weekend open thread – April 3-4, 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: A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out, by Sally Franson. An English major working at an ad agency is tasked with convincing authors to sign on to corporate marketing campaigns, as she struggles to decide where her ethical lines are. It’s both funny and serious.

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

{ 1,097 comments… read them below }

  1. A.N.*

    What’s the deal with crepey hands? I’m only 46 but I already see it starting when I flex my hands in a certain way. Is this supposed to be happening now? Is this something just regular lotion will take care of or do I need a retinoid or something?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      It’s apparently due to less collagen in the skin, and is a sign of peri-menopause, so you can investigate from there, if the above applies.

    2. tangerineRose*

      I asked a doctor I know about hand lotion, and she recommended Aquaphor, Gold Bond, and Aveeno. She also said that a lot of the hand lotions with a strong scent are frequently not very helpful.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Collagen. I put some powdered collagen in my water every day. At age 60, I sincerely don’t expect to out run this one, but at least I can help myself along in small ways. I was told and I tend to believe what we see on our skin is a fraction of what is going on underneath our skin. Not always and not everyone.

    4. Doctor is In*

      Sun exposure over your life makes it worse. Sunscreens help prevent worsening. Also low humidity indoors during winter worsens it; agree with good lotions.

    5. Generic Name*

      I’m 41 and recently noticed the same thing. I got gold bond hand lotion “for mature skin”. I knew it was the right product for me when I had to take off my glasses to read the small print on the back of the bottle.

      1. Yikes!*

        You could try a retinol face product, but the skin on your hands is thin, so I’d be careful not to overdo it. Or try a niacinamide facial product. Those are usually not irritating. There’s always the dermatologist, too, but that I’m sure is pricey and not covered by insurance. And of course, as always, sunblock!

      2. Rainy*

        Vitamin C serum is a “brightener”, but they also now make skin care for hands that addresses concerns like age spots and skin texture. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides. When in doubt, just use your facial regimen on your hands!

        Another thing that helps is getting cotton gloves (I get mine from Eczema Honey but any cotton glove will do), applying a thick hand cream (or even slug your hands with Aquaphor or Vaseline), and then sleeping in the cotton gloves pulled on carefully over the hand cream.

        1. Clumsy Ninja*

          I have been doing this for years! Suggestion from my midwife because I wash my hands semi-compulsively due to work, and I get super dry hands. When I do this on a fairly regular basis, it works phenomenally well.

      3. Yellow Warbler*

        I treat my hands the same way I do my face. Moisturizer, serums, tretinoin, SPF. When I was commuting, I wore driving gloves.

    6. Trixie*

      Right here with you. In addition to these suggestions, I also apply my facial routine to my hands, arms, neck, and decollate. (Plus the usual basis including hydration, diet, movement/exercise, etc.) Unfortunately, the genetics are what they are, lol.

      1. Rainy*

        I have good genes in that direction (my mother’s family is from an area of Sweden where “the women don’t age” although I expect the blonde hair has something to do with it–mum and sis no one will ever know if they’re silvering, but I’m a ginger), but I certainly don’t want to rely on good genes and not help them along. I started a skin care regimen in my early 20s when it wasn’t trendy yet, and now in my 40s my facial product lineup is extensive and terrifying.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I didn’t notice this until I was in my 50s. That layer of fat below the skin starts thinning. I do try to moisturize regularly, wear a sunscreen and when I take a bath I use gentle soaps and a bath oil. I don’t have noticeable wrinkles, but I do notice that thinning of the skin in my face (accompanied by some sagging and the beginning of jowels). Curse you, gravity!

      I hadn’t heard of using a dietary supplement, such as collagen, to help with skin, but I think it is worth a try. Specifically with my hands, I will do the heavy-duty moisturizing by slathering them in petroleum jelly and wearing cotton gloves (or sometimes just cotton socks) while I sleep.

      1. Martha Marcy May Marlene*

        I swear by SPF hand cream. I used to drive for a living and my hands would definitely look worse if I hadn’t used it daily.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      Drink more water. The first place I can tell when I’m getting dehydrated is the backs of my hands.

    9. Quinalla*

      What I saw when looking at house is folks either took cats with them, put cats in carriers in the house or confined them to one small room in the house (likely with litter box) and I assume for serious buyers would have cleared the cats out for a 2nd look so they could see that room too. Since you WFH, I’d just take the cats with your in carriers in your car when buyers are stopping by, in a sellers market they should be able to give you a 10-15 minute heads up text that they are on their way or wait a few minutes while you get cats ready to go and clear out.

      Hopefully it will sell that first weekend if priced well!

  2. Selling homes with cats*

    Any advice for selling a house while cats live inside of it? My realtor and I are putting my small condo on the market next weekend, and I’m anxious about how to keep my cats safe (since they will be staying inside during showings — I have no space/neighbors who could temporarily watch them) and how to avoid turning off potential buyers at the sight of cat necessities I can’t easily declutter (i.e., the litterbox).

    1. Aphrodite*

      I don’t know that there is any way to be sure they are secure inside other than them either going with you (when you have to leave temporarily while it is shown), housing them in a nice cat boarding facility, or asking family, friends, or (possibly) cat-loving co-workers if they’d mind some temporary feline guests (and paying them). I took in my friend’s cats who stayed, happily, in my guest room for a month. She’d come over almost every day for a visit.

      1. Selling homes with cats*

        I wish I had the option to have them stay with a family member, but I’m across the country from my nearest family. I have friends who love cats too, but unfortunately mine have feline herpes which is quite contagious, so they could infect other cats (and that’s presuming they aren’t hissing and growling at the scent of strange cats). I don’t have the budget to board them, especially not every day for who knows how long.

        1. Pennyworth*

          You don’t have to make your house available for viewing every day. Your sale, you set the rules. It may annoy your realtor, but do what you need to do. Like setting ‘view by appointment’ only, or set hours/days and take the cats out in their carriers during viewing. Frankly, I wouldn’t want strangers wandering round my house while the cats were there and I wasn’t. If serious potential buyers emerge, you can be more flexible to seal a deal.

          1. Natalie*

            Yeah, the idea of making a lived-in house available every day is bananas to me, especially if you’re in a sellers market like a lot of country. One of my closest friends is a realtor and for occupied houses she has the family decamp for one weekend at a time. Most of the time it only takes one.

            1. Selling homes with cats*

              That’s what I’m hoping for! If we price correctly, hopefully we will get at least one good offer, if not several, during opening weekend, and we should be under contract before long. But I’m trying to plan for all scenarios, including a prolonged period on the market. I also WFH most of the time, so I’ll be limiting the hours showings are available during workdays so my work isn’t constantly disrupted.

      2. It's Quarantime!*

        My heart is broken.
        Everyone who loves me says it was the right thing.
        I helped my beloved kitty leave me yesterday.
        I am broken.
        How do I breathe?

        1. Sam I Am*

          Oh, I’m so sorry they’re gone, I’m sure you did the right thing. Grieve like you would losing any friend, for me it’s looking at old pictures and reminiscing. Hugs.

        2. Jayne*

          I’m so sorry to hear about your cat. It’s heartbreaking when we have to make those decisions.

    2. NRG*

      The last time I sold a house I usual put the cats in their carriers and drove them around in the car for a bit when there was a showing. One time I put them in a closet and left a note and instructed the realtor about it, which lost me a pair of sandals, but the cats were OK. If this is impractical, then if the showings are short duration, you could confine them in carriers. Not ideal, but safer for them. If you can keep the litter box pristine, that helps, although some people will be put off by a litter box no matter what. Perhaps ask the realtor – ours was terrible, but they aren’t all like ours was.

      1. rkz*

        Yeah, when we sold our house we took the cats with us in their carriers in the car during showings and hid all their stuff. The theory being that something about seeing evidence that pets live in the house will be a turn off for some buyers. We had also thought about putting them in the closet if we couldn’t take them with us.

        And, as someone down thread mentioned, you don’t have to have your house available for showings all day every day. We were both working from home at the time so it wasn’t feasible for us to just leave during the week for showings so we only did weekends.

      2. Golden*

        We took them in the car too, and just tucked the litterbox under the bed after a good scooping.

        Our realtor said that some people will refuse to buy a house where cats lived due to perceived allergies. She had clients that would get a bunch of symptoms upon seeing cat paraphernalia, but not in houses where it was still present but tucked away.

      3. Cat and Dog Fosterer*

        I did something similar. I put the cleaned litterbox in a box so that it couldn’t be seen and hid all the other items, and then put the cat in a carrier and went for a walk. A soft carrier was critical, as I can sling one over each shoulder so can easily walk around with two cats. I opened the windows wide for an hour before the showing. It wasn’t ideal for the cat as they were in a carrier for up to a few hours, but we do it often in rescue (outdoor cats show up for feeding at a specific time, and sometimes transport isn’t possible for many hours, so they are indoors in carriers between feeding and arrival at the foster home).

        I once went to view an apartment where the cats were kept in a closed room with a note, and the pair physically attacked me as soon as I entered. Claws out, leaping at me, in a way that I have never encountered with all the cats that I have fostered and met. I was really surprised, and ended up using a few papers in my hand to create a distraction to get out of the room again as they would not stop. I was tempted to fling the door open to help me, but I was worried for my realtor’s safety as I am very used to cats. My realtor and I left the place immediately, told the sellers, and I was relieved that it wasn’t one of my preferred places.

    3. Kiwiapple*

      The cats will hide themselves? Or I guess you could put them in their carry box but that’s not really going to work for more than 2 cats. House showings are usually pretty quick 10/15 mins max in my experience. And all I had out was the litter tray and food bowl, all toys were hidden

      1. Selling homes with cats*

        One will hide; one will stay out and just stare at people, lol. Neither has violent tendencies toward humans (and one is toothless), so I’m not worried about them attacking people — I just worry that people will be scared of them (as I tend to be, with big dogs I don’t know, even if they’re perfectly friendly), or see a litterbox in my home and walk right out.

        1. Kiwiapple*

          I think you are over thinking this tbh. Your realtor should warn people that there are cats inside and as long as the litterbox is clean before you leave then you’ve done as much as you can do.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          I think fear of cats is much less common than fear of dogs.

          With cats, the things I would worry most about would be what happens if someone tries to pet them (will they bite/claw), and will they escape out of open doors. In both cases, you can’t trust random people to follow instructions, so telling people “don’t pet the cat” and “be careful of doors” is not sufficient.

          The other thing is to clean really well – as someone else mentioned, there may be a faint cat odour that you don’t notice, but which can turn people off even if they don’t realize what it is. Also cat hair, which cat owners are used to, but can trigger allergies or, again, make the place seem less presentable. I’d dust and vacuum thoroughly, including the surfaces of upholstery. For the litterbox, change the litter and vacuum/mop around it right before people come over (same with food areas – clean up scattered kibble and water splashes).

          1. Selling homes with cats*

            Thanks! We’re doing a deep clean this week, and I plan to be vacuuming daily around the cat areas while we’re listed. I’ve been putting baking soda in the litterbox lately, which I think has helped deodorize it. I guess I’m so used to living with cats, though, that I don’t perceive the cat odor that others who aren’t sensitized to it do perceive.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Agreed. I think that worries about odors and damage are the higher priority.

        3. Lirael*

          I’ve got cat allergies, I’m not really a pet person in general, and I’m kind of a stickler for cleanliness, and even for me, just the sight of a litterbox is not going to be so repulsive that I just walk right out again as long as the rest of the home is clean. I would be put off if the cats were just loose in the condo though – I’d be stressed about how they were going to behave and worried about accidentally letting them out. Can you bring them with you in a cat carrier or something? Or put them in a carrier/kennel in the house? I would expect people to be there looking around for an average of 15 minutes to a max of about 30, so unless you’ve got back to back showings, it wouldn’t have to be a long term comfortable solution, just something that you can live with for half an hour. If that’s just not feasible, then make sure that your realtor warns the buyers’ realtors before they come over and try not to stress too much – it’s not going to be a complete dealbreaker for most people.

        4. PT*

          Lots of people who are looking at properties to buy are going to have pets or be looking to get a pet once they own. So for every “ew litterbox” buyer who looks at your house, there will be someone who says “oh good, there’s a good spot to keep the litterbox for our kitties!” and considers that an asset.

    4. Marzipan*

      What sort of litter tray do you have? If you have an open one, would your cats be able to transition to a covered one?

      If it helps at all I recently found a buyer for my flat and the litter trays apparently didn’t put people off despite the fact that (due to my cat being an idiot, episode 723) they live halfway up the stairs and are one of the first things you see when you come in. I’ve also had an offer accepted on a house I’m hoping to buy, and I wasn’t put off by the birds, fish, rabbits, hamster or cats that I saw while I viewed, or by the evidence of a dog also living there.

      I think people who can’t see past the existence of a cat would also be people who couldn’t see past any other aspect of your home that wasn’t exactly to their liking and therefore probably not great buyers anyway. Put them from your mind!

      1. Marzipan*

        (Obviously, if there’s anyone reading this who’s terribly afraid of cats, I don’t mean you’re automatically a bad home buyer. That would be an unfortunate combination of circumstances here, but not one that can he helped.)

      2. Marzipan*

        I would also say, that, even if some people are put off by cats, then that also means that there will be people who are whatever the opposite of put off is – those who are looking for a place where their cats will be comfortable, or where they can get a cat if they don’t already have one. So it’s swings and roundabouts, really.

        I found one virtual 360 tour of one place recently where the owner’s cats had evidently followed the photographer around so overall there appeared to be about thirty cats in the house!

        1. Blackcat*

          Right. When I was house hunting and looking at small spaces, I was always thinking about where the litterbox could go. With two places that had them, that task was easier!

        2. I lurk, but commenting for this*

          That sounds hilarious! Do you have the link? I would love to see it.

      3. Selling homes with cats*

        Thank you! We’ve got a covered box right now, and I’m hoping to transition them to covered top-entry box (one that looks like a storage tote) before the sale (since one of them has a habit of spraying the sides of the box near its hinges which inevitably soaks the protective mat and gets pee on the floor :( ).

        Thanks for the words of encouragement. I interviewed a bunch of realtors before picking one that I was comfortable with, but all of them keep talking about how cats are one of the biggest impediments to a home ale (their odor, people’s fear of cats, etc.) so I’ve been pretty stressed. They’re my family, so I want to make the process as minimally stressful for them as possible, while also turning off as few good buyers as possible.

        1. Esmeralda*

          Not what you asked, but I keep the litter box (covered) inside a large low plastic tub — lower than the entry to the litter box. That way when Mr. Cat does his poorly directed pee, it drips into the tub, not on the floor. Much much easier to clean, and I don’t worry about the scent clinging to the floor and encouraging Mr. Cat to ignore the box.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I would put the cats and all cat accouterments into one room with a closed door. Either the realtor can give a heads-up before the door is opened, not to let the cats out, or you can put a sign on the door that invites people to enter but asks them to respect the cats.

      Also, be aware that even if you keep the place very clean, there is likely to be a cat smell to the new visitor. You can try various deodorizing options, from baking soda to boiling vinegar or cinnamon, to using unscented febreze. That product was originally invented as an actual odor neutralizer. The scents were added later to please the consumer. I believe that you can purchase the unscented versions at Home Depot and other home improvement stores.

      1. Marzipan*

        If the OP’s cats are anything like my cat, shutting then in one room would result in a sort of furry cannonball exiting as soon as the prospective purchasers opened the door! Also, I don’t know what the rules are where OP is, but there are specific covid precautions in place in many places for house viewings, including having all the internal doors open so nobody has to touch handles Eric while they’re there.

        Excellent point about the Febreze. It’s really good. Having all the windows open a crack (again, a covid precaution anyway) so there’s some ventilation is also helpful to making it smell as fresh as possible.

        1. A Real Realtor Here!*

          Umm, what state requires every door to be open? That is just crazy. And not based on science!

          1. Marzipan*

            England. (Dunno about Scotland, Wales, etc.)

            Probably not actually written into law (although they keep changing them so really who knows?) but in order for Estate Agents to be operating during lockdown they’ve been expected to adopt quite a lot of additional measures to be ‘covid secure’. Including not allowing you to view properties until you’re proceedable, so essentially you can’t start your own property search until you’ve sold, which is an absolute pain in the behind and means chains are taking forever to come together.

      2. Selling homes with cats*

        I wish I had the option of closing them in one room, but given the size/layout of my condo, that’s not a possibility. One of my cats also knows how to open closed doors (and my place only has locks on bathrooms, and I can’t really shut off a bathroom).

        I remember reading the story about Febreze being developed as an odor neutralizer, but not catching on to the mainstream market until a scent was added and people got into the habit to spraying it after cleaning as sort of a reward :). I’ll look into the unscented version!

        1. Alice*

          Have you tried putting them in an extra large dog kennel with a small litterbox and a small water bowl? It looks like 40in ones are available for $90 at Walmart.

    6. Marion Ravenwood*

      In my second-to-last flatshare, my live-in landlady had two Ragdoll cats. When she was selling the flat in early 2020 (pre-COVID), she would set viewing days with the estate agent when we’d all be out of the house, and she and her fiancé would take the cats and cat stuff with them – I think usually they went to a friend’s or just drove around for a few hours. We also did a pre-viewing clean to get rid of any lingering cat hair/reduce the smell etc.

    7. Asenath*

      I viewed a place with cats once. I adore cats, but I guess the owner knew everyone didn’t. The cat litter box, tucked discreetly away in a corner, was spotless, but the cat(s) themselves had been temporarily removed. I saw someone who must have been the owner leaving with a cat carrier in hand as I approached. I don’t know if some potential buyers would have been put off by the cat litter box. I wasn’t, but I was looking for something on one level, and this apartment was not only on two levels, but had a spiral staircase joining them. The cat may have enjoyed the staircase, but I was sure I’d end up falling down it if I were half asleep or in a hurry.

    8. Rebecca Stewart*

      We bought a large outdoor dog kennel in black wire with a top, and set this up in our two-car garage. It was large enough that I was able to put the small cat tree, a litter box, and both cat carriers. We also had a lot of the random stuff that people tell you to pack up early in boxes in the garage, and so while people could tell it was a garage, and in decent repair, it was also about half full of stuff. I put the cats in the night before the showings, and that way we could do everything without all the “help” and “supervision” they offer.

    9. Wandering*

      I’d be more concerned that my cats would escape. If you keep the cats at home during showings, can you add a baby gate or something to keep them better contained while “invaders” wander around their home?

      1. TechWorker*

        Cats are not remotely contained by a baby gate (maybe unless particularly elderly) they’re climbers ;)

    10. Coco*

      The realtor could put in the listing information that cats are around during showings. As long as people know, they won’t be surprised. Anyone who is allergic to cats will have a heads up.

    11. violet04*

      We sold our house when we had three cats. At first we took all three with us during showings. Then we started leaving one behind because she was a scaredy cat and would hide under the bed anyway if there were strangers around.

      Depending on the cat, they might do okay in a closed room with their stuff. I would put a note on the door indicating there is an animal inside.

      Are you able to put your litter box in a plastic box with a lid? We were using storage boxes as litter boxes anyway so we put the kids on them before leaving.

      Definitely have your realtor put a note in the listing that there are cats there.

      On a general note, I give my cats gabapentin for stressful situations like traveling in the car. That might help them later in the process and during moving day.

      1. Selling homes with cats*

        My cats will be remaining in the condo during showings, and I don’t want to deprive them access to their water bowl or their litterbox (though I’m OK withholding food for a few hours). I am buying a top-entry covered litterbox that looks like a storage bin, though, so hopefully that should help.

        I don’t have a closed room I can put them in, or a garage, but I wish I did.

        1. violet04*

          The litter box sounds like a good plan! I think you should be fine as long as people know to expect animals in the house. I think in general people are understanding that a there are people/animals in a house they are seeing. It’s not the same thing as a model home. Paws crossed that everything goes smoothly!

        2. Cat and Dog Fosterer*

          Another option: We quarantine cats in large dog crates (3ft x 4ft) that are big enough for a litter box, food and water dish, and carrier as a safe place for them to hide. You can get cat hammocks to make the space feel even bigger. That would keep them contained in an open space while having access to their things.

    12. Generic Name*

      My last set of cats were indoor/outdoor cats, so I put a sign up with one of them pictured that said they’re indoor/outdoor so it’s fine if they go outside. The other cat I had a note that said “I’m old and crabby, so don’t pet me”. I didn’t get any complaints.

      When we toured my current house, they had a very friendly cat, and my son enjoyed playing with her. I have a different set of cats now, indoor only, so I’m not sure how we’ll handle it when it’s time to sell. I would mainly worry about someone leaving a door open and one of them escaping.

    13. Spessartine*

      We had five cats when we sold our previous house and unfortunately, what ended up being the simplest (maybe not the easiest) was to buy our new house first, move in, and then list the old house. We were mostly afraid that they would be let outside, as they’re all strictly indoor cats, but there was also no practical way to hide the litterboxes, of which we also had five. It also relieved a huge cleaning burden, since it’s basically impossible to keep the house perfectly spotless–or make it so on a moment’s notice–when six pets live there (we also have a dog!).

      If you have fewer cats than we do, could you pick a weekend for showings and book a pet-friendly hotel for a couple days? If your housing market is as blazing hot as most of the US seems to be, I doubt it would take more than one or two weekends of showings to sell. I think we accepted an offer on the second day it was listed, and that was last summer when things were just hot, not insane.

      1. Selling homes with cats*

        That’s great that you had that option! I’m moving cross-country over the summer, and my current condo needs to sell before I move, but I wish I had that option.

        My realtor suggested a hotel, but after already coming out with hundreds in pre-listing expenses out-of-pocket, that’s just not in my budget. Also, it’s my house, and my cats’ house, and I think we’d all be more comfortable sleeping in our own beds throughout the process.

    14. A Real Realtor Here!*

      In your case I would do an open house, good chance your buyer will be part of that, assuming the realtor does his job, the property shows well and is priced correctly.

      1. Selling homes with cats*

        We’re not doing open houses — just scheduled showings with licensed realtors only.

      2. Generic Name*

        I asked my realtor about his philosophy regarding open houses, and he said they are marketing strategies for realtors. I laughed and said I agreed. Our house sold within 6 days of listing, by the way.

        1. Cat and Dog Fosterer*

          The benefit of open houses likely depends on location. In my case my realtor suggested that they host a social for other realtors. Any realtor in the area could drop by, similar to an open house, but it would be a limited audience. The concept was that realtors with buyers would be more likely to take clients to my place once they had seen it in person. Thankfully it sold quickly and wasn’t needed.

          My realtor discouraged open houses, for the same reason, and I agree.

    15. AnotherRedHeadedOne*

      There are plastic disposable litter boxes available on Amazon. Use them as liners…use plastic trash bags and enclose each liner and add litter. Can stack a couple. Throw the litter away every day. If ok with cats add some crystal style litter to mix. Best for odors. Slide clean box into closet and take cats with you during showings. I have sold both a condo and a house very quickly with multiple cats and dogs. Use lots of puppy pads or incontinence pads around litter boxes and in carriers to easily clean. None of this is great for environment but very short term. Also pheromone collars can be helpful during stressful times for cats. Good luck!

    16. Julianna*

      When I was doing house viewings, a few people just left their cats there and put notes asking people to keep outside doors shut.

      It didn’t seem to be an issue.

  3. Nanee*

    I’m getting the second dose of the vaccine tomorrow! Does anyone have any tips for warding off side effects if I get them? I don’t mind just powering through if I must but I wouldn’t mind making it all as pleasant as possible if that can be done. (Hope everyone else gets their appointments soon!)

    1. Disco Janet*

      Move around your arm a lot and massage the injection site as much as you can right after getting it. Ice it as soon as the injection site begins to feel sore. Take Tylenol before bed that night (NOT the night before, but after).

      This is what my RN cousin told me to do for my second dose after I had a rough time with the first, and it went way smoother for me the second time around.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        I just had the 2nd dose yesterday.
        I did this and am fine so far fingers crossed!

      2. Nanee*

        Is it ok to take Tylenol? I’ve read that you should hold off on painkillers if you can because there’s some thought that it could weaken your body’s immune response.

        1. Pennyworth*

          They might advise you when you get the vaccine. CDC covers this (search CDC Covid vaccine side effects) which includes:
          “Talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines, for any pain and discomfort you may experience after getting vaccinated. You can take these medications to relieve post-vaccination side effects if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally.”
          Outside the US, your own government health authority should also have guidelines.

        2. Venus*

          There is a strong recommendation not to take anything before the shot, but after seems to be less of an issue.

        3. ThatGirl*

          The nurse who injected me told me Tylenol or aspirin were fine. You want to avoid painkillers beforehand but after should be ok.

        4. Seeking Second Childhood*

          The advice to skip anti-inflammatory meds comes from flu shots — I hope there are followup studies to see if it holds true with the various covid-19 vaccines.

        5. Nanee*

          Also, how long are you supposed to skip anti-inflammatories? Just that day? Or the next day too? Or longer?

        6. RagingADHD*

          For my 1st dose, they told me to wait 6 hours, then tylenol or ibuprofen were fine.

          Which was fine, because it took about 5 hours for my arm to get sore anyway.

    2. Buni*

      I spent two days feeling…heat-stroke-y? Like when you’ve been sitting out in the sun with a drink or two for too long? I just kept hydrating and took paracetamol, as everyone seems to be suggesting.

      1. Ins mom*

        A friend recommended Gatorade zero before and after. Two bottles I only managed one/ not a fan/ but had no trouble. Probably related to hydration

    3. WeAreTheJunimos*

      Hi hi! i’m a ER registered nurse that volunteers in the vaccination clinic! What we are advising is to take tylenol only when needed. So basically wait until you have symptoms before taking it. We are also advising to avoid ibuprofen type products because they are anti-inflammatories which could possibly reduce the immune response generated by the vaccine. Hydrating and taking it easy after the second dose is also encouraged. Ask the nurses giving the vaccine to you for what they recommend as well!
      I will insert the obligatory “this is what we are advising, always ask your own medical providers” disclaimer here lol.

      1. Chilipepper*

        Thanks for the info about ibuprofen. I was also told tylenol only when I got my vaccine, no ibuprofen, but did not ask why.

      2. Nanee*

        But if it’s “take it only when needed,” does that indicate it would be better not to take it at all and there’s some risk to taking it? That’s what has confused me about the advice I have read.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          My understanding is the emphasis is there because people were inclined to take it “just in case” and to discourage that. If you’re experiencing a symptom it would help (eg fever), take it. But don’t take it (before or after) the shot to try to prevent symptoms.

          1. RagingADHD*

            And that’s just good advice in generall, since long-term overuse of NSAIDs has its own set of issues (liver, stomach, etc).

            Don’t take meds unless you need them.

      3. Elle Woods*

        Thanks for this advice. I’m scheduled to get my second shot in a couple of weeks and will definitely put the advice to good use. I can’t believe how excited I am to get another shot!

    4. sequined histories*

      The nurse at my vaccination site advised ice, hydration, Tylenol afterwards IF necessary. I did rest a lot, but, honestly I was LESS sore after the 2nd dose than after the 1st. I certainly didn’t bother with ice. It was not that big a deal. So despite all the anecdotes you hear to me contrary, the 2nd is not always harder on you than the first.

      1. pancakes*

        My arm was much more sore (and for longer) after my first Pfizer shot than it was after the second, but the second left me feeling fatigued.

        1. ampersand*

          Yep, for me the first hurt much worse plus I felt flu-like symptoms. Second was only minor pain, but I was noticeably nauseated for about four days after whenever I ate. I wasn’t expecting that!

    5. Rebecca Stewart*

      Based on my own experience and some friends who also have the same condition, if you have fibromyalgia or another chronic pain disorder, prepare to have an exacerbation after the vaccine. I attribute it to the tendency of my fibro to pile on when anything happens to my body. Stumble and bang my hip? Fibro flare. Minor kitchen burn? Fibro flare. So unsurprisingly, vaccine, fibro flare. But it does help to know it’s coming and have things in order so you don’t have to do much getting off the couch while you feel rotten. The only symptoms I had that weren’t the usual fibro stuff were a sore arm where I had the jab, and slightly swollen glands in my neck. And I was back to normal by the third day.

      1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

        This is interesting— my experience is of course, only anecdotal, but this seems to be a more common experience generally. My friend has some immune system issues, and her body went pretty immune-crazy. Her muscles were SO sore that she could hardly move. And I get migraines and had a pretty definite migraine-hangover headache for a few days.

        This isn’t to say that it wasn’t worth it and that everyone won’t have wildly different experiences!

        1. Rainy*

          I’ve been hearing from a bunch of women in my online circles that it can cause a sudden extremely violent period, even in post-menopausal women, and the speculation is that it’s causing some kind of estrogen spike–which would impact people who have estrogen sensitive migraines.

          I’m getting my first shot in a couple of hours–in fact, we need to get on the road soon, it’s 100 miles away–and I also have a history of vaccine reactions, so I’m pretty anxious about it. It’ll be worth it when it’s done, but in the meantime I just hope nothing bad happens to me.

          I can’t decide if I want to go out for brunch first or later evening fancy drinks first when I’m 100%. I miss both a LOT.

            1. Rainy*

              It was great, no reaction, although my arm hurts like a mofo. Mr Rainy taped an ice pack to my jab site, which is helping, and I am trying to stay hydrated.

              I felt absolutely nothing, by the way. Mr Rainy said the same was true for him–these people really know what they’re doing.

        2. RagingADHD*

          I’m curious to see what my 2nd dose will be like. I had minor arm soreness and moderate fatigue after the first, no big deal.

          Normally, I feel much better than usual when my immune system ramps up to fight off a cold or virus – less aches and pains, lots of energy, etc. I assume this is because my immune system has something constructive to do and stops attacking me.

          Of course, the second day when the virus takes hold, I feel terrible.

          So it will be interesting. I’m kind of hoping I get the brief boost, and then maybe when that wears off, there won’t be much downside because I’m not actually sick.

          Just a couple weeks to wait.

    6. Giggy B*

      I felt really bad after mine, but then I heard the advice to stay VERY hydrated before and after getting it. I told my twin sister this before she got hers, and then she tried it and was mostly just tired after hers. I think it depends on which one you get too. I had Moderna. I would recommend not planning to do a lot the next day as everyone I know was very tired regardless of what other side effects they had.

    7. old biddy*

      Lots of water before and after. I got a headache and was really thirsty afterwards. Other than feeling really tired that night I had fewer side effects from the second one than the first. My husband was really tired for two days when he had his.
      If you had skin reactions after the first one, consider taking Zyrtec for a few days.
      TL/DR I had a delayed allergic reaction to my first shot (Pfizer) – hives, swelling and rash on my face and neck about five days after. My Dr sent me to the allergist, where they did some skin tests to see if I was allergic to any of the ingredients (I wasn’t). At the FEMA site where I got the vaccine, they called over the allergy nurse to consult with me before giving me the second shot. She suggested taking Zyrtec, so I did. I didn’t get any weird hives/rash this time around.

    8. Jackie*

      I’m wondering if my arm was sore because that needle is long and I have don’t have much muscle. Could it have hit the bone ? Now I will try exercising my arm and massaging it as suggested for my second shot.

    9. allathian*

      Congrats on getting the vaccine! Unless there’s a significant increase in available vaccines, or they start counting BMI >30 as a risk factor, I’m unlikely to get my first dose before June or July, and the second 12 weeks after that.

      I usually have some reactions to a flu shot to the point that I always try to schedule them for a Friday, and I’m definitely going to plan on taking sick leave if necessary when I get the Covid shots…

    10. All Hail Queen Sally*

      When I got my first shot, all I had was a sore arm for two days. For the second shot (a week ago), I got a huge red welt at the injection site, a really really sore arm, and (the next day) tired achy run-down feeling like I had the flu. I took some Ibuprofen (the only pain killer I had) and took a nap and woke up feeling fine. The next day my welt was gone and my arm felt much better.

      1. allathian*

        Before I get mine I’ll have to make sure we have some paracetamol at home. I normally use ibuprofen because I find it helps more than paracetamol. I normally only use it about once or twice a month for headaches or period pains, so I’m not a heavy user by any means.

    11. Rara Avis*

      My husband got dose #2 of Moderna Thursday. He got through his work day (from home) but slept the rest of the day. Body aches, chills, headache. He started feeling better Friday evening. Took a 2-hour walk this morning, started feeling a little worn down, napped, and is now hard at work in the garden. Rest and hydration worked for him.

  4. Retail Not Retail*

    I wrote in for insomnia tips last week, worried it was new medication related. Well, I’m sleeping more hours than last week but not what I should be. My doctor remains super inaccessible so I was unable to speak to her.

    I’m not practicing the best sleep hygiene (see posting this at 11:30 on a work night) but I am finding myself exhausted before falling asleep for a luxurious, desperately needed two hours.

    So the addendum to last week is what to do about panic attacks which are accompanying this nonsense. I ended up telling my supervisor (not our brand new manager!) some of it because Tuesday I couldn’t do anything for about 30 minutes because I was shaky and nauseous and overwhelmed. I took a long break and got ready for after lunch.

    Anyway – more insomnia tips? Yes I exercise, no i’m bad at sleep hygiene, yes my room is a cave. Panic tips when you’re already trying to beat it back? Like I mowed a huge lawn while these were happening by Thursday because I was like go away but it won’t!

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      Oh oops, yes I moved the med to the morning vs night time dose and I think that has made a difference sleepwise.

    2. D3*

      For me, bad sleep is a trigger for anxiety issues.
      I have used Tylenol PM for 3-5 nights in a row to get my body used to a sleep schedule. I think I’ve done this 3 or 4 times in the last 20 years, and every time it has worked and it has helped.
      I also take a small amount of magnesium before bed and it helps. I use the Nature Calm powder and have about a 1/4 tsp in a glass of water about 15ish minutes before bed. I have that, then go upstairs locking all the doors & windows on the way, change, brush my teeth etc. It’s the first step in my bedtime routine.
      I hope you get it resolved soon.

        1. Clisby*

          I use the generic version of benadryl. Tylenol pm is good, but the “pm” part is just benadryl, so unless you also have a headache, there’s no real reason to take the acetaminophen. Also, Zzquil? It’s just benadryl under a new trade name. Get the generic.

          1. Clisby*

            Also, white noise can help. We recently got a room air purifier to help with my husband’s allergies – a nice side effect is I sleep better with its humming.

            1. Ariaflame*

              There’s some nice ambience videos on youtube which can be very restful. Or apps.

          2. NRG*

            Hmm, actually get a weird rebound effect and jittery feelings from Benadryl. Do you take a reduced dose?

    3. Selling homes with cats*

      Do you have any go-to meditation apps that you enjoy? I know both Calm and Headspace have features to help you fall asleep, or quiet your mind if you can’t fall (back) asleep.

      Another trick I’ve tried is pulling out a really boring book (usually a very dry textbook) and reading that until I feel sleepy.

      Alternately if I’m getting really frustrated with myself at my inability to fall asleep, I’ve tried to distract myself by watching funny sketch comedy videos on my phone or tablet in bed — obviously staring at screens before bed isn’t great, but often that takes my mind off of my negative thought spiral enough to be able to try again.

      Finally, another behavior that I try when nagging thoughts are keeping me up — I get out of bed and just start journaling (either on paper or on my computer) about those thoughts. Often writing them down and reflecting/giving perspective to them in that way helps get those thoughts off of the forefront of my mind, and helps me relax enough to fall asleep.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I listen to BBC Sounds, especially the comedies, because I have a contrary mind and if I am listening to something I want to hear to the end I invariably doze off. I have also listened to Yoga Nidra body relaxation recordings, there are a couple I still don’t know the end of. I like YN because if you follow the guidance you end up deeply relaxed which is a nice state even if you don’t get to sleep.

    4. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      Something that works for me is listening to “complicated” (I don’t know what else to call it) music. My mind races from one thing to another when I’m trying to fall asleep. Listening to music with many layers and textures gives me something to focus on. I listen for and try to follow a barely audible background melody or whatnot and eventually (usually) I sink into the well of slumber. A couple of albums that work for me are “Celtic Guitar” by Michal Hromek (more on the peaceful, relaxing end of the spectrum) and “Focus” by a band called Cynic ( more on the not relaxing side of things) These work for me, and may not be your cup of tea, so go with what your tastes may be. Good luck, and may Hypnos visit you regularly when you call upon it.

    5. NinaBee*

      I second the mediation.. for me insomnia is usually brought on by stress/anxiety so setting up a small, doable meditation practice sometimes helps to bring back the pinging mind to centre. Also lavender oil (there’s two kinds though, get the one that’s calming rather than invigorating) – drop on/near the pillow can help. Also random things like feet being cold can prevent me sleeping so check stuff like that maybe? No coffee/tea after a certain time of day (if you drink it). Also if it’s your thing.. ayurvedic principles, especially using food to balance different types of energy, might be interesting to read up on.

    6. aarti*

      The absolute best thing for me was putting my phone outside my room when I’m sleeping. I have one of those smart watches that works as an alarm, but a cheap alarm clock would also work. I insisted on it for my husband too when we first moved in together and even though he was resistant to it at first, he’s a true believer now.

      I’m also not 100% on sleep hygiene but that it the phone out of the room is the one thing I won’t compromise on.

    7. Lindsay*

      Melatonin, benadryl, doing deep breathing exercises, getting up and waiting until I am sleepy/calmer and then going back to bed, ASMR videos, the Spotify ocean noises channel lol

    8. Betty*

      I just did a four-week CBT for Insomnia program and it was phenomenally helpful. It honk you should be able to find a CBT-I workbook online and work through it yourself. I learned that sleep hygiene gets a lot of coverage, but there are several more important steps to address first.

      1. I lie awake*

        Yep, CBTI is really THE effective treatment for chronic insomnia. There are also online apps including a free one from the US Veterans Health Administration (so- ad free, high quality and FREE)

      2. Purt’s Peas*

        Yes, same. Especially if sleeping is getting connected to anxiety and panic—it’s really crucial.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Get a drink with electrolytes in it. Lack of minerals will cause a person to stay awake most of the night.
      You can make your own which is much cheaper.
      Take a quart mason jar filled with water. Put in 1/4 tsp each of sea salt, baking soda and sugar. Don’t skip the sugar.

      Watch your protein intake- make sure you have protein at each meal. Unfairly we have to have energy to sleep. A person who is running very low on energy probably isn’t going to sleep well. You can also look into a quality protein powder- but they can get spendy. Personally, I found them to be worth it.

      Panics. This one is so hard it sounds cruel to say it but I know first hand it works. Look up and look around. When I panicked, I stared at the ground. So the doc told me to look up. Okay, thinking about this I realized I had to get some place safe- such as a nearby chair. But lacking a chair, a wall would do. I got to that spot and I forced myself to look up and look around. And the attack died back then went a way. That first time was BRUTAL and involved crying. But once I saw that my body did not implode, I was a little more willing to try it the next time. The second time, the attack was over much quicker. With subsequent attempts, I was out of the problem with in minutes. In the last 15 years, I have had the start of an attack twice. I used to have a problem several times a day.
      At the same time, I decided that my new religion was hydration. I gave up fake sugars- that was a huge help. I think the last 15 years have been better because I finally cut out gluten. YMMV, of course. My overall point is it seems that when this crap starts there’s more than one factor driving it. My attacks tapered off, they were not gone in one day or even one year. And it was a sorting process. Giving up phoney sugars cut my problem in half. This inspired me to keep going, keep searching for other tools.

    10. Sunshine*

      My panic/intrusive thought tip is soothing podcast. You can google a list. I like sleep with me. And also a low anxiety topic on fresh air or to the best of our knowledge.

    11. pancakes*

      Delta 8 gummies? I’m someone who never naps during the day and those had me napping. There are a lot of brands; I’ve only tried the Happy Place Hemp ones.

      I see someone else mentioned Spotify ocean sounds. We often put that on for bedtime and maybe it helps to have a little routine? The Jazz for Sleep playlist is also a favorite.

    12. Flower necklace*

      Audiobooks are the only thing that consistently work when I have trouble sleeping. Preferably something with a storyline that’s engaging enough to keep my mind off of stressful thoughts, but not so boring that I tune it out.

      It’s not as much of an issue for me now, but last year I listened to audiobooks pretty regularly to fall asleep.

    13. Wishing You Well*

      Call or email your doctor’s office for your specific issues. Insist on getting help from them.
      You need stronger measures than home remedies.
      REALLY hope you get relief soon.

      1. Quandong*

        I completely agree!

        If it’s not possible to access your regular doctor Retail Not Retail, please consider finding a new medical care provider who is a better fit.

        I also strongly recommend getting mental health support right away, because you deserve professional help for panic attacks (and anxiety if it is a factor in your insomnia).

        Have you any access to free mental health care through a workplace Employee Assistance Program? If not, please consider contacting a helpline for guidance (there are so many now that also include text support if voice calls are not right for you).

        Sending best wishes & I hope you get the support you need very soon.

        1. Retail Not Retail*

          The new med is an antipsychotic so this is through a shrink’s office and they’ve always been hard to get ahold of. (I called the nurse’s line on Tuesday not the call center so by the way there’s a 24 hour response time turnaround and I didn’t talk to a soul until friday. Ugh)

          Our EAP offers unlimited therapy – I stopped going last spring because the covid closures ironically eased my work stress and when we reopened things were a bit smoother mentally than they are now. (Bipolar 2 with bad depressive episodes not under control.)

      2. Usually Lurking*

        I agree. When I had insomnia like this what ended up helping was getting medication for my anxiety and starting to see a therapist. The anxiety was the cause of the insomnia and there was no curing the insomnia without treating the anxiety.

        Now I have sleeping issues because I work 6:30 pm – 6:30 am, but that’s a whole nother can of worms :P

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The thing that seems to help me the most is to get cold. Seems to me like it switches my jerk brain over to worrying about the immediate problem of temperature, and relaxes when that one problem us solved. “Eek I’m cold, I’m going to freeze to death…. oh wow this bed I’m getting back into is warm. I should sleep while it’s warm…”

    15. Qwerty*

      – Magnesium in the evening helps both with sleep and with anxiety. I use a epsom-salt based lotion (epsom salt is magnesium sulfate) before bed. It helps both from a nutrient perspective and also having a bed-time relax routine sorta trained my brain that when it smells my lotion it is time to sleep. I prefer Dr Teals because they use essential oil instead perfume, but there are a lot of various epsom salt or magnesium products out there, or you can make your own.

      – Pay attention to when you are eating meals. Eating raises your body temperature, which keeps you awake. So for me, if I have dinner after a certain time, then I know I won’t be able to fall asleep until after midnight.

      – In a similar body-temp vein, try taking your shower at night and ending it with a cool rinse to lower your body temperature.

      – In rare cases, I will knock myself out with Nyquil. I take a full dose the first night, then a half dose the second night to avoid becoming dependent on it for sleep and avoid it for the rest of the week.

      – Avoid looking at your phone screen or computer screen at night. Make sure to use the “night time filter” and/or blue light glasses if you do. The light from the screen wakes you up, so browsing on your phone to make yourself tired will backfire.

      – On a general note, how is your diet? Are you getting all the nutrients you need? Do you take a vitamin?

      – Can you pretend to be asleep? I’ve realized when I’m struggling with sleep, I get along better the next day if I sorta fake it. Like close my eyes, force myself to relax, sorta invent a low level “dream” that doesn’t take up much mental energy. I call it staying in bed out of stubbornness, but it reduces the exhaustion level because at least my mind got a break even if my body didn’t receive restorative sleep. Avoid looking at the clock or phone or anything during this time. Often I’ll drift off for short 10-30min naps while doing this, which is better than nothing.

    16. Tea and Sympathy*

      I read this somewhere, and have found it works well. Focus on looking at one thing. Concentrate entirely on that one thing. Then when you’re completely focused only on that, add in one sound. Put your complete focus on the one thing you’re looking at and the one thing you’re listening to. I think that you next add one thing to smell, and then touch, but I’m not sure anymore, because the sight and smell is enough for me.

      For sleep, I have found a couple of extremely boring YouTube explanation or interview videos and I listen to them and fall asleep.

    17. StripesAndPolkaDots*

      Prescription sleeping pills are the only thing that’s ever helped me. I wish I’d got on them sooner—I wasted so many years being exhausted, anxious, and out if it because of insomnia.

    18. NRG*

      I find sort of large scale doodling helps. I’ve filled up a whole page with little pen spirals, for example. Somehow after about 20 spirals (or whatever shape) my brain relaxes a little. I also have bad sleep hygiene, and no luck fixing it over decades.

  5. Mars*

    Any suggestions on how to find locally grown produce/meat? Websites, apps, etc? I want to try to eat more locally grown food but I don’t have a car to get to more suburban/rural places. I live in MA with access to the subway.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Walden Local Meat is a meat CSA in New England that delivers to your door. I’ve been a member for years.

    2. Asenath*

      I usually get it at a local farmer’s market, which I can reach by public transportation. At one time, I heard from a friend about local farmer who delivered meat within my town, so there might be a farmer like that near you. Someone I know who lives in another, much larger, city, has an arrangement with a farmer – you order online, and periodically the farmer sets up pickup points within the city where you get your meat (and eggs, I think the same or a similar service provides eggs too).

    3. I*

      Wilson Farm in Lexington is available via the 62/76 bus from Alewife and is the closest farm to Boston. They have a huge selection of fresh produce! It’s a bit out of the way, though, so definitely more of a special occasion trip.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Try the Boston Public Market. It’s run by the Trustees of Reservations and hosts tons of different farms, bakers, fishermen, etc. And it’s in downtown Boston!
        A lot of CSAs deliver to Boston too

    4. Natalie*

      IME you don’t need to travel to the countryside to find locally raised food. Are there co-op, “natural foods”, or other types of non-chain groceries in your area?

    5. Alex*

      Have you considered a CSA? A lot of times, the farmer comes into the city for delivery day, or some you can even have delivered to your door. I live in the Boston area too and there are tons of options for both meat and vegetables.

      If you want just a few items, the Boston public market has tons of local stuff, although it is pricey (and I’m not sure what the current status of being open is given the pandemic). Farmers markets will start up in June and are all over the city, and many have meat and dairy in addition to produce.

    6. Generic Name*

      We buy our beef from a local-ish rancher. We’re in a big city, but there’s rangeland within a few hours. I honestly don’t remember how I found their website. But I put in an order by summer for a September delivery of a half, quarter, or whole cow. It’s comparable in price to what you see at the store, and much higher quality. I think the meat we get is grass finished.

    7. lapgiraffe*

      MF Dulock in Somerville, all local, while animal butchery, really solid people who own it and treat their employees well. Walden Meat does a good job but I’m pretty loyal to Mike and his guys at Dulock and also feel like there is the highest standards of animal welfare in mind from his farmer partnerships.

      So many CSA’s deliver locally for very reasonable fees, and many partner with other local food makers like cheese, eggs, honey, fish. There used to be a MA directory of farms who do markets and CSAs. Stillman Farms and Siena Farms at the public market do a pretty good job if a tad expensive because of their location. I have found that the best produce goes to the CSA customers first, so if you can swing it I’d go that route. I liked Farmer Dave the best of the ones I’ve tried over the years

      Speaking of fish, Red’s Best!!! Delivery, pier pickup, or public market, possibly also at some markets as well. Excellent Instagram to follow.

      There’s a local chicken purveyor I prefer, Featherbrook Farms. They also do eggs you can find and they used to do rabbits, but haven’t asked for one in a while. You can get at Dulock or some other local “fancy” food stores.

      If you ever have car access I’d recommend Volante Farms in Needham over WilsonFarm 100 times out of 100, such a great family and excellent produce, they bring in wayyyy more local food than Wilson to supplement what they don’t grow, specifically thinking orchard fruit in season. Also talk about excellent customer service and treating employees well, plus they have excellent sandwiches, ice cream in summer, and a top 5 apple cider donut in fall. Oh yes, they also have plants in summer, pumpkins in fall, trees at xmas.

    8. Reba*

      When we lived in that area, we used Farmers to You! I highly recommend it. It’s somewhat like a CSA but you choose what comes in your box.

    9. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      WhatsGood has Boston-area farmers market deliveries, which I’ve mostly been pleased with. It’s not as good as going to the market myself, but it’s been a lifeline during the pandemic.

      Also, several of the area farmers markets are near T stations, including a Friday and Sunday year-round market outside the Charles Hotel, a few blocks from Harvard Square on the T. In-season, options include Copley Square Tuesdays and Fridays (Copley Square on the Green Line); Central Square Cambridge on Mondays (Central Square on the Red Line); and Davis Square, Somerville on Wednesdays.

    10. Bluebell*

      In the Boston area, there’s a service called Boston Organics, and you can choose the Dogma Box, which gives you options from 100 miles away or less. Clover also delivers meal boxes, and they collaborate with local farms. Other than that, there are lots of Farmer’s Markets. I don’t eat meat, but have thought about trying fish CSAs in the area, though they are kind of pricey.

    11. Quinalla*

      I’d look into a CSA (look now, they are probably already signing people up or full for this season) and for something like Market Wagon we have in many locations in the Midwest – delivery of various local farmer’s market type food that they get from a bunch of different providers and package it together based on what you order. Good luck, we did a CSA for the first time last year and it was lovely, ate so much more fresh produce that normal and we got eggs from them too.

    12. MCL*

      I live in Wisconsin, but I have found meat through farmers who sell at our local farmer’s market. What I have done for pork over the last few years is to split a full hog with 3 friends (so everyone gets a quarter), and we just meet up at someone’s house and divide it – we all pay back the one person who paid the farmer. A quarter hog is a LOT of meat, so be sure that you have freezer space. I didn’t really realize how much it would be the first time, and we barely made the freezer space happen (and we bought a small chest freezer for later years). My CSA also sells meat and I have considered going through them for beef. (I also get a reimbursement from my medical insurance company for my veggie CSA, but not for any meats.) Finally, I have found lots of locally produced meat at my co-op grocery store, so if you have something like that or a local butcher then you’re probably going to find something.

    1. sequined histories*

      I am impressed that she has so many and they all seem to get along with each other so well.

  6. Oatmeal Baby Bump*

    This is a hard topic, but I thought I’d reach out here since I have no friends who have gone through this.

    Those who have or have had their babies in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) – how did you cope, what helped, what didn’t help, how do I get through this?

    This is really a nightmare scenario for me, not something I’d ever imagined happening. I physically can’t talk to friends or family without bursting into tears so all I’ve done is text a few friends, and dodge calls from everybody. We’re on day 4 of NICU and looking like it will be a week at least until we get out. Due to COVID only one of us can go in at any given time, and staying at the hospital isn’t an option. Thankfully we’re only 15min drive away but this is the most stressful time of my life.

    1. Fran*

      Mine stayed in the NICU for a week and I was at the hospital at the same time but on a different clinic. I can’t understand why mothers and babies are separated. The only thing you can do is visit as much as your own healing lets you and go rest while your partner is with the baby. That helped me. I had an emergency C-section and needed to lie down often myself but knowing the baby wasn’t alone helped. Also, take lots of pictures and videos.

      1. Fran*

        Congratulations on the baby. It is very hard but you will get them home soon. When you are there ask to participate in their care as much as possible. Ask questions about how to take care when they are released etc. Ask if there is someone like a psychologist working with the hospital. We had a social worker coming to discuss our experience on the day we were released. Also, a few times hospital allowed both of us to be there with the baby despite covid as we FTP.

      2. Speaks to Dragonflies*

        Hoo boy, those emergeny C-sections are soooo much fun. Spouse was admitted to the hospital 2 months before due date.Three days later, we’re told that labor will be induced the next day. So,we went from the first room to the ultrasound department,told of the inducement, and from there to the delivery department. I’ve been staying with my spouse through this,so I had brought clothes and such for both of us, all of which was still in the first room. So I trek back to the first room,gather everything up like a pack mule, and trek all the way back to our room in the delivery ward…The empty room…After about a minute of confusion, a nurse comes in, confirms I’m the dad to be,and says “There’s a complication. Put these on( hands me a gown, cap and mask) and follow me…and hurry.” I got in the operating room about the time my wife was being layed open. And that’s how my son came into the world, all 3 pounds and 6 ounces of him.

        1. Fran*

          Yeah pretty fun. My spouse wasn’t allowed in because of Covid and my experience was pretty traumatic but I will not go into details to not scare other pregnant readers. In most cases, deliveries are done without big complications.

          1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

            Yeah, covid as pretty much effed up so many things. Spouse had her C-section almost 18 years ago so the ‘rona wasn’t a thing yet.
            I wasn’t trying to cause anyone to worry about their own C-sections, so I want to add that spouse and son had no *major* complications and have been doing fine for 18 years and counting. During the operation, spouse was conscious, lucid, and talking to me, but very high on what they gave her. Didn’t seem to feel any pain, yet knew what was going on.
            * Only complication was the the cause of emergency C-section 2 months from due date. Son was born at 3 lb, 6 oz and had to stay in the NICU to be sure his lungs were developed enough and to be sure he could eat because he had a little trouble figuring out what to do with a nipple.*

    2. Marzipan*

      This isn’t something I’ve experienced personally, but friends of mine whose baby spent a long time in hospital (albeit in different circumstances) said that they found it really helpful to ask for the specific help they needed, whatever that might be. People were very glad to give it. I remember weeding their front garden at one point, because it needed doing and they couldn’t do it, and I would have done anything at all to help (actually, knowing what they needed gave me direction and meant I knew I wasn’t bothering them). I know they felt weird about it to begin with because asking people to do things for you, especially mundane ones, just feels like not the done thing, but they said it was really worthwhile when they did it.

      If you aren’t up for taking calls from people, even just finding a way of transmitting that information more widely might make your life a bit easier. That task could fall to a friend or relative, if there’s someone you could deputise to do it. That person could also pass on any other news or requests for help you might have, just to give you a buffer so you don’t have to manage interacting with lots of people right now.

      Sending you hugs, and whatever strength I can transmit through the internet.

    3. Not A Manager*

      If the baby’s health and your own allow for skin-to-skin contact, try to get as much of that as the hospital will allow, both for you and for your partner.

      The hospital should have some support available to you either through the social workers, the chaplains (they are usually quite good about not pushing religion if that’s not meaningful to your experience) or the nurses themselves. You won’t be out of line if you ask what support is available to parents at this time.

      Finally, I hope that you will allow yourself to reach out to your family and friends if you want to. If you cry, that’s not an unreasonable burden for them, and they love you. Call if you want, and cry if you cry. It’s okay.

      My thoughts are with you and your family, and I hope that you are all reunited in your own home very soon.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Yes! Lying with the baby on your chest (or partners chest) is very good for them (and you!). Ask the NICU nurses if the hospital provides any support or if they have any information about NICU parent support groups. My nephew was born 9 weeks early about 35 years ago. He was about the size of a small rabbit. Not much support then but he and his parents came through just fine.

    4. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      OBB, you have all the internet hugs you want that I can send.Spouse and I have been there. Our lil one had to stay for 2 or 3 weeks. It’s hard having to leave them there with someone else watching over them. What helped us is getting to know the nurses that took care of him. They genuinely cared for every lil one there. Knowing that he was being watched over by loving people while we couldn’t be there helped. Spouse spent every moment they could there with him while I went back to work a week after his birth.
      If there’s a special place in hell for the exceptionally evil, there has to be a special place in paradise for folks NICU nurses and doctors.

    5. Anon7*

      I am so sorry you are going through this.

      I haven’t myself it but one of my best friends has twice, with long stays, and now two happy healthy awesome kids. As someone else said definitely talk to the staff — she found the doctors and nurses so kind and supportive. They do usually have referrals to therapists and social workers and I know she found the idea of talking to a therapist to be too much at the time. But if you have the capacity to ask and get set up (or if a family member can do the legwork for you), then when you go home and are facing all the regular newborn challenges plus having gone through this, that support will already be in place.

      As others have said, people want to help but won’t be sure what to do, and as in any crisis they’ll want to send good wishes and you may not have the energy to respond. If you designate someone to be your point person who can let friends and family know what’s going on, they can also come back to share those good wishes in bursts, rather than your phone buzzing constantly.

      And also, remember that even if you can’t physically be there as much as you’d like to, it’s OK to “be there” emotionally. One of my family members had major surgery and their spouse talked about wanting to “be with them” even though they couldn’t due to COVID. That can mean whatever feels right to you — sitting and thinking, praying if you’re religious, doing something special for the nursery, retreading your favorite book from childhood, whatever will bring you comfort now is good for you and good for your baby.

      Sleep and rest and hydrate when you can. Sending you so many good thoughts.

    6. Been There Twice*

      My first two were both two months early, making for 2 and three weeks in NICU. Both times it was just me and spouse. Tears are super natural after birth (hormones!), especially after those that did not go as you had hoped (mine due to emergency c-sections for pre-eclampsia). Don’t be afraid of those tears!

      Nothing prepared me or really made NICU better. The NICU nurses were kind and helpful with questions and concerns. Like others have suggested, if you are able to skin-to-skin your baby, do it! Awesome for you, awesome for baby. Take comfort keeping your tiny one close. If you are breast feeding, this will also help with stimulating lactation. Don’t be afraid to talk to the lactation specialist!

      If you are able to, keep a blanket there for you. Bring water. If you or a loved one knit/sew/crochet, make a special hat for the baby. If you can, play music for you and baby. Sing.

      I know you feel overwhelmed and helpless. Take deep breathes, drink lots of water, eat good protein. Remember the NICU staff all want your (and every baby there) to have a successful stay and go home and they are working to make that happen. Your own recovery is part of that.

      Wonder at those tiny fingers, kiss that little head. We may not be able to quietly chant your name to cheer you on, but thinking it just the same.


    7. Maree*

      This is so hard. All my best wishes to you and your baby. Please know that you will get through this, it feels like forever while it is happening. I think the most important thing is to get yourself through in the best shape you can. Lots of people are looking after the baby, please try and look after yourself too! Sleep as often as you can (I know!!), eat the best food you can manage, have a shower and get your post natal checkups. All of these can be forgotten in favour of baby but you are important.

      YMMV but I dedicated half an hour a day to locking myself in the hospital prayer room and having a massive cry. I cried plenty other times but a really good sob helped me keep it together for doctors’ rounds.

      On a practical note – (TMI) adult diapers helped me get through the nursery visits and feeds with my postpartum bleeding. Not having baby with me meant my uterus went crazy when we were together.

    8. rkz*

      Sending you the biggest hugs ever. My son was in the NICU for a week and came home when he was 10 days old. I resonante with every single thing you said in your post. I also can’t believe they are only allowing one parent in at a time, that’s absurd! My son was born last summer so also COVID times and my husband and I were always allowed in together, but no other visitors.

      I would spend most of the day at the NICU with baby and go home for dinner/sleep. I cried every single night when we went home, but it helped to remember that my job was to make sure that when he did come home I was strong enough to care for him and sleeping in the NICU was not conducive to that. If you do have anyone who can come stay with you and your partner and take care of you, I’d highly recommend. My mom was in town and made us dinners and packed me lunches and I am eternally grateful because I has absolutely no mental space to think about that kind of thing. It was also easier to cry with her since she was there in person than with other family and friends I could only talk to via video chat etc.

      The other thing that was huge for me was having a nurse one day who taught me how to get him out and hold him even with his wires and things. This will obviously depend on what’s going on with your baby, baby’s current condition and treatments etc, but I wanted to be as involved as possible on changing diapers, giving baths, feeding etc. The first few days I felt like I was intruding on the nurses’ territory or inconveniencing them if I wanted to hold him or something, but one day he had an amazing nurse who was like “you’re his mom, of course you can hold him whenever you want.” So if that’s something you want, ask your nurses, I think generally they really do see their role as taking care of and supporting the parents as well.

      And like some other folks said, baby WILL come home. And at the same time, you are allowed to be sad and grieve and mourn this time. My thoughts and my heart are with you!

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Prayers/positive energy/whatever you would like for you and your little one.

    10. allathian*

      My son was born at 41+5 weeks (on a Saturday, we had booked an induction for the following Monday), but he was under 3 kilos, meaning that his birth weight wasn’t allowed to drop at all. Luckily he wasn’t oxygen deprived, but the OB/GYN told me that my placenta wasn’t working as it should’ve been and my son didn’t get all the nutrients he needed during the last weeks, so he probably actually lost weight in the womb. Anyway, he was also hypoglycemic at birth and I guess I’m lucky in that they allowed him to get his colostrum from me before they rushed him to the NICU. Luckily it was in the same building. I lost a lot of blood, something like 1.5 liters and my hemoglobin was so low that if it had been just a bit lower, I would’ve needed a blood transfusion. So I was in no state to go home and stayed in hospital for all the time he was in NICU. They got his blood sugar up and I went and breastfed him several times a day, although that was more for skin-to-skin contact than anything else. They fed him intravenously with glucose and with donated mother’s milk as well as my milk. I tried pumping in the hospital, but I didn’t really let down the milk until we came home. I could have stayed there with him on my chest for most of the time I was there, because I could feel myself relax every time I held him. When he got out of NICU, we got a family room. My husband got paternity leave from work, and he changed most of the diapers and just carried our son to me for feeding while I rested up. I realize that this level of care is out of reach of most US moms, but I ended up paying about the same per day as I would have paid at a good but not luxurious hotel.

    11. OtterB*

      Mine was in the NICU for 3 weeks. She’s 27 now. I don’t remember a whole lot. I visited every day. Got a friend to drive me some, because my husband had gone back to work and I couldn’t drive because of c-section. I held her and sang to her. Called in to check on her when I couldn’t visit (which the nurses encouraged). We left our other daughter, who was 1-1/2, in her daycare but evenings and weekends I could spend time with her. I read cheerful escapist things, always my coping go-to. Wishing you well.

    12. Texan In Exile*

      If it’s any consolation, the people who work in NICU – based on my limited knowledge – love babies. My sister has been a NICU nurse/nurse practitioner for over 30 years (holy smoke) and she still hears from the families of the babies she has cared for. The NICE people love these babies and they want them to thrive and they take great care of them.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I worked with NICU staff in a previous job and I never knew a doctor or nurse who didn’t love to get updates on how the babies they’d treated were doing, even decades later.

      1. fposte*

        Some NICUs also have trained and checked volunteer baby holders, just to give the little ones as much skin time as possible.

    13. Double A*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this; it sounds like your baby is getting wonderful care and you have a fairly short timeline to come home.

      I don’t have personal experience with NICU, but wanted to offer you some postpartum perspective. Your feelings during this time are super intense, and the hormones truly are insane. So realize that some of what you are feeling, you would be feeling no matter what, in terms of intensity.

      I had a long and exhausting induction with my daughter, and when we got home I was so tired I was numb, and I still couldn’t rest. I think how tired I was contributed to issues with bonding and postpartum depression.

      So even though I know you ache with all your heart to be with your baby, really take the time you have alone to rest and sleep and heal. Take something to help you sleep if you need to. Eat as well as you possibly can, and ask people for help with this. Drink a lot of water. Go for gentle walks as your body and medical advice allows. Being more rested and healed when you are able to take your baby home will be a small blessing in the midst of this. Don’t feel guilty about taking care of yourself; take it as a small gift in the midst of an otherwise very difficult time.

      Thinking of and sending healing love to you and your family <3

    14. Fellow Traveller*

      That sounds so stressful and hard, especially during COVID times when you really need support and connection.
      My first child was born at 33 weeks (almost ten years ago!). We thought she would have to spend at least a week in the NICU, but we only ended up having to stay 4 days. I think when got me through was just taking life ten minutes at a time and holding my baby as much as I could. There is something wonderfully calming about holding a baby. Also, at some point, I just put my faith in the system and told myself that she was going to be okay, that the doctors and nurses and her fighting spirit was going to get through this. Do you have a local mom’s group? Our hospitals has a mom’s group that currently meets over Zoom; I’ve found them to be super supportive. Some hospitals even have a specific NICU parent’s group.

    15. Preemie*

      My son was born 10 weeks early and he spent almost two months in the NICU. I had an emergency C-Section, he needed lots of care at the beginning that I literally couldn’t give him and my husband couldn’t be there for the birth. It was a really stressful time for so, so many reasons. So I totally get it.

      That said, he’s now two and a third and happy as a clam with no ill effects or anything to show that he had such a difficult start. So that’s one thing to keep in mind: only in rare cases will this actually matter for him a year or two down the road. And even in such cases, there’s loads of great support options and your kid will have a wonderful quality of life. And you’re already showering that little person with so much love! That part is the most important bit.

      As for dealing with everything in the moment, well, do the best you can! Give yourself permission to focus on your baby and you and maybe your spouse and not to care a lick about anyone else–they’re adults and they can deal.

      Also, remember that this is temporary. It gets better. It sucks right now, but it gets better. Access care if you can (psychologist or social worker, nurses, your own doctor, anyone you feel like you can talk to), but also give yourself a break from the pressure as much as possible. It’ll be ok.

    16. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you my warmest thoughts from this corner of the internet… I’m sorry I have no advice. My experience is only with Spina Bifida NICU babies, so vastly different. Hug!

  7. Marzipan*

    A small update for those who remember how long it took for me to have him in the first place: the Marzipan Baby will be one tomorrow! Which seems highly improbable, but there you go. He starts settling sessions at nursery in a couple of weeks (which will be good for him, I think; there’s only so much I can do to make life interesting for him on my own during a pandemic) and I’ll be back at work a couple of weeks after that.

    So many people here were so supportive while I was on the (very winding) journey to having him that I wanted to just send a little greeting from our small family to you and yours – with love and light as always to anyone for whom baby news is more complicated to hear.

    1. Fran*

      Congratulations! I remember your journey. Mine will be one next month. What! How did that happen?

    2. Bobina*

      Happy birthday to Marzipan baby! I followed your journey silently so glad to hear all is well :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I remember your journey also.
      Happy Birthday, Baby Marzipan!
      And congratulations to you on your joy here.

    4. fposte*

      Thank you for the reminder of this lovely event! I remember your journey as well and a happy ending is a wonderful thing.

    5. Quandong*

      Congratulations! Happy birthday to the Baby Marzipan, and many good wishes for the next year!

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      Happy birthday Marzipan baby! I remember too. You will never know how many internet strangers were rooting for you….

  8. Not A Manager*

    For people who do yarn crafts at home, what do you keep your current project in? I’m using a nylon bag, which is great because it’s soft and has no seams or anything to snag on, but it’s small and floppy. I’d love to have a “work basket” that I could keep my current project and supplies in, and be able to change locations easily. I’d like to be able to to see/find things in it. The ones I find online look too large and/or they have parts that would damage the yarn.

    1. Marzipan*

      My current projects are more… sedimentary. And mostly stuffed into whatever bag was free at the time I put them aside. And then shoved into a big pink locker in the hallway. I am perhaps a rather Shocking Example in this respect!

      Would clear plastic storage tubs work? They aren’t very sexy but you can see what’s in them, they’re readily available, they have lids, they’re stackable, they’re lightweight… They wouldn’t be so good for, like, taking your project on a train or whatever, but for round the house maybe they’d fit the bill?

      1. Not A Manager*

        They would! Somehow I am feeling quite particular about the experience I want here. I don’t want to grab a box or a tub in both hands to move it elsewhere. I want handles on a bin or a bag, so that it feels less like I’m moving something that’s been stored, and more like I’m moving something that’s in process. Like the difference between your purse and your desk organizer.

        I realize this is ridiculous, but so much of yarn work is about how you feel while you do it.

        1. Marzipan*

          That’s not ridiculous! I know what you mean. A sort of special place for the work to stay while it’s going through the transition from not-existing to existing.

          When you say you want to be able to see what’s in it, are you thinking transparent, or would just a wide opening at the top do, do you think? I have a couple of old work bags with big wooden handles that belonged to my mum that are like the latter – I’ll post a link to something similar…

        2. Pennyworth*

          I used to have a basket with a fabric liner. You can create your own or look up ” fabric liner craft basket ” for images and instructions. Basically you need to make something the same shape as your craft basket and attach it with the seams facing the basket.

        3. Rebecca Stewart*

          I don’t know if you sew as well as do yarn, but you can make a cloth liner to go in a basket that doesn’t have one. It’s sort of an inside out bag long enough to go over the rim of the basket, and mine has cutouts and ribbon ties to go round the handles and tie where the handles attach to the basket. I bought it, but as someone who’s tolerably competent with sewing, I could make it easily. Not only do things not snag, but small needles don’t work their way out, and it’s easy to take the liner out and wash it when you need to.

        4. Quinalla*

          Sounds like a big bag that sits up on its own with handles would do you, I had several technically diaper bags (one I kept) that would work except for the zippers on the main compartment potentially snagging. Maybe a large tote bag without a zipper on top, something like this (my SIL works for Vera, so I always think of them first, but you can find something cheaper I’m sure, heck maybe on of those ikea reusuable bags/totes): https://verabradley.com/collections/beach/products/large-family-tote-bag-26458v47?variant=34830095974444

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        Not a yarn crafter, but I use plastic storage tubs to store my fabric stash and second them as an option, for precisely the reasons Marzipan gives above. Mine currently live in the corner of my living room (in a spot the sun doesn’t get to so it doesn’t damage the fabric) and whilst it’s not the prettiest thing in the

        Otherwise, I’m not sure if it falls into the ‘too large’ category, but how about a storage trolley? Something like this perhaps: https://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/grey-mesh-rolling-storage-trolley/639493-1000

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          Gah, just realised I didn’t finish that sentence in the first paragraph. That should have said, ‘whilst it’s not the prettiest thing in the world, it does the job’.

    2. WS*

      Clear plastic tubs are great because they keep out insects but you can see what’s in them. You can get all sizes.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I second clear containers! I bought an expensive yarn-specific carrier only to find out it’s BLACK inside and I can’t see a thing!

    3. Rrrrach*

      I bought a project bag from a small company based in Wales, in the UK. It is waxed canvas with leather handles, has felted ‘slots’ to hold needles and rivets in the side of the bag that the wool/thread can run through. The plan early last year had been to take it when going out to cafes etc and of course that hadn’t been possible. I like nice things and having everything ready in one place at home encourages me to sit down and craft!
      I wasn’t sure where you live but they deliver worldwide including to the US, Europe.
      I am just a happy customer of theirs. I have ordered several things from them (other things were gifts) and each time they came with a handwritten note.

    4. Just A Guy In A Cube*

      Fringe Supply Co project bags are working well for my cross stitch projects and more importantly for my wife the serious knitter

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I always sit in the same place, so I have a wooden box on the table next to my end of the couch that has supplies in it (scissors, a measuring tape, yarn needles, a jar of stitch markers, etc) and my current project lives in a metal bucket also on the table. (It was originally a souvenir popcorn bucket from a movie theater, heh.)

    6. Lifelong student*

      My latest find for holding yarn is a wine bag carrier! I bought two fabric ones from Amazon. They have slots for 6 bottles each. When I am working on a project, I put a skein in each slot. It works wonderfully. I also have a small basket on the lower shelf of the end table next to my chair which holds my tools like scissors, stitch markers, tape measure, etc.

    7. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      My grandmother used to have a bag with a folding wooden frame. Hard to describe, but I’ll put a link in the reply. I always thought it was really cool.

    8. HannahS*

      I use a leather hatbox! It’s maybe not the most helpful answer, because it’s from my great-grandmother’s luggage, but it’s a good size for most projects (maybe not a large blanket, but sweaters/accessories fit), and it’s attractive.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I keep it in a good tote bag with handles. I need to be able to put it up away from the house pets. The handles let me hang it off something, which keeps the creatures out.

    10. Morning reader*

      I have a round bin that originally came with popcorn that I use. Yarn balls or skeins can rest in it while I’m knitting and I pop the whole project in there when not in use. Very handy at home. If m not using long needles, I can put the lid on

    11. Hotdog not dog*

      I have two…for projects that don’t leave the house I use my great grandmother’s bag with the wooden frame. (It’s a little delicate after so many years). For other projects I use a repurposed diaper bag. It has a lot of pockets and compartments, and pretty much just looks like a tote bag. My yarn stash, which is its own separate entity, lives in plastic bins.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          I think mine is reproducing. In spite of a whole year of pandemic afghans, there seems to be more yarn than ever!

    12. Grump*

      I use a Baggu nylon tote. Something I can zip closed is critical with three cats, one of whom gets *really* frisky with handspun/rustic wool yarns. I also have an assortment of little pouches that I can throw in with whatever notions I need for a project.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I use tote bags. I avoid zippers and adore lots of pockets. One of my favorites was sold as a diaper bag — current ball is free-rolling in a compartment separate from the others in the project, the scissors are safe, and other tools have places.

    14. IAmOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      This may seem a bit much but I have a large Longabergber basket tote for my crochet projects. I think it is called the Large Boardwalk Basket and it has a zip close cloth liner with pockets. It looks nice when sitting out in my house. It is large enough for all the yarn for a baby blanket or sweater and has handles for transporting places. I prefer it to a cloth bag since it holds its shape. You can find it on a resale site if interested.

    15. Never Nicky*

      I have a grey felt nappy caddy (diaper caddy). It’s open at the top, with three sections – the main is large enough for the work in progress, the others hold spare yarn and all the pockets around the outside are great for my scissors, tape measure, stitch holders etc.

    16. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I have a really nice Rubbermaid heavy-duty plastic basket that I bought decades ago (middle 1980’s) that I have used for my crochet ever since. It is not so good for knitting as the needles occasionally slide out through the tiny slots. However I still occasionally curse at myself for not buying more of them while they were available. It is just the right size and shape.

    17. Pippa K*

      I love this one (link in reply). It holds yarn in separate but easily accessible sections and has plenty of room for other gear and a work in progress, plus the straps are a convenient length.

    18. RagingADHD*

      I use a diaper bag left over from when my kids were little. Lots of compartments, a bit of structure, big open area in the middle. Works great.

    19. MissCoco*

      I use one of those lands-end canvas totes. Lots of pockets for bits and bobs inside, and big enough I can roll up anything smaller than a blanket to stuff inside.

      I think I have a medium one, which is great for travel, but I might want a larger one for using only at home

    20. All Monkeys are French*

      My large or home-based projects live in pillowcases, but for smaller, more portable projects I love my Yarn Stuff Sack from Tom Bihn. It has a clear bottom so you can see what’s in it, a drawstring top, and can be clipped inside a larger bag if you want (they make a nice knitting bag, too, called the Swift).

    21. Nana*

      For smaller projects (hats, socks), I use an empty square tissue box. Yarn feeds out and doesn’t tangle; needles and small scissors / accessories slide in. Easily transportable.

    22. Clumsy Ninja*

      I tend to use drawstring backpacks for portability – I sew my own, put zippered pockets on the inside or outside for scissors/hooks/etc, and I make them of various sizes for different sized projects. I also make small zippered pouches to contain the tools and be tossed into bigger bags. And these can be tossed into baskets or bins. I’m not sure that I have a good idea that seems to fit what you’re looking for, though….

  9. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing, feel free to talk about any writing at all.
    I haven’t had much time for recreational writing but the plot bunnies in my head have decided that they should reproduce like…well, rabbits.

    1. Mira*

      Ooof, it’s not going so well to be honest. I’m about halfway through outlining my plot now. I should have been done with it weeks ago but I work full time and it’s one of those no-work-life-balance jobs, so I’m often too tired at the end of the day to focus on writing fiction!

      Do you have any tips for how I can get myself into X or Y character’s headspace after what’s basically been 12-14 hours of editing other people’s extremely crappy content and fielding constant calls and interruptions?

      1. saltedchocolatechip*

        I haven’t done much of the “write a letter or diary entry” exercises but I’ve seen it enough times that it must help folks!

        For me I was feeling stuck on the why do a character’s motivation — why is she looking to make this career change and how did she end up in this job if it’s making her unhappy. I thought back to things she would’ve been doing in the past and been good at that might have made this a natural fit that she could then end up feeling stuck in. I wrote a little of that in but even just having that piece of “oh she got good at X for Y reasons and that’s a desirable trait for Z job that she took out of college and yes years into it she could feel stuck” gave me a better sense of where she’d be coming from.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Personally I also use music a lot. Every character I write at least has a “theme song” that I listen to when I need to get in their headspace.

      3. Julia*

        I was stuck for things to write about in my current NaNo project, so I skipped that scene for a bit and sent my character to therapy for something that happens later in the book. Suddenly I ended up with 1500 words in a bit over an hour.

    2. MissGirl*

      I’m doing nothing but editing today. I’ve got to get my latest to the proofreader by Monday. I’ve got to be better on my next and scheduling it out because I’ve had no time to breathe.

    3. Free Hat*

      I’m trying to break into writing for the first time and I sent a pitch to a (relatively new) ezine a couple weeks ago. I haven’t heard back, and on their site it says they will respond within week, though they could just be busy. But they haven’t told me “no.” Should I keep sending them pitches? I’d really like to write for this particular site. Do you just keep trying? This is new to me.

      1. bibliothecaria*

        Unless the submission guidelines clearly state that multiple submissions are accepted, do not send anything else until you have heard back about your first submission/pitch.

        Not having heard back in the stated time frame is not unusual. Sometimes it means that they are really busy, and sometimes it means that they like your submission, but just haven’t made up their minds, yet.

  10. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual, this is not limited to video games, so feel free to talk about board games etc. as well as phone games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.
    So turns out the rumours about the PSP, PS3 and PS Vita stores closing was true after all…RIP my wallet and RIP sensible prices for physical games.
    I’ve been playing some Persona 4 Golden on the Vita, because I’ll take my long RPGs on portable consoles whenever I can.

    1. Bookgarden*

      Still playing Stardew with my SO on the Switch and Terraria on the Playstation. I picked up AC: Valhalla with the PS sale and hope to play it soon.

      I saw a Parks and Rec board or card game on the Target store site called “Knope for President.” Has anyone here played it, and if so, what did you think of it?

    2. Waiting on the bus*

      I’m looking for recommendations on what to get for the PS3 before the store closes.

      Last year I got the PS3 out of storage and bought Persona 5 and Don’t Starve, which I loved and helped me make it through the first lockdown. I previously enjoyed the Tomb Raider reboot as well, though that was almost too violent for my tastes.

      What are people’s recs for the PS3? I’m not a fan of shooter or multiplayer games myself, but if you have recs for those, maybe someone else will appreciate them!

      1. Xavier Desmond*

        I would try Portal and Portal 2 if you haven’t already. They are brilliant first person puzzle games with a lot of humour. Spelunky for a great but tough 2d platformer. And Nier for an RPG with a unique and interesting story.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        You may also want to look into Ni No Kuni and Eternal Sonata. Ni No Kuni was made with Studio Ghibli, so if you’re familiar with their work you’ll know what to expect. Eternal Sonata is a JRPG that is basically Chopin’s fever dream as he’s dying of tuberculosis, and it’s just filled with classical music. Child of Light is also lovely, it’s a kind of fairy tale world where everyone speaks in rhyme (barring one character, to the annoyance of others) and it just looks beautiful.

        1. Nessun*

          Seconding Ni no Kuni and Child of Light – both gorgeous games and lovely to play (although the leveling of the pets element of Ni no Kuni could get silly at times).

    3. Retail Not Retail*

      I’m still chugging along in pokemon go! My depression has gotten worse, I can’t focus on a book at lunch at work, clearly insomnia is messing with me, so let’s accomplish something! Also work is just walk crazy, so I’ve been hatching eggs left and right, walking over 70km in a week…

      I made it to level 44 and fought my way to 100 grunt defeats and only then looked at how to get more rocket radars and oops, could have been doing that every 6 battles! But thanks to work, I’ve gotten 26 of those down. The bigger problem is I’m running out of healthy battle worthy pokemon. Easier to find a grunt than a healing potion!

    4. LDN Layabout*

      I’m feeling really sad for everyone affected by the PS shutdowns, I was also always primarily PC with some Nintendo and the past decade has probably highlighted by Sony’s hard line on exclusivity is really bad for gaming as a whole. There’s so many seminal games that are simply going to be lost in the ether.

      I’m still going between Genshin Impact and otome games on the Switch, currently reaching the end of Code: Realize and hoping the second fandisc goes on sale in the eshop soon…

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Exactly! Can you imagine just throwing away several years of art? Also I feel sorry for the developers who were still making Vita games and whose only warning was the rumours that started last week. I know at least one is rushing to get things finished before the final deadline, though this will effectively make the Vita version a timed release, and another who has just bluntly stated that this means they won’t have a Vita version. It’s just really poorly handled.

        It’s funny you should mention Code: Realize, considering how weirdly that got published on the Vita over here in Europe. Guardian of Rebirth was only available digitally, but apparently the publisher made the fandiscs available digitally ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. At least the Switch got physical versions for all of them. I wonder what changed their mind.

    5. Marion Ravenwood*

      Boyfriend and I played the Dune board game over the last couple of evenings with two of our friends (via Tabletop Simulator in Steam). It’s a deck-building/worker placement game – if you’ve ever played the Game of Thrones and Battlestar Galatica board games, basically a combination of that – and the idea is that to win you have to be the first to get 10 points, which you gain in various ways such as special cards, building alliances, winning combats etc. I have a very limited knowledge of Dune but I found it pretty easy to pick up, although there are definitely things in my strategy I want to refine! We’re playing it again over the Easter weekend so will see how the second game goes.

      Also still playing lots of Hearthstone: Battlegrounds, which is really good for a quick game to pass the time. I still haven’t won yet but definitely feel like I’m improving!

    6. Just A Guy In A Cube*

      My kids have me playing a lot of “Dragonwood” which is a fine card game for using adventurers to collect equipment and defeat monsters while rolling dice and adding them all up. Plus the whole family has been enjoying Tsuro – a pretty quick “place tiles and follow a path” board game

    7. allathian*

      Now that our weather is finally reliably above 0 C again, I’ve started playing Pokémon GO after a break of several months.

    8. TX Lizard*

      Has anyone seen Coral Island on Steam/Kickstarter? I am looking forward to it but decided not to back it or pre order since Kickstarted games sometimes end up over promised and under delivered. But I love Stardew Valley so I think I’ll like this one when it comes out. Anyone else going to play?

    9. riverbflat*

      I got me an Oculus Quest 2 a week or so ago and I. Am. LOVING IT. I’m a Tetris fiend, and got Tetris Effect for it last night, and I love that too, even though it’s pretty intense lol. I can still only do a little while at a time, but that’s fine and expected.

    10. Nicki Name*

      Still working on my last FE3H playthrough. I’m a couple chapters from the timeskip and about to do the last of the paralogues. Also, I’m going to a virtual convention this weekend and hoping to learn a new boardgame or two.

      1. Jackalope*

        I haven’t gotten much play time, but I’m still enjoying my “backwards” playing of having my magic users learn weapons and my non-magic users learn spells. Don’t know how long I’ll keep it up, but it’s fun to see people doing different things than what I had them do in the past.

    11. SleepyHollowGirl*

      I’ve been playing Tash-Kalar and Res Arcana on boardgamearena. They have some tournaments, which adds to the fun.

    12. twocents*

      I finished The Last Campfire last night, and decided to return to Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I binged the original three houses in 160 hours in 2019, so it’s been a good break to return back and try the DLC.

    13. The Dude Abides*

      Been playing the hell out of MtG Arena. Now I can get to my 15 wins every day without much trouble.

    14. DarthVelma*

      We just started a couple of contenders for filling the Fortnite/ESO/Destiny 2 shaped hole in our lives. We’ve played a tiny bit of Outriders – I’m not sure about it yet. But it got better once I figured out I’m a close combat/shotgun to the face kind of player.

      What we’ve been spending more time on is Valheim. I really like how you can tailor your experience a bit to what you feel like doing…building. crafting, mining, exploring, hitting things…you can have as intense an experience as you choose. And the music is really well done.

    15. Quinalla*

      Still playing loads of Valheim – viking themed survival game that is still Early Access on Steam – but it runs great and the content that is there is working and run into very few bugs – all minor. Highly recommend it if you like survival games, it has been a ton of fun and you can play multiplayer up to 10 – we’ve tried with 4 and it still ran just fine.

    16. MCL*

      I’ve been replaying the 2008 Prince of Persia on PS3. Honestly, it’s just one giant fetch quest and it’s not even that inventive (I’m not sure any POP games are!), but it’s weirdly absorbing and relaxing to me. You can’t die, which I think is part of it. Spouse and I are working our way through Divinity: Original Sin II, which I am enjoying as much as Divinity I, though it is definitely one of those games that will eat up a day. Guy has a Gloomhaven group that has been playing on Steam for the last several months, and I’ve been playing with him a little, too.

  11. Trude*

    What books on writing do you recommend? I’m looking for writing in general and fiction writing in specific. I’ve read The Elements of Style and found it useful for SPAG reference. But I’m looking for books with more emphasis on the nuts and bolts of writing stories, like developing characters, worldbuilding, and such.

    1. Mira*

      Hmm, I’ve found such books to be mostly unhelpful at best, and negatively impacting my writing at worst. I wouldn’t recommend writing guides of this sort if you’re looking to do fiction, because it’s so important to let your own style and flow of thought shine through, which is something that doesn’t always work with the very structured and generic knowledge in these types of books.

      Off the top of my head (I’ve been writing both fiction and non-fiction for over a decade and I work in content), here are a few good tips to keep in mind, but other than that, let loose!

      – Don’t edit yourself as you write. That’s what drafts are for!
      – It’s great to be grammatically correct all through, and ideally your narrator’s voice should be so. However, keep in mind your character and their situation – a poverty-ridden handcart seller, for instance, won’t have the same way of speaking nor the grammar and vocabulary of, say, the town librarian.
      – Outline your plot before you begin to actually write. Put in as many details as possible – this helps prevent plot holes and makes it so much easier to flesh things out later.

      Hope this helped!

      1. Mira*

        Oh, and I should add – when it comes to worldbuilding and characters, research is your best friend. The atmosphere and culture and “rules” that govern your world have a heavy impact on how your characters think, live, eat, sleep, know, and believe. So, you really can’t have one without the other.

      2. Julia*

        Agree with the first two points, but some people aren’t plotters, they’re pantsers who have to discover their story through writing. (And others are hybrid types.) If plotting never works out for someone, they might want to try just pantsing through an idea.

    2. Just A Guy In A Cube*

      I remember someone once recommended Stephen King’s On Writing, which I generally didn’t find all that helpful, but Ursula Le Guin’s craft books were better – The Language of the Night and Steering the Craft
      Also yeah, Bird by Bird is wonderful

    3. nep*

      I really like Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. It might not be the technical level you’re seeking, but it makes me laugh and there are some gems about writing sprinkled throughout.

    4. MissGirl*

      If you’re writing novels, I’ve found Save the Car for Novelists absolutely key in plotting. They have a website if you want to get an idea of it.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I believe there’s a typo that sneaked thru.

        “Save the CAT” is the book series/blog about story structure for screenwriting and fiction.

    5. Russian Stranger*

      I would absolutely recommend “Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc | Dara Marks”. Especially if you find plotting complicated – it explains very good, how the changes in protagonist (inside story) impact and cause movements of the plot (outer story). Was a first step to really start writing my novel!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It’s not exactly what you’re describing, but I love “Starting from Scratch : A Different Kind of Writer’s Manual” by Rita Mae Brown.

    7. Yellow Warbler*

      IME you either love or hate these kinds of books, based on your own style (even if you don’t currently recognize that you have one).

      I thought On Writing and Bird By Bird were lousy. The former was a self-indulgent autobiography disguised as advice, the latter was existential hippie nonsense.

      I enjoyed John Scalzi’s You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop and Robert McKee’s Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. I don’t write screenplays, but I find that many of the concepts cross over.

      As you try these types of books, pay attention to what you do and don’t like about them. The pattern that emerges will give you a lot of insight into your own skills and preferences.

      1. MissGirl*

        I found On Writing interesting as an autobiography but definitely not helpful for writing. The little advice there was is woefully out of date.

      2. RagingADHD*

        I think the problem with trying to use On Writing as a manual is that King started writing so young, and learned the craft by just writing a bazillion words and seeing what sold.

        He didn’t learn by analyzing his process from the outside, or by deliberately setting out to study technique. He just kept doing it. So it’s all experiential.

        There are a lot of artists like that – they do the thing, but they can’t really explain how they do it, because so much of it is happening unconsciously.

    8. lemon meringue*

      I’ve just bought it and haven’t started reading yet, but you might want to give George Saunders’s A Swim in a Pond in the Rain a try. He takes you through a series of short stories by Russian masters, so even if you don’t care for his advice, reading (or revisiting) the stories should be valuable in itself.

      I’d recommend watching the Politics and Prose interview between Saunders and Anne Lamott first to get a sense of whether this book would be for you. It may be more philosophical and less nuts and bolts than what you’re looking for. I think Sol Stein’s writing books tend to be more practical, and I’ve heard good things about them, but haven’t read any.

    9. OtterB*

      I really liked Beginnings, Middles, and Ends, by Nancy Kress. It’s part of a series on Elements of Fiction Writing. I have read some but not all of the others. The one on Characters and Viewpoint is by Orson Scott Card, and I thought it was good but I know Card is controversial.

    10. GoryDetails*

      On writing: I loved Bird by Bird, though more for general motivation than actual production-of-finished-stories. In some ways I’ve found the “things not to do” articles and lists more entertaining – and possibly more helpful, whether you use them to avoid overused or flawed elements, or as idea-generators for finding ways to subvert or enhance what might otherwise be a “dead horse” trope. Things like George Eliot’s classic “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists”, which Eliot rails snarkily against the “Mary Sue” character:

      “Her eyes and her wit are both dazzling; her nose and her morals are alike free from any tendency to irregularity; she has a superb contralto and a superb intellect; she is perfectly well dressed and perfectly religious; she dances like a sylph, and reads the Bible in the original tongues.”

      The TV Tropes site has collected a lot of such lists, many collected under “The Universal Genre Savvy Guide”; it includes genre-specific things like the “Evil Overlord List” (which has been used to good effect in novels and stories that show what happens when the evil character behaves more sensibly and less maniacally), and has other entertaining bits for a variety of genres. Again, these might prove helpful as examples of what not to do, and/or to spark ideas for ways to warp the expectations into something new and fun.

      Oh, and if fantasy is in your wheelhouse, check out Diana Wynn Jones’ THE TOUGH GUIDE TO FANTASYLAND!

    11. Jackalope*

      The author Patricia Wrede has a blog about writing and each week she tackles one writing issue. The thing I like about her writing on writing is that she leaves a lot of flexibility for each author’s individual writing style, so her advice is easier to adapt than most. You might dip into her blog and see if it feels helpful to you. (Also, the comments are well-monitored and most commenters are also writers, so that can be helpful too.)

    12. Sagewhiz*

      Three titles par excellence, in order of recommendation:
      Writing Fiction, Janet Burroway. She’s a renowned professor as well as author. The book is basically her college text.
      The Emotional Craft of Fiction, Donald Maass. A top lit agent also known for his many books on craft.
      The Art of X-ray Reading, Roy Peter Clark. One of several by a master essayist, former dean of Poynter Institute. How learning to read between the lines of great writing empowers the work we produce.

      (Whereof I speak: 30+ yrs as independent non-fiction & fiction writer/editor, memoir teacher, book coach. I’ve read way too many, and in my estimation these are hands-down the best on *secrets* of the craft.)

    13. RagingADHD*

      “Wired for Story” by Lisa Cron is an excellent and very useful perspective on developing characters whose deep inner needs and motivations drive the plot, and exploring how plot impacts characters.

      I also got a lot from Janet Evanovich’s “How I Write.” Nothing mind-blowing, but some useful, practical info about structure & the writing process. She may not be a literary artiste, but she’s extremely effective and a lot of people enjoy her books.

      I consult “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” frequently. It is more about style than plot and character, but it certainly helps you think about the experience you’re creating for the reader, and has helpful insight on things like point of view and exposition.

      I enjoyed On Writing, Bird by Bird, and several other writers’ memoirs, but they are (as others pointed out) more about philosophy and the writer’s own experiences. They aren’t about technique.

  12. Lizzie*

    Anne Lamont’s book Bird by Bird is full of writing tips, and a very engaging read too

  13. Sera*

    Anyone have recommendations for escapist TV shows along the lines of ‘Marvellous Mrs Masiel’, ‘The Bold Type’ or ‘Emily in Paris’? Basically shows with very high production value and beautiful sets/locations/costumes, and that are relatively light in tone?

    (I’m sure there are people who judge those who watch these types of saccharine shows, but who cares)

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      “Bridgerton” (although lots of $ex)
      “Killing Eve” (I think the tone is light but the main character is an assassin)

      1. RadNP*

        As someone who lives saccharine shows and will not watch anything violent/anxiety producing/unpleasant I found the two episodes I watched of Killing Eve very traumatic – tons of graphic violence including violence against women which are very triggering to me. Obviously YMMV but I wanted to share that warning.

      2. Turtles*

        I love killing eve, and it’s really funny, but I don’t think I’d call it light in tone! I found it quite an intense show

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      Bridgerton (on Netflix) might fit the bill: it’s a regency era romance, with slightly porny elements.

      And I’m not judging you. Sure, there’s times I want to engage with deep philosophical topics through books or shows (like Westworld), but that takes energy. It’s not something I’d relax to after a difficult day.

      1. Lindsay*

        And for movies, you might want to check out Jane Austen adaptations. The latest version of Emma is very funny and has amazing costumes/is fairly light in tone. The Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle Pride and Prejudice miniseries is also a great go-to. I watch once a year. I also like silly 90s romantic comedies – Pretty Woman, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, etc.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          The great mystery writer P.D. James did a book a la Jane Austen called
          “Death Comes to Pemberley” and it was quite well done.

      2. Astoria*

        Seconding All Creatures Great and Small. Wholesome without being sappy, and beautiful Yorkshire countryside.

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      If you’re OK with crime dramas, then how about Death In Paradise? It’s gently paced and not very graphic, and the scenery (it’s set on a Caribbean island) is lovely to look at.

      And no judgement here – personally I love an escapist show, and sometimes it’s exactly what’s needed. Especially given the last year, and well… *gestures at everything*

      1. allathian*

        In the same vein, The Ladies’ Number One Detective Agency, set in Zimbabwe. It’s a crime show, but it’s mainly small stuff rather than murder. I found it fulfilled some of my cravings for period drama while being a light show, simply because it’s set in an environment I’m not at all familiar with.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I was so disappointed to discover they didn’t make more than one season. His books are my current go-to for happy, escapist reading.

        2. Chaordic One*

          I was really set not to like this because I found the books to be kind of “meh.” I was so very wrong and ended up being utterly charmed by it. Aside from being entertaining light TV, it challenged my preconceptions of what Africa might be like and opened my eyes to possibilities. Yes, it was sad they only made a single season.

    4. Baffled Teacher*

      Yes, definitely Bridgerton! If you want to keep to the historical theme, the recent Vanity Fair, (starring Olivia Cooke) on Prime is fabulous, and so is the Emma with Anya Taylor-Joy. Bonus is that they star a lot of the same people, hahaha.

    5. Jen*

      Miss Fisher mysteries? Australian mystery show where the main character’s wardrobe is impeccable.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        This was a great series. Clothes and sets were fabulous. Actually if you like mysteries the Poiret series that David Suchet did may fit the bill too.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      The Good Place – wholesome and funny

      Pushing Daisies – visual candy, super cute

      Miss Fisher – murder mysteries (not graphic), witty, great historical costuming/setting

      1. zaracat*

        With Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, seasons 1 & 2 are based on the books and are fantastic with really thorough background historical research having gone into each story; season 3 episodes aren’t and it does show. Still okay though.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I love Pushing Daisies but there are some fairly graphic in a cartoonish way depictions of dead people.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      Oh! The Anne of Green Gables miniseries starring Megan Follows. It’s my favorite comfort show.

    8. violet04*

      I loved Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. There are some sad parts in it, but I loved the ending and overall felt good about watching it.

      Ted Lasso on Apple doesn’t necessarily have beautiful sets, etc. but I found it to be a really feel-good show.

    9. Medea*

      I absolutely adored The Baby-Sitters Club on Netflix. It’s super sweet and the stress level is really loe. Also, it’s well-acted, the cast’s diverse, and it’s about young girls taking things into their own hands.
      (My original comment disappeared.)

    10. CatCat*

      The Durrells in Corfu might fit the bill though it gets weightier toward the end of the series. Based on a real life family. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

    11. Ginger ale for all*

      I think you can try Britbox free for a week. They have many titles mentioned above. They have some delightful cozy mysteries that might suit you.

    12. Here for the Randomness*

      I would add early Columbo episodes which are now free via Peacock and IMDBtv. The early episodes feel like they are period pieces.
      Miracle Workers is also a delight. The cast is fantastic.

      1. NRG*

        I LOVE Columbo! Especially season one. And I hadn’t though about it before but it is old enough that the normal clothes of the day now feel like costumes. I don’t know that I would call it “light” though.

    13. Charlotte Lucas*

      Detectorists is a sweet, gentle comedy that takes its time with some beautiful shots of the English countryside.

      For pure feel-good viewing, I like Good Witch. Sometimes it’s nice to watch a show where you know everything will always turn out OK in the end.

    14. Coenobita*

      My favorite escapist show is actually Royal Pains, the medical procedural! Of course, there aren’t period costumes or anything, but there are a lot of pretty houses and fancy parties (it’s set in the Hamptons), and it’s essentially a light-hearted show full of beautiful people who want to do the right thing. Might not be for you if you are squicked out by medical talk, but there isn’t any major gore or grossness.

      2000s-era USA procedurals are my favorite, in general – White Collar is another one I have watched and rewatched (omg Matt Bomer). I can’t stand Psych for some reason but everyone I know assures me that it’s just because I’m weird. :)

      I also second the recommendation for Grace & Frankie!

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        I really did love Royal Pains. Hank Lawson was the MacGyver of the medical world!

      2. Pharmgirl*

        Yes, all of those “character’s welcome” shows on USA were great! Monk, Psych, White Collar, Burn Notice

    15. Sybil Carpenter*

      Gilmore Girls, if you haven’t already seen it. Same writer as Mrs. Maisel (Amy Sherman-Palladino) similar feel re: snappy dialogue with heartfelt moments.

    16. MCL*

      Bridgerton is definitely big on the costumes and production value, you must be okay with some sexual content. My folks are big on The Crown, I have never watched it but seems to be high production value and the costumes do indeed look great, Victoria might also be up your alley. Outlander has a lot of gorgeous costumes and is totally escapist, but I think it’s pretty violent sometimes, and some of the sexual violence is pretty graphic. I’ve only seen through season 2 of GLOW, but it’s a female-driven comedy/drama with fun costumes (in a different way), and I’ve enjoyed it.

  14. Loopy*

    A massive thanks to everyone who posted recommendations for food blogs last weekend. I did NOT expect the amount of responses! I actually did end up trying a peanut sauce recipe from cookie and kate and it was absolutely what I was looking for: I had everything on hand, it was as easy as possible (put into bowl and mix) and the comments were actually helpful (I started with less vinegar than she recommended and it was good feedback). I LOVED it and enjoyed it throughout the week.

    Although, after posting I realized that if I get a lot of responses I always really want to reply to each. Then I get overwhelmed because I feel like I need to by Sunday evening so folks see them. I then get stressed because it becomes something on my to do list and Monday is looming and weekends are never long enough….then I don’t reply at all! Reading is not stressful but then my brain translates replying into a task that’ll take at least x amount of time and I think of all the other things I need to do before bed on Sunday. So, I wanted to say I love this community and am so grateful for everyone’s help but man, I am just not very good at it! Anyone else ever feel that way? I think it’s because I feel like there’s this Sunday night deadline if I going to reply so it creates this weird internal stress!

    1. Courageous cat*

      Nah. I don’t think you need to worry about it – no one comments and is like “boy I better keep checking back to see if someone thanked me”. Out of sight, out of mind.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks, when you put it that way it does seem silly to feel so bad! I think it was more that I like to contribute to the community type vibe here so I felt weirdly guilty!

    2. Alex*

      I love Cookie and Kate’s peanut sauce! Yum. Glad you enjoyed it too.

      I think you are overthinking comments! There is no need to respond to everyone who responds to you.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks for the reassurance. I usually don’t feel so bad or anxious there were just so many comments and I completely ghosted on the whole post :P I do like to contribute to the weekend thread having an interactive vibe though, so I think I felt a bit worse that I didn’t reply to ANYONE. But I’m glad no one seems too bothered. I certainly appreciated all the advice and even used it immediately!

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Oh I totally get your brain loop on this one! I’ve gotten better with my version of it over time. As a commenter, I do love getting thanked and seeing what people write in response. But, in my opinion, it is a cherry-on-top experience. That means I’m excited when it happens, but I don’t think less of the person–what I think is that they probably got overwhelmed/distracted/life happened/are taking a well deserved nap/whatever, and that they didn’t have time but are still thankful in spirit. I mean, I want the people here in this community to be out and about living excellent, amazing, full lives far more than I want a perfectly timed thank you! :) So I say: give yourself a break from the guilt-stress if you can.

    4. Coenobita*

      I made the Nigella peanut noodle recipe last week based on this thread! I made so much that we are still eating it and it’s GOOD :)

      I always enjoy seeing responses to my comments but never even think of it if someone doesn’t comment. This is meant to be fun – don’t let it stress you out!

  15. Jo*

    Anyone else ever had a sudden realization that work frustrations are bubbling over into your personal life in weird and not so wonderful ways?

    I’m on a project at work that isnt going as well as I’d like, with the big theme being that I feel…somewhat out of control and dont have a lot of clarity on what is expected of me. I realised this week that that has somehow manifested in me feeling like I want every personal conversation to be super well defined and very clearly articulated in a way that isnt particularly helpful. I want to turn every conversation into: “But can you specify exactly what you mean by that?” I’m also finding I have a lot less patience for people and just wish everyone would be super direct and clear with saying what it is that they want or when making plans.

    Interestingly enough, it was the post about working at the majority autistic company that pinged this lightbulb for me. I’ve not been formally diagnosed but I’ve read enough to know I have some of those traits. Its never been an issue in the past, but I seem to have managed to find just the right combination of stressors (the general state of the world also isnt helping) to bring up some of these in ways I had genuinely never anticipated!

    1. Pregnant during COVID*

      I think it makes a lot of sense that you’re craving a sense of control, clarity, and clearly defined expectations in your personal life in reaction to the lack of the same in your work life right now. My job is often like this and when it gets overwhelming I react in the same way. What helps me is focusing on hobbies that have a beginning, middle, end; clear “rules” to follow; where I can set the pace. For me that’s knitting, baking, and reading.

      1. Jo*

        Hm, trying to focus on clearly defined hobbies or even setting mini, achievable goals makes sense.

        Covid means a lot of my usual outlets for when I’m frustrated arent available and I dont think I have a good set of alternatives just yet. Will definitely have a think about this…

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This sounds like fatigue. When I am tired I end up saying things like ,”The point?! The point?!” or “That was a TODAY thing!”
      The need to push people or things along can ride on fatigue. I’d suggest have a cut off time – a drop dead time where you go to bed no matter what. Stick to it 7 days a week.
      If my theory about fatigue is correct, this may be happening because you are older now. This hit me about age 34 and it’s never really left. I just make sure I get rest so I can have some patience about me.

      The hardest part about going to bed on time was shutting the tv off. Oh just one more show, then oh, just one more… yeah. No. I had to quit the tv and go to bed.

      1. Jo*

        Interesting theory. I dont know if its physical fatigue so much as mental fatigue if that makes sense? I’ve actually found myself going to bed earlier in the hope that being well rested will mean I’m more equipped to deal with the inevitable frustrations of life, but it doesnt seem to have made much difference so far!

        I do have a few other bad habits that I’ve let creep in which probably do need addressing though. Meal prep in particular is one I need to get back on.

        Actually, typing this has made me remember that decision fatigue is also a thing, and likely to be one of the factors here…

        1. Sally*

          I relate. My mom’s voice was trailing off multiple times in a conversation and I go ”complete the sentence”. I was laughing when I said that but I later felt that it was an unnecessary comment. This need of extreme clarity on subjects is a habit which creeps in when I am stressed and worn out.

  16. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    For the small handful of folks here who have self-published books… has anyone had experience turning your book into an audiobook? The idea never crossed my mind until my mother-in-law, whose arthritis is too severe to hold a book or e-reader for a long period of time, said she’d love to read my book but could really only do so if it were an audiobook.

    If anyone did this, did you use a service (a quick search makes it seem there are many) and is there one you’d recommend? Did it cost a fortune? Did anyone do it themselves and still have a voice left at the end (my novel is nearly 91,000 words and would probably take a year to narrate)? Many thanks.

    1. allathian*

      I’m wondering if she could use a text-to-voice app? Sure, the voices sound a bit mechanic and a living human reading it would be better, but many people who are either blind or have similar issues to your MIL use them. Many if not most e-reader apps have that option. If you’re already self-publishing in an e-book format, this would certainly be cheaper than hiring a voice actor to read it.

    2. Filosofickle*

      I can’t give all the details, but a friend self-published her first book a few years back and then recorded it herself for distribution as an audio book via Audible. She got a little money back on each download. She did hire an independent sound engineer to help her record it at home. It was a few hundred at least but I don’t think it was crazy money.

    3. Pennyworth*

      Reedsy has a (free) course on ”How to create a great audio book”. Covers costs etc.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I’ve worked with a service provider on Reedsy and they have very high standards. But do be aware that when they give pricing info, that is a sales tactic to acclimate you to their extremely high prices.

        They deliver quality, for sure. But not every business model requires (or can support) white-glove service. I don’t regret hiring my last editor off Reedsy because she was awesome. But it took a LONG time to sell enough books to break even on that fee.

        You can find plenty of good, professional providers for less than their platform average.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I investigated the audiobook option early on, through Amazon’s internal platform. At the time, I wasn’t able to find an artist/producer I was happy with, that I could afford.

      The more experienced artists will only work for royalty share on projects with a very high sales track record. If you don’t already have that, you have to pay out of pocket, and the rates are (rightfully) steep.

      The artists who will work for royalty share on an unknown quantity are the newbies. You may be able to find a good match. I was probably too picky.

      I recorded one of my short stories as an audiobook, but never got around to editing it because I just didn’t love the result enough to spend the time.

      Audio production is a time-consuming technical process, on top of the time spent recording. If you can find a royalty-share artist you’re happy with, that’s probably your easiest on-ramp.

    5. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Thanks everyone. I’m literally expecting to sell about 17 of my books, honestly don’t expect anything more from an audiobook, and don’t have a budget to hire a pro — even an amateur — so I’m going to go a DIY route, for better or worse (I know this will be a ton of work). My wife suggested doing it as a podcast, so I’m now looking into that option if anyone has any feedback.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Nathan Lowell started out putting his books out as a podcast. Take a look at his eponymous site (dot com, iirc) or blog.

      2. MissCoco*

        I made a podcast with a friend – we spent about $60 on a mic which worked pretty well and would have worked better if we weren’t sharing it and could have gotten closer.
        There is a reason many podcasters joke about recording in closets, but a carpeted room and curtains on nearby walls/windows also works.

        I think he used a free editing software and we used podbean to host it – I think that has a small hosting fee of $9/month for unlimited storage, but is free for an option with 5 hours of storage.
        You can also do it for free with a little tech savvy/more interest in exploring websites than we had.

        Brace yourself for listening to your own voice though – our first couple editing/review sessions were a bit mentally painful till we got used to the very strange sound of hearing ourselves talk.

  17. aarti*

    Looking for advice/commiseration, especially because I feel like I need to change my own attitude around things.

    My father-in-law passed away a month ago, and after a lot of discussion in the wider family, it’s been decided that my mother-in-law will be staying with my husband and I for some time. In theory, this is not a forever thing. She has three kids (including Husband) and plans to rotate between them. This is something I always knew might happen, my husband and I both come from cultures where our elderly parents come to live with the kids. There’s aren’t really any elder care facilities in our country either, so living with relatives is the only real option.

    When my father-in-law was going through chemo, they stayed with us for about a month and it was really difficult. My mother-in-law has had a difficult life in a lot of ways and I have a lot of sympathy for her. But good lord, is she a challenging person to be around for long periods of time. She complains constantly, about everything. Our apartment, our city, our water quality, the cost of food, the quality of food, the heat, etc. She complains about all the other relatives in the family (which makes me 100% sure she’s complaining about me to them lol). About 50% of the time, I’m able to kind of shrug all this off because I understand it has more to do with her and her issues than with me. But I’m also pregnant and the constant negativity in my own house is bumming me out.

    I worked in an industry that was decimated by COVID and have been unemployed for the past year. My husband is an essential worker who is out of the house about 75% of the time. This means that most of the time I’m home alone with my mother-in-law. If this were a different time, I’d be able to get out more but I’m worried about the safety factor, especially since I’m pregnant. Plus it’s summer here (40+C temperatures) so wandering around outside during the day is not an ideal option either.

    Basically, I’d love advice from people who have had older, negative relatives stay with them. How did you cope? Especially when COVID has removed most of my coping strategies (work, going out, seeing friends, etc). I don’t think she’s going to change, so anything I can do to make the whole process more bearable? Thanks!

    1. LDN Layabout*

      You can’t really, without getting rid of her in some shape or form.

      I don’t say this without sympathy. My grandmother is exactly the same and we all love her, but she’s unbearable in the extreme. There’s nothing positive, in the world, ever, at least when she’s talking to relatives. My cousins and I often play the game of ply grandma with positive information and see if she’ll have a positive reaction to any of them. She will not.

      My family is from a similar culture and the only thing that’s helped is space. In our case, she has a small house close to several family members and my dad hired a woman to come visit/help her out every day. She gets frequent calls, visits and support but no one could cope with her being in the house 24/7 unless it was a granny annexe with actual separation.

    2. Ins mom*

      Your culture may not encourage this, but can you play the pregnancy card for sympathy with her? Sort of “need good thoughts for the baby’s sake”?

      1. aarti*

        Yes, I found this to be the most successful tactic when she was here before. Unfortunately, she’s so in the habit of complaining, I think she doesn’t even really register it as complaining. So I’ll say “Oh, I’m trying to only listen to/say good things” and she’ll agree that’s a good idea and then half an hour later she’s back to her complaints.

        I think we maybe need to be more direct with her. “YOU are complaining, please stop.” But I also feel bad. Her husband of 50+ years just died! It’s really a tough situation.

        1. Natalie*

          I think that’s a common experience when we first start to push a change or boundary like this! Scripts and such that are popular online kind of give the impression that you have one conversation with someone and bam! they never do the annoying behavior again, but that’s rarely the case in real life IME.

          I think if you can come up with some short phrase that feels natural and reasonably kind/gentle, it will be less exhausting to reset her over and over. After a little time and practice she will probably complain less. (Also this will come in handy for parenting.)

    3. Bagpuss*

      Do you have enough space to let her have a living room of her own, to be able to encourage her to have some time where she is in her own space?

      And / or a study or other area you can keep private for yourself?

      I think the other thing is that it’s OkK to have, and enforce, boundaries- talk to your husband ahead of time to make sure that you are on the same page- which might be things like you having some time each day in your own space when you are not available for MIL, but also accepting that sometimes you may be doing or not doing things which she criticises or sees as not being respectful , and your husband having your back.

      Build in some time for you as a couple, even if that’s just going for a walk round the block, or going to get takeout coffee, or going to bed early to watch tv, so you are still looking after your own well-being as well as hers.

      1. aarti*

        She has her own room/bathroom but the kitchen/living space is shared.

        Actually, she’s been super respectful of my boundaries when I set them around needing space. I’ll say I need to lie down or rest (blame the fetus lol!) and she’ll leave me alone for as long as I want. My husband has also made it very clear that I do not need to entertain her or spend the whole day with her, I should do my own thing. So those are some good things at least.

    4. Venus*

      After years of being pushed around, one of my family is pushing back with their mother. Mother is negative, although the opposite of your MIL as she is critical of the person in the moment yet talks well about everyone else. Yet the negativity to the primary carer is very hard. In my family, the carer finally had enough and politely asked to be treated more kindly as they were tired.

      Maybe you can ‘blame the baby’? Use similar wording to my family carer, “I am tired from the pregnancy, can you help me by talking about Happy Topic?”

      I very much realize that this might not work based on the culture and family dynamic, but hopefully you can find some way of pushing her to be a bit more pleasant. Good luck!

    5. c*

      I wish I had some happy advice but this happened to my mother with her mother. My mother never figured it out and it was … almost the worst thing that could have happened to my mom. Its like the advice here about toxic jobs, they warp your sense of things and that is what happened to my mom.

      You are going to need to repeat her comments to her in a neutral flat voice, “you hate the way SIL makes her mashed potatoes,” keep saying things like, “I guess we will have to agree to disagree,” and learn how to internally roll your eyes and chant “michael jackson popcorn gif” to yourself.

      I am not being glib, I think those things can help but this is really a pickle and you have every right to take the situation seriously and to take steps to protect yourself.

    6. Still*

      You say she plans to rotate between her three kids. Is there a way to plan for this already, so that everybody knows what to expect?

      It might be easier for you to know that she’s only going to stay with you for [three months, half a year, a year, etc], and then you hopefully won’t end up in a situation when everybody else gets used to her staying with you and the rotation doesn’t happen. Additionally, if you know exactly how long she’s gonna stay, you might be more realistic about what you need.

      1. aarti*

        That would be ideal! My brother-in-law and his family are currently moving states, and they’ll be in a hotel room while their living situation gets settled, so not an ideal situation for MIL. My sister-in-law and her husband both live and work in one of the biggest COVID hotspots in our country so, until MIL is vaccinated, we don’t really want to send her there either.

    7. L*

      Have a clear end date with all parties and plans for how the rotating will work. Else I fear you will have her forever. Is the plan for her to help with the baby and/or house? Be very clear what that does and does not entail. Best wishes.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I would think “rotating” among the kids could be very stressful for Mom as well as the family. Or she could enjoy all the attention, who knows? But having to adjust to different accommodations and sounds and sights all the time could be hard for an elderly person.

        It would be hard for me, I know. Splitting rent on a small apartment for her might make everyone happier; is that an option?

        1. aarti*

          It’s not really feasible in our country/culture for an elderly person to live alone like that. Even if it was an apartment right next to ours, husband and I would feel like we were abandoning her and she would certainly feel that way.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        Too often, the first turn-taker becomes the permanent caretaker. Make your first stint short, maybe 1-3 months. You need to know early on if the other siblings are going to honor this deal.
        Put this agreement in writing with actual dates for Mom’s moving to the next household. Even after a phone discussion, confirm the agreement details or changes in an email or text. This makes things very clear and hard to dispute later. Also, the other siblings should be required to take Mom for outings or an afternoon to give you a break while she lives with you.
        Best of Luck

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      Is she mentally present enough that you could just set a boundary about the negativity (not senile/won’t genuinely forget the next day)?

      Were you pregnant when it was decided that she would stay with you right now, and could you speed up her transition to someone else before the baby arrives?

      1. aarti*

        She’s mentally present but (and I commented on this above too) I think she’s been complaining for so long, it doesn’t even register as complaints anymore? She’s had a difficult life, her marriage with my FIL was not very pleasant, her own in-laws treated her really badly, so I can understand why she’s so negative about everything. Depending on my own mental state I can a) dismiss it as a quirk or b) let it really get under my skin, so that’s why I’ve been trying to find resources for managing it from my side since I don’t think she’s going to change.

        Actually, I’m hoping she’s with us when the baby arrives. It’s common in our culture for mothers/MIL to stay with us when the baby comes and I’ll want her help.

        1. Mangofan*

          I think it’s lovely how you are trying to figure out what you can do to manage the situation and trying to hold compassion for your MIL along with your own very legitimate and important needs.

          Since you say that your capacity to deal with it varies with your own mental state, one other suggestion I’d have (which may already be obvious to you, but in case it isn’t!) is to tune into what makes you feel well resourced vs. poorly resourced generally, and try to give yourself what you need as much as possible (e.g. good sleep, food that makes you feel good, exercise, things that bring you joy, things that bring you peace or relieve stress like meditation). I’ve found that meeting my general physical and emotional needs makes a radical difference in how resilient I am.

          Good luck!

    9. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Go into it with an open mind and full heart. With good intentions and make an effort. Do what you can to make her happy that’s within your power and in your means and doesn’t put a strain on you. If she’s a jerk then so be it. 

      #1 advice I’d give is — make sure the other kids stay involved and there are clear dates for when she’ll go! make sure she knows she’s only staying for a few months. Don’t let it turn into a permanent situation. Esp with a child coming. She may try to use that to stay, esp if she’s not the type of person who likes to move around.

      Things that are eye-rolling or cute or tolerable now will become unbearable. Since it is your MIL and not your own mother, it has to be on your husband to manage the relationship; I know in my culture (south asian) all that stuff falls to the DIL which is unfair. Again, Make sure the siblings don’t fob her off to you 100% and its unequal. 
      Make sure you and your husband are on the same page. Can’t stress this enough. Having a toxic difficult parent live with you can destroy a marriage. 
      My FIL passed away suddenly right after my husband and I got married; at the time everyone lived in one house (joint family system) but it was becoming difficult for the DILs to manage, especially since there were young kids and less space. Eventually she sold the family house and got her own apartment and lives alone. Everyone, including my husband, takes care of her in their own capacity. She seems to be doing well. I know in our general culture, an elderly parent living alone is seen as sad and pathetic and the kids must be oh so horrible, but she’s happy where she is – she could never live with anyone else. It also helps that she’s fairly healthy and takes care of herself. 

      On the flip side, my dad died suddenly and care suddenly fell to me. we always lived with my parents but they split their time between us, their home country and my brothers. They also had a network of ppl and were social. About 6 months after his death and her living iwth us exclusively, the flaws came front and center and I realized that she’s always been a toxic and a nasty person.
      It’s been 3 years now and things are pretty bad. I’ve lost love for her, she refuses to leave, my brother knows she’s toxic but expects me to care for her, and I’ll probably die before her. Living with her has ruined my life. She will never leave. 
      TLDR – make sure your husband and the other siblings step up and keep their end of the bargain.

      Maybe things will get better with enough love and attention – but that’s about as likely as a unicorn showing up at your door. It’s a fairy tale that’s pushed on to daughters/daughters in law so they stay in toxic situations. 

      Good luck. 

      1. aarti*

        Wow, sorry to hear about your situation.

        I wouldn’t call my MIL toxic, however. She’s a difficult person who has a had a difficult life, but is also great in many ways and I love her a lot. My husband and I are from different communities, and she was the first of his relatives to support us getting married. She cares about me and I care about her. That’s mostly why I am looking for advice on how to better prepare myself mentally for dealing with the negativity.

    10. Not A Manager*

      Yipes, that sounds challenging. Can you lean into the pregnancy? If it’s making you very, very tired so so much of the time, you might just need to sit quietly in your room with headphones on. Or if it’s making you slightly nauseous, perhaps you need to put on a mask and go for a walk for some fresh air.

      I cannot imagine living this way with an actual infant in the house. She’ll be constantly complaining about the baby and criticizing your parenting. I don’t like this “in theory, this is not a forever thing.” Can you make a concrete plan that she is going to move elsewhere once the baby arrives? You’ll never get a better excuse for her to move on than your understandable concern that an infant will be too loud and disruptive for her to be comfortable.

    11. lemon meringue*

      Do you have a sense of what she’s looking for when she complains? If she’s really after a receptive audience or looking to vent, you could try being as unsatisfying an audience as possible. Maybe offer an excessively cheery spin on everything she complains about, if you have the energy for this. If it annoys her enough, it might discourage her from coming to you with her complaints.

      If she’s otherwise reasonable, you could try instituting some privacy zones into your life. Maybe you’ve started taking a new online course or picked up volunteer work or are suddenly exhausted and need to nap a lot. Basically give yourself permission to take some time to yourself, even if you’re not working and can’t go out.

      1. aarti*

        I love this advice! I am naturally a very cheery person (plus I’m having a baby, so super excited about that).

      2. Venus*

        I used to spend time with a constant complainer and a friend. The friend and I decided to make it into a game, where we counted up the different topics each visit to see if the complainer could hit a new record. I don’t know if I would enjoy that game if played daily for months, but it helped us.

    12. Batgirl*

      How many days or weeks is it before it feels like a drag? My grandmother had this kind of expectation that she would come and live with us, but my mother (her daughter) has rock hard boundaries and her attitude towards it was always “hell no”, but she was very open to more temporary visits. It was kind of interesting to me because my mother is a really natural caretaker who enjoyed making sure her mother was ok. I think she just knew in her water that it wouldn’t work and how long she could do it before getting fed up. My nana wasn’t negative but she had some annoying habits and expectations. One time she faked a fall in her campaign to live with us and my mother’s attitude was “Ha ha no. I’m not falling for it”. So, she would visit her in her little pensioner house very often and chat, or help before going home. Also my nan would stay with us, for like a week, quite often. You could tell mum had done her internal sums on how long she could genuinely be hospitable and welcoming for. When she got hints about elongating the stay, she just said no. My nan went round her nine children on frequent visits, as well as taking multiple trips throughout the year so there was no reason she needed to live with us except she wanted to. My mother’s calculus was never “if she’s not with someone else, she needs to be here”, it was more “I can offer a week every other month in my house cheerfully and I don’t want to find out what happens when I’m doing this grudgingly”.

    13. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      Aarti, you have my sympathy and condolences. I don’t know your culture and what would/would not be acceptable so YMMV…
      Boundries can be your friend. I had to set firm boundries with my dad. Long story short, he got really sick, needed me to run his small buisness. After he recovered, expected me to continue running it while working my own full time job. The stress caused me to have a supraventriculer tachycardia that came close to killing me. That’s when I learned to say no. I learned that I do NOT have to accept being berated and guilted into things, that I don’t have to listen to the negative comments, and that I don’t have to allow myself to be verbally abused.
      Aarti, I hope that you can do that too. Like I said, I don’t know your culture and this will work for you. When MIL begins spooling up, can you ignore her? Can you step into another room or go for a walk? Can you tell her, in the most understanding voice you can muster, that her negative words/actions are unacceptable, and won’t be tolerated? And most of all, will your spouse back you up on this? Because they really need to. This can be a BIG strain on your marriage as well. You don’t need that kind of stress, and your little one doesn’t either. Stress can be a killer,literally. I don’t know if any of this will help,and I’m sure other commenters will have better advice. But please don’t let it get as bad as I did.

    14. Esmeralda*

      Make sure you are crystal clear on how long MIL will be staying with you, who she’s going to next and when, and make sure your husband completely has your back re moving MIL to the next location and will not crumble in the face of MIL or his siblings wheedling or guilting him into keeping her longer. Maybe even buy the plane ticket to the next place now and make sure everybody involved knows what that date is.

      Your husband also needs to take the initiative with his mother and let her know what the house expectations are for behavior. If you get to a point where you need space and want to lock yourself in your room away from her, then he needs to let her know that HE WANTS YOU TO DO IT and HE WANTS HER TO GIVE YOU SPACE. You cannot do this yourself and you should not be the point-man on boundary setting.

    15. Burnt eggs*

      Tried commenting, then page reloaded suddenly, sorry if this is duplicated.
      Have a pre-move in meeting and set then post a schedule, 8-11 is housework and laundry, 1-4 is alone time, 6-9 is group family time. This gives everyone time to recharge and a time to come together. Certain tasks are her responabilty so she feels as though she is contributing, and even if she folds every towel the wrong way, you let it go because she may hate how you wash dishes ;-).
      Encourage/require)?) her to develop some hobbies and start new ones…knit hats for NICU babies, pet the animals at a shelter, play cards at a senior center, paint, write out family stories, recipes, label all those old photos, genealogy….something – anything which takes some of her time and helps her feel valued and have a bit of control in her own life.

      And don’t be afraid to say in the middle of a negative rant, ‘Marta, I really need you to say three positive things right now.’

      Acknowledge that it will be rough for her and you.

      1. aarti*

        Thank you for this advice, this is really great. I especially like the idea of breaking up the day.

        My MIL would do literally all the household chores, plus cooking if I let her. She loves to stay busy. When she was here before, we sort of got into a routine where she’d handle lunch (tends to be out biggest meal of the day) and I’d make breakfast and dinner.

        She loves sewing, so maybe I’ll look into getting her a sewing machine for use at home?

        Your last point is really important too. I know it’s tough for her to a)lose her husband and b)have to move out of the home they shared for so many years. I’m trying to have a lot of compassion for her also

    16. Ginger ale for all*

      Why not be honest with her? Before she moves in, talk to each other about how each party is going to behave with one another? Let her know that her negativity is hard for you to deal wth. And keep in mind that she would also have the right to say something about you and your husband so you both know her triggers. My mother would always comment about people’s weight. I asked her why she would say things about people’s sizes and she looked up in surprise and agreed with me that she did that but hadn’t realized how bad it was. She comments less often on people’s weight now. You may even think about having a code word like, say pineapples, to use when you want to signal to her that you have had your fill and you need a break. That way, it might delineate that you still love her but it is too much for you at this time and you need to recharge by yourself for a while. She can do the same thing.

    17. chi chan*

      My advice is don’t do it. My grandfather came to live with us one- third of each year and it destroyed my life practically. My mother regressed to a pleasing him and the whole family suffered, and still do. Lots of tension and new rules. I left for college but honestly will never forgive my mother.

    18. Masschick*

      I think I come from the same culture :-)

      Figure out how you can retire to your private space in between the times you do have to be with her (meal times, kitchen time, etc). Maybe because you have a freelance WFH project or training/course? Where you will be busy and behind closed doors.

      If you can set her up with accessible entertainment (TV, books, whatever floats her boat) and start disappearing for longer periods, hopefully this will help tolerate/accept her negativity when you have to be in her company.

      Also in my experience, it takes time to get used to others in your space. Even if it is your own mother or someone you are comfortable with.

      Good luck!

    19. Mangofan*

      Man, that sounds challenging. A few assorted thoughts:
      – The Captain Awkward blog has a lot of advice on setting boundaries with difficult family members. Adjust as appropriate to your situation (I suspect her advice is not necessarily fully calibrated for the cultural context you’re in, having read the blog and coming from an Indian background myself).
      – Try practicing lovingkindness meditation. Even doing it for 5-10 min once in awhile will help you build the capacity to use those “muscles” more spontaneously in the moment when you are in an irritating situation with her, and I’ve found it really helpful for soothing / softening my reaction to interpersonal challenges. UCLA has some free guided meditations here (this is the 2nd time I’ve posted a link to them tonight lol, I guess I have them on the brain) https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/mindful-meditations

    20. Maree*

      We have a different cultural background but my dad lives with us for a year during medical treatment and it was tricky. Things that helped:
      * I declared every day after lunch ‘rest time’ (I was a SAHM) and sent everyone, including me to bedrooms for an hour to read.
      * I put in a vegetable garden, which have dad a purpose and a place to hide from us when he needed to. Also a neutral topic of conversation and meeting place to chat.
      * I kept some of his food traditions (fish on Friday, roast lunch Sunday) which gave me room for some of my stuff on other days.
      * I got him a TV for his room (he said he didn’t need one but it helped).
      * I cooked dinner while the TV news was on so that I was unavailable to watch it with him. I tried never to discuss news (!).
      * I never once set foot in his bedroom, nor he in mine. Private space is private. I wish we had another sitting room, we were talking about it but it wasn’t needed.
      * Helped him find a peer group. He was lonely with just us. Much happier with people of shared generation and interests.
      Good luck. I think a big part is choosing to view people positively and give them all the grace that you can. Get them involved with their own friends and the battle is half won.

      1. Maree*

        I should say, I chose to talk about my dad because he has a similar personality to your MIL by the sounds. (And being treated for a dreadful illness is probably similar in some ways to being bereaved). I’ve gone back and read some other comments and wanted to say that my grandmother lived with us through my childhood and it was wonderful! I loved having her there and she was a second mother to me. It worked well and my mother has never complained about it or mentioned being unhappy. It can work! (And my grandmother could be pouty at times and like most elderly could be set in her ways).
        Best wishes to you and your family, I hope your experience is a good one.

    21. Sparkles McFadden*

      The negative people get more negative when they feel like they are losing control of their lives. Even the positive people get angry about a situation like this.

      The best you can do is carve out private time and space for everyone. Privacy is important.

      I n my experience, the best thing is to be straightforward about it all! I think a lot of people try to ignore reality in an attempt to avoid adding tension to the situation, but I found the opposite to be true. A lot of people try not to state the obvious out of respect or because a parent’s changing condition is frightening to all, but there’s nothing wrong with facing it head-on. Saying “You are driving me crazy today!” or “I am on edge today so I’m going to avoid everyone for a bit” really lets off some steam.

      Of course everyone is different, but my elderly parents were far more comfortable with me than with my siblings because they didn’t feel like they had to put on a happy face and could grouse about things if they wanted to.

  18. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    My tomato and pepper seedlings have their first true leaves! The garlic and flower bulbs closest to the house are just poking up out of the ground. It feels like winter is finally losing its grip.

    1. HannahS*

      How exciting! My tomato and basil seeds only arrived a few days ago, so I’ve planted them in an egg carton and am waiting for the wee seedlings to pop up.

      1. Venus*

        I am always so happy about how quickly they pop up. I’m not sure about basil, but my tomato seedlings had starting leaves within a week, and the peppers took several weeks but are doing well. It is now 3 weeks and the tomatoes are a couple inches high and just about to start their second set of true leaves. Good luck with yours!

    2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Things are starting to bloom but of course it’s forecast to freeze tomorrow. I have some plant fleece and I’m going to wrap up a few things in the hopes that I don’t lose all my fruit for the second year in a row.

    3. Confused Single Mom*

      My daughter and I planted seeds and about half of them are sprouting now! However, I’ve never done this before. When do I transplant them to outside planters? I know I need to watch out for any surprise frosts and I’m in the southern part of the US.

      1. Venus*

        The best thing is to look it up online. I found one example by searching for South Carolina safe time to plant tomato seedlings, and I will post it separately as it will be moderated briefly. Not only did it have tomatoes, but it had all the details for each type of plant.

        For tomatoes, you ideally want the nights to be about 50F as they do really well in warmth.

        It is also very important to ‘harden’ the seedlings, by putting them outdoors for more and more time each day. It’s strange to consider, but plants can be killed by sunburn. I have a deck with railings, so I put them outdoors so that they get alternating sun and shade very often during the day. As the sun moves across the sky, the light between the thick rails gives them enough shade that they harden quickly. Again, a quick online search will give you all the info you need for this.

        In the past few years I have started to plant my seedlings a couple weeks early, provided that there is no threat of frost in the forecast. There is always a chance that there will be frost if the temperatures unexpectedly drop, but if so then I would put out an old sheet to cover them up. I also have the advantage that I always start too many seeds, so I plant a bunch outdoors and then wait until the risk of frost is completely done at which time I share the rest of my unplanted seedlings with friends and family and neighbors.

    4. TX Lizard*

      My herbs are growing! Almost time to thin them out but I don’t want to! I know it helps but the same part of me that over waters doesn’t want to pull healthy looking sprouts.
      (Also, in the Place That Shall Not Be Mentioned, my habitat restoration transplants are taking off like crazy! I am so good at large scale plant stuff, and so, so, so bad at little home gardening. Whyy???)

    5. Natalie*

      Anyone have favorite resources for designing raised beds? We won’t be putting in the vegetable garden until May, but the snow has already thawed, so this year I’m finally going to build boxes (or have them built) before veg season.

      1. Venus*

        It’s typically recommended to do 4ft x 8ft. Anything more than 4ft is too wide to reach into (your arms can get to about 2ft on each side) and pieces of wood longer than 8ft tend to bow more or they aren’t as flat to the ground along the entire side.

        I buy corner pieces, either metal or plastic, and then buy wood to go with them.

        What other info would be useful?

        1. Natalie*

          Just general dimensional considerations like this, I suppose. And, as Pippa K mentioned, I’m aware wood has risen in price significantly so I’m curious about metal structures.

      2. Pippa K*

        We’re building another raised bed to expand our garden this year, and the price of wood is much higher than last year, unfortunately. Agree with Venus on the 4×8 size; it’s convenient and easy to assemble from 8-foot boards. It takes about a pickup truck bed’s worth of soil to fill a box that size.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My yard is full of volunteer green onions, which cracks me up. There were also two stray daffodil bulbs apparently left in my front garden when we replanted it last year, which I noticed approximately three seconds after I was lamenting that I wish IIIIIIII had some daffodils, everyone else’s daffs are so pretty! (So I’m going to plan this fall to plant some daffs around the mailbox and maybe in between the hostas under my cherry tree.)

      I went to Lowe’s yesterday to pick up grip tape (for the ramp we built for my senior arthritic dog to make it easier for her to get off the deck to do her business – the grip tape isn’t enough, so an outdoor runner is now on the way) and left with a rosemary plant, a gardenia, and two more raspberry bushes to plant in the back yard.

      Aerogarden question – the lettuces and such are still producing like gangbusters, but I can also see some algae and such around the edges of the deck openings. How do I know when it’s time to empty the unit out, clean it and such, and start a new batch?

      1. Natalie*

        The prior owner of our house planted “walking onions” – they’re aptly named. I find new ones every year in a random part of the garden.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The nearly garden center has opened — I used restraint and came home with a little pack of pansy seedlings, a small tarragon to replace the one that did not overwinter, and some flower seeds to sow in the garden this weekend. This consoles me for the 3 daffodil bulbs I planted last fall that are not coming up.
      I planted the seeds from an overlooked cherry tomato just to see what happens.
      And we moved the overwintered fig from the garage to my home office — it is a joy to watch, with leaves growingalmost visibly.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Pansies are in, the weeding before seeding will take longer than expected.

    8. Jen*

      My basil didn’t survive the freeze. I am trying to learn to prune apple trees (previous owner was a fruit tree fan). I have some strawberries coming in too.

      1. Jen*

        I am not an experienced gardener but bought the house of a dedicated gardener with a lot of fruit trees. So I need to figure a lot of stuff out.

    9. bibliothecaria*

      I do container gardening of lettuces/arugulas/mustard greens and some herbs, but probably won’t be able to start until late May. I’ve just ordered my seeds.

    10. Never Nicky*

      I spent all afternoon in the potting shed potting on my various flower and vegetable seedlings.

      I am all out of pots (including the ones I recycled from the takeout coffee cups – of which there were a LOT!), windowsill space, bench space and no doubt in a month or so, tub and garden space …

      But it was nice to think of the future, and the past – my grandparents were probably doing the same tasks 70 years ago and their parents a century ago …

    11. allathian*

      The tulips and daffodils we planted last fall have sprouted, spring is really here! Even if it’ll take another month before they bloom, I’m so happy!

  19. Virtual Light*

    I need a script for a friend who is in a natural health & beauty MLM. I have long felt uncomfortable that she was monetizing our friendship’s support expectations under the guise of helping me with these products. (FWIW, she is not required to buy inventory upfront and does not seem to be in danger of losing money.)

    I have progressed, with mounting annoyance, through ignoring and to firmer “no” statements over the past several years. I thought I had finally given a categorical NO, but it seems there’s always another angle. Now the spiel is that she knows it’s not for me, but she wants my coworkers to have the opportunity to earn more through her MLM. [Spoiler: They do not want this opportunity.]

    I would like our friendship to be about what we still have in common. It makes me angry that she is spending rare contact time to read me scripts for this overpriced stuff that I’ve never expressed any interest in, and my anger/ feelings of powerlessness put greater distance between us. Whereas she just checks me off her list and goes about her day, oblivious to my feelings.

    How can I kindly say that I never want to hear about this again, in a way that a person in an MLM mindset will hear? I hate conflict but am more willing to have a conflict, if necessary, than to ghost a friend of such long standing.

    1. sequined histories*

      “I would like our friendship to be about what we still have in common” seems honest and kind. You might add, “When you call me for the purpose of trying to sell more stuff, I feel like I’m not actually your friend any more. I want to talk to you, but only when you’re taking a break from networking and selling.”

      1. Virtual Light*

        Thank you, that is helpful. I’ve been so stuck on my feelings of anger and discomfort that more neutral words that I could actually *say* comfortably weren’t coming to me.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Yes, there’s a good chance she’ll get mad and say you “don’t support her” but if you’re kind and direct and focus on how you feel/what you need from the friendship rather than the MLM itself, you’ll have done what you can to salvage things. I’m sorry she’s treating you like this.

        1. Virtual Light*

          Thank you, it means a lot to hear an outside party say that she’s not treating me well. Part of how the whole thing is so insidious.

          I did call and leave a voice message with a shortened/ softened script very much like the one above, basically saying that I want to talk about friend stuff but not business stuff because it makes me uncomfortable, and asking to be taken off her networking list, while also saying I’d like to see her whenever it’s safe. We’ll see!! Mostly I’m proud of myself for setting a boundary, even if I did have to write it out and record it three times.

          1. Dark Macadamia*

            Good for you! I hope she listens. Remember that the main fault here lies with the MLM for pushing this attitude, then your friend for embracing it, and not you at all.

    2. TX Lizard*

      If you are on Reddit, r/antiMLM has some good scripts, income info and factsheets for specific MLMs, and people to commiserate with.

      1. Elle Woods*

        I second this. Parts of Reddit can be complete cesspools of awfulness, but that particular subreddit is a pretty good one. Lots of helpful resources about identifying if something is an MLM, what to say to requests to join, etc.

      2. Virtual Light*

        Thank you! I had a look – there’s a lot there! There really are a lot of parallels with cults – the all-important human feeling of belonging, but then the hidden conditions where any success is due to the amazing organization that loves you so much, but failure is because you’re just not trying hard enough, or because killjoy friends and family don’t support your amazing new thing.

        It’s kind of psychologically fascinating but also ruinous because of the way the required double-think messes with your brain and changes your view of what’s “normal,” while sinking you in deeper. Then undoing the double-think requires you to come to turns with the distressing fact that you were conned. (Can you tell I was a Scientology watcher?)

        1. Bulu Babi*

          Anna’s Analysis on YouTube has a series about MLMs (she goes through the specific examples of some sort of water purifier product, but talks about general traits). It’s… Very enlightening, especially about the sorry of pressure that vendors are under. You know your friend best, and can judge whether something along the lines of “please never try to sell me this, I’ll never buy, but if you ever want to get out, I’m here for you and we can figure it out together” would work. You know, like you would talk to a friend with an addiction of in an unhealthy relationship.

      3. traffic_spiral*

        Yup. You can’t treat this normally because you’re not just going up against her – you’re going up against her entire MLM cult who keep telling her that she needs to keep pushing this on you the same way any other cultist would keep trying to talk about Jesus, Dianetics, the wonders of Kylo Ren and Rey’s romance, or whatever. Extra skill is required.

    3. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      It sounds like your friend doesn’t know how to take a hint. Can you sit them down and have a no B.S. talk with them? Maybe a omething like…(Friend), I know this MLM thing is a big deal to you, and I can accept that. You do your thing with it and I wish you success with it. But it’s not something I’m willing to be involved with. No one I know in other areas of my life are interested in being involved with it. So please,I’m asking you to keep our friendship based on what made us friends in the first place and not the MLM. There are more facets to our relationship than this. Let’s focus on those,please, because any involvement in any aspect of this MLM you ask of me from now going forward will be a hard no. Are you willing to do this?”
      Thier response will guide you on if this friendship can be salvaged or not.

    4. Natalie*

      One way to think about it might be like a work problem – sometimes you have to name the pattern. It sounds like you’ve been hoping that she will hear X amount of “No”s and stop asking, but that has obviously not happened so far, and you’re getting increasingly annoyed. So now you are at the point where you have to say some version of “please stop asking me to buy these products, period”.

    5. allathian*

      I can understand that you don’t want to ghost a friend of such long standing. The most successful sellers are usually those who don’t try to sell to their friends, but build a separate professional network of clients and resellers lower down the chain. At least, they get to keep their social network as well.

      If your friend doesn’t get this, I’m afraid that your friendship is probably unsalvageable. Out of respect for your long-standing friendship it might be a kindness to both her and yourself to calmly tell her that you can no longer be her friend, because she’s so committed to her MLM that she won’t talk about anything else with you and won’t accept the fact that you aren’t interested.

    6. Virtual Light*

      Thank you all for your kind thoughts and words of wisdom. I did leave a voice message yesterday saying that I would prefer to talk about friendship and not business because it makes me uncomfortable, and to be taken off her network list. She replied thanking me for my words (with the “thank you” hands emoji, which – emojis DO work to convey emotion) and changing the subject to doing an outdoor get together. So I think that was a success.

      While she enjoys it and likes her friends she does the MLM with, I don’t think she’s gone hugely down the rabbit hole. She doesn’t *need* the money they promise, and has done it at a pretty low-key level for a few years now. I honestly think that she was just following the directions she has been given to contact the people in her network and choose a script to read to them every x weeks/ months because that’s her role in the organization and she wants to fulfill it, without thinking about what it can do to relationships.

      Anyhow, we’re back on track, and if she ever slips up I’ll feel comfortable just reminding her of what I said. Thanks again to all – this is a huge relief.

  20. Data nerd*

    Does anyone have any good websites about Covid variant statistics, like R value comparisons, illness rates, and that sort of thing?

    I like data and have been looking online but there is so much random info that it has been a struggle to find actual numbers. A lot of experts with their own results, but no sources.

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Marion Ravenwood*

      It’s UK-specific but I find the King’s College London COVID Symptom Study very interesting for this sort of thing (though aware the data might skew slightly as it’s based around app users self-reporting and I don’t think they report the R value any more). The guy who leads the study, Professor Tim Spector, also does YouTube videos which look at the weekly results in a bit more depth.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      Do you want the raw data/stats available or something that someones already done the work on to at least do some summarisation?

      NHS England and ONS are the UK sources for data that covers deaths, hospital data and vaccinations. Other countries will have their own equivalents (I imagine the CDC in the US? Although with a non-centralised/heavily privatised healthcare system I imagine the data availability might differ).

      WHO have a top level look across the world but it’s, probably by necessity, very top level.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Sorry, my brain skipped right over variant data, I’ve not seen a lot of information/data sets on the variant spreads themselves yet.

      2. Data Nerd*

        Sorry, I thought I responded but I guess not!
        I’m happy with either raw data or analysis, as I can do it myself but don’t mind if someone else has.
        Thanks for the info, and I will look to see what is on the NHS sites. I also note your comment about not seeing a lot of variant data, which in a way makes me feel better if I’m looking without success as I’m glad it’s not just me.

    3. pancakes*

      Maybe try searching “covid variation dataset” rather just data? For me that brought up a number of sites that might interest you, including local data on the nyc dot gov site and something called the “UCSC genome browser,” a UC Santa Cruz site that looks like a good resource.

    4. LCS*

      Google “The Visual Capitalist”. It’s a great website with all sorts of interesting data visualizations including a very large COVID section.

    5. Lobsterp0t*

      The best Covid data journalism I have seen is from the Financial Times – specifically John Burn-Murdoch.

  21. MechanicalPencil*

    My brain is foggy from lack of sleep with feeding a bottle baby kitten, so hopefully this makes sense.

    I’m looking to reduce my consumption of single use items that I use/purchase. Part of this decision is for environmental concerns but also economic reasons. I’m thinking things like cloth paper towels, glass leftover containers, cloth dinner napkins, soap bars instead of liquid, and so on. But I’m running into the problem of too many choices and what else can I can do. I kinda draw the line at the family cloth concept.

    Do you have any strong recommendations (product names and/or links) for these types of items? Not looking for just the ones I listed but for things within that whole realm of more ecologically minded.

    I can’t promise replies. 10 day old kitten is Very Needy in terms of time.

    1. HannahS*

      Glass containers: I use Anchor Hocking glass containers for the fridge, but I’d actually recommend brands that have snap-lock lids if you’re taking things for lunch, because the lids of the Anchor Hocking aren’t great.

      I have some cheap cutlery from, I think Walmart that I use for lunches and picnics, so that I don’t lose pieces of my nicer cutlery set.

      Kitchen linens (towels, etc.): tea towels from Ikea and the dollar store are fine. If you get cheap ones, wash the red ones separately a few times! They turned all my white socks pink. Cloths intended as washcloths (small terry cloth squares, maybe 6″ square) are good for small messes. Jay cloths were standard in my house growing up, for wiping up spills/countertops/tables. For napkins, I don’t have specific brand recommendations. Get big ones, though, as they’re more enjoyable.

      Washcloths for the face. For bar soap, I like the ones from the Body Shop (not so cruncy-granola trendy, but they smell good!), but The Soap Company seems more eco-friendly.

      If the linens get stinky and smell stale even after being washed, boil them for about ten minutes.

      I enjoy using longer-lasting items; they are good for my budget and are more enjoyable to use. But I also bear in mind that the eco-friendly switches that one individual hardly signify next to the pollution and waste that comes from mass industry. Real change will come at the level of government regulation. I don’t say that to discourage you (or myself), but to keep a sense of proportion, and keep from getting overwhelmed. Despite the tone of some advocates, the future of the world does not depend on me never getting takeout in a styrofoam container, or never using a plastic straw again in my life. Small changes matter, but they matter less than big changes.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yeah, I was all gung ho about recycling and composting – and then I started volunteering at the food bank, where I saw them throw away 30 tons of food – still in its packaging – a day.

        Any time I would start hyperventilating about this, the volunteer manager would remind me that the food bank saves and distributes 70% of what is donated, so we were keeping a lot of stuff out of landfill.

        But still.

      2. MechanicalPencil*

        I think some of it is more economic than ecology. Like yes, I want to help in both ways. But why use a paper towel to wipe up a spill when a dish cloth does the same. Some of this is probably just as much psychology as well.

      3. IAmOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        I second the glass food storage containers with snaplock lids. I have some that are Pyrex and some that are OXO brand.

        I recently bought cloth napkins from Amazon that I love. I will reply with a link to the ones I purchased. I was unsure about the color – I was afraid that the red would bleed in the laundry. But after using it to wipe marinara sauce off my hands and realizing I did not need to worry about stains, I decided that the color was great. You can find them on Amazon by searching Ramanta Home 12-Pack Salsa Stripe 100% Cotton Dinner Napkin Oversized 20×20 with Mitered Corners & Generous Hem – Red Multi

        Another thing I did a while back is switch to re-usable foaming hand soap containers. You can purchase a set on Amazon or simply re-use the type you buy in the store. To refill, you can use either liquid Castile soap (Dr Bonners unscented baby) or Dawn dishsoap. 1/4 cup of soap and 1 cup of distilled water.

      4. llamaswithouthats*

        Definitely agree with your second point. Something I also make sure I do in addition to swapping is emailing my local retailers and brands to switch from plastic, and also my local politicians to enact a ban on plastic. This kind of stuff is probably more important than the swaps, though I try to do those too.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Compost if possible.
      Use your own travel mug to buy coffee, if the stores allow it.
      Reusable totes. Keep them in the car or by the door so you remember. I also got an insulated bag that I keep in the car.
      Thoroughly clean glass jars and reuse them.
      Of the few plastic container I get, I save them to send guests home with leftovers. I also keep a plastic jar of water in the freezer. I can put the frozen bottle next to the food item for the guest’s travel time. They don’t have to return the plastic jar.
      I have one cupboard in a storage area dedicated for what I call reusables. My Pyrex wears out- from experience i know if I push it too hard it will shatter in my hands. So I save that cloudy looking Pyrex pan, to put car/tractor batteries in to bring to be recycled. This saves battery acid from going all over and it gives me a safe way to hand the dead battery to someone else .Yes, this happens often in my world. I save other stuff that can be reused for whatever in this cupboard also.

    3. Chilipepper*

      I think to make this manageable for you (there are so many products), pick one thing or one room and focus on that. For example, you might switch from toilet paper to a bidet added to your toilet but you really have to research which will fit your existing toilets.

      Other ideas for the bathroom:
      there are sustainable toilet papers – “who gives a crap” is highly rated. Google sustainable toilet paper scorecard for more products and info

      washing/showers – remember those balls of nylon or plastic on a string? We got something like that at whole foods but it is a finer mesh that is softer and is a sort of sheet or scarf shape. We think the plastic or whatever stuff it is made of is a trade off – it is prolly not the most environmental product but it is long lasting and it means we save water because we don’t wash it more than rinsing it in the shower after we use it.

      1. Coenobita*

        I’m a happy Who Gives A Crap customer and also want to put in a plug for their facial tissues. We mostly use dishrags instead of paper towels, but I have mega allergies and don’t want to switch off paper tissues. The recycled-paper tissues alleviate my guilt to some degree and are also nice and strong, which I really like!

    4. pancakes*

      Cotton towels meant for surgical use (often sold as huck towels) are cheap, sturdy, and good for cleaning. They don’t produce lint so they’re particularly good for cleaning windows.

    5. Generic Name*

      Instead of buying paper towels, you can use tea towels. I got my sets of tea towels at the thrift shop, so not sure where to buy them new.

      Cook at home instead of ordering takeout (much easier said than done).

    6. llamaswithouthats*

      I’ve started this process recently too! I bought a couple of glass bottles and started making my own cleaning solution with vinegar. I’ve also been experimenting with those tablets you dissolve in water from Blueland and Clean cult (I will report back with results in the future!)

      Other swaps I’ve made:
      Solid shampoo, conditioner, and Castile soap bars (the last one for washing dishes)

      Reusable sponges

      Plastic free laundry and dishwasher detergent (again will report back later with results) from Dropps

      I just ordered a Thinx underwear for periods and am yet to try it

      Who gives a crap toilet paper (made from recycled paper)

      1. llamaswithouthats*

        Ack I forgot two more:

        Bamboo toothbrushes

        Softie silicone straws (I had to get these off of Amazon but it’s worth it. I find metal or glass straws uncomfortable)

        1. Janne*

          Bamboo straws are also more comfortable than metal or glass, and easier to rub clean than silicone straws.

          1. llamaswithouthats*

            I just stick them in the dishwasher. I have a bamboo straw but it doesn’t work for me.

    7. llamaswithouthats*

      Also toothpaste tablets and buying bulk whenever possible.

      You might already have some swaps already like cloth towels instead of paper towels, salsa and jam jars you can upcycle, and tote bags and water bottles.

    8. Opalescent Tree Shark*

      I’ve found that these things called Swedish Dish Cloths (which are some kind of paper mixture) are great for wiping counters. I found that my sponges or rags always didn’t dry and got smelly, but these dry very quickly and are machine-washable— and some are dishwasher safe!

      1. MissCoco*

        I came here to suggest these! I love them for their usefulness, but also they come in tons of super cute prints.

    9. mreasy*

      I have been buying cloth napkins from a seller on Etsy who uses a fun variety of fabrics. It’s worth looking there.

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        I looked on Etsy for the reusable paper towel situation and just got so overwhelmed with choices. Paralyzed by choice would be accurate.

        I did pick up some swedish fish cloths and have been using those. So far so good.

        I did pick up some flannel on sale for making dinner napkins. I just need to sit down and cut the fabric and hem. And figure out the sewing machine I inherited, which is a totally separate issue.

        I have never heard of toothbrush tablets, those sound very interesting. I’m learning a lot on this thread about what exists and does/doesn’t work.

    10. Not A Manager*

      We have a stack of old cloth dinner napkins in our kitchen that we use instead of paper towels. They are thin and dry easily, and we have a small basket that we use as a hamper for them. We have a lot of cotton tea towels as well.

      We use cloth napkins. If they are not too dirty after a meal, we roll them up in separate napkin rings so the same person can use them again. I’ve learned not to buy very heavy napkins or very expensive ones. They get grease spots on them and I’m not going to spend my laundry time de-greasing individual napkins. Thin cloth seems to wash out better, and inexpensive napkins mean that I’m not heartbroken when they have to move into the “kitchen rag” category.

      I have reusable silicone zipper bags that I like almost as well as single-use zip lock plastic bags, and a collection of canning (ball) jars with screw tops for storage. I have not found an acceptable substitute for plastic wrap.

      In terms of the family cloth, we have TP in the bathroom but we also have a basket of clean white washcloths. I think I got them at Costco or Ikea. We use the cloths for Number One and the TP for Number Two. The cloths go into a “used cloth” basket. Because they are white they can be washed on hot if you like, even with bleach, and because they are inexpensive if they wear out it’s fine.

    11. Ana Gram*

      We love Blueland. I have bought a container of hand soap, laundry detergent, or dishwasher soap in nearly 2 years. It’s all tablets and works really nicely. I also use microfiber cleaning cloths instead of paper towels. I just keep a little trash can in the laundry room and, when it’s full, I run a load with just those. I probably 40 of them from TJ Maxx type places. I also use Ethique shampoo and soap bars. They work really well and the packaging is minimal. I swapped plastic bottles for a Yeti water bottle and metal straws long ago so that’s an easy one.

      The switches I made cost a little (though much cheaper in the long run) but really didn’t take any effort, if that makes sense.

    12. Blackcat*

      I went in on an order with an industrial linen supplier with some friends. 1000 small wash cloths! Meant for hotel use. We took 50 and they were like 20 cents each. We still use paper towels for really gross stuff (we have pets and a small human), but these small wash cloths take the place of 99% of all paper towel jobs. And they’re made for industrial washing, so they hold up well to being bleached on high heat.

    13. WS*

      When towels get old, I cut them into smaller sizes, hem the edges (roughly with a zigzag stitch on the machine) and then use them as cleaning cloths until they disintegrate. I try to use stuff I already have instead of buying new things, but the one new thing I got was silicone baking mats instead of baking paper.

    14. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      • TruEarth laundry detergent strips
      • Pyrex Ultimate glass tupperware is plastic free (the lids are glass and silicone)
      • Muslin drawstring bags (often sold at health-food stores) are great both as a substitute for plastic produce bags in the store (if permitted under covid rules) and for storing produce in your fridge. The trick is to wet the bag for items that normally get misted at the store (carrots, celery, broccoli, etc). Keep all the wet stuff in one hydrator and rewet the bags every few days. Works just as well as plastic at keeping produce fresh! You’ll need to clean the hydrator bin every few months, though, because you’re keeping it wet all the time and mildew will want to form.

    15. Pennyworth*

      The least environmentally damaging thing is to keep using what you already have to hand and not buy new stuff, however well credentialed it is. I never buy plastic ziplock bags because I buy frozen fruit that comes in really tough plastic zip bags that I use over and over again. They are easy to wash and 2 years in show no signs of wearing out.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m harnessed my need for a fidget-reducing hobby….bought a big spool of cotton yarn, and in between other projects I’m knitting and crocheting washcloths & scrubbies. (Haven’t mastered the potholder yet, mine all have poorly insulated spots.)

    17. RagingADHD*

      This was easier in the pre-covid world, but my favorite place to get cloth napkins is yard sales and thrift shops.

      For cleaning, you can get big packs of cotton bar towels quite cheaply at any big-box store, or packs of microfiber cloths in the automotive department with car-wash supplies. The microfiber is great for dusting, polishing, and cleaning surfaces, not really for absorbing spills.

      Older, worn-out towels, dish cloths, or even clothes and sheets, wind up as cleaning cloths.

      Sometimes you do wind up cleaning stuff that is so nasty/toxic it’s not worth washing, or so sticky it won’t wash out, so you do wind up throwing the rags away.

      For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend investing a lot of thought or money into the “best” cleaning products. It’s for wiping up dirt and filth. It doesn’t need to be nice.

    18. Betty4Cats*

      The one thing I did this past year that has saved virtually tons of paper is switching to using cloth handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex/paper tissues – I used to go through several boxes a month, and now still have a stack of 6 boxes I haven’t approached in a year.

      For people who think nose-blowing handkerchiefs sound gross, here are some tips:
      – Get full sized plain ones (not dainty designers ones)
      – Don’t just jam it in your pocket – figure out a pattern to fold them as you go along to keep the “moist” part covered. I start by folding it in half (so I have a two-thickness rectangle with a fold on the long side), then start at the short top, use the side facing me to blow, then fold/roll the short edge over that damp section and fold the remaining part in half long way again, then down several times into a square to go in my pocket.
      – When fully used: put them in a small mesh bag to keep together and separate from your other laundry.
      – To wash: take out of the mesh bag at the washer, unfold them and lay in the bottom of the washer; start the water running into the washer set to HOT and add some of your detergent; STOP the water running (usually you can hit a button to do this) then reach in and swish the handkerchiefs around in the water for a couple minutes – this loosens/dissolves any mucus (which might not happen just tossing in with other wash). Now load the washer with your other items, REMEMBER to change the water temp to your usual if not hot, and kick of the regular cycle. Also wash the mesh bag so you can use it to assemble the clean handkerchiefs after they dry – I don’t iron :-)

      If I came down with the flu or bad cold I’d probably use paper tissues for better germ containment, but due to masking I haven’t had either this past year!

    19. Clumsy Ninja*

      I cut up old T-shirts to use as cleaning rags. (Part of this was because I was making a T-shirt quilt for a friend and had a BUNCH of backs of T-shirts, but I’ve done this most of my life, anyway.) Any length of time you can keep it out of the landfill is a good thing, so if that means you eventually use it to wipe up grease or something and it has to be thrown out, well, you extended its life by quite a bit.

      My kids were more easily trained to use them, but my husband finally got on board when paper towels were scarce at the start of Covid. I keep a basket of clean ones under my sink (cheap washcloths that come in a pack work well, too!), plus a taller basket for dirties. Then I wash them on hot when I get enough for a decent load.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh, and further to the point about keeping things out of the landfill – cotton is compostable, as long as the whatever you cleaned up isn’t something like paint or motor oil.

        (Paper towels & napkins are compostable too. When we do use them, we compost them).

  22. Forensic13*

    What are your favorite children’s books that are written by BIPoC authors? I’m trying to branch out with my collection and it’s a bit frustrating that a lot of even the books with BIPoC characters or focus are still mainly written by white authors and illustrators. (Not that those authors should NEVER write other experiences, but I’d rather prioritize supporting the other books when I can.) I can Google everything as I look up books, but I find myself going by how they look and assuming white-presenting means “white” (I know!) and also it’s just tedious. Suggestions for BIPoC authors of adult-level are also appreciated, especially Native ones. (Especially anyone like Thomas King. Love his dark sarcasm.). Thanks!

    1. Mourning Reader*

      I’ve been out of the book game for awhile so my answers are probably dated. It would help if you could narrow down by age of children; are you looking for picture books or chapter books or… ?
      I always loved Faith Ringgold for her vibrant paintings. Not sure how many children’s books she did. Louise Erdrich writes a series the Birchbark House, which is a first person narration from the perspective of a young girl, late 19th century, Ojibwa if I recall correctly (they did wild rice harvesting so up north somewhere.)
      I recall the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books was a good source for reviews of multicultural books in general.

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      Have you checked out the Conscious Kid? Tons of amazing resources for books by BIPOC authors there on his website and instagram as well. To get started try “Fry Bread” by Kevin Noble Maillard and “Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt de la Pena and “A Different Pond” by Bao Phi and “I am Enough” by Grace Byers!

    3. Forensic13*

      Oh yes—picture books, mainly, for the moment. And thanks for the recommendation of The Conscious Kid!

    4. Aealias*

      Roshani Chokshi’s Aru Shah books are aimed at late-elementary readers, and are so enjoyable. Aru discovers that she’s the spiritual daughter of a god, and has to save the world from some of the darker aspects of Hindu mythology. The stories are action-packed and carry you forward, and I love the cultural aspects – appropriate interactions with parents, elders, assumptions about food and clothing. The books are written from a distinct cultural perspective, and just assume you’ll keep up.

    5. Teal*

      A really helpful tag might be “own voices” works — meaning that people are writing about the culture/marginalized identities they have. I think especially in the ya world people can get a little over intense about it (is forcing authors tk come out about private identities just to prove they’re “allowed” to write something) but it’s really helpful for finding books by POC authors! Especially picture books, as you said there’s so many books about kids of color written by white authors https://chipublib.bibliocommons.com/list/share/1132761418/1175300047 Here’s an example of a good list. I loved Islandborn and Tar Beach. thetututeacher on Instagram is a kindergarten teacher who posts a lot of diverse book recommendations! For board books, I loved Gabrielle Ahuli’i’s Hawaiian legend books.

      For chapter books, I loved dragons in a bag. It was as really fun fantasy book for 6-9 year olds, that acknowledged social issues but was primarily a fun adventure book

      In terms of adult books, I think seeking out own voices + your preferred genre/tone books would be helpful!

    6. the cat's ass*

      ALL of Grace Lin’s books are delightful and are for early readers up to middle schoolers. She writes and illustrates and has won numerous awards. My (now 15 yo) adored her books, especially the 7 Chinese sisters.

    7. Fellow Traveller*

      A couple picture books I’ve really enjoyed lately:
      The Proudest Blue: a Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad
      A Big Bed For Little Snow by Grace Lin (I like this because it features a boy and as an Asian American mom I find books with Asian boys very rare. Also race/ ethnicity is not a factor in the story.) Echoing the above comment – anything by Grace Lin is great.
      Planting Stories by Ankia Aldamuy Denise
      I feel like there are definitely more options once you get into graphic novels too, particularly for boys.
      I also like the Little Leaders/ Little Legends series by Vashti Harrison – I find biographies a great way to diversify our reading. There’s a great picture book about the Harlem Globetrotters that I like – can’t remember the name right now.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        Oh – came back to add – if you are looking for picture books for little kids, Taro Gomi is a Japanese artist and children’s book writer who is very prolific. His books are charmingly and deceptively simple and my 4 year old loves them.

    8. Double A*

      We have a book subscription from Ourselves which sends us 3 children’s books a quarter focused on diversity. It’s about $50/quarter and they have different age bands you can choose from. You can also check out their website and instagram for ideas.

      My daughter loves:

      “Max and the Tagalong Moon” by Floyd Cooper, who is a Black author and illustrator so check out his other stuff too.

      “A gift for Amma”

      “When We Are Kind”

      “The Bread Pet.”

      “Bedtime Bonnet.”

      Just posting from memory so I don’t have authors right here. My daughter is 2.5 but I’d say these books are good for up to 5 year olds? Ish?

      Also there is always anything by the wonderful Ezra Jack Keats!

    9. fposte*

      One easy shortcut is to look at awards, like the Coretta Scott King or Pura Belpré, for winner and honor lists. You could also check out specialist publishers, like Lee & Low, Cinco Puntos, or Levine Querido (that last especially for your own reading, as they do a lot of sophisticated YA), or publishing imprints such as Heartdrum, Salaam Reads, or Rick Riordan Presents.

      Eric Gansworth’s memoir Apple, from Levine Querido, might interest you; I haven’t read Darcie Little Badger’s Elatsoe but that might as well. Also there’s some really good Canadian stuff, like This Place: 150 Years Retold (graphic novel chapters in First Nations history) and Carey Newman’s Picking Up the Pieces, which goes into detail on Canadian residential schools and integenerational trauma.

    10. Foreign Octopus*

      The Noughts & Crosses series, by Marjorie Blackman.

      I’m not sure they’re children books per se but definitely in the YA category and are very, very good.

    11. Dark Macadamia*

      A Mighty Girl is a good resource for themed book lists – they won’t all be #OwnStories but it’s a good jumping off point for like, “books about immigrant families” or “books with Black protagonists who aren’t slaves” etc.

      Oyate.org is a Native organization that reviews books for quality representation of Native Americans.

      Are you looking for picture books, chapter books, YA, all of the above?

    12. CorgisAndCats*

      What age range are you targeting? My kids are very young so these recommendations are for the toddler set. I love the Little Owl books (favorites are Little Owl’s Day and Little Owl’s Night) by Divya Srinivasan, these books are set in a forest so there aren’t any BIPoC characters but the author is Indian American. Kids really loved Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, author is Mexican American. I look forward to seeing the other recommendations on this thread!

    13. OtterB*

      I suggest looking at We Need Diverse Books at https://diverse.org especially at the resources.

      Seconding to look at the awards, not just the winners but the nominees.

      Most of what I read is adult science fiction & fantasy. BIPoC authors I like, off the top of my head, are Rebecca Roanhorse, Saladin Ahmed, Tobias Buckell, Malka Older, and N. K. Jemisin.

      1. Susie*

        I came here to shout out We Need Diverse books also.

        Also, a book that recently was recently published and has BEAUTIFUL illustrations is Latinitas by Juliet Menendez.

        Oh, one more thought-Check out BIPOC owned bookstores. I know the one I go to has great recommendations.

      2. OtterB*

        Also, for middle grade, look at Rick Riordan Presents series. They are publishing middle grade adventure by authors from underrepresented groups that often draw on the mythology of their culture.

    14. Dark Macadamia*

      Here are some of my recent favorites, I’ll dig through the picture books later :)

      Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Gods of Jade and Shadow
      NK Jemisin – Broken Earth trilogy
      Rebecca Roanhorse – Sixth World series (there is some criticism of this one because she is Native but not Navaho, which is the culture represented in the book)
      Weike Wang – Chemistry
      Mary HK Choi – Permanent Record


      Angie Thomas – The Hate U Give, On the Come Up
      Elizabeth Acevedo – The Poet X
      Nicola Yoon – The Sun is Also a Star
      Marie Lu – Legend trilogy
      Intisar Khanani – Thorn

      Nnedi Okorafor writes adult, YA, and I think maybe some middle grades as well.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Picture books:

        Andrea Wang – The Nian Monster (this is possibly my favorite picture book EVER. Super cute and hilarious, amazing illustrations, and it ties Chinese folklore and traditions to modern life rather than treating them like strange, ancient beliefs)

        Roda Ahmed – Mae Among the Stars

        Malala Yousafzai – Malala’s Magic Pencil

        The “Once Upon a World” series has POC illustrators place fairy tales in different cultures (Indian Rapunzel, Mexican Cinderella, etc). I think they’re only available as board books but they’re full stories appropriate for reading to older kids, not just babies.

    15. lemon meringue*

      I’m wondering if you’re Canadian with that Thomas King reference? I’d recommend Roy Henry Vickers’s series of picture books and board books (beautiful art work). I find that the Quill & Quire book reviews often feature diverse books by BIPOC, LGBTQ and disabled authors, so they might be a good resource. These are all Canadian though, since I don’t know much about American children’s books.

      For adult Indigenous authors, I’d recommend Eden Robinson, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Richard Van Camp, Cherie Dimaline, and Richard Wagamese.

    16. HannahS*

      Osnat and Her Dove looks great, though I haven’t bought it yet. PJ library has a solid, diverse list of books that covers a wide swathe of Jewish children’s literature.

    17. purple giraffe*

      kid’s picture book about minority japanese kid in majority euro school: Suki’s Kimono
      science fiction/humour short stories written by first nations guy: Take me to your chief

    18. Marion Ravenwood*

      Another vote for Angie Thomas’ books for YA.

      I have also heard good things about Sharna Jackson’s High Rise Mystery, the first in a series for middle grade readers following two young Black sisters who investigate a mystery on their London housing estate.

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Not ‘kid tested’ but it looks cute:
      Whose Knees Are These? by Jabari Asim, LeUyen Pham
      I came at this backwards because I liked some of the things LeUyen Pham illustrated for Shannon Hale enough that I went looking to see what else was out there.
      And then YOU sent me down an Internet rabbit hole and I may be sending books to people I know with toddlers!

    20. Grey skies*

      I loved a series called “the tribe” by Australian indigenous author Ambelin Kwaymullina. Really well written dystopian fantasy series with well rounded teenage characters.

    21. Imtheone*

      I have what is perhaps a too specific question:
      Any books for children about understanding cross race adoption, especially when the adopted person is one of the child’s parents?

  23. Teapot Translator*

    Recurring dreams! I want to know if people have recurring dreams (over years) and what they are if you’re comfortable sharing.
    I have one. The details change, but the stressor is always the same. I’m moving the next day and I haven’t finished packing. Everytime I have this dream, I think, “Again?” And it doesn’t seem to come when there’s a lot of stress in my life, so I have no idea why my brain decides to serve up that scenario again.

    1. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I have one. I’m marrying some guy from Australia (?), and I never can see his face. Then it changes to me being pregnant, and we’re decorating the nursery in bright yellows, and I’m wearing a sundress. IDK what that comes from at all. I’ve been dreaming that since I was in my early 20s, and I’m 42 now. It just randomly crops up at times.

    2. nep*

      I have one very similar–I’m super late for a flight (as in, I’ve got to ask to change the ticket because I’ll never make it) and I haven’t packed a thing (either at home or a hotel). It’s crazy.
      In the past my recurring dream was getting to finals time in high school and I haven’t read a single thing or attended a single class. Haven’t had that one in ages though. The late for a flight one–it’s been a while too, actually.

      1. Coenobita*

        My recurring stress dream is also about travel and packing! The circumstances change from dream to dream, but I’m always going on a hiking/camping trip and haven’t appropriately packed or prepared – so in addition to the “I’m not ready!” and “people will judge me!” components, there’s also a bit of “I could DIE in the WILDERNESS because I didn’t bring the right stuff!”

        I go on multiday hiking trips maybe… once every three years? and I find them among the least stressful types of travel. Maybe that’s because all my insecurities get worked out while I’m asleep!

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I have weird moving dreams too, but its always that we are moving into a new house sight unseen and exploring it. They are always REALLY weird houses, especially because my brain just keeps inventing new rooms to find as long as I keep dreaming. Like, two full size basketball courts in the basement of a standard suburban house. Or the whole place is built into a steep hill and only has skylights. Or the floor being built to follow the contours of the natural landscape instead of being flat (even in my dream I knew that was stupid).

      In real life, I did twice move into a house that my parents had bought but I had never seen. They were always much more boring than the dream houses though!

      1. Filosofickle*

        I kind of love the house dreams. I’m zooming around, finding endless rooms and hidden staircases, trying to pick the best room. A variant is that I discover the hotel room or house I’ve been staying in has an entire wing that’s beautiful and huge that I didn’t know about. It’s the space of my dreams. I’m amazed by it, and wonder: How did I never know about this? This was available to me the whole time and I didn’t know?! I don’t put a lot of stock in dream analysis but these feel like they’re telling me I’m capable of more than I know, that there’s more opportunity and possibility in my life that I’ve been overlooking.

        Anxiety dreams are easily 90% of my dreams. Especially moving and traveling. I forgot I had a trip / had to move / had to check out and now I have to get all this stuff packed and I have no idea where I’m going to go and I’m definitely not going to make it on time. There is usually no resolution or movement forward. I’m just overwhelmed and lost. I also get lost in hotels a lot, endless labyrinths and elevator banks and I can’t find my room. And my phone never works.

        1. MCL*

          I do have sort of “thematically” recurring dreams where I discover new rooms of my house that I never knew about. My house is pretty small, so I think my brain is trying to accommodate me! :)

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        I have ones like this too! I’ll be living in a house and discover that none of the doors lock, and there are tons of extra rooms. It’ll open into a mall or museum and the public can just wander in. Once I was living in a library and discovered that I was supposed to have been given a house way at the other end of the building.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Ooh, I’ve had that one! I find all these extra rooms in my hotel suite beyond the double doors where I thought my space ended. I walk down a hallway of interesting rooms, eventually leading to a mall-like space. Initially I’m so excited to find all of those rooms because I think they’re all for me, and then people start appearing in my room and I realize the doors don’t lock and anyone can just wander in.

    4. Texan In Exile*

      1. I’m still in high school and I can’t find my locker and then when I do, I can’t remember my combination.

      2. I am in college and realize I have a ten-page paper due the next day. This actually happened to one of my roommates – she realized she had a ten-page paper on pig iron due the next day. This was in the time of typewriters and libraries, so it was even more dire than it would be today.

      All ended well – she now has a PhD in computer science. I wonder if she still dreams about that event. (We are not really in touch – she married my college boyfriend/fiance. It was after I had broken off our engagement, but it still felt weird.)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        #1: I’m 46 and I STILL have this dream from time to time. I also dream I don’t know my class schedule and have no idea where I’m supposed to go.

        I still dream that I’m back at the grocery store I worked at as a teen. I’m making the closing announcement at 10 pm and people are still streaming in the doors as though the store just opened.

        1. Rara Avis*

          Every August I dream that I have a class following me around as I try to find my classroom.

        2. Coenobita*

          My dad’s in his late 60s and reports that he still gets those “didn’t realize I was even in this class until the final” dreams. He went to med school in a different country so his dreams are even worse because they’re often in his second language! At least mine aren’t like that, LOL. Though I do have the “don’t know my class schedule” one on a regular basis.

    5. Mimmy*

      I have several recurring dreams:
      -It’s getting to the end of the semester at college and I haven’t attended classes in awhile or read anything.
      -Similarly, I’m back at college as an adult living in the dorm
      -Waves crashing over my head
      -My ride to work is about to arrive and I’m still in my PJs

      1. Coenobita*

        Living in the dorms as an adult!!!!! I have that one too. Often I am moving in or out of a dorm room while simultaneously needing to do my regular grownup life. Some of those dream-dorm-rooms rock, though. They are way better than the rooms I actually lived in as a student.

    6. Skates*

      I have this! Dreams that recur for years at a time. Often during high stress times they are so frequent that I find myself in the dreams thinking “wow this is like the dreams I have!” Recently, it’s been a dream where I am sneaking through a stranger’s house (not to do anything just to get from point a to b) and I’m about to be caught. For like 5 years while I was doing my doctorate it was a dream about witnessing a plane crash from the ground.

      1. nep*

        So odd–I have this one sometimes too. I’m in someone else’s house…for no apparent reason, or to pass through it.

      2. Yikes!*

        This must be more common than I thought — I’m just trying to sneak through someone’s house as a shortcut or something without being discovered.

    7. Chilipepper*

      I had one from my teen years till I was in my 30s – I was a teen and living with my parents and siblings and my dad insisted that we weed the garden so I do. And I look up and one brother has turned into Frankenstein’s monster. I’m shocked so I run to the next family member to say WTF and they turn into the same monster until everyone is a monster but me and no one is attacking or anything but they are all staggering around with their arms in front of them and I’m scared and repelled but also really confused.

      Read whatever symbolism you want into that, none has ever seemed right to me.

      Have not had that one in years.

      1. pancakes*

        Thanks for this. I’m so intrigued by the link to the study about the dream-lag effect. They’re talking in terms of days but it takes years for new people and things in my life to show up in my dreams.

    8. CTT*

      I don’t have recurring dreams but I have recurring dream locations. One is a giant mall that I think is stitched together from the various Malls Of My Life, and the other is an airport. I know those both sound generic, but there are some particularly weird features to both that always show up (the mall has a train track near the ceiling to deliver things between stores, the airport is a skyscraper).

    9. the cat's ass*

      Isn’t the human brain something?

      Recurring dreams are so weird! I have 3:

      The ever-popular OMG, i never went to this class the entire semester and now I have to take the final;

      A flying dream where I’m frequently flying around my old childhood neighborhood;

      A house dream where all of a sudden there are extra rooms in (my sort of but not really, because dreams) my childhood or current home and i have to figure out what to do about it (decorate? rent them out?)…

      I’m just grateful only one is an anxiety dream.

    10. Flower necklace*

      I have a recurring dream where I can’t remember where I parked my car, so I’m wandering around trying to find it. Last time, I got smart and took out my key fob, which had a big button on it that said “Honk!” I heard it honking but I still couldn’t find it.

    11. Yikes!*

      I have the common recurring dream where I realize I have a huge paper due or a final in a class tomorrow, and I’ve forgotten I even enrolled in the class.

      I also have dreams about staircases that I go up, up, up, until there is a ceiling and I feel claustrophobic and there are lots and lots of white, wonky/askew staircases all around me.

      And every once in a while, I have a dream where I’m in grade school, maybe 3rd grade, and I get home after school and the front door is locked. When I ring the bell, the door is answered by a stranger who tells me “oh, those people (my family) moved away.” I’ve had this dream since grade school.

    12. Decidedly Me*

      I have 2 recurring dreams that come to mind. I think there are probably others, but these 2 are the most frequent (probably at least a few times a year):

      1. The brakes on my car don’t work. I’m driving and needing to stop and am having to press the brake pedal as hard as I can to get any kind of slow down. There is inevitably an accident.

      2. My teeth are falling out. I feel a very, very loose tooth (usually more than one) that’s just coming out. I hope that if I can just keep it in that it will reattach somehow (odd, I know), so I keep my jaw clenched. I suspect this makes me do this in real life too, so thankfully it’s not an every night thing!

      Clearly anxiety related dreams! Not of these specific events, though, just representations of things lol!

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I used to have tons of teeth dreams, usually that they’re crumbling out of my mouth and I’m clenching it shut to keep them in. I ended up getting a mouth guard and the teeth dreams stopped but now I occasionally have “there’s something in my mouth and I can’t get it out” dreams lol

        1. Teapot Translator*

          OMG, I have had that one! I have never ending chewing gum in my mouth and I try to get it out. I never associated it with my mouth guard!

      2. allathian*

        I had one of these dreams once. I dreamed I broke a molar in my sleep and when I woke up, I found that I’d done just that… It was a particularly stressful time in my life.

        I have a recurring dream when I’m in a maze and can’t get out no matter how I try because the walls keep shifting around. When I saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I had a very strong sense of déjà-vu from the drewam, which I didn’t when I read the book. Occasionally I get a variation when I’m in a huge office full of cubicles and I can’t find my own. Once when I was particularly stressed, I had the classic naked at work dream.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve had a dream series that started shortly after I watched Pacific Rim the first time in theaters. Me and a friend of mine pilot a jaeger and beat up giant space monsters. So far we always win. Our jaeger is Foxtrot Omega.

      Also, this might count – if I sleep with my (butt-length) hair down and don’t specifically tuck it up over the top of my pillow and then under the pillow from the back, then I WILL have dreams of being drowned by an octopus and wake up with my hair over my neck. (I regularly rotisserie to the right all night as I sleep, and if my hair is wedged under the pillow from over and above then it just twists as I roll over, but if it’s loose then it will catch and end up wound around my neck. I usually just sleep with my hair in a bun to be safe. :P )

    14. pancakes*

      Oh yes. There are places, entire towns in some instances and single buildings in others, I’ve visited over and over again. I’ve had a couple lucid dreams in these settings too, and found myself wanting to and able to return to particular areas by navigating with my dream-landmarks. The oddest was wanting to take my mother—who’s been dead nearly ten years and seldom shows up in my dreams, and who I never got along with—to a particular pub I’d visited with others in a previous dream and thought she’d enjoy! And we went!

      A good friend of mine started keeping a dream journal in a fairly disciplined way, making a point of writing about his experiences first thing in the morning while his memories were fresh, and I keep meaning to try it. I don’t think this stuff is particularly meaningful or symbolic but the patterns are interesting to me nonetheless.

    15. Clisby*

      I’ve had the dream a lot of people have talked about – it’s final exam time, and I realize I haven’t attended any of the classes. I’m a get-it-done type of person, so I find the textbook and start paging through it, hoping I can absorb enough knowledge to eke out a D-. This is never a class in Sociology 101. It’s always Euclidean geometry or differential equations, but I haven’t given up all hope.

      The recurring dream that I find the most interesting isn’t recurring in the sense that the content of the dream is the same. It’s that a particular house shows up in a dream. Sometimes the house plays a part in the dream – like I go into it for some reason – but not always. Sometimes it’s just there, and I note it. The thing is, even though I’ve dreamed about it who knows how many times over the years, and right now I can close my eyes and picture it – I have no idea whether this house exists somewhere. It’s not like I’m dreaming of a house my family once lived in – if it’s a real house, I have no conscious memory of it. I’ve often wondered whether it was a house my parents took me to when I was very young, and I somehow mentally archived it.

    16. GoryDetails*

      Definitely some recurring dreams, though they’ve shifted over the decades. As others have mentioned, the school-related “I have a test and just realized I haven’t gone to class all semester” type – that was pretty common in the years after I got out of college. A decade or two down the line and the dreams shifted to the “packing for a trip and forgetting something important” version, presumably the same stress-dream but with more up-to-date concerns. [For me those dreams often included losing a cat – either it was supposed to be in the carrier and wasn’t, or had darted out of the door just as I was supposed to leave for the airport, or something along those lines.]

      In more recent years, the same general format and feeling takes the form of driving somewhere and getting lost, or finding the roadway becoming more and more narrow with no way to turn around and much danger in backing up (that one could be quite the metaphor for life, couldn’t it!); sometimes I get a bit of control over it, lucid dreaming in which I know I’m dreaming but am still in the dream-situation, but can nudge it to a more satisfactory state: finding a new route, or suddenly materializing in the space I was trying to get to. The previous versions of school or travel now feature bits from my most recent hobbies, sometimes with entrancing details: I’ve found myself trying to read a book I discovered in my dream, having to try harder and harder to make out the text – until I wake up…

    17. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I’ve had a recurring dream of seeing my father over the last 3 years. Sometimes he talks, sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes it’s him, sometimes it’s him but as another person (i.e., most recent one was that he was a fast food worker but he never worked in that capacity). I think the main thing is that i”m always waiting to hear that one nugget of wisdom or something but I always wake up and forget it asap. 

    18. Jackalope*

      One of my favorites is what I call my “Heaven” dream. When I’m dreaming about people I care about that have died, sometimes they’ll reappear and it will be like they’re alive again, except that everywhere we go together, there’s this softly glowing golden light, like being in the forest on a bright sunny day and seeing the rays of sunlight shining down through the trees. It’s a peaceful and happy dream, and not one where I wake up feeling sad about missing them, or at least not most of the time.

      I also have a room that I’ve visited regularly in my dreams. I don’t remember having been there before but it has specific features (crib, changing table, rocking chair) that make me wonder if it was the room I had when I was a baby, or a day care room, or someplace I went a lot when I was really little. It’s also a place that brings me warm happy feelings, so wherever it was, it was a place I liked.

    19. Not So NewReader*

      I used to have recurring dreams often.

      Some of the dreams sound benign. But the problem came in when I had them over and over and over. For example, in one dream I am walking… and walking… and walking… I had this dream repeatedly. And the more I had it the more it terrified me. Why do I just keep walking?

      The only thing that broke the “hold” the dream had on me, was to talk about it with friends. “Oh it’s the endlessly walking dream again.”

      I read the article linked above and it pointed out that sometimes nightmares help us process, so IRL we are able to handle something. I remember the tornado dream. We don’t have tornados here. Until one day we did. I don’t have a basement. Just like in the dream, none of my neighbors were home but they have basements. sigh. Finally, one neighbor came home. The story IRL was a lot tamer than the dream. It turned out that the neighbor grew up in the mid west and they knew what to watch for and how to help ourselves. I was way more scared in the dream, once it happened again IRL, I was able to move through what I needed to do.

      (Yes we were fine. The tornado touched down south of us. But the birds and squirrels hid, the sky turned yellow and so on.)

    20. Dark Macadamia*

      I have the typical school dream but it’s always specifically that I knew I had the class, knew I hadn’t been showing up or doing the homework, but didn’t realize how much time had passed. So I’m thinking I only missed a couple classes, no big deal, I have plenty of time to catch up, and then it turns out that it’s too late to prevent myself from failing. I always feel AWFUL when I wake up and have a really hard time shaking it.

      My funniest/weirdest one was as a kid I used to have one where I’m in a hotel or mall with the Boxcar Children and we’re trying to escape a mad scientist.

      Spookiest I only had twice, and it was just me walking alone through a hallway and then I look in the mirror and there are all these photos of me as a baby/kid stuck around the edges. Second time the dream was identical except that I was older in all the pictures.

    21. Batgirl*

      House dreams are common because the symbolism of a house representing your whole self, and each room as an aspect of yourself is so useful as a code. Moving is probably you ‘unpacking’ your psyche and getting ready for a new chapter as well as doing double duty as a stress dream. My recurring dream always takes place in a familiar house, which I am living in, and at some point I discover whole new wings that are totally unused because I discover a doorway or corridor I hadn’t noticed before. That’s kind of fun. My mother has a stress dream every Christmas Eve in which she makes the dinner, in realistic detail, in her sleep like a dress rehearsal. She says it is not as vivid now as when they were making dinner for thirty people.

    22. Just Lurking*

      Similarly to you, I have a recurring dream with details that change but the same gist over and over: I’m close to graduating college, but I’m failing calculus – which in turn jeopardizes me graduating at all.

      I have been out of college for seven years. Even when I was in school, calculus was one of the first classes I took and I passed it with relative ease. No idea why I keep having this dream except that I work at a university now, so perhaps that triggers it?

    23. Buni*

      Not a recurring dream per se but I had a recurring character; turned up in 3 or 4 dreams over a year or so then came to a satisfying conclusion…

    24. Might Be Spam*

      I kept dreaming about packing. No matter how much I’ve already packed, I keep finding more things that need to be packed and I never get to actually leave. Also, I’m doing it all on my own because my family won’t help.
      I just realized that I haven’t had the dream since I blocked two of my sisters.

    25. zaracat*

      I have one dream I call “the epic”. Not exactly the same each time but more a theme. A poorly defined dystopian/post-apocalyptic setting with a starting cast of lots of people, who gradually disappear along the way on some kind of journey until only one or two are left who are people who are or were close family (brother, sister, daughter, ex-husband) but those people often switch between identities. It’s especially creepy dreaming that I’m still married to my horrible ex.

    26. TechWorker*

      My most common recurring dream is that I have an exam coming up and I either can’t do the material or haven’t studied. When I wake up I have to do this mental thing of ‘no wait I’ve graduated I can’t possibly have an exam to fail’… I don’t know what that says about me but it’s probably not flattering if that’s near the top of my ‘biggest fears’ :p

    27. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Since I returned to work six months ago, I’ve had several dreams per week where I discover that my mask has suddenly disappeared off my face, or that I’m in a crowded space and no one around me is wearing a mask.

      For some reason, I also frequently dream that I’m still driving my first car (which I haven’t had since 2010). And I frequently get a variation of the high school dream, except it’s always that I haven’t been to math class all semester, can’t remember the room number, and can’t find my program card and for some reason can’t get a new one to tell me where it is (it’s always math class — math was far and away my worst subject in school).

    28. Laura Petrie*

      I’ve been dreaming about packing for most of lockdown. Usually I’m on holiday with my family, particularly my sister (we are not close and don’t get on we’ll).

      Each time I’m trying to fit all our stuff in a suitcase but nobody will help me and it has been left until the last minute. I’m desperately trying to cram way too many things in a small suitcase and it won’t fit.

      The setting varies each time but the content is similar.

      I always used to dream my bedroom wasn’t private and I was asleep in a public corridor. I would wake up really panicked. Thankfully I’ve not had that one for a while.

    29. Bethaknee*

      I keep having a dream that I failed and didn’t pass highschool. No idea why, as I have been out of school for almost 20 years now.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I bought the turkey. I thawed out the turkey in the fridge. I put the turkey in brine and today, I have to take it out of the brine. I have no idea what I’ll put on it for the cooking. I have to go out and buy a meat thermometer and possibly a turkey baster.
      Any suggestions on what to put on the turkey would be appreciated. I’m not going to stuff it.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re the turkey: I like to use seasoned butter when I roast a turkey – sometimes simple salt and pepper, sometimes with herbs mixed in. I’ve tried the “butter under the skin” method and basting repeatedly and butter-soaked-cheesecloth over the breast, and they each have their advantages, but a simple coat-and-roast process works pretty well for me.

      2. Ali G*

        I don’t baste my turkey. And you really don’t need to if you brined it. I like to get the skin crispy, and if you do too, the best thing to do is to pat it dry and store it uncovered in the fridge until you are ready to cook it. Then rub the skin with olive oil or butter before seasoning (you shouldn’t need salt) the outside and then cook!

      3. Colette*

        I like to cut up a lemon and put it in the cavity of the turkey – I find it ends up being less dry.

      4. Jackalope*

        I like making a rub with: olive oil, sage, rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic. This works for roasted chicken as well.

    2. HannahS*

      I made laab gai yesterday (Thai dish, chicken sauteed with fish sauce, then tossed with herbs, chili, shallots, and toasted rice powder, served with lettuce), with the recipe from Hot Thai Kitchen. It was delicious. I bought a little packet of makrut lime leaves a year ago and store them in the freezer, which works perfectly. The rice powder was a nightmare to grind, though, because I used a mortar and pestle and only had brown rice. It took maybe 10 minutes of grinding, which was hard on my wrists–next time, I’ll give the coffee grinder a good wash and hope for the best.

      1. fposte*

        That is one of my all time favorite foods. I have never had a bad version. I’ve made it myself but as with you found grinding the rice powder to be a chore.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I made balsamic pickled grapes, from a recipe by food-writer Allison Robicelli; it was a concept I’d never imagined before, and as I had all of the ingredients except for the grapes I decided to give it a try. The result: a spicy/sweet/tart flavor imparted to the grapes, which provide their own texture. Definitely fun and snackable.

    4. another scientist*

      Brioche wreath is my family’s tradition for easter sunday, so I’m getting ready for that. Decorative and delicious!

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      My Latvian sister-in-law made pīrāgi today as it’s Easter weekend here in Spain and they were so good. I’ve never had the before and thought they’d be like the Polish pierogi but they’re very different as they’re made with a yeast dough (I think that’s what she called it) and they are the best thing ever. We’ve got so many in the house now I’ll be eating them for weeks but that’s not a bad thing at all.

      There are also hot cross buns in the oven as I type — every year my dad makes these for us and it’s a bit of a tradition — and for dinner tonight it’s spicy chilli chicken.

      Today’s a good day.

      I hope everyone else is having a nice weekend and, as we say in Spain, ¡Feliz Pascua!

    6. Not A Manager*

      I made a flourless almond cake the other day with whole oranges and saffron. It’s really good but a very particular flavor. Sort of like paella bread pudding. I love it but my husband is not a fan.

    7. Forensic13*

      I made the chicken garlic soup (with suggested barley) from Salt Fat Acid Heat for about the fifth time since I got the book a year ago. Sooo good. So garlicky!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I made Hot Cross Buns, as they are not something eaten where I live. They tasted terrific.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Oooh I just bought that book today! I can’t wait to go through it. I’d been thinking about it off and on for a while. Today we went to the book store for the first time in a long time. I saw it and grabbed it–total impulse buy.

    8. SarahKay*

      I made the Hairy Bikers smoked tofu and vegetarian hash, but since I couldn’t find smoked tofu I substituted smoked bacon (which is what the recipe says the tofu replaces). The recipe says it serves four but since I’m just cooking for me I made half quantities, planning to have the second portion for lunch later in the week.
      It was amazingly good!
      Having eaten my portion I took my plate back to the kitchen and just had an extra forkful…then two more…then admitted it was good and I was greedy and finished the whole lot. Luckily a lot of the bulk is kale, so I didn’t end up feeling horribly over-full but next time I think I’m going to serve my portion and put the rest straight into a sealed container so it’s not sitting on the side tempting me.

    9. IGoOnAnonAnonAnon*

      Today I’m making a Torta Pascualina and a carrot/feta/ricotta tart. I don’t ahve enough greens for the Torta, but really don’t want to go back to store. Sigh. Tomorrow I’m making a ham, cheesy potatoes, roast asparagus & broccolini, and a salad.

    10. Marion Ravenwood*

      If I am totally honest, I haven’t cooked much this week – it’s been really hectic at work and that’s meant I’ve resorted to the easy things, like stir fry and frozen pizza. I did make a Gousto box recipe last night for ‘lighter’ creamy bacon and mushroom pasta – essentially a mix of spaghetti, ‘courgetti’ (peeled courgette), bacon and mushrooms with a sauce made from cannellini beans, garlic, chicken stock and milk – but I don’t feel like it worked very well. Hopefully tonight’s (sausage burgers with potato wedges and salad) will go better!

    11. Clisby*

      I’m roasting a duck. (My son was hoping for goose but the store didn’t have any.) Bonus: A LOT of fat renders out of a roast duck, so I’ll save that to use for oven-roasted vegetables.

    12. Sparkly Librarian*

      I’m spending a few days at my folks, so I haven’t been cooking anything myself — but my mom has made us pot roast, egg salad, bacon-wrapped chicken with sweet potatoes, and last night we had crunchy tacos. Currently she’s got six Cornish game hens in the oven for an Easter lunch.

  24. HannahS*

    Baby gear! What are you SO GLAD you had, what did you need to dart out and buy in the middle of the night, what was kind of a waste of money, and why? Someone told us we need a bottle warmer, which was not on my radar because I plan to nurse and we have a microwave for when my husband will give bottles, but maybe bottle warmers are a lifesaver? How many sets of clothes did you feel were necessary? How many sets of bedding?

    1. 30ish*

      We have a bottle warmer but didn’t really use it. A baby carrier is a must. Also loved our baby hammock. For the smallest sizes, I would get around 7 sets of clothes. But it depends on how often you can wash them. The longer the baby can wear the same size, the more sense it makes to own more clothes.

      1. Natalie*

        I think season and childcare plan influence clothing numbers as well – our baby spent all summer in a onesie or diaper at home, but at daycare she might have needed another layer and they change the kid’s clothes more often.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      People will buy you clothes a lot and everyone gets the small sizes so don’t buy much of any yourself. I will say they make shirts that button in the front rather than over the crotch which are handy for the first two weeks until the umbilical cord falls off so I would get a couple of those.

      Give cold bottles! Much easier, most babies don’t care (I BF and give cold bottles) and it saves on food safety/reheating issues and it’s more convenient.

      I liked having a baby front carrier – some people like slings but I liked the back pack style. Good thing to get used locally.

    3. Aealias*

      Try on a bunch of baby carrying options, have your partner do so, too. I LOVED a kangaroo-mama long wrap for baby wearing, that put most of the weight on my hips. Partner needed a hand-me-down Baby Bjorn because it put the weight on his shoulders instead.
      We lived in a big city with my first and had a diaper service, and I LOVED it. I didn’t realize how MUCH until we had to go all-disposable with Kid 2. If you go that route, you want the very simple “shake off the solids and toss it in a bag for us to deal with” sort of service. They delivered clean diapers and diaper covers regularly, and took the soiled ones away. It was awesome.
      The weirdest thing I adored was a frame-and-soft-mesh bath seat. It looks a lot like a simple bouncer chair, leans the baby back in the bath tub with water around and under them, and lets you easily hold baby in place with one hand and wash with the other. No trying to hold on to the slippery flopping fish and keep their head out of the water and also wash their bits and make sure they don’t drown… it’s a bit like having a third hand for baby bathing.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        We got a second hand primo brand bathtub I like. It’s molded so baby can’t go underwater. And has a side for a bigger kid. It fits inside our bathtub.

    4. Jessi*

      Hi HannahS,

      We don’t reheat breast milk in the microwave as it can destroy the nutrients in the milk, and it heats unevenly so can create scalding pockets inside lukewarm milk. You would just heat the kettle, pour into a bowl and then place the bottle in bowl to warm (swirl gently to mix). A bottle warmer will just speed up this process, unless your husband will do middle of the night feeds then you will probably be just fine with the kettle method! If you do use formula then you need to make it with 70+ C degree water anyway to sterilise the formula so you wouldn’t want to be reheating it.

      Its hard to know as you won’t know how much spitting up your baby will do untill they arrive. I would aim for at least 3-4 setts of sheets, and 4-6 swaddling clothes if you plan to swaddle and 12-14 lots of baby onesies. To be honest I wouldn’t worry too much about buying actual clothing for the first 3 months or so, Its hard to get tiny arms and legs into shirts and jeans! and you want easy access of poppers and zips so you can change them easily.

      1. Natalie*

        It’s worth noting that infections from infant formula are incredibly rare, so I wouldn’t panic if you have to make a bottle quickly with tap water. (And modern formula dissolves in room temperature water.) Once your baby is 3+ months old you can dispense with sterilizing formula.

    5. Double A*

      Halo swaddle sacks. The best sleep sack. Start with small and skip Nb size.

      Lanolin nipple cream.

      A&D diaper cream, both prevent and treat. My daughter never got a diaper rash because I’d use the prevent stuff when she was even the tiniest bit red.

      Once I started pumping I really liked having a specific baby bottle rack. It’s not strictly necessary and takes up counter space, but I liked having everything in one place. However… I’ve also since realized I can put a lot more through the dishwasher that I used to, so I’m not sure I’ll use it with #2 so much (also we now have a kitchenaid in what was previously baby rack space).

    6. Clisby*

      I never used a bottle warmer – you can hold a bottle of milk under the hot water tap for a few minutes to take the chill off.

    7. Jay*

      I don’t think I bought her any clothes until she was 2 except for the occasional onesie. She has two cousins who are 18 months older, so we were awash in hand-me-downs, and she was my mother’s first grandchild, so….I did not need to buy clothes. Baby clothes rarely wear out because they grow so fast, so hand-me-downs and consignment/thrift store finds are great.

      Baby bucket with base in the car for quick installation and release was essential. I would not have survived without the stroller, either, because I hated wearing the baby. Loved holding her. Hated wearing her. If you do want to baby-wear, try to check out a variety of slings because it’s a very personal thing. Also: no reason to buy The Most Incredibly Expensive Carseat and Stroller. Any carseat that meets federal regulations will be fine. The biggest benefit is from unrestrained to restrained, and restrained in a properly sized seat that is correctly installed. Fancy doesn’t matter. A removable, washable cover is helpful, though. Babies leak.

      I did not realize that babies have diaper cream preferences. My kid liked one particular brand (can’t remember which one). One of my standard new-parent gifts since then has been a collection of different diaper creams so they can figure out which one their baby’s butt prefers.

      Bottle warmer was not useful. She happily drank room-temperature formula or even cold when she was a little older.

      All babies are different. All parents are different. It’s almost impossible to know what you’ll need until you’re in it, and other people’s experience. I suggest getting the bare minimum before baby – onesies, burp clothes, swaddles/blankets, carseat, safe place to sleep, and whatever feeding supplies you need – and then figure it out.

      Your baby will teach you how to be their parent. Slow down, pay attention, and listen to the baby, not anyone else. You’ll be fine.

      1. allathian*

        I didn’t buy any clothes for our son until he was about 5 years old. First reason, I’m in Finland and we invented the baby box, so I got a few sets of baby clothes from that. Our son is also the first grandchild of two families, so he got plenty of baby clothes from both my MIL and my mom. I had to tell both of them quite firmly that no matter how cute the tiny baby clothes are, I had enough. Some sets he didn’t get to wear more than once before he outgrew them, because he had so many. I admit that I wasn’t very fussy about changing his clothes in the middle of the day. If he got food past his bib and it got his clothes dirty, I didn’t care unless it was wet enough to reach his skin and cause discomfort.

        My bestie has a son who’s a year older than mine, so I got a lot of hand-me-downs from her. Another friend has a son who’s a year younger than mine, so I passed a lot of baby clothes to him. Both of his parents are tall, so when he was 4 years old he was as tall as my 5-year-old. I’ve also given away a lot of his old clothes to charity. A coworker volunteers with an organization that helps asylum seekers, I’ve donated some of my son’s clothes that way.

        I also hated wearing the baby and to be honest, I never really got the hang of it. The sling was too complicated to use and so was the BabyBjörn front carrier. I did enjoy carrying him in my arms, but only when I wasn’t doing anything else. Some of my friends would hold their baby in the crook of their non-dominant arm and cook with the other. I’m simply too uncoordinated to attempt anything like that, so the baby bouncer got a lot of use. His pediatric nurse did tell me that he was unusually good at locating sound sources when he was 6 months, but because he didn’t seem to have any separation anxiety even when I wasn’t with him all the time, that’s what we did. By the time he started crawling, I let him roam pretty freely and only put him in the bouncer when I was cooking.

        My son also seemed to enjoy room-temperature formula when he was a bit older. I breastfed him until he was about 3.5 months when he weaned himself and firmly stuck to formula. I guess breastfeeding was simply too much work for him, I never had a lot of milk. We had the kind of liquid formula you can store in room temperature until you open it.

        My son vastly preferred industrially produced baby food to any I attempted to make, so I quit trying quite quickly. TBH it was a relief! Of course, it helps that while we’re by no means rich, we don’t have to consider every penny when we’re shopping.

    8. Perpetua*

      This will be highly highly dependent on your baby and your family habits, and many of those factors are not something you can know in advance. So I usually recommend a minimalist approach in advance because you can get most things on a short notice if necessary (well, COVID might be a factor in availability now as well).

      E.g. we got a baby that spit up basically never, so we didn’t need the extra sets of bed sheets I got for her crib. And you don’t need any bedding other than bed sheets, as pillows and covers (and especially crib bumpers) are actually a hazard for the baby. Just a sheet and a sleeping bag and that’s it. And if you’re bedsharing (which can definitely be done safely and is a much better option to do that safely than fall asleep with the baby in your arms on the couch, which will almost certainly happen), then even the sheets might not be necessary (but you might need an additional set of regular sheets).

      We had absolutely no need for a bottle warmer, as I was able to breastfeed exclusively, and we used no bottles at all. I wouldn’t get a pump in advance either, I’d get such appliances only after figuring out that we could really use them, if it came to that.

      I would DEFINITELY recommend a baby carrier, yes! That is the one thing about which I really feel that it helps parents so much, and I don’t know what I would’ve done without mine. I second the advice to try different options if you can, and don’t give up if it seems that you or your baby are not into it on the very first try or even first couple of tries. Sometimes it takes a bit for the baby to warm up to it, sometimes it takes carrying them when they’re happy and relaxed, sometimes it takes doing it while WE’RE calm and relaxed. There are babies who really don’t like it, but I think they’re in vast minority and that much more often it’s the case that the parents didn’t find a good fit for them. There are many options – a soft-structured carrier (Tula, Boba, Ergobaby, BabyBjorn and many more – the ones with a nice wide seat, don’t get the ones where the baby’s legs are not in a frog-like M-position); elastic wrap (great for the first couple of months, easy to use, can get too hot in the summer); woven wrap (has a bit of a learning curve, but once you learn how to wrap at least one carry, it can be very very comfortable and versatile, I’m a big fan), ring sling (some say it’s easier to learn and carry than a woven wrap, but for me they just never clicked)…

      Clothes – I think my baby spent most of her first couple of months in pyjamas/onesies, and then some bodysuits and soft leggings/pants combinations. In the beginning, we rotated around 7, max 10 sets, and washed her laundry every couple of days. Little babies really don’t need much, it’s mostly parents and other well-meaning parties who can’t stop buying clothes. :D But we didn’t have any guests due to COVID and we told our close ones not to buy us clothes, so that worked out well for us. I liked the kimono-style bodysuits that wrapped around the body, so I didn’t have to get them over her little head, but some of my friends hated those because they had more poppers, so that’s really a matter of individual preference. Pyjamas with zippers are great, but usually more expensive.

      Good luck and happy parenting! My baby is now almost 14 months old and it has been a truly great 14 months with her, even with COVID and everything in the world.

    9. LCS*

      A couple sets of crib sheets, and – I know this sounds weird – disposable puppy pee-pads from the pet store. Layer the crib like lasagna with pad/sheet/pad/sheet/pad/sheet. That way when there’s a nocturnal disaster you just peel off the top layer of sheet and padding and get the kid back to sleep without having to worry about properly changing bedding.

      Essential #2 for me was a proper jogging stroller. Not that I did a ton of jogging but the more rugged rubber tires I found made for a much smoother and quieter ride which meant the kiddos would stay asleep longer when out walking. And as they got older and heavier, it let me do some trails without getting bogged down in mud and ruts.

      I never bothered with a bottle warmer – used the microwave occasionally or they got used to room temperature. I never understood the microwave “hot spot” concern (like, bottles can be shaken!) and in terms of sanitizing, I always figured my gross un-showered post-partum body that they were also breast feeding from was worse than a washed bottle.

    10. Not A Manager*

      SO GLAD:
      – A huge stack of white onesies.
      – Cloth diapers. (We used disposable diapers *on* the baby, but we used the cloth ones *under* the baby for changing, and *over* him so that he did not squirt us.)
      – A large assortment of various weight receiving blankets. We used them for wrapping and swaddling, but also on the floor/under the baby/under equipment, etc.
      – We had a kind of baby sling in a wire frame that I loved. I don’t know what it’s called. Someone mentioned a baby hammock so I googled and it’s not that. It was a little wire frame with cloth slung in it, and the baby reclines at about 45 degrees.
      – I had a nursing pillow that I never used for nursing, but I did put it on a baby blanket and recline the baby in it.
      – Hospital grade breast pump and freezable, sealable plastic bags to pump into.
      – Nursing pads
      – Squirt bottle for episiotomy incision
      – Later on: food mill and small food processor for baby food.
      – We didn’t buy a fancy baby bath. We used a shallow plastic bin with a terry towel folded in the bottom of it, and later with a piece of foam rubber. I liked it because when the baby was very little you could use it on the floor instead of having to put it in the bathtub.
      – Fancy expensive baby buggy that had a removable pram attachment and a seat attachment that could face forward or backward. I used the pram attachment as a bassinet/baby carrier (it had handles), and when it was on the buggy I could pull the sleeping baby around the house with me. You could fit a lot of groceries/playground toys under the seat, and the thing was built like a tank.


      It’s hard to remember stuff that we just never used. I found all mechanical and hand pumps to be worthless. We did not use a bottle warmer, we just heated the milk in a bain marie. The doctor for my first made me supplement my breast milk with Vitamin D drops, which I thought from my research was unnecessary. The doctor for my second did not require that. I found that “stage one” commercial baby food that was made with only one ingredient (peaches, peas) was fine. The food mixtures for when the kid gets older were kind of sketchy and more expensive than making your own. I froze portions in muffin tins and then put them in zipper bags.

      1. Blackcat*

        On the vitamin D front, you can take 4-6000 IU a day. Most breastmilk does not have enough vitamin D because most women have a low ish amount. I find it bananas that the standard rec is to supplement the baby, not mom. Our pediatrician prefers the supplement mom approach.

      2. allathian*

        The 45 degree thing is a reclining baby bouncer, different from the suspended one that’s basically a kind of swing. Our son liked it too.

    11. Batgirl*

      My friend told me just the other day that buying the bottle warmer is her biggest regret. She says it’s a faff and it was infinitely more useful to get kiddo used to room temperature anyway. The other thing she wouldn’t do again is buy a new buggy/stroller; certainly not a fashionable one. She thinks it cost more than she would have believed, and that it was mostly the same as her friends’ second hand ones which are more of a bargain.

    12. Dark Macadamia*

      Carriers – I liked Moby or K’Tan for newborns and Tula when they got bigger.

      Boppy pillow – it seems silly but it’s so helpful with feeding, especially if you breastfeed, and I even slept on it when I was recovering from my C-section because it helped prop me up a little and keep me lying on my back. Get the C-shaped nursing pillow, not the lounger.

      OxiClean max force gel sticks

      Footie pajamas with zippers – snaps are a nightmare. I don’t care how cute the jammies are, the snaps aren’t worth it lol

      Didn’t need: bottle warmer, video baby monitor, stand-alone high chair (we used a little seat that attaches to a dining chair), designated changing table (we attached a pad to a dresser)

      1. Kt*

        Agree on the snaps. What kind of sadist thought snaps should still be used? Fumbling around at three am after waking up three times already, trying to snap these snaps around a small kicking person….

    13. Bulu Babi*

      Economics of baby stuff: if the life expectancy of an item is much longer than the time the baby takes to outgrow it, you can get it for free second hand, from parents eager to get rid of it. Example: clothes. My kid is now 18 months old and I bought maybe… Ten clothes pieces in his life. I also got a crib from a friend of a friend, endless baby playgrounds, a buggy, mobiles and a weird amount of stuffed toys. Other stuff I bought second hand, like a high chair, a play carpet, etc. Make friends with people with kids and let them know you welcome their stuff.
      The flip side is stuff that doesn’t get passed on because babies don’t outgrow it fast enough: cloths, bedding, pacifiers, bottles, everything food-related.
      Carrier: I loved the ergobaby 360 air, used it until he was 15 months or so. Definitely the most useful item I got!
      To forget: soft toys… Only now is he starting to show any interest at all. I only used the buggy in the first two months.

    14. Cambridge Comma*

      I was told to plan 14 outfits and that worked for us plus two for the changing bag, though that’s including air drying time so might be a European thing.
      I bought 5 million muslins…. I can’t remember what they are called in the US, burp cloths?…anyway, I got a baby who never threw up. A 3 or 5 pack is fine to start with.
      Newborns don’t need much, you can get it later. Slings are really useful, for example, but you can’t use most of them until 3.5 kg so it’s easy to wait. You might need a cot but I don’t know anyone who didn’t end up with the baby in their bed for the first months.
      The two things I wished I had had ready were fenugreek and nipple shields, though if you have a place that sells nipple shields near you with long opening hours that would do too.

    15. Natalie*

      Even though you’re planning to breastfeed, I would suggest having a few bottles of readymade formula available. The first few days can be rocky, and it’s an enormous relief to know that you have something available that you can open and feed in a pinch. It will not ruin your baby for breastfeeding and the readymade formula is completely sterile so safest for newborns. And, if you don’t use them, you can generally donate them or keep in the diaper bag or car as an emergency backup for any non-breastfeeding caregivers.

      In general, unless you are very far from a general retailer (think, Target), it’s much easier to buy things as you need them than lay in a bunch of stuff ahead of time. You don’t know what your kid will like or need until it comes up! But I never needed a bottle warmer or wipes warmer. Our daughter drank fridge temp expressed milk bottles and room temp formula bottles when I stopped pumping.

      SO MUCH stuff is available free or cheap, and as long as you check that it wasn’t recalled and inspect it for obvious defects, should be perfectly safe.

    16. rkz*

      Like others have said you definitely don’t need a bottle warmer. We have a bunch of old (clean) greek yogurt tuba that we fill with water from the sink as hot as we can get it and then just put the bottle in for 5-10 minutes or so and it warms right up!

      I didn’t baby carry all the time, but it was super handy for days when he was fussy and just wanted to be held. And you never know if your baby will be one who wants to be held all the time.

    17. Why?*

      Do not use the microwave. If you want to warm up the milk place the bottle in a pot on the stove or even just water that just heated up. The milk doesn’t need to be very warm just not ice cold.

    18. Pennyworth*

      Babies need very little. Avoid gadgets until you know you need them to improve your life. The only thing I bought in a rush was a pacifier because my daughter wouldn’t settle, which proved to be a waste because she didn’t take to it. You will get swamped with advice, a lot of which will be unhelpful – like being told you need a bottle warmer when you are planning to nurse! Just no. In fact, you can manage with virtually no baby ”gear”, as long as the baby has somewhere safe and warm to sleep, is well fed, and dressed in something clean and dry. They can even sleep in a box – the famous Finnish Kela baby box of basic baby goods, which is provide free to all expectant mothers in Finland, comes with a mattress so the newborn can sleep in it.

    19. Annie Oakley*

      Must have: baby swing. LIFE SAVER. Started both kiddos early with it and they would sit there contentedly and watch me clean/cook/whatever (I don’t really like baby wearing, unless I’m hiking or something like that). Also, rarely had difficulty getting them to fall asleep for naps with it!

      Bottle warmer: didn’t have one, but spent most of second kiddo’s baby days wishing I had one (I was too cheap to buy one lol). I confess I resorted to the microwave (it kills all the good stuff in the milk and can create hotspots) because running it under hot water takes forever (especially when baby is crying). I nursed pretty exclusive, but there were sometimes I had to give bottles because kiddo drained the boobs and was still hungry. I pumped and froze milk due to working part time.

      I got my MIL a bottle warmer recently (she babysits all the grand babies) and she RAVES about it. Heats up bottles so fast, plus defrosts frozen milk quick too. I plan on buying one for my next kiddo.

      Clothes: 5-7 zip sleepers or onesies depending on how often you want to do laundry. Burp clothes are good for spit up, leaking boobs, containing poop explosions…so useful!

    20. Blackcat*

      White noise machine!
      Wrap carrier for newborn phase. Most soft structured carriers don’t fit tiny newborns well or start at 7lbs.
      Lots of button front pajama tops and an extra robe. Cheaper than “nursing” night wear.
      Higher quality peri bottle than the hospital gives out. Also, a home supply of colace or other stool softeners.
      Back out curtains.
      For us with a colicky baby who demanded to be held all the time, a giant fisher price swing was a lifesaver. That’s baby dependent though. But having a place I could put him down and have him not scream was essential to my sanity.
      Lansinoh makes these hot/cold gel packs for boobs. If you get engorged when your milk comes in, these are AMAZING. My cousin got them for me and I thought it was weird until the moment I needed them. I recommend two sets.

    21. ten four*

      Swaddles (Halo is good), swing, and white noise machines! Onesies with zippers, and shirts that wrap around (they hate having shirts pulled over their baby heads).

      1. allathian*

        My son didn’t, but it definitely helped to have shirts with snap fasteners on the shoulders, for a bigger gap for his head.

    22. Fellow Traveller*

      We did not have a bottle warmer – we just warmed in a cup of water, and it took about two minutes. I did buy one of those electric kettles that keep the water at a certain temperature so that we could have hot water when we needed to prep a bottle. Before we got the kettle, I would boil water in the morning and keep it in a thermos to keep it hot without having to re-boil the water. Maybe ask your husband if he wants a bottle warmer?
      Things I bought that I loved:
      – the OXO vertical bottle drying rack. It takes up so much less space and is so much easier to clean than my previous bottle racks. I know it’s silly, but the rack makes me so happy every time I look at it because it is so perfect for what it does.
      – several well fitting nursing bras and cute nursing clothes. It took until my third child to realize that I was worth spending money on, and spending money on clothes that made me feel good and put together and which made nursing easier was not frivolous. I know some people don’t think it’s worth spending money on clothes that you only wear for a year, but by my third kid, I did not fall into that camp.
      -baby carrier (K’tan, ring sling, Gemini, and Ergo were my favorites)
      -stroller and, before we got our stroller, our snap ‘n’ go (this was my husband’s most loved piece of baby gear).
      -a diaper roll so that I could keep back up diapers and wipes and a change of clothes in the car – because that one time your baby has a blowout in a restaurant and you forgot to restock your diaper bag…
      – baby gate, or specifically the North States play yard – let us create safe spaces or section off the stereo equipment in the basement.
      – a pump with a rechargeable battery (I had the Spectra S1 and the Freemie Liberty). Made pumping so much simpler not to have to plug in all the time.
      -Nose Frida and a baby thermometer.
      -flannel and muslin blankets for swaddling. Some people prefer the zip up swaddles, but we liked wrapping the baby like a burrito.
      -we also switched out the light switches in the baby’s room to be dimmable to be able to control the brightness level in the room.
      For bedding, I’d suggest to get as many waterproof mattress pads as sheets. What we did was layer several sheets and mattress pads on the mattress, so that if we needed to change the sheets in the middle of the night, all we had to do was strip the top two layers off to reveal clean sheets underneath. The number of sheets really depends on whether or not you have easy access to a washing machine. We only had three sets, and we have our own washer and dryer.
      Same with clothes – depends on how much laundry you want to do, but I’d suggest having two to three outfits a day at first. They go through fewer as they get older.

      1. allathian*

        Yup, and the amount of clothes you need also depends on how fussy you are about clean clothes. I let my son wear dirty clothes unless he was soaked to the skin or had a diaper accident. Food stains on his front didn’t bother me at all if they got past his bib.

  25. Blue Eagle*

    Nonfiction thread.
    The library notified me last Saturday that I cleared the waitlist for Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and I finished it yesterday. This is a great book for anyone who answers “black lives matter” with “all lives matter”. It is well-written, engaging, and an eye-opener as Wilkerson explains the history of black subjugation from 1619 through the end of slavery, then through the civil rights era and then through 2020.
    After reading ~10 books to understand the BLM movement, this is the best book to read first as a good basis for the other books.
    What good non-fiction is everyone else reading?

    1. Ramona Q*

      Wilkerson’s book is actually inaccurate in a lot of ways, and grossly misrepresents previous work on class and race. Check out Charisse Burden-Stelly’s essay in the Boston Review.

    2. Helvetica*

      Ohh, I love non-fiction lately, but I do tend to read it in chunks, especially if it is information-heavy.
      I’ve been reading Ronen Bergman’s” Rise and kill first” for the best part of the last six months. It’s a very well-researched book about the history of targeted assassinations by Israeli intelligence agencies, from before there was Israel, starting in 1907. I find it a good read because it’s clear the author has done his research, he mixes documental accounts with interviews with agents and at least for me, really builds the context of these assassinations. I also like how he doesn’t make moral judgements on such a heavy topic but doesn’t shy away from pointing out the faults, the mistakes, the bias, the blindness and the worthiness of such methods. Highly good read.
      I also recently bought another book I’m very excited to read because it seems to cover an area not well-researched. It’s called “Regretting motherhood” by Orna Donath and it includes interviews with women who became mothers but well, regret it. My interest was piqued by the shorter research paper from the same author done as a part of her PhD. As someone who has mixed feelings about possible motherhood, I do value this as a different and additional point of view on the topic of motherhood.

    3. Be the Change*

      “How to Be an Antiracist” (Ibram X. Kendi) was equally outstanding. Also, since I am a college professor, “Ungrading” edited by Susan Blum.

      And when I need to feel better, Gretchen Rubin in general. :-)

    4. Nicki Name*

      My favorite recent one is Great Adaptations by Kenneth Catania, about investigating weird animals like star-nosed moles and electric eels. Both informative and entertaining (but warning, there’s a chapter that talks about a parasitic wasp in detail, which will have a squick factor for some people). It’s #OverlyHonestMethods, The Book.

    5. GoryDetails*

      Currently reading ON TRAILS: AN EXPLORATION by Robert Moor, which mixes actual trail-hiking (as in the Appalachian Trail) with meanderings onto the nature of trails, primordial fossilized trails, the psychology of trails, and more. I’m only a few chapters in and have already tagged many, many quotable bits, and the book’s looking like it’ll make my top-reads-of-the-year. [I’d consider it a “biography of things”, in a way; non-fiction that takes a single item or concept and delves into as many aspects of that as the author can dig up.]

      Have also been enjoying the “Silent Traveller” books by Chiang Yee, describing his travels in (primarily) the 1950s and ’60s. His style is a mix of chatty and philosophical, and he takes pleasure in the smallest details as well as the most impressive landmarks. Am currently reading SILENT TRAVELLER IN PARIS and delighting in it, especially when his path intersects my own from a long-ago but well-remembered visit.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        As an enthusiastic hiker, On Trails sounds like an interesting book. I’m going to check this one out as well, so thanks for the tip.

  26. Teapot Translator*

    Exercise thread! Tell me all about what you’ve been doing!
    I do have a general question this week. Does anyone have hypermobility? I learned this week that I have hypermobility (like, I knew I used to be more flexible than other people, but I’m not contortionist-like flexible) and that that may be why I keep injuring myself. I’m now in search of a trainer that specializes in that (not a lot of them where I am) and of exercises I can do work strength my muscles (to compensate for my flexible joints in my ankles). So any resources would be much appreciated.
    But this is also a general thread! So feel free to ignore my question!

    1. Anon for this*

      You could look into physical therapy or injury prevention for people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        That’s what I ended up finding on YouTube (videos for people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome). I’ve googled for that kind of physical therapy in my geographic area, and people with the syndrome are out of luck. There’s not a lot available.

    2. Arabella Flynn*

      I do! Others have suggested things like swimming as forgiving for joints that keep popping out. Personally, I chose dance, both as a profession and as PT. Ballet might not be best for you, especially if (like me) your hips are worst joints, but taking a dance-based workout class like barre conditioning from a real dance instructor may be helpful. A lot of dancers have trained themselves into hypermobility in the major joints, and barre helps build the strength to keep all your rattly bones place. If you happen to be in the Boston area, I can recommend some specific teachers.

      1. Arabella Flynn*

        (actually, some of them have started doing classes on zoom, so I can recommend them from anywhere!)

      2. Teapot Translator*

        Don’t I need a bar fixed to a wall to do barre? That’s the only kind I’ve ever done.

        1. MissCoco*

          I’ve used countertops, and heavy chairs for home barre workouts.
          My current house I can use our porch railing as long as it’s nice enough to be outside.
          There are some moves that don’t work well, but for many things those are passable supports or balance helpers without any issues.

          Many of the home videos are designed with the limitation that most people don’t have a barre at home in mind

    3. another scientist*

      A balance board has been recommended to me for this. It strengthens the muscles around ankles and knees, to compensate for the loose bits. It’s pretty affordable and easy to find in a sporting goods store or online. Then you just need to manage to use it regularly.

    4. OyHiOh*

      I have very noticable hyper mobility in my wrists and fingers, less so in my hips, knees, and ankles. I twist and sprain my ankles if I look at rough ground the wrong way. Through trial and error, I’ve learned that running is too hard on my knees, and that walking, cycling, and swimming are much better.

      I’d work with a physical therapist first, to get a “prescription” for types of movement, then take that information to a trainer who can keep you on the right track.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        That’s my rough plan. But I’m having a hard time finding a physical therapist with an expertise in hypermobility. In the meantime, I found a few videos on YouTube to work on ankle strength. The search continues on.

    5. twocents*

      Sorry, I don’t know anything about hypermobility; I hope you can find something to help!

      For my own exercises, I’m still sticking with Ring Fit Adventure. I looked at my workout shirt today (from an old 5k) and realized it’s been almost 5 years since I was running regularly! I’m hoping that the weather will perk up and I can work on getting back in shape for running again.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Exercising outside is really great. I went for a short bike ride yesterday. So good.

    6. KeinName*

      Yes, me! At least the term was mentioned to me by medical professionals a couple of times and yoga classes are always impressed by how far I can bend over (I can rest the palms of my hands on the floor with straight legs). That‘s my only specialty though. And I quit yoga because I lack motivation for strength training and it always hurt for weeks when there were a lot of downward dogs. I take walks and go on long bike rides now, and bend forwards during blowdrying my hair for fun :-)

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I have hypermobility in my ankles, so walks and hiking bring on problems. And it’s so frustrating because that’s the activities I like most!
        Also Zumba, but I’ve been once again told to avoid Zumba, so I’m finally starting to think I should just give up on it forever and ever and concentrate on other sports.

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      A friend of mine was diagnosed with hypermobility and what she found really helpful was physical therapy rather than seeing a personal trainer. Can you get a referral from a doctor to a physical therapist? As an aside, I tend to think that physical therapists are deities given how much they have helped me over the years with everything from stretches for aching muscles to recovery from a knee replacement.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I’m having a hard time finding physiotherapists that advertise hypermobility as an expertise. I am seeing one for a problem with my knees so I’ll ask her if she knows about it or knows someone else that’s good for that.
        I’m looking for a trainer, too, because in my experience, physiotherapists give a few exercises, but they don’t give training programs. And if I don’t have a training program, I’ll start doing exercise on my own and hurt myself again.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m pretty much opposite — my muscles are and have always been extremely UN-stretchy. I slipped and fell this week so once again I’ve hurt something. It wasn’t even a strenuous hike, just crossing over a flat car-blocking stone at a historic site.
      I’m thinking physical therapist might be in my future to figure out how to stop doing this.

      1. OyHiOh*

        You may be hypermobile without realizing it – hypermobility is a dysfunction of connective tissues, like ligaments, being more stretchy then they should be. It’s not uncommon for muscles to tighten as a protective mechanism against the too-stretchy ligaments. I could comfortably put my palms on the ground without bending knees, except that my hamstring muscles are much tighter than they “should” be. So that’s one thing to look at.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I guess….but I’m doubtful. This has gone on my entire life. Way back in junior high, I decided to work towards touching my toes. After a year of regular stretching I managed it, and lost it as soon as I stopped the stretches. :(

          1. Teapot Translator*

            OyHiOh is right. You can be hypermobile in some joints and not others.
            For example, when I try to stand on one leg, my foot is all wobbly. It’s because of hypermobility. Might be worth mentioning if you consult a physiotherapist.

        2. Teapot Translator*

          Hmmm, you made me realize that my leg muscles are very tight. It may be because of my ankles!

    9. MissCoco*

      I got a bike trainer and set it up this week! It *just* fits in a previously useless awkward corner of my apartment.
      I’ve been struggling with working out recently, so I’m excited about having a way to get a workout in without having to gather any supplies or make sure a route is the right length for the amount of time I have.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The exercise bike in our house is set up facing the TV– we’ve all had times now where we lost track of time and did more than expected.

        1. MissCoco*

          LOL ours is set up with the front tire less than an inch from a wall, but it’s my old commuting bike, so we are using the basket filled with a couple old towels as a kind of device stand. I enjoyed a TV and bike this morning – after a year of no gym time, I forgot how nice it is to be fully distracted during exercise!

  27. Washi*

    Has anyone moved to a place because they liked it, not so much for a job or family? My husband and I are about to move from DC to my home state, mainly for lifestyle reasons (we’ll be much much closer to my family which is awesome, but still a little over an hour away, and my best friend lives an hour in the opposite direction.) We both are excited about all the area has to offer (easy access to outdoors, more relaxed mini city, lower cost of living) but are also a bit nervous about moving to a place where we literally know no one within 50 miles. We do have jobs and an apartment lined up.

    I really can’t imagine myself living in DC forever, but we have been relatively happy and comfortable here. And I don’t know anyone who moved so much for lifestyle factors and part of me wonders if what we’re doing is kinda crazy!

    1. Asenath*

      Maybe it is not quite the same thing, but years ago, after moving around a lot, and liking most of the places I lived in, I got a job back in my home province. I didn’t stay in that original job all that long, but I’ve remained in the same province, and mostly in the same location, ever since. Not only any old school friends, but also most of my family, aside from a few elderly relatives, had long since moved away. I was advised by some of them, many times, to move somewhere with more opportunities, especially better jobs (usually a bigger city in another province, or even in another country). But I like it here, I’ve stayed, and have absolutely no regrets that I chose to move where I did when I returned to my home country. And I made that choice because I like living here, which I guess is lifestyle factors!

    2. Sylvan*

      I chose my college for the city. I liked the school, too, and its tuition rates, but I knew exactly what I was doing lol. It was the right choice!

    3. Chaordic One*

      When I was much younger I lived in Los Angeles for several years and I really loved it there. In spite of the crowds and the traffic and the air pollution I just loved the energy and the arts communities and I met lots of interesting people. Unfortunately, my rent just kept rising (27% one year) and I couldn’t find affordable housing. I just couldn’t make a living there and ended up moving away.

      I’m not crazy about the place I live now and I moved here for work. Still, I have been able to find my tribe and it is bearable. COVID has made things quite a bit worse, but I think that things will get better by the end of the year when most people are vaccinated.

    4. Should I apply*

      I moved across country mostly for lifestyle. I was able to get a job there which helped me afford the move, but mostly did it because I wanted something different from where I was living. It was definitely hard at first, because I didn’t know many people in my new city, but 8 years later I still live here and don’t regret it.

    5. Spessartine*

      I moved to Colorado from the Midwest last year just because I wanted to. I’d lived in my home state my whole life and always knew I wanted to go west, and preferably to Colorado. I hated the humidity, excruciatingly boring landscape, and constant gloomy overcast skies and rain of my home state. I did intermittent job searches in CO and surrounding states for a couple years before finding the right thing. I don’t have any friends or relatives in Colorado, except for a cousin I barely know; I just wanted to live in a place with good weather, dry air, and of course, mountains! Every day I’m so happy that we made the move (my sister came with me). We like the city itself a lot less than where we came from–it’s much smaller and somewhat more expensive–but being able to take off hiking into the mountains on a moment’s notice, or actually *do* things in the summer without drowning as soon as you step outside, more than makes up for the downsides. Not to mention the wealth of sunshine, which has a significant positive impact on my mood in general. As far as friends go, it is a bummer being 24 hours of driving away from them all, but we keep up with texting and video chat and promises to visit each other as soon as it’s practical again. I can’t say I’ve really made any friends in Colorado yet, but I’m a huge introvert and combined with the pandemic making meeting people difficult, I’m not too bothered by it.

      So in summary, I highly recommend moving for lifestyle reasons and don’t think you’re crazy at all!

    6. Perpetua*

      I don’t think it’s crazy at all! Lifestyle factors are such a huge factor in overall happiness, and it’s probably more a coincidence that you don’t know anyone who did it, and I think it’s much much more common than you think.

      I can’t really offer any experience yet, but my partner and I are thinking about moving to another country in another part of Europe purely for things you could call lifestyle factors as well. We have a nice life in our country, and our toddler gets to have both sets of doting grandparents here, we have friends we’d miss, but we’re also frustrated with our country’s many political issues and would like to at least try living in a country that seems to be a better match for our values overall.

      It’s not easy to leave the comfort zone, and it’s okay to feel nervous before big changes, most of us do. Come back here in a year or so, to check in and share how you feel then :)

    7. ronda*

      I moved east coast state to west coast state just before pandemic broke… for the weather not being so hot.
      I also retired.
      Not doing great at meeting people, but I still like it better than being so hot all summer. :)

    8. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I always want to be where I want to be location wise! To me, work and the job are secondary but I want to be somewhere geographical that makes me happy. And I end up always finding a job that is at least satisfactory! But when I go home, at the end of the work day, at least I’m where I want to be, with the lifestyle I want to have

    9. Generic Name*

      I moved to the Denver area because I wanted to. I was living in the south (not where I’m from) and I was tired of the weather etc. I’ve been here for 14 years, and have no plans to leave. I don’t have family here but I have made a really good group of friends over the years. I definitely moved here for the lifestyle factor and haven’t regretted it for a moment.

    10. Coenobita*

      Not weird at all! People move for all sorts of reasons – if it makes you feel any better, you are putting much more thought into things compared to when I moved simply because I wanted to get *away* from where I’d been living. (My then-boss called a meeting one day and said something like, “We need to even out staffing levels across our offices. Anyone interested in transferring to a different city?” I still live there/here 10+ years later but that could’ve worked out all sorts of ways!)

    11. Washi*

      Thanks all for the much needed reassurance it’s ok to try something new! Right now we’re in the stage of saying goodbye to everyone and it’s easy to second guess since our friends are happy for us but also a good bit of “nooooo you’re leavingggggg :(” Of course I’m glad our friends like us enough to be sad we’re moving, but honestly 3 weeks of various goodbye hangouts (outdoors) has been pretty tough emotionally.

  28. Llellayena*

    What’s the sweetest thing your significant other has done for you?

    My long-distance boyfriend sent me flowers this week, the day before a major deadline I was stressing about. And right now he’s in my kitchen washing the dishes from last night’s dinner (he’s visiting this weekend and also cooked that dinner)!

    1. SarahKay*

      Smuggled a jar of Marmite intoe the US for me in his luggage. We were snowboarding in Canada, followed by a few days staying with friends in New York before flying back to the UK. I bought a jar in Canada to have at breakfast, and was loathe to throw it away, but didn’t have the nerve to try and get an opened jar into the US. He put the jar in his luggage instead, and presented it to me when we’d made it safely to New York.
      What makes it even sweeter is that he despises Marmite himself.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Aww, the way to your heart is through your stomach!

      We started dating in undergrad. One time I was very stressed and didn’t want to stop working on homework. A few days ago I’d mentioned how much I love french toast, and he vanished for 20 minutes and came back with French toast for me!! When I told this to a friend, she said “omg marry him” and I said “I intend to.”

    3. Jess*

      Before we lived together, when I was working 60+ hour weeks, one day I walked up to my door at 11pm to find that he had delivered a home cooked dinner to my front steps. He didn’t have a car at the time either, so he had biked it over as a surprise. More recently, I got my pilot’s license and after my first solo, he was really excited for me and took my cut up shirt from the flight (it’s one of the customary things they do after your first solo flight, it has the date, the airport, the runway, etc.) and framed it and hung it up in our living room. He’s a good egg!

      1. pancakes*

        I had a boyfriend who was a pilot once, and he had an elderly friend who owned a small airport and had taught hundreds of women’s auxiliary service pilots—WASPs—to fly during WWII. The tradition for them then was to hang their bras in a hangar!

    4. Yellow Warbler*

      Wrote, performed, and recorded a song for me that got radio play (on the local station during their local artists segment, not nationally).

    5. Perpetua*

      He secretly got my friends to record video greetings for me and surprise me with them on my 30th birthday. <3

      I'm a HUGE sucker for such sentimental shows of affection, and I'm usually the one organizing them for others, so to have someone do this for me was really touching and unexpected.

    6. Lady Lynn Waterton of Bellashire*

      We have a fence with a gate that we pass through to get to our cars/to the street (so every time we leave our house). It scrapes on the stone walkway below it and only opens a foot or two so I have to turn sideways to get through it (and I’m petite). It’s infuriating. Today, he took it off the hinges and sawed off the bottom inch or two and it doesn’t scrape now and opens all the way!! It absurdly makes my quality of life substantially better.

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        My husband would have done this! It’s the really practical stuff that makes me melt. :) Once, before we were married, my now-husband installed extra RAM in my computer while I was in the shower. O, my heart! Another time he ordered a new silicone seal for the lid of my Klean Kanteen because mine had gotten mildew stains. Love. What can I say.

    7. Grey skies*

      When we were dating, I mentioned once to my now husband that I couldn’t find a particular book from my childhood. He tracked it down for me and surprised me with it. This is definitely the way to a booklovers heart!

      1. MissCoco*

        That is so sweet and meaningful!

        My partner has been giving me books since I started school this fall.
        He picks a new one when I’m about halfway through a current read.
        I’m loving not having to decide what to read, reaping the benefits of his intense research process, and it’s extra thoughtful since we definitely have different reading preferences.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      I had actually told Mr T I wanted a break from dating him. No talking, no emails, no visits, nothing.

      But he saw on my blog that my washer and dryer had both broken.

      I came home to find a voicemail that he had bought a plane ticket from Chicago to Memphis and rented a car in Memphis. If I didn’t want him to show up and repair my major appliances, I needed to let him know before he left to catch the bus from Milwaukee to O’Hare.

    9. Generic Name*

      It’s hard to pick just one. When we were dating I had had a really stressful day at work, a d we had planned the spend the weekend together. When I arrived at his house, he took one look at me and said, “what’s wrong?!?” and proceeded to set me up with some hot cocoa and a movie while he took his after work shower.

      The old deck on my house was leaning and sort of falling off the house. He insisted on leveling it and adding some screws because he was worried for my and my son’s safety. (He rebuilt it after he moved in)

      On days where I’m working but he isn’t, he still wakes up early to have coffee with me. Sometimes me makes me breakfast on those days too.

      He loves my son as his own.

    10. Coenobita*

      My now-spouse and I were long-distance for a long time over various periods (including for the first year we were married!) so I have a lot of those stories. My favorite is from the summer I had a seasonal Forest Service job and spent a few months living in a government bunkhouse. I didn’t bother bringing a pillow with me because I figured I could just stuff clothes into a pillowcase like when I’m camping. (That is… not ideal for a whole summer, even if you are 22.) One day I came home to the bunkhouse and there was a pillow waiting for me with the mail :)

    11. Figgie*

      My spouse can fix, repair and build just about anything from a computer to remodeling the entire kitchen including wiring, plumbing, cabinet installation and flooring. He did the same for the bathroom. A couple of years ago, he replaced our totally unable to be fixed flooring with brand new luxury vinyl plank flooring.

      We live in an old, plaster and lathe house. After he replaced all the doors in the house, he then went up and re-did the broken out plaster and lathe above and beside the door and did it so well that even if you look, you can’t tell what was done. :-)

      None of this is stuff he loves to do…he works with computers which is his main hobby. But he does it because I ask him to do it and he never complains about giving up his limited free time to do that kind of stuff. Thanks to him, our house is pretty much completely set-up for us to age in place after he retires.

      Oh, and we live in the frozen north and he always uncovers and starts my car on those cold, snowy winter mornings so that I don’t have to do that. :-)

    12. Laura Petrie*

      When we got married, we walked down the aisle together to the theme tune from Detectorists.

      The first time we went to see Johnny Flynn live, during the encore he shushed the crowd and told everyone that the next song he was about to do he’d never played live before. He went on to say that someone had contacted him on Twitter the previous night and asked him to play that song as they’d had it at their wedding.

      The Tweeter was my husband and he’d secretly requested the song. He really isn’t one for romantic gestures so I was both surprised and delighted.

    13. Small town*

      I am *not* a morning person. My husband is. Every day he brings me a cup of coffee in bed as I wake. A few years back, after he had a hip replacement (and I was up and down all night with his medications and my worries, etc) I heard a “bump, click” on the stairs. Two days in from surgery. I came flying out of bed to check on him and he waved me back. The bump was the walker moving up a stair and the click was my coffee mug, going ahead. Of course, I was beside myself. His response was just “well, it is something I do, right?”

  29. Hotdog not dog*

    My elderly best good dog has received an unfortunate diagnosis of osteosarcoma in his jaw. The treatment, which we have declined, would involve a very disabling surgery followed by chemo and would give him approximately a 25% chance of another year. Instead of putting him through that, we have decided that every day will be “yes day” for him. So far he’s been on several walks in the woods, gone for car rides, had takeout puppaccinos, tons of extra belly rubs and snacks, and has been allowed to sleep in the bed with us. For those of you who know how to really spoil a pet, what other bucket list ideas might he like? He’s still active and mostly pain free(with the help of some meds). We want him to have the best time for however much longer he has.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My senior buddy loves the beach. He also loves meat and marrow bones. A couple of weeks ago we took him to an historical site where he was allowed to roam off-leash and I haven’t seen him that happy in years. Lots of hugs to your bud!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My dog loved rolling in smelly things, chasing balls, licking ice cream cups & yoghurt cups, and sleeping on the sofa.
      A friend’s dog loved watching out the window from the headrest of her overstuffed 1980s sofa. As he got older, she set up doggy stairs to let him climb up & down rather than jump.

    3. twocents*

      My dog loves when I can take her to new places and just let her nose around. I’m lucky that my state has a lot of parks to help make that possible.

      Give your puppy all the snuggles from us. ❤

    4. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      My heart goes out to you and yours. Only twice have we had any advance warning that the end was close, and then only by a few hours. Both were old tom cats and we gave both of them thier favorite “forbidden” goodie as a last meal. The first got a bowl of green olives, chopped and the pimentos removed. Crazy cat would try to steal them out a persons mouth as they ate them. The second got all the roast beef and pork barbecue he could eat. Never have I seen such a sick cat purr so loud as when that bowl was set in front of him. When there’s no warning, we place thier favorite toys and food in thier casket before burial. We had a miniature poodle who was buried with a bag of popcorn and a bunny rabbit that went with a half a package of golden oreos. Lil bunny learned to sit up and beg like a dog would for a golden oreo. Dang it, someone has started cutting onions around here.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      Some great ideas, thank you! Today we got a group of his friends from the dog park to go for a pack walk together in the park, and finished with a little puppy picnic with vanilla frozen yogurt topped with strawberries and bacon bits. This is the first time we’ve ever had advance notice. We might have a few more weeks or only a few more days, and honestly the only thing keeping me from falling apart is planning special things for him. We adopted him as an adult, and since the first part of his life was difficult we’re trying to make up for it now.

  30. dog question?*

    Dog question: How do you know how much dog barking is too much dog barking? I have what feels like *very* barky dogs beneath me (barking/growling at each other frequently throughout the day, w/o apparent intervention from the neighbors), and it really stresses me out. But I’m also reluctant to actually say anything, because I don’t want to be a pest. Trying to calibrate my expectations here.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      As a dog owner who lives in an apartment, I would get frustrated if my neighbors complained if my dog barked once or twice, then maybe again a few hours later. But consistent barking that goes on for longer periods (say, more than 10 minutes and frequently throughout the day) is disruptive.

      If the humans aren’t home, they may have no idea. I would want to know if my dog were barking a lot if I wasn’t there. So if you decide to write a note, start with, “You may be gone and not aware, but your dogs bark a lot during the day, etc.” with the tone of, “Here’s a heads up.” One of my former neighbors adopted a puppy who was barky at first and she got a nasty, shaming note threatening to call Animal Control and calling her a horrible person. Don’t do that. :-)

    2. alex b*

      I’m *that* dog owner in an apartment building. During the day, my two dogs bark enthusiastically every couple of hours for <3 minutes at a time (they hear something suspect, they enter play-mode, they’re hungry, etc.).

      There’s nothing I can do other than try to shut it down as quickly as possible with distractions and gentle discipline. If your neighbors are home, they’re probably doing that. There’s no humane practice that prevents short, periodic barking spells.

      IMO “frequently throughout the day” in short spats is totally acceptable. When you’re in a dog friendly building, this is the deal. There's no point in saying anything to them.

      Extended barking for 30mins+ straight is concerning; that likely indicates that nobody’s home, and the dogs may be in distress, so in that case I’d want a heads-up note. Otherwise, dogs are gonna dog.

      Maybe you can look into soundproofing your own living space? White-noise machines, rugs, etc.?

    3. Dan*

      This is one of those threads where the owners of barking dogs will defend their dogs’ right to bark, you know?

      I’m lucky, I have a dog that rarely barks when he’s not in the presence of other dogs. I know this is unusual, but so it goes. I also live in a unit where the sound doesn’t carry very well. As in… I only have one other neighbor on my floor (the other “neighbors” are the building’s storage unit), and I had the same guy across the hall from me for like five years. He had a pit mix, and I don’t think I ever heard that dog bark.

      The new neighbors? They have a barky dog. That dog’s barks *carry* through the walls. I can deal with barks for a few minutes here and there, but if they were extended or frequent sessions? There’d be some talks.

      The only time I ever complained about a neighbor’s dog was one evening, I heard barking nonstop for at least an hour. The dog was across the courtyard, and I had all my doors closed. And I could still hear it. (Imagine the neighbors *in* the building. Oof.) I haven’t heard that dog bark since.

      And the other day, I was out walking my guy in the complex, and I could heard a dog barking loudly while I was still on the other side of the complex. Those neighbors must not have been happy.

      How much barking is too much barking? It’s really hard to say without context. Buildings may be “pet friendly” but they also come with noise regulations too. I wouldn’t be happy with the levels of barking that you describe, and I’d probably say something to management. It’s their job to deal with it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Growing up, my parents got me a dog. I was crazy about her. The neighbors next door were not very nice people. One of the many things they did was they reported our dog for barking. At that time, if she barked we would run and get her. So it was maybe 2-3 barks each time, and this occurred maybe 3 times a week. And they reported us for that. The dog control officer came to the house and said the next time the dog barks, the dog will have to be destroyed. (wtf! Now, older me would push back on that one.)

        We got that dog trained not to bark, EVER. We did not want her taken from us. Time passed and we got new neighbors on the other side of us. One night I caught two kids trying to break into our house. I alerted my father who let the dog out. She had a bark like a bass drum- reverb and all. The new neighbors each called us. “I have lived here all these years and never heard your dog. I thought the you had her voice box removed. What do you need an ambulance, fire truck, police? I know something is really wrong!”

        It can be done to train a dog that strictly but it can be a lot of tension in the household. I think a reasonable expectation is a few barks and the owners jump in. As an adult, I always check on my dogs when they bark and what happens is the dogs learn to look for me to come see what the problem is. I tell them “it’s okay” and they stop.

        1. dog question?*

          Yeah, 2-3 barks a few times a week is 100% not what my neighbors dogs are doing.

          Trust me, there’s not really any intervention going on.

      2. alex b*

        “This is one of those threads where the owners of barking dogs will defend their dogs’ right to bark, you know?”

        Or, this is one of those threads where the owners of magical, non-barking dogs throw shade, you know?

        OP said they wanted to calibrate expectations. Lovely, well-adjusted dogs– including my own– bark off and on in quick spats every day. That’s normal, and in a dog-friendly apartment building, you should expect to live with it; there’s nothing to complain about. So it goes.

        1. Dan*

          It’s not my opinion that matters, it’s the opinion of building management. I don’t have the power to evict anybody for breaking the terms of a lease, they do. If management tries to evict somebody, they’re free to argue their side to a judge.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      Some dogs are more “talkative” than others, but in general as long as it’s intermittent rather than constant, it’s probably normal. If they’re barking at odd hours or for an extended time, then your neighbor should be addressing it.

      1. dog question?*

        I guess it feels like an extended time to me, which is why I’m here?

        By which I mean, 1) every time someone comes to the door, 2) growling at each other for 20-30+ minutes in play late in the evening (but more than the barking, the growling really makes me anxious) and 3) if they do start barking, it’s usually for 10ish+ minutes, then again a couple times throughout the day.

        I mentioned something once, went over well, but it’s been getting worse over the last few weeks.

        1. dog question?*

          (also, please no more comments about soundproofing. I have soundproofed as much as this place will allow. I am literally living in headphones in my two back rooms to avoid the dogs.)

        2. Maree*

          My suggestion is keeping detailed records. This will help in two ways. 1) put things on perspective if it is in fact not unreasonable. 2) give you a starting point to talk with the neighbours if it is unreasonable. I suggest looking at City ordinances to see what is considered reasonable in your context. In my city it is 6 minutes per hour in daylight hours and 3 minutes in any thirty minutes overnight.
          As a dog owner I feel any barking overnight is problematic and should be addressed urgently. Daylight I feel long stints (more than two minutes?)

        3. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I have a dog. That much barking would drive me crazy. My neighbor down the hall has two yappy pups who start up when anyone passes their door in the hallway. Every time I walk by, I find it extremely irritating and I’m lucky I don’t live next to her.

          If it’s almost daily like this, document and take it to management.

          I am a bit surprised that you hear growling, which makes me think your floors might be super thin. If that’s the case, there may not be too much anyone can do except move out.

        4. Natalie*

          Growling during play is incredibly normal, probably not controllable, and not anything to be alarmed by. I understand it may make you anxious regardless, but I just want to mention that as many people think of growling as a danger sign only.*

          I own 2 dogs and IMO 10 minutes of barking is way too much, and definitely something you should consider pursuing with the neighbor, landlord, and/or animal control.

          *That said, if you, human, are interacting with a dog and they growl you should treat it as a warning and give them space immediately. Never scold a dog for growling, unless you would like a dog that bites without warning.

    5. MissCoco*

      Based on your reply below – this would be too much for me personally.
      Particularly the extended barking sessions after people are at the door. If they’re not home maybe a kindly worded “heads up” type note *could* help?

      Growling is probably during playtime, so the owners may not be able/want to do anything about it. After all many people have two dogs in part so they can play together. It can sound pretty vicious when you can’t see the playtime signals from the dogs though, I absolutely understand why that’s stressful to you!

      My parents are currently trying to limit the barking from their anxious poodle. They’ve tried 3 trainers, and managed to get one zoom session with a behaviorist, who said to ignore her anxiety-motivated barking . . . Luckily my parents don’t live in an apartment building! (they are looking for another trainer to help deal with her anxiety)

  31. SarahKay*

    Tofu tips and tricks wanted please.
    After being pleasantly surprised last summer with some excellent ‘chicken’ nuggets that turned out to actually be quorn I’m looking at other ways to reduce my meat consumption in the interests of a healthier planet. I’m don’t usually eat huge quantities of meat anyway, but I figure every little change helps, so want to start experimenting with tofu as well.
    Currnently, however, the bit of my brain in charge of my tastebuds is eyeing the box of tofu dubiously and suggesting to the bit of my brain with a social conscience that this is not at all a good idea so I want to make sure I start off with a success. While finding recipes is easy enough, I’d like to know if there what tips or tricks you all have (or favourite recipes too for that matter) to guarantee a good result. Or, alternatively, what should I totally avoid doing?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Pressing your tofu helps it get crispy and absorb flavors. You don’t need a new piece of equipment– wrap your tofu in a paper towel, put it between two plates, weigh it down with a can of beans for 30 minutes. I don’t always do this, but I should.

      I prefer extra firm, though occasion I get silken. Extra firm is best for curries, stir-fry, frying, etc.

      My favorite tofu recipe is David Lebovitz’s crispy baked tofu. I used to make a big batch and throw it on rice or in salads during the week.

      1. another scientist*

        Indeed! Pressing my tofu between two plates makes a difference for me. I then cut it into finger thick strips and marinade in some intense flavors (liquid smoke, lots of salty and acidic ingredients). Marinade at least a day, but if I forget for three days it is fine too. Then fry them in the pan and eat them with dips and a salad on the side.
        I love that tofu stays fresh longer than meat, so it can hang out in the fridge until I am ready to get to it.

    2. Your Local Cdn*

      I really like pressing tofu to give it more of a firmness and bite, especially when using it in dishes that typically call for meat. I will also usually marinate it with spices and a bit of oil to give it more flavour, especially if its a dish where the tofu will be fried as I find that “seals” it if putting it in a sauce.

    3. Princess Deviant*

      If you press the tofu, then freeze it, then defrost and press it again before cooking it has the same texture of chicken. If I have time to do this (it’s not onerous, I just have to start the day before) then I do prefer it this way, but it is perfectly tasty and crispy pressed just once and fried.

    4. Washi*

      This is weird, but if you don’t like the soft crumbly texture of tofu, if you freeze and then unfreeze it, it has a totally different texture. Kind of spongy and harder at the same time. I think it can absorb more flavor that way in a stew/curry, because there are more pockets for sauce to soak into. Ymmv, I’m sure a lot of people would consider this ruining the tofu :)

      My other thing is that tofu is from East/southeast asia and I think those spice-y sauce-y recipes work well for it. I really don’t like “tofu steaks” or recipes where it’s subbing for both the protein and umami characteristics of meat, because I find it’s just not flavorful enough for that personally.

    5. Grace*

      I’m mostly a life-long non-meat-eater (picky/textural reasons rather than plain vegetarian) but have only recently started eating tofu. I’ve mostly had it as part of a stir-fry – press it to get the liquid out (or buy one that doesn’t need pressing, like the brand Tofoo) then slice into pieces about finger-width, dredge in seasoned cornflour, fry in a little oil until golden, then set aside on a paper towel and add back into the stir-fry of your choice at the end to warm back through.

      Super quick and easy, no lengthy marinades, and if you decide you don’t like the tofu texture you can set it to one side and still have a stir-fry to eat.

    6. Fellow Traveller*

      I love tofu! I grew up eating it (parents from Taiwan), so it’s always been a staple for me. I always buy extra firm, or firm.
      Simplest, one of my favorite late night snacks – eat it cold, cut up in cubes drizzled with soy sauce, sesame oil and scallions. Kimchi on top if I have it.
      For cooking, I always press – sandwich between kitchen towels, weighed down with a cast iron skillet. Twenty minutes at least. Some days, I set it up before I go to work so it can press all day.
      I find the key to tofu is to make sure you have lots of flavour- so either marinate it or cook it in a curry or a soup, or slather it with a sauce or spice rub.
      One go to method- press, cube, then toss in a bowl with soy sauce (or fish sauce), let it sit to marinate. Then coat with about a 1/4 c. cornstarch and fry in oil. Drain on paper towels and dust with five spice powder or white pepper (or both).
      I sometimes will fry without cornstarch, particularly if I’m doing a stir fry, but it doesn’t get as crispy. If I do fry it crispy, then I will serve it on the side of my stirfry because I’ve found that when I fold the crispy tofu into the stirfry, it will get soggy.
      One favorite tofu recipe is epicurious’ salt and pepper tofu.
      Another favorite thing (that my husband loves) is to make a tofu crumble that is sort of like ground meat and use that as a ground beef/pork/chicken replacement. This is the recipe I use:

      1. lapgiraffe*

        I will often put cornstarch in my marinade and then bake on parchment, not as crispy as fried but still great texture variation from the cornstarch addition.

    7. pancakes*

      Good tips in the replies. I don’t always freeze it first but I like the texture when I do. Try seitan and tempeh too, if you can get those where you are.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Seconding the pressed/xtra firm tofu.
        And we also are eating TVP– texturized vegetable protein. Everywhere we use ground meat, we add in some of these flakes. Sometimes 50%. We have had great luck using it on pizza : TVP, black olives, artichoke hearts, feta, tomato sauce, and extra garlic. Sort of a vegetarian Athenian Pizza.

        1. pancakes*

          I’m not vegetarian at the moment but I’ve always loved TVP. Something about the texture is just really pleasing to me. There’s a local company that makes a packaged sort of salad with it, like chicken salad without chicken, and I think I have a mental map of every bodega in the city that sells it.

    8. Emma2*

      What texture of tofu did you buy (if you already bought it)? I would probably suggest firm tofu to start with as there are so many easy things you can do with it, but if you have silken tofu there are lost of good things you can do with that too.
      There are some good tofu recipes on Minimalist Baker – she does stir fries where she bakes the tofu first (it really changes the texture in a good way), then puts it in a sauce, or panfries tofu that has been tossed with cornstarch. I do find that her flavour profile runs a bit too sweet for me, so would suggest starting with a bit less than the recommended amount of sweetener in any sauces. I would suggest her Almond Butter Tofu Stir-fry (I often make it with peanut instead of almond butter) or her Baked Crispy Peanut Tofu (the only ingredient she uses a lot that everyone might not have in the kitchen is chili garlic sauce – obviously you can swap it out with sriracha or something similar).
      Indonesian braised tofu is really good – it may sound like a bit of a faff, but actually it is mostly letting the food do its thing in the pan. The recipe I use is in one of my cookbooks, but you will find various recipes for it online.
      Finally, I have not personally made this yet, but have heard great things about Fuchsia Dunlop’s recipe for mapo tofu (which you can find online).

      1. Double A*

        I second both those recipes from Minimalist Baker, including using peanut butter instead of almond butter!

        Also, my favorite brand is Wildwood extra firm or Trader Joe’s extra firm; I find I barely need to press those.

        1. Coenobita*

          I recently discovered SUPER FIRM tofu at a local health food store – even firmer than extra firm! It’s fantastic, though I still press it a bit.

          (The packaging had a little diagram on it showing the firmness level from soft to super firm. It has a bizarre similarity to the standard tampon absorbency levels. Now I am on the lookout for super-plus or ultra firm tofu, LOL.)

    9. LibbyG*

      Like others here, I typically focus on dishes with strongly flavored sauces. Like, Eating Well has a great miso-mirin glaze recipe for scallops, but the glaze is so flavorful that it hardly matters what it goes on, so I make it with tofu. I also really like sweet-and-sour dishes with tofu. The tofu helps make it more filling, but the pineapple and bell pepper and spice bring the punch.

    10. Chilipepper*

      I am in the “must press tofu camp.”
      But I recommend avoiding the paper towels. Just turn over a small plate onto a larger plate, put a small plate on top, and then something heavy on that for 30 minutes.

      I find I have to tip out the water half way through or the tofu is just sitting in it.

      For cooking, I like to bake it just plain, cut into 1 inch cubes, and add to whatever I am cooking.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, this is the best way to press!

        We prefer baking the cut tofu like this, rather than freezing — it gives it a nice crust that is somewhat similar to the crispy fried tofu you get in e.g. Thai takeout.

        My other tips are to experiment with different brands if you have access to them, to use more than one texture type in the same dish, and not to bother cold-marinating ever (you really need heat to get it to take up flavors).

        We make veg mapo tofu with both firm and soft or silken, so the firm stays cubular and soft crumbles up.

      2. chilipepper*

        I re read that, its not clear.
        It goes:
        big plate
        small plate upside down on top of it
        the block of tofu
        small plate right side up
        heavy stuff

    11. HannahS*

      I love tofu; it was one of my first finger foods as a baby. One thing that I notice is that a lot of articles written by Western food bloggers talk about how tasteless tofu is until you do XYZ. But to reframe it, tofu does have a flavour, in the same way that fresh mozzarella cheese has a flavour. Good tofu has a light, fresh flavour that tastes like fresh soy milk (not like Silk, which has additives), in the same way that fresh cheese tastes like fresh milk!
      A very beginner friendly way to eat tofu is to buy firm or extra-firm, cut it into squares, toss with a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil, and bake it. Then you get these toasty little cubes that can be tossed into salads and rice bowls. That, and extra-firm tofu is easier to stir-fry.
      My go-to tofu recipes are tofu and broccoli stir fry, baked tofu with brown rice and greens with a miso-ginger or peanut-chili dressing, and medium-firm tofu in miso soup (incredibly easy) or hot and sour soup (also incredibly easy).

      1. Reba*

        I love tofu, too, I always snack on it cold while I’m cooking. :)

        Any time anybody has the chance to eat real fresh tofu, it’s a must. We used to go to a Japanese izakaya-ish restaurant that had a large tofu section of the menu. The best thing was called, I think “Pure Tofu” and consisted of super soft fresh tofu with ginger, a little ponzu sauce, green onion and salt. A dream!

      2. Coenobita*

        Baked tofu cubes are so good and so easy. I like to put them in a spicy sauce with nuts, kung pao style.

        My spouse likes to make huge batches of vegetarian chili, and grates blocks of tofu into it (with a box grater) like Kenji Lopez-Alt recommends in his cookbook. It sounds weird but does amazing things to the texture of the chili.

    12. Redhairedrunner*

      Tofu scrambles are a great way to start eating tofu, they are flavorful and filling. There are also a million variations based on your flavor preferences.
      Also not all tofu is the same, I find that I can eat some brands fairly plain but others have a stronger flavor and benefit from heavy seasoning.

      1. I take tea*

        I like crumbled tofu as well. I like to add kala namak to give it an eggy taste, but some people can’t stand it, so try to get just a little to try it out.

        Do try several different brands, they are very varied. Then there are flavoured as well. Some ready marinated are quite nice, if you want make it easy I have one sort I like to just fry a little in big chunks or even eat cold. I also know one extra firm smoked version that you can slice thin and use instead of ham. Others just taste weird.

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      I enjoy tofu, and as someone who doesn’t enjoy cooking, I go for quick and easy. I agree with others that the extra firm is best. I like to cut it into cubes, steam it with vegetables, and then pour soy sauce on it. Sometimes I’ll eat just the veggies and tofu, other times I’ll serve it over quinoa.

      I also like to to add it as protein with canned soups and stews. To get the water out of it, I put the cut cubes into a bowl in the microwave for a couple minutes, then drain the water before combining it with the soup or stew.

    14. TechWorker*

      I love tofu when cooked well, unfortunately despite multiple attempts I seem incapable of doing so and so it’s currently off the menu :p

      I’ve been veggie for just over 2 years and there’s plenty of non-tofu protein options out there if you decide you don’t like it!

      Main one is pulses (lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, cannellini beans… the list goes on) and/or cheese. There’s lots of ways to cook pulses but one of my favourites is adding canned chickpeas and cubes of halloumi to a tray of roast veg (~25min in the oven, if you have harder veg they’re best in by themselves for a bit first).

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I love tofu, too, but not everyone is that successful in cooking it. Definitely follow directions the first few times to get the feel for it. Extra firm is often the easiest to handle.

        If you can find seitan or tempeh where you live, those are also good, traditional vegetarian meat replacements.

    15. Scc@rlettNZ*

      I love tofu, but the only time I tried to cook it was also the only time I had such a cooking fail that I had to call out for pizza lol.

    16. c-*

      Do you like Asian cuisine? Something that helps me experiment with a new ingredient is cooking it in its native recipes: the culture where it came from knows best!
      So, for tofu, I’d make miso soup (which I adore and it’s super easy if you get premade miso broth mix) or fried tofu with sauteed veggies.
      You can also scramble soft tofu as you would eggs, I’m told.

      1. Clisby*

        Hot and sour soup with tofu also is good. My recipe includes both pork and tofu, but vegetarians could just leave out the pork.

    17. Doctor is In*

      Long time vegan here. I never did like tofu but love tempeh. It has a nice texture and can be put in the oven, microwave or on the grill and flavored any way you like. No prep needed.

    18. All Monkeys are French*

      We love tofu in this house. My husband is typically the one to cook it. It’s usually extra firm, sliced, wrapped in a clean dish towel and briefly pressed, then cut into whatever size/shape you like (we like triangles). It then goes into the cast iron skillet that has been thoroughly pre-heated to medium-high with some vegetable oil. And then, leave it alone! Don’t try to move it for several minutes because it will stick. When it starts to release, drizzle some soy sauce on top and then flip over, drizzling a little more soy sauce on the other side, and then let it sit for a few more minutes until it’s brown and crispy. We rarely marinate or bother with coatings.
      Sometimes we eat it just like this, with veggie gravy or some other sauce, but often it gets added to stir fries or noodle dishes. If you slice it thin, it makes a great filling in a veggie banh mi. If adding to a stir fry it always gets added back near the end of cooking the other ingredients so it keeps its shape and texture.

  32. Imaginary Number*

    How do you deal with charismatic people in a group who have decided they dislike you in particular?

    My social group is mostly people who play the same sport as me. I have some very close friends among this group, casual friends, and acquaintances. I don’t have any beef with anyone.

    There’s this one person who sometimes plays with us, one of the few men. He is well-liked and has a very exuberant personality. Life of the party type. He rolls in with a huge smile on his face with these big exuberant greetings to everyone but me (and one or two other people.) When he shows up to a social event everything ends up centering on him. He’s especially friendly with new people who seem immediately drawn to him.

    For whatever reason, he doesn’t like me. Won’t so much as say hi back if I greet him. If I ask him a question casually he usually gives a one word answer or walks away, pretending he didn’t hear me. Which makes any event he’s at very uncomfortable for me.

    I’ve brought this up to my closest friends in the group because he’s friendly with them and they’ve never heard him say anything bad about me, although they’ve noticed his behavior toward me once I brought it up.

    I’ve asked to talk to him and he’s just kind of laughed and walked away.

    This shouldn’t bother me but it does. I don’t need everyone to like me. But it makes social gatherings where he shows up absolutely miserable.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Asenath*

      I’d just ignore him. At social gatherings, greet him politely, like you would anyone else, and then socialize with your friends and acquaintances. I know you said it bothered you, and I don’t want to minimize that. It does hurt when you’re treated like a pariah, and that’s happened to lots of us. But you’ve done what you could to solve the problem, and that’s all you can do. For some reason, which you may never know, he’s decided he doesn’t want to treat you the way he treats everyone else, and that’s his issue to fix, if he sees it as an issue. What is it people say? Something like, if you’ve cleared your half of the sidewalk of snow, and the other person doesn’t do their half, just move on. There’s nothing more to be done. Quit giving the person and their actions room in your head.

    2. Generic Name*

      Wow, what a dick. I would be cooly polite to him, but I wouldn’t bother trying to talk to him or engage him in any way beyond the absolute bare minimum of socially acceptable politeness. Honestly, my first thought is he’s crushing on you, but his behavior sounds juvenile at best and toxic at worst, so try not to let him being an asshole to you get to you. It’s a reflection on him, not you. Put your focus on people who deserve it.

      1. Batgirl*

        Yes on the crushing; he could easily be negging her. I’ve also seen men behave like this who are the other type of rank mysoginists who think women just aren’t worth talking to (the walking away and ignoring guy, is the same guy who talks over women in meetings) unless available for sex. That might not track with a mostly-female crowd but I thought it worth mentioning.

    3. Should I apply*

      That does suck, and is shitty behavior on his side, but as the others mentioned you can’t change him, you can only change how you respond. You mentioned that he does it to other people also, if they are at the same event can you seek them out? Or just focus on interacting with your closer friends Have your own discussion & activities that don’t revolve around him. You could also try’s Alison’s method of detaching and viewing his behavior like an anthropologist so it doesn’t seem so personal. “Male A enters the room and everyone flocks to him.. yet he deliberately slights a few individuals… is he doing it to show-off his status and control over the group?”

      1. Not a cat*

        I don’t understand all the bashing of this guy. Lots of projecting on this guy. Everybody doesn’t have to like you and vice-versa. Just ignore him, or don’t go to the group events he attends.

    4. Chilipepper*

      I love the way Should I Apply used Alison’s advice!
      And I love her advice to remember that you did not create the awkwardness, he did, so pass it back to him or ignore it. It is his issue.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Remind yourself that this is not a person you actually want as a friend. Someone who thinks human decency is a water faucet that can be turned on and off is not really a quality person.

      So far, his lack of decency has not effected you, right? I mean your friends remain your friends, they aren’t taking sides? As long as you have friends there, keep going. Just ignore the guy.

      There’s a reason why he targets new people. The people who already know him know what he is about. He constantly has to pull in new people to get the attention/high/kick that he seems to need. Yes, of course the conversation is centered on Everything Him.

      At some point, it might take a while though, he will tire of this group and move on to another group. I have watched people like this before…

      I think the 2-3 of you who have been ostracized by him ought to set up a betting pool. You each can bet how many words he will say to each of you for the time you are together. So maybe you wager he will say 3 words to you. Mary is feeling spunky so she bets he will say 5 words to her. And Bob is willing to boldly bet that Mr. Social Butterfly will say ZERO words to Bob. Who ever is closest wins. You can announce the winner after Social Butterfly leaves.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I love the idea of playing Dick Bingo when he is around – it will keep you amused and he will never know why. If it proves really entertaining you will be able to say “Its great to see you Dick” straightfaced whenever he appears and the games can begin.

    6. Batgirl*

      I wouldn’t greet him, or ask him questions. He’s made the rules of engagement quite clear, so there’s no point spending excess social energy on him. I’d do a ‘wassup’ style nod in his direction, and walk off to find someone more fun in the other direction without waiting for his response. I would respond to him if he speaks to you, but minimally and just to be polite to onlookers. To gain access to more of you, he’d have to pay off his previous behaviour by being much nicer, over time.
      I know what you’re thinking; “walk off where?! He hogs everything and everyone!”
      Yes, but try to get a secondary group going; away from him if at all possible. Be with the kitchen gang if he’s in the living room. Hang out by the pizza if he is with the drinks. Maybe wander over once in a while to watch him work his fans for future anecdotal material. Enlist the support of some friends as a buffer, hang out with an outlier at the party’s edges (always the most interesting people), do your party trick in the corner until people come to you (mine’s reading palms). If that doesn’t work and the entire point of these gatherings is everyone-must-revolve-around-the-jerk then that’s a party I’d probably pass on in future. Become the organiser more often and leave him off the invitation list.

    7. matcha123*

      I don’t have any suggestions, but I have been in your position.
      I have also greeted the person or tried to make small talk. I remember one guy who came up to me, but then spent the time during our brief conversation looking around the room at other people and looking at me like *I* was the problem.

      What I think the problem is is that you (and me) don’t give them the same energy they are getting from others. Maybe your eyes don’t shine when they walk in the room. They don’t feel like you are all-in on their brilliance. And that makes them want to push away from you.

      What I have done is make a mental note and occupy myself with other things when they are around. I don’t leave groups or events if those types show up. They can do their thing and I will do mine.

    8. zaracat*

      I’ve come across people like this, and they feed on other people’s attention. If they sense that you aren’t willing to play their game and give them the ego strokes they believe they deserve, they’ll punish you by ignoring, turning away, eye rolling and laughing when you talk etc. Or they’ll just pick on one or two who are perceived as the weakest socially. It’s a dominance move and is designed to show others in the group what will happen to to them if they don’t play the game, which is why it’s quite difficult to get overt support from other people. The only way to win is not to engage at all.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I have some neighbors who pointedly shun me. I just give them the same nod-in-passing or half-wave that I give any neighbors I recognize out and about. If they want to be wierd, that’s their business. I don’t have to be wierd just because they are.

      I will confess, I do get a lot of satisfaction from their obvious frustration at my apparent inability to realize that I am being shunned.

      It’s just a matter of practice. Don’t force conversation on him, but just exist in the space on your own terms and briefly acknowledge him as another human in the space. It feels awkward at first, but the more you practice being chill and ignoring the shun, the easier it gets.

      You don’t have to let a jerk set the tone. You can make your own tone. If he wants to make it awkward, why help him do it? Let him work for it.

  33. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread.

    What brought you joy this week?

    I was able to attend my church’s most solemn of celebrations in person on Thursday, and yesterday (alone- which was strange for reasons), and hopefully will attend the Easter Vigil as a family this evening.

    Please share your joys. And I hope y’all have wonderful holidays if you celebrate them and a great weekend regardless.

    1. GoryDetails*

      An unusual one: I’d bought a used ex-library copy of The Silent Traveller in Paris, and discovered too late that someone (I’m guessing a library patron’s child?) had snipped out the middle section of a couple of pages. It wasn’t enough to render the book unreadable, but I hoped to be able to find the missing bits and insert a replacement – but while several regional libraries did have copies on hand, the nearest one was closed for a couple of weeks and the others were considerably farther away. I posted about my problem on a bookish forum, just venting, and lo! one of my online friends piped up; she had a copy of the book in hand and could send me a screen-grab of the missing paragraphs! A little printing, scissoring, and archival-tape later, and the gap is filled!

    2. OtterB*

      Tech success! My daughter had a problem with an app on her iPad. When she clicked on the icon for it, she got the startup page and then it closed. She is nonverbal and uses this app for communication, so it’s particularly important to her. I was wondering how long it would take to get an appointment at the Apple store, if they could even help if it was an app problem instead of an iPad problem (because other stuff still worked), etc. But I managed to back up the content of the app to iCloud, then update the ios on her ipad, and that fixed the problem.

    3. Elle Woods*

      A 90-minute phone conversation with a dear friend. We hadn’t talked to one another in over a year but we picked right up where we left off. It was so good to reconnect with her and get caught up on one another’s lives.

      Hope everyone has a great weekend!

    4. Not A Manager*

      I bought some yarn for a planned project, looked at the yarn and realized that it did not want to be made into that project, and sat on it for a while trying to figure out what the yarn did want to be made into. It took several false starts, but I found the right project and now the yarn is happy.

    5. Voluptuousfire*

      I bought daffodils and bought a little blue vase for them. My cat hasn’t even looked at them, which is great. She’s strictly a floor cat, so that works to my advantage.

    6. CTT*

      Closer to a big joy: my local soccer team was able to play a pre-season friendly with fans today and I went! We play in a city-owned stadium that has a huge capacity and as devoted as our fanbase is, we do not come close to hitting 50% even in the Before Times, so that made it perfect for really distancing people. We didn’t win, but it was so fun to get out and see them play. (Although, oof, I need to work back up to a midday beer, I felt so sleepy afterwards)

    7. Girasol*

      There were daffodils and phlox and tulips and grape hyacinth out this week. The nectarine tree bloomed and the peas came up. But the best thing was that out of the blue Audible offered my favorite sci fi book from when I was in high school for pre-purchase, and it came in just days later. I used to read it in geography class hidden behind my geography textbook. It’s old – from the 1950s – and not very famous so I figured they’d never record it.
      It’s a wonderful surprise. I’m enjoying it in small bites in bed every night.

        1. Girasol*

          Star Rangers by Andre Norton. Audible sells it in the omnibus edition Star Soldiers. Good old fashioned space opera but with interesting themes of diversity.

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      I took my terminally ill dog on a pack walk with friends (we were outdoors, distanced, and masked) and he had a wonderful time! He loved “leading the pack” and the dogs enjoyed some frozen yogurt together at the end. When we got home we had a nice nap in the people bed that he’s usually not supposed to be in. I couldn’t even guess the last time I napped, but it felt great!

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’ve been joining guided hikes in the next county over from mine. It’s amazing to me how just an hour away with it being warmer and drier than where I am, there are different plants and wildflowers to enjoy and learn about.

    10. allathian*

      We aren’t religious, but most non-essential businesses and certainly government agencies and schools close for Christian holidays. So I’m really enjoying my long Easter weekend.

      I’m also enjoying the fact that it’s getting warmer outdoors and spring is finally here. Southern slopes are full of coltsfoot, and their little yellow faces just bring me joy.

    11. Mari*

      It was cherry blossom season in Tokyo, so cherry blossoms everywhere. The weather was good and there are no foreign tourists, so the parks aren’t really crowded.

    12. Chaordic One*

      On Saturday the sun came out and the temperature rose to the low 70s for the first time in I don’t know how long. It was a fine day for doing chores and the usual shopping, as well as taking a walk. When I was shopping my grocery store bakery actually had chocolate danish in stock, which is something they don’t regularly carry, so I bought 4. I plan on taking another walk for an hour or so on Sunday. According to the weather report the temperatures are supposed to go back down to their more normal high temps in the 50s and 60s next week.

    13. Bibliovore*

      I cleaned out almost 200 review copies from the the stacks around the living room. Set out blankets on the front lawn. Sorted by type face up. Picture books, YA etc.
      Invited the neighbors and co-workers to come and take.
      Spent the afternoon in the sunshine social distanced and masked meeting my neighbors and matching them with books.
      Exhausted and content.
      Spring cleaning today.

  34. OyHiOh*

    Feathers and wings! What are you seeing?

    A pair of Northern Shovelers at a local lake, and last night, two great barred owls, one in flight.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Red tail hawk and heard some Great Horned Owls the other night! Still waiting on the first wood ducks of the season though. Two swans at a local pond

    1. Wishing You Well*

      We have a very persistent Northern Flicker woodpecker that hammers on our house. We put up a Flicker-specific birdhouse 2 days ago. Now it hammers on that!

    2. GoryDetails*

      Woodpeckers, from downies to red-bellies. Carolina wrens, always fun to see. And I’ve encountered flocks of wild turkeys in more than one suburban neighborhood lately – quite the shock to see a huge shadow stroll out into the light and reveal a full-grown turkey!

    3. Buni*

      I have a pair of magpies and their teenage kid, who (exactly like a teenager) spent the whole of Thursday shouting at everyone – at his parents, at the gulls, at any passing dog. Eventually the kid settled on the windowsill where I feed them and shouted at me, so I shouted back “JUST SHUT UP AND EAT YOUR LUNCH!“.

      There was a pause and then it poked its head ’round the open window and went “…meh”.

      1. OyHiOh*

        This is the best bird story told in weeks! Thanks for sharing.

        Last summer, I witnessed a pair of blue jays trying to convince their teenager to go out and get its own d*mn food. the teen wasn’t having any of it, cue parents shoving it out of the home tree, teenager trying to get back to its favorite branch, getting shoved out again, etc, with much flapping and shouting. I think dad was finally tired of ferrying corn kernals back from the feeder and broke.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      We have a Coopers hawk that’s been hanging around. Today we saw two of them, so maybe we’ll get a family this summer!

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      Visiting the water treatment ponds recently, the white pelicans are growing the knob on their beaks they get in the breeding season and I always love watching their synchronized swimming ballet when they feed. On a walk today, most of the bird activity was heard and not seen–pileated and acorn woodpeckers, and a Steller’s jay imitating a red-tailed hawk which cracks me up. I did get to see a spotted towhee singing his heart out atop a bush, such a beautiful bird.

    6. Clisby*

      The cardinals are out in force – we always get pairs in our back yard this time of year. Usually we have mockingbirds, too, but they haven’t shown yet this year.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ve missed the mockingbirds that used to nest at our old house… and this week we had a male “arguing” with his reflection in the sunny windows. I have high hopes that they’ll be joining us. Although that makes our red-tail hawk neighbors a bit worrisome.

    7. NRG*

      A pair of golden eagles flew/glided, (minimal wing motion) overhead in the park. Holy crap they’re big. I actually felt threatened.

    8. All Monkeys are French*

      The ravens run my neighborhood. I live at the edge of a redwood grove and they spend all day swooping between the trees and over the houses with their squawking and gutteral rumblings. I love them, but they do get noisy. I sort of want to feed them and make them my friends, but they’re doing just fine without my interference. The Anna’s hummingbirds are also around a lot since the red flowering currant is in bloom.

    9. MissCoco*

      Just a little one, but I got an American tree sparrow at my feeder today!
      I mostly get the same crew, so I”m always excited to see a new face.

    10. willow for now*

      The mallards are back at my apartment complex. The Canada geese stay all year but the mallards go elsewhere.

  35. lemon meringue*

    I think there are a few writers in the commentariat, so here is a piece of idle speculation. Which skill do you think takes longer to develop as a writer: structure or prose? Which of these takes up a larger share of the ten thousand hours or million bad words or whatever it is we need to get through before we’re acceptable to readers?

    1. fposte*

      I don’t know that I’d separate them; I think by prose you mean what I’d call style, which is structure writ small. Some people are always better at bigger-scope structure than at style, and vice versa.

      1. lemon meringue*

        Hmm, to me there is definitely a distinction, but maybe it’s a subjective one! The reason this comes up is because I am a decent prose writer with years of experience writing professionally and academically, but I’m completely new to fiction writing and have to learn about plotting, character and setting from the ground up.

        1. fposte*

          And to me character and setting wouldn’t be structural, so I think a lot of this is our own personal lens. There’s also the gap between receptive expertise—the ability to say that a sentence is clunky or a character is flat—and expressive expertise, where you can avoid or fix the problem.

          I will say that in already competent writers it’s easier for me to teach the stylish ones structure than the structure-skilled ones style. IMHO, it’s easier to quantify Big Structure than smaller stuff that’s more dependent on language and culture.

          1. lemon meringue*

            The terms I chose were probably unhelpfully nebulous. I think I was trying to get at what you’ve expressed more eloquently–that style feels more intuitive and more difficult to teach. It’s kind of like rhythm in music, which is very hard to try to explain, at least for me.

    2. Undine*

      I think different writers have different talents, so I don’t think it’s a one is easier than the other thing. There are writers (especially in the 19th century) that have no skill in prose but somehow carry the book on through their enthusiasm and intensity along with characters and plot. And there are many modern literary novels where the prose is to die for, but when you step back everyone sounds the same and nothing happens.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Bad writing always comes back to fuzzy or lazy thinking.

      It may manifest as sloppy structure, weak/shallow characterization, or sloppy style. Usually all of them to some degree.

      The hardest thing in the world is to think deeply, clearly, and precisely about what you really mean, why it matters, and how one idea relates to another.

      Get the thinking right, and the structure and style will take care of themselves.

      As someone on Tumbler delightfully said, “Do you know how much braining it takes to make the words go? It is a lot.”

  36. It's Quarantime!*

    My heart is broken.
    Everyone who loves me says it was the right thing.
    I helped my beloved kitty leave me yesterday.
    I am broken.
    How do I breathe?

    1. nep*

      Lifting you up. Holding you in my heart. Kitty will help you breathe.
      I hope you’ll be kind to yourself and take all the time you need.
      Sending you love, wishing you peace.

    2. nep*

      (One line that helped me when we had to do it–For kitty’s sake, better one day or week “too early” than one minute too late.)

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        I am so so sorry for your loss. Totally agree with nep above. It’s part of “the deal” we have with our beloved pets that we will never let them suffer. You were simply upholding your part of the deal and I’m very proud of you for loving your kitty enough to do the right thing. Tons of internet hugs and kindness to you. Please be gentle with yourself. You have my empathies.

        1. violet04*

          I’m so sorry for your loss. For me, I had to take it one day at a time. I let myself be sad and grieve without any timelines for when I should be back to normal.

          If you’re interested in any online resources, rainbowsbridge dot com has a grief support section. Sending lots of love and support.

      2. Lady Lynn Waterton of Bellashire*

        (Possibly CW if you don’t want to read of someone else’s experiences.)

        That’s a helpful line. I lost a hedgehog more than a year ago, but she was my support during a mental health crisis and meant the world to me. We had to send her to the rainbow bridge maybe slightly prematurely since we had to travel for a significant event. I would have died if she had passed while we were gone so we chose to have her appointment before we left. I’ve always felt like I killed her since she could have had a few more days or weeks.

    3. mreasy*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Your babe is so well-loved and you gave them a wonderful life. Time will heal but the sorrow is a testament to the joy you gave each other.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m so very sorry. Remember you provided a safe home for kitty’s time on earth, and kept pain at bay when the end came.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      I am very sorry.
      We’ve lost beloved cats. Time helps.
      Sending healing thoughts your way

    6. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      So so sorry. It feels as if your heart has been crushed, and a part of your soul is missing. You go hour to hour, day to day. The wound will heal with time, but the scar will be there, always, as proof that your kitty was well loved and is sorely missed. But the hurt will fade with time, but within the scar are the memories of the joy and happiness that you shared.