weekend open thread – February 20-21, 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 Nature of Fragile Things, by Susan Meissner. A young Irish immigrant, miserable in early 20th century New York, answers an ad from a San Francisco man looking for a mother for his young daughter. The man is polite and treats her well, but it soon becomes clear all is not as it seems. I read this all in one (long) sitting and could not put it down.

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

{ 1,131 comments… read them below }

  1. CatCat*

    A family member got me a large, pricey gift. Definitely something I would use and enjoy if I had the room to store it, but I don’t. The family member is a sensitive soul. I don’t want to hurt this person’s feelings, and the gift is not something I can white lie about keeping and using.

    How to communicate how much I appreciate the thought and generosity, but that I don’t have the room for it and as such I can’t keep it?

    1. Rose*

      Are you in your place long term or is there a chance you’ll have storage for this item some time in the future?

      This is tough but if they’ll defiantly notice I think the honest answer is the best one. Let them know how appreciated the gift is and that you wish you could keep it. I think they’ll appreciate knowing they gave a gift you would love to keep.

      1. CatCat*

        No chance for storage space any time soon, alas!

        Yeah, I think I will emphasize how I’d love to keep it. In thinking about it, if I can hopefully make a gift return and spend the money in the future on an experience using something similar (at a place where they offer the use of things like this), that would be ideal.

        If I can’t return it though, I’m inclined to give it away. Like I just want someone who can use it to come and take it without the hassle of trying to sell it.

        Just giving it away may be more of a challenge to communicate.

        1. Rose*

          Is it something where a good friend might want it/keep it and also be open to you using it when you can? I’m picturing a large kayak or something.

    2. LALinda*

      I’m so curious about what it might be! Perhaps one of those fancy workout machines or a drum set? Approach it like “of course I love the gift—how generous! Unfortunately, while I’d love to use it, space is at a premium at my place and I don’t have any place to store it. It’s too big to easily use and enjoy. I’d love to hear some advice about this problem—do you have any ideas?” They will probably feel bad that they didn’t see that for themselves. Involve them in the decision to return the item, sell it, find a better home for it, or donate it somewhere where it can be used—school, church, youth center, etc.

      1. CatCat*

        It’s not fancy exercise equipment, but that’s a good stand-in here. It’s like, I’d love to use this and in normal times, I’d pay a fee specifically to access it occasionally. I haven’t been able to use such equipment in over a year.

        Hopefully, I can return it (going to look into this tomorrow). I like the idea of tapping their views on what to do with it, but maybe more definitively because this person may freeze if asked to make a decision or tell me to keep it. Maybe something like, “I have to return the fancy exercise equipment because I sadly don’t have the space for it. I love that you thought of me for this, especially since I’ve had no access to this kind of equipment in the pandemic. Though I have to return it, I’m going to save the money from the return to spend on an experience using this equipment at a fancy gym (rather than my regular gym that doesn’t have this) when things open back up. I’d love if you could join me for such an experience. Could we plan to do that together when we can finally see each other after this is all over?”

        1. CatCat*

          Hopefully, it can be returned!

          Otherwise, I’m inclined to give it away. I honestly just want it gone. Giving it away may be more of a challenge to communicate.

          1. Radical candor*

            Your relative is going to be furious with you for giving away an expensive gift.

            You need to coordinate with your relative about returning it so that the relative gets their money back.

            1. Karo*

              Why do you say that? I don’t see how giving it away is any different than returning it or selling it – the net result is that CatCat no longer has it in her possession. I would certainly offer it back to the gift-giver first but even that is a kindness, not an obligation. And if your concern is the “free” factor, again the gift-giver has no need to know that. CatCat can use the script she proposed and if the gift-giver ever asks just say that she found someone who could use it.

              1. Radical candor*

                Because we’re talking an expensive piece of exercise equipment (or something similar) here, which is a four-figure gift, not a $20 fruitcake.

                If the relative calls up three months from now and cheerily asks, “so, how do you like the weightlifting cage?” and OP’s answer is, “welp, I had no room for it and gave it away,” that’s going to be the end of the relationship. Like it or not, a $2000 gift is different from a tchotchke.

                To be sure, OP has no legal obligation to keep the gift. Legally, it’s her property and she can dispose of it. But kinship and friendship relationships don’t operate according to the laws of property. They’re governed by social norms. You’re under no obligation to bring your neighbor a pie after blocking her driveway, but it sure tamps down drama in the neighborhood.

                As for hanging your hat on “the gift-giver has no need to know” and will never find out…good luck with that.

              2. Radical candor*

                Also, on this “thou may not speculate on what the gift is” point: I suspect the gift is so unique that it’s personally identifiable in some way, so I can see why OP doesn’t want to confirm speculation. But…you’ve written into a public advice column. I don’t see how it’s legit to tell people to avoid speculating.

          2. Rose*

            I’d check if it can be returned for a refund. This is unfortunate but you haven’t done anything wrong. If you give it away to someone the giver doesn’t know or care for they could be reasonably pretty annoyed.

        2. SheLooksFamiliar*

          Could a friend store this item for you long term? Or would you feel okay about asking the gift giver to hold onto it for you? It seems like you don’t want to get rid of the item but simply don’t have space for it right now. I’ve got a corner in my garage for friends to store things, and wouldn’t think twice about it.

          This would assure the gift giver that you value the gift, and offer a storage solution until you move into a place with room to use and/or store it.

          1. Marion Ravenwood*

            This would be my approach too. Or, if you can afford it, hiring a storage unit and putting it in there until you’re in a place where you can store it in your home.

        3. Chilipepper*

          Is there a way to text or email them in advance of a convo so that they have time to process and don’t “freeze?”

          Something like, oh my, family member, I love this and I’m in a pickle because I cannot store it.”
          Then the rest of your script followed by a phone call?

    3. Astoria*

      Can the giver keep it at their house for you to use when you visit them? Long shot but it might work if handled tactfully. Just a thought.

      1. Anono-me*

        My though also, and maybe frame it as a togetherness thing. I can come over to use the ‘exercise equipment ‘ and you can spot me, then you can use it and I’ll spot you, then we can go for a nice walk or have a cup of tea together ect.

    4. Lizzo*

      I’m sorry you’re in this situation! I think honesty with a whole lot of appreciation is the best course of action here.

      If you do plan to return the item, the store may require that the $$ be credited back to the original purchaser, or you may be required to accept a store credit instead of receiving cash.

      Also, please don’t let this person’s sensitivity prevent you from doing what is best for you, and don’t go out of your way to protect them from (in this instance, a relatively minor) rejection. If you are thoughtful and kind in how you handle this, then that’s all you can do.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Six :)

      That wasn’t the plan; four of them are foster fails. If you’d asked me if I thought it was a good idea to have six cats, I would have said no. But it’s surprisingly harmonious; they all really love each other and it’s kind of awesome. (I do worry about what it will be like when they are older and all having health problems at the same time, but at least for right now it’s really nice.)

      1. Less-stressed COVID Non-mover*

        I mentioned below that we just bought a house and so we can finally get MORE CATS. We have 2, and if we decide to (we’re still thinking about it, since it’s a big decision) we would like to get another pair (the first 2 have been BFFs for a decade). So excited about it!

        1. mreasy*

          I have a big tabby cat and a tiny black cat and really think a tortie would round things out but sadly can’t get the husband to agree to 3! I will continue to live vicariously through Alison and now you. :)

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            My BIL never cared for cats but kept quiet when my sister brought home a sweet little calico cat. He sighed a lot when she brought home a Siamese kitten. He bristled when she brought home a black kitten, and said ‘No more cats!’ She brought home yet another black kitten and that little one became my BIL’s shadow. They have 7 cats, and she also fosters.

            I don’t always like my BIL but melted when he admitted he misses the fosters when they find homes. Maybe your husband is like my BIL?

            1. Venus*

              I have a coworker who teasingly complained about his wife’s cats back in the day when we would be social and occasionally go out for a drink. One day she looked at him very seriously and said that she knew about his secret cuddles on the couch with one of the cats. He never brought up the cats in a negative way again, ha!

            2. Voluptuousfire*

              My dad was a combo of your BIL and sister. Gripes about having 5 cats and brought 4 of the 5 home. Technically 4 of the 5 since one trip was meant to be one kitten but he saw the lone kitten left playing by herself and was like “oh, she needs a friend!” and scooped her up.

              Ironically the two sisters hated each other. LOL

              1. HoundLover*

                There was a comment in the NY TIMES today by a writer, who says she is a non-animal person, but married an animal person. She says she still is not an animal fan, but she is a fan of the three animals she lives with. I thought it was on point for a few people I know.

          2. Less-stressed COVID Non-mover*

            I spent about an hour last night looking online for kittens in our area to adopt (I’ve heard that older cats tend to accept kittens more readily than other adults, and our current 2 haven’t really been around other cats for years). I haven’t found any yet, and I was feeling slightly discouraged about that, but then I reminded myself that the ink is BARELY DRY on our house closing paperwork (it’s been less than a week), and the world is regularly full of kittens. I will find them at some point.

            1. Cat and dog fosterer*

              Kittens are extremely seasonal. Cats are just starting to go into heat now, which means kittens born in April (9 weeks exactly), so expect rescues to be overwhelmed with them in May and June. I would suggest planning to wait until early June, at which time rescues will be thrilled to hear from you!

              1. PT*

                It depends on the climate where you live, too. If you’re in a state where spring starts in February, kitten season also starts in February. (My February birthday girl is on my lap now.)

          3. the cat's ass*

            I feel that! We have a 9 month old rambunctious pandemic kitten and a sweetly declining demented 13 year old elder kitty, and (daughter and I) are campaigning for one more. Hubs is the holdout. i LOVE to think of 5 or 6. But I’d be sleeping in the car if i tried it.

            1. tangerineRose*

              I’ve got 3 cats. 2 are close to the same age and play together sometimes. The other is older than them.

        2. Marion Ravenwood*

          Honestly one of the things I am most excited about moving into my new flat is being able to get a cat again. (I previously had two but my ex got them in the divorce as he could provide a more stable home for them at the time and we felt it wasn’t fair to separate them.) It may prove a little tricky as lots of rescue centres here in the UK won’t rehome to houses without garden access, but I’m hoping that once I’m settled I’ll be able to give a furry friend a forever home.

          1. Self Employed*

            They require garden access? In the US, I believe they won’t let you rescue unless you promise the cat will be indoor-only (unless it’s one of those cats who refuses to be indoor-only, or it’s a semi-feral cat being adopted as a barn cat).

      2. Hotdog not dog*

        They may not have health problems all at once anyway. I had 2 from the same litter, and one went into a rather complicated decline at age 17, while her sister simply died in her sleep at 21. Mostly they were just fabulous kitties (even if they did destroy the couch!)

        1. allathian*

          My parents adopted two kittens from the same litter. One had some kidney issues and had to be euthanized when he was 16 and stopped eating and drinking and started sleeping all the time. His brother would walk around my parents’ one-bedroom apartment looking for the other cat and he’d sleep in the other cat’s carrier and spend a lot of time in his favorite haunts. He didn’t have any previous health issues, but he also stopped eating and drinking, and within a few months he was also dead. My family is pretty unanimous in believing that the remaining cat missed his brother so much that he lost the will to live.

      3. violet04*

        We have five cats. They’re all strays who literally showed up on the doorstep. We intended to take them in temporarily and find them forever homes, but we ended up falling in love. I’ve never had the opportunity to adopt a cat from the shelter, because they end up finding us!

        1. Quiet Liberal*

          We have always had one cat and one dog. The last three times we’ve adopted a cat was when the current dog found them in our backyard. Always sweet, raggedy looking kittens who show up about three months after the last cat had to be put down. We are convinced the prior cat spirit sent their successor to us because we are so sad.

      4. Lizzo*

        I “cat sat” for a friend who had six! It was not as harmonious as it sounds like it is at your house, Alison, but it was definitely entertaining. Being followed to the kitchen by six cats at dinnertime was quite the sight. I felt like the Pied Piper.

    2. Kama'aina Kitty*

      A vet once told me that with cats, the old adage is true: two is company but three is a crowd. However, if you can get three cats to get along, you can have as many as you want after that. In my limited experience, the vet was right. We had two cats, then added a third; things were rocky for a while, but eventually settled down. When numbers 4 and 5 came along, they just blended in. They were never as affectionate with each other as Alison’s cats seem to be, but they staked out their territories and respected each other’s boundaries.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Our rescue often adopts out young pairs when a household has one older cat. A single kitten with an older cat often causes problems with the different playstyles. Agreed that a single cat adopted into an established pair is more likely to cause an imbalanced dynamic. That said, every situation is unique and there are no absolutes to what is likely or not to work.

  2. WoodswomanWrites, nature and outdoors thread*

    Staying connected with nature has been especially important for me during the challenges of the past year. I like hearing about others’ experiences and whatever you’d like to share, even if it’s looking out the window.

    I’m winding down a weeklong vacation in the Klamath Basin on the California-Oregon border, where I’ve spent my days driving very slowly through wildlife refuges observing the many birds that winter here. I’ve wanted to visit this place for many years, which in the winter has the highest concentration of bald eagles in the contiguous US. Just amazing, and a safe way to have a vacation during the pandemic (road trip, brought all my own food in advance, renting a house alone).

    1. Zelda*

      Last year my garden kept me grounded in space and time– I could tell that it wasn’t just the 136th of March, because the lettuce was filling out/ the beans were coming ready to harvest/the zucchini was climbing over the fence.

      February is time to be looking at seed catalogs and creating a sow plan. I’d better get on with that!

    2. allathian*

      I really like the fact that I can see trees from my home office and living room windows. We live in a suburban subdivision. Some plots have never been cleared, because a subdivision here doesn’t necessarily get built on at the same time, so it’s essentially virgin forest in an urban environment. Only a few acres at best, but it does wonders for my mental health to be surrounded by nature. We live at the end of a dead end street.

    3. nep*

      That sounds so beautiful, Woodswoman. Thanks for posting this.
      I live in the suburbs. Fortunately we have nice nature centers/trails around here. In the warmer weather I walk them regularly. My extremities don’t do too well being out in the cold for a long time, but I still go–just standing among the trees, touching them…and looking at deer–it’s an elixir.
      And closer to home, around the yard–the birds save my life every day. Especially cardinals.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      I do a lot of hiking in the woods behind my house with my dog. I’m fortunate that our property is adjacent to a 200+ acre wildlife preserve (hiking with a leashed dog is permitted). In over 20 years I’ve only run into one other person there. It’s like a private sanctuary. Right now I’m waiting for the snow to melt a little so we can get back out there. At least I still get to see all the birds, foxes, deer, and other critters when they come in my yard. Bears will be waking up soon – spring is coming!

    5. Janet Pinkerton*

      I went on a stress hike during my work day the other day after some stressful news about the health of multiple friends. Just drove to between the two trailheads in my neighborhood. It was maybe .3 miles away from home, but I normally don’t take any break this long do I had to make it a fast hike. And then I hiked a very fast loop! From my car to trailhead one on the trail to trailhead two and then back to my car. All told it was 22 minutes of stress relief and I couldn’t recommend it enough.

    6. Jay*

      We spent our spring, summer, and autumn weekends hiking in this part of the state. We started with our old favorites and then branched out to places we’d never been. We’ve lived here since 1992 and we discovered so many lovely places. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so we can head out on the trails again.

      We also reaped the benefits of the most extravagant thing we’ve ever done. I wanted a screened porch. He wanted to completely redo the landscaping of the backyard. Four years ago we hired a landscape architect to draw up plans. My husband (newly retired at the time) acted as the GC and did all the gardening work himself. We hired a contractor to build the porch and a different guy to the do the hardscaping and install the larger shrubs and small trees. It was ridiculously expensive, especially when we said “oh, what the hell” and added a hot tub. And it saved us last year. We were actually able to have people over for dinner with one family eating on the porch and one family eating on the terrace about ten feet away. We had friends over to roast marshmallows around the firepit. We spent almost all our free time out there and ate all our meals on the porch. I even worked from the porch at times. Best thing ever.

    7. Bobina*

      As you can probably tell from my gardening posts of late, my nature experience has been around deciding to try and grow some plants on my patio. So researching plants, buying seeds/bulbs/compost/soil and planting them, and then anxiously hovering and waiting to see new life appear has taken up a lot of my time and thoughts!

      I’ve also started occasionally buying cut flowers for the house, which is a nice way to add some colour and life to the place.

      A few winter walks have also been a great way to remind myself that there is life outside, and I’ve started to hear birds again which is always a lovely moment.

    8. slmrlln*

      We moved to AZ a couple of years ago and it has taken a while to get used to all the differences. But this is the year when we really decided to get serious about gardening, and it has been wonderful both for my general sanity and for feeling more connection to this place. We decided to plant all native trees and shrubs in our front yard, so now I can recognize at least a few of the plants I see growing wild. In the back yard we’re doing half native plants and half veggies/citrus trees, including some heirloom veggies. Sprouting seeds in September to grow over the winter felt very strange, but I was so excited when the little shoots started to come up! Getting a bird feeder has been good fun too. Our dog loves to watch the birds through the window.

    9. GoryDetails*

      I’ve mostly been enjoying the outdoors through my windows – watching the birds at the feeders and (heated) birdbath, delighting in lovely snowfall (and less-delighting when I go out to shovel the stuff, but I think of it as good exercise), that kind of thing. But I do get out and about sometimes – I’m a geocacher, and often find caches in parks or on trailheads that are new to me. The early part of the winter was pretty dry here, so I was able to get pretty far down some of the trails in search of geocaches, and enjoyed some really lovely views: tunnels under the trees, huge glacial erratic boulders, ponds where I might spook some turtles or spy some swans…

      Recent snowfall puts many of the trails out of my comfort level, but now I can enjoy trying to ID the animal tracks in the snow. I know there are rabbits and foxes in the area; mix in the squirrels, the occasional roaming cat or dog, possibly a coyote, and it can get interesting.

    10. jotab*

      my office is in a bedroom (no bed – just desk and files). The window was a higher up bedroom window and I could only see the sky from my computer. I’ve been in this office for about 15 years – a nice step up from my previous basement office. Last January just before covid hit, I had my window cut down to my desk. It’s huge and overlooks my backyard – no grass all native gardens. I love sitting here, enjoying the feeling of being inside a snow globe, looking at the little snow “hats” all the plants are wearing. It’s incredibly relaxing. I do try to get outside for a least a few minutes most days too

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        I’m very envious! My current office is in our basement family room. The windows are at ground level, but small and high up. I can see the ground and about two feet up. I open them when it’s mild enough for some fresh air. I planted short stuff I will be able to enjoy watching grow, but I can’t see any sky. I envy your being able to be above ground and now with a real view!

      2. Sam I Am*

        I too had some work done to the house just before COVID, and boy, am I lucky I did. My keyboard is now set up to look out of 2 beautiful huge windows, where there used to be a closet.
        Congratulations on your view!

    11. NoLongerYoung*

      I am so happy you are in Klamath, and yes, that’s the only spot I’ve ever seen a bald eagle (and a nest with baby ones). How wonderful that you are able to do this, and sending you a happiness vibe – living vicariously knowing that you are up there at this time, finding peace and serenity. It is truly a soul-healing spot. (I liked the fern filled hike that they filmed part of Jurassic park in – at least that’s what I was told!).

  3. anon for today*

    I am having trouble with my anger associated with both my pods traveling like there is no global pandemic, then coming home and not quarantining themselves, so I have to quarantine myself away from them. I want to travel, too, but people like these are just prolonging the pandemic. Some are vaccinated and some are not. Some are family, some are friends. I am losing respect for them in a logarithmic increase. One of them asked me last week what a “pod” is.

    Any suggestions on how to not completely blow up my relationship with them?

    1. Double A*

      It sounds like you’re not actually in a pod with them since you don’t all have agreed upon practices and rules, and as such you should have the same interactions with them you’d have with anyone not in your pod. Maybe reframing the relationship in your mind would help? I don’t really get angry at people outside my pod because I don’t have any influence over them and our interactions need to be negotiated on a case by case basis.

    2. Bob*

      I’d say nuke the pod concept for them and assume they are going to get infected so don’t see them in person until covid is defeated.
      Boot them out of your pod.

      1. PostalMixup*

        You don’t have to completely cut off in-person contact. You just have to see them with the same precautions you’d use with anyone else. 6 feet of distance, masks, etc.

        1. Bob*

          I would, they are at higher risk of infecting themselves with their actions. 6ft plus masks is something like 90% effective, and their chances of catching covid is much higher than capita, so i would skip the in person contact until the virus is under control.

    3. WS*

      A pod needs mutually agreed on standards, so it sounds like these people aren’t actually your pods. The best way to not blow up your relationship, I think, is to take a step back and not trust these people with your health. They can be friends, they can be family, but they’re not your pod.

    4. WellRed*

      These aren’t pods. Maybe it will help to rethink this going forward. It’s tough out here, I know.

      1. Pop*

        Just hopping on the agreement here that this is not what a pod is. And, sadly, podS plural is also a problem: the idea of a “pod” is that you are all ONLY seeing each other, with agreed upon rules for minimizing risk. By having multiple pods, you are also exposing people from one to potential illness from the other group. It sounds like you all have been lacking clear communication and have been operating under assumptions!

      2. Oxford Comma*

        Yes, based on what you are saying, I don’t think you have a pod at all. My understanding of a pod is that everyone does everything just with the people in that group and that everyone has agreed upon rules. You should only have one pod.

        Right now, I would just bow out of both groups and do the same kind of socializing you do with other people–phone, online, masks/distanced with them.

        1. londonedit*

          Yes, it sounds like the ‘pod’ idea is meant to be like what we call a ‘support bubble’ – which is defined in the UK as one person from a single-person household (or a single person living alone with small children) who can form a ‘bubble’ with one other, fixed, household. You can’t have two support bubbles and it doesn’t exempt you from following local guidelines, it just means you can visit one other household if you otherwise live alone (we’re currently not allowed into any other house that’s not part of your own household/bubble, and we’re only allowed to meet one person outdoors and only for exercise).

          1. Felis alwayshungryis*

            Yeah, that was the narrative they had in NZ – stay in your bubble, you can join one other bubble if you absolutely have to (though that only came after they relaxed restrictions a little bit, so for instance we joined with my parents round the corner so we could get some occasional childcare for short periods).

            I’d have thought a ‘pod’ is the same principle. You definitely can’t mix bubbles – each joined bubble can only be joined to each other.

    5. Always Late to the Party*

      This is so tough, I’m sorry. I know a lot of us have gone through similar feelings over the last 11 months.

      Ultimately remember that you can’t control their actions/choices but you can control your own. If you feel unsafe around them, stop seeing them in person. It can be uncomfortable if these are relationships where boundaries have been blurry in the past to say “I don’t feel comfortable seeing you right now, since you’ve been traveling” or “I’d only be comfortable hanging out if we make it a short visit and wear masks the whole time.” Do what you need to do for your own health and safety.

  4. Less-stressed COVID Non-mover*

    Just wanted to share an update with everyone. I posted here in December or so about how our landlords were going to sell our rental and we had 2 months to buy a house and move. A couple of you suggested that we buy the rental, which at the time was not a good option for Reasons, but the Reasons got untangled, and we closed on our former rental this week!!! It’s been a LONG couple of months and I could happily never look at piles of paperwork again, but it’s OURS now and we are done! And we don’t have to MOVE, which is one of my least favorite things ever, and something I was truly dreading in a pandemic.

    Next step will be figuring out things we want to do to tweak the house, and I’m wondering if any other commentariat members have anything you particularly enjoyed doing with a new house (bought or rented). What kinds of things made it feel really like home, or really like it was yours? What things did you do and decide later, meh?

    1. Raktajino*

      Congratulations! AND you get to skip worst part of moving bc your stuff is already there!

      We bought in 2019 so a lot of our “ours now” touches are still works in progress. We installed new flooring out of necessity, and it really gave me a sense of ownership over the place. The new shower fixtures were minor upgrades that felt good, especially since we probably wouldn’t have done that for a rental. We ended up not being able to paint before moving boxes in, and these beige walls don’t bother me as much as I had expected.

      What little things bugged you about this house? Can you fix any in a weekend or less? Start with those.

    2. Emma*

      Ha, well – when we bought our house, we noticed after moving in that the basement door kept swinging open. There was a lock on it, but it was stripped on the inside so it was always a bit of a toss up as to whether you’d be able to easily unlock the door if you had locked it.

      So we went to B&Q, bought a latch, and fitted it the same day. It’s a really really minor thing, but after having always rented before, being able to see a problem with our home and just go fix it without needing anyone’s permission was pretty revolutionary!

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        When we bought our first house, my husband remarked on the same feeling! He was like, this is my wall, if I want to put a hole in it, I can! If I want to paint a wall, I can just do it!

        It’s surprising how different it can feel when something is truly yours.

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        I felt like this about buying a towel hanger for my downstairs toilet. It’s a tiny thing (literally £6 in Ikea) but being able to put some screws in a wall without fearing getting yelled at, and then having my hand towel available to just grab as opposed to draping it over the radiator and having to pick it up off the floor when it inevitably falls off, was such a weird but good feeling!

    3. Not Australian*

      Congratulations, Less-Stressed! I have a friend who was in a similar position about 20 years ago and was able to buy the house she’d been renting; it was a great move for her and she was able to turn a big profit on it when she had to sell – moving for her job – a few years later; I hope it works out similarly well for you.

      As for what to tackle first – is there anything that’s always really annoyed you about the house? Kitchen layout doesn’t work? Hate the bathroom floor? Shower tray leaks? Not enough electrical outlets upstairs? Go round and make a list, maybe divided into ‘essential’, ‘can wait’ and ‘would be nice’. Start wherever there is the highest concentration of these – unless you’d need to deal with something else more basic first, of course. If you needed a house buyer’s survey when you bought, that will give you some guidance.

      You may also want to walk around and review the lighting. Are the lights in the right places for the way you want to use the space? That’s probably something that should be tackled at an early stage, not least because it can cause a lot of disruption and mess.

      The fun part is always decorating. If your floors are good and neutral you can pretty much redecorate whenever you want, as paint and wallpaper are cheap enough and relatively simple to deal with and accessorising with soft furnishings doesn’t cost a lot. My advice would be to go bold; if you end up regretting it, a pot of paint and a couple of days’ work will soon put it right. I was a bit too timid/traditional when we moved into this house five years ago, and we’re currently going through every room redecorating with less bland colour schemes – which has been, for us, the perfect antidote to the frustrations of lockdown and travel restrictions.

    4. Zooey*

      This might be quite specific to our house, but the thing that really made it feel ours was getting all the downstairs floors done. It’s a Victorian house which had hideous carpets down over the (unfinished) pine board floors. It had had a damp problem so the carpets were musty. We took them all up and had a company come and sand and varnish the wood floors (after the damp was fixed). So we moved into a beautiful, fresh smelling house with golden wood floors and it felt like we’d really put our stamp on it.

      This specific thing might not fit you, but flooring is definitely one of those things that’s hard to control when you’re renting and makes a big difference to the look and use of a place.

      1. WellRed*

        If I could buy my rental reading floors would be top if list. Second would be larger kitchen cupboards.

      2. Less-stressed COVID Non-mover*

        That sounds really lovely. We’ve got a few spots in the house with carpet, but around here any houses older than the last couple of decades tend to have lovely wood floors, and thankfully they have come back into fashion, so a lot of places that had covered them up have new owners that are now taking the carpet off and refinishing them. A couple of rooms look like there was carpet that has been removed, but the floors are really pretty and I love them.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We repainted the whole interior ourselves before we moved in; even though you’re already there, this might be a good time for a big project like paint or flooring. I also replaced most of the outlets, light switches, and associated plates in the first few months, because they had ALL been painted over. And many of the doorknobs, for the same reason. Speaking of which, I also patched the holes behind the doors and installed door stops to keep it from happening again. Those were all very satisfying, and aside from the paint they were pretty simple and easy to work on here and there.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yeah, the switchplates were understandable, but many of the outlets were completely painted shut! And the doorknobs were mostly dripped on and generally in bad shape, and that kind of hardware is cheap, and it feels nice when it is literally shiny and new. I think the previous owners were just incredibly cheap (as compared to frugal), and paid as little as possible for everything, hence all the drip marks and the WALLPAPER BORDER THAT GOT PAINTED OVER. [rolls eyes]

        1. Venus*

          I changed to the handles that are handles not knobs, first on the outside doors and washrooms so that I could open the doors when my hands were messy. It was great!

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            YES, that’s the first thing I did on the front door! It’s so much easier to push the handle down than to try to turn a doorknob when you’re bringing in groceries or packages! I haven’t bothered using them on internal doors simply because we don’t shut those very often, but I like the idea!

            1. Venus*

              It’s a legal requirement here that new homes have handles, for accessibility reasons. Such a relatively simple yet great idea!

          2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            Only caution is that you don’t want handles on doors to the outside if you have escape artist pets. “Can operate without hands” is not always a good thing!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I loved reading your happy news what a turn-around on that story. Good for you and good for the LL. Congrats on your new home of your own.

    7. Asenath*

      I bought the rental I was living in once, and it worked out very well for me! I didn’t actually do anything different for that place – it was quite a stretch in all senses just buying it – not just financially, but also because it kind of seemed like mine, and I am not much of a nest-builder, I suppose. When I eventually sold it and bought a new place, I found myself shifting around my scanty furniture in the living area to try to find an arrangement that I liked – and I generally prefer watching interior design on TV, not doing it myself! The place had been beautifully staged, and my stuff looked quite different. But when I found an arrangement I was satisfied with, I was at home again.

    8. Me*

      Painting helps freshen things up and it really helps make it yours.

      We made lists of projects we wanted to tackle. That helps really refine our wishes for changing parts of the house over time and as the budget allows.

      We’ve lived here for almost 18 years and the projects left are the bigger ones – this year we are doing exterior hardscaping in the form of concrete paths/patios and cobblestone retaining walls. We were blessed with a ton of cobblestone patios built out of actual cobblestone – the kind that was used as ship ballast generally but these are rectangular hewn stone. Really nice stuff but shouldn’t be used as patio surfaces- just too uneven to try to put a table and chairs on. Makes for nice castle-y looking retaining walls though!

      Anyway, time and patience have helped me slowly turn this house into ours.

      Next up is a kitchen. I dread that project. Truly.

      1. Less-stressed COVID Non-mover*

        I’m really wanting to paint too. I’m thinking small for now; a couple of accent walls, so we can have a bit of color change (everything is SO WHITE, and this is the first time I’ve lived in a place with completely white walls in decades), which is more of a one-weekend project than ages of work (and when I was younger I helped my parents with a fair amount of house painting so I’ve got the skills). But we have to pick colors and such, which should be fun and a tiny bit stressful.

    9. mreasy*

      Congrats! We live in two-family above a business and our dream is that the landlord will sell it to us when she retires…it’s not perfect but we love it and would LOVE not to have to move!

    10. Jay*

      Mazel tov! My colors on the walls, my books on the shelves and my stuff in the kitchen makes it feel like home. Especially the bookshelves – but you probably already have that since you’ve been living there!

      And since you’ve been living there, I won’t offer my usual new-homeowner advice, which is to live in the house for a while before you do any serious renovating. It helped us a lot to figure out how we really used the spaces and what we needed. We ended up with a very different kitchen we would have chosen if we’d done it when we first moved in.

      Agree with the comments about the floors. We FINALLY did ours three years ago after 15 years in the house. We knew they needed work when we moved in but we had a toddler and two big dogs and it seemed pointless. Plus we had to rip up a lot of carpet upstairs. I’m stunned at the difference it made. Same furniture, same everything else, and the house is brighter and feels bigger (we went from worn-out dark parquet on the ground floor to a natural red oak hardwood).

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Was going to say the same thing! It’s OK to live in a place for a while w/your own things in it before you make changes. If there’s one glaring issue, fine, but you can acclimate before more.

        I’ve found with kitchen cupboards of cheap dark wood it was better to paint them white for now, even if changed later. Even when I was selling. Buyers may have said “We’ll have to change them” but they weren’t grossed out at first impression, they could see the INTENT. Painting one ugly feature buys you some time.

        But once your stuff is there you can see if you have to paint rooms now, or live with it. Paint a feature wall to see if you can live w/it. Browse to see all the products that are out there. Did you know there are low-cost fireplace mantel “kits” so you could change it? Have fun shopping before buying.

    11. Wishing You Well*

      CONGRATULATIONS on your house purchase!
      Paint is the fastest way to make a place feel like yours. The previous owners painted 2 small walls a dark brick red – just one wall in each room! Those walls were painted ASAP.
      You didn’t ask, but the one thing I will never live without again is an instant hot water tap on the kitchen sink. Holy Cow, that thing is handy! Instant tea, cocoa, boiling eggs, rice, etc. With liquid soap, hot water even helps clean out containers faster than the regular temperature water. I love it!
      Best Wishes!

    12. Dream Jobbed*

      Congrats! Welcome to the best and worst purchase of your life! (Depends on how the house is behaving.)

      I will echo others here – paint, paint, paint!!! Easiest (and cheapest) way to renovate and put your own stamp on things. Before you start however, spend some time planning. (If you are an experienced painter this will be a “no duh” post, but these are all things I learned the hard way.) Are you a white, bright white, or off white/cream type, of person? I bought a house that had off white, almost to a cream, accents. I am a bright white person. Ceiling white for ceiling, and pure bright white for trims. My colors are very pure – yellow is a yellow (light and mellow, but yellow), my gray is a light gray, but pure gray. Not green gray, blue gray, red gray, etc. They go really well with the white. If you don’t use bright white you need colors that go well with the color you pick. (I love cream colors and houses that use it well, but all my stuff is for the brighter tones so it depends on your tastes and what you already have.)

      I also make sure my colors are complimentary. I only have three in the house – gray (living areas, bathrooms, and my bedroom), yellow (dining nook and guest bath) and green (office and guest rooms.) Since you can see colors from another room I made sure they are all in the family. Buy a sample (Home Depot sells them for about $4) and put it on as much of a main wall as you can. Check it at different times of the day for different light. Put your furniture against it. So many times a color looks great in a small sample (sorry, taping the sample card to the wall isn’t enough) and overpowers in a large space. Buy good paint. I love HD’s Behr, but there is a lot of good paint out there. I use ceiling paint, high gloss trim paint, and interior eggshell enamel for the interior, which looks like flat paint, but is much more wipeable as I have lots of pets.

      Ignore every home renovation show where the first thing they do is grab a roller and start rolling on paint. (If you want to see me scream at a television showing me this!) Rolling the paint is the very last thing you will do besides touch up. You have to prep. Prep is horrible. You will hurt. You may bleed. Anything you see now (bumps, cracks, etc.) will still show under the paint. I just did a room where I had to patch and sand entire walls three times and I am still not happy with it. (Walls really need a new coat of texture and to be sanded, which I can’t do. I have a reasonable guy to do it, but it’s the guest room so it can wait and my BFF can deal with a bumpy wall when she can actually travel here.) Sand like crazy. Repair cracks – see YouTube for videos on how to deal with whatever you discover. If you can, take off doors, take out hardware and clean, and sand and paint flat. (Or put that off for the future as I am.) And vacuum the cracks then wipe down everything really well with a damp cloth and you are ready to paint!

      Start at the top and paint the ceilings. Invest in a couple canvas drop clothes if you are painting a significant amount. Protect the floors, but if they are wood don’t clean and mop them (except by where you are painting) as dust and dirt will help keep paint from sticking. Don’t ask me how I know that. I paint the trim next – some people cut in the wall first. I find it easier to see the color for making my lines. I slop it on getting the bottom, or top if floor trim, fully coated. I do put down the blue tape on the floor, but be cautious, it doesn’t protect like it should so try avoid getting it wet and don’t let the paint run or it will pool under it. I do two coats of ceiling and trim paint.

      Finally you can start the color. You want to cut it – so a line of color around the top, bottom and in the corners, where the roller will not reach. For me this is the most precise painting as you have to do a line by hand across the top along the trim and bottom. Corners can be slopped in, so I save them for last as the easy part. Again, two coats. You want to cut in first and roll over as much of it as possible, so you lose the lines from the paint brush. (Oh, and get good brushes, I like Wooster, but just don’t buy the cheapest or the ones where the bristles fall out.)

      Finally you get to roll! Prep the floor well, and it should be easy if everything is well prepped and cut in. Two to three coats and your living space will have new life!

      Enjoy the new place. Take the time to make it yours, because even though it’s hard work, there is nothing like enjoying a cup of tea in a room that really reflects you and that you created!

      1. Dream Jobbed*

        I forgot to mention scotch tape. I condemn the people who put this on their walls to an eternity of fire (or at least having to paint over it.) It will not come off, it will not sand off. Two choices: 1.) Use Goop off or Goof off (I can’t remember which product- only one works, can anyone help me?) and remove the tape. 2.) spread a layer of texture over the tape and sand it almost off and just paint over that. And NEVER leave scotch tape on a wall. :)

    13. Smitten By Juneau*

      My parents closed on purchasing their rental the day I was born. My father left the hospital after my early morning birth and tore out a wall they had always wanted to get rid of.

      If you’re thinking of anything more than cosmetic changes, either now or longer-term, it’s probably worth it to have a consult with an architect familiar with your area to walk through the house and property with you to give you ideas on what will and won’t work, and what others in the area have done. For example, a lot of older homes have tiny kitchens, that even though they might work for you, make a home less competitive in a market where a lot of folk have expanded the kitchen.

      Another thing to consider is your present and future working situation. How many remote workers do you have, and is there a good space for each to be comfortable, quiet & private? Maybe install a Murphy bed in the space room to free it up for an office but still have it usable for guests? I’m a full-time telecommuter for almost 14 years now, but we have just two bedrooms, so my wife has spent the past year working form the living room. While we’ve made it work, having a third bedroom for her office and project area would be ideal. Unfortunately, expanding our footprint isn’t an option here, but we’re also less than two years form retirement, and the house is sized (and priced) well for our retirement needs.

    14. Aphrodite*

      First, CONGRATULATIONS! Congratulations on buying the house and not having to move. That’s wonderful news.

      I just bought my own home too. It closed on December 21 and on December 27 I began renovations that are still ongoing and will be until, at the latest, the middle of March. I am exhausted by it but happy now especially as I get closer to the move-in date.

      I think I feel like it’s mine because the renovations, some for safety/necessity purposes, some for decorative desires, have entirely changed the look of the home on the inside. No more godawful 70s wood paneling, just fresh clean white walls. No ugly kitchen cabinets and pantry. just freshly painted white ones. No truly ugly “harvest gold” jacuzzi tub, circa 1978, now just a unique space for plants, no more disgusting carpeting because the new LVP white-ish VPL flooring is going in beginning Tuesday. No more leaky roof or windows, all replaced. Oh, and the semi-hidden bedroom camera–GONE!

      That is what makes it mine. All those choices. I will not live in the late 70s but in a white, sun-filled, gorgeous home. The furniture isn’t in yet but I rejoice in the whiteness instead of the astonishing amount of brown that was everything.

      So do what you want instead of being limited by being renters! That’s the freedom of owning..

    15. Petticoatsandpincushions*

      Paint! We’ve been in our house for about three
      years now, and it feels like we did so much work to make it truly ours. But mostly what we did was paint and replace light fixtures. Those two things alone went miles in making the place feel personalized to us.

    16. Mary Berry*

      Congrats! We did a lot of painting – the previous owners really loved brown, so much so that they painted the ceilings brown too. Fresh paint really brightened it up. Changing out the lightbulbs to more energy efficient ones also made a big difference.

      Our big major item early on was the master bathroom. It was original, and contained a very broken jacuzzi tub. We had that ripped out and replaced with a walk in shower, and then my spouse finished up the rest.

    17. KaciHall*

      Congrats! I would say the thing that made me feel like we really bought a house instead of renting was getting new doorknobs and deadbolts so we knew for an absolute fact that no one else had keys to our house. Then we painted all the bedrooms.

      We moved in last April and we still haven’t unpacked everything, so I think you’re probably way ahead of me on the moving game!

      1. Lizzie*

        I am a renter. If I had my own place I would put up picture rails in every room so that I could hang up many many pictures and move them around at will!
        We had picture rails in the house I grew up in – just makes decorating with art so easy.

    18. Spcepickle*

      Door swings! The second day I was in my new house I reversed the swing on 3 of the 4 interior doors (mostly making them swing out instead of in). It made the whole house flow better. Also fridge doors and many washing machine doors can be switched. Make your space work!

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Such a good recommendation. Our doors all swing the “right” way (crucially, against the wall, not into the room) and it makes a huge difference to how you can place furniture and therefore the flow of the room.

        We put in a folding door (imagine a normal width door but hinged down the middle as well as at the side) where the door is usually left open, and it means it takes up nearly no space when it’s open.

    19. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Plant fruit trees. Plant ornamental trees.

      Plant them within pots if you are concerned about root spread.

    20. Marion Ravenwood*

      Firstly. congratulations!

      I don’t know what the rules were like in your rental, but the thing that has made the biggest difference for me in my own flat as opposed to when I was renting was being able to do things like put my own artwork on the walls (in the UK a lot of rental properties won’t let you make holes in the walls, paint etc, although some will let you do this if you agree to change it back at the end). It’s a really quick small thing but also makes such a difference in terms of being able to bring some of your own personality to it and make it your own space. Painting a wall would probably fit this too, but I personally like white walls and then adding colour through artwork and soft furnishings as I feel it gives more scope to change things around, so YMMV.

      I also got my bathroom redone before I moved in, which I feel has also made a really big difference – there have been certain things I wanted in ‘my’ house for a while, including a particular type of bathroom tile (yes I know that’s very niche), and being able to have that has felt like making a really big stamp on the property, as well as making the bathroom feel more spacious as I had the bath taken out and a shower put in. Next project is going to be the floors – I like the colour and style of the ones I have but the quality isn’t great, so I’ll probably get them replaced with something a bit nicer, hopefully in the next year or so.

    21. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Congratulations! Put nails in those walls, homeowner — no more landlord to revoke your damage deposit for hanging Great-Aunt Bertha’s macrame sailing ship or Uncle Tony’s driftwood mobile.
      And pick the colors you want for the walls — hot pink, daffodil yellow, or full-on kelly greenscreen green! It’s your wall, so live it up.

    22. Less-stressed COVID Non-mover*

      Thanks everyone for your ideas and suggestions, as well as all of the well-wishes. I will definitely consider these ideas when figuring out what to do next!

  5. Invisible Fish*

    Movie recommendations, specifically designed to help me escape reality for 2 hours but not requiring the time commitment of a series- got any? Movies that are on my “this was good and I’d like to watch more like it” list include: 28 Days Later, Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, original Men in Black, Jupiter Ascending, first How to Train Your Dragon, Pitch Perfect, Hitch, original Star Wars trilogy, Riddick movies, The Mummy … as you can see, it’s all escapist and the good guys win …

    1. DistantAudacity*

      For escapist (and quite silly) – try the film «Space Sweepers» on Netflix. It’s a Korean film – the lead actors are Korean, but a global range of actors. And everyone speaks in their own language!

      There is an Explanation very early on, and I thought that whole thing worked charmingly well, as opposed to a variety of dodgy accents. Obvs, subtitles, but I was for instance pleasantly surprised when the Danish actor showed up :)

      1. Llama face!*

        Seconding Space Sweepers! I quite enjoyed it and particularly appreciated the diversity of languages and people represented. (It really made sense for the context and I hope more films get made like that)

    2. Trude*

      Have you seen 28 Weeks Later?

      Hacksaw Ridge.

      Kung Fu Hustle, it’s hilarious no matter how many times you watch it.

      The Cornetto Trilogy, the movies are all parody of certain genres.



      1. DistantAudacity*

        Oh yes, Hot Fuzz (Cornetto trilogy) is the best!

        The payoff through the last third of the film is one of the great film experiences :)

      2. Nessun*

        I Love Tremors. I will watch it over and over…the series gets sillier over time, but I love them all. The first is definitely the best, and doesn’t require ever seeing the others.

    3. I take tea*

      I really enjoyed the remake of Jumanji (also the follow up, because of Aqwafina). It jokes around a bit with the genre, which is something I always appreciate. Another film that does that is Isn’t it Romantic on Netflix.

      1. twocents*

        Seconding! I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the new Jumanjis. They don’t try to just remake the old one, so I think that helps.

    4. CatCat*

      – Stardust

      – Princess Bride

      – Willow

      – Ever After

      – original Clash of the Titans, and Jason and the Argonauts

      – A Knight’s Tale

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Stardust is one of my favorite movies ever.
        It is so charming. I can’t really describe it as anything else.

        1. NeonFireworks*

          Me too – it’s so warm and delightful. It’s sappier than the book, but somehow manages to get away with it spectacularly. Also, Robert De Niro – that is all.

    5. Curly sue*

      Pacific Rim is my favourite escapist silliness. Gorgeous visual design, and the world is saved by the power of love and giant robots. (Also, Idris Elba.) I also really enjoy ID4, but that’s mostly because it’s one of the perishingly few (only?) action movies where an openly Jewish character saves the world.

      1. pieforbreakfast*

        Love love love Pacific Rim. I had no intention to see this when the trailers were out but enough people I like told me to see it so I did. And enjoyed it thoroughly. So don’t trust the trailers on this one, Less Stressed.

    6. CTT*

      My “I would like to not think and look at pretty colors” go-to is Tron Legacy – technically a sequel to the 1980s movie, but I have never seen it and felt like it was understandable, and it’s all neon car chases and Daft Punk score.

      I also enthusiastically second the Stardust suggestion.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        Just on this – yes it’s a cute premise, funny, sweet and the lead actors are great, but be aware that there may be some upsetting moments about two-thirds of the way through depending on your own life experiences. I watched it with my boyfriend last week and there is one scene (if you know you know) that I was not expecting and which really threw me for a loop.

    7. A Simple Narwhal*

      I recently watched Soul, and I absolutely loved it. It might not be super escapist, but darn is it enjoyable and makes you feel good. Also it gave me a new appreciation for jazz.

    8. RandomNameGoesHere*

      Don’t know how easy these would be to find streaming, but from my DVD/Blu-Ray collection:
      The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
      The Court Jester [1]
      Dick Tracy
      Galaxy Quest
      Kubo and the Two Strings
      Mad Max: Fury Road [2]
      The Trouble with Harry [3]

      And, for those okay with definite horror shadings:
      Army of Darkness
      Bubba Ho-Tep

      [1] Comparatively ancient (1955), if that’s a turn off.
      [2] Any of the Mad Max movies would fit, and they’re all okay-to-good in their own way, but Fury Road is probably the best of the bunch and the most ‘modern’.
      [3] Again, it’s old (also ’55).

      1. Doc in a Box*

        The Court Jester is one of the funniest movies ever made! It’s historical (set in the High Middle Ages, parodying the Ivanhoe/Black Arrow/Robin Hood genre), but it doesn’t feel dated at all. How can you beat the perfection of “the pellet with the poison” sequence?

        1. RandomNameGoesHere*

          Oh, it truly is “the brew that is true”. But the language of cinema was different back then (set design, costuming, editing, pacing, cinematography, front-loaded credits, attack-the-sword-not-the-person fights, etc.) and there are people who really don’t like that style. So I mention the date in case it’s a taste mismatch, in the same manner that I’d warn somebody that a food recommendation was spicy.

          Similar story with The Trouble With Harry; content is fine, near as I can tell, although the final reveal/punchline won’t feel anywhere near as subversive to modern viewers, because Hitchcock had to game the Hays Code at the time (and Hollywood punted the ‘Code in ’68). But the cinematic language is from the ’50s, and if you don’t like that then you may not like the movie, despite it being well crafted and funny.

    9. Hooray for Escapist Movies!*

      Seconding Galaxy Quest!!! A wonderful send-up.
      The American President (if you liked West Wing)
      Dave (Kevin Kline is a presidential look-alike. Charming and great movie)
      A Fish Called Wanda
      School of Rock
      Yellow Submarine – Beatles music and pop-art graphics and bright colors. What’s not to like?
      Logan’s Lucky (a charming caper movie)
      Game Night
      Enchanted (send up of Disney movies. Utterly wonderful.)
      Help (cheesy Beatles movie! De ring! De ring!)
      Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson film. Quirky. Great.)
      The Butcher’s Wife (I swear no one has seen this but me. It came out the same year as a movie with a similar name that was about murder, so I think people get them confused. This one is about as opposite from that as you can get. Completely feel-good and charming. )
      Cinema Paradiso

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      Music & Lyrics is one of my favorite rom-coms. Your name made me think of Big Fish which doesn’t really fit the ones you listed but is gorgeous and interesting. Moana.

    11. Nicki Name*

      Additional votes here for The Princess Bride, Help!, and Yellow Submarine. You may as well watch A Hard Day’s Night too– less expansive than the other Beatles movies, but still silly and fun.


      Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
      The Italian Job (1969 version)
      Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
      Summer Wars

    12. The Other Dawn*

      Working Girl
      Italian Job
      Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13 (8 was good, too)
      School of Rock
      Legally Blonde
      Ever After
      Never Ending Story
      Rock of Ages (ah, the soundtrack of my teen years!)

    13. the cat's ass*

      Do you like anime? We’re working our way through most of the Miyazake movies again at a 10 year gap. Strong female protagonists, environmental subtexts, beautiful animation.

      Documentaries? My hubs sucked me into the Ewan MacGregor/Charlie Boorman “Long Way” docs, the first a motorbike trip from London to NY overland; the second from Scotland to So. Africa; the last, Patagonia to LA on electric Harleys. I was surprised by how much i enjoyed it. We watched one or two of them every couple of nights and that kept us busy for about 6 weeks.

    14. Nicki Name*

      Oh, right, should have thought of Miyazaki! If you don’t know where to start with him, my personal favorite is Spirited Away.

      Another director I can recommend just about anything by here is Mel Brooks. I especially like Silent Movie and Top Secret, though being familiar with Star Wars you have to check out Spaceballs.

      1. Nessun*

        Agree with Miyazaki- the stories are lovely, the main characters are almost always young women who grow into wonderful strengths and personalities. And the music!!

      2. EBennett*

        Seconding “Top Secret” and adding “Airplane”

        I also recommend 1930s/1940s screwball comedies like “The Philadelphia Story” and “Bringing Up Baby”

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Dang, I read that as “The Philadelphia Experiment”. Very different.
      Many of favorites that I would have suggested already made it to this list. I’ll add “Raising Arizona”, “Abominable” (incidentally that’s the last movie I saw in a theater at the end of 2019), “The Last Starfighter” (“this is my mobile home. it’s like a cave above ground, on wheels so it can go places. only ours never did.”)

    16. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      If you’re still checking this, I really recommend the Underworld series of movies. They are very atmospheric and have exciting action, but they make No Sense, and everyone who made the movies is clearly fine with that. I got my brother watching them during Quarantimes, and we have been enjoying the movies and then enjoying making fun of them. A perfect pairing!

  6. Teatime is Goodtime*

    Dear AAM Community,
    I am curious how you clean in the big picture. Is there a plan? Is there a method? If you were teaching someone how to keep a house clean in the long run, what would you say?

    I feel a bit silly asking this question because I have been living on my own for well over ten years now and I’ve done fine…but I’ve moved a lot over the years and there’s a lot of other firsts in my life in my current space and situation that make reflecting on this suddenly more important.

    I have the day-to-day down pretty well (laundry, dishes, etc.). However, I seem to have difficulty feeling like I’m doing enough with the sorts of things one doesn’t do regularly. Like, I’ll notice one day that the space behind X or on top of Y is FILTHY, where X and Y aren’t visible or used spaces (tops of cabinets, behind the washer, etc.). Or another thing I found recently: my dishwasher’s filter thingie was totally gunked up! Of course I’ll clean it when I see it, but I’d rather get to it before it gets that bad…but then I’m not sure how to integrate that into the day-to-day. And it makes me worry about what things I might be missing.

    Striking a balance is also important to me: I could easily spend all of my time cleaning, but I also want free time and so on…so how important IS it to have the space behind the washer be spotless on any given day? Should I be letting this stuff go? If so, for how long? How do I begin to think about the space, its use, and how clean I want that space to be? How do you think about this?

    Any thoughts or methods would be welcome! Thank you in advance. :)

    1. Princess Deviant*

      Someone here once made a recommendation for the blog Unf*ck Your Habitat, and I’ve found that so helpful.
      I now just clean in short time frames of a few minutes here and there so it’s incorporated into my day.
      I always try to do the basics (body, rubbish, dishes) every day, but don’t beat myself up like I used to do if I don’t manage it sometimes.
      I’ve not managed to make my bed in the mornings (I don’t know if I ever will!) but my house, while not perfect by any stretch, is my sanctuary and I no longer dread coming home because it’s a midden.
      That blog really did make a difference to my life!

      1. Princess Deviant*

        And to answer your questions, I clean up the other bits on a sort of rota basis. I’ve got my chores that I like to do once a week, once a month, and once a quarter. If I notice something’s a mess I clean it though. I’m not beholden to my particular rota.
        If something is bothering me, I clean it. I’ve learnt to not be a perfectionist, so 5 minutes clearing something that’s bothering me makes a big difference to my mood even if it doesn’t make a massive difference to the overall house clean level.

        1. Teatime is Goodtime*

          Thank you! Yes, I ran into Unf*ck Your Habitat here too, but I had forgotten–so thank you so much for the reminder and your answers!

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            To add to this, UnF* also has a great community in the Facebook group “Team UfYH (Official)” to share with other people who are also not natural housekeepers.

            It’s a very supportive and safe space, and a very good scheme if ND or disability is a factor.

            Maybe your entire achievement in a day is to drink enough water, and fold one load of laundry. The UfYH community will admire your folded laundry and thank you for the hydration reminder.

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        Another vote for Unf*ck Your Habitat! Rachel (who runs UfYH) also has daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal worksheets on her Patreon and in the UfYH book with spaces to include your own tasks, so it may be worth adding some of these to that rotation if they bother you (or are likely to). I also like the Flylady threads on the MoneySavingExpert forum – you don’t have to be a member to view it but basically it breaks cleaning down into a room a day and three ‘levels’ of tasks (plus some extras) depending how much time/energy you have, and does include this type of thing sometimes.

    2. Jim Bob*

      Two methods, both almost too simple to mention:

      1) if I notice it and it bothers me, it’s worth cleaning; otherwise, it’s not. Cleaning oddball spaces isn’t about hygiene, it’s about mental health. If it weighs on you to leave it dirty, clean it; if it doesn’t, don’t use your finite time on a misguided attempt to have a “perfect” spotless home.

      2) For big-picture stuff, I hire a cleaner twice a month. Expensive, but my wife and I realized that our time (and the aggravation saved from arguments about cleaning!) are worth money.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        That is such a good point about cleaning being mental health, not hygiene. Thank you! I need to think about this to unpack it fully, but you’ve given me a great start.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I try to do heavy cleans once or twice a year. Other than that it’s on an as needed basis. For example, I’d give the area around the stove a priority because dust/dog hair can be a fire/safety hazard. A friend was over and could not stop himself from removing cobwebs from around the furnace because of the potential safety issue. (eh, I hadn’t noticed them that much.)

      My car gets a good clean up in the fall because winter time use really trashes the interior. If I straighten it up in the fall it’s much easier to keep it orderly and cleaned up in the winter.

      In my mind there is cleaning and then there is purging. In the book, “Taming the Paper Tiger” the author was a fan of purging as you go. And that meant just toss the things you are 100% sure of that you do not need. I started doing this with not just paper but also with clothes and household items. The reason for this is the big cleans were too big. I was trying to purge and straighten and clean. It was too much mental and emotional fatigue on top of the physical component. Another good thing about purging as I go means that I do not end up with a huge bill at the dump because I have been tossing stuff routinely.

      Some stuff I cannot get rid of in my county. I had to drive to the next county to get rid of my dead computerized sewing machine. I think I have gotten more aware of items that take extra steps to get rid of and doing it more often helps. This week I have an old flag that needs to be burned. Since I am going in the direction of a store that provides that service, I will take the flag with me and get rid of it. The down side to this method is that there is always something that needs additional attention.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        There is a huge difference between purging and tidying and cleaning, great points! Thank you.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I’m glad you found a thing that works for you! I’m not so good with apps, but I love that they exist for people like you. :)

    4. Me*

      I really try to keep the clutter entirely at bay (a parent is a hoarder; I’m the opposite). That helps when I actually want to clean things.

      My favorite stupid cleaning trick? A Roomba. I abhor vacuuming or sweeping. My Roomba does what I hate the most, and while I do have to take it apart and clean it now and then, I like that more than actual vacuuming. Tip: buy a set of extra rollers/filters to have on hand. That helps get it back in service quickly and allows you to clean the roller sets at your leisure.

      I do have to pull out the upright for some of the rugs, like the bedroom one. But that’s because I don’t let the Roomba into the bedroom.

      If you have dogs like I do, then you have to do a quick check first to make sure no one puked in a corner. I’m home when I run the Roomba so no worries about pet poo being smeared around.

      Keeping horizontal surfaces clean allows me to dust when it appears I need to.

      The rest of it I just take care of as it appears to need cleaning or if someone is coming over. Like I don’t have a certain day that I clean the main bathroom on the main floor. If the sink needs spiffing up then I take care of it. But if guests are coming over, I spend a half hour making sure that room is presentable.

      Otherwise I feel like I’m spending time on Things that Don’t Matter to me.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I am not good at keeping away clutter! I try, and I’m getting better, but you are so right that it makes cleaning harder. Good reminder to push on that as much as I can.

    5. twocents*

      What I’ve been trying lately is to clean at least one thing a day, which I’ve had some good luck with. It turns out that I care more about the mental health boost of accomplishing something and having the space around me being a bit nicer than I do about, you know, actually cleaning. Once or twice a year, I tend to do a deep clean; not on any set schedule but just “ugh what are all these papers doing in my office!!” sort of impetus.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Yes, I do deep cleans like that, too. And good point about the mental health boost! Those are not to be discounted, especially right now.

    6. fposte*

      I like the Home Routines app, where you can schedule things you do regularly on that day of the week, or when that area of the house is a focus, or in another interval that works for you. (I have spring and fall tasks and another get-around-to-it list.)

      I will also say that during the pandemic I’ve ignored it and taken advantage of my low standards :-). So I’d say try some possibilities but don’t feel obliged to be ruled by them.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Thank you for the suggestion! Yes, I think I need to just try a bunch of things out and see what works best for right now. And I hear you about the pandemic, argh.

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      It’s a drag to clean house when the house is cluttered, so I’ve internalized a “one weird trick” kind of habit that helps a lot. When I get up to leave a room, I look around me to see if there’s anything I can do to micro-declutter the space. For example, if I’m heading to the kitchen for a glass of water, I’ll pick up the newspaper to put it in the recycling bin, and also put away this book I finished reading, maybe straighten the sofa cushions and throw blanket as I pass by.

      It’s a dead simple concept — essentially I’m never walking anywhere empty-handed — but it really does keep the clutter and disorder at bay quite a bit.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I like this! I have a variation of that and it helps. But I like that yours has more elements to it (not just transport, but straightening and such). I’ll see about being more purposeful with that this week. Thank you!

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’ve simplified this habit to myself as Always Be Carrying (ABC) — if I’m going from one room to another, I carry something with me that needs to be put away, discarded, or whatever. It helps me keep things tidy without feeling like I’m perpetually cleaning.

    8. merope*

      There are lots of good suggestions here! I want to put forward a phrase that might be helpful for you in terms scheduling/how often: spring cleaning. The idea of spring cleaning seems more in line with the type of chores you are describing: ones that don’t need to be done on a weekly basis, but do need to be done from time to time. It might also help to think about it as a deep clean. For me, I do enjoy adding these tasks to my schedule more in the spring/summer rather than the winter, but essentially a spring/deep cleaning of a space means that is the time when I’ll clean out the dishwasher trap, move furniture to clean behind it, wash windows and window coverings, turn mattresses, etc. If I find during this process that something is grosser than I would like, I will elevate its cleaning rotation to something more frequent (every six months?). I’ve found it easiest to focus on one room at a time, so a spring cleaning of the bedroom might take a week or two, for example. I hope this helps!

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I do spring cleaning! Sometimes it isn’t in spring, but I always call it that anyway. :) But I take your point, and you’re right. I think I don’t have a good in-between system–either it is day-to-day or it is once-in-a-year-ish. I like your idea of the one-room-at-a-time, I will try that. I think one thing that has made things difficult these last few years is that some of the rooms have been transitioning in function, but that is now mostly settled. I hope, anyway! Thank you!

    9. Not A Manager*

      I wish I had a regular schedule, but I don’t. What I tend to do is see that odd thing that needs cleaning – like behind an appliance or the top of a shelf – and then that prompts me to deep clean the whole room. Not necessarily immediately, but that room gets put on my mental to-do list for the next time I have a free day.

      When I do have that free day, I try to look for things similar to whatever prompted me. Pull out all the appliances and clean behind them, get on top of all the shelves, get inside every cabinet, etc.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Yes, I agree–I wish I had a regular schedule but I don’t! :) It is nice to hear that I am not alone, thank you.

    10. MissCoco*

      My partner and I have been picking an area each month and doing a deep clean over the course of the month.

      We took December and January off. Sometimes a month rolls around and we inventory the space and there’s very little to be done (like in our living room, we just dusted the windowsills and moved the couch and TV stand to vacuum behind them), and then we are happy, and other times we may find lots to deal with, like the kitchen, next year we’ll probably do cupboards as one month and the rest of the kitchen as one month.

      I find it a manageable amount of deep cleaning effort, and if we find one of those things like the dishwasher, we’ll add it to the list for next year or in 6 months or whatever.

      I also like the Tody app for pre-scheduling periodic cleaning things that only need to be done a couple times a year. We usually check that at the start of each month to see if anything is related to our room of interest.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I like this idea, thank you! I’ll definitely give it a shot. Because it is over the course of a month, it sounds like it will be flexible enough to work around some of my constraints which include unexpected unplanned stuff.

    11. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      I have laminated lists on my kitchen to garage door, in a pretty, but easy to read font.
      Some things may say 2X a week/month.
      I got tired of people saying, I’d help but I don’t know what to do. For a while I printed up weekly lists (for the kids) that they had to fill what they did. That way I could make sure that they weren’t picking the same, easy things over and over. Oh fine you straightened the main room, but I’ve had to clean the bathrooms/do the floors etc for 6 months. I’ve kept the lists up because frankly it helps me.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I LOVE the idea of getting my kid to clean. Unfortunately he is not old enough…but soon. SOON. I thank you for the ideas for keeping track!

        1. Another JD*

          How old is your son? My 2-year-old has been helping tidy for at least a year. One of her favorite things to do is clean the stove with a scrubbie sponge because she gets to make bubbles all over it.

    12. violet04*

      I like coming downstairs in the morning to a tidy kitchen, so on a daily basis I do the dishes and wipe down the counters.

      I also make the bed every day. I keep a washcloth by the bathroom sink to wipe up any water on the counter.

      I work from the kitchen table, so I tidy up that space when I’m done for the day.

      On a weekly basis, I vacuum the entire downstairs. I use a steam mop to clean the flooring in the kitchen and foyer. The upstairs carpet gets vacuumed every other week. Toilets are cleaned on an as-needed basis.

      I hate dusting so I only do that when I’m feeling especially motivated. I’m sure I need to remove the couch cushions and clean out the crumbs, but that’s not something I do on a regular basis.

      I have five cats and the laundry room has three extra large litter boxes. I have mats to trap the litter, but I know there’s a ton of litter and cat hair under washer and dryer. And that room is extra dusty due to the dust from the litter.

      I had to retrieve some cat toys from under the stove and pulled out a good bit of hair and dust. But I haven’t pulled out the stove to thoroughly clean underneath.

      All that to say, that it’s not important to me to have every surface of the house spotless and dust free. To me, it’s important to have the floors and counters clean. And most importantly, I don’t like having a lot of clutter and stuff around.

    13. GinnyDC*

      So many good suggestions! One other I’ve used is the FlyLady (flylady dot net). It doesn’t sound like you would need a lot of her crisis cleaning/motivational stuff, but her section on setting up a Control Journal might be helpful. Basically, it’s a way to make a list of everything that needs to be cleaned on a daily, weekly, monthly, etc. basis and then set up routines so you get them all done. Her website has a LOT of stuff so it can be overwhelming. I’d suggest clicking on the “Get Started” link and then scrolling down to Step 4 and click on the link to build your own control journal.

    14. Dan*

      I’m sure I find your question more interesting than most will.

      Over the last year or so, I’ve been developing allergies I didn’t use to have. And like you, in my younger years, I moved around a lot, so I never lived in any one place long enough to worry about any sort of deep cleaning.

      For those that subscribe to the “only clean it when it bothers you” school of cleaning, well that’s me. And I’m not bothered by much visually, so I’m willing to let a lot of things go. My concerns TBH are about the things that are hard to see (or are out of the way) but could cause my allergies to act up.

      But I’ve lived in my current apartment for over a decade, and over that period of time, it’s amazing what can accumulate when you’re not looking. For example, I run my bedroom ceiling fan daily. Even when that thing is in motion, it’s amazing what will accumulate on top of that.

      Second, good vacuums are worth it. I recent upgraded to a Dyson stick vac and OMG that thing does wonders.

      I’m at the point where I’m just going to pay something for the heavy duty deep cleaning. I 1) Don’t have the desire to do it myself, and 2) Can afford it.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I’m glad I can be interesting to someone besides me! :) And isn’t it weird to be in the one space so long after moving so much? Time flies, too. Some days it feels like I’ve been here forever and others like I just moved…

    15. Gamer Girl*

      I’m manic about keeping my machines clean–I love my manuals and keep them in a binder (not even my tax paperwork is that organized. Most papers i throw in a box!) All that to say: my manual recommends that you clean the filter 1x per month, but I prefer 1x per week. I clean it at the same time as I clean my coffee machine (1x per week), oven fan filter, and dehumidifier filter. All filters in the house at the same time, none get gross or filthy, so it only takes about 1 min to clean each!

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        This is a really great suggestion, thank you! I keep manuals, too, but I didn’t think to consult them. :) Great idea!

    16. Oxford Comma*

      This is my routine:
      Daily: make beds, do dishes, wipe down bathroom/kitchen counters, dirty clothes go in a hamper. Try to pick up around the house.
      Weekly: laundry, change sheets/towels, sweep, plant care, some light dusting, run the dishwasher, thorough wipe down of counters
      Monthly: my cleaner comes in and he does the floors, bathroom, kitchen, heavy dusting
      Quarterly: launder: bedspread, mattress pad, curtains. I rotate the mattress, change out coffee filter, run that washing machine cleaner stuff through the washer
      Every six months: clean out closets, cupboards, shampoo rugs, getting the space beneath the stove, clean the oven. I usually pay extra for the cleaner to do this, but if he can’t, I do it myself.

      Best thing I ever did was hire a cleaner. I am not good at cleaning. I hate doing it and yet I hate living in messy spaces. So I give him money and he comes in and does it far better than I do in a faster amount of time.

    17. Chriama*

      Tops of cabinets and behind the washer don’t need to be cleaned unless you’re moving. Possibly an unpopular opinion, but why borrow work for yourself? I’m not sure how the dishwasher filter works but could it possibly be dumped out and rinsed once a week or whenever you run a load? Bottom line for me is, if I don’t notice when it’s not done then it probably doesn’t need to be done.

  7. Bobina*

    Gardening thread!

    Early today because I’m heading out for a walk, but now that spring is round the corner (at least in my part of the world, sorry if you’re still buried under snow wherever you are) – I’m getting excited! The bare root hosta I bought and planted in December is showing signs of life! More of the bulbs I planted are sprouting. I went to buy window trays in an actual shop the other day and saw a whole selection of seeds and plants and was like “oh my god, thats right, shops also sell these things, I dont just have to buy them online”. Can you tell its been a while since I’ve been in a shop? So I bought some wildflower seeds, some cheap Begonia’s and Veronica Spicata which had been on my list anyway. Not sure if the quality will be any good, but like I said, cheap.

    Tomorrows job is going to be planting the latter two, and I’ve got a day off on Monday where I intend to go buy more pots so I can sow the flower seeds next month when its a bit warmer. Also need to start propogating the grass seeds I bought in November as well, so fingers crossed my vision of a patio full of plants will happen in the summer.

    How are your gardens growing? If you’re in the Southern hemisphere, and heading into autumn what (if anything) are you doing?

    1. CatCat*

      A month in and the Aerogardens are going strong. Spouse and I have enjoyed making salads from the lettuce and incorporating the herbs into our food. The mint is kind of meh, but the other herbs are good. The dill grows sooooo fast and we’re struggling to use it fast enough! We’ve used it in dressings, mixed into chickpea salad, and adding sprigs to sauerkraut we’re making.

      Any tips for uses for all that dill for people that eat a plant-based diet?

      1. Anonymath*

        When we accidentally grew a dill forest we made lots of lemony shrimp, white bean, and cucumber salad, but it would be hearty enough without the shrimp. We also made loads of pickles since our cucumber plant was quite productive too.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I had a couple pods in my Aerogarden that didn’t sprout even after four weeks, so I filled out the form on their website because they have the guarantee and replacements are en route, it was way less hassle than I expected so that was nice! I had salad from Aerogarden lettuce the other day and the lettuces are already big enough to harvest again. I did notice that if I’m not careful the ends of the lettuce leaves can get burnt from the grow lights, which threw me off until I figured out what the spots were :)

      3. Zelda*

        This is in my recipe app as “Dill sauce for fish,” but honestly what I mostly use it for is potato salad (boil up a pound or three of red potatoes, chill, cube, and combine with the sauce as desired):
        1.5 c finely chopped dill
        1.5 c mayo
        1 T mustard powder
        2 T lemon juice
        2 t worcestershire sauce

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      I ordered my seeds! Now I just need to figure out how to squeeze everything in… going to see if I can get my husband to agree that what our deck really needs is a few raised planters! We already have an almost 1/4 acre vegetable and herb garden (fenced) in the ground. Last year I allegedly had “too many” tomato plants, so of course I saved seeds from several of them plus ordered a few new varieties. I love finding unique heirloom varieties, especially when they’re fun colors and shapes. My favorite last season was the German Striped tomato, it was green with red-orange stripes, very lumpy looking, and tasted heavenly!

      1. Bobina*

        Raised planters are always a good idea ;) (Dreaming of the day I have my own space for raised planters!)

        I also find this idea of too many tomato plants crazy. Maybe its because I’ve yet to figure out how to keep the ones I get alive and get them to produce a decent harvest (I usually get like..5 tomatoes from my plants) but I’m super jealous of anyone who manages to get a huge haul!

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          There is no such thing as actually having too many tomato plants as far as I’m concerned, but I will acknowledge that 48 was a lot! They did so well this year because I was unemployed from January through October, and gardening was my primary stress reliever. It’s never done so well in almost 50 years of gardening, and if that’s what it takes I’ll be okay if it never does that well again!

          1. Natalie*

            Tomato jam is excellent if you decide you’d like to preserve any! Can be made with essentially any kind of tomato.

            1. Zelda*

              The couple of times I’ve canned (well, technically jarred– just using those glass Ball jars from the grocery store) tomatoes, I’ve been pleased with the results. Tomatoes are high-acid, which means you don’t need a pressure canner or anything, just a big kettle to process the filled jars in.

              1. Natalie*

                Although I learned recently that some modern hybrids are no longer high acid enough to be hot-water-bath canned alone. So if you’re not using heritage cultivars or just to be on the safe side, add some vinegar or bottled lemon or lime juice. My tomato jam recipe has lime juice, the finished product doesn’t taste like lime at all.

                1. Zelda*

                  At least according to _Putting Food By_, the ‘modern cultivars aren’t acidic enough’ is a myth based on some confusing marketing– plant breeders touted the new varieties as sweeter/less tart, which they are, but it’s because of higher sugar, not lower acid.

                  That said, I do throw in a little lemon juice just in case– my experience is similar to yours, in that it doesn’t affect the flavor noticeably, and it’s belt-and-suspenders for food safety.

                  Are you willing to share your tomato jam recipe? Sounds interesting!

                2. Natalie*

                  @ Zelda, huh, fair enough! I use the “Food In Jars” recipe and she seems reasonably science-minded, but I suppose anyone can hear something like that and just assume it’s true/doesn’t hurt to add more acid.

                  I’ll reply w direct link.

    3. Me*

      All of my seedlings are dead. Or at least I assume they are. I haven’t been down to the basement to check.

      We’ve been without power since Sunday. I’ve mostly been huddled by the fire, grousing about the cold. I can’t even look at a gardening book right now.

      The ice storm took down a huge oak branch which crashed onto the corner of our porch. The roof of the porch appears undamaged but we will see once we remove it. The size of the branch is massive – really the size of a medium-sized tree. It took out a very mature Japanese maple and our favorite azalea (called crater lake blue, a very bluish purple).

      Most of the debris fell on my herb garden. That’s a bit of a plus as I was planning on redoing that whole area, so anything it may have taken out won’t bother me.

      We are pulling out the chainsaw today and cutting up the very many very big chunks. The wood is being taken to a friends who has a mechanical splitter. We will get back half of the wood in return. Since we are currently burning through our store of wood (no power since Sunday!) then we need to replenish anyway.

      I’m trying to see the upside. At least I didn’t start the tomatoes and peppers last Saturday!

      1. Bobina*

        That sounds so tough. Sending you warm thoughts, hoping any damage to the porch is minimal and you find that your seedlings are tougher than you thought. May you have a bountiful tomato and pepper harvest in the summer!

    4. Anonymath*

      I’m afraid my backyard garden is almost a total loss after the unusual hard freeze in Texas. The cold temperatures would have been bad enough, but combined with the extended power outage (we had about 3 total hours of electricity in 20 minute intervals in 3 days) taking out our Christmas lights that keep them warm, just about mall the tropical plants are most likely a loss. I’m trying to stay positive and hope some sprout from the roots, but most likely we lost both passion fruit vines, the star fruit, the bananas, the longan, and the avocado (that just started producing fruit), and the baby mango and various citrus are probably goners too. I think it also wiped out everything in my raised beds, so I’m glad I at least made one large batch of mustard greens before everything froze. At the moment I’m mostly just trying not to look at the backyard much.

    5. Ranon*

      Also in Texas. It’s a cut things down to the ground and hope kind of weekend.

      Glad I did some spring bulbs this year, the hyacinths and daffodils are both like “dude, what’s the problem, this is fine”. Lost a few blooms to ice but the plants were looking hearty yesterday. Also glad I pruned our small trees, they withstood the ice just fine and weren’t budding out much before this, so fingers crossed!

    6. Venus*

      I am planning to start my seeds in the next couple weeks!! Very excited that I am getting one step closer to spring. I live in the land of winter from December to April, and can’t reliably plant anything outdoors until May, but seedlings indoors are a reminder that it won’t be winter forever.

    7. Natalie*

      In bad gardening news the city showed up and marked our ash tree – it has EAB apparently so we have to have it removed. This is the first year its shown any signs of infection so I was hoping we’d be able to try an injected pesticide first. It’s our biggest shade tree so if we could we’d like to get a couple of more years out of it, until we’re ready to move anyway.

      I’m really impressed they managed to come and mark it without us noticing. Both of us are home constantly and our dogs bark the second the Amazon guy opens the gate.

  8. Lonely Aussie*

    I’m on the autism spectrum, over the last fifteen years or so my mother has got increasingly sucked into the anti-vaxx movement, and, in the last year, QAnon and covid19 deniers movement. While it’s been kind of hurtful for her to support an organisation that’s spent the last few decades demonisng people on the spectrum I’ve mostly tried to ignore it. She will never admit she’s wrong or hurtful, arguing just makes her double down and she’ always gives a non apology that would make a politician proud.
    Three days ago she posted a comment on Facebook against the vaccine, saying that she’d had one daughter damaged by vaccines and her family had already paid the price. I don’t think she ever intended for me to see it (but I, and potentially all of the extended family/friends, did.) And, she doesn’t know I saw it.
    She’s got no idea how much she hurt me. My own mother thinks the way I am as a person means I’m damaged. I’m damaged.
    I can’t confront her, because I live with her and I know that if I tell her how I feel she’ll kick me out. Rentals are non-existent in my area at the moment and I’ve got no where else to go.
    (I’m paying rent and acting as her chauffeur because she refuses to get her lisence and public transport is terrible here.)
    I can’t even look at her right now, I’ve barely said anything to her in the last few days and if I wasn’t living with her I’d have just cut her off completely. In all honesty, that comment, so flippant on her side, was probably the straw that broke the camels back but I can’t stop thinking about it. Damaged.

    I’m really struggling with mental health right now and there’s not an insignificant part of me that thinks she might be right. That there is something wrong with me and I’m damaged. Her voice has always been the one in my head that tells me I’m not good enough. In some aspects, the insecurities she passed onto me have been far more damaging to me than any autism.
    I don’t like the issues that come along with the autism but I realised a while ago, that I need to love myself and loving me means learning to love that as well. This is who I am. And she thinks I’m damaged.

    How do I live with this person who doesn’t know our relationship is essentially over? How do I deal with moving on from something when the person who said it will never admit they hurt me?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m so sorry, how awful. A few things in the hopes one of them might help:

      – It’s okay to prioritize your own safety above everything else right now. You can decide what you want your relationship with your mother to look like once you’re safe and not dependent on her for housing. It’s okay to put it off until then and to do what you need to to remain safely housed for now.

      – She believes in QAnon and Covid denial, so she’s made a pretty firm break with reality. Can you see the hurtful remark on Facebook in that context — as something that’s more of the same, delusion, not rooted in anything real? I know it’s hurtful in a totally different way — personal and awful. But it’s coming from someone you know is sick in a way — deluded and not firmly grasping reality — and maybe seeing it in that light will reframe it a little bit. (That said, mothers have the ability to wound us in a way no one else can, and I think it’s okay if you conclude you can’t reframe this in a way that you feel even a little better about. What she wrote was genuinely awful, and it’s awful that she would say it. It’s a betrayal and you’re entitled to experience it as one.)

      – I think you can only define “moving on from this” as being about your own reaction, not anything she does, since you can only control things on your side. What do you want for yourself in terms of how you feel about yourself and about her?

      You sound lovely and I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        I agree with everything that Alison has said, especially prioritising your safety right now.
        Can you afford therapy? It can be really helpful to talk through it with someone who’s understanding, to help you make sense of your feelings.
        What your mum said was really horrible and hurtful, and even though it’s completely untrue, it can feel like the truth when it comes from someone who is meant to stand up for us and love us no matter what. That’s really complex, because our brain is saying “I know that’s not true” but our heart is still crying out for understanding and acceptance from our parent.
        I’m so sorry you’re in this situation.
        I don’t know if this will help, but a stranger on the other side of the world is thinking of you and rooting for you.

      2. Lonely Aussie*

        Thanks for this, especially the bit about my own safety. I’ve been feeling really guilty like I’m using her for a roof over my head when I have no intention of ever having a relationship with her again.

        As far as the delusion thing, I don’t know that I can, she was into the anti-vaxx thing a long time before she got sucked into the other stuff, there’s a lot of guilt there too, QAnon and the hoax covid peeps targeted anti-vaxx groups to spread their message and maybe if I’d not been the way I am, she’d have not been antivaxx. She was provaccine up until a year or so after my diagnosis.

        1. Observer*

          QAnon and the hoax covid peeps targeted anti-vaxx groups to spread their message and maybe if I’d not been the way I am, she’d have not been antivaxx. She was provaccine up until a year or so after my diagnosis.

          Please! PLEASE do NOT take the blame on yourself. Being anti-vaxx did not MAKE her fall for Q etc. And your diagnosis did NOT make her an anti-vaxxer either.

          The common thread here in your mother’s behavior is that all of this stuff gives her something to blame for anything in her life that’s not the way she wants and excuses her from making reasonable effort to deal with what life throws her. That is NOT on you!

    2. Ellyfant*

      Hello from a mother with an intelligent, compassionate, funny, and precious son on the spectrum.

      I’m so sorry for what you’re going through with your mum. I’m sending you giant hugs over the internet. If this helps in any way, I want to assure you that you are not “damaged”. Of course autism has its share of challenges. But it also comes with its share of beauty. In my son’s case, I love his sense of innocence and honesty and intensity which he otherwise might not have, were he born with a neurotypical brain.

      I follow a FB group called More Than One Neurotype which really challenges traditional, negative views on autism and accepting it as one of the many diversities of humankind. I don’t read any of the comments so can’t speak on that, but the posts themselves contain a lot of love so I encourage you to check it out.

      What your mother said is hugely hurtful – and obviously untrue – and expect that it will take time to move on. Allow grief to occur for the person she is and not the person you hope for. Please consider prioritising your budget for therapy because it can help tremendously (speaking from experience).

    3. Nela*

      I’m so sorry for what you’re going through, that sucks so bad. Your mother is wrong on all accounts, you are not damaged. She is simply a very bad parent and her judgements of you are unfair and not a reflection of you as a person!

      In my experience, “moving on” happens when you’re ready to stop expecting anything positive from this relationship. The apology and acceptance will probably never come, and even if it does it will be too late because the damage to your mental health is done, and nothing your mother does will undo it.

      I once received a half assed apology from one parent, and while it was good to know they realized they were wrong, they didn’t and will never understand the true impact of their abuse. The other parent is still under the illusion that they were a decent parent because I seem to have my shit together.

      You need to talk to someone who will help wash out those lies you’ve been told all your life, and good therapists can do that.
      As for how to cope with your mother, I’d go full into detached roommate mode. Hide her on social media, avoiding being in the same room with her, maintain logistical conversations, but you don’t owe her any warmth and just shield yourself from any of her nonsense as best as your apartment allows.
      Good luck.

    4. Jessie*

      I’m the mother of a beautiful autistic son and it really hurts me that your mother thinks ASD people are damaged. I can’t imagine how upset you must have felt when you saw her post.
      Secondly, I have a mother who has always been verbally abusive to me. I had some mild brain damage that happened during my birth and she would callously talk about it to people in front of me like I’m not there. When I was 18 months old, I got mauled in the face by my grandmother’s dog. Apparently, the scars were really bad at first, but they healed perfectly and most people just think they are sleep creases on my cheeks or something.
      But my mom would always tell me that my face is damaged or ruined. If I played rough as a kid, she would keep telling me to “be careful so you don’t ruin your face. It’s already ruined.” It stinks to hear your own mother talking like that. These kind of relationships are not fixable. Don’t expect an apology. As you said, she will never admit it.
      You can’t physically distance from her right now for the sake of your comfort, security and safely. But you can emotionally distance yourself. Grieve the end of this relationship. Go through the whole grieving process, cry, sob, be sad. But go through it. Then when you are physically able to, move out and get away from her.

      1. Lonely Aussie*

        I’m so sorry you went through that. I think you’re right about things not being salvageable.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I love what Alison has here about mothers’ ability to wound us. If you go on YouTube you will find many, many videos of professionals talking about the damage parents can do especially a mother.
      I am pointing these videos out because you do need a source of validation here, being with her is kind of like drowning. While you can’t physically get out of the situation at the moment, you can find other people who are talking about these types of problems and give you ideas on things to consider.

      My story is a bit different- but the punchline might be helpful. When I realized just how far off base my mother was that was such a huge game changer. It was like day and night difference and I could not go back to my old beliefs and worries.

      You can build a path through this- you have gotten this far so you have the skills in place. Keep talking with people. Keep reading here.

      I agree that you do sound like a very kind person and I am betting most parents out there would be absolutely DELIGHTED if you were their offspring. Your mother has missed the boat in a big way.

    6. Julia*

      You’re not damaged. You’ve been exposed to damaging things and people, but you are not damaged. While I’m not on the autism spectrum (as far as I know), I have a mother who sounds like the people you read about on r/raisedbynarcissists some times. Like, she’ll say something really hurtful (e.g. “do you even speak English??” after I had finished out a contract as an interpreter) and then deny ever saying it, calling me crazy. Fortunately, I don’t have to live with her anymore, but when I did, it was so bad for my mental health. I know it’s not you or me, it’s them.

      Can you find someone to talk to, maybe online, who can commiserate, until you can finally move out some day?

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      I’ve never been diagnosed with anything but have always been “quirky”. Several of my friends are ASD. There’s nothing wrong with them, or with you, or with me. We’re just all ourselves. I’m sorry you’re going through this with your mom. I spent most of my twenties not speaking with my mother because I couldn’t stand her judgment of me. Eventually we made peace and have learned to accept each other as we are. We aren’t super close, but now that we live several hundred miles apart, when we do spend time together we enjoy each other’s company. Please don’t let her (or anyone else’s) criticism or thoughtless comments change who you are. If anything is damaged, it’s her perception of you. You are fine the way you are.

    8. Tib*

      I’m so sorry. I have a mom like that and I have a child like you. I worked so hard to parent differently from the way I was raised.

      I always feel better when I have a plan, and I think one might help you too. A concrete, how to leave plan with as much detail as you can put in right now. The Captain Awkward blog has good lists and questions for leaving a difficult situation. Even if phase one is waiting until conditions change, that doesn’t have to be passive waiting. It can be active waiting where you create a network, find your helpers, identify the conditions you need to leave safely, secure treasured items and important documents, grieve your loss, and just survive.

      1. TheMonkey*

        Came in here to recommend Captain Awkward as well. Her posts on making a plan to leave difficult living situations sound pretty applicable right now. Even having a plan and making some steps toward what your situation could be might be helpful for your frame of mind.

      2. Lonely Aussie*

        I think the lack of being able to plan is stressing me out as well. 2020 was a really rough year for me, I spent most of it on WorkCover for a freak injury, had about a month off it and got injured again. A few weeks after that injury I almost died from a bilateral-PE. I’m still on WorkCover and will be until my body heals, no idea when that’s going to be (I work a really physical job). The WorkCover stuff has really limited my income and burnt all my bridges with my company (I really had to fight to get them to follow the law) and I need a new job when I’m better, which is probably not going to be easy to get. Im still dealing with stuff from the PE. At this point I’m just trying to get through things one day at a time. I don’t know when I’m getting better, I don’t know what’s going on with my job or even if I’m going to have one at the end of this.

        1. Observer*

          Hm. Is it possible for you to explore moving in to a different field? You are unable to work now, is there any way you could get some training that would allow you to move into something else?

          That would give you a different way out of being stuck with your mother, if that works.

    9. Anona*

      I’m so, so sorry. You are not damaged, and it is so awful of your mom to say that.
      Captain awkward is a wonderful site- she talks a lot about dealing with hurtful, awful people. Here are a few posts that are at least somewhat related, but she has a huge archive too.




      Love and hugs to you. <3 You are worth it all.

    10. Me*

      You’ve already gotten some fabulous comments.

      I’m only commenting to add: as someone who doesn’t have a close relationship with my mom for so many unimportant reasons, the hardest ongoing thing for me is to watch/hear/converse with friends that have close relationships with their mothers. It’s just such a different experience than the one I have with my mom and that pokes me in the face now and then over the years. It just is, and it’s a bit of a reminder that your relationship is different than other people have with their moms.

      And that’s ok. It’s really ok to not have a great relationship with your mom. Doesn’t make it any easier but it’s ok!

      I’m also very sorry that you’re experiencing this. I found Alison’s advice to be so spot on.

    11. Jen*

      My Dad is a pediatrician specializing in neurodevelopment, meaning he works with ASD patients a lot and goes to conferences. Basically, my Dad is an expert in the field.

      And boy there is no convincing the antivaxxers. I mentioned my Dad is an expert and says vaccines don’t cause autism and they’ve accused my Dad of causing autism on purpose to drum up business. Absolutely horrifying (also my Dad makes WAY more money doing well child visits). I mentioned my whole family is fully vaccinated and these people choose to believe there is a secret cabal of doctors who give fake vaccines to people like my family. I don’t think my Dad even knows my son’s pediatricians name (we live in different states) but people actually will twist themselves in these crazy knots to keep their baseless paranoia.

      This is such a big problem they do research and have special training with doctors like my Dad on how to combat this. But even they can’t win sometimes.

      I don’t know how to deprogram your mom. I wish I did.

    12. sequined histories*

      Ironically, your mother is actually the damaged person in this scenario. She is unable to cope with the world in a realistic way and has prioritized the dysfunctional nonsense she turns to help her cope with her own problems over the well-being of her own child who loves her and provides her with vital, daily care and support.

      My mother had some issues to, and I don’t mean to glibly dismiss how you feel. I know what it’s like to be haunted for years by a comment your mother makes.

      A few years ago, my brother said, “You know, in a weird way, when she was hitting us, she was actually hitting herself.” Taken out of context, that might sound like cheesy pop psychology or like a cheap way of implying we should just forgive her because her shortcomings were no big deal—but my brother was just making a neutral and scarily accurate observation.

      I think it might help a bit to lean into that vision of your mom as radically messed up and deeply damaged, not because it makes her more forgivable—though it might in the end—but because it makes her judgment of you less powerful. Truly, she’s in no position to judge. Try to hold that in the forefront of your mind.

    13. fposte*

      Your mother is believing and saying terrible things. I’m sorry. Other people have addressed how BS it is to say this about her daughter; I’m going to object to the whole notion behind it.

      What I hate about the way the “damaged” term is used that it makes it sound like people are merchandise, and some will have to be thrown out rather than being sold.

      But we’re more like trees. All of us have had bumps and dings and unusual things we started with and unusual events that affected our growing, but we’re still putting out leaves and blooming. There’s no perfect, unblemished tree; that’s not a thing. This myth of “damaged vs. saleable” is so hurtful to everybody by making it sound like damage impairs your human value and that it’s vital never, ever to be damaged. Which is BS. Development is a complicated lottery, and life is full of road wear, and Mint in Mint Box is for collectibles, not people.

      1. Smitten By Juneau*

        I like the tree analogy. And wood workers prize the wood of the trees that OP’s mother would term most-damaged. Burls and even the voids caused by rot can result in some absolutely amazing pieces.

        I guess my point is that what OP’s mother sees as damaged is actually beautiful to (a lot) of other people. She is the one with a problem, not OP.

        1. Pippa K*

          Smitten and fposte, this is a lovely analogy on several levels, and I will try to think of people as trees more often. Reflecting on your comment, it struck me it’s not just that the burls and knotholes that are annoying in construction are beautiful in art – the tree itself doesn’t care. We only assess those things based on how we want to use it. OP isn’t obliged to be either use or ornament to her mother. She’s valuable just growing for herself.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Oh my. A friend is a carpenter. In his spare time he does what he calls “twig art”. Well, it’s art, yes, but it’s NOT twigs.
        He takes trees that have an unusual shape or interesting characteristics and makes furniture out of them. He thinks gnarly tree roots are the best thing since sliced bread. If the root grew around a rock even better- he likes the challenge of including that rock in the finished piece of furniture.

        Yeah, OP, this is a real life analogy that fposte has going on here. My friend takes the stuff that SOME people won’t look at twice and turns it into something that people come to a dead stop to stand and just admire.

    14. J.B.*

      I am so sorry. This pandemic is really difficult for everyone, and hits all of us who are neurodivergent or have mental health challenges in a really tough place. I hate that your mom is not accepting you for who you are and is adding to the pain. I hope that you are able to move out sooner than you think and that you can set the boundaries you need. Internet hugs.

    15. JC Books*

      One thing that helped me was that I changed my expectations. I gave up the hope that my mother would change. Instead, I was able to protect myself with boundaries. I accepted that she would never tell me she was proud of me, etc.
      What ever it was that hurt me over and over, I set a boundary. I would not put myself in a vulnerable situation with her. I stopped calling her or accepting calls from her at night. She had alcohol issues. I would only talk if she was sober.
      One of the best decisions I ever made was that I surrounded myself with people who built me up. I have a few deep friendships that grew over time.
      Friends of different ages that have taught me so much are now closer than family. Once you move, things will get better and better!
      I am so glad that you reached out to this supportive community. You are not alone!!

    16. Wishing You Well*

      Although it’s not possible right now, your mental health will improve greatly the more distance you put between you and your mother. It’ll hurt and you’ll grieve but you’ll feel much better with little or no contact. Believe me, I’ve lived it. Her voice is a bad trigger.
      Until you can move out, I recommend you “grey rock” your mother, communicate as little as possible. Also, find a therapist out of earshot from your mother. Phone therapy sessions are a thing now. There are mental health phone lines available.
      I am so sorry you’re going through this. It can get better. Big internet hugs.

    17. Hugs to you*

      This sounds very hard. I’m sorry you are dealing with this.

      You are not damaged! In no way. Mom obviously has a lot of weird stuff swirling around in her head, and this viewpoint she expressed is no more true than any of the conspiracy theories she believes in.

      BTW, I have a close family member on the spectrum. He is absolutely fantastic. One of the most loving, caring people I have ever met. He is also smart, charming (not in a smarmy way), and has the biggest heart (I guess I said that already). Is he different from me? Yes. Is he more “damaged” than I am? Absolutely not! Just different. As I am different from other people too. That doesn’t make ANY of us damaged.

      You are a worthy human.

    18. Natalie*

      I can’t tell if you already have this, but if you don’t, I think you might really enjoy and benefit from a community of other autistic adults. I’m not sure what might be available in real life in your area but there are definitely many such communities online. If you can find semi-local folks, they may have recommendations for competent and affirming therapists and other resources.

      My mother sounds very similar to yours, including being incredibly harsh and judgmental about a fundamental truth of my existence, and I am no longer in contact with her. So I also want to mention that its okay to decide that you are going to get yourself somewhere safe and no longer provide her with this assistance. You are not obligated to do this for her just because you’re her kid, or you don’t know who would do it for her otherwise. She is capable of figuring out how to get her needs met, and she is also capable of not being shitty to someone she relies on to get her needs met.

    19. Chilipepper*

      More love and props to you from another internet stranger! My mom has gone down the rabbit hole but not as far as yours and I live far away from her and I still struggle with the damage she does and her voice in my head. It does get better when you are away!

      Others gave great advice, I just want to say two things.
      1. That it is ok to not like your mom. I once said that to a coworker who practically cried – she said she did not need my permission but that it was such a comfort to hear it. So from this internet stranger, you have permission to not like or respect your mom and I hope you find comfort too – you deserve it!
      2. Once someone told me that we can “honor thy mother and father” by thanking them for giving us life. That’s all. Somehow that has comforted me, I don’t have to like her, and when I feel the most frustrated, I just think, thanks for giving me life and I let the rest go. I am not sure if that makes sense but it helps me manage my own thoughts so I am offering it.

      I am married to someone on the spectrum. He is lovely and unique and is not “damaged.” I love the tree analogy someone made – none of us are perfect!

      And I don’t know if anyone has seen Hannah Gadsby shows Nanette and Douglas but I love them and how she addresses some of these feelings of being damaged. I rewatch them and am so moved every time.

    20. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I am so sorry you’re going through this. I have a terrible mother too and it can be a very lonely and horrible experience, the entire world can tell you you’re amazing but if your mother thinks you’re damaged (in my case “raised wrong”)…it’s hard to come back from that.

      I pray hard that you can eventually find independence and break free from her sooner than later.

    21. KeinName*

      I am so sorry. I would be furious – angry – totally enraged if any aspect of my life would be used by a person *my mother no less* to get attention on the internet.
      I think it does not need to mean that she thinks you are damaged – she probably just wanted to pretend to have some dramatic personal experience to prove these shit theories in these spaces that are her communities.
      It‘s not nice, but somehow so many people are attracted by these communities, it‘s so scary…

      1. Pippa K*

        Completely agree – the overwrought language and the public forum suggest that OP’s mother is being a little performative about her imagined personal connection to the (false) antivaxx claims. But she’ll probably also get enough validation from that community that it *will* shape her view of her child. Layers of horribleness here.

      2. Lonely Aussie*

        I think the public posting is what’s pretty upsetting to me. Like this was one comment I saw. How many others has she made in private groups? How much of my private medical info is spread across the internet? Posted by her for sympathy for all the stuff she’s had to deal with in raising me.
        How many of our mutual family and friends saw it and connected the dots? I’m insanely private about who I share that info with.
        The impression that I get from her is that she does believe I’m damaged. There’s this look she gets on her face, I call it her “oh Lonely.” Look when I’ve done something that she views as particularly freakish.

        1. KeinName*

          You are right to be upset. You get to share this, no one else!
          And it is shit to be judged in this way, she should be proud to have you as a daughter and should make you feel valued!

        2. lemon meringue*

          Your mother sounds like the homophobic parent of an LGBT kid. She’s just letting her bigotry get in the way of having a relationship with the wonderful kid she does have. I’m sorry.

          I bet you’ll feel a million pounds lighter when you’re finally able to live independently of her. It’s an extremely suffocating feeling to always be around someone who you know is judging you just for being yourself, and it’s easy to find yourself gradually making yourself smaller to appease them. Best of luck to you.

    22. Moocow Cat*

      Gosh, I’m so sorry that you’re in such a situation. As others have said, your mother is wrong and you aren’t broken. Would it help to start planning your long term escape? Yes, the world sucks and you may need to live where you are for now. Could you do things like save up a damage deposit to move later? Find a job that can sustain you on your own? Talk to a counsellor to keep your mental health good in the present? Again, you are a fantastic human who didn’t deserve to be hurt.

    23. Potatoes gonna potate*

      In some aspects, the insecurities she passed onto me have been far more damaging to me than any autism.

      Amazing isn’t it? so, I have a toxic, awful mother as well. Took my father dying to realize that. In my case, the insecurity was…my weight and not being smart enough. I was made to constantly feel not worth being loved or living a “normal” life because I was too big. I can ask myself “what if” I hadn’t had such a low level of self esteem due to these two insecurities…but that’s a rabbit hole not worth going down.

      I’m not going to lie, it’s terrifying now as a mother myself. Everyone says I know what NOT to do but I don’t think generational trauma ends there.

      If you’re on Fb, there are groups for daughters of narc mothers, or toxic mothers etc. At the very least, it’ll make you feel like you’re not alone. I know how lonely it can be, ppl are supposed to love and cherish their mothers. It’s a strange feeling when you don’t.

    24. Otter Dance*

      I have no constructive advice, only sympathy to offer.
      Sounds as though you have your head on a lot straighter than she does.

    25. Yennefer of Vengerberg*

      I went through something very very similar with my own mother. Many years ago, while I was studying and living with her, she said something very similar to me. I’m not on the spectrum, but she basically said I was a fundamentally bad person with no redeeming qualities. And ya, it stung. It stung a lot. I remember fighting back tears for days after. The realization that my own mother didn’t actually like me was a hard pill to swallow.

      I lived with her for another few years after that and then continued the relationship after moving out. More recently, I decided to cut off contact with her. That conversation we had all those years ago was a not insignificant part of it.

      The thing that helped me get through it: time and redefining what the relationship was and could be. A few days later it didn’t sting so much, but the relationship basically also died at that point. Everyone wants a loving mother, but we don’t all get one. Instead of forcing something that’s not there, focus instead on your own mental health and building your chosen family. There are people out there who will love you and treat you well. Invest time in them, not in the person who’s too self involved to care about how her actions affect the person she chose to bring into this world.

    26. Princess Deviant*

      Meredith Miller on YouTube talks about living with narcissistic parents and how to cope with that, some things might be helpful there and you might be able to apply them to your situation.

    27. PT*

      I’m so sorry!

      I was reading this article (link in following comment) about a support group for people whose families have gone off the deep end with this trash. It is destroying relationships left and right. It’s terrible.

    28. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Hello from another with family on the spectrum. My cousin is not damaged — and I believe you are not either.
      I have no advise better than what is going, but I wanted you to hear another voice of support.

    29. Anon for this*

      I am also the mom of a son with autism – sending mom hugs to you as well. Vaccines do not cause autism – and you are not damaged. If she can’t see how wonderful you are, that’s on her. And she’s paid the price by deciding to be hateful. Her behavior is her choice.

      Agree with everything Alison said about taking care of yourself. Are there public resources available to you? Your local or state government may be able to help with housing support (though there are often waiting lists.) If you don’t know where to start, you could contact your high school or elected official.

      I am very sorry about your mother – ansd hope you succeed in rising above her.

    30. Dream Jobbed*

      A few years ago I was fortunate enough to see Temple Grandin speak. She is on the spectrum and that asset has allowed her to redesign slaughter houses so the animals being killed for me suffer much less. Amazing story and I hope you can learn more about her (there is a movie!) and what she has contributed to the world if you don’t know already.

      One of the things she said that was such an aha moment for me – she was talking about the earthquake and flooding of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Her thesis is that if a segment of planners had been autistic the plant would not have been built. They would have seen the inherent problem with building the plant underground because they see the world differently. (One more argument for diversity.) She saw problems immediately, but unfortunately after the fact.

      So you are not damaged, you are simply different from the “norms” of our society. And those differences may play a part in improving the world (for animals and people), or may even save the world.

  9. BellaDiva*

    We had to say goodbye to our almost 13-year old girl on Thursday. From dropping her off for a consultation with a specialist, to getting the phone call, to final goodbye was 2.5 hours. She had a hemangiosarcoma. Very common in German Shepherds, but we were not expecting this.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      I am so sorry for your loss. My very first dog was a German Shepherd who also lived to 13. They are fabulous dogs.

    2. Grim*

      Sorry for your loss and feel your sadness and pain. Just lost our cat buddy of 13 years 5 days ago and called lap of love to help with his passing.

      It was much easier to say goodbye to him in our home compared to previous passings at the vet and I highly recommend them. They came within 4 hours of my call; called our vet first and their first available appointment was mid March.

      Your pain and sadness will remain, but the intensity will fade with time.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I keep thinking about this. It’s never long enough. Our sweet pup is at least 9 years old, we’ll never know exactly how old, and because he’s a small breed we kind of assumed we’d have plenty of time. But he’s definitely aging and thinking about saying goodbye just breaks my heart. We have no reason to believe it will be soon but you just never know.

        BellaDiva, my thoughts are with you, I’m so sorry.

    3. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      I’m so sorry – I now how much it hurts. We had to say goodbye to our doggo on December 21. We knew it was coming, but dang it hurt. <3 <3

    4. Missouri Girl in Louisiana*

      I am so very sorry. There’s a poem by a guy named Ben Hur Lampman and the last line: “The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.” The entire poem is lovely and a friend sent it to me when I lost my boxer (who was my agility/obedience dog in 1998). It has always been with me-through everything. Lots of hugs to you.

    5. HamlindigoBlue*

      I am sorry. I know how devastating it is to lose a beloved pet suddenly. We suddenly lost our Dobe a little over two years ago when he was about 11 years old. Their time with us is never long enough.

    6. Lizzo*

      I am so very sorry. We had a dog with the same type of cancer. It was awful.

      May memories of happier, healthier times comfort you during these dark days. Sending light and love to you and all who knew your shepherd.

    7. Dream Jobbed*

      I am so sorry. Please try to remember you gave her a wonderful life and her life was rich and full because of you.

  10. aarti*

    What forms of entertainment do you subscribe to? It seems like between TV/movies, music, podcasts, news, etc., you could potentially spend a lot of money every month! So I’m curious what people subscribe to and how they make the decision. This came up because my sister is trying to decide whether on not to subscribe to Slate Plus (at $60 a year). I like Dear Prudence and used to read their columns back when it was free but it is not worth that much to me!

    Last year during the stay at home orders, I bought a Savage Love subscription (I’ve read Dan Savage since college) and have really enjoyed listening to his podcasts. Episodes are long, usually about an hour and twenty minutes, and it costs $36 a year. Most of my other go-to podcasts are free or donation based (like NPR).

    I’ve been toying with the idea of a NYT web subscription also but haven’t bought it yet.

    1. Asenath*

      Two streaming services, a very small number of carefully selected magazines (online mostly), two sites that I suppose could be classed as “hobby”, broadly speaking, and a couple related sites. I limit what I pay for very strictly – I know how these small monthly fees add up, and how easy it is to simply not use something I’m paying for when I’m distracted for some months (or longer!) by something else. I recently cancelled a streaming service because I wasn’t using it at all.

    2. RussianInTexas*

      Household: five streaming services, although Prime was subscribed to for shipping, outside of couple of shoes I don’t find watching their content much. Can always find something to watch on Hulu, Netflix, HBO max, Disney Plus (big Star Wars nerds live in this house). No cable or even a digital antenna. Once in a while we pick up something like Starz or CBS streaming if there is a particular show we would like to binge, like a season of American Gods, and drop the service once finish the season.
      My personal, partner does not: Slate Plus, I use their comment system extensively and would rather subscribe than disable the ad-block.
      Spotify, since it’s not particularly expensive, and I can take it to an any modern car with me.
      WaPo, NYT, New York magazine, all online subscriptions. Motor Trend magazine, in paper form.
      Managed to get all magazines and newspapers on various holiday sales.

    3. Me*

      Hulu, Amazon prime and Netflix. One of my kids pays for Disney Plus so I use his log in for that. (Both my kids use my log ins). I have all but Amazon prime because I indulge my kids (college age). But I use them all, so there’s that.

      I have one print magazine subscription (foreign affairs) and Dh has one as well (a bicycling one).

      I may pony up for NYT, because I really should.

      I do pay for Spotify for my kids. Dh uses Sirius too.

      Once they graduate and go off on their own, I’m going to have to reevaluate some of these streaming services because now that I list them out, I apparently pay for a ton of them.

    4. Kate Daniels*

      For books, I subscribe to Kindle Unlimited and Audible (though my library gets the most use!) For music, I usually like to just buy the songs I like, so I don’t have Spotify or Apple Music. For movies and shows, I currently have one-year free access to Apple+ (the only show I like on that is Ted Lasso—I LOVE IT), and then I share a Netflix and Disney+/ESPN+ account with family (we don’t live together). For newspapers, I have NYT and WSJ accounts for free through work.

    5. puffle*

      At the moment I subscribe to Netflix and Spotify. For me the decision boils down to: a) how much will I use it? b) can I cancel/ pause my subscription easily if I’m not using it as much? c) how much of the content is actually of interest to me? d) can I get the same/ similar content for free? (Ie through my local library, or a free version with ads)

      I don’t generally pay for podcast subscriptions because I can get so many great free podcasts with minimal adverts. I do pay for Spotify because I find the constant adverts on YouTube/ the free version of Spotify/ etc so annoying, and I listen to music for several hours a day. Often I listen when I’m studying etc so adverts are really distracting/ irritating.

      I don’t like services like Amazon Prime streaming where even if I pay money to subscribe, I still can’t access all the content as part of that subscription, I.e. I still have to pay for some shows. I just… don’t see the point in subscribing? Whereas on Netflix I pay one monthly fee and can access all of their content- and it’s a big library too.

      Ultimately it does also come down to cost- if a subscription is really expensive I just can’t justify paying that amount for just one thing. My cut off is probably £10 a month.

    6. L*

      Disney+ and Viaplay (streaming). I borrow my brother’s Netflix. Though I hardly use them, I’m thinking of dropping one or more. Spotify, but only because it was an extra feature in my phone plan and I could get it cheaper. My brother pays for YouTube to avoid ads and though I use YouTube a lot as well, I don’t want to spend the extra money.

      I actually didn’t know you had to pay for some podcasts. I don’t spend money on reading suscriptions – there is so much free stuff avaible I have more than enough to spend my time on.

    7. Julia*

      Netflix, Amazon Prime (which we got for shipping and will cancel when we move), and Nintento Online. That’s it. I tend to listen to the same music a lot, so I’ll just buy the few albums I liked on Prime or go back to my old stuff.

    8. CTT*

      – Reading: WaPo (digital), New Yorker (print) and Real Simple (print).
      – Music: Spotify, which is the one on this list that is the most expendable, but I’ve yet to pull that trigger.
      – Streaming: Prime (but partially for the shipping and photo storage), Netflix, Apple TV + (still in my free year after getting an iPad). I got my nephew a Peacock Premium subscription so he could watch Premier League games so I have access to that. And my parents made an account for me on Disney+.
      – Exercise: obé.

      1. CTT*

        I was looking at other people’s answers and realized I completely forgot cable! I still like it for live sports (although with NBCSN shutting down I’ll be interested to see how that impacts where Premier League airs) and honestly, I get tired of endlessly scrolling through Netflix and having to make a choice. Being able to turn on the tv and see that a sitcom rerun I like started two minutes ago and during commercials I can flip to House Hunters or a movie I’ve seen a million times is just so relaxing.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Paid for out of household funds: Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Disney+.

      Paid for by one of us individually but shared to anyone on common-area devices: I pay for PBS streaming, husband pays for CuriosityStream, housemate pays for HBO Max. I also have a a couple of workout apps on the Apple TV, one currently paid for and two on free trials for another few weeks, that anybody could use though nobody else actually does.

      Individual: I have an Apple Music account, I think the boys use Spotify. I have digital subscriptions to The Atlantic, WaPo, and Vanity Fair, which I may or may not keep long term. I think housemate does CrunchyRoll, and he and I each have separate Audible accounts (though I have a spare Kindle in my living room if anybody else wants to “borrow” one of my ebooks or audiobooks; my husband has done once or twice.)

    10. twocents*

      Reading: Game Informer and Washington Post (mostly for Carolyn Hax)

      And… That’s it right now. I’ve been thinking of getting Disney+ because I’m interested in watching Wandavision and the Mandalorian but idk if I’m convinced yet.

    11. Jay*

      We do spend a lot of money. Worth it to us. Streaming: Hulu, Netflix, SlingTV, MLB Premium for baseball games and radio broadcasts on their app, Amazon Prime, PBS through donations to our local station, Disney+ (our kid did that without telling us but we’d been paying for Marvel movies so we kept it), HBO Max, ESPNGo, CBS All Access (Star Trek and McGyver, and we pay for the no-ads version), and Discovery+, also the no-ads version. And all of that is STILL cheaper than the cable package that would have gotten us HBO and the MLB network, and we would have to put up with ads and pay for a separate service for our kid, who is now in college elsewhere.

      Online reading: NYT – also Fri/Sat/Sun on paper, crosswords, cooking. Slate Plus. WaPo. The New Yorker. New York Magazine. Had an LA Times subscription for a while and never read it, so I dropped that one.

      Actual paper: hubs gets two model railroading magazines. Cooks Illustrated. Mother Jones. Dissent.

    12. ThatGirl*

      Ooh, probably more than I realize.
      We have cable, bundled with internet.
      Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime (more for the shipping but they do have good movie selection)
      I have SiriusXM in my car but it’s an annual gift from my inlaws
      Husband has PlayStation Plus
      Occasionally Spotify when they have the 3-month specials
      Hmm….might be it? We’ve thought about Hulu or other streaming occasionally but I hate that there are like 20 different services… they’re just reinventing cable!

    13. Medievalist*

      I subscribe to two newspapers digitally: the city paper from where I grew up/still have family + the city paper from where I live now. Otherwise I use free news/audio services like NPR and BBC and their podcasts. (I do donate to NPR, to support that content.)

      Streaming, though, is a rotating basis: I try to only have two services at a time—so circulate through Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney+ on a roughly 2-3 month basis, suspending service for a few months at a time in between. The rotation is to keep monthly costs down; admittedly, I don’t mind being a couple months late to the latest season of whatever, so I just exhaust each platform in turn, rather than ever get stuck feeling like there’s nothing to watch.

    14. fposte*

      Washington Post and then I went nuts on the streaming last year. Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Disney, Apple+ I think came free, HBO Max, Acorn (a gift), and NextUp, a streaming service of British standup comedy. I may start to regularize this year if I get a chance, but it was one of my allowable pandemic splurges.

      I will probably upgrade to paid music streaming sometime this year, but I haven’t gotten around to that.

    15. Queer Earthling*

      Prime, although for the shipping as much as for the shows
      CBS All Access for Star Treks

      I was subscribed to Slate for a bit, but it wasn’t really worth it to me.

      Have you considered subscribing to the patreon of a single creator you like? You often get bonus content etc, you don’t spend much money (many have $1 tiers), and sometimes it can help them buy groceries or whatever.

    16. Paris Geller*

      Spotify: $9.99 a month, but I usually ask for a gift card for Christmas since my family never knows what to get me, and I normally get 10 months out of that. I love music & use my Spotify unlimited all the time, so this is the one I never unsubscribe too, even when I don’t have a gift card.
      Movies & TV: Subscribe to Netflix $8.99 & Hulu ($5.99), and my dad has a family Amazon Prime account he lets me use. My boyfriend also has a Disney+ subscription that we sometimes watch things on.
      Books: Not sure if this technically counts since it’s physical instead of electronic, but Book of the Month for $14.99, though I almost always get add-ons ($9.99). Which, side note, for any other BoTM subscriber–is it just me or do you always want either ALL the books or none of the books?

      I try to be picky with my streaming services because it’s true that they can really add up! I use Spotify & Netflix almost daily. Hulu I use less often, but still enough to make it worth it to me. I can see myself eventually cancelling Book of the Month, though right now I’m still enjoying it and it’s worth it to me to get new reads for cheap, and I feel I can often get some of my money back if I don’t want to keep a book by selling or trading it after I’ve read it.

      I like a lot of Amazon Prime content (Good Omens was fantastic, and my boyfriend and I really liked Uploaded!). There are a lot of HBO shows I’m interested in, so I could see myself subscribing for awhile and then cancelling, but right now I’ve just been trying to wait and get DVDs from the library.

    17. Texan In Exile*

      We get the Washington Post, the NYTimes, and our local paper (Milwaukee JS).

      A friend did give us their netflix PW, which is nice, but I think I have exhausted what I want to watch on there (Taco Chronicles, Someone Feed Phil, La Casa de las Flores, Friends from College). I have gone through recommendations and tried some other shows, but nothing else really grabs me.

      We don’t subscribe to anything else – I get all my books and DVDs at the library. Even when we were both employed, we didn’t subscribe to things – we used our money to travel. Oh Before Times.

    18. JustEm*

      I subscribe to Washington Post and NYT online for my news (purchased during sales, so not super expensive). I used to be a Slate plus subscriber but canceled when they switched to the new prudence columnist (who isn’t so new anymore!) and just read my free articles. For streaming, we have Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. We do not do cable TV.

    19. KittyCardigans*

      When I tally it up, I’m surprised by how many subscriptions I use that I didn’t get through conventional subscriberships. We subscribe to Amazon Prime (paid in one lump sum yearly and bought for shipping perks, but I do like Good Omens & Mrs. Maisel) and one of Hulu’s tiers that still has ads. Netflix is a gift from my brother every year, Spotify comes with the phone package, HBO Max comes with the internet package. I did separately purchase Disney+ when they were running a promo for 3 years for $200, which has worked out to be a pretty good deal considering how much we’ve used it so far. I have access to NYT, WSJ, and lots of print magazines through work. I only have one personal print subscription these days, and it’s a state-based magazine and probably the subscription I take least for granted.

      I’m constantly tempted by subscription boxes (novelties and pretty themed fandom stuff and pretty packaging!!), but that monthly output is usually too much for me to justify.

    20. HBJ*

      Honestly? None.

      I read several local/localish news sites, and most of those are free. One that isn’t, I can access for free through my local library.

      If we want to watch movies or tv shows, we rent it as a one-off on Amazon or wherever or borrow from the library. We watch very little. We briefly had the DVD Netflix service, but they started taking longer and longer to arrive, and we weren’t getting our money’s worth anymore. We don’t have cable. The more these streaming services splinter, the less likely we are to pay for them.

      I live in Alaska, and Amazon Prime is not worth it. They do not do 2-day shipping. I can get free shipping in the same amount of time just by spending over $25. We don’t order from them often anyway and can wait until we need at least that amount of stuff. The last time we had Prime, they hadn’t even shipped the item, it hadn’t even left the warehouse!, by the end of the window in which we were supposed receive it! Also, Amazon tends to only have the best deal on one-off items. Staples, like diapers, for example, I can buy cheaper at my local store.

      I listen to a few podcasts, and if they have Patreon-exclusive content, I just don’t listen to that stuff. Of the podcasts I listen to, for most I wouldn’t be interested in their Patreon content anyway. Two specifically say they talk about more personal stuff – like q and a’s and their relationships and their hobbies – which I’m not at all interested in. I listen to a podcast for their content about Specific Hobby/Game/Sport/Etc, and I couldn’t care less about the hosts’ personal lives.

      The only thing we’ve considered paying for is a premium music service, such as Spotify, but so far, we haven’t.

      And for the record, we are relatively young. We’re millennials.

      1. HBJ*

        Oh, I used to have a magazine subscription, but their content got less and less relevant to me, so I dropped it.

    21. SunnySideUp*

      If you can’t snag the NYT for $4/4 weeks, sign up for a limited period and then ask to cancel. They will eventually offer you the $4 deal.

    22. Dan*

      For me: Netflix, Amazon Prime, a somewhat obscure streaming service, The Washington Post, and America’s Test Kitchen. (I do listen to lots of podcasts, but don’t pay for anything.)

      I can’t tell how much your question is trying to focus on subscriptions themselves, or entertainment in general. (Because I don’t consider the newspaper entertainment.)

      TBH, I try to only pay for what I use (and value). I don’t watch much TV, so I can’t justify streaming subscriptions above and beyond Amazon Prime and Netflix. Music wise, the service I use I originally got “free with ads”, but I have premium hardware, and they stopped allowing free streaming to the hardware. I actually really liked what they do, so I paid. Recently, I tried rotating through other services, but went back to the obscure service. They had a deal where if I prepaid for two years, it would only cost $3/mo. Ok!

    23. BunnyWatsonToo*

      Streaming: Prime, Netflix, Frndly, Hulu (1.99 a mo. special price, but thinking of dropping – rarely use it), PBS (through donation to local station). I dropped cable in December.
      Digital newspapers: Washington Post, NYT (+ NYT games subscription for the crosswords). My local paper in print.

    24. Voluptuousfire*

      Prime, Netflix (although I’m thinking of dropping it because I rarely use it but it’s cheap), Hulu.

      On Prime, I subscribe to Strand Releasing (an independent film company that streams it own films)and a few others I can’t remember.

      Spotify for podcasts and music. I also subscribe to Dan Savage for Savage Love but don’t really listen much since I don’t think I can listen to the magnum version on my Echo.

    25. Oxford Comma*

      It’s mushroomed since the pandemic, but I live alone and am not in a pod. I have a budget and I’m careful not to go over it. Also, movies are really important to me.

      I cut the cable cord years ago. Even with multiple streaming services, I still pay less. The regular ones are: Hulu, Criterion Channel (awesome for old movies), Netflix and CBS All Access. Two of those are split with other people. There are a lot of free services out there too. It just kind of depends on what you watch and if you’re willing to tolerate commercials.

      I will also occasionally subscribe to a service for a month or two. Right now I have DisneyPlus and HBO Max, but they get canceled at the end of March. (I just set a tickler on my calendar to do that). I usually use Letterboxd to decide if I want to subscribe to a service for a short period of time.

      Newspapers (digital): WAPO and NYT
      Podcasts: I don’t pay for them. I will sit through the ads if I have to.

      I use the public library for everything else including ebooks and audio books.

    26. KR*

      Spotify Duo, Hulu (not the live TV one), Netflix, and Amazon Prime (just prime none of the services you can rent within prime). I’m starting to think it’s time for Netflix or Amazon Prime to go but I’m not sure I can justify the savings on shipping. I’ve been curious about other subscriptions but I’m so bitter about how many subscriptions there are out there and how much Netflix has gone downhill so I haven’t made any major changes yet

    27. allathian*

      We aren’t in the US so we probably have a more limited availability.
      Family subscriptions: Spotify, Discovery+, Disney+, HBO Nordic (should convert to HBO Max sometime this year). We also watch our tax-funded public broadcaster’s free and ad-free streaming service pretty regularly.

      We also have an online-only family subscription to a national newspaper.

      My husband has a tech magazine subscription and I have a popular science magazine subscription. Our son has a weekly newspaper for kids, but he doesn’t read it much so we’ll probably cancel it soon.

    28. Marion Ravenwood*

      I have Netflix, Amazon Prime (mostly for shipping rather than TV though), Disney+ and Spotify, plus spend about £25 a month across five different Patreons (three writers, a podcaster and a music website). In all it probably adds up to about £50 a month, which feels like a lot but I use them all regularly so for me it’s worth it. I did also recently cancel my Medium subscription and a couple of Patreons, and I felt guilty about the latter, but in all honesty I wasn’t using the content and it was an area where I could easily save money at a time when I needed to do so. I should also add I’m not in the US.

    29. Flabbernabbit*

      Our library is a subscriber to online platform Libby and now I spend much less time on the Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions I have. We get e-books, magazines and audiobooks that way. You can read Prudence in private mode. I have a subscription to Washington Post but otherwise get news from CBC, BBC, Aljazeera.

    30. Amethystmoon*

      I am an Amazon Prime member and take advantage of it. I also have Kindle Unlimited. The various other platforms, I subscribe to when they have things I watch, and stop paying when those things are over. Think Star Trek Discovery, Outlander, etc.

    31. Cedrus Libani*

      I decided back in 2016 that I was going to buy some newspaper subscriptions, rather than mooch articles for free, as a way of making sure journalism continues to happen. I pay for my local papers and a few national ones that regularly publish stuff I want to read (Washington Post, etc).

      Similarly, my partner and I both have a decent-sized Patreon bill, because we’ve signed up for additional content from artists we want to support.

      We don’t watch a huge amount of TV / movies, but we do watch some. Our strategy is to pay for one premium service (Netflix, HBO, etc) for a few months at a time, catch up on whatever exclusive content we’d like to see, then drop it and move on to the next one.

      My partner loves baseball, so he gets an all-access pass for the season. I love the Olympics, so I sign up for whatever I have to do to watch it. Those are the only sports we care about, fortunately.

      For music, we have Spotify. I’m also pretty big on YouTube for ambient / background, so I’m paying for ad-free right now…gonna blame that and the avocado toast when I’m still renting in 2040.

  11. The Other Dawn*

    Has anyone here tried Home Chef?

    I just got something in the mail for them and they’re offering a discount since I’m an AAA member. They have a range of meals: meal kits (like Blue Apron and others), quick prep meals (15 minutes to make), oven-ready meals, and salads. I like that they have a range of meal prep options, but their overall menu seems pretty limited, especially if you don’t want the meal kits. I may try it for a few weeks since it’s discounted, but I’m not sure it’s something I’d do long-term. Plus it just seems like a lot of money to spend every week, though the idea of convenience and not having to plan is appealing.

    1. Asenath*

      I tried a similar service. The food was good, the recipes simple. They weren’t cheap, and I realized very quickly that when I want fast easy food, I want it cooked! It’s the cooking I find more tedious than the shopping for ingredients or using/finding recipes. So it wasn’t for me.

      1. Chriama*

        I agree that when I want easy food I want it cooked! So I’ve done a couple of meal delivery services . The cost per meal is pretty much the same price whether I have to prep it or just reheat it, and overall I quite like them and wish there were more options.

    2. Michelle*

      With many of these meal kit services, including Home Chef, Blue Apron, and Hello Fresh, they provide their recipes online. (Usually, you just click on the menu item and it will open a page with the recipe and most times, a printable link as well.) A few of the recipes use unique ingredients, which can make them hard to replicate, but sometimes there are reasonable substitutions. I like that Blue Apron allows customer feedback to be public, so that you can see how other people have altered the recipes. The only real advantage to subscribing to a meal service, is if you don’t have the time or inclination to shop for groceries and want to just open your fridge door and have everything there. The prep work is what takes a lot of the time in cooking, and the meal services still expect you to do a lot of the washing and chopping. I would say, that if you just don’t want to menu plan, that you browse some of the sites, including Home Chef, and print out a few recipes to try, using groceries you have purchased. That way, you get a feel for whether you like the style of menus from a particular company, and have your menu for the week pre-planned.

      As a side note, one of the items that I have found useful when using recipes from meal prep sites, is a kitchen scale. I picked up the Escali Primo P115C Precision Kitchen Food Scale, which has served me well. The prep recipes seem to rely heavily on weight measurements for some things (especially meats and cheeses), and being a little over or under on an ingredient can potentially affect the end result. Their recipes are created using very specific amounts of an ingredient, since they are watching their pennies, so I try to make them as written the first time around and then see if adding extra shrimp the next time, or reducing the amount of Calabrian Chile paste, is doable with good results.

    3. MCL*

      We used Martha Stewart’ kit for a while and it was fine. Expensive and lots of packaging, though. We switched to a locally owned service that partners with local farms, and I like that better. Cheaper, less packaging, locally sourced food. It’s nice to introduce some variety for us. I think it’s $42/week total for 2 meals for 2 people for the local.

    4. Corkey's wife Bonnie*

      We have been doing Home Chef for a year, we love it! You can plug in if you want low carb, and they’ll give you multiple choices. We’ve only experienced a couple of clunkers, but the rest of the meals we have enjoyed! I like the fact that you can control the sodium for the most part.

    5. HamlindigoBlue*

      Oh, this is the one where you can pick up meal kits in the grocery store! I searched their site for stores near me that have their kits, and it doesn’t look like there are any right now. Maybe you would have better luck finding a nearby grocery store and try it first?

    6. Annie Moose*

      Oof, unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of Home Chef. Their advertising was very heavy on the “no/low prep!” thing, but in actuality their menus have very few low prep options (and no actual no-prep options that I’ve been able to find–the things listed as “no prep”/”oven ready” still have you microwaving this and mixing up that). I’ve done a couple of weeks because I had a discount code, but I think I’ll be canceling after this because it just wasn’t what their advertising promised. (Also–and this is probably just bad timing, but it definitely did not leave a good taste in my mouth–my very first week had multiple ingredient replacements and missing ingredients. For example, the coconut curry shrimp came with multiple replacements AND YET no coconut! In their defense, they did give me a partial credit because of this.)

      I also did not like that while their meals “start” at $6.99/serving, they actually have very few at this price. I just logged in to check and the menu for the first week of March only has a single $6.99/serving option. Most of them are actually $8.99.

      On the flip side, I’ve done HelloFresh for a couple of years now and have had a much more pleasant experience! They have loads of meal options at the base price (22 for next week) and I honestly can’t think if I’ve ever had an ingredient replacement with them. (I have had missing/damaged ingredients a couple of times, but it’s exceptionally rare and they’re very good about refunds) It is pricy, but I love not having to plan or shop for unusual ingredients/stuff I only need a little bit of. (hate buying an entire canister of spices or whatever for a single meal!) So I’m not totally against meal kit services! Just need to know what you’re getting into.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        You’ve voiced exactly how I’m feeling about it. When I clicked on the recipe tab for the meals that are supposedly “oven ready,” there still seemed to be more prep than I thought there would be. To me, “oven ready” means exactly that: it’s all in one tray and you pop it into the oven. And I had a hard time finding the 6.99 meals. Thank you!

      2. Not Alison*

        I’ll chime in here with the opposite opinion. Having tried both Home Chef and Hello Fresh, I greatly prefer Home Chef and still order a box about once a month. We dropped Hello Fresh after the discount for the first two boxes.
        The main thing I like about Home Chef is that I don’t have to think about what to make for dinner once we’ve chosen our 3 meals for the week and we don’t need to buy a bottle of something for the sauce just to make one meal – they put just enough for that meal in the box and there is no leftovers. We’ve been doing Home Chef for 3 years now – at first we ordered a box every 2 weeks but have tailed off to once a month.
        I actually enjoy doing a bit of prep work because it makes me feel like I’m actually cooking something instead of just sticking a ready-made something in the oven (which you can doing by purchasing any dinner in the freezer section of your local grocery store).
        We did not like the way the menus are set up in Hello Fresh (steps combine instructions for various pieces of dinner that need to be done at the same time rather than each piece having its own instruction so hubs can do his piece and I can do mine). Also, we had more problems with Hello Fresh ingredients than with Home Chef. And any time we’ve ever had a problem with a Home Chef ingredient they have made it right.

    7. Loopy*

      We did it few just about a week or two and liked it well enough. I found it comparable to Hello Fresh but I’m not super picky about these types of boxes. I did like that it’s easy to cancel! My issue is that I’m a slow prepper so it’s never really a time saver in that sense, but it does help me not think about dinner planning and cuts down my shopping trips.

      My issue is that usually by week three or four I get bored with the menus as I’m vegetarian. Even with a decent selection it starts to get repetitive. You may have a longer stint without any dietary restrictions but that’s my biggest drawback is that I tend to lose any interest in the selections at around the month mark.

      I’ve also yet to find a service that’s cheaper than grocery shopping when at full price, but my budget is on the lower side for groceries! For price Every Plate is the lowest I’ve found (it’s the low tier option to Hello Fresh).

    8. GoryDetails*

      Haven’t tried Home Chef, but I did a short stint with Blue Apron a year or two back, and am currently on my second box from Hello Fresh. (I’m using the two-person/three-meals box format; for one person that’s six meals, and while it’s pricier than if I bought the ingredients directly, it’s considerably cheaper than dining out or getting takeout.) I do enjoy the “kit” concept in itself, prep and all, and I like the variety of options – that said, I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up. Hello Fresh does have the skip-delivery option, so I could keep the subscription but space it out a bit more. (I did get some Hello Fresh kits in a local Hannaford supermarket – more limited selection but an easy way to try a kit. They seem to have stopped stocking them, though.)

      I’ve found that most of the recipes include a fancy-looking but easy-to-do technique – pecan crusted trout, for example, using a panko/crushed-pecans/butter crusting that I could have made with my own pantry items, had I but known! But I do like having pre-measured stuff in the kits, and can save the recipe cards for the dishes I especially like and make them with my own ingredients in future.

      Word of warning re Hello Fresh – not sure if others do this too: they offer “gourmet” meals in among the other weekly selections, for an add-on price; the trout dish cost an extra $7 over the ordinary box. This may be worth it to you or it may not, but I admit I missed it on my first selection and had to go back and do the math to see why the total cost was more than I’d expected {wry grin}.

      I will say that Hello Fresh has less-wasteful packaging than I recall from Blue Apron (though they may have changed that). It’s still a concern, but not as bad as I’d feared.

    9. ....*

      It’s really just not good at all. One meal out of 10 was good. I would only recommend it if it’s heavily discounted and you have literally zero ability to cook at all. It’s not high quality, the sauces are weird and a lot of the dinners are close to 1,000 calories for a serving. Hard pass

  12. mreasy*

    TMI – surgery, breasts.

    Has anyone had breast reduction surgery? I had my consultation last week and already got my insurance approval, which is great, but now I actually have to decide whether to do it. I’m in moderate back/neck/breast pain most of the time, and once I thought about reduction I got very excited about it…but it feels irresponsible to get surgery that isn’t life or death necessary, I guess. Plus the healing process looks TOUGH (I have been on the subreddit). I’m a 32E/F and will be going down to a B/C, which will mean losing about 2 lbs of weight from my chest. Any insight from folks who have been through it would be so welcome! Thank you.

    1. Natalie*

      but it feels irresponsible to get surgery that isn’t life or death necessary, I guess

      Because of the pandemic, or is there some other reason?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        That’s what I’m wondering, too. I’m not sure why it’s irresponsible.

        If you’re having daily pain, it seems like a good idea to do it. A friend of mine did and she’s thrilled with the results.

        1. Natalie*

          I think some of the messaging early on around “nonessential” vs essential has been harmful, especially with regards to necessary-but-not-urgent medical care. It was one thing to ask people to forgo non emergency surgery for a short time while we were figuring out the effects on the supply chain and so forth, but it’s not necessary or particularly helpful for people forgo all non-emergency medical care for a year +.

          1. Dan*

            Yup. I have a heart condition that requires an outpatient procedure if it acts up. While I’m not at risk for cardiac arrest, stroke or anything life threatening in the short term, there are concerns about leaving it untreated in the long run. However, there are short term quality of life issues I have to deal with and I wouldn’t be happy if I was on the “pound sand” list.

            I talked to my cardiologist early on in the pandemic, and I just point blank asked him how screwed I was if this thing acted up. He told me, “With you? We need to keep this managed, so you get in right away.”

      2. mreasy*

        Oh I just mean going under anesthesia and taking the risk of surgery for something that isn’t life or death. I am in discomfort and sometimes pain but it isn’t intolerable by any means. I guess I just feel like the upside may not be worth the risk?

        1. Natalie*

          Oh, word.

          Both my husband and I have had surgery for stuff we didn’t think of as “that bad”, I had outpatient sinus and he had a pretty involved spinal fusion (8 hours on the operating table). We were both nervous about various aspects of the experience before hand but it was so, so worth it! You don’t even realize the million ways these kinds of things can be limiting you until they’re gone.

        2. Coenobita*

          Oh I know that “it’s not so bad” guilty feeling and it is not your friend! Think of all the other surgeries people get for reasons other than saving their life – I’m sure you wouldn’t tell someone else that their knee replacement or wisdom tooth extraction is irresponsible, for example. Your quality of life is valuable and you’re allowed to decide that it’s worth it! YOU’RE worth it!

    2. L6orac6*

      Please do it, everything is in place, aligned, ready to go. You got some qualms about post surgery, understandable, I believe it’s 8-10 weeks of being low-key with activities. But think of the future of what will be easier to do and what you will able wear. Do it!

    3. B*

      I don’t have reduction experience. But I went from b/c cup to d after kids (plus some weight gain)
      I just feel so limited in a number of ways. Physical activity is uncomfortable. A bra that stabilizes feels too restrictive around my rib cage.
      Quality of life is just better with smaller breasts.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      I have had it. A dear friend had before me, about 4 years earlier, and she had said her biggest question after was why she had waited. I found it was not as bad as some of my other surgeries. (I have delicate skin and mine healed well).
      Do pay attention to your nutrition and hydration. and ask for help. I did. That was difficult, but worthwhile to acknowledge and accept the help gracefully. I froze a lot of small containers of very high quality bone-broth/nutrient laced veggie-meat stews, so that I could easily heat and eat without any effort. I snacked on protein bars. I slept and did everything very compliantly. I am glad I paid close, close attention to the instructions.

    5. Anon runner*

      I was one of the people asking last week and I have signed up, my surgery is next week (private medical care being shockingly quick!). So no advice but I also feel you on the ‘is it irresponsible’ thing. I will obviously feel stupid if I manage to get covid in hospital but for me being able to work from home afterwards and only deal with other peoples reactions when I’m hopefully fully healed makes a huge difference. Good luck whatever you decide!

    6. AnonBoobs*

      I was one of the people from last weekends open thread and I’m currently scheduled for surgery March 9th, I’m equal parts anxious and excited! It sounds like you have already looked at the reduction subreddit, but if not I highly recommend it. Reddit can be a complete cesspool but I found that particular subreddit helpful. Your recovery concerns are legitimate, I’m really into exercise so I’m dreading having to take off several weeks but I truly believe it will be worth it. Can you take some time off work/school/ life to recover? It sounds like some of the horror stories are from people who tried to do too much too quickly. If you’re experiencing regular pain I think it’s likely worth it but hopefully I will have more helpful advice to offer in a few weeks!

      1. mreasy*

        Thank you! I will def take a week fully off and work remotely so may do half and half the following. Best of luck for the results you want!

  13. Me*

    Tell me your experience with refinishing teak furniture, specifically outdoor teak furniture! I think I can handle the sanding (unless there is something special about sanding teak), but I’m curious about what products you used after sanding – oil? Sealing coat?

    I scored two sets of outdoor teak furniture this week- a sofa, two lounge-ish chairs, two end tables plus a 5’ diameter round table and six dining chairs. They were a neighbor that was moving and didn’t want to move it to another state. Super heavy stuff- we couldn’t even budge the table between DH and I and we are used to moving heavy stuff.

    I was able to look up the dining chairs online and found the price of a single dining chair was equivalent to what I paid for both sets. Super thrilled to have scored them.

    But one of the loungy chairs is more weathered than the sofa or other chair and so is an end table. (The dining set doesn’t need anything done to it other than magically transporting the table to my house). I’ve just never worked with teak before so would love some refinishing tips.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve never done, so no helpful suggestions, but oh, gosh, what luck! I bet they’ll be lovely when you’re done. :)

    2. Ali G*

      That is quite a score! It will last you forever if you take care if it right. I would do some research. Maybe This Old House or similar would have good tips. Teak is one of those woods that technically doesn’t need to be finished, but some sort of protection is helpful.
      Once you’ve sanded it, you can rub some water on it. This will give you an approximation of the look if you oiled it or used a clear poly.
      If it were me, I would probably do a clear poly as it will last longer than oil, especially outdoors. We have a raw wood mantle in our home, and I have to oil it at least once a month, especially in the dryer months when we use the fireplace. A couple coats of good poly will last you a long time.

    3. jotab*

      Warning: Wear goggles, gloves and a respirator mask when sanding teakwood. Teakwood dust can irritate skin. Wear a mask recommended especially for sanding – not just what we are wearing for Covid.

      1. Me*

        Thanks! Yes, I have my own sanding mask. Not fun to wear but it saves the lungs. Looks like I’ll be up for long sleeves and gloves too.

  14. lapgiraffe*

    I am not anti mask whatsoever, and dare I say I even like the mask wearing at the store and in the winter. But I cannot wait to never ever ever please baby Jesus never again wear a mask playing tennis. The cardiovascular element is one thing – yes it’s harder to breathe, but it’s possible. What has turned out to be the harder elements is 1) impaired vision and 2) losing brain function from the decrease in oxygen. That sounds dramatic, I know, but it’s been bizarre to just completely lose skills because my mind is tapped. I feel like I’m duking it out in a third set tie break in 90+ humid full sun summer weather, but it’s been 22 minutes of rallying in a chilly warehouse. Normally I could play for an hour and a half before starting to feel like I’m on a tear of unforced errors due to mental fatigue, now I am so so so done at 45 minutes it’s embarrassing. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, or maybe that’s just me before I pass out….

      1. lapgiraffe*

        Depends on the mask, the surgical ones do slide up way too close to the bottom of my eyelids, so even though it was the best for the breathing it was the worst for staying where it should and staying out of my eyes.

        In general they all cut out some peripheral vision from below. It’s not as noticeable when you’re stationary or doing simple walking, but when running and turning your head in multiple directions and keeping your eye on a ball that goes all over the place, it’s disorienting. Best way I can think to describe is it’s like the spots from a bright flash or looking toward the sun, your eyes are trying to scan 360 degrees quickly but you just don’t have complete field of vision with a mask.

        Unique to tennis as well is needing to see balls near your feet. In match play this is not as big an issue, but in league practice and clinics doing drills there are balls everywhere. We’ve always been good to call out balls at feet for our teammates but this takes it to a new level with the mask cutting it out of our vision entirely (you’re looking forward and up but can only see these balls if you look nearly 100% downward), and we’ve had an increase in falls because of it (including a bad one myself back in November, hit the ground hard and banged up shoulder but thankfully ankle ok).

        1. L*

          I had that problem with the mask sliding up into my eyes but I figured it is because I have a small face. My solution is putting a knot in the straps close to the mask, make sure the sides are folded in and securing the straps with hair clips behind my ears. (But maybe medical tape to secure the mask under your eyes would be better for you if you don’t have a small face.)
          I don’t feel I have vision problems that way but I haven’t done sports where masking is required. My method does create a sort of bubble around your mouth so it might not give you better vision downwards but at least it won’t get up in your eyes.

          Wow, it sounds like masked tennis has turned into an extreme sport! I hope you are alright after your fall and that all of you find a solution.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      As someone who has to do a sport in a mask, I feel your pain! Here are some of my suggestions for improving things:

      -Make sure your mask fits well, but isn’t too tight. A friend of mine almost passed out once because her mask was too small. It needs to keep your breathe around you, not be a completely airtight seal.
      -If your mask is just a piece of cloth (vs an n95 that holds its shape), get a cage. They’re soft pieces of lightweight plastic that go under your mask and keep the fabric from laying on your skin. Keeping the mask from making contact with your skin has the benefit of giving you more air around your mouth and nose, which feels cooler, and then you don’t have to feel the damp mask as you breathe heavy/sweat.
      -Make sure your mask has a piece of wire to keep it fitted around your nose, it will prevent it from sliding up and blocking your vision.
      -If you wear glasses, use a bandaid/medical tape to secure the mask to your nose. This keeps your breathe from going upward and fogging your glasses. It’s also a way to keep your mask in place whether you wear glasses or not.
      -Bring multiple masks and swap them out frequently. You’re breathing heavily, and your mask can get hot and damp really quickly, which just feels gross. A fresh mask is a great pick me up, and that split second in between old mask and new feels amazing.

      Hope this helps! I totally get it, exercise in a mask totally sucks, I try and think of how conditioned I’ll be when we don’t need to wear them and can get full free air!

      1. 653-CXK*

        I bought some plastic cages for my masks after the masks decided to block my breathing. The only drawback is that the plastic gets damp fairly quickly, so I recommend having some Kleenex handy for a quick wipedown.

        I do have medical tape and wear glasses – I’ll use that suggestion because my glasses fog up all the time!

        1. 653-CXK*


          I do have medical tape and wear glasses – I’ll use that suggestion when I wear a mask because my glasses fog up all the time!

      2. MissCoco*

        I love using paper medical tape (paper is waay less painful to remove than cloth tape) – the thicker types are easier and stay longer) even without glasses to keep my mask from sliding up towards my eye. Still impedes lower peripheral vision, but a lot less, and less movement = less touching of mask

        But I have to agree, I cannot wait to take my first run without a mask on!

      3. lapgiraffe*

        I have never heard of these cages, I’ll have to check them out. And I definitely agree that a fresh mask is quite the pick me up. On the flip, one day I forgot a spare and after playing had to run an errand. By the time I got to my destination the damp mask is now a cold damp mask….ick ick ick. Do not recommend.

        Thanks for all the suggestions!

    2. Old and Don’t Care*

      The mask makes me 100 x more likely to trip going down stairs…I can’t imagine playing tennis in one. Good for you!

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yeah, I lose my lower vision as well. I tripped and almost fell on the icy sidewalk yesterday. I hate the mask but I just need to be more careful when I am wearing it.

    3. Grey Barrier Reef*

      There is very clear and recent evidence (including in the Annals of American Thoracic Society which the one of the most recognized sources of evidence based chest medicine) that there is NO drop in oxygen levels or rebreathing of CO2 when exercising with a mask. This includes patients with significant lung disease (COPD in the study i read recently). It’s misleading to perpetuate these myths about masking. What you most likely sense is the “increased work of breathing”. It harder to move air through the material and that translates in your brain to “not getting enough” and that in and of itself may be just enough of a stressor to turn your focus to the mask and sensations (hence the fog)

      Perpetuating myths about masking is dangerous for us all. We require masks for all in my workplace, even those awaiting lung transplant for whom every day is exertion. Your oxygen levels are fine. If you truly believe they are not, you need to be evaluated for underlying severe lung disease. Note; I am a medical professional in this area .

      1. The teapots are on fire*

        Okay, sure, the lit review in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society didn’t find hypoxia, but they certainly noted dyspnea, which is unpleasant and can throw off your tennis game, and the reduction in peripheral perception is real and annoying and can, as the poster noted, cause falls. As someone who cannot really play ball sports because my perception is a little off, I want to be a little more sympathetic to the subjective experience here. That feeling of disorientation is miserable, even though it’s not likely hypoxia is causing it.
        I don’t think anyone is saying let’s all stop wearing masks, but it’s absolutely reasonable to look forward to the day when we don’t have to.

        1. Grey Barrier Reef*

          The issue is that hypoxia and dyspnea are not synonymous – and it’s a serious misconception. The poster stated “losing brain function from the decrease in oxygen”. This community seems pretty intent on addressing myths and misconceptions related to COVID-19, and no one had yet addressed this significant (but common) misconception. The poster weren’t trying to be misleading, but they were incorrect based on the evidence to date.

          I, too, have mask dyspnea and it limits my aerobic activities. Some of my patients with refractory dyspnea so I am incredibly sensitive to the “feeling”. But it is a sensation. Which is why my treatment options include opioids (when severe) and other methods that interrupt the sensation (like fans). We don’t treat dyspnea with oxygen. Okay, yes, sometimes we permit palliative oxygen but I’ve observed that the alleviation of the dyspnea is correlated with the correction of hypoxemia.

          Our multidisciplinary team looked carefully into the literature when masking mandates started, and we are confident that all patients (even those with significant hypoxemia) should wear masks and that those with hypoxemia on exertion should wear masks during that exertion without fear. Our pre transplant patients included.

          Reinforcing the myth that masking results in hypoxia is dangerous. I fight it at least weekly. It is the same as stating that the flu vaccine gives people the flu – it can scare off those who actually need (and benefit the most from) vaccination efforts.

          All that said, people can get oximeters (I sometimes prescribe them) and that can help reassure some. Sometimes it backfires, but that’s where collaboration with patients comes into play about how and when to use that tool, and how to interpret results and respond in a way that reduces anxiety.

      2. Reba*

        I’ve noticed that a lot of folks use “oxygen” or “oxygen level” colloquially when they mean “air” or “breath.” (yes, some people have oximeters but I’m talking about like, walking up a steep hill and saying, “whew, I can’t get enough oxygen!”) Contributing to the confusion in communication about masks and their effects or non-effects!

        1. lapgiraffe*

          Thank you. I didn’t even realize that I did this until my comment was taken literally when it was not meant as such.

          1. Reba*

            Yeah, I thought that’s what was happening. It definitely does not feel good to have to work hard to breathe!

      3. Girasol*

        I read about how masks don’t reduce oxygen and tried to square that with the way I feel wearing one when exercising. I think my problem is that I feel suffocated when it gets all sweated up, but that’s a reaction to the discomfort of a damp mask plus being out of breath from exercise, and not to the mask actually restricting any oxygen. It’s something I’m still struggling to get used to though, and I too will be glad when the mask isn’t necessary. I won’t quibble with how necessary it is right now though.

        1. Grey Barrier Reef*

          Yep! It is literally (and proven to be) harder to breathe through a filter (or three layers of soggy fabric) and when working out, it’s even more obvious to us.

          I personally am an under- the-mask open mouth breather which I think changes how it feels for the worse.

          There’s some limited evidence that stimulation of the trigeminal nerve (front of face) relieves dyspnea sensation. Some patients with severe dyspnea get relief from a fan pointed at their face. I don’t run or bike that fast, but without that stimulation of air moving past my face, I think it’s worse.

          The sensation is real and can be profound. It’s experienced differently by different people, like pain is. Some people tolerate the feeling, others just cannot or find it much more likely to happen even with the flimsiest mask. But it’s not “low oxygen”!

          1. Nessun*

            I understand that there’s no oxygen deprivation issue with a mask, but I despise wearing one because of the sensation of not getting air. It brings on an anxiety reaction that is reminiscent of an asthma attack (yes, I am asthmatic), and makes it very hard to keep a mask on. I do wear it when it is required, which is why I don’t go out much and I get a lot of things ordered in. I will be thrilled when I’m allowed to work out at the gym without a mask on, separately from others, wiping everything down as required. In the meantime, I work out at home, where I can leave the mask off.

            1. allathian*

              Same here. I’m fortunate enough to live in an area where masks are not required outdoors unless it’s very crowded. So I can go for a fast walk or use my nordic walking poles without wearing one. I can regularly do a 45-minute walk and meet one or two people during it. For the second or two it takes to pass each other a few meters away, the risk of catching Covid is so negligible that I’m personally willing to take it.

              I’m not normally particularly anxious, but wearing a mask means I can’t focus on anything else and I get a headache from the simple effort of breathing sitting down if I’m wearing it for more than an hour. I’m just glad that I can WFH so I don’t need to wear a mask regularly. My husband does most of our shopping and he’s a marathon runner who doesn’t have the kind of negative reactions to masks that I do.

              Don’t get me wrong, I will wear a mask if I need to use public transit or other public indoor spaces, or if I’d have to go downtown for some reason where it’s more likely to be crowded than in my suburban subdivision. But I’d rather stay home for as long as masks are necessary/mandated.

              Thanks Grey Barrier Reef for some very educational posts! Just wearing a mask sitting down is enough to give me almost intolerable dyspnea.

              I’m not on asthma medication all the time, but I have had a few asthma attacks triggered by respiratory infections. I concur with Nessun in that the sensation of dyspnea is very similar to the asthma attacks I’ve had.

      4. lapgiraffe*

        It was not my intent to add any fuel to an anti-masker fire, I’m truly sorry if it came across that way. I think some people picked up my attempt at levity, but obviously I had some failures in my delivery. It is duly noted that my comment is not medically accurate.

        I will reiterate that I believe in masking and wear masks and promote wearing masks and judge those who refuse to wear them. I will also reiterate that I cannot wait for the day when I can ditch my tennis mask and go back to blaming my bad serve on the sun or flat balls or mercury retrograde.

        1. ampersand*

          I feel you. I am vehemently pro-mask. But the day we don’t HAVE to wear them anymore? I’m throwing a party! I run in a mask and while I believe my oxygen levels are fine, I also don’t like it at all!

        2. Girasol*

          I didn’t take it that way. I’m with you: masks are absolutely necessary but I can’t wait for the day when they aren’t!

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I feel you on this–I am the same way, I always wear a mask, but I will be so glad when I no longer have to! I began going to the gym and while I can easily do weights or a stroll on the treadmill wearing a mask…any cardio has me gasping for air and wanting to rip off my mask. I only did 10 minute bicycle warm up but I felt like I was suffocating.

    5. Analyst Editor*

      You can probably venture to play without one in the spring and summer outdoors for sure, so just a couple more months!
      It is hard to understand masks outside by yourself or in a scarcely peopled area, like on a hike or riding your bike or something. Feels like overkill.
      It would seem like if it’s just you and your partner in a full size tennis court, you can take them off during actual play?
      But that’s obviously not the same as an indoor winter court.

      1. Lizzie*

        I find the perfumed candles etc so many stores have just inside their doors are stinky enough to keep me from going into their premises. I was pleasantly surprised when mandatory masking was last in place here (South Australia) that wearing a mask really cut down the smell to manageable levels!
        I have since experimented with cutting the lawn while wearing a mask, and found although it was a sweaty experience I didn’t do any of the usual coughing and sneezing afterwards.

      2. lapgiraffe*

        Well for full disclosure it’s because our city has an across the board mask mandate for “sporting facilities,” so while country clubs in the burbs can do this our fun city nonprofit is all masked up for now. I agree that the risk is very low, but I also understand why our club director doesn’t fight with city hall over it.

    6. PT*

      Do you have any allergies? One problem I’ve run into with masking is that, if I put on a clean mask that’s been stored out, as opposed to away in a drawer, it fills with dust. And then I put the mask on, inhale all the dust, and have an allergy attack and can’t breathe.

      With my next load of laundry, the clean masks are going straight from the dryer into a Ziploc bag.

  15. RussianInTexas*

    Texas winter storm thread!
    This has been a mentally exausting week on par with any hurricane I’ve been through.
    I am in the general Houston area, and well. Lost power for 23 hours ( I know it could be so much worse, my dad lost it for 57 hours). No running water for three days. When the water came back up, the pipe in the attic over the garage split, and took out a chunk of the ceiling. It took a miracle to find a plumber. So for now at least I have cold running water, for $950. Civilization crumbles really fast when you can’t flush the toilet!
    Bright spot in all of this was my small city government. We are our own municipality, and our city hall opened the neighborhood community center for people to come get warm, charge electronics, get hot beverages, warm up food, fill up water containers, or even sleep if their houses got too cold.
    Partner’s mom though. She keeps suggesting all kind of plumbing fixes, and it’s all find and good, and my partner is handy, but there is no piece of a pipe can be had in the whole state of Texas! He keeps telling her that, and she (lives up north) really not getting it. And his step father keeps saying “it’s never THAT cold in Houston, come on big babies”. He is normally not obtuse, but…

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      We New Jerseyans who lived through Superstorm Sandy have been praying especially hard for our Texan friends and family! It’s like being on an indoor camping trip but you don’t have any of the right supplies. I hope you are able to get things back in order soon.

    2. Me*

      I’m so sorry, particularly about the lack of plumbing supplies! What a nightmare.

      I’m still in the dark (since Sunday!) but I live in Oregon so it’s less of a frozen tundra. Still 39 degrees at night.

      I’m complaining but I’d really like power restored. It’s hard to be the last street in the neighborhood that gets power but apparently we drew the short straw in this ice storm. Utility company’s website says 5 more says but I think it’ll be tonight.

      Wish we could ship Texas some plumbing supplies!

      1. RussianInTexas*

        We are out of the weeds weather-wise, which means more people will thaw out and find more busted pipes. I saw a video from a local Home Depot yesterday, and Black Friday crowds have nothing on it. It’s insane.
        I don’t want to get political here, just mention once that this crisis is totally a fault of the state leadership, which is now pointing fingers at anyone but themselves. Meanwhile, hospitals have no running water.

    3. Grim*

      Glad you came through the storm with minor damage. It seems you were most fortunate as many are waiting in long lines for food and water.

      Do you think Texas will fix its power delivery systems this time? Or will they hope it doesn’t happen again?

      People are also getting electricity Bill’s for $10,000 or more due to variable rate billing. Hope you’re on something other with your provider.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I don’t have much faith in the state leadership. I hope they prove me wrong.
        And yes on the variable rates bills – it’s a terrible system. You should not be able to gamble with public utilities, nor should you have to have an economics degree and understanding of the energy trading to be able to pick an electric bill. You can get cheap power when things go well, but when they don’t…
        Luckily I am on a fixed rate plan. Normally it works out a bit more expensive, but right now it’s a savior.

    4. Laura H.*

      Bit closer to San Antonio myself. But yeah no, it doesn’t get that cold for as long as it did.

      My household was fortunate to retain our utilities and water and not have any busted pipes- BUT mom and dad both had past experiences and knew some basic winter-chaos prevention (and had some decent shovels to use after the first round of snow). We were also shown kindness (someone braved the store and asked if we needed anything) and showed kindness (I touched base with two throughout this, brother gave soup to one and shoveled the driveway of another who HAD to go out for medical reasons) to our neighbors.

      Best wishes as we all thaw out and my heart goes out to those who need repairs.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Friend of mine got FOUR broken pipes, all over the main house.
        Of course people been asking her why haven’t she let her faucets drop, and of course the city turned the water off…
        This week I am particularly grateful for my gas stove and the fireplace.

        1. Venus*

          It’s a shame that people didn’t know to drain the pipes. When I go away in winter and leave the house empty for more than a few days, I turn the water off completely (where it comes into the home) and turn on the lowest tap to drain it as much as possible. We did this in previous storms where the power went out and we had no heating for a week. You have to plan for water at the start of the storm (fill the tub with water so you can scoop water into the toilet to flush, and have jugs or cooking pots filled with water for drinking) and you can’t shower for that week, but it’s the safest option. I mention this in the hope you never need this info…

    5. Anonymath*

      I’m right down here with you! We lost power for about 70 hours, with about 2 total hours of “rolling electricity” in 20 minute intervals throughout. We’ve gotten power back but are still under a boil water notice. My sister-in-law, who moved to our neighborhood a couple months ago, had a pipe burst in her attic and then once water was shutdown to her house a pipe burst in her sprinkler system. Luckily she has very friendly new neighbors who shut it off for her and texted her about it, as she had already moved in with us in the meantime. My son is thrilled that his auntie is visiting! She was lucky to get in with a local plumber we knew and a sprinkler person, and a sheet rock person for her ceilings so she is having repairs going as I type.
      I detailed my garden damage on the gardening thread, but it’s basically a total loss of any interesting plants. But otherwise we’re healthy and our house survived, which is about the best we can hope for this year.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        We haven’t even started on the ceiling repairs, the handyman is the same person as the plumber, and he is insanely busy right now. Plus we still need to fix the hot water pipe, it’s still leaking.
        The only way I managed to find a plumber is through the grapevine. Called about 20 others I got from local forums, internet, what have you, and only one even picked up.

    6. Ranon*

      We got really lucky- all utilities stayed up, we did a big supet cold weather vacation in 2019 so we’re stocked up on cold weather gear, and due to a rural childhood (in a place with fairly severe winter weather) I sort of fundamentally don’t ever expect to have continuous access to water/ food shopping/ power/ heat/ gas so we’re most more prepared than most. Currently using the much tastier stored water for drinking during this boil water notice.

      Above everything I would say having three days of water (gallon per person per day) and a few weeks of food in the house made it mentally a lot easier to get through this. Plus I can wait to go grocery shopping until supply stabilizes, which is nice. Although we totally did takeout yesterday for lunch which was also lovely.

      Hoping we don’t find any leaks today now that we’re getting a real thaw!

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Luckily our freezer held through the power outage and we don’t need to do any grocery shopping for a while.
        And last night it was takeout pizza, because neither of us was mentally up to cooking and cleaning.

    7. Julianna*

      My power held the whole time, very luckily, but now the water has been out for 2+ days, so making plans to evacuate to my parent’s house a few hours away. Drinking water situation is fine, but I haven’t been able to properly bathe since Wednesday, I’m out of melted snow to use to flush the toilet, etc. Also with shortages and local stores being closed, I am worried about getting more cat litter, which I’m out of. I suspect the water will be back in a day or two, though.

      This has been an interesting experience, anyway. Hope everyone else in Texas is doing okay.

    8. Paris Geller*

      Seeing how certain cities and people have stepped in to help has been one thing that has made me feel a bit better. As a life-long Texan, I agree that it really did feel in so many ways like a hurricane, just in the middle of winter.
      I’m in south Texas so I didn’t have nearly the same problems some of my friends in north & central Texas did. I never lost power, but we were under a water boil for several days. Some of my coworkers and friends lost power, but everyone I know of in my area got it back by Wednesday night, which was a day or two sooner than my friends in DFW and Austin did. One of my closest friends in Austin ended up burning some of her books in her fireplace to stay warm–even now, I still can’t believe I have to type that, but it’s not the only story like that–people burning books, furniture, belongings to keep themselves and their kids safe.

      As of this morning, my city is officially done with our water boil and it’s only slightly chilly weather–I’m wearing capris. Feeling very grateful and also immensely sad for those in places like Dallas, Austin, Houston who are struggling with no water, flooding, etc.

    9. Texan In Exile*

      I live in Wisconsin and I am done with all the “Well up NORTH we can deal with this!”

      Of course we can! We have the infrastructure! Our houses are built to withstand cold, not heat. We have the clothes. We have the equipment for this – we are not morally superior.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        This! I grew up, no joke, in Siberia. Cold is not news to me.
        We have very different infrastructure to deal with deadly cold, vs deadly heat.

      2. Elenna*

        Exactly! I live in Toronto so yeah, sure, we could deal with that easily. Because all the infrastructure around here is SPECIFICALLY SET UP to deal with it! It’s a completely different experience, it doesn’t make any sense to imply that Texans are just coping badly without taking into account that the equipment and power setup and everything they have is just completely different and not prepared.

        Like, I admit that in normal times, when people I watch online are like “it’s so cold here, it’s like 50F” I’ve made comments like “lol you think that’s cold”. And I’m sure a lot of people who live in the south would react the same way if I complained about heat. But that’s just people being mildly uncomfortable. It’s so insensitive to react the same way when people are *literally dying* from the cold.

      3. allathian*

        Yeah, this. I’m in Finland and we can deal with these conditions easily enough because our infrastructure is set up in a way that makes living in these kinds of conditions for several months every year possible.

      4. Epsilon Delta*

        Right, and if our power goes out in Wisconsin in the middle of winter and for some reason could not be restored within half a day, we too would be having a hard time! Our power went out a few winters ago for about 10 hours. It got noticeably colder in the house, even with all our “superior northern insulation.” If the power hadn’t been restored by night time, we could have driven across town to stay with a friend or family member with power. Not so much the case in Texas this week.

    10. GoryDetails*

      Much sympathy! My folks lived in Woodville during Katrina, and I recall what they went through then with long-term power outages and supply problems – but they weren’t freezing… They’ve been gone for a couple of years now so I don’t know how their place would have fared; Dad might have managed to keep the pipes from breaking but it would have taken a massive effort, as I know how hard he worked under normal winter circumstances to prevent frozen pipes. (I imagine the damage to trees and shrubs will be pretty horrific as well.)

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Sympathy from New England! I have a shallow pitch roof and have been roof raking off & on for over a week and fighting ice dams — and feeling incredibly worried for all of you down south who don’t have the infrastructure to deal with this.

  16. Sled dog mama*

    As a parent I often forget things that my 6 year old has never experienced, then have a good chuckle later because of course she would have never experienced that.
    For example this week she went to her room to put away clothes and came running back, “mommy something weird happened to my light, come see. I turned it on and it was on then it went off by itself and now it won’t come back on.”
    Yes friends my daughter experienced a light bulb burning out for the first time in her memory and had no idea what was going on. I’m going to chalk this up to CFL and LED bulbs that last much longer than the incandescent ones of my childhood.
    What has given you a good chuckle as a parent?

    1. RussianInTexas*

      Step parent, and slightly different: when my step daughter was about 16 ( her father and I got together when she was a teen), we watched Clueless. I told her the movie was filmed in the mid 1990s and her reaction was: I thought movies were black and white then?

      1. Enough*

        Neighbor child was playing with my daughter and needed to call home. She didn’t know how to use a rotary phone. This was about 2000, she was 11. Still have that phone on my wall.

        1. allathian*

          In my area, kids do a vocabulary test with a pediatric nurse when they’re 3 and 5. The idea is to show pictures of objects to kids and ask them to name them. At 5 my son was annoyed when he was marked down for not recognizing a picture of a push-button phone. He wasn’t the only one, and not long afterwards the set of pictures was modernized and now it includes a smartphone instead of a landline phone and a laptop instead of a desktop computer. Most people don’t have a landline phone anymore because cellphones are cheap, coverage is good pretty much everywhere, and a cheap phone is a standard gift for pretty much everyone who starts school. A second-hand non-smart phone can be picked up for a fiver or less, and the cheapest plans here are around 1 euro per month, so the vast majority of people can afford them. My son has literally never seen a landline phone except on old TV shows.

          1. SaraV*

            Ha! I remember a similar exercise in kindergarten (5 yo). Identify the picture, then print the letter of the alphabet that object starts with. (BTW, this was the early 80’s) I stared at this picture, and could not figure it out. It kind of looked like my dad’s razor, but why is it connected to this roundish thing?

            I finally raised my hand and asked my teacher what this was? It was a vacuum…a canister vacuum where the canister was a cylinder. (Looked like a mini shop vac) The “razor” was the attachment you used. My family had a canister vacuum, too, but it was a flat rectangle. If they had gone with the “old” upright bag vacuums, I would have gotten that! Both my grandmas’ vacuums were like that.

            This is not that new of a thing. :)

      2. MissCoco*

        My dad used to come into my elementary school classroom to do reading circle, and he was pretty chagrined when he asked us 2nd-graders when we thought a book with a rotary phone was set.

        After a few minutes of discussion, we decided it was “probably the 1500s.” My dad told us he had one in his house as a kid and we were amazed at how old he was.

        1. PollyQ*

          Yeah, little kids have no sense of historical time. My sister’s nephew was around that age when he asked his mom if Abraham Lincoln was still alive.

          1. Clisby*

            One of my younger brothers once asked my mother if they had paper when she was in school. (I think he must have seen/read something about pioneer children having to write on slates, or something like that.)

            1. allathian*

              I distinctly remember asking my mom when I was about 6 if they had indoor plumbing in her house when she was growing up. They did have running water and a septic tank, but she said that she was 10 when they built a new house with an indoor toilet (in the mid-50s) and that going to the outhouse was no fun in winter.

              1. Texan In Exile*

                Same for my mom! They did not have an indoor toilet until she was a girl. This was in a farmhouse in northern Wisconsin.

    2. Me*

      My youngest is 21 but I’m still finding amusement in watching him adult sometimes.

      This weeks phone call started with “I’m fine”, which always sends me right over the edge.

      He’s in his senior year of college in another state. He’s very outdoorsy and we bought him a car at the end of his freshman year. He can drive home (12 hour drive), or to wherever he wants.

      During a break in classes this week he headed up to the nearby ski area to do some downhill skiing. (Couple of weeks ago he dropped his month-old glasses off the ski lift. Gone. Those were replacing a pair he had tucked in his jacket pocket in December while climbing so he didn’t drop them; he crushed them instead when he wedged himself between two rocks. But I digress..)

      After skiing, he went back to his car and turned it on to warm it up. Got out to scrape the windows and.. click. Ooops, locked his keys in the car. His phone doesn’t get any service up there and he really needed to get to work, so of course he used his ski boot to smash a window. Sigh.

      We had a good talk a few days later about better options. He did Venmo me the cost of the replacement window.

      I do very much find humor in all of his adulting but I try to not laugh about it except with Dh.

    3. Jay*

      We no longer have a turntable. We kept a couple of LPs for sentimental reasons. She was about 8 when she found one on the shelf.

      Kid: What is this?
      Me: A record.
      Kid: What does it do?
      Me: It plays music.
      Kid: How? It’s too big to fit in the computer.

      And just last summer:
      Kid (now 20): DAD! My car key is broken. It won’t unlock the door. I keep pushing the button and nothing happens.
      Hubs: Does it work if you do it manually?
      Kid: Wait. You mean put the key IN the door? I didn’t know you could do that.

      1. anon24*

        I’m dying laughing with that last one. My car is 21 years old and doesn’t have a remote. It doesn’t open any other way except with a key in the door.

      2. I take tea*

        I’m the other way, I’m not at all familiar with the concept of unlocking without a key. I once drove a friend’s car that was a bit fancy and it kept opening the door when I wanted to check that it was properly locked. It registered the key in my pocket and promptly unlocked every time I tried the door. Very annoying.

        Also car related: gave a lift to a friend and her six year old, who wanted me to turn on the non-existent air conditioning. Kiddos mind was blown when the mother explained that when she was little most cars were hot in summer.

      3. PT*

        I had this same brain fart with my car, and I am old enough to know that car doors open with keys. I just never had to up until that point, because the remote always worked!

    4. Me*

      Child 1: look- it’s a llama
      Child 2: no, it’s a bunny
      Me: (looking out the kitchen window) nope, that’s a deer. Now, let’s get you off to Zoo Camp. (Silently: maybe they’ll work on animal identification today?)

      Child 2 is now grown. He’s 21, at college. Was skiing in between classes this week. When done, started car up and went out to scrape his windows. Click. Oops. Decided best course of action was to use his ski boot to smash a window. Yes. I laughed. Also, he Venmo’d me the $ for the window. We later discussed better options.

      Child 2 lost his month-old glasses last week or the week before at the same ski area, dropping them accidentally while on the ski lift. Yes, I laughed.

      Those glasses replaced the ones he destroyed while climbing in December. He’d tucked them into his chest pocket so be wouldn’t drop them, crushing them instead when he wedged between two rocks. Yes, I laughed.

      That same trip, he dropped his iPhone in the campfire. That’s phone number four. Phone 3 dropped out of a pocket while rock climbing, shattering into a lot of pieces. Phone 2 malfunctioned. Phone 1 fell into a crevice while rock climbing. In all cases, I laughed. I also carry insurance on his phone.

      I do find his constant phone and glass issues funny. He’s actually very careful, but still. I am laughing because it’s actually healthier than crying.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      When my daughter was around 4 her little sister swallowed a watermelon seed and I joked that she was going to have a watermelon grow in her tummy. 4yo went “WHAT????” in absolute horror. It’s such an old, uncreative joke but I guess everyone hears it for the first time at some point!

      1. Clisby*

        When I was little, my sister and I had heard that joke but didn’t realize it was a joke. Being scientifically minded, we went around eating various seeds to see if plants would grow inside us. Fortunately, we didn’t poison ourselves.

    6. jotab*

      Just a coincidence that my 6 year old grandson concluded that the power went out when the refrigerator light didn’t come on when we opened the door. We noticed the kettle was still on so not the power! I changed the lightbulb and he was amazed “you can do that???”

    7. KoiFeeder*

      When I was about three, my dad was so excited to be able to show me a snake for the first time (a little dekay’s, one of the small bug-eaters. probably the perfect snake for this purpose, they’re wholly unintimidating and very useful to have living around your house). Of course, being three, I didn’t know about how hibernation worked, so when he said the snake was sleeping through the winter, I thought it was a great idea to put the little guy in my dollhouse bed because that’s far more comfortable than a firewood pile!

      Cue second first of “do not bring wild animals in the house” (which I am still not very good at. oops.).

    8. Teatime is Goodtime*

      My mom bought my son some of those cars that you can hold down and move backwards to wind up so that they drive forward by themselves. He was barely out of babyhood at the time. The LOOK on his face! It went forward! BY ITSELF!!! Priceless.

    9. Sally O’Malley*

      A few years ago when my niece was a teenager she was trying to call my mom, who had a landline. Niece said to my sister, “Mom, Grandmama’s phone must be out. It’s making a sound like mmmeep, mmmeep, mmmeep.” She had never heard a busy signal before. LOL

    10. Anonymato*

      The time that my 4-year old was getting first haircut – and believed that cutting hair will hurt. Very logical and simply out of the realm of their experience so far. I thought it took lots of courage to agree to a haircut with that preconception! ;-)

    11. Nana*

      Learning about time lines (a difficult concept, 2nd or 3rd grade), DD asked, “I know Gramma wasn’t here when there were dinosaurs…but what about pilgrims?”

      There are lots of YouTube videos of teenagers trying to figure out how to use a rotary phone, or even a push-button phone (lifting the headset is a lost art).

    12. Miss Understanding*

      Preface this with that my husband works with someone with the last name of Hartz.

      So my 10yo stepdaughter was over. I could see my husband was doing something on his phone, but I still tried to say something to him. He didn’t respond. I then say something, extremely sarcastically, to my stepdaughter that her dad isn’t paying attention to me. He then says “Huh? I was texting Hartz.” Husband takes a slight pause, and then gives a quick description what he was asking his coworker. Stepdaughter then says “Oh! You weren’t sending heart emojis.” I just about did a spit take of soda I had drank after that comment.

  17. Newbie*

    I bought my first oracle cards deck today. I’ve done some research before, but I’d like to hear from people here who use them. As a beginner, what things do you find useful? Keeping notes of your readings, stuff like that?

    1. Catherine*

      I journal mine in Notion (used to use Evernote) with a little photo of the spread, and tag it with keywords (e.g. general topic area of the question, if a certain suit was dominant, etc) so that I can cross-refrrence it later as needed.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      I do tarot rather than oracle cards (annnnd I’m out of practice whoops) but I used to keep a journal of my daily 3-card draws! It was nice to see trends and to keep notes. I would also jot down spreads I wanted to try because otherwise I’d absolutely forget.

    3. Nessun*

      I use oracle and Tarot,; the former to accentuate the messages of the latter. I like to use OneNote to organize everything, but I also take notes in a paper notebook so I can draw spreads or note imagery, etc. I always note which deck I’m using, and for what, as it helps define their personality and strengths over time.

  18. RussianInTexas*

    Step parent, and slightly different: when my step daughter was about 16 ( her father and I got together when she was a teen), we watched Clueless. I told her the movie was filmed in the mid 1990s and her reaction was: I thought movies were black and white then?

    1. Jay*

      When my daughter was about 10 or 11, I found “9 to 5” on Netflix and we watched it together. She paid absolutely no attention to the plot. She was riveted by the 1980s office technology. TYPEWRITERS! PHONES WITH CORDS! GIANT COPY MACHINES!

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        I found a rolodex on the equivalent of Craigslist in my area. I had a lovely nostalgic chuckle about that, so much so that I almost bought it.

    2. MinotJ*

      My experience was weird and negative. I was having some anxiety/phobia issues that are fairly common but were new to me. I think I used Better Help, but this was a few years ago. The therapist they paired me with seemed okay, I guess- not specialized in phobias, which was annoying. But her language was very guarded and specific. Like I would talk about my symptoms and she would respond with something about “the book that we use to diagnose people”. I asked if she was talking about the DSM and she was really cagey. A few other similar issues came up; I later found out that my state’s laws didn’t really allow them to “practice” online, so she was trying to stay on the legal side of giving advice vs counseling. I didn’t research it too thoroughly because I was so disgusted. I quit and didn’t even try to get my money back.

      But I know other people have had better experiences!

  19. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    Looks like I’m the first of the weekly AAM cat care questions!

    One of our cats has been sneezing a bunch over the past day or so. It’s not constant sneezing, and otherwise he’s totally himself, but it’s enough to be noticeable.

    Should we race to a vet? It’s in the 20s (F) and icy here and all of our local vets are making people wait outside for their appointments because of COVID concerns… and this guy has extreme vet anxiety. We’re not sure yet if a home vet visit is an option. We also have a second cat who is showing no problems, yet. I know colds are different for cats than humans; will it pass if we give it a few days or should we treat this as an emergency? Thanks.

    1. mreasy*

      Not an emergency – could just be dry air making him sneeze, or some other allergen. If the sneezing doesn’t go away in a few weeks, or if it becomes more frequent and if he starts producing thick yellow phlegm, then make an appointment. It can help to keep him in the bathroom while you shower to hydrate his little sinuses.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Seconding, not an emergency. If he starts having nasal discharge or sneezing up actual crud, or if his behavior changes (especially if he starts hiding), then take him in, but otherwise from what you describe you’re fine to give him a few days :)

      Husband’s cat has sneezing bouts a few times a year that last 2-4 days, it’s never been a thing.

    3. RussianInTexas*

      One of my cats is a sneezer. He goes through it occasionally, not a big deal. Like everyone else said, just keep watching him.

    4. Me*

      I would take a wait and see attitude too. My kitty was all sneezy a day ago which made me more alert as that’s unusual.

      I’m sure it has something to do with the current indoor temperature of our house – been without power since Sunday. She seems otherwise fine but is seeking out warmth a lot. I mean, so am I, because it’s cold!

      She’s taken to sleeping under the covers rather than on top. The dogs generate more heat but she’s just so sweet.

      Give it a day or two and see if it clears up.

    5. username required*

      I could have written your post a month ago. I know it’s slightly different as I just have the one cat. My cat started sneezing 3 or 4 times a day and I was worried sick about having to take her to the vet. She is a rescue found dumped in a car park and is terrified of going to the vet. I rang the vet and they said give it a couple of weeks, keep an eye on her, if she’s peeing/pooping/eating/drinking normally then it is probably just allergies because of the change in seasons here. After 2 weeks she’s stopped sneezing and she’s fine now. Hopefully it’s the same for your kitty.

      1. username required*

        I wish there was an edit button. To clarify – I didn’t leave her sneezing for 2 weeks – she sneezed every day for about 4 days and then every couple of days and stopped completely after 2 weeks. The winds have kicked up the sand/dust here so that was likely the cause.

    6. violet04*

      Agree with others that it’s not an emergency. As long as he’s still eating that means he can still smell his food. Just watch for any discharge or changes in behavior.

    7. Bucky Barnes*

      Did you change anything like type of litter recently? I tried a new variety of our existing brand a few years ago, and my cat started sneezing and wheezing within the day. I cleaned out his box and changed back to our old litter, and he was back to normal within a couple of days.

    8. Ethyl*

      One of my cats has feline herpes that flares up occasionally, making him sneezy and a big phlegmy. We give him a lysine supplement every day, and when he’s sneezy we will take him in the bathroom and turn the shower on for about ten minutes to give him a bit of a steam treatment. Our veg agreed with above posters — not an emergency unless he has cloudy or discolored discharge from his eyes or nose.

    9. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

      Thanks, everyone. There’s no discharge and no other symptoms that I can tell, and nothing I can think of was changed, so I think we’re okay for now. It’s just sad to listen to a cat sneeze and sniffle; it’s bad enough when humans have allergies! We do need to get our cats to the vet anyway for their routine visits, but we’re hoping it can wait the couple of months until we’re vaccinated and perhaps the world will be slightly more normal.

    10. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs) are super common in rescue cats. To reiterate from others, it’s only a problem if the discharge is yellow or green. If the cat is sneezing clear then it is a viral infection and taking them to the vet is unhelpful as stress hurts their immune system and antibiotics don’t help. Lysine can help if it is herpes (relatively common source of URIs) but I wouldn’t rush to look for it unless the cat is looking really stuffed up.

      Having them in a washroom with a steamy shower is the best easy treatment.

  20. Teapot Translator*

    Hi everyone.
    First, I want to thank everyone who recommended romance books! I have a list to go through now and see if it’s a genre for me.
    Second, I need some advice/commiseration. I went to see the doctor this week. I was worried; I eat a lot of chocolate and I’m always worried it’s going to be about that (pre-diabetes or something). Well, it wasn’t. My inflammation levels have jumped and my hypertension is so high that he immediately put me on medication. We have no idea where the inflammation is coming from; we’re going to do more test.
    It’s the hypertension that worries me in the short-term. I started the medication, and I take my pressure (with a machine) every day to see if it goes down. I asked some questions to the doctor about what I could do in addition to taking my medication. He said to keep up the exercise and cut back on the salt (like, ideally, cut it all).
    I had a bit of a food panic. Salt is in everything! It’s worse than sugar. How am I supposed to cut all salt? Or should I try to cut down first? It seems like an impossible task!

    1. RussianInTexas*

      It’s easier to do when you cook your food vs buying food because you are right, salt is in everything, even things like seltzer water.
      For the cooking – experiment with spices to get the flavor, just watch out for spice mixes, they always have salt. Fats add flavor to the food as well.
      For packaged food – that’s tough. Even low sodium staff is not that low salt.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I do intend on not buying any more packaged/processed food. But even if I make some stuff from scratch (like pizza dough), the recipe calls for salt! And when cooking, even a small amount of salt is useful to bring out the other flavours. I feel like I’m faced with an impossible task in front of me.

        1. mreasy*

          It seems like omitting processed foods will go far in lowering sodium. Cooking without salt is one of those things doctors say you should do but that truly is impossible in practice – not only for flavor, but when sautéing onions, for example, the salt helps them cook evenly by breaking down cell walls (true with lots of veggies). What if you start by trying to lower it and not eat processed/packaged/fast food (also easier said than done) and see if that helps? It seems like if you try to eliminate ALL salt you’ll be so miserable that you’ll be more likely to wild out and get a crazy meal from cravings.

          1. Teapot Translator*

            Thank you. I’m going to try that.
            I bought eggplants this week. I need salt for the pre-cooking process!

            1. WellRed*

              I agree with other comments that cutting out processed foods it’s probably going to be the biggest piece of this. I would otherwise cook as needed with salt unless you find that isn’t enough.

            2. AcademiaNut*

              My mom’s on a low sodium diet. For most recipes, you can leave it out. Stuff will taste bland at first, but your taste buds will adjust with time, and processed stuff will end up tasting horribly salty. In the meantime, you can compensate with other flavours – up the spices, add acid (lemon juice is particularly useful).

              Regarding eggplants – yeah, you’re going to have to skip the pre-cooking salting, because that’s a *lot* of salt, even compared to processed foods. In the future, the skinny Asian eggplants are tender enough to use without salting.

              You can make your own vinegar/no-salt pickled items. Thinly sliced cucumbers or onions with vinegar, garlic and spices, daikon + carrot pickle, green beans or okra in vinegar (blanch them first to soften them). Also vinegar/no-salt hot sauce.

              You can buy no sodium added broth for cooking (there’s naturally sodium in a lot of things, so you’ll still get it even with no salt added cooking).

          2. Beatrice*

            This. And keep in mind, your body needs SOME sodium to function, so you don’t want to get it down to absolutely zero, just very low.

            1. Teapot Translator*

              That’s what got me confused. I’d started the book Salt by Mark Kurlansky, and I remembered about salt being essential to our survival.

            2. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

              Low salt diets are 1500 mg a day and very low salt diets are 1000 to 1200 mg a day.

              People do need some salt. So you don’t need to eliminate all salt, just reduce it.

              For most cooking, you can eliminate the salt in the recipe. Ie, baking cookies, putting salt in water to boil noodles/cook rice, etc. Homemade breads do need salt but you can use less than the recipe asks for. For the eggplant, I would skip the salt and see how it turns out.

              Grocery Shopping:
              You will need to look at the nutritional information on everything you buy at first. Jarred pasta sauce will range from 900 mg of sodium per serving to 200 mg. Canned veggies will be out but frozen will be fine. You can find low salt versions of most things- broth, tomato paste, etc, but sometimes the lower sodium items are not marked as low sodium so read the labels. Most lunch meat is high salt but the person at the counter can help select the lower salt items. Swiss cheese and roast beef are things to look at. Breads are the hardest to find in low salt versions. Your best bet is to eat them in moderation.

              Restaurants – my own feeling is that if I’m eating low salt for the rest of my meals, that eating out (curbside pickup right now) once or twice a week is fine although fast food or Chinese is rare.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Bread can be salt-free, it’s even sold in grocery stores that way. It will taste strange to you st first. My husband bakes bread with no salt, so I’ll try to get him to give me his proportions for you.

    2. SG*

      Eating more potassium can also help counteract sodium intake because it makes your body expel more sodium in your urine. I just learned that!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I just checked a list of potassium rich foods. I need to eat more whole-grain, beans and pasta. I could also eat more of : bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit, cooked spinach, cooked broccoli (what’s up with cooked? why not raw?), potatoes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, peas, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, leafy greens.

        1. Natalie*

          Could be that the potassium in raw broccoli isn’t accessible or digestible in some way. That’s true for a number of minerals/foods.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      Also, on a side note, this new medication I’m taking, it is recommended to get more magnesium (I don’t remember why) and I saw a list of foods with magnesium. At the end of it, chocolate. I laughed because I felt like life was playing a cruel joke on me. I’ve stopped eating chocolate since I saw the doctor.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you for the recipe! I do not have nutritional yeast so it will be without this once.
        I’m not in the US, so I have to explore grocery stores here and see what brands are available. Maybe an organic supermarket will have some salt-free stuff.

    4. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Have you checked your insurance plan to see if it covers any dieticians near you? Medical school doesn’t always provide general practitioners with the most comprehensive training in nutrition and food science, which is how you end up with doctors saying “don’t ever eat salt again.” But a registered dietician will have the kind of specialized knowledge you need to create an eating plan that covers your doctors recommendations.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I have had bad experiences with dietitians. If I can avoid going to see one, I would prefer it. One of them, gave me a list of good and bad foods and there was no discussion about how food is not just food, but memories, culture, coping mechanism. It was just, “Hey, if you don’t eat the bad foods, you’ll lose weight!” (and I’d told them I did not want to talk about weight loss.)

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Oof. I can see why you’d rather avoid having that experience again. You’re getting some good advice here, and I hope you can get to a stable level of health soon.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I am told that there is a big difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist. Nutritionist at least in the US are a licensed profession. Try asking around for one of those!

    5. Enough*

      I knew that eliminating salt was going to be impossible. I was over 50 when I went on medication and used to suck on salt tablets when I was younger. (oh for the days of 96/66) I reduced processed foods. Next was using less salt in food prep. Do you really need a full teaspoon? And either eliminating or reducing added salt.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I’m going to try reducing salt in cooking. Maybe I use too much. I never add salt once the meal is done. Maybe that’s because it’s too salty already?

        1. death to adverbs*

          i do the opposite: never ever use salt when cooking (except in bread, there the salt plays with the yeast in a bit of a biochemical dance). You don’t need it for eggplants, pasta water, vegetables, soup stock etc. If you only add salt at the table it will be far less.

    6. nep*

      Just putting this out there in case it might be useful–I put dulse flakes instead of salt in salads and other dishes. Maybe ask your doctor whether that is a good alternative, at least for when you use salt as a flavoring.

    7. The teapots are on fire*

      Good for you for taking this seriously! But please be kind to yourself.

      Don’t drive yourself nuts over sodium. Look at Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (Dash Diet) for some guidelines. Goals range from 2300 down to 1500 mg of sodium a day. Not buying processed food and not adding bunches of salt to your food are good starts. Don’t make yourself crazy over a teaspoon of salt in your pizza dough–there’s only 6 g of salt in there. Deep breath! Do the best you can, but you don’t have to be perfect today. Just make progress.

      1. The teapots are on fire*

        OKAY WENT. NUTS! Theres 2000g of sodium in a teaspoon so don’t eat the whole batch of pizza dough.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Ah ha ha. The amount of salt that is recommended is super tiny! like, it’s less than sugar (that’s 6 teaspoon max per day according to WHO). That’s why my hamster brain is stressed!

      2. PollyQ*

        6g of salt is 6000 mg, so unfortunately, for those of us on a low-salt diet, we do need to be aware of that.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have hypertension, which is exacerbated by medication I take and a maternal family history. I take meds now because, well, I’m over 40 and stressed out. My BP isn’t great but it’s no longer Very High.

      Don’t freak out over salt itself. What everyone else is saying is true. It’s not about cooking with dashes of salt here and there, it’s about cutting out processed foods. I still sprinkle a few grains of salt on my eggs and I cook a lot of Chinese food at home, I just limit my use of pre-made pastes and condiments.

      I try to eat seaweed every day. I exercise. I ferment things and eat them (homemade sauerkraut is supposed to be good for hypertension, and that whole method is salt-based). I buy canned tomatoes and beans with no salt added. It’s these adjustments that make a big difference.

      The point is, it’s not the salt in your cabinet that’s the enemy, it’s the salt in the cans, jars, and packages.

      But I will say this: I hope your doc took your pressure more than once during your visit. I “white coat” at every appt and if my docs recorded that number, I would have been on meds years ago.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks for the advice.
        They took my pressure four times (twice with the nurse, twice with the doctor). The doctor was really surprised by my pressure. And I’m taking my pressure at home until I talk to him again. The first few days when I started my medication my pressure was really high.

    9. Less-stressed COVID Non-mover*

      Not related to the food question, but a friend recently recommended the romance author Courtney Milan to me and I’ve loved the books that I’ve read so far. Just wanted to throw her name out there in case you hadn’t heard of her yet!

    10. Annie Moose*

      For what it’s worth, you shouldn’t actually have zero sodium intake! Your body needs small amounts of sodium to survive. (my grandmother once got on a no-sodium kick and ended up in the ER because she took it too far! (don’t worry, it’s easy to treat–they just hook you up to an IV and pump you back full of salt ;) )) It’s more about eating _minimal_ salt than eating _no_ salt.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Yeah, I have no idea what the doctor meant by no salt (maybe he meant don’t eat processed food or canned food with salt?)

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband has blood pressure and cholesterol issues, and his doc recommended increasing his intake of oatmeal (preferably not instant and definitely not all the super sugary types) and, if medication allowed, grapefruit (either the fruit or as juice). (A lot of meds are hampered by grapefruit enzymes though, so research first, I think there’s actually a decent list on Wikipedia.)

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I’ll try to remember that for the summer months! It’s too cold now to be making smoothies.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I’ll try to add oatmeal for breakfast over the weeks. I don’t like grapefruit (although I heard that can change with age), so I never had to check if it was a problem with my meds.

    12. Double A*

      My uncle needs to limit salt due to a heart issue, and he has a specific number in milligrams that is his maximum each day. Could you talk to your doctor, or like someone said above have a consult dietician, and what specifically limiting salt looks like? Some foods like bread literally need salt to work correctly, and salt is a necessary mineral for our bodies. Having a specific numbers as targets seems more manageable than a nebulous “no salt.”

    13. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I had a friend on a low-salt diet for a while and one of the things that she did was up her intake of vinegar and other acids. They taste intense and seemed to sort of fill the space for her when she was missing or craving salt. For example, she had this great recipe that was basically sauteed chard with balsamic vinegar on it. Vinegar can make lots of plain foods more interesting and delicious, like lemon juice or small amounts of vinegar in soups and rice and pasta dishes and the like. It wouldn’t work in pizza dough or breads, but maybe you could try lowering or cutting the salt and adding acids instead to keep it interesting?

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I’ll try that. I found a recipe for my eggplants that says I could use lemon and thyme, so I’m just gonna do that and reduce the salt a lot.

    14. DistantAudacity*

      Also – and I may be way out of line here, so apologies in advance –

      Maybe learn more about how to use salt correctly, so that the salt you do use gives you the desired effect in your cooking? I really learnt a lot from Samin Nosrat’s «Salt Fat Acid Heat» book, on the hows and whys of things.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I learned to cook from my mother. I have no idea if she used salt correctly. Thanks for the book recommendation. I added it to the “to read” list.

  21. Laura H.*

    Little Joys thread. What brought you joy this week?

    As a Texan, getting to watch snowfall in big decent sized flakes on Thursday from the comfort of a warm house.

    Please share your joys! :)

    1. RussianInTexas*

      Going to my dad’s house and taking a loooong hot shower.
      And doing all the laundry yesterday.
      It’s amazing how finally being clean makes your mind better.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I had bloodwork done this week, and I was preparing for some sort of bad news (not because I had any symptoms or reason to expect it, just, the last year has been a dumpster fire so why not expect the worst), only it turns out that all my numbers were solidly in the optimal ranges and my body is apparently still on the “we feel 25, not 40” bandwagon with my brain. (Husband had his done the same day and is, uh, very definitely 40+, so we still will be making some general health-based improvements to the household food consumption.)

    3. WellRed*

      I logged into Acorn to give it one last check before canceling. I love UK detective procedural s. I love Law & Order. Law & Order UK arrived on Acorn this week!

      1. Kardamumma*

        We get Acorn free through our public library. Check if it’s one of the digital resources offered by yours.

    4. NeonFireworks*

      I took a day off from work and successfully avoided the computer all day. (I like my job, and my computer, but I mean…)

    5. nep*

      (I’ll preface this by saying I won’t enter a debate about whether it’s right or good to give money to people in the street.)
      I gave a couple dollars to a man asking for help at a nearby intersection the other day (a brutally cold day).
      He said, ‘Love you back.’

    6. CTT*

      So glad you’re safe!

      My high-school age nephews hooked up their old Wii and we played Mario Kart last night, and I was ecstatic to learn that I can still get first place on Rainbow Road.

    7. Filosofickle*

      It’s my birthday today! Definitely a little joy, though, and not a big joy because I’m turning 48 (oof) + pandemic limitations. Will be having a really nice outdoor dinner with my sweetie :)

    8. Might Be Spam*

      My son just sent me a picture of a restaurant that has my name. We are going to go there when we can travel again.

      My daughter told me where I can get excellent Chinese takeout nearby.

    9. KristinaL*

      Everyone in my family has power now! (Pacific Northwest)

      I saw a squirrel on the back porch. It was eating bird seed I’d left out for the birds. He would grab a bite and then sit up and chew, watching for danger. One of my kitties spent a lot of time watching him through the window. I got a lot of photos of the squirrel (and some of the kitty watching the squirrel). So cute!

    10. AllTheBirds*

      We heard a cardinal singing for the first time this year. There’s a very full throated one that comes out before the others. Birdsong is a hopeful sound to me.

    11. willow for now*

      I was watching my cat fall asleep – first her eyelids got very heavy, then her head started bobbing, then she finally gave up fighting it, heaved a big sigh, and put her down on her outstretched paw, and curled the other one under like she was trying to get the blanket tight around her chin.

    12. The Other Dawn*

      I had an MRI on both hips last week and I picked up the CD and report yesterday. I read the report and they found something! I know it sounds weird I’d be happy about that, but I was beginning to think the pain is all in my head, or that I’m just not active enough and it’s my fault for not being more active, or maybe it’s just not and big deal and something to power through.

      I’ve been having burning/aching pain in both hips on and off since last April after lumbar fusion, but it became pretty constant over the last six months or so, which makes having a desk job suck. Turns out I have bursitis in both hips (figured that already but it was officially confirmed), mild osteoarthritis in the femoral joint in both hips, and gluteus medius tendonitis in one hip. I see the doctor Thursday to talk to him about it.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        And I totally messed up that last one. It’s gluteus medias tendinosis. I have no idea what that is so I’ll need to consult Dr. Google.

    13. Marion Ravenwood*

      Finally properly moving into my new flat (I completed on it at the end of January, moved 80% of my stuff in here last weekend, but for various reasons didn’t actually spend the night here until Thursday) and getting to unpack and have all my things arranged how I want them. Plus I built a table and chairs (from an Ikea flat pack, but still) which I feel immensely proud of!

    14. GoryDetails*

      I stopped at a gas station to fill my car’s tank, and the car behind me turned out to belong to friends I hadn’t seen in person since COVID! (They do live in roughly the same part of town so it’s not an insane coincidence, but was still a very nice surprise.) Got to have a short chat, while masked and gas-pump-distance apart, before going our separate ways.

  22. Grim*

    Hope, prayers and thoughts going out for everyone dealing with power and water loss this week. What a fiasco!

    Going to cost more to repair the damage than hurricane Harvey. Truly mind blowing that we just dont learn from the past.

    1. RussianInTexas*

      Harvey was very different, with different issues and failures.
      Which we haven’t addressed either, so I guess you have a point here.

    2. Me*

      It’s been really shocking to drive around the area (we are near Portland, Oregon) and see so so so many downed trees.

      The area is filled with utility trucks, including many from nearby states. So many trees need to be removed before power is restored.

      For our area, it really was just a freak of nature weather convergence. We don’t get snow very often around here- it threatens to each year but the right conditions are rarely in place. And we don’t get ice events very often. The hardest hit areas experienced both.

      We got snow then freezing rain then snow then freezing rain over a couple of days late last week. By Sunday just walking outside was treacherous.

      Sunday night was absolutely Terrifying. Worst night. I live in a forested area of the city- surrounded by gigantic fir trees. That night, it was constant booms/crashes as trees just lost limbs or fell altogether. All.night.long.

      We lost power of course. Still out. I’m frustrated as hell and cold to boot but I cannot blame the utility company for lack of power. This was an historic ice storm- nothing like it seen since the 1950s. Repair crews are worked around the clock.

      Different situation than Texas for sure.

  23. Annie Oakley*

    Any other Libby type apps for free rental of ebooks? Unfortunately, the library in my very rural area does not partner with Libby, so I am unable to use that app (unless there is another way to access it). I love to read but don’t want to keep buying ebooks. I read quickly so that would get expensive! My library also has a very limited physical book selection.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My library uses Overdrive, which I believe is similar? You might also ask if your library partners with any other library systems, which a lot of small ones do, which might open up options that the partner libraries have available.

      1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        Overdrive is the same company.

        One suggestion is to see if you can get a library card in a larger system. Where I live, I was able to get a card at the neighboring county’s library system which is much larger than my local one.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        Libby is an app to that uses the same database as Overdrive.

        But my library also uses Hoopla and CloudLibrary which are completely different.

        You library should tell you what digital resources they offer.

    2. Dear liza dear liza*

      Also look at the nearest bigger systems. A lot of libraries allow membership from less well-served communities!

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Yes this! I may be a member of one local library network, but it also grants access to other networks in my state.

        I’ve found Overdrive to be easier to access other networks than Libby was.

      2. Coenobita*

        You might also want to check the big city library systems in your state, even if you don’t live near them! The Free Library of Philadelphia lets anyone in PA access its materials, for example.

        1. ronda*

          I have used the Brooklyn library for many years. $50 (for out of state membership) a year and good selection of ebooks and audiobooks. You can look at the book selection on overdrive for the library to see if it includes books you are interested in. I think you can also see how long the wait list is.

      3. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Yes, this! Call the library nearest you that has access to ebooks through Libby/Overdrive, hoopla, Freading, or Axis 360 and ask what their policy is for who’s eligible for a card. Where I am, if you live in the county, you’re eligible for a card at any county library. Some people (*cough*me*cough*) actually have cards for libraries in multiple cities, because each city offers at least one thing that the other cities don’t have. And even people who live outside the county can pay a yearly fee and still get a library card. And now that it’s pandemic times, you might actually be able to sign up for a card remotely without having to go inside at all. We’ve got an online form that people can fill out to get a temporary card number that will work until they come in to get their real library card, and that number will continue to work until the card expires (ours expire every year so we can double check that we still have accurate contact info). Do some googling on libraries in your state/county, you might end up finding a really great solution.

      4. Annie Oakley*

        I have looking into this but membership for people not in their township is rather pricey. It is an option if I can find anything else!

    3. English, not American*

      Have you exhausted the appeal of Project Gutenberg? Obviously not great for newer releases, but a huge number of expired-copyright ebooks are available there.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Oh, yes, if you want to read classics or weird old books Gutenberg is perfect. I read a lot of 50s scifi there, which is often delightfully strange.

    4. TheMonkey*

      My library uses Hoopla. Also, seconding the suggestion to look at library systems from close-ish, larger areas around you that may have some reciprocity (or rather lax residency restrictions to get a card).

    5. Anono-me*

      Have you checked with your state library?
      Does your library do inter library loan?
      Also Bookbub has free books listed.

    6. Caterpie*

      How do you feel about writing book reviews?

      You can sign up for NetGalley for free and read advanced reader copies of books yet to be published, but you do have to provide a review. It can be short and there’s no expectation of professional reviewing ability. The other catch is that you have to request each book and aren’t guaranteed to be accepted. I find that their selection is pretty good and covers most genres though, and can be sent right to your eReader! I’m not a librarian, blogger, etc and probably get approved for 60% of my requests.

      1. Annie Oakley*

        Ohh interesting! I was recently a beta reader for a novel written by a blogger, so I’ll definitely check into this.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      You can link multiple accounts to Libby, so if you’ve lived other places and still have access to that account info, you might be able to connect it even if it’s no longer an option for physical books.

    8. Imtheone*

      You can join Open Library for free. Some books are immediately available as ebooks. They will also list other libraries to check.

      In my state, you can join the state university library system for a small fee.

    9. Erika22*

      Not free, but scribd is really cost effective if you read a lot! One month of scribd is about the cost of one book anyway, and I easily read 4+ books a month so I definitely get my money’s worth. Though they’re not likely to have the /latest/ releases in ebook format, they usually have really new releases in audiobook format, and books often follow. I haven’t rented an ebook from the library in ages, but last time I did there was a cap on how many people could “check out” an ebook at once due to number of licenses, and that’s not the case with scribd (not sure if it still applies to library ebooks either though!) I’ve discovered some authors and books I really love on scribd that I don’t think I’d have discovered otherwise. Overall I highly recommend. You could always do the free trial and see if it would work for you!

    10. Tessera Member 042*

      Some other suggestions for sourcing free ebooks, although access through apps may not be guaranteed:
      -the Internet Archive’s Books to Borrow collection of “modern ebooks” (vs digitized historical texts), some of which you can download into the Adobe Digital Editions app: https://archive.org/details/inlibrary
      -HathiTrust Digital Library – more targeted towards academics, but a fair number of modern texts as well: https://www.hathitrust.org/
      -The Online Books Page – hosted by UPenn and mostly books pre 1920, but some more recent ones as well: https://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/

  24. Damn it, Hardison!*

    Looking for recommendations for an exercise bike! It’s for my husband and me to get in some exercise at home in the New England winter. I’m not looking for a lot of bells and whistles necessarily, but if there are features that you’ve found helpful, I would love to hear about them. I think a Peleton would be overkill, as neither of us are really interested in the classes/leaderboard stuff. Budget is pretty flexible. Thanks!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just got a small foldable one, Marcy brand, from Amazon. Size wise, it accommodates both me (5’5” 160#) and my husband (6’4” and 240 lbs). It has an odometer, a speedometer, eight resistance levels. I’m a little hesitant to stand up on it to pedal, because I feel like that would make it a little too front-heavy for active pedaling as opposed to something with a longer base, but that’s not something I’ve tested, and it works beautifully seated anyway. It was about $130 – I specifically wanted small and relatively inexpensive in case biking turned out to be a non-starter, but so far it has done everything I’ve asked of it. :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oh, and it took me about ten minutes by myself to assemble it, no assistance needed and all tools and hardware included. I did need to supply the AAA batteries for the display though.

      2. Sunflower*

        Echoing the point about standing up. You really can’t stand on any of the foldable bikes. I looked into a number of them as I’m in a space temporarily but nixed them when I realized you can’t stand as that’s where I like to ride for quite a bite of my workout.

    2. Lcsa99*

      Unfortunately the one we got on Amazon, a foldable one like the commenter above, is no longer available but we are happy with it and I would definitely recommend something similar. The fact that it’s foldable and lightweight means we can move it to vacuum and put it out of sight when we have people over (not currently an issue, but still). We appreciate having an odometer and timer so we can keep track of our progress, and different resistance levels meant that we could make it harder as we got better. Well, I turned it up as I got better, which always surprised my husband when he next used it. :)

    3. Not trying to be rude, just good at it*

      Look on Facebook marketplace for a free or very inexpensive used bike (if you are able to transport it, if not, nevermind). Try it out for awhile to see what you like or dislike about it before making a sizable investment in a new one. I did this with a treadmill and ended up keeping the free one.

  25. Fran*

    Does anyone have exercise channels recommendations? I have been using fitness blender for over 10 years and own most of their programs but I have started getting bored. I like high intensity interval training and weight lifting.

    1. BellaDiva*

      I really like the variety offered by Team Body Project, especially if you get the membership (there is limited free stuff available on YouTube). Also, I love their philosophy, “progress, not perfection”.

    2. Bobina*

      I’m not sure how often they update it but the SELF channel on Youtube has a bunch of HIIT stuff which I’ve done a couple of and enjoyed. Some of them have a lot of repeats though so depends if you’re okay with that.

      I also like Heather Robertson videos but not quite sure I’d class those as HIIT exactly, more just general workout.

        1. Fran*

          Looks like Heather Robertson is what I was looking for. Lots of half an hour workouts and a good variety of Hiit and weight training.

    3. annakarina*

      I used to do Hasfit a lot, and while they are defunct now and have a different execise program going on now, they have a lot of videos going back several years that are mostly HIIT with weights and strength-training. It’s similar to FitnessBlender in that it’s a fitness trainer couple leading it, but they play stock music instead of no music, and it’s challenging and good. I don’t use it anymore because I got bored after a couple of years, but I recommend it for someone new to them.

      I’ve been into Heather Robertson lately. She just plays music with no vocal instruction, mostly club/EDM music that is royalty free and surprisingly not as annoying as I thought (I couldn’t take Chloe Ting videos because of the music) and has a timer ping to switch exercises, which is helpful if I’m not looking at the screen while doing floor work. She uploads twice a week, does a lot of no-repeat stuff, and has a lot of good moderately challenging workouts with HIIT and weights and Pilates/ballet (I could tell from her technique that she has a dance background).

    4. Lst*

      If you are happy to pay a subscription then I can highly recommend the Centr app. Huge range of classes and programs – lots of HIIT and weights options. They do a free week if you want to check it out (and the fb community for it is lovely and helpful too).

    5. Marion Ravenwood*

      Joe Wicks – Body Coach TV on YouTube. He was fairly well known as a fitness/lifestyle influencer here in the UK but really took off in our first lockdown when he started doing ‘PE With Joe’ HIIT videos every weekday. He’s brought them back for the current lockdown and whilst the style can be a bit full-on, it definitely feels like a proper workout! He also did a series called Wake Up With Joe in our second lockdown which is a bit more toned down, and has loads of other HIIT videos on his channel.

      I’ve also recently discovered Rick Bhullar Fitness and Kyra Pro who both have some good stuff. Rick is mostly walking/low impact and Kyra is mostly dance cardio, but both also have some decent HIIT routines. Alternatively, if you’re willing to pay, a friend of mine swears by Trainwright.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Back when I lived on my own (and had co-workers who were GS parents), my record was 18 boxes of thin mints at $3.50.

        Stick them in the freezer, and enjoy during a warm summer night.

        1. Max Kitty*

          Once I had to go to the dentist and told him that my tooth hurt when I had a frozen Thin Mint. He was intrigued–apparently it never occurred to him to freeze Thin Mints. The very best way to eat them!

        2. MissCoco*

          Ooh my best friends growing up were girls scouts and they had a freezer in their basement and there was somehow always one last box of thin mints in there at the end of a long, hot, August day.

          Frozen thin mints taste like childhood adventures

        3. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

          I used to make up a batch of thin mint ice cream cookies every year. I’d soften vanilla bean ice cream and spread it on a cookie sheet and refreeze. Then I cut out circles and put that between two thin mints and refreeze again. Big hit! But crumbled cookie on top of a bowl of ice cream is just as good and takes less time! Haha!
          We freeze all the cookies.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            My sister made a pie crust from the Thin Mints and used it for an ice cream pie. It was to die for!

            Know what else tastes great frozen? Trefoils. It seems to make the cookie even more buttery tasting.

    1. Filosofickle*

      Ours were delivered a couple weeks ago. We’ve already done some damage and are placing a second order >.<

  26. Anona*

    Has anyone used an online counseling app like betterhelp? What has your experience been like? Any tips or recommendations? What was the cost like, and was it covered by insurance at all? We’re interested in both singles and couples counseling. What has scheduling been like? Evenings (after the kid is in bed) would be ideal but may not be realistic. We could maybe do daytime with some juggling.

    My husband and I are going through some issues in our relationship and he also has a really significant, possibly life threatening health issue. We’d each like to have individual counseling and also couples.

    We’re getting on a wait list for a local couples counselor but in general it seems like people are (understandably) swamped.

    Thank you, community!

    1. Natalie*

      My husband used Talkspace briefly. I don’t think they’re actually a very good service, especially for couples counseling. Betterhelp seems slightly better in that they offer more actual sessions for the money, so if you’re bound and determined to try it I’d try that one.

      None of the counselors you connect with through them can diagnose, which means no insurance coverage. If you have insurance, even out-of-network coverage is probably cheaper than these subscription services.

      Something they both obfuscate about is that they are largely asynchronous chat-based programs, not live sessions, and for both companies you have to pay for the most expensive service tier to get any live sessions. A live session is crucial to getting some kind of actual therapeutic benefit – your counselor gets information from your facial expressions, tone of voice, do you hesitate, change the subject, etc. In a couples session, how do you interact with each other? (This is the only reason I would pick Betterhelp over Talkspace, their most expensive tier offer one live session a week for $80, which is a pretty good rate compared to private pay.)

      1. Venus*

        A therapist on the east coast was recently shopping for new insurance and noticed that some plans have copays that are higher than the rates she is being paid by the same companies. So insurance doesn’t guarantee you anything, sadly.

        1. Natalie*

          I’m not sure I understand what you mean.

          My point is that, as long as your copay is less than $80, an in-network therapist will be cheaper than the BetterHelp tier that includes weekly in person sessions. What the insurance company is paying to the provider isn’t really relevant to this comparison.

          1. Venus*

            My comment nested oddly, and was meant as a response to the OP, sorry. It was meant as a comment on what is covered by insurance.

            To clarify, the therapist was looking to renew their own plan and saw that the copay for one insurer was $90 and that insurance was paying the therapists $67, so don’t always trust the insurance’s rates as in that case it would have been cheaper for the client to pay $67 directly. Definitely do research on options, if you can.

      2. Tris Prior*

        That depends on your plan – mine does cover Talkspace as in-network (I have no out of network coverage at all). This is new as of January 2021, maybe a concession to the pandemic? It surprised me, so, worth checking with your plan.

        That being said, I’m a few weeks in and I’m not loving it. I think a lot is lost in the text medium, at least for me. I do like that I can jot down my thoughts whenever I want, and not try to rearrange my workday around a therapy appointment (which was always a problem in the Before Times when I had in-person sessions because my work tends not to respect “unavailable” on our calendars and would schedule mandatory meetings right over my appointments). And, well, before I decided to try Talkspace I contacted a bazillion therapists who were on my insurance and not one of them had any availability at all. Zero. So I suppose it’s better than nothing. I’m going to give it a couple months and see how it goes.

        1. Natalie*

          That is good to know, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was pandemic related. Normally you need a diagnosis billing code (I have so many “adjustment disorders”, the therapist catch all) but I could definitely see some plans deciding to cover these virtual apps right now.

      3. Anona*

        This is really good to know about live sessions! Because the point is definitely to be able to talk via video versus type into a chat box. Thank you for the intel!

        1. Natalie*

          Yeah, I was really disappointed after my husband signed up and we could better see their rate structure. So definitely go with Betterhelp, between the two.

    2. Sleepy*

      I used Talkspace for few months when I was going through a very, very stressful time at work. I wanted something that was as cheap as possible so if you are willing to pay more, you may have a different experience. I did a text-only plan where you can write a message and the therapist responds within 24 hours.

      Con: I expected that the responses would be much swifter. No matter how much I wrote, I only got a response once per day. Sometimes I would write something very very long and only get a sentence in reply, a question asking for more clarification. They did state this when I signed up, but I just had unrealistic expectations based on advertisements, not based on actual research into the service.

      Pro: Through this cycle of me frantically venting and then receiving a response a day later, I realized how much of my frustration naturally drained away with time. While my work stress was still there, sometimes I couldn’t even remember specific trigger that sent me on a downward spiral by the time I received a response. This helped me understand the cycle of stress I was experiencing better.

      I actually ended up downloading a free, automated therapy app called WoeBot and it helped me much more than Talkspace. It’s not set up to tackle really serious issues, but it gave me the kind of instant outlet that helped me calm down from my triggers more successfully. It might be helpful in the short term if you can’t find a therapist right away.

      1. Tris Prior*

        This is my experience too – I write a whole bunch (I at least break it into separate texts so I’m not sending her a Wall Of Text, I can see that being daunting or annoying for an already stretched thin therapist. And then I get a couple sentences in return. Which is frustrating – and a lot of her responses are just like “what you’re feeling is normal, we are all going through a crisis and have never experienced a pandemic before.” Which, OK, but that’s not actually helping me start being more effective at work (my job expects wild innovation and creativity and I just can’t do it) or a more pleasant to be around partner, or a more supportive friend!

        Now that you mention it, I think I too am often a little less bothered by whatever it is, by the time she responds. I guess there is some value in a sympathetic ear, especially when, in these times, those are hard to come by since people in my life are all dealing with financial devastation or cancer or grief and aren’t available for me to vent to.

    3. Sleepy*

      I used Talkspace and I didn’t like it much. I wrote a post explaining why and it…disappeared while I was trying to post? So long story short, an automated therapy app called WoeBot helped me much more and it was free.

  27. WellRed*

    Beauty products question: a few years ago, BB and CC creams were all the rage but now it seems they have mostly disappeared. The one I’ve used is Garnier, but they seem to have changed the formula and now I don’t like it. What has replaced these products or can anyone recommend? I’m 50 with fairly good skin.

    1. RussianInTexas*

      I’ve never warmed up to any of these, since they all seem to be targeting dry skin, and mine is combination/ break out prone. All BB and CC would slide right off my face.
      I’ve stuck to my Clinique Superbalanced foundation, it seem to be working for me.

    2. CTT*

      I never used one so I don’t have any recommendations, but I do have a theory on why they’ve disappeared. Skincare has become such A Thing over the past few years, especially with the explosion of K-beauty products and methods, that’s what companies are directing their production towards. And I think something like a BB cream that isn’t purely a moisturizer seems…not BAD, just like overkill because I’m already moisturizing as part of my morning routine, so why add another moisturizer that may not have specialized benefits like retinol or polypeptides?

      That said, I did find an Elle article from March 2020 that had some recommendations, so it looks like you may still have options!

      1. Reba*

        BB was a trend imported from Korea, too…that is such a trend-driven, innovative (i.e. new releases all the time) space. You are totally right that it has moved away from “one-step product” like bb cream to “10-step routines” with specialized everything!

    3. Coco*

      I really like and often use Saie’s slip tint and Purlisse’s illuminating bb cream. I also have had luck with Nyx’s Bb cream

      Some people really like IT cosmetics’ bye bye foundation but I’ve never been a fan.

    4. Reba*

      I never got on the BB train and have doggedly continued with my tinted moisturizers. :) I use the Nars one religiously and hope to try the matte version when I’m through with my current tube. (Someday, it’s definitely getting less use than pre-2020!) I remember liking the Clinique products, although I haven’t tried long term because I don’t have a color match.

    5. nep*

      I’ll be watching this thread.
      I’m 54 with OK skin. I use Maybelline BB cream, but it’s not the greatest. I use this type product mainly for the sunscreen and I keep getting this one just because it’s the only thing that doesn’t tend to leave smear marks or cake up. Piggybacking on your question, has anyone tried just a tinted sunscreen? Good brands?

      1. LemonLyman*

        EltaMD is great. I’ve specifically enjoyed UV Elements Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 44. It’s a bit pricy for sunscreen but I think of it as a sunscreen and pseudo-makeup because it evens out my skin without being foundation-like. Easy to slap on and go. And the sunscreen is zinc, which is even better!

        ** Disclaimer: you need (on average) a quarter teaspoon of sunscreen to get the SPF that’s advertised, so keep that in mind when purchasing any sunscreen!

    6. Paris Geller*

      As someone relatively into makeup who follows makeup trends for fun–I would say mostly what’s replaced the bb cream/cc cream is just foundation. When bb creams were at their height, most foundations were matte and full coverage, so bb creams offered an alternative. Right now, most new foundations that are being released are more sheer (light to medium coverage) and glowy to satin in finish. If you don’t mind mid/ high-end, I’ve heard good things about the new Urban Decay Hydromaniac Glowy Tinted Hydrator Foundation. For a true bb cream, my go-to is the Missha Perfect Cover BB cream, but that one depends a lot on undertones (it’s definitely not for someone with warm-yellow undertones. . . it pulls almost gray, which is perfect for my very cool fair skin, but a lot of people don’t like that). For something more affordable, I love my Colourpop Pretty Fresh tinted moisturizer, which has a pretty neutral undertone I think would work for most people, and more shades than the Missha.

      1. FoundationRecommendation*

        I agree that the transition from full coverage matte foundation to sheer and glowy foundation being why we see fewer bb/cc creams. I recently switched from Urban Decay Naked Foundation (which is matte, light to medium coverage, although I think it’s fairly heavy as someone who doesn’t wear foundation daily) to Makeup Forever Reboot and really like it. It’s light coverage and meant for dry skin (and I have VERY dry skin), but isn’t “dewey” like some of the newer formulas and some skincare ingredients in it.

      2. WellRed*

        This is really helpful. I can definitely check out foundation. Haven’t used in eons but if the formulations are improved…

        1. DistantAudacity*

          Oh yes – the formulations are massively improved, but also different from each other. So if one type or brand does not work for you, don’t give up :) instead, try to notice what you liked/didn’t like, and tell the salesperson/watch out for in reviews.

          Also – for the really longwear foundation types (Fenty, Charlotte Tilbury and similar) there may be a slight trick to application (read: don’t overwork, and let it rest a little bit) that you may need to adjust to.

    7. Helvetica*

      As someone who has never used foundation and finds even BB creams to be too heavy, CC creams are a heavensend which do it for me. I use Erborian’s CC cream and I really enjoy how seemlessly it blends into my face and it’s very much a “your face but better” type of product for me. The downside might be that it’s quite expensive and it only has three shades, so it’s not necessarily accessible for all. But it’s truly the only one I have enjoyed using.

        1. MissCoco*

          Sokoglam is a US-based company which sells Korean beauty products, looks like they have erborian and Missha BB/CC creams (under Shop all > Makeup & SPF)

          I’ve used Missha BB before, and liked it, though they don’t have many shades so it’s only a good match for me in the depths of winter

    8. HamlindigoBlue*

      I really like Tarte’s Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer. It has SPF 20, comes in 7 shades (one fortunately matached my annoyingly pale skin), and it works really well for me. When I started using it a few years ago, it was the only tinted moisturizer Tarte had, but now they have the Maracuja Tinted Moisturizer (20 shades available) that I really want to try the next time I go to Ulta.

    9. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I like Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue, which is a tinted moisturizer with SPF. It’s lighter than a typical foundation but provides nice, natural coverage. I get it at Sephora.

    10. Lucette Kensack*

      I’ve never been clear on exactly what BB or CC creams are, but I’ve been using Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment and it seems like much the same thing: a cream that has some skin benefits and provides light smoothing coverage.

  28. Teapot Translator*

    Following the contest post this week, I had one question: what’s with American workplaces and chili? And is it the same as chili con carne? I saw a few replies about chili contests and I wondered why it was so popular.

    1. RussianInTexas*

      Chili con carne is specifically beef chili without beans but with tomatoes, just chili can be made of various meats, no meats at all, with or without beans, tomatoes, etc.
      I am in Texas so yes, chili is the state food, every cook off will feature it.

    2. CTT*

      I genuinely think “ease of bringing to work” is a big part of this. You can make it the night before, bring it to work, stick it in a slow-cooker set to the lowest setting all morning so it stays warm without over-cooking. It doesn’t require fridge space, or being cooked immediately before eating.

      It’s also something that has a base set of main ingredients that you can make variations to, which makes it easy to create a contest around. It’s traditionally ground beef and chili powder, usually with beans and/or tomatoes, and you can go wild from there.

    3. Gramsas*

      Yep, chili is chili con carne.
      It’s popular because it’s so varied, and it can be served in any portion size desired. And everybody has a “secret” that makes theirs the best!

      1. Coenobita*

        My (not very) secret chili “ingredient” is to serve it with Tostitos “hint of lime” chips – crumble them in top, eat it like a dip, whatever. One time I won a work chili contest and I think it was like 50% because of the chips :)

    4. Reba*

      As a sidebar, I recommend the Sporkful podcast episode about Cincinnati style chili from a couple years back!

      1. Filosofickle*

        My family’s originally from there and I ate a fair bit of Cincinnati chili as a child. A totally different beast! It’s not something I want all the time but every so often I get these cravings….

        1. Reba*

          It’s what I grew up on, so it was hilarious to me to hear the host, Dan, talking about it like it was so CrAzY with the noodles and the cinnamon…

          1. Filosofickle*

            It’s true it used to be REALLY hard to explain! It does sound unlike anything most folks have had especially 20+ years ago. Chili…on spaghetti…with cinnamon and piles of cheese. Oh, and oyster crackers! However, I find it easier today because our palates have expanded. Greek and middle eastern influences are so common, at least where I am, that it’s no longer weird to combine cinnamon and meat. Now I kind of think of it as a Greek bolognese. (I’m strictly 3-way. No beans or onions! And we’re a Skyline fam.) I used to buy the packets and make it up every so often. Wonder if I still have one…

    5. Sylvan*

      I’m not quite sure! It’s a regional thing, and not popular where I live (we do barbecue). But there are local and family recipes and a lot of people know how to make it, so it’s a popular go-to.

      1. Sylvan*

        PS my family’s recipe is vegetarian and the meat one is weird?? I always think chili is primarily black beans and kidney beans until this other thing appears.

    6. Blue Eagle*

      Chili and chili con carne are not necessarily the same thing. In Italian “con” means “with” and “carne” means “meat”, so if you are buying chili con carne in a can from the grocery store you are buying chili with meat.
      When I lived in Milwaukee you could get chili 5 ways – order any or all of these items and if you ordered all 5 it was a Marquette (for Marquette University)
      1- meat
      2- beans
      3- noodles
      4- onions
      5- cheese
      By far and away the oddest thing for me was the noodles that you could order in the chili, but WOW was the 5-way chili tasty!

    7. PollyQ*

      Chili is sometimes the same as chili con carne — there are plenty of recipes that are bean only, and also ones that call for chicken or turkey, which I believe doesn’t count as “carne”.

    8. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I think it depends a little bit on where you are writing from. For example, what many restaurants in Germany call “chili con carne” … is not. It’s not bad quality, necessarily, but in my opinion chili has to actually have some sort of chili peppers in it. And not be ketchup sweet. Or served over plain white rice.

      I certainly HOPE your chili con carne is the same or similar to what Americans call chili, because that stuff is amazing.

    9. AcademiaNut*

      Also – chili is one of those things like barbecue which has a very different meaning depending on if you’re in a region where it’s popular or out of it. In some regions of the US, there are very strong opinions about what should or shouldn’t be in chili, and how it’s made, outside chili is a stew made with some combination of beans, meat, peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic and chili powder (a spice blend). Likewise with barbecue – if you’re in barbecue territory, the term does not mean “things cooked on a grill with premade BBQ sauce” but a specific type of slow, smoky cooking off of direct heat (with strong regional opinions about the sauce).

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Chili is one of those things my friends with food allergies avoid, because a lot of people put in unexpected ingredients for ‘spicing “. Cinnamon, cardamon, beer, chocolate, even peanuts.

  29. Firebird Rising From the Ashes*

    When my ex is unhappy, it cheers him up to make other people feel unhappy. When I pointed it out, it made him even happier.

    I can’t block him because we have kids and have to occasionally communicate. I usually go Grey-Rock and that bothers him so he escalates. As long as he thinks I am unhappy that seems to make him ignore me, so when I have to talk to him, I complain about my life. I am happy and have a good life, but it’s better for me if he doesn’t know that.

    Well, I forgot to complain enough and he’s at it again. Now “due to pending legislation from Washington” he is going to give my name to the police unless I give him something he wants. It’s a threat, but he can try to twist it around and claim he is only doing it out of concern. He isn’t emotionally stable and doesn’t cooperate with with his counselor, but probably won’t physically hurt me because he is also a coward. If he did call the police, it would be aggravating and an inconvenience, and I wouldn’t get in trouble because I haven’t done anything wrong. He also threatened it a year ago and didn’t follow through, then. I wonder if this is going to happen every February because that’s the divorce anniversary. (My mother sends me a “Happy Divorcery” card with cash.)

    How do I get out of the emotional spiral when he deliberately provokes me? I don’t reply to him, but I can’t block him. I have so much I want to say to him, but none of it would help and it would only encourage him to keep doing it. Thanking him for his concern would be snarky. I tried framing it as “he does this because he is jealous that I have a happy life without him and something must be going wrong in his own life.” That helps a bit, but I still bounce between anxiety (what will he do next) and anger because I keep remembering everything he has already put me through. I wish he would forget about me and complain to his new wife.

    How do you get out of a negative spiral when someone deliberately tries to upset you and you know that they will keep doing it forever? As far as I know, I’m his only target. It’s unnerving to know that someone hates me so much.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      On the police issue – could you get in front of him by calling them yourself and explaining that your ex is threatening to harass you by telling them XYZ and what options are there for you to head this off at the pass?

      On the rest – maybe filter his emails to a folder (set the kids’ names as an exception?) and tell him not to contact you any way other than email unless the kids are actually with him and there’s an emergency, then block at least some of the other contact methods. That way you can only look at his emails when you’re in a brain space to do so, or can even get someone else to preview them for you and only pass on actual relevant info. Set his phone number to a silent ringtone or straight to voicemail unless it’s a kid-swap day or the kids are with him, turn off notifications on his texts, block him on Facebook/Twitter/etc.

    2. fposte*

      This sounds like a situation that would benefit from a counseling take—is that a possibility?

      Having to stay in communication because of the kids obviously complicates things. Is there a possibility of a tool like Our Family Wizard, where all communications have to go through the court-accessible portal? Can you block him temporarily when it looks like a flare-up is happening rather than permanently? Can you ask him with thoughtful concern what Newwife’s thoughts are on every problem he raises? Otherwise I think your Sad Sack tactic is probably an astute one; maybe you can consider him the audience for problems that are too petty to complain about elsewhere.

      I’m sorry; it’s a lot to be tied to for years. I’m glad at least your life seems to be going well otherwise, and I promise not to tell him.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You have kids who see him?
      Yep, as far as you know he only treats you this way. This is what he wants you to think. Stuff like this does not get directed at just one person, this is a life style for him and I’d bet my last chocolate donut that he treats others in a similar fashion.
      I suspect he will do to the kids similar things as to what he has said/done with you.
      You probably could benefit from counseling to build a strategy here and maybe benefit from an attorney.

      I am not clear on what he could go to the police about, but you seem pretty collected about the matter. If I knew I was on solid ground, then I’d just go to the police first and say, “Hey, someone is going to try to file a false report about me and I want to give you the backstory.”
      Then tell him what you did… or not and let him just gloat while you know you are okay on the police matter.

      Be sure to keep all emails and take screenshots of conversations you are having with him.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      I am so sorry you’re going through this.
      Please – you need to build a support team for yourself. Ideally, you should have a therapist, a lawyer and an intermediary between you and him. Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 because this is domestic violence stuff. They are the experts on this.
      Your situation breaks my heart. Huge internet hugs.

    5. Firebird Rising From the Ashes*

      I don’t answer the phone so he has to text or email. It’s nice to be able to just hand my phone to my lawyer.

      He complains to everyone, if he can’t get praise, he goes for sympathy. I seem to be the only one who he feels safe enough to threaten. I was his emotional anchor until I found out he was cheating on me. He’s mad that I wouldn’t stay married and let him keep the girlfriend (now wife). We tried counseling but he didn’t want to change anything about himself, he just wanted me to be more submissive as well as letting him keep his girlfriend.

      It’s frustrating to have to kowtow to his ego to keep the peace. He’s really not worth the effort, but I do it for my kids.

      I’m really just looking for ways to let go of the stress when I hear from him and go back to forgetting that he exists.

      1. Firebird Rising From the Ashes*

        I’m thinking about talking to the police but haven’t decided yet.

        Your suggestions to come up with strategies made me think of possible responses, instead of ignoring the texts. I’ve just changed his name in my contacts to “Is That A Threat? That sounds like a threat.” That way I’ll have a built-in reminder to call his bluff and I don’t have to waste mental energy on remembering to do it.

        1. ..Kat..*

          Can you talk to your lawyer about his threats and a possible response (Some sort of cease and desist? Please note that IANAL.) Would you be able to petition for full custody based on his threats?

          1. tangerineRose*

            I hope you can get full custody. Someone who treats you this way might not be treating the kids well, either.

    6. Hang in there*

      I had a boss like this.
      One thing that helped sometimes was compassion. As in, feeling sorry for him that he had to act this way. It helped a little, sometimes, with the anger I felt to be treated the way he treated me.

      1. Generic Name*

        I’m glad this helped you. I’d like to point out that people who treat others this way do so because they can. How did your boss treat his boss? I bet he didn’t abuse them.

        1. J*

          He was too smart for his boss, did some stuff that insulated himself. BTW, lest anyone think i was soft, the compassion really was just feeling sorry for him that he had to be such a jerk. But i was also very angry the rest of the time. Sigh.

    7. J.B.*

      I’m sorry. People have recommended Our Family Wizard and to only communicate through the app. I would also contact a local domestic abuse group to see what advice they have.

    8. Dan*

      For me, I learned to accept that I cannot make people do something they don’t want to do (or stop them from doing something they want to do.) I can’t explain how, but I pretty much trained myself just to ignore it. And do not do not do not engage.

      Keep in mind, though, that once the kids reach the age of maturity, you probably can cut off all comms with your ex.

      As for the anxiety, if you’re an anxious person in general, that’s probably one set of responses, but if this is the only thing that gets you anxious, then one thing you can do to gain some control over this is start making plans to deal with the “reasonably likely” bad outcomes. For example, if he’s likely to cause legal trouble for you, you really do need to have a lawyer ready to call. I realize finances may be an issue, but again, if it’s likely you will need legal assistance, you definitely need to know who to call… make that plan now while you have a clear(er) head, and have the time to find the right person. If you wait and pick a lawyer in a hurry, you could get a bad or unhelpful one.

      If he’s likely to come by your place late at night, have pepper spray handy (or something appropriate, given the kids).

      In these ways, you can do somethings to gain meaningful control over your situation, instead of just sitting there going crazy, wondering what he’ll do next. That gives *him* control, and that’s what he wants.

    9. Generic Name*

      My ex stopped sending me abusive and harassing texts and emails when I demanded (and got it put into a court order) that we only communicate via Talking Parents. I also only discuss topics related to coparenting with him. Nothing else. I told him my boundary once and have enforced it ever since. I know it bothers him, and he’ll tell people I am not speaking to him (even if we literally communicated about something the day before). If he says something like that to someone who matters (like a judge or mediator), I will say “that is a mischaracterization, I last sent you a message on x date”. I have stuck to my boundaries and enforced them. He has raged and tried to bully me, and brought our son into the middle, and as a result of his behaviors, I now have full custody of our son.

      It’s a long road and will take a ton of strength on your part, but the good news is you’ve escaped the toxic person! Here are some books that have helped me: Why Does He Do That?, Splitting, Will I Ever be Free of You?, and Healing from Hidden Abuse. I also recommend therapy from someone who specializes in healing from toxic people/abuse/trauma.

      1. Blackcat*

        Yes, a friend went through something similar and by court order all communication goes through Our Family Wizard.

      2. Generic Name*

        And I’ll be honest, I’m still recovering. Reading what I wrote is weird for me because it almost feels like it happened to someone else and couldn’t possibly describe something that happened to me.

    10. allathian*

      Sounds like he’s awful enough that you should look into denying him access to your kids. Then you wouldn’t have to have anything to do with him ever again.

      Just watch out that he doesn’t turn your kids against you.

      1. Generic Name*

        One parent turning the kids against the other parent is a form of child abuse called parental alienation. Courts take it very seriously (it’s why my ex no longer has custody of our son) and it also has a tendency to backfire on the alienating parent. If the OP has reason to believe that her kid’s dad is doing this, it’s time to contact a lawyer. And she may still have to interact with her ex, unfortunately. While I have full custody, my ex and I still share some decision making, so I do have to be in contact with him, even if I’d rather not.

    11. Female-type person*

      I sometimes work with public agencies who have no choice but to deal with angry or unreasonable people or, in some cases people who may be unstable for whatever reason. There are people like your ex who get a big thrill out of being rude and demanding and giving ultimatums and demanding explanations, and “how do you justify” etc. My advice (which may also help you) is to SLOW DOWN the response rate; an immediate answer lights up the pleasure center in their brain and rewards the provoking behavior. If you reply only to the part that is relevant to the children, but at the rate of response in first class mail (which is within the limits of professionalism and politeness) not the rate of reply of instant messaging, it will be defensible but much less fun for him. I would reply to him, using the fewest words possible, in as limited a way as possible, 48 to 72 hours after a communication. Gradually, you will become a less attractive, less rewarding target.

  30. Anon5775*

    Foot problems anyone? I’ve struggled with plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis in both feet for years. I have a night splint, orthotics, and recently found a tight sleeve that’s like a toeless sock that’s supposed to mimic athletic tape and give support. I do some stretches but don’t feel like they help a ton. Advice for me? I’ve also been to a podiatrist and have had x-rays and an mri. Trying to avoid surgery but if you’ve had any surgeries that have worked, please share. I get different surgery recommendations with every podiatrist, so it’s confusing! Thanks in advance!

    1. Teapot Translator*

      Hey, I had plantar fasciitis for years. I already wore orthotics, so I changed my shoes (not enough support from the winter boots), I bought a night splint and had one cortisone injection. The pandemic hit, I was forced to stop all physical exercise (my podiatrist was very happy), but I still had pain from walking to the supermarket. So I bought specialty compression socks (prescribed by the podiatrist) and wore them every day for months. Now, I’m back doing short walks/hikes (for which I wear the socks) and exercising at home and I’ve avoided jumps. So that’s my experience with plantar fasciitis.
      Have you tried/has the podiatrist suggested a cortisone injection?

      1. Grim*

        Wife bought me a pack of six socks that has extra padding just in the insole and they cured my plantar fasciitis, that I had been dealing with for over two years, within two weeks.

        I wore these socks exclusively until they wore out and could not find them again at the Target where she bought them. Went back to wearing normal socks and have had no problems for the past 15 years.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      My mom has had foot problems for years, including plantar fasciitis. Been to the podiatrist a ton, had quite a few prescribed insoles, even bunion surgery. She recently got physical therapy and it helped a TON. She can actually walk around barefoot now! She didn’t even go that many times, just paid attention to the exercises and started doing them at home. So I’d definitely give that a go before trying something more invasive.

    3. fposte*

      Physical therapy for sure. I also had tremendous results with an ugly monstrosity called the Foot Log, available on Amazon; my nerves tend to get too freaked out for myofascial work to help, and this thing just reset my foot.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, spiky massage things! Magic.

        Anon5775, when I was dancing a lot I was taught that the backs of the legs and feet are connected to the whole backline of the body, and I’ve anecdotally found it to be true that tension or decreased mobility in the back correlates with pulling or tightness in the lower legs and feet. I wonder if doing more full body stretching working on the back and buttocks, in combination with the foot-focused stretching could help you make some progress.

        1. ronda*

          I would also recommend more stretching and you have to keep doing it. That seems to have helped the most for me.
          Luckily I like my yoga classes.

          It still flairs up, but is much better when I am regularly doing my yoga classes.

      2. lapgiraffe*

        I’ve got a spikey foot roller thing and it’s nice, though I’m never sure if it does anything. I really have to work on stretching my calf muscles to avoid PF flare ups, whether it’s various runner’s stretches, massage, or some myofascial release with the lacrosse ball. I also find that foam rolling my quads and hamstrings helps release knee tension, which also then helps my calf stretching. I also try to do heel raises on the steps.

    4. Sylvan*

      Physical therapy helped my mom. Still does help her, actually. She has plantar fasciitis and broke her foot a few years ago.

      1. Blomma*

        Yup, I broke my ankle and developed plantar fasciitis symptoms in that foot. Physical therapy helped a ton.

    5. PollyQ*

      What helped me was stretching and where possible, massaging, my foot & arch every single time before I stood up. Whether I’d been in bed all night or just sitting for a few minutes, I’d at least do some point/flex repetitions, massage my instep, or roll my foot over a nubby ball. I feel like that made more difference in the plantar fasciitis than the night splints or socks.

    6. Spcepickle*

      Also doubling down on way more stretching and PT. I would stretch my calf on ever stair I came to, it took weeks, but no more pain.

    7. willow for now*

      Mine sort of disappeared after a couple years of never walking barefoot. Gym shoes on the beach, thongs in the shower, supportive shoes in karate. I had really archaic splints for sleeping, but that seemed to exacerbate the problem – all that stretching kept them constantly irritated, so I quit with the splints after a month.

    8. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I’ve had it twice. Invest in a foot rocker! Helps do all the stretching! There are videos out there on foot rocker stretches for PF!

  31. Bday ideas for mom*

    My mom turns 64 this week. She lives in town and has been part of our family’s COVID bubble, so visits are OK. No restaurants or indoor experiences (Eg spas etc).

    Gift ideas? Ways to celebrate? Special dinner at home ideas (take-in)? Budget up to $500. It’s been a hard year for her, and she’s been a huge help with our Young kids.

    1. CTT*

      Definitely get her dinner from somewhere! The one silver lining to this is that so many restaurants have really ramped up and/or improved how they do takeout and made it very easy to coordinate. I don’t know what your regular budget is, but if you can and you think she would appreciate it, I would suggest getting takeout for her more regularly as a thank you for helping out with your kids.

      1. CJM*

        I second this. I’m in my 60s and not going into restaurants. But I love getting take-out with curbside delivery. It hasn’t lost its luster after all these months.

    2. Max Kitty*

      Maybe an at-home scavenger hunt with a bunch of little prizes along the way, and at the end a nice card telling her how much you appreciate her? And some at-home pampering (bath bomb, wine/tea/coffee/hot chocolate, snacks, book/audiobook/magazines, crossword/Sudoku/mind puzzle book, cozy socks).

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I love the idea of a fancy take out dinner and an at-home spa kit. The options Max Kitty listed are great, but you can also add the option of face masks and/or a massage roller.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You know your mom’s setting the best. Some older women around me tell me they are thrilled when an adult child picks up a bill and just pays it in full as a present for them. One person has their cell phone paid for this way. That same person was having their trash pick up also paid in full for a while. Another person has an adult grandchild who takes them grocery shopping- loads the cart with way too many staples and then picks up the bill.
      Other gifts have been yard work, snow removal or new tires.

      The relief of having these basics taken care of is beyond measure for some people.

    4. MissCoco*

      Really nice bath stuff.
      If she likes cocktails I think a Shaker and Spoon has been my favorite really indulgent gift I’ve ever received.

      A really fancy dinner, either take out or make something a bit over the top at home (if you enjoy cooking together). I’d do all the prep work and cleaning.

      If there is anything you think she’d like but never get for herself, those are always the best gifts. I’m buying my mom linen sheets for her birthday this year, but I also chipped in a couple years ago to get her a nice snowblower that she wanted but didn’t “need”

    5. Emily Elizabeth*

      If she’s an activities person, I’ve seen a lot of great in-home options this past year for your bubble to have a special experience! I’ve been perusing for bachelorette parties because of a friend doing one with her bubble, so not quite the same, but there are at-home kits now with virtual sessions for Painting with a Twist type art sessions or making your own candles or lipstick. If it’s up her alley you can do a special chocolate or wine tasting, or even on your own make a fancy charcuterie board.

    6. Another JD*

      If she’s comfortable with it, $500 would cover a full deep clean of her house. We were gifted a year of house cleaning upon the birth of our daughter and it was one of the best gifts.

  32. I've been thinking dontcha know*

    Bit of an existential Q that I’ve been wondering about lately

    When you think about ‘who you are’- is it the personal you are internally or the person you project to the world? This Q came up when I realized that internally, I’m quite sassy and can get heated easily. However, I’m also a people pleaser so when a situation like this arises with people, I tend to back down very easily to people with differing opinions. I guess I can be both of course. But it brought up the bigger question of all these things we want to be and think we can yet have issues actually being them externally.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I hit that moment in life where I decided that my external had to match up more with my internal. A reconciliation of sorts. Your paragraph here strikes me as familiar to my own thoughts.

      My suggestion to you is to look at the topics. You may find that some issues make you stand at attention. Other issues draw a different reaction. I ended up with a hodge-podge that did not make sense EXCEPT for the fact that I seemed to be quite consistent about it. Some of my hodge-podge included: I did not care if someone had a messy house. (Opposite of what my family taught.) But I had no problem reporting people who abuse animals and children. (Opposite of my family, again.) I enjoy well made things on the same level that I enjoy a bargain. (This seems mutually exclusive, but it’s actually not.)
      I think if you go item by item you might find yourself smiling more at your own self because you will find that you do have consistencies in your choices. It’s just that you never thought about that much before.

    2. Asenath*

      Personal me. I don’t particularly feel that I need to display Personal Me externally – sometimes I do, of course, but I take it for granted I can use Anonymous but Polite Me in public places (and not-so Anonymous Me when dealing with businesses or services where I’m known, like medical appointments, hobby groups and volunteer work, when possible), Professional Me when I’m working (with a couple variations depending on which co-workers or clients I’m interacting with) and so on. I don’t think I’ve ever had any issues with being who I am externally, although of course, I’ve sometimes behaved in a way that is not what I want to be, and had to learn from that. And I’ve tinkered with my low-key Anonymous but Polite Me when I realized that if I didn’t want to be walked over by some people, I could adapt and become Polite but No Nonsense Me (think some female authority figure from your youth) by shifting my speech patterns and posture a little. But these are all part of the real internal me.

      I eventually figured out that I didn’t need to persuade everyone to share my views, so now I think “Well, it takes all kinds” instead of “I’m going to back down and challenge this person”.

    3. Yellow Warbler*

      My real self is nothing like my family self or my work self. I don’t have a problem with that. Everyone understands that public figures/celebrities need to maintain a persona to protect themselves, but then we turn around and act like the general public needs to be our Authentic Selves at all times. I wear whatever face I need to wear for the occasion, and feel no qualms about it.

      If I were someone who had issues being assertive when necessary, I might feel differently. I’m naturally aloof and indifferent to peer pressure, but it takes concentrated effort to be the right amount of warm/engaging because I tend to shut down in a crowd. I’m an intensely loyal friend behind the scenes, but being surface-level friendly to people I don’t know well is playing a role. My nature is be blunt, but I turn that off with everyone except my husband and my bestie.

      That said, I can tell as I age and lose ****s to give that my real self is leaking out more than it used to, and that ends up being good in some situations and bad in others.

      1. nep*

        I can tell as I age and lose ****s to give that my real self is leaking out more than it used to
        This definitely resonates.
        So, so few ****s to give. Life’s too short.

      2. allathian*

        I hear you on this. The idea of “bring your whole self to work” gives me hives. Trust me, you don’t want me to bring my whole self to work!

        I wear multiple masks and I’m pretty good at code-switching, although as a white cishet woman I realize that I don’t have to do this nearly to the extent that some other people do.

        I’ve had to tone down my bluntness sometimes, but luckily I’m in an environment where a degree of bluntness is expected and acceptable even when the person being blunt is female and an IC rather than a manager.

    4. Loopy*

      Today I realized my sense of self depends more on location than I understood. I tend to be loud and excitable where I volunteer, super cheerful and more talkative than normal. Today I told a new employee that I was an acquired taste. I usually come in all excited about something, talking at a thousand miles a minute and I think that can be overwhelming to people at first, but eventually they seem to come to get used to it is all I meant. She responded with uh, I…. Don’t know how to take that?

      I realized I didn’t know myself, I’d never said it about myself, or thought it about myself and wasn’t even sure it was accurate. I am absolutely not remotely “an acquired taste” in my normal workplace for sure, much more polished and professional (still cheery, but very much toned down) Cue my own existential crisis!

      What’s more I’m not really sure what I meant by it, except that I’m very much loud and excitable and I know it’s really not everyone’s thing (we are only in a shared starting /ending point for about 20 minutes maybe 30 total over the course of a single shift once a week so I’m never forcing this on anyone for prolonged periods or while they are working)

      Anyway it definitely me wondering which version is myself is most authentic. Because this version only exists to this extent in that one place, yet its a place where I have few constraints like a paid workplace does!

    5. ....*

      I guess I think my external and internal match up pretty well. Obviously some situations require holding back 100% authenticity but yeah I feel they are the same

    6. lily*

      When I think about who I am, it’s both. Who I am is a lot of different things. I show different parts of myself in different situations, with different people, but who I am is all of those. The parts of me that are who I am at my core, in my head, in my values, I do show the world. Just a small very trusted part of the world, or partially there, but with a more outgoing and confident part of me. When I’m asked who I am, I answer with who I project to the world.

  33. Lifelong student*

    Yarn crafts thread- what’s on your hook, needles, or loom this week?

    I did a Lark’s Foot crochet lapghan. The stitch uses 2 row stripes of 3 colors in succession which usually means tons of ends to weave in- but I decided to carry the yarn loosely up the side. That meant a small border was needed- but almost no ends to weave! Now I’m working on a Frank O’Randle pattern I forgot I had. His mini patterns make great smaller items like baby blankets or lapghans- his larger ones are bedspread size!

    1. Susie*

      As it will be for the next few months… my 5yo’ baby blanket. This is my second attempt as I make a mistake with the first that will prevent me from seeing the panels together.

      However my big yarn project right now is decluttering and organizing my yarn stash and tools. I’m keeping most of my yarn, but I got interchangeable needles last year and upgraded to coco knits cable needles and stitch markers that attach to a magnetic bracelet. So a lot of tools to give away. I want to do knitting classes for people in my neighborhood. A neighbor tried to start a knitting group a couple of years ago…there was more interest in learning how to knit than people who could join the group. Neighbor and I were in the process of planning a learn to knit session (where I was hoping to give away a lot of my extra stuff) when everything shut down…

    2. Wishing You Well*

      My neighbors had a baby during quarantine! Didn’t even know they were expecting!
      I’m trying to knit up a baby blanket so fast, my needles are smokin’!

    3. HamlindigoBlue*

      I am still plugging away at this intarsia cardigan test knit that I volunteered for. I did absolutely nothing with it last week, so I need to step it up in order to finish it by the deadline. Getting it done by the deadline shouldn’t be a problem, and I downloaded a new audiobook to listen to as I work on it. The back is done, and I’m currently working on the sides. I could probably finish it this weekend.

    4. TX Lizard*

      I just ordered one of the learn-to-knit scarf kits from Knit Picks. I have knitted a tiny bit in the past but I need that kind of activity back in my life. I got overwhelmed looking at yarn and needles, so I decided to get a kit and go from there.

    5. Might Be Spam*

      I finished a knitted 10-stitch afghan and now I found a crochet border that will look like the chain-effect where the 10-stitch pieces are joined. I work on it during Skype calls to keep my hands busy.

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      My thanks to all the folks on here who have been talking about needle arts this year of home-ness. I finally have (after a month+ of various dishcloths) stepped it up and started the baby blanket crochet.

      It’s the bernat giant ball baby blanket yarn – almost a chenille feel? I am doing an ultra-simple pattern (thanks to a video tutorial from a boy “Jonah’s Hands”).

      I had been struggling with getting sides even, and finally figured out my own method of squaring up the sides. It is probably the same as what the printed pattern is “trying” to say but learning on my own, I was bumpy and wavy until now.

      And I have only had to rip it out once (4 inches) and start over. The pattern is so simple it’s a lot like a giant dishcloth – perfect. Big hook, big yarn, and probably I can finish in a week. I hope.

      Thank you again to AAM/ Alison and all the happy yarn folks. This really is relaxing.

      PS: I do (when camera is off) hook away during “some” conference calls during the week… it is my “fidget spinner” and much more productive than the doodling or mind wandering I ‘was’ doing.

    7. The New Wanderer*

      I’m hoping to finish my seed stitch ‘quarantine blanket’ by mid March, which is about when I started it. I have about 6 more inches to go, but it’s so big and on small needles (size 10 circular) so each row takes about 30 min to complete. It’s really heavy now too and hard to move from place to place, so I’m limited to working on it during work calls that I’m not actively engaging in. Will be about 6’x7’ when it’s done!

      In the meantime I played with some jumbo sized chenille yarn I found on sale and made a smaller color blocked blanket to go over my desk chair using size 25 needles. That one went so quickly by comparison! It’s cozy and soft but will probably be too warm to keep there in a few months.

    8. I Want To Go Outside.*

      I’m working on a pandemic balaclava, designing it on the needles. It’s a slouchy beanie at the crown, with a small rectangular eye gap and then close fitting round the nose and mouth to hold a mask firmly in place. I have this insanely coloured sparkly yarn from the Countess Ablaze yarn club. I want it to be completely OTT femmey with a pom pom and bobbles on the hem. I have no idea whether it will work or not, but it’s going to be a lot of fun working it out.

  34. Sunflower*

    Do you guys feel like therapy is helping you through the pandemic?

    I’ve been seeing my therapist for 5 years and have continued virtual sessions through the pandemic. I have always had anx iety but my sessions pre-coivd focused on my relationships issues. Right now, I am definitely struggling with everyday stuff more than usual- feeling like my life has been put on delay, won’t be able to get out of my job that I hate, isolation, etc. She just keeps reassuring me that lots of people are feeling like this and it’s normal- I guess she is trying to make me feel like I’m not alone but I’m just not finding it helpful. Normally I feel like she gets what I’m saying and is helpful/constructive but it just feels like I’m venting. I considered stopping for a bit but at the same time, I’m struggling more day to day than I’ve ever been before so it seems odd to stop.

    Anyone felt this way during this? I’ve tried medication in the past but didn’t feel like it helped and TBH, it’s especially tough to see people who are new to therapy going on meds and it fixing their mood right away.

    1. fposte*

      It could be she’s not right for you, or not right for you during this time. But it may also be with explicitly saying that you feel like she’s focusing a lot on validating emotions you don’t need validation for, and you’d like to talk about ways to feel better instead.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Not a direct answer but something I have used on my own self: Making a list of things I cannot do, does not help me. When I start to say, “Okay what CAN I do given my current setting?” that is when I start feeling a tiny bit better.
      Us human beings do not do well with a long list of constraints. Loss of power, loss of our autonomy is a bfd. When we start looking at what we can do atm, we start to take back our power and autonomy.

    3. OyHiOh*

      I started therapy about two years ago as specific grief counseling. It’s gradually evolved to be more whole life, as grief (and the depression and anxiety along with it) is less intense now than when I started. My therapist is fairly behavioral in approach: Yes, life feels like mother nature hit a pause button and that sucks in a whole bunch of different ways. Ok, what parts can you (I) control? I’ve been in a rut of not speaking with friends (not calling, not chatting on line . . . . ) so therapist has been on my case about re establishing those connections.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        OyHiOh… sending a hug. Me too. The therapist did not ask me to or suggest it, but I did start trying to reach back out to people with written notes, especially ones that I felt had lapsed too long. If they don’t reply, so be it, but every few days, I have a card w/ letter setting to go “out” and I know I am doing my part to reach out. For the middle layer, those I used to be in better touch with, and just struggling with how to be positive – I am sending a text with a meaningful picture (me, me with dog, maybe my latest attempt at a hobby, if I know they are interested….). You do such great artwork and things?

        I also have been setting up zoom coffees to have a cup of tea or coffee and say hello.
        We are sometimes in the same place, you and I – I hope you are doing well?

        1. OyHiOh*

          I am better than I once was, but it’s an odd thing. The more work i do on myself, the more I am aware of how neurologically sick I was before.

          There was a piece of rebar caught up in the guardrails of an overpass I go over on my daily commute and seeing that object sticking out of the railing reminded me of my previous relationship with bridge-like objects and that I haven’t had those thoughts – “it would be so easy, to just let the car . . . . . drift” – in a very long time, when they used to dominate my awareness every time I drove.

          I’ve had to make a lot of hard decisions along the way and pandemic living absolutely destroyed what little confidence I had in myself for many months. But I am better than I once was, and that’s progress.

    4. MissCoco*

      I wonder if it would be helpful to ask your therapist for something a bit different? Even in very good therapeutic relationships there have been times when I’ve had to ask for more advice/directives/homework.
      I did find switching to video visits wasn’t great for my therapy relationship either.

      I actually quit therapy in the middle of COVID (due to moving outside the state my therapist is licensed in), and I am really missing it, but I would find it very frustrating to be told it’s normal to feel awful in this situation, since I do therapy to feel better, not for validation of my feelings.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      I’ve continued phone sessions through the pandemic and I think it’s useful. Heck, it’s good to talk to ANYONE while quarantining! But some therapists aren’t a good fit. You might need a new one but, given the pandemic, you might consider staying with this one until Covid eases up and you can try a new therapist in person. It’s okay to vent, if it helps. Progress is tougher with virtual or phone sessions.
      P.S. Meds help some but they’re not the miracle we all wish they were. And, oy, the side effects… Therapy and homework like DBT got me to a better place.
      Very Best Wishes for better times ahead

    6. JC Books*

      I have been with my therapist for years. We have done virtual for the last year due to Covid. She always has something for me to work on until the next visit.
      I am blessed that she is not just a listener that repeats back what I said.
      During the pandemic, we have worked on tangible strategies to reduce my stress. I love to read so she often has an article about something I have been working on. We discuss it in regards to my situation. It often is a starting point for a deep discussion depending on my questions or reactions. She has something prepared each time. Depending on how I am feeling, I ask questions and start a discussion or she refers back to something that is helpful for me.
      I would tell her how you are struggling. You deserve to feel better!

    7. Caterpie*

      I went to a few sessions during the pandemic and I felt like you did. A lot of diffuse verification and a heap of mindfulness activities which don’t really work for me. I’m not sure if therapists are supposed to “tell you what to do” when it comes to life choices (ie. leave a relationship, access a certain resource, report a wrongdoing) but I’ve had much better success with them when they do/can.

      Maybe there’s a therapy school of thought that focuses more on action items and less on validating feelings? I’m not really well versed in it at all, but maybe someone else could frame my meaning better.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Behavioral therapy is much more active – CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) are two specific methods but many therapists are simply “behavioral” and use a variety of techniques to help patients.

    8. Natalie*

      I have found my therapist useful, precisely because we’re working on specific, focused strategies for coping. I wouldn’t really find endless validation and nothing else very helpful either. So, as others have suggested, I would tell her what you’re hoping for, and if that doesn’t improve things then definitely take a break and/or find a different provider.

  35. It's Quarantime!*

    (Warning, this is a post about our current global health crisis.)

    Whelp, despite a year of making my best efforts of isolation and germophobia I have officially tested positive for COVID-19. :(
    My sister, an RN, actually laughed at me when I told her I was waiting for test results because she would have sworn on her life that there was No Chance I could have been exposed, but here we are.

    I’m hoping for reassurance and encouragement. I live on my own with my 20 year old cat and work from home. I’m a relatively healthy (if overweight) 38 year old woman, and so far my symptoms are fairly mild. I’m scared, and sad, and I feel like a failure. I’ve spent a year reading about things like long-haul covid and lasting physical damage to hearts, lungs, and even minds, even in mild cases and now I feel like Wil E Coyote, two steps off the edge of the cliff, looking at the rocks below, and waiting for gravity to kick in.

    1. Asenath*

      There aren’t any guarantees – you can do everything right and still catch it, so don’t blame yourself. I may be a completely untrained person on the internet, but our local authorities are saying the same sort of thing (encouraging kindness and a lack of blame) now that we’ve had an upswing in cases, and someone locally just did a public interview saying much of what you said – he and his family took precautions, he got it anyway, even if precautions reduce your chances of infection, they don’t guarantee immunity. Take care of yourself, get a list of what symptoms you should watch for in case you get worse and need medical help, but keep reminding yourself – most cases are mild, especially in younger people, and by “younger” they seem to mean “under 65”, which you are. So, basically, prepare for the worst, then put the worst out of your mind and take care of yourself (eating, keeping hydrated and rested, treating symptoms, and finding some pastime to distract you). Of course, you will follow the isolation protocols, but you’ve been working at home, and so are used to that part. Good luck.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I know it’s scary, but remember a lot of cases are light, and you know how they say “slow the spread”, not “stop the spread” – that’s because we don’t have anything that’s 100% safe right now. Good luck!

    2. fposte*

      Oh, no! Please don’t feel like a failure. I think one unfortunate side effect of the pandemic has been personalizing it, I guess because it’s easier to argue with people than a virus. A pandemic is a pandemic because its nature is to spread, and human behavior isn’t going to be enough to completely stop that.

      Uncertainty sucks. What generally do you do to help yourself face it? Plan and make lists? Remind yourself that worrying isn’t helpful and distract yourself? Can you put any of that into play now? It’s bad enough to be sick, but sick and miserable *about* being sick seems like an unfair double whammy.

      I hope you have a speedy recovery.

    3. MostCake*

      I can share two experiences I know of. My 55+ coworker got Covid last November and I was extremely concerned as she is quite obese and has type 2 diabetes. She came through it fine and was back to work in 14 days. She said she lost her senses of taste and smell, but still was hungry all the time and ate well. She had a fever for a few days but she said the worst of it was shortness of breath and fatigue. Since her recovery she’s still not regained her taste and smell senses 100% of the time. She says they come and go. Her experience helped ease my mind a ton as I was just sure if I got Covid, I’d be on a ventilator and probably die quickly. We are of similar age and I am also overweight. Since then, because of our profession, we have both been fully vaccinated, which has also done wonders to ease my fear.

      The other person in my life to get Covid was my older sister who is relatively healthy and just a bit overweight. She tested positive at the end of December and was quite sick for about 3 days with high fever and very bad headache and shortness of breath. She started to feel better on about day 4 and recovered quickly with no lasting symptoms except she still gets short of breath if she exerts herself too much.

      Both of their experiences helped me realize Covid is not an automatic death sentence and you will not be hospitalized no matter what. That said, definitely do get to the hospital if you struggle to breathe. I live alone too and it’s scary sometimes, so do reach out and stay in touch with your friends and family members and ask for help if you need food or medicines dropped off. Be good to yourself and try not to worry or obsess – which I know I would if in your shoes, so please try to find other things to occupy your mind as the illness passes. I hope you have a speedy recovery and know you’re in my thoughts.

    4. Workerbee*

      My husband is almost 60, we’ve been doing our best efforts, including all the Vit C, D, and zinc (which I’ve seen now is being debunked)—and he got it too. Complete surprise to us. He “only” had the fever and cough. He wouldn’t even have gotten tested because we thought there’s no way he could have it, it must just be a weird cold, so it was a week of that before he got on with a telehealth call and they told him to get tested.

      Then three weeks more of his now official diagnosis, and then one day the fever was gone and so was the cough. It was quite scary and I won’t go into that, but my advice is:

      -Do not isolate yourself virtually. I say this because I didn’t reach out to anyone but my mom, for calls and door drops of stuff. I should have let our friends know and gotten more emotional support.
      -If you have no appetite or feel full when you know you can’t be, try to eat or at least drink something anyway. Trying to get my husband to keep his strength up was nearly impossible, so I am relieved he at least managed to get broth down him every so often.
      -Coughing sucks but it’s so much better out than in.
      -If you find yourself feeling unspoken ire toward friends cavorting maskless at concerts, bars, exercise classes, etc., while your main excursion has been masked grocery runs, well, that’s normal. :)

      So, he’s overweight and more sedentary than he believes he is (on balance, the couch-sitting comprises the majority of his time). But he got through it and, outside of needing to rest at times throughout the day the first week after, I don’t think there are any long hauler issues. He went from not being able to get dressed to tackling major snow removal.

      You will get through this!

    5. Laura H.*

      I’m sorry you caught it. Hoping it’s a mild case. I caught it in late December- thankfully a mild case where the worst symptom was I lost smell and taste.

      Be gentle with yourselves. All the air hugs are being sent your way.

    6. Filosofickle*

      My partner got it last month likely through passing contact — on a hike, at the drugstore, or one takeout meal, with everyone masked as we’re in a high-compliance area — because that’s all the exposure we had. His was a mild case, the scary part was losing his sense of taste and smell but thankfully that only lasted a week. (That was the symptom that drove us to testing.) But as far as we can tell he’s recovered and doing fine! He’s a little more tired than usual and I’m encouraging him to recognize that could be related and to not push it. I didn’t get it at all despite sleeping a foot from his breathing face so while he got it easily I did not. It’s a wily virus. My to-be-safe quarantine time was a lot longer than his, which didn’t seem fair lol.

    7. ....*

      The vast majority of people are fine. You will much more than likely be fine. They don’t publish articles about the millions and millions of people who are fine because that isn’t interesting or click-able. I hope you get well soon!

    8. lemon meringue*

      Don’t feel like a failure! I realize that’s easier said than done, but I think the pandemic has really ramped up the already excessive victim-blaming when it comes to illness. I personally don’t like to blame anyone for getting ill regardless of how many precautions they have or haven’t taken. A certain amount of this just comes down to chance.

      One thing that might help you feel better is that I understand there is research indicating that the amount of virus you’ve been exposed to has some correlation to how ill you get. So if you have been strict in your precautions, that may result in milder symptoms, since chances are that you caught it from a brief chance encounter, rather than prolonged exposure.

    9. bunniferous*

      A very large amount of people I know have gotten it. The vast, vast majority, including friends with preexisting health conditions and those over 70, did not even have to go to the hospital. MOST of them had a very mild case. Only one person that I know of (the over 70) has an ongoing issue with loss of taste and smell, and she expects she will have that back in about three more months.

      I know that there is a lot of scary info out there. I am fat and over 60. My over 60 husband has several health conditions that put him in the medically vulnerable category. We do take it seriously. But we have found that for good mental health we don’t focus on the news, or online stories, etc. I do what I need to do to stay informed but no more. Fear sells papers. Mind you I am not saying this is not a concern. What I am saying is that mental health and peace for us is part of keeping our immune system healthy, and staying healthy in general. Changes are that your case will stay mild and that you will escape the ongoing issues that some folk are having to deal with. The odds really are in your favor.

      We had to test back in the summer (we were negative thankfully) so I understand feeling like you are staring into the abyss. But I honestly almost hoped we did have it so we could put it in the rear view mirror.

      Sending you socially distanced internet hugs ((((((((()))))))))

    10. Blackcat*

      ” I’ve spent a year reading about things like long-haul covid and lasting physical damage to hearts,”

      Please don’t feel like a failure. I did want offer this bit of anecdata: I was one of those folks who got COVID last March and had heart damage. I’m also a relatively health 30-something woman. I needed monitoring for a bit, but my heart was fully healed at last check! Most impacts on the heart from influenza resolve in “young” people (I was told under 50 by my cardiologist) in 6-12 months. My cardiologist kept on the drumbeat of “If COVID impacts the heart like other viruses, it will last a while but ultimately resolve in people your age.” And he was right! It took like 9-10 months, but my heart fully healed.

      Don’t get me wrong, COVID sucked and I did not like the surprise heart problems. But I’m totally fine now! And they’ve checked everything thoroughly.

    11. My Brain Is Exploding*

      You have spent a year being cautious and therefore not catching the virus and passing it on to other people. Just like now, you have been very careful and unlikely to have infected someone else. So, thank you!

      1. Anono-me*

        Seconding this.

        Also, have you looked into what you can do to support your body as it fights covid? Vitamins, enough rest, heathy food, nasal rinse, electrolytes etc.

        Wishing you a mild set of symptoms and a quick recovery.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      You can make a button from just about anything, but I’d definitely recommend buying a circle cutter if your button maker doesn’t come with one. My biggest tip: Make sure you know where the pin part of the button is going to go, otherwise your image might end up crooked or upside down.

      Also: They make magnetic button backs, so making magnets is also an option. :)

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you decide to use old photos, scan and make copies first and work from those. I’ve heard sad stories about people doing crafts of duplicates that weren’t actually duplicates.

  36. Yellow Warbler*

    Is there such a thing as a gateway coffeemaker?

    I drink regular, simple, ground coffee. I’m fine with that, but our small simple coffeemaker is falling apart in multiple ways and needs replacement.

    My husband self-medicates with caffeine and thus considers himself an afficianado, so he’s excited to buy some space-age coffeehouse machine that will set me back a month’s salary. In reality, he’s a lazy man-child and cleaning/servicing it will become my problem.

    Is there some style of coffeemaker that uses simple grounds, is easy to care for/tidy, but offers some kind of interesting functionality also? I’m glad to read online reviews, but I’m not even sure what terms to use.

    1. CatCat*

      So, we don’t have a fancy machine, but do have multiple pieces of equipment for making different coffees. Our workhorse is a basic Mr. Coffee drip machine. (Our model has a timer so that is a really nice feature if you want your coffee ready to go in the morning). We also have a Bialetti moka pot for making stove-top espresso when we feel like getting fancy and making lattes or mochas. We have a little handheld milk frother that works great for this. In the summer, we bust out the French press for making cold brew coffee overnight. All-in-all, this is like $100 worth of coffee-making equipment that gives us great variety and is easy to clean/no frustrating maintenance.

      1. Yellow Warbler*

        This sounds like a great method, separate items that I can tuck away until he gets the motivation to use them. I didn’t think of going this direction, but now I’m seeing that it might make the most sense.

      2. PostalMixup*

        My husband used a Moka pot for a while until he developed a caffeine-triggered heart arrhythmia (seriously). One thing we learned was to have extra rubber o-rings on hand for if/when he melted them.

    2. BRR*

      Unless he’s interested in espresso, an expensive machine is not worth it. Doing a quick search now to refresh my knowledge, it seems like coffee making leans more towards a handcrafted approach than fancy machine. The Pour over method is very popular for the quality it produces (chemex is a popular brand). Maybe the aeropress would appeal to him. Would you be able to satisfy the interesting functionality with something like a scale or electric kettle that will result in a better cup of coffee than any machine feature?

    3. mreasy*

      I have the Behmor Brazen Plus which makes excellent coffee, can be programmed to brew in the morning, and you can set brew temperature and soak times. It was under $200 (much less expensive than the Technivorm) and has been making us amazing coffee for years. But if you don’t want to mess with those settings, you just put in ground coffee & water & press go like any other coffeemaker.

    4. Reba*

      Wait, does your spouse want an espresso machine? Or you just want to get, like, an upgraded drip coffee maker?

      I do the pour-over thing, which has to be the lowest-maintenance option.

      I used to use a drip machine with a built in grinder, which I found a pain to clean because it got humid inside, but there are probably better options than that old Cuisinart.

      A friend has a machine that can do espresso or drip and has a little frother on the side too. It’s kinda mindblowing, although I haven’t had to clean it!

      Obviously the sky is the limit if you want to spend on this kind of equipment, but I’m not sure I can see spending a ton of money on something that is fundamentally a drip maker i.e. water boiler.

      1. Yellow Warbler*

        Fair question, and proves that I don’t know what I’m talking about. He would definitely drink espresso if he had the ability to make it. If the only way to make it is with a complicated contraption that is hard to clean, I’m going to be hesitant to buy it.

        1. Reba*

          I guess my current deal is that I do the simplest method but have invested in some accessories — a nice burr grinder, and a little milk frother thingy. So I can have cafe au lait! That’s fancy enough for me :) And the milk pot goes in the dishwasher.

          Plenty of folks make little countertop espresso machines part of their lives. But, the fact that there are articles out there called “Home espresso machine maintenance 101” or similar may give you pause.

    5. DistantAudacity*

      Also read comparative reviews to make sure that the items you get ARE easy to clean – this is sometimes what you pay for.

      I got my sister a coffee grinder for Christmas, and when I was looking, a key differentiator was whether or not they were something-or-other to keep the coffee grains from getting everywhere… The reviewers very clear there it was worth an increase in price to avoid that annoying clean-up after every use! Sister has since confirmed ;)

    6. Aly_b*

      I would definitely look at pour over. I’m someone with 4 kinds of coffeemaker in my house right now, including an espresso machine. The espresso machine is great, and is our daily go to, but does take some maintenance. It’s easier than you might think, but non zero. Before that, our usual go to was a little pour over ceramic thing that just sits on top of your cup with a filter in it, and goes in the dishwasher. It definitely falls under fancy coffee and is a step up from a standard drip machine, and based on your criteria would probably be my recommendation (also costs about 20 bucks and comes in fun colours). I would suggest against Chemex because it is a bit harder to clean (no dishwasher, and if you were out of town for a few days and it got gunky, a bit harder to get in and clean well, though by no means impossible.)

    7. MommaCat*

      What we have is a super simple Mr Coffee… and a separate coffee grinder that we use when we feel the need for fancy coffee (which isn’t often). Is something like that feasible for you? Getting a separate doodad to add that interesting functionality?

    8. Sylvan*

      If you and your husband like espresso, you might try a moka pot. Moka pots are easy to use, easy to clean, and small enough to tuck into a cupboard.

    9. Cabin Fever*

      If you’re open to going a non-machine route, how about a Chemex? It has infinite options for specialization (timing, bean coarseness, etc), but it’s also easy for beginner use. And the clean up couldn’t be easier – it’s just a glass pitcher. That was honestly the selling point when I got mine!

    10. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Bialetti is a good stovetop espresso maker that’s not hard to clean or expensive. Depending on your location and your comfort level re going to stores in person, I have found places like TJ Maxx almost have them in the home section for even cheaper.

    11. Coco*

      Pour overs make good coffee, inexpensive, and easy to clean and use. I have a hario and a chemex. I prefer the taste of the hario but chemex is prettier to look at.

      If you want an espresso maker, mokapots make sense.

      If you want a pod based version, I like the nespresso but I find the pour over preferable to pod coffee.

    12. Teatime is Goodtime*

      My husband LOVES his aeropress. It looks like cheap plastic but makes fantastic coffee (apparently), it is cost effective and can go in the dishwasher. If you make lots of coffee every day with it, it can just be rinsed in between. His years-long restless coffee-creation-roaming (new idea/method/thing every couple of months) ceased when he got this thing.

      1. JustEm*

        Yes! I was just going to recommend aeropress. Cheap but AWESOME coffee that coffee nerds are also into, and low maintenance

    13. Call me St. Vincent*

      Get the OXO Brew 9 coffee maker! We love ours! It uses regular grinds and is very easy to use, but it was voted best coffee maker by the Coffee Specialty Association. It has all these cool features like a rain head that showers the grinds with water and it apparently pre-infuses the grounds in a manner similar to pour over. It was NY Times Wirecutter’s favorite coffee maker.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        It’s $199 by the way, but I got ours on sale for one of the holiday weekends on the oxo website for $129.

    14. lemon meringue*

      I really like my simple French press! I also have a Moka (Italian espresso maker) which is similarly low-tech. Both make a really nice cup of coffee, are pretty cheap to buy, take up very little space and will last ages, but they are slightly more finicky to use than a fancy high-tech coffee maker. The Moka is a bit annoying to clean, and for the French press you’ll need a coffee grinder if you don’t already have one, since you can’t use finely ground beans, but it’s hard to argue with the results. I bought my Moka in Italy, and when I was carrying it home on the train, several strangers stopped to compliment me on my purchase!

      1. lemon meringue*

        Now I’m seeing that I’m not the only one on the Moka bandwagon. I should clarify that when I say it’s annoying to clean, I’m comparing that to the French press. Probably in comparison to a fancy countertop machine, it’s easy (I’ve never had one, so I can’t compare).

      2. Susie*

        Yeah, seconding the French press. I have my local coffee shop grind the beans for me when I buy a new bag, but there are some inexpensive grinders so that the beans are ground fresh.
        I throw everything in the dishwasher after each use, so super easy to keep clean.

      3. ThatGirl*

        I highly recommend burr grinders over blades. They are so much better. Mine was around $60 and it’s lasted for 10 years.

      4. Erika22*

        Thirding the French press! Simple, classic, good cup of coffee. We do use pre-ground coffee and don’t find it too fine for the French press either. We have two sizes of press – a big one we prepare in the morning that provided enough coffee for two, and a small personal sized one that I use if I need a second cup later in the day. (We also have a decent espresso machine from our americano phase but haven’t used it in ages except to froth milk for my pandemic matcha latte obsession, and it takes up so much space – French press is much better for this as well!)

    15. JobHunter*

      Bunns can be reasonably priced. The model I have needs the reservoir topped off after several days without use (I usually just turn it off if I know I will be gone more than 3 days). One of my ex-workplaces had a restaurant model that was hard-plumbed in and had an in-line filter.

    16. The New Wanderer*

      We Got one of the cheaper Amazon Basic espresso machines ($65?) and that’s been working great. It doesn’t pass muster with real espresso connoisseurs per online reviews, but it’s cheap and has a built in milk steamer. Care just involves dumping out the used grounds and wiping down the milk steamer wand and cover after each use, plus a deep clean every month or so (run 50/50 vinegar and water through for several minutes, several times to clear out mineral buildup).

      We also have a Keurig-alternative type coffee machine (cheaper single serving unit, has reusable filter baskets, no pods necessary) that’s been going strong for 4 years or so, and requires only minimal cleanup along the lines of the other (dump out grounds daily, deep clean every few months).

      We have two separate grinders, one burr and one blade. I only use the blade one and it seems just fine for my purposes with minimal cleaning (I have a storage jar specifically for coffee so I only use the grinder every few weeks anyway).

      1. ThatGirl*

        The problem with blade grinders is they’re not even – you get big chunks and dust in the same batch and the grounds don’t release flavors evenly. I bet if you switched to your burr grinder for a week you’d notice a big difference.

    17. llamaswithouthats*

      I haven’t tried it yet, but recently I’ve been considering switching from a coffee machine to a French press. Not sure if it is easier to clean, but it seems easier for ground coffee because it will save me the coffee filters. (I know reusable coffee filters are a thing, but they are a PITA to clean IME, and I can’t do so without washing them down the sink drain.) So maybe that? It’s not space age though. XD

    18. RosyGlasses*

      I love love love my Nespresso! The pods are recycled (they send you a bag to mail them full for free) and cost about $1 to $1.10 per pod. They have roasts from very light to dark and some that are flavored if you are into that. Highly recommend.

  37. Anono-me*

    Maybe follow up with your doctor and ask her for an upper range of sodium. Yes, she said zero milligrams is best, but it is also impossible.

    Here are some thoughts that may be helpful.

    Lower sodium =/= low sodium.

    Salt is in so many things, but brands vary. I found making a master list of everything I used that was the lowest salt available brand (or two lowest of a few things) to be helpful.
    Pasta sauce- Trader Joe’s – 0 salt
    Cocktail sauce – Trader Joe’s – 0 salt
    Orange Pop – Jarrito’s Mandarin 1% or F___ 3%

    Also be aware that with the pandemic, many low or no salt products are currently unavailable due to consolidation of production lines and stores prioritizing high demand items when dealing with logistics challenges.

    I have had better luck finding low/no salt items at small health food stores and ethnic grocers than at bigger grocery stores with health food sections. (Mexico is implementing some major changes to food labeling requirements that I suspect will lead to heathier changes in food ingredients in the next year or so. )

    Lime juice and powdered lime juice really help to brighten up the flavors of many of foods including meats.

    Cooking with booze also seems to create flavors and textures where salt is not as necessary.

    How salty things taste to you will change over time. Low/no salt will eventually taste ‘right’ and ‘regular’ food will eventually taste