weekend open thread – January 30-31, 2021

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: The Assistants, by Camille Perri. An underpaid assistant to a rich CEO finds a way to use her boss’s expense account to secretly pay off her and her fellow assistants’ student loans. It’s smart and funny and will speak to anyone who’s ever been underemployed or resented their overprivileged boss.

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

{ 1,239 comments… read them below }

  1. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread.

    What brought you joy this week?

    I was able to get out of the house this week, buy a new pretty necklace, keep my eye exam (in a fair trade for my bad teeth placement and early graying, my vision is fantastic and holding steady), and volunteer (all on separate days and safely masked). In addition, the bed height is still great for me! No falls.

    Please share your little joys!

    1. Not Australian*

      I’d been worried about potentially losing touch with my 95-year-old godmother, who lives at the far end of the country from me and is my only remaining relative of the older generation. (She’s also my second cousin.) After Christmas, when I was relieved to have a card from her, I wrote a very careful letter asking her to give my e-mail address to either her nephew or one of her carers so that I could check in with them occasionally. I got back a very *slightly* reproving response to the effect that she has an i-Pad and can handle her own e-mail, thanks a bunch! I feel well and truly kicked in the butt, and TBH I thoroughly deserve it for underestimating her.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If I have to get a kick in the butt, these are types of push backs that make me grin from ear to ear. Good for her and good for you.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Good for her!
        Now that you know she ahs an ipad, could you maybe set up a family zoom with her AND the nephew (cousins in the younger generation)? It could be done as fun, and you’d open a communication link so another Christmas you wouldn’t be dreading the card/nocard discovery.

        1. ElsieD*

          Exactly! Thirty years ago, when my mother and I were concerned that we hadn’t heard from my elderly godmother, I had to take a side trip on my holiday in England to discover that she had died. My mother had lost touch with her daughters and so we didn’t know until long after. Now with the internet, probably a physical trip wouldn’t be necessary, but having other family contacts is sensible.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      I received an email from a grad school classmate who is organizing an online reunion for our small, traveling cohort from 30 years ago. He said that so far everyone has expressed interest. It’s been decades since we’ve we were together, and it prompted me to look up some of them online. The unconventional experiential program was transformative for many of us, and it’s great to see the cool things people have gone on to do. I’m excited to reconnect.

    3. Lena Clare*

      Well that picture of Alison’s kitty is a little joy :)
      I just watched a YouTube makeup video and the presenter’s toddler came in and started giggling which was really sweet and made me smile.

    4. StellaBella*

      My little joy this week was a day off of work, with a physio appt (frozen shoulder is healing!), a massage, new CDB oil drops (20% strength), and Thai takeaway with a piece of chocolate cake, too. Thurs night and last night I slept like a rock which I have not been able to do since October, to be honest.

    5. Bobina*

      I love any and all “behind the scenes” type shows because I love knowing how stuff works and also competence porn . Anyway, I found out that one of the TV channels here has loads of emergency rescue type shows that I’d never seen before – and I thought I’d watched them all! So I have been binge watching emergency helicopter medics do amazing things all week and I still have loads more to watch. I am genuinely so happy with this find its ridiculous :D

    6. Garden Pidgeons*

      My town has started doing food waste collection! A lot of what goes in our bins is vegetable peelings etc., so it’s nice to have that be composted/reused now rather than going to landfill. (And it’s collected twice as often as rubbish was, which is nice too.)

      1. MissCoco*

        My university started a composting program for grad students this week!
        I have small pets, and I’m so excited to no longer have to throw out the compostable bedding and hay they use

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Here we have to contract with a vendor for waste pickup, and I have so little I take it to the transfer station instead. I am gleeful every time my biofuels drop-off bucket is heavier than my trash bag. (“Like today!” she says happily.)
        In pandemic, the transfer station run has become the surprise highlight of my week… enough so that I *completely* understand this little twitter ad from the UK
        https://twitter.com/RichardHammond/status/1355101668434653184

      3. GoryDetails*

        Good news on the food-waste collection; hope it works out! (I have a yard large enough to host some slow compost heaps, so my own food waste never gets into the trash at all, but in areas without that kind of space it’d be great to send the peels and eggshells and whatnot to be composted.)

    7. detaill--orieted*

      The rattle coming from my car turned out to be a plastic bag stuck to a heat shield. I’m helping out my mom in not my current city, and about to drive back, so dealing with anything real would have been an extra pain. Just thinking about pulling off that bag makes me happy!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I love when those problems turn out to be silly little things – I refer to it as “situations where I’m glad to feel a little dumb.” I had a repair guy in like three days before my refrigerator’s warranty ended because it kept ticking – turns out that the fan was blowing the safety label on the cord and it was ticking against the back of the fridge, solved with three inches of duct tape. And the number of times I called AAA because my old car (with an automatic transmission) wouldn’t start only to realize as the dude showed up that it was in gear… but I’d rather feel silly than actually have the major problems. :)

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      Reading AAM, especially the Friday Good News! Having been isolated with my family for so long now, knowing that there are reasonable adults somewhere out in the world is such a relief!

    9. Mimmy*

      My little joys are usually all work related, otherwise I’d participate more.

      Shows you that I really need to pay more attention to non-work/school joys ;)

    10. Come On Eileen*

      My little joy was this – a handyman came to my condo to fix a few things. He had a hard time opening my gate because the gate door is slightly mis-aligned with the rest of the gate. Anyway, he left after about an hour and I spotted him eyeballing the gate as he left, and tinkering with it a bit. When I walked outside the next morning, the gate opened and closed WITH EASE. He apparently decided to fix it for me as he left, and I am forever grateful for small kindnesses like this one.

    11. Frankie Bergstein*

      Lots of virtual evening get-togethers (via Zoom) with different community groups this week — professional support group, neighborhood association, creative hobby class, local artists. It feels good to be connected to folks beyond besties and families right now.

      I also made tasty savory pancakes!

    12. Coenobita*

      My aunt just sent me an email titled “Fox News” and I was like, oy, what now – but it turned out that it was updates on the (actual, living) fox who hangs out in her yard, and she meant the subject line as a joke. It made me smile.

    13. Joan Rivers*

      Side note: If you’re at all interested, you may find a lot of joy in making your own necklace, too.

      There’s something so centering and calming about going to the bead store and letting the colors and shapes go past your eyes. And playing with the placement of the beads.
      OR taking apart old jewelry from family. I’ve found parts from dated costume jewelry that I turned into earrings.

      WARNING: This can be addictive. I made earrings to go w/a watch I had, from metal shapes that I just twisted to connect to each other. Got me hooked.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        We got my teenager jewelry making supplies for Christmas, and as she’s cleaning her room she’s been making earrings out of some tiny bits of what used to be clutter. I was dubious but by pulling a few pieces as jewelry, she’s been able to let go some broken childhood treasure so I’ve come around. (One guess what she’ll be getting in her Valentine’s Day card.)

        1. Joan Rivers*

          Dated costume jewelry can have good parts you can use.
          And all it takes is finding one “medallion” or center piece at a bead shop to hang on a string of beads or a cool chain — suddenly you have a statement necklace.

          Those of us who collected rocks and agates as kids find we come back to it w/crystals, too.

          1. Kuododi*

            One of the best purchases I made was I a few years ago when DH and I were browsing through local antique/ thrift shops. The manager had acquired 2 gallon sized freezer bags full of scrap pieces of jewelry. She and I talked for a while and I was able to take both bags off her hands for $3. I had a field day creating new treasures out of the scrap.

            Kuododi

            1. Joan Rivers*

              Cool. I hit a garage sale closing up and they gave me some things, even.
              Bead shops have pendants you can just attach to a necklace and all of a sudden it’s a statement piece. But old necklaces have pendants too.
              You can entwine one string of beads around another, too. Or attach things onto existing earrings.
              You DON’T have to be an intricate “beader” — that’s what’s fun! If you’re creative you can just learn to put things together. I’m pretty clumsy, don’t sew, etc., but w/a small tool I can pull a ring apart that attaches one thing to another.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The big one: I moved a CD player into my home office! Why did it take me so long to remember I am no longer in an open office and can play music without headphones again? It was good timing because old favorites on repeat made this week’s craziness so much easier to navigate — and it has given me incentive to get a head start on the incoming tax paperwork. (Surprise side benefit, it helps my family remember to close the door between my space and theirs so we didn’t distract each other as much either.)
      The little one: Cornstarch snow. There’s a sound that snow makes when you walk on it around 15°F/-10°C, and I’m going to bundle up and go for as long a walk as the temperature will allow.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I started enjoying music again recently after a lull — I was more down than I realized, I guess, and would play music in the car but not at home. Then it came back and I feel more like me now.
        Though I’m still playing songs from my “Care Package” — ones saved on my computer I know always cheer me — old R&B, quirky songs I save.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          A “Care Package” is something I create for myself for when I’m down. I know what I like — when I open it up it feels like a present to me.

          There’s one of SONGS. And there can be one of Essential Oils for the BATH, along w/candles.

          There can be one in the KITCHEN and one in the LIQUOR CABINET too. My recent buy was some Rose’s Lime Juice and organic hazelnuts, to make a Vodka Gimlet. It’s just stuff I gather and set aside for a treat.

          There are websites I think of as “care packages” too — ones I don’t go to that often but then remember.

    15. TL -*

      I got a sticker book full of random days of celebration – Daisy Day, cupcake day, ballet day, etc…

      I’m doing all of them this year. Gonna have to get creative for some of them but it’s genuinely been a bright spot in 2021.

    16. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Finishing off a bit of cross stitch in my ‘work in progress’ pile that’s been there for over 3 years. I’d forgotten how to do french knots so had just left it! Found some YouTube instructions and finally got it done (a Babel fish from HHGTTG)

    17. Alaska_Blue*

      I lightly broke my leg on January 9, meaning no cast or surgery, just a brace. A friend loaned me a shower chair, which was nice, but after seeing my orthopedic PA on Wednesday, who encouraged me to only wear the brace when outside the house, on Friday and Saturday I took my showers standing up! I feel so much less broken and showering is not a chore any longer!

      1. Dee*

        I’m very glad you are feeling better emotionally!

        If anyone else needs to read this, feel free to use assistive devices without shame, they aren’t indicative of brokenness.

        1. JLP*

          I agree with Dee regarding assistive devices. I broke my left leg (tibula and fibula) right before Thanksgiving 2020 and had to have surgery to fix the break. I came home from the hospital with a walker and assistive device for the toilet. Bought a shower seat which was the best purchase I could ever have done. 10 weeks later I am now showering standing up and use the shower seat for balance. The assistive device for the toilet is now gone and I am starting to weight bear on my left leg. It’s all good!!

    18. Woolly Jumper*

      I had been making pour-over coffee since my coffee maker broke 2 years ago and I finally bought a new one! It’s programmable so I can have fresh coffee already made when I wake up! I realize this is not new technology and I have no idea why I dragged my feet so much on this $40 purchase but it is great.

    19. Crop Tiger*

      My Christmas cactus is blooming. Again. It’s very enthusiastic and blooms throughout the year but for some reason this last year it’s been particularly…bloomy. Which has been nice.

      I also saw a bobcat in my backyard.

    20. The Other Dawn*

      I lost five pounds this week! I’ve gained quite a bit of weight and it’s been really hard to get my nutrition on track from the train wreck that was 2020. My trainer now works with a company that does virtual training and nutrition and he told me about a 12 week challenge they’re doing. They’re picking five people to get the whole program for free (virtual personal training and nutritional plan) and document their progress along the way (Instagram, online interviews, etc.) Anyone can enter, though, without being considered for one of the five spots. I entered (video submissions, “before” pictures, and some small essay questions) and I’ll know Monday if I’m one of the five. Even if I don’t get picked, I’m still doing the challenge–I need the accountability and the strict nutritional regimen. The best part is I don’t have to pay for the meal planning, which is a nice bonus. He started my meal plan this past week and it’s amazing how much better I feel now that I’m eating real food and not Jalapeno Cheddar Cheetos all the time; it got really bad last year with the Cheetos!

    21. Potatoes gonna potate*

      A friend turned me on to California Cold Co Coffee and I am hooked. One of the best tasting coffee I’ve ever had, better than Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. My new neighborhood has DD in abundance, and the nearest starbucks is 20 minute drive away, so I’ was missing good coffee.

    22. Might Be Spam*

      Today we had a Skype birthday party lunch with our son who lives out of state. This year, we celebrated all our holidays with our son for the first time in 10 years. It took a pandemic for us to find a way to spend more time with far-off family, rather than assuming that if we didn’t meet in person, we couldn’t meet at all. Most of us are comfortable with technology and it’s a bit embarrassing that we didn’t take advantage of it until now.

    23. Seeking Second Childhood*

      New one to add, courtesy of the CBC —
      Something I recently learned to love (Bhangra) combined with something I’ve loved my whole life (Celtic music).
      “Bhangra dancing to Celtic music in the Yukon wilderness is the mash-up we didn’t know we needed!”
      Video caption : “Gurdeep Pandher Bhangra dances to Celtic music
      Bhangra dancing to Celtic music may not seem like an obvious pairing, but for Yukon’s Gurdeep Pandher, who loves to blend unexpected genres, the two art forms are a great fit.”
      https://mobile.twitter.com/CBC/status/1355274527509524483

    24. Kimmy Schmidt*

      For the first time in who knows how long, I read a book where I felt like I couldn’t put it down. It was actually one of Alison’s recommendations from a few weeks ago called Hench, about supervillains and their very normal support staff. The ending was sad, but I devoured the book. It was nice to read for fun again!

      1. ampersand*

        I am also reading Hench, and I’m now slightly sad to hear the ending is sad, ha. But same—this is the first book I’ve been able to read in a long time. Like years. It’s weird to go from being a voracious reader to not being able to concentrate on a book, and I’m so glad to have one I’m enjoying and will finish!

    25. ampersand*

      After not being able to wear earrings for 20+ years because of (what I assume are metal) allergies, I finally found some I’m not allergic to! Turns out 100 percent sterling silver is the answer; I just didn’t think to try it before now. Yay!

    26. GoryDetails*

      A nice little joy today during the family Zoom – got to see a tour of my 20-something nephew’s new apartment. It still startles me a bit to see the niblings doing real “adulting”, as the time when they were toddlers playing tag in my yard seems like just yesterday… Seeing them all have serious conversations about hanging curtains and where to get a decent table and what to do with out-of-date computers was really charming!

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        I should add that I am VERY high risk; heart disease, diabetes, and 65. I waited until legit eligible to schedule my dose, which was NOT easy. My county sucks, so I got the shot at a grocery store pharmacy. I know there was a discussion about this, and people feeling some type of way about folks getting shots before them (I was one of those). But I had been looking forward to a vaccine since the pandemic began, and was getting anxious about the short supply and inability to schedule an appointment, especially with new variants being discovered. I’ve restricted my life as much as I can, so the shot gave me hope that maybe one day I can live again, and all of you too. Hoping the new administration’s use of the Defense Production Act will quickly speed up vaccine production so that everyone who wants to be vaccinated can be.

    27. SweetestCin*

      My little joy over the weekend was having a spare hour to go on a date with spouse! Outdoor hot cocktails under a beach umbrella in 22*F weather with lightly falling snow :) (No indoor dining here…but the little winery near me has a patio with giant beach umbrellas and picnic tables…bring your own blanket!)

  2. Kali*

    Has anyone watched any interesting movies?

    I’m rewatching Compliance atm. It’s about the staff at a fast food restaurant recieving a call from someone claiming to be a police officer saying a cashier has stolen something. Staff are persuaded to strip search her and it escalates from there, purely based on what this guy on the phone is saying. The most interesting thing about it is it’s based on a true story. It sounds absolutely bonkers that anyone would go that far (it ends in assault, don’t want to be too explicit) based on a stranger’s word, but they DID. The filmmakers do a really great job in showing us how people are persuaded to go along with it. The manager, who is most taken in, is having a stressful day and she’s already inclined to think badly of the cashier. We can also see her memory shift – she says the officer has described the cashier “exactly” and knew her name, when all he actually said was “blonde” and “yes, Rebecca” after the manager volunteers “you mean Becky?”. We also see the manager agree to one thing – “just check her bag” – which then slices to another thing. Finding nothing in her bag becomes “wow, the stolen money must really be hidden, now we need to check her clothes”. And the caller says this as if the next step is obvious, and because the manager has already agreed to check the bag, she seems to feel obligated to keep going because she’s already agreed the cashier might be guilty. And then, as she gets further and further in, what the caller’s saying HAS to be true, because if it’s not, she’s done really awful things. It’s chilling. Not gory or explicit in any way, but chilling because it makes this absurd scenario plausible.

      1. Green great dragon*

        Isn’t it weird how memories work? Haven’t dared recommend a book to my Dad since he politely said ‘not my sort of thing’ about one, and then I reread it, and I have been mentally cringing ever since.

        1. Kali*

          I think I was actually remembering “did not trigger me” and the rewatch reminded me it could definitely trigger someone else!

    1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      I watched Melvin Goes to Dinner a little while ago and loved it. It’s one of those twisty, dialogue-based films that doesn’t play out at all like you think it will. I can’t explain it without ruining the joy of watching it. But it’s super charming in that humany-humans way, and how the story unfolds is just superb storytelling. One of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.
      Curious to know if anyone else has recommendations along similar lines?

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      I recently saw Aces High, a 1976 film with Malcolm McDowell. There is a truism that it is impossible to make an anti-war film, because it will always end up glorifying war. Aces High makes a valiant attempt. It is a WWI flying film. It opens in October of 1916 with ace pilot and frightfully young Malcolm McDowell on leave, speaking to his school about how they are beating the Huns and he just hopes it lasts long enough for them to get in on it. Then it cuts to a year later, when Peter Firth as one of those schoolboys just out of pilot training. He pulled some strings to get assigned to McDowell’s unit, having a serious case of hero worship. He finds McDowell and the rest of the pilots all coping poorly in various ways with PTSD, not that it is called that, of course. The rest of the film covers about one week, accurately reflecting the survival rate. It doesn’t look like fun. On the other hand the flying scenes, even with frankly cheesy production values, are cool. So I give it a B as an anti-war film.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I think this is an adaptation of the classic WWI play Journey’s End by RC Sherriff, which is something most UK children have to study in school.

      1. Dee*

        I was going to say this if nobody had already.

        I find Derren Brown’s stuff on human nature quite fascinating. I found The Push to be uncomfortably intense but worthwhile to watch.

        1. Kali*

          Oh, I have seen that!

          I liked his interview process for finding candidates. I can see how I would be thinking, oh, I must have missed an instruction about the bell. But then, I’m pretty sure – though I’ve never been in the situation – that I would just say “Bernie couldn’t make it” and give the speech as myself.

    3. Sleepless*

      This was indeed based on a true story. I vaguely remember an SVU episode about this; I even want to say Robin Williams was in it.

    4. Mimmy*

      A few days ago, my husband and I watched Case 39 with Reese Witherspoon. Reese is a social worker in a child services agency. One case is a 10-year old girl who her parents tried to kill (I came into the movie late so I didn’t get the entire back story). When they can’t find a foster placement, Reese’s character fights to have the girl live with her until a family can be found. In the beginning, the girl is all shy and clingy. As the movie progresses though, it becomes more and more clear why her parents wanted to get rid of her. The movie is incredibly creepy!!!

    5. My Brain Is Exploding*

      We watched “The Dig”on Netflix, based on a true story about an archaeology find in Suffolk, England in 1939. We saw part of what they found in the British Museum in the 90s.

      1. Squeakrad*

        We’ve been enjoying a mix of old and newer movies ourselves. In no particular order:

        1. The villages. A documentary about the 55 and over retirement community in Florida. It’s funny, sad, heartbreaking and ultimately a dose of real life without getting too maudlin.
        2. Champagne for Caesar. A really silly old movie about a $64,000 question type of game show it gets averted by an academic who has no other talents other than being able to remember odd bits of data.
        3. Re-watching the movies with Kate Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.Really enjoyed Adam’s rib and Woman of the year, Pat and Mike a little less so.
        4. The man who invented Christmas.Although it’s after the holiday, we watched it recently and while it’s not a perfect movie it’s a fascinating take on how Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. Written by Susan Coyne, who is also known for acting in and writing slings and arrows, the fabulous Canadian series about a Toronto-based Shakespeare troupe.
        5. While I’m at it, if you can get slings and arrows – it was on YouTube for a while, then not, then back – it’s a three season series about a Shakespeare group in Toronto that goes through every kind of machination to save the theater. Wonderful acting, beautiful writing and funny as all get out.

      2. MysteryFan*

        Watched The Dig last night.. it definitely moves at a leisurely pace, but it really beautiful in lots of ways!

    6. movies*

      I really only watch three movies whenever I feel the itch to watch a movie (which isn’t often).

      The Fifth Element
      Legally Blonde
      Moana

      height of cinema

      1. LeeLoo Dallas Has Great Hair*

        The Fifth Element is the best! The scene at the end when Ruby Rhod is having issues with his device always crack me up :D

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Moana is genuinely one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Characters, story, visuals, everything. I love Legally Blonde too but more as just a really good comedy than the overall …artistry?

        1. Kali*

          I like the musical. It takes all the good bits of Legally Blonde and turns them up to 11. Which is what the movie did for the book!

    7. Uranus Wars*

      I’ve been watching a bunch lately, not sure what you have access to stream..but some good, some bad. Some new, some older – but these are the ones I enjoyed.

      On The Rocks (Apple TV)
      A Simple Favor (Apple TV)
      On the Basis of Sex (Prime)
      Pelican Brief (Prime)
      Greyhound (Apple TV)
      Someone Great (Netflix)
      The Sleep Over (Netflix)

      1. Sagewhiz*

        Oh definitely put The Prom (Netflix) on the must-see list! Meryl Streep, James Cordon, an actual musical (!!!), and so outrageously funny I had to stop for tissues. Finding it also qualifies as my little joy for the week

    8. Filosofickle*

      We watch lots of movies. Ones we liked recently:
      Hector and the Search for Happiness: A disillusioned therapist decides he isn’t really helping his clients and goes on a trip around the world to get out of his rut
      Trumbo: Dramatization of the true story of communist blacklisting in Hollywood
      Dead Poets Society: Old fav, the themes of finding yourself and seizing the day always get me in the feels
      The Dressmaker: A woman sent away as a child comes back home to Australia in 1951 to uncover the secret of her banishment and get quite a bit of revenge while looking fabulous. If you like vintage fashion, it’s a dream.
      The Nice Guys: Fun 1970s LA detective caper. Who knew Russell Crowe could be so funny?
      Pride: A charming true tale about solidarity between gay activists and striking British miners in 1984

    9. Yellow Warbler*

      Just watched “Big Ass Spider!” on Crackle and loved it. It has the one guy from Heroes.

      1. redwinemom*

        Just watched “The Dig” (2021) on Netflix.
        This bittersweet tale of the discovery and unearthing of a wooden ship from the Dark Ages while digging up a burial ground on a woman’s estate. This film takes place in England on the eve of the second world war. Gentle charm.

    10. Tired of Covid-and People*

      Thought provoking movie with the inimitable Ann Dowd. Definitely a cautionary tell about the risks of too easily deferring to authority.

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this thread is not limited to fiction writing.
    I’m currently dealing with a character whom I designed to be one way but turned out completely different, so back I go to adjust everything…

    1. Kali*

      About, God, 17 years ago, a friend and I began writing a comic. We fell out 12 years ago and, as far as I know, neither of us finished it.

      It was about a 16-year old girl, Maria, who lived in a small town. Her best male friend, Robert, was the archtypal boy next door. Son of the local chief of police, intended to grow up to follow in his dad’s footsteps. He and Maria had been friends since toddler-hood. Maria’s best female friend, Adelaide, didn’t really get on with Robert. She and Maria went to an all-girl’s secondary school, where they’d met (at age 11) so the friendships were very separate.

      Robert had always thought he would grow up to marry Maria. He thought they had time. He never talked about this, he just assumed it would happen someday. He didn’t like Adelaide because she took Maria’s time and attention. Adelaide was also a little bit in love with Maria. She, Adelaide, had realised she was a lesbian but wasn’t out. She was pretty sure Maria wasn’t gay, though she hoped a bit. She was waiting till she was older and living in a big city before she began exploring. She didn’t like Robert because she knew about Robert’s feelings and resented that he had a better chance than her to act on them. Maria is a very young sixteen and has no idea about any of this, at all.

      The story was about one summer in their lives. The first significant event was JC coming to town. He had a motorbike and talked a big game about being independent, but we, the readers, know all his money comes from a family account and he’s still very much being supported. He’s not intentionally lying, he’s just 17 and doesn’t understand that being independent means more than just not being at home. Maria likes him. It’s the first inkling of her beginning to have and explore romantic feelings, though she’s not quite ready to act on them.

      The rest of it would have been about all the subtle drama and emotions Maria could not pick up on, and the conversations of three people, all wanting to push towards a specific outcome, none of whom are quite willing to show their hand. Robert knows Maria has feelings for JC and hates it. JC sees straight through Robert AND Adelaide. JC and Adelaide don’ t see one another as a threat. Or rather, Adelaide does see JC as a threat, but realises that if Maria isn’t gay that isn’t JC’S fault. Plus, she vastly prefers him to Robert, because she thinks Robert will trap her friend in a small life.

      I’m the background would be all these scenes of a gang causing trouble. The story would end with Robert and JC getting into a fight, falling into a river, and drowning. Maria and Adelaide sit in Afelaide’s room listening to a news report which ascribes their deaths to another example of escalating gang activity.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Yes, I was following along and perusing the visuals inside my head. Sounds like a graphic novel.
          Could you and your former friend patch things up enough to complete the project? The pandemic gives you a perfect reason to collaborate remotely.

      1. RagingADHD*

        It would be interesting to see what there is in Maria’s personality (other than childlike obliviousness) that has captivated these three people, who are apparently far more more mature and self-aware than she is.

        What goal is Maria pursuing, while everyone else is pursuing her?

        1. Kali*

          Mostly, she wants to date JC and figure out her feelings and what they mean, and would love it if her best friends could both get along and be happy for her and stop being moody and confusing.

        2. Kali*

          I don’t know if being a teenage girl was like this for everyone, but for me there were definitely terrifying, menacing, and ominous moments of sensing people older or more powerful or stronger than me wanting something from me that I was not yet equipped to understand and reading signals I had no idea or intention about. That’s what I wanted to explore. The idea that these strange new feelings were “corrupting” the safe grounds of her childhood friendships, and she had no power over it and no idea it was happening, or even knew she should know.

          As for who she is…well, some of the details we discussed were her worries over not being as pretty as Adelaide, her enjoyment over her burgeoning romance with JC, and how she’d hoped to spend the summer bringing Robert and Adelaide together as friends while neither were willing to be honest about why that wouldn’t happen. I know she has a job as a waitress and hadn’t really thought about what she wanted to study or do with her life, though she had a vague idea uni was in her future. She was very of-the-moment and kept her thoughts very close to the surface.

          I guess what she gave the other three was peace. They didn’t have to second guess her, she never had any ulterior motives. For Robert and Adelaide, she was safety and home. I think Robert and Adelaide saw who she was and had been (though Robert was more stuck in the past than Adelaide) and JC saw who she was becoming, if that makes sense. Both Robert and Adelaide had ideas about who they wanted her to be, based on who she had been when they met, but JC didn’t have those memories, he was starting from now.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, I definitely had that, but much earlier than 16. When I was a kid I was a bit of a tomboy and all my best friends were boys. I didn’t get on with girls at all, they seemed to always prefer my younger sister.
            So it was a shock when I discovered around 13 or 14 that boys didn’t want to be friends with me anymore. My feelings were also complicated by mostly unrequited crushes on the boys I knew…

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      I have an invitation from an academic press to submit a proposal this spring for a history of early baseball. I want to have several chapters complete by then. I am finishing up the first draft of chapter two and have started chapter three. This will bring us up to the 1840s.

    3. Laura H.*

      My plot bunnies live! And just… giving one character near carte blanc to ask anything and receive an open and honest answer out of someone who is not known for openness is such a good but daunting exercise. I’m happy with it so far.

    4. Grace*

      Mostly still just writing fanfiction, because it’s such a comfort blanket when there’s not much else fun going on right now. I’m in a couple of fandom Discord servers filled with other incredible writers, and I’d forgotten since leaving school (the last time I really felt comfortable openly talking about my writing) how refreshing it is to have a ready-made community built around creativity like that.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Revisions going so smoothly on client project 1 that I’m nervously waiting for the other shoe to drop. At this point we should be ready for beta readers by end of February.

      Client 2 is still AWOL. I was hoping to have the manuscript on that one drafted before Christmas, but we can’t move forward until she resurfaces.

      I get to start interviewing Client 3 on Monday, so that will start ramping up with short samples to calibrate voice & tone.

      My novel #3 is still languishing. Just don’t have the brainspace.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I spent all day yesterday doing a big dialogue edit for one character in Confluence (the sequel to Tunerville). Also, the new instructor in the CompTIA training taught high school physics, and he agreed to do a quick review of the science in the book, since I only have a very tenuous and Star Trek-level understanding of the subject.

      Also working on the conlang. I just started on verbs. It’s a very tense exercise. ;) *badumtss*

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        A local creative writing group has just started promoting their workshops. I had a look on their website, and it said “Become a member”. So I checked how to join, and it turns out you need to be referred by an existing group member. Since I have no idea who the members are, I think I won’t be joining.

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual, this is not limited to video games, so feel free to talk about board games and phone games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered childhood favourite.
    A bit of a different spin on the thread this week based on something that showed up in one of my social media feeds: have you ever had a game that looks like it should be right up your alley but for some reason just didn’t click with you? I kind of have that with Animal Crossing and Dark Souls. In the case of Animal Crossing my main problem is the real-time aspect of it, but in the case of Dark Souls I can’t quite out my finger on it.

    1. Still*

      Have you played Stardew Valley? I haven’t played Animal Crossing but it seems to have a similar vibe and it’s not in real time!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I have! Also a big fan of the series Stardew Valley is an homage to (Bokujo Monogatari, which used to be localised as Harvest Moon but due to copyright shenanigans is now called Story of Seasons). It’s how I first got interested in Animal Crossing but…yeah, not for me.

        1. Katrin*

          I think Sakuna came out a few months ago and has good reviews. Seems to be like Rune Factory but with a traditional Japanese style. Has anyone played it themselves?

          Although not quite the same, I’ve really loved playing Stonehearth. It’s a town/city builder with a 3d pixel aesthetic. Max number of villagers is 50 and each have their own traits so although they’re randomly generated they do have their own personalities. It’s a little resource intensive but very charming.

          1. Holly the spa pro*

            Ive played through Sakuna and it is so so fun. I wouldnt say it is like Rune Factory per se. Only in so far as there is a farming apsect and fighting aspect but the feel of each is very different.
            I definitely recommend it though. It is charming, the combat is really fun and the rice farming is really engaging although intimidating at first. I liked playing around with different armor and attack set ups and figuring out the nuance to the rice farming. Going back and forth between the fighting and farming gave a nice balance and made the game less grind-y. I played it obsessively for weeks. 10/10

      2. Holly the spa pro*

        I recommend this here all the time but if you like Stardew Valley ans Harvest Moon, check out Rune Factory 4. It is available on the switch now but was previously a 3ds game and has a blend of farm sim and dungeon crawler. Rune factory 5 is coming out this year and im so pumped.

        1. Katrin*

          I really enjoyed RF4, I didn’t manage to finish it but I’d definitely consider RF5 when it comes out.

    2. Onebitcpu*

      I’m playing through the Mass Effect trilogy again, and play The Division 2 bi-weekly fridays with friends.
      I also run a Dungeons and Dragons game Wednesday nights online. That has been going since July last year.

      I’ve run into 2 games lately that i tried and put down. Maneater where you play a shark, I just couldn’t stans the control scheme. Mobile Suit Gundam space battles, i couldnt get the hang of navigating in space.

      Control is free on playstation next month, and it is on my list of games i would play if it wasnt $60

    3. Decidedly Me*

      This was a ways back, but there was a game called Dewy’s Adventure for Wii. You played a dew drop that could freeze or turn to mist, if I recall, to get through different levels. I thought the concept was really interesting, but remember barely playing any of it. I don’t recall the exact reason why, though – maybe that it was just really boring?

    4. Nicki Name*

      I’m trying out Opus Magnum. It’s similar to SpaceChem (in fact, by the same people) but the game system is working a lot better for me– partly, I think, because in this one they’re using their own invented system of chemistry.

    5. Vistaloopy*

      I am finally (haha) playing Final Fantasy XV, and loving it! I bought it 4 years ago (hard copy for PS4) about a month before my daughter was due, but she decided to show up early, so I never got the chance! Now that she’s 4, I’m learning how to reclaim my gaming time, and man this game is great! I have always loved the Final Fantasy series.

    6. Nessun*

      Trying to muster the interest to finish the current story for Guild Wars 2. I’m not impressed bu the Dragon Missions, they’re rather repetitive, but I like the storyline. Just holding on for the next expac, really…Cantha!!

    7. MEH*

      Hello! Souls fan here. I played the first game, finished it, hated it and thought I was done with it. I replayed it before the sequel came out and started appreciating it more. By the time the DS III came out, I was a complete fan of the series. DS III is now my favorite game of all time. I can certainly understand why it’s a miss for people, though!

      In a similar vein, Bloodborne and Sekiro by the same developer, FromSoft, are both excellent games that aren’t quite my jam because they’re much faster paced. Whereas I’ve played all the Souls games multiple times, I’ve only finished BB and Sekiro once each.

      I have a whole genre I really want to like, but don’t. Point-and-clicks, specifically detective/murder mystery point-and-clicks. I’ve tried about a dozen of them, hoping to like them because I love reading murder mysteries, but al of them have fallen flat, except Paradise Killer by Kaizen Game Works. I adore that game, but I had to quit playing because of first-person nausea. I couldn’t tweak it enough to make it tolerable, sadly.

      Finally, I really, really wanted to like Nioh (Team Ninja) because it’s a Soulslike, but it just missed the mark for me. It had the uncanny valley effect of being very close to the real thing, but not close enough.

      1. NiceOrc*

        Agree with the first-person pov nausea. I have just bought What became of Edith Finch, and am enjoying it, but can only play for 10 minutes or so at a time. (Which is probably not a bad thing!) I’m also playing Stardew Valley, which is fun.

    8. RagingADHD*

      We checked out a new cooperativd game in the “Forbidden Island” series. This one’s called Forbidden Sky, and it looks like they’re branching out into some different gameplay elements. Hoping to get the family playing tonight.

    9. Jackalope*

      Still more Fire Emblem Three Houses! I’m well into Part 2 now, and have racked up around 115 hours of game time. A couple of times I had 2-3 hours of support videos following a bunch of battles. I find the A support videos touching in many cases, so that’s been fun. (Although I was amused that multiple Hubert A support videos [I went the Crimson Flower route, as this comment would indicate] involved someone threatening his life; oh, Hubert!) Also, just had a battle with one of the former monastery house leaders, and was relieved that I had the choice not to kill him at the end of the battle. Still hated fighting former colleagues (and I didn’t find a way around killing his second in command), but I was glad to be able to show mercy. And… I know my characters are just video game characters, but I made a point not to make any of the former members of his house go to that battle so they wouldn’t have to fight their former House mates.

    10. HamlindigoBlue*

      I just finished Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter. A couple of hours ago, I bought Pumpkin Jack. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but it looks like it will be fun.

    11. allathian*

      I’ve been playing chess with my son. He usually beats me hands down. I’ve already asked him to let me play with the white pieces more often, but soon I’m going to have to ask him to spot me a pawn to let me win at least 1 out of 10 games… That said, I love it that we can play chess together.

  5. PrincessB*

    I’m going into week 3 of vegetarianism. I was never interested before but have had to make the switch due to health issues. What are your favorite, quick, savory, vegetarian meals? So far mine are veggie sandwiches ( spinach, cucumber, tomato, onion), sometimes with a soy ‘chicken’ patty, usually not. Or a baked sweet potato with different topping combinations. One thing I’ve found with eating plant based is I get hungry more often. I’m looking for ideas.

    1. anon2*

      Don’t forget to consider things you were probably already eating — pasta, mac and cheese, tomato soup, beans and rice, oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly …

    2. Sandy*

      Broccoli and tofu with peanut butter sauce – love it! If you think you don’t like tofu, try freezing it first as it changes the texture.

      If your getting hungry try adding beans or lentils to dishes – even just adding hummus to your sandwiches will make it more filling. Veggie chilli is very savoury and just as good without the meat.

    3. Kali*

      Chocolate covered Katie and the Happy Herbivore both have good recipes. They’re less relevant because they’re vegan not vegetarian, but you can always sub in dairy or eggs if desired.

    4. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      I find adding a bit of avocado to plant-based dishes helps with feeling satisfied for longer.
      One of my quick quick faves is a green smoothie with a frozen banana, half an avo, handful of spinach and coconut water – that can keep me going almost all day.
      I also put some in açai bowls, and I’ve even added it to warm dishes. It makes pumpkin soup extra creamy and it can be really nice in pasta sauce chopped up and added at the end so it *just* warms through.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Any healthy fat helps (avocado hater here), but so does making sure you’re getting your complex carbs & protein. I always feel full after beans & rice or Indian food.

    5. Oatmeal Baby Bump*

      If you’re getting hungry, I would add healthy fats in the form of nuts, grains, vegetable oils as well as some quantities of cheeses into your dishes. I’m talking cheeses like feta cheese (great with roasted root vegetables in a warm salad), goat cheese (great in salads), paneer. And don’t forget wholegrains on the side in the form of brown rice, bulgur, wholegrain pasta etc. Beans and lentils are also cornerstones for most of my vegetarian friends’ diets. They give you protein, keep you full for longer and are so versatile.

      Also: Indian cuisine. If you don’t like the spice, you can lower the amounts of spices used but Indian dishes are really some of the most amazing vegetarian foods in the world. I love palak paneer, aloo gobi, chana masala, paneer makhani.. There’s a lot of variety, a lot of simple, affordable ingredients like potatoes, chickpeas, cauliflower used and usually the preparation doesn’t take that long. You do need some spices in the cupboard to get the flavors right but you can also buy spice mixes. They also make for great work lunches! I remember eating chana masala with basmati rice for 4 days in a row at work after cooking a big patch on Sunday, and not being tired of it.

      1. Clementine*

        Seconding the healthy fats to help with feeling full. Adding hummus or avocado to the veggie sandwich you mentioned.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Gosh yes — I’m a confirmed omnivore but vegetarian Indian food is so incredibly diverse, flavorful, and creative that you could cook a different AMAZING veg Indian dish three days a week and not run out of options for a decade, and probably lower your grocery bill a ton in the process. Nav ratan korma, saag paneer, tarka dal are all favorites around here.

    6. Anono-me*

      I try to make up a big pot of “lots of” beans soup every few weeks. (I freeze some for weeks 2 & 3) It is pretty versatile and it seems to fill people up.

      There are lots of good recipes, but mine is a handful of this and a pinch of that so I don’t have a good recipe to share. You might also like the ham beans brand 15 bean soup mix to start with (I think the seasoning package is ‘ham flavor’ not ‘ham’.).

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        A friend makes a great vegetarian navy bean soup, with sourdough bread, Cheddar cheese cubes, and sliced apples on the side. It’s a filling and delicious meal, and she won’t give me the recipe. Maybe she uses that brand…

    7. Erika22*

      – Burrito bowls are fast and easy to customize
      – veggie tacos
      – veggie stuffed peppers
      – simple bean/cheese/rice burritos and freeze some so you can eat them quickly as needed
      – ramen and udon noodles tossed with peanut sauce/other sauce and veggies
      – lentil and sweet potato curry – sounds complicated but it’s really just tossing the ingredients in and letting them simmer for ~30 until soft. You can add paneer too!
      – Japanese curry is fast if you use the curry blocks – I cook some zucchini/carrots/potatoes, make instant rice, make the sauce, voila
      – veggie chili
      – Korean pancakes (jeon)
      – falafel wraps
      – get some frozen veggie burgers to have on hand, then you can use these as filling in tacos, on salad, or for their intended burger purpose!

      General tip – I add Greek yogurt as a topping/dip for extra protein (when it fits – like in a wrap or as a substitute for sour cream) – it’s very versatile!

    8. AcademiaNut*

      The trick is to have something that protein heavy and filling, to replace the meat – just veggies and starch is likely to leave you hungry quickly. Some of my favourite veggie main courses:

      Chana masala – hearty chickpea curry with a tomato based gravy.
      Mixed vegetable sambar – vegetables cooked in a flavourful lentil broth (seasoned with a coriander heavy spice blend and tamarind paste)
      Rice and dhal. There’s a reason it’s a staple meal in India :-)
      Shakushka – a thick tomato, onion and pepper based sauce, with eggs baked into the top. Serve with bread or pitas to mop up the juice.
      Bean and cheese burritos or enchiladas.
      Pitas stuffed with falafels or lentil patties and vegetables
      Mushroom spinach quiche

      There’s a vegetarian place near work that does good rice bowls – brown rice, tempeh, kimchii, seaweed, baby corn, shredded carrot and a sesame dressing.

      Also, a lentil patty that I really like
      – soak red lentils for about 4 hours in cold water
      – meanwhile, sautee a similar volume of mushrooms and onions
      – drain, toss everything in a food processor with salt, garlic, fresh basil, lemon juice , and just enough water to turn it into a paste. It will still be very soft but will firm up while cooking.
      – spoon a patty’s worth into a lightly oiled non stick pan on medium heat, cook until browned on both side and cooked through. Use like falafels in pita, or as a burger base, or by itself. They freeze well.
      – it’s a pretty flexible recipe – you just need enough of the soaked lentils to bind things (all lentils works too), and whatever seasoning you like.

    9. Lena Clare*

      I love Sasha Gill’s Blackfruit & Blue Ginger cookbook. It’s plant based. I think it’s called something different in the U.S. It has loads of great recipes in. One of my favourites is the ‘butter chicken’ (I use shop-bought ‘chicken’), and the peddler’s noodles.
      I love veggie lasagne or bolognaise with pea mince.
      I make a tomato sauce with onion, carrot, and garlic fried in olive oil, then tinned tomatoes, stock, tomato purée, white wine, dried mixed herbs and dried basil, reduced down, then add the cooked mince. It’s very tasty and can be frozen easily.

      I also make homemade coleslaw a lot – grated carrot and cabbage with vegan mayo. It’s very nice in a toasted pita with some sweet chili sauce, and with or without vivera ‘kebab meat’ or falafel.

    10. Garden Pidgeons*

      I find gnocchi really useful for this, because it cooks quite quickly – something like https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/gnocchi-courgette-mascarpone-spring-onions or gnocchi with a tin of tomatoes and ricotta combined into a sauce with some olives.

      The raqaq u addas recipe from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/may/29/yotam-ottolenghi-bethlehem-recipes-broad-beans-maftoul-lentils-chicken-stew is also a go-to quick dinner staple.

      For WFH lunches, though, I’ll normally just boil some filled pasta, or have packet soup with some bread.

    11. Oui oui*

      A few times a week, this is my go-to: I mix a half can of pinto beans with a half avocado, one tomato, several green onions, plus salt and garlic powder. It’s delicious and filling!

    12. SoulToast*

      Black bean soup
      2 cans black beans (rinsed), 1 can vegetable stock, 1 cup Salsa, 1-2 tsp cumin, blend and heat. Top as you like with Tortilla chips, green onions, avocado, sour cream and cheese. Super easy to make and tastes great.

    13. Loopy*

      This suggestion may not really be super quick but I’ve been vegetarian for 10 years and hate cooking (and think about meals) so I get subscription meal boxes for vegetarian meal ideas. Almost all of the popular ones have vegetarian options and often I’ll scout out the quicker/easier recipes. It’s been a great super easy way to find and try vegetarian meals. Pretty much all of them offer discounts to start, which helps!

      They aren’t always the healthiest vegetarian meals though, if that’s a consideration.

      1. SuperScout*

        Spouse is vegetarian and I’m not. I did Hello Fresh and, though good, I found that the portions for meatless meals still left me hungry. That seems like a better option for meat eaters. If the meal deliveries that you’ve tried, what’s your favorite?

    14. Legalchef*

      Yeah, it sounds like you need to add protein. I make a chickpea salad all the time that’s super easy and good. Just rinse and drain and can of chickpeas, and add that to a bowl w cucumbers (cut so they are around the same size as the chickpeas), tomatoes, minced red onion, and maybe some diced peppers. Add salt and pepper, drizzle on evoo and red wine vinegar. Mix it up and let it sit for a bit. Often I’ll add some avocado right before I eat.

      This week I made an orzo pasta salad for lunch – orzo, chickpeas, cucumbers, peppers, baby spinach, feta, olives, and a dressing made from evoo, lemon juice, and oregano.

    15. Bobina*

      As others have said, more protein and good fats will probably help with the feeling fuller thing.

      I’m generally bad at quick cooking so I’m more of a batch cook person, but things I like to do are roast a lot of vegetables and then use them in hearty salads throughout the week. Or big stews that can be frozen work well.

      You mentioned sweet potatoes so just thought I’d plug this recipe for twice baked sweet potatoes by Rick Martinez – I havent actually made it but all the reviews from people seem to be good so far and its on my to do list for this weekend hopefully. youtube. com/watch?v=JDEsyKzdYk0

    16. nep*

      Second the suggestions about beans and oils.
      I like to simmer garbanzo beans with cut-up potato–salt, pepper, turmeric, and some coconut oil.
      Do you eat quinoa? It messes with my stomach, otherwise I’d have it often. Nutritious and filling.
      Oatmeal keeps me full for a good while.

    17. Sled dog mama*

      If you are eating eggs/dairy quiche is a great option. You can put many different things in it and it makes enough for several meals.

    18. Not So NewReader*

      Protein is what stays with us. So you may want to consider looking at how much plant protein you are getting per meal. I know this can be a real pain, I worked with a plant based protein drink until I got myself sorted out in my own setting.

      Don’t forget to watch your water intake. Some of those hunger pains may actually be thirst. Getting a regular amount of water into you each day will kick the pangs back some.

    19. Hotdog not dog*

      Farro with chopped veggies…I just had it with broccoli, roasted red peppers, and marinated artichoke hearts. You can add whatever vegetables you like. The Farro has fiber and protein which keeps you feeling satisfied.

    20. Doctor is In*

      I love tempeh. it’s cheap, lots of protein, and like chicken, you can season it with ANYTHING. Microwave a few minutes or put it in the oven for 15 minutes in foil.

    21. Charlotte Lucas*

      Any healthy fat helps (avocado hater here), but so does making sure you’re getting your complex carbs & protein. I always feel full after beans & rice or Indian food.

      Deborah Madison & Madhuri Jaffrey both have great vegetarian cookbooks. I also like Mark Bittmann’s Hot to Cook Everything Vegetarian & America’s Test Kitchen’s Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.
      When

    22. Other Meredith*

      My go to vegetarian meals are all soup. I used to think soup was hard, but it’s actually very easy, just harder than opening a can. If you’re still eating cheese, and chunky vegetable soup with grilled cheese is my favorite vegetarian meal. Just make sure you use veggie broth instead of chicken.

      I also like to make a spicy lentil mixture then put it on a tostada shell with veggies. Very good and filling.

    23. Sooda Nym*

      For a while, while you are adapting, can you “lean in” to that frequent hunger by keeping lots of healthy snacks on hand? A handful of nuts, carrots & hummus, cheese (with or without crackers), hard-boiled eggs, etc.? If you are in situations where it’s hard to eat between meals, this might not work, but otherwise, it may help you be comfortable with experimenting to find meals you like without the worry that you might get hungry too soon.

      My favorite, super-easy meatless meal is a black bean quesadilla (black beans, cheese and salsa between a couple of tortillas – I usually just heat it up in a saute pan). Serve with or without sour cream.

      Also, it’s not super easy, but it makes a lot and re-heats well (so the 2nd and 3rd meal will be easy…) try Smitten Kitchen’s Mushroom Marsala Pasta Bake. I’m not a vegetarian, but my son is, and this is one of his favorites.

      1. PrincessB*

        Thanks so much everyone! I woke up to this wonderful list. I did cook some lentils in week one but I haven’t been diligent about complex carbs and good fats. I’m excited again to add more variety.

      2. Jackalope*

        A friend introduced me to sweet potato burritos which are wonderful. She roasts sweet potatoes (with a seasoning of salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and chili pepper; can be adapted as needed), then cooks them with scrambled eggs (2-3), cheese, and a bit of corn. Eat them in tortillas with some salsa. They are so good! And if you roast 2 sweet potatoes you can eat this all week if you want; that’s the long part, the rest takes pretty much as long as you need to scramble the eggs. And it has some nice oomph.

    24. Mx*

      Add more protein : quinoa (has all the essential amino-acids), lentils, chick peas, kidney beans.
      An important thing is to combine pulses and whole grains together.
      Also omelettes and scrambled eggs will be good to start the day. Add a handful of nuts and seeds every day.
      Add healthy fats for satiety: olive oil, avocado.

    25. MEH*

      I make a veggie fried rice that is pretty easy. Steam the veggies (I use sugar snap peas, broccoli, and mushrooms) and fry already-cooked rice. Then, toss it all together and drizzle soy sauce over it. You can add scrambled eggs on top (I use Just Egg because I’m dairy-free) and it’s a very satisfying meal.

      1. MEH*

        Sorry. The Just Egg is because I’m trying to cut out animal products rather than because I’m dairy-free (which I also am). There’s no dairy in eggs, of course!

        1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

          I love Just Egg! I found out a few years back (at flippin 54!) that I was allergic to eggs. Oh and soy (and and). Just eggs is the only one that I’ve found without soy.
          My fav Just Egg recipe has just a bit of herbs de provence, pepper & (softened) goat cheese. Delish!

    26. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      Add some pesto your sandwiches! Its so good! Or a red (bell) pepper spread. Or an eggplant spread!
      Or slice some eggplant, lightly coat with oil, touch of salt and sauteed or grill. I generally do some red bell and onion while I’m at it. A little pesto, goat cheese, thin sliced cucumber and lettuce/micro greens and yum! My daughter likes hers with sprouts, but I’ve been pescatarian for 40+ years, and for a LONG time every single resteraunt had sprouts in the veg offerings. I even grew them myself (so easy). I am so done with sprouts! Hahahaha!
      Minestroni soup, potato soup, chili,
      (I have a fab veg chili recipe, if you want it).
      Do you still eat fish? Chicken recipes work very well with white fishes. My family is not pesc, so I will make them chicken and me fish using the same recipe. Little tweaks is all you need. Like veg broth instead of a meat broth.

    27. Derivative Poster*

      I agree with a lot of the other comments and recommendations. A few more:
      – Isa Chandra Moskovitz has some great cookbooks. They’re vegan but my omnivore spouse likes a lot of the recipes.
      – Seasoned baked tofu (you can buy premade or make your own) is a good thing to keep on hand. You can add it to sandwiches, salads, etc. to make them more filling.
      – Recently I’ve gotten Daily Harvest deliveries which have helped me eat healthy when I’m busy. If you’re in the USA you might want to look into it.

    28. RagingADHD*

      Black bean “stuff” that can work as burrito filling, a rice bowl, or if made juicier, a soup.

      Super easy and cheap:

      1-2 cans beans
      frozen corn
      frozen spinach
      jar salsa

      I like the proportions of 2 parts beans to about 1 part of each other ingredient, but it’s very flexible. For a filling/topping, drain the beans. For soup, don’t (or add back a can of water).

      Dump everything in a pot and heat on medium-high until it reaches a low boil, stirring frequently. Turn to med-low and simmer until it reaches desired consistency.

    29. Marillenbaum*

      My go-to lazy meal: a chopped sweet potato and sliced Brussels sprouts, seasoned and roasted and topped with a poached egg.
      Also Indian food! I have been learning Bengali cooking lately, and there are so many delicious vegetarian dishes.

    30. Sam I Am*

      I’ll just add 2 things:
      *lentils cook fast, no need to soak, while being the most protein dense plant food.
      *it took about 6 months for me to get used to feeling “full” was not the same as “having meat in my stomach.” They felt totally different to me. Vegetarian since ’94, haven’t missed meat since that initial adjustment. Give yourself time. Good luck!

  6. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

    Plant/gardening thread! How are your green babies doing?

    Keen to hear about anyone’s hits and misses with liquid fertiliser… I’ve given my indoor plants 2 weak feeds this summer (a lot less than the packet instructions!) and some of them are thriving, while others have older leaves yellowing/dropping and/or fresh growth going blackened or mushy since the second feed :(

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I put a small cutting of a succulent in a vase with water on my desk at work, right before the pandemic hit. I brought it home and with everything else going on, it stayed in that little vase with with only water for 10 months. That tenacious plant even managed to grow a few tiny leaves until I finally put it in soil last week. Being all roots and almost nothing else, it’s very happy to at last be able to grow properly.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        Oh, I wouldn’t have thought succulents could propagate in water… interesting to know they can!

    2. Not Australian*

      I’m planning to try ‘patio potatoes’ this year because my raised beds will not be ready in time to plant much before the autumn. (A lot of infrastructure still to do, and the weather at the moment isn’t very encouraging.) I’d be interested to know if anyone on here has experience with them and how successful they were?

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        I haven’t personally, but my former gardening-bestie coworker used to have heavy clay soil, so she’d grow potatoes in hessian bags filled with layers of soil, compost and sugar cane mulch rather than raised beds. They’d grow like mad for her and my mouth is still watering at her descriptions of freshly steamed, homegrown new potatoes with butter and garden herbs!
        After harvesting, she’d break up the hessian and dig the mix into the ground. She’d move her potato patch a bit each harvest, so over time she got enough organic matter into the clay soil so that it could drain and she could plant other things. I thought that was really clever!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I sheepishly admit I never harvested last summer’s accidental potatoes from their planter — optimum harvest time came when I was focused on other things. I consoled myself by deciding to replant them in a bigger and more easily harvested container next year. I’m thinking about a potato tower because it could go on top of the still-rocky parts of the garden terrace I’m slowly reclaiming. I’m glad to hear catmeme’s friend had success with hessian/burlap because that in a wire-fence frame is what looks the easiest for me. Bags tied to fence posts some day — but right now I have no fence.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have to repot my peace lily and pothos this weekend – the peace lily has more roots than soil and she’s floppy and not absorbing well as a result, and I think the pothos is too crowded and showing signs of root rot :(

      I’ve only given one hit of fertilizer to my plants – the bottle says to do once a month and I did New Year’s Day, so a second round is coming up theoretically, but I’ve also read that one shouldn’t fertilize some plants during the winter or more than every 3-4 months so I’m not sure now. :-P

      I ordered my oxalis bulbs so I can plant those in a couple weeks and give them a couple months in the garage; hopefully they should sprout about the time it’s safe to put them outside! My purple pepper seeds are en route, and I have to start pondering what else I want to do in terms of container veg.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        That’s odd about your pothos… you’ve mentioned previously you go light on watering so it’s strange it’s showing signs of rot..? I’m a chronic overwaterer and though I’ve killed several plants that way, pothos has never been one. So I’m really curious to know what you find out when you lift it out to repot it! In either case though it wouldn’t hurt to take a bunch of cuttings early before the rot travels through?

        The liquid fertiliser I bought says to apply every 1-2 weeks through spring and summer. My applications were 6-8 weeks apart starting late spring and more diluted than the recommendation. The anthurium, ficus, crassula and aglaonema are going wild for it but everything else is somewhere between meh and NOPE! My huge philodendrons are hating on me big time :(

        I’ve been following your watering advice on the spider plant since I potted it up and so far so good – even a new shoot :)

        Oh, and oxalis – the faux summer hibernation on mine worked! It sent up a healthy shoot this week, and while it’s just the one leaf so far it’s so worth the effort for the gorgeous foliage.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yeah, I don’t know for sure that that’s the issue with the pothos, but the soil has been moist enough to the touch that I haven’t watered it in probably two and a half weeks, and some of the leaves are still yellowing, and some quick and dirty internet research suggested that the combo of moist soil without recent watering plus yellowing leaves might indicate root rot. But even if the roots are still okay, there’s just so much plant in the pot that it’s hard to get in to feel the soil, so I think it’s probably a little crowded anyway, and I’m def going to try to take a couple cuttings :)

          Yay on your spider plant! My second one (the first baby from the original) is probably going to need a bigger pot soon, I think there’s root tips starting to poke out the drainage hole. I repotted the mama last week because her pot was pretty much solid roots, and she seems to have come through that okay, babies 2&3 are still growing and looking good. :)

          I’m super stoked about the oxalis. I have two different purple types coming, plus a few bulbs for a variant that’s green foliage with purple “crosses” in the middle of the leaf clusters. (I think it’s called iron cross oxalis?)

          1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

            Hm, could it be drainage..? If it’s that overgrown the roots might have blocked the holes..? They’re so hardy though, I’m sure it’ll come back beautifully once you repot it.

            I’d be super excited about the oxalis too, especially getting so many varieties! It took me about 2 years combing nurseries to find ONE… which is why I’m trying so hard to keep it alive! I have the purple triangularis.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I found a toooooon of them in different variants on Etsy, but as I recall you’re down under, yeah? I have no idea if that’s a viable option for you :(

              Both my purple purple ones are triangularis, I guess one is solid purple and the other is … purple and dark purple? I figure I’ll mix them all up in the two pots and hopefully have a good and appealing assortment :)

              1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

                Not really unfortunately :( There’s not that many AU plant sellers on Etsy, and our bio security is super strict.

                I have the royal purple inside / inky purple around the outside one. The leaves look like butterflies, so pretty!

          2. Reba*

            Oh yeah, pothos sounds like it could be signs of stress from being potbound! It might benefit from a root trim and repot, and winter is usually a good time for that.

    4. Bobina*

      Hm. I’ve never had an issue with liquid fertilizer, but from your description, sounds like it could be a lot of things! Is it a balanced fertilizer or heavy on one specific element? Did the plants need it (its possible to damage plants by over-fertilizing)? Did they need more? Are the other things like soil and light conditions right? Could it be a pest or disease of some kind?

      I would say its probably worth looking up what that kind of behaviour means for the specific plants and then figuring out whether they need more or a different kind of feed, or if its something else entirely.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        It’s supposed to be a balanced fertiliser… but you’re making me wonder now if it’s thrown something OUT of balance for those particular plants? Maybe they just prefer poor soil..? Maybe it’s thrown out the pH..?
        The worst affected plants are well established, in pots with old mix that should really have benefited from the feed, so I don’t get it. So far nothing helpful in my books or by googling.
        I’m 99% sure it’s the fertiliser because the damage started showing only a week after and nothing else has changed. Light, water etc is reasonably consistent. Pests are also consistent (yay Australia!) but I’m always on the lookout for them so they never get settled in enough to cause big problems.

        1. Bobina*

          It could have! I did a bunch of reading when I was on my big gardening kick in November and found one article which said liquid fertilizer can throw things out of balance by killing some of the good organisms in soil and then its essentially impossible to ever recover other than repotting into fresh soil and never using it again (OR committing to keep using it). I was mildly dubious (the website seemed a bit on the “all man made things are evil” side and its the only place I’ve seen with that message) but its something I’ve kept in mind.

          Similarly I repotted a peperomia a few months ago into fresh compost and….its looked terrible since then. Turns out they like really poor quality soil and can actually die given too much nutrients, so I’m going to need to repot that once its a bit warmer into something thats less “good”.

          One resource I like to always start with is the RHS website – they usually have good plant specific pages. I usually then try to cross reference with other plant websites and if there’s a consensus on the plant care/advice then I try to follow that generally.

          1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

            Huh, I wasn’t thinking about microbials but that would actually make a lot of sense as to why even just a weak feed is affecting established plants more! Maybe I’ll try repotting the smallest to see if that helps. Thanks :)

            Also interesting to note your experience with peperomia. I’ve all but given up on them. They hate me for some reason but flourish for my Dad who gives them no love. Might explain it!

    5. Drtheliz*

      I’m stuck at “hope the indoor babies don’t die before I move/get back to the office” – we really don’t get enough light for them, but New House will. Outdoor babies are sleeping under a good 5cm of snow, so there’s not much to do there :p

    6. fposte*

      Earlier this year, I had a horrible and hilarious experience with fish emulsion that had apparently started to ferment in the bottle and when opened sprayed all over my kitchen like Diet Coke and Mentos. So a brown fountain not just of fish emulsion, but *rotten* fish emulsion. The smell was so bad it was sort of amazing (and I hate fish at the best times).

      So now my plants can yellow all they want. I’m not touching the stuff again.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        Noooooo! Omg, the fresh stuff smells bad enough I can’t even imagine –and in the kitchen too! I mean, that’s hilarious and I’m laughing but also feeling very sorry for you having to clean that up because I bet it took days to get rid of the smell!

        1. fposte*

          I have a 1950s kitchen, which I love, and it has a metal Hudee ring around the sink edge. I had to go around there with a freaking toothpick.

          I was at least glad I hadn’t opened it in a less wipeable room.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Isn’t your profile pic a fish? I’m inordinately amused that you dislike fish with that in your pic.

        1. fposte*

          I never even thought about that! But it’s a fish that (spoiler) meets a bad end, so maybe that’s why I like it.

      3. acmx*

        This scares me! LOL I have organic plant food and it turns out it is seafood based. And then someone said it was fish poop. It smells disgusting as is…I can’t imagine what happened to you!
        (I hate fish, too)

        1. fposte*

          It was a practically brand new container. My guess is that there was some little air hole that jump started the process. And then the instructions tell you to shake well…

    7. CatCat*

      My Aerogardens are two weeks old and everything has sprouted. The lettuces are especially taking off! At this rate, I’ll be enjoying some fresh letfuce in a couple weeks.

      I also put some green onion ends/roots in a little jar of water next to the Aerogardens and they’re really taking off too. I never had any luck trying to do that in our shady windowsill. The light from the Aerogardens (which is BRIGHT) is doing the trick.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My aerogarden lettuces are also going gangbusters, and I feel you on the light – I straight up took the floor lamp out of the room the aerogarden is in because the thing lights the whole room so well!

      2. Natalie*

        I had to put ours in the basement. We have an open plan first floor and then it’s just bedrooms on the second floor, and it has to be on for so long when it’s herbs.

    8. Llama face!*

      One of my spider plant seeds sprouted! It is already about an inch tall and growing quite swiftly. In less good news, my starfish sanveria got a little overwatered and decided to die dramatically. I have taken a cutting and am letting the cut end callous over in the hope that I can propogate it and save a remnant of the original plant. I do also have a healthy pup from that snake plant growing in another pot so saving the cutting would be a bonus.

      1. Llama face!*

        I see my touchscreen decided to not bother with a few letters I typed. That should say “sansevieria”

    9. Can't Sit Still*

      My hedgehog aloe is in full bloom. It really seems to like my east facing balcony, which gets lots of morning sun and is mostly protected from the wind. I brought it inside during the windstorm last week, because I didn’t want to lose the flowers and it didn’t seem to mind the change in temperature too much.

      I really want more indoor plants, though. Any suggestions for low light, pet safe plants?

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        Low light is tricky. I usually have to rotate mine periodically so they still get enough light to thrive. But my cast iron plant (aspidistra) is bulletproof and apparently they’re non toxic?

      2. Reba*

        Peace lily aka Spathiphyllum (not true lilies, that’s just the common name). They can live with basically no natural light at all, but they benefit from a little indirect light (never direct) in order to grow and flower. They are super resilient too.

    10. Jenny*

      So I just bought a house and the seller gave me a list of his fruit trees. There are a lot. Paw paws and persimmons, a few kids of apples, it’s two pages.

      And uhh… what do I do? Can anyone recommend some resources?

      1. Reba*

        Wow, cool! I hope he also left you the name of a decent arborist.

        There is a group/website called “Orchard People” that might be a good resource.

      2. Bobina*

        If they are fully established, I’d say you probably dont have to do much other than prune and reap the fruits of his labour! Maybe some basic maintenance every so often like mulching, but hopefully not too much more than that.

        But otherwise I’d say maybe ask around for local gardeners for advice (or ask him yourself!)

        I’m also super jealous, would love to have loads of fruit trees!

    11. JobHunter*

      I bought several packets of herb and heirloom tomato seeds today! I’m going to get another shelf unit and light system and set up flats of herbs. I’ll donate a bunch of small plants to the spring Master Gardener scholarship sale. It sounds like the local group is considering a curbside pickup arrangement. (Other suggestions are welcome!)

      My houseplant results: I have been overrun by spider plants and transcendantias. I killed a frosty fern that was gifted to me :( and am waiting for eucalyptus seeds to germinate.

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        I know, right? The tiny white paws, the dreamy expression, the fluffy cloud like cat bed…. *sigh* It’s just precious!

  7. Lifelong student*

    Yarn crafts thread- what’s on your hook, needles, or loom this week?
    I just finished a mosaic crochet blanket. It is easier than it looks in many ways but did require constant reference to the pattern because the repeat changes every other row. Nice thing is very few ends to weave in because the yarn is carried up the side so even though there are color changes every other row, the finishing is not tedious.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve just recently started crocheting again. It’s been probably 10 years since I’ve done it. I bought a skein of purple ombre yarn, some new hooks, and just started making a chain stitch. It took me maybe 15 minutes to get the muscle memory back so it wasn’t very even, but it was good practice. I then just started crocheting without any thought as to what I was making. By the time I finished the skein, I had a cat bed-sized blanket. I used it as a cover for the piano bench that’s in my office. I bought more yarn, same color, and I’ll probably make a blanket. I just like having something to do with my hands while I watch TV or I’m sitting at my work desk and need a brain break. Plus it feels productive and relaxing at the same time.

      I want to get back into counted cross stitch. I’m searching my house high and low for a cross stitch kit I was working on at least 10 years ago and can’t find it anywhere. I remember seeing it, putting it into a plastic bag, and then putting it on a high shelf. I then remember taking it down while cleaning and thinking that I don’t really want to finish it, and that the person it was intended for I wasn’t close with at the time. I was looking for it because a couple weeks ago I decided that I’d finish it and give it to a relative who is religious (it’s “Footprints in the Sand”). But I can’t find it anywhere. I have a feeling I tossed it.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I finished knitting the awesomest Star Wars scarf and I am showing it off to anyone who will hold still. Link to follow, hopefully.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            The colored yarn is a cake of Lion Brand Mandala; the black is two balls of Knit Picks Palette. :) I started knitting it just for fun, and I got about a third of the way through and my husband was like “soooooo who is that for?” The night I finished it, he went down to the grocery store for soda just so he had an excuse to wear it :)

    3. nep*

      I don’t do anything along these lines, but just chiming in to ask whether y’all have seen the crochet Bernie With Mittens. (Hope this doesn’t break the no-politics rules.) Anyway it’s adorable.

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        I got sent the Bernie with mittens doll by several people on social media. I was happy to see the creator Tobey Time Crochet auctioned her original doll on eBay to give the profits to Meals on Wheels. She raised over $20,000!

        1. nep*

          Yes. I think the first one sold for $20,300. Brilliant, and that she’s giving it to a great cause.
          (And if you’re familiar with the online snowflake maker, I saw one where someone made an image of Bernie with mittens. Amazing.)

      2. Xenia*

        You should see cross stitching boards right now. Can’t turn around without running into a mittened Bernie

    4. Usernames are hard*

      I tend to have several knitting projects going at once so I can pick up what I’m in the mood for. Currently 4 sweaters at different stages of completion, a lap blanket, and a shawl that I’ll probably finish today because there’s only about 12 rows left.

    5. Otter Dance*

      I have been knitting fingerless mitts with sock yarn. Each pair takes only a few days. I’m on my fourth pair this month: white with eyelets; rust hand-dyed with nupps and twisted stitches (Ravelers, look up Kujeillen); color-changing in ribs with just a few cables, that came out very fraternal; and a sideways design with short rows to make the thumbs, currently in process.

      I just received a new package of yarn, so I’m prepared to stay inside out of the snow for quite a while.

      Has anyone else worked with a yarn with a “metallic” strand? I’m finding that the Mylar is broken a LOT, just from being wound into a ball. Is this typical?

    6. Never Nicky*

      Currently I’m about halfway through knitting a baby blanket for my cousin’s second one who is due around my partner’s birthday. I’m doing the same design as for their sibling but a different colour. Fortunately UK to US mail seems to be leaving the country now at least.

      For myself, I’m stitching a sampler – Stars by The Drawn Thread. I treated myself by having it kitted up with linen fabric and silk threads and it has been a joy to stitch. I’ve the speciality stitches and buttons to do so I may finish it tomorrow.

    7. Pippa K*

      A simple scarf with leno borders is on my loom, as a sort of test weave for a new (to me) alpaca/silk yarn. So far I love it – soft and fine but still strong enough to use as warp, and it’s a gorgeous dark teal shade. But of course you never know until it’s wet finished, so fingers crossed!

    8. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      I am currently on row 143 on my loomed afghan. I have only loomed hats before. I get bored with this. I think that I prefer crochet, but I have crocheted anything in at least a decade, so .
      I’ve got a few Blackwork projects going, but haven’t been working on them for a few reasons (I need new glasses, I’ve been reading a lot, I’m lazy, and I am sad all the time).
      The afghan is a gift for my nibbling, and I’m hoping to finish very soon.

    9. NoLongerYoung*

      Advice welcome

      I’m still trying to master even rows/ rectangles in crochet. I have been using vibrant nylon scrubby yarn, and I’m on ugly dishcloth number 10. Maybe in part due to some of them being done by feel.(eyes elsewhere). But even when I concentrate, I drop.or add stitches ar the ends of rows, so uneven.

      I am enjoying them greatly, joyful even to have a soothing outlet. But afraid to move “up” to a scarf or blanket because bigger just means more uneven until I figure out what I’m doing wrong. (Sometimes I do pull it out to a big problem area.and redo it).

      Advice? I am getting calm and eating less…and so far.my kind friends have loved the useful nylon scrubby dishcloths.

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        Try putting a stitch marker (official one, Bobby pin, or paper clip) in the first and last stitch of every row. I’d imagine when using scrubby yarn that would make it hard to see the stitches so you may have to do more counting. For your first larger project I’d pick a stitch/yarn combo that made the stitches easier to see so you can know if you are skipping stitches or adding them, which will contribute to the unevenness.

        1. NoLongerYoung*

          Thank you! Yes, the scrubby is hard to see as it is eyelashy. The one I tried with a more traditional nylon thread, in both a circle and a rectangle, were fine… so maybe it has to do with that!. (also a tiny vision problem – blind as a bat, and sometime have to take off the glasses and hold it up to my face to see if I missed a stitch…)

      2. Christmas Carol*

        Are you sure you are counting your turning chains correctly? i.e. The same way the pattern writer indended.

    10. more latte plz?*

      Socks for hubby of a Norwegian star/snowflake design. My third start? Even after swatching. sigh. Although I’m not that old (50’s) my hands are quite arthritic, and my gauge really changes as I knit a lot and my hands get tired.

    11. Squeebird*

      My mother-in-law got me an embroidery for beginners kit for Christmas and I’ve been diligently plucking away at it in the evenings. It’s so relaxing! Like colouring but with thread. Highly recommended.

    12. HamlindigoBlue*

      I joined a test knit group and am working on a cardigan with a lot of intarsia. It’s been a big twisty mess, and I’ve realized that I’m no good at estimating how much yearn I need for the blocks of color. That said, it is coming along nicely, but I’ll be glad when it’s done.

      I also have a crochet dish cloth kit (Morning Sunburst Kitchen Set from KnitPicks) that I started right before the test knit began. I want to get back to that because it’s a lot of new (to me) stitches, and the projects are quick.

  8. Arya Parya*

    Thanks to everyone who gave me advice last week on how to deal with thick hair while the salons are closed. I got myself soms thinning sheers and am very happy with the results.

    1. Joan Rivers*

      Cutting your own hair is tricky at first but gets easier as you experiment. What’s nice is you can trim those pesky edges that might bother you, around your ear, say.
      I learned by spritzing my short hair w/water and sculpting it into the shape I wanted w/my hand, then trimming away the parts that were too long.

    2. Anon5775*

      I cut my own hair a few months ago but didn’t have thinning shears and that part made me nervous to do anyway. What was your technique to thin your own hair? I assume we’re talking about the type of shears that has lots of teeth?

      1. Arya Parya*

        It is indeed a shear with loads of teeth. I looked at some YouTube tutorials before I started.

        It’s basically feeling where it’s thick and cutting about half way in your hair, so not all the way at down at the base. Since you’re just thinning it and not cutting, you don’t really change your haircut. So it’s very forgiving and I found I couldn’t really mess it up.

  9. Beancat*

    What is a time your pets showed you that they really understand?

    I’ve been in pain from my endometriosis surgery, so my husband and I agreed the cats can’t lay on me. I’ve been afraid that they’ll give up on trying to be with me if we have to keep moving them, but the larger and gentler one adapted almost immediately and lays beside me. Sometimes he’ll shift to lay across my knees, but no higher. Once he laid on my knees and went to sleep but didn’t get any closer. It was so sweet and I felt he understood something was wrong. I think animals do genuinely understand.

    1. Not Australian*

      I had an unexpected trip to hospital recently and spent about three hours in A&E getting diagnosed with what turns out to be a long-term lung condition. My usually standoffish cat refused to leave me all night; as a rule they both sleep in the kitchen and she knows exactly when it’s time to go downstairs and settle on her heated pad, but this time she clearly thought I needed her slumped against my tummy until breakfast time.

      She was quite right, too.

    2. Loopy*

      My dog has a very high emotional IQ and will stick to either of us when we are upset and be particularly loving and sweet (cuddling, trying to lick us). Once we were both upset in different parts of the house and he figured out which of us was more upset (crying instead of quietly sad) and chose to be next to that person.

      It doesn’t sound like much now that I type it out but if someone is any level of unhappy in our house, the dog is never ever ever anywhere else.

    3. Flower necklace*

      Animals can be very empathetic. My cat got sick with crystals the week after my father died. He was perfectly healthy up until that point. The crystals were caused by stress.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Yes, my cat got stress-related cystitis after my dad died. I agree animals respond to us emotionally.

    4. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I miss my cat so much at those times. The dog is happy to see everyone and always accepts a hug, but my cat… if I wasn’t doing well either physically or emotionally he would be curled up with me in bed as a little spoon. He would purr, and I would massage his wonderfully soft tummy fur. He seemed to understand what I needed, and wasn’t clingy at other times. The dog is great for the neighborhood as he loves hugs from strangers, and we nap on the couch many evenings, but when I’m feeling crappy there’s no difference.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      They understand so much and we just have to “listen” closer to see what they understand.
      My dog is part doctor. He knows when something is going wrong with me or a friend.

      But one day, HE had a problem. He was having trouble walking. As the morning went on he stopped trying to walk. He laid down and could not get up. I knew his problem had something to do with spine and hips, a structural issue. He’s a bouncy boy and jumps all over, rolls around then wonders why things hurt. But this day it was the worst I had ever seen. I called around and found a veterinary chiropractor who agreed to come over in a couple hours. (Transporting him would have caused more problems.) After speaking with her by phone, I went in and told my dog, “A nice lady is coming. She is going to help you.”
      I was blown away by what happened next. His eyes, that had been dulled from the pain, suddenly lit up like Christmas trees. I knew he understood. So I repeated it, “Yes, you’re getting this. The nice lady will help you.”
      When she arrived, the dog who would not stand up for anyone else, slowly stood up and slowly worked his way out to the living room to see her.
      He had never experienced a chiropractor prior to this. My usually bouncy, contrary boy just stood still and let the vet do what she needed to do. For months afterward he would mimic the activities she did with him to tell me and one of my friends that he needed a little help on a particular day. For example, she put her hand over his hip and gently tugged his leg. So he would stand backwards to us and lift up the one hind leg as if to say, “This side!” Of course, we obliged him. And I did get him back to the vet for some follow ups, also.
      I was amazed by how much he had learned and remembered from his doctor in ONE visit. Us humans don’t do this well.
      Now he has gotten used to her and he CRYS when he sees her coming up the walk. She can hear him wailing from her car and she starts laughing. He will try to show her what bothers him. She pays attention and helps him with it.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        That’s great! I always tell my pets what I’m doing w/them, or who they’re going to see.

        If you talk to them as if they understand, then they do.

    6. llamaswithouthats*

      I used to live with a roommate and her standoffish cat. However, whenever I wasn’t feeling well, he would come out of hiding to snuggle with me on the bed. It was so sweet. Cats have some sort of intuition I can’t explain.

    7. Jenny*

      I had a panic attack after coming home from the hospital from surgery (I don’t react well to opiods). My cat, who is not normally cuddly, sat on my lap with me.

    8. Blomma*

      A couple of years ago I broke my ankle. Because of some other health issues, the recovery was very long and painful. One evening, I was sitting on the couch with my foot propped up on my knee scooter with some ice packs. My cat (who, in our previous 11 years together, was not a lap cat at all) curled up half on the couch, half on my injured leg. She knew I was hurting and wanted to comfort me. Since then, she is more willing to occasionally sit on my lap and she curls up on my torso at bedtime.

    9. Jackalope*

      One of my cats – I call him my empath cat – will always come over and snuggle and purr if I start seriously crying (as opposed to, say, just tearing up a little).

      Also, the cats know when it’s dinner time and when I tell them it’s time to go downstairs they will often jump up off the bed and trot down to the basement where their food bowls are. Not quite what you were asking about perhaps but still helpful.

    10. WS*

      My mum is in hospital with pneumonia right now and her cat is patiently bringing all her favourite toys and placing them around her pillow to try to bring her home.

    11. Alex*

      Absolutely. My mom recently had major surgery and her cat curled up on the bed all day with her while she recovered. Her cat is NOT usually cuddly at all–she’s usually very active, running all over the place, and won’t be still to be petted.

    12. School Psych*

      My dog is not allowed in bed, but she hopped up there a few times when my husband was on a 6-month business trip abroad. It was like she knew I needed some extra love. She also likes to sleep in bed when we’re on vacation(we bring her dog bed, she just doesn’t use it). It’s like she’s taking a vacation from the house rules. Once we’re back home, she goes back to sleeping in her own space. One time I asked her if she wanted to go out when it was raining and I swear she shook her head no.

    13. Tabby*

      My kitty gets really insistent about becoming a hot water bottle when it’s that time of month. He’ll even occasionally try kneading my back. He’s actually really effective at pain relief.

    14. Bucky Barnes*

      There are so many instances. But one in particular stands out. Several years ago, I was going through something really traumatic. One night in particular, I kept waking up with awful nightmares. My loving but not incredibly cuddly cat spent the night next to me. Each time I woke up with a start, she was watching me and would rub my arm with her paw. She was wonderful.

  10. Seeking Second Childhood*

    A question for readers in or ancestral lyrics from south Asia — can I (white American) wear a kurta without offense?
    Yesterday PolarVortex mentioned them, I looked them up, and it’s something I’ve been wishing i could find for years. (Long visit to Denmark where friends were at university.)
    The simple ultra long tunic type worn with jeans or heavy leggings, if it matters.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      “Ancestrally from”… totally did not type “ancestral lyrics.”
      I loathe autocorrect.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Off-topic but try fighting with autocorrect when you want to use non-English words in the middle of a sentence! (I suppose this happens with other languages also. Unfortunately I’m monolingual so can’t comment about trying to type in any language other than English.) That’s always a barrel of laughs when I’m trying to tell someone chag sameach (“happy holiday” in Hebrew) or zie gezunt (“be well” in Yiddish) via text. /s

        1. Jay*

          #notenoughJewsintech “Oy gevalt” also turns into some interesting things, and I think it just went haywire with “gefilte.”

        2. detaill--orieted*

          Heh! “Savta” (Hebrew for grandma) keeps turning into “Santa”. Not the same at all! (Although they both give you presents.)

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Most definitely a problem! I sometimes have reason to write words in French and Danish and the results are very strange.
          “actually blue ” = sacre bleu.

          1. No Tribble At All*

            There is a solution! If you use an iPhone, you can add words to your dictionary by typing the word, then pausing and letting it highlight your word. Then tap the left of the 3 words above your keyboard— should be your word in quotes. That adds it to the dictionary and tells autocorrect “no, I want to keep this one.” You can also go into the settings menu and add the words manually. I don’t know what the shortcut is for android but I’m sure there’s a similar way to add to dictionary.

            Also on iPhone, you can add other languages to your keyboard so you can switch back and forth in between sentences. Not quite sure how but I always end to switching my boyfriend’s phone to Chinese (he’s learning it) when I steal his phone =.=

            1. Jackalope*

              On an iPhone, if you tap the button on the keyboard that takes you to the emojis page but then don’t select an emoji, then tap it again to go back to the keyboard (I’ve done this many times by accident when trying to go to the numbers and syllables page), it will instead switch you to the other keyboard. You can switch around and get back to English by pressing that button again until you’re back. In my case I look at the space bar since the word for space bar is different in all of the languages I have my phone set to display.

              1. Jean (just Jean)*

                Thanks for this explanation. I’ll try your suggestion when my currently over-extended brain can learn new tech skills. :-P

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Alas I’m on a decrepit Android of a vintage that has a hard time adding things — and its speech-to-text is worse. I have been meaning to replace it since the Before Times but I have a severe case of analysis paralysis.

        4. Jackalope*

          I have 2 other languages I use sometimes so I have my phone set up with their keyboards so I can type in those languages and not have auto correct try to change my words back to English. It’s worked pretty well but sometimes has the funny side effect of having my auto correct change words in the middle of an all-English sentence to one of the other languages. I’ve sent some entertaining texts because of this!

          1. Observer*

            The thing with Hebrew and Yiddish, though, is that if you switch the language you get a different alphabet, which is fine if you are corresponding with someone who can read it, but there are a LOT more people who will understand something like Chag Sameach than will be able to actually read חג שמח. Also, switching alphabets for a word or two is a pain.

            I’ve found that if I use a word often enough, auto-correct will learn, at least using GBoard on Android. But for dictation? Oh, brother!

            I imagine the same thing is true for other situations where there are two alphabets involved.

    2. Bobina*

      I cant really comment on your specific situation but I do find it such a tricky one. I was in India for work a few years ago, and went shopping one evening with coworkers and bought some kurta’s and a dress. When I was in India, it felt fine to wear it even though I’m a foreigner because everyone seemed to appreciate that I was embracing their culture. But as soon as I got back to Europe, I was like – there is no way I can wear this without feeling really awkward. I think for me, the fact that in its context (ie in Asia) – a foreigner wearing it doesnt stand out, whereas as soon as you bring it to a place where its not the norm – it becomes a bit like, why is that person wearing something that doesnt belong to “their” culture.

      For what its worth, I feel like shirt dresses and long tunic type tops have become more popular again in recent years, and I’ve definitely seen things that are similar in shape and style to a kurta but different enough that you could probably wear them without feeling like you’re stepping on anyones toes. Although part of me is like, wouldnt it be nice to just be able to wear a kurta and celebrate and acknowledge another culture fully rather than water it down with an “almost” garment? I dont know.

      1. Reba*

        Yeah, I feel the same way! I have a lot of clothes from countries I’ve visited/lived in, and while I would wear them for a special occasion with members of the community here in the US, I wouldn’t feel comfortable just wearing them…around.

    3. Dwight Schrute*

      Hmm I wouldn’t. Context is important in these situations and I wouldn’t wear it here in the US. Although, I just asked my Indian SO about it and he said he wouldn’t be offended but it would raise some eyebrows here, not that he speaks for all South Asians.

      1. llamaswithouthats*

        IMO, anyone wearing Indian outfits in the US would standout because, well, they are wearing Indian outfits in the US. It will turn some heads, with the exception of places like New York maybe.

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          Oh sorry; I meant to say he said it would raise eyebrows from other Indians who may already wear them. Sorry about the missing context

    4. aarti*

      Since you also mentioned tunic, I’m assuming you’re talking more about an American/European style tunic or shirtdress, which I can’t imagine would raise many eyebrows. Long shirts/tunics over leggings are super common in the USA.

      If you’re talking about an actual kurta bought from South Asia or a South Asian store in the US, I think it gets more complicated. Some desis love seeing white people wearing desi clothes. Growing up, my parents would get excited if they saw a white person wearing anything remotely Indian. My brother and I would make fun of them in Hindi. So not all South Asian people will react the same way!

      Realistically, if you wear a kurta around the US you may offend some desi people, but they will likely judge you silently and not say anything to your face. There’s a long history of South Asian immigrants in the US being teased, ostracized and even harassed for wearing their traditional dress. So it can sting a little bit to see white people happily cherry picking desi culture for whatever is currently deemed cool.

      I’m a desi raised in the USA FWIW.

      1. llamaswithouthats*

        This is my experience as well. I also notice a lot of white hipsters use different cultures to brand themselves as “unique” compared to other “basic” white people (usually Black American and Indian cultures). It’s cringe, but I still don’t know if I would get worked up about a white person wearing a tunic. I think the issues run deeper than that, but requires more contemplation on my part.

    5. llamaswithouthats*

      My two cents as an American born South Asian descent person. I don’t see anything wrong with it but I recommend considering buying from a South Asian run business if that makes sense. However, I can’t promise you wouldn’t get criticized by others. I sometimes feel like I’m an outlier on the “what is cultural appropriation” debate.

      1. llamaswithouthats*

        Also – regardless of whether or not you but a tunic – might I recommend sweater dresses? I’ve recently discovered them and they are awesome for winter wear! I grew up in a warm climate and it has taken me a while since moving up north to perfect my winter wardrobe.

        1. llamaswithouthats*

          Wait idk why I thought you were looking for winter wear. Maybe because you mentioned Denmark…but now I realize you weren’t specifically asking that *facepalm*. Well I hope I was helpful I some way.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I did researched this question before buying an African style jacket I wanted. I even asked the maker, a Black-owned biz in the US that has all the pieces made in Africa, by Africans, of African fabric. What they told me is they want us to wear their garments if it’s purchased by /made from someone of that community because it celebrates the culture and supports their businesses. Amplifying their culture is a net positive, that’s not appropriation. The big caution is to make sure it doesn’t look like a costume and the best way to do that is wear only the one piece, and not add anything else. With my jacket I carefully avoid any African style elements like jewelry or accessories. (There are some fabrics or styles that ARE deeply culturally or spiritually meaningful and shouldn’t be worn by outsiders, like a dashiki or kente fabric, but as far as I know a kurta doesn’t fit that description.)

        Still, you can do all this with the utmost respect and with the best of intentions and still get funny looks. Where I live (CA), a kurta would not look out of place on a white person as long as it was a fairly simple design and was not accessorized in a South Asian style.

    6. Invisible Fish*

      I can’t speak on offending anyone, of course, but part of me is smiling because I live in Houston, and there are so many people from so many places that I don’t know if anyone would notice! I think a lot of folks would just think “long shirt” and keep on going. Or heck, given the shape/cut, people might think “guayabera.” But maybe I’ve gotten super spoiled by being in a place where there are so many great people who bring so much to the table … (I’m blessed with friends from India, and they’ve actually given me kurtas to wear as every day stuff…) Thanks for making me smile so much remembering and thinking about how one day I’ll get to see people again.

      1. llamaswithouthats*

        Yeah – I’ve gifted my non South Asian friends Indian jewelry from my trips there and would absolutely not mind it if they wore it!

    7. violet04*

      I was born in India, but moved to the US when I was 3 years old. From my perspective, I wouldn’t find it offensive for a white American to wear a kurta. When I got married, some of my white friends wore saris and I loved that that they wore something from my culture. I can’t speak for all Indians. This is just an opinion of one person.

      1. aarti*

        I think a white person wearing a kurta or other desi dress to an Indian wedding, at the invitation of an Indian person is really different than a white person wearing a kurta because they think it looks cool.

        The former seems to me like legit culture sharing the latter more like cultural appropriation.

    8. English, not American*

      It makes me sad that this has to be a consideration. I understand leaving things that have religious or ceremonial significance well alone, but I don’t get why everyday clothing has to be off-limits based on race.
      It reminds me of the “horseshoe” effect where e.g. you have one end of the spectrum saying don’t date outside your race because it’ll “taint” your race, and the other end saying don’t date people of other races because then you’re depriving other members of that race of a partner and/or you’re “colonising” them.

      1. aarti*

        I think the “horseshoe” comparison is a hyperbolic interpretation of a lot of people comments!

        There’s a particular type of white person thinking (I don’t know if you are white, but it’s something I’ve seen a lot in white culture), wherein people will make overly dramatic statements “So, I can’t eat Chinese food anymore?”, “So you’re saying I can’t listen to jazz” etc. Such statements seem to have the effect to shut down BIPOC concerns about cultural appropriation.

        In my opinion, there are actually lots of circumstances where a non-desi person could wear a kurta:
        1) Invited to a South Asia wedding
        2) Invited to a South Asian religious or cultural festival.
        3) Married to a South Asia person and invited to wear certain desi clothes/jewelry by South Asian spouse/in-laws (ie. Some white women married to Hindu men wear or have a manglasutra, a necklace worn by married Hindu women)
        4) Traveling in a South Asian country, wearing local clothes as a sign of respect
        5) Practices South Asian dance or music wearing traditional clothes

        There’s really only one situation where I think it’s inappropriate for a white person to wear a kurta and it’s if they think it just looks cool but otherwise have no connection to South Asian culture.

        If someone does, is it the biggest injustice in the world? No it’s not. But it does reveal a lack of openness and willingness to listen on that person’s part. Just because you don’t “get” why people might be offended doesn’t mean people don’t have a legit reason to be offended!

        1. English, not American*

          I was reminded of the horseshoe effect by the original poster feeling the need to ask, not by any of the replies (otherwise I would have posted in response to a reply rather than the top of the thread). Holding something mundane like everyday clothing as “sacred facet of Other Culture” reads to me as much more distancing and “othering” than respectful, especially in the context of calling it “South Asian culture”, as if that’s one singular culture and not half a dozen (? depends where you cut it) different countries with their own cultures. And that attitude of holding things sacred just because they are non-white in origin is another staple in “white person thinking”. That’s what made me think of it.

          How does it reveal a lack of openness or willingness to listen if person sees an item of everyday clothing (that happens to be worn mostly in another country) and thinks it looks cool so they wear it? That’s a genuine question.

          People can have legitimate reason to be offended by things that aren’t inherently wrong (morally or otherwise). That’s without even considering cases where you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, like 90% of politics. Some offenses are greater than others, of course, but the worse the offense the more likely it is to be disparaging or hateful or penalising to the offended group. Something causing people offense isn’t enough on its own to say it’s wrong.

          1. Roci*

            Honestly this post makes it seem like you maybe don’t fully understand why non-white peoples don’t love when white people “discover” items from their culture and “start using it because they think it looks cool”?

            Surely you can see that it must feel really awful for people to be told historically that their clothes, food, jewelry etc. is gross, or uncool, or a marker of not being civilized, and then suddenly in 2015 or whatever some white person starts doing it and they’re told “wow, so cool, so exotic, so worldly”. Ignorantly plucking elements of culture from marginalized groups based purely on the aesthetic in order to gain clout among other white people and “discovering it”. It’s a really gross side of hipster-ism and it makes sense why people might want to gatekeep their culture from that kind of disrespectful tourism.

            1. English, not American*

              Seeing is not the same as “discovering”, and other people’s reaction was never part of the conversation. You’re adding an assumed attitude of disrespect that specifically wasn’t in my comment, which kind of reinforces my point that there has to be more than “this offends me” to actually make it inappropriate.

        2. llamaswithouthats*

          I mean, a lot of SA/Indian identifying people on this thread confirmed they would *not* be offended by the OP wearing a kurta. So it’s not generalize-able unless you believe the offended party has some sort of veto power.

          Personally, I know the double standards suck, but I doubt it would be solved by the OP not wearing a kurta or Indian clothes.

    9. Jean (just Jean)*

      Related question: Is it cultural appropriation to use Balinese silver beads in necklaces or earrings alongside gemstone or plastic beads? (I’ll use any materials if they look good next to each other.) Ten years ago when I stumbled across the Bali beads in a bead shop I thought they were simply gorgeous. However, I don’t want to offend others by accidentally mis-using something with a specific cultural or religious significance.

    10. Esmeralda*

      That’s an interesting question. As a teen in the 1970s (I’m white and female), I often wore clothes like that, especially tunics, but also coats, pants, skirts, dresses. I made some of them myself (there was a line of rather expensive “folkloric” sewing patterns that I’d save up for). They were comfortable and very beautiful. To me at the time they felt like a step beyond the kind of embroidery I could do myself.

      I’m a lot older now…I have a stunning lehenga and a beautiful cheongsam, which I’ve worn to fancy parties back when we could still do that (and I could still fit into them). Now, I’m not sure it’s right to do so… For sure I would feel uneasy about wearing them in public now.

    11. Quill*

      As an Indian person (born and raised there) who has been living in the US for over a decade, I would absolutely not mind or feel offended in any way. You may get some inquiries, but I suspect that if you wear a simple cotton kurta and not something over-the-top or flashy, most non-Indians won’t know what it is and therefore won’t get over-zealously offended.

      Some Indians may see it as cultural appropriation — I and many others don’t. It’s nice when others appreciate my culture. Bonus points if you support a South Asian-owned store.

      *In general*, my experience has been that South Asians who live in South Asia or spent most of their lives living there tend not to be offended by things like this. They are more likely to understand that you’re showing appreciation and take it as a compliment. In comparison, Americans of South Asian descent who were born in the US or lived here their whole lives, are more likely to be the offended ones. This is because they have had to deal with some toxic effects of growing up as a visible minority, and may have also seen members of the majority race make fun of or belittle their cultural signifiers. So, to now see members of a different race sport their cultural clothes without having had to face any of what they dealt with can be insulting or irritating.

      This is quite sad — I wish that culture was something we shared more freely with each other, and celebrated equally.

      Also, this is only very tangentially related to your post, but what does irk me is pronunciation. I sometimes watch cooking shows and it irritates me when US chefs scrupulously try to pronounce say, French or Italian names of dishes/ingredients — or heck, even people — correctly but do not give a rat’s ass while butchering (no pun intended) the names of Asian dishes/ingredients. It’s a very subtle form of racism but there it is.

      1. llamaswithouthats*

        I love this comment.

        I think the issue in the end of the day is double standards. However, I’m not sure how gatekeeping white and non Indian people from wearing kurtas and such will solve the problem.

        The only times I mind white or non Indians “appropriating” the culture is when it’s meant to mock them or if it’s a religious thing taken out of context (because then you look ridiculous).

      2. Roci*

        So true, I see this divide between immigrants/2nd gen in other cultures as well. People who have experienced being a majority are less threatened by white colonialist culture encroaching on it. When you have lived as one of millions you’re more comfortable than if you have only lived as one of a few, or the only one of your group.

        I also completely agree about pronunciation. I see soooooo many shows where people work hard to get European, esp French/Italian/Spanish words and names right, but absolutely mangle Asian and African words. Like… you couldn’t even google it? Or tweet someone to record themselves saying it so you could learn before going on TV and talking about it?

    12. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Pakistani born and raised in USA. I wouldn’t find it offensive at all. In fact I don’t think I’d really think anything if I saw someone wearing a kurta with jeans or leggings. I would def notice if they were wearing a full shalwar kameez but still not offended.

    13. Analyst Editor*

      Just wear it. If you’re wearing it as an honest thing you like, and because it’s comfortable, or you like how it looks, then just wear it. If you’re doing it to show off how culturally open you are, then don’t wear it I guess.
      Otherwise, this whole thought process boggles my mind, honestly. Just wear it! Cultural exchange, including food, music, performance styles, etc. is a *good* thing in general! And anyway, American cultural influence shouldn’t just flow one way, where everyone adopts or consumes our movies, music, media, dress styles, food, corporate culture, and politics. People who have a problem with it – it’s their problem, not yours.

    14. Chi chan*

      Honestly there is so much overlap in clothes that I don’t think there would be a problem. If you live in a culturally diverse place it would not raise any eyebrows though in a homogeneous place it might.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve stayed away from the keyboard to hear what everyone has to say. I’d be getting something real, and asking one of my Indian friends (who I don’t get to see during covid) for a recommendation for where to get it. I want this primarily for comfort, and in minimally decorated natural fabrics. I think someone upthread was right that it feels so familiar because of what my siblings’ friends wore in the 70s (I’m by far the youngest in the family). I simply like the slightly fitted, slightly flowing look and feel, and I haven’t found any mall-store tunics that do the same thing. Thanks for all the input!

  11. Jean (just Jean)*

    Question about health insurance: What experiences, good or bad, has anyone had with Kaiser Permanente? I’m considering alternatives to my current plan. I’m not opposed to the idea of being restricted to in-network providers. My biggest hesitation is about giving up the option to receive care at a teaching hospital. Perhaps this is just because most of my past experiences as a supportive family member were connected to medical school-affiliated facilities.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Not about KP, this is about teaching hospitals. I was so very impressed with a teaching hospital that was treating my mother. Everything about the place was so well thought out and so well done. The doors closed quietly, all the doors, everywhere. My mother had a pureed food diet. Unbelievably, her meals looked YUMMY. I would have eaten them. My list goes on and on.
      If I had to give up a teaching hospital that might be a deal breaker for me. I’d have to think long and hard about that.

    2. Jay*

      Depends entirely on where you are. I’m an MD and I trained at a Kaiser hospital in NoCal. In California, Kaiser is amazing. High-quality physician-directed care. If we ever move back to CA, we’ll get Kaiser – actually I work for a company that’s based in CA and they have Kaiser as an option and I’m jealous. You will hear complaints because there are legitimate complaints about every insurance company. Everybody screws up. I think they screw up less where it counts.

      Outside of CA, it’s different because they often have to contract with other facilities and networks, and that makes things more onerous and more complicated. I don’t know if I’d choose Kaiser outside of CA.

      tl;dr: If you’re in Cali, go for it.

      1. Generic Name*

        I’ve had a good experience with Kaiser in the Denver area. Mental health care was an area where they didn’t have enough providers and had to contract out, but it seemed to improve the last few years I had them

      2. Dan*

        Following up on KP outside of CA. Take these statements for what you will:

        1. My org has a heavy presence on the Acela corridor (Northeast US, about as far from CA as you can get).
        2. We used to offer a choice of KP and Aetna. We ditched KP for “cost” with no further explanation.
        3. I have always had Aetna, and thought it was either fine or even liked it.
        4. My coworkers who were on KP and forced on to Aetna hate it for the most part. I’m not sure why.

    3. Chaordic One*

      When I lived in So Cal I had great experiences with Kaiser Permanente. It was several years ago and things could have changed.

      1. Grim*

        Kaiser does great with obvious medical issues, but performs poorly if you have a chronic or obscure medical condition.

        But nobody plans for that – ask me how I know.

        1. one celiac two*

          I’ve bounced around through a bunch of insurance companies and healthcare orgs since I’ve been diagnosed as celiac — there’s not one insurance/org that I haven’t had to take charge of my care except for the one time I saw a celiac specialist.

    4. OperaArt*

      Northern California Kaiser member here. I’ve been a member for over 20 years, and have been very pleased.

      I was diagnosed with breast cancer almost 4 years ago. Within a week of the diagnosis, I was in a conference room with the surgeon, the oncologist, the radiation oncologist, and the breast care coordinator. They arranged the meeting. I just had to show up. (The treatment was successful.)
      Over the many months and countless visits, there was almost no paperwork, no trying to get an insurance company to cover the costs, no organizing my care. Basically, I just paid using my credit card when checking in, like around $200-$300 on the day of surgery, or $50 for certain tests. And that was it—no more paperwork.
      They sent me out of system for the radiation treatment, and again they arranged it all, and I didn’t need to pay any extra or submit paperwork.

      As with any large organization, there have been a couple of missteps, but they got ironed out.

    5. Generic Name*

      I absolutely loved the care I received at KP. People complain about lack of choice in doctors and facilities, but it was never a problem for me. I honestly found it easier to deal with. I appreciated that anything my doctors would do or prescribe would be covered. I never got a surprise bill. I once paid out of pocket for an elective mole removal (it was large and on my face, and I didn’t want it to become cancerous later) and a few months after the removal I got a refund check for the amount I paid. Someone had looked at my file and the results and decided that the procedure should be covered.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      YEARS ago I signed up for Kaiser P. because a coworker had a horrible car accident and having KP prevented her from going bankrupt from the bills. Medical bankruptcy is big problem in the U.S. A close relative is currently considering declaring bankruptcy over medical bills. (They owe just under $100,000 for cancer treatment later deemed “experimental” by their health insurance. The cancer was cured. They weren’t on KP.)
      I’ve had great care and horrible care at KP; it depends on the doctor. I get surprise bills almost every time I go in. I pay for all of KP myself (I’m retired but too young for Medicare). I’m on the cheapest plan but the monthly premium is still $700 for one person. Surprise KP bills didn’t happen when my employer paid but it might’ve been a different plan. When I ask before being treated how much it will cost me, the person at the computer says they have no idea, they can’t access that information.
      Anyhoo, KP is still a good option because it prevents the most egregious type of surprise bill: being in the hospital and having an out-of-network medical person treat you without your knowledge or consent, then getting a 5- or 6-figure bill later that your health care won’t pay for.
      Whatever health care plan you choose, I hope you always enjoy good health.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        >Whatever health care plan you choose, I hope you always enjoy good health.
        Thank you! I wish you the same. May the evil forces in the universe not read this thread.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        I’m dealing with that out-of-network nonsense now. Hospitalized in December, made sure I went to an in-network facility, now have claims from seven different providers, three of whom are out-of-network. Three of them (anesthesia group, hospitalist group, and ER physicians group) tried to bill me directly without even filing claims with my insurance (to the tune of $3,900).

        Then I had a bone-marrow biopsy at the beginning of January. Went to an in-network facility. Got pre-approved for the procedure by my insurance company. Guess what? They sent my slides to an out-of-network pathologist. The bill was over $2,600, and my insurance says the patient responsibility is $2,500+. I already paid $1,289.97 out of pocket for the hospital stay (hospital only–doesn’t include radiology, anesthesia, hospitalist consulting fees, cardiologist consulting fees, echocardiogram, or ER doctor fees), the hospital part of the bone-marrow biopsy is going to cost me $426, and now I’m arguing with my insurance to get them to process the pathology claim as in-network since I went to an in-network facility.

        Frankly, this should all be illegal. Not only have I paid over $2,000 out of pocket only one month into a new year, but I’ve spent at least five hours per week on the phone arguing about charges, incorrect amounts, etc.

        1. HoundLover*

          Insurance broker here. RAPs docs (radiologists, anethesiologists, and pathologists are always out of network and try to bill what ever they can. Bring those bills to your Benefits/HR department. I address this all the time. If you had no choice of providers (hospitalists and the like), you should not be penalized. If the hospital and the surgeon are in-network (those providers that you could choose), then all the other providers, should be paid as if they are in-network.

          1. Generic Name*

            There’s a lot of “shoulds” here. I’ve heard several cases where people get directly billed from providers where they are not legally obligated to pay those fees, but the bills get sent anyway in the hopes that the recipient will not question it and pay the bill. Apparently this practice (of sending bills that are not owed) is legal. This is something I’ve recently learned and now am wondering what bills I’ve paid that I was t responsible for. It’s truly criminal.

    7. Double A*

      I live in NorCal and have Kaiser. When I got a new job they didn’t offer Kaiser and it made me hesitate to take the job. Fortunately they started offering Kaiser a few months after I started. With Kaiser, you have predicability. I’ve never been surprised by a bill (in fact, I’m usually surprised but how low my bills are). Your providers always has access to your complete medical record. I’ve had an incredible experience with their prenatal care and great experience giving birth at Kaiser.

      This being said, they are also rigid. If you do need to get care from an outside provider, it can be difficult to get Kaiser to interface with them. Kaiser’s mental health care is terrible, and as someone else mentioned, they not great about creative thinking about care. It’s basically like, “you have X symptoms, here is the procedure for that.” My husband has complex mental health stuff going on, and his psychiatrist at Kaiser is just… really bad. We’ve paid out of pocket for outside providers to try to get him on a better regime. However, because our expenses with Kaiser have been so reasonable, this has been an ok option.

      Kaiser for the most part does not provide or cover individual therapy, it’s only group classes.

      1. Squeakrad*

        I think it partly depends on how old you are and how many medical conditions you have. I had Kaiser for a brief time many years ago and was really disappointed. I was at risk for breast cancer and it took forever to get a digital mammogram. I was also referred by my PCP for anxiety sessions with a therapist and when the therapist recommended short term medication my PCP hit the roof. She didn’t believe an anti-anxiety medication so refused to write the script.
        Shortly there after I changed to a job with another option and took it.

        I currently work for the state and although our insurance is expensive, I’ve had one major surgery and two minor ones and paid altogether about $1000. I think the challenge with a place like Kaiser versus a standard policy is that if you don’t spend quite a bit of money for the standard policy, you wind up with a super high deductible or an 80/20 split and not a 90/10 split.with the insurance I currently have, I find the hospital often waives the 10% that is due and just collects the co-pay.
        But I’m also treated at a university hospital who is one of the best in the nation if not the world. So even if I have to pay more is worth it to me given my medical history and situation to be able to use their facilities.

        My husband is also had a chronic illness and received top of the line treatment and is now totally healthy. Knowing what I know about Kaiser here in Northern California, I doubt he would’ve gotten the treatments I’ve received through Kaiser without a long drawn out battle.

        Just one final example, we were able to get the Covid vaccine at 65 and over pretty quickly once it was available. I know Kaiser is still limiting to 75 and over here in California which I understand is from necessity but my friends with Kaiser are also very frustrated.

    8. Littorally*

      I’m in MD, and my experience with Kaiser was really rotten. I was trying to see a therapist for some mental health concerns, and the entire place I went to was terribly disorganized. No receptionist in the waiting room (pre-pandemic), and 90% of the appointment time was taken up with going through the usual intake forms that I’ve always been provided with to complete beforehand, everywhere else I’ve been. Stuff like the basic depression screening, etc. They also gave me an estimate for the appointment of about $97, but then later billed me over $400 for some specious “diagnostic.”

      I would not take Kaiser again unless the only alternative would bankrupt me.

    9. mreasy*

      My two CA friends on Kaiser (different cities) have a lot of issues with it. Things like, super restrictions on any sort of controlled medication (eg you can’t get a refill on an ADHD med like adderall or an anti-anxiety med like Klonopin if your required pre-refill blood test shows you have consumed any marijuana – despite it being legal in California). They’ve also both had major issues getting timely appointments with non-specialists and getting regular refills before running out, of normal non-controlled meds. YMMV but as much as I’ve had issues with all my insurances through the year I haven’t had these. (Acknowledging that some of this might be state regulation that I don’t know of, but my non-Kaiser family and friends have never mentioned.)

    10. Nicki Name*

      I’m in Oregon, my family was on Kaiser when I was a teen, and I’ve picked Kaiser whenever it was offered as an option by my employers.

      The big plus is that everything is in one place and on one system. The lab, the pharmacy, and most of the specialists you need will all be at the same facility. No carting paperwork from place to place or filling out a forms over and over to get your electronic records transferred.

      The biggest minus is that you do have to go to a Kaiser facility if possible, which can be a pain if there isn’t one close to you. This was mitigated somewhat the last time I was on Kaiser by a mail-order option for regular prescriptions.

      In general, I feel like it has a very humane approach to healthcare. There is, as always, some variation at ground level with individual doctors.

      I can’t speak to how it might compare to a teaching hospital, though.

    11. Filosofickle*

      I avoided KP for years (NorCal region) bc I had a bone-deep opposition to HMOs. I was strictly PPO. But then I had back surgery and came to believe that my choice was just an illusion and there was even bigger risk in surprise bills and lack of coordination of care.

      Then KP became a client, and after a couple of years working with them, I really came to appreciate them. They have flaws but they are more patient-centered than other health care orgs I’ve come across, and they are far more innovative and modern. (I worked with their innovation groups so I had some extra insight into the future of care there.) Their new hospitals are amazing. I’ve been a member now for 3 years and have been very happy. My experience hasn’t been tested by major illness or injury, though.

    12. ronda*

      I had kaiser in GA for many years. I never needed complicated care and I found them easy to deal with. They have a pretty big network in GA and seem to be expanding it.

      I am now on kaiser in WA and it is a smaller town and they seem to have a more limited network, but they also seem to be doing fine with my currently limited care needs.

      I am a little bit worried about out of area care… never had it happen but if I got sick away from my home, I feel like the insurance bit might be more complicated.

      But if you really want to use a specific hospital or doctor(s), choose the insurance that allows you to do that. Life is too short not to have your preferred medical care.

    13. Can't Sit Still*

      I have been with Kaiser in NorCal for almost 20 years now. I have had issues with my PCPs in the past, but I have a great one now. I have been very pleased with my access to specialists, and my rheumatologist is excellent. I was a frequent flyer at the ER before my major health issues got under control and my care was always professional and caring.

      Mental health care at Kaiser is generally terrible, but I have a great pdoc now and have Talkspace for talk therapy. Kaiser does cover Talkspace now, but I would have to change providers but I like the one I have and I’m grandfathered in to an old plan, so it costs less per month than a single in-person session.

      Some of the doctors at the Kaiser location I use teach and/or have admitting privileges at Stanford or UCSF and Kaiser does refer to teaching hospitals as necessary.

      Finally, there are Kaiser locations, including the one closest to my house, that I wouldn’t use unless I was actively bleeding out right in front of their ER, so it’s extremely location dependent. If everyone around you hates Kaiser, they are probably a bad choice where you are.

      Also, Kaiser and Matrix Absence Management mutually loathe one another, so that’s something to consider if you might need FMLA leave or short term disability in the future and your company contracts with Matrix for leave management.

    14. comityoferrors*

      I’m in SoCal and I loathe KP here.

      I have experience with them through working in healthcare, and I have experience with them through my partner, who had them for several years. I wrote out a whole long rant about the issues I’ve seen, but, basically: their providers aren’t treated well (look into their strikes over the past few years); they don’t follow or care about state regulations regarding access to care (6 months is not legally an acceptable amount of time to wait for an appointment, KP!); and, in our experience, they just don’t make good choices regarding patient care.

      They had some serious concerns (IMO) on their last regulatory audit, including issuing denials of care without criteria (makes it harder to appeal), not adhering to a “reasonable person” standard for emergency services (denying ER services if the services were later found not to be emergent, even though the patient genuinely believes they are in an emergency), and generally “not consistently tak[ing] effective action to improve care where deficiencies are identified, […] or monitor whether the provision and utilization of services meets professionally recognized standards of practice.”

      They’re just…scummy. They’re the only health org in my area that I have absolutely no respect for. I’m glad so many people seem to like them, and you might like them too! I just trust them about as far as I can throw their $16mil-salaried CEO.

    15. Skeeder Jones*

      One thing I love about KP is the electronic medical records. Everything is stored in that file so if I see a doctor that is not a normal physician for me, they have access to all my records and I don’t have to explain things. Case in point, I once saw a physician for a potential kidney infection. I have a lot of chronic conditions and also am allergic to 6 different antibiotics so there’s a lot to consider with a kidney infection. I didn’t have to explain anything to him, he had all my info right at his fingertips. With my primary physician, I can email him for a lot of things instead of needing to go in for an appointment. I have to get some specific lab tests on a regular basis or when certain symptoms appear and I just email him to let him know it’s time, he puts the order in the computer, I go to the lab, about 24 hours later I can check online for the results and then we either schedule a call or discuss the results over email (where he can order any necessary treatment). All of that without needing an appointment. And I can do a lot of appointments by phone or video. I love it but I recognize that I have a great physician and that no matter where you go, there are good and bad ones.

      Full disclosure, I work for KP, but I’ve also worked for other healthcare companies and in terms of companies that really put their values into practice, I believe in KP. When you see a list of KP leadership, you will find more women and people of color than you will in most other companies. KP is considered not-for-profit and has to reinvest in the communities they serve. Overall, I believe in their mission and as an employer, they rank high for diversity including LGBTQ equality and disability representation.

    16. NoLongerYoung*

      Advice welcome

      I’m still trying to master even rows/ rectangles in crochet. I have been using vibrant nylon scrubby yarn, and I’m on ugly dishcloth number 10. Maybe in part due to some of them being done by feel.(eyes elsewhere). But even when I concentrate, I drop.or add stitches ar the ends of rows, so uneven.

      I am enjoying them greatly, joyful even to have a soothing outlet. But afraid to move “up” to a scarf or blanket because bigger just means more uneven until I figure out what I’m doing wrong. (Sometimes I do pull it out to a big problem area.and redo it).

      Advice? I am getting calm and eating less…and so far.my kind friends have loved the useful nylon scrubby dishcloths.

    17. NoLongerYoung*

      NCAL KP and I get individual mental health for a very reasonable copay. But…I also have figured out that for me, it is about having a great primary doctor. (Switch until you get one you like, and I asked around for recommendations and read through the profiles). One bad visit and I switch. So my current one works with me on meds, consults (my mental health went through a special process for an outside referral).
      On the meds, the rules and laws on refills are by state on controlled substances and the need for visits/screening for renewals.
      Full disclosure, I work there (not in care delivery, however).
      While I miss my amazing silicon valley gold-plated coverage, the amazing care they gave a dying family member with zero surprise bills (in a bankruptcy inducing situation had there been a 10 or 20% copay!!) Was priceless.
      My sister has a blue (redacted) policy, and got a 3500 bill for a colonoscopy.
      So YMMV. I have had to be my own advocate, though. I take notes, keep track, and am conscientious about asking questions and why. I think, however that is true for any policy/system.

    18. Jackalope*

      One interesting thing I learned about Kaiser came from a friend (a doctor) who works there. She pointed out that because they’re both the insurer and the facility, they have motivation not to rack up lots of unnecessary bills to send to the insurance company. For example, a mutual friend of ours (also a doctor) was lamenting a job she had at a large hospital working in the hospice program. It’s pretty widely known that hospice tends to be much better for people who are terminally ill, but the hospital didn’t like the hospice program and kept trying to cut funding because patients in hospice weren’t racking up the same hospital bills and so it wasn’t profitable for the hospital. Doctor friend #1 said that would never happen with Kaiser, because it is to their advantage not to rack up huge hospital bills unnecessarily because they are also the ones paying for them. (Obviously it’s not hard to imagine how this could backfire – they could refuse to recommend expensive but necessary care. My personal experience has not been them doing that, however.)

      My experiences with them have mostly been good. The one bad thing is that at least at my location, it’s hard to get care with the same person regularly, at least for intermittent care (for things that come up suddenly, like a sore throat that you need a strep test for). It’s been years since I had a PCP through them that I had actually met, because they never have appointments available (or they’ll have them a month out, which isn’t useful for the strep test). On the other hand, I can regularly get into see someone if I don’t care about it being my PCP, and I’ve had continuity of care for ongoing stuff like physical therapy. Plus in my area (obviously this is location-dependent) they at least used to be the only medical provider around that has a 24/7 urgent care. I’ve had a couple of times when I needed urgent care in the middle of the night (for a broken finger once, for example), and it was SO nice not having to go to the emergency room. It wasn’t crowded at all (and I almost always end up with the same doctor for the middle of the night care; apparently that’s his preferred shift). And they have a new rule (which may be more widespread than just Kaiser; I don’t know if it’s a new law in my area or not) that I really appreciate, that if a doctor is doing anything to you that involves you being undressed (say, a pelvic or prostrate exam), they require another person (a nurse, PA, etc.) to be in the exam room. It totally helped me feel safer; I’d never had any issues with doctors/nurses/PAs being sketchy, but it made me feel like they cared about my safety. (I’m not naive, I know it’s also protecting their staff from accusations, but it’s one of those nice things that goes both ways.) And as others have said, it’s nice not having to worry about “surprise bills”. I have had a few providers there that I had a bad experience, but I’ve been able to just not schedule any more appointments with those staff, and it hasn’t been an issue.

    19. Tiffany V*

      I have Kaiser in Northern Virginia and we love it. It’s just me and my husband, early-mid 30s, no kids, no chronic conditions. We love the electronic record, the video visits — they are really good with the customer service/tech side of it. My husband has anxiety and was able to get therapist appts at the facility near our house with no problem or huge wait. I love that I can get my birth control mailed to me. Essentially, 100% a positive experience here. I had a friend who had them and had lupus and she also had a positive experience. But agree with the others that it depends on which area you’re in; if you’re in DC/VA/MD, I’d say it’s worth a shot. There are so many facilities and doctors here, which helps too.

    20. ShinyPenny*

      Kaiser intersects weirdly with Medicare, in my sample size of one.
      I thought my relative needed to go to a Skilled Nursing Facility (aka ‘SNIFF’) after a serious illness. Several staff of the hospital agreed and told me it would be easy– except that my relative has Kaiser and therefore it was impossible. It was incredibly frustrating and scary– and I still have no understanding about what the story really is.
      Also, in our area, Kaiser farms out hospitalizations to a different hospital next door–but the people we dealt with were a random (to us) assortment of Kaiser and non-Kaiser staff. Communication was an issue.
      My relative did get the care needed, but only because my SIL and I both have health care experience and are willing/able to make effective noise (ie, appeal to Medicare, etc). We did not win the SNF but they did keep her hospitalized slightly longer.

      On the plus side, the other Medicare-related difference is that Kaiser is obligated to provide medically necessary care. In our area, sometimes specialists will refuse to take a new Medicare patient, because the reimbursement rate is so low– it can be really hard for people with Medicare to access care because of this. Kaiser patients don’t have this issue, which can be a huge plus.

      From a non-Medicare sample size of one, I have also been able to get care from non-Kaiser sources when Kaiser does not have what I want/need (3-D breast imaging, more physically accessible imaging). But they will not mention this. You have to know what is out there, and be able to state why it’s medically necessary for you. Then you may or may not get Kaiser to agree to pay for it.

  12. Not Driving*

    So, one thing I enjoyed growing up is camping, and I’ve tried to do it as an adult, but all of my camping trips as an adult have been with my dad driving, because I don’t have a license. And as I approach the age of 30, it’s abundantly clear that getting a license isn’t a realistic option for me. I do not want to go further into why, because that just invites people to try to figure out “solutions” for me to get a license, and I don’t want to have the conversation about why I can’t drive. What I want to talk about is ways for me to go camping. Unfortunately, there will be no more camping trips with my father, who died at the beginning of the pandemic. So I need to find places I can go camping, without having the use of a car. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I’m willing to fly to other places, once the pandemic eases up. Yosemite is the option that immediately comes up, and I was going to try it this winter, but my reservation got cancelled due to the pandemic. My plan was to take a Greyhound to Merced to catch a YARTS bus, but that was assuming YARTS would actually be running, and was going to require staying the night in Merced both ways. It’s still an option in the future, but I got lucky, as Yosemite reservations are usually very hard to get, and I would really appreciate some other options, even options outside of California. Seattle, Dallas, and Denver are particularly cheap places for me to fly to, and I will eventually go to Portland for a bit, so those are all stronger options.

    I would like to mention that I have camped in snow before, and I would do so again. My cancelled Yosemite reservations were January, and I was expecting snow. I mention this because I come from a family that no longer celebrates Thanksgiving, so in normal times I fly to Canada for a few days, since everything is open there. So if you know of public transit accessible camping in Canada that’s open in November, it can be an option. Likewise, I had to cancel a birthday trip to Germany due to the pandemic, and at some point I will probably go to Germany, and incorporating a few days of camping into a larger Germany vacation could be doable. It is also likely I will eventually visit the United Kingdom again, specifically Scotland and northern England (in fact, I’ll probably do this during the Germany trip, and just take a few weeks), so campgrounds there can also be an option.

    1. Amey*

      In the UK (possibly Europe in general but I’m in the UK) this will be a lot easier than I think it will be in much of the US (which is where I’m from originally). This is particularly the case if you’re combining it with some hiking. But generally, you can get on a train or a coach (a long distance bus) and go pretty much anywhere in the country and be a walk, bus or taxi ride away from a campsite in a beautiful location. I live in a county that is a popular holiday destination. You can get on a train from London for two hours and get off at the beach, easy walking distance from multiple campsite.

      What I can’t guarantee, however, is good camping weather!!

    2. Jo*

      Hmm. You can definitely camp without needing to drive there, but it definitely adds another layer of complexity – mainly because public transport to camping sites isnt usually the best. Alas, the feature that makes camping great often (remote isolated beautiful locations!) also makes them bad for public transport. I cant speak much for the US, but for the trips I’ve done in Europe, while there is public transport, if you want to be somewhere pretty or more remote – it will be very limited (think 2-4 busses a day type limited) and you may need to be happy doing a bit of walking as well (ie the bus stop will be in the local village and you’ll need to walk to wherever the campsite is). So you’ll need to plan really well, while also being aware that rural public transport can be quite unreliable.

      One question for me is what level of camping are you talking about? Are we talking small lightweight tents, with just sleeping bags and food and portable stoves camping? Or full blown take the whole house with you type camping? Or rent accommodation on a campsite? Some are obviously easier to do without a car than the other.

      Honestly, the first and most boring answer I have is find friends who like to go camping? That solved a lot of my problems when I was younger and couldnt drive!

    3. Washi*

      Rocky Mountain National Park might work well for you! You would have to take a private and I think kind of expensive airport shuttle from Denver to the town of Estes Park, but then there are free shuttles into the actual park that goes around to the campgrounds and the main trail access points. Driving is actually kind of discouraged around the park to prevent congestion. It’s a gorgeous place, though a little too popular for me, but that means it has really great infrastructure. However, I think most of the services shut down for the winter, so it might not be a good option for going like, right now.

    4. Jim Bob*

      No solutions, just admiring the grit of someone who can enjoy camping in November in Canada. Brr.

    5. Mourning Reader*

      Can you clarify, do you mean camping by yourself with only the equipment you can carry, or, would you be interested in a group trip, or renting a rustic cabin or RV rather than bringing a tent?

      If a group trip would be of interest, I’m sure there are tours like that. Years ago I took the Green Tortoise bus over to Yosemite and environs, sort of camping like.

      Otherwise I’m sure there are Kamping Kabins at state parks and KOAs all over the US, where you could take a train or bus and then Uber or taxi to your site. In my location in southern Michigan you could take the train from Chicago and go to Warren Dunes or a number of private campgrounds near the Lake or on their own lakes. It gets more difficult if you want to get more remote.

    6. DistantAudacity*

      Come to Oslo, Norway!

      You can take the subway (well, it turns into an overground) straight up to the edges of the forest. From there you can hike, and find a camping spot. There is public right of use of the land, and rules on how long you can stay in the same spot (2 nights, I think), so do check up on that.

      Or, you can take a train up to the mountains (Finse), and go hiking from there (advanced option).

    7. Casey*

      You should look into “adventure” outfitters, and see if any of them offer a shuttle service! Sometimes the smaller ones will be willing to pick you up and drop you off, even if it’s not listed on their website. It might not be cheap, but it also comes with the local knowledge!

    8. Generic Name*

      What about camping with a friend who drives? Do you mean “car camping” where you take a carload of camping stuff to an established campsite and stay there for several days or are you talking about backpacking where you carry everything you need on your back and camp in the backcountry?

      I agree that camping in national parks would be ideal for you. Have you looked at sites like meetup for camping groups? I imagine some folks would be up for carpooling for a camping trip, especially if you chip in for gas or agree to cook some shared meals.

      If you plan to solo camp (and this goes for anyone) I implore you to check in with a ranger station before you leave so if anyone from back home reports you missing, search and rescue will have a head start knowing where you are. I’d also get an emergency beacon. And if you do any winter camping in the backcountry of mountainous regions, please please take avalanche awareness classes. Not only does it keep you safe, it also keeps your potential rescuers safe. Colorado has had an onslaught of folks new to the state or visiting from out of state who get in trouble in the backcountry and need rescuing, and our resources are stretched to the bone.

      1. Not Driving*

        I actually lived in Colorado for a couple years, but I never got to camp there. Good looking out on the avalanche safety tips. Winter camping is a whole thing. Like, I’ve done it, and I like it, but it really takes a lot of preparation and knowing what you’re doing, because so many things can go wrong. Without a vehicle to leave in if things go wrong, it’s even more essential to know exactly what you’re doing. Honestly, that’s one reason I booked Yosemite. It was to be first time doing this alone, without my father around, and I booked a developed camp site with a camp host and staffed ranger station just in case. It’s too bad the pandemic put a stop to that idea.

    9. Not Driving*

      Thanks for all the advice. A few people have asked me what type of camping. I’ve inherited my dad’s backpacking gear, which seems ideal for packing into a plane or onto a train or bus, but given my transport issues, I expect established campgrounds will be easier to reach. So, lightweight gear and only what I can carry while hiking without assistance, but established campgrounds that at the very least have potable water pumps, since water is too heavy to lug without a vehicle. Every established National Park/California State Park campground (IE meant for car camping, not for backpacking) I’ve been to has a potable water pump, not sure how it is in Europe.

      1. Imtheone*

        For the potable water issue, there are light weight filers and also tablets that take care of the dangers of giardia and other microorganisms in the water. My family backpacks, and certainly cannot carry enough water for a multi-day trip. They gather water and run it through the filter. If you like a lot of water during the day, then lugging that along can be hard. The filters take 20 minutes to process about a quart of water. The tablets must have time to dissolve and kill of what is in the water. (They also make the water taste weird, but a little powdered lemonade mix can help with that.)
        Backpacking gear is very suited to taking on a plane.
        Best of luck!

        1. Washi*

          Yes, a water filter is essential! As long as you check your route to make sure you know which streams you must absolutely stop at because there won’t be another one for a bit, it means you don’t need to carry much water at a time. I have a Katadyn filtered water bottle and carry it with me even just on longer day hikes because I can drink straight from it and I don’t really need to worry about running out of water. I’ve actually never used tablets and just do the filter and never had a problem in my area.

    10. Canadian Camping Fan*

      Years ago I took buses through the UK and stayed at youth hostels. Occasionally someone with camping gear would hop off the bus at a random spot and I was told that they could wait by the road a few days later and the bus would pick them up. It sounded like a fun plan. I don’t know if that’s still an option, but the bus companies could tell you.

      I had a great time camping in Gros Morne and I made it work by paying for a friend’s flight and the rental car for them to drive me. It was $2000 for a company’s week-long guided camping tour, and $1500 for the friend’s flight and car. And with the friend I had more flexibility and guaranteed good company. I paid for my friend because they wouldn’t have made the trip otherwise.

      There are often transit options from cities to parks in Canada. Outdoor stores (Bushtukah, MEC, etc) sometimes organise trips, and I found a transit website that has been operational since 2010 (I’ll post separately).

    11. Keener*

      Instant pot recipe recommendations please. I am looking for websites/blogs focused on pressure cooker recipes. If you also love Smitten Kitchen and have a go to site for your pressure cooker I’d love to hear about it.

    12. noahwynn*

      If you’re open to backpacking, you can fly to many places along the Appalachian Trail and there are shuttles that will take you to the trailhead. You can plan a section hike that aligns with the amount of time you’re wanting to spend, you don’t have to through-hike the entire trail.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I’m wondering if other thru hikes would be good for this, since one typically wouldn’t want to leave one’s car at the starting point for months when you are going to end up thousands of miles away. The Pacific Quest and Continental Divide trails would be closer, and possibly well known enough to have infrastructure. Or maybe not-the Appalachian is much more traveled.

        I’d also suggest canoe camping. Around here the best rivers are out in the boonies, but once you get there, a guy with a pickup drives you and the canoe to the drop off spot. Maybe some lakes up in Wisconsin? Then you camp on the sandbanks.

      2. Chi chan*

        I thought of the Appalachian Trail and PCT too. Both have extensive online forums and book guides. Also it might be possible to find uber or lyft if you stick to popular landmarks for day trips.

    13. Not Alison*

      Do you want to camp solo or are you open to camping with other people? When I wanted to camp I joined my local Sierra Club and went camping quite a bit with that group. They were into car-pooling and as long as you were willing to pay your fair share of the car costs, you were welcome to ride with someone to the camping spot.
      On the other hand if you are a solo camper, that may not be your cup of tea.

    14. oranges & lemons*

      If you like to cycle, bike camping can be a good alternative to driving. I took a cycling trip in the Netherlands, which was great–they have a giant bike trail system with campgrounds and also a hosting program (Friends of Bikers). I’m sure other bike-friendly countries have similar systems.

      You could also try joining a hiking or outdoor exploration club, which tend to organize large camping trips, and you can carpool or arrange a shuttle for everyone. I haven’t done this myself, but apparently it can be a really good way to learn new skills, like ice climbing or snow camping.

    15. Skeeder Jones*

      So it sounds like your main barrier to awesome camping trips is the transportation to get there. I wonder if there are some facebook or meet up camping groups you could start networking with and join other people on their trips? Or if you still want to camp solo, you can maybe just share the ride with them. I grew up camping and did a lot of camping as an adult as well before fibromyalgia made it less than enjoyable. I hope you find ways to get out there in the wild!

    16. WS*

      If you ever go to Japan, there’s fantastic, clean and cheap public transport to just about anywhere you might want to go, including camping grounds and national parks. OTOH, I currently live in Australia and you’ve got no chance of getting anywhere remote by public transport – rural public transport is very poor and focused entirely on towns. There’s lots of tours along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria that take you to places to camp and pick you up X days later, though, plus beautiful hiking trails along the coast.

    17. SEM*

      In non-pandemic times, there are buses and shuttle buses that would get you to Point Reyes National Seashore, where there are lots of camping options with short or long walks. I’d also recommend Armstrong Redwoods in Guerneville, which may require a combo of buses and trains, but I think should be accessible. The camping would require a short to medium walk. Salt Point State Park is awesome, up highway 1, but I don’t know if there are bus routes that go there.

  13. Furloughed in Texas*

    Removed because this is the non-work thread, but you’re welcome to post it on next Friday’s work thread.

  14. Clementine*

    Are there ways to buy e-books for my kindle that aren’t Amazon and support indie bookstores instead?

    I just treated myself to a kindle paperwhite. I chose kindle because it’s so universal but I try to avoid Amazon purchases. My library has overdrive/Libby, so I can rent (I think), but what about buying e-books? Any kindle tips appreciated, thanks!

    1. Green great dragon*

      Project Gutenberg is fab for out-of-copyright books. They’re free, just throw them a small contribution every now and then if you can.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      I was going to suggest overdrive/Libby, that’s how I get most of my books on my kindle. One thing I actually learned yesterday about overdrive is that if a book isn’t in your library network, you can look in another nearby network and they may have it! So be sure to scroll to the bottom of the search results in overdrive and see what other libraries you can search in, it may open up a lot more options for borrowing books rather than buying it.

      But other than that, I’m not sure you can buy books for a device that literally has Amazon’s logo carved on its back from somewhere other than Amazon. I hope I’m wrong – a quick google search didn’t look encouraging, so I’m interested to see what others have to say.

      1. pancakes*

        Yes, you can. You can also use the Kindle app without buying a device from Amazon – I’ve used it on various iPhones for years. eBooks released via Hummingbird Digital Media are compatible with it, as is plain old pdf. I’m sure there are other formats I’m leaving out. I just checked Verso’s site (a publisher I’ve bought a number of books from, paper and ebooks) and they use epub (for all ebook readers except Kindle) and mobi (for Kindle).

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      If you like SF or fantasy, try Bookview Cafe: https://bookviewcafe.com/bookstore/

      It’s an author cooperative, selling members’ books.

      Also, if you can get ebooks in any format, Calibre is a free program that will convert books from one format to another, including to Kindle format.

    4. Independent book stores rock!!*

      While I have never done it, I just checked out my local independent book store website, and they sell ebooks via Hummingbird. So it seems possible! Maybe check out your local bookstore and see what they offer. Thanks so much for trying to support local businesses!

    5. Otter Dance*

      Well, if you like science fiction or fantasy, check out the Baen Books website. One of the formats they offer is Kindle.
      It might be worth checking out other publishers’ websites to see if they sell ebooks directly. If they do, they probably offer multiple formats.

    6. Anon100*

      Some of my fav authors sell their own books directly from their websites using BookFunnel. I think it’s for more for direct selling/buying of self-published books than having an intermediary seller though.

    7. oranges & lemons*

      Yes! You can buy ebooks from some bookstores (although not all indie bookstores have platforms that allow it) or directly from the publisher. I always try to buy from a local bookstore or publisher, because very little of an Amazon payment will go directly to the author or publisher.

      1. pancakes*

        That is one of my reasons for recommending Bookshop dot org – the About page explains how the site works with independent bookstores and how the proceeds are split.

  15. hack in training*

    Hi everyone! I asked a week or so ago on the Friday thread about a pending job offer, and I’m thrilled to update that I accepted the offer! It’s my first full-time job out of college (I graduated in May and have been living at home with my parents since) so I’m super excited, but I’m also moving into my own apartment for the first time.
    It’s about a 600 mile move, from a southern state to the midwest, though it’s near where I went to college so I’m mostly familiar with the climate, etc. I’ve secured an apartment, my mom generously agreed to come with me to help me get settled, so now I just have to get packed. As I said, it’s my first time living on my own, so any advice you guys have for moving, finding furniture, living alone, etc., etc., would be so greatly appreciated! I figured it’s probably much easier and cheaper to buy furniture there than move with the few pieces I do have, so I need pretty much everything.
    Do you guys have any tips/advice/secrets to moving out? Thanks!

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      Congratulations! I loved living alone when I was in my 20s…it can offer a lot of clarity about what you really like, rather than what is an acceptable compromise with roommates or family. As to acquisitions, see if your new community has a free cycle group or a virtual yard sale website. In my town, people are generally thrilled to pass furniture and household goods along at little or no cost to the recipient just to know we’re not stuffing landfills. Back in the day I bought a couch and 2 chairs at a thrift shop for $16. I still have the chairs (painted wood ladderback) and they bring back fond memories.

    2. Office Grunt*

      Where in the Midwest?

      Moving: Rubber/plastic totes are your best friends. Stackable, and they can be re-used as storage after the move.

      If you don’t mind used furniture, look for a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in the area.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I moved a lot in college and as a young adult, and then I moved again several times in middle age. I think you can find two broad “first apartment” strategies. The first is to look for individual bargains at resale shops or on sale in stores or online. You can find great individual kitchen equipment, pieces of furniture, etc. if you’re willing to poke around and explore. (In the old days that was all in-person, but I think the same applies now to online purchases.) The second is to go to one inexpensive location and buy most of your stuff there.

      The benefit of the first option, other than the thrill of the hunt, is that you can find really nice things that will last for years. Heavy cast-iron enamel pots, good small kitchen appliances, a really nice chest of drawers that feels like an heirloom. The drawbacks are, it’s time-consuming, you don’t always find things you love and then you have to compromise or keep looking, sometimes you wind up with things that don’t match at all, and it’s actually easy to over-purchase.

      The benefit of the second option is mostly one-stop shopping, everything is in a similar style, you can go in with a list and get exactly what you need.

      Having done both, I strongly recommend using Ikea or someplace similar for items that you don’t need to have excellent quality right away, and that you are willing to replace when you find and can afford something better. I would furnish my entire kitchen from Ikea except for one really good quality heavy pot and one really good frying pan. I would get all my furniture there except for a bed and a sofa or comfortable chair. (I’m fine with their drawer assemblies for dressers and side tables, but I don’t like their file drawers, so if you need a desk with file options I’d go elsewhere.)

      While it can seem a bit soulless to furnish a place primarily with inexpensive pressboard, in my experience most furniture in apartments fades into the background. You don’t actually want every piece to be a statement piece, and by having a consistent style the Ikea pieces provide a neutral backdrop to the things that do reflect your personality – upholstered furniture, rugs and textiles, art, books, etc.

      1. Llellayena*

        Do not buy knives at Ikea. They will never be sharp. A halfway decent set of knives from a kitchen store is the better bet. But Ikea is fantastic for a lot of things, but be picky about quality. I do love their lamps though…

      2. Anne Kaffeekanne*

        Seconding IKEA or a similar store, especially due to the pandemic going on. I moved last year and was originally planning to get a lot more of my furniture from thrift shops etc but… it felt irresponsible, in the end, since it would have involved going to lots of shops with no guarantee of finding anything. I ended up doing click and collect from IKEA and one other furniture store for all the furniture I really needed.

      3. Otter Dance*

        I actually love the slatted support in my IKEA bed, but the sofa selection…. uggghhh!

        Another place to consider, if you don’t mind a little in person shopping, is a furniture rental store that sells their returns. Anything flimsy or poorly made already broke during the rental period. You really have to go look, and sit, for yourself, because even after cleaning and fumigation, condition can vary widely. Then again, who would buy a sofa without trying it out first? But furniture covers can hide worn or stained upholstery, and pull together things that don’t otherwise coordinate.

        Kitchen stuff: unless you’re really tall, a step stool is vital to make the best use of the top shelves – I even store a few seldom-used items on top of the upper cabinets. If you can find a step stool with a seat, that’s a bonus.
        Think about storage space. We have an ongoing battle with mugs that don’t stack, for example. A knife block may be good for the knives, but can you spare the counter space?

      4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Ha! I did the first, picking out furniture on Craigslist and at thrift stores. My brother did the second-three pickup loads from IKEA, a day or two putting everything together, and done.

        I think we are both very happy with our choice.

        1. Girasol*

          I second that. Thrift stores and (in season) yard sales and flea markets are a great place to pick up kitchen supplies like small appliances and cookware. You can make a lovely set of mismatched antique dishes by buying what strikes your fancy, as many pieces as you want, and then add and replace as needed. Wooden furniture items like bureaus and tables, if not perfect as they stand, can be made so with a little stain, varnish or paint. A mattress is best bought new, but Amazon has a number of brands like Tuft and Needle that ship compressed into a small package, expand amazingly, are top quality, and come at a better price than old fashioned mattress store offerings.

          1. Pippa K*

            And as a bonus, mismatched dishes can look like a deliberate design choice. Everything blue and white but random patterns, or lots of mixed antique florals, etc. Pairing vintage china, which is easy to find cheaply at thrift/charity shops, with sleeker modern glasses and flatware can be a great look.

    4. Llellayena*

      Clearance sections, floor models, warehouse style stores are all good places for furniture. Keep your mind open. I got the top half of a hutch (the bottom half had been sold) from a good quality furniture store for free from the clearance section. It made a fantastic tv stand. And since it was a small apartment, I bough a loveseat instead of a full couch and saved a couple hundred dollars. You’ll probably find some going out of business sales right now too. Don’t discount mildly broken furniture. One of my favorite pieces is a leather (faux) wing chair that originally had casters on the front legs. One caster was broken when I bought it but I swapped both casters out for metal cabinet knobs for about $10 and it’s wonderful. Don’t skimp on mattress quality, that’s worth spending the best you can afford.

    5. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Lots of good suggestions here. As an old guy looking back, I would suggest buying very little of anything to start with. Then you can decide what you really need as time goes by, and get it using the strategies others have suggested. It’s ok to have a place with nothing but a bed and a table, and a few kitchen items for a few weeks. Most of all, avoid using credit to furnish your place. No “rent to own” or “0% interest for x months”, no matter how tempting. If you can start out avoiding debt and make it a habit, you will eliminate a lot of potential stress later in life.

      1. Dan*

        I agree with you on most of this.

        What’s worked for me over the years is that if I decided I “need” something that I never owned before, buy the cheap thing. Use it (or not). Get used to what it does, and when it breaks or no longer works, *then* buy the expensive thing if you know what you will use it for, or what it does that the cheap stuff won’t. This is especially true in the kitchen, where one can go broke in a New York minute if one isn’t careful. The interesting thing is, quite often, “cheap” is pretty good, and you will be happy you didn’t spend the extra money.

        I’m with on avoiding rent to own. That’s essentially financing purchases with extremely high APR. High APR financing must be avoided.

        I’m not with you on avoiding 0% APR financing as a blanket rule. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying finance your life to the hilt like that, but for the right purchases under the right circumstances, 0% APR is a fine way to go.

        1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

          It can be ok if you are disciplined enough to make payments and get it paid off before the 0% expires, but it is still spending money you don’t have yet, which (in my experience) is generally not a good idea, especially when just starting out.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          This; unless you need something for a short period of time and intend to return it, rent-to-own is basically a scam. It costs more than financing something new. I’m really pissed that it’s even legal.

    6. More Coffee Please*

      First of all, congrats!!

      I agree what “I need coffee” said above (clearly, our usernames are in sync, too!). I’m in my late 20s now, but I moved around a lot right out of college for work. I definitely suggest starting small and only buying items when you need them. Obviously there are exceptions when it’s something you know you’ll need, but hang off on other stuff. Buying stuff you think you *might* need often turns into not using something for years and then having to give it away almost new.

      Facebook marketplace, buy nothing groups, and other similar sites are great for finding gently used items, as well (and often those almost new items that someone bought and never needed).

      A random suggestion, but if your apartment doesn’t have great lighting, buying enough lamps to make it feel cheery is a big help. My current apartment has overhead lighting, so I didn’t think I’d need lights, but the soft lighting from the lamps makes such a big difference in my mood.

      For several years I lived with really basic furniture but during the pandemic got the urge to decorate more. I started watching YouTube videos, and there are some great ones out there on interior decorating. I really liked Alexander Gater’s channel.

      I was worried about living alone for the first time but actually loved it. To be fair, I loved it more when there wasn’t a pandemic restricting social activities, but still.

      Enjoy your new place and your new job!

    7. ronda*

      I moved recently with nothing that didnt fit in my car and bought my new stuff in the begining of pandemic shut down :)

      If you are buying new:

      The mattress store had stuff on hand and delivered exactly when wanted.
      The furniture store (for sofa and chair) takes 6 weeks to deliver, and took a couple extra weeks because of pandemic.

      Kitchen stuff — I ordered from amazon.

    8. Buy Good Knives*

      If we were real-life friends, I would send you a starter knife set from Rada Knives. My ex brought a set with him when he moved in back in 2003 and I was heartbroken when he moved out last year and took them with him. He had gotten them from his parents when he first moved out in his early 20’s (we’re in our mid-50s) and so he had no idea what brand they were or where they came from.

      I posted a picture of my favorite knife in the set (the “Stubby Butcher”, it turns out) and within a few minutes, a FB friend said it looked like her mom’s Rada knives. And, yep, that’s what it was!

      I now have 10-12 of their knives and LOOOOOVE them. I bought a bamboo stand with a strong magnet inside of it to put the knives on so they don’t lose their [very sharp] edge getting jostled around in a drawer (and so I don’t cut myself when I go digging through the cutlery drawer).

      Anyway, they have a starter bridal set that I’ve given to all of my friends who have moved into their own place. The best thing is that they are ridiculously affordable.

    9. Katrin*

      Buy the bare essentials first then afterwards see what you need instead of trying to buy all your furnishings at once. This means you don’t buy anything you don’t need and are more mindful of the things you do. Create a list of things that you need to get next time you go furniture shopping and add to it as you need to. You can buy a lot of good stuff on reselling sites, but a good browse through IKEA is sometimes the best way to find a solution to a problem you thought insolvable. For me, it was a draining board that had bowed in the middle and was collecting grime. Turns out you can buy slanted draining boards!

      Various other points:
      Command hooks are very useful for putting up wall decor without using nails.
      I recommend just buying some anyway. Buy a decent toolkit (cheap screwdrivers tend to have bits that wear out quickly).
      A plant can improve air quality in your flat (useful when you work from home) and I think there are psychological benefits too (though that’s unsourced).
      Please take care of your mental health as you adjust to solo life, sometimes you don’t realise how beneficial living with parents is.

    10. Colette*

      Back when I moved out, it wa the stuff I didn’t think about that was a pain – garbage cans, laundry hamper, cleaning supplies, etc. Make sure you remember that stuff.

  16. Mourning Reader*

    I asked a couple of weeks ago about how to learn about money. I’m following up with some of the resources mentioned, thank you! I was thinking that maybe managing this could become a new hobby/activity in retirement, but so far I find it rather dull. My mind wanders and concepts are difficult to grasp, even with the modestly entertaining Boglehead books. So maybe active involvement is not for me, but that’s OK, as the best advice seems to be picking something and sticking with it long term.

    Meanwhile, I am thinking about 2 other possibilities:

    1. buying another house nearby and renting it out. Example: spend $100,000 on a house, rent it for $500 a month, it pays for itself in about 17 years, and I still own the house. (Obv simplification ignoring other expenses.) How do I evaluate this kind of return against other investments? Is it something to consider? I know being a landlord can be a PITA, but I already have my small house to take care of and if the other were nearby, it might not be much more trouble.
    2. Exploring micro loans. I read about this years ago, as a way to support people in bad economic circumstances by providing start up expenses for new businesses and such, while still having the possibility (probability?) of returns for the lender. Is this still around? Is it working? Any recommendations for learning about it or getting in on it? Any other ideas about using money to advance social justice or reduce poverty? (Other than giving it away, working on that too but it’s a separate question.)

    I know I can google around and otherwise research these questions, but y’all are such a knowledgeable bunch! I appreciate the help getting pointed in the right direction.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      My friend is a landlord. After seeing what he has been through there is no way I would ever consider doing this.
      The overarching advice I see on real estate is that unless you are one of the Few Blessed Ones in the US, then you will probably lose money on real estate. Figure on losing money. Calling landlording a PITA is a huge understatement.
      I have another friend who decided to invest in several houses. It’s been a nightmare. Here in NYS the laws are in favor of the tenant and the LL has little recourse. Recently, one tenant owed a LL 18k. It’s reasonable to assume that landlord will never, ever see that money.

      1. Dan*

        Yup. Landlording is not something to get into for passive income. I learned this the hard way… as the tenant.

        Years back, I had a landlady who didn’t really want to put the work in to her properties. She also lived and worked her day job several miles from the rental, and did not use a property management company. (This was an area where urban sprawl is *a thing* and jumping on the freeway for a “quick trip” to check out the rental is not to be undertaken lightly.) I also had been renting from management companies for years, so I was used to making one call and things would get taken care of.

        It turned out that landlady was renting illegally. This ultimately caused her giant headaches. I believe she lost the property a few years after I moved out.

        I walked away from that situation thinking that one must be nuts to be a mom-and-pop landlord. If one recognizes one’s crazyness and is still inclined to be a landlord, then one must know exactly what they are doing, or they can be bitten *hard*.

        Do not do not do not get into mom-and-pop landlording for “the passive income.” It doesn’t exist. It’s a lot of work, and if you do it wrong, you can lose a lot of money.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          “Do not do not do not get into mom-and-pop landlording for “the passive income.” It doesn’t exist. It’s a lot of work, and if you do it wrong, you can lose a lot of money.”

          I 100% agree with this. I posted below about my nightmare. I think the only way to make money off a rental is if you have a very low mortgage payment and charge at least market price for the rent, or you own the property free and clear. Plus you need good tenants that will actually pay, which is why a property management company is a must. They’ll do most everything and the landlord won’t have to do much, but it does cost money.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      On micro loans – I put a $25 Kiva loan per month into my budget a year ago, and at this point the monthly returns are averaging enough that I can just reinvest them to cover my $25 instead of adding new cash if I want to. But I can also withdraw the returns, and have done without any issues in the past.

    3. pancakes*

      I recommend a Sept. 2019 article by Marnie Brady titled, “Workers and Renters of the World, Unite!” for background on the intersection of housing and social justice. There are links to lots of additional information and groups in it.

    4. Grits McGee*

      When I was renting, I toured a house where the owner had basically contracted out the “landlording” to a property management company that handled everything for her- collecting rent, finding tenants, maintenance, etc. That could possibly be an option to reduce stress and bother, but I imagine it would take a big chunk of your profits.

    5. fposte*

      Just noting that as far as I’m concerned, yes, the best money management is pretty dull because you really don’t do much. I think that’s part of why the Bogleheads forum can wring pages out of bland IRA questions; we’re trying to get some entertainment value out of it. (BTW, if you’ve only checked out the Boglehead books the forums can be very helpful too, though obviously like any forum it has its own skew.)

      I would be personally unsuited for landlording—it seems like it requires too much action to be really passive income. I haven’t tried microlending, but Kiva is the platform I’ve heard of the most for that. There are also borrowing subs on Reddit: they’re kind of Wild Westy, but there are some regular lenders who seem to find it worthwhile.

    6. Generic Name*

      So what is your ultimate goal? Are you wanting a passive income stream? Are you wanting a hobby that you make some money off of (also known as a side hustle)? For what purpose? I assume for retirement? What time frame are you looking at? If you’re looking 20 years plus down the line and are ok with a more moderate rate of return, it’s hard to beat putting your money in an index fund a d not touching it for a decade, but I realize that’s a boring answer. Are you looking for some excitement/entertainment too? Maybe carve out a small amount (small enough you won’t be sad to lose) and download the Robin Hood investing app. A side benefit to this is it’s really pissing off Wall Street hedge fund managers. :)

      1. pancakes*

        I encourage you to read up on the link between Robinhood and quant trading firms like Citadel, as that has really pissed off some users as well. Robinhood was built by HFT guys and is paid for its order flow by these firms. Please also note that Robinhood was fined $65 million by the SEC in December 2020 for misleading customers about the source of its income.

    7. Dan*

      Re: micro loans

      I messed around with this a few years ago. There are a couple of different “products” out there. Kiva-style loans that RRAF mentions do not provide a financial return to the lender. So if you want to “make money” this isn’t the place.

      The other option are “peer to peer lending” platforms that *do* allow the lender to make money. I messed around with these circa 2007 and had a net loss on my loans. I haven’t kept up with the changes in the platforms since then, so I can’t tell you if those platforms are better for making money now. I suspect not by much.

      The theory of peer-to-peer lending sounds good, but what I learned about what was then termed “high risk” borrowers was that people in this category overall are in a lot of denial about their financial situation and are overly optimistic about what dead burdens they can manage.

      Let’s face it, if the banks could make money off these people, they would.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      My only advice here is to really, REALLY think about whether you want to be a landlord or not. I’ve done and it was horrible. I’d never do it again. We were responsible for all the maintenance and repairs, which can be expensive and a huge time suck. Plus, you’ll be having to worry about paying for that stuff for TWO houses. If something breaks in the rental, you can’t really put it off the way you could in your own home. Also, I had to evict tenants twice in six years and it cost me so much time, a ton of money, and endless worry. (And yes, we absolutely made mistakes, which made it even worse.) I know three other people who have been landlords and two of the three said they’d never do it again (one had tenants that totally trashed the place upon leaving–like they had to rip up entire rooms of flooring).

      That said, if this is something you truly want to do, absolutely pay the money each month to get a good property manager and make sure the tenants are screened so you hopefully don’t end up with people who won’t bother paying their rent.

      1. Washi*

        Just wanted to say that it’s your posts about your nightmare tenants that I remind myself of whenever I have a brief daydream about buying a duplex and renting out the other half. I hope all of the headache and heartache is behind you now!

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yes, it is! Thanks so much. :) (Man, that was such a rough period of my life.) We closed on the sale of the house a week before my back surgeries back in February 2020, which of course was right when the pandemic was heating up in the US, so I was able to focus on recovery–physically, mentally and financially. I am so, SO thankful we were able to sell it. We sold it at a loss, but we didn’t care. And I’m especially thankful we evicted the tenants several months before that. Had we not been able to, we’d still be stuck with them, not paying rent, due to the moratorium on evictions.

      2. Dan*

        Uh huh. I see your reply to me above, but I’m going to attach something here:

        Real estate is a numbers game, and I think one thing that works against mom-and-pop landlords (and is totally glossed over, albeit acknowledged) is that “one bad tenant” can really screw you hard. Whereas one bad tenant in a larger complex just gets lost in the noise.

        If you’ve got one unit, and one bad tenant, you can easily go *months* without collecting money on the unit. Can you (general you) really afford that? If you get a tenant who is “judgement proof” (meaning that even if they lose a civil suit, there is no practical way to force recovery of damages) you’re toast. Those people are bad enough, but they’ll leave eventually… after your legal bills pile up. If you get a professional deadbeat who knows how to play the game, you’re really screwed, because they can delay and stall and get you to do things that reset certain clocks.

        And if you’re thinking of buying property in areas that are covered by rent control laws, think very, very hard about what you’re doing. Professional deadbeats + rent controlled properties can put a small landlord into bankruptcy.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Professional deadbeat–that was our first set of tenants. The wife knew exactly how to work the system and several times I had to restart the clock because I made a mistake with a form or something (we did the eviction on our own and had never done this before), which bought them extra time. I sued in small claims court and surprisingly got the money. Although her husband ended up having to pay it, because she decided to have an affair and left him holding the bag. (To this day I’m convinced her husband either didn’t know she wasn’t paying the rent, or he didn’t know the extent of it.)

          The second tenants, friends of a friend, had issues of their own making that led to them not paying rent, but were not professional deadbeats. I was planning to sue them in small claims for the back rent and all the damage they did when they left, but the pandemic hit and I just couldn’t bring myself to sue them at that time. I still plan to eventually even though I know I’ll never see the money.

          Paying the mortgage on my residence plus the mortgage on the rental was horrible and we did it for many months. Evictions don’t happen within weeks–it’s more like months because of the process of serving the papers, waiting for deadlines, etc. And it’s even harder when they have kids or it’s wintertime.

          1. Dan*

            “Paying the mortgage on my residence plus the mortgage on the rental was horrible and we did it for many months. ”

            When contingency planning for pretty much anything is discussed, one thing that will come is the likelihood that some extreme event is going to happen. What also needs to be considered is the extent of the damages.

            I quoted your “months” above, but TBH, if one is considering mom-and-pop land lording, one needs to be in a position to cover not getting rent on the unit for a year. (Either a non-paying tenant or nobody wants to rent it.) Then, one should realistically have the means to put a landlord/tenant attorney on retainer. At that point, I’d say that someone is up to the task of actually thinking about whether this is the thing for them.

            If the hopeful landlord doesn’t have the means to cover those expenses, hopeful landlord should be aware that they could be one bad tenant away from financial disaster.

    9. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’d be more inclined to look at either donor mutual funds (Fidelity has them) or ESG funds versus straight micro loans but that’s just me.

    10. Canadian Camping Fan*

      I can’t remember the term, but I’ve heard that the more reliable investment is something which matches the overall stock market and for which you pay as little overhead as possible. Mutual funds rarely do as well after you pay for management fees.

      I have been a landlord and it went well. I rented to a friend of a friend, someone who wasn’t close to either of us but I got a recommendation of very high reliability and that was true. The rent was paid reliably for 8 years and I addressed all the problems remotely. I only stopped because I moved back to the area. The renter knew well ahead of time, and had always known that it was dependent on my being away. In my case I didn’t make money on the rent, but I have more equity in the home. If I were to consider having a rental for an investment I would consider…
      In Canada a rental mortgage can only have the interest deducted. I ‘lost’ money in taxes because I had paid off a lot of the home, whereas if I had bought the home more recently and was paying more in interest then I would have deducted more.
      When you sell a home here, you pay capital gains on the price increase. So if you buy it for $100k and sell it for $150k then you pay tax on $25k (capital gains is essentially ‘paying half the tax’). This won’t matter as much if you have a lower retirement income.
      Most important, what is the rent:buying ratio in your location. Do the numbers to see what is worthwhile. Assume you buy a home for $100k, and pay 20% downpayment to avoid mortgage insurance. That $80k mortgage will be $13k in principle and $7500 in interest for 5 years (quick online calculator). So $350 monthly, of which $125 is interest and can be deducted. City taxes here would be $100/month for that house, and those can also be deducted. You can also deduct repairs.
      Say you charge $725 + utilities. Of that $725, you deduct $100 + $125, so you would have to pay income taxes on $500. I had a regular job, so I paid high enough taxes (say $200) and that left me $300 to pay the $225 principle. So I had $75 each month to pay for repairs, and it took my time. In my case the benefit was having a home to return to, and I would have been better off if I had a retirement income.

      If you live in a place where the homes are $200k and the rent $500… that won’t work!

        1. Canadian Camping Fan*

          Thanks! I thought so, but didn’t want to be wrong. My quick search on google wasn’t helpful.

    11. MissGirl*

      I went super simple when I wanted to start dabbling in investments. I opened an account at SoFi. They let you choose your risk tolerance and then spread your money across a ratio of bonds and stocks based on your risk level. I put in a little each month to a conservative one and a riskier one. The investments are all indexes. From what I’ve learned most people who pick and choose stocks have the same returns or even less than indexes.

      If it goes up great, if it drops the money I’m putting in will buy stocks at a lower value.

    12. NoLongerYoung*

      Boring is good. Landlording has been covered. But … why? Are you chasing these things because you want an interesting investment? More return? (More return comes with more risk, and I have finance training and dont do anything riskier than the ultra low fee stock market index funds at Vanguard).
      If your mind is wandering and you are finding the learning of the basics boring, branching out from the basics is not the way (kindly said) to go first.
      There as are some awesome books written from different perspectives. I do understand-even with my (insert name of degree) , some of it is so dry that your eyes glaze.
      * You want to find someone who explains in a way that resonates.
      * Find some online calculators.
      * Maybe join a local stock investment group and do a modest shadow portfolio,.or keep investing (I do laddering….same amount in a balanced portfolio, month in month out, buy and hold, lowest fees.on Lippert 10 rated funds).
      *take the a small.ampunt of money and create a micro-share portfolio and try active management.
      But…at the end of the day, you may find this is not a hobby area, and a basic portfolio strategy…and a completely different hobby/retirement pastime is more fun.

      Just…think about your goals. My one dear friend who is actively managing his portfolio in retirement is the same guy who lines up his pencils in the same order, etc. Very meticulous. I’m not. So I choose a different route where I just invest and hold. We are coming out the same, but I have my interests elsewhere as I have more time.

    13. Taxachusetts*

      I do microlending through Kiva. You get to read through all of the projects to see who you want to support. You get a lot of regular updates and the loans are almost always paid back so you can go on to find lots of other people.

  17. Sled dog mama*

    So the incident I’m describing happened at work but it struck me as a issue with society and more appropriate for weekend thread discussion.
    Earlier this week I wore a scarf covering my hair to work (my hair was in need of washing and I overslept). I also have recently come to the conclusion that I would like to cover my hair regularly and was viewing this as a sort of trial run. I have one or two very judgmental coworkers and thought I was prepared for negative reactions from them. I was not prepared for how negative one reaction was or my reaction to the comment.
    I work in a cancer center so seeing women with a scarf covering their head is not an unusual thing. Several of my coworkers commented that my scarf was very lovely and I was really unprepared for how much more pretty I felt wearing it.
    At lunch one (particularly abrasive) coworker approached me and asked if I was becoming a [slur I will not repeat].
    I was somewhat speechless and could only reply that no I was not. The more I thought about it the more upset and mad I got. The slur she used typically refers to those who wear a turban for religious reasons. What if she said it in the hearing of a patient or to a patient who was covering their head for reasons besides hair loss. And then I thought about how that morning when I put my scarf on I had felt beautiful and after her comment I just felt sick. I don’t know how I could have reacted in the moment (I wanted to call her a moron but had the presence of mind to realize that would not go over well).
    Does anyone have any advice for general preparation for negative comments? I live in an area where a decent amount of the female population covers their head for religious reasons so I know people are aware of it.
    What can I do in my own head to help myself have less of a reaction to negative comments and how do I let them affect me less?
    Thanks!

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      That sounds like the perfect opportunity to use the shocked silence followed by an icy, “What did you just say?!” How to get out of your own head, I couldn’t say, but how you dress, assuming you’re dressed appropriately for the occasion at hand, is entirely your decision. Toddlers seem to have it down to a science- my niece used to dress up for grocery runs in sparkly lighted shoes, a fireman’s helmet, and a tutu. She had decided she looked beautiful, and so she was!

    2. Jay*

      I am so sorry this happened to you. If I heard that comment from someone at work (I’m a doc) I would either speak to her supervisor or call the anonymous compliance line. That’s religious harassment and it’s completely unacceptable for all the reasons you cite.

      The answer to your actual question is going to sound pat and trite. Self-care. I don’t mean massages or mani/pedis (although I miss both quite a lot). I mean emotional and spiritual self-care. Comments like that are about the person who makes the comment, not about you, and it’s really hard to remember that in the moment. I find I can avoid falling into the shame and self-hate much more readily when I’m feeling centered and calm. For me, that’s a regular prayer and meditation practice and making sure I have time in my day to really catch my breath and I don’t rush from one thing to another. That helps me ignore people like this and move on in peace.

      I haven’t yet been able to respond with empathic curiosity, which is the only productive way I know of to actually engage productively with racist comments. I wish I could say “Why do you say that?” with true interest.

      1. tangerineRose*

        “If I heard that comment from someone at work (I’m a doc) I would either speak to her supervisor or call the anonymous compliance line.” This!

        Seems like the supervisor would want to know about this.

    3. pancakes*

      It is entirely appropriate to have a reaction to and feel affected by someone making intensely bigoted comments. I’m sure there’s some good advice on this site about how to respond. A quick search just now pulled up a June 1, 2017 post titled “my coworker used a racial slur at our boss’s home,” and a Nov. 5, 2018 podcast titled, “my boss uses an offensive slur.” There are others if you search for slur.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I’m so sympathetic to letting one or two negative reactions spoil your own pleasure. Please keep dressing to please yourself, and if it helps, when you feel a bit stung ask yourself if you really want to dress in such a way that people that *that* will approve of you.

    4. Llellayena*

      Give a confused look and ask “Does it matter?” If she doubles down on it you can say “that’s rude and bigoted and I hope you never use that term around patients.”

    5. pieforbreakfast*

      I think having simple one/few word responses to fall back on makes it easier to say something. Feeling you need to have a come-to-Jesus statement prepared is too much for the moment. Like “Gross” or “what a gross comment” and then silence. 25 years ago I had a professor say that to us in overhearing conversation in class and it struck me more than any longer comment would have.

    6. ShinyPenny*

      I have read, and my own experience supports the idea, that being able to un-freeze and respond in the moment AT ALL really changes the dynamic. I feel less like a victim, and the bully is more likely to choose an “easier” victim (or a more accepting audience).
      My go-to is a calm, emphatic “That is NOT ok.” With full eye contact.
      The bully’s come back is always some variation of minimizing or explaining or whatever. A wall of words.
      I do not engage with any of that. I only repeat, “No. That is NOT ok.” As I walk away (ideally) or otherwise withdraw my attention.
      The great thing is, I never have to fumble around in the totally stressful moment of shocked surprise to competently articulate to a hostile audience *exactly* what was horrible about what they said. They know! They just want to keep messing with you!
      This strategy works for any topic: racism, body judging, sexism, homophobia, basic meanness…
      And I only have ONE thing to execute in that moment: Say my 4 words and walk away.
      Of course I aspire to more! But always being able to, at least, very clearly express my rejection of their meanness is so empowering, and really changes how I feel about the encounter. I can’t avoid being chosen as a target or drafted as an unwilling audience, because bullies are out there– but I can voice my total rejection of their ideas.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I bought dumbbells and they finally arrived yesterday. I’m looking forward to doing exercises with them. My arms and shoulders are not strong. I’ve been avoiding exercises that put my weight on my arms and shoulder (e.g. downward facing dog) because I’m heavy and I don’t want to hurt myself. Again.
      Does anyone know of any videos that explain good posture while doing exercises with dumbbells? Abs engaged, shoulders back, etc.?
      I was thinking of going walking this morning, but it’s grey out so I don’t want to. I’ll do something else instead.

      1. nep*

        The most important thing, I’d say, is make sure you warm up before doing any weight-bearing exercises at all. Any time I’ve ever strained myself working it, the cause was inadequate warm-up…I rushed through it and didn’t warm up properly/for long enough.
        I love the corny, knowledgeable Bob & Brad on YouTube. They are physical therapists and they often demonstrate exercises; they might have something along those lines. (You’re on the right track there–shoulders back and down–never scrunched up around your ears.)

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        One option for pushups I’ve found – I can’t do them the normal way because they wreak havoc on my wrists, but a modified option is to stand up and do them vertically against a wall. It’s still some body weight exercise, but not quite as stressful on the joints as the normal version.

        1. nep*

          Hear, hear. Wall pushups are great, because they train you to stay in that straight plank position. Then move it to a countertop as you get stronger, then chair or bench, etc. But don’t ever think that wall or countertop pushups are not great exercise–wherever you are with that, that’s where you are and you will build strength (while listening to your body and being careful with shoulders and wrists).

          Just adding here: Heard this line in a meditation talk from years ago:
          ‘Watch this body
          and give it attention
          without judgment.’

      3. Y not?*

        I always recommend fitnessblender – they have a great attitude (the “listen to your body, do what you can do today”) and a wide range of videos. Just start with the 1s and 2s, build your way up. Rooting for you!

      4. Taxachusetts*

        Achieve Fitness Boston on You Tube and Instagram has a lot of great tutorials for all fitness levels.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Why are dumbbells so flippin expensive?! Geez.

      My five year old treadmill (which was a super basic cheapie to begin with) is starting to give up the ghost, so between my burgeoning jogging habit and my husband’s insistence that he needs to lose some weight, we decided that our next big purchase is going to be a nicer one – I’m looking at one of the mid-range Nordic Track ones. (The Peloton Tread is tempting, but I’m annoyed that in addition to the cost of the device there’s a mandatory contract period with the $40/month version of their app. :-P )

      However, I currently have free trials of both the cheaper Peloton app (two month free trial if you sign up through tomorrow) and iFit going so I can see how I like those – apparently having a trainer talk to me while I jog makes it much less of a trial, hah. And I’m on track for 20+ minutes of working out every day this month so far, which was my goal!

    3. LGC*

      I did my longest run of the year (13 1/2 miles) in 15 degree temps! It was…not quite as unpleasant as I thought it’d be!

      I’m kicking myself for forgetting my handwarmers, though. That wasn’t great.

      1. Hi there*

        Wow! Nice work. I did about half that and was happy but somehow ended up with stomach cramps in the late afternoon, ugh. After sleeping for 11 hours I felt mostly better.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I was craving stew this week so I bought some beef cubes.
      Would it be fine if I add canned mixed beans in the stew? Like, in the later part of cooking. I want to try and get through the cans I have in my pantry and I have no idea what to do with mixed beans. It’s too cold to eat salads.

      1. Bobina*

        Yup. I make chilli etc all the time with canned beans. As long as you like the beans you have and think they’ll go well with the stew, add away!

      2. lapgiraffe*

        Add beans at the end, they really just need to be heated through if they’re canned and presumably already cooked. Don’t want them turning to mush (unless you do, then add early haha)

      3. MissCoco*

        I think so! As long as they aren’t in so long they get mushy it should be a nice texture as well as some color.

      4. PhyllisB*

        Don’t know what type of mixed beans you have (if it’s the kind you make three bean salad with, this won’t work!!) But if it’s things like kidney beans, pinto beans or canelli beans then you can make a dish of baked beans. Everyone has their favorite method; I add a chopped onion, some brown sugar (no more than a tablespoon, a good dash of yellow mustard and a good squirt of ketchup (or bbq sauce if you like that better.) If you’re not vegetarian, add some strips of bacon on top. Cover and bake at 350 for maybe 30-45 minutes then uncover add bake until bacon starts to crisp up. You can also make “cowboy” beans. For that you leave out the ketchup and add a pound of ground beef to the bean mixture. Oh, and don’t forget to drain the beans before adding or it will take forever for the liquid to cook out.

      5. Clisby*

        Sounds really good to me. When I’m lazy, I slice up 2-3 onions, put them in a pot with stew beef cubes, and simmer it all in beef broth (I use Swanson’s but there are plenty of others.) I usually just put this over rice or mashed potatoes, but you could easily add canned beans, diced carrots and potatoes, and the like.

      6. Katrin*

        Butter beans are a staple part of my beef stew, I’m sure mixed beans would also taste good. I normally put everything in at the same time and let it cook for most of the day in a slow cooker, but putting the beans in near the end should be fine too.

    2. Sled dog mama*

      Today I am making a large pot of broth. I got a new stockpot for Christmas and finally get to use it for the first time!

    3. Anon Ranger*

      I got turnips and turnip greens and jicama in my CSA the other day. Anyone have a favorite recipe for any of those?

      1. detaill--orieted*

        Jicama is good sliced into sticks with dip. Or you can do what my housemate and I did in college, and bake it like any other root vegetable until it gets soft, which is never. Good lord.

      2. lapgiraffe*

        I love making a “slaw” with jicama, either matchstick, cubed, or diced, throw in a tropical fruit (mango, pineapple) with some thinly sliced shallot and cilantro, maybe a little bit of a spicy pepper, dressed in a little sherry vin, olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt, I put it on fish or pair it with any protein in a taco. I even threw pomegranate seeds in last time because I had some and it was excellent. It will last for several days so I kinda just throw it on anything

        1. TX Lizard*

          That sounds so good! Do you think it would go well with salmon? I am new to eating fish and that’s about all I can consistently make

          1. lapgiraffe*

            Definitely!! For me it’s about how you prepare it not what fish, either keep it simple with salt and pepper or go for seasonings that work with the accompaniment. Here I might considered a Cajun spice or Jamaican jerk, and serve with a green veggie like steamed broccoli or sautéed sugar snap peas.

    4. Sister Michael, Judo Blackbelt*

      New soup recipe for me! Chicken noodle with udon noodles, garlic, ginger, lime, spinach and a quick hit of turmeric. Hopefully warming leading up to this storm we’re supposed to be getting.

      1. lapgiraffe*

        Oooo this sounds lovely and maybe soup/stock making will be my snowstorm meal too! Since it’s quite chilly here I was thinking I might just go buy some good ramen takeaway, a great place nearby does a “mapo tofu” one that is nicely spicy, and they do a rich legit broth as well, maybe I’ll do an extra egg…

        1. Sister Michael, Judo Blackbelt*

          That ramen sounds delicious! Makes me miss living in a big city and having a good ramen place right down the block.

        2. TX Lizard*

          I make (gluten free) ramen at home and what really makes it extra good is a shoyu egg. They are super easy to make and they add so much. I also just eat them cold for breakfast.

      2. Coenobita*

        That sounds amazing! Chicken soup with ginger is my ultimate comfort food. My mom makes cabbage soup with ginger and chicken (picture chicken noodle but with cabbage strips instead of noodles) and I swear it has healing powers. And I’ve already decided that the first restaurant meal I eat post-covid will be pho ga from the neighborhood pho place.

        Are you using a specific recipe? And if so, can you share it?

            1. Sister Michael, Judo Blackbelt*

              No problem! I tried it last night and I don’t think I will use the udon noodles next time.

    5. BlueWolf*

      Definitely feeling a lot of soups and stews this week since we’re finally getting some snow in the DC area. I made a Lebanese chicken and chickpea stew (recipe from amateurgourmet.com) the other night that was super simple and tasty (I added kale also for greens). I think I’m going to make pork chili verde tomorrow (Washington Post recipe). I made it a couple weeks ago and it was super tasty and an easy one pot meal.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Very cold here (southern New Hampshire) – not unusual for the time of year, but it’s been warmer than usual so this is a bit jarring. Anyway, it’s VERY conducive to longings for slow-cooker stews or chili, something hot and filling and aromatic… That said, while I undoubtedly WILL cook something like that soon, just at the moment I bailed on cooking for myself at all and am supping on a California Pizza 3-cheese pizza and a “Swipe Right” IPA from the Backyard Brewery in Manchester NH.

    7. Chilipepper*

      I make a vegan mapo tofu every Sunday. And then I make a “bowl” for weekday lunches. This week it is a miso mushroom bowl with lots of veggies, edamame, rice, and a miso sauce.

      1. Chilipepper*

        Oh, but one of the best moments has to be when a very bemused Matt Damon says, I’ve never had so much fun on a talk show!

  18. Teapot Translator*

    Is anyone else here a Graham Norton Show fan? I’m not in the UK, so I only watch the clips that are put on YouTube by the show or the BBC.
    Do you have a favourite clip?
    I think I watch a clip nearly every single day. It’s best if I don’t do it before going to bed because then I end up in a never ending loop.

    1. Lady Alys*

      My favorite silly clip involves James McEvoy and Mark Ruffalo riding unicycles around the set. Short but hilarious…. And there goes my afternoon as I look for more…

    2. Sister Michael, Judo Blackbelt*

      When Mary Berry talked about teaching a baking class in the US and got stopped at customs because she brought her own pre-measured flour, sugar…

    3. Bobina*

      If you’re happy to use a VPN or do some good sleuthing, you can usually find the full episodes on Youtube!

      But yes, I love it when its on because its part of my Saturday morning ritual :)

    4. Other Meredith*

      Chris O’Dowd and the fly. It gets me every time. Also Jamie Dornan talking about how he’s not good at walking is way more charming than it should be since it’s in a 50 Shades context.

    5. Nessun*

      Benedict Cumberbatch and Chris Pine! The discussion on fans is HILARIOUS. And Toni Collette, Nick Frost, and the little robot dancing!! But my All Time Favourite is the interview with Matt Smith and David Tennant from the special Doctor Who episode – the tattoo guy and the red chair stuff…I love it.

      1. EBennett*

        There is a hysterical scene from a 2016 episode where John Malkovich is flummoxed by a Red Chair story and Tim Hiddleston & Samuel L Jackson try to explain.

        1. Canadian Camping Fan*

          I feel like there was a really funny explanation to Dame Judy Dench at some point.

          And yes, Greg Davies and his mother’s laundry and the curry with the hearing-impaired student.

    6. Older and bolder*

      I’m in the EU at present and yes, each whole episode is on YouTube, except for most movie clips and most live music. Set VPN for somewhere outside US & UK.
      Can’t pick a funniest one tho. That show rocks!

    7. Buni*

      I love Graham Norton so much because it’s not like other shows where the host ‘interviews’ one or two subjects; GN just gets a good mix of people – not a sensible mix, or a logical mix – and more or less just leaves them to it. There’s just as much interaction between the guests themselves as there is between guests + host. Half the time whatever the event the guests are on for – film launch, new album – is dealt with in the first two minutes, and then it’s a free-for-all.

      And it’s late-night BBC so they’re given a drink and allowed to swear.

    8. Teapot Translator*

      I just want to say that I know all of the clips you mentioned! I have seen them all.
      Yesterday, I rewatched the clip where Louis Theroux explains to Renée Zellweger and Lenny Henry what he did for one of his documentaries. So funny. “And you thought you’d committed to Judy.”

    9. Chilipepper*

      Huge Graham Norton fan! Life is short so my post pandemic goal is to get tickets to his show.

      I love them all so much I dont have a fav.

  19. detaill--orieted*

    What is handwriting nowadays?

    When my lovely teen daughter handwrites, she prints, and not especially well. Now, my mother thinks she needs to learn script, which is about as good as any parental job advice we see here :-). I don’t think any schools have taught script for decades!

    But, for young adults at work, what is the norm? For the few brief things that we still don’t do typed or electronically, what does handwriting look like?

    Thanks!

    1. TX Lizard*

      I write in both print and cursive (I teach cursive to children so mine is on the very readable end of that spectrum). I prefer cursive because it is faster and feels more natural for taking notes. I use print on forms and documents where spelling needs to be extremely clear.

    2. Jay*

      I’m a doc. I go weeks without having to write anything on paper except notes to myself (which I could also do on my phone but I prefer a paper list on my desk).

      As long as it’s legible {insert doctor handwriting joke here} it doesn’t matter if it’s print or cursive. My husband is a scientist and he prints. My daughter taught herself cursive when she was 10 or 11 because she wanted to, and her handwriting now is mostly printing. Legible matters. Print/cursive doesn’t.

    3. LGC*

      I mostly print, myself. That’s basically all you need as the vast majority of jobs aren’t writing heavy.

      She does need to learn how to read script if she hasn’t, though! Even until the 90s, script was very common, so it’s good if you have to deal with older documents. (And even now, some people write in script. My neighbor – who’s in his mid 30s – does.)

      So, I hate to say it but I think your mom isn’t wrong. She can definitely get by without learning script, but it does help.

    4. Anon for this*

      One thing that we lose with not knowing how to write in cursive is also the ability to read cursive. I think it’s important to know how to do both but in practical terms, adults are rarely told what to use unless it’s an official form that needs to be legible.

      1. Grim*

        23 year old nephew can’t read cursive as it is no longer taught in public school here in the SF bay area.

        Found this out when he stopped reading my vday card aloud when he came to my cursive writing.

      2. LGC*

        This, oh my god, THIS!

        I found out one of my coworkers (now one of my friends) couldn’t read cursive when we were working together. (I’m now 36, he’s six years younger than I am, this was like…seven or eight years ago, now.) I mentioned that it’s important for jobs where you work with older documents.

        We were file clerks. Working regularly with stuff that dated back to the 90’s, and sometimes earlier. He admitted that he couldn’t read cursive and it literally blew my mind. I’d known they’d stopped regularly teaching cursive, but when I was in grade school in the 90’s, it was hammered into my head.

        He…didn’t do great at that job.

    5. NerdyPrettyThings*

      I taught high school up until this year. Most students print when they sign a form. My kid (18, graduated last year) learned to write his name in script, but not the whole alphabet. One of his elementary teachers taught each student only their own name, but I think it was just her class that learned even that. Over the last five years or so that I taught, students began to complain that they couldn’t read script if I handwrote something, which was a noticable change from previous years.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My writing is sort of a cross between printing and script – some of the letters join together and some don’t, but I definitely don’t do like, Palmer method and who the heck decided that a capital Q should look like a 2 anyway. :-P these days most of my handwriting is on a tablet, and handwriting to text tends to work pretty well for me.

      My husband, after thirty years of tabletop roleplaying games, writes very small in block caps for everything. It’s very legible, but the all caps annoys me to read and means that he can’t really use handwriting to text features because it comes out the same all caps it went in. I think the only thing I’ve ever seen him even approximate cursive is his signature, which is two capital letters and a scribble.

      1. Laura H.*

        I also mash/ mesh print and script. But it leans heavily towards print with kinda connected letters.

        Although I was taught, I never could quite do full cursive. I didn’t quite develop the fine and gross motor skills that are required. I do know how to sign my name in a more scripty style but it’s not quite true to form cursive. (I’m an anomaly- a millennial with a checkbook, and while I don’t sign checks often, it’s an option that I like having.)

        And if it’s not someone whose script I see regularly, it does sometimes take a bit to “translate”.

      2. Reba*

        I’m sorry, but that is super funny about your spouse’s handwriting coming out as shouty type!

        I also write in a hybrid hand, and I feel like that is pretty consistent among the people I work with, too. If someone has super tidy or “correct” handwriting, it’s noteworthy, like ooh, teacher writing!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It is super funny! He got an app that would do handwriting to text on his tablet and he was super excited about it, and then the first sentence came out in all caps and he was like NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Because neither of us had even thought about that the output would match the input :)

      3. Workerbee*

        That is my writing too, a strange mix of print and cursive. And I always thought the Q, Z, G, etc., looked ridiculous.

        My handwriting has become horrendous over the years anyway as I probably have used a keyboard for more years than I’ve done longhand, by now.

        Whereas my dad has always written in small capital letters, very easy to read. His signature, however, is a thing of beauty and was deliberately developed both for style and so it would be difficult to copy. :)

    7. lapgiraffe*

      Perhaps looking at “will it be needed for work” is not the best way. Not only will work look totally different by the time your daughter gets there, learning cursive is about different things – working on fine motor skills, one form of artistic and creative expression, activating different parts of your brain, engaging in something for reasons beyond work and capital.

      Other related skills that schools don’t bother with – writing a check and addressing an envelope. When my now 18 year old cousin was 16 and spent the summer with my family (she’s Canadian by way of France, her father/my uncle wanted her to experience life down south ha!) my mom took her somewhere (the smokies?) and bought some postcards, handed her a couple to write to her family and she literally looked at my mom like she has five heads.

      1. Bobina*

        Lol. I’ve never had to write a check in my life (early 30s) but I do love sending postcards to people, so thats still a valid life skill! And then my mother tells me how terrible my handwriting is :)

        1. lapgiraffe*

          I had all but stopped but 1) the Russian dry cleaner/tailor I love is cash or check only 2) I bought a house and every single tradesman is still all about those checks! Maybe the young generation will switch to cash app eventually but all the cranky old men who fix my toilets and electrical work are delightfully analog.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, in my area it’s a lot of house services and it’s my garbage company. A few places can take credit cards but you have to call into the office—the service person can’t take the payment.

        2. Coenobita*

          That’s so funny! I’m turning 35 this year and, while this isn’t the case any more, I did SO MANY things by check in my 20s. Now that I think about it, I was still writing monthly rent checks as of 2015 or 2016. I still have fun novelty checks with cartoon bugs on them! My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t even have a checkbook so I have to write the occasional check for her.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I’m the only one in my house who has a checkbook :) my housemates pay me their rent via Apple Pay or direct bank transfer.

        3. Clisby*

          My daughter is 24 and I recently was talking to her about an article I had read about “oh, you lazy baby boomers, why didn’t you teach your children all these necessary skills …” and one was how to keep a checkbook. My daughter said, “I’ve never needed to write a check.”

          She has sent us postcards, so somehow she managed to figure that out.

        1. Dan*

          I have a friend a decade older than me who still uses paper checks for pretty much everything. I make fun of her every time she pays a bill in front of me.

          I hadn’t written a check in a decade, and it didn’t really occur to me that I never got checks for the checking account I’ve had for that long. Last year, my property management company sold my apartment complex, and the new landlord uses a different electronic payment system. For one month, while they switched things over, we had to pay rent via check. I was kind of irritated, because um, no checks.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          I write a few a year. Sometimes I can’t pay something online and have to use a check. Or I might send a check to a relative for a birthday, someone who doesn’t have Venmo, etc.

        3. Generic Name*

          If I didn’t have a kid I wouldn’t. Some stuff for school or activities is best paid by checks. My ex sends a check for child support. My husband, a 1099 contractor just sent a check to the irs for taxes, as he was having trouble with online payments.

        4. Blomma*

          I pay both my massage therapist and acupuncturist by check as paying with a card isn’t an option and I prefer not to carry around a bunch of cash. (I’m 31.)

        5. Clisby*

          I write a few a year (I don’t do Venmo or Cashapp, and I’m not going to, so those aren’t available. If the recipient doesn’t have Paypal and doesn’t take credit cards – practically nobody I encounter – then I can come up with a check.)

        6. HBJ*

          This is always so odd to me. I’m a relatively young person, and we write lots of checks. Every rental we’ve had, save one, have been paid via check. One had an online system for card payments, but we would be assessed the credit card fee. A 3% fee on, say, a $1,000 rental is $30 a month. That adds up, so we never paid that way. I suppose I could have asked about doing a bank transfer, but it was never presented as an option. All our charitable giving is also done by check. Again, it saves on the CC fees. I never really thought about it until I started seeing things like “check this box to cover the CC fee” on charitable giving sites. And I’d check the box to see what it would add to my donation and would be appalled. That’s when we started mailing checks.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I pay things by check, but I very rarely write checks. Electronic checks all the way. Set up online. Mailed automatically to arrive before the due date.

        7. Yellow Warbler*

          All of my utilities charge a “convenience fee” for any type of payment other than a mailed check, between 5 and 10 dollars. I would love to be able to set everything to autopay via PayPal, but water/sewer/electric companies seem eager to revel in the Dark Ages.

          1. HBJ*

            This is because they don’t want to be stuck with the credit card fees. If you pay by CC, they’re essentially getting shorted around 3% of the price or a flat fee. We’re used to grocery stores and major retailers like Amazon ignoring it (or rather, building it into their pricing structure), but it really adds up. Some of our local thrift stores will not accept CC payments for purchases less than than $x because of the fees. I’ve seen a lot of smaller merchants having either a “cash/check payments receive a 3/5/7% discount” or “CC payments will be assessed a 3/5/7% surcharge” noted on invoices, and they specifically note it’s to cover the CC fees.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Almost all credit card merchant agreements explicitly include a clause that you can’t do anything to dissuade customers from using that method of payment, so often when businesses add that surcharge, they’re in violation of their own agreement. They often don’t realize that – or get caught – but by trying to recoup that fee in this way, they’re risking their ability to take CCs at all.

              1. HBJ*

                From my research, there was a Supreme Court case about this that said it was legal for merchants to pass on the fees.

        8. allathian*

          I’m in Finland, and checks, with the sole exception of American Express traveler’s checks, haven’t been legal tender for years!

    8. Coenobita*

      My friend is a lawyer who has also worked in education and healthcare (basically, she’s been successful at a variety of jobs) and her handwriting is printing in all caps! We met in college 15+ years ago and that’s been her writing style the whole time.

      I personally write in a sloppy cursive-ish style unless I’m filling out a form or something. But I’m in my mid 30s and was required to write exclusively in cursive in grade school – the school went all in on the D’Nealian method LOL. These days there are plenty of smart, successful young professionals who don’t even really know how to read cursive, let alone write in it and despite what some people will tell you, it’s fine :)

    9. Woman of a Certain Age*

      This brings back so many BAD memories of learning the Palmer Method of cursive in Catholic school. Getting wacked with rulers by Nazi nuns and having my left hand tied behind my back. I suppose that something is lost in not teaching it, but IMO the cost wasn’t worth it.

    10. No Tribble At All*

      I’m 27 — does that still count as a young adult? (jk) Unless she’s a very fast typist, she’ll still need to take notes for class on paper, plus writing out can help you remember, plus not everything can be neatly typed. I use a tablet and stylus for notes now. Reading cursive is still important mostly because everyone I know above the age of 60 uses cursive. I had to get my boyfriend to read my birthday card from my grandma because I’m so bad at reading cursive. I don’t find it faster to write. I use a kind of joined-up in the middle script when I have to write really quickly.

      Can she read her own handwriting?

      1. Tabby*

        I cannot write out notes to save my life. Never have been able to, even in school. Strangely, I’ve also never needed to take notes for class, and have been threatened with a failing grade for not opening my book at all during class.

        I’m one of those weird people who tends to remember what’s needed in class (unless it’s math. Then, we,, you’re better off just not expecting me to do well in that class.)

        I’ve never figured out why everyone says note-taking helps you remember. It’s never helped me at all; in fact, it makes me forget everything.

        And yet, I’ve been told I have beautiful handwriting, both print and cursive.

    11. CatCat*

      My 18 year old step-son’s handwriting is atrocious (print, can’t do cursive). If he ever needs to handwrite in a work setting, he’s going to have to work on improving it… but maybe he’ll never need to handwrite at work.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I haven’t had to hand write at work in seven years, barring the occasional post-it note to myself and a once-a-year form for the employee flu shot clinics where I have to write my name and employee number.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          With work from home, I imagine what little handwriting was done has dropped to zero for many people.

      2. AK*

        my hotel uses a handwritten logbook to pass down notes from one shift to the next. There are also a lot of little lists and clipboards with handwritten notes that need to be legible – lost and found, guest packages, notes delivered to rooms with gifts or flowers like “enjoy the champagne courtesy of XYZ”

    12. Washi*

      She can always learn cursive later if she wants. It’s not rocket science or anything. I technically had a unit on cursive in elementary school, then never used it again. At somepoint in my late teens or early 20s, can’t remember exactly, but I decided I wanted to have the option of having pretty handwriting and taught myself cursive then (I actually found a computer font I liked and practiced copying that, but obviously there are legit workbooks and stuff you can get.) I always found the cursive I’d learned in school really ugly, so it ws nice to choose something I liked aesthetically.

      But I have never ever used it for work. I like making cards, so I just do it for that.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Sincere question. How do people sign legal documents?

      I see that most people sign credit card receipts with some swirls. How does that work in cases of card theft, how does one prove or disprove that is or is not their signature?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve never been asked to prove whether my signature was used or not in credit card fraud situations, personally. I also don’t remember the last time anyone actually compared the signature I gave to the signature on my card. My cards all say See ID (in addition to my signature) and nobody ever does :P

        On most things, including legal documents that don’t specify that full name is required, I sign my name as it is on my driver’s license, which is a combination of initials and part of my hyphenated last name (if my name were Tangerina Warbleworth-Finnegan, I sign TWFinnegan). When I refinanced my house, they required that I sign my full name as it was printed on each document page, so if the signature line had “Tangerina Warbleworth-Finnegan” I had to sign the whole thing, and if it had “Tangerina Louisa Warbleworth-Finnegan” I had to sign THAT whole thing, and by the time I got through the ream of paperwork I practically couldn’t feel my right hand anymore, none of them were really legible, and I was grumbling about why hadn’t I just kept my four-letter previous married name instead of going back to my 8 letter maiden name and then hyphenating with another 7 letters on top of it. :P

        1. Natalie*

          When I bought my house, my mortgage broker tipped me off about leaving my middle name off the forms – “You’ll have to sign it that way about a hundred times.” Best advice ever.

      2. Something Blue*

        I always wondered about that. How do you sign really important papers like your will or life insurance policies? I thought print was discouraged because it was easier to forge.

        Thinking about people not signing in cursive makes me think of when literacy was less common and people would sign documents with their “mark” or an X.

        I always wondered how you’d prove an X wasn’t really you and you did NOT agree to whatever that document said!

        (I know parts of the world with low literacy rates still do documents that way. And I wonder how they prove/disprove that the marks are real. Maybe all such transactions have witnesses to vouch that person A really did agree to contract?)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It used to be that someone would witness your X. So there were one or more signature lines below the X indicating who witnessed it.

    14. PostalMixup*

      I’m 32, and the only time I’ve ever had to use cursive was to write out the “I will not cheat” statement at the beginning of College Board exams, and even then, the proctor had to write a cursive capital I on the board because none of us could remember what it looked like. My elementary teachers made us learn because we’d have to use it in middle school, then my middle school teachers swore we’d use it all the time in high school, then my high school teachers said it would be required in college, and my college professors went “Why on earth would you hand-write that?”

      1. ampersand*

        That is so funny!

        Your anecdote does make me wonder why anyone would *need* to know how to write in cursive. Just because it’s tradition? Is it sad that we’re collectively losing this skill? I used to think so but I’m not sure anymore.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        It was useful in college and grad school (I’m 30), because on the occasions of having a blue book exam, all that writing was MUCH more tiring if you were printing than using script.

    15. Generic Name*

      Most of what we do is electronic, even taking field notes. On the rare occasion of writing something by hand in a form or something, folks typically print. I honestly couldn’t tell you what most of my coworker’s hand writing looks like. Since your daughter is a teen, I assume you are still working? What do you see at your workplace?

      1. detaill--orieted*

        I don’t know that my coworkers have ever seen my handwriting, except on a birthday card. I used to copyedit by hand on paper, but not for a while.

    16. Wishing You Well*

      Some schools quit teaching cursive writing, found it was a mistake and returned to teaching it. I can’t imagine seeing a printed signature and not thinking 2 things: our education system has really failed people and, wow, that would be so easy to forge. SMH

      1. Generic Name*

        I’ve been watching a lot of shows about forensic science, and cursive isn’t forgery proof while print is easy to copy. Every person has distinctive handwriting characteristics regardless of the style of writing used, and handwriting experts can generally tell if something is forged, even printed handwriting.

    17. MissCoco*

      You’ve just made me realize it has in fact been multiple decades since I started learning cursive in school.

      I am in professional school now, and worked as a lab manager for several years, so handwriting matters to me more than it probably should.

      Here are my impressions on handwriting of those in their early twenties:
      Most people print with some cursive elements. I don’t see a notable difference in the quality of handwriting from my high school and college classmates to my current ones, and there is still a huge variety in style, legibility, and neatness.
      Tablets make everyone’s writing worse.
      Bad print is easier to read than bad or idiosyncratic cursive.

      In the lab 100% of handwriting issues were fixed with a quick: “Hey Gred, I need some help deciphering this part of your notes, could you be a bit more careful about writing legibly in the future?”

    18. Emily*

      I’m 29. I learned cursive in elementary school, but can’t recall ever having needed or used it past middle school, where a few of my teachers would allow essay assignments to be written in cursive or typed. My print handwriting is reasonably neat and legible, and easier (for me, at least) to read than script.

    19. OyHiOh*

      I print and write cursive, both. I take meeting notes by hand (print, personal shorthand) because my desk/office set up doesn’t easily allow for typed notes and also because I group things by bubbles and lines to show connections and intersections.
      I’m an artist and writer. I use text on pieces sometimes, and usually print. I’ve a personal font that’s recognizably similar to Dnellian but has some personal characteristics thrown in.
      When I write personal cards to family, I usually use cursive.
      My hand, print or cursive, is legible and attractive, because I want it to be. When I take notes, it’s a mess and good luck reading my shorthand!

      My children . . . . youngest is a lefty, arty, likes pretty things. They have a neat, tidy printed hand. Have learned some cursive, which is also very pretty and tidy. This child actively practices their handwriting, because they like it and want to.
      Middle child is a righty, arty, gives up more easily, and has language-related learning disabilities. Their printed hand is pretty and legible, but unreadable because this child cannot spell. Severe dyslexia is a terrible taskmaster. They know some cursive, but don’t practice because it’s a lot of effort for not much reward.
      Oldest child is a righty, budding graphic novelist, also has language-related learning disabilities. This one has just enough dyspraxia (fine motor dysfunction) to make handwriting a huge struggle, without being educationally significant enough to qualify for occupational therapy. At this point, child is old enough that most homework is typed so it’s not longer an issue. However, because said child is interested in graphic novel illustration and writing, they’ve been learning simple calligraphy. As an “art” skill, they’re able to accomplish better results than with a more basic “school” skill.

      My oldest child went through thousands of hours of speech therapy as a preschooler/young elementary student. There is good clinical evidence that using your hand to record sounds and words makes a set of connections in your brain that’s different from typing it. The jury is very much out on if one type of memory storage is better than the other. For therapeutic purposes, being able to retrieve information along multiple, different paths through the brain is good but this isn’t really something that you have to consider for students who don’t have learning disabilities.

      1. allathian*

        There’s something to be said for writing things down by hand to improve short-term memory. I find that if I write a shopping list by hand, I’m much more likely to remember to buy the right items even if I lose the list on the way to the store, leave it in the car by mistake, or forget to take it with me.

    20. Sled dog mama*

      I’m 37 and can’t really print. I write in cursive 99% of the time, and have since about fifth grade (script was initially taught in 2nd grade). The only thing I have printed recently was my daughter’s card from the tooth fairy when she lost her first tooth.
      She is begging to learn “mommy writing”. I like cursive/script because it helps me keep my lines straight and even but as long as it’s legible who cares how you write, I do think it’s important to teach script writing so kids can read letters from their grandparents and parents and so kids who find printing hard have an alternative.

    21. Anon100*

      At my work, handwriting is mostly personal notes taken during informal meetings or post-it notes saying which container goes back to which shelf… So it depends but in the big picture, most things are typed and printed. That being said, knowing how to read cursive is useful if you need to read older documents that were handwritten in cursive.

      I learned to write cursive in the mid-1990s, and I personally like writing in cursive. Most of my generation did learn in 2nd thru 5th grade how to write in cursive, but I bet most of us only use cursive for signatures now. My younger sister’s (about 6 years younger than me so early 2000s) generation was maybe only taught how to write cursive for second grade and it was phased out of their curriculum. My younger sister’s handwriting in print is much neater than mine – my print handwriting is a messy combo scrawl of spiky print and cursive!

      1. Anima*

        Okay so, this might be a cultural difference here, but war exactly is “print” vs. “script”? Does that mean that a lot of you write like printed letters?!? That must take forever? I am 33 and I possibly write script. It’s extremely fast and comfortable for taking notes.
        As far as I know, here in Germany kids still get taught what we call “cursive”, but I’m a more readable way than I did get taught.
        That said, I needed to learn* how to read handwriting back to the 1600s, sooooo…. I can read almost anything. And that skill needs to be learned by more people, the world is full of old documents which might need to be read some day!
        *For university.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Script= Cursive
          This is where the letters in one word are all connected to each other.

          I agree that printing takes longer but I am more apt to be able to read it later, not so much with the cursive. ha! When I leave notes for others I print, it feels like an act of kindness.

        2. Washi*

          I think it just depends what you’re used to. In English, my printing is faster because I use it more and in my second language, my cursive/script is faster because I use it more.

        3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Quick example-top is printing, bottom is cursive. https://imgur.com/nM9DC9D

          My printing is faster than my cursive, because I use it way more. I CAN get pretty fast on cursive, but it rapidly declines into illegibility.

          .

    22. Clisby*

      My children (24 and 19) were taught cursive script in elementary school. I’m not up on what’s being taught these days.

    23. Ginger Sheep*

      As a European, all this discussion is so incredibly weird to me! Nobody – or hardly anybody – prints where I live, and handwriting means cursive. I am an university professor and have a daughter in first grade. I can confirm that children are not taught to print in school and start off by cursive when they learn to write in kindergarten. Nobody believes cursive is harder than printing for handwriting, quite the opposite! And as a professor that still gets handed in handwritten end-of-term exams, I’d say that only about one student out of ten mostly prints instead of writing, and I always find it weird. Only exception is most adults, me included, use Roman capitals instead of cursive capitals. Which my first-grader teases me about!
      As our language is quite complicated to read, kids often write a nice cursive before they can proficiently read, which is kind of mind-boggling to English speakers !

      1. allathian*

        I’m in Finland. I was taught cursive at school, but largely gave that up after a year in the UK, when I had to switch to printing because nobody could read my cursive writing. When we returned, I mostly used a hybrid, where the shape of the letters was like printing, but where I joined some of them together. My son, who’s in 5th grade now, hasn’t learned cursive because it’s no longer being taught. He can’t read any of the Christmas and birthday cards his grandparents write, but his printing is pretty legible.

        When my dad was in college, he took an optional class in stenography. All his class notes were unintelligible to most of his coursemates.

      2. Buni*

        Likewise! I taught primary school in the UK (5-11yr olds) up until 2015 and ‘handwriting’ is taught right from the beginning. It’s not really one specific script, you’re allowed to have your own style, but you have to be able to do legible joined-up writing. All school lessons involve writing in books right up until you’re 16.

        1. allathian*

          When I was in the UK in the mid-80s, that was definitely the case as well. Not even the teachers could read my traditional Finnish script, which was full of loops and whirls. I compromised on something resembling British joined-up writing. That said, back home I had to relearn the loopy writing, because it was required for essays in high school. After that, I haven’t really used it much.

    24. Janet Pinkerton*

      Oh I get particularly salty on this topic. I’m 32, which I suppose is not particularly young anymore, and I literally cannot recall a single time in my life I have ever needed to read or write cursive (other than when I learned it in school). I had a fine cursive script but I no longer use it. And it has mattered not one whit. I, along with most people under the age of about 40, type far faster than I ever hand-wrote. My signature consists of three letters (Ja P) and it has not once caused me issues. I’m never going to be the secretary of the treasury nor the treasurer of the United States, so I will never truly need a better signature. (Although I confess is it by dearest dream to be the person who signs the money.)

      This topic strikes me as so much hand-wringing. Why, outside of reading cards from elderly relatives, would I ever need to read cursive? In case I get my hands on the original Declaration of Independence without access to a printed copy (say, online, like everything nowadays)? I have signed for two mortgages and my signature has never been an issue.

      And it’s not as if the time dedicated to teaching cursive writing is just free time now. Students have so much to learn! Even just typing and computer literacy—both crucial in modern society.

      1. detaill--orieted*

        OP here. THANK YOU ALL for your detailed and fascinating replies. It seems many of us have opinions on handwriting.

        My takeaway is:

        – A signature and being able to read cursive matter.
        – Speedy note-taking is an issue.
        – I’m right, no-one writes things at work!
        – And if my lovely child plans to move to Europe, they should prepare to practice script.

        1. Texas*

          Truthfully a signature being legible doesn’t matter. My signature changes every time I write it and it’s generally a bunch of wild loops but I’ve never had an issue. (And I’ve been instructed that it doesn’t matter because no one is checking (except in mail-in votes, but that’s consistency not legibility)). All my relatives over the age of 65 write in print. I don’t think I’ve seen anything from any of them that’s in cursive.
          I think this is one of those discussions that’s frustrating to read as a young person because it’s a bunch of hand-wringing over how the younger generation is less skilled/intelligent/useful because of something that really isn’t a big deal. I learned cursive in third grade, forgot it, and re-learned it in college from the internet because I wanted to do fancy bujo layouts. If anyone who doesn’t know cursive for some reason really really needs it, they can google a cursive alphabet and figure it out pretty quickly from there.

    25. ten four*

      At my job we only write on whiteboards, and print is preferred because everyone can read it! I personally have hilariously terrible handwriting, and it has not impacted my work (I’m a Director in a tech company)

    26. Marillenbaum*

      I use script, because a certain amount of note-taking is one of my job duties, and it’s so much faster. Also, I just enjoy how it looks. I rarely need to handwrite anything that someone else sees, but I figure that I like doing things well, and something like writing I’d rather be able to do easily and comfortably.
      That said, I did learn cursive in school, and honestly I wish we had started with cursive instead of print, because I remember how much I muddled certain letters as a kid and that’s much harder to do in cursive because the shapes are more distinctive.

    27. Not Australian*

      My grandson (23 and just married) wasn’t taught to sign his name at school. The first time I presented him with a legal document – I managed a bank account for him until he was 16 – he had to sign it and didn’t know how. I had to explain that it needed his surname as well as his first name.

      1. allathian*

        In theory. But in fact, it doesn’t have to be legible at all. Mine is a horrible scrawl and my signature is the initial of my first name and the first syllable of my last name, but only the capital cursive letters are legible.

        The first time I signed a legal document was when I was 8 and deposited what I had saved in a piggy bank in my first bank account. Naturally I wasn’t legally competent to sign my name, but after I had printed it legibly, the teller explained that it doesn’t need to be legible. My parents were there with me and it wasn’t a problem.

    28. Ina Lummick*

      I did learn joined up writing in school, but I started printing because I’d run out of time in exams. When I do write notes I can use a mix of print/my own style. (Where the letters: g j l d q f y look the same basically and I use И as a H.)

      These are just personal notes for me as I’m working remotely until further notice. Any written communication with colleagues is via digital means (chats/email).

      Anytime I have written notes for others to read I standardise it more so it is readable, but it’s not always print.

      Caveat – I live in the UK so cursive is more like print but with connections between letters – the only letter I found a little odd from US cursive was the lowercase r. There’s also not such a big thing about how you write as it seems to be in the US, as long as it can be read by others, you’re good. :)

    29. Older and bolder*

      I have two children with writing disabilities. Now in their thirties. One can manage cursive, but doesn’t use it. The other could not learn to make cursive. Neither has ever had the slightest problem (after getting past the teachers who tried to defy the Americans with Disabilities Act by giving them failing grades on essays) and one of them now lives in Europe, still doesn’t need cursive in his country. For signatures, one uses their unusual, short first name and a scribble, the other uses their initials with a line through them. Zero issues. I now live in a European country where people have very long last names. I have yet to see a sig that’s longer than about 4 letters. Adults. We cope.

    30. Chilipepper*

      My son is 30 this year and he cannot read cursive. Which is a little strange to me bc the way many people (myself included) write, it is really just joined up printing.

  20. green*

    Super silly question. Show me your air-tight pet food storage? Our kibble comes in 12 pound bags. All the storage I find is either for 10 pounds or 25 pounds. I’m tired of having to keep a ziplock of the overflow.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      “IRIS USA 3 Piece Airtight Pet Food Storage Container Combo” on Amazon — mine is the larger bin in this set, and it holds a 14 pound bag of meat cereal pretty much perfectly.

    2. CatCat*

      We buy our cat food in 12 lb bags and use Gamma2 Vittles Vault Outback 15 lb Airtight Pet Food Storage Container (bought on Amazon) and if works great. I had to get something because one of our kitties was breaking into the food bags.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        We have these (for pet food, and others for beans and rice) and they work great. Stackable, too.

    3. Generic Name*

      My husband has a big plastic tote for the dog food, but he often leaves the lid off. The dog doesn’t seem to mind.

    4. Lucette Kensack*

      We use a “Vittles Vault Outback 15 Pound Airtight Pet Food Container.” You can get it on Amazon and elsewhere — just search that phrase.

    5. MissCoco*

      Menards has great wheely bins with a locking lid that go up to 40lb sizes, and several smaller ones, not 100% sure they have a 15lb size though.

    6. Voluptuousfire*

      I use Cambro Dry goods storage containers for storing my cat’s dry food. I get 6 lbs bags so the 6 quart ones hold the entire bag. I think they go up to 32 quarts and they’re much less expensive than the ones meant for pet food. They’re the same storage containers used on America’s Test Kitchen.

  21. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Vaccination out of sequence in a case when doses would have been waste…. followup to a discussion we had here after someone else’s question.
    This from the morning headlines: a freezer failed at 9 p.m. in Seattle Thursday night, and the hospital staff vaccinated 1,600 people in pajamas even, everyone they could get their hands on so that not a dose was wasted.
    By the sound it, many of there recipients were elderly and therefore in approximately the right priority , Which is far from universally possible I’m sure.
    Is there any organization anywhere officially setting up prioritised notification lists, one that could use a volunteer fast typist (me) to help get everyone on board? I can’t go volunteer in person because I have people at risk in my family, but if I could do something like this over the phone over the internet? I’d be there with bells on!

    1. Coenobita*

      You might want to check with your local health department and/or the closest medical reserve corps unit. I volunteer in person but my MRC unit also has remote volunteers supporting contact tracing, vaccine scheduling, etc.

    2. Jackalope*

      My local newspaper just had an article about a way for people in our area to volunteer with the rollout, including answering phones and helping at clinics. Not sure yet if the phone part is in person or not but it sounds interesting.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Thanks, and that reminds me I’m long overdue to subscribe to the town newspaper.

  22. Maqui aficionada*

    Are you into makeup?
    I’m 46, nearly 47, and have been getting into eyeshadow palettes the last year!
    I only use cruelty-free stuff and most of it is vegan also, but not all.
    I have quite a lot of eyeshadow palettes (23), more than I definitely ‘need’, but I love buying and playing with them.

    Where do you buy your makeup from?
    What’s your favourite makeup and brand?
    Do you have any essentials you just couldn’t live without?
    Which brands are hidden gems in your opinion, and which are overhyped?

    Any and all makeup discussion here :)

    1. Bobina*

      Not into makeup but I watched a reality competition about it (Glow Up on BBC) and follow the S2 winner on instagram and love seeing their creations! So pretty! I am way way way too lazy to ever get into it, but I can appreciate it on others :)

      1. Dee*

        I *adore* that show! I really should look at some people’s social media. I ‘m not too into social media myself so I didn’t think of this – thanks for the idea!

      2. Maqui aficionada*

        That sounds fun! I like to watch very intricate editorial kinds of looks but have nowhere near the skill nor courage to wear them.

    2. WellRed*

      I’ve gotten more into eye shadow palettes lately and with mask wearing I think we’ll see more attention to eye makeup.

    3. Dear liza dear liza*

      I’m about your age and I’m struggling to work with my suddenly-hooded eyelids. I’ve watched so many YouTube videos about eyeliner!

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        I feel your pain as im starting to get hooded as well. The best tip i learned was to apply your eye liner with your eyes open instead of closed, it will look a little wild if your eyes are closed but wont get hidden or squished when open

      2. Maqui aficionada*

        Tell me about it, lol. Annette’s makeup corner on YouTube has a video on liner for hooded eyes which I’ve found quite useful.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I have been using Everyday Minerals for years, it’s vegan and a less expensive alternative to BareMinerals. I will say they seem to be having some stock issues right now, though, I noticed my base (foundation) shade is not currently available. But I’d still recommend them overall, they offer samples and help picking shades so you can try things out.

    5. DistantAudacity*

      One of my favourite brands, for skin-type stuff is Charlotte Tilbury. I recently ordered some items from Fenty – I’ve heard great things and am eager to try.

      My go-to source for interesting new products/whatever is Sali Hughes in The Guardian – she has a Saturday column.

      Also: I’ve been watching (too much) K-drama, and they often have interesting subtle ombre lip gloss use, so I googled that and have been testing it out. Timing’s not the greatest for lip stuff, but whatevs.

      Sometimes there are limited options here in Norway, so I use cultbeauty.co.uk. Fenty I ordered from their global site.

    6. Claire*

      I’m pretty into makeup. I haven’t bought or used it nearly as much on the last year, thanks to the pandemic, but I have a reasonably large collection and watch a lot of YouTube videos.

      I buy mine from a variety of places – brand counters in department stores, Boots, brand websites, beauty websites like Baeautylish and Cult Beauty. It just depends what I’m buying and where I can get it from (I’m in the UK so brand availability can sometime be an issue – I watched a video the other day in a collection that looks really good, but it turns out it isn’t available here *sigh*).

      My favourite brands are Urban Decay, Charlotte Tilbury, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Hourglass, and Cover FX. My favourite makeup item is mascara – I have very light lashes naturally and without mascara my eyes have no definition, especially on camera.

      Hidden gems – I love the foundation from CYO, the 101 shade is the best undertone for me I’ve ever managed to find. I believe it was being discontinued though, so I bought loads last year before lockdown started. The e.l.f. Poreless Putty primer is also great. And the Charlotte Tilbury Genius Magic Powder is incredible, it works wonders for making my skin look great.

      Overhyped brands? The big one for me is Natasha Denona. The eyeshadows are mostly OK, though not all, but they are SO massively overpriced and so many people hype them up to justify the cost. They’re definitely not the wonder product many claimed.

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        I have super blond lashes as well. Have you ever gotten your lashes tinted? I started doing it years ago and am obsessed. Before i would have to coat the tops and undersides with mascara. If im feeling low key, i just curl them and go because they are already black. And if i wear falsies i dont have to put on mascara to blend them to my lashes. Highly recommend

      2. Maqui aficionada*

        I am in the UK too. This is good info, thanks!
        I have the Poreless Putty eye primer – it is very dry, I am not sure if it is meant to be like that. I do like some of e.l.f’s products. Their bronze/blush duo is gorgeous, and so is their halo powder.
        I like Barry M’s lipglosses.
        I really want to try the Natasha Denona glam palette, but the price puts me off and I can’t find a code that works with that brand for some money off.

    7. mreasy*

      I am always furious to find out how much I like most Glossier products I try. Their marketing is just so annoying but…ugh most of what I use is by them at this point. Except I use Tarteist mascara aka the only good mascara.

    8. Atheist Nun*

      I love eye makeup, like lipstick, and never bother with the “base” (foundation) stuff. I have found that Urban Decay, which does not test on animals, has the best quality eyeshadows and eyeliners. I have medium deep skin (I am Asian Indian), and I think that Urban Decay’s vibrant colors look great on darker skin tones.

      I love Lisa Eldridge’s skillful but accessible makeup tutorials, not least because of her soothing voice. Her lipsticks are pricey but gorgeous. When lockdown ends, I look forward to 1) getting my upper lip waxed, and 2) wearing lipstick out in the world!

        1. Maqui aficionada*

          I’m joking. I will wear the whole full face, including lippie, indoors because it makes me feel good.

  23. Emma*

    I’m worried about a friend of mine. She moved to another continent two years ago for a masters degree, but we kept in touch regularly through Messenger. In March, she kind of disappeared from social media. I didn’t really worry about it at first, but sent the occasional “hey how’s it going?” message. She never answered. I was wondering if I did anything to upset her, but kept sending the occasional message.
    In December, I met up with another mutual friend and mentioned Friend A casually. She told me she also hadn’t heard from her at all. There really isn’t much we could have done to both piss her off, but we wondered if maybe she had decided to cut ties and just move on with her new life or something. We tried messaging again on our group chat, saying “hey we miss you and wish you were here!”. No answer. Just this week, friend B texted me again, saying she was a little concerned about Friend A and maybe we should reach out to her brother to see if he had contact info? We don’t have her phone number in new country.
    Then yesterday I got a letter in the mail from Friend A. She told me she apologized for not reaching out, that she has been going through a really rough time, struggling to find employment after her masters, her mother had health problems and she couldn’t come home because of COVID, other bad stuff happened, and she basically cut off contact with everyone. I am not actively concerned for her life or anything, but she is clearly not in a good place. There is no phone number in the letter, but she did give a return address.
    If she was in my area and this was normal times I would have jumped in my car and gone to stay with her. As it is, the only thing I can really do is send a heartfelt letter. I was thinking maybe a care package? But I feel like “hey, here is a scented candle to get you out of severe depression” feels a little trite and I am struggling to find the words to tell her how much I care and how little I can do. Any advice on what to do here?

    1. The teapots are on fire*

      Do ANYTHING. Send a candle or a care package with tea and some pretty cookies if that can be shipped. Send a dopey picture. Write her a letter telling her you’re here anytime. Ask if she wants to set up a phone call if you can afford an international call. When you’re really down, trite comforts can be very welcome.

    2. lapgiraffe*

      Funny enough, I think I have become this person in the last year, or a version of her, and was even thinking of bringing it up on this thread this weekend. Last year, early fall, I nuclear option deleted my Facebook without any sort of goodbye “I’m leaving this hellhole see you on the other side!” type of post. I’ve also been unemployed since mid-may and have really circled my wagons so to speak. I still have people I’m very close to, who I talk to daily and see semi-regularly as covid allows, in essence I kinda took the pod thing a little too seriously and instead of making it just the people I see in person I’ve almost made it the people I talk to, that’s it, period.

      There are a handful of friends, people I used to talk to more frequently even if we didn’t see each other often (the nature of my old work allowed for me to make friends with people who live in different parts of the state and region as well as other parts of the country), that I have found myself absolutely incapable of maintaining the same kind of friendship with at this juncture. My life is pretty boring – I look for jobs, I network virtually, I play tennis when I can, I do other exercises, I read books and watch tv, go to bed, and that’s it. Covid life! I haven’t had a lot of tragedy this year, but my family has their issues – I live 1000 miles away from that, have a grandfather with increasingly worse dementia, my sister had her first baby, my mom sold our family business that was started by now deceased father, so it was like grieving all over again, and then my sister trying to figure out her place in that while learning how to be a mom. You add the stress of covid, of unemployment, of isolation, I just felt the need to go inward a bit.

      Am I doing ok? Honestly, yeah, I think so. Not amazing, but I get good sleep and manage to do my life and I’m not binge eating or drinking or doing any other self destructive things. If anything, this pulling back from such a social existence has been good. But I think my behavior has been strange to some, I could imagine hurtful to others, I’ve gotten a few weird texts from people who have seen my social media retreat as cause for concern (ironically I’m still very active on instagram but there’s a whole subset of people from Facebook that aren’t aware of that), but I think it’s because in covid times they’re not seeing me in real life at the store or the bar or just walking down the street like we used to.

      And I could see myself writing a letter to someone if they reached out with the level of concern you seem to have with your friend, I don’t want to open the phone communication line but I don’t want them thinking I’m in need of an intervention. I’d welcome a nice letter back, though that’s me and I love snail mail. But I think I’m just trying to make it through without piling on additional stress, and sadly friends have become a stressor. I’ve known people to do this before, one of my closest friends had to do it when he got sober. Another friend, one woman I went to grad school with, had a really bad year that culminated in a hospital stay, and then she just needed to start fresh. I know enough through the grapevine that she’s doing just fine to even great, but it was definitely odd at the time for us looking in from the outside, confused why she felt the need to cut everyone out when our thought was that people need friends more than ever when life is hard. I now kinda realize that it’s a weird self preservation tool, that in order to move forward you have to cut some weight, which sounds kind cruel but *shrug*

      Longest reply ever to say – write her back, don’t push her boundaries, know that she might be doing better than you think but just needs to take care of herself the best way she knows how.

      1. Emma*

        Thanks, this makes sense, and I don’t want to add to her stress or pressure. I’ll do a card saying I’m thinking of her and there for whatever she needs, with some chocolate/a candle/bubble bath etc.

      2. Dottie*

        This is me right now too and agree with everything you’ve mentioned. I’ve deleted my only social media because I’m not feeling very social. I only talk to a handful of friends by texting, live with my S/O, and I see my family once a month. Unemployed but I’m okay and just trying to take it day by day with little stress possible. I did get a card or two around the holidays from friends and it’s helped to receive a different kind of communication that isn’t a screen. I’d def encourage a letter as well.

    3. fposte*

      Trite is fine. The point here isn’t to be original but to be caring. You’re not trying to fix this, just to send love.

      1. Reba*

        Exactly, don’t second-guess yourself or try to find the “perfect” thing to send — this is a gesture! Also, getting mail is great :)

        You’re kind to have kept trying to stay in touch.

    4. Still*

      I think if she chose to write you a letter, she probably felt most comfortable with this form of communication and will really appreciate a letter in return. Finding something in the mail feels really nice and heart-warming without the urgency of a text message or the pressure to reply immediately.

      And I can’t speak for your friend, but I’ve never NOT been happy to receive a care package, even if not everything in it was useful to me or to my taste; it still feels like Christmas and makes me all warm and fuzzy because somebody cares about me enough to put together a package. I don’t think your friend will think you’re trying to get her out of severe depression with a candle, I think she’s more likely to feel happily surprised and taken care of.

      I think I’d take it easy with the “how much I care and how little I can do”, that sounds kind of intense and like it might put pressure on your friend to come up with ways for you to feel helpful? I’d tell her about what’s been going on with your life, good and bad. I’d tell her how happy you were to hear from her and how much SHE made YOUR day. If she’s been through a lot, including a difficult job hunt, she might be struggling with low self-esteem at the moment (job hunting can really get you down and make you doubt your value as a person!) so I’d make sure to tell her how much you love and appreciate her, and how much value she brings to your life.

      Maybe ask if she wants to chat on the phone / video call, but without putting any pressure on her?

      As somebody who’s moved between countries several times, sometimes it can be difficult to reach out to the friends you’ve left behind — cause you think they’ve moved on, cause you don’t have any good news to share, cause it’s been so long it feels weird, cause your plans have gone awry and you’re ashamed… But I’ve never been anything but happy when a friend reaches out to me. And I’ve never thought that they’ve done it “wrong”.

      1. Emma*

        Thanks, this is a good point. I was shaken and sad for my friend when I got the letter, but she clearly tried hard to end on a positive note and I think I’ll respond with a simple but heartfelt card and a little care package.