weekend open thread – June 26-27, 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: People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry. Poppy and Alex have been best friends since college and take a trip together every year. On the last one, things Went Awry and now they must fix things. This is like the book version of a really delightful rom-com, and genuinely funny in surprising ways.

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

{ 997 comments… read them below }

  1. Bee*

    I come to the AAM community to see if anyone can relate and, perhaps, share information and/or support.
    I woke up the one day the last week of March with a plugged left ear. I figured it was a buildup of earwax, which happens every few years. I couldn’t hear well. I figured about 80% of my hearing was gone. Long story short and for a variety of reasons, I couldn’t get in to see an ENT until two weeks ago. After hearing tests and an exam, the doctor diagnosed me with Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL).

    It is basically just like it sounds: immediate onset of deafness, almost exclusively on one side. There’s a feeling of fullness, as if there were a whole pack of cotton balls stuffed in there. So, I can hear (sometimes: depending on what it is) that there is a sound over there, sometimes what people are saying, sometimes not. It depends on the surrounding sound/conversation/noise.

    Most often there is no known cause. Treatment consists of a course of steroids. The discouraging thing is that treatment is much more likely to make a difference when it is caught and started within 2-3 days instead of 2.5 months. It’s a trite and stupid saying but it is what it is. I have some hope there will be some recovery of my hearing and definite hope it won’t worsen.

    As many know, ear problems also cause problems with dizziness and balance. Yes, both are present.

    There is still a lot I don’t know about this problem, how it will affect my life now and in the long-term.
    Has anyone else experienced this? Did any treatments work? Hearing aids?

    1. 1/2 Deaf*

      It happened to me 4yrs ago. I didnt see and ENT for 4 months, but did get prednisone because the first dr said it was Meniere’s disease.

      No return of hearing. Balance and vertigo in that ear. I cannot afford hearing aides or implants, so I just deal with it.

      It is exhausting trying to follow conversations in noisy places. I do stay home more now because of it. I work in an elementary school and struggle a lot with hearing what is being said, but one ear isnt considered a disability.

      Facebook has some really good groups for this. You will get way better info than asking here. There are also support groups if you google.

    2. Elizabeth T.*

      Depending on what you do for work, be sure to talk to your company’s health & safety person/officer/mgr/etc. to ensure that limited hearing does not pose an increased risk to your safety.
      Your ability to accurately sense your environment is a major factor in keeping yourself safe.
      This even applies in office areas, not just manufacturing.
      e.g. you might need a telephone that has better audio – or a headset with better audio for your phone.
      This also applies to driving.
      Be sure that the medical/health professionals providing treatment are giving you advice on how to manage the temporary/long-term change in risk.

    3. Felis alwayshungryis*

      I’m sorry! (I wanted to say I’m sorry to hear that, but, well…)

      This happened to my mother-in-law some years ago, due to an ear infection. She manages fine now, after some adjustment, but she just has to make sure that if she’s at a restaurant or something, the people she wants to talk to are on her good side. The silver lining is that if her husband’s snoring or the grandkids are being noisy first thing, she can roll over and not have to hear them ;-)

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        I am so sorry to hear that. My mother lost her hearing later in life, and her hearing aids got eaten by her puppy. (Evidently that’s a thing, with puppies…) So instead of a rescue dog that cost $125, she called him her Gold Plated Idiot. $4,575.00 plus neutering!
        One thing you do need is a card from your doctor if you drive. You mentioned dizziness, but with that, you may also have the darting eyes that police can mistake for intoxication. (I have something called BPPV, benign positional paroxysmal vertigo from a crystal in my inner ear.) Walking a straight line is also not going to happen if you’re pulled over when it’s acting up. And tossing your cookies in front of a cop would seal that deal.

        If you know someone who has a really good insurance plan and gets new hearing aids every few years, an audiologist can clean,do an impression with dental goop to fit them to your ear canal, and program them, if they work. My sister inherited my mother’s when she passed; the funeral director mentioned that several of his clients have done this, or donated them to an audiology department for recycling to people who can’t afford them.

        It’s like when I get new glasses, keep last year’s, and donate the previous year’s to the Lions club for charity.

        Best of luck with this.

        1. Skeeder Jones*

          Not commenting on the hearing issue but just wanted to say that my dad was in Lion’s club my entire life and I remember all their drives for glasses donations and white cane day. It was very important to my dad and he would have donated his corneas when he died but there was too great a risk of infection (he had cancer). Thank you for donating your old glasses to the Lion’s club, that really touches my heart.

          1. Carol the happy elf*

            We always donated our old glasses, since I outgrew my first pair.
            When each of my parents passed away, the Lions’ club were at the ER to harvest eyes, and because of their health problems, that was all we could donate. There are so many people whose lives would be wonderful with my old frames and your old lenses.
            Hearing aids are like that, too.
            Also, we had a wheelchair, 2 walkers, 2 foot braces, several canes, knee brace, wrist braces from parents and our own clumsiness. Those go to a place called “Road to Independence” near my friend’s town. They go to the homeless, get rented for a few weeks/months, or sent abroad.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              There’s a place near where I live that rehabilitates used mobility equipment (and a lot of other home health stuff, too). It gives it away to people who can’t afford to buy, and sells it to people who can at excellent prices, using the money to keep it in operation. Called the MSHH Donor Closet, but it’s not exclusively for people with MS. I’ve gotten some good equipment there for dealing with my fibromyalgia. They also refer to other sources for stuff they don’t carry.

              If there’s anything similar near you, it might either carry hearing aids or be able to tell you where to find inexpensive used ones that can be reprogrammed for you.

      2. Selective hearing*

        I got horrendous tinnitus in my left ear in 2009 that lasted a few weeks after I was on antibiotics. In 2016 after suffering tinnitus for 10 months straight and one attack of vertigo I was diagnosed with mild to moderate SNHL on my left. It makes it hard to follow conversations in noisy environments. I have a HA now (oticon) on my left – it is fantastic and it allows me to select 3 settings to use with an app on my phone – one for normal activities, one for noisy environment and a setting that plays a soothing sound when my tinnitus is killing me. A bonus for me is that I can stream sound from videos on youtube when I am stuck socializing with a certain family member that I absolutely loath! Hence my chosen name for this post!
        To add some hope for you in your situation I can tell you that in 2016 after my diagnosis I did wake up one day and my tinnitus was gone and my hearing returned to normal literally over night- but last year after an attack of vertigo it was back to what it was in 2016 – you might have better luck, I hope you will

    4. MissB*

      I wasn’t diagnosed with this but boy does this sound like what I’m going through. I felt like I lost hearing in my right ear suddenly about six months ago. Not full loss- but it feels like the ear needs to release pressure or is under water.

      Until I was fully vaccinated I was unwilling to go to the ENT.

      I have a hard time determining the location of a sound unless I’m facing it, which is an odd effect.

      But… I went to the ENT a few weeks ago and my hearing test results for both ears were within normal range. I have some high frequency loss in the right ear but nothing else is wrong that they can tell. I’m supposed to go back down n 6 months for a repeat.

      I’m so sorry! I’m glad you have a good answer at least.

      1. It's Quarantime!*

        Ugh, I’m so sorry!
        I had sudden, unexplained, partial hearing loss earlier this year. The pressure did eventually fade, it took about 3 months to get used to it. My ENT said it’s not actually pressure. In the past, when your hearing was muffled like this you could pop your ears and it would even out your hearing again. Now there’s something else making it hard for you to hear but your ear doesn’t know that and so it’s sending signals that it needs to pop.
        It’s like having a rock in your shoe, vs having a shoe that is made with a bump in it. In both circumstances your brain will describe the annoyance as a rock, but only one actually is.
        I don’t know if this is making any sense, but I’m so sorry that you’re going through this.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Another close analogy is phantom limb pain. Your brain isn’t getting any signals from that limb, and usually when that happens (and the limb is still present at all) it means there’s a cramp there. So the brain manufactures a sensation that means “cramp in left arm, boss!” because it’s trying to report that to you. Except there isn’t a cramp in the left arm, because there isn’t even a left arm anymore — it’s just a mistaken impression the brain had and ‘helpfully’ translated for you.

          In this case, the mistaken impression your brain is getting due to the hearing loss is, ‘clogged passage in left ear, boss!’ And so it’s helpfully trying to communicate that. Except it’s still wrong.

          They are doing some truly fascinating treatments for phantom limb pain with mirror boxes. Let’s say you’re having that cramping type pain in a missing left hand, and you obviously can’t relieve it by stretching the hand because the hand is no longer a part of you. You put your *right* hand into a box and then look into the viewer, and it shows you a reflection so you see both hands in front of you, even though the left isn’t your real left; it’s just a reflection of the right due to the mirror. Then you stretch and flex the right hand, watching carefully as the “left hand” you see beside it also appears to stretch and flex. Apparently that is often enough to persuade the brain that you have taken care of the problem and it doesn’t have a cramp in your left hand anymore, because didn’t it just see you stretch out your ‘left’ hand? And so it stands down and quits sending you pain messages.

          I’m not sure if there is any possible similar treatment to fool the brain into standing down from sending you messages that your ear is clogged when it isn’t. But there might be? It’s worth investigating, perhaps, anyhow.

    5. Elle Woods*

      I can’t speak to the SSHL issue but I know of the dizziness and balance problems with inner ear issues. I was diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) about a decade ago. As treatment for it, the ENT did a canalith repositioning procedure. It’s an in-office treatment that involves moving the head in various positions to move particles into the vestibule in your inner ear and reduce dizziness. I had one treatment and it significantly reduced the number of BPPV episodes I had. I suggest it only because it may help resolve the dizziness and balance issues you’re dealing with.

      Good luck!

      1. Barbara Eyiuche*

        Try looking up the Epley Maneuver on YouTube if you have vertigo. This is the canalith repositioning procedure, but you can try doing it yourself. I feel that it worked better when a physiotherapist did it, but doing it myself was almost as good, and free.

    6. my mother had this*

      this happened to my mom. it was pretty sad. she also didn’t see an ENT right away. thought it would come back, then she thought it was ear wax, then it was just too late. she got the steroid injections anyway, but nothing. i’m sorry, it really sucks. it feels like someone died. she didn’t have dizziness or anything luckily.

    7. Kyle*

      I have had chronic ear infections this year (causing similar issues) and it appears to be caused by my laundry detergent and my ear being in contact with my laundered pillow all night. I’ve switched to a different hypoallergenic detergent and it seems to be improving.

      Might be worth a shot, if it makes no difference, you’ll still use the detergent.

      1. Jasmine*

        Sorry you are facing this. Check online for an Independent Living Center. They have counselors who can help you learn to deal with this. They can recommend tools and resources it will make your life easier.
        The centers have resources for the deaf, hard of hearing, blind according to each one’s circumstances.

    8. Pennyworth*

      This happened to a friend of mine, and like you she was late to receive steroids. She now has permanent hearing loss in one ear. I hope you have a better outcome.

      I recommend that anyone who has sudden hearing loss to take it very seriously and make every effort to get an emergency appointment so steroids can be prescribed in time to have a beneficial effect. This is one condition where waiting for a problem to fix itself is the wrong thing to do.

    9. tiddlywink*

      My anxiety shot up reading your first paragraph, so while I am very sorry for this issue affecting you (and I AM! I have a long history of vertigo, dizziness, eyes that won’t focus while it all happens, etc., so I Know, ugh.), I was Wildly thrilled to find that it wasn’t actually something with legs nesting deep in your ear.

      Each time my ears clog, my first worry is Always a spider or other creepy crawly. Ugh.

      I hope you get all the help with this that you need!

  2. Aphrodite*

    Let’s share tips on staying cool. Keeping your home cool. Keeping yourself cool. Keeping your pets cool. If you don’t have air conditioning or even if you do but don’t want to overuse it, you probably have tips, tricks and techniques. Let’s share them here!

    (1) Aluminum foil is one of my tips. The funny thing is I don’t think anyone I have share this with has ever used it—and I have no idea why because it works. I buy those 500-foot rolls of it so I have plenty. I either tape long pieces to the windows or the window frames (whichever is least likley to be harmed) using tape. Because the foil is so lightweight you need only a couple or a few pieces of tape to hold it in place. Be sure to place the dull side out for good neighborly relations. I do this in the bedroom usually June though October as I live in southern-central coastal California. It lowered the temperature by 10 degrees, maybe more. For other windows, I would get large pieces of cardboard (bed boxes are great) and cut them to fit in the windows, then tape the foil to those. You can then put them in and take them out of the windows. The idea is to keep the window’s heat from transfering into the rooms.

    (2) To cut down on ice cream intake I buy a quart of Greek yogurt and add a bag of frozen blueberries to it, perhaps with some blueberry juice and just enough sugar to make it slightly sweet.

    (3) I talked about this last year but I now have two bed fans that I use and love. They are unusual and can be found here (https://bedfans-usa.com/products/bfan-usa-plug?variant=8789202010156).

    (4) For the cats, I bought some cool tiling that they can lay on. I refrigerate them (using a towel to protect the refrigerator shelf from damage) and then lay them out during the day.

    1. Elizabeth T.*

      it works by keeping out the sunlight.
      Same way that an automobile dashboard sun screen works. (THOSE are amazing.)

        1. allathian*

          New business idea?

          We have triple glazing, with parisian blinds between the innermost sheets. It works quite well. We’re also in an area where air pollution isn’t normally an issue, so whenever the temperature outdoors drops below that indoors, we keep the windows open and use table fans to create a draft from the shadowy side to the sunny side of the house, if there’s not enough wind for it to happen automatically. Our windows have locks to keep them in the open position, and most of the airing windows also have a metal mesh to keep out insects. We don’t have a HVAC but we do have a portable AC unit in the kitchen/living room. Our bedrooms are in the basement that’s half underground because our house’s built on a slope. The bedrooms have windows of a normal size, but the basement is several degrees cooler in the summer than the rest of the house, so it makes sense to have the bedrooms there.

          1. allathian*

            Because my husband, son, and I are all morning people, in the summer when it’s hot during the day we like to get our exercise early in the morning. This week we’re having a heatwave so we’re going on bike rides as early as 6.30, when it’s still reasonably cool, around 22 C/72 F. Now that my hair’s long, letting it air dry in a ponytail or bun really helps with keeping my head cool. Especially with a bun, even if I’m doing video calls nobody can tell it’s damp.

            1. Jackalope*

              I normally sleep in Saturday mornings – it’s my day to catch up on whatever rest I missed the rest of the week. But this morning I got up at 6 and was out the door on my bike by 7:30 (had to take care of critters and things first). Just got back after a couples of hours out riding. It was nice but starting to get pretty warm by the time I got home so I’m glad I did that.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I bought windows with a coating that works great. The coating keeps out the summer sun rays but allows the winter rays in. (Rays are at different angles.) Not an instant fix, but I really recommend this add-on to anyone buying windows. What a difference.

          1. allathian*

            Typically, our houses have long eaves that block out some of the sunlight in summer but let any winter sunlight in. I’m at 60 N so the sun’s never directly overhead.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          They do — search on reflective inserts for Windows, and you will find a lot. More traditionally there are awnings, shutters including top-hinged ones, ‘sails’ to mount temporarily or permanently, and exterior roll up blinds.
          On the cheaper side use the Styrofoam sheets that ship with big-screen monitors & TVs. I got 2 of mine from someone at the town dump, who was just learning that it was not recyclable.
          Exterior curtains can work, but natural fiber will mildew, and plastic shower curtains will rip aside in a high wind. (I had to chase shreds of plastic across the back yard during a thunderstorm.)
          If you’re on the ground floor and have a pop-up tent, set it up to be shed for your window and wall. (Just watch out for rain building up on the roof of the tent.)

        4. TvH*

          Yes! I found some at the dollar store, and tried it… I found better luck with blackout curtains myself. Maybe because of the old double paned windows?

        5. Carok the happy elf*

          Big box home stores actually have something like this. It’s lightweight zigzag paper, with a peel and stick to hold it in the upper window frame.
          I first used it to make a fan-shaped window shade for a palladian (?) window, because bright sunlight gave me a migraine.
          Not expensive.

        6. Joan Rivers*

          I have Pottery Barn silk drapes but w/a heavy white cotton lining, and find that they help a lot when kept closed, even at a SW corner of the building that can get brutal. That + a fan.

          Fans vary, it’s good to experiment to see what works.

    2. Chalet All Day*

      Similar to your aluminium foil trick – we close the windows and blinds during the day to keep the coolness in and the heat out.

      I’ve been looking at bed fans and they are difficult and expensive to ship to this country :( but I can recommend Coolies!

      A cooly is the opposite of a hotty (hot water bottle). You can use freezer packs wrapped in a tea towel, but I sewed “wheat bags” (which are filled with grape seeds because that’s what the craft store informs me is The Done Thing in this part of the world. I think you could also use rice, but I would fret about mold).

      You keep them in the freezer then put them on your feet in bed. It cools you down enough to sleep and they feel great.

      Wheat bags/grape seed bags/coolies are incredibly simple to sew. There’s a ton of instructions online (for wheat bags at least!).

      1. Aphrodite*

        You just reminded me of this: Get the fattest cucumber you can find and slice it crosswise in about 1/4″-1/2″ widths. Put the slices on a baking sheet, preferably nonstick without allowing them to touch each other. Freeze overnight or until they are solid. Now you can put them in a freezer baggie or a jar and keep them in the freezer. They make the most incredible cooling and soothing eye patches. They also work wonderfully for headaches or general eye strain. (You could refrigerate them but freezing them makes the really cold and you can reuse them again and again.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Okay, now I’m thinking of the scene in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day where she has her first spa appointment and eats the cucumber slices.

          1. Laurie Everitt*

            I LOVE this book! …And am embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember this bit, even though I reread it every year or two.

      2. Aphrodite*

        I keep mine closed all the time too but the foil adds additional protection from the heat.

    3. Like a Kid again*

      We live within walking distance of a school. Their sprinkler system comes on in the early evening. My husband and I have been known to run through the sprinklers once or twice!! Feels wonderful! We are almost dry by the time we walk home but it is so worth it. Record breaking heat this week – we will be going to school often!

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I used mylar emergency blankets as curtains in an old apartment (west facing balcony window on a high floor, no A/C). Pull them shut during the day, open up at night to get the breeze.

      Probably the biggest thing we do is wear as little clothing as possible, and make heavy use of fans. A sports top and short athletic shorts, if you need minimal modesty, or even a bathing suit. A fan pointed at you and a damp cloth draped over you can do wonders for cooling off. This is how I’m working these days, with a sports towel draped over my shoulders. Also lots of short cold showers during the day, after which I stand in front of a fan to cool off.

      Food wise – fruit popsicles. Puree mangos or peaches or berries, pour into popsicle molds, freeze. Use slow cooker/rice cooker/Instant Pot in a room you don’t spend time in (we use the laundry room) to cook meat or dried beans. Cook a chunk of meat, chilled it, and slice it – put it on a salad, or top with salsa/flavoured mayo/mustard/horseradish. Gazpacho. Japanese style cold noodles with wasabi soy dipping sauce. Korean soba noodles in icy beef broth (this is delicious!). Lots and lots of salads. Do hot cooking in the evening before going to bed, so the kitchen can cool down when you sleep.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      I keep a couple of cooling towels in the car – the kind you soak and then shake/snap to activate. They helped a ton when I lived in the desert and it took awhile for the AC to get the car back to a reasonable temp when running errands.

    6. Lady Whistledown*

      For your pet – kiddie pool with some water and a bag of ice (refreshing for your toes too!).

      Absolutely second cold foods – crisp chilled salads with toppings galore straight from the fridge are perfect.

      This is more expensive but we needed it while living somewhere with dangerous water – a 5 gallon water cooler. Always dispensed the perfect temp of cold water.

      If you struggle to drink water, try flavoring with fruits (citrus), herbs (mint), veggies (cucumber) or tea (mmm jasmine green) and keeping it in a fun pitcher in the fridge.

      1. Lizzie*

        Sheets of bubble wrap (packing material) can be stuck to the window glass with just a spray of water, they still let the light in and they are excellent insulation.
        Over the past few years I have accumulated pet chiller pads that have a gel in them, which absorb heat when you put pressure on them. The cats love them, and you don’t have to do anything to the pads. When body heat warms them up eventually then the cats move off them for about twenty minutes and hassle me for another feed, and the mats regain their chilling ability in about twenty minutes. I have one big dog size one, which is nice hanging over the back of my chair. The cat size ones cost about $8 and the big dog size was $20 as I recall.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Thanks for the bubble wrap suggestion! My bedroom windows are now done-I was looking for something that would provide privacy without blocking the light, but privacy film is $$$. $10 has me set, and the insulation is a nice bonus.

      2. Girasol*

        Reminds me of how Mom kept cool in California back when air conditioners were something that only rich people had. She’d blow up our big inflatable wading pool, fill it with the hose, and toss in a few pool toys. Then while we kids were bouncing in and out of the water and shrieking, Mom in her swimsuit would recline on one side of the pool with her head on the inflated rim, and read a paperback novel.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Cook outside. Not just charcoal or propane grills– we bring our toaster oven outside, our small coffee maker, the kettle, whatever makes heat. City residents with a fire escape can do this too, although you’ll have to find a way to run the plug outside.
      Yes it’s extra work, because we learned you can’t leave the toaster oven outside or squirrels get into it. But it lets the house stay cooler.

    8. c-*

      If your floors are not wood or carpet, mopping the floor with just water will really cool down a room. Cotton and linen clothes, spraying water on yourself, blinds, and damp cloths in between window panes if you have double windows. Cold food, lots of beverages, short or pinned up hair.

    9. Dear liza dear liza*

      If it cools down at night, creating a cross breeze with box fans in the windows is very effective.

      For sleeping, wrapping an ice pack (or bag of frozen veggies you can sacrifice) in a towel and placing it on your core/stomach area can be very helpful.

    10. Not A Manager*

      If you’re hiking or walking in the heat, bring a bandana and a very lightweight cotton overshirt. Soak both in water as needed, lightly wring, and put them on wet. They’ll keep you cool basically until they dry out. I used to only do this when camping, but now I do it for walks in the city too.

    11. Green great dragon*

      I’ve got reflective blinds – windows, blinds and curtains shut during the day, windows open if it gets cool at night.

      Frozen fruit – melon works well.

      Cool bath before bed – I run a cold bath a few hours beforehand, and by bedtime it’s warmed up to be pleasantly cool rather than unpleasantly cold. I feel like having the cold water sitting there should take a bit of heat out the air too, but not sure whether it makes enough difference to matter.

      And if you’ve outside space – trees in pots next to the house can shade the walls in summer. And also provide figs.

    12. Dwight Schrute*

      I absolutely can’t sleep when it’s hot so in a pinch I have been known to sleep with ice packs and it works so well!

    13. Jackalope*

      I’m really worried about this heat wave for our cats. I’ve seen a few ideas for dogs, but does anyone have cat ideas? It’s complicated by the fact that we have two older cats (10 & 11), and just got two tiny kittens two weeks ago, so everyone is still uneasy around each other. One of our older cats has medium hair and I’m especially worried about her. I was thinking about locking us all in the basement but that’s kind of big cat territory (although little cats have started exploring it), so I’m nervous about it b

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        When I had cats, I would put ice cubes in their water bowls during heatwaves to keep it cold, and also give them ice cubes to bat around the floor in order to cool their paws. They also liked to be stroked with a damp flannel and would then lick off the water, which I think helped to keep them hydrated.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I used to do that for Pig (she was an outside cat). I usually gave her fresh water twice a day, so it was no biggie to pop in a few ice cubes. She also hung out in the culvert pipe under the neighbor’s driveway–it was very wide and she could go deep in where it was dark and cool and just sleep all day.

      2. Pennyworth*

        Freeze big plastic bottles of water and put them near where the cats like to hang out on hot days. They will sit close to them to keep cool.

    14. MissB*

      We installed central AC about 8 years ago, but it’ll struggle to keep up the next few days. The low this morning is about the same temperature that we set the AC at normally so I’m not bothering to open the windows at 5:30 am to cool things off.

      And this is the coolest of the next three mornings.

      My newer furnace comes with a fan always on option, so I keep that running with the AC. But if I didn’t have an AC, I would turn that fan off super quick because it’s purpose is to balance the temperature on all floors of the house. I have a partially below ground basement that would naturally stay cool at 55 degrees, but because I run the fan it keeps the temps down there the same as the first floor, which is a good 15 degrees warmer than it’s natural state.

      If you have a basement, it’s a good time to spend some quality time down there to organize and clean.

      Other than that, I tend to stay inside. The chickens get taken care of by 6 am, and I water the garden by 8. If I need to go to the store I do it early as well.

      Drink lots of water. Hydration is so important.

      I make sure the pets have fresh cold water a few times a day, including the outdoor ones. I hate wandering out in blast-furnace heat but the chickens deserve cool water in the afternoon too. Our dogs and cat usually hang out inside or on the covered porch. They always have access to inside. No car rides for them this week.

      Dinners tend to be small and cool. Mediterranean plates or salads with some fruit are good enough for lunch and dinner.

      1. the cat's ass*

        We get a few days like this every year too, and because the house is a bunch of redwood boxes flung up against a hill connected by stairs, we all head to the lowest level which is partially underground, including the cats, who usually sack out on the bathroom tile or in the sinks. We have fans and keep the windows closed and shades down, and eat cold noodles, salads, smoothies, or takeout.

    15. Stitching Away*

      I knew someone who used aluminum foil to trick their toddler, who would get up in the morning as soon as the sun came in through the window. She foiled the window in toddler’s bedroom and boom, no morning sun to cue toddler to come running. I thought it was brilliant.

    16. Stitching Away*

      Cooling towels! They are very inexpensive (I believe you can get 4 for $15ish) and are essentially magic. All you need is to wet them, wring them out, then snap them, and they’ll stay cool for a couple of hours. Repeat as desired. I’ll drape them on myself, and bonus, completely portable, so anytime I need to go outside in the heat, I have one on my neck, which saves my heat intolerant self.

    17. Girasol*

      When I was cross country biking I learned that if it was hot and I ran out of clean drinking water, the next best thing was to take whatever non-potable water I could get from a ditch or stream and soak my hair and shirt down with it. If you don’t need to sweat to shed heat, it slows the rate of dehydration way down. When the air conditioner broke in my top floor sunny side apartment, I dampened a shirt to sleep in and that helped a lot.

    18. Ranon*

      For folks in an area with a heat emergency, I’d add the following:

      – Extreme weather stresses all systems- do not assume local infrastructure will stay up. Be prepared.
      – If you don’t have AC, have an evacuation plan to get to a cooling site. Make sure your vehicle has fuel, if you don’t have a vehicle make sure you have loose light clothing, hats/ umbrellas, and lots of water so you can get to one on foot
      – Do not assume you will have an uninterrupted water supply. A boil water notice is inconvenient when it’s cold but horrific when it is hot. Have enough water stored for all occupants for several days, ideally 2x the baseline rec of 1 gallon per person per day
      – Know how to make an electrolyte solution or have electrolyte replacements available
      – Do not assume your power will stay on. A full freezer and fridge will stay cold longer- ideally a week ago you would have packed your freezer with containers full of water so it would be ice. Have a plan for what you’ll do when power goes down and how long you’ll wait to evacuate. Gas pumps also go down in power outages.
      – Have a means to prepare food that adds zero heat to your dwelling- cook outside or plan on all cold foods.
      – Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you live by yourself, better to be over cautious than under cautious- get help right away if you think you need it
      – Drownings go way up in heat waves as everyone gets in the water. Know your swimming capabilities, avoid crowded areas with inexperienced swimmers, and be knowledgeable about hazards of natural bodies of water.

      Stay safe, y’all! Ready.gov has more guidance and tips as well.

    19. PT*

      The window AC I bought in 2007 to cool my apartment is still (knock on wood) plugging along nicely in my MIL’s house. It was $100 and it’s on it’s 15th summer so we’re at $6 and change per year. The cost of running one will vary based on what you pay for electricity, but it was never too bad, maybe $10 or $15 a month to cool a medium-sized bedroom for the hours I was home (it would of course cost more if you had to leave it on all day for pets, etc.)

      It is definitely worth it to buy an AC before you need it, even if you live somewhere where they’re only used intermittently.

      1. Liz*

        I have two thru the wall units that came with my apartment. Even when I was working in the office, I’d leave them on, but turn them WAY down when I was out. this way, it still kept things on the cooler side, but not beastly hot so when I got home, I could then turn them up and it would cool down quickly.

        Also, use the cycle feature; so it cycles on and off, depending on the temperatures. vs. leaving it running constantly.

        And now that i’m working from home, I keep the one in my bedroom higher becuase the air kind of blows out the door, and onto me in the dining room. Plus, the one in my LR is working but not fully; it won’t go down to the lowest temp, nor does teh cycle feature work, so i’m constantly turning it on and off, but while I work, I don’t need it on.

    20. MEH Squared*

      In addition to AC, I have a personal fan blowing high on me pretty much 24/7. Tons of cold drinks (mostly variants on bubbly water), ice packs, and as little clothing as possible when it’s feasible.

      My cat likes to sit in front of the vents to feel the cool air and he’s been spending more time in the basement where it’s nice and cool.

      I also have a weighted cooling blanket that keeps my body temperature down. I discovered that this actually existed on this website and it’s really made sleeping better. The blanket doesn’t cool me down, per so, but it keeps me from getting hotter–which I consider a win.

      Oh! Also, fruit popsicles for a quick cooldown.

    21. Amtelope*

      If you have one window AC unit, use it to keep a bedroom cool (move mattresses from other bedrooms if you need to so that everyone can camp out in the air conditioned room.) Keep the door to that room closed unless you need to go in and out. Don’t try to air condition an entire multi-room apartment or house with a single window AC unit during a heat wave.

    22. Ant*

      For keeping yourself cool, I recommend putting water on your pulse points (backs of ears, neck, wrists, elbows, behind knees, etc) – even if you can’t have a fan/AC, walking around like that can help reduce your body temperature. Also for sleeping, have either an ice pack or a water bottle you’ve kept in the fridge all day (frozen works better but don’t forget a towel around it!) to curl around while you sleep.

    23. Vesuvius*

      Hi,

      I live in CA, in an area that’s experiencing immense heat waves. My partner grew up near Sacramento, and still has friends (who I am happy to say I am also now friends with, due to pandemic, and other *waves hands* bs to do with work, which I can get into later. Suffice it to say, I would not have been surprised if one of my managers came from a Hellmouth of her own).

      (1) One of our friends recommended Reflectix — it’s reflective insulation you can use to cover your sun-facing windows. We have skylights and were dying for something cooler last summer starting in about June, but had no AC. You do have to tape it with AC unit tape, but it’s available in various sizes from Home Depot and Ace Hardware, and so far as I know, works fairly well. We have four skylights total so we bake in our current place without it. Side note: Duct tape can and will melt, and will damage your furniture. AC unit tape can be purchased at up to like 250F tolerance and will not melt! I saw earlier that Aphrodite recommended aluminum foil, but this stuff is designed to reflect heat — the foil might get really hot on you, but I can confirm this doesn’t do that. And, bonus, it’s usually fairly cheap if you don’t have blinds or if you’re stuck with skylights, and if your windows regularly get too hot the tape doesn’t melt nearly as quickly. (Source: Normal tape absolutely melts. I have melted duct tape in this apartment.)

      (2) Lights off. Darker rooms, believe it or not, cool off a little faster. If you have light sensitivity problems, or a housemate does, they will also appreciate this. It also makes it easier to nap away the hottest parts of the day if you are a fan of getting up when it’s still pleasant, and doing work around then. If you can’t do this, which I 100% understand, but it does help.

      (3) A small bucket of cold water you fill and use on your feet in the bathroom (to prevent warping/damage to flooring) is wonderful and amazing. I used to go take cold feet showers last summer and will likely be doing the same this summer. My partner thought I was nuts (his feet get cold very easily) until I convinced him to try it.

      (4) A big box fan with a filter on it. (If you live in an area that suffers from wildfire smoke, get a 1 inch filter. I am unfortunately sensitive to smoke & bad air quality, and last year we had a few days so dark they were like dawn didn’t happen. This was a real lifesaver. Even if you aren’t normally sensitive to smoke, this makes the air in your house/room it’s in taste better, and is better for your cats/dogs/inside pets. I know someone whose cats got very sick off wildfire smoke (someone who lived in this neighborhood previously), so I wanted to be extra careful.)

      (5) There are ice gel packs that you can either microwave or refrigerate, if you can’t freeze cucumbers for some reason. They’re like 20 bucks and sold at Walgreens. Don’t get the buckwheat ones, they stink to high heaven if you over-microwave them and will never Stop stinking. I have a flexible one I got for migraines but it doubles as a “It is too hot in here give me the ice pack” thing. Bonus: They are very easy to clean and my cats are not invested in chewing on them. (My cats chew on EVERYTHING. There is a reason I have digital art supplies instead of paint.)

      (6) There are low-wattage AC units for small rooms out there. I know this because my partner and I invested in one last year and it has been a lifesaver for us and for the cats. Although our cats are assholes who keep turning it off, even having it there has kept us from going insane in the heat. It will not work for a whole apartment, but if you are concerned about low-wattage AC units (as we were, since our apartment has old wiring and fuses — we got one that runs on less wattage than either of our computers), it will help keep, say, a bedroom cool. The fewer windows facing east/west the better. I recommended the model to a friend, who lives in Sacramento, and it helped her keep one room of her house livable (the bedroom, also where her art stuff lived and where her 3 cats liked to hang out). Our cats are fans of it, although they were Very Confused by us setting it up at first. Although one of them likes to sit on it because it makes beeping noises and gets her IMMEDIATE attention from the humans in the house. *rolls eyes* Cats. What can you do? I’ve had to crowd my kitchen counter and stovetop to prevent inquisitive kitties from climbing all over it and possibly turning on the gas (thankfully, the dials are not interesting). (They have various nicknames but online I usually refer to them as Mischief and Mayhem. 3 guesses which one routinely breaks into the kibble bin for food and likes to steal my D&D dice, and which one routinely tears up everything paper-adjacent when she isn’t given affection.)

      1. Jackalope*

        We got some reflective insulation and put it up over the windows on the side of the house that gets the most sun. Just taped it there for the moment and will prob take it down once this heat wave is done but it has helped.

    24. Aealias*

      I fill the bathtub with cold water, to be a heat sink all day. Sometimes I sit in it with all my clothes on, and wander around in wet clothes until they dry and I repeat the whole process.
      I put summer pyjamas in the freezer in the morning, along with a top sheet. Take them both out and have frozen bedclothes at bedtime. If you fall asleep fast, it’s actually comfy.
      Blinds and windows closed right all day, opened wide as soon as outside is cooler than in. And run the furnace fan all day, even though the furnace is off, to blow cool basement air through the house.

    25. Pennyworth*

      Home made evaporative cooling! At a personal level, I spray myself with a mist of water or drape myself in damp cotton and turn on a fan (works at night too). If you have hot windows (especially sash windows), go outside and hang wet bath towels over them (I jam the top of the towel in the window). The evaporation will make the glass cold to the touch inside and cool the room. When the towels dry, hose them wet again.

    26. Nursey*

      Where I live, we encounter 100F+++ days regularly. I don’t have air con (expensive) and I stay cool by:
      Thermal backed curtains closed
      Windows closed
      Doors open (allow for airflow internally)
      Light coloured clothing
      Tepid showers
      2 x strategically placed fans in the through lounge/diner
      Slow cooking food
      Drink tea or coffee to help regulate internal temperature
      Did you know? That stuff you have put on your car windows to darken them can also be used on your house windows!
      To stop sweat forming all over I have a roll on antiperspirant that I use for under my breasts and in my groin (for anyone who has an overhanging apron, use it under there too). This is because sweat build up in those areas can start to cause fungal infections. Also a little dab on the insides of elbows works wonders. Make sure to apply the night before as it takes a few hours for antiperspirant to properly “set” and no, it doesn’t wash off with just water so you can shower in the morning as well.

      1. allathian*

        If it’s so hot that I sweat just sitting down and especially if I have to go somewhere, I’ll probably use baby talcum powder, even if that means more laundry. My family has a history of breast cancer, so while I do use antiperspirant that contains aluminum in my pits, because I’ve found that nothing else works for me, I’m not willing to put that under my breasts…

    27. Anonymous Today*

      I’m in SoCal and while it’s supposed to get up into the 90’s later today (Sunday), right now it’s only 67. I open most of my windows and the sliding door to the exterior as soon as it is cooler outside than inside.

      This usually works until we get the really hot weather where it’s 100 or so for long enough that it doesn’t cool down totally at night.

    28. tiddlywink*

      Thank you for sharing all these ideas! I never heard the aluminum foil one before, but it sounds easy and cheap.
      Win-win! Cheers!

    29. FD*

      Our apartment is in a four-plex that was built with two apartments on the main level, accross the hall from each other divided by a common hallway (with two more upstairs built the same way). This means we have windows in the front and back of our apartment. To take advantage of that, if it’s going to be tolerable overnight, we run intake and exhaust fans to pull air through the apartment at night and then shut everything up when the sun starts to come up. Blackout curtains over closed vinyl blinds are especially good for keeping out the heat of the sun!

      We still run our AC on occasion, but with those tricks, we can generally keep it to just running it overnight if it’s going to be 94+ and humid.

  3. Fran*

    Little joys thread:
    I finally got my first jab.
    We moved little one to their own room and they took it well. Everyone is sleeping better.

    1. Llama face!*

      I ate the first produce, aside from herbs, from my garden tonight (baby carrots) and it was wonderful.

      1. allathian*

        Oh, yum! One of these days we’ll be able to pick the first wild strawberries from our garden. We didn’t plant them, they just appeared on the edge between our lawn and the gravel that’s there to ensure that nothing grows closer to the house than about a foot. I suspect a bird spread the first seed, and then it’s just continued to spread through the roots.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        fresh raspberries, straight from the raspberry bush into my face, om nom nom!

    2. StellaBella*

      I got my car back from the garage! Lots of work needed but it is in perfect shape now.

    3. allathian*

      Congrats on your first jab!

      Summer’s been great so far, we had a few days where it was a bit too hot for my liking, but summer’s my favorite season. The birch pollen season finally ended here a few weeks ago, and now I love being outdoors again without being troubled by allergies.

    4. Might Be Spam*

      I fixed my oven by myself. It heated very unevenly and was hard to use. The bottom heating element looked like it was installed a bit slanted so I unscrewed the metal plate and straightened it. Then it was obvious that the element itself was bent up in one corner and down on two others. So I figured WTH, and with some pushing and pulling I got it flat. Then I used sandpaper to get the baked-on crud off of the exposed temperature sensor.
      The oven works great now. I replaced the burnt out light bulb and now I can watch my pizza as it bakes perfectly.

      1. allathian*

        Cool! I really admire people who can fix things with their hands, because I’m all thumbs.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      Today I am thrilled to be hauling the luggage out of the attic and doing several loads of laundry. We’re leaving tomorrow to visit family we haven’t seen since pre-pandemic. Even the packing and preparation is fun, since it’s one step closer!

    6. 653-CXK*

      I spent another full Friday in the office, cleaning up my 2020 files and getting them neatened up. I’m now caught up on everything, and I’m on vacation through the 4th and 5th.

    7. Lady Whistledown*

      Visiting with family on a road trip to our new home in a different state. We opened “the good wine” and stayed up late catching up and reminiscing on happy memories. Totally lifted my spirit and filled my (emotional and physical) cups!

    8. The Other Dawn*

      Headed back to the office hybrid next week and realized absolutely none of my work pants fit. (Not really surprising…) I ordered three pair of pants online (Old Navy) and they ALL fit! That never happens. Of course, the other ones I want are out of stock now. That seems to happen frequently with Old Navy.

      Side rant: It’s super frustrating that literally every store I used to shop at in-person has closed all locations and either gone out of business or gone online-only.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Oh, and a bigger joy: I booked my anniversary trip to Vegas for next year! It will be our 26th, but we’re considering it the big celebration for our 25th we didn’t get this year due to the pandemic. We’re going all-out and splurging everywhere we can.

    9. GoryDetails*

      Not-so-little joys – my first in-person visit with family since COVID! Just an overnight stay (it’s NH to NY, roughly a 4-hour drive), but much anticipated!

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Our raspberries are starting to come in, and I had a handful for breakfast while watching tiny birds in my flowering cherry tree. Apparently its ‘decorative” inedible cherries are great for birds. Titmice, robins, even a native sparrow.
      My smoke bush has been gloriously red this year. I guess the weather is perfect for it, because other years it has been washed out brown.
      I told stories on a video chat that made people laugh.

    11. Professional Merchandiser*

      Retiring this week. Last work day is Wednesday.
      This will be my third attempt at retirement. Maybe this time it will stick.

    12. Laura H.*

      One of my joys is that this thread is enjoyed enough that if I don’t post one, somebody else will. Thanks Fran! (And woohoo on the jab!)

      My second one is two bite brownies are yummy.

    13. Working Hypothesis*

      We went out today to see In the Heights — our first movie in the theaters since the start of the pandemic, now that the entire family has been vaccinated and is past our two-weeks-after-second-shot waiting period. It felt amazing to be able to do that, even though I stayed masked throughout anyway out of extra caution, but I’m used to masking and it barely felt weird (after I settled into the air conditioning and my glasses stopped fogging up at least).

      And the movie is *incredible*.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        I left a message two years ago for a friend I had worked with decades ago, who was always funny and interesting. Two years later he emailed me back; glad the website he was writing at bothered to pass on the message.
        And we went out to hear live music recently, just when I was fully vaccinated, and have been corresponding since. It was great, we’re having lunch soon. For an introvert like me it’s so nice to know someone who’s a music critic and knows a ton of people. I don’t need much but even I can appreciate some company.

    14. WoodswomanWrites*

      Yesterday I joined my mom in her 90s to celebrate her half-birthday. This tradition goes back decades when she mentioned that having a birthday the day after Christmas when she was younger had been annoying. I brought her Chinese takeout and we had a great visit. My siblings still fuss over her on her actual birthday, so it’s fun to give her two celebrations.

    15. voluptuousfire*

      Reorganizing my bathroom storage space. My dad had bought a bathroom shelving system a few years ago for our bathroom and for some reason decided to cover the shelves (the shelves are made out of 3 long pieces of metal tubing, not a solid, flat surface) with a mesh window screening which was held down with duct tape and craft wire. It was an eyesore and there was still a ton of general junk there. I got rid of the screening, tape, and junk and cleaned it, and brought out the plastic decorative storage boxes I bought in Target a few months ago. They ended up being perfect for this project. I have everything set up and even rolled up my collection of washcloths to fit in one of the boxes, so it looks like a spa. :)

      It’s so nice to go into the bathroom and see everything lined up and nice and organized. It’s been a bit of a tough week or so with some things, so it feels really great to have one thing accomplished.

      1. Liz*

        I love when I do that. I spent a few hours on Saturday cleaning out and orgnaizing my linen closet, under my bathroom sink, medicine cabinet and etagere. Holy crap did I have a lot of “stuff” I still do, mainly bath and beauty, but I also kind of panic bought stuff during the throes of the pandemic. Rubbing alcohol, peroxide, cleaning stuff, etc. Going to give away a lot of the extras, as well as made an inventory of what I’m keeping so there is NO question that I need this or that. I used to buy many multiples, due to FOMO, as well as buy stuff, not realizing I already had enough of it.

        so now, i’ve gotten to the point where if I see something I like or want to try, I’ll buy one or two, not six.

    16. Potatoes gonna potate*

      My little one had her first playdate, at 11 1/2 months old. Granted it was us eating lunch at a restaurant then wandering the mall but there was baby interaction.

      Also I met with a friend after almost a year and a half of not seeing each other or talking much. it felt like nothing had changed.
      (so maybe it was more of a mama playdate than for baby)

  4. Monica*

    I run a web site that has grown a lot in the last year and now has an active commenting community, usually around 50 comments a day but sometimes up to 100. This is a change from a year ago and I am realizing I should take a more active role in moderating it than I have in the past. People are usually polite but not always and sometimes some sparring breaks out or someone becomes too argumentative or kind of a jerk.

    I don’t want to be so hands off that good contributors leave but I don’t want to approve every comment before it publishes either. And sometimes something has been brewing for hours before I see it. I am new to doing this and don’t know how to strike the right balance. I do have a code of conduct I ask people to follow but I wonder if others with experience moderating online communities have any advice about how to moderate well or resources to suggest. Or even if you haven’t done it yourself, what you would recommend if you have seen it done well.

    1. DistantAudacity*

      Haven’t done this, but John Scalzi’s Whatever blog is well moderated for comments. Check out his approach! He has his rules posted, and uses his Mallet to keep things civil.

    2. allathian*

      This blog is one of the best moderated ones I’ve seen.

      Most blog and forum software has a feature that allows users to report posts to the moderator, that might help.

      It’s been years since I was an active moderator, but I started on a few fan sites in the mid-1990s. I’m still technically a mod on a couple sites, but they don’t get much traffic so I don’t do anything for them now.

    3. Lady Whistledown*

      I’ve had a couple comments removed here in the past (one wrong thread and, I confess, one time arguing with someone who was coming across harshly while I was sensitive). Though it takes far more effort, I appreciate that Alison generally leaves a little note explaining her reasoning for removing comments or entire threads. It still stings a little bit, mostly as a result of embarrassment and even shame (thanks jerk brain!) but seeing others get moderated too helps me remember that moderation ensures that this comment section remains a safe and enriching place for everyone to come visit.

    4. L. Ron Jeremy*

      What’s the name of your website? I love to read comments and comment myself.

      1. pancakes*

        I can’t speak for Monica, of course, but I would be very cautious about extending an invitation to anyone with a user name like this, considering Ron Jeremy has been charged with sexual assault and worse numerous times.

        1. Atheist Nun*

          Not to mention how problematic Scientology is…

          That being said, I love the concept of portmanteau names like L. Ron Jeremy or Brian Jonestown Massacre, probably because I like puns so much.

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t think that’s comparable. Poking fun at Scientology probably isn’t going to bother anyone besides Scientologists. Trying to make a joke by referring to a guy with numerous sexual assault and r*pe charges, on the other hand, seems pretty gross.

              1. pancakes*

                I can’t make out what you’re trying to say or what sort of response you’re looking for.

                1. RagingADHD*

                  I’m saying that turning evildoers into a joke and mocking them or their names is a time-honored tradition for disempowering them.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’d recommend getting a backup moderator if you can. Maybe someone in a different timezone to you so that they can deal with situations that arise when you are offline. Though make sure it’s someone you really trust – I’ve heard lots of horror stories in the past about new moderators who get drunk with power and end up doing all kinds of bizarre things.

      1. Sandi*

        This, this, this. Your problem doesn’t seem to be with the rules, it is about response time. So find someone to help you, preferably in another timezone.

    6. OtterB*

      Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s bog Making Light is much less active than it used to be, but the conversations there were great because they were well moderated. Here’s an old but still applicable post from Teresa on her philosophy of moderation: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/006036.html

      I agree with someone else’s comment that having an assistant moderator, especially one in another time zone, can be helpful.

    7. Kiwiapple*

      Please make it clear how to flag problematic comments – this is one area where AAM is not clear and many people do not realise you need to flag it via a link in a comment….
      Also upvotes!

      1. pancakes*

        That isn’t how problematic comments are meant to be flagged here. Email Alison instead.

        1. Kiwiapple*

          @pancakes –
          Um, this is from the rules of AAM which AAM link to herself below another post (by Quill). But you are proving my point to this OP, please have easy moderation flagging for your users!

          “Know that I do not read and approve every single comment. The volume is far too high. So if you see a comment that seems problematic, please don’t do this: “I can’t believe this comment is allowed! Why has Alison approved this?!” Instead, assume I haven’t seen it and feel free to flag it and I’ll take a look (to do that, just include a link in your comment and it’ll go to moderation so I’ll see it)”

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes! That’s the fastest/best way to flag something for me. (There are flagging plugins but they all just automatically remove the flagged comment after X number of flags, which is not what I want since that seems ripe for abuse, as well as confusion from people wondering where their comment went. I haven’t been able to find one that would simply notify me of the flag and which will play nicely with the technical set-up here.)

          2. pancakes*

            Sorry, I could’ve sworn that someone did this recently and Alison said to email her instead.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I bet you’re thinking of the situation this week where someone used a link just to get my attention to something they thought was a good point in the discussion and they just wanted me to read it (not to flag something problematic for moderator attention) and I asked them not to do that. (That commenter has done that a bunch and it’s not what the moderation queue is for.)

  5. Chalet All Day*

    I hope this doesn’t count as The Place We Don’t Talk About!

    My husband and I are close to buying a condo in a ski resort in Europe (about an hour from our home, we’re here as expats). We plan to rent it out part of the time on Airbnb. We’ve Airbnb’d a spare room before so know how much woooork this can be and are confident we can handle it. I’m delighted to have the chance to break out my power tools – the place needs a little work, and neither of us have owned property before so this is very exciting rather than daunting.

    I’d love to hear from the commentators about what’s the best airbnb experience you’ve had? Little touches that improve a place? Personally, I am delighted when the host leaves us a bar of chocolate, but I’m basic like that. I’d love to hear your best experiences!

    1. StellaBella*

      Check with the town if it is legal. In many parts of Switzerland AirBnB is banned. Also check what kind of work you can do yourselves there may be limits. And check annual fees, insurance needs, and HOA regulationsbif part of a building is owned. Good luck!

      1. Chalet All Day*

        Yes we checked about airbnb first thing! It’s all good, we can rent it 11 months of the year – and we do plan to use it ourselves :D

    2. Kiwiapple*

      Clear instructions on access/lock
      Clear pictures of the place
      Iron/Ironing board/hoover, basic amenities etc

      1. Chalet All Day*

        That’s so interesting – I never would have thought of an iron/ironing board as essential! (I am anti-ironing in my everyday life.) But they’re on the list now – thank you.

        1. Kiwiapple*

          Where we stayed was a city apt and my partner requires an ironed uniform so it was super handy for us! (We used air BnB before managing to find our own apartment)

        2. The Other Dawn*

          I’m anti-ironing in my everyday life, too, but when I travel it’s great the have an iron and ironing board in the hotel room. My clothes are always wrinkled when I unpack and there’s really no way to unwrinkle them enough to not look like I just rolled out of bed.

        3. Epsilon Delta*

          I never iron either, but I so appreciated the iron in the hotel room when I was traveling on business and my slacks and fancy shirts had been scrunched up in my duffel bag!

          Also, my MIL irons everything. Even tshirts. It is mind boggling to me but makes her feel better!

        4. Sleepless*

          If you don’t include an ironing board, whether in an AirBNB or a long term rental, sooner or later somebody is going to iron something on the furniture, and excitement will ensue. Do yourself a favor and just put one in there.

      2. DistantAudacity*

        Yes – very good and clear information about the rental, including all amenities that are there. Since you are renting out the entire place it would be good to understand the kitchen amenities (baking tin? Whisk?).

        Clear description of room sizes, ease of access (or impediments if there are any!).

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Yep! I just stayed at an Airbnb that listed “kitchen essentials” including cooking oil – there wasn’t any, nor was there a can opener (which I use maybe once a month at home but of course one of the meals I planned for the trip required one). Think about the kind of items most people have on hand even if they’re not used often, and if there’s a consumable product you intend to provide make sure you’re checking regularly to replace it.

          1. Chalet All Day*

            Yes to can and bottle openers! Once we stayed in an Airbnb without a bottle opener and it was tragic.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Friends in hospitality say items like this get snitched fairly frequently. They suggest wall mounted versions!

          2. Tabby Baltimore*

            Okay, then a wall-mounted electric can opener (if there is such a thing). Some of us just don’t have the hand strength anymore for a manual one.

    3. DistantAudacity*

      I’ve always found having a good communication experience to be helpful (in advance, I mean). I sort of equate communicating well/timely manner = more likely to be a good experience/properly cared for rental.

      Information about local transportation options, including distances etc. to ski slopes, other attractions.

      Distance/transportation options to grocery store, other daily necessities (walk, public transportation, car?)

      1. MinotJ*

        Yes! Maybe I’m just expecting emails at a different time than the host would be sending them, but I often get panicked a few weeks before a vacation because I haven’t heard from the host since I booked the place many months ago. So I email the host, expecting to hear that they have no record of my stay, and almost immediately get a response with all the details that I need.

        For me, I think the original email would say something to the effect of “Thanks for booking our place. Well send you further details two weeks (or whenever) before your stay begins.”

    4. DistantAudacity*

      Having sufficient cleaning supplies and tools!

      Even if you use a cleaning service for between each stay, it is so helpful to have that properly available during the stay for the basic everyday of wiping down counters and doing the dishes (and very annoying if there’s not).

    5. AcademiaNut*

      Sleep in all the rooms as a test. I stayed in one place that was nice, but had an uncovered skylight that woke me up very early in the morning. Some extra blankets and pillows are nice – I like lots of pillows, and my husband sleeps cold – and an alarm clock can be helpful. Somewhere secure to put valuables (passport, laptop, etc) is always a nice feature.

      Method of coffee production. I stayed in one place that had a Keurig and provided pods, another with a drip coffee maker and provided filters, both were great. Also make sure there’s a good corkscrew and a bottle opener. I appreciate it when there are some kitchen basics – things that are cheap and simple, but a pain to buy on a short trip – salt and pepper, tin foil, some cooking oil, a bit of sugar, even things like salad dressing, vinegar and ketchup left over from previous renters. I usually stay in Airbnb’s on extended work trips, so I’m using the kitchen to cook myself a healthy dinner. For a ski place, something like a few packets of gourmet hot chocolate mix, or some good tea, would be a nice touch.

      I also appreciate it when they let me know what they provide in the way of toiletries, so I know what I have to bring, instead of showing up and finding that they’ve got shampoo but no hand soap. So if you provide shampoo/conditioner/soap/laundry detergent, mention it, or say that toiletries are not provided.

      Clear instructions on how to operate stuff, and how to get into the place are always good, and a contact number. If you’re renting to international visitors, a text messaging contact is useful, for if you have phone data but not a phone number.

      The best place I stayed in has self serve tropical fruit trees, but that’s asking a bit much. :-)

      1. My Brain Is Exploding*

        Nix on the fridge stuff for me, that kind of squicks me out… Don’t know how old it is, etc. Some oil, sugar, salt, pepper, coffee, tea bags…all good.

      2. triceratops*

        yes to all of this, and test the shower as well! I stayed in an airbnb once where the shower never got hot and it was miserable after a long day’s worth of travel when I desperately wanted to take a hot shower after getting in…

    6. Virginia Plain*

      I’ve never Airbnb-ed but I have stayed in self catering accom on European ski resorts. So I would say make sure there is a drying rack or similar for wet things – even good skiers occasionally wipe out.
      In the kitchen, if you can manage it, U.K. guests will love you forever if you can arrange for a pint of fresh milk to be in the fridge on arrival. UHT will do in a pinch but it makes the tea taste like camping tea…
      I echo the idea of having salt, pepper, and cooking oil available. A pain to take with you and buying in the shop leaves you with too much for a week.
      I recently found out (sorry if this is wrong) that Americans don’t normally go in for boiled eggs (hot, not completely hard boiled) for breakfast. The british and other Europeans do like them (always a part of breakfast buffets in ski hotels ime) so if you can provide egg cups that will likely be welcome. Similarly, a pop-up toaster. For toast generally but importantly for roast soldiers with your boiled egg!

      1. Meh*

        Yeah, soft boiled eggs are not really a thing in the US. I will occasionally see egg cups for sale (usually around Easter) but they seem more of the decorative variety than functional. We do eat them soft outside of the shell though (poached, fried over easy)

      2. A Cat named Brian*

        I inherited 4 egg cups from my great aunt. I tried to get my kids to eat soft boiled eggs. No go. So they are beautiful decorations at Easter.

    7. Bobina*

      Lots of good comments already about basic toiletries and kitchen essentials.

      What I really like is if the host leaves something like a notebook or info bit about the local area. Nice shops, tourist attractions etc.

      Ooh also, cables and extension cords for charging things. Have definitely had a few times where there was only one outlet on the other side of the room which was a pain.

      1. Kiwiapple*

        Tbh I would not expect a host to provide this (cables etc) The traveller should. Hosts cannot and should not be expected to cover every scenario for every traveller – it would cost a fortune.

        Also, please check your local covid rules i.e proving local information can be done online or as a message through air BnB itself rather than something physical. If physical item, laminate it so it is wipeable.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        I think an extension cord, or a power strip are a good idea, but providing the actual charging cables is unnecessary. Plus people will take them all the time, thinking it’s theirs.

        1. jj*

          They sell pretty cheap ones where 5 or 6 attachment heads are connected to one cord. Something like that is distinctive enough to be clear to someone it’s not theirs. They don’t need to provide it of course, but I agree it’s a nice touch if possible.

    8. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      One of those number-combination locks to get the key is great. I hate the stress of having to be somewhere at a certain time to meet the host to get a key when I’m travelling and can’t always control my arrival time or communicate delays.

      This is also personal preference, but I much prefer staying in spaces that have been somewhat depersonalised. Not as in hotel-style sterile and bland, just not with family pics and stuff out everywhere and obviously personal toiletries that you’re “welcome to use”. That just always weirds me out a bit.

    9. Lady Whistledown*

      Seconding (thirding?) the recommendation to have a binder or notebook with local tips. Best restaurants, nearby attractions. Anything with a description from a real live human being is charming. Especially when you have certain restaurants that may be ok overall but have that ONE amazing dish that is worth crossing oceans for. Bonus points if you have the binder translated into a few different languages for your guests.

      My favorite AirBnB special touch was the host in Portugal who stocked four (4) bottles of Portuguese wine in the fridge. Almost every review on AirBnB mentioned it (because it’s awesome!). Granted he lived 4 floors down so it was much easier to monitor.

      Main other thing I can think of is hiring an excellent cleaner, especially one willing to clean the fridge between visits. A spotless fridge just sings extra level of clean to me. Good luck!

    10. Meh*

      My parents leave a bottle of wine and a box of chocolate for their week long guests.

      Labeling wall switches is great (especially if you have a lot of, we have 6 in a row and I’ve never remembered which is the fan/hall light/ overhead light etc) or labeling if a switch powers a wall plug.

      I had a host leave a variety of plant milks in the fridge (the carton kind that is shelf stable) and an assortment of cereals. That was nice for our first morning.

      1. Tabby Baltimore*

        I cannot upvote this enough. “Clear directions” for garbage pick up means, to me, the following: where the garbage bags are in the home, how the garbage should be tied up and where it should be left sitting for pickup, the days of the week/times of pickup(s) for garbage or recycling, what garbage the sanitation truck will actually take, what recycling it will take, and a map and written directions to the recycling center if the canton doesn’t do curbside recycling.

        Also, please be sure to stay on top of any administrative issues related to garbage pickup: I lived in Germany in the mid-90s, and learned only after several hair-pulling-out frustrating months that my landlords never told me upfront that I needed to pay a garbage tax to get a sticker that had to go on our cans to show we were “legal.”

    11. misspiggy*

      The main thing I’d add is to leave details or menus of a couple of food delivery places you know are good and who know how to get to the condo. Lifesaving when you’ve arrived after a long journey and you can’t face going out to eat.

      Also a hairdryer is a nice touch. Plus if you have soft furnishings like cushions, rugs, quilts etc, go over them with an upholstery cleaner regularly so they look as fresh as possible.

    12. RussianInTexas*

      Hair dryer, more than one is possible, if there is more than one full bathroom.
      I am currently in a beach rental, and I did not bring my hair dryer, thought nah, my hair will air dry, it’s fine (what I do at home). But then I had to go to a restaurant for dinner, with wet hair.
      Basic cleaning supplies. Extra blankets and pillows.

    13. RussianInTexas*

      If the place will be driven to, vs getting to using public transportation, especially if you expect the people to bring their own car, let the description know what the parking situation looks like.

    14. Jay*

      I would love it if hosts put the type of coffeemaker in the listing. We drink only decaf and we have a Keurig at home. I’d be happy to bring some of our pods and I can also buy ground coffee if I know it’s a drip coffeemaker. And yes, make sure there’s a good supply of coffee filters!

      Second the comments about basic kitchen equipment including a bottle opener and corkscrew.

      Please do not use scented anything – air fresheners, detergent, fabric softeners, candles. Please. My husband has a lot of allergies and can’t tolerate scents. We only stay at places that don’t allow pets to avoid cat hair, and if we have room in the car we often bring our own sheets just in case the supplied linens have been washed in something scented. You’ll keep the place clean. It will smell fine without any artificial assistance. Also some non-feather pillows available would be terrific (he’s allergic to that, too). I love all-cotton sheets with a high thread count – they feel so luxurious.

      I love a place that has comfy spots to sit – we stayed in one place that only had one chair, so if we wanted to sit and read, one of us had to sit in bed. And a soft cozy throw would be a lovely touch especially in cold weather.

    15. ThatGirl*

      I stayed in a beach house airbnb last weekend, and the one thing I wished for was clear operating instructions for the AC unit, it was one of those ductless electric ones. It worked great once we figured it out, but it took us awhile and I had to google it.

      Otherwise -clear instructions on where extra towels/linens are, what to do with everything when you’re leaving, little useful extras. And definitely tips on where tp go locally.

    16. Alex*

      Extra blankets! I run cold and am always appreciative of places where there are extras, especially if the bed doens’t have a very heavy comforter or blanket.

    17. ten four*

      I love treats too! A li’l basket of chocolate and weird/interesting chips feels really luxurious and festive.
      Having the right amount of provided consumables is important to me. I stayed at an Airbnb once and there were 10 coffee pods for a 7 day stay, exactly 7 dishwasher tabs, and they were down to like, 5 trash bags. I don’t want to have to ration coffee, soap, or trash take outs! I’m sure quantities are actually a little tricky to manage, but I’d err on the side of generosity and just increase the rates to cover it.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Think of things that your neighbors want your visitors to do or not do, to preserve your neighborhood relationships! Provide clear instructions about local parking procedures especially if there is a lot with reserved parking. Let your tenants know local quiet times. If there is a common facility at the condo complex, what are the rules and preferences about use. I’m thinking of the condo I rented where the community room could be reserved for parties, and if it was reserved, you needed to be invited by the host.

    19. Ali G*

      A plunger! We were just in an Air BnB last week and we needed one (too much TP) and it didn’t have one. Luckily the host was onsite and was able to drop one by while we were out.

      1. mcl*

        Ooh. I just had an unpleasant flashback to when then-boyfriend (now spouse) and I had a romantic getaway at a hotel in a vacation area and the toilet plugged up early in the evening, not exactly romantic. The front desk staff person “didn’t have the keys to the janitor’s closet” and thus was unable to help unplug it (what would they have done had it been a flood??). We were in a fairly remote location but actually considered driving to the nearest town to buy one.
        But yeah. Plungers are something you REALLY NEED when you need them.

    20. Bluebell*

      My favorite AirBnbs have been the ones with friendly and clear instructions. This has ranged from a lovely hand drawn map to an entire binder. Also, if you have preferences or expectations for checkout, include those too – many guests are fine stripping the bed, or taking out trash.
      Leaving snacks or a bottle of wine is really nice. Also, during the summer, it’s nice to have fans as well as AC, but watch the dust. The last Airbnb I was in had a great vintage fan, but it was filthy. Ack.

    21. Pool Lounger*

      Bloomberg had an article thus week titled “Airbnb Is Spending Millions of Dollars to Make Nightmares Go Away.” I’d suggest reading it and making sure you have the causes of the nightmares as covered as possible. The biggest one would be key access that ensures no one else can make duplicates of the keys. The best airbnbs I’ve stayed at were basically run like a hotel—realty company handling keys, prompt responses to questions from hosts, basic amenities covered. The worst experience was with a host who was terrible at answering emails and was unclear about picking up keys—we canceled that one last minute for a hotel.

      1. ampersand*

        I read that article and it was absolutely fascinating! I had never thought about that side of Airbnb—so clearly they’re managing their PR pretty well, but damn was that eye opening.

        I appreciate keyless access. The last Airbnb I was at had a keypad lock and I greatly appreciated it, and I super appreciate it after reading that article.

      2. OpalescentTreeShark*

        I just recently stayed at an Airbnb where she programmed the key lock to the last four digits of the booking person’s phone number. I thought that was so smart!

        1. Cooper*

          These are available commercially, fyi! It’s a standard part of the programming on some of these smart locks– you can change the codes to expire after a specific period of time, so there’s no security risk at all. Definitely a great solution for something like this!

    22. Imtheone*

      We’ve stayed at many AirBnbs, for both short and long-term stays.

      We like to have information in the Airbnb to tell us how to access the Internet, how to use the stove, etc. If you can’t get on the internet, and the only info on the wifi password is on the internet, that is very frustrating. Our first time seeing a stove with radiant heat was very confusing. We finally figured out how it worked. (The landlord told us that everyone uses them in France-which as frequent visitors, we knew was not true. We just smiled.
      The same for using other appliances. This happened to us in multiple languages sometimes in places where we didn’t know any of the four languages that the instructions were translated into.
      Very important to have comfortable mattresses. Also while European bedding can be different, for example a bottom sheet and a duvet cover, in hot weather we really just prefer a sheet and a light blanket. We had to ask at one place for this when it was a very hot summer. Also if it’s hot and there’s no AC, please provide a fan, which makes a huge difference.

      I think some of these things are really the basics, but they are not universal. As a real basic need, make sure the place is clean, well dusted, no hairs in the bathtub. It sounds obvious but can be overlooked.

      Yes, it is great to have tea and coffee and a coffee maker. Packets of sugar as long as they’re not very old and crusty, salt and pepper, cooking oil. I’ll echo what others have said that it’s nice to move personal items off of coffee tables and dresser tops so the visitor can put a small number of their own it down. Better to have a few attractive pictures on the wall and maybe a nice looking bowl on the coffee table then to have lots of cute decorations on flat surfaces.

      1. Imtheone*

        Also a few straight chairs in the bedroom- helpful for putting on socks. And a bedside table with light and outlet on each side of a double bed. When you where glasses, it’s worrying not to know where to set your glasses before sleep.

    23. tamarack and fireweed*

      The people we bought our current place from ran two small stand-alone cabins on the property as B’n’B – via AirBnB, and their ratings were excellent. One is now our guest quarters, the other is my hobby space / studio / home office. Here are some of the things I found that I thought were thoughtful:

      – clear instructions in a binder (written in a tone that sounds friendly yet assertive rather than like a faceless bureaucracy), plus a guest book
      – book cases with tourist guidebooks, local history, local storytelling / cultural interest, transport options, maps
      – board games
      – kitchen equipped for quick-and-no-fuss food preparation (microwave / coffee machine, basic cutlery and crockery with some local motives, some basic non/slow perishable ingredients like cheap coffee, assortment of teas, cooking oil, instant pancake mix, some canned soups and veggies, spices/condiments, salad spinner, trash bags, can opener, rubber bands, aluminium foil, sandwich and gallon sized closable bags
      – a key hook contraption (no losing of keys in a stranger’s place!)
      – portable lights (flashlight, night lantern whatever)
      – basic first aid / health kit, esp. band aids, mosquito repellent, mosquito sting itch cream, basic moisturizing / dry skin lotion, ibuprofen
      – basic cleaning supplies (paper towels, mild surface/window spray, dustpan and broom, small vacuum cleaner)

      1. Clisby*

        And, adding to your second point – a list of nearby restaurants/bars/bakeries/coffeeshops with brief descriptions of what to expect.

      2. mcl*

        We just stayed in an AirBNB and I really appreciated that there was a small shelf of books to read, and a small first aid kit in the bathroom. We didn’t hurt ourselves and didn’t use it, but I thought it was a really nice thing to have in case you cut yourself in the kitchen or something.

    24. Happy vacationer*

      We’ve stayed in a lot of Airbnbs with varying levels of kitchen provisions, and I have to say that my favorite was the one that was equipped almost as well as my home kitchen. They had every kind of baking dish, kitchen gadget, many sizes of pots and pans, and a really well-stocked pantry (oils, lots of herbs and spices, vinegars, sugar.) We were there for a week during the pandemic (so not eating out in restaurants) and it was just great to be able to cook like I was at home instead of that sort of making-do cooking that you normally do in a vacation place. I agree with others that identifying your coffee situation clearly in the listing is crucial, even if you say you don’t provide the coffee. We once stayed in a place that said they had a Keurig and provided pods, but then they left, like, 2 pods for each day, which was a major bummer. The nicest extra touch I’ve seen is at a place we stayed in Bruges where they left us several bottles of a local beer. Oh, and please leave more than enough toilet paper and paper towels!

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

      The last ski resort i stayed at provided a humidifier. It’s not even something i would think about, but in the cold dry winter mountain air, it was a bit of a godsend. Do you expect to have families with smaller children? Could you provide a few very simple toys like ball or disc-type sled. If you’re renting out in the summer, it would be nice to have a bicycle or two or have them as rental add-ons provided upon request.

    26. Kardamumma*

      Reading lights on either side of the bed – not just lamps, but lights you can actually read by. And a surface/bedside table on either side – for water glass, alarm clock, etc. I actually look for that in the Air BnB photos and eliminate properties on that basis alone.
      An ice cube tray and ice already made. When we arrive, we want to make a drink and relax.
      A tea pot and a tea cozy.
      A selection of pillows – from slim and soft to firm and foofy.
      Information about local transit (if applicable), where to buy groceries, a couple of restaurant recommendations.
      I also often filter for washing machine and dryer because we like to travel light.

  6. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.
    I just realised that the way I planned to resolve a certain conflict would mean a serious out of character moment for one of my characters, so now I have to figure out something else.

    1. Laura H.*

      I got a kick in the pants/ come to Jesus moment that I need to be a better coauthor (and that maybe they’re onto something with giving the coauthored fic full attention.).

      Hoping I can keep up the newfound momentum…

    2. tamarack and fireweed*

      I have been thinking about how to reset my writing practice. This is for scientific output, but also two blogs are lying fallow, and I am feeling terribly blocked.

      So I installed / am trying out Scrivener as a writing project management tool. Wish me luck.

      1. Yellow Flowers*

        Let u know how you like Scrivener. I’m thinking of trying it out for my dissertation.

  7. Just Lurking*

    Have any other cat parents here dealt with a kitty suffering from feline cognitive dysfunction? I am looking for both commiseration as well as tips for coping.

    My cat is 11 and has been displaying symptoms for about five months. It started off as increased nighttime vocalizations, then progressed to general confusion and disorientation, occasional litter box issues, and forgetting previously learned behaviors and actions. I’m shocked at how quickly her condition has deteriorated.

    I have taken her to the vet and had a full exam, blood workup, etc. done. Doc prescribed an anti-anxiety med to try and help with the nighttime yowling, but otherwise didn’t have much to add beyond saying this is an unfortunate fact of life for many older cats.

    I feel like I have a bewildered furry little stranger in my house, and we (me and the cat) both seem not to know what to do moving forward. I am committed to trying to keep her as comfortable as possible for however much time we have left. It hurts that I can just “love” her out of this.

    1. Melody Pond*

      Yes! My elderly cat who just died within the last six months had pretty bad feline cognitive dysfunction. I can mostly offer commiseration – it was really really awful how loud she would scream bloody murder at night time. My husband described it to the vet as, “she screams like someone has just stuck her leg into a meat grinder.” She was also mostly deaf and seemed to be going blind at the end there.

      Things we tried (oh so many):
      – Husband built a 2 ft tall, 4 ft deep, 6 ft long plywood box with a hinged lid that we lined with acoustic egg crate foam from Amazon. It fit a litter box, bed, food, and water, and it was her night time place for a while.
      – We kept her in a different part of the basement at night time, as far away as possible from our bedroom
      – She did have high blood pressure, I think, which exacerbates the yowling; we gave her blood pressure meds regularly
      – We tried giving her gabapentin at night
      – Think we tried a few random calming treats, including CBD treats specifically made for cats

      Our cat was quite elderly at this point though – almost 19? And she had several worsening medical conditions. Since your cat is so much younger, if you can afford it, I think I’d suggest looking into an animal behavior clinic. We consulted with a behaviorist vet when debating whether it was time for euthanasia or not. The one we spoke with was really helpful.

      1. Just Lurking*

        I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your kitty. I will have to look into the behaviorist recommendation!

    2. Bucky Barnes*

      My mom’s cat did the nighttime yowling and wandering and occasional box issues. She took him to the vet and it was his thyroid. So he’s on a thyroid Med that’s apparently delish to him. Now if he starts it up, the vet readjusts his meds and he settles down again. He’s 18 now and still doing well.

      1. Lizzie*

        My 12 year old deaf cat has the thyroid ear gel. Only last week I got a night light for the hallway, to see if maybe the yelling was to do with waking up and not being able to see her way around very well. Too soon to tell if it makes much difference, but you could try adding light to wherever your cat sleeps.
        The neighbour’s cat, who has moved in, will sometimes stop my cat having ready access to either of the litter boxes, and after a wee incident I now put a puppy pee pad right next to water bowl and midnight biscuit snack bowl, in the room my cat sleep in. She uses this most nights now.
        As usual, I recommend a sheepskin for your cat if you can get one, they have softness and warmth for old bones as well as that whole substitute mum feeling. My cat is lying on hers on the back of the couch right now!

        1. Lizzie*

          Also you could see if pain relief made a difference, your cat may be waking with arthritic twinges; my vet prescribed some shockingly expensive krill oil capsules which my cat vetoed after the first week of having the capsules opened and the oil put on her food. If your cat can hear, maybe having the radio on quietly would soothe it a bit when you are not right there.
          Otherwise there is nothing for it but to start wearing your hoodie backwards and carrying your cat around everywhere with you in its special hoodie pouch haha. I don’t know why I am laughing, lots of cats would give that a high five as a good idea!

    3. the cat's ass*

      I’m so sorry, i hear you: my older cat, Mr. Bongo (12) is what we term “sweetly demented.” Full workup at the vet, negative. We got him a furry donut thing to sleep in and he loves it. Sometimes he seems to get lost in the dark at night and wanders around howling, so we leave a nightlight on for him and that has helped a little as well. A previous cat had arthritis and CBD oil seemed to help, and when i take him in next week for a check up Ill ask i if that’s at all helpful. It’s so hard to watch or precious little friends decline.

    4. Girasol*

      Our 19 year old was like that in his last year. He would get a frantic look and start scrambling around searching, and we had to lead him to the litterbox. If we didn’t catch it soon enough he’d squat on the living room floor with an “I’m so sorry!” look of shame on his face. Sometimes he’d meow plaintively and we’d need to show him how to find his food bowl. He got so lost even in our very small house. It was sad.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My elderly kitty had a little bit of it, but she died from other things before it progressed much, and it was hard to tell how much was kitty dementia vs. the side effects of going deaf and blind. The big piece I considered was quality of life. If kitty isn’t able to engage in behaviors that she enjoys, is frequently unhappy, stressed, confused, etc, that may not be much of a life. Good luck.

    6. WS*

      My cat started with this and in his case he was in pain (arthritis in an old injury) and was hiding it. He was given medication (gabapentin) to help both pain and anxiety and it really helped him, especially with the sundowning. The other thing that helped was to keep him in a smaller area of the house temporarily, so that he didn’t get lost.

    7. Dancing Otter*

      For the nighttime yowling, putting nightlights in both bathrooms (litter pans and water bowls in each) helped considerably.
      This does not resolve a basic disagreement about breakfast time. We leave dry kibble out all the time, making sure all bowls (food and water) are full at bedtime. Fortunately, our little loudmouth seems to have concluded that the sound of the coffeemaker is his signal for morning treats – canned food or broth never, but never, appear before coffee.
      So he still wakes us up early sometimes, but that isn’t a new behavior.

  8. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual, this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.
    I’ve been alternating Hades with Stardew Valley. Just…one… more…attempt/day…

    In some exciting news, we’re finally getting Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure in the West, woo! Looks like they’ll be working with the fan translators too, which should speed up things nicely.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was playing Pandemic: Legacy — one of our group is moving out of state in a few days so we had to push to finish the game last night and we managed it! We won the final round and but our overall score was low. Saved the world but only a little ;P

    2. Jay*

      Been playing Dreamscaper quite a bit. It is a really unusual one, mostly the most relaxing rogue-like you can possibly imagine.

    3. twocents*

      New D&D game kicking off tonight. Looking over my notes this morning to make sure I still like what I drafted for my character’s… character, lol.

      Otherwise, playing Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. Hoping I can finish it before Skyward Sword drops next month.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve had a tendonitis flare up, so I’m trying to go easy on the video games . But it’s Dragon Bash Festival in Guild Wars 2 this week, so I’m maybe doing a little more pinata smashing then I ought to, because I kind of want a pinata stand in my home instance.

      1. Nessun*

        Dragon Bash!! My guild is hard at work collecting zhaitaffy for the new holo dragon decorations! I just like betting on the moas and then doing the race (I am garbage at the pinata adventure).

    5. Bookgarden*

      After the announcement of Metroid Dread, I was inspired to play Super Metroid again and have been enjoying that. I had it when it originally came out on the Super NES and I’m really surprised at how much I remember. The game had so many great design elements and details for the time. Still playing a little bit of New Pokemon Snap, too.

      Also, I finally got to the island in Stardew Valley! I’m enjoying the big new area to explore but feel bad about neglecting Pelican Town, so I’m trying to balance in-game time between the two places.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        If you are into emulation, I’d suggest checking out the Super Metroid randomizer community.

        1. Bookgarden*

          Thanks for the recommendation! I’m playing it on the Switch so I don’t think it’ll be an option for this playthrough, but I’ll look into the community if it’s OSX friendly.

          1. The Dude Abides*

            It should be. I use OpenEmu on OSX, since you can emulate multiple platforms in the same program.

    6. MEH Squared*

      Cozy Grove (Spry Fox) had a big update and now you can hug the bears! And there are bugs and critters to catch. And there’s a summer event happening in July. And, and, and…so much fun!

      Still trying to find a meaty ARPG to tide me over until Elden Ring (FromSoft). The struggle is real.

    7. LimeRoos*

      Still enjoying the Minecraft update. But I found this stupid good house designer website so I’ve made 2 forever homes… Floorplanner . com. Highly recommend, there’s a much larger selection of furniture than I expected, so many different surface textures, and you can do 2D and 3D modes. I keep meaning to get back into Pokemon Snap but it doesn’t quite hold the same feeling as the original, but I’m pretty sure that’s the nostalgia talking. We’d play it in middle school all night eating crap food and drinking mountain dew. Maybe I just need pizza puffs and mountain dew. I may try this soon.

      Hubby is just past the halfway point in Ratchet & Clank, and I’m debating doing a playthrough. It’s gorgeous and fun, while the platform puzzles seem challenging but doable. Reminds me of Metroid Prime a lot, which I am jonesing for big time. I really wish they’d do a Switch version on the EShop. Just do a bundle of Prime & Echoes, I would pay whatever they want at this point. I have it for the Gamecube and Wii but not sure how the graphics would be on a 4K.

      Oh! We also ordered Tony Hawk & It Takes Two for the PS5 to test out more co-op games. There’s a severe lack of couch co-ops on the newer consoles and it’s been disappointing. Granted, I’m probably the only person who loved the Super Smash Bros Brawl adventure mode on two player. But yes, severe lack of couch co-op games so hopefully these will be fun.

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        Totally with you on lamenting the lack of couch co-ops. Im sure its the prevalence and popularity of online gaming but id love more co-op options to play with my husband.

      2. allathian*

        I’d also like more couch co-ops to play with my son, for as long as he’ll agree to play with me. He’s 12 now so I feel like I’m living on borrowed time here.

    8. Jackalope*

      Still working away at Fire Emblem: 3 Houses. This is definitely on my list of most hours ever for a single video game! (I’m at about 230 now….) My husband and I started playing Haven this week too; it’s a 2 person game where each person plays 1/2 of a couple alone on an alien planet, trying to survive. It’s a friendly game (although we’re just starting out), and seems like it will be cozy.

    9. Vesuvius*

      I have extremely poor (re: limited) impulse control and as such, I have been bouncing between games. It’s been literally 2+ years since I had the free time to play video games at all, and the last 1.5y have been sort of hellish for unrelated reasons (I had a Toxic Hell Job). I’ve also been binge-reading AAM to try and get a sense of how to recover and move forward from THJ.

      Since quitting my THJ, I have gotten into:

      1) Stardew Valley. I’m doing a co-op farm with my partner. We’re still on Year 1, but we’re in winter! We are enjoying the pace of the game and discussing love interests (the 12 bachelors/bachelorettes). Also, he’s a big fan of the mines, so we have gotten to level 85ish. We also discovered the flying skull cave but no bus to the desert yet! I’m looking forward to exploring Ginger Island and the Desert both!

      2) La Mulana — This is a 2D metroidvania game set deep in the wilds of a place that has a very tiny mountain village (site not registered on map, no idea where you’re based). You play as Professor Lemeza Kosugi, who is effectively a more awesome Indiana Jones, and you are exploring the ruins of La Mulana, the nearby temple, looking for your father who went in months ago (also an archaeologist). The ruins are not a nice place and they’re teeming with monsters. The puzzles are very challenging and expect you to write down the tablet clues and locations. The lore is super interesting and expansive, the art is very good, and though it’s hard I always feel really good when I succeed at even a small puzzle. I have had to look some parts up, though. This one is the one I’ve spent a lot of time on (despite getting stuck several times).

      3) Stellaris — I highly recommend looking up a how-to guide or something. I got 100% lost on this game. There are so many menus! Although it’s really cool as a concept, and I want to play it, it has a higher learning curve than I’d expect.

      4) Fallout New Vegas — My partner has this game and shared it with me (we share a Steam library, temporarily) so I wouldn’t buy a game only to hate it. I’m enjoying it but I keep dying because I screw up reading the UI >.<

      5) Tomb Raider (the 2013 game) — For some reason I got this free while I was in college, with all the DLC. Still have no idea how I got it. The camera angle is nice, though, and so are the weapons — I don't feel as though I suck at shooting games anymore, haha. Though I do wish I had an unlock camera button or a lock-on button like other games!

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I downloaded Katamari Damacy REROLL from Steam and have been messing with that on the PC. This game is just as weird as I remember, lol.

      It’s a bit harder using the keyboard, but my PS2 is in storage. Other than that, the game is exactly the same.

  9. NYC Nonprofit*

    Anyone have experience with all electric apartments in NYC? I was offered this studio apartment this week that is perfect in every way except… the only utility provided is cold water. Heat, hot water, and the stove are all electric.

    Everything I’m reading online is saying that an electric only apartment would be a nightmare to have in NYC, with both very cold winters and hot summers. My budget for utilities is not more than $150-200 per month. Is there any possible way this could work, or should I just run?

    Thank you in advance!!

    1. Might Be Spam*

      Where I live, you can call the utility company and ask what the monthly utility bills are for a particular address. We have a combined electric and gas company and they told me that electric heat is around three times the cost of gas heat. Of course YMMV.

    2. KeinName*

      Hi, this sounds very interesting to me and I do not understand, not being from the US. Could you explain how it usually is? In my city (very cold winters) it is quite common to have electric heaters in older apartments, and when you only switch them on in the room you are currently using they can be quite cheap. It is also nice to have only the electricity bill. What kind of heaters are in there? Here you can find free standing very old ‚night saving heaters‘ which heat up during the night. You can also get old electric wall mounted ones, and more recently infrared panels which you can buy yourself and retrofit and have very healthy heat. They are all rather efficient, especially if your apartment is small and you dress warmly. As for warm water, is this not always electrically heated? The more you use the higher the eletricity bill will be? Maybe I am misunderstanding something here ;-)

      1. Bobina*

        This is a regional thing, but where I’ve lived in Europe and the UK, gas boilers are usually responsible for hot water and heating. All electric is uncommon, usually only if the building is not connected to the gas grid, and known for being very inefficient and expensive (unless its a brand new building that has been designed to be well insulated, and use new heating technology, which is rarely the case). As others have said, bills where its electric heating can easily be triple the price of a standard gas boiler. I know the US has a much bigger variety of heating options (including oil etc) but I’m not surprised at the hesitancy at an all electric set-up.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. In the US places with electric heat spark the response “OH NOOOOO”. Winter can get insanely expensive.
          Where I live alternatives include heavy use of wood heat, but there is also oil heat, sometimes gas. Here electric heat per month can be equal to or greater than the rent per month. Typically when landlords divide up a house into apartments here they put in electric heat.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Yeah, if you are on burning-based electricity (i.e. coal fueled power plants) it’s far more efficient to do the burning at your place so you get the heat directly. A power plant burns the fuel to turn to heat, turns the heat into electricity using turbines, the electricity is sent to you on the power grid, and then your heater turns it back into heat. It wastes some at every step, so it’s better to do locally.

      2. ThatGirl*

        In a lot of the US, natural gas is used for heating water, the stove, and the house/apartment. In New York specifically the buildings are often heated with giant boilers/radiators that also provide hot water. Gas and thermal heat are usually less expensive than electric. And apartments often provide those as part of the rent, so you only pay for electricity for lights/appliances and AC in summer.

      3. RagingADHD*

        In NYC in particular, it is traditional / common for buildings to be centrally heated by steam radiators from a common boiler. So heat & hot water are included in the rent, or in the maintenance charges for a condominium or co-op.

        Since the radiators are either on or off for the season, you will sometimes see folks with their windows open in the winter to let an excess of heat out.

        My main concern about an all-electric unit would be whether it was retrofitted into an older building, or if the building is new and designed for efficiency.

        1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          I thought for a long time that it was absurd for me to have the windows open to avoid overheading when it was snowing.

          Then we had the pandemic, and I discovered that “you get so much heat you need the windows open in the winter” isn’t a bug, it’s a feature, for ventilation during epidemics.

      4. KeinName*

        Thank you all for your explanations. It might be that insulation standards are also different and therefore the electric heat it not such an issue.

      5. Clisby*

        My hot water (and stove) are gas. Everything else is electric. I’m in the US. I don’t care about the hot water – we just inherited the water heater from the previous owner. I will never have an electric stove if gas service is available.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In Indiana, with hot summers and cold winters, I have three fully working from home adults, one of whom has five reptiles and their associated heat/humidity needs, in a 2700 sqft all-electric house, and our electric bill averages $201 per month over the last two years. I can’t imagine a studio apartment somehow managing to exceed that.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        For consistency: most utility companies will do what they call “budget billing,” where they average the bill over a 12 month period so it stays consistent for you, rather than having (for example) a $20 bill one month and a $100 bill another month. Usually in month 12, they reconcile what you’ve paid with what the actual running total was (which, at least for my power company, is available on each bill as well) and you pay (or don’t pay) the balance to zero it out, then they set you a new “budget” for the next 12 months based on the last 12 months usage and so on. (So when I say my electric bill averages so much, that’s what I mean – my current budgeted amount is $201, the previous 12 month period’s budgeted amount was $205. I think the 12 months before that, when I still had the original windows in my 1980s house, it was $235?)

    4. TimeTravlR*

      Growing up in the North, I just learned to wear socks, sweats, etc. all the time. If you budget the $150 – $200 then hopefully you can save some in the spring and fall when temps are better and you can apply the savings for the cold winters. A studio apartment shouldn’t be as bad (although as someone else noted you may be able to find out average use from the electric co).

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Run. At all of the apartments I lived in in NYC, the landlord paid for heat and hot water, so already you’re covering something you could avoid covering. I don’t remember ever seeing a listing that didn’t include those two utilities. At our last place, in Manhattan, we rented a condo that turned out to have heat issues in the building. Our landlord (who was wonderful, like a New York unicorn) brought us a space heater and offered to pay the difference in our electric bill.

      Unless your base rent is something insane like $900 (ha!), don’t do it. And it’s not just because of the electric, it’s because you’re likely better off with a landlord who’s willing to cover it.

    6. pancakes*

      I’ve lived in NYC for 24 years and have never heard of this. Every apartment I’ve lived in has included heat and hot water, and landlords are required by law to provide it during “heat season” (Oct. 1 through May 31). Search for that phrase and you will find more information about it. This apartment sounds like an illegal conversion.

      1. NopityNope*

        Quick note, the landlord is required to provide heat and water, but not necessarily pay for it. It could definitely be a illegal conversion, but (optimistically) a newer build or renovation may have individually-metered heat/water. Absolutely crucial for OP to investigate thoroughly!

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t think that’s correct. My understanding is that the residence has to be heated to a certain temperature regardless who pays for it to reach that temperature. From last year’s press release on nyc dot gov:

          “The Department of Housing Preservation and Development today announces the start of New York City’s ‘heat season,’ during which all residential building owners are required to maintain indoor temperatures at 68 degrees when outdoor temperatures fall below 55 degrees during the day. Indoor temperatures must also be a minimum of 62 degrees overnight, regardless of outdoor temperatures. Building owners are legally required to provide hot water at 120 degrees year-round.”

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            They’re required to maintain the heat and hot water, but they are not required to pay the utility– they can legally pass that to the tenant. Most do not.

            1. pancakes*

              I see. It looks like they do have to provide a history upon request:

              “Before signing a lease requiring payment of individual heating and cooling bills, prospective tenants are entitled to receive a complete set or summary of the past two years’ bills from the landlord. These copies must be provided free upon written request (Energy Law § 17-103).”

    7. NopityNope*

      As mentioned in another post, get info on past builds. Con Ed will give you 24 months of history as a prospective renter. Also find out how the bill is calculated. Do you have a separate meter, or is there some kind of dividing of a larger bill going on? If you’re paying Co Ed based on your actual use, that’s one thing, but I’d be more leery of a landlord divvying up the building’s bill. Especially if there are larger apartments, families, etc. I’d be concerned about potentially paying more than my fair share as one person in a studio if there aren’t separate meters.

      Also, re: heat, what floor is the apartment on? My apt was on the top/5th floor and I had to open windows in the winter because the overall building was just warm. Granted, not electric heat, but heat might not be a huge issue. Also, central heat/thermostat versus wall heater? More control with a thermostat.

      So definitely check the usage history and, if possible, find out what other residents’ experience is with the landlord. It might change a great deal into a good deal, or just an okay deal. But if it’s otherwise a good option (location, etc.), I’d at least consider it.

    8. Thriftyone*

      I have never lived in NYC but regarding electric hot water heater, it most likely will have it’s own breaker, you could turn the breaker off when you plan to be out of the apartment for long periods of time and turn back on when you plan on using hot water. We did this when we went to work and even over night since we used little hot water in AM. We created small sign, hot water on/off to track it.

      1. Clisby*

        Back when I was a college student in Charleston, SC, I turned off the water heater entirely for at least 3 months in the summer. Charleston’s water supply was mostly surface water, so it was pushing 80 degrees anyway – I didn’t even need the water heated for a shower.

    9. PT*

      When I lived in Boston I was advised to RUN from this situation, too. The heating bill would be too crazy in the winter (I think someone told me to budget $400 in the winter if you took a unit with electric heat, but that was a long time ago now.) I always opted for units in older buildings where the heat/hot water/water were included for that reason.

    10. Fulana del Tal*

      Run. My A/C during the summer eight years ago was over $200. With prices increases this will blow your budget. Like others have said unless you’re paying a well below market level rent it isn’t worth it.

    11. lapgiraffe*

      I had all electric in a six story building in Boston for over a decade, AC could get expensive but I like it cold so I ran it constantly. Heat was never, ever, ever an issue, never a bill over $125, maybe not even $100, and never had to turn it down during day or night to try to save $$$. Always nice and toasty.

      I then moved to a house with gas and good lord, what an awful two winters of over $400/month bills. These were two family homes and not insulated, the second winter was the first in the place I bought and after getting insulation I’m not even hitting a third of what my heats bills used to be, but I’m still paying more for my heat than I ever did in my all electric condo.

      People have always lamented expensive electric heat (here in Boston/New England), not even a thing where I’m front down South) but that just hasn’t been my experience. I currently have steam heat radiators and, through my bestie’s Master Plumber boyfriend, have learned a lot about steam heat. I believe the northeast has the majority of steam heat buildings, it’s a holdover from another era but clearly it’s so expensive to build or replace things that the residents of the region have come to, dare I say, romanticize it because it’s what they know/they can’t change it. I swear I think the electric heat=high bills is an old wives tale and comes from an bygone era.

      NYC apartments will often have the heat included because it’s on one large steam heat system so it would be impossible to individually meter each unit. That’s why so many people complain about the radiators they can’t control, have to open up windows even when it’s freezing, it’s all one big unit set to one temperature. It’s also why water is included, but know that included means your rent is calculated to cover it, not that it’s necessarily a better deal. Having all electric means they can meter each unit, therefore no need for the landlord to cover it.

      Don’t get me wrong, I actually love my steam heat (we’re on natural gas) but I truly had no issues with electric heat and wouldn’t consider it a red flag.

    12. Observer*

      the only utility provided is cold water. Heat, hot water, and the stove are all electric.

      I’m fairly sure that they still have to pay for the heating / hot water. Check with the NYC agency that covers this – HPD (Housing Preservation and Development.)

      The rule is not that they have to provide gas, but that they have to provide heat, and it doesn’t matter how the heat is provided.

  10. nnn*

    Can anyone recommend, from a place of firsthand knowledge, a weighted blanket that’s appropriate for the summer?

    In the most ideal of all possible worlds, it would be no warmer than a single cotton bedsheet and, somehow, as physically thick as a down comforter.

    IRL, I suspect we might run up against the laws of physics there, but I’d love to hear about anything that is actually, in real life, keeping you cool and also securely wrapped up in a palpable thickness.

    1. Buni*

      ugh, I’m no use to you but I’ve been looking for something similar too. I’m not so bothered about the thickness but I want All of the weight with None of the heat…

      1. Still*

        I don’t know if it’s just my browser, but the link isn’t working for me. It looks like a link but isn’t clickable and doesn’t seem to lead anywhere. Which is a shame, because now I’m very curious about this wonderful knockoff!

        1. nnn*

          The link doesn’t work for me either. Based on what I see with the Inspect Element function of my browser, it looks like there’s an a tag, but no href.

    2. Bon Voyage*

      Try searching for a chunky knit style?
      I made one that mostly fits the bill using T-shirt yarn (about 12-14 pounds worth) and arm-knitting. It’s pretty breathable, since it’s cotton with lots of little gaps in the fabric. Happy to share more details if this would be up someone’s crafting alley.

    3. A Cat named Brian*

      I bought one from etsy that was regular quilt material with tiny plastic beads inserted in the squares. It’s much cooler.than the one I got my daughter from Target. (Hers is similar to a standard blanket material.) Most of the time I’m fine but I use a small fan near my bed.

    4. fposte*

      I’m not a weighted blanket person, but I’ve become besotted with the microfiber blankets that are velvety on one side and fleece on the other. The low-end ones I buy from my supermarket in winter have a clear filament weave holding them together and the nap clumps up a little with a few washings, so they’re sort of thick but lacy as a result. Maybe that would be a possibility? I’ll include a link in followup to an Amazon example, but the key search term seems to be “sherpa blanket” with a check that it’s not trying to be fleece on both sides.

    5. Nordygirl*

      They are pricey, but I have a Tree Napper from Bearaby and I LOVE it. It’s cool enough for summer sleeping and is the perfect weight for me.

    6. Low Key Laufeyson*

      I’m not sure where you would even begin to look, but a loose-mesh chain mail would work perfectly.

  11. Virginia Plain*

    In a recent open thread, under someone’s topic of Small Joys, I posted about singing in a cathedral choir. Too late, I saw someone had asked if services were streamed. Now I can’t find those posts but if the choral music fan is reading this, yes, just search for Guildford Cathedral on YouTube – most services are streamed live but available afterwards. You’ll know if it’s my choir (as opposed to the main cathedral choir with choristers) as we wear plain blue cassocks (theirs are a sort of terracotta with a white surplice). Our next services are 18th July.

  12. WeAreTheJunimos*

    Hi friends! I posted a couple weekends ago about getting a bonded pair of cats! I read all of your advice, thank you! We had the home visit yesterday, which went very well and we’ve already found most of the hiding spots downstairs. I’m sure there are more. They are joining the family on Thursday! I have pretty much nothing for them, but will be shopping Monday! So my next question would be, what was the best purchase you made for your cats?

    1. Bea*

      Toys! Lots and lots of toys. Cat tree. Scratching post. Soft beds. Window perches. Crinkle tunnel. Mats that go under the litter boxes to trap tracked out pieces. I’ll keep thinking…

    2. The Other Dawn*

      My cats go berserk for those teaser wand toys, the ones with a long wand and a string and toy attached. They love the ones with the lightweight furry mouse or the feather, though they prefer the mouse. They don’t like anything that will whack them in the face so I avoid the wands that have the big stuffed fish on the end.

      1. Anonymous Today*

        I, too, prefer things that don’r whack me in the face.

        (Thanks for the laugh.)

    3. L. Ron Jeremy*

      High quality, gain free wet food. Solved the urine crystals and overweight conditions once I transitioned them slowly from dry food.
      Both cats have increased energy and their pelts are full fluffy and shiney.

      1. Flower necklace*

        I agree with high quality wet food. My cat was fine on dry food until my dad died. I really wish I had fed him wet food from the beginning. It would have saved me a lot of stress.

        My cat is very particular about his toys. I started out buying him a ton of toys until I learned what he likes. His favorite now is catnip mice – specifically Frisco Sparkle Fish. They’re small enough that they bounce when he bats them around. He likes ping pong balls, too, but I prefer the fish.

    4. c-*

      Some people love getting toys for their cats, but mine was happy with homemade toys, so if you’re crafty you can have fun recycling scraps :) Best thing I bought was a heavy hardcover encyclopedia about cats (behaviour, breeds, care advice, common illnesses…) Can’t recommend it enough, it was called The Big/Great Cat Book or something like that.
      Aside from that, good stable metal bowls (4, if you get 2 cats) for food and water, good food (not gourmet but not storebrand either), a litter box, litter, scoop, a scratching post and something large and soft for bedding (a pillow/fluffy rug inside a basket works). Cats don’t need much, I’d save the money for the vet.

      1. c-*

        Oh! And a pair of claw clippers and a cheap long-toothed hair brush for grooming. Chips are better than collars, but if you get collars, *make sure they have elastic bands*. Cats can choke when climbing if the collar gets caught in something, otherwise.

        1. Lizzie*

          Some cardboard boxes, with a few viewing or paw holes cut in a couple of sides for extra entertainment.

    5. It's Quarantime!*

      I live on an upper floor with a balcony/patio.
      I bought an insert for the sliding glass door that has a cat flap.
      My kitty could go out and lay in the sun whenever he wished.
      It enhanced his life tremendously.
      And sometimes, he would come in to cuddle with me.
      He smelled like sunshine. Like line dried laundry.
      It made my heart sing.
      I miss him.
      So much.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        There’s a poem in there whether you intended it or not. I miss your cat now too.

        1. Imtheone*

          My friend built a catio, so the cat could safely go on the balcony whenever he wanted.

    6. PT*

      Get one of each kind of scratcher, so you can find out which sort they like. Though I recommend, if you have carpet, do not get a scratcher that has a carpeted base or post. When I got my cat as a kitten, I got her a cardboard scratcher for “flat” scratching and a sisal scratch post with a carpet base for “vertical” scratching and it turned out that her favorite thing to scratch was the carpet base of the sisal scratch post. Now she thinks all carpet is for scratching. Whoops.

    7. Cookie D'oh*

      Da Bird feather cat toy
      Vivipet water bowl and food dishes
      Smart Cat ultimate scratching post
      Also, some cardboard scratches for horizontal scratching
      A good metal scoop (instead of plastic) for the litter box
      Black Hole litter box mats

      Congrats on your new additions!

    8. Skeeder Jones*

      2 best purchases:
      Litter Genie – helps trap the stink when cleaning the litter box
      Cat fountain – my cat lurves this! You can even put in ice cubes on a hot day
      I also recommend the Breeze system for the litter box however, my cat is pretty big and doesn’t really fit in the one with the cover so she ends up peeing on the mat I keep beneath the litter box, basically she doesn’t always get her whole rear in to the box. So, I would not recommend it for large cats but if she was a little smaller it would be perfect. So much easier on upkeep than a traditional litterbox.

    9. gabbet*

      Pick up some reeds, rushes, wildflowers, grass, feathers, maybe pinecones and such, if there’s any nature at all nearby. Reeds can be used as toy wands, pinecones can be thrown for the cat to chase if so inclined, feathers smell like birds, even mixed bouquets of random plants can be fascinating for indoor cats. I think it’s about the outdoor smells. Plus you get a purposeful walk in the nature out of it.

      Just make sure that none of the things you bring in are toxic to cats. Flora Incognita is a great free app that identifies plants based on photos you take with your phone camera.

    10. Jackalope*

      Cat towers are really good so they have a place to climb. We put ours next to windows and the cats can look out and bird watch. A really solid litter scoop is also nice; we had a couple of plastic ones that broke, but got an aluminum one that is so much sturdier. And lots of toys – cat toys are cheap, and a couple of packs of jingly balls and catnip mice make a big difference.

      1. Lizzie*

        A pot of cat grass is welcome for indoor cats, they will nibble a bit as a digestive, or eat a few blades of it if they need to throw up a fur ball.

    11. mcl*

      Honestly, a very expensive automatic feeder, the Pet Safe Healthy Pet Programmable Dog & Cat feeder. It was like $90 so I was really hesitant, but we’ve had it for 4 years and it works like a champ. It’s helpful for when we’re out of town for a night or two, but we have it running all the time to dispense small meals throughout the day. I bought an aftermarket food stream splitter for this auto-feeder (I believe that some enterprising person just made with a 3D printer) that feeds into two bowls instead of one, and glued two cat bowls onto a mat so that the two cats each have their own dish. I clean the bowls when they start to get gross.

  13. GingerSheep*

    So I know this has come up a lot on weekend threads, but I’m not great with the search function and can’t seem to locate the relevant posts. Sorry!
    I wanted to know what resources you would recommend for first-time dog owners? I’m getting a puppy (a papillon) in late August/early September and want to be prepared! I’ve had (and have) lots of animals across my life (cats, a rabbit, various rodents, tropical fish and kids of the human sort) but a dog is a new experience for me… Thanks !

    1. Meh*

      Look into training and doggy day care/social groups. A lot of people don’t do obedience training with small dogs because they figure they can just scoop them up. This leaves poorly behaved dogs that run you.

      Socializing your dog with a variety of people and other animals is necessary if you want to take her out in public. If you WFH then day care is must. So many pandemic pets are now suffering from seperation anxiety because their pet parents hadn’t ever been away from home until now. Also a huge uptick in shelter animals as people dump their pandemic adoptions off because they are returning to offices.

      Good luck and enjoy-puppy life is hard!

      1. fposte*

        “Look into training and doggy day care/social groups. A lot of people don’t do obedience training with small dogs because they figure they can just scoop them up. This leaves poorly behaved dogs that run you.”

        Oh, this is such a pet peeve of mine, and it also can make them snappish and cranky because they’re not getting their bodily autonomy respected.

        1. English, not American*

          In defence of small dog owners with reactive dogs, it’s been other dogs not respecting my pup’s autonomy (or outright attacking him) that’s made him so aggressive. He’s too old for puppy socialising classes, and all the dogs around here are either aggressive dog-haters themselves or bouncy and friendly and *will not* get out of his face even while he snarls and snaps. Add to that a leg injury which means I can’t let him run or jump anyway, yeah I’m going to pick him up when we need to pass another dog.

          1. fposte*

            I think it’s fine to pick up dogs sometimes, regardless of their size. But that’s a move in addition to training them, not the substitute you find with snarling purse dogs.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        +1000. Training is as much for the owners as it is for the dog. Also, if you do a group class, you’ll get to see how your dog reacts to other dogs and then get some feedback from the trainer on how to handle the situation
        And yes, we’re seeing the ads now for the pandemic puppies and kittens. Makes me sick, actually

      3. Dog and cat fosterer*

        Daycare isn’t required. I have taken my puppy out for social visits (parks, coffee shops, etc) and I kept her in another room of the home for parts of the workday and did crate training so I can leave without anxiety. I have fostered some dogs with severe separation anxiety and it was a huge worry with my puppy, yet there are a lot of options.

    2. Dear liza dear liza*

      Oh, puppies! So much fun, so much work. Get the pup on a set schedule from day 1, consider crate training, go to puppy kindergarten, be sure to socialize the pup, and remember 1) the pup is a blank slate, so things they do that are troublesome are not meant to be bad- they need you to teach them everything and 2) you have work, friends, family, hobbies- all the pup has is you. Sometimes I really, really want to do something else, but when Bucketdog comes to me for attention, I set aside my desires and give it to her. (With proper boundaries, of course.)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        On “you need to teach them everything”: Begin as you mean to go on! A papillon is not going to be large, so you have that going for you, but if it’s not going to be something you want them doing for the next 15 years, don’t let them do it as a baby, no matter how cute it is. My husband and I both made that mistake with my younger dog when we brought her home at 8 weeks – he used to just lie down on the floor and let her romp all over him and lick his face and stomp on his kidneys and whatever, because it was cute when she was 8 pounds, but now she’s 50 pounds and still does it every time he lies down on the couch or in bed or wherever. (She only does it to him, at least.). I let her sleep in my lap while I worked, and when she got full-grown, she still insisted on climbing into the chair with me, so now instead of a proper desk chair I have a big armchair at my desk and she regularly tries to take her half out of the middle. :P

    3. Wishing You Well*

      A papillon dog has special needs and issues. Be sure to read up on that particular breed.
      My parents wanted one until either the vet or the breeder told them it could break a bone by merely jumping down from a couch. My parents decided that wasn’t for them and bought a poodle mix.
      I hope it goes well for you!

      1. Dog and cat fosterer*

        The irony is that I’ve heard of many oodle pups being given up to rescues due to broken legs. It’s anecdotal data, but seems to be happening enough that rescues have commented.

    4. Thunderstorm*

      Look for an online community, like a Facebook group, forum, or subreddit, meant for Papillion owners. Every breed has its quirks and it’s very helpful to be able to ask a knowledgeable group when you run into challenges. Start reading it now so you’re better prepared (although some things you never understand until you experience them, lol. I’d read that retriever puppies were mouthy, but was still shocked when ours was a land shark who bit us for months. The retriever forum I joined saved my sanity.)

  14. Kali*

    I’ve just learned that my grandfather has Alzheimer’s, like his mother before him. I know that might mean they carry genes that make Alzheimer’s more likely, like the ae04 variant of apolipoprotein E. Which means there’s a 25% chance I’m also a carrier (50% my mother inherited x a 50% chance she passed it on to me).

    I’ve wanted to have my DNA sequenced for years, since I started studying genetics. I wanted to have it fully sequenced, but those services are expensive. For now, I’ve decided to go with 23andMe. They check SNPs* rather than fully sequence DNA, and that will be enough to tell me if I’m a carrier of ae04 (plus a load of other things they check for). My fiancé is doing the same test, purely because if it turns out I’m a recessive carrier for something like cystic fibrosis, I will definitely want to know if he is as well, so we might as well do the tests together and get a small discount.

    Has anyone had a DNA test done for reasons like this? What was it like getting the results, just on an emotional level?

    *SNPs are single nucleotide polymorphisms, that is, single letters (A, T, C or G) of DNA which tend to differ. For example, take these two sentences:

    My shirt is grey.
    My shirt is gray.

    They both mean exactly the same thing, but they’re spelt differently. To work out if I’m more likely to be British or American, you don’t need to read the whole sentence, you just need to see if the third character from the end is an ‘e’ or an ‘a’. That’s the difference between checking SNPs and fully sequencing.

    1. Meh*

      I’m sorry about your grandfather, mine has had Alzheimer’s for a few years now. Hugs of comfort from a stranger.

      For your example- I can never remember which spelling is which so I alternate when I write grey/gray.

      1. Eden*

        grAy with an A for America, grEy with an E for England! But also nbd to choose one at random.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I didn’t do it just for apoE, but I did do 23andme and I was curious. I found the easiest way was to export my results to GEDMatch, but now 23andme will list your apoE genotype. It’s not hard to figure out from there, I’ll put a link in a reply, but I found that my family and I are all apoE3.
      Honestly, I’m not sure it’s worth checking, though, because you should be leading your life as if you found that it’s apoE4; trying everything you can to stay healthy. This is why “genetic counselor” is a career path.

    3. fposte*

      I did 23andme several years ago, before the FDA told them to dial their claims back. They gave likelihood results for Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, and one other more obscure thing (can’t remember what) separately from the general results and required additional consent clicks to read them. It was a sobering moment; while my results were okay, I definitely had to steel myself. I think they offered a suggestion of waiting until you were with someone to open those; while I didn’t, I think it’s worth considering.

    4. DNALady*

      I work in DNA sequencing and got a discount years ago from these companies as part of a work perk. I loved reading the ancestry bits and seeing where parts of my (very mixed) background came from. I got both of my parents to do it and it was really cool to see specifically which parts of my chromosomes came from who.

      That said, I chose not to have kids from a very young age (exacerbated by studying genetics TBH), but if I did want to pass my genes on I wouldn’t’ve relied on a mass market “test” like this to make serious determininations about carrier status. Maybe as a jumping off point to see a genetic counselor like “I saw this on 23andme, can we look further?” Not sure if that was the point of your question or not.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That’s an excellent point. These commercial kits are intended for “fun” and to satisfy general curiosity. They’re not substitutes for genetic counseling.

        1. Stitching Away*

          And unless things have changed recently, their labs aren’t up to the same standards for accuracy, so you can’t rely on the results, be they positive or negative.

      2. Kali*

        I’m not using them for medical advice. I’m using them as a quick and dirty indicator of what might need more investigating.

        1. pancakes*

          It sounds like you’re counting on it to be a reliable indicator of whether you need to see a genetic counselor for further investigation, though. My understanding is that it isn’t.

    5. Rachel*

      My now-husband and I did specific pre-conception genetic counseling through an OBGYN. There are also free services that do this – like JScreen in the US. I wouldn’t rely on 23andme for medical advice.

    6. ronda*

      I don’t know if they do it for alzheimer, but my doctor sent me for genetic counseling because of family history of cancer. they told me it would be better if my sister did it than me, but since neither of us are reproducing we both decided not to do it.

      maybe check if your insurance covers it?

    7. zaracat*

      One thing to be wary of is whether identifying a genetic risk factor will affect future insurance, because you may then be classed as having a pre-existing condition. Also, it’s pretty common for unexpected results to come up eg your dad turns out not to be your bio dad, or you have previously unknown siblings. Pre-test counselling is an important aspect of medically based testing, but even if just for fun, important to think about what you will do if something shocking comes out.

      1. Squeakrad*

        The laws that were passed in 2008 made it illegal for health insurance to consider results of genetic test of pre-existing condition. However you still can be rejected for other insurances like disability or long-term care.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Laws can change. It’s a legitimate concern I think. Especially since the science of interpreting genetic data is still in its infancy.

    8. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If you do have the gene that makes you more likely to get Alzheimer’s (which is not very treatable as of now), what are you going to do with that information? Not have kids? Try to retire early? Work on other dementia risk factors like cholesterol and taking a baby aspirin? More information isn’t always better if you can’t do anything about it.

      1. Kali*

        I have considered this, but I specifically asked about other people’s experiences not for advice. That’s because I prefer to get more information and then make up my own mind, and I also prefer not to share much more than I already have, which discussing this in-depth would require.

    9. ThursdayNext*

      As someone with an advanced degree in genetics, I would never use 23andMe (or another commercial service) to learn about a health condition; there’s a reason they cost what they cost.
      You mention one Alzheimer’s related gene that you’re worried about, but we definitely don’t know all the genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s. Does 23andMe test for every known Alzehimer’s related gene? Or every known variant in every Alzheimer’s associated gene? [Probably not, 23andMe only tests for the 3 most well studied Brca1/2 variants when there are many more.] If you’re very concerned about hereditary genetic risk factor for a disease you’d end up talking to a genetic counselor, or getting a more comprehensive genetic test done no matter what: you’d need to confirm 23andMe results via another method, or you’d need to get more information about genes/SNPs not tested by 23andMe.

      1. Kali*

        I know 23andMe doesn’t test for everything, which is why I said I’d prefer to have my genome fully sequenced. That isn’t an option right now.

        In the UK – where I am – it is possible to be referred to genetic counselling on the NHS for some conditions. Pursuing this through my grandfather’s care would require increased contact with my family, which is very low down on my list of preferred options. Having more information, even from a commercial test, gives me something I can discuss with my GP without going down that route and also gives me more information, more quickly, than any other option available to me right now. I do also have a genetics degree, so I know enough to look beyond what 23andMe say my results predict and look at what they actually checked and then look at specific papers myself to figure out what that’s likely to mean and what it doesn’t mean.

        I shared more information because you’ve expressed concern but I specifically asked for other people’s experiences rather than advice because this isn’t something I want to go into any more than I already have. Without my sharing more information, people can’t offer appropriate advice because there are too many factors they’re unaware of. In the comments above, for example, there are multiple suggestions regarding future insurance which just don’t apply because I’m not American. They’re well meant, but they’re unhelpful because I didn’t share more information. I didn’t ask for advice *because* I’m unwilling to share more than I already have.

        1. ThursdayNext*

          I know we’re well into Monday so maybe you won’t see this, but I don’t think you responded to my point – 23andMe can’t tell you about mutations they don’t test for and all the lit review in the world won’t help you with that. Any putative positive results will need to be followed up with by more extensive testing, especially since you say that you and your fiance want to check if you carry any of the same recessive SNPs. If the only Alzheimer’s related gene that 23andMe tests for is ae04, you not having a mutation where they check for in ae04 doesn’t really give you any more information about your Alzehimer’s risk (since Alzehimer’s is a complex disease likely caused by a complex combination of environment and mutations in multiple genes), besides what you know, which is that it seems to run in your family.
          I get that you don’t want to share all personal information but this is an American based website so most people will assume that you are in America.

  15. Jay*

    Happy Weekend everyone!
    A little question for the Forum Regulars:
    My folks adopted a pair of rescue dogs a little while back.
    Everything is going well except one thing:
    They are having trouble getting the dogs to eat.
    They’ve taken them to a couple of vets.
    They’ve spent entire WEEKS going around to literally every single store that sells dogfood of any kind, covering hundreds of miles, to try to find new brands the dogs might like.
    My Mom, the single finest cook I have ever known, has made them elaborate homemade meals that are better than what most people will get at a restaurant.
    Nothing seems to work.
    They remain underweight.
    Anyone have any tips to get a finicky dog to eat?

    1. Lady Whistledown*

      It may seem counterintuitive and even a bit harsh, but when we had a similar situation (I bought so many brands of food and was adding peanut butter or eggs to meats to his meals), after confirming with the veterinarian that there were no underlying health issues, we followed the advice of our trainer to offer food twice a day for 15 minutes.

      Morning: Bowl of food is offered for 15 minutes and then picked up
      Dinner: Bowl of food is offered for 15 minutes and then picked up

      He lasted for three (3!) agonizing days and then he started eating when offered. Both the vet and trainer had said that if he went to day 4, we would’ve needed to bring him back in for a new exam.

      Water was fully available at all times.

      If that would break your mom’s heart (goodness knows I felt like a monster!), the only other thing that has worked for my dog is having mealtime with other dogs. It taps into his instinct to eat quickly even if they’re not looking at his food. Might not be happening if you already have two rescues who won’t eat but just sharing my experience. Good luck!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Are they showing interest in the food at all, or just ignoring it completely? We identified my dog’s cancer (in the back of her mouth) by looking further into the fact that she was really interested in food, but physically couldn’t eat it without pain, so she got real interested and then wandered away. (Not to suggest that your folks’ dogs somehow both developed a rare cancer at the same time, but what I’m getting at is, more specifics about what behaviors the dogs are doing when offered foods might help with suggestions.)

      Are they showing interest in ANY kind of food? Begging behaviors from people eating people food, interest in treats, anything like that that isn’t specifically THEIR food?

      What kind of bowl are they being fed in? Have your folks tried different options there? My dog at one point decided she just wasn’t eating out of a bowl anymore, she wanted a plate. (As far as I could tell, anyway. She stopped turning up her nose at food if I dumped it out of the bowl onto a plastic plate.) If they’re tall dogs, they might need an elevated food bowl for comfort.

      It’s strange that they’re BOTH refusing food – that’s the thing that stands out to me, and makes me think it’s less likely to be a medical issue. Have they checked with the rescue to see if this was an issue there as well?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        On doggy weirdness: This morning, her breakfast was a few beef meatballs and a leftover cheeseburger patty. (She’s on hospice, the vet literally says she can eat whatever she will eat because getting calories into her is more important than worrying about what those calories are, I do not recommend feeding most dogs people food for breakfast, none of it has seasonings in, etc, anyway.) Part of the issue with her cancer is that she has lost some mouth mobility, so usually I feed her breakfast by hand. This morning she wouldn’t take the meatballs from my hand at all, but she scarfed them when I offered her the whole plate, but taking the cheeseburger bits from my hand was just fine, and she wouldn’t try to take them off the plate at all. Who knows. Sometimes dogs are just weird :)

    3. Meh*

      My weirdo senior dog has decided that bowls are evil and went for days without eating. After trying so many things I discover cloth napkins will work. The food doesn’t make noise on it, she doesn’t have to stick her face into a scary bowl.

      When she gets picky I will sprinkle a bit of cheese or chopped chicken to get her appetite going.

      Do their collars clang against the bowls – that scares mine.

      1. Lizzie*

        So their teeth are definitely okay, no sore mouths? Are there any strong smelling plastics or insecticides or air fresheners or bleach smelling floor cleaners anywhere near their food area? Maybe they were used to having food tipped onto cement or grass, or even to waiting until they were given a command word before they could eat. When they do eat a little, are you near them or far away? I wonder if they were always stroked while eating, or alternatively given a lot of space. Do let us know how things go with them!
        There is a special vet pet food you can get that is used for animals who have had head traumas or anaesthetics or whose sense of smell and hunger has been affected by illness. It is a short term fix – loaded with nutrients and flavours- just to get things started again. Good luck, I hope it resolves very quickly.

    4. Anonymato*

      Our dog hated bowls made out of metal.

      Curious: Do they eat treats and chew bones? Or just really nothing?

      To make things more palatable, we also had success with pouring some olive oil or liquid (our pet store had stew for dogs) and actually using raw diet. But our dog had strange tastes anyway, since while she would not not eat some dog food, god forbid we dropped a string bean, piece of kale or an apple ;-)

      If they don’t eat right away, you can also try to actually put a bit of the food directly in their mouth – sometimes only then they realize “it’s not so bad”.

    5. MissB*

      Lots of good suggestions already.

      Do they get treats? If they’re getting treats, then those should stop and at the very least, consider using their kibble for treats. But I’d consider removing treats altogether until a meal is eaten regularly.

      My dogs only eat once a day. We don’t free feed. They don’t want breakfast. They do get a treat randomly during the day, and they’re not stalking their food bowls for food. They do know when dinner is. One of them is a 9-month old puppy, and he’s just completely uninterested in two meals. I’ve offered so many times but he’s just not into it.

      Both dogs are active and not overly lean.

      I’d add some chicken or beef broth to the dry kibble to see if that entices the pup. Heck, if even go wit a dribble of bacon grease.

    6. Pug Mom*

      My sister has a dog who is a rescue. She will not eat unless someone kisses her in the snout and lovingly tells her that it’s okay to eat. That is literally the only way she will take in food. I think my sister discovered this out of desperation. Now, 10 + years later this is the routine. Even if she has to drop her dog off at a kennel for a few days when she goes out of town — this is the only thing that will get her dog to eat.

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        My rescue, former-street cat has a version of this. She needs to be petted before she will eat, which I have never seen with any cat I have ever known. She’ll eat eventually by herself if literally no one is home for long enough, but if someone is home she’ll be stressed and go bananas yowling and crying until someone comes and pets her for at least 15 seconds (often longer if she’s not desperately hungry).

        1. Girasol*

          Ours often wanted someone to stand beside him. My husband thought he wanted someone to guard his back while he had his head in his bowl.

    7. Dog and cat fosterer*

      Are they truly underweight? I hate saying that because food is such a sensitive topic, but there are *so many* people who think that a dog of healthy weight (able to easily feel the ribs but not see them) is underweight. Their dog “won’t eat”, except that it’s a good weight and is eating a healthy number of calories. The guide on bags of food is often not accurate, and I end up having to feed more or less depending on whether they gain or lose weight. It may be that these two dogs are the exception, and if so then sorry for having to mention it.

      I would suggest the same as Lady Whistledown, to give food 2-3 times a day for limited times.

      I have been lucky as my dog’s instinct is to love food and the competitiveness affects my fosters. I had one who was very picky but he sped up with a drooling audience.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I should think that after multiple trips to different vets, at least one vet would have said “hey, they’re not actually underweight” if that were the case.

        They are not relying on the food bag for reference.

    8. Qwerty*

      You may have tried this already, but adding warm beef broth to the dish was the only way my sister could get her rescue dog to eat for the first month or so. Heating up the broth got the meat smell into the air and then the dog would investigate and end up eating a bit or two of kibble.

      Does the dog like peanut butter at all? If he does not show interest when offered it, maybe put a little peanut butter on him near his mouth – should start the tongue automatically licking and activate “eating mode”.

    9. Wishing You Well*

      Warming the dog food to make it smell more might work. It did for us.
      Best of luck to your folks.

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

      Try eating with them (your own food of course) instead of feeding them in a separate location/time. Seeing “the pack” eat might make them feel more secure. I did this with my parents rescue dog for a bit until he felt more secure about his food location and raised feeding dishes. I would just take my own food close to his and we’d eat together.

      1. KR*

        This helps my senior boy. When he wasn’t feeling too well, I would sit on the ground with him while he (slowly) ate. Otherwise he would wander off and follow me wherever I was going in the house. I think it made him feel better to know I was watching out for him while he ate.

    11. Anony vas Normandy*

      What kind of bowls do you use? My mother has had metal bowls for all of her dogs; a new rescue ate for a few days and then began refusing. After lots of experimenting, she had the dog tested for allergies and discovered that she’s allergic to various metals. The solution was as simple as switching to a ceramic bowl.

    12. Jay*

      Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for all the replies!
      A little bit of an update and an answer to a few questions:
      Firstly, I shared the link to this website with my parents so they could read the replies for themselves and plan to take several pieces of advice you folks gave.
      Secondly, some additional information about the dogs’ behavior that I didn’t know at the time.
      1) Bella, the female, will eat a bit, every day. She is a little under weight, but not worryingly so.
      2) Cody, the male, will only eat late at night, completely alone, in total darkness. He is the one they are really worried about. He is, as they put it, skin and bones.
      3) They have tried every type of food dish imaginable. Plastic, metal, paper, even using their own dishes. Nothing changes.
      4) The dogs will beg for food when they see my parents eat. They will not, however, actually eat the food if given it.
      5) They are given treats, but will only eat one or two types.
      6) They will use plastic dog chews. Cody the male, especially, will destroy them in record time. So his teeth and mouth seem to be in good working order.
      7) They have recently developed severe aggression issues toward other dogs. Cody has gotten bad enough that they are forced to have him wear a muzzle when they go on walks. He is tiny and frail and keeps trying to attack huge neighborhood dogs who could literally eat him in one bite.
      8) Bella, the female, was pregnant when they adopted her. No one told them this and she was so skinny from malnutrition that you could not tell by looking. She gave birth to two healthy pups (the father is unknown, but we suspect a larger breed dog, judging by the size of the larger of the two pups) who were adopted by my brother and his family as soon as they were weaned. My parents puppy sit for them regularly. Bella and Cody have become increasingly aggressive to the puppies, to the point where they cannot be allowed in the same room.

      Thank you again for all your advice!

      1. Super Anon For This One*

        This is super super late, but: try putting gravy over the food (it just smells super yummy to them I think), and also of all stupid weird things: Accent.

        Like, the flavoring you’d put on human food.

        We had a dog that would wait until we sprinkled Accent on his food to eat.

  16. Myrin*

    I would love some tips on how to, if at all, deal with my father’s girlfriend’s attempts to reach out to me and my sister.

    My parents separated in 2007 when I was 16 and my sister was 11. We have subsequently become estranged from our father, mostly because the divorce made it even more obvious that he cares very little for us; that works perfectly because both of us also care very little for him. Without going into too much detail, it’s a situation where neither side would be completely unaffected (emotionally, I mean) if the other died suddenly but ultimately it would change basically nothing about our lives. We have lunch twice a year – once for Christmas/New Year’s, once for my sister and my birthdays which are only one week apart – and might see each other twice or thrice outside of that or not at all.

    The thing is that this works very well for us. I’ve never had a good relationship with my father and my sister has been actively afraid of him a lot of the time growing up and sees him as the core reason for why she became so susceptible to abuse as a teenager. He will sometimes lament how we never reach out to him or keep him in the loop, never once mentioning that he doesn’t reach out, either, and so far I’ve managed to stop myself from saying “Well, clearly you have no interest in us and we have no interest in you, either, so it all works out, doesn’t it?”; I am technically willing to say this but I won’t if I don’t have to because it’s just gonna come with artificial Drama™.

    The problem is that my father has an absolutely lovely girlfriend, Maria. They’ve been together since 2011 but only moved in together in late 2019. My sister, who’s always been somewhat closer to our father even after the divorce and who also saw Maria somewhat regularly by virtue of working at a supermarket close to where Maria lived, has had a good relationship with her all throughout these ten years. I met her on my father’s 50th birthday party in 2012 and only really met her and had a conversation with her during the Christmas lunch in 2019, and really only because she now lived with my father.

    Like I said, she’s lovely. Friendly, warm, generous, supportive, actually – and somewhat weirdly, in my case – cares about us, all that nice stuff. And as a consequence, she contacts me from time to time, wanting to know how we’re doing, saying she’s looking forward to seeing us again sometime, even sending a little birthday present to our mum (!).
    It doesn’t happen often – I just looked through my phone to see if there’s any pattern and I think if you calculated the average, it would be about once every three months but in actuality it’s more or less random.

    And the thing is – and I feel like such an arsehole for saying this – that I don’t actually want her to reach out. I don’t want to have contact with anything regarding my father beyond these two-and-maybe-two-more situations where we see each other. I’m really not someone who gets unbalanced easily but whenever I see a text from her, it’s immediately the most stressful thing I’ve dealt with all week. I usually take my time to answer and then give a very bland response and she never presses or asks for more than that but I still feel so nasty while doing it because she hasn’t done anything wrong at all and it’s not fair of me to be that annoyed with her sparse attempts at connecting but I don’t want to deal with it, either.
    I would feel incredibly mean saying any of that to her outright. I’m sure she would respect it but she would most certainly be hurt and I don’t want to hurt her.

    So, after this very long explanation, my question: Do I just continue as I’ve been doing, making it not particularly rewarding for her to contact me and keeping it friendly but superficial? Should I try to privately have a conversation about the whole topic with her the next time we see each other? Anything else I’ve possibly not been thinking about at all so far?

    1. Asenath*

      I’d continue being kind but superficial, and work on reminding yourself that the texts are from her, the woman you like and don’t want to hurt, and not from your father, to help you get over your bad nerves when you see them. I’m basing this on nothing more than my own personal experiences wanting to keep in touch with people I don’t (for other reasons) want closer contact with. It’s possible to keep a relationship going without it developing much (at least for a while), and although it’s more likely than a closer relationship to just wither away slowly, it sounds like, as much as you like her, that outcome wouldn’t distress you much.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, that’s what I’d been leaning towards as well. Thank you for articulating some of the thoughts I’d been having as well so clearly!

        1. Joan Rivers*

          What I’ve heard before, from therapists, is, “What does that little girl you used to be feel about this?” If you wanted to deal w/it you could go there, pick an age you think is relevant, and ask her.
          But that’s therapy work and if you don’t want to you don’t have to. I’m neutral about you feeling neutral about him.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      With the caveat that I know this is a thousand times easier to say than to do — I think I personally would block her texts and just call it a day. If she brought it up during one of those twice a year lunches, “Oh, huh, sorry, must’ve missed that, I’ve been busy shaving my goldfish” or whatever. But you aren’t particularly fussed what she or your father think of you, and getting her messages stress you out, so — stop getting her messages.

      I did functionally this with my housemate’s girlfriend – when they first started dating, I’d friended her on Facebook, and then over the next couple months concluded that I really don’t like her at all, in part because she sent me some really weird messages, but also we just have amazingly incompatible personalities. So I unfriended and blocked her, and for the most part I ignore her when she comes over to spend time with him. (And he helpfully keeps her down in his basement and out of my way.) I don’t know if she ever said anything to him about it, but she’s never said anything to ME about it, so as far as I’m concerned it’s worked fine.

    3. Lady Whistledown*

      Me! Me! Pick Me!

      Cheeky opener aside, I know the exact feeling you’re describing. That gut twisting, the emotionally roiling, the anger followed by guilty confusion.

      For me, it’s my husband’s Dad. This guy had enough money to buy a boat, drive to Florida to pick it up, realize his car couldn’t tow it, *buy a new car* and drive back, but didn’t have a penny for his son’s after school activities, hobbies, or college. Cheated on his mom constantly, up to and including taking my husband *to their houses* for his visits and leaving him in the car to wait for him to finish.

      He complains to his mom (Grandma) that they’re not close and my husband doesn’t call enough. So we get lectures on how he’s a good dad even though he didn’t go to my husband’s sporting events often enough. Um, what?!?

      Cue the girlfriend (former mistress) who, dang it, is perfectly polite and friendly and thoughtful, especially to our son. She reaches out to to me for information and updates and it feels like I can’t be the jerk who doesn’t reply. It has taken years of research into dysfunctional families plus a good chunk of therapy but I finally had an epiphany that you don’t actually need a GoodEnoughReason(TM) for not wanting to interact with people who cause you pain. Literally no one can be at fault and it’s still ok to pull back! So, I blocked her. I know that sounds extreme but I refused to be a conduit for anyone to keep hurting my husband. If she’s collateral damage, then that’s sad but there’s no glory in setting yourself on fire to keep harmful people warm.

      We don’t intend to see them in person again, but if we do, I have practiced my own speech that it just wasn’t working for me anymore plus subject change. If they keep pressing the matter, repeat and subject change. If they won’t drop it, it’s time to leave.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this and I hope others are able to share their experience as well. It’s a tough (and largely invisible!) struggle.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It grabs me, OP, that you don’t want to hurt her and in the process of doing so you are putting yourself through some real hoops.

        I love the expression I see here sometimes, “Don’t set yourself on fire so others can stay warm.”

        Perhaps you can work around to being able to say, “Jane, you are truly a lovely person and I have enjoyed meeting you. However, my relationship with my father is what you see and I have very little desire to change things. I am satisfied with how things are now with me and my father and I’d prefer to maintain that status quo.”

        Notice no justifying, no explanations just, “This is where things are at and where they will stay.” You don’t need to do a longer conversation because you have decided this is how you will handle things with your father.

        Sometimes nice people have to have learning experiences also. I have seen nice GFs push their SO back into a relationship and it did not go well. Okay, it was a meltdown. Nice people can make bad calls. It happens. Remember if she was a mean person you would not be typing here- you would just be able to walk away.

        1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

          Some people cannot help themselves from getting involved in other family members’ relationships and trying to “fix” issues that they don’t truly understand and that aren’t any of their business. Often those people think they’re Nice and doing the Right Thing, but their meddling just makes things worse.
          My mother is notorious for it. Thought it’d be Nice for my uncle to mend fences with my grandmother before she died so she guilted him into going to see her. Undid years of his therapy, destroyed his trust in her and completely destroyed their own relationship. You think she’d learn, but no. Just born to meddle.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            that was my ex-SIL too. I had a great relationship with my brother until she came along. Then he stopped coming to see me, and started having weird overreactions to things. She would make him call me and “chat”, except I hate telephone conversations and so does he, so it was excruciating.

    4. zaracat*

      I’ll start off by saying that I don’t think there’s an objectively “right” answer to this. But if people offer several different opinions, maybe one will feel more right then others.

      My opinion – I think your instinct is right that Maria will feel hurt if you try to explain more, and that keeping things friendly but superficial is the way to go. I am also estranged from my father, and one thing I’ve noticed is that I find it difficult to be friends with his friends, despite shared interests, because their experience of him is so different from mine. It sounds like Maria could have been a great friend if you’d met under other circumstances, but the truth is that people can be individually really nice but still make each other miserable.

    5. allathian*

      It’s true that she’s done nothing wrong to you, but it’s perfectly understandable that you aren’t interested in a closer relationship with her, for the simple reason that she has what it sounds like you never had, your father’s affection. Does it sound like that could be the reason why her texts are so painful for you? If she’s truly as empathetic as you make it sound like, she would probably be mortified to learn that her messages hurt you. But she can’t know that unless you tell her.

      1. Myrin*

        Does it sound like that could be the reason why her texts are so painful for you?

        Definitely not.
        I fear I might not’ve expressed myself clearly on that point (I wrote that whole comment in one sitting and only skimmed over it once afterwards) but I don’t feel hurt by her texts at all, just annoyed in the sense of “Gosh, can’t things just stay the way that they are?”.
        I honestly don’t care for my father’s affection (I know that sounds like denial but it’s simply true. I don’t… feel particularly strongly, just in general – my sister often jokes that I’m an emotional ice block and honestly she isn’t wrong a lot of the time) but I can see how it could look like my reactions might come from that!

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          Given what you say, if it were me, I would block her or send all her texts to a folder and then only look at them when I was ready to. Like once every few months. Then I could control when I see them and not be surprised/annoyed, respond if I wanted to (oh, just saw this for some reason, yada yada), or continue to ignore if I wanted to.

          In case she ever said anything directly, I also think I would practice a response like, “Thanks for reaching out all the time, I find I don’t really want to connect that much, I am happy with things the way they are, like lunches a couple of times a year. Can we let things stay like that?”

          Best to you in navigating all this!

          1. Wishing You Well*

            I think this is perfect for this situation. Don’t allow her texts to hit you at random.
            Maybe she’s truly nice; maybe she’s a cat’s paw for your dad. Either way, she’s harming you.
            Any explaining you might do will be told to your father. Don’t explain. That would just invite more contact. Her first loyalty is to your father. Do what you need to do for you.
            Internet hugs, if you want them.

        2. allathian*

          Thanks for clarifying, although I’m a bit puzzled as to why you’re worried about hurting her by telling her that her texts are unwelcome?

          I think the simplest thing to do would be to block her texts without telling her about it. If she says something directly, you could say something like Chilipepper Attitude suggests below: “I’m happy with things the way they are, like lunches a couple of times a year. Can we let things stay like that?” I wouldn’t thank her for reaching out, though, because you’d really prefer her not to.

    6. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Urgh, the guilt trip is real when someone’s being so kind and eager to establish a relationship with you. She’s lovely so it probably feels really unfair to tar her with the same brush as your father, but the fact is they come as a package deal and you’re allowed to nope on out guilt-free when you don’t want the strings attached.

      If you’re on iOS, you can hide alerts for her messages? They’ll still show as a new message in your list, but at least you won’t get the notification intruding into your day and causing you stress.

    7. Bobina*

      I’m on team have a private conversation with her. It doesnt need to be super deep, but a light: “I know you mean well, and you’re a perfectly lovely person, but I’d rather you didnt keep in touch with me because as you know, I dont have a good relationship with my Dad and this is more stress than I need” might be worth it – for your peace of mind and hers.

      Maybe because she has a better relationship with your sister she wants to make sure you arent feeling left out or also wants to cultivate one with you, and I’m a big fan of whenever possible, trying to use your words to communicate if you can.

    8. Sandi*

      Maria may be lovely but she’s far from perfect. She is in a relationship with someone who hurt you badly, and doesn’t acknowledge it. My asshole father is in a relationship with someone quite nice, except that she once got upset that I don’t spend more time with my father. I see him at occasional family gatherings but otherwise avoid him because I’m tired of his constant attempts to be controlling. And when she was critical of me I realized that she’s as much part of the problem. It is different if you work for an asshole and say to your employees “I know he’s a jerk but it’s a good paycheck and I will keep you, the people on my team, at a distance from our big boss.” It feels very different when it is a parent. She isn’t acknowledging the problem and even if she did I don’t know if there is a good way other than to say that she welcomes your messages but will leave you alone otherwise.

      She is trying to make up for your father’s faults, and there is no reason that you need to be ok with that.

    9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Do you know why exactly this is so stressful? Do you feel guilty, or like there is no way to get this right, or imposed on, or what? Maybe if you knew what was wrong it’d be easier to fix.

      A bit of light texting a handful of times a year actually sounds like a sensible relationship level to have with your semi-estranged dad’s nice girlfriend. Except for the whole “stresses Myrin out” bit, of course.

      If it helps, I’d bet a lot of her desire to be friendly with you is out of a feeling of responsibility as your dad’s girlfriend rather than deep desire for an actual relationship. Maybe she’d be delighted to be actual friends, but she’s probably ok keeping things cordial but distant.

      1. Myrin*

        This is… a truly fantastic comment. (To be expected of Elspeth McGillicuddy – I’ve always been thinking that of all the obscure pseudonyms on this site, there’s finally one I recognise!)

        You are completely right with your second paragraph and I actually feel the same way, which is why my annoyance doesn’t make sense to me. And that’s what it is, annoyance – I think I erred a bit in calling it “stressful”, even though it’s not 100% wrong; I’d like to think of myself as being fluent in English but it’s still my second language and I’ve found that especially expressions around emotions can be a bit hard to get right.

        I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes pondering your question (and semi-replacing “stressful” with “annoying”) and I’m pretty sure I got it: her texts feel to me like she doesn’t quite grasp the relationship I have with my father and wants to force something that isn’t there.
        Logically, I think I’m only half right in that; I feel like if she genuinely didn’t get it at all, she’d try to contact me much more often, so she must realise on some level that that’s not what we’re doing. But as it is, my mental reaction is always “Why? Why do you keep reaching out when I never do? Why do I have to have the same bland conversation every time you text me? Why don’t you UNDERSTAND?”. Which is also a bit unfair of me since I’ve never actually told her any of that but it’s the automatic reaction that happens inside my head.

        And you know what? I reckon you’re right with your last paragraph. I knew that in my head but somehow seeing it spelt out by a stranger makes it more real.

        Truly, a heartfelt Thank You for this comment, I really mean that. You’ve given me a lot to think about and helped me a great deal in getting the thoughts swirling in my head in order.

        1. sequined histories*

          Just to add on: lots of people who have an estranged or semi-estranged parent have a story to tell about a spouse or partner who actively impedes or obstructs access to the parent. She may be contacting you occasionally in part to signal that she’s a benign actor and not someone who’s going to create problems in the unlikely event that you do decide you want a closer relationship with him.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Oh good, I’m glad that helped, I was afraid I was being too harsh.

          Something else to consider-your poor relationship with your father doesn’t preclude, automatically, being friends with his girlfriend. There is no requirement for friendship either, of course, but if you did want to be closer you could do that too, and it wouldn’t mean you also have to be friends with your dad. For instance, my grandmother kept up a correspondence and friendship with her ex-mother-in-law for years after the divorce, until her ex-mother-in-law’s death. Your relationship with Maria is a separate relationship than that with your father. And that also means that when Maria wants to be cordial with you, she’s not necessarily asking you to make up with your father. (Some women would be, but that doesn’t sound like how you’ve described her.) She’s just asking you for herself, and you can take it or leave it how you want.

          1. Seconding*

            This. Now that they’ve been divorced for over a decade, I’m good friends with my father’s second wife. She is no longer encouraging me to contact him. We couldn’t really be friends until she could let that go. I’m glad she could, she’s pretty terrific.

    10. Memories*

      I am equating this to how I managed my relationships with/felt about the girlfriends of an ex-friend. CW: Narcissism

      Once the scales dropped from my eyes and I realized he was a narcissist (ironically, just as he severed all ties with me in both a textbook and drama tropey way, when I refused to do something for him and I was therefore no longer of any use to him, apparently negating years of what I thought was actual friendship)—I kept a healthy double step back from his girlfriends that were also in my sphere in some way or other. Work colleague? Polite but distant. Person who seems absolutely lovely? Not available.

      Because to me, however decent these people were, they were also contaminated with him much the way I was. Not only did I not want to be anywhere near him, but they wouldn’t believe me if I told them who he really was. Narcissists are experts at appearing like real and charming people instead of the hollow shells they are. I wouldn’t have believed it at the time because he was that good at it.

      So afterward, I told myself that when the time came for him to do his kick-out-and-move-on, or they kicked free of their own accord, then I could reach out or otherwise accept them into my sphere if I wanted to.

      All this to say that genuinely nice people are everywhere, but it doesn’t always mean they have to be in your everywhere at all times and phases.

    11. Myrin*

      Guys, thank you all SO MUCH for your incredible, varied, and nuanced answers! You’ve all given me some food for thought as well as encouragement and a few reality checks, and I’ll definitely be coming back to this thread in the future if I’m not seeing clearly. Again, thank you!

      1. Sandi*

        My comment wasn’t posted so I’ll add a short version here:
        She isn’t fundamentally nice if she doesn’t understand how difficult the relationship is between you and your father.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Well, we don’t know that she doesn’t. She may get it but still think Myrin is lovely and want to maintain a cordial relationship. And she can’t possibly know what’s going on in Myrin’s head if they haven’t talked about it.

    12. Not A Manager*

      If her messages stress you out, that’s sufficient reason to protect yourself from them. You don’t need a “good reason” for the stress, and you don’t need to talk yourself out of your actual response.

      I’m not sure how texting works, but in email you can send someone’s mail to a special folder that you only check when you choose to. If there’s a way to not get the notifications for her texts but still preserve them, then you could check them when you feel up to it, say every few months, and if you want to respond blandly to an old text (“sorry, didn’t see this when it came in!”) you can do that. Or you can block her even if that means not ever getting those texts, and just apologize if she asks about it (“gosh, those texts never made it through!”).

      The other option is to give her a brief heads-up. I know you’re concerned about it starting drama, but I wonder if you can signal without giving a lot of details. What if you took a reallllllllllly long time to respond to her next text, and then say something like, “sorry, I’m just so bad about texting maybe it’s better just to chat when we see each other in person.” You probably won’t need to say it twice, but if she keeps texting I’d just do it again. Wait for a long time, then say, “there I go again! Look forward to chatting next time I see you!” Don’t respond to the substance of the text at all. They’ll probably dry up.

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      Big emotional conversations are for people you’re close with and want to stay that way, so don’t go this route. Can you mute her texts? That way you still receive them, but there’s no sound or pop-up when they arrive so you only check them when you’re prepared to do so (and you still don’t have to respond).

      Keep in mind she knows how often they see you, and has heard some version of why from your dad. She’s not going to be shocked or confused that you two aren’t close, so as long as she’s not pushing to “fix” the family I’d focus on managing your own side of things in a way that’s right for you.

    14. Esmeralda*

      Well, either you are going to hurt or she is. There’s no way around it.

      And also, you’re not saying you don’t like HER. You’re saying, because of your dad, hearing from her is painful.

      You need to take care of yourself. It’s your dad’s fault that you can’t get nice messages from a lovely caring person. (And maybe I am too mean, but I would wonder, why is she with such a terrible person)

    15. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My family’s version of dysfunction… Dad’s side is messed up. Nothing really terrible, but nothing dad ever did was good enough, and it also stuck to the next generation a bit. One of my cousins got married to a very nice woman for whom family is very important. She really tried to pull my sister and I back into the family fold. Nothing truly objectionable, but she was coming from a viewpoint of “family matters no matter what”, while my sister and I are coming from the view of “this family is messed up, we will take the brunt of it if we engage, and we opt out”.

      I think with time she has come to understand why we have opted out, at least some. She’s backed off. The lack of interest from us has helped.

    16. Zinnia*

      I encourage you to block her texts. When you set boundaries to protect yourself, it is not your responsibility to manage the feelings of other people.

      If her feelings are hurt she will cope. You are not obligated to accept unwanted contact because you think she is well-intentioned.

  17. RRR*

    I am now regularly wearing a N95 mask (now widely available) and on top of that, a cloth mask.

    The problem is, my nose has become scraped and raw and has a scab. I would like for it to heal, but I also want to prevent further damage and this happening again.

    I am very bad at masking, so I get some help in the morning putting the masks on tightly and then they are on all day – roughly around 9 hours. I can’t take breaks because if I do, I wouldn’t be able to properly reaffix the masks. As it is, they don’t always stay in place as much/as tightly as I would really like.

    I’m sure there are people who have dealt with this before. Recommendations? Not wearing masks is not an option and for the immediate future, this is my reality.

    My nose is the one feature of my body that I like so I’d really like to heal and preserve it the best that I can.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Bandaid while it heals? Ideally you’d be able to go without anything for a few days to let it heal, but I understand that may not be possible. But getting it to heal is the first step, prevention is the second.

    2. Pickled Limes*

      For now, I agree with using an adhesive bandage under your masks while the scab heals. After that, to prevent it from happening again, I have two suggestions.

      The first is a blister prevention stick. You can get them in the first aid section of the grocery store/pharmacy/Target/wherever you generally shop. They’re designed to keep your shoes from giving you blisters, but I’ve been putting it on my nose before I put my mask on in the morning and it really does reduce the amount of friction and discomfort that comes from having a mask on all day.

      The second is Vaseline. When you take your mask off for the day, rub Vaseline on your nose. It’s a lot thicker than typical face moisturizing cream and it helps to heal cuts and scrapes faster than just about anything else I’ve tried. You may want to reapply it from time to time during your non-mask hours to make sure your skin is properly moisturized, just like you would with a lip balm.

    3. the cat's ass*

      I’ve been using a cloth mask with very a soft cotton lining and and n95 filter between the layers, because i had the same problem with the paper masks-they killed my skin and i had an open sore on my nose. they have beads to adjust the mask elastic on the sides and i’ve found them to be the easiest masks to wear despite getting tangled with my hearing aids, and my eyeglasses when i take them of to have lunch or a sip of water.( I’m completely forgoing earrings for the time being). Bacitracin ointment and leaving it open to air when i was at home and the switch over to the hybrid mask really helped. I got them on Etsy, and it was $ well spent. Hope that helps!

    4. slickyglizard*

      To prevent skin damage under your mask, try using kinesiology tape (athletic tape)–brands: Kinesio tape, KT tape, also generics–wherever the mask has been wearing down your skin. Any kind of medical tape would probably also help, especially the kinds for sensitive skin.

    5. Might Be Spam*

      If bandaid placement is awkward, use a liquid bandage. It’s clear and not very noticeable when you take off the mask.
      Small bottles of liquid bandage/liquid skin last for years and you only need a tiny amount.

    6. Mstr*

      Is it at all possible to reduce your use of masks … by changing your working conditions … or can you ask to be accommodated by having assistance in taking your mask off for lunch/water at least?

      Have you tried taping the mask down to avoid the friction of it slipping around?

    7. The teapots are on fire*

      What if you change brands of mask for a while? 3M makes one with a foam bridge that is a pretty soft mask, very different from the firm kind and may hit a different part of your nose. If you can get enough to wear daily, I’d also dispense with the cloth mask as it may just interfere with the electrostatic quality of the N95 that is part of its function.

    8. zaracat*

      I had this problem when I had to wear N95 masks at work in healthcare. The recommendations we were given was to use a narrow strip of a hydrocolloid dressing such as Duoderm on the bridge of your nose where the pressure area is – this can be left in place for several days until the skin heals, and then use as necessary. Not cheap, but you’ll get multiple strips from one dressing. Be cautious with using tape or bandaids on your face as the adhesives in many of these can cause contact allergies or are too strong and will cause more damage when you try to remove them.

      It’s also important to find which brand and size of N95 mask fits you best, as then you won’t have to have it excruciatingly tight to get a seal. 3M Aura is highly recommended to try, if you can get it.

    9. Lichenillium*

      Yikes. You should see a healthcare provider if you have a injury like this! This is not something to crowdsource on line. A LOT of the advice replying to your question is dangerous and could result in even more damage. It concerns me that this site continues to permit medical advice from laypersons.

      This may actually be a pressure injury. These do not always heal easily. You could end up with permanent scarring and/or hyperpigmentation. You need to work with a healthcare professional to both determine if this level of masking is necessary and, if so, how to heal and then prevent damage.

      Those of us who wear them for work have lots of tricks for *preventing* this – so sounds like this is your preference versus a professional requirement.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This site does not permit requests for medical advice (it’s explicitly in the commenting rules), but this doesn’t read like a request for medical advice to me.

        Also in the commenting rules:

        Know that I do not read and approve every single comment. The volume is far too high. So if you see a comment that seems problematic, please don’t do this: “I can’t believe this comment is allowed! Why has Alison approved this?!” Instead, assume I haven’t seen it and feel free to flag it and I’ll take a look (to do that, just include a link in your comment and it’ll go to moderation so I’ll see it).

    10. Bucky Barnes*

      I put a diaper rash ointment like Desitin on my face before wearing a mask. It lessens my skin irritation but please note I don’t wear an N95 or have the kind of irritation you do. It may help with general irritation though,

    11. HannahS*

      Is it properly fitted to you and fit tested? If you’re wearing the wrong size, that could mean that instead of sitting flush against your face, it’s moving throughout the day and rubbing, like a shoe that’s slightly too big instead of one that fits snugly.

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I remember from the very beginning of the covid mess hearing that it was a pressure wound, which needs different treatment to heal/prevent. So look into that.

  18. Lifelong student*

    Question for crossword puzzle people-

    For a very long time, I have been doing the daily crossword puzzle from the Wall Street Journal. It has always been available without a subscription- and still is. However, for the past 10 days or so, in many squares, when I enter a letter , then move onward to the next square, the letter disappears. It doesn’t happen in all squares. This means I can’t complete words. Does anyone know if there have been changes in the puzzle availability, if there is a setting I can change, or if this is an issue with my browser? I can’t get an answer from WSJ since I don’t have an account with them. I also do the Washington Post puzzles on line- have not problem with them- but I do have a digital WaPo subscription.

    1. Jay*

      I do their Acrostic and really don’t like the interface. I can’t explain that, but I can offer an alternative! To avoid sending this into moderation with a link….do a search for the Crossword Fiend blog and click on “today’s puzzles.” They have the WSJ puzzles as .puz links which you can download and solve at your convenience using Across Lite software, which is free and easy to use.

      1. Meh*

        Ugh! Dang thread keeps updating.

        The app has several crosswords a day from various publications (including answers). Maybe the main reason I wouldn’t switch to ios…

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Always first thing to try when the internet goes wonky-have you tried resetting your cookies?

  19. Destruida y cansada*

    I’d like to ask a question about boundaries and personal relationships.
    This relates to the death from alcoholism 2 days ago of my ex-partner, so I’ll put the question in the replies in case you want to just skip right over it.

    1. Destruida y cansada*

      Tl;dr: is it acceptable social etiquette to text somebody your condolences when you don’t want to speak to them on the phone because they have no boundaries and you’re dealing with your own grief?

      As I said my ex-partner died approximately 2 days ago from alcoholism. We stop dating about 7 years ago but we kept in touch until his drinking became too difficult and I stopped contact altogether.
      I knew that he was very unwell and getting worse over the years because we have a mutual friend and she would occasionally let me know.
      It’s been devastating and traumatic to discover the circumstances in which he died.
      One of the other reasons that we split up was because of his family. I found boundaries with them, esp his mother, extremely difficult, so when I stopped contact with him I stopped contact with his mom too.
      He did not deal with the no contact very well and would send me some quite nasty messages so in the end I had to change my number and block him from social media although he did still manage to get around that and apparently was reading my social media without my knowledge until I made that private.
      His mother has now asked our mutual friend why I haven’t contacted her? To be honest she’s not dealing with this well which is understandable but a large part of me also wants to keep myself safe from her as well.
      I’ve just sent a text saying that I cannot talk on the phone but I express my feelings that I still loved him and that I was thinking of them all. I guess what I’m asking is whether this is an acceptable way to send condolences?
      To give you an example: even though I did say I’m no good on the phone, as soon as I sent that text she rang me. The call has gone to voicemail.
      I’m really not sure how to navigate this while still dealing with my own grief and maintaining my own boundaries, and still be kind to a mother who’s just lost her son.
      Do you have any advice?

      1. Ana*

        I think you have done your best and don’t need to do anymore. Block the mother. Take care of yourself. *hugs from an Internet stranger (if you want them)*

      2. Asenath*

        I don’t think I’d have used text – a written note or card is impeccably formal and correct, and doesn’t encourage an immediate response in the same way a text or phone call would. Which sounds a little harsh, maybe, but sometimes formality is helpful in conveying sympathy without getting too involved, It would be different of course, if you had a different relationship, or any relationship, with your ex’s mother. I have no objection to allowing calls to go to voicemail, especially when you’re not in a state to handle the call. I did it myself once after a death, when I knew (because I’d been told to expect it) the call was from a relative organizing a small get-together after a family funeral with those of my relatives I least wanted to see right at that moment. I don’t think there was much pushback – maybe a comment a few days later that it was too bad they couldn’t reach me, and I said something non-committal like “MMM” and the conversation moved on.

        I am sorry for your loss.

      3. allathian*

        Block the mother. You broke up with her son 7 years ago! It sounds like you never really moved on from that relationship, given that you’re mourning his death. Sounds like the mother wanted you two back together or something. But now that your ex is dead, you can tell his mother that you never want to hear from her again. She’ll probably think you’re a cold *****, but if your goal is to get her out of your life, I could think of worse options. And while you’re at it, tell your mutual friend that you don’t want to hear what’s going on in your ex’s family anymore.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          hmm. If people die in unusual/harsh circumstances that can stand alone as a reason to grieve their passing.
          We don’t have to have feelings or residual stuff to feel badly about how someone passed or that they passed. Eh, sometimes we can just grieve the fact that they never pulled their lives together or never had a real shot at living life.

          1. Destruida y cansada*

            This is exactly it, NSNR. It’s just tragically sad. What a waste of a life. But he wouldn’t be helped! I’m grieving for the pain he must have been in – physical and mental – during his life, and I’m grieving for the loss of him as a person.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Saying this almost through tears because had my own version: No life is ever wasted. Just because we don’t see the purpose is not the same as saying there was no purpose. We just don’t see the purpose ourselves that is all. And that is kind of a humbling thought, really.

              I am very sorry for his pain and for yours.

              1. Princess Deviant*

                That’s very beautiful. Thank you for saying this; it makes sense to me and gives me a small bit of peace.

          2. allathian*

            Yes, agreed. Destruida y cansada, I’d like to apologize for the harsh tone of my post above. I’m sorry for your loss and I hope you can mourn for him in your own way.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This sounds like a great excuse to fall back on traditional etiquette and send a sympathy card. (And because she’s already boundary challenged, know that etiquette does not require a return address. No charity donation, no flowers, so she does not need to reply.)

        1. Destruida y cansada*

          I did send a card when it happened, and I wish I had just left it at that! Thank you.

      5. RagingADHD*

        If you had asked before sending a text, I’d say don’t worry about texting because it will invite a return text or call, which you don’t want.

        I’d recommend a snail-mail note or card because it is more distant, and they can’t reply back right away, but also traditional and polite.

        But since it’s already sent, you’re fine. Dont worry about it. Text isn’t ideal, but under the circumstances there’s nothing wrong with it.

      6. Come On Eileen*

        Would you be open to send her a card and some flowers? You can say what you want to say in the card , she knows you’re thinking of her, and leave it at that. A nice way to express condolences with no voice or face contact.

      7. HannahS*

        It’s too late now–and I totally get that this didn’t occur to you–but I think a good solution would have been to send or drop off a condolence card, because then there’s no phone number and no address if you drop it off. It could look something like this (offering the script in case you want to send one but I think at this point you can just hold your boundary):
        Dear [mom and family],
        I wanted to write to let you know how sorry I was to hear about [ex-partner]. I loved him and really valued our time together. I’m thinking of you all in this difficult time and wishing you comfort.
        Best,
        Destruida y cansada
        ______

    2. Destruida y cansada*

      Thank you! I appreciate all your responses and the internet hug Ana :)
      On reflection I think I shouldn’t have texted, although I have also sent a card which won’t have arrived yet.
      I’m not going to respond further to the mom.
      I’ve asked Alison to remove this post because I think it’s very personal and maybe I shouldn’t have written it. Thanks again.

      1. ten four*

        I think it was fine to text, and I think it was lovely to send a card. I would definitely block the mom going forward. I’m sorry for your loss.

    3. Destruida y cansada*

      Thanks all. I have accidentally used my other name here, which I didn’t mean to, so it’s less anonymous but that is ok. I appreciate your thoughts. Obviously I have my own boundary issues to deal with, but I am getting better at holding them.
      I also feel a bit calmer today, possibly because the shock is wearing off and I can see a bit more clearly now my place in all of this and – without meaning to sound cruel – I don’t feel that I need to be dragged into the centre of all the drama with his family and my friend.

      1. allathian*

        It’s absolutely fine to protect your boundaries here. A big part of that is to realize that you neither sound nor are cruel to anyone when you say that you don’t want to be dragged into all the drama. I’m glad you’re feeling calmer.

  20. DressS Shopper*

    Those who have purchased eshakti dresses: I am looking at a navy knit dress. How heavy are the knits? (It will be fairly warm outside where I want to wear this, but the event will be inside with AC.) Do the knits look nice v cheap? Hints/tips/info welcome!

    1. RussianInTexas*

      I like their knits, but they are on a thicker side. Which makes them of good quality, but somewhat too warm for Texas summer, unless you are leaving on wearing them in a well air-conditioned office.
      Be aware that their cotton and poplin (non-knit) dresses have no stretch at all.

    2. Stitching Away*

      Depends what you mean by heavy?

      They are not so heavy that they drape weirdly, but definitely do not feel cheap. I adore their dresses, and will only get the knit ones at this point, I’ve tried other fabrics of theirs and have a strong preference for the knits. They look great, drape nicely, don’t show every little everything, etc.

      I wouldn’t call them too warm, either. I’ve gotten maxi dresses (sleeveless) from them and been comfortable outside in the summer.

      1. My Brain Is Exploding*

        Really just not inappropriately heavy for a hot fall day in Tucson where I’ll be in AC.

    3. Not Australian*

      I was *really* pleased with the quality of mine; I half-expected it to be cheap-looking and lightweight but it certainly wasn’t. Be aware that the zips can be set really tightly and maybe consider going up a size when you order. Also, they will bombard you with e-mails afterwards; not a big problem as they’re easy enough to ignore and I’m not annoyed enough to want to block them as the product is so good I am seriously thinking about going back for more.

    4. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Also….my 3 fave knit dresses ONLY come in navy. Why?? I wouldn’t mind a burgundy or eggplant. Who has tried different colors in the knits and how did you like them? In my experience sometimes with the same fabric she colors look cheap and some do not.

    5. Is it tea time yet?*

      I bought a knit dress from them to wear at the dress-up event at the end of summer music camp. It’s like a nice tee shirt knit (like tees were before that flimsy slub knit became a thing)- not heavy but knit tightly enough to hold up as a dress and not be see-through. The camp is in the southern Appalachian mountains where the evenings are usually cool, but no a/c, and there was a lot of dancing going on so everyone gets pretty warm. The dress was very comfortable for this. It washed well too. I was very pleased with the fit and style, and it doesn’t look cheap at all.

  21. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    I have been neglecting mine for the past week, as life just feels exhausting. Thankfully we can do that with gardens, as they are so much more independent than kids and pets! I was planning to spend time this weekend but there is a lot rain forecast, which is needed so I will be thankful for the water and not feel guilty for doing something indoors.

    Although I do have to collect the garlic scapes! That’s the priority.

    1. allathian*

      The wild strawberries in our garden have almost finished flowering and I’m hoping to taste the first ones in a week or two.

    2. Anonymath*

      The cucumbers are starting to be harvested and the hot peppers are finally changing color to red/orange so they can be picked. Okra was a dud so far this year, I may replant.

    3. Lizabeth*

      The bunnies or deer have eaten the tops off my dwarf sunflowers, the newly planted azeleas haven’t died, and the parsley and carrots are coming up. The day lilies I transplanted two years ago are finally blooming!

      The bunnies are now eating the ornamental grasses out front in addition to the boxwood – time for more stinky spray. It seems to work if I spray consistently.

      Living in the country has it’s challenges…

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        What stinky spray do you use? I asked about chipmunks last week and haven’t gotten anything yet, the little jerk dug up half my oxalis bulbs and gnawed the bloom off one of my hostas (and didn’t even eat it! Left it laying on the ground next to the plant! Destructive little snot.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          (Er, to clarify, I got lots of answers last week, and thanks to folks for that, but I haven’t specifically researched any of the suggestions or purchased anything yet. I don’t mean “I haven’t gotten anything yet” in terms of answers, just in terms of actual products.)

        2. Lizabeth*

          Liquid Fence Deer and Rabbit repellent – I bought a large bottle of the concentrate to mix myself because I use it that much.

    4. MinotJ*

      I pulled a tomato plant that was looking bad, and I can’t stop thinking about it! For background, I can’t even thin seedlings; it makes me too sad to kill my plants. But all my other tomatoes are big and robust and green and this one was dinky and curling and brown-spotted. So I yanked it and averted my eyes as I chucked it into the yard waste bin. I apologized to it aloud and the neighbors likely think I’m a nut.

      1. RagingADHD*

        It’s a good thing you did. That kind of stuff can be contagious to the other tomatoes.

    5. Llellayena*

      How long does it take for peppers to change colors!? I wrote last week that I have a bumper crop of lunchbox peppers that are supposed to be orange. They’ve been fully grown and dark green for over a week now! No hint of color change! Arg!

      1. Sungold*

        The small sweet peppers that I grow, Aura and Glow, are 53 days to green and 73 days to yellow or orange.

    6. Bobina*

      I’m a bit bummed, it looks like I might have let some of my grasses get too dry and it looks like they are dead? I mean, its grass so in my head they will probably come back next year (I hope) but was hoping to have some green lushness for a bit longer.

      The hosta continues to be attacked by slugs/snails. Really need to work on a better solution for that.

      But in more exciting news, the second attempt at growing heuchera from seed appears to have taken! I have some teeny tiny green leaves. Definitely curious how this plant survives in the wild because it seems so finicky trying to get it to germinate! So now lets see if they grow into anything meaningful :)

      Still waiting on some Begonia flowers, but the plants continue in their lushness. The cheap wildflower seeds are doing something, but nowehere near what I expected, so slightly disappointed. Next up is waiting for the crocosmias to flower!

      1. MissB*

        For the slugs, hit them with slug bait like sluggo in the fall, because that’s when they reproduce. In early spring before the hostas break the surface of the soil make sure you bait the area again.

      2. allathian*

        Grasses will usually recover well. I’m far enough north that we get snow every winter and the grass dies off. Some summers, maybe once every ten years or so, it’s dry enough that while there’s no official water rationing, most people let their grass die from drought. When it starts raining again, the grass will sprout again.

    7. Valancy Snaith*

      Question for gardeners! I have a number of tomato plants, all of which are doing well, but my Sweet Millions is getting very yellow at the bottom. I know this is usually a water issue, but we’re looking at a very soggy week here. Should I move it to somewhere the soil can dry out a bit? It’s in a pot. My other tomato plants are all thriving like crazy.

      1. Venus*

        Often people kill plants by overwatering because the water drowns / kills the roots and therefore the plant can’t absorb water and therefore it looks dry and it gets more water…
        It is hard to know what is happening with your plant, but if it is watered well then I would ensure it can drain properly.

    8. DistantAudacity*

      I just installed a solar powered self-watering system for my balcony! I’ve set it to drip for 15 mins every 24hrs.

      It was very easy to put in place, and requires no “connections” – no power cable, and no water tap (just a water container). The little water pump works perfectly well, and is quiet. The solar power works to charge the rechargeable batteries, not drive the water pump directly.

      The system is a Gardena Aquabloom, if anyone’s interested.

    9. Not Australian*

      Just about to harvest my first-ever crop of patio potatoes, which will be quite an adventure! Our garden’s in transition, so container plants are all I can manage at the moment, and I’m on a learning curve when it comes to growing veg – but the plants look really healthy and tomorrow, if the weather is suitable, we’ll be lifting the first ‘crop’.

    10. Not Australian*

      Just about to harvest my first-ever crop of patio potatoes, which will be quite an adventure! Our garden’s in transition, so container plants are all I can manage at the moment, and I’m on a learning curve when it comes to growing veg – but the plants look really healthy and tomorrow, if the weather is suitable, we’ll be lifting the first few.

    11. MissB*

      My tomato, squash and pepper plants are huge this year. Not a lot of spring rain plus unseasonably warm temperatures has resulted in strong growth. I’m out there bright and early to water.

      I checked my garlic this morning and it needs a few weeks still. Maybe less in this heat. But I’m not watering it daily now.

      I think I’ll be drowning in zucchini soon.

    12. Might Be Spam*

      As an experiment, I saved my green pepper plants from last year and they are having trouble with adapting to being outside again. They are finally growing new leaves and only one died.

      An iris got knocked over and broke off at ground level several weeks ago. I like the leaves so I stuck it in a glass of water and basically forgot about it. Well, I just looked at it and it is growing thick healthy roots. It’s going to be raining a lot this week so I’ll plant it back in the garden and hope for the best. The roots were a surprise because they have corms. Now I know how the corms start.

  22. LifeBeforeCorona*

    Saturday morning and it’s pouring rain for the day. My plans were to hit all the yard sales. Now I have no excuse not to clean. :( What is the weather like you where you are?

    1. Jay*

      We’ve had a few days of absolutely gorgeous spring weather – warm days, cool evenings, low humidity. Now it’s 8:45 AM, the temperature has exceeded Thursday’s high, and the humidity is back. Expecting thunderstorms later on and hope they hold off because we want to go kayaking!

    2. MinotJ*

      As opposite as possible! For an area that rarely gets above 90 in the summer, we’re about to have a weekend of 110+ heat. I got up super early to open the entire house and cool it down as much as possible before I close it up for the day and go to work. The entire west coast of the US would enjoy your weather so much right now.

      Sorry about the cleaning, though. Maybe you could accidentally fall asleep and nap through the cleaning hours?

      1. ronda*

        me too. record breaking heat. my relatives out of state are calling to check on me cause it is making national news :). only forecasted for 103 today… Sunday and Monday are 111 and 113 in forecast.

        And the bright bright sun is waking me up way too early.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      Grey, raining, humid, hot. :( I haven’t decided what I’ll do since I can’t go outside enjoy the sun.

    4. Generic Name*

      Yeah, supposed to rain all weekend here too. My husband is working on a side-job building a friend’s deck, and I have another friend coming over for a puppy play date. Both activities will come to an end when the rain starts, so we’re trying to take advantage of the clear weather while it lasts. Son and I might go to the indoor pool at some point.

    5. Nessun*

      This week is supposed to be a scorcher the likes of which we haven’t seen in 70 years. I’m not a fan of heat, I like living North enough that 25 is hot for summer, and now its gonna be over 30C all week, hitting possibly 38 on friday – before humidity. I’m planning to enjoy a lot of quiet, slow, staying at home with a fan on all week.

      1. allathian*

        Sounds a lot like my climate, although the hottest temperature ever recorded here was around 37 C…

    6. Tris Prior*

      Well, we just emerged from the basement after the second TAKE COVER NOW! tornado warning in a week….
      This is not normal for where I am (city of Chicago near the lakefront).

      (We are fine. But the backyard is underwater and I don’t have high hopes for the garden.)

      Supposedly we’ll have 4 inches of rain before this is all over? We had been in a drought, but, well, this is a bit much.

        1. Tris Prior*

          It actually drained off pretty quickly except in the street because our street sewers are crap. Garden seems fine, I applied eggshells and calcium-rich fertilizer to the tomatoes to hopefully stave off rot.
          Hope you are OK with no damage? Honestly, up here on the far north side, it was mostly just a LOT of rain. A little thunder. Didn’t seem violent unlike the other day.

          1. I'm A Little Teapot*

            Just lots of rain for me, and one small branch came down yesterday. I’m quite a bit south of you. All week, the worst of the storms have missed my area so I’m in pretty good shape overall. Glad you’re ok :)

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Well, I’m on my 4th pair of socks, 3rd full outfit for the day, and there were 2 sets of tornado sirens.

      Everything is fine. I just kept getting very wet.

    8. allathian*

      We’ve had a week-long heatwave with highs up to 32 C/90 F. It’s hot for us. Thankfully the last few days have been a bit cooler, with highs of merely 27 C/81 F. I’m in a climate where houses are built to keep people warm in winter. We get at least a few days of -20 C/-4 F nearly every winter and the coldest temperatures I’ve experienced are around -35 C/-31 F, not counting windchill. Central AC is pretty uncommon, although more modern single-family homes do tend to have heat pumps to assist heating in winter and for cooling in summer. We have geothermal heating, but no cooling since we have underfloor heating. I’m glad we have an AC unit on wheels for the hottest days.

  23. The Dude Abides*

    I know that shipping takes a lot longer right now for reasons, but my current predicament has me pulling my hair out.

    I ordered something from Singapore. It shipped on 5/31, and on the SingPost end, it shows arriving in the US on 6/7. Since then, nothing.

    I filed an inquiry with USPS, but without a USPS tracking number, I have no idea where my item is.

    Anyone else been through this with international shipping?

    1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Yes, I’m feeling you. Ordered something from Hong Kong in March, it was supposed to arrive in April, but it took until June for me to convince them there was legitimate problem and they’d have to re-ship. Just as well it’s not something I *need*!

    2. twocents*

      I’ve ordered some stuff from Singapore before, and my experience has been that the purchases tend to hang around in, idk, customs or something for at least a few weeks. A month is about average for it to actually get to my house from when the seller shipped it.

    3. anon24*

      I ordered something from Russia in April. The tracking stopped May 5th, when it was showing as sitting in Russia somewhere. After awhile I contacted the seller and they sent me a screenshot showing that it had in fact left for the US the 6th. Then nothing, and I more or less gave up on it until my tracking info suddenly updated that it was in New York in the middle of June and I finally got it last week. So yeah, stuff is taking forever right now.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The container shipping industry has made the news lately. One article talked about badly backlogged ports. Ships are being told to wait outside San Francisco’s Golden Gate until they have a specific dock to tie up at. US trade deficit is up because people are buying things not experiences. There have been pandemic related closures at shipping ports at the manufacturing side. And the Suez Canal Evergreen accident slowed things down as well.

    5. Queer Earthling*

      Due to my hobby I get a lot of international packages, and this is pretty typical! It’s almost absolutely stuck in customs, and there isn’t a lot to be done; I’ve found (anecdotally) that whenever I file a complaint with USPS or contact the seller, it somehow leaves customs within the week, but that’s definitely just coincidental.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        My purchase was hobby-related, and I’ve ordered from Canada before, but never across the globe. I did it in this instance because of a buyout, and the same purchase would have set me back double had I purchased stateside.

        I did file an inquiry with the USPS, but my experience has been spotty. Last time, a package took over a week to get from a local facility to my doorstep. I’d filed an inquiry, followed up with the facility near my home (who told me twice that it was out for delivery that day), and ten days after my formal inquiry, my partner has to pay $7 cash to cover the “inadequate shipping” for a 3×5 envelope.

        1. Queer Earthling*

          My hobby* means I get a lot of items from China and Russia, so I’m pretty accustomed to it. I think things tend to move when I put in an inquiry purely because like…it takes the same amount of time for me to get impatient as it takes for stuff to go through customs. It is frustrating but give it a little time, customs moves at its own pace and we mere mortals cannot know what that is. Apparently.

          *I collect Asian ball-jointed dolls, and for some reason every decent doll wigmaker that I like on Etsy is in Russia.

    6. Abby cats*

      This is common. I buy Kcare regularly, and stuff just disappears and then pops up again.

    7. Alex*

      Ugh yes. I tried to order something from the US shipped to Canada, and it took SIX WEEKS.

      I literally could have walked it there faster.

      International shipping is a mess.

    8. Mameshiba*

      Yes, you should regularly expect 6-8 weeks for international shipping in normal times, longer during covid. I live in Asia and this happens every time I order from the US/Europe.

  24. Anona*

    What is your favorite simple dinnertime recipe?

    In preparation for working in person, I’d like to add to my collection.

    Mine is the budget bytes’ Italian sausage and white bean skillet. It’s 3 ingredients, simple, and filling. You cook the sausage (crispy, if you have the time!), add the spinach to wilt, and then add some rinsed white beans. No fail, and sooooo easy!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Sketti pie! Make up about 8 ounces of spaghetti (also works fine with leftover spaghetti, just rinse it with hot water to loosen it up), toss it with two beaten eggs and about a cup and a half of shredded mozzarella (or “Italian blend”) cheese (and some herbs, if you like, I’ve also done a couple spoonfuls of pesto at this stage), dump it into a 8 or 9″ baking dish, top with more cheese, bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. You can also top it with spaghetti sauce before you bake it, but one of the folks in my household doesn’t like red sauce, so I leave it off and those of us who want it add it afters. It’s not much more effort than plain old spaghetti, but it feels a little nicer, and it accommodates those of us (*waves*) who are bad at twirling spaghetti on a fork, haha.

    2. c-*

      Eggplant bacon scramble. 1 finely chopped eggplant (not peeled), 2 eggs per person, 1 cup diced bacon. Toss eggplant, some salt, and bacon in covered pan at lowest heat. Once eggplant is soft, almost melty, toss eggs in and scramble. Delicious, healthy, and filling. You can add a bit of ground pepper or cumin or basil if you’d like.

    3. BRR*

      I like Doris greenspan’s one pan chicken. Basically chicken, potatoes, and mushrooms all cooked on one half sheet pan.

      I also find pizza is super quick and easy with the dough ahead of time. It’s so easy I usually make it as my Friday night dinner, after I’m exhausted from the week.

    4. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I steam a pile, huge pile, of veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes, leeks, mushrooms). I do 10 minutes for the potatoes, add the rest for 6 minutes more and its perfect. I add some already cooked or store bought beans or lentils and add a sauce that I made earlier. Usually a red pepper cheezy sauce or a spicy cashew mayo sauce. Easy, delicious, and endlessly variable.

    5. Now I’m hungry*

      That sounds delicious.
      Mine is two ingredients: hot Italian sausage cooked part way, then add a can of black beans (using about half the water from the can) cook til the beans are soft. Note that I do not serve this with rice, that somehow dilutes the flavor to blah.
      I’ll try adding Spinach, that could be a nice compliment.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I make something similar, but the recipe I use adds canned diced tomatoes (I use fire roasted). It’s so easy and delicious! Agree that crisping the sausage is the best.

    7. Queer Earthling*

      Dump some uncooked pasta in a casserole dish. Cover with chicken broth, top with jarred sauce & some seasoning, put in some frozen meatballs, maybe some mozzarella, bake for 40 minutes or so. Dinner for several days with only one dirty dish, and I can do something else while it’s cooking.

    8. The Dude Abides*

      Southwestern bell pepper dish. Ground beef, bell peppers, onions piled into a casserole dish and covered in shredded cheese.

    9. Ins mom*

      Pizza casserole. 3/4 lb hamburger browned. 1 and a half cups dry macaroni. 1 cup water. Small jar spaghetti sauce. Microwave 14 minutes covered, stir about half way thru. Top with mozzarella and let that melt. Fast and filling

    10. Emily Elizabeth*

      A sausage sheet pan is always our “wtf do we make for dinner” go-to. This link was our original inspo recipe, but use whatever veggies you like because all veggies are better roasted in my opinion. We use turkey kielbasa sausage and usually broccoli, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, and zucchini.

    11. Drtheliz*

      Couscous tuna salad. In bowl #1, pour your couscous, add garlic or boullion powder and cover to ~1.5x it’s height in water.

      In bowl #2, mix chopped veg (I like dried tomato, lettuce, cucumber and raw broccoli), tuna and a little bit of mayo. Once the couscous has absorbed the water, dump in and stir. Optionally, top with sesame/sunflower seeds (or parmesan).

      You can also just replace the tuna with mozzarella or hard boiled eggs (or presumably meat but I’ve not tested that).

    12. Buni*

      Boil water and throw in pasta and whatever small-chopped veg you like all together – straight from frozen is fine. When it’s all cooked drain the water and throw in a massive spoon or two of philly-style cream cheese and whatever herbs / spices you like (I’m a massive fan or smoked paprika). Done!

    13. too hot here*

      white beans -cooked or canned – feta, olives, chopped cuke, pepper, tomatoes (usually cherry/grape. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll cut them, otherwise dump from container), lemon, olive oil. take about 10 minutes if the beans are cooked or canned.

    14. Cookie D'oh*

      Salmon. Sprinkle with salt, lemon pepper, basil, oregano, garlic powder and bake at 475 degrees. I use a meat thermometer and bake until it’s 145 degrees. When it comes out of the oven, I add a little butter and squeeze of lemon.

    15. Clisby*

      Sausage and potato soup. Saute a chopped onion and a couple of cloves of chopped garlic (if you don’t like garlic, leave this out). Add a pound of whatever bulk sausage you like, and brown it. My preference is Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage, but that’s up to you. Drain off the fat. Dice up a few potatoes, add them to the pot, and add enough chicken stock to barely cover the whole mess. Cook until the potatoes are done. Add some whole milk or cream, stir well, and make sure it’s hot all the way through.

    16. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Another bean dish with no cooking and lots of flexibility. Rinsed white beans, lemon pepper tuna (or plain) from foil packet, halved grape tomatoes, black olives, yellow, orange, or red peppers cut as you like them (or use minis sliced in rings), shaved carrots, shallots or green onion if you like, toss with a little garlic vinaigrette or red pesto mixed with red wine vinegar, add shaved parmesan. Eat with crusty bread. Yum. Most of the ingredients are very optional. If you’re ambitious and it’s not miserable weather, any/all veggies can be roasted or grilled instead of raw, in which case zucchini and other summer squashes are fabulous with it.

    17. CTT*

      I am in the process of making my current favorite – sear cooked green beans in olive oil and red pepper flakes, and throw in pasta. I’m also going to add some canned tuna to mine for some extra oomf tonight.

    18. Lilo*

      There’s a washington post recipe for chicken lemon orzo I’d highly recommend. Comes together very quickly, very filling, has zucchini and tomato too. Easily adaptable to other ingredients.

  25. needsomehelp*

    Looking for recommendations of books, videos or courses(if they exist) for building confidence. Anyone have any success with this?

    1. AlabamaAnonymous*

      If you haven’t read Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy, I highly recommend it! She’s go into the psychology/neurobiology/etc. of confidence but then also has some great practical tips–including how your physical posture affects your attitude–for building confidence.

  26. Dottie*

    My partner and I are moving from Atlanta to Chicago this fall. We don’t have a lot of furniture/things so we were considering just renting a big car to put a few small boxes of clothing/books in. We also have 2 cats which I need to do more research on how to move with them. We’ll stay at a pet-friendly hotel at the halfway point. Has anyone moved this way (starting fresh essentially)? Any tips/advice?

    1. Meh*

      We did it. Have money for all the things you will need to start over. Even going slowly it adds up. Have a plan for furnishing your place. Not just what you need, but how you want it. Like a style board on pinterest. That way when you are shopping it can be with intention and not just getting the first thing that sorta works. Our place is furnished with mostly good will and Habit Restore things with a few new things sprinkled in. It helped me knowing I wanted a certain “look” so that my place didn’t end up looking like a college apartment

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you don’t already have a vehicle and don’t need to get one (which is what it sounds like?) – consider shipping your small boxes by Amtrak or mailing the books to yourself by media mail, then just flying up with the cats in carriers as carry-on luggage. When I moved from Seattle to Indiana in a Smart car, I didn’t have the cats and I did have the car, so I didn’t do the flying part, but I didn’t have a whole lot of storage space in the car so I did both media mail for books and Amtrak shipping for everything else, and it cost me under $300.

      1. tangerineRose*

        If you fly with the cats, don’t let them be put into the overhead bin. A small dog died from not having enough oxygen up there.

        If you drive with the cats, plan ahead and find motels that are cat-friendly.

    3. ten four*

      WOOO Chicago! We moved to Chicago over 10 years ago and I just love it here. I love that the city was designed to make sure everyone is in walking distance of a park, I love the public art, I love the lake and the beaches, and I love living in a place with excellent public transportation. I hope you love it too!

      Okay for actual moving advice from someone who moved A LOT before settling down: pack a bag or box of things for daily living and keep it on top.
      – 2 sets of dishes and utensils
      – dish soap, all purpose spray, dish towel, sponge, dustpan/brush
      – Shampoo, conditioner, soap, razor, lotion, toothbrush/paste, deodorant
      – Instant oatmeal, applesauce, snack bars, peanut butter, crackers, instant coffee
      – Sheets, towels, blankets, pillows
      – a few changes of clothes
      – cords, laptop, lamp
      – petfood and dishes

      Basically all the things you need to get through the first few days in an apartment without feeling like you have to dig through every box or race out to the store every other minute. If you’re moving with minimal stuff there’s probably a lot of shopping/set-up you’ll need to do, so making sure you have the “camping” basics will prevent that sinking feeling at midnight when you just want to go to bed and you realize you don’t have a pillow or that your pajamas are in some box/bag somewhere but you don’t know where and don’t want to deal with it.

      1. Heartlover1717*

        This is exactly what I was going to recommend – I always suggest this when friends are moving (I call it a “first night box”), because no matter how well you plan, you’ll be exhausted after your move and won’t feel like hunting for the “bare necessities”. I would add S&P shakers (or other seasons you regularly use), any supplements or medications you take, and TOILET PAPER (you still have some, right?).

    4. HahaLala*

      Are your cars used to their carriers? Or have they been on leashes? I haven’t done this myself, but I’ve have several friends move with cats, and they’ve all had success by working with their cats before hand. They took a few weeks of getting the cats used to the carrier/leash, and used to car rides so that the big car ride want such an ordeal.

      Also- if your cats are particularly nervous or anxious, talk to you vet about some medications for them to make them as comfortable as possible. And make sure to have their tags and microchips updated while you’re moving!

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        My vet moved cross country with her four cats and used gabapentin to help keep them calm while they were in the car

    5. ThatGirl*

      More general welcome to the Midwest advice but don’t forget to buy cold-weather clothing and good coats, boots, gloves, hats and scarves.

    6. Spessartine*

      Be careful with the hotel! I moved 5 cats across the country last year and we stayed at “pet friendly” hotels two nights. All that “pet friendly” really meant was that they allowed pets; the rooms themselves were not catproofed in any way. The second night, three of my cats managed to get under the box springs and into the base of the bed. The thin fabric underlayer of the box springs had been ripped up, probably by previous cat visitors, and one of my cats somehow managed to get his head stuck in a hole in the fabric and in his panic had twisted himself all up in it. THANK GOD he was all right and did not strangle himself, but it was truly terrifying to discover. We had to completely remove the mattress and box springs from the base to get them all out. I told the person at the front desk that they shouldn’t give that room to pet owners again, but who knows if they made a note. I sincerely hope I never have to move that far again, but if I did, I would probably just shut the cats in the bathroom the whole time.

      I also probably would not drug all the cats for the drive again. None of our cats are good with car trips, so we got sedatives from our vet, which worked almost too well. I had a moment of panic when our smallest girl went *very* limp shortly after giving her the pill and for a second I thought she’d stopped breathing. Fortunately she recovered before I could get my phone out to search for emergency vets, but it was Not Fun for either of us. None of the others had such drastic reactions, but in retrospect I think most of them (including her) would have dealt with it okay without the drugs.

    7. ronda*

      I moved with just the stuff I could fit in my car.

      I was able to get a bed delivered on the day I was able to move to the apartment from one of those mattress stores.
      I got some living room furniture from an Ashely store and that took about 8 weeks to deliver. I think it is normally about 6 weeks, but you know … pandemic. It had been so long since I bought furniture that surprised me. I just got around to buying a dining room table, and went to a different local furniture store and they had stuff in stock and delivered the next day. I think you could also rent some furniture until you pick out what you want to buy. (or see if you can find a furnished place for a while).
      Since it was pandemic, I got all my kitchen stuff via amazon and that worked fine.
      Also got the lightest desk and chair I could find online and had that mailed, took a little longer than usual, but you know, pandemic.

      I have recently joined my local buy nothing group…. If that is of interest for you to get rid of your stuff in Alt and get some stuff in Chi… maybe try it. I have mostly been using mine to get rid of stuff I don’t want, like someone picked up some ice packs that come in some food I have delivered, cause it is getting way hot here this weekend.

    8. Mourning reader*

      When I travel with my two brother cats, I put them in a dog-sized travel kennel together in the back seat. They are much calmer huddling together, with a bit more room to move around, than in individual carriers. I let them out into the interior of the car at rest stops to use their litter.
      Be sure to belt your carrier in so that it doesn’t slip around (or tumble if you have an accident.)

      1. Tris Prior*

        Out of curiosity, what kind of car do you have, and what sort of kennel?

        We’ll likely be doing a cross country move next spring, driving and not flying. And we need to buy a car too, as we do not currently own one (moving from a very public-transport-friendly city where a car is a want and not a need, to a city that is…. not.).
        We want a small fuel-efficient car but all the kennels I have seen seem huge and not something that would fit in a compact. Maybe “travel kennel” is what I need to be looking for?

    9. JustEm*

      I’ve done several long moves with my 2 cats, and instead of normal carriers used a large “pet tube” designed for dogs that goes in the back seat. I could put blankets in there to hide under and even a smallish plastic tote to use as a litterbox. They could stay in the tube if the pet-friendly hotel was not safe (look for any holes your cat can get into before letting them out!!)

  27. Anona*

    Dream house ideas

    My husband and I are in the early stages of planning our dream house, and starting to brainstorm.

    If you were building your dream house, what kinds of things would you want to incorporate? These can be big or small.

    For example, I want a reading nook, places for the dog beds to go, and possibly wallpaper on a wall in my office.

    1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Windows and skylights that are ideally placed for changing light over the seasons, good cross ventilation and heat escape during summer.

      High ceilings.

      Also, a bookcase that opens a secret passage to the wine cellar.

    2. MinotJ*

      We’re 3 years in to a whole-house renovation so we’ve been thinking and talking and doing this stuff. It’s amazing to end up with the exact house you want!

      No bathtubs! Just enormous glorious showers with amazing tile and luxury showerheads.

      Kitchen island, bar height. I’ve always had kitchen tables and lusted after an island. And I will always choose bar height over table height.

      So many windows. I lucked out with that one. My house has an unreasonable number of windows, even a big one in the shower. It’s a small house that was built in 1942 as a big chicken coop and it’s been modified by everybody who lived here. I’m pretty sure various owners have just decided they wanted a window *here* and chopped yet another hole in a wall.

      Wide plank wood floors, interesting texture, and strong enough to handle dog toenails. We went with acacia. The wood grain is almost obnoxiously loud.

      We’re ending up with a house that only we could love. But other houses in the neighborhood are selling for 4-5x what I paid for my house, and I know when I finally sell that this place will be a teardown no matter what it looks like inside. So I’m not making concessions to resale value.

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      A big kitchen with two ovens. Ideally, gas burners (not common where I am). Also: A dough-kneading counter at a good height for me. I am short and my husband is tall, so we might end up having counters at two different heights if we get to design our own kitchen someday. Also, a chest freezer somewhere accessible and a root cellar.

      A Library with a good reading chair. A tea room, or a tea-hut in our giant garden. Or, since we are dreaming, both. An art room for me with enough space and storage to use it well.

      A big garden with roses. :)

      I wish you success with your dreams! They sound lovely and very doable.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Extra power outlets, especially in any areas where you’re going to have an A/V setup (TV etc) or computer desks/office space.

      Plan ahead for any networking needs, whether that’s hard-wiring the whole house for built-in ethernet or just making sure that the cable jack is conveniently located to a place where you can put your modem/router and have it central to the area you need coverage for.

      I would probably spend most of my focus on the kitchen, making sure I had good drawer space where it was useful and minimal wasted space in the corners.

      Also, zone heating – it drives me buggy that I have one thermostat for my whole house. I have two stories and a basement, and there’s invariably 3-5 degrees in difference between each floor. AND my husband’s office is upstairs where it’s hottest (and he whines when it hits 65), while my housemate’s suite is in the basement where it’s coolest (so he’s down there with his reptiles keeping everybody’s heat lamps going). I wish to hell I could set the AC upstairs to 70, the main level to 75 and the basement to 78 (or something), but that’s not an option, so I set the main level to 75 and then it’s 78 UPstairs and 72 DOWNstairs and argh. (I have suggested that they switch spaces, but there are other logistical issues with that :P )

      1. Ellen*

        We have a very similar problem after doing a major remodel downstairs. One suggestion that the heating contractor made was to put a second A/C unit in the attic that would serve the 2nd floor.

      2. English, not American*

        Yes, put power outlets everywhere! This causes such a headache in our house, all the bedrooms have sockets right by the door and nowhere else, which is useless for anything other than hoovering. We can’t move them or add any more without rewiring the whole house (which would also mean demo-ing the kitchen) thanks to the previous owners being enthusiastic DIY-ers and messing something up somewhere.

    5. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I think it depends upon your needs – are you thinking of this as long term housing, will you live in it when you retire, do you or will you have kids?

      One thing I learned about myself over the years is that I don’t want to do the maintenance so smaller is better for me so that I can either easily do it myself or easily pay someone to do it. Especially the yard/garden. I have an HOA now that maintains the front lawns and it is so nice! I don’t have to worry if we get busy or go away and the lawn/front needs tending. And I am an aspirational gardener. That means I love the idea but don’t really do it and I have too much backyard to take care of. I’d like mostly outdoor patio and a tiny bed or two so I don’t get overwhelmed.

      I also learned that a split bedroom plan works well for me so that my spouse and I can get space from each other and so that visitors feel more comfortable. I also used the split front 2 bedrooms as quarantine space when my spouse got covid so that was really handy. This is less great for people who have young kids.

      My dream home would have a central room that would be like the backroom/workroom of a retail store. If the house has AC, this space would too. It would be central storage for the house, washing machine, slop sink, etc. And it could double as a storm shelter (we live in hurricane territory and we don’t have basements here) or panic room if that’s your thing. I would have the garage enter into this room so all the stuff you are bringing home gets put away here. The rest of the house would surround this room and could be simpler and tidier since all the crap is in the storage room. Also, I saw an HGTV program where they made a dog washing station in a laundry room. That looked really useful if you are a dog family.

      I’d prefer to have a mother-in-law studio/flex space instead of traditional second bedroom(s). This space could work for a relative who lives with you, as a guest room, as a rental, or as a space for me while I rent the rest of the house in case I want to travel or as I age. It would have an exterior quality door separating it from the house so it could provide complete separation when needed, but also let guests or kids use the room as a bedroom.

      In my dream home I would not have a dining room, I’d have an eat in kitchen island. But I would have a flex space that is normally a library corner or other space but that could transform to work for big family holiday dinners or parties. I’d spend the money on one of those tables that origamis out from a small side table/library table/jigsaw puzzle table to seating for 12. Or something like that.

      And my dream home is built so that it can support hanging, swinging chairs.

      I cook a lot and am vegan. Veggies are so bulky! so my dream kitchen would have great refrigerator space. If money were no object, I’d go for high end, under counter fridges. And dishwasher drawers. I’ve never had a pantry closet but I do have a pantry cabinet and I love it.

      No, I have not thought that much about this! lol

      Good luck to you, I envy you!

    6. Anonymato*

      I think so much depends on the location of the house! If in colder climate, heated floors… If in the city, the blindes that you can pull down from either top or bottom (if top is opened you get the light but still have privacy)… Good insulation (Roxul is our go-to because not flammable and works well) and we have double-paned windows with some silver thing in-between that helps a lot… Solar tubes or skylights… I think it’s great to have a house with minimal or no barriers if ever needed… I would love sliding/barn doors… And more space for built-in (read: hidden) trashcans in the kitchen and elsewhere…

    7. Chaordic One*

      A coat closet and a powder room by the entry-way.
      Big closets in the bedrooms.
      Built-in linen closets.
      Lots of storage and more cupboards in the bathrooms.
      Lots of kitchen cupboards AND a pantry.
      Built-in shelving in the den.
      Radiant floor heating.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      After living in several apartments with tiny kitchens, a big dedicated pantry is a priority for me. So tired of trying to find a random cabinet with space for cereal boxes! I don’t like when the master bath vanity area has carpet. I really want a finished under-stair space that can be used as a little nook instead of just storage – a friend in elementary school had a secret room in there and it’s still the coolest house thing I’ve ever seen lol

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      At least one bedroom with a full bathroom upstairs, and at least one bedroom with a full bathroom on the ground floor. That gives me privacy from visitors right now, and means accessibility for future aging and/or accidents. Likewise, no changes in floor level on one story (grandma’s sunken living room is right out. The total customisation that I want that I have never seen? I want an attached garage next to the kitchen, with a pantry that opens to garage and kitchen. Unload from the car into the pantry, and the newest food will always be at the front in the kitchen. Oh, and a deep freeze in the garage too. And as long as we’re dreaming, I want a library with a wood stove.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Weirdly my friends have a house with this setup. It was one of the floor plans for the neighborhood.
        They have a massive pantry next to the kitchen, it’s basically the size of the kitchen itself. And the w/d there as well. Rows of shelves. And the garage opens in to it.
        Just a regular suburban house in Austin.

    10. No Tribble At All*

      I know someone who has a closet specifically for the litter box, with a fan and vent that goes directly outside. Get them stinky cat smells out!

    11. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      My must have is the master bedroom needs to be away from the family room so I can’t hear the tv when trying to sleep.

      My want list includes a basement preferably walk out, a walk in pantry, and a laundry room that has a door into the master closet.

    12. Abby cats*

      Zoned heating and cooling

      Heated tile floor in the bathrooms

      Outlets under all the windows for Christmas

      Kitchen island with the stove on it (I despise facing the wall to cook)

      Excellent construction (my parents built with 2x6s and their house is quiet/doesn’t creak)

      Jacuzzi corner rub with landscape windows

      Hardwood on entire first floor (no seams at doorways)

    13. Wishing You Well*

      I won’t live without an instant hot water tap again. The almost-boiling water makes many things faster and easier including washing up! I’d skip the garbage disposal; it’s there only to make plumbers rich.
      If you’re thinking about your “forever” place, think about access getting into and around your home. A full bathroom on the main floor is a must and, ideally, at least one bedroom there, too. Some homes have residential elevators to reach upstairs bedrooms.
      Dream-wise, I’d have a covered indoor-outdoor space with floor-to-ceiling glass and screened windows and doors.
      Dream on and have fun!

    14. Coco*

      This is a fun question. We just bought a home and are in the process of making some changes.

      Things we are in the middle of or would like to do if we had the budget:

      Wine storage room/ closet / area with built in wine racks and temperature control

      Heated flooring for bathrooms

      Usable attic with fan and a good way to get up there (if installing ladders, a pulley system to get things up there easily)

      Washer/ dryer on the same floor as the bedrooms. With room for storage and a system for hanging damp clean items ( like a blanket that’s almost dry but not quite but not wet enough to turn on the dryer again)

      Recessed lighting

      A loft with a ceiling fan

      A hidden room or cupboard (like beneath stairs or bookcase) where you can have a small library or bar

    15. Generic Name*

      Fun! I love fantasizing about this stuff. My husband and I plan to build a cabin in the next 5 or so years. I’ve told my husband I want lots of windows and that I want to be warm in the winter. I want a nice deck. Bedrooms have to be separated from the public areas of the house.

    16. RussianInTexas*

      More efficient A/C, built in powerful generator (Gulf Coast represents), covered outdoor space, extra space in the garage for the garden tools and regular tools, soft close cabinet doors and drawers, large shower with a built-in bench, master bedroom away from the living area.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Walk-in pantry! Good windows! Tall fences so neighbors cannot see in.
        More than one electric outlet in the master bathroom.
        Half bath by the front door, or hidden a bit, not as I have now, right in the living room.
        Dedicated space for the litter boxes.

        1. Windchime*

          Backyard privacy. I lived for 10 years in a house where neighbors in giant McMansions could (and did) peer down into my yard. On the few instances when I went outside, neighbors were always outside and it was like living in a fishbowl.

          My current house has a very private back yard and I love it so much.

    17. Might Be Spam*

      Skylights with built-in shades so the sun doesn’t wake me up so early and cut down on heat in summer.

      Fireplace with built-in drawers in the raised hearth. Our hearth is 18 inches high and there’s plenty of room under it for two deep drawers. That’s where we keep games and extra throw blankets. A lower hearth with shallow drawers would work, too. Before we put the drawers in, it looked great with open space under the hearth. Our builder thought it was a dumb idea but we love it.

    18. Drtheliz*

      Floor to ceiling kitchen cupboards. The top can’t get dirty if it doesn’t exist ;)

      Also, two hobs – a 2-ring and a 4-ring. Spouse and I like to share cooking (and are often enough cooking different dinners at the same time) and being able to do so without bumping elbows will be wonderful (currently replacing the kitchen that came with New House).

      Personally, I’m also a fan of “galley seating”, where a section of countertops just doesn’t have cupboards above or below (for us it’ll be in front of the window, so there wouldn’t have been anything on top anyway). It’s a lovely sunny nook to eat breakfast in, and still completely usable surface space for chopping etc., unlike a table.

    19. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Underfloor heating for sure – OHs parents have this in Sweden all over the tiled bits of the house and it keeps the house warm in winter (but not too warm) and dries out the bathrooms quickly as they are both more wet-room showers
      Big tiled showers – I hope I never have to vault over the side of a tub again!
      Mud room
      Butler’s pantry, bonus points if its between two rooms cause I think a passageway is cool!
      A good sized walk in food pantry
      Deep kitchen drawers – I have one now next to the oven that holds all my spices and its AMAZING to just open it up and choose what I need at a glance!
      A large master suite big enough to put lounging furniture like a comfy chair in there, with an adjacent master bathroom. We have an en-suite now and I love not having to leave the room in the middle of the night!
      A conservatory/orangerie with wicker furniture, remote controlled shades, and potted palms/fruits

      But my one big dream would be to have enough space to put in an outbuilding with an Endless Pool in it, with a small sauna off the pool deck and home office space/granny flat above, with sliding doors to be able to open the pool space in the summer.

    20. Ranon*

      Deeply unsexy list incoming:

      Friends with benefit relationship to the grid- so grid tied but battery backup & solar, rainwater storage, etc.

      High performance building envelope- net zero or darn close, very air tight, with filtered outside air through the ventilation system and outside vented kitchen hood with makeup air.

      Good passive survivability- orientation/ windows/ insulation all designed to keep the house as comfortable as possible even without power.

      Location wise, well out of flood/ landslide zones, full fire break if in a wildfire prone area, etc.

      And I’d put fire sprinklers in too.

      The nice thing about most of the green building stuff is your house will also be more comfortable and smell nicer on a day to day basis with no drafts and leaks and plenty of fresh air.

    21. Maxie's Mommy*

      We have huge security drawers in the toe-kick of some cabinets. They open with a strong magnet. Good place to throw cash, car titles, jewelry when workmen come. The drawers are deep enough to hold large silver trays.

    22. NoLongerYoung*

      Many good points so far. If this is a truly forever house- or if you want the flexibility – go for the ADA/36″ wide doorways. It’s not obvious, with mom’s townhouse, that they are. But oh, SO MUCH easier getting things in and out, and so spacious. The hallways are wide, and zero entry (no steps)….yet it’s just warm and welcoming. There are some great books on designing houses to make them more accessible. I must say, even the easier-opening windows and roll out kitchen drawers (instead of lower shelves) are simply – easier.

    23. Alex*

      Are we talking dream houses of regular people, or dream houses of the rich?

      For my “regular people” wants, I fantasize about radiant floor heating and/or a whole house humidifier. Some kind of heating system where dry air isn’t blown around all winter long. I hate dry heated air! Ugh!

      For my dreams of being rich, I want an indoor/outdoor pool–one you can swim from indoors to outdoors in all seasons. Heated of course. With an attached spa.

    24. HannahS*

      Lots of natural light. A fireplace. Sufficient closets! A sensible layout; I want to be able to make noise and mess in the kitchen without it being visible and audible everywhere else.

    25. nnn*

      I would think about accessibility, even if I don’t have immediate accessibility needs. What would it take to make everything accessible for all disabilities and all aging-related needs, or to make it easily renovateable to meet these needs?

      For example, is there enough room to move around the house in a wheelchair? Are the doors wide enough? Can you get to the front door in a wheelchair and open the doors? Can you use the bathroom and reach everything in the kitchen?

      How can the bathroom be made safe for someone with a risk of slipping and falling? What would it take for someone like my 99-year-old grandmother to be able to use this bathroom independently?

      There are tons of accessibility considerations that I’m not even aware of, but, for me, part of the “dream” aspect of a dream house is that my home would continue to function for me no matter what misfortunes may befall me, and without having to deal with the upheaval of renovations when I’m also dealing with the upheaval of a medical crisis.

    26. MissCoco*

      I want toe-kick step stools under my kitchen counters!! Just a few more inches to get better traction when kneading or seeing into a mixing bowl.

    27. Night Vale Seems Good by Comparison*

      Since you mention dogs, I love having a dedicated mud room and large laundry sink for dog cleanup. Of course it depends on the size of your dogs, but I have a hairy dog who seems to attract dirt, so being able to plop him in the laundry sink and spray him off is a huge help (and it’s great for Dog baths too). I would change one thing: the paint on the laundry sink wall has started peeling, so I would put something sturdy like tile as a backsplash that will hold up to frequent moisture and mis-aimed sink sprayers!

    28. Sleepless*

      My list so far for my dream house:

      Garage at the back of the house, not in the front where it’s the first thing you see

      If a two story, the master bedroom on the main floor

      A large mud room that includes a shower stall with a pull-out faucet, for washing off dogs/muddy shoes/whatever before it has access to the rest of the house

      A pantry between the garage and the kitchen

      A study adjacent to the main living area, with walls but not necessarily a door. This is because my husband watches a lot more TV than I do and I MUST have a space to read/be online or whatever that isn’t in the same room with all that racket.

      A pleasant space to sit outside and read: a porch, deck, or patio. It really needs to have at least a decent view as well.

      A walkable neighborhood with at least some ability to walk to shops/restaurants etc. This was something I really lucked into in my current house, and it wasn’t something I was thinking of very much when we moved here. I’ve been to neighborhoods that not only weren’t very suitable for walking around in, they were adjacent to a busy highway and you couldn’t walk out of the neighborhood and get anywhere.

      Similarly, walking distance to green space: a park, walking trail etc.

      My favorite general floor plan currently is what’s called a split ranch. Kitchen and master on one side, living area in the middle, secondary bedrooms on the other. (I’m openly jealous of the floor plan of my brother’s house and have been taking notes.)

    29. BrambleBerry37*

      1. Have an honest conversation with your builder re: maintenance. Skylights sound great, but the seals bust like hell. High ceilings? Great feeling of space! Crappy to heat, and a pain to keep clean. Especially if you have sills/ceiling fans.

      2. Laundry room on the same level as the bedrooms. Either in a larger bathroom, or in a laundry closet. And make sure the doors are wide enough to swap machines out easily.

      3. Unless you love vacuuming and/or deep cleaning carpets, go with hard wood or tile.

      4. Have another honest conversation with your electrician. Like others have mentioned, extra outlets/better wiring for tech areas are just smart.

      5. Foot activated faucets. May have to import from an Asian country, or search out a company that outfits labs, but omfg, GAME CHANGER.

      6. Brass fixtures for high-touch surfaces. Yes, they tarnish, but are naturally self-sanitizing. Chrome may look cleaner, but it ISN’T.

      7. If you are designing from scratch or using a premade plan, try and figure out the airflow of your windows/doors. Cross breeze makes a significant difference in natural cooling, and a lot can be done with just smart design choices.

      8. House dehumidifier.

      9. Make sure to have the sink close to the stove, but also extra counter space for prep NEXT to the hob/burners. I was stunned to visit a bunch of staged designer kitchens (Chicago Merchandise Mart showfloor) and find ONE usable kitchen designed by someone who has cooked a meal for themself. Think logically about how you/your so work in a kitchen (where garbage is in relation to prep are in relation to stove, in relation to sanitization are, in relation to pantry/fridge) and BE HONEST about what kind of storage you want/need for your appliances/food/kitchenware.

      Basically, figure out how you want to use your space, include room for the uncute bits (how easy is it to clean? Can you move a couch in that door?) and then always add more storage than you think you need.

  28. Teapot Translator*

    I wonder if anyone else’s brain works like mine and if our brains are just regular brains/a product of 21st technology. I can very rarely stay focused on one thing for too long. For example, at work (as my name says, I’m a translator), I will translate a few sentences, then go check the weather. Translate another few sentences; go check the news. I just need to randomly change my focus. When we used to work in the office, I could be translating and catch information from a discussion nearby. In my leisure time, I often need my brain to be fully occupied. So if I’m washing the dishes, I will usually put the radio on; if I’m cooking, it’s a movie or a TV show. If I’m watching a movie, I’ll start playing a game on my phone at the same time. Younger (child, teenager), I could be more focused on my interests, but I do wonder if it was part of my general anxiety disorder (self-soothe through books).
    Does your brain work the same?

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      In my experience, focus and concentration are things that need to be practiced. So, if I’ve been all over the place (life, technology, binging things everywhere all at the same time, stress, etc.), then I usually am over-all worse at focusing and concentration. If I dedicate some time to really work on it over the course of weeks or months, it gets much better. But maybe that’s just me?

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I’m like that, but it’s a coping mechanism for me. My mind runs fast and wanders and it has a lot of bad places to wander to, so I stay busy – usually doing multiple things at once or task switching as focusing on one thing too long triggers the wandering. I focus better by focusing less, if that makes sense, lol!

      I’ve made progress with reading. I used to read all the time and then couldn’t without my mind wandering, so I stopped. I’ve started reading again and it’s rare that I have to stop due to wandering these days.

    3. ten four*

      Mine does! I am really fast and productive at work and I often work in fits and starts like you’re describing. I find that I work best when I can jump from task to task, which is absolutely critical for my job in any case. It is very hard for me to focus on one thing at a time, and for whatever reason it’s easier for me to focus on written words (as opposed to video) so I definitely do the entertainment multitask.

      I figure it’s partly due to the ready availability of cool things to read/do and partly due to the way my brain works. I don’t personally worry about it very much – my ability to manage multiple things at once makes me stronger at my job and I don’t really think there’s a correct way to be entertained, you know?

    4. Flower necklace*

      Yes, my brain works similarly. I’m a teacher, so I’m accustomed to multi-tasking during class. Even during planning, however, I prefer to work from the department room, and everyone in my department knows that they can always interrupt me to chat or ask questions.

      I was probably better at focusing when I was younger, but I’m also a perfectionist and it takes me forever to finish things. I’ve always worked on projects in bits and pieces. So while it’s become more pronounced as I’ve gotten older, I think I’ve probably always been this way.

    5. matcha123*

      Hello, fellow translator!
      I know exactly what you mean. I need to get up and do something every few sentences, sometimes every sentence. Once my office went mostly remote, I felt comfortable doing all the stuff I couldn’t before: stretching, making coffee, read some unrelated news, whatever. When I was in the office, I would totally be eavesdropping on other conversations unintentionally.
      I actually find doing some stretching or working on a puzzle in between focusing on translating really helps me to focus on my work. Without the breaks, my brain turns to mush. Sometimes chocolate or a bit of sugar can help.

      Outside of work it’s a split between having a movie on while browsing the internet and also playing Animal Crossing and needing to be in complete silence. I’ve found myself struggling to read books when in the past I’d read to relax. Maybe because I start wondering how I would translate phrases from the books I’m reading.

      When I was younger, I could focus on activities I enjoyed. I still do that somewhat now, however it’s focusing on understanding the details of my cell phone contract and comparing it to other companies or something that I will gain a ton of knowledge in and then forget once I’ve made my decision.

      I can’t say if it is normal or not. I’ve asked myself the same question countless times. But you are not alone!

    6. Girasol*

      Depends. If I’m having fun I can go for hours on one task, but if it’s mentally hard to do or if it’s something I really don’t feel like doing, then it’s more like exercise: I go hard for a short burst and then need a breather before diving in again.

    7. The New Wanderer*

      I can relate to all of this. I think it’s partly how my brain has always worked and partly a function of having the capabilities to do several things at once that wasn’t so easy before (pulling out a phone to play a game while watching TV). As a kid (80s, 90s) I used to do my homework in front of the TV most of the time, which is a terrible habit but I got good grades so there was no deterrent.

      I can also focus to the point of tunnel vision on one thing as long as I maintain an interest in it. I know something’s captured my interest if I’m doing two things and pause one to concentrate on the other; conversely, I know I’m not invested in a thing when I automatically reach for my phone to play Solitaire or do some coloring as a second task. If I *have* to pay attention, the most I will do to fight it is not let myself multitask with something with words (reading news, listening to a podcast). WFH has made this so much easier because we’re not on video.

    8. Skeeder Jones*

      Yessssss, I have the same issue. I canot just watch a tv show, I have to be on my laptop reading while watching the show. And I’m not just on my laptop reading news, but I can’t even finish 1 article without having to take a break to play a game or do some online shopping. I sort of wonder what I’m missing because I’m not really focused on any of the tasks but I’m 53 so I doubt I’ll be changing anytime soon.

    9. allathian*

      Oh yes, I can relate. Confession time here, I’m also a translator and while WFH has been great for me, one reason why I spend so much time here is that our VPN is at times, very slow. Slow to the point that switching from one segment to the next while using translation software can take up to a minute, although normally it’s less than 15 seconds. I’m not kidding, this takes far too long, and before the pandemic it took, at the most, a second or two. My coworker’s tested working from the office to see if it’s any faster there, but the effect is, at best, marginal. Before the pandemic we didn’t have any issues, because even if both of us would WFH occasionally, most people were in the office on any given day. Now almost everyone’s remote. My coworker and I keep our TMs on a shared network drive for cross-referencing, and partial matches to a coworker’s TM seem to be the slowest.

      For most documents I translate, less than 10 percent is completely new text. So I hit Translate All, and spend my time online while my computer does the processing, then I go back and translate the remainder, fix partial matches, etc.

      I translate a lot of standardized documents with only minor changes between each document, and when it works, the translation software is a great time saver and I’d never go back to translating without it full time. For very short translations, like a sentence or two, I admit that I’ve “cheated” and translated directly without using the software…

      So far, our manager’s been understanding. The slow tech is apparently just something we have to live with, and our performance goals are set accordingly.

      Also, I admit that WFH has been a godsend to me, now I can listen in on our informational meetings and glance at the slides while playing games on my phone. If I didn’t, I’d just zone out completely. I don’t play games in the meetings where I’m expected to contribute, though.

      To ensure that this post doesn’t veer too much into the unmentionable-on-weekends-place, I confess to some of the same thing as you do.

      I do admit that I have a hard time focusing on any single activity. Like you, when I’m watching TV, I’ll also start playing a game on my phone. We have a movie room with a 100 in projector, and there I’m not tempted to do anything other than watch the movie.

      When I was a kid, we lived for a few years in the country and I went to a village elementary school with one teacher and all the grades in the same room. By some weird coincidence, there were kids born only every other year in that village, so I never had to do grades in the wrong order. I was the only kid in my class for most of that time, and learned to focus on writing an essay in third grade while the teacher was teaching basic math to the first graders and the fifth graders were doing something else. We did have PE, music, art, and crafts together. So I always thought I’d be good at shutting out distractions. As a kid I was, and even when we moved to the city and I started in a bigger school, I had awesome focus. I was, and am, a reader, and could get completely lost in a book, to the point that sometimes my parents had to pry the book from my hands to get me to the dinner table.

      I’ve tried mindfulness a couple of times to see if it would improve my focus, but I found the entire experience deeply unpleasant. The second time I had to stop halfway through, when I started to hyperventilate. I did like tai chi, though, for the year that I was able to go to classes, but covid nixed that. My instructor decided to quit for good, he had already been considering it for a while even before the pandemic. I have very poor coordination and posture awareness, and would hate to be on camera, so virtual classes are not for me. I guess I’m going to have to try and find something different, when I’m fully vaccinated in the fall.

    10. Epsilon Delta*

      I used to read for hours uninterrupted as a child and teen. Then came Facebook and social media. I really feel that (and possibly the natural consequences of aging?) affected my ability to stay focused on something, especially if it isn’t a screen. I have gotten better at focusing and reading for long stretches again, but it takes practice and intention. If your brain starts to wander, you have to gently tell it no and come back to the thing you were doing.

      Of course, not everything needs laser focus. If you’re washing the dishes, it seems totally reasonable to want to listen to the radio or watch TV at the same time! And taking little breaks during translating probably helps you be more efficient overall, similar to taking walk breaks during a marathon.

      If you want to improve your focus, I found yoga and meditation practice to be very helpful in learning how to slow down my brain.

  29. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

    Favourite essential oils for use in an oil burner?

    Looking for non-synthetic, fresh and/or earthy scents. Pure peppermint, petitgrain, amyris or lemongrass are my usual go-to’s.

    I’ve been buying random things lately looking for more variety, but scents I think I’ll like can smell quite different in the diffuser with heat.

    1. RosyGlasses*

      I really like frankincense by itself and then I’ll often mix a bit of lemon and clove together (with baking soda that combo makes an amazing sink and shower scrub!).

    2. Trixie B*

      I love citrus scents in particular grapefruit which lends well with peppermint. I like to create a “citrus salad” a mix of Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, and Tangerine.

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

      I love eucalyptus, sometimes mixed with sage, sometimes with a bit of lavender, or ginger. Eucalyptus just makes me feel like I’m at a day spa. Have you tried Mountain Rose Herbs dot com? They have a lot of essential oils to choose from, some can be pretty expensive, but you can get small quantities.

    4. Retired(but not really)*

      I work with natural oil based scented candles. Some of my favorites are mixes: mint or lavender and eucalyptus, citrus and mint, lemongrass and sage.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      Yes! I make my own combo. It is a dupe of Aveda’s Shampure scent which is about the most heavenly thing I’ve ever smelled. It has some of the fragrances you just mentioned. I add to my grapeseed oil for mixing with my lotion each morning, I add some to baking soda and use as a carpet shake, and I diffuse it.

      Instead of writing out all nine ingredients, if you don’t mind, please search for Ella Lindquist DIY shampure. I buy my oils from NOW brand.

    6. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Thanks for the recommendations everyone! Some interesting new combos there to try :)

  30. Bob Howard*

    Cateract Question:

    I had a the lens in one eye replaced to deal with a cateract. I chose a distance lens, so I do not need glasses for driving. Now the other eye needs doing, and I am wondering whether I should get the same, or have a close vision lens for reading etc. That way I can get binocular vision with glasses but am not dependant on glasses for any given activity.
    Has anyone else had both eye lenses replaced and gone for different lenses?

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      I have a close friend who did distance in one eye and reading in the other eye when he got his cataracts done, but he had worn contact lenses in this manner for twenty years, so he already knew what it would be like.

      Maybe you could get close vision contact lens for your other eye to see how it works for you?

      I have worn a single contact lens when one ripped, and my brain adjusted pretty quickly (5 minutes), but I had problems with depth perception that I didn’t care for.

    2. Mary Lynne*

      I had cataracts In both eyes in my 40s. I got one distance and one close up, And I love it.My glasses are a little complicated because I have bifocals, so four prescriptions. I’m always sort of functional, I can see enough to read a medicine bottle or navigate to the bathroom without grabbing my glasses, although would not drive or read a whole book without them.

    3. Formerly in HR*

      I know someone who had one lens for distance and one for reading. 20/20 vision afterwards. Then, a year later, had an injury and now the distance eye has blurred vision, which is not helped by the other lens. So having different lenses can work in perfect conditions, but if anything happens afterwards to any eye you end up with an imbalance harder to fix.

    4. EngineerGal*

      My mom was able to get her lenses replaced with lens that work for near and far-no glasses at all anymore

      It was extra above what Medicare would pay for but well worth it-depends on your eyes whether it will work though

    5. Lore*

      How uncomfortable or disorienting do you find it now when you’re not wearing glasses or contacts in the eye with the cataract? For a lot of people, the better working eye will “take over” and they’ll function just fine. If you’re on of them, the mono vision split will likely work for you. In between my two
      surgeries, I got terrible headaches and just felt like I could only half see. (I’d already chosen adaptive lenses, which are one type of implant that allows for both distance and close vision, so I was okay once I got the second implant in.)

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      My eyes were already one near- and one far-sighted prior to me cataract surgeries. I am eternally grateful to my doctor for realizing that. Apparently if you get lenses that are different from what your brain is already used to, it can take a long time to adjust

    7. Retired(but not really)*

      I have one eye for distance and the other for closeup. This is how my eyes were naturally (one with greater distance vision than the other) and how my contacts had been fitted as well. It works very well for me.

  31. It's Quarantime!*

    Hi all,
    So, I’m not exactly asking for medical advice, more advice on how to actually get medical advice.
    I’m dealing with tinninus/ memory/ brain fog/ gastro/ and other post-covid issues and the advice I’ve been given (most recently from a neurologist who didn’t even bother to offer running any tests) is to seek cognitive behavioral therapy.
    Now, I’m sure I could benefit from therapy mentally and emotionally, but I’m also sure that therapy isn’t going to address the real, physical issues behind my symptoms.
    So, my question is, how does anyone get actual medical support from providers who seem to believe that since they don’t already know what’s wrong is not worth trying to find out?

    1. fposte*

      Ah, I get the frustration. But providers are generally super-constrained by insurance on expensive diagnostics like this, and CBT may genuinely be the best they have to offer; it’s also a field where experience is understandably pretty limited.

      What I’d be inclined to do is look around for somebody in your region (teaching hospitals are likely starters) who seems to be specializing in post-COVID studies and see if you can schlep to them or get a recommendation from them. They’ll have a much better idea of what tests could get you and what insurance will bear.

      I hope you find somebody good, however you go.

    2. ten four*

      I’m so sorry this is happening. My aunt and uncle are both COVID-19 long haulers after getting sick in March 2020, and my uncle’s cardiologist pretty much just threw his hands up. They had to meet with a few doctors until they found one who was actually interested in helping them figure out what was happening.

      As my aunt pointed out: they were some of the earliest long haulers, and knew that doctors weren’t going to have easy, quick answers. Of course doctors don’t have a good post-COVID-19 playbook! What she was looking for was a doctor who was actually interested in figuring it out, and it took a few tries.

      Is there an online group/community that you can ask around for recs? Can you ask ahead of time before an appointment? I think they just kept making appointments and talking to people, then making other appointments if necessary.

      For what it’s worth, I think this advice holds across any doctor and any illness. It took me TEN YEARS to get an ongoing health issue solved by a specialist because I kept getting the brush off. If your doctor isn’t taking you seriously, or if they aren’t actively helping you to solve an issue then you gotta keep looking. It’s a pain, but there it is.

      Good luck! I’m rooting for you.

    3. Ranon*

      There’s a podcast called This Week in Virology that has a doctor who does “clinical updates” every Friday- on one of his recent episodes he talked about how to get treatment to “long-haulers”. You might try looking back at those episodes as well as looking for clinics specifically for post Covid folks, some are just starting to come together (and he references one or two in the podcast). Research practices or studies might be another place to look.

    4. Tinnitus anon*

      Not medically qualified but research and work in the hearing and tinnitus field

      CBT is the therapy that has the strongest evidence base for effectiveness for tinnitus so it’s a good place to at least start, as it’s also been shown to be effective for other chronic health conditions too.

      In the UK, NICE have guidelines for clinicians and patients on the diagnosis and management what is being called post-Covid-19 syndrome (if you Google NICE + NG188 you’ll see them)

    5. Imtheone*

      A teaching hospital near you might have a post-Covid clinic. Where we live, a referral from a PCP is needed.

    6. It's Quarantime!*

      Thank you all for your kind responses.
      A big reason why I’m so disappointed/frustrated is that this specialist IS associated with a long haul covid clinic at the local university research hospital.
      That’s why I went to him.
      I had the referral from my primary doc and everything. They’ve been majorly hyping the opening of this clinic as a source of cooperative learning and instead of, you know, trying to learn anything, I was immediately told that “covid is mysterious”, that I should seek therapy, and sorry, he can’t recommend any therapy providers because all the ones associated with the school hospital have year long waiting lists. No offers of testing, no suggestions of other types of medical providers might be helpful.
      I left, even more confused and frustrated than I had arrived.
      Oh, and at some point they’ll be sending me a bill for this farce.

      1. L. Ron Jeremy*

        Check out the Tinnitus Talk forum; there are many members that are just like you with regards to tinnitus, brain fog issues from Covid-19 and many threads dealing with getting medical help.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I know the CBT recommendation feels dismissive, but I’d urge you to follow it up if you possibly can.

      You are dealing with a major life disruption, with no way of knowing how long it might last or whether it’s permanent (because nobody knows yet).

      The CBT isn’t going to fix the physical problems, but it can help you find ways to function with them until the world knows more.

    8. osmoglossum*

      do you have, or know of, a good acupuncturist? i would start there. an acupuncturist is going to look at, and treat, your whole person, rather than see a host of discrete, seemingly unrelated symptoms that are not connected to a human being.

    9. Weekender*

      I would suggest East TN or North Carolina. If you are in the mountainous areas, the weather won’t be as hot and the humidity might not be felt as much.

    10. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I’m an ICU doctor but I’m not your doctor and I’m not a neurologist. I don’t think there is much known about long COVID. Also, there are not really treatments for tinnitus or brain fog even not involved in COVID. It could be you are not being offered tests or treatment because tests and treatments for your symptoms don’t exist.

  32. sickallday*

    Looking for advice/ commiseration about Morning Sickness. My past 2 pregnancies I’ve had it terribly (not quite to the level of hyperemesis) but to the point where I lost 15 lbs and was feeling badly “hungover” for lack of a better description for about 6 months all day every day. Thinking about having another and just looking for any tips anyone has that are NOT “eat multiple small meals a day”. I’ve tried anti nausea wrist bands, ginger, diclectin, and a stronger drug. Has anyone tried hypnosis or anything like that? Every doctor and nurse I have met except one has been extremely unsympathetic (one er doctor said he would’ve helped me if I had been vomiting right there in the room in front of him but since I wasnt there wasnt anything he could do)

    1. Pop*

      I know that this may not be possible, but if it is, get a new OB. There are numerous medications you can try that go above and beyond the normal unisom + B6 combo. To be honest, I wouldn’t expect the emergency room doctor to do much besides fluids, but someone providing you with regular care should be willing to work with you on additional/alternate medications. Good luck! I’ve had a relatively easy pregnancy by many standards and I still feel miserable going into the final weeks. Also, the people who recommended eating small meals made me LOL. Clearly we were dealing with different levels of sickness!

      1. Lilo*

        Yes, losing 15 pounds is a lot! I’m side eyeing this doctor a bit. My close friend had hyperemesis and they gave her a pump with medication.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      My first pregnancy I took Diclegis the whole time and occasionally still needed a Zofran as well. It was the only thing that worked but it was effective. Second pregnancy I had a new doctor who basically told me to drink some ginger ale and see how it goes and I was like “no, I need drugs and I’m not leaving without them.” I threw up multiple times DURING that appointment! She eventually told me Unisom+B6 and I found a new doctor. The B6 did work as well as Diclegis though!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Friends suggested a mild form of an elimination diet to discover if there is one food that is triggering you. For example, one woman could not eat or smell garlic without puking. Unfortunately you have to do that with each pregnancy, because the nausea trigger varies.

    4. HoundMom*

      I did not try hypnosis but I had terrible morning sickness all through three pregnancies. My weapon was watermelon — easy on the stomach, came up easy if things were really bad but also hydrating and nutritious.

    5. Anon gyn res*

      Have a regimen you stick to and have meds on back up. Don’t be afraid to need a lot of meds. Be reassured that pregnancies with a lot of nausea/vomiting are more likely to make it to term.

      First line is doxylamine/pyridoxine (combo pill is diclegis). Next add on something like pepcid or Benadryl. Then reglan, then compazine suppositories. Zofran is one of the last lines (though ED docs always prescribe it first). Steroids if you can’t keep anything down but obviously last last line.

      I’m a resident in obgyn and see a ton of nausea/vomiting and I find one of the best things is truly for people to have a plan. Have medications you take every day regardless and have your back up scripts to keep you out of the hospital. Hope you can find a sympathetic ob!! I never heard of an unsympathetic one haha but I guess I go to a nice place for my residency! And our attendings love asking about nausea/vomiting of pregnancy so I guess they have to know the algorithm very well too.

    6. ten four*

      Zofran made my second pregnancy a breeze; I wish I’d taken it for the first.

      Also what’s with doctors who aren’t sympathetic and aren’t getting you a decent regimen?? Fun fact: feeling sick all the time sucks by definition!

    7. Blackcat*

      YMMV with comfort with this, but the only thing that gave me substantial relief was consulting with a traditional chinese herbalist. My doctor was not thrilled, but I hit a dangerous level of weight loss (I’m naturally thin, so losing >10lbs drops me to a BMI of ~17, which is heart-damage level thin in pregnancy) even after trying allll the drugs, so she begrudgingly said go for it. I also saw an acupuncturist which helped somewhat.

      I’d honestly look for a new medical practice. Everyone I’ve seen has taken my nausea very seriously, like daily phone calls level serious, and I have friends who have seen doctors who prescribe drugs for nausea very quickly and go for Zofran with any amount of weight loss.

      1. needsomehelp*

        Thank you to everyone who commented; I’ll keep all of this in mind (I love the watermelon idea! I cannot keep water down when dealing with this so that seems like a great solution). Zofran saved me last pregnancy but I felt guilty taking it. As for finding a new practitioner I have been with numerous midwives and family doctors and other healthcare practitioners (due to moving plus drs leaving their practice). I think I’ve just had a run of bad luck? Or maybe in canada they’re less sympathetic ? Lol. Mostly I’ve gotten “that’s a part of pregnancy”. Ah well. Thanks again!

        1. Blackcat*

          Weight loss and not being able to keep down water should not be considered “part of pregnancy” when we have medical fixes, IMO. Feeling crappy? Yeah, that’s part of the deal. But if you can’t drink water and you’re losing weight, that’s not normal and shouldn’t be treated as such.

          Any chance you’re also from a minority group? Asking a (non-white) friend today, she apparently had the exact same doctor that gave me Zofran tell her to suck it up.

        2. Observer*

          Zofran saved me last pregnancy but I felt guilty taking it.

          Why? The idea that there is something wrong with taking medication that “saved your pregnancy” just doesn’t compute.

          Of course if something like watermelon works, that’s great. But if not, take the Zofran. And, I don’t know whether it’s just Canadian medical care or a run of bad luck, but being unsympathetic about nausea that leads to that level of weight loss is just flat out bad medicine. Also, your medical team should have been actively encouraging you to take the medication that works, not letting you stew in guilt.

        3. Generic Name*

          Please re-examine why you felt guilty about taking a medication that saved your health and well being. Yes, nausea is often part of pregnancy, but one doesn’t have to suffer and risk their life or health for the privilege of carrying a pregnancy. It worked last time, so why not take it?

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I’m guessing some of the guilt is because zofran is category B, while diclegis is category A. I’m not saying it’s worth the energy to feel guilty about, and the doctor wouldn’t prescribe it if it weren’t doing more good than harm. It’s been widely used in pregnancy for decades. But if I’m right about where this is coming from, the OP isn’t coming to that feeling out of thin air.

    8. HannahS*

      Commiseration, no advice. I also was not at the level of hyperemesis, but felt like my doctors were REAL reluctant to help me out despite the fact that I was trying to work crazy hours during the second wave of covid as a resident doctor myself. I managed with diclectin, large amounts of ginger pills, and it wasn’t enough. I particularly don’t like my OB (honestly, she sucks) and will be switching after the baby is born.

  33. Chilipepper Attitude*

    Our retirement is about 8 or 9 years off and we are looking at what that might look like and what the next steps are as we retire.

    We have saved well and have ideas about what we want to do (maybe including cutting costs here and move to Spain part-time, or maybe full-time). But we realized there is a lot we don’t know about how to “take a paycheck” from our 403b and how to manage taxes (we have always done them ourselves, simple returns really) and maybe other basic things about retirement. We do know that we need to set up medicare and SS.

    We got a great referral to a tax accountant firm that also has financial planners and international expertise and we will talk to more than one company. But we were wondering if anyone has tips for us as we plan over the next few years or things to ask them that we might not think of.

    Basically, I want to learn from your mistakes and successes!
    Thanks!

    1. Lifelong student*

      Important- Medicare does not cover you overseas! If you are eligible for Medicare and do not sign up when first eligible, if and when you sign up later your premiums are higher. There are a few- but very few exceptions- so don’t neglect signing up without lots of info.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yes! Read up on Medicare and meet with multiple planners!
        Congrats on your nearing retirement!

      2. Girasol*

        Medicare for Dummies is a good book, and explained how very much I did not know about Medicare before retirement. (It was not at all what I thought it was.) I also read Get What’s Yours: The Secret to Maxing Out Your Social Security, which explained how Social Security has a ton of different provisions for different cases, and you need to understand all the rules that apply to you to get the most out of it. I did the same as you about tax – visited a good tax accountant, told him our plans, and asked his advice. He suggested that we begin ASAP to take more money than we need out of our IRA, pay taxes on it, and reinvest it in a ROTH IRA. At 72 you have to start drawing down an IRA (401K and 403b, too) by a specified amount each year. The mandatory draw down (called RMD) can be big and incur big taxes, so at our tax guy’s advice we’re making small non-mandatory withdrawals now, and paying small amounts of tax on it, to trim down what we’ll be required to take out and pay taxes on later when we hit 72. (That probably didn’t make a lot of sense, but ask your tax person and they’ll explain it better than I can.)

        1. fposte*

          The short term for what you’re talking about is “Roth conversions.” And yes, they can be a great way of spreading out the tax burden for maximum gain. That’s especially true for people who don’t take Social Security immediately upon retiring–there’s a window where your lower income allows you to convert more while minimizing the tax hit.

    2. fposte*

      I strongly recommend bogleheads dot org for this kind of discussion. “Retirement withdrawal mechanics” is an ongoing thread as well as a recurring topic, and there are plenty of excellent tax threads; there are also ex-pats who can give tips on retirement abroad. There’s also an excellent wiki.