weekend open thread – November 7-8, 2020

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork, by Reeves Wiedeman. OMG, y’all. If you like real-life stories of terrible management and the downfall of hubris, you will be so fascinated by this story of what happened at WeWork. (Think of all the start-up horror stories you’ve ever heard and then multiply them by 10; they’re in this book.) Along similar lines, if you haven’t yet read Bad Blood, about the massive fraud at Theranos, read that too.

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

{ 1,096 comments… read them below }

  1. Xenia*

    Movie rec along similar line’s to Alison’s books: the Untouchables, about the team of federal agents who took down Capone. The actors are excellent, the movie is well plotted, and the set and costume design is beautifully accurate.

    1. Ms Job Search*

      And a well-deserved Oscar win for Mr. Connery!

      I’ll share my film rec: Bringing Up Baby, starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. Not particularly related to anything recent, just a good screwball comedy with a bonus appearance from a runaway leopard.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        My favourite Grant/Hepburn comedy is Holiday – check it out!
        Has some acrobatics (Grant was an acrobat), but no leopards. Quite a touching story, too.

    2. PollyQ*

      Just introduced my parents to Master & Commander tonight and was relieved that they loved it as much as I do.

    3. Paperwhite*

      Oh man I love that movie.

      In the cops and robbers vein I’ll rec _Out of Sight_, based on an Elmore Leonard work, with a surprisingly excellent portrayal of a woman doing her job, being intelligent and awesome, and weaving in a love story with the most charming bank robber. Also features stellar, chilling acting from Don Cheadle as the main bad guy, and a cameo at the end that will delight.

    4. Notasecurityguard*

      Movie rec in line with Xenia’s rec. It’s a film noir that’s a very thinly veiled version of the los Angeles streetcar conspiracy and a look at the darker side of public works, the shady connection between money and politics and the various ways minorities were exploited in 1930s america.

      I’m referring of course to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”

  2. Potatoes gonna potate*

    A few days ago I came across a post about Mundane Halloween, where people dress up as “normal, everyday people.” It’s so charming and I encourage all to take a look if you’re seeking light hearted distractions.

  3. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I realized this week that ‘wear whatever you want’ with social isolation can mean dressing up as well as dressing down. Because winter is here, I find myself wanting an elegant long-sleeved wool dress, a Victorian quilted dressing gown, or a floor length skirt made out of insulated fabric. And all the knit silk & linen shirts & shifts to go with them.
    Is anyone else thinking of styles out of style like this?

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Not me personally, but I know that one of Zack Pinsent’s (guy who wears Regency fashion in his everyday life) first videos has him chilling in a banyan and basically going over the history of that garment. I found it utterly fascinating.

      1. fposte*

        I’m not a sewer or even that big a history buff, but I *love* Bernadette Banner’s YouTube channel about historical dress and creating and wearing it now. She’s just a great and inviting explainer.

        1. Torrance*

          Considering their collaborations you’re probably already aware of her but Morgan Donner is a peach as well.

        2. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Oh yes, Bernadette is great too. The one where she buys a knock-off of her own dress has to be one of the politest roasts I have ever seen.

    2. NeverNicky*

      I we wear vintage style (Fifties) dresses every day (unless I’m gardening!). My concessions to WFH are no shoes and no petticoats

    3. Mystery Bookworm*

      I don’t have any old-school styles like that — but I absolutely get dressed up even to WFH, and have experimented with hair, make-up and some more elaborate or costume-y clothing than I would actually wear to work.

      I find it heartening.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have boxes of various fluffy skirts, bustles and corsetry that I would wear on the regular, except that I don’t want to have to get it dry cleaned. :) truth is out: I live in yoga pants and t-shirts to keep the laundry simple because I have a fifty pound lap dog. (It’s also hard to lace most corsetry unassisted and nobody else gets up at 5am.)

      1. Middle Aged Lady*

        I saw a video about cat people who had two separate washers and dryers. One for laundry that got hair on it and for everything else. I would lobe that if I got a dog or cat again. My style has definitely changed now that I am petless. I can wear a good sweater without worrying the cat will pull the threads for example. I miss my furry friends but I love being able to lay out clothes on the bed and drape a coat over a chair without fur or claws getting on them!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          the idea of laundry in a house with pets somehow *not* having pet hair on it is a puzzlement to me, haha. I went two years without any pets, during which I moved house twice, and still found the stuff semi-regularly.

          1. Middle Aged Lady*

            I was thinking undergarments and nice clothes that don’t get direct contact. That being said, I find whiskers and claw sheddings in my house to this day—three years after the passing of the last cat.

    5. Rebecca Stewart*

      The only reason I haven’t made myself a wardrobe built around the Gothic Self-supporting Dress, slightly altered to modern lines, is that I’m doing a big weight loss and am waiting to get my body settled into a new shape/size going forward before I make that.

    6. Parenthetically*

      I have a handmade Regency-style dress in a beautiful creamy figured muslin, and it’s SO practical for summer. So light and breezy. But yes, in winter, I become obsessed with the historical winter clothes of England! If you haven’t watched Secrets of the Castle, I highly recommend it, if for nothing else than to admire Ruth Goodman’s GORGEOUS yellow 13th-century dress and incredible waist-length hair.

    7. nep*

      I am having fun dressing up for my only outings–grocery store and post office (+ occasional resale shop stop). It’s a blast.

    8. Queer Earthling*

      I’m a gothy nerd and I’ve been super inspired Jillian Venters (Gothic Charm School, google if you want!) and her Unsettling Governness look in full Victorian Goth mode. That’s not practical for me, but this year my witchy/romantigoth/vampire queen game has improved considerably by being more daring in combinations and layering, and it’s been one of my greatest sources of joy in a hellish year.

    9. nom*

      Not so much clothing but makeup: I’ve been wearing extra dramatic eye makeup, usually applied over lunch. I only do this on days when I’m confident that I won’t need to be on video in the afternoon, as it would definitely raise some eyebrows among my colleagues. Not that anyone would have a problem with it, but let’s just say that it’s a LOT of look and it contrasts strongly with my typical “barely there mascara” and occasional “didn’t bother with makeup this morning” approaches. (I enjoy playing with makeup but not the time commitment that a more elaborate routine would require in the morning, so I keep things deliberately minimalist.)

    10. KR*

      Not so much clothes but makeup. I wear makeup every day almost even if I’m working from home and not going anywhere

    11. Happy*

      I just came across a photo of my grandparents in their 1922 wedding finery. Gram was a flapper bride! Now I want to dress that way!!

    12. Jemima Bond*

      I’m in the middle of making a hooded wool cape. Not really vintage; it’s a modern pattern by New Look but with no reference to current trends in rtw! And next I think a long skirt along the lines of Bernadette Banner’s Victorian walking skirt. I have definitely fallen under her spell in lockdown, and discovering Morgan Donner too. I’ve even started saving my hair brushings for a “rat” to do Edwardian hairstyles!

    13. Kiwi with laser beams*

      Hilary Barry, a TV news host in NZ, wore a tiara for Formal Friday during our lockdown. :)

    14. Anono-me*

      I’ve been mostly doing the ‘no pants no haircut’ quarantine thing. For me, it means a rayon wrap dress and my hair up in a bun. I looks fancier than usual, but the dresses feel like wearing a silky robe. As for the bun, I put my hair up in a ponytail and wrap it in a knot and stick a few hairsticks (and maybe a pen) in it to hold it in place.

      1. ravj*

        I put my hair up as well. I’m happily going gray, but the old color is red, so I’m happier with the old up. Also, I’m a hospice chaplain, so when I’m in the field the bun makes it easier for my shield or goggles.

    15. not_salad*

      My daughter and I sewed a pinafore for her Dorothy Gale Halloween costume, and since I’ve been stuck at home with nothing to do but try to make a dent in the mess everywhere, I’ve been cleaning all day but also wanting to look dressed in time to co-star in her zoom kindergarten. So I’ve been considering making myself some sort of pinafore or house dress out of the old torn duvet cover I have waiting to be made into rags.

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    As usual, this thread is not limited to fiction writing.
    For the NaNoWriMo participants, how has the first week been going?

    1. Liane*

      Not writing for NaNoWriMo. However, I am beta-reading for a friend who is writing. It’s sci-fi and the main character is a courier working for a crimeboss. Not bad at all. And he said when he’s finished writing and revising, I can do the proofreading!
      Reason I am not trying NaNoWriMo is I am just finishing up doing 2-3 months of once a week game articles for the blog. I have second carpal tunnel surgery in a couple weeks and we will probably be moving in December/January. This way I won’t have to bother with writing during that time. Just do the editing pass on the other writers’ submissions. Thank goodness they’ve finally (re)learned the difference between rough and final drafts so I don’t have to bounce stuff back to be fixed.

    2. Beancat*

      I’m waiting on the results of a zine I applied to and it’s nerve wracking! They’re taking only six writers so I’m nervous.

    3. Rebecca Stewart*

      I’ve been working on plotting and motivation for two very different stories, but talking through how it works is enough for now, what with the other things going on this week. My plan is that in 2021 I’m going to prioritize writing, and that will give me at least one and possibly two books by the end of the year that I can shop to a fantasy publishing house. This year I was prioritizing weight loss, and I’m down 50 pounds. Not that that will stop in January, just move to a back burner while I focus on writing.

    4. Pink Dahlia*

      I have been unable to calm down and focus thus far, given the state of the world. Hoping to change that this week. Zero word count a week in, not good.

    5. Queer Earthling*

      Not doing NaNo, but I got over a plot issue in a personal writing project that I’m happy about, and I’ve been producing some stuff for The Blog that I’m satisfied with. (My blog also just made it into a pretty important Top 100 list for the particular topic I blog about, so I’m really happy about that!)

    6. Forensic13*

      I’m working on NaNo! I’m about a day behind, but I should be able to catch up some more before the end of the night. I’m adding to last year’s book, which makes it a little trickier to think of new content as easily. And man I miss the in-person writing meetings!

    7. Julia*

      Not great. I wasn’t feeling well this week and my creative juices aren’t flowing, but I’m full of self doubt. Maybe I should have eased back into writing with some old fanfic stuff instead of starting a new project with fleshed out characters, but not much of a story. This happens when you read mostly fantasy, but want to write non-fantasy for now.

    8. KristinaL*

      I’m still thinking about self-publishing through https://www.createspace.com/ but I’m getting nervous because they want my social security number. I understand they need it for taxes, but I have no idea how secure they really are. Has anyone else done this? Thanks!

    9. OyHiOh*

      I need to write an artist’s statement this afternoon, for a competition submission that’s due Tuesday. Words are usually my strong suite but this is not going well.

  5. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    Due to my cat sending me to bed early I unfortunately didn’t finish Sherlock Holmes: The Awaked like I wanted to, but I’m getting there.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Also, as usual this is not limited to video games (nor do we talk about “real” games here – what does that mean anyway?). Feel free to talk about anything from your adventures with Candy Crush to the board games you play with your family.

    2. Torrance*

      Happy N7 Day to those who ‘celebrate’ it! :D There’s some buzz that they’re finally going to be announcing a remastered trilogy– and while I think 2 & 3 are perfect, ME1 could definitely use some TLC.

      1. Squeebird*

        A remastered trilogy? We have dismissed that claim. :)

        I am very much looking forward to shooting up evil space robots with my boy Garrus in glorious high resolution.

    3. Detective Rosa Diaz*

      I have a week off and my friend lent me her PS4 to play Dragon Age (and maybe also Mass Effect)! First time! I am excited.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I recently downloaded a bit of nonsense called Physics Balls on my phone that involves throwing watermelons at numbered bricks to break them before they get to the top of the screen, and it is weirdly enthralling.

    5. Liane*

      Last Saturday’s Mutants & Masterminds (superhero RPG) game wasn’t Halloween as we expected. I think the GM had Family Stuff crop up so didn’t have a chance to prep it. We still had fun with our newb teen heroes at a My Hero Academia type school. My PC is a telepath/telekinetic, one of the large number of alien refugees who fled to Earth from a destroyed Space Republic. PC ‘s family and mentors insisted she enroll in this school because her powers are much greater than the typical Space Republic telepath and to familiarize herself with Earth cultures. During this session PC participated in training with her new teammates and learned that Pillow Forts are a key part of Earth dorm life.

    6. L*

      I downloaded Sims 4 last week, haven’t had the time to play it yet. I haven’t played since Sims 2 and I don’t know if I am gonna like it or not. Cautiously optimistic.

      1. Purt’s Peas*

        It takes a bit of a learning curve, but I really liked it in the end (I remember it took a little while for me to get used to the UI and stuff). I think you’ll have a good time with it :)

      2. Lonely Aussie*

        Sims 4 is great in some aspects and really poor in others. Love the building side of things but sometimes the Sims themselves feel a bit flat.

    7. Mystery Bookworm*

      Disclaimer: Not a gamer myself, so I apologise if this isn’t the sort of post this thread is intended for!

      I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for games (tablet-based, console-based or analog) that a parent could enjoy with a young child? COVID lockdowns and the cold mean we’re stuck inside more than we’d like, and I’m debating a game for my partner to share with my daughter as a Christmas present.

      At this point, the present is definitely a little more for my partner than my daughter, since she’s pretty young — but he loves games and I think it would make him happy to have something he could introduce t0 her. Especially as I can sometimes be hard to rope into games!

      (To fend off any concern: like all parents, we keep an eye on screen time, but I feel like collaborative game-play is something we can incorporate pretty healthily.)

      1. Beancat*

        Yall might like Animal Crossing! It’s something I used to play together with my family when I was a kid as we built up our little town together. Even tagging out and taking turns, we enjoyed it.

        My husband recommends Overcooked, as it definitely requires a large amount of collaboration. It’s super fun!

      2. Hi there*

        These may be off base since I don’t know the age of your little one. The first game we enjoyed together was Zingo. (I mean, the lad enjoyed Candyland …) Other games on the younger side that we still play occasionally are Santorini, Sushi Go, Zeus on the Loose, Crazy 8s, and Rush Hour. We also played classics like Trouble (a Star Wars version), Life, Monopoly, and Risk. Kiddo is a teenager now, and as a family we play Catan, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, and Forbidden Island or Forbidden Desert. When the lad would babysit he would bring Snap Circuits Junior to build stuff with the kid he was watching.

        1. Marika*

          There’s a great junior version of Ticket to Ride that’s solidly adult-playable. My First Scythe is also excellent. My kiddo is 7, and I’d say for 5+ you could go Gnomes at Night (co-op for 2 or 4), Labrynth, Sagaland, as well as the classics. Once they’re 6+ I’d add Spirits of the Wild (for 2 only I’m afraid), TtR and MLS, we’ve had really good luck with Splendor (it says 8+, ignore that), Small World (learning curve, but fun), Tsuro, … I’ll have to check the shelves for more.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            Thank you! It’s good to have some that are for two only, I think, especially since we’re not in a position to be having lots of people around.

            1. Marika*

              So, my husband and kiddo say I should add Dragonwood (card game, kind of like a D&D game, good for 2-5 players), Blockus Duo (you can get a board for 4, but the Duo is more manageable for younger kids), Code Masters (a puzzle style game that teaching programming logic but is actually a lot of fun for just puzzling through), and Rhino Hero (a stacking game that can be played by 2 – 6 players).

              If you’ve got a really little one (under 4), Press Here – based on the book – is a great intro to board games.

        2. Mystery Bookworm*

          Ooh, those look great. I might spring for Zingo and Crazy 8s.

          I still associate Monopoly with one of the most epic fights my immediate family ever had, LOL! But perhaps worth a revisit now that I’m no longer twelve.

      3. Liane*

        *Animal Crossing is good for all ages, as others mentioned. I recently read on Washington Post about families/friends playing together instead of trick or treating or birthday parties this year.
        *Untitled Goose Game (video game) which now allows a second goose, is easy & fun for all & is inexpensive (US$20).
        *Cataan boardgame is one we have been playing since grown kids were in elementary school. It says ages 10+ but ours had no trouble learning/playing at ages 6 & 8. Expansions IME are much harder.
        *Sone tabletop roleplaying games are suitable for elementary ages, with age appropriate scenarios & genres & very short sessions (an hour or so max). If you aren’t familiar with RPGs yourself, you might want to go with one aimed at kids/families. “No Thank You, Evil!” by Monte Cook Games is the best known. I haven’t played it, since my kids had been playing regular RPGs for years when it came out.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          Untitled Goose Game looks great! Thank you.

          I’ve not considered an RPG but I get the impression that they involve imagination and are collaborative than competative? Which would definitely be good for getting me involved — part of the reason I struggle with games is that competition can ratchet up my stress level, so I do better with collaborative games. And I like the storytelling aspect. That sounds fun! Plus room for little ones to improvise they might not get in a more traditional game….

          So glad I asked for ideas!

      4. JenC*

        Absolutely go with Animal Crossing. It is magical. We bought it for my 7 year old daughter and now everyone bar my husband plays(14 year old and 11 year old sons and me, a grown 37 year old woman who is the far opposite of a gamer). There is only one caveat. Sharing an island with a kid is less fun than each having your own island. If you share an island (ie share one switch lite, one copy of the game) only one of you truly controls the choices on the island,the other is more like a secondary user. If you can afford to splurge, I would get two switch lites, and two copies if the game. It is worth it. My kids (Canada) and my niece and nephew in Australia visit each other virtually as there is no chance they will see each other in person for the foreseeable future. It is adorable. What I find good about this game is the very slow pace, the need to let things develop, lack of instant gratification and obnoxious flashing sounds…it is endlessly creative and actually builds a lot of reading comprehension and vocab skills for younger kids. Speaking as as adult, I am totally devoted to my island and my little animal villagers. So, so therapeutic. All the heart eyes.

        1. Julia*

          Doesn’t the Switch Lite let you create separate accounts? You should be able to have one per user, but I don’t play AC so I don’t know if that affects the number of islands you can have.

          1. JenC*

            Yes, you can have up to 8 users I believe but all the secondary users will merely have a house on the island belonging to the first. Only the first user has the inventory, the ability to terraform etc I think. I may be wrong there. My sister has a house on her kid’s island. I wanted my own island – ha! I realized this when I had to stop myself being hyper controlling with my poor daughter’s island!

        2. Mystery Bookworm*

          I had no idea Animal Crossing was so popular — but it sounds great. We have a lot of family abroad, so the virtual visitation would be perfect for us.

      5. games*

        Minecraft is a big one. My cousins’ kids could build elaborate redstone powered bases by the time they were 7 or so. It’s so open world and unguided that a bit of help from a parent at the beginning is really needed depending on the age of the kid, but that same formlessness can lead to lots of creativity!

      6. A.N. O'Nyme*

        No problem at all! I’ll mention that this thread is also for game recommendations in the future.
        Others have already mentioned Animal Crossing and Minecraft, which I definitely agree with. A game similar to Minecraft is Dragon Quest Builders, though I will admit I haven’t played those, but it seems to me like there’s a bit more goal-setting than in Minecraft? It may be worth looking into.
        While not console-based, the Humongous Entertainment (Spy Fox, Freddi Fish, Pajama Sam and Putt-Putt) games might also be worth taking a look at – I had a lot of fun playing those as a kid. I don’t know if they exist for tablet, but they’re available on Steam and can run on most systems as they’re quite old, but they’re very fun.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          When I posted, I hadn’t yet noticed your self-reply establishing the thread as a non-gatekeeping space….so I think it’s on me to pay more attention!

          I’m really glad I asked, these recommendations are great. And it’s so much more comforting to get personal thoughts than to just google for lists of popular family games.

    8. Dr.KMnO4*

      Learned that Sagrada (a neat board game about using colored dice to build stained glass windows for the Sagrada Familia) was also made into a phone game. I bought it and have had a lot of fun with the Campaign mode.

      I’m also deep into my 3rd playthrough of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. This one is a Black Eagles playthrough. I’m very impressed with the vastly different story lines of the different routes in FE:3H. Interested to see what the Black Eagles ending brings.

    9. Caterpie*

      I keep seeing articles about Genshin Impact and have to admit I’m quite intrigued. I’ve never played a gacha style game (and am still not quite sure what that entails) and keep seeing mixed opinions on whether its pay-to-win. Anybody have an opinion on the game?

      I might give that a shot or try to get back into League of Legends this weekend.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        “Gashapon” are basically those capsule toys you can get from a vending machine (although in Japan they’re generally of higher quality than what you get in Europe, it seems). “Gacha” is a similar mechanic of randomness where you spend in-game currency (which can be purchased with real money) to get a random character/item in a system similar to loot boxes. As a result, they’ve come under scrutiny for their similarity to gambling.
        I can’t really speak for Genshin Impact, but when I played Fire Emblem Heroes (I can’t play it anymore due to being Belgian – Nintendo has pulled the game from the Belgian app stores and while I could probably just pretend to be from another country honestly I’m not going to go through the trouble) I didn’t find it all that obtrusive, mostly because Nintendo in my experience kinda threw the in-game currency at you at every possible moment. I also didn’t really play online, so maybe that had an effect on my experience as well.

    10. DarthVelma*

      I DID IT!

      I finished the main quest line in Elder Scrolls Online about 15 minutes ago. I whupped Molag Bal’s butt.

    11. another scientist*

      I’m continuing Gloomhaven with friends through tabletop simulator on a weekly basis. We played a Corpsewood scenario with lots of oozes and imps and lost for the second time! Really difficult!

    12. Lonely Aussie*

      I’ve been playing RDR2, enjoying it but mostly bought it for the horses. I have to say I think they did the Morgans so dirty in the game. One of America’s iconic breeds and it’s got such poor stats in an American wild west based game.

  6. Someone101*

    Hi all! If anyone has any advice I would be so grateful! It’s my mums birthday next week and we are currently on lockdown. We had booked afternoon tea at a very fancy hotel which has obviously now been cancelled. Does anyone have any ideas on things we can do indoors instead? I don’t think she will appreciate a homemade afternoon tea, she is really fussy and all about money and appearances; she will most definitely look down her nose at anything homemade! (We don’t really get along as we are the complete opposite!) Any ideas would be really welcome!

    1. Taking the long way round*

      Does the place you wee going to go to do deliveries? I’d order an afternoon tea to your house if so :)

      1. Pennyworth*

        Could you buy or hire all the stuff for a beautiful table setting, and a flower arrangement, so you can make it look as fancy as the hotel? I’d also pick a post-lockdown date for you to have tea at the actual hotel, so she has something to look forward to.

        1. Someone101*

          Hey pennyworth! Well I actually have lots of very expensive China and cake stand etc that we would need as I am a baker and I use them in displays; however mentioned to Taking The Long Way Round she wouldn’t be impressed with this at all as she is all about appearances! She is honestly the fussiest person I have ever met and every birthday and christmas is a nightmare, particularly this year with lockdown! We have rebooked at the hotel, however it’s not until next year as it is a really popular place! Thank you for the suggestion. For any reasonable person this is such a great idea!!!

          1. Outside Earthling*

            You are a baker but she won’t be happy with a homemade tea party? I wouldn’t be jumping through any hoops at this point. Rebook for next year and move on. You have solid reasoning for not doing anything in a public setting, which would seem to be the only activity that would be acceptable.

            1. Someone101*

              I know, we are just very opposite people and my sister is ‘the favourite’ so it doesnt matter what I do she is never impressed! It doesnt bother me personally though I’m used to it; I still want her to have a somewhat nice birthday though as she has no friends or anything so it’s only my sister and I making the day special for her.

              1. Disco Janet*

                I mean, if she is going to be unimpressed at criticize whatever you do, I wouldn’t bother investing too much energy in planning things. I’m sorry.

                1. Someone101*

                  Thank you, perhaps I will just give my sister money and let her arrange something from the both of us, take the stress out of it!

              2. I'm A Little Teapot*

                There’s a phrase that may be helpful to you. If nothing is ever good enough, then nothing it is.

                1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  This is my approach to several relatives – they are all about the dropping big money places, things I can’t do even though I am still employed and comfortable (which makes me very blessed). They get nothing because I’m not going to bankrupt my family to impress someone who will never be happy anyways.

      2. Someone101*

        Sadly not! It’s a shame because there are lots of companies doing afternoon tea delivery near us which look beautiful; I think it was more about her being able to name drop and say she went to this place rather than the actual AT!

        1. Taking the long way round*

          That’s a tricky one then, especially if you think you could do just as good a job but she wouldn’t be impressed by that.
          Can you buy her some designer perfume or get a named handbag or something? Or a subscription to a well known magazine?

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          If you can get the place to deliver pastries (or pick them up yourself) she could still name-drop it?

    2. Mystery Bookworm*

      Oh, how frustrating! I don’t have any obvious winners, but some general ideas:

      Fancy flower arrangement

      Expensive bakery-bought pastries for breakfast (something about being surprised and indulgent at breakfast time feels extra special to me)

      The purchase of some sort of subscription (Like a wine-of-the-month club, or a magazine subscription, or Disney+ membership, etc.)

      Delivery from an upscale restaurant if there are any offering it in your area (I know you said the tea doesn’t deliver, but maybe something else — I got Sunday Roast from a fancy gastropub for my partner’s birthday during the last lockdown)

      So tricky to think of upscale things to do when everyone is confined to their homes!!

      1. Someone101*

        This is the exact dilemma! Making it feel special even though you are indoors! But these are some brilliant suggestions thank you; it really helps to have fresh eyes on a situation!

        1. Middle Aged Lady*

          Is she a fan of the royals? I bought a trinket box with Kensington Palace on it for my niece and she loved it. They have some fancy merch at the Historic Royal Palaces shop and at the Royal collection. What could be more name-droppy than something “just like the Queen uses”? Or any product that is from a company with the Royal imprimatur?

    3. Parenthetically*

      This is so hard. Just as a general advice, can you release yourself from the need to impress or even satisfy her — or maybe, cheekily, to let her be unimpressed and snooty since she clearly enjoys that? ;)

      We just bought a very posh hamper for my father-in-law’s pre-lockdown wedding — surely Harrod’s and Fortnum’s are still doing deliveries like that?

      1. Someone101*

        Lol I love this! Honestly speaking, it used to be about impressing her, now I just feel sorry for her. She doesn’t have any friends and has no self esteem, that’s why she has this whole thing of showing off fancy things to make her look good. But if my sister and I didn’t bother with her she would be alone and that’s sad to me. So I just suck it up and try and give her a good day! A hamper is an excellent idea though, I’m going onto the harrods website now!

      2. Me*

        In the US, a hamper is something you put dirty clothes in.

        We call it a gift basket.

        Just chuckling at the differences.

        1. Xenia*

          I’ve heard ‘hamper’ used in the US as well, though I think it might be a more northeastern term(?)

          And I’ve always called it specifically a laundry hamper or a laundry basket. I do like knowing how much languages can change!

        2. Parenthetically*

          It’s funny, I’m American and grew up saying “hamper” only for laundry, but I’m married to an Australian and have several English friends, so now it gets all jumbled up!

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If she’s all about upscale, maybe do an item rather than an experience like a fancy brand of scarf or wallet or handbag or trinket that she can eventually show to her friends. Like a Burberry scarf for winter?

    5. fposte*

      Harrod’s hamper?

      But really I think this is a situation where you give it your best shot and understand that somebody contemptuous about what you do for a birthday under COVID is not responding reasonably.

    6. Bagpuss*

      Given what you say about fussiness etc maybe something like flowers and expensive chocolates which shows you have been thoughtful, and if she doesn’t appreciate that it is down to her, not you.
      Of for the bragging rights, maybe a mini hamper from Fortnums or Harrods?

    7. Bagpuss*

      Given what you say about fussiness etc maybe something like flowers and expensive chocolates which shows you have been thoughtful, and if she doesn’t appreciate that it is down to her, not you.
      Of for the bragging rights, maybe a mini hamper from Fortnums or Harrods?

    8. allathian*

      Skip the birthday. She’s clearly impossible to please, so why do you still bother to try? Call her on her birthday and congratulate her, she doesn’t deserve anything more.

    9. Thankful for AAM*

      I said this once to a coworker and she was forever grateful. You have permission not to like or try to please your mother.
      Its ridiculous and you and I both know you don’t need permission but for my coworker, me saying that gave her the external validation she needed. So in case it helps to hear it from an internet stranger – you have permission to not try to impress your mother for her birthday.
      And I would love your homemade treats and expensive china as a birthday treat!

      1. Someone101*

        Thank you random internet stranger!!! You’re so right, it doesnt matter how much you know something, it really does help to hear it from someone else sometimes! It really is the most stressful thing trying to please someone that is never pleased!

        Thank you! She will still get a bespoke cake wether she is grateful or not, it’s just such a shame as there are people that pay big money for these services and she could have it for free but it’s not good enough?! Lol people are funny sometimes.

        1. Can't Sit Still*

          One of the last gifts I gave my mother before going no contact was a basket full of her favorite things. She was very sniffy and disapproving to my face, but I found out later that she loved it and bragged about it all the time…to other people. (Our no contact was mutual – she said she wouldn’t speak to me again because Reasons and for the first time in my life, instead of trying to appease her, I said, “OK, I just want you to be happy, so whatever makes you happy is fine with me.”)

          Feel free to make your mother happy in a similar way!

          1. Someone101*

            I love this so much! And what a beautiful idea…I can relate to this, I get a lot of praise from clients and people for the cakes I make but never from her to my face; however I have seen some messages to someone else saying she thinks I’m talented and she’s proud. Parents can be so puzzling sometimes. It sounds like you handled your situation perfectly.

    10. Someone101*

      Thank you everyone, there have been some brilliant ideas thrown out there, I think I’m going to go with a fancy hamper. Realistically there a pandemic, we are in lockdown and my hands are tied! If she is not grateful then she has learned nothing this year!!!

    11. Esmeralda*

      Well, you’re a mighty nice person for trying to do something to please such a hard to please person.

      Does she make tea at home? You could send her a nice electric kettle or a teapot and cozy. LOL I’d send her a Brown Betty teapot…

  7. Taking the long way round*

    Alison, your cats look so sweet! I remember a while ago you asked about if 6 cats were considerably more work than 5? Do you find now that it hasn’t made much difference having 6 cats?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It doesn’t feel like much of a difference work-wise. That said, my husband handles the litter boxes and might disagree. I think it risks posing more of an issue when they are older — the prospect of having multiple cats with health issues at the same time is one reason I was resisting. But for now, it’s pretty great, especially since they all like each other. (We really lucked out in that department.)

  8. Jules the First*

    I am, somewhat miraculously, ten weeks pregnant and somewhere between the neverending nausea and the giddy joy, I have an emerging bump (and yes I know it’s early, but it seems to be genetic, as it happened to both my sisters and my mom) which means it’s time to start building a maternity wardrobe. What was in your wardrobe? What was your favourite go-to piece? What did you buy but never wear?

    1. Potatoes gonna potate*


      My favorite item were maternity leggings from Torrid and maternity jeans from Target; surprisingly for the latter I had to size way down. I like my leggings to be ultra high rise.

      Otherwise, I already had a big belly so I didn’t really show as pregnant until I was 36 weeks along and thus didn’t really need a lot of maternity wear. Instead I just took this as “permission” to wear the fitted tops and dresses I didn’t feel comfortable wearing pre pregnant, so I’d show off my belly. Probably the only time in my life I enjoyed getting dressed haha

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Well, it was a very long time ago, but I distinctly remember a beautiful winter coat that I wore for a grand total of 4 seconds! For one, the baby had turned me into a walking furnace, and two, I could have easily worn my regular coat open if I had actually felt cold. I was the last of my friends to be pregnant, which was awesome! I got lots of hand me down maternity clothes, and later baby gear, AND had a full roster of teens wanting to babysit! Think lightweight layers. You’ll probably find that you’re always either too hot or too cold, and switching between without warning. Wishing you a happy and healthy baby! Congratulations!

    3. D'Euly*


      I was not in a terribly formal work environment, and my wardrobe was basically black maxi skirts (the same size as pre-pregnancy) paired with a long, nicely fitted maternity sweater. Many of them also come in nursing styles, which extend their usefulness postpartum if you are breastfeeding! I could layer various tanks/camis underneath, which helped the problem of constantly needing a different-sized bra.

      I did find that by the ninth month, my normal work shoes (staid and supportive as they are) no longer provided enough support, and I had to go everywhere in sneakers. That was a surprise.

    4. Mystery Bookworm*


      Everyone is different, but in my case I mostly invested in over-sized sweaters or dresses that I could continue to wear even post-baby. It helped that those loose, breezy dresses were very in vogue while I was pregnant. I still wear the sweaters and dresses I bought when I was pregnant.

      I was loathe to buy anything pricey for a temporary state, so I got cheap maternity jeans from H&M, even though I normally try to avoid fast-fashion. Hated them, they were so saggy and uncomfortable. Returned them and got cheap maternity jeans from Gap. Those ripped immediately. Replaced them with a pair from ASOS with a waistband that kept rolling down over my belly and wouldn’t stay up!

      Finally I sprung for an expensive pair from Madewell, and I actually ended up wearing them basically every day. They lasted my whole pregnancy and I even patched them and kept wearing them during the post-partum period.

      So in my case it would have been much cheaper and less wasteful to just have sprung for the expensive pants in the first place.

      But I’m also very dedicated to wearing denim — most women I know skipped jeans altogether during pregnancy.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Had the same experience with maternity jeans. Didn’t even try when it came to my second pregnancy.

        Loose dresses in Gingham, poplin, or seersucker were my go to items. They were dressy enough for work but light weight enough to keep me from overheating (pregnant in the Deep South during the height of summer twice).

    5. Anona*

      So many A line dresses. Leggings were nice. A maternity denim skirt. A nice long open cardigan. My third trimester was summer, so YMMV!
      A friend told me about these huge seasonal kids’/parents’ consignment sales that happen a couple of times a year, and that was such a lifesaver. I got the majority of my wardrobe for $110 though I know they’re rarer in covid.

    6. Firecat*

      Congrats! I noticed underwear not fitting me as early as 6 weeks pregnant. My hips were expanding and popping as early as 4 weeks.

      I had good luck at a local maternity store getting dresses. I found 3 quarter sleeve dresses for 15. These were comfortable and nice enough for work. Maternity underwear was amazing and I regretted not wearing them sooner thinking it was “too early”.

      The only issue I ran into was coworkers complaining about the way I sat in dresses. Even though they admitted that I was never flashing underwear or anything, they apparently complained anyway and demanded I get leggings. I refused – after all I got dresses specifically to deal with the fact that pants were really uncomfortable and I doubt leggings would have been much better after a few more weeks. I think they just didn’t like seeing my fat thighs. YMMV but my advice is don’t let people bully you into maternity wear you don’t want that makes them more comfortable.

    7. Green great dragon*

      I got a couple of non-maternity wool dresses and loose tops which got me through the first few (winter) months and I’ve continued to wear regularly since. Then lighter-weight maternity dresses for the last few (spring) months which were fine but I’ve never worn again. Plus maternity tights.

    8. Natalie*

      I got most of my maternity stuff from Old Navy, which hit the best combo of reasonable price-reasonable quality for my particular style. If it’s feasible I would try a lot of stuff on. Old Navy doesn’t carry their maternity stuff in stores (although you can return in store) so I just made huge orders and huge returns.

      Sometimes you will run into people who insist you need this or will hate that, but really every body, even every pregnancy, is different. I mainly wore pants, jeans, and sweaters, never needed maternity underwear, bigger shoes, or a maternity winter coat despite being due in April and living in MN.

    9. Jessie*

      Two maternity jeans, two maternity leggings, about three or four maternity dresses. And a couple of baggy tops. That’s it. Don’t spend too much, it’s totally pointless :)

    10. Fran*

      Congratulations! Others have given nice recommendations for clothes so I will add the jacket extension. Where I live gets really cold and maternity jackets are super expensive. You can use it o wear your baby later. Just make sure to read reviews before buying. Amazon ones had terrible reviews so, I went local and got one that fits my jacket.

    11. allathian*

      Congratulations on your pregnancy!

      Before I got pregnant, I lost about 15 kilos/30+ lbs of weight. I had bought new smaller slacks, but instead of buying maternity pants, I just went back to my pre-weight loss pants. I bought one pair of maternity pants just before our wedding when I was 32 weeks pregnant. I definitely didn’t want a white wedding, so I also bought a knee-length dressy maternity tunic that I haven’t worn since. Altough given my current figure, it’d probably fit quite well now…

      I did buy lots and lots of pregnancy underwear with some support for my growing bump.

    12. Generic Name*

      I loved my maternity jeans from the Gap. This was 14 years ago, and I remember one of my coworkers being surprised my jeans were maternity because they fit me so cute (her words). My big piece of advice is to only buy what fits you now for the current season. I remember buying some really cute pieces for the season ahead but by the time the weather was appropriate to wear the items, I was too huge to fit into them.

    13. NapkinThief*


      I got pretty much everything at Target. Most helpful things were maternity tanks and the shirt-extender/pants holder thing – helped me to salvage a lot of my pre-pregnancy clothes for a long time. As I got further on I was grateful for the maternity jeans, pants, & leggings that come over the belly – having clothing designed for the odd proportions of my lower half went a long way to helping me feel comfortable & confident.

      I wore a lot of compression socks too, which I think helped when my feet started swelling a lot in the last trimester.

      Also, a friend gifted me a belly support band that ended up being a LIFE SAVER!!! I will try to dig it up to find the brand, but it was seriously awesome.

      4 tank tops (1 white, 1 gray, 2 black)
      1 belly band (shirt extender)
      1 support band
      2 maternity jeans (1 over belly)
      2 maternity dress pants
      2 maternity leggings (over the belly)

      And that pretty much did it. I got some more things as gifts but I think I would have been fine without them.

    14. Parenthetically*

      I LIVED in my Target and Kohl’s maternity shorts during warm weather and maternity leggings in cold weather. I prefer the over-the-bump style, so comfy. I had lots of cute tunics and drapey cardigans for winter, and in addition to being incredibly comfortable, if you get the right fabrics they look really chic — and if they’re cut right, they’ll last much longer than just maternity! I have several pieces that I still wear and will continue to wear that don’t read as “maternity,” but as “flowy” or “drapey.”

      I had a couple pairs of maternity jeans but wore them much less often than leggings and shorts. I bought a handful of dresses for my first pregnancy when I was still working, and they were SO practical to just be able to throw on.

    15. Fellow Traveller*

      How exciting! I lived in tunic sweaters/ sweatshirt dresses and leggings and yoga pants (regular leggings/pants worn under the bump) for my winter pregnancies and sun dresses for my summer pregnancies. Uniqlo has a great dress with a built in bra that I wore all the time. They don’t have a maternity section per se, but a lot of their clothes are bum friendly and maybof their skirts have elastic waists. Most of what I had was not specifically maternity – just stretchy and pretty. Definitely layers too. I had a maternity hoodie and a vest from Gap that I wore constantly in the winter in lieu of getting a maternity coat. I don’t know what your budget is, but I do recommend splurging in two or three nicely made pieces that are also nursing friendly. (I love Seraphine, Latched Mama and Teat and Cosset. ASOS also has some maternity clothes that aren’t boring and at a lower price point. ) I know some people are of the mind that you shouldn’t spend money on clothes that you will only wear for a couple of months, but I wanted one or two “go to” pieces where I felt put together and not just stop gap. Maternity pants did nothing for me. As for skirts look for skirts with fold over waistbands.

    16. RagingADHD*


      Absolute best item was belly bands in black & white. They were great for extending the life on anything with a zip, as well as making the transition into slightly-too-big maternity wear, and back down again into regular clothes afterwards.

    17. Aurora Leigh*


      I’m 15 weeks pregnant with my first so I don’t really have any advice yet. But I am really appreciating the wrap skirts I bought back in March! I bought a pair of maternity jeans at Target (below the bump style) and I’m not sure how much I like them. They’re a little short for me.

    18. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Maternity pants are useful – I got one jeans and one black slacks. The kind with the stretchy band over the stomach. They are also good post-baby because 1. your stomach doesn’t shrink overnight and 2. they don’t rub or hurt the incision if you end up with a c-section.

      Otherwise a neutral color t-shirt, a sweater and a work top are most of what you need. Compression socks for late in pregnancy when your ankles swell.

      Cardigans and jackets aren’t needed – wear your normal ones.

      I did get a cute set of nursing pajamas (pants, tank top and robe) for the hospital which was useful. Lots of nursing shirts are tank tops which is a bit cold for me without a robe or cardigan.

      1. New mom*

        +1 for wearing your existing jackets and cardigans. I wore them on top of combined maternity and nursing tops that I still use as I nurse my 8mo son. I’m quite tall and busty and I found that maternity tops in my sizes only come in solid black and white but I had some luck in finding few patterned tops at plus size collections. Add a few pairs maternity of trousers, jeans and/or skirts and you have a perfectly work-appropriate wardrobe.

    19. Erin*

      H&M has some great maternity jeans and pants. I had a pair of each and pretty much alternated between the two for my entire third trimester.

    20. 35w*


      In both my pregnancies, I found I didn’t like “maternity” style clothing and preferred to purchase dresses in my regular style, but a size or two up. Same with shirts – my boobs were so much bigger! I really like long & loose linen blouses which are also great for breastfeeding if you choose that route.

      If you’re into activewear, then definitely get a pair of leggings (or two!) It is so nice to wear something without tight seams on my legs.

      I’d also recommend trying not to pre-empt the way your body shape will change. Just add pieces to your wardrobe as you grow with a little bit of wiggle room so that they will fit for the next 4-6 weeks.

      My bump really came in around the 25 week mark so hold off any big purchases until then if you can!

    21. Not that Leia*

      Congratulations!!! I found I really hated the over-belly waistbands, but I know others who wouldn’t wear anything else, so maybe try both ways before committing to a style. I found t-shirt style dresses + leggings + open sweaters (those don’t need to be maternity)covered 90% of my wardrobe. But I did buy long, brightly colored maxi dress that I loved—it ended up being my favorite thing, just because it felt special and celebratory. Which, especially late in pregnancy, is always a bonus. Oh, and ThredUP has an excellent (cost effective) maternity selection!

    22. HBJ*

      I thrifted or sewed most of mine. I’m a denim person. Probably the best maternity jeans were Liz Lange. Old Navy were terrible. They fit me in the thighs – I couldn’t go smaller if I tried – but were too loose in the hips. I’ve never had an issue with my thighs being the wrong size before, and I love Old Navy regular jeans, so their maternity ones were just weirdly proportioned. I also really failed Target’s cross low in the back ones. They just constantly fell down.

      I liked Motherhood Maternity and Liz Lange for Target (sadly, no longer around, but you can find it second hand) best.

    23. PostalMixup*


      I had two types of maternity jeans. There was the kind with the two-inch wide underbelly band that worked really well for early pregnancy and postpartum, but that I hated in late pregnancy. The over-belly band jeans were great for late, but I couldn’t keep them up early. If you think you might breastfeed, I’d recommend getting some nursing tops. Most work well during pregnancy, too. I recommend layering for tops – buy a bunch of short sleeved maternity shirts, then add open cardigans or sweaters or jackets as it gets cooler (or the reverse for you – start with the jackets, take them off when spring comes!). I’m usually freezing, but babies turn me into a human furnace.

    24. Gamer Girl*

      A little late on this, but my favorite item was my maternity tights. I invested in them (I think two pairs were 30 euros, from Calzedonia), and they were an item that I wore until I was 4 months postpartum, so I got a year’s use out of them. I still sometimes wear them now since one is a particular color that I don’t have currently in regular tights–they were good quality!

      During my first pregnancy, I lived in my one pair of maternity jeans (with two-three maternity tops) and one maternity dress.

      For my second pregnancy, the tights allowed me to have a lot more versatility in my wardrobe (wearing flowy sundresses with cardigans), and they were SO comfy. They provide a bit of support to your growing belly, which is nice. I also had a medical belt that I wore daily over or under my clothes, so it really helped to have the tights to prevent chafing.

  9. Mi-MOH-sah*

    We are looking for a new vacuum cleaner and I’d love your advice. Our condo is small (1.5 rooms) but we get a lot of dust. Boyfriend’s sensitive to dust so we’d need something with an alllergy filter. Space is limited for storage. We’re also short on time so we’re considering a robotic one. Are those any good and worth it for a small space? Do you have any favorite brands for traditional or robotic vacuum cleaners?
    It’s going to be our Xmas gift from our families and ourselves so we are willing to splurge a little if we get something we’ll able to use for long, also when we finally have a house and more floors to clean.

    1. WS*

      Robot vacuum cleaners are really good for keeping down pet hair and dust, but they don’t often have allergy filters and they are not as strong or versatile as a regular vacuum cleaner. Most of my house if floorboards, and the carpet in the bedrooms is not thick pile, but I still need to use the regular vacuum once a week. If I only had one vacuum, it would have to be the traditional one. The one I have is a Dyson and it’s fantastic. It needed repairs at one stage and they paid for it to be sent to their service centre in the city, and charged only $85 total for two new parts and complete cleaning.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes, I have some friends with a roomba who only have hard floors and high furniture and it works well as an only vacuum in pretty much only that scenario.

    2. Arya Parya*

      I had a Roomba in my apartment. Was very happy with it. But you do need a regular vacuum to reach certain corners, clean out the couch, etc. I would have it run when I was out for work and do a manual touch up once a week.

      Now I own a house, so the Roomba isn’t that practical anymore. We recently gotten a Dyson and are very happy with it. You grab it a lot easier than a vacuum with a plug. So we find we keep up with vacuuming more than before the Dyson.

      1. MinotJ*

        Same experience. I don’t know if the Dyson is any better than our last vacuum, but having it hanging there and so easy to reach means that we vacuum more.

    3. Mi-MOH-sah*

      Thanks to both of you for the answers. I like the idea of a Dyson and how easy it seems to just grab it and do that corner where the dust collects. I’ll need to see the dimensions but we might be able to store it in the hall or under the bed and then it’s really within reach.

      1. Blueberry*

        I LOVE my Dyson V8 Animal. It really gets everything up and it comes with a bunch of attachments so you can use it in the tightest corners and on carpet and hard floors. I store mine under the bed in a plastic storage container and just charge before using.

      2. Ina Lummivk*

        I have a V6 and it come with a dock and it has a pretty slim profile. You can have the dock up on the wall we had a 1 bedroom at the time and it fits in well.

      3. LDF*

        I store my dyson in pieces in some shelves and I love how little space it takes up that way, and takes only 5 seconds to fit together again. Best vacuum ever.

    4. Still*

      I live in a one-room apartment and have a vacuum cleaner from the Electrolux Ergorapido series. It’s been amazing, it just sits on charge behind a curtain and is very easy to grab any time I notice dust. It’s light, easy to manouver, easy to empty, and I definitely use it much more often than if I had to deal with a cable or paper bags. I’d definitely recommend this style of a vacuum cleaner. Though I have to say the model I have doesn’t quite reach the edges between the wall and the floor as closely as I’d like it to, so I’d definitely check that before you buy.

    5. Rebecca Stewart*

      We have two cats and three people with long hair and we adore our Dyson. I have dark carpets, and it leaves them perfectly clean, despite the fluffy white hair the one cat leaves. It’s heavy but I can cope with it fine, and I really like that it’s bagless.

    6. Alex*

      I also have a small apartment and a dyson. I like it, but I don’t LOVE it the way that others seem to love their dysons. One thing I do love is that it is EASY. It is small, it is light, it is easy to clean (no bags). I find myself vacuuming more often because it is not a hassle. I can also bring it out to my car easily to vacuum my seats. I did find that my old vacuum, which was a fairly high-end Kenmore vacuum, had more suction power. Also, the dyson does not have a shape that latches on to space saver bags, if that is something you use.

      I bought mine refurbished off of Groupon.

    7. Generic Name*

      I have a Shark Rotator and its the only vacuum I’ve owned that I actually love. I got it because the reviews say it’s the best vacuum that isn’t a Dyson. It has a HEPA filter and does great with pet fur (I’ve got a dog and two cats).

      1. Pink Dahlia*

        My boss replaced a Dyson animal with a Shark, and swears the Shark is far superior. I like my Dyson animal (the old purple one, I think it’s a DC28) but her enthusiasm will have me thinking twice when I’m due for a replacement.

      2. Quiet Liberal*

        We just bought a Shark Lift-AwayRotator. It is a very good vacuum! I vacuumed about 5 mins on an area rug in our living room and am embarrassed at the amount of stuff in the dust cup. The motor and dust cup come off the main part of the vacuum so you can do stairs, furniture, blinds, etc. separately. My husband used that and the little vacuum head attachment to vacuum the dog hair out of the back seat of his pickup. He said it worked great! The suction is super awesome. We had a Hoover for more years than we probably should have, so maybe just having a vacuum that sucks is making us biased. I like that it is bagless and supposedly doesn’t allow dusty air to escape when it’s running.

    8. Parenthetically*

      We did a long weekend in an air bnb last weekend. The owners have a large dog. They ONLY owned a roomba. There were tumbleweeds of dog hair EVERYWHERE. The roomba did not *in any way* pick up even HALF the dog hair from the carpet. It was less than useless.

      If your place is only 1.5 rooms, you can vacuum the entire thing in under 15 minutes. We have a 2 bedroom condo and it only takes me a bit more than that to thoroughly vacuum our entire house.

      I really like the Dyson ball-style vacuums.

    9. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Dyson picks up hair well but I will throw in that I am not a fan overall of the vacuums. I found it hard to move around, heavy, and a pain to store.

      I have two cats and a small two bed flat, and we get a lot of dust too. I got a Miele vacuum and LOVE it (note:in the UK, but the brand should be in the US as well). It stores easily and tucked away in a closet when not needed. GREAT sucking power and so easy to get into nooks and crannies much better . Also, a third the cost!

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        I just got a Miele, and I love how easy it is to unclog without tools. We had a Hoover that was constantly clogging and labor-intensive to disassemble, and I suspect the average person would have thrown it in the trash years ago. Also had a Shark that performed fine, but only lasted a couple years until the cheap plastic dust cup hinge snapped.

        If you’re not worried about allergens and just want a solid vacuum, try to find an old-school Hoover at a flea market. Those things were bulletproof.

      2. Imtheone*

        I like my Miele too! I’m in the US, and it was easy to find. I’ve had it a few years, and it still works well. It’s my first vacuum with a HEPA filter. I wanted the HEPA filter to help with allergies, since vacuums can release a lot of dust. We have a lot of hard surfaces, so the canister style is great. There is also a beater attachment for carpets that works well.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      I’d say go with the Dyson cordless vacuum or similar type. You can hang them for charging.
      There are different models for allergy/pets and such.

    11. Breast Solidarity*

      I married into a Miele. The things cost a fortune but WOW! And it is probably 25 years old and works just as well as new.

      For a robot vac (we have 3 cats, after losing one tragically 2 weeks ago) we have a Eufy, and we love it as well. Between the cat hair, the woodstove dust and ashes, and living on a dirt road, it helps keep the house usable between deep cleans.

    12. RC Rascal*

      I have a Eureka Mighty Mite canister. It’s relatively light , portable and does a great job. Not real expensive but does take a bit of close space.

  10. StellaBella*

    Advice, please. If anyone here owns an apartment or condo, what are some of the things you wish you had asked when looking at the place? I am going in 2 weeks to look at a few places that are apartments in a large complex (about 50 apartments in the whole building). I know to look at things like the appliances, plumbing, security, heating, windows, loud neighbours, etc. I will ask about fees and building rules, too. Just wondering if there are glaring things I am missing.

    1. Yennefer of Vengerberg*

      Maybe things you’ve already thought about, but I can share what tripped us up in our apartment.
      1) When was the kitchen and bathroom updated? How old are the appliances? Even if it still looks nice, the older it is the bigger the chance stuff will start breaking down sooner rather than later. That’s not a deal breaker, but good to expect from the start.
      2) Hows the financial situation of the condo and are they planning any major upcoming work? A bad financial situation and major maintenance can increase your condo fees real fast. You may also be unwilling to live through two years of facade upgrades.
      3) Does the condo spend money on superfluous things? My parents are stuck in a condo that pays a small fortune for completely unnecessary security and it really grinds them.
      4) Does the condo have a history of water damage? I live in a cold climate and some buildings were not built for it. If you end up in one of these, you will have a leak and it will cost you. Plus if word gets around it can affect your property value.
      4) What kind of condo rules do you have and do they seem reasonable? One example is how they handle move in day (how does elevator rental work, is there a fee, etc.) Nothing worse than living in an unreasonable condo.
      5) Walk around the area. Like really walk around it. Where’s the nearest cafe? Grocery shop? Pharmacy? Where would you go for an evening walk? Etc. Liking your area is hugely important.
      6) If you’re considering reno, where are the foundational walls? Where are the plumbing fixtures? Where are the electrical outlets? (That last one might be good to check in general.) What kind of work does the condo need to approve?

      Also just to add – don’t underestimate the importance of the cost of condo fees. Get a place with low, or at least average, condo fees for your area. Everyone I know who bought a place with high condo fees has regretted it. Higher fees are basically never worth it and you end up feeling like you’re bleeding money for no reason. It’s not worth the mental anguish.

        1. CC*

          You want to get a copy of the Reserve Study. It is typically done every 3 years.

          It basically goes through every item in the complex that the condo association is responsible for maintaining & how long it is expected to last & how much it will be expected to maintain/ replace. For example, the roof was replaced last year & is expected to last 20 years & in 20 years a roof should cost $X; the siding is 23 years old & the expected life is only 25 years so it will cost approximately $Y to replace the siding in 2 years. It then says how much money should be in the reserve fund (based on the current condition of the building(s) & you can look at the current reserves to see if they are under or over funded). Underfunded means you will likely have a special assessment, increased dues, and/or deferred maintenance.

          The company that does the reserve study is not providing an actual bid to do any work at a specific price & the price can change when you get actual bids; but if you find a complex that is at 80%+ of reserve needs you should be more comfortable than only 10 or 15%.

    2. Janet Pinkerton*

      Really ask questions about the heat. Ours is centrally controlled (old buildings) so it’s almost always hot in our home in winter. We hate that. Even if it’s not centrally controlled, ask if it runs hot or cold in the buildings. See if reno work is required to be permitted (this can be a real pain for a simple job, which makes stuff way more expensive to find a contractor). See what you can hear and smell as you enter and as you walk around.

      1. cleo*

        Seconded. We live in a vintage, L shaped building with building controlled steam heat. The boiler is at one end of the L so the units on that side of the building ate usually too hot and the units at the far end are usually too cold.

    3. Sled dog mama*

      This might not be important to everyone but having survived a hotel fire an experienced several false alarms it’s something I look at.
      Does the complex have an integrated fire system (especially important to check in older buildings). Meaning if there is a fire in one unit will it set off the alarm in the attached units?
      How would you get out if the front door wasn’t an option? Would you need an escape ladder? Does the complex provide fire extinguishers in each unit? What about in the hallway? If they do are they serviced regularly?
      What other hazards are near the complex? Is there a river that could flood? How would you be notified of any evacuation orders?
      If this is a complex that was converted from another use check for strange traffic patterns. I once lived in a complex that had been converted and several other apartments had access to my patio. (There was a sort of walkway that ran past my patio there was a gate on the walkway but not between my patio walkway) since the whole complex was gated no one closed the gate on the walkway. My dog liked to sit out on the patio and people watch, I had to chase him through the complex several times due to people leaving the gate open.

      1. Lady Heather*

        Re: strange traffic patterns if a complex was converted from a building with another purpose.. that can result in situations like a bedroom being below a hallway, and things like that. Depending on how soundproofed the hallway floors are that can be mildly inconvenient or purgatory.

        If you are dependent on living somewhere with an elevator – because you need it all the time, or because you occasionally need it – ask how often the elevator is out.

        Good neighbours may leave tomorrow and be replaced by bad neighbours, and bad neighbours may leave tomorrow and be replaced by good neighbours, but all things being equal, I’d rather move in someplace the neighbours are ‘good’.

        HOAs scare me. Ask around to see if your HOA is decent. (Reddit has r/fuckhoa, about what happens when HOAs go wrong. Look there for inspiration regarding doing your due diligence on what HOA you’re joining.)

        The realtor and the seller are not ‘on your side’, so talk to neighbours if you can.

        1. RC Rascal*

          A note here: elevator repairs are really expensive. As in starting at around $100k. If you move into a building with an elevator make sure there is substantial reserve.

          1. Anon again*

            Not just repairs, but elevators add to the insurance costs. I live in a high rise with three elevators.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      From issues friends have had–
      -Policy on gardens. Are you allowed to plant anything out front, or have pots & planters? Out back?
      -Snow-clearing time frame. Do they clear early enough for you to leave for work or do midday touchup for people to return & park, for example?
      I don’t know how to phrase these as questions but they’re issues to make sure you’re not surprised by — Smoking & shared walls/porches. Pest control & same. Quiet hours & enforcement. Play space for kids (or lack thereof when they play in the parking spaces). Reserved parking. Ask about age of roofs because replacement can bring unexpected fees.
      This year I’d suggest asking about shared areas & masks, especially if there’s unavoidable small spaces like elevators, mail rooms, and trash/recycling areas.
      I loved the condo I rented my last year in California — right down to the large rentable community room that the town used as the neighborhood polling place.
      Good luck!

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >issues to make sure you’re not surprised by (smoking, shared walls, pest control, quiet hours, kids and play space)

        Thank you! Very helpful to call attention to these. The sensory stimuli caused by plain old daily living can create amazing stress, even if nobody means offense.

        Smoke (and strong perfume/aftershave, incense, air fresheners, marijuana) are a particular pain in the neck to those of us who are sensitive to fragrance/odors. (I realize there’s only so much one can do to control the behavior of other people, but it’s still a source of misery.)

    5. CC*

      And read all the documents they give you on rules & regulations. It is typically not provided until you put in an offer & then you have a few days to review it (& can back out if desired without penalty). Many people do not read these documents & then are surprised that they are held to something in the documents.

      Also, if you are buying something on the 2nd floor or higher, check to see if you are allowed to have hardwood/not-carpet floor in areas other than the kitchen/bathrooms. Even if it currently has hardwood or plank flooring, it could have been installed against the rules (for noise reasons) & many associations catch it from the real estate photos online & will force the new owner to change it back (with a mandatory inspection).

    6. Chaordic One*

      Pay attention to the parking situation. A bad parking situation can make an otherwise seemingly decent apartment unlivable. Look for assigned off-street parking, ideally close to your apartment so you won’t have to walk too far to get to it. Having to lug groceries a block or so from your car to your apartment gets old.

      If you have a reasonably nice car and if you can, get a garage to protect your car from the elements. It will stay cleaner in a garage, too, if having a clean car is important to you. “Covered Parking” (like a car port) is something to consider. Your car will still get dirty from the weather, but if you live where there is frost, you won’t have to spend valuable minutes waiting for the windows to defrost or having to scrape the frost off of your car windows before you get in and go somewhere.

      One of my peeves is I absolutely hate having my car get door dings from inconsiderate neighbors. Hopefully, if you have to park in a lot beside the building, you will have reasonably wide parking spots. OTOH, a lot of people don’t pay any attention to parking within the lines and will park close to your car and ding it. (I suspect these were the children who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, color within the lines when they were children.) That’s why I’m so grateful that I have a garage with my current apartment

      1. RC Rascal*

        If the condo building includes garage parking make sure the space is accessible. My building has 3 spaces that would only fit a motorcycle or maybe a Mini Cooper at most.

    7. Jean (just Jean)*

      Great question and great answers, especially about the financial aspects and snow clearance. Lots to consider.

      Advice from a longtime renter (aspiring condo owner) whose household involves lots of books, dishes, and kitchen supplies (we keep kosher): Develop a razor-sharp eye for storage (both built-in shelves, closets, kitchen cupboards, and where there is–or is not–room to place storage furniture (bookshelves, cupboards, bureaus) or add more built-in units. Can you convert a nearby linen closet into kitchen storage? Does the bathroom have a vanity or room for a storage unit? Is there a walk-in closet (GOLD!) or another, secure, private storage area in the basement? How much storage will the bedroom offer after you install the bed? Are there any windowless walls to place several bookshelves?

      Also develop a razor-sharp eye for the location of electric outlets. Are they convenient? What about outlets for telephone, internet, and cable? Is all wiring up to code? up to date? I was unable to use an apartment-size washer because our building predates the newest electric outlets (the ones with three prong holes and red and black buttons in the middle–I think for surge protection?) that the machine required.

      Speaking of laundry, is it in-unit or in a shared area? If in-unit, are they full-size or miniature machines? If shared, is the laundry room well-ventilated? Do the residents reliably wear masks? Since the pandemic began, I have used the wash-dry-fold service of a local laundromat.

      If natural light matters to you, observe the number and direction of windows. After one long-ago move we realized that the place we left (northern exposure, facing an interior courtyard) was sufficiently light-deprived to make us mildly depressed. Eastern exposure means morning light but may also give you floods of sunshine when you would prefer to sleep later–unless the unit has (or you install) light-blocking window coverings. Southern exposure gives you mid-day sunlight; western exposure brings afternoon and evening light and views of sunsets. (All this will vary depending on your location, time of year, daylight savings, and whether or not the apartment/condo is located deep in a corner of an interior courtyard of the building, or has another building / wall / row of trees or bushes close by.) For similar reasons notice whether there’s a window in or near the kitchen.

      If you want a balcony, is it one that makes you happy? Are the railings in good condition? Is it attached to the outside of the building or set-in like a cave, possibly reducing the daylight received by the room next to the balcony? Or are you terrified of heights…in which case a balcony is only a burden?

      Does the unit have an assigned parking space? Is this enough? (Does your household have one vehicle, or two or more? Is parking in an indoor garage or on an outdoor lot? If spaces are assigned, how are they labeled? We lived in one place where the landlord identified each assigned space by the apartment number. Great way to advertise to burglars (or nosy family, or stalker exes) who is and is not at home. Is there space for scooters or bicycles?

      Re walkable conveniences: decide what, if anything, is essential for you. Our “essential accessible by foot list” includes a grocery or convenience store, a pharmacy, and public transit. In two past places we also had access to a dry cleaner.

      You might also want to decide anything that you don’t want to live near: Railroad tracks? Commuter trains? Busy, noisy roads? Public parks where sports teams play? A restaurant that emits strong food odors? A “party district” (bars and restaurants)? A fire station?

      All this is personal–no right or wrong, just more details to notice.

    8. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thanks for asking! I wrote a wall of text below (*blushes*) but also really learned a lot from the responses.

    9. WellRed*

      I always recommend doing a drive by at night to see if it’s quiet or the neighbors are party central.

    10. PollyQ*

      Pets. I’m guessing you don’t have any now, but if you think you might like to in the future, check out the specific rules. Or on the flip side, if you don’t want to deal the the fallout from neighbors’s animals, check to make sure they’re banned.

    11. Sue*

      Good ideas here. Be sure to check the owner/renter occupancy stats as a complex with high renter rates may have more issues. Also, whether units are allowed for short term rental/Airbnb etc. Lots of issues with that for owner occupants.
      The reserves issue for the HOA is also key. If the place needs new roofing, siding or the like, each unit can be assessed an amount that can run $$$.
      And if you’re able, upstairs is going to be quieter as downstairs units can usually hear the footsteps above them. And if you can talk to someone with a connection to the HOA board, they can have valuable knowledge about how things work/issues/management efficiency, etc.

    12. Dan*

      More from the renter side of things than the owner side of things (and will repeat what others have said to some extent):

      1. Heat/cooling controls. If I have any choice in the matter whatsoever, I will only live in a place where I have complete control over the heat and cooling. For whatever reason, I find my sleep quality to be very sensitive to temperature. I live in the mid atlantic, and lately have been running the heat during the day for a little bit, and the air at night. If I have to go back to a unit where I lose that control, I’d die (metaphorically anyway.)

      2. Laundry facilities. I used to live in places where the laundry facilities were shared, and my current place is all in-unit stuff. I’m never going back to shared facilities if I can avoid it. For one thing, you have to keep a close eye on stuff, and second, when you have to pay, it makes washing small loads somewhat uneconomical.

      3. Parking. Not just for you, but guests if you have them over.

      4. Size of the hot water tank. My land lady warned me about this when I moved in, but I have a small one, so two long hot showers back to back are a no-go. I don’t think my pipes are insulated, so in the winter, I can kill off an entire hot water tank in one shower.

      5. Patio use. Some places will have restrictions on what can be “stored” on the patio. Second, this isn’t specific to my building, but it is a county/state thing: We can’t grill on patios in a “multi unit dwelling”. If that’s important to you, know that ahead of time.

      1. Janne*

        Re hot water: also look at how long it takes until the hot water reaches your shower and sink. I’ve lived in places where it took ages to get hot water and it became very frustrating.
        Also re water: is the cold tap water actually cold? Some old buildings don’t have their hot and cold pipes separated well enough or the cold pipes run through a lot of heated building (e.g. when you live on a high floor of a building), so the hot pipes or the hot rooms warm up the cold water and it gets uncomfortably tepid.

    13. cleo*

      I’m so happy you asked this. My husband and I were so incredibly naive when we bought our condo 17 years ago. We bought into a vintage low rise with 19 units – some of the issues we had came from the relatively small size and age of the building. Glad to share some of what I’ve learned.

      The biggest thing that I didn’t realize is that buying into a building is a little like getting married to 50 people you don’t particularly care for. It can be incredibly petty – think murder-mystery village levels of petty but in much closer quarters. I make my best friend laugh with my stories about owners fighting over the height of the hedges and the one owner who planted rogue plants in the garden without going through the landscaping committee.

      1 – The Reserve. The association should have a reserve for emergencies – make sure they actually have one.

      2 – Special assessments. How often do they have them and for what sorts of things? They should be rare and for big things like a new roof). When we bought in, our board was in the habit of leveraging special assessments a few times a year. (A few newer owners banded together to raise assessments enough to cover regular expenses so special assessments could be rare and used just for big things like a new roof or boiler).

      3 – Management. Who manages the building – does the association hire a management company? And what’s their reputation? Or does the board contract out things like book keeping and grounds keeping?

      4 – Sense of community. Does the association have any regular event s and is that important to you? I’m thinking things like progressive parties or workdays or picnics or whatever. Our building doesn’t do anything and I’m happy with that but I have friends who love that their buildings have holiday parties.

      5 – Garbage, recycling and composting. Ask what services they have. Ask about rules for throwing away big items.

      6 – Windows. How old are they? How well insulated? Are they regulated by the association? In our building, individual owners can’t replace anything that will make the exterior not look uniform so we all have the same windows.

    14. Job Carousel*

      A lot of great points here! I’ve lived in condos for the past 12 years, so I’d also add:

      – checking who’s at fault/whose insurance policies are invoked if one condo experiences a flood/fire/other horrible event and causes damage to other condos/common areas. This depends by state regulations as well as condo-specific regulations. For instance, my current condo has a master insurance policy to cover damage to common elements but there is a $10K deductible that has to be split among all involved condos, even for ones that aren’t at fault but experience damage due to a disaster. I have a specific rider or policy statement on my condo owner’s insurance policy stating that my insurance will pay up to $10K (after I pay my deductible) for these types of events.

      – parking — as others have mentioned. Ask if you can see your particular assigned parking space (if you have one) to make sure it’s not too tiny/too dark/too far/too inconveniently located.

      – figure out who calls the shots — the HOA? the management company? are they involved in a horrible power struggle? does the HOA board turn over every year because no one can deal with being on it? I’ve lived in a condo where the management company was one person who did what he wanted, against the better interests of condo owners, and the HOA board were just figureheads who didn’t do anything. Also, understand that your monthly HOA fee is probably directly proportional to how active of a management company your condo has contracted with. HOA board members aren’t paid and often do a lot of thankless work, despite having their own jobs/families/lives to worry about, so many HOA boards will (understandably) just pay $$$ to a full-service management company, which then translates to more $$$ out of your pocket.

      – also check to see how monthly HOA fees have changed over time, how much money is in the reserve fund, and if/how often owners have been levied assessments to cover expected or unexpected big ticket purchases, like new roofs.

      I wanted to share a story of when I sold my most recent condo that still makes me feel bad. I lived in the same condo for 8 years, and every year the management company kept talking about how “we’re going to have to replace the roof, maybe this year, maybe next year.” The roof ended up getting replaced during the 7th year I lived there, and at that time each homeowner was given a choice: either our monthly HOA fee will increase by ~$35/month for the next 5 years, or pay a one-time assessment of ~$2000 and our monthly HOA would stay the same. I opted for the former, because I knew I’d be moving the next year and wouldn’t get to enjoy the benefits of the new roof for very long. I made it very clear to my realtor that the new homeowners would have to be making the higher monthly HOA payment until the 5 years were up once they bought my condo to pay for the roof. Apparently this didn’t get communicated clearly to the new homeowners. I got this nasty email from them a few weeks after they closed on my condo saying that they were no way responsible for the old owner’s unpaid bills. I had to go back and forward all my email communications clearly stating this to the attorney who dealt with the closing and my old management company, and ultimately the new owners dropped it. So make sure to ask about anything like this upfront before buying so you’re not surprised.

    15. Dancing Otter*

      Mail & packages. Where are the mailboxes: how convenient and secure are they? We have one central location for a complex of over a dozen buildings; luckily, that’s the building where I live.
      Where are packages delivered? My complex just got a “hub”, and it’s wonderful! (Well, except for the unmasked morons, but they’re everywhere.) You get a code that opens the linked cubby, so nobody can help themselves to other people’s packages. All the delivery services use it — UPS, USPS, Amazon, FedEx — except DHL. A few things are too big, like furniture, but they’re still in a secured room.
      If you still read the paper newspaper, will it be delivered to you or left in the lobby?
      Does the security system work, so you can admit guests without physically going down to open the door? Or does every pizzeria in town know the door code?
      Is there a building office on-site for common-area problems? Will they admit deliverymen/contractors in your absence, if you can’t stay home?
      How accessible is the building? If you live there long enough, someone is bound to sprain an ankle, break a leg, wrench a back, or something, sooner or later. A few steps up to the building entrance can become a major problem. Plus, of course, steps are extra dangerous in bad weather.

      1. Job Carousel*

        That’s a fantastic point! I think hubs are the way to go, but many condos haven’t gotten there yet. In my current condo building, we don’t have a secure hub, so we have issues periodically with different delivery drivers, particularly those from OnTrac and Amazon independent contractors. Unlike the USPS, Fedex, and UPS delivery drivers, they don’t have access into our building and often don’t figure out how to use the intercom to get buzzed through our locked interior doors (we have two sets of glass double doors at both entrances to our building — the first unlocked, the second locked). I’ve had a lot of packages marked as “unable to access building” because drivers didn’t know how to get in the locked doors (even after asking HOA management to put signs up explaining how to use the intercoms). Then there are delivery drivers who can’t get in and leave packages in between the sets of glass doors, meaning they’re not secure and porch robbers could grab them. I try to bring in neighbors’ packages when I see them left there, but I can’t always be there to help.

        This applies to apartment buildings too, but in my parents’ condo building, there are a lot of elderly people, including many with dementia and full-time or part-time caretakers. There was an unfortunate issue with my parents’ building involving a fellow condo owner, an elderly lady with dementia, who would take people’s packages from the lobby (no secure hub there either), open them up, and stow the items in her own condo. It got to the point where a few neighbors called the police on her and decided to press charges — very sad for everyone. That elderly lady has since passed away. In my current condo, I’ve never had issues with my packages going missing, so I’ve been lucky in that regard.

    16. SR*

      Someone else mentioned something about the HOA’s insurance policy, but make sure to get clarity on what the HOA insurance policy covers, and get it in writing if possible or speak directly to their insurance company to verify. My monthly fee is higher than average, but it covers a lot more insurance than typical HOA policies in terms of the structure and walls and even built-in appliances. (In insurance lingo, it’s called a “walls in” policy, at least in my state, because it covers the walls and structure both inside and out.)
      And as someone else mentioned, get some historical info on special assessments — what were the most recent special assessments, how much, and for what?
      There are also some great books out there for prospective condo owners, or for prospective home owners but with robust condo-specific sections; I can’t think of specific titles, but I recommend reading through at least a couple of them.

    17. Fur Be Gone*

      Interesting so many people love the Dyson. I almost bought one but when I read reviews over and over people said they won’t stay up — they fall down all the time. Maybe these were the ball sort and/or the animal sort (I can’t remember) and maybe people on here are talking about some other model?

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        The one we have (V8 Animal) is not designed to stand up. It has a wall-mounted charger station, where it stays when not in use. The core unit is about the size of a coffee maker, and then you stick attachments on – including a long tube with a rectangular toothy thing at the end, meant for cleaning carpets while standing up. No wheels, not free-standing, but light enough for that not to matter. (It only goes about 7 minutes on a charge. Plenty for a small apartment, but you won’t get tired before the vacuum does.)

    18. Good Luck!*

      Hate to be alarmist, but try to find out the crime rate in the neighborhood (especially if you have to park far away at night), and in the complex itself. Check the sex offender list online to see if there are any nearby, if you care about this. Also turns the shower on to see the flow. I rented an apartment that turned out to have a shower that really only DRIPPED. And really consider the top floor if you are sensitive to stomping overhead.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I second the sex offender list! I checked it before we bought our house and found a few semi-near our house but not close enough to be of concern. The first community safety meeting we had after we moved in, one of them had been arrested for flashing his neighbor. So he was a problem.

        I also checked the FEMA flood maps and the EPA superfund and brown site lists.

    19. Fiddle Faddle*

      The main thing that most condo buyers don’t understand is that they are becoming the financial and legal partners of a bunch of strangers. Someone I know likened it to walking into a bar and becoming business partners of everybody in the joint. Not surprisingly, some number of these strangers will be bad risks.

      I agree with everyone who said to take a hard look at the finances, especially the reserves.

      Regarding the governing documents, in most places these are public info and the documents are recorded with the county. With luck your county’s recorder will have them available for download on their web site – if not you’ll have to make a request. Also, look to see if the community you’re looking at has their own web site – often they’ll post their governing docs there as well. You don’t have to wait until you’re ready to sign a contract before getting copies, that doesn’t leave enough time to really digest the info. You can also use this info to screen out the bad bets before you give yourself a chance to fall in love with a particular home.

      But by all means READ THEM before you sign on the bottom line. They form part of the contract on your home and are thus legally binding and enforceable. You”ll be a lot happier if you understand what you’re getting into.

      As others noted, some communities are well governed and some are not. The vast majority of condo owners don’t understand what they’ve bought, and the board members are selected from among this uninformed population. This can lead to all sorts of poor decision making, and it *will* affect you in some way. Unfortunately, good management lasts only as long as you have skilled folks making the decisions. I’ve seen way too many instances of capable homeowners taking over control of the association board, only to have the community fall back into its clueless ways when the capable folks burn out and resign. It’s the nature of condo associations and HOAs (these are not the same thing, by the way).

      If eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, it’s also the price of living in a well-run community. If you’re not up for it, beware.

      1. Job Carousel*

        Those are some great points, too!

        When I first moved into my current condo, the HOA board was definitely having some internal issues that started affecting everyone else. The HOA president’s adult son was hard on his luck and suddenly moved back to the area (I am pretty sure he was actually living in a utility room in the garage for some period of time). As a way to help out his son, the HOA president fired the cleaning company, the maintenance service, and the landscaping crew, and appointed his son to do all of those roles (even though they were much greater than 1 FTE) to earn his income — roles for which his son tried but was ultimately unqualified and unsuited. This unfortunately affected all of us negatively.

        This was also the same HOA board that communicated with us through a series of passive aggressive emails and notes in elevators. They went so far as to threaten to publicly name and shame condo owners even a month delinquent on their HOA dues.

        After about two years of this situation, the board entirely turned over, with much rancor and drama in the process. The current board is much better.

    20. Anon again*

      Think about traffic patterns in the hallways and stairwells. I live in a high rise so I would never want to live super close to the elevators or the trash shoot. The building is older so we have floor laundry rooms. I would not want to live close to them either.
      Finances for the HOA are of great importance and do they have reserves to fund the reserve study. Ask what percentage the HOA fees have gone up over the last five years. I have lived in my condo 14 years and they have gone up historically 3% every other year until this year where they went up 6%. (There were legit reasons). Google the HOA and see if they have any on going law suits. Ask if any special assessments are scheduled. These can be a huge shock to new owners. We had one about 6 months after I purchased, but I knew about it as I had rented in the building before I bought and saved the money to cover it. If you can talk to multiple neighbors in the building. If you only talk to one you might get the grumpy neighbor who hates the HOA etc.

      1. No fan of Chaos*

        If you share interior stairways or hallways, smoke from other units will seep in. One place I lived I had rolls of blue painters tape to seal my door in the evenings from pot smoking neighbors. The condo I live in now is on the second floor with neighbors who smoke outside in the back and the front so I run the AC all summer with the windows closed. Also, drive around the parking areas at night to see what kind of cars are there. Trashy cars equal trashy neighbors.

  11. On bras and breast sagging*

    Removed because responses to this got weirdly contentious and borderline rude. – Alison

  12. Allegheny (she/her)*

    So this is going to sound really juvenile but here goes.

    Last week I spotted a cute guy in an acquaintance’s Instagram stories. He was tagged so I was able to stalk his profile – not that there was much to see as it’s private. I searched him on Facebook (I love people who use their real names on IG and FB – makes stalking so easy!) and not much info there either. But I couldn’t stop thinking about him and how “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. So I decided to request to follow him on IG and DM him. I told him how I found him and that I thought if he was single and emotionally available, I’d love to get to know him. “But if you’re neither, then take this as a compliment and hope it makes your day!”

    Not long after, he requested to follow me, but did not accept me as a follower yet. I thought, fair enough, he wants to see my face first. I let him. I happened to have a story up with a pic of myself and my niece and I soon saw him in my list of viewers. I was quite giggly knowing he was checking out my pics right then.

    I was hanging out on my own profile when I realised that my follower count was back to what it was before. He had unfollowed me! Damn, I thought. That was a fast rejection! So he doesn’t think I’m pretty enough/worth getting to know? Daaaaamn! I decided to DM him again, trying to sound all casual: “Lol. So that’s a no, then? Ok. Cool.” It was left on seen for like half an hour and I thought for sure he wouldn’t reply. Well, he eventually did: “Hi, thank you for the compliment. Yep, I am engaged. So I hope that answers your question. Have a great day ahead.”


    I haven’t opened the message yet – I read it through my notifications. I am a mixed bag of emotions: I’m embarrassed, because I tried something and it didn’t work; proud of my courage, because I dared to try something not knowing if it would work; disappointed, because he’s cute and someone got there well before me; and a little annoyed at him for deciding to check me out first, despite his status.

    That’s all. Just looking to share this anecdote with someone (haven’t told anyone irl yet!) and for some commiseration, if possible. Thanks. :)

    1. Morning reader*

      I don’t have commiseration, just wonderment. My wondering is whether this is a generational difference or just that different people use social media in different ways.

      For me, I use FB to connect with people I already know. Occasionally I get a friend request from someone I don’t know (usually a single man in my age group in some distant place), and I just ignore it. I find it creepy AF. Are people really scanning FB for potential partners among complete strangers? Why? (In your case, this was a friend of a friend so less creepy.) But couldn’t you have asked your mutual friend for an intro or at least to find out if he was single/available?

      Anyway, sympathies for the rejection. I’m just wondering… is this how people meet these days? Am I the only one creeped out by unsolicited messages on a non-dating social app? Maybe that’s what it’s there for and I’m the fuddy-duddy? (The fuddy is strong within me lately so that’s a definite possibility.)

      1. I am an Old Person*

        I had the same reaction! I’ve been married for 15 years and I quit social media five years ago, so I assume it’s that I’m out of touch. It’s wild how quickly cultural norms move.

        The one thing that prompts a reaction for me beyond “welp, I’m old as dirt I guess” is that the OP is annoyed that the guy checked out her profile before telling her he was engaged – is it truly rude not to completely ignore someone who initiates contact with you on social media unless you’re open to a romantic connection? It seems reasonable to check through their profile first to see if it’s someone you know from somewhere and therefore might want to connect with.

        1. Allegheny*

          Removed. When you post, people may not always respond in exactly the way you want. Assume you are inviting opinions by posting. You cannot be rude to commenters here.

          And you definitely cannot post under another user name to make it look like more people agree with you. That is using this site in bad faith and I will not allow that, period.

          – Alison

        2. RagingADHD*

          No, he wasn’t rude.

          OPs feelings got the better of her, and she over-invested in watching the play-by-play of his viewing.

          He’s certainly entitled to find out as much as he can about her, just like she checked out his FB, etc.

          I think if the genders were reversed, most women would have just blocked OP after the second message if not the first. So the fact that he didn’t says to me he’s trying very hard to be polite, possibly due to the mutual friend situation.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          That’s pretty much what I do. I check people who follow me or send friend requests to see if they’re awful or I don’t know them IRL or am not sure that I do.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I feel the same way, though I admit I’ve been married for 25 years and wouldn’t know how dating works now anyway.

        My friend does this, though. She’s always accepting friend requests from guys she doesn’t know in the hopes she’ll find her next relationship. And she’s always sending friend requests. She’s been doing this maybe five or six years, and she hasn’t yet made a real connection beyond a date or two.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I’ll add that she definitely tends to have better luck with dating apps.

          That said, and what I said above, both of you are brave in taking the initiative to put yourself out there. Hopefully the next time it works out better for you. And it does seem weird that he followed you and he’s engaged.

      3. Tamer of dragonflies*

        I agree with you Morning Reader.Your not alone im wondering if this is how folks meet in these modern times. At the risk of getting “flamed on” (I think thats the correct phrase), I cant help but wonder how these actions would be perceived if the genders were reversed. To me it seems creeptasticly stalkerish regardless of who was the stalker and the stalkee.

      4. Bobina*

        Even though I personally dont do it – yes! Sliding into people’s DM’s is a catchphrase for a reason..

        Lots of people are all about “shooting your shot” in this way, and even though for me personally, the more logical thing would have been to ask my friend if he was single, what Allegheny did isnt in any way particularly strange for a lot of people these days either.

        I will say what normalised it for me was hearing a podcast with a couple (one of whom is a minor celebrity where live) who are now married whose first interaction was her messaging him randomly on Instagram.

      5. mlk*

        I started getting these this year. Kinda handsome middle-aged guy (I’m mid-50s, maybe look a little younger–not particularly pretty) with 2-3 photos, no or 1-2 friends listed, no posts wants to be friends on facebook. Yeah, no! Scam all the way down! Never mind my profile says I’m in a relationship too.

        I think I’ve started getting them because a friend and work colleague has accepted at least 2 of these types of friend requests and is right in the middle of a scam right now. Guy is rich, is a widower or something, works in eastern europe/western asia in oil&gas industry, plans to visit but OH NOES, owes tax money to government and they won’t let him leave the country. Can’t access his US accounts for “reasons” (terrible), etc. I’ve told her it’s a scam. I’ve tried to debunk his “reasons”. She’s told me her family and other friends have told her it’s a scam. Perhaps luckily, she doesn’t have that much money to be scammed out of. So frustrating that she won’t drop this bleepity-bleep.

      6. BigBrain*

        He followed you so he and his fiance could check out who you were. He wasnt checking you out to see if he was interested.

        Your second message to him came off and fairly aggressive and I would’ve blocked someone that sent it.

        I get random friend requests and show my husband and we check their page out to see who it is. Then I block them.

      7. Courageous cat*

        Yeah, this is another thing. As a woman, I don’t typically appreciate getting unsolicited messages from men, so this would put me off a little unless we really obviously had a lot in common.

        I’m peak millennial age and agree with you.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am sorry this did not work out.
      FWIW, there seems to be a turning point where that embarrassment over whatever, melts down and becomes, “Eh. I tried.” And yeah, you should be proud of your courage in trying, really proud. You did not have to try. He did not have to answer. Everything considered I think everyone behaved like adults. But I am sorry you didn’t get a different outcome.

      1. Allegheny*

        Thank you for your sympathies. I can’t wait until the embarrassment melts away and the pride that I was brave enough to try, takes over.

    3. MissGirl*

      The second message read to me passive aggressively. Remember you can’t communicate tone online. It’s great you took a shot but once the ball is in their court, you can’t touch it. Also, don’t take rejection like this personally. Everything you knew about this guy was 100% surface level. So everything he knew about you was 100% surface level. He didn’t reject “you” because he doesn’t know you. You are both are operating off online perceptions of each other.

      Just as men need to be careful about sliding into a woman’s DMs uninvited so do women. It’s not that you can’t ever do it; just do so with great judiciousness and respect boundaries. No response is a no.

      1. Allegheny*

        You’re right. It was passive aggressive and it was my way of saving face. I was just surprised that he accepted my request initially, proceeded to check me out, and unfollowed. I couldn’t understand it. But you’re right. I should have left the unfollow/no reply alone.

        1. NaoNao*

          My guess (based on not much, so take it with a grain of) is that he was curious as to who you were—perhaps he thought you might be a former GF, or someone he knew tangentially or maybe he thought “is my fiancee trying to trip me up?”—followed you to see who you were, realized he didn’t know you, and then unfollowed like “oh, hm, just a stranger. well, no to worry, she’ll get the message.”

          It is weird that they didn’t spell it out upon following you and waited for you to follow up and explicitly ask “hey, is it a no” (in so many words) but I get it, he might have been trying to spare your feelings.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          If I were on the other end of this I might accept the request and then check your profile to figure out “is this a mutual acquaintance? Did I maybe meet them at some friend’s gathering in the past and if I take a look at their profile it will jog my memory?” That sort of thing. Upon concluding that as far as I can tell, nope, I don’t actually know you/never met you, then I’d unfollow. That’s it. Nothing more to it.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yeah, I agree with this completely. I will also say that social networks are made for this very thing: “Hey friend, that guy Tim in yesterday’s photo? So cute. Is he single and looking?” Saves time and face.

        1. Bette Davis Eyes*

          Agreed that reaching out to the acquaintance to ask “Who’s the guy in the pic? Is he single by any chance?” would have been a way to get the same info and save face and without having that bristle of hurt feelings that causes you make a passive aggressive remark that just makes you look worse. That’s a lesson learned for next time!

          As MissGirl said, sliding into DMs requires judiciousness and respecting boundaries.

    4. Alex*

      As someone who has been nursing a crush for a really long time without being able to say anything and whose crush recently started seeing someone else…good for you for putting yourself out there! It was a brave thing.

      1. Liz*

        Seconded. I’ve had a crush on a gym regular for the best part of 2 years and finally struck up an acquaintance over recent months. I was just gearing up to ask for his number but he’s suddenly turned chilly with me (maybe I creeped him out? Maybe I came on too strong?) and now my country is back in lockdown so I never got to take my shot, after MONTHS of buildup.

        So don’t feel bad OP, you took your shot and got a rejection that was more chance circumstance than anything personal about you or your actions. You did a brave thing! That’s amazing!

        1. Allegheny*

          I’m sorry about your situation, Liz. That’s crappy.

          I appreciate the validation, thank you. :)

    5. Coco*

      You have far more balls than I could ever have so just saying congrats for taking the leap/ making the attempt.

    6. allathian*

      Good on you for trying!

      I hope you can get past your annoyance with him for checking you out before telling you of his relationship status, it’s possible he knows you vicariously through your mutual acquaintance.

      And given how unpleasant online encounters can get, his message was cheery and pleasant. At least he was honest about his relationship status.

    7. Thankful for AAM*

      I’m prolly 2x your age but I think what you did was pretty typical and brave – what you did IS the modern equivalent of walking down the street to see them in person as the cute guy could be anywhere in the world and that means a message on IG IS the street. I’m not sure I would have asked the friend from IG about him ahead of time – that’s making things too public and people will talk.

      I agree with the person who said the embarrassed part will fade and you should be proud for going for it!

      For those who don’t get why it was uncool that he followed her and checked her out and then unfollowed her while being engaged – that was a bit like saying, “I’m engaged but if you are hot enough, I will fool around on the side. k bye.”

      1. KiwiApple*

        Soooo you are saying that’s what the guy was doing by following/I’m following OP? You don’t even know him. OP clearly said that they have a mutual friend.

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          Yes, I am saying that if he wanted to see who this mutual friend was who just flirted with him, he would have been aboveboard and followed her and said, oh, thanks for the compliment but I’m engaged. Instead, he followed her to be able to see her (he was looking, not saying hi to a friend of a friend), decided she did not meet his standards or something, and unfollowed her. He was “shopping” even though he is engaged.

          1. MissGirl*

            Maybe. Or maybe he was just curious or the his “engagement” was a kind lie to reject her. We really don’t know anything about him or his motives. All we know is he rejected the OP, which is totally fine. I online date and I get rejected all the time. It’s the risk you take and you move on.

            1. young professional*

              Yes shopping seems like a really malicious interpretation. More likely that he wanted to see who she was. A lot of people would be curious about who is forward enough to send this type of DM..

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        Disagree. You check someone out on social media to see if it’s actually someone you know – or in the case of couples, the partner wants to know who that person is.

        Also, yeah, the “guess that’s a no” is the refrain of the NiceGuys/Girls(tm), in my observation. Basically the rule is “no response is a response” – especially for unsolicited offers given on non-dating sites. If someone’s not interested, just take it on the chin and move on. Set up an actual dating profile on an actual dating site if you want to hit on people online.

    8. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Eh he sounds weird. Why would he look at your profile if he’s already engaged?

      And FWIW I don’t think it was weird at all. I’m 35 and I think using social media for this purpose is very normal.

      1. CTT*

        If I were him, I’d look to see if we had mutual friends because that would guide my response (if it’s someone I have a chance to run into, I’d respond and say no rather than completely ignore it).

      2. Middle School Teacher*

        He’s not weird. It’s normal to see who’s requesting to follow you, if it comes from out of the blue. OP is a little weird, though.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          @Thankful for AAM hit the nail on the head with this:

          Yes, I am saying that if he wanted to see who this mutual friend was who just flirted with him, he would have been aboveboard and followed her and said, oh, thanks for the compliment but I’m engaged. Instead, he followed her to be able to see her (he was looking, not saying hi to a friend of a friend), decided she did not meet his standards or something, and unfollowed her. He was “shopping” even though he is engaged.

          1. Disco Janet*

            I don’t really agree with this take. If someone I’m not friends with messages me, I don’t get a notification – it goes to my requests folder. So I might see the request and check out their profile to figure out how/if I know them without even seeing their message. I don’t think it’s right to make assumptions about this guy we know literally nothing about.

          2. EventPlannerGal*

            Man, that just seems so uncharitable to me. He probably isn’t used to that kind of direct come-on let alone from an online stranger. He probably just followed her to figure out who tf was sending him this kind of message, then figured that he would just ignore it (either because he’s taken or because he wasn’t interested). Strangers who you’re hitting on via DMs don’t really owe you a response.

            1. Disco Janet*

              True. If someone slid into my DMs I’d be like “ok is this a creeper, a bot, or a well meaning person just shooting their shot?” And that’s hard to discern without checking their profile. It does matter even though I’m married because I still want to know if this person social media says I have mutual friends with is a creep, or someone I may run into IRL and need to prepare for the awkwardness of that.

      3. Thankful for AAM*

        He would look at her profile if he is already engaged if he is not a good guy and is still checking women out.
        Or he is not engaged, that is a white lie, and what he really meant is what the OP said, he checked her out and she does not look like what he wants – he goes by looks.

        1. Sam*

          Or a bunch of other completely innocuous reasons, as enumerated in various places in this thread.

          Looking at someone’s profile is meaningless, folks!

        2. Ramona Q*

          This is such a weird response, Thankful. You are making so many unfounded assumptions! Any person, engaged or not, can look at another person’s profile without it meaning anything.

        3. KAZ2Y5*

          @Thankful, you are really not being fair. If it is wrong for some unknown man to “go by looks” (which is certainly at least implied by your statement) then it was wrong for the OP to start this whole thing since she was just going by looks also.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Perhaps it will minimize your embarrassment to put this in perspective. A complete stranger who’s already in a relationship told you “No thanks.” Ouch, but you know, nothing personal really.

      I expect he looked at your profile to find out whether you had a real-life connection, or if you were a total random who was just pretending to know his friend. So he would know whether it was better to block you or reply.

      I understand the feeling of putting yourself out there having had a similar thing happen when I’d ask out a classmate or other acquaintance. It’s really nerve wracking.

      Definitely use those personal networks to pre-screen. I expect your acquaintance could have clued you in, or even made an introduction if he were available. (Or warned you off if he were one of those “good friend, bad boyfriend” types).

      Never pass up the opportunity for inside info. I could’ve saved myself a good bit of upset & aggravation if I’d paid attention to various guys’ reputations back in the day.

    10. Dan*

      Coming from a dude…

      Welcome to the club :D When you don’t know someone, you really have no idea what their motivations for doing *anything* are. When I actively OLD, I’d get signals through the site that were an indication that people were open to receiving a message from me. So I’d give it my best shot, and most of the time I’d get nothing. In general, I did better than average with OLD, so I couldn’t figure out why people who initiated contact weren’t interested in further conversations.

      The best way to handle these things is like interviewing for a job… give it your best shot and move on. Do it enough times, and it becomes routine. Trying to figure out every situation is just maddening and in the end a waste of time. Basically, whether this guy was engaged doesn’t matter. Keep in mind, too, that it’s still generally the norm for a guy to make the first move, so if a woman initiates, it’s still a bit of a novelty. I’d probably look out of sheer curiosity.

    11. Double A*

      We’re in a pandemic, so yo can’t really meet people in person, so this is the equivalent of hitting om a friend of a friend you saw at a party or something. Ignore the people who say it’s weird.

      The way I got together with my husband was I met him through a friend, he told said friend he thought I was cool and she told me, but I was dating someone else at the time. A year later I was single again, I remembered being super flattered by that guy who told my friend I was cute, so I hit up my friend and got confirmation he was awesome and also found out his last name, friended him on Facebook and sent him a message. The rest is history.

    12. Courageous cat*

      Eh, I think this was a misstep. If you reverse the genders, there’s a lot going on here, but mostly your response to him, which came off fairly bitter. You are perfectly within your rights to shoot your shot, but if he unfollows you, that means no. I don’t know what you thought sending a response like that would change. But when I’m on Tinder and I do something like this to a man, and he responds with something like “Lol. So that’s a no, then? Ok. Cool.” I take that as a much bigger red flag than if he had just let it go and understood that the only yes is an enthusiastic yes, everything else is a no.

      My advice: feel free to shoot your shot in the future too, but if someone doesn’t respond, don’t trick yourself into thinking that an (admittedly, I’m sure, very tempting) passive aggressive response will fix that. It does not.

  13. Phoenix from the ashes*

    I am so bored with the interwebs! This site excepted, of course, but I need more. What interesting sites do people recommend? I like the Interesting As… type reddit communities, AMA, ELI5 etc. I like science articles, and book reviews, and quirky stuff like how different people imagine / remember / dream (some of the discussions on here have been sooo fascinating! ). I read the Guardian (uk) daily, and I’d be happy to pay for analysis of social and economic matters if I knew where to start. What else should I be reading??! Many thanks for your suggestions :-)

    1. Disco Janet*

      This isn’t an actual website recommendation but a general one – I think you’d find social psychology experiments to be really interesting. There are some great articles out there on famous ones!

    2. Reba*

      Magazines! For sciency stuff, Aeon and Wired, for books and society what about the NY Review of Books, London Review of Books, LA review of books, you get the idea :) I get the Atlantic, and sometimes read longform pieces in Texas Monthly, its reputation is totally deserved!

    3. beth*

      The New Yorker magazine. Pricey for the print- but it’s weekly. Online only is much less expensive. Has book reviews, short fiction pieces, long essay type articles.

    4. PX*

      In addition to what Reba said:
      The Economist / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / South China Morning Post / Al Jazeera etc (I like reading news from different parts of the world/different perspectives basically, you need to pay for some)
      New Scientist
      Annals of Improbable Research
      Ars Technica

    5. Anono-me*

      I like BBC and USA Public Radio and Television sites. I also like othe countries’ new sites (I find how other countries events interesting.)

      You might like the Baen Books site. Every month or two they post a new short story and an article/essay on the real science behind science fiction. They also have a huge library of free ebooks (usually the first in an author’s series ). I haven’t joined , but there is a thing called Baen’s Bar. (I think it is where members talk about books and share their own stories.) I like it, but to me it has a bit of an old school science fiction era feeling to it, so it may not appeal to everyone.

  14. Loopy*

    Thank you for everyone who commented last week on getting rid of my car’s smell-I’ve purchased two of the products recommended and the project is underway.

    This week I’m finally starting to see the homestretch to having some time off this holiday season and trying hard to get excited despite there being no family gatherings. I usually love the Christmas holiday season- I love all the events, parties, everything. Can any suggest some fun holiday things to look forward to that are covid friendly? Things like baking and easy low cost decorating projects, fun holiday treats. I don’t actually care as much for holiday movies admittedly (but does anyone know of any new holiday themed baking shows coming out on netflix?) but I’m determined not to let 2020 take my holidays. I really need the positivity and excitement after such a long year with so much stress and so little time off.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      I love to make Christmas cookies. Hubs and I were just discussing the plan for this year, I wasn’t sure it would be a good idea to bake in case people were afraid to eat the cookies from fear of Covid. He was horrified at the idea of no cookies and ordered a whole bunch of new cookie sheets and other baking tools so I’d feel obligated to use them! I’m still going to make some for us, but haven’t made a final decision on Cookiepalooza 2020 yet.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Poll your recipients! “This is normally a thing I do, as you know, but with the weird that has been this year I’m checking on folks’ comfort level so nobody ends up with Obligation Cookies that they’re not actually comfortable eating. Thoughts?”

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        If you are still acquiring cookie making gear, stackable cooling racks are an awesome thing.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you haven’t already watched them (or even if you have!) the British Baking Show holiday episodes and the BBS Masterclass (with just Paul and Mary) holiday episodes are both just delightful, and I’m hoping for new ones this year. No idea if that will happen though.

      1. Loopy*

        I’ve seen them all but they are definitely on the rewatch lost. Know any others that are on Netflix? I really adore holiday baking shows. I detest cable but man this time of year I pine for food Network, as they usually have a lot.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Buy (or gather if you’re rural like me) greens to try making wreaths? It can be messy so might be doable as an outside group thing.
      Caroling or wassail if your friends (AND NEIGHBORHOOD) would be into it.
      Outdoor firepit with cocoa & peppermint sticks?

    4. Emily*

      Last year, my S.O.’s family made gingerbread houses! It was really fun and they turned out looking beautiful. (His sister actually made the gingerbread and template, but I think you could make it as easy or hard as you want to.) Making your own paper snowflakes could be easy and fun, maybe also working on a puzzle if you enjoy those.

      1. Loopy*

        I love baking and have actually never made one before, this is absolutely going on my list!!! I’d def want to find a cool template and go all out. Thank you!!!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Gingerbread PSA: There are 2 kinds of gingerbread. If you’re making your own, double-check that your recipe is the kind that stays stiff so your house doesn’t slowly collapse as ours did one year. (Although it did give us some funny pictures.)

    5. Dancing Otter*

      Are you decorating?
      I don’t do a full-size tree anymore. With only two people’s packages, it just looked sad. But a table-top tree doesn’t have the same effect. Plus, I can switch out the decorations every year. This year, I’m thinking about strings of popcorn and of cranberries, candy canes and ribbon bows — all either edible or cheap enough to discard.
      Added benefit: the cats are less inclined to try to climb it.

      1. Loopy*

        Yes I really want to decorate this year! We have tons of Xmas stuff but it’s so sporadic. But I’ll have time to clean the house up and really make it nice. I’m definitely getting a full tree!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A co-worker made a flat felt tree to post on her cubicle wall, complete with decorations held on with velcro. I’m thinking of doing something similar as a curtain to hide the clutter I just (!) Realized shows up on so many of my daughter’s school zoom calls.

    6. Skeeder Jones*

      I really love driving around looking at lights and decorations. We have a few places nearby that really do it up. Some places are better for walking than driving but both of these can be fairly safe for social distancing (especially driving)

    7. Aurora Leigh*

      I really look forward to going to the tree farm and cutting our own Christmas tree! We’ve done this for the last couple years, and it’s a lovely outdoor activity that allows for social distancing.

      I also put up lots of lights indoors where I can see them all the time! I like to outline my windows and go around the ceiling.

      I also enjoy lots of baking!

  15. Someone101*

    Ah sorry to hear that Allegheny. On the plus side, at least he was honest with you and said he wasn’t available, a lot of guys would probably have tried to take advantage of the situation and lead you on. And as for checking you out first, It’s always nice to know someone finds you attractive, I would check out my admirer too!

    1. Allegheny*

      Thank you, Someone101. Idk, I just feel since he’s not available, it shouldn’t matter what I looked like. Even if it makes sense that he was curious! Haha. Oh well.

      1. Ramona Q*

        What a weird response. He was probably trying to see if he knew you, as folks said in your thread, and looking at a profile is pretty normal and standard. You technically intruded on his life, not he on yours!

        1. Courageous cat*

          Agreed. I think you’re reading too much into this, he has a right to literally look at you since you reached out to him out of nowhere.

  16. Not So NewReader*

    For those who have ADHD and have worked with a coach:

    I am asking for my friend. My friend is interested in finding a coach to help with pulling life together in spite of ADHD. This is NOT about work. It’s about life in general. This is not about life coaching. It’s about coping tools, organization and approaches, goal setting and so on. My friend has been looking at coaches on the internet and trying to decide how to select a company or person. I think Friend wants to start with weekly or bi-weekly sessions, but maybe change in a while.

    I said that I would ask here because I am a duck out of water on this one.

    Has anyone done this? If yes, what did you like about it? What did you NOT like about it? Do you have a person/company that you recommend? If you are comfortable, my friend would like some idea about costs. Any other bits of advice are also welcomed.

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      Honestly, I’d probably start with a therapist. My therapist helps me with coping strategies, goal setting and organizing! I’ve always gotten scammy vibes from coaching companies, even if they aren’t actually scammy. Plus the therapist can help you through any other issues!

    2. RagingADHD*

      I have worked with other types of coaches, and my general recommendation is to check references! Talk to former clients, and pay attention to how closely their issues/needs match your own.

      Anyone can call themselves a coach, and being good at sales does not necessarily translate to getting good results for you.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Instead of a life coach, your friend might look into educational therapists. While they frequently work with children, they can also help adults. It sounds like your friend wants real evidence-based behavioral techniques. This is a specialized expertise that a life coach probably won’t have.

    4. Susie*

      I didn’t know what I needed, but there is a clinic near me that does therapy/counselling, coaching, and has occupational therapists for people with ADHD. I emailed them (I was too scared to call) and opted for therapy because they said that the therapists will help with coping strategies and goal setting, etc. as they work through whatever issues you need help with.

      I’m really glad I went this route. I’ve been having weekly sessions for a couple of months and while we did focus on goals and strategies and such for the first few weeks, the last two weeks have been more typical of therapy. But it’s still from an angle of improving my life and how I approach things, and we are still using what I learn in those sessions to tweak the strategies and tools that we are creating. I don’t think it would nearly as effective if I was focussed solely on the coaching aspect.

      This may not work well for your friend if they don’t need the therapy part of things. But I’ve been untreated for decades and don’t often understand why I do things a certain way or react to things the way that I do. I need someone else there to help untangle that mess while we work on coaching strategies to improve my day-to-day life.

    5. Lady Heather*

      Occupational therapy!

      Occupational therapy is very much: What do YOU want to be able to do that you can’t, currently? What adaptive aids do you need to do it/what skills do you need to learn/what different method can we develop?

      (Unlike, say, physical therapy, and other more medically-focused things, which are very: “The average person can walk/can lift their arms. You don’t. You need to learn. Let’s start here.”
      Or psychotherapy which is often very ‘let’s treat your conditions’ instead of ‘let’s get you where you want to be’.)

      I loved occupational therapy. It’s so focused on what the client/patient wants to do and how to get there. 10/10 recommend.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Thank you, everyone.

      My friend is in his late 50s. Old enough to have missed the diagnosis as a kid- because no one paid too much attention to stuff like this at that time.

      I will tell him your suggestions here of a more traditional path as opposed to some new start-up organization. I think overall I will encourage him to watch for results/improvements that are meaningful to him.

  17. Beancat*

    What’s a show/movie/game/etc that caught you off guard with how much you enjoyed it, and why?

    My husband recommended Tiger & Bunny to me years ago after we started My Hero Academia. I enjoyed it fine at the time! But life got in the way and I didn’t finish it.

    Four years later, while furloughed I finally decided to finish it and I loved it! I really love anime with characters who are older (it’s a reason I loved Run With the Wind so much too!), because their emotional struggles often feel closer to mine. I’m getting closer to the age of the main character (in his 30s) rather than his upstart young partner (in his 20s), and it’s so interesting to me to watch myself grow with them. I also really love all the characters, especially main character Kotetsu.

    So what’s something that surprised you with how much you liked it? :)

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We’ve been watching 80s&90s movies lately, and jumping by shared actors. My request for Big Trouble in Little China led us via Victor Wong to Tremors. Then my husband recognized Fred Ward and called for Remo Williams. I was dubious, but it was funny. Sometimes cringe worthy racism (Joel Gray playing a Korean? Why!?), but hey they resisted the urge to have a love interest with the one female character!
      And on my next night to pick, we’ll be following the ‘shared actor’ path to Star Trek Voyager because that one woman was Kate Mulgrew.
      SIDE QUESTION : We were fans of the original Trek, I liked TNG as well, but neither of us have seen Voyager. What is a good single episode to start with?

      1. Beancat*

        Oh that sounds like a fun game to play! I sort of do similar with voice actors – certain folks I recognize immediately (hi Steve Blum and Yuri Lowenthall!) and it’s fun!

        For Voyager, just with the setup of the series I honestly recommend starting with the first episode, just so you know why things are the way they are? But others may have good suggestions for standalone episodes!

        1. Llellayena*

          Yeah, that first episode is incredibly important to the storyline. I would definitely start there. It’s a 2-part episode so short movie-length. It’s a difficult series to watch random episodes on because so much is based on the premise of them moving in one direction (mostly) so certain races/story arcs have to be left behind and new ones introduced. I’m rather fond of the episodes that develop the Doctor’s character. There’s one episode called “Tinker, tenor, doctor, spy” that’s got some great emotion and a nice ego-piercing touch.

      2. comityoferrors*

        Haha, my boyfriend and I made the same jump but backwards: we watched Tremors and he was like “oh yeah this guy is in Big Trouble in Little China!” We haven’t specifically been picking based on actors but that’s a great idea!

      3. PollyQ*

        The Voyager episodes that stand out in my memory were great because of the relationships between the characters, so they wouldn’t work if you didn’t already have the background, I think. Agree that the best plan is to just start from the beginning.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ve been told that it’s not my turn to pick yet and my husband’s looking for his copy of Cocoon for Wilfred Brimley.
        (If he finds that I may have to go on from Maureen Stapleton!)

    2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Yuuri on Ice. I was never into sports or BL, but that anime moved me to tears. Also left me hooked for figure skating 10/10 would recommend. Also the fandom is surprisingly accepting… and thirsty.

      1. Beancat*

        YoI is so good! After hearing about it for a long while I finally got to it in 2017 or so and really enjoyed it. And yeah, the fandom seems great!

    3. Liane*

      2 animes.
      My Hero Academia series.Even though I love superheroes, I’d not watched it with the family (husband & grown kids). The bits I’d caught when they watched seemed really over the top even for the genre, and the art wasn’t my style. But early this year (just before all the shutdowns) a movie was released and I decided to tag along with them. I had so much fun! When Son visits once a week, we often binge together to get me caught up.
      Snow White With the Red Hair. It’s a sweet story about an apprentice herbalist and her romance with a spare prince. Lots of fun and action too. Only downside is there’s only 2 seasons so lots of stuff not resolved. Fortunately, the manga it’s based on has just been reprinted.

      1. Beancat*

        Oh wow, was the movie Heroes Rising? That was so good! It was the last thing my husband and I saw in theaters before lock down. We went to see it dubbed (it’s how we watch the series because we love Christopher Sabat) and we were two of seven people in the theater, and the oldest by a good ten years LOL. I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

        I might have to look into Snow White With the Red Hair; it sounds interesting! Thanks for the rec :)

    4. fposte*

      I’m going to go with Letterkenny. It actually wasn’t so much a surprise that I liked it based on how the recommendations came, but it was a surprise based on content. Apparently with the right background and dialogue I do want to watch men working out hierarchy by punching each other. Who knew?

      1. Beancat*

        I’ve never heard of it so had to look it up, and it sounds kinda neat! And with that ringing endorsement I’m even more curious now…

        1. fposte*

          Think Gilmore Girls with dudes in rural Canada. Machine-gun dialogue, eccentric locals, generous helping of plaid, plus farming and hockey and a not-network TV approach to cussin’.

      2. DistantAudacity*

        Oh yes – I love Letterkenny!

        It’s a manageable number of episodes, and is surprisingly enlightened, nonsexist and nonjudgemental.

        Warning: Can impact other parts of your life. For instance, I just heard the song exploder podcast episode with FKA Twigs where she was talking about working in LA and I couldn’t help but giggle to myself (inside joke). Though, to be fair…

    5. Helvetica*

      I recently watched The Breakfast Club and while parts of it were so ’80s and could never be filmed now and I distinctly disliked the romantic pairings, I got very emotional about several of the earnest speeches and fights. This reminded me of being their age not very long ago and I was amazed how I could still relate to the main theme of the movie. So I was very surprised by how much I liked it.

      1. Beancat*

        Breakfast Club is one I never got around to seeing, but it’s so cool the main theme still resonates so strongly with you!

        1. Helvetica*

          I just put it on as background from Netflix and then did not pick up my phone once! Which shouldn’t be an achievement but it really is. If you ever felt misunderstood by adults as a teenager – which is probably like 99.5% of the human experience – then I think it’ll really take you back to those times. I genuinely teared up. Would recommend!

    6. GoryDetails*

      Over the Garden Wall is an animated mini-series that was recommended to me by my sister. And while she certainly knows my tastes well enough to be a trustworthy guide, I admit that initially the art-style didn’t wow me – but once I settled in, I found it delightful, with a mix of funny, creepy, heartwarming, and cute that was quite satisfying.

      1. ThatGirl*

        We enjoyed that too. And it goes fast, it’s only 3 hours or so total? A little macabre but overall a delight.

    7. Torrance*

      I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed Longmire. It wasn’t my usual type of show & I likely wouldn’t have even given it a shot if not for Katee Sackhoff’s casting. Not only was it a really great show but I was able to recommend it to a NCIS/TWD-watching family member and it inspired some cross-generational bonding.

    8. Generic Name*

      The first Pirates of the Caribbean was a genuine surprise it was so delightful. Same with the Lego Movie.

    9. DistantAudacity*

      I fell into the trap of watching “The Untamed” on Netflix.

      It’s a Chinese fantasy BL series based on a novel/manga, with a wuxia (think flying fighting styles). Due to Chinese censorship laws the live action version features a lot of intense staring and gazing rather than showing the romance directly. Pretty people with pretty costumes, and somewhat dodgy special effects.

      BE WARNED:
      The three stages of watching The Untamed:
      1. This is … nonsense? This is very bad.
      2. Oh, this is quite watchable nonsense.

      There are memes about this.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I just read your comment to my housemate and he goes “I’ve heard of it. I haven’t watched it. But now it sounds like I need to.” So thanks :)

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This is a huge favorite here. My 14yo has been taking Chinese since 1st grade so sometimes she pauses it to give context & explain puns that the subtitles can’t match.
        On her behalf I’ll suggest “Guardian” to you for a future series.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            From the 14yo: Another series by the author who wrote The Untamed is Scum Villain’s Self Saving System, which is currently being released as an animated thing on Youtube (shortened to Scumbag System). It’s amazing.

    10. comityoferrors*

      The Queen’s Gambit. From the style and premise I expected the main character to be sort of a manic-pixie-dream-girl stereotype, and the plot to be a “not like other girls” trope. NOPE. I’m only a few episodes in, but so far the characters and plot have depth and complexity. There’s a great cast of supporting characters who I absolutely fell in love with, even though they don’t have many major moments – they are characterized through visual cues and hints of their stories in every scene, without banging you over the head with “X has Y background!!!” which IMO adds so much to the emotional pull. Every character seems like a real person you might meet. It’s a visually gorgeous show, too. I turned it on as background noise while I worked, and ended up captivated and watching 2 hours of it in one sitting.

      The plot also has a lot more intrigue and appeal than you might think, considering it’s about chess. I rewatched the first two episodes with my boyfriend because I’m so into it and want him to watch the rest with me. He was obviously apprehensive at first, but halfway through the first episode he was engaged in it and commenting on his realizations or predictions about the characters, lol.

      1. Generic Name*

        I watched the whole thing, and I agree. It’s so good! I loved that it didn’t fall into the stereotypical storytelling clichés. At each point where I thought “oh, no. Here comes predicable montage/fall from grace/external struggle” the show surprised me. It was a delight to watch start to finish.

    11. Pieforbreakfast*

      Cobra Kai on Netflix right now. It’s basically a sequel to Karate Kid in series from. I had no interest but my husband turned it on and now we’re both hooked.

    12. Big Moody Curve*

      I was sure I would hate Elementary. I expected it to be a poorly done ripoff of BBC’s Sherlock. But it’s not, it’s a completely different show, with strong storylines, good acting, and one of the best truly platonic male-female friendships on TV.

      Slightly off-topic: For those of us in the US, let me give a shoutout to region-free DVD players. They’re cheap ($40 or so). They’re legal. Mine has let me watch several shows/movies that aren’t available in any format here. Two favorites are Blackpool and Takin’ Over The Asylum. (Yes, David Tennant is in both. No, that’s not coincidence.)

      1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

        The Sherlock Holmes series with Jeremy Brett is far superior to the BBC version. I liked Elementary very much, though.

    13. PollyQ*

      Rogue One. I streamed it one night, expecting to be mildly diverted, but damn if it didn’t totally suck me in with its plot, characters, and performances. Probably my fave Star Wars movie, certainly the one that made me care the most.

    14. NeverNicky*

      Taskmaster – normally I’m not one for watching people being incompetent but the tasks are so surreal no one could be competent …

      Wheeler Dealers/Shed and Buried/Find It Fix It Flog It – not usually interested in anything mechanical but I enjoy seeing skilled people bring things back to life

      Guy Martin docs – see above about no interest in cars/fast things but Guy is incredibly engaging, incredibly hardworking and more than a little bonkers

      Top Gear – formerly very problematic with Clarkson and Co. Tuned in when the hosts changed to Freddie Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness (slight crush on Mr F) and I’ve genuinely choked laughing at this.

      Otherwise my tv watching is entirely predictable – history and wildlife docs with the odd crime fiction adaptation

    15. BLT*

      Emily in Paris!

      I saw a lot of trash talking and whatnot about it. Watched it anyway. Found it lighthearted and delightful and I heart Lily Collins now.

    16. Forensic13*

      The movie Happy Death Day. It’s a goofy but surprisingly affective “Groundhog’s Day” slasher movie. It was funny and actually pretty feminist, which is a nice change for horror.

    17. Girasol*

      For a game, Exploding Kittens. I know it sounds silly, but when we get the family together – five adults – everyone is hilariously vicious.

      1. Beancat*

        We love Exploding Kittens! We only get to play it when my dad visits and it’s always so much fun. When there’s only one kitten left in the deck it’s so intense!

    18. Chaordic One*

      I was caught off guard by how much I enjoyed the BBC/HBO TV series, “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.” I had read a couple of the books by Alexander McCall Smith that the show is based on and thought they were O.K., if a bit “meh.”

      However, seeing the stories on TV was eye-opening to me. They had an extra depth and were placed in a positive context that I didn’t get from the books. Maybe that is just me. I found myself sucked-into the shows in a way I didn’t expect. Too bad the series 0nly lasted a single season.

    19. Double A*

      Santa Clarita Diet about zombies in suburbia. The characters, the relationship a, the humor… One of my favorite shows of all time.

      It is super (campy) gory, so if you’re put off by the first episode you won’t like it, but if you like the first episode it just gets better.

    20. Elizabeth West*

      Anime in general, really. I was never into it that much but I’m starting to get into it more.

      I love Studio Ghibli films. I finally finished Avatar: The Last Airbender, saw all of The Legend of Korra, am waiting in anticipation for the final season of Attack on Titan (and just applied for a job at Sony/Funimation!), and I’ve watched Black Butler and loved it. When I get a job, I’m getting a Crunchyroll sub.

    21. No Sleep Till Hippo*

      I was gifted Horizon: Zero Dawn for my birthday about a month ago – it was on my Amazon wish list as one of those “That sounds mildly interesting and it’s fairly cheap, maybe if I’m bored” type things.

      Holy whoa. It is so good. I often run out of interest in a video game long before I beat it, and I vastly prefer handheld games (don’t like to hog the TV), but this has had me solidly hooked, playing just about every day, since day 1. It’s set in the far future, after the fall of modern civilization, and humanity is back to a tribal pre-industrial way of living. The landscape is populated by dangerous autonomous robots (mostly designed to mimic recognizable animals – horses, alligators, panthers, lions, etc) that are becoming more hostile toward humanity. The main character is a woman named Aloy, who appears to have a better understanding of the machines than most people around her. A discovery is made, a tragedy happens, and epic adventures ensue. (Trying to avoid even minor spoilers, haha)

      The most mind-blowing part for me was when I stumbled across a location on the map and went, “Huh, this looks like Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado (where I grew up).” Then, an in-game thing CONFIRMED that it WAS ACTUALLY Red Rocks!!! The whole map is based on real locations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and surrounding areas in the U.S. Running around discovering the “ruins” of places I’ve been to in real life has been THE COOLEST.

      Alongside that is a really engaging plot and gameplay mechanics that are phenomenally well-balanced. Even at level 50 or so I still feel like there’s enough of a challenge, without feeling like I’m just grinding to get to the next level. I’m determined to beat the game and unravel the mystery of society’s collapse.

      Oh and apparently there’s an expansion coming soon that will extend the map all the way to the West Coast. Eeeee!

  18. Tamer of dragonflies*

    A post in the Friday open thread gave me the idea for this one…
    Whats the most unusual, crazy, scary, freaky critter you’ve found in your living or work space? Where I work,it’s common to find frogs, snakes, salamanders, lizards, turtles, and roaches big enough to use as rollerskates.
    At home, the craziest thing was an opossum, so heres my tale of the opossum incursion…Im guessing it was in its “late teens to early adult” years,so not very big.Now, for reference, my spouse is an animal lover.Its not unusual to find plush toys of woodland critters around the house,so when I got home one night and saw a medium sized,fuzzy wuzzy lil opossum sitting on the couch,I didnt think anything of it…untill it moved! Well this thing made a run for it to get out the way it came in while Im doing what I can to block it and trying to figure out how to catch it.I found an extend a reach grabber thing, caught it and got in a box. Of course, I had to show my spouse ( cuz opossums are “cute”) and after much gushing,with plenty of “AAWWWWWWW”s and “Look at its little feet!”, it was relocated to a nearby park so it could romp and play with the other woodland critters and be a happy opossum.
    So whats your story of encounters of the critter kind?

    1. Beancat*

      Skunks! My husband and I were shuffling our cars at 3 am when he was on his way to work and I heard a rustling while walking to mine. Quite fearlessly (read: stupidly) I got a bit closer.

      Three tiny skunks popped out!

      I immediately crossed the street and gave them space. I was incredibly lucky they weren’t as curious about me as I was them.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        We have a skunk that seems to be living under our house, though thankfully he hasn’t sprayed anything. We didn’t even know until we saw him go under there one day. He comes around most days and loves eating the dry cat food we put out for the feral we feed. He’s quite cute and we call him Pepe. As cute as he is, we definitely watch to make sure he’s not out there when we go outside and give him a wide berth if we see him on the patio.

      2. Generic Name*

        I saw a bobcat at my office a while back. That was super cool. At home I have a snake and a salamander as pets (plus fish, cats, and a dog)

    2. Anima*

      House centipede! (In german: Spinnenläufer.) Where I live in Germany, really big and exotic looking insects are uncommon. It scared the crap out of me because of it’s size! It was around 12 cm long. I screamed and tried (with a sheet of paper) to keep it from running up to my bunk bed, and that startled it enough to go back in it’s hole in the wall (which I promptly closed).
      I later looked the fellow up and house centipedes are quite useful, if they would just NOT look like an alien I would be fine with them. But alas, no.
      There is also a story about the very same room, but with the guy that lived there before me: he apparently let a bat in, which escaped into the flat and had to be let out on the other side of the house by the roommates. Great times.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I just had to have my housemate rescue me from one of these guys a couple nights ago. Yick.

        1. MerelyMe*

          Nothing shortens a shower like an inch or so of house centipede suddenly appearing from the tub overflow. And I couldn’t even get my centipede-hunting cat to deal with it, because the tub was wet.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        The last apartment we had was loaded. It sounds like your are scary big. I think ours were about half or three quarters the size. I jumped every time I saw one. Gosh, they know how to run.

      3. Nita*

        Yikes yikes yikes. I had two of those come out of an old envelope when I was sorting papers for a summer job. This was like 20 years ago and I still shudder when I think about it.

      4. Dancing Otter*

        A bat joined our choir practice one evening. Or perhaps he was making a noise complaint. Critics, they’re everywhere.
        I never thought the expression “bats in the belfry” was *literally * true.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I rented a house with people and cats. The cat door was very popular. The people liked kitschy toys. The people were not very tidy. One day I went into the kitchen and stepped over a vintage rubber salamander. Then it moved. I let out an involuntary shriek before scooping up the Mighty Hunter.
      Our locally raised housemate was delighted, because they’re a threatened species she’d never seen outside of a nature center. She boxed it up, checked to make sure there were no cat punctures, and took it outside to a place she hoped a salamander might want to overwinter. The Mighty Hunter and friend were forced to use a litter box for one night. (Much wailing ensued.)

    4. Violaine*

      In the last few months, I’ve had both a leopard moth and a decent-sized skink inside my apartment. I have NO idea how they got in here.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I live in New England so there aren’t a lot of truly exotic critters wandering around – or so one would think; within the last year I’ve seen notices from people who’ve found stray parrots that escaped someone’s home, and a truly lovely bit about an escaped serval (!) that was found and returned home safely. My own yard visitors have included opossums (the less-cute-than-the-Australian-kind ones – I like them, but they do look like very large rats, and their natural coat-color always looks a bit dirty), rabbits, woodchucks, and, yes, skunks. My favorite skunk encounter: many years ago I had indoor/outdoor cats that would use a cat-flap in my back door. I generally brought them in and closed the door at night, but once in a while one would opt not to come in. Anyway, one evening I stepped out on the porch, saw my fluffy black and white cat lolling on its back in the driveway as if begging for tummy-scritches, so of course I stepped towards it – only to see it run away WITHOUT TURNING OVER FIRST. Yep, it was a skunk, its white stripe looking like my cat’s white stomach. The weirdness really startled me, and then I started laughing…

      Indoor encounters tend to feature the occasional cricket, mouse, or small snake; in the old days of indoor/outdoor cats, they’d bring in their catches, and even though my last several cats have been indoor-only, they sometimes find critters in the basement and bring them up to play with. I’m used to that, and it doesn’t happen very often anymore. But I clearly recall the day when I shifted a bookcase and found the shed skin of a full-grown garter snake behind it! This meant that the snake got in (or was carried in), got upstairs, hid behind the bookcase for long enough to shed its skin, and somehow got out again without my ever seeing it… [Well, I suppose the then-cat could have eaten it, but it was a good-sized snake judging by the skin and I think I’d have seen SOME evidence.]

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m in CT too. I think Buddy the Beefalo is pretty darned exotic…and I sure hope he does NOT wind up in anyone’s house. (Plymouth CT hasn’t got it yet have they? I just came off a couple weeks of deadlines.)

      2. londonedit*

        I lived in New England for a few years as a child, and even though I was pretty young at the time I remember when a flying squirrel got into the house and caused chaos! We also had groundhogs living in the garden, and skunks, and chipmunks (none of which we get here in the UK!)

        Where I live in London, we have tons of green parakeets. There are all sorts of wild theories about where they came from (including one that claims Jimi Hendrix released a pair of them) and they are not at all native, but they’ve really made a home for themselves and you can see them in all of our parks.

    6. allathian*

      When I was a kid, we lived for a few years in an old house. Every summer, we’d get an infestation of big horse ants, about an inch long.

      Two summers ago, we had a rabbit warren under our raised patio. Rabbits are very common here, but it was the first time I saw a tiny baby rabbit in the wild.

      At one time we had an infestation of banana flies. We only got rid of it when a spider decided to move in and we didn’t buy any more bananas or other fruit that’s best kept at room temperature for a few weeks.

      A few years ago, I saw a hedgehog in our back yard.

      1. Janne*

        When the fruit flies have found my bananas or when my bananas are too ripe, I store them in the fridge. They will look a bit weird (they’ll get brown sooner and more evenly) but they taste fine. :)

        I’ve never seen a baby rabbit! Sounds adorable. Hedgehogs are nice too. My parents have a tiny hedgehog house in their yard in which the hedgehog can sleep during the winter. It makes a nest out of dry leaves and only comes out once it’s spring. Such a house really attracts hedgehogs to feel at home in your garden.

    7. Thankful for AAM*

      Iguana . . . always with the iguanas!
      They have overrun south Florida and they are everywhere. tons on our roof and one is in our garage right now but we cannot trap it.

    8. Seal*

      When I lived in Georgia I would occasionally find scorpions in my house. They’re small – an inch or so long – but definitely have tiny pinchers and a tail that curls up with a stinger on the end. The first one I found completely freaked me out – no one warned me that there would be scorpions in the Deep South! I briefly thought I was living in a spy movie and someone was trying to take me out.

      I also saw an armadillo in my backyard late one night while I was living there. There was a rustling in the woods behind my house and then this armadillo came trundling out. You usually see them dead on the side of the road so I was delighted to finally see a live one.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Armadillos are very cool! Despite living in and/or visiting southern Louisiana and eastern Texas often, I didn’t see a live one in the wild, just some of the roadkill versions. But on one lovely trip long, long ago, we were at Disneyworld in Florida, staying in the trailer-park section near the River Country water park (long since closed down), and had a lovely surprise visit by an ambling armadillo that didn’t seem to care that all these strange humans had moved into its home turf…

        1. tangerineRose*

          They are cool, but make sure to give them some space (you probably already are). Humans can catch leprosy from armadillos.

      2. Sleepless*

        I’ve only encountered a scorpion once, when I was living in Athens. Swept him right up when I was sweeping the kitchen. Startling.

    9. Llellayena*

      I almost let a fox into my office. I was leaving for the day and paused for a split second just inside the (glass) door when a fox trotted right past the door, not 4 feet away. If I hadn’t paused, I would have opened the door and it could have come right in! (The door swung so that the open door would have directed it inside. Yes, it was that close!)

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In my actual house, nothing too super crazy, except the spider from hell, which I will put in a follow-up comment to be easier for the arachnophobic to avoid.

      One afternoon, I let my dogs out into my fenced backyard (six-foot shadow box fence, not insignificant) and after a few minutes, the timbre of the ruckus Changed Dramatically, so I went to check it out. There was a cat in the low branches of the tree with a couple-days-old wound on his shoulder, my younger dog was bleeding like billy-o from a scratch on her nose and yelling at the cat, and my older dog was caterwauling around all “WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG.” As best I could tell, Junior Ambassador had tried to play with this cat the way she plays with our cats and this cat freaked out and swatted her nose, and then she was mad because that’s bad manners. (She was fine, it was a minor scratch, nose wounds just bleed.) So we wrestled the dogs into the house and I ended up driving this poor goofy stray cat all over Indy for like three hours trying to find somewhere I could drop him off to get medical attention and scanned for a microchip. (They said he was okay too, just needed to be cleaned up a bit. His microchip info was not up to date, but the humane society took him in to get him sorted out.)

      A few months after that, again, the dogs were outside and the ruckus Changed. I hollered to the housemate, thinking I was joking, “I’m gonna go see what the dogs treed this time.” Two minutes later, I was hollering to the housemate “Can you come help me figure out how to get this woodchuck out of the yard before Alannah blows a gasket?” Same thing – she’d tried to play, gotten forcibly rebuffed, and got mad.

      Luckily, when the possums play dead, they fall off the OUTSIDE of the fence.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        The spider from hell — seriously, if you don’t like spiders, stop now.

        I got cornered by a spider that I swear to god was eight inches across and big enough that I could see it in detail without my glasses on, while I was naked and sitting on the toilet, so that was a whole thing. I swiveled sideways away (keeping an eye on it) and finished what I was doing, then leaped up on the edge of the bathtub, threw every towel I could reach down onto it, and jumped up and down on the pile, keening in terror the whole time, before I fled the bathroom. I told my then-husband about it, and he totally blew me off, until a few hours later when I had gone to work and posted about it on my Livejournal, at which point he commented — “I thought she was exaggerating. That was the biggest g-d spider I have ever seen. We need new towels.” (I DON’T KNOW WHERE IT CAME FROM. It was not in the middle of the floor when I went into the bathroom or sat down. It was just suddenly THERE, in the middle of the floor, between me and the bathroom door.)

        1. All the cats 4 me*

          Fell from the ceiling maybe?

          I fear and loathe spiders. I am not sure I would have coped as well as you did, but I would have definitely been spending the rest of the day recovering.


          1. DaisyAvalin*

            The first place I moved into upon leaving my parents’ house was a shared flat. One night I got into bed, lights all off, and as I closed my eyes I heard a ‘whoosh’ and ‘plumph!’ of something falling through the air and landing on my pillow next to my head! The bed was in the opposite corner of the room to the door/lightswitch, and to this day I swear I did that distance in one jump!

            Yeah, a spider had fallen off the ceiling onto my pillow. It was attempting to scuttle off the side of the bed when I saw it, and that was the first of the only two times I have squashed a spider rather than corralling it in a glass and putting it outside!

            The other time was in the same flat, when I saw an enormous spider (would fill the bottom of a pint glass with it’s legs curled up to it’s body sized spider) right next to the leg of the sofa one evening. That one got a large Collins dictionary/thesaurus dropped on it!

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I once was laying in bed reading (loooooong time ago, I still lived with my parents and my bedroom was in a partially finished basement) and suddenly there was a spider hanging down on a thread between my face and my book. I closed the book on him. Literally. Threw the book under the bed and never did finish it. :P

        2. Nita*

          Tarantula? My husband swears he once saw a tarantula while on his lunch break, in a park, in downtown Manhattan. Said it was as big as his hand, hairy, the whole nine yards. He’s not an expert on nature stuff but I don’t know WHAT local critter he could have seen that looks like a tarantula. Must have been the real deal. If that was me, my lunch breaks would be several subway stops away from that day on.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            My housemate (who is an aficionado of things with too many legs and too few legs), hearing the story from like ten years away, said the same thing. I totally wouldn’t have guessed that there would be a tarantula wandering around a third floor apartment in downtown Bellevue, Washington, but we couldn’t come up with anything else it might have been, so maybe someone else in the building lost their pet or something. And yeah, if I’d have had an option, I probably would’ve avoided that bathroom for a good long while — alas, it was our only one, so I had to suck it up :)

      2. KoiFeeder*

        Oh! My brother’s dog once found a warren of baby groundhogs. Sir Fusspot, uh, made relocating the rest of them a moot point- but my brother’s dog had picked up one of them (she’s a golden retriever) and it was totally unharmed aside from being pretty freaked out!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Elder Statesdog has found a couple of bunny nests in her earlier years, and that never went well. =/

    11. Nesprin*

      A blue jay- it wandered into my apartment, got turned around and flew under my office door while being pursued by the cats. I managed to coax it out a window before opening the door to seethe cats judging hard that I’d let it go.

    12. Pieforbreakfast*

      My cat brought in a live praying mantis once. I live in Oregon.
      Years ago a roommate’s cat had a squeaky toy which , when I got closer, was a live bat. The cat was declawed and indoor-only and I believe he was just as weirded out as the bat. When I got the cat away the bat jumped on my foot and clung to my shoe for dear life so I walked to the back door and kind of flung it across the porch. That cat failed to catch any of the mice that wintered in that apartment but he caught a flying mammal.

      1. pancakes*

        Oh, praying mantises. My boyfriend grew up in rural upstate NY and spent a lot of time exploring outdoors. One day he found what he thought were cool-looking, dried-up old seed pods and brought home a bunch, only to come home from school one day and realize they were praying mantis egg sacks. They hatched and he had hundreds of tiny praying mantis babies in his room, which he somehow managed to scoop up in a jar and put outside before his parents caught on. (They had 8 kids so were experienced with chaos, but still…) He kept finding stray ones for weeks afterward.

    13. Always Late to the Party*

      One time I came home from a 12 hour road trip to find about eight racoons in/around my garage. They barely acknowledged my car when I pulled up and lazily continued to jump around my garage rafters and chill in front of my garage door. I parked on the street that night.

      Thankfully they returned to whatever park they were living in sometime in the night but I’ve been scared of raccoons since.

    14. KoiFeeder*

      I like snakes, so the black rat snake that figured out that I’d put my dollhouse on top of the heating vent and he could overwinter in there was not scary, but it was definitely not the usual house visitor! Scariest for me was the nest of yellow jackets that chewed their way through the walls of my bedroom. I still have nightmares about that.

      At school, I had a black widow spider take up residence in my high school locker. That one’s on me, I had a bad habit of forgetting my lunches, and I let her go at the end of the year so she didn’t bite the maintenance dude. There was also the bio teacher’s snake that escaped during one class (very exciting) and the toebiter in undergrad (you do not know fear until a three inch toebiter smacks you in the face).

        1. Black Horse*

          I literally jumped about 3 inches in my seat and yelled “GAHHHH”

          I do not feel lucky!!! Although…now that I think about it….I’ve never seen one of those, didn’t know what they are until now and so yeah I guess I’m lucky to live someplace that doesn’t have them!

          1. KoiFeeder*

            They’re water insects and the ones native to my area only decide to fly when their ponds or streams dry up, so it’s very unusual to have one bean you in the face on the way from class. I’ve always assumed that that one bit something and got flung, because it was going pretty fast!

            Yes, I did return it to a body of water, and yes, it did bite me painfully multiple times. At least it just bit my hands.

    15. Queer Earthling*

      Lizards aren’t unusual to find in one’s house, but I’m from Minnesota, which has no lizards. So once I moved to the Southeast, anytime I found a lizard in our old basement I was delighted! (This happened a lot at our old house, though, because it had gaps around the windows that I’m pretty sure a small dog could have fit through if it really wanted.) Also, in our new apartment, when we were bringing my spouse home from surgery last year there was a praying mantis hanging out on our door, which was cool as heck.

      Not my living space, but my favorite thing ever was when I was riding the bus through Minneapolis, sleepily listening to the phone conversation happening behind me, glanced out at a graveyard…and saw a half dozen turkeys wandering through!

    16. pancakes*

      Not my living or work space, but one year a luna moth visited the deck of a vacation rental house the morning of my birthday. I love moths and had never seen one of those in person so I was really pleased to see it. She (?) stayed for a long while letting the dew dry off her fuzzy parts before flying away.

    17. Anon Ranger*

      *laughs in Park Ranger* I love this thread.
      Since my job has me in direct contact with critters and crawlies as the norm, it’s always fun to hear about them where they don’t belong (as long as I’m not the one who has to retrieve them!).
      Please don’t feed your workplace critters, most snakes are good to have around (outside), and spiders pay their rent!

      1. pancakes*

        Spiders are great. I don’t put them outdoors unless they’re monstrous anomalies. There is a part of Maine I go to in summer when I can where there are spiders serious enough to have audible footsteps, but fortunately I’ve never had an encounter with one of those.

        I hand-fed squirrels on my NYC fire escape years ago but would not do the same now, & fully understand that was dumb! I still love to watch them, though.

        I have another little story now that I’m thinking about squirrels: My grandmother, who grew up in Suffield CT when it was surrounded by farmland, once had an excitable squirrel leap up and get its claws stuck in her wool skirt while crossing the town green. She walked into the vet’s office with it attached!

        1. allathian*

          My SIL got bitten by a squirrel when she was a kid. Apparently some people fed the squirrels in her location, and when she didn’t have any food for it, the squirrel bit her. The bite hurt but didn’t break her skin, so she didn’t need a tetanus booster that time. She hasn’t really liked squirrels since then.

    18. Marika*

      Many MANY years ago (like, pushing 30?) my parents owned a cottage up in Northern Ontario. It was built on the edge of a glacial lake, which had once been MUCH bigger, so the property was on the side of the basin – which meant while the back of the cottage was on the ground, the front was on pillars 10 ft high. This meant we had a large space under the cottage, which had wood walls (more like panels) but wasn’t liveable space.

      One morning we woke up to the odd sound of “crunch crunch crunch….’chooo” like something sneezing. It stopped, then started again, then stopped, then started again. About six repetitions in, my dad decided to go under the house and see what the HELL was going on.

      Under the cottage he found a porcupine – a really BIG (he figures the better part of 40 pounds worth) porcupine, happily making a meal out of a sheet of plywood stored under the cottage…. the crunch crunch was him eating… and the ‘choo was him SNEEZING. He’d munch, sneeze, back away from the board, wait a few minutes, go back, and it would happen again.

      My dad called my Papa Noel, who was our guide to the weird and wonderful at the cottage, and he replied, quite nonchalantly – “Yep, that happens sometimes. Porks love plywood, but most of them are allergic to the glue holding it together. So, he eats, he sneezes. Give him space, he’ll get sick of sneezing and leave soon enough. Keep the kids indoors though, he’s liable to be cranky when he has to give up his snack”.

      Many years later, I told the story to a friend who’s a wildlife biologist, and she confirmed that, in fact, porcupines are allergic to the chemicals used to PRESSURE TREAT plywood, not glue, but that yes, they do, in fact, sneeze from it! Also, the best way to get rid of them is to lay out a trail of cedar chips … they’ll eat that over other wood, but that if you’re using them for trail mulch, expect extra porcupines :)

    19. Girasol*

      I live in the northern US where there aren’t any desert crawlies. After living here ten years, I got up one morning, stowed my laptop and sack lunch in my computer pack on the kitchen counter, reached to zip it up, and jerked my hand back. There was a scorpion on the zipper pull. I’ve never seen another one in this state before or since. I put him in a jar, showed him to everyone, and then let him out on the way to the dump. I looked him up and scorpions are actually known to live here, but I always imagined he lived the rest of his life as a lonely little pointy hermit.

    20. Rara Avis*

      Woke up at 3 a.m. to the sound of pages turning. Wondered why my husband was reading in the dark. Woke up a little more and realized we had a bat in our bedroom! Luckily we had double-hung windows so we were able to open one at the top and shoo it out.

      1. Rara Avis*

        Oh, and “palmetto bugs” in Florida: newly married, first night in our new apartment, furniture still en route, so we’re on the floor in sleeping bags. A palmetto bug walked across my husband’s face.

    21. Nita*

      My parents had an opossum make a nest in a backyard shed once. We had a dog so it wasn’t really safe for either one of them. I tried to shoo her out with a broom, and she nearly bit the broomstick in half – they have some strong jaws! That’s when I realized she’s not going anywhere because there are baby possums. The dog was banned from the yard until the babies got old enough and the whole family left. It was really cute, but I dismantled the shed after that, just in case the next time the dog finds someone before I do.

    22. Dancing Otter*

      When my then-employer was in a newly completed building in the middle of a cornfield (room for later expansion, still being farmed), we pretty much expected field mice.

      Field mice have predators.

      No foxes or hawks came inside after them. There were, however, a rash of snake sightings. Facilities pooh-pooh’ed the reports. Then they got the call about one turning up in the president’s office. (They were traveling through the HVAC ducts) It wasn’t venomous, but it wasn’t a little garter snake, either.

      “Well, yes, sir, we had heard about snakes in the building, but we didn’t believe the secretaries who reported it, so we didn’t do anything.” “No, sir, you’re right, that wasn’t the best decision.” “Yes, sir, we’ll try to do better in future, sir.” Yup.

    23. WoodswomanWrites*

      I used to live where I worked, at an outdoor education facility. I lived in an old funky trailer and the sliding entrance door sometimes wouldn’t align correctly and required fussing with the latch to close it properly. One night a friend of mine from out of town was staying with me overnight and sleeping in the living room. In the middle of the night, I was awakened by his shouting and commotion. I found him staggering around trying to get a raccoon out of the house that had managed to open the sliding door. He was disoriented thinking he was in his own house and wondering where he was on top of chasing the raccoon. I grabbed a broom, got the raccoon out, latched the door, and my friend and I had a good laugh.

      At the same place, we had a shared washer and dryer for the residents that was located in a shed. One day my co-worker opened the shed door to carry his laundry in, and a raven flew straight at his head. Apparently someone had left the door open, and the bird had come in, and then someone else noticed the open door and closed it and inadvertently trapped the bird inside. When the raven made a break for the open door, my co-worker just about had a heart attack.

    24. Janne*

      I love this thread! I have been googling some of the animals (groundhogs, skinks, armadillos) because they don’t live on my side of the sea, and I’ve been amazed.

      We do have a freaky animal here that doesn’t (normally) live in the US: the beech marten / stone marten. It looks really cute, but it can creep into the engine of your car and eat parts of it, which is not only annoying but also dangerous. My parents live in a quite rural part of the country and there are a lot of stone martens in their neighborhood. They put chicken wire on the ground under their car to discourage the martens. The animals also like to build nests between the ceiling and the roof of a building, and when one dies in there it stinks terribly.

      The previous house I lived in had a mice problem. It was a very draughty 1930s house and we shared it as students so it wasn’t the cleanest. I saw a mouse run across the kitchen counter and disappear behind the microwave. One of my housemates saw it run across her room and disappear behind a baseboard. First I set a trap but the mouse licked the peanut butter right off it and came out very alive. :’) Then I just put all of my food into hard plastic or glass bins so that the mouse couldn’t eat it, and I stuffed all of the holes and cracks with steel wool. Mice are cute, but I don’t like mice feces in my kitchen and I don’t like my housemates screaming.

    25. Sleepless*

      I have a friend in western NC whose coworker almost walked right into a bear when she went outside for a smoke break!

  19. Embroidery on Velvet?*

    Hi everyone! I’m really keen on using this beautiful royal blue velvet fabric for a piece (I’ll attach a link in a comment). I’m very much a beginner and would be okay with waiting to work on this till I have more practice.

    What’s your experience of working with velvet? Any tips for beginners? Honestly no tip is too basic for me right now, so I’d love to hear your thoughts! I plan to frame the finished piece in the hoop itself, if that helps. (P.S. where do you get fancy frame-worthy hoops? I checked out my local craft supplies store but didn’t find anything that would fit the bill)

    I think I would mostly use satin/long and short stitch, with backstitching for the outlines, but I read somewhere that satin stitch on velvet is a bad idea. Any suggestions for what I could use to fill in instead?

    Thank you for reading!

    1. Yvette*

      How about for large areas inlay a piece of colored velvet and outline stitch over the edge? Or chain stitch with multiple strands.
      Nice, plain wooden hoops can be sanded and stained cherry or mahogany or oak prior to use and the screw covered with a ribbon rosette or a large flat fancy button.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Well you just sent me down a delightful rabbit hole! I’m not an embroiderer and your link hasn’t made it through moderation yet, so I went to the browser. How beautiful! And I spotted a link about hoops and keeping the fabric from getting squished so I’ll share that in my own reply that will get stuck in moderation. I’m pretty sure my daughter will be trying this in the future.

      1. Embroidery on Velvet?*

        This is such a sweet comment, glad I could make you happy! Thank you for the link, and I hope your daughter enjoys embroidery.

    3. CatChaser*

      Sorry I can’t help with the embroidery stitches, but just a note. Velvet has a nap, so you may want to be careful which way you lay out your design. You might want to put the velvet on the wall and test the orientation to see if one way looks “better” than another.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I have sewn garments with velvet but never embroidered on it.

      My biggest tip is to be very careful with ironing. Just use steam from the back side, and lay the front side down on another piece of velvet or another piled fabric. Don’t use any pressure, let the steam do the work.

      1. Yvette*

        +1 to no pressure. A lot of modern velvet has a high polyester content which = easily melted. Just hover the iron over the fabric.

        1. Embroidery on Velvet?*

          Thank you Yvette! I’m so glad I wrote in cause I would’ve ruined my fabric otherwise haha

  20. Blue Eagle*

    Reading Thread
    I just finished Alison’s recommendation from last week “The Smart One”. It was a fun read and great when your local library has it for two reasons: (1) less cost, (2) it can be returned when you’re finished so there isn’t one more piece of clutter in the house.

    1. Blue Eagle*

      I just realized Alison’s rec for this week was nonfiction so here are a couple of nonfiction books I’ve read in the past month that I enjoyed.
      – Basilica by R.A. Scott about the building of St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. It not only addressed the construction of the building, but also the behind the scenes intrigue between the popes, the architects, and artists of the time during the 100+ years it took the finish the entire project.
      – Jewels by Victoria Finlay has a separate chapter on nine different jewels including where they are found and their popularity in jewelry over history.
      – Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham, an in-depth look at the causes and aftermath of the nuclear reactor meltdown at Chernobyl. Not as easy a read as the prior two books, but fascinating.

    2. MinotJ*

      I just finished listening to Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell. It was as close to a disappointment as I can get with this author. I like his more mystical stuff and this had very little. And of the five main characters, he spent so much time on my least favorite! Ugh, grow the heck up, Dean! But it had enough callbacks to some of his other books that I think I’m going to see if I can download Cloud Atlas or The 1000 Autumns of Jacob De Zoet and enjoy them again.

    3. Penny Parker*

      Currently reading Voices in the Mirror by Gordon Parks. I read his earliest biographies when I was a teen and now — fifty years later — re-read his early ones and am working on his fourth. He was an amazing man and accomplished so much!

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I just finished End Game, the most recent book in the Will Robie series by David Baldacci. Last night I started The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett. It’s supposed to be a prequal to Pillars of the Earth.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oo, will you report on the new Follett book when you finish it? It’s on my library hold list but I’m way far out in line.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yes, definitely! I’m only two chapters in and it has grabbed me already.

          I’m really hoping there’s a sequel to A Column of Fire. At the end, I remember them talking about the Mayflower and going to the New World.

    5. HamlindigoBlue*

      I just finished “The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” a couple of days ago. I had just started “A Single Swallow” by Zhang Ling last night when I got a notification that my request to borrow the audiobook of Matthew McConaughey’s memoir, “Greenlight,” was available for download. So, I’ll probably be going through both of those at the same time.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My husband is reading “Flavor” about the science of human sense of taste. He’s been telling stories from it enough that I’m next in line to read it.
      “It’s good. Not as good as Salt or Cod but worth reading.”
      (Everything is held up to those 2 Kurlanski books in this house because we listened to one on a thousand mile roadtrip, and segued into the other.)

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        If you like Cod, I’d like to recommend “Tuna: A Love Story” by Richard Ellis.

  21. Blue Eagle*

    Horse racing
    If there are any aficionado’s of the big horse races, this weekend is the Breeder’s Cup challenge at Keeneland (near Lexington, Kentucky). Yesterday there were 5 races for juveniles. Winners to watch for next year’s big 3-year old races were:
    fillies – Vequist, Aunt Pearl (out of Ireland)
    colts – Essential Quality, Golden Pal, Fire at Will
    There is more racing today for older horses; if you are in the USA the first half will be televised on NBCsports, the second half on NBC. Otherwise you can check out their website and view the livestream on Youtube.

  22. Tea and Sympathy*

    It looks like I might need to move back to the US, due to family health issues, after living a couple of decades abroad and under national health care. Does anyone have any advice on researching and acquiring health care in the US? Anything to watch out for? I’ve heard so many horror stories that I find it scary and daunting. I’m single, so it will just be for me. Because of the afore mentioned family health problems, I don’t plan to get a job in the near future.

    1. MissGirl*

      If you don’t plan to get a job, then you could buy Individual insurance through the ACA. The quality of this varies hugely from region to region. Decide where you’ll live and that will narrow down your options. I worked in a health system and actually did contracting with the various ACA insurances in my area. We offered Individuals a discounted rate that was actually better than we offered regular insurance but that’s because you pay all of the care versus having your insurance pay part.

      What can be costly isn’t the care but the premiums. That’s where you’re research should lie. It’ll also depend on how much you use healthcare. If you want a super cheap plan that covers emergencies that’s one thing. If you have a chronic condition that’s another. Some people forgo insurance and decide that they’ll pay out of pocket for anything that comes up. This can definitely be risky but if you’re young, you could try it. These people save up so much money each month and bucket it away for expenses.

      1. Anona*

        And be careful of the enrollment deadlines for the ACA. Because you’re moving it may be a qualifying event that allows you to enroll at another time, but there are limitations, so read up on it/don’t wait forever to enroll.

      2. Anonymous for this, colleagues read here*

        Don’t gamble on this if you’re young. My 20-year old son is extremely healthy, an athlete in fact, except for the brain tumor and consequent loss of a lot of vision he’s been battling for almost 15 years, off and on. Thank god for decent state employee health insurance, because if that were all out of pocket we would have been bankrupted the first year. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of care. He just this summer had to go back on chemo — add up the additional MRIs, oncology visits, neuro-ophthamologist visits, not to mention the cost of the medication from a specialty pharmacy.

        I work with college students. Every year one of my healthy students has some sort of health emergency: stroke, heart attack, severe intestinal illness, flu that complicates into pneumonia and long hospital stays, schizophrenia…

        Get health insurance. Read the details carefully on whatever policy you consider.

        1. Gamer Girl*

          Yup, came here just to say this. As someone who has emigrated permanently from the US but still goes back to visit family occasionally, I always, ALWAYS get travel health insurance for the duration of my visit. People abroad believe that their national health care will cover them in the US, but it will only cover UP TO the cost in your home country. (In mine, the max cost of a GP visit is 25 euros. My parents pay 150 dollar copay to see their GP, total cost 250 dollars!) The time I got pinkeye and had to see a doctor in the US to get a prescription made it worth getting that travel health insurance.

          And now, just imagine the heavy, heavy cost if you were in a car accident or got hit by a drunk driver or got COVID… Too terrible to even contemplate, but I have friends in Canada who got hit by a drunk driver while they were over the border visiting family in the US. Please, please do not gamble with this, even for a week. Make sure you are covered!

          (Sorry, I only read the horror stories too, but it’s reinforced by all the work my mom had to do on the phones for hours, every day except Sunday, for nearly three months to get my parents’ health insurance to cover basic cancer care for my dad. Even though she had pre-confirmed that all was covered they just…didn’t pay anything for MONTHS after his surgeries and post-op care, kept denying that surgeries to literally remove cancer weren’t covered or that they were “extras”, and this was post-ACA, but also their employer-provided healthcare is terrible. Last piece of advice: check your bills religiously and don’t be afraid to follow up politely but firmly, take the names of everyone you talk with, and make them pay up! If you’re a woman, you can get low-cost BC and women’s healthcare through Planned Parenthood, it really is a great service, don’t be afraid to check them out!)

          Good luck!

    2. Alex*

      I don’t think advice would be applicable across all states. I know how to do it in *my* state (MA) but all states are different. Also, health care in the US is an issue in flux…

      In MA, there is a site run by the govt. that shows you different health plans you can purchase and determines if you are eligible for a subsidy. I used it way back in the day when it was “Romneycare” and not “Obamacare” but I think it still works pretty much the same way. I’d start with the state you are moving to and see what kind of resources they have for individual insurance.

      1. Natalie*

        On that note, if you have any choice as to where you live within the US, I’d chose somewhere that expanded Medicaid and runs their own exchange. There’s just a better chance you’ll get the coverage you need.

        1. fposte*

          Yes! This is a state by state call, so even which side of a state border you live on could make a huge difference. (States also have different legal protections, like those states like NY that forbid surprise billing, but ACA access is the main factor.)

    3. Mimosa Jones*

      I’d start with ignoring the horror stories. Yes, the US system has a lot of systemic problems, is very expensive, and a lot of people fall through the cracks. But it does work for a lot of people and you’re better off assuming it’s going to work for you. A lot depends on where you’ll be living. The ACA Affordable care act/Obama care) is a national program, but it’s mostly a tent that contains all the different state programs. Your first step is to visit the healthcare dot gov website. You’ll answer a few questions about demographics and income. If you qualify for your state’s Medicaid program, you’ll be automatically applied and you’ll have to wait for a decision by the state before selecting a plan. The state has 45 days to answer, but they’re often faster, especially outside of open enrollment which I think will be from Nov 15 to Dec 31. Medicaid plans are administered by 2 or more insurance companies. You’ll be assigned to one when you enroll. If there is no expanded Medicaid or you don’t qualify, then you need to select a plan from the healthcare site. They all cover the same things so it’s just a matter of finding the combination of monthly fees, deductible, and copays that works for you. You may qualify for discounts based on your income. The silver plans tend to have the best combination of deductible and fees. I recommend choosing 3 plans and run some hypothetical numbers based on your health to see how the costs compare. There are local and online agencies that can help you select a plan, depending on where you are. Your moving date is what is called a qualifying event for being able to enroll in the ACA. From then you have 60 days to enroll in a plan.

      1. Tea and Sympathy*

        Thanks for this advice. I think because I’m abroad, I only hear the horror stories. And the family health situation has gotten my anxiety about everything ramped up.

        1. Esmeralda*

          If you are moving and not working to help a family member, can you ask them / the family to pay your health insurance costs? (premiums, co-pays, deductibles)?

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Similar situation, only I have developed a pre-existing condition that is expensive. Do the rules below still apply? My partner would probably work and, depending when we move, I would also still be able to work. I would mostly be concerned about gap coverage if we need to move without jobs.

      1. Natalie*

        As long as the ACA stands, the rules and premiums are the same for everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions. And it sounds like you may know this but just in case, even without the ACA that would not be an issue with employer-provided coverage.

    5. ronda*

      i found the healthcare.gov site pretty easy to use. People are mentioning different states being different, but it is also different by what plans are available in your zip code. Use the site and you can get an idea.
      If your income is in the range that allows it you will get a subsidy (reduction in premium) that will be listed on the site, you true up on your income tax return for the year.
      you can put in your info without setting up an account and get an idea of what is available at any time.

      enrolling during open enrollment (nov 1 to dec 15) was very easy. enrolling during the year when I moved required a little extra paperwork. I had to provide proof of coverage thru my employer and when it ended, and proof that I moved.

      Also note the income ranges. there is a minimum and a maximum to get the subsidy. If you are below the minimum and the state expanded medicaid, they will direct you to sign up for that. If they did not expand medicaid you would still be able to sign up on the website, but pay the full premium. There is also a maximum income, still can sign up… but pay the full premium.
      The other item is cost sharing reduction. At certain levels of income you get lower copays, lower deductible and lower out of pocket maximum. This will only apply to silver level plans.
      There are 3 levels of silver plans that you will qualify for if your income is the right % of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). The income that is used is the Modified Adjusted Gross Income (you can find lists of what is included online)
      • 138-150% of FPL: You’re getting huge premium subsidies and qualify for large cost sharing subsidies with 94% of medical expenses paid on Silver Plans
      • 150%-200% of FPL: You’re getting significant premium subsidies and qualify for moderately large cost sharing subsidies with 87% of medical expenses paid on Silver Plans
      • 200-250% of FPL: You’re getting significant premium subsidies and qualify for slight cost sharing subsidies with 73% of medical expenses paid on Silver Plans

      So, if you can manage your income to certain levels you can get savings…. but you can still sign up for the full price plans if your income level doesnt qualify for the savings.

      Do note that even if you qualify for the cost sharing, you might want to do a high deductible bronze plan to reduce cost if you are not a health care user. If you had an accident or major illness crop up, you would likely have to pay the out of pocket max, then the rest would be covered… but if you didnt have a costly event…. your bronze level premiums would be less than the silver plans.

      If you decide to go for the high deductible plan, look at the hsa eligible ones and open a hsa with fidelity to reduce your taxes. Fidelity is the lowest cost administrator (they charge no fees for the account) for hsa and lets you invest the money in investment funds instead of requiring some to be held in cash

    6. Blackcat*

      You may be able to buy a temporary “travel” policy while you figure out what to do.
      I have no idea of returning from time abroad counts as a qualifying event for buying into the Obamacare exchanges. Most states have offices to help you enroll in policies, so I’d look into state-specific resources, and go from there.

      1. Tea and Sympathy*

        Unfortunately it seems that companies offering travel insurance have taken the US during covid off the table.

        1. anonlurkerappa*

          World Nomads Travel Insurance is still taking US folks, based on this blog I read – links formatted so that it doesn’t go to moderation

          apurplelifeDOTcom /2020/07/21/my-retirement-health-insurance-plan/
          apurplelifeDOTcom /2020/10/27/early-retirement-week-3/

        2. jolene*

          Airlines are offering travel insurance as an incentive. You could book a return flight, not use it and have the coverage for that period of time.

  23. Anonosaurus*

    So it’s becoming clear that going to spin class is going to be, at best, sporadic due to the virus and I’ve decided to invest in my own spin bike so I can do online classes. But I’m finding the variety of models on the market bewildering. Anyone got any recommendations? I want something quite solid and don’t mind if it’s heavy. The quieter the better as I live in an apartment. Needs to be adjustable in all dimensions as I’m teeny. I don’t care about it having Bluetooth, a screen, or a heart rate monitor or anything like that. Budget up to GBP800 or so as I’m willing to raid my savings for the sake of my cardiac health not to mention the kilos regained during lockdown! Thanks!

    1. Llellayena*

      I’ve never done spin, but would the types of classes you want to do affect the type of bike you get? I’m thinking of classes that might use different settings, speed or resistance. Checking the classes first might help you narrow the list of bike that will work. Or just get the specific bike your gym has.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I bought a Schwinn IC8 – £1K, but the IC4 has almost the same functionality and its about £600. Chose it because it didn’t have a screen or any fancy stuff, but was adjustable and tracked what I needed it to track. Oh,and MUCH cheaper than the Peloton (which was sold out anyway).

      We financed it 12 monthly payments (which were about the same as my gym membership!) and it is whisper quiet (we are also in a flat). Look at fitness-superstore.co.uk or other outfits in the Midlands that will deliver (on a pallet) to your home.

      So glad we bought this back in June, I use it a few times a week and I love the flexibility of just being able to ride a little bit or use the peloton app on my phone for a workout,etc.

      1. Cabin Fever*

        Also have a Schwinn – the IC4. Love how quiet it is. And if you have a tablet (or smartphone), you can access the Peloton classes as you ride. There are comparison charts online to help match up the resistance levels.

  24. Moving with a senior dog*

    Spouse and I are looking for a new home. We sold our 1 floor condo and are looking at 3 level townhomes. We have a very old toy poodle who is losing her sight and most likely partially if not mostly deaf.
    Any tips on how to make life easier for her in the new place? We’ve not moved as long as we have her. Thinking of getting baby gates in from of stairs so she can’t accidentally fall down the steps. But other than that not sure.


    1. sswj*

      Definitely gate off the stairs, at least until you are positive she knows about them.

      There are a couple of ways to approach it. You can start her off in a small space without many obstacles, maybe a pen in the kitchen of family room. As she gets accustomed you could expand the space by giving her the run of one room at a time by using gates across doors (if your layout allows it). Let her get comfortable with each expansion before you add on to it, and monitor the changeover carefully.

      You could also give her a pen or room where she’d be safe when you can’t watch her, and then when you’re home keep her with you on a leash. You can take little introductory walks around the house, especially rooms with lots of furniture. If she has some sight she should adapt pretty quickly. If she really has no vision at all it will take longer, and you’ll want to plot a routine kind of path that she’d be most likely to use, like from her safe place to the door, or from her place to the living room, etc.

      Probably a combination of these things is what will work. Much depends on how brave/energetic she is, the layout of your new place, and her usual habits (sleeping with you or getting on furniture, roaming a lot vs just staying in her own bed, etc.) She’ll adjust, it may just take some time.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Signing on to all of this — my Elder Statesdog has minor vision issues, minor hearing issues, moderate mobility issues and moderate cognitive issues, and limiting her options as far as where she can go has been our best bet. The stairs are gated off, so she doesn’t try to go up or down them anymore, and now she has access to just our main floor. We have five doggy pillows of three different styles around, so she can pick where she wants to hang out, and they’re in my office (where I WFH) and the living room (where we all spend most of our evenings), so she has lots of people company, though she sometimes goes into my office in the evenings for peace and quiet. (I have a camera in there pointed at her pillows so I can check on her without disturbing her.) She’s pretty chill, so if she ends up in a corner and can’t figure out how to get out of it (did you know: inability to back up is a sign of doggy dementia?), she calmly barks, very “HEY. … HEY. … HEY … “ until someone comes and shows her how to get out of the corner, but luckily it doesn’t seem to stress her too bad, because she knows that someone will come help her out. (Which makes me feel a little bit better about going “Bless her, my dog is lost in the corner again,” because at least it’s not scary and bothersome for her.) This was adjusting doggy changes to an existing home, rather than adjusting a new home to work for a doggy, but it’s similar.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      If you’re worried about stress on her end see if you can take her to the new place a few times for a bit of exploring before you actually move in. Also worth trying an adaptil collar/spray/plug in to help with the adjustment period. Agree with starting with restricted access and expanding once you’re sure she’s comfortable with the stairs and space. If she’s not already on a joint supplement, check with your vet and get her started on one of those since there’s lots of stairs

    3. RC Rascal*

      Strategically placed nightlights in key locations. I did this when I moved into a condo with elder cat, who was going blind. Helped him a ton.

  25. Sled dog mama*

    I posted on last week’s Friday open thread about having a possibility serious health issue and being unsure how much to share with coworkers.

    I had my follow up with my doctor this week and it was good/bad news. Nothing jumped out at the doctor as a huge emergency problem (I’m still tachycardic, mildly hypertensive and have an arrhythmia) so she is working me up for the tachycardia. I had an EKG and chest X-ray (looking for cardiac enlargement). The X-ray was normal but the EKG came back questionable for right sided enlargement so I’m being sent for an echocardiogram.
    This is pretty scary for me because I’m 37, I shouldn’t be having heart problems. I had a cousin pass away from dilated cardiomyopathy four years ago (he was 27 at the time) so I’m really nervous about what could be going on.
    I thought my anxiety meds might be causing the cardiac symptoms but now it appears there may be something else happening.
    I’m pretty scared and my husband has started treating me like I’m made of glass which is super frustrating because my doctor said it was ok to keep exercising at the same level I have been.
    Does anyone have experience dealing with this sort of anxiety inducing health issue? What helped you?
    Any advice on how I can convince my husband I’m not going to break?
    Sympathetic thoughts and internet hugs are also appreciated.

    1. fposte*

      Sorry, SLM, that sounds frustrating. It can be especially tough if you’ve already got anxiety and now it’s got a nice big meal to feed on. My personal tactic is to allow some dwelling but to limit it, counterbalancing it with other things to do. I’m not super-active so for me going regularly for walks outside helps break up the rumination. (If you’ve got dogs you may already have this covered :-).)

      And maybe that would help with your husband, too—this may be his way of dealing with his anxiety, and if you gave him a better helpful job, that might be good for both of you. I’d consider being open about this with him and saying you’d like the two of you to find things that make the wait easier instead.

      Good luck! I know lots of people with managed heart irregularities that don’t seem to interfere with their lives.

    2. Jessie*

      A few months ago I was experiencing crazy fatigue. It started after workouts, but then I started becoming tired from everything. One time I got tired from mincing an onion. I just lost my breath and wanted to lie down. I did a ton of tests, then was referred to a cardiologist who found that I had tachycardia. We did an EKG and a heart ultrasound and they came back normal. The doctor said that my anxiety meds plus my anxiety itself which increased due to corona and the quarantine may have been a huge cause. So, I’m off the meds and now I feel better. My heart rate is mostly normal.
      I hope your results come back normal too. It’s not unusual for young people to have heart issues. My cousin started having problems at 37. But he’s totally fine and active. It runs in the family sometimes. But even if your cousin sadly passed away, it doesn’t mean that you will have a serious issue too. Maybe it’s something really minor!
      I’m sure it’s nothing, but even if they find something; with a good doctor and proper management, you are going to be ok. Lots of hugs.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I read some where that most of the population has some type of heart issue- like 90%- it was very high. For a good many people, it turns into no big deal and it’s not life threatening.

        I have had some noise from my own heart since I was 34. Age and grief triggered it. I am 60 now and have had no further problems. I try to eat whole foods, get rest and hydrate. I was having pretty good panic attacks back then also. The attacks went down and I have not had an attack in more than 15 years. But for all this, i must watch what I am eating and not skip water and make sure I get to bed in a timely manner. I am good with it, because I know I can have a life.

    3. Dwight Schrute*

      Yes! Not myself, but my dad. He went from tot healthy to not due to a freak cardiac incident. Basically he had an aneurism that they went in and repaired during a 12 hour surgery. An hour after that surgery he had a heart attack and they had to go back in and do a triple bypass. He then spent a year recovering and having three lung procedures and a defibrillator put in. He’s okay now, and we are very lucky he survived. But the entire ordeal was very anxiety inducing for all of us. Therapy helped me, my mom coped by talking to friends, and my dad coped with my mom. It’s tough and definitely scary, but you’ll get through it. Remind your husband you’re not going to break, and you can be honest that he’s driving you a little nuts. Fingers crossed for a good outcome for you!!

    4. RagingADHD*

      I had a bad health scare about 10 years ago that turned out to be a manageable and not-dangerous issue. But while we were waiting, my husband freaked the f out, and I found myself very resentful of having to comfort him, when I was the one ill/in pain.

      We had a frank talk about the fact that he was being the opposite of helpful and supportive, and that he needed to get his emotional support from somewhere else, like his parents and siblings. He readily adapted, because he really did want to be supportive. And his family are very loving, so that worked out well.

      For myself, I also redirected some of my emotional needs into journaling, supportive friends, and into my faith practices.

      I hope you get good news soon!

    5. Girasol*

      I have an arrhythmia. The general practitioner said it was very serious and put me on serious meds. At next year’s checkup I listened to him explain it to an intern and realized how little he knew about it. So I went to a cardiac electro-physiologist who did some serious tests. Turned out I was just low on magnesium. He’d actually noticed it when he looked over the blood work report that the GP had done the year before. So I quit the prescription meds, started on supplements, and that was that. I hope you find out that your problem isn’t as dire as it appears.

    6. Dancing Otter*

      My stepdad had arrhythmia. He died at 90, not from heart disease. I think congestive heart failure contributed to my mother’s death, but she was 91 and a brittle diabetic with hypertension and chronic bronchitis, so who knows.

      Even my father, who had about every risk factor you can think of and did not make most of the recommended lifestyle changes after his first heart attack — he woke up in an oxygen tent and asked for a cigarette — survived another 15 years with no better treatment than anticoagulants and emergency nitroglycerin tablets. Treatment now is incomparably better.

      So heart disease is not always a death sentence, or at least not a quick one. Good luck to you, for a quick diagnosis and effective treatment.

    7. NoLongerYoung*

      Just sending an internet hug and virtual support. (virtual hug …hug)
      may you have the results / diganosis (which is the path forward) soon.

  26. AnonandAnon*

    I am not a sentimental person, but my husband is. He remembers things that I can’t of our 20 years together, and I feel bad that I don’t share the memories he has of our life. I’m absolutely someone who lives purely in the present, I don’t look at the past, and don’t envision what the future will look like, though he does both. I do try to remember, but he can remember things like what we ate, or details that I just do not store. I am happy that I wake up with him every day, and try not to think too hard about what life will be like when we get much older as he’s going to be 60 and retiring in 22, while I’m 4 years younger and still have a while to get to a decent pension and SS, though I have other investments too that are going well. Probably because of what 2020 has brought, I try not to be too optimistic about the future because it might not look like how we (he) imagines it to be. I do hope, but I can’t let myself go fully into truly imagining it. I guess I don’t want to be let down, and just prepare myself emotionally for that, which includes even my working life, and my personal life. I have no friends, can’t even imagine having them as the ones I’ve had in the past were situational at best, people I went to school or worked with, but once they were out of sight, they were also out of mind. I do wonder how in the world I got to be this way, and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts?

    1. fposte*

      Is this something you feel needs solving, or are you just noting and contemplating a difference? It sounds like you’ve had 20 years of happy marriage, so you’re clearly doing something that works for you.

      My suspicion is that we’re each of us wired or raised with different kinds of response to human engagement, and though it’s not immutable, it’s a strong baseline. What’s interesting is that usually when people talk about your kind of life pattern it’s in terms of introversion; you, however, are talking in terms of risk aversion. Again, if you’re doing fine as you are, I don’t know that needs to change; just be aware that risk aversion usually way overweights active risk (planning for the future could lead to disappointment) and underweights passive risk (not planning for the future could also lead to disappointment). If you’re happy and minimize your passive risk, this may just be a characteristic, not a problem.

    2. Dan*

      I see a couple of different things that I can touch on:

      1. Re: The past. I don’t consider myself overly sentimental, but I do have a very good memory. Unfortunately, there are people in my life, for one reason or another, who don’t. It can be lonely and confusing to be that person with a better memory. It can be frustrating when the other person thinks that because *they* don’t remember the thing, that thing could not have happened (and the person with the memory is the crazy one.) I guess my only point here is that you probably can’t do anything about your own memory, but please have some awareness that a profound lack of memory will have an impact on your husband in ways that are too much to touch upon here.

      2. The future. I can tell you that when I was barely hanging on financially, “the future” ended when the next rent check was due. Beyond that? Waste of time to ponder, because who knows. When I became more financially secure, the future became something worth thinking about and planning for. At the very least, if you have the ability to save for retirement, you do need to consider how much and how long. Even now, I’m contemplating buying a house at some point. However, the time is not now because I don’t have the down payment for it. I need to look into the future to figure out when that time might be.

      1. ronda*

        I have a sister who remembers everything. I look at it as…. I dont remember that but I am sure she is right.
        The things she talks about that I dont remember are not hurtful things and I have no reason to not believe her.
        If she was coming up with stuff that sounded totally off base then we would probably be having the who is crazy discussions.

        I am also not good at keeping friends. But I dont have strong feelings about it being a big problem. I seem to get enough social interaction at the things I am doing. If it was really making me unhappy I would need to do something else, but it really isnt.

    3. Disco Janet*

      My husband is like you, and it does drive me slightly bonkers. Things that were a BIG IMPORTANT THING in our relationship he just cannot remember. He occasionally indulges me with sweet love letters where he goes out of his comfort zone to imagine the future and reminisce about the things from the past that he does remember, and I really appreciate it. Maybe give that a try? Bet your husband would love it!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think if you take any two people who are going through life together you will find that their memories vary. A family member I grew up with tells me things that I have absolutely no recollection of. And I do the same to her.
      I think we remember what we gravitate toward, for example maybe your husband is a foodie or a closet foodie, so he remembers food. I think we remember parts that are important to us such as I can remember a time when I had been away and she was so. very. happy to see me come back. Her happiness made me feel good. For her part, she might have no recollection of what she said when I came back but she might have total recall of wishing I’d come back sooner. We each remembered the part that was important to us.

      It’s my thought that sometimes we are the way we are because we did not chose something different. For example, I am happy being more introverted than extroverted. I can act very outgoing, but then I need to go home for a nap. I feel that I am borderline enough that if I had worked a little harder on extroverting myself when I was younger I probably could have made a jump. (I am NOT talking about anyone else, I am just saying this of myself as an example of how sometimes we do make choices. I was aware I could push myself harder, but I decided not to. I enjoy quiet time too much.)

      I have mentioned my psych teacher before. He is the one who said, “Things such as introversion are only a problem if the person is not happy with things as they are.”

      I do think that with aging we get better self-awareness and we actually hammer out a definition of who we are and who we are not. It could be that you, as part of aging, are starting to assess where you have been in life. This can also go into a discussion of where you want to go in life from here onward. I am not sure how you got to the points you describe here, maybe other things were more important to you or maybe what you have now suits you the best. Hard to know.

    5. AnonandAnon*

      Hi all, appreciate the perspectives provided. You have given me food for thought. My husband never seems to mind when I don’t remember things like he does, it provides him an opportunity to relive it by telling me about it, which is a positive. I think our differences are what make us a good pair as I’m always willing to listen to him reminisce. I am an introvert, and with the pandemic, I was feeling mostly okay about it, but the few times I did get out (socially distanced work meetings), I tried to but failed to be comfortable in the setting. When I was in the office pre-Covid, I tended to focus on my work, and only spoke when spoken to though I am always assisting people in my work. I am not an initiator, and have noticed that more and more in my life, I just don’t have enough interest to further myself in my career, or seek out friendships. It’s only when an eternal force that I cannot control comes along that I get my rear in gear, and wish I knew the secret to motivating myself.

      1. Imtheone*

        For me, when something is stressful, I don’t want to do it – until something more unpleasant comes along. Then the first thing seems okay. When I have trouble doing something, and I am procrastinating, I try to figure out what is making me nervous about it. I can be avoidant because I am nervous about doing whatever it is. Then, if I can do the thing, I often find that it is less unpleasant than I anticipated.

        A relative has a similar problem, but her anxiety about doing things is much greater, and she is much more likely to just be stuck. Addressing the anxiety has been helpful for her.

        Perhaps this perspective is helpful.

  27. Firecat*

    I found a song that made me feel immensely better this week. It’s called “f**k you” by Lilly Allen.

    1. Jaid*

      I hear a clip of that song all the time on compilation videos (instant karma type). Was kinda wondering where it came from! Thanks :-)

    2. CTT*

      Lily Allen is my very favorite, although it’s always interesting to me that she originally wrote that about George W. Bush – I doubt she thought it would have that much staying power…

    3. Dancing Otter*

      “I’m Still Standing”, with a picture of the Statue of Liberty. I can’t remember where I saw it, I’ve been on so many different news sites this past week.
      Sadly, I don’t remember most of the words. (I was a band/orchestra geek, more into classical music.) Something about a true survivor?

    4. Traffic_Spiral*

      Go to youtube and check out some of her other stuff as well – she’s got some fun ones.

  28. Wm*

    I asked about period underwear last week… Now – anybody use a menstrual cup? Experiences?? Could it get stuck?

    1. Alex*

      I use one. Love it. No, it can’t get stuck.

      If you try it out, look online for various insertion techniques vs. just the one or two that come with the instructions. Different techniques work for different people (and different cups). There’s a bit of a learning curve but once you get the hang of it, it is 10000000% more convenient, cheaper, and eco-friendly than disposable products. You never run out, you can leave it in for up to 12 hours without needing to do anything, and it leaks less easily than other methods.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      Okay I had a menstrual cup and liked it for some time. Then I had a horrible experience in a public bathroom and immediately threw it out and will not use one again. They *can* get suctioned in there and you might need a way to break the seal, which happened the first time I used it. I often felt crampier when I used it but liked being able to leave it in for longer periods of time and that it was reusable.

    3. MinotJ*

      I use Softdisc (used to be sold as Instead) and I love it. Unfortunately, it’s sold as a disposable one-use product. But I’m getting close enough to menopause that I only need significant coverage for one day a month anyway. It’s so much like my old diaphragm! The hard plastic or rubber cups looked and felt too painful in my had and I was scared to ever use them. But the soft one that I use is completely malleable and has no parts that stick out.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I used Instead for years and I can tell you it’s safe to use one for the length of your period. I would just empty/wipe/rinse mine out when I went to the bathroom. Never had any problems. I only stopped because I got an iud and don’t have a period anymore.

        1. MinotJ*

          Ha! Yeah, I wash mine with soap/water and then pop it back in for the rest of my period. I just didn’t want anybody coming into the thread and telling me that I was going to die of TSS for violating the rules written on the package.

    4. Generic Name*

      I bought one and I put it in once and it made me feel weird and crampy, so I haven’t tried again. I even sized down (I’m over 40 and I’ve given birth, so I should be a size “medium” but I got a small because I’m a small person and past experience has told me that “adult sized” things are just too big for me), but it was still uncomfortable. Maybe it wasn’t in correctly, but I could feel it when I sat down. I didn’t have trouble getting it out, thank god, but it spilled on the floor in the process. Not a great experience.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I also got crampy while using a cup, which is not normally much of an issue for me. I also puked and felt under the weather the second time I wore it, which I assumed was an unrelated stomach bug, but the nausea went away and I perked right up as soon as I took the cup out. Obviously there was no third time.

        I thought I was going to love the thing, but it was a total no go.

        1. ampersand*

          I’ve been curious to try one but have wondered about potential pain/discomfort. Tampons make me cramp, and anything touching my cervix hurts. Most women seem to really like them though from what I’ve heard. I’m guessing this is a YMMV type thing and maybe this isn’t for me.

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            If you are that sensitive, probably not worth trying. They are much bigger than tampons. I’m guessing mileage does vary- I had never heard of someone with the issues that I had, but they were definitely caused by the cup.

            And $30 to $40 is too much to spend on something that probably isn’t going to work.

          2. Generic Name*

            Yeah, I think that’s what my issue is, the sensitivity. I can’t wear contacts either because I feel the edges on my eyeballs, even the ultra thin permeable ones.

          3. Felis alwayshungryis*

            If it’s touching your cervix, it’s up way too high. Menstrual cups are designed to sit closer to the entrance to the vagina (which is why you often need to trim the stalk). Tampons will sit a lot higher too.

            If tampons really don’t work for you then a cup might not be right, but it may be worth a go. That said, you do need to do a little bit more rummaging around in there to make sure it’s sealed and everything.

    5. CatCat*

      I got a Lena Cup. Insertion and removal definitely take some practice. It forms a seal inside so you have to break that seal to get it out (push against the sides of it to do this). It gave me a mild ache/cramp though. I wrote to the company for advice thinking it might be user error. They said your body may need tp get used to it. The ache/cramp did not go away after another few days so I wrote again. The company then sent me, free of charge, another product they sell called Lena Cup Sensitive that is made of a softer material. That one did the trick and I get no ache/cramp from wearing it. I use it when I am going to do water sports and I’m having my period.

    6. KeinName*

      I have a ladycup. Me and my friends have been using them for about 8 years. If you find the right model and size for you there should not be any leaking (I wear them without panyliners and there are no accidents, though after a whole night with heavy flow it is definitly full and overflows once I get out of bed). I prefer a make which has a very firm material so it expands well once placed inside. I also had a learning curve and had to go for the largest size eventhough I was about 25 and no children, because the smaller ones leaked.
      Pros: can go about 8 hours without a change, no disposable tampons needed for the rest of period years
      Con: I feel it presses on my bladder somewhat, or my uretha, so peeing takes longer. Have only noticed this recently.
      Go for it! And prepare for some trial and error at first.

    7. Calicocat*

      I used menstrual cups for a year but found them wildly uncomfortable and prone to leaks and spills. I have a very heavy flow so that didn’t seem to align with cup usage. It’s also a nightmare to change them in a public washroom.

      However, I discovered menstrual discs which are a game changer! Same premise as a cup, but different shape and they sit against your cervix instead of in the vaginal canal. Soooo much more comfortable. Due to the placement of the disc, there’s no suction. I literally can’t feel mine. It’s the most comfortable product I’ve ever used. Cramps are less, and overall period experience is so much better using them. You can also wear them during sex for mess-free adult activities during your cycle :) you can leave them in for up to 12 hours.

      Because of the placement against cervix it was a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to insert it, but I figured it out within one cycle.

      I use the soft discs (disposable) when I know it will be challenging to change in a public washroom. I use the reusable Intima Ziggy disc when I’m at home or overnight. I’ve heard the Nixit is also great but it wasn’t available in my country until recently.

      Honestly I could never go back to a cup, they are so much less comfortable than a disc.

    8. Randomity*

      I used a keeper for a lot of years then moved on to a mooncup. Haven’t used tampons since 2001. They have a steep learning curve but once I got my head round making sure they were in properly I’ve never had any problems. I don’t empty them except at home and i have only once dropped it into the toilet :-|

    9. Pharmgirl*

      I switched to menstrual cups over 2 years ago and will never go back! I will say, it took me 2 years and 3 cups to find one that works perfectly – there are more factors than I realized to consider. But even with the first two cups that didn’t work great – I tried each for a year, and even with the leaks I was experiencing with those they were immediately so much more comfortable than tampons/pads, that I knew I’d never go back and did a ton of research to find the cup that works for me. I started with Lena sensitive, then the Lily cup, and finally found the hello cup this summer which is perfect – can’t feel it, easy removal, no leaks.

      Things to consider when choosing a cup – cervix height for length of cup, pelvic strength (for firmness of cup), plus different shapes (bell shaped, v shaped, rounder), and stem type too. For me, I started with soft cups since I thought they would be more comfortable, but I actually needed a firmer one to prevent leaks. Also, I found that the bell shaped ones aren’t comfortable for me, and a firmer stem (vs. a longer/thing/stretchy one) helps me with removal too.

      Also, I’ve found that insertion/removal in the shower helped initially to get the hang of things and not worry about spilling.

      Since I missed your post last week – I still use period underwear even though I no longer get leaks because I like the peace of mind, and also the option to not use the cup on lighter days. I’m sure you know about Thinx, which I really like but are pricier. I’ve found two brands on Amazon that were much more affordable and still work great. Bambody is really good on it’s own for overnight or medium/heavy days. There’s also one by Yoyi fashion which is really only meant for super light days or minor leaks (though has held up on a heavy leak day) and you can get a 5 pack for $25.

      Also, I highly recommend putacupinit . com or reddit/menstrual cups – they were both super helpful. Hope this helps!

    10. HBJ*

      Loved it. Will never use anything else ever again. I frequently got leaks with tampons, and the length of time I could go before I leaked varied. There’s no string with a cup. I can go a really long length of time (all day except for the first day.) It’s amazing! I have a diva cup.

    11. Still*

      I’ve been using mine for four years and I love it.

      I only need to change it twice a day and otherwise I forget that I’m even on my period. It’s very convenient to take out in the shower as well, which feels extra clean and convenient.

      I still wear a panty liner and can get a bit of spotting but never had any trouble with leaking. Occasionally I still manage to insert it wrong and have to adjust but it’s never been a problem. It’s never got stuck and it’s easy to take out and clean.

      I know it’s not for everybody but I can’t imagine using anything else ever again.

      Good luck finding something that works for you!

    12. Jules the First*

      I’ve used a Mooncup for about 15 years and honestly would never give it up. It definitely has a learning curve, so persevere through a couple of cycles before you decide it’s irredeemably uncomfortable and give up on it – it takes a while to get the hang of how to insert and remove it and where it needs to sit to suit your body shape. Mine never leaks (swimming, running, sailing, hiking, and horse jumping) and only needs changing morning and evening despite a heavy flow.

    13. Oh My Glob*

      I started using a Diva Cup in college, so 15+ years ago, and have also tried one or two other brands. I have tried to insert discs like Instead a few times, but have never been able to get it inside me or in the right place. (There are various sizes and shapes of menstrual cup, btw, and I’ve got my eye on a short one for a low cervix.) In that 15 years I’ve also gotten an endometrial ablation and have gone from crushingly heavy periods with nightmare cramps to low-flow, usually cramp-free periods. The cup handles both kinds without having to predict what kind of a day it’s going to be (one of my peeves about tampons). I’ve never gotten one stuck, although I did have to squat in the bathtub once and feel for it to pull it out. I rarely have to change in a public restroom, but have never had a problem — dump the cup, wipe it out with toilet paper, re-insert, wipe your hands before you adjust your clothes/touch the stall door, and then wash your hands at the sink. Since you mentioned period underwear, you could probably use them as backup with a cup. I usually wore a pantiliner as backup/stain protection when I bled heavily, but now I don’t need to.

    14. oranges & lemons*

      I think the experience really varies from person to person, so I’d recommend that if you’re really interested in trying it out, don’t give up right away. You may need to try a few different brands/sizes/insertion methods and give it a few months to get used to it, but if it works for you, I think it’s totally worth it. For me, they’re really comfortable, and I love that I only have to change it every 12 hours, and that they create less waste and are much cheaper. My biggest word of caution is to avoid knockoffs–make sure you get one that’s made from medical-grade silicone.

    15. Melody Pond*

      I switched to cups over 5 years ago, and I got a little geeky about them, building up a small collection of different kinds of cups.

      The main challenges I can think of, off the top of my head:
      – I think they often require more skill & practice to use successfully, so a lot of people give up early. (This includes being able to retrieve it, if it travels higher up in the vaginal canal – which is absolutely doable, but can be tricky if you’re not used to dealing with your own anatomy that up close and personal.)
      – They’re a higher up-front cost than tampons.
      – The first one you try might not be the best fit for your body, and you might not want to keep spending the money to find the right one.

      The best benefits, off the top of my head (once you find the right cup and get the technique figured out):
      – No more worrying about whether you have enough supplies on hand to get through your next period. I think for me, this is the biggest thing – just always having supplies on hand and not needing to think about this.
      – It’s safe to put in when you think your period is about to start, but hasn’t started yet. Of course you still need to take it out and carefully rinse every 12 hours, but still way more convenient. Same applies at the end of your period when your flow might be trailing off.
      – Depending on your anatomy, you’re likely to be able to get way more capacity out a cup than you ever would with tampons.
      – Cups can definitely be way more cost-effective in the long-run (though admittedly this depends a bit on how many different cups you wind up trying).
      – Of course they have a lower environmental impact, but they are also a lot more sanitary and safer for your body – reputable cups are typically made with medical grade silicone, as opposed to bleached cotton soaked in toxic dioxins, in a very sensitive part of your body.
      – Way, way less to pack, if you’re traveling and expect to be on your period.
      – No more worrying about smelly trashcans in the bathroom.

      That’s everything I can think of right now. But I’ll just add that – in my experience, once you get cups figured out, it’s not that they’re just a little bit better than tampons & pads. They’re easily a thousand times better and more convenient. Especially if you combine them with period underwear or washable cloth pads and liners.

    16. *

      I’ve used one for 15+ years and won’t be going back to tampons and pads. There’s a bit of learning curve but it’s the most convenient and comfortable menstrual product I’ve ever used. As a plus it’s also economical and environmentally friendly. It can’t get stuck but you do need to release it correctly.

    17. Purt’s Peas*

      Yes, it’s great. There is a learning curve to insertion: you need to create a seal and insert the cup fully, so for a little while it may be uncomfortable until you realize how far the cup needs to be inserted. It can also be a little awkward to handle in public bathrooms, but depending on your flow, you may only need to change it once a day.

      When removing you need to make sure to break the seal first, by squishing the cup a bit as it comes out. Once and only once I failed to do this and my cervix REALLY felt it, lemme tell you.

    18. Roja*

      I’ve used a Diva cup for… seven years now, I think, maybe eight. I absolutely love it and will never go back. Downside is that yes, it is more of a pain to empty in a public restroom (not impossible by any means! just more annoying). For me, that’s hardly ever an issue because most of the time my flow is inconsistent and light, which means a cup is much easier (no more taking out dry tampons, ouch, or going through pads for no reason). If you have a really heavy, long flow and you’re often away from home for long hours, then you might find that more of an issue. But, of course, there’s no problem with combining methods if necessary.

      Mine does occasionally leak, which can be annoying. But most of the time, it allows me to just forget I have my period (cups have more capacity, so you don’t have to empty as often as you would change a tampon/pad), and there’s way less smell, no mess in the trash can, etc. It’s fantastic. I do recommend that if you try out a cup that you take one of those “which cup works for you” quizzes because they’re not all the same length or stiffness (something that really makes a difference), and some of them have things to pull on and some don’t. It does really matter which cup you pick.

      1. Janne*

        I’d like to emphasize what Roja says: there’s so much less smell! You can wear the cup all day and smell less than after a couple hours with a tampon.

        You can’t pull out a cup only with the stem (the thing to pull on) because you also need to break the vacuum. I chose a cup with a stem, but cut the stem off after getting used to using the cup, because I found out that I didn’t use the stem at all. My cup (a Femmecup) has ridges along its side, so you can grab it there, break the suction and pull it out.

        I’d recommend a new user to start using the cup not on the heaviest day of the period and on a day that you’re at home (that’s easier nowadays…) because especially taking it out without spilling can be difficult and it can be quite shocking how much blood is there.

    19. Gamer Girl*

      Short answer: Yes, it can get stuck.

      Long answer: I got the wrong size when I tried one (smaller size instead of the bigger size, as I had had one child, though by c-section and my periods are lighter than most women’s–just 3-4 days with only one day of heavy bleeding). This was, apparently, the wrong choice.

      I went to take it out, and I could not break the vacuum seal. I tried and tried, just made it worse. I finally had a glass of wine, went to bed, woke up in the middle of the night and finally dislodged it.

      I tried a couple more cups, but I have come to the conclusion that there’s something about my anatomy that just doesn’t like them. It’s unfortunate, since I really loved the premise. But, it just doesn’t work for me! Also, I got an IUD, and that clinched it. My OB mentioned that I should “use caution” with cups after I had my IUD inserted and always check that it hadn’t come out–it’s rare, but it can happen.

      tl;dr: Even if you really want it to work, sometimes it just won’t work for you. Also, if you have an IUD, ask your doctor first. It’s rare but possible to dislodge the IUD with the suction effect of the cup, especially if you’ve never been pregnant.

    20. londonedit*

      Really late to the party, but I’ve been using a Mooncup since 2005 and I love it. Very, very rarely (usually if you have a slightly different-from-the-average cervix) people can struggle with removing the cup, but I’ve never had any trouble whatsoever and I find it extremely easy to use and would never consider going back to tampons/pads. I have a fairly light flow and I can just leave my Mooncup in all day and not even think about it. It’s also great because as soon as you get that ‘Hmm, feels like my period might start’ feeling you can just start using the cup and it’s no problem. No sudden dashes to the loo when your period does start! And no worries about making sure you have enough tampons in your bag/desk/etc. I can honestly almost forget I’ve got my period.

  29. Oxford Comma*

    After much back and forth with the family, we’ve decided no Thanksgiving meal. This means I am on my own. There will be some phone calls and some zoom calls.

    Foodwise, I really want this day not to be just me eating in front of the TV out of Tupperware containers. Ideally I still want to do a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but pared down portion wise and with the idea that I will have some leftovers. I think I have a plan for everything but the protein.

    Is a turkey breast a realistic substitute or am I better off doing a roast chicken?

    1. LuckySophia*

      Turkey breast can be wonderful! I spent several Thanksgivings cooking for elderly aunties in their home (very, very small kitchen). For self-preservation I developed a “streamlined” traditional dinner: turkey breast; store-bought “heat & eat” mashed potatoes (spruced up with extra butter & sour cream mixed in while they heated); StoveTop “instant” stuffing mix (spruced up with sautéed mushrooms, celery & onion tossed in) and a simple steamed green veg (broccoli or asparagus). I’m doing solo Thanksgiving this year so am contemplating the same menu for myself…with some yummy leftovers.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      When I cooked meat at home, I loved cooking with turkey. My favorite part is actually the thigh– turkey thighs are huge and delicious and, in my opinion, easy to cook. If you can find those, maybe give them a try?

      Honestly, I would just do whatever makes you feel best. Turkey breast can be great and the leftovers are super versatile.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I’d second a turkey breast or a thigh-and-drumstick – I’ve seen smoked turkey legs at my local supermarkets, and you wouldn’t even have to cook those!

      One Thanksgiving-style dish I’ve wanted to try for some time is a hand-raised turkey-dinner-leftovers meat pie, from Paul Hollywood of the Great British Bake-off: since it’s from the UK it isn’t a “Thanksgiving” meal, but uses similar ingredients, featuring layers of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.

      That said, back in the day when I was working, I loved having a four-day holiday (for non-US folk: Thanksgiving’s on Thursdays, so we’d generally get that Friday off as well, plus the weekend), and would hang out at home making jigsaw puzzles while guzzling potato chips and onion-soup-mix/sour-cream dip while roasting the company-supplied turkey…

    4. Wishing You Well*

      I roast a turkey breast every Thanksgiving because a whole turkey is way too much. I recommend it over chicken on Thanksgiving because it’s more holiday-ish than chicken. Ham is another option.
      I hope you have a good Thanksgiving. I also hope next year’s holidays will be better.

    5. Generic Name*

      What about Cornish game hens? I’m not super in love with the taste of turkey, and I prefer dark meat, so to me a turkey breast is a huge slab of dry meat in a flavor I don’t like. Or you could also do a single serving of something expensive like lobster or lamb, if that’s your thing.

      1. mreasy*

        Came here to suggest Cornish game hens. I think we’re going to do duck legs (just cooking for 2 this year) but I might change my mind & go with the hens.

    6. Corey's wife Bonnie*

      I subscribe to Home Chef, and they have some Thanksgiving things on their menu, check them out! Also, I make an entire turkey for just my husband and me. I make a bone stock the next day, and I freeze some of the meat in the stock, so we can eat it for months and it doesn’t dry out! I also make a turkey soup too with that stock and freeze some of that as well. We’ve never wasted any of it! :-)

    7. Clisby*

      I would pick a roast chicken over a turkey breast because I don’t particularly like white meat. If you don’t mind having just white meat, a turkey breast should be fine.

    8. Pink Dahlia*

      Breast is great, and if you do a very slow bake with good marinades, you can slice it very thin for homemade lunch meat, which is *chef’s kiss*

    9. RagingADHD*

      You can get smaller, boneless turkey breasts. They will make leftovers, but that’s part of Thanksgiving, right?

      The upside of the boneless breast is that you can do cool things with the stuffing. I did one once that had hazelnuts and sundried tomatoes rolled up inside. Delish!

    10. Old and Don’t Care*

      There’s an article in the New York Times Food section on Thanksgiving dinner first two that suggests turkey thighs. (I would note that the author is a dark meat advocate anyway.)

    11. All the cats 4 me*

      Artistic AAM readers – I have no talent for drawing or painting, but I would just love to be able to sketch or paint or something creative. Since in person classes aren’t possible, is there anything online (free or cheap-ish) that would guide me into enjoying using all the lovely pencils, acrylics and watercolours etc that I drool over, but have no idea how to use to make something pleasant to look at?

      Thanks for any help!

      1. All the cats 4 me*

        Oops, that was meant to be a stand alone comment, sorry! Please don’t reply here, I will repost as a separate thread. Thanks.

    12. Achoo*

      I do turkey breast roast in the crockpot. It comes with a gravy packet, so all you have to do is defrost and then cook on Low for 6-8 hours. Moist turkey, not an overwhelming amount, easy Peary.

    13. RC Rascal*

      Consider Cornish Game Hen. They are like personal turkeys & not hard to cook. Taste for like a fuller flavored chicken.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      It’s fine if you want that or chicken. I once did a Cornish game hen when I had a solitary Thanksgiving.

  30. Bagpuss*

    Given what you say about fussiness etc maybe something like flowers and expensive chocolates which shows you have been thoughtful, and if she doesn’t appreciate that it is down to her, not you.
    Of for the bragging rights, maybe a mini hamper from Fortnums or Harrods?

  31. Violaine*

    I highly, highly recommend Bad Blood. Laboratory medicine is my field, I am deeply passionate about it, and I was livid that Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos was going to “shake it up”. I listened to the audiobook version on a road trip spring of last year and it had me yelling in the car. You don’t falsify QC. You don’t just keep running it over and over again until it passes. You don’t dilute your samples like that. You don’t lie and say you’ve created new technology then run patient samples on other manufacturers’ instruments, calling it your own special technology. And so on. I had a friend that interviewed with them when they were still a startup, and I’m genuinely glad she didn’t relocate her whole family to California to work for them. What a hot mess.

    Anyway, Billion Dollar Loser is going to the top of my Kindle Wishlist, for when I finish the book I’m currently reading. Thanks for the great recommendations, Alison!

    1. More Coffee Please*

      I was riveted by Bad Blood, too. I was in college studying biomedical engineering around the time Theranos was up and coming. I couldn’t put the book down once I started reading. Was literally walking down streets just staring at the Kindle app on my phone. I’m definitely going to check out Billion Dollar Loser!

    2. Generic Name*

      Oooh, I’ll put this on hold at the library right now. Thanks for the review! I used to follow online parents of gifted kids forums, and I remember glowing pieces about her, since she was seen as a wunderkind and a gifted child “success story”, so it’s a bit weird to me to see her rapid fall from grace. Nobody on those forums is talking about her now, and I kind of wish they would. I’ve read reviews of the book and movie, and I feel like she was enabled by the entitlement that can come from growing up in a wealthy and connected family.

    3. mreasy*

      That book was just so incredible and so damning. Also highly recommend! I can’t imagine how infuriating a lab medicine professional must have found that whole situation.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I loved Bad Blood too. There was a podcast called The Dropout about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos that I heartily recommend. I bought Billion Dollar Loser after reading a NYT review and it does not disappoint! Another one I love is Too Big to Fail, which is about the 2008 banking crisis. I actually stayed up all night reading it. I never thought that a book that detailed so many meetings and phone calls could be so riveting!

    5. JKP*

      HBO has a documentary The Inventor that’s a good companion piece to Bad Blood. After reading the book, I enjoyed seeing the interviews with all the people from the book and putting names to faces. Especially to see video clips of Holmes and her weird fake voice. Also, I think the documentary had added bits about what happened to some of the people from the book where I wondered how things turned out for them.

    6. Piano Girl*

      Can I recommend “Thicker than Water” by Tyler Schultz? I listened to it on Audible, and was from one of the main informants in Bad Blood.

    7. Job Carousel*

      That’s a fantastic book! Lab medicine is my field too, and I gobbled up Bad Blood the week it came out, after having followed the Theranos saga for several years by that point.

      I have several colleagues that either met Holmes when she was running Theranos, or interviewed for jobs there (with a healthy dose of skepticism even pre-Carreyrou’s first publication). I think from an outsider’s perspective the clinical laboratory is often a giant black box, and the amount of work that goes into producing accurate results and the many layers of regulation laboratories must meet tends to be heavily glossed over. I think this is a big reason why Theranos was able to go so far (and a big reason why local governments were investing so heavily in crock COVID-19 diagnostic testing by startups that didn’t know what they’re doing).

      1. TL -*

        Well and Holmes often also went right to the top for funding and support and most of the people were unwilling to listen to the lower-level experts saying no.

        The chapter about the military personnel who was called to the general’s office and how scary it was for him to say, “no their data isn’t good” and the general listening to him, stands in sharp contrast to all the CEOs/high level investors who overrode all their experts’ advice. Holmes was really good at targeting high-level people and talking then into investing; over and over you see the lower-level experts telling their bosses Theranos was bull and over and over they were ignored.

        For context, I was working in biomedical research one year out of college when Theranos hit it big and I remember rolling my eyes and saying it was clearly a bullcrap scam. It didn’t take that much knowledge to see what they were proposing was impossible.

        1. Job Carousel*

          Yeah — that almost happened at the big healthcare system where I did some of my training. Our ex-CEO was an MD but not a pathologist/clinical lab director, and they were very taken in by Theranos’ pitch for outsourcing or otherwise reducing cost of lab testing, so they arranged a meeting at Theranos HQ with a lot of high level lab folks (who all had to sign NDAs and couldn’t talk what happened until after Theranos dissolved). Thankfully no partnership ever formed, and ironically Theranos ended up sending out some of its testing to our clinical lab when they were having trouble getting accurate results.

    8. ..Kat..*

      I just read Priceless by Robert K Wittman. About a real life FBI agent who recovers stolen art. Started a little slow, but very good.

  32. Kitchen Fairy*

    Where do you fall on gas or electric oven/stove? I’ve rented for five years in a house with a gas stove and I still have issues with it burning or cooking things unevenly. Yesterday I baked a cake that was getting way too toasty on the outside but was still mushy and undercooked on the inside. Yet my friends and family see it as blasphemy when I say I prefer electric; they all would kill for gas. Am I the only one who would prefer electric?

    1. Alex*

      I don’t think your cake issues are a function of gas/electric–it could be that your oven’s thermostat is off, and that is just really about the oven itself not gas/electric. A working gas oven wouldn’t unevenly bake your cake.

      IME, gas vs. electric doesn’t matter much when it comes to ovens. The stove burner, yes, gas is WAY better for cooking, in my opinion. But an oven is only as good as its accuracy, which doesn’t have to do with its fuel source.

      1. Buni*

        +1000 Gas top & electric oven is the way to go, where pos. I hate waiting around for electric hobs to warm up / cool down, but gas ovens can be inaccurate and hard to calibrate. If mixed isn’t the choice I’ll take double-gas over electric hobs any day.

        1. Oldbiddy*

          Gas ovens will dry out your food more – as the gas burns the carbon dioxide is released and has to vent, so it carries out the moisture in the oven. I haven”t found it was a huge difference except for crusty breads, which rely on a moist environment.

    2. legalchef*

      I’d prefer a gas stove but electric oven. I like that small adjustments in gas stoves are immediate, whereas on electric you have to wait for the burner to cook enough to be useful.

      I’d recommend an oven thermometer to check the temp, if you are having baking issues.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This is where I fall. A gas range was the only “really really want” I had to sacrifice when buying my house, we have electric everything and I suspect that running a gas line is more expensive than I’m willing to muck with.

        1. legalchef*

          Same here! It would cost mid-5 figures to bring gas to the house. We have an induction stove, which I’m getting used to after nearly 20 years with gas stoves.

      2. LDF*

        Yup, my oven takes longer to heat up than it claims so I rely on my oven thermometer to know when cakes can go in. You can usually also adjust the controls pretty easily if you find out that its eventual running temp is off, just to get them to match so you don’t have to adjust by 5 manually or whatever. But oven temp cycle, so I would only do that too if you can take the time to calibrate it right.

    3. fposte*

      I’d use a freestanding oven thermometer in there. I love gas but I’d wreck everything if I didn’t know my oven runs about 50 degrees hotter than the setting.

    4. BRR*

      I like gas burners but electric ovens are superior. Newer Gas ovens are better but they can still vary a lot. As others have said, an oven thermometer might be helpful. I found my oven is pretty accurate but will overshoot the temperature while preheating by 75 degrees so I shouldn’t put anything in right away.

    5. Torrance*

      For me it’s electric or bust but that’s only because I have pretty bad anxiety and owning a gas unit would drive me to distraction on a regular basis. I worry about enough things, I didn’t want to add CO2 to the list. To be fair, aside from the occasional meatloaf, I primarily use my oven for pizza so my opinion on the culinary merits of gas vs electric is worthless. :D

    6. allathian*

      Use a freestanding oven thermometer, your thermostat may be off.

      I prefer electric, but we do have an induction stove. It’s as fast and convenient as gas, because it doesn’t store any heat. You can stop milk boiling over just by lowering the heat. That said, if you have a pacemaker, an induction stove is probably not an option, and it does require special cookware.

      We do have a gas barbecue grill that I love, but my husband refuses to contemplate the idea of cooking with gas indoors. I’ve cooked with gas when I was an intern in Spain, no problems there, although I admit that I’m not a very ambitious cook, so I never used the oven.

      1. Zahra*

        It doesn’t require “special” cookware! Any pot that you can stick a regular fridge magnet to (at the bottom of the pot) will do the job. If you have all aluminum, you’ll have to change your pots and pans, but if you’re already using stainless steel, chances are you’ll only need to change your non-stick pans.

    7. another scientist*

      People have a thing where they weirdly pin their identity to certain likes or dislikes. Gas stove is the only acceptable preference, just like medium rare steak or stick shift (in Europe). It’s a little silly.
      I’ve had either stove, each takes some getting used to. Baking in a gas stove is often it’s own challenge, because in many models, the heat comes exclusively from the bottom. It’s easy to get a burned bottom and difficult to get a browned top. One trick is to insert additional baking sheets while you bake. Put it on the step below your cake to slow down the browning of the bottom and give the rest more time to cook. Or put a baking sheet on the level above to reflect some heat and get stuff to brown on top (or use the broiler afterwards). Thanks for teaching me this, mom!

      1. Mimosa Jones*

        Thanks for the tip! Now I know why today’s brownies were extra done on the bottom and how to fix it. Clearly, I need to bake more brownies to test this.

    8. Generic Name*

      I prefer gas because once you turn the burner off, it’s off, and you don’t have to wait a long time for it to cool down. I do like how easy smooth top electric stoves are to clean, though. It sounds like your oven thermostat is too hot, though.

    9. D3*

      Grew up with electric. Had electric for the first 20 years of my adult life, too. Then we bought a house with gas. HATED it. Still kinda do, but it’s gotten better since I bought different, heavier pans that do a better job distributing the heat. Still have problems with handles getting really hot and burning, though.
      I can’t say I have a love for electric, or for gas, but there’s definitely a difference!

    10. Not A Manager*

      I prefer gas stovetop, electric oven.

      If things are burning or cooking unevenly on the stovetop, your pans are probably too thin. Invest in one or two high-quality, heavy-bottomed pans and see if that helps. You can find really nice ones at resale shops. Even if they are a bit dinged up, that won’t generally affect their performance.

    11. Pink Dahlia*

      Gas range, all the way. I have over 20 years of experience with both, and electric does not allow me the precision to do the “detail work” that’s required for fussy recipes, like candy and roux.

      For ovens, I prefer convection, but have no strong opinion otherwise.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        I had a nice gas convection oven at the last house, and it was the best gas I’ve had (in a long life of gas). My mom has an electric one that gives mixed results -and again it’s about the calibration. (It’s off).

    12. RagingADHD*

      I grew up & learned to cook on electric, so when I got gas it was an adjustment. But once I got the hang of it, I vastly prefer it.

      I feel like I have much finer control of the heat, because the change is instant – whereas there’s always a lag time with electric between changing the dial and waiting for the effect. I can cook much more intuitively on gas, when things look/feel right, rather than by time.

      We have electric now, and we’re saving to upgrade to gas. Can’t wait!

    13. Mimosa Jones*

      I prefer electric. I am not the type of cook to get everything ready before starting so the slowness of electric is a plus for me. Electric baking is also dryer. Gas responds faster but if something was getting too hot I would just lift the pan for a few seconds.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Oh they make something other than electric? :)

      I grew up with a gas stove. It was my job as a four year old to light the damn thing. I will never have a gas stove. Ever. I do understand that people who really enjoy cooking love their gas stoves. I also understand that the stoves are better now. Any interest I might have had is totally gone.

      I had a dog jump up and pull a pan of boiling veggies off a stove. TG, that wasn’t gas. wow. (He was okay, because I pushed him away from the waterfall that happened next. Once everything stopped moving, I let him see how hot it was. He never pulled another pot off of the stove.)

      1. Christmas Carol*

        I’ve been looking for one of these that doesn’t cost north of 4 figures. Anybody got any ideas?

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I must admit I’d like a gas stove top for using the wok I have had in storage for 20 years… I can’t even use it on my grill burner because it doesn’t have a safe balance.
      But I would have to run a gas line under my daughter’s bedroom to get it. And I figure if that makes me uncomfortable, why would I be comfortable having it anywhere in the house at all?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Also, a pet story from a friend: when she first moved into an apartment with gas, her curious cat singed off his whiskers. Cat was fine, and whiskers grow back, but owner and cat were both terrified for a while.

    16. Sleepless*

      I have electric both, with a smooth top stove. We got new appliances when my kids were very young and I didn’t want open flames. I’ve used gas stoves in several vacation rentals and I really don’t think they’re superior, plus honestly I still kind of flinch when I start it. My smooth top is really easy to clean too. The only issue I’ve had is that they are, in fact, breakable, and when you set a cast iron skillet down a BIT too hard when your kids have gotten on your LAST NERVE, that is a $350 part that takes its time getting shipped. :-(

  33. Puppy!*

    Just checking in. The dog is up at 3:00 am. and won’t settle down after I take her to pee. Any tricks to getting her to “self sooth” when I put her in her pen.
    I do take her out when she whines/cries and she always pees so she is not crying wolf.
    But I was hoping there is a trick to getting her to settle after the middle of the night emptying run.
    Tried stuffed kongs, bully sticks, and a bear with a heartbeat.

    1. Adara*

      Try putting a T shirt that you’ve worn in there with her. Dogs like to sleep with their pack, so a T shirt with your scent may make her feel better. My dogs sleep in the bed with me and go right back to sleep after a middle of the night pee.

    2. sswj*

      How old is she? I can’t remember.

      Basically you have to just make it a routine that the middle of the night outing is business only, no fun. It takes a seriously hard heart for a bit, but it does work. With mine we go out, do what needs to be done, praise, go back in and get a cookie in her crate/pen. All of this is very subdued and quiet, few lights, no energy from me. When she goes back to her bed and lights go out I make not one other noise directed at her until I get up for real in the morning.

      The problem is, if you come back once the crying starts to give some other toy you are rewarding the crying. And when you hold out longer and longer before you relent you are teaching her to be dedicated about the crying – just keep it up and eventually the human will come back! So get earplugs and prepare for no sleep, and just endure for a bit. It will get worse just before it gets much, much better (extinction burst), and then it will become habit to go back to bed quietly.

      Good luck!

    3. university minion*

      Increase her exercise before bed – make your walk a bit longer, a few more reps with her ball, whatever you do.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Mom heats a pillow thingy in the microwave when it’s time for her dog to go to bed. Mom puts it in the crate with the dog and it works well. You might try this after the 3 a.m. potty break.
      Best of Luck!

    5. Generic Name*

      This might be an unpopular answer, but here goes: if you know the puppy isn’t hungry, thirsty, or needs to pee, it’s okay to let the dog whine and whimper a bit. It needs to learn that whimpering in the middle of the night won’t get what it wants (snuggle time or play time). When our dog was a puppy, we would tell her “go to sleep” when she’d whine in the middle of the night (after we took her out to pee), and she’d normally settle after a few minutes. Now she knows that she sleeps when the humans sleep. If you get up with the pup and give them attention when they whine, you’re rewarding the behavior and teaching them that whining gets them what they want. While our dog is definitely a cherished member of our family, we still treat her like a dog (not allowed on the furniture, no scraps from the table, her job is to do what humans ask, etc)

      1. Puppy!*

        I think the big issue is we are waiting on back order for a larger crate. She has outgrown hers. She is going on 13 weeks. She sleeps on a mat in a pen in our bedroom. Not ready to be free roaming yet or on the bed. (old dog is on the bed)
        Sometime I lie on the floor with my hand up against the pen.

        I think you are all right. If she is empty just ignore. I let you know how that goes next week. (or tomorrow)
        A friend came for respite play and she napped through the 2 hours from 11 to 1. As did I.

        1. Anono-me*

          Have you checked Craigslist for a crate?

          I’m finding the weirdest things on backorder for forever

          1. Puppy!*

            yes, I did. none her size. Broke down and ordered it on Amazon yesterday. I was trying to get it from a local brick and mortar.

    6. Dog and cat fosterer*

      I would agree with the all business at 3am and ignoring the whines, but she’s also quite young and I know trainers who put the puppy’s crate on the bed or next to their bed with a hand on it, and the pup is reassured by their presence and falls asleep quickly. After a few weeks the crate is on the floor a few feet away and slowly moves out of the room. The 3am is very normal, the key is to find a way to get them settled quickly. Having them on the bed crated is totally fine if they quiet quickly!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      It’s really helpful to name activities and use the same names repeatedly.*

      “Bed time” can be used when turning in and can be reused after a 3 am outing. They do catch on after a bit. So what I would do is gently say, “no, no. Bedtime” when they gestured “play” or started crying.

      Try to keep your voice flat and UNinteresting. Pups really cue in on voices. If you sound the least bit happy, they may start bouncing. Going the other way, if you are tense/worried they can start crying.

      You say the pup is sleeping in your room. I noticed with the more animals we had, the warmer that room got at night. So there was me and my husband, two cats and a dog. It got really warm, we’d have to open a window or turn on a fan unless it was the dead of winter. Going the opposite way, by some fluke there could be a nasty cold draft right near the pup. You may want to check his exact sleeping area to see if there is a problem with temps.

      Oddly one pup liked a cardboard box with an old towel in it. Once I set that up, no more tears. I put the box on it’s side so the pup could easily walk in and out of it. That pup, after I brought him in, I’d hold him in my lap for 2-3 minutes and rub his belly, chest or his neck until he got groggy. Once he was groggy, I lowered him into his cardboard box. Yours might be too big for this. But maybe you’d find that a moment rubbing him on comforting spots might help him transition back to sleeping.

      *Back to naming activities. If you name activities through out the day, it seems to bring some sense of order for them. So there’s going “out”, then “breakfast”. Random treats can be called “treats”. I also use the phrase “nap time”.
      There also the words, walk and play, two different activities, of course. At night there are the activities of “dinner”and “bed time”. They do catch on and what is cool about this is the dog knows what the group of you will be doing next. Over time he learns what to expect and what behaviors are expected.

      I have tried to teach my dogs to “visit” where they would politely sit beside a house guest. I lack the self-discipline to keep following up until they caught on. My current dog does know “time to say good bye”. He walks the guest to the door and shakes hands in good bye. That came about because he would not let company leave. He would not settle down so they could don their coats and get over to the door. So I started saying, “no, no, buddy, time to say good bye.” And he caught on.
      I am thinking that if you answer his cries with, “no, no, buddy, bedtime” that might work after a couple nights.

      1. Puppy!*

        This is all good advice. My first dog (Maggie the perfect) I would say “go to bed” and she would run into her crate. Time for a bath, and she would run to the bathroom and jump into bed.
        She is near a vent- I will see if that is something.
        It HAS been only two weeks and I am just getting to know her ‘signals”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I had my Maggie. Only it was a male dog. That was the dog of my life. Losing him wasn’t enough to cure me on dogs. I still want dogs. But my view is different now. Each one of them has something different to show me or share with me. I do run comparisons and it’s not fair, just like comparing one kid to another is not fair. I had to make myself stop comparing.

          Overall it sounds like this dog is doing great. I don’t think dogs settle down until they are about 18 months old or so. However, this intensity here will lessen in those 18 months. You do have a hidden advantage, our pets tend to teach each other things. You can let your older dog teach the younger dog. That will help you in surprising ways.

    8. Puppy!*

      Success! I will try not to get too cocky.
      Had more exercise yeterday- Two 45 minute walks in the morning, 1/2 hour around 12:00, hour at 6:00 plus intermittently playing ball in the yard.
      Moved “last call” to 11:30 pm- (fell asleep at 9:00 when she did in her pen. Put a worn t-shirt in with her. there was just a little fussing and I just kept saying go to bed. )
      Set alarm for 11:30 pm and woke her, took her out. right back to sleep.
      She woke up at 4:00 am.
      Took her right out. she peed and pooed. picked her up and put her right back to bed.
      SHE went right to sleep. took me a little more than a 1/2 hour.
      Up at 6:00. short walk. pee.
      Had her breakfast. Then we went on an hour walk.
      Played until 8:39 am
      She kept busy with a Kong. while I Cooked breakfast and soy eggs for the week.
      She was mouthy and overtired- while I ate breakfast. then I remembered someone said a box.
      I gave her a cardboard box to harass.
      Out for a short walk.
      She is napping write now while I go to my spirituality group by zoom.
      THANK YOU. Taking it one step at a time.
      Don’t worry, I am not comparing this dog to any other. She is her own being.

  34. Anon Lawyer*

    Weekend breakfast help! I have a baby (almost toddler) who has a mild egg allergy – she can eat eggs baked into things but not plain. Things with baked eggs should have less then two eggs per batch (so not quiche or frittata).

    So I need savory breakfasts with some protein that don’t take much prep in the morning and also aren’t egg-y. The dream would be something pre-prepped that I could pre-make then pop in the oven in the morning so it came out hot and fresh. I was thinking maybe some kind of puff pastry pockets might be good?

    1. Jaid*

      I’m not sure what you mean by two eggs per batch, so I’m gonna recommend Kugel (package of wide egg noodles and six eggs, etc) and Hash Brown Egg Bake (1 package (30 ounces) frozen cubed hash brown potatoes, thawed 1 pound bacon strips, cooked and crumbled 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, 8 large eggs, 2 cups whole milk, Paprika)

      Or you can experiment with making a combo of the two eggs, a package of bacon, shredded potatos, cheese, veggies and plopping it into premade pastry pockets to bake.

      I hope this helps. Best wishes to the baby! :-)

      1. Anon Lawyer*

        Thanks. It means basically a baked good with two eggs in the “recipe”. Obviously that’s not scientific but is the guideline they give to make sure it’s not too “eggy.”

        1. Jaid*

          I saw down below that you’re looking at traditional breakfasts, so I’m not gonna recommend Chinese scallion pancake or congee or a savory porridge. But on Taste of Home, I just saw a recipe for Bacon Breakfast Cookies that looks interesting (1 egg, some bacon, cornflakes!, etc).

          1. Anon Lawyer*

            Actually congee totally qualifies for me and I make it in the Instant Pot. I am a little reluctant to give it to the baby too often because of what folks say about arsenic in rice but she does like it so we do it sometimes. The recipes I have for scallion pancakes involve a lot of work though – is there a simple way to do it?

            Breakfast cookies sound intriguing. I’ll check it out.

            1. Jaid*

              Woks of Life has an easy recipe where you use premade dumpling wrappers. Let the wrappers sit on the counter a bit to warm up. Brush one wrapper with oil, sprinkle salt and scallion bits on it. Cover and repeat 4 -7 times. Use a rolling pin to squish it as flat as you want.

              I make a breakfast congee using a 12 grain rice and bean mix, coconut milk instead of water, tumeric, dates, coconut flakes, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamon. It’s sweet, but you can make it savory, I think.

            2. Fellow Traveller*

              I sometimes make a version of congee, but with oatmeal. My family is from Taiwan and we often put sweet potatoe/ yams in it, so I just make really runny oatmeal, cooked with sweet potatoe, top it with ginger, scallions, and a drizzle of sesame oil. I usually add a soft boiled egg on top, but you don’t have to do that. It’s also a good way to use up leftover oatmeal.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              I love basmati rice and it looks like that has the least amount of arsenic. I am not a big fan of rice but basmati rice is pretty good.

    2. comityoferrors*

      There are lots of vegan “egg” replacements available in grocery stores, depending on where you live. You might try one of those?

      I personally love the JUST Eggs scrambled eggs. It’s a liquid so all you have to do is heat up a skillet and pour in some “eggs”, then scramble as usual. Takes 5 minutes max. I know there’s some other ‘textures’ available too, for omelets and such.

      1. Anon Lawyer*

        Oh you know, I heard a commercial for Just Egg on a podcast but my normal store didn’t have it. I’ll try the fancy store, thanks!

    3. legalchef*

      My son has the same issue (or at least we think he still does. We haven’t tested straight eggs in a while, because of the barfing).

      Does it need to be savory? My son really likes kodiak cakes pancake mix and frozen waffles. The pancakes can be made in bulk and frozen, to be popped in the toaster oven or microwave (and I think they also make muffin mix). The waffles are good but pretty pricey unfortunately.

      What about looking into muffins with lentils baked inside? I know I’ve seen some recipes for that.

      1. Anon Lawyer*

        Thanks. She’d love the sweet stuff but I personally need savory. :-). But it’s probably worth checkout out the kodiak stuff so she has the option. The allergist said regular frozen waffles are a no go.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Protein for breakfast could be meat, beans or dairy, etc. With some creativity, I’ll bet you can come up with something that can be pre-prepped for an easy breakfast. Ah, you’re making me hungry!

        1. Not A Manager*

          I’m not sure what a more classic breakfast is, or why you and your child need to eat the same thing. What kinds of things do you generally make for yourself for a classic breakfast? Can you make those things and omit the eggs for your child’s portion? Like if you prep breakfast burritos in your freezer, can you make some with scrambled eggs in them, and some with all the same fillings but no eggs?

          1. Anon Lawyer*

            I can but she generally wants whatever I’m eating and is too little to eat a full portion of something like a breakfast burrito. So it’s easier to make one thing and share it. (I will admit that I’m a little surprised “savory breakfast without eggs” got this much pushback as a question.)

            1. Anon Lawyer*

              (And I generally eat something with eggs hence the problem! That’s what I make for myself on weekday mornings when she’s at childcare and I’m working from home.)

            2. Not A Manager*

              I didn’t mean to push back. I like a savory breakfast, too. I just wasn’t clear that you want to literally share your breakfast with her, which makes sense of course.

              You said no commercial frozen waffles, but homemade waffles and pancakes are super easy to make and freeze beautifully. A one-egg recipe usually makes four adult servings. Also, look at vegan recipes that replace egg with bean water (yes, from canned beans; chickpea water is the best). It works amazingly well as an egg-white substitute, and you can still use whatever dairy you like instead of making the recipe truly vegan.

              Crepes are surprisingly easy to make in a non-stick skillet and don’t need a special crepe pan. They freeze well (separate them with parchment or wax paper). You can literally fill them with any kind of leftover meat, veggies and cheese and fold them over – it’s tastier if there’s a sauce or gravy for it.

              Of course you can do a breakfast taco or burrito without any eggs.

              Any casserole-type dish should work, so long as it only uses eggs as the binder and not as a main ingredient. I’d take a look at those breakfast casseroles that are based on tater tots or frozen hash browns, and then you add ham or bacon, cheese, diced vegetables, etc. A lot of those call for a bunch of eggs because that’s part of the recipe, but you could cut back on the eggs and just use them to glue the other stuff together.

              A friend makes a skillet oven breakfast like this: Bacon in oven-proof skillet in a hot oven for 30 minutes. Add sliced sweet potatoes and other veggies (onions, Brussels sprouts, peppers, etc.) – whatever you like, adding longer cooking ones first. Once everything is cooked through, crack some eggs on top in little wells and bake until they are cooked. You could make this minus the egg, or just put on an egg for yourself if your daughter is okay with that.

          2. HBJ*

            For me, my children generally eat the same thing I do because it’s a pain to make separate meals – more time, more dishes, etc.

    5. Catherine*

      I know it’s not traditionally breakfasty but I love having italian wedding or minestrone soup (with a sausage chopped up in it) for breakfast.

    6. Buni*

      Pre-prep lots of individual tupperware with e.g. diced peppers, diced ham/sausage, shredded cheese, scallions, whatever the heck. In the morning grab a couple of those ginourmous flat mushrooms, de-stalk & fill with whatever you fancy from the boxes (cheese & scallion one morning, pepper / sausage / cheese the next, mix it up). They can be pan-fried or stuck in the oven.

      I used to do this for morning omelettes, which obvs wouldn’t work for you, but I loved the pick ‘n’ mix element.

    7. Redhairrunner*

      I like to do chickpea omelettes for breakfast. I have a big jar of premixed dry ingredients that I scoop out and add water to as needed. They aren’t exactly like eggs but they make a convenient savory breakfast in just minutes. I usually add sautéed scallions or some parsley for brightness but you can also add things like bacon or cheese.

      1. Anon Lawyer*

        Thanks! Do you use some chickpea flour or just the chickpea liquid? I had heard that could be an egg substitute but hadn’t tried it yet. And do you used canned chickpea liquid or cook a pot yourself to save the liquid? (I am assuming the latter yields a lot more of it . . . )

        1. Redhairrunner*

          The recipe I use uses chickpea flour, I’ll link it below. It’s not exactly like eggs, but it’s pretty close. I have even used it in place of eggs for Korean grandma’s toast (super delicious breakfast sandwich).

      2. Not A Manager*

        There are great recipes online for falafel waffles. I’ve made them and they are excellent. They also freeze well.

    8. Jules the First*

      What about kedgeree? (Mildly curried rice with poached fish)
      Or breakfast quesadillas? (Make with burrito fixings, but easier to little-kid portion)
      I do sesame seed and fruit muffins that have only one egg but are packed with protein thanks to the 1/3 cup sesame seeds.
      Or breakfast hash? (Sausage meat out of the casing, fried with your choice of veggies; optional add leftover boiled potatoes or top with cheese)
      Baked beans on toast?
      Or breakfast pizza? (You could put an egg on your piece but just give her one that only has bacon and veg)

    9. RagingADHD*

      Oatmeal made with milk and topped with peanut butter has a decent amount of protein, and is quick (even quicker if you soak overnight). I put unsweetened applesauce in mine, no sugar.

      We also like grits (aka polenta) with lots of cheese melted in.

    10. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      When you need REALLY quick and easy, a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich is yummy and high protein. You could probably toast them for something extra fancy. I eat them every day, since I am lazy in the mornings, but everything is shelf stable so it’s a good backup option.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Maybe a variant on a pasty (PASS-ty, not PAY-stee ;) ) – they’re hand pies, kinda like empanadas. Ham and cheese, mashed potato/hash browns with meat of choice, that kind of thing?

    12. Fellow Traveller*

      I know it’s cliched, but I love avocado toast. I know it’s not super protein heavy, but you can top it with cheese.
      On the more decadent side, my friend always makes cheesy potato casserole for breakfast and it is so tasty. Not really healthy, though, so I only make it on special occasions. It involves making a cheese sauce with 1/2 and 1/2, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onion, and velveeta. Mix it with frozen hash browns and bake for about 45 min. You can absolutely make it ahead of time.
      Tofu scrambles are also tasty. My friend makes his with tumeric and tahini and sauteed vegetables and it is so good.
      Or I make a potatoe hash with potatoes, peppers, onions and black beans or sausage, topped with avocado. Eat over oatmeal of in a tortilla wrap.
      (I also posted above about using oatmeal to make a savory congee. Savory oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts. Sometimes I just top it with whatever leftovers I have in the fridge)
      I also like your pastry idea – what about ham and cheese filling? (Or a ham and cheese croissant?) – riffing on that – maybe you can make some empanadas? We keep empanadas in the freezer for a quick lunch, but I’m sure you can do the same with more breakfast leaning fillings. The dough we make is very similar to pie dough.

    13. Paperwhite*

      For awhile we were feeding one of the kids chicken soup with thin noodles (we used egg noodles but you could break up angel hair or use pastina instead) for breakfast (at her request). Bring broth to the boil (in a large pot so it doesn’t matter if it boils up), add noodles, cook noodles through, serve. If you have leftover chicken, a quick dice and stir it in for even more protein. This will of course depend on how good your daughter is with eating soupy things off a spoon, etc.

    14. Pharmgirl*

      What about savory waffles? I’ve made Chrissy Teigen’s Parmesan waffles which were pretty good and I’m sure there’s tons of similar recipes online. The waffle itself should be fine for your baby, and then you could top your portion with an egg for yourself. You can customize with veggies/breakfast meat/cheeses

    15. Sleepless*

      Do you think she could acquire a taste for Greek yogurt? I can’t eat carbs for breakfast and don’t really have time to prep, and on work days Greek yogurt with trail mix is my go-to. She might not be ready for nuts and raisins, but maybe she could do fresh fruit.

    16. 00ff00Claire*

      – Biscuit or bagel sandwiches. You can put things other than eggs inside to make it a savory breakfast.
      – Toast with peanut butter or mashed chickpeas. I season the chickpeas with garam masala and cook and mash them similar to refried beans and it is pretty good spread on toast!
      – Oatmeal with only peanut butter, no sweeteners. It’s good this way as a baked oatmeal which can be made ahead and reheated.
      – Toast w/ melted cheese or cream cheese.
      – Potato hash – lots of recipes online for this. Dice potatoes and sauté or pan fry them w/ onions, bell pepper, and other veggies or meats or cheese. You can cook an egg and add the egg to your portion but serve your child just the hash. You could make it ahead to heat up just a portion in the oven.
      – Grits, plain or with cheese, veggies, bacon, or sausage if desired.
      – If you’re not opposed to waffles, Vans brand is egg free – it is also gluten free though. Could be spread with peanut butter or almond butter instead of syrup so more savory and getting some protein.
      Good luck! Breakfast can seem particularly tricky w/ food restrictions or allergies (especially egg!)

      1. 00ff00Claire*

        Sorry, I didn’t think about bagels having egg. They may be over the 2 egg / recipe limit. But another thought is cottage cheese, if you and your child like it. It maybe has an awkward reputation as an old-fashioned “diet” food, but it is actually pretty high in protein. I like it paired with fruit for a sweet / salty combination or on wheat thins or rice cakes. Rice cakes topped with a nut butter, seed butter, or soy butter would also be savory and should have a good amount of protein.

    17. Greywacke Jones*

      My wife has been making baked oatmeal, it freezes and reheats well. I think it has a couple eggs in it but you could probably modify it if necessary. Flavor profiles are also customizable- she does more of a sweet fruity one, but you could go savory as well.

    18. SR*

      Well, my suggestion is not savory, but it doesn’t have to be very sweet, and has a lot of protein, and is filling — baked oatmeal! It’s basically oatmeal, milk (i used soymilk), eggs, vanilla, raisins, sugar, cinnamon. The recipe I used calls for 4 egg whites, but I always just use 2 whole eggs instead. I also cut way back on the sugar — I used a 1/4 cup instead of 2/3 I’ve added diced apples, or other dried fruits instead of raisins, etc. My sister also makes it with chocolate chips as a treat. I love it cold or warm, but my favorite way to eat it is cold or room temperature, just eaten out of my hand (it’s very firm once it cools), or in a bowl with some soymilk poured over it.
      It’s also super easy to make and smells amazing while it’s baking.
      Here is the recipe I use, but you can find many online:
      2 1/4 cups quick cooking oats, uncooked
      or 2 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats, uncooked (I use the latter)
      2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I cut this down to 1/4 cup)
      3/4 cup raisins or Craisins
      1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      1/2 teaspoon salt — optional
      3 1/3 cups skim milk (I use soymilk)
      4 egg whites — lightly beaten (I used 2 whole eggs)
      (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
      1 tablespoon vegetable oil
      1 tablespoon vanilla
      fat free milk or nonfat yogurt and fruit — optional

      Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

      In large bowl, combine oats, sugar, raisins, cinnamon and salt; mix well. In medium bowl, combine milk, egg whites, oil and vanilla; mix well. Add to dry ingredients; mix until well blended. Pour into baking dish.

      Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until center is set and firm to the touch. Cool slightly. (Mine cooked in about 50 minutes)

      Serve topped with milk or yogurt and fruit, if desired. Store leftover oatmeal covered in refrigerator.

    19. Aealias*

      I used to make muffins for breakfast, where I replaces most of the flour with mixed ground nuts. Very high in protein, sweet or savoury depending on how you adapt the recipe, delicious taken from the freezer and warmed up with a pat of butter. I was never able to find a good recipe, so you have to be willing to get a bit adventurous with your baking. I recommend increasing the baking powder, as they don’t rise as easily due to the lack of gluten – although I suppose nowadays you could try adding xanthan gum instead?

    20. Melon*

      There’s an Instagram account – kid friendly.meals

      She has a few recipes for essentially simple muffins that are great for kids and can be savory, that are great to batch prep and freeze. Then just pull out and warm up for breakfast! Also great if you need to do meals on the road, daycare, etc.

  35. Just a PM*

    Car-shopping advice! Ok, it’s more like test-driving-a-car advice. I’ve been looking at cars online for a few months and am ready to start going to dealers to physically look at cars and do a few test drives to make my decision. I am a single female who lives alone. None of my friends who I’d invite to come with me are available for a few weeks and I’m at the point now where I want to get this over with. Has anyone (single women especially) gone to a car dealer or made a test drive by themselves before? Any advice you could share?

    I’m not all that worried about pushy salesmen since I will be using the family plan and they won’t make much of a commission on me.

    1. GoryDetails*

      I think the only time I *haven’t* done my car-shopping solo was on my very first one – and that was because it was for a reliable used car, so a family friend with lots of mechanical experience offered advice both on the choice of car and on the price. [This was loooooong before there was an internet, so I couldn’t just Google the make and model {wry grin}.]

      Since then I’ve bought several used cars and several new ones, and the process has become easier over time – in part because of the internet and the consumer services that let me narrow down my choices and work out the costs, and in part because the tendency of sales staff to ride roughshod over customers seems to have dwindled a bit.

      If you’re looking at used cars, I do recommend having your own mechanic give a once-over to any vehicle you’re seriously considering; that can save a lot of trouble down the line.

      As for test drives: last time I did that, I was allowed to take a car out on my own, rather than having the sales person ride with me; that would be the ideal situation in COVID times, unless you’re in a location where it’s not currently an issue. I generally do a quick loop around the highway to check road-feel and handling, and into more crowded business streets to check maneuvering and visibility through all the windows, mirrors, and (nowadays, awesome invention, backup camera). I’d note things like where the fuel-tank opening is (on my latest car the manufacturer changed sides, so I had to re-learn my gas-station technique), and if the car has lots of new-tech dashboard features, it might be worth going through a tutorial to see whether that’s something you want – and, for me, how to disable any annoying/distracting screens…

    2. Helvetica*

      I’ve not used it myself but have heard good things about success with the Nicole Cliffe method of buying a car. If you want to go for a test drive, it doesn’t work but it’s an interesting alternative!
      Link in reply once it’s released from moderation.

    3. Come On Eileen*

      I have! I’ve never had anything worrisome happen. I also don’t talk about how I plan to pay (cash) until I sit down to purchase — for the same reason, I want to get the best price and let them think they might make some money on financing. I don’t lie, I just don’t share, and it’s worked out for me the last two cars I’ve purchased. I also reached out to the Internet sales manager ahead of time, because that makes pricing a lot more clear cut and easier to do.

    4. The traps are on fire*

      One little thing I recommend is to find an uphill on-ramp onto a highway if you can. A car salesman tried to navigate me around such an on-ramp and I immediately found out why as the car just didn’t have the oomph to merge onto a busy highway. I drove straight back to the dealership and wasted no more of my time.

    5. fposte*

      Yup. It was fine. If you’re going used, definitely second the advice to line up a reliable mechanic beforehand who does pre-purchase checks. I did have a salesperson in the car on the test drives, but they were always pretty low key—if they’re yappy and distracting, I think it’s fine to ask them to hold the conversation until the drive is done so you can concentrate on the car. Hopefully COVID rules mean that they’ll let you take it out alone anyway, but if not I’d check to make sure they were diligent on the masking and I’d blow outside air.

    6. Llellayena*

      Yep, been there, done that, no problems. Don’t be afraid to speak up when there’s something you don’t like about the car. At one place, I mentioned the headrest was pushing my head forward too much and they showed me I could flip it backwards (darn safety features not designed for short people!). Another place, the view in the rear view mirror made the visibility seem very limited. I didn’t even take that one on the road, I cancelled the test drive right then and the guy didn’t blink. My parents did come when I bought the car because I was using “The Bank of Mom” for my loan, but I did all the talking and negotiating.

    7. mreasy*

      I bought my car from Carvana – a friend recommended. They have good prices vs what I saw locally at dealers and they deliver the car to your home! You can test drive it on drop off and they also have a 7-day return policy. I was clear about what make, model, & year I wanted, so I didn’t need to do in-person browsing, and it was honestly the perfect scenario for me.

    8. Not A Manager*

      I’ve always test-driven and purchased cars on my own, as a woman, even when I’ve been married. It literally wouldn’t occur to me to bring a buddy, male or female.

      1. WellRed*

        Same. First drive the salesman went with me. Once it got closer to decision time they let me take it again solo. I did bring them over to my mechanic brother to check out.

    9. Oxford Comma*

      Single woman here. I just bought a new car and was prepared to have to fight them about doing the test drive alone. It was a non issue. The guy handed me the key, suggested a route but said to take my time and that he had no problem if I deviated from it (which I did because I like to see how it handles in multiple types of traffic/speeds). That was it.

      Definitely recommend taking the car to a mechanic if it’s a used car, but I think the dealer would even drive it to your mechanic for you for that (and you get the report yourself from the mechanic).

    10. Not So NewReader*

      hee, hee, I have started a new thing where I tell them a bit lower price range than my actual price range. That way when they bump me up a notch I can actually consider the car. I hate wasting time on vehicles out of my budget.

      I also tell them I don’t dicker. Tell me the price and I will tell you if I will pay that price. If I won’t pay that price then you will have to show me something else. Sometimes this actually seems to make them nervous. I have zero patience for playing, “Guess the price!”

    11. Esmeralda*

      Yes. Anyone who ignores you or is condescending or a rude A*hole — walk right out of there. And then send a description of your experience to the manager of the dealership AND to customer service for that car company. (The dealership did not respond to my letter, but Toyota customer service sure did.)

      There are two big Toyota dealerships in our area. The one that was closest to home 25 years ago: the salesman was condescending when he bothered to talk to me — kept running off to help other, better dressed customers (I wasn’t ratty looking, but I didn’t have lots of money then). I walked right out, sent my letters, and went to the other, less conveniently located dealership. Where we have now bought 5 new cars over the years, had all our service done there, and have shared good word of mouth for 25 years.

    12. Nita*

      I went with my mom, but she doesn’t know a thing about cars, so… What helped was that I’d gone in with a very clear idea about which car I want. The test drive was really just to figure out if it drives well and there aren’t any deal breakers. I was also pretty sure I do not want a used car – my parents’ used car had bit the dust in a very scary way just before that. So there wasn’t much of a worry that the dealers will talk me into something I do not want.

    13. Anono-me*

      You say that you are using the ‘family plan ‘. Does that mean you are buying from a family member who is waiving their commission? If so, that is very kind. I would be very sceptical if by ‘family plan’, you mean the dealership has said that they don’t negotiate on price because they offer the best price upfront and pay their salespeople salaries, not commissions. Many places have called me to tell me of “special promotions/price drops” on nonnegotiable prices cars a day or two after I have walked away from a bad deal. (A friend got the call in while still in the parking lot. lol.) Many ‘commission free’ sales people still get ‘ sales bonuses’ and there often is pressure on sales people to sell certain cars that have been on the lot too long. (There are many many great and honorable people in the business, but there are also alot of people who live up to the jokes about the bad reputation of used car sales people .)

      I like to test drive a vehicle in all the different conditions that others have listed. I also find an empty parking lot and turn a few very tight (slow) circles each way. I keep the windows down for almost all of the test drive so that I can listen for “funny noises”. I put the windows up for part of the highway test drive so I can see how quiet it rides.

      I check out all the features: A/C, heat, rear defroster, each speaker, the seat belt and adjusters for eash seat etc.

      I check the fluid levels. If the fluid levels are low, I worry that the prior owner may not have taken good care of maintenance or that there is a leak somewhere.

      Look at the engine, I was looking at a really nice vehicle at a great price and when I popped the hood, I could see the high water line. It was a flood car.

      Check the entire car including the roof, door edges and by the gas tank for dings, dents rust and other damage.

      Check to see if the maintenance records are in the glove box. If they are, read them, especially the last few months.

      I check the tires. I look for tires have some life left in them. (You can put a upside down penny in the tread and make sure Lincoln’s hair is partially covered) The wear patterns should look even. (Uneven wear patterns can be an indication of something expensive &/or dangerous.) They should be properly inflated to the vehicle’s recommendations. I want the spare tire to be accessible and in good shape. Sometimes people put a use the “good” spare and put the bad tire it replaced in the spare spot without replacing/repairing it. Spares stored underneath the vehicle can be hard to release even if the bolts aren’t rusted. I don’t like the cans of fix a flat some cars have in place of a spare.*

      I go ‘shopping for a car’ by myself, but I go ‘buy a car’ with others. I find it useful to see how salespeople treat a casually dressed, middle+ woman. I also do alot of shopping and don’t want to ask everyone to invest all the time. I like to find two good choices at different dealerships. When buying a car, I go in the morning and make sure that I have all day. I ask as many friends and family to join me or stop by as can. I find that it helps me negotiate from a position of strength. (Car dealerships have put a lot of time,energy, money, and science into the ‘psychology of selling you a car’ from the building design to the training of their staff.)

      * Rant about cans of fix a flat. What happens if your tire is flat because it is badly damaged and you are somewhere remote? What happens in winter when it is too cold? What if you have a small puncture that could have been repaired, except now you have to replace two tires since all the tires were at 30% wear and the one is unrepairable since it is full of fix a flat.

      1. Christmas Carol*

        Most auto manufacturers, and major auto parts suppliers, have discount plans where there employees, retirees, and their immediate family members can purchase new cars at a fixed price, with a significant discount off the MSRP.

    14. Just a PM*

      Thank you, everyone, for the advice! I’m hoping to get out this upcoming weekend to do some test-drives if I can track down a dealer who has the cars/models I’m looking for. I feel much more confident doing this by myself with all the advice.

  36. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Is this normal for the home buying process nowadays? Long story short, our buyer has been stringing us along for 3 months now and we’re nowhere near selling the house yet and are majorly stressed out.

    Earlier this year we decided to sell our house. We had a few realtors come and take a look, two were promising and two were abysmal.

    Then our next door neighbor approached us. They’d always expressed interest in buying our house whenever we were ready to sell. They looked at the house top to bottom and offered 500 for it, all cash with no realtors or banks involved, only a lawyer on each side. They assured us it’d be an easy quick transaction. Since we didn’t want to go on market, that’d leave us with 200 after paying all expenses & the outstanding mortgage so we “shook” on it.

    They saw the house two more times after making an offer and renegotiated the price twice, down to 400, leaving us with 100 after expenses. Then they said they were getting a mortgage…..these should probably have been my first red flags but we still went ahead into contract in August.

    The deadline for them to secure a mortgage came and went and they’ve asked for an extension 3x now. Everytime we talk to them they said their lender is working on it. For 6 weeks they’ve said “everything is good, we should be able to close in days!”

    Most recently they asked for yet another extension. We had our lawyer tell their lawyer that this will be the final extension and if they’re not able to secure a mortgage commitment, we are backing out of the deal. Three days went by with no response before the buyer texted us that they’re still working on getting a mortgage. I asked them if their lawyer told them anything else and they said no. I suspect that their lawyer never told them our terms just that we consented to an extension.

    Even our lawyer seems annoyed by all of this now. He has to contact their lawyer multiple times to get a response.

    I’ve been patient and giving benefit of the doubt, but I’m getting so frustrated now. I know that mortgages are taking a super long time, ours took 4 weeks….but I’m getting upset at their lawyers lack of responsiveness and the buyers fake reassurances.

    I feel that they know we are in a desperate position and taking advantage of it. We did have a few interested parties that we had to turn away other because they assured us it would be a quick and easy transaction.

    Am I off base in feeling frustrated about this whole process? Disrespected comes to mind but that’s probably far too strong a word; it certainly doesn’t feel very good.

    1. fposte*

      Yes, I think you’re being jerked around. My bet is they offered cash because they knew they’d struggle to get a mortgage. If this worked, it would have been ideal, so I understand why you hung on, but I think you’re letting your reluctance to go on the market put you in a bind. I’d talk to one of the promising realtors and get ready to go on the market the day of the next deadline, because they’re not going to make it.

      And in the future, exclusivity should be offered for only a very small window. If a buyer can’t meet the first deadline, the property can go back on the market.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Hindsight’s 2020 isn’t it? We didn’t want to go on market because the house is in terrible condition and we just don’t have the means to repair it. And we just wanted out of this neighborhood as well.

        I can’t recall the term but sunk cost fallacy comes to mind.
        At this point we’re just trying to stop the bleeding.

        This home thing has messed with my mental health/my husbands physical health more than anything else

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          We didn’t want to go on market because the house is in terrible condition and we just don’t have the means to repair it.

          As popular as the house flipping shows seem, I’d be surprised if that can’t be navigated.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            I’m not sure what you mean. But in any case even if we poured our savings and took out a loan to fix it, I didn’t want to stay here.

            aside from the structural problems –

            We don’t have a working driveway as it literally will
            not fit our sedan. I haven’t left the house past 2
            Pm all year because I can never find parking after 3 pm. All our neighbors have multiple cars and no one parks in their driveways so there’s no street parking left. People illegally parks in no parking spots or right in front of fire hydrants or put out cones to reserve their spot, which is illegal. Our cars have been hit or destroyed several times in hit and run accidents (4 in 3 years). Every few months a house is set on fire and destroyed.

            Then there’s constant daily fireworks and nightly parties all summer.

            We have found human feces in our driveway and dog owners let their dogs poop on our front lawn and walk away without cleaning.

            And until this year when I was staying home all the time, we could never have packages delivered because they’d get stolen.

            And most of all, I’ve been here almost all my life and have very few happy memories and want to get out of here and we’re stuck here til god knows when.

            Whoever buys the house can do whatever they want. We put it as an “as is” property, and whoever buys it can tear it down and do whatever they want.

            1. Lady Heather*

              Ugh, that sounds unpleasant. I hope you’re able to move soon.

              A trick I learned (from the realtor) from selling a deceased relative’s house: if a house is valued at 360k, have an asking price of 349k. Then suddenly you’re also of interest to people with a 350k budget. People budget in 50k (and maybe 25k, 100k, or 1m) increments and you may be tripling your “audience” by having an asking price just below a “popular” budget.

              Of course, the quicker sale-lower price tradeoff needs to be worth it to you – it was for us and it was sold extremely, extremely quickly.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                Exactly what I meant. Only downside is that the flippers are looking for the cheapest properties they can find to start with.

          2. Clisby*

            Ask the realtor if it’s feasible to offer the house for sale as-is. We’ve bought 2 houses that way, and would definitely sell as-is if we decided to move from our current house. However, we live in Charleston, SC, in a neighborhood desirable enough that several times a year we get cold calls from people wanting to know if we’ll sell our house.

        2. Dancing Otter*

          This past summer, I sold (as estate administrator) a house in such bad condition that the list of exceptions on the village inspection ran two pages. My elderly relative hadn’t fixed anything in years, and hadn’t cleaned at all in months — part illness, part hoarding.
          We didn’t get anything close to what it would have been worth if it were up to code, of course, but we had a choice of offers. The final buyer’s mortgage lender delayed the closing by 7-10 days, not months.
          Those people are either playing games or self-deluded about getting financing. You don’t need to stay on goods terms with them anymore: they won’t be your neighbors once you move.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        Exactly. No more extensions. Your neighbors have breached the contract multiple times. You and your lawyer should be communicating with your neighbors in writing exclusively, so there’s no confusion on a drop-dead date. You should have earnest money that your neighbors will be forfeiting. Get your house on the market ASAP with a qualified agent. Make sure every contract has a deadline. This sounds very frustrating. Sorry you’re doing through this.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          They did pay a $5k deposit but our lawyer says that if we break the contract it will be difficult to ge tit back. I’m insisting on keeping it.

          1. fposte*

            I understand the impulse, but that may be pretty shady if the contract doesn’t allow it, and they may sue you and win it back. Take your lawyer’s advice seriously here.

            1. Potatoes gonna potate*

              Is trying to keep the down payment shady? Did I misunderstand what Wishing You Well meant?

              1. fposte*

                Whether or not you can keep the deposit depends on your state law and your contract. It sounded to me like your lawyer was saying that if you break the contract you’d be forfeiting the money; if that’s so, I’d listen to the lawyer.

              2. fhqwhgads*

                In my experience, it’s in the contract at what point the buyer can back out and still get the deposit back. Given all the “extensions” I’m unclear if that included extending that, or if these extensions weren’t in writing and were just phone calls. If your lawyer says you can’t keep it given the terms, I’d believe that, but when I’ve purchased houses if the buyer needs more time to get their mortgage and then eventually backs out (or doesn’t come through within the agreed upon timeframe), the seller is entitled to the earnest money. That was the whole point of it: to show it’s an offer in good faith. You’re not accepting other offers from other people in the meantime while you’re waiting on them. If they don’t or can’t get it together by now, I would’ve expected that to be grounds for you keeping that deposit and so surprise anybody. But it might be different in your state.

    2. CatCat*

      ey’ve had ample opportunity to secure this deal. I would also give no more extensions unless they want to pay for the extension with cash immediately and that is not discounted off the final price (if there’s a price that would be worth it to you to give an extension). That’s the pain in the ass tax.

      You could also get back in touch with the promising realtors, explain what’s happened, and that you want it on the market (and that you want a quick transaction if that’s still the case). That person can advise you. I’d be very leery of accepting another offer from the neighbors without a significant deposit that they stand to lose if they can’t meet timeframes.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I did reach back out to them today. We pushed back our move date a month. I’m gutted we’re here another month but better than moving and
        leaving the house empty for them.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Ask your lawyer if you can notify them that if they don’t meet x criteria in y days, you will consider that breach of contract and you will keep their deposit. (IDK what you’re looking for – do you want to close within a month? do you want them to have secured financing? do you want them to sign some kind of additional contract?) But do ask about giving them notice that they are in breach of the contract and therefore you will keep the deposit.

      Secondly – and whether you take the above advice or not – I think you should treat informal agreements like the job offer you hope you’ll get but it hasn’t come yet. Keep moving forward with your other options. If you get to a point where you need to sign a contract with someone else (realtor or purchaser), you can then go back to the informal folks if you still prefer their deal and tell them to move forward or you’ll move on.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Best case scenario we’d close ASAP. If not then at least keep their deposit. We did do that but their lawyer didn’t bring it to them, he just told them that we gave them an extension. That’s why I think the lawyer lied to the client and withheld our request.

        There’s so many things I wish I would have done differently with this sale. It just feels like were always in a state of being desperate and we will never climb out of it. It feels awful to have made such a huge mistake.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          So you’re doing this just with lawyers and no realtors? If so I recommend changing that immediately. They do this all day long and would’ve had the stipulations about timeline and at what point the deposit is nonrefundable in up front. It’s standard. Also any changes to the contract must be signed by both of you. There is no “he didn’t tell them that”. If he didn’t tell them, then neither of you is beholden to the new terms. Your deal isn’t with their lawyer. It’s with them. This whole thing has gone down in a weird way.

    4. A313*

      Something similar happened to a family member. Jerked them around so long, and then the contract was finally cancelled. Put it back on the market at a less ideal time, so reduced the price, and guess who wanted, again, to buy the house? They did end up selling to them for the lowered price, but it was to just to be done with it finally (they had already moved some time ago), and it was a little bit of a bitter pill to swallow, but financially carrying the house until spring didn’t make sense.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        We suspect that they may do this as well. Or that we’ll get so frustrated and just abandon the property altogether so they can get it through foreclosure. We’re looking only at private investors, not going on market.

        1. Bluephone*

          Honestly I think that’s a mistake for all the reasons you described and others have listed. Your neighbors are not going to suddenly become responsible, upstanding people. Their lawyer is not suddenly going to become competent. Go back to the realtors you liked, pick an “as-is” price, and cross your fingers. Trying to do this on your own, through back alley deals, is just going to get worse AND ruin your finances even more.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            Not sure what back alley deals? We’ve gotten a few fliers for RE investors looking to buy properties, like someone mentioned in another comment. Are those the back alley deals?

            We’re no longer waiting on the buyer to suddenly get it together.

            I also contacted the 2 realtors that we had spoken to earlier that were promising.

            1. Reba*

              I’m not Bluephone, but I think by back alley they mean the off-market transaction you’ve been trying to get done. Because it’s off-market, you only have this one potential buyer candidate, who is jerking you around. If the property were listed, you would expand your pool of potential buyers.

              I know you have financial concerns about this, so if the realtor fees are a concern you could look at selling with Redfin (lower % fee), or even doing it FSBO but still listing it on Trulia and Zillow. But given that you have special circumstances I think a trusted agent would be worth having. I echo other commenters that your house’s issues might not be as prohibitive to selling as you think. “Handyman specials” are a hot commodity in my area.

              Good luck!

              1. Potatoes gonna potate*

                You’re right I thought about that. We will go that route as well and get a realtor. Worth it for less headache.

              2. Bluephone*

                Sorry yes but by “back alley” I was referring to try to do this all on your own, with your neighbor offering cash, because they can’t get a mortgage, they’d probably want to skip a home inspection and escrow, taking verbal promises as binding, etc. Sorry for the confusion. Good luck with everything!

    5. RagingADHD*

      Not normal. You’re getting totally jerked around. Frankly, I’m shocked that your lawyer isn’t being more strict with them or giving you better advice.

      Crap condition or not, the real estate market is hot right now. We live in an older neighborhood, and nothing is on the market more than 2 weeks. We get mailers from house flippers all the time who are looking to buy as-is, cash.

      If you can’t get this deal closed ASAP, I’d kill the contract AND fire your lawyer. Unless your lawyer has been urging you to cut these folks loose, and you’re the ones being patient, then I think the lawyer is too lackadaisical about it.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I’ve gotten a few of those mailers and called all of them yesterday and today. We just want to walk away with enough to recoup our losses and pay the outstanding mortgage on this and come out a little ahead.

    6. Mimosa Jones*

      How is the flipping/tear down market in your area and neighborhood? My aunt sold her house “as is” directly to a builder. She cold called a bunch of the ones who worked in her area and was able to make a deal pretty quickly.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      There has to be some way their lawyer can verify with your lawyer that they are making sincere attempts to get a mortgage. This could be your lawyer verifying they have an application in with a particular bank or something.
      I wonder if your lawyer cannot verify that there is an actual potential lender then you can move on.

      It seems to me I had to name my lender and the lender’s rep to someone representing the seller. I had to give the name of the lending institution and an actual contact person plus contact info. It still took an incredible amount of time. I want to say 3-4 months, even with nailing down a funding source. Our sellers waited very patiently. I was amazed.

      In your setting here, I think they are scrambling, they are going from lender to lender hoping someone will take them. It could be that they are looking for rates that are not available to them. Or it could be that they are getting refused. My husband and I had a few refusals, but we shopped for a lender before we started even looking at houses. We got that out of the way first.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I realize you want to go what seems to be the easiest route, but I’d urge you to just get a realtor and put it on the market. There’s a buyer for every house, no matter the shape it’s in. You might not get the highest price, but it’s usually better than holding onto the house for a long period of time and throwing away more money on the mortgage. As someone else said here, and according to the realtor who sold my old house this year, the housing market is hopping right now; it’s very likely you’ll sell it fairly quickly. Yes, you’ll pay a commission for a realtor, but it’s so, so worth it. They deal with all the BS the buyer and their attorney and/or realtor dishes out, negotiate for you, and be able to handle all the details for you. You don’t need your attorney until it’s time to close on the deal.

      As for the neighbor who supposedly has 500k, he doesn’t have 500k, has no way to get it, and likely has bad credit, which is why he’s taking so long to get a mortgage. This kind of happened to us when we put our old house on the market. The guy across the street contacted my realtor and made a big show about how he’d pay us $X; had “backers” so it would be a cash deal, no realtors or banks; and could close in a week. He had a showing and proceeded to nitpick everything about the house, “This is wrong, that’s wrong. This needs to be replaced, that needs to be replaced. You’re asking way too much money.” Well, duh. W listed it “as-is” with a below-market price. What do you expect? My realtor said exactly that to him, too. Turned out he didn’t have any money, had no one he could borrow from, and his credit was terrible so there’s no way in hell he’d get a mortgage. In the end it turned out to be his way of getting into the garage to see the classic car my husband had in there (he’d heard it was in there; we rented the house out when we moved and left the car there; former tenants didn’t have a car so not a problem). He really didn’t want the house and had no way to buy it anyway. He wanted the car and kept trying to get us to sell the car to him, which didn’t happen.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Yeah I think I was confusing going on market with having ppl come in and nitpick and wait more months with a realtor. But I did a little research and found pros who can do what i want to do.

        That’s absolutely crazy what your neighbor did. People are strange

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I forgot to add that my old house needed work, though it had a brand new roof and deck, which helped a lot. But it definitely needed a lot of cosmetics, as the tenants did damage via smoking in the house, multiple large dogs and other pets, and just not telling us when something broke so it could be fixed. It’s also on an not-so-desirable cul-de-sac (surrounded by a few businesses, run-down multi-family housing, and literally on the city line, which borders an area that has a high crime rate). AND…the neighbors had chickens, a rooster which crowed very, very early, and goats. None of which were allowed by city ordinance. But yeah, it sold within a month because we priced it right for the area and the condition of the house. We lost money, but we’re free of that huge burden and that’s worth it.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            Being free of a huge burden is absolutely the best thing and SO worth it.

            Even looking at other options these last few days has calmed me down considerably.

    9. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I am on my computer now so a little easier to type.

      First, thanks everyone for validating my experience.

      Given the condition of the house we kept our expectations very low. When we initially began this process, we had a realtor come and take a look. Even though I had explained everything very clearly, he said we’d need to spend $50k on repairs before he could show it to anyone. The other one said something along the same lines. We had low expectations – all we want was enough to pay off the mortgage and a bare minimum to cushion our emergency fund. So when the neighbors expressed interest, we thought it was a godsend that we could leave it with our dignity intact. We didn’t do it with intent to not pay a realtor – I am very much pro-going to a professional for many things rather than DIY.

      Unfortunately, we had no way of knowing it would drag on so very long and come to this.

      I said earlier that this has messed with our health (my mental and my husband’s physical) so much; it’s the kind of situation that has made us regret every life decision we’ve made to date of being stuck in this place. I feel a lot better now after posting here and knowing we have options.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        If the realtors you talked to won’t sell as-is, look for another realtor. They’re out there, you just need to look.

  37. Lyme patient*

    I am seeking any information others may have about doxycycline; I have read a lot on line but recall there was an article about what not to take with it, including magnesium, which I cannot find now. So, if you know more than the usual Mayo Clinic information (I have read that) please share it. I have taken this drug before but am concerned I did not do it right and that may have negatively impacted its effectiveness (for example, I was using magnesium with it the first time around, because Mayo Clinic does not discuss that). This is my third time around with lyme disease this summer and I want to get rid of it! Thank you.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yes, this is very much a pharmacist question. You can call any pharmacy and ask to speak to someone about drug interactions.

        I often start with an online interactions checker but I have checked in with the pharmacy if anything is confusing or inconclusive.

    1. Lady Heather*

      The NHS website says:

      indigestion remedies (antacids)
      supplements which contain aluminium, bismuth, calcium, magnesium or zinc
      stomach ulcer medicines that contain bismuth
      iron supplements
      other antibiotics
      acne medicines which contain vitamin A, such as isotretinoin
      a blood thinner called warfarin
      medicines for epilepsy, such as phenytoin or carbamazepine
      ciclosporin, a medicine to damp down your immune system

      (Emphasis mine.)

      1. Lyme patient*

        Thank you! I think this was the site I had seen before but did not know how to find again (did not remember what to look for). That was very helpful. I live in a small, rural, midwest town and my pharmacist is of no help. This is. Thank you.

    2. Pharmgirl*

      It’s best to speak to your pharmacy as they have your complete medication list and can advise fully on drug interactions. That said, here are some guidelines.

      You want to separate the doxy by 2 hours from calcium (including dairy), magnesium (this includes several types of OTC antacids as well), iron, or vitamins. Empty stomach + full glass of water is best, but a small meal or snack is okay to prevent upset stomach. You will also be more sensitive to the sun and need to wear adequate sun protection when outside.

    3. Cary*

      For me the increase in sun sensitivity was extreme. I went for a hike in the woods, wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants. I used hiking poles. My thumbs and index fingers and sides of my hands–the area that was up while holding the hiking poles–got sunburned. (I’m told having sun sensitivity increase *this much* is unusual. I sure never expected it!)

      You can look at sites like rxlist for the same info included in the drug inserts. I wonder if that’s where you saw this. Rxlist says, “Absorption of tetracyclines is impaired by antacids containing aluminum, calcium, or magnesium, and iron-containing preparations.”

      Hope you get rid of the Lyme disease this time!

      1. Lyme patient*

        Thank you. I’ve gotten rid of lyme six times already; it almost killed me in 2013. This is the seventh distinct infection. I do all I can to avoid ticks but I also do forest restoration in one of the top lyme areas of the U.S.

        The NHS site was the one I had been looking for. My pharmacist is a joke but at least I usually get the right meds, last time I was shorted a pill. This community is so helpful and I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

  38. lifesempossible*

    Hello everyone!
    Has anyone tried flower essences? Are they legitimate?
    My new therapist just recommended flower essences to help with mental health, but reviews online are mixed. He said that they should help even with one serving. Wondered if anyone had experience with them? (He suggested specifically Bright Morning, Tranquility, or Unstress.)


    1. D3*

      I think they’re bunk. Placebo at best.
      If your therapist was selling them in the office, run to another therapist. IMO therapists should never sell product, I feel like it’s a violation.

    2. RagingADHD*

      A friend recommended the spray version of Bach’s Rescue Remedy when I was going through a terribly stressful time. I have no idea whether it had any real effect, but I would use it when I felt ready to melt down, and I would feel better.

      Could have entirely been the placebo effect. And it was not so noticeable that I kept buying it long-term. But, you know, sometimes just having a little something harmless to get you through the next 10 minutes is worth it.

      There are worse coping mechanisms.

      I agree, though, that a therapist should not be selling them. But if they are just recommending them to buy elsewhere, and they aren’t going to break your budget, they aren’t going to hurt you either. (As long as you check the ingredients).

    3. A Teacher*

      Most likely bunk and your therapist should not be selling them. Agree with what the others have said.

    4. Lady Heather*

      I had someone recommend flower essences – Bach’s cherry plum and star of behtlehem – to me. Their dowsing rod told them that was what I needed, so that is what I took.

      It came in little glass bottles with a glass drop pipette that was very useful – I use them any time I need to oil my ears (I’m prone to earwax blockage).

      The liquid in the bottle didn’t do jackall.

      1. Lady Heather*

        It was a dowsing pendulum, actually – not a rod.

        It’s not the weirdest pseudoscientific treatment I’ve had – I can think of at least two that are way farther out of the left field (and also did jackall), and this one was definitely the cheapest – but my parents had the “If medicine isn’t helping, and the pseudoscience is safe, why not?” approach to alternative medicine and it was a pretty desperate time for us medically.

        If your therapist is recommending you buy the stuff from them, find another therapist. If your therapist is recommending you buy it from a regular store, then I would think back on your sessions and ask yourself, did you ask your therapist for this kind of recommendation, or did you ask them for talk therapy and did they come at you with flower essences? If it’s the latter, I would consider that a sign your therapist isn’t as client-centered/paying as much attention/focusing on you as some other therapists, and then consider where to go from there.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I am willing to try stuff. My opinion is that flower essences aren’t strong enough for my needs. I don’t see any significant benefit. I have had strong results with well-made vitamins and minerals.

      I just googled the Unstress. It appears to be $17 per bottle. Eh, they aren’t asking a million dollars. He said that one serving should help? Well, that means you’re not going to spend a ton of money or time on this one. For 17 bucks and one shot you will know if it is for you or not.

      If you feel like it, then try it. Otherwise, skip it. The only way I found stuff that worked for me is by trying some things that did not work out. I will say that my former practitioner who I think walks on water, backed away from essences. And I never heard why. But I do know that he was picky, stuff had to work on most of the people and most of the time before he would suggest it. So I am guessing that is why he abandoned the idea.
      One suggestion I have is try to find out how long your practitioner has been in business and how long they have been working with flower essences. When I met my practitioner he had been doing his work for 15-20 years. Man, he knew his stuff like we know how to breathe.

    6. Traffic_Spiral*

      Eeeeh… depends what you call “legitimate.” Does smelling something nice sometimes make you feel better? Sure. Is it gonna have, like, medical-level effects. No.

      If you can, go to your local hippie or new-age store, smell some stuff, and see if you like it – but don’t invest serious money or hope in it.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      I haven’t tried flower essences, but I’ve tried a few natural remedies. I found them to be useless. I think any kid of natural remedy is just like anything else: results vary from person to person. They work for some and not others.

      If the flower essences don’t cost much and won’t break the bank, give them a try. That’s the only way you’ll know if they work for you or not.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      Serving? Is he suggesting you *drink* the stuff or just smell it?

      Because aromatherapy’s been around for a while. I put it in the probably won’t do much/probably won’t do any harm category. (Absent respiratory allergies) Who doesn’t like to smell pretty scents?

      Taking the stuff internally, though, you should look at both active and inactive ingredients, and look them up for potential toxicity, side-effects, drug interactions, and any contra-indications. Even topical applications can have side-effects.

      I used St. John’s wort at one point. Since I didn’t expect it to do any good, the improvement was not placebo effect. BUT I also didn’t expect to break out in a rash every time I went out in the sun. Taught me to read the warnings, for sure.

      1. RagingADHD*

        If they are like the Bach’s ones, they are homeopathic, not aromatherapy. So internal, but very tiny doses.

        The one I took was a mouth spray, similar to a breath spray. (In fact it looks like they put peppermint in it now, to make it more like a breath spray).

        I know homeopathy is bunk, and likely it may have entirely been the action of the spritz that helped my brain reset.

        But, you know, I can’t deny that using it did make me feel better. And that’s what I bought it for. So in that sense it “worked.”

    9. lifesempossible*

      Thank you for the replies!

      He wasn’t trying to sell it through his office, just as a recommendation as a pick-me-up when I’m feeling depressed. The flower essence is something like essential oils that is preserved in brandy (and then when you add to water, is diluted out).

      It does seem like at best, it’s a harmless placebo (from what I can tell in reviews online and replies here). He really talked it up as, “Take a sip, and you’ll feel calmer immediately.” Sure, if the brandy doesn’t get diluted out :)

      1. Tiny Kong*

        I would be very concerned about a therapist who thinks there is a drink you can take a sip of and feel calmer immediately. (I mean, I guess alcohol works, but like, really?)

  39. nep*

    Anyone use Sani sticks type product in the drains? Experience with it? Does it help with clogging/odors?

    1. Green Mug*

      I haven’t tried Sani stick. I use the Green Gobbler Hair Grabber. That definitely helps pulls out the hair from the drain. It’s not expensive, but I am able to use one stick several times. Baking soda and vinegar help with odor.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Enzyme product for me, we use something designed for septic systems @ 1/4 cup a month, and spoon a couple of tablespoons into the problem bathtub drain every few weeks when it builds up. (Long hair, shallow drainpipe angle, and low-flow fixtures is a rough combo!)

  40. Cimorene*

    Any recommendations from parents out there of resources or books on coping with toddler fears? I know all kids have fears and go through phases but our almost three year old is reacting fearfully really frequently to super innocuous stuff to the point where it’s getting concerning. For example, we have two dogs and if they so much as sneeze she starts freaking out. We went on a social distance hike with the one family in our bubble and one of the girls burped while drinking water and my kiddo started hiding her face and refusing to go any farther saying “she ok?” Over and over. Even if it’s a phase, I want to respond appropriately to help the munchkin through it and hoping for some suggestions or resources. For what it’s worth, if this keeps up we may ask pediatrician at next check in if should consider seeing a child psychologist so if anyone has experience with that with a toddler I be curious about that too. Thanks AAM commentariat!

    1. D3*

      I have two kids with anxiety. They are adults now. My biggest regret is not getting them help sooner. With my oldest I didn’t recognize it. With the other, I kept thinking they’d outgrow it.
      I’d discuss it with the pediatrician and go from there.

    2. Torrance*

      I think you’re right to seek professional advice but I can offer at least one book recommendation, for the kid– Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival.

    3. Anona*

      Doggie gets scared is a good board book but Leslie Patricelli that we just got from the library. My 2 year old liked it. I’m trying to give her understanding/language around emotions.

    4. Reba*

      My parent is a clinical psychologist who works with children and adolescents. A lot of the work with the littles is through playing games, drawing, or using toys; she has said that sometimes parents are concerned there are no “results” because it’s “just playing” but a skilled therapist is eliciting responses and building emotional skills through the medium of play.

      You might look up the concept of “parachute books” = titles that help children cope with hard things in life. There’s a website called Little Parachutes that lists titles by subject, including infectious disease (which sounds like might be a thing for your kiddo, sorry if I’m extrapolating too much from your examples!).

    5. CJM*

      I’ve had noise sensitivities all my long life, and my first thought was that maybe your child does too. Mostly I can’t filter anything out; all noises come at me and demand attention. It can feel exhausting. I think it would have helped Toddler Me if my parent had responded like this: “Sometimes people and dogs make noises like burps and sneezes, and that’s normal. But I know it can feel like a surprise. Did that noise scare you?” Acknowledging her distress instead of ignoring it is the important part, so you’re already doing well by paying attention and trying to figure it out.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Well, no, Toddler You probably wouldn’t have processed that kind of long speech at all, except the tone of voice being calm and reassuring. That’s the kind of thing you say to a six or seven year old.

        But something like, “Oh, what a big sneeze! Did you jump?” would probably go in the right direction.

    6. Questions?*

      The two examples you gave both had to do with sounds (sneezing and burping). Are all or a lot of her fears related to sounds?

      I’ll also point out that your examples are sudden sounds that might have surprised her. Are her other fears maybe also related to sudden, unexpected stimuli?

      1. Cimorene*

        That is a good observation and one I will keep an eye on. Many of them are due to sudden stimuli or noises but not all of them. Although I definitely didn’t think about it with the two examples I gave. That said, other examples include random things in cartoons she is watching like a character getting the hiccups or today she started acting afraid of something near our dog and I had to point out it was just a random leaf on the ground, no idea what she thought it was. But I do think the startle aspect and noise stimuli could still be part of it because she gets really upset when the dogs start barking suddenly at the mailman or a delivery. I’ve also noticed it seems like a lot of the incidents have to do with bodily functions that are just normal whether it’s dogs or people such as burping, sneezing, or coughing. She starts to act anxious that some thing is wrong. So I do think there’s a few patterns there that may be significant.

        1. Double A*

          It’s interesting that a lot of your examples are about involuntary bodily functions! Sneezes, burps, hiccups. I think checking with a pediatrician is a good idea, but maybe also talking about why those things happen and they may surprise us but it’s a way our body is protecting itself or keeping itself healthy.

        2. saddesklunch*

          I wonder if the fear around bodily functions has anything to do with fears related to the pandemic? There’s a lot of anxiety floating around about bodies and illness, and little ones in particular probably don’t have a good sense of what is normal and what isn’t. It might be helpful to try and put some words, or help her put some words, to what it is that she’s scared of – something like “I can see that you’re really worried about if your friend/the dog is okay. I wonder if everyone talking about the coronavirus and people getting sick is making you feel worried/scared when people’s bodies do something they don’t usually do?” Sometimes we avoid talking to kids about adult situations because we don’t want to scare them, but what often then happens is that they fill in the blanks with weird kid ideas that are even scarier.

    7. Cimorene*

      I just want to say thanks to everyone who responded so far, I will definitely check out many of these suggestions. It also help me to feel like I am not necessarily overreacting and that considering talking to a specialist may be a good idea.

      1. RagingADHD*

        It could also be that she’s temperamentally averse/wary of new/confusing things. This is one of the first personality traits babies show – whether they turn toward or away from new stimuli. And it tends to remain quite stable throughout our lives.

        As older toddlers start to explore the world, they go out a little and come back to their parents. They need different amounts of reassurance or “safe space” to feel like they are in control of their own exploration.

        One option might be to equip her with ways to encounter or buffer these things. So, if she’s upset by the dogs barking, is there a room she can go where they aren’t so loud? Something she can do by herself.

        If she was startled by a leaf, can you offer her a stick to poke it with? Or a dustpan to scoop it up with?

        My eldest used to get extremely frustrated & upset at that age, and freaked out by odd things sometimes. Giving her more self-determination in small ways helped a lot.

  41. LGC*

    It’s been a while, but…let’s talk about running? Have any of you guys picked it up, picked it back up, ramped up, or ramped down? And if you have picked it up, what’s been your motivation to keep on the roads (or trails or even the treadmills)?

    And for those that were into it – how do you feel about races in general, and how’s that changed?

    For me, even up until a few months back I’d talk a LOT about races, which were honestly one of the biggest motivating factors for me in the Before Times. But without most in-person races, it’s been…different. I’ve felt safe enough to meet up with some friends in small groups (like 5-10 at most) lately and even done an in-person race (staggered starts, 250 people total), but I actually don’t miss racing all that much. (And virtual races still don’t motivate me much – I’ll sign up for one for the swag, and I’ll race one hard with a friend. But it still doesn’t feel so much like a “race” as it does like a time trial.) Instead, it’s become more about what I can do and how I feel, which…honestly, is a better relationship for me.

    And funny enough, I don’t feel…too sad about the possibility that we might not have in-person racing for a long time. Or at least, not major races – which is a big move for someone who wanted to be a Six Star finisher! (Meaning, running all of the Abbott World Major marathons – NYC (done), Boston (done), Chicago (was going to do this year), London, Berlin, and Tokyo.)

    1. HamlindigoBlue*

      I stopped running for about three months. I would do a slow 3 mile run about 3-4 times a week, 5-6 miles here and there if I felt like it. When I got back on the treadmill, I could only do a mile. I started doing a mile a day every day. The next week I did a mile and a half, and now I’m at 2 miles this week. Eventually, I’ll get back to where I was.

      Races were never my thing, so that will never be a motivation for me. I’ve done a few for fun, but I don’t care about the medals or the swag or any of that stuff. I don’t even like running outside because I feel like people are looking at me and laughing, even though I logically know that is 100% not true. When I run outside, I tend to do it at a time when I’m a lot less likely to run into people. My motivation is just that running makes me feel better. Plus, I kind of like french fries and if I stop running then I can’t continue eating french fries without buying bigger clothes.

      1. LGC*

        Aw man, your last paragraph kind of gets to me. But I think that’s partly because of how I’ve approached running – as a thing I do with friends, first and foremost. (Which has been difficult the past year for obvious reasons.)

        But yeah, I don’t think any people (or rather, very many people – I know there are jerks out there) are looking and laughing. For starters, we all look goofy to some degree – even those of us who have more “conventional” appearances.

        I will say that I hear you on the French fries, though! And on the ramping back up – it’s frustrating, but it’ll eventually come back. (It’s something that I’m trying to remind myself of, but I’m better at giving advice than taking my own.)

    2. PX*

      I really want to pick up running as the easiest form of cardio I can do in lockdown, but I just…have a long history of hating running so trying to get started is hard. I went for a very very very small jog a few weeks ago, and then remembered that because I’ve not done much walking in general, my shins *hate* any kind of impact. I have quite tight calves in general and because I’m not stretching like I normally would be, it makes running worse.

      I cant decide if I should just stop bothering or try and get over the first few weeks where it will be awful and then be happy once I’m doing it.

      1. HamlindigoBlue*

        I really recommend the C25K program. The r/C25K subreddit is a very supportive group too. If your shins bother you when running, I know that a good pair of running shoes will usually help. I had some slight shin issues. I have no idea if it was because running was new to me or if I was wearing the wrong shoes, but the pain stopped after getting fitted for a new pair of shoes.

        1. PX*

          Yeah, it feels like the classic chicken egg though – do I invest in new shoes when I might not commit to running, or will not getting new shoes mean I never commit to running?

          1. CSmithy*

            Honestly, while I understand everyone’s budget is different, I think shoes are a low enough investment that it’s worth taking the plunge and seeing what happens, especially if it’s for your health! Running with bad shoes can be such a big deterrent, haha.

      2. Purt’s Peas*

        If you know you’re gonna get shin splints instantly, I would actually avoid or modify a couch to 5k program: they go too fast. Or rather, it’s a good pace if you’re trying to get your cardio up to speed. It’s way too fast to get your legs used to high impact.

        When I was going from absolute zero to (an admittedly slow) 10k, my interval program took probably twice as long as the app said it would, because I needed to increase distance/intensity very gradually. It helped to go on walks or very slow jogs of my target distance.

      3. Ktelzbeth*

        I had a long history of hating running. Then I decided I wanted to start entering races that took advantage of my love of biking and swimming. A very few triathlons have a separate aquabike (swim and bike only) division, but it quickly became clear that I either had to take up running, not do races, or DNF (did not finish) the majority. I started running and at first my motivation only slightly outweighed my dislike. I gradually got in better running shape, since somehow the other two sports didn’t seem to carry over as much as I’d hoped, and met people with whom it was fun to run. I’m not sure it will ever be my favorite, but now I at least like running. I’ve particularly ended up liking trail running for when the triathlon season ends.

        If you’re going to start, I would recommend investing in good shoes if your budget allows. You might check out the clearance rack at your local running store, if you have one, especially with holiday sales coming up. If running hurts, you’re pretty much guaranteed to continue to hate it. Maybe even invest in some fun workout clothes, again, budget allowing. It seems superficial, but it made me feel better.

      4. LGC*

        I’ll try to throw in my two cents: you might want to try hiking or trail running (if you have accessible trails), since asphalt and concrete can be a bit jarring. Another thing you might want to try is walk-running, which is where you run for a short interval and walk for a short interval (run 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds).

        Also, don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work out! I’ll be honest, I still see quite a few people just walking, and that’s still great. It’s not as intense, but walking is much lower impact.

    3. Pharmgirl*

      I’m still working my way through Runkeeper’s “My First 5 K” but I’ve finally finished week 4 (I tried the program in May and only got 3 weeks in before I stopped due to heat/humidity). I had taken 2 weeks off due to on-call @ work and then the snow we got, but finally got back to it this morning and had my longest run yet! 90 sec jog / 30 sec walk, 40 min total. 2.86 miles which the most I’ve logged in a single run so far. Not my fastest in terms of pace, but I’m proud of myself for finishing the whole thing!

    4. Old and Don’t Care*

      My mileage has been pretty consistent, but without the motivator of a half marathon my interest in doing long runs is very low. Very, very low.

      I did do a low key half marathon that I was badly undertrained for, but it was fun and I’m glad I did it.

      Overall I’m happy to have a low risk exercise/social outlet activity that will get me through the winter. I do desperately miss races, though, even though I don’t really enjoy racing.

    5. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I’ve been off running for two weeks because of life, the world and everything, including some expected small health-related things. But I’m pretty determined to get back to it next week! I have to remember to start slow and not expect too much. I was doing ~5k three times a week, which for me is huge progress. :) Buuuuut winter is coming, so I’ll have to stop, and I’m not sure what to do instead. We’ll see.

    6. acmx*

      My running is up slightly. Not much else to do anyways.
      I’ve signed up for a few virtual runs both for the swag and to support the small business. While I don’t exactly race them, I do usually run them somewhere other than I do my normal running. The other thing I signed up are the mileage challenges. I’ve signed up for the Oregon Trail (mini) to help motivate me to run through the winter.

      I miss races. I did them for run and a social activity.

    7. JobHunter*

      I miss races and running in general. I took a hard tumble (tripped over my dog, who is a terrible running buddy) over a year ago. I guess I sprained my hip (!?) I was told to rest & recover, then just kind of never resumed running. I actually had to dust off my treadmill a few weeks ago :O

  42. Bobina*

    Gardening thread. How are you prepping for next year (or summer if you are on the other side of the world)?

    I bought some bulbs off the internet today. I am the most average gardener, dont have a garden (concrete backyard and some pots) and dont actually know what I’m doing, but I’m mildly excited because these all have flowers that you can cut and put in a vase :) Plus in theory they bloom in early spring so that means I could have some colour in my life early next year!

    Still have tomatoes growing on my indoor plants which decided to start flowering in late September. Will probably eat those soon I guess?

    1. Parenthetically*

      We actually put up a little polytunnel over the big raised bed and are trying out herbs, kale, and lettuce in it so we can have fresh greens (hopefully) through the winter! Other than that, everything has been pulled out and put in the compost. About to cut down the hostas and prune the chrysanthemums for a second round of blooms.

      I ALWAYS recommend bulbs! Low effort, high reward.

      1. Bobina*

        Ooh fresh herbs and salads for winter. I want to attempt keeping herbs alive again – just need to commit to buying them and also make some space on the kitchen window.

    2. MinotJ*

      I’ve been stealing asparagus seeds from my neighbor’s overgrown plants. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind at all, but it brings me joy to do it all stealthy-like as I’m walking past. I’m letting them dry on the windowsill and we’ll see if I can get them to live.

      1. Venus*

        Thank you for this! I did a bit of research and realize that I have been throwing away (green bin) perfectly good asparagus seeds for years. It might be too late this year as the seeded stalks left in my garden have very green seed pods and winter is getting close, but next year I will watch for red berries and save them. I am always looking for ways to raise funds for charity and asparagus seedlings might be one of those. At the least I can share the seeds.

    3. NeverNicky*

      I pretty much finished putting my garden to bed.

      I’ve sown some winter salad leaves indoors in my potting shed but they may have to move into the house as we’ve had our first frosts.

      I might have over done it on the bulbs but I think it’s going to feel like a long winter and the hope and beauty they will bring is worth a few pounds spent!

    4. Lena Clare*

      Bought a load of spring bulbs to put out in my newly paved back yard woo hoo! Got to buy loads of topsoil first though before I can plant. Think I will do this tomorrow (Sunday).

      1. Lena Clare*

        And the spring garden is planted! I spent about an hour and a half out there in the rain and it doesn’t look any different, but it’ll be lovely next year. Next job: painting, ugh. But once that’s done, I can buy a nice bench to sit out on and enjoy the fruits of my labour! I don’t care if it’s bad weather, I’ve waited so long I’ll be sitting out there with my anorak on :)

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Spread out the finished compost in my raised beds. Removed old dead plants and their accoutrements (cages, stakes). Put my garlic in the ground and leaf mulch on top today in fact. First time for garlic for me.

    6. Anono-me*

      Thank you for your post. It made me remember that I want to to order pre forced bulbs (paperwhite and amaryllis) for early holiday gifts and our home

      I think if there was ever a winter where we are going to need color and flowers this one qualifies.

    7. Nita*

      I’ve got some seeds set aside for next year, and just yesterday accidentally found some passiflora seeds my mom bought me. I’d turned over everything looking for them in the spring, except for the spot where they turned up. Also found my long-lost favorite sunglasses and lipstick, but sadly not the thing I was looking for, which I need ASAP. Of course. Also planning to order some sunflower seeds and am hoping to finally figure out how to grow garlic and onions. It can’t be that hard, can it?

      Finally pulled up the beets and carrots. They’re teensy but look OK. The lettuce and tomatoes are still staying put – somehow they got through last week’s near-frost in one piece, and it’s warmed up again so they have more time to grow. The tomatoes even started blooming again – those things don’t seem to believe winter exists – so eventually I’ll be dealing with a big crop of green tomatoes.