a lot of places to get lunch and coffee.

        (I got lucky in that I was assigned to a place in my town – I put down my town, my parents’ town, and the small town inbetween them as options.)

        1. pancakes*

          That’s good! I’m a bit food-obsessed and have been assigned to some neighborhoods in Brooklyn & Queens I don’t often get to, so it’s a great chance to check out taco spots I’ve had bookmarked for ages, Indian bakeries, etc.

  25. Teal*

    Folks 40s and older – what advice would you give your 10 year younger self?

    I feel like we often give advice to teenagers and 20-somethings, but what would someone in their 60s say to the 50 year olds?

    1. Ali G*

      Make exercise a part of your routine. We are in our 40s and are really just getting a handle on this now and it’s so much harder. We were both very active in our 20’s, but apparently our 30’s got away from us.
      You want to be able to be active as you get older.
      Make an effort to limit your alcohol and junk food. Eat right, get moving, and develop good habits you can keep up for a long time.

      1. WellRed*

        All of this (I’m 50). My mom broke her hip a few weeks back and is recovering swiftly because she’s always been active. The amount of people who describe themselves as sedentary concerns me.

      2. violet04*

        Yes! I’m 43 and just started exercising regularly this year. I guess one good thing about the pandemic and being home all the time.

    2. nep*

      Early 50s here.
      Agree 100%–regular exercise. Keep your body moving. Your brain and body will thank you.
      Do what you need to to get ample sleep. Drink enough water. Meditate/spend time with Nature.

    3. Lcsa99*

      Don’t wait. Whatever it is you want to do someday – have kids, travel, refurbish your house – whatever it might be, just do it. The time goes so freaking fast.

      1. Dan*

        I agree with you on #1 and #3, but I’m going to add some nuance to #2.

        I grew up pretty broke, without having much in the way of “nice things”. I do alright for myself these days, and with that comes the ability to spend a few bucks every now and then on things I *want*. My goal is to enjoy some of the spoils along the way when I can.

        For example… I traveled a *lot* over the last decade, even while I was managing a fair amount of various types of debt. COVID has gotten in the way of a few of those exploits, but I’m also at a point where if I couldn’t travel any more (for any reason), I could accept it and appreciate the experiences I’ve had.

        1. fposte*

          Definitely agree! It’s about steering a middle course—don’t prioritize living later over living now, but don’t overshift in the other direction either.

    4. Dan*

      In addition to what Ali G said about exercise, keep an eye on sleep quality. I have few regrets in life, but the one health regret I have is that I had undiagnosed sleep apnea for a couple of years. It zapped my energy levels and I needed a lot of sleep and often times an early evening nap. I got the sleep apnea diagnosis for other reasons (it definitely wasn’t because I complained to my doc about sleep quality) but the CPAP alone made me feel night and day better, and that’s before I got regular exercise worked into things. Now, I need less sleep, I always feel energized through the day, and don’t need the evening naps.

      That’s why when CPAPs come up around here and there’s some hesitation, I take a pretty strong “it’s not optional”. They come with a transition period period for sure (poor sleep really changes your physiology, and correcting that comes with an accompanying change) but if you’re complaining about your quality of sleep, and s CPAP is prescribed, it’s not optional and the payoff is worth it.

      On the relationship front… don’t put up with crappy relationships for the sake of avoiding the “single” status on facebook. If it’s not working, and you’re generally not happy, leave. I had a short marriage, but on the whole I don’t really regret it. I got out fast and moved on with life, and for that, I’m forever thankful. That’s not to say that every moment can/should be a happy moment, but when you know it’s not working, GTFO and don’t look back.

    5. Grim*

      Beware of loud noise! I have the worst tinnitus you could imagine and if I’d known the damage I was doing, I would still be employed now; I had to quit due to inability to concentrate and focus.

    6. Anonosaurus*

      48 here, and younger me should definitely have had more sex while people were still willing!

      1. All the cats 4 me*

        OMG, if I could go back in time to my thinner, more flexible body, this would definitely be my advice. And also – get more social, stop being so scared of everyone!

        1. nep*

          Speaking as someone who’s not very out there and social, it’s not always because we are scared of everyone. For some, solitude is oxygen.

          1. All the cats 4 me*

            My apologies, that was just for the earlier version of *me*, not global advice.

            No offence intended.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I instantly went to 50 something y/o me talking to 30 something y/o me. Pull in the resources you need to get through the tough spots. This could be counseling but it could be dozens of other things such as massage therapy, special foods, whatever. Spend the damn money, or do the darn activity, whatever it is that will improve day-to-day quality of life. Life is too short to try to make due with below par quality of life.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Not completely contemporary, but one of my favorite audiobooks ever: Miss Pettigrew Lives for the Day.
        And even though I’ve mentioned it here before, I just now realized that it’s actually theme addict. The main character is in between jobs at the start of the story, about to knock on the door of yet another temp assignment.

    8. Summersun*

      Ten years ago isn’t far back enough to make a difference in anything I would want to change; maybe that’s why the thought exercise is the way it is. (For example, I should have convinced DH to move far away from our toxic families 30 years ago.)

    9. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Can this 35 year old chime in? To my 30 yo self I’d definitely tell her to SAVE $$$$!!!!! Clothing and makeup will not fill that void. And take my health seriously.

      To the 25 year old I’d say the same thing but also ….. don’t let the world tell you you’re a POS. You deserve happiness even if it goes against what your parents & society want from you. There’s nothing wrong with YOU sometimes bad matches happen.

      Also either to the 25 or 30 year old — get treated for ADHD/exec disorder. You don’t need to “power through it” and you’re not weak for taking meds. Go to the doctor and get the meds.

      1. Teal*

        I’m 34 :) I’d give advice to 30 year old me too, which would be: relax a bit and believe in yourself!

        I’m neither super fit nor sedentary (although the last two weeks my heart rate barely went above 60, mmm couch potato), so seeing so many mention exercise is an excellent motivator to get back at it!

    10. Teal*

      Excellent advice, all!

      @Not SoNew Reader – that’s initially how I thought about this question too, haha. I was imagining what 50-60 year old me would tell 30s me.

    11. No fan of Chaos*

      Each decade gets better and better! You know what to do to solve most problems. You know what you like doing and do it often. I’m 71 and it’s the best time of my life.

    12. RagingADHD*

      Yes, your plan for the front garden looks lovely. Do something simpler – more perennials, fewer angles. And do not dig up that flowerbed in front of the living room.

      You’re creating a moneypit and a maintenance nightmare.

  26. D3*

    looking for suggestions for audio books that are the Audible equivalent of a Hallmark Christmas movie: fluffy, sappy, contemporary and with a predictable happy ending. Preferably not religious or raunchy. I need a little holiday comfort food in the upcoming weeks.
    They don’t *have* to be holiday, it’s just what I’m in the mood for today.

    1. Fellow Traveler*

      I just listened to Elinor Lipman’s On Turpentine Lane and it was delightfully breezy and fun. A woman buys a house and weathers romantic, workplace, and family drama.

    2. another scientist*

      Sonali Dev has a couple of books setting Jane Austen classics in a contemporary California with a family of Indian immigrant(so some tension between traditional/modern life decisions).

    3. Generic Name*

      Does chicken soup for the soul have audio versions? They are pretty good about categorizing the stories so you can avoid religious stories or focus on religious stories etc.

    4. 00ff00Claire*

      Debbie Macomber books are pretty much Hallmark movies, I think. I haven’t actually read any, but she was at an author/readers event my friend and I went to. My friend got one of her books signed for her mom, who really enjoys Hallmark-movie style books and is a Debbie Macomber fan.

    5. KittyCardigans*

      If The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake is the most Hallmark-in-book-form book I’ve ever read in my life. I read a print copy, but I think it’s on Audible.

    6. pancakes*

      The recording of Truman Capote reading his short story “A Christmas Memory” scratches that itch for me and I listen to it every year, but it’s not contemporary, and maybe more happy/sad than happy. It’s so good, though.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Not completely contemporary, but one of my favorite audiobooks ever: Miss Pettigrew Lives for the Day.
      And even though I’ve mentioned it here before, I just now realized that it’s actually theme addict. The main character is in between jobs at the start of the story, about to knock on the door of yet another temp assignment.

      1. pancakes*

        That’s a good one, and the Persephone Books edition would make for a nice gift. I have the book, but I see they also have an audiobook read by Frances McDormand.

    8. Morning reader*

      I like the beach books of Elin Hilderbrandt, and the old Irish Doctor series by Patrick Taylor.
      Old children’s books are often comfort reading too. Little Women, Green Knowe, Narnia?

  27. Come On Eileen*

    What are your best tips/stretches/other advice for treating sciatic pain? I’ve been suffering along for a month or so now, and would love to know what works best for you.

    1. nep*

      I haven’t had sciatica issues…but I have liked some general tips I’ve seen over time from ‘Bob and Brad’–they’re kinda corny, kinda funny, apparently knowledgeable physical therapists on YT. This is a link to one of their vids on sciatica…Might be worth a look at some of their stuff to see whether anything useful. Wishing you relief from the pain.

    2. Lena Clare*

      NHS sciatica pain exercises. I googled them. They’re the only thing that works for me, followed by exercise when the big pain’s gone.

    3. CatCat*

      Pigeon or reclined pigeon pose helped me. I also went to a massage therapist to work on the associated muscle tightness and that helped a lot (painful when he was working on it, but relief following).

    4. fposte*

      Depends what’s causing it. Sometimes it’s my piriformis, in which case a tennis ball us my best friend. But at base it’s a spinal vulnerability for me, so core and especially glute strength. One PT advised me to stand on one leg while I brushed my teeth, which is both helpful and gratifying in making a boring time feel productive.

      1. The teapots are on fire*

        Agree. Sciatica-focused stretches and watching how I sit only do so much for me. But if my core is strong I don’t have trouble to begin with.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      My sciatica went away when I lost weight (which I needed to do).
      Sciatica-specific exercises sound good, too.
      Feel better soon!

    6. violet04*

      Check out some of the stretching videos on Fitness Blender, specially the ones targeting the lower back.

    7. Jenny*

      I had sciatica while pregnant. Pigeon stretch helped. Really paying attention to how I sat helped a lot too. I also switched up how Inslept.

    8. Summersun*

      I gave myself sciatica during WFH. I never go barefoot (I wear Vionic Jackie slippers in the house). I never slouch or curl up on furniture (I stand up or sit ramrod straight). I do the core strength/back pain yoga routine from Yoga With Adrienne. I only sleep flat on my back with no pillow (I place pokey barrettes in my hair around the temples at night, which makes me turn in my sleep from the discomfort if I try to lie on my side).

      1. pancakes*

        That’s a really good tip about barrettes! I don’t have sciatica, but I can see myself using that for a sore neck, face mask, or rich moisturizer.

        Yoga with Adriene is great. I need to get back into doing those.

    9. Artemesia*

      Although critical for hip pain from tight IT band — I find the stretches I use for the hips also help prevent sciatica pain. I also do a series of stretches in the morning from the old Canadian 12 minutes Royal Mounty fitness program — you can find the exercises on line and they are age/gender graded. While I am making coffee in the morning I run through the arm swings and bends and stretches and the leg lifts and the toe touches etc and then do the hip/leg stretch where you sit sort of with legs bent/feet together and stretch forward across the knee on each side to stretch the thigh muscles, back and IT band. I actually do this one in our building elevator now that we are using it one person at a time — I put the side of my foot on the railing with my knee out and then lean forward to stretch that band. If I do it every day, I don’t get hip or lower back pain. When I had really bad sciatica so I could hardly move last year, I found these exercises really did work along with alternating cold and heat packs. Prevention is better and the exercises help me keep it at bay.

  28. Lcsa99*

    So its a little early, but we’ve started thinking about Christmas gifts and I think we want to send something special to our nurse friend this year. Can any of the nurses here give me an idea of something you could really use right now? Either something that would just make your life a little easier or just help you decompress when you finally get home to your family.

    1. Laura H.*

      Not a nurse but if you know your friend likes coffee, tea, or cocoa- their favorite one might always be appreciated.

      It’s small but its the season for warm drinks. :)

    2. Cora*

      If you’re looking for gifts that make their job a little easier, I’m a fan of travel mugs and compression socks. Snarkynurses has fun nurse-themed items like t-shirts and badge clips. The usual self-care items like bath bombs and candles are always a safe bet as well.

    3. username required*

      A nurse friend likes hand lotion because she’s constantly lathering up with hand sanitizer. I buy her L’Occitane or Bodyshop hand creams – they usually have gift tins over Christmas.

    4. All the cats 4 me*

      Just my two cents, but while I completely appreciate the love and care behind some gifts, they aren’t something I get to enjoy. For example:

      – scented lotions – I just have a thing. I never use them. I love perfumes, but not scented lotion. I would love perfume, scented luxury shower gel, or unscented luxury lotions as a gift.
      – book store gift cards – I read obsessively (like, I get antsy if I don’t have a book (real or ebook) to hand every minute of the day in case I need to read) but I don’t actually *buy* books, whether paper or ebooks, even with a gift card. I am constantly given bookstore gift cards and end up swapping them or regifting, or using them to buy other stuff which I normally wouldn’t buy. A restaurant gift card would be great!
      – travel mugs – for me, its another piece of stuff, I don’t use them
      – a seasonal floral arrangement – wonderful! I can enjoy it and turf it out when the flowers die, nothing to store or dust
      – gift certificate for massage or spa – for me this would be awesome! Some people, nope!
      – theatre tickets (if ever possible), movie vouchers, golf passes, museum memberships, sports passes, all good if they align with my interests (and if you know me, it won’t ever be sports!)

      Know the giftee is my best suggestion

    5. It’s a nice thought*

      “Nurse” is not a personality type, so it’s hard to say; it varies so much, especially now. What does your friend like? For me, I would love a meal delivery service gift certificate so I can spend my rare moments with my kids playing, not cooking, or some nice shampoo that won’t ruin my hair now that I scrub myself head to foot so much more often, or one of those beautiful “surprise boxes” that lots of local shops are making, with little fancy food/self care items. But that’s my taste.

      1. Anonymous RN*

        I’ve never heard it put that way, but “‘nurse is not a personality type” captures why I can’t get my hackles up at these types of questions. Thank you!

        Basically this question amounts to “I want to get a person (we don’t even know level relationship) friend/family/neighbor/service professional an Xmas present. What would help them decompress or be useful?”

        This nurse would like vodka. If you aren’t up for that, some really really nice cheese is always a winner.

    6. pancakes*

      Sorry for being a bit late on this, but I want to agree with the people recommending nice lotions and scrubs. I think those can work well for a range of people & price ranges, especially if it’s nicer than what the person would buy for themself.

      For a nurse or anyone who’s on their feet a lot, a rosemary & arnica body wash and moisturizer could be good, maybe with an arnica cream or gel for body aches. Boiron is a good brand for the latter. I’ve used the Johns Masters Organics wash and it’s nice, but there are others I’d like to try too.

      Favorite fancy & mid-price brands: C.O. Bigelow, Kiehl’s, Molton Brown, L’Annine hand cream, anything from Beautyhabit

      less expensive: DHC (great for sensitive skin in particular), and VitaCost is a great site to shop: lots of natural brands, good selection of travel and sample sizes. A couple packets of herbal epsom salts might go over well. I’ll be giving myself a pedicure after a sage soak later tonight .

      1. allathian*

        Know the giftee. Many people can’t tolerate strong scents. There are some scents I dislike intensely even when they aren’t particularly strong, lavender for example.

    7. Artemesia*

      One little luxury I have enjoyed in lockdown has been the coffee mug warmer. I don’t have to constantly head for the microwave to keep my tea or coffee warm. I am thinking for something at home of course. I think the nature of the job right now is that they can’t have ‘stuff’ at the workplace.

      Another thing pleasant now that winter is here is one of those things you put in the microwave to take to bed that is warm. My granddaughter bought me a plush manatee with herbs and grains in it that smells nice and lavendery and is very pleasant to take to bed on a chilly night before you get the bed warmed up. Just a pleasant little luxury.

      There are some designed to drape around the neck and if someone is coming home with aching muscles, head aches etc one of those (one is called a ‘bed buddy’ and is a long tube filled with grains with a handle on each end) on the shoulders while relaxing before or in bed is really nice.

  29. Seeking Second Childhood*

    How does your garden grow? Here in the US Northeast I’m looking at the first snowfall, so I’ll be puttering with house plants and wishing I’d planted daffodil bulbs last week.

    1. NeverNicky*

      It’s wet and windy here (Eastern UK). The trees have all lost most of their leaves but it’s too soggy to sweep.

      The cuttings bench is doing well, except for the dianthus.

      I’ve sown some pots of salad green for winter salads.

      There may have been some (not strictly necessary) seed purchases but because of legislation some heirloom tomato seed will be virtually impossible to get come January. And the seller had seed for some amazing grey poppies so …

    2. Venus*

      I finally planted my garlic this week! That felt good.

      This is the last weekend for the local market so it feels like the end of fall is close. Time to focus on myself a bit more and hibernate until February when I can start on my tomato seedlings again.

    3. Rebecca Stewart*

      When we bought the house the people living here had staged the border round the front of the house by taking galvanized tubs of varying sizes and filling them with dirt and putting marigolds in them. It looked quite nice, actually.

      So today I took the remains of the marigolds and a lot of leaves (there are five oak trees in my front yard, and all shedding like a double-coated dog) out of the tubs, and carried (with help on the two biggest) the tubs into the garage, where later this week I will put bulbs in them for spring and figure out where in the unheated garage we are storing them over the winter. We have squirrels in the yard (oak trees) and so putting them out with bulbs in them will just mean the squirrels will eat the bulbs. (sigh) So they get to stay safely protected til spring.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Tubs for tulips. That’s brilliant. I may have to try that. I miss tulips – but oh our squirrels.

    4. Retail Not Retail*

      Plants that can survive a (north) southern winter that sees below freezing days and sometimes snow: pansies, violas, dusty miller, ornamental cabbage and kale (if the squirrels don’t beat you to it).

      I was pleasantly surprised by the violas and pansies, they’re so little!

  30. Quarantine Loneliness*

    Looking for advice on how to mentally handle the social isolation of this pandemic. I live alone and am really struggling with the lack of in-person contact. I do have a few people in my “bubble” that I see in person once or twice a week, but we’ve pretty much run out of things to talk about. I miss meeting new people or at least having some interesting people watching! I hate talking on the phone, so this new life of being in virtual meetings all day is so draining. It’s hard to even feel positive about texting with friends – we have little to talk about anymore and its just more virtual connections. I don’t mind being single, but I miss flirting and going out and meeting new people. I just want to chuck my phone and devices in a dumpster be around real people again. Everything that I used to find “energizing” has been off limits all year and will likely continue to be so for another six months.

    I do get why we have to isolate and will of course follow the rules – I most likely had covid earlier this year and the post-illness fatigue is real. Which is why I’m struggling so much to find something that is fun anymore. I feel like I’m one of the Sims in a computer game – just boxed up and unable to go experience anything in life. How does one find the spark of life when the world can only be experienced through a computer screen?

    1. nep*

      Any trails/parks accessible to you? I find it so energising and helpful to be in Nature, and it’s been lovely greeting people in the woods (at a distance, and I always put my mask on when walking by someone). I know it doesn’t fill the void exactly, but it might be helpful. There’s nothing quite like being with trees.
      Peace. Wishing you all the best.

      1. Quarantine Loneliness*

        That’s what got me through the summer. However the cold air is really triggering my asthma this year, so that option is quickly disappearing.

        1. Stephanie*

          I have asthma that is triggered by cold, too, and I’ve found that wearing a gaiter or scarf pulled up over my mouth helps. Breathing the warmer air inside the covering keeps the asthma at bay. It might be worth a try if you do enjoy getting outside.

    2. Undine*

      Take an online class? I’m taking an art class. It’s not the same, you don’t get the same opportunities for one on one interaction, but something like a language class or a yoga class or tai chi might be a bit more nourishing.

      1. Reba*

        This was going to be my suggestion! If you’re running out of things to say to your people, maybe structuring the time more would help. Games, book club, movie or show discussion…

    3. also lonely*

      Can you take classes? Like music, singing, writing even exercising, or something that you meet with a real person even though it’s virtually, so for me, Coursera doesn’t work so well. That has been helpful to me, and sometimes my practice in between is not the best because I get low energy and I’ve decided that that’s ok too, these are hard times. I’ve also watched some movies with friends virtually, by sharing a screen (it works surprisingly well) and that helps when there isn’t much to talk about.

    4. oranges & lemons*

      As someone who is perhaps too comfortable spending a lot of time home alone, here is what has been working for me:

      1) Try writing longhand. A journal, letters to friends, short stories, whatever. It’s really given my free time more of a sense of purpose. Joining a contest can be good if you need a deadline. If you want to cheer yourself up, writing short humour pieces is actually a lot of fun. Writing on the computer is also fine, but for me, it’s easy to procrastinate.

      2) Come up with some activities that you can pick up with a friend, to give you something to talk about. Something that seems like fun but you never had the time for before. Model sets? Learning calligraphy? Digging up some old 90s computer games you used to like? Craft kits? DIY projects? I love this kind of thing.

      3) (Challenge round.) See if there is some volunteering or activism work that you can do from home and that would be meaningful to you. I think feeling like you can channel some of your time into helping someone else can really help provide a sense of social fulfilment, even if you don’t actually interact with anyone else.

    5. ShinyPenny*

      Get a new pet?
      Even a fish or a gerbil?
      Personally, taking care of animals makes me really happy. And there is always a lot to learn if it’s a creature that’s new to you. I love making their world as healthy and awesome as possible. They are great company– they communicate, but without words! Like magic!
      In the Current Unpleasantness, a new pet can be a lovely change of focus/topic of conversation–especially if a friend decides to get the same type of new pet, or is an experienced owner of that type of pet. (And there are bound to be related online communities.)
      I finally went this direction because I decided we needed a lot more cheerfulness on a daily basis!

    6. Not A Manager*

      I’m going to be facing this in a slightly different form this winter. If you’re bubbling with people, can you think of some joint activities that you can do in person? Those will both give you something to talk about/during, and also give you something to do while you’re being together but not talking all the time.

      I’m thinking about things like cooking projects, or crafting. If anyone has the room for it, setting up a big table and doing large jigsaw puzzles together can be fun. My husband and I listen to music while we do things like that, but we also listen to podcasts and lectures on tape, and that gives us something to talk about besides politics and the eternal pandemic.

    7. Sending Hugs*

      Hey there – I also am single and live solo and have to work from home. I also miss frequent in-person contact, meeting new people etc; I agree, phonecalls aren’t enough, but better than nothing. The other commenters gave really solid ideas. I’ll share what’s worked for me, though I’ll add that things are not easy every day and that my strategies may / may not work for you depending on your comfort level with how things operate wrt covid and what you’re able to do. I have a daily walk in the morning, before I log into work; and in the evening. In the morning I go get coffee at a cute coffee shop nearby. I treat this walk like medicine, even if I don’t feel like going, I go, because I always feel a little bit better after and the barista is this super cheerful girl which is nice; I miss the baristas from the coffee shop at my office, so this is a nice substitute. I recognize that some people are not comfortable buying coffee during covid though and everyone has different budgets, so there is that to consider.

      I do an evening walk right after work is done, to have a break after the day, and there I at least see people on the street. I’ll listen to a podcast while walking. I was able to and are comfortable with attending in-person Spanish classes at a nearby language school – that’s helped a ton…the classes are very small, everyone is in a mask, the school is taking great precautions. The key factor here is that my city isn’t in terrible shape covid-wise; I’m in Canada; yes our numbers are growing, but things are relatively well managed by the government and provincial officials where I am; I know that’s not the case for many people though. I personally looked into dog-walking and some nearby animal shelters also need volunteers for that – is that something available in your area that you’d be comfortable with doing? Lastly, I know you mentioned asthma acting up, and me never having had it, I don’t know how it’s managed in the winter, but is it worth a chat with your doctor about how to manage if you want to walk outside more when it’s cold?
      Hope you find at least some of these to be helpful. Sending you lots of virtual hugs.

  31. Candy Corn*

    Happy Halloween! This is kind of a long shot and will probably be too vague to make sense, but I figured I’d try anyway. There’s this game I distinctly remember playing as a kid in the early 2000s (on a Windows 98 PC, if that helps). It was a racing game (laps around a farm/country-ish place?), but the players were all tiny animals on wheels. The art was kind of pixelated I think? I feel like it was a one-word name but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. Any guesses are appreciated, and if you’ve made it this far despite the probably useless game description, thank you for reading!

  32. LNLN*

    Looking for book ideas. I talk with a friend on the phone every day and we are totally out of topics to discuss. He lives alone and I know our chats are a lifeline for him. We are both big readers so I suggested we read the same book and discuss it (a mini book club, so to speak). He loves Jane Austin, Harry Potter, and history, especially WWII. I love mysteries and young adult novels. I am combing Alison’s book recs for ideas, but do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. KittyCardigans*

      If he’s into WWII and you like YA, something like Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity or Markus Zusak’s Book Thief might split the difference nicely.

    2. AnotherTeacher*

      I’ll work on book recommendations, but I just want to say that I do this with a friend (though we text about the book instead of talking on the phone), and it’s absolutely the BEST book club I’ve ever been a part of! No meetings, no awkward small talk when half the group didn’t read the book… it’s great.

    3. Undine*

      To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. It’s kind of a romantic comedy with time travel to the Victorian era. It’s not a mystery but there a couple of puzzles for the protagonists (and the reader) to solve. (She also has a time travel series set in the Blitz. I don’t like it as well, but your friend might really love it.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This Connie Willis series starts with a novela “FireWatch” — definitely worth reading ahead of the dog book if only to explain the “what ifs” in this science fiction universe. The same series takes someone to medieval England in the plague year — powerful but deeply tragic so know yourself before deciding to read Doomsday Book. The later books in the series go back to the Blitz and I’ve been putting off reading them.

    4. Helvetica*

      Mysteries – I’ve recommended this one before but I really loved “The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle”, which was super intriguing and fun and kept me going pretty much non-stop. I also think that enough happens and is up in the air to talk about to each other.

      1. HamlindigoBlue*

        I’m reading this one right now. It was explained to me as an Agatha Christie type mystery, and that was all I knew before starting. I am about 1/4 of the way through, and it’s difficult to put down.

    5. Anon5775*

      You might check your local library catalog. If they have book club kits (perhaps 10 copies and a list of questions) you could get ideas of titles from that. You wouldn’t want to check out the kit if you only need a copy for yourself, but typically the books chosen to be made into a kit are meaty books that have lots to discuss. Not every book lends itself to an in depth discussion, so if that’s really what you’re after, check with your library. This a a great idea!

    6. NeverNicky*

      A couple spring to mind:

      The Ben Aaronovitch Rivers of London series – has been described as “if Harry Potter joined the Met Police”

      Mick Herron Slow Horses series – spy novels with wit and a contemporary feel but taut plotting and realistic action

    7. mreasy*

      Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a long one but is historical and has the magic/fantasy element.

    8. Libraries and Lilacs*

      For the Austen lover, I would recommend The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow, which is a coming of age story about Mary Bennet that takes place after the events of Pride and Prejudice. I think you both might enjoy A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee, which is a YA mystery that takes place in Victorian London. Also perhaps The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey, which is a mystery novel starring the first woman lawyer in 1920s Bombay.

    9. All the cats 4 me*

      A Bernie Gunther Novel Series by Philip Kerr. First book of 14 is March violets.

      Post nazi era detective in Germany – noir, and a long series so if you like it, there is lots to look forward to.

    10. shoutouts*

      The Jane Austen + World War II interest leads me to recommend the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. If you’re not completists, I recommend jumping to book#2 in the series, Birds of a Feather. Book #1 is a bit heavy on world building.

    11. pancakes*

      Despite the name, crimereads dot com is a good source of mystery recommendations. It’s an offshoot of LitHub. You might both enjoy Ngaio Marsh’s WWII-era mysteries, like Colour Scheme and Died in the Wool, both set in NZ.

    12. TexasRose*

      There is always the mystery series that FEATURES Jane Austen as the protagonist, books titled _Jane and…_ by Stephanie Barron. I haven’t read them, but my librarian friends say they are popular.

      For a YA coming of age/court intrigue/murder mystery with dirigibles, try _The Goblin Emperor_ by Katherine Addison. It’s long, but well worth the read. I re-read it about once a year now.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society “- historical fiction set just after WWII
      “Merry Hall” – memoir set just after WWII by a journalist who bought a Georgian mansion to restore its gardens… with very little help and very little budget, just a butler, a gardener, and several cats.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Two more ideas! The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (CS Lewis) and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs) are both fantastical stories with War II I as a critical plot point.

    14. *daha**

      For mysteries, I love Rex Stout’s detective Nero Wolfe. There are many many to choose from. For YA, Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea series, starting with A Wizard of Earthsea. It includes a training school for young wizards that was an influence on J. K. Rowling. Another YA I heartily love is Ysabeau Wilce’s Flora Segunda, set in an alternate California with a very different history and a truly inventive working magic.

  33. matcha123*

    The weather has finally cooled down over the past month and I’ve got a surge of energy. I notice that when the fall/winter come, I am at peak performance. I’m more focused, I can exercise more, my mood is better, etc.
    When summer hits, my energy levels tank. I literally feel sick/nauseous for months. I gain weight, etc.
    I’ve heard of SAD for the winter, but does it exist for the summer?
    It helps that my favorite holidays line up throughout the end of the year. I love wearing sweaters and winter clothing.
    My biggest disappointment in living overseas is the lack of a real fall and winter with snow and fall colors.

    1. KittyCardigans*

      I feel this way, too. It’s hard, especially when it feels like everybody’s enjoying summer, and I just feel lethargic and hot and annoyed about it. I don’t know about the science of it, but I read an essay (on Buzzfeed, of all places) a while back that made me feel a little better about it—I’ll put the link in a separate comment in case it gets stuck in moderation, but the article is by Rachel Miller and it’s called “What It’s Like to Feel Sad in the Summer.”

      1. matcha123*

        “During the winter holidays, we actually tend to be on our best behavior — expressing gratitude, volunteering, giving gifts, reaching out to people who seem a little isolated.”
        This part of the article also resonated with me. I truly enjoy the “giving back” aspect that comes about at the end of the year. I wish we could extend that throughout the year? But the sense that we should be thinking of those with less is really strong this time of year and makes me feel more human.

    2. Llama face!*

      Yes, there is a known but less common version of summer SAD that is opposite to the classic winter-suffering kind. I have classic SAD and live in a region that you would probably do much better in than me: We have winter weather & lighting from late October to the end of April. Sometimes it even creeps into September & May. :(

      1. Llama face!*

        Meant to add, glad you are enjoying the up-season now! And maybe doing a reverse of usual SAD treatments might help in summers? Like instead of light therapy do those floats where they stick you in the dark? Just spitballing here. I’m sure if you google “summer SAD” there will be some good suggestions.

        1. matcha123*

          I have some semi-blackout curtains that are great in the summer. I am now in a country that doesn’t do daylight saving time and the sun hits my east-facing room at 4am in the spring and summer. T_T

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am wondering if you get too much sun and your body is making too much vit D out of it.

      I am mentioning this because I have had days where I got in too much sun. The real problems started with feeling draggy, unfocused, lethargic. I kept going because I was dense. So I moved on to nausea. The I started vomiting.
      And I learned when the vomiting starts my day is over. I was down for 24 hours.
      The doc said I had too much vitamin D.

      I still don’t like really hot days. I will put up with a cold day, but hot days just do me in. Spring and fall are my seasons.

      1. matcha123*

        Ohhh I’ve never heard of this before. When I was a kid, I was signed up for a lot of outdoor summer activities. I love sports, but running around in the humidity of summer, in the morning, killed me.
        Baseball caps, parasols, sunglasses, aggressively avoiding direct sunlight have been my summer gear for the past few years.
        Do you vomit often in the summer? In my case it’s a lingering nausea that goes away for a bit but always comes back. And bloating.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It happened 2-3 times, starting around age 12. So it took ten plus years to figure out what was wrong.
          Finally, I caught on that the early symptoms were a listlessness then nausea. I go inside at the earlier symptoms. I was in my 30s by the time I found a doc who could explain it to me. He said, “Yep, and when the vomiting starts you are done for the day.” Yep, that is right. It’s different than being sick with a cold/flu bug. My body felt scary weak.
          I have found I am okay if I can keep moving around and I work in the shade. A slight breeze is super helpful. I can’t do flea markets, parades, county fairs, etc on hot days. I end up too zapped. Not worth it.

          So no vomiting any more. And I do accommodate this problem by being aware of the hotter points in the day and by staying in the shade as much as possible. And I am definitely more aware of how much water I have had on a given day.

    4. Dan*

      So much of seasonality is regional. I grew up in the northern part of the US, where temps in the 80’s occurred for about a week in July. Nobody had central air. Winters OTOH, lows could easily be in the -20’s. It wasn’t unusual for there to be weeks where the temps didn’t give above freezing. So yeah, crappy winters and pleasant summers.

      I’ve been living in the mid-atlantic for the last several years. Winters are *much* more mild than up north, but the flip side is that summers can be unbearable until you get used to them. High temp + high humidity = walking sweat bomb, which isn’t pleasant for anybody.

      These days, the type of weather that really makes me feel blah are mild temps (between 50 and 70) with high humidity. That stuff just makes me feel super lethargic and I hate it.

      1. matcha123*

        I’m from the Upper Midwest, with humid summers and cold winters. Growing up with no air conditioning and being told to turn off the fan was awful. I could deal with a freezing house in the winter, but 90s and high humidity in the summer…nope.

        I’ve heard that the time of year you’re born also influences how you react to seasonal changes. Apparently people born in the spring and summer months where there’s lots of sun deal with heat better and feel better with a lot of sun, compared with those born in the fall winter. I was born in the fall and that matches my experience.

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      I am exactly the same way. I have just never been able to tolerate any kind of heat. If it never got above 35 or 40 degrees, I’d be the happiest, most productive person in the world. Last year, we went to Denver when it was about 14 degrees there, and it was WONDERFUL. I was so invigorated and energetic. I live in Albuquerque, so I basically do nothing from May to mid-October because of the heat, and then I try to make the most out of late fall and winter.

      1. matcha123*

        Yes! It’s hard explaining that to people who are energetic in the warm months. When summer hits, I just want to sleep and eat ice cream. No concentration here. Brain is literal slop.

      1. matcha123*

        I wish there was more research done on the summer version. It seems to be a given that winter is the problem time…

    6. allathian*

      I have winter SAD, but then I live at 60 N (think Seward, Alaska), so the amount of daylight we get is heavily dependent on the time of year. I don’t really mind the cold, but I hate the dark. Last year we didn’t get any snow until mid-January, and five hours of twilight is death… I did make a point of going out for a walk outdoors during my lunch hour, it was the only way to stay sane.

      That said, the older I get, the less I’m able to tolerate the heat. Our midday temps rarely get above 27 C/80 F even in summer, and a few days of that and all I want to do is sit in the shade sipping a cold, non-alcoholic drink. When I was interning in Spain 25 years ago, daytime highs of 39 C/102 F were fine, but I wouldn’t like to deal with them now. I like early fall and late spring best, that’s when I have the most energy, at least when I’ve recovered from the jetlag caused by the switch to DST.

    7. Jenkins*

      Yes! I also get SAD during the summer and love love love winter. Everyone I know loves summer, but not me.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Yes, there is a heat thing. I have a friend with it, she does not do well in summers. Don’t remember what its called. Interestingly, she has to eat salt in summer and that really helps her. Sometimes when she’s feeling really blah or tired we’ll have to ask if she’s eaten any salt recently.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m going to throw another medical thing out there. I got much better dealing with heat after my thyroid autoimmune issue was diagnosed. (Weirdly the dr never gave me a name for it, and I keep forgetting to ask.) I realized after I went onto the Synthroid (or rather the generic) that I’d never really sweat in my life. Now I do. It’s not pleasant – but I can bear the heat better.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I don’t know what your climate is like, but around here the heat & humidity are so awful it’s just not nice to be outside. (Plus allergies)

      We get a lot more natural light in fall & winter than in midsummer, because it’s much nicer to put on a coat and be active outside, than to lay around in a puddle of sweat wishing you could breathe.

    11. Aphrodite*

      I too thrive in winter and fall. I mean I absolutely come alive from the spring/summer dead. I love the shorter days, the wind, rain and fogs, and I become an active, happy person. It truly is the best for me.

      Summer, especially, is hateful to me. I am almost allergic to it. I am lethargic, possess almost no energy, don’t care about anything, don’t have the desire to do anything for myself or anyone else. I do believe that SAD exists for summer for a number of us. And I have always been this way.

      Yes, having the big holidays in the last two months of the year, when it’s likely to be colder and wetter than at any other time is fantastic. Christmas and cold go so well together. (However, I love the Google picture online showing the “Australian Christmas tree” that is actually a floor fan going full force with a red blanket and wrapped gifts under it. It makes me laugh wildly every time I see it. https://i.imgur.com/ufpEbFo.jpeg )

      1. Littorally*

        I’m the same. I like the cold. I like sleeping under a stack of blankets. I like waking up in darkness and letting the world gradually come light around me, rather than waking up to bright blazing sunlight. I sleep better in the winter, too. I love snow. It’s just all around a better time of year for me.

    12. MEH*

      SAD in the summer does exist and I have it to some degree. Anything over 60 degrees cranks up my irritation. My happy place is zero to twenty. I play a game in the winter to see how long it takes before I roll up the windows. I will say that it’s now around zero degrees when I used to go down into the negatives. I live in Minnesota so I’m fortunate that I have a good chunk of winter to enjoy the weather, but we do hit the 90s in the summer which is a trial for me. Even here, people complain about the cold and snow all the time so I keep my love of both mostly to myself.

      My depression is worse in the summer as well and I lose whatever motivation/energy I have–which isn’t much to begin with. Winter is my favorite season with autumn being a distant second. Summer is hell (I’m also allergic to pretty much everything) and spring is pretty meh to me.

    13. SarahKay*

      Possibly much too late to be seen, but do you sleep better in winter? I’ve been using a sleep tracking app this year and as soon as my bedroom temperature dropped to 16 c or below (61 F) a few weeks ago my deep sleep improved hugely – from an avg of 50% to 70-75%. And while sometimes the app and I have very different views on how well I slept, in this case the app and I were thoroughly in agreement.
      Lack of good sleep might well account for the changes you’re seeing.

  34. Natalie*

    Folks that are planning some kind of virtual Thanksgiving (or Christmas, I suppose, a lot of things could work for either). What are you planning?

    We’ve made our final decision to not see my in-laws for Thanksgiving, so now we’re thinking about some kind of virtual activity. It would be his parents, his sister and brother-in-law and their new baby on one end, and us, our baby, and possibly my brother on our end.

    1. Anon5775*

      You can play a game over Zoom. Bring Your Own Book is a game that I bought, but you could totally make it up yourself. It’s kind of like Apples to Apples, where the person that is “it” chooses their favorite response to a prompt. All participants bring a book or 2. The person that is “it” pulls a card from the game or comes up with an idea on their own. This could be things like “slogan for a new soda flavor”, “name of a mystery novel”, “something said in a horror movie”, “description of toothpaste”. And then everyone gets a minute or two to flip through their book and try to find a word, words, phrase or sentence that fits the prompt. When time is up, everyone takes turn reading their answers and the person chooses their favorite. If they choose Aunt Mary’s response as their favorite, she gets a point, but you could also do it an as activity and not keep score. Everyone takes turns being “it”. It can even be done with kids if you choose family friendly prompts.

    2. Pam*

      Not Thanksgiving, but my sister and I sent a pumpkin waffle maker to our great-nephews and niece in Idaho. We have a matching one, and will have a FaceTime waffle party!

  35. nep*

    Two subjects here–
    Anyone seen/felt any benefits from consuming manuka honey?
    And who loves the elliptical and why? (Thinking of buying one for garage gym just to add to variety of movement options during winter. I prefer to work out with weights/kettlebells, but thinking it would be a nice option for a satisfying workout once in a while. Already have a treadmill.)

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      The elliptical is better on your joints and you get to use your arms differently – plus you can go backwards if you want!

    2. fposte*

      I have had an elliptical for years and I really like it. It’s low impact and you have some options about how much you want to involve your arms. I find it very different than a treadmill, so I don’t think it would feel redundant.

      However, I was also super-lucky in finding one that was inexpensive yet well made; the prices seem to have gone up.

    3. Lena Clare*

      Yes re the manuka honey, definitely, but I have to say local honey does it for me too. I am vegan apart from I eat honey.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Not sure how to word this, so I hope I don’t sound like a jerk. Why wouldn’t honey be vegan? You can’t trap the bees, so they’d simply leave if they weren’t treated appropriately.

        1. PollyQ*

          Some people’s definition of “vegan” means that anything that comes from an animal is off-limits, regardless of how well the animal is treated.

          1. nep*

            Like figs. I’m vegan but eat honey and figs. All that wasp protein. (An occasion to mention a documentary I adore: The Queen of Trees.)

            1. Lena Clare*

              I had no idea of the symbiotic relationship between figs and those other things – I would consider stopping eating figs because I HATE wasps, as in phobic about them, rather than because I thought that figs might not be considered vegan.

              Where do you stand on wool, silk and cotton? I do wear them personally, but make a point of not buying leather/suede.

            2. KoiFeeder*

              I keep forgetting about the wasp thing and then people remind me of it all over again. Brrr.

              That being said, it is kind of how figs work. You can’t have figs without wasps. Would almonds not be vegan to the people who don’t consider figs vegan, because farms use bee labor to pollinate them and sometimes bees die in that process?

                1. KoiFeeder*

                  I’ve heard about the land use/water use/worker exploitation impacts, I’ve just never heard any criticism of almond products pertaining to bees. Cool to know they exist.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, but some vegans I know are reconsidering that stance, because without pollinators, we would lose about 75 percent of our plant-based food sources.

            1. nep*

              Not arguing–just to understand better…I don’t see how our needing the bees to live means honey production doesn’t exploit them.

              1. Grace*

                From a beekeeper friend who has had this discussion with our vegan friends – manmade hives can’t be expanded in the same way as natural hives can. When they reach a certain capacity with honey, the bees’ instinct is to swarm to go find a new empty hive, at which point a lot of them might die, someone might call pest control on them, etc. If you want them to stay in the hive you’ve set up for them, you need to collect a proportion of the honey to give them space. There’s a certain amount you have to leave back so they have food, and if they haven’t produced much you don’t collect any at all and mix up a sugar syrup to tide them over until spring.

                If you have concerns about bee well-being, buy from a small local beekeeper – one with a handful of hives – rather than a commercial supplier. The friends that are vegan will take jars of bee friend’s honey when she’s giving it away because they know her bees are well-treated and she never takes too much; they won’t buy honey from supermarkets.

                1. Lena Clare*

                  This is my take on it too! I love local honey and consider that I am doing a Good Thing by eating it.

                2. KoiFeeder*

                  I’ve also been under the impression that, well, if the bees didn’t like the manmade hive, or weren’t getting what the needed from it, they’d leave. You can’t keep bees on tiny little bee leashes, so you have to be doing something right if they’re not flying away.

        2. Lena Clare*

          Not a jerk! Honey is not considered vegan because it comes from an animal. Vegan is not profiting from animals or their products in any way.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Ah, that makes more sense. The way it’s been explained to me in the past is no animal exploitation, and so I’ve been confused about things like wool or peace silk or honey being non-vegan when those are just… natural things the animal does, like eating or sleeping. Or in the case of wool, sheep having been bred to require shearing anyways, so you might as well use the wool.

            1. Black Horse Dancing*

              Shearing is often brutal to the animal with the main focus being speed and not the animal’s welfare at all. Many animals are nicked and cut. Not to mention these animals have a coat that is really not natural–the sheep have been bred with a coat that grows in a way never found in nature.

              1. KoiFeeder*

                That seems strange. When sheep scar, that damages the wool production, so it doesn’t make sense to do it that way because you’d end up with a lot of sheep with subpar wool. I know most american agriculture is done by corporations that only care about short-term profit instead of human or animal welfare, so maybe it’s that mindset striking again? It still seems weird that it’s more profitable in the short term to save a few seconds/minutes and get crummy wool instead of doing it right and getting good wool.

                But I try to get as much as possible from small family farms anyways, so maybe most wool on the market really is crummy wool.

                You could unbreed wool production in sheep, but even the current hair sheep landraces still need to have their coats brushed and otherwise maintained, I’m pretty sure. And it’d still be a shame to throw away perfectly good sheep hair if you’ve already got it.

        3. RagingADHD*

          My husband keeps bees.

          I wouldn’t say we exploit them, because our last 2 colonies were wild, and showed up entirely of their own volition. (We’ve also had a couple who just noped off on their own, for whatever reason).

          But the reality is, you can’t care for a hive or harvest honey without accidentally killing a few bees. My husband handles them without gloves, to try and reduce the risk, because of course he doesn’t want any of them to die!

          But there will always be a couple who go kamikaze, or who get squished by accident. Or a few stray eggs/larvae in the same comb you take the honey from.

          There are some keepers who will hold perfectly still when stung to let the bee work the barb out. He’s not there yet. That takes some serious self-control.

    4. Atheist Nun*

      I have used manuka honey cough drops/lozenges that I felt were more effective than Ricola and other name brands.

    5. Bibliovore*

      I have a reclining elliptical and it was worth every penny. I do have physical disabilities and this makes it possible for me to do cardio without weight bearing.

  36. Wondering about pandemic pods*

    I live alone in the U.S. and since the beginning of the pandemic, other than errands, I have socialized only outdoors and at a distance. I am part of a vulnerable population, always wear a mask, and am careful to keep my hands washed.

    A friend and I have a tradition of taking an overnight trip every December. It’s a highlight of our friendship and we have a great time. While much of it is outdoors, it involves many hours in the car and sharing a hotel room. She is suggesting that we form a pod and take our trip this year. Although she is as careful as I am and I trust her honesty and intentions, I’m still hesitant to do this.

    For those of you who have formed pods with others outside your household, how did you go about this? What were the steps you took to trust that this would be safe?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I decided that there are no certainties. Ever. Since I see my Pod People regularly, they are not going to hide sniffles or anything from me. I will notice. And they will notice it on me.

      This means that the real concern is the people they see that I do NOT see. I watched to see if their people were getting sick. They weren’t. So I have been inching along this way.
      I did have one friend quarantine themselves for a short bit. I appreciated their integrity even though it turned out to be nothing to worry about.
      On the other end of the spectrum, I have an elderly friend I visit every day. I stopped when Covid hit. My friend’s family told me to “JUST GO VISIT her!!” The loneliness was going to do her in quicker than Covid ever would reach her. I do mean serious despair. I resumed visiting. She is doing well. That got me to thinking, there is a tipping point where the loneliness becomes bigger than the Covid. This varies from person to person because there are many variables and many factors. My friend is 82, she is fully aware that life is winding down and she accepts that. If I even feel a hint of something wrong I won’t go see her. So far so good.

      I am careful about where I go. I shop at smaller stores for necessities and I go at quieter times during the day. I work alone most of the time so work is not a big deal. And I watch what I eat. At some point, it feels like I have done as much as I can. It’s a pandemic. But I am also aware that I can be the world’s safest car driver and still have an accident. There’s no certainties with anything we can think of. All I can do is try my best.

      I’d probably watch and see what the stats are in December. OR if possible I would consider going now. But again, it depends on where you are going and other factors that I don’t know here.

      1. Wondering about pandemic pods*

        The destination won’t be an issue. Except for minimal contact with others when we check in and out of our hotel, we would be by ourselves the rest of the time at wildlife refuges and would bring all of our own food so we wouldn’t have to dine out.

    2. Dan*

      I have a small social circle, and you can’t “do” anything to “trust” safety. Realistically, I think you more or less just look at other peoples’ lifestyles and judge the risk from there. Are these people who generally throw caution to the wind? Do they work in environments that put the into contact with *lots* of people? Probably not a good idea to put them in your group if you’re concerned. The people in my sphere have relatively small social groups, and live lifestyles that don’t put them into contacts with tons of people.

    3. PollyQ*

      I formed a pod with my parents. They are, unsurprisingly, a generation older than I am, but I have “underlying conditions”, so I’ve been incredibly careful (haven’t set foot in a place of business since March), and I know they have been too.

      Misc questions that might help get to the bottom of your feelings:
      * Are you able to have a candid, detailed conversation about what “careful” has meant to both of you?
      * Is it possible to do a quarantine of, say, 5-7 days before you get together?
      * What part of the country do you both live in? Some states have MASSIVELY higher infection rates than others. (link to follow)

      IMO, it’s OK if you just don’t feel safe doing the trip this year, even if the actuarial risk doesn’t look that high. It really, really, really sucks that we’ve all had to give up so much, but the only tool we have to beat back COVID right now is being very restrictive in minimizing contacts with other people.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        A voluntary quarrantine ahead of time is a good idea. We’re fortunate to live in an area that is not showing the explosion of cases as other parts of the country are. I appreciate the suggestions.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I see that after posting in another thread, my comment defaulted to my regular handle this time. I changed the title so people would know what the thread was about, not trying to be deceptive. Sorry about any confusion.

    4. Morning reader*

      I have two friends I consider to be in my pod; we are all single and living alone. We have similar levels of safety practices. One of us goes to stores more but always wears a mask. When we have an unusual occurrence, like a visitor or a trip, we go back to no-indoor-visits-for-10-days status. I Recently bought som kn95 masks for us to wear as an added level of protection when we have to go in somewhere.
      I think you can do this, maybe add a quarantine pre-trip with a test halfway through. But, if you are going to form a pod for winter, it might be better to find someone local to pod with. Or, one of you move in with (or closer to) the other after this trip, for the duration.

    5. RagingADHD*

      We podded with a neighbor family before in-person school resumed. We just discussed our general lifestyle risks, and they were pretty much identical: kids doing virtual school, parents wfh or occasionally going into their own private office with a door. Groceries mostly picked up curbside. No restaurants, etc. Masks whenever in public indoors, or anywhere close to people.

      And if one family got exposed, we’d quarantine.

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      I have had a pod from the beginning with a “sister of the heart” who lives just a mile from me. We agreed to not be around other families/people indoors, basically. She has an elderly mother and two daughters in the household. I already was living very carefully (One of her daughters is in public health, and hyper aware), and so we started out and have continued with the plan. She or one of the daughters even drove me for a procedure I had to have, picked me up from dropping car off at dealer (I call her younger daughter my pandemic-uber; I pay gas and time; daughter is in college so had the flex to assist me). Etc. Since we are so close, we even cut our risk by alternating who gets groceries (for things that can’t be delivered), or any errand (curbside at home depot)… literally, checking in to see if she needs something before I go out and/or order anything.

      I hope you are able to refresh your soul with a nature trip – I am working too much but have driven twice down Highway 1 to help me get my water fix. Wishing you the best.

  37. HannahS*

    What are your favourite games/activities for two people? My husband and I are trying stop defaulting to TV after dinner. So far, we’ve tried crazy eights, Battleship, checkers, and Caper.

    1. Anon5775*

      Patchwork and Code Names Duet are 2 player games and there are more out there. Maybe jigsaw puzzles, discussion prompts from books or websites (deep, or not so deep, questions designed to get to know each other better), tackle a complicated recipe or find a cooking class online you can do in your home, read the same book and discuss it.

    2. D3*

      We do bananagrams, boggle, Rummikub, yahtzee, etc. Tried Scrabble but SOMEONE took forever taking his turns (like 45 minutes!) and I got bored. He wouldn’t agree to a 10 minute turn limit, so bye bye Scrabble.
      We’ve also gotten in the habit of taking walks together 4-5 times a week.
      Haven’t done it yet, but we’ve also talked about tackling some of the smaller DIY and organizational projects we’ve been meaning to get to, finding something creative to do (crafts or something).
      Oh, and we made a fancy dessert one night.

    3. All the cats 4 me*

      I am learning to play Bridge, and have just joined Bridgeclublive dot com to play virtually with other people. Would be great if my husband played too and would partner me.

    4. Double A*

      My husband and I really like the board game “Splendor.” Azul is like a more visual scrabble.

      1. Washi*

        Omg these are the exact two games my husband and I play most together! I don’t always like games with only two people because they can feel intensely competitive but these two have a very chill vibe and Azul especially is so pretty.

        We also play Go sometimes, because it has a similar meditative quality and you rarely “kill” the other person’s pieces, unlike in chess.

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      My husband and I have been enjoying Yahtzee and Cobra Paw. For Cobra Paw, there are tiles with different designs on them, and you have to be the first person to recognize a match and then grab it before the other person. My husband and I like it because it goes really fast, so we can fit in a quick game while waiting for water to boil for pasta or whatever.

    6. Blue Eagle*

      My husband and I played battleships a couple of times then it was no longer fun as we could figure out each other’s strategies.
      So we changed it up. We wrote down every position on little pieces of paper and every other turn we would randomly pick a paper and use the position on it as our next turn. This resulted in both positive and negative as sometimes your pick would hit a ship or be in a space that your ship occupied (so your opponent couldn’t pick it) and sometimes it would be in a space that you already knew would be vacant. Also, if you picked a position that you already called, then you picked another one.
      We found that this twist made the game more fun for us.

    7. Dr.KMnO4*

      Cribbage, Sagrada (making stained glass windows for the Sagrada Familia using dice), Villainous (you are a Disney villain trying to achieve your objective, each villain works differently so there is a lot of variety).

    8. Elf*

      Carcassonne is a classic. Try Dominion and Temporum from Rio Grande games, and Tiny Towns (if you like really interactive play/possibility for backstabbing the first three are better, though Dominion and Temporum can be played without much of that if you prefer; Tiny Towns is pretty much competitive parallel play and I love it so much).

      1. AnotherTeacher*

        Came here to post Carcasonne (it’s the BEST!), so instead I’ll add Wingspan — you can play with 2-5 people (and there’s also a solitaire version.) Such a lovely game!

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I was a seriously into Connect-4 and Othello as a kid. When I mentioned Othello to a friend after college, he got me hooked on Gomoku. My husband likes Bakgammon. We briefly got hooked on mancala, when I had to program it in a computer science class. Which reminds me it’s time to pull *all of those out of the closet and teach them to my daughter.
      Someone gave my daughter a “diamond dots” picture, and we’ve been bringing it out to work on now & then. Also jigsaw puzzles.
      Beyond the ones already mentioned by others, she suggests War if you’ve got a lot of time… and pick-up sticks if you don’t.

    10. Colette*

      Forbidden desert/forbidden island work for 2 people – they’re cooperative games where you have to work together to escape your environment,

    11. Fellow Traveller*

      When we are TV’d out we will often have and evening of reading. Sometimes my husband and I even take turns reading to each other. We also recently got a subscription to The Week so we will read articles out loud and then talk about them. It’s actually been really enlightening to hear his opinion on issues.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        Oh- and we sometimes get those Two Minute Mysteries books from the library and do those outloud too

    12. Ethyl*

      We really love doing the escape room games from Unlock! (I’ll put the website in a reply). They’re really creative and exercise the problem solving bits of my brain.

    13. Marion Ravenwood*

      My boyfriend and I play a lot of two player games together. Some of our favourites are Sushi Go, Kemet, 7 Wonders Duel, Codenames Duel, Rivals for Catan, Undaunted Normandy and Exploding Kittens. We’re about to go back into lockdown in the UK though (and are in each other’s bubble) so I’m taking notes from this thread for things we can do together!

    14. Aealias*

      I like Codenames Duet (the picture version if you can find it) and Dice Forge (really neat mechanic). For cooperatives, we play Forbidden Desert or the somewhat easier Forbidden Island, Castle Panic, Hogwarts Battle and Arkham Horror. I enjoy Pandemic generally, but love it less in 2-player mode.

  38. Lizy*

    Random curiosity question: when you see a woman with a long skirt (like a long jeans skirt/“modest” dress) and her hair up, what’s your first thought?

    1. Utahna*

      I live in Utah. If they have the swoopy not-bangs-because-they-wont-let-me-cut-my-hair-but-I-wish-I-could, I think “polygamist”
      And I see them every time I go to Costco!

    2. All the cats 4 me*

      In our area it almost always means she is a member of one or another conservative religious groups – there are many in this part of the world.

      1. ThatGirl*

        That’s definitely a possibility in some areas.

        For the record, many Mennonites (like me) look just like everyone else. I have short hair, piercings, am wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If that’s it, I don’t even notice. I mostly live in ankle length maxi skirts and I have waist length hair that’s always up in a bun, so it me, and I’m definitely not conservative or religious :)

    4. ....*

      Because I live in downtown Chicago I’d think it was just some overly trendy thing. Otherwise I’d assume they belonged to a modest religion

    5. Generic Name*

      I think they might be from a traditional religion (doesn’t have to be Christian, a orthodox Jewish friend of mine in high school dressed like this, but she had short hair), OR they just like long skirts/long hair in kind of a hippie way.

    6. Slinky*

      Very little. Maxi skirts were “in” a few years ago, so lots of people have a few of them and wear them in rotation. As for the hair, if you have long hair, sometimes you wear it up. Sometimes they happen together.

    7. violet04*

      It reminds me of my sister-in-law. She and her family used to be part of a very conservative Christian group that would wear modest clothing and the women didn’t cut their hair. If it wasn’t for her and knowing about her religion, I wouldn’t think much of it.

    8. lazy intellectual*

      This is how one of my friends dresses!

      I don’t think I think anything, in particular?

    9. fhqwhgads*

      If its literally a long denim skirt, my first thought is “ugh that skirt looks uncomfortable”.

      1. Lizy*

        Ha! That’s what I thought before I started wearing them. Like, really?? How do you DO anything??? Now I see someone wearing jeans (a female-type person) and sheesh that looks uncomfortable lol!

    10. Traffic_Spiral*

      Really it depends on the hair and accessories. Long skirts are too common in general fashion to imply religion, but there are some hairstyles that imply a religion, chunky rock jewelry that implies “hippie,” and more outré accessories that imply “I just have a wacky sense of style.”

      1. lazy intellectual*

        “Hippie” is a good descriptor. Most girls I know who like to wear long skirts tend to not follow mainstream fashion trends, which favor more form fitting outfits. My friend who wears long skirts has a generally Bohemian look.

    11. Bibliovore*

      librarian. I think you just described me. I like a long skirt because I spend a lot of time on the floor. my hair is up because of pandemic.

    12. RagingADHD*

      That’s a pretty common look around here, 3 seasons of the year. So I’d probably just think, “Cute.”

      If it were summer I might possibly wonder whether she were Mormon or Orthodox- those are the most common modest dress communities in the area.

      But probably I wouldn’t think anything in particular.

  39. Loopy*

    Awkward question here.

    Getting a hand me down vehicle from a deceased relative. It sat for quite a long time in a garage and I guess there were some uh, used adult diapers stashed in a bag. No staining but there is apparently a urine scent that has permeated the car to the extent that a professional detailing place that had it for several days could not get rid of it.

    Otherwise the car is in mint condition. Any ideas for what I can do to try to get rid of the smell? I’m very concerned since a professional couldn’t get it out. It’s a great car except for this one thing :( I’d really like to figure it out

    1. Lena Clare*

      Vinegar! Spray undiluted white vinegar into the fabrics, leave 20 minutes, then wash out. Maybe spray then take back to the valet service again? Or if you have a wash vacuum thing with an upholstery attachment, that would save you hand scrubbing with a cloth.
      Other than that, windows open!

      1. Loopy*

        I’m pretty sure the seats are leather. The detailing place gave up and recommended we replace the back seat but the car isn’t worth enough for that! Does this only work for fabric /cloth?

      1. Loopy*

        I know all seats are leather so I think that nixes the baking soda idea? I could do it on the floors but I don’t think that’s where the odor is coming from, I got the impression it was in general the beat seat. I’m a little terrified to smell it myself if a detailing place couldn’t undo it!

        1. Ellie Mayhem*

          Coffee grounds are great for getting rid of odors, maybe not so much if you don’t like coffee smell. Dump them liberally over the affected area and vacuum after a few days.

    2. Maxie's Mommy*

      I inherited the smokiest sofa. I found Febreze Light Sea Spray helped a ton and wasn’t so overpowering/nauseating as many Febreze products.

    3. It happens*

      Try M9TM odor eliminator spray. I have heard that nursing homes use it for this sort of thing. Good luck

      1. Elf*

        Seconding this! it clears out the bad diaper smells really well, and because it truly eliminates odors instead of covering them with other scents it doesn’t give me migraines. Definitely worth the $10 bottle to see if it saves the car. I originally got it because my compost container spilled in my car and it reeked of rotting garbage. Nothing else worked.

    4. Ins mom*

      Usually the back seat cushion can be removed. Take it out to see if that truly is the problem if it is,a replacement from a salvage yard shouldn’t be very expensive. If the upholstery doesn’t match cover with a blanket. Probably once in two months someone uses my backseat. This presumed the vehicle otherwise suits you

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      I had a car that leaked and became somewhat moldy during my most poverty stricken days. All efforts aside, it just never quite smelled the same, even after it dried out (and I began putting a tarp over it when it sat outside in the rain, so it didn’t repeat.
      However, I created a way to at least off set it. I put a plastic tray of powdered laundry detergent – tide (not the unscented) and taped cheesecloth over the tray( allowed air but the tide stayed inside). Pick your scent. Maybe those little pellets of fabric softener? Anyway, I wedged it under the passenger seat and periodically replaced it. Much better than those horrible fake pine trees smokers hang from the rear view window, and cheaper. When I swapped it out for fresh, I just used that laundry detergent for my next round. So there was never any real cost.
      I know they make fabreeze vent scent things, but… I was frugal and this worked for me. YMMV.
      Also, my husband had to “desmoke scent” an RV. He bought an ionizer (Amazon), sealed the vehicle, and ran it. It did work. I think it was over $100, but compared to the value of that car? And probably re-sellable. (Although I’d wait and see if you need to repeat the treatment regularly, before selling it).

    6. WS*

      Since it’s urine in particular, there’s enzyme cleaners for pet urine that also work really well on human urine. The enzymes literally eat the remaining urine and take away the smell.

      1. Dog and cat fosterer*

        This is my suggestion too. The enzyme cleaners destroy the smell, rather than covering it, because pets are known for going in the same place if it is only superficially cleaned.

        The only question is whether the enzymes work on leather without harming it, but pet stores should be able to help with options.

    7. Anono-me*

      Fresh Wave Air Freshener.

      One summer, I had something go bad in my car; It so rancid and smelly even after I cleaned it out, that I stunk like I was in an old Seinfeld episode. I got some Fresh Wave air freshener and it smells great now.

      I got mine at Bed Bath and Beyond, but I have seen it at Ace hardware also. And there are a bunch more products now.

      If you have allergies etc.; it contains pine.

      Also, my sympathy on the passing of your relative.

      1. Anono-me*

        If the back seat is the source of the scent. The scent might be due to the seat being stained. If that is the case; I would try the bio cleaners and if that doesn’t work, I would go to a salvage yard for a replacement.

        Most salvage and pull your own yards have their inventory online now. So people can find replacement parts fairly easily and even color match with just a little more internet work. To me, replacing a seat is more hard labor and time consuming rather than overwhelmingly complex. (I’m not terribly strong. ) I would check YouTube for how to videos for the same make, model and year before deciding to tackle it or hire it out.

    8. dashingtonv*

      We had an issue with bathroom smells … and found that charcoal bags did a great job absorbing the smell. I bought a pack and put one in each car, too. Works great.

    9. ShortT*

      Biokleen. I use it to clean up after a child vomits or has an accident at the school where I teach.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Nature’s Miracle. (Pet stores)

      I used it on leather coats I had here- as some four legged creature had puked on it or worse. You’d never even know anything happened to the coat.

      You may have difficulty because of the previous cleaners that were used. But it’s the best thing I know of and it never damaged any of the coats. I even used it on suede.

      I used it in my laundry for years on any natural occurring stain, food, dirt, grass, blood etc.

    11. Lissajous*

      In combination with the pet enzyme cleaners (can absolutely second Nature’s Miracle), use crystal kitty litter to help absorb the smell, vacuum it up later. Just make sure you don’t put anything on the seats while the kitty litter is there, otherwise it’ll scratch the leather.

    12. ShinyPenny*

      I have been pretty happy with an ozone generating machine I got off Amazon for about $80. Ozone breaks down everything organic, including smoke and urine. Also it is very toxic. So I closed it up inside a mildewed van, ran the machine for 24 hours, and then aired the van out REALLY well with a fan for several hours.
      And a friend fixed a car that had accidentally been left (open) downwind of a smokey fire.
      (Bonus: there are no bugs afterwards, either. )
      Could you ask the detailing company exactly what they already tried?

    13. Aphrodite*

      If you can let the car sit in a garage for at least two weeks without driving it, put multiple bowls of plain undiluted white vinegar in the car and the trunk. Leave all the windows and the trunk open. The smell will get worse before it gets better but it WILL get better. It should in fact disappear.

  40. Achoo*

    Stolen from Twitter: what Website did you use to visit all the time, back in the day? (You get to define “back in the day.)

    The Web really took off when I was in grad school in the mid-1990s. I had a very boring campus job and killed a lot of time reading THE ONION and TELEVISION WITHOUT PITY. I read recaps to shows I never watched on TwoP.

      1. Nacho*

        I remember going to Jezebel, especially the Saturday Night threads. I stopped a little after they changed the commenting system to create a seperate section for “pending” posts. It pretty much killed a lot of the discussion, since nobody would see your post unless you sucked up to the mods.

    1. PollyQ*

      I LOVED TWoP and I’m so sorry it’s gone. They had great, well-moderated forums, in addition to their recaps. Because I am An Old, I was on the internet before there were websites, including the CompuServe quilting forum and rec.sport.skating.ice.figure.

    2. Helvetica*

      When I had a very uneventful assistant job, I used to play a ton of DiceWars. Haven’t been back in years but I still think of it fondly. I also used to scroll Tumblr a lot – I still do but way, way less. Texts from last night was another one I just endlessly browsed. And I can’t remember the name but there was a page very like BoredPanda is now.
      Basically anything which used to kill loads of time.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      The Craigslist discussion forums in the early days before they became offensive and full of spam. I made some friends in real life that started there.

      1. IGoOnAnonAnonAnon*

        Me, too. I have a group of friends from a CL discussion forum — we met in the early 2000s and have been through a great deal together, both online and in real life as well.

    4. Squeebird*

      My brother and I would spend ages taking dumb personality tests on Quizilla, everyone I knew had a Xanga blog, and we watched funny videos on Homestar Runner (which is apparently still around?!)

    5. Nacho*

      I remember going to 4chan back in highschool, back when it was just a bunch of idiots posting pictures and memes, and not a right-wing hive of scum and villainy.

    6. CTT*

      Oh No They Didn’t, in the glory days of 2006-2011. I still remember staying up all night when Britney Spears refused to hand over her kids, which ended up being referred to as “Hostage Brituation” (probably not in good taste but it was 2007) and spanned multiple posts because we kept hitting the comment limit. I also made some internet friends I’m still close with in the Free For All Friday posts.

      Also, for people missing TWOP, you can still find the recaps. I’m making my way through Linda Holmes/Miss Alli’s Amazing Race recaps as I watch the show.

    7. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Oh gosh not sure if this counts but in the late 1990s I would spend whatever little time I could just combing through Hanson fanfic. From 2004-2014, there was a discussion forum I was a part of and spent a huge chunk of time there – met lots of people, even my husband. Had a blog. There was lots of drama there too.

      1. Morning reader*

        OK, Potatoes, I know you’re not my daughter (unless she had a baby and didn’t tell me) but sometimes you remind me so much of her! In a good way. Ah, Hanson fanfic takes me back.

        For me, the IRC (predating websites) at first via Unix. AOL chat and a Star Trek listserv. Back in the days when there were things of interest in my email.

    8. Mimmy*

      I used to be very active on the fan sites for a particular singer and it often consumed me, much to the chagrin of my poor husband. I made lots of online friends and went to several concerts with them. One of them ended up being bad news so she’s no longer in my life.
      I kept in touch with others and I’m still Facebook friends with a small handful to this day and attended an in-person event (not related to the singer) with one of them a couple years ago.

      On the boards themselves, it was all over the place. There were lots of good times, especially during tours with reading all the awesome stories from posters who attend the shows, some of whom also win Meet and Greets. With this pandemic, those days might be behind us :( There were lots of drama too, either debating about the singer or ripping each other apart. I even had to block myself from going on to save my sanity and focus on school (first Masters degree). The one board that is still around is still active but nothing like it was years ago. Whenever something significant happens, many posters from the “old days” pop in, which makes me very nostalgic.

    9. Bibliovore*

      I miss “Fucked in Park Slope” Its hard to explain but it was a very snarky blog about Park Slope Brooklyn, NY.

    10. LGC*

      Ain’t THAT a throwback.

      I’m going to out myself as a weeaboo and possibly a creeper, but…Gaia. I actually still occasionally log into my account, and I’m friends with quite a few people I met in the Avatar Talk forums. I still 1) remember MMVII and 2) do not understand MMVII.

      On possibly the literal opposite pole of Gaia (at least in terms of who hung out there) was…Fark, which was where I first learned of the existence of Florida Man. (And some of the reasons behind Florida Man’s existence.)

      My web history was, and continues to be, weird and chaotic.

  41. OyHiOh*

    I saw a juvenile whooping crane this morning. It wandered within 10 feet of us, posed nicely for pics, and wandered off again, happily bopping about looking for bugs. I grew up in Sand Hill crane territory so this was an exciting first. My photographer friend is not a bird-er. “What the heck is that?!?!”

    We also saw a hooded merganser, apparently very rare in our neck of the woods.

    What’s fluttering and twittering in your yard?

    1. Generic Name*

      Very exciting! I grew up in sand hill crane territory too, so cranes make me thing of home. I’ve been seeing the normal backyard birds. I’m a nerd, so I’ll list them:
      House finch
      Red-breasted nuthatch
      Junco (they are normally a winter visitor here)
      Downy woodpecker
      Northern flicker
      Blue jay

      The hummingbirds are long gone, and I haven’t seen the Cooper’s hawk that visits sometimes.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I’ve been seeing northern flickers here once in awhile.

        Last weekend, a scrub jay (tiny powder blue creature about the size of a purple martin) sang overhead all through a walk I took through his territory.

        Do you keep a log anywhere? I’ve been using the Audubon Society app to track sightings of more unusual species.

        1. Generic Name*

          I don’t. I work as a biologist professionally, so writing things down feels too much like work to me. :)

    2. NeverNicky*

      A couple of weeks ago, I looked up from writing my journal because of a commotion in the sparrow flock that perches in the pyracantha in our front garden. A movement caught my eye and it was a sparrowhawk trying to grab lunch … it was foiled by the dense and spiky nature of the bush but it was amazing to see this about 20ft from where I was sitting on my sofa!

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      Wow, what a treat so see such a rare bird, and hooded mergansers are so beautiful, too.

      As a bird nerd, this is my favorite time of year when so many birds spend the winter in California. Local visitors have been cedar waxwing, white pelican, northern shoveler, northern pintail, gadwall, green-winged teal, house finch, yellow-rumped warbler, red-shouldered hawk, American avocet, and western stilt. And wild migratory mallards that don’t beg for food.

      1. OyHiOh*

        This poor bird is a few hundred miles west of the traditional flight path through fly over county. Hopefully it finds it’s way safely to Texas (they winter on the gulf coast).

        I love cedar waxwings! They’re Christmas birds in my brain.

    4. Blue Eagle*

      We went walking in the local nature preserve and saw a turkey at the nature center (which was closed so the turkey must have had the “welcome” job), two sets of four turkeys on different loops of the hike, two sets of adult sandhill cranes and a set of four sandhill cranes (2 adults, 2 juvenile). They walked right past us without running off or looking like they wanted us to feed them. It was pretty cool.

      1. OyHiOh*

        That is super cool .

        Yeah, I kept expecting this crane to startle and flap off but nope. Thought it was gonna try to peck us, honestly! The photographer I was with was very in the zone; if this bird had whooped, my friend probably would have dropped their camera and run.

    5. Nicki Name*

      Typical backyard birds for around here– juncos, sparrows, finches, crows, occasional flickers.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      How exciting!
      We’re past migration season here…. two weeks ago we had days where there were huge flocks of everything, and now we’re down to a very few juncos. It doesn’t help that the birdbath had to come in with the cold weather, and I’ve been told it’s too soon to put up a bird feeder because there’s a bear in the neighborhood.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Yeah, have to be careful with bears. I live in bear county. My parents live in a “once in awhile a bear wanders through” area. They keep feeders out year round but bring them in at night in spring and fall.

  42. MissGirl*

    My dad has Alzheimer’s and he’s 67. It’s progressing quickly. I’m trying to still visit but be aware of COVID. My stepmom worked as a cashier and gets sick often. I was supposed to be over there now but instead dropped off food because she thinks she has a sinus infection. I feel guilty all the time. Any tips from someone who’s been in the trenches how do I help?

    1. A313*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. COVID only makes this so much harder, I can imagine.
      Try to support your stepmom, seeing what she needs/thinks would be helpful. And if you can do research into what social services might be available, even if they don’t need them yet, that can provide some sense of relief (your father’s doctor might be a place to start). I wished my MIL would have gone to therapy when she went through this with my FIL. She tried to do too much herself and was in some ways too close to the situation to see it clearly; although I know she has a good heart and did the best she could, there were times/situations that were dangerous for him that ideally should not have happened. Keep an eye out for changes in your father that might need attention. Maybe there are online support groups, as well. To state the obvious, this only gets more difficult and seems like it changes week to week. My FIL got very anxious, which was hard to witness, and it took trying different meds to help him get some peace.

      If there are legal things to be addressed, like bank accounts, house ownership, a will, etc., that needs to happen very soon, while he can still make decisions. If he is still driving, that’s something important to think about how to address.

      If there are other family member/friends who can help, you can create an online calendar so he still gets phone calls/social interaction, and not all on the same day.

      Don’t let your stepmother get burned out, and the same for you. You can’t be of help to him if you’re having your own issues. Again, you have my sympathy. You won’t ever do everything perfectly, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be as good as it can be in an impossible situation.

    2. Anono-me*

      I think it is important to asking your stepmother what she needs and before doing things. The world and her home life both probably feel out of control right now.

      It sounds like you are physically close. Can you drop off prepared meals a few days a week? Can you help with the yard work? Depending on how your father is doing; can you facetime with your father and discuss childhood memories (older memories can be less confusing for people with Alzheimer’s etc.)

      Can you go with to doctor appointments or conference in on virtual appointments?

      Wishing you support and strength.

  43. Ugh, again?!*

    My spouse and I decided not to hand out candy today, although we decorated the house — some neighbors really go all-out, and we like to participate, even if we’re a bit more subdued. (Besides, where do people find room in their homes to store it all?) My father is texting me that I should be handing out candy because kids need to have fun, the risks are so low, blah blah blah. The same man who didn’t care if we had fun as kids is now concerned about kids in my neighborhood having fun? We live in a nicer neighborhood with varying degrees of covid precautions being taken. The kids are still dressing up, some are even attending/having parties and trick-or-treating, and spouse and I are higher risk for complications if we get sick (which my father knows). If I had planned better, we could have done something to give out candy safely, but I didn’t. I just hate having to point out the same things to him over and over again. And I’m avoiding saying truthful/obvious things to him because a fight over something this unnecessary so isn’t worth it. Is anyone else dealing with this attitude? I’m not looking forward to explaining Thanksgiving and Christmas to him . . .

    1. PollyQ*

      This is one of those “simple, but not necessarily easy” suggestions, but you don’t actually have to explain anything to him, or get him to agree with you. Just because he wants to fight doesn’t mean you have to. You can just say, “This is what we’ve decided will work best for us.” If he keeps texting with counter-arguments, ignore them. If he insists on raising these issues in spoken conversations, you can say that you’ve both had your say, and there’s no point in continuing to talk about it. If he absolutely refuses to change the subject, hang up the phone, or leave the room.

      And BTW, perhaps I should’ve said up front, your father’s being absolutely ridiculous to get this worked up over whether you’re handing out candy on Halloween. This is about as minor as issue as there is. I can’t imagine caring one bit about someone’s choice on this subject.

      As is required by AAM custom, I recommend Captain Awkward, who has many, many good tips for setting boundaries with demanding parents.

      Good luck and enjoy your holiday as you see fit!

      1. Ugh, again?!*

        Thank you for this. I know he’s being ridiculous, and it’s nice to have an outsider agree. Captain Awkward is a great recommendation for this. My father does like to pick fights over nothing. If you knew his “unique” personality and choices about food, medications, vaccinations, the one-and-only right way of doing things, you’d have to laugh. Which I usually do, but this year has been harder to do that.

    2. Analyst Editor*

      Outside the Covid thing, I think a lot of people who were perhaps subpar parents have it in them to be better grandparents. Some of it is subjective – they may forget their own decisions and opinions when they were younger – and some of it is objective – grandkids are like a do-over for them.

      1. Dan*

        I had to LOL (literally) at your first sentence, because my brother and I are collectively denying our mother that opportunity. It is not a coordinated effort, nor do I believe it to be “personal”, but the net result is still the same… no do-over!

    3. D3*

      Assuming your father doesn’t live with you, just thank him for his perspective, tell him you’ll consider it and then go on your merry way and do whatever you want. You don’t have to convince him that you’re right, and he does not need to know what you choose.

    4. Blue Eagle*

      I would not justify not handing out candy, in fact, if asked if I was handing it out I would just say – – I never bought candy, thanks for reminding me – – and just never directly answer his question about candy. If you don’t tell him what he doesn’t want to hear, then he can’t give you grief about it.
      Sorry that your Dad is behaving like a jerk.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I think this is entirely consistent with what you say about not caring if you had fun as a kid.

      The throughline here is not “kids having fun.” It’s him being a jerk to you.

  44. NeverNicky*

    So, England is going back into lockdown for a month. We had planned a week away which will no longer be happening, which is disappointing but hey, rather ve home safe than be ill.

    Anyway, I’ve been recalling the things from the last lockdown that helped me get through:
    1. nice food and drink were important and raised spirits. Taking time to cook, savouring what I ate. Buying the best we could (within reason/budget)
    2. daily meditation
    3. my garden – getting my hands dirty or even sitting dreaming (this will be tougher this time round)
    4. being creative – journalling, crafting, cooking, singing
    5. counting my blessings every day

    What things did you find/are you finding helpful to get through the tough times? With the UK coming into the damp, grey, cold and dark part of the year, I’m might need some reinforcements in my coping tool box!

    1. Helvetica*

      Hello from Belgium where lockdown will begin on Monday. I think, unlike the UK, our movement isn’t restricted but anything else seems the same, so everything is pretty much closed. And my birthday is in a week.
      I agree about the food and drink, I also want to indulge there as much as I can. I got a milk frother to make my morning coffee fancier, though I’ll still get some take away coffee from my fave café.
      Also, as mentioned upthread, will invest in a sunrise alarm clock to help combat the dreariness ahead.
      Generally, I find it helps to take things in small increments. So, I’m not actively thinking about Christmas, since I’m living away from my family because of work and it is stressful to consider if and how I could go back. Just trying to get through the week, also I am WFH, which helps fill the time.
      Bon courage to anyone who is facing or already in a lockdown.

    2. Laura H.*

      Make actual phone calls and use snail mail to check in on folks. Helps stave off the loneliness.

    3. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      American from the Pacific Northwest, in a large city where we’ve been in a phased lockdown since March. We’re headed into the rainy season plus winter darkness, so I can commiserate with your situation. Here’s what I’ve done to try to stay sane:

      – connect with friends and family weekly, even if it’s just a brief text or phone call.

      – read books and minimize my time online so I don’t get stressed out by things I can’t control

      – play more with my cat

      – exercise several times a week to stay healthy and keep moving (especially on rainy days when I can’t/don’t feel like going outside)

      – try cooking 1 new recipe a week

      – go for long walks on nice days. I also try to find a new park or place to visit so I have something new to look at (during the early pandemic, I found myself going on the same route so often that I started to recognize individual trees).

      – I found it helpful to acknowledge that things are not great right now; it kinda made me feel more ok once I made peace with this new reality.

      – send and receive postcards to people all around the world. There’s a site called postcrossing, where you just enter your address and you can get postcards from anywhere. It’s fun and a great way to feel connected in this crazy world. I started a scrapbook with all of my postcards I’ve received :)

      1. SpellingBee*

        I just looked up Postcrossing – it sounds like a lot of fun! One question that I didn’t see covered in the FAQs is do you provide your full name as well as your address? I’m guessing that you probably do, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

    4. Masked Bandit*

      This may be late, but can I ask European readers what lockdowns look like there? I read about a guy in Italy who didn’t go past his garden gate from March until June. Where I am in the Northeast US, our lock down in the spring was tight but I still had to leave more often than that. So I’m curious about logistics in tighter lockdowns. How do you get groceries? Are take-out options available at restaurants? Can you go for walks in parks?

      1. Kate*

        Here is what the Belgian one looks like, the biggest difference from our spring lockdown is that, knock on wood, schools will reopen partway through:

        “Press release from the Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo

        Stricter measures are essential if we are to reduce the increasing pressure on our hospitals and to quickly and drastically flatten the contaminations curve.

        Social life

        Every member of a family has the right to have close contact. Families can only invite one close contact to their home at a time. You cannot receive other visitors at home. An exception is given to people who live alone: ​​next to their close contact, they can invite only one other person, but not at the same time.

        Meeting outdoors: rule of four people, respecting safety distances.

        Funeral with a maximum of 15 people present, ban on organizing a meal or a reception after the ceremony.

        The places of prayer remain open but no religious services. Gatherings of a maximum of four people, subject to wearing a mask and respecting the distances.

        The borders are not closed in accordance with the Europe agreements. However, travel abroad is strongly discouraged.

        Weddings take place only in the presence of spouses, witnesses and registrars.

        Economic life

        Teleworking is mandatory in areas that allow it. When teleworking is not possible, wearing a mask and ventilating the premises are mandatory. Corporate restaurants are closed.

        The holiday centers and campsites are closed in their entirety from Tuesday, November 3, in the morning. Until then, indoor and group activities at the resorts are suspended. Meals may be consumed in vacation homes, per family.

        The hotels and B & B’s remain open but their restaurants are closed. Meals can be eaten in the room.

        Non-essential stores are closing but may arrange for pickups and home delivery of goods ordered in advance. Access to the store prohibited when withdrawing purchases.

        To ensure fair competition rules, supermarkets and markets (<200 people) limit their offer to products available in essential stores.

        Garages and bicycle shops only provide repairs.

        The non-medical professions (hairdressers, make-up artists, wellness centers, massage, beauty salons, etc.) are closing.

        Farm businesses and businesses remain open, provided they meet telecommuting, mask-wearing and social distancing obligations.

        Animal parks are closing.


        For all levels of education, classes will be suspended on November 12 and 13. Classes will resume on Monday November 16.

        For secondary education, second and third degree students will attend face-to-face education at a maximum of 50% until December 1. Before December 1, we will assess whether 100% face-to-face teaching is possible again.

        For higher education, distance education will be provided:

        first-year students: until December 1, when they will be able to follow face-to-face teaching again.

        older students, at least until the end of the calendar year.

        Teachers will meet online; the same rule applies to pedagogical days.

        Prohibition to organize physical teambuildings.

        Start and end dates

        The measures come into force throughout the territory from Monday, November 2, 2020.

        The measures apply for a period of one and a half months, until Sunday, December 13, 2020 inclusive. For non-essential businesses, the Consultation Committee will conduct an assessment on December 1."

        FR original https://centredecrise.be/fr/news/gestion-de-crise/covid-19-comite-de-concertation-sur-le-durcissement-du-confinement

        1. Tris Prior*

          I’m really curious about how the rule against inviting more than one person into your home, or only gathering outdoors in groups of 4, is being enforced?

          I’m in the US and in my city just closed indoor dining – but they say that statistics show our spread is really from people letting their guards down with close friends and family and having house parties, indoors or outdoors. And officials say there’s no way to enforce that – which, I agree, I don’t see how that can be policed unless we’re literally sealed into our homes from the outside. So I guess the spread is just going to continue, then. I feel like closed restaurants is going to result in even more in-home gatherings, since it’s cold out and no one wants to eat outside when it’s in the 30s.

          1. Masked Bandit*

            Yes, I’m curious about this too, especially with the holidays coming up. Perhaps it’s enforced by enforcing the “no going beyond 200m from your home without a reason” rule? But I imagine a rule like that being very hard to enforce in the States, especially in places where 200m wouldn’t even get you to your mailbox.

          2. Kate*

            Well this is the problem in a nutshell. People started getting together in groups at their own houses, it seemed safe because “we all know each other”,, and somehow COVID seemed like a disease you get from people you don’t know. ANd now our numbers have exploded, hospitals are overwhelmed, and we are back where we started…

      2. Kate*

        I tried to post a list of restrictions, but it has disappeared into the ether.

        In the spring, everything was closed except grocery stores and pharmacies. Online shopping had never been a big thing here (pre-COVID, many/most stores other than the big chains would refuse to accept my credit card even, since CCs come with a fee to merchants), so there were line ups out to the street just to get the basics. We also couldn’t go more than 200m away from the house, so no escaping to the parks and you needed a letter from your employer to show police if got stopped trying to go essential work.

        It’s lighter this time for us. Secondary schools are all distanced for the lockdown, but primary schools will go back partway through. Lots more stores are set up to do “click and collect” in a way they weren’t before, so hopefully the fact that EVERYTHING (other than groceries and pharmacies) is physically shut down will be easier. Curious to see how barring the grocery stores from selling non-essential items “to even the playing field” will work— I bought a lot of markers and colouring books at the grocery store to get through the first lockdown. No restrictions on distance from home, but the weather is miserable, so people probably weren’t going to be going out much anyways.

        1. Masked Bandit*

          This is very interesting, thank you! Where I live (a few hours outside NYC), we were never given very clear instructions on social calls and were never limited on where we could drive/walk, with the result that parks became very crowded with people meeting up with others outside their household (which was supposedly safe because it was outside). I was curious about logistics too because there were disagreements about what counted as “essential”—i.e. dispensaries are essential because people who use marijuana medicinally still need it, but that also meant that it was available recreationally when things like Starbucks weren’t. Also, I’d have to go more than 200m from my home to go to the grocery store, but I’m assuming that’s an allowed reason in Belgium, like going to essential work is?

      3. londonedit*

        In England, the first lockdown (March until…June? I think? The pubs reopened on 4 July) meant no non-essential travel, no non-essential shops (so basically only food shops and pharmacies), and you were supposed to stay indoors as much as possible, work from home unless absolutely impossible, and only use public transport for essential journeys. You were only supposed to leave your house to buy food, collect medicines or access medical treatment, and you were only allowed out of the house once a day to exercise. You weren’t allowed to meet up with anyone from outside your own household, and if you were a single-person household then you had to stay on your own.

        For the new lockdown that starts on Thursday, you’re advised to stay at home, all non-essential shops are closing again, pubs/restaurants/cafes can only do takeaway (and no alcohol), non-essential travel is not recommended, you can’t meet anyone from outside your own household, and you should only leave the house for food, medicine or exercise. The difference between now and March is that you can exercise outdoors with one other person, and single person households can form a ‘bubble’ with one other, fixed, household.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m following museums online and as they’re starting to do online classes, I’m looking for one that fits into my family’s schedule. (And making myself try to get caught up on kitchen chores because I’m looking at a historic cooking class and my kitchen has been direly neglected.)
      One night last year, my daughter & her friends spontaneously all cooked dinner together for their respective families — I’m thinking of trying that on purpose.
      Since you’re a gardener, try and bring the outdoors inside! Natural-light LED bulbs are so cheap to run you can get things to bloom indoors even if you don’t have sunny windows. I get March blooms from overwintered geraniums, and I love herbs that smell nice when I brush against them. If nothing else, try putting green onion bottoms into a flower pot and see how they do.

    6. Fellow Traveller*

      I signed up for a drawing class (taught via Zoom) through my local community college and it’s been wonderful to have creative “homework” every week. With three small kids, I would never have found the time to take an in person class, but via Zoom it is doable.

  45. Roger Stevens*

    My brother has Fictitious Disorder (formerly known as Munchausen Syndrome). He’s lied about having heart disease, cancer and all kinds of other illnesses. He’s gone to prison before for fraud for asking for donations for his medical care. I just found out he got arrested again (I haven’t had contact with him for years). Anyone else here have a family member with this disorder? How do you cope with the lying, whether they have been charged for their fraud or not? I’d be interested in hearing your experience.

    1. Dan*

      I have an ex who likes to lie about anything and everything to get attention. One element that complicated things a bit was that she had some training for entry level health care roles, and she *loved* to run off to the doctor at the slightest sniffle because she liked to show off her knowledge of medical vocabulary. I don’t know if she has MS or not, and TBH, it doesn’t really matter. When you have someone in your life who is disordered, at some point, the labels (or lack thereof) stop mattering, and the imperative is figuring out how to deal with that destructive behavior, diagnosis or not. The reality is, bad behavior is bad behavior. With these types of disorders, the labels are for the professionals, and only really matter if the afflicted person desires help.

      I had to look up some of the diagnostic criteria for MS, and apparently the presence of criminal fraud takes things to a whole ‘nuther level, because it’s not an indicator for plain vanilla MS. TBH, if all your brother did was set up a GoFundMe page or something, I’m kind of surprised that was 1) Truly a crime, 2) Something the prosecutor would even bother with, an 3) That he’d actually get convicted.

      When you have someone in your life who lies constantly, you really have to pick your battles. and when that becomes too much, one option is to cut them out of your life. By that, I mean, if your brother doesn’t actually have heart disease, does it really matter? If you were in communication with him, what’s the harm in asking how he’s feeling and how his treatments are goin? (The fraud thing is a different matter, I’m just focused on the lying aspect minus the financial bit.)

      Me? I got tired of picking my battles and rolling with the punches, so with no kids, picking door number two was pretty appealing, and quite successful.

      You say you haven’t had contact with your brother for years, and my honest advice if his lying bothers you substantially, is to keep up with the no contact. Choosing to not deal with other peoples’ crappy behavior is rather liberating and a valid response. He’s only going to change if he wants to, and if his not changing makes a relationship with you untenable, then so be it.

      1. Yellow Yarn*

        I’m a lawyer (public defender). It is not surprising at all. It is a serious crime and I see crowfunding fraud cases often. There are many news stories about it too:





    2. Anona*

      Your description reminds me a lot of what my husband experiences with his dad, who’s a drug addict. He constantly lies, and has for years. You can’t believe anything he says.

      My husband has a cordial relationship with his dad, but they’re not close. He basically accepts that he can’t believe anything his dad says. He’s told his dad as much, that while he loves him, they will never be close because of the addiction. He’s forgiven his dad, which is more for him than his dad.

      Therapy or even some kind of support group may be helpful. I think there’s one for families of drug addicts, obviously not your issue, but a lot of similarities (nar-anon?).

  46. Dr.KMnO4*

    A couple weeks back there was a thread on romance novels. I checked out a site that was recommended (smartb*tchestrashybooks), read one of the series mentioned on the site, and absolutely LOVED it.

    I’ll say up front that each of the novels have a couple of explicit sex scenes, so if that’s not your thing these books might not be for you. The author is Alyssa Cole and the series is the Reluctant Royals series. The books feature BIPOC characters, neurodivergent characters, nonbinary characters, complicated family relationships, and more. It’s refreshing to read books that aren’t just focused on middle/upper class white women, that incorporate a broader range of perspectives and experiences.

    1. aarti*

      Alyssa Cole is great. If you like historical fiction, she wrote the Loyal League series which is based in and around the Civil War.

    1. Nicki Name*

      I’m keeping to mine to not make sudden 1-hour changes when the time changes. I’ve been letting myself get up later bit by bit over the last few weeks, so on Monday I should be able to get up at my now-usual time and work 8-to-4. Not having a real commute anymore has really helped.

    2. D3*

      BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – you’re hilarious.

      My 2020 resolutions are not happening. Neither are my work goals for 2020, here’s hoping that completion of those goals is not factored into spring 2021 raises. Because all of my work goals were focused on a project that got dumped April 2020 and I was moved elsewhere. They would not let me revise them.

      1. Square Root of Minus One*

        My sentiments exactly ^^
        I had three work goals in 2020: all dead and gone out the window through no fault of my own. Personal goals, well… most of them were “starting [things outside the home]”, so, same.
        My only salvaging hope is the NaNoWriMo.
        And it’s November 1st.

    3. Grim*

      Now that the NFL is in full swing, I’m staying on track with my 2020 resolutions: drink more beer and watch more football.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I haven’t bothered with resolutions in over 10 years. Seems like a setup for me to fail most of the time, which leads to disappointment. (My goals were always around weight loss and I never made them. Then I had weight loss surgery and I no longer needed to make a resolution to lose weight.)

      My only goals this year were to sell my old house so I can be done with it (and being a landlord) forever and it happened in February, so I’m thrilled about that; and to have back surgery, which was done in March.

      Other than that, I’m just happy I’m here, recovery from surgery is over, and that house is gone. People ask me if I miss that house since I lived there for 18 years. Nope, not at all. The last six years, in which we rented it out, sucked big time, so I’m quite over the fact that it was my first house.

      1. allathian*

        I haven’t made any personal resolutions for years, either. I have goals in my professional life. I’m living my personal life, not performing it. So no performance improvements from me in my personal life.
        During the pandemic I’ve started to exercise more and eat healthier food. The first is that I don’t get any exercise from my commute, so I’ve had to do it on purpose instead, and the second is that my husband’s started to cook in earnest almost daily, and I reap the benefits…

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*


      sorry, but all my resolutions went out the door by mid March at latest. If you are still working on your 2020 resolutions, I’m highly impressed. I’m just trying to get through each day.

  47. ShortT*

    I am so happy and grateful right now. As of Thursday, my arthroscopic knee surgery is still scheduled for November 12. Also as of Thursday, my insurance approved assessment for ASD; that appointment is scheduled for December 15, much sooner than I expected.

    Finding someone who works with adults who present as female has been a colossal PITA, even here in Boston.

  48. Jenny*

    There are a lot of cat people here so:

    There’s a good chance I am going to have to be away for 3 months sometime next year, about a 12 hour flight away. However I have a senior cat (vet guesses about 15). This cat does not travel well at all. When I moved apartments he hid for a month. I don’t have any local family and most of my local friends have animals already (my cat had some litterbox/peeing issues already when my son was born).

    Because of things like per diem and relocation assistance I should be able to swing the cost of a pet sitter, but the longest I have left him with a sitter coming in is about 2 weeks (I was happy with the care he received). I feel like boarding him would kill him and I don’t think he’d make the flight either. I’d make sure he had an extra vet checkup before we left.

    Is this crazy? What would you do?

    1. Purt’s Peas*

      Talk with your vet, really. They might have recommendations for drugs, they might have different opinions on his resilience—they know him. To my mind a house sitter is your best bet, if you can hire someone to stay and look after your house (and him) for more than a 15 minutes drop in.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Can you pay someone to “sit” for him in their home while you’re away? He might hide under the bed, but at least he won’t have the trauma of a flight or commercial boarding. Paying someone to temporarily foster him might be the best bet.

    3. WS*

      I think if you get someone who has cared for elderly cats before and you brief them and the vet properly on what to do if there’s a sudden health crisis, staying in his own home is going to be the absolute best option for a cat of that age. Before the pandemic, my parents had to suddenly travel overseas due to a family health crisis, leaving behind their 16-year-old diabetic cat. The local vets had a vet nurse who provided pet-sitting services and was able to give him injections and monitor him, and everything went well. Your cat sounds like he doesn’t have such acute needs, but a 15-year-old cat can go downhill very fast if something goes wrong.

      1. Jenny*

        Other than dental issues, he has been healthy. However he had a rough time coming off of the anesthesia a year ago for a tooth extraction and we have decided no more surgeries as there’s a good chance he wouldn’t survive and I don’t want him to die like that.

        I think he’d be happiest in his space but he would get lonely.

    4. Morning reader*

      You might consider an indoor camera/microphone setup in addition to a cat sitter while you’re gone. Put it somewhere near your cat’s usual hangout and you could talk to him once a day. (let cat sitter know it’s on of course.) it could help with your cat’s loneliness or it might confuse him. (I have a camera on my pitch/catio so I can watch them while they’re out there, and I’ve noticed they turn toward my voice if I use their names.)
      If you are considering getting another, younger cat some day, perhaps do it before this trip. You have to pay for a sitter anyway.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I was remembering other threads where people are looking for better WFH situations or they want to escape their roommates for a while. Could you ask around if someone would appreciate the opportunity to live in with your cat for a few months? A lot of people would be happy to do that for free if they got to have the place to themselves.

    1. Generic Name*

      Ooh, following! I’ve been looking at Thinx brand, but at $30 a pop, they’d better be good.

      1. Effie*

        I started using cotton Thinx as a backup for my menstrual cup last month and I like them! I have a pretty heavy flow so the exact instructions apply to me (in terms of number of hours). I don’t like how “sealed” and unbreathable it feels for overnight so at night I use my cup and a cotton overnight pad and regular underwear but that’s my own bias.

        1. Ddddaisy*

          Interesting, I prefer them at night for that reason. Guaranteed not to stain your sheets!
          They are quite hot in the summer, but I’d rather sleep with nothing but Thinx on (I use them as a backup for normal pads). No more waking up with ruined sheets.

    2. Effie*

      A friend of mine uses Period Aisle (formerly lunapads) and she swears by them, but she bought them when they were lunapads and I haven’t asked her if Period Aisle feels different.

    3. Elf*

      I’m curious too – I stocked up on Pink Daisy reusable pads when my son was born (if you’re going to cloth diaper might as well, right?) and I like them a LOT better than regular pads, but I think that period underwear would fix the few annoying things about them, and even though I really can’t justify replacing my supply I’d like to know people’s opinions. I will say that if the period underwear hold up anywhere near as well as the pads it’s worth it. Mine are (somewhat stained but) not noticeably worn after 5+ years of use.

    4. Super Anon*

      I bought some a few months ago. They work as advertised but they are interesting.

      I don’t think I would want to wear them on a regular day, but they’ve been good for days I needed a backup (unpredictable flow or far from decent bathrooms) and for my exceptionally light last day when I’m done with products but might have some spotting.

      They absorb fine…but I do NOT like the feeling of the underwear once it’s absorbed anything. I saw a review on a website that described it as a cold damp towel to your entire undercarriage and that’s just about right.

      Also I wore it to an outdoor event on a nice day as a backup to products and had the most incredible case of swamp ass this side of the Mississippi has ever seen. They do NOT breath at all.

      I wish I’d had some sooner as a backup to my regular products, but would not consider them an alternative to products on all but my lightest days, just because of comfort.

        1. Super Anon*

          Bambody, and off-brand on Amazon. I wanted to try them before spending a lot of money on name brand.

    5. Whiskey on the rocks*

      I have 6 pairs of Thinx now. I use far fewer disposables, and in general I feel like my period is less painful as well as shorter. On my heaviest days (especially if I’m at work) I start with a tampon and can go the rest of the day with just my Thinx. There are different absorbencies and fits, and while I have had leaks a couple times, they’ve been because i wore the wrong pair for either of those reasons. Knowing your flow is key. But they dont smell like a pad does, and if they start feeling wet you’re getting close to needing to change it. In the evenings I rinse them in the shower and hang them there until I do laundry. You *cannot* put them in the dryer; it affects their absorbency. I wash mine in a lingerie bag so I can easily pull them out to hang dry. So you need enough to get you through a couple of days. Cost-wise, no, they arent less expensive than disposables when you consider how many pairs you need. But they are so comfortable and I feel so confident in them that to me they are worth it.

    6. Helvetica*

      I am generally a pad user, for context, and I’ve tried Thinx. I wanted to love it so much and I just…didn’t. To me, the biggest problem is that the underwear doesn’t really dry and remains moist, even on normal flow days, and I hate that sensation so much. I didn’t have problems with leakage but I was constantly worried about it so I think I made it like 4 hours and then went home to change them into my normal underwear (I live very close to work so it was convenient, not necessarily an emergency). So I’ve gone back to pads since I don’t like things that insert – both tampons and cups – and the underwear just wasn’t what I wanted it to be.

    7. Melody Pond*

      I’ve tried Thinx. They are okay, but I find cloth pads more comfortable and easier to use. Thinx, in my opinion, do a slightly poorer job at a much higher cost. Especially if you’re just looking for something to use as a backup for cups or tampons – you can get medium absorbency cloth pads that are pretty thin/not bulky, but long enough to provide good coverage, and that also have a good waterproof backing to them.

    8. JustEm*

      I have Thinx and I really like them as a backup for a menstrual cup or on days when I think I *might* get my period. I don’t use them alone except on very light days, but I have heavy flow. I like the cotton Thinx better than the original.

    9. Fellow Traveller*

      Can I ask (sorry if this is thread jacking)- Igbo you use reusable pads – what brand do you use and what is your wash routine? We use cloth diapers so i’m thinking some kind of reusable pad or underwear might not be a terrible stretch for me.

    10. Quagga*

      I just tested a pair of period underwear from Aisle (formerly Lunapads) and I loved them! I’m definitely going to get some more. Disclaimer that I think I have a relatively light period compared to other people (heavy flow for me = two regular pads during the day), but it was so much more comfortable than disposable pads. It honestly felt like I was cheating somehow.

  49. Potatoes gonna potate*

    The etiquette of being invited to someone’s home — in my culture it’s very common to bring a food item when you’re invited to someone’s home for the first time. It’s usually a dessert or if not food then an item for the home. For the most part it’s so widely practiced and very well received.

    I’m curious to know how it’s done around the country/world.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      If I was invited to a meal I would definitely offer to bring something, regardless of if it was the 1st or 12th time. If I was invited to a game night or something of the sort, I would offer to bring something along the lines of chips and dip. Either was the offer would likely be phrased as, “What can I bring?” instead of, “Can I bring something?” I would expect to be asked to make something like a specific type of side or a dessert for a meal. I would not show up at somebody’s house with food they were not expecting. If I was the host, I would probably have in mind what I would ask the guest to bring if they offered, but would not be surprised if they did not.

      Generally, bringing food is looked on as helping with the work of the meal rather than a gift or a thank you.

      If I was going to visit somebody’s NEW home for the first time, I would be very likely to bring a housewarming gift, which is typically a blanket or candle or something else homey.

      1. Jackalope*

        I would agree except that in more “official” gatherings (for example, a birthday party), often people (at least in my group) will mention something in the invite. For example, “Here are the beverages I have; if you want to bring something else feel free!” Or, “I have the main dish covered but sides are welcome.” Things like that, so not everyone has to contact the host to see what to bring.

        (Amusing side story: 4 or so years ago I was having a birthday party and one of my guests was my teenage nephew who was doing his best to eat all of the food in our county, or so it seemed. You know, THAT phase of growing up, the bottomless pit. I wrote to a friend that likes cooking and said, “Help!!! [Nephew] is coming, I have enough food for everyone else, but not for a teenager too!” She came through admirably, my nephew was actually full, and we all got to eat! Not that he would have eaten all the food, since he is well-raised, but he would have wanted to…)

    2. All the cats 4 me*

      I would say that nearly every food based gathering in my husband’s family becomes a pot luck – everyone asks what they should bring (the sisters bring potato salad, ham, lasagna, the brothers bring chips or pop, go figure!) and definitely their own alcohol if they drink.

      For more casual visits, most people will bring along whatever alcoholic drink they prefer, if it is a pre-arranged gathering.

      My family, if you are invited to a meal, you would probably ask if anything could be brought, but likely wouldn’t feel bad about not bringing something if you didn’t ask. It is not as strong a convention. Often the host would say – oh, if you want to being a dessert, that would be great.

      If you are going to stay overnight or a few days with my family, on the other hand, definitely bring pre-made food or groceries (like steaks or ham) for at least one big meal. I just realized that I have never stayed overnight with husbands fam in over 30 years so I don’t know what the procedure there would be! We all live in the same town so that has never come up.

      If you are visiting non-family for the first time, and it is not specifically for a meal, I would probably only think of bringing a gift (food or other) if they had recently moved to the area.

      My somewhat interesting story is about being invited by sister-in-law to their lake cabin for the day. She was very anxious to let us know that they were providing everything, and “All you need to bring is whatever you want to eat and whatever you want to drink.

      Makes me laugh every time I think about it.

    3. Helvetica*

      In my Eastern European country, food is fine, unless the host is explicitly hosting a dinner and tells you not to bring anything. Then it would be rude to bring food – as if you consider their food to be worse than what you’re bringing. A bottle of wine or high quality spirits has become very common as well.
      Something I don’t think many other cultures do is flowers. It doesn’t have to be a celebration of an occasion but flowers are a nice thing to do for the host. Whenever I do it for my friends from other cultural backgrounds though, they are always surprised, so that’s leading me believe it is a niche practice and not something widely done.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Interesting! In my (northern European) culture it is common to give flowers (or wine) as a gift for the host if you are «officially» invited, although you don’t have to. This applies more to formal settings, though, and is Quite Polite.

        E.g. for Christmas, which is hosted by my aunt and uncle, we (usually) bring flowers. For a birthday, I would bring a gift to the birthday person (e.g. Tiny Cousin), and flowers for the host (Parent Big Cousin).

        1. Helvetica*

          Yes, the example you gave also works, it is very appropriate to divide the presents and flowers. But even if I’m just going over to a friend’s, I’d bring flowers, definitely the first time I’m there. If it’s a regular hangout, then flowers would be overkill but sporadic events do lend themselves to flowergiving.
          Also a sidenote – if you’re giving a person flowers, it has to be an odd number, .e.g 7 roses. You bring even numbers of flowers to funerals and to the cemetery, i.e. for the dead. Don’t ask me why but this is a very strong custom/superstition. I’m not particularly superstitious but I cannot bring myself to buy an even number of flowers