weekend open thread – May 22-23, 2021

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. A writer whose career is in decline steals an irresistible plot from a student who died shortly after taking his writing class and finds great success with it … but then begins receiving anonymous messages from someone threatening to reveal the theft.

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

{ 1,015 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Hello! A reminder that the weekend posts are for relatively light discussion and are not well suited for medical advice. Please don’t post questions here that would be better posed to a doctor or pharmacist. In particular, if you have questions about the Covid vaccine, please check the guidance from the CDC or talk to your health care provider.

    The full weekend rules are here.

    Thank you!

  2. All Hail Queen Sally*

    Does anyone have a good recipe for an artisan-style thin and crispy pizza crust? I have been looking for just the right one, but can’t find one that is just right.

    1. Mango Tango*

      What would be perfect to you? And what wasn’t on-target with the ones you’ve tried so far?

    2. RagingADHD*

      IME, the technique is most important for a good thin crust: using parchment on a stone for half the cook time, then slide the parchment out for the second half so it crisps up directly on the stone.

      I just use a really basic fast dough (flour, yeast, water, salt) and a good knead in the stand mixer, no rise after kneading.

    3. D'Euly*

      I use the King Arthur Flour Neapolitan recipe currently, but nothing made as big a difference as switching to pizza flour (00).

      1. Ali G*

        I second this. Plus use less dough. I use the NYT pizza dough recipe and it says it makes 2 ~10 in pizza doughs, but I still think it’s too thick so I make 3.
        I also agree it’s the cooking technique. I put my stone on the grill, crank it up as high as it will go and pre-heat it for 15 min or so. Then the pizza goes on, lid closed for like 2 minutes. It’s the best I’ve done!

    4. Lilo*

      I am a big fan of Jim Lahey’s no knead pizza dough. You actually make it the night before and let it sit out all day. Seconding that you need a pizza stone, it really makes all the difference.

    5. newbie*

      How hot does your oven go? To get the texture you’re looking for, it really needs to be >500F.
      I like Kenji/Serious Eats’ pizza dough recipe best.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Often it’s not so much the exact recipe, but some important factors in the making:

      – Do not use a rolling pin
      – Coal-fired oven (or failing that, the absolute hottest temperature you can get your own oven)
      – Try cake/pastry flour or “00” (“zero-zero”) flour rather than all-purpose flour
      – Pizza crust dough likes to be wetter and stickier than bread dough, irritating to handle but the more you have left on your fingers after you knead it, the better your results in the end

    7. Lives in a Shoe*

      Smitten Kitchen’s Lazy Pizza Dough is another no-knead version. High heat also.

    8. bunniferous*

      In general I heat up my cast iron skillet in the oven at 500 degrees for about 20 minutes or so and then CAREFULLY put my dough on it with the toppings. Then bake at same temp till done.

      It rocks.

    9. Skeeder Jones*

      Not a recipe but I buy pizza dough from Trader Joes. It’s $1.20 and since I live alone, I usually rip off a small portion and get 3 individual pizzas out of it. The more you stretch it while preparing it, the thinner it will get and it’s super delicious. Much easier than making pizza dough. I usually take it out of the fridge and let it rise a little and get all soft and easy to manipulate while the oven heats. Then it’s 11 minutes in the oven and I have delicious, artisan pizza.

    10. LNLN*

      We make pizza every Friday night. Here is my favorite recipe: The Best Pizza Dough Recipe on the blog Sugar Spun Run. My tips: mix the warm water, sugar and yeast first and allow a few minutes for the yeast to start bubbling. Use bread flour, not regular baking flour. Bake on an aluminum baking sheet (mine is decades old and burns cookies). Generously sprinkle cornmeal on the baking sheet and grind pepper on the cornmeal before spreading out the pizza dough. Top as you like. Sugar Spun Run has a delicious easy pizza sauce recipe that we use. Bake at 500 degrees Fahrenheit with the fan on for 10 to 12 minutes. Good luck!!!

    11. tamarack and fireweed*

      I get a pretty nice pizza dough (thin and crisp) the simplest way in the bread machine. The quantities I use are 300g flour (~2 cups, King Arthur … I think bread flour ideally but I also use All Purpose) to ~200g water (~ 7/8 cup; adjust as needed after the first round of kneading), one glug (~2 tbsp) of olive oil, 1 tsp of salt, 2 tsp or thereabouts of dry yeast, a little bit of sugar on top of the yeast, and a little bit of water to wet it. Layer in bread machine (water in bottom, salt & oil in water, then flour, then yeast/sugar).

      This quantity is enough for one large pizza with leftovers, or two dinners for my partner & me. Usually I halve the complete dough, bake half for dinner for the two of us, put half in the fridge or freezer & use within a few days.

  3. Mango Tango*

    Can anyone recommend a good source for scented soaps where the soap scent lingers on your skin? I love soaps that smell like (for example) apple pie or gingerbread but can’t find any where the scent is more than fleeting. Or is that just not something you can get with soaps usually?

    1. cold_call_catastrophe*

      Lush has bath products where the scent will linger on you, I’ve found. I’m not sure about their soaps, but their bath bombs had a really pleasant scent that stayed.

    2. Princess*

      Friendly Soap Ltd. are amazing, vegan and cruelty-free. All of their products are lovely, foam up great, smell wonderful, and last. I particularly like their shampoo bars – I would never go back to shampoo from a bottle ever again. I had such greasy hair, but now I use their shampoo bars I can get away with washing my hair every other day or sometimes even more! I promise I don’t work for Friendly Soap by the way XD

      1. Lily*

        How does shampoo bars work? I have long hair so it seems troublesome with a bar instead of a bottle.

        1. SoloKid*

          I can’t answer directly (as I’ve never used them), but as someone else with long hair, I tend to just really work on my scalp even with liquid shampoo. The ends of my hair don’t feel like they need as much washing.

          I do want to try a bar someday and I imagine I’d use it much like a bar of soap – lathering a lot into my hands.

          1. Clisby*

            Agreed – I wouldn’t think it would be different from washing your hair with soap. I used to wash my hair wit Kirk’s Castile soap, and that’s how I used it.

        2. Princess Deviant*

          My lockdown hair has grown quite long! You just rub it over the wet hair and lather it up. It’s surprisingly effective. I was very dubious at first too but it lathers up much better than my shampoo does.

        3. DistantAudacity*

          Yeah – as said, you just rub it in.

          I don’t use shampoo/conditioner bars on daily basis, but have some for travel. Very useful to not have it as a liquid for airport security.

          I’ve used Lush bars, and they’ve worked just fine.

        4. I take tea*

          A bar is so much more practical, i find, because you just rub it all over the scalp. With liquid you need two hands. I have quite long hair, and it’s no problem. I have also found that I need to wash less and my scalp doesn’t itch. But you have to find one that suits you, can take a couple of tries.

          Plus, no more plastic bottles, I love it!

          1. Wordnerd*

            I was thinking about soap bars but I’m wondering how fast they get used up? For the price, I’m afraid of using them up so fast (also with long/thick hair). How many washes would you estimate a bar lasts? Thanks!

            1. Zooey*

              I find they last for ages as long as you let them dry out between uses (i.e. don’t leave them sitting in a pool of water). You really only need a bit – I just stroke it over my hair a few times. I think it’s easier to control the amount than with liquid shampoo where I often get a big splodge on one spot and then can’t work it through.

            2. I take tea*

              Like Zooey said, just keep them dry and they last much longer than liquid. I have long hair, just bought a new one and last time was sometime in the autumn, so about half a year ago.

              I find the same goes for bars of soap for your hands, they last longer than liquid and you get just the amount you want.

      2. Pharmgirl*

        I was going to ask if anyone had recs for shampoo bars, I will definitely check this out!

    3. Pharmgirl*

      Lush lingers. I recently have been buying Pre de Provence, not as long as lush but the Santa are more natural.

    4. Reba*

      Are you talking about hand soap or body/bath soap? For hand soaps, Mrs. Meyer’s or Caldrea (they are sibling companies) have strong and in the case of Caldrea, somewhat sophisticated scents!

      For body products, the thing to do is to get soap and lotion in the same scent and use both. To some extent, the recipe of the soaps and the particular fragrances can make a scent a little more lasting…but soap is a rinse-off product!

    5. ten four*

      Trader Joe’s liquid soaps do this! I am in love with the pomelo grapefruit, and French linen is nice too. I actually had to stop buying the French linen because it lingered a little TOO strongly! The pomelo grapefruit is sort of sweet/tart and I like how fresh it smells.

    6. the cat's ass*

      Roger & Gallet have some great soaps with a long lasting scent, tho they’re a bit$. LOVE the carnation, their sandalwood is my fave of all time.

      I’ve also always loved the Crabtree & Evelyn Jojoba Oil Soap, which has a luscious lingering scent, i double up with the lotion, too

      Another vote for pre’ de Provence, too, especially the sage or the coconut, but the scent is a lot lighter.

      1. emeldee*

        Where do you find the carnation? It’s been a few years since I looked for it, but it seemed like it had been discontinued. My father always made sure to bring some bars back for my mom whenever he travelled to France. She used the bars like sachets and kept them in her chest of drawers.

    7. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I think a lot of it will depend on your own body chemistry, and whether the scent absorbs into your skin or just sits on top. I’ve not had much success with preservative-free products…they’re better for skin and better for the environment, but not as good at lasting. Oily products last longer for me so i look for soaps/products with olive oil, shea butter, coconut oil…

    8. Cabin Fever*

      Seconding (thirdly?) Mrs Meyers. I think they have an apple cider scent too (might be just seasonal though).

    9. Joanne’s Daughter*

      ZUM goats milk soaps or their liquid soaps from Indigo Wild. The Frankincense and Myrrh scent is awesome and lasting.

  4. Pepper Potts*

    Ok I have to know – what kind of cat bed is that? It looks so cozy and your cats are so cute all cuddled up in it!

    1. RussianInTexas*

      I gave up on any cat beds because all three of my cats refuse to use them. They will sleep NEXT to them. I even got an “igloo” one, and still no. They squish it and sit on top.
      So a comfy bed is no, but the tile floor in the middle of the kitchen is the best.

      1. Mourning Reader*

        This may be because… Texas? In the hot summers, my cats like to lay stretched out on the cool tile. In cold winters up north here, they like the cozy cat beds. We got ours from Chewy.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          They don’t use them during withers either! A nest of towels or my hoodie? That they will use.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          Mine won’t touch the soft bed I got her — but loves her old hard basket w/a towel in it. If I removed the towel she’d still lay in it. Don’t get it.

          1. Rara Avis*

            Places my cat sleeps instead of his comfy cat bed: a box. A bag. My daughter’s hamper. The pile of mess (books, papers, pencils, etc,) under my daughter’s desk. The basket of clean laundry. An open drawer.

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        Mine were the same. Bought them fancy cat beds when they were adopted (the igloo style ones with a fleece lining). They slept in them for about a week one winter when it was really bitterly cold. Otherwise it was the sofa, the windowsill, the kitchen table, the sofa bed in the spare room – basically anywhere except their beds!

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        My cat loved sleeping in a wooden salad bowl on top of the fridge, until he somehow broke it. We bought a comfy bed to put up there and he barely ever uses it! He has a second comfy bed that he does use pretty frequently but sometimes he will purposely shove the bed onto the floor so he can sleep in that same spot without it? (I know it’s on purpose because if I try to put it back he either dumps it again or leaves)

      4. I take tea*

        I think the igloo in bowl version is comfortable, because one of our cats do the sqishing as well.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hmmm, I don’t know where we got it and it has no tag! But I see similar ones at pet supply stores, and sometimes the dog section has good beds for cats (the cat ones tend to be really small).

  5. Something Blue*

    Hello, everyone!
    I’m trying to get rid of stuff and I’m currently wondering what to do with old photo albums. They take up a lot of space but I don’t have the heart to get rid of the photos. (I’m going to make digital copies of them, but I still need to do something with the physical photos.)

    I thought, what if I took all the photos out and stored them in boxes, on the same principle of recipe boxes, but using better quality supplies? And then donating or throwing out the empty albums? The photo boxes would take up less space, plus be regular shapes and easier to stack somewhere out of the way.

    Has anyone ever done this and have any tips? Or have a better suggestion of how to keep old photos if you don’t want the albums?

    (And by old, I mean pre-digital camera, printed within my own lifetime, not family heirlooms from over 100 years ago.)

    1. Lionheart26*

      My mum did this a few years ago. She just bought plastic “briefcase style” plastic boxes that fit perfectly inside her guestroom closet. She made one box for everyone in the family. My box has not only photos of me but also an equal share of family holidays etc. The cases stack easily but its also easy to grab the one you need. It’s given her photos a new lease on life! I love looking through my box at all my adventures whenever I visit.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I’ve stored photos this way, and later decided that I didn’t need them and got rid of them.

      Photos in stacks can sometimes stick together if left for a long time. You could put archival grade paper or tissue (acid free) between photos as you stack them, to prevent this if you want to make sure they are in good quality when you retrieve them. I’d recommend storing them in sealed, airtight containers, and putting a dessicant pack in with each one, to keep them dry.

      What I would do is sort them as I scan them, mostly by date, separating out particularly important photos, and keeping notes of special events (weddings, grads, etc). Layer with tissue, load into the boxes, put in the dessicant, and then glue sticky labels to the boxes with what’s in them. Have a separate box with the extra-special stuff, and maybe stuff you might want to shred before throwing out. That way, if you decide to ditch the physical copies later, or want to find something to rescan, it’s fairly easy.

      Another hint – when you’re scanning the photos, use descriptive file names, and embed metadata in the digital file itself. That way if you end up with the files outside of your photo software, you can still figure out what’s what. Save a backup of the scanned photos before you start editing them, ideally in the cloud, and on a durable physical medium. You don’t want one crashed computer to destroy your collection!

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yes to all of this. It’s what I did. There are photo boxes made just for this purpose. I also wrote as much as I could about each photo on the back and in the metadata. If I didn’t know enough about the photo to do that, I tossed it after scanning.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Get actual photo boxes. They’re made of archival-quality material, & that will keep the photos in better condition.

      2. Something Blue*

        Re: separate box for extra special: good tip!
        I have a tendency to group everything by some kind of type but there are still special photos in any category that will never be thrown out.

        I won’t want to search everywhere for them!

        When my aunt moved into assisted living, we found her absolute favorite picture of the kids (when they were kids) to take with her.

      3. Flovarian*

        My pop sent me a box of his old photos and junk that I sorted out, cleaned up, and shipped back to him (long story that I’ll skip here!). When I was going through the photos, they were just heaped in the box, so I arranged them in chronological order and put them in a new box for which I created a pretty and fun label. My mom and I also went through a lot of photos she had pulled out of albums for the same reason you shared. We did the same thing with those: put them in a waterproof box, and put them in chronological order to the best of our ability. Now it’s fun to flip through those photos!

    3. WS*

      I think a lot of people must do this, because I work with someone who loves to make up photo albums for older people in her family, and she frequently gets second-hand but good condition empty photo albums from the charity shop.

      1. Something Blue*

        I actually wondered about this! With so many people downsizing and decluttering, would thrift stores even want the second-hand albums? But creating them for the older, non-digital relatives is a great idea! My gtandparents would have loved to receive this.

    4. Opinions, I've Had a Few*

      My husband did that last summer. You can buy boxes like this one on Amazon: novelinks Photo Case 4″ x 6″ Photo Box Storage – 16 Inner Photo Keeper Photo Organizer Cases

      They come larger, too, but he managed to wrangle 25+ years of photos in an afternoon. And you can label the individual holders so you know what’s inside.

      1. Something Blue*

        Thnak you! I was just about to ask for suggestions of what kind of box! But I’d still need to put something between each photo so they don’t stick, correct?

    5. Wishing You Well*

      I’m glad you’re keeping the physical photos. Relying on electronic devices can be risky.
      A side note: be sure to use a photo-safe pen on the backside of the photos. The most important information to write down is WHO is in the photo. The date and place, if known, are also very important.
      It’s very sad for me to see wonderful family photos sold at junk shops for pennies. The photos end up there because there’s no information on them and the younger generations throw them out. In time, your photos will become family heirlooms, if you label them.
      Good for you for tackling this project!

      1. Joan Rivers*

        If you have a remote blank wall, or even a closet, you could hang a bunch of them, just for you to look at. I find great deals on frames at the $ store and garage sales.

        Also, I’ve xeroxed some tiny old photos, blown up, and they turned out better than I expected — some are worth framing and displaying more publicly, because they’re a good photograph. E.g., my grandfather standing between two big mules on his farm.
        You can look at some as art and not just mementos.

    6. Skeeder Jones*

      Most old photo albums are really bad for photos. They contain acid which will destroy photos over time. About a year ago, I went through all my photo albums and removed the photos and threw them away afterwards. I then gathered all my printed photos and sorted them, as best as possible, by year. I found that there were a lot of old photos that were horrible quality, people’s heads cut off, weird angles, out of focus. Pre-digital, it seems like people just kept every photo they took regardless of quality. So I threw out any photos that was poor quality UNLESS it was the only picture I had of a person or event. After sorting, I was able to see where I had duplicates and could give some away. Then I scanned them and put them in photo boxes. Now they easily fit in a storage chest and one great end result is I pulled out some that reminded me of certain great times and people and put them in frames around my home. I now get to enjoy those photos everyday instead of having them stashed in photo albums I never opened.

  6. Undine*

    There are boxes specifically made for this (cardboard or plastic), also divider cards, etc. High quality is “archival” or “acid free”. One thing to be aware of is that if you store the photos vertically in the boxes (instead of laying them flat), you need to pack the boxes full. Otherwise, the photos will become curved over time.

    Most boxes I have seen are for 5×7 or 4×6 photos. If you have smaller photos, you might not find dedicated boxes.

    Also be aware that photos are more fragile than plain paper. They can last a long time, but they are susceptible to damp and to heat. So sticking them in an attic is not ideal.

      1. The teapots are on fire*

        Gaylord and Highsmith were vendors that libraries used for these boxes back in my day.

  7. StellaBella*

    I have a question about mildew. I think. I have a neoprene wetsuit and dive storage bag that smell musty. I am not sure how to get the smell out. The storage bag is a giant suitcase about 3 feet tall so cannot throw into laundry. Wetsuit I may try to wash. How can I get this smell out? I cannot leave outside in the sun as I live in an apartment building so it would get taken. Are there products? I am not in the USA tho.

    1. WS*

      There’s lots of products that do this, but all of them AFAIK are going to need airing for at least some time, somewhere with good airflow if not necessarily in the sun. Wetsuits have specific care instructions so it might be worth checking with the manufacturer on this one.

      1. TiffIf*

        Along with airing the storage bag for a time, also sprinkle it generously inside with baking soda.

      2. StellaBella*

        thanks all who have replied I will try these things – can ask a friend yes, and baking soda is a great idea

    2. Anono-me*

      Have you looked into some sort of desiccant device for inside the bag? If there isn’t one marketed towards divers, one for tool boxes or gun lockers should work.
      I agree that for the suit, you probably want to stick to the manufacturer’s advice.

      You may also want to check in out some of the websites for hockey parents (Googling “Hockey Mom” may get the best results. ) as that equipment can get super stinky and often is not washable. Also it is a cold weather sport so leaving it outside to dry out isn’t very effective.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Do you have a bathtub? I’ve used ours for washing bulky re-enactor gear.

    4. TechWorker*

      Idk what the bag is made of (Eg if size is the only barrier to washing it!) but laundrettes often have extra large washing machines available.

    5. Katefish*

      I wash my wetsuit on delicate with a little Dr Bronners, which is a mild detergent good at removing stinks. Not sure if it’s available outside the US though.

  8. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    Such cute little guys.
    I am surprised how close they are, your cats all seem to get along swimmingly.

  9. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing, so feel free to talk about poetry or essays or blogs or whatever (as long as it meets the requirements for the weekend thread, of course).
    Anyone else ever find old notes for stuff you never wrote and wonder what the hell they were supposed to mean?

    1. Never Nicky*

      I had an article published in a journal – more of a comment/thought leader piece than academic research so more prose than stats!

      Unlike many, our Chief Exec is delighted for me to publish under my name rather than ghost write for or co-author with him (I’m in Comms so not as egregious as it sounds) and in our small field I’m establishing a decent reputation.

    2. Grace*

      I hit my deadline in the writing event I was taking part in – 60k total and about 25k of that was written in the final four days, because it turns out I am a terrible judge of how long scenes will end up being.

      But. It’s done! Still needs some tweaking and final touches, obviously, but it’s done.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Old notes can be so frustrating. There was one point where I was having such consistent, repeating dreams that I decided to start writing them down… And boy. Dreams do not seem consistent on re-reading.
      Then there’s the other way around–notes that get lost. Alas for the magazine articles I will never get to pitch because I apparently pitched the notebook.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Editing is kicking my butt. I want to finish so I can give the book to my betas and concentrate on worldbuilding for Book 3.

      And yes, I have found old notes, and once a list of plot ideas from dreams I had, and they were hilarious. :’D

  10. Open water swimming*

    I went on my first open water swim today, about half the distance I’d go in a pool. Anyone else do this? Tips, tricks or encouragement for a newbie? It felt weird to go back on shore- like I developed sea legs in my half hour out, but it was pretty wavy in the water. How is transitioning distance from pool to sea? I’m used to doing sets with breaks in the middle, but I don’t want to be exhausted in the sea. I also had a floatie dry bag for visibility.

    1. Vincaminor*

      You have to work harder in open water (currents, waves, the water is colder), so you won’t make the same distance initially. But you can keep working on your endurance at the pool, and refining your technique so you’re swimming with max efficiency.
      When one of our local open-water swimmers was training to do the Straits of Gibraltar, his trainers/cheering section had him work up to about 1.5 times the distance in the pool.
      I don’t know if you’re wearing a wetsuit, but if you are, that lets you take a bit of a rest if you need to — they’re super buoyant, and will let you just float. Salt water also just holds you up more. (If you’re in fresh water, sorry, no experience there.)
      If you have a good treading water technique (slow, low-effort), you can just pause and catch your breath even mid-water.
      And you almost certainly do this, but obligatory lifeguard: please swim with a buddy, or at least someone on shore who can raise the alarm if you get into trouble!
      Again, congratulations, and have fun!

      1. Open water swimming*

        I’m not wearing a wetsuit (water’s about 14′ , wetsuit usage is about 50-50 from other swimmers I’ve been watching)., but I did do a treading water break. I can hang on to my floatie it’s designed for that, apparently. And, yes, friend on shore. It would be fun to have a buddy, but no idea how to organize that at this time.

        1. Vincaminor*

          Yay multi-purpose floatie! Echoing below, just take a break if you feel you need it!

          There may be times when people tend to go swimming, even if you don’t know specific individuals.

          Lol, I’d be the 50% in a wetsuit, I’m a wimp.

    2. Vincaminor*

      Oh, and the jelly-legs are so real. When I remember, I put my feet down when I’m still maybe waist-deep, so I can get used to it while the water’s still supporting me, and don’t try to get out fast. And then I forget and fall over. :)

    3. Lilo*

      I’m a decently experienced ocean swimmer. Super common to feel like that. My big advice is to take it slow and take breaks. Even experience swimmers can get overwhelmed in wavy water. Much better to take a break than to take a risk. Don’t expect to do the same distances as in the pool, it’s just not comparable.

    4. clover*

      A full face snorkel mask is really great for swimming in wavy water. It’s a lot easier to swim laps at the beach when I dont have to worry about breathing in water, especially when the water is rougher. It can feel a little claustrophobic or like theres not enough air at first. But after a bit of practice I got used to it.

    5. MissGirl*

      Open water swimming definitely takes time. Practice the transition but know there will always be a weird sensation when you first get out. I’ve never done ocean swimming only lake swimming. I always wear a wetsuit for added buoyancy. Pick a point in the horizon and stick to it. I can’t believe how easy it is to get turned around.

    6. MissCoco*

      Oh it’s hard to do the transition! No breaks and no flip turns really adds up when there are waves and current!

      Sighting was a skill that really improved my experience.
      For ocean swimming, it’s about not drifting out or in to shore, and it’s pretty easy since you can do it by just breathing to that side a bit more often. For lakes or bodies of water where you have land in front of you, it’s easiest to pick some kind of break in the horizon (tall tree, gap in the reeds, etc) and that’s what you’ll quickly catch when you tilt just your eyes out of the water to sight.

      If you know someone with a kayak I used to bribe my kayak friends with a beer they could drink while lifeguarding me.
      They would just paddle around and keep an eye on me for an hour or so, enjoy their drink and the scenery, and I could store a water bottle in their boat to get water breaks during a workout.

      In addition to the floaty bag, add your most obnoxious swim cap. Pink, orange, neon green, and yellow are more visible than white or silver in the water

  11. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about board games and any other games you wish. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or for help identifying vaguely remembered childhood favourites.
    I’m still not that far into Deiland due to little gaming time at the moment, but I’m genuinely liking the “farming sim on a tiny scale” concept quite a bit!

    1. Beancat*

      I picked up the Mass Effect Legendary trilogy! It always struck me as more of my husband’s (boyfriend at the time!) type of game but I blew through the entire trilogy in a summer in college and loved it! I’m absolutely loving how it looks and plays now and I’m falling in love with it all over again. I also went and obtained two old DS games I used to play when I was in high school: Trauma Center: Under the Knife (so fun and I still have the muscle memory for it) and Lifesigns: Surgical Unit (a very rough around the edges game that I still very much enjoy, no matter how many typos, mistranslations, and technical bugs exist).

    2. TX Lizard*

      I have put in a ton of hours playing the new Pokemon Snap. That game was designed with me in mind and I love it

    3. twocents*

      I’m coming up on the final chapter in my replay of Dragon Quest Builders 2. I have held off on playing New Pokemon Snap, as my family wanted to check it out with me, but have canceled the last two times I scheduled. I told them yesterday that I’m starting New Pokemon Snap as soon as I finish DQB2, so if they really want to check it out with me first, then get scheduling something. I preordered LoZ: Skyward Sword so I want to finish New Pokemon Snap before that releases.

      In tabletop gaming, I’ve started Machi Koro Legacy with my family! I really wanted a legacy game, but the king of the genre (Pandemic) had my family saying “oh f–k no.” Machi Koro is much lighter, and we liked it enough we’ve got the next game scheduled.

    4. Nicki Name*

      Made some more progress in Octopath Traveler. I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of the side quests.

    5. RosyGlasses*

      We played a bit of Pandemic and Instanbul and are gearing up for Root this weekend – super hard game to learn but it keeps our son coming over to visit on sundays :)

    6. Aurora Leigh*

      Last night we got a group together (all vaccinated!) to play Ravine. It’s a co-op game of trying to survive after a plane crash and so fun!

      Hubby and I discovered 7 Wonders Duel and have been having a lot of with it! Only 2 players needed and 30 minute playtime works well during baby’s nap!

  12. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I had a lovely dinner with my brother yesterday and we walked/ he pushed my walker down part of the river trail in town. It was my first time on it and it’s really pretty.

    1. Princess Deviant*

      I booked my first tattoo for October this year! I’ve also just bought shed-loads of gothy makeup. I’m having a mid-life ‘crisis’ and rather enjoying it actually. It feels like I am finally becoming me. I think it is to do in no small part with my autism diagnosis last year.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        When I hit about 30 I realized that the way I was dressing (boring bland grown-up clothes*) was not making me happy, and started buying weird dresses and rediscovering my Goth Phase(tm) from high school. I don’t think mine was a midlife crisis so much as realizing I literally don’t care what people think of me anymore.

        (That’s also around the age I realized I was neurodivergent as well, though I can’t get a formal Dx. Were these related things? I don’t know!)

        *No shame if this is actually your style! It’s not boring or bland on you, Random Person! But on me it was like wearing a Boring Human costume.

      2. slmrlln*

        I’m going to dye my hair for the first time! Always wanted to have a non-natural color, never brave enough, but I’ve finally gotten to the point where I don’t care what other people think. ‘Finally becoming me’ is exactly where I’m at. It’s going to be teal! And because I’m still a little nervous, I’m using semi-permanent dye that should wash out over the course of a month or so.

      3. Voluptuousfire*

        I got my first tattoo at the beginning of May and I agree. I feel much more myself than I have in awhile.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          Wonderful! Do you mind sharing what you got if it’s not too personal a question?

    2. Meh*

      I finally ordered all the door hardware needed to replace the brass (knobs, hinges, strikeplates) in the house. We’ve had it piece meal for 2 years now. It looks so much better!

      1. hamsterpants*

        Over the past two years I replaced all the brass in my house. So much work but so rewarding when it’s done! Haha there is so much sneaky brass too, we had to run out for an extra part because the bathroom doorjamb was brass and we didn’t catch it until late!

        1. Meh*

          I still have a few light fixtures to spray paint; even boob lights look better if they aren’t brass (I went with oil rubbed bronze). But that stuff is everywhere! I love brass.. real brass that patinas and weathers. Not shiny builder grade brass.

    3. StellaBella*

      It has stopped raining today and tomorrow so I have walked a lot today and will tmrw, too. Nine days of rain was rough and more next week.

    4. Ali G*

      The worst of the tree pollen is done and I could finally put the rug out and take the covers off the furniture on our covered porch. We sat out there last night and watched some shows and had a nice night. I’m looking forward to having friends over and hanging out there protected from the crazy cicadas.

    5. GoryDetails*

      First significant road trip in a car with a friend in over a year! This one was a run up to Maine from southern NH, hitting a couple of different lobster places along the way (including the famous and worth-the-trip Red’s Eats in Wiscasset).

    6. Grim*

      Drank half a beer. I really love beer, but due to a medication I took 20 years ago, any alcohol gave me searing kidney pain.

      I opened a beer for my wife to have with dinner, not knowing she already just opened one. Normally I’ll have a sip of her beer when I bring one to her, the “handling charge” she calls it, and it’s never been a problem. But I decided to drink half with dinner and had no kidney pain!

      Twas such a treat. Felt a small buzz from it, but wifey had the bigger buzz, as she drank the remaining half.

      Not sure if this was a one off or not, but that Heineken tasted delicious.

    7. Trixie*

      My former-pixie cut style has grown out long enough to gather in a pony tail or hair clip. I’ve had one haircut in about 14 months, and feel like I made it past the most difficult part.

      Donated two chairs from living room in final stages of The Great Purge. Space much more calming and peaceful. (Versus seeing multiple items as yet to be completed projects.)

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      Last summer I made and froze several loaves of zucchini bread, using zucchini from our garden. This morning I thawed one out and it was a delicious preview of summer!

    9. ThatGirl*

      After years of procrastination I had a new kitchen faucet installed yesterday and it’s such a big improvement! It doesn’t drip, it has a pull out sprayer, it’s just so much nicer. Worth it, wish I had done it sooner.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I got the nerve to let the teen cut my hair short and I love it. The teen talked me into returning the favor and I did a decent undercut. (A low-key one because edgy i am not.) Long on top, pixie in the back….and I can’t stop thinking of it as a reverse mullet.

    11. the cat's ass*

      Just made plans to go camping with my daughter’s GS troop in a gorgeous area (Sonoma Coast), which is right up the street from where hubs and i honeymooned. Everyone, most especially the scouts, will all be vaccinated and it will be our first live meeting since March of 2020 (we have had weekly Zoom meetings). Even the ‘meh’ campers are psyched!

    12. Jackalope*

      Our porch has had issues for a bit; most of it is fine, but the section between the door and the stairs (ie, the most-used bit) apparently needed to be replaced about 12 years ago and whoever owned it at the time replaced it with a piece of plywood instead of fixing it right. Due to water damage it was starting to sag and dip under our weight, and we made the judgment call that it was time to replace it.

      So this week the porch repair guy came and tore out the plywood, fixed and cleaned everything up, and repainted the bit he tore out. (Per our request he didn’t paint the rest of the porch floor since that would have made it more expensive, but he did leave the gallon of paint he used and I’m planning to repaint it myself in the next week or two.) It was more money than I really wanted to spend, but it’s so nice not having to feel nervous every time we walk in and out the front door, and he did an excellent job – it looks really nice. I also recently repainted another part of the porch that is still structurally sound but needed a touch-up, and with these few steps our house has gone miles down the road from looking slightly neglected to looking cared-for and in good shape.

    13. Joan Rivers*

      I got joy from going out to hear a 93 y.o. cabaret singer, Marilyn Maye, w/a friend I reconnected w/who I met decades ago. Maye is still touring the US and so dynamic.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        So glad to hear she’s still going strong! I remember her from appearances on TV (I think Merv Griffin) in the 1960s.

    14. Marion Ravenwood*

      I booked my Covid vaccines! The UK just dropped their age limit for the vaccine to 32 (or 31 if your birthday is on or before 1st July) so I’m off to get my first jab on Thursday :)

    15. Small town*

      I got to volunteer at our local COVID vaccine clinic and we were very busy. It is encouraging for the future. It is a glorious mid-Atlantic day and we get to go to the local brewpub tonight. And I finished a second sock on a knitting project!

    16. Laura Petrie*

      We had two really enjoyable evenings into town for food and a few drinks. I was a bit wary at first but the places we went to felt safe and it was so good to be out again.

      We also met friends in a local bar last night. They don’t live locally and we haven’t seen them in person for well over a year. I also finally got to wear my new pinafore dress for the first time. Between Endo bloat and lockdown weight gain I’m not feeling great about how I look at the moment but I loved my outfit.

      I’ve got a tattoo appointment in a couple of weeks and my artist sent me her design yesterday. I absolutely love it, am so excited !

    17. Voluptuousfire*

      It was 90 degrees yesterday and I ran errands and got my legs waxed. I like it but it’s too expensive to do regularly so I’ll try it at home next time. I am so went all over for errands, which I forgot how much I enjoyed it. I went to New Jersey (only 15 minutes drive from me) and had lunch and I drove walk over. I had my windows open and music up and that makes me happy.

    18. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Small joy: my salon bailed on me and in a fit of frustration, I gave myself a haircut. I’m not….unimpressed with the results. It actually came out pretty decent.

      Big joy: met with friends after 14 months. We’re all vaccinated. Felt nice.

  13. Perpetua*

    Anyone here living in the Netherlands (ideally Amsterdam) with children? :) If you’re an expat there, even better.
    Or even if you’ve moved abroad with (small) children – share your experience!

    We’re thinking of moving from the Balkans to the Netherlands, mainly hoping to find a better value/mindset fit for our family. We are in our thirties, have a 15-month-old daughter, my partner works remotely in IT, I am currently still on maternity leave and otherwise self-employed, so this seems like a good point in life to try something we’ve talked about at length but never dared to actually do.

    We would go there for a couple of weeks (ideally in the fall, if corona allows) to get a feel for the city, and then plan the actual move if we like it there. It feels both exciting and like the right next step for our family, and terrifying, moving somewhere where we won’t have family support (we don’t lean heavily on it, but we do use it).

    All advice welcome!

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Do you speak dutch? That will have a huge effect on how you integrate. Amsterdam is an international city, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding folks to hang out with, but the native language will offer you options that you wouldn’t otherwise have. If you don’t speak it, consider signing up for classes and such, it is a great way to meet people anyway.

      Also, I would be wary of living anywhere that is suuuuuper touristy, but that may just my personal preferences. I’m not sure you’ll get a good feel for how overrun such cities often are when you visit, just because travel is still so limited. Also, fall is usually not the top travel time anyway.

      I’d call the tourist information office, honestly, and ask them for other contacts and places to look for information. They’ll tell you mostly the good things, of course, but it is always a great place to start.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Amsterdam is delightfully quiet and un-touristy once you get several blocks away from the center.

      2. Perpetua*

        We don’t speak Dutch, we have no specific relation to the Netherlands so far. We’ve started learning it on Duolingo just for fun, and classes are definitely an option if we move there.

        We’re not interested in living in the middle of a tourist hotspot, but from what we’ve read, there are many parts of Amsterdam with “normal” life, so hopefully we’d find a place for us in one of them.

        The tourist information office feels like such a relic, it hasn’t even crossed my mind :D But a good idea to add to the list, thank you!

    2. mreasy*

      One of my colleagues lives in a suburb of Amsterdam with two school-age children. They’re able to cycle nearly everywhere they go and from talking to them, the school system is excellent. It sounds like a very livable place.

    3. Jessi*

      Have you looked into the visa situation? Cause that would be my first place to start!

    4. PX*

      Is Amsterdam a must? There are other cities in the Netherlands that I think are much better value for money (Amsterdam, like many capitals, is hideously expensive) and as Teatime is Goodtime mentioned, do not underestimate how annoying it gets when its full of tourists – even if you can avoid them by avoiding the centre.

      If you are happy to consider other cities, consider Rotterdam, Leiden or Utrecht (plus associated smaller towns/suburbs close by like Delft or Schiedam). The Netherlands is small and has great public transport, so getting around is easy (another reason I’d hesitate to get stuck on Amsterdam). Be aware of a pretty big urban/rural divide in attitudes as well.

      Be aware that while the Netherlands looks great from the outside, they are also having their own issues with increasing right wing politics/nationalism.

      If you’re an outsider – making friends can be pretty hard (you tend to find a lot of people are still in friend groups made in university and are not always the most open to adding new people). Definitely make an effort to learn Dutch if you really want to integrate – while everyone speaks good English, your relationships with Dutch people will probably stay surface level if you dont speak Dutch. Check out stuffdutchpeoplelike . com – it was a blog originally started by an expat and though it hasnt been updated for quite a while, its a good starting point for some of the things about the culture you should keep in mind.

      1. Perpetua*

        We’re open to considering other options, so thanks for the additional nudge! Amsterdam probably has the most opportunities for my partner to network (and maybe for me to work as well), but as you mention, the great connections might mean that we don’t have to actually live IN Amsterdam. Although we’d definitely like something urban-ish.

        Are there countries for which people say that making friends is very easy? :D Because it seems to me that making friends as adults is generally fairly difficult anywhere, especially if you’re not very social/outgoing. But yes, we definitely expect it not to be easy.

        Thank you for the link as well, I’ll check it out!

    5. A*

      Check on the Renegade Mama blog (Janelle Hanchett) on Facebook. She moved to the Netherlands 2 years ago with young kids and writes about the good and the less good.

      1. Perpetua*

        Thank you so much, I took a quick peek so far, seems like exactly the type of content I’m really interested in!

    6. Pam*

      There is a comic writer called @betje that draws about her life with kids there. She’s dutch, but just moved back after years in the US. Might give you some light hearted insight.

    7. Tara*

      If you want to be easily commutable into Amsterdam, but in less of a big city / tourist trap, I would really recommend Utrecht. My friend lives there and works in Amsterdam (train is about 20 mins), and I always love going to visit.

    8. JM in DC*

      Good luck! I can give a perspective from the US to Italy with a 20 month old and spouse. I went for a job with the UN. My spouse was not able to find work there and was really hard for him to be a stay at home dad for three years. He speaks three languages and learned Italian pretty well and still no one would hire him for even part time work. He was able to find and make friends but it was harder for me – a lot of the people there in my age bracket at work were single women. Its also crazy expensive – we were in Rome – and had no car. I also had no assistance from the US embassy etc., we were on our own a lot. So I would recommend you have a job secured or a lot of savings before you make the leap. But i have no regrets. Good luck!

  14. AcademiaNut*

    I found a useful tip for buying eBooks on Amazon recently. Sometimes books published more than about five years ago have more than one ebook edition. If you search for it on Amazon, it gives you the most recent one. If you use google to search for it, you get links to multiple editions, with the older edition sometimes significantly cheaper (as in half the price, sometimes). They’re both for sale, but the Amazon search algorithm buries the cheaper one.

    I’ve come across a couple of excellent fantasy series recently. The Memoirs of Lady Trent, by Marie Brennan, is set in a Victorian-esque world, and is written in the form of an elderly woman writing her memoirs of her career as a dragon naturalist, from childhood to about age forty. Excellent world building (the author has an anthropology background), a great main character, and what is now one of my favourite SF romances. The other is the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. Urban fantasy, a fast paced and entertaining read, with a bit of humour, some romance, and a lot of twisty plot. It’s currently on book 15, but hasn’t lost steam, and the author manages at least a book a year.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Huh, I thought Amazon defaulted to the cheaper option. Maybe that’s only for physical books, as I learned about that from a man whose book was counterfeited (bought Kindle version, printed illegally, sold on Amazon for 1 cent less).
      Pretty neat to know though.

    2. sswj*

      Ooooh, thank you for the Marie Brennan recommendation! I’m not usually into fantasy, but I love Anne McCaffrey and I love Victorian mystery and historical fiction. I’ve been looking for a new series to get into and this sounds fun!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        You might also get a kick out of the Paradol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger, if you find the fantasy elements of the Brennan books acceptable – they’re a bunch of mystery-adventures, set in a steampunk Victorian England where vampires and werewolves and such are regular garden-variety citizens of the realm. First book (of five) is SOULLESS.

        1. GoryDetails*

          I enjoyed the Parasol Protectorate series (and, to a lesser degree, the next-generation follow-up series) – lots of fun, delightful steampunk bits, entertaining romances… There are also manga adaptations of the first couple of books, great fun in themselves. (For fans of the hyper-competent beta werewolf Professor Lyall, there’s a side novella called Romancing the Werewolf that picks up on his relationship with (won’t say as it’s a spoiler) after the events of the main series; some very funny bits in that one.)

          1. Max Kitty*

            I also liked Carriger’s YA earlier-generation series, the Finishing School series.

        2. Siege*

          Timeless is exceptionally racist, in a “fun” Victorian-colonialist-in-Egypt way. The earlier books are fun, though due to subject matter progressive only in certain ways. Timeless put me off ever reading Carriger again. I did not expect it to be like it is, even having read the previous four books.

          1. Alanis*

            You know, I never really put it together. I loved Soulless and found the series had diminishing returns and after I read Timeless I just never picked up another Carriger novel again. I think it left such a bad taste I just quietly wrote her off as a desirable author. Lots of other fish in the sea and all that.
            Temeraire was another one that blew me away and had diminishing returns. All the books were so long finishing the series became such a chore that I just bowed out after the 5th or 6th book.

            1. Cleo*

              I had the exact same experience with Termeraire! I stopped after 5 or 6 – some of my reading friends said it got better again in later books but I just couldn’t make myself care enough to try another one.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        The Brennan is very low key on the fantasy end. The world is imaginary, but there’s no magic, just dragons and related species.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Also, if dragons are your thing, try the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik – Napoleonic wars with intelligent dragons. Again, no real magic, aside from giant acid spitting flying creatures.

    3. SJ*

      Thanks for the Marie Brennan recommendation. I just checked the kindle book out from my local library— it looks like something I will enjoy!

  15. ifyoulikepinacoladas*

    Just wanted to update regarding my situation. I felt a lot better seeing other people had felt similarly, and it’s made me realise a lot of the feelings were really rooted in loneliness with some self loathing for good measure. I feel a lot steadier already and have embarked on some self-initiated exciting projects at work to remind myself about why I love my job – it also involves relationship building with lots of people across the place so that is a good step. I’m trying to build and value healthier connections with others. Thank you for all your comments, you really helped me begin to climb out of a darker place than I realised I was in.

  16. NewCEO*

    Any Savannah, Georgia, residents here? What do you love and hate about the city?

    My husband and I are selling our East Coast city home because we need something different after living downtown for the past 10+ years. We stopped by Savannah on a road trip and I found the city absolutely stunning. Now, we were only there for a few hours, but it left such an impression on me that I at least want to explore if we buy a house there.

    What’s really important to us is walkability — we still want to live downtown(ish) so we can walk to parks, restaurants and stores.

    Any certain neighborhoods you’d recommend?

  17. traffic_spiral*

    Huh. Interesting premise for the book. I’m reminded of something I read in a book about writing. A young writer came up to a bestselling author and said “my problem is that I’m great at writing but bad at plots. If I had a good plot, I know I could write a masterpiece.” The author thought for a minute and went “ok. Here’s a plot: a man and a woman fall in love. Go write me a masterpiece.”

    1. Dr. Doll*

      I forget where I heard this long ago – there are only two basic plots in the world, or three depending how you count. Someone goes on an adventure, a stranger comes to town, and someone falls in love.

      1. twocents*

        It’s hilarious to me when someone says “X Book copied Y Book! They have the same plot!” and the plot is the hero’s journey.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I love the hero’s journey – it makes it so easy to explain to the tech people I work with what I need from them.

          I write stories for the company newsletter about tech accomplishments. The tech people are often a bit confused about what I need from them, but when I explain that it’s like an adventure movie, where the heroine wants The Thing but There Are Dragons and The Heroine Fails but then The Heroine Rallies and Gets The Thing and Everyone Lives Happily Ever After, they are excited to tell me the story.

      2. fposte*

        I once heard somebody point out that the first two are basically the same plot from different perspectives.

    2. Nerdgal*

      There’s even a book – Plotto – that supposedly contains all the permutations of all possible plots. My nephew used to have a copy.

  18. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    Mine is starting to have some good growth from the veggies, which is exciting! Many of the spring flowers have died off, and the heat is difficult on some of the plants, but overall it feels like a good time of year in the garden. How is the greenery in your homes, yards, and/or neighborhoods?

    1. Beancat*

      My portulacaria afra is so big and I’m so proud of him! He needs repotted but he’s been living for over a year and that’s the longest I’ve ever kept a plant alive, so I’m happy.

    2. Blue Eagle*

      The bunnies found a weak spot in my garden fence and ate ALL of the leaves off the swiss chard I had started from seed and all but 2 spinach plants. Arrgggh!
      Not sure if I’ll start another set from seed or just fill the entire garden with tomato plants.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      My peonies are ready to bloom! This is my first time having them and I’m excited. The rose bushes have some buds. The rose campions are coming in nice.

      I still need to empty two of my raised beds of dirt and refill them, but I haven’t yet gotten myself out there to do it.

    4. Lilo*

      The strawberries are going great. My toddler’s diet may be half strawberries thanks to the bumper crop. I’m debating adding a pumpkin to my garden, which is probably a pipe dream and bordering on late.

      1. Pucci*

        Mine are fantastic. We have had little rain of late, which makes for great strawberry flavor

    5. Meh*

      I finally took the much needed steps of repotting my houseplants. I was so scared I’d kill them, ( and they may still die) but it felt good grunging in the soil.

      Anyone with experience training monstera that grew wide? Will it eventually grow up a pole if I keep adjusting the ties? Or is it hardened into place?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Just a quick google and it looks like certain types of monstera will climb but others will not.

        I found this page:
        green obsessions dot com/ how to train your monstera

        1. Meh*

          Thanks! I’ll look. I can’t find much on “monstera that should have been climbing but you’re a terrible plant parent and didn’t give it anything but you want to now:

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, the point is that this particular type of monstera may not be a climber. So bad plant parent does not even come into play.

    6. GoryDetails*

      The only thing I’ve put in the ground so far is my little bay shrub, which winters over in the kitchen and goes outside in spring. I did pick up assorted herbs and some cleome and heliotrope at a favorite garden store, but I need to set up fencing before planting them; there’s a veritable plague of rabbits and chipmunks in my area (possibly the reason why we also have a charming family of foxes!) and while they won’t go after herbs like rosemary they will demolish the more tender-leaved types. And since this is also a banner year for ticks, spending any time in the garden at all requires full coverage with DEET and some pyrethrin-coated gaiters and hat.

    7. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      My lettuces are burgeoning, and I’m hoping the hot weather forecast for the next few days doesn’t hurt them. I also bought a six-pack of “mesclun mix” seedlings, which are also doing okay as plants, but now that they’re a little bigger don’t look like something I want in my salad, so I’m considering pulling those out now and using that space for cucumber or squash plants.

      I pre-ordered cucumber and tomato plants last fall, because I’d been unable to get to the garden center last spring because of the coronavirus. So I have six cucumber plants from the garden center, and am expecting two more to arrive in the mail soon, along with three heirloom tomatoes.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We moved more than half the tender perennials outside–the front office feels huge & airy. I’m thinking about keeping the big fig at my WFH desk because it blocks the sun so well…and it’s a great background for videocalls.
      The irises and pinks are in bloom. My first attempt at wildflowers in the lawn yielded only buttercups so I will do it right next time & solarize.
      There are two tiny stalks of asparagus in the bed I started last spring–I didn’t think any had survived the weird weather so it’s delightful.
      My bum shoulder is feeling better so I’m going to try digging out some more landscaping fabric from the terrace garden we’re restoring. Soooo many rocks under there, so year 2 will be another round of things that cover ground quickly.

    9. TiffIf*

      I have tiny green tomatoes on a few of my plants! This makes me so excited.

      One of my tomato plants though was looking noticeably droopy and not showing the new growth the others were. I was wondering if it wasn’t getting enough sun or something (because it was sort of in the shadow of a larger plant for a portion of the day) so I decided to transplant it to a slightly different location…and discovered, no it wasn’t an issue with sunlight–I had damaged the stem pretty badly without realizing it when I originally transplanted it so it is having trouble getting nutrients through a damaged stem. I straightened and braced the damaged part of the stem so I hope it manages to pull through? It isn’t dead yet, so I hope the droopy damaged bits will just drop off and it will eventually have new growth. ::crossing fingers::

    10. Loves libraries*

      We really need rain. Our lettuce is very productive. Harvested our first tomato. The funny of the week was having a zucchini on a plant that was supposed to be a squash plant.
      Flowers are doing well. Our Easter Lilly from a few years ago is about 4 ft tall and stunning.

    11. Jules the 3rd*

      My parents handed me surprise tomato plants, so now I have two bell peppers (flowering), four strawberries (a few fruits), 10 tomato plants and 2 pineapples (just starting).

      But the mulberry tree is really producing this year, so I don’t care about the rest right now, just nom nom nom. I am looking at the huge quantity of figs on the other tree and thinking about netting.

  19. Loopy*

    I am so excited to be off work for the next week and some. I am finally back in the New England area and surprisingly have two days to myself. I am in central MA and am trying to think of some lovely places to go hiking those days or just cute little New England things that would be fun to do solo on almost no notice (sadly probably too late for anything ticketed). Does anyone have any recommendations for easy day trips or great hiking locations that are roughly within about an hour’s drive from Central MA?

    Also a massive thanks to the many many wonderful suggestions last week for prepared meals. I knew almost none of them and researched everyone thoroughly. Some were a bit above my budget but also had new customer discounts. I think I narrowed it down to sunbasket or splendid spoon, though a few others were awesome when I have more income! Daily harvest and was it chef unity? also looked great!

    1. Jay*

      We are currently on vacation in MA and spent a couple of days in Orange, near Athol. We loved hiking Doan’s Falls and Spirit Falls. Looked like it might get crowded on the weekend – we went on Thursday and met almost no one. Enjoy!

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Trustees of Reservations and Mass Audobon both have a lot of properties throughout the state that you can see on a map and/or narrow by type (eg, garden, wetland, etc).

      State parks are another options – whether they are open for day visitors is park dependent right now.

    3. Lora*

      Mt Wachusett! It is a small mountain with hiking trails and a nice lookout point on top. Parking can be tough as they have only a few small lots so you have to get there earlier in the day. But very nice hiking.

    4. Purt’s Peas*

      There’s a gravity hill in Greenfield, MA. There’s a road snaking by a brook there. If you drive a few feet out from under the bridge—in the direction of town, not the direction of the woods—and put your car in neutral, you’ll roll uphill!! It’s a blast, something about the area creates the optical illusion that a downhill slope is uphill.

      The first result when you google “gravity hill greenfield ma” will get you some more precise directions if you’re interested :)

    5. GoryDetails*

      If you’re near Springfield, the Seuss Sculpture Garden is worth a visit. (There’s a museum too, with lots of fun stuff, but that’s ticketed – though you could check the schedule and exhibits to see if it interests you.) The sculptures include many of Seuss’ characters and a life-sized statue of the man himself.

    6. Bluebell*

      Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston is stunning. Also, Moore State Park in Paxton is on my list.

  20. mreasy*

    Is anyone else suffering with extraordinary hay fever this season? I had to go to urgent care, I was so knocked out by them – and this is with my having taken an OTC medication for a month. ENT appointment next week & I hope he can help this time! It does seem like it’s particularly bad this year where I am on the east coast.

    1. Lilo*

      Yes! It’s been awful. I also feel like you have such nasty tradeoffs. Flonase makes me so jittery, as do most decongestants, and Allegra and Claritin give me headaches. I’ve been using my neti bottle a bit.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yes, it’s been pretty bad which is why I haven’t minded masking. It’s been so bad that I have been showering and changing clothes after being outside for awhile. I find using a neti pot helps a great deal.

    3. Velvet*

      Yes! I normally don’t react to pollen but I’ve been rubbing my eyes and sniffling. My partner who has a history of allergies is really feeling it this spring, too. (We’re in the midAtlantic.)

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      Mine have been brutal this year! I’ve been wondering if it’s due to my immune system, having had nothing better to do due to masking and social distancing for a year, deciding to declare all-out war on the pollen.

    5. Ada*

      Yep! Had to see a doctor because I was coughing my lungs out from hay fever. If you haven’t tried it yet, consider giving saline nasal spray a shot. I’m doing that plus Flonase at the doctor’s recommendation and it’s helped immensely. Huge difference compared to Flonase alone.

    6. Oxford Comma*

      It’s off the chain. I will say that wearing a mask helps some, but it’s been brutal and we’re not even at June yet.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We’ve kept the windows shut to ward it off. There just hasn’t been enough rain to wash the pollen away, so a breeze brings it back up. I’m using my mask gardening -it helps.

    8. pancakes*

      I have read a few articles in recent years about climate change lengthening the season and increasing the pollen count. From a summary on the Weather Channel site:

      “Scientists have made this connection before, but a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that analyzed long-term pollen data found that pollen concentrations have increased by over 21% in North America, and the season is over 20 days longer than it was in 1990.”

    9. Pollen*

      It is absolutely out of control. I plan to leave this area once my parents pass, I can’t live like this. I mentioned last week that I live in the worst US city for asthma/allergies.

      My ENT put a note in my file to give me a specific ten-day antibiotic every spring and fall, because GPs would give me a “wait and see, antibiotics don’t help with a cold” BS runaround, and my seasonal allergies ALWAYS turn into raging sinus infections. I looked into sinus surgery, but was told my particular shape couldn’t be improved in any meaningful way.

      This week I had to vacuum my front door. The pollen was so thick it was fuzzy, and rain can’t reach under the portico.

    10. Sleepless*

      There is a moderator post on r/wellthissucks right now that says that all allergy testing posts are getting combined into one megathread, because everybody in the world seems to be suffering from allergies.

      Weirdly enough, mine aren’t bad at all this year. I have allergies twice a year, once in late May and once at the end of August, but I’m doing pretty well right now and I don’t know why.

      1. allathian*

        Have you been wearing a mask as soon as you step out the front door? That might explain it.

        My birch allergy’s been particularly bad this year, although I’ve finally caught on to splitting the 24h pill in two and I’ve actually managed on the lower dose. I’m also avoiding uncooked apples and carrots.

        My son had to take OTC allergy meds for the first time this year.

        1. allathian*

          Most antihistamines make me very tired and some eliminate all my filters to the point that I can be dangerous to myself or other people at the least provocation. Not trying that again!

    11. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’ve been living off pain meds, the sinus pain has been awful. It’s been a little better the last few days so hopefully that will continue. But my asthma has been bad for the season as well, usually I don’t have issues until August.

    12. Anono-me*

      My allergies have been bad this spring, especially my eyes.

      I read somewhere that allergies are getting worse as cities plant more and more planned trees because cities are planting only male trees (the pollen producers) to avoid needing to clean up fruit from the female trees.

      1. allathian*

        That’s interesting, if a bit short-sighted given the prevalence of allergies.

    13. Chauncy Gardener*

      Yup. Can’t breathe at all and am on every medication known! It doesn’t help that there has been no rain at all in my specific area, even though there’s been some a few towns over. Argh! We’ve hermetically sealed our house, turned on the central A/C and are gutting it out. It stinks because I love to garden and I can’t even….

  21. The Other Dawn*

    I wanted to thank Violetta and traffic_spiral (illuminaughti has so many MLM videos!) for posting links about the Optavia weight loss plan in the May 8-9 weekend thread. I checked them out and shared them with my friend who started the plan. She hadn’t done any research before spending 400.00 on one month of food so she had no idea it’s an MLM.

    I checked in with her the other day. She completed about a week and a half, lost five pounds, went off because her family was visiting, gained back some of the five pounds, and said she plans to pick it up this coming week until she leaves for her trip to Vegas on May 31. In the meantime she spent another 200.00 on two weeks of food. She said the food isn’t as good as the Medifast we used years ago and didn’t have some of the things she used to like. She doesn’t plan to continue with it. I asked about the health coach thing and she said the person above her health coach tried to recruit her within the first week, but she has no interest in it. One week and they’re trying to get her to be a “health coach”?? Yikes.

    What got me thinking it might be an MLM is she posted on social media about losing five pounds and “thanks to Sally for introducing me to the plan!” I was immediately suspicious. Then when people asked her what she’s doing, her “health coach” would reply that she will PM the details later. If it’s something Weight Watchers or Atkins, why wouldn’t they just say so? I later asked her about that post and she said she absolutely didn’t want to post it. She has a really hard time saying no so she posted it.

    I’m hoping when she gets home from her trip she finally finds something reasonable she can stick with and doesn’t cave and go back to this again.

    1. WellRed*

      At least it sounds like she listens to you and also won’t get too sucked in to the whole cult.

    2. Elle Woods*

      Glad you were able to talk to your friend. Hopefully she won’t go back to it again.
      Whenever I see someone say, “I’ll PM you the details” when asked about a product, I know immediately it’s probably an MLM. It’s weird to me that they won’t come right out and say what the name of the company or product is.

  22. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    My Elder Statesdog is having some health issues that are probably minor but still a little scary, and we have her next follow-up this upcoming week that will hopefully give us a much better idea of what’s going on. In the meantime – please tell me happy, goofy, silly stories about what shenanigans your pets are getting up to!

    1. identifying remarks removed*

      I bought a cat tree for my floofy little Persian and put it by the window so she could nap and watch the world go by. She’s completely ignored it and is using my laptop bag for naptime instead.

    2. Ali G*

      My Old Man had his annual exam this week and happily he’s doing great! He’s been on renal support food since last August and his kidney levels are way down and back within acceptable levels. I am so relieved! He has a heart murmur which is well controlled with meds, but heart and kidney stuff go together, so it could have been a lot worse. At 14+ we couldn’t have asked for better results. I hope Elder Statesdog ends up being good too!
      I posted last week about his need for a dental and after talking to the vet, we are going to do it. The build up is bad enough that it could spread infections elsewhere and he has at least one tooth that needs to go. Now I just need to decide if I will have our regular vet do it, or pony up for the specialist vet dentist.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Good wishes and positive energy to your Elder Statesdog! My goofball old man dog is presently reclining in a position that ought not to be anatomically possible to catch the breeze by the back door. He’s almost nose to nose with our neighbor’s cat on the porch. Both are sound asleep, and I’m pretty sure the dog has no idea the cat (his nemesis!) is there.

    4. GoryDetails*

      Hope things turn out OK for your dog!

      My cats discovered that mushroom stems are actually very sneaky prey. I dropped one on the floor while trimming some mushrooms for dinner and found the cats playing an aggressive game of hockey with it up and down the hall. (So of course I gave them some more!)

    5. ThatGirl*

      We went through some rough months with our older doggo back in the winter – he injured his back, then started having seizures. But with time and medication he is much more himself again. So snuggly and as silly as ever. I love watching him “fight” with his bed, which is made for burrowing.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband’s dippy one-eyed cat likes to climb all over me when my younger dog isn’t around to defend me from her, but she doesn’t seem to have figured out how to cuddle without repeatedly jamming her claws into my leg. This morning, we almost had a good cuddle going, except for that one paw full of claws she kept flexing. Finally I was like IF YOU DON’T BEHAVE I’M GONNA HAVE TO HOLD YOUR HAND (isn’t that a thing we say to six-year-olds? Haha) and grabbed hold of her paw and she just kinda went “Um. Okay?” And fell asleep in my lap with me holding onto her paw. (And as soon as I let go of it she started flexing it into my leg again :P )

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Not a pet exactly, more like a neighbor. ..we have a family of crows on our property. One has started visiting our back patio when we eat out there. He looks hopeful, like maybe some human has fed him. Earlier this week my husband was having lunch, and the crow flow over. He watched the crow watch him, turning its head back as it swooped low….right into a tree branch. It dropped a few feet before flying up to sit in the next tree. My husband said it looked like a cat caught being clumsy: “I MEANT to do that!”

    8. Max Kitty*

      One of my cats is engaged in a recurring showdown with a beach towel that he has adopted as his own. He starts out laying on the flat towel. Eventually he has to fluff it up, wad it up, etc., until he is triumphantly laying on a mound of towel. The mound usually ends up moving several feet until I pick the towel up and smooth it out, and the showdown starts all over again.

      We don’t have any nice cat beds like the wonderful picture above. No one ever used them.

    9. violet04*

      Sending lots of good vibes to your pup!

      Two of my cats like to bring their toys to the bedroom when I go to bed at night.

      They like to announce their presence and meow with the toys in their mouth. It startled me the first time I heard it because it sounded so sad. But now I love hearing it and it makes me smile.

      One cat leaves the toys on the floor. The other will come up on the bed and leave his stuffed mouse there. I’ll find them mixed in the sheets when I make the bed.

      1. Helenteds*

        One of my parents’ cats likes to grab anything he can hold in his mouth, whether they are actual cat toys or just socks, and carry them around in his mouth while mewing loudly. We have to put his toys up at night so he doesn’t do this in the middle of the night.

    10. Alaska_Blue*

      I’m dogsitting a golden retriever with a show dog coat in addition to my black short coated rescue pup. We went on a trail walk on Thursday and the golden found a muddy trickle of a stream and proceeded to snorkel in it. Mud halfway up his legs, mud behind his ears, mud everywhere! After his mud bath, he began to frolic. He’d been trotting along before but after he started zooming and prancing and smiling and having a grand old time. Luckily there were several clear streams and ponds the golden also dipped into before we made it back to the car, so he wasn’t a completely muddy mess. And I appreciate my dog so much more now! My pup doesn’t get very muddy because of his short coat, and it doesn’t show even if he does. It was a great walk and both pups were tired by the end.

    11. Other Meredith*

      It’s cicada season, and she’s having an all you can eat cicada buffet. It’s truly disgusting, but also hilarious to see her glee whenever we go outside (which is not as often as normal because I do not want her to eat any more bugs!).

    12. A. Ham*

      I have a dog that is healthy (knock on wood!) but into her senior years, and starting to show her age a little bit. (nothing serious- just getting a little “lumpy” and moving a little more slowly- though getting her on glucosamine did the trick on that second thing). We are a couple that in the nicer months like sitting outside places (restaurants, beer gardens, outdoor performances, etc.) and bring her with us. we decided this year to get a portable outside bed so her old bones would be more comfortable in situations like that.
      The weather has been getting nicer and we have been doing some of those things… guess who is being stubborn and never laying on this nice new bed we got her? haha

    13. Rara Avis*

      My daughter asked my why I had one of her ponytail holders fastening my braid. I said I found it on my bedroom floor and thought it was mine. Nope; our cat thief stole it off her bedside table and used it as a toy.

    14. Small town*

      Our Statesdog (16 in July) had a massive attack of the zoomies today that ended up in him writhing around, on his back, on the living room floor. Just dog joy.

      He also enjoys herding the family into one room so he can keep an eye on us. If 3 are in a space he will find the fourth, bonk their knee, and lead them to the family, and sit in front of where he wants us.

    15. Dancing Otter*

      My tabby decided she wanted a warm spot to nap. Pretty typical cat, right?
      We had not put the lid down on the pizza box. I don’t really need to spell out what happened next, so I?
      Turns out, she dislikes the flavor of pizza so much she refused to clean herself. She also does not like human baths. Maybe don’t lie on my pizza next time, baby.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Warn people not to have a mouthful of beverage before relating that story! Too funny! And what a mess for you to deal with.

    16. Effie*

      My friend has two kittens and a dog. She bought the kittens a new bed, and the dog stole it. She then bought a bigger bed for the dog so the kittens could have their bed back, and the kittens claimed it. It’s adorable to see a medium-sized dog jammed into a small bed, looking reproachfully at the two kittens curled head-to-toe in a bed that’s two big for them.

    17. allathian*

      No pets, but the squirrels are chasing each other in the trees on our property and on the fence that runs between our lot and the little wood next door.

  23. Meh*

    Perm Help
    I’m looking for a hair dresser in the DMV region (I’m happy to drive a few hours) that does perms. Good ones, not the 1980s poodle thing my mom gave me.

    I have straight heavy hair and I long for short bouncy curls.

    Bonus if you know their IG account so I can see pics.

    1. There’s more to the US than the east coast*

      You want to get your hair cut near the Department of Motor Vehicles? Asking for a West Coast friend

      1. Meh*

        Oh gosh. Thank you for the laugh. Yes. DC/Delaware/Maryland/Virginia.

        I was hoping someone would have a recommendation. I want a change.

        Ideally cut 8 inches, give it some curls, and bleach it all silver.

  24. Bibliovore*

    My husband died last Sunday morning of a heart attack in his sleep sometime between 4 and 6 am according to the EMS/ME (I walked our 9 month old puppy at 4 and went in to wake hime at 6 15.)
    He was 71 years old and healthy enough for his age. (his Dr. was stunned and shocked, and these things happen) The funeral is tomorrow.
    I know some on the blog have experience in the matters of grief and grieving and death.
    Mr. Bibliovore often said to me when I was perseverating about something, “why don’t you ask your on-line friends.”

    So here I am-
    Advice to the newly widowed please?-
    The only practical advice is to get over 30 death certificates.
    Do I cancel his credit cards right away?
    His health insurance? Do I need to not do that incase there are outstanding bills?
    He had long-term disability- I can cancel that right? Its super expensive and they tried to cancel it on us 3 times this past year for no reason.
    What do I do about relatives who are assuming they have a “right” to his stuff? I found his brother going through his desk the afternoon the day he died. Yes we have wills and if he pre-deceases me his stuff is my stuff. (thank you Gold Digger) (one of his siblings asked me to give them “Mr. B’s” car this week.) Language to respond to this stuff without alienating his family. We have no kids.
    People keep asking what they can do. I have no idea.
    I alternate between “everybody get out of my house and where the f is everybody”
    Advice please. Books or blogs to read that might help.
    Grateful that this didn’t happen at the height of the pandemic and we are having a small funeral indoors/ with masks and safe.
    Grateful that people who are vaccinated can be in my house after without masks.

    How do I stop crying hysterically? (I think this scaring the puppy)

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      Oh my gosh. I’m so very, very sorry for your loss.

      The most powerful book on loss I’ve read was It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay by Megan Devine. It treats grief as it should be–a normal part of life and love–rather than focusing on how to get over it and back to “normal” life.

      For dealing with grabby people who want stuff, something like “If Mr Bibliovore wanted you to have it, I’ll make sure you get it.” Practice saying it to to yourself in the shower, in the mirror, until it feels normal and natural.

      People asking what they can do to help is infuriating and stressful, but would it help you to have a list of things they can do? (“Is there anything I can do to help?” “Yes, the lawn needs to be mowed/laundry to be done/I need groceries/walk the dog.”) Some people will balk at this because they want to appear helpful but don’t want to actually work at it. Other people will, I swear, show up and help til their fingers bleed. And it’s never the people you expect. Ask and see.

      Be gentle with yourself. Cry when you need to. Drink water. Eat something when you can manage to. Rest. I’m so sorry.

    2. WS*

      I’m so sorry. I work with a lot of elderly people, so this scenario comes up a lot, though usually a bit later than 71. The best thing you can do right now is give yourself time. No immediate decisions, there’s no rush. Crying will happen, make sure you rehydrate afterwards because it’s stressful on your body!

      Tell everyone who wants things that you can’t give anything to anyone until his will is finalized with the lawyers (this is true and also this buys you time to think about your future). As to things like credit cards and insurance, they will have people on staff who are experienced with this. When you have copies of the death certificate, start calling (or emailing if you can’t manage calling) and ask them what the procedure is.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I don’t have any advice, unfortunately. A friend of mine suddenly lost her husband to a stroke around the same age. It’s been about a year a half, I believe, and she’s seeing a grief counselor, which seems to be going well.

      As for people thinking they can just start rifling through your husband’s things, death seems to bring out the worse in people and they tend to think they suddenly have a right to all of it since it’s “not needed/being used by him anymore.” I went through it in 2017 when my dad died and we had to sell my parents’ house. One of my sisters was living there and seemed to think she had a right to basically every single thing in the house. It wasn’t our childhood home, so the “things” were furnishings, decor, kitchen stuff, lawn equipment, etc. (She even thought that an air compressor my husband lent to my dad years ago was hers to keep because my husband hadn’t yet asked for it back in those years. Don’t even get me started on that one…) Thing is, she was moving to a place half the size and couldn’t seem to understand she didn’t have room for even half the stuff in their house. But she felt she had a right to all of it and wanted it all just because. Thankfully our oldest sister set her straight and whenever the other one said, “I want X,” Oldest said, “OK, so do the other three of us. Here are three items all of us want. Pick the ONE you want and live with it.” It worked. We went through many rounds of this and it made it easier.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        My MIL has names written on the bottom of every desirable thing she owns for this very reason! I thought it was weird but seeing what happened when her ex – her childrens’ father – died, I absolutely get it.

        I’m sorry for your – and for everyone’s – loss.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Thank you! Yes, my husband’s aunt did that, too. I remember meeting her for the first time and she told me to go around her house and put my name on anything I liked–she had a ton of beautiful antique music boxes and figurines. I didn’t because it felt really odd at the time, but I can now see the value in it.

      2. Sleepless*

        My BIL just got in my MIL’s car and drove it home shortly after the funeral. “Well, yeah, that was always the plan, she was about to sign it over to me.” Then dropped a bunch of big fat hints about how he was also entitled to more than 50% of the proceeds of the sale of her house, but stonewalls us any time we ask him why, and the estate is just sitting there undistributed, while we are about to start paying my daughter’s college tuition. My MIL hated disharmony of any kind, and I can just imagine what she would say about all this.

    4. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Oh no, I am so sorry! Grief is so, so hard. Internet hugs from me if you want them!

      The only relevant advice I can give is about people who offer to help: you do not ever have to accept any help from anyone if you do not want to (hello drama dynamics in family Teatime!), but if you can figure out any concrete things that you can just hand off to someone else, that can be really useful to you. They don’t have to be relevant, it can be stuff like “please come over and vacuum
      and wash the dishes while I call the bank” or “pick up X at the grocery store” or “please find the customer service process for X” or anything. Also, feel free to deputize information sharing: “I’m overwhelmed, please talk to Yperson about funeral plans” or whatever. I’m always one of those people who would drop anything to help, but I don’t want to presume or butt in…and sometimes I don’t know what to do.

      My hugs and condolences.

      1. Bibliovore*

        you made me smile. We don’t have any family heirlooms. So there isn’t anything that “was his dad’s and should remain in the family” I really wish someone would volunteer to take away his 50 volumes of Library of America that he was going to ‘read when he retires’ (not)

        1. Teatime is Goodtime*

          That is a PERFECT “please do this” job! “Dear Friend/Family person, I have this thing that I want to get rid of, would you figure out what to do with it? I don’t care where it goes, I just don’t want to see it again!” But there’s no rush on that sort of thing.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Yes! Next time someone asks what they can do, tell them to take away the 50 volumes. Or if five people ask, tell each of them to take away 10.

    5. Ali G*

      I am so very sorry for your loss. Do you have a trusted friend or relative that you can deputize for some of this stuff? You don’t have to anything regarding your husband’s credit cards, etc. right away. Give yourself time.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Bibliovore.

      One tip I’ve heard that really resonates with me is, when you’re asked by someone if they can help, try “I’m overwhelmed right now, please ask me again in (one/two weeks/months)”, whenever you think you might be ready to think about it. Basically, it gives you time to figure out something you can offload, and ideally you could go to those people later when you find something, but this way they get to keep offering and you don’t have to keep track of who has offered.

      I have more experience with estates than I’d like, but it’s all from my parents’ generation, and I know spouses are treated very different legally. I’d also say that, if you are up to talking on the phone, any customer service rep who has been on the job more than a few weeks has probably dealt with the passing of a customer before, and I found them almost all very helpful and sympathetic.

    7. Anona*

      I’m so sorry!!!

      The author of the get your shit together website (I think her name is Chanel Reynolds?) went through a similar sudden death of her husband. Her website is mainly aimed at estate planning, which wouldn’t be helpful, but she does have resource page where she links to grief resources that she found helpful. https://getyourshittogether.org/recommends/

    8. NoRegularPosterName*

      I’m so very sorry for your loss. My husband died very suddenly at home in a similar manner eight years ago. I have four adult children so they were able to help with some of the immediate needs like calls, arranging the funeral (thank you, DIL!), groceries, etc. This while they were also dealing with their own grief. The tears will come, for a long time & unexpectedly. Don’t let any of the relatives take anything until the will is sorted out & don’t worry about their feelings right now. And don’t worry about notifying insurance, creditors, etc. yet. It took me a while to handle all of that and that didn’t cause any problems. Again, my deepest sympathies for your loss & may his memory be for a blessing.

    9. GoryDetails*

      I’m so sorry! I can’t add much to the advice so far, but would emphasize deputizing a friend or two to help manage the “what can I do” aspect of things.

      When my father died, Mom had a sign for the door to indicate whether she was up for drop-ins or not; their community was very good about helping when needed but also about leaving Mom in privacy. (They were intentionally low-tech; if your people are more social-media-active, maybe toggle a “would love to hear from you”/”am resting now, please contact me later” message of some kind?)

      1. the cat's ass*

        I am so so sorry for your unexpected loss.
        Getting the 20-30 death certificates is the only thing you should do quickly because you’ll need them for everything else. Otherwise, do not feel the need to be hurried by anyone. Have kleenex nearby at all times, because sadness and tears are erratic. There may be days where you blow through a bunch of necessary stuff (banks, wills, insurance, etc) and days when you sleep for 12 hours and only get up to walk the dog.
        People will step up, frequently not who you expected, and feel free to delegate things to them like laundry, food, dog walking, etc. The best ones will just do it without asking. Bouncing back and forth between wanting people around and wanting them all out of your house seen pretty normal, and anyone with a heart who is focused on your feelings will understand that. When my BIL died, we spent lot of time w/SIL, whose code phrase for needing to be alone was, ‘I feel a shove coming on.’ It was actually funny and that’s when i’d go do the groceries and hubs would walk the dogs.
        Re family phrasing in reference to their awful behavior: “now is not a good time.” “I need to be alone right now.’ “We can discuss that later.”
        Hugs from the Internet if you’d like them.

    10. Sparkles McFadden*

      I am so, so sorry.

      – Yes, you will need at least 20 death certificates, though some places actually return them. Some credit card companies don’t require a death certificate to close an account like they used to. I was told the expense of checking wasn’t worth it and they could just reopen an account if there was problem.

      – Contact SSA, though most funeral homes will do this for you. It will take a three months for them to make the appropriate changes to your benefits if necessary. They may claw back money and return it later. They will also give you the $255 death benefit.

      – Did your husband have a pension? If so, contact the payer so they can make the adjustments to survivor benefits. Pensions will claw back money as well so the sooner this is done the better.

      – Are you under the same health insurance plan? Contact them to make changes and discuss what needs to happen if there are later bills. My experience with my parents’ deaths is that the bills get paid even after the premiums stop as they go by the date of service.

      – Do you live in a home where both names are on the title? If so, you won’t need to go through the expense of a title change (though please check with an attorney on this).

      – Is your name on the utility accounts? If not, make that switch. You don’t want to have an emergency related to something like your water heater and find out you’re not “an authorized user” who can OK repairs.

      – Is your name on the title to the car(s)? There are specific forms for the title transfer to the spouse of the deceased. Please be aware that, depending on where you live, if there is more than one car to switch over to you, they will not let you switch both at the same time as, in some places, more than one car needs to be handled via probate and trying to change more than one car will flag that. If you do each car separately, the DMV will be OK with that. (Note: The clerk at the DMV actually told me this when I was helping my mom get my dad’s cars in her name. When my mom was fading, she gave the cars to me so I wouldn’t have to deal with that later.)

      – Report the death to your DMV. Identity thieves look for recent deaths and try to open new lines of credit using the deceased person driver’s license info.

      – Are the credit cards a joint account? You don’t want to leave yourself without a credit card. The big providers (MasterCard, Discover) are quick to make changes.

      – Are the bank accounts joint accounts? In any case, notify the banks of course.

      – Are there any stocks, investment accounts? There’s specific paperwork to make changes to joint ownership.

      – Are you inheriting an IRA? If so, there are three different choices when inheriting a spouse’s IRA: You can become the owner, you can transfer it into your IRA or you can be treated as a beneficiary. There are rules about distributions and how long you need to hold the inherited IRA so contact you accountant. There’s info on the IRS website as well.

      – Do you have a safe deposit box? If so, clear it out before you notify the bank of your husband’s death. Depending on where you live, even if you are joint owner of the safe deposit box, the bank will lock the box and require a court order for you to open it. This is because the bank cannot be sure the joint owner is entitled to take the things in the box. This happened after my dad died and I had to put the will through probate just for my mom to get her things out of the box.

      – The grabby relative are the worst. One of my in-laws tried to pull a family painting off of the wall of my parents house two days after we buried my mom. I was living at the house because I was taking care of my mother, and SIL did this right in front of me. All you can say is “I need to go through everything to see what he wanted everyone to have” and “It’s too soon for me to make any changes.” Most grabby people never go away and they never stop asking for things so you don’t have to worry about offending them…but don’t worry about that right now. Stick with the bland responses for as long as you can. You’ll know when to be more forceful.

      – Helpful people just go ahead and help. Unhelpful people ask “What can I do?” If you actually ask one of those people to do something, most of them won’t want to do it. You can ask for help with yardwork or gutter cleaning or maybe a trip to the grocery store.

      – I wish I had suggestions on grief. I tried grief counseling once and I ended up yelling at the counselor because she kept using stock phrases instead of actually listening to me. I admit that the yelling was pretty cathartic.

      Be kind to yourself and give yourself a lot of time.

      1. Bibliovore*

        OMG! This is exactly what I needed. Good orderly direction. The in-law who wanted the car, just offered thier adult son (with known drug and alcohol problems) to come over to do a house thing. I had my brother say no, we weren’t available. They called and said they would come when we weren’t there. I heard my brother say no on the phone- they weren’t taking no for an answer. I shouted to the next room JUST TELL THEM No. WTF?

      2. Bibliovore*

        ok so they just showed up at the house and my brother is dealing with them. I am weeping and keening and I just don’t want them here. My endlessly patient brother has put them to work. He just came in and said he was sending one of the adult children to pick up my prescription. He said its good for them to help. I gave in. I get that they are mourning too.

        1. ronda*

          It sounds like your brother is a big help in this time. Thanks to him. And if you have any other trusted person of strong will in protecting you, bring them in too to give him some help.

          crying all the time is a perfect reaction to your situation. Feel how you feel and try to move forward with the things you must do. Drop the things you can drop.

          This reminded me of the below linked forum post… It is mostly about the financial aspects rather than the interpersonal ones. I think the response from notpatient on page 2 was most helpful, but many other are also very helpful.
          I do think hiring an estate attorney would be very helpful when you are ready. They specialize in this and the details that are specific to your state/area. They are a very valuable resource.

        2. Sparkles McFadden*

          Let your brother be the gatekeeper. He’s probably really happy to help you in this way and he can give the other people assignments to keep them away from you.

          Yes, others are mourning but you really don’t have to worry about them. That sounds harsh but you will have enough on your plate without having people barging in under guise of helping.

      3. Pocket Mouse*

        My advice:
        -Get The Executor’s Guide by NOLO.
        -Like Sparkles McFadden said, do as much as you can *before* letting companies know he passed, e.g. “Hi, we need to cancel such-and-such… here’s the account info.”
        -Don’t cancel his cell phone yet, you may need it for TFA.
        -Enlist help, including help you pay for.
        -Expect to receive mail for him for a long, long time. Open everything that isn’t obviously junk.
        -Travel points may be transferable to you, and do check unclaimed dot org in all the states he’s lived to see if there were funds due him.

        I’m so sorry. Wishing you the best.

        1. Bibliovore*

          Thank you this is great.
          My name is on the car titles, my name is on the house deed, my name is on all of the checking and money accounts.
          He was very, very organized and even though he was he official bill payer, I am not ignorant of our finances.
          A lawyer friend who was his college roomate has offered to help and I am sure he can point me to an estate lawyer. Our estate lawyer retired last year.

          He had an outstanding credit from delta from a Covid cancelled trip to Bologna- we splurged on business class. I am dreading dealing with that but I know he would be super pissed if the credit didn’t transfer to me.

    11. Oxford Comma*

      I am so very sorry for your loss. May his memory be a blessing.

      Practical advice: I’m a big believer in lists. And I think that might help you here. Because there’s stuff that you need to do first and that’s important and then there are the things that can wait (gym memberships, magazines).

      If you haven’t called your lawyer, you might want to do that right off. Based on what happened when my dad died, with the understanding that I am not an expert in this area and that my experience is specific to the States, you probably want to contact the places where there are benefits (insurance, pensions, etc). If you’re the executrix, I think you have to have an account for the estate and the lawyer should be able to advise you there.

      Some places took copies of death certificates, others needed the originals.

      As far as taking people up on offers of help. One thing that I know my mom appreciated was that people made or ordered meals for her. Helping with yard work etc. Would something like that help?

      With the family members, can you tell them you need to process what’s going on before you even begin to look at giving them mementos?

      I am going to make a big plug for grief counseling. This was enormously helpful for me when my dad died. I held it together until after the funeral and then I fell apart. It was really helpful to be able to go to a dedicated professional where the session was just about me and it was a safe space to fall apart.

      Wishing you all the best.

    12. Lifelong student*

      The advice I think is best is- make no major decisions for at least 6 months. No moving house, buying anything big, throwing anything away, giving anything away. If you need an excuse, blame the attorney. Actually, if all assets and liabilities are joint or in POD accounts, you may not need an attorney. 30 death certificates is a lot unless you have multiple insurance policies of financial institutions.
      Oh and one that many people do not think of- but put on your list for later- consult well before the end of the calendar year with your tax advisor. Your tax status will change next year and there are tax favorable things you may want to do before the end of this year.

    13. Texan In Exile*

      Oh Bibliovore, how horribly sad. What an awful shock. I am so, so sorry. I am sending you a big hug.

      Texan In Exile, formerly known as the Golddigger

      PS I don’t know if this might be useful advice, but if it’s in the budget, maybe have a lawyer and an accountant take care of the details. Primo/Mr T is still settling Sly and Doris’ estate – he doesn’t want to spend estate money, but all that means is he is pulling his hair out dealing with the courts and the IRS.

      (And yes, this could have been done in under a year, probably, but he is a procrastinator. All that means is that he has now done five times as much work with taxes, etc, than he would have had to otherwise.)

    14. Anono-me*

      Sympathy (and if welcome, virtual hugs, good thoughts and/or prayers).

      Do you have a no nonsense, tells it like it is, never intimidated friend who knew and liked your husband wasn’t particularly close to him? Could you ask that friend to run interference on the vulture behavior? Some people are true vultures and sometimes people get fixated on this physical thing that they think will ‘magically ‘ make everything better. Either way they are behaving poorly and hurting you. Your friend isn’t going to feel the same pain and later you can walk back anything they said that you want to. You could also respond “I just am not ready to deal with this now; thank you for understanding. ”

      As far as the financial issues; I also would suggest that you lean on your estate lawyer and/or financial planner, that is their job. If you have a friend that is good at this type of thing; you might want to ask if they can accompany you as back up. You may want to check to see if your husband’s long term care had any spouse coverage or transfer/default to spouse provisions prior to cancelling. Some of the early policies were very generous and had some quirky benefits (That the insurance company hoped your husband would cancel, leads me to think he had a very good older policy. )

      Take a multivitamin, drink lots of water.
      Try to keep oatmeal cookies and hand fruit like bananas, grapes or apples in the house for when you need to eat, but don’t want to deal with it.

      Next time a dog person type friend offers to help, maybe ask them to walk puppy a short distance with you and puppy and later to take puppy out for some play time when you have an appointment. It will do you both good to get outside for a little bit and keep your blood moving, but don’t push yourself. Puppy probably will benefit from some additional play time for the stress, but it will be nice not to be apart more than already necessary.

      Remember most cultures had/have a formal grieving period of a year because that is usually about how long it takes people to get to where they are at a point of new equilibrium and balance. (IME-The pain never goes a way, but it does evolve.)

    15. Bibliovore*

      AND despite a firm NO. The Inlaws just showed up and my house! I just cant!. My brother is dealing with them. I took our private papers upstairs and am going to shower now and put away laundry.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Thousands of blessings for your brother. I’m getting angry on your behalf about the Inlaws.
        Don’t let them into your house under any circumstances. (If, heaven forbid, they have keys, change the locks.) Maybe talk with your brother about deputizing one or more other Guardian Angels. I don’t know your Inlaws but I don’t trust them not to go sniffing around for easy-to-grab items or private information if they’re in your home.

        1. Bibliovore*

          he thinks well of everyone. I am going to have the cousins who know the In-laws deal with them.

          1. Anono-me*

            I hate to say this, but your in laws seem to have boundary issues. Can your brother or someone else trusted and handy rekey the locks? Maybe look into the ones that use a security code?

      2. Aphrodite*

        This is worrisome. I’d make sure your home is never left without someone trustworthy in it. Not even for a walk around the block. Consider asking your brother to talk to the neighbors to see if they will keep a close eye on your house for unwanted visitors. That they keep showing up shows determination to get in and probably clean you out.

        Also, please have freezes put on your husband’s (and yours) credit reports at Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You can ask about a fraud alert too. This is to keep your credit safe from scammers.

    16. Jean (just Jean)*

      My condolences! Sudden death is very hard for the people left behind. May you be surrounded by lots of supportive people like your brother. Take care of yourself; give yourself time, space, and permission to get enough sleep, solitude or good-quality company (with people who don’t make unreasonable demands) or whatever else you need.

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have no advice only sympathy. And virtual hugs from an internet stranger if you want them.

    18. fposte*

      Oh, no, Bibliovore, I’m so sorry. I think you’re getting great advice here already. I just want you to be as kind to yourself as possible and take time to make any big decisions.

    19. OyHiOh*

      When to cancel things – I found it easiest to cancel things as the next billing cycle came due. True, this meant having “my person has died” conversations over and over for about a month and a half, but then it was done.

      I hated hearing open-ended “if you need anything, let me know” comments. This might be a personal peeve, but I always felt like there were things I could reasonably ask some people to do, that would probably not be reasonable of others. So I had people write down what sorts of things they’d be willing/able to help out with. The person who is free in the middle of the day to rescue me from laundry and washing dishes, the people free in the evening to sit and eat something so it would occur to my brain that I should eat too, etc. The person who will come at any hour to walk the puppy because you’re just done.

      There’s a few five year studies on health outcomes among widows because the stress of having your world turned inside out and upside down can make you more susceptible to strokes, heart attacks, and a bunch of other things. The widows with the best five year outcomes were those who walked every day. You won’t be able to at first. At first, there will be days and times when you’re completely immobile. But you have the puppy and puppies need walks, so walk when you can, as much as you and the puppy are able to tolerate.

      Grief therapy. I put this off for six months, had a suicidal ideation crisis, and then finally got myself in to see someone. I should have done it months earlier, she helped so much with the grief itself, anger, anxiety, “WHAT DO I DO NOW?!?!?!,” just everything.

      1. Maxie's Mommy*

        “Lawyer says I can’t give anything away yet because of probate inventory”. People showed up at my mom’s place with shopping bags, like it was a garage sale. Daughter and I had to take things out of their hands. You can also tell them that some items may need to be appraised, you’ll ask your lawyer about that, etc. I made a point of writing down their requests as though I was going to ask the attorney. When I heard “I know she wanted me to have her ruby ring” (which I knew was a lie) I would say “Well, a LOT of her friends admired that ring”. My lawyer I could ask the pushy demanders “do you have anything in writing from Mom?” and that really shut people down. My mom dies suddenly in an accident, Lauren and I are in shock from having to identify her, and this is what we dealt with.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          That sounds awful. I hope you also had good, constructively supportive people around you.

    20. Still*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I have no advice except for one idea, regarding the people who offer their help.

      Can you have a piece of paper / a whiteboard / a note on your phone where you put all the tasks that come up and just seem completely overwhelming right now? Or just a to-do list with all the things that need to get done. Grocery shopping, playing with the puppy, mowing the lawn, googling something you need to know, making dinner, getting the car checked… Any time you think of a necessary task that is hard and overwhelming, put in on the list, and if somebody offers their help, you can show them the list and say “if you could get any one of these off my plate, it would be a great help”.

      That way then can decide for themselves if there is something they would be comfortable doing, and you might actually get some relief.

      It might not work for you and that’s completely okay. I just know how much it helps when I’m overwhelmed and someone close to me takes something off my to-do list. Posts that parcel that needs sending. Does the dishes. Checks how to go through an online process. It can really help me breathe easier.

      1. Jackalope*

        I want to second this one. Any time you think of something that needs to be done, write it down somewhere, preferably the same spot when you can find it(rather than five different lists scattered throughout the house). Any time someone offers to help, give them a thing to do from the list. My experience is that people want to help but aren’t always sure what to do, but if you give them something specific then they will generally jump in.

        And keep in mind too that they can also help with tasks that still need to involve you. For example, if you have to call Social Security and three credit card companies and wherever else, maybe you could designate a friend to call and wait on hold for you, and then hand you the phone when they answer. That way you can get things done while the hold time is going on and then spend the minimum time needed actually on the phone talking to whoever.

        1. Bibliovore*

          I was the difficult phone call person for my friend whose husband who died 8 years ago. Odd that it never occurred to ask someone to do that for me. thank god for wfh. Perfect whiteboard for notes already here.

          1. Jackalope*

            Something else I just thought of – get someone else to sort through his clothes if you can. (Unless it’s a thing you really want to do yourself.) When my stepmother died my sister and I (after getting Dad’s approval of course!) went through all of her clothes the week before the funeral. All three of us picked a few things for souvenirs, and then I took the rest and donated them. I hadn’t been sure about doing that (and was very careful about asking since I didn’t know if Dad would be ready), but I think it was helpful for him to have the closet cleared out and not have to spend a few months working his way up to it while staring at a closet full of her clothes. Also, if there’s anything else that you *know* you won’t want to keep (say, equipment from a hobby of his that you didn’t share), that could be another place to let someone else take it on as a project. This may not be relevant or helpful but I thought I’d mention it since I know it helped my dad.

    21. violet04*

      I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss. My Dad passed away in his sleep last November. It was also unexpected. You’ve gotten lots of good advice already. At some point once things are more settled, you’ll want to update your will and beneficiaries. My deepest condolences to you and family.

    22. HigherEdAdminista*

      I am so sorry for your loss.

      I have never been married, but a friend lost her spouse in a tragic accident at a young age about two years and I just want to validate you about your concern about people feeling entitled to his stuff. You are not a bad person if you need to draw boundaries with some of these folks. Her in-laws developed a lot of hostility and entitlement with her right away. They wanted to constantly be in her space, and they wanted to override decisions her husband had made when he was alive (i.e.: put family members he had cut off for abuse into contact with his child, for example). They wanted money that had been raised for her. And while they did all this, they insulted her constantly and implied terrible things about her. It was overwhelming to her. She tried to accommodate them at first in honor of her husband, but she quickly realized they weren’t even giving her a space to figure out what she needed. So the most practical advice is don’t be afraid to draw a boundary and don’t think you are being a bad person for needing time and space to figure out what requests are appropriate and which ones are not. Many people will be supportive and helpful, but there are always some who see these situations as a chance for their own gain, sadly.

      I hope you will be surrounded with all the love and support you need.

    23. Wishing You Well*

      I am so sorry for your loss. Please be kind to yourself.
      I have a couple of pieces of advice. During the funeral, lock up your house very securely and have a trusted, assertive person house-sit while you’re gone. Tell them not to let anyone in until you’re back. I myself have seen funeral goers leave early and enter the house while everyone else was still at the funeral. What they did in the house I never found out.
      Also, don’t cancel joint credit cards just yet. You can cancel cards in his name only, provided that leaves you with credit cards you can use. Some credit companies used to cancel the deceased’s credit cards, then deny the widow a new one. I hope this isn’t still the case but it could be.
      Hang in there. Sending healing thoughts.

    24. Nerdgal*

      I’m so sorry. Here is some practical advice.
      1. Be sure a trusted person stays at your house during the funeral.
      2. Change all your locks and access codes.
      3. Temporarily freeze both his and your credit reports.
      4. Lock down his social media accounts, if any.

    25. WellRed*

      Don’t make any immediate decisions. You don’t need 30 death certificates as so much is done online these days. Let people bring you easy food or groceries. They want to help. Let them. Let them do the things. I’m so sorry.

    26. Katefish*

      I’m so, so sorry for your loss. While I have nothing for the grief itself, sadly, my one practical tip relates to any mortgages he may have had outstanding. If you’re already on the loan, you can send a copy of the death certificate to the bank. If you’re not already on the loan and are in the US, all banks have a process for qualifying to take over the loan/discuss details – contact the mortgage company and ask about becoming a successor-in-interest. You don’t have to take over the loan unless you want to, but by qualifying as a successor-in-interest, the bank will talk with you. I don’t know if this is helpful or relevant, but if it is I wanted to share. Sending love from this internet stranger.

    27. *daha**

      Say “I’m sorry, I can’t give anything away. It is all arranged for.” If asked for details say, “I’m sorry. I’m not at liberty to discuss it.” Repeat over and over as necessary.

      Insurance coverage follows the day of service. Bills that come in later should be covered by the insurance that was in force on day of service, even though you dropped coverage after service.

      Things you can ask for: “Come visit with me on this specific day/time.” “Can you clean this room for me, I’m overwhelmed right now.” “Can you puppysit on day/time so I can go away by myself for a few hours?” “Can you pay back that money he lent you?” “Will you mow the lawn or trim the hedge?”

      1. Bibliovore*

        Can you pay the money back he lent you. HAHA. That’s not going to happen. Writing that one. off. But may still be resentful.

        1. tiasp*

          On the other hand, if you say it anyway, it might weed out some undesirables from inflicting themselves on you.

    28. RosyGlasses*

      I am so sorry for your loss. Sending you so much love and compassion from an internet stranger – <3

    29. WoodswomanWrites*

      I am so sorry for this sad news. While I have not lost a spouse myself, I was the designated support person for two widows and want to reiterate from the perspective what others have said about how helpful it is to have someone who can manage things for you and give you the space you need to care for yourself. I’m glad to hear your brother is helping, and perhaps there are others you could ask for comparable help.

      For one friend, I was the communicator with everyone else. She gave me a list of email addresses and then would tell me what she needed, and I would share it widely so she didn’t have to communicate over and over. For another friend, her spouse was well-known and when he died suddenly, there was a huge turnout for his memorial. She asked me to come early and just be her support person to help her emotionally prepare for and later wrap up the day. She also designated a couple family members to stay close to her throughout the event, and step in to keep people away from her that weren’t close friends.

      I know it was a huge load off the mind of these two women knowing that someone else was managing these things for them. This gave them the room they needed for their own grieving. One of them found enormous comfort from joining a support group of others who were grieving for a spouse.

      1. Roja*

        Seconding this. Pick one person and unload whatever you have in your brain on them. Bills coming up, things you need from the store, daily chores that can be outsourced. Then they can divvy those up to other helpful people so it all gets done and you don’t have to think about it past the initial conversation.

    30. Mimmy*

      I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t offer any useful advice but I do like the idea of having one person help you manage things both practically and emotionally. I know that’s what I would want.

      Sending hugs and condolences.

    31. a lot*

      If you have the means a death doula can be a huge help for the practical matters, helping to reinforce boundaries with others, organizing your community to help, and holding emotional space for you. Find someone in your area through National End of Life Doula Alliance nedalliance.org, Google, or call a local nonprofit hospice for resources.

    32. SnappinTerrapin*

      I’m sorry for your loss. I hope you do have family and friends who can be sensitive to both your need to be comforted and your need to be alone in your own head and heart. I was blessed to have friends who were patient enough to wait quietly when I was overcome by grief, and then to allow me to resume conversations as though the interruption was perfectly normal, which, of course, it was.

      For several days, my goal was to live a few minutes at a time before yielding to uncontrollable grief, and then to pick up where I left off for a few minutes more. Over time, the semblance of normalcy began to last a little longer. Years later, I still have my moments, as does my current wife over losing her first husband. We have learned what works for us to support each other at those times, which will be different for different people. She benefited from a widowed persons’ group. I benefited from concentrating on my work routine.

      As for people wanting your husband’s things – procrastination is your friend. “I’m not ready to think about what to keep and what to give away yet, it’s all too emotional. Let’s talk about this later, please.” If they push after that, let them know you need some time to grieve, and show them to the door. It took a long time for me to feel up to sorting through my wife’s things.

      You look like you have a good handle on the practical issues.

      I hope and pray you will have the support you need, not only in the coming days, but for the long term. Saying goodbye to a loved one – especially a spouse – is hard.

    33. Not So NewReader*

      Oh Bibliovore, I am saddened to hear this.
      Practical stuff:
      Death certificates. I bought 10 and had a couple left over. Ask people if they can take a photocopy instead of an original. Most places can. Keep DCs in your car (and lock the car). I drove around with some in the glove box for quite a while. It was nice not to have to run back home and get one.

      Grief brain. Most people hit brain voids while processing grief. Do things that might help yourself along. I bought a clip for my key ring. I clip my key ring to my purse when not in use. I know I am super prone to setting down my keys thoughtlessly so this is my response to my own absent-mindedness. I took my husband’s keys and set them up as my spare ring for when I lost my key ring. There was one point where I used his keys for two weeks- I could not find mine and I DID NOT care. Set yourself up so that small, important things are easier to keep track of.

      Grief brain makes it really easy not to care about important things. You have a good list here and you seem to be hitting many of the important things. I found it helpful to remind myself that in years to come, caring will come back, and I reminded me not to screw Future Me. I fought for months for my husband’s health insurance. (They had to cover me because of special circumstances.) I really did not care about it- because that was where things were at. NOW, I am so freakin’ glad I fought that fight.

      Life won’t be the same again. Please hang on to the thought that statement does NOT mean that life will be god-forsaken awful. For every AH you deal with, you will probably deal with 10 wonderful people. Focus on the wonderful people, feel their brotherly/sisterly love. And life should not be the same again, because if it were that would mean the husbands did not add to our lives. They did- and in a big way. If you decide to pack up his clothes and other things, remember you are NOT getting rid of HIM- it’s just things that’s all. He has forever changed the course of your life, impacted your thinking, caused you to grow and so on. These intangibles you get to KEEP forever. The clothes and what- not are secondary.

      If you don’t care what you eat or if you eat then use that as an excuse to down plenty of fresh veggies and fruits. “I don’t care if I eat or not, so I will graze on this salad while, I read/watch tv/whatever.” The nutrition in your food will help your organs to function correctly and in turn help your mind to work better. If you can, maybe consider going to a nutritionist to look into B vitamins to protect your heart. A heart and vascular system that is well supported in turn mean the brain feels well supported and it’s easier to think things through. This is an actionable activity to help with the tears that look more like waterfalls. (BTDT. It does stop but not as soon as we would like but grief burns through vitamins and minerals at an fast clip. Looking at what is going into your body can help you for years to come.)

      Greedy relatives. Tell them there is a will and you will be following the will and state laws regarding how to handle the estate. If you have a lawyer you do business with, you can even tell them to call your lawyer if they get to be too much.
      In NY, small estates just roll to the surviving spouse. The reason for this it to prevent probate court from jamming up worse than it is already. So bank accounts under $30K just roll to the surviving spouse. Check with the lawyer, but credit cards that are in HIS name only MIGHT not have to be paid because he died. My friend wrote off a bunch of debt that way. (Her situation was baaaaddd with debt because of him.)

      Cash in any life insurance he had, asap. For me, I cashed it in and then I was frugal as heck. (I even went as far as asking people to take copies of death certs, hey they were $10 each!!!) Life insurance people are VERY kind. I wanted to call mine back just to chat with them, they were that nice. (I didn’t call them, though!)

      I see the comments about “is there anything I can do to help?”. My suggestion is to choose wisely. Maybe it is not fair but there are some people who can say that and they are not offensive. These are the people who would go out and clean the dog run or whatever sucky task without blinking an eye. They deliver on what they are offering. Personally, I am very visual, I am more apt to make a specific offer if I see you or your home. Beyond that I can make good guesses and that’s it. Go individual by individual.

      All of you GO, NOW! vs Where’d they all go??? Less people is easier. I make out best with one or two people, but this is me normally anyway. Grief tends to magnify everything- if you are not a crowd person you won’t suddenly become one now. You may be the type of person who gets more out of 1-on-1’s. This is fine and will work out well. You don’t need a slew of people, if you do not want them.

      When my husband died, my aunt “scolded” me. She said to me, “You no longer have the luxury of saying NO to help. You are going through a life changing event and you cannot do it alone.” I agree. But I would also add, life is a give and a take. Right now, you will need to take. But in the future, it will be your turn to help some one else. So take now and later you can figure out how to pay it forward or backward.

      The “busyness” will calm down, it tapers off. I find that for smaller estates at the 9 month mark I was mostly done. But even getting a week or two out, I could start to see small gains in how much there was to handle.

      I have often thought, if we could stop loving them then we could stop grieving their passing. Grief and love can go hand-in-hand. Grief changes, the grief becomes less raw. It won’t always look like it does right now. It’s fine to take quiet time. It’s not fine to allow yourself to fall into isolation. IF the best you can do is visit with a friend or loved on once a week for an hour, then do that. Don’t make yourself walk alone, it’s too freakin’ big to go it alone. Keep posting here and asking questions. Lots of good folks right here.

      I know that it hurts like hell, but I also know that time/life/people will be kind.
      I am very sorry for your loss.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Thank you. You really nailed how I feel.
        Today is the funeral. The weather is thunder stormy. I have achey bones. The dog is in heat and acting weird anyway. (yes she is looking for him, restless, and barky like she wants to go out and then all leashed up, door open, and she turns into a rock, nope not going out now.)
        My stomach is in knots. Oh and I just can’t stop crying. Slept from 4:30 to 6:15 on the floor of the dog pen with the puppy.

        my big plan is after when people come to the house that I excuse myself and not care what anyone thinks.

    34. Melody Pond*

      Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss, Bibliovore!

      Regarding this one:

      His health insurance? Do I need to not do that incase there are outstanding bills?

      I worked in the billing & eligibility department for a health insurer (in the US) for a couple years, so I have a bit of insight here. Disclaimer – I worked only on employer group insurance, and I realize he may not have had this type of health insurance, but I think what I’m about to describe would likely be pretty similar to, for example, Medicare coverage as well.

      So your husband’s official coverage would most likely end effective May 31st, because that is the last day of the month in which the event of death occurred. The insurance carrier probably isn’t going to care when you notify them or if you ask them for a different cancellation date – they’d likely ask for his date of death, and then they’d say, nope, his coverage ends based on the date of death (again, most likely May 31st).

      Payment of claims on any outstanding medical bills would be based on the date that medical services were provided to him, which ought to be well prior to May 31st. For example, here’s a hypothetical timeline of events:

      – April 25th: Mr. Bibliovore sees a doctor or receives some other services that are covered by his insurance (and for some random reason, processing the claim for this at the insurance company takes a really long time)
      – May 31st: Mr. Bibliovore’s last day of health insurance coverage
      – June 8th: the claim is processed at the health insurance company; they look and see that Mr. Bibliovore had active coverage on April 25th (the date of services), therefore it is covered under the policy he had active at the time. And they pay the doctor or service provider accordingly, just like normal.

      Hopefully this makes sense. Based on where I worked, it’s also not excessively urgent that you reach out to the health insurance company immediately. We would regularly receive retroactive requests for cancellations, and for us, 90 days was considered the “normal” window. So, at the company I worked at, if you were to notify us sometime in August of Mr. Bibliovore’s date of death back in May, that would’ve been well within our normal standards of operation.

      Again, so sorry for your loss!

    35. Maxie's Mommy*

      “Lawyer says I can’t give anything away yet because of probate inventory”. People showed up at my mom’s place with shopping bags, like it was a garage sale. Daughter and I had to take things out of their hands. You can also tell them that some items may need to be appraised, you’ll ask your lawyer about that, etc. I made a point of writing down their requests as though I was going to ask the attorney. When I heard “I know she wanted me to have her ruby ring” (which I knew was a lie) I would say “Well, a LOT of her friends admired that ring”. My lawyer I could ask the pushy demanders “do you have anything in writing from Mom?” and that really shut people down. My mom dies suddenly in an accident, Lauren and I are in shock from having to identify her, and this is what we dealt with. Please rest and take care of yourself.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Well played. I am very sorry for your loss and the fact that you had such a horrid experience afterward.
        I hope life is extraordinarily kind to you from here on.

    36. Antony J Crowley*

      I’m so very sorry for your loss. What a terrible shock.

      The book that helped me when dealing with grief is called “you’ll get over it: the rage of bereavement” by Virginia Ironside. I didn’t understand how much of my grief was anger until I read it.

      Thinking of you. I’m glad you have your brother to help support you.

    37. Healthcare Worker*

      I’m so very sorry for your loss. I have not lost a spouse but when my father-in-law died his sister-in-law was asking for his belongings almost before the funeral. I was furious for my husband having to deal with that. We ignored, ignored, ignored! May your memories bring comfort to you.

    38. Mary Lynne*

      I am so so sorry! My husband passed almost 5 years ago at age 52, after year and a half of cancer. But grief is grief.
      1. You only need five or six death certificates, because most places will take a copies. Do keep track of it though! Years from now you will need to put your hands on it
      2. Health insurance should cover everything while it was in effect, so even if bills show up later it should cover the period of time he was covered. Double check with your agency but it should be fine to cancel that. Ditto with long-term disability, unless you are on that policy
      3. The grief process is not linear. There will be better days and don’t feel guilty about that, and then worst days again and don’t worry what’s wrong with you. I’ve had to learn to trust myself – if I get emotional and things are hard That means something in me knows I can handle a little bit of it. If I shut down again that means that’s what I need to do, and don’t go digging in my feelings with a pick ax.
      Lots of other commenters have commented on other things I would’ve said. Have grace with yourself!

    39. Jay*

      I’m so sorry. I didn’t read the rest of the replies so this may be repeating something someone else said. Pretty much every hospice program in the US, UK, and Canada offers bereavement services that are open to the community whether or not your family was using hospice services. When you can – and it may be a while – you can check out the resources and look for a group (if you’re a group person) or call the bereavement counselor and talk.

      Crying hysterically is absolutely appropriate and also very dehydrating. Make sure you’re drinking enough water (everything counts as water as long as it doesn’t have alcohol in it).

      If you have a truly trusted friend, can you ask them to deal with the in-laws and everyone else for a while? When anyone asks you anything, tell them they can get in touch with Friend, who is coordinating everything. Friend can then say “yes, Bibliovore could use some groceries and dog food” or “Sorry, Bibliovore can’t do anything with Husband’s clothes right now.”

      Whether or not you alienate your husband’s family by setting reasonable boundaries is out of your control. They will react as they react. Take care of yourself. Gentle hugs if you want them.

    40. I take tea*

      I’m so very sorry for your loss.

      Things that helped my mother (and us children) was an official check list online, put into columns of Do now, Do within XX, and Do sometime. Lots of good suggestions for that in this thread. A list is something tangible, and it gives some structure to the chaos. Just focus on the “must be done now” and take your time with the rest. Grief makes one exhausted.

      If you can delegate stuff, do that. A friend handed me her mother’s member and library cards and asked me to just inform all places, and also return all the books. It helps to look through the wallet to remember what should / might be notified.

      Concrete things to ask for: food and drink. Stuff you can eat easily, when it’s hard to swallow. Smoothies, soup, porridge. Maybe drinks with electrolytes/vitamins in them. I very fondly remember the neighbour that invited us to dinner, because it got us out of the house for a while and it turned into a sort of memorial dinner, in a nice way, but it’s not for everybody.

    41. TvH*

      Oh, I am so very sorry for your loss, what an awful shock.

      If you have close friends you trust, enlist their aid in dealing with snoopy relatives who are not helping one bit.

      I’m so sorry.

    42. ECHM*

      I am so sorry for your loss ((hug))!

      A simple thing your friends can do to help is assisting with the writing of thank you notes to people who gave memorial donations, etc.

  25. KELLS*

    Anyone have a limit on what they’d spend on a new dog?

    With the surge in demands, adopting from a rescue is years away for us. Our current dogs are in their senior years and I want to bring a new dog in before they pass… so the next year or so.

    We originally got them several years ago from 2 different families looking to rehome them, practically free. That doesn’t happen anymore around here. So we realized a breeder was our only option.

    I originally wanted to spend maybe $1200 but the lowest I could find was a golden retriever breeder for $1800 with a 3 year minimum waiting list. We did more research into other options and realized the going rate for almost every puppy was $2600.

    Research eventually found us the “perfect” mixed breed for our family- a Bernedoodle. Problem is the price tag is at least $4500 at all breeders.

    I figured that if we’ll be spending $2600 on a breed we aren’t 100% sure on, why not go all the way for the breed we really want? Last week I got confirmation we were added to their fall litter waiting list and slapped down a $500 deposit.

    Now I’m freaking out. We’d barely be able to pull off $4500 for ANYTHING. It delays our plans to be debt free and I’ll need to use my LOC for vaccines and neutering. We also just needed to drop $1000 on a mattress so now I’ll need to use more credit to cover the puppy.

    I’m seriously considering just forfeiting my deposit or hoping there is a delay that triggers a refund option. I think a dog at that price is a rich persons dogs, not for middle class relying in credit.

    Just looking for feedback I guess on if I made an impulsive decision or if a larger price is worth it for a new family member (we’ll never have children, so this is it for us)

    1. WS*

      I put down a deposit for a kitten of a specific breed, then shortly afterwards adopted two adult cats in need of rehoming (and they’re lovely!) The breeder was perfectly happy to put the deposit on hold until we’re ready. You will be much happier with a dog of the breed you want, even if it’s delayed a year to get your credit/saving where you want it to be. $4500 over the life of a dog is really not that much – it’s just a big hit right now!

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m hoping to get a puppy this summer and they’re about 3k. I would not pay more than 3k for a dog and I certainly wouldn’t pay more than that for a mixed breed dog. The dog I’m getting comes from a champion line of well bred titled dogs and the breeder does extensive health testing to ensure the puppies are healthy and have the best temperament possible. Doodle breeders are well known to be unethical and charge outrageous prices for dogs that have no health testing, and minimal effort put into temperament in the dog world. If you really want a bernedoodle I’d wait until you can afford that price tag along with the likely high vet bills that come with owning a dog who may have structural issues

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Oh and be able to afford the regular grooming that comes with owning a poodle mix. Sorry if that sounds harsh, I work for a dog trainer and we see so many doodles who aren’t cared for properly, aren’t well bred and have so many temperament and health issues. This is coming from someone with a mixed breed dog who has major structural and temperament issues, so I’ve been there and let me tell you- it stinks!

        1. Ali G*

          I agree with both of your points 100%. Doodles are not breeds. There are no standards, just people putting two dogs together to make a mix they sell for stupidly high prices.
          KELLS, this doesn’t seem to be the dog for you. If you need to take out credit (!!!) for a dog it’s not right. What will you do if this dog, or more likely one of your older dogs, needs medical care? My dog is 14+ and I’ve already spent $1300 on him this year and I am looking at another $2k in the next month for a procedure he needs. How will that work for you when you can’t even afford to bring the dog home? You need to think clearly about the tradeoffs of puppy now v. long term needs of your family.

      2. MissGirl*

        First, not all doodle breeders are unethical and many breeders do extensive health testing. If that breed isn’t for you then don’t buy one.

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          Ok? I never said all doodle breeders but the vast majority don’t health test or title their dogs. Doodles aren’t a breed because they’re not bred to a standard and they don’t breed “true” to any standard. When you mix a dog with another dog you don’t know what you’ll get out. The coat, temperament, size etc is all unpredictable hence them not being a breed. I’m saying I wouldn’t pay that much for dog that’s wholly unpredictable

          1. Dog and Cat Fosterer*

            I don’t care about titles, but I agree that a lot of dog sellers don’t bother to do health tests on their dogs. I would want a breeder to test the parents (I think it is at two years old?) for hip dysplasia and all the other issues typical to a breed. In speaking with rescues, it seems that there is a higher prevalence of oodle mixes who are surrendered as puppies with broken bones, and the owners can’t afford the $2k+ surgeries and follow-ups that are often needed for pups with growing bones.

            My main criticism of the mixes is that people expect to get the best of both breeds, without understanding that they can get the worst. A bernador (bernese labrador) can have a berner look with short fur (less work!) and the low-anxiety of a lab, or they could have a long-fur black dog that has higher-anxiety in new situations. Or an oodle that isn’t at all hypoallergenic. I have heard about mixes of differently sized dogs that had bone problems and difficulty walking.

            I work with a lot of mutts and am very fond of them, but haven’t yet understood the desire to pay a lot more money for more problems.

            My one bit of advice would be to get pet insurance. (Although I have seen comments from people in the veterinary community where they wonder if pet insurance will start charging more for some breed mixes because they are a much bigger risk, although those were more related to mixes of smush-nosed dogs like french bulldogs).

        2. Chaordic One*

          One thing I’ve noticed in my area is that there seem to be a lot of doodles for sale at comparatively low prices (like under $500) that are all about a year old or so. These seem to be the doodles that did not get the desired hypo-allergic poodle fur, but instead more closely resemble their non-poodle parent. If you don’t have any allergy issues, I’m sure they’d be fine pets and companion animals.

    3. Ins mom*

      No, no! You must not tie up your line of credit on a $4800 dog! I’m in the Midwest and there are rescues that will arrange transport for rehoming. Take a deep breath and consider other options.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I paid $300 for a mutt from a rescue and I thought that was way too high.

        For me, I’d say check your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance. Find out what breeds won’t be covered, or what breeds trigger a price increase.

        After that there are some breeds I just will not deal with. For the most part, how the dog turns out is up to the owner. Teach it to be kind, be loving and be gentle with others. They learn this best when they are treated this way. For the most part (not every single time but most of the time) a dog that is treated gently, lovingly, and in a fair manner grows up to be a wonderful companion and a best friend.

    4. lapgiraffe*

      Oooof. That’s a lot of money. And dogs are like homes, there’s always maintenance costs beyond the sticker price with training and medical and all the things they’ll invariably chew up at first (hopefully just at first…). If it would have to go on a credit card I’m pretty sure someone like Suze Orman would be yelling “don’t do that!”

      Have you considered “putting it out there” that you’re looking to add a new pup? Like posting on Facebook or emailing a group of friends and family, that way if any of the free/cheaper options pop up then people have it in the back of their heads to call you up.

      I’d also put your name on a doggie rescue, set it and forget it, worst that could happen is they reach out in three years and you have to say sorry. You never know…

      Lastly, why rush adding a new dog? I don’t know your stage of life but honestly it might be nice to be dog free for a few months to a year, travel a bit more or to different places than you could before. And care for senior dogs can be draining on all fronts so not having additional responsibilities might come in handy.

    5. Anona*

      I first thought this was a question about how much I’d spend on vet care. $4500 seems so high to me, especially since it sounds like it would be on a credit card. And like with any new dog, there will be additional adjustment costs, be they medical or property destruction related.

      You mention that rescues are impossible – that’s been my experience here too. What about an animal shelter or humane society? Or a rescue in a more rural area? Our last dog, we drove a couple hours away to a tiny, home run rescue in a rural area where there isn’t as much adoption demand.

    6. Meh*

      I’d ask if they would refund the deposit. Be honest about your means.

      Several mentioned rescues. I work with one that doesn’t have a waiting list based on time. We match the dogs with families based on temperament, existing dogs, etc. This means our placements are much better fits then you’re next, here’s a dog. Working with a rescue as a foster home also usually gives you dibbs on the dog in case you fall in love. #fosterfail

      I also second going dog free for a bit. It’s a nice relief to be able to not plan your days/ vacations/ life around your pets. That said I have two, so I don’t have that freedom.

    7. twocents*

      I guess my concern for you is that a dog from a breeder is going to have a lot of upfront expenses that a dog from a shelter (depending on your state) isn’t going to have. In my state, rescues are not allowed to adopt out animals that have not been spayed/neutered. And the biggest shelters also include: microchipping, testing for a variety of common parasites (fleas, ticks, heartworm, fecal worms) and treatment if any is found, dental surgery if necessary, and a free first vet visit with one of their participating vets.

      If the just the cost of the dog is a stretch for your finances, then I’m worried about you affording all the necessary surgeries, tests, shots, etc. for a new puppy from your vet. I’d also research common breed health problems; you might get lucky and not encounter any of them, but you may also end up like my friend who had dang near every single problem in the first six months of her puppy’s life.

      1. CSmithy*

        This happened to me! My puppy needed $4500 knee surgery, and now she needs $80 allergy shots once a month. This is all came up in the first year of her life. The unanticipated health issues really are so important to keep in mind, and if you’re $4500 in debt for the initial adoption fee, that’s money you don’t have for the care they need.

        I did wait a long time to find a pup from a rescue, but it was muuuch more affordable than a breeder.

    8. AcademiaNut*

      It sounds like you can, just barely, afford the dog, but can’t actually afford the expenses that go with it, so I wouldn’t do it.

      It occurs to me that there will likely be a bunch of dogs up for rehoming when things open up more – people who got a pandemic puppy, then find out that they can’t handle a dog when they head back to the office, and the kids to school, and the activities start back up. So a bit of patience could solve that problem, particularly if you’re willing and able to do some retraining/socializing on young dogs. You could pay for a lot of vet care and some consultations with a trainer for less than you’re thinking of spending on the dog itself.

      1. BRR*

        To your first paragraph, I read once “there’s a difference between having the money and being able to afford something” and while OP has the money (barely?) for the dog, it sounds like they can’t afford it.

      2. Max Kitty*

        And to the second point, I’ve already seen articles about pandemic dogs coming back to shelters as people go back to work.

        1. Reba*

          And as rent and utility assistance dries up, unemployment is curtailed or ended, and the eviction moratorium may be toast.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Those articles are misleading and based on like… a shelter here or there. Not national trends. Plus a lot of time it’s related to people being evicted or otherwise financially unable to keep a pet.

          1. MissGirl*

            Yeah, I’m really doubtful we’ll see a trend. A few here and there, sure, but not a large massive trend. I got a puppy during COVID but that wasn’t until I was sure we weren’t going back full time to the office. And, even if we did, I’d find a way to make it work. People lives have shifted permanently.

          2. Dog and Cat Fosterer*

            Many of the rescues in my area have found that the demand from adopters has dropped in the past couple months, so someone looking to adopt now has a better chance of getting a rescue dog or cat. Instead of 50 people applying for a puppy, it is more likely to be 10, and adult dogs who need an experienced owner are needing some time before finding the right home. There are always people who have to give up their animal to a rescue, and there are more of them now and fewer adopters. Maybe not in your town, but definitely in mine. Those that I have fostered have separation anxiety, and are surrendered because their owners are unable to care for them, either too busy or a family crisis.

            Also, a lot of rescuers are expecting people who bought pandemic puppies and didn’t spend time training them to give them up to shelters are rescues as people return to work. In our situation it is something that dog rescues are working hard to address with adopters, and it doesn’t often happen with cats thankfully (they may get stressed when left alone, but they don’t tend to eat away large portions of drywall, bark so loudly that the neighbors complain, or injure themselves), but it is definitely something that rescues have seen in the past year and I think it will be more prevalent in the next year. Separation anxiety has always been a reason for owner surrender, and I can see how it will be much more prevalent.

          3. Reba*

            Yeah, the NYTimes had an explainer on this yesterday! The article is titled “No, People Are Not Returning Pandemic Dogs in Droves.”

            It points out that while shelters may be taking in more animals than this time last year, it’s still actually below the pre-pandemic surrender rate.

    9. BRR*

      First, what’s your motivation for bringing in a new dog before your current dogs pass? I imagine the energy might be stressful for your current dogs.

      From what you’ve written, it sounds like you can’t afford a dog from a breeder and possibly not at all. I’d first focus on building an emergency fund, ideally it would cover at least six months of expenses. I don’t know what the current adoption situation is but I would definitely focus on expanding your search vs using a breeder (for every usual reason but especially for cost).

    10. Reba*

      Delays your plans to eliminate your debt??? Putting the puppy on credit? Oh my. Setting aside for a moment the question of the reasonableness of the price itself, this is just not prudent. I would ask for your money back — or maybe to be put on a future litter list — because you’re not ready. You don’t have the money (you have access to credit) and you definitely don’t have the money for care! What happens when this dog eats something it shouldn’t?

      To your points that rescues and informal rehoming isn’t happening. I know times are very tight for rescues. Trust me, I know! I applied for almost 20 dogs! BUT we did eventually get our dog in October, from a friend of a friend who was in a tight spot. These situations are still out there! Please tap into your network and be patient.

      Bernadoodles like other doodles are so trendy right now, this is another reason to be skeptical. I know you’ve done research but if you decide to continue with this breeder, continue to be cautious with them too. Ask a lot of questions and ask if you can talk to other owners. (I mean, just look at the price they can ask! Of course lots of breeders will want to get in on that. I don’t know if they are “rich people dogs” but breeders will charge the price they can get.)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This, for sure. Such a bad bad bad idea. And assuming that a “bernadoodle” (which IS NOT A DOG BREED and you should not be buying mutts from breeders) is part Bernese mountain dog – Berns are known for shortish life spans and health problems, even without doing dumb things like eating a chicken carcass and getting bones stuck in their throat or something.

        1. Reba*

          Yes, I think part of the point is to get the Bernese tri-color. There is one in my neighborhood, very handsome, I get the appeal!

          I’m definitely not a purist who is against mixing breeds in principle (in my view, past breeds were made for various purposes, if today’s purpose is to have a goofy-looking family dog, what’s the difference really?). People do seem to have wishful thinking about mixes somehow cancelling out health problems of the parents or only combining the “good” traits of the parents. I think it’s just good to tread carefully because where there is a high demand/high price for an animal, people who are not really on the up and up will be getting into the game.

    11. MissGirl*

      I once laughed at someone when they said I might have to pay $500 for a puppy. No thank you, I thought. My Gunny Girl cost me $1800 (sheepadoodle). So I totally understand paying more than you intended. The best time for me to get one was last fall and the pickings were slim and I also was hesitant about a dog with behavior issues since I have zero experience with inside dogs. I grew up with farm dogs who lived outside.

      I gave it a lot of thought and then saw her on a Thursday and brought her home on a Saturday. I would advise what others are saying about NOT going into debt for a puppy. You said the Bernedoodle is best for your family but think about this, a few years ago that mix didn’t exist so what would’ve been best then?

      Also it’s not the initial cost that gets you—it’s everything else. My girl got parvo two days after I brought her home. Luckily, the breeder refunded me the money and I used that for vet bills. (They’d done at home vaccinations, which aren’t as good.) She also got giardia at daycare, which cost $700 because I used the emergency vet. I love my dog but I waited a very long time to figure out the best thing and have the money for her.

    12. Puppy!*

      Get your money back if you can. A reputable breeder WILL give you the money back. There are puppies yet.
      Plan for your puppy solvently. Do NOT put anything to do with a puppy on a credit card.
      The right dog will be there for you at the right time. Bernedoodle is not a breed.
      Do the research. visit different dogs. get references for the breeder. meet the adult dogs, meet dogs that have been bred by the breeder. A good breeder will be happy to give you all this information.
      Know your own family. a long haired dog will need daily combing. yes I said daily.
      create a spending plan.
      not only for buying the dog but for obedience/good citizen training, vet and health , grooming fees (don’t forget tips) toys, crates, quality food.
      For scale- I waited on a list for the right dog for 2 years- the dog was $2,200 in October.

    13. chopsticks*

      Bernedoodles from a reputable breeder are lovely dogs, I have known many. I considered the bernedoodles when looking for a pup but went with a goldendoodle because he was available and I couldn’t wait any longer :). Most good breeders will hold your deposit until you’re ready because they absolutely want the pups to go to homes that are ready and equipped to take good care of them; this sounds like it might be a good option if you have your heart set on the breed and/or the breeder won’t refund your deposit. I follow a great bernedoodle breeder on IG who does not refund deposits but they never expire. My guess is they will have a long waitlist (this was true even before the pandemic), so you could wait until fall and see how you’re feeling financially and then ask to switch to another litter if you’re still feeling like you’re having to stretch and pay for the puppy on credit. You’ve been slightly impulsive in putting the deposit down, but you don’t have to feel rushed to make a decision immediately! Reach out to the breeder and discuss your options.

      Only you can decide if the larger price is worth it for the puppy – everyone is going to have different comfort levels. So one person saying they’d never spend more than $3K should have no bearing on your decision. I do agree that putting the puppy and puppy expenses on credit is probably not a great idea, but again, I think you probably have some options here that could work for you.

      FWIW we love our doodle – he brings so much joy with his goofy personality and I love that he doesn’t really shed. He has been worth every penny. But this really comes down to what you feel comfortable spending.

    14. Usually Lurking*

      Unless you have your heart set on a puppy, I’d look more at rescues if I were in your situation. If you’re willing to drive look outside major urban areas, there are still a ton of unwanted dogs around. I got my dog for “free” last fall – we found him running around the sage brush and a neighbor said he’d been dumped by his previous owner, he wasn’t chipped, and we got no response to Found Dog signs (I put free in quotations because after paying for all the shots, microchipping, and spay, it would have been cheaper for me to adopt a dog from the pound). My friend who works in the area we found the dog in keeps finding other strays there and taking them to the nearest humane society, apparently it’s a common dumping ground for unwanted dogs.

      Of course adopting an adult dog is a totally different experience than getting a puppy, it’s easier in some ways, harder in others, etc. But you probably already know this. Also, if you are low income, a lot of humane societies will do spay/neuter and shots for a discount, so that might be worth looking in to as well.

      However if you do decide to stick with the breeder, can you ask to wait until several litters later until you have the money saved up? That will also give you a chance to have a deeper relationship with the breeder and might help them get you a puppy that’s a better fit for you. I would check and make sure they are a responsible breeder that’s doing genetic health testing on their adults and is socializing the puppies and not having too many litters at once. It’d be a lot cheaper in the long run to eat the deposit than to get an under socialized, genetically unhealthy dog (doodle mixes can be pretty inbred and have all sorts of health problems later in life).

    15. pancakes*

      Have you tried rescueme dot org? That’s how I got my Scottish Fold cat. You can set an email alert for any breed or type of animal you want.

    16. Wishing You Well*

      Don’t get a dog right now.
      For one thing, your elder dog might not want to deal with a puppy in its last years and a new puppy might not prevent the grief you’re anticipating.
      The biggest reason, though, is you don’t have enough money for a dog. You should have thousands in savings for vet bills AFTER you’ve paid cash for the dog. Accidents, illnesses and genetic problems are common. The neighbor’s elderly Bernese’s joint replacement cost thousands.
      Our pets were free but we spent big bucks on them at the vet. The yearly checkups and vaccines were hundreds but the illnesses were thousands of dollars. You don’t want to be putting your dog down because you can’t afford to treat it.
      There will always be puppies and dogs to adopt. Always. Please delay this purchase.

    17. Can't Sit Still*

      Shelters and rescues are going to be flooded with dogs and puppies soon. Many locations severely curtailed their free and low cost spay/neuter operations during the pandemic, so there has been, and will continue to be for a while, a surge in puppies and kittens, in addition to all the people returning their pandemic dogs.

      Also, please remember that what’s typical for a breed doesn’t mean that will be the personality and characteristics of a specific animal. For example, we had a Labrador Retriever that hated getting her feet wet (forget swimming) and refused to ever retrieve anything. She was a smart and hilarious dog, but definitely didn’t match what everyone thinks of when they think of a lab!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My lab mix hates water and can’t fetch to save her life, haha.

    18. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Honestly, if you’re willing to deal with 1-2yr old dogs that need training and some behavior modification because their prior owners adopted a dog during covid and probably shouldn’t have but are basically very good dogs…. you’ll be fine. Shelters are expecting to get a lot of surrenders as people go back into the office. You’ll have options. Give it a few months.

      Also, there’s no such thing as a “perfect” breed. Breeds have traits. Individuals may or may not have those traits. I have a Siamese mix cat, and you wouldn’t know it based on her behavior.

    19. Smol Book Wizard*

      Personally, if you’re really into the nonshedding concept, I would venture to say just to get a poodle. I would never have thought of myself as a poodle owner, but I’ve been happy these last years with my miniature poodle.

      I’m definitely not one of those people who says NEVER BREEDERS – I’m currently on a deposit list for a 2k+ German Shepherd puppy, after all – but I would really caution against paying upwards of 4k for a dog, especially if you don’t get to see the parents and/or the breeder’s facility. Does this Bernedoodle breeder allow visits? Lots of breeders say lots of things, but the proof is in what their dogs are like, and with a designer breed I wouldn’t feel as certain that the personality, energy level, etc. would breed true.

      Lastly, if you want a purebred dog and/or one whose background is more known, I’d suggest picking a couple breeds you feel good about and talking to some local breeders about whether they have retired breeding dogs or not-quite-“perfect” show prospects whose ears are 1/4inch too big, or something like that. These will almost certainly be cheaper and probably have some good training gone into them already.

      Best wishes!

    20. 0870GS*

      I’d think about disregarding my advice…

      We adopted our dog for free, and it was a great decision. I have no hard data on this, but the last 5 dogs I’ve been involved with have all been rescues, and I think the smart ones know they’ve been rescued, or understand the before/after of their lives.
      We adopted because we didn’t need any particular breed, and because it seemed to be the ethical think to do.

      On the other hand we spent a very large chunk of money to ship her to Australia with us, so make of that what you will.

    21. Jules the 3rd*

      We paid $1k for a whippet puppy; her parents and two siblings are show dogs, so she’s got a good pedigree (and is a delightful dog). I wouldn’t go any higher, though.

      You might consider a greyhound, they’re probably going to need a lot of rescuing as the racing ends.

  26. Anna*

    Dear Allison, thank you so much for having the weekend thread. This one of the best forum for discussion online I have found .

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thank you for starting this thread! I agree. It provides an element of ongoing community in my life.
      I hope Alison will see the rest of my comment also because it goes into the question of how best to combine the threads of online and tangible-physical-world life.

      1) Last week there was a brief discussion–5-6 comments at most–re how curation of the weekend discussion sometimes cuts into Alison’s own away-from-work time. This was not at all a scientific poll, but consensus among those particular commenters seemed to be that Alison should not feel obliged to sacrifice her own recharging time; if she takes a weekend off every so often, we would miss the conversation but we would understand her need for a break.

      2) I sometimes wonder whether it would be a good or bad idea to meet the people behind the blog names. (Such announcements should be decided only by each individual commenter.)

      3) If I’m ever incapacitated or dispatched from this world, should I designated a trusted person to announce the end of my comments at AAM? Would this be conceited, or helpful to the community? Should that announcement include my real-world name?

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        I don’t have any answers except that we should not make impulse decisions for ourselves, and (obviously) it is immoral to make the decision for anyone else. This blog isn’t quite as personal as, say, Captain Awkward or various threads on reddit or Dan Savage (actually, I don’t read Dan Savage so I don’t even know if he has comments)…but nobody else has the right to announce that I am really Amelia Earhart, vanished aviator; or George Washington, 1st U.S. president; or Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, long long ago; or Groucho Marx, American actor and comedian. Just kidding–I promise I am none of these people!

        Not trying to be insultingly obvious, but people read this blog from all over the world. Groucho Marx, who died in 1977, may not be a household word in everyone’s home.

      2. fposte*

        There have been some AAM commentators who have met up. I’m mad I missed the Chicago meetup.

        In my Letter of Instruction for when I’m dead, I have banking, etc. info but also username info for AAM and another forum or two that should be notified. I was incredibly touched when GeekChic’s husband came on to tell us of her passing.

        1. Mimmy*

          By the way, this reminds me of a fan-run message board for a particular singer I used to be active on. When this singer was touring more often, the board was very active and very engaging; we all felt like we knew each other even though many never met in person. Twice, we’ve had a member pass away suddenly at a young age–one of them being the board’s founder–and everyone posted in droves to express sadness. I used to want some of that same connection from the AAM community, but I understand the need to be anonymous these days.

      3. the cat's ass*

        This is so lovely and sensible! I’m always grateful when a family member comes on any social platform to notify us what happened to a favorite but absent commentator.

        I would love live regional meet ups when things are safer.

        I second the gratitude to Alison for running the weekend discussions as well.

      4. RagingADHD*

        As a person who was entrusted to announce someone’s death to a variety of tangentially-connected people, I think you can stop worrying about this task.

        Some of the tangentially-connected people tried to pretend they remembered who the decedent was, out of politeness. Most of them didn’t bother pretending.

        All it did was make me feel ridiculous and make some polite people feel vaguely guilty. They didn’t actually care, but it made them feel like they were suppsed to. Which was, of course, irrational because the deceased was a complete stranger to them.

        Knowing the decedent as I did, I still couldn’t figure out whether she had an inflated sense of her own importance, or was just tragically bereft of real connections in her life. Probably a bit of both.

        1. twocents*

          I don’t think this is universally true. There was a man in my video game Discord who had been an active part of the community for probably a decade, and I think the majority of the discord group appreciated learning when he had unexpectedly passed. Many people chose to send money to the charity of his family’s choice in his name. I think it’s a little insulting to say that online communities just pretend to know who the decedents are; it’s been years and I still see things that make me think, “Nick would have liked that.”

          1. RagingADHD*

            You can be insulted if you want, it still happened. They weren’t even all online, it was IRL too.

            Very few things are universally true, it doesn’t mean they are never true.

            1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

              Perhaps the ones who knew her expressed their grief to others who also knew her, rather than to someone who seemed to take the responsibility of posting the information grudgingly. I’m on a few forums where the death of any member affects many others members, and we try to comfort any loved ones who post the information and also each other. I’ll try to remember when I die not to make the person I entrust with spreading the word feel ridiculous, and remind them I did not die at them.

              1. RagingADHD*

                You have entirely misunderstood what I said. I didn’t feel at all ridiculous or begrudging about doing it. I assumed everyone on the list of who to notify was there for a good reason, and took it very seriously.

                I felt pretty foolish having to go to great lengths to try to explain who I was talking about, to people who clearly had no clue at all.

                By all means choose your trusted person carefully. But if you have second thoughts about whether a person or group belongs on your notification list, those second thoughts are probably correct.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Definitely, it’s appreciated. A long-time member of my chat room died recently; she was just shy of her 70th birthday and not in good health. :( Thanks to expansion from there to Facebook, we were notified by her sister. Had this not been the case, we would have wondered what happened to her—people come and people go, but she was a regular. We have a tradition there of requesting music on someones’ birthday from their favorites list (it’s a soundtrack site) and that’s what we did when her birthday came around shortly after.

            If the group you belong to is fairly close-knit, I would include that in your notification plans. There are real people on the other end of the intertubes and we do worry. I’ve been part of that chat for 18 years; it’s the home page in my browser. My instructions include letting everyone in my online communities know if something happens to me, plus which accounts to delete.

      5. WoodswomanWrites*

        I was contemplating a gathering for AAM members in my metro area and was going to write Alison for her opinion first, and then the pandemic happened. Perhaps I will have that motivation to do so again down the road.

      6. Mimmy*

        1) When the Weekend thread was late last weekend, I asked about it in the Friday Open Thread and Alison admitted in her response that she wasn’t sure she was up for moderating on the weekends. I agree that Alison should feel free to allow herself some downtime, she writes for this blog and other media outlets all. the. time. That said, I do appreciate the Weekend threads and everything else Alison does. I don’t post much anymore but I do still read fairly often.

        2) There was a time when I wanted to meet other AAM readers, but there really aren’t that many in/near my neck of the woods.

        3) That’s a tricky one. Maybe for a longtime regular poster that people recognize, as in fposte’s example below.

      7. Not So NewReader*

        1) I remember when the open forum became a regular thing, everybody seemed pretty excited about being able to talk about stuff. But everything in life is a gift. This forum is a gift. The responses from participants is a gift. No one “has to” do anything. It’s a gift. I feel that I have been most fortunate to find this place on the net. I know it has changed me, I see it one the faces of younger people, “Oh, you KNOW what blah-blah-blah is? How do you know????” lol.

        2) I’d meet up with people, but I am not much on traveling any more. IF there were a meet-up in my area then I would definitely go. I think we’d be surprised to see how ordinary all of us are, this thought kind of amuses me.

        3)Not conceited at all. Some folks would appreciate knowing that. I don’t see a need for a real world name, if someone doesn’t want to do that. For me, I’d probably regress to the online name anyway. I probably would not retain the real name. But again, no one has to do anything. And I am sure a good number of people have just stopped posting and went back to life. So there is that, too.

      8. Potatoes gonna potate*

        For #3, I thought about it. I considered having my husband “announce.” The way I see it, if someone recognizes my name, that’s great. If not, oh well.

  27. Dwight Schrute*

    I played a new to me, fun card game the other week and I can’t find it in stores anymore as it’s an older game. The game was Labrynth, does anyone have suggestions on games that are similar that I could find more easily?


    1. Llellayena*

      Card game or board game with cards that you are dealt at the beginning? I know a Labyrinth board game with path tiles that you push to realign the paths to pick up treasures from cards you were dealt. I’ve seen that one in stores recently.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Ask an independent children’s toy store* or maybe someone is selling a set on eBay?

      In the DMV area: try Dream Wizards in Rockville, or Child’s Play, which has stores in DC and Rockville and Baltimore, MD.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Oh thank you! I have friends and family in that area so I may have them check it out for me

      2. Reba*

        Agree with this, game sales staff are usually amazing at recommendations! My local store here in DC is called, fittingly, Labyrinth.

        Also, Dwight if you look it up on Board Game Geek, they categorize games in several different ways so that might lead you to other titles based on similar mechanism (e.g. route building), similar themes, etc.

      3. The Dude Abides*

        Yes, yes, a thousand times yes, please support your friendly local game store.

        The pandemic has hit a lot of them HARD. Not being able to host events 6-7 nights a week has killed a lot of their business.

  28. Teapot Translator*

    Cycling shorts! Yay or nay?
    I ride my bike for pleasure. Because of my knee injury, I have to limit myself to one-hour rides for the moment, but I’d like to go up to two hours this summer. Is it worth it to get cycling shorts? Should I just get some comfortable sports pants?

    1. Ali G*

      I’m a woman and I use golf/tennis skorts. I tried regular shorts and they rode up and pants we too heavy/hot. If you don’t like or want skorts, they also make men’s cargo shorts with bike shorts inside. Bonus: pockets!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I don’t like shorts, and I don’t think I’d like skorts. So, for me, the options are pants, leggings or specialty shorts for riding IF, and only IF, they’re worth it.

    2. lapgiraffe*

      It depends on the bike, or essentially the saddle position, and the level of intensity in my opinion, but at the same time I think 2 hours is a long time in any saddle so I’d be in my chamois regardless. The only thing I hate about them is folding them to put away, perhaps it’s silly but they are like the fitted sheet of clothing and there’s just no way to fold them nicely. But I do find it makes for a more comfortable ride for me, so I deal with their unruly foldability for the benefits they provide downstairs.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Silly question about the chamois, I’m supposed to wear underwear underneath, right?
        Can I wear the chamois and then loose pants over them or does that defeat the purpose?

        1. Reba*

          I’m sure this is a personal preference thing, but the point of the chamois/pads is to reduce friction so it makes most sense to have them next to the skin.

          There is at least one brand that makes full length and capri leggings with the built in butt pads, Baleaf. They also have chamois that are like briefs/underwear, to use under clothes. Haven’t tried myself but maybe something like that would work for you?

        2. newbie*

          NO, don’t wear underwear with cycling shorts. EVER. I’m chafing at the mere thought of it.
          If you want to wear something over it, invest in purpose-made garments. There are tons of mountain bike shorts constructed with a liner/chamois and looser shorts. The difference between these and whatever you might cobble together from what you already have is seam placement. Makes all the difference.
          Lastly, make sure you have a saddle and bike that fit properly. Cycling isn’t fun if it’s painful.

          1. TechWorker*

            Lol, I have cycled for years, including multiple rides of 6+ hours in the saddle and I always wear normal pants under my cycle shorts. For some people it’s ok :p

            W.r.t whether you should try out cycle shorts when you go up to two hour rides – i would say in general yes but it depends slightly on what type of saddle you have. If you are cycling slowly-ish on a very padded saddle (say, designed for a sit up style town bike), you can probably manage without. Otherwise, cycle shorts are best. You can get ones that aren’t tight, that are longer, or that are meant to be worn as undershorts. The key is the butt padding :p it doesn’t really matter what the rest of the garment is.

        3. Aly_b*

          You can try it with underwear but I would give it a shot without, too. Without is the traditional method; it means the seams on the undies can’t chafe. The chamois is either all one piece or the seams are protected on the inside for comfort. Bike shorts under other pants should be do-able; or at least I’ve definitely done it plenty of times! I would say again at a certain length of ride you will start to feel the seams along your leg past the shorts, and just rubbing from the fabric. For me that’s a little past the 2 hour mark usually, so you’re probably fine. Give it a shot and see what works for you.

        4. LNLN*

          No, do not wear underwear! Just the bike shorts. If it is hot and you will be sweaty, sprinkle cornstarch into the crotch of the shorts to absorb moisture. It reduces the chafing.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I think they’re padded, yes. I’m not an expert and no one else around me goes on bike rides, so I have no idea. I’ve seen the word chamois on the websites I’ve looked at.

        1. Meh*

          Yes, that’s what they’re called. Just making the distinction you don’t mean simple spandex bike shorts. They (chamios) counter pressure on the bony bits of your pelvis. If you ride for any length if time you’ll feel a noticeable difference

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Yes if you ride a sporty bike. If you have a cruiser where you’re upright, you probably don’t need cycling shorts.

      1. Double A*

        YES getting a saddle actually designed for a woman makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE!!

        I am also a fan of padded bike shorts; you may not NEED them, but they are nice.

        1. newbie*

          The saddle that fits the individual is the right saddle, and that may or may not be a gender specific one. By sheer coincidence one of my cycling friends and ride the same road saddle. I am a 5’6″, 140 lb woman and he is a 6’2″, 210 pound man. Apparently our sit bones are the same even though we have nothing outwardly in common physically.

    4. Alaska_Blue*

      Yes to padded chamois bike shorts. There is a huge variety, from lightly padded shorts more aimed at spin class riders who don’t spend as much time in the saddle, to thick padded shorts for those riding 100+ miles in a day. I had not used padded shorts before a couple years ago, but they are worth it, as they make rides more pleasant. Especially those first few rides of the season. If you have women’s anatomy, I recommend getting shorts specifically for women, as the padding is arranged differently. No underwear with the shorts, which definitely felt weird at first. And also why it’s nice to have 2+ pairs. I rode recently with my padded shorts underneath yoga pants and it worked wonderfully.

      1. Alaska_Blue*

        And depending where you are in the world, the options available will be different. The UK has cute padded underwear whereas the US seems to go for padded shorts. Which in my opinion has to do with the kind of cycling people do: transportation versus exercise.

        1. TechWorker*

          ? I’m in the U.K. and whilst padded underwear is available (for women not sure ive ever seen it advertised for men) cycle shorts are totally standard. It could be true that we have more commute cyclists and therefore more clothing aimed at them, but amongst road cyclists there’s a lot of visible lycra :p

          1. Alaska_Blue*

            More the lack of “fun jaunt on a bike padded underwear” for women here in the US! It’s lycra or nothing :(

    5. mreasy*

      For long rides I will say, the padding cycling shorts can be a real game changer for the nether regions.

    6. Jackalope*

      100% padded bicycle shorts! Padded shorts ALL THE WAY. It’s so much nicer to have them! No underwear underneath but I’ve ridden in my regular work pants over top (I commute on my bike) and that was fine for me.

  29. Teapot Translator*

    What’s cooking? thread!
    What are you making this week?
    I made a dish that was not very good last week, so I’m trying to finish it (it’s slow going). One of the downsides of living alone. No one helps to eat the leftovers! The temperature is supposed to go down this week; I might be able to make stuff in the oven.

    1. Ali G*

      Oh no! I hate when that happens. Any chance of turning it into something else?
      Last night I made my quick chicken enchiladas. It’s a new fave. Tonight I am not sure the plan, but tomorrow is spicy shrimp bowls.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Can’t turn it into something else. I’ll just suffer through and once I can’t anymore, throw out the leftovers.
        What are spicy shrimp bowls? I like shrimps, but they have a lot salt (I don’t know why! Is it the sea that makes them salty?), and I have to watch out for added salt.

        1. Ali G*

          It’s basically an assembled bowl, so you can change it up anyway you want. Here is what I am doing:
          Base: quinoa cooked in chicken stock (my chicken stock is homemade without salt, but I think you can also get unsalted stock at the store)
          Sautéed shrimp (garlic, red pepper flakes)
          Avocado mango salsa (diced avocado and mango, lime juice shallot)
          Spicy bean sauce (refried beans and chili garlic sauce thinned with a little chicken stock)
          Crumbled feta

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ve found a lot of lousy stews get better cooked thick and wrapped in a soft taco with cheese.
          Hope that opens a possibility.

    2. Helvetica*

      re:leftovers – I also sometimes struggle with too much food but I’ve found that most things can be frozen! So I’ll often do that. The key is, of course, that you do have to eat them later so you’re not just filling the freezer but it helps at least somewhat.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I’m not freezing that one. It just means it will remain frozen until I decide to throw it out. :D

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ll admit it, I’m awful… now I’m curious what it was and how it went do awry.

    3. StellaBella*

      Right now I have just put on a pot of ingredients to make red sauce for pasta. Onion, garlic, basil, oregano, tomatoes, olive oil, basil, 1/4 cup red wine and tomato paste and water to simmer. Will use it for a lasagne tonight.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I put red wine in my meat sauce last week! It was the first time I tried it. I do think it made a difference.

    4. Meh*

      I keep telling myself to bake some bread to go with my meals, maybe I’ll do that today. I made a big pot of chicken noodles soup not remembering that I’m alone this week, so it’s just me eating soup for the next few days.

      A large batch of gyoza tomorrow, most of it will go into the freezer but I’ll cook some for dinner.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Mmm, gyoza. I used to order them in a Japanese restaurant as an appetizer. So good!

        1. Meh*

          The filing is really easy to make although it involves a lot of chopping. I’m going to cheat and use a food processor but I won’t be telling my Japanese grandmother ;)

    5. GoryDetails*

      Apparently mushrooms are in at Hello Fresh; three of my last six meals included mushrooms, including one for which I hadn’t noticed/expected them! (I like mushrooms but seldom buy them to cook with, so it was fun to have a variety of them over the week – some sauteed, some roasted with sweet potato.)

      Am also planning a ham-hocks-and-beans dish – more of a winter meal than an almost-summer one, but I just got some lovely heritage-variety dried beans from Rancho Gordo and can’t wait to try them.

    6. Charlotte Lucas*

      The temp is going up here. I plan to make skillet lasagna this week. Maybe some pasta with kale, too.

      This past week I made rhubarb-berry bread, egg rolls, fried rice, & steamed buns.

    7. Usually Lurking*

      I went morel hunting yesterday and found a decent amount – enough to make a couple of meals. Last night I threw some in to an asparagus/potato hash and ate the last moose steak that my old supervisor gave me when he got promoted and was cleaning out the fridge. It was an extremely locally sourced meal! Tonight I’m going to put the rest of the morels in a cream sauce and eat it over pasta, maybe also with the rest of the asparagus. Tomorrow, maybe do some more morel hunting? I’d like to get enough to dehydrate some to give to my friend in western Oregon who is always giving me chanterelles.

      1. pancakes*

        I saw a short video, local news from Indiana, I think, about a woman who found a 12” morel growing in her shed, and a couple of other giant ones around the back of it. I was so jealous! She said that the gentleman who’d previously lived in the house used to discard his “mushroom water” there and I’m curious as to what that means. I suppose it’s the water he used to clean his finds, with the idea being that some spores might make themselves at home?

        1. Joan Rivers*

          I bought a fresh pineapple and am thinking about upside down cake but haven’t gotten around to it.
          Any tips? I saw a recipe w/rum, that sounded good.

          1. pancakes*

            Felicity Cloake recently did pineapple upside down cake in her Guardian series, How to Make the Perfect . . . She compares and contrasts various recipes and tests several.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Probably! We have been known to push mushroom scraps and squidgy overlooked into new stumps …that’s the closest we’ve come to innoculating logs. It helps if you know what trees & conditions a mushroom species likes. For morels, 2 classic US partners are apple and elm… or rather ARE apple and WERE elm because we have so few now.

          1. pancakes*

            Ooh, I would definitely try that if I had outdoor space. I’ve grown blue oyster and lions mane mushrooms indoors from kits, but morels seem more advanced. I think they need a bed to grow out of rather than just an x shape cut into a bag of inoculated sawdust or whatnot.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Oh, dear!
      I remember my new-to-cooking friend who mistook “1 clove of garlic” to mean “1 HEAD of garlic” in a hamburger recipe! She tried to salvage it by adding more hamburger but had to throw it out in the end.
      I hope your leftovers aren’t that bad!

    9. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I just made an incredible sandwich – Bon Appetite’s Spiced Sweet Potato Sandwich with Feta. Its one of those the sum of the parts is way beyond what you think it could be recipes. Toasted ciabatta roll, garlic mayo, pickled beet and red onion slaw, minced mint, slab of feta, and roasted sweet potato slices (roasted with ancho pepper, cumin, hot smoky paprika). You could easily pay $10 or more for this at some hip cafe or something, but its super adaptable to what is available in the fridge.

      I only made it because we had a bunch of sweet potatoes to use up and this had five stars and its Saturday so why not? Its so good it absolutely made me forget about an otherwise really crappy week.

    10. TiffIf*

      Baking not cooking–I made macarons for the first time in probably 2 1/2 years yesterday—I think all but 1 of them cracked! clearly I am out of practice.

    11. Loves libraries*

      My nephew graduated high school yesterday so my sons in their 20’s came home. I’ve been cooking and doing lots more dishes but it’s fun. The best thing I made was the carnitas pork roast from Aldi. I can’t find it often but the seasoning is perfect. I just put it in the slow cooker. Made tacos with the leftovers. I pulled a deep dish blueberry pie from the freezer. My daughter and I had picked the blueberries last year. My husband grilled steaks for dinner last night and I made stuffed potatoes and roasted green beans. Now we need to decide on Sunday lunch.

    12. I take tea*

      I finally located some Ume su vinegar sauce (this one with apricots, but the one with plum is nice too) and could do a favourite dish with purple cabbage. For some reason the vinegar sauce really lifts this dish.

      I fry some vegan mince, some cooked black beans, a bit of pepper (not salt, because the ume su is quite salty) and set aside. Braise shredded purple cabbage, season with ume su. Add some green beans and cook them. Mix in the mince and black beans. Check the seasoning. Basically the umami in the vinegar is what makes this dish.

  30. Ali G*

    I’ve recently realized I have a silly new pet peeve. I hate having an odd number of eggs. Hubs and I each eat 2 hard boiled eggs for breakfast almost every day, but occasionally he’s eat one for a snack. Then we have an odd number and it annoys me to no end! It’s ridiculous! Ha!
    What’s your silliest pet peeve?

    1. RussianInTexas*

      Appetizer sampler plates that have odd number of any given item. How do you share equally?
      Very specific and very silly.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When my husband eats standing up in the kitchen. Like, he will fix himself a whole plate and then instead of sitting down at the table (which is Right There) or taking it back to his office, he’ll start eating while just standing in the middle of the dang kitchen. (Which then means the younger dog is hovering at his feet to see if he drops anything, only because he’s focused on his plate and doesn’t notice her there to send her away, which is why she still does it, because he’s not very helpful at reinforcing doggy manners because he spoils them rotten :-P there’s valid reasons it’s a pet peeve, but it’s still kind of a silly thing to get annoyed about.)


    3. Helvetica*

      I also dislike odd-numbered things and much prefer things to be in even numbers, hah.
      But my real pet peeve is other people not drawing curtains together properly so that there’s a gap inbetween. It’s not even about the light getting through, I just think it looks messy and then I can’t sleep unless I fix it, no matter how small the gap is.

    4. Reba*

      When my spouse leaves the tea towels plopped on the counter, instead of hanging them on the oven door/hooks/drawer knobs. To be clear, I also do this. :)

      1. TechWorker*

        Hahaha me too this drives me crazy. My other half is very clean/tidy in general (and has probably made me moreso over the years) but I will never understand why the counter is an ok place for a tea towel! It won’t dry! The towel was clean & it’s not now!

    5. CTT*

      When “champagne” is used as a blanket term for all sparkling wines. I’m not even that fond of champagne (I’m a cava fan), but words have meanings!!

      1. Helvetica*

        I have to say, I didn’t use to care all that much but since moving to Belgium, I know exactly the difference between champagne, cremant, prosecco, etc. Words matter!

    6. LNLN*

      I think catsup goes on hamburgers and mustard goes on hot dogs. It drives me crazy when people use BOTH on the same hamburger or hot dog!

      1. Might Be Spam*

        The only reason I eat hot dogs is to have the condiments. Ketchup, relish, mustard & onions. I don’t actually like hot dogs.

      2. Rara Avis*

        I’m with you but my husband and daughter aren’t, and we argue about it all the time!

      1. AnonEmployee*

        Ha! My husband never fully closes dresser drawers, good thing the kitchen drawers pretty much close with just a slight tap!

    7. MinotJ*

      Caps left off of markers! It’s wasteful, of course, but I react as if somebody is disrespecting the marker. Like you respect the marker so little that you will let it dry out.

    8. TiffIf*

      My weirdest pet peeve? Things that are mis-categorized!
      I occasionally go and just scroll through Zillow (dreaming of one day when I might be able to afford a house) and I am specifically looking at Single Family Detached homes except quite often I find Condos or Manufactured homes listed as Single family Homes and it absolutely drives me up the wall! There are specific categories for Condo, Townhome and Manufactured homes. Why can’t you put things in the right category people!!

    9. Small town*

      The rest of the family drinking directly from the tap and folks who chew gum with their mouth open. We have glasses and …yuck.

    10. lemon meringue*

      It makes me very cross to see a dish towel being used as a dish cloth. Anarchy!!

    11. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      My husband, after feeding the cat, rinses the spoon and leaves it on the sink divider. He doesn’t wash it with soap, so it’s not clean. There’s no reason for it not to just be in the sink with the other dirty dishes. It’s also in the perfect spot for me to accidentally knock it down while I’m using the sink (to. clean. things.) and it makes a horrible clang every time.

    12. WoodswomanWrites*

      I grew up eating really good bagels in my Jewish family. The emergence of the non-traditional sweet cinnamon raisin bagel really bugs me. It’s not that I don’t want them myself, it’s that I want their existence erased from the entire planet. Definitely qualifies as a silly pet peeve.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            hee-hee-hee…. no magic. I would volunteer to eat them just to get them out of sight. lol.

      1. Frally*

        Oh, I must disagree. My Jewish family is big on bagels- but only plain or poppy. When I grew up and discovered the other flavors, it was amazing! Onion, garlic… But my favorite is the cinnamon raisin. My favorite sandwich is a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese, lox, and red onion. Divine!

        1. pancakes*

          That is the actress and former gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon’s preferred bagel order, and for a week or so of her campaign, it was all anyone in NYC wanted to talk about! The combination of sweet and savory either makes perfect sense to people or no sense at all.

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            Exactly. And those of us who think sweet bagels make no sense at all are clearly correct. :)

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        >It’s not that I don’t want them myself, it’s that I want their existence erased from the entire planet. Definitely qualifies as a silly pet peeve.
        I want to eliminate all instances of bagels being served with bacon and cream cheese. (Milk and meat together?! Especially meat that will never, ever, ever be kosher?) But I can’t act on this, not even in my dreams, because, full disclosure, I really like cinnamon raisin bagels. With bagels and lox (no onion!), or just toasted with an application of margarine-that-imitates-butter. One person’s gastronomic grossness can be another’s culinary creativity.

    13. allathian*

      My husband never remembers to put our kitchen scissors back in the drawer. We have two pairs and then he’s always complaining when he can’t find them. Ha!

      He does most of the housework in our house so I can’t really complain, but that bit annoys me because it’s his own fault he can’t find the scissors. He would if he’d only remember to put them back where he found them.

    14. Workerbee*

      Adding an “s” to words that don’t need it, such as:

      In regards to

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My family leaving the microwave door open. Sure, let the steam out but then close it! Those light bulbs are a bear to replace.

    16. Voluptuousfire*

      Cold drinks that have too much or too little ice. If I get a cold drink at a coffee shop, I grit my teeth in anticipation of how much ice may be in the cup. When I ask for a little extra ice, I get a whole cup’s worth. I’ve also had gotten drinks at Starbucks’s where they have that little melted bits of ice floating on top and it’s lukewarm. When I asked them to remake it, pointing out the extra ice request on the cup, I get a blank stare or a look like I asked them to father my firstborn child.

  31. Teapot Translator*

    Exercise thread!
    What have you been doing?
    I’m on vacation this week and I’m not going anywhere (locally, I mean), so I’m looking forward to trying to get back into a sort of exercise routine despite my still aching knees (plus, I got my bike serviced, it’s all clean and oiled, yeah!). I finally saw a physical therapist for hypermobility. I most probably do not have EDS, but I am on the spectrum of hypermobility. She confirmed that it’s normal to feel like my body is not made for sports and like I have a hard time progressing. But I can improve with the right exercises. So, my advice, if you know or suspect that you’re hypermobile, and you’re getting hurt while exercising, try to find a physical therapist that specializes in hypermobility!

    1. WellRed*

      I could use a recommendation for quick online weight workout, particularly if they are for women over 40. Ordered a dvd from Prevention but they take eons to ship anything.

      1. Disguised as me*

        I like Find Fitness with Sharon. She focuses on women 40 and up and has bodyweight and dumbbell workouts. I find her clear and calm, and not overly perky. Pahla B has a similar target audience with shorter workouts, many walking-focused. She is informative but very chatty in a “you guys” way.

      2. Camelid coordinator*

        Lately I’ve been enjoying Marcia’s Healthy Slice workouts on YouTube. I did “Strength and Balance for Women over 50” the other day.

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’m still training for my 10k in June, so this week I did a 13k long run on Sunday, a 20 minute recovery run on Monday, 30 minute interval run on Tuesday and a 30 minute easy run on Thursday. I also did a couple of workout videos – I subscribed to on-demand classes from a trendy gym company at the start of the month as they had a half price offer. I’ve enjoyed them, but don’t think there’s enough at my level so will probably end up cancelling it soon.

    3. Pam Adams*

      I walked over 15,000 steps (about double my normal amount) at Disneyland this week. Still a little achy, but I had a great time!

    4. Melody Pond*

      I’m trying to pick up running, after basically insisting for my whole life that I hate it and would never do it. I’ve also not been good at sticking with consistent exercise routines, in general, so am starting from being pretty out of shape. I’m still only running pretty short intervals, but I set a new personal record on Thursday for the amount of time I could run at once. I don’t want to say how long that is, because it’s still laughably small.

      And today, when Mr. Pond and I were helping an elderly neighbor whose dog got out, I ran from the neighbor’s house to our house, and was struck by the fact that I was able to do it without stopping and without getting winded. It wasn’t a huge distance, but for the vast majority of my life, that would not have been possible.

      Small victories. *fist pump*

      1. TechWorker*

        Yay! Hope your running keeps improving. I liked couch to 5k but tbh I did it with a group of colleagues and perhaps it was the motivation that was the bigger deal.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      I’ve been chasing small children and lifting/holding/carrying an infant. Can I count this as exercise if it’s not my normal routine?

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Still focused on regaining mobility in my frozen shoulder. I might have enough range of motion to get on my bike safely…time to find the tire pump I haven’t used in a year.

  32. Teapot Translator*

    I have a person who comes every two weeks to clean my apartment (I finally decided that at this moment in my life, I do not have the interest to clean myself) and he and his girlfriend are expecting! He’s younger than me (at a guess, early 20s?). Would it be weird if I crocheted him a blanket for the baby? I’ve done it in the past for colleagues and friends, but this is a person who I pay to clean my apartment. Should I make the blanket, give it to him and give him permission to not keep it? Should I make the blanket and give it to him? Should I not make the blanket?
    I don’t know what the etiquette is around these things.

    1. Lifelong student*

      I have done this for a contractor remodeling my kitchen, for my sister’s cleaning person, and other people. I don’t think there is an etiquette issue. It’s a matter of treating the person as a person- not a cog employee!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I feel like, if you’re chatty enough that he told you about it, a small gift would be reasonable. Whether a crocheted baby blanket is a small gift depends on your crocheting speed, haha. I dawdle over blankets, so for me, the baby would be two before I finished it.

    3. Pop*

      I am both a knitter and pregnant with my first kiddo. Absolutely go for it! Knitting things for new babies is my favorite thing because their parents will usually appreciate that you took the time to think of them and their new baby. I’m missing out on some of the typical pregnancy stuff because of the pandemic – people I work casually with don’t even know I’m pregnant re: zoom meetings, and I’m not having a shower – so getting things right now from people feels extra special and thoughtful.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Sure, make it!

      Just give it to him with congratulations. He doesn’t need “permission” to not keep it. If they don’t like it, they can pass it in without saying anything and you’d be none the wiser anyhow.

      It’s a nice thing to do. The etiquette is the same as giving a present to a neighbor or coworker: wrap, smile, nice words, give.

      1. Observer*

        This is where I come down.

        It’s a nice thought. Just giving him the blanket without making it a Big Deal is the way to go. The “permission” bit would make it a big deal, so it’s best to skip it.

    5. ampersand*

      I say do it! My toddler now uses the baby blankets my mom crocheted and loves them. Blankets are lovely and potentially have many years of use in them, and many people appreciate handmade gifts for the thought and time that go into making them.

    6. ten four*

      Do it! It would take a special type of curmudgeon to get salty about a homemade baby gift and I think most people would range from touched to thrilled.

    7. Marion Ravenwood*

      Not weird at all – in fact I think that would be a really lovely thing to do :) And agree about just making it and giving it to him without the permission bit.

    8. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Not to be a naysayer but we ended up with 4 knit blankets for our summer baby and you can’t put anything in the crib for the first year anyway. I guess you can store them until it’s safe. I’m not meaning to be a jerk but I didn’t find them to be useful presents so the amount of effort versus amount of use/enjoyment swings to “no” for me. Maybe usable items like diapers would be better.

      1. Observer*

        Blankets are not just for the crib.

        I actually had more use for blankets with summer babies than winter ones, because I found myself in air conditioned rooms with babies who were dressed (or rather undressed) for the outdoors. Putting a blanket on a carriage of car seat was a lot easier that dressing / undressing the baby.

    9. HannahS*

      It’s a lovely gesture, and as someone who knits/crochets myself I think you should make sure you’re ok with them maybe not liking it or giving it away. But that’s within your heart, not something you have to tell him! Like RagingADHD said, wrap, smile, nice words, give.

    10. Cambridge Comma*

      Everyone gives blankets. I have seven, two still with tags on. Are there any other things you could make? Hats, maybe?
      My MIL crocheted a viking helmet with horns. It’s amazing.

    11. Zooey*

      I say do it! Having recently had a baby I was so touched at people thinking of us. As others have said you can end up with loads of blankets but it doesn’t really matter, especially as they don’t grow out of blankets in two seconds (hats are super cute but I have several that the baby was already too big for by the time they arrived). Also, whatever you get had the risk of being a duplicate – loads of people bought us cute towels obviously thinking it was a useful gift that no one else would have thought of!

      Personally I’d rather have blankets (or towels!) than soft toys (already cluttering the place up and she’s at least a year away from being able to play with them!) or clothes (at least – people mostly buy cute outfits for gifts but they are often very impractical). But I appreciate all the gifts we got, even the ones that I find hideous or we’ll never use, because it’s just so nice to have people wishing her well.

    12. Observer*

      It’s a great idea, I think.

      The only thing I would add is make sure it’s washable. Babies spit up, and you REALLY want to be able to get that cleaned.

  33. Sp*

    Did I imagine a children’s chapter book about a kid named Libby? If I did not, does anyone remember a title or author. I feel vaguely like it may have been of a similar vintage to Ramona.

    1. JuliaTheLibrarian*

      Do you remember any other details? Was it adventurey? More realistic? Funny?

      1. Sp*

        I want to say more realistic, regular kid hijinks. It feels impossible to find because book search results seem to get drowned out by the Libby library app.

    2. Effie*

      If you have a reddit account, try asking on the subreddit called whatsthatbook ! You could also ask a local librarian for help, librarians have great resources.

  34. RMNPgirl*

    Anyone else find adulthood overwhelming? Lately, I just feel like I can’t handle all the responsibilities – flossing, brushing, moisturizing, eating healthy, cooking at home instead of takeout, cleaning, laundry, mowing etc etc.
    Now I have a dead tree that I have to get removed and find a company to do that plus find another company to plant a new one. I need to get my glasses updated with a new prescription. All of this on top of a demanding/stressful job.

    Any advice on how to handle all this and not feel so overwhelmed or how to not feel like a failure for not handling everything?

    1. Ranon*

      Well, it’s not really tree planting season most places right now (at least in the northern hemisphere), so definitely go ahead and give yourself permission to procrastinate there.

      Most people don’t stay on top of all these things all at once. I’m someone with a pretty vast reserve of executive function partnered with a similarly resourced partner and I think I’ve only done all my annual health maintenance appointments all in one year once ever? Life is tolerant of imperfection.

    2. Meh*

      You’re not a failure. Doing all the things is a lot! If you’re managing a household by yourself there are a lot of little things that add up and can feel overwhelming. Easiest for me, is to make a list. That way I can cross things off. Sometimes I add something I’ve done just to cross it off. That gives me a sense of completion and also a record of all the things I DO.

      For tasks, like the tree. Write down what you need to do and then tackle it step by step. Just starting makes the process less daunting and gives you a data point for the next step. 1. Call tree service -maybe they also do planting or can recommend someone

    3. Anonosaurus*

      – Outsource whatever you can (cleaning, maintenance etc) if budget allows.
      – Prioritise, and give yourself permission not to do the lower priority tasks (or at least not do them right now).
      – Do not beat yourself up if you get takeout occasionally. Good nutrition, sleep and exercise are all important but they shouldn’t become a reason to give yourself a hard time either. I try to focus on doing my best most of the time and forgiving my own lapses.
      – Cliche as it is, there really are only 24 hours in every day. You may just have too much to do, rather than being a failure at doing it (ex-project manager here – there is a lot of magical thinking about how much we can achieve at work in a given time period – outside work the same time rules apply).
      – Remember nobody else is doing all this stuff perfectly either, whatever they put on their Insta.

      If this is suddenly getting on top of you, maybe a physical and mental health checkup would be a good idea (although I know that’s another Thing To Do)?

    4. Person from the Resume*

      Kind of. I don’t think of it as “adulthood” meaning if you find it overwhelming you’re failing at being an adult though.

      Life is quite overwhelming and there’s not enough hours in the day/week. . 40+ hours of work per week is a lot and doesn’t leave much free time. I have some hobbies I would love to give more time to but just keeping up with life (shopping, cooking, cleaning) is enough without the extra curveballs like the tree thing.

      I’m a single woman who would like to be coupled but dating is overwhelming and has not yet been successful so I do it all on my own. I don’t actually mind the freedom abs flexibility of being single, but as a single household I’m doing everything that couples divide between the two of them so they actually have it easier in that regard because cooking and cleaning for two is not double the work.

      TL;DR. Life can be overwhelming. That’s normal. But finding it overwhelming is not a failure to adult.

    5. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Yep. 100%. I think everyone’s in the same boat. The people who make adulthood look easy or have all their stuff together either have a lot of help (which is ok!) or are just pretending (also ok!). We’re all doing the best we can.

      My advice is to take shortcuts and outsource where you can, especially for things you dislike the most. Hire a lawn service to do the mowing and take care of your trees. Get a cleaner or a housekeeping service to do the cleaning or help with the laundry.

      As for eating healthy and cooking at home, I’ve tried just about everything short of hiring a chef — takeout, meal prep kits, meal delivery kits. The only things that have worked, sufficiently, is meal planning and the hot bar at my grocery store. Specifically for meal planning, the only way I can get it to work is if I plan two or three weeks at a time and by cooking big batches to eat from all week where I make something big on Sunday that will keep well, like shepherd’s pie, spaghetti, lasagna, meatloaf, and portion that out to eat for lunch every day. That way I’m really only cooking dinner every day which makes it’s easier to focus on healthier eating too.

      You’re not a failure! You just haven’t found a routine that works best for you yet and that is perfectly ok too.

      (If updating your gasses and getting new prescriptions is something that bothers you or you don’t want to keep doing that, then perhaps look into corrective vision surgery. My first big “I’m an Independent Adult” purchase was to have my vision corrected because I knew keeping my prescription updated was something I didn’t want to keep budgeting for.)

    6. RagingADHD*

      No, it’s not just you. If I were on my own, I would not want to own a home with a yard to mow and trees to deal with.

      Even when I was living on my own in a small apartment, it wasn’t always clean and I wasn’t always moisturized. (Though probably better than I usually am now).

      “Adulting” is more or less an infinite to-do list. You’re never completely caught up with everything, because the definition of “everything” is always changing.

      You simplify what you can, do what matters most, and make peace with the rest.

    7. violet04*

      Yeah, I feel overall sometime too. I prioritize things that are important to me. I keep my house fairly tidy, but my pantry is not super organized with fancy baskets and labels. There’s a spare bedroom that is a dumping ground for random stuff that needs to be decluttered. I don’t really enjoy cooking, so sometimes I’ll get takeout or heat up a frozen meal.

      I feel like we are bombarded with messages about being more productive, making to do lists, etc. It took me a while, but I decided I need some time to relax on the weekends. It’s not a huge deal if my pantry isn’t Instagram ready. When I wrap up a long day at work, it’s okay if I order a pizza for dinner.

      But then there are some things where you just need to buckle down and get things done. I hate talking on the phone, but I was able to use the chat option with with my security system company to get an issue fixed.

      Good luck! I can relate to what you’re feeling.

    8. ampersand*

      Why yes! Just had this conversation with my husband last night. We have a toddler, we both work full time, and we’re exhausted. Even before we had a child there was always one more thing that needed to be done.

      You’re not a failure! You’re not imagining that life is just one thing to do after another. It kind of is!

      Outsource whatever you can if it’s financially feasible. Cleaning/laundry/food shopping, etc.

      Then look at everything else that has to be done—what would make those things easier? (I realized last night while sweeping my floors that having a broom upstairs and a broom downstairs would make it more likely that I would actually sweep—invariably the broom is on the floor I’m not on and I’m like, eh, can’t be bothered, I’ll do it later—and then I forget.)

      Can you ask friends or family for help with anything?

      What can you forego or get rid of? This applies to the stuff you think you should do, and actual physical things you don’t need.

      Don’t aim for perfection, and be as kind to yourself as possible. Many (most?) people feel overwhelmed at one time or another!

    9. Girasol*

      One of the best things about being retired is that you can finally get control of all those out-of-control “adulting” tasks that you always thought everyone else was doing right and you must be doing wrong. I’ve come to realize that you just can’t do all the right things while you still hold a job, especially a stressful one. So use your good job skills to prioritize what life tasks must be done now, what can wait, and what could be worked around. Then give yourself a break. You can’t be a failure. Nobody else is really on top of everything, however good they may be at making it look like they are.

    10. Cendol*

      Perhaps amusingly I don’t have the bandwidth to read through all the very good replies here yet, but I will just add, it’s been helpful to me to tell myself the responsibilities aren’t going to end. There’s no, like, summer vacation in adulthood. There’s always going to be something else. Which sounds quite negative but gives me space to think (a) I can do better next time and (b) I don’t have to go all out trying to Finish and Overcome the task, because there’s no way to vanquish it once and for all. The hydra will return, probably with more heads, and I’ll just lop them off as I go. Basically, I try to make it as ho-hum as possible and remind myself not to hinge the “success” or failure of my adulthood on whether I remember to brush my teeth.

    11. Yellow Warbler*

      Yes. It’s executive dysfunction from inattentive ADHD that was misdiagnosed as a variety of mental illnesses for decades.

      (Not diagnosing you, just providing my own experience.)

    12. Marion Ravenwood*

      Firstly, you’re not a failure. Being a responsible adult is hard enough, especially with a stressful job, and especially especially coming out of a pandemic.

      Captain Awkward has a really good method on her blog where you write down the list of tasks, then how long it will take to do them and when they need to be done by, why you’re doing them, and whether they are needs/wants/shoulds – it could be worth taking a look at that. Otherwise, I agree with the suggestion of outsourcing where you can.

      And don’t beat yourself up about this. We all only have a certain number of hours in the day. Sometimes, just getting through, even if you aren’t doing it perfectly or you aren’t doing something all the time, is enough.

    13. Double A*

      Ugh, yes. I have been trying to roll over a 401k for my husband for over six months. It involves HIM having to call (he does not do money), so we need to find a time when we’re both home during business hours where he can basically give them permission to talk to me and then peace out. I have seriously considered just saying I’m “Mr. Double A” on the phone because I have all the info to verify the identity (because I set up the account!) and what are they going to do, question me that I don’t sound like a man? I got a step closer yesterday, I thought, and then hit the same wall. And I was complaining to my mom like… why is this so COMPLICATED? No wonder people don’t do this, i.e. set up retirement accounts, i.e. deal with all the Adult Stuff.

      ANYWAY that is a rant about adulting, but something I have started to do address it: I decided to designate one Sunday a month “Business Day.” I put it as a recurring event in my calendar. If I get some mail I don’t want to deal with immediately, I put it in a specific place, and I will deal with it on Business Day. The next step would be to have a running list of what I need to deal with on Business Day (I haven’t really gotten this too organized yet). Maybe I will get a little white board. I’ve only been doing this a few months, but it does feel good to look at a piece of mail and go, “Nope, that’s for Business Day” and put it aside.

      I also have a fairly organized file system, and I have one of those alphabetical document sorter things (e.g. search for Pendaflex Sort-All sorter or Document sorter), and it’s really helpful to just stick a piece of paper into that and then file it later (This goes under “T” for “Taxes” etc).

      The thing that’s REALLY tricky is there are a few tasks that I am actively avoiding and they take up a lot of space in my mind and now they’ve gotten so big and late that it’s even harder to start them.

      1. Elf*

        My husband and I impersonate each other for things like that all the time (in some cases we’ve tried to set up the permanent permission but it often doesn’t work) and it makes life so much easier.

        Also feel you on the avoidance.

      2. T. Boone Pickens*

        I totally can relate to “business day” as I have one as well! Do the monthly budget, figure out what needs to be shredded, look at anything financial related, etc. I try to knock it out on a Saturday morning and I always get a nice sense of accomplishment after it’s done.

        1. Double A*

          Plus when you do it you can sing variations on “Business Time” from Flight of the Concords.

      3. Roja*

        I have my own versions of the Business Day, but one OP might find helpful is the weekly (or daily or whatever works) correspondence. I comb through my emails, messages, and texts and make sure I answer anything outstanding. It really helps make sure things don’t fall through the cracks long-term.

    14. Llama face!*

      I’ve been working on this concept with my counsellor and am coming to terms with the fact that my limits of executive function and limits in carrying certain kinds of stressors are just lower than a lot of people’s. There was a lot of guilt and shame in facing this idea because I have been socialized to have high expectations for my own productivity and independence. I read something a while back describing this mindset as a peculiarly white middle class paradigm and it seemed to fit (I’m not white but my family is of mixed heritage and both sides were raised culturally white). There is a tendency to make self judgements about *laziness* around my inability to keep things up as expected. I still struggle with it and with identifying what is actually reasonable to expect from myself but it has improved over time! For me, identifying areas where I can just let things slide or let someone else help was key. One thing I did for a while (and I recognize I had financial privilege that gave me more options than some people will have so ymmv) was to subscribe to a meal service. I only ordered one box per month but it included three substantial meals (usually with leftovers) so I knew that at least one week in the month I would have good balanced meals without having to go shopping. I also tried to figure out hacks that would make it more likely for me to accomplish what I wanted to. This will sound ridiculous but my living room coffee table would always get paper garbage clutter all over it because I just wouldn’t think to take it to the kitchen garbage. So I got extra garbage cans and now I keep one right in my living room. It’s absurd how much difference it makes!

    15. Bob_NZ*

      Your question has made me realise that I deal with this via scheduling regular tasks. That way, when my brain weasels start shouting about the length of my ‘to do’ list I can tell them that it’s all in hand ;)

      For example:

      Flossing/brushing/moisturising gets one 5 minute time slot before my morning shower and another one before bedtime.

      Routine cleaning/laundry gets a 1 hour time slot on a Saturday morning.

      House maintenance stuff gets a block of 2-5 days, 3-4 times a year depending on how much there is on the backlog (and my enthusiasm levels!). Obviously urgent stuff like a leaky pipe gets sorted as soon as needed but something like tree removal can happily wait for me to get around to it.

      Boring and non-urgent life admin gets assigned one day a year. I schedule routine dental, optometrist and doctor appointments for that one day. I take care of tax paperwork. I change the batteries in my smoke detectors and check supplies in my earthquake supply kit. I add some enjoyable activities too, like catching up on podcasts while I’m doing all this, and arrange an end of day treat like a takeaway meal for that evening. In theory I could spread all these things through the year but somehow bundling them up is so much less stressful for me.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      Uh, this is normal, at least in my opinion. And yes, it’s a lot. Calling it failure is a mislabeling of what is actually going on. The truth is there is a LOT going on. Once we see the truth, we can plan accordingly- such as not taking on more or hiring things out or unloading some stuff we have on hand. The problem with calling it a failure is that we tend to just pile on more stuff and wonder why we can’t do the new stuff in addition to the old stuff. Accurately identifying the problem is key.

      I try to streamline as often as possible.
      I have a morning self-care routine that I do in the same order each morning. Tedious, but I don’t forget steps.

      Laundry and food are two things we have every day. So I figured get a plan for those things. I used to do the laundry all at once. I am now doing the one load a day plan and I like it much better. I hang stuff

      Cooking- I try to fix two or three meals at a time. This could look like two nights of mashed sweet potatoes or it could be a chicken breast that would last me a couple nights. Doubling up as often as possible helps me, because my theory is that the time spent setting up and tearing down for a project of any sort is where we lose a lot of time. I have been buying more premade salads because I just don’t have time…I am surprised to see that I finish the premades, I did not always finish the ones I made.

      Mowing/yard work. Unfortunately this one is weather contingent. So we have to get out there when the weather is good. You can take a look at your mowing pattern to see if you can save time. I got a wider-cut mower with the new tractor and took 15 minutes off the mow time. My plants are placed in such a manner that it makes it easier to mow.

      Tree and glasses. There’s always something like this. Non-routine, non-scheduled things that have to be done. Where possible, I allot one thing a week. So this week deal with glasses, next week deal with just cutting down the tree. The following week figure out what to plant.
      For products and services I am a big fan of finding out who is good and I keep going back to them. Granted you probably won’t have too many trees cut down over the years but the same strategy applies, you can ask around and see what company people like. You stand more of a chance of wanting another tree or shrub so this can be your opportunity to locate a go-to source that you will do repeat business with.

      I have a journal just for my house. I write down names of businesses that I really like and names of business that I want to make sure I avoid- I write down the two extremes so I don’t have to figure it all out again the next time.

      But step one is this whole process is realizing that calling yourself a failure is a false attribution and negates the fact that this is a LOT of work. Step two is breaking it into manageable stages.

    17. Second Breakfast*

      Adulting can be SO HARD.

      I just read the book “How to Keep House While Drowning,” which helped me to reframe some of my own mental messages around the kind of repetitive cleaning tasks I hate, and which also contained some helpful concrete tips for cleaning when you are overwhelmed. It’s only $3 on Amazon. The workbook costs more, but has been useful so far.

    18. voluptuousfire*

      For cleaning, pick up some hacks. For daily or weekly sweeping/vaccuming, get a little stick vacuum and use that instead of a heavy vacuum or broom/dustpan. I have two–an older one I use to vacuum the kitchen (since the litter box and washer and dryer are in there. Lint from the dryer can also escape). I have a new one I got in Walmart for $20 during the back-to-school sales for the carpet and it works like a dream. I use that for a quick weekly vacuum and break out the big one on the last Wednesday of the month for deeper cleaning. I also have Swiffer pads (dry and wet) for a quick clean of the bathroom and kitchen floors. I do a deep cleaning once a month. Doing things in quick 5-10 minute sprints once a week helps quell the anxiety over not doing a “proper cleaning” every week.

      Also getting rid of things like carpets (if you can) make a huge difference. I have an older house with a cruddy carpet and I’m going to take it up myself in bits and pieces over the summer. Once that’s done I’ll have hardwood floors which are a lot easier to keep clean.

  35. Meh*

    You’re not a failure. Doing all the things is a lot! If you’re managing a household by yourself there are a lot of little things that add up and can feel overwhelming. Easiest for me, is to make a list. That way I can cross things off. Sometimes I add something I’ve done just to cross it off. That gives me a sense of completion and also a record of all the things I DO.

    For tasks, like the tree. Write down what you need to do and then tackle it step by step. Just starting makes the process less daunting and gives you a data point for the next step. 1. Call tree service -maybe they also do planting or can recommend someone

  36. RussianInTexas*

    We had a massive line of storms coming through on Tuesday night. Got over 2″ of rain in an hour, I was afraid that the water will get higher than the patio door (have never happened, not even during Hurricane Harvey that dumped 48″ of rain on my house). At one point there were 7 weather alerts running simultaneously, from severe lightning to tornado watch and warning, to flash flood warning. The estimates show we got over 12,000 lightning strikes in the area during the storm! The sky was lit up like day time between 9 pm and midnight. It was intense.
    The question: have anyone here leveled their backyard? Half of mine slops towards the house and the A/C unit and does not drain properly. The water been standing there for 3 days now. Besides the whole water standing thing, it’s a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

    1. RagingADHD*

      We haven’t graded the whole yard, but we’ve done a lot of drainage work and graded parts of it.

      The best place to start is figure out the flow of where surface water is running onto your property, and where it wants to run off to (or the easiest place you can make it go).

      If you can divert some of the incoming water on the uphill side toward the storm drains, add some French drains and/or berms, and otherwise direct it around the house instead of into that low spot, it will help.

      Same deal on the outlet side- give it clear paths underground or aboveground to flow away.

      Are you on a slab or do you have a basement crawl space? We wound up having to put in a sump pump and replace the water heater because the previous owners let the water issues go unchecked for so long (And they weren’t as bad for the original owner. Development uphill from us has added a lot of impermeable surface and therefore created a lot more runoff).

    2. Anono-me*

      If this is something that only happens once every 5 -10 years; you may want to look in to PROPERLY done raised flowerbeds surrounding your property ( with a few sandbags tucked away for the space in front of the sliding doors) and a portable sub pump. It might be more economical and less disrupting.

      You may want to consider getting a portable sub pump now to get rid of the existing water. (When I would set up my relative’s out in their yard, I would put it in a 5 gallon bucket that had holes drilled in the bottom and low on the sides. The holey bucket helped keep leaves and most other debris out of the pump.)

      1. RussianInTexas*

        No, this happens pretty much every time it rains fast and hard, which happens quite often here. I think over the years the deep spot gotten deeper, some soil washed out.
        The problem with the flower beds is that they’ll get neglected pretty much instantly, I know myself.
        I think there is a way to level the back with dirt and gravel, I believe that is what my dad did to his backyard. I imagine if it’s leveled, the water won’t congregate in one spot? And drain and evaporate better that way?

        1. Anono-me*

          Im sorry I gave you a plan b that you didn’t ask for.

          For a regrade I would ask your Engineer:
          Where will the displaced water go?
          How will they keep the newly added dirt from washing away?
          How long will this regrade last?
          What caused the old grading to deteriorate to your current situation?
          How much will each option cost and how long will it last?

          You might also want to ask if the historical water issues have had a negative impact on the house’s slab foundation?

          In the interim you may want to use a pump and check to see that your gutters are clean. Maybe look at downspout extensions, if you already have some.

          I suggested the flower beds because even if I could afford the regrade,
          I would have trouble spending that kind of money on it. I guess that I projected that frugality onto you and I shouldn’t have. Again sorry.

    3. Venus*

      I didn’t do the work myself, but live daily with the result. I have a backyard with a slope away from the home, because the previous homeowner bought a lot of dirt that was dumped against the foundation. When it rains, water runs away from my home and into a wastewater collection system (ditch, which eventually goes to a stream). During wet weather my basement is dry and my yard is getting water to the right places. Since moving here years ago my only change was to add a bit more soil to the foundation, as it was starting to erode down a bit.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I had a lot of drainage work done here.

      Probably you will need some big machines- backhoes and dozers.
      Where your back yard slopes towards the house, they can put in under ground pipes or put in an open culvert- I don’t know what would be appropriate for your setting. I have pipes here.

      Just so you are prepared, I got told to get my plants the heck away from my house. Yeah, I was told in NO uncertain terms it was not optional, I had to move them. If your plants are looking neglected and kind of sad, this might be an opportunity to just tear them out.

      Here’s the part that blew my mind. A friend helped me with this as he does it professionally. (I paid him of course.) He brought in FOUR large truckloads of soil. This was over 88 ton. I can’t even tell you how many cubic yards it was. It was an awesome amount, considering my lot LOOKS very flat. We rented a tractor with a dozer blade on the front and my friend pushed the soil around to level it off. That 88 ton seemed to just disappear. If you saw my yard, you’d say, “Where did it go?”
      It worked. my lot drains much better. It will never be perfect because of the clay soil. But if it had stayed the way it was, it was going to become a really bad situation.

      Once you get the pipes or culvert in, don’t load up with plants in that area, the roots and the shade from the plants really mess with water flows.

      Start the process by talking around, ask people if they have had drainage issues, who did they call and what do they think of that company. My friend is truly gifted in figuring this stuff out, it’s worth it to hold out for finding that person who is really great at doing this.

  37. only rage*

    Hi everyone! I was the person last week asking about gender and if anyone else struggles with it/general advice. Just want to say thanks for all the advice and resources. I really appreciate it, and it will help me a lot in my journey. I apologize for not responding to like, all the comments (yay work) but seriously, thank you all so much.

    (And it helped to know I was/am not being silly ^-^)

  38. MCL*

    We are staying in the Half Moon Bay area south of San Francisco next week (Montara, specifically). We would like to spend Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in SF to do the tourist thing. Would it be better to drive in with our rental car, or park and ride with BART or the like. Never been and not familiar with driving there.

    1. Filosofickle*

      It depends what you want to do in the city. Both options have challenges — BART has pretty limited pathways and doesn’t always go where you want. Parking is a real bear in lots of neighborhoods and pay parking isn’t always easy to find.

      If you want to go to GG Park, GG Bridge), Presidio, Marina, or western neighborhoods, take the car. If you want to go downtown/east to Embarcadero, Exploratorium/MOMA, Chinatown, or Union Square, BART might be better. However you can also drive if you’re willing to pay for a parking lot (~ $30+). If you want to keep your plans flexible so you can hop around between areas, take the car. Do not plan on street parking.

      1. Grim*

        Make sure that if you drive, don’t leave anything in your rental car. Thieves will break in and steal anything that looks even remotely valuable.

        1. mreasy*

          BART is limited within the city but you can take a Lyft or Uber. Driving in SF is its own circle of hell and I say that as someone who lives in NYC and enjoys driving in Manhattan!

        2. B*

          +1000. Rental cars are magnets to thieves and you would be surprised how many folks do not lock car doors”I was only gone for 10 minutes”. Still though, welcome back to my home town, we really have missed you!

      2. MCL*

        Would it be easy enough to park at GG Park and take public transit into other areas from there?

        1. Filosofickle*

          Yes, that would work. There’s an expensive garage by the De Young museum (music concourse is the name?) but also a fair amount of local street parking that is not time-limited (on Fulton) as well as some places inside the park (Stow Lake is a good spot) that aren’t limited to a certain number of hours. Then bus to downtown. Weekdays would be much easier than weekends.

        2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

          If you park at GG Park, the public transit from there is Muni (buses and light rail). Some lines have frequent service, others not so much. On a Sunday, service will be less frequent. And depending on where you’re going, you may need to transfer, which is not very efficient. A cab would be faster for some trips.

          I am not from here and I don’t think it’s hard to drive here. I’m the opposite of mreasy; driving in SF is NBD and I would never drive in Manhattan.

          To echo an earlier poster, if you park in SF, leave absolutely nothing visible in the car. If you need to move stuff to the trunk, do that before you park somewhere.

        3. WoodswomanWrites*

          Yes, you can do that. As others have mentioned, make sure you don’t leave anything visible in your car to prevent break-ins. And I mean anything. There are skilled thieves who watch for tourists in places like that, and they may see you if you move things to the trunk. So if you’re going to put anything in the trunk, make sure it’s already there before you park. I think it’s worth the security to pay for the Music Concourse Garage adjacent to the deYoung Museum and California Academy of Sciences.

          Although you didn’t ask for tourist advice, I’ll chime in with some. The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is lovely. Skip Fisherman’s Wharf unless you want to visit the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, which includes a couple of restored sailing ships. My favorite walk if you’re up for traveling on foot and a hill isn’t a challenge is to walk north through Chinatown to North Beach and up to Coit Tower. In Chinatown, walk on Stockton Street, just a block parallel from the more well-known Grant Street which is mostly tourist shops.

          Coit Tower has amazing murals inside the walls from the 1930s that were controversial for celebrating workers and labor, and including images of people of color alongside white people. It almost got painted over for being too radical. Should you decide to drive, parking in Chinatown, North Beach, and at Coit Tower is essentially impossible. Have fun!

      3. pancakes*

        The Embarcadero, Union Square, and Chinatown are all within walking distance of one another. (I say that as a New Yorker, though, accustomed to walking).

        On that note, I highly recommend drinks and dinner at Hard Water in the Embarcadero if you’re whiskey fans, porchetta sandwiches from Roli Roti in the Embarcadero if the timing is right, and egg tarts from AA Bakery in Chinatown.

        Not very nearby but also recommended: Snacks and wine for the hotel from Bi-Rite Market, pastries from 20th Century Cafe, focaccia from Liguria Bakery in North Beach, and a visit to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

    2. the cat's ass*

      BART for sure, but be vigilant. Lots of grunge on the subway and recently increased assault/thievery throughout the city.

    3. Pocket Mouse*

      BART and MUNI. BART’s range isn’t super extensive, but you can walk a bunch of places from the stations pretty quickly (and see interesting things on the way), and MUNI has a much more thorough reach. Don’t be afraid to spring for a taxi ride or two, too!

      1. pancakes*

        MUNI, yes, I couldn’t think of the name of it. Where I am, all of our public transport, even ferries, is under one name. There wasn’t anywhere I wanted to go in SF that I couldn’t get to on MUNI, even a bar in what felt like a sleepy area of the Outer Sunset.

    4. IGoOnAnonAnonAnon*

      If you drive, or park at a BART lot, DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING IN YOUR CAR! If you plane to store stuff int he trunk, put it in the trunk before you drive to your destination, not after you arrive. Thieves are watching.

      Sorry to yell, but I live in a heavily touristed area of SF (west side beaches!) and my neighbors and I regularly find dumped backpacks, suitcases, camera bags, etc. on our street. We go through the stuff looking for owner’s ID (put a piece of paper with your contact info in your bags!), and then either turn the remaining items over to owners or to the police. Any electronics WILL be stolen. The latest time, the couple left their car for 5 minutes total. It takes 15 seconds for a smash-and-grab.

    5. SFNative*

      Half Moon Bay is wonderful! Have a great time! Regarding traveling to and around SF — I’ve lived here 30 years. Most of my advice is from pre-COVID, things may be different now, I don’t know as I’ve been hiding out in my house all this time. Traffic here is terrible, and likely to be worse on a holiday weekend. Parking ditto. Having said that, it will not be easy getting to tourist spots from BART. It will dump you downtown, where you don’t want to be. Most folks go downtown to take the cable car, but they are not running during COVID. If you come in by BART, or park in Golden Gate Park, you will have long waits for buses and transfers, and if you are not vaccinated I wouldn’t ride either BART or buses anyway. Either way, car or public transportation — you will need to have a lot of patience. Strong echo re not leaving anything in your rental car, even in the trunk. Also, stay away from the lookout points on Twin Peaks — it’s a common spot for robberies of tourists in broad daylight. Sorry to be so negative, just letting you know. But there are beautiful places to see — Golden Gate Bridge, Palace of Fine Arts with a lake and swans, Victorian houses, Golden Gate Park, etc. BTW many roads in GG Park are closed right now to cars — check out sfrecpark dot org to see the map and other info. Have a wonderful visit!

      1. MCL*

        We are both fully vaccinated! We have a food tour in Chinatown/North Beach Saturday afternoon but no firm plans otherwise.

    6. SFNative*

      p.s. The poster who suggested BART and then Uber or Lyft may have the best idea, if you are vaccinated. No hassle with parking or buses! Also, if you want to go into any of the museums or the Exploratorium, check ahead of time whether you should get a ticket online. Most places, if open at all, are only letting in 25% capacity.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I used to live not far away. Look into Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, and let me know what you think if you decide to go. It was one of my peaceful places.

  39. McMurdo*

    I graduate college on Wednesday (wooooo!) and I don’t have a job lined up yet (ahhhhhh!). I have very supportive parents, so basically I have this summer to Do Things before I need to find any job (as opposed to one in my field) to support myself. And the break is VERY much needed.

    If you had three months where you were financially and emotionally supported, what personal projects or hobbies would you spend your time doing? I’ve got some thoughts, but would love some inspiration!

    1. Reba*

      Road trip! Road trip. I know that it is still a pandemic, which complicates things. But if you can do it, this is *the* time to road trip because when else will you have this long of a break?! If you have a car and are open to camping you can do this on the cheap! I love visiting national parks and weird roadside attractions.

    2. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Honestly I would do nothing and enjoy it. Stay up late reading a good book or watching TV. Sleep in late. Eat junk food or go to my favorite restaurants. Go to the movies. Go for walks. Learn something new. Take long naps on the couch. Meet up with friends for drinks and lunch or dinner. Try new restaurants.

      You might never have time like this again where there are no expectations, no obligations, and no responsibilities. Everything changes once you get a job, when you move out on your own and sometimes it’s overwhelming. The minutiae of adulthood (see RMNPgirl’s thread above) makes it hard to enjoy the little things so spend the next three months enjoying the little things.

      Congratulations on your graduation!

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      Congratulations on your graduation!

      I had a bit of this when I was furloughed for five months last year (in the UK furloughed employees got paid 80% of their wages at the time, or up to a certain amount per month). I spent it reading – I read for an hour every day and it was glorious – learning French, editing a novel I wrote many years ago, teaching myself to sew, getting back into running and occasionally baking as well. It was actually weirdly nice to have that enforced break and I really enjoyed having the time to start or resume hobbies that had fallen by the wayside in the whirlwind of day-to-day life.

    4. Katefish*

      I was absolutely exhausted after college and spent three weeks relaxing and reading Lord of the Rings while my mom begged me to get a job. (I did, but after that!) Highly recommend. Enjoy your little oasis and don’t worry too much about being productive – just be human. :)

      1. AGD*

        Yeah, I was over the moon when I graduated and went and had a magnificent vacation that I couldn’t really afford but it was worth it. Then I went to my parents’ house and slept. By August I was struggling with fatigue and brain fog and saw a bunch of doctors and it was never explained, but it did eventually subside (just as well, because I went off to grad school). I think I was just worn out after an intense undergrad degree.

    5. Camelid coordinator*

      I’d love to help the refugee families in my area. They often need rides or tutoring or setting up stuff in the apartment during the day. I realize this is a very niche interest. Besides reading a ton I’d probably widen my exercise routines (more hiking and exploring, more kayaking, as opposed to a run constrained by needing to get to work).

    6. Loves libraries*

      Congratulations on your graduation. My daughter just graduated in a field that has suffered because of the pandemic. I’m trying to get her to be realistic about her job search timeline. She is moving home next weekend and will live here rent free while she searches. Since I work the school year, I’ll enjoy the company. My husband and I have a work trip so we are glad she can dog sit. If she still doesn’t have a job, she and I can travel.
      Enjoy your time off, you’ve earned a break.

  40. Let me be dark and twisty*

    Has anyone tried BritBox? It looks like it’s a streaming service for British shows and docs from the BBC and ITV. I’m thinking about signing up for it and trying out the free trial but I’m wonder if it’s worth it.

    1. RussianInTexas*

      I have it, I like some shows on it but not that many. Mostly British murder of the week ones.

    2. Princess Deviant*

      I am in the UK, and I don’t like a lot of the shows on it either. Anything that’s from ITV is rubbish imo, and BritBox seems to be where a lot of ITV programmes go to die.
      I think BBC shows are worth subscribing to, however, if you can get them.

    3. Dwight Schrute*

      I have it and I like it! I’ve mostly used it to watch Death in Paradise though to be honest

    4. pancakes*

      We’ve had it for a while and like it, specifically for the Poirot archive (the Suchet series), Grand Designs, Gardeners World, and Alan Partridge. Initially we got it for Midsomer Murders, and I think it still has some seasons but the new ones are on Acorn.

    5. Green Mug*

      I got it to watch Poirot and Miss Marple. It doesn’t have a lot of original or newer content though. I binged Death in Paradise, Mallorca Files, and Wild Bill. Now I feel as if I’ve seen everything. I got it through Amazon, and it was easy to cancel after a month.

    6. I take tea*

      I’m curious too. Would it give me an opportunity to watch Doctor Who, Torchwood and Ghosts?

      1. pancakes*

        It has Doctor Who seasons 1-26, plus a couple specials. None of the other two, as far as I can tell. There are a couple seasons of a show called Marley’s Ghosts but presumably that’s not the same.

        1. I take tea*

          Not the same, no. This is a comedy about a pair that inherit a house full of ghosts from different times. The ghosts try to get rid of them. They seem to become friends later on. I’ve seen snippets of Ghosts on YouTube, and it seems fun. It’s available on BBC’s site, if you are in the UK. I’m probably better off with a VPN, then. Thank you.

          I get so annoyed with how hard it is to just pay to watch something. There are some show that are quite impossible to see in my country (looking at our Netflix, that refuses to give us the fourth season on The Good Place!) and sometimes I just bye the DVD – if I can find one for my region.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I did have it and I really liked it, but I had to chuck it since I wasn’t watching much and needed to save money. I’d definitely go back to it once I have a steady income.

  41. Non hugger*

    Now that there’s less social distancing and more social, for the people who don’t like hugs, how are you trying to discourage them (from people you are glad to see and enjoy spending time with)?

    I look forward to seeing friends and family but some people are very huggy and I’ve always hated hugs. Now that it’s been well over a year, I know my in laws and some friends are going to want to be all into hug greetings and … I’ve really enjoyed waving from afar as greetings.

    1. Not A Manager*

      “During the pandemic, I realized that I’m just not a hugger. I love YOU, but I don’t like hugging.”

    2. Filosofickle*

      For most of my life I’ve been known as a non-hugger, and while that makes me self-conscious I’m glad people tended to remember and respect it. (I don’t HATE hugs I’d just rather not most of the time.) With longstanding family-like folks (ex. in-laws), I decided not to fight it. I’m just going to roll with the hi/bye hugs that come with those relationships because I want the goodwill more than I want not to hug. However I’m drawing it out a bit — still not ready to hug thanks! Eventually that will end but it is resetting expectations a bit. And with anyone I can, I’ll resist it passively. I know from experience if I just kind of stay back and do that little wave, few people will really charge in. With very new people it’s not hard for me just to say “oh I’m not a hugger!”

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Put out a hand to create distance. “No hugs, please, but I’m glad to see you! How ARE you?”
      This ought to work but Filosofickle has a point about having to tolerate hugs to maintain goodwill.
      You do what’s good for you!

    4. Kiwiapple*

      I think it’s fine to be a non hugger in normal times but I would put my discomfort aside for once (if everyone is safe etc) if this is the first time you are able to hug. Sometimes it’s about doing something for someone else rather than yourself.

    5. Bodily autonomy for all*

      You’re not alone, I realised I have zero tolerance for unwanted hugs and other contact (shoulder pats, arm grabs, attempts to ruffle my hair – you name it!)

      What I’m doing is keeping my distance, waving & saying something like ‘it’s great to see you and my personal space zone has got a whole lot bigger! No hugs please – thanks for understanding and not being weird about it!’

      And if they approach, moving back & imagining this:

      Note: angry cat sounds at start might upset any cats listening


      I’m sure Captain Awkward has answered questions like this if you want to check out her advice at Captain awkward dot com

    6. WS*

      Assert the boundary and make it physical by putting your hand out in a “stop” signal. Be polite but firm, and COVID gives you a good way to say that you’ve realised that you’re just not a hugging person. People will sometimes be taken aback or offended but they get over it when they see that you’re applying this to everyone, not just them.

      1. Not a cat*

        My GP is a hugger. He asks but doesn’t wait for an answer, he just goes in for a hug. I hate it to the point I am considering moving to another doctor.

    7. OtterB*

      Won’t work for an informal family/friends get-together, but my chorus is having a picnic this week, first in-person get-together since March 2020. We have ordered a set of stickers with choices of green (yes, hug me), yellow (let’s do an elbow bump), or red (wave to me in a socially-distanced way). They came off Amazon, I think, but I don’t have the link.

  42. Student anon*

    I’m graduating soon (yay!) and I’m getting a lot of advice to take 2-3 mos until my next thing (job). My question is, how do people take large amounts of time off after school?? I get having savings but what about health insurance? I’m not young enough to be on my parents plan

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I took a year off when I was 30 through a combination of savings and a small inheritance. My health is generally good enough that I didn’t worry about the insurance, to be honest – probably wasn’t my best move, but I went to Planned Parenthood for my birth control and annual exam and just paid out of pocket and otherwise nothing happened that caused a problem. (Note – this isn’t a suggestion, just literally answering what I did.)

      If you’ve been insured through your school and are losing that insurance, that would qualify as a major life event that should make you eligible to look at the marketplace plans in your state, and being unemployed should get somewhere as far as subsidies for those.

      1. Student anon*

        Hmm, yeah I can’t go without insurance. I have a disease with very very expensive medication ($$$ a month WITH insurance). I do have savings but my understanding of most marketplace plans is,while they have to cover me, often provide poor coverage/high copay and on top of that might cost $$$$ a month. How do people do it?? Is it just that all these people giving me advice to go off and travel for 6 mos have never had to think about medical expenses?

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Most people I’ve encountered who “go off and travel for 6 mos” are either healthy or wealthy or both. Or they live in countries with universal health care, and are traveling within that.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            The travel thing would be a combination of medical insurance in your home country, and a travel insurance plan for emergencies. For example, as a Canadian I would be covered in Canada as a resident, and being out of Canada for less than six months would maintain my resident status. The travel insurance would cover emergency care, and if I returned to Canada due to an emergency I’d be eligible for treatment when I returned. I’m not sure about the logistics of getting prescriptions filled while abroad, however.

            But yeah, the travel for six months advice assumes you can afford it. Even with national health insurance, most new grads don’t have the money to support themselves for months while they travel.

        2. LDF*

          Most people finish school young enough to be on their parents’ plan, or at least that’s that impression. (Nothing wrong with not! Just that’s where the customs come from.) And yes if anyone is saying this to you specifically they probably aren’t thinking about your age or health. I don’t think you’re missing anything.

        3. Reba*

          Yes, I think you’re right :(

          It’s true that Marketplace plans are often not all they are cracked up to be. The recent relief legislation (American Rescue plan) is supposed to help make them more affordable by expanding the subsidies, so it may very well be worth a look! But it’s so variable depending on where you live.

          If you are not working you may even be eligible for Medicaid or your state’s equivalent. (sorry if the following is old news to you) Or, you might qualify for some relief from the drug maker itself — these are kind of sketch,* but when I was underinsured in the past I was able to use drug coupons and other discounts (Patient assistance programs) — either paying cash with discounts, or using the drug coupon to lower the copay. To be clear, this sucked. I thank my lucky stars that now I’m on drugs that are old and cheap. I remember how stressful it was before and how simply stupid — at one point I had to apply for my state’s Medicaid program just to show I was denied, even though it was clear I didn’t meet eligibility, what a waste of everyone’s time!

          *in that they are funded by the drug makers to encourage people to use their products, also in the sense that the whole system is so arcane, how do these things even come to be!

        4. recent student*

          I would check on the marketplace options! They’re a lot more heavily subsidized than usual at the moment thanks to the most recent pandemic relief bill. I got my health insurance through my state’s marketplace after graduating in December, and the coverage is pretty good and less expensive than I was expecting (though I don’t have to worry about regular prescriptions). I got notified recently that I qualify for even more discounts (really gotta look into that) due to the bill, and I think that’s good for the next year. So it might be a more viable option for you now, though I think it might vary by state!

        5. ronda*

          aca is currently in open enrollment, so you can sign up. When not in open enrollment, you do have to send in some extra documentation about losing your insurance. It is better than nothing, but it is generally not really travel friendly, ie you often have to get care in network, not a nationwide plan.
          If you have low income, aca subsidies make it pretty affordable. If you have poverty level income… medicaid if you are in an expanded state, and if not get yourself to the minimum income for aca subsidies, or move to an expanded Medicaid state. If you are in the low income range, cost sharing subsidies-on silver plans only- might be of interest, income between about ~18k and ~31k if single.

          There is also travel medical insurance. I have read some people who are traveling for long periods of time use that. I have never used it. From what I have read it seems suitable for emergency high cost situations, not regular care.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            The travel insurance tends to be for international travel, and you’re right, it covers emergency situations, and repatriation/flying someone out to bring you home if needed. I always get it for international trips, because it’s way cheaper than dealing with a health emergency abroad. There’s something similar for interstate travel in the US, but of limited duration, and again, only for emergency care. It’s carefully set up so that it can’t be a substitute for a regular insurance plan.

            As an aside, when buying international travel insurance it tends to come in two types – travel to the US, and travel to all other countries, with the former significantly more expensive

    2. the cat's ass*

      Planned parenthood is what i did under similar circumstances. Not perfect, and i had a hug sigh of relief when i was finally employed with benefits again.

    3. RagingADHD*


      People who can afford to go without working for any length of time, especially if it involves travel or educational/spiritual experiences unconnected to the ability to eat and have a bed, are able to do so because they are privileged.

      -To have savings
      -To have health
      -To have family who will support them or let them move back in afterwards
      -To have friends or romantic partners who can and will feed or house them without reciprocation

      And so forth.

      There’s nothing wrong with it! People should enjoy their lives! I benefitted greatly from parents who let me live at home for a while and save all my earnings for a big adventure, and I was healthy enough to ignore issues of medical insurance in the meantime. I recognize it and am grateful for it.

      But if you’re looking at something like this and asking, “how do they make this lifestyle work without starving/sleeping in the street?” The answer is always privilege.

      And if you don’t happen to have that privilege, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong.

      1. Student anon*

        Oh yes I don’t begrudge other people who can travel or take a year. By all means, if you can, do it! I just feel so weird when people ask me how much time I’m taking and when they insist on taking more time. I feel like I need to explain my health issues or risk looking like I’m a workaholic.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Nope, they are just oblivious, and you’d probably be doing them a favor if you answered truthfully that you need a job because, like most people in the world, you have to support yourself.

          Their ignorance isn’t a good look anytime, but it’s only going to clash more and more with reality as they get out into the real world.

          You may feel like the odd one out right now, but it’s because you are a normal person in a strange and temporary bubble.

          1. Student anon*

            Yeah that makes sense. I feel like most of the people telling me this are in academia which is its own type of bubble. Or they really just wish they could have taken more time off when they were in my position.

    4. Maggie*

      Most people……dont. Thats my honest answer. I dont really know anyone who has taken 2-3 months off work purposefully at any point after college. If you have the savings for it you can buy health insurance in the marketplace which is essentially just buying your own plan. Its very expensive though, like $900 a month or more

      1. TL -*

        That very much depends on the state. States that have supported the ACA marketplace have very affordable to free, good insurance plans (I used MA’s in between grad school and job, and it was free and comprehensive.)

        On the state exchange, always check in your state.

    5. Usually Lurking*

      Hey I know I am late on the reply here, but you might want to check and see if your school offers health insurance through the summer. That’s how it worked when I was in graduate school, not sure how it applied to undergrad (I was in Canada for my undergrad so yeah, no health insurance problems there). You might be able to do COBRA or something like it if your plan isn’t automatically extended (COBRA is super expensive though)

      There are lots of people who live non traditional lives for a bit, either living the vanlife/nomadlife out of cars and tarilers, or hiking long distance trails like the Appalachian Trail of Pacific Crest Trail. You can look around and see what those people are doing for health insurance. A lot of people use the state exchanges, but you have to make sure you get a plan that allows for out of state coverage, which can be tricky. If you need insurance for regular medications and whatnot, you might be able to get in state coverage and have the medications sent to different pharmacies or your doctor might allow you to stock up on several months worst of supply if you explain the situation (mine just gave me six months of my meds when I asked). Then you can get something like travel insurance to cover any emergency medical expenses that you have (you usually need to be over 100 miles from home for travel insurance to kick in though, so be warned).

      Basically health care in the US is the worst and it boggles my mind that we still have this system when my friends in Canada and Australia clearly have something that, which not perfect, is much better.

      1. Student anon*

        Thanks for your reply!
        Our insurance ends in July no exceptions. And I think I’m just going to end up taking the month or so before I have to go to work as my time off but not do the whole 6 mos thing. After all it’s supposed to be a vacation and this health insurance stuff is just stressful.

  43. Filosofickle*

    My partner of 4 years unexpectedly broke up with me this week — we were supposed to be on a relaxing post-vaccination trip up the coast to celebrate our anniversary and instead he picked a fight on the first night and then made it official when got home. It was a rough week and I’m completely blindsided. I have a lot of grieving to do and will feel all the feels but also don’t want to drown in it. What’s your fav distraction when you have heartbreak or something else heavy/hard on your mind? Last night I watched a bunch of episodes of GLOW and that helped.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Rewatching early seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I don’t know why, but it’s my go to “distract me now” place.

    2. Cendol*

      I am sorry! I recommend the UK version of Taskmaster (available for free on YouTube) as a lighthearted distraction. There are 11 seasons now of between 5-10 episodes each. Really fun variety/comedy/panel show with excellent guests each season. I revisit episodes during stressful times and always come away with a big grin.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        I second this! I also get really into watching Freakin Reviews when I need a light hearted distraction. Basically just a guy doing thorough reviews of random products

    3. ten four*

      Aw that sucks, I’m sorry! When I was going through a particularly awful time in my life I binged Supernatural. I normally don’t really like spooky/horror/supernatural stuff but I found it weirdly helpful to think “hey, things are crummy but at least I’m not constantly fighting demonic monsters and desperately trying to save my brother from a fate worse than death!”

      The series ultimately made it to 15 seasons, and the episodes range from serious to silly so there was some levity built in (which I like).

      1. Effie*

        I did this spooky binge-watching with The Umbrella Academy and it was super helpful! Same with Leverage, because the clients they help are always massively screwed over and it helped me feel better.

    4. Joan Rivers*

      I’d focus on doing the things that give YOU joy — esp. if they’re things you did less cause he wasn’t into it.

      There are usually things you’ve trimmed from your life, as a couple. Remember them, don’t think about the good times as a couple.

      1. AGD*

        This is what I did last time I was in this situation. I sought out super fun things my ex definitely hadn’t wanted to do with me.

        1. Ali + Nino*

          Agreed! During the “off-again” periods with a certain ex I would rock out to the music *I* loved that was “beneath him” (eyeroll)

      2. Filosofickle*

        Definitely going to watch all the comedy TV I love! He liked heavy dramas. I like to laugh. Also art museums.

    5. Marion Ravenwood*

      That sucks, I’m really sorry :(

      For me it’s soothing things like Bake Off, The Great British Sewing Bee, Parks & Recreation etc – I tend to fall back on stuff I’m familiar with when I’m in a period like that. I think it’s a comfort thing.

    6. pieforbreakfast*

      Deep cleaning, going through old papers and books- usually with music or podcast playing. Re-paint a room. Walking/hiking. I also have some movies I watch that are familiar so I don’t have to follow as closely.

    7. Mstr*

      Watch New Girl. It’s comic relief but also the main character moves on with a bunch of roomies after a bad breakup & moves on — with all the stumbles & heartache along the way. But she moves on.

    8. I take tea*

      I’m sorry, that sucks. For me, rereading all my childhood favorites help, they feel safe and there’s usually not much romance in them.

  44. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Summer shoes time !
    My old Merrell sandals need replacing. I liked them so much I bought a second pair, but I feel like I want something new. This is for casual wear — house & yard pool&pond visits, maybe errands. They need to survive getting damp, and have enough support for walking. I have wide, high-arched feet, and lived most of the winter in Nike sneakers.

    1. Opinions, I've Had a Few*

      I really like TEVAs for all those reasons–comfort, can walk miles in them, they can handle wet weather, and they come in some cute colors/styles.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      I second the TEVA suggestions and I also enjoy Chacos. I’ve found that my TEVAs didn’t need to be broken in though like my Chacos

      1. Filosofickle*

        Oof, I had to give away new Chacos because they gave me multiple blisters on the bottoms of my feet!

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          They take A LOT of breaking in to be comfortable and I still get a callous each yeah at the start of the summer when I wear them consistently. I got them for a study abroad experience where I knew I would need sturdy sandals and they held up well but my feet were destroyed initially because I didn’t break them in ahead of time

    3. Asenath*

      Not everyone loves flip-flops, but I do. I realized this spring that one pair I picked up years ago in some drugstore are really comfortable for walking and have outlasted a number of back-ups and “replacements”. And the brand name is still clear – Okabashi. So instead of buying yet another spare pair of a different type, I’ve managed to track down the same brand and style online and available outside the US.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Can you feel the place where the strap attaches to the sole? That’s the reason I don’t wear flipflops to the pool anymore.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I also love flops – mine are Sanuk yoga slings, I get them for $20 or so on Amazon. The footbeds are made from heavy duty yoga mat material, and the uppers are cloth, so there’s no rubbing. (Or at least, none compared to the plastic $2 Old Navy flops I lived in before my feet realized we’re 40 now. :P I’ve never gotten blisters or tender spots from the Sanuks though.)

      3. pancakes*

        I wear flip-flops around the house and to get the mail and am very pleased with my new Archies ones. I don’t think I have high arches but they’re apparently very good for people who do. I got them because my boyfriend (who does have high arches) ordered some and loves them.

    4. ten four*

      I like close toe sandals for anything outdoorsy so I picked up a pair of Keens. The women-specific styles are better for me – I think mine are Clearwaters or Whispers?

      And for just derping around Reef flip flops are the best. They’ve actually got arch support, they’re cute, cheap and they last forever.

      1. The teapots are on fire*

        I will say if you have wide feet, look at men’s sizes, because I think women’s, even in wide, run narrow in Keens.

      2. Pippa K*

        I just got some Keens Bali sandals on sale, and they’re comfy for walking and seem slightly wider than average, so those might fit the bill here.

      3. Camelid coordinator*

        I have wide feet with a high instep and just bought a pair of Keen whispers. They run a little smaller than the Newport H2 I usually wore. In both kinds I size up 1/2 size. The whispers have a slightly more delicate strap, which I like the look of. I also love just going around the house or the pool in Crocs.

    5. MissGirl*

      I loved my Taos leather sandals. They gave me great support. Unfortunately, puppy destroyed them a few weeks ago so I’m following suggestions here too.

    6. Mephyle*

      I have high arches and not-narrow feet, and Nike and New Balance are my daily wear for non-sandal weather.
      As for sandals, my Teva Tirras are great, and I have a pair of Quechua NH110 sandals which turned out to be just as good. I alternate the two of them all summer. I would get them both again.

    7. Tortally HareBrained*

      I just picked up a pair of Hey Dudes which are a boat shoe style and they are super comfy, light weight, and machine washable. I think they also make flip flops.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Thanks all–I have a lot to look for. I’m going to try in-person first because I like the idea of men’s sizes…and will have to learn what that will be for my feet.

  45. llamaswithouthats*

    Has anyone successfully gone fully vegetarian as an avid meat eater? What recipes would you recommend?

    I’ve tried to go veggie a couple of times before but failed because while I do like many vegetarian meals, I got tired of cycling through the same ones over and over. I still eat and make a lot of vegetarian food, but I like the option of having meat every once in a while. However I like the idea of going fully vegetarian for environmental reasons.

    1. Filosofickle*

      So here’s a question: Is it actually failing if you can eliminate most of your animal product consumption? If you could master 50% / 70% / 90% meat-free, you’d be achieving something important to you and giving yourself time to adjust and keep eliminating over time. I will never be 100% veg but flexitarian feels doable.

      1. Pandemic Blues*

        This is pretty much where I have fallen. I have not been able to totally eliminate meat, though I would like to. I don’t like a lot of the “meat substitute” products and there are some important family traditions that do involve meat. I would beat myself up for failing at being vegetarian and focus on what I wasn’t achieving.

        Instead, I switched to just focusing on incorporating more vegetarian meals and making these choices when I can. I basically have meat-free dinners 2-3 times a week, up from once a week before. When I order out, I look for vegetarian or pescatarian options first. I avoid meat options at breakfast. I started making salads with nuts and seeds instead of chicken for lunch.

        Perhaps over time I will switch to being 100% meat-free, but in the meantime, I am always reducing and every reduction does make an impact.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, this is where we are – my husband especially decided he wants to avoid red meat for the most part, we do eat a fair amount of chicken (and I buy a regional brand I trust), sometimes turkey, very occasional pork and almost no beef. And we try meat alternatives sometimes (Impossible is good), etc. As the saying goes, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

      3. Pocket Mouse*

        Yep. Going from 600 meat-based meals a year to 10 or 20 is pretty darn good, environmentally speaking. If the alternative is trying to do 100% vegetarian, finding it doesn’t work for you, and going back to a full meat-based diet… try the 90% veggie route for a while. Also, look into which animal meats and which meat sources (e.g. local vs. distant, grass vs. feed) are relatively better for the environment.

        Also, my advice is to figure out which protein options a) fill you up and b) don’t disappoint by trying and failing to replicate meat. You can find a rhythm that works for you!

      4. Alexis Rosay*

        Same here. Where I’ve fallen is that in a given week I aim to cook no more than one chicken and one meat dinner, with the rest being vegetarian, plus 100% vegetarian breakfast & lunches (unless eating leftovers from a meat dinner).

        I know being vegetarian would be best, but I’m okay with where I am.

      5. talos*

        Personally, I’ve found that being 100% vegetarian is much easier to enforce. Nobody can talk me into eating a cheat meal with them at Meat-Only Restaurant, because I don’t eat cheat meals. Nobody gets confused or upset about my adherence to my eating habits.

        If you can actually stick to 10-20 meat meals a year, more power to you! But I’ve always found that to be hard.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Oh yes, good point. I keep an outward vegetarian persona, and only eat meat (almost entirely fish) at home or with my partner. I try to keep it simple for all other people I might eat a meal out with or who might cook for/with me.

    2. Eden*

      Totally agree with Filosfickle. I’m a meat who’s gone successfully veg so far but it’s just been under a year so we’ll see how long it goes. I consider myself vegetarian but I don’t stress about rennet or gelatin and if I eat meat once, I don’t think that will disqualify me.
      I am planning a trip to somewhere where it will be quite difficult to eat veg full time, and I’m giving myself permission ahead of time to relax about and enjoy my time even if it means eating meat. Like you I am doing this for environmental reasons, which is why I am not worried about 100%. The last 1% of meals isn’t magical, it’s just another 1%

    3. Usually Lurking*

      I am in the same boat as you – I like to eat meat but I know a lot of it is bad for the environment. If you’re just eating meat occasionally, maybe be willing to spend more on getting it from small, ethical places? Most farmer’s markets have a meat stall, many cities have small butchers that will help you source ethical meat, or you can see what’s in your area and reach out to local farmers and ranches. I get a lot of meat from friends that hunt (and I fish and would like to get in to hunting myself as well). There’s options you just need to be willing to spend more money on the meat, but if you’re only eating it once a week that’s far more affordable.

      I cycle through the same four vegetarian recipes for my dinners, and just swap out what the veggies are based on whim and what’s in season. It keeps me from getting bored. If I have more time on my hand, I’ll make a vegetable bean stew, or a curry. Also sweet potatoes are my secret mostly vegetarian weapon – delicious filling and nutritious. Great in a hash, or roasted mashed and stuffed in to tortillas, or roasted and topped with broccoli and cheese for dinner. Mmm sweet potatoes.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I was telling someone the other day, the primary impediment between me and a vegetarian diet is that I don’t like nuts. (And also pepperoni pizza.)

      That’s overly simplistic, but for me it’s less that I LIKE MEAT and more that I don’t care for most easy-to find vegetarian protein options – I don’t like nuts or eggs, my physician has suggested that I minimize my soy intake so tofu is out, I’m not willing to spend money on the commercial meat substitutes. I like beans, but not as an every day food. So I mostly just try for one meal at a time. :)

      1. TechWorker*

        Are ‘commercial meat substitutes’ more expensive than meat where you are?

        Where I am, I think the ordering goes:
        Extremely cheap not very nice meat
        Meat alternatives
        Most other meat

        But I’m sure this varies depending on location.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The ones that are good quality and don’t taste like sad sawdust are more expensive in my experience, yeah, though admittedly I haven’t looked too hard at the options. But I have a big standalone freezer in my garage so I tend to buy my meat 3-4 months worth at a time, and buying in bulk makes it significantly cheaper than if I had to buy it one-off. (I also eat mostly pork and chicken, which are more reasonably priced than beef or such.)

          1. TechWorker*

            That’s fair :) I am quite a bit less strict with my food budget than I was when I was a student/new grad and I think some of the substitutes we get probably are more expensive than chicken (there’s a brand called naked foods that does the best fake bbq chicken ;)). Saying that I don’t eat them every day and eggs/pulses are so much cheaper than meat that I reckon it evens out. (Ofc that might not apply to a diet that’s already focusing on minimal, cheap meat).

      2. Filosofickle*

        Agreed! I find meat kinda boring, actually, but I tire of beans easily, have an allergy to eggs, and my body doesn’t like tofu very much!

      3. Helenteds*

        I am not a huge fan of beans myself (I find them kind of bland), but I do like lentils, specifically the split red ones cooked in broth. They fall apart if you cook them in broth, and you can season it with salt and pepper and garlic and lemon and things like that, or you can make soup. I am not personally vegetarian, but this is protein dish that can be easily made vegetarian (using veggie broth instead of chicken broth).

    5. TechWorker*

      I’ve been vegetarian for about 2 years and ate quite a lot of meat before that. My reasons are also environmental (I did try a period of being ‘flexitarian’ and trying to eat less meat but tbh it didn’t work for me, I found it easier just to draw a line and be like ‘ok, no meat or fish’). I’m not super strict about things like Parmesan or jelly sweets, though I don’t eat either particularly often!

      I do eat meat substitutes and I know someone people don’t like them, but I find them a good way of having a good variety of ‘easy’ meals. That might be harder depending on where you live though, vegetarianism seems to have really kicked off in the U.K. so there’s now a lot of good choice in supermarkets. In terms of getting bored there’s a *lot* of recipes out there that are veggie – could you consider trying 1 or 2 totally new recipes each week to stave off the boredom?

    6. pancakes*

      I was a vegetarian for a long time, between the ages of 12 or so and 23 or 24. I still rarely eat meat, and generally try to limit my consumption of it to trusted sources (in terms of animal welfare – pastured eggs and chickens, local seafood, etc.). If cutting it out entirely doesn’t work for you, reducing your consumption of it is still a great move for environmental reasons.

      It’s hard to recommend recipe sources without knowing more about what you like, but the cookbook Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian is one I recommend to anyone, even committed omnivores. It has lots and lots of good vegetarian recipes but in a broader sense is also a reliable guide to basic preparations for just about any vegetable or grain you can think of. How to cook basmati rice, etc. I also like Meera Sodha’s recipes in the Guardian a lot. They’re vegan but it’s not hard to add an egg or whatnot if you like. The site 101 Cookbooks is good too.

      If I didn’t live near Superiority Burger (NYC) I would enthusiastically recommend their cookbook, too. The food is ridiculously good.

      1. pancakes*

        I came back to put in a word for Bryant Terry recipes, too. I have been making his BBQ tempeh for years.

    7. slmrlln*

      I’m in similar position and Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” has been really helpful for coming up with a new set of go-to weeknight recipes when all my old ones involved meat. I especially like eggplant parmesan (takes a little while to cook but then you can eat leftovers for a couple days), braised lentils, and curried cheese (i.e. paneer, the tomato/mint version is awesome). He gives variations for each recipe, so the braised lentils (for example) can be smoky or spicy or you can put some extra vegetables in.

    8. pieforbreakfast*

      I did it in steps- gave up pork and beef, then chicken a couple years later ( I still miss roasted chicken 12 years later). I still eat fish and seafood. Granted I was poor when I started so couldn’t afford to buy meat and that helped, maybe stick to the idea cheap meat is not an option?
      When looking for recipes think of cuisines that are historically meatless or not meat centered- Indian is a big one- as well as the vegetarian resources. And remember eggs. Tasty tasty eggs.

      1. TechWorker*

        Also just you know, cheese :p there are a huge variety of pasta dishes that are meat free and the protein comes from cheese. And pizza. I think I would really struggle to go vegan (although I’m somewhat half heartedly trying to cut down on dairy).

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 30 years now. I did it in steps, partly to ease my way in & partly because it was a lot harder to eat out or attend family dinners as a full-blown vegetarian back then.

        My SO isn’t vegetarian, but eats a very similar diet to mine & probably has meat once a month at most. (Usually locally & humanely raised.)

        I recommend finding cookbook authors you like to expand your repertoire. I love Mark Bittman’s books. Deborah Madison & Madhuri Jaffrey are also some of my go-to writers, as is America’s Test Kitchen.

        By the same token, I don’t expect everyone to be successful going fully vegetarian (I’ve never been able to go vegan, but l cook a lot of vegan food). To me the goal for people’s & the planet’s health should be cutting back to a sustainable level.

        1. Not a cat*

          My niece is vegan and it’s really hard to cook for her. She isn’t interested in learning, so she eats vegan cookies for lunch and the same takeout dinner tofu/soy sauce/white rice for dinner. No interest in eating actual fruit and veggies unless I stand over her. It’s a real PITA. In her case, I think there’s some excuse-for-disordered eating in her diet choices. I’ve battled ED my whole life, so I know it when I see it.

          1. pancakes*

            Chloe Coscarelli recipes might be worth a try? She started a mini-chain of restaurants in my city called By Chloe and there’s been some drama around investors, but I could happily eat the kale Caesar a few times a week.

    9. Laura H.*


      Cook veggies, rice, add a little (or a lot if you like spice) gochujang (a fermented pepper paste)- it’s pretty good and you can make it with meat or not. Brother uses bell peppers, Texas sweet onion and carrots sliced either longways or like match sticks as the veggies in the stuff he makes usually.

      The pepper paste is what makes it bibimbop.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I went without meat for two years. Mentally and physically it was a disaster and I can’t ever do that again. I envy people who can do it.

      My suggestion is to know where your protein source is at each meal. You may need to use a vegetable based protein drink at first to help fill in the gaps. I used such a drink just in the process of learning to eat solely whole foods. There were days where I just did not plan enough food or I forgot something and the protein drink filled in these gaps.

    11. Jackalope*

      I don’t know if Trader Joe’s is an option where you are, but I have found that their veggie burgers are unexpectedly good. They have two in particular, a veggie masala burger? I think is the name? and a Thai burger, that are both very filling and good. And they take less than 10 min to make, so we often have them on nights when we have little time between work and The Evening Thing.

      1. Jackalope*

        Also, echoing what others said about it not being all or nothing. Cutting back to a couple of meat meals a day and the rest being vegetarian is still a lot less meat. Or I’ll do things like roast a chicken, eat it for a couple of days with some sort of potato (usually mashed), and then save the bones for chicken stock and the meat for other meals. Throwing in a little bit of chicken will fill out a meal a lot but I might only eat a couple of bites with actual meat. With some luck, that one chicken can last me for 3-4 meals plus whatever I use the stock for.

        1. Jackalope*

          Couple of meals a *week* vegetarian, not a day. Sheesh. I think it’s bedtime now.

          1. Jackalope*

            Okay, sorry to keep commenting *to myself*, but I guess I was STILL tired with the “correction” post. I meant that you can have a couple of meals a week with meat, and make the others vegetarian. Okay. I think that’s finally write.

    12. Mephyle*

      I’ve been vegetarian for about half my life (30 years), and the reason it works so well for me is that my prime reason is that I don’t really like meat that much. The environmental reason is the secondary reason, and the two reasons “feed” each other.
      For someone who likes meat, it’s altogether different. There’s the flexitarian option – if it hadn’t been amply discussed already, I would have brought it up.
      Another strategy is to look for cookbooks and online recipes with such searches as {vegetarian recipes for meat lovers}. These recipes attempt to provide the flavours, the heartiness, and/or the satisfaction of eating meat without including the meat. No doubt some of them are better at fulfilling this goal than others, so you’d want to try several. This would also answer your request for more recipes to add to your repertoire.

  46. OyHiOh*

    Calling All Birds! What feathers and beaks have you seen this week?

    So far, I haven’t gone actively looking this week. The usual house sparrows and house finches hanging out, and pigeons. There’s a pair of the most enormous pigeons I’ve ever seen nesting in the tree across from me. They have the coloring of normal pigeons but they look double the size.

    1. Scarlet Magnolias*

      Such beautiful red winged blackbirds, when they puff up their feathers the red shows even more gloriously!

    2. Wishing You Well*

      I have a Northern Flicker pair pounding away in their bird box – for weeks now. I can hear it in the house!
      Lay eggs already!

      1. OyHiOh*

        Could it have been a tanniger (the western variety is bright yellow) or an evening grossbeak (yellow/black)???

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I heard an owl one night this week. There are owls in the region, but I didn’t think any in my vicinity. But apparently one moved in! Of course, I’ll never see him.

      1. OyHiOh*

        The trick to spotting owls: Go out an hour or so before dusk, when they’re out of their nests but not active yet. Look in tall trees on the edge of open grassy/meadow areas. Take binoculars with you. The ones we’ve seen. on average are at least twenty feet up and look like broken tree branches or old squirel nests without magnification.

    4. Antony J Crowley*

      There was a goldfinch in my garden yesterday. I live in a very urban area without a lot of wildlife so I was very excited!

    5. Camelid coordinator*

      This week’s exciting sighting was a bald eagle while I was kayaking on the nearby lake.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My shoulder finally let me put the birdbath back up (I had taken it down for our late freeze). I haven’t spotted birds in it yet, but it was full of dust and feathers when I refilled this morning.
      We had to disappoint one brazen chickadee who started to expand a knot hole in our siding…temporarily it has a cork in it. Little bugger got through the silver waterproofing layer too. WFH saved us a much bigger problem.

    7. Jackalope*

      Lots of birds but the most exciting one was a pileated woodpecker getting breakfast this morning. I watched it for awhile pecking away contentedly on the dead tree.

  47. Come On Eileen*

    Hi all – I am 46, my sister is 47, and her daughter is almost 2. We are renting a 4-bedroom house together starting in July. We are good friends, we are both sober in long-term recovery, and are able to talk about most anything. I’m really looking forward to living with them and playing a bigger role in my niece’s life. That said, renting a house with a sister and a toddler is bound to have some bumps in the road, so I’m wondering if you have any advice, things we should talk about ahead of time, or things to consider that we might not have considered already. One topic that’s come up: how do we split the monthly rent? Is it 50-50 because we are two adults, or should she pay more since she’s bringing two people to the house (and makes probably twice as much as I do) and I’m just me? Let me know if you’ve done this and any pitfalls you encountered that we should be aware of.

    1. Princess Deviant*

      I was going to say you need to discuss finances for sure!
      If one adult is earning more then they should pay proportionately more. Re kids, a little extra on top?
      Have you chatted about how to keep the house clean? That can lead to problems if you each have different expectations about it. And three cold can contribute a little too (of course not to the same extent as an adult, bit they have to learn :))
      It might be a good idea to have a monthly/ad-hoc family meeting where you discuss anything that comes up that you overlooked or are finding difficult.
      Have you also planned for unexpected things such as one of you losing your job? Or if one of you gets a romantic partner, or has guests over?

        1. WellRed*

          The child is not yet two. She won’t be cleaning but is likely to create constant mess so if that’s a concern that’s something you’ll need to work out. I’d also make sure your sister won’t automatically think of you as the default sitter. Also, I think your sister should pay a bit more not because she makes more money but because there’s two of them.

          1. Joan Rivers*

            Yes. If she suddenly needs to run to the store she’d love you to “sit” but that can escalate into chaos.
            If she keeps to a routine and stays organized, it can work. You could take a long nap or read if she goes out during baby’s nap.
            But random, sudden “trips” can be a bad habit. Even if they’re quick, they hold you hostage in your life. Better a longer, planned trip. Keep her to not taking you for granted. Make it work for you as well as baby.

          2. RagingADHD*

            A 2 year old can “help” with simple chores like throwing out trash or putting their toys away, but it’s less actual cleaning and more of a game that gets them used to the general idea.

    2. PX*

      I’ve not done it but in some ways, the “standard” things that you’d want to discuss with any roommate still apply:
      – cooking and cleaning expectations (are you doing shared meals or individual meals? how clean should things be?)
      – guests (both romantic and not – do you want notice if people are coming over? how long can people stay? can *anyone* come over at any time? time limits on how long people can stay?)
      – privacy expectations – are you sharing a living room? what if you just want some time alone? are bedrooms off limits?
      – insurance is a good one – if stuff breaks, who pays for it? are there expectations for *your* stuff vs shared stuff?

      I definitely recommend thinking about this stuff in advance and talking it out (and maybe even writing it out!) to make sure you are on the same page, but also making sure there is a plan for open communication as there will likely be things that crop up along the way that you need to be able to discuss!

    3. Aly_b*

      Talk about what will be shared vs private, including food and cooking, household supplies like cleaning materials, and items in shared spaces like pans or cooking knives, or even things like board games or books or whatever that could get broken. What is the plan for replacing those in the event something does happen (look, there’s a toddler, somethings gonna happen). Do you have a shared account or pool of money for that kind of thing, does whoever messed it up replace it, what about normal wear and tear?

      For food, does anyone have allergies that would restrict how you cook or necessitate extra clean up before they might come into contact with the allergen? Do you want to have a way to mark special food (if you decide to share some stuff) that is special or is allocated for dinner tomorrow or whatever?

      Have a plan for alone time vs together time. You will both want to be in the public areas of the house without really being social sometimes. How do you indicate that or establish those moments?

      I’m sure you’ve gone through some of this but what can you do on your own with your nibling vs what do you need mom’s permission for? If she asks you for a snack, say, or if you need to stop her from doing something. Also, what are your boundaries around watching the kiddo?

      And as always with roommates talk cleaning early and often. Don’t assume you have the same expectations, plans, or methods. Someone may have to compromise. But always easier to talk through it than to just seethe inside with no plan for change.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      You can agree to any rent and utility split you both like. She might pay more because she’s “2 people”.
      Put everything in writing and have both adults sign it. You REALLY want to avoid misunderstanding with your sister later on. Writing it all down is the best way to avoid that.
      Best of Luck

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      On the rent division – are they sharing a room or is the munchkin getting her own? I would say that if she’s taking up two bedrooms, then she should definitely pay a larger portion of the rent, and in that case I would push for a 34/66 split in your favor. (On the other hand, if she’s getting a her-bedroom and a kiddo-bedroom, and you’re getting a you-bedroom and a you-office, then we’d be back to a more even split, though I think I would still request something like a 40/60, between the kiddo and the “she makes twice as much as you do” part.

      Beyond the rent thing:
      discuss chore breakdown – do your ideas of “clean” match up? Are there chores that someone absolutely hates that can be traded off? (I don’t take out the trash if I can help it, but I empty the dishwasher 100% of the time instead.) Do you want to take turns, or just assign specific chores? Is hiring someone to do some of the cleaning an option to minimize disagreement? If so, who’s taking point on handling that, and include it in the discussion of the bills.

      discuss your willingness to babysit (anytime? Ask me first? Only if you’re paying me?)

      plan ahead how you’re going to handle bills (who’s name are they in, who’s responsible for actually paying them, do you each pay a portion of each one or do you pay the internet while she pays the water or whatever.) Also, services. Netflix or Hulu, a Shipt membership, DashPass, anything like that? It might be a good idea to create a shared email address that you can both access to use only for utilities, communication with the landlord, etc, so in an emergency you can both access it and you’re not going “Which one of her twelve email addresses did she use when she set up the electricity account again?” Likewise, make sure you both have the login information for those things and are listed as authorized users. The bill division question goes to rent as well after you figure out your split – Is one of you paying the other, who then pays the landlord, or are you each writing a check (or transfer or whatever) every month separately?

      plan for the groceries (are you sharing or not, who’s meal planning and/or cooking, who’s shopping, who’s paying, how do you distinguish communal cheese from my fancy-ass nobody eats it but me cheese)

      Is anybody likely to want pets? Have that discussion – in my house, we agreed no more free-ranging pets without extensive discussion and agreement from all parties, but I don’t care what contained pets anybody has so long as they don’t have more than four legs, eat live crickets or get big enough to eat the cats. (So my brother has four snakes of varying sizes and a tegu.) Better to have a plan before niece gets old enough to start yelling that she wants a kitty :)

      Visitors? I get aggressively uncomfortable having strangers in my house, so our agreement was that people don’t get invited over unless I have met them at least once outside of the house. (Also, my husband used to be a “we don’t even HAVE keys to this door, people can just come in whenever” type of guy while I got a smart-lock so my door is never unlocked for more than two minutes and I don’t even open the door to friends who haven’t been invited over, let alone let them in, so that was a huge adjustment for him. That said, he prefers my way now :P ) (Yes, I am fiercely territorial about my house, it’s a Thing. I’d rather hang out with people elsewhere anyway.)

      Renter’s insurance; you probably want to check with an agent to make sure you can get a policy that covers you both rather than each of you having to have an individual one if possible.

      Related to kid: you should probably be listed as an alternative contact on school/daycare forms when kiddo gets big enough that that’s an option, assuming there aren’t reasons not to do (I don’t know what those reasons might be, but I don’t have kids at all, let alone with a non-resident father, so I dunno if custody arrangements might be weird or whatever)

      You bring up the “sober in long-term recovery” – do you want to have a plan for what happens if either of you slips there? Just a thing to consider.

    6. PollyQ*

      Have explicit discussions about what kind of role you’ll play with her daughter. Default babysitter? Additional kinda sorta parent? Will you have the authority to discipline? Will you be weighing in on major parenting decisions? Helping to set house rules for daughter’s behavior? I think you & your sister will need to have a series of discussions on this, both before you move in and after, since child-rearing is such a constantly changing situation.

      And I’d expect money to affect this. I think it’s very reasonable for your sis to pay more, both because she can afford it and because there are 2 of them, but that may put you in the position of being a subordinate, rather than an equal.

      1. Zooey*

        I think this is really crucial! It’s hard if you’re sharing a house and have a familial relationship to not slip into a semi coparenting situation. You need to have really clear shared expectations that everyone is happy with before you enter into this otherwise the potential for conflict is massive.

    7. Anono-me*

      Many people that I know divide the rent according to the square footage of the bedrooms (bathroom in the master suit included). Utilities get divided per person, until someone has a unique usage.

      I would say this situation makes it very important that you discuss every roommate and coparenting/step parenting issue that you can think of then find a point of agreement and then WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. Renegotiate after six months and then annually. The goal is to protect your family relationship and prevent misunderstandings and hurt feelings due to assumptions, miscommunication or misremembering.

      Good luck in your new home.

    8. Hibiscus*

      My sister and I moved in together in November 2019, and it’s been okay. She was getting divorced and did not want to move the children, I told her I paid $1200 for a month for rent and utilities and would give that to her. Her children were 8 and 10; the birth of her kids had made us closer over the years. I had to buy a car because I could no longer use public transit to get to work. I also bought an air purifier for my room because I brought my cats.

      My philosophy on all this is that I came to be a help and an extra set of hands and ears for the kids. Our financial arrangement is informal. I mostly eat at work, but will offer to pick up things or dog food. I buy the kids books and cat t shirts in addition to ice cream and occasional meals out. I listen to complaints and defer to parents’ values; I give my easy-going nephew 1::1 attention he might not get otherwise.

      I would say your sister should pay more of the monthly bills because she makes more, like how it’s better for couples to split proportional to income. Decide up front what level of cleanliness you agree on and what rules are re: your niece. I would cultivate habits of non-reactivity and having conversations when calm.

  48. Anon for this*

    Hi everyone,

    I’m a regular here and I know you guys are really knowledgeable about mental health issues and I was wondering if you could help me with something. My college-age relative has unspecified mental health conditions and it is fairly serious. Relative has been involuntarily hospitalized twice this school year and from what I am hearing through the family grapevine is on the brink of a third crisis currently. (I am using “they” pronouns for privacy purposes; they are cisgender.)

    The issue is, they are dependent on their parents to support them and help them navigate care, but their parents are a dangerous combination of uneducated on mental health and in denial of how ill they is. Both parents think that “buck up, you don’t have it that bad!” counts as care.

    I am desperately looking for education resources I can send to them to (hopefully) help the parents understand and learn more about the subject. Most of my knowledge on mental health issues comes from years of reading the comments of advice columns and advice subreddits, and that’s not a concrete enough resource to refer people to.

    I already sent along the NAMI Friends and Family website, which I really liked.

    Thank you!

    1. ThatGirl*

      Are they in college? I think you should focus more in helping your young relative if you can. Their college probably has a counseling center; those folks won’t be able to discuss anything directly with you but can be a resource for the student and help them navigate care. Also, NAMI may be a good resource for you.

      1. Anon for this*

        Unfortunately, I can’t really help them. I live super-far away and they are impossible to get in touch with when they are in a bad place. I’ve tried reaching out, so have some other relatives, but we’ve been ignored. I’m not sure if the counseling center is going to be an option, they are home for the summer and it sounds like the school may not allow them to come back in the fall due to their grades.

        But my parents are super close to their parents, and are providing some moral support, and I can make sure that they are well informed so that in turn they can provide good advice and resources. I know it’s not a lot but it’s all I can do and I’d rather do something than nothing, you know?

        1. ThatGirl*

          I understand the impulse but I think you’re going to have to let go of the idea that you can do much through the grapevine. Your concern is sweet and you can give your parents resources to pass along but this is apparently third-hand information?

    2. A313*

      I agree with ThatGirl, that if you can help your relative directly, that’s probably better. We had the same situation (no hospitalizations, but serious). Their parent wasn’t really in a position to be helpful, either. We found them a therapist (not through the university, although that would have been at least a great starting point). And the therapist was open to us “reporting” on what we saw and how things seemed to be going, which I think led to them asking relative about things that they weren’t always self-reporting but needed to be addressed (drug abuse, especially).

      I am sorry, because I know how hard this is, especially when the parent/s can’t be as helpful as needed and you feel you have less standing. Sometimes, just being there for them makes a big difference. Our relative is now graduated and working a job they enjoy! I could not have pictured this outcome during the worst of it all, though. Good luck!

    3. ten four*

      Oh dear, I’m so sorry. We dealt with something similar a few years ago and it’s been pretty dreadful. The book I found most helpful when I had to get myself educated in a HURRY is “I am not sick and I don’t need help.” I don’t know if it would fit the bill here because the parents are the ones who need convincing, but I wonder if it might be a face saving way to get them information? Like: “Oh, this is so hard to manage, this resource is for concerned family like you!”

      The main thing concerned family can do is to work with the person with the issue to put a plan in place for what to do if they have an episode. Things like: who is the medical support we call? What do you want us to tell your job? Do you need us to freeze your bank account? You need all the numbers and all the health insurance information and agreement on when to invoke a hold. The individual needs to agree to it, and this can basically only happen when they’re in a good place.

      I’m so sorry, none of this is easy. My loved one’s immediate family missed the window for making a plan between episodes and the whole thing exploded in spectacular fashion. On the other hand, my loved one is…okay now. I try to remember that it might have been better but it could have been a LOT worse.

      I wish you peace and support on this. It’s very hard.

    4. Pam Adams*

      Check with their university- my campus has an emergency alert system that anyone can use to alert folks about problems, and someone will reach out to the student. Even if it’s summer or they are on probation, someone should be available.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Unfortunately, it sounds rather like your relative is the “designated patient” in the family, and the parents’ denial is deeply connected to the root issues that are causing these crises. I doubt they are willing to do any reading on family systems, but it would probably do them good. It might be a topic you can point out to your parents, anyway.

      If your relative is over 18 and has the means/access to contact help or other family members directly, there’s probably not much more you can do.

  49. Pandemic Blues*

    Anyone starting to feel left out now that the “re-opening” is in full swing?

    My area has recently switched to the “honor system” guidance provided by the CDC with regards to masks and the capacity limits are all off; some businesses are keeping their own restrictions, but many have also just abandoned them. Most folks I know are starting to loosen their personal restrictions or have totally cast them off. I am vaccinated,but there is a young child in my bubble, for whom no vaccine currently exists, so I am still being careful.

    And what’s more… I feel changed by this whole experience. It isn’t as if I naively thought the government always had our best interests at heart, but I thought that when push came to shove, an emergency situation like this would be different. I feel that I cannot trust our institutions the way I used to, nor can I even trust the people around me the way I want to. I’m not walking around being judge and jury, but many of my friends and colleagues did things during the pandemic that they classified as safe, but which definitely carried significant risk according to the guidance, so seeing them now feels a bit fraught. This weekend, a bunch of my friends are getting together for the first time and the activities they chose were all indoor places where masks will not be worn, which I find too personally risky and which breaks the boundaries of the other members of my bubble. Additionally, though I do not want to be 100% at home with no outside socialization, I do want to reconsider my relationship to activities and focus on doing things I really enjoy, not things I am doing just to feel included (like going to bars and such).

    Additionally, I changed in some positive ways during this pandemic. I’m kinder to myself and more respectful of myself. I have been trying to get better about practicing all forms of self-care. I’m learning more about what I really appreciate in life and trying to connect with those things. I’ve spoken up for my needs and wants. I’ve really been doing well, personally. I’m not all the way to where I want to be, but I am moving forward in a way I wasn’t before the pandemic.

    But it’s lonely. Even if I know this is what is best for me right now, it’s lonely watching my friends make plans that I am not a part of. It’s lonely not feeling a part of things, but also… not feeling like there are things for you to be a part of. I know that some of this is anxiety and all I will have to work through, but it’s just a weird position of feeling like I am in the best place mentally I have been in for years, and yet there is still so much of life that feels like it doesn’t fit.

    Can anyone else relate?

    1. RagingADHD*

      My area stopped having hard lockdowns a year ago, so I’ve pretty much had this all along.

      Now that I & most of my friends are vaxxed (but my kids aren’t yet), there are more options. So I’m taking the initiative to invite people for things. That way I’m not just waiting for something to come along. I have control over the safety level & guest list.

    2. Ice Bear*

      It sounds like you might have to seek out new friendships if you’re not into the same things. You can still be friends with these people, but maybe finding new people who have interests that align better with yours would make you feel less lonely. Easier said than done, I understand.

    3. Girasol*

      I meet my best (vaccinated, careful) friends maskless for outdoor activity and after this long lonely year that’s been lovely. But even though I’m vaccinated too, I’m still not doing anything indoors maskless, and even with a mask the only indoor place I go is our cavernous grocery store. I’m still politely avoiding other friends who are more cavalier about covid. I do feel left out, and more, I’m annoyed at the people who say, “There there, you don’t need to be so afraid!” I’m not afraid, dammit. I’m following the guidance given for people who live with someone at risk. As our state trails most of the country in vaccinations, I can only hope that covid doesn’t drag on forever here.

  50. Next Month(er)*

    Starting trying for kids next month (*knock on wood*). A lot of our friends are childfree or suffered a miscarriage or prolonged infertility. How do I treat them all with sensitivity when we’re further along in the process? I know not everyone wants kids or if they want them can’t always have them. And besides Emily Oster’s book, I’ve ordered Becoming Mama/Motherly, and read Bringing Up BeBe. Any other book recs? I want to mentally prepare myself. Plus I had an overly rigid corporal punishment upbringing and want to parent differently from how I was raised.

    1. matcha123*

      I’m a childfree person and I’m happy to help with kids.
      The assumptions I encounter are that I don’t want kids because I’m weird or I hate responsibility. The reality is that I don’t want kids because I spent my childhood acting as a second parent to my younger sibling. Most of my childfree friends are in the same boat, in that we have extensive experience with babies, toddlers, etc.
      So, depending on your cf friends’ backgrounds, you might feel comfortable talking with them about child issues. Ask them and ask them about their experience with kids!

      Honestly, with childfree people (excluding really dense people) we get it. We know how hard parenting is and that’s why we don’t want to do it. Don’t assume we don’t know.

      I can’t give advice on miscarriages. As long as you aren’t gloating and calling them losers or something, honestly I think you will be fine.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I babysat a lot, was a live-in nanny, and a Big Sister for 5 years as well as mentoring a lot of neglected kids. They find you if they’re running loose on the block.

        So I’m childless but know some things. Lots of us do.

      2. Double A*

        I really liked the Mayo Clinic books on pregnancy and babies. They’re factual and evidence based and you can use them more as a reference book. It’s a good basic to have in your library.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      As a certified Infertile Person: if you are lucky enough to get pregnant quickly, tell your infertile friends via text or email or any other way besides an in-person surprise. Don’t expect them to perform instant happiness for you. Don’t be surprised if they feel the need to withdraw from you during your pregnancy. It’s not you, it’s an effort to protect themselves. Have other topics of conversation besides your pregnancy/impending parenthood.

    3. Analyst Editor*

      I always recommend this blog to my friends: https://www.drpsychmom.com/
      While I don’t agree with every post, I think it’s sane and good advice, with good book recommendations and relationship advice – more so than the standard mommy blogger.

    4. Cambridge Comma*

      That sounds like enough baby books, more would be a variation on the theme, though the parenting chapter of the original Freakonomics is quite good at putting things in perspective. But luckily babies aren’t a test you have to study for.
      A good investment of your reading time would be any book that works on you. Anything you can do to improve your mental state, reduce anxiety and increase decisiveness and confidence would help you as a parent.

    5. Ranon*

      How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen is years ahead of where you need to be but may be reassuring. Plus it works great on grownups too.

      In podcasts, the archives from Longest Shortest Time are wonderful and cover a wide range of topics.

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        Seconding How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen. You read about other parents learning the principles, so you get to see conventional parenting “wisdom” picked apart and shown to be ineffectual (and often illogical!), which may help you avoid falling into the kind of parenting you grew up with. Also, “Nurtureshock” is a collection of essays on different ages and developmental milestones; it’s wide ranging and very well done.

    6. Fellow Traveller*

      Two recent books about pregnancy/ early motherhood I really liked were Like and Mother and Now We Have Everything. I read them last year, after my third child was born, and they really spoke to me. Also they both are pretty frank about C-sections, which I feel like Oster kind of glosses over. They aren’t “self-help” really, just some really honest writing about becoming a parent. I sometimes hesitate to recommend these books to people in the TTC stage because they are so raw, but I think Like A Mother is kind of like Expecting Better with an edge.
      I found these books through this blogger who shares some really great resources:

    7. RagingADHD*

      We found the books Happiest Baby on the Block (and Happiest Toddler) very helpful, as well as Wonder Weeks. We also used BabySign with our first (not so much the second, because I rarely had a free hand!)

      One common thread that often comes up in rigid or punitive upbringing, is unrealistic expectations that are out of alignment with children’s body and brain development — often overestimating a child’s self-control or self-management, and underestimating their ability to perceive what’s going on around them, or understand explanations.

      Learning to communicate with your child will go a long way toward re-setting your parenting style. It’s also great for their development and helps you communicate better with grownups, too.

      1. Mountain Home Kid*

        2nd the “Happiest” series! Would not have survived without them! If you have a partner with whom you will be sharing parenting responsibilities, start talking now about how you think that will look. You don’t know what it’s like until you get there, but the more you discuss now the fewer misunderstandings later.

    8. Next Month(er)*

      Thanks all! Will check out the links.

      As of now I’ve got:
      Becoming Mama
      Like a Mother
      Raising Bebe
      Emily Oster’s book

      And will def add more to the reading list as the months go on….

  51. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    Dog question…nibbling. Last year, just before the pandemic hit, my parents adopted a 9-month old boxer/german shepherd mix from the shelter. We know he was taken from a hoarder situation. It’s taken time (very nervous and fearful) but he’s seemed to finally settle in except for nibbling on people/clothes…those little bites like he scratching an itch…he’s not aggressive like he’s “biting” it’s almost as if when he really feels happy and lovey he nibbles. Obviously this is not good behavior especially now that he’s pretty much an adult dog, but we’re reluctant to correct him sternly when he’s showing “happy,” right? Putting a toy in his mouth to nibble on doesn’t work…he wants to nibble on his human that he loves. He’s a very sweet dog but super high energy. Any suggestions?

    1. Reba*

      What worked for my relatives’ dog was to just immediately withdraw attention when nips happen — not to jerk away, because that can look like playing, but just stop engaging, step away, no nice feedback when the teeth are out. Then affection and praise or reward when the nipping stops. Same as any other training really! They can also try training the dog to be calm when being petted, some dogs do get riled up when getting loved on. Look for tips on teaching “calm” or “settle.”

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      My Doberman puppy liked to do this. The toy redirection does work, it just takes some time to find the right toy and you have to be very consistent. For us, the items that do work for redirection are crinkle toys, Benebones (the chicken flavor that is shaped like a wishbone), or a rope toy.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. I agree with this. And the dog needs to be told NO each and every time. When I say no to my dogs, I make an angry face and wag my index finger. It takes a moment for them to catch on, but they soon learn the angry face and wagging finger means they made a poor choice. I also taught them the word “toy”.

        So this looks like:

        “NO!” [angry face, wagging finger] then “Where is your toy?” [redirect to appropriate item]. They take the toy and then I praise them. “Good, dog.”

        1. HamlindigoBlue*

          Yes! The negative consequence is so important, especially when you’re dealing with a strong minded working breed.

    3. Anono-me*

      Most (but not all) dogs dislike the taste of bitter apples or bitter orange. Could you spray some on your clothes and hands where puppy likes to nibble?

      1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        this worked for us pretty quickly (along with a “no” and redirction0 – just be careful to not touch your face if you have it on your hands

    4. Hornets*

      If the behavior is inappropriate/dangerous, you need to correct that immediately regardless of whether it is happening because you l the dog is “happy”!

      Since it doesn’t sound anywhere close to breaking skin, you could try what Reba has suggested as a low key way to try to correct the behavior. This is how I got my dog to stop jumping up on me when he was excited. (Unfortunately, it just means that he jumps up on people who don’t ignore him, so a dog doesn’t necessarily generalize his behavior to all people.)

      If he does not stop or continues to do it with others, you need to try more direct methods of stopping him. I would consult with a trainer in that case. Local animal shelters may have recommendations of trainers, or ask around with your friends.

      But either way, you need to stop this behavior before it gets worse. Don’t NOT train him just because you feel bad about hurting his feelings. Your dog will still love you.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My dog does that with the cat (who seems to really enjoy it) and with my other dog (who does not GAF either way), but she’s never done it with people. We read up on it and yeah, it’s a sign of affection, almost a social grooming type behavior. We haven’t put any effort into trying to stop her, because her targets are neutral to positive about it, but if it was a problem, I would aim for redirection without being stern about it, and see how that goes?

    6. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I agree with HamlindigoBlue. My pup was only successfully redirected when we figured out she would groom certain textured plushies. Things with giant corduroy stripes, raised dots or swirls, basically any contrasting or exaggerated nap. She like it best if someone would sit with her and hold the toy, I guess because it’s still a bonding activity? She’d lose interest much quicker if you try to hand her the toy and turn away.

  52. Eden*

    Would love any insights people have about choosing a housesitter and what to consider and discuss. I’ve placed an ad on a site and had a message already, may wait for a few more. What would you discuss with someone before trusting them with your space and your pets for multiple weeks?

    I’ve read the practical tips (figure out place for valuables, leave detailed instructions, etc) but wondering hoe to judge “fit” over zoom?

    1. Aphrodite*

      It would have to be someone I knew very, very, very well because there is no way I am taking a risk with my cats. I want them in the home, safe, protected, well fed and yes, spoiled. I don’t want someone who might be even slightly careless.

      But even people you know well may have very different living standards. They may love your pets and take the best care of them but will they do the dishes after every meal and snack? Will they take care of your washer & dryer, be careful with your dishes and your books, not be tempted to remove any little thing because they have grown fond of it and want to take it with them? The problem is especially acute with strangers; you just don’t know if they have friends who would come over, if they misuse alcohol or use drugs you wouldn’t approve of, turn music and television on very loud, hassle the neighbors. And so much more.

      While this is no guarantee, have you considered trying to find a senior citizen who would maybe love a break from roommates?

    2. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      If you can’t get someone you already know and trust, I’d honestly hire two people. One to do most everything, and one to just stop by once a day for a single feeding and to check that all’s well. Be honest with them both that that’s what you’re doing, but it ensures that neither is likely to flake and that your pets will still be okay if anything truly unforeseen happens to one person. Definitely arrange for a quick picture via text once a day or at feeding times, and make sure your vet has permission to do whatever level of treatment you’re okay with in an emergency if they can’t get in touch with you right away.

  53. the cat's ass*

    OMG, The Plot!!! Even better than ‘You Should Have Known” (which was better than the TV adaptation “The Undoing”, don’t @me)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Sort of? I actually just read it last night – my library had it on the “get it right now but only for seven days instead of the normal 21” list. I’m not generally a fan of mystery stories without some sort of other hook to them as well, but on this one the framing of the story was a decent secondary hook that also kinda seemed to be winking at itself (that sounds weird, but I can’t figure out how to further elaborate on what I mean without giving away key plot points that would be spoilers).

    1. I Can Go Outside Now*

      Do you mean The Pact? That is amazing. I finished watching today and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a show that celebrates women’s friendships and bonds. It’s a crime mystery about a prank gone horribly wrong and how the 5 coworkers cope in the aftermath of what they’ve done

    2. AGD*

      I read ‘Admission’ (because I work in higher ed but not admissions and have long been unreasonably curious about how they do what they do). Liked the characters and thought the amount of work that went into the background research was hugely impressive. I’m going to keep a lookout for ‘The Plot’ now!

  54. Lilo*

    Any recommendations for Instant Pot meals, particularly kid friendly ones? I bought an Instant Pot because it’s supposed to be helpful for busy moms, but I honestly haven’t used it much and I feel bad about it.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Chicken and rice with brown rice – Ifoodreal has a good recipe but there are many variations with different flavorings and vegetables (eg onion and carrot versus peppers and onions versus garlic and ginger and peas)

    2. Pharmgirl*

      I have made risotto in it that came out pretty good. I think there’s also recipes for one pot pasta dishes that are kid friendly.

    3. Almost Academic*

      Our most common IP meals are not the most kid-friendly, but maybe they’re a starting point for inspiration?

      Instant Pot Beef And Broccoli – 365 days of slow and pressure cooking
      Instant Pot Lasagna Soup – Vegan Richa
      Instant Pot Butter Chicken – Urvashi Pitre
      Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili – Well Plated by Erin

    4. Aealias*

      My favourite is a risotto recipe that’s actually quick and easy, and my kids love it. Link to follow.

      Otherwise I most often use it as a crockpot (for soups and stews) so it can cook all day while I’m out.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Agree. Solid site where they actually do extensive testing of recipes.

    5. Second Breakfast*

      Chicken tacos and pulled pork are two of my toddler’s instant pot favorites. I also use it to make yogurt a lot.

    6. Camelid coordinator*

      This is another vote for butter chicken by Urvashi Pitre (two sleevers website). I save the sauce for an easy later meal with shrimp. Kiddo liked spaghetti and meatballs (I used a recipe from the kitchn) and really likes ribs in the instant pot. The biggest hit has been cheesecake but that is not what you are looking for, sorry.

    7. Fellow Traveller*

      I have an Instant Pot and three kids, and I will say, I don’t think it is necessarily the wonder appliance for busy mothers that it is touted to be. There is a bit of a learning curve, and the food is rarely as tasty as making it on the stovetop and things always take longer than I think because of having to wait for the pot to come to pressure and to release pressure. I give you full permission to decide it’s not for you and pass it along guilt free (not that you need permission from a random internet stranger).
      Having said that, I use mine about three times a week, and this is what I do find it helpful for (and our eating tends to skew primarily vegetarian):
      – batch cooking dried beans (Not time saving, really, but definitely money saving.)
      -making a large batch of hardboiled/jammy eggs that are super easy to peel. Good for quick easy breakfasts or snacks.
      -cooking grains for a side. Brown rice cooks in about 30 mins, which is great because I prefer brown to white rice.
      -making paneer or yogurt (cheaper and tastier than store bought. But also, more time consuming than just buying, so….)
      – cooking things from frozen when I’ve forgotten to defrost something (I don’t have a microwave). I can cook salmon from frozen in 12 minutes, and I can throw in frozen chicken thighs and a sauce and have dinner done in less than an hour. The above mentioned Butter Chicken recipe is really good for this.
      – Make ahead soups or curries for those days when the kids have dance class or what not.
      – one pot spaghetti and meatballs. You can cook the sauce, meatballs and noodles all at once so it makes clean up really easy. It doesn’t taste as good as cooking everything separate, but it’s faster and easier so I’ll take it. (https://www.thekitchn.com/instant-pot-spaghetti-meatballs-22987529)
      Two cookbooks I’ve found really good are Milk Street Fast and Slow, and Indian Instant Pot by Urvashi Pitre (the Butter Chicken lady). I’ll also say, my kids are pretty non-discriminating in terms of taste so they will eat pretty much whatever is in front of them.

    8. not that Leia*

      2 extremely picky kids here, and I end up using the IP more for components than full meals—brown rice, shredded chicken, etc.

    9. Aurora Leigh*

      We use ours most often for cooking frozen meet — pulled pork, chicken wings, chicken breasts, etc. So great not having to remember to thaw things!

      Also makes the best hard boiled eggs!

  55. matcha123*

    I am looking for towels that are rough.

    Maybe this is TMI, but after a shower, rough towels are the best for dead skin removal. However, it seems like the super soft, micro-fiber towels completely out-number the rough towels of my youth.
    I’m looking for brands that are on Amazon or have international shipping. Quality ones are preferred. I can find thin, cheap ones in my area, but I don’t want to be replacing them every few months. (How often do towels need replacing?)

    1. Reba*

      Do you like waffle towels? those direct to consumer ‘luxury’ linens brands (Brooklinen etc) offer those. More costly but what about linen?

      1. matcha123*

        I have seen the waffle ones, but I haven’t tried them. Nor have I looked into linen. I will keep those in mind the next time I get to the department store. Thank you!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I use a loofa sponge in the shower for this reason.

        I am trying to remember if you are in the US. Maybe not? But if so, Walmart has loofas.

      2. matcha123*

        I’ve actually been using one of those exfoliating cloths for over a decade, and they are my go-to for showering. But post-shower, I need a towel with rough fabric to really pull off that final layer of dead skin haha

    2. DistantAudacity*

      …stupid question; I assume you line dry instead of tumble dry them?

      I’ve been perfectly pleased with my Ikea towels for several years, but they do loose their roughness after first use after laundry. They are comfortable, but not super-thick.
      So you may just have to have newly laundered, line-dried towels very often :)

      1. matcha123*

        I do line dry! No space for a drier in my apartment. There’s an Ikea near me, I will give their towels a look the next time I’m in the area. Never thought of them!

    3. A313*

      There are Japanese exfoliating towels available on Amazon very inexpensively. They are for use in-shower though, I think. They seem popular, although I haven’t used them.

      1. Yellow Warbler*

        I have these! The Salux Beauty Skin Cloth. They are fantastic, you just need to be careful not to overdo it. My husband got a little carried away trying to slough off his psoriasis plaques and rubbed himself raw.

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        I use simple cotton towels, but when I wash them, I don’t use fabric conditioner, and I also air dry on a washing line.

    4. pancakes*

      They’re not exactly rough, but we have some waffled ones from Onsen that are really nice.

      For exfoliating I really like these scrubby things I buy from Vitacost called Earth Therapeutics Exfoliating Hydro Towel. It’s basically a giant washcloth. Feels good to use and inexpensive to replace.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I buy $1.99 ikea towels for dog towels (because I don’t care if they get muddy or slobbered on or whatever and my dogs dirty up way more towels than I do so I can’t just keep my old ones for hand-me-downs) and they stay pretty rough even machine washing and drying. And I think all the ones I have are at least three years old, so they last pretty well too, despite being $2 towels.

    6. Teatime is Goodtime*

      We live in an area with very hard water and do not own a dryer. This is means that pretty much all the towels end up rough, no matter how expensive or soft they were to begin with. Are you living somewhere with very soft water, especially compared to where you grew up? Are you tumble drying rather than line drying? That’s where I would start.

      1. matcha123*

        The one good, rough towel I have does exactly what yours do why I dry them outside. But, it was about $50 for one small towel (a European brand) and I would like to check other prices and brands before seeing if I should shell out for that brand again.
        The rough towel is my main towel, with one other so-so one and two more soft ones.
        The towels of my youth were the cheapest, no-name brand towels from JC Pennys or Sears. I brought some with me when I moved out, but had to toss them a few years ago because I couldn’t get the the mildewy smell out of them. Washing and drying outside. Very sad day.

    7. Pam Adams*

      Early in the pandemic, when I was avoiding the laundromat, I bought Amazon Basics towels and washcloths. They are nicely rough, but not cardboardy/stiff.

      My towels tend to last for years- only eventually devolving into rags/dog beds.

    8. Salad Daisy*

      All cotton towels are the way to go. They add the polyester etc. to make them softer. Also, skip the fabric softener, obviously. And if you really want them to feel like a board, dry them outside. I have some Cannon towels that I bought from Sears that are perfect. Good price point, just the right amount of roughness. Sears is no longer in business but I believe the Cannon-Fieldcrest brand is still available online.

    9. WS*

      I have cotton towels over a decade old that are still pleasantly rough and absorbent as long as I line-dry them (can be inside).

    10. allathian*

      I hear you and I love rough towels, too. Don’t use any fabric softener and let them dry on a clothesline. Ours are cotton or a cotton/linen mix terrycloth and they don’t seem to wear out at all. In fact, our son uses a couple of towels that my husband used as a kid… We live in an area where the water is very soft, to the point that I use limescale remover on our coffee maker and kettle like once a year.

      1. matcha123*

        Sounds like I need to check for cotton or cotten/linen mix.
        I’ve always bought by touch. I was so excited when the microfiber towels/super absorbent ones came out when I was a teen. And I was so disappointed after I used my first one. I’m sure a lot of people like them.
        I also had a towel with a little hood on it when I was a small child that I used until my mom told me I really needed to use an adult towel. It was such a good towel. Why am I writing so much about towels?!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And if a hooded towel would be a pleasure in a pandemic, I’ll be the Internet auntie who says you should get one. I checked etsy and “hooded adult towel” has many pages of results.
          As for regular towels I’m kind of fond of cheap cotton ones from Walmart….same here, I like them scratchy.

    11. Dream Jobbed*

      I am way too late on this – but Ikea waffle towels do it for me. And they are cheap! I hate the fluffy soft ones that don’t remove water, much less anything else.

  56. Caduceus*

    Has anyone here ever worked with a personal trainer? Did you find it worth it? How did you go about finding one?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I did. When I was recovering from a broken foot with complications, I managed to walk again but couldn’t run so figured I needed someone to help with whatever was preventing that. I found a well-reviewed trainer on Yelp who would come to my house and train me there. I hated every minute of it, but he definitely was effective. (That said, literally the day after I discovered I could run again, I stopped seeing him.) The most effective thing wasn’t the specific stuff he had me do (which in theory I could have done on my own); it was having someone force me to do it and who wouldn’t let me stop when I was exhausted and wanted to stop.

      1. A313*

        Exactly this, although I don’t have a personal trainer because of an injury. I just know that I can do cardio on my own just fine, but weights and balance and stretching, etc. won’t happen if I’m left to my own choices. Also, having a trained someone who can make sure I do things correctly and won’t hurt myself is important for me.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve been with mine for about five years now and I love the accountability. It’s absolutely worth it for that alone. I only go once a week, but it’s really useful. He’s not like the ones you see on TV, where they’re screaming at people and making them puke. In my case, he’s 65, a retired Army MP, used to do the physical fitness training for the state police cadets, former marathon runner, and someone who has had SIX knee surgeries on the same knee since I’ve been with him, which means he knows how to work around injuries or other health/physical issues. He’s big on mental health, too. He gives me nutritional advice and since I pay for sessions, he gives me free meal plans and access to a workout app which contains a bunch of personalized workouts I pick from.

      I found him by buying a Groupon, actually. I’d never bought one before, but the training studio (it was tiny–just two private rooms) was running it in order to get more business. I paid 100.00 for five 45-minute sessions, which was an absolute steal (I now pay 950.00 for 24 45-minute sessions, which last me 24 weeks). I did it because I was preparing to have a tummy tuck with muscle repair after weight loss surgery, and I REALLY needed someone to push me.

      Look for someone who seems like a fit for you. Do you really need someone to get in your face and push you hard until you’re ready to puke? Do you need someone who will push you beyond what you think you can do and is firm, but nice? Do you want/need meal planning and things like that, or do you have that covered? How much can you afford? How often do you want to go? What are you looking to get out of it? Meaning, are you looking for accountability? Just a few sessions to learn what you should be doing and how to do it? Do you want to be with someone long-term? What are your specific goals? Weight loss? Muscle gain? Run a marathon? Do you have an injury or another physical/health issue you need to work around?

      One thing I will say: if you are looking for weight loss, muscle gain, or whatever and decide to do once or twice a week, it’s a waste of money if you will not work out on your own a few other days during the week. Believe it or not, that’s really what keeps me motivated to work out consistently. I only go once a week to see him, so if I don’t work out at least three times on my own, it’s an absolute waste of time and money for me. Not to mention, he absolutely knows when I’ve slacked off based on how I perform when I see him.

    3. DistantAudacity*

      I’ll echo what Dawn said.

      I found my PT at my local gym, and focused my sessions with him on stuff that I am not good at doing on my own (I mean, I’m bad a training in general). Hence I focused on strength training, and not cardio for instance. I don’t need someone to watch me on a treadmill, except for once doing that max heart rate test, and looking at basic technique.

      But immensly helpful for getting accountability, not having to think up exercises and actually do 4 sets instead of noping out after two.
      But I think you should be in a position to exercise at least 3 times a week or so, either with the PT or on your own to get the improvements. Otherwise it will be waste of money.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Oh, and since it was at my local gym – it also was really helpful because he absolutely knew how to navigate through all the scary equipment, weights, stretch bands and other useful exercise machines that I did not have any clue about whatsoever.

        Made a lot more condifident to tackle some of those on my own later :)

        1. The Other Dawn*

          See, I’m the opposite. My trainer isn’t inside a gym so there aren’t any machines other than one treadmill, which almost never gets used. (They’ve recently relocated to a huge building and it’s mostly group exercise rooms and two private training studios.) It’s all dumbbells, kettlebells, slam balls, barbells, etc. I found it really useful because up until I started seeing him, I really only knew how to work out using the weight machines and things. (When I actually made it to the gym, of course.) Now I can look at a resistance band (HATE THEM!) and actually know what to do with it, other than making a giant slingshot. LOL. Or I now know how to do five different exercises with a kettlebell.

          1. DistantAudacity*

            Oh yes :)

            I learned that most of the fancy machines were less recommended (a few exceptions), and to use stretch bands and and various versions of free weights together with the exercises instead. Although I loathe kettle bells. A lot.

            But it doesn’t intimidate me to move around in those spaces, and floor areas etc anymore, where as before I was not comfortable with all of it, and had no clue where to even begin. I also don’t care about what others may think any more, either :)

    4. MinotJ*

      I have one and it’s wonderful. I found him on Yelp – I was looking for somebody who wasn’t associated with a big gym that just wanted my money. My trainer only works with people over 40, in groups of 3 or fewer, and if you’re not going to show up he gives your money back and you’re out of the program. It’s mostly weights and hiit stuff. Since he works with older clients, he’s very aware of the stupid stuff we might do to injure ourselves, and he always wants to know if we’re seeing a physical trainer and have limitations.

      The accountability is everything to me; I’m completely externally motivated and knowing that somebody is expecting me to be there at 0500 means that I’ll actually do it. Plus, it’s crazy expensive (3k a year for two 50-minute sessions per week).

      When I’ve had a gym membership in the past, even if I had a trainer show me what to do at first, I would walk in and look at the equipment and not know what to do. I would draw a blank. Or I would be bored with the four exercises I could remember. Even when I hate the exercises now, I’m not bored because he’s always having us do new and different stuff.