weekend open thread – March 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: Sorrow and Bliss, by Meg Mason. It’s about family and relationships and the impact of mental illness on both, and it’s funny and snarky and moving.

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

{ 1,226 comments… read them below }

  1. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread.

    What brought you joy this week?

    Mine’s not really this week, but I think it’s all of you and Alison. A majority of the comments and their positive tones have kind of shaped the way I comment elsewhere. And as much as the art of being able to confront and solve workplace problems is wonderfully addressed, the verbiage and for the most part the general kindness on the site is a lovely tool too. Thanks for being a little joy I look forward to.

    Please share your joys and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    1. Might Be Spam*

      Sometimes I write something ahead of time and by the time the Open Thread starts, I realize that I don’t need to post it. As I write, I think about what Alison and the commentators might say, and that often answers my question.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I definitely agree re: AAM. Megan Greenwell’s new column in Wired on workplace questions is also entertaining and encouraging me.

      I’m trying to walk every day, and lift weights a few times a week, and while it’s not a major physical overhaul (still have the physique of a sack of spuds) it’s great feeling stronger.

      And I have the finale of Drag Race UK to watch, hurrah!

      1. allathian*

        I’m doing the same thing, lifting weights at least once a week, although I’m aiming for twice. Going for a walk every day, even if it’s only 15 minutes. Also sessions on the stationary bike, because I want to be able to do longer runs than the 5 or 7 K runs we did last summer.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      The snow has finally melted and the first crocuses and hellebores are budding! Yay, Spring!

      1. S*

        My crocuses moved, from one area of my yard to another. I can only imagine that some critters dug up the bulbs and “hid” them behind the azaleas.

      2. SarahKay*

        My crocuses are also up. I planted them on Christmas day which was a good month later than ideal so I’m thrilled to see them.

    4. StellaBella*

      Cleaning my studio. I woke up at 6 today, and by 11 had literally cleaned everything in my small studio. It is -5C here where I live and windy right now so I am making veggie chilli, so cooking also has brought me joy this week.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Vaccination appointments opened up for my age group yesterday morning and I was able to get an appointment for April 3. I can finally see light at the end of this long tunnel.

      1. WellRed*

        I scheduled mine yesterday for this week. It was a surprise but they opened up more eligibility.

      2. Jen*

        I got my shot today. When my spouse was scheduling his (asthma) they asked about his household and offered me a spot too based on my job, which I didn’t know qualified yet.

        1. Seal*

          Got my first shot on Thursday. Felt crummy enough on Friday that I had to take the afternoon off and sleep but feel fine today, except for a bit of a sore arm. Regardless, getting vaccinated brought me joy and an incredible sense of relief!

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Had my first on Thursday. Felt pretty crappy as expected, and the vaccination site is still very tender, but I am gratefully taking this as proof it is working. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

    6. No Tribble At All*

      Awwww, what a sweet comment. My little joy this week was watching a documentary on big cats and seeing how much of their body language is mirrored in my own cats. The ears!

    7. Kathenus*

      My best friend and I live many states from each other and are both terrible about direct contact – but that never effects our friendship – when we see or talk to each other it’s like we were just together the day before. But yesterday we had a two hour phone conversation, and it was really great to catch up. And we’re both setting calendar reminders to do this on a more regular basis since we both know we are really bad about it otherwise.

    8. Disco Janet*

      It was a super stressful week at my job, and one of my coworkers sent me a very thoughtful gift on Friday just to lift my mood. She tried to be anonymous about it, but it was very specifically done with some treats I love that I’ve only mentioned to her, so I knew immediately and almost cried at work I was so touched.

    9. ThatGirl*

      Spring weather! My husband got his first vaccine dose! My birthday is a week from Monday and I have a few fun plans!

    10. Lore*

      I had minor surgery last week and had the follow up yesterday confirming I don’t have cancer! (I got the preliminary pathology results earlier but this was the final word.) Also got stitches removed and am clear to return to normal activity which is good because I’m sure part of the reason I’ve been so crabby all week is not being allowed to exercise.

      1. Liz*

        Yay! That’s wonderful news! I’m in the same boat but a bit behind you. Having biopsies tomorrow on areas of concern on my mammogram and follow up ultrasound. Not worried about the procedure, but the results. So I’ll be on pins and needles for a few days until I hear.

        1. Lore*

          I wish you fast news and a good outcome. I ended up needing both a needle biopsy and a full excision biopsy and I’m still not entirely certain why, but glad to have it resolved.

    11. Chaordic One*

      I was finally able to get my first COVID-19 vaccination this week. (The first appointment was cancelled when they ran out of vaccine.) I had a mild reaction to it and my arm is still a bit sore two days later. I feel better knowing that I have had it done.

    12. Chaordic One*

      Also, I had a birthday last week and, out of the blue, I received a birthday card with a $5.00 gift certificate to an ice cream shop from my manager at work (whom I’ve never met in person since I’ve been working from home for the past 10 months). It was an unexpected, pleasant thing to happen.

    13. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Not sure if it’s a little joy, but I had a relatively peaceful week at home.

      I got an injection in my wrist so my pain is now from a 10 down to 2-3.

      Doctor put me on a new medication (unrelated to above) for which I’m hopeful for good results.

      Finally, had a good conversation with an old friend. I think out of everyone, I”ve missed them and their presence the most over the past year.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Oh! One good thing I think I did – visited several grocery stores (it’ was a weird week lol) and I managed to avoid getting any sweets from the bakery! I’ have a major sweet tooth to my detriment and I’m always in a cycle of indulging and “detoxing” (quotes because it’s never a true one and never lasts). Any time I can resist temptation as such is a win for me.

    14. the cat's ass*

      I always appreciate this thread!

      The fence at the side of my property which has been a straggly eyesore for years finally is replaced!

      We’re taking a different tack with our demented elder kitty by coaxing him into the bedroom with treats and having him sleep on the bed with is and he’s not waking up multiple times through the night howling and looking for us!

    15. MissCoco*

      I am a baby optometry student, and my class got our first set of equipment this week.
      My friend from school came over so we could figure out our gear together . . . And I saw a real live optic nerve!

      To be in my kitchen and looking inside another human’s eyeball was just incredible. It was a really timely motivation in the middle of a tough semester as well.

      1. VI Guy*

        How difficult is it to get your own equipment to see the optic nerve?! Mine is apparently really weird as I have albinism (I don’t expect you to look it up, but if I can explain briefly that we often have nystagmus, strabismus, astigmatism, and photophobia, yet each person experiences it differently and we don’t all have those things… if you remember that vaguely then anyone you meet with albinism will greatly appreciate you!)

        1. MissCoco*

          Thanks for sharing the info about albinism and vision – I definitely will keep it in mind!

          If you’re mostly interested in seeing your retina + optic nerve, probably your best bet will be fundus photography, which lots of optometrists offer and will do if a patient requests it. There usually is a fee for that service, but you get pictures! As far as I know that’s really the only way someone can see their own retina.

          Direct ophthalmoscopy is the technique I was practicing. Direct ophthalmoscopes (and the big magnifying lens used with them) are considered medical equipment, so you might have trouble purchasing one yourself, but honestly I’m not sure how regulated they are.

    16. GoryDetails*

      I was able to log a geocaching trackable that’s currently on Mars! The Perseverance lander has a circular glass plate among its calibration targets, this one etched with the trackable code that allows it to be logged on the geocaching site; to find it one is supposed to browse the photos downloaded from the lander, find the one displaying that item, and decipher the code from the image. The trackable page is here ( https://coord.info/TB5EFXK ); some of it should be visible to anyone, with other bits only viewable if you’re logged in to the geocaching site. There’s a link to NASA’s site showing the raw images from the lander, interesting to browse in their own right.

    17. allathian*

      My parents got their first Covid vaccines and my husband and I will be quietly celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary tonight.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Eastern bluebirds in my yard! Checking out the wood chips, swinging on a loose vine in the trees, perching on the top of the orange driveway maker.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I saw some bluebirds today too – not in my own yard, but on the trails of a farm in NE Massachusetts. Lovely!

    19. Emi*

      Hi Laura and AAM community :) It made me smile to see the thread start on such a simple yet positive note! My little joy this week was being able to start swimming classes. I’ve been inactive and consumed by work for a while, so I’m really happy and proud that I’m doing something for myself.

      Other little joys: listening to music, playing with my two cats, taking my cats to visit my brother who just moved to an apartment one floor below us :)

      For this weekend, I’m looking forward to spending more quality time with my SO.

    20. Can't Sit Still*

      I have finally got the whole “making coffee drinks at home” down. I have a milk frother, a cold brew setup, a bunch of flavored syrups, a moka pot, and a water filtration system. Basically, everything I need whatever I feel like – flat whites, lavender vanilla lattes, iced pistachio coffees, peppermint mochas, hot chocolate with whipped cream, raspberry white chocolate mochas, and so on. Yum! Or plain cold brew, served hot or iced, plain or with a little milk.

      And, it smells like spring outside, such a lovely smell of damp earth, flowers and greenery.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I bought a moka pot off Amazon around Christmas, and since then, I’ve basically turned my small kitchen into a cafe. My counters and cabinets are full of syrups, shakeable toppings by Upouria, and various types of espresso beans.

        My stomach lining is probably virtually nonexistent at this point, but it was nice to learn how to be my own barista. Still have to figure out how to make the cool patterns with the milk (and need to buy an electric frother since my handheld frother doesn’t heat the milk).

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I was thinking about this today. I’m getting a bit tired of driving 15 minutes to get Starbucks or even my favorite independent shop. I do have lots of instant coffees, sweeteners and SF syrups but I hate hot coffee but I also don’t like ice, so it gets really cumbersome to make and I feel like it never tastes as good as what I get at Starbucks or other places. Aside from heating and water, what would be the best thing to get to enjoy doing it more at home?

        1. ThatGirl*

          Make cold brew! It’s really simple – 4 parts coffee to 1 part water by weight, stir well and let sit overnight up to 24 hrs. Strain well and store in the fridge. Then you use a couple oz daily and add cold water or milk to taste along with your sweeteners etc. – it’s more concentrated and tastes smoother and less acidic. I drink it this way all summer.

        2. Can't Sit Still*

          I usually serve concentrated cold brew out of the refrigerator with just some cold water or milk without heating it or adding ice. Cold brew is very forgiving, so you can microwave if it’s too cold straight out of the fridge.

          I use a pitcher with cold brew bags – like giant tea bags – to make my cold brew. I have a purpose made cold brew pitcher with a reusable filter, but I don’t like that as much. I’ve found Dunkin’ Donuts’ ground coffee makes tasty cold brew or you can go all out and by special cold brew grinds or cold brew packs. I like Bizzy Coffee, personally, but pretty much anything will work.

          I don’t know if you don’t like ice because it’s too cold or because it waters down your drink, but in the summer, I make cold brew ice cubes, so my drink doesn’t get too watered down by adding ice. Cold brew doesn’t like to freeze completely solid, so I recommend an ice tray with a cover to keep out any stray flavors.

          I have an electric milk frother, which has a wide variety of temperature settings from lukewarm to extra hot if you are looking for frothed milk more like what you get at a coffee shop. (It also makes great hot chocolate!) There are barista blends of all kinds of milk, too.

            1. Can't Sit Still*

              I have the Breville Milk Cafe. While it’s pricy, it’s more than paid for itself, considering how many flat whites and lattes I bought in 2019.

    21. I take tea*

      Finally got around to watching Nothing like a Dame, a documentary with four fantastic National Treasures of British theatre talk about life and careers, and it was a delight, just as I thought it would be.

    22. Diahann Carroll*

      I received very flattering feedback on my final portfolio piece developed for my class. My instructor has been in technical writing for over two decades and has worked with/for some of the biggest tech companies in the world (Microsoft being one), and he was really impressed with what I created – that gave me the confidence I needed to seriously begin rethinking my future career plans. I was stuck for awhile, but now I know I can get unstuck; I don’t have to stay where I am.

      My youngest niece also walked by herself this week for her first birthday, so I was glad I got to see it (over FaceTime). I still haven’t met her in person, but she recognizes my face when I call, and she always gets this big smile on her face and reaches for the phone. Babies are so precious.

    23. Voluptuousfire*

      Had a crappy week. Bad insomnia, two job opportunities didn’t work out and just some personal stuff that compounded everything.

      What helped was the iced lattes I make with decaf espresso powder. So glad to have found that! It makes me happy. Also nice weather and did a little yoga for the first time in ages. My back feels so much better.

    24. WoodswomanWrites*

      This thread is consistently a little joy for the week!

      Today I went on a guided wildflower walk in an area about an hour’s drive away, just far enough away that different flowers grow there, including a crazy one that eats insects that I’d not only never seen but hadn’t heard of–Dutchman’s pipe, native only to California (I also learned there’s a related and more colorful garden variety). Geeking out with other naturalists on a beautiful day was fantastic, and afterward I treated myself to chocolate chip cookies from my favorite bakery, the perfect ending.

    25. SarahKay*

      Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up to Cancer – I caught up with last week’s episode as well as this week’s.

      And, appropriately enough given the above, I made a perfect loaf of bread (though I say it myself!).
      The perfect loaf isn’t really something I put much work into. Home-made bread is something I grew up with, and I made my first batch when I was about nine; both my parents were unwell and we needed the week’s bread to be made, so I made it. As a result, it’s always been a functional task for me – fresh bread out of the oven is definitely a little joy, but making it was just something I did, like cooking supper or washing the dishes after. My aim was always ‘edible’ rather than ‘decorative’ or, indeed, perfect.
      Then this week I accidentally doubled the butter content which made the inside of the loaf lovely and soft, and it rose by exactly the right amount, without any lop-sidedness, to just be the perfect loaf shape and I confess I wass delighted and took entirely too many photos.

  2. Kiwiapple*

    I’m looking for people who have moved internationally and how they got through the culture shock and…well everything because I’m finding it really difficult. I recently moved from the UK to NZ (yes, in the middle of the pandemic) and am just having a bit of trouble getting my head around everything.

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I did it the other way around 11 years ago! Something that helped me was a process I read about culture shock: that there’s 3 stages, 1st when everything is new and delightful, 2nd when it’s disappointing and wrong, and 3rd when you can see the pluses and minuses of both places.

      It does take time, try to enjoy the weird adventures (like the different things in the supermarket and pop songs on the radio). Push yourself to meet people, which is tough but will pay off. Accept that every place is flawed – I notice a lot of people have magical thinking over NZ, a country with significant racism, poverty, violence, and terrible addiction issues.

      Read up, esp indie media and Māori perspectives on the treaty, check out The Spinoff, E-Tangata, NZ Geographic, enjoy the wonderful live music and art scene, and eat some great kai.

      1. kiwiapple*

        Thank you for your comment – I was aware of a lot of negatives before coming over (my partner is a Kiwi). I think part of the issue is that I’ve started working again so I only had a very short time for “everything is wonderful and delightful”.

      2. Anon This Time*

        My BIL decided to move to a South American country. Mostly, I think, for the low cost of living. To prepare, he visited his chosen town and hired people to help him “look around”. He read blogs on living there for about six months prior. When he got there, I think he was in stage 2 – “disappointing and wrong” because stage 1 was when he had visited prior to moving. All of a sudden, the people he had paid to show him around weren’t his friends (because he wasn’t paying them anymore – duh). The blogs he had read all had a positive spin about the place. He avoided anything negative, so didn’t know the truth about the culture shock he’d experience. He was miserable! So, he cancelled his future plans to live there permanently. He moved back to the US at great expense. His stuff was in a shipping container for about six months before he got it back. We felt so bad for him! I think you really have to go into a move like that with your eyes wide open and know it’s going to be a real adjustment.

    2. KeinName*

      I‘ve lived in NZ for 5 months but only afterwards realized many things I did not understand as cultural differences. I‘ve also done a study on emigrants to NZ 15 years ago for my MA and people do find they are made to feel like strangers when they would be really keen to fit in (that‘s not NZ specific). Some ideas from research:
      – Have your own project – like remodelling a home, compete with a sports team, start a company; take up opportunities that are NZ specific
      – find other immigrants to share impressions, they‘ll be more than happy to explain things to you; there are a lot of groups and associations for all countries of origin
      – join a church or get involved with museums, they often have a strong community and are happy to welcome newcomers
      – and be aware that this situation feels exhausting for everyone, it‘s not you who is inflexible or doesn‘t understand things
      All the best! I would love to be there again and eat pancakes with lemon curd or have a really good coffee or explore the sea shore!

      1. kiwiapple*

        Thank you for your comment – some of this isn’t applicable to me and I’ve started working again (which I think is part of why I’m feeling the way I am) but I will give some of your suggestions a go.
        Your MA topic sounds really interesting!

        1. KeinName*

          Yeah, I don‘t suppose starting a company is the way to go for everyone ;-) If you work, that‘s at least an opportunity to meet people, hopefully they are nice!
          Would also be interesting if your partner has a comparable experience if he was with you in the UK.

          1. kiwiapple*

            My partner is a he. It’s a bit early on the work front – it’s a small (understaffed/stressed) team.

    3. Scc@rlettNZ*

      I’ve moved internationally a few times – NZ to Australia, Australia to the UK, UK to NZ, NZ to Australia and then finally back to NZ (with lots of travelling in between). I was away from NZ for over 13 years when all I originally intended was a 2 year OE.

      Bizarrely, the worst culture shock I experienced was returning to NZ from the UK. I hated it and only lasted 3 months before leaving again for Australia where I stayed for 12 months before venturing back.

      It’s actually really difficult to stop comparing the new country to the old. There were so very many things I missed about my life in London once I was here in NZ, even though I’d made the decision to come back (and by the time I left London there were plenty of things about living there that made me want to come home).

      It can take a while to feel at home in a new country – for some folk it’s really hard to be away from all that is familiar, and family and friends. Some folk adapt and some don’t. And if you are one of the ones who decide it’s not for you, then that’s fine. It’s not a failure to decide you don’t like it here (at least you tried).

      It’s a bit tricky to do, but what helped me was making a conscious effort to stop comparing my old life in the UK to my new life in NZ. It took a bit of doing but eventually I started to appreciate how good I have it here and now wild horses couldn’t drag me away (at least not permanently).

      1. kiwiapple*

        Thanks for your comment – I feel reassured that it’s hopefully just going to take some getting used to and not unheard of. I do have a (Kiwi) partner and his family for some social and…just being part of something normal.

      2. Zooey*

        I found culture shock much worse when I moved back from Italy to my own country! I just didn’t expect it – especially as I only lived in Italy for 6 months – so found it much more upsetting. It didn’t help that I moved from a small quiet Italian city to London! But it’s a good thing to be prepared for – culture shock on your own culture.

      3. allathian*

        Admittedly I did it as a tween/teen, but when we moved to the UK when I was 12, I experienced some culture shock, but at least I got away with some odd stuff natives wouldn’t have, because I was a foreigner and when we went there, I didn’t know much English. I learned fast, though, and after 3 months I didn’t need a tutor in class anymore.

        When we moved back to Finland, I was probably subconsciously expecting things to go back to what I was used to, but moving to a big city and going to a big secondary school rather than the small primary school I left behind was a big step, although I’d been in a much larger comprehensive school in the UK. I was also hitting puberty in earnest by then, which didn’t make things any easier. Looking back, I’m not sure how much of my misery was directly related to puberty and how much was genuine culture shock. But it’s good to remember that most people experience some culture shock even when they move within a country, for example from a small town to a big city, or vice versa.

        I had similar experiences twice as a young adult, both as an exchange student in France and as an ERASMUS intern in Spain. In both cases I was reasonably fluent in the languages and never had to resort to English, although getting used to life at home again got easier after each time I went.

    4. Kate*

      I have done it several times! (Okay maybe more than several, 6 times there and back)

      The first thing is to know that it will pass. Assume it will take you a year to a year and a half for things to get easier. It’s not just the cultural aspects, it’s even the stuff like grocery shopping feeling like it takes FOREVER because you don’t have the shortcuts you are used to from before (don’t bother going to grocery store A for oranges, they are always out, grocery store B only sells the XL bags of kitty litter)

      Second, start listening to local radio. It will help tap you into what people are talking about in a way that local TV shows don’t. I held off on this during my last move, because I was commuting on public transit rather than by car, but I really felt like I integrated better when I knew what the local debates were (like whether to close the local park to traffic to encourage cycling and won’t that increase ambulance times for people having heart attacks?? Definitely different logic than I am used to)

      Third, see if you can join something. A sports team (volleyball is my go-to), a theatre group, a church/synagogue/mosque/gurdwara, etc. It will give you a structure and something to talk about.

      Finally, don’t necessarily be scared of hanging out with other expats. There is definitely a narrative of “don’t hang out with other foreigners! Integrate!” and while it’s true that it’s an easy bubble to fall into, there are good reasons why those bubbles exist in the first place. You’ll have the comfort of a common reference point and that can really help you in feeling braver in exploring your new home.

      1. kiwiapple*

        Thank you for your comment – I will definitely try to get involved in something outside of work and the media/supermarket comments aren’t something I’ve considered, so I will give this a try.

    5. Bob_NZ*

      There’s so much good advice here already so I’ll only add this: let yourself have All The Feelings, even – especially- the unanticipated or weird ones.

      This move will have been long-planned and, like any long-planned adventure, there are bound to be disappointments along the way or even stuff that’s great but not quite what you expected.

      From an outsider’s perspective you’ll have gone through one heck of a lot recently, including all the stresses of planning a move during a pandemic, the move itself and 2 weeks of managed isolation. All of these will take its toll.

      If I were in your position I think I might find it oddly stressful to move from a country with Covid (and all that limitations that comes with) to one without any Covid in the community. I think it might take me a while to get comfortable with crowds and people and all the freedoms you might not have experienced for a while. (Maybe I’m off here, but I think I’d find that pretty weird even though it ought to be a really positive/happy thing.)

      All this by way of saying give yourself time and be kind to yourself in the meantime.

      1. kiwiapple*

        Thank you for your comment – yes, the shift from covid/not so much covid is strange. I’ve started working again which I think is a large part of why I’m feeling the way I am. I will definitely try to be kinder to myself about this.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Not New Zealand, but I found there are various local expatriate groups which, even if you don’t join, have useful resources, such as a Welcome to Location booklet with tips and advice (e.g. speciality stores, native language speaking hairdressers, what to do to register with the authorities…)

        2. Bob_NZ*

          I was thinking more about the question you posed while I was out running this morning.

          A few things which were helpful to me:

          1. If you can, mentally separate out all the different culture shocks you’re experiencing. For me that was new house, new city and new job as well as new country. I could then tackle each aspect separately. For example it was useful to make a conscious effort to meet other newer people in my company for lunch so we could compare notes about how organisation X differed from other organisations we’d worked at. It helped me realise that some of my culture shock wasn’t related to the country, just simply working somewhere new.

          2. Explore local media sources – print, online, tv, radio – to find ones you like. I think it helped me get a good picture of the local mood. For me that meant reading the Listener and listening to Kim Hill on Radio NZ, you’ll find your own favourites.

          3. Consider making friends with immigrants from non-UK countries. I found this quite helpful – we all had the shared immigrant experience but didn’t sink into the pattern of comparing NZ with the UK. (I can only take so many conversations about central heating!) As a bonus, people who pack up and move half way around the world tend to be open to new friends and they tend to have pretty cool travel stories.

          4. Find your tribe. I like reading and running so for me that meant joining a book group and volunteering at parkrun. I think this one is particularly important if you came here with a spouse – having some friends (even if they’re merely acquaintances to begin with) is great for your confidence and reduces the pressure on your spouse too.

          5. Give it time. I think it took me a year or so to feel more settled and ‘at home’ and that wasn’t a linear path. To be honest I sometimes get little blips of culture shock even now, 15 years on. Fortunately they’re only tiny things (like going to buy golden syrup at the supermarket and realising I was looking out for a green and gold tin with a poorly lion printed on it rather than the local equivalent).

    6. StellaBella*

      I moved from the USA (Seattle) to Europe in 2008. I had work friends who helped me to adjust, and I love to explore. The language was and is still a struggle for me but I did not have to also deal with a pandemic. It took me at least a year to feel comfortable, with the paperwork, customs, rules, etc etc. Go for walks, reach out and meet some new folks, and maybe get a few history books to understand things more are my suggestions. Also, you are a long way from family so regular calls with them will help too. Hang in there. NZ is wonderful. Glow worm caves, natural hot spas, black sand beaches, glaciers, a time ball in Wellington, Napier and its art deco style, the Bay of Islands, Lake Taupo. I loved it when I visited. Yes there were politics but there is so much to know and learn there. Plus, the wildlife and forests of ferns and birds are just amazing. I wish you a lot of luck.

    7. Matt*

      We spent 4 years in Thailand (back to UK a couple of years ago). One thing we found there was when we were getting frustrated because things were different decide how much energy you wanted to expend to make them familier/like home. On lots of occasions shrugging and saying “Thats Thailand” meant stess levels were lower and we could enjoy being there more and you saved your energy for the other times.

    8. Anonnington*

      Being an ex-pat is really hard. You’re always the person from that other place. Even when the culture shock is gone, that will linger. You can overcome it by getting really good at the local accent and customs, but, even then, some people will still know you’re from another country and see you as a representative of that place . . . and not necessarily much else.

      I have advice about how to overcome that and connect with people. But you asked about culture shock, which is different.

      Go back to the time in your life when you were learning about your own culture. For many of us, that’s a life-long process, but it’s the most intense for the first 20 years. We learn the really basic stuff as kids and then learn more of the nuances as teenagers.

      Try to put yourself in that frame of mind for the sake of learning. “This is where I am, and I’m learning what the norms are.”

      It is easier if you can connect with people in your community, if you do something that’s of value and that other people can appreciate. Not just joining a group, but making a unique kind of contribution. That could be as simple as growing flowers in front of your house. Just something – anything – that transcends the lines of culture and that people will appreciate.

      Also, the great thing about moving to another country is that it increases your awareness of the issues that immigrants face everywhere, and it teaches you how to connect with people across cultures. That will be a valuable thing for the rest of your life. You’re having an important learning experience.

      1. Kiwiapple*

        If you have the time, I would appreciate further advice about connecting with people.

        Thanks for your comment, lots of things to consider that I hadn’t thought to do so, esp your last para.

        1. S*

          (I realize this request was not addressed to me, but I have thoughts nonetheless).

          You may not feel an immediate connection with people, but familiarity and repeated goodwill work wonders. I joined a local writer’s group a few years ago. At first, I ping-ponged between being really nervous about sharing my work, and rolling my eyes at a few of the members. We shifted to Zoom meetings over the past year, and I skipped so many, because I just hate Zoom. But recently something clicked – I’ve been around enough that I’ve heard their writing, they’ve heard mine, we make an effort to give positive feedback, they’re gracious enough to seem pleased when I join and they give me no bull when I don’t… and now I feel like a part of the group. So hang in there, because it doesn’t always happen overnight.

        2. Anonnington*

          I’m glad I could help helpful!

          Any kind of common ground is really helpful for connecting with people. It’s hard to get specific without knowing what you’re into. But don’t just participate. Contribute in some way – something that expresses who you are.

          I know not everyone feels comfortable with that. It could be something small. Is there anything fun that you could do with your appearance? Or get into photography? Photography feels like an observer thing, but it ends up expressing a lot.

          I’m giving suggestions for the less creative because if you are creative, you probably have tons of ideas.

          The other stuff that comes to mind is pretty basic. Focus on stuff that’s consistent, like smiles and humor. Openly admit that you’re learning. Most people will appreciate that. People appreciate efforts to fit in too – show that you’re going the extra mile to learn about the local culture. Be receptive to questions about the UK. People tend to be curious about where you come from but might not know if it’s ok to ask. (But also be honest if you’re not in the mood to talk about it.)

          Also! Don’t just learn about one side of the culture, or one of the country’s cultures. NZ is multicultural. Learn about it all.

    9. Barbara Eyiuche*

      Remember that one day you will like where you are, even if you don’t right now. (This usually happens.)
      Make a real effort to seek out things you like about the place.

    10. Texan In Exile*

      I was a Peace Corps volunteer. We learned all about culture shock during our three-month training. I thought the because I knew all about it, I was prepared – that it would not affect me.

      And yet it did.

      Which made me furious – if I understood it intellectually, how could it affect me emotionally?

      The only advice I have is that eventually, it passes – for me, I just had to get through it.

    11. More Coffee Please*

      I moved internationally twice, and one concept that really helped me was the mere-exposure effect (even if I did have to warp it to fit my situation). It’s a psychological concept where people tend to prefer things just because they are familiar. I warped this is in my mind to mean – as time goes on (1 week, 1 month, 3 months…), even I don’t do anything differently, I’ll start to like this new place more. I actually found that to be true. As time went on, things became easier and more familiar. Just get through the rough patch in the beginning and don’t worry too much if it’s not an immediate fit.

    12. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I’ve moved internationally a few times, a couple of those without a return ticket planned. There’s a lot of great advice upthread, especially about joining things and getting out and about. The more you can connect with other people socially, the more you’ll have a Team You that is local and reachable and not at the other end of a killer time difference.

      What you actually do to get out and about will really depend on where you are, both in terms of what country you are in and what specific city/town/area you are move to. Think about how different the cities and localities are in your home country: some are more talkative, some more formal, some snarkier, etc. The same will be true in the country you land in, but those differences are often hard to spot at first. After all, the areas of your new country will be far more culturally similar to each other than to your home, your place of reference. But they DO exist and it is worth it to notice them if you can. Figuring out those bits will give you very valuable information about what you can and cannot change. For example, one of the places I landed in my new country ended up being an area famous for being filled with people who don’t talk much. As a person of many words (many many many many words), I didn’t fit in there very well and had a bear of time getting to know people. However, elsewhere in the same country (not even far away!), I had no issue with that at all. On the other hand, irrespective of where I lived, I had a lot more success getting to know people once I figured out some of the greeting rituals.

      Adding to that: a lot of the lessons about greeting rituals I learned by falling flat on my face. You’ll do it from time to time, but don’t worry about it. Forgive yourself and move on. If your spouse is from that country, you’ll have a built-in explanation system! Very valuable.

      Lastly, I would recommend trying to meet both locals AND other expats. Locals, especially locals you met yourself and NOT through your spouse, are fantastic contacts to help you really make the place your home. That said, I think initially, when I first moved, I spent almost too much time immersing myself in my new place. That was all very valuable and good, but several years later, when I met some other expat folks from my own country, I finally realized how nice it was to just… do social stuff by habit, to not have to WORK so hard. Granted, I had a second language to plow through in that process, so that might not be relevant for you, but it is worth paying attention to.

      Good luck and enjoy as much of it as you can! :)

    13. Emi*

      It’s quite difficult at first, so please don’t be too hard on yourself! The pandemic life adds another layer of complexity to moving internationally and getting through the culture shock, so it’s okay to take it slowly and accept that some days you will feel confused, lonely, or isolated. One thing that always helps to get through the first months of adjustment is socializing and making friends. Joining a class, a reading club, dancing lessons, whatever might help you connect with others, are good options.

      In my case, I moved from South America to Thailand right before the pandemic started, and it was quite tough. We spent the first months on hard lockdown, meaning the adjustment period lasted longer than expected and we didn’t quite get to enjoy the “everything is wonderful and delightful” until 4-5 months later. One thing that made the experience 100% better was when I made friends at work. Unfortunately, due to visa-related issues, we had to return to our home country, but I met wonderful people and I’m still in touch with them, even thousands of miles away.

  3. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    I am moving soon, to my first ever all-by-myself flat, and I’m excited if a little overwhelmed. Aside from “get a cat”*, any tips?

    *it’s in the pkan but not for a while.

    1. Princess Deviant*

      Ah that’s so exciting! Have you got lots of nice home accessories? I enjoyed buying myself throws and cushions, photo frames, bedding, towels, crockery and kitchen things (because I like cooking) for my new home when I first got a flat.
      Relatives gifted me a very expensive set of cutlery which I still have and use today!
      Congrats.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Oh and when I moved I had a separate box with the important stuff in so I didn’t have to go rummaging when I moved – kettle, cups, teabags, milk (or whatever you drink), loo roll – and was easy access without unpacking.
        Practical stuff: I don’t know if you’ve moved before, bit start packing early in, you’ve got more stuff than you think you do. Label boxes. Do a bit at a time then have a break. Don’t do it all in one go.

        1. kiwiapple*

          I definitely second this suggestion about the “first box” because you will be tired and the last thing you’ll want to think about is searching through boxes trying to find toilet roll and a cup!

          My suggestion – see if there’s a local FB or similar group to join. I joined one for my area in the city I was living in the UK and it was so helpful to see who was recommended for this piece of work or this cafe etc.

        2. Pucci*

          3 critical boxes: one, everything you need to make the bed. Two, everything you need to take a shower (including a shower curtain). Three, everything you need to make breakfast the first morning (first night’s meal is pizza you have delivered to feed your helpers).

          1. Marion Ravenwood*

            A while ago (possibly on AAM) I read a tip that suggested making up your bed with fresh linen the night before/day of the move. That way when you get to the new place, you literally have to throw the duvet and pillows on the bed and put on your sheet(s), and when you are exhausted at the end of the day you can just fall into bed without having to spend another half hour or whatever changing the sheets before you can go to sleep.

            1. Toothless*

              I am VERY confused who this tip is supposed to help – who manages to get a bed set up the same day of a move instead of using a sleeping bag and/or the couch? And if it was good enough to fall asleep on the day before, why is it suddenly too gross to sleep on the day after you’ve moved? And why can’t you just put the clean linen on the bed when you get there instead of making the bed and then undoing it to move it and then having to put it back?

              1. pancakes*

                It confused me too, but I suppose it could be useful if the mattress is going to be vacuum-sealed in plastic before the move.

              2. Marion Ravenwood*

                Sorry, that’s me not being clear – as in you make up the bed the day of/night before, then pack the duvet and pillowcases with the fresh covers on to take to the new house, then take them out of whatever bag they’re in and put them on the bed straight away. I should also add that most times when I’ve moved it’s been to rentals where the bed was already set up so this might work better in that scenario rather than having to put a new bed in.

        3. Lady Meyneth*

          Or there’s a service who packages all your stuff, loads it up and takes it to your new house. I used it when I last moved and it was aweome, I could use my things all the way to moving day, there were no boxes cluttering things up, and I didn’t have to spend a ton of time with moving stuff. In my area, it’s something like 25% more expensive than regular movers, and IMO it’s very much worth it if you can afford it.

        4. Diahann Carroll*

          you’ve got more stuff than you think you do.

          Ain’t this the truth. I was horrified to discover this the last time I moved – I genuinely thought it would only take me a couple of hours with just me and my mom moving my things. Nope – it took almost 10. I have no clue where all that crap came from.

    2. L*

      First time I moved it didn’t feel like a home to me before I got lights up. Next time I moved it didn’t feel like a home till I got a few decorations up on the walls. Be prepared for that feeling while you work to make it feel like a home to you :)

      1. L*

        (by lights I do not mean basic ceiling lights – those were there – but more decorative wall lights, etc. that added atmosphere and coziness to the apartment. Basically find out what *your* home means if that makes sense.)

    3. mreasy*

      Congratulations! Living alone is a joy. I love my husband but I do miss my solo apartment life sometimes! My advice beyond the below is that if you can afford it, get a few pieces of art that you really love framed and hang them. You’ll get a little jolt of happiness and a feeling of ownership over your place whenever you see them.

    4. LDN Layabout*

      If you’re getting your own furniture for the first time: Spend money on the mattress. Everything else can be cheap. Everything else can be upgraded as you go.

      Your health and comfort will heavily rely on how you sleep and how comfortable you are while you sleep.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I second this. I really screwed my back up when I moved out on my own by buying a $99 mattress from Walmart because I was very broke and didn’t want to ask my mom for help paying for a good one (she and I weren’t speaking at the time). Oddly enough, she ended up buying my current mattress for me, and it on sale for $500. I almost died from shock at the price, but it is one of the most comfortable things I’ve ever slept on (my pillows are a different story *sigh*).

        Basically – splurge on the mattress. It’s necessary.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        Absolutely this! Other than my car, my mattress remains the most expensive thing I ever purchased but it’s still comfortable after 15 years. It’s made all the difference in preventing back pain and being well rested.

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

      I envy you do much!! I started flat hunting recently and the insane rent prices and requirements (thanks, Corona!) make it tougher than usual.

    6. MissCoco*

      If you can swing it (either with a hotel or have local friends/family) – have somewhere else to sleep the first night. It takes a lot of pressure of how clean/organized things need to be at the end of that first long day of moving and unpacking, and getting out of a partially unpacked place to sleep somewhere else was a huge relief for me after my first big interstate move.

      I really love plants to make a space feel lived in and occupied, and there are lots of cat-safe houseplants that are on the easy-care end of the spectrum.

      Also, a decent (or even not-so-decent, depending on the size of your place) Bluetooth speaker was a huge upgrade in my quality of life when living alone – I find listening to music or podcasts really helped on days I was feeling a bit lonely or my brain was fixating on the normal sounds of an empty house.

    7. Marion Ravenwood*

      Firstly, congratulations!

      I just moved into my first all-by-myself flat a month ago (first time solo living since university halls), and although I’m still relatively new to the game, here are my thoughts:

      – Don’t go too nuts buying things or thinking the whole place has to look like something out of a magazine the second you walk in the door. I am really trying to fight that urge myself but it helps a lot to live in a place first and get an idea of what you need/want over a few weeks or so (I make a list on my phone of the stuff I’d like to do so I don’t forget but also as a reminder that I don’t have to act on it now). That’s not saying don’t treat yourself to some fancy bits, but more that it may well take time for you to put your stamp on it. You can always buy cheap stuff in the likes of IKEA and save for ‘nicer’ things down the line.
      – What has made the place feel really like home for me is getting some of the various artwork I own framed and put up (I’m not sure if you’re renting or buying but if you’re renting maybe check your contract that this is OK first). Also plants, books, soft furnishings, maybe even painting a wall or adding some decals (again if you’re able to do so) – just something to make it feel a bit more ‘you’.
      – If you’re moving to a new area, and it’s safe to do so where you are, I’d recommend going there for maybe half a day to explore – find the nearest supermarket, park, nice cafes etc and just generally wander around. If you know people in the neighbourhood it may be worth picking their brains as well. My boyfriend’s best friend and his wife live 10 minutes walk away from me and they’ve been invaluable with helping me find my feet.

      I think everyone else has covered off the stuff around moving, so all I’ll add is: good luck! And very best wishes for the future in your new home :)

    8. Elizabeth West*

      My tip:

      Don’t buy a ton of stuff right away! This applies to decor as well as everyday useful items. Try living with what you have for a bit so you can see what you might need/want before you go filling up the space. It’s really easy to go overboard or pick something shiny that doesn’t really fit in with how you want to use the space.

      I ran into this when I bought my house and I honestly wish I’d waited a bit. If I had, I would have had a better sense of how I wanted it to look rather than cramming in things that didn’t fit or changing my mind later (going from Victorian cottage to a more streamlined aesthetic). Now that I’ve purged a ton of stuff, I’m going to wait before I add anything back in when I get a new place.

      1. Toothless*

        Related to this – placeholders can help a lot with this! I was told the same thing, but it’s really hard to wait on stuff like a mattress and a dresser when you just want to feel moved in. I used the cardboard box from the microwave as an endtable, put boxes of books in the place where I’d want a shelf to go, bought a cheap folding table to use for a kitchen table, slept on a camp cot for a couple weeks until the mattress arrived, used folding chairs with the kitchen table (which I actually liked so I still use them!), and so on.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, obviously, if you don’t have cookware or a bed, that’s different. I mean things like decorations, furnishings that fall more into the Ooh-I-Want-That rather than stuff you need to live, etc.

    9. Lady Meyneth*

      Congratulations! I’ve moved a few times over the years, and my main advice is give yourself time.

      – You likely won’t feel at home as soon as you cross the door, and that’s normal. It’ll come in a little while.
      – You won’t have every piece of furniture/decoration you’d like, and may not be able to get it too soon. It’s really expensive and time consuming to decorate your first solo home, so don’t feel you have to do it all right away. It’s alright to take your time.
      – Make sure you introduce yourself to your next door neighbors if you haven’t already, maybe bring them a cupcake or something. Bonus points if you can do it before moving day, because you won’t manage to for awhile after, and it may buy you a lot of goodwill in the future.
      – If you haven’t already rented/bought your flat, and especialy if you don’t know the area well, call a few of the local takeout places and see if they deliver there. It’s a good way to check if your future street isn’t too dangerous.
      – On moving day, don’t worry about leaving boxes unopened. Make sure you have whatever you really need on clearly marked boxes, but don’t be stressed that you can’t organize evry single thing from the get go. It takes time and that’s ok.

      Also, I don’t know your family, but you probably have at least one annoying relative (don’t we all?) who’s going to find fault with everything. It won’t be clean enough, decorated enough, in the right colors, etc etc. When it happens, remind yourself it’s YOUR home, and you can ignore them, talk back or throw them out if you want to. Even if you don’t, knowing you CAN is really soothing.

    10. AlabamaAnonymous*

      Get a can opener! Or perhaps more realistically, just remember that there will probably a lot of little things that you don’t think about until you need them. And that’s OK.
      (I remember coming from my first big trip to the grocery story to my very own apartment, only to realize that I had purchased lots of canned goods–cheap, easy–but had no can opener to open them with.)

    11. Emi*

      Yay! Congrats!!! In my experience, it takes a while to get used to a new space and making it your own, so take your time to experiment and figure out what suits you best.

      I’d recommend setting up a routine for cleaning and organizing. Keeping the place clean and things in place is such a game-changer in my opinion. And as a cat lady, 100% get a cat but only when you feel ready to do it :)

      Definitely tag your boxes so that you know what’s in each one when unpacking. And I’d also recommend donating and/or getting rid of things you don’t need/use anymore.

    12. Lobsterp0t*

      If it’s pretty empty at first, don’t rush to stuff it full of furniture. Take some time to get to know yourself in the space. Go slow and figure out what you really like and want.

    13. No fan of Chaos*

      Don’t buy anything you don’t love. If you think about the item for a day or two and have to go back and visit it again, then it is probably a keeper.

    14. Kardamumma*

      I’m a relatively affluent woman but also a “thrifter”. Especially for small appliances, consider checking a local thrift store/charity shop. Things like coffee mills, for my spices or a citrus juicer (for my marmalade) or slow cookers, toasters or coffee makers I think people are often given them as presents and then declutter and get rid of them. I’ve also got lovely duvet covers and sheet sets – just not someone’s taste? A cycle through “sani” wash and good as new for a fraction of the price.

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    As usual, this thread is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.
    My apologies for not having been here the past few weeks, I was very busy. All the writing I have done was basically fluff between two characters because sometimes the best way to unwind is to write about two dorks being cute together.

    1. Curly sue*

      It’s good to see you back! I enjoy these threads quite a bit.

      I’ve mostly been taking a brain-break myself and messing about with low-pressure fanfic for fiction. All my focus has been on editing my academic writing, and I ran out of words for other things.

      On the exciting side, my publisher did a cover release for my upcoming rom-com release (August), and people seemed to like it! (I had very little say over the design, and learning to let go of the need for control was a process.) I’m not sure if linking it here is legit or not, so I’ll hold off on the self-promo.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        You’re welcome :). To be fair, in case I don’t show up it is 100% okay for others to start up this thread, I just tend to be one of the first weekend posters because of time zones, I suppose.

        Also, I definitely feel you on the brain break front.

        Sounds like exciting times for you!

    2. S*

      Hello writers!
      My own writing project really got a boost from an interview I watched between George Saunders and Anne Lamott (it was a Politics and Prose book event – you can find it on youtube, I HIGHLY recommend.) They both talked about printing lots of drafts and working on paper. So I found all the dribs and drabs in various documents scattered around my computer and printed them all out. It was magic for me! Somehow reading my drafts on paper was a completely different experience, and I found myself cutting out paragraphs and making little piles, each of which was the kernel of a chapter. Now I’m working on building out each kernel into its full idea. The lesson for me: go tactile.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, I often see the recommendation to print things out when you’re correcting/editing them. I’ve also recently read an article that apparently people retain information better when it’s on paper vs on a screen, I wonder if that’s related?

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve been working on an unrelated project, but I did have a wrestling match with a particular chapter. It’s mostly just a revealing conversation and I haven’t been able to think of a better way for the characters to convey the information that doesn’t ruin a later event. Show is usually better than tell but I’m not sure that’s the case here.

      I sat on it for the past few days and will probably go back and look at it in a bit, to see if I can tweak it further. My main issue was that it’s too long. I did cut out a lot of “Say what!?” dialogue; hopefully, that helped.

      These little sticking points are the worst, but it feels so good when you fix something that’s been bugging you.

  5. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What has everyone been playing this week?
    As usual, this thread is not limited to video games, so feel free to talk about any game you like. Also feel free to ask for recommendations and help identifying vaguely-remembered games.
    My apologies for my absence the past few weeks, I got very busy. I did get in some gaming, playing some Stardew Valley because dammit that game is so good.

    1. LDN Layabout*

      I’ve been sucked in Genshin Impact, which is a gacha open world rpg hybrid…thing. Dangerous for the gambling element, but my rule is that I don’t spend more than I would on an MMO subscription every month so it keeps me honest.

      I’ve also got a few romance/otome visual novels going on the Switch.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Ooh, can I ask which visual novels you’re playing?
        I’ve been trying to look for a the Switch version of Code: Realize but the base game is sold out at my usual store, so I’m hoping they’ll get in a new batch. The joys of being into relatively niche genres, I suppose…

        1. LDN Layabout*

          I finished Nightshade a while back (which is on sale right now in some of the eshops if you’re interested) and then recently I got sucked hook, line and sinker into Collar X Malice, and stormed through both it and the sequel/fandisc in binging fashion!

          I’ve started C:R, but I’m thinking I may take a little break before I do, I feel like my brain still wants more CxM (which if you are interested in, avoid spoilers if you can!)

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            Hmm, the store I usually go to does have Collar X Malice Unlimited…that’s at least going on the wishlist. I’ll have to check Nightshade, too. Doesn’t seem like there’s a physical version in the West, but I’m already glad it’s on a portable console.

            1. LDN Layabout*

              Unlimited is the sequel, so don’t get it without the first (You wouldn’t be the first, apparently!).

              I’d check with the store whether they expect more copies, seeing how niche there are, some titles just get that one run and then you’re waiting for a while.

              Yeah Nightshade (and I think another forthcoming title, an old PS2 port I think) handle the localisation issue by having no Western physical release but every version of the game has English (and a few other) language subs. You can just import a JP version but I’ve heard the expense is horrific.

              1. A.N. O'Nyme*

                Ahh, I see. The description made it seem like it was the main game, but I checked their sold out section and it does indeed have the standard version listed there. I thought it might have been an updated re-release or something.

                The store sometimes has Asia English versions in stock (like for the Ace Attorney Trilogy) but unfortunately Nightshade isn’t among them. I might check to see if I can’t find it anywhere, but if I can’t I’ll probably grab it digitally. I can always get a physical version later.

                1. LDN Layabout*

                  People have recommended playasia as a source for Nightshade but it’s…very expensive. I do know a lot of people prefer having a physical copy though.

                  Aksys (who seem to be the localiser of choice for Otomate titles) have CxM available in their webstore (avoids Amazon and shows people are still buying, which appears to be a big driver from what I’ve seen of English VN players online)

                2. A.N. O'Nyme*

                  (Ran out of nesting)
                  Hmm, I’ve heard mixed things about Playasia. Apparently it’s great when all goes well, but when things go awry it’s like pulling teeth. Personally I do prefer physical versions, but that has its limits, so unless I run into a secondhand copy in the wild I’ll probably get it digitally. At least the Switch uses normal micro SD cards instead of those insanely expensive PS Vita proprietary cards, so I’m not too concerned about storage space.

                  I’ll take a look at the Aksys store too, but I’ll probably hold off on buying anything because unfortunately money isn’t infinite. Good to know about though!

    2. Dr.KMnO4*

      I’ve played so much Stardew Valley this week! Working on the Perfection challenge that was added in the 1.5 update. I love this game.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Same. Especially with all the free updates…that game is such a labour of love and it shows.

    3. DarthVelma*

      I got my partner some of the expansion Elder ones and season 2 of Cthulu: Death May Die for his birthday recently. We eked out a win against Yog Sothoth last weekend and are planning on taking on the Black Goat of the Woods later this afternoon. We’re really enjoying the game so far – it seems really well balanced. We either just barely lose or just barely win.

      We’re also looking at trying the Outriders demo this weekend to see if it might fill the Fortnite/Destiny 2/Elder Scrolls Online shaped hole in our gaming right now.

    4. Laure001*

      God Stardew Valley is awesome. I think I spent like a year on it! It’s my favorite game after the best game of all time which is, of course, Breath of the wild.

    5. Not My Money*

      I love Mancala but my husband doesn’t like to play board games so I finally downloaded it. I’m enjoying it but I think I need to find one I can play against another person instead of the AI.

      1. Jackalope*

        I love Mancala too, and can so rarely find someone to play with me. It’s fun and simple and goes fairly quickly, and if you have a decent sense of basic math you can figure out good strategies.

    6. Nicki Name*

      I just finished the Azure Moon branch of Fire Emblem: Three Houses last night. I appreciated that towards the end there was less overlap with the other branches I’ve played (Verdant Wind and Silver Snow). Also I wound up with some couples in the epilogue, I don’t think I’d seen that in other branches.

      I originally planned to take another break before tackling Crimson Flower, but today I feel like I just want to dive right into it and finish the game off.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Every route will have couples, it all depends on which friendship levels you achieve with characters etc.

        (and VW and SS are essentially the same route, which is heartily annoying and I wish more effort had gone into VW because you can tell it’s the route with the least dev time allocated to it)

      2. Jackalope*

        I started w/ Crimson Flower & really loved it. Switching routes is going to be tough but I’m going to do Verdant Wind next. I just finished a second run-through of the DLC as a kind of break, and because I like the DLC battles (even though they can be frustrating at times!). My favorite is the battle where you have to speed through the gates to the end; it’s a great challenge that’s not just about fighting enemies, but also about non-fighting strategy.

    7. twocents*

      I finished Gnosia earlier this week, and I’ve been hooked on Littlewood since. It’s got a lot of farming, building, town design, etc elements but I love how easy they’ve made everything. I flattened and reshaped my entire town in less than an hour. All the people have distinct personalities (no copying the same lines across three palette swaps). It’s got an interesting narrative thread and you can pick it up immediately; no month long tutorial hand holding period.

      I’m only here now because my Switch is charging.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Ooh, I’ve been eyeing Littlewood. Good to hear it’s as good as it looks!

        Gnosia I don’t think I’ve heard of, what is it like?

        1. twocents*

          Gnosia is basically the tabletop game Werewolf, which you’ll play again and again against the AI, while you work to figure out the larger story. It’s very sci-fi and heavy character focus. Even characters that are deliberately off-putting, I still had moments where I really liked them. The variety there is great.

          If you’ve played a game in the Zero Escape trilogy, I’d say it’s pretty similar to that, but a bit more focused than the “let’s talk about random science” approach Zero Escape has. I’ve also heard it’s similar to Raging Loop, though I’ve not played that one.

    8. Bookgarden*

      Ahh, Stardew Valley, one of my all time favs! I’ve been playing the beach farm with my partner and love/hate the new local. Love having convenient access to the ocean, but hate only being able to put a few sprinklers on the dirt patch. Overall, really happy with it and enjoy the challenge.

      Also, just finished Miles Morales earlier this week and have been playing a little Hades before bed. Both are so good, even though I’m stuck on the Hydra for now.

    9. I take tea*

      I usually skip this thread, I’m not a gamer, and I don’t even have a computer for it, if I wanted to. But last week I finally got the joy of computer gaming. My partner had bought me a game called Gorogoa and I got to use the desktop computer, and I was hooked. It’s a puzzle game and it’s so much fun! I was so proud of myself for figuring out how to do some things, even if I had to ask for help for others. It’s pretty too, and I like the feeling of parallel worlds in it.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Honestly, literally any gaming is okay here, so if you’re an ardent snake fan wanting to tell us how you beat your personal record or a Candy Crush player who finally beat a level that had been giving you trouble, that would be fine too.

        And yes, I love that “aha!” moment when you figure out a puzzle too.

        1. DarthVelma*

          Yup. I usually talk in this thread about what tabletop or PC games I’m playing, but I’m addicted to several games on my phone too. And anyone who tries to tell me those aren’t “real” games will regret it deeply. My video gaming career started with Pong. I am THE OG gamer. I have ALL of the street cred here. And I proclaim that everyone who plays any kind of game is a gamer.

          I also proclaim that anyone who tells anyone else they aren’t a “real” gamer is a knobhead.

    10. lady gamer or something*

      It’s rare that I can coordinate my housemates to play board games with me, but we were finally able to play Betrayal at House on the Hill. It was not my first time playing, but it’d been a while. We lost, but we all enjoyed it. We had to play on the floor because there was no way we would have been able to clear the table enough :)

      I started playing Shenmue 3. It does have a Shenmue vibe, but the plot is a lot slower than the first two. I’m pausing at the halfway point of the game for now. I think it was foolish not to finish the series with this one, especially with the funding tomfoolery :( I am enjoying it, but I knew what I was getting into.

      PC Building Simulator was a chill and relaxing game for me until some of my save data got messed up. Ugh. I think it was Steam’s fault. I’ll go back to it once enough time has elapsed for it not to feel too much like I’m repeating the same stuff.

      I had to wait until I upgraded my computer to play Six Ages: Ride Like the Wind since it’s not playable on Windows 8. I really liked King of Dragon Pass and I am happy with this one, too. I feel like I more or less understood the mechanics in KoDP but I’m still getting the hang of them in SA. I got so close to winning, but a series of bad events basically made that file unwinnable without restores. I just started a new clan so hopefully I can win with this one.

  6. Pug Club*

    I’m thinking about buying a home that was a foreclosure (the bank is selling it) but am having some ‘bad vibes’ around benefitting from someone else’s misfortune. It’s in a small town where I’m a recent blow-in so I’ve heard the whole story of the previous owners and the mishaps that led to the foreclosure (acrimonious divorce, kids involved, went badly). There’s no bad blood about it in the area so to speak and I think the original owners still live local-ish. I bought a foreclosure apartment many years ago and had nothing but bad luck while I owned it. Am I overthinking the bad vibes about getting a sweet deal on a home based on someone else’s misfortune? I plan to live in it, not flip it.

    1. c-*

      Well, do you feel comfortable doing it? As the saying goes, there’s no ethical consuming under capitalism, so I wouldn’t focus as much on the profiting off someone’s misfortune aspect (there’s no way one can avoid all of that) but on whether you feel comfortable making this purchase, be it ethically, spiritually, or otherwise. Without taking the price into account, how do you feel about this home? If the price wasn’t below market, would you purchase it? Would you feel ashamed of talking about it, of living in it, of having people over?

      1. Pug Club*

        I really like the house and mad as it sounds I’d feel much better paying market value for it! I’ve driven past it daily for the last couple of years always thinking I’d love to buy it if it came up for sale and then there’s the sale board outside it this week. It has been significantly damaged/vandalised inside, not sure if by the prior owners or if it was burglarised, as in the heating system has been ripped out, the water tank is missing, the electrics are in a terrible way etc. so it would be an expensive reno but one I’d love all the same because the house has such character and I love the location.

        1. Dumpster Fire*

          Have you gotten any estimates of the repairs that will be needed to make it habitable? and would you still have a bit of your budget remaining once that work is done? If so, perhaps you could make a donation to a local cause that would make a difference to your town – so your good fortune could also be good fortune to others.
          My sister has a “the house talked to me” sense – as in, she knows very quickly whether a house is for her, just feels it. I’ve had that, but less so. How do you feel when you’re there? Does it feel like home (the damage notwithstanding)?

          1. c-*

            I think this is a great idea! And like others said, if it’s so damaged, then it’s fair to pay a lower price (the money and time you put into the house will bring it up to market value).

            If you like the home and the location and look forward to (all the effort of) renovating it, I say go ahead. You can give back to your community in other ways if you want to make things better for others :)

          2. Pug Club*

            Between the pandemic and the auction looming the realtor has only allowed one (very brief!) viewing so it wasn’t possible to bring someone along for costings. It’s likely to be very expensive to fix everything that’s wrong with it (and that’s assuming there’s no major structural faults!). Because it’s in such a bad way inside it was hard to get ‘the feeling’!

          1. Pug Club*

            In all likelihood not really. There’s a reserve for the auction and I’d expect it’ll go way above that on the day.

        2. Joan Rivers*

          Any house you buy will be due to the owner leaving it, for some reason. If not foreclosure, then maybe death. But after a long happy life there, maybe. If you know you can handle the reno, and want it, you should be OK. Are you sure? If you passed it up, how would you feel? Like it was the one that got away?

        3. YesImTheAskewPolice*

          I think the required renovations could actually help with turning the house more into your own place, as compared to a similar situation in which you would take over an already perfect place.

          Do you know how long the house has been vacant? It might be worth assessing its overall and structural condition by a professional, since sellers are not always very straightforward with more hidden damage. Weather and lack of maintenance can cause quite some deterioration.

          1. Pug Club*

            It’s been vacant for around 8 years I’m told although it’s not a ruin inside if that makes sense. It would need replumbing and rewiring plus a new heating system, two new bathrooms (tubs were torn out!) plus there’s some unfinished work on the roof.

        4. Observer*

          With that level of damage, they would be selling the house for waaay below typical market value anyway. In some markets, it would not matter what condition the place is in, but that’s highly unlikely to be the case in a small town. So, you may not be benefiting all that much from this family’s misfortune.

    2. Scc@rlettNZ*

      Presumably the bank are setting the price? (I’m not from the US so I’m not sure if a foreclosure, or mortgagee sale as we call them, is handled the same as in NZ).

      Without sounding callous, if you don’t buy it someone else will, it’s not like the bank will give it back to the previous owners.

    3. WS*

      Well, it’s no good if you’re not going feel comfortable and at home there! What’s different about this house compared to your foreclosure apartment?

      Personally, I think houses are there to be lived in – leaving them for the bank is not helping anyone.

      1. Pug Club*

        Wow where to start. The apartment I bought when I was really young, it was all I could afford and it wasn’t in the nicest area of the city. This house is a family sized home in a nice country town, with quiet neighbours and an overall relaxed country-living kinda vibe. But, the run of bad luck I had both with the apartment and with my life while I lived in it has always made me wonder if it was some kind of karma for profiting from the foreclosure – I’m not usually superstitious at all but after everything that happened I had to wonder.

        1. 00ff00Claire*

          My two cents is that your brain is probably playing a bias-type trick on you. If you are not usually superstitious, then maybe you can think through why your brain has formed this particular association with the previous apartment? Brains are weird. Think about it this way – what was the street name or number of the previous apartment? Would you avoid buying a house because the street it is on starts with the same letter or contains the same number? From your description of the repairs needed, it sounds like the savings from the purchase price will be balanced out with other costs, so maybe you can lean into that logic to “reason” with your brain.

        2. Observer*

          In other words, you bought a marginal place that you were not that happy with to start with in a bad part of town. It strikes me that THOSE factor would have far more to do with your problems than profiting from the foreclosure that you had no part in causing.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It’s a bit mind-bending to think about, but the people who buy these houses bring closure (literally and figuratively) for the previous owner’s misfortune. I have a house near me that will be sold at auction, as the neighbor, I would just feel a sense of relief that the house is not vacant any more. I hope the new owner takes care of it, even if it’s to just do basics. And I hope the new owner is friendly and nice. This all to say, I do not think of the new owner as a “vulture”, I think of the new owner as a “rescuer”.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        It’s interesting you say that, I was thinking that as well. Even if it wasn’t foreclosure, you never know the circumstances behind the sale. and honestly sometimes it’ can be a huge relief to just let it go.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      My friend’s childhood home, which she lived in with her husband and kids an additional 10-15 years after her parents moved out of state, was foreclosed on about six years ago. She then got divorced, which was a long time coming. She said she drove by it a couple times and although it was sad since she’d been there for about 43 years, she was happy to see the new owners taking care of it in a way she never did and wasn’t able to. She said it was also a reminder of the good years she had, as well as all the bad ones, so it was closure for her. She had no ill will toward the new owners.

      My first house was a foreclosure that had belonged to my husband’s aunt and uncle, who were still alive and we talked to the aunt regularly (she was in the same town). Although it felt a little weird at first, I was happy to get a house at such a low price. The trade-off to the very low price was all the repairs we had to do. His aunt had divorced the uncle and moved out about five years prior, while the uncle and his cousin remained and let the house fall into disrepair. Then it went into foreclosure and we bought it about two years later. I felt very weird talking about the updates we made over the years, but she said she loved seeing what we did with it, especially the paint colors and flooring. She was happy to see the house go to family and to see us take care of it.

      Since your foreclosure came about after a divorce that went badly, it’s possible the former owners are happy to see it gone, as it may remind them more of the bad years than the good ones. It may be closure for them. But really, I wouldn’t even think that deeply about it. I wouldn’t worry about the fact that you got a “sweet deal.” Someone has to buy that house and take care of it, why not you? If not you, it will just go to someone else.

    6. sequined histories*

      It’s not as if you will improve these people’s lives by not buying the house. You did not put them out of the house. It sounds like they don’t even live in one, single household any more. If you want to forgo buying a house and instead give the money to people who need money more than you do, that’s a lovely thing to do. But if you’re plan is to buy a house, I’m not sure there is a big moral difference between this house and another one. The older a building is, the more likely it is that something sad happened there. Frankly, many aspects of our social order involve some people profiting from others’ exploitation and misfortune, and if you really want to push back on that and make society less systematically cruel and unjust, you probably need to join a larger political movement.

      1. Jen*

        Exactly. They are losing the house no matter what. Better it be occupied and cared for than sitting vacant (which can be really bad for a house).

    7. Asenath*

      I don’t think it would bother me. I don’t know what the former owners might think, but I suspect if I were in their shoes I’d see the final disposal of the house as putting an end to a really bad time in my life (well, assuming that the other bad parts, like the divorce, were also completed). I also don’t put weight in bad vibes from previous experiences in a house – I’ve lived in old houses which had probably see their share of tragedies without noticing anything of the sort. I used to visit a friend in an old house in which at least one person, a child who had died as a result of an accident in the house – before the time of me or my friend, but he was a relative of hers and we knew the story. It was a tragic story, but the house was always welcoming to me because, I suppose, of the people who lived there then. I wouldn’t see buying a house that someone else had to sell as benefiting from their misfortune, but as part of life moving on. I sold a house once for a low price, all I could get, and I was just happy it was no longer my responsibility. I’d moved on, and I needed to sell the house to help settle in my new place.

    8. Queer Earthling*

      New agey suggestion: Do you think doing some kind of ritual, if you do move in, might help you feel better? Rituals exist to ease our minds more than anything, and if you’re feeling bad vibes about it, maybe consciously doing something to “create” good vibes might help? Whether that’s something like burning incense/ringing bells in all the rooms to remove bad spirits/bad feelings, or something physically practical like a deep cleaning, or finding out a charitable cause in the area and making a donation with intent…maybe that might ease your mind?

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I’ve flipped 4 homes, for a profit, and always check the Numerology of an address. For me that’s worked. I wouldn’t use that alone if I had strong feelings contradicting it, but it’s a factor.

        There are things like mirrors that can offset a house’s issues, too.

      2. osmoglossum*

        So glad you brought this up, Queer Earthling. I had the same thought as I’m unapologetically all about the new age woo woo. Dragon’s Blood resin incense is great for clearing space that has a lot of dense, heavy energy and ringing bells will raise the vibration.

        Good luck, Pug Club. You’ve had your eye on this house for a long time — it needs lots of love and care now and it sounds like you have the financial and emotional means to provide it.

      3. Pug Club*

        One thing I actually love about the house is it’s right next to a small old abandoned cemetery. A really little one with lots of headstones that hasn’t been tended to in decades by the looks of it. I always thinking of cemeteries as good places and sort of peaceful. Maybe those spirits will quell the bad vibes!

        1. Reba*

          Oh, I used to live beside a tiny, old old cemetery too! We loved it — a little green pocket that was always empty and quiet, and would never be built over either.

    9. Anonnington*

      Sometimes, our minds latch onto silly reasons for things when the actual issues are more serious. It’s easier to think about. In this case, it’s easier to think about the previous owners’ lives than all the logistical reasons this particular purchase could be a bad choice.

      You’re probably feeling hesitant for a good reason. Take a step back and consider where that could be coming from. What are the real downsides to this purchase? Or maybe it’s just not what you want? Maybe you’d rather hold out for a different option?

    10. S*

      If you buy into feng shui at all, there’s a theory that the situation of the house itself could have contributed to their misfortune, and could contribute to the misfortune of anyone living there… Trust your gut!

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I agree: trust your gut. If you have an uneasy feeling about the house, don’t buy it. Move on. Your gut could be warning you about the location, not just the house itself.
        But if you do buy it, you can try a smudging ritual or other things to clear the house of bad energy. Maybe have the house blessed – or make changes to the house. Again, trust your gut on what to do next.

        1. HoundMom*

          I am with you. There are several homes we looked out but did not buy because the house had a bad vibe to me. My very practical husband, who could not understand this around our first home, asked me about it for our second home. Every house I had a “bad feeling” about has proven to have had tragedies in it.

    11. Double A*

      Our house was a foreclosure that had great bones but was really dirty. Trash all over the property and super overgrown (we live in a fire prone area). The lot was actually split in two, and family of the people who lost our house still love next door, which could have been awkward but fortunately we have not actually had much interaction with them.

      The story of why our home was foreclosured on was tragic in a different way, but basically when the patriarch who owned it died, the family that moved in neglected it and trashed it. I think they also borrowed against it or maybe didn’t pay taxes, because it must have been paid off or nearly when they inherited it. So on that sense, they got their money out of it and then threw it away and I don’t feel that bad about buying it. Our neighbors are thrilled because the previous residents made them feel unsafe and created a fire hazard.

      We’ve actually talked to the surviving matriarch who owns the adjoining property and she’s glad to see the house being taken care of and a young family living here; she’s still dealing with family who are various degrees of difficult living on her property.

      You’d think maybe the house would feel like it’s got some bad juju from this history, but we’ve revitalized it and we love it and it feels like home. I think buying a family home that was foreclosed on and bringing it back to life is one of the best outcomes for those properties; otherwise it’s likely to be a flipper who truly just profits off misfortune. The foreclosure has happened, and you didn’t cause it. I think if you’ve always liked the house, then buying it and loving it is probably the best outcome in the situation.

    12. twocents*

      Realistically, someone else will purchase the home, and if no one does, it can become a blight on the neighborhood. It won’t go back to the previous homeowners.

      If you want the home because it fits your needs, then there’s no reason to not get it.

    13. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Hi OP (PS I LOVE PUGS!!!!!)

      My childhood home went into foreclosure almost twice.

      The first time, a line of equity was taken out by my parents several years after it had been fully paid off. My sibling took over the mortgage and paid every month. He then went through a rough personal period and tried to sell it. When he couldn’t sell it, he packed up and left it behind. I’m sure it must have been a huge weight off his shoulders. It lay empty for 4 years until my parents moved back to the US and fought with the banks to get the house back, before it went on auction. At some point there were squatters or renters, I’m not sure, but they had done a number on the property. A lot of money was poured into it to make it inhabitable again and then my husband and I moved in and took over the payments. 

      Eventually, we too became desperate to leave. The house had major mold, flooring, heating issues that we couldn’t afford to constantly repair. I hated the neighborhood as well and just wanted out. We invited realtors and some said that they won’t even list it unless we pour $50-100k to fix it. Money we didn’t have. Many were offering what wouldn’t even cover the outstanding mortgage. We were desperate. Our neighbor bought our house for much less than wat we would have sold it for had we gone on market but I wasn’t going to pour $50k to get a possible $60k and live another year in that house. For me, it was a timing issue. If I was patient, I could have waited a year to hold out for the highest payer. Things worked out in the end but it was such a stressful time that we really did consider just walking away and cutting our losses.

      I have no ill feelings towards the new buyers and wish them well in the new home. They sent us pictures of the renovations and it looked beautiful, like it’s full potential was finally being met. I know they took advantage but for my own mental health, I choose not to burn over this. 

      The person we bought our current home from went through a divorce I believe and the house had 2 buyers prior to this whose financing fell through. He had already moved and was paying two mortgages so he was desperate to offload this as well. It wasn’t a foreclosure home but I hope he doesn’t regret holding out for a higher bidder. I certainly hope and pray that when we sell our home we will be in a much better position. 

      1. twocents*

        Is it really “taking advantage” if the house was so bad that realtors wouldn’t touch it without another $50k+ of work? Like how screwed would you have been if you couldn’t off-load it? It may help to think about if the neighbor saved the house from a third foreclosure.

        People get really emotional about homes (understandably!) but that doesn’t inherently give the actual home more value.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Probably bad choice of words on my part. There was a lot of things going on with the sale that I didn’t mention here that made us feel this way; in any case, it doesn’t matter now, they’re enjoying the house and I’m happy where we are.

    14. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      My house was a foreclosure. I don’t think anything particularly dramatic happened, just the previous owner took on more debt than they could afford. I’ve never felt that there was anything wrong with buying it or that there was any bad luck associated with it.

    15. bunniferous*

      I was foreclosed on years ago….and now I sell foreclosures! I look at it like this….there is life after foreclosure, and when one sells, whether to someone who is going to fix it up and flip it, or live in it….it’s like a renewal for the house. You are not benefitting from someone else’s misfortune. Even houses deserve a fresh start! I feel like in the long run I am better off even though we lost that house, and I would not want whoever owns it now to feel the least bit bad. And although most of the houses I sell were vacant when I got them, a few were occupied either by a renter or a previous homeowner. NONE of them thought one single second about whoever was going to buy it later. If anything I think the majority were just ready for a fresh start, like I was.

    16. Observer*

      I think you are definitely overthinking this. People are saying that whether you buy it or not, it won’t keep the family from losing it because SOMEONE will buy it. That’s true, but incomplete.

      The first thing to realize is that the family has ALREADY lost the home. The BANK owns it now. The family is not even in the picture anymore, in all likelihood. The second thing to realize is that you are actually not likely to gain much from this particular situation, as the repairs on this house sound like they will need to be extensive and expensive. So, the money you save on the price is likely to go out in fixing the place.

      Also, someone actually NEEDS to buy this place, fix it and live in it. Abandoned houses are really bad for a neighborhood. So, your purchase will actually do people some good.

    17. Lobsterp0t*

      I think your reservations are totally reasonable because foreclosure is a tool of capitalism (which is itself a system of economic inequality)that’s not wielded fairly or evenly against those who struggle to succeed in the economic system.

      But not buying a foreclosed on house doesn’t fix the system – so maybe you can buy it and fix it and live well in it, and also make a donation to an organisation that helps people with debt or is campaigning around debt in an ethical way. That might make a positive impact while also acknowledging that you’re benefiting from a system that harmed someone else (even though you didn’t cause that harm).

    18. RagingADHD*

      Yes, you’re overthinking it.

      People don’t get foreclosed on out of the blue, or because of one minor issue. And foreclosure isn’t the cause of anyone’s problems – it’s the result of a longstanding, complex situation. A foreclosure happens because the owner’s life has become unstable and financially unsustainable in many ways.

      Trying to make payments on a home you can’t afford is incredibly stressful. By the time the bank foreclosed, that house was a crushing obligation to the owners.

      They are out from under it now, and can go about rebuilding their stability. That’s a positive step.

      That doesn’t mean there’s anything karmicly wrong with the house, or with you. It was just a bad situation for them.

      Do you think anyone whose been through a bad breakup or a divorce is now “untouchable” and nobody should date them? Do you have ethical qualms about benefitting from the ex’s “misfortune” when you date someone new who’s great for you?

      It was a situation that didn’t work out. You didn’t cause or contribute to the problems those people were having. It was over before you came along. Enjoy the opportunity you found, and make the best of it.

      I would, however, give extra thought to any practical considerations – how long had the previous owners been unable to do proper maintenance? Are there any expensive / unpleasant issues with the property or the neighborhood?

      Another poster upthread suggested that your hesitancy might be due to some other issue that you haven’t identified yet. I agree it would be wise to do plenty of due diligence and consider other possible sources of your doubts.

      But no – I don’t think this particular qualm is worth ditching the house over. It’s supertition.

    19. Pug Club*

      Thanks so much for all the feedback – and wisdom! When I bought my last foreclosure I was hesitant about that, bought it anyway and then regretted it…constantly thinking ‘I should have listened to my gut’! Now at the first sign of a gut twitch I get on high alert trying to make a better decision than I did before.

      A small update from my daily commute past the house. The closest neighbors have this morning gated off the access to the side entrance to the house (and it’s parking area) meaning you can now not access the side/rear of the house by road or avail of the parking in the yard at the back. It’s one of those rural things where it could be legal (if they own the access road they’ve blocked) but may not be (if they just think they own the access road but really don’t). This means that the house now has no parking other than on a busy narrow road, so the buyer would need to knock down a front fence and lay a driveway if they have a vehicle to park. My local spies tell me the neighbors have also started to build a wall to fill in the gap in the side garden wall of the house (to give the illusion that you never had side access to the yard to be able to park your car). How neighborly. It might be legal, it might not be, but I’m definitely don’t have it in me to be the one to argue over who is right. Gut….activated!

  7. It's a game it's a game*

    I got vaccinated yesterday! Feeling very lucky and grateful (I don’t have any underlying health conditions despite what the text says) so can only think it’s cos I have a higher BMI, but I’m taking it whatever). I’d love to hear about everyone else’s experiences across different countries?

    For me the experience was really straightforward and quite anti-climactic – I had to queue for half an hour to get in, but once I’d seen the nurse and confirmed my details I was jabbed and out within minutes! I then went back to my parents and played Scrabble (and lost convincingly) until about five hours after, when I started getting chills and shakes, super exhaustion etc.

    Luckily I planned to get it on the Friday so I can rest up this weekend. I am not shaky any more but definitely feel under the weather. Hopefully my cat will not hassle me too much until I feel better… (unlikely)

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I, too, am curious to hear peoples’ experiences. I didn’t get mine yet, but my age group opened up yesterday and I was able to get an appointment for April 3. My employer is tentatively having a vaccination clinic next week (a board member is part of the local hospital and is arranging it for us), but it’s not guaranteed so I made an appointment elsewhere just in case.

    2. US Pfizer-BioNTech*

      Pfizer-BioNTech shot in the US here and couldn’t be happier! Nothing but a sore arm and some fatigue (aka a cozy long nap). The sore arm feels a bit like a tetanus shot initially. The first night was the hardest for me, I tried to roll on my side and the soreness actually woke me up. After that day though it faded pretty quickly. Similar reaction for the second shot. No chills or fever or anything even though I also got it on a Friday just in case. The peace of mind (I live with two relative over 70) has been indescribable.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Pfizer Shot #1 was a week and a half ago. I noticed my arm was slightly sore probably from the shot on the 2nd day after.

        Still was on shot #2. I am disappointed I’m getting it on a Friday because I’d rather miss work than mess up my Easter weekend if if feel some side effects, but I took the first appointment available. I’m really hoping to have none.

        And drive through mass vaccination site was extremely well run and efficient. Lots of people – like 50 – working it but I think they were able to administer 1000 shots in a day.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          It took me about 30 minutes with the 15 minute wait. Part of that was waiting for the car in front of me to move on checking in. I was in the line where I had filled out the previous form online and they took so much longer than me I wondered if they were in the wrong line or something. But 30 minutes was great.

    3. Blurred*

      J&J here in the US. The clinic was extremely well run; I was in and out in 20 minutes, including the 15 minutes of post-shot monitoring. I felt fine for about 12 hours, and then had body chills, a fever, and was extremely tired for 24 hours. My arm didn’t hurt at all. The next day, no effects at all.

    4. OtterB*

      Moderna in the US. I was not yet eligible, but my young adult daughter with intellectual disabilities was. I made an appointment for her, took her to the clinic, and ended up scoring an “extra” for myself from a waitlist at the end of the day. We go back for our second shot in a week. No side effects to shot 1 for either of us other than a very mildly sore arm for a day. When we arrived, they had us wait in the car in the parking lot (giving us a number) until the main check-in area was less crowded. A little slow, but very friendly.

    5. Starr*

      I just got my first shot scheduled for next week, so I’m also curious! Everything I’ve heard from others is that it’s pretty quick once it’s your turn, just it’s a bit of a wait before that. My coworkers have gotten the J&J vaccine and have had a the post shot reaction the day after, but not so bad that they left work (which is fairly physically and mentally demanding). Mine is going to be the Pfizer one, so hopefully it won’t be too bad of a reaction. I got lucky in having my shots line up with some days off.

    6. The Original K.*

      Moderna in the US. Sore arm & lymph node swelling with the first, sore arm and fatigue with the second. Swelling lasted a few days; fatigue lasted one day. I was really emotional about getting it (I teared up when I was getting the first one; the staff was really nice and said it happened all the time). Had maybe a 20-minute wait in line with the first and a longer wait in line with the second. I had to wait half an hour after instead of the usual 15 minutes because I have a food allergy that leads to anaphylaxis (had no trouble post-vaccine).

      My mother had Pfizer and had no side effects with the first and some swelling and soreness with the second. Sibling had Moderna and just had sore arms both times. One of my friends had flu-like symptoms for a couple of days after her second (I think she had Pfizer).

    7. Shell*

      I just had the first of the Pfizer shots on Wednesday. I had no side-effects afterwards at all, except for a mildly sore arm the next day.

      1. BunnyWatsonToo*

        Same with me, except mine was Moderna. In and out in 20 minutes including the 15 minute wait at the end. A bit concerned about potential reaction to the second because I’m scheduled to work that day and the next.

    8. Chestnut Mare*

      I had my second dose of the Moderna vaccine two weeks ago. I had only a sore arm with the first dose, and some minor fatigue with the second.

    9. Oxford Comma*

      In the US. Got my second shot (Pfizer) yesterday.

      Like you, the actual vaccination itself was anti-climatic. It was murder trying to get the appointment, but once I was there, no lines, no waiting. In and out in a 20 minute period.

      Shot #1 – sore arm, feeling went away in a few hours
      Shot #2 – very sore arm and I am utterly exhausted.

    10. Coenobita*

      I’m in the US (in the DC metro area) and have been volunteering at my county’s vax clinic since it opened in late December. I spend one day a week there, and it’s really interesting and cool to see all the process improvements that happen week to week. We have ramped up to the point where we’re constrained mostly by dose availability – if we had more vaccine, we could probably double our throughput. Most people’s experience is that the clinic is a well-oiled machine, though my job is to deal with the edge cases who show up and we can’t find their appointment, or they made an appointment but it’s unclear if they’re actually eligible (we don’t ask for proof of medical conditions or anything like that, but you do need to live in our county), or something weird happened with the state’s registration list AGAIN, etc. and those visits can take longer.

      Personally, I got my first dose (Moderna) in early January and only had a sore arm. About 12 hours after my second dose, I got the standard chills/aches/pains – uncomfortable, but nothing too bad, and it cleared up by the next morning.

      I’m also (unrelatedly) participating in a covid prevalence study run by a local hospital center, so I’ve also had antibody tests done: one after my first dose and one after my second. The second one’s results haven’t come back yet, but the first one came back positive on Euroimmun and negative on Roche, which (in my poor understanding, at least) is exactly what you’d expect for immunity via vaccination.

    11. StripesAndPolkaDots*

      I got the Pfizer shot yesterday, first dose. Just a sore arm for me. I was in and out in 30 minutes.

    12. ThatGirl*

      My husband got his first Pfizer dose yesterday. So far slight arm soreness and he said he felt a little crappy as he was winding down to sleep, but woke up feeling all right. We’ll see how today goes.

    13. I edit everything*

      I got my first yesterday, too. Moderna, US. The process was much the same. It was a drive through, so just sat in the car the whole time. When it was my turn, answered a couple questions, got the jab, and pulled out. They do a fifteen minute waiting period before you can leave leave. But it all runs very smoothly. I have a sore arm and got hit with some tiredness yesterday afternoon, which passed pretty quickly. I expected worse, because they say the first shot can be bad for people who had covid, which I did back in November. But other than the arm, which still hurts, I’ve been good. Famous last words, probably.

    14. Amtelope*

      Moderna here in the US. Scheduled through my local hospital system and had a somewhat long drive to the location that had appointments, but once I got there it was a quick in and out. There was a sign on the door asking people to wait in the car until five minutes before their scheduled appointment time, so no line; went in, confirmed details, waited for a couple of minutes to go back and get the shot, and then sat in one of a line of chairs in the hall for 15 minutes for observation before being free to go.

    15. identifying remarks removed*

      We have two options here – Pfizer or AstraZeneca depending on where you are in the country. I got AstraZeneca. I had last appt of the day and woke up feeling a bit rough the next day. I’d equate it with having the flu – I had a bad headache and ran a fever during the day and then I was ok by the next morning. Small price to pay for getting closer to being back to normal and being able to travel if the vaccine passports become a thing in the summer.

    16. JustWondering*

      I currently live in the southern US, and was able to get my first dose of Pfizer with my mom a couple of weeks ago completely by surprise. A Center near us had some extra doses and we had been put on a list of people interested in receiving doses that other wise would have gone to waste. We got the call to come down and started immediately freaking out and when we got there all the volunteers were incredibly kind, and the process went so smoothly we didn’t even have to wait in a line. I started crying in the parking lot on the way out bc , like for so many other people, this year my anxiety has been all consuming as my father and close family are extremely high risk. Didn’t have many side effects other than just a really sore arm the next day. But I am a bit more concerned for the second dose just based off some anecdotes I’ve heard. Now, once my mom and I get our second shot (and wait two weeks) my household will be all vaccinated. A major blessing that I am so thankful for.

    17. Seal*

      I got my first shot on Thursday (Moderna). My arm was sore right away and I felt a bit off that evening. By Friday, I was so achy and tired I took the afternoon off to sleep. This morning I feel much better, although my arm is still sore. I’m a bit concerned about the second dose, since everything I’ve read says that one usually has worst symptoms. Still, much better than getting COVID!

    18. GoryDetails*

      Pfizer in the US (New Hampshire – things vary a LOT by state here, and even within states sometimes): got my first shot on the 17th, with the second one scheduled automatically. Very quick process, well organized, drive-through at a local high school’s parking lot, with National Guard managing the queue. [I live in a large-ish city so the clinic site was in town and only a short drive from my house; folks in more rural regions undoubtedly have to make longer trips.] I qualified based on age, with no other significant health problems (yet {wry grin}), but as many of my friends do have additional risk factors and have had their vaccines already, I was glad to be able to get mine as well. Looking forward to the first in-person meetups once all our shots have kicked in.

      Side effects: none to speak of, though friends have said that the second one is more likely to produce noticeable side effects.

    19. fposte*

      US here; got my first Pfizer a couple of weeks ago. In and out in under 30 minutes including 15 minutes waiting there post shot to make sure I had no reaction. The appointments were carefully made and nothing resembling a crowd was there. I only had a sore arm. I’m due for my second this upcoming week; they had a little difficulty getting Pfizer in last week, which I hope is resolved now.

      Anybody else read this kind of thread and think about researchers now and in centuries ahead looking at them to assess the changing historical landscape? “You can see that in early 2021 pandemic discussions shifted from getting tests to getting vaccinations, as in these comments.”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! I think all the time about what it’s going to be like looking back on the posts and comments from the last year and how you can see so many shifts in them as we move through the different stages of it all. It was exciting to start getting vaccination-related questions! There’s such an interesting historical record here.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          There is a forum I read that has a fairly old archive. One day I was looking around in there and found the 2001 chatty conversation thread. From September. Boy, how much I had forgotten. All that emotion, as raw as if it had just happened, because it just had, back then.

          Really, it’s already kind of weird to look back to just a year ago. Poor, innocent us, who thought a single lockdown would fix this thing!

          1. Gatomon*

            I went on a search yesterday looking for articles around returning to working in the office, and virtually all of the results were from last May/June, talking about reopening and coming out of lockdown as if that had been the end of it.

        2. lemon meringue*

          It gives me a weird semi-nostalgic feeling to revisit things from this time last year. It feels like revisiting the distant past, except that I have extremely clear memories of it all. Everything from last year feels so different, although my day-to-day life is so similar.

        3. Mimmy*

          I haven’t gone back to read anything from last year, but you’re right–it’d be really interesting to see our thought processes last year at this time.

      2. Felis alwayshungryis*

        I find it interesting seeing everyone compare which vaccinations they get!

        I’m in New Zealand and our vaccination campaign is off to a slow (to be charitable) start – I guess our numbers here are so low they’re watching and waiting to see the best strategy. They’re already doing border staff and high-risk people, but I don’t think it’s being rolled out to the general population until around July, and they’re hoping to have everybody who can and will be vaccinated by the end of the year.

        Pretty sure we’ll mostly be having Pfizer; I know they’ve got deals with all the others, but it sounds like they’ve secured enough Pfizer for everyone.

    20. Chaordic One*

      The really annoying part was having to make the appointment to get the vaccine online. I had to create an online account with the county health department and create yet another password that was at least 10 digits long and included at least one number, one letter, and one symbol. After getting the account set up, I then had to sort through the various locations that were offering the vaccinations to make the appointment. (The pharmacy at the grocery store a block away was booked solid until the middle of April.) It took a good half an hour to set up the account and then another 45 minutes of looking to find a place with an opening. I’m reasonably tech savvy and it would have been a horrible experience for someone less tech-savvy. I can see why others would get discouraged and give up in frustration.

      The appointment was at a college gymnasium a couple of miles from my house 2 days later at 1:30 on Thursday. I showed up for the appointment at 1:20 and they found my name on the appointment sheet, had me fill out some paperwork and then wait in line for my turn. I got the injection at 1:40, waited around for a while afterwards, and then left the building at about 2:00. The actual getting vaccinated part was efficient and well-run.

      I got the Moderna vaccine. Since I’m right-handed I had them give it to me in the left arm. Shortly after the injection I felt a warmth in my left arm and it traveled up the left side of my neck and into the left side of my head. It wasn’t painful, but just an odd feeling. Then, I felt kind of woozy. Not nauseous, but sort of dizzy. The warmth traveled down the entire left side of my body into my left leg. Also, my left arm (where I had the injection) felt kind of numb, like if I had slept on it and it was falling asleep. It wasn’t like I was going into anaphylactic shock or anything severe, so I left. I was hoping to go shopping later that afternoon, but instead I went home and took a nap. I went to work as usual the next day. Two days later, my left arm is still sore and it still feels a bit numb.

    21. Potatoes gonna potate*

      My experience was fairly quick and easy. I fell into the 1B category in my state due to my underlying health conditions and BMI. I had absolutely 0 qualms about being able to qualify (I know that’s an issue coming up for ppl with higher BMIs now that they don’t deserve to be vaccinated).

      I had registered in January and by mid late February I received the link to make an appointment. It was at a huge convention center. I went an hour early just in case. Lots of military personnel there to make sure things were running smoothly. I was only asked for my name and ID etc, they didn’t even check what time my appt was for, so I never had to queue outside. Got the jab and was on my way. I had allotted 4 hours for it but was done in 1 so I enjoyed the extra time I had. 

      Second jab was easier as i knew what to expect – this time, I was asked about my appt time but since I arrived 30 minutes within my appt time, I was let in right away without waiting. again, going from station to station that was manned by military and received my shot from a paramedic who had travelled from Louisiana to do this. (he was just so pleasant and I enjoyed talking to him that I still remember haha). Done in 40 minutes, went home. 

      As for side effects, I was really nervous as everyone i know who had gotten it reported side effects of pain, fever, chills etc. Both times my arms were sore and I was tired but both of those are my baseline so I don’t blame it on the vaccine. For the second one, I had cleared off the 3 days after for the side effects but nothing came, so I enjoyed the little downtime I had. By day 4 I completely forgot I had even gotten the vaccine. 

    22. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I got the first shot of the AstraZeneca in the UK last week. I had no side effects at all.

    23. PollyQ*

      I got my first shot (Moderna) on Tuesday, and had very minor soreness near the injection site for 2 days. Other than that, zero side effects. I was eligible in my state (CA) due to age & various underlying conditions, but I wasn’t even asked about any of them, let alone required to provide proof. I suppose they might have refused me if my birthdate had been different, though.

      There’s clearly something weird going on with the supply chain. My PPO had been taking appointments & giving shots, but mid-Feb they stopped, saying they didn’t have enough supply. However, I got an appointment in less than 24 hours from a local grocery chain. My appointment for the 2nd shot was set 28 days out, and I’m SUPER excited. Because of the aformentioned underlying conditions, I’ve barely gone anywhere in the past 12 months, so this is going to be a huge difference for me.

    24. Southern Academic*

      I’m in a trial (Novavax). I refer to it as “Schroedingers’ Vaccine” –– I simultaneously am and am not vaccinated.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        I just want to say thank you for being in a trial. I was in a medication trial many years ago and I know that it can be unsettling to keep watching for side effects and to not know which group you are in. What you are doing is important.

    25. NorthernAcademic*

      Sputnik, Russia. I got my first shot last week. The queue took less than half an hour and the jab itself was super quick. But the next day I was so under the weather, it really made me mad. And I usually have no reactions to any medication or vaccines. The arm hurt a lot too. It only lasted a day though. I can’t wait till I can get tested for antibodies, after the second shot is done.

    26. LDF*

      My first shot was in the middle of a volunteering shift, so not very generalizable. My second shot was more of a “normal” clinic, albeit a small one set up just for volunteers and medical staff. I had an appointment time that was 5 minutes long. I arrived right around its start time and really did have the shot in my arm in about 5 minutes from showing up after going through the line with everyone else. (Still had to wait in the recovery room for 15.) So if a clinic is not too big and is well-run, it really is possible for them to estimate times that precisely which is nice. The clinics I volunteered at had much longer lines even though those people had appointments too. But I think a lot of people were queuing up before they should have been, and there was also fallout from the winter storms that caused cancellations. This is in the PNW in the US.

      For side effects, first one was mostly just arm soreness for a few days and a little fatigue a few hours after the shot. But for the second one… I got it around 11am, by that night I was starting to feel feverish, had chills all night, slept like ***, and felt like *** most of the next day. Moderna and I am a young woman.

    27. Lemonwhirl*

      I’m in Ireland and I’m in the last priority group, so I’d be surprised, at the rate we’re going, if I even get vaccinated this year. September is probably the earliest I can hope for. I imagine it’ll be AstraZeneca but maybe J&J, since at that point, it should have use authorisation here.
      Seriously feels like I’m going to be waiting forever, feelings that are not helped by us being in lockdown for all of this year so far.

    28. Mimmy*

      My husband and I got the first dose of the Moderna vaccine a bit over a week ago. We live in New Jersey (US).

      The process was pretty easy. We signed up through a statewide registry system in January and got the invitation to schedule earlier this month and were able to find appointments for the same time that were a couple days away at a place a couple towns away but still in our county.

      Everything ran very smoothly–there was a police presence but probably just for crowd control. The line moved through each station quickly. No forms to fill out, just answer a few questions. There was a brief moment of panic when we were next to get the shots – the internet briefly went down! (they had iPads to check registration and scan QR codes). The problem resolved quickly and all was well again. We were there maybe 35-40 minutes, including the 15-minute observation time.

      Shortly after the shots, we both felt a bit off. My husband compared it to a low blood sugar feeling (we are both mildly diabetic). For the rest of that day, I had some wooziness, a very slight fever and mild headache, but it was not debilitating at all. We both had a sore arm, especially the next day, which was pretty much gone by the end of the weekend. I was expecting a lot worse because I talked with someone who said they could not lift their arm for 2 days after their shot. I’d say the soreness was similar to that of a tetanus shot.

      Next dose is April 8!

      1. Ready to go*

        Young (ok, 30) female with no medical reasons to qualify but my entire workplace was vaccinated (if we wanted….which basically everyone did) in February with Moderna because we were at the beginning of 1B based on our profession. Sore arm and sleepy for the vast majority of us. Two or three people complained of fever and achyness, but both shots were on Saturdays and everyone was perfectly fine at work Monday :)

        1. Ready to go*

          And clinic was through work, we showed up, lined up, filled out paperwork, got stuck, waited 15 minutes and then left. Whole thing took 25 minutes max. In a city in the eastern USA.

      2. Anon for this*

        Congrats to you both. I’m glad it went smoothly & with a reasonable wait.

        I’m in NJ & wondering can I ask you about the registry system? I’m not registered & trying to decide if I should be. Does it ask a lot of questions about your personal health & identifying information? (I’m concerned about how secure it is & knowing what information it asks for might help allay that fear.)

        Finally, do you think you would have been able to get an appointment without it? And did you have a choice about locations (could you choose a pharmacy, hospital, etc or is everyone directed to “mega-sites”)?

        1. Just S*

          I live in NJ too, registered on the state site in early January, weakeded immune system, still haven’t heard back. The mega-sites are too far from me. Most hospital sites I’ve tried weren’t scheduling appointments. I would visit CVS, RiteAid, Acme, Shop Rite, Stop n’ Shop and Wegman’s multiple times a day with no luck. I joined a Facebook group that has really helpful suggestions and was finally able to make an appointment. They didn’t ask any personal questions that I recall, mostly standard dr office type and what group I was in. Hope this helps.

          1. Anon for this*

            Thank you. I’m glad you found a way & that it seems possible without the state registration.

            It’s not available for my group yet & I am waiting patiently. I just don’t want to be missing something/want to be prepared when it’s time. I know some people who are waiting until their personal doctor’s office can administer it … I have no idea if that’s going to happen any time soon but that would be wonderful.

    29. Gatomon*

      Pfizer, both shots, in the US. I’ll break my experience into sections. I’m an adult in my early 30s who’s been WFH since the fall. It’ll be two weeks from my second dose tomorrow.

      Experience: I was asked to fill out a small form in advance both times and to bring a copy of my insurance card for billing an administration fee. We were required to wear masks and our temps were checked at the door. The whole process went very smoothly both times; I didn’t have to wait in line at all. The second dose was scheduled for the same day and time 3 weeks later. I went to a clinic at the local college and part of the gym was dedicated to the event.

      Side effects: After the first dose, I felt tired and dizzy for about 24 – 36 hours. I was vaccinated on 2/14, and 2/15 was a holiday, so I was able to sleep in. I did have to shovel the drive, and stupidly got on the treadmill the next day. Both activities wore me out more than usual. My arm was sore, but shoveling the drive relieved the pain. After the second dose, I felt far more fatigued and had flu-like symptoms (muscle and join pains, chills, headache) for about 36 hours. I didn’t have the next day off, but I called out sick. Symptoms were alleviated with OTC pain killers. I just laid on the couch and binged TV.

      Getting signed up: My county decided to prioritize the elderly and PoC 16+ in the tier after healthcare workers, so I was able to get vaccinated very early on as a younger PoC. I didn’t struggle to get signed up, but since I’m WFH I’m just sitting at a computer all day anyway – no real barriers. No doctor’s offices or pharmacies had the vaccines at the time, it was just the county clinic and the college’s clinic. My doctor’s office did call me last week to see if I was interested, so I had them update my chart. Pharmacies are also vaccinating now. My state is supposed to make the vaccines available to everyone on 4/1 – this means they scrapped the tier for frontline essential workers entirely. :(

      1. the cat's ass*

        65+, RN, got moderna mid Jan. after waiting 3 hours in multiple lines. It was a bright sunny day, and i expected to wait, brought something to read. Sore arm and fatigue-i went to be early and felt fine the next day. Shot #2 in mid feb was incredibly speedy -vaccinate more volunteers and you can vaccinate more people! In & out in 30 mins. Felt terrible the next day, achy, temp of 101, headache. Still incredibly grateful.

    30. E. W.*

      Early 30s, Southern California, got my first dose of Pfizer (32 weeks pregnant) at a mass vaccination site, eligible because I teach. Husband lucked into extra dose on the same day. Got the second dose (35 weeks pregnant), no symptoms outside slightly more sore arm. Husband had chills and body aches but nothing too intense. The first dose took 1.5 hours to get through the line, second time around half an hour tops. The mass vacc site made me feel like I was in a movie, totally surreal!

    31. RagingADHD*

      My BMI is going to bump me into one category higher than my age would, and I can’t wait. It’s a proven risk factor, and I’m not vain enough to pretend it isn’t.

      Our rollout has been so slow due to high demand / low availability, it looks like the next big shipment is going to open up all the tiers at once anyhow.

    32. Christina*

      I got Pfizer back in January and my second shot in February because I qualifed through work (though I work from home). For the first shot, my arm just killed me for a couple of days, the first night it was even hard to sleep. Otherwise that one was fine. Second shot I was SUPER worried about all the side effects everyone was talking about, but my arm actually hurt less than the first one and I felt totally fine for 48 hours, and then was talking on the phone and stood up and had to sit back down because I felt really woozy. The wooziness lasted a couple of hours, along with a pretty bad headache and I felt a little queasy (in hindsight I think I also felt a little queasy in those first 48 hours but nothing so bad it even registered), and I had a headache on and off for the next day or two. That was it!

  8. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I’m just curious here. Have you or would you visit a doctor who’s “famous”? With so many TikTok/Instagram famous doctors now, I’m curious how it would be to actually be their patient.

    On that note, are there any that you follow whose content you enjoy? Hate?

    1. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Personally I once visited one who was heavily featured in many articles I read. Saw him and…meh.

      The ones I loosely follow are Dr Mike (an ER doc I believe). my personal favorite right now is Tony Youn, a plastic surgeon. He makes funny videos but also often calls out men who pressure their female partners into getting implants/Lipo etc.

      1. fposte*

        Tangentially, I learned about Dr. Mike because of an 18-year-old Bulgarian girl online being savagely catfished by somebody who claimed to be him. She was sending him money for her visa so she could come and marry him and was becoming estranged from her mother, who was, for damn good reason, not supportive.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Ugh that’s so sad! I randomly saw his videos pop up on my FB feed, and decided to follow him on Instagram. As soon as I did, and commented on one video, I got a huge influx of fake profiles pretending to be him. I’ve been catfished before by “Ed Sheeran” lol so I was used to it. Sad that people do that. I wonder if they ever get caught.

          Also tangentially, there was a Law & Order episode about a popular athlete being catfished. so disturbing *shudder*

    2. No Tribble At All*

      I might it it’s a specialist. The nice thing about videos is you get to see their personality ahead of time. I stopped watching one because he kept interrupting the actual patient’s visit to shill for stuff in his store.

      The two I watch are Healthy Feet Podiatry and the Toe Bro. As you can guess it’s mostly feet things. I had severe ingrown toenails for ages, and watching these doctors fix ingrown toenails gave me the courage to schedule my own appointment.

    3. OtterB*

      I don’t do TikTok or Instagram, but I follow Dr. Sayed Tabatabai @TheRealDoctorT on Twitter. He’s a nephrologist. He posts some really touching stories about patients (suitably anonymized, of course). Less this pandemic year than before.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not social media, but I’ve read a couple of books by Siddhartha Mukherjee, and seen docos based on his books that include him as a speaker, and I really enjoy him as both an author and a presenter.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Ooh yes, books, lol. I read a book by Dr. Jason Fung after joining his group on Facebook. He is a nephrologist from Canada who specializes in treating Type 2 diabetes & obesity. He himself seems pretty level headed and reasonable (his methods are not for everyone and he realizes some things cannot be sustained permanently) but oh my goodness some of his followers in the groups were crazy militant.

    5. pancakes*

      I don’t follow any on social media, but yes, an older friend had a hip replacement done by a doctor who has a TV show, and often appears as a guest on other shows. It went very badly and she’s been involved in malpractice litigation for several years now.

      One of my surgeons when I had breast cancer years ago is sort of an activist within the profession for healthcare reform—writes about it, gives presentations at conferences, etc.—and I really liked that about her. We had a couple of really good talks about it, and I suppose is being on the same page helped make for a warmer doctor/patient relationship than I usually tend to have.

      Now that I think about it, I used to see a gynecologist who hosted an activist radio show called “Snatches.” She was cool and I admired what she was doing a lot.

    6. Catherine*

      I could never go to one who posts patient stories no matter how much they anonymize it! I’d feel way too uncomfortable.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I am 100% sure the patients sign a release to be shown on social media and are allowed to opt out. I think if they did they that without permission, they could lose their medical license, no?

          1. Catherine*

            I’m sure that’s the case, but I would be uncomfortable even being asked to sign the release. Part of what I’m paying for when I pay doctor’s fees is for us to politely pretend that they don’t think about me when they’re not at work.

            1. Analog Lifer*

              Hmmm. Why would you want this to be so? I contemplate my patients all the time – it’s how I prioritize my ongoing learning and training, my work related reading etc. Not infrequently, when a new medication or treatment option is approved, I think about specific patients that might benefit – and sometimes dig out old charts and proactively call them. I thought about them (as a group, but also some specific people) when implementing our mass vaccination program, when developing our outreach and even when parking in our (too full) lot. I also recall jokes and stories they told, advice they offer about recipes or fishing holes, etc. Some of my patients do think of me, which is optional and often exceptionally touching. I definitely think of them a lot. Not all of them are in my mind as individuals, but a surprising number are.

              I would never want to be treated by someone who didn’t think about (at least some of) their patients when they weren’t at work. I would think it would be impolite to imply or pretend I didn’t think of them!

              Also: no, probably wouldn’t lose a medical license (that’s pretty difficult) but could be fired, censured or sued.

              Lastly, I actually agree with what I think Catherine might be implying which is: this could be considered coercive. There is a definite authority gradient between physicians and patients, and I would be concerned that a patient would feel obligated to sign – thinking if they didn’t that they might receive lower quality care or that I might not “like” them.

              Also (because this is an interesting topic) see the current situation at OHSU with the TikTok Doc(?). Contending he received less scrutiny after serious allegations of assault because the organization liked the publicity. OHSU and this TikTok guy are being sued for $45 million dollars.

    7. Hobbit*

      I have visited a doctor who, as the head of a very specialized clinic, gives a lot of talks and TV interviews (I haven’t looked him up on social media) about his specialty of choice and, in these times, offering advice on how his patients (or patients with the same issues) should make sure they’re safe but not abandon their treatments. Never had a problem, guy’s extremely down to earth and really, an excellent doctor. I’m not sure I’d go to him if he was social media famous, though.

    8. Seal*

      I have a bad knee and back issues and occasionally watch Bob and Brad, the 2 most famous physical therapists on the Internet (in their opinion, of course!). They have a lot of good videos that explain a wide variety of joint and muscle issues in easy to understand terms and clearly demonstrate exercises. They’re pretty laidback and a bit goofy, but give great advice. Highly recommend.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I googled “problems with Dr Mike” and it seems like most of them are related to him (and those like him) advertising and the maskless boat party he had a few months ago. The first point, I can kind of understand the criticism. I’m not a fan of the “influencer” culture at all.

        In my case, I watched his videos reacting to popular medical shows. and a few posts on IG here and there. I would not take medical advice from him or anyone actually lol. Just pure entertainment. But one thing I do like is that some of them will point out something, and that can lead to someone doing research which should, ideally, involve their own doctor. 

        Aside from being an influencer and the maskless boat party, is there anything else I’m missing? 

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          A doctor who earns his living as a medical expert and builds a national public persona throwing a maskless party and advertising that party isn’t enough?

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            I don’t see that he advertised it, just that it leaked. and he apologized. But yes, it’s very reckless and irresponsible. My asking if there was anything else wasn’t meant to convey that I condoned his actions, that I didn’t know prior to posting this.

          2. pancakes*

            I’d never heard of this guy and this is pretty appalling. The photos are bad, too – the group look like cliche badly-behaved tourists.

            1. Potatoes gonna potate*

              I agree, I had no idea about it until I posted it here. I just saw a few of his vids on FB and followed then unfollowed him on IG. (I generally avoid YT).

              1. pancakes*

                Me too. It’s wild how many YouTube personas have, like, millions of followers, and are huge within their ecosystem but not necessarily within others.

        2. RagingADHD*

          I enjoyed his content for a while – fairly practical and of course he’s easy on the eye.

          But the whole boat party thing put me right off him. Particularly because his lame-ass apology was full of untruths that were obvious from the photos, like the number of people and distancing.

          And he posted it on a secondary account and worked very hard to keep his main group of followers from ever hearing about it – deleting comments, etc.

          He may have rectified some of that since, or done a more truthful & comprehensive apology, but I don’t know because I tapped out.

          He showed his character and his priorities. I don’t trust him to tell the truth about anything anymore.

    9. Not My Money*

      Not quite the same but my dentist started going on TV quite a lot after I started seeing her. Luckily it didn’t change her or the practice – she’s still my favorite medical professional.

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

      My OB/GYN is a pro-choice activist that got moderate fame after speaking at an abortion-related hearing. The biggest downside is her agenda is so full you have to book two months in advance for a checkup.

    11. GoryDetails*

      I wouldn’t choose a doctor based on fame alone – and if it was social-media-type fame or talk-show fame I might avoid them even if otherwise convenient.

      Unless it was Dr. Ed Hope, of Dr. Hope’s Sick Notes on YouTube – he’s a UK junior doctor (I think that’s the equivalent of a resident in the US?), and does a variety of posts, from medical-specific – his COVID-era posts provided both touching and harrowing views from the inside – to fun-with-pop-culture. He does analyses of fight scenes in movies, pointing out the likely medical results of, say, Watchmen’s Night Owl delivering a punch to the jaw, or a Star Wars battle between Darth Vader and rebel troops. And – my favorite ones – he’ll analyze medical TV shows or anime, touching on the things the shows do right and the ones they get horribly wrong. His past posts include episodes of ER, Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Doctor, and more. And for me the best of all: his coverage of the animes of Cells at Work and Cells at work: Code Black, in which anthropomorphic blood cells go about their daily tasks supplying the body with nutrients and oxygen and battling invaders. The animes are well-researched, and Dr. Hope was so gleeful when he first started watching and realized that even little artistic touches were nods to the science behind the viruses and different blood products that it was quite charming to watch. (Both series include illnesses, of course, but the first series is more upbeat – a usually-healthy body and a well-tuned immune system – while Code Black deals with a body with many health issues and lots of very bad habits, and whose cells are showing their own versions of stress in trying to do their jobs while the body they support keeps working against them.)

    12. Sleepless*

      The best known veterinarian on TV practices such poor quality, outdated medicine that his license was suspended for a year after his show started airing. My blood runs cold every time somebody tells me how much they love his show.

    13. Namenlos*

      I like
      MamaDoctorJones (Instagram and Youtube), OBGYN from Texas, good information, strong focus on science, gender inclusive

      ViolinMD (Youtube) rheumathology resident from Canada, more vlogging than focussing on a certain topic most of the time, interesting if you would like to understand how residency works and what being a doctor would be like

      Medlife Crisis (Youtube), cardiologist from the UK, strong focus on science, love his if it ducks like a quack videos

      1. RagingADHD*

        I really like MDJ, she’s funny and kind.

        Just recently found Medlife crisis. Very good stuff.

    14. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Like someone else said, I would if it was a specialist, especially if it was a subspecialty. I needed to see a neuroopthalmologist a couple of decades ago, and my eye doctor called one of his med school classmates and got me in quickly. He also said that there were a grand total of three people practicing in that specialty in New York City. With that few choices, I might look into why/how the person was famous, but not make that the deciding factor.

      I follow one surgical oncologist blogger, but the question doesn’t come up, because I’m hundreds of miles away. Just as well, since I’m not sure how I’d feel about “hey, I read your blog, and even comment occasionally, but you don’t actually know who I am, or anything else about you.”

    15. VI Guy*

      If I went to an ER in the right city and had Brian Goldman as my doc, I think I would be triaged right to the front of the line because my heart would start skipping beats and I would have trouble talking! I listen to him on the radio, so I would only know him by his voice. He’s so smart and compassionate, and his shows about the science of Covid-19 about a year ago were a ray of rationality at a difficult time. He has spoken about so many difficult topics over the years, with people who are often going through a very difficult time, and they generally seem to appreciate their time with him. I hope that I would feel the same if I ever had to meet him.

    16. RagingADHD*

      I watch a few medical channels on YT, but don’t follow on SM otherwise.

      I wouldn’t seek out a famous dr. Not sure how I’d feel about it if my dr got internet famous. Kinda wierd, probably, because I know enough about what it takes to make a YouTube channel successful to wonder if they were really giving enough time & attention to doctoring.

  9. Sled dog mama*

    During the past year I began covering my head for religious reasons. I typically wear a scarf or a snood, I cover head/hair but not neck. In late April I will be flying for the first time since I began covering. (Long delayed training that can’t be realistically delivered remotely and is beginning to have a business impact)
    I know that I have the right to keep my head covering on through security (US based so will be dealing with TSA), and how to deal with screening.
    What have advice do you have for someone traveling as a covering woman for the first time? Is there an advantage to wearing something that reads as clearly religious while traveling? What else should I know?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t wear head covering for religious reasons consistently, but I do cover on and off and always when I travel, and I’ve never been bothered about it, either by the TSA or other travelers. I usually wear a plain buff (tubular scarf) rather than a fancier tied wrap for travel days – is that an option for you? I got a few stranger looks when I went fancier, but still nobody stopped me – I mostly stick with the buff to avoid needing to make wrap adjustments in the restrooms or in my airplane seat.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Disclaimer to the above – I’m a white woman and cannot speak to the experience of traveling while covered *as a WOC*. I recognize this puts me on relatively easy mode.

    2. D'Euly*

      I flew a couple times in full Western Christian nun habit (I’m white). Extensive and super apologetic patdown from a female TSA agent, including visual checking of the soles of my feet (I was wearing sandals).
      Everything else was just the normal experience of wearing a habit in public. I’m rereading your question and you don’t seem to be asking about TSA in particular–is there anything in particular you’re concerned about?

      1. Oats*

        If the person is covering as a non-Christian person, that’s a very different experience than traveling in a nun’s habit. The one commands a traditional kind of respect, even if people aren’t used to it, the other unease. Especially if the person doing it is a POC. (A priest with a collar reading a Bible doesn’t get a second look, an iman of color reading the Koran does. That dynamic.) I may be reading into their question but that is the scenario I think they’re trying to think through.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, although I suspect that many Caucasian converts to Islam who cover up also get the side-eye or worse, especially in an environment where Muslims are a small minority. I read a really interesting, but also profoundly upsetting, report by a group of journalists who wore Muslim dress for a few days. The reactions ranged from people completely ignoring them as if they were invisible, to people swearing at them, spitting on them, and in one case, an assault where someone removed the head covering by force and spat and stepped on it. That incident was reported to the police, but I don’t know if they ever caught the perp.

          I’m ashamed to admit that I feel vaguely uncomfortable whenever I see Caucasian women wearing Muslim dress, because I can’t understand why anyone would choose a profoundly patriarchal system that sets strict standards on female dress and behavior over the freedoms generations of women have fought for and continue to fight for. I don’t get the same reaction when I see a woman in Muslim dress who looks either African or Middle-Eastern, because it’s less a conscious choice than it is for a Western convert. At the same time, after reading that report, I must say that it gave me a new respect for people who are willing to follow their own convictions even when it results in such awful treatment. And just to make it clear, I don’t think that the sort of treatment Muslims face in many parts of the Western world on a daily basis is acceptable in any way. I’m also aware that there are plenty of Christian sects where women’s lives are at least equally restricted, although it’s less obvious who belongs to them because most of them dress more or less like I do. I dress fairly modestly because I have body image issues and I rarely wear makeup.

          1. TechWorker*

            Just a note that there are many non-Caucasians who consider head coverings a conscious choice (and on the flip side I’m sure there are white Muslims who didn’t themselves convert).

            1. allathian*

              In the US, UK, and countries likeFrance, absolutely. I’m in Finland, and the first group of Muslims arrived here were Tatars from Crimea. There’s been a Muslim cemetery here for almost 150 years. But they don’t really stick out from the general population because they’re light-skinned and they don’t cover up, or at least the vast majority of them don’t.

              Most Muslims here are from Somalia or Syria, and while the Somalis arrived in the early 1990s, the Syrians are much more recent.

          2. pancakes*

            Yes. And this stuff is all over the map, with regard to allathian’s last few sentences. There was a Dubai-based shop called The Modist targeted at women who dress modestly for religious reasons that I thought was very fashion-forward, and I bought a couple pieces myself though I’m just as happy in miniskirts. I’ve seen US-based sites for modest Christian, Mormon, Mennonite, etc., clothes and swimwear, conversely, that look more like costumes to me, and would really stick out in my city. Menswear tends to be less conspicuous. Years ago an Amish man came into a film and video post-production company in downtown NYC I was working at—he’d traveled from Pennsylvania with a special project the community needed help with—and everyone thought he was a hipster at first! It took several minutes of conversation to put his beard, hat, and clothes into context.

            1. allathian*

              That’s really interesting. Conversely, I’ve seen young girls with a Somali background, although they themselves were no doubt born here, who in the summer dress in miniskirts or hot pants, a top that leaves the midriff bare, and a headscarf. That made me give them a double-take for sure.

          3. Pippa K*

            When it comes to “a profoundly patriarchal system that sets strict standards on female dress and behavior”, some branches of Christianity are quite similar to what you’re describing as common to Muslims, and you note this, but that’s probably worth considering further. I attended evangelical churches as a child and the similarity of patriarchal conservatism across religions is, to me, very striking.

            When I teach on issues of gender and Islam, my students generally start from the position that “those women are all oppressed and we are all free,” and hoo boy does that require some unpacking and reconsideration. In particular, not everyone who wears hijab does so for the same reasons and beliefs. I know both feminist and traditionalist Muslim women who wear hijab.

            1. Anonnington*

              I agree. It’s easy to judge other religions and cultures from afar, but why do that? Just going in that direction involves a lot of prejudice.

              If you’re curious about why women convert to Islam, read about it! Talk to women who’ve converted! I’m sure you’ll get a different and more complex perspective than, “OMG, they’re oppressed!”

              Also, I’ve noticed that a lot of Western value judgments about Islam focus on what people wear. Why are we making value judgments about clothing? Cloth has no inherent meaning. The meaning of a mode of dress is defined by culture, as well as by the person wearing it. Any kind of clothing could be freeing or oppressive depending on the context.

    3. Disco Janet*

      This is probably going to depend on what kind of religious people infer based on your head covering. I have occasionally traveled/flown with a friend who wears a hijab. The area she’s flying in or out of does seem to make a difference. Our home airport is within 15 minutes of a city that has the largest Muslim population per capita in all of the US, so she’s less likely to have any problems on the departing end of the trip, I assume just because it’s more common here and people are more likely to know someone who wears a head covering for religious reasons.

      Elsewhere (and sometimes even here), I’ve certainly seen it make a difference – in an infuriating sort of way. I’ve never been flagged by security in all of my travels, and I’ve seen her “randomly” (doubt it) chosen for a more thorough security screening several times. Going from what she has told me, it’s less likely to happen if her outfit seems very westernized, and it also helps if she doesn’t have a carry on for them to go through – she usually checks her luggage and sticks with just carrying her purse of necessities only.

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      My mother wears hijab and has never encountered any issues because of that. It could also be that due to mobility issues she sits in a wheelchair while an attendant takes her. But prior to that, she never had any issues travelling

    5. Mstr*

      I don’t wear a covering but I’ve found that if I wear my hair in a bun these days they inspect my bun with gloved hands. A ponytail is fine but not a bun. Maybe wear your hair down underneath so it doesn’t look too dense?

    6. Sled dog mama*

      Thanks to those who replied. I tried to add a few details earlier and apparently my post was eaten by my terrible internet connection.
      I am Caucasian but have been mistaken (by white people for mixed race and a very pale middle easterner).
      Because I began covering during the pandemic I don’t really have any experience with reactions from those out my family and work place, this will be my first real experience with strangers so I guess the question is something between what’s it like to cover around strangers and what a it like to cover when out of your comfort zone/community. It just happens that I know the first place I will be around strangers and out of my community is an airport.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        I’ve worn scarves and wigs through airport security without too much trouble. For a scarf with noticeable volume underneath in my experience TSA will just pat it down. Good luck!

  10. Working Mama*

    Stay at home dad question.

    My husband is planning to take over childcare for about six months after leaving the military this summer. This will help keep our son out of daycare until the world has a bit more immunity and give him a buffer of time to decompress and the job hunt. Our son will be 2 this summer. No other siblings.

    We’ve created an expectations document and I’m mentally prepared for having to make a quick switch to daycare/hire a cleaner/high school helper if it’s not working out.

    But… what ARE the signs that it’s not working out? I work from home so we’ll be right on top of each other to some extent. He’s a wonderful husband and a loving dad but kids are a lot. He thinks he will do fine and he’s been researching a decent amount but I can’t help but feel like he’s going to hate it and I’m going to hate it and it’s setting everyone up for fights and failure. I would much rather spend gobs of money for childcare so that he can actually decompress but it’s a pride thing now and he really wants to try. How do I stay patient and also prepare for the somewhat inevitable burnout?

    1. sequined histories*

      This is a chance for your husband to spend meaningful time with his child. It’s also a chance for him to understand how demanding taking care a child truly is if he doesn’t understand that already. If he’s a genuinely decent husband, father, and all-round human, he doesn’t need to be protected or prevented from having a bad experience with this. He is an adult. He is a parent. This plan sounds reasonable. If it ends up not working well for him, for your child, or for you, you can reassess and change things up.

      You sound like you think you are more responsible for how well this works out than your husband is, but you guys are both equally responsible for being decent parents and managing your affairs as a family. It’s not on you to prevent your husband from having an imperfect experience while caring for his child and doing other tasks around the house.

      1. rkz*

        +1

        It also sounds like this is a short-term thing, so even if he hates it it will not be forever.

      2. Working Mama*

        I think this is fair. I have a pretty high stress job (that pays well thankfully) so I think my fear is that we’ll get to our new home, there will be a lot of predictable problems, and then there will be a giant grenade of new childcare we need to suddenly deal with. Plus the mental health after effects of him feeling like he’s failed. I don’t want him to fail because being a good dad is the most important thing in the world for him. But in my mind it’s not “crush stay at home parenting” or “you’re awful like your father”. It’s ok to get help! You still love our son!

        Thank you for your kindness and the additional perspective. I will keep my own backup planning more private for now to alleviate my own anxiety and focus on giving him more support.

        1. TL -*

          If he’s taking on the childcare, and it doesn’t work out, it’s on him to fix and you to support.

          You’ll be working a full-time job, and a demanding one, so it’s not fair to either of you if the plan is “well, Working Mama will just step in if it gets too bad.”

          I’d suggest talking to him, making it clear beforehand what kind of support you can give in various situations, leaving the backup planning to him (with your input and support) and then letting him have the experience he has. Be open about all the times you have failed or struggled as a parent, so he doesn’t feel alone when he has issues.

    2. Sled dog mama*

      My husband has been a stay at home dad for 7 years. The biggest thing I have done is making sure that when I am home childcare is fully on me. My husband has developed a fairly strict weekly routine (he homeschooled this year as well so this was a great foundation).
      I also make sure he gets a “vacation” from childcare every quarter, during the pandemic this has meant I take a couple of days off and he goes to his parents house for a couple of days, in the before times I would send him camping or off to visit a friend.
      Work from home did not work for us, mainly because our home is set up poorly for it I do not have an office with a door so getting separation from child activities was nearly impossible.
      Hubby says the biggest thing for him to avoid burnout was finding a way to have adult interaction other than me.

      1. Jen*

        Toddlers thrive on schedules. It’s the only way I survived daycare being closed and working.

      2. theguvnah*

        “The biggest thing I have done is making sure that when I am home childcare is fully on me. ”

        That sounds like you are then working 24/7 and he is not? Am I misunderstanding?

        1. Owler*

          Not the poster, but I was the stay-at-home mom. In a household with kids, my experience is that the evenings are filled with tasks for winding down the day and getting ready for tomorrow: things like making dinner, laundry, tidying, and of course, getting kid fed, bathed, and to bed. The more the working parent can do to take on the evening childcare, the hope is other parent can do the dinner or other tasks.

    3. OtterB*

      If you’re WFH while your husband is taking over childcare, this may be a major adjustment to your son who is used to turning to you. Think ahead about how you will handle it if your son rejects dad / demands you.

      My husband did some of our childcare during a stretch of unemployment. I can’t remember the details any longer – it was more than 20 years ago – but he still remembers being grateful for the time with our daughter, going running with her in the jogging stroller, etc.

      1. Working Mama*

        This is heartwarming. I think this is what he’s hoping for (and I hope it happens!). The anxiety of it being overwhelming for him still scares me but I think the comments here are mostly helpful in that he can handle more than I think OR we can have a conversation about what to change.

    4. migrating coconuts*

      No personal experience, except of course being a stay at home mom myself, but my daughter and her husband do this. He has been a stay at home dad since the first one was born 8 years ago. What works for them, is what works when a woman is SAH. Let him set his own schedule, and his own way of doing things with your child. Your way of bathing/feeding/playing etc. may not be his way, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Flexibility is the key, as it always is when raising children. (the expectations document and research may have some benefit, but sounds way too rigid, kids rarely adhere to that kind of thing) Also, my daughter makes sure her husband has down time. Whether it’s as soon as she gets home, or maybe she bathes and puts the kids to bed so he can go elsewhere and decompress. She always will take the kids out on a weekend day for at least a few hours, so he can be home alone, or he goes out for a few hours to have some ‘me’ time. It sounds like you are already thinking he’s going to hate it and it’s not going to work. Try to reframe those thoughts to be positive, or at least neutral, and when the time comes, back all the way off and let him figure it out. It’s going to be a big adjustment and it will take some time for him to figure it out. While working, maybe stay in another room and wear noise cancelling headphones if necessary. Chat about things if he wants to, but try to refrain from critiquing or talking about how you would do something, that way lies madness (and fights). Remember, kids are extremely flexible and resilient, you will all be fine. Wishing you good luck!

    5. Anon for this*

      I just want to gently point out that no man has ever had these concerns and questions in the history of the world. (A slight exaggeration to make a point.) Give him the room to figure it out, it’s his new job! Act like a man and enjoy your new setup!

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        And by ‘give him room’ I would suggest you don’t just give unsolicited advice. Either wait until he asks or ask him, ‘do you want to know how I handle X?’

        And remember, if the kid is alive and unbruised at EOD, he’s doing pretty well.

        1. RagingADHD*

          As long as they are minor, leading-edge bruises, they’re good to have.

          Our pediatrician always said he was happy to see our kids’ bumps and scrapes because it meant they were actually playing enough & going outside. He considered a child of walking age without any bruises as a sign of an unhealthy lifestyle.

      2. DistantAudacity*

        I agree with this – make sure to give him room! As much as possible, act like you are working away from the house! The first 3-4 weeks are going to be an interesting time…

        In my country (Norway) there is generous parental leave, and 10 weeks is reserved for the father (or second parent). 90% of the dads take it. If you are interested, you can look up some of the findings and short/long-term benefits of these policies in the Nordics :)

      3. Working Mama*

        This was honestly the most helpful comment. He and I have had many discussions around emotional labor and he’s come a long way (see: Marine raised in the south in a traditional family). I think that this is the right framework. Either he succeeds (with a lot of grace for initial struggles) or, as a team, we solve whatever future problems arise.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Just want to say, it sounds like you are both very much in the mindset of pass/fail, and even going to a success/needing help mindset might not be as helpful as it is still black and white thinking that isn’t a reality in the world of parenting. Is it really not a success if you hire a babysitter two afternoons a week? (That is directed at your husband maybe as much as you). I also say that it sounds like you are concerned about your husband’s mental health and him beating himself up if he doesn’t “succeed” about the same as him actually taking care of the kids – that might be something worth digging into more.

    6. WellRed*

      I think a big sign will be if he or the kid keep coming to you to fix things while you are working.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      As gently as possible, it feels like you have decided he will fail. If a man decides a woman will fail, we have a term for this. Take some deep breaths. Put him in a spot where he stands the best chance of success. This could be a spot in your mind’s eye or it could be actual changes around the house to set things up a bit.

      Relatives were both at home during Covid. Because of their area and other factors unique to their setting, they felt okay with using child care. It ended up being the fairest decision to each parent involved with the child.

    8. Double A*

      Reverse this. If this was how your husband handled you taking on a major responsibility, how would you feel? Totally infantalized and insulted.

      Women are not inherently better at taking care of kids. We just get more practice, often. He’s been doing reading?? Like, he is so ahead of the curve. Let him figure it out, and just have check-ins as a couple about how both of your loves are going and if you need to adjust. I would not do one more second of preparation for this than you already have.

      1. Disco Janet*

        100% agree. Honestly, I felt badly for the husband reading this. Yes, he will make mistakes. So do moms. Best thing to do is back off and let him figure out what works for him and the kiddo.

        1. Working Mama*

          This felt a little unkind. The reason I have concerns is that he is easily overwhelmed by the current (minimal) amount of childcare. My parents are living with us now but when they’re gone for the occasional weekend, we are both exhausted. I realized on maternity leave that I much preferred a 9-5 job where I could take breaks and set my own schedule. He’s a wonderful husband but if I told him I could stay home with kiddo, he would rightfully have concerns since at no point have either of us managed to handle him alone without significant exhaustion. I don’t want to be home while he plays video games and our son roams around being “watched”. We’ve had hard discussions about it but he thinks it will be different. I view past behavior as the best predictor of future behavior. I’m ok with him playing video games! I just want to then pay for someone else who can be dedicated to our son.

          1. Disco Janet*

            If you had included the information that he’s currently overwhelmed by doing just a minimal amount of childcare, my response would have been different – that’s pretty important information! I had assumed, based on the info in your post, that this was more of a fear of him not doing things your way and meeting your expectations, and thus it would fail.

            When you guys discussed expectations, was your gaming concern part of that conversation?

            1. Working Mama*

              Kiddo knows he can come to both parents (plus the grandparents right now) fairly equally. No one is the “primary” since honestly no one has the energy. It’s good because he’s already experiencing different styles of (safe, loving) caregiving. I genuinely fear he just won’t have the energy and patience for the full non-stop SAHP experience. Someone mentioned hiring and cleaner and a Mother’s helper which I think will help ease the load.

          2. WellRed*

            This is a whole different ball of wax. Maybe get him a mother’s helper a few hours a week?

            1. Working Mama*

              I mentioned this to him and he seemed open to it assuming we could find someone vaccinated. We’ll be living in a college town so hopefully we can find some students!

          3. Analyst Editor*

            Ok so several things.
            0) Read this: https://www.drpsychmom.com/2017/12/27/stay-home-dad-husband-doesnt-keep-house-clean/ and this: https://www.drpsychmom.com/2014/11/26/daily-checklist-good-enough-parents/.
            I really like this blogger and really identify with her philosophy on relationships and child-rearing especially.
            1) When you get 8 hours to do what you want, organize the clothes how you want, learn where everything is, and do it YOUR WAY, and a few weeks to get into a good rhythm, that’s way easier than random stretches of four hours when you don’t know what your kid wears, eats, his triggers, his meltdown time and tells that he’s hungry/tired, what he can do (e.g. how high can he safely climb). it’s a learning curve. Suck it up and let him learn.
            2) Your kids need food, clothes, shelter, love, and a balance of attention and freedom. Everything else is negotiable. He gets to decide what to feed them, where they go, how they play, how much he monitors them at the playground, and discipline. If you take issue, voice it later, not in front of them. If you have priors that he should do crafts, or have a strict nap time, or zero junk food, suck it up, and bring up any concerns individually as they come up and let him tell you his considerations. Address problems only when they occur, not preemptively because your mind invented them.
            3) SCREEN TIME WILL HAPPEN for the kids, or there will be no cleanliness, no dinner, and other things if you have multiple kids. Some days it will be more (e.g. a day after sleep deprivation or sickness or lots of whining and rain). Set limits but accept it.
            4) I get that video games can be a problem, because for me my phone is a problem. I bet some kind of screen is a problem for you too. But you should let it BECOME a problem and address it, rather than preemptively assume it will be. ALSO: your kids don’t need constant attention 100% of the time. It is good to encourage them to play by themselves, and if you are unable to do this but your husband can, it can look like laziness from your perspective. (I’m not saying this is you, but it could be.)

            Finally: your husband can probably handle a set of bad scenarios (e.g. an injury, a tantrum, a bad mess) comparably to you; and that should be enough for your peace of mind. Good luck!

            1. Working Mama*

              Thank you for the excellent blog links! This thread has been helpful for shifting my framework of success and remembering how we can approach this as a team. We’re already taking most of the shortcuts you shared because work is stressful and also *gestures vaguely at the world*. We had actually just gotten a cleaner when the pandemic hit. I’m all for finding ways to lighten the load along the way.

          4. RagingADHD*

            Your son is not quite 2?

            Don’t underestimate the importance of *outside*!

            It will be nice weather soon, if it isn’t already. The more he can run and scream, and get those yayas out, the less exhausted y’all will be taking care of him.

    9. Generic Name*

      As far as knowing whether or not it’s working, how do you know if something in another area of your life is working out or not? I’m not trying to be sarcastic or flippant. Maybe you and your husband can agree ahead of time about what “it’s not working out” looks like for your family and that you will have periodic check ins to discuss. That way you’re not worrying about your husband’s emotions and you’re focusing on your own. Does the arrangement make YOU happy? Is YOUR stress manageable? Does your child seem happy and relaxed?And you trust that your husband will use his words to tell you during your check ins if he feels unhappy or too stressed out. I might be reading too much into your post, but I’m getting the sense that you are worrying about how you will know if your husband is happy with the arrangement, and the only way to truly know is if he tells you. I am assuming that he is a competent adult who can recognize his own feelings and put them into words as necessary. It’s good you have a plan for if things don’t work out. I think it will make check ins feel less fraught. Good luck!

    10. university minion*

      This is the perfect scenario to ask yourself, “What would a man do?”, and do that.

    11. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I had a stay at home dad for a period of my childhood, and it was great. Sure, there were a couple of laundry mishaps and interestingly packed school lunches for the first few weeks, but once he got into the swing of it he did a fantastic job.

      And that’s what I want you to focus on. It sounds like you’re already expecting this to fail, and I worry that if everything isn’t going absolutely perfectly in those first few weeks, you’re going to see that as your prediction being correct. But full day childcare is like any other long term responsibility. Nobody’s going to be amazing at it on their first day. Goodness knows my first day as a solo babysitter wasn’t perfect. There are going to be hiccups. There are going to be bumps in the road. That’s true of the first few weeks at any new job. But there are also going to be a lot of laughs and fun moments and amazing memories for your husband and kiddo to share with each other. Let him have that chance. If he expresses concerns to you, don’t immediately think you have to change your entire arrangement. Talk it through like you would talk through any kind of household issue and brainstorm ideas to address those challenges. Instead of thinking about all the ways this could go wrong, think of all the ways this has the potential to make your family stronger and closer.

    12. Lizy*

      Step back, momma. Give him space – and grace – to do things his way.

      My husband is a disabled army vet and has stayed home for almost 2 years. When he started, we had a 18-month old at home, and 2 olders in public school. Now we have a 15-YO that homeschools, an 8YO in public, a 3YO and a 10-month old. There were a couple of months where he felt like he couldn’t get anything done because he had a newborn and a 2 1/2 year old, so my MIL came by a couple of times a week. Other than that, he does it all. He doesn’t do everything my way – that’s ok!!!! Let him be, and what’s more – don’t stress about it!!! Me stressing and hovering really did more damage than help. Keep communication open, but let him come to you if he needs help.

      1. Working Mama*

        4! Kudos to your husband for finding a way. I know we are zonked just chasing 1. Thank you for the helpful framing and perspective.

    13. lemon meringue*

      It sounds like easing up on your own childcare role may be as much of a challenge for you as it is for him. It sounds like having this chance to be a more involved father means a lot to him, so I think it would help both of you if you set him up for success by trying not to assume he will fail, and by being thoughtful about easing up and giving him free rein to try things his own way. This will probably be hard if you’re used to being the parenting authority, but the more you try to interfere, the more inevitable fighting will become.

    14. Batgirl*

      I think it depends on where this idea comes from that he will hate it. If you think he’ll hate it because “kids are a lot” or in other words, anyone would hate it, that’s not really true there are people who love being SAH and thrive on it. Not everyone, and it’s always challenging, but there are people who wouldn’t do anything else! If he is one of the many who doesn’t love it full time? He has the benefit of knowing for sure that he tried it, and what balance he prefers. At the end of the day, it’s only six months! Not many people get the chance to try out a role they are wondering about for six months with an easy exit ramp set up. I would give him the proper room to decide how he actually feels; allow him to go back and forth when he’s feeling the challenges (letting ‘the signs’ be his definite words and final decisions, as opposed to him just talking through something that’s tough) and not try to predict his feelings. Maybe in practice he will feel it’s not conducive to the goal of decompressing; if he feels that way, he can say so. There’s a risk he could feel quite patronised if he feels he is being second guessed and his decision predicted.

    15. The Ninth Doctor (who)*

      I think marriage counseling would be a good idea. If my wife wrote something like this about me I would be extremely hurt, insulted and confused. If you have already decided he is going to fail he has already lost and nothing he does will be good enough.

      1. Working Mama*

        This feels unkind and not particularly helpful. Of course I want him to succeed. But based on the information I have today, I’m not sure that it will work for us and I was hoping to hear from others who had attempted or succeeded at having a stay at home dad. This is an open forum to request the experience of others, it would’ve caused you no harm to keep scrolling.

        1. Lizy*

          Your other comments provide a little more insight. Please know my comments are (trying) from a helpful and encouraging point of view.

          You guys can totally do this. Yes, kids are exhausting. It doesn’t matter if it’s one kid or 4 or 12 and it doesn’t matter how old they are – kids are exhausting. However, it sounds like both you and your husband have this idea that you have to entertain your son all day long. You don’t! It’s ok to let him play on his own or for y’all to do something else (like play video games or binge Dr Pimple Popper) while he’s napping. (Not that I’m doing that right now… lol) believe me – I completely understand the desire to have the caregiver be present for your son 100%, but the reality is, that’s not possible, and it doesn’t matter if the caregiver is your husband or you or grandparents or daycare or a nanny. That’s ok, though!! My husband often plays video games while the youngers nap, or he’s out in the shop doing something and the kids are playing. The kids are still being watched – he (or I) are just also doing something else.

          You said you’re not convinced this will work for you, and that you were hoping to hear from others who have successfully had a stay-at-home dad. Based on the information you’ve provided, there should be no reason why you guys couldn’t be successful. My husband has stayed home for almost 2 years, and will continue for the foreseeable future. Does he do it all? Heck no. Are there days where I come home and have to take over and he zones out? Absolutely. There are some days that he just sits there and hangs out. But that doesn’t mean he’s not successfully raising our kids or that him being home isn’t successful.

          You guys can do this. You have to want to do this, and you have to be willing to give yourselves grace when the day (or week) doesn’t go as you’d like.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I removed some arguing here about this. I don’t believe the comment in question violated the site rules, although I can certainly understand why it stung. When you ask for advice here, not all of it might be to your liking, and not all of it may be as sensitively presented as you’d ideally want. But unwelcome is not the same as unkind, and I don’t want people chastised for offering opinions that the advice seeker disagrees with or thinks is off-base.

          It loooks like there was some really good discussion that the OP did find value in.

    16. Clisby*

      My husband took a year off work to stay at home with our 3-year-old daughter (she’s now 24), and it was a great experience for both of them. He was working really punishing hours, and didn’t want her growing up never seeing him. We were lucky that my work could pay the bills, so he stayed home, did a a little contract work for his former employer, and took on a series of home improvements we needed (insulating and flooring the attic, renovating a bathroom, doing various small plumbing repairs, building shelves in the pantry, etc.) Our daughter still remembers how much fun they had – he took her along with him on every trip to the hardware store or Home Depot, she was his “assistant” on several projects, he became the parent volunteer at her preschool … One of the few regrets I’ve had in raising our children was that it didn’t work out for our son to have a year like that.

      1. Working Mama*

        This is incredibly sweet. I can totally picture them having some wonderful daddy-son time running around the parks where we’ll be living!

    17. WS*

      I’m in my 40s and grew up with a stay at home dad, part of the time. Things were definitely not the same when my mum was the one staying at home, but we all enjoyed it. I think the best thing you can do is leave him to work out his own routines and ways of doing things – this won’t happen immediately, but it will happen!

      1. Working Mama*

        Thank you for sharing this! It’s been helpful to remember how much our son is loved and how a different style of caregiving might have unexpected benefits.

    18. Analyst Editor*

      You say down-thread he was a marine. He can probably handle your kids. But he won’t do it your way. His way will probably be more masculine than yours; different approach to discipline, different activities, different priorities. And that’s fine, as long as your kids are happy and their needs are met; the rest is secondary.

    19. RagingADHD*

      My husband and I swapped being the SAHP and the work-outside parent a couple of times when our kids were little.

      Signs it’s not working out:
      – You are miserable and can’t get any work done, and he can’t or won’t make adjustments as needed to allow you to work.
      – He says it isn’t working out and he hates it.
      – Your child is neglected and unhealthy or malnourished.
      – You argue so much over parenting styles that it hurts your marriage.
      -He exhibits obvious symptoms of depression but won’t admit it.
      -Either of you start relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms that are problematic around children, or cause you to check out from work or from your child.

      Things that are NOT signs it’s not working:

      -He says he needs more downtime and wants to get an occasional/part-time helper.

      -Your child complains or has tantrums, or tries to play you against each other with “that’s not how mommy does it” or asking you both for the same thing to get different answers.

      – You get stressed out because Dad does things differently than you do.

      – Dad decides that your “expectations” document is overly rigid and goes off script.

      – You and Dad disagree or argue sometimes (as long as you can work it out).

      -Your child is dirty, wears odd clothes, or misbehaves sometimes.

      -Your child doesn’t always sleep well, or gets picky about food.

      -Your child gets clingy or temporarily has a slight regression in response to change.

      – The housekeeping standards are lower than you would keep them.

      -You are both tired and cranky.

      -You have some difficulty/struggles about how much downtime each of you gets.

      All of those things are normal adjustment stuff that will work out in time, or normal parenting stuff that would happen no matter who was taking point.

      1. RagingADHD*

        BTW, when I say “check out” I don’t mean letting the child play independently. They need some of that! I mean stuff that renders you unable to supervise them or preoccupies you to the point of ignoring their needs.

        Both our kids and our marriage are much better off in the long run for the time they had with Daddy at home. They got to try things I probably wouldn’t have been up for, but were perfectly safe and fine.

        And we appreciate each other’s efforts and daily grind much more, because we’ve experienced both sides.

    20. Kt*

      My husband dropped to a four day week for a while when our kiddo was quite small. He was able to bring her to the Free Forest School (basically playgroup in the woods) and enjoyed that except for the fact that most of the moms wouldn’t talk to him :( Groups are really great for giving a parent some connection and breathing space, but do require a different kind of navigation and a thick skin for a guy. (I sympathize since I’m a woman in tech.)

      But the other thing is, just trust him and clear it of the way. Give him space! If he wants to take the baby to the auto parts store for two hours and then swing by the junkyard and then stop at the brewery to sit outside and meet a friend while alternating very low ABV beer and water, that’s fine. My kid has had many such adventures now. Not what I’d do with the kid, but worked out fine — he knew how to work around her naps and where had good diaper changing spaces in the men’s room (the brewery!!). She’s slept in the garage in the bassinet while the car gets the oil changed. I am thankful we’re parents with different approaches, and I’m thankful I worked really hard on letting go of my expectations for his care for the kid. As long as she’s safe, fed, napping, and loved!

  11. Renovations?*

    Have you ever bought a fixer upper? What do you wish you knew before buying / renovating?

    Spouse and I are thinking of buying a fixer upper. The house we are looking at needs about $90,000 of work. It has the potential to be pretty special (older home, architecturally interesting). Mold remediation, new floors, kitchen, bathrooms, etc. need to be done.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      We’ve been living in and working on our fixer upper for over 20 years! As long as you expect everything to take longer and cost more than you initially thought, it’s very satisfying to look around your home and think, “we made that!” It seems to be a cycle with ours. We did one room at a time and then started over, since by the time we finished the last project, the earlier rooms (kitchen and bathroom) needed work again. We could be finished, but I’m kind of tired of the living room carpet, so hardwood floors might be next. The biggest challenges for us were with plumbing and electrical “surprises” that we hadn’t planned for. Now that we’re down to just cosmetic changes it’s much easier!

    2. TechWorker*

      It will be dusty and it will be stressful… some people cope with that better than others but it hit my partner hard (mixture of being a bit of a perfectionist with just ‘knowing more than me’ so taking on lots of the mental load of making sure the builders were doing the right thing).

      If you can afford to not live in it for the worst bits, or to plan in some ‘time off’ the project definitely do. (We renovated the whole thing, did an extension and lived in throughout, with just one night in a hotel as a xmas gift to ourselves..).

      Also whatever you think things will cost, it will cost more. Make sure you have some headroom and/or be prepared to wait to save more to finish bits off.

    3. Lora*

      Yup. Bought my fixer-upper when I was 30. It needed asbestos removal, lead remediation, the bathrooms were a mess, and the front sill and a couple of structural timbers needed replaced, along with the floor they were holding up in one part of the house (mainly living room and foyer). Replacing the structural timbers meant the wall, which to comply with historical restrictions meant the windows had to be carefully removed, set aside and replaced exactly as is on the house, and I had to replace the original clapboard siding with custom milled rough cut cedar.

      Everything takes three times longer than it should. Everything costs twice as much as the original estimate. Contractors will happily do half the work and then disappear, regardless of payment schedule. They will show up three weeks late if at all, after you put a deposit down. After about 10 years of this nonsense I just started using my vacation days, books from my grandparents’ attic and a lot of Norm Abrams and This Old House reruns to figure out how to DIY. It was easier and less stress and less expensive than trying to get a contractor who inevitably screwed me over.

      I have a couple of trusted plumbers and electricians, but my carpentry guy moved away and I’m not willing to go through all that misery again hiring it done, so unless it’s some major structural issue I’m just going to keep DIYing. The only thing left now is a major plumbing change and a bathroom renovation – I will do the demolition, tile, finish work and plastering myself but hire the plumbing and wiring done.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      My house is 180 y/o. It needed lots of work. Of everything you mentioned, the mold remediation jumped at me. My house is on a very wet area. The mold could make a person cry. If you can’t afford to jump right on beating that mold back, don’t buy the house. This is nothing you want to be around for any period of time and have it left unchecked. It goes into health issues which drain the wallet and the energy- then it’s so hard to get to a better spot.

      For me, I had to put in drainage all over the place. I had to remove trees so air and light could get on the property and around the house itself. I installed a sump pump under the house to move water out from under the house. One floor had to be redone others had to be braced. The foundation had to be repaired.

      I haven’t even talked about killing the mold itself, yet.

      It’s a lot. My caution is if you know there is a mold problem, even if it’s a little mold in one corner don’t let it go on and on. Find out why water/moisture is collecting and redirect it. Get the mold sprayed. Replace the bad wood. If you don’t want to take this on and I don’t blame you if you don’t wanna, then take a pass on the house.

    5. Guin*

      Take that $90,000 figure and double it. Can you afford that? Rent The Money Pit with Shelley Long and Tom Hanks.

      1. Generic Name*

        OMG seriously. Assume there will be problems that you don’t know about but have to be addressed. Make a budget assuming that things will cost more than originally thought. Doubling it is a very conservative estimate. I think an aggressive estimate is it will cost 50% more than originally thought. Also keep in mind this cost to permit the work, and if the inspector finds something not to code with the original house, you will likely have to address it. I laugh at the episodes of certain hgtv shows where the designer is “shocked” to find structural/electrical/plumbing/code compliance issues in a 100 year old house.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      A friendly reminder: the 3 top considerations in real estate are location, location, location. So, please evaluate the area first. Will the neighborhood be worth your investment? Good schools? Are there sidewalks, storm drains, paved roads? Access to shopping and mass transit? Is the area growing/developing?
      The “twice as long, twice as much” sentiment is on target for big projects. Get a comprehensive house evaluation for repairs, especially for the mold before you make an offer. Mold is a big deal! If you put in an offer, negotiate hard.
      Best Wishes!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Adding: When a contractor gives you an estimate then add 20% for unforeseens. It’s impossible to predict every darn thing the contractor will encounter.

        When the field caught fire, my father’s contractor threw roofing shingles on the fire to put it out. That worked, but we needed more shingles.

        My friend went to help me with my front porch only to discover there were only 2 posts- one at each end. Nothing was holding up the middle of the porch floor. Add on some bucks.

        My father had to put in a new well to be in compliance. They drilled the new well next to the old well. My father hand dug the old well and it was 12 ft deep. The new well went down 300 feet before they hit water. It was right beside the old well…..

        Surprises happen.

    7. Mid*

      Depending on where you live, there can be government and local grants for fixing up houses, especially older ones. If the house is considered historical, that can add a lot of value but also a lot of conditions to a remodel.

      Do the mold remediation before you live in the space. Make sure it’s tested for lead and asbestos before you purchase. And not just surface checked. I forget the name of the process, but there are different kinds of checks for those things and you want to know before you tear down walls or anything else. And check the wiring and plumbing to see if they’ll need to be completely redone to get up to code. Actually, check all of code. Depending on how much renovations you’re doing, you might be required to update the *entire* thing. Or, you might not be allowed to change some things.

      My apartment building is from the 1920s, so a lot of things are grandfathered in, but if they needed to replace a window, they’d have to replace *all* the windows in the entire building, because they aren’t up to code. It’s not uncommon for things like that to exist. They can’t make any major changes to the building without being required to update every single thing that’s grandfathered in.

      And, like everyone else said, it’ll take at least twice as long, and cost twice as much as you’re planning it to cost.

      Bringing in a professional designer/planner can really be worth the cost, because they can have connections with local contractors or suppliers. And it helps simplify the million decisions you need to make, from light switches to trim to floors to light fixtures to tile to floor transitions, etc.

    8. Jemashete*

      Why on earth would you want an older home that needs mold remediation of all things? You are going to have a never-ending stream of problems and upgrades. Spend that $90K on something new.

      1. Venus*

        I have bought numerous homes that needed a lot of work, and it worked out well for me. I wouldn’t be happy about a place with mold but it depends on where it was in the home as a bathroom can be stripped but unfinished basements can’t be removed. I always found very reputable inspectors who confirmed that I was buying a home with a good foundation, and I got the places for a much better price than if I were to buy a fixed up home, even when I account for a good renovation budget. It works for some of us, and provided someone knows what to expect I think it’s reasonable.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      Our very first house was a foreclosure, so by nature it was a fixer upper. It was also very affordable for a newly married, young couple. Well, the mortgage was…not the repairs!

      What I’ve learned:
      –It always costs twice as much and take three times longer than planned (this depends on whether you’ll do the work yourself or hire someone, though it still usually takes longer even when hiring it out)
      –Be prepared to fix anything you uncover as part of the original fix/renovation. So if you’re getting new floors, be prepared for whatever might be underneath the existing floor. If you’re tearing down walls, be prepared for electrical wires to be in the wrong place; wires or placement of outlets, etc. not being up to code; seeing wires that go nowhere, which are sometimes live (yes, this has happened to us more times than one would think possible).
      –Be OK with living in an ongoing construction zone.
      –Know that no matter how well you block off rooms, you’ll still be finding sheetrock dust months later. Can’t seem to escape it for some reason.
      –Beware of previous renovations/fixes that were done before you got there. It’s very possible there was no permit, or it was done wrong or they cut corners.

      I honestly would not buy another fixer upper. The house we bought in 2014 was built in 1735; however, we found that it didn’t need a lot of work. Most of the work it needs is cosmetic, like paint (the sellers didn’t do proper prep so I have whole sheets of paint bubbling and peeling off, had all the walls sprayed and didn’t properly block off the windows so there’s lots of overspray, and didn’t bother to paint the window grids facing the outside, so they’re a different color than the house), removing the cheap carpet the sellers put in (the cats love how easily it snags…hours of entertainment for them), and other stuff like that. That level of work is fine with me, but these days I no longer want to have to rip out walls and things like that.

      Given the house needs $90k worth of work, is that something you really want to get into? Is it worth it to you? Will it greatly increase the value? Is it in a location that will give you a good return on your money if you decide to sell? I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it, just that that’s A LOT of money to spend on a fixer upper, especially if it’s in a not-great location, so you need to think about that.

      1. Generic Name*

        I’m laughing at the image of the cats playing with carpet snags. We are painting the interior right now, and we have drop cloths everywhere. The pets (2 cats and a dog) absolutely love it. They play with toys on it, the cats use it as the ultimate kick toy all 3 of them like to burrow under it. It’s hilarious.

    10. Me*

      Our house will be 100 years old next year. We are it’s 3rd owner. Before we bought it, it was last remodeled in the 60s. We brought our architect over to see the house three times before we made an offer. (It was a fixer upper and it wasn’t exactly flying off the market).

      We’ve done so very much to it, all systems like plumbing and electrical, insulation, roof, windows etc. It is a labor of love.

      We are both extremely handy. We have lines that we draw on what we will do vs what we hire out.

      My best advice is to hire a good architect. Spend that money up front so you keep the character of the house.

      We tackle one room at a time, as our budget allows. For example, we did our dining room one year, which involved pretty much everything – hardwood floor refinishing, windows (and trim), insulation, drywall, wiring… some of that we did ourselves and some we hired out. We don’t touch drywall- it’s an art form- or floor refinishing. But we will do everything else including cutting/staining/sealing the crown moldings around the windows and doors.

      We act as our own general contractor- it’s what allows us to save a ton on projects.

      The thing about home improvement projects is that they tend to balloon. An old home will always have issues. The worst day of my home remodeling for this house is the day we tore off the rotting deck and found termites. This wasn’t entirely shocking given how rotten the deck was but we ended up having to jack up the house and replace some sill boards. That added to the cost of the project. You just never know what you’ll find.

      At our old house (another fixer upper), I wanted to tear off the wallpaper in the master bedroom. That was a $15k project when all was said and done, and that was many years ago.

  12. Hotdog not dog*

    I just finished reading “The Once and Future Witches” by Alex E. Harrow and LOVED it! I’m not entirely sure how to describe it…feminist historical fantasy, maybe?…but I literally couldn’t put it down and stayed up all night reading. I think I want to be a suffragette librarian witch when I grow up! (Okay, yes, I am already middle aged, but I still haven’t finished growing up.) I picked this book at the library because it had flowers on the cover. When my son was a toddler, we would go to the library and he liked to pick out books for me based on the cover, so I never knew what I would end up with, just that he would find 3 books with yellow, or 4 books with animals, or whatever struck his fancy that day. I was feeling nostalgic for my sweet baby (who is now a mostly wonderful but sometimes moody teen) so I chose the first 3 eye level books with flowers. Does anyone else have a random selection process like this, or do you pick books some other way?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t have an even remotely interesting way of picking books, but from your description of the book you just finished – I just read a book that you might enjoy, “Upright Women Wanted” by Sarah Gailey.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Or T Kingfisher, Ursula Vernon’s pen name for ‘grown up’ books. My next book is _A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking_.
        And Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series. 1890 – 1920ish Egyptian archaeology murder mysteries written by someone with a PhD in Egyptian archaeology and a great sense of humor. The characters from the 1999 movie “The Mummy” are based on this series (Brendan Fraser / Rachel Weisz ‘s, and their kid in the second movie. Walter Emerson is *nothing* like John Hannah’s character).

        1. Big Moody Curve*

          PSA, “A Wizard’s Guide To Defensive Baking” is currently $4.99 as a Kindle book. I’m only a few pages into it, but it looks promising.

    2. J.B.*

      I loved that one too! Another set of books I liked that were zany and fun with strong women were by Gail Carrier. She has some ya books and adult fantasy with steampunk werewolves and vampires.

      If you like history I like Sarah Vowell’s books.

      1. J.B.*

        Oh and another author to check out-Naomi Novik. You might also like showed me Emily R King which looks fun so I put in at the library for it!

        So I guess my method is to use you might also like and read everything I can find by that author.

        1. Jen*

          I was thinking of the Temeraire series, which is an alternate telling of the Napoleonic wars with dragons (I did peter out in the series but quite liked the first two).

    3. pancakes*

      You might like Sylvia Townsend-Warner’s Lolly Willowes, about a 1920s woman who goes off to become a country witch rather than stick with the stultifying life of a maiden aunt she’d been living.

      Most of my reading is somehow linked to other reading I’ve done—wanting to stick with a particular author or learn about one of their contemporaries, or finish a series, etc.—but yes, I sometimes pick up things that just look interesting.

    4. Reba*

      Sounds fun!

      I go by the cover art a lot (sometimes you get the feeling that someone really believed in this books) but I also know that some books just don’t get what feels like the “right” cover for them!

      I am re-reading Natasha Pulleys “Watchmaker of Filigree Street” and “The Bedlam Stacks” in anticipation of getting the new one in the series!

    5. Paris Geller*

      This is on my to-read list!

      Since I’m a librarian, I tend to know about/hear about a lot of books before they’re published or right after, so honestly, if I want something new, I go to a used bookstore and try to find something I’ve NEVER heard of! I’m constantly getting recommendations from friends/family/coworkers/patrons, and while I love them and those recommendations often are great, sometimes I just want to discover a hidden gem.

    6. S*

      I have a complicated library-reservation-queue system, usually based on recommendations from friends or reviews online. It’s fun when it gets backed up and a book appears that I have no memory of putting on hold (and then putting the hold on hold…) But I’ve also definitely wandered around the library and and picked up books based on their covers, too!
      Once, I hit the library on the way home from being diagnosed with pneumonia (I was not contagious. I was silly.) I picked an arm-full of books from the new fiction section with “friendly-looking” covers. Then I spent the next two weeks in bed, quite happily entertained!

    7. Might Be Spam*

      My dad and I both liked science fiction. My mother went to the library and picked out books for us. She started at “A” in the science fiction section and checked to see if our library card numbers were stamped in the cover (it was a looong time ago) and took anything we hadn’t already read. It took a few years, but we finished the entire section.

      Later, my dad admitted that if she had known what was in some of the books, she would not have let me read them. I was young and impressionable and it may be why I’m so open to other people’s ways of life now. In high school, I was surprised to find out that people disapproved of some kinds of relationships.

    8. GoryDetails*

      I choose books by lots of methods. Just today I was reading John Scalzi’s “Whatever” blog, where he posts photos of stacks of ARCs that he’s received, spines visible; I always run down the spines checking out the books, and often find at least two or three to add to my wishlist. Am a sucker for an intriguing title and/or eye-catching cover-art, but I also like to hunt up genre-specific stuff: horror, SF, various types of mysteries, travel books, “biographies of things” (non-fiction that’s focused on one topic, like Mark Kurlansky’s The Big Oyster, which is a history of New York City via oysters)…

      I’m also very much into BookCrossing, where one registers books on the site, generating unique IDs for each physical copy of a book. The books can then be left somewhere public (less common during COVID), in book-swap shelves or Little Free Libraries, given to friends, donated to thrift shops, whatever, with finders having the option to go online and add their own thoughts, where and when they found the books, and so forth. The site includes “release challenges” that one can join, with themes like “books with elements in the title” or “books with Irish authors/titles/content/cover-art images”, and I often (often!) seek out books for my favorite challenges with an eye towards the most unusual books that match the theme. So for an “elements” challenge I might search for books with the most obscure periodic-table elements in their titles, or for a “birds” challenge I’d go looking for books about rare birds or antiquated bird-names or “longest bird-name I can find”, that kind of thing. I often discover really good books this way, even though I’m focusing more on the title than the content.

      And I get ideas for books from sites like this one – Alison’s recommendations or those in the open-threads posts about books – and in other book-related blogs. So I’m never short of something new on the TBR shelves!

    9. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I don’t go by covers, but I’m a sucker for a book with a catchy title. I’ve read so many cozy mysteries because the title made me giggle and I have to know what’s in the book.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Yeah, a catchy and/or funny title will always catch my eye – though I’ve learned that not all such titles are applied to books I’ll enjoy. From the punny-cozy-mystery ones, Donna Andrews’ bird-themed ones are good: Toucan Keep a Secret, We’ll Always Have Parrots, etc.

        And I picked up the comedic SF novel Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain by A. Martinez almost solely on the basis of the title – though as it’s a pretty good summary of the story it worked out well!

    10. Marion Ravenwood*

      Ah I saw this book when it was 99p on the Kindle store and didn’t buy it, and now I’m kicking myself for not doing so as it sounds right up my alley! Oh well, hopefully it’ll come back round on there soon.

      In terms of how I pick books, at one time I had such a big to-read list that I used to use a random number generator and download whatever book matched that on the list. Now it’s more like whatever the most recent thing I downloaded was (most of my books come from the Kindle 99p sales). I do try not to read the same type of book twice in a row though – so for example, if I’ve been reading something ‘heavy’ I’ll swap to a lighter read to give my brain a bit of a break. Also in the pre-COVID days when I was going away somewhere I’d often pick books set in that place; I find in a way it helps me to connect with the destination more, because I know where authors are talking about when they mention, say, a particular river or area.

    11. Hotdog not dog*

      Thanks for all the great suggestions! I read pretty much everything, but it’s common for me to go on a trail when I discover a book I really enjoy, either reading everything else by the same author or following that genre for a while. Having my son choose books for me came about because although he loved visiting the library, he had no patience outside of the children’s section. Letting him pick books for me gave him something to do that felt like he was being entrusted with a special mission (and meant that I got to have books to read that week.)

  13. nep*

    I’d like to hear anyone’s insights, thoughts, suggestions.
    My niece has basically cut me off from her little one, whom I helped raise for her first five years (until COVID hit). I have to just step back and let it be, right? I don’t know what happened or what’s in her mind, but asking to talk with her about it would amount to nothing; she has always said only what she thinks people want to hear. I have never heard her assert herself and speak up about things.
    My heart is shredded. All that matters to me in life is that the little one (now six) be happy and healthy. It was helpful to be assured of that regularly with Zoom chats or texts or short outside visits. But no more. (I also can’t bear to think that my great niece thinks I don’t want to see her anymore…She might not think of it at all, but I can’t know, of course.)

    1. Workerbee*

      That is heartbreakingly tough.

      I’m hoping it’s just a combo of COVID isolation and how things just get overwhelming and weeks and months slip by, where even a text can seem like too much to handle, and Zoom even more.

      If this is not the case…
      What’s the niece’s immediate family situation (your sibling/sibling-in-law, other in-laws, if applicable or around)? Is she possibly being influenced by others? Can you ask anyone else in your family about this? Or her friends?

      1. nep*

        Thanks. Good point. My relationship with her dad (my brother) isn’t great…and I don’t get on with her stepmom at all. So I have also wondered whether they are influencing her in some way. But I keep wondering, why? What motive would they have to spend time and energy putting a barrier up like that?
        Bottom line for everyone had better be that child’s health and happiness–that’s my dearest hope.
        (I know her mom drinks, and I do think this is a factor. All the more reason for me to want to be in touch and be reassured of how the little one’s doing. Inevitably when she would come over, even if we spent a few minutes alone, she would talk about things that are going on with her, in that simple precious way a six-year-old will. Now I don’t have that.)

        1. WellRed*

          If her parents didn’t keep you away from niece for five years, it seems unlikely they would start now. I’m leaning toward pandemic related or maybe something else has changed in her life. Can you at least try mailing the occasional postcard or card or little treat to the great niece as a means of letting her know you haven’t forgotten her?

          1. nep*

            Thanks.
            I continue to leave treats on the porch for her, as I’ve done throughout the pandemic. I can only hope she still feels the love, and most of all that she’s happy.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              If you’re leaving treats on her porch… please don’t. I know it’s hard for you, but your niece has been clear, it seems. Going to her home and leaving gifts is a sign that you do not accept nor respect her boundaries. That is the best way to ensure that this current situation will continue.

      1. nep*

        Thanks. My niece is married to the little one’s dad. No idea whether he weighs in and for some reason wants me to back off or be out of the picture. It’s a black hole, that part of the family–one that I’d pretty much not want to have anything to do with, were it not for the little girl.

        1. Disco Janet*

          That last sentence says a lot without giving any actual, real info. They may be picking up on the judgment/the fact that you don’t want anything to do with them, just with the daughter. And that can get messy and complicated quickly.

          1. nep*

            Maybe, but I don’t think so exactly in that way.
            Though I do sense that my niece feels like we judge her parenting–which I think is a projection, because she tends to be insecure in many ways. I can see how having me out of the picture could be a huge load off in that way.
            Appreciate the feedback.

            1. nep*

              (For the record, she wouldn’t really have much to do with me either except again, superficial stuff, were it not for the position we were in to help when she needed day care.)

              1. Jim Bob*

                I think this is the answer here, as painful as it is. Has her work or family situation changed due to the pandemic, such that she no longer needs childcare from you?

    2. Queer Earthling*

      I have to just step back and let it be, right?

      Yes. I’ve been on the other side and cut out some relatives, including my parents, although in my case it was due to abuse and some other factors. But regardless of the reason, every time my mother tries to “reach out,” all it says to me is that she cares more about her feelings than my boundaries.

      I am genuinely sorry this happened, and I hope your niece changes her mind or that this is in some other way resolved. Internet hugs, if you want them.

      1. nep*

        Thanks for that important insight.
        I know it will seem to my niece that it’s more about my feelings…but truly I’m only and all about the little one’s well-being and joy.
        But I am sure that this is one where I’ve got to just step back and let things play out. Of course, acting if we ever learn that there is reason to be concerned about my great niece, but in the meantime, letting things go.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My family did a lot of this stuff. And why, who knows.

      As a kid, I could see through it. I circled back as a young adult and found these lost people.

      You know the irony of it is, my elders did that ALSO. Their own elders banned them from certain people and once my elders came of age, they went and found those people. So you’d think my elders would have realized what was going to happen next. I think alcohol clouded their ability to see this type of stuff.

      Be your mellow self. If there is alcohol involved, this little person will grow into a teen/young adult who needs a stable adult around them. (BTDT) And you can be that stable adult.

      This may sound corny or woo-wooish. I remember you talking about how much you love your niece. Keep sending that love out into the universe. She will feel it. I know I did and I went looking for it later. She is 5? I started sneaking off when I was about 16 or 17, I think. But I could have been younger. Just hold on.

      1. nep*

        Thank you.
        Yes–lots of alcoholism in my family, both sides. Sad, harsh truth.
        I don’t think your suggestion is woo-woo at all–I sense that it makes a difference to keep sending out that love, big love.

      2. Batgirl*

        My partner’s family is like this. Not alcohol, but a lot of falling out over nothing but dysfunctional people skills and imaginary slights. He has also been interested in keeping ahold of someone more stable over listening to what is obvious bias. If I were in your shoes nep, I’d aim for approachable, but respectful of the decision. Which is a hard balance to strike. So sorry you’re going through this.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Sounds like you don’t have much of a relationship with your great niece’s parents or grandparents? I hate to sound harsh but I think it’s unreasonable to expect to have a relationship with a young child if you don’t have one with her parents. Unless you mend fences with your niece and her husband, you can probably expect this to continue. Did something happen a year ago that made the relationship change (other than the pandemic)?

      1. nep*

        Not harsh–it’s a reasonable question.
        Let’s just say we were never best buddies…but there’s not been hostility. And only love and unconditional giving from myself and a relative who helped raise my great niece for five and a half years.
        I know that my niece LOVES the freedom of not having us in her life every weekday…even when we resisted meddling, I’m sure things felt like meddling, because hell–she was with us more than with her parents Mon through Fri. I reckon that my niece might just be feeling, ‘Leave me the hell alone with my kid,’ and I can respect that. At the same time, it HAS to be all about the child. It’s not just that she was yanked out of our lives, we were yanked out of hers. Part of the problem, even if niece was having issues and wanted to handle things in another way to help the little one, she’s never mentioned it. She doesn’t talk to me except about very surface, trivial things.
        Thank you

        1. AcademiaNut*

          To be a bit blunt – it sounds like your niece maybe didn’t like you very much, but needed the babysitting, and kept things superficially polite as a result. Now that she doesn’t need the babysitting, she’s happy to cut ties with you. From your perspective, you were a co-parent in the child’s life and being cut out is devastating for both of you, from your niece’s, you were childcare, and cutting contact is no different than getting a new nanny, or leaving daycare when starting full time school – a possibly tough transition, but not a tragedy.

          1. nep*

            That wouldn’t be a shocker.
            Not calling it a tragedy.
            Yes, I talk about my heart in tatters because it is. But I’m a big girl. Sole interest/concern the child’s well-being and peace.

    5. fposte*

      Oh, no, nep, I’m so sorry. I know how important she’s always been to you.

      There was a recent Carolyn Hax question from a woman who was nonspecifically unhappy in her marriage but wondered if it was really about the pandemic, and Carolyn’s advice was to wait six months to decide because our emotions and worldview are so weighted by the pandemic right now. I wonder if this is a case where people just leaped out of COVID fatigue.

      I’d hang in there and respectfully toe the parental line on whatever contact is allowed, and figure that even if they don’t have a reason that makes sense to you it makes sense to them.

        1. Lizzie*

          You could start a scrapbook for the child to perhaps see, one day in the future, so that she will know you thought of her and wished her well in the intervening years. You could write in it about some of the things you have done together, eg ‘I made some cookies today, I remember we used to take turns licking the spoon, it was nice to remember us doing that’. You could put in photos of things, eg the neighbour’s dog, with updates on them: ‘here’s Charlie with a new ball, and it looks like he has had a bath’. You would be creating a memory book which has happy memories for you, even though the child may not ever know about it. As time passes you can add birthday cards, postcards of places you travel, drawings, wherever is relevant.

    6. nep*

      Thanks to everyone who shared thoughts, insights here. It’s been a day of a lot of reflecting on this, including talking with a friend in Côte d’Ivoire (we often talk about our family situation, and he’s got a daughter and grandkids)… He had some interesting insights.
      Appreciate all the input.

  14. Workerbee*

    I’m looking for trousers that aren’t tight or restricting on my abdomen/waist.

    Reason: Fibroids, which pretty much mess up my midsection. Those suckers tend to push back.

    So I’d prefer no pressure on that area, and something I can wear in more settings than just the comfort of my home.

    I see brands like Betabrand, but it’s hard to gauge online if their waistbands are “tight” and hold you in more than I can stand.

    What brands or styles would you recommend? And, anything magically akin to the comfort of foldover bootcut yoga pants? :)

    1. nep*

      Have you ever found Chico’s that work for you? I have found that some of their pants are oh so comfortable–and I am someone who doesn’t find many pants comfortable.
      I’ve sold Betabrand on Poshmark–I gather they’re pretty popular–but I’ve never tried any on.
      I actually bought a pair of maternity (wide non-binding elastic waistband) pants a while back. I buy my clothes at resale / thrift shops and I now will glance at the maternity section just to see whether anything suitable there. A stretch, but it’s something to think about.
      Best

      1. ronda*

        the Chicos travelers elastic waist pants work well for me. no pockets…. but can’t have everthing :)
        But they are not form fitting like a yoga pants would be.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m not entirely sure but I’m wondering if those “mom jeans” with the elastic waist might be okay? I recently bought a pair of jeggings because of the elastic waist and they’re actually pretty comfy

      1. Jen*

        I actually wore my maternity pants for a while even after I fit back into regular pants because the stretchy material felt better over my c section scar.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        A lot of my work pants are actually black or colored jeggings. If you pair them with a nice top and good shoes, it’s not immediately obvious that they’re not “real” pants, and several brands of jeggings even have pockets so you can still have your phone and keys.

    3. Coco*

      I have a few pairs of beta brand yoga trousers. They are snug. They fit similar to legging/ yoga pants. Stretchy than compression leggings but they are pretty snug even if you go up a size.

      I love joggers. Gap has some that look dressier than sweatpants. Also Uniqlo has some stretchy pants that may work

    4. Redhairrunner*

      I find that well fitted high waisted trousers are very comfortable. They don’t rely on squeezing your stomach to stay up, so they can just sit on your body without pinching. Lots of work trousers also have elastic blend fabric that stretches and is very soft.

    5. HannahS*

      How about maternity pants? There’s one style that’s basically stretchy pants with two pieces of soft elastic above the pockets. They don’t look like maternity pants, and are SO comfortable. Mine are khakis from Old Navy, but in black. Super comfortable, great for work, discreet at a time when I don’t really “look” pregnant but I can tell and all my pants are too tight.

    6. the cat's ass*

      Land’s end has LOTS of styles that are soft, elastic or loose waisted and a few styles even have pockets! While the pair i have is designated loungewear for me, they are meant for outdoor wear.

      1. B*

        Second this; i own many pairs of the black “five pocket active pant” and with a longer top look much more formal than yoga pants. There are many different stretch waist styles, some in cotton, and most come in average, petite and tall lengths with sizes from xs-xl including plus sizes. Read the reviews they really helped me to narrow down the choices. Also they frequently have 30%-40% off sales!

    7. Janet Pinkerton*

      This will likely be TMI but hopefully helpful. When I had a lot of abdominal pain from being overly constipated, I definitely felt like the betabrand pants were too compressive on my abdomen.

    8. Fellow Traveller*

      I really like Duluth Trading Company’s NoGa pants. They are kind of like yoga pants, but I find the cut and material a little less casual. They are a touch high waisted on me, but not tight at all. I find them pricy, so I only have one pair, but I’ve worn them at least twice a week for the past five years or so.

    9. Captain Raymond Holt*

      I have some tights from Athleta (Delancey) that may fit the bill for you! Their clothes in general are pretty good.

    10. WoodswomanWrites*

      My favorite pants for abdominal comfort are L.L. Bean’s Women’s Perfect Fit Knit Cords. If you look at their website, you’ll see they have more than 2,000 positive reviews. As a bonus, L.L. Bean has top-notch customer service, including an entire year to return things for a refund if you don’t like them. I’ve had multiple pairs of these in different colors for years and they are still in great shape.

    11. Workerbee*

      You all have helped so much! I would not have thought of these suggestions on my own.

      I am excited about the shopping in my near future. Thank you!

    12. Dancing Otter*

      With warm weather coming, what about linen? Lots of linen pants have either elastic or drawstring waists, or a combination. Because the linen fabric is soft, the gathering isn’t as bulky as it would be in a heavier (warmer) fabric.

  15. The Other Dawn*

    I’m looking for perfume recommendations. I realize this is a highly personal preference, but I’m tired of buying ones I think I will like and they turn out to be really heavy so I’m curious what others have found that they like or love.

    My favorite scent is honeysuckle. I tend to like very light, floral scents with no musky undertones. My favorite, which I’ve been buying for years, is no longer made. It’s Summer Hill by Crabtree & Evelyn. Ever since they reinvented the brand, they no longer make it, which is really disappointing. I have one bottle left, but that won’t last forever. I bought a bottle on Amazon last year, but the scent was off and I tossed it. There are more there, but I don’t want to chance it.

    I did some online research and bought a couple recently (Demeter and Derek Lam Drunk on Youth) that seemed promising based on the positive reviews and the descriptions and…yuck. What was described as a very light, sweet, floral scent is very strong and doesn’t smell like honeysuckle at all to me. I have a spritzer from Beekman 1802 that I love, but it’s just distilled water and fragrance so it wears off very fast.

    Rather than waste money online again, I’ll just go and try out some scents in the stores once I get about halfway through my last bottle. In the meantime, anyone here favor the honeysuckle scent and have a recommendation?

    1. Workerbee*

      This is still online, though they may have a single storefront still, and hopefully will be live at a Renaissance Faire near you again.

      Kamala’s Own Magickal and Mundane Perfumery (you can probably just type “kamala perfume” in Google).

      Their perfume oils are the closest I have ever found to the flowers themselves. No unpleasant undertone of alcohol or missing the mark. They get lily of the valley to smell like lily of the valley, et al. They even have scents like cut grass.

      They have a huge array of scents, including honeysuckle, and offer sample sizes.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, that’s what I’m looking for–a perfume that just smells like fresh flowers, like I’m sitting next to a bouquet if that makes sense. Summer Hill is my favorite and the only one I’ve found so far that doesn’t change as the day goes on. But of course it’s discontinued, just like every good thing I like! LOL

    2. StellaBella*

      I like Gucci Bloom as it is a lot like a light gardenia. Maybe go to your department store and ask for a few variois sample tubes?

      1. a duchess in oz*

        Seconding this one. I was tossing up between this and Misteriosa (Ferragamo); while I chose Ferragamo in the end because I love the fruity scent, it was close.

    3. Buni*

      The Perfume Society has quite a good if-you-liked-that-try-this search thang https://perfumesociety.org/find-a-fragrance/ .

      I’m with you that I would never buy a scent I hadn’t actually tried but it might give you some ideas on things to seek out. Personally I’m a massive fan of Penhaligons but I acknowledge they’re ~pricey~ and they haven’t a huge amount of branches outside of London.

    4. Queer Earthling*

      Online again, but I had a sample of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Juliet at some point that was very light and floral. Although on reading the description, it does have white musk, which you might not care for. (The website describes the scents thus: “Sweet pea with stargazer lily, calla lily, heliotrope, honeysuckle, white musk and a touch of fresh pear.”) There’s no honeysuckle, but BPAL Maiden was also very dainty and floral: “white tea, carnation and Damask Rose.”

    5. Reba*

      You might like the 7 virtues line! I wear the vetiver most and also wear the jasmine neroli a lot. While it isn’t honeysuckle per se I think they hit the right notes of white flowers without sweetness (I also find many perfumes too sweet and artificial). They sell sample bottles and I believe they are carried in Sephora.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I love Jo Malone. She makes a lot of single flower scents – in particular I have Rose and Orange Blossom. Orange Blossom may be your thing? I also have Easter Lily from Lili Bermuda which is single flower scent.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Oh, orange blossom sounds wonderful! I have shampoo and conditioner that’s Honey & Orange Blossom. Not cheap, but my hair seems to like it and it smells really nice.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        I was just about to mention Jo Malone. I love some of those scents. Also, Maison Margiela has some nice floral scents as well that aren’t remotely overpowering – it’s very soft and will fade, but not too quickly.

    7. Chaordic One*

      This isn’t quite a direct answer to your question, but I’ve found a lot of perfumes that were popular when I was a child are still available at the Vermont Country Store website. They are what my mother and grandmother and aunts wore. Just seeing the perfumes still available brings back a lot of memories and I’ll buy one every once in a while.

    8. Helvetica*

      Jo Malone! Mimosa&Cardamom sounds like it might work for you. It’s not honeysuckle but I’d say it might be close.

      1. pancakes*

        I really like mimosa scents. Calypso Mimosa by Christiane Celle is a favorite I’ve been wearing off and on since it came out in the late 90s. I know there are some other flowers in their line, definitely a gardenia one, but I’m not sure about honeysuckle.

        1. pancakes*

          Calypso Chevrefeuille might be worth a try – “Top notes are Honeysuckle, Bergamot and Orange; middle notes are Neroli and Jasmine; base notes are Vanilla and Ambergris.”

    9. JobHunter*

      I got a small bottle of Laila by Geir Ness at a Scandinavian cultural festival a few years ago. It is a light floral scent.

    10. B*

      There is a site called fragantica.com that has a fragrance finder feature. You can look up the notes you like and then read about the various recommendations and reviews. Some commenters go deep into perfume jargon others not so much. Gives you a starting point for getting samples of things.

    11. Overbooked*

      You can experiment with small, inexpensive samples from luckyscent.com. Their site offers a keyword search feature. For great reading on fragrances, don’t miss “Perfumes: the guide” by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez (2018). They’re brilliant, funny, and opinionated. My daughter has had good luck finding her discontinued fragrance on EBay.

    12. RagingADHD*

      It’s hard, because your body chemistry changes the smell. It’s not going to smell the same on you as in the bottle, and it won’t smell quite the same on you as on others.

      Can you get mini testers? You need to leave it on for like, 15-20 minutes to develop.

    13. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks for all the recommendations! I’ve ordered some samples and also bookmarked some pages. Now I have a good idea of what to look for when I go to the store.

      It’s so disappointing when a company discontinues something you love and have been using for years. Summer Hill is, so far, the only fragrance I’ve found that doesn’t change over the course of hours and the scent isn’t overwhelming. It doesn’t have that heavy perfume-y scent I loathe.

      I amend my opinion of Demeter: it definitely smells like honeysuckle and pretty much only honeysuckle. It was strong when I put it on, but seemed to mellow out after a couple hours.

  16. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    My seedlings are doing well. Only 7-9 more weeks until I plant them outside!

    My christmas cacti are also having a beautiful week, which has made the room more cheery. It also helps that we are going to have warmer weather soon, so can spend more (socially distanced, masked) time outdoors with friends. It makes such a difference to the mood when the garden becomes a part of the home’s footprint again. I know I’m lucky, but years ago I had the choice between a lovely home with a tiny garden, and a big yard with a crappy home, so having access to the yard makes a big difference!

    1. Bobina*

      Most of my bulbs have sprouted/are sprouting, but no flowers yet – and I keep looking at them like – when are you going to flower?! #impatient

      Most of the seeds I’ve planted in the last couple of weeks have sprouted which is great, and some true leaves are coming through so will hopefully be hardening those off soon to move outside!

    2. Never Nicky*

      I’ve got too many seedlings as germination was generally better than I expected! I’ve been using those “Jiffy Pellets” and been impressed.

      More veg and flowers will be set off tomorrow and I will move my seedlings to the cooler windowsills to make room for the seeds.

    3. MinotJ*

      I turned a raised bed into a greenhouse! I bought some thick plastic sheeting with a plan that we would make a few raised bed greenhouses. My partner had all these plans for clips and windows. But the perfect is the enemy of the good! He got busy and my seedling were getting leggy – so I went quick and dirty. I draped the plastic over these metal frames we have over the beds (the dogs will jump into the beds and dig all winter if we don’t keep them out), tucked in the excess, et voila! Ugly as sin and my partner is almost offended by it, but it works. It’s steamy in there and smells like a greenhouse. I go out with a digital thermometer periodically to check on the temp, I open up the ends on sunny days, and nobody’s dead yet!

    4. Courageous cat*

      We are doing seedlings for the first time and have no idea wtf we’re doing! (that means growing it from seed right? haha)
      Our arugula is ready to go out this weekend but my farmer friend suggests I wait till 4/15 for the others (cucumbers, jalapenos, bell peppers, mixed lettuce, grape tomatoes). Oh well.

      1. Venus*

        I just enjoy it for what it is. I try to grow at least enough that I’ve covered my financial investment for the year (usually about $20 for compost and similar, so if I grow at least 10 heirloom tomatoes then I feel like I’m doing well) and everything else is a bonus. I hope you have fun!

    5. Spessartine*

      My plants and I are struggling. I wish I could say it’s a recent thing but I’ve pretty much always had a black thumb, it’s just that I’ve been acquiring so many lately that it’s more and more obvious! I now have ~20 in my bedroom and bathroom and a couple of them are doing well but it seems like every time I turn around, another one is near death. I’m sure the vast majority of them are my fault but every time I try to google what might be wrong, it’s either “you’re watering too much! or not enough” or it starts getting into complicated soil composition ratios that are completely over my head. My house gets very little natural light so I got a grow light, but even the plants under it frequently seem to struggle. Compounding the problem is that I got many of them from a local nursery where none are labeled and the employees frequently don’t know what they are…plus I have cats who LOVE to eat greenery so they all have to be up out of reach (and out of the paltry direct sunlight!). Maybe I should just give up? I love seeing green everywhere I turn but the death rate is getting depressing.

      I did get a potted hyacinth at the hardware store yesterday and put it on my nightstand. It smells amazing and I already know it won’t last, so I’m going to enjoy the heck out of it while it’s here.

      1. Bobina*

        Hyacinths are perennials so dont worry when it dies – it should come back again next year!

        Not having a lot of light makes things tough (I also have the same issue) but if you want, it would probably be better to specifically look for plants with low light needs. There are indoor plants can deal with that, so maybe you can scratch your itch for the green but also have less stress?

        1. Spessartine*

          I didn’t know that about hyacinths! That makes me happy, right now half my house smells like them and it’s just lovely. It’ll be nice to have it again next year.

          You’re probably right about the low light plants. My happiest is a pothos (it’s going on five years old now) and I gather they’re not very picky about their conditions. I suppose if every time something dies, I replace it with more pothos or something similarly hardy, I’ll still have my greenery even if there isn’t a ton of variety. This isn’t our forever house so I’ll just have to make sure the next one gets more light!

          1. Venus*

            Grow lights help a bit, but from what I have experienced they don’t really fix things. I used to start my seedlings in the basement under a grow light, and they did okay but they were mostly surviving until I could plant them outdoors 8 weeks later. They I put the lighting setup in a south-facing window, so they had both sunlight and grow lights, and that is when they really started to do well.

            I often suspect that people with so-called black thumbs just don’t have the best conditions for the plants that they have. I would suggest finding something that works better for low light, as Bobina suggests. Or get plants that have a limited lifespan, or if you can buy them cheaply enough then get ones that you like and when they start looking a bit unhappy then give them away on a local buy-nothing group.

    6. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Not in my garden yet, but a person recently created a local buy/sell/swap plant group on FB. It’s been houseplants so far but I’m looking forward to the perennials that people will be thinning when spring is farther along.

    7. Pam Adams*

      my sister is planting tomatoes, bell peppers, and zucchinis today- it’s Southern California. Plus, we got some colored cauliflowers as an experiment.

    8. Curious Canadian*

      Haha I know it’s technically the first day of spring but in Saskatchewan we call it false spring. I did buy more grow lights today for my little seedlings

    9. Might Be Spam*

      My Lenten roses have buds that should start opening soon and my daffodils are about 4 inches high.

    10. Jackalope*

      I’m super excited about our garden! I’ve gone a little nuts buying stuff – got some cherry trees, rhododendrons, roses, butterfly bushes, a lilac, wisteria, a hydrangea, raspberries….. My whole life is planting at the moment.

    11. Me*

      I planted all my onions out this week. I’d potted up 30 tomatoes last week, and this weekend I potted up three more plus 9 paprika peppers. My leeks should go on the enclosed porch this week to start hardening off.

      My second group of tomato seedlings is going great. I expect I’ll probably pot them up in about ten days or so.

      I had a landscape architect come over this week and will hire them to come up with a plan for the perennial beds and lawn. It all needs work.

    12. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

      My tulips are blooming! I realized this weekend that some of them aren’t what I ordered, so I’ll need to contact the company about a refund or replacement. I ordered 5 different kinds of tulips, though, and only have 2 kinds of blooms so far, so I’ll need to wait and see what else comes up so I know which one I didn’t get! I also planted 2 weigela last year that are reawakening, which I’m thrilled about because a deer nibbled off all the delicious tips of one of them and I didn’t know if it would make it.

      Ten of sixteen peas have sprouted, and I’m starting to get little carrot seedlings as well. Beets haven’t sprouted yet but I only planted them a week ago so I expect they’ll start coming up soon as well. I ended up with a bunch of extra tomato, pepper, basil, and asparagus plants from seeds I started indoors, but luckily I was able to pass the extras off to friends and family who also like to garden, and not condemn them to being culled!

      Underwhelmed by the delphiniums I tried to start from seed – tried 12, only 4 sprouted, and since then 2 failed to take off and have shriveled up. The other 2 are doing ok though so I’ll probably try to get more going.

      Have solidified that I really don’t know what I’m doing with orchids, though. We got one as a gift from our realtor when we bought our house about a year and a half ago, and it was struggling along limply until I brought it into work where it can get more sun. Now it’s perked up, has a much better color, and is putting on new growth….. but I spotted a mushroom growing in its pot! Don’t think that’s supposed to be happening!

  17. sswj*

    Off the wall question –
    Anyone had nut trees on their property, and if so how did you deal with the fallout (so to speak)?

    I have 5 big hickory trees, and the nuts they produce are tasty, but are too much of a PITA to get useful nutmeats from for me to want to deal with them. What I DO want to do is sweep the up off the ground and get rid of them. They are ankle-twisters, and they are all around the house. They also aren’t like pecans with relatively fragile shells, these suckers are like rocks, even after overwintering on the ground. Mowing them just turns them into lethal shards (and I do so love to be barefoot).

    I’m considering getting a lawn sweeper, but these things are also relatively heavy and I don’t really know if one would work. I’m trying to find a local place to rent one and see, but no luck so far.

    Any thoughts or tales welcome!

    1. Venus*

      Can you post somewhere asking if anyone wants them? This may not work if you live remotely, but if you have a big population nearby then one or many people may want to help collect the nuts. Food banks are often willing to take extra food from gardens, so you might ask yours if they want the donation.

      1. sswj*

        We’re pretty remote, and these trees are common here. And these really aren’t the kind of nuts that are useful bulk food. They’re more hull than nut, unfortunately :/

    2. lapgiraffe*

      I don’t know how much it would cost or how hard to deal with, and I also wonder the timing (like it might be easier if the nuts fall for only a week or two, obviously more challenging if it’s an ongoing thing). Perhaps you could put some netted tarps down around the tree, what I’m thinking of is how they prepare the ground to harvest olives (and I think other nuts!). It could be that you also try and “harvest” them yourself, put the nets down and shake the limbs and do a few thorough de-nutting sessions.

      1. sswj*

        If they were smaller trees and fewer of them, I might do that. But these are big, mature trees; 25-35 feet tall and a couple are 2 ft in diameter at the base. Only a gale shakes these things.

    3. 00ff00Claire*

      Have you considered a nut gatherer? We, well actually our neighbors, have a walnut tree (and we get the walnuts). We almost bought a nut gatherer but we started using a lawn service and thankfully they mostly deal with the nuts now. My husband still picks some up by hand when they are at their peak. I can’t personally comment on how well the gatherers work, other than it is a solution we have considered worth trying. Good luck! I can commiserate with how annoying and weirdly difficult this problem can be.

    4. Kathenus*

      I have a large black walnut tree so definitely get the ankle-twisters! I just gather them all up before I mow the lawn and tossing them into my pollinator garden, where the squirrels enjoy them. There are some parts of the season I grab a small bucket to do so due to the number, but most weeks it’s just grabbing a handful, tossing it to the garden, and gathering a few more – until they’re clear for the mower. If you have squirrels (and if you have large nut trees guessing you do if they’re native to where you live), put them in a location they can get to them so they are enjoyed and help find food.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      They do make nut rakes. I can tell ya first hand they are a PITA. I will try to find a pic and post it in a reply to myself here.

    6. lemon meringue*

      Location-dependent, but you might see if there is a local organization that collects unwanted fruit from trees in the region (we have a few of those where I am). They would probably take nuts too.

    7. Girasol*

      Might someone want them and be willing to gather? A woman at Grandma’s care home liked to make pin money at the Christmas bazaar by shelling them out and selling the nut meats. She dropped a brick on them and picked them out while watching TV. Gram sent me some and they were amazingly delicious in cookies.

    8. Quinalla*

      My parents have a mix of hickory and oak and yes those hickory nuts are a bear. Picking them up by had is the best solution we found and what they still do. We had a $5 and $10 bucket as kids that if we filled they’d pay us cause it is a chore picking them up!

      1. Lizzie*

        Depending on your finances, maybe there are local kids (scouts? Church?) who would like to earn/raise money by picking them up.

    9. sswj*

      So I actually went out and counted – There are 13 full grown trees out there. That’s a LOT of goddamned nuts, no way am I doing that all by hand, not when I’m also working 40 hrs a week and have a farm to take care of.
      I guess I could explore giving them away having someone come and gather, but that’s also hard since I’m out of the house a lot, and I don’t really want random strangers wandering my property. I think if I could use a tow-behind implement to gather them, then I could put them in a pile or in buckets and pass them on that way. I’m in SC, and there’s a lot of hickory in this part of the world though, so I don’t know what I’d have for takers.

      Basic point, anyway, is that I need a fast way to get these things off the ground in bulk. I do not have time (or energy) to do it by hand, even with one of the roller-thingies on a stick.

      Thanks for all your input!

    10. Bethlam*

      I don’t have nuts, but we have a loooong gravel driveway and a lot of gravel gets thrown into the yard by the snowblower. We have a marvelous power broom that sweeps it back into the driveway. Would probably work for nuts. However, it’s not light. I can operate it (I’m 5’1″ and 64 yo), but not for an extended period of time.

  18. Llellayena*

    I’m going to try to aim this in a “non-work” direction, but remove it if you need to. Today’s Ask Amy column annoyed the hell out of me as a regular AAM reader. She gave advice claiming something was a “hostile work environment” and could trigger legal action when any AAM reader would be able to tell it wasn’t. So, non-work direction: do the various advice columns refer readers to other advice columns who have more topic-appropriate background knowledge? I’ve seen Alison do it on occasion, but I’m wondering if you’ve seen it in other columns? Also, would you write in to Ask Amy to correct her?

    1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Are you referring to the boss that insisted on sharing a hotel room and then walk around in a thong? Because even though it’s two women, that may be considered sexual harassment. Plus these are letters from 10 years ago – not that they should be republished if they no longer are helpful – so I wouldn’t recommend contacting her.

      1. Llellayena*

        Yep, that’s the one. I hadn’t thought of the thong in the realm of sexual harassment, but I can see that argument. It just seemed like “something that would happen” when sharing a hotel room. Which in and of itself is not harassment.

        1. sequined histories*

          Yeah, I would think the boss repeatedly exposing her body like this–on the toilet, in the thong–would be legally questionable, even though most awful boss shenanigans are, indeed, legal. I mean, we do have laws against indecent exposure . . .

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          I would consider my boss walking around in a thong to be sexual harassment. Just because you’re sharing a hotel room doesn’t mean you automatically have to see someone in their underwear.

        3. RagingADHD*

          The legal question comes in because the LW asked to have separate rooms, and the boss required them to stay together.

          So seeing her boss’s butt has been turned into a job requirement. That’s not okay.

      2. llamaswithouthats*

        Admittedly I haven’t read the column but ew!! Being naked in front of someone without their consent is…not okay. Idk if it is technically a “hostile work environment”, but if I saw my boss naked I would be very uncomfortable. I do think it fits under sexual harassment, even if the boss isn’t trying to seduce the letter writer.

        Also, I’ve taken a lot of sexual harassment trainings on what does/doesn’t fall under sexual harassment. While rules have come a long way, there are still a lot of loopholes and unaddressed issues in these trainings, but I won’t go into that here.

    2. Qwerty*

      Do you mean the one with the boss who walks around in a thong? Who also has conversations with her employee on the toilet with the door open?

      It says it’s a reprint from a decade ago, so there doesn’t seem to be any point writing in. But a new job and a lawyer still seem like good advice for anyone in that situation.

      Some of the web-based advice columnists seem to talk to each other more, but the newspaper style ones seem to be more independent and consult lawyers/experts rather than other advice columnists.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      Karla in the WaPo and Miss Manners almost always answer work questions wrong. In the comments, I will send the LW to AAM. Nobody should be the victim of bad career advice when they could get The Good Advice from Alison!

      1. saf*

        Oh, Karla pisses me off so much. Why are they paying that woman? And WHY WHY WHY does Carolyn ever cite her?

    4. llamaswithouthats*

      I’ve only seen Alison do this but not other columnists. Dear Prudence gives terrible advice in general, including work advice, and could stand to outsource those answers. I’m biased, but I think all general advice columnists should just abstain from answering work specific questions because AAM has cornered the market on that.

      1. ronda*

        I have seen some where dear prudence advises asking ask a manager….. but she also gives her answer :)

      2. HBJ*

        I quit reading Dear Prudence awhile back. After Emily Yoffe left, the advice started getting bad, I thought. I stuck it out for quite awhile and then just quit reading a few months ago. I don’t miss it at all.

        1. llamaswithouthats*

          Oof I thought Emily was horrible, too. She is worse than Danny. Danny’s main issue is he tends to just miss the point a lot, but isn’t weirdly traditional or xenophobic like Emily.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          I quit reading after Danny took over, too. I also stuck with it for a bit, but then just gave up. He seems to miss the mark quite a bit in my opinion. I liked Emily Yoffe much better, although her advice wasn’t always the best, either. I’ve gone back a few times lately and I feel the Danny’s advice has only gotten worse.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Just in general, I look at the columnist to see what level of effort they put into their column. Alison puts Extreme Effort into getting things correct. Now you know, Alison is a person who cares and agrees that stuff matters. So this to me would be a good person to write if you have a concern or a correction. Alison-type people use these conversations to grow and make themselves even better.

      Years ago I wrote a different columnist. Her advice was shockingly BAD on a particular letter. I have never seen such bad advice in all the years I have read advice columns. She never printed any comment or expanded on what she was trying to say and she never answered me.

      I’d skip it, if it were me.

    6. lemon meringue*

      The feeling that I get with advice columns is the more specific the column, the better the advice usually is. Which makes sense, because no one can possibly be an expert on everything. I will forgive slightly lacklustre advice if the columnist is a good enough writer, though. But I wouldn’t write in with a correction unless I thought the original advice was bad enough to be potentially damaging to readers if followed.

  19. Teapot Translator*

    What’s cooking? thread!
    What did you cook this week? What are you cooking this coming week?
    I have no idea what I’m cooking this week. This week was rough and my brain is refusing to work.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Last week was rough in my house and my husband put a couple of convoluted things on the menu that didn’t quite work the way we wanted them to*, so this week we’re keeping it simple. Swordfish steaks with rice and salad, breakfast-for-dinner, BLTs, and garlic noodles with shrimp and peapods.

      * We tried a new shrimp Creole recipe for dinner that was ok, but needs some improvement.

      Husband: “I know how to fix this for next time.”
      Me: “Why do your fixes always make the recipe take six times longer to cook?”
      Husband: “Because if you want Cajun food in an hour, you should probably go back to the Zatarains box.”
      Me: “I am just saying, if I wanted to stand over the stove for six hours I wouldn’t own nine crockpots.”

      1. WellRed*

        Not sure what the issue was with your creole but when it comes to crockpotting Cajun I double the spice.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          That was part of it – we literally quadrupled the spice in the recipe and it was still bland (though this one wasn’t crockpotted :) ). It was also way more liquid than we were hoping for, and the proportion of trinity to everything else was weird. It was just a weird recipe, heh.

    2. WellRed*

      I tried for the first time making chili Mac (not something I usually eat). It was ok but was a lot more beef than I realized. But I did love the spicy Mac part. Suggestions for a spicy Mac type dish?

      1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

        May not be exactly what you’re looking for, but Budget Bytes has a recipe for cheeseburger pasta that’s reliably delicious. It’s basically homemade Hamburger Helper, and you could easily tweak it a bit to have less meat and be a little spicier.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve had some luck in adding either pre-made queso or enchilada sauce to the cheese sauce for my mac to get extra spice into it. I’ve added black bean and corn salsa as well.

    3. lapgiraffe*

      I have a funny story about what’s cooking in my house. Weeks ago I saw some social media content about a Finnish Salmon Soup on what appears to be a new “holiday” of national fish soup day. It basically looks like a fish chowder but with salmon rather than white fish and lots of fresh dill, delicious!

      So I decided I’m going to do it up proper snd make my own salmon stock for this. I live in a fishing area so fresh options abound and I have multiple fishmongers I love, decided to just ask my normal one who is a retail outlet for a commercial enterprise. Sweet young woman said it’s been harder to get bones and heads since covid, she doesn’t know why, but she’ll take my info and see if she can’t get some for the next week. I tell her any day is fine, just give me a call. I have nothing going on, I can easily make a little stock any day of the week I think!

      Monday midday I get a voicemail from her so I just head that way after I finish my part time work. She sees me come in and beams, she is so excited to have procured what I needed and pulls a tub from a fridge behind the fish counter. I think she’s about to ask me how much I want but nope! She put a lid on the fish tub (the flat square ones, won’t lie always excited when I get my hands on one) and pushes it over to me “here ya go, there’s no charge!” Now I am pleased to get these, for free no less, so I’m not going to quibble on how much she’s given me, and I figured if I’m making stock might as well make a bunch. But oh my, this tub is heavy.

      15 pounds of salmon carcass! I had to borrow a giant stockpot just to deal with it! I didn’t even use all the beads because I ran out of room and since they required more cleaning (gill removal, moderately gross) I ended up guiltily tossing them. But it wasn’t just a simple project so I’m finally actually making the damn soup today!

      Went yesterday to buy the fresh salmon for it and my gal was there, “how did the stock turn out?!” “I think really good, built a lot of nice flavor, we’ll see how this soup turns out this weekend!”

    4. Starr*

      This week was shrimp alfredo leftover,s followed by shrimp risotto, and is ending with a seafood and noodles dish a coworker made. This week I’m doing mostly sandwiches and salads but at some point going to do some sort of soup with rice. I’m going to make her some mushroom risotto later in return, but that’s got to wait until I have time to stand at the stove for a couple of hours again.

    5. Bobina*

      Made a stout beef stew which turned out okay but wasnt that great. I think the stock cube I added kind of overpowered it all.

      I realised I have a terrible habit of thinking about making certain recipes for so long that I build them up in my head and then the reality is never as good as I imagined. I’m always a lot happier with my spontaneous “throw random things together” meals.

      I also have no idea what I’m going to be cooking this week. Maybe risotto at some point?

    6. Coenobita*

      My CSA sent me a whole bunch of daikon radishes! I love those guys but have never actually prepared them/used them in anything myself so I have to figure out what I want to do. I need to use them before this week’s box (which will apparently have watermelon radishes!) arrives.

      I think I will make a sheet pan frittata this week, since I haven’t made one in a while. You just roast a bunch of veggies on a sheet pan, then add the egg/cheese mix on top and put it back in the oven for a while. Then you can cut into rectangles that are perfect for sandwiches or eating on toast.

      I also have a whole bunch of spinach and want to make some saag tofu. The store near my house occasionally has super-firm tofu (a step up from extra-firm – this always makes me think of tampon absorbency ratings LOL) and I bought a few packs when I saw it there last week.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        If you the stuff needed to do it, pickled daikon is one of my favourite pickles on this planet.

        1. Reba*

          Seconded, check out Maangchi’s method (although there may be simpler approaches out there, lol)!

        2. Coenobita*

          I think that’s exactly what we’ll do. My big pickle jar is currently occupied by the remnants of a mostly-failed sunchoke experiment, but this might be a good excuse to pull the plug on that one and do radishes instead.

          1. Reba*

            Oh no! We got sunchokes for the first time recently in our veg delivery. Turns out, we don’t like them. Sadly, we learned that after tossing them in a *massive* batch of stew.

            1. GoryDetails*

              Sorry to hear that the sunchokes didn’t work for you! I love ’em myself – indeed, I had a thriving crop of the flowers that grew happily at the corner of my house for years and years, and I had a hefty harvest every season. I do prefer them thinly sliced and sauteed, and even then I had to rely on some Beano to avoid digestive-system upsets if I ate too many (which I always did as they were so tasty!)…

            2. Coenobita*

              To be fair, the issue with the pickled sunchokes was that I used way too much garlic (before you say there is no such thing, I also used to think that, and I was wrong!). I don’t have any issue with sunchokes themselves and the pickling supposedly eliminates the compound that makes people gassy – I just didn’t want a whole big jar of garlic pickle :)

            3. pancakes*

              They’re really nice roasted but I don’t like the effect they have on my body. As Cenobita mentioned, they are known to, uh, provoke wind.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I love daikon! I second the pickling, but it also works in stir-fry or Japanese nabemono dishes. I had some purple daikon from my CSA that I used in sukiyaki a few months back.

      3. GoryDetails*

        I love the sheet-pan frittata idea! I make frittatas fairly often (especially during garden-harvest season when the veggies threaten to overwhelm me), usually in my cast-iron skillet, which works beautifully but isn’t as leftovers-storage friendly. Will try the sheet-pan method next time! [I have a sheet pan with silicon inserts, meant to either allow for roasting different things without them mixing or to help in portioning the results; that might work well with frittatas.]

    7. t*

      Fruit salad, with berries, kiwi, and grapes. Can’t decide if I’ll add a dressing but it’ll be a honey-lime one if I do. Vegan sloppy joes with red lentils as the base. Baked red potatoes. Big chopped salads with the usual vegetables plus red cabbage, feta cheese, and oil and vinegar. Black bean soup (2 cans of black beans plus a jar of salsa). Random things.

    8. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I made a roasted tomato cream sauce last night and served it over shrimp and pasta. It’s pretty easy and delicious and is good to use up tomatoes that are past their prime.

      Cut grape or cherry tomatoes in half (chop other tomatoes into about the same size)
      Remove skin from 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
      (Optional) chop some onion into largish pieces
      Put in a roasting pan with olive oil
      Roast at 400 F for 20 minutes
      Place in blender
      Add some black pepper and 1/2 cup of cream or cashew cream
      Add fresh basil leaves
      Blend until smooth
      Serve over noodles plus protein of choice plus Parmesan cheese
      Also very good over lobster ravioli
      Can make a very nice vegan meal with vegan ravioli (skip the cheese)

    9. Charlotte Lucas*

      St. Patrick’s Day dinner: vegetarian Irish stew, colcannon, soda bread, & apple bread pudding with brown sugar sauce.

      For Pi Day, I made cranberry-pineapple pie.

      This week I need to use up the cabbage, turnip, & potatoes that weren’t used in the dinner.

    10. GoryDetails*

      I’m still getting Hello Fresh boxes – and am still surprised at how often it’s the side dishes that appeal most. Also, that a simple crema using sour cream, a little water, possibly some citrus zest, and a dash of whatever seasoning the dish uses is a lovely addition to a dish. Last night I had a pasta dish, where I roasted broccoli and bacon on the same sheet pan and added it to the spaghetti with its creamy Parmesan/cream-cheese sauce. Very rich, very tasty, and something I should be able to make pretty easily sans kit (though having the pre-made Parmesan roux did help a bit).

    11. Potatoes gonna potate*

      For some reason I went to three different grocery stores this week (yay stimulus…jk). Wegmans, whole foods and shoprite.
      Today I’m making goat cheese and roasted red pepper pasta off a recipe I found on Instagram . 

      Later this week I’ll be having homemade chicken meatballs that I bought prepared from an Italian grocery store. They were fresh but I froze them – I’m always a little unsure about how to properly cook those kinds of meals as the instructions only indicate preparation for a fresh meal, not a fresh meal that’s been frozen. 

      I bought summer squash spirals and made it with a veggie tomato sauce, grilled chicken and broccoli. Try as i might, I just cannot make spiral veggies work, I hate how watery zucchini and squash gets. I’m giving up on veggie noodles. 

      I’m sorry things were rough for you this week.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Fig glazed chicken with white beans. SO easy and so yummy. I used boneless chicken breasts instead of thighs and added some broth so as to have more of the delicious sauce.
        3/4 cup fig preserves
        1/3 cup water
        2 tablespoons lemon juice
        2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
        4 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
        1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
        1/4 teaspoon salt
        1/4 teaspoon pepper
        6 bone-in chicken thighs (about 2-1/4 pounds)
        4 shallots, coarsely chopped
        1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
        Directions
        1. Mix first 8 ingredients. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown chicken in batches, starting skin side down. Remove from pan, reserving drippings.
        2. In drippings, saute shallots until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Stir in preserves mixture; bring to a boil, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Add chicken. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 5 minutes.
        3. Add beans; return to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until a thermometer inserted in chicken reads 170°-175°, 12-15 minutes.

      2. TX Lizard*

        You had me at goat cheese and red pepper pasta! Report back (if you can/want) once you’ve tried it and let me know if the recipe is worth tracking down!

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I loved it! I used penne instead of spaghetti because that’s what I had. I don’t really follow quantities, so my ratio of pasta to sauce is that I had more sauce left over than pasta, which is fine – then I use it as a dipping sauce for fresh bakery bread.

          I consider myself very picky about vegetables, certain things have to be prepared a certain way.

          Hope it won’t be too hard to track down, I found the recipe on Instagram – @kalememaybe . It’s one of her most recent ones. The actual link will be in a following post

    12. Torrance*

      I have ‘island kielbasa’ going in the slow cooker right now. I’m celebrating the spring equinox/Ostara today and I wanted something sweet to serve later. It was super easy: chop up some sausage, throw in pineapple chunks, add ketchup & brown sugar, cook for 5+ hours. So far it smells fantastic so I’m looking forward to eating it.

    13. Marion Ravenwood*

      This week I cooked:

      – Penne ragu al forno – my boyfriend’s favourite and one of a few Hello Fresh meals I’ve kept in my repertoire. Very easy – make a ragu with beef mince, grated carrot, tomato puree, tomatoes with garlic and onion, red wine stock pot and a little water. Cook that whilst you cook the pasta, mix together, throw some torn-up mozzarella and grated Italian hard cheese over the top and stick in the oven for 10 minutes or so to brown.
      – Creamy chicken stew with sun-dried tomatoes (from my Gousto box). I liked the flavour of it, but felt it was a bit watery. Not sure if it needed longer in the oven or just something to absorb the liquid – it did have potatoes in it but I might have cut them a bit small.
      – Irish beef stew with colcannon for St Patrick’s Day (from a Gousto recipe) – really liked this, nice flavour and worked well with the colcannon to soak up the liquid.

      This week I have a chorizo and leek pasta recipe and beef empanadas to cook. Not sure what else there’ll be yet though.

    14. Bluebell*

      I made a vegetarian avlegomono soup this week and managed to temper the eggs! Also made 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies, using up the end of the flour. On Sunday I’m going to use up black beans, corn, corn tortillas and cheese, and make some sort of casserole.

    15. Not A Manager*

      We are at a very sad family event this week, staying in a hotel room with a tiny kitchenette. We don’t like to eat out all the time when we travel, and cooking/eating our own food is therapeutic anyway.

      Here’s an easy, fast recipe that uses minimal pots/burners and tastes great. Most of the ingredients were in our fridge and we tossed them into a cooler when we left home.

      Chicken breast cutlets (boneless, skinless breasts cut across the equator)
      Olive oil and/or butter
      Salt and pepper, herbs the Provence (or any kind of dried herb you like)
      Chopped leeks (or shallot, or onion, or garlic)
      White wine (or vermouth, or chicken broth, or a small amount of water)
      Whole grain mustard (or any other mustard you like)
      Capers
      Lemon juice

      Any or all of the items below:
      Chopped shiitake mushroom (or any other mushroom you like)
      Halved grape tomatoes
      Sugar snap peas (or any quick cooking green vegetable, could be asparagus, green beans, zucchini, or lightly steamed broccoli)

      Salt and pepper chicken cutlets and sprinkle with dried herbs on both sides. Saute in olive oil until lightly cooked on either side. They will still be raw in the middle. Remove to a plate and put in a low oven to keep warm/continue cooking.

      Saute leeks in olive oil until starting to soften. Add mushrooms and salt and pepper. Continue cooking until leeks are soft and mushrooms are cooked. Add a splash of wine and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated. (Sometimes your leeks or shallots won’t really cook through unless you use a lot of oil. I add some liquid instead and let them steam a bit.) Add your other veggies in whatever order makes sense for them to cook through. You probably want to add the tomatoes last – they should just warm up, not get soggy.

      Add a little bit of mustard, how much depends on how strong it is. I use the whole grain mustard which is actually quite mild, so I used about a teaspoon. Add some capers. Now add some more capers.

      Saute until all the veggies are done. Correct the seasonings and add a knob of butter. Your chicken should be cooked through by now, so add that and any accumulated drippings.

      Serve over instant cous cous. If you don’t have enough burners or pots, you can heat your water or broth in the microwave and pour it over the cous cous in a large bowl. Cover the bowl to let the cous cous steam.

    16. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I made Meena Sodha’s Butternut Squash seekh kebabs, served in flatbreads with salad, cucumber raita, and sliced red onions. I may have pulsed the roasted squash and chickpeas together a bit too much but they still turned out really well.

      Marinated greens (sauteed spinach and kale with garlic, red pepper flakes, and a splash of lemon juice) from Lukas Volger’s Start Simple cookbook. I had some late worknights this week, so a slice of spelt sourdough bread, toasted, with goat cheese spread and a pile of these on top really worked great for a fast easy dinner.

      Last night I made coconut corn chowder from Feasting at Home blog. We pan fried some shrimp to go in it and that turned out well. Her recipes always turn out fantastic – the Lamb Barbacoa is legendary and, as my lamb-crazy buddy called it “his best new recipe in 2020”.

      Today I need to make kale chips, rice some cauliflower, make up a healthy banana bread, and I think turn a bunch of random veg/cheese/cream/chorizo into a crustless quiche. More than enough food hanging around, so I don’t think I will need to cook now for the two of us for the rest of the week!

  20. Teapot Translator*

    Exercise thread!
    What have you done? What are you going to do this week? Tried anything new?

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I hurt my knee, so I can’t do squats or lunges for the time being. It’s annoying because a lot of exercises are based on squats!
      So, I’m refocusing my training: yoga, weight training without squats or lunges and a short walk outside everyday.
      I’m so annoyed at my body. It feels like it’s not made for exercise. Something always goes wrong.

      1. Hi there*

        I am sorry you have having such a rough time! Thanks for keeping us on track with the exercise and cooking threads.

    2. J.B.*

      I went to water aerobics-this one is basically a high intensity class in the pool. Today I go to yoga.

      1. Coenobita*

        Oh I miss my water aerobics class! I did a deep water class religiously for a couple of years and loved it (even though I was a good 30 years younger than the average age of the other participants…) but it’s been canceled since covid. I’m hoping they will start offering it again during the upcoming summer session.

        1. nep*

          I know a lot of people who counted on their water classes so much for their fitness and well-being…I’ve been thinking that it must be so tough to have that ripped out of their lives. I hope you all will be able to enjoy that again soon.

          1. Coenobita*

            Thank you! I’ve been worried about the other participants – many of whom are older with health issues – and it will be great to see them again. Some of those ladies had been doing water aerobics together for like 15 years!

        2. Professor Plum*

          I miss water aerobics too! Over the summer it was the one thing I kept doing in an outdoor pool with a couple friends from my gym class with our own routines. After the pool closed for the summer, I tried going to the gym pool a few times, and especially as the surge hit, I just didn’t feel safe. Just got shot #1 yesterday and being in the pool again is one of many things I’m looking forward to!

    3. Yellow Warbler*

      I’m trying to get back into weight training my arms after a wrist sprain.

      Anyone know a good YouTuber for proper form? There’s too much to choose from, and I don’t know enough to tell who is doing things correctly.

    4. Texan In Exile*

      After more than 14 months unemployed, I just got a job. It’s WFH for now, which means my extravert husband does not have me to talk to during work hours.

      So we have implemented an after-work “commute.” Every day, at 5:00, when I close my computer, we go for a long walk, at least three or four miles. It gives him time for all his accumulated conversation. He gets my undivided attention. And it is a clear end to my working day – a clear boundary. When we get home, I am “at home” and mentally free to do whatever non-work activity I want.

      So – TLDR – go for a long walk every day.

    5. Mx*

      I started person training online 3 times/week.
      He makes me uses weights. I work out quite hard, which is what I wanted.
      I also jogged a couple of times, now that spring is coming.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Something in my hip went “sproing” 2 weeks ago (like a strained hip flexor, not anything snapped). Couple days on the heating pad, followed by more days of short walks with lots of careful stretching.

      I’ve finally been able to walk my long route without pain for 2 days now. Yay!

  21. Teapot Translator*

    I have a question about bikes. I have a bike (CCM Krossport hybrid bike). Last summer, I had to inflate the tires every couple of days, very annoying. And I wondered if maybe it was my weight? I’m heavier than the number given on the tires.
    So, should I see if the tires can get changed or just buy a new bike and sell the old one? I’m also wondering if I were to go for a higher end model, where they have different sizes, would I be more comfortable? I’m under 5 foot 4 and I saw in more specialized stores, they have bikes of different sizes for the same model.
    I need to decide quickly, too, because they’re already predicting a bike shortage this year (just like last year). A lot of people biking because we can’t do much around here.

    1. It happens*

      Sounds like you need new tubes in your tires. Find a local bike shop and get a tune up, tell them that you have a slow leak in the tubes. They’ll check the brakes and chains and all the parts that can loosen over time. Don’t know where you live, so can’t tell you the expense, but it’s definitely cheaper than a new bike. And you can also ask them to “fit” your bike to you (make adjustments to the seat and handlebars.)
      Have fun on your bike!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! I’m getting the bike checked and repaired next week. I think I’ll wait until next year to buy a new one if this one is really not suited to my height.

    2. TechWorker*

      I do not think tires usually have weight numbers on them that relate to the rider (they’ll have a recommended pressure, possibly a size and possibly other manufacturer stuff, but I’ve never heard of them having a rider weight limit).

      Have you checked the inner tube and tire to see if there’s actually a hole? I admit to also not being very good at this stuff and usually need help from my OH, but there’ll be lots of videos on YouTube. You may have a very tiny puncture which is slowly letting out air.

      I would be surprised if it’s more cost effective to sell the bike – it may just need new inner tubes (like <$10) or it may need new tires if they’re particularly old – if there’s a bike shop in your area I’d recommend taking it in and telling them you think you have a slow puncture & can they tell you what needs doing. If you have a local friend who cycles and can recommend a shop and/or have a look themselves that would help too. I would be extremely surprised if it’s related to your weight but if that is particularly a problem then the bike shop might also be able to advise on what models are better for heavier people. (In general I *think* that involves choosing a sturdy frame though rather than anything in particular to do with the tires).

      Hope that helps a little and good luck :)

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you! I’ve been convinced: the problem is the bike, not me! ;) I’ve called a local bike shop and I’m taking my bike in next week.

    3. Venus*

      That seems weird, did you try new more durable tubes? If both were leaking then it seems to be a design problem with them rather than a small leak in one. Maybe call a local bike shop to get their advice?

      I have gone to a shop to try different types and sizes, as it did make a difference to me. Their cheapest one fit me best, so it wasn’t only about cost. It seems that more expensive models have lighter frames, and the one I got is light enough for me.

      I don’t know enough to be helpful to you, sorry!

      1. Venus*

        To clarify my comment – it seems weird that tubes would have a weight limit, and it also seems weird that both would be leaking equally as if they both have small leaks. I’m hoping you can find an easy solution!

      2. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! You’ve all convinced me that I should get my bike checked. Maybe the problem isn’t me; maybe it’s the bike’s!

    4. Alex*

      It is probably just that you need new inner tubes! You could have a very slow pinhole leak. Or if you’ve replaced them, perhaps you have something sharp inside your tire/wheel that is creating a pinhole leak in new inner tubes.
      And yes, you will be more comfortable on a bike that is the proper size for you! If you do a lot of riding and can afford one, definitely go for it.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! I’ve decided to take the bike in for a check-up and repair. I’ll see about a new bike next year. It’s just too much energy for me to try to beat the hordes of people who’ve decided to bike because there’s nothing else to do.

        1. Natalie*

          When you’re at the bike shop, ask them what they think about the fit. There are some parts of the bike that can be adjusted or possibly replaced to get everything fitting a little better.

        2. Reba*

          While you’re here, why not ask the shop if they could look out for a used bike on your size and price range? If you are planning to bike a lot it is well worth getting a machine that is comfortable, and that doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive! (Speaking as a petite woman with weird shoulders this made a big difference in my life!) I bought a bike 2 years ago, my first time buying a new one and I was very intimidated going into the shop bc I knew that high end serious bikes can cost zillions of dollars. But there are some great choices in the under-500 range out there!

          I hear you about the run on equipment… We just received the inflatable kayaks that we ordered 10 months ago…

    5. university minion*

      If you’re under 5’4″, yes, your bike is probably too big for you, if it’s a one size fits all adult bike. Cycling is miserable on a bike that doesn’t fit. I’m 5’6″ and ride a small frame. Men, as a generalization, have long torsos and short legs relative to women so can fit a relatively larger bike than the same size woman (shorter torso, longer legs). My ex was the same height as I am and his bikes were agony to ride because they were way to big for me, the few times I tried when mine was in the shop.
      Depending on your bike’s wheels, it’s not at all unusual to top up every couple of days. Road bike tires should be inflated to a minimum of 80psi and more often around 100psi. Particularly if you’re a heavier rider, riding at a lower than intended pressure can cause pinch flats, so it’s always good to stay topped up no matter what size rider you are. I check pressure and top up before every ride and seldom have issues with flats.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Hmmm, I’ll have to ask at the bike shop how to measure the pressure. Thanks for the info! I’m going to try and get this bike repaired and see about a new bike next year.

    6. The teapots are on fire*

      Try going to a good bike shop (if you know any triathletes, find out where they go) and see if your current bike can be fitted to you, or if they think it’s just too darn big. If the frame is wrong, just can it and get a smaller one. If not, there’s a lot they can do with tires and inner tubes and if you live in an area with a lot of junk on the streets, there are tire liners to help protect your inner tubes.
      Fixing your tire problem shouldn’t cost much at all. I used to bicycle commute in the winter in the Midwest and I got tired of the chaos and bought studded tires. The bike shop warned me that they were “very expensive”. They were $38. For both.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! You’ve all convinced me to get my bike checked before I buy a new one.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Definitely see about tubes.
      There’s a product known as tire slime. They may recommend that you have them use that also. From what I have seen, my friend’s tires were much better with this product plus the tube.

      They may say that your rim is dented. This could be a problem. You can check out the cost of new ones then you may decide just to get a new bike.

      Definitely make sure the bike is set up for your proportions. I am trying to remember what my husband used to say, “For the pedals, on the down stroke the leg should be fully extended.” If your knees are bent just a little when the pedal is at the lowest point in rotation, it’s forcing you to pedal too hard.

      I am going to reply below this with what seems like a good article about bikes and body weight. Hopefully, it’s helpful for you.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Thank you for the article. This means that the problem is not my weight. I’m under 275 lb. So, I’ll take the bike into the shop. I’ll invest in this bike this year and I’ll see about a new bike next year if they say it’s not adjusted properly to me.

    8. Girasol*

      There are all sort of articles online about how to be sure your bike fits you. Too tall or short makes a bike hard to ride and can put a strain on your knees. You might want to read up on bicycle sizing before you make a decision. Maybe your bike fits you fine and you don’t need to spend a bundle on a new one. As for the tires, you probably have a slow leak. You can take your bike to a bike shop and have them fix it but they can also sell you inexpensive tire removal tools and a patch kit. It’s not a bad idea to learn to patch your own tires (there are youtubes about that) so you’re ready for a roadside emergency. Women can do that, even ones like me with arthritic hands. You mentioned the number on the tires. I’ve never seen a “max rider weight” on a tire but most say something like “90 lbs” or “inflate to 110 lbs” or something like that, meaning the number that the tire pressure gauge should read in pounds per square inch (PSI) when the tires are properly inflated. Is that what you saw?

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Oooooh, that might be it! Like I know nothing about bikes. I barely know how to ride them. :D Thanks for the explanation!
        I called a local bike shop and I’m taking in my bike next week to see what they can do.

  22. TechWorker*

    Recommendations for my next tv binge please!

    I’ve just finished all 15 (!) series of criminal minds. I like having it on in the background whilst cooking/cleaning, and I’m looking for a replacement.

    Criteria:
    – Crime/Mystery/Drama/Thriller all welcome
    – Needs to have at least some characters who are *nice* to each other & nice people (one of the main reasons I think I’ve enjoyed criminal minds so much is all the ‘agents’ are just really nice to each other and have lots of friendly banter. This is clearly what’s missing from my pandemic life :p
    – not too difficult to follow (Eg if i don’t actually look at the screen 100% of the time)
    – formulaic not a problem :)
    – older stuff is fine as long as it’s not weirdly racist or sexist.
    – available in the U.K. on Amazon prime or Netflix (but obv feel free to throw suggestions at me & I can check that!)

    As some examples: I do like house and watched a few seasons of that, but it doesn’t quite meet the ‘nice people who are nice to each other’ criteria. I also love Jonathan Creek & Miss Fishers murder mysteries.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I’ll be watching this thread! I love mystery series where people are nice to each other.
      I can recommend Death in Paradise and Father Brown. Both British, so I guess they would be available over there. I’ve started watching Inspector Morse. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of conflict between the Inspector and Lewis. There’s Midsommer Murders, which is long and can be watched as you’re cooking.
      Shakespeare and Hathaway.
      Miss Marple.

      1. TechWorker*

        Thanks will look those up! I’ve watched some of them before but not really gone for the full binge (/not sure where they’re available, but certainly death in paradise is still on and so should be on bbc easily enough..)

        Not heard of Shakespeare and Hathaway but will look it up :) (the actor who plays Sargeant Hathaway in the series Lewis is an absolute arse so I don’t like watching stuff with him in it, but Shakespeare and Hathaway looks like unrelated, so I’ll check it out!)

        1. curly sue*

          Watch out for Midsomer Murders. The early seasons have a lot of subtle racism. The first showrunner refused to add POC and called the show “the last bastion of Englishness” as a result of the all-white cast. That got slightly better in later seasons once he was replaced, but their track record on LGBTQ is appalling and why I ultimately stopped watching.

          The first episode is extraordinarily transphobic, and there hasn’t been a single queer character in 21 seasons who has ended up happy — every single one is bad, sad, or dead. Even background queer characters have to have something awful happen to them. I used to love that show, but the longer it went on the more I realized that it was never going to love me back.

          1. Shell*

            I ran through the whole run of Midsommer Murders a couple of years ago. I wasn’t paying super-close attention, as I mostly had it on as background noise while I worked on a knitting project. I would agree with Curly Sue that there are problems with race and LGBTQ issues. I would also add that I often noticed how thoroughly awful most of the secondary characters were. I mean, I liked the main detective, his wife, his daughter, and one or two of his sidekicks. But the typical storyline was “Nigel Smith, a horrible human being, has been murdered in the library with a candlestick! Which of his thoroughly unpleasant friends and neighbors was responsible?”

            1. Teapot Translator*

              Hmm, now that I think about it, the first sidekick was annoying.
              But yeah, it’s the kind of show that you put on the background while doing something else.

              1. pancakes*

                Apparently the first sidekick, Troy, is a thoroughly unpleasant character in the books – there’s an article about Midsomer Murders in the Guardian that came out a few days ago, and someone in the comments said that in the books he’s racist, misogynistic, and cheats on his wife. In the show he is notably homophobic, but Barnaby tends to advise him to be more open-minded. More often he’s just a comically bad driver.

                There are a number of problems with the early seasons in particular, but there’s also a campiness to it that I really enjoy.

                1. allathian*

                  Yeah, I have one of the Midsomer Murders books and I never finished it because Troy was so annoying in it.

        2. Teapot Translator*

          I watched the Lewis series before I heard about what an ass the actor who plays Sergeant Hathaway is. Small mercies.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, yikes on bikes. At least they completed the show before all this crap came out. I always thought Hathaway was a rather fascinating character, though.

            Lewis was lovely, though, and as much as I enjoyed the original Inspector Morse with John Thaw, at times I got annoyed with how he treated Lewis.

          1. allathian*

            I third it, it’s a lovely show. I especially like how they really respect the Caribbean culture rather than look on it from a Western POV as something weird etc.

            Oh, and The Ladies’ Number One Detective Agency, set in Zimbabwe. Most of the characters are played by African-Americans and Black British actors rather than Zimbabweans, though. To be fair, it’s a comedy-drama rather than a mystery show, but it’s fairly light fare and quite entertaining.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              The Ladies’ Number One Detective Agency

              The show, and the books, was really good. Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose have great chemistry together – I may rewatch this now.

            2. Femme d'Afrique*

              I really enjoyed the books! The show? Not so much. (It’s set in Botswana, btw, not Zimbabwe). The fact that most of the actors were foreign (with strange, made up accents to boot) made it problematic for me. I like Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose… just not in this show. I really wish they’d remake it.

        1. pancakes*

          We’ve been trying to get into Death in Paradise but the first detective is too flat for me, or something. He’s just so impossibly stiff, walking down the beach with his socks and dress shoes on. I’m going to skip ahead to the start of season 3 and see if I like his successor better. I do like the setting and the supporting cast a lot.

          Miss Scarlett and the Duke is good, but there are only six episodes. It gets a bit dark & dangerous towards the end, but there are several characters who are nice to each other throughout.

      2. Michaele Burris*

        I enjoyed Midsommer Murders very much, for the first few seasons. Then they started throwing in random naked people, and I stopped. Now, I’m very much enjoying Murdock Mysteries on Hulu; 1890’s in Toronto.

        .

        1. Grits McGee*

          Yes! The random naked people! It’s always so jarring, because Midsomer Murders is so PG otherwise. It’s like they get a T&A budget for each go-around, and they pick one episode in the series to randomly spend it all.

        2. Christina*

          Murdoch Mysteries is great! I’ve been “watching” it (though mostly as background noise” for like 3 months. It’s so very Canadian that often even the murderers are polite lol.

          Another suggestion that’s more current is Psych, though I’m not sure where it’s streaming.

    2. Buni*

      Leverage? There are no circumstances under which I will not loudly recommend ‘Leverage’. It’s the absolute epitome of ‘Make Friends, Do (Robin-Hood-esque) Crime’. I have no idea if it’s currently available anywhere however…

        1. LDN Layabout*

          I will say ‘be nice to people’ ymmv on Leverage.

          I spent most of it hoping one of the team would finally brain the main character and they could all pull off heists together without him.

          1. VinyardBairn27*

            Lol!!! Meanwhile, I adore (the character) Nate and think it would have been a much poorer show without him. *shrug* YMMV.

        1. Tortally HareBrained*

          We are almost done with our binge of Burn Notice and it’s been fabulous.

          I’d also recommend the USA Network show White Collar if it’s available as a similar “be nice to each other” but mystery.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Oh, yeah, if you like a mystery show with bantery style friendships, White Collar is an absolute must. The core cast have incredible chemistry with each other, and it’s delightful.

            Also, have you tried Royal Pains? It’s like if MacGyver was a doctor, and the relationships are really great.

          2. Diahann Carroll*

            White Collar is one of my favorite shows of all time (and I watch an inordinate amount of TV). The last season was admittedly hard to get through, but the actors were great and had excellent relationships in show.

        2. MissGirl*

          I miss the days of Burn Notice, Psych, Monk, and White Collar. I don’t feel like anything on TV right now compares.

    3. Starr*

      Oooh, how about Leverage? It’s like a modern day robin hood with a group of criminals becoming a family of sorts.

    4. Coco*

      I like the Agatha Raisin. That series has been my ‘have on in the background while I do other things’ series.

      Hustle is pretty fun but it is less police and more group of nice con artists.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m in the US so I’m not sure if these are available to you but I like Bones, Castle, Death in Paradise, The Mentalist, and Murder She Wrote

        1. Queer Earthling*

          The first couple seasons of Warehouse 13 are my ultimate comfort show. The characters have occasional