weekend open thread – May 29-30, 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: Mary Jane, by Jessica Anya Blau. Fourteen-year-old Mary Jane, who has strict parents with strict ideas about values, gets a summer job nannying for a psychiatrist — who happens to have a rock star patient and his famous wife secretly living with him for the summer. Things are learned by all.

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

{ 932 comments… read them below }

    1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      He looks like he’s plotting how to carry out his plans for the conquest of the world there! ;-D

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      He is. This week he finally achieved his goal of snuggling with Eve, a project he has been working on for months, and he is very happy.

      1. Alice Ulf*

        I’d always thought of Laurie is solidly black, but this lighting makes me wonder–is he an actual tortoiseshell tom?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s just the light. He’s solidly black (with some grey fluff on his stomach). (The only reason I know male tortoiseshells are rare is from reading While Mrs. Coverlet Was Away, in which that was a major plot point, a million times as a kid.)

          1. Alice Ulf*

            Ha! Something I read years ago asserted that a Cheshire Cat was a tortoiseshell tom and that’s always stuck with me.

            This in no way diminishes Laurie’s magnificence, of course. ♥

      2. tangerineRose*

        Awww, I’m glad Eve let him snuggle. He looks like he has a very soft coat.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It has been like a military operation. First he would just sleep next to her until she got used to that and she stopped getting up and moving. Then he would touch her with a paw while they slept. Then when she got used to that, he started putting his head on her as she slept. Yesterday he finally achieved full body cuddling and full-on spooned her. (This is all a lot of patience for a cat whose preferred method of initiating cuddling with another cat for some reason is to position himself next to them and joyfully fall sideways into them.)

          1. sswj*

            Ha! I know that move, and the expression on the fall-ee’s face is always worth seeing :D

  1. PollyQ*

    My poor old TV has up and died on me. :( Any suggestions for:

    1) A good brand for a 45″-50″ inch smart TV.
    2) A good review site to help me ch0ose.
    3) Also, to 4K or not 4K? None of my other AV devices are 4K, but I suppose I might upgrade in the future?

    Thanks! (In advance!) (Or not, if you find that rude!)

    1. DistantAudacity*

      Samsung is a good brand.

      A thing to consider is: what sort of light is there in the room your TV is in when you watch? As in, is the room quite dark, or will there typically light from windows etc? Then do a quick google for «oled vs qled» (different technologies), to see what suits your setup. There are lots of articles for that. Short answer: room with light – Q-led. Dark room: O-led.
      Based on that, you can look at brands offering the best type of technology for your place, and then zero in on your size and budget constraints. Also, last year’s models will have price drops, and you won’t really be able to tell the difference!

      For the record, I’m super-pleased with my higher-end Samsung Q-led 65 thin frame model (but not iframe). Was going to get a a 55-inch, but ..hey. Am also pleased by my decision to buy the dealer’s service to get the thing mounted on the wall. They do it all the time, and were done in 20 mins.

      Get the 4K.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Oh – and depending on what you care about: look at the design of the TV itself, too.

        How thick/thin is it, will it mount flat on a wall (wall mounts are usually separate), is there one cable to the TV and a separate box, or many cables from the TV; does it have functionality to show pictures/photos/art work when you are not watching (big black rectangle there in your room)?

      2. Kat in VA*

        Plus one on Samsung. Other than occasional quirks with the remote (the Narrator option turns itself on like magic, which results in a disembodied woman’s voice babbling at high speed everything on the screen), it’s held up pretty well through almost constant “background noise” usage through the pandemic.

    2. mreasy*

      I have had a Sony Bravia for several years, and it has been great. We went for 4K for exactly the reason you mention – so it won’t become obsolete as 4K continues to grow.

      1. mreasy*

        I will say we got it as a gift so I didn’t know they are considered overpriced. Lol!

    3. Meh*

      I’m going to suggest going on the lower end. I have a 4k 55″ TCL that I got for $200. It’s a smart TV with Roku plus additional USB ports. Picture is fine, can wall mount but I have it sitting on a console.

      I decided that TV technology is improving so quickly that a $2000 sony will be completely obsolete by the time it needs to be replaced (between 4-10 years). I can replace a cheaper TV more often (I’ve had this one 3 years and no complaints) while still keeping up with technology.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Yes, the technology bit is important.

        It’s started to stabilize a bit now, but there’s a reason I hung onto my previous plasma TV for such a long time. It’s only in the last couple of years I’ve felt that the LED picture quality (oled/qled/whatevs) was good enough (compared to the plasma), and now finally the prices have also started to drop on those.

      2. Dwight Schrute*

        Was going to suggest the same! I have that tv and have been happy with it, and I like the Roku interface

      3. Cleo*

        Was going to say the same thing. We have a 43″ TCL 4K Roku TV and it works great and it even fits in our old TV cabinet.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am not terribly TV savvy, but my husband (who is our household’s TV guy) has brought home two of the same line LG 4k TV (one big one for the living room and one medium one for his office) and it seems to work quite well for all our various needs. I think they’re the UN7000 series?

    5. Disco Janet*

      I sold high end home theater setups before going into my current field, so this is based on like 7 years ago. But it was true for my entire 5 years in that field, so hopefully still helpful.

      1. LG and Samsung are the most reliable/quality without being way overpriced (that would go to Sony.) Stay away from ones like Westinghouse, Vizio, and store brands. Sharp and Panasonic are also good quality but tend not to have as many options as LG or Samsung.

      2. Consumer Reports is the only one I 100% trust – many review sites lean towards who is sending them samples and money. If you have a Best Buy near you with a Magnolia portion of the store, their employees don’t work on commission and generally give good advice – they do a lot of training to be working in that department.

      3. Whether or not you’ll actually see a difference with 4K depends on how far away from your TV you sit. But most high quality TVs are going to have 4K whether or not it’s something you’re specifically looking for. I wouldn’t worry about having it just to be ready for the future though – it uses the exact same connection (HDMI) as non-4K TVs, so you can use a 4K device on a non-4K TV.

    6. newbie*

      I let Costco do the work of curating electronics. Just go to your local Costco or costco.com and pick the one that fits your size/price range.

      1. Chaordic One*

        This is what I did. I went to Costco and bought the smallest, cheapest TV they had. It’s a VIZIO and it seems to work fine. The remote that came with it is a bit hard to use (small with awkwardly placed buttons that make it easy to hit the wrong one by mistake) so I bought a universal remote for $7 from WalMart that works much better.

          1. Chaordic One*

            I did read about some Vizio TVs not being very reliable and that they just quit working. But I didn’t pay very much for mine and I figured that if it quit, I wouldn’t be out that much money. If I were buying a larger more expensive model, I might have reservations about buying a Vizio.

          2. Windchime*

            Yeah I have several Vizios in the house that are a couple of years old and they are just fine. When I bought my first smart TV, it was a Samsung and I have to say it’s pretty nice. But the Vizios in the bedrooms are fine; I just use them with a Roku since they aren’t “smart”.

          3. Disco Janet*

            I just know they had a higher rate of returns and people needing to use their warranty for repairs/replacements. That’s where my opinion is coming from (though again, it’s an opinion dated by about 5 years, which I realize is a long time in the world of technology!)

          4. Claud*

            I love my VIZIOs and have had zero problems. One is 13 years old(not a smart TV), two are 6 years old, and I bought a 70” 4K two years ago. I even buy them for my nieces and nephews when they go off to college. I stopped buying warranties because they’ve been so great.

    7. RussianInTexas*

      I have 65″ LG OLED 4k and I really like it. One thing to look for – better (aka more expensive) TVs tend to have better black. What I mean is, scenes set in low light are much easier to watch. I didn’t think it mattered, bit there is a noticeable difference.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Agreed – and if you’re looking for info on this, OP, ask about/research the backlighting on the set you’re looking at. Many LED TVs only actually have the backlighting around the edge, which makes for blacks that aren’t so great. High quality TVs are fully backlit, meaning individual parts of the screen can be made darker/lighter for truer blacks.

    8. Cleo*

      We replaced our 20 year old tv (that had tubes!) this past fall and I did a ton of research leading up to the big purchase.

      I found CNET and Wirecutter to be the most useful review sites. CNET had a “how to buy a smart tv” article that I found very useful. Wirecutter gives recommendations for different budgets. They’re also very good for identifying deals – I bought ours during the black Friday sales and they were useful in sorting out the actual deals from the hype.

      I ended up buying a TCL 43″ 4K smart tv with Roku and additional USB ports. I got it from Best Buy and they delivered it, installed it and removed the old tv for a fee, which was really helpful. It can be wall mounted but ours fits in our old tv cabinet. My husband got a sound bar (from JBL) that was easy to connect.

      We love it.

    9. allathian*

      We’ve been pretty happy with our 70 in Philips ambilight. Great picture quality and the 4K is amazing. We have decent internet so 4K streaming is possible, although we also have a 4K player. A decent one cost less than a standard blu-ray player cost 5 years ago. Although admittedly we upgraded at the start of the pandemic, before the shortage of components became a real issue.

      Admittedly it has to be rebooted occasionally by pulling the plug when the TV gets stuck on a channel. But after a recent software upgrade, the problem seems to have gone away.

      It has all the streaming apps we need and more than we’ll ever use.

    10. PollyQ*

      Thanks, all! I learned a bunch of stuff that I didn’t even know I didn’t know!

  2. PrincessB*

    What are your favorite ways to fit in a morning work out? I’m especially looking to hear from people who have to get toddlers/kids out the door to school. I think I have to work out while my 3 year old is asleep or jog him in a stroller to school…

    1. Cher Horowitz*

      I would have liked to workout when my kids are still asleep but they wake up as soon as I even stir. So that was a no-go but what worked was leaving the drop off and some parts of their morning routines to my husband and rushing away to the Y. My husband like exercising after work and so I did the pick ups and a bunch of the evening routine. This was all pre-covid though. Hoping we get to go back to it at some point!

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Seconding. I used to walk to the Y from my office, and once things open back up that’s my plan.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I take a brisk 3 mile walk pushing my toddler in a stroller after I pick her up from daycare. It’s not a classic “workout” but it works for me.

    3. Imprudence*

      As a sahm I swapped with a neighbour. One lunch time I had two babies napping ( hers and mine), another day they were at hers and I went for a swim. Later, I went for a run or a class after dropping them at nursery or school. Goodness knows how you fit in if you have to work,, I can barely do that now they are 15 and 19.

    4. not_salad*

      I do “15-minute workouts” from Maggie Binkley on amazon prime. She has 5 per level, with a suggested schedulec and at least 8 levels and I can tell that I make progress doing them. I also go on as many walks with my daughter as I can.

    5. ???*

      I have a 3 year old too, and a baby. We bought a trampoline. My baby loves to be outside so, I put her in a play pen, and jump with the 3 year old. I went from working out 0 minutes a day to jumping for 30-60 minutes a day on average. Jumping is supposed to be a very good work out. Technically, only one person is supposed to jump on a trampoline at a time, but as long as your careful and don’t bounce too hard (with your toddler) you’ll probably be okay.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I strongly recommend an adult not bounce with a small child , unless the child is the only one actually jumping. Apparently if one person goes up just when another comes down, the “lift” can break bones. It is most dangerous when people are two different weights.
        Partner jumping plans for the recoil.

    6. Pregnant during COVID*

      I have a 4 year old and a 10 week old. I have a Peloton and work out early while they’re still sleeping. Otherwise I’d never get it in.

    7. Sue*

      I go to bed by 9 and wake up at 4:30. I tried everything else but the only way I can be consistent is before the rest of the house wakes up.

    8. Bloopmaster*

      This isn’t necessarily a morning workout (but could be?): When the pandemic hit, my husband and I bought stair steppers (the tiny ones), and now we use them for 30-60 minutes most evenings while we watch Netflix (after the toddler is asleep). If I was a morning person (I am not), I could imagine myself doing this in the morning instead (before fetching the toddler from his crib). It’s nice because it’s bonding time for me and hubs in addition to exercise.

    9. ten four*

      I have a “desk bike” from Flexispot, which is like a MUCH cheaper and much less fancy Peloton. It’s small and quiet!

    10. Cubicle_queen*

      I work full-time (currently from home) and have 2 kids in daycare. The most effective way I’ve found is to get up at 5 am and follow a program. Husband agrees to get the younger baby off they wake early, and both kids are up at 6. For it to work, I also have to be in bed by 10 pm.

      The program I use is Get Mom Strong, by Ashley Nowe. She focuses a lot on engaging your core, restoring your pelvic floor, and doing exercises that can accommodate for and improve diastis recti. A day’s workout has 3-5 circuits and 2-3 reps each, which makes it easy to flex on days where there’s not enough time.

    11. Overeducated*

      I can’t get up extra early. Not enough sleep time. So I do actually jog the toddler in a stroller to day care on days I telework. It’s good! I used to bike to work and pick up the older kid from his day care on the way, which was amazing but my commute is very different now. Either way it is exponentially harder to work out if it’s not part of my functional daily routine.

  3. StellaBella*

    Any advice on how to word a letter to a used car dealer in this situation…
    1. Test drove car, liked it. Yes it had some minor body issues but engine looked good.
    2. Took it to mechanic service centre for pre buy inspection. They found serious problems with the brakes, and a minor issue with lights. Cannot tell if timing belt changed, in service manual shows it was changed in 2018.
    3. Used car dealer looks at report, says they will fix the issues, confirms in email they changed the belt, etc. Holds car for 6 weeks. Says fixed.
    4. I pick it up. Drive for a week until I can see techician again who did pre test. He does verification test.
    5. NOTHING was fixed at all.

    I figured the dealer would lie to me because they are generally crooks.

    Now, I am going toy local mechanic to get the brakes, etc fixed. Should I send a letter and reports and bills for work to the used car dealer? Call a lawyer, show them emails and reports? Not sure we have better business bureau here, no in the USA but am asking friends.

    1. Anona*

      Can you just return the car?
      I wouldn’t get the work done until you’re sure they’ll pay.
      And I’d consult with an attorney if they won’t take the car back.

      1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

        Was it in the contract that they fix those things. If so, you can go to a lawyer. If they did not, it was just said on the phone you are probably out of luck. Used car sales are assumed to be as is unless otherwise stated. But even without a letter from a lawyer might scare them.

  4. Wedding Officiant*

    Has anyone here been a wedding officiant before?

    My best friend is eloping in (checks watch) 14 days and the friend who was originally going to be the officiant backed out due to family stuff. I’m thrilled to help but would love any tips and tricks from this community. The wedding is happening in Boston and the couple will have all their paperwork pulled together so I *think* I just need to manage the exchanging of rings, kiss the bride fun part. I told him I’d research a bit and give him my outline. They’re not particularly religious or formal so I’m hoping to keep it light, warm, a little funny, and relatively short.

    1. KR*

      Not me personally, but my dad is/was a justice of the peace in a neighboring New England state who did my cousins wedding in MA. He applied for a temp 1 day justice of the peace permit (whatever the word is) for Mass since he already had his home state J.O.P. He said it was an easy free/cheap process and I think they honored his home state justice of the peace. On actually getting the cert/permit/whatever, I think it was an add-on to him being a notary that he could also be a justice of the peace. He doesn’t do religious ceremonies so any wedding officiant stuff he does, he asks them to come up with vows themselves and usually goes out to dinner or something to discuss how they would imagine the ceremony to go, along with a rehearsal to see how it all feels. Good luck!

      1. Wedding Officiant*

        Thank you so much! I went ahead and got ordained and have requested the paperwork I’ll need to be an officiant in Massachusetts. I now understand why the other person backed out!

    2. Washi*

      I would say it’s the couple’s job to give you an outline! A friend officiated my wedding and I’ve officiated two myself, and each time, the couple sent the officiant the language that they’d like to use, and there were just a couple sections that the officiant did themselves.

      Maybe your friends truly don’t care, but there’s a lot of variation in how religious and how gendered the language is (for example, some people prefer “you may now kiss each other” to “you may now kiss the bride.”)

      That said, if you have a good sense of your friend’s preferences, Offbeat Bride has some good wedding scripts that we all pulled liberally from. I had a lot more time, but my big contribution was asking each part of the couple for their version of how-we-got-together and weaving that into a story, and asking friends and family for their thoughts on/advice for the couple, and including that as well. You probably can’t do all of that in two weeks, but a short recap of the couple’s story can be a nice touch!

      Good luck – I loved officiating but it is a good bit of work!

      1. mreasy*

        Or like I insisted at my wedding (I’m a woman), “mreasy, you may now kiss the groom”

      2. Wedding Officiant*

        This is really helpful! It’s so true that people often have certain expectations. He’s a crazy busy doctor so I’m happy to send him the first draft to review. Sooooo much easier to edit than write!

    3. Anona*

      I believe the website a practical wedding has some basic ceremony outlines that may be helpful.

    4. Marny*

      We had a friend officiate our wedding and we gave her a script (we’re also non-religious and didn’t want stiff and formal). She added a few of her own touches to make it more personal. If your friends don’t do that, have a sit down with each member of the couple and ask them questions that will give you an idea of what to say. A big crowd-pleaser is what each one says they love about the other.

    5. I Flay Dragons*

      You may need to ask them or consider what you wear for the ceremony. If you are standing in the middle, you don’t want to be the focus or totally mismatched sartorially if they are getting any pictures (even just a cell phone snap)! One friend got a muted scarf to wear over her bright sun dress so she didn’t just overwhelm. It was also really bright so there was a whole sun hat/sunglasses discussion.

      TBH, I think you have a lot to do in the next 14 days and I hope they help you! *They* should provide the initial outline or guidance and clarify if they want anything other than do you?/do you?/you’re done. The whole reason we eloped was because I didn’t want a “ceremony”, a homily or speeches. But people have lots of unspoken expectations about their own weddings, even those eloping.

      Elopement means so many different things these days. Even other commenters are assuming there will be an audience – but you should confirm that and who. If there is an audience, I don’t know how that’s elopement – but that’s an important thing for you to know. Enjoy the honor!

      1. pancakes*

        Yes. Easier for dudes, I think. My boyfriend became a Universal Life Church minister to marry a couple lesbian friends, and he just wore a suit. I don’t remember how the vows worked but I’m pretty sure the couple wrote something short and simple themselves.

      2. Wedding Officiant*

        Oh boy I didn’t even think about the outfit. I’ll have to go through the closet to see what, ahem, fits after quarantine comfort foods.

        It will be a small audience of immediate family and a few close friends.

    6. Not A Manager*

      Not sure what you mean about their paperwork. If they will have been officially married by a government official, then you are just doing the fun part as you say. If you are meant to actually officiate over their marriage, you probably need either some kind of ordination (which you can get online pretty quickly through various churches of dubious provenance), or you need a one-day license from their state to be an officiant.

      At my wedding a few years ago, our state required such one-day, non-ordained officiants to undergo an in-person training and pay a fee. Our officiant came in a few days early in order to fulfill the requirements. If he’d chosen the online-ordination route, he would not have had to do that. One thing they did was walk him through exactly how to sign, and how to have us sign, the marriage paperwork.

      I think some states are more lax than others, but it’s good for you or them to check on it.

      1. Clisby*

        Oh, I thought the OP likely was a notary public. I am, and can legally officiate at weddings in SC. I don’t know whether states typically have reciprocal agreements for recognizing notaries as state-authorized officiants.

      2. Wedding Officiant*

        Not a notary or JP :). I went ahead and got officially ordained (using a slightly less dubitable online ministry) so I can serve for the day. Massachusetts has a number of requirements (ugh) so I’ll have to get things faxed/e-mailed this week.

    7. Pocket Mouse*

      You do need to be authorized to act as officiant by the jurisdiction you’ll be marrying them in, so look into that if you haven’t already. Other than that, ask them! It’s possible the original officiant may have had some materials/ideas they can share with you, too.

    8. Wool Princess*

      Confirming in MA the officiant needs a one day license. Google “One-Day Marriage Designation Massachusetts”. Looks like it’s about $30 and processed in 5 business days, so you’ll want to do that next week!!

    9. Usually a lurker*

      Two things I picked up watching my cousin’s wedding a couple of weeks ago.

      1. Bring a handkerchief or two. My cousin was crying so much that he had to go get a handkerchief during the ceremony, having one on hand would have been helpful.

      2. Make sure that you and the couple all know what elements will be part of the ceremony. Cousin’s officiant added a part where he gave them presents and it was really obvious that the bride was surprised and a little annoyed that he hadn’t told her beforehand.

      1. Wedding Officiant*

        Awwww yes I’ll make sure to stash a couple of handkerchiefs. What a lovely thought.

        And oh god no surprises. Even good surprises are bad surprise in something as traditional and scripted as a wedding. I want to keep the focus on the bride and groom.

    10. Another JD*

      We hired a wedding officiant when ours fell ill. She sent us a few possible ceremonies, and asked us each to send her the five things we loved most about each other. I didn’t think anything of it until I was literally about to walk down the aisle to get married and she asked if she could share my list. I was flustered but said yes. I’m glad I didn’t have notice because I might have changed my answers or said no, and people said it was their favorite part of the ceremony. We will never live down that we both included each other’s butts on our list :)

      We also added a quote that was personally meaningful to us. We’re both attorneys and the Obergefell decision legalizing gay marriage had come down the week before our wedding, so we got to quote Justice Kennedy’s passage on love. It was so very fitting for us.

      One other thing to consider is what you’re going to put the ceremony papers in. A pretty binder looks so much better in pictures than just loose leaf paper.

  5. Venus*

    How does your garden grow? How are your weeds, mould, trees, veggies, or flowers?

    My asparagus did well this year, and the raspberries look promising! The seedlings are in the ground and the grass is mowed. Now I wait!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We’re finally getting rain! Unfortunately it’s across the 3day weekend I’d hoped to use for digging & transplanting & pruning.
      My grape-smelling irises are so huge I had to prop them up. No buds from my over-wintered geraniums so I’m glad I picked some new ones up at a mother’s day sale.
      Looks like our new winter-hardy kiwi made it through its first winter, and i got two tiny shoots of asparagus. The volunteer raspberries are going strong enough that I’ll have to mow the woods-edge more often–and yes they’re so tasty it’s worth it.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Alas the rain was hard enough that now all my grape irises are bent over flat. I haven’t had the heart to check on the herb & wildflower sprouts. And it’s too chilly to want to go out there anyway.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          Mine are laying flat on the ground on one side of my house. I’m lucky they are alive and blooming anyway, because I planted them in the fall and didn’t know if they would even survive. All my plants are discards from other people so I am surprised when they come up in spring.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My raspberry bush is flippin enormous and has reached out under my deck in at least three directions, with runners (or possibly even volunteer offshoot bushes, I’m not sure which) trying to grow out through my deck in like five different places. It needs some pretty severe pruning, I think, and better guidance so it can be a well-behaved member of plant society :P The deck is enclosed, so getting to the runners is going to be fun. :P

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        So excited! I discovered today that the ragtag wad of nonsense foliage off to the side of my porch is actually a rosebush and a trellis covered in clematis vines, and they’re both apparently very healthy and covered in flowers! There’s a “wall” of lattice at the end of the porch and I’m hoping we can train them both up it, or at least the clematis. (The roses are out a little farther and seem to be less inclined toward being trained.)

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      If the birds and chipmunks don’t beat me to them, I am about to be up to my eyebrows in strawberries! Every plant is currently loaded down with marble-sized green berries, so it should be about a week. Can’t wait!

    4. Meh*

      I planted 4 blueberry bushes a few years ago. 2 have not grown – at all- whole sections died off and now I just have a little Charlie Brown stub. The other 2 have berries! I bought them to cross pollinate with each other and didn’t think that would happen with two scraggly ones.

      1. A Cat named Brian*

        I found an avocado growing in my compost. Replanted it in a pot and it’s doing great. Now just have to wait 3, maybe 4 years for the fruit….
        I have tomatoes, carrots, parsley, mint, and oregano still alive after the torrential rains we’ve been having. Looks like we are going to have a busy hurricane season so may not have them for too long.

      2. Lizy*

        My blueberries aren’t doing too great, either. The raspberries and blackberries are!

    5. Anonymath*

      My replacement trees are in and I was able to find replacements for almost all of the frost-killed plants. While arranging for the removal of the dead fruit trees the arborist found the avocado wasn’t dead, but was sprouting from the roots. We have no idea what the rootstock is, and we had already purchased a replacement avocado tree, so I guess we’ve got two avocados now! The lettuce has all finally bolted and I need to plant my okra in that bed today. Sweet potato greens are starting to come up nicely in the front yard.

    6. pancakes*

      I thought I wasn’t going to bother growing tomatoes this year, but I have a seedling growing in one of my fire escape pots, from a seed from last summer’s tomatoes. It’s doing really well! My thyme I started from last year is doing well too, but it’s flowering now and I’m not sure whether I should pinch off the flowers or not?

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      The iris have been very enthusiastic.
      Just before that the trillium, and thinking of planting more of those in the fall.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        What’s your source for trillium? I’ve been reluctant to buy mail order because historically so much has been pulled out of the wild. But I’m told they can now be raised in nurseries so I’m tempted again.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I would be going with my local nursery. I know I have seen them there; I think the ones in my garden came from a nearby relative.

    8. Llellayena*

      Damn squirrels! I have large planter pot with multiple flowers in it and twice a squirrel has gone looking for the nuts he burried last fall (it’s not there, I replaced the soil) and completely dug up one of the plants!

      AND my BF has (had?) ripening strawberries, and keeps coming out to find half chewed ones (hanging planter). Any advice for either of us?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Strawberries you’re best off wrapping it in netting — just keep an eye on it to free any trapped birds.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Blackberries and plums are starting to ripen. Blueberries have another week or 2 to go.

      Green beans should bloom this week. Squash is up & getting established. I’m really late getting my tomatoes & cucumbers in, but should have time this week.

      We’re also getting our backordered load of pinestraw for the front yard this week. Hopefully it will make us look more like people who love native flowers and less like people who gave up and let the weeds rule.

      I saw a tip on YouTube I want to try: you can get big bags of pine & cedar shavings from the feed store for animal bedding. Mixed together, they make a good weed-free mulch for veggies that helps repel squash bugs and cabbage moths (supposedly).

      We will be doing a post-vax trip during the most intense part of the summer for pests, so it will be good to have a little passive help on that front.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That pine/cedar thing sounds worth a try — keep an eye on pH in case you’ve got things that don’t like acidic soil.

    10. GoryDetails*

      Irises blooming – an unexpected surprise as I hadn’t been tending to them at all, but apparently they like the location they’re in.

      I’ve also acquired a set of vegetable seedlings from my favorite local nursery: some heirloom tomatoes, different varieties of eggplant, sweet peppers and hot peppers, and some okra. Oh, and ground cherries/husk tomatoes. I generally plant those in self-watering containers (examples: “Earthbox” or “City Pickers”) and was all set to do so – when we had a cool snap, overnight temps in the low 40s! While this wouldn’t kill the seedlings, it would slow them down, so I’m opting to hold off planting for a couple of days. (Have also invested in a roll of chicken wire, which I plan to deploy to keep the cute-but-lethal-to-plants chipmunks at bay, along with the rabbits and woodchucks.)

    11. BlueWolf*

      I harvested a bunch more kale from my kale forest yesterday and a bunch of lettuce earlier in the week. Also had some delicious scrambled eggs with spinach from the garden this morning. The greens have all done really well so far this spring. My cherry tomatoes are growing really well and there are some little green tomatoes starting to grow. I can’t wait for those homegrown tomatoes! My homestead 24 tomatoes were started and transplanted a bit later so they look kind of small and sad in comparison right now, but I’m sure they just need some more time to catch up.

    12. TvH*

      I had a tiny strawberry plant last year in a 4 inch pot. I overwintered it in my balcony 3′ x 2′ x 2′ container, along with a fuschia. The strawberry plant is now half the size of the container! It just started flowering. I’m getting some bees too. I put the fuschia in it’s own 5 gallon cloth pot. It seems quite happy too. I added a clematis to the corner, and it promptly sprouted another flower. My thyme is doing well too. Still waiting for catnip and sunflowers to sprout up, but it’s been cold at night. So exciting after such a winter!

    13. Clisby*

      My tomatoes and jalapenos are looking really good. I’ve already picked some cherry tomatoes, but the bigger tomatoes aren’t close to ripe yet. I’ll be able to pick peppers in a week or so.

    14. Mallory Janis Ian*

      We’ve moved into a new house and my husband is the gardener. The thing I’m most excited about that he’s doing in the new yard, is that he has made a bed with hardwood chips that he is going to inoculate with mushroom spore, so we’ll have oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms. One of them prefers softwood maple, and we have a lot of those on the property that need to be limbed up or thinned out, so he’s going to get a wood chipper to keep up his supply of wood chips, and then he’s going to inoculate some of the stumps with mushroom spore and seal it with wax, and then the mushrooms with break through the wax caps as the grow.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That sounds interesting! Keep me posted? We’ve done a little mushroom spreading but haven’t gone so far as he has.

    15. Rara Avis*

      Our baby cherry tree produced a single cherry. Today’s garden finds: one enormous black window, a blue belly lizard, ripe radishes.

    16. allathian*

      Our tulips opened last week and now they’re almost finished. Most of our daffodils are about finished blooming, too. The spectacular lily we planted last fall also bloomed almost before we knew it. My husband mowed the lawn for the first time this year last weekend and now we’re just waiting for the rhododendron to bloom.

    17. Jen*

      We are buying a house in a few weeks and it comes with a small yard. I was never into plants… then we got the pandemic and my balcony did look nicer with a few flower pots. Now I’m on a YouTube rabbit hole of garden design…

      I doubt I’ll ever have anything big and exotic, but I do like the idea of an outdoor hobby, so I hope I don’t kill everything!

    18. Overeducated*

      My plants are not doing well! The three tiny new rose bushes that were here when I moved in seem to be being eaten up by something, the leaves are just full of holes. The herbs in the raised bed we built have leaves turning yellow and the chives, oregano, and rosemary have little to no new growth; we put on some Miracle Gro the other day and I hope that helps. We’ve gotten plenty of rain this spring and watered when we haven’t, it hasn’t been too cold, I thought growing things outdoors was supposed to be easy! Open to advice!

    19. Rebecca Stewart*

      Both the roses I planted are doing well. One even has a bud on it! So I’ll get to see the Rio Samba rose bloom this year, and I was not expecting anything out of them this year but growth.

      I’m holding off on doing a lot because we have a weird and interesting yard in terms of drainage and shape (A small creek literally runs through it half the time, and there are levels and slopes all over) and I want to talk to a landscape architect and come up with a unified plan that will look good and be a selling point in about 10 years.

  6. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Reading thread with a twist– can anyone suggest books in French written in language as it’s used today? My library catalog searches & web searches are returning textbooks & literary classics.
    While I loved L’Étranger & Le Petite Prince, I’m looking for something lighter: Romance novels, science fiction/fantasy, simple non-fiction, cozy mysteries, books written for teens. I’m also thinking of ordering a French translation of something I love that was written in English.
    If my local independent bookstore can’t help what are some online/mail-order resources for someone in the US?
    I’m open to any region’s French, be it France, Quebec, or Côte d’Ivoire.

    1. Lectrice*

      My strategy for francophone reading is to find books I want to read anyway, and then buy the French translations. For example, I have a Strict Rule that I can *only* read Scandinavian Noire en français, so seel out French translations of those authors.
      I’d recommend searching FNAC ‘s website for authors you want to read to find the French title / ISBN, then looking for the best way for you to buy that book (amazon fr , the big hypermarchés etc)

      1. Emma2*

        I do this too! If I want to read certain types of books, I read them in French.
        For French books suggestions, I read and enjoyed Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog in English, but am reading Une Gourmandise in French (it is a very short little book).
        I am also reading volume 1 of Fabien Toulmé’s L’Odyssée d’Hakim – it is a graphic novel (not really a novel but I don’t know the right word for this type of book) by a journalist that tells the story of the journey of a Syrian refugee into and through Europe. It is very well done.

    2. pancakes*

      Try Albertine Books – a NYC bookstore run in partnership with the French embassy.

      They’re not quite cozy mysteries and I read them in translation, but I’m a big fan of Fred Vargas (pseudonym of Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau). She’s a historian and archaeologist, in addition to writing thrillers.

      1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

        I LOVE Fred Vargas! But wouldn’t suggest them here as they are not at all light (I read them in translation).

        1. pancakes*

          Yes, “not quite cozy” is not descriptive enough there! The first book in the three evangelists series seemed fairly light in my mind, but it’s been a while, and reading a summary of the plot just now, my memory is . . . not quite correct. That one guy’s pet toad was very sweet, though!

    3. Teapot Translator*

      What kind of genres do you like?
      I tend to read more in English, than in French, but anything that wasn’t written in French or in English, I read it in the French translation.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Romance novels, science fiction/fantasy, simple non-fiction, cozy mysteries, books written for teens.
        I’ve emailed Nowhere Bookshop to ask if they can sell me any of Jenny Lawson’s books in French….fingers crossed that I can get her to sign it too.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          My colleague likes Emmanuel Carrère (my colleague is a voracious reader). I read L’Adversaire last summer. Well written, non-fiction.

    4. Charlotte Sometimes*

      Have you read the Arsene Lupine books? I’ve been reading them (in English) since watching the Netflix show but they are translated from the original French. Not quite modern but more along the lines of reading Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes.

    5. Aealias*

      This is children’s chapter book stuff, but my Immersion kids are reading the Pars, Cours! series right now. It’s very light and conversational in style, but written in teen voices and full of modern slang. So the content is bubble gum, but the language introduces some challenges.

      Bibliothèque des Ameriques is a free online library of francophone books with a wide range of options. What I love about it is that it favours francophone authors rather than translations. In my experience, there are huge differences of style between francophone and anglophone books, which expose some of the cultural and not just vocab/grammar differences. They carry specifically North and South American francophone authors.

    6. GoryDetails*

      I recently enjoyed Bernard Werber’s Empire of the Ants, originally published in French as Les Fourmis; it’s offbeat, sometimes dark SF, with a mix of human and ant viewpoints.

      For other titles, perhaps search for “best recent (insert genre here) French books”? I came across some tantalizing-sounding titles that way. Oh, and if you search recently-published listings on Canadian bookselling sites there should be a number of French-language options.

    7. Imtheone*

      We like reading ebooks one French for the advantage of having an electronic dictionary. We can read more demanding books more easily.

    8. ronda*

      I just looked on bookmooch and see that they currently have 3700 books listed that are in French.
      Maybe they will give you some ideas.

      use browse tab and browse by language button.
      Some are set only to give to folks in their country and lots of people have put up stuff then go away from site so patience in receiving is required :)

      I have 4 points over there that I could give you if you find something you want.

    9. Square Root of Minus One*

      A few books/authors from France in your genres that I think of off the top of my head :
      In fantasy, Pierre Bottero’s series “La quête d’Ewilan” (3-book series but there are more) is a good reading for teens, reasonably easy. The first book is “D’un monde à l’autre”.
      When I was a teen, I loved “Le livre des Étoiles” (Erik L’Homme, 3-book series). Easy read, short, and very entertaining. The first is “Qadehar le sorcier”.
      Recently, Christelle Dabos’ “La passe-miroir” (4 books) was a big hit. The first one is “Les fiancés de l’hiver”. Higher level than the previous two I’d think, and significantly longer.
      In mysteries, I am a big fan of Fred Vargas, I love her style. I think “L’homme aux cercles bleus” is the first one with her current detective.

    10. StellaBella*

      Have you looked at books from the Swiss Romande? About people like de Saussure, or the Alps, or the history of Geneva and the Savoyards?

    11. Curly sue*

      The MG dragon fantasy series Wings of Fire has most books out in French – my almost-14 year old consented to read them for French practice because it’s her favourite series in English, and has been giggling away over them this week.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Wing of Fire in French sounds perfect–when my teen was younger it was a favorite, so I can check the English for help.

    12. Schwanli*

      Paul Berna’s Le Cheval Sans Tête is a great children’s book. I’ve only read it in translation but it was originally written in French. It’s about a group of kids from a poor neighbourhood who defeat a gang of thieves who’d stolen a huge pile of money.

    13. Chicago Anon*

      Anna Gavalda and Cristina Alonso both write light contemporary fiction in the French of France, not exactly romance but with romance elements.

    14. A Beautiful Mind (ironic)*

      Not sure how light it is (I’ve only read the first one in the series and if memory serves it involved murder, but it’s kind of whimsical?) but I really enjoyed Daniel Pennac’s “La fée carabine”.

      I second Anna Gavalda who was mentioned by somebody else – she has some short story collections if you want to start small (the only one of her novels I’ve read was like 500 pages, quite a brick!). I haven’t read the book but liked the film adaptation of “Ensemble c’est tout”.

      Speaking of films, I really loved “Les intouchables” and a quick google reminded me that it’s not only inspired by a book (“Le second souffle”) but the book is a memoir. AND after the movie came out, another memoir (“Tu as changé ma vie”) about the same story/relationship has been published. I’m quite tempted to read them myself now so thanks for asking this question ;)

  7. Grim*

    I’ve completely worn out my flip flops and looking for my next pair. Looking for a set of cushioned flip flops, without the big toe strap, for mainly in house usage. I have wide feet 4E and usually wear a men’s size 11.5 USA.
    Willing to spend upto $70.

    1. twocents*

      Sanuks are by far my favorite brand. They have the yoga mat soles, and are so comfy.

      1. the cat's ass*

        Second the rec for Sanuks! The toe straps are nice soft cloth ( I can’t wear a flip flop with a hard toe strap, blisters) and they last forever. I wear a woman’s size 11 and they fit really nicely.

    2. Meh*

      Love the Sanuk too! Also had a friend give me a pair of croc flip flops and they are surprisingly comfortable with a touch of support. I’ve been wearing my inside birkenstocks and they are comfortable on my high arches (we are a shoes off house)

      1. WorkNowPaintLater*

        2nd vote for the Croc flip flops. I have worn them entire days with no blister, and they are comfortable. They are my go-to when foot is having a flare and I HAVE to wear something.

      2. Salad Daisy*

        Crocs are back in style. I have been wearing them for years, I think I am on my 3rd pair. Was not allowed to wear them outside my my kids, they embarrassed them, but I have been wearing them as house shoes forever. It seems the current models are a bit narrower than in the old days but still fit my wide feet. May take a bit to get used to the little bumps inside. I understand these are good for your circulation.

    3. Anona*

      I’m not sure what you mean about the toe strap, but Oofos may work. They have flip flops and slip ons. They’re really comfortable but I think pretty ugly. Their whole thing is being comfortable and not making your joints hurt, which is why I got them.

      1. the cat's ass*

        the thong-y thing between the toes. In fact, fliip-flops used to be called ‘thongs’ in new england before the term meant underwear!

        1. Anonyanony*

          I don’t know that is what they mean, since they mention a big toe strap, those aren’t how thongs work. I actually have a pair of Chacos (https://www.sandalsshoecs.shop/) that have that big toe strap, which can be uncomfortable for some. My go-to as far as flip flops with good support are FitFlops, as others have mentioned here. I must have 5 pair of them, as they come in different colors and designs to fit casual and less casual attire. I also like Tevas, flip-flops for around the pool/beach, they offer some support if you don’t have to walk too far and the sandals when doing more walking around. I’m also overweight by about 80 pounds, so have to have quality footwear.

    4. pieforbreakfast*

      I’m a fan of Olukai shoes overall. A friend called them the cadillac of flip-flops. They are on the spendier side, tho.

      1. Grim*

        I like these. Can’t seem to put the wide version into the shopping bag. They must be out. Too bad.

    5. *daha**

      I’m a man with wide feet and my go-to is Hitchcock shoes. They’ve got slides and other sandals in wide sizes for both men and women. I won’t put the URL here because I think that will delay this getting posted, but you can easily search hitchcock shoes and wide.

  8. Not So NewReader*

    Just a general question, not a pressing matter. We have several houses around us that are in foreclosure. I have heard over and over that foreclosure can take 2-3 years. Meanwhile the house is gaining some wildlife (birds, bats etc), the furnace is sitting in feet of water and so on. Someone commented to me that with some properties lenders make more money by letting it sit vacant for a longer period of time. That did not sound right to me as getting new people in there would prevent the critters and the high water problems etc.

    My question is why do foreclosures take so long to get to the resale market? And do some houses take longer than others, if yes, then why? (Notice I am not talking about finding a buyer. I am talking about the time lag it takes to get to the stage where they start to seek a buyer. It’s been well over a year with one property and the lawn now needs a brush hog as a mower won’t hack this mess.)

    1. twocents*

      I am not a lawyer, so all of this is based on experience from having previously worked with (not in, just with) a foreclosure team:

      There are a lot of laws that have to be followed in order for the bank to go from your first delinquency to actually being able to sell the house in a foreclosure. If there are squatters, there are eviction laws that have to be followed; I remember seeing one single-family dwelling that had been rented to 12 unrelated people, so required 12 separate evictions. There are so many laws, some of which are stupid but still on the books, that there are so many points in the process that can slow things down. There’s also the possibility that the homeowners are trying to do other things that will be less bad for their credit score, such as pursuing a short sale.

      Until the house is sold, there are requirements that the property be maintained. State laws vary on that, of course, but it’s not cheap. A bank would much rather you just paid your loan than go through all the process of acquiring and selling the house.

    2. WS*

      You can contact your city/rural council about this if there’s anything endangering your property like high grass in bushfire season, or attracting pests. Different jurisdictions have different laws, but there are usually some standards about what homeowners (whether that’s the bank or a person) need to do to maintain the property.

    3. pancakes*

      Not sure why it takes so long, but legally the bank has a duty to maintain the property. You’re in NY state, I think? The Department of Financial Services has info about this – dfs dot ny dot gov.

      1. Katefish*

        If you’re in NYS, the foreclosure laws are among the worst in the nation for timeliness. It’s not unusual for a foreclosure to take 5-6 years. However, if the property is vacant, contact the town and they can let the lender know to secure the property. Vacant property foreclosures can also go faster legally (right now there’s a lot of emphasis nationwide on stalling foreclosure to give people housing during COVID, which is good, but a terrible default rule to apply to these houses).

        1. pancakes*

          It looks like the “zombie property” law passed in 2016 could be helpful:

          “Under the law, bank and mortgage servicers must complete an inspection of a property subject to delinquency within 90 days and must secure and maintain the property where the bank or servicer has a reasonable basis to believe that the property is vacant and abandoned. Banks and mortgage servicers are required to report all such vacant and abandoned properties to DFS and submit quarterly reports detailing their efforts to secure and maintain the properties and the status of any foreclosure proceedings. If DFS determines that a property that has been deemed vacant and abandoned is not being properly maintained by the relevant bank or mortgage servicer, the Superintendent will exercise her authority to hold the bank or mortgage servicer accountable. Violations are subject to a civil penalty of $500 per day per property.”

          1. pancakes*

            I should add, you can file a complaint on the DFS site. Click “File a Complaint” on their main page, which will take you to what they call a “portal.” Vacant Property Complaint is one of the categories to choose.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Katefish, what makes NYS foreclosure laws so bad? What do other states do to make it better?

          1. Katefish*

            I could write a whole essay, but the biggest differences between NY and other states are: 1) Judicial v. non-judicial foreclosure (most NY foreclosures have massive court delays because judicial), and 2) Mandatory meditation in state court and optional meditation in most bankruptcy courts, which adds at least a year to the process, sometimes many years. Nolo has really good, pretty accurate free guides to foreclosure in all states if you’re curious. :)

    4. Abby cats*

      My next-door neighbor went into foreclosure, and the township originally was cutting the grass and fining the bank every time. They eventually stopped caring for the property, and when we investigated (snakes and voles were out of control) we were told that it was unclear who owned it, and the bill just kept getting kicked around. Banks merge or sell to other banks, the timelines are slippery, and frankly nobody seems to know what the hell they’re doing.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      A real eyesore of a house in my neighborhood has been in foreclosure for 13 YEARS! The occupants have applied for bankruptcy multiple times in the 13 years. I suspect they know how to work the system.
      May your situation be a lot more hopeful.

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          My crook of a neighbor would file for business bankruptcy, then open an new business and that business would “go bankrupt” the next year. In between, he’d file for personal bankruptcy, change the spelling of his name and do it again. There would be property transfer between the various businesses and his wife (who had a different name) and his ever-changing last name. I am not sure how that’s all possible but that’s because I am not a professional fraudster.

          Oh, and I found this out because I had to hire an attorney because a lien was put on MY house when the wife signed my name to documents, saying she was me and they owned both houses so “please do the landscaping on number 21 but send the bills to number 25″…and then they pulled the bills from my mailbox for a year.

          Crooks gonna crook.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Thank you, all!
      Yes, I am in NYS.
      The house was entirely vacated a few months into the process.
      I am going to check on things further because of what I see here. I knew you guys would have some pearls of wisdom. I appreciate it!

    7. PT*

      I live in a neighborhood that was affected badly by subprime lending and the foreclosure crisis in 2006-2010. We still have a good number of boarded up houses. Some of them are owned by investors, who buy them, hold them, neglect them, and sell them when they hit a certain property value to other investors, who subsequently buy them, hold them, neglect them, and sell them again when they hit another property value.

      Eventually they are sold to flippers who gut or demolish the property for resale. But even that doesn’t guarantee the house will be sold to an owner: a bunch of them are fly-by-night flippers who get mired in permitting problems and have to sell the half-done construction project at a loss, to a more experienced investor/contractor.

      I bought one of these houses, as far as I can tell it was vacant 13 years before we moved in.

  9. Goose*

    I have a brand new skirt, that after washing the pattern side is shorter than the lining. Do any crafty folk have ideas on how to fix this? Should I take it to a dry cleaner/tailor?The lining is peeking out the bottom by an inch or so

    1. Meh*

      Depending on the fabric (wool may move and.some knits/cottons) you may be able to stretch it back to shape with some fabric softener (Google that and you’ll find tutorials). Linings are usually made of a nonshrink polyester so you’ll probably have to take it up with your sewing machine/tailor.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a sewing machine and can sew a straight line with it, so if it was literally just that, and the lining and outer layer weren’t sitting weird otherwise, I’d probably just shorten the lining up a couple inches myself and I don’t even mostly care if the lining is hemmed perfectly straight, so I’d just straight up turn it up 2 inches by a ruler rather than futz with getting someone to pin it for me proper. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you could probably do more or less the same thing with iron-on hem tape (available at pretty much any craft store), and even if that doesn’t hold for the life of the skirt, it’ll be at least long enough for you to decide if it’s worth a longer-term resolution.

      If the shrinkage had also resulted in other issues, like seams had puckered or twisted or something, or especially if a zipper or buttons were out of alignment, I’d take it to a tailor. (Well, ok, buttons could probably be adjusted at home, but I don’t sew buttons under the best of circumstances :P )

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        And saying all that, there’s realistically a very high chance that my ACTUAL solution would be either to return it, assuming I’d followed the washing instructions, or if I really really loved it or had machine-washed a dry-clean-only skirt, probably just take a scissors to the lining and not even worry about sewing it unless it really started to fray or run, because nobody needs to be up in my undercarriage judging how I manage the innards of my clothing. :P

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Many dry cleaners offer the service of hemming too-long garments.
      If it’s a simple skirt (mostly straight lines & the same length all around–not one of the high-low models) this would give you a chance to learn how to do your own hemming. (Check out the web or YouTube, or reply here and I’ll send a quick set of instructions.) This is just an idea, though–not a judgmental suggestion ;-)
      From your question I don’t get the sense that self-hemming interests you and that’s okay!

    4. Emma2*

      If it is just the length that is an issue, you could just shorten the lining. The ease of doing this will depend on whether your lining is hanging loose inside the skirt or stitched into the hem. If it is hanging inside the skirt, you can just turn it up, press it and stitch it down – measure the turn up as you go and pin it in place every couple of inches, otherwise it will end up different lengths in different places. Your lining needs to be a little bit shorter that the skirt. Since it is a lining your stitches don’t necessarily have to be invisible.
      If the lining is stitched into the hem, it may also be stitched into one or more side seams (in which case, look at those seams, you will probably see some puckering on them due to the fabric lengths changing). To be honest, if the skirt was marked as washable, I would consider returning it, this should not happen. Otherwise, I would take it to someone to be fixed, if you try to take it apart and put it back together without knowing what you are doing you may end up with a mess on your hands. I might even ask them to replace it with a lining that hangs inside the skirt as your two fabrics may continue to behave differently, which could create similar problems in the future if they are attached.

    5. WS*

      Yes, take it to a dry cleaner/tailor. This is not a thing that should happen in a washable garment, and they can tell you if it’s going to keep happening or if it’s a one-off problem that is fixable.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Eh, it’s not a thing that “should” happen with a high quality garment but with fast-fashion you can’t be surprised at a cotton skirt with a polyester lining. But no, it’s not going to happen every time – the cotton should only shrink once.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          The manufacturer should have shrunk the fabric. :( They did not do it right. Shrinking before cutting the pattern is a standard step in making clothes!

          1. ecnaseener*

            Again, *should* is not what happens in sweatshops and the like. Most cotton clothes do not come pre-washed.

        2. WS*

          Well, yes, but I don’t know from here what the skirt is made of! If it’s wool or a blend of some kind, it might keep going.

    6. PollyQ*

      How fond are you of the skirt overall? It’s defective, so returning it is an option.

    7. ShinyPenny*

      You didn’t mention the actual fabric, but if it’s rayon you might google “ironing rayon back to size.” Shrinking with every wash is a Rayon thing.

    8. Beth*

      If you really don’t want the skirt to be shorter, go to a fabric/craft store and get some trim or lace to add to the bottom.

  10. Sugar alcohols and bloating*

    I wanted to share something with y’all in case you’re on a weight loss/get fit/maintain journey or this relates to you in some form or fashion!

    Over the last few months I’ve been so bloated, beyond what any normal bloating feels like and I could never figure out why. I was eating well, working out like normal, nothing should have been causing this.

    Then I remembered my protein powder, I looked at the ingredients and it had Erythritol. This sugar alcohol has caused major bloating for me in the past when I was drinking a “sugar free” energy drink. I stopped immediately and the bloating went away within a few days and hasn’t come back!

    These sugar alcohols are in soooo much now. Protein powders, protein bars, energy drinks, protein shakes, it’s insane.

    1. Loopy*

      This is good to know. Bloating makes me crazy and I’m always trying to cut out what causes it or at least be aware. Thanks!

    2. HannahS*

      Oh my gosh, yes, me too!! The sugar alcohol artificial sweeteners make me so bloated and gassy. Terrible.

    3. Camelid coordinator*

      That is so interesting! I am traveling this weekend and thought my stomach looked a little smaller. Now I wonder if that is because I didn’t put vanilla protein powder in my coffee yesterday. I’ll try to remember to look at the ingredients when I get home.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        If you want to talk yourself about of buying just about anything tempting, reading the ingredients can do it! It’s appalling to read what’s in even simple things.

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      That’s interesting. I take only sugar free items for drinks as I’m diabetic and it helps keep my blood sugar elevated. I think I’m juts so used to drinking diet tht I don’t feel bloated much anymore. I’ll try cutting diet drinks out for a few days and see what happens.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, it’s tough escaping the sugar. A friend went to a country in the Eastern Hemisphere and said there was very little sugar in any of their packaged. He was awed by the differences.

      My little cheat that I have used for years is to watch out for words ending in “ose” or “ol” on the ingredients list. It seems like there are always new ones popping up. I find this very useful if I have to make a snap decision on an item and move on.

    6. llamaswithouthats*

      I’m also trying to lose weight and also have been feeling bloated lately, but I don’t drink protein powder. This is good to know, though! It’s possible my bloating is due to eating a lot of fruit and veggies to compensate for lower starch and grains. I’m considering seeing a registered dietician about my eating habits.

    7. Chilipepper Attitude*

      If we use it, we stick to plain pea protein powder for this reason. It has no other ingredients. We sweeten with fruit as needed.

    8. bloated*

      oh crap!! that explains the weird bloating I had when I was on keto and used erythritol..

      I still have a bag and a half of lakanto – which is erythritol mixed with monk fruit sweetener… and have been tempted to use it – will get rid if it soon. That bloating is just not worth it.

    9. MissGirl*

      That explains it. What are people drinking with electrolytes that doesn’t have a itol? I get super dehydrated in the summer no matter how much water I drink. The electrolytes helps a lot.

      1. Bye Academia*

        I like Nuun tablets. They’re sweetened with dextrose, monk fruit, and stevia and only have 1g of sugar per tablet.

        1. MissGirl*

          Thanks, I used those a bit ago at a race. I’ll have to look at the ingredients. I do have a minor allergy to stevia as it makes my mouth numb and sore.

          1. acmx*

            I have Liquid I.V. and it has stevia leaf extract as Rebaudioside-A if that helps. The Nuun just lists it as stevia leaf extract, if that helps.

      2. Redhairedrunner*

        Coconut water! It has natural electrolytes and potassium. I like the taste but you can also blend it with some frozen fruit or juice to cover up its taste.

    10. Generic Name*

      Strange! I had no idea they could cause bloating. I started sweetening my coffee with Stevia a few years ago and I noticed I was getting a lot of heart palpitations. At first I thought it was just stress, but I read on the internet that it’s an uncommon side effect. They stopped as soon as I stoped using it.

    11. AllieMiles*

      Thank you for the warning! Those fake sugars cause worse issues for me than bloating, so I appreciate the heads up!!

  11. Loopy*

    I got a fitbit about a year and a half ago and love it. I haven’t even been exercising but it helps me at least get enough steps in and track my sleep. This weekend my dad pointed out that he thought the pedometer was significantly off by what he traditional knew were the number of steps in five miles.

    Also this morning it tracked me as still sleeping as I browsed my phone for a solid hour. Is this just a reality of fitbits or are more expensive ones more accurate? I’m actually going to be exercising again and really want to use it but am a bit bummed that it might not just be a little inaccurate (which I knew) but significantly so. Does anyone have recommendations for more accurate devices?

    1. Chestnut Mare*

      It could be due to the length of your stride. I’ll compare with a taller friend after our runs, and I typically have double her steps because of the difference in our stride length.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I’ll second Chestnut Mare, it’s supposed to be based on your stride length so a mile is not an equal number of steps for everyone. They’re certainly not perfect, mine counts steps when I rub lotion on or wash dishes, but that may be the big discrepancy. As for the sleep, it’s based on heart rate and how much you move, you can edit the logs if you know it’s inaccurate.

    3. Epsilon Delta*

      The number I’ve always heard is 2,000 steps in a mile, which I think is the default setting for a fitbit. Some models you can calibrate to your own stride length.

      I had a fitbit Zip for many years (the one that clips on your waist like a typical pedometer) and found it to be reasonably accurate. I tested it out at a track, and I also compared it to a running app to see how close the count was compared to the map. I think it always overcounted a bit, but not a huge anount. My husband had one of the many models that go on your wrist, and I was surprised with the accuracy of it. We would go for a walk together and get nearly the same distance. His picked up a lot of other stuff too though. He’s a mason so although he sits for long periods at work it picked up him laying bricks as walking. Which honestly, he’s being active even if it isn’t walking, so it made sense to “count” it!

      I don’t have any experience with the sleep aspect, but I suspect that it’s looking for a lot of movement and increase in pulse to indicate that you’ve gotten up and are awake. I’m not sure how accurate any of those sleep trackers realistically are.

      So: if you otherwise like the fitbit, take it for a walk at a track or use an app to measure your distance via GPS and see how it does! And even if it’s terribly off, it should still be getting magnitude right (day with a lot of steps vs day with a few steps, and how they’re distributed in time). The goal is to move more and more regularly, so it’s ok in my mind if your fitbit isn’t 100% accurate as long as it’s getting you motivated to stay active.

      1. pancakes*

        If you have an iPhone you could compare it to the steps tracker there, in the Health app. I don’t know whether that’s accurate either, though!

    4. MinotJ*

      Fitbits aren’t really pedometers; they’re arm-swing-meters. I say this as somebody who has worn three different models in the last eight years. I tried to complain to customer service when I first had it and realized that it wasn’t just counting steps (my job requires near-constant arm movements and the Fitbit recorded me walking miles during my seated workday). Customer service essentially told me “We want you to get some credit for the calories you burn when you move your arms too!” Sounds like corporate bs to me, but whatever.

      Back when I really cared about my number of steps, I kept the device in my pocket. It counted correctly that way. But now I use it more for heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking and I see the steps as more of a relative activity measure. I’ve also seen aftermarket ankle straps for fitbits.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        What I heard, generally, is that if you want the thing to count a reasonable estimate of calories burned, wear it on your arm – if you want it to count a reasonable estimate of steps taken, wear it on your ankle. I was wearing mine as part of a step-counting competition at work, and I found that to be a pretty valid distinction. It didn’t count typing or knitting that way, and it didn’t exclude things like, I’m walking 2000 steps around the grocery store but the Fitbit can’t tell because my hand is on the grocery cart and not swinging. I had the lowest-end one available at the time (the Flex, I think) and I popped it out of the band it came with and had a little elastic ribbon that velcroed on my ankle and had a pocket to slide it into. Depending on how sensitive you are, you could also possibly slide it into a sock or tuck it under the laces of a sneaker, I had one coworker who used medical tape and/or bandaids to stick hers to the top of her foot or the front of her ankle every morning (depending on where her shoes hit that day).

      2. Loopy*

        The good/bad thing for me is I work an office job and actually don’t have the problem of lots of arm movements being counted as steps. If anything, my dad thought it was under-counting.

        I also am often baffled by the calorie count.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Apparently I’m a very wiggly sleeper, because my fitbit would count sleep time as awake or active, and sitting watching movies/scrollong my phone as sleep.

      It never learned and I got tired of correcting it.

    6. Bethlam*

      I have the Charge 3 and love it. I agree with other commenters – not very accurate for sleep, but great for everything else. I love checking my heart rate statistics after exercise, and that it knows when I switch from walking to running then back to walking.

      It has been great to make me aware of how much movement I need to get to my calories burned goal. And I use the timer and alarms extensively, not just for morning wake-up.

      1. Loopy*

        Ah I definitely love the sleep tracking portion! Prior to today I had thought it was pretty accurate. Hoping it was just a fluke?

    7. Formerly in HR*

      In my experience using the Vivofit3, even brushing the teeth or scratching the scalp ended up in extra steps added to the count. I read multiple articles/ user reports on Internet about the same issue. Also, while walking in store with the arm pushing the cart it didn’t count steps (as the arm was not swinging), but gesturing while sitting down was seen as walking.
      With regards to the sleep, it didn’t seem to be 100% accurate with recording the falling asleep and the sleep phases. I read, in bed, before going to sleep and that time period was counted as deep sleep (Fitbit pretty much showed me going straight from active to deep sleep). Someone else who got the same model at the same time as mine ended up returning it once while still in warranty as it was showing that sleep took place between 2 a.m and 11 a.m. instead of 10 to 6.
      It’s ok-ish for some high level tracking of activity, but I wouldn’t count on its data for monitoring health.

    8. Cambridge Comma*

      Mine doesn’t count steps I take when pushing a pushchair or carrying a baby. (It also can’t account for the extra calories for breastfeeding or that someone else might be waking you up at night, so that reminder to go to sleep is infuriating. And the period tracker can’t account for pregnancy.) It’s only programmed for some people’s lives, not necessarily for your’s.

      1. Kt*

        Yeah, I am frustrated by the total lack of mom-life awareness. To me it’s another symbol/symptom of the bias built into most modern tech.

  12. Teapot Translator*

    What have you overcomed as an adult? It can be small or huge.
    For me, it was learning to ride a bike. There was an incident when I was young and I refused to learn. Finally decided to do it a few years back. The other day, I was riding my bike on the bike path along the river and I was thinking of how learning this new skill has opened up possibilities for me.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Firstly, thank you for sharing :) I quit learning how to ride a bike at around age 8 (no big “incident” I just got sick of falling) and never ended up learning. Maybe I’ll be like you and tackle it someday!

      I haven’t overcome this completely yet, but I’ve made big strides with phone anxiety. It used to take 20 minutes of gearing-up time and a crying jag before I could place a call to make an appointment. Now it’s usually just a few extra seconds to prepare myself.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I used to have bad phone anxiety as a child/teenager. I still don’t really like talking on the phone, but it’s gotten better with time.
        Thanks for sharing!

        1. Bloopmaster*

          Same. This is me. Phone calls are still something I dread, but at least I don’t have panic attacks like I did in high school. I think part of it was realizing that they people on the other end of most calls (customer service, etc.) were just being paid to do a job (often one they didn’t especially like) and weren’t just sitting around judging me as a confused/anxious person.

    2. Generic Name*

      That’s awesome!

      I hope this isn’t too heavy, but I left an abusive marriage with my finances largely intact. At one point during my divorce I realized that I had saved myself. I was my own hero and I could do anything. I also won primary custody in a system that seems to value parental rights over the well-being of children. I am now happily married to an amazing man who my child also adores. Life is good.

    3. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Getting a job and having a career!
      Having a baby!

      Re: driving, I got a lot of flack from everyone in my 20s for not knowing how to drive. I tried in high school with drivers ed & private lessons that my dad paid for but I kept failing my exam with parking – I would get it perfect on practice and fail at the test (parking too close or too far from the curb was an automatic failure). I started college, and just got acquainted with the subway & buses and gave up on driving. At age 30, I took lessons, took my test and passed on the first try! It took me 6 years but I’ve become comfortable driving in almost all situations, including driving in different cities/countries.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks for sharing!
        I also learned to drive as an adult. I love using public transportation and I hate parking. But it has simplified my life during the pandemic.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          NGL, a few months living in suburbia and I’m used to parking lot/ample space parking (and there are still times I’ll struggle to park or get my car out, it can take me lots of minutes to take my car out b/c I back out very slowly to avoid anyone and cars), don’t know how I can ever go back to public transit or parallel parking.

      2. Bloopmaster*

        You rock! Driving is hard and we don’t often acknowledge how difficult it can be without the proper training and support (or WITH those things and personal anxiety/stress). I’m delighted for you!

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Thank you so much! That really means a lot. This is the only place I can feel comfortable talking about it or asking questions because everywhere else it’s the kind of thing that’s done by pretty much every young person, it’s like bragging about something minute or basic – and they will make it known that you cannot do a basic adult thing.

          1. Teapot Translator*

            Yeah, I feel the same. I just want to cheer people and be cheered by people for stuff we couldn’t do when we were younger, ok!
            General anxiety disorder made everything 1000 times more difficult. When I beat myself up about it, I want to know I’m not alone in overcoming stuff as an adult.

      3. allathian*

        I was 33 when I finally learned to drive. I’m still not entirely comfortable driving to somewhere new, and during the pandemic I’ve only driven twice, so I need to get back to it again. I also hate driving downtown, but the ‘burbs and highways are fine.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          suburbia & the highways here (clean and open) have spoiled me. I drove through my old city yesterday and hated every second of it.

    4. MM*

      In the face of multiple health issues with my child, I have been stronger then I ever thought possible.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Learning to drive my tractor. First problem is that there are nine buttons and levers I need to do something with just to get it started. The second problem I had was I did not know anything about tractors so I did not figure out that the battery was half gone, the starter was almost done, there were problems with the PTO and a few other things going awry. (As you can see I eventually learned.) And the biggest problem was my vertigo. It took me two hours to mow and the whole time I was convinced that I was going to end up under the tractor. The worst part of this one thing is knowing this is all NOT logical- my lot is as flat as a pancake. I’d also lose another hour to cry time before I started mowing. I was overwhelmed and buried by it all.

      Sometimes the way out of the fire is to walk through the middle of it. So out I went each week, in total fear but I held a picture in my head of Future Me being comfortable with mowing. I told myself, “Here is what I am aiming for.” And I’d picture Future Me happily mowing away.
      It was a many step process:
      I found a good repair person for the tractor. This made me feel less alone dealing with this (IMO) monster.
      There’s no local dealer, but I found a reliable place online to order the parts the machine needs.
      I got some extra top soil and started filling in holes around the yard, especially around tree roots, so the ride wasn’t so bumpy.
      I decided to allow myself to pay someone to mow once or twice a year just to give myself a break.
      And I found out gluten was driving a lot of my vertigo- stay out of the gluten and mowing is so much easier.

      Breaking it down into parts and finding solutions for each part was a journey. I can now do my lawn in about 50 minutes. If I hire someone they can do it in about 40 minutes, so I know I have come a long way. I no longer need to have someone give me a break from mowing.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you for sharing!
        There are different things in my life that feel like your tractor. I’m going to try to approach them as you did.

      2. ShinyPenny*

        All these stories are so encouraging!
        Your description of the strategies you used with the mowing is particularly interesting to read. I will be ruminating on how your strategies could be useful in other contexts.
        The “Wall of Awful” theory suggests breaking a giant problem down into such micro-steps that the individual micro-steps are actually doable. Your strategies remind me of that.
        I particularly like (am astonished by) how you built in breaks for yourself by planning to “hire it done” intermittently. Hmmmm. Having mercy on yourself…. An interesting thought!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I can laugh now about hiring it out. But then I was so freakin’ upset. I would literally shake in fear while I mowed. Even with my friend doing the lawn for me, I felt guilt over wasting the money. I was surprised to see that it was a tiny bit easier to mow the next week, because I knew I had options.

          I have had a couple times in my life where a problem was “deeply rooted”. I used to think that deeply rooted meant “insurmountable”. But I now realize that deeply rooted might mean “from more than one cause”, so go find all the causes.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Although, I must say, I am intrigued to know why you did. I like cilantro, but it’s not essential in my life.

      2. allathian*

        I can deal with coriander seeds/spice, but cilantro leaves taste soapy to me. Thanks genes! I also intensely dislike cumin and can’t stand celery.

    6. Jane of all Trades*

      I love this! Three things for me:
      1) I used to love horseback riding but would at times get very fearful of the horse running away with me (due to an experience of the horse indeed running away with me….). After years of riding, I am now confident enough that if I am sitting on a horse that spooks, I can handle it, and I use riding to actually combat my anxiety.
      2) I have gotten to a point where experiencing assault as a younger person no longer has any noticeable impact on me, and I don’t feel tainted for experiencing what I experienced.
      3) I left a (place we don’t talk about here) that caused me a lot of unhappiness, and am in a new place. The improvement in my overall level of happiness was so tangible. I have not yet processed all the things I experienced there, but am grateful to be in a much better place and to have a much more positive outlook.

    7. Rebecca Stewart*

      Left an abusive husband after 29 years of relationship and marriage.

      Crushed a foot in a car wreck, and I can now walk a mile if I want.

      In related news, the wisdom I had always heard was that you can’t lose serious amounts of weight unless you take up running or something like that, and since running is Right Out for me (see above) I thought I would just be fat the rest of my life, even though that’s bad for the bad foot too. And over the pandemic I’ve lost 55 pounds so far, I’m still losing, and I’m feeling better every single day. And I don’t run, but the changes I’ve made to my lifestyle are very sustainable, and I don’t see myself as ever putting that weight back on.

  13. June First*

    Not a medical question, but a cooking question. My husband’s doctor just told him to eliminate all dairy and almost all fat from his diet until further notice. Yikes! We had already switched to fat-free dairy, but this is a sudden twist. We have young children, and I’d prefer not to organize separate meals for various reasons.
    I’ve looked on Pinterest, but not coming up with much.
    Anyone else go through this? Suggestions?

    1. ATX*

      There are tons of yummy subs for dairy! I went vegan for 10 days recently, here is what I used:

      * I would recommend looking up vegan recipes and add meat, if you’re eating it*

      Ripple as a great pea milk that also has a lot of protein. Flax milk is also great.

      Vevan cheese brand is actually really legit.

      There are some cashew quesos that are yummy. Whole Foods has them, great for a chips and queso snack.

      I would cook with coconut milk if the recipe called for it (canned, not the kind you drink out of a carton).

      I didn’t try them, but there are options for vegan butters. But if you’re going fat free, I’m not sure if that would count.

      1. pancakes*

        The thing is, vegan dairy substitutes aren’t fat-free. Coconut milk and cashews, for example, have loads of fat in them. I know vegans who say Miyoko’s Creamery vegan butter is really good, but I just looked at the fat content and it’s 10g per tablespoon. Regular butter is around 12g.

        1. Lilo*

          Yes, I did some vegan baking for a friend and ugh, so much oil in so many recipes. They often end up higher calorie for that reason (some recipes are better, just be careful).

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t do any vegan baking, but recipes using aquafaba probably use less oil? Idk.

    2. HannahS*

      Indian food might be a good place to start. It’s a big place with diverse food, but a basic meal of dal, bread or rice, and a salad or cooked veggie is low fat, can be made dairy-free, and doesn’t require specialty vegan products. A Mediterranean diet might also be a place to look, omitting cheese of course. I’m not sure how much meat/fish your husband can have, or if olive oil is allowed, but a meal like fish, potatoes, and some veggies might do.
      Other ideas: look for vegetarian and vegan food on a budget–most websites there rely on grains, legumes, and vegetables. Tofu-based stir fries are low in fat, too, and many countries in east Asia don’t use much dairy in their cooking.

    3. Meh*

      Sounds like you need a diet cook book from the 90s – low fat, steamed veggies and chicken breast type recipes. Or the Mediterranean Diet style cookbooks. Depending on other restrictions you could look into a combo of paleo and vegan recipes (no dairy) and adapt to your tastes. I rarely follow a recipe, but I’ll look at a few for that type of food and then cook with what I have on hand on to my taste.

      Best of luck!

    4. Jay*

      You’re going to have a problem, because kids need to eat fat. They can go without dairy – no issue there – but they have to have fat in their diet. You may be able to get around this by making a main dish – meat, fish, chicken – that’s cooked without fat for your husband, and then making two sides – one for the kids, one for the grownups. You could make a big batch of mac’n’cheese and give the kids a small serving with their dinner, for example.

      The American Heart Association has resources for a low-fat diet. I would call the doctor and ask for a referral to a dietician, too. If this diet is necessary for medical reasons, that consult may be covered by insurance (assuming you’re in the US).

      My husband can’t eat dairy except butter, so I know a lot about dairy substitutes, but they are all pretty high in fat – that’s how they recreate the mouthfeel of dairy products. If it’s warm in your area, grilling can be a really tasty way to cook low-fat. I have never used an air fryer but I hear they also help cook low-fat.

      Good luck.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I wondered about basic box mac-n-cheese. As something hubs would be beyond finding tempting, but kids would happily pack into their tiny fast-moving forms.

        1. Lilo*

          Or things like full fat greek yogurt parfaits for breakfast. It doesn’t have to be every meal.

      2. Observer*

        You’re going to have a problem, because kids need to eat fat. They can go without dairy – no issue there – but they have to have fat in their diet.

        This is a CRUCIAL thing to keep in mind. I really get the hassle that this can represent, but you simply cannot maintain good health in most children with a low fat diet.

      3. Dancing Otter*

        Don’t forget the calcium for growing bones! Most families use milk as a primary source of children’s calcium. It’s really easy to add a glass of milk for them while the adults drink coffee or tea. Or yogurt or ice cream, if your husband won’t feel deprived seeing it.

        My folks had the “365 Ways to Cook Fish” and “ … Chicken” books. Not all the recipes are low fat, but the fat is mostly in sauces and such, that could be portioned judiciously. Or just pick and choose which recipes you use.

        Seconding the AHA diet resources, and the possibility of a dietitian consult.

        Cooking methods make a huge difference. Broiling or grilling is so much better, compared to frying. And not all fat is equally bad for you: saturated, unsaturated, polyunsaturated, hydrogenated…. It’s a lot to consider.

    5. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I’m sure others will have better suggestions, but for me the first thing that comes to mind is spices, herbs, dressings and condiments.

      Mastering some vingrettes, investing in froofy mustards, chopping up herbs for gremolata — these things can make otherwise plain dishes (like steamed veggies or poached eggs) interesting and delicious!

    6. A Cat named Brian*

      Oh I feel for you… My kids and I have food allergies. Wheat, dairy and nightshades. My cooking life when everyone is/was eating at home was a nightmare. I basically cooked a healthy meat. And then a variety of vegetables sides. Everyone had their own “grain”, My daughter and I could have same bread but son couldn’t. I kept.healthy more fat oriented snacks for them to make sure they had what they needed. We eat alot of fish and avocado!

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Try Nom Nom Paleo–I have heard good things about their meals for weeknight family cooking.

      My youngest has a dairy allergy, and for direct substitutions plant-based milk on cereal is okay. I also found chua(?) sliced cheese made from tofu in the tofu section of my grocery store–tastes like a standard swiss, and you can use it in any patty melt type of sandwich.

      1. Meh*

        Most of my go to recipes are Michelle’s from Nomnompaleo! I adapt some of them to use breast because I am not a huge thigh fan. But super tasty if you enjoy southeast Asian flavors

      2. No more dairy for me too*

        We have dairy allergies at home and we simplified out food a lot.. its not that difficult

        Pasta with veggies, meat.. Move 3/5th of the sauté pan to a bowl for adults, then add grated cheese on the rest and let cheese slightly melt for kids..

        Burger, bun (no cheese for husband, rest of you add cheese if you like, on the burger patty before loading up the bun)

        If you add cheese or cheese rind to soup, take a serving of it for your husband before you add cheese.

        Stir fried, Noodles are very flexible and can suit a lot of dietary needs

        Avoid fake cheese as it is highly processed and have high fat and high carbs – which will lead to other health complications.

        Milk replaced with almond milk, oat milk, hemp milk etc
        Buttermilk can be replaced with any plant based milk with 1 tbsp vinegar
        Butter on toast or bagel can be replaced with nut butter, seed butter, jam, jellies, honey etc

        Look up dairy free menu on internet – that will give u a lot of ideas.. you can just add cheese and butter to your kids food where applicable..

    8. Alex*

      Young children really need fat, so maybe meals with some fat-free components and then some components that your husband won’t partake in?

      For low-fat proteins, I’d go with grilling lean meats. I love Skinnytaste’s turkey burger recipe–it’s easy, and I can see it being family-friendly. You can add cheese for the kids if they want. Simple steamed veggies on the side.

    9. June First*

      Thank you, all! These are great springboard ideas. He plans to talk to a dietician, but just getting the directions from the doctor on a Friday evening had us scrambling.

    10. Not A Manager*

      Depending on how rigorous “almost no fat” is, you could pair lean proteins with the following:

      Various vegetables tossed in a small amount of olive oil and salt, and roasted in a hot oven. Good veggies are broccoli, cauliflower, cubed sweet potatoes, white potato wedges, beets, carrots, mushrooms. (I usually roast the veggies on separate small sheet trays as they have different cooking times, but for sure roast the mushrooms separately or they will mush up your other veggies.)

      Anything served with a home-made, low fat tomato sauce. You can make a simple on with just garlic sautéed in a very small amount of oil, and decent-quality canned tomatoes. Use this on pasta or to make a ratatouille, with whatever dried or fresh herbs you like.

      You can make a good low-fat ratatouille by cubing your eggplant and zucchini, tossing them separately with some salt, letting them sit until they sweat out their liquid, drying them in a towel, and then roasting them as above with a small amount of oil. When they are al dente, add them to your tomato sauce and finish cooking on the stovetop. Add a lot of chopped basil and some lemon juice.

      Most grains can be made more interesting by adding either fresh vegetables or dried fruit and nuts to make a pilaf. Rice, faro, quinoa, couscous, bulgur and kasha all make good and interesting pilafs. I’m not a huge fan of the sweet-flavored dried fruit kind, so I usually saute some leek, carrot and celery, add my grain and liquid, and then stir in whatever else I have around as it cooks. Good additions are green beans, chopped red peppers, and hardy leafy vegetables like arugula or kale.

    11. CatCat*

      Dr. John Mcdougall’s site and Dr. Greger’s “Nutrition Facts” site both have a lot of recipes. These are plant-based recipes so no dairy and both sites do not use refined oils in cooking the recipes.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Seconding Dr. Michael Greger. I had to cut fat, dairy, salt, and preservatives for medical reasons. His recipes are plant based, but I added the occasional egg or grilled chicken breast.

    12. RagingADHD*

      Think simple proteins with side dishes, or clear soups, instead of complex one-pot recipes or sauces.

      Baked chicken or fish, baked potato, steamed veggies or salad.

      Vegetable soup with cheese toast for the kids, plain toast for dad.

      Grain bowls or salad bowls with a variety of beans, lean meat like rotisserie chicken, chopped veggies, etc. The kids can have the avacado, hummus, or cheese and dad can leave it off.

      Poached or baked eggs instead of fried or scrambled. Jam instead of butter on toast.

      Think of the fat and dairy as optional add-ins for the kids. Also, they can just drink milk, right?

    13. Mstr*

      Home cooking is great, but you could also look for some fat-free convenience foods to use on a pinch or ease the transition. My local grocer has fat-free canned chili (add some tomatoes and corn at home for a fuller meal), fat-free refried beans, etc.

    14. Camelid coordinator*

      I don’t have any recipe suggestions but recommend an approach where you have a bunch of meal components and everyone makes their own plate to their specifications. So for taco night or burrito bowls the hubs can have plain chicken, plain lettuce, etc. while everyone else can choose guacamole and cheese, etc. Breakfast for dinner night he gets egg white while the rest of you have regular scrambled eggs, etc.

    15. ronda*

      a couple weeks ago someone asked about food delivery plans, if you don’t want to cook different things for kids and husband maybe try the one of those that seems most appealing to him and seems to fit the diet. Cook for rest of family and order a meal plan for him.

      Here is the list I came up with in my research, some are just heat up, some are meal kits, some are vegetarian, some not. I haven’t looked at all of them in detail, plan to look into more when I tire of the one I am currently using

      tried Splendid Spoon, but they were unable to deliver to Olympia WA in a timely manner and I had to put it in the trash (disappointing cause it looked kind of good). I am doing factor75 now and they delivered without issue and it pretty good (my sister is also currently doing it in GA with no delivery issues).

      Splendid Spoon
      sakara meal plan
      purple carrot
      gooble meal plans
      bistro md
      fuel hot & savory
      trifecta nutrition
      nutrition for longevity
      the good kitchen
      remedy organics
      metabolic meals
      top chef meals
      daily harvest
      Kevins natural foods
      proper good
      flexor meals
      provenance meals
      modify health
      good stock
      518 kitchen
      sun basket
      seattle sutton
      Petes paleo
      garden movement
      leaf side
      wild grain
      mosaic food (NY and surrounding states, I think)
      Shef (NY and SF)
      These couple are meal kits not premade:
      Home Chef
      hungry root

      If in Atlanta or Athens GA – Good Measure Meals. This is run by a local food charity to support their mission, which is nice. I used them over 10years ago and was good.

      1. ronda*

        Also he may be able to try for a few weeks and find some meals that you are then able to add to your cooking routine if that makes sense for you guys.

      2. Derivative Poster*

        If you go this route, Daily Harvest would be a good bet. AFAIK all their food is vegan.

    16. Pocket Mouse*

      This sounds like something where he should be heavily involved with, if not leading, the research—even if only so he can arrange for his own meals until you can adjust as a family to accommodating the dietician’s recommendations for him.

      1. June First*

        He is leading the research, but I thought the AAM weekend thread might offer good resources, too. It’s his health, but we’re a team.

    17. Clisby*

      To clarify – when you say “almost all fat”, are you including vegetable fats? So, for example, he shouldn’t eat nuts, avocados, corn, olives/olive oil, etc.? Or is it specifically animal fats/saturated fats?

      1. June First*

        My understanding is it’s specifically saturated fats, but looking at labels we need less than 5% of the RDA of total fat.

        One of the challenges is that they’re still diagnosing his illness, so this is a (hopefully temporary) way to address his symptoms.

    18. Chilipepper Attitude*

      One of the ways I have seen families cope with dietary differences like this is to make one person’s side dish, another person’s main dish.

      If he is eliminating all fat, it sounds like he is going plant-based? Or is lean meat/chicken/fish ok?

      So if everyone can eat chicken, make a simple chicken with tomato sauce and add cheese to the kid’s meals? Make side dishes of things he can eat.

      Or if he cannot have animal products due to fat, he can have a big serving of say a bean chili or veggie soup and everyone else has them as a side to a meat dish.

    19. June First*

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful replies! We had just figured out a plan to integrate low-to-no-fat options into our diet when the doctor threw the “no dairy” curveball. It was overwhelming. These suggestions definitely help.

      1. ten four*

        hey there! I got the same directions from a doc when I was small and figuring out family meals with those directions is hard! I don’t think I saw anyone recommend shrimp yet, but I wanted to flag shrimps as a yummy, low-fat, and versatile form of protein!

        Also: you probably will have to figure out meals that can be different for you and the kids. I’ve had to do that due to food restrictions in my family, and my major rec there is to figure out a handful of quick things that are healthy enough and that kids will eat. Frozen cooked turkey meatballs. Tuna melts. Freezer pizza. Mac’n’cheese and ham and peas. Stuff you can make really rapidly and that kids will eat, thus freeing up you and your husband to figure out meals you both like with his new food restrictions.

        The main thing is: changing your eating habits is hard. Taking kids out of the equation means no complaining about dinner, which is probably not a thing you really want to deal with when you’re trying to keep your husband healthy!

        Good luck!

    20. Bloopmaster*

      Here’s another factor: How many meals does the whole family eat together? Kids absolutely need fats, but if we’re only talking about dinner as a family and the kids can get their servings of (healthy) fats from other meals, and that gives you a lot more flexibility. If you eat all meals together, plan for at least 1-2 fat-laden kiddie side dishes per day (chopped avocado/mac and cheese/veg sautéed in veg oil/full-fat yoghurt) to supplement the dairy/fat-free dishes your partner needs.

    21. AcademiaNut*

      A few things I can think of
      – for meat, stew tough cuts of meat well trimmed from fat (pork shoulder, beef shanks, etc). They’ll stand up to stewing without getting dry. Skip the browning step to reduce fat. Leaner meats can be poached (like chicken breasts) or steamed (fish).

      – fish cooked in parchment (or foil) – a little package of fish with vegetables, herbs, lemon juice, etc. cooked in the oven.

      – grain bowls. Cook your rice or other grains, top with poached, sliced meat and/or beans, and/or sashimi, and/or tofu, raw or steamed vegetables, herbs, etc. You can have fat free dressings plus more fatty ones, and optional cheese/nuts for the rest of you. Salsa makes a good topping.

      – sliced roast or poached meat served with mustard or salsa, or other sauces.

      – varied salads. Make your own dressings and skip the oil – lemon juice or vinegar whisked with a bit of mustard, garlic, herbs. Soy sauce and balsamic vinegar is another option.

      – chicken cooked in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper (similar to Filipino adobo)

      – For soups, you can do clear broths with bok choy, sliced shitake, green onions, ginger, a bit of soy sauce (add noddles at the end), or pureed vegetable soups with no added creamy component (carrot ginger, asparagus, broccoli, squash, potato), veggie heavy soups with a can of diced tomato tossed in, or bean soups flavoured with a bit of ham. If you make your own broth, cool and skim off the fat.

      – Indian vegetable sambar or dhal dishes can be fat free if you leave out the final tempering, and don’t have dairy in the first place.

    22. Jane of all Trades*

      Generally I think that Asian cuisines tend to have fewer dairy ingredients than European cuisines. Based on that you could consider doing stir-fries, bibimbap, ramen/udon soups, steamed veggies with rice and a protein such as shrimp.
      I also wonder, would pasta and a tomato based sauce do the trick? Assuming you leave out the cheese? You can also easily make pasta sauces with a minimum of oil by using crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic, perhaps some capers, and veggie broth.

    23. Empress Ki*

      You can cook fat free for the family, then you and the children can get your healthy fat separately by adding a handful of nuts, half an avocado, some olive oil and flaxseeds on your salads…It’s a simple way to add fat to tour diet without extra cooking.

  14. Green Snickers*

    Favorite pre-made veggie burgers I can buy at the store? Not opposed to making them but I’m not there yet with the time and resources needed. While I love the taste, I’m also looking for one that packs in a good amount of protein.

    1. ATX*

      Not pre made but if you wanna cook: Beyond meat and the impossible burger! The impossible burger is SSOOOOOO GOOOOOD!

    2. pancakes*

      I like the classic Boca Burgers, and the Dr. Praeger brand is generally good. (They make lots of different types and flavors). Hilary’s is pretty good, too. I don’t know about the protein content of any of these, though.

      1. Ruth A*

        Question about Dr. Praeger: I tried them and could not get them to end up not soggy. I was cooking them in a toaster oven. How do you cook them to get them a good texture?

        1. pancakes*

          They’re definitely not as firm as other brands, but I cook them in the toaster oven too and haven’t a problem with them being soggy. Were there ice crystals on them? Freezers that are cycling through temperatures rather than remaining constant, whether at the store or at home, can cause that to happen. It might be they’re just too squishy for your liking, though. I always toast the bun, which might help, but I don’t mind the texture. If you like the taste you could also try cooking them longer than the instructions say. I think that would firm them up a bit.

      1. May*

        Yes, Morningstar is my favorite brand! The spicy black bean is my favorite, but they have a ton of options. If you live near a Trader Joe’s, they have some fun options too. My favorite from them is the quinoa cowboy veggie burger.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I love these! Top them with smoked provolone for a treat.

          I know non-vegetarians who prefer these to meat burgers.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Beyond Burger is the only one I’ve gotten where I was like oh, this is actually really good! I find the frozen ones like Boca and Morningstar to be kind of disappointing/cardboardy lol even though I like a lot of their other products.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t disagree about Boca burgers but for me there’s some nostalgia (or Stockholm syndrome?) around them – they were one of the first widely-available brands in the 90s.

    4. KeinName*

      For when you have time to cook: I like to make patties out of grated carrots, egg and oat flour. You can fry these patties and freeze them. You can season them with garlic powder, chipotle flakes, smoked paprika, soy sauce, then they taste a little meat-y.

    5. TryAldis*

      Aldi has some excellent veggie burgers. Sold as “Earth Grown” brand – I especially like the Thai veggie burger.

  15. Crafting communities*

    Outside of Facebook or Reddit are there any other sites with a good crafting community that you frequent?

    I’m looking for a place to get advice, to admire what others have made, post pics of my own stuff, etc. Not looking for a competitive vibe but something wholesome.

    I used to sew and would like to get back into it and thought a community would be fun.


    1. Qwerty*

      Have you checked out Ravelry? I’ve only used it for knitting patterns but there are forums and other community features.

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      Instagram, YouTube, and Ravelry are the sites that come to mind outside of FB and Reddit.

    3. Sometimes Sewist*

      Patternreview.com is great, focused mostly on sewing clothing, but there are forums for quilters, bag sewers, etc. A very kind, supportive community. You can read and comment for free but need a membership to read posts more than 6 months old, I think.

    4. Kim*

      I’m a fan of Instagram for spinning & knitting, at least. And it can be a great way to connect with local vendors of fibre and yarn (and sheep, I’m dangerously close to talking about getting a sheep…)

  16. HannahS*

    What are your favourite freezer-meals? I want to trial a bunch of new ones while I’m off work this week. One of my current favourites is homemade chicken wontons in one freezer bag, and homemade chicken broth in another.

    1. Bethlam*

      Stuffed peppers, lasagne, chili, and soups. There are only 2 of us, so I purposely make big batches so I can freeze. Got chilly again here and soup sounded good, so last night we had the last of the ham and potato soup that was in the freezer.

      1. Clisby*

        I do this, too. Same with spaghetti sauce, meatballs, pot roast, brisket, beef stew. Once you’re set up to make one of these dishes, making 2 or 3 times what you need at the moment doesn’t take much more time than making a small batch.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Alton Brown’s chicken Parmesan meatballs. They take some work to prep, but after the frying stage I let most of them cool and pop them in a freezer bag. Then I can bake as many as I want fairly quickly – just top with tomato sauce and cheese.

      The recipe should be findable, but it’s pretty straightforward — combine ground chicken, Parmesan, an egg, panko, salt/pepper/garlic/Italian seasonings, roll into balls, roll in panko and fry, turning once. From there the instructions are to bake with marinara and cheese and put them in sub rolls, but like I said you can freeze them after the frying step, it makes a lot.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We adapted Serious Eats halal cart chicken recipe method to be mostly pre-prepped in the freezer for sous vide, and that’s quite popular in my house.

      Homemade Mac and cheese is my big one, different flavors – I think right now in my freezer I have “casserole mac” (mixed veg and smoked sausage mixed in), taco mac, pizza mac and bbq pulled pork mac. It reheats well and quickly in a crockpot.

      Lasagne freezes well, and stuffed pastas – my recipe does “bake 45 minutes, uncover, bake 15 more minutes” and I freeze it at the “uncover” stage of things if I’m making the lasagne straight for the freezer. But it does take a while to thaw enough to reheat fully, so if I’m doing lasagne for the freezer specifically I do it in loaf pans so there’s less “middle” to thaw. (If I’m freezing lasagne leftovers, I generally do them in single-servings.)

      I think right now I also have a container of chili in my freezer, half of the batch from the last time I made chili.

    4. Girasol*

      Pot roast or chicken in gravy that can go over potatoes. Spaghetti sauce ready for pasta. Beef stew and thick soups.

    5. Retired (but not really)*

      A really easy way to do freezer meals is to make a big crockpot worth of whatever (my fav is V8 based beef stew ) and put individual portions in plastic bowls for freezing, then transfer to freezer bags for space saving. This way you can just put the frozen disc back in a bowl for super easy reheating in the microwave. Great for RV camping too!

    6. GoryDetails*

      My favorite make-big-batch-to-freeze recipe is the “All Day Pork Loin Chili” from the Food Network’s Hearty Boys. I generally change the ratio and type of beans from the original, depending on mood (and what I have on hand), but it’s always delicious, and freezes quite well. Sweet and savory, with some heat (which can also be tweaked up or down according to preference). The recipe includes brown sugar, honey, coffee, and bourbon along with the mix of spices, and while I wouldn’t have expected to like the bourbon note that much it really does add a nice layer to the flavors.

    7. TiffIf*

      Channa masala freezes great! I find soups and curries freeze well, so does chili.

    8. AllisonF*

      I make Budget Bytes’ hearty black bean quesadillas (search for that and you’ll find it!) about once a month. Very easy to make! We’re a two-person household but I make a full batch and freeze five or six assembled but uncooked quesadillas to have on deck for nights when I just don’t want to cook. Just 10 minutes in a skillet and it’s dinner, with only one pan to wash! I just finished my frozen stash this week so I’ll have to make them again soon.

    9. Rebecca Stewart*

      I don’t so much do freezer meals as I do a lot of freezer prep. I pull pork shoulders and put them up in six-ounce bags, that being about right for three people’s pulled pork wraps. Same with taco meat, which I make in two heats because I am a wimp and my partners grew up in California. There’s garlic cheddar biscuits in there, Crab Rangoon filling, and a lot of stew-ish sort of things like a Moroccan lamb stew that I serve over rice, and a big bag with pork country ribs in marinade for char sui. I also portion and freeze rice, because I can’t really have potatoes on a regular basis. I love my food sealer.

  17. Bethlam*

    What websites other than AAM (and excluding social media) do you visit/read regularly for light-hearted, amusing, entertaining reading? While I was still working, I often couldn’t keep up with my 2 go to sites but now that I’m retired, I can read as much as I want and I even get through a lot of the comments on AAM!

    My other favorite site is not always right dot com. These are short anecdotes submitted by readers who deal with customers who _aren’t_ always right. Who are rude, clueless, entitled, ignorant, etc. Funny stuff, especially if you’ve ever worked in a public facing role.

    It was so popular, they added not always working, not always romantic, not always legal, and several others.

    So what are some of your other favorite sites with enjoyable reading? (I do know about Captain Awkward and the Evil HR Lady from reading AAM.)

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I like Cup of Jo. It’s a ‘lifestyle’ blog, so there’s variety in the posts and not all of them are of interest to me, but plenty are and (crucially, IMO) they are very active in moderating the comments.

      Off the top of my head, they recently did a post on later in life accomplisments, the anniversary of George Floyd’s death and foster parenting — the posts are good but the comments are the best part.

      (Although do be aware that if you comment you’ll have to wait for a moderator to review before it surfaces, so it doesn’t have the instant feedback of AAM.)

    2. the cat's ass*

      Slate’s roster of advice columnists (Dear Prudence, Care and Feeding- about kids, How to do it -about sex, and a new column about relationships and $.)

      Captain Awkward rules.

      Savage Love with Dan Savage.

      Carolyn Hax, the Hax Files from Wapo-there’s a paywall, but her live friday chats are free.

      And Thank you for the not always right.com info-i didn’t know about that one!

      1. NAR Fan Too*

        I also like Not Always Right and its various other categories.
        Side question: Lately, there have been zero comments on any of the NAR stories. Anyone know if there’s a reason for that, or if it’s just a temporary glitch? The comments are sometimes part of the pleasure of reading the site.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I’ve been seeing comments all over the place there, it might be just a glitch on your end.

    3. Small town*

      I love Clients from Hell. I’m not a freelancer but the interactions are so very familiar.

    4. Queer Earthling*

      I keep up with a few webcomics (Girls With Slingshots, Questionable Content, xkcd). If you’re catching up in particular, you have some fun archive binge.

      I also read blogs relevant to my interests. My particular interests are probably not yours, so I can’t make specific recs here, but googling specifically for blogs that relate to a hobby of yours or which are relevant to something else you care about may be fun. (Full disclosure: I’m an adult & queer blogger myself and most of my reading is within my community lmao.) Recipe blogs are notorious for having long anecdotes before the recipes–that’s because they aren’t just writing for casual “i want to make a food” Googlers, but to maintain an audience who enjoys reading their writing. If food stories are fun to you, for example, that might be a fun thing to catch up on.

      1. Roci*

        It’s also because the length makes it more monetizable by search engines. Can’t make money off a recipe you took from somewhere else, but add 4 paragraphs and now it’s more likely to be recommended in search results!

    5. violet04*

      I read Corporette. The comments section there is pretty active. I don’t have kids, but a friend mentioned she likes Corporette Moms.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I really like Corporette and CorporetteMoms too, but I think you need to have pretty thick skin to participate in the commenting there, particularly the former. The commenters are pretty open and honest and generally nice, but there are a few commenters that are generally unkind – comments that I would be able to laugh off if it were a face to face conversation with my best friends, but which, coming from an internet stranger can be pretty upsetting.
        It is also a pretty specific demographic.

        1. Mstr*

          Yeah, this is a great warning. There are some really cruel commenters & the site’s moderation seems to support these trolls. They had a resident troll named Ellen who hazed newcomers by telling them they wouldn’t be getting divorced if they’d worn shorter skirts or wouldn’t have gotten fired if they shook their behinds more … posters openly long for these old days & shriek with delight when a new post from Ellen appears, which it inevitably does.

          I got banned for pointing out that “I am a lexical genius & I don’t think the following phrases are racist [redacted] even though I’ve been told otherwise” was just a way to post a bunch of racist language without censure …

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I also like NAR, Clients from Hell, and other advice columns.

      It’s not really reading, but similar low-key entertainment are the various “help me find a thing” subreddits – TOMT, whatsthatbook, whatstheword… It’s like playing a trivia game where you also help people.

    7. KR*

      I got really into browsing Reddit semi-recently (AITA is a lot of fun). I like reading Care and Feeding on Slate (or at least however many free articles I get a month). I used to read Dear Prudence but found I didn’t agree with the advice a lot and found that annoying, so I stopped.

      1. Hornets*

        There’s a new columnist for Dear Prudence starting June 1, just FYI, in case that one ends up being more to your taste.

    8. Lady Alys*

      I really enjoy Go Fug Yourself, not so much for their style articles but for royals-watching and general social commentary. Commenters are generally pleasant but there *can* be occasional sharp words.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I like Buzzfeed. A lot of the posts are product roundups (not fun when you have no money) and I can’t stand to read anything about the Kardashians or influencer/TikTok people (yawn), but I love listicles, compilations of funny internet stuff and cute dog/cat posts, and things like “I Tried Internet Food Hacks And Here’s What Actually Worked.”

      Their news section has actually been pretty good—they broke some major stuff over the last few years—but the quality of the other stories has dropped. There are two writers I like a lot, though; one is an advice columnist named Stephen LaConte, and the other, Andrew Ziegler, has been doing interesting factoid posts every week.

      It’s a nice break from reading the newspaper and doomscrolling on Twitter. I make no apologies for my enjoyment of it.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I go for a very specific subset of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook–museums, history buffs, historic costumers, writers, and artists.
      Following authors & editors whose work I’ve long enjoyed has led me to new favorites.

    11. Bethlam*

      Thanks for all of the recommendations. I’ve already checked out many of them and now have new material for entertainment. And thanks to those who provided caution about commenters on some of the sites – I appreciate the heads up.

  18. First Time Cat Guardian*

    I adopted a cat a week ago! I’ve seen a lot of cat advice here so I’m hoping to get some advice that Google hasn’t been able to help me with. This is my first time being the primary caretaker of a cat, though my family had one growing up and I used to catsit for friends, and New Cat does seem to following any of the behaviors I’m used to. He’s 1 year old – likely spent his first couple months living as a stray, spent a couple months at a cat shelter, was adopted for 8months, before being given back to the shelter when his family moved. He likes being low to the ground and avoid any high places, dislikes catnip, has zero interest in cardboard, and rejects the whole “if I fits, I sits” love of boxes that most cats have. Fortunately he trusts me and likes me, so he seems mostly content.

    1. How do I convince him to use the scratching pads / boards / pole?? None of the online advice has worked. Nothing is in danger of damage yet (sturdy carpet/rugs, plain ikea furniture, etc) but I’d like to redirect him before anything becomes ingrained as a habit. He doesn’t like catnip, which a lot of advice centers. He doesn’t have a favorite spot and will avoid nap locations that scratching objects are place near. He’s not into toys (yet) other than hair ties, but playing with those on the boards or mats hasn’t helped. I almost got him to try out a burlap and rope mat, but his claws got caught on a thread and picked up the mat, which freaked him out. Putting his paws on a scratching toys or pretending to scratch at them myself went nowhere. I’ve tried moving them to a variety of locations – he just avoids them all. There’s no specific place he currently scratches – just whatever is nearby when the mood strikes him – carpet, rug, floor, furniture, wall, door frame…

    2. Has anyone had a cat that obsessively tries to bury their litter box droppings? There is plenty of litter in the box, but he’ll just keep going back and trying to pile everything in one corner. Sometimes it actually ends up unearthing the droppings. It doesn’t seem to be a smell thing – he’ll do it even if that’s the first time using the box after its been cleaned, or if I pour fresh litter to the box. I just had to clean poop off his paw after he dug for a while because he didn’t notice. I suspect this may have to do with living outside for his first couple months and him being extremely uncomfortable being around other cats both times he was at the shelter (cage free center, but too many cats in each room, especially for a cat that is afraid of other cats). Is this something that’ll go away once he realizes there are no other cats here?

    1. sarah*

      Both will probably resolve over time! My cat is very similar — does not jump up on anything higher than a bed, hates cardboard, wouldn’t use a scratcher for a long time — and it took a while but he settled in. I got him a tree with scratching areas on it and after a few months he loved it. I put two sided tape where I didn’t want him scratching my couch.

    2. CatCat*

      If he doesn’t like catnip, he might like silver vine. Neither of my cats cares about catnip, but they LOVE silver vine. You can order dry silver vine sticks on Amazon. You have to shave off the top layer of thin bark (I just use scissors) and you could try shaving it over the scratch pad you want him to use. That might attract him, assuming he is not indifferent to silver vine.

    3. Queer Earthling*

      Some of his randomized scratching may be scent marking. This is a new place for him and he wants to make sure it’s his, especially as a former street kitty. It may settle down once he’s more comfortable where he is.

    4. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Honestly, I would give him a bit more time. A week is not that long! Especially if he was adopted out and then sent back. My cat’s behavior changed a lot in the first year as she got comfortable and as we figured out more about her preferences (e.g. she hates microfiber cloth of all kinds. Hates it!) We spent probably too much money trying out different beds and scratching things and toys and whatever, but it was a good investment in my opinion because we ended up with stuff she uses. And sometimes it took a while for her to use things!

      Also, something I didn’t know but has come in handy: there isn’t just one kind of cat nip, there’s also baldrian root and some other stuff, so it might be worth trying that out different stuff to see if he likes any of it (some cats don’t!)

      Good luck! :) And congrats on a wonderful new fuzzy companion!

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Agree on giving him more time. Also, a lot of cats don’t react to catnip at all before somewhere around age 1 or 2. So try again with the catnip every few months — you may discover he suddenly likes it! (Also, some cats who don’t react to catnip do like silvervine.)

      1. CanadianCatLady*

        There is also a variety of honeysuckle that some cats just love when catnip fails. I get it from TheCatHouseInc.com in Calgary

    6. violet04*

      Agree with others that it will take some time for him to settle in. Da Bird cat toy has been a hit with all my cats. Thanks for giving this boy a second chance!

    7. GoryDetails*

      Congrats on the new cat! Re the litterbox situation – you could try adding a second one, just to see if that helps at all. But otherwise, yeah, give it time. I had a cat who’d been in long-term foster care in a house with lots of other cats, all of whom dominated him, and it took at least a month before he started to mellow out.

    8. RC Rascal*

      A year ago I adopted a 4 year old who had been rehomed several times. It took her a year to completely settle in with me and today she is not the same cat I brought home from the shelter. ( In a good way).

      Sometimes you have to find the right toy. This one likes balls & hair ties. The last cat was into fuzzy mice & catnip.

    9. Skeeder Jones*

      I agree with all the comments to give him more time. I got my cat when she was 1.5 years old and had already been through 5 houses. It’s been a year and she is still slowly adjusting but over time she has started purring, stopped hiding in dark corners throughout the day and spends more time wherever I am. She is still not super cuddly with me but likes to be near me and that continues to progress. I have seen some backtracking with her since I am packing up to move and she knows things are changing. I expect that she will continue with some regression until after we are all moved and have been in the new place for a while. I think it will be at least 3 months in the new place before she can really settle down again, maybe even six.

      Coincidentally, my cat also doesn’t “sits where she fits” or care much for boxes and most cat toys. I joke that she is not a real cat lol. I just love her to death so none of that matters! Good luck with your new furfriend, you’ll see more and more changes as time passes.

    10. Deanna Troi*

      That is so wonderful that you adopted him! I agree with the others who have suggested giving him more time. It sounds like you’re moving too fast for him. You said in one week you’ve moved the scratching posts to “a variety of locations.” It sounds like you’ve moved them every couple of days. He may need a few weeks or even months to get used to things, and every time you move his things, he has to start all over again with adjusting. Also, you may be trying too hard to interact with him. I once adopted a cat who stayed under the couch for a couple of weeks and only came out when I wasn’t around. I used to swish a wand with the feathers around on the floor, but I didn’t look at him while I was doing it. When he finally came out and grabbed at it, I didn’t react or gush over him. Eventually he became a playful love bug. So my advice is to back off and give him some space. Good luck!

  19. wannabe job hopper?*

    Dating. I’m a queer woman who has been single for 8 years. I typically go on a date once a year. Honestly, I’m good on my own.

    Recently met someone online, texted for a few weeks, and we met yesterday. We had really easy conversation and I liked her but I didn’t get that excited feeling.

    Is “the spark” a real thing? Does it mean it anything? Does lack of it at first mean anything? I liked this person a lot but I don’t trust myself to know something good if it hits me over the head.

    What have been your experiences with partners when you first met them?

    1. HannahS*

      When I met my husband he was dating someone else, so definitely no sparks! I enjoyed talking to him, though. We were acquaintances for about two years (like, chatted at mutual friends’ parties) and then started spending more time together once he was single. Sparks came later. I wasn’t too sure about a romantic relationship early on, but I respected him and I enjoyed his company, so I figured we might as well keep spending time together and see what happens. It worked out. I think sparks can be exciting, but they don’t tell you much about the potential longevity of a relationship. It depends on what you want! If you want something fun and casual, sparks probably matter more. If you’re looking for something serious and long term, then how much you have a crush on them in week one is less important.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Ditto! My ex-husband and I went to my now-husband’s first wedding, and he and his now-ex were invited to ours but couldn’t make it. I was divorced a couple years before he was, and when he and his ex split, he crashed on my and my roommate’s couch for a while, and just …. never left.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I dated before the internet, but: When I met my husband we were friends, in a group of friends, and the spark developed gradually.
      It is totally normal to need several in-person connections to figure out if you see this as more a friend thing, as a romantic prospect, if three meetings seems to have exhausted the conversation, or something else.

    3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Is “the spark” a real thing?

      Almost certainly.

      Does it mean it anything? Does lack of it at first mean anything?

      This depends so much on the person and the circumstances. It’s where knowing yourself a little matters. For me, a spark means that I found someone interesting and invigorating. Sometimes that’s because we really gelled as people but sometimes it’s because I had an extra glass of champagne before dinner or because the person I’m talking to is very practiced at making people feel charmed.

      Personally, I try to not put much weight in a single meeting, whether it left me feeling swept away or not.

      (Unless, like, they swear at the waitress and admit to credit card fraud. Then ignore what I just said about not putting too much weight in a single meeting.)

    4. ThatGirl*

      Sometimes when I meet new people I do feel an instant connection, but that doesn’t always last. My attraction to my husband grew gradually – he was on the edges of my college friend group. I noticed he gave great hugs, he was sweet, we had good conversations and one day I kinda went damn, I like him don’t I? And we’ve been together almost 18 years.

      So yes I think the spark can be real, but it’s not always immediate and it’s not the only way to build a relationship.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah, I think whether a spark is instant or gradual, you have to put effort into keeping it going.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think the whole “butterflies” thing has a lot to do with uncertainty–do they feel this too? is this going somewhere? Which after you have 3 kids, 2 cats, a dog, and a 30-year mortgage, those questions are answered.

          1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            Yeah. Not sure if it’s everything, but the feeling of potential/nerves is definitely a significant part.

            We’ve found we can cultivate it a little by adding some novelty to our relationship (like one of us will plan a ‘surprise’ date or something). But it’s hard to feel at 7pm when dinner isn’t ready and the dog just puked on the floor.

    5. Well...*

      For me the spark takes time. I need to know the person pretty well before I get that feeling, but then when I get it, it still feels like a spark in that it’s kind of sudden.

      1. another scientist*

        Same. I felt a ‘let’s see where this might be going’ kind of attraction the first few times I met my DH. After getting to know each other for about two months I realized that I had found my person.

    6. Ranon*

      I’m not big on spark – if someone was enjoyable on a first date and I think I’d enjoy another date with them that’s enough to set up a second date. With my now husband it was more that we could talk for absolutely ages than a spark, per se- sometimes the hormones need a chance to catch up with your brain, you know?

    7. RussianInTexas*

      My partner of 9 years was a friend first, no specific spark. We had a drunk one night stand, went to breakfast next morning, and here we are. :)
      Every time I had a spark, it was really just sexual attraction without any depths, so I don’t trust it for relationships. But if just want to have a fling, spark is ok!

    8. OyHiOh*

      When I met my partner, we were both otherwise attached but recognized a “this person is going to be a friend” sense of each other. Couple years later, dissolution of his relationship, loss of my spouse, and we started having lunches together. We were just becoming the friends we’d recognized years earlier. The “spark” came many months later when he made a small gesture of friendship/care and my brain went “OH! This is my person!!!!” Last summer during shelter in place, we were in different states (at that point having known each other one way or another for about three years), talking regularly and sending mail but obviously not seeing each other, and I seriously felt like a lovestruck teen, the sense of connection with him was so strong.

      I do think sparks fly at first glance, for some people but “I like this person a lot (and want to talk and do things with them)” is a much more reliable indicator of someone I’ll end up in a relationship with. On the other hand, if you’re not looking for “relationship” the friendship first model doesn’t work as well. Depends on what you’re hoping for with this person.

    9. Not A Manager*

      Personally, I have had no success with “spark” relationships. My lasting relationships all started with “I like you and I don’t find you unattractive/I could imagine feeling romantic toward you,” and progressed from there.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        This is me too. My ‘sparks’ have all burned out relatively quickly. My best relationships didn’t start with a spark.

        I do enjoy a good spark though….

    10. RagingADHD*

      I was not at all sure about my now-husband for months. At first he was just fun and nice, and I enjoyed his company. The spark came later, and it was worth the wait.

    11. Generic Name*

      I didn’t feel a spark when I first met my husband. We met at a museum for our first date, and I liked him and had a good time, and I thought he was attractive, but there weren’t fireworks or anything. He didn’t ask me on a second date right away, but he kept occasionally texting me. I kept responding because I liked him and liked talking to him, but I wondered why he was talking to me but hadn’t asked for a second date. We finally went on another date about 2 weeks later, and I did feel a spark at the end of our second date when we kissed. :)

      I had a spark with a guy I casually dated for about a month. Great sex, but he ghosted me after saying things like he wanted our kids to meet (I was like wayyyy too soon bro). So my interpretation of the spark is that it’s a sign of sexual chemistry, but that alone doesn’t make a relationship. Sometimes a spark develops later on, sometimes it doesn’t. Some people don’t start feeling sexually attracted to someone until they’ve known them for a while, and that’s normal. I think there’s no harm in continuing to date to see if a spark/chemistry develops. Try kissing her (consensually, obviously) to see if you both like it. I went on a date with a guy where I had a ton of fun and great conversation, but when we kissed I was like “nope” and I texted him later to say that I didn’t feel a connection. Don’t force things, it also realize that feelings sometimes take a bit of time to develop.

    12. Marion Ravenwood*

      Both of my long term relationships started with the initial thought of “ooh you’re nice!” when I met them. Whether I’d call that a ‘spark’ as such I don’t know, but I think there does need to be that initial attraction. That said, I think that on its own is not enough – you could still have that but after the first couple of dates aren’t feeling like this is a person you want to spend more time getting to know, and that’s perfectly fine.

    13. Loopy*

      I’m super practical so I never worried about a spark and don’t think I’ve missed out on fulfilling, happy relationships because of it! I’ve had friends describe it in various ways and I’ve just never been bothered much to be concerned or interested. I did look for other things, and using those worked out just fine, spark or not :)

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        My “spark” involvements mostly turned out to be with real shits. Conmen and other unsavory types have charisma which can be misread as a spark.

    14. Filosofickle*

      Earlier in my life I did not seek “spark” so much — if I had a good conversation with someone, I’d go out with them again a few more times to see if it would develop. It never did, not even once, over many years of trying this approach. In a non-dating context (work, friends, etc) I absolutely can develop feelings over months or even years, but in the context of intentional dating it’s there or it’s not for me within 2 dates. Mark Manson has a thing where if the person in front of you doesn’t inspire a “f yeah” it’s a no. I live by that now.

    15. TiffIf*

      Is “the spark” a real thing? Does it mean it anything? Does lack of it at first mean anything? I liked this person a lot but I don’t trust myself to know something good if it hits me over the head.

      Have you ever felt “the spark” before? Like when you were a teenager? I never have. When I was a teenager I literally thought every single romance novel or movie was poorly written because that “spark” or “twitterpation” just didn’t happen. And then when I was in my late 20s I discovered “asexual” and “demisexual” and realized, no “the spark” really does happen for may people, just not for me. The person I have been most attracted to in my life and even considered marrying was on someone who I had been friends with for a long time before any of those feelings developed.

      1. wannabe job hopper?*

        You know… not really, I guess. I’ve definitely felt drawn to certain people, and in very rare cases felt an attraction to someone who is essentially a stranger, but I’ve never gone out on a date and been like “ooh yeah that’s the one for sure.” I’ve also had total BS experiences with relationships and gave up for a very long time.

        I’ve been interested in learning more about the demisexual label because it resonates with me. thank you for reminding me about this, and it’s so good to know I’m not alone.

        1. allathian*

          When I read your first post, I was wondering if you’d ever considered you might be demisexual. Glad to know my instincts weren’t completely wrong.

    16. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I knew my now-husband from work. We got along okay, and somehow it led to “You’re not dating and I’m not dating so let’s have some fun.” We’ll be married 40 years next year and we’re still having fun.

    17. Bloopmaster*

      Sparks are a real thing (and can be super fun) but are not necessarily indicative of long-term relationship interest or compatibility. Many awesome relationships don’t elicit an immediate spark, but go on to be wonderful loving (or even head-over-heels) partnerships. Both are great but they are not the same thing (at least in early stages) and whether you pursue either should depend upon your personal preferences and timeline.

    18. Wedding Officiant*

      One of my absolute favorite things to reference here is a NYT Modern Love essay “the wedding toast I’ll never give”.

      If you talk to anyone who’s been married for more than a few years, they’ll tell you it’s not about the spark. Love is not a feeling, it is an *action*. Or rather a series of actions. Feelings can (and do) change but the actions of a loving and kind partner are priceless

      1. Clisby*

        I went to a wedding once where the (Episcopalian) minister said something like: ”
        Sometimes you will love each other because love comes easily. And sometimes you will love each other because you stood here in front of god and your friends and family, and promised to love each other – even when it is abundantly clear that the other person does not deserve it right at that moment.”

    19. wannabe job hopper?*

      Thank you all so much – I LOVED reading through all of these responses, and you have all given me a lot to think about.

      My friends have told me to give it at least another meetup, and I’m actually pretty excited to see her again :)

      I think a lot of it is self protection, some of it is nerves, and some of it is not trusting myself. I’ve never had an immediate spark with anyone, but when I felt what I would describe as a “spark” it felt more like anxiety or insecurity, and also the person was charismatic and probably could have charmed a wall.

    20. ampersand*

      I think it really varies. For me, if I was interested in someone, there was a spark. And with my first girlfriend, the first time she touched my arm while we were dating there was an actual jolt of what felt like electricity. That was the only time I’ve experienced that; I don’t think a literal spark is typical, but the term suddenly made sense! That relationship didn’t last—we were young and had different life trajectories.

      In other serious relationships since, including my husband, I knew within a couple of hours of meeting someone that I liked them. But—if you’re unsure, I would give it some time to see how you feel. These comments are evidence that people vary so much, and if you’re not sure what your typical pattern is yet, I say give it time to learn that about yourself.

    21. Rebecca Stewart*

      I look less for spark and more for comfortable/cozy. But I must also say that my setting sexually is more or less “If I like the way your brain works I’ll be happy with whatever gender you are and whatever configuration I find in your pants.” So having people that I can talk with forever about everything who are lifelong learners and passionate about things is where I spark. Whether that goes to some sort of naked fun time or relationship is more on the laps of the gods, really.

  20. Falling Diphthong*

    Thanks to everyone who recommended books to read during surgical recovery. My surgery was pushed off to this week, but I finally had it, everything went well, and lying in bed reading something new is right at my current level.
    Particularly enjoyed The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, which was recommended as an example of people building a supportive community.

    1. Camelid coordinator*

      I am glad everything went well and that you enjoyed the book! I especially like the world and culture building in that series.

  21. WellRed*

    I’m headed to Phoenix… in July. Looking for any and all advice. Suggestions for a day trip in the area? Preferably a bus tour. Good restaurant southwestern food? What the heck do I wear in general? I’m a northern girl who hates the heat.

    1. Laura H.*

      Sunscreen is always a good idea.

      Loose fitting clothes, and a hat that protects your ears- the hat may be more of a nice thing to pack but not required.

    2. Well...*

      Sandals (socks are your enemy in the heat) and a water bottle. Plus aforementioned sunscreen. Avoid clothes that stick to your body as much as possible, and my advice for enjoying the heat is rolling with it. Don’t push past feeling hot and exert yourself, which you may be in the habit of if you are used to relying on a coming breeze to cool you off. Try to relax and live that lizard life :)

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        +1 to sunscreen/sunglasses/water bottle where ever you go.

        For clothes i recommend light weight leggings or yoga pants to reduce chafing and also because you will be freezing whenever indoors so its a happy medium if you know you’ll be going places.

        I dont know about bus tours but the botanical gardens are really neat. I also love the japanese friendship garden and the musical instrument museum.

        For food: you said southwest specifically but tbh lots of local restaurants will have southwest flavors on the menu somewhere but one place I can think of that does it really well is the Roaring Fork in scottsdale. For Mexican my fav is Cochina Madrigal in phoenix, i also highly recommend checking out Four Peaks if you are into brew pubs. All of their food/drinks are awesome.

    3. Not A Manager*

      If Taliesin West is open/allowing tours, do not miss it. It’s amazing and unique.

    4. slmrlln*

      Lots of water, and honestly, don’t spend too much time outdoors. The Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix is both amazing and air-conditioned. If you want to see cool cacti, go to the Desert Botanic Garden.

    5. Loopy*

      I lived in Tucson for years and the mountains there are both amazing and a wonderful reprieve from the heat. It’s 90 minutes to two hours away but doable in a day and definitely a wonderful way to escape the worst of the extreme heat! You can drive to the very top and enjoy hiking and picnics there. It’s a fun drive up the mountain too and Tucson offers plenty as well so it’s worth the trip out there!

    6. PostalMixup*

      Bring a hand towel to put on the seat of the car so you don’t burn your legs in shorts. Do NOT under any circumstance touch the seat belt buckle! Avoid being outside (unless you’re in a pool) between 10am and 5pm. Bring twice as much water as you think you’ll need. If you go hiking (at sunrise!) bring like a gallon of water per person. I’ve heard great things about the Musical Instrument Museum. The art museum is nice, too.

      1. PostalMixup*

        You could also do a drive up 17 to Jerome/Sedona/Prescott for a little break from the heat.

    7. Filosofickle*

      I always wear as little as possible — loose-fitting tank tops and shorts with sandals. If you’re prone to burning, maybe more coverage but extremely light fabrics that don’t stick to you.

      If you like art, I highly recommend the Heard Museum. Gorgeous art collections from area tribes.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        I’m the opposite. If sun hits the skin, I’m roasting. I’m better off with loose cotton long sleeve/leg clothes for protection. YMMV.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. And covering up also means that I only have to put sunscreen on my hands, face, and neck, and feet if I’m wearing sandals.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Drink more water than you think you need–it’s so dry a friend who moved there hadtrouble noticing the sweat before it evaporated. Speaking of sweat–linen wicks moisture which helps keep you cooler not sweaty. Polyester lining undoes the good behavior, and yes you’ll have more wrinkles than a shar-pei if its woven. Knits are hard to find but lots less wrinkly. Someone here suggested wearing a tshirt under a bra in the heat, and I tried that with one of my aging knit-linen tees–seriously no more braline sweat.

    9. Unkempt Flatware*

      I don’t know of any bus tours of the area but I’d caution you against it. I was in public transit operations here for a few years recently and the air conditioning systems can only cool the bus down about 20* at most from the outside temp in the summers. So at 112* outside, that’s a hot bus ride when combined with other people breathing and sweating next to you.

    10. Eden*

      It will be hot and probably crowded, but consider am organized day trip to the grand canyon anyway. I did it in winter so I really can’t speak to the weather, I’m sure it will be pretty awful, but it’s just such an amazing place to see. And much of the scenery along the way is quite beautiful imo. It was a long day, but not unreasonably so for something so special, and someone else is driving so you can nap.

      In general, bring a hat and sunscreen and use both of them 100% of the time. Covering your shoulders is also good – wearing a bra is painful af once you burn your shoulders. In general, being indoors > being covered up > sunscreen (regularly reapplied!).

  22. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    We’re getting much needed rain but it should clear out for a graduation celebration I’m attending. And I don’t have to work on Monday. (Which would have snuck up on me- seasonal and June is start of my second stint; I wouldn’t have checked till yesterday had they not told me that they were taking me off of Monday.)

    Please share your joys.

    1. Virginia Plain*

      I’m singing with a choir this weekend (we sing at a cathedral when the proper paid choir with choristers etc is on their hols – it’s half term for schools this coming week) – two services and some lovely music.
      For sacred music fans, for the morning Eucharist service we’re doing a setting by Darke, and an anthem by Tchaikovsky (plus a psalm and hymns) then for evensong, prices and responses by Aylward, setting by Walmisley, and anthem by Mozart. All very upbeat!
      For film fans – the cathedral in question is the one featured in The Omen…

      1. Bloopmaster*

        I don’t suppose any of your services are streamed? They sound absolutely lovely!

    2. the cat's ass*

      My DH got a new job only a month after his last contract ended, a huge relief as there’s a lot of uncertainty and my current (very much liked job). I also passed the grueling recertification process for my job and it’s good for 5 more years!
      School ends next Friday, the same day my DD gets her Pfizer #2, which is good because she’s coasting on fumes.
      We found a delightful housemate who is fully vaccinated and joins us in July.

    3. Girasol*

      A new flowering crabapple tree for the front yard where I’ve been trying to get a tree going. Sun and cloud shadows and balsam root blooming on the mountains the day after a storm.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      My kid is getting his drivers permit…there is now an end in sight to my side gig as unpaid Uber driver!

    5. RussianInTexas*

      The rain have mostly ended! We had about 10 days in a row with the rain every single day! Got 1/4 of annual precipitation in one month. So yay for sun!

    6. Queer Earthling*

      I came out as nonbinary! This is a “little joy” rather than a “big momentous omg” because I’m already married to a nonbinary person, already out as other flavors of queer, and neck-deep in queer community 95% of the time, so circumstances were pretty optimal. Still! Happy!!!

    7. Chaordic One*

      Last Saturday I finally got around to having the snow tires taken off of my car and replaced with the regular summer tires. With the regular tires the car’s ride is so much smoother and the car is so much quieter. It’s almost like a new car! LOL.

      1. Clisby*

        When I was much younger I bought a used car from someone who had just moved to SC from some northern state. It had snow tires. They were in good shape, and I didn’t have a lot of money, so I didn’t replace them until they wore out – only then did I realize how LOUD they were.

    8. Loopy*

      I’m visiting my dad and one of the cats that lives in his house has become old and possibly sick. However, it’s taken to me and I’ve given him lots of attention and cuddles. His favorite thing is curling up on my stomach if I lay on my back.

      I’m so happy I could give this old boy some attention and comfort. He quick quickly realized him his new favorite since I’ve basically gave him whatever attention or warm spot he wants.

    9. Pam Adams*

      My sister and I went to Disneyland- it was great to ride rides, wave at characters, and eat churros!

    10. Wedding Officiant*

      Securing a rental home in an INSANE market. It’s been a huge relief.

    11. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Indoor plumbing. Which I know is a pretty normal thing, but I just spent an otherwise lovely week in the woods digging catholes when I had to go, so flushing is newly delightful to me. Also the ability to wash my hands.

      1. allathian*

        I feel you! Always after a long weekend at my sister’s summer cottage with no indoor plumbing and an outhouse, I always relish the little things like a decent shower and being able to flush the toilet. We didn’t get a chance to go last summer and we aren’t going this year, either. My sister’s best friend is in chemotherapy and she’s undestandably been very careful about exposure. She’s only seen our parents outdoors, her friend, and her SO.

    12. allathian*

      My son’s celebrating his 12th birthday this week. He’s grown into such a lovely boy.

    13. Laura Petrie*

      We had a lovely evening at my in-laws yesterday. The weather was good enough to sit outside for a bit, we had some great beer we’ve been saving to share with them and it was so nice to spend some proper time together.

      This morning I went for a paddle in the reservoir I go wild swimming in on occasion. There was a mama duck with 9 little ducklings trailing after her and some goslings on the sandbank near where we change. I also saved a butterfly from the water. I had intended to swim but paddling was so lovely I decided to stick with it. I also saw a baby highland cow and a pair of pigs having a wonderful time wallowing in the mud on the walk up there. It was a really lovely start to the day!

    14. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I got my engagement ring back from the jewelers and it came out even prettier than I had hoped!

      About six weeks ago, I noticed that one of the stones was a little loose, so I took it in to have it looked at. Turns out the lovely orange stones in my ring are fire opals, which are pretty much second only to pearls in their fragility, so the big guys won’t work on them and the little guys have to send them out for special handling, and the jeweler was floored that it took five years of wearing it for me to have a first loose stone (which was caused by a tiny chip). We decided to replace the stones with sturdier ones – so instead of two orange fire opals, I now have one Madeira citrine (which is about the orange-est type of citrine) and one sapphire, representing both of our favorite colors. I am over the moon. (And I do still have the original stones.)

    15. Rebecca Stewart*

      I had someone tell me that my work is valuable. My partners tell me it is all the time, and I know quite well that neither of them could work if I weren’t taking care of them and keeping their brains in order (We have ALL the mental health issues. Sometimes twice) . But you know, it’s like someone who isn’t your partner telling you look pretty in that dress.

      I also went shopping for a new bathroom sink. Not that that’s going to happen too very soon, but it’s nice to see what my boyfriend likes and what the prices seem to be. And thinking about more storage in the bathroom is REALLY nice. (Currently we have a pedestal sink. Yes, it’s pretty, but storage!)

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Sending to my bestie who’s working on her diss, thank you :)

  23. Lilo*

    Potty training advice? I am using the long weekend to try to jumpstart with some naked time and it’s been a mixed bag. He has peed on the floor a lot. But my kid goes back to daycare on Tuesday and he’s going to have to do pull-ups there. The books act like if you ever put a pull up or diaper in your kid again you’ll ruin everything but it can’t require that degree of perfect, right? Almost every person out there is potty trained.

    1. Ranon*

      It’s sooooo kid dependent. We read like half an online summary of the book I think you have, extremely winged the intensive training bit, and it went pretty much perfectly, while friends have been much more diligent about the same method and had it pretty much not work at all and switched to other methods that eventually did.

      Day 1 is no indicator of success at all, in the transfer of responsibilities from parent to kid in pee management it takes a bunch of practice and by practice I mean pee on the floor.

      Once training kicked in our daycare was willing to do undies except for nap time, it went pretty smoothly. But again, very kid dependent!

    2. Small town*

      This may sound mean, but we did the underpants and clothing route. Pullups are absorbent. Peeing on the floor is easy. Wearing soaking wet clothing is unpleasant. If you have to take off your clothes, put them in the washing machine, and clean yourself up instead of playing it gets tedious. My son did the numbers and made a choice at age 3.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Uncomfortable wet pants were a big motivator for mine. He also REALLY, REALLY wanted spider man underwear, but I told him those were for kids who don’t pee in them. (Yes, I bribed my kid with underwear, and yes, it worked!) There were a few times I thought we might have to send him to college in pull ups, but once he found his motivation it went quickly. (He’s a teenager now, and I’m pleased to say that I haven’t bought any pull ups in years! :P)

      1. Imprudence*

        What worked for me when I was a sahm was to swop with a neighbour and take it in turns have two babies (hers and mine) napping at lunch time while the other one exercised. Later I would run or go to classes straight after dropping them at nursery or school. But if I’d had to work, I’m not sure I could ever have visited it in.

      2. Imprudence*

        When they are ready, they will learn. I did give up with one of mine and put him back in nappies.

        But one tip: pull-ups over underwear. Pull-ups give no feedback, but they do prevent mess. It’s worth doing when you go out for the day or in a car. That did help at the very end.

    4. Disco Janet*

      Screw the books. So many of them are written to convince that if it doesn’t work, that means you weren’t committed enough, didn’t do it exactly 100% the “right” way, etc. Truth is, it usually just means your child isn’t ready yet.

      1. Lilo*

        I’m debating taking the win that he’s pooped in the potty and maybe accept he isn’t ready for pee training.

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        THIS!!! I hated pressuring my kid, and feeling pressure myself from judgy relatives. Finally I said “Screw it, if he’s not potty-trained by school, peer pressure will handle it.” Aaaand… That pretty much took care of it. Toddlers can be passive-aggressive and peeing/pooping is one thing they have some control over. We both relaxed and he was cooperating in about a week.

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’ve never potty trained anyone, but I do have some perspective that might be helpful-our friends with nine kids didn’t potty train the younger ones. At all. Since my mother is a dramatic storyteller who often told us kids the Sagas of the Various Pottytraining Incidents, this rather blew my mind. What the large family did was just wait until the youngest got old enough to be embarrassed and inconvenienced by using diapers and decided to start using the toilet instead. They did help the process along with a good bit of social pressure, such as mentioning how inconvenient diapers were every time someone had to change one.

      I’m not recommending this method, mind you. I suspect it works a whole lot less easily when the kid doesn’t have a large handful of older siblings as examples, plus they didn’t have to worry about daycare. But if this method works, and the strict methods also work, then you’ll be fine too.

    6. Generic Name*

      How old is your kid? He may just be too young. I’ve heard that boys potty train later than girls. Mehta is the daycare routine? My son has been a very challenging child, but potty training was the one easy thing with him, and I think he was basically potty trained at daycare. Apparently in the toddler room they line all the kids up to go potty every 30 mins. I think the consistency and the “peer pressure” of observing other kids go was what did it for my son. The weekend I set out to potty train him he got mad at me for constantly interrupting his play. So I said, “fine, I won’t harass you to go potty if you go on your own and don’t have any accidents”….and he didn’t. He’s a very unusual child (neuroatypical/high IQ).

    7. HamlindigoBlue*

      I just realized that I potty trained my kids the same way I house trained my dog. I put them on the potty every hour whether or not they had to go. If they went, they got a star sticker to put on a chart. After so many stars, they got a small treat. We used the kind of pull-up type that got cold when it got wet. Those worked out OK, but they were expensive, so then I just used regular underpants with a waterproof diaper cover.

      Also, and maybe this isn’t for everyone, there was an open door bathroom policy when potty training. If I was in the bathroom, they knew what was going on. I think it helped the idea click.

    8. Tib*

      Even if you’re successful this weekend, the daycare is probably going to want him in pull-ups to avoid messy accidents and that would be the most considerate thing you can do for them. Sure, the process takes longer when you use pull-ups, but like you said, most people get there in the end. One of the things I think I did well was to have a sticker chart that rewarded behaviors as well as results. I gave stickers for asking to use the toilet, using the toilet when asked without argument, and putting something in the toilet. I trained over spring break from preschool and I used training pants and covers and had a much coveted character tee-shirt as the end reward.

    9. Lizy*

      Let me know when you got it figured out. I’m on kid 3 and there’s definitely no “right” way to do it. At the end of the day, kids are gonna get it when they are ready. For some, that’s right after they walk. For others, it’s closer to 4. My 3YO finally is going poop in the potty more than her pull-up. But with her, it’s a pain because she just doesn’t care. Underwear makes no difference- she’s beyond stubborn and just. Doesn’t. Care.

      Also, keep in mind that daytime potty trained is a LOT different than night. It’s not uncommon for kids (boys especially) to wet the bed at 5 and almost 6.

      1. allathian*

        Oddly enough, my son never wet the bed, but it took him ages to potty train. He was sleeping without diapers for six months before he was ready to give up the pull ups during the day.

    10. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I did the naked time (outside tho) that worked well but we had a book and baby with toy potty that we “studied”/played with for a few months before that.
      I love telling the story about how my son was in just a tshirt and started to pee and got quite a shock! He had no idea what it looked like when he peed bc diaper. Then I could see he had to do a BM and I pointed to the potty, a portable one like the one the doll had, and said you can poop there. And he did!
      That worked well for us, but still some accidents! And it took soooooo long to learn to use the right amount of toilet paper!!

      I have seen those targets you can get for the toilet to make peeing in the toilet more fun.

    11. Pregnant during COVID*

      Two things that worked for us. A sticker achievement chart – doesn’t work for all kids but my daughter is highly motivated by incentives, even a sticker. And a portable potty for the car, which took the stress out of frantic searching for public restrooms. One thing that took me a long time to learn is that there isn’t always a straight line to perfectly potty trained. There may be periods of regression tied to big transitions like a new baby on the way, new teacher at daycare, etc.

    12. Cambridge Comma*

      The things I’ve learned are: you have to wait until the right moment. If it’s really, really hard it’s too early.
      ‘Easy’ for me was 3 accidents total with my daughter aged 27 months and 7 with my son aged 31 months (just one week ago so very fresh!)
      Babies in modern disposable nappies don’t feel moisture, so they need to learn and connect action and sensation. Underwear is good for this.
      If you put a nappy on and give an explanation it’s fine. I put nappies on in the car because their timescale would never allow a successful pulling over and getting out. They understand fine.
      Bribing with smarties can work. One for no. 1, 2 for no. 2. When the jar is empty, that’s it (I take a handful each night to empty it quicker.)
      Don’t listen to anyone who hasn’t potty trained a child in the last 2–3 years, you do forget the detail.

    13. Colette*

      When I potty trained my niece, I put her on her potty every time I had to go, and we’d sing a song so that she’d get distracted and forget she didn’t want to go.

  24. anon this weekend*

    Does anyone know this–if you participate in a class action lawsuit and there’s a settlement, and you accept the money, are you now on any kind of blackball list?

    I got a notice that BlueCrossBlueShield was involved in a lawsuit, decided to settle without admitting fault, and that as a BCBS participant during the pertinent time period, I can file a claim for a cash payment. (First time I’ve heard about this but I checked and it seems legit.)

    I’m worried that if I do file, I’ll be blackballed from getting insurance at some point in the future.

    Am I being realistic or worrying too much? (Please, no rants about American health care.)

    1. Texan In Exile*

      Good question and following just for this, as I already got the postcard and filed.

      (BC is evil and I am still ticked off about the time they charged me for a hospital visit – with a $700 deductible – instead of the $45 copay for an office visit when I saw a specialist whose office happened to be in a hospital.)

    2. twocents*

      A quick google search tells me that 1 out of 3 Americans are on BCBS health insurance. If they blackball everyone eligible for their class action lawsuit, then IDK where they would think to go. That seems like a PITA to maintain some sort of list like that.

    3. pancakes*

      Retaliation of that nature would be a great subject for additional class action litigation. I don’t think it is quite realistic to assume an enormous company would be as clumsily vindictive as to maintain a lengthy list of people not to accept payment from. To do so would require the cooperation of many people, I’d think, which would also be unrealistic. Not everyone would be happy to do something so villainous for their employer. The claims administrator for the litigation, for a start, and anyone who accepts payment and/or new enrollments on behalf of BCBS would have to be on board.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. If they are at the point where they are sending out mailers to people who seem to qualify then the big show or the nasty part is over. There’s been a court decree and they are going through the steps.

        You can read their documents carefully to see how your rights are protected and you can also see what your responsibilities are, such as never filing claim on this issue again or whatever.

        Since it’s a class action, individuals in the group are probably not getting a huge chunk of change. In other words, you’re not going to get a million dollars. It’s not worth their while to “go after” you. Typically all they want is for you not to bother them any more on this matter. I accepted a settlement in a class action with a former employer. I got a whooping $28 and for that I gave up any future right to further action. (I did not care about this whole thing, so I was amenable to signing off.)

        For people who worry about fall out, class action groups offer safety in numbers, but these groups also do not get as much money. Try to figure out how much money you would get and if it is that $28 dollars you may decide to just chuck the paper work in the garbage because it’s just not worth the worry to you.

        If you decide to go ahead and accept the settlement, you can keep a file of what all went on and maybe keep some handwritten notes in the file just in case you need it in the future. You probably won’t need it, but keeping a file might help you to forge ahead now.

        Just in general terms, so many people have filed medical suits or insurance suits that a serious number of people would be without insurance if there were a serious large scale effort to track these folks.

        1. pancakes*

          Yes, that’s a good point – individuals in these settlements typically don’t get much. Sometimes the settlements seem enormous, but compared to the defendant’s revenue they’re generally a small drop out of an enormous bucket.

          1. anon this weekend*

            I was wondering about that but it looks like I have to file before they decided what everyone gets.

            If it was $28, I wouldn’t bother. If it’s a few hundred, I might. I wish they’d tell us upfront.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              They do have to know how many people they are paying out to before they can know how much to pay. Perhaps you can call them and ask them what their lowest estimate would be. And then ask what they expect the payments will be.

              1. pancakes*

                There’s always a website for settlements like these. I’d just keep an eye on that.

    4. Skeeder Jones*

      I would check to see if the settlement includes some form of confidentiality clause where the participant information is protected. But I work in healthcare so I can tell you the following:
      If you are purchasing healthcare through an employer, they have a contract with the insurance company that sets the criteria for who is eligible and it’s based on things like how long you’ve worked at the employer and when they decide new employees are eligible (example: 1st of the month following 90 days of employment, 1st of the month following the hire date, etc) so they can’t have other exclusion options.
      If you purchase your healthcare through the ACA (“obamacare”) exchanges, it is similar, they are looking at your age and income and that sort of data and don’t even know who you are until your coverage begins. They cannot exclude you for beyond general eligibility that affects everyone.

  25. Miss Bella Beautiful*

    I have to say goodbye to my cat of 15 years. She has lymphoma and we’ve done everything there is to do, and it’s not enough. It feels so very off since this isn’t an emergency, but I know I’m also a little glad it isn’t an emergency situation. I am also fortunate that the vet will come to my house. I’ve already emailed him, so, soon. Any words of wisdom to get us through this? Any good thoughts and/prayers are also very welcome.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Be kind to both of you. Maybe just sit quietly together? I’m sorry. (No personal experience here. My comments reflect those of AAM readers who have with four-legged family.)

    2. Laura H.*

      Our animal friends leave paw prints on our hearts permanently. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      I am so sorry for your loss. It probably doesn’t feel at all comforting right now to know you’re giving her the gift of a peaceful, pain free end. When I’ve been in your position it hurt terribly, but I know it was the last best thing I could do for them. Virtual hugs, thoughts, and prayers to you.

      1. Ali G*

        Yes, we are so lucky we get to give our pets the gift of ending their suffering. It would hurt so much worse if we had to watch them suffer to the end.

    4. the cat's ass*

      I’m so sorry that you’re close to the end of your long loving road together. I think having her vet come to the house is so much better than taking the cat to the vet, never a fun place for most of our kitties. Jedi hugs.

    5. violet04*

      I’m so sorry. Sending lots of good thoughts your way. My only advice is to take time to grieve and don’t feel like you have to get back to normal in some specific time frame.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Much sympathy! Having the vet come to you is a good thing – both for you and for the cat. (In my case the vet was remarkably kind, especially as I was sobbing a good deal. Another advantage – I didn’t have to try and drive home from a vet clinic in that state of mind.) Afterwards, try and be glad for the cat, while letting yourself grieve its loss from your life.

    7. Miss Bella Beautiful*

      Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts. It’s scheduled for tomorrow morning. I am so heartbroken and lost, but I know it’s for the best. It helps my heart reading your replies.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I’ve only done this once, when it was obvious it was so needed. For my 20 y.o. cat.
        But the moment she closed her eyes I actually felt peace wash through me. Didn’t expect it.
        Best wishes.

      2. alas rainy again*

        I send hugs, long hugs. I found the grief for a pet very violent and blessedly brief when compared to the grief of human beings. That s because my pets lived with me, under my roof. I used to see them mornings, evenings, all the time. It hurts mornings, evenings, all the time. I guess it is the same with close members of family living under the same roof. Then the pain subsides because there is no new “first time without” your pet anymore. Violent and blessedly short grieve for me. Hugs

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Bodies pass away, but love does not.
      The love goes on and on long after our pet/family member has passed. We call the sadness that follows, “grief”. But without love, how much grief would we feel?
      We get to keep the memory of their love and our love for them, that part stays with us and fills our lives and our hearts.

      So very sorry.

    9. It's Quarantime!*

      There are no words. Nothing can fix this. You are heartbroken and no one can make it anything other than the tragedy that it is.
      You are making the decision you believe is best for the one who loves you unconditionally, and even as it’s happening your heart will be screaming at you to stop, to take it back, to find a better way. There is no better way. If there was you’d already have found it.
      Try to be patent with the people around you. They won’t feel this loss to the depths that you do. They’ll tell you about the rainbow bridge. They’ll tell you that your friend had a wonderful life with you. They’ll tell you that your love would want you to be happy. They will tell you that, some day, you’ll have a new love. They’ll be right, but it won’t help you in the moment. Their words will pinch and scrape. Thank them anyway.
      When you are ready, take what comfort you can from memories, pictures, and mementos. Your friend was real, they mattered. Don’t push yourself to be ‘over’ the pain, the grief, the guilt, because it will last as long as it lasts. It will hurt a long as it hurts. Don’t be afraid that it will consume you. The waves of sorrow will crash over you, but you will not drown. The tide will slowly turn, and one day you’ll find yourself smiling through the salty tears, remembering the love you shared.

    10. Rara Avis*

      We just said goodbye to our 18 year-old cat last week. I don’t know if I have any words of wisdom — it was hard, and we miss him a lot. my daughter (12) got the sads at bedtime several nights in a row (he slept with her) and we did a lot of talking about memories and looking at old pictures. I’m sorry that you have to say goodbye.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      So sorry. :( My Elder Statesdog was in the vet Thursday night and Friday getting a biopsy done, and there’s a non-zero chance I’ll be in the same boat before too terribly long. I just made her peanut butter pumpkin cookies.

      So many good thoughts to you and kitty.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have the urns of two cats that have gone before – my husband’s and mine – on top of the bookshelf in my office, where they can look disapprovingly down on me and the dogs as much as they want. We planted each of them a tree – a sour cherry tree for his old man, because they’re rough straight off, but if you put a little work into them, they can be sweet as pie, and a peach tree for my girl because that’s what color she was when I brought her home as a baby.

    12. CanadianCatLady*

      Sometimes it’s the best way you can show your love – by letting them go at the right time. And for it to be in her place, with the people she loves and no scary car journey or vet smells – yes, absolutely, a gift of love. She is blessed. And, much as it hurts, I have found it to be an experience of peace. She is – and will continue to be – in your heart.

    13. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      When we had to go through that with a dog six years ago, the vet wanted to do it immediately. I just couldn’t and begged for a few days if possible. It was a Friday, so they injected a saline pack to keep him hydrated for those two days. On Saturday, we took him to my Mom’s house an hour or so away so she could say goodbye. That night, while my husband slept, I talked to our sweet baby dog for hours, telling him how much we loved him and that we were sending him to stay with Grandpa for now, but we’d see him soon, that time passed differently where he’d be. He was usually a smoochy dog, but this time he couldn’t due to his illness. But I felt something move under the covers and wondered if he’d lost control of his bowels. But it was his tail wagging like mad, the tail that hadn’t moved in weeks. I’m sure he was telling me he heard and understood. Sunday we took him to his favorite parks and carried him around (he was a small dog). He kept lifting his face to the sun and breeze, and I wondered if we were being too hasty. But that night, he woke up screaming in pain several times, so we knew we’d made the right decision, which made it a little easier to say that last goodbye the following morning. It’s so hard but so necessary. Even though we have another dog we love just as much, I still miss him and I’m sitting here bawling like a baby as I re-live those days. Just love the heck out of your furbaby and accept that grief is the price you pay for love.

    14. Small town*

      Miss Bella, thinking about you today. I wish you all loving kindness and peace.

    15. Miss Bella Beautiful*

      My beautiful girl is gone, may she rest in peace. Please know I read each of your responses (and re-read them) and they do mean a lot to me. This forum is such a special place, full of special people. Thank you.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Oh I’m so sorry for your loss. Much love to you, and I hope the fact that she is no longer in pain brings you some peace. Thinking of you.

  26. Kelly Brooke*

    Is being in love supposed to f*** you up?

    I was in love with someone two years ago the last time, and being with him was so potent that I felt like it had to be bad. You have to be “ok” to be by yourself, right? Not feel so different when you’re alone versus with someone, right?

    1. Disco Janet*

      Honeymoon phase might feel like that, but that’s not sustainable and definitely isn’t what defines love for me (if it was, love would never last!)

      1. Kelly Brooke*

        It sounds like you’re saying it’s normal and if you accept it then it will pass, right? Whenever I felt like that I thought it was like doing some horrible drug so I would be terrible to the person until they left me alone. I went to so many anti drug seminars that they really engrained it into your head that if you felt differently with some substance that that meant it was bad for you, and true happiness is being more being at an even keel than high highs, bc that leads to low lows. I guess I just transferred that same thing over cause I felt like you should feel the same with other people as you do alone.

        1. fposte*

          This sounds like some overzealous anti-drug training is what has effed your thinking up, not love. I’m a pretty even-keeled person, but even I enjoy spikes of joy and excitement and experience appropriate grief and anger; potency of emotion is not a sign of dysfunction. I mean, it’s arguable whether the initial relationship “high” lasts (there’s a reason for the term New Relationship Energy), but what if you just thought of it as an amusement park ride rather than a drug? Just say “Whee!” and stick your hands up in the air while it’s rolling.

          And you may be talking about some experiences when you were a kid; when you’re an adult, you just say that you’re not interested and you’re going to back off now, rather than putting the onus on the other person to change in response to your feelings.

          1. Kelly Brooke*

            “potency of emotion is not a sign of dysfunction.” I’ve never heard that before. Thanks.

            1. fposte*

              Emotional dysregulation is definitely a thing, but it’s more about a pattern of intense emotions that the person can’t cope with. It’s normal to have some high notes and some low notes.

        2. pancakes*

          That’s a pretty moralistic and blinkered take on drugs in itself. I don’t see any good reason to extend it to relationships as well. Even animals take drugs – reindeer eat hallucinogenic mushrooms and birds and elephants get drunk on fermented fruit, for example. People have been consuming drugs in various forms for many thousands of years, some for ritualistic or religious reasons, and many others just because they enjoy the feeling. Experiencing pleasure isn’t inherently terrible or shameful. I think you should consider unpacking some of the lessons you were taught with a counselor to see how much of the substance is well-considered and how much of it is autocratic sanctimony.

        3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          I may have misunderstood your original question. Yes, it’s normal.

          Most people who are in romantic relationships have gone through a period of feeling like they couldn’t get enough of their partner. That’s pretty normal and not necessarily unhealthy.

        4. PollyQ*

          Experiences =/= Substances.

          It’s entirely normal that some activities are more enjoyable and put you in a better mood than others. E.g., being stuck in traffic vs. watching a fun movie, going to a party vs. catching up on paperwork, playing with your kid vs. coping with their temper tantrum, etc. etc., to infinity. (And of course, these are all individual.) There’s nothing pathological with feeling happier in some circumstances than others, and that includes when you’re falling in love, and even being with the person you love after the first flush has worn off.

          I would also say that many medications make you feel better in some way, and that’s also fine and good. Taking an OTC med, say, for a backache, is likely to put you in a better mood by virtue of simply taking away the pain, and that’s great. Ditto things like anti-depressants, etc.

    2. Nela*

      Being in love is an evolutionary mechanism that encourages couples to make babies, so yeah, it can get pretty intense! Whenever I was in love or had a crush, I had trouble focusing on anything else and being apart was a drag. The good news is, it wears off after a few months and if you remain together, you will probably eventually want some alone time.
      There maybe folks who stay clingy well into their relationships, and that’s a sign of insecure attachment that should be addressed in therapy.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        Being in love is an evolutionary mechanism that encourages couples to make babies, so yeah, it can get pretty intense!

        Yeah that’s why same-sex couples, asexual people, and infertile folks actually have no capacity for love! What I think is love is actually just a deep desire for potato salad, misdirected to a partner who makes really good potato salad.

        (Science has not officially concluded why love exists, for the record. There are theories, but nothing conclusive. And that’s okay.)

        Anyway, yeah, infatuation is just like that sometimes. It’s not always a bad thing–I do get very excited to hang out with my spouse, even 9 years in! But you have to be okay with yourself to some extent, because you can’t be in each other’s back pocket all the time. Also, you have to look at your partner and think, “Would I still like this person if I didn’t love them?”

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          “Would I still like this person if I didn’t love them?”

          Oh man, for real.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Now I want potato salad and I blame you. :) (Amusingly, my metaphor for explaining asexuality is actually pizza based.)

          1. Queer Earthling*

            I’m demi and my spouse is both a) the first/only person I’ve been seriously involved with and b) the only person who makes potato salad I actually like, so, a surprisingly apt metaphor lmao

      2. Office Goblin*

        Being in love is an evolutionary mechanism that encourages couples to make babies, so yeah, it can get pretty intense!

        Yeah, cuz no one’s ever made a baby that wasn’t in love

      3. Nela*

        Both of you are putting words into my mouth that I didn’t say, nor imply.

        It is evolutionary advantageous for the first few months of relationship to be emotionally intense because it can help with pair bonding. After that, it’s evolutionary advantageous for the emotional high to subside, because if they have produced offspring, they need to be stable and clear headed in order to properly care for it.

        It has nothing to do with straight vs same sex relationships, and it’s definitely not a prerequisite for sex (protected or not). But it’s a strong and logical hypothesis that explains why falling in love can make us feel and act drastically different from our everyday selves, and why it may have benefited us in an evolutionary sense.

        And it has nothing to do with “true” love, the topic of this conversation was “falling in love”. They’re two distinct emotional mechanisms.

        1. pancakes*

          This theory didn’t come about in a parallel universe where there’s no such thing as same-sex relationships, though, and same-sex relationships aren’t inherently less emotionally intense than hetero ones. People in same-sex relationships fall in love too, of course, whether you think it’s logical for them to do so or not. More broadly speaking, there seem to be many, many good reasons why other scientists and scholars are often sharply critical of evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology. Neither field is universally respected. Check out the work of Subrema Smith on this.

          1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            Yes. It’s always worth second-guessing our assumptions about “why”, since why is hard to test!

            Not much of biologist, but I would also guess that if we were to follow the idea that ‘love is an evolutionary mechanism for making babies ‘ we would eventually wander into debates between group-selection evolution vs. gene-centred evolution. And my understanding is that those debates are largely unresolved.

            1. pancakes*

              Me either, but your second paragraph reminds me of a debate on competing evolutionary theories at the American Museum of Natural History my college paleontology prof took us to. I don’t remember who was on stage but some of the participants’ arguments were sharply at odds, to the point it seemed like a couple of them might come to blows with one guy in particular! Or would’ve wanted to, if there hadn’t been a small audience. It was wild. Very interesting and entertaining.

          2. Queer Earthling*

            Yes! Also, romantic attraction and sexual attraction are not the same thing; for many people they are connected, but for many they are not. So two people being very intensely involved emotionally, but not sexually, wouldn’t really be producing babies.

        2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Not trying to pile on, but I do wonder if you’re oversimplifying the research here.

          There is a lot to suggest that pair-bonding in adults is rooted in the same attachment mechanisms which have been well-researched in children.

          And attachment theory is less about ‘creating babies’ per se and more about how humans have evolved to create collaborative groups and depend on each other. This is crucial for us as a species because our infants would not survive without care, nor could a single adult effectively birth and care for an infant without the support of others. Babies need to learn to attach to caretakers and they will often experience intense feelings of connection in order to develop and sustain that connection.

          Many (most?) species procreate without experiencing bonding, so I’m not sure we can draw a conclusive line between mating and the human capacity for attachment.

          1. jolene*

            And those species don’t produce babies who need looking after for years before they can function independently.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Falling in love certainly makes you feel different when you are with the person vs away from them. It’s not the intensity that’s good or bad, it’s what kind of behavior you bring out in each other, your dynamic, and how it affects your life, your other friend/family relationships, and self-worth overall.

      Over time, the intensity of the difference between together & apart changes and smooths out. But you still miss each other, are glad to see each other, etc.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Since I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking, I will add: yes, you need to be generally okay with yourself/by yourself in order to have a healthy & mature relationship. And when you’re in love, being apart from the other person shouldn’t make you feel anxious or depressed, or like you’re dying, or worthless, or that life has no meaning.

        But missing the other person or being distracted/preoccupied by thoughts of them, intensely anticipating seeing them again, or experiencing life as brighter, richer, more enjoyable in every way when you’re together – yes that’s all normal & healthy.

        Falling in love/being in love, or being with people you love like family, is supposed to feel good. It isn’t a drug. It’s the genuine experience that drugs counterfeit.

        Drugs become addictive because they hijack the pleasure centers that are activated by real, positive experiences. And the damage of addiction is when the drug-induced pleasure (or booze, or gambling, or conspiracy theories, or all the other things we can get addicted to) starts taking over and hijacking a person’s life, so they stop pursuing good real-life relationships, accomplishments, and healthy experiences.

        1. pancakes*

          I was with you until the drugs part. There are lots and lots of drugs that don’t bring about a sensation of falling in love or anything close to it that people nonetheless find very pleasurable. There are also drugs that people find pleasurable that don’t become addictive. There is an emerging body of evidence that drugs like psychedelic mushrooms are useful in treating addiction to other substances.

          I recommend the show Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia for anyone who wants to learn more about this stuff. He’s the son of documentary filmmaker Errol Morris and really knowledgable about chemistry.

          1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            Carl Hart also writes a lot about this, as well as how the intersection between actual scientific evidence and socioeconomic factors is muddier than people like to think.

            And Science Vs. has a great episode on MDMA where they talk about some of these assumptions (such as: if something makes you feel this good, it MUST have an equal and opposite negative impact).

            1. pancakes*

              Carl Hart is very interesting – I’ve been following him on Twitter but haven’t read his book yet.

          2. RagingADHD*

            Removed. Please don’t be snarky to others here; it makes it a less pleasant place. You’re welcome to repost without that bit. – Alison

          3. RagingADHD*

            You seem to have missed the fact that I was talking about the difference between addiction (to many different things or behaviors) and good relationships.

            Addiction is harmful and destructive. Loving healthy relationships aren’t.

            Nothing in this thread is about literal, physical drugs at all, so I’m not sure why a chemistry encyclopedia or scientific research would even come up.

            1. pancakes*

              I was responding to your comment that falling in love “isn’t a drug. It’s the genuine experience that drugs counterfeit.” Also to your comment that “Drugs become addictive because they hijack the pleasure centers that are activated by real, positive experiences.” Neither of these assertions ring true in terms of what many, many people who use various drugs experience, or in terms of scientists’ understanding of what happens to people’s pleasure centers when they use drugs. For starters, what is true of some drugs is not true for any and all across the board.

    4. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      We use the world love to mean all sorts of things, so I don’t think there’s a simple answer to that question.

      Many people desire a secure love with a long-term partner that leaves them feeling worthy and supported. So they can be true to who they are when are alone but with an extra boost.

      That sort of love exists and it is possible to find and cultivate it (although it takes time to establish, IMO).

    5. Generic Name*

      Well, did the potency feel “good” or “bad”? I had a fling with a guy that was very potent, but it didn’t feel good. I mean it was “good” when we were intimate, but the rest of the time not so much. It feels good being with my husband pretty much all the time. In fact, the positive feelings I got with my husband were what kept me interested in a relationship with him even if we weren’t a match “on paper”.

      I would say that if being with someone effs you up, it’s not a good relationship. I do feel a spark/butterflies/toes wiggle with my husband and I absolutely love spending time with him, but I feel good and not messed up.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      This sounds like a question with many layers that might be worth chatting about with a counselor.

      It might help to define what “FU up” means. If you are pushing aside your morals, your ethics and your values for a person, then no this is not love.
      If you find that you have changed and you don’t like you/or like yourself even less than before, then nope this is not the person for you.
      If you find loved ones and people you respect are questioning what’s up with you, then this may not be the person for you.

      There are folks who believe that if the relationship starts out absolutely on fire, then it will be a temporary relationship with a sad ending. Personally, I go back to what my wise friend used to say about highs and lows. Any time we go high we can expect a low to follow at some point. As the song goes, “was the high, worth the pain?” My answer has always been no. I don’t wanna hit concrete at 90 mph, physically or in an emotional equivalent. I place a high value on having things on an even keel.

      It’s wise to be okay alone with yourself. We have to understand that we are complete on our own. Just as we want an SO who takes ownership of their life, so must we. We don’t want a needy, high maintenance, lotsa drama SO and if they are well-adjusted people then neither do THEY!

      It’s worthwhile to learn to pay attention to your gut feelings, your intuition. Keep track of the times your gut has been correct and pay attention to how your gut felt during those times. This is how we learn to follow our gut feelings.
      FWIW, if you felt that the relationship was so potent that it had to be bad, it might be worth a double check to see what you may have observed and brushed to one side, or what you may have subconsciously observed that left your gut feeling this way. When you have felt something to be bad previously, how did that play out? Was it actually bad or were you off the mark?

      Feeling differently when alone. Now here is a broad topic. My punchline is that I believe our SOs should help us to feel like we can do more and be more. And we should give them the same feeling of being lifted upward.

      True happiness? I gave up on looking for happiness a while ago. I decided to seek contentment. Contentment is enduring and stable. Contentment has satisfaction embedded in it.
      Happiness is like someone give you a surprise birthday cake, you blow out the candles, eat the cake and the cake is gone. You have to go find a new cake or whatever.
      Contentment is more like a good and trusted friend, they were in your life years ago, they are still here and there is little reason to doubt that they will still be around in years to come.

      You know, the one of the better pieces of advice I heard, I heard it later in life when it was less helpful. The advice said, “It’s through our friendships and our relationships with family that we learn what it is we want and don’t want in an SO. We also learn how much we are willing to give and what we are not willing to give.” Now there is something that is pretty obvious, except when it’s not, like it wasn’t obvious to me.

      I remember my husband when he first met me saying that he was impressed that I had many life long relationships currently active in my life. He said that he felt it gave him a comparison as to what he how he could expect us to weather our relationship. I thought that was clever to think of that. There are NO certainties in life, but we can make good estimates or guesses based on what we see.

      I remember the song, “Love is a Drug”. (Nazareth?) ummm. no. I read that love is not an emotion, it’s a commitment. Yep, this sounds more realistic to me. Love is a partnership with two people who realize that life is work with ups and downs and they are willing and they commit to going through the ups and downs of life with each other.

      1. Kelly Brooke*

        I felt like it was bad because I was so happy around him that I wanted to be around him all the time. I felt like I was addicted so therefore shouldn’t care about him. You know, “If you love something let it go.” I thought caring about something meant that I would be trying too hard.

        1. ThatGirl*

          This sounds like early attraction/infatuation to me. It’s not indicative of healthy or unhealthy, it’s just new relationship energy. “If you love something let it go” is not really applicable to that, unless he was starting to feel smothered or something. I feel like you got some bad ideas about relationships somewhere. To me the sign of a good relationship is that you still like each other and respect each other when the infatuation starts to fade.

        2. Generic Name*

          Honestly, sometimes I feel like I can’t get enough of my husband, and yeah it feels a little like addiction. I know he feels the same about me. It’s okay to care deeply about someone. Feeling “meh” when you let someone go isn’t love, it’s indifference. I think the “if you love some let them go” is a response to being possessive. I think a balance is good. My husband and I both have our friends and hobbies separate from each other. He likes to go backpacking with his buddies. Honestly, I’d rather have him home with me, but I know he needs those trips, so I support them. I miss him terribly when he’s gone and am super happy when he returns.

    7. HannahS*

      That’s a big question to ask the internet without much context so it’s hard to say what will apply to you, yourself. But here are some questions that might help you reflect a little:
      Were you raised to be suspicious of good things, or to have a belief that pleasure is morally wrong?
      Did the non-him parts of your life suffer when you were together? Was your relationship so consuming that your other relationships, or hobbies suffered?
      What does it mean to you to be in love with someone? For some people, love feels like a roller-coaster! For others, it feels like lying peacefully in the sun.
      What was different about being with him versus being alone? Did you feel like your identity was different when you together–like you were a different person with him? Were you miserable when you were alone?

      1. Kelly Brooke*


        1. No, but it was a non-topic, no discussion about it, so it wasn’t a thing that existed.
        2. My job was terrible, but he didn’t make it so. It wasn’t literally consuming because I only saw him a couple times a month, but it was consuming in other ways because I thought about him most of the time.
        3. I have no idea.
        4. Being with him… I could sleep, like, I’ve never felt better being asleep than when I was with him, and I didn’t realize how bad I felt sleeping alone. I felt like I was a better person when I was with him, like he saw me as a person. I guess I was kind of miserable alone because I wasn’t being honest to him about how I felt because I thought he would think I was creepy (even after we hooked up). I just couldn’t imagine it was possible for a man to want a relationship (even one who has been in relationships before).

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yeah…based on what you’re saying here and in other replies, it sounds like you could benefit from unpacking a lot of your upbringing in therapy. That kind of stuff is really tough to shake on your own, because it’s so deeply ingrained, and it sounds like it could hold you back from enjoying a lot of good things in your life, beyond romantic relationships.

    8. allathian*

      When people fall in love, that first stage can really mess up your brain. The brain chemistry is very similar to psychosis, which is why that first “crazy in love” stage rarely lasts more than 18 months or two years. Everyone experiences it differently, though. When my husband and I started dating, he lived 5 hours away. We only met on the weekends and vacations. I knew on our second date that he was a keeper, and for the first year at least I was counting the days and hours to our next meeting whenever we weren’t together.

    9. Rebecca Stewart*

      I feel safer and happier with my partners around. It’s not quite as good as taking my meds, but I can tell that there’s a little dopamine glow, day to day, every morning.

      When they aren’t around (most recently because Girlfriend needed inpatient mental health help) I don’t feel right and I’m sad, kind of a background thing.

      The potency settles down over time. (Thank all the gods.)

  27. Lifelong student*

    Crafting thread!

    What’s on your hook, needles, loom or other craft medium this week?

    I finished a log cabin crocheted lapghan this week. I like to make lapghans to donate and often modify larger patterns to that size. The projects don’t take as long or require as much investment in yarn.

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I just finished cutting the jersey for a night shirt! I’m nervous. I need to make more kid pants, but this seemed like lots more fun. :)

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      Currently working on a summer cardigan (Crochet Samhradh Cardigan) using some yarn I got in a mystery box (maybe a cotton/acrylic blend?). Then, I’m going to start on the Summer Nights Throw. It uses a fade stitch that I’ve never done before, so that will be fun.

      Other than that, I’m still making no-show running socks until I run out of sock yarn, which will probably never happen.

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’ve been working on a shift top – made the body and have prepped the sleeves, but annoyingly I accidentally recycled the pattern piece for the back neck facing and it came the day before I went on holiday. It seems to be coming together pretty well though! I am a little nervous how the sleeves will fit, but I’m seeing this as mainly a practice run for learning new techniques (bust darts, gathering, setting in sleeves, facings etc) and a wearable garment at the end would be a bonus.

    4. Dr.KMnO4*

      I’m trying to finish the second sock of a pair. I’ve made many pairs of socks before, but these are pretty unique- they don’t have a heel. The sock is a long tube that ends with a circular toe. It’s a cabled pattern, but not a traditional cable. It’s a 3 x 3 rib, where one stitch is moved over to the next knit or purl section. One sock has a left twist and the other has a right twist. It looks really cool when it’s done, but it’s tedious to do after a while since the sock has to be pretty long to accommodate for the lack of a heel. Thankfully I’m almost done with the second sock.

    5. Knitting Pandas*

      Knitting – two cardigans, one scarf and have a WIP that is just stockinette tube for a cowl (but it is planned pooling), about to cast on a colorwork hat (kep) and planning my next sweater which will be a pullover — colorwork or cables.

    6. OyHiOh*

      So at the moment, I have a massive beading project and two ambitious paper sculpting projects on my table but just yesterday decided to start a third paper piece.

      Beading – translating a well known Gauguin painting into beads, on a styrofoam head. I’ve been picking at it for months. Thousands of tiny glass beads that have to be glued in no more than three or four at a time.

      Paper pieces – two thousand cranes projects and the third is basically a gigantic vase of origami tulips. There’ll be 569 pieces of paper in that one when it’s finished.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      3-day weekend here so I hope to get back to my very slow growing lengthwise scarf. Every row is a different yarn, I’m doubling some thin yarns, so I can’t knit without watching my fingers.
      I also checked out sock books from the library because I have had a pair of toe-up socks stuck at the short-row heel for years and I want to be done!

    8. Dancing Otter*

      Friday, I finished an English paper pieced quilt top that I started in the 1980’s!
      I have a pair of pink variegated socks on the needles, well one sock so far. I’ve tried knitting two at a time, but always run into trouble at the heels.
      And I’m making twenty more pieced heart quilt blocks, because I wasn’t satisfied with the way the first batch turned out.
      There’s a sashiko rice bag in time out right now, while I make the hearts. My fingertips are sore from poking myself with the embroidery needle.

    9. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Needlepointing like frantic over here to finish my current piece so I can get it off the frame and start a new one. Its only taken two weeks to do this top part, and then I have the bottom component to finish and I’ll be done! Its been a really fun project and so calming – instead of making it into a cushion I think I want to frame it.

      I signed up for a two day rag rug making course in early October, with a friend of mine, in a workshop space out in the country. The woman leading the course makes some really gorgeous abstract rag rugs, so hoping to learn a lot and turn a pile of useless stuff into something new and beautiful.

      I also designed a small 8 x 10 needlepoint design I am working on in-between as a trial, but its only four colors (there is a reason for this) and its a little tedious to stitch but won’t take but a few day to finish AND I dont need to put it on a frame which makes it easy to hand hold and stitch while watching something.

      Got a ton of canvas and lots of new colors and want to learn bargello next.

    10. Elle Woods*

      I scrapbook and am working on my “Week in the Life” project from May 10-16. I’ve got one of seven days done so far. Took lots of pictures and notes that week. Having a tough time trying to decide what to include and what to exclude.

    11. Rebecca Stewart*

      I have four patterns and between the four and my costuming ability I should be able to come up with something stayish/corsetish/longline bra/undervestish to deal with the fact that my torso is losing weight and my breasts aren’t, and it’s starting to weigh on me in a literal and painful fashion. Also buying new bras regularly is expensive, especially when you can’t try them on and don’t know if you need an H or an I or a J in this bra. With this I can go with a front zip to get it on and off and a back lace to adjust, and hopefully get through until I’ve finished losing weight and can get some surgery done to get less bust and rid of the sagging belly skin. This will be interesting.

  28. Nicki Name*

    Can someone recommend a low-end Android phone, ideally something that fits in girl-pants pockets? I’m looking for something I’ll just be using for travel, for keyless entry to hotel rooms and so forth.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        If that’s USEFUL pockets, you have my vote.

        I finally upgraded to an Android phone last year, but I still miss my cute & compact little slider phone.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Useful pockets, sleeves, and potty parity.

          I don’t think I’m asking too much.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            Ooooh! I’d like to add these planks: wage equity; the end of misogny, femicide, and sexual harassment; equity in medical research; and some sort of universal social miracle that gives *all* human beings the ability to see what needs doing, and then get it done (e.g. take out the garbage, fill or empty the dishwasher, wipe crumbs and spills off counters). But the last items are first world problems! I’d settle for the end of misogny, femicide, sexual harassment, and medical research with no female subjects (cis or trans).

            1. Jean (just Jean)*

              Alison, feel free to delete this if it’s too much off-topic, or too close to political, or just plain obnoxious. (Memo to self: next time, think twice *before* hitting “send comment.”) :-|

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Clothing sold by measurements, and a mall would have at least one business where we can go get measured.

      2. Generic Name*

        Me too! My favorite nightgown (recommended to me by a poster here, in fact) has pockets!

      3. Pocket Mouse*

        Was gonna say, NOTHING fits in girl-pants pockets. Sorry to have no advice, just commiseration.

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          My phone and wallet fit into all my pants pockets. I don’t buy pants without sufficient pocket capacity.

        2. Pocket Mouse*

          I mean… was I exaggerating? Yes. Am I very careful about the pants I buy? Yes. Are my phone and wallet options severely limited by the size of the pockets in pants that fit my size and style? Also yes. Is it extra difficult with business casual clothing? Yep. Is it always possible to find out the size of pockets, or if the pockets are even real, when buying clothes online? No. Do I assume pockets on girls’/women’s clothing will be able to accommodate my (small) phone and (tiny) wallet? Absolutely not, unless/until I try it in person. It’s not even guaranteed front pockets can reliably contain a small set of keys and chapstick, which is mind-boggling to me.

          I’ll check out Land’s End on your recommendation, Clisby- thanks!

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Mine’s Motorola and it fits my pockets, but decent pockets are my chief requirement when I purchase pants.

    1. Bethlam*

      My Samsung Galaxy A01 was only $100 and fits in a pocket. Trade-off for not having a big screen or keyboard. But I was transitioning from a flip phone and pocket size was one of my had-to-haves.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      Not a low end phone, but I have a Samsung Galaxy S9 (just the standard one) and it fits in all of my pants pockets, so you can use that as a dimensions guide. It’s one of my main criteria when phone shopping!

    3. Buni*

      The size of newer phones is one of my rage-inducers, which is why I’ve got a Samsung S4 Mini (for comparison I think the new release is up to the S21).

      I got it second-hand just before lockdown (so like, 10-15 years old already), it’s a fully-functioning smartphone just 12.5 x 6cm, I like.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Durability lovers unite. Mine is S4 or S5–can’t see the branding to tell through the OtterBox–and a $13 replacement battery fixed problems I had been having with it. Unfortunately some apps are dropping support (my bank).

    4. Lady Alys*

      I downsized from a Pixel XL to a Pixel 4a and have been fairly pleased – it’s small enough that I can hold it with the attached pop socket & text with one thumb (when I’m not dictating to it),

    5. Observer*

      What do you mean by “low end”.

      The Pixel 4a is $350 – very solid phone, camera goes head to head with stuff hundreds of dollars more expensive and is just an overall solid phone that will get updates like clockwork.

      If you want something less expensive, some of the lower end Nokia and Motorola phones are really nice. I haven’t been as happy with Samsung in that price range,.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        I’ll second there pixel 4a recommendation! My partner has a pixel 3 and it’s a solid phone! I imagine the 4a is also great

    6. Hapax Legomenon*

      I’ve had a Redmi Note 7 for about a year and a half now. It defo sticks out of my girl pants pockets, but I can carry it in a back pocket if I need to, and it’s survived a good number of falls with just a cheap screen protector and the case it came with. At the time I bought it, I was Googling “Best Cheap Android Phones” and in the reviews it was mentioned as having a good battery life, which has been pretty true. I’d check some reviews to see if the later Redmi Notes are as reliable(looks like they’re on 9 or 10) but you can get one for well under $200.

  29. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Any recommendations for shows to watch on HBO max? I’ll have it for a month, and I’m looking for something light hearted and fun to watch. 

    Also, does anyone else find that they really don’t take advantage of all the vast content that’s available on the streaming services? It’s so hard for me to get into a new show, I watch the same 5-6 shows on Hulu, Netflix I barely touch and I’m considering paying for Youtube just for Cocomelon (for the spud, not me) without ads. I haven’t had a TV since 2008, so I’ve never really had that just loaf on the couch and surf life. 

    1. DistantAudacity*

      Yeah, it was much easier when everything was on Netflix :)

      I have to say, I’ve gotten better at curating my streaming services: if there’s something I particularly want to watch, I’ll subscribe for a month and just cancel the service immediatly.

      There’s way too much for me to manage to pay attention to, or care, about most of it. I have Netflix, a current annual at Disney+ for the Marvel TV series, and Viki for my K-drama/C-drama fix.

      And I’m really annoyed that it’s very very difficult to get Letterkenny in my location (it’s on Hulu, which is very regionally NA and requires a lot of hoops to make it think that’s where my AppleTV is located). F*** you, Shoresy.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I still remember the days when I had to mail back the CD every few days and get a new one. What a time.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Heh! I remember mailing back the CDs, too – and getting very upset when I was mid-series and the next installment arrived cracked or unplayable. That said, I was *also* miffed when my favorite selections were phased to streaming-only as the inventory of CDs/DVDs dried up, because my internet connection at the time wasn’t up to streaming videos without glitching, so I preferred the hard-copy formats.

          Nowadays streaming is (mostly) so pain-free that it’s hard to remember the old days… But the sheer variety of sources has headaches of its own. At the moment I have Netflix (subscription) and HBO Max (via my cable provider), and I dip into the free offerings at Funimation and Crunchyroll for anime that’s not available elsewhere.

        2. Filosofickle*

          I still get the CDs! That’s how I get newer releases as well as the back catalog. :D

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I wish they’d put that back catalog on the streaming servers. I had to cut out the discs because money. I still had it for a while since it was kind of fun to get them–I would forget what was next on my queue, so it was like a surprise.

            1. Filosofickle*

              The streaming rights are so complex and expensive I get why they don’t, but it really is frustrating how little older content is available. I’ll probably cancel it soon — got it for movie nights with my now-ex — but am cramming some movies/shows in first!

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Yeah, I sometimes have to dig pretty deep into the internet to find an older movie if I want to watch it. I liked that about the discs.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        We’ve never subscribed to more than Prime Video, although this summer might bring a couple months of Disney+.
        @DistantAudacity, Prime has Chinese & Korean shows–my high school student has us all watching.

    2. WellRed*

      I rarely get into new shows and I find Netflix for example, offers a lot of not very good stuff.

    3. GoryDetails*

      HBO Max has season 4 of the Great Pottery Throwdown – strongly recommended! The contestants all seem to like each other and to love their craft, and the various challenges and creations are awesome.

    4. merope*

      I really like The Great Pottery Throw-Down. There are 4 seasons; it is a version of the Great British Bake-Off, but with pottery rather than food. The stress level of the show is about the same as GBBO, and the judges and host are really lovely (as are the contestants). They typically have a Main Make (the main thing they are creating) and then some skills tests, including making things while blindfolded, or make as many of a thing as you can in a limited time frame. I learned a lot about ceramics that I did not know, and they make some really beautiful and interesting things.

    5. Coco*

      I really enjoyed Made for Love and the first season of Nancy Drew. Nancy Drew isn’t quite lighthearted – spookier than expected but spouse and I really enjoyed it and are looking forward to season 2.

      Also enjoyed Michael Che’s show, Generation Hustle, and the Flight Attendant.

    6. Mstr*

      Love Life (drama but pleasant enough)

      Some older comedy series:
      New Adventures of Old Christine
      The Middle

    7. rabbit rabbit*

      HBO Max: INSECURE is good. Loving HACKS (although push through the first episode; I found Ava to be terribly annoying and had to let her grow on me). Not light, but a lot of people enjoy MARE OF EAST TOWN.

    8. Pharmgirl*

      Search Party is on HBO Max – sort of a dark comedy / weird humor, but I enjoyed it.

  30. Ali G*

    Has anyone “upgraded” your cookware to something like a Le Cruset set? I have a bunch of mis-matched casserole/baking dishes and frankly my Calphalon non-stick pot and pan set hasn’t held up as well as I expected (they are about 7 years old). I’m considering replacing everything with something that would hold up better (and be prettier if I am honest).
    I have a Staub dutch oven which I love (and I have a few cast iron pans), but never considered enamel for every day cooking.
    If you use enamel cookware, what has your experience been? Does it hold up? Any pitfalls?

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      We have some enamel baking stuff and it’s lovely! It has held up really well! It wasn’t expensive, nor is it particularly pretty, though, so I can’t speak to that.

    2. fposte*

      I run more to All-Clad than enamel so I can’t speak to the question, but nonstick never lasts; 7 years is pretty good if you use them regularly.

      1. Ali G*

        Ho do you like the All-Clad? Do you have to use a lot of fat so stuff (like eggs) doesn’t stick?

        1. fposte*

          Omelets are the closest thing I do to cooking eggs, and those I do use a nonstick for. (I just grab whatever the budget pick is in Cook’s Illustrated reviews.) I make a ton of soup so the All-Clad dutch oven is great, and I love the frying pan for browning meat (I have shoulder issues so heavy cast iron is a no-go). But I don’t match cookware lines and have a well-recommended aluminum KitchenAid pan for some things. They all clean up with a soak and a scour even if I burn something on them, and I’m super-lazy on washing.

        2. BRR*

          Eggs should be done in a non stick pan or well seasoned cast iron. With stainless steel, just make sure the pan is hot before adding oil. I use lodge non enamel for most things though.

          1. pancakes*

            Carbon steel is well regarded too, but yes, I use my Lodge cast iron pans a LOT. I am generally wary of non-stick pans due to their tendency to chip and the chemicals used in the coatings of some of them, but I did buy a Misen one and am happy with it.

            I have a couple pieces of Le Cruset and I like them too, but I would say the stock pot isn’t worth buying. It’s not enameled cast iron like the rest of the line – it would be impossibly heavy if it was – and the coating on the inside bottom of the one I received as a gift hasn’t held up well. It discolored and maybe wore away a bit and I stopped using it.

            1. Clisby*

              I use my cast iron pans more than anything else – I have 3 sizes of frying pans, a Dutch oven, and a grill/griddle that can be used on the stovetop or in the oven/under the broiler.

    3. CTT*

      I haven’t done a full upgrade, but I have a few pieces of Lodge’s enamel cookware and really like it. It’s definitely Budget Creuset, but Lodge is a solid company so I know it’s not going to fall apart.

    4. Generic Name*

      I have a stainless steel set by The Main Ingredients that has lasted 20 years. I also have able crueset enamel baking dish the same age that has held up well. I think stainless is ultimately easier to clean.

    5. Buni*

      I have a few Le Creuset / Cousances (also French, v. like le creuset) that I ‘inherited’ (wrested) from my mother who had ‘inherited’ them from my grandmother in turn. They must be at least 40-50 years old now and still going fine. Cousances are near-identical but less well know so might be a little cheaper.

      As a warning tho, don’t go onto the Le Crueset website if you’re not one of those people who likes weeping over beautiful things you can’t afford…

      1. Teapot Wrangler*

        Sadly Cousances are no more. They were bought by Le C and they haven’t made them in about 40 years! :(

    6. mreasy*

      I have All-Clad and two Le Creuset Dutch ovens (small and large). I only ever use nonstick for pan frying tofu and some other things – for eggs, I just do the All-Clad (but yeah, you need a lot of butter). We have a couple of decent but lower end sauté pans as well and the difference in even heating is quite noticeable. One of my Le Creuset is outlet (tiniest imperfection and it was half retail) and ive had them for 15 or so years, beautiful even heating and cooking.

      1. mreasy*

        Oh but I would skip the set as you always end up with some weird pieces you won’t use! Buy the pieces you need and will use (and this way you can accrue over time).

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My favorite cookware for about sixteen years now (geez) has been anodized aluminum – mine is usually Anolon, but Calphalon does a line too. My husband just got me a new set for my birthday (it was on my wishlist :) ) and the 8 year old older set was still in excellent enough shape that I handed it down to a friend. I don’t use teflon-style nonstick for anything because I’m paranoid about it, and the anodized aluminum barely needs any oil and cleans up like a charm. (In fact, it says it’s dishwasher safe, but I don’t put the pans in the dishwasher, just the lids.) We have an enamel Dutch oven, but I don’t use it a whole lot, my husband is the one who wanted it – ditto a cast iron skillet. I don’t much care for the enamel or cast iron because they’re so dang heavy and I’m always worried that I’m going to drop them on either my foot or my stovetop with dire consequences to something.

    8. Pots n Pans*

      I got a set of 5 ply SS cookware 10 yrs ago … much cheaper than all clad. It was best thing I ever bought… The big set was a bit too much for me so I gave a couple of the small pots with lids to a single friend who could use it.

      Between these and instant pots (2), I’m set.

    9. Aealias*

      Pitfalls: high heat. Searing my roasts before moving to the oven was the death of my Le Creuset roaster. The enamel started flying off like popcorn ( that was NOT great when it hit me in the face!) and it turns out high heat voids the warranty. Le Creuset offered me 50% off a replacement, in a show of good will, but I couldn’t actually justify $300 any better than the full replacement cost of $600.

      That said, I picked up second-hand ones on my local buy and sell, and use them regularly for bread, soups, stews. They just don’t go stove-top to oven anymore. They’re really easy to clean, and lower-maintenance than straight cast iron (which I seem to have to re-season every time I turn around. Hubs can’t get the hang of “wash right away and heat to dry”.)

      1. newbie*

        Le Crueset doesn’t handle high heat? What the heck is the $300 for then? My 20 year old enamel cast iron dutch oven from Target has been to hell and back and hasn’t lost the first bit of enamel. It cost maybe $30 at the time and is easily the best kitchen-related purchase I’ve ever made.

        1. twocents*

          Their website says you just shouldn’t start it, empty, on high heat to warm the pan up faster and then cool it down to your actual cooking temperature. Also talks about not boiling it dry (as in, until all the water evaporates plus some). So basically, monitor your cooking.

    10. Not A Manager*

      I love Le Creuset but I would never buy a *set* of it. That stuff is heavy af. Also, I find that different materials/manufacturers are good for different applications.

      My current favorites are Le Creuset heavy dutch ovens (I have three in different sizes), All Clad 4 ply sauce pans and frying pans, GreenPan non-stick frying pan, and Emile Henry bread pans.

    11. Janne*

      I love enamel pots and pans. The pans are amazing for pancakes. Here in the Netherlands we make pancakes that are the size of a pan and half as thick as American pancakes, and in an enamel pan they brown really nicely and don’t stick, as long as you use enough butter and heat the pan enough before pouring in the batter.

      One big problem with enamel pots and pans: good quality ones are heavy. My mother already isn’t able to use her largest enamel pan anymore (a 26 cm pan, I think) because her wrists can’t handle the weight when she lifts the pan. I like to flip my pancakes by throwing them in the air, and that’s a form of exercise with these pans. ;) A Dutch oven is a bit easier to carry than an enamel pan because it has handles on both sizes, so my mom still sometimes uses her big Dutch oven.

      I find good quality stainless steel pots and pans easier to use than enamel cookware in some cases. They are very idiot-proof because you cannot damage any enamel/nonstick layer. If you buy a good quality one, it has a thick enough bottom that the heat spreads evenly. Again, if you use enough butter and heat the pan well, you can make amazing pancakes. You do need more fat than in a nonstick pan, especially when you want to fry an egg. But the egg turns out awesome (probably because of the fat :D ).

      For things like cooking pasta or steaming vegetables, I don’t see the point of buying an expensive, heavy, uncomfortable enamel pot. And for an unexperienced cook I wouldn’t buy an enamel pan. My grandma gave me my stainless steel pan when I was 10 and 15 years later you cannot see its age. My grandma has been using her own set of stainless steel pots and pans for over 50 years now, she only has had to replace the handles halfway.

      So all in all I’d say, if you are prone to wrist/arm pain or weakness, maybe all enamel isn’t for you. And if you don’t want to worry about ruining an expensive enamel pan, that’s also a good reason to go for stainless steel.

    12. Rusty Shackelford*

      Don’t know if you’re still reading at this point, but you may be able to get a refund on your Calphalon. I recently got a BIG refund for a set I bought 20 years ago because the nonstick coating was peeling. Yes, 20 years is a long time, but a lifetime guarantee is a lifetime guarantee, and they came through, even without any proof of purchase.

    13. the cat's ass*

      I still have most of my Chantal cookwear, bought back in 1984. It’s enamel on steel and is barely chipped. The company went away for awhile but is not back with a number of different cookwear lines. Much lighter and less expensive than Le cruset.

  31. Charlotte Lucas*

    I love these! Top them with smoked provolone for a treat.

    I know non-vegetarians who prefer these to meat burgers.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Nesting error. This was in response to the Morningstar Farms spicy black bean burgers comment.

  32. Anonyanony*

    I don’t know that is what they mean, since they mention a big toe strap, those aren’t how thongs work. I actually have a pair of Chacos (https://www.sandalsshoecs.shop/) that have that big toe strap, which can be uncomfortable for some. My go-to as far as flip flops with good support are FitFlops, as others have mentioned here. I must have 5 pair of them, as they come in different colors and designs to fit casual and less casual attire. I also like Tevas, flip-flops for around the pool/beach, they offer some support if you don’t have to walk too far and the sandals when doing more walking around. I’m also overweight by about 80 pounds, so have to have quality footwear.

    1. Rick T*

      I used to hate sandals with the toe strap, so I wore Teva river sandals for years. I guess my feet got wider because I started getting blisters on the base of my little toe. I’ve been wearing regular ones from Rainbow for a while and haven’t had any pain from the toe strap.

  33. Teapot Translator*

    New bike question!
    First, thanks to everyone who commented on my question about bike shorts. I bought some. I think I should have bought some cream, too. :( I’m also pondering changing the saddle. But not right now.
    Right now, my question is this: I think my saddle is at the appropriate height (roughly at the hip bone, my leg is “straighter” than before-there’s still a bend). However, it’s so high, it’s kind of hard to get up on the bike? Am I just not doing it right? It, as in how I get on the bike?
    Thanks everyone!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      My husband, who was a real bike-nerd, set my seat up for me. I had to give a little push up to get on it. Not a lot though. If I stood up while straddling my bike the seat bumped the bottom of my tail bone. Double check with your bike shop. It could be that the seat can be tipped as opposed to having the whole thing adjusted up and down.

      My husband did move to a gel seat which he was very happy with.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I’m going wait a few months and then see about a new seat.
        I need to work up to it because I always feel out of place in sport stores.

    2. Random tuesday*

      I’m not sure I entirely understand, but I get on the bike by tipping the bike to one side and putting my leg over so I’m straddling the center bar between the wheels. So now I’m standing and the edge of the seat is behind me/touching my bum. The I put my foot on a pedal that is closest to the ground. Then I straighten my leg, lifting my whole body, then I move my weight back and sit down on the seat. Have fun riding!

      1. newbie*

        Yes, this! I can just touch my toe to the ground (not my whole foot) while in the saddle. If you can’t fully extend your legs while pedaling, your knees will get sore as you ride more.

        1. Girasol*

          Yes, what newbie says, except – as Teapot Translator notes – just barely short of absolutely straight. If your legs extend fully enough to lock your knee with each stroke, that will hurt your knees too. Almost but not quite perfectly straight is best for knees and least tiring too. As for the mounting, I used to tip the bike down and bend my knee to get my foot over the bar. Then I rode with panniers that made the bike too heavy to tip, and learned to do a straight legged kick to swing my leg over the seat and my foot over the back wheel. If one way doesn’t work for you, does the other?

          1. Teapot Translator*

            Yeah, completely straight is extra not good for me because I have a slight hypermobility in the knees. I can tip the bike; my error was in trying to get on the bike while it was tipped.

      2. Teapot Translator*

        Aha! That’s what I was missing. My seat was too low for me so I could just get on the seat with one foot on the ground (on my toes), now that I’ve raised the seat, it’s like I have to be a ballet dancer and be on pointe. I’ll try your method next time.

    3. Bethlam*

      I get on my bike like I’m mounting a horse. Put left foot on pedal/in stirrup, push off a bit with right foot then swing right leg over.

    4. MissGirl*

      Go get your bike professionally fitted and have them measure you for the right seat.

    5. lapgiraffe*

      I missed some of the thread before so I don’t know if you ever clarified, is this a road bike? If so, then yes, getting on it is not a very natural, easy motion. As someone else mentioned, the mounting a horse comparison is a good one. You’ll get better at it in time but it’s not like getting on a beach cruiser or a Dutch style upright.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I’m not sure I ever specified. It’s a hybrid. And the seat was too low for a long time because I was scared.

  34. Teapot Translator*

    Seeking cozy murder mystery book recommendations, but not in English (as in, the original book was written in another language).
    My definition of “cozy murder mystery” is wide and inclusive. Basically, if the main characters’ problems are manageable and no one is GOING THROUGH UNTREATED TRAUMA, I’m happy.
    Like, I put Petros Markaris in the category. Ben Aaronovitch also.
    I think in a way, cozy for me here refers to how I’m feeling when I read the book, more than the setting of the book itself.
    I tried googling, but haven’t had much luck.

    1. acmx*

      The Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino, Keigo (although no murder in this one, his other books do)
      The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafón

      I’m not really sure what you’re looking for based on your given authors.

    2. RussianInTexas*

      Ellie Alexander, The Bakeshop Mystery series. Set in Ashland, Oregon.
      Come for murders, stay for baked goods, scenery, desserts, and sweet characters.
      Martin Walker’s Bruno series, set in the Perigord region of France. Warning: will make you hungry.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        The Bruno series was the one that came to my mind as well. It’s not French originally, but I think the author has lived in that region for quite a long time which is why it feels so authentic. And yes, you’ll definitely want to eat all the food mentioned!

    3. GoryDetails*

      I recently enjoyed the English translation of AN ELDERLY LADY IS UP TO NO GOOD, by Helene Tursten, written in Swedish; it’s somewhere between a cozy and a dark comedy, as the elderly lady in question solves a lot of her domestic problems via homicide.

      I did a little searching for “cozy mystery written in (specific language)”, and came up with French author Sandrine Choisy, who has a number of novels that sound cozy – available both in French and in English. Haven’t read them myself so I can’t recommend them specifically, though a couple of the titles did tempt me!

      1. I take tea*

        This made me think of The little old lady who broke all the rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg. It’s about a bunch of pensionists, that are dissatisfied with their care home and decided to commit a crime to be put in jail instead. It’s not a mystery as such, because you follow the criminals, but it’s definitely cosy. There are at least two more books in the series, The little old lady who struck lucky again! (or strikes again, seems to have a variant title) and The little old lady behaving badly. Originals in Swedish.

    4. Nicki Name*

      Three Bags Full was originally in German and might meet your definition. IIRC no one has untreated trauma, but the detective is a very smart sheep.

    5. Double A*

      This isn’t quite a murder mystery in the traditional sense, but Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk is so excellent. Set in a tiny seasonal town on the border of Poland and the Czech republic, the narrator is on of the few year-round residents. She’s a rather eccentric recluse. People start dying and it seems like the wild animals around the town are doing it. So the book is about figuring out the mystery, but it’s not a detective story if that’s what you’re looking for. Despite the morose sounding title, I found it to be a fun read and very profound in many ways (Olga Tokarczuk is a Nobel Prize winner, which doesn’t always mean great reading, but she is an excellent and layered writer. And way more fun than a lot of Nobel winners).

      The original is written in Polish.

      1. pancakes*

        The title comes from a William Blake poem:

        “In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
        Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.”

        I only know this because I read all 15 of the Nicholas Blake Nigel Strangeways mysteries during the pandemic and they’re stuffed with literary allusions, including that one in the last in the series! I enjoyed them a lot but they’re not quite so cozy as to be trauma-free.

    6. Teapot Translator*

      Thanks everyone for the recommendations! I added what I could find on my wishlist.

    7. Holly the spa pro*

      Thanks for posting this thread, i feel like I got to reap the benefits too! I didnt realize how many mysteries have “untreated traumas” as you put it until I really started searching my brain and realized that I lean towards really dark mysteries with heavy trauma like the Millenium trilogy.

      Someone recommended Shadows of the Wind and I really enjoyed that whole series (four books total). I wouldnt say its without untreated trauma necessarily but I think there are enough whimsical and satisfying moments in it that it really offsets the darker tones. I feel that it does get darker after the first book but you can read the first as a one-and-done if you choose!

    8. Eden*

      If we’re going more by feeling than strict plot details (because I don’t remember the details tbh), and if you’re open to children’s books, maybe the Kalle Blomkvist books from Swedish author Astrid Lindgren – seems the English translation is “Bill Bergson” though maybe newer translations use the original names. Really enjoyed those when I was younger and children’s books feel cozier to me as an adult.

  35. Knitting Pandas who Dance Ballet*

    Anyone take ballet? I took dance from age 4-15 then stopped (studio closed). 30 yrs later, I picked up ballet at home about 7 months ago. All online video classes, but I’m to a point now where I need to take the next step to live online classes and/or in studio.

    1. Roja*

      Ballet teacher/dancer here. Please do find a good local studio! No video classes can come close to having a qualified teacher work with you in person. The last thing you want is to get bad habits entrenched. I’m so glad you’ve picked it up again though :) Adult classes are so much fun.

  36. violet04*

    How do you react when your husband/wife/partner does something wrong?

    I was doing the dishes and accidentally broke one of my husband’s cocktail glasses. He is really into tiki stuff and this was one of his specialty glasses. I didn’t even drop it. I was wiping along the rim with a sponge and dipped down to clean the inside of the glass and a chunk just broke off. There were two glasses and I already washed one the same way without issues. I didn’t use any extra pressure or anything unusual.

    I immediately went online and ordered a replacement set from Etsy. These are vintage glasses so they’re not something that can be ordered from Amazon.

    I’m dreading telling my husband. Based on past experience, I know he’ll tell me to be emore careful and ask me what I was doing when I broke the glass. I just don’t want to deal with his anger and irritation. I do the dishes 99% of the time and things rarely get broken, but I feel like he’ll just focus on this.

    I have the attitude that there’s no use crying over spilled milk. I’ll be more careful and conscious as I’m washing things going forward, but I’ve done everything I can now to fix the issue.

    Ideally he’d see the broken glass and say that sucks, but thanks for finding/ordering a replacement so quickly. But I feel he’s going to have a lot more to say about it and maybe I deserve it?

    1. twocents*

      I’m concerned for you that a totally normal fact of life — fragile stuff just breaks sometimes, even when you’re careful — has you this afraid.

      This really shouldn’t have been more than a “well that sucks” while you throw out the broken glass.

      1. Hornets*

        Agreed. Honestly, it sounds like the glass was already on its way to breaking and it could have happened to anyone, except your husband, since apparently he doesn’t wash dishes.

        I’m also concerned that you already went past what one would consider a reasonably appropriate response to an unintended accident (just saying you’re sorry) by finding and buying a replacement and you’re still so worried about the reaction you will get. In other words, if this happened to me, I would have apologized to my partner and offered to buy a replacement. (He probably would say not to worry about it.) You’re already proactively doing everything and you’re freaked out.

        I actually would suggest individual therapy for you. This is kind of an outsized reaction to a very minor thing and because this is the internet, we can’t tell whether this is a reaction you’ve unnecessarily imposed on yourself or if your relationship is such that you are rightly frightened of your husband’s response (it does sound like the latter, though) and you might be in danger.

      2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*


        I’m sympathetic to a one-off overreaction (we’re all guilty of that!) but a predictable pattern of anger and irritation in response to these things suggests that husband needs to do some work on his emotional regulation.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Whoa, no. Stuff like that happens. My partner broke a crystal glass recently and he was so apologetic, but he’s usually really careful and accidents happen. You’re not a child and you were just washing something. If he’s usually this critical… he needs to check himself. It’s a GLASS. I am a sentimental person and I get very attached to stuff, but if you use it for drinking, you take that risk. You are very nice to find replacements. I mean, ok, I get it if he’s irritated, but rubbing it in and getting angry at you would be taking it too far.

      1. Ali G*

        Yeah. We redid our bedroom in 2019 and it included a vintage, one of a kind, area rug. I did the one thing I promised I wouldn’t do and took red wine up to bed to read and sip. I spilled a few drops of wine on the rug. I made a deliberate mistake and I still wasn’t as worried as violeto4 was about this glass. My husband was obviously pissed, but we talked about it like adults and I cleaned it (I would have paid for professional cleaning if it needed it) and it was fine.

    3. BRR*

      I think it’s fine for someone to be a little upset (upset at that situation, not upset at you) but his reaction sounds a bit much. Sounds like a good solution would be for him to wash the dishes or at least his tiki glasses.

    4. Arka*

      If his glasses are so precious and special, he should do those dishes himself. If he leaves you to wash up his stuff, he has to accept that accidents happen and that things get broken sometimes.

      If I was you, I’d stop washing up his stuff. If it matters so much to him, he can take care of it!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yup — I have a few irreplaceable things, and they’re put away for safe keeping where they can be seen and not handled. If they have to be handled, I handle them, because that way if someone drops them or whatever, it’s on me and not anybody else. Nobody else carries my (functionally) antique computers. :P

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I have a drinking glass that is very sentimental to me (it’s a replacement for something I had as a kid). No one but me drinks from it or washes it. It’s not exactly irreplaceable, but you would have to be extraordinarily special to be allowed to use this glass.

    5. Lizy*

      There are definitely times I dread telling my husband something for the same reason – I don’t want to get into it and/or deal with his reaction. Honestly for me I made it worse because I’d wait and I’d build it up in my mind and finally when the replacement cup (or whatever) arrived in the mail THAT would be the blow-up. Once I figured out I just had to… tell him, it made it SO much easier. Yeah, he would still be upset, but I wasn’t hiding it from him.

      To be clear – if his reaction to a broken glass when it happens is throwing things and/or violence, or really anything beyond “well crap that was my favorite cup! That pisses me off!” Then you may need to reevaluate.

      For me/my husband, it’s not necessarily that I did something “wrong” – it’s that I actively hid it from him for… literally no reason. His upset/mad/whatever at the situation would be compounded by the fact that I wasn’t open with him. My anxiety and willingness to “just fix it” meant I’ve dug myself (ourselves, really) into a mu cm deeper hole than necessary. If I had been open and upfront, he could have helped find a solution or, at the very least, been able to commiserate with me.

      I know its easier said than done, but try to be more open and upfront about these things, especially when it’s an accident.

      (Again – this assumes your spouse is similar to mine in that a few cuss words might be yelled because that was his favorite cup or whatever, but that’s the extent of the anger.)

    6. Not So NewReader*

      If he reacts poorly then tell him he is now in charge of the dishes.

      Glass grows weaker over time. I have some experience with this because of all. the. antique glassware I have around here. Glass fatigues and needs to be replaced. This also happens with windows and pictures under glass.

      I have seen some weird stuff:
      I picked up a Pyrex coffee pot off of the coffee maker and the pot “exploded” in my hand. I have had this happen several times when I was waitresses decades ago and I know first hand this still happens.

      As a kid I was carrying two glass pitchers of punch out to the picnic table. One pitcher just exploded on me. My wise aunt said the glass was fatigued and the liquid in the pitcher became too heavy for the pitcher and it shattered without any help from me.

      Most recently, I had a Pyrex baking dish also blow up on me. Fortunately, I was standing next to the sink when the dish blew and most of it landed in the sink. A friend was over and saw it just go like that and he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “You didn’t do anything to it! It just shattered mid air!”

      I don’t think there is any thing wrong with asking calmly what happened to the glass. I think that he can ask you to be more careful and I think you can respond by saying, that you will leave the glasses to him to handle. My husband and I had a similar conversation about his model railroad trains. It was no hardship on my part just to avoid touching them and so I did.
      My husband did break a nice antique piece of glassware. I was upset of course. And he offered to buy a new one for me and that settled that matter in my mind. (He never found one. And I don’t care any more.)

      Probably the glasses are too old to be used any more anyway. If they are lead crystal it’s probably best to stop using them no matter what.

      1. WellRed*

        oP is a grown ass adult. Things break. Asking her what happened and telling her to be more careful? Nah. Her stated dread and whether she “deserves” the inquisition has me thinking she should consider the bigger picture. Also, if the glasses are so precious maybe don’t use them?

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        @not so new reader Of course, with all the exploding glass, you could just be a witch/wizard who hasn’t started training yet.

    7. Random tuesday*

      Piling on that something is wrong when you’re that afraid. He shouldn’t make you feel bad. You didn’t do it on purpose, after hearing about how it broke he should genuinely enquire whether or not you got hurt. If he is desperate for a replacement after he hears you’re fine, you can surf together and it would be a kindness if you offered to pay. And then he washes the tiki glasses going forward. In the future, you’ll have fond reminisces like: do you remember when we looked online for the tiki glasses and we watched the video of the cute bunnies?

      Honestly stuff breaks. Sometimes it breaks because we’re careless, but that’s part of being human. Sometimes stuff breaks because it’s stuff. Unless you purposely broke it, he ought to be kind. If he’s not kind about it, that is a much different problem.

    8. Virginia Plain*

      My other half once melted a hole in the front of the skirt of my (me-made) evening gown, with the iron, when we were away in a hotel and I had nothing else to wear to a black tie event. (It was polyester and he didn’t wait for the answer to his question about how hot the iron should be). There was nothing to be gained by yelling or making him feel worse, it was an accident. I sent him to reception for safety pins and thanks to the big fifties style skirt hid the hole in the folds of fabric. S*** happens; it’s only stuff, not a person.

    9. Dr. Doll*

      Aw, I get it. It doesn’t sound like your husband is going to react in a *scary* way like other commenters are saying, just that he’s going to give you the damn third degree and it’s going to be a Big Thing instead of “oops, that’s too bad but things break.” Exhausting, you just don’t want to f’n hear it, but it’s not threatening.

      My husband is a leeeetle like that too because he learned it from his perfectionist parents, any small mishap was because someone had been careless, heedless, reckless, messy, foolish, etc. He also cannot rest until he understands any phenomenon absolutely thoroughly. So I confess that sometimes I hide small things because dammit, I don’t want to have to explain my entire thought and action process from T minus 1 to the very end.

        1. Generic Name*

          Agreed. My ex never yelled or swore at me. Ever. But what he did do was withhold affection or ignore me or give me the silent treatment when I did something “wrong”. Was it overtly scary? Not really, but it was still abuse.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That’s not good. That’s not being treated as an equal adult. I still remember getting called careless and stupid as a child for spilling something, even if I immediately cleaned it up. I’d get a heated lecture all about my faults. I didn’t deserve it then and I don’t now.

        “I wish you would be more careful” is ok. “How could you be so careless and let this [ultimately minor, normal thing] happen?!?!” is not.

        1. HannahS*

          Yeah, this is it, I think. It’s ok to be disappointed when things break and calmly ask, “What happened?” But there’s no reason for interrogation and guilt trips.

      2. Clisby*

        JUST “give you the damn third degree”? What normal person does that? And what normal person puts up with it?

        1. Dr. Doll*

          Ah… me. I am about as boringly normal as possible. My husband is a perfectly healthy, well adjusted, kind, loving man, AAM friends. He has some minor bad relationship habits. I have some too – one of which is probably exaggerating.

          Having minor bad relationship habits does not mean that our relationship is toxic, worrisome, unhealthy, or that we treat each other as children. It means we are normal and sometimes we don’t respond as well as we should to each other.

          1. RagingADHD*

            I know what you’re talking about. Occasionally all of us, as humans, are just a lot of work. And over a long relationship, you see even rare patterns repeat enough times that you can be like, “I don’t want to deal with this today.”

      3. Observer*

        So I confess that sometimes I hide small things because dammit, I don’t want to have to explain my entire thought and action process from T minus 1 to the very end.

        That’s not great, but as you say, none of us are perfect. But what the OP is describing goes much further than this. It’s hard to tell if they are over-reacting or their description of their husband is accurate. But the OP should not have to legitimately feel this worried about their husband’s reaction nor feel like they “deserve” their husband’s anger.

      4. Workerbee*

        Eesh. Only from my personal viewpoint over here, I’d say that if someone felt entitled to keep on with unfortunate habits like the exhausting third degree and unresting processing, I’d feel entitled to not being in the presence of that person while it was going on.

    10. ThatGirl*

      A few years back a custom engraved glass with my husbands name on it slipped out of my hands while I was drying it and broke. I felt really bad and when he got home I started with, I have bad news, I’m so sorry… and he kinda laughed and said I thought something really bad happened! It was not a huge deal, and I did buy him a replacement.

      Things break. Glass breaks. If he is constantly making you feel terrible about small mistakes, that’s a big red flag.

    11. Generic Name*

      Oh yes. I’m very familiar with this feeling. Another term for always worrying about how someone will react for even minor things is “walking on eggshells”. I found the book “why does he do that?” By Lundy Bancroft to be super helpful. I suggest reading it electronically on a device only you have access to. Or you can go sit in a library and read it.

      1. PollyQ*

        2nd for Bancroft’s book, whose full title is Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, which sounds like it describes your husband. No one should have to live in fear, even if it’s “just” of a tongue-lashing. And I also want to emphasize that you didn’t do a single thing wrong. The glass broke while you were handling it, and that’s just plain bad luck, not any kind of poor behavior on your part.

    12. HannahS*

      Stuff breaks. It’s more likely to break in the hands of whoever is handling it more. If one party is very very particular about an item, then they need to take care of it.

      I scratched up our car (twice in six months) and both times dreaded telling my husband because I felt bad about breaking a thing that he cares about that I don’t. But…I wasn’t worried that he’d scold me or interrogate me. The first time, he was stressed out (but didn’t direct it at me), and then second time he laughed and hugged me. The most he asked me was, “What exactly did you hit?” (The pillar in the parking garage). We talked about how to repair it, the end.

    13. velvet*

      I feel this so hard; in fact, it almost ended our relationship. We were stuck in a cycle of criticism-defensiveness that was destructive. I recommend John Gottman’s work. He and his wife did a great interview on Brene Brown’s podcast that summarizes their research. Virtual hugs.

    14. RagingADHD*

      We try to give each other space to have feelings about things that go wrong, without placing the brunt of those feelings on each other.

      Like, “Oh no!, What happened? Oh, man, that sucks. I loved those glasses!”


      “What did you do? Why can’t you be more careful,” etc.

    15. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Im sorry, but if you’re afraid to tell your partner something came apart and can’t be fixed but you’re replacing it, and you still think he’ll be angry, it sounds like it’s the relationship that’s broken.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. This is…a lot…for a drinking glass. And it doesn’t even sound like it’s irreplaceable, just vintage, if a replacement were found on Etsy. It’s not as if OP purposely threw the glass against the wall and broke it. It broke during a routine washing. Glass weakens over time. And yeah, this is just a glass.

    16. allathian*

      You don’t deserve it. Tell him what happened, tell him you’ve ordered a replacement, and if he gives you any grief over it, tell him he’s in charge of washing his precious tiki glasses from now on.

      The fact that you’re dreading his reaction is very telling.

      My husband occasionally gets angry when stupid things happen, and I once broke a personalized shot glass he had when I emptied the dishwasher and dropped it on our tile kitchen floor. He got mad and some of his anger was directed at my clumsiness, but when he got some of that out of his system he apologized for overreacting.

    17. Marion Ravenwood*

      Echoing everyone else that this doesn’t sound very healthy. It actually reminds me a lot of my ex-husband; he would have given me a telling off and then the silent treatment. It sucked and made me become really helpless (which I hated) because letting him do stuff himself was easier than trying to do stuff and getting that response when I ‘did it wrong’.

      You’ve already gone above and beyond by ordering a replacement. I would tell him sooner rather than later – not easy I know but better than having it hanging over your head – but I also think that this is something he seriously needs to work on. I think a more measured response would be “yeah I’m upset (especially as this is a special item to me) but at the end of the day it’s just a glass, as long as you’re not hurt then it’s fine”. (And for what it’s worth, even if you were it’s still not your fault!)

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      As you think about your reaction & your husband’s, think about how your parents reacted–and how you will react in front of small people in the future. (Whether it be yours or neighbors or nieblings.)
      I’ve made a point out of teaching my kid that things break and accidents happen–the first question is always ‘did you get cut?” Same thing mom said to me when I broke a wine glass when helping at a holiday: “it’s OK to be sad it broke but it’s just a thing, so let’s clean it up before anyone gets cut.”

    19. Incessant Owlbears*

      In this situation, I would let my husband know because it was his thing that broke, and he would look mildly concerned and say something like “Oh, too bad.” That would be the end of it, and we’d talk about something more interesting. It’s worrisome to me that you are anticipating a much bigger angry reaction.

    20. Rebecca Stewart*

      Neither of my partners take any expression of irritation or anger from me well. (This is due to their mental health issues.) So I keep it cranked well down until I can let it pass and identify my feelings (I’m autistic), have the feelings, and figure out a way to not have this happen again.

      My ex did what you describe. That’s partly why he’s an ex. He would bash me verbally for an entire week because I said we didn’t have the money for the cookies he saw at the grocery store if we were going to buy enough food for the month.

      No one deserves to be yelled at. Sometimes people yell. It’s absolutely okay to say, “I know you are upset, but if you need to yell, go somewhere else/I’ll go somewhere else, and when you can talk calmly, we can talk about it again.”

    21. *daha**

      1. Based on your telling, you didn’t do something wrong. Something unfortunate happened, but it wasn’t from some sort of error on your part.
      2. How do I handle it when my SO messes up? Better than your husband does, I hope.
      3. I’m with the other commenters who wonder if his treatment of you falls into a pattern of abuse. Do a search for Emotional Abuse Checklist you’ll get some examples of behaviors that qualify, and leads on finding help. Good luck!

  37. Valancy Snaith*

    Cat-knowing friends, some help?

    We have an eight-year-old female cat and seven weeks ago acquired a one-year-old female in the way that cats just seem to fall into your life. Older Cat has been around cats before plenty–she had a sister who we had to put down when the cats were about three–and she’s been kenneled before and always loved other cats. She does NOT love her new sister. We introduced them very slowly–New Girl had about a week in her own room settling in before we allowed them to sniff each other through the door, fed Older Cat by the door and gave her plenty of treats, allowed New Girl to explore the house while Older Cat was sequestered in another room, swapped their beds so they’d get used to each others’ scents, and…meh.

    So now, New Girl is in love with Older Cat. She is very friendly and playful and loving, but Older Cat is very hit-or-miss. Sometimes she’ll share the window nicely, and share the cat tree nicely, but more often than not she’ll hiss at the new girl, or swat her gently (no claws), and they’ll chase each other around. New Girl is unaffected by all this and still loves her new sister. We have Feliway diffusers, multiple boxes they share without incident, and plenty of toys and playtime and individual cuddles going on. Is there anything else we can be doing? Or should we just continue to ride it out?

    1. Ali G*

      I actually think this is OK! New Girl has to learn Older Cats boundaries and it sounds like she is doing that. New Girls should learn, it will just take some time. Sometimes the win with cats is that they tolerate each other, which it sounds like this relationship will be, with some occasional light hearted sparring.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Seconded, you’re good! If Older Cat was having issues, she’d be letting New Girl know much more emphatically.

      2. tangerineRose*

        Yeah. Older Cat is teaching boundaries. Also, they might enjoy chasing each other around.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      Sounds like everything’s fine to me! If there’s no screaming or blood, they’re not fighting. Your older cat sounds like she likes the younger cat just fine, since they share everything. Your older cat is teaching the youngster the house rules right now, that’s all. Swatting without claws or hissing just means “keep your distance” or “don’t do that.” There may be a readjustment when your younger cat turns 2, which is when cats reach adulthood, but it sounds like it will be fine. As long as there’s no screaming or blood, they’re not fighting.

      My older cat, who is 5, wants to cuddle and snuggle with my 3 year old cat all the time, and the younger cat has a very limited tolerance for it, like 2 minutes if he’s feeling especially tolerant. Otherwise, they share treats and toys and litterboxes with no problems and regularly chase each other around the apartment. Chase is a super-fun game for indoor cats and means they feel good and are happy, as long as there’s no screaming or blood. Huffing and swatting are normal during a game of chase, as is hissing if someone accidentally gets too rough.

    3. TPS reporter*

      Seven weeks is nothing in cat time! Also it sounds like they’re getting along pretty well. As long as no one is getting injured, hiding from the other or showing stress behaviors like inappropriately urinating it’s all good. Cats are super stubborn and may take years to warm up if ever.

    4. I take tea*

      It will take a while yet, but they will probably come to an agreement. As long as they don’t fight properly, the hissing and swatting is just rule setting.

      We have the same setup, our younger cat absolutely adores the older and wants to cuddle all the time. Sometimes they will lie together and wash each other, other times the older hisses and swats. But over all it feels like they have a good balance now, the younger has learnt to back off a bit more and the older also has one spot that’s only hers. But it took months before it happened. I was really worried for a while. The younger was about five months old, so a bit of a teenager and just as annoying :-)

      And even if the older cat doesn’t really love it all the time, I can see that she’s much better with a companion, more active and alert.

      We added more space on top of our bookshelves (a whole wall of them), with the possibility to come up and down in both ends, so nobody felt trapped, that helped a lot too. They chase each other on them, or just lie there and watch.

    5. Asenath*

      Ride it out. I’ve introduced new cats several times, and only once did I run into a pair of cats that took an extremely long time to adjust to each other – that’s not what you’re describing, and even those settled down. Eventually. What you’re describing is more like the first time I brought a new cat home to a resident cat. As a pretty novice cat-owner, I was so alarmed by their interactions – which were a bit more aggressive than what you describe – that when I took the second cat in for a shot, I asked the vet what I should be doing to help them get on. After I described the situation, she said that I should stop trying to act like a referee and let them settle their dominance issues between themselves. And that worked. Really, for many pairs of cats, the occasional swat and chase around the room is just a normal part of getting on together. A genuine cat fight is much more violent.

    6. Amtelope*

      They’re fine. Two female cats in particular can take a long time to warm up to each other. Older Cat is establishing boundaries and dominance. Don’t push her to “share” things she thinks belong to her, as long as they’re both using the litter boxes and both are getting enough to eat. Our older cat has established with much hissing and swatting that the younger cat can sit UNDER her favorite chair, but not ON it. They will now share the windowsill, as long as they’re not actually touching, but that took, like, a year. Just let them figure this out.

  38. Ali G*

    I haven’t seen a cooking thread yet so I’ll start one. What’s cooking this long (in the US) weekend?
    Tonight is sous vide steak (filet) with potatoes and some veg.
    Tomorrow is pork loin with roasted veg and Monday we are grilling (Monday is the only day it’s not raining) sausages. I think I’ll just air fry some frozen fries to go along.
    We also got fresh bagels and did lox and bagels this morning. My favorite!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My experiment this weekend is actually dog cookies, and they turned out great and both dogs scarfed ‘em down! 0.5 c peanut butter, 1.75c oats and 1 c tinned pumpkin purée – dirt easy. Food processor (start with the oats to “flour” them, then add the other tw0), ball ‘em up, 20 minutes at 350. Recipe is Rover dot com’s “Peanut Butter Pumpkin Softies.”

    2. CheeseWhizzard*

      I’m making spicy noodles with tofu and a bunch of vegetables left over in my fridge (sweet peppers, mushrooms, snap peas, onions, carrots, broccoli, whatever else I can find). I might make a cinnamon coffee cake today as well.

    3. Simple_Rhyme*

      I am making homemade sauce, meatballs, sausage, and chicken cutlets over pene. It’s the meal that made my childhood and I love passing it down to my daughter (it tends to be her favorite, too)

    4. Decidedly Me*

      Tonight is paella. This week is fish taco bowls, tequila lime chicken, and probably burgers. It’s going yo be hot here this week, so aiming for things that go well on the grill.

    5. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      For Sunday and Monday, smoked sausage chunks in a sweet mustard glaze, corn on the cob, BBQ baked beans, deviled eggs, a Hungarian marinated salad, cornbread with pepper jelly, and for a later dessert, strawberries, pound cake, and ice cream. On Monday morning, I’m making oat pancakes to have with maple bacon jam or sorghum. I’m stuffed just thinking about it all!

    6. DistantAudacity*

      I made scotch eggs in my airfryer!

      They came out well! At least on my second attempt; I tried it last week and they ended up being somewhat deconstructed. My mistake was that I didn’t really add liquids (I used beaten egg this time) to my Salsiccia sausage meat, so it wasn’t sticky enough to hold on to and cover the egg properly. Lesson: make sure it’s meatballs texture!

    7. Overeducated*

      Mmm, lox and bagels is the best!

      I’m still deciding since it’s cooler than I anticipated. I bought a couple of sausages from the farmer’s market for grilling but given the weather we’ll probably eat them tomorrow, this feels more like a baking or stew day. It’s already noon, and all we really have to use up for a stew are sweet peppers, carrots, onions, canned tomatoes, and frozen “meatball mix” (beef/pork/veal mix), and pepperoni, so not sure what to do with that. A meat sauce for spaghetti? A vegetable soup and homemade pretzels?

    8. Anona*

      I’m planning to make Julia Turshen’s ricotta and potato chip fish cakes and one of her salads (Gus’ house salad) with red onion and blue cheese!

      1. Anona*

        I also made Budget Bytes’ spinach pesto Mac and cheese, with wheat penne and it is divine! The kid is a fan.
        Planning to eat some sour cream and onion chips, leftover from the fish cakes, and some popcorn with tajin seasoning, which is so yummy.

    9. twocents*

      After a couple of cooking intensive weeks, I prioritized simplicity this week. So got a crock pot corn and potato soup for dinner and a simple beef and onion stir fry for lunch.

  39. OyHiOh*

    Calling all birds! What have you seen this week?

    There is the most enormous pigeon like thing in the tree across from me. It is the grey-ish dusky color of a pigeon, approximately the same shape, but y’all, this thing is easily double the size of a pigeon and probably more than double. it has “racoon eyes” according to my partner, who managed to snap a photo of it today. When he prints the photos, it may be easier to figure out what it is.

    Orioles and western tannigers abound this week at the state park. You get out of the car and it’s a slight variation on “the hills are alive with the sound of music.” Haven’t been down to the wildlife area this week yet but I imagine the reeds are teeming with wadding birds. Hopefully will see them later this weekend

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I didn’t see any of them, but I heard about a gazillion whippoorwills camping in the woods last week. They are a lovely addition to the evening chorus, but sometime I wished they would call just a bit further away, at least when I was trying to sleep.

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

      Watched of group of around 5 crows harass a red-tailed hawk in flight this afternoon. I don’t know what set them off. Crows are relentless, but this was a pretty big hawk and I’ve noticed lots of feathers in the yard lately.

    3. I take tea*

      Heard a corn crake (we think) on a walk. It sounded exactly like the winding of an old grandfather clock :-)

    4. allathian*

      My son built a bird house at school, and it now has a pair of European pied flycatchers. I’ve only seen the male, the female’s inside the house sitting on her eggs. They should hatch in a few weeks and then we’ll probably see both parents carrying insects to the chicks. Exciting!

    5. Lizabeth*

      The purple finch babies are getting big and their feathers are coming in – I can peek at them since the nest is in the middle of a hanging fern. The wren babies are making a ton of noise every time mom or dad are at the entrance to their bird house. The tree shallow pair are still feeding their babies in the bluebird box. A lone hummingbird so far feeding at the feeders and firecracker flowers. Neighbor saw a hawk try to get a rabbit on the lot across the street – it missed but sat for awhile on the ground. And a black snake visited the front porch stonework for warmth, I hope, since there’s no easy way for it to get to the baby birds. It’s only the length of my arm, not the monsters I generally see in barns.

    6. Pamela Adams*

      The giant sparrow colony is increasing. Lots of young birds trying their wings, and sadly , some tiny babies who don’t make it. (Gotta watch when we take the dogs out, so they don’t snack)

    7. Rebecca Stewart*

      I watched a flock of starlings bring their entitled teenage young ones to the feeder and teach them how to do it. That was funny. Also highly raucous and entertaining to the cats.

  40. Jackalope*

    I didn’t see another question like this, but kind of wanted to get the input of others on the blog. Most of us have had a year that involved a certain amount of isolation, whether that meant no leaving the house or not being able to have large gatherings or no movies in the movie theater or seeing no one but co-workers or what have you. And we’ve had a lot of input the last year that being around people = danger. For those of you who are vaccinated and/or thinking about moving to a less isolated life, what are your thoughts on how to do that? In particular, if you are feeling anxiety around this and trying to figure out how to move beyond that, what are your thoughts? (Beyond therapy; I’m thinking more DIY type ideas here.) For those of you who aren’t at that point yet, what do you think you’ll try down the road?

    1. Aphrodite*

      I’m about two months past my second shot so completely vaccinated. We will be returning to the office on June 15 but only for two days a week. It will slowly increase until August 15 because the fall term begins a week later. (I work in the adult ed division of a community college who closed all the campuses down mid-March of 2020.) I hope to work from home one day a week for a treat but it may not happen.

      At any rate, I am SO happy that things are slowly opening up. It feels very freeing But . . . I am not moving fast. I still mask when I go out and will probably do so through the end of this year if there are no setbacks. But I will also hold off on any restaurants, even outdoor ones, until 2022. I’ve haven’t been a shop-for-entertainment kind of girl for a couple of decades so stores won’t live or die on me. However, I really liked saving much more money for the last year and will probably adhere pretty closely to my newly formed financial habits. That said, I read this article (https://www.vox.com/the-goods/22445613/behavioral-economics-budget-post-pandemic ) this morning and will also stay very alert for signs I might be heading toward this trap.

      I cannot say I am feeling anxiety but I do plan to adhere to safety precautions for myself. Thankfully, I rarely if ever go to places where non-vaccinated crowds might be overly represented: music concerts, bars. But I do plan–fingers crossed!–to participate fully in my town’s Christmas events because I love them so much. Probably masked though.

    2. llamaswithouthats*

      I just recently got fully vaxxed so I’m still at the starting line here. My plan for the time being is to just do it gradually at my own comfort level. For some reason, I have social anxiety on top of this, and the only way to deal with social anxiety is exposure. Obviously this has been lacking in the past year, so I just have to slowly re-expose myself to different situations.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Same here. My issue with reintegrating with the world is less about covid and more about my introvert’s nervous system becoming re-sensitized to the outside world. I have done some socializing outdoors because the weather has been so nice. I did meet up with someone for an indoor lunch and that was just fine. I tend to dislike crowded places so I usually go places when they’ll be less populated. I am planning a short road trip (250 miles) to visit with a fully vaccinated friend for a few days. Our plans are an outdoor concert and the beach. I figure I will take public transit at off hours to get myself used to the noise and crowds again.

    3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Spouse and I were talking about that today, like what restaurant have we missed the most that we’ll go back to when we feel ready. And both of us answered… “Meh.” A year ago, we really missed going out occasionally. Now, it’s been so long, we’ve gotten used to not dining out. But we’ve enjoyed some good carry-out food during this time. It reminds me of a show review I read years ago: “Worth seeing, but not worth going to see.”

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I’m fully vaccinated and our state lifted the mask mandate for vaccinated people on May 19, though healthcare offices and certain other sectors require masks. Other businesses have a choice to require them; however, I haven’t yet noticed any that have gone that route. It’s on the honor system. They won’t ask for proof of vaccination or even question the fact you’re not wearing a mask. It is assumed if you’re not wearing a mask, you are either vaccinated or you’re among those who can’t wear a mask for a medical reason.

      The first week I was hesitant to go without a mask; however, it wasn’t because I felt like I was at risk. To be perfectly honest, it was feeling like people would be looking at me and wondering if I’m trying to game the system by pretending I’m vaccinated. Mainly because I know a few people in my life who would do that. It seemed like a lot of other people were hesitant, too, because I saw very few people without masks. In the past week, though, the number of people without them has grown and I’m feeling more confident in going into a store without it. Also, I had to make an emergency trip out of state the other day and that state had many more people without masks (restrictions are the same as my state). That also helped me to feel more comfortable.

      I wouldn’t say I’m leading a much less isolated life necessarily, since I’ve been doing indoor dining maybe once a week since our state started allowing it again last June. I’ve also continued to go to the grocery store, physical therapy after back surgery last year, certain doctor’s appointments, and my trainer. I’d say the only thing I did differently is to eliminate or minimize leisure shopping, like browsing around Walmart or clothing stores, and getting together with friends and seeing family.

    5. allathian*

      I’m still avoiding going to indoor public places, because that would still require a mask. This weekend is my son’s birthday, and we hosted my MIL and her husband and my SIL yesterday out in the yard. My dad has a summer flu (negative Covid test) so my parents sent their regrets. This evening we’re hosting my son’s godmother and her family, also outdoors.

      I’m hoping to see a group of friends in an outdoor restaurant in the summer. I haven’t seen most of them since early March 2020 and I miss them.

      I’ve had my first shot as have all of my friends who are mostly about the same age as I am. By early August, I’ll be fully immunized and maybe by then I’ll feel more comfortable doing things like shopping and going to a restaurant.

    6. Marion Ravenwood*

      I think for me (I had my first vaccine on Thursday) it’s about gradually easing back in. I still don’t go out as often as I used to, but the past week I went for coffee locally with one friend and to the theatre with another, which is about the most active I’ve been since things started opening up again here in the UK. Honestly the only thing I found too intense was the Tube to the theatre, but I only had to go two stops and I won’t have to use it all that often anyway (I can get to work via train and they’re still pretty quiet and most people are masking up, and most of the shops I’d want to go to are in my town, so I’d only need the Tube to meet friends or go to concerts). So I think it’s just going to be about gradual exposure to things in my case. I’ll still be wearing my mask on public transport and in enclosed public places for a while – mainly because I haven’t had a cold all year and would quite like to continue that – but otherwise I think it’ll just be what I’m comfortable with and see how things go.

    7. Jackalope*

      I’ve been reading the book Detox Your Thoughts by Andrea Bonior who was a guest writer here a few weeks ago, and I had one idea that seemed to be particularly helpful. The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker talks about how fear is a thing that can protect us, and I’ve heard elsewhere that fear is a preventative emotion because it causes us to take action to stop something that hasn’t happened yet so we can stay safe and not experience the bad thing. I used some of the ideas (vaguely) that I got from Detox Your Thoughts, and spent a morning on a walk last week thinking about this, and talking to my fear. (I feel a bit silly sharing this, but it really helped so I will anyway!) I thanked it for doing such a good job keeping me and my loved ones safe and alive and COVID-free this last year, and then told it that it was released from worrying about COVID (at least right now, since I’m fully vaccinated), and could go back to protecting me from car accidents and falling off cliffs and things. I had my first in-person church service about an hour after that walk, and it did seem to help make me feel calmer and more peaceful.

      That being said, it’s still hard easing back into things. I haven’t decided yet how much and when, but I figured that it doesn’t have to be all at once. I’m trying to push myself a little bit each weekend to do something I haven’t done in the last year; go a place we haven’t gone in the last year, see someone in-person I haven’t seen, in-person church like last week, etc. We had to shut all contact off quickly and dramatically like slamming shut a door, but I keep reminding myself that the door doesn’t have to be thrown widely open; it can be slow. It’s still frustrating, but that seems to be helping.

    8. lapgiraffe*

      I can’t say that I’ll be going to a concert soon, but I’ve almost resumed a “normal” life at this point and it is nice and strange. I am lucky that my friends and close family are all vaxxed, literally all of them, so that helps a lot! But my work has always been outside the office so it has been wonderful to do coffees and drinks and dinners again. Weird at first, but I’m shocked how quickly the weirdness went away.

      Honestly the thing that has been harder for me is not worrying about the virus, it’s that my social battery is not nearly as strong and long lasting as it used to be. In smaller groups it’s not so bad, but I went to a campfire last night with probably 20-25 people in attendance and was so overwhelmed until at least half left. Apparently it was noticeable because the old man in charge of this bonfire (a beauty, I must say, one for the books!) called me out for being quiet. It wasn’t mean, I’m usually chatty, but I think groups are just overwhelming after a year of no groups.

    9. Chaordic One*

      I’m a fairly introverted person so I don’t think that being socially isolated and working from home bothered me as much as it did other people. That said, I found myself feeling a sort of culture shock at being out and around people again in stores and around people again. I’m fully vaccinated and everyone in my immediate family is, with the exception of the children.

      While I don’t worry so much about the virus now, I find I feel a bit paranoid and that there is too much traffic and the stores are too crowded. As a way of coping, when possible, I try to schedule things like shopping at times of the day when things will be less busy and there will be less traffic and the stores will be less crowded. (Early in the morning and during the middle of the week, as opposed to late afternoon and on weekends.) It’s something that I started doing during the depths of the pandemic and now I’m continuing the behavior, but for different reasons.

      I can’t imagine going to a concert for at least a few more months, but my elderly parents are dying to go to restaurants again, so I can see myself doing that fairly soon. (We’ve all been vaccinated.) I sort of feel bad about going to restaurants again because they seem to be so crowded and understaffed. Rest assured that I will be tipping generously. I’ll also be going to some small family events. There’s a wedding in a week.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I kind of jumped in. I have been fully vaccinated for over a month now, and I “celebrated” by getting my nails done and having friends visit. Their visit, two weeks ago, was when I went to restaurants and took a short road trip and it felt amazing. I still wear my mask indoors and when I approach waitstaff, but I feel ok eating inside and I’m so ready to sit at a bar. I will avoid crowds (which I hate anyway) but I am back on public transportation and happily “out there.” Sadly, I don’t have a social group here beyond family, but I’m working on it and so glad to start meeting people again.

      My partner, however… he’s not feeling it. He spent some time with my girlfriends and he has a workout partner, but he’s not interested in going out. He even declined to go out on his birthday. He just prefers to stay home. We’ve decided that I will go out without him and he’ll join when he wants, and that’s fine with both of us.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Fully vaxxed and still wearing a mask inside stores or anywhere else. I don’t feel comfortable taking it off until more people are vaccinated due to the proliferation of variants, and there’s still uncertainty as to whether inoculated people could spread them. Plus, I kinda like that no one can see me.

      I am very much looking forward to seeing Black Widow at the theater in July. I’ll probably wear a mask, and I usually don’t eat any overpriced movie snacks anyway.

    12. Disco Janet*

      Baby steps, basically. Visiting with friends and family who we haven’t seen since the start of this (and keeping our mask on if they haven’t been vaccinated.) Occasionally going to restaurants that are truly socially distancing tables. Had a massage done last week, which I hadn’t had in 8 years and was very nice (masks for myself and the massage therapist.) Bigger step was a wedding shower I went to last weekend. It was for my favorite coworker who I also consider a friend, and was outdoors. She gave me a heads up about which people invited are the anti-vaccine type and while I had my mask on when I arrived at the shower, I then chose a spot very far away from the above mentioned people with a few other coworkers who have had their shot, at which point we did remove our masks (we are essential workers and have been in person throughout the pandemic.) However, I declined an invite to another bridal shower because it’s indoors and I knew a large chunk of people wouldn’t be vaccinated.

      Small steps as my comfort level adapts. No drastic changes (well, drastic by my standards) until my kids are eligible for the vaccine, since they’re in the under 12 crowd and both have a health complication. (They haven’t been with me for any of the above mentioned outings other than seeing family members who are vaccinated.)

  41. Shoe Dilemma*

    Do shoes really have to be perfectly comfortable the first time you try them on?

    About a year ago, I started trying to buy new dress shoes and sneakers because my old ones were getting worn. I ordered my usual size/brand, and the small toes on my right foot felt squished when I tried them on. After some research online, I realized that my feet had probably gotten wider with age, and I needed to start buying wide width shoes. So I’ve ordered at least a dozen pairs of shoes (in my usual brands and different brands), and gone to stores to try on shoes. The wide shoes always fit my right foot fine, but then feel weird/uncomfortable around the middle of my left foot.

    My feet are starting to hurt in my old shoes because they’re so worn. I really need new ones, but am not sure what I keep reading that shoes should fit perfectly when you try them on. Do you guys think the left shoe just feels weird because I’m used to medium width shoes and that foot doesn’t need the wide shoe? Would I get used to it after wearing them for a while?

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I think it depends a bit on what material you are buying. Leather does stretch with use and needs to be broken in, in my experience–so they always feel a bit stiff and narrow here or there to begin with. But with time they take on my foot shape and stretch where there’s pressure (usually) and then they feel comfy. The problem is, of course, that by that time it is far far far too late to return them, so if for whatever reason it DOESN’T feel comfy at that point, it’s money lost.

      The way I get around this isn’t really a good method: I find a shoe I like, I take a risk and if I like it after the break-in process, I just keep buying the same model as each pair wears out until they don’t make them anymore. Usually even after that I can find resellers that will sell new old stock, sometimes for a bit more money, and usually that remains worth it to me. I’m coming to the end of line with my latest style, unfortunately. They’re getting harder to find or are too expensive. I’ve had four, maybe even five rounds now, usually in two different colors at the same time, so I’m going to have to figure out what to do next and soon. I have a few brands that have worked well in the past, so I’ll probably just take a look at what they’re doing at the moment.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Hence my used, under $45, size 9 Ferragamos from eBay. Lots of little old ladies who die after having worn them only once a week to church, apparently.

    2. fposte*

      Do you know which foot is larger? For most right-handed people it’s the left foot but I’m wondering if for you it’s the right. It’s certainly common for fit to vary from left shoe to right shoe because your feet do; the trick is finding shoes (or shoes and socks) that will accommodate both. I think your challenge now is to figure out what “weird” means. Is there too much movement in the shoe when you walk, for instance? What happens when you try thicker socks or a double pair?

      As a wide-footed person, I don’t buy shoes to stretch; I spent too many years getting sold too-narrow shoes on the promise that stretching would solve things. But the sole of the shoe isn’t going to stretch, and I want my toes to fit onto the sole rather than being wrapped onto it like it’s a pallet. But I also just have super-fussy feet, so I do a lot of accommodating with pads and sock configurations, otherwise I’d go barefoot. Which my repeated metatarsal fracture would *not* like.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I buy inexpensive shoes a little too large, rip out the insoles, and replace them with good, thick insoles with arches and cushioning. It’s much easier than finding the perfect shoe – I turn them into the almost-perfect shoe.

        1. fposte*

          Exactly–I just buy a reasonable exoskeleton that can accommodate my after-market stuff.

    3. RagingADHD*

      IME a leather shoe that feels evenly snug will break in and wind up comfortable.

      Pinching, crowding, cutting into the heel or top of the foot, or rubbing is never going to result in a good fit.

    4. Chaordic One*

      You know, I’ve kind of given up trying to find perfectly comfortable shoes. I agree that, generally, leather shoes will stretch a bit, but I’ve found out that, IME, leather sneakers do not. My left foot is a whole size larger than my right and so I usually buy for fit for the right foot and end up putting an insole in the left shoe.

      I have very narrow feet and I’ve never found any kind of strappy sandal or even a flip flop that was not too wide to stay on my feet.

    5. The teapots are on fire*

      I think you have to try shoes on in the store and walk around in them for a while until you get used to what you need to fit your new foot size. I did buy an iron gizmo called a “ring puller” to make space for a little bump where my little toe is on both feet and this has allowed me to wear shoes that otherwise were never going to be quite wide enough. I just have this little quirk and the ring puller allows a regular wide shoe to fit me. Don’t go nuts with the thing– a gentle stretch is all you really need, but it makes a nice little dent in the shoe right where I need it.

  42. Sarah*

    I am really struggling with my two cats. We adopted them in March; they’re about seven and supposedly a bonded pair, but the small one keeps chasing and attacking the big one. We watch Jackson Galaxy religiously, play with them a ton, got new cat furniture and toys, and sometimes they tolerate each other, but that’s literally the most I can expect from them. Any tips?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Are you sure it’s not play? I’d worry if the big one is actively avoiding the little one or seems upset, but otherwise that could easily be play behavior.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      Chasing and attacking how? Screaming with fur and blood flying? Then you need to separate them and slowly reintroduce them, as in take months to do a full introduction. You need take them both to the vet to make sure there aren’t any abscesses or hidden injuries. Your vet might recommend calming medication for one or both cats. If that’s the case, ignore everything I’ve written below. Shelters and rescues have been known to lie about bonded pairs if they are particularly desperate for space.

      But if it’s silent or near-silent chasing and jumping, then they’re just playing. In that case, don’t separate them, they’re bonded and they’ll be miserable. Look for videos of “normal feline play behavior,” there are some excellent examples on YouTube. However, March wasn’t that long ago for cats and they may need more adjustment time before they settle down. It can take six months or more for a cat to truly settle in to a new location.

      Seven is prime time for obnoxious behavior – they are adult cats in the prime of life and they know exactly how they like to play with one another.

      Living with a pair (or more) of cats means: lots of wrestling, chasing, and noise when you’re trying to sleep, food and water spilled and thrown everywhere, litterbox accidents, finding cold vomit in unexpected places, usually in the middle of night when you’re barefoot, hiding in and jumping out of bags and boxes, leaping from behind corners and doorways, attacking anything that moves or moved once in 2018, and generally wreaking havoc and causing mayhem at all hours, but especially when you’re sleeping or are making a Zoom presentation.

    3. Abby cats*

      Do they have enough vertical space? Things to climb? You can live in a mansion, but if there aren’t enough perches, it’s too small for multiple cats.

  43. InNeedOfAName*

    As my name says, I’m in need of a fun AMA name! I was Jimming, then Elementary Fan, and a few anons… but I haven’t landed on anything I like yet. Suggestions? I like the Office and Elementary (natch) along with many other sitcoms, and also the MCU.

      1. InNeedOfAName*

        Ha! That makes me feel better.

        (And I realized I wrote AMA instead of AAM. D’oh!)

    1. 653-CXK*

      I call myself 653-CXK on this site in honor of an old car my father used to drive and this was the license plate that was on it.

    2. I take tea*

      I picked a phrase from a song I like, that also fits me well (I drink A Lot of tea). I also felt it fit in the theme (tea-m?) on this site. I’m jealous of I’m a little teapot, because I’d have liked that one :-)

  44. Potatoes gonna potate*

    For those with strained family relationships, how would you address when someone says “be strong for [family member], they’re all you have/they’re the only one you;ll have” etc.

    My Aunt just passed away last month after 3 months of being hospitalized (heart attack not COVID). Every time my cousin and I talk she says “take care of your mother, be strong for her, take care of her.”

    I know she doesn’t know it’s a loaded statement for me and im aware that loving close relationships are the norm, esp in our culture and I’m the outlier here—I don’t expect anyone to assume otherwise. Right now, my instinct is to leave it alone. I feel now is *not* the time to “educate.” I do have a statement ready, just in case it ever comes up in a time when I feel it’s warranted. But I’m not sure if I could ever bring myself to say it especially to anyone whose lost a parent. It just feels weird because, even right after I lost my father and was in the thick of grief, I could never imagine saying to someone else cherish their father because…I know people have no/strained relationships with their fathers.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yep, just tell her, “Okay” and let the rest go. I agree now is not the time. And it could be there will never be a good time. Or it could be tomorrow Cousin suddenly sees a different picture and lets you know somehow. It’s hard to know how these things will play out.

    2. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      I don’t think it would come up if you weren’t living with her.

    3. Double A*

      I think it’s probably best to think of it as kind of stylized language where it’s more expression of a sentiment than, like, an instruction. People don’t have great language around grief so they rely on cliches in a similar was we use small talk. So the sentiment behind, “How are you?” is more, “I see you exist and am expressing that I have friendly intentions” than “please be very honest about your state of emotional being right now.”

      So the sentiment behind ‘Take care of your mother,” is maybe something like, “In the face of lose and grief, remember the people you love” where “mother” is a stand in for those people, and “Be strong for her” is a reminder than in grief, our life continues and it takes strength to go on. Whether or not your cousin means this subtext, that’s what you could choose to hear.

      I’m sorry about your aunt.

    4. Blue Eagle*

      I’m wondering if it would help to rephrase it in your mind that it is about her and not about you (i.e. that she is saying she wishes she had taken better care of her mother and had been strong for her mother).
      If this were said to me and I felt I needed to respond, I would say something like “yes, I know that you were strong for Aunt Betty” or “yes I know that you wish you were stronger for Aunt Betty” and leave it at that.
      Sorry about your Aunt – – and about your family.

    5. WS*

      That’s her grief talking. Definitely don’t take it personally, just agree and move along.

    6. RagingADHD*

      She’s not actually talking about you or your mom at all. I mean, she thinks she is, but she’s not really.

      Your cousin is saying, “I miss my mom and I wish she was still here so I could take care of her,”

      or possibly, “I tried to take good care of my mom, but I couldn’t save her.”

      or, “I have regrets about my relationship with my mom.”

      You can just empathize and respond by telling her something about her own mom: “I know.” or “You took such good care of Aunt,” “You’re a good daughter,” stuff like that.

      She just needs comfort and reassurance.

      1. ronda*

        you can respond with things about her/ her mother, instead of things about you/ your mother.

        Yes, I know you really miss her, I do too.

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Thats a good point. I try to focus on her mom. She was a fun woman, life of any party

    7. Generic Name*

      I think you can say to your cousin “I sure will” and then do what you normally do/think is best. I see it like saying “I’m fine” when someone asks how you are. It’s just a social nicety/something kind to say.

  45. llamaswithouthats*

    What are some “accidental” good habits you developed during the pandemic?

    Between the limited restaurant hours and having more time, I virtually got rid of my bad takeout habit! I was surprised because I thought it was impossible to give up previously.

    1. Potatoes gonna potate*

      socially distancing. I mean, I really valued personal space even before — if I know you and like you I have no problem with you being close to me but random stranger gtfa from me please. Now that mask mandates are loosening, I’m not entirely sure I’ll give up wearing one, but wearing a mask to me indicates that I’d want social distancing as well. Not sure if this is something generally understood or accepted.

    2. Pennyworth*

      Hand sanitizing. I’ve always subscribed to the ‘germs strengthen your immune system’ way of living, but now I am scrupulous about sanitizing my hands at every opportunity when I am away from home. I think it will be a habit that sticks as long as sanitizer remains freely available at stores and restaurants.

      1. allathian*

        Hand sanitizing and rigorous hand washing. I admit that I’m not quite so careful at home, but I do wash my hands properly when I’m anywhere in public. Sanitizer is better than nothing but it doesn’t work well on dirty hands.

        I certainly hope that stores, restaurants, and public service providers such as libraries and government offices will continue to provide sanitizer.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Being straightforward about boundaries. I often tend toward “don’t say anything and then be mad they didn’t read my mind” which is… not fun! But establishing expectations about safety measures was important enough to be more direct and I hope I can keep doing it instead of going back to awkwardly wishing people would just magically know what I want.

      1. llamaswithouthats*

        This is something I need to continue to work on. It’s great you mastered it.

    4. StellaBella*

      Saving more money, not going out to dinner once a week, not randomly stopping by shops and buying little things I do not need. It has changed my financial outlook and habits a lot. Also wearing a mask. I will continue to mask probably thru next spring when out.

      1. llamaswithouthats*

        Yes with the financial habits. In addition to not ordering takeout, I realized I can live without most things and services (facials, professional blowouts, going to a gym or workout studio, etc.) I’ve minimized my lifestyle a lot.

    5. I take tea*

      I realized that it’s not actually too far to bike to work. I’ve occasionally been working on site, and wanted to avoid the collective traffic. I’ve been too lazy to bike before, but I think I’ll keep it up.

    6. Marion Ravenwood*

      For me it’s saving money, being vigilant about hand sanitising/cleaning, and being better about my boundaries and standing up for myself. I think I was getting there with the latter anyway but it’s felt like the pandemic has kick-started it somehow.

      Also weaning myself off my phone/social media because especially early on I didn’t like how it was affecting my mental health. I’m now a lot less attached to it – it lives in my bedroom during the day and I don’t feel the need to pick it up and ‘just’ check Facebook/Instagram/Twitter and before I know it I’ve lost half an hour. The added bonus of that has been more productivity, both with work and personal stuff like sewing and reading.

    7. CTT*

      Oh man, I had the opposite with takeout; I’ve probably ordered more over the past year than in my entire life (I’m just supporting local businesses!!!). The big one is washing my sheets every week, which is probably should have been doing all along. I always washed my pillowcases, but started to wash the, every week because having a dedicated sheet washing day helped break up the week when I was spending all my time alone.

      1. pancakes*

        Same, I can justify a lot of support for local businesses to myself. I did finally get really good about flossing my teeth, though.

    8. Generic Name*

      This isn’t a habit really, and I can’t do this anymore, but I really enjoyed having lunch at home with my teenager during quarantine.

    9. Ice Bear*

      I’ve stopped shopping for the fun of it. After a year of running into the store to quickly get what was needed I don’t like hanging out and browsing anymore. Definitely a money-saver!

    10. AGD*

      I’ve been doing a far better job of looking after my teeth. I also have a much better sleep schedule.

  46. TX Lizard*

    Baking thread!
    Last week I decided to experiment with modifying my GF dinner rolls recipe, and I got some good flavor suggestions. In about an hour I’ll be putting two batches in the oven.
    One is a savory roll using Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning, black garlic, and oregano.
    The other is sweet and inspired by Norwegian molasses rolls. I used dark molasses, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove infused butter.
    Both were just “follow your heart, not a recipe” experiments, so we’ll see in ~an hour +25 minutes how they turned out.
    What are you baking this weekend? What experimental bakes have surprised you (good or bad)?

    1. Might Be Spam*

      Today I used an old carrot cake mix and added extra baking powder and a chopped apple. Substituting applesauce for the oil worked great.
      Afterwards I looked at the box and it was from September 2003. That’s 18 years. I’m eating it anyway because it tastes fine and I feel like living dangerously today.

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Did they turn out? They sound amazing!

      Our oven broke, but hopefully later today I can borrow a friend’s to bake up some bread. I made English muffins this morning, although that’s done on a stovetop.

      1. TX Lizard*

        The everything bagel ones were quite good. The molasses ones were fine, but maybe not worth the effort/dish cleanup. They weren’t flavorful enough and I’m scared to add more and mess up the chemistry.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Earlier this week, it was hot so everything went over-ripe quickly. This weekend was so cold that we baked banana bread. I pulled out mom’s church cookbook –3 recipes and one has her handwriting: “Use this one.”
      So I did.

  47. Bibliovore*

    Content warning: Death/Grief

    Update and question:
    Mr. Bibliovore died in the early morning Sunday two weeks ago.
    Everyone who commented was extremely helpful. Thank you, my on-line friends (thats what Mr. Bibliovore called you all.)
    I remind myself that “hurt people, hurt people”
    And that right now, I cannot and will not be responsible for anyone else’s feelings and economic situation.
    I am being a grown up. Last week was notifying people, getting ducks in a row (making sure my name is on titles to the cars, the house etc) and money management.
    The death certificates just arrived, next week personal business like bill paying, canceling insurance etc.
    He had a car on-order. (It was the first new car of his life!) I decided to go through with the purchase. It was his dream, our dream car so if I hate it, I can just sell it.
    I saw a grief counselor today. She asked me what I wanted from our sessions. It occurred to me I need a place to wail and not scare the dogs. I have been getting in my car. Driving a few blocks a way and crying in the car.

    1. the grief counselor suggested not rushing back to work. My fear is that I will never WANT to go back to work. That would be a problem- income etc. Anyone have advice on how to do this? When to do this? I have been half-ass cleaning up projects and have one statistical report and one narrative report due end-of-May and then can blow off everything else.

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      As far as work goes, many people find work to be very therapeutic while grieving. I went back to work about a week after my mom died, and for the first month or so I was definitely off. But I loved going to work. I loved having a routine and being busy and having something to distract me. I worked as much as possible, which is probably not a great coping tactic, either, but I needed to get out of the house and get out of my own head as much as possible. You may find the same. You may not. I’d vote that this is definitely something to discuss more thoroughly with your grief counselor–maybe laying out the potential outcomes, pitfalls, and plus sides, and see if they have any insight they can add.

    2. It's Quarantime!*

      If there is anything at work that ONLY YOU can handle and it will cause you stress to leave it undone, go ahead and complete it, but keep in communication with your supervisor/team and, if you can manage it, try not to feel you must be tied to specific office hours. Work when you’re up to it.

      After that, milk every last drop of time and support from your employer’s bereavement policy. Use sick/vacation time if you have it. But don’t feel like you must use all of your vacation/sick time if that would make you uncomfortable. I find that I am more confident if I always have two weeks banked. (You know, in case something Really Bad happens, she says, pretending irony is not a concept.)

      If you can, make sure you’re home is in good hands and go crash in a family member’s guest room for a few weeks. You are proud of being a grown up, and that’s good. Many of the talks you’re assigning yourself right now are portable. You’ll be making many new habits for a while, starting that process in a place where you’re not facing the impact of expectations born of long experience will help. Even if it’s just for a week or two.

      Crying is important. Some people are afraid to cry when they face huge losses because they are afraid that if they start crying they may never stop. They will though. It’s awful, but the human creature can become used to just about anything.
      You may never WANT to go back to work. Who does, really? But even independently wealthy people get bored. That’s how we ended up with “reality TV” and there will come a point when you will just feel better if you have something to focus on for 6-8 hours a day, several days a week.

      Shock is a heck of a drug. It let’s people with compound leg fractures walk miles back to civilization, sometimes not really registering the level of their injury. You’ll look back one day, from however long in the future it takes, and you’ll view the You-of-Right-Now with compassion. You will be proud of her, and you’ll be glad that you allowed her the space and time to catch her breath, no matter how grown up she felt she had to be.

    3. ten four*

      I remember that thread, and I’m glad you checked back in. I’m really sorry about your husband.

      On the work question: can you sit with your manager and figure out how much time you have and/or what they can do for you? It might help to have concrete information to work with instead of trying to parse out the difference between “not rushing back” and “maybe I don’t even WANT to work.” It sounds like you’ll need an income, so figuring out your options and making a plan might help. And if you CAN have lots of time, then take it and STOP having to plan and do logistics for a minute, you know?

    4. sswj*

      When my mother died, I used my drive to work to grieve out loud. I usually left my house early so that I could pull over if I needed to, but in general I used that 35 min or so to just wallow in whatever way I needed. When I got to work I was past the worst of it, for the moment, in a calmer mental place, and could focus on my day. I’m a pretty private person emotionally, as a rule, and being out in public helped keep my attention on my outward behavior and put my misery behind me for a bit. It helped that my work was a small, caring group of people who understood when I went quiet, or rapidly changed a topic, or suddenly had to go blow my nose.

      I found that the distraction of work actually helped get me back on track for living in my new normal (how I’m beginning to hate that phrase, but it fits here). I cried on my work drives for months, until I got so sick and tired of crying that my brain finally channeled that grief into other less traumatic paths. Gradually I could manage the grief and enjoy going to work, enjoy my living. It absolutely took time, and I still grieve 22 years later, but now it’s an occasional wave, a manageable wave, not an all consuming tsunami that leaves me gasping and trembling.

      Do what you need to do for you. Make no ultimatums, but take each day as it comes and face as much of the real world as you can. I’m so very sorry for your pain …

    5. Bibliovore*

      Sorry Alison, I realized this is really about work not appropriate for the weekend.

      I guess my real question is, how do you or are there techniques to get yourself to do stuff while you are grieving.

      Today I realized that I hadn’t watered the plants in the garden for two weeks. My husband was the gardener and the plants were dying. I hadn’t noticed.

      The bird feeders are empty.

      These are HIS things to do and I just can’t.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        When my mother died, her doc wrote my father a lovely letter. In the letter he said, “…. as you reweave the fabric of your life….”.

        I read that letter over 40 years ago and that phrase has stayed with me all this time.

        That reweaving has many, many aspects. It could be that you don’t wanna garden or have bird feeders, and that is okay. Other things will click with you as you go along. Yes, I started out avoiding some activities because of the sadness/grief. But after a bit I was clearly able to see which of those activities I actually enjoyed myself. I brought those back into my life and let the rest of the activities go.

        Let the bird feeders go for now. Maybe a neighbor would tend the garden in exchange for the veggies that it produces. OR, maybe you just wanna let the garden go, period. It’s okay, either way is a good answer. There are no bad answers.

        Here’s the problem I saw, most of my day was filled with things I did not want to do, yet I absolutely had to do those things. I did not want to file for life insurance. I did not want to argue over health insurance. I did not want to take his car to the dealer. My list goes on, sadly you are very well versed in what this list looks like.

        Let yourself up for air. Bird feeders and gardens are optional. There are bigger fish right now and your energy is best used going after the bigger fish. This will not stay the way it is right now, things will shift and there will be less deadlines and less pressure-cooker stuff going on.

        As far as work is concerned, my best advice is don’t cut yourself off from your job IF possible. Maybe you can use family leave? I am not sure about that. I couldn’t work for about 2 months after he died, I couldn’t hold on to a thought for more than a few minutes and I did not fully trust myself to not do stupid things- like lock my keys in my car, etc. My setting was such that I had to work, I still do, so I knew I would be going back to work at some point.

        The way I stayed motivated to pull myself through all this crap, was to tell myself that at some point Future Me would be glad I made responsible choices and kept my wits about me. I can tell you point blank that at that time I did not give a damn about ANYTHING. Nothing mattered. Money? who cares. Job? why bother?
        Health insurance? My concern there was so low, I don’t even want to describe how low it was.

        I came up with some surprises.
        I was surprised by the fact that even in I made a weak attempt to start something, someone would come along and give me a helping hand for a moment. I realized if I initiated something, help would flow. People do care about the widows and widowers around them but they are also very aware of boundaries. Many times their own choice is to wait and see if the widow/er expresses interest or concern about something and then doors can fly open and offers of help roll in. Take the help. Seriously. Take the help. You can pay it back or forward later.

        I was surprised to see the number of people who knew they could not fix my loss but they were most willing to stand beside me while I sorted a Current Matter. I called them brave, probably because I was so loaded with fear. I became braver by watching them be brave.

        My wise friend said finding that first thing is a bfd- in the case of losing a spouse, finding that first thing that I actually cared about was HUGE. I was surprised to find out that my wise friend was right, once I found the first thing I cared about more things followed. My caring started to come back, I felt more like me rather than this angry and crying person. But when my caring came back, it was different than when my husband was alive. I cared about different things, new-to-me things. And that was totally appropriate and logical in this context.

        I think one of the bigger surprises came when I deduced- “Hey, wait. He did not spend his life with me because he thought I was a waste of time. He felt there was something there. I can honor what he added to my life, by going forward and trying to add something to other people’s lives, my community, and so on. After all, I am able to do so because of him.”

        Hang on to the fact that this is a journey, you won’t stagnant, things around you will shift. And know for a fact that not everything that happens next is horrible. Nice things will happen. Sometimes you will catch yourself smiling. We can and we do learn how to live life even with our hearts being shattered. You have a lot of positive things in place here, just keep going.

        1. Bibliovore*

          I really can’t put into words how much your words help me. I received a grief meditation book, Healing after loss. The intro stated that in time this overwhelming sorrow with evolve into gratitude for him being in my life.
          So I start reading. The quote at the top of the Jan. 1st page was by a friend of his, Ed Hirsch. “…I put down these memorandums of my affections
          in honor of tenderness,
          In Honor of all of those who have been
          Conscripted into the brotherhood
          of loss…”
          What are the odds?

          1. Not So NewReader*

            The odds are favorable.

            I have read around, not a lot, but a variety of books and articles. And I see people arriving at similar conclusions, although they make take different paths to arrive at those conclusions. For me, it took reading a few authors to see the patterns emerge.

            It’s a huge internal conflict that is foisted upon us. We don’t want to envision life without them, yet we must carry on in a life without them. I have to argue that they never quite leave us.

            Everything I have, everything I have done in life some how goes back to my husband. So I went over to visit my neighbor this morning. I have this neighbor because of my husband agreeing to buy this house with me. I love my neighbor, she’s the best neighbor I have ever had. The job I have now, long story short is the result of a string of friendships that… you guessed it… go back to my husband. I have more examples, you get the idea, though. My life is forever changed because of him and I get to KEEP that part. His touch is on everything around me and everything that comes into my life. I could give away everything he owned and I would still see and know his effect on my life every single day. Oh, btw, that surprised me also.

            1. Bibliovore*

              What I meant was-
              What are the odds that the first quote in the book was by Ed Hirsch- Edward Hirsch, an actual real life friend of his.
              “Poet and author Edward Hirsch has built a reputation as an attentive and elegant writer and reader of poetry. Over the course of many collections of poetry and criticism, and the long-running “Poet’s Choice” column in the Washington Post, Hirsch has transformed the quotidian into poetry in his own work, as well as demonstrated his adeptness at explicating the nuances and shades of feeling, tradition, and craft at work in the poetry of others.” Poetry Foundation.

              And- thank you for sharing your story. On AAM someone asked how you met your person and I shared that we met in a bookstore.

        2. Jean (just Jean)*

          You should write a book about life after bereavement. Your comments about accepting help and finding motivation to move forward resonate with my own recent loss (parent, not spouse) and my observations of others similarly grieved.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            It’s really good to read as much as you can on what other people are seeing and thinking. Not everything is an exact match, but there are general things that come up over and over that are very relatable.

            For me, losing my last parent was the hardest loss I faced. I know that sounds odd but I do think there are reasons that happens, such as there can be a very high sense of obligation that we only give to our parents. For folks who had a poor to no relationship with a parent it can even be harder because these folks lost the parent twice- once in life and again in their passing. In my case, I knew nothing about grief, not one thing. Many normal grief things happened to me and caused me oh-so-much stress because I did not know they were normal things.

            I have read that doctors know when we lose a parent we begin to exhibit the symptoms that will eventually cause our own demise. This is how powerful losing a parent is- it can change our health. I already know- I am a heart patient in waiting. Eh, forewarned is forearmed. I can do things to support my heart and blood vessels.

            The connection with a spouse is even stronger, I see that tables show the likelihood of one spouse passing, goes up for two years after the lost of the first spouse. And this goes across all demographics- everyone can be vulnerable in this manner. I am not saying this to be scary but because knowledge is power. If we know that grief can tear at our health we can put some effort in to finishing that salad, or taking a short walk or any number of other beneficial activities. I started measuring out my water in the morning- if I can’t remember where I put the car keys, I am sure not going to remember how much water I have consumed. (This goes back to not caring about anything, too. “Okay, don’t care but do it anyway- drink that water”, I told myself.)

            No book. Some of the most valuable things I have ever received in life were free and those things were people’s thoughts and words in the moment. Books are valuable, no doubt, but so are conversations in real life with real people. Growing up we did not talk about grief. And that was a huge mistake. We need to talk and we need to encourage others to talk.

            1. Bibliovore*

              What I do not share with anyone is that I am convinced that I will die of a broken heart, very soon.
              I want to get the lawyer stuff, the account stuff, the money stuff done and set up if I do.
              I am seeing a counselor to talk about these things. I do know that time takes time.

              1. Jean (just Jean)*

                I hope that you are able to get everything set up … and that you are able to find some peace. Life is for the living, even if the living are broken-hearted. Take care of yourself. I wish you more time to enjoy the company of good friends, your caring brother, and the puppy.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                Broken heart. The figurative becomes literal. I am convinced my father’s emotions broke his heart which in turn killed him.

                So when my father died, I was having problems with my heart stopping. It never went to a 911 call and I never loss consciousness, some how it would restart. But it was really flippin’ weird. I got with a nutritionist/chiropractor and he got me on some B vitamins. It straightened me right out.
                I don’t delude myself, I still have this proclivity/weak area, And every day I have to do something to take better care of myself- no magic wands to make it go away entirely.
                When my husband died, I started in on the rapid heart beats. Older and wiser, that only happened once and I went running for my vitamin B.

                So yes, it can feel like our own demise is near. I was really surprised by how real this can get. I want to be careful to point out that a person can have a very strong will to live and STILL have this sense that their body is failing and failing FAST. That is a legit feeling. If we are “lucky” to have an early warning, then we can go get help for ourselves.

                Grief pulls vitamins and minerals out of the body at a very fast clip. This makes sense- grief is a huge amount of energy- worry, anger, sadness, crying, strange and new feelings, oh gosh there is so much going on inside us. It takes extra vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies going in spite of all this stuff that is going on.

                I don’t recommend trying on your own, get with pro who knows how to handle nutrition. That is your best bet. Too much vitamin B can be just as scary as not enough. You want someone who is going to help you find an even keel so you are more comfortable inside your body.
                Some people do try on their own ( not a fan) in that case I encourage them to make sure the vitamins are from natural sources and not synthetics.

      2. sswj*

        Only do them if you get comfort from continuing his tasks. If it’s all too much, then try not to guilt yourself over it. You know he wouldn’t blame you for letting them slide when your life has been shattered, so try (hard as it is) not to feel like you must do ALL the things that were done before his death.
        Hang in there, you’ll find your feet again …

      3. Ali G*

        These are the things that you can delegate to those that want to help: “Hey I realized I don’t have the bandwidth to manage the garden and bird feeders. Can you stop by once a week and help me keep the feeder full and the plants watered?”

      4. Sparkles McFadden*

        I remember from your last post that you have a kind and helpful brother. Maybe he can help you with some tasks you’re not ready to do yet. Also, you don’t need keep doing things that you don’t want to. If you don’t want to fill the bird feeders (or even have bird feeders at all) you’re not dishonoring your husband’s memory if the birds need to find another yard to frequent. There is no right or wrong thing here.

        No, you should not go back to work too soon but maybe you can work with your management on coming back to a lightened work load. I don’t think it’s a good idea to make a very big change (like quitting your job) so soon. You coworkers will want to help you. Some of them may be terrible at it, but I am sure many people would be happy to pitch in for awhile. I’m sure you feel like you cannot concentrate right now, and that’s OK too. Do what you can manage to do.

        You’re rebuilding your life without your beloved partner. You need to find your way, and that takes time.

    6. Tea and Sympathy*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I was thinking about commenting last week, but I was so late that I didn’t think you would see it. So, from last week – I would suggest getting a small home safe to put any papers or valuables into to keep them away from your relatives.
      After my father died I found that the routine and structure of work helped me. But I was pretty flaky with a short attention span. I found that I needed to take more breaks, double check more and expect everything to take longer. So maybe try to observe how grief specifically affects your work and figure out workarounds for that.
      And remember to be extra kind and gentle with yourself right now.

    7. WS*

      Of course you don’t want to go back to work at the moment – dealing with not just grief but the administrative part of a death is a full-time job! It might be a good idea, when you feel like it, to take a trip around the house and make a list of what things were “his” things to do, and which of them are things that really need to be done.

    8. Asenath*

      So sorry for your loss. Try to find some time to decide what is absolutely essential – how much leave can you take, how long can you afford to go without income, is part-time an option? Don’t do anything irreversible now, like quitting your job, but do make sure that you get any and all time off you can and need. Some employers will be quite understanding. Just ask. I had the opposite response after a death – I needed the structure and distraction of work, but, my, I wasn’t performing well while there, not for a good while. No one said a word to me about it; they let me set my own pace for recovery. Be kind to yourself, and do what you can. If you notice the plants are dry, water them and don’t beat yourself up about it. Or dispose of them and take down the birdfeeder, or leave them where they are. It’s not going to be terrible if you don’t water the plants or feed the birds for a while. You can eliminate things you can’t handle right now. Ditto for all the legal stuff – do it, sure, make an appointment when absolutely necessary, but don’t push yourself to get it all done NOW. It’ll still be there when you’re feeling more able to handle it. Cars are good for isolating yourself – odd, when they have windows, but as you’ve discovered you can close the windows and cry and not scare the dogs or the neighbours. Walk the dogs. It gets you exercise, and many people find caring for animals helpful in filling up the void.

    9. ronda*

      crying at work is OK.
      I remember a coworker crying at work because of her fathers death, I didn’t think it was a problem. I think almost everyone at work would understand.
      But… only when you are ready to go back. Just don’t think that you have to be totally over crying if you feel that you are ready to go back.

      Also if you feel like you never want to go back. Start looking into how much you need to spend to live and how long your money will last. One rule of thumb is that if you have 25 times your yearly expenses saved, you should be able to live off investment income& balance for ~30 years (but everyone has different risk tolerances and flexibility they want, so that is usually the minimum that folks use to estimate)

      You can also ask for a sabbatical from current work. maybe 6months off and then evaluate if you need to go back to work, cause of money or need the social / purpose aspects of work.

      And yes ask for the help. Call someone and ask them if they can organize taking care of the yard for you, have them ask a few other people to take on the yard tasks. Same procedure if any other tasks come up. This is good for handling the tasks and good for social connection (make sure you thank them about 1x a month to keep that connectedness – people like to know what they did helped you).

    10. Anonymatic Yo Yo*

      I have a therapist to help me manage emotions and talk through a very challenging medical situation. Just knowing I have that space to talk about the specific problem, with someone who understands quite a bit of the situation (so I don’t have to explain terms or treatments) has been very helpful for me to realize certain things, clarify a lot of emotions, and move forward out of a real rut I had developed that wasn’t helping. It took me over a year to accept I maybe needed to work with someone – I wasn’t ready until I was ready and even THEN it was surprising how much there was to w